Minnetonka Slippers Review


After an unfortunate incident that centered around stepping in something unpleasant, my trusty old Ugg slippers went sayonara.

I thought I scored the deal of the century when I ordered these beauties for half price:

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Until they never arrived and an inquiry showed me that Ugg canceled my order due to running out of stock.

They just forgot to tell me.

Back to ground zero.

Ever impractical, I selected style over function and ordered these:

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Here’s a top view:

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These are as cute as they look.

Two problems, though: the steep price tag makes me nervous about spilling things like coffee (read: red wine) on the pom poms, and the exposed toes are just not cutting it for Minnesota winters, when I often run outside for quick errands like taking out the garbage, getting the mail, etc.

I needed a back up plan.

If you haven’t shopped at 6PM.com, you’re missing out. I *think* this is where unsold merchandise from Zappos goes to die, and with diligence you can find phenomenal bargains. I’ve also had huge success on some occasions in finding a item from a season or two ago that I loved but is no longer available.

Searching for slippers led me to these:


These blush pink suede Minnetonka slippers were only $24.99. Full retail is $34.95, so even without a discount, these are an absolute bargain. They’re comfortable, non-skid, warm and completely solve my open toe problem.


6PM.com has about a dozen other pairs of Minnetonka slippers, all well-priced.



Great Wolf Lodge Review

Last weekend – against better judgment – Spouse and I took MGM (10) and Trixie (now 9) to the re-vamped Great Wolf Lodge, a hotel that is approximately 11 minutes away from where we live.


Ostensibly, this was a birthday celebration for Trixie. I shelled out an extra $30 to have a birthday sign placed on our door, along with balloons and a gift card to the arcade.

If you’re not familiar with Great Wolf resorts, they’re a chain of water parks. This particular location has only the indoor water park – which is about as appealing to me as taking a bath with a bunch to strangers  (to be clear: NOT appealing).

The hotel was previously a Radisson and was rebranded last year to a Great Wolf. While the physical structure is the same, the interior appears to have had a substantial upgrade.

We arrived around 4 PM to a full parking lot and overflowing lobby. There was some type of storytelling program happening in the lobby, which features comfortable seating groups and a huge working fireplace. This was nice. The kids received wolf ears at the front desk, a cute touch. Check-in was fairly efficient and we headed to our room to get ready for the waterpark.

A word about the room:

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This was a great set up for a family. There was a distinct bedroom with a king bed, plus a main living area with a set of bunk beds and a sectional sofa with a pull-out full bed. There was a mini fridge and microwave, as well as a gas fireplace with a big TV over it. The bathroom also had a practical design: there were two sinks outside of the toilet/shower area, so multiple people could brush teeth or get ready at once.

About ten nanoseconds after arrival, the kids were ready to hit the waterpark.

Photos are supposedly not allowed in the waterpark, but you can easily picture the chaos. There were plenty of babies in swim diapers, overweight adults walking around and drinking alcohol, packs of tweens and many, many interesting tattoos.

Even though the temperature was probably 70+ degrees inside the park, I was still freezing, especially when we had to climb up to the rafters to get to the entrances of the biggest water slides, which are inconveniently next to huge glass windows that let wintery drafts liberally enter the building. Being wet and cold while you stand in line for 20 minutes to ride an oversized inner tube for 20 seconds is a special kind of torture.

The kids, however, were in heaven and we stayed for about three hours at the waterpark. Some of the time I may have had multiple towels wrapped around me, mummy style.

I accurately predicted that the restaurants at the hotel would be crazy crowded, as well as the fact that we would all be hangry by the time we got back to the room. We’d brought plenty of snacks and food for dinner, so the microwave and fridge came in handy. One note of caution: there were no plates, utensils, etc, so plan to bring your own.

Once warmed up, we snacked, watched the Olympics and everyone was ready to turn in by about 10 PM. I was totally ok with that.

The next morning I woke up early and checked my email. There was a receipt from Great Wolf and I opened it for review. I was surprised to see a $45 charge at the pool bar, so I decided to investigate this while Spouse took the kids to the breakfast buffet.

An inquiry at the front desk showed that someone – not us – had charged two double Grey Goose martinis to our room. This was annoying but was quickly taken off of our bill.

And then things got interesting.

I decided to grab a coffee from the Dunkin’ Donuts stand off of the lobby (conveniently located next to a Ben and Jerry’s outpost). Everyone else at the Great Wolf appeared to have the same idea, so I was about 30 people back. The line inched forward oh-so-slowly as people acted like selecting a donut was a irrevocable, life-changing event.

I had time to kill and became aware of the two guys who were in line behind me. They were having one of those loud conversations you sometimes hear where it seems like the conversants are speaking mainly with the purpose of being overheard. Perhaps, too, I am just a champion eavesdropper. 

Here’s how it started:

I tell you what, Stacy Johnson sure ain’t like her mother. You can actually talk to her and she don’t look down on you.

These two gentlemen proceeded to spend the next twenty minutes debating the merits of leasing versus buying a new tractor (“I ain’t spending two hundred grand on a g-d tractor”), as well as how they needed to repair something called a skid loader. Also, people who live in the City are g-d fools, a sentiment that was repeated multiple times with increasingly colorful language.

This was exquisite.

Somehow, even though they were behind me, they got their order first (“Four plain coffees. PLAIN coffee. Not that fancy stuff. And four PLAIN donuts. We don’t want none with sprinkles or spice”). I took my coffee with light milk – no fancy donuts for me – and headed back to the room.

Via some miracle, neither kid wanted to hit the waterpark one more time before check-out. I thanked the Universe for small favors and agreed to let them do what they wanted, which was to check out the resort’s other indoor activities.

Here’s a look at the resort’s interior, with the waterpark in the background:


First stop: the arcade.


Trixie is oddly skilled at crane games and won an oversized bouncy ball.

Both kids also needed to get an egg from the Psychic Chicken:


This chicken cracked me up. There was a tiny monkey inside one of the eggs. Here is the monkey and me contemplating it:



The infamous Dunkin’ Donuts coffee makes an appearance

We also spent $26 on dirt. Yes, dirt. There is a “mining” experience where you can sift through a bag of dirt to find polished rocks and “gems.”


Other activities at the resort include a Harry Potter-esque game where you buy a wand and travel through the hotel to find clues to solve some kind of puzzle, a climbing wall, a Build-A-Bear rip off, a kids’ salon where you can get hair braids or glitter, and an overhead roped course. All of these come with an additional price tag, so be prepared.

I may have purchased two types of hair perfume from the kids’ salon.


These smell so good

And then, just like that, it was time to go.

Spouse was the first to declare the night a huge success.

Everyone had fun.

We were physically active.

We all got a good night’s sleep.

The kids got along great and also were able to choose things to do that made them happy.

The short distance made getting home a breeze.

I got my coffee and eavesdropping fix in one fell swoop.

My final thoughts on the Great Wolf Lodge: Prepare to shell out cash. Even though this was a staycation, it came with a price tag. Strongly consider booking one of the rooms that easily accommodate families. I was pleased with the set up and condition of the room. If you go in the winter, bring cozy PJs to wear post-waterpark. Bring lots of snacks, possibly even a whole meal, and of course wine, plus any needed utensils. My favorite time was when we could all snuggle on the big sofa, fireplace on, watching the Olympics and enjoying being together.









Trixie’s Barbie Cake

Yesterday Trixie turned 9.


Time, please slow down.

Since she has severe celiac disease, our usual birthday routine is to make a (meager) boxed gluten-free cake.

This usually involves over-baking, spills, fingerprints in the frosting and aching teeth from the glaring sweetness of it all.

In other words, it’s often not worth the calories. I’ll save mine for Chardonnay.

But this year I had an ace up my sleeve: one of the embryologists at my work is not only an excellent scientist, she’s also a genius cake creator.

And everything she makes is gluten free.

Trixie didn’t know I was ordering a custom cake, so I had to vaguely ask her about various preferences.

Things she likes: rainbows, glitter, dolls.

All came together in this beauty.


I picked out the Barbie that I thought would tolerate the most frosting, but that was the extent of my effort (minus driving the cake home in a snowstorm, avoiding every icy patch and hoping that my plan to use the front seatbelt to keep the cake safe would work. It did).

The inside was a spectacular surprise:


It was also absolutely delicious.

Spouse and I both agreed this was worth stretching our diets a bit. The kids each had two pieces at the birthday dinner and another one for breakfast the next morning.

Family motto: Eat cake for breakfast.


Birthday score!





Becca Cosmetics: The One Brush

A couple of weeks ago, I had a lonely Saturday where I basically threw myself a pity party.

Not exactly pretty behavior.

It was freezing cold, Spouse was gone for the weekend, the kids were climbing the walls yet didn’t want to go anywhere, I had to work (they were reluctantly dragged along), etc.

Oh, and it was my Birthday.

The most embarrassing part of this day was that I left QVC on in the background.

QVC is an extremely guilty pleasure. 

It never occurred to me to watch it until once when I was home on maternity leave with MGM (now 10), up in the middle of the night, disoriented from lack of sleep, and bored.

While channel surfing I rested on QVC, and they were selling Philosophy skin care kits. After half-watching for 20 minutes, I felt like a new skin care kit would definitely improve my life. Click, buy.

Since then, I’ve generally done a good job of NOT buying from QVC. Really.

But I still sometimes sneak peeks, and every once in a while, they even have exclusive offerings on brands I genuinely like (Bobbi Brown, Barefoot Dreams).

Back to that fateful Saturday: the big deal of the day (is that what it’s called?) was a Becca Cosmetics set that included highlighter, foundation, skin primer, eye brightening concealer, and lip gloss.

The lip gloss got me first.

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It’s sparkly and peachy, two things I adore.

Click, buy.

All of this was about $60. The gloss is everything I wanted. The eye brightener is also better than I’d hoped. I’ve been layering it over my usual concealer and it really delivers on the glow.

I don’t usually use a primer, but I’ve given this a few chances and it does not disappoint. I wear it under my Bobbi Brown tinted moisturizer and can see a (good) difference.

The powder highlighter is supposedly one of the line’s star products. It’s finely milled and gives a nice golden glow. I still like Bobbi Brown shimmer brick better, but this is ok.

The foundation’s formula was good but the color was off. This is my fault; I should have followed my gut and ordered a different shade. I picked the lightest one and it is just too light.

Researching the brand, though, I discovered that another of their best sellers is this brush:

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Called The One, here’s Becca’s description:

A true beauty multitasker, this brush can be used with liquids, creams, powders and anything in between.

It retails for $49.

I have a lot of cosmetic brushes that I’ve either bought or received as freebies over the years, so this didn’t immediately seem like something I’d be interested in.

Yet – I loved the idea of this being the one tool that can replace up to 10 others.

Amazon also had deals on this exact brush from third party sellers for as low as $15.

That price made it worth a try.

One thing that surprised me is the size of the brush. It’s a lot bigger than I expected.


For reference, it’s about the size of a deck of cards.

It also lives up to its billing as an allover brush. I’ve been using it for bronzer or a quick dusting of translucent powder, and it’s extremely efficient due to the wide brush head. The bristles are short and somewhat stiff, but not prickly in any way.

This would be perfect for travel. Even though the size isn’t compact, the utility of this brush would earn it a place in a travel bag.

Of all the Becca products above, I’d recommend the gloss, the eye brightener and the brush, especially if you can find it for less than $20.









Athleta Sets the Mood

Athleta puts together looks that are so aspirational to me.

Like this:

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This outfit evokes a desire to live somewhere that makes me feel relaxed, comfortable, peaceful and happy.

Someplace simple and clean, where the windows and maybe even doors are wide open.

Candles are lit. Possibly there’s a fire, although it is not necessary.

Bonus points for the sounds of the ocean.

In this scenario, I am not cleaning up after our dog, hibernating indoors due to subzero temps, stepping on Lego pieces with my bare feet, and generally existing in a world that is 180 degrees from my current iteration.

Both worlds contain wine, though, just to prove I’m still Me.


P.S. The shoes in the picture above are not currently for sale at Athleta. I had to track them down, but if you love them, they’re the Vionic Women’s Splendid Lou X Band.




The One That Got Away

Last week I posted about house hunting.

Spoiler: the search goes on.

Spouse and I have been going back and forth about putting in an offer on a groovy 70s house.

Not this one. Possibly worse looking.

It’s so intimidating, though.

The 70s house needs A LOT of work. The punch list starts with:

  • New master bath
  • Convert an upstairs bedroom into a master closet
  • Re-configure an upstairs hallway bathroom to an en suite with one of the bedrooms
  • New lighting fixtures in the dining room, kitchen and entry
  • New front doors
  • New garage doors
  • De-popcorn ceilings EVERYWHERE

Plus we are without sufficient furniture for at least nine rooms. The 70s house is huge.


We asked our realtor to write an offer on Thursday night, and then like magic! I found a brand new house in our neighborhood that called my name.

We asked him to set up a showing at the new property. This was Friday after work and he had an event to attend. He showed up in a tuxedo.

While the house wasn’t 100% to my taste, it came really close.

The inside was light and bright. The lines were clean.

There were two master bedrooms. The bathrooms were free of popcorn ceilings, tacky gold fixtures and wallpaper.

It smelled NEW.

I even loved the doorknobs.

It had price and location going for it. I loved the design of the interior, not to mention the sound system, energy efficiency and other high tech features.

But the tiny garage – with zero room on the lot to expand – made it a non-starter.

We had to immediately cross it off the list.

I wanted to sob.

Our realtor had brought all of the paperwork for the offer on the 70s house, but I was too sad about losing my dream of a modern house to sign at the moment. The realtor was gracious but I am sure he was not impressed by how wishy washy we (ok, me) were.

Spouse and I spun round and round on Friday night and Saturday morning, trying to decide what to do.

I think I am over-thinking at this point.

Historically, I have viewed the inability to make a decision (a non-decision, if you will) as a decision in itself. Having to hem and haw, and then talk myself into the 70s house probably isn’t the best case scenario.

The search continues.






One of The Few Things I Bought For Spring

I’m going through one of my phases where I feel like my closet is exploding, and while I have too much to wear, I still seem to have nothing suitable for most occasions.


Not my closet, but you get the gist.

I’ve also lost some weight recently and I’d rather strive to fit into the aspirational pieces of my wardrobe (they already exist, sigh) than buy something new that may prove to be transitional.

Plus I need to save money for a new house and move what I do have into it, so the net sum of all of the above is that I’m not acquiring at my usual pace.

This is something that feels quite good.

I saw this scarf on a capsule wardrobe blog that I love, Classy Yet Trendy. 

[I really, really like the styles put forth at Classy Yet Trendy. The author puts together multiple capsule wardrobes each season – French minimalist, athleisure, work outfits – and I find myself loving most of the picks. I’m ultimately striving to be like this].

Back to the scarf:

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This Gap scarf combines so many of the on trend colors of Spring 2018 (dusty pink, olive, sky blue) in a cute camo print.

I had to have it.

There are so many ways to wear this. It would look great to dress up or down. I think it would look fantastic with a chambray shirt.

Here is is with an open gray cardigan from J. Crew Factory (bought last fall):


Ok, let’s try that again:



The colors are slightly more vibrant than in the photos.

This scarf is also currently on sale for $21 at the Gap. So glad I bought it for spring.