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Sunday, August 2, 2015

New Yarn Storage

So I bought these storage things from Walmart a while ago with no ideas about what to use them for. They were about $3.50 each and I bought 6 of them so we're talking about $21 here. They kind of lock together so there isn't a worry about them sliding off of one another.

Anyway, I was cleaning my living room and these crates were just sitting there with no purpose and then it came to me! I had seen many yarn storage shelves that seemed so permanent and I love the way they look, but I need something that I can move for now. We're not done building my craft room/office yet. So here it is!

I think it looks pretty nice. Plus, I can see all the colors that I have. It case you can't see, I have 5 skeins of grey heather. I'm not sure why I kept buying it, but at least by viewing everything this way, I know that I don't need to buy that color for a while.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Arlington International Racecourse

2200 W Euclid Ave
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

My sisters and I decided to take my parents here to celebrate their birthdays. It turned out to be a great day. The weather was perfect. It turned out to be a beautiful day. Our server was very friendly (he even took a picture for us). The races were very entertaining. The kids had a great time. A couple of us even came out ahead with our bets! I would call the day a success.

My sister actually bought our tickets ahead of time. We wanted things to be nice so we got Executive Box seats. These were $17 per person. We went on a Saturday so the races started at 1:15pm. The gates to the track open at 12pm. And the gates to park open at 11:30am.

We decided to make some sandwiches and bring them to the park. They had tables near the entrance where we ate lunch. Then, we went to the area where they parade the horses. They bring them out 20 minutes before each race. Then, they get them ready for the race. After the the jockeys mount them, they walk one by one to the track 5-10 minutes before the race starts. This is a great time to see the horses. If you bring kids and they get restless, this is also a great time to stretch your legs.

There are places set up all over where you can make your bets. They have machines or you can place your bet with an actual person. This was my first time using a machine and I found it to be very easy. In the end, my husband and I won $11.20. Anything above $0 is a win for me!

Our seats were great. They were covered so we wouldn't get wet if it rained. We wouldn't get hot if it was too sunny. We could see everything really well. We ended up with 2 boxes right next to each other because we had 11 people. There are 4 padded seats that line the back of the box. Then, there's a large table with a TV that has 2 office chairs at it. The TV shows the race and everything that is displayed on the giant screen on the track. It can also pick up a couple other channels if you want to watch something else. Our waitor told us if the Cubs were playing, you could usually pick that up. To get your waitor's attention, you raise this little flag in front of your box.

Overall, we had a great time and we'll definitely be going back again.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Jelly Belly Factory in Kenosha, WI

We decided to drive out to the Jelly Belly packaging plant while we were in Kenosha. I had heard that you could take a tour. So we made our way out there. Apparently, we arrived at just the right time because there was a very large group of kids (like 40 or more) that showed up just after us.

You start out by waiting in this really long line. Now, it wasn't that long when we got there, but we still ended up waiting about 30 minutes. That was less than enjoyable, but sometimes you just have to tough out the line to get to the good stuff (or so we thought). Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that we went on the tour, but it was a little boring. We will definitely never do it again. You mostly watch screens with little videos telling you all about how Jelly Beans are made and the history. It was fine I guess. They ask you not to take pictures though. I guess it's a nice way to spend 20 minutes sitting down in the air conditioning.

The best part about us coming here was the gift shop though. They have a tasting bar where you can try any flavor that you want. It was great! I am surprised to tell you that the Pancakes and Maple Syrup flavor is pretty darn good! There are so many flavors that you can buy and different products (not just Jelly Beans). Plus, they have t-shirts and Jelly Bean dispensers and things that are hard to find in other stores.

I'm glad that we went, but if we ever go back, it will be just to buy some Jelly Beans.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


The Aquanuts is a group of young people in southern Wisconsin that compete in water skiing competitions. They do free shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6pm when they don't have a competition. We were visiting the Kenosha area in late June and decided to go see them. They were great.

First, you drive out to Lance Park at Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. There is a parking lot, but it fills up pretty fast. We ended up parking on the street. The street has a lot of clearly marked parking spaces. Then, you just follow the crowds of people headed to the showing area. You will see a ramp in the water. You have a couple choices on where to watch from. There is a seating like area. However, we chose to bring a blanket and sat on the grass to the side. If you walk around, you'll see people sitting anywhere they can find a spot. We attended on a Wednesday and it was packed.

Food. I saw plenty of people bring their own food and have picnics while watching. We meant to do this, but I accidentally forgot the food in the hotel room. No big deal. They had a concession stand to buy hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, chips, soda, etc.

The actual show was very impressive. These athletes clearly know what they're doing and they try to make the stunts and everything go with a storyline which I wasn't expecting. It took us about 40 minutes to get there from Kenosha, but I would say it was worth it. It's something different to do. And it's very entertaining. They take a break in the middle and ask for donations. Girls walk around with buckets. This is a free show so do think about donating. By the time they're finished with the everything, I believe it was about 50 minutes long.

Overall, we had a great time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Boathouse Pub in Kenosha

4917 7th Ave
Kenosha, WI 53140

We stayed at the Best Western on the harbor and the Boathouse Pub is just down the street from there so we chose this location to eat at while in town. Don't quote me on this, but it looked like they even had boat parking on the lake (and after checking their website, they do offer this!).
You have two choices for where to sit: inside or outside. We chose to sit outside because it was such a beautiful day and as long as the weather is good, I definitely recommend sitting out there.
Our waitress was so friendly. She was so nice to my son and very patient with him while he tried to decide what he wanted for dinner. He ended up having chicken strips, fries, and an apple juice. I had a taste and it was pretty good. I would say the kids menu is pretty on par with most kids menus that we're used to.
I chose to start off with a side salad. It came out nice and fast so that was good. I got the Barge Buster which is a ½ pound burger grilled and topped with cheddar, pepper, and swiss cheese, crispy onion strings, bacon and BBQ sauce and served on a toasted bun. It was seriously delicious. And huge. I only ended up eating about ½ of it. It came with fries, which were very good. Now, if you're the drinking type, I would suggest looking at their huge selection of Long Island Iced Teas. First of all, the list is huge. Second, they all look amazing. I only had the chance to try one of them and it was fantastic. I tried the Tidal Wave which has Blue Curacao and 7-UP in it. And these aren't small either. It's a large 32 oz.
The full menu is available online so check it out ahead of time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

North Beach Park and Kids Cove in Racine, WI

So after we spent an hour at the zoo, we decided to head down to the Kids Cove at the beach at North Beach Park. There are a couple parking lots down by the beach that you can park in and go to both the beach and the playground. I think this playground is a great addition to the beach. It was so much fun to play with my son. There is an area that is specifically for kids 5 and under. A couple times, we saw some older kids in there, but for the most part, it was all younger kids. The larger area is mostly unsupervised kids so if your child is in the in-between stage like mine is (age 5), you might want to keep an eye on them. We probably spent about 45 minutes at this playground. It was fun and a nice little break.

Then we headed to the beach. I was pleasantly surprised by everything this beach had to offer. There is a little concession stand (which we didn't buy anything from so I don't have much imput to add on that). There was a little area with hammocks over the sand. I love the beach, but I hate walking in sand. It makes my calves burn. So I was so happy when I saw that there was a plastic woven walkway down to the water. It was wonderful. The water itself was very cold, but not so much so that we couldn't wade in and splash around. I saw plenty of people further out than us. The beach seemed clean and there were lifeguards on duty while we were there.

Overall, I would definitely say to visit this beach while you're in the area.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Racine Zoo

2131 N Main St
Racine, WI 53402
(262) 636-9189

We arrived at the zoo and immediately turned to the right to use the restroom. These seemed to be fairly clean and easily accessible.
Then we headed to the Great Cat Canyon to look at the lions who were very easy to see. There are multiple viewing areas and it looked like there were 4 lions in there. We couldn't really see the other two animals in this area. They were hiding or something.
We then headed to see the penguins. This was disappointing. There were only 4 of them and they were huddled near the door. The other side is full of meerkats. They were fun to watch for a bit. Then we saw the mountain goats. They were laying at the very top which was neat.
We made our way to the Walkabout Creek. This was less than thrilling. First, the kangaroos and other animals were way in the back, hiding behind the plants and things. And the creek had no water in it due to a disease. We saw a total of two animals and we didn't get a great view of them.
Bear Ridge was also quite boring. The bear was hiding in the cave which you could slightly view from down below. However, it was so bright out and so dark in the cave, we saw a paw and nothing more.
We did take a little train ride. The train itself was cute and my son is 5 so he really enjoyed it. As an adult though, I found it to be very boring. The only animal the train went past was the bear (which I already mentioned you couldn't see) so you literally see nothing while on here. Plus, it costs $2 per person. Not outrageous, but not a steal.
My son really wanted to play at the Play Zoo (playground) – which I think is a really nice addition to the zoo for a little break – but there were a lot of older school-aged children there with some kind of kids day program so we didn't take advantage of this. It looked fun though.
It is located right next to the rhinos. Then is the camels where you can pay for camel rides. And then in the back corner are the giraffes. For $4 per person, you can feed them at certain times. You get 2 crackers per person to feed the giraffe. I thought this was interesting, but I didn't like that I was required to pay for both myself and my son (because he's under 10) when I had no intention of feeding it myself. So other than that, my son had a great time! Once he got over his initial fear, he loved feeding the giraffe.
We made our way past the pond to the monkeys at the vanishing kingdom. Then we left. We spent a total of an hour here and spent $26 for 2 people. That seems a little high to me, but I guess zoos need to get as much money as they can to stay alive.
Overall, I don't think I would return to this zoo because we didn't really have the greatest time, but it wasn't terrible, I guess. The one thing that made everything worth it was the giraffe feeding. So if that's something you've never experienced, I would recommend going.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Best Western Harborside Inn

5125 6th Ave
Kenosha, WI 53140
(262) 658-3281

My son and I really enjoyed our trip to Wisconsin and our stay at Best Western hotels are always great. This was no different. That being said, let's start with the things we didn't love:

This hotel doesn't look like much from the outside. In fact, it looks a little worn down. And there were some troubles with the doors going in and out of the building in the back. The breakfast wasn't amazing, but it was ok. It seemed like all the hot items had been sitting there since breakfast started over an hour before we ate. While not really the hotel's fault, I didn't see the password for the wi-fi in the key card holder until the day we left. You have to go all the way to the front desk to get towels for the pool. We were not lucky enough to get a room facing the harbor and we were on the first floor so our view was one of a wall. We could hear people being very loud in the hall while trying to sleep. But that's more about people being rude and not showing good hotel ettiquete than the walls being thin. One more thing, while they were cleaning our room, they took our dirty towels but never brought us clean ones. That was annoying.

Now that I've convinced you that you shouldn't stay here, let me tell you about all the wonderful reasons you should stay here.

You won't get a better view than the one of the harbor. If you are lucky enough to get a room that faces the harbor, it is goegrous. If not, you can still stand along the walkway by the parking lot in back to view this beautiful sight. The rooms themselves are nicely designed. There is a fridge and microwave in each room, which is a nice bonus. The room seemed very clean. You won't hear any complaints about the room from me. Another great thing is the pool. It's only 3 feet deep, which is amazing for kids. Plus, there is a seat on two of the walls so parents can sit and watch their kids play. The room also features very tall ceilings with huge windows facing the harbor. The price is very comperable to most other hotels. Plus, this is the only hotel anywhere near the water. And there is a beach fairly close by. And a couple restaurants.

In my opinion, the good outweighs the bad and I definitely recommend this hotel.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, IL

318 Spring Creek Rd
Rockford, IL 61107
(815) 229-9390

May 1st - October 31st the hours are:
Monday-Friday: 9am-6pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9am-5pm

Admission: $8/adult; $7/senior (62+); $6/child; free/children under 5; free/Garden Members

When you enter, head the desk to your right to pay and get your map. I highly recommend picking up some fish food while you're there (especially if you have kids with you). Trust me, you'll use it! In fact, think about getting a couple bags.
I should also point out that the restaurant is also located in this building. It just opened and I have not tried it, but know that it's there. I believe they serve breakfast and lunch.

Follow the map around to different areas. The gardens are so beautiful. There are little hidden areas with chairs located all around. We spent only an hour or two here because the forecast showed rain. However, if you are one that enjoys peace and quiet or a little meditation time, you could spend all day here.

Please note, while this place is mostly wheelchair and stroller friendly, I would only suggest this if you absolutely need to. I wasn't sure how entertained my son would be so I brought the stroller in case he got bored. For the most part, he really liked it because there was a waterfall and all the fish. However, since I brought the stroller, for the parts that aren't so stroller friendly, like the back half of the pond strolling garden, I ended up carrying the stroller which was not particularly enjoyable.

Overall, this is a great place to visit if you're in the area! It's absolutely beautiful! Here are some photos from our visit:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

State Farm Park in Bloomington, IL

To view an image larger, click on it.

The one and only downside to this entire place is that you have to be an employee (or an employee's spouse or child) in order to gain entrance to this park.

State Farm Park Guest Policy states:
Sunday-Thursday, before 4pm: Two guests per family or single employee (not per cardholder).
Friday-Saturday & Holidays, before 4pm: No guests are allowed (single employees may bring one guest at all times).
Daily, after 4pm: Two guests or one family unit are allowed per family or single employee (not per cardholder).


Pool Hours:

June 8 – August 16:
Tot Pool: Daily 10am-8pm

Adult Pool: Weekdays:
Lap Swim – 6am-9am
Day Camp – 9am-Noon
Open Swim – Noon-8pm
Lap Swim – 8am-10am
Open Swim – 10am-8pm

August 17 – September 7:
Tot Pool: Weekdays:

Adult Pool: Weekdays:
Lap Swim – 6am-9am
Open Swim – 4pm-8pm
Lap Swim – 8am-10am
Open Swim – 10am-8pm

Holiday Hours: Labor Day, September 7
Lap Swim – 8am-10am
Open Swim – 10am-8pm

Miniature Golf Course:
Spring and Fall Hours: April 4-May 22 & August 17-September 27
Weekdays: 4pm-9pm
Weekends: 10am-9pm
Summer Hours: May 23-August 16
Daily: 10am-9pm (Open until 10pm on Friday and Saturday)

Disclaimer: All of the following information and opinions do not come from State Farm. This is all based on personal experience.

If you are an out-of-town State Farm Employee, you can still visit here! You need to contact headquarters before traveling to Bloomington and they can send you guest passes for you and your family during the time that you are visiting. My sister, a State Farm agent, did this last year.

As you pull in, you will be greeted by a person at the gate. There, they will check your passes and then you will be allowed to enter. Here, you can see directions to the pool:

Here is a map of State Farm Park:

You can clearly see the pool and all the different courts. I marked where the mini golf course is. Off to the right, there is a frisbee golf course. The area in the middle is a large open grassy area where they have soccer goals during the summer. As you drive around, you will find 3 different playground areas plus many covered picnic areas. There are fountains in the ponds and during certain times, you can even fish in them.

Here is the pool:

I have labeled all the main areas of the pool. In the middle of the lazy river near the splash pad (that has little spouts of water that come up about 2 feet all over – perfect for the smaller children under 1, although many older children like to play here also), there is a jetted pool with an infinity drop area and a jetted pool with waterfalls.

There are two entrances to the lazy river. The pool with the 2 medium slides is about 2.5 feet that grows to 3 feet and then 3.5 feet. Flotation devices of all kinds are allowed in this section of the pool.

The lap pool area is just used as a deeper pool during open swim times. Life vests and arm floaties are allowed, but no tube-like devices are allowed in this section of the pool. The tot pool has a slide at the top of a treehouse-type structure. There are lots of different ways for kids to spray themselves and others and children under 4-feet will love this area. The splash pad has much larger spraying items than the one in the middle of the lazy river.

There are quite a few lifeguards (about 10-15) that look out for all the kids and adults swimming, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't still watch your children. Sometimes, they seem a little strict and some of them will tell you something is against the rules that you've been doing for a year prior, but they're mostly high school students, so you just move on.
The main building that you go in to get to the pool is where you will find the locker rooms (to the left after you enter) and the concessions (to the right). The concessions area is amazing. There is a TV that is normally playing kids movies. If it's not, you can always ask and the employees will turn on a movie. There is a nice indoor seating area and a large outdoor seating area that looks out over the pond. There is a fireplace that separates the two areas. The outdoor area is covered, but there are still seats in the sun. You can feed the fish off the outdoor deck area. As for the food, I personally think it's pretty good. They have chips, nachos, burgers, hot dogs, fries, chili cheese fries, fruit cups, veggies, funnel cakes, etc. And the prices are fairly decent. Sodas are $1 (no matter what size you get). This is a great place to stop. I believe this is also where you would go to buy other things too (like a towel, swim diaper, goggles, and a couple other items).

The mini golf area is very cool, too. You sign in at the entrance to the course (employee name, your name, and number of people playing). This is also where you get your club, ball, and score card and pencil if you choose to keep score. There is a putting practice area if you have to wait behind another group to go to the first hole. After the first 6 holes, you can choose to go straight and just do 9 holes or go to the left and do the full 18. The 9 hole course is handicap accessible. We always have a great time playing here.