Costco – Our Necessities

Shopping at Costco can be an overwhelming experience. There is just so much to see! And so many foods to sample! (Seriously…sample everything). Honestly, the only time that we were in and out of Costco in less than an hour was when we were ordering tires. Yep. You can order tires. (Seriously….they have everything!).

When shopping at Costco, keep in mind the following tips:

  1. Make a list. Do your best to stick to that list but be willing to purchase the yummy new food that you just sampled.
  2. Remember that not everything that you want will be there. Sometimes, they stop carrying items for a short time. Sometimes, they stop carrying items for a very long time.
  3. Understand that it will seem as though 90% of the suburbs are in Costco with you. Everyone is frustrated. Try to keep calm.
  4. Park your cart as far over to the side as you can. (See number 3).

We have several things that we always buy while there. Feel free to use this list as a starting point if you are new to the wonderful world of Costco. 🙂

Paper products: toilet paper, paper towels. You know that you will need these items so if you have the means to store them, stock up.

Beauty products: We buy deodorant, body wash, and razors! And there are frequently Oil of Olay products if you use any of those.

Baby products: I love the baby wipes! They are very soft and are so cheap! We never really purchased diapers because they never carried the brand that we liked for our girls. However, if you are in the diaper-buying stage, check what they are currently carrying.

Snack foods: We buy a lot of the lunchbox ready snacks like popcorn, veggie straws, string cheese, crackers, etc. They have it all.

Dairy: Cheese! We go through a lot of cheese in our house. And if you go through a lot of yogurt or Danimals, you can find those here too. Honestly, I am not a fan of the milk but give it a try because you might like it.

Grains: Buying cereal can be a great deal if you go through a lot of cereal. Not a great deal if you aren’t – the cereal will be stale before you get to the end of the box. Bread can be a good deal but you might need to freeze some.

Fruits and veggies: There can be great deals to be had, if you have the ability to freeze the fruits or veggies. The produce, in our experience, tends to go bad pretty quickly and there’s a lot of of it. So, buy it and throw it in the freezer. However, if you are planning a party, the large bags of salad are a great buy!

Freezer foods: This is so much better now that we have a chest freezer. Frozen pizzas? Throw them in the freezer. Frozen treats or desserts? Yep. In the freezer. If you do not have a chest freezer, I recommend being careful how much you buy. Remember, it will all have to fit somewhere.

Canned foods: You will almost always find cans of chicken stock and chickpeas and jars of peaches in our cart.

Bakery goods: The muffins are some of my favorites. I like them even more than muffins from the grocery stores that we buy from. They also have great croissants. Although we’ve never purchased a cake, you can get sheet cakes of almost any size if you need that.

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Throughout, you may seem us stocking up on seasonal items as well. It’s back-to-school so I purchased a new set of Sharpie markers. 🙂 You can also frequently pick up construction paper or pens. Right now, you can purchase Christmas decorations. (Yes, it’s a little early and there will probably be more selection in the coming weeks so you don’t need to rush in for this one.)

After all of that shopping, you’re hungry, right? Time to pick up a super cheap hot dog or a slice of pizza. You can also pick up a whole pizza  but that takes some time to prepare (so, start at the counter, place an order for your pizza, do your shopping, and pick up your pizza!).

So now I want to know, what are your Costco necessities?

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A Weekend at Mimi and Pa’s House

Usually, when we have a weekend at Mimi and Pa’s house (my hometown) we don’t have too much planned. This summer, however, we had an epic weekend because it was the weekend of my 20th high school reunion (20 years?!?!?!?!?) and it was also the weekend of the county fair.

So……..we did a lot. 🙂

Ryan and I went to my high school reunion.

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The next day, as a family, we went to the county fair. We went to the demolition derby (one of my favorite fair memories), ate some fried food, and rode some rides.

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We ended our trip with a trip to the playground, lunch at Cracker Barrel, and my mom and I went to swim aerobics (p.s. I want to find a place with year-round swim aerobics! So fun!!!).

The list thus far:

 

 

 

Some Not-So-Fancy Food

Some of my girls’ favorite foods are the very simplest foods possible. Peanut butter and jelly. Buttered noodles. Grilled cheese.

Some of their favorite foods to cook (in which they do most of, if not all of, the work) are also pretty simple.

They like to make cookies – the break-and-bake ones are amazing if you are trying to do this with kids. Yes, it is important to teach fractions and how to measure ingredients and all of that. But, seriously, these cookies are fine! And it means that you can have cookies whenever you want with very little effort (or mess to clean up!).

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Every summer, the girls put making banana pudding on the list of things to do. This summer, we learned that Lily doesn’t like banana pudding anymore…..So, although that might change in the future (she also decided that she doesn’t like string cheese, so who knows what she’s going to like or not like) making banana pudding probably won’t happen very often in the future. However, when we make pudding of any type, I like to make it in plastic cups. It’s easy to portion out that way and you don’t have a giant bowl taking up a lot of space in the fridge.

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The final food that the girls request to make every summer. Lemonade. And, not just any lemonade. The powdered stuff that takes all of two minutes to make. Well, it sure makes it easier to knock things off of the list.

Our summer list thus far:

Milwaukee – A Weekend Trip

We recently had a week long trip in Wisconsin. Some of that trip was in the Wisconsin Dells area (that will be a separate blog post) but the majority of the trip was in the Milwaukee area. My in-laws live there, Ryan grew up there, and there are some things that we always try to do/see/eat when we are there.

Milwaukee is so close to Chicago. If you have a free weekend, a quick Milwaukee trip is a great getaway!  It’s great for families! There are so many family friendly activities to do and places to go.

Places to go:

Head to Betty Brinn Children’s Museum – There are so many fun exhibits in this museum. One of our girls’ favorite sections is the Home Town section. This area is like a mini-Milwaukee and encourages lots of imaginative play. This whole museum is great for young kiddos!

Find a park – There are so many different outdoor areas that you can explore. Get outside and find an adventure!

Go to a beach – Milwaukee is right on Lake Michigan so there are lots of beaches. Atwater Beach is my favorite. As you can see in the pic above, it’s just beautiful. The beaches are generally clean, and actually fairly quiet. There are so many great family beaches. Definitely a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

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Visit Milwaukee Art Museum – This museum has a wonderful collection to explore and it’s not huge so spending some time here is not overwhelming for young travelers. They have, in my opinion, one of the best family programs. There is a studio space that is a lot of fun. When we went, there were two different art projects that you could participate in. One of the best parts of their family programing is that you can check out several different items to use in the museum for further exploration. We borrowed drawing materials to sketch art pieces that caught the girls’ eyes. We also borrowed fabric tubes that were so much fun! The instructions gave us the locations for a few pieces of art that matched and we got to just have fun! Seriously. So fun! And so different from any other museum experience that we have explored.

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Go to Discovery World – This is one of our favorite places to explore in Milwaukee. There are lots of cool science exhibits to engage with. Most of the exhibits are STEM related. There are a lot of activities that allow your child the change to learn about physics by doing hands-on experiences. There is also an aquarium! The aquarium is not as big as going to a stand-alone aquarium (like Shedd or someplace similar) but you can still see some interesting animals. You really can do a little bit of everything at this museum. One of the coolest things that you can do is to go for a trip on the tall ship S/V Denis Sullivan. What an amazing experience and a great way to get a different view of Milwaukee.

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Places to eat:

Cafe Corazon – This is one of our favorites. During one trip to Milwaukee, Ryan and I ate at Cafe Corazon three times in one week. That food is all good. The drinks are delicious!

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Cubanita’s – If you are in the mood for some classic Cuban food, this is your place in Milwaukee. My favorite? go on Monday for the daily special: arroz con pollo. Delicious comfort food.

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Kopp’s – If you are in the Milwaukee area during the summer and don’t go to Kopp’s, well, you’re not doing summer correctly! Go for the custard, of course. (And you can check in advance to check what the flavor of the day will be by looking at the website, or just driving by – it’s posted on the signage outside.) The custard and custard treats are all yummy, but their burgers are some of my favorite – anywhere.

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Sprecher’s – You can find Sprecher’s sodas at some stores outside of the Milwaukee area, but, there is just something about getting it from the source. There are several locations in Wisconsin (check the website). The drinks are good, there are sodas and beers! And the food is yummy and definitely family friendly. And, as you can see in the pic, for dessert you can get a flight…a float flight!

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Movida – One of my favorite types of meals is to get tapas. Yum yum yum. I was so happy to find a great place for tapas in Milwaukee. Not only does Movida have a great selection of tapas (seriously, look at that menu!), but they also have delicious churros for dessert!

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Have you been to Milwaukee? What are your favorite places to go? Where are your favorite places to eat?

 


Going to Granny and Pa’s house and having some Milwaukee adventures (going to the beach) were on our summer bucket list.

Our list thus far:

 

 

I Scream…You Scream…We All Scream

For ice cream!

We eat a  lot of ice cream throughout the entire year but we really hit peak ice cream time during summer. No wonder it’s always one of the items on the bucket list that we do much more than once.

Some of our favorite places for ice cream are:

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Kimmer’s

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Kilwins

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Bombobar

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Bodega Imports

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At Munchies

Where are your favorite places for ice cream?

Our bucket list thus far:

Super Easy Pasta Salad

During the summer, who wants to turn on the oven? No one. No one wants to turn on the oven. So, let me share one of my favorite summer time recipes.

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This summer salad is so simple and is super quick to throw together. Plus, the only thing that needs to be cooked is the pasta.

1) Cook your pasta (cook until just al dente). You can use any type of pasta that you have on hand.

2) Cut up veggies. Any veggies. I had green pepper, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and radishes. I also had some leftover grilled zucchini and corn from earlier in the week (this salad is a great way to use up leftovers, too). We’ve had lots of veggies on hand lately thanks to our Imperfect Produce deliveries! Try to be sure that everything is close to the same size.

3). Add the cooked pasta and your veggies into a large bowl.

4). If you want, you can add a protein. Shredded chicken? Tuna? Yum.

5). Drizzle with olive oil, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper.

6). Stir. Stir. Stir. Be sure that everything is lightly coated.

7). Now drizzle Italian dressing. Use whatever brand Italian dressing that you like.

8). Stir. Stir. Stir.

9). Taste. Does it need more salt? More pepper? How is the dressing? Do you need more?

And that’s it! Super easy. Super tasty. And the kids love it! You can even include them in the preparation of the salad. They can do the stirring. Or, they can practice cutting some of the veggies.

Finding All of the Green Food!

March means St. Patrick’s Day and the first signs of spring. (Also my baby sister’s birthday and my mom’s birthday!) The color green is everywhere! Green clothes worn on St. Patrick’s Day. The green leaves of tulips starting to come up. The Chicago River gets dyed green.

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Seriously! Look at that river! Soooooooooo green!

St. Patrick’s Day may be over but we still have more March. And you can still celebrate with green.

Are you searching for some green food? Well, let me help you out on your search!

1). Culver’s – Mint Concrete

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Get yourself a mint shake or concrete. This one pictured is a mint/Oreo concrete. Because, if you’re gonna have a concrete, adding Oreos is a pretty good plan.

2). McDonald’s – Shamrock Shake

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It’s the classic, right? Sort of tastes like mint. Sort of tastes like vanilla. Sort of tastes like sugar. Very very very green.

3. Public House – March’s Seasonal Cake Shake
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Yep. You want this. The cake shake has a piece of cake on top!!!!!! And has another whole piece of cake mixed into it. Plus – beer. Each month, Public House has a new crazy over-the-top cake shake. I’m looking forward to the April one because I’m guessing it’s going to be amazing.

4. Spunky Dunker’s – Easter Donut

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So, it’s not a St. Patrick’s Day themed donut but it sure is green (they do have a chocolate mint donut for the month of March if you want a little more of a minty-St.Patricks-taste). I originally thought that the jelly beans were just sitting on top….nope. The donut is basically hollowed out and has a jelly bean core. Yep. Lots of jelly beans.

5. Epic Burger – Green River float

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If you live in the Chicago area, you are probably already familiar with Green River soda. It’s green. Really green. And tastes kind of like lime jello (well, in may opinion it’s like lime jello). Well, for a very limited time, Epic Burger is turning it into a float. I actually like it better as a float – it kind of mellows out the lime flavor a bit. But, limited time means you need to get there soon! (Or Epic Burger, you could just offer it year round……just sayin’)

6. Labriola Cafe – Mint bar

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This one is not seasonal. You can get it whenever you want (or at least whenever they have it in their pastry case.) It’s super minty. Like astonishingly minty! So if you don’t really love mint, this might not be for you. But if you are a mint fan, go for it! Also, it’s huge!!!! So, you could definitely share. Or not.

 

Where are your favorite places to get green treats? Remember, March isn’t over yet!