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Tag: food (page 1 of 7)

What To Do In OMAHA

As our time at Offutt AFB is winding down, I’m thinking about my favorite things to do in Omaha and hoping to squeeze in visits to each place before we move!  After living here for three years, my attitude towards this city has certainly changed (and so has Caleb’s).

Today I’m sharing recommendations of what to do when you’re in Omaha.  These are things that we’ve enjoying doing or places

I’m only recommending things that we’ve actually done and enjoyed, but if you have additional things, I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

 

What To Do in Omaha

 

When You First Move Here:

Start with the zoo!   It is currently ranked as the best zoo in the world!  If you’re a military family, go ahead and get a membership.  Military members pay $65 for an annual family pass and it is worth every penny.  We love to go in the summer, but go fairly often in the winter as well since there are many indoor exhibits (our favorites are the Jungle and the aquarium).

If the weather is nice, eat at the Omaha Steaks patio (outside the Jungle).  And make sure you take a carousel or train ride (or both!).

When You Have Out-of-Town Guests:

We’ve taken guests to do almost everything on this list, but there’s one place that we take all our guests to: The Old Market.

There’s a shop for everyone here.  My sister and brother-in-law found some great stuff in the record shop.  Another sister loved the vintage clothing store.  We always stop in the toy store to let Hadden play for a few minutes, but his favorite place to go is the candy store that has a mechanical horse.  We save up our nickels if we know we’re headed up there!

There are lots of great places to eat in the Old Market, so we always take guests to one of those restaurants.  We really like Plank and have eaten there several times with our toddler and with guests (get the artichoke appetizer and the blackened catfish entree!).  But also recommend Blue (try the Hotel Cali roll) and Roja (it’s a margarita bar, so I’m a bit partial!).  If your party only includes adults, you should definitely eat at La Buvette, especially if the weather is nice and you can sit outside.

Plan to stop at Ted and Wally’s for a scoop of ice cream.  Their flavors change often, but my favorite was a blueberry custard so if you see it on the menu, get it and thank me later.

Tip: if you’re bringing a baby with you, plan on wearing them in a sling or a carrier.  The stores are not stroller-friendly!

When You Want to Learn About the City:

We love the Durham Museum.  It’s just outside of the Old Market so you can do those at the same time.  It’s located in the old Union Station terminal, which means it is a fabulous art deco building.  And a yearly membership for a military family is only $35.  We both have learned a lot about the area from visiting this museum and Hadden loves it too because there are many train exhibits.

Boys Town is another interesting place to visit.  We’ve taken guests on several occasions and they all liked it as well.  The village is set up so you can do a driving tour through it, but there are opportunities to get out and walk through the museum, chapels, and Father Flanagan’s house.

Tip:  If you’re headed up to Boys Town anyway, have a meal at Pig & Finch!  We had a great brunch there!

parade ground at Offutt AFB

parade grounds at Offutt AFB

When You’re Pinching Pennies:

Here are a few ideas that are completely free for those days when the money is tight, but you still want to get out and do something!

Walk the Pedestrian Bridge that spans the Missouri River, connecting Nebraska and Iowa.  We often take visitors here the first night they arrive so they get to stretch their legs after a long drive (or flight) and then head to Ted and Wally’s (mentioned above) for ice cream.

If the weather isn’t cooperating with plans to be outside, you could visit the Joselyn Art Musuem and easily spend a full day there.

Finally, if you have access to base, the Heartland of America band puts on a series of concerts on the parade ground in the summer.  We actually took Hadden to one of these when he was just 8 days old and have gone every summer since.  Everyone brings lawn chairs or blankets and sits on the parade grounds.  It’s a relaxed, fun environment and we always enjoy the concerts.

When You’re Looking For Something New To Do:

Head to Dundee!  Mark’s Bistro or Pitch Pizzeria are both good picks in the area for dinner.  At Pitch, make sure you try the Basil Pesto Chicken Pie and get a carafe of sangria.  If you have a bit of time before your table is ready, stroll the street and explore the shops.

Looking for a casual place to eat?  Check out Amsterdam Falafel and Kabob.  One thing we haven’t tried in Dundee is eCreamery, a famous ice cream shop, but we’ve heard great things.

When the Weather is Nice And You Can’t Bear to Stay Inside:

If it’s one of the days where the sky is perfectly blue and you want to soak it up, head to Lauritzen Gardens and spend an afternoon amidst beauty.  If you have little ones, walk up the hill to Kenefick Park and see two huge steam engines.  (Kenefick Park is actually free and you don’t have to pay admission to the gardens to see it, so we’ve gone before just to see the trains)

You could also check out the farmers market at Aksarben Village or in the Old Market.

When You Have Something to Celebrate

Make reservations for an elegant dinner for two at V. Mertz.  Caleb and I ate here in January to celebrate his birthday and to have one last date before he deployed.  It was the best meal I ever had and I am incredibly disappointed that we won’t have a chance to go again before we move! Plan to drop a good chunk of change here, but know that it will be worth every cent.  It’s located in the passageway of the Old Market.

While we’ve been in Omaha, we’ve also been to the Orpheum Theatre a couple times to see traveling Broadway shows.

When You Don’t Want to Drive Into the City

Driving into the city from base is ridiculously easy, but still, there are days when you want to stay close to home.  You can’t be stationed at Offutt AFB without eating at Stella’s at least once so take a day to do that.

Also you can visit Fontenelle Forest, located right in Bellevue.  We’ve only been once so I can’t say much about this, but I’ve heard the the trails are beautiful so I’m hoping to make it out there again before we move.

Okay!  Those are MY favorite things to do in Omaha.  What are yours??

P.S.  If you’re moving to Offutt AFB, you might also be interested in my posts about base housing found here and here!
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Three Types of Annoying Chick-Fil-A Parents

**In case it isn’t clear, this post is supposed to be humorous – no need to be offended**

We eat at Chick-fil-a for two reasons.  Neither of which have to do with their (or our) politics.  Here they are:

1. We like their food

2. They have a play place!!!!!!!!!!!

(Usually I look down upon excessive use of exclamation points in blog posts, but here it was necessary.  The fact that Chick-fil-a has a play place truly warrants all eleven of those exclamation points.)

And to be clear, it’s not just any play place.  It is a clean, well-kept, indoor playground that also happens to be toddler friendly.

Most of the time that we go to Chick-fil-a, it’s actually the play places that draws us more than the food.  We really like their food and the customer service and clean restrooms.  But the fact that our son will happily play for awhile after we’re eating and expend all of his pre-bedtime energy in that tiny glass room?  That.  is.  awesome.

After many hours spent sitting in Chick-fil-a play places in various states and have come to a realization: I come out  loving the other parents in there.  Or I come out hating them.

One day I started talking with a fellow mom.  We were the only ones in there that morning and our two boys were playing well together.  By the time we left we realized that we were neighbors and had promised to get the boys together again to play.  Since then we’ve been to each other’s houses, met at the park, and, of course, went back to Chick-fil-a so the boys could play.  We’re friends now thanks to that morning at Chick-fil-a.  (true story)

Another time when we were out of state and visiting Chick-fil-a a lot to get Hadden’s wiggles out, I kept seeing the same mom in there at all the same times I was there (three or four times in a week).  The second time we saw each other we laughed about it.  The third time?  It was hilarious.  Once we started talking we found out that we had a lot more in common than just our superior taste in fast food. We connect on Facebook after that.  She was one of those people who I instantly liked.  I’m still hoping that we’ll be stationed at the same base some time because I’d love to get to know her more.  (Also a true story.  Actually, all the stories in here are true)

Most times I am in there I strike up a conversation with a parent or two and usually enjoy small talk for that short time.

But other times I leave the play place FUMING at other parents.  Or I’ve spent half the time whispering snarky things to my husband.

Who are these parents who get me so upset?  And how to do you know if you’re one of them?

Here’s my handy guide to the three most-annoying types of Chick-fil-a parents:

The Bench Hog

If you’re the only parent in the play place, take up as much room as you want on that bench.  Seriously. Spread out.  Put all your belongings on it.  Lay down for all I care!  But if another parent joins you in the room, just scoot all your stuff over to make room for them.  Super easy.  And super kind.

The Oblivious Social Butterfly

I’m cool with socializing.  After all, I just told you multiple stories of how I’ve made friends with complete strangers.  But for heaven’s sake, keep a close eye on your children.  Last week I had to tell a young boy to remove his hands from my chest.  His mother was too busy talking to even notice that it happened.  #awkward

The Hands-Off Parent

Similar to what I said about the bench hog parent, if your child is in the play place alone, I really could care less what they do.

But when the play place is full of kids, how about you enforce the laws of common decency for the good of all?  Like stopping your child from climbing UP a crowded slide.  Or asking your child to stop shrieking endlessly for no good reason.  Or requiring that your child stop pushing, hitting or yelling at other children.

Kids are kids so I certainly don’t expect them to behave perfectly.  That’s why this post isn’t written about three types of annoying kids at Chick-fil-a.  But I DO expect that parents pay attention and correct their children to make the play place fun for all.

 

So what’s my solution to these annoying Chick-fil-a parents?  I’m memorizing that line from the serenity prayer.  Whenever I get twitchy about another parent’s actions (or inactions), I’m going to repeat “accept the things you cannot change, accept the things you cannot change, accept the things you cannot change!!”  And I’ll probably angry text my husband about how much the other parents bug me.

I’d write more on this subject, but, you see, we’re going to a play date…at Chick-fil-a!

 

**To be clear, I received NO compensation or recognition from Chick-fil-a for writing this post.  It was based on my own experience and written purely for the fun of it.

 

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Attention World: I have found the recipe for the BEST EVER chocolate chip cookies

 

If you noticed, I skipped last week’s Work at Home/Stay at Home post and I’ll be doing the same this week.  But it will start back up next week and finish mid-August.  Until then, enjoy this recipe!

My friend’s husband was deployed and I wanted to do something small to help out.  I offered to bring them a meal.  I can’t remember why, but that week must have been rushed because the meal part of the meal wasn’t that great.  I think I brought a rotisserie chicken along with some grapes and carrots, so I didn’t actually do any cooking.  Kinda embarrassing since I offered to bring them a meal!!

To counteract the humiliating meal, I went all out on dessert.  And isn’t dessert what really counts anyway?

I make cookies, so it wasn’t a fancy dessert, but these cookies were phenomenal.  Really.  I’d always heard people talk about having “the best chocolate  chip cookie recipe” and sorta rolled my eyes because I never found one that lived up to the hype.  There were a few bad recipes.  And lots of good recipes.

But this recipe was IT.

My friend thought so too.

So now I’ve named them in her honor to differentiate between it and other chocolate chip cookie recipes.  They’re Liz’s Cookies, not because she gave me the recipe, but because whenever I pull up the recipe, I think of her.

 

 

I’m sending you over to Sally’s Baking Addiction so that she gets the credit she deserves and gets the page views for this recipe.

One of the things I love about this blog post is that Sally explains each step of the recipe and why it is necessary.  I’m always interested in the science behind baking because it allows me to adjust and improve recipes.

Sally’s post is excellent.  Follow her directions perfectly and you’ll be doing great.  But let me add a few notes of my own to make sure you get the best results possible.

  • When you mix in the chocolate chips, make sure the batter is cool.  Since this recipe calls for melted butter, I’ve rushed this step a couple times and all of my chocolate chips melted.  It still resulted in delicious cookies (or so say my husband’s airmen), but I really didn’t like the look of swirled chocolate.
  • I don’t follow Sally’s baking time religiously.  I keep a very careful eye on the cookies and know when I want them to come out.  It’s not uncommon for me to pull them out to check and place them back in for just 30 more seconds to achieve the perfect degree of bakedness (my computer says that’s not a word, but I’m too tired to think of what the correct word would be).  They need to be quite under-baked, but still baked enough.  Confusing, I know.
  • LEAVE THEM ON THE PAN TO COOL.  Sally says this in the recipe, but I want to make sure that you do it.  This usually means that I only make two pans at a time and save the rest of the dough for later (even if it’s just an hour later).  The reward for this small annoyance is great.  Or you could just buy extra cookie sheets.
  • She says it in the recipe, but I want to reiterate: use parchment paper.  Don’t add extra grease to the tray.  I’ve changed over to parchment paper for almost all of my baking and I doubt I’ll go back to grease.  It’s worth it.
  • I’ve only ever used chocolate chips because I prefer them, but if you like chunks, go for it!  (When my husband read this he said, “Ohhh!  We should try chunks!  That sounds really good.”  He’s very enthusiastic about cookies)

Now you have the recipe for the BEST EVER chocolate chip cookies (or Liz’s cookies, if you’re me). Your family and friends will love you.   Go forth and bake.

(And make sure you come back here and let me know what you think of the BEST EVER cookies)

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