Saturday, April 28, 2018

Girls' Getaway to Eaglewood Resort

My friend Joan and I headed a few hours away to Itasca, Illinois, for a short girls’ getaway at Eaglewood Resort & Spa.

You could see the golf course from the balcony in our room. The Deluxe Room is quite large and suitable for a small family.

The spa and fitness center are located in a building across the parking lot from the rooms and other common areas. 
The pool center at Eaglewood is set up to be enjoyed year-round.

It’s totally enclosed in the winter and one side opens up in the summer so you can sit around a patio and enjoy the Olympic-sized pool with accompanying whirlpool.
During the warmer months, they also serve cocktails and snacks out there.

Three separate rooms were in the fitness center, all with all new equipment. One room had state-of-the art machines.
 The second was all about weights, and the third was for classes. We saw someone in there stretching.

Within the fitness and spa area Eaglewood Resort also has its own bowling alley, complete with snacks and a full-service bar. 
It’s a really cool place to hangout when it’s not outdoor season. There were tables for groups and families too.

Guests of the resort can use the facilities of the spa (including a steam room and sauna) at any time.

Day packages are also available if you’d like to just come for the spa and its amenities.

The spa menu here is quite impressive. It covers an array of body treatments, massages, facials, and nail offerings.

I always like to try a signature treatment when I have the opportunity. I chose the Eaglewood Indulgence.

I was relaxed and my muscles felt better than they had in years by the time I left there.
Since it was too early for dinner and too late for lunch, we stopped at The Market for coffee and muffins.

It’s a unique store on the ground floor that combines a little grocery shop and a coffee counter. 
They have prepared food and sandwiches, and even make pizzas.

After a little nap, we had dinner downstairs at the Prairie River restaurant.

We had hoped to eat out by the fire pit, but it was a cool evening so we stayed indoors.
Joan ordered the House Barrel-aged Old Fashioned and I had a glass of their White Peach Sangria, also made on the premises. Both were very good.
We were hungry and couldn’t make up our mind what to get for dinner, so we went ahead and ordered appetizers.

Ramon’s Street Tacos were excellent. They were filled with peppers, onions, and steak, which had been marinated and was quite tender. 

The guacamole served with it were also good.

Joan ordered and enjoyed the Salmon Bites on the recommendation of the waitress. 

They were served with a garlic horseradish crème and think potato crisps.

While we thought the Petite Sirloin and Shrimp combo would be served like a Surf & Turk, it actually came in a stack. Joan really liked it.

I had a soft and flavorful pork tenderloin in a Shandy BBQ sauce.

It was served with a leek and cauliflower mash and a side of broccolini.

All the vegetables we had were fresh.

We couldn’t resist the dessert list when we saw it. We decided to get two different ones and share.

The first was a Mud Pie. At Prairie River they make it with an Oreo crust and fill it with Bailey’s and Kahlua ice cream. It’s then topped with a fudge sauce.

I don’t think I have to say how good that was!

The other dessert was also fantastic. It was called Chocolate Marble Xango. Cheesecake-filled burritos were fried and served alongside a chocolate sauce that was thick like a pudding.

We headed back to our room right after dinner. It had been a relaxing day and evening.

It was the perfect girls’ getaway, and we still had a little more time to go at Eaglewood Resort &Spa.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Art and Food in Lafayette, Indiana

My friend Jaimee and I had arrived in Lafayette, Indiana, the previous day for a quick getaway.

It had been a few years since I was here and I had no idea how much there was to see – and eat.

We woke up in our spacious two-bedroom accommodation at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Lafayette .

Although the hotel offers a big complimentary breakfast, we already had plans for brunch at Town & Gown Bistro.

Town & Gown is much bigger than it looks on the outside. It has two floors and they were both full of patrons.

Matt O’Neill, former innkeeper and chef at Walden Inn, and author of “Seasons at the Walden Inn,” has made a name for himself in this city.

It was easy to figure out why after we finished eating. 
Chef O’Neill uses fresh and local ingredients and puts his touch on common brunch items. 

Jaimee raved about her eggs benedict, and I thought the house-made corned beef hash was fantastic, as were my latte and eggs.

After we finished eating, we headed downtown for our art-filled day.

The first stop was at L.E. Originals, where Linda Elmore gave us a demonstration on how she makes her beautiful beads.

It was very interesting and I enjoyed looking at all her designs in the shop. 

Among them are the beads she creates from photographs, something she is awaiting a patent on.

Linda gave us each a bracelet with one of her beads before we headed down the block to Artists’ Own.

Artists’ Own is a cooperative for Indiana artists. 

Within the large space, they sell everything from stained glass to pottery, paintings to handmade clothing. 

We looked around at the vastly different items for a while before purchasing a few things and heading out.

I was very impressed with the Art Museum of Lafayette. It’s an art haven for the community.

Although we saw a few exhibits (they change often), I liked learning about the classes they gave for adults and children, as well as summer camps. 

We even took a look into the pottery studio.

We had lunch at a popular spot downtown, RedSeven Grill

Jaimee got a Sex in the City cocktail to start (Blue Curacao, Peach Schnapps, Chambord, Grey Goose Vodka, and pineapple juice) and we shared an appetizer of Chicken Pot Stickers, which were delicious.

For main courses, Jaimee loved the steak-filled Black and Blue Salad. 

I had a bowl of their homemade tomato bisque and some of their very tasty Pecan Chicken Rollups.

We didn’t have dessert at RedSeven because we knew or last stop of the day was at a bakery, however, we were still too full to do any sampling. 

Sweet Revolution Bake Shop graciously packed up a box filled with goodies, which we thoroughly enjoyed over the days. 

Although I usually favor chocolate treats, their vanilla cupcakes and light and airy French macaroons are out of this world. 

The Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie is also a must-try.

The Bakery, led by pastry chef Sarah McGregor-Ray, who has partnered with brother Jonathan McGregor, was known in the neighborhood for years at the local Farmer’s Market.

They opened this busy shop last summer. Don’t go to Lafayette without making a stop there. 

Check for the best hotel prices in Lafayette now at TripAdvisor. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Year of Dosh

When I was approached by Dosh a year ago to be an influencer for them I really had no idea what the app was going to be about and whether it would even be around a year later. I was certainly wrong.

The Dosh app has been extremely successful and my year of helping it grow has come to an end. It’s certainly not going to be the end of my relationship with Dosh. 

Like all of you can, I’ll continue to get cash back through the easy to use application, as well as referral fees (right now they are giving $15 for each friend you recommend).

I look at the application often because I never know what deals are running in addition to the referral bonuses. This weekend, for example, you can get 10% cash back on everything you purchase at Sam’s Club through Dosh.

I know a lot of people already have a bunch of cash back applications on their computers and phones. I definitely do. There are a lot of other good ones, such as Mr. Rebates and Ebates, but the fact is that you don’t have to pick one.

I have them all! Who doesn’t need a little extra cash? It only takes a little time to download and set up Dosh, and they’ll even start you off with some free money for entering a credit card in their secure system.

I find Dosh to be one of the easiest because it also works when I’m out shopping and eating. The money I get back is easy. It just gets deposited in my Dosh account right after I make a purchase at places such as Chilis, Payless, and Papa John’s. There’s even a 3% deal going on now at Mattress Firm.

Finally, don’t forget that Dosh also offers great deals on hotels, in addition to getting cash back. You’ll also receive a $25 bonus for your first hotel booking. I’ve found hotel deals around the corner (Did someone say staycation?) and around the world.

Now’s the time to finally set aside those ten minutes to download and signup with Dosh. While you’re at it, pass the information along to a few friends (you can find you’re “Refer” button at the bottom of any page in the app) and grab that extra $15 for each while you can.

Congratulations to Dosh for helping ordinary people earn easy money for a year. They’ve given away millions!

Here’s how you do it:
1. Go to the App Store and download the DOSH cash back app on your iPhone, Samsung, or Google device.
2. Put in and verify your email address.
3. Click on the little “person” on the top left and then click “Credit & Debit Cards.”
4. Link at least one debit or credit card (you’ll get a bonus for this).
5. Click the “Refer” tab at the bottom for your promotion link to share with friends.
6. Shop, eat, earn!
7. Cash out your money to PayPal every time you reach $25. They money will be delivered to you in minutes.

This is a sponsored post

Friday, April 6, 2018

In the Home of Purdue

It had been a few years since I had been to Lafayette,Indiana. I visited a few times when I was covering tennis.

I was looking to make a quick trip not too far away, and Lafayette kept coming up. 

Once I contacted the tourism board at Home of Purdue, I could easily see why. This little college town had a lot to offer.

My friend Jaimee was visiting and we headed out for the two-hour drive with a full itinerary. 

Our first stop was at Wolf Park. Anything to do with animals is always fun for me and I was surprised to hear this place had been here for 46 years.

Wolf Park was opened by a former Purdue professor. 

He not only wanted a refuge for these animals, but he wanted to promote the conservation of wolves and help people understand more about them.

Thanks to generous donations, the park now has its own medical center and they don’t need to go back to Purdue every time an animal needs treatment.

While the wolves are the primary focus, the 75 acres here houses more than the current 12 wolves, which includes one set of six-year-old siblings. It’s not safe to actually touch the wolves, but you can watch them interact, especially during the weekend Howl Nights.

In addition to the wolves, the park has bison, foxes, and coyotes, who will howl for you any time of day. A beautiful bridge makes a great spot for weddings and other events at Wolf Park.  

We were really hungry from walking among the wolves and we headed straight to Triple XXX Family Restaurant. This place originally opened in 1929, making it the first and oldest drive-in restaurant in Indiana.

They are known for serving Triple XXX Root beer, which dates back even further, to 1895.

The diner was a lot smaller than I expected and I’m glad they saved us a table. 

It’s popularity with out-of-towners exploded after being featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

I had to obviously start with a Triple XXX Frost, a cross between and ice cream soda and a milkshake. 

We decided to both get burgers. I went for the one featured on the Food Network, the Duane Purvis All-American. It’s ground sirloin, topped with American cheese, peanut butter, pickles, lettuce and onions.

I liked the burger, but I loved the sweet potato fries when I discovered they came with a mouthwatering cinnamon marshmallow dipping sauce. How did no one think of this before?!

They brought us a hot fudge sundae and their famous Triple XXX Root Beer Cake to taste for dessert. I wasn’t overly excited about the later, until I tasted it. It was moist and delicious.

We were running late to the Haan Mansion, where Ellie Haan was graciously waiting for us beyond closing time. 

This beautiful building, filled with treasures (many priceless) was her home for 31 years before she and her husband donated the mansion to the city as a museum.

Originally the Connecticut Building during the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, it was moved by railroad to Lafayette, Indiana, after being purchased for $31,0000. 

The art, including one of the best collections of Indiana art around, is spectacular, as are other rarities, such as a Tiffany Grandfather clock, a one of a kind music box, and treasures too numerous to list. 

Haan Mansion Museum is definitely worth a trip.

We made a quick stop at McCord Candies downtown. It is a soda fountain with handmade chocolates, but that’s not their only claim to fame: they are only one of five stores in the whole country that make candy canes, right in the little shop upstairs.

Owner Chris Johnson met us at People's Brewing Company to tell us about the company he started in 2009. 

He took us through the expanding operation and back to the bar for Jaimee to do some tasting. 

She picked six of the dozen beers they have available for customers.

The favorites here are the obvious Boiler Gold, and the Farmer’s Daughter, a citrusy local specialty.

We didn’t make it to the nearby restaurant that People’s Brewing has because we had dinner scheduled at another popular local spot, Bruno's Pizza.

This family-friendly sports bar has been around for 60 years and I really enjoyed their twists on some old favorites.

We started with Bruno Dough. This deep-fried pizza dough looked like a zeppole, but it’s brushed with garlic butter and sprinkled with parmesan. 

It was served with a cheese sauce and a marinara sauce we dipped the dough in.

No matter how long I live in the Midwest, I’ll never get used to people cutting squares out of round pizzas, but that didn’t make us enjoy a spinach mushroom any less. 

We were pretty stuffed when the waitress came over to tell us about the dessert pizzas. I was too intrigued not to order one.

Bruno’s dessert pizza is covered in peanut butter, mozzarella, and chocolate chips. 

I certainly love the idea of peanut butter and chocolate in anything, but I wasn’t sure about adding cheese to the mix. 
She suggested we do half with and half without the cheese.

Well, it was so good both ways that we had to take it with us when we couldn’t finish more than a few bites. I can tell you it also makes an amazing breakfast cold!

By the time we got back to the TownePlace Suites in Lafayette we were stuffed and exhausted from a very full day. It was time to get some sleep before an equally busy one to come.