Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lutz Bakery

I love a good, old fashioned bakery and in Chicago they can be hard to find.  This summer we popped into Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop (2458 W. Montrose) for a special treat and we were not disappointed.  When you walk in the door the first thing you see is several large glass cases filled with all sorts of appetizing treats and then there is that amazing bakery scent that hits you.  Further back into the bakery is a little cafe with a seating area where you can have lunch.  We never made it that far - just couldn't get past the baked goods.  The girls, of course, had a hard time choosing between the cupcakes, cookies, cream puffs, and fancy chocolates.  Ultimately they decided on large decorated cookies.  I had a hazelnut log, which is hard to describe but was really delicious, although quite sweet and rich.  The girls also picked out a cupcake for their dad, which was enjoyed by all.  Lutz has some specialty Christmas treats so we are looking forward to going back in a few months.

Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop is open seven days a week, most days 7 AM until 7 PM but doesn't open until 7:30 AM on Mondays and stays open until 8 PM on Friday and Saturday.  Lutz also takes online orders at their website

Monday, September 8, 2014

Green Genes

Green Genes, located at 5111 N. Clark in Andersonville, is just beyond cute with the shelves bursting with eco-friendly toys, books, and clothing. I went into this store looking for a baby gift for a friend who was having her fourth and fifth baby.  She pretty much has all of the practical stuff so I wanted to get her something special.  I would definitely say the items in this store are for that type of occasion, meaning the merchandise is on the pricier side, of course you have to pay more for quality and responsible vs. mass produced products.  The store is definitely not just for babies and toddlers, however.  There are lots stuff from Plan Toys, organic clothing in baby and children's sizes, art kits, and lots of reusable lunch items.  I ended up getting a couple of adorable burp clothes for my friend and some eco-finger paint for my son.  I know it will end up in his mouth so it's great to know the paint is all natural.  The saleswoman was super nice and helpful, even going out of her way to track down the price on something that was not marked.  I was able to find parking easily on Clark, however on the weekends parking can be quite difficult in Andersonville.  I will definitely keep Green Genes in mind the next time I want to get a special gift for a new baby or kid's birthday.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lucky Platter

So hands down the best meal to eat out with kids is breakfast/brunch.  Most kids like breakfast foods, there are always other families dining, and those without kids tend to be more tolerant of the noise and mess.  We recently enjoyed a really great breakfast at the Lucky Platter, 514 Main St., Evanston.  We went on a Sunday morning around 9:30.  We were meeting friends so we were a large group of seven people.  We had to wait about 15 minutes for a table but the wait was much less for smaller parties.  The food was delicious.  I had a make your own scramble and upgraded one of my sides for the apricot cheese flaky.  Totally worth it.  They don't specifically have a kid's menu but you can order one pancake or one egg a la carte.  The girls had pancakes, which they devoured. 

We were able to find street parking about a block down.  The restaurant is open from 7:30 AM until 9:00 PM every day except for Sundays when it closes at 8:00 PM.  We haven't had a chance to stop by for lunch or dinner yet but will definitely do so soon.  For more information see their website

Splash Landings

Now that all of the outdoor pools have closed until next summer, Splash Landings is is a great option for swimming with your kids in the fall and winter.  Located at 2400 Chestnut Ave. in Glenview Splash Landings is housed within a large complex of buildings that are all part of the Glenview Park District.  The easiest way to access the pool is to park at the back of the parking lot and enter the building near the gym.  There is a front desk in the swimming area where you pay for one time admission, which is $6 per person with children under 2 years free, or purchase a punch card or family pass for discounted per visit admission.  The fall schedule for family swim is currently posted at

When I went with my two daughters we had a great time swimming.  There are two pools.  One is deeper with some of the lanes divided for lap swimming.  The other pool, where we spent most of our time is shallower and has a water slide and some spray fountains.  I believe the pool is zero entry so even a toddler would have a great time here.  My girls love to swim and this is such a nice facility that we had a wonderful time.  It is a perfect place to burn off some energy during the cold months.  The locker rooms were super clean and modern.  In fact the whole pool area was very clean.  There are, of course, male and female locker rooms and then a couple of family changing rooms if you come with a child of the opposite sex.  We are all looking forward to going back this winter

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Southport Perfoming Arts Conservatory

Southport Performing Arts Conservatory (otherwise known as SPACE) provides classes in dance, music and drama at their three locations (Downtown, Lakeview, and Peterson).  My daughter takes ballet at SPACE and she LOVES it.  The teacher is super nice and great with kids and parents.  The class is 45 minutes long (length of class depends on age and she is in the 4-5 year old class) and my daughter has a huge grin on her face the entire time.  Not only does she have a good time but I feel like she is actually learning something.  There are about 10 kids in the class which seems like a really great size for this age group. 

The website,, has all of the information on class options, schedules, and fees.  I don't have any personal experience with the music, drama, or upper level dance classes.  However we have been super happy with the quality of instruction and also our daughter's enjoyment with her class.  My guess is that the other class are of the same caliber.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Brown Trout

Kids eat free every night at Brown Trout, 4111 N. Lincoln, which was a good enough excuse as any to take the whole family there for dinner.  The fact that the restaurant puts an emphasis on sustainability and using local products whenever possible was an added bonus.  We went on a Friday when the specialwas a fish fry, which is what both my husband and I ordered.  The fish and chips were quite tasty and came with three sauces for dipping.  The kids menu had all the standard fare with my younger daughter choosing the chicken fingers as usual.  My older daughter loves fish and even though the fish was not on the kids menu the waiter was very accommodating in providing a kid size version for her.  We had a very nice family dinner with lots of eating and not a lot of complaining.

The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and opens every other day for dinner at 5 PM except Monday when it opens at 6 PM.  Brown Trout also does a Sunday brunch.  Metered street parking is available along Lincoln.  We were there right at opening and the restaurant wasn't busy at all.  The only other diners were a couple of other families.  Even though we were out with the whole family at a nice dinner the bill was very reasonable.  Good food, good price, and a good time.     

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Didier Farms

With Halloween getting close now might be a great time to visit a pumpkin patch.  Recently I visited Didier Farms in Lincolnshire ( with my younger daughter and son on a fun fall morning.  During the Farm's Pumpkinfest, which runs from mid-September through Halloween, there are a wide variety of activities to keep the kids busy.  Of course there are pumpkins of all types to select and take home.  In addition, there is a hay ride that takes you back through a corn field where you will see a variety of scarecrows dressed as favorite characters and spooky scenes, a petting zoo, and carnival rides.  Most of the rides are appropriate for kids probably 8 and younger.  My four year old just could not get enough of them.  Most of the rides, including the hay ride, take 3 tickets, pony rides and camel rides are 5 tickets, and I believe the petting zoo is 7 tickets.  Each ticket costs $1 so the day can get pricey in a hurry if you don't pace yourself.  Everything is completely stroller friendly and babies can go on the hay ride for free if they ride on an adults lap.

The farm is open weekdays from 9 to 5 and weekends from 10 to 5.  Weekends get really busy there but weekdays can also be quite busy since a lot of school groups come for the day.  In addition to the rides there are donuts, hot apple cider, and stuff off the grill for lunch.  My one complaint with the place is that there are no indoor bathrooms so I had to have my four year old watch the baby in the stroller while I dashed into the porta potty and she had to go with the door propped open so she wouldn't be alone in the bathroom and I could still keep my eye on the baby.  Not a huge deal but definitely inconvenient.

When we were at Didier Farms it was quite busy but we never had to wait in line to ride any of the rides and there was plenty of seating at picnic tables when we took a quick donut break.  Since we went, my daughter has been talking nonstop about how much fun she had so we are looking forward to going back with the whole family next year.