All-You-Can-Eat Pancakes at Middle Fork!

Helpful hint for the hungry: it’s Pancake Saturday!!

Grab your appetite and head on over to the Middle Fork Café this morning for a pancake feast! All-you-can-eat pancakes are served the first Saturday of every month, and this special event is quite the affair. The warm, fluffy pancakes are ready in a jiffy (no pun intended – I’m certain no boxed mixes are involved in the preparation of this gourmet breakfast!), served in a steaming stack and ready to be loaded with toppings.

All-You-Can-Eat Pancakes from Middle Fork Cafe!

There’s a full table devoted to the accompaniments for your pancakes – fruit, chocolate, maple syrup, applesauce…and of course a little bit of whipped cream.

Or a lot. Your call.

I stopped by to try the endless pancake special for myself last month, and this deal is no joke! I had myself and my stomach convinced that I could down a lot more pancakes than I actually could…but my one full plate plus toppings did it for me. Next time I’ll have to come even hungrier. 🙂

All-you-can-eat pancakes are served from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on the first Saturday of every month. They cost $5.95 for adults or $3.95 for children.

Don’t miss this fun breakfast tomorrow morning! Happy May!

Carlson Studio of Spicer to close its doors

Yesterday Carlson Studio of Spicer made the official announcement that its 30-plus- year photography business will come to an end as of May 31, 2015. Marti Carlson has been photographing graduates, couples, kids and families for years and is a well-known local favorite.

As someone with a photography background myself, I can personally vouch for her skills behind the camera. Carlson Studio has “unofficially” been known as the best photography business in the area for as long as I can remember. Marti took my childhood photos, senior pictures, and several family shoots as I grew up. She’ll be missed!

That said, there is a small silver lining

Before the studio closes for good, it’s offering MAJOR deals on files from old sessions!

Carlson Studio deal

If you’re from the area, you know that Carlson Studio is known as a higher-end photography business. Its current special, though, is a steal! From now until May 1st of this year, you can purchase digital files from any session prior to 2012 for $50. For older sessions, negatives can be purchased for just $25. On top of that, each additional session that you buy is only $15 each!

Kandiyohi County is losing a great photographer this year but I, for one, am excited to check out some of the old files from my family’s past sessions and relive memories long forgotten.

You can receive updates from Carlson Studio on its Facebook page, or call 320-796-0096 for more information. The studio is currently located at 176 Progress Way in Spicer.

Best wishes to all those who’ve been involved in Carlson Studio – you and your talents will be missed in Spicer and the surrounding areas!

Papa Murphy’s Celebrates Tax Day

In honor of everybody’s favorite holiday, Tax Day, Papa Murphy’s Take-and-Bake Pizza is offering a special deal today!

If you visit Papa Murphy’s today, you can get a one-topping Fresh Pan pizza and a large Faves pizza (cheese, pepperoni, or sausage) for $10.40.

Dinner, anyone?

Valid Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 only.

CCS Auction at the Willmar Civic Center

Happy Saturday!

The sun is out, the forecast is beautiful, and if you’re looking for something to do this morning before the temps reach 70, head on out to the Willmar Civic Center!

Community Christian School of Willmar is hosting its annual auction fundraiser. There’s a live auction, a silent auction, a bake sale, and tons of activities for kids.

I also happen to have some of my yummy Birthday Oreo Cupcakes for sale at the auction today, so grab them before they go! They’re my baked-from-scratch vanilla cupcakes with Birthday Cake Oreos mixed in, swirled with homemade Oreo buttercream and topped with Oreo pieces and sprinkles.


I happen to be a proud alumnus of CCS, and I am very thankful that I had the privilege to go there as a kid. The education, teachers, and Bible-based principles are well worth the investment. I definitely think Community Christian School is an organization worth supporting!

Be sure to stop by the Civic Center today…and check out my cupcakes if you’re so inclined! 🙂

Where to Dine in the Willmar Area This Easter

I don’t think I can recall ever dining in a restaurant on Easter Sunday.

Usually Easters past have been spent at my grandma’s or in my mom’s kitchen, the smell of turkey permeating every nook and cranny.

Not this year!

Although I love a homemade Easter meal, this year the list of family in the area is small, so we decided to do dinner out instead.

I’ve had fun exploring all the options, and without further ado, here’s the comprehensive list of eateries hosting Easter meals tomorrow!*

Bello Cucina
Brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
194 Progress Way
Spicer, MN 56288
(320) 796-0203
More info can be found on Facebook.
Reservations recommended.

Green Mill
Brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Willmar Conference Center
$17.95 per person, including beverages
($15.95 for seniors and $7.95 for children 5-12)
Regular Green Mill hours resume in the restaurant at 5:00 p.m.
2100 E Highway 12
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 231-2301
Reservations recommended.

Hillcrest Restaurant
Open from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Features: Pit Ham and Yankee Pot Roast
16451 Highway 71 NE
New London, MN 56273
(320) 354-4545

Kandi Entertainment Center
500 19th Ave NE
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-3800
Reservations recommended.

McMillan’s Family Restaurant
Buffet from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
2620 1st St S
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-7213

The Oaks at Eagle Creek
Buffet brunch served from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
$14.95 per person
($12.95 for seniors 60+ and $6.95 for children 6-10)
1000 26th Ave NE
Willmar, MN 56201

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery
Hours: 12:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
2645 South Highway 71
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-5957


*More local restaurants may offer Easter meals, but this list is limited only to the ones I could confirm.

Easter Services in Willmar, MN


Happy Easter!

I love this holiday and all it stands for – the Savior that gave his life for us, the resurrection that provided hope for all…and yes, the chocolate eggs and bunnies, too. Even if the candy pales in comparison to an eternity in heaven, I’ve got to admit that it’s pretty great. 🙂

All bunnies aside, let’s focus on the real reason we celebrate Easter: the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

The Willmar area does not lack in churches to attend, and most of them host special Easter services this time of year. Here’s a comprehensive list of Willmar churches to consider this Easter Sunday!

Bethel Lutheran Church
Services at 8:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
411 Becker Ave
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-5450

Calvary Lutheran Church
Sunrise Service at 6:15 a.m.
Easter Worship at 8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and 11:00 a.m.
302 Olena Ave SE
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-2508

Church of the Nazarene
Worship at 10:45 a.m.
515 12th St SW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-1717

Church of St. Mary
Easter Masses at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Easter Mass in Spanish at 12:00 p.m.
713 12th St SW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-0118

Cornerstone Baptist Church
Easter Breakfast at 8:30 a.m.
Service at 10:30 a.m.
602 SW 5th St
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-8211

Eagle Lake Lutheran Church
Traditional Worship: 8:30 a.m.
Contemporary Worship: 10:30 a.m.
1650 60th Ave NE
Willmar, Minnesota 56201
(320) 231-3114

Evangelical Free Church of Willmar
Easter Celebrations at 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.
1305 19th Ave SW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-4317

First Baptist Church
Services at 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.
1000 SE 6th St
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-2326

First Covenant Church
Easter Celebrations at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Easter Breakfast from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
801 Willmar Ave SW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-3010

First Presbyterian Church
Easter Egg Hunt at 9:30 a.m.
Worship with Holy Communion at 10:00 a.m.
312 SW 6th St
(320) 231-1263
Willmar, MN 56201

Grace Baptist Church
Worship at 10:45 a.m.
4703 18th St NE
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 231-0863

Harvest Community Church
Easter Breakfast at 9:00 a.m.
Worship Service at 10:00 a.m.
905 Litchfield Ave SW
Willmar MN 56201
(320) 235-2106

Redeemer Lutheran Church
Services at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
1401 6th St SW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-4685

Vinje Lutheran Church
Services: 7:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m., and 10:45 a.m.
1101 Willmar Ave SW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-1441

Willmar Assembly of God
Services at 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.
3821 Abbott Drive
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-2529

Willmar Bible Church
Breakfast from 8:15 to 9:30 a.m.
Service at 10:00 a.m.
364 County Road 9 SE
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-0102

Willmar Christian Reformed Church
Worship Service at 10:00 a.m.
1708 SW 8th St
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-3060

Willmar United Methodist Church
Contemporary Worship at 8:15 a.m.
Traditional Worship at 10:45 a.m.
1818 9th St
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-5403

Word of Faith Family Church
Service at 10:00 a.m.
3010 7th Ave NW
Willmar, MN 56201
(320) 235-7655

May you all know the truth this Easter – that you are loved beyond comprehension by a Savior who died so that you might live eternally.

BOGO at Dunn Bros today!

Happy April Fool’s Day! Hope you’ve managed to dodge any and all pranks so far on this warm Minnesota day.

I am proud to report that this is no joke, ladies and gentlemen: Dunn Bros of Willmar has buy-one-get-one-free coffees today! Grab a friend or surprise someone special with a refreshing IceCrema this afternoon! I recommend the mocha flavor – with whipped cream. 🙂

Birthday Freebies in the Willmar Area


It just so happens to be my birthday today and, as everybody knows, the best part of birthdays is stocking up on freebies from local retailers!

In case you’re unfamiliar with this concept, many vendors offer free and discounted products on your big day to help you celebrate. Some deals are even redeemable throughout your entire birthday month!

Many retailers require that you sign up for their e-mail list ahead of time, so plan ahead, and be sure to have an ID on you if you’re 16 or older, just in case.

Here’s the full list of places in the area that offer birthday specials:
A&W: Free root beer float when you join the Mug Club
Arby’s: Free shake when you sign up for e-mails
Applebee’s: Free ice cream with either chocolate or strawberry sauce (and a free birthday song!)
Burger King: Free hamburger Kids Meal for kids under 13 years old (BK Crown membership required)
Caribou Coffee: Free medium drink when you join their e-mail list and provide a photo ID
CherryBerry: Free frozen yogurt and toppings of choice
Culver’s: Free ice cream surprise when you join their e-mail list (In the past, treats have included a scoop of custard and an ice cream sundae.)
Dairy Queen: BOGO Blizzard—mini, small or medium (Sign up for e-mails online to receive your birthday coupon and other deals throughout the year.)
Dunn Bros: Free birthday drink when you sign up for their e-mails
El Tapatio: Free dessert and song, plus you get the honor of wearing a sombrero!
Erbert and Gerbert’s: Free sandwich during your birthday month when you join the Sandwich Society (must pick up a card from an Erbert and Gerbert’s location)
LuLu Beans: Free cookie of choice
Green Mill: Free small one topping pizza for adults who join their rewards program, and free kids meal for kids who join the KidSpace birthday club (both offers valid through your birthday month!)
Panda Garden: Free buffet on your birthday with a valid ID and a party of 6+ people (print coupon here!)
Qdoba: Free burrito when you join their e-club
Redbox: Free DVD rental when you sign up for e-mails
Papa Murphy’s: Free cookie dough when you sign up for e-mails (You’ll also be the first to know about deals throughout the year!)
Pizza Ranch: Receive a $5 bonus on your card when you join the Ranch Rewards program AND take out a free cactus bread when you dine in.
Spicer Castle: Free birthday dinner (up to a $15 value)
Taco John’s: Free cini-sopapilla bites when you sign up for e-mails

Know of other local businesses that offer birthday freebies? Comment below and we’ll add them to the list!

Dine Out for United Way of West Central Minnesota


Over the past few weeks, a number of local restaurants have been donating percentages of their sales to United Way on designated days. A full list of participating eateries can be found here.

If you’ve missed out on any of these opportunities to eat out for charity, you’re in luck! There’s just one day left TOMORROW on Thursday, March 26th.

This Thursday, the following restaurants will be participating:
Cornerstone Coffee: $1 from every latte or mocha (iced, steamed, or blended)
Domino’s Pizza: 15% of all sales
Jack’s of New London: 25% of all sales
Ruff’s Wings and Sports Bar: 15% of sales with flyer
Spicer Castle: 10% of all sales

This is an easy way to support United Way while enjoying some yummy local eats! Check out the full United Way of West Central Minnesota site for more details.

THE Shamrock Shake

I have a confession to make.

Until last week, I had never before consumed a Shamrock Shake.

I realize this is unacceptable, which is why I finally jumped on the bandwagon and took a trip through the Willmar McDonald’s drive-thru the other day to sample one of the trademark green shakes.

And the verdict?

Yep. It’s as good as they say.

Green, minty, and smooth, with a subtle vanilla flavor and a lot of creamy texture.

I was surprised by the very vibrant shade of green. I always pictured the Shamrock Shake in a soft mint green hue, but nope! Mine practically glowed in the dark it was so bright. Clearly it was full of kale or spinach or some natural green coloring…;)

The other thing that surprised me was the flavor. The Shamrock Shake isn’t mouthwash-level mint. It’s just plain, ordinary mint!

Mint + creamy vanilla soft-serve + whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Not bad, McDonald’s. Not bad!

Rumor has it that McDonald’s sells Shamrock Shakes through the end of March (sometimes earlier if supplies run out), so if you’re a first-timer like me, snatch up a Shamrock Shake of your own soon before they’re gone!