Food, Grand Forks, North Dakota

Half Brothers Brewing Company

So this last quarter of the year we don’t have much travel as we are saving up for LOTS of travel in 2018 so to keep things rolling I’m mixing in some travel I haven’t blogged about yet with locally owned restaurants from my hometown of Grand Forks, ND.

I had a meeting for the local pageant I run earlier this week and we decided to check out the new brewhouse, Half Brothers Brewing Company. Their menu had something called a Bacon Flight on it so I was obviously intrigued right away.

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The place has a really good casual vibe right when you walk in and you can see where they are brewing the beer.

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It was pretty busy so we sat near the back where they have a small stage area.

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I’m personally not a beer drinker but everyone else I was with said it was great. Apparently the chokecherry beer was the favorite choice amongst the group! The glasses are cute though, which I’m sure was the goal of guys that opened the place haha!

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We all seemed to order something a little different which was great to see all the different options on the menu. I obviously took advantage of the Bacon Flight and ordered the Pretzel Bites with beer cheese dip because I figure a brewhouse should always be able to make a decent pub app like this.

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The Bacon Flight was good. I mean it’s bacon so what’s not to love. There were supposedly different kinds but they didn’t really have a distinct difference in flavor which was a little disappointing. Also, they serve it chewy, not crispy, which I’m not a fan of but still tried it all so I could savor the bacon goodness. Overall, it was alright, I won’t be ordering it again but it is a great option for all those chewy bacon lovers out there!

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The pretzel bites and beer cheese dip were really great. Seriously this is always my test at a brewhouse. If you can’t make a decent beer cheese dip then I assume you have no clue how to cook the rest of the food on your menu. Harsh maybe but this place passed the test with flying colors!

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To go “boxes” leave a little room for improvement as you can either get a full pizza box or a thin plastic goodie bag which won’t work for a few of the items on the menu. I will also say they have a $10 order minimum if you want to run your credit card, one of the very few places in town that have that stipulation(any order amount for cash obviously).

Overall I will definitely be back. The menu prices are great and they had some other options I would definitely want to try out!

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Food, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Travel

Minneapolis part 4

It’s time for the fourth and final segment from our Minneapolis trip. I guess when you’re there for 10 nights you have a lot of places to talk about although I will warn you there is a duplicate restaurant in this post again but it’s so damn good I couldn’t stop going!

Sober Fish

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Sober Fish was this cute little sushi place I happened to find near the gym my husband was going to. The menu looked good so we tried it out. Lots of raw sushi options which isn’t usually our thing but we gave it a try and tried some new things. Definitely good but if you don’t LOVE raw fish this probably isn’t the place you want to go.

Cantina

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This place is in the Mall of America and honestly my favorite place to get my Mexican food fix when I’m in Minneapolis(until I find something more local and authentic). Servings are HUGE and we always have to take things home. We started with the Tostadas Carnitas and let me just say their Carnitas meat the best I’ve ever had! Seriously just melt in your mouth, it’s phenomenal!

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I always end up ordering some sort of seafood taco for my entree but seriously look at all this food!! No normal person can eat all of this in one serving. Needless to say I was having midnight leftovers as I did some work on my business in hotel room later! This was the Tacos de Langosta and it was great. The picture doesn’t do it justice as the lighting is dim in there but it’s filled with lobster, bacon, rice, beans, and avocado, YUM!! Seriously so good.

Smack Shack

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Yes we went back to Smack Shack. It was so good I thought about it all week and decided on our last night we need to venture back.

You may remember my other post featuring this restaurant I got the lobster roll and that huge carrot cake. I told myself I had to try new things this time so I started with the smaller portion of the Lobster Bisque, holy shit yum!

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Just creamy and rich with big chunks of lobster in it. Seriously this place does not skimp on the lobster!

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My entree was the lobster mac and cheese which again had huge chunks of lobster in and homemade cheese sauce. Just amazing

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We did of course sit on the patio again this year but brought Elsa with this time. Silly pup backed her butt off the patio and stood there half up on the patio half standing on the sidewalk. Can’t bring her anywhere 🙂

Tavern on France

Yes again with Tavern on France but this time for brunch. I apologize in advance for these pics as we sat inside and it is DARK in there and I wasn’t going to be that asshole with the flash on taking pictures.

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Right away you get to build your own omelet which in included in the brunch buffet. Check as many things on the paper as you like and they will throw it all in there for you. I did a simple bacon, tomato, and gouda and it was great.

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They also bring a plate of fresh made caramel rolls to your table, they honestly could use some more caramel on them but they were still pretty good.

Now to the actual buffet part. The reason I wanted to try this brunch first was because their picture showed bacon and any brunch buffet with bacon can easily win my heart. There was so many options it was almost overwhelming. Pastries, fresh fruit, salad, 2 kinds of eggs, biscuits and gravy, omelet bar, fresh carved ham, bacon, sausage, pasta, and so much more.

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I would like to say one of these plate pictures was my husbands but that would be a lie. I had to try everything and I have no self control around unlimited bacon and fresh cut fruit.

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Definitely recommend Tavern on France for really any meal but their brunch is to die for!

 

Food, Minneapolis, Travel

Minneapolis Part 3

I feel like my trips are always planned around the places I want to check out to eat. My husband doesn’t quite understand the foodie life but that’s ok, it means I don’t have to cook all the time and he still gets fed. 🙂

For part 3 of the Minneapolis series we stopped at a local cupcake place called Sweet Retreat Cupcake Boutique. We tried to go here on July 3rd but they were closed so we(I) made it a mission to come back when they were open to check it out.

Why so determined? Well when they have awesome cakes like these in the windows you know you need to try it

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Yeah, that’s a 5 tier Harry Potter cake and a 5 tier Beauty and the Beast cake. The lighting was crap but you get the idea of the epic awesome-ness that sits in their shop window.

Inside it was this cute little girly shop that I could imagine having a 6 years olds party.

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Seriously so cute.

Their cupcake varieties vary each day so don’t walk in with your heart set on a certain specialty one. You won’t be disappointed in their selection though, lots of delicious cupcakes to drool over! We went right when they opened so they were still getting everything out on display.

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I set my heat on a Smores, classic wedding buttercream, and this one with a million sprinkles.

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They were fabulous, moist, fluffy, and just melt in your mouth. I highly recommend for anyone in the area to check out. Totally worth your time!

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I mean just look at all those sprinkles!!!!

My “Minneapolis Food Tour” found me back at Tavern on France. This is the place from my last post with the pizza but this time I opted for the Build Your Own Salad option. Seriously you just can’t go wrong at this place.

I filled out my card and snapped a pic this time so you could see all the options and what I had specifically chosen.

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If I remember correctly the base fee for the salad is somewhere around $12 then add on prices for certain meats. As you can see my salad was fully loaded and packed with different flavor.

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This doesn’t do the size justice as this salad was massive and I had to take half of it home to finish later. I do want to add that the cashew chicken salad right on top in the middle was PHENOMENAL! I would order this all on its own next time as the cashew chicken salad on the menu comes in a pineapple boat with tons of fresh fruit. People kept ordering it around us and I wasn’t sure what it was till I had it on my salad.

That’s all for part 3! One more blog on Minneapolis before we move to another area! 🙂

Travel

Minneapolis Part 2

This took me so long to get written. I think I just didn’t want to admit that this trip was over so I put it off for awhile.

Monday July 3rd

We were on a mission to check out a local doggie store with fun treats for our furbaby Elsa. Unfortunately the one we went to first was closed for the holiday the next day so we stumbled upon Bentley’s pet store instead. Elsa loved it and the staff was super helpful. We left with way more things than we needed for her. Great prices at the Edina store off France Ave for those in the area. We scored 60% off most of the bones pictured.

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One thing I LOVE about Minneapolis is how super dog friendly the town is. Not only are patios dog friendly but most of them even have a stash of dog bowls to fill with water.

After spending too much on our furbaby we decided it was of course time for lunch and checked out this other place close by the pet store called Tavern on France.

Honestly, now one of my favorite restaurants in the area and we will be going there EVERY time we are in Minneapolis.

They had dog bowls for water that they brought you immediately when you sat on the patio.

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They have a full menu of great options PLUS multiple Build Your Own check list sheets which let you customize your own pizza, salad, burger, or bloody mary.

During this visit I decided it was time for pizza and oh my was it amazing!

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Crisp, thin crust piled high with the topping of my choosing. This particular combo is: garlic aoili, shrimp, feta cheese, tomatoes, spinach, and crumbled bacon.

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Tons of left overs and I will add that the crust still maintains its integrity after sitting in the hotel room fridge for awhile!

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Dinner involved a visit to the chain restaurant Bubba Gump Shrimp, standard delicious seafood with a great combo special going on for the summer that included tilapia, your choice of shrimp skewer, and a shrimp side.

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The night finished off with the best firework show around(yes on July 3rd) done by the Summer Fete festival! Our hotel room actually faced the display so we hung out in the room and watched the display.

July 4th was a blur of relaxation, swimming and napping but we decided to spend the evening at a local drive in. We have a drive in close to town but they always play movies a little on the older side that either are no longer in theaters or are almost out so when we saw the lineup at Vali-Hi Drive in we were surprised!

IMG_2234For only $8.50 each you go to see 3 brand new movies. We read some reviews online before hand so we would be prepared. If you decide to check this place out they only take cash so come with it in your wallet. Also, get there early! Seriously, we were about an hour and a half early before showtime and we were still about the 40th car in line. The line went all the way down the road and people were still coming in when the first movie was starting.

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Snack selection was great, again remember they only take cash. Service was great from everyone and I would definitely recommend checking this place out if you are in the area!

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More Minneapolis to come!! 🙂

Travel

Minneapolis Trip Part 1

The hubby and I are out of town for a god chunk of July, living it up in Minneapolis from June 30-July 10.

We come to Minneapolis a few times a year just to get out of town and explore.

We wanted to focus on trying some new places and doing new things instead of the same old Mall of America and ValleyFair the entire time.

Saturday July 1st

We started the first full day in Minneapolis with a trip to Glam Doll Donuts. We had heard good things and had to check the place out as I love me a good donut!

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I ordered a basic raised donut with chocolate glaze and sprinkles, named the Chocolate Starlet, just as you would expect it to taste. Light, fluffy, with the perfect amount of icing.

Tony had one called Night Moves, which was a cake donut with blackberry hennessey icing & blackberry jam. He devoured it so I’m thinking it was good.

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As you may know by know I’m a huge lover of bacon so I had to try one of their bacon donuts. I decided to go with the Pinup Girl + Bacon, a bourbon infused apple fritter with caramelized bacon. I really couldn’t believe how bad this donut was. WAY too much bourbon, it was literally all you could taste, no apple fritter flavor popped out, and apparently they don’t understand what “caramelized” bacon means as it was undercooked soggy bacon. Definitely disappointed in this one.

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After that we headed to Knapton’s Farms to pick some fresh raspberries. It was a good experience. They had a lot of bushes to pick from and it took us awhile to walk around and fill 2 pints.

We finished off our meals for the day with dinner at the Smack Shack.

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This place was featured on the Food Network Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives back when they were just a food truck that was also operating out of 1029 Bar. Needless to say they have come a long way since then with a higher end location in the North Loop area of Minneapolis.

We sat outside on the “patio”. I use air quotes because there is a real patio area and then the small section of tables that is literally in an alley, it was a little weird but there wasn’t too many cars going through there.(P.S. the patio is dog friendly!!)

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Tony ordered the Jambalaya and loved it. A generous portion filled with shrimp, sausage, and chicken.

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I opted for the Connecticut Style Lobster Roll and it was phenomenal! The bun was over flowing with big, juicy, tender chunks of lobster meat and it was paired with crispy cajun fries.

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We were already full but decided to test the dessert menu, when in North Loop right?

So pleasantly surprised with our triple decker carrot cake. Moist cake with a perfectly made cream cheese frosting.

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Finally, we went for a family walk with our furbaby at Normandale Lake Park. Beautiful area with nice paths to walk on.

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Elsa decided to ruin the moment by burping in my face when we went to take a nice family photo!

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Sunday July 2nd

Sunday was unintentionally a short day.

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We went to Nightingale for brunch and bottomless mimosas.

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Let me say, I have NO control when it comes to bottomless mimosas.

I ordered the french toast with the whipped ricotta(so good) and had way too many mimosas.

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I will say, $10 for bottomless mimosas here is such a steal. They are STRONG and delicious so beware to not have too many like I did!

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Needless to say, that was the end of the day for me….

More Minneapolis reviews coming soon!

 

Food

Breakfast Smasher Bowl

Anytime we are going to be heading out of town we try to use up anything in the fridge so nothing goes to waste.

Personally, I love doing this because it forces me to be a little creative with the things we have. However, I’m pretty sure my husband hates it because we have to make everything from scratch and still make sure we don’t have any leftovers before we leave.

Normally I batch cook and we can rotate between leftovers but these days before we head out of town are all about eating it till it’s gone so I don’t make something else until we finish something first.

This morning I was craving a mix up from my normal breakfast routine which has been waffle breakfast sandwiches for awhile.

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I happen to always have plenty of breakfast type foods around as it is my favorite meal of the day so it was easy to use some things up for this Breakfast Smasher Bowl.

Breakfast Smasher Bowls:

I literally measured nothing and neither should you 😉

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Your base of this bowl is tator tots, cooked and smashed(hint hint that’s where the smasher name comes from)

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Next layer should be eggs(gotta get that protein!)

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After that, the rest is up to you! I used a baggie of ham I already cut up, some cheese, and some salsa I wanted to get out of the fridge before we went out of town. You could add peppers, onion, bacon(yum), sausage gravy, mushrooms, or literally any other topping you want to this to make it your own.

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Serving size wise you can make an individual small batch with a few tots, an egg, and small amount of toppings or just go to town and feed a small army. My bowl ended up being somewhere in between those two!

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The possibilities are really endless with this and you could mix it up every time to create new flavors each day!

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Food

Veggie Omelette Starter Packs!

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I am so awful at eating my veggies.

Like really awful

I just haven’t found a way that I LOVE to have most veggies so I resist eating them

Plus they go bad so fast when you buy fresh that I just end up throwing money away

My husband is the same

So in an effort to increase both our veggie intakes I figured it was time to start small with something easy

Insert veggie omelette starter packs

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I like veggies in my omelettes(not as much as I like bacon but still) so I thought this was a great way to give it a try

What you will need:

Veggies of choice(I used red onion, green pepper, tomato, and mushrooms)

Knive

Cutting board/mat

Ziplock baggies

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Simple and easy to make these, chop everything up, toss it together in a bowl, divide among baggies, and put the baggies in the freezer

Now whenever you want an omelette just take out a baggie.

Heat a little olive oil on your pan, cook the veggies, add the eggs, cook, and eat.

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Simple, easy, healthy, and now you’re getting your veggies!

Food

Simple & Easy Pumpkin Muffins

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So things have been crazy in our house over the last week.

Our furbaby, Elsa, has been sick. Diarrhea every 2 hours since 5pm on Saturday(overshare sorry!)

Over the weekend we tried to do some home remidies to help her feel better which included rice and pumpkin.

 

Turns out we only have LARGE 28 oz. cans of pumpkin in the cupboard and needless to say our 25lb dog does not need to consume that much pumpkin

Being someone who doesn’t like things to go to waste I knew I wanted to try to put together a new pumpkin muffin recipe and let me just say it turned out AMAZING! My hubby was even taking 6 to work and coming home with zero left each day!

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So here is my simple and easy Pumpkin Muffin Recipe:

  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can (28 oz) pumpkin puree(minus about 1/2 cup)
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
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 Mix all the ingredients together, fill into a muffin pan, and bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees! Mine made about 16 muffins total but it may vary on how much pumpkin you put in!
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Enjoy!

 

Food, Uncategorized

3 Freezer Meal Tips for Beginners

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Preparing freezer meals has become very popular with people all over the country and for a good reason! For just a couple hours out of one day you can have an entire week or more of meals prepped and prepared. Not only that but it takes the guesswork out of what to make for dinner and saves you money! As a newbie it can be very overwhelming to figure out where to start so here a few great tips on what you need to do to to start your own freezer meal stock!

Plan it out. Take some time and find recipes you would like to try. I highly suggest Pinterest, simply search freezer meals and you will get hundreds on recipes. Pick 5-7 to get started, this will take care of you first week. Print off these recipes and write out all the ingredients you need. Feel free to use the attached grocery list template for this!

Label yours bags before you begin. Trust me, this is a lot easier when the bags are empty instead of when there are a bunch of ingredients moving around in there. You can put just the name of the recipes or also include cooking instructions as well.

Stand you bag up in a bowl, folded open, for an easy dump and go method. This will make it easier to put all the ingredients in and prevent the bag from spilling. 

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Do some advance prep, this is what will take the most time. Trim your meats, peel and cut veggies, and get out all your measuring cups and spices. Having these all out of the table, as well as a printed copy of your recipes, will make it so much easier to find everything when you get started with bagging.


Take your time. This isn’t a race. Your first few times might take a lot longer than expected, that’s completely normal. Like anything else in life, you will get better with practice!

*Bonus tip: Takes notes on the recipes as you cook them. Maybe you like some and don’t like others. Maybe something needs to be cooked for a little less time or could use some more spice. Making these notes now will make the recipes better the next time you decide to make them!

Travel

Road Tripping with your Fur Baby

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At this point I’m pretty comfortable calling myself an expert on this topic.

We did 3 big road trips with our dog over the last year:

North Dakota to Florida and back

North Dakota to Vegas and back

North Dakota to Ohio and back

Add in numerous trips from North Dakota to Minneapolis, MN and we did well over 100 hours of driving with our fur baby.

We also aren’t the type of people who stop for the night on our road trips which adds its own special challenges when traveling with a dog.

So how do we make sure we don’t have a wild pup jumping around or even having accidents in the car?

Make Lots of Stops

The longer the trip, the more stops to plan to make, especially as you get to the end of the drive since your pup will be more restless.

Tire them out BEFORE you leave

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If possible make sure your pup is exhausted when you are ready to go. Weather you bring her to doggie daycare, a friend/family members house, or even play for awhile before you go this will make for a dog who will crash sooner and sleep for a good leg of the drive.

Stick to meal times

Whenever you normally feed your dog is when you need to feed your dog on the road. If your pup is anything like mine she likes to stick to her routine or she gets a little(or a lot) grumpy. Sticking to the feeding schedule will also help to reduce accidents as you have an idea how long after meals before they have to go!

Bring toys or something to chew on

We always have our fur baby’s favorite toys with us so she has something to play with. On the longer trips we also bring a bone of some sort so she has something to chew on to keep her distracted. This is especially important if you dog is normally a chewer because when they get bored on that drive they will need something to chew on and if you don’t provide it it could be your cooler, your luggage, or even your car.

Stops = Active time

When you are making any stop its time for your pup to get out of the car and stretch their legs. For us that usually means walking/jogging around a rest area for about 10-20 minutes. Just be sure to make the best use of your time at each stop and get your dog active so they don’t go too wild in the car.

Pack Poop Bags

Yep you read that right. This isn’t just for you but a courtesy to other travelers so they don’t have to walk through dog poo at a rest area.

Bring accident clean up supplies

Of course no one wants this to happen but sometimes it just does. We were 1 hour into one of our trips last year when the overwhelming stench of dog poo filled the car. We had packed nothing and ended up spending 3x the normal amount for supplies at a gas station. Things to consider: roll of toilet paper or paper towels, disinfecting wipes, carpet scrubber(depending on seat material), a couple grocery bags

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Block their path to the front

As much as you may love it when your dog comes and sits on your lap up front this one is for their safety. Restraining them to the back or setting up some type of barricade will keep them safely in the car.