Saturday, June 23, 2018

How to Help Your Child Get to Sleep Easier in Summer

As parents, it's our job to make sure our kids get enough sleep at night. It can be hard enough to get the proper amount of sleep throughout the school year. But when summer rolls around, getting enough shut-eye might seem almost impossible.

Each night, adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep. However, your kids may need 10 or more hours of sleep.

  • Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours of sleep
  • Preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours
  • Children ages 6 to 13 need 9 to 11 hours
  • Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours

And while it may be hard to go to bed early during the summer months, there are some simple ways to promote healthy sleeping habits within your family. U.S. News and World Report has a few suggestions.

The first step to enforcing healthy sleeping in the summer is to establish a bedtime routine. Setting limits like going to bed at a certain time or participating in soothing activities with your kids just before bed can help get everyone on a set sleep schedule. For example, have them brush their teeth, put on their pajamas, and read a book before bed at the same time every night. You should also put the electronics away 30 to 60 minutes before you want your child to get under the covers. Phones, iPads, and televisions are okay for use throughout the day, but there’s no need for them in the bedroom.

Just as it’s important to get your child to sleep at the same time, they should be waking up at the same time every morning. Even though it may be tempting to let your child sleep until 11:00 a.m., especially on weekends, get them up at a reasonable hour. Getting them up every morning around 7:00 a.m. will make their transition of waking up early for school come fall a lot easier. If your child is a teenager and doesn’t want to be bothered with a wake-up schedule, encourage them to try it out for a week and tell you how they feel after.

Of course, it can be tough sticking to a healthy sleep schedule when life gets in the way. In the winter, cold and flu season can disrupt your kids' nightly routine, while allergies can do the same in the summer. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation estimates that that nasal allergies affect 50 million Americans. However, getting your family used to a sleep schedule will actually help them fall asleep when issues like these arise. As the body grows accustomed to falling asleep and waking up at certain times, the body will naturally adjust to this daily rhythm, promoting better health overall.

U.S. News also recommends explaining to your child why you’re setting rules. Don't make it seem like you’re trying to be mean, but that you’re looking out for their well-being. Explain to them that sleep is important to help them feel better and have more fun during the day.

If your child is prone to waking up throughout the night, don’t make it a big deal. Brief awakenings are normal, so if they wake up and come running to you, tell them that there’s nothing to worry about. The more they get used to it and know that it’s okay, the easier it will be for them to fall back asleep quickly.

Getting your child to sleep during the summer is just as important as getting them to sleep during the school year. To get them to fall asleep during their time off from school, get them to bed and wake them up at the same time, and remind them that waking up throughout the night is nothing to fret about.

Friday, June 22, 2018

#Giveaway Celebrate Summer with Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation + Enter to Win a Hotel Transylvania Prize Pack

Like many, when it comes to the summer and finding those fun family movies to watch in theaters, we like to seek out the ones that everyone can enjoy. So when we heard about the new movie, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, which will be in theaters on July 13th, we were excited to mark the date on our calendars and also add to the excitement by sharing the Hotel Transylvania movies during our family movie night.

With the Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2, my family and I can watch those movies we have enjoyed in the past over and over again as we await the new movie to hit theaters. Where in the movies, we can first get to know the group of monsterous family and friends along with the strange outsider who is introduced to the bunch. We can continue to follow their story in Hotel Transylvania 2 as more members are added to the unique group of family and friends. Along with the movies, we can also enjoy the fun bonus clips which include the Mini Movie, "Goodnight Mr. Foot" and more! Then on July 13th, we can head to our local theater and make it a family movie night out as we watch our favorite group of monsters take off for summer vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship. Where Drac can relax and enjoy catching up on his moon tan, playing games with his friends and family on the ship and more! Making the choice to add the line up from Hotel Transylvania to your summer fun, a choice that you and your family will be glad you made. And to help with your next family movie night, we will be giving one lucky reader their own Hotel Transylvania Prize Pack which will include the DVD's, Hotel Transylvania and Hotel Transylvania 2.

Product received, thank you to Nuk and to PR for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Go hands-free with the Nuk Simply Natural Freemie Double Electric Breast Pump

All nursing moms know that breastfeeding isn't always a bed of roses, and there are many times when a good breast pump can come in very handy. That is where the new breast pump from NUK comes in. The NUK SImply Natural Freemie Double Electric Breast Pump is truly hands-free pumping. When I opened the box I couldn't believe how small the pump is. You can clip the pump right to your waistband or your belt and you are good to go. The pump comes with three programmable settings to personalize the pump to your body and comfort and also has a timer.
I love that the Nuk included three of the Simply Natural bottles with the Freemie breast pump. The bottles are designed to be as close to mom's nipple as possible. I tried the bottles with my little girl who is three months old and she had no problems drinking from it and transferring right to the breast afterward. I know what a worry it can be for working moms if your baby will take a bottle while you are away and this can potentially allay that concern.

I do recommend taking some time at home to try this pump out before taking it outside and also to watch the instructional video from the company, on how to correctly assemble the Freemie collection cups. I found the video to be extremely helpful. It does take a few hours to charge the pump battery, and the company recommends boiling some of the cup parts, but not all of them before use. Make sure to try it before you take it to work with you. I recommend wearing a loose fitting top and maybe a scarf for pumping at your desk.

I wrote the post while pumping with both hands-free! I also made dinner for the whole family while pumping. I have three kids at home so sitting down to pump is inconvenient. Now I can grab a snack for the older kids while pumping a bottle for later.

Unlike some other breast pump companies, the Nuk Freemie comes with three different sizes of the funnel (the part that goes directly over your nipple) because one size does not fit all. With other brands, if the one that's included doesn't fit, you have to purchase another. Because multiple sizes are included you can try each size on to find the best fit for you, without extra purchases and returns. I call that a win!

Product received, thank you to Nuk and to PR for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Summertime With Hood Calorie Countdown

This post was sponsored by Hood as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

When it comes to the summer months and those hot days spent outdoors, we not only enjoy starting our days out with the varieties available from Hood Calorie Countdown, but also making cold treats that the kids can enjoy as well. See, since we started drinking the Hood Calorie Countdown dairy beverages in my house, I found that the selections were a great alternative to the traditional milk and chocolate milk beverages that we had enjoyed. This is because we can get the dairy beverages that offer lower sugar and calorie contents than others we might have gone with in the past. Where with the Hood Calorie Countdown Whole, we get 33% fewer calories, 75% fewer carbs, and 75% less sugar per cup than traditional whole milk. Or where with the Hood Calorie Countdown Chocolate, which happens to be a favorite with my kids, we get 56% fewer calories, 67% fewer carbs, and 75% less sugar than traditional chocolate milk.

Along with those facts that come with making the switch a simple one, I also found that my entire family can appreciate that we can enjoy the dairy beverages from Hood Calorie Countdown in place of the traditional milk, without sacrificing the flavor. This is because the drinks from the Hood Calorie Countdown selection are made from ultra-filtered milk with water, cream, along with other ingredients to give us that delicious and creamy taste minus all of the calories, sugar and carbs. And I can appreciate that when it comes to the Hood Calorie Countdown, that it is made with milk from farms where the farmers pledge to not use any artificial growth hormones. Making it not only a tasty choice to go with but a healthy one all around.

Then when it comes to enjoying the flavors, such as the Hood Calorie Countdown Chocolate, on those hot summer days or during cookouts, we found that the kids can enjoy it frozen! To make these pops, we simply fill the frozen ice pop molds with the Hood Calorie Countdown Chocolate, place them in the freezer for at least 5 hours, then take them out to enjoy and cool down with. Giving the kids a delicious, low calorie, low sugar, and low carbohydrate treat that is made from their favorite chocolate dairy beverage!

And right now, be sure to get your coupon and save $0.75 on your next purchase of Hood Calorie Countdown by going here:


Monday, June 18, 2018

Summer Camp Considerations: Can My Child Still Go If They Have a Severe Allergy?

Now that summer is right around the corner, families are starting to think ahead to sending their child off to day camp or sleep-away camp. This is considered to be a rite of passage for many kids. But parents who have children with severe allergies -- to peanut products or plants, for example -- might wonder whether it's even safe to send their child to summer camp. The good news is that it can be done, provided that you conduct some thorough research and take ample precautions. Here's how to make sure the summer camp experience will be a healthy and happy one for your child.

Make sure their records are up-to-date

With so many staff members at any given camp, the best source of information for them will be your child's medical records. At this point, camp staff is likely used to consulting allergy records, as 4% of children under the age of 18 have known food allergies. But you'll need to make absolutely sure that the medical records and prescription information you provide are accurate and clear. You should also go over meal information and camp activities in detail with key staff members -- and get everything in writing -- to ensure that your expectations will be met every step of the way.

Ask about training protocols

When your child is away at camp (particularly if it's in a remote area), you'll need to depend on knowledgeable staff members as the first line of defense in the event of an allergic reaction. Although up to 65% of all ER episodes can be treated in urgent care facilities, an allergic reaction can be a true medical emergency. Therefore, you'll need to assess whether the camp you've chosen is truly up to that task. Any well-run facility should have very specific protocols in place for dealing with allergies and you should absolutely ask what these protocols are. You need to know for certain that these situations are handled as recommended by experts and that you will be notified along every step of the way. You need to know that all staff members are properly trained and will know when to call 911 in case of an attack -- even with medication on-hand.

Visit your doctor beforehand

Although nearly six out of 10 households report that at least one of the residents has gone camping, things become a bit more complicated when you need to bring medication along. To alleviate the possibility of running out of medications or being caught without the right kind, it's important for families to visit their designated doctors well in advance to ensure the camper has everything they need before going off to camp. Considering how difficult many families have found it to find and buy EpiPens at their local pharmacies, you should prioritize this and take care of it ASAP. Since many camps will accept only the EpiPen brand due to differences in training, you may not be able to get away with a generic brand here. Your doctor may be able to provide an EpiPen sample until your prescription is able to be filled, but that won't do when it's time to head off to camp. So give yourself plenty of time to get what your child needs.

It's understandable that you may have concerns about sending your child away to summer camp, regardless of whether or not there are health issues at play. But by planning ahead and asking a lot of questions, you can gain valuable peace of mind and know your child is in excellent hands this season.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Natural Bath Oils To Help Your Kids Sleep

Any mom will know that getting your little ones to sleep can sometimes be problematic. This can have a knock-on effect to how you are feeling, in fact, a survey showed that moms of young children reported feeling tired 14 days out of every month. With every additional child in the house, the probability of not getting enough sleep rose by 50%. No wonder everyone is exhausted. Using natural oils in a bath before bed can help you and your little ones to get more sleep. Even better, these three oils are really good for the skin: natural healing that is great for the whole family.
Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is a really gentle essential oil. Because it is chemical-free, it is perfect for helping you to get to sleep, certainly no hangover feeling the next day! Clinical studies on people with insomnia showed that the use of lavender oil as a sleep aid did indeed improve sleep by 2.5 points on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. It is also excellent for the skin, as a natural antibacterial oil - particularly good for those grubby little monkeys. Lavender has anti inflammatory qualities, great for tired muscles and growing pains. Put a few drops into the bath and your children will be relaxed before bedtime, with soft and beautifully clean skin.
Chamomile Oil
Chamomile is a natural sedative, it calms the body, slows the heart rate and helps give an overall feeling of relaxation. Roman chamomile has a pleasant fruity smell. It is often used in aromatherapy to relieve stress, as well as help you to sleep better. Chamomile is often used for soothing the skin, and particularly good for eczema. It is so gentle that it’s perfect to help protect baby’s soft and fragile skin. You can also put a few drops of oil in the bath to help relieve and itchy, dry or irritated patches too. Such a good all-rounder.
Valerian Oil
Like chamomile, valerian is often taken in a tea to help promote good sleep. A few drops of oil in the bath will do the same thing. It can also help the whole family look after their skin. For parents, valerian has been shown to help prevent wrinkles and dryness. For little ones it helps promote healing - it can be used to treat cuts. It also helps with dry patches, giving skin a nice, even tone. 
Natural oils that can help everyone sleep better, and give you great looking skin at the same time! These should be a staple in everyone’s bathroom cupboard, good for the whole family.

#Giveaway Tunai Creative Drum Earphones Review

Let us ask you a few questions: what is your favorite song? Songs? How about your favorite group? Favorite soundtrack? Now that you have a song or two stuck in your head, imagine how amazing they always sound with the volume cranked up. We all love music and the better the sound quality the more enjoyable the experience, no matter whether we are dancing at a party, grooving to our workout playlist or enjoying our very own music bubble with some headphones on. These days, we all carry around an almost limitless music collection on our smartphones and of course the best way to enjoy it is through the right set of headphones (over-the-head or in-ear). We are always on the lookout for affordable, high-quality headphones and hence we jumped at the chance to try out the Creative Drum Hi-Res Earphones from the good folks at Tunai.

This is the first foray into making earphones from Tunai, after the launch of their bluetooth receivers. They started with a very successful Kickstarter campaign last year and now have made the Drum earphones available to all. We are a sucker for eye catching design and right off the bat this product blew us away as soon as we opened the mail package. A sleek, square box with cool graphics on the outside and a nice foam insert inside to nestle the Drum earphones. The Drum earphones look great out of the packaging as well, with a great combination of black and variety of metallic colors to choose from. The earbuds are covered in a soft rubber that feels silky smooth in the ear and doesn’t slip, even after long use. The wires are soft and flexible and haven’t really tangled into a crazy knot yet even after being in use for a couple of weeks.

So they look great but how do they sound? There is good news on that front too. They sound great! Yes they may not have the sound quality of high-end (and pricey) headphones but they sure hold their own. The bass and treble come out nicely balanced, the different instruments sound clear and very low distortion when the volume is cranked up. In this price range of around $30, the Tunai Creative Drum offers almost everything you could ask for. There are now many wireless headphones in the low price range as well but many don’t sound great and bluetooth is still very much a battery hog. I love that I can buy a couple of these Drum earphones so I’ve always got one close at hand - maybe throw one in the gym bag and a second in my office bag. Music is magic for me, so I don’t really know all the technical details of how they make such great sound come out of such small earphones but if you are so curious you can learn all about it on their site. All in all, these are a very solid pair of earphones with a great price. These unique, design-forward Drum earphones could also be a great gift for Dad or even a back-to-school survival kit to help keep the peace among the roomies.

Now one of our fabulous readers can get their hands on one of these Drum earphones in the color of their choice, all thanks to our partners at Tunai letting us run a giveaway:

Product received, thank you to Tunai for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own.


Friday, June 8, 2018

SunBrite TV - Veranda Series at Best Buy

Picture yourself out in the backyard enjoying a nice summer barbecue with your family and friends. Somebody mentions that an exciting game is on TV or the popular TV show is about come on, and then everybody makes beeline to head inside and gather round the TV. Now what if that scenario can be changed to one without going indoors to watch TV and where TV can be enjoyed outside, whether in the shade or even in the sun. This is where the outdoor TV series from SunBrite comes into play. The SunBriteTV series is a family of weatherproof televisions designed for the outdoors: Full Shade (Veranda), Partial Sun (Signature), and Full Sun (Pro).

Outdoor living is very much on-trend these days and anything that can help us stay outside longer is worth checking out. We all have come across outdoor bars, grills, fireplaces or decks at one time or another but equally convenient are outdoor TV’s. The ones made by SunBrite are meant for permanent outdoor installation and are more durable, safer, and higher performance than using indoor TVs outdoors. Not many people know how delicate indoor TV’s can be when taken out of their enclosed environment: they are not meant to deal with sunlight, fluctuating temperatures, wind, snow, or the occasional curious squirrel. Think of an outdoor TV as an affordable room addition with a pretty open seating selection.

As usual, the good folks at Best Buy have a good deal on SunBrite TV’s with a free Outdoor Weatherproof Tilt Mount for 37" - 80" TV Screens & Displays - (Black) with the purchase of: SunBriteTV - Veranda Series - 55" Class LED - Outdoor - Full Shade - 2160p - 4K Ultra HD TV. The right installation does go a long way in getting the most out of any TV. So go out, get a SunBrite TV and stay out!
This is a sponsored post, written by us on behalf of Best Buy. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

#Giveaway The Aero Scooter by Flybar: A Sweet Ride

When you have long winters like we do (and we do have really long ones!), summers tend to be spent outdoors as much as possible. As far as our kids are concerned, it doesn’t matter if they are on two feet or two wheels, as long as they are out in the open, they are happy. Given that they do outgrow so many of their clothes and toys every year, we have been in the market for a new bike and scooter for our 7-yr old. As luck would have it, the good folks at Flybar have come out with their 2-wheel first scooter, the Aero Scooter, this year and asked us to test one out. Flybar has been around since 1918 (Happy 100th Anniversary!) and is known for being the original Pogo Stick company, so they know their way around making products for kids.

Even before the box was opened there was evident excitement about the scooter from both our boys, i.e. the packaging is pretty nifty and is bound to be a magnet for most kids. The unpacking and assembly of the scooter took barely 5 minutes and it was ready for inspection and trial. Flybar has done a great job in choosing vibrant colors and designs and that does make it stand out from many plain-looking competitors out there. The three color choices are pink, orange and blue (the one we choose). The construction looks and feels very sturdy, with the frame being steel and the deck supported by a steel composite. The Aero claims a maximum weight limit of 175 lbs (compared to about 145 lb limit of our previous kick scooter), so the scooter can potentially handle ‘big’ kids too (at least wait until the kids have gone to bed though!). The scooter was designed for kids 5 and older, so the handlebar easily adjusts from 27.5 to 32 inches. making it easily transferable from one kid to another (if you can pry it out of their hands first, that is). It seemed it was most comfortable for our 7 year old son to have the handlebars between his hips and waist, so that might help you determine if it might be a good fit for your child. The standing board has a grit tape on it to minimize any slippage, along with a cool design pattern. The light up wheels add a definite wow factor for the kids. A prominent brake in the back is pretty standard for these kinds of scooters but the Aero brake does seem to be more pronounced than many others we have seen. We are hopeful we can finally teach our son to use the brake vs wearing down the soles of his shoes!
In addition to the good looks, the Aero has a pretty sweet ride as well. The sturdy construction and larger wheels offer a relatively smoother ride and easy maneuverability. Our 7-yr old was zipping around on it in no time and liked it so much that we had to take it along on a picnic in a nearby park as well. We were impressed that the park’s uneven paths didn’t seem to slow him down much on this scooter. The grownups squeezed in a short ride (ok, the ones that were under the max weight limit, that is!) and we were pleasantly surprised that it was even pretty comfortable to balance the Aero across a shoulder when it was sidelined on some of the rocky hiking trails. We totally expect the Aero scooter to be part of our kids’ riding collection for a while, tough enough to survive the transition from the oldest to the youngest with flying colors. And of course, to make sure your littles have fun and stay safe while they are learning new skills, don’t forget to make sure you have all the recommended protective gear: helmet and elbow, knee and wrist pads.

To make this summer more memorable , we have partnered with Flybar to offer our fabulous readers a chance to win an Aero Scooter in the color of their choice:

Product received, thank you to Flybar for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Thanks, Mom - 5 Experience Gifts Your Mom Will Love...Any Time of Year

Mother’s Day has been and gone with all its associated fanfare, rampant consumerism and shopping mall schtick. Opinions might be divided on the value of what many term a “Hallmark Holiday”, seeing it as just another excuse for retailers to cash in on consumer sentimentality. However, one thing we can all agree upon is that Moms hold an incredibly special and central place in our hearts and lives all year round. As such, communicating your love and appreciation of the mothers in our lives shouldn’t be limited to one day on the calendar. Any time is a great time to make Mom feel special, and what better way to do so than with an experience gift? It doesn’t have to involve jumping out of a perfectly good plane, or off a bridge with a chord strapped to your legs. Here are a few ideas of experiences you can gift that special lady in your life this year:

The Gift of Fitness

New Year’s resolutions are now probably a distant memory. With summer finally here, it’s the perfect timing to help her get in shape by gifting her a few sessions with a great personal trainer. Way too many regular gym memberships end up unused. A personal trainer offers the motivation of knowing that there is someone waiting at the appointed time and place. Usually this is the nudge someone needs to lace up those trainers, shimmy into their exercise gear and get the ball rolling.

More Than Skin Deep

Every woman loves to be pampered. We all know how hard Moms work looking after husbands, kids and grandkids, often while trying to juggle their own professional commitments and careers. With so little time to stop and focus on themselves, most mothers will be thrilled to indulge in a beauty treatment, mani/pedi, massage or similar gift. While you’re at it, you might want to get one for yourself, so you and Mom can make a date out of it for extra credit!

The Gift of Giving

While not an experience in the true sense of the word, the more socially minded may be delighted with a charitable donation in their honor. With contributions rising to all-time high levels in the US, it’s clear that more and more people are making giving a priority in their lives. Many charities offer gift packages, memberships and charity cards as creative ways to make a statement of support for the causes that truly matter to the woman in your life.

She Brew

It’s impossible to miss the explosion in craft and micro-brew beers all over the USA. Miller Time is probably officially over, and more women than ever are enjoying boutique beers on a regular basis. If Mom is a lover of the amber fluid, then a craft beer tasting or brewery tour can be a deliciously fun activity for her and perhaps a few friends. With microbreweries popping up in pretty much every town, do some research to find out the best places near you and contact them to arrange a tour.

Cooking Up a Storm

The proliferation of reality cooking shows watched religiously by millions has sparked renewed interest in cooking as a pastime, rather than a dreaded household chore. With so many women of all ages looking to explore new horizons in the kitchen, a cooking class might be the perfect option. Not everyone can be a Master Chef, but it’s never too early or too late to add new skills to your repertoire or simply rekindle the sheer love and joy of culinary creation.

Whatever you choose, make sure your Mom doesn’t have to wait until next May to know how much you appreciate her.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Work from Home this Summer with Epson Workforce WF-2860 Printer

How do you guys maintain a positive work/family balance during the summer time?  As summer is kicking off around here, we are finding ourselves more frequently taking advantage of the flexibility our corporate gigs offer to work from home.  We've grown so accustomed to communicating with each other via instant messaging or texting that usually our colleagues barely realize we aren't in the same building when we are working from home!  The only downside is that sometimes we miss having access to some of the perks of actually being in the office, and for me, having to print out more than one or two simple documents is usually enough to get me out of the pj's and headed in to the office.

I love my personal all-in-one printer, but as great as it is for printing out photos and simple tasks, it really doesn't meet my needs for larger print or scan jobs.  Who has time to manually duplex pages or place them one-by-one on the printer glass when you are printing more than 2 pages?! On the other end of the spectrum, we don't have a huge amount of office space to dedicate to a home printer and, of course, we're on our own to purchase one since it is really a convenience item.  This rules out some of the larger workplace-focused models, so we were really excited to try out the WorkForce WF-2860 printer from Epson.  We were really surprised at the accessible price tag of this All-in-One model and it has a few key features that make it a great fit for our printing needs when working from home.

Wireless printing and all-in-one simplicity are frankly table stakes for home printers these days, and the WF-2860 easily met these criteria. Two of the real differentiating features on this printer for me are the Auto Document Feeder and Auto 2-sided printing.  The document feeder has yet to get jammed up and I've found it super simple to operate.  I can quickly get back to work after loading up to 30 pages into the feeder.  I love that you can use the feeder to scan documents as well - the Epson iPrint app made it super easy to print out a multi-page document directly from my iPhone, manually sign and notate individual pages, scan using the auto document feeder and then easily attach it to my email response and send back to my colleague in just a few minutes and only using my iPhone (no more transferring between my phone and laptop!).  Love, love, love!  I have to admit I wasn't really shopping for the Auto 2-sided printing feature, but it was a nice surprise and I've really liked being able to conserve paper when printing out longer documents (yeah, yeah, I'm old school, I still like to proofread on a real piece of paper!).  Finally, the touch screen navigation was really easy and functioned well (though I do like using the Epson iPrint app too!). 

For my work-from-home days, this printer is really a perfect solution.  It easily handles my needs for an all-in-one printer, with great quality printing for documents and photos as well as the convenience I need for the occasional larger print jobs.  At about $130, this printer is a great value for a working-from-home dad or student. (And if you are really efficient, buy it and sign up for Amazon Dash ink replenishment at the same time to get an even greater deal - I found it there today for about 30% off the list price!  This would be a great deal to set up a new college student before the back-to-school rush!) 

Product received, thank you to Epson as well as the PR for supplying me with a product for this review, all opinions are my own. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

How to Stock the Bar for Your Summer Wedding

Are you completely overwhelmed with wedding planning yet? More than 63% of brides say that they feel a ton of pressure to have the perfect wedding, according to WeddingWire’s 2017 Newlywed Report. You have so many options for your vendors, colors, and all the other details of your wedding. For example, there are more than 7,880 tailors, dressmakers, and custom sewers across the United States, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's a lot of options just for your dress and tux.

There are more than 44,230 weddings performed every weekend in America, and it's not surprising that you want yours to stand out. If you want to be a unique bride and have a wedding unlike any other you've attended, then the way you stock your bar should be unique too. However, planning the bar for a wedding can be overwhelming if you've never done it before. Check out these tips to get you started.

What kind of bar do you want?

There are a few different types of bar packages you can choose from. First, you can choose from an open bar or a cash bar. With an open bar, the guests do not pay for their drinks. They can order anything at the bar, and you pick up the tab. A cash bar requires the guests to pay for all of their drinks. Second, you have to choose what kind of booze you want to serve. You can have either a full bar or a limited bar. A full bar means your guests can get anything, including top-shelf liquor. A limited bar only offers what you choose, but it's typically beer, wine, champagne, and a signature cocktail.

Have enough bartenders

The number of bartenders you need will depend on who many guests you have. Having two will be optimal even if you have a smaller wedding of around 150. If you think you'll have more than 250 guests, then you should have three bartenders. You want to make sure you stick with a staff that has been trained to tend bar. While most states require you to be over 18 to serve alcohol, most bartenders are 25 or older. They will be able to keep your guests from drinking too much, which is something you can't really do when you implement the self-serve method.

How many guests are coming?

This is one of the biggest reasons you need to keep track of those RSVPs. You need to know how many people you will be serving so you can figure out how much booze you need. According to The Knot, you can estimate that every guest (over 21) will have
one drink per person per hour. So if you have a five-hour reception, plan on five drinks per guest. When it comes to buying enough wine, one bottle of wine equals five servings. A case of wine comes with 12 bottles. When it comes to hard liquor, one 750ml bottle should serve 18 to 20 guests. Finally, one beer bottle will serve one person, obviously.

Know the crowd

Finally, you need to understand what kind of drinkers you're dealing with. Does your family love wine? Are the liquor lovers? Or do they not really drink? On average, a full bar should consist of 50% wine, 20% beer, and 30% liquor. A limited bar of only beer and wine should be 75% wine and 25% beer. You can adjust all these numbers, though, once you know what your guests will actually drink.

When planning the bar at your wedding, try to follow these tips. You want your guests to have a good time, but you should be keeping safety in mind as well. So, you should keep plenty of non-alcoholic options stocked at the bar as well!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Do chinchillas make good pets?

If you’re thinking of bringing a new pet to your household or, even more, you’re considering choosing one for your kids, a chinchilla might not be the right decision. Compared to several other species, it is harder to take care of, and it has specific requirements that have to be completed in order for the animal to keep his or her health on par.

This article will point out some of these facts, all of which you need to take into account if you want to become a chinchilla parent.

What do they eat?

There are two kinds of chinchillas found in the world, and the classification is pretty logical, once you think about it. There are wild and domesticated animals. The wild ones feed on anything from fruit and seeds to small insects while the domesticated ones shouldn’t be fed a diet composed of nuts and seeds alone, as they can develop all sorts of medical conditions, mostly related to digestive disorders.

Chinchillas should receive a mix of hay regularly, as well as an extra of seedless fruit once in a while. One important thing to mention is that you should steer clear of vegetables and fruit that might cause gas buildup in the pet’s gut.

They are crepuscular

While gerbils are nocturnal, for example, chinchillas are crepuscular. What this means is that the moment in a day when such a pet is at its most active is at dusk and at dawn. If you are looking for a type of animal that you can interact with throughout the day, you might find that a chinchilla is not suitable.

The pet will remain unsociable during the day because it needs a lot of rest. However, you can interact with it early in the morning and late in the evening.

Habitat specifics and climate requirements

Because the chinchilla originates from South America, it’s pretty clear that this animal doesn’t need a living temperature of more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In case the temperature is higher, the animal might become the victim of a heat stroke, which is why you always have to ensure that the climate is on par.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to the pet’s habitat is that chinchillas need wide and tall spaces to feel at ease. It wouldn’t hurt if you added several toys and other entertainment items to the enclosure. In case you didn’t know, chinchillas can actually get bored. An entertaining cage will go a long way in providing the necessary activity and exercise for the animal.

Does a chinchilla make a good pet?

The bottom line is that this species is a bit more difficult to care for compared to others. They are also less sociable when compared to other pets. There have been few cases where the animal has become violent, so this can happen and it might not make the right choice for kids, especially.

On top of everything, these animals don’t really like interacting with humans, although they can be quite friendly. It takes too much time to gain their trust, at least based on some of the information we’ve found.

Friday, June 1, 2018

How to get a good pizza oven

Who doesn’t love pizza? But there are many differences when it comes to the toppings, crust, as well as the quality of the ingredients if you go from one pizzeria to the next. And the one that you can make with your own hands might prove to be the best, in the end. Why’s that? First off, you’ll know the exact quality of the ingredients and make sure that you only use the best salami, the best mozzarella, and the best basil or tomato sauce.

Besides, there’s not a lot of effort that goes into crafting the perfect pizza. Once you learn the basics, you’ll be able to work on your skills so that they become better and better.

The real problem is finding a good oven for homemade pizza. The oven can make it or break it, so to speak, because if the heat is too high and you can't customize it properly, you’ll end up burning the pie. On the other hand, if it’s too low, you might have to keep it in the oven for too long, and the crust might come out soggy or too crispy in some areas.

To make it slightly easier for you, we’ve prepared a short guide that can provide some tips to get you started when you’re in the market for a new oven for making pizza.

What type do you want to get?

There are several options when it comes to the design and capabilities of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Cart ovens, countertop ovens, wood-burning ovens, as well as typical convection ovens can make good choices depending on your preferences.

Convection ovens are convenient, but the most advantageous models are by far the rotating pizza ovens you might get for a fair price. The point is that you compare the pros and cons of each of all of these before making your final call.

What about the fuel?

Of course, most modern kitchen ovens will use electricity or gas, but the traditional pizza oven burns wood as fuel. Unfortunately, wood-burning alternatives can cost a pretty penny, but you always have the option of building your own if you have enough space in your backyard and you like DIY-ing in your spare time.

What’s it made of and how big is it?

For a model that needs to be installed in your kitchen, we recommend considering the matter of the design, as some users might want to make sure that the appliance goes well with the rest of the tools they have in their kitchens. Both cob and stone ovens are fuel-efficient, and they even look nice. Brick ovens are great because they are also winners in terms of fuel efficiency and they look great. The downside, though, is that you can’t really build them in your kitchen.

4 Tips to Get Your Kids Outside and Away From the Screens This Summer

If you're like many other parents, you're afraid that your child is spending too much time indoors staring at a screen and not enough time getting fresh air and exercise. In fact, two-thirds of parents worry that their child spends too much time on electronic devices. It seems that those worries are not far fetched.

The CDC found that only one-quarter of children ages six to 15 get moderate exercise for 60 minutes each day, five days a week. According to the Washington Post, children between the ages eight and 18 spend at least 6.5 hours every day with electronics, which equals 45 hours a week. Finally, more than 24% of children ages two to 16 have asked to stay inside so they can watch their favorite TV show.

Now that the warmer weather is here and summer is just around the corner, it's a great time to get your kids away from their electronics and into the great outdoors. How are you going to do that? Here are some ideas to start with.

Go to the beach

Who doesn't love the beach? It's said that
95% of all Americans live within an hour's drive of a navigable body of water. You and your kids can run around in the sand, swim in the water, and even build sand castles. It's incredibly fun, and your kids will be getting the outdoor time they need. You also can hop on a boat and take a cruise around the water to enjoy the breeze and catch some fish. Boating is a fun activity for people of all ages -- University of Washington football fans have been tailgating on boats since the 1920s, but you can certainly make this a family-friendly activity as well.

Get some ice cream

After a meal, your kids will likely ask for ice cream in the summertime. It's one of America's favorite treats. In fact,
90% of American households indulge in this sweet, frozen treat. If you live close enough to an ice cream shop, walk there with your kids. It will give them a great chance to exercise and get some motivation too. If you have to drive, make sure they play on a playground nearby while they eat their ice cream. It's unlikely that your kids will say no to ice cream and a playground.

Do outside chores with them

There's nothing wrong with putting your kids to work during the summer time. Have them help you tend the garden, rake up leaves, or take the dog for a walk. If they are reluctant, make a game out of it. See who can rake up the leaves the fastest or who can make the dog do more tricks. A little friendly competition will get your kids motivated to get outside.

Find a new nature trail

Finally, you can explore new places with your kids this summer. Find a nature trail nearby that you've never been to and go exploring. Your kids will love to see new, natural sights, and you can teach them new things along the way. Your family can also get a great workout when you're hiking the trails.

Summer is one of the best times of the year to get outside and play. If your kids would rather stay inside and stare at their screens, you have to do your best to kick that habit. Remember that the more fun the outdoor activity is, the more likely your kids will want to engage.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Is Your Child Ready for Their Own Bank Account – Tips You Can Use to Set Up an Account

As a parent, you will be with your child through all kinds of firsts in their life. You will guide them, offer them support, and lend them a hand when needed. While not as glamorous as some of the big firsts out there, opening their very first bank account is a pretty monumental moment. It shows they are old and responsible enough to look after their money, and it acts as an introduction to banking, which is something they will deal with the rest of their lives.

As you prepare your child to open that first account, there are some tips you can use to help you find the right account. Not only that, you may be curious as to what information will be needed for the bank to create an account for them. So, let’s jump right in.

Parental Limits on Accounts

First things first, yes, it can seem awfully scary just opening an account for your school-aged child and handing over a bank card to them. That's exactly why many of these accounts offer parental limitations that you can set up. You can do such things as limit their ATM withdrawals and even view their bank account activity. This can be helpful as kids learn the responsibility of having a bank account.

Any Amount of Money Can Be Deposited

Perhaps you've been holding off opening an account for your child until they "have enough" money saved. In reality, you can open most
student checking accounts with any amount of money. They could deposit just a couple of dollars and it will still be fine. The earlier you open an account for them, the faster they can get started and learn about how banking works.
Research the Various Accounts

Before you actually head to the bank and open the account it can be helpful to research the types of accounts they offer. Some require a minimum balance (this is more common with savings accounts), some require a minimum balance to waive fees and service charges, some allow for a set amount of free transactions per month, and there are online accounts, etc. You need to pick the one that best meets their needs and spending/saving habits.

If you’re feeling a bit confused with the options, you can always speak to someone at your local branch and get some advice on the best accounts for kids.

What Do They Need to Open the Account?

Now it’s time for the logistics: what is needed to open an account. Here in the U.S., you will need an initial deposit amount (cash), your child's social security number, address, dates of birth, and your own picture ID. Parents will need to sign all the legal documents on behalf of their kids, which is why you should bring along your own details.

Remember it Can Be Changed at a Later Date

Keep in mind that whatever type of account you open right now for your child can always be changed as they start to save more money, get older, and their spending/savings habits also change.

Monday, May 28, 2018

#giveaway Get ready to save the day with the Paw Patrol Ready for Action Set!

My boys love Paw Patrol. What is it about a bunch of talking rescue pups, that are always there to save the day? All you have to do is yelp for help, or so the saying goes. My six year old loves to build and create. My eight year old also had fun trying it out. I’m always looking for new projects and toy to spark the creativity in my little engineers' brain.

We got to try the Magformers Paw Patrol 20-piece Ready for Action set and both my boys were so excited to play with this magnetic set. It comes with 14 magnetic pieces and 6 insert character cards and two sheets of easy to follow, step by step picture directions on how to build and put together nine different models.The instructions are on a sheet that is both durable and wipe-able, which is a must with messy little kids! There are infinitely more models to build from your child’s imagination. This is a great way for any young child to learn 3D shapes.

This set has interchangeable pictures of all my sons’ favorite characters and both triangles and squares that are magnetic. The pictures of the different characters slide easily into the smaller tiles, which snap into the larger squares. This set can be used to build with other Magformers pieces for even more options. My kids have already spent hours playing and building with these. Clean up was so easy and fun since the kids could slide the pieces around on the floor and the other pieces would stick to each other.

This is the perfect birthday gift for any Paw Patrol lover! Remember for safety this Magformers set is for ages 3 and up. They will love building with Marshall, Rubble, Chase, Skye, and the rest of the Paw Patrol friends! Your little one will be playing with these toys for years to come!

Product received, thank you to Magformers as well as the PR for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own. 

Moving Into A Mobile Home? Remember These Handy Tips

You've signed the lease or obtained the deed to your new mobile home and you're ready to get the moving process underway. Congratulations! Unfortunately, there's still a mountain that needs to be climbed: moving. Approximately 35.1 million Americans move every year, but many of those who move into modular or mobile homes in particular underestimate the challenges that come with this unique type of move. But we're here to make it as simple as possible -- here are just a few tips to help you have a smooth move into your modular or mobile home.

Start Downsizing Early

To be quite honest, it's ideal to start the downsizing process as soon as you've made the final decision to move into a mobile or modular home. There's not much you can do if it was a last-minute or unexpected choice, but otherwise, take control of the situation instead of letting it take control of you. Permanent Modular Construction “PMC” are 60% to 90% completed in a factory-controlled environment, and transported and assembled at the final building site. While this is convenient and efficient in a number of ways, it also means that your modular or mobile home is unlikely to have a basement to provide extra storage space. Start too late and you'll just be exponentially overwhelmed, or you won't get rid of enough and won't have the room to store all your belongings in your new place as a result.

Don't Neglect Donation/Recycling Options

Don't just throw all of your unwanted belongings in the trash during the declutter and downsizing process. Not only is this wasteful, but it's harmful to the environment. Take some time to seek out some recycling and donation options to make the best use of everything you don't want to bring to your new place.

"When moving to a mobile home you will have to rid yourself of a lot of the clutter that fills your current home...Before you move to your mobile home take all of that clutter and donate as much as you can to local charities. By donating old clothing and furniture you will not only be able to clear out space, you will also be helping less fortunate members of your community. You may even be able to save money on next year’s taxes," writes Kenny Soto on Mobile Home Living.

Have Fun With Personalization

Your options may be limited if you're just renting, but otherwise, don't hesitate to spruce up your new home and make it truly feel like your own. Plant a garden or invest in some other landscaping project, paint the walls, get new flooring, or do whatever it is that you feel you want your new home to have. There was a 2% increase in spa visits from 2014 to 2015, making the addition of an above-ground jacuzzi or hot tub a great option as well. Whether your modular or mobile home will remain your abode for the next few months or the next 30 years, it's worth it to invest in your overall satisfaction and comfort level by tweaking it to reflect your unique tastes and hobbies.

Moving into a mobile home should be seen as a new chapter in your life that's full of opportunities. Take the process one step at a time, think things through, and you'll be settled into your new home before you know it.
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