Simple and Elegant Strawberry Jalapeno Snack Bites

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpreadTheHeat #CollectiveBias

Strawberry Jalapeno Snack Bites

The last year has been such a whirlwind.  I’ve moved 700 miles from the only place I’ve ever called home, changed jobs, bought a house and now I’m getting married!  Yes, I’m engage!  Life is good and I am happier than ever.

Sometimes when we’re happy, we let ourselves go a little.  I’ve gained a few pounds, mostly due to poor snacking habits.  With pending nuptials, I’m looking to make some changes and pick up some better habits when it comes to snacking, but I refuse to sacrifice taste.  I am always looking for new products that make snacking more interesting. Unique flavors, unique ingredients and unique preparations always spark my curiosity.

Strawberry Japaeno Fruit Spread and Cream Cheese Appetizers

My newest snack fetish definitely packs a flavorful punch.  It’s so simple that it feels almost silly to call it a recipe!  But, if you search the web, you will see that this a version of a very classic hor d’oeuvre.  It’s quick enough to enjoy as a snack and fancy enough to serve at parties.  Putting together these Strawberry Jalapeno Snack Bites is so easy!

Wasa MultiGrain Crackers

Step 1 – Grab the ingredients – Wasa Multigrain Crispbread, Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Strawberry Jalapeno Fruit Spread, Reduced Fat Cream Cheese, Fresh Jalapeno (optional) and Fresh Strawberries (optional).

Step 2 – Take the Wasa Multigrain Crispbreads and break them in half.  I used the edge of a knife to cut into mine and “crack” them.

Wasa Crackers with Cream Cheese

Step 3 – Add a little cream cheese, about a teaspoon, to each Crispbread.  Spread it just a bit.

Step 4 – Top each cream cheese coated Crispbread with a teaspoon of the Strawberry Jalapeno Fruit Spread.

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Fruit Spread on Crackers

Step 5 – Top each delightfully flavorful snack bite with fresh chopped jalapeno and strawberry.  This step is totally optional, but I highly recommend not skipping it if you are serving these at a party.  It really adds a finished, high-end look.

Strawberry Jalapeno Fruit Spread and Crackers

Crunchy, wholesome, snackable and surprisingly satisfying Wasa Multigrain Crispbread and the NEW better for you Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Strawberry Jalapeno Fruit Spread are available at your local Walmart.   Wasa Multigrain Crispbread is Non-GMO Project verified, high in fiber, low calorie and Kosher!  How could you go wrong with that?  Smucker’s Fruit & Honey spreads are naturally sweetened with sugar and pack a ton of flavor without all the bad stuff.  It’s easy to make a better for you snack when you start with better for you products.

Ibotta users, act now and earn $1.00 off Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Spread and $0.50 off Wasa Multigrain Crispbread.  These are Ibotta offers you don’t want to miss!  This is a great chance to check out the other Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Fruit Spread flavors too!

So, what do you think?  Is this a snack you could enjoy on an afternoon at home or a party with friends?

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5 Tips for Back To School Success


happy children group in schoolUnless your child is heading off to Kindergarten, the words “Back to School” are probably music to your ears.  Summer is great, awesome actually, but kids get bored and parents get burnt out.  Lack of schedules, lack of sleep and just lack of a everyone having a break from each other.  I can understand why year-round school programs have been so successful.  Despite the shift in the earth that occurs as the kids head back to school, you can make a smooth transition from the lax rules of summer to the realities of the school year.  It just takes a little planning.

Tired student sleeping over textbooksFirst, don’t over-schedule the kids, or yourself, in the first few weeks of school.  Yes, I know sports are starting up and you’re itching to tackle tasks you didn’t get to over the summer, but give it a few weeks.  The kids need some time to establish new relationships with their teachers, learn the homework routines and basically settle in.  You need to give yourself time to adjust too.  If your kids are on the younger side, their homework is your homework too.

Second, do as much of the “first day of school” as you can before the first day of school.  If you’re able to attend open house, this is a great time to bring in all of those school supplies you bought, ask questions about homework schedules/expectations and learn about your teacher.  Knowing how the teacher expects things to operate can make a HUGE difference in how successful your student (and you!) are in the first few weeks of school.

Assortment of coloured pencils, isolated on white backgroundThird, set the scene for successful evenings.  Don’t plan to come home and cook a “from scratch” meal every night the first week of school.  Like I mentioned before, your child is going to be navigating new waters, new topics and new people.  Have what you need on hand for quick, but nutritious, meals the first week and spend more time talking about their day, working on their homework and less time trying to get dinner on the table.

Fourth, don’t try to be a hero.  You don’t have to be a ‘Pinterest Mom” making packing visually stunning lunches or sign up to a “Room Mom” if your plate is already full.  Doing things out of guilt only leaves you frustrated in the end.  While doing what you can to help your teacher and make school as great as it can be for your kid is awesome, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t be “that” parent.

Fifth, don’t wait until the night before school to start enforcing new schedules.  I don’t just mean bedtime.  If you’re going to have to rise and shine earlier than you have all summer, give yourself a few days, even a week, to adjust.  The same is true for bedtime.  If you’ve been letting the kids stay up until 10 or 11 every night, it will take a few nights for their bodies to adjust to an earlier bedtime.  You too!  You may have a little trouble falling asleep the first few nights, but there’s help for that.

Melatonin To Help SleepNatrol Melatonin is a drug-free, non-habit forming way to fall asleep and stay asleep.  I’ve been using Melatonin (even for the kids) for years.  We all have times when we have trouble falling asleep.  When that happens, you can reach for the purple bottle (there are several options depending on your needs – Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve and Natrol Advanced Sleep Melatonin are my favorites!) and be fast asleep in about a half hour.  Grab yourself a $2.00 coupon here and pick up the best Natrol Melatonin product for you when you do your back to school supply shopping.

 

 

Posted in Health/Wellness, Life in General | Leave a comment

Help Support Your School With Box Tops For Education


Boxtops of EducationIt’s officially back to school season.  The supply lists are flying and the debates about education funding are back in full force.  There’s something about buying 36 glue sticks that makes you think about how much money is and isn’t being spent in the classrooms.  Our schools are underfunded, there’s no doubt about that, but there are ways you can help.

if you can afford it, buy those extra glue sticks, buy the copy paper and buy the 4 boxes of tissues.  Participate in boosterthons, fundraisers and program specific drives through out the year.  You can volunteer in the classroom, or even offer to do tasks from home to help the teacher out.  One of the easiest things you can do though Is participate in Box Tops for Education.

The Box Tops for Education program is one of the simplest ways outs there to help your school without spending extra time or money. When you’re at  Walmart Doing your weekly shopping, simply look for products with the Box Tops for Education logo, purchase those products, clip the coupons off the box at home and send them into the school.  For every Box Top collected, the school gets $.10.  That may not seem like much, but it really adds up!

Plus, select GeneraL Mills products found at Walmart have bonus Box Tops!  One product is worth FIVE Box Tops. That’s $0.50 each for your school!  It’s a great way to support our teachers and help them get the resources they need in their classroom without asking them to dive into their own pockets.

What if you don’t have kids in school?  It doesn’t matter!!  You can still collect Box Tops and pass them along to a friend or neighbor with children in school, or even drop them off at a school yourself!

if you participate in the Box Tops program as a parent or a teacher, I’d love to hear your thoughts or stories about how the Box Tops for Education program has helped your school.

 

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Enjoy A Little More Summer in Ocala/Marion County Florida

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ocala/Marion County VCB. All opinions are 100% mine.

Eatons Beach PierIt’s hard to believe that by this time next month, summer will almost be over.  I am all for hanging on as long as I can and soaking up as much of the summer sun as possible. For us, summer is always about new experiences and spending as much time making memories as possible.  Last summer, I took my kids to Florida for the first time.  I fell in love with Florida Travel and all it has to offer many years ago and last year they fell in love too.

IMG_0030The Ocala/Marion County area of Florida offers more than you would ever imagine.  I was surprised to discover that Ocala/Marion County is known as the Horse Capital of the World™. I know that I’ve never associated horses with Florida, but now that I do, I can’t imagine not enjoying some of the equine activities like trail riding, horse shows and tours.  With my daughter’s current interest in all things equine, I’m sure visiting a champion-producing farm would be on our must-see list too.

Horse Farm ToursFor the men in the family, drag racing is a little more their speed.  We’re actually all pretty big fans, owning our own car and spending several weekends a month at the race track.  Ocala/Marion County is home to the perfect spot for all of us, The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing.  The museum boasts over 140 cars of various types as well as the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.  We really enjoy looking at anything that shows how racing has changed over the years and the different cars that chronicle the history of the sport.

Don Garlits Drag Racing MuseumMe?  I’ve always wanted to try paddle boarding.  It’s one of many. many water activities you can enjoy in Ocala/Marion County.  The area is filled with beautiful, and I mean gorgeous, lakes, springs and natural pools.  Swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and glass bottom boat tours are just a few of the water activities available in Ocala/Marion County.  If you love the water, there is definitely something here for you.  My son would definitely want to try paddle boarding with me, while I’m pretty sure my daughter would be all about the glass bottom boat tours.  In addition to her love for horses, she also has a thing for fish and other aquatic life.

Eaton's BeachOcala/Marion County has a ton of other outdoor activities too!  From golfing to bicycling, hiking to tubing, and ziplines to museums, there really is something for everyone.  The amount of activities in one place makes an Ocala/Marion County vacation not only a no-brainer, but an amazing value too.  Stay for the weekend or stay for a week, you won’t run out of things to do or places to see.  And whether you prefer a hotel, a cabin or an affordable vacation rental, Ocala/Marion County Lodging offers the perfect options for everyone!  We’re more of a hotel kind of family, mostly because we enjoy having housekeeping.  It’s nice to take a break from daily chores and just relax.

How could you not relax in a place like this?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOcala/Marion County has a little summer contest going on right now to help encourage visitors to get out and active in Ocala/Marion County, the Ocala/Marion County Summer Decathlon!  The contest offers one person the opportunity to win a getaway to Ocala/Marion County by posting pictures of your Ocala/Marion County summer adventures on Instagram with the hashtag #MAR10NSummer.  Get all the details on the contest here.

Canyons Zip LinesHave you experienced Ocala/Marion County and all it has to offer?  If so, tell us in the comments or share your experience on our Facebook page.   You’ve never visited Ocala/Marion County?  Check out these Ocala/Marion County Activities and tell us what activity you’d most like to participate in when you visit Ocala/Marion County.

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Our Trip To Michigan’s Adventure and WildWater Adventure in Muskegon, Michigan

Disclosure: Our trip to Michigan’s Adventure/WildWater Adventure was sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own. #MAFirstTimer

Michigan's Adventure CorkscrewIt’s hard to believe that August is here already and that the kiddos will be headed back to school this month.  We’re trying to squeeze as much out of our last few weekends as we can, so when we were invited to check out Michigan’s Adventure & WildWater Adventure, how could we say “no”?  Michigan’s Adventure is not only a thrill ride-filled theme park, but is also the home of WildWater Adventure water park.  Two parks for one price is always a win in my book.

Being new to Michigan in general, this was not only our first trip to Michigan’s Adventure, but also our first trip to the west side of the state.  Michigan’s Adventure was very easy to find, located just off the highway, and getting in and out of the park was a breeze.  You can buy tickets online (season passes too – a great deal at $99) or at the gate.  We had a lot of ground to cover, so we rolled in right as the gate opened.  Benefits to arriving early include a nice, close parking spot and shorter wait times at the most popular rides.

Girl on Roller CoasterThe first thing we did after entering the park was find a roller coaster.  The park brochure we got at the gate had a great map of the park and a ride by ride guide showing height requirements.  Having a 7 and a 9 year old, we referred to the brochure often for both.  It was a great tool to have handy.  By little thrill-seeker was ready to hit the Cork Screw immediately.  The line was long, but this was one of the shorter rides in the park and that helped move the line very quickly.  The other roller coasters (Shivering Timbers, Thunderhawk and Wolverine Wildcat) had longer ride times, but that meant longer lines too.  My son wasn’t quite tall enough for the Thunderhawk, so I sat that one out with him while my daughter and my other half checked it out.  It was definitely my daughter’s favorite ride of the day.  My favorite was Shivering Timbers.  I have loved wooden roller coasters since I was a kid.  You will want to ride the roller coasters all day, but there are so many other things to do, you will have to pry yourself away.

Michigan's Adventure The Snake Pit Water SlidesWe took a break from the roller coasters, grabbed some lunch and headed to WildWater Adventure water park.  Our visit ended up being falling on the hottest day of the year, so as you can imagine, WildWater Adventure was packed.  As hot as it was outside, it only took a second to hop into the amazing wave pool at Boogie Beach and cool down, way down.  Boogie Beach was by far the BEST wave pool we’ve ever been in.  The waves were awesome and you could tell how much everyone loves it just by watching the people rush to the pool when the buzzer sounds.

Michigan's Adventure Water SlidesAfter we cooled down a bit, we hopped back in line to check out Mammoth River.  It was so fun being in the large raft in an open, river slide type setting.  Somehow, I always end up being the one who heads down backwards, no matter how the raft is turned when we start.  The kids think it’s hilarious!  We tried a few other slides as well, but our favorite was the Snake Pit.  You literally plunge into a tube of darkness, which is the most awesome part, having absolutely no idea what is coming next.  At the end of the ride, you’re plunged out of the darkness into a wading pool.  We could’ve ridden the Snake Pit over and over.  One of the things our trip was really missing was a cabana.  WildWater Adventure offers cabana rentals, something we’ve never tried, but after being there on the hottest day of the year, I would absolutely recommend checking into cabana rental if you plan on spending most of the day at WildWater Adventure.

Michigan's Adventure Sea DragonAfter making a splash at WildWater Adventure, we headed back into Michigan’s Adventure to spend some time on our family favorites.  The kids and I have been visiting theme parks and fairs since they were pretty young, and they definitely have their “kid-friendly” favorites.  My daughter loves The Scrambler.  She will make me ride it with her until I’m literally sick.  My sons favorites are the swings, which are more my speed.  And on the hottest day of the year, swinging around in the breeze felt amazing!  We also hit up the Sea Dragon, the bumper cars (three or four times) and the log ride.  Our last stop for the day was Funland Farm, a special 60th anniversary petting zoo with alpacas, llamas, a mini donkey and more!

At the end of the day, we were all exhausted.  The kids even slept in late Sunday morning, which is almost unheard of in our house.  Michigan’s Adventure and WildWater Adventure are both definite “must-visit” summer spots for us from now on.  Check out Michigan’s Adventure/WildWater Adventure and all of the great rides and family activities here.  Which ride do you think would be your favorite?  If you’re a Michigan Adventure’s alumni, what is your favorite thing about visiting the park and when’s your next trip?

 

Posted in Reviews, Travel | 10 Comments

Great Savings on Purina at Kroger

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyPetMyStar #CollectiveBias

Purina at Kroger

Make sure to check out Purina’s coupon offers at Kroger, at this link.  There will be great offers on both Tidy Cat Litter and Dog Chow Natural products beginning on July 31st. Then head to your nearest Kroger for all your pet care needs!

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We Epoxy Coated Our Garage Floor and Lived To Tell About It

Weekends are always busy for us.  Sometimes it’s projects, sometimes it’s racing (drag racing) and sometimes it’s adventure.  And some weekends are more fun that others.  Last weekend, we headed out for a sponsored trip to Michigan’s Adventure/WildWater Adventure in Muskegon, MI (more on that later this week) and this weekend we’re stuck around the house doing some things for our day jobs.  We have a road trip to NC coming up in a few weeks, and then I’m really hoping for a lazy Saturday to mill around in yoga pants and watch TV in my bed.  We really haven’t stopped “going” since we moved into our new house at the end of May.

Floor Prep for EpoxyAfter we closed on the house (but before we moved in), the other half started talking about epoxy coating the garage floor.  In my mind, we were having someone do this for us.  In his mind, I was crazy if I thought we were paying for someone to do this. DIY here we come!  We hit up our local home improvement store to see our options, look at colors, etc.  There are tons of options, and after some online research, we chose a dual color kit that was supposed to give a high-shine, marbled finish.

Mixing EpoxyBetween the instructions and the feedback we read online, we both knew that prepping the floor correctly was super important.  The epoxy brands sell their own prep kits, but with both of us having construction backgrounds, we went straight for the muriatic acid.  Because we used an acid, making sure we thoroughly rinsed and neutralized the concrete was important.  We scrubbed and rinsed scrubbed and rinsed.  Prepping and drying was pretty much an all day process.

You cannot prepare the epoxy in advance, so before you start mixing, make sure you have everything ready to start application.  And I mean everything.  Once you break the seal on the epoxy pouches, you’ve got about 45 minutes max to work with the material.  This includes the time you spend mixing the pigments.  For our application, we had two different pigments, so each batch had to be split and mixed into two separate colors.  The is a very specific rolling technique that has to be used to get the marbled effect.  We didn’t exactly follow the directions to start and ended up with a light brown and had to redo our first section.

Coating Garage Floor with EpoxyWe took turns rolling the floor and cutting in around the edges.  Cutting in the edges was the hardest part, mostly because  you were trying to keep the marbled effect going but were trying to do it by hand with a brush.  We also coated the exposed concrete foundation block.  We eventually plan to finish the drywall and install trim to really finish out the garage.

It took us about half the day to roll out our three car garage.  We took short breaks between each pack of epoxy, mostly because we knew we wouldn’t e taking breaks during the limited working time we had with each pack.  Thankfully, it wasn’t very hot out and we got pretty close to 45 minutes to work with each pack.  If it had been hotter, the epoxy would’ve set up quicker, reducing our working time.

Epoxy Coated Garage FloorOnce we finished rolling out the floor, we let it cure for almost 2 days before putting anything on it.  That was a little longer than what the instructions called for, but after all the work we put into the floor, we wanted to be extra sure it was good to go.  In the end, we really do like the marbled pattern and LOVE the high-gloss finish, but the chip style finish would’ve been a lot less work.  The garage floor is super easy to clean now and I feel like we drag less debris into the house than we used to from our old garage.

The one caveat to the epoxy coated floor – it is SUPER slick when it gets wet.  The kids were playing in the driveway with the water hose and my daughter ran into the garage with wet feet and immediately fell.  She was fine, but we have all been more conscious of the floor and water since that.  If I had it to do over again, I’d go with a solid or a chip finish rather than the marble (just for the ease of application) but I would absolutely recommend epoxy coating your garage floor to anyone.  And it is a project you and your other half can do without killing each other.  After all, we did it and we’re both still standing.

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Managing Dairy Sensitivity with LACTAID®

Disclosure: I have received information and materials from JOHNSON & JOHNSON CONSUMER, Inc., McNeil Nutritionals, LLC Subsidiary the makers of LACTAID®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post and I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write it.

Salted Caramel Chip Ice CreamDoesn’t that ice cream look delicious? It’s Salted Caramel Chip and it tastes just as good as it looks and sounds. But, if you’re like me and sometimes have tummy troubles after indulging in your favorite dairy, you might have to pause and take a moment to decide if eating this delicious treat is worth the potential rumbling tummy later. No worries, friends! I have great news… This ice cream won’t leave your tummy rumbling, grumbling or otherwise unhappy! This is real dairy ice cream made by LACTAID®.

Dinner with FriendsAll dairy sensitivities aren’t the same and not everyone who recognizes that dairy messes with them identifies as lactose intolerant. I’m one of those people. Dairy gives me issues. I’ve never considered myself lactose intolerant though, and still don’t. My stomach doesn’t always give me trouble when I enjoy dairy, but I know the possibility always exists.
Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some degree of dairy sensitivity? 75% of the population globally has some type of dairy sensitivity. Looking at the numbers, of my dinner mates and I above, at least 2 of us have issues with dairy and maybe even more! If you have issues with dairy, you definitely aren’t alone. LACTAID® Dairy Products are the perfect solution for everyone whether they have occasional trouble with dairy or are a severe sufferer.

Lactaid Milk and CookiesCookies and milk are a timeless pair. A warm cookie just isn’t the same without a tall glass of milk. LACTAID® is real milk just without the lactose so it has the same great taste and nutritional benefits but won’t mess with your stomach. And, since dairy sensitivity isn’t always predictable, LACTAID® is a safe bet anytime and for anyone, whether you have dairy issues that are lifelong or they’re something new as you’ve gotten older.

Lactaid Cottage CheeseWhen I was younger, managing my dairy sensitivity was easy. I simply avoided dairy. It wasn’t the right way to handle it then, and as I get older and my body needs the calcium more than ever, it’s not the right way to handle it now. I love cottage cheese. I want to eat cottage cheese. I need to eat cottage cheese. LACTAID® Dairy Products have made it easy for me to grab a quick cottage cheese and fruit snack without having to worry about spending the rest of my afternoon in the bathroom or just with an uncomfortable rumbling tummy. My life is too busy for the interruptions and distractions either of those side effects of dairy sensitivity can cause.

Lactaid ice creamWith flavors like Salted Caramel Chip, LACTAID® ice cream lets you indulge in ice cream and your other dairy favorites safely and without worry.  Get all the details about LACTAID®, including the flavors and varieties available, by visiting the LACTAID® website.  There is even a recipe converter you can use to make your own lactose free recipes using LACTAID®s.  You can also connect with LACTAID® on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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Tips for Surviving Chronic Back Pain

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by LivRelief and may contain affiliate links.  Thoughts and opinions shared are my own.

Tips for Surviving Chronic Back Pain

If you’ve never experienced chronic pain, count yourself lucky.  If you’re a pain sufferer like me, I feel you.  I’ve dealt with chronic back pain since I was a teenager.  My pain is the result of a structural defect in my spine coupled with years of “use and abuse” (read – minor, avoidable, repeat injuries).  Over time, all of those things have added up and left me with a near constant pain in my back.  My pain levels vary from what most would consider a mild annoyance to the kind that makes it impossible to sleep.  My hips ache, my lower back aches and sometimes my shoulder muscles bunch up to the point of feeling the ache all the way down my arm.  It’s not a good feeling.

I’ve learned a lot of way over the years to help me deal with my chronic back pain.  Some are common sense, some are not.  Perhaps you’ll learn something you didn’t know, or maybe just have your suspicious confirmed.  Either way, these are my tips for dealing with chronic back pain.

LivRelief1. Don’t try to be a hero.  If it hurt, it hurts.  Treat your pain with a topical cream like LivRelief Pain Cream.  Last weekend, we cut down a tree in front of our house.  It was clear within a few hours of being back inside, my lower back was going to need some relief.  Twisting, bending and carrying heavy pieces of wood did me in.  There was no shame in reaching for LivRelief.  While there are many topical pain creams on the market, LivRelief is different.  First, more than 90% of the ingredients are natural, the active ingredient being capsaicin.  Second, there’s no nasty smell, no awkward tingling/burning sensation on your skin, and it is paraben, SLS, gluten and petroleum free.  LivRelief is available on Amazon and can be used to treat many types of pain, not just back pain.

LivRelief Pain Relief Cream

2. Don’t take pain sitting down.  Staying active is a huge in pain management.  Get up and move, take a yoga class (stretching does amazing things!) but don’t over do it.  Stay active with gentle exercises.  Even walking helps.  When you are sitting, make sure you have your back supported.  Grab a pillow if needed.  When I’m at my desk working, you will very often find me with a pillow positioned behind my back to give me some extra support.

3. Don’t cheap out on your shoes.  Skip the flimsy, no support flip flops and sandals and opt for some supportive shoes.  There are many great brands out there that offer great support and comfort, while maintaining a stylish look.  Yes, you will pay more for good shoes, but your back will thank you!

4. Know when to see a doctor.  If you’re suffering through pain and avoiding the doctor like the plague, give it up.  I know, I don’t like to spend my time in a waiting room either, but the fact of the matter is that a good doctor or chiropractor can help target the source of your pain and give you specifics on how to combat it.  On of the hardest parts of moving to Michigan from North Carolina was leaving my chiropractor.

5. Pay attention to your diet.  Junk in = junk out, right?  True, but did you also know there are risks associated with some of your favorite veggies?  The nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers) have been linked to muscle pain, stiffness, insomnia and other health issues.  Do your research first, but if you eat a lot of foods from this plant family, you might want to consider a trail period without them to see if you notice a difference.

LivRelief Old to New Box

My chronic back pain is never going away, but I try to keep it from interfering with my daily life as much as possible.  Being a good partner, mom and friend is important to me and being there and able to do the day to day things we all enjoy is a big part of that.  If chronic pain is getting you down, check out LivRelief on Amazon and do some research on your own type of chronic pain to see what lifestyle changes you can make to help keep you active and living life.

Buy LivRelief now and receive $2 off your purchase when you use promo code ONU56TLN during checkout on Amazon.com.

 

 

Posted in Health/Wellness | 8 Comments

My Mazda3 Experience

Mazda 3 5-DoorAlmost two weeks ago, I got to experience a week-long test drive thanks to Mazda USA and Driveshop, and amazing marketing company who wants real people to share real life experiences with cars that go beyond the horsepower and technical specs.  Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on and experiences with the Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring.  Features vary by trim level, so check them all out at Mazda’s website.

I’ve spent my entire life around cars of every make and model, but this is only my second experience driving a Mazda.  My first was a long time ago, back when I was a teenager.  As I mentioned last month, we had been hoping to head North to the Saginaw Bay/Bay City area to take in the views and experience some of what the area has to offer.  Taking the Mazda3 5-Door out to stretch her legs was the perfect excuse.  The drive was about an hour and gave me a chance to experience the Mazda3 5-Door in a true ‘highway driving” experience.  We packed up Saturday morning and headed to the USS Edson, a retired Navy destroyer.

Mazda3 Saginaw BayFrom the moment you approach the Mazda3, the features start jumping out at you.  The Mazda3 has an advanced keyless entry system, letting you unlock the car without digging out your keys.  You won’t need to pull them out to start the car (push button start), so why have to dig them out to unlock it?  Once you start the car, more features spring to life, quite literally!  There is an awesome little display (called the Heads Up display) that raises behind the steering wheel on the dash, allowing you to see your MPH and even directions from the navigation system without taking your eyes off the road.  It is one of my favorite features.  The navigation system even alerts you to the speed limits where you’re driving and if you are exceeding them.  I also love that the display sits high and not down in the dash, just another feature helping you keep your eyes on the road.

Mazda 3 5-Door ConsoleThe controls for the entertainment/navigation display are situated right between the seats and are super easy to reach.  They use a joystick-like set up allowing ease of use without using your eyes.  Heated seats and dual zone temperature controls help everyone stay comfortable no matter what season, though I tried to enjoy the moonroof as often as possible.

Mazda 3 5-Door Steering WheelOn the road, my favorite feature was the Blind Spot Monitoring.  Really, it was a toss up between that and the Heads Up display.  Both revolutionized my driving experience.  If you’ve never driving a car with BSM, you have no idea what you’re missing.  I was able to stop craning my neck, worrying about whether I was missing anything in my mirror or not.  And, before using the Heads Up display, I never realized how much time I spent looking down at my speedometer.

As far as driveability, the car handled very well in both warm, sunny conditions and in the rain.  Our trip to the Bay City area was mostly highway driving, but my regular daily commute to and from work is mostly stop and go city traffic.  The Mazda3 accelerated well, braking was spot-on and even with most of my driving for the week being “city driving”, I still averaged over 30 miles per gallon for the week.  Blind Spot Monitoring was particularly helpful during my 50 mile (each way) commute, as was the Heads Up display.  I also very much enjoyed the apps on the Entertainment System, like Pandora.  I was able to connect my phone and stream my Pandora stations and other music on my phone through Blue Tooth.

Mazda 3 5-Door Red

The Mazda3 Grand Touring is a super sporty little ride.  And even though it is a smaller car, it is very roomy.  The trunk was a little tight, but as long as you aren’t hauling around huge baby gear or other large items, you’ll be fine.  The interior has a lot of nice details, like red stitching and leather trimmed seats, steering wheel and gear shift.  This model also comes with paddle shifters, if you want to switch over to a more sporty style of driving.  Me, I’ve never been one to shift gears, so I stayed away from that feature.  It has loads of exterior trim features, including awesome wheels and a shark in antenna.  I got multiple comments through the week about how “snazzy” the car looked.

Of course, I try to be super honest about my reviews, so there are a few things I want to mention.  These aren’t bad things necessarily, but things to keep in mind…

First, the super sporty exterior trim means the front of this car is very low.  You need to be careful when pulling up to a curb to make sure you don’t pull up too far.  This is pretty normal for most sporty looking cars, but still worth the mention.  Second, the cruise control is not adaptive.  I have to admit that adaptive cruise control is one of those things for me…especially with the amount of stop/go/slow down highway driving I do. If you have no idea what adaptive cruise control is, then never mind.  You won’t know what you’re missing.  Last, road noise.  The Mazda3 has low profile tires and low profile tires equal road noise.  It’s the norm for any car with low profile tires and might surprise you if this is your first experience with them.

All in all, the Mazda3 Grand Touring was a great, fun to drive car with tons of features.  I would recommend it for teens/young adults, couples with no kids, couples with older kids and empty-nesters.  If you’re lugging around a baby or very small child and all of the gear that goes with them, you might want to check out a larger vehicle in Mazda’s lineup.

When you’re car shopping, what features are most important to you?  Do you have a feature now in your vehicle that you just can’t live without?  Tell us about it in the comments below.  Or, if you’re a Mazda owner, we’d love to hear your experiences with the brand as well.  Happy driving!

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