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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Let's Go Places - With The Toyota Land Cruiser

Disclosure: I was given a Toyota Land Cruiser to test drive for a week in exchange for a review. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

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I have never considered myself a car gal but the moment this beauty was dropped off in my driveway the car gal in me came out strong!  Let me introduce you to the 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser and let me tell you why this particular SUV will have you searching for places to go while living in luxury in this car.  

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We had our road trip scheduled for the weekend we had this car and we were excited to hit the road.  Getting into the Land Cruiser has me wanting to clean up my mom car and get it back to clean condition.  It felt like a breath of fresh air to get into this car.  

That being said, this is the type of mom car the mom in me wants.  Sure, minivans are great but honestly, the Land Cruiser gives you all of the same specs as a minivan but in a much more stylish body.  The style of the Land Cruiser screams luxury.  

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2017 Toyota Land Cruiser General Specs:

  • EPA Estimated Fuel Economy* (city/highway MPG)
  • Full-time four-wheel drive
  • 8-speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i)
  • Seating Capacity 8 (3 Rows)
  • Projector-beam Light Emitting Diode (LED) low and high beam headlights with auto level control and auto on/off feature, headlight cleaners and integrated Land Cruiser logo
  • Color-keyed heated power, auto-dimming outside mirrors with cameras, turn signal indicators, vortex generators and power-folding, reverse tilt-down, memory features
     
  • Rain-sensing aerodynamic variable intermittent windshield wipers and intermittent rear wiper
  • Four-zone automatic front and rear climate control with air filter, dust and pollen filtration mode, push-button controls, separate second-row control panel, individual temperature settings for driver, front passenger and rear-seat passengers, and second- and third-row vents
  • Rear-seat DVD entertainment system with two individual 11.6-inch display screens, RCA jacks, HDMI input, remote, and two wireless headphones
  • Twelve cup and bottle holders
  • Entune Premium JBL® Audio with Integrated Navigation and Entune® App Suite
  • Front and rear parking assist sonar


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Our Review:

If you read all of those specs I am sure you can understand that our review of the Land Cruiser is only positive.  Or jealously that our current vehicles do not have these specs!  HA!  I will be the first to admit that when I first sat down in the car to take the kids to their eye appointments I had to take about 10 minutes to figure out what I was doing.  Hello technology!  I do have a SUV currently, but the Land Cruiser sat even higher, and about 2 days into driving it I was used to that and actually miss it a little bit.  

Top specs we enjoyed -

Cooling system.  This last week has be HOT HOT HOT in Colorado but the Four-zone automatic front and rear climate control really helped us all stay nice and comfortable. 

Sun Roof.  Jeremy's big request on our next vehicle request.  Having the option of the sun roof being completely open or just half way open was great.  

DVD system.  This is was a huge asset during our road trip to the Royal Gorge. 

Smooth and quiet ride.  This is a large vehicle but it moved with grace and was super quiet, even on those small mountain highways.  

Park assist.  I am not a fan of parking in small areas, having this assist was very helpful. 

Rain-sensing wipers!  During our road trip it rained a few times.  The first time it started raining hard and the wipers kept up with the rain it threw us for a loop but we finally figured out that this car was smarter than the rain drops!  Pretty great!

Storage.  For our road trip we packed pretty heavy.  I was surprised at how much we could comfortable pack with out any issues.  


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Jude and Teagan's Review:

When Jude and Teagan saw the Land Cruiser in our drive way they were so excited.  Teagan's first response was, "Its so shiny!"  I asked the kids what their favorite parts were about this car.  

  • DVD player - of course!
  • A radio that plays Kid Bop songs all day.
  • Sun Roof.
  • How the seats feel.  (Leather seats)
  • All of the cup holders!



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Our family has never owned a Toyota before but after this week are certainly loving this brand.  The Land Cruiser was a great family option that helped us ride in style no matter the destination.  I think it is important to love the car you drive and Toyota has added so many great options to the Land Cruiser that this is certainly a vehicle that anyone can love.  

Stay connected to Toyota:


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Let's Go Places!


Tell me which specs you would most enjoy while driving the Toyota Land Cruiser. 


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Monday, July 24, 2017

Why You Should Visit Jamaica On Your Next Trip

This is a partnered post.


Why You Should Visit Jamaica On Your Next Trip


Jamaica to me is the heart of the Caribbean and of course the birthplace of reggae music and the Rastafari movement. It is one of those special places that everyone should see for many reasons, such as the nature and mountains, as well as the relaxed atmosphere that is unlike anywhere else on entire planet. I wrote this guide because I think that everyone should take a Jamaica vacation at least once in their lives, hopefully you find the guide useful and hopefully you actually get the chance to use it on your next trip there.



The Culture

One thing to note is the difference between Caribbean culture and Jamaican culture but the thing is that these are not exactly the same. They share certain elements with one another but I would not say that they are totally the same especially in the way they speak their language. Jamaicans are much more connected to their African heritage in comparison to other nations in the area, especially in the music that they make. Many of these cultures and customs come directly from the Rastafarian religion on the island and this is quite unique to Jamaica. I really don't believe that there is a country that is more relaxed than Jamaica, which is saying a lot. this can be very difficult to understand until you are actually on the street in Jamaica yourself and you see the way and the speed that people move in. They loap slowly around and probably do not feel a huge rush like we do in other countries

Saving Money

Haggling is a way of life in Jamaica, so don’t let a high price put you off. All you really need to is to make a counter offer and it is all part of the fun of mingling with the locals and you should never accept the first price quoted to you. This applies mainly to people selling souvenirs and cab drivers. My advice in this sense is to be tough, but also be fair, because there is nothing more that locals hate than tourists that aren’t willing to give a little extra for a great experience. Eat the street food if you want to get some really tasty food. Generally speaking the food is more traditional and less catered to tourists and it is also much cheaper. This is the real food that the locals would eat, not the expensive food that you find in all the touristic restaurants.

The Food

One of the highlights of Jamaica is definitely the food and living in the Caribbean definitely has its perks in this regard. Seafood is definitely a staple of the Jamaican diet and is something that you should embrace whilst you are visiting. One thing you can’t beat is how fresh it all is and it is perhaps some of the best seafood that I have ever tried in my life on my last few trips there. I also really like the spiciness of the food, particularly with the jerk seasoning that is made up of many different herbs and spices. You definitely need to try saltfish, fried plantain, jerk chicken or mutton curry. The food in Jamaica is absolutely out of this world and it really is some of the best food that you will ever try and the best way to describe it would be soul food.

Getting Around


Generally speaking, the best way to get around in Jamaica is by taxis, they are always convenient and relatively cheap (don’t forget what I said before about bargaining). The other possibility is to rent a car, but you need to be wary that they drive on the left in Jamaica and the steering wheel of the car is also on the other side! For some this may be a little confusing, particularly in a place like Jamaica. Don’t worry though if this is what you want to do, because it is possible and a lot of fun too (it just takes some getting used to)! 



Things To See

This could potentially be an endless list, but I want to keep it to the good stuff, so here are some amazing things that you can do in Jamaica:
  • Visit the Blue Mountains - The Blue Mountains are a stunning national park and are actually the longest mountain range in all of Jamaica. They feature incredible nature and stunning views of the island. This is a must visit place in Jamaica and is also world famous for the Blue Mountain Coffee that is said to be some of the best in the world.
  • Surf at Boston Bay Beach - This is definitely the most popular and recognized place to surf in all of Jamaica. The beach has the class white sand, mesmerizing turquoise waters and a nice mix of locals, expats and tourists. The surf is relatively calm and a great place for beginners to get out on a surfboard for the first time. There are also a number of places offering surfing lessons and board hire, so don’t worry if you don’t know how or you don’t have the right gear. There are also plenty of street food stalls here selling Jerk chicken and pork, so this is the perfect snack after some hard surfing.
  • Explore Montego Bay - Montego Bay is the second largest city in Jamaica (after Kingston, the capital) and has plenty to offer such as Doctor’s Cave Beach Club and Rose Hall. Montego Bay definitely has some interesting and more subdued things to do, but is a place that I definitely love.


Tell me about your Jamaican travels below!


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Eckrich Smoked Sausage and Veggie Kabobs

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

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Goodness it has been a hot summer here in Colorado.  Hitting almost 100 degrees every day for the last few weeks.  That is hot for us!  Lucky for us, the way our house sits on our property means around dinnertime the sun move to the front yard so our backyard is perfect for playing, grilling and eating.  

If you are like me, when it is this hot you are not wanting to turn on the stove or oven so grilling is the best way to prepare dinner.  That being said, there is only so much grilled chicken my family can handle so last week I decided to get a bit creative with a family favorite.  We eat a lot of Kabobs, mostly chicken and steak.  Last week I surprised the kids with something tasty!  

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Eckrich Smoked Sausage and Veggie Kabobs

Free printable recipe here


Ingredients:

Eckrich Smoked Sausage - Cheddar links 
Fresh pineapple - cubed 
White onion - chunked 
Red, Yellow and Red bell peppers - chunked 
Optional - Tomatoes and Mushrooms 
Skewers 
Rice 

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Directions:

1.  Prepare grill and preheat. 

2.  Cut the Eckrich Smoked Sausage links into 1-2 inch sections.  

 3.  Prepare all of the fresh ingredients. 

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4.  Build the kabobs by alternating items on the skewers.  

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5.  Place each kabob on the grill and let cook for 8-10 minutes.  Turn the kabobs a few times through out the cooking process.  

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6.  Once cooked throurghly, remove Eckrich Smoked Sausage and veggies from skewers and place on a serving dish. 

7.  Serve Eckrich Smoked Sausage, pineapple and veggies over a bed of rice.  Enjoy! 

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We love this recipe for more than one reason.  It is filling, yet light, easy and kid friendly, and a frugal meal full of veggies and fruit but most of all, so full of flavor.  The Eckrich Smoked Sausage is a great protein to add to any grilling recipe for the summertime meals you are planning.  Our favorite is the Cheddar Smoked Sausage because the cheddar gives the smoked sausage a little extra kid friendly flavor. 

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While we prepare dinner on the grill, the kids get to enjoy the cooler backyard during the hot summer evenings.  We especially love that they are able to run out some of their energy before dinner so we can have a pleasant family meal on the deck.  

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Eckrich Smoked Sausage has a naturally hardwood smoked flavor that the whole family enjoys. We love providing our kids with quality foods like Eckrich Smoked Sausage and having a brand that we can trust makes it so easy. Finding ways to create yummy meals with out all the stress and preparation allows us to enjoy moments with Jude and Teagan during these summer months.  

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You can find Eckrich Smoked Sausage at Safeway, Walmart or King Soopers . Stop in and pick up all of these ingredients and surprise your family with a delicious home-grilled meal and still have time to play in the backyard with your kids! Now that is a MOM WIN!  

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What is your favorite way to prepare Eckrich Smoked Sausage for your family?

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

After School Question Jar For Kids - Free Printable



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It is really hard to believe that we are here talking about school time already.  We have had such a great summer so far and we are looking forward to the next few weeks before getting back into the school routine.  Now that both of the kids will be in school every day, our routine will be changing a bit this coming school year and we are excited.  If your kids are anything like Jude and Teagan when they are asked how school was when they get home from school the general answer is always, "GOOD!".  This school year, we are planning on doing things a bit different.

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After School Question Jar For Kids 


Now that I am working from home every day, I have a feeling that we will be having a lot more time after school to really talk and connect with the kids.  Plus, Jude will now be having homework every evening so our after school will really begin to look different.  

One goal that I have is to ask my kids about their day and make sure that they give more than a one word answer when asked!  I decided to create a fun after school question jar that will contain a number of questions for them to pick and answer while we enjoy a nice after school snack.  

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This After School Question Jar for Kids is so easy to create and can be modified for personalities and ages very easily. 


Materials Needed:

Medium jar with a lid
After School Questions Free Printable
Scissors 
Pen 

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Directions:

1.  Print out the questions available from the printable. 

2.  Cut out each question and place into the jar.  

3.  After a few weeks you may need to create some new questions on blank pieces of paper.  

4.  Close jar with questions inside and use every day after school. 

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Now when we sit down to enjoy our after school snacks of our favorite Goldfis crackers we can make some memories while hearing all about Jude and Teagan's day at school.  With life always being so busy, especially during school time it is important to find these moments with your kids to really enjoy and create smiles with your kids.  

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For Jude we will have him choose 3 questions a day and for Teagan we will have her choose 2 questions a day.  It is a great way to sit with the kids for a while and hear some great stories about their day.  These moments need to happen more often, even during the busy seasons of life.  Sit, listen and enjoy with your kids this back to school season! 

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We choose Goldfish® crackers in the multi packs for our after school snack because they are easy to carry around to the front porch, kitchen table or even to the park.  My kids enjoy these crackers and I love providing them with a snack that is wholesome and yummy.  Goldfish® crackers are always baked with real cheese and have no artificial flavors or preservatives. Goldfish® crackers are a snack that every parent can feel great about giving their children. 

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For more inspiration on how to make sure you are capturing these important moments with your kids visit Goldfish® for more activity ideas!


What are some questions you would add to your After School Question for Kids?


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