Organizing and Planning Ahead For A Trip

Be Sure To Organize Ahead Of Time For Your Travel

Organizing prior to a trip isn’t hard, it just takes time management.


Planning for a trip, of course depends on what kind of trip you are going on.  Is it a family vacation, are you flying or driving? How many people are going?  Is it a business trip and you’re leaving the family at home?

For this post, I’m going to plan for a business trip with one adult going from the family.  For our family, this has been me doing all the traveling. Dave doesn’t travel for work, but for the last several years, I have been traveling multiple times throughout the year.

I’m planning this week for my trip next week to Bentonville, Arkansas for our first Collective Bias conference, SoFabCon. I’ll be gone for a week from home.

Plan at least two – three weeks prior to your trip

Plan what you are going to wear. Go through your wardrobe to make sure you have the clothing, shoes and accessories you’ll need for the trip. More than likely, you’ll have all you need, but there might be occasions that you do need to shop for something new prior to the event.

If you have to order sometime online, you should probably plan out further than 3 weeks to be sure you receive it on time, and it fits.
You want to give yourself enough time to return or have something altered if needed.

Be sure to check your accessories to be sure you have any jewelry, cosmetics, crazy socks etc that you might need.

Plan Week Ahead

1) Plan out meals for your family, or at least make sure needed grocery items are stocked in the house.
2) Get all the family laundry completed before you go.
Personally, I do this because if my hubby needs to do laundry, I come home to baskets full of clothes that I can’t tell if they are dirty or clean (nothing folded when it comes out of the dryer). He will use my sorting bins to put clean clothes in, I find my sorting bins upstairs in bedrooms.. oh my – an organizers laundry nightmare!
3) Prepare a packing list.
It is so easy to forget things when you are packing.  Make sure you add things on there like business cards, extension cord (if you take your laptop etc with you), phone chargers, camera download cords etc. In this day and age of electronics, there are a lot of accessories needed to use them.
4) Prepare a Family “To Do” List
Especially if you are going to have teens at home without you. When do they have to be at practices, events? Does anyone take daily medicine that needs to be remembered? Will they remember to feed, water and walk the dog or clean out a litter box. What day is trash day?
5) Make a copy of your itinerary.
Make sure your spouse knows how to get hold of you, what flights you’re on and where you’re staying.
6) Be sure to print out any tickets or passes you might need. It’s great to have everything on your phone, but if you can’t get service, you could be in a bind if you count on having important documents stored electronically.

Couple Days Prior To Your Trip

1) Start packing for your trip. You won’t want to pack any clothes that will wrinkle until the last minute, but have them ready to go. You can pack underclothes, jewelry and other items that you don’t have to worry about the “wrinkle factor”.
2) Prepare any food items you’re family might need while you’re gone

Planning ahead will make you’re preparation go much smoother, and generally you have what you need while you’re gone. It also will help to decrease stress for you and the family while you’re gone.



Subscribe by Email

Ice Cream Festival

Utica’s Sertoma Ice Cream Festival

Each Memorial Day Weekend for the last 39 years the Ye Old Mill in Utica Ohio has been the home of Old Fashion Velvet Ice Cream Festival

It is a yearly tradition for our family, along with many zillions of other people!  I mean really, who can resist Velvet ice cream?  We always enjoy the old time cars (muscle cars), playing games, getting good food and of course eating ice cream.

ye old mill

These pics are from one of our visits in 2010.  I had posted on my Explore Ohio with Sandy blog, but wanted to share with all of you too! I can’t wait until we go this May.

ye old mill

My video gives you the feel of it all.

The water mill works and is just pretty cool.

ye old mill

water mill

The Mill is on one side of the street and you can sit by the water, eat your ice cream and check out the extensive car show. Ice Cream Festival

You’ll find carnival games and foods galore! Ice Cream Festival

Then you can cross the street to find more food….. and a large craft show Ice Cream Festival Ice Cream Festival

But the best part is the Ice Cream! Ice Cream Festival

Alex opted for the shake this year.

Ice Cream Festival

But not Zach. Notice the ice cream on the nose. lol…. oh so good!

Ice Cream Festival

Elise’s favorite is the mint chocolate chip.

Ice Cream Festival

Mine happens to be the Moose Tracks… oh yum!

Ice Cream Festival

Dave and I enjoying the day with the kids.

Ice Cream Festival

I just thought this was a cool pic of Zach.

Ice Cream Festival

More information

Utica Old Fashion Ice Cream 
Facebook pageSchedule of Events


May 25-27, 2013


Velvet Ice Cream The Ye Old Mill
11324 Mount Vernon Road, Utica, OH, 43080


This was first posted May 2012.

Pin It
Subscribe by Email

Loved Mariano’s in Chicago

Wish We Had A Mariano’s In Columbus!

I had the opportunity to have a tour of the grand opening of the Harwood Heights Mariano’s Fresh Market last week. I walked out of that store really wishing that I would be able to shop there regularly.  Of course, that isn’t an option for me since I don’t live in Chicago, but I’d love Mariano’s to come this way!


The feel of the store was nice. It was very crowded since it was the grand opening and you could feel the energy and excitement that everyone had. What makes the store different?  There were many differences from stores I’m familiar with.

They have a $6 meal that you can purchase to take home, or eat in the store. You can pick the main course and a couple sides for a $6 or $10 meal. These foods looked like awesome home cooked meals. We were going to ate lunch while we were there and everything I saw, I was thinking… oh, I want to get THAT for lunch! Look at those pot pies! They were huge! I’ll tell you what, you wouldn’t be able to pick out these meals at a restaurant for $6!


The bakery was incredible. Have you heard of Fruit Loop or bacon donuts? Look at some of the goodies.

marianos bread

They have their cake decorators work where you can watch them. I really loved that.


They have creativity rights to create fun! These little 5″ cakes were darling. Loved the cupcake cake!


I SO wanted to try one of these cream puffs, but I did refrain.


They had a grill set up in between the seafood and meat departments. You could ask them to take a salmon or steak and grill it for you right then!


polish sausage

They have an extensive wine department. You can also create your own six pack of beer. I thought that was really unique. This particular stores has an extensive couple of international aisles.

international aisle

We were able to meet Mr. Mariano, the CEO of Mariano’s. He loves visiting the stores and stopping to talk to families shopping. He wasn’t too sure what “bloggers” were, but we helped to fill him in. It was nice to see him in the store, and was really friendly.

bob marianos

There is an huge floral department and the flowers were absolutely beautiful.

flower department

Sushi anyone? They had a sushi bar. I’ll admit that I didn’t try it myself. But they were making it fresh as it was ordered.

marianos sushi bar

It sure was pretty though, and three of the bloggers did have sushi for their lunch and loved it.

marianos sushi

Melissa @ConsumerQueen and I had a fresh salad and fresh fruit.


Vivian King was our tour guide, and we’ve been working with her through Collective Bias. It was great to meet her in person. She had the ribs that were so awesome! There is a BBQ department that prepares them fresh in the store. We were able to try samples of them earlier. She said that she normally always gets the sushi at the grand openings, but she was straying from her normal today.

vivian king

This is what I really wanted to try for lunch, but from the samples that they had throughout the store, I was actually a little too full to get one for lunch. They had individual pizzas that they would make to order for you. I wanted a mushroom, onion one… my fav! Maybe next visit to Chicago!

marianos 20

Look at this monster sandwich! It looked, omg good!

marianos 19

I have never thought about “eating” a meal at a grocery store before. But that is very much the norm at Mariano’s.  You can come in for a glass of wine, pick out your meal and eat in the cafe. I will certainly be stopping back by to try some more of their meals on my next visit to Chicago.

I am an employee of Collective Bias and Mariano’s is our client.  I went on the tour to see the store, and took a lot (almost 300) photos while there. I decided to create a post because I was so impressed with the store, I was not asked to write a post, nor expected to. I just wanted to share with you all!





Pin It
Subscribe by Email

Dealing With The Loss Of A Pet

April 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, Pets

Losing A Pet Is Never Easy

I lost my beloved pet, Sadie a week ago today. She was almost 11 years old, but still had the spunk and personality of much younger dog. She was my soul mate dog. I connected strongly with Sadie when she was just a pup. She was a rescue that a vet in Westerville took in. The liter all had parvo virus and 1 of the 7 died. My neighbor Carol and her son came home telling us about this pup they had just adopted, Lexie.  I was newly single at the time and had been thinking about getting a larger dog rather than a security system.


I drove over to see the liter, without kids. I figured I’d be strong and knowing this was pretty much a spur of the moment decision, thought I’d be able to say no to the pups.  Sadie was the runt of the litter, the only fully black pup. The others looked like shepherds. We found out she has German Shepherd, black lab and husky in her.

Needless to say, I picked her. I’m so glad I did and almost wished I had picked out two pups. She was the sweetest dog I’ve ever known. Her sister Lexie also has that same sweet personality.  I had a ShihZue at the time and never really considered have three dogs.  Lyla, my ShihZue died about 3 months after we brought Sadie home. Although, I was a little sad, I had actually formed more of a bond in that short time with Sadie than I ever had in the 8 years I had Lyla.


Sadie was a really smart dog.  She “got” me. She knew when I was upset, sad etc.  She would use her nose to move your hand so you’d pet her.  She loved playing with the hose or the sprinkler and would try to “catch” the water.  The snow was her other favorite. The kids would throw snowballs for her to catch. She walked out with me to get the mail everyday. She loved going to the farm, going on walks and oh my gosh,  if you said the word “biscuit”, you’d better be ready to give her one.


We have another dog now, Gizmo (Gizzy) that Sadie loves. We’ve had Gizzy for about 7 years now. I kind of worried about how Gizzy would do without Sadie, but actually, I think she’s doing great. She is enjoying the extra attention she is getting from all of us. I don’t think it would be the same if Gizzy had gone first. Sadie would have really missed her.

sadie and gizzy

As good of a dog as Sadie was, she had fears.  Loud noises like fireworks and storms were really scary for her.  To the extreme that popping bubble wrap, or even popping chewing gum scared her. She hated fire, smoke and certain beeps.  Until she was about two years old I used a shock collar with an underground fence because we only had a front yard for the dogs at my old house. So the tone that it made and any other tone near that (and believe me.. a lot of things make that tone… digital watches, stop watches, tv commercials etc etc etc… ) would send her running to the basement. You couldn’t convince her she wasn’t going to get shocked from a collar she hadn’t worn in years. One of my cameras, she always hated because I didn’t think to turn off the tone when I first got it. Even though she only heard it make the tone once, that was enough. Every time I got that camera out, she ran the other way. She wasn’t happy in this picture because she was scared of the camera, but it was right before she had to have surgery to remove her anal gland last year, and I wanted a picture of us together.  In the last several months though, she was ok with me taking pictures. I was so glad because I did get several before she died.


Sadie developed a thyroid tumor about 2 1/2 years ago now. We never knew for sure if it was cancer or not. One vet said he didn’t think it was because she would have been sick and would have died before now. Another vet told us it would have been, but was just a localized cancer that was slow growing.  We never had it biopsied. There was no reason.  I was not going to put Sadie through the surgery needed to remove the tumor, even if it was cancer.  I researched it and it would not have given her that much more time to live, and the quality of that life might not have been that good.  You would not have known she was sick, other than the fact that she became mute, and in the last several months panted all the time. The tumor was pushing on her trachea & esophagus and slowly causing her to suffocate. The vet had told us she would start having panic attacks (lack of oxygen) and when she did, it would be time to bring her in.

She had the first one (and only one) of those attacks on Monday. It was terrible. She was coming up on my lap rather I wanted her to or not. It lasted from around noon until 3pm. Her panting was much worse, drooling and had condensation on top of her nose. Looked like sweat. She was scared to death. Even that evening when she was doing better, she still couldn’t sleep. She was really restless.  I knew I could not watch her go through that again.

This picture was not of her panic attack, it was just her wanting my attention. “Mom… put the computer away and pet me!”


My kids loved her as much as I did.  She was always so happy when my older boys came home to visit. John and Sadie were close too.

sadie and john

One of my big fears was that I was not going to be home when it came time to put her down.  I had several trips coming up and I knew that I wanted to be with her. Dave and I had just been in TN for the weekend. My other son Tim was home to take care of Sadie, but I was still worried about her why I was gone. We got home on Sunday. Her panic attack was Monday and I took her Tuesday morning to say goodbye.

As hard as it was, I was not going to let my girl suffer. She was excited to go in the car. I let her sit in the front passenger seat and she loved that. Usually she’s in the back of the SUV.  She was excited to see the people at the vet.  The vet reassured me it was time. She said that respiratory distress was horrible to see dogs go through. That as hard as she was working to breath that morning (which wasn’t as bad as it had been the day before) that it wrong to let her go through anymore suffering. That helped me to be sure I was making the right decision.


She said she was going to give her a sedative first because she was so alert.  I could not have been happier with the vet’s office.  They brought in a nice soft blanket and laid it on the ground in the room. They didn’t make her get up on that “scary” table.  I was able to sit down right beside her. They talked to her so sweetly and gave her a quick injection to help relax her. She didn’t mind that part at all.  The vet told me it would just take a couple minutes for her to relax. That she would calm down, and go into a “Hey Mom, I feel good” phase.  She was right. Within about 30-45 seconds she sat down. Another minute she laid down. I was talking to her and petting her the whole time. Within another minute after this picture she laid her head down. Her panting had stopped, although she was still breathing. The vet came back in with her assistant and asked if I was ready and did I want to stay with her. I figured they were going to take her into the other room at this point. Nope, they came right in and sat down on the floor with us. She had a syringe with the med in it and asked again if I was ok. I was… and wasn’t. But I told her to go ahead.  Sadie didn’t mind that she took her front leg and was putting a needle in it. I was again talking to her, petting her and of course.. crying like a baby.  It didn’t take but a minute.  The vet and assistant left and told me to take my time with her. I spent a few more minutes with her, just trying to take in as much of her as I could, knowing I would never again be able to pet her soft silky fur, see her face when I came down the stairs in the morning, have her nudge my hand to pet her or greet me when I came in the door.

They asked me when I came in if I wanted to take her with me or have her cremated. I had already decided to have her cremated. I hadn’t thought about wanting to keep her ashes though. They asked me if I wanted them, they’d have them put in a tin with her name on it. I decided I didn’t want that. I knew that we’d have to figure out where to bury her, and I didn’t want to go through the emotion of it.  They also asked if I wanted a paw-print sent to me. I said yes, I’d like that.

I just got that yesterday in the mail.  They put her paw-print on a card and had a little tuff of her fur in a bow along with a sympathy card from the vet’s office. How sweet was that?

I’ve lost my girl. The house is so strange without her. We all miss her. My husband is bound and determined we’re going to get another dog though.  Right now, I’m not ready. But I’m sure I’ll soften in a few months.

Goodbye my sweet Sadie. You were the best dog I could have ever asked for.




Subscribe by Email

The Perfect Dress….

You CAN Find The Perfect Dress At!

By Amy Trauntvein


Picture it… You need/want to find a new dress.  Maybe for an upcoming occasion (wedding, graduation, party etc.) or you just want to update your wardrobe and a new dress would be wonderful.  So you head over to your favorite department store and after looking through racks and racks of dresses and skirts, you find a few that you liked, but need to try on.  In the dressing room, you try on the first dress in which the hemline is way too short.  Nope. Back on the hanger it goes.  After you zip up the second one, you turn around to see how great it looks just to notice the neckline is waaaay to low.  Yep, not gonna happen.  Now comes the third dress.  You like it ok, but wish the sleeves were a bit shorter and/or the hemline again doesn’t look right for your height.  Three dresses that just don’t work, because even though you like the style/fabric/color, there’s something wrong with them all.  Sound all too familiar?  Me too!  But I have the perfect solution….


At eShakti every dress on their website is customizable!  You have the option to lower or heighten the hemline, you can add or take away sleeves, you can change the sleeves, you can change the collar and so much more!  You even give them your measurements (including your height) so the dress will fit you perfectly!  And even better, it costs only $7.50 more per garment to customize your dress in every way.  You can make any number of custom changes and the total charge will remain only $7.50!  Try and have a dressmaker to that for you!


This is the same dress, just customized in different ways.  I love the options!


It literally took me forever to decide which dress I wanted to try.  So many choices, styles and colors to choose from.  I had chosen a dozen, but had to narrow it down to one.  Man, it was hard!  Finally I chose the cream colored Pin Dot Dress.  It was so me!  I loved the double hemline and sash…  I left it sleeveless so I could add a little pop of black on the top to bring out the tiny black dots in the fabric.  I gave them my height so the dress would hit me mid-calf perfectly!  It was perfect!  Am I using that word a lot?



I adore the pockets which can be added to most of their dresses.


And on this dress, the back is elasticized (is that a word?) for even more comfort!  Love it!


eShakti specializes in “Vintage inspired women’s clothing 1950’s and 60’s fashion, updated in retro modern style clothing.”  The styles are classic, high end, yet modern.

I can’t resist…. I just HAVE to show you a few more of their dresses.  Aren’t they adorable???


They literally have hundreds of dresses to choose from, including bridesmaid dresses.  They also make tops and skirts too!  Check them out on their website at and also on Facebook, you won’t be disappointed!  Don’t forget to stop in and take a peek at their Customer Gallery. Everyday women in all shapes and sizes who love their clothes. “Real fashion for Real People”.  Happy Shopping everyone!

Love To All!  ~Amy

*Although I was compensated with the product for this review, all opinions are honest and my own.






I have been married for 23 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep me young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

Pin It
Subscribe by Email

The SXSW Experience

Heading to SXSW last month was quit the experience. I joined the Collective Bias crew in Austin, TX for the SXSW Interactive week.

Enter the  “Jambulance”, which is an old ambulance that was souped up with music, cooling machine and seats inside.  There was a charging station on the outside and used it as the hub for our “Cantina De Social”.  From Friday, March 8th until Monday March 11th, we had the Jambulance set up in a parking lot  with picnic tables and food trucks, from which we were able to offer food from. Being able to invite people over to have a meal, have something to drink and eat some awesome ice cream sandwiches, was an easy way to find out what their companies did, and let them know more what Colletive Bias is and what we do.

The CB crew giving us a “Awkward Stretch” in front of the Jambulance.

The culture at CB is like no other. How many CEO’s do you know that have fun doing an “awkward stretch” and encouraging it do you know?


Inside the Jambulance. Seats, music, pillows, more music.


The culture of SXSW is outlandish. There are SO many people, that you see all kinds of interesting get ups, trying to get your attention. The pedi-cab drivers were no exception.


sxsw 22

south by


These guys were promoting a new cab company that was coming to town. Where individuals drove their own cars for pick ups. They were offering piggy-back rides. Melissa took them up on it. One offered for me to get on… I told him that I’d never do that to him. {I’m sure he was relieved!}

consumer queen

We got to try and dunk one of our Vice Presidents, Brad Lawless

Brad lawless

Brad Lawless

Our CEO Co/Founder, John Andrews

John Andrews

john andrews

And our Chief Social Marketing Officer, Ted Rubin. All in the name of Charity! What great sports these guys are. Keep in mind it was only in the lower 60’s on these days… it was cold!

ted rubin

ted rubin

On Monday, March 11th, we ended our time at SXSW with a party at the Bungalow. It gave us a chance to invite clients, potential clients, associates,  and bloggers  to join us for a great evening with food and fun.

cb party

I play photographer most of the night. I did miss having bloggers there. We were hoping to see more, but there were very few. Courtney, Melissa and I had a great time.

courtney melissa sandy

Christine Young showed up after she saw a picture of us on Facebook and realized we were in Austin. She and her husband were there on a visit, not for SXSW, but they came by to say hi.

christine and melissa

We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. I think everyone had a wonderful time, enjoying the company, food and friends.

cb party

Yes, I had fun taking pictures of the cupcakes.


And yummy food. I stopped Brad Lawless before he could take a bite of this, so I could get a picture! Mine, was too boring looking to take a picture of.


Courtney with one of the CB pillows. You can’t see the whole pillow here, but they are little talk bubbles, so it looks like the CB logo.

courtney velasquez

We had another “awkward stretch” moment at the party.  Notice the photo-bombers outside the window.

awkward stretch

SXSW is a different kind of conference to go to from the perspective of a blogger. This was the interactive portion of SXSW. You probably won’t find more techies together in one place, then you will this week. I was thankful for the experience of being there with CB, as I went as an employee.


Pin It
Subscribe by Email