A Timeless Romance Anthology: Love Letter Collection — Book Review

February 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Reviews & Giveaways

I fell in love with  A Timeless Romance Anthology: Love Letter Collection

By Amy Trauntvein

This review has not been compensated other than a copy of the book for review.  All opinions are honest and my own.

A Timeless Romance LOVE LETTER

 

I was asked to read and review this just released book A Timeless Romance Anthology: Love Letter Collection, and I have to say, I LOVED it!  This book did not disappoint!   Finally a CLEAN romance, with not only one story, but 6! This book contains 6 novellas all from different authors which make this book fun and exciting to read for the variations in writing styles, story settings and feel of each unique novella.
There are 3 contemporary romance stories….

-Maggie’s Song by Karey White

-Just Fly by Krista Lynne Jensen

-How to Rewrite a Love Letter by Diane Darcy

 And 3 historical romance stories…

-A Thousand Words by Sarah M. Eden

-Between the Lines by Annette Lyon

-Blackberry Hollow by Heather B. Moore

 All with different settings, and new, wonderful characters to fall in love with each and every time. Each story quickly draws you in and like me, you will find yourself not able to put it down!

Without giving anything away, and letting yourself discover each novella for yourself, I just have to say that I enjoyed all 6 stories for their varied plots and characters.  If you are looking for an easy, fun read, without any overt sexuality or language, this book is the perfect choice!
The only thing I wished for, was that each story was an entire book. I didn’t want them to end!

You can easily find it on Amazon and don’t forget to check out the entire A Timeless Romance Anthology series on Facebook.

 

Love to all! ~ Amy

 

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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Easy Dinner Recipes with Ore-Ida Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes #OreIdaHashbrn

December 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Food, Reviews & Giveaways

Family Dinner Night During the Holidays Using Ore-Ida Shredded Hash Browns

By Amy

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and it’s advertiser.  #OreIdaHashbrn #shop #cbias
OreIda Shredded Hashbrowns

Ah, family time during the holidays.  Sometimes it’s hard to come by with all the parties, get-togethers, Christmas concerts, shopping, wrapping and delivering to do at this time of year.  For me, the easiest way to find time with family is around the dinner table.  Everyone’s gotta eat, right?   And since it is so busy, easy dinner recipes are just what we all need.  You can do so many things with Ore-Ida Shredded Hash Browns.  Always loving to get new recipes to try, Ore-Ida was at Walmart doing an in-store demo of a favorite dinner recipe so I went to check it out.

Oreida Hashbrowns #shop

He was making Cheesy Potato Casserole which I love!

Oreida Hashbrowns #shop

Here’s the recipe if you don’t already have it.

Cheesy Potato Casserole with Ore-Ida Shredded Hash browns

-1 can       Condensed cream of chicken soup

-2 cups    Sour cream

-1 tsp.      Salt

-1/4 tsp.  Pepper

-2 cups    Shredded Cheddar Cheese

-1/3 cup  Sliced green onions

-1  pkg.    Ore-Ida Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes (30 oz)

-2 cups     Crushed corn flake cereal

-1/4 cup  Butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat 13X9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  2. In a large bowl, whisk together soup, sour cream, salt and pepper.  Stir in cheese, onion and Hash Browns until well mixed.  Spoon evenly into baking dish.  3. In a medium bowl, mix together cereal and butter.  Sprinkle evenly on top of hash brown mixture.  4. Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if desired.  Garnish with additional sliced green onion if desired.

After sampling the yummy casserole, I needed to go grab some Ore-Ida Shredded Hash browns for myself!

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

There’s just something about warm cheesy, potato goodness that warms your soul…  So it got me to thinking, “What dinner recipe could I come up with using Ore-Ida Shredded Hashbrowns for my next family’s dinner?”  And here it is…  Italian Potato Parmesan! 

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

Most everyone I know has tried Chicken Parmesan, Veal Parmesan or even Eggplant Parmesan (my personal favorite.) So I wanted to see how the same type of recipe would work for Potatoes.  Um, Yummy and delicious!  Here’s the recipe

Italian Potato Parmesan (yield 12-14 patties)  Recipe can be easily doubled or halved.

-1 tbs.       Butter or olive oil

-1/2          Onion, diced

-2              Garlic cloves, crushed or diced

-1/2 bag   Ore-Ida Shredded Hashbrowns

-1/2 cup   Bread Crumbs

-1/2 – 1  cup Parmesan (depending on how “cheesy” you want it.  You can use either shredded parm or grated)

-3              Eggs

-3 tbs.      Mayonaise

-1/2 tsp.   Salt

-1/4 tsp.  Pepper

-1/2 tsp.  Dried Parsley

-1 jar        Marinara sauce

- Cheese (sliced fresh mozzarella, reg. mozzarella, provolone, or swiss)

Directions

1. In a small skillet sauté onions and garlic with butter or olive oil until transparent.

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

2. In a big bowl, add Ore-Ida Hashbrowns (no need to thaw), bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and cooked onions and garlic.

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

3. In a small bowl mix eggs, mayo, salt, pepper and parsley together.

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

4. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix together.  It should look like this…

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

5. Form patties and cook on heated non-stick skillet. (medium heat) Flatten with hand once on skillet, they stay together better that way and don’t fall apart.

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

6. Leave them cooking (do not mess with them) until you can see the edges are good and brown.  You want them to be crispy.

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7. Flip them over and cook until both sides are crispy.

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8. Spray baking dish(es) with non-stick cooking spray. (I used 2 glass 9X13 dishes).  Transfer finished ones to your baking dishes as you cook the rest of the patties.  Once they are all cooked, top with marinara sauce and sliced cheese.

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

9. Broil in oven until hot and bubbly.  Enjoy!

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

My family loved this new dinner and had fun helping me create it, making even more family time!  One of my children even had three helpings! Yep, I think this recipe is a keeper.

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

Ore-Ida is also sponsoring a Disney Frozen Sweepstakes where you could win a trip for your family to the Bahamas or a number of other great prizes!  Be sure to check it out before the sweepstakes ends on January 15th, 2014!

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

I hope you try out and enjoy both of these recipes when feeding your family during the holidays and beyond.  I also hope that you get to enjoy some much needed family time, and what better way than over some great food around the dinner table!  Have a wonderful holiday season and Merry Christmas!

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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Christmas Gift Ideas For Gamers with Forza Motorsport 5 and M&M’s #FueledbyMM #shop

Forza Motorsport 5 and M&M’s this Christmas.

By Amy

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and it’s client.  All pictures and opinions are 100% my own.

Some people can be pretty hard to buy for, for the holidays. Teens for instance, or maybe a husband?  I’ve got one, my hubby.  He’s not a big gamer, but he does like car racing games and the new Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One is the perfect gift to put under the tree.  He’s also not big on candy, but he loves the Pretzel M&M’s!  Their not too sweet and have the perfect crunch that he loves.  Perfect for a stocking stuffer!

I stopped at our local Walmart to purchase both items since they are offering a special Buy Snap Redeem Promotion.  Buy both the Forza 5 game and participating M&M’s in the same transaction,  snap a photo of the qualifying items on your receipt using your phone, and text it to 811811.  You’ll get a text back with a reward code for a $10 eGift to Walmart!

The newly released Forza Motorsport game is exclusively for the brand new Xbox One System.  With over 200 cars to choose from and continuing “add on” packs. you’ll never get bored racing the same cars over and over.  It has “Unprecedented Visual Realism” with all new graphics and” hundreds of cars perfectly recreated”.

My whole family loves the Pretzel M&M’s, so I bought the BIG bag!

#FueledbyMM #shop

Since I got such a huge bag of M&M’s, I needed to somehow divide it up AND fit them into everyone’s stockings without them just rolling around loose in there.   All I did was fill some small cellophane bags and top with a cute ribbon.  The perfect stocking stuffer!

#FueledbyMM #shop

M&Ms is also hosting an  M&M’s  Pixel Art Sweepstakes through Instagram.   Join me and tons of other Instagram fans to create your own pixel art, for a chance to win an XBOX One game system, the Forza 5 Motorsport Game, and a 14oz bag of M&Ms candies!

Simply create your own Pixel Art using M&Ms candies, snap a photo with your smartphone, and upload it to Instagram, using the hashtags #FueledbyMM and #Contest to enter.  The contest is open until December 18th!

#FueledbyMM #shop

I can’t wait for Christmas now that I have the perfect gift under the tree for my hubby and the tastiest stocking stuffer for all our stockings!

#FueledbyMM #shop

Love to all and Merry Christmas!  ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

 

 

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ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent

November 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Health & Safety, Reviews & Giveaways

Got Mosquito’s?  ThermaCELL can help

I contacted ThermaCELL the summer of 2012, and asked if I could review their products.  Dave and the kids were going to Canada to fish and he has nasty experiences there with mosquito’s in previous years. ThermaCELL was great and sent me two products to review. .  Dave took the units to Canada with them, but never used them.  He said there was one day that the mosquitos were bad, but it was really windy and it says not to use it on really windy days. They also had several inside their cabin, but these units are not for indoor use. The summer and fall of 2012 was also not a bad year for mosquitos at our far. All that to say, I didn’t review them until this summer.

I did get them out late this summer and put them to use. This is the small portable unit.

thermacell

I took this one to the farm with me to try out.  The mosquito’s were pretty bad this year. There had been some flooding of the river which is below Dave’s farm.  The mosquito’s were really terrible in the woods. I wanted so badly to just clip this on my belt to protect me while I walked, but that isn’t how it’s designed.  It says to give it about 10 minutes to really start showing the effectiveness of it.  It’s quiet and did get a little warm, but it wasn’t hot.

We were up by one of the barns while Dave was working on the four wheeler,  so I put it on the tailgate of the truck.  I wasn’t noticing any mosquito’s while we were up there.

thermacell

We found this nice snake skin while we were there – no, this isn’t a snake repellent.

snake skin

I moved over to our picnic table which wasn’t near the truck.  I didn’t think about the ThermaCELL when I moved, until I starting seeing and hearing the mosquitos.  I made a b-line back to the truck and got the unit and brought it over to the picnic table. Within a few minutes, I wasn’t having a problem with the mosquitos.  I was impressed.

thermacell 3

Now if I could have only taken it with me when we drove back to the other part of the farm, through the woods.  Our windows were open and they were terrible. I was not a happy camper. I wanted to close up the windows and Dave just kept laughing at me, “Sandy, there are already enough in the truck it won’t do any good now”. ugh.. and yuck! I hate mosquitos.

These would be great for camping, outdoor gatherings and times when you have an area that you need to “clear” of mosquitos. It evidently also helps with black flies, but that isn’t usually a problem we have at the farm, so I wasn’t able to test it.

There is also a lantern version, but I haven’t used that yet.  For those of you that are in warmer areas now

 

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Garage Ceiling Storage

Utilize that Ceiling Storage Space!

I have wanted to get some kind of garage ceiling storage for a few years now. When Racor asked if I would like to review one of their products, and I saw they had this ceiling storage lift, I jumped on it.  They were awesome and sent it to me right away to review. I mentioned to them that it wouldn’t be until spring/summer before I was able to have my husband install it.  I had to eat crow. He has still not been able to get to it, with his crazy (almost 2 hours one way) commute each day and a heavier workload.

 

racor ceilling storage

This is what the storage unit will look like, once we have it up.  I seldom will do a post on something that I haven’t actually opened up and reviewed myself, but I did review their bike lift and know the quality and how easy and well it went up and works. Dave was very impressed with the way it was made, how it leveled itself out as you were lifting it up, how smooth the mechisism worked of the bike lift.  I also will hardly ever use a brand’s picture of their product, but here I am again, doing that.  I pulled the ceiling lift picture and the lift with storage containers of it, from the Racor.com site.

It will provide us with plenty of space to put some new folding chairs that we don’t have room for, or maybe some of our summer back porch furniture that currently is in the shed.  I love to figure out what I can rearrange when I have new storage space to use.

ceiling storage

This unit is designed to lift up to 250 pounds and gives you 16 square feet of storage.  When you lower it down, it will come down 8 feet from the ceiling, so it will be so easy to load and unload.

I’ve seen several other ceiling units.  There are the ones that are attached directly to the ceiling. They would require getting out a ladder and lifting the contents up to them and down from them.  I think they are in general a little less expensive than this unit, but would not be nearly as convenient or useful.

This is the space where the ceiling storage lift is going to go in my garage. Yes, I know… the garage needs some tidying up. It will go above one of the cars.

garage ceiling

The other side of the garage has the Racor bike lift (which I love!) That is our Toyota truck underneath it. We don’t have a big garage, so there would be no way we’d have room for this bike if it wasn’t for this ceiling lift. (By the way their bike lift is designed for a normal bike, we just made it work for my recumbent bike)

ceiling storage

But here sits my Racor ceiling lift now, until I can get hubby to install it.

racor ceiling lift

 

I’ll love it when I am actually able to get it up.

 

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Harvest Granola Recipe

October 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Food

Easy Home Made Granola Recipe

by Amy

We love granola at our house!  My husband likes it with milk in a bowl, and my kids love snacking on it dry.  But no matter how it’s eaten, this recipe is fabulous and SO easy to make!  It stores well in an airtight container and has less fat and oil than store bought brands, and since it’s home made and fresh, it definitely tastes much better than the ones at the grocery store.  But the very best thing about making your own granola, is that you can add the ingredients YOU like and customize it to your own family’s tastes!  Here’s my version, doesn’t this look yummy???

Homemade Granola

 

Harvest Granola

- 10 cups Rolled Oats (Old Fashioned, not quick cooking)

- 1 cup Wheat Germ (found in the cereal aisle near the oatmeal)

- 2 cups Dried Fruit (apples, raisins, cranberries, bananas, dates etc.) I use 2 cups dried cranberries.

- 2 cups Chopped Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, or sliced almonds are good) I use chopped pecans.

- 1/2-3/4 cup Seeds (sesame, flax, pumpkin etc.) I use a combination of sesame and flax.

- 1 cup Shredded Coconut (optional)

- 2 tsp Cinnamon

- 1 cup Melted Butter

- 1/2 c Vegetable Oil (or you can omit the butter and veg oil and use 1 1/2 cups coconut oil)

- 1 1/2 cups Honey

-2 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients into a big bowl. Isn’t it pretty?

Homemade Granola

Next, add wet ingredients into a saucepan and warm on the stove until honey is nice and liquid and incorporated with the other wet ingredients.

Homemade Granola

I have to pause right here for a sec and show you this beautiful honey!  We have a professional beekeeper in the family, so we have access to pure raw honey.  Raw honey has not been cleaned yet.  It still has all the pollens and goodness that pure raw honey offers.  True raw honey is also not liquid, it is solid and has to be gently warmed to return back to it’s liquid state.  I’m certainly no expert on the benefits of raw honey (maybe one of our readers are, hint hint?), but if you ever, can get your hands on some raw honey, do it!  It’s SOOO good and good for you!  There, my commercial is over.

Just look at that…. isn’t pure, raw, unadulterated honey gorgeous???

Homemade Granola

Now back to the recipe folks….  Add the wet ingredients to the big bowl of dry and mix it all together…

Homemade Granola

Until it looks like this.  Almost there!

Homemade Granola

Once it’s all incorporated, divide onto 2 large lipped (with raised edges) cookie sheets (1/4 sheet cake size) and spread evenly.  Bake in a 225 degree oven for 25 minutes, take out, stir granola around and put back in oven for another 25 minutes.  You are drying it out more than you are actually “cooking” it.  After baking, when you think it should be done, pull a little bit out and put in a bowl to cool for a minute, or stick it in the refrigerator for a second.  When cooled, it should be crunchy, that’s how you know it’s done.  Put in an airtight container to keep it fresh and enjoy your homemade goodness!

What I do to cook both sheets at one time – Put your oven racks to the 2 most middle positions of the oven, close together.  Put one pan, lengthwise (not horizontally) on top rack as far to the right as possible and the other pan on the lower rack to the left.  They should only overlap in the middle of the oven by just a bit.  Halfway through, when you pull them out to  stir, just switch the two pans so they get even heat.  Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step.  OR you can just halve the recipe and use one pan, but then you’ll have to make your granola twice as often, who wants to do that?!  :)

Homemade Granola

I hope you use this easy recipe and have fun trying out different ingredients.  Let me know which version is your favorite!  I just may try it out!

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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Ricart Auto Mall Blogger Event

A Fun Visit at Ricart Columbus Auto Mall

By Amy Trauntvein

I was compensated for my time to visit to the Ricart Columbus Auto Mall. All photos and opinions are my own.

Ricart Auto
The Original Ford car is still displayed as it was back in the 1960′s.

Ricart Automotive Group sponsored a blogger event at their Ricart Mega Mall located in Columbus Ohio for us local “bloggers” to come and tour their space and get to know their company a bit more.  I have to admit, I’d never been to their Mega Mall before and I was very impressed!

First we had guest blogger, Lisa Woodruff from Organize365.com come and speak to us about different ways to organize our vehicles.  She was fun and engaging and I learned all kinds of ways to keep things in check in my minivan.  Thanks Lisa!

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

Our next speaker was Rick Ricart himself!  You know the “We’re Dealin!” guy from all the commercials.  He took time out of his busy day to meet us and tell us a little bit about the Ricart company.

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

Rick Ricart told us that the Ricart Company is a family business. Rick’s Grandfather, Paul started the company in the mid 1950′s and has been growing strong ever since.  Their first philosophy is to treat their employees like family.  When you have happy employees, you get happy customers!  One way is by building a Subway and an employee Fitness Center right on their property. The Subway will be open to the public later this month.

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

Another high priority of the Ricart Automotive Group is customer service.  They want to make it a Fast, Easy and Fun experience to buy a car.  It even says it right on their license plate covers!

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

One unique way to provide high customer service is by having their own 360 degree car photo booth, the only one in the entire country!  They take a picture of every car they are selling so when you look at their cars online and find one you like, it is NOT a general factory picture, it is the actual picture of the car you are looking at!  No other car company has that to offer.

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

Also, if you purchase a car with Ricart you get a free car wash whenever you want!  As long as it says Ricart somewhere on the car, you just pull up to their car wash, and Bam!  Clean car!  Now THAT is pretty awesome!

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

Ricart Automotive’s Philosphy – No in your face selling, no gimmicks, no balloons and crazy signs on every car.  Just good honest business at a good honest price.

I liked this one particularly well…

Ricart Automotive

And this one too…  Probably a bit more practical for the carpool.

Ricart Automotive

 

Ricart recently teamed up with the Ronald McDonald House Charities for their newest commercial.  These are all Ronald McDonald House volunteers, not actors.  Perfect for the upcoming Halloween season I might add.  Take a look at their fun and spooky Revive Your Drive Commercial.

You can also check out Ricart on their website at Ricart.com , Facebook and Twitter

Thank you Ricart for the Fun and informative afternoon! I know where I’m heading next time we need a new car!

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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New German Shepherd Puppy!

September 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, Pets

Who Can Resist A Puppy?

German sheperd puppy

We took that step in July and decided to get another dog (I thought it would be much longer before I was ready to get another puppy) after we lost our precious Sadie in April.  I didn’t get the first litter of pups I looked at, or the 2nd or 3rd.   I was able to walk away, and my  husband was shocked each time, thinking I would give in to that first little puff of fur. But I was thinking, is this my “forever” dog? When I didn’t feel a connection, I was able to walk away.

Then came Ellie.  I found her on Craig’s list. I followed all the rules that you aren’t supposed to follow when looking for a purebred dog.  First off, I don’t really care about the purebred part. I actually wanted a mixed breed. I feel like they tend to have less issues than purebred dogs. This couple was not a backyard breeder. They both had shepherds that the girls mom accidentally left together, at the wrong time. It was the female’s first litter and she had 4 pups. One female and 3 males.  I can certainly understand why a good breeder is important though. We found several issues, she was covered with fleas when we got her, she had a staph infection on her elbow and of course she was full or worms. Most puppies do have the worms, but according to what I read, she should have had several de-wormings before we took her. I asked and they gave her the first one the night before we picked her up. She was 8 1/2 weeks old when we got her.

german shepherd 8 weeks

I also didn’t notice, or know to ask, about the parents ears. I later found out that her mom’s ears are floppy ears. They do stand at attention when she’s excited, or alerted (which she was when were were there looking at her puppies).

A German Shepherd puppies ears typically stand up from about 8 weeks – 14 weeks.  They say they should be up by the time they have finished teething.  Ellie’s still aren’t up at 20 weeks. She still has several baby teeth though.  I’ve been reading about several options, and will share all that in another post.

Gizzy is our other dog. She’s 8 years old, and likes to play… sometimes, just not ALL THE TIME!  You can see how close in size there were here. Gizzy was a little bigger than Ellie, at 8 weeks.  Gizzy is about 20 pounds, Ellie is 16 pounds.

dogs

Ellie is growing fast!  One of the first things people say when they first see her is, “Oh my gosh, look at those huge paws! She’s going to be a big one.”
She loves the water, except of course when I want to give her a bath.  She has been swimming a few times at Dave’s cousin’s house, and a couple other places there is water. This would be a nice time to have a real pool she could swim in, so I didn’t have to give her a bath after every pond experience. She has so much fun, but she comes out smelling like pond scum.
puppy in the pool

Here she is when she’s three months old. Her coloring has changed a lot already. She had a lot of black on her when we first got her. Her Dad was a very light shepherd and mom had a lot of black. Of the four puppies, she had the lightest coloring, and they said she would probably get much lighter.

german shepherd puppy

At four months, you can see how much bigger she has gotten. She now weights 50 pounds, and Gizzy can actually stand up underneath her belly. She has a multitude of colors on her. She has white, gray, tan and black. From everything we’ve read and have been told, her markings are that of a black and tan shepherd.

german shepherd puppy 4 months

She still drives Gizzy nuts.  As soon as Gizzy is within reach, she’s attacking her (playing). I think Gizzy has a constant wet mark on her shoulders where Ellie goes for her. Ellie generally stays in the kitchen area, blocked by our dog gates, so that Gizzy can have some peace and quiet to relax. They go outside together often and I’m getting the hang of walking them together. Ellie also comes out into the family room in the evenings, since she’s potty trained now.

gsd 4 months

She and I have been taking obedience classes. I took her to the PetsSmart class when she was 10 weeks old and now I have her in another obedience class and beginning agility class. I  have to say that I had no idea how much training I needed! I’ve never done an official dog obedience class before. With a shepherd, and knowing how protective they can be of their family, I don’t want to take any chances with her. I want to do everything right, to make sure she is well trained and well socialized.

german shepherd puppy 4 months

How about this puppy face?

german shepherd puppy 4 months

 

Gotta love her!

 

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A Magnetic Family Calendar to Keep You Organized

Keep Track Of All Those Activities In One Space!

By Amy Trauntvein

I received this calendar for review, but all opinions and pictures are my own.

When you’ve got a house full of kids and adults who are busy, you’ve got a lot of activities, appointments, practices, lessons and everything else to keep track of!  Jen at Calendarsandchores.com must have seen me in her crystal ball because she asked to send me one of her beautiful and functional calendars to check out, thank you Jen!  Oh yes, I‘ve got a smart phone with a calendar and all which I use, a lot, but I needed something that my whole family could see every day and also add to as things come up. (Large Magnetic Calendar seen here with 6 weeks and bonus Memo strip $82.00)

Magnetic Calendar

This magnetic calendar is the perfect solution, because it is a perpetual calendar!  What’s that you say?  It means that when your week is over, you wipe everything off the top strip, and move it to the bottom of the calendar to start filling in for later weeks!  You see, each “line” is it’s own magnetic strip that you can organize yourself and it all fit’s on the included frame any way that you fancy.  When my calendar came, I slapped that thing on the wall and got to filling it all in!

So many of my kids activities are for multiple kids so instead of using one color per kid, I use a certain color per activity/lesson.  I’ve got 2 kids in the high school marching band, so I used Red for their school color, I have 3 kids in piano/vocal lessons with the same teacher so I use blue for those, I have 2 kids in gymnastics and I picked orange for it and so on and so forth.

I adore the magnetic pencil cup! ($10)  Not only is it cute, but it holds all the extra month labels that aren’t in use, and my wet erase markers (I like them better than dry erase for fine tip writing and they don’t smudge) right where I need them.  No more looking in drawers and wondering what my kids did with them!  They stay right here.  Period.

Magnetic Calendar

The weekly Menu List ($4.50) comes in handy for those busy nights that I just don’t want to figure out what to fix for dinner.

Magnetic Calendar

And Memo strip (included in calendar kit) with categories of Upcoming Events/Grocery/To Do/Notes section you can use in place of one or two of the “weeks” on the calendar, if you just want to post a month at a time.  See bottom of the calendar…

Magnetic Calendar

The calendar comes in many colors and styles and sizes, but I love the Antique White frame with the Vintage White magnetic strips.  They are perfect for my living space!  As you can see, I chose to use all 6 weeks and even figured out a way to let me know when the next month is coming up.  I separated the two months a bit and stuck the September strip between the two.  Easier for my kids to know what month they are looking at.

Magnetic Calendar

I am so happy with my new calendar and so are my kids.  No more, “Mom, what time is practice? Mom, what day is the party?  Mom, when is picture day?”  They can just look themselves.  Thank you calendarsandchores.com!  You’ve just made my schedule a whole lot easier to handle!

Be sure to check out her online Etsy store.   She also carries other cool products like chore charts cute locker memo magnets.

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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The Carlson Maxi Pet Gate is Saving My Sanity & Carpet!

Surviving The New Puppy with The Carlson Maxi Pet Gate.

I was thrilled when the Carlson Pet Products company agreed to let me do a review on their Carlson Maxi Pet Gate.  I received this gate at no cost, but all thoughts, opinions and images are my own.

Knowing we were getting a new puppy, I was in a bit of a panic.  Knowing all the work that a puppy is, and thinking about all the accidents on our family room carpet were really stressing me.  I wanted to figure out a way to keep the puppy in the kitchen, but we have this 96″ opening. How do you block that?

Carlson Pet Gate

I started researching and came across this Carlson Pet Products Maxi Gate on Amazon.  I was SO EXCITED that something existed that would be large enough to do the job.  (I had to get the gate and 2 extensions for the 96″ opening. When you add the numbers together, I thought one extension should have been enough, but they have to overlap each other when putting them together. I suggest that you ask on the Carlson Facebook page or Twitter handle @CarlsonTheDog to be sure you’re getting the needed extensions if you have a larger opening. I talked to someone and they walked me through what I’d need.) My excitement for this gate grew when I saw there was not only a walk through door, but also a little pet door. Gizzy (my other dog) would be able to come and go through the kitchen through this little door, while Ellie (when she gets older and bigger) stayed in the kitchen.

The first couple days that we had Ellie, the big gate hadn’t arrived, so we had to block off the kitchen area with a home made block-aid. We used a combination of a chest of drawers, 3 foot table and older pressure gate.  It worked, but wasn’t fun to climb over.

temporary dog gate

This is what it looked like on the other side.  There is my sweet Ellie.

dog gate

Once the gate came, just a couple days later (it came from the corporate office, not Amazon) I had my son put it together. He liked the measuring tape strip that came with it. He told me it would be really helpful for lining up where to put in the screws.

dog gate

Tim waited for Dave to get home to actually screw in the gate to the wall.  He didn’t want to be responsible if he messed that up. Isn’t this SO much nicer? I was excited! I loved that I could block off my kitchen from the puppy.

dog gate

Dave was surprised that the screws they had included were very small screws.  We weren’t able to put this into a stud and he wasn’t certain the screws would hold.

dog gate

As it turns out, they didn’t hold. It was just a couple days and one side came out of the wall, tearing up some dry wall with it. (This photo was prior to it coming out of the wall). The other side came out too. Dave got some anchor bolts and put it back in. He should have done that to begin with, since we weren’t putting it into studs.  But I would also suggest to Carlson that they should include them, as even into studs, I can’t see the small screws that were included, being enough. We also weren’t able to screw in the bottom because of our floor board, molding, whatever you call it. If we would have gone up above that, but then the floor support wouldn’t be on the ground and it would be too high to step over. But it still works with just the pressure against the floorboard.

One of the things I love about the gate is that Gizzy, who is about 20 pounds will be able to come and go from the kitchen, once Ellie gets bigger.  The little pet door opens and will allow Gizzy to go through, but will be small enough that Ellie won’t be able to go through.  Ellie is up to 30 pounds right now, and I just tested it this morning, to see if she could still fit through. Yes, she is thin enough still that she just angled a little bit and happily went through. Gizzy will be able to run to freedom when her new sissy constantly wants to beat her up by constantly biting her neck and legsplay” with her.

dog gate

The other wonderful feature is that there is a walk through door.  You don’t have to step over a gate all the time. This makes it so easy to come and go. That first couple of days have to either move things or step over our temporary gate was not so fun!  You do have to step over the bar at the bottom of the gate. I can certainly understand there would have to be one for support of the gate with a door. But you do have to let guests know to just be careful when stepping through. Small price to pay in my book, for having the convenience of a walk through door.

dog gate

The latch at the top just snaps down into place. At first we weren’t clicking it into place every time. You almost need 2 hands to pull back on the red mechnisim to release the latch, but it can certainly be done with one hand. But you can close the gate without the extra snapping.  But, now that Ellie is 13 weeks old, she has already learned that if she jumps up on the latch and it’s not snapped down, she can lift it up with her paw and open the gate. Dang those smart dogs, right?  So we are now snapping it down each time we go in and out. This latch isn’t not as large or strong as the other Carlson dog gate I purchased for the other opening in the kitchen. I was surprised by that, but I think because this gate had to be made longer, it wasn’t able to be made with as heavy as construction as the other gate, hence the smaller, lighter latch. (I’ll show you the other gate below)

dog gate

The other thing to note that I was surprised, that I didn’t realize until my son was putting it together, was that the gate/door has to be on one end or the other. I had planned for that to be in the middle. I wanted her crate to be up against that brown wall on the left, like it is in the picture above when I had the temporary gate up. But it has to be on one end or the other. I adjusted, we moved her crate and it’s all good. Just another thing to know when you’re planning out your space.

dog gate

 

We also had another opening in our kitchen that I needed to block.  It was wider than a normal doorway, but I didn’t need anything this long for it. I ordered and paid for myself, another gate – the Carlson 0930 Extra-Wide  Walk-Thru Gate.  It is a pressure mounted gate, so no screws! I had thought that the extensions for this gate were extra, but the 2 extensions come with the gate.

This gate seems sturdier than that maxi gate. Again, I think because it has to go in a smaller place, and I’m guessing that it would be too heavy to have this long of a gate for the maxi gate.  This gate also has that wonderful walk-thru feature and the extra pet door.

pet gate

Carlson pet gateThis latch is a much nicer latch. I really wish the maxi gate had the same one. It works the same, the red lever pulls back to release the latch. So far, Ellie hasn’t learned to open this one when it isn’t snapped into place, but I’m sure she will soon.

We’ve not had any issues with the pressure mounted gate not holding. Ellie is 30 pounds and jumps up on it, and we’re still fine. I guess we’ll find out when she’s 75 pounds and jumps up on it, if it will still hold – but it seems pretty strong, so I think we’ll be good.

You can get the Carlson Maxi Pet Gate or Carlson Extra-Wide Walk-Thru Pet Gate the on Amazon through my code, which I’d love of course! You can also find them and other places you can purchase them, along with their other products on the Carlson Pets Products Page. 

I can HIGHLY recommend the Carlson Extra-Wide Walk-Thru Gate, it’s very sturdy and strong.  I can also recommend the Carlson Maxi Gate. It’s awesome to find a gate that can expand to cover such a large opening! I love the walk through gates and the mini pet door features on both gates. (I do recommend getting your own anchor bolts to anchor the maxi gate securely in the wall.)

These gates have really made having a puppy SO much easier! If there is an accident, I don’t stress. It’s easy clean up and it’s not ruining my carpet. I can work (I work from home) and I don’t have to crate her all the time, when I can’t be constantly watching her. Of course, it’s not like she can’t get herself into trouble being left out in the kitchen, but I know the noises now of what to listen for.  She is in the kitchen, lying on the floor asleep right now as I write this post. I’m not running around the house, worrying about where she is, or if she is going to have an accident at any moment.

Thank you so much Carlson Pet Products, you really have helped to save my sanity!

 

 

 

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Lands’ End Canvas Storage Totes Giveaway

Lands’ End Organizing and Storage Solution

By Amy Trauntvein

I received this set of Lands’ End Canvas Storage Totes, but the pictures and opinions and storage ideas are my own.

I adore Lands’ End! With their classic designs and high quality, you can never go wrong when choosing a Lands’ End product.  So when Lands’ End offered to send me a set of their Canvas Storage totes AND give a set to one of our readers, I was ecstatic!  Set of 5 Canvas Storage Totes (value $195.50 online)

Land's End

Lands’ End also asked me to come up with some creative storage solution for my beautiful totes and let me tell you, this was no easy task!  Only because I had TOO MANY ideas for each size! But in the end I chose one storage idea for each tote that worked best for my home.

Extra Small- I do a lot of cooking and baking and so I keep my cookbooks out on my kitchen counter.  I like having them out because I use them so much, but everytime I’d grab one, they’d all fall over.  The Extra Small Canvas Storage tote was the perfect size to hold my cookbooks!  No more books toppling over whenever I need one.  And it looks cute too! I do have other cookbooks in a cabinet, but these are the ones I use most.

Land's End

Small- I use tablecloths, a lot of tablecloths.  When we moved into our new home 8 years ago, I bought myself a nice, solid hard wood dining set.  Then my kids started using my beautiful table and chairs. Yeah.  So now, to preserve the top of my table from craft projects, spills and whatever else they come up with, I use tablecloths which help immensely!  Since I’m always changing out my tablecloths almost daily, I need easy access to them.  I’m kind of embarrassed to show you where I use to keep them, but here it is…  In a lower cabinet all stacked up and ready to fall out at anytime.

Land's End

No longer!  I was able to fit all of my table cloths into the Small Canvas Storage tote and find an open spot at the bottom of my pantry.  Just open the door, and there they are!  All neat and tidy and ready to be used.

Land's End

Medium- During the summer, we go swimming. A lot!  Not only do we go to public pools, but we have some great friends to own a pool and invite us over many times during the warmer months.  I have needed a bag large enough to fit all of our towels, sunscreen, goggles, sunglasses and pool toys and the Medium Canvas Storage tote was the perfect fit!  It held it all, plus had some room to spare!

Land's End

And when the season is over, I can just take the entire, filled bag and store it in my hall closet ready for the next year!

Land's End

Large- One of my favorite things to do when the day is done, is to snuggle up in a cozy blanket with my hubby and either watch a movie or catch up on our favorite TV shows.  I have invested in some pretty awesome blankets but where do I keep them without it looking a mess all piled up in a corner?  I used a big basket in the past, but it quickly fell apart.  Not so with the Large Canvas Storage tote, this thing is top notch and sturdy!  I also love how it matches my blankets…

Land's End

Hamper- I wanted to do something different with the Hamper, but what else do you do with a hamper besides hold dirty laundry?  I put it in my youngest daughter’s closet to hold all of her dress ups!  I used to store her dress ups in a large plastic tote with a lid, but as with all those big plastic totes, the lid was hard for her to get off and pretty bulky for her to pull out too, AND it was so full it was starting to bulge and hard to get it closed.  Not with the hamper, it’s plenty large enough to hold all her pretty things, shoes and all, and with no lid, there’s no more, “Mom, I need help!”  Also, with the sturdy metal support rods, I’m not worried about her breaking the supports.

Land's End

 

Land's End

I love these Land’s End Canvas Storage Totes for their quality, functionality, gorgeous construction and finally, for helping me find some great storage solutions in my home!

Giveaway-  Land’s End is giving one of our readers a full set of 5 Canvas Storage Totes as seen here (color may vary).  One set contains the extra small, small, medium, large and hamper. Retail online $195.50.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also be sure to go over to visit Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons too! Her awesome organizing blog is having a giveaway of the Lands’ End Storage Totes too!

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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New Organizational Tool For The Kitchen- Freshtape Review

Organize Those Pantries and Freezers with Freshtape

By Amy Trauntvein

I received some of the freshtape labels in order to share my review with you. My opinions and pictures are my own.

What is Freshtape you ask?   Freshtape is a new food-saving way to keep your opened food bags fresh AND organized!  Freshtape replaces the chip clips, twist-ties and tape that we all use to keep food fresh, and free from freezer burn, but do these items REALLY do the job we want?  Admit it, after a few days, things don’t taste as fresh as when they were first opened, expecially if you live somewhere that is humid, like me. Enter Freshtape!  The reusable, recycleable BPA, phalate free “stickers” to reseal all those opened, half used packages that fill our pantries and freezers!  And since they are recloseable and reusable, you throw away less food that has gone bad and you save money! Now you’re talking my language!

My opened and half used baking ingredients…

Freshtape

Look how nice and organized my half eaten chips and snacks are!

Freshtape

They even work perfect in the freezer  for all those veggies and fruit and waffles and meat and bread and….

Don’t forget to Eat Your Vegetables!

Freshtape

 

And even better, they are made right here in the good ole U.S. of A.!  I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America……   Oh sorry, got caught up in the moment for a sec.

Freshtape

Did you notice how fun the prints are?  My favorites are the animal prints…

Freshtape

and the Retro Housewife prints!  Aren’t these cute?

Freshtape

And look at my drawer before and after Freshtape.

Before with 13 chip clips…

Freshtape

After with 28 Freshtape!  I love finding extra space, even in a tiny little drawer.

Freshtape

I’ve enjoyed reviewing Freshtape and would recommend them to anyone, because face it, we ALL have opened, half eaten bags and packages in our kitchens!  My only suggestion, would be that I wished they had a smaller size too, for those smaller items/bags that need to be re-closed.  Other than that, I was very pleased and happy with this product!  You can find them at getfreshtape.com on Facebook and on Twitter.

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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Great Stay and Awesome Calamari at Sawmill Creek Resort

We Had An Enjoyable Stay At Sawmill Creek Resort

Dave and I were invited to visit Put-in-Bay Island and stay at the Sawmill Creek Resort, for a review. The resort was about 1/2 hour away from Catawba, where we got off the ferry. It’s situated on Lake Erie, although you can’t see Lake Erie from the room we were staying in. a

sawmill creek resort

As we drove into this golf resort, Dave realized he had stayed here several years ago, when he was on a company outing. My Dad also recalls staying at the Sawmill Creek Resort. My Dad recalls wonderful meals, great golf and a very nice resort. Dave went on a fishing expedition when he stayed, and was pleased when he realized it was the same place he had stayed before.

The decor is very outdoor, western comfortable feel. I love this atmosphere, and I know Dave would much rather have this style of decorating rather than “hotsy-totsy” fancy.

Sawmill Creek Resort

resort

We went to our room and it was an instant.. “Oh, this is NICE!”.  You know,  that initial impression you get when you first open the door to a new hotel. Nice, light colors, very clean and inviting.  I loved the fireplace we had in the room, and the couch that you could sit on to relax.  The king size bed had the most comfortable pillows!  I will say that the mattress itself was ok. There was some kind of harder ridging on the edge of it, that kind of hurt the back of my legs when I first got in. Dave thought that maybe it was some kind of handles to move the mattress?? But once you were in, it was pretty comfortable.  I would have loved a balcony to sit out on. I felt like the room should have one. But we did have a nice big window to look out of.

sawmill creek resort

We went back to the front desk and were given a ride on a golf cart to see the beach area and go to the restaurant.  It was a nice little ride down to this area. I’m not sure if you have to always ask for a ride, or if you are able to take your own golf cart.. but it would be a bit of a walk without one. Cars can’t fit on the path.

sawmill creek resort

They have recently laid sod, and will soon be able to host weddings here.  What a beautiful setting!

huron

The beach is just beyond this grassy area.  It was kind of a wet, cool, rainy afternoon when we were there, so no one was on the beach – but it looks like it would really be nice.  I love that it’s secluded. To have your own beach front is always nice.

PIB 35

The manager then dropped us off at one of the restaurants at the resort, Mariner’s at the Mariner’s Village Marina. It was a fine dining restaurant and it was nice to have the owner there to greet us. We chose to eat out on the screened in porch, overlooking the marina. They have plastic chairs and tables out there, but still have them dressed up to look very nice.

mariners restaurant

 

I took up the waitress’s suggestion for a mint patty drink (and it was ok, but I should have just stuck with a glass of wine).  They brought out some bread that I thought Dave was going to die over! I think I had two small pieces and he finished the rest of this.  Butter galore, but it had a bit of a crisp edge to it. I’m not sure how it was prepared, but it was great.

Mariner's Restuarant

I love Calamari, but so often it’s a little rubbery or tough, so I’m always a little apprehensive when I order it.  We did get it.. and I have to say – to this date, this is the BEST calamari that I have ever had. OMG…  I didn’t know it could be this tender. I think Dave had just a couple and I ate most all of this. I had it with the pesto sauce. Just writing about this, I have a craving for it again!

calamari

Dave ordered the Seared Duck that was one of their specials, from the advice of the owner. He loved it. I had a bite of it too, and it was really good. I’ve not had that much duck to compare it to, but I know it was good.

seared duck

I had the Lake Erie Perch for my meal.  It was good, I don’t know that it stood out from other perch I’ve eaten, but I enjoyed it.  We walked back to our place. We weren’t real sure how to go, but took a path that lead through the golf course and made our way back.

I would recommend staying at the Sawmill Creek Resort, without hesitation.. but you know what I’m also going to suggest too.. right?  If you go, you have to eat at the Mariner’s Restaurant and order Calamari!

Our stay at the hotel was taken care of, but we paid for our own meal at The Mariner’s Restaurant. The thoughts, opinions and pictures are all my own.

You can find more information on the Sawmill Creek Resort Facebook page.

 

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My First Trip & Review of Put-In-Bay #Travel #Ohio

Put-In-Bay, Ohio is an island in Lake Erie

It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in Ohio all my life and have never been to Put-in-Bay. I’ve heard about it forever, but I never really had the opportunity to go or big desire. I had this offer to do a review of the island, and was told I could bring my family. I’ve always heard that Put-in-Bay was a “party” island, so I immediately said that I didn’t want the kids to come. But I was curious myself.  Dave and I set off for the island on a Saturday morning.

Put -in-Bay

It took us just under three hours to get there from the Columbus area. We met up with Ryan, who owns Green Door Mediaworks  at the Miller Boat Line to catch the ferry over to Put-in-Bay.  The day seemed a little questionable weather -wise.. but we lucked out. A few threats of rain, but everything bypassed us.

Miller Boat Line

 

Ryan was an awesome tour guide on our way to the island. He was pointing out all the little islands and explaining where things were, etc. He really knows the island and history.

With Miller’s Ferry you are able to take your car over to the island if you’d like to, but it isn’t nearly as much fun. We went up to the top to sit, where there were plenty of seats to enjoy the ride over.

Millers ferry

 

To me… part of the charm and the “feel” of the island was using the golf carts. It was so fun to just tool around in them. Of course, we could have gotten bikes (but thank goodness Ryan planned for us to get the carts and not bikes! I would have been dying with bikes!) instead of golf carts, but you can cover a lot more of the island in an afternoon with a cart.

bike rental

We all went to lunch at a cute place called Goat Soup & Whisky Tavern.  There was a darling outdoor patio, and a few tables with umbrellas that were outside of that. Although I didn’t try and soup or whisky, I really enjoyed it.  I did try two new things, walleye fries and a perch taco. The Walleye Fries were just pieces of Walleye that were cut in long narrow strips and deep fried, with some dipping sauce. Yum! I have heard my friends talk about fish taco’s for years, but have never tried one.  I decided to go for it. These were fried perch taco’s. Oh… so good! I had one, but wish I had ordered two. I will for sure get these again when I come back to visit the island the next time.

Goat Soup & Whisky Tavern

After lunch, Dave and I took off on our own and explored the island. It would have been fun to have been able to have eaten a few more meals on the island. There were several places I would have loved to have tried.

I think The Keys, sitting out on the water looks so fun! I love the way it looks, with the bright beachy colors. One thing I love to do when I go to a beach, or lake, or somewhere with water; is to sit and drink a nice glass of wine. Yes.. next visit for sure.

the keys

The Board Walk also has that water view and feel. It looks like a little finer dining. Maybe The Keys for lunch and then the Board Walk for dinner?

Board Walk Put in Bay

I love the outdoor seating at Hooligans Irish Pub, it just looked very comfortable.  It’s not over looking the water, but it is right in the center of town where you can see all the activity.

Put in bay

It was pirates weekend when we were there. There were cannon’s going off, a pirates market/craft show in the middle of the square and men,woman,kids and animals all dressed up as pirates.

put in bay

put in bay

newfie pirate

The square and feel of the island town was charming. I loved it. Everything was clean and well taken care of.  I had always envisioned this row of old bars, when I thought of Put-in-Bay. Not that I’d ever been here to see… but my entire thought of the island is different now.  There were plenty of places for people to drink, and there were plenty of people eating and drinking in them – but the atmosphere was fresh, clean and very island feeling. You tend to forget you are in Ohio.

Put in bay

put in bay

PIB

PIB

PIB

There are some sights to see on the island and things to do. We went to visit the Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center and did a few activities there.

perrys cave

We went to visit the Butterfly House. There was a really nice gift shop inside and the actual butterflies are in a greenhouse style structure in the back.

The butterfly house

Going into the butterfly house, someone came up to us and gave us some information about the butterfly house. That was really nice. They were there to answer any questions, and to let you know how to be careful with the butterflies, so as not to harm them.

PIB

butterfly

We then went on the Perrys Cave tour. I have to explain that I’ve been in several caves and really enjoy going on cave tours, before I give my honest opinion on this cave tour.  This was a 20 minute tour.  We walked down a flight of steps to go down into the cave. You have to bend down part of the way, going down the step and small steps to a depth of only about 50 feet below ground.  This was a wet cave. Puddles of water to walk around, and water dripping off the ceiling. I know some caves can be wet, and others aren’t. Our guide did a great job of explaining things in the cave.  I can not however recommend this cave tour.  Maybe if you’ve never been in a cave, you’d find it worth the cost.  A good explanation for me would be, too much talk and not enough cave.  I felt like they tried to drag out the tour to make it at least 20 minutes. You walk, only about 150 feet into the cave and stop every few feet for a 5 minute talk. I heard a couple people saying, “Is this it?” and one little boy said, “Where is the rest of the cave, where does that go?”.   I felt very disappointed. Had Dave and I had to pay the $8 each to go into the cave (rather than it being part of my review), I would have really been disappointed.

perrys cave

There was a really nice putt-putt course. We always love a good game of putt-putt!

PIB putt putt

Driving around the island and seeing the sites, stopping for some ice cream and just wandering around was so relaxing. I really wish we could have stayed a few days.

put in bay

PIB

PIB

I can certainly recommend Put-in-Bay to anyone! If you love a beautiful, active and fun island, then you’ll love it here. I feel like we made a mistake in not bringing the kids with us. I would have no problem bringing them here.  I might not plan to have them in town on a weekend night, as I’m sure things liven up quite a bit – hence the party atmosphere.  But it’s not something you wouldn’t see in Florida or any other vacation zone that has bars and water.  I think they would have loved it here.

I’ll be sure to come back, but I want to plan on spending a little more time here… and of course – I’ll be sure to get a golf cart to get around!

golf carts on Put in bay

 

You can follow these handles to find out a bit more about the island.

@Put_in_Bay
@MillerBoatLine
@ShoresIslandsOH
@DiscoverOhio

Our ferry rides, golf cart, lunch, Perry’s Cave, Butterfly House, Putt-Putt and our night stay (review to come soon) were all paid for.  My photos, thoughts and opinions are all my own.

 

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Scavenger Hunt

July 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Activites for Kids, Blog, Family & Friends

Kids Love a Good Scavenger Hunt!

I decided to repurpose this post again this year. I had forgotten it myself, until I was going through some old posts. The kids had SO much fun doing this last year. It is something I am for SURE going to have them do again this year. Doesn’t cost a thing, keeps them busy for awhile and they get exercise. What could be better?

Do you remember going on scavenger hunts as a kids while at a friend’s party or with a church group?  I do and I loved them!  The triplets were a little on the bored side (can you believe that? Summer and nothing to do? lol) and I wanted to encourage them to be outside.  I do not allow TV, computers or video games during the day, unless it’s raining. I want them to get outside and play, explore and use their imaginations.

scavenger hunt

I decided the other day to send them on a scavenger hunt.  Our town is on the small side, so I felt comfortable with it.  I wrote up a list of things that I knew they could find and a few they’d have to search out.  I sent them with our home cell phone (nope… they do not have their own yet…. the only ones their age according to them!).

I sent them with a list of things to hunt out and they had to take pictures of them with the phone.  No knocking on doors and bringing back an entire bag of stuff (like we used to do).

Here is the list I sent them with:

scavenger hunt

They had a blast! They took their friend with them and were gone close to 2 hours.  I did talk to them during that time, so I knew everything was going well.  The only thing they couldn’t find was a garage sale.

I also sent along $5 and told them they could stop at the gas station and get a snack that they all could split, but that they had to have their list completed before they stopped for their snack.

There is now talk of doing another one and competing against another team.  One of the mother’s saw I had sent them on a scavenger hunt because I posted it on my Facebook page that day and she said her kids would love to do it with them!

I think I’ve started a new tradition!

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Organize for July 4th celebrations

Staying Home or Heading Out for July 4th?

Whenever you plan for the July 4th, or any holidays, vacations or just weekend getaways…. you usually always forget something if you aren’t prepared. Right?july 4th

We don’t usually do anything real big for July 4th. Our town has a nice firework display that we go to every year.   We don’t want to go to some massive display downtown and deal with all the traffic and mess you get into down there. Usually we grill out and then head to the high school. Nice and simple.  We’ll also head to the farm on some years and grill out our hotdogs over an open fire. 

It was my dog Sadie’s worse holiday of the year.  She was so scared of fireworks and for a few days prior to 4th of July and a day or so after, there are always those in the neighborhood setting off their own displays. She was a bundle of nerves! It was will strange this year without her, having to leave with the TV blaring and fans running to help cut the noise of fireworks for her.

You might just be staying at home and grilling out for your family, or some friends for the fourth….but you will still need some supplies you weren’t counting on. Chances are you might be going to some friends house for fireworks , or going on a weekend camping or getaway trip.

Get out Your Paper and Pen and start your list for what you will need to have for your 4th of July celebration.  Here are just a few suggestions:
1)Cooler
2)Ice – Make your own ahead if there is time!
3)Food/Drink
4)Place settings/cups
5)Napkins/paper towels
6)Trash Bags
7)Bug Spray
8)Sun Screen
9)Lighter
10)First aid kit

There is the beginning of the list. Of course there is more, but be prepared.  Have a fun 4th of July weekend and please be safe if you are going to be messing with fireworks and even sparklers!

Your day/weekend will go much smoother if you have it planned out and aren’t forgetting half the things you need.

 

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Pigeon Forge, TN Vacation

A Family Vacation Is Good For All!

The kids wanted to return to TN for a family vacation this year. We went in 2009 and had a great time. We used our first vacation in a vacation package we had purchased a few years ago and found a nice 3 story cabin in Pigeon Forge that was great.

Pigeon Forge Family pic

 

I’ve been so busy with my full time job that the thought of taking a vacation was actually stressing me out.  I already had a position that hadn’t been filled under me that I was covering, and I knew that work would have to go onto someone else who already had a full plate. The awesome part about where I work is that everyone helps each other out. My team was awesome, telling me to go and relax and stay off line! (Which I didn’t totally do, but I only dealt with the big issues while I was on vacation – which was better than I thought it might be.)

Dave’s main objective was to take a few hikes in the Smoky Mountains and take the kids fishing for trout.   He got to accomplish both of his goals. He took the kids on one hike that thankfully I backed out of.  It took them 3 hours to hike up to Rainbow Falls. Evidently it was pretty much an incline hike with a very rocky path the whole way up and then took them only an hour to get back down.

I agreed to go to Clingman’s Dome.  It was a mountain drive up (keep in mind, I hate twisty, curvy mountain roads… so I drove) and then a 1/2 mile steep hike up a path to see it.  It was mid morning of a 90 degree day in TN when we left.  The temp was mid 80′s before we started up the mountain. The kids were having fun watching the thermostat go down as we went up the mountain. We reached the top and it was 64 degrees and windy… but very, very foggy! We knew we weren’t going to see much of anything. The picture above was taken as we came back from Clingman’s Dome and there was a clearing in the fog. We could actually see the mountains! Everyone was running to get pictures.

This was what Clingman’s Dome looked like when we were finally getting to it. Even though 1/2 mile isn’t far to walk, because of the incline and because I’m still so out of shape… it was rough! I didn’t feel as bad since there were a lot of other people stopping frequently also to get their breath.

Clingman's Dome

We had fun looking out at the white foggy mass, saying… “We made it to Clingman’s Dome and we CAN’T SEE A THING!”   The area at the bottom of the 1/2 mile hike up (where you park your cars), the kids had fun climbing up on some big ol’ rocks.

Smoky Mountains

Dave was thrilled to see part of the Appalachian Trail, as we were coming down from Clingman’s Dome. He made us walk in a little ways and then was educating the kids (and me) as to the marks on some of the trees, the signs to the next shelter areas, etc. We spent probably 15 minutes down on the trail while he taught his kids some of the history and stories about the trail.  He would have made an awesome teacher!

Appalachian Trail

 

One of the other things Dave really wanted the kids to experience was trout fishing in the Smoky Mountains.  He had a few obstacles in the way. The first biggie was that the kids had never gone fly fishing. The next was that he didn’t want to take a mass of fishing gear if they were going to hike, in order to fish.  

Ended up that we found a great public park that had fishing for kids 12 and younger. Perfect! The triplets are 12, even if Zach does look like he’s about 14. We joked that if a Game Warden did stop to ask the kids ages, they wouldn’t believe us… saying they were triplets and they were all 12.
Dave had prepared ahead of time. He got something called bubbles that he was able to rig up on regular fishing lines, rather than fly lines. With this bubble, they were still able to fish with the flies. They went two different times. Each of the kids did catch some trout. Alex caught several, Zach, I think caught two and Elise caught one… and a pregnant minnow, as she kept saying.

trout fishing

Another day we went horseback riding. It was a hour ride  walk up into the hills and back down. It was fun, the kids had a great time. They wouldn’t let you take any kind of cameras or phones on the horses though. ugh.. I wanted pictures!!  The same location also had “gold mining” as part of the package we purchased.  The kids get a bag with gems in it, and get to “pan” for them.

gold mining

We went to see one of the dinner shows, the Lumber Jack Feud.  The kids loved it. I had been to the Dixie Stampede when I was in Branson and really enjoyed the show. I thought the lumber jack one would be more enjoyable for the kids, and Dave. They had a great time.

We also spent time at the NASCAR Speed Park. Of course the kids loved that. Dave and I enjoyed the racing also.

NASCAR speedpark

It was a great vacation! Time to unplug and spend some quality time with the family.  It was really good for me.  I wasn’t sure if I was even going to do a post or not. Since none of our trip was sponsored in anyway, I certainly didn’t have to. I did want to share with you our trip!

 

 

 

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Family Fun at the Columbus Commons

Need something new to do with the kids this summer?  Check out the Columbus Commons!

by Amy Trauntvein

Columbus Commons

Summer is here and the kids are out of school.  The pool is fun and so is the park, but can’t think of anything NEW to do with the kids this summer that won’t cost a fortune?  Check out the Columbus Commons!  I have to admit, I didn’t even know this place existed before last weekend, but I’m totally happy that I know all about it now, for some fun in the sun with my kiddos!  Our family received an invitation to come check out the Columbus Commons and discover everything they have to offer  this summer and beyond.  As you can see, my youngest loved the Carousel.

And the Reading Room…

Columbus Commons

And the Art Box…

Columbus Commons

My older kids and hubby liked the Ping Pong table and Corn Hole games…

Columbus Commons

 

Columbus Commons

And they ALL had a great time with the huge building blocks at the Imagination Playground!

Columbus Commons

And the best thing about all these activities?  Most of them are FREE! (Carousel Rides are $1)  The Columbus Commons is open every day (hours vary) with all these family friendly, fun things for you and your kids of any age.  Check out the details of their Free Open Play Activities. 

If you’re interested in even more fun stuff at the Columbus Commons, here  is their full (printable) 2013 Family Friendly Programming Schedule which includes activities such as Commons for Kids every Friday from 10-2, Movies at the Commons in June and July, Mayor Coleman’s Neighborhood Pride Block Party in August, and Family Fun Day also in August to name just a few. And don’t forget, many of these are FREE!  Free fun for the whole family?  You can beat that!

The Columbus Commons is located in downtown Columbus right across the street from the convenient and affordable (only $2!) Columbus Commons Parking Garage located at 55 E Rich Street or 191 S Third Street.

I hope you’ll check out what the Columbus Commons has to offer for your family and maybe I’ll see you there!  I know I will be heading to the Commons with my kids many times this summer and beyond!

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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Memorial Day

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Holidays & Special Events

Memorial Day -Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives

Often we think only of Memorial day as a three day weekend and a time for cookouts and parties. But we have many people to thank for the freedom to have those cookouts and parties.  Many, many people gave their lives in order for us to have our freedom.

We were driving to meet some family for dinner tonight. As we drove through Westerville, Ohio we saw this awesome flag display.

Memorial Day Tribute

I didn’t have my good camera with me, and I had to have some  pics. I took these pictures with my phone.

Memorial Day Tribute

Dave stopped by one of the tables that were set up and asked about them.

Memorial day Flags

There were 2,500 flags set up. You could purchase one of the flags for $30 and dedicate the flag to someone that has passed and was very special in your life. It doesn’t have to be a veteran (although I think most of them were), they also suggested a policeman or fireman.  They would print out a card with that person’s name and your message on a blue card and attach it to the flag pole.  Then tomorrow evening you can come back and pick up your flag.

If we had been able to get back to that area of town tomorrow, I’m sure we would have gotten one for my husband’s father.

They also had a 911 tribute.  The luminaries were attached to a generator and I bet it looked really awesome at night.

911 tribute

When I saw the sign and realized what this was about, I had to fight back tears. I don’t know anyone personally that was killed, but anytime I think about it and the terror that those involved went through…. the pain, the fear, the death for so many… it is almost overwhelming to me.

911 luminaries

With my boys (Joe on the left, Drew on the right) in the Army now, Memorial Day means even more. Knowing they are serving our country… I couldn’t be prouder. Their cousin Matt is in the center. He is a veteran also. He was in Iraq serving as a medic. He saw and has dealt with so much. He still wears a black metal bracelet that has Matthew Holley’s name and date of death on his arm … for the last six years.  My nephew Matt posted about it on Facebook and Matthew Holley’s father responded his gratitude back on Facebook.  I then looked at John Holley’s FB page (I’m not friends with him, so could only see a couple pictures) but realized that they have a book coming out soon about their son and his story. If I can find out more information about the book, I’ll let you know.

memorial day

Please think of someone who served or is serving and thank them (if possible) tomorrow. See a vet, shake their hand and say thank you. My son will be traveling home tomorrow. I was so impressed and proud of so many people who would see him in his uniform when were at the airport and thank him. My boys have had their meals paid for when they were out. People do appreciate those serving. It is a very cool thing.

Don’t forget!

This post was originally posted Memorial Day 2011

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Odwalla and Champions for Kids Fighting Hunger in the Summer

Odwalla + Champions For Kids Simple Service Project

by Amy Trauntvein

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®, Odwalla, and Champions for Kids.  However, all opinions are my own. #cbias #SocialFabric #Odwalla4Kids

Too many kids (and families) are hungry in America.  When school is out for the summer, many children lose access to the school breakfasts, lunches and after-school snacks they receive during the regular school year.  Low-income families with children face even more challenges during the summer when they stretch their food budget to provide additional meals for their children.
Odwalla has teamed up with Champions For Kids to help fight hunger in the summer campaign.  My family was recently asked to help in the fight against hunger by purchasing Odwalla nutrition bars at Walmart and donating them to our Local Food Pantry.  We were able to purchase over 50 bars!
Odwalla Simple Servie Project

These wholesome snack bars taste great and are an easy way to fill kids’ hungry bellies while giving them the nutrition they need.

Odwalla Simple Service Project

Along with the Odwalla bars, we donated  several other food & non-food items that we had in surplus at our home.

Odwalla Simple Service Project

With the couponing I do, I also have plenty of non-food items that I purchase for donations and since our local food pantry also accepts these things, we gathered them up as well.  If someone doesn’t have to buy shampoo, soap or other toiletries, then they can have more money to purchase food for their families.

Odwalla Simple Service Project

Here are our donations packed up and ready to be given to those in need.

Odwalla Simple Service Project

 

Odwalla Simple Service Project

When I arrived at our Community Food Pantry, I noticed how empty their shelves were.

Odwalla Simple Service Project

After talking with Ruth, the coordinator, and Angela, her assistant, they said that the need keeps rising and also with summer coming, the need will be even greater with kids not getting school breakfasts and lunches.  This small pantry helped over 129 families in April and are tracking to help even more this month.  They receive no funding or government assistance, they only rely on the goodness and generosity of the community.

Angela and Ruth of the Johnstown Community Food Pantry

Odwalla Simple Service Project

Ways YOU Can Help! -by Champions For Kids Simple Service Project

GATHER your friends, family and co-workers to fight hunger in the summer by hosting a food drive in your community.  Nutritious snacks like Odwalla Kids Bars and Juice Boxes would be great to give!  Consider giving out prizes to the person who donates the most food at you office or community organization!

LEARN about the needs of children in your community by asking a food pantry volunteer, school nurse, or social worker to talk with your group about their experiences.

GIVE the food items that you collect to a food bank in your community so that children and families will have enough to eat this summer.

SHARE your story with us at www.championsforkids.org/share so that we can celebrate your participation!  How many people were involved, and how many items did you collect?  Please let us know that you are ONE of Millions who helped reach our goal to mobilize 20 Million people by 2020 to become Champions For Kids!

Be sure to check out Odwalla on Facebook, Twitter and Odwalla.com!

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

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, yoga, walking and saving money! 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.

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