Two New Adventures At Hocking Hills Canopy Tours

New Off-Road Segway Adventures & X-Treme Zipline Tour at Hocking Hills Canopy!

By Amy

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours provided both tours to my family and me for this review.  All pictures and opinions are honest and my own.

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours

Zip into a recess cave!

My family and I love to go on adventures!  We love to travel far from home, but we also love to seek out fun and exciting things to do right here in Ohio.  The Hocking Hills area is one of our most favorite places to go!  We love the outdoors, camping, hiking and basically just being outside.  Old Man’s Cave, Rock House, Ash Cave and Conkles Hollow are our top hiking picks for the area.  But if your up more than just hiking,  Hocking Hills Canopy Tours provide even more fun and excitement within this beautiful place and they’ve got 2 brand new adventure tours open this year. They were SO much fun!!!

The “X” Tour- “X-Treme” Zipline Tour

We all LOVE ziplining!  It’s a fabulous and safe way to get high up in the trees and feel like you’re flying as you zip along through the trees and see everything from up high.  Definitely one of my very favorite things to do!

Here’s what Hocking Hills Canopy says about their newest extreme ziplining. “Hocking Hills Canopy Tours’ “X” Tour is a 2.5- to 3-hour, professionally guided, extreme zipline tour.  A new hybrid course design uses a combination of trees and towers to create a cross country-style tour that boasts 11 ziplines and showcases many amazing Hocking Hills features. Visitors sail above the region’s signatures rolling hills.  This one-of-a-kind faster, higher, longer tour even zips adventurers into a hidden, recess cave with waterfall and across the scenic Hocking River not once, but twice.”

Hocking Hills Canopy X-treme Zipline Tour
My family loved this zipline!  They also have no problem hanging out over the edge of the platforms 60 feet off the ground!  Many zips went right through tree “tunnels”.

Hocking Hills Canopy X-treme Zipline Tour

Zipping along the Hocking River was a highlight!


My favorite was zipping into a recess cave with a waterfall!  Here we are inside the cave after zipping in.

Hocking Hills Canopy X-treme Zipline Tour

Out tour guides were professional and fun to work with!  They made us feel comfortable and at ease, and cheered us on even when we forgot to listen to them (they nicknamed me One-Armed Amy).

Hocking Hills Canopy Tour X-Treme Zipline

See those Segways in the background?  We’re doing those next!

Hocking Hills Canopy X-Tour

X-Treme Zipline Tour Guides- Nick and Eric.  Thanks guys, you rocked!


We totally loved the “X” Tour Ziplines and would do it again at anytime!  Two thumbs up!

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours X-Tour Zipline


Off-Road Segway Adventures Tour

None of us had really “Segwayed” before and all four of us were way excited to check out this unique tour that is not offered anywhere else in the surrounding area, let alone “Off-Road”!  How cool is that???

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours describes it as follows, “The Segway® Adventure Features a 1.5- to 2-hour guided nature tour, with guides highlighting the unique features of the area while guests experience the thrill of a state-of-the-art Off-Road SegwayX2.  Carefully designed to offer a highly intuitive driver experience, the all-terrain Segway X2 offers the ultimate way to see Hocking Hills’ dramatic scenery.  Drivers report that it feels as if the Segway can read their mind as they glide along rugged paths taking in the area’s lush natural surroundings. While they easily master the Segway, guests discover ancient recessed caves, the scenic Hocking River, majestic old-growth trees, native plants and wildlife and much more on the adventures, which are led by knowledgeable, trained naturalists.”

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours Segway Adventure

It only took us about 2 minutes to get trained on driving the Segways and then let us loose on a practice field to get acclimated to our new “vehicles”.

Hocking Hills Canopy Segway Adventure

I think he’s ready to go!  Our kids were so excited to drive the Segways!

Hocking Hills Canopy Segway Adventure

The trails are clearly marked with signs and have many stopping points along the way to get off and look around, and stretch our feet.  Surprisingly, your feet get a bit tired standing on those things!  As a safety precaution (and rightly so!) I couldn’t take any pictures while on my Segway, so I didn’t get as many pictures.

Hocking Hills Canopy Segway Adventure

Candy and Justin were our superb Tour Guides and kept us all on the straight and narrow, especially Todd who wanted to venture a bit more “off-road” than the trail, haha!  They were really great and gave us driving pointers all along the way.

Hocking Hills Canopy Segway Adventure

Once we finished our tour, they let us take the Segways on another spin around the practice field since we were a lot more comfortable driving them.  I think my kids had fun on them, what do you think?

Hocking Hills Canopy Segway Adventure

We really had so much fun on both tours!  I asked my kids which one they liked the very best.  Emily voted for the Segway tour and Tyler also voted for the Segways.  Both Todd and I couldn’t decide which one we liked the best, just because they are so different, so we say that if you’re going there, just do both!

Thank you to Hocking Hills Canopy Tours for the invitation, for your excellent staff and for the awesome memories!  Be sure to check them out on Facebook too!

Love To All!  ~Amy


Subscribe by Email

Strawberry Summer Salad Recipe

June 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Food, Sales, Shopping, Stores

Strawberry Chicken Salad Recipe For A Quick Summer Meal

By Amy
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a shopper social amplification for Collective Bias. #GOWalmart #CollectiveBias #WMT2774

Summer Salads #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

I love summer!  Being outside in the sun makes me less than enthusiastic about coming in and heating up the kitchen by cooking a big meal.  Summer salad recipes are the perfect solution.  Fresh produce and minimal cooking make it the perfect summer meal!  I went to the new Walmart Supercenter to shop for a new salad idea that sounded great at this time of year!  Strawberries are in season right now so I couldn’t resist making a lovely salad with the gorgeous strawberries I bought.

Summer Salads #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

This salad was going to be a full meal, so I wanted to add some protein. I purchased chicken, because my family loves it, and it goes great with strawberries.  The price was great, so I purchased a large package.

Summer Salads #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

I wanted to make sure everything about this salad was nice and fresh so I decided to make homemade dressing too.  Here are both of the recipes:

Strawberry Chicken Salad

- Mixed greens (rinsed and chopped)

- Strawberries (washed and sliced)

- 1-2 Grilled Chicken Breasts, diced (depending on amount of protein you’d like)

- Blue Cheese Crumbles

- Glazed Pecans (or any type of “candied” nuts) found near the produce or on the bakery aisle

Strawberry Poppy Seed Dressing

- 1 cup Diced Strawberries

- 1/4 cup Fresh Lime Juice

- 1/3 cup Sugar (or 6 Tbs Honey)

- 3/4 tsp Sea Salt

- 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

- 1 Tbs Rice Vinegar (you can use white vinegar, but rice vinegar isn’t quite as strong)

- 1/4 cup Canola Oil

- 1/2 Tbs Poppy Seeds

Toss all ingredients, except for oil and poppy seeds into a blender.  Blend until smooth. Turn the blender onto the lowest setting and while blending, slowly add canola oil until mixed. Add poppy seeds and pulse a couple of times until distributed throughout. Be careful not to pulverize the seeds. Be sure to keep it in airtight container, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Plan to use it within a couple of days.

I was really impressed by the quality of produce at Walmart! Everything was fresh and colorful. It’s refreshing to find high quality produce when you shop.

Summer Salads #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

Summer Salads #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

I love strawberries and lime together.  The flavors mesh so well and the colors are magnificent.

Summer Salads #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

I sprinkled salt and pepper on the breasts and grilled them on the stovetop, but grilling outside is always an option.  The chicken was so tender and juicy!

Summer Salads #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

This salad was the perfect summer-time meal.  I even had the leftovers for lunch the next day.  Since the ingredients were so fresh, they still tasted great the day after!  I also had a nice cool glass of  Strawberry Limeade, the perfect drink for this meal.

Summer Salads #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

Be sure to stop by your local Walmart and purchase the supplies for your summer meal. My family was very pleased with this salad and my husband asked me if I could make it again this week.  I consider that a success.



Subscribe by Email

Walmart Department- Guessing Game and Giveaway!

Play the Walmart Department Guessing Game and Win!

By Amy
I attended the Walmart Grand Opening as a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a shopper social amplification for Collective Bias and it’s advertiser. #GOWalmart #CollectiveBias #WMT2774

Walmart Department Guessing Game #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

Who doesn’t love a fun guessing game with a giveaway? While I was attending the Walmart Supercenter Grand Opening, I took some closeups of a few items that can be found in the store, and YOU get to guess which department I found them in. If you play the game and enter below, you could be a winner!

Prizes: One of the following.  One GRAND PRIZE of one (1) $500 Walmart gift card, or one of five (5) $50 Walmart Gift cards!  Worth playing for?  I think so!

Before you get started, here are the instructions to play The Walmart Department Guessing Game.

I have posted 5 close up photos from items I found in the new Walmart Supercenter (store #2774), and you need to guess which Department I found the item in.

Here are the different Departments at Walmart:

Grocery , Household, Pets, Pharmacy, Health & Beauty, Crafts & Party Supplies, Photo, Auto, Home Improvement, Sports, Outdoors, Toys, Clothing, Accessories, Shoes, Jewelry, Home Décor, Electronics & Office.  There are a few more sub (smaller) categories like movies, books etc. but we’ll stick with the big ones for this game.

To get you warmed up, here’s one for practice.  Try to guess which department I found the sparkly photo (above) in……  Did you guess?

The answer is: Crafts & Party Supplies!  It’s a big sheet of sticky back sparkly paper.  Are you ready to play?  Ok!  Here are your five pictures to guess from…










Walmart Department Guessing Game #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop


How did you do?  Was it way easy or did I make it too hard?  Well, no matter!  As long as you played, you can enter your guesses on the Rafflecopter below!  Winners will be notified and gift cards sent.  Good luck to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love to all! ~ Amy

Subscribe by Email

Family Fun Day at the Dublin Walmart Grand Opening

Fun & Food at the Walmart Supercenter Grand Opening!

By Amy
I attended the Walmart Grand Opening as a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a shopper social amplification for Collective Bias and it’s advertiser. #GOWalmart #CollectiveBias #WMT2774

Walmart Family Fun Day #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

The Grand Opening Festivities at the new Walmart Supercenter were a family stop for us today. I brought my children, along with a friend of my daughters, to do a little shopping and enjoy the family friendly games, activities and food. Summer break has begun and we’re in need of some new summer clothes and swimsuits.

Walmart Family Fun Day #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

As soon as we drove into the parking lot, we could see all the activity that was taking place. It was a perfect day for being outside, enjoying the sunshine, some games and a little lunch.

Walmart Family Fun Day #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

I appreciated that they were serving fresh fruit with the hot dogs. The fruit was so tasty and I knew I’d be stopping in the produce department to pick some up to take home. It’s a perfect example to show the kids that fruits are great to go along with any meal.


My youngest loved the mini cupcakes, and I enjoyed testing out some new products.

Walmart Family Fun Day #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop


Walmart Family Fun Day #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

The kids throughly enjoyed the professional face painter. Hailey chose a “Frozen” theme eye paint.


The older girls got into the whole face painting!  I was really impressed with the quality and speed she created these designs and it made our Grand Opening adventure very memorable for them.

Walmart Family Fun Day #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

After we finished all the fun outside, we ventured into the store to purchase a few things and we found Chester Cheetah!  Of course we had to get a picture with him.


I LOVE that they have tankini’s for little girls!  This is the type of swimsuit both my daughters prefer to wear and it has been so hard finding a good selection for my youngest.  She loved every one of these cute suits! It was hard for her to decide on just one.


If you’re into fishing and camping, this is THE place to shop!  They have a huge camping section and I was enthralled by how many fishing poles they carry!  Note: this picture only shows a small percentage of all the poles they have.


How can you walk down this aisle and not enjoy all the colors?   Wouldn’t it be fun to buy some of every color and have a whole rainbow of towels at home?

If you’re in the area, make sure to check out this new Walmart in Dublin, Ohio on Sawmill Rd. It’s a Supercenter which means it has it all! Clothing, home goods, electronics, along with a full grocery section too all at their Every day Low Prices!  If you to stop in to check it out, share your visit through Twitter, Facebook & Instagram using the hashtag #GOWalmart.

Love to all! ~ Amy

Subscribe by Email

Amazing Finds and Walmart Deals at the Sawmill Road Grand Opening!

I Found Some Totally Cool Things At The Walmart Grand Opening In Dublin, Ohio!

By Amy

I attended the Walmart Grand Opening as a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a shopper social amplification for Collective Bias and it’s advertiser. #GOWalmart  #CollectiveBias #WMT2774

Amazing Finds at Walmart #GOWalmart #shop

This morning I attended the Grand Opening of the brand new Walmart Supercenter in Dublin, Ohio!  It is a beautiful 176,000 square foot building in the Olde Sawmill Center.  The new Walmart boasts an entire Grocery Department with Deli and Bakery, clothing for the whole family, Electronics, Home Décor, Pharmacy, Garden Center, and a whole lot more!  I had the opportunity to tour the facility and see what I could find. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt, and let me tell you I found some pretty amazing treasures in that store!  Let me show you a few of my favorites.

Most Amazing Finds-Walmart #GOWalmart #shop

I walked into the Outdoor section and instantly fell in love with this beauty!  Deluxe Orbit Lounger with adjustable head and feet positions!  I can just picture myself next to a pool on this baby.  Well, first I need a pool, THEN I can lounge all day long on this while my lovely perfect children can feed me grapes and massage my feet…. Hahaha!  Yeah right, but still a lovely piece for my patio, where my children can keep bugging me every 5 minutes while I TRY to read a book.

Most Amazing Finds-Walmart #GOWalmart #shop

These took my breath away!  Foxgloves and Delphiniums are two of my favorite garden flowers and as you can see, they are GORGEOUS!  Their Garden Department was filled with lovely blooms and vegetable plants all ready to be planted.

Most Amazing Finds-Walmart #GOWalmart #shop

Oh I wish I had a little one to dress this in for the summer holidays! My youngest is a bit too big for this outfit, but I saw it in the little girl’s section and it just made me smile.

Most Amazing Finds-Walmart #GOWalmart #shop

This Walmart has pink guns!  Well, they also have other normal guns, but they have pink ones too!  Not every location sells rifles and shotguns, but this one does!  Pink Camo?  If I were in the market for a gun, I’d be buying that one!

Most Amazing Finds-Walmart #GOWalmart #shop

I was walking down the dishes aisle and this color stopped me dead in my tracks!  These dishes are hand crafted and look at that color!  B-E-A-Utiful! I could handle eating off of these babies every day for the rest of my life.

Most Amazing Finds-Walmart #GOWalmart #shop

You know, I’ve decided it’s the simple things in life that make me happy, and this is exactly one of those things.  My kids are needing new laundry hampers and these are what I’m buying!  I also love that it has wheels!

Most Amazing Finds-Walmart #GOWalmart #shop

And last but certainly not least, we must end our tour of Amazing Finds at Walmart with dessert, of course!  These scrumptious Dessert Shots are the same kind of little desserts  you overpay for at one of those fancy schmancy restaurants with the expensive meals and snooty waiters.  Just grab these delights, and once you’re home and the kids are all in bed, treat yourself to one, two or ALL of these puppies because who needs to share?

Now it’s YOUR turn to go find some Amazing things at your local Walmart!  Let me know what Amazing Things YOU find, I’d love to hear!

Love to all! ~ Amy

Subscribe by Email

Walmart Grand Opening on Sawmill Road in Dublin, Ohio!

May 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Sales, Shopping, Stores

Don’t Miss the Grand Opening of the Walmart Supercenter in Columbus/Dublin!

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 their client. #GOWalmart  #CollectiveBias Walmart Grand Opening #GOWalmart #shop

We’ve got a new Walmart coming to town!  Walmart is officially opening it’s brand new doors on Friday May 30th on Sawmill Road in Columbus, Ohio!  This Walmart is a Supercenter which means it will be offering groceries with fresh produce and meat, clothing, home goods, pharmacy, toys and more all at their Every Day Low Prices, and will be open 24 hours a day.  So if you get a hankering for some double chocolate ice cream at 2am, they’ve got you covered!

Join me this weekend in welcoming Walmart to the community by stopping by (7730 Sawmill Rd. Columbus, OH) and sharing the great news through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #GOWalmart.  You can also head over to  their Facebook page .  Make sure to check out the press release from This Week Community News.  I read something in the article about surprise giveaways and sampling Root Beer floats…yum!

Come support our newest business in town this Grand Opening weekend. Be sure to let your friends know too!  I’ll be posting more through the weekend about some amazing finds at the store, hosting a guessing game with a drawing for Walmart Gift Cards, and posting up a new recipe. Keep checking in with us to see what all we can do with Walmart!
Love to all! ~ Amy






I have been married for 24 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.

Subscribe by Email

DiVOGA Cork Collection Review and Giveaway!

Organize Your Home or Office with DiVOGA Cork Collection

By Amy

 I received the DiVOGA products from OfficeMax in order to facilitate my review. The DiVOGA products featured in this giveaway are also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

DiVOGA Cork Collection


The utterly cool people at OfficeMax asked me to check out their new line of DiVOGA Cork Collection of office supplies.  Cork??  I was intrigued.  I’ve never heard of cork being used for office and organizing essentials other than bulletin boards.  But as you can see, they have created some pretty fabulous products!  Here is the DiVOGA Collection in my own home office computer station.

DiVOGA Cork Collection


My favorite thing about this new cork collection is that it matches with everything!  No matter what your décor, Cork is a neutral, so it will “go” with whatever you already have by way of décor.

Here is what OfficeMax is saying about their new Limited-Edition DiVOGA Cork Collection:

About the DiVOGA® Cork Collection

Tired of yesterday’s trends? Try today’s new neutral! The new, limited-edition DiVOGA Cork Collection from OfficeMax delivers just the pop of texture—and basic color—you’re looking for. Its matte finish gives a soothing feel to each piece, from notebooks and note holders to luggage tags and totebags! And because cork is a natural element, each piece is distinctively unique. Look for the DiVOGA Cork Collection at your nearest OfficeMax store.
The limited-edition DiVOGA Cork Collection is part of the fashion-focused DiVOGA line of workplace and home office accessories that is available exclusively at OfficeMax. From file folders to coordinating desktop organizers, DiVOGA offers great solutions to help create a contemporary and clutter-free workspace.

Here are some close ups of the products…

The Pencil Cube has a picture frame on every side for you to personalize.  I added some pretty scrapbook paper to add a pop of color.

DiVOGA Pencil Cube

The Compartment Tray is my favorite DiVOGA product! It is big enough to hold all the “little things” that seem to get lost in a drawer, but small enough to not take up too much desk space.  I love it!

DiVOGA Compartment Tray

Tablet and Cell Phone cases. These are both lined with a soft flannel-like material to protect your personal electronics.

DiVOGA Tablet and Cell Phone Cases


2 Pocket Document Wallet, Journal, and Padfolio (bottom).  All great additions to your organized life!

DiVOGA Document Wallet, Journal & Padfolio

The Magazine File is the perfect size for any papers, notebooks, calendars and file folders you may need to keep together.  I added the Padfolio to the file for size reference.

DiVOGA Magazine File

This Tote Bag, I am loving!  The cork is soft and pliable, and it’s big enough to carry plenty, but not so big and bulky that it would be hard to handle.  The tote bag also has an inside pocket that’s perfect for a cell phone or other smaller item.

DiVOGA Tote Bag

I truly was pleasantly surprised by the fun cork designs, and softness, yet durability of the products and the high quality.  And best of all… YOU, one of our lucky readers can win the package of all 9 products featured in the image below!(Retail Value $100)

DiVOGA Cork Product Bundle

Just enter below and we will notify the winner and have it shipped directly to you!  Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love to all! ~ Amy



I have been married for 24 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.

Subscribe by Email

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.

Subscribe by Email

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)


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.

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

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

OreIda Hashbrowns #shop

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.

Subscribe by Email

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.



Subscribe by Email

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.


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.


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


Subscribe by Email

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 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.


Subscribe by Email

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.

Pin It
Subscribe by Email

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 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 , 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.

Subscribe by Email

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.


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!


Pin It
Subscribe by Email

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 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!  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.

Pin It
Subscribe by Email

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!




Pin It
Subscribe by Email

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.

Pin It
Subscribe by Email

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…


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


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!



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.


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


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


And look at my drawer before and after Freshtape.

Before with 13 chip clips…


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


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 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.

Subscribe by Email

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


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!


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!


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.


Pin It
Subscribe by Email

Next Page »