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

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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.


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 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.

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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




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.



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



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.


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:
2)Ice – Make your own ahead if there is time!
4)Place settings/cups
5)Napkins/paper towels
6)Trash Bags
7)Bug Spray
8)Sun Screen
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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Organizing and Planning Ahead For A Trip

Be Sure To Organize Ahead Of Time For Your Travel

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


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

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

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

Plan at least two – three weeks prior to your trip

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

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

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

Plan Week Ahead

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

Couple Days Prior To Your Trip

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

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



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Ice Cream Festival

Utica’s Sertoma Ice Cream Festival

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

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

ye old mill

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

ye old mill

My video gives you the feel of it all.

The water mill works and is just pretty cool.

ye old mill

water mill

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

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

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

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

Alex opted for the shake this year.

Ice Cream Festival

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

Ice Cream Festival

Elise’s favorite is the mint chocolate chip.

Ice Cream Festival

Mine happens to be the Moose Tracks… oh yum!

Ice Cream Festival

Dave and I enjoying the day with the kids.

Ice Cream Festival

I just thought this was a cool pic of Zach.

Ice Cream Festival

More information

Utica Old Fashion Ice Cream 
Facebook pageSchedule of Events


May 25-27, 2013


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


This was first posted May 2012.

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Dealing With The Loss Of A Pet

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

Losing A Pet Is Never Easy

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


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

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


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


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

sadie and gizzy

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


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

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

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


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

sadie and john

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

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


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

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

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

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

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




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Valentine’s Day Crafts

DIY Valentine’s Day Craft Projects

Valentine’s Day is coming fast!  I wanted to find a couple DIY projects that you might enjoy.

I did some searching on the internet and found a couple things from Martha and also Disney Family Fun.

 Romantic Candle Garden

I must really like the idea of the candle’s in coffee beans because I showed you one the other day I liked from pinterest too.  But how simple would this be to do?  Grab a few of those pillar candles that you probably have in a drawer somewhere, find a neat bowl or basket, pour in some coffee beans, place your candles and wah-la.. you’re finished!

Valentine's Day

Candy Hearts and Flower Arrangement

I think this would be super easy. It might take a trip to a craft store, but just for the jar and flowers.  You could use either real or artificial flowers in this, but personally I would suggest artificial if you want to feel ok about eating the candy hearts.

How cute would this be sitting on your daughter’s bedside in the morning?

Valentine's Day


Heart finger puppets Disney

These next couple ideas came from the Disney site.  This would make a cute craft for the kids and would also make fun home made Valentine’s Cards. They could write their messages on the back of them.

Valentine's Day

Your a blast

I’ve seen a couple people who have made this project, on pinterest. They have said they use Rolo candy in the center tube to stabilize. This would also be a fun craft for the kids to make for others, or something easy to make for them.

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day Coupon Checks

I loved things like this when I was young.  You can print these coupons for the kids to fill out for Valentine’s day gifts.  Another idea if they planned to give them to parents, siblings and Grandparents would be, if you have your old checks from a closed checking account sitting around – let them use those. If they are going to close family members you wouldn’t have to be so concerned with getting personal information off before using.

DIY Valentine Coupon Checks

What kind of crafts does your family do?

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Make A Difference NBC4 School Grant – Vote for Johnstown Big Red Band Please!

February 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Donating & Causes, Family & Friends, School

Small Town Johnstown, Ohio Big Red Band Needs Your Vote!

Johnstown Big Red Band

                                                           (photo used from NBC4 Voting contest site)

The Johnstown Big Red Band was entered into a contest with our local TV station NBC Channel 4 for a chance to win $10,000 to improve/maintain our Band.  We just need YOUR VOTES!!

The Make a Difference NBC4 School Grant consist of four different categories:

Think – Academic programs
Serve- Programs where children serve
Shine- Sports, Arts & Music
Connect- Technology

Our school is in the “Shine” Category.  You would think, by looking at the above picture with over 200 students in the band, that we have a huge school. The opposite is true. Our school is a smaller school in a small town.  Most of the bands with high schools we play sports against, have bands of around 25-50 members. Then out marches our band. We call our band “The Pride of Johnstown” – and it is too!

What makes our band so special? The kids LOVE it?  It isn’t like a band, from when I was in high school. You think of just those kids who are not “jocks” in band. The “nerds” or “kids that don’t fit in”. Isn’t that sad.. that bands so often have that reputation?  But this is not how it is here. The kids WANT to be in the band. We’ve had a few football players who are actually in the band. Yes.. they march in their football uniform and preform in the half time show.

Our band is what they call a “dance band”.  They preform popular songs and get to really perform!  I found a good video on Youtube that one of the parents took.

You can see one of the cadences (dances, I call them) they do if you go into minute 3:47 of the video.

We have had our band program threatened by levies that haven’t passed. The students have to pay to be in the band, and speaking as a parent of two who have been in the band, it isn’t very cheap!!  But it is an awesome program. They have preformed at the Chic-Filet Bowl, and last year preformed at Disney World, along with a lot of local events.

Please VOTE for our Johnstown Big Red Band!  You can vote once per day until March 7th! 

If you get onto the main page, just do a search for Johnstown Big Red Band and it will bring us up. Look for the picture above on the contest entry.

You can also help if you are on twitter or Facebook by tweeting for us!!  Thanks!

Please vote for the Johnstown Big Red Band in the NBC4 Make a Difference Contest! Vote once per day until 3/7/13.

Thanks so much!!



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Awesome Photo Blanket

January 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, Holidays & Special Events

Look At The Photo Blanket My Boys Got For Me!

My four oldest boys couldn’t stand to wait until Christmas Morning to give me my gift. They were so excited to give me the photo blanket they  had made for me.

photo blanket

I couldn’t believe it. They started unfolding it, and as soon as I saw there were family pictures on it.. the tears started flowing. As I’m sitting there trying to take it in, of course one of my first reactions was to grab my camera and then my phone and take pictures of it. lol (Truly a bloggers legacy).

They worked hard to make sure this photo blanket was perfect, picking up events from the time I met Dave and beyond. They worked hard to make sure that everyone was in the same amount of pictures evenly. They originally had our serious family photo for the bottom right pictures and then decided that our “goofy” one was perfect.

This photo blanket is one of the most awesome gifts I’ve ever been given. Isn’t it great?

I’ve had several of you ask where they got this photo blanket. I’m not actually sure where they got this exact throw, but I’ve seen them in a couple different places.

Walmart has them. The one that seems the closest is a 50×60 size that is 100% cotton. It says you can have up to 30 photos on the “Photo Collage Woven Throw”.  It also looks like you can customize them with a title. It can also be washed in cold water.What it says right now on the site (1/12/13) is that you can buy one and get one free ($99 cost for one).  I have no idea how long that deal goes on, but you can check. Obviously they must do it once in a while.

Hopefully that is helpful to you. Thanks!


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English Toffee Recipe

December 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Family & Friends, Food, Holidays & Special Events

Who Doesn’t Love English Toffee?

by Amy Trauntvein

English Toffee

The holidays are right around the corner and for me that means baking and lots of it, and homemade holiday candy tops the list!  Peanut butter balls, dipped pretzels, almond joys, and caramels, clusters, turtles….  But my favorite homemade treat is my grandma’s recipe of homemade English Toffee.  For years I  just let my mom and grandma make it while I enjoyed eating it thinking it was WAY too complicated and difficult to make, but then my husband and I found ourselves moving across the country with our then 3 (now 4) children and if I wanted any of this wonderfully delicious treat at Christmas time, it was now up to me to make it.  ACK!!  I thought for sure I was going to ruin it the first time I tried, but you know what?  It really was easier than I thought and it turned out perfect!  So now I’m going to give YOU the recipe and show you how you can make and enjoy your very own English Toffee and wow your friends with your culinary smarts!  And one other awesome thing about this recipe, you don’t need a candy thermometer to make it!  Score!  Ready?  Here we go!

English Toffee

  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 lb butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup


  • 12 oz chocolate chips or good quality chocolate chopped up
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans) Purely optional.

Yes, 1 lb of butter is correct.  I never said it was light and healthy, did I? But there IS one secret to successful toffee and that is do not leave it alone.  Period.  You need stay at the stove because it must be constantly stirred and watched. If you think you can run upstairs and fold a load of laundry or go answer the phone while it cooks, before you know it, you’ve got a big burned mess.  It turns quickly and you need to be present.

First, you need to get your topping ready before you start cooking the toffee.  Chop the nuts, I used pecans for this recipe.  I chopped one cup more finely than the other for the topping.  One cup will go into the toffee (if you desire) and one cup will go on top of the toffee and chocolate.  Take one cup of nuts (the coarser chopped) and sprinkle onto an un-buttered cookie sheet

English Toffee

Chop up your chocolate and toss into a microwave safe bowl. Or if you are using chocolate chips, do nothing.  Here’s my chopped chocolate and the 5 lbs. of chocolate I buy every year to make candy.

English Toffee

My daughter wasn’t real happy about modeling it for me.  I really do go through almost all of it every Christmas making candy so it’s worth it to me to buy good quality chocolate.  No, we don’t eat it all ourselves.  I give most of my treats away to lucky recipients for the holidays!

English Toffee

Now you’re ready to start cooking!  Melt butter in a large non-stick pot on med/med high heat (do not brown).  Add sugar, water and corn syrup and mix well.

English Toffee
Bring to a rolling boil and continue stirring.  This is what is should look like.  I’m showing you so you can see the difference between the color of when it starts and and when it is finished…

English Toffee

Continue to boil while stirring until it turns the color of a brown paper bag (about 15 minutes).  See the bag and the toffee?  At this point it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Let it cook for another 2 minutes stirring constantly.

English Toffee

Take off heat and pour onto the cookie sheet.  I forgot to sprinkle mine with the nuts so I poured them over the top and pressed them into the toffee.  It still worked just fine.

English Toffee

Now for the chocolate.  If you are using chocolate chips, just pour the chips evenly onto the hot toffee and let melt.  If you are using chopped chocolate, toss into the microwave and heat in 30 second increments on high while stirring in between until melted (it took me 60 seconds total).  Pour chocolate onto (still hot)toffee.  Spread chocolate evenly and top with remaining nuts.  Let cool completely.

English Toffee

Once cooled, break into pieces, enjoy the deliciousness and bask in the glow of the compliments you will receive!

English Toffee

Thanks for joining me and I hope this tutorial had helped you get over any qualms you may have about candy making. It really is easier than you may think!  Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Love to all!  ~Amy






I have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep my young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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A Day of Remembrance

December 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Donating & Causes, Family & Friends


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Home Made Christmas Cards

December 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, DIY, Family & Friends, Holidays & Special Events

Do You Still Send Christmas Cards?

Christmas cards seem to be a dying art. I know in the last five or six years the number of cards I’ve received in the mail has dwindled down to very few. It used to be that I had them up everywhere, around doorways etc.  Now I get a small pile.

I’ve always sent out a Christmas card with our family picture on it. Yes.. I’m a letter sender too.  I know many people make fun of the Christmas letters, but I love them. Those are my favorite Christmas cards to receive.  When I get my Christmas cards out of the mailbox I, I usually know who sends the letter and I always open their cards last (save the best for last).

I love catching up with what is going on in the lives of my friends. I know that Facebook and blogs have begun to take place of sending out the cards.

I have never spent the time to sit down and make all my Christmas cards such as those that I’m going to showcase.

BHG Christmas Card

Better Homes and Garden

BHG Christmas card

Better Homes and Garden

Martha Stewart Christmas card

Martha Stewart

martha stewart handkerchief card

Martha Stewart 

I love this one. Have your child make a drawing and then take that to an office store and have them make a rubber stamp out of it.  Then create multiple cards.  You could even have them write their name with a small picture and use as a signature for your cards.

martha stewart card

Martha Stewart

What do you do for Christmas cards? Do you send them anymore? Do you take family pictures, or write letters?  Have you joined the multitudes of those that don’t send them anymore?

I might be joining that group myself this year. We didn’t end up getting together for our family picture this year at Thanksgiving that we normally do, so I’m not sure if I’ll get cards out this year or not.

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Ride the North Pole Express Train!

We Loved The North Pole Express Train Ride!

We ventured down to Nelsonville, Ohio on Saturday evening Dec, 4th, 2010 to ride on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, on the North Pole Express train ride.  The setting was perfect, a nice peaceful snowy night.

north pole express

It was about an hour and half ride for us from the Columbus area, so Dave, the triplets and I  left plenty early since it was snowing. We figured we would have time to go into Rocky’s and shop around and eat dinner before the train left at 7pm. We arrived around 5pm and found out we didn’t have as much spare time as we thought.

north pole express

I wanted to get pictures while it was still light out, and then was also given a tour by Bob of the train before everyone got on.

north pole express

There were so many cars… I am thinking 10. Several of them were so similar that you wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart other than decorations were different colors. There was one up front that had a pot belly stove going, another one (that we sat in) that had higher back seats. The one the kids thought looked the coolest was the double decker train car. Bob was explaining a lot of the history to me. How most of these cars were used in Chicago.

We went over to Rocky’s, but evidently there were a lot of other people who had the same idea as us… so we went to eat at McDonald’s. We were told it would be a good idea to get back close to 6pm if we wanted to get a good seat on the train. The ride was sold out! There were 537 people on board. We did get back at 6pm and the kids had gotten their PJ’s and robes on.

Before the train started at 7pm, I went through a few of the other cars to get pictures. I asked parents before I took and pictures of their children. Here are a few of my favorites:

north pole express

This little girl was so darling, I just couldn’t get enough of her.  I think I could have snapped pictures all night of her. She just seemed to me to be the poster child for The Polar Express, or as our ride was called… The North Pole Express.

north pole express

They started serving the hot chocolate and cookies soon after we left. I felt bad for the hot chocolate man…. he needed a much bigger pitcher for it, or someone to bring him refills. He would only get a few rows filled and then would have to run a few train cars back to refill the pitcher.

We called the cookie man…the cookie elf. He had a cute hat on and followed behind the hot chocolate man. He also had some extras….so came back through a few times (oh darn…. we had to have more than 1 cookie!)

north pole express

They passed out bells for all the kids….but us adults couldn’t hear them ring. I don’t get it?  LOL

We had the Hobo come through and tell everyone not to tell the conductor where he was. He came back through double checking with the kids to make sure they hadn’t told. Mine thought that was hysterical, they were telling him that they did tell on him.

north pole express

After we got back from our ride, we could go across the street. At the Nelsonville Commons Park they had an ice skating rink set up. They told us skate rental was free with our train ticket so the kids decided to go skating. (hint…grab their gloves out of the car before you head across the street). Here they are skating in their pajamas having a great time… was on the other hand loved standing by the fire can….warming up! lol


north pole express

You can check  Hocking Valley Scenic Railway for times and dates. You can also find them on Twitter at @hvscenicrailway and Facebook

One thing I would suggest if you have little ones. Send someone on the train to get your seats and hold them for you. Keep the little ones off the train until closer to the departure time. After they have already been on the train for an hour, then the hour and half train ride gets to be a little too much for some of them. On the way back the natives were a bit restless. (But keep in mind this was at night and they couldn’t see the sites outside. During the day you might not have as much of that).

north pole express

Disclosure: I was given the tickets for my family and myself to ride the North Pole Express.  But the pictures, video and opinions are completely my own.

This post was originally posted on my Explore Ohio with Sandy site.

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Loved the Daisy Outdoor Tour!

Love The Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun?

You’ll be jealous then, because I got to tour the plant and build one myself!  I love being able to see how things are made. I think it’s so interesting!  Daisy Outdoor is a client of Collective Bias and when I was at our corporate office this last week in Bentonville, AR, Kim Janocko and I had the chance to go on a tour. We both were thrilled.

daisy outdoor

This was in the lobby of their offices. I thought it looked cool.  I also found out how Daisy got it’s name. You can find this info on the Daisy Outdoor site, under “History” 

“On March 6, 1888, Hamilton approached the windmill company with an all-metal airgun of his own design. He chose to take it to the windmill company because they had blast furnaces and they were equipped to mold and stamp the metal parts necessary to build his gun. The gun was passed around to members of the board. General Manager L.C. Hough test fired the gun and exclaimed, “Boy, that’s a Daisy.” ‘”It’s a Daisy” was a colloquialism of the time.) So the little gun was named Daisy.”


We went back in their warehouse where they assemble all the guns.  This space is 80,000 sq feet (I think he said) If that isn’t correct, I just know the place is huge! lol

daisy outdoor

The parts to the guns aren’t made here, they are shipped in pieces and the guns are assembled in this space.


There are many stations that are used to assemble the guns.  They can put one of the guns together in less than one minute.  They said they move their employees around to different assignments to prevent work related injuries like carpel tunnel syndrome.

bb gun

We loved the barrels full of BB’s!  They were just plain fun.


Jon was in his happy place in these barrel of bb’s. lol  They do feel really cool when you put your hands in them.

jon lemire

We learned that there are 2.4 million BB’s in a 55 gallon barrel. I know I sure wouldn’t try to lift a barrel either! Wow… 2,200 lbs!

Daisy Outdoor makes practice BB guns for the military. Who knew? They are the exact weight, feel and action of the real guns.

daisy outdoor

They also make BB guns for competition shooting.

bb guns

This was something I was totally shocked over.  I had no idea they made BB guns that look and feel just like the real thing. This pist0l is made for Winchester. It’s just like the Colt 1911 handgun.  It is heavy, and looks just like the real thing. I texted a picture of this to my husband and he knew which gun it was designed from immediately.

colt 1911 BB gun

We learned that Daisy Outdoor utilizes the help of some Special Needs adults to help pack BB’s. I love when I hear of a company that helps out this group of adults. They do a great job and love being able to have a job to earn money and give their lives a sense of purpose. Kudos to you Daisy!

Cool huh? I’m not sure what model of pistal this is.

daisy outdoor

Here is the Powerline 880 kit. They said this is their best seller.  I can see why. It’s larger than their Red Ryder gun, but still a reasonable size for a young adult. I’m thinking it might make a great gift for the triplets for Christmas.

daisy outdoor

I learned that they do a lot of quality testing of their guns.  They shoot a gun from each batch 10,000 times to check their products.

One of the things that is a necessity is to always wear eye protection when shooting. After all, you wouldn’t want to “shoot your eye out” or anything!


Kim and I went back the next day so that we could make our own Red Ryder BB gun. Paula was kind enough to guide us through making one. I’m amazed that she is able to make one of these in less than 1 minute. I think it took me about 8 or 9 minutes to do mine.

daisy outdoor

Each piece is put into place.

red ryder

The screw guns are cool. You just put them into the screw and put a little pressure down on them and they work fast… really fast!


Here is my finished product.  They made an engraved forearm for us. Mine said “The Jenney Family”. How cool is that? The triplets will be so excited!  Since we were flying home, we had to ship the guns. We couldn’t put them in our luggage, even though we were checking the luggage.

sandy jenney at daisy outdoor

I decided I wanted to guy Dave one of the Winchester 1911 pistols.  I was told that I could find them at a local sporting goods store called Academy Sports, so Kim and I went that evening to check it out. We found a big assortment of Daisy Outdoor products.


I found the BB gun I wanted to buy Dave. It was $89.00.  If you think about it, it is a great way to save money in ammunition. Right now ammunition is really expensive and actually hard to find. So this will be a wonderful way for him to get some target practice in.

colt 1911

What I also like about it is that he will be able to set up a target in our back yard. He is very safety conscious (thank goodness) and has taught gun safety before.  He knows that he’ll have to find a place that he won’t have to worry about what is behind the target.

daisy outdoor

The gun was heavy enough that I decided not to buy it at the store and ship it home. I asked someone at the store about being able to buy it online and if he knew what shipping prices were like. He said it would be a much better deal for me to buy it online. That their shipping was either free or just $5.00.  Cool!

As soon as we got back that evening, I got online and purchased this gun and a large container full of BB’s for Dave for Christmas! (shhhh!)  I am going to talk to him to have him help me decide which gun we’ll get the triplets for Christmas!

Thanks Daisy Outdoor for the tour! I had a blast. I also thank you so much for the Red Ryder gun that you had engraved and let me build for my family.

I am an employee of Collective Bias and Daisy Outdoor is a client of Collective Bias.  I was not asked or expected to do a post, I just wanted to share my experience and excitement for the Daisy Outdoor products.






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Ideas For Thanksgiving Place Holders

Make Your Own Thanksgiving Place Holders

There are SO many cute ideas on the web! I found a zillion, and I wanted to share a few with you. Place holders are a great way to organize your Thanksgiving Day table.  There are no guesses as to where people will sit. Bringing family together can sometimes have some of it’s own rewards and issues with it.  There are times that it’s just much easier to figure out ahead of time where people should sit.

thanksgiving place holders

Martha Stewart 

martha stewart place card

What a simple neat idea this is. You really could use any kind of fruit for something like this.  Or a little pumpkin! I saw the same idea with a pear too, while I was looking for neat ideas to show you.

thanksgiving place cardReal Simple

thanksgiving place holders

Martha Stewart

thanksgiving place holder

Martha Stewart

thanksgiving place holder


thanksgiving place holders


I have several more ideas on my pinterest board. There are so many cute ideas that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. The beauty of pinterest is that we can pin them there and save them!  People can be so creative! Most of these you will need to be sure you plan ahead for. Know which guests are coming so that you can be prepared.

thanksgiving place holders

Sandy’s Thanksgiving Pinterest Board

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