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!

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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!

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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

 

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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.

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

Walmart Family Fun Day #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

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Walmart Family Fun Day #GOWalmart #WMT2774 #shop

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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Ricart Auto Mall Blogger Event

A Fun Visit at Ricart Columbus Auto Mall

By Amy Trauntvein

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

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

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

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

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

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

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

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

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

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

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

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

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

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

Ricart Auto Blogger Event

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

I liked this one particularly well…

Ricart Automotive

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

Ricart Automotive

 

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

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

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

Love To All! ~Amy

 

 

 

 

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

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Great Stay and Awesome Calamari at Sawmill Creek Resort

We Had An Enjoyable Stay At Sawmill Creek Resort

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

sawmill creek resort

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

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

Sawmill Creek Resort

resort

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

sawmill creek resort

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

sawmill creek resort

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

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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.

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

mariners restaurant

 

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

Mariner's Restuarant

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

calamari

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

seared duck

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Put -in-Bay

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

Miller Boat Line

 

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

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

Millers ferry

 

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

bike rental

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

Goat Soup & Whisky Tavern

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

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

the keys

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

Board Walk Put in Bay

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

Put in bay

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

put in bay

put in bay

newfie pirate

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

Put in bay

put in bay

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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.

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butterfly

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

perrys cave

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

PIB putt putt

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

put in bay

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

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

golf carts on Put in bay

 

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

@Put_in_Bay
@MillerBoatLine
@ShoresIslandsOH
@DiscoverOhio

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

 

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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.

plane

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

Dates

May 25-27, 2013

Location

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

 

This was first posted May 2012.

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Loved Mariano’s in Chicago

Wish We Had A Mariano’s In Columbus!

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

marianos

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

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

Marianos

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

marianos bread

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

marianos

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

marianos

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

bakery

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

grill

polish sausage

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

international aisle

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

bob marianos

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

flower department

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

marianos sushi bar

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

marianos sushi

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

consumerqueen

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

vivian king

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

marianos 20

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

marianos 19

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

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

 

 

 

 

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The SXSW Experience

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

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

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

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

sxsw

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

jambulance

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

sxsw

sxsw 22

south by

sxsw

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

consumer queen

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

Brad lawless

Brad Lawless

Our CEO Co/Founder, John Andrews

John Andrews

john andrews

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

ted rubin

ted rubin

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

cb party

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

courtney melissa sandy

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

christine and melissa

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

cb party

Yes, I had fun taking pictures of the cupcakes.

cupcake

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

taco

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

courtney velasquez

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

awkward stretch

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

sxsw

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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.”

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.

daisy

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.

bb's

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!

eyewear

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!

daisy

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.

daisy

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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Collective Bias Company Retreat #cbias

Great Collective Bias Retreat In Branson

This was my first trip to Branson, Missouri – what a fun location for our Collective Bias company retreat. I flew into Bentonville, AR and spent a couple days in our offices, before we all drove to Branson together. Thanks Jon Lemire for being the chauffeur to a truck full of woman, what a trooper!

Collective Bias

We had a few fun surprises waiting for us.  Our first evening there, we were treated to the Dixie Stampede Production.

Dixie Stampede

We weren’t allowed to get pictures inside.. which was a real bummer, because there would have been some awesome ones.

dixie stampede

Monica Johnson @MonicaJohnson and Melissa Garcia from ConsumerQueen.com were waiting to go in.

collective bias

Wouldn’t this be a fun dress to wear? lol… I’d love it.

dixie stampede

I had a great evening with everyone, and you can’t imagine how much food they served us! I was extremely full!  There is no silverware! You had to eat it all with your fingers, including soup (the bowl has a handle to drink from)! I have to admit, that made it a lot of fun.

The next day was a day of meetings.  We were all together and I thought it was time well spent.  We heard from each department on what they did and what their visions were for the coming year.

John Andrews from Collective Bias, started us off on the right foot.. an emotional and heart felt one.

john andrews

I got to meet some of the team that I’d not yet be able to meet. Kristen Brown who is running our newly established Minnesota office was someone I hadn’t had a chance to meet yet. Can’t wait to spend more time with her.

kristen brown

We had some great laughs from the Production team.

collective bias

They did some skits from a “Day in the Life of an Account Executive”

collective bias

collective bias

branson

collective bias

While John is capturing it on his ipad

john andrews

collective bias

We took some photos of how Collective Bias has grown from the the beginning with Amy Callahan, Brad Lawless, John Andrews and Jay Thornton (on the screen) in 2009

collective bias 2009

To the growth in 2010

collective bias 2010

To 2011 (Yay.. the year I came on)

collective bias 2011

To the current group in 2012.

collective bias 2012

The pictures were a spur of the moment idea, and clearly my camera was not set up for the lighting in this room. I’ve told them… I’m no professional photographer. lol

There were “Awards” given. Amy Callahan presenting Mailena Urso her award.

collective bias

The Dev team also won an award. lol.. You just never know with Collective Bias!

dev team

We got to rock our new Collective Bias t-shirts around Branson.

collective bias

branson

A group of us went to dinner together and had a great meal, by the water.

dinner

We were able to go to see a Live version of the Price Is Right show that evening if we’d like. There was a big group of us that did go.. and had a great time. None of us were called to “COME ON DOWN”.  Bum! We were all so psyched and ready to go!

The next morning we were all busy connecting with our Social Fabric members.

branson

Our SoFab community is the heart and soul of Collective Bias, and we wanted to thank them and give them some support.

collective bias

 

courtney rix

 

mama bzz

 

randi and brad

jerra

 

collective bias

Yes.. I was there too.

sandy jenney

Here are a few other fun shots from the retreat.  Kim Janocko Crafty Mama of 4

kim janocko

Mel Lockcuff from Mama Buzz

mamabuzz

And of course… I couldn’t forget the awkward stretching pics!

collective bias

 

joan

Great Retreat Collective Bias!

branson

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Pigeon Roost Farm Visit 2012

Pigeon Roost Farm Is The Bomb!

We discovered Pigeon Roost Pumpkin Farm in Hebron, Ohio last year and loved it. I shared the post from last year, just a couple weeks ago.  I wanted to give you all another blast from this year.

pigeon roost

One of the things I love about Pigeon Roost is that the prices are really reasonable. There is not cost to part, no cost to get into and shop the upper area, get great pictures and enjoy the atmosphere. If you want to go into the lower part of the farm and do all the activities, it’s only $5 per person. Considering another local pumpkin farm charges $8 per person for just the corn maze, I think this is quite a deal.

I’m going to share the pictures with you…. they pretty much tell the story!

pumpkin tree

 

pigeon roost

 

triplets

 

sandy and elise

 

slide race

 

slide

 

turkies

 

goat

 

chicken shack

 

triplets

 

pigeon roost

This is the kids favorite activity. They call it the hamster wheels.

hamster wheel

Dave decided he would try it out too…. Elise won. LOL

pigeon roost

 

hamster wheel

This was the rubber ducky race.

duck race

 

rubber ducky

 

basketball

 

triplets

 

triplets

 

tee pee

 

corn maze

 

pigeon roost

 

triplets

 

pumpkin

 

pigeon roost

 

triplets

 

Pigeon Roost Farm is in Hebron, Ohio.  This is not a sponsored post, I just want my readers to know about this awesome place here in Ohio.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pigeon Roost Farm for Halloween Fun

Pumpkins and Halloween Fun at Pigeon Roost Farm

We discovered Pigeon Roost Farm in Hebron, Ohio to go for our pumpkins and fun for halloween.  For years we have gone to Lynd’s Fruit Farm, and it is a great place to go if you want to pick apples or pick pumpkins right from the field. But it is very on/off with the other activities they have for the kids. Some years it is good, others there is not much there and a big disappointment.

Instead of trying it this year we decided to look for some place new.

pigeon roostI did an internet search and found Pigeon Roost Farm.  We decided to give it a go.  Mapquest sent us the wrong way, so be careful there.  It is between Kirkersville and Hebron Ohio (about 2 miles east of Kirkersville on route 40).  Much close to Kirkersville.

It was impressive just driving past, you could tell from the road there was a lot happening, and most of it you can’t even see from the road.

pigeon roost

If you live within an hour of it, I would highly suggest you check it out.  It is only $5 per person to go do all the activities including the corn maze, a mini corn maze, the Enchanted Forest, the Gerbil wheels and much more!

pigeon roost

 

pigeon roost

pigeon roost

pigeon roost

Pigeon Roost Farm
4413 National Road SW
Hebron, OH 43025
info@pigeonroostfarm.com
740-928-4925

 

Originally posted October 16th, 2011 on my Explore Ohio blog

We were not invited, given free passes, nor given any form of compensation for this post. We found it on our own, loved it and I wanted to share it with my readers.
No use of my video or pictures without my permission. Thanks

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10 Travel Tips To Help Dad When Mom Travels

Here Are A Few Travel Tips To Help Your Home Run Smoother While Your Away

As bloggers, many of us are now traveling to conferences and events frequently. I’ve heard several moms who need some travel tips to help their husbands have an easier time while they are gone. I use the term “husband” or “dad” throughout this post. It might be that the caregiver is your mom, or a sitter, relative etc. This is all applicable. So know that “husband” is interchangeable for whatever your circumstance might be.

travel tipsI wanted to share a few tips that seem to help my home run smoother while I’m away. I have to admit that my husband is pretty self sufficient while I’m gone, so I don’t have the issues that I’ve heard some moms have. (I say that and knock on some wood because I am traveling as this is posted). The kids I still have at home are also very self sufficient (11 year old triplets) and know our routine.

Several of these ideas take some preparation prior to your trip. Even though we are often stressed trying to get ourselves ready and it’s not much fun to do some extra work before we leave, it can often help things run smoother.  Keep in mind, if things aren’t too bad while we are gone, then going the next time isn’t going to be such a big deal.. right?

10 Travel Tips to help your home run smoother while you are gone.

1) Clean your home right before you leave.

If things are in order before you leave, then it might not seem as over whelming to your spouse. If the house is already a mess, then he will feel the pressure of cleaning too.

2) Pre-plan meals

Depending on your husband, and his level of expertise in the kitchen (or lack there of) have meals prepared ahead of time. Either frozen (with directions telling him when to pull them out to thaw) or in the refrigerator.  Label the meals and have a guide prepared with directions of how to heat them up.

3) Prepare lunches ahead of time.

You can even pre-pack the lunches if you have room in your refrigerator for that. Make sure you have purchased plenty of lunch supplies before you leave.

4) Have all the laundry washed and put away

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of my husband in the laundry room. He likes to “help”. Which in turn, means I have to rewash clothes that I’m not sure are clean or dirty. He tends to let clothes sit in the washer over night (and sometimes a couple days!) and you all know the sour smell that develops when you do that. So I generally re-wash anything that he has “helped” me with, once I get home.

5) Leave a detailed itinerary of the kids activities, sports practices and directions if necessary.

6) Leave a list of phone numbers, Doctors, Dentist, neighbors, car pool, babysitter, school etc.

7) Leave a list of the routine the kids are used to (if Dad,  doesn’t know)

8) Leave your itinerary and schedule of your events.

Husbands like to talk to us, and as busy as some of these conferences or events can be, they are already feeling left out (if any of you have had your husbands travel… you might know the feeling well yourself. My ex husband traveled a LOT and I relate very well when I hear one of my blogging friends say their husband is “needy” when they are gone). Both of you get skype and plan times that you know you’ll be at your computer and can skype with him and the kids.

9) Have a back up plan in place.

In case one of the kids gets sick, school is cancelled due to weather etc, someone misses a bus.Leave instructions with Dad and the kids as to what will happen or who will take care of the kids in these situations.

10) By all means… make sure the soccer socks are clean and laid out.

Quick story: On one of our trips to Vegas, where we were two hours earlier than home – Kim @CraftyMamaof4 hubby called her about 6:00 in the morning. Her husband and son were in a panic because they couldn’t find a soccer sock for his practice that day. We (@ZipporahS) were cracking up because she was so embarrassed that he woke up all of us calling that early over a soccer sock.  Moral of the story – make sure every piece and part to every thing you can imagine is clean, laid out, prepared, written down and posted before you leave.

More work on us? Yes… a lot! But the benefit would be not getting awakened at 6am with a frustrated husband looking for a soccer sock.

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The Look of Autumn

September 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Attractions to See, Blog, Family & Friends, Travel

When you think of Autumn what do you think of?

Living in Ohio the air gets cooler and crisp and all the colors of Autumn start emerging.  We haven’t really started getting leaves changing colors yet, but there are other sites and colors that we are seeing now.

With the cooler weather just starting to set in, it made me look back to this post that I first posted last year on September 22.

autumnOn the way to our farm today we stopped by a local orchard and it really put me in the mood for fall.

We didn’t go apple picking (not time today) but there sure are orchards near by us to do so if we wanted to.

autumn

autumnMums, pumpkins, and apples…

autumn Pumpkins.. and more pumpkins

autumn

Pears – we bought some of these, they are so sweet and juice!

autumnTheir peaches are awesome, but we didn’t get any on this trip.

peachesDon’t you think of corn for the fall?  You know, indian corn to decorate with and corn stalks?

corn

I never used to appreciate fall, but I have come to love it.  My husband really loves it.  He isn’t a fan of the heat…. so as soon as the cooler weather comes in, he is one happy camper.

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Ziploc Storage idea for Guest Bedding

Ziploc Has An Easy Way To Store Entire Bedding Sets

I found Ziploc totes are an easy way to store guest bedding all together in one nice neat package. I  now have five sons who live out of the house, but come back to visit often.  Since we don’t have a large home, we have air mattresses and futons they usually sleep on.  Each time they come, I have to go to several different places to get a clean pillow, sheets and blankets.

I decided I wanted to figure out a system, so that I could have them all together in one place. I was going to get clear plastic trash bags, but  I decided to try the Ziploc Extra Large Storage Totes I have seen in the stores, instead. I purchased (this is review I’m doing, I wasn’t asked to do via the Brand and the products were not given to me) several of the 22 gallon bags.  I bought one at Krogers for $5.99 on sale.  I realized they were going to work and wanted to get a few more.  I saw them later that day at Target for $7.49 or $7.99 (I forget which), but they weren’t on sale at the time. I went back to Kroger to buy a few more.  My guess is that there might also be coupons out there for them, but I didn’t have one.

ziploc

This is a more expensive option than buying clear plastic bags, but I like that they have zippers and that there is a defined shape to it.  The plastic seems pretty heavy duty… so I’m assuming they were last for awhile. (At least I hope)

I placed a pillow, twin set of sheets, blanket and a comforter in this bag.  I’m sure I could have done a little maneuvering, maybe rolling the sheets or making them all Martha Stewart like in how I folded them… to make this look a bit neater.  lol  But I was so excited it all fit!!

ziploc

My next step was to label each bag with the size of the bedding and contents.  Again… you could make a darling label for these for display, but obviously I didn’t.  Mine are going into a metal cabinet in the basement.

ziploc

The plan is to give each of the boys a bedding set when they come to visit.  They will bring up the dirty bedding to me when they get ready to leave, along with the plastic bag.  At that point I can wash the bedding and place it right back into the proper plastic bag, so they will be ready for the next time they visit.

Of course these bags can be used for many other storage needs than this, but this solved one of my storage issues and I was excited enough about them to share it with you!

Let me know how you store your bedding for guests.

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