America’s Best Road Trips

This post is brought to you by SheridanFordSales.com

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned road trip with your windows cranked down and the music cranked up.  What better way is there the see the beautiful United States of America (excluding a flight to Hawaii of course!)?  Now that that’s settled all that’s left to do is take off work, pick where to go, and head out on that open road.  To help you choose I’m listing a handful of America’s Best Road Trips!

Grand Canyon

  •  –  The Grand Canyon, Arizona.  Ever since the Brady’s visited there on TV Land I’ve wanted to visit. I’ll just make sure not to get lost like Bobby and Cindy did.

Amish Country

  • –  The Amish Country, Homes, OH.  If you’re wanting to get off the grid for a while and enjoy life a the slower place this is a great place to visit.  Their food is delicious and their craftsmanship is to be admired.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

  • –  The Blue Ridge Parkway which stretches 469 miles along the Appalachian Mountains and connects two national parks, North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains and Virginia’s Shenandoah.

Overseas Highway

  • –  Key West, Florida by way of U.S. Route 1 or better known as the Overseas Highway.  This is a gorgeous stretch of road that I would love to visit some day!

Maine's Coastline

  • –  Maine. I would love to visit Maine in the fall but I hear Maine’s coastline is lovely all year long.  There would be plenty of fun spotting light houses and enjoying fresh lobster.

Red Rock Scenic Byway

  • –  Red Rock Scenic Byway, starts at Sedona, Arizona.  This 7.5 mile stretch is a beauty!

Route 66

  • –  Route 66, Illinois to California.  Go get your kicks on Route 66.

Million Dollar Highway

  • –  Million Dollar Highway, Silverton to Ouray, Colorado.  This section of U.S. Highway 550 reaches more than two miles above sea level as it weaves its way between two historic gold-mining towns. It’s breath-taking because of the view and the altitude.

I know I’ve had to have left off some superior destinations because our country is so vast and beautiful! Please let me know what else I should have included in the comments below!

Make Over Your Mornings – On Sale!

This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve spoke before about how Crystal’s Make Over Your Mornings program was very beneficial to me.  Life changing even.  Her Make Over Your Evenings was also very, very helpful.  Well, right now through August 15th there is a tremendous sale on both of these and I just had to share.

You can snag Make Over Your Mornings for just $10!!
Her companion course of Make Over Your Evenings is also on sale for just $10
OR purchase BOTH courses for just $17!!! (That makes each course 50% OFF)!

If you’re running on that hamster wheel of exhaustion, slow down and savor this course because it can revolutionize your life.  That sounds like an enormous, unattainable claim but the topics she covers really, truly helps you prioritize your life and what matters to your family.  Once you have your priorities laid out you can arrange the rest of your day around them.  Plus, she shares a lot of practical tips that are very helpful too!

 

Sandwich Sushi for Kids

This post and giveaway were made possible by iConnect and Buddig. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Buddig Giveaway

Over the summer I’ve tried a lot of creative lunches for my kids and I’ve shared a few of them with you already here and here.  Today’s idea incorporates one of my kid’s favorite food items…the tortilla.  I love tortilla as much as the next person but my kids have a unhealthy fascination with this bread product.  They would eat it as a snack all day long if I let them.  Just this morning I caught my daughter sneaking a tortilla from the fridge this morning to eat with her breakfast. (Who does that? lol)

Not only does this lunch include their favorite things tortilla, Buddig Premium Deli meat, blueberries, Craisins, and peanuts but it’s also fabulous because the kids can make their own lunch themselves!  My kids still need a little supervision, especially with the cutting part, but it’s exciting to watch them make their own creations.  I’ve watched this time and time again, when my daughter helps prepare a meal she seems to takes ownership of it and will eat it better than if I prepared it myself.

This creation is a smiley face.  The sandwich sushi rolls are the eyes and nose.  The blueberries and Craisins make up the smile.  The peanuts make the hair.
Sandwich Sushi

Check out our amateur stop action how to video:

A video posted by Ashley (@embracingbeauty) on

Totally doable and fun, right?  Spinach leaves or lettuce could easily be added as ears.  Ranch dressing could be earrings.  The sky is the limit!

Summer of Smiles:

Buddig not only makes great tasting and affordable lunch meat but they’re offering a fun contest this summer.  The summer of smiles! 🙂  There are so many reasons this time of year that make us smile – warm weather, sunny days, picnic lunches, family vacations & more.  Consumers are asked to post a picture of their family enjoying summer and flashing their biggest smiles on Facebook using the #BuddigSmiles.

Every week from June 16 – August 18 Buddig will randomly select 12 entries to receive a $25 American Express gift card – that’s 108 total winners and a whole lot of smiles! 🙂

5 Tips to Make a Used Car Look New

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Chevy.

Tips to Make a Used Car Look New

So you picked out that perfect used car. It’s the one that ran well, had less miles, and you hate to admit it, but the biggest reason you chose it over the one at the other dealer is because it was prettier. Follow these five tips for keeping your used car looking new, so your car keeps being as pretty as the day you picked it out.

1. Wash the car often throughout winter, and even more often if you live near salt water. This helps prevent rust caused by salt on the roads and in the air. Be sure to get an undercarriage wash in winter, since most of the damaging salt will be under your vehicle.

2. Wax your car to give it a nice clean shine. The wax will also prevent dirt buildup, and even protect from salt damage. I suggest going even further and applying a window treatment like Rain X as well. The windows will be less likely to fog or ice up, and rain and snow will slide right off.

3. Clean your headlights. There are numerous tips and tricks online for clearing up your headlight lenses, but a store bought kit is best. A kit will contain not only what you need to clean and clear the lenses, but also treatments to preserve and protect them from weather and UV damage so they don’t cloud up again in a month.

4. Keep plastic bags in the car. Their uses are endless – keep your trash tidy, collect your things when heading in the house, put wet clothes from the beach or gym in them – all help keep your car sparkling clean. With all the work we do outside and around the house, bags get the most use as shoe covers when dirty or muddy feet have to ride in a clean car.

5. It would be a shame if you did all that hard work, only for the elements to wear down your car’s appearance anyway. To protect your car’s looks, park in a covered or shady area as often as possible. Don’t park under trees for long periods of time or you’ll have wet leaves and tree sap sitting on the paint. Parking in the shade of a building or in a garage will even protect your interior materials from the sun. If you don’t have access to a garage, tint your windows within the legal limits of your state and use a sun visor for the windshield. This will keep the fabric, leather, and plastic inside the car from breaking down, cracking, or fading.

These simple protective measures will keep any used car looking like new for years to come. Do you have any easy tricks for keeping your car sparkling and fresh?

How to Throw the Ultimate Tiki Party

This post is sponsored by Wayfair.
Tiki Party

Summer is here and summer nights practically beg for a party, right?  Summer music playing, fresh squeezed lemonade, a giant inflatable pineapple floating in the pool, and kids running around in hula skirts.  I can picture it now!

Here are some ideas for creating some fun summer memories with The Ultimate Tiki Party!  Click on the pictures below to be taken to the product detail page on Wayfair.com.

Family Summer Bucket List

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® and OFF! ® . The opinions and text are all mine.

Now that the kiddos are home from school on summer vacation, I’m sure you’re racking your brain and surfing Pinterest to try and think of new activities to do with them. This is both good for your sanity and their development. 🙂 Even though we homeschool I want to be intentional about summer so we can enjoy it to it’s fullest. I have waxed on and on about how wonderful summer is and how most of my childhood memories are from summer vacations so I won’t belabor that here but I have a fun family summer bucket list to share with you.

To keep things fun and exciting here’s our personal summer bucket list. It has 16 different activities so we can pick one big activity to do each week and some of the little ones we can do multiple times. There are even a few of these ideas that will be perfect for rainy or those unbelievably hot days.

Family Summer Bucket List

As many of you know we just moved into a new house and a lot of things are different here. Good but different.

Schwinn Girl's Bike

For instance we have to drive our bikes to the bottom of our incredibly steep driveway before we can go riding.

Pond

We also have a pond out in front of our house so now have the opportunity to teach our kids how to fish. I’m excited about that!! In the picture above you can probably spot the crane but do you see the squirrel too? He was actually laying in the road when I drove by and hopped up and ran away when I came up. I guess even squirrels enjoy basking in the sun!

Tree Swing

We live in the woods now so we don’t have a yard (yet, we will have some grass by next year if we can help it!). That means we can’t play ball as easily outdoors as we did last year but now we have a really great tree swing!

Having a pool will be a little more challenging as we try and pad the concrete so we don’t make a hole in the bottom.

Banana Boat

No matter how many things have changed, there is one thing that has remained a constant for us and our kids – SUNSCREEN. It’s not only a must for our own outdoor safety but that goes double for our kids. Banana Boat® always has our family covered and their new SunComfort™ sunscreen is supposed to help sand brush off easily – I love that feature and hope we get to go to the beach sometime to test it out! It moisturizes, is water resistant for 80 minutes, and is available in SPF 30 and 50. No matter what, Banana Boat® SunComfort™ has us covered for gardening, hiking, or any backyard adventures we undertake.

Insect repellent is as equally as important for summer outdoor play. Especially with us living by a pond now I want to be extra cautious about bug bites and the nasty things they carry so we frequently spray each other down with OFF! Active®. We always spray it on our own hands first before applying it to our kids and we make sure to wash the skin exposed to the spray with soap and water when we come indoors.

To help us remember to apply the proper protection before leaving the house we have a basket that we have sitting by the front door of our house. Now when we go to put our shoes on we’ll always be reminded to protect ourselves against the sun and mosquitoes. If you want to make a little basket like this of your own you can find all the items including the basket itself at Walmart.

Summer Must Haves

Sunscreen? – Check!, Insect repellent? – Check!, fun water bottle? – Check!, bubbles that my son insists on having anytime he’s outdoors? – Check!

What do you have planned for this summer? I’d love to hear your ideas and add to my ever growing to-do list.

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6 Ways to Prepare Your Used Car for Winter

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Subaru.  

6 Ways To Prep Your Used Car for Winter

It’s that time of year now, where just when you think it can’t get any hotter, the next month is hotter yet.  With all this heat, followed closely by back to school excitement, sports and extracurricular activities, and countless holidays, it’s easy to forget the cold season ahead.  Make sure you’re prepared for the first cold bursts ahead of time with these 6 ways to get your used car ready for winter.

– Keep a cold weather kit in the car.  Hand warmers, a scarf, warm hat and gloves will all be needed if you have to change a tire in winter.  Blankets will help the whole family if you’re stuck on the roadside a while.  Sand or ice melt will help you get out of a slippery situation, and make sure there are jumper cables in there in case your battery gives out from the cold.

– Speaking of the battery, have the battery and oil checked and replaced if necessary.  A battery on the brink of death will not last through winter, and a freezing day is not the time to be stranded in a parking lot with no power.  Old and dirty oil can thicken and prove harmful when it’s cold,

– Windshield washing fluid is a necessity at all times of the year.  In the winter months, you’ll need a fluid that will not freeze.  While you’re at it, get a fluid that acts as a de-icer to help clear your windshield in the morning.

– Wax and wash your car before the ice begins to form on roadways.  This will help protect against the elements as well as the salt that will cover the roadways.  Wash your car regularly after snow storms or periods of ice, and be sure to get an undercarriage wash.  Keeping the salt off will prevent rust and extend the life of your car.

– A preowned car means someone else cared for it before you.  Have moving parts, such as bearings and joints, inspected before winter.  A good starting point would be to check the parts that should have been serviced by the current mileage per the manufacturer’s suggestions in the book.  Moving parts need lubrication to prevent wear, and cold weather is hard on these parts.

– Changes in temperature cause condensation.  Condensation in gas lines is a bad thing.  Make sure to keep your car half full or more at all times.  A low gas tank can allow condensation in the lines, and introduce water in the engine.  A low gas tank will also leave you without heat if you happen to be stuck on the side of the road in the cold.

6 Things to Watch Out for When Buying a Used Car

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Jaguar.

Things to Watch Out For When Buying a Used Car

When shopping for a pre owned vehicle, it’s easy to get swept up in that “new car fever” and forget to ask the important questions. But someone else has driven that car, and you don’t know where it’s been or what it’s been through. Don’t let that dissuade you, though! Six simple tips will get you through the process with a car you can trust, whether you’re buying certified pre-owned or from the classifieds.

1. A car listing that exclaims things like “brand new radiator” and “just had a front end alignment,” or a laundry list of recent improvements, should be a red flag. It’s possible the owners were simply upgrading their car, and then decided on an alternative. It’s also possible the car was in a collision that required replacement and repair of parts. Don’t run away just yet, but ask about the car’s history or order a history report online.

2. Postings that “need love” or “with a little TLC it could be a great vehicle” mean something needs fixing. Be diligent to find out as much as possible about what needs repaired, and make sure that when the repairs are added to the purchase price, the vehicle still falls within your acceptable budget.

3. Trust your instincts. If the car doesn’t feel right, seems a bit rough, makes a strange sound when turning, or anything you are unsure of, ask questions. When you ask a question, make sure to get an answer. A seller who only replies with “that’s normal” or “oh all of the models from that year do it,” but won’t explain the reason why, is hiding something from you. A trustworthy salesman will do his best to explain and fully answer any of your questions.

4. Take the care for a test drive even if you’re in a hurry, on a budget, and this car is the only one available now that you can afford. Don’t trust the vehicle to be running great just because a stranger said so over the phone. Don’t let yourself be surprised after your purchase. Make sure you drive the vehicle on a fast road, a slow road, around some turns. Pull in and out of parking spots to test slow, sharp turns, and test the brakes in an empty parking lot if possible.

5. While you’re in the parking lot, do a leak test. Park the car and let it run for a few minutes, with the air conditioner off if possible. Then move the car and check the ground where you’d parked for any fluids that may have leaked.

6. Don’t fall for a seller’s claims that they have other offers on the table if you don’t accept their terms right away. If they had an offer they wanted to take, the car wouldn’t be available to look at. Don’t take an offer you aren’t happy with just because they rushed you. And remember, it works both ways! You have the power to simply walk away from a sale if you aren’t happy or comfortable with the transaction.

5 Inexpensive Upgrades For Used Cars

This post is sponsored by Reedman Toll

Inexpensive Upgrades for Used Cars

Most of us have a dream car that we’d love to own one day. Maybe it’s out of our price range now, or perhaps it’s just not practical for your family. Whatever the case, we go with a reliable used car that we grow attached to. Maybe you’re so fond of your car that you’ve given it a name. But there’s still something you wish it had. Something it doesn’t do as well as you’d hope. Not to fear, there are some small upgrades you can make to make your used car even more enjoyable than you already find it.

– Replace the wiper blades. A quality wiper blade will keep your windshield clean and will keep the rain, snow, and dirt out of the way so you can drive. It seems like a small thing, but it’s important.

– Shampoo your interior. If you want that new car smell, shampooing the upholstery is how you’ll get it. Use a foaming fabric cleaner and gently scrub according to the instructions. Spot treat any stains or trouble areas. You’ll have a clean car, the new car smell, and your seats will be more comfortable without worn areas with years of embedded dirt and oils. Be sure to clean the car again after storms or dirty work so the mud from your shoes doesn’t make your car its home.

– Clean your headlights with a headlight restoration kit. Be sure to get a kit that includes a protector to apply after the cleaning. The wear from weather and the UV rays from the sun will make the headlights cloudy again if you don’t protect them. Clean headlights not only look good, they let more light through, keeping you safe when driving at night.

– So your car doesn’t have heated seats, and you want to be cozy. A heated seat pad is an inexpensive upgrade that will give you just what you want. Fit the pad to your seat, plug it in to the DC power adapter, and get as toasty as can be. You can even get a seat that massages your back from you drive!

– Pay attention to the annoying parts of your commute. Find the one thing that most commonly annoys you, and fix it! Get that one item you’ve been missing out on. It could be an auto trash can so you have a tidy place for your wrappers. Maybe you find yourself fumbling with your phone too often, and need a phone mount. If you get a lot of calls, maybe it’s a bluetooth speakerphone you need so you can talk hands free without trying to find your headset while driving. Whatever the annoyance, a quick and cheap fix can be found to make your car absolutely perfect.

5 Reasons To Make Your First Car a Used Car

This post is brought to you from Caitlin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Pram.
First Car a Used Car

Your first car is a beautiful thing. It’s your freedom, the ability to drive places without your parents and see friends without waiting for someone to give you a ride. It will get you to school, work, and play. Most people fantasize about which car they would love to have for their first, even if it isn’t a realistic dream (you know, like a sixteen year old high school kid with a top of the line performance sports car). Here are 5 ways the dreams you have for your first car, from freedom to convenient features, can be provided best by a used vehicle.

1. Value
“A new car loses half it’s value the moment you drive it off the lot.” That’s a common saying, and while the value may not drop by half, it’s a saying for a reason. When you buy a used car, you aren’t paying the added cost just for being the first to own it. And with the availability of extended warranties and certified preowned vehicles, buying a used car is just as safe and reliable as a brand new one.

2. Reliability
Speaking of safe and reliable, a used car in good condition is a car that’s shown itself to be reliable. It’s run well, been maintained, and hasn’t spent its entire life sitting in a lot. Being from a previous model year, you’ll have access to countless reviews and opinions from other drivers, a wide array of test results for safety, and possibly the added safety of an extended warranty to protect against any possible defects.

3. Features
Sometimes there are features you want that don’t come stock on your favorite car. Heated seats, upgraded stereo, sun roof… whatever features you want, you’ll pay much less for them in a used vehicle. In a new car, you’re paying for the customization options. The used car already has the options you want, and you’ll be able to get far more features for your money.

4. Peace of Mind
Ok, this one might be a bit more for the parents than for the new car owner, and is a bit of an intangible benefit. While you should always take care of your vehicle the best you can (you’re trusting it to keep you safe and alive at very high speeds, after all), there’s something innate in us about the perception of cost. While a new and used car may be in the same condition, you’re more likely to be worried about a brand new car than a used one. Why is this a good thing? Because if you’re in a situation where you have to decide between the car getting hurt or you getting hurt, your parents will always prefer you to be safe. The lower price tag of a used car will make you less likely to make a dangerous move just to try keeping the car from getting scratched, which just might save you from a big accident one day.

5. Comfort
Now, I know what you’re thinking: how can a used car be more comfortable than a new one? But I’m not talking about comfortable upholstery or squishy seats. Your first car will give you a feel for what you really enjoy. After getting comfortable with your vehicle, you might realize you need a little more space. Maybe you have a big vehicle and you feel you want to downsize. Maybe a four cylinder isn’t enough to get you to speed on the interstate, or perhaps that V8 puts you a bit over the speed limit too often. As your comfort with driving and your needs rises, you’ll be able to separate the car of your dreams from the car you’ll really be comfortable in.