About Ashley

Ashley is very happily married and the mother to a beautiful little girl and handsome little boy. She is the main voice behind Embracing Homemaking.

Top 5 Things to Do In Shelby, NC

If you’re within a few hour drive of Shelby, NC here’s a list of 5 attractions that I think will make for a great day trip.  Call it a day-cation if you like.  This list of the Top 5 Things to Do in Shelby, NC is brought to you by MarburgerChryslerJeepDodgeRam.com which just so happens to be located in Shelby.

Banjo

  • 1. Earl Scruggs Center – Music & Stories From the American South

If you don’t know who Earl Scruggs is, I’m not sure we can be friends. I’m kidding…kind of.  The late Earl Scruggs pioneered the banjo picking method that made bluegrass what it is today.  His hometown was Shelby, NC so it’s fitting that’s where this center is found.  They have a very affordable exhibit and they offer free passes to all active military and veterans.  Not only do they have the exhibit open year round but they also offer music camps for kids and adults, coffee with the curator, affordable concerts from local artists, and so much more.  Check out EarlScruggsCenter.org for all the details.

 

Merry Go Round Festival

  • 2. Foothills Merry Go Round Festival

Okay, so a trip to the park might not be worth an hour drive to get to but I think their Foothills Merry Go Round Festival is!  It’s April 27th-28th this year (2019) but this will be their 22nd year hosting it so I’m sure they’ll have many more to come.  They have rides and attractions and it’s only $8 per person for the day.  Everything will be included except for the food.  I’ve never been to a festival that had the rides included in the ticket price.  It sounds like a lot of fun!  Visit CityofShelby.com for more details.

 

Drive In Theater

  • 3. Sunset Drive In Theatre

This drive-in theatre will bring back memories of days gone by while providing a great and affordable evening out with the family today.  Well, not today actually, it doesn’t open for the season until April.  Mark your calendars though because this is one fun outing that you’ll want to have on your to-do list.  It’s only $12 for a car and while they have reasonably priced concessions, you’re even allowed to bring in outside food!  What a deal!  Visit SunsetDriveinTheatre.com for more information. (Note, I’m sure it doesn’t matter to anyone but the picture above is a stock photo and isn’t of the Sunset Drive in Theatre.  I just went with this instead of getting permission to use theirs while they’re on their off season)

 

Bird's Eye Balloon Rides

  • 4. Bird’s-Eye Balloon Rides

I did get permission to use this photo from Bird’s-Eye Balloon so if you go there this is what the balloon you will ride on will look like.  When I contacted them they were very friendly!  They mentioned that this time of year is great for proposals and they haven’t had anyone say no to a proposal yet.  I’m just throwing that out there in case any of you are looking to pop the question.  I would love to go on a hot air balloon ride one day!  My dear husband is afraid of heights so I’m waiting till my kids are a little older to go with me.  If you’re in Shelby and have always dreamed of a hot air balloon ride then you should definitely stroll by Bird’s-Eye Balloon Rides.  You can find out all the details about a ride at BirdsEyeBalloonRides.com.

 

Cleveland County Arts Council

5. Cleveland County Arts Council

If you love art then I think the Cleveland County Arts Council would make a good stop for you.  They have beautiful art to look at, a gift shop to take some home with you, music and film festivals, art classes for kids and adults, and even art camps.  They have a lot of events on their calendar so if art interests you, visit CAArtsCouncil.org for more information.

There you have it, those are my top picks for a day trip to Shelby, NC.  If I left off anything you think I should have included please let me know in the comments.

Spring Car Maintenance DIY Guide

Used Car Tips

It’s that time of year again.  Flowers, pollen, rain, rain, and more rain.  Spring is a great time to be outdoors and enjoy life (with allergy medicine!) but it’s also a great time to do a check-up on your car.  That’s right car maintenance.  This Spring Car Maintenance DIY Guide is brought to you by AppleValleyHyundai.com.

While you could go to the auto shop and pay someone to look over your car, you could do a couple of things yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Check Your Spark Plugs

From what I’ve read most spark plugs require that they be replaced after driving about 30,000 miles and changing them isn’t a complicated process once you understand it.  You could read online about replacing your own or go to the ever popular YouTube and find a mechanic who knows his stuff.

Get an Oil Change

Or maybe I should say, give yourself an oil change.  Car experts vary with their recommendations but most say that you should change your oil somewhere between 3,000-5,000 miles.  This seems like common sense but because I don’t always think things through myself I’ll say it anyway, when changing your oil make sure not to do it when the engine is still hot.  You don’t want to get scalded.  A trip to the ER will not help you save money.

Check Your Battery

Get a battery tester or take it to an auto place where they can quickly check it for free.  It’s important for a battery to be clean and free of rust and dust to avoid unnecessary problems.

Check Your Tire Pressure

This is easy to do at home and you can go to most gas stations if you need to inflate them with air.

There you have it!  There are some simple ways to give your car a spring maintenance check up.

Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond, Va

Maybe it’s the rain but I’ve been day dreaming of visiting another nearby town and spending the day there.  It’s certainly easier than a full scale vacation and it’s a great way to learn about the surrounding area.  If you live within driving distance of Richmond, Va I hope you’ll enjoy my recommendations.  This Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond, Va post is brought to you by a Richmond business, PearsonChryslerJeepOnline.com.

RVA Trolley Tours

  • 1. RVA Historic Trolley Tour

If you know me, you know my love of Mister Rogers.  It’s true.  There is a deep love I have for that precious man and the work he left behind.  Loving him, means loving Speedy Delivery and all things trolley related.  I’ve watched his trolley tour episode with my kids over and over.  I would love to ride a trolley some day and a trolley tour seems like a great way to do just that.  You get to see a trolley up close and see the Richmond area at the same time.  The RVA Historic tours website boasts, “This two-hour historic tour will give you a great overview of the history of Richmond! See and learn about the State Capitol, St. John’s Church, Libby Hill, Monument Ave, James River, and much more!”  To learn more visit RVATrolley.biz.

  • 2. Food Tours

How come this isn’t a thing where I live?  This should be a thing everywhere!  You can pay one price and enjoy a 3 hour food tour of the best eateries in the area.  I couldn’t pick just one to share because they all sounded so good.  Here are your three food tour options straight from their website:

-Dive into Church Hill, Richmond’s oldest neighborhood! Get a taste of the barbecue, baked goods, and everything else that makes Church Hill a food powerhouse, while uncovering Richmond’s origin story in this must-visit neighborhood.

-Explore Carytown from an insider’s perspective as you enjoy food and snacks from 5-6 different restaurants, cafes, and shops and learn from our expert guides about the fun and quirky history of Richmond’s most exciting neighborhood.

-Discover Richmond’s hip Arts District! Savor mouth-watering food and snacks from local restaurants and bakeries, meet the people behind these culinary destinations, and hear the stories of one of Richmond’s defining neighborhoods.

I really don’t know which one I would pick because they all sound so good!  To find more information visit RiverCityFoodTours.com.

  • 3. Museums

Last but certainly not least, museums.  Richmond boasts of museum after museum after museum!  There is The Valentine, the American Civil War Museum-White House of the Confederacy, The American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar, Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives, Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, Children’s Museum of Richmond (two locations), Chimborazo Medical Museum, Edgar Allen Poe Museum, Virginia Holocaust Museum, and so many more!  To see all the museums that Richmond has to offer visit VisitRichmondVA.com.

There you have it!  Those are the three things I would do if I had a spare day or two in Richmond, Va.  I would take a trolley tour, eat a lot of good food, and expand my mind with museum after museum.  If you love Richmond and have something to add to my list please feel free to leave a comment below.

4 Things to Consider When Shopping for a Replacement Hot Tub Cover

This guest post comes from my friend Kim who knows her stuff when it comes to hot tubs.  Don’t overpay on the wrong cover, check out her tips.Hot Tub Covers

Hot tub cover damage isn’t uncommon. When repairs are no longer an option, it is time to start looking for a replacement hot tub cover. Finding a hot tub replacement cover can be a challenging task, because you need a cover that is the perfect fit for your hot tub, and there are thousands of different makes and models of hot tubs around. I recommend you take a look at SpaMate.com. They have been making custom fit hot tub covers for more than four decades and have made covers for every hot tub model ever produced.

If you are in the market for a replacement hot tub cover, you probably want to consider the things that you didn’t like about your old cover. Maybe your old cover wore out really quickly, or it didn’t keep your hot tub as warm as you’d like; this is the perfect time to get a hot tub cover that meets all of your needs. Here are four things that you should consider when getting a hot tub cover replacement.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing A Replacement Hot Tub Cover?

 

1.  Durability

You don’t want to be replacing your hot tub cover every couple of years. Instead, you will want a cover that will last you a long time. To find a durable spa cover, you should first start by looking for a cover that has internal supports made of a strong metal like steel. These supports provide your spa cover with the strength to keep it sturdy under the weight of any debris that may fall on top of it in your yard.

In addition to the internal supports, your hot tub cover should have strong hinges made out a rust-resistant material. A continuous heat seal at the hinges could also help with keeping the heat inside your hot tub while it is covered. Over time, this will save you a lot of money on heating bills.

Wind straps should also come with your hot tub cover to keep the cover secured to your spa during inclement weather and high-wind conditions. Properly securing your cover to your hot tub could prevent it from getting damaged.

2.  Insulation

The foam insulation inside your hot tub cover keeps the heat in the spa when it isn’t in use. Even when it is bitterly cold outside, the insulation should keep your spa’s water toasty and warm. There are a few different factors that affect how well your cover keeps in heat. First is the thickness of the foam.

Thin foam won’t be able to keep the water in your hot tub warm when the temperatures dip to extreme lows. Typically, a quality hot tub cover will contain foam insulation that is between four and six inches thick.

The second consideration you should make when it comes to insulation is the climate in which you live. If you live in an area that gets really cold, you will want to go with the thickest insulation available to keep your hot tub water nice and warm. In warmer climates, you will need less insulation so that you can go with a thinner foam insulation option. Regardless of the climate, a replacement spa cover should contain at least three inches of foam insulation.

Hot Tub Cover

3.  Fit

For a spa cover to properly insulate hot tub, you need to make sure that it is a perfect fit. It isn’t always easy to get a hot tub cover that is the perfect fit, so you might want to look for a company that can take the make and model of your spa and create the perfect hot tub cover. If that isn’t an option, you can measure your spa to come up with perfect measurements. It may be very difficult to get precise measurements, so you should talk to the spa cover manufacturer about how to get the best measurements.

4.  Material

Spa covers need to be made out of a material that can stand up to constant contact with water, the elements, and sun exposure. For these reasons, marine vinyl is the best option when it comes to a spa cover material because it is resistant to fading, discoloration, and UV damage. Marine vinyl also contains mildew inhibitors that prevent the growth of mildew and mold on the cover to prevent illnesses to those who use the hot tub. Mildew inhibitors also very bad odors in the cover.

Purchasing a replacement spa cover is no easy task. If you have been burned by a spa cover in the past, you are probably hesitant to pull the trigger on a new purchase. However, with these tips, you can go out and pick a new spa cover with confidence.

 

How to Keep Kids Happy on a Road Trip

How to Keep Kids Happy on Road Trips

  

Wear comfy clothes, pack back up clothes just in case of a water spill or some unforeseen emergency.

     

  • 4. Music.

Let them have a turn choosing music.  (On that note, you may want to see my Top Road Trip Tunes)  Sing with them.  Dance.  Let yourself have fun, which brings me to my next point.

  • 5. Be Silly.

Wear silly glasses and act like it’s normal when another car sees you.  Enjoy being with your kids.  Be that mom or dad that seems more like a babysitter instead of a parent.  That’s harder than ever to do on a trip but it’s that much more important to do then.  If you’re having a good time then they’ll have a good time.  You can control your attitude and in turn your attitude will greatly influence theirs.

  • 6. Play games WITH them.

Punch Buggy (although that’s honestly not a favorite of mine), License Plate Bingo (that’s right up my alley!), anything to pass time and keep their minds occupied. Who can spot the most pickups in 20 minutes? How many yellow cars are in the state of Virginia? (See my Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond post if you’re near there!) Make up the games as you go but whatever you do be part of the fun and you’ll probably find that it makes the trip go even faster for you too!

  • 7. Stop often.

Plan ahead of time for stops and allow the kids to stretch their legs at a rest stop or even a park.  A quick game of catch could be just what the kids need to get the blood pumping and burn off some energy.

Those are my 7 best tips for how to keep kids happy on a road trip.  If you have anything to add to my list please leave me a comment!

Carpool Safety Tips

This post is brought to you by Barkaucdjr.com.

Carpool Safety Tips

With moms and dads shuttling kids to event after event it’s no wonder folks have turned to carpooling to help cut down on their time spent on the road.  It’s a great way to make sure the kids get where they need to be without constantly being on the go…or maybe you have another kid’s event to be at and can’t be at two places at once.  Letting kids carpool with friends and family just makes sense for a lot of families but it’s important to make sure it’s done safely.  Here are some tips to help to help you navigate the carpool waters.  See what I did there?  Pool. Water. Ha.  Okay, on to the carpool safety tips…

1.) Know Who Will Be Driving

Statistically the number one cause of death of children ages 1-12 in the US is car crashes.  It’s imperative that you know and trust the people you’re entrusting your children with.  You want someone who practices safe driving habits on a regular basis.  Not only that but you need to make it clear that you don’t want any other individuals driving your children around that you haven’t given express permission to.  There my be circumstances when they need a backup person and it’s a good idea to find out who that is before the occasion arises.

2.) Make Sure Your Child Will Be Properly Secured

Car seat safety is something that I am passionate about!  I would make sure that all individuals who would be driving in the carpool be fully educated about my child’s type of car seat, how to install it, and how to properly restrain them each time they’re in the car.  Whether it’s a car seat or a booster seat all drivers need to know the ins and outs of car seat safety.

3.) Keep Your Kids Informed

Because you won’t be in the car when other adults are driving, it’s essential for your kids to know about what’s going on.  They need to know who is dropping them off, picking them up, and where they’re going.  They need to be responsible to keep up with their belongings.  It’s important that they also know how to behave in a car seat or booster seat.  It’s important that they stay buckled up and sit up when in a booster.  Plus, it’s a good idea to have ongoing conversations with your kids about the people they’re riding with and make sure they don’t feel uncomfortable in any way.

I hope these carpool safety tips will help keep your sweet little ones safe on the roads.

8 Car Care Items from the Dollar Tree

This post is brought to you by Warsawchryslerdodgejeepram.com and contains affiliate links.

Car Care Items from The Dollar Store

I love the Dollar Tree for party supplies, craft supplies, gardening tools, and the occasional odds and ends I don’t realize I need till I see it.  Did you know that the Dollar Tree is also a great place to save on car care items?  Taking care of your car can add up quickly, but before you head to the nearest auto store to buy your supplies, check out these common needs that you can have filled for a dollar at your nearest Dollar Tree.

Here are 8 Car Care Items from the Dollar Tree:

Utility Rope

Utility Ropes
In case of emergency, keeping ropes in your vehicle is a great idea.

Auto Protectant

Auto Protectant
You can really save some dollars here. This solution is for vinyl surfaces to protect and restore shine.

Flashlights

Flashlights
In case of emergency or if you need to do some repair, the flashlights will suit your needs well. Who cares if it gets lost or dirty?

Windshield Washer Fuild

Windshield Washer Fluid
You can save a pretty penny by refilling your own windshield washer fluid… for a dollar. This fluid acts as antifreeze and de-icer, making your car safer.

Steering Wheel Cover

Steering Wheel Cover
Snazz up your car, avoid a dirty steering wheel, and protect your hands with the steering wheel cover.

Funnels

Funnels
Although you’ll find this in the kitchen section, it’s perfect for guiding fluids during routine checks.  Plus, they come in packs of three so you could divide them between your kitchen needs and car needs….just don’t use one for both. 😉

Snow Scraper

Snow Brush with Scrapers
Scraping your windshields is an important step of winter car safety.  Save your credit cards and buy a cheap scraper that can get the job done even quicker.  Keep your car’s paint job safe too with the brush feature.

Brake Fuild

Brake Fluid
If you’re your own mechanic, this deal is sure to impress. Refill your brake fluid for a buck.

Do you have any ways to save on car maintenance?  If so, please share in the comments.

Parking Lot Safety Tips

Parking Lot Safety Tips

I’m hyper-vigilant about parking lot safety….and safety in general as a mom.  Yes, I’m that kind of mom.  Especially when we’re out in public.  There’s just so much that could happen quickly.  There’s too much at stake, in my opinion, to take a relaxed approach.  Because I’m this way my daughter always grabs my arm when we walk across a parking lot, even if my hands are full.  I’ve trained her well and she’s as cautious in parking lots as I am.

This past week she was helping her younger brother remember to look both ways before crossing the parking lot lane.  She said, “this is a lot like a street so you have to be very safe.  I wish someone would create a safer parking lot where you didn’t have to be so careful.”  I told her that she was absolutely correct in her assessment.  We also had fun trying to brainstorm different types of parking systems where people could park and safely walk to the building without fear of oncoming traffic.  The closest we could come up with would be some sort of tunnel system and we agreed that didn’t seem practical.  So, for the moment, until someone creates something better, it’s a good idea to be safe in parking lots and I have some tips to share with you on how to do just that.  This post is brought to you by Thunderchrysler.com.

I have to tell you that I wanted to look up some stats to write this post and include some handy information and what I found was a treasure trove of information.  The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety in Parking Lots at SNL/NM: Audit Background Report is a 57 page pdf that has more information than you ever wanted to know about parking lot safety.  If you want more information after you read my article please check it out!

-Drivers Are Distracted In Parking Lots

The NSC.org website says, “In an NSC public opinion poll, 66% of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots. Respondents also said they would:

  • Program GPS systems (63%)
  • Text (56%)
  • Use social media (52%)
  • Send or receive emails (50%)
  • Take photos or watch videos (49%)

NSC found teen drivers (59%) were more likely to engage in personal grooming than adults (53%) while driving in parking lots, but less likely to be on the phone (60% vs. 66%).”

-Pedestrian Parking Lot Safety

  • -Be hyper-aware of your surroundings when walking across parking lots.  Like my daughter says, look both ways as if it were a busy street.
  • -Always make eye contact and wait for the driver to signal you across.  Don’t just walk and assume that they’ll see you and stop for you.  Drivers are distracted in parking lots, remember?  Don’t assume.
  • -Walk on sidewalks and crosswalks when possible.  Make it easy for drivers to see you.
  • -If the weather is bad wear the appropriate shoes.  You don’t want to slip and fall and not be seen by a driver.  I personally know someone who accidentally ran over a man’s legs who was knelt down in a dark parking lot.  He ended up surviving and making a full recovery but it was a terrible ordeal just the same.
  • -Many accidents happen when cars are backing up and don’t see people behind them.  I like to walk quickly behind running cars juuuust in case they back up suddenly without looking first.
  • -Get off your cell phone.  I am constantly amazed by the number of people looking at their phones while walking through parking lots.  It’s not smart.

-Driver Parking Lot Safety

  • -When possible choose a pull through spot to avoid having to back up.
  • -When you have to back up double check that there isn’t anything or anyone behind you before driving in reverse.
  • -Avoid driving through a parking lot and stick to the driving lanes.
  • -Slow down.  Parking lots have 10-15 MPH speed limits for a good reason.
  • -Keep an eye out for kids.  Please keep an eye out for little ones that may dart away from their mother’s grip.
  • -This is the same advice that I listed above for pedestrian safety and in my Tips for Teen Drivers, leave your phone alone.  Leave it in your bag.  Don’t drive distracted.  If it’s so urgent that you need to attend to something, pull into a parking spot for a moment before driving on.

What are some things you implement to try and stay safe in parking lots?

A Guide to Giving Sympathy Meals

A sympathy meal is one in which you provide to a family who’s suffered a loss, poor health conditions, or similar situation that may leave them feeling down and out. Whatever the reason for your search to give a sympathy meal to someone, this guide will provide you learn how to give a sympathy meal in a way that ensures it’s received with a big smile.

Sympathy Meals

Make a Main Meal

If you’re not up for making a huge meal to provide to a neighbor in need, then you should at least be sure to make the main meal forgiving. Something like a dish of lasagna or a casserole meal that’s more of a nourishing meal will be best.

Avoid Allergens

Make sure you take into consideration food items that others tend to be allergic to. A main meal that includes peanuts or gluten, for example, may not be well-suited for a sympathy meal. Be sure to include a main course meal that avoids common food allergens.

Avoid Strong Foods

Foods such as fish or olives, for example, are items that many will have a strong opinion about. Perhaps they don’t like the smell, taste, or texture. Make sure your main course meal being provided doesn’t have any ingredients that could be considered a strong food that is often disliked by people.

Prepped for Pop and Cook

Make sure that the main meal you are giving as a sympathy meal is made well enough so that the recipient can keep it frozen and then pop it in the oven and cook when ready. Place a little note on the main meal that provides instructions for oven temperature and length of time to cook.

Notify the Family

You’ll know best if it’s okay to disturb the family you’re providing the sympathy meal to or if it’s best to reach out to an extended family member. Make sure that you notify the family of when the meal will be delivered so that they are not being disturbed from anything important going on.

There are people in need all around us in our community. They may not speak up and they may be too prideful to ask for help. This guide to giving sympathy meals is meant to inspire you to give to others in need without making them feel less than worthy. These sympathy meals should be a gentle act of kindness as a means to establish the neighbor helping neighbor mentality in this world again.

5 Charities Kids Can Help With

If you’re a parent who wants to teach your kids the concept of giving and how vitally important this is as a part of society, then you should continue reading this article. There are many ways kids can learn to give back to others in their community. Today, I am sharing 5 charities that your kids can help with; some ideas are perfect for the whole family to be a part of.

5 Charities Your Kids Can Help With

St. Jude

Kids can raise money by hosting a bake sale or having their own lemonade stand. A community yard sale is another great way kids can help to raise funds for this charity. Monies raised can be donated to this charity that’s mission is to find the cure for childhood cancer.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Speaking of a lemonade stand, this charity helps kids set up their own stand and in turn, all proceeds are donated to help find a cure for childhood cancer. Register for a lemonade stand and they can receive an event kit which helps to ensure they are able to host a successful charitable lemonade stand.

Habitat for Humanity

This charity encourages kids to be involved in creating art for homeowners that’s then incorporated into the homes they build for families. In addition, kids can collect non-perishable foods for those being helped by this charity.

Kaboom

This is a charity that builds playgrounds and similar structures all over to ensure that playtime is brought back into the lives of kids. Your kids can help this charity by researching any local areas that Kaboom may be able to help near you and in turn, your kids can assist in the building of the playgrounds.

Homeless Shelters

Lastly, there are many homeless shelters around the world these days. These shelters provide food and drink to those who have no home.  You and your kids can take time out of your day once a month to volunteer at these shelters to give back to your local community.

Learning to give back at a young age will instill the habit and tradition of helping with charities and always giving back to others in need. While some charities won’t involve kids at a higher level, even the smallest contribution your kids can make to a charitable organization is well worth it. This life skill is a necessary part of ensuring we’re raising well-rounded kids who grow up to be a positive member of society.