How to Prepare Your Car for Back to School

This post is brought to you by

Carpool season is upon us once again!  Back to school means a lot of things to a lot of people.  Excitement.  Anticipation.  Dread.  A fresh start.  Hopefully you’re looking forward to the new school year but even if you’re not, I think these tips will help get your car, and in a small way you, better prepared for the adventures ahead.  Being organized helps life go smoothly but too often our poor cars go overlooked.  A clean and well stocked car can be helpful for giving us a sense of calm in a seemingly never ending stream of errands.

  • – Remove all the summer junk.  I use the word junk in a kind way.  Remove all summer camp crafts that never made it inside, library receipts, kid’s meal toys, etc. etc.  Take two bags out to your car and put the trash in one and the keepers in another.
  • – Vacuum all of the sand and dirt that has been collected through the summer.  While you’re at it you can remove car seats and get all the crumbs and cheerios that have settled there.
  • – Give the leather a nice cleaning with a dry cloth and the windows a wash.  Microfiber rags and water are great for both of these tasks.
  • – Add items you want to have on hand just in case.  Think about last school year, what were the items that you or your kids kept continually forgetting?  Maybe it was a pencil or a lunch for the kiddos.  Whatever it was pack a few extra in your car for those days.  Stash some power bars or small bags of almonds on hand for forgotten snacks or meals, maybe a pair of earrings for you for when you’re running behind, or a sudoku book for the car pick-up line.  Maybe you need a tube of deodorant for days you dashed out the door or just a new cell phone charger.  Try and think ahead and plan for the unexpected.
  • – Double check your car’s maintenance schedule.  Does it need any regular work?  A top off on the window spray?
  • – Make sure everyone riding in your car is riding in the correct seats.  Because children grow and the laws (and just recommendations change) it’s a good time to stop and make sure you’re following the best recommended protocols.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website has important tips on seat belt fit and position.  It also has information about how to install car seats as well as guidelines on selecting a car seat or booster based on your child’s age and size.

(Related: 1 Car Seat Rule Many Don’t Follow)

Treat your car like an extension of your home, wash it, love it, stock it, and enjoy it and it will be there for you.

5 Tips for Buying a Used Car


Tips for Buying a Used Car

Every year around this time, people start taking advantage of the nice weather, new inventory, and subsequent sales, and shop for a great price on a used vehicle.  And why not?  Used cars are an amazing deal, and the weather makes for pleasant test drives!  But when you’re searching for a used car, how do you make sure you’re getting a reliable car, instead of a lemon?  Follow these 5 tips for buying a used car to make sure you get the deal without the hassle.  This post is brought to you by

  • –  Check reviews, both online and word of mouth.  Ask your friends and family where they buy their vehicles and how they enjoyed the experience.  Then look online for reviews of the dealerships you are considering buying from.  If reviews are split, you can’t be sure you’ll get a good experience.  If you are able to find someplace consistently well reviewed, or where your friends all had great help and a smooth process, you’re bound to have success as well.  A reputable location won’t lose their good reputation just to make a quick buck off you!
  • –  Too good to be true? Probably.  You’ve heard this one before: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If a car is priced significantly lower than others with similar features, age, and mileage, some red flags should be popping up.  Or maybe the car is listed at an average price, but lists “new tires, new radiator, new alternator, new AC, new starter…”  Practically a whole new engine!  Something happened.  Maybe it was an accident, or perhaps it was just someone restoring the car, only to move on to a different project.  Don’t run away from these red flags, but do approach them with caution.  Ask a lot of questions to learn the whole story behind the car.  If you aren’t completely comfortable with the situation, back out and keep looking.
  • –  Test cars out.  If you find a car you like, test another one similar to it.  It could be another used one in the area, or if it’s a recent model year you can test a new model.  This will give you an idea of how the car should drive as you notice little differences between them.  A seller won’t be able to tell you “oh that’s how this model year is… they all idle a little rough,” because you’ve already tested them out yourself.  Then test the car you want in multiple scenarios; drive slowly and test the brakes on an empty street, then through town for stop-and-go traffic, and make sure it doesn’t wobble or have trouble at high speeds by driving on the highway.
  • –  Check it out.  Talk to a trusted mechanic before you start looking at cars and ask if they’ll take a look at some used vehicles for you as you test them out.  When you decide on a car, bring it to the mechanic and have it checked out.  Many will do this for free, and it will give you peace of mind about a vehicle before buying.  Make sure to ask the seller if you can take their vehicle to your mechanic to have it checked out first – it’s their car, after all.  But if they refuse, it’s likely they have something they don’t want you to find.  Keep the list the mechanic gives you, so if you do purchase the car you know exactly what needs done.
  • –  Negotiate.  Most sellers, both dealerships and private, list at a higher price in hopes that you’ll pay it.  They expect some amount of negotiation, and that’s worked into the price.  Don’t be afraid to point out a similar vehicle at a lower price somewhere else, or to mention items your mechanic found as a reason to lower the price.  They have a price in mind that they’ll sell for, and it’s almost always lower than they initially listed.

Clever Hacks for Cleaning Your Car

Car Cleaning Tips for Moms
Some people spend so much time in the car, you can find it looking pretty dirty! After a long commute or road trip, you can start to see things beginning to clutter in the back seat or a funky smell. Today, I will share some clever hacks for cleaning your car and getting it looking and smelling like new! These hacks will help your car look cleaner than ever!  This post is brought to you by

Below you will find a lot of different way s to clean parts of your car you may not have known! They could really come in handy when you go to clean your car! From using silicone cupcake liners for your cup holders to toothpaste to clean your headlights, I got you covered!

Wash Car with Conditioner: Did you know that most hair conditioners contain lanolin, that is a type of wax! When you wash your car with the conditioner it will leave your car shining!
Clean Headlights: If you use a toothpaste that has baking soda in it, you can apply it to your headlights and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then buff it out, and it can help shine up your lights. After awhile they can get dull and lessen how much you can see at night, so keeping them clean allows them to shine brighter at night.
Remove Dead Bugs with Dryer Sheet: If your grille has dead bugs on it, you can use a dryer sheet to wipe away those bugs. It is gentle enough on the car it won’t hurt the paint.
Clean Air Vents: Take a cheap foam painting brush to clean in between the air vents The brush is small enough to fit right in and get the dust off. Or if you have a bottle of compressed air like to clean your keyboard with, this works great too. Just spray it in your ac vents and it will get the dust out as well.
Cleaning Wiper Blades: Use rubbing alcohol to clean your wiper blades. Just apply some rubbing alcohol to a cloth and wipe your wiper blades. This will help prevent smudges on your windshield!
Nooks and Crannies: Grab an old toothbrush for those nooks and crannies. It is stiff enough it works great at getting stuff pulled up and small enough it is easy to clean with. You can spray some cleaner down and watch it remove the mess.
Pet Hair: If you use a squeegee you can run that along your seats to pull up pet hair. If you can get it to come up with just that, spray a little water on seats then use the squeegee and it will come up even easier. Then grab what you can and vacuum the rest.
Wash Car Mats: If you have car mats that have carpet on them, wash them in the washing machine. Just use the gentle cycle, and they will look like new. Let them air dry and then put back in the car.
Cup Holders: You can use silicone cupcake holders to put inside of the cup holders. This way when it gets dirty just grab the liner and wash it real quick. This is a great way to save time cleaning.
Bumper Stickers: If you want to remove a bumper sticker, grab a can of WD-40! Spray some over the bumper sticker and let it sit for awhile and then work on peeling it off. It works great on getting that sticky glue off.


Related: Ways to Keep Your Car Safe

Natural Spring Cleaning Mixes

This post contains affiliate links.

While it may sound more convenient to head out to your local household retail store to purchase cleaners from the shelf, it’s not necessarily cheaper or better for your family. If you’re looking to be more natural with your spring cleaning efforts this season, then please read on for some natural spring cleaning mixes that will help you save money and refrain from the use of harsh chemicals.  I’ve divided the solutions by what you’ll use them to clean.  I hope you’ll find the list helpful!  If you buy store bought cleaners there are safe ones out there.  Mrs. Meyers is a favorite of mine.

Natural Spring Cleaning Mixes

Clean that Stove Hood or Vent

Using mineral oil on your stove hood or vent will surely make that stove shine. Whether you’re looking to remove dingy dust or fingerprints, mineral oil is your go-to natural spring cleaning option.

I love Amazon’s brand of microfiber cleaning rags.  They have 4.5 stars and over 3,700 reviews!

Polish up Stainless Steel

It’s crazy to think that the ingredients in your kitchen can help you polish up stainless steel. Using a small amount of white vinegar on a cloth will clean up the steel and olive oil after will boost the shine.

Clean the Stove Top

We all know how dirty that stove top can get from cooking meals for our family. The trick to getting those burners and the stove top clean is using vinegar and baking soda, let it soak and then wipe down.

Use Lemons for Everything

You’d be surprised how many things you can clean using the simple fruit lemon. You can use this to clean off faucets, shelves, and counters all by itself without mixing it with anything.

Clean the Oven

Use baking soda with water mixed together to create a pasty texture, wipe down the insides of your oven, let it sit for a half hour to an hour and then wipe the inside of your oven clean.

Clean the Kitchen Pots

If you have pots with caked on grime, you can use salt to help scrub away the grime. Soak the pans with a mixture of 3 tablespoons of salt in a couple inches of water.

Bathroom Cleaning

You can create an all-purpose vinegar mixture that is 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water. This mixture can be placed in a spray bottle and naturally clean any area within your bathroom.

Clean the Microwave

Many families can relate the annoyance of a dirty microwave. Place ½ cup of white distilled vinegar with ½ cup of water, heat in the microwave until boiling and wipe away all of that grime.

Clean Laundry

Using 1 teaspoon of tea oil in your laundry will help rid clothes of that dingy cling-on dirt and stains that often take over your kid’s clothing.

Clean the Home

You may also use tea oil as an all-purpose cleaning. Mix 15 drops of tea oil with 1 quart of warm water and place in a spray bottle to clean the entire home.

There you have it, a few natural spring cleaning mixes that will surely help you get that home looking shiny and new in no time. With spring season here, it’s time to get that home looking it’s best to help boost your spirits after a long winter season.  (I know it’s still technically winter but now that Christmas is behind us I’m looking forward to warm days)

7 Easy Ways to Remove Car Odors

This post is brought to you by Lustine Toyota.

Remove Car Odors

Scent is a powerful thing and is often one of the first things people notice when entering a new place.  For drivers that can be bad news.  Some odors can be easily avoided by not smoking or leaving food in the car.  However, other spills, especially with kids, are harder to avoid.  Take hope though, I have some suggestions to help keep you remove car odors to leave your car smelling fresh and clean.

-The easiest way to keep a car smelling good is surprisingly easy.  Grab a pack of dryer sheets, poke a few holes in a baggy, throw them in, and toss them under the seats.  They’re out of sight and will cost only a few dollars a year.  Easy peasy!

-If you’re not a fan of chemicals and want to take a natural approach I’ve heard that you can use fresh herbs to make your car smell lovely.  Buy a few sprigs of basil, lay it on some newspaper, and set it in the car’s back window.  There it will receive sunlight and will dry out.  Other aromatic herbs can work too.  Mint and thyme come to mind as good options to try.

-The next step isn’t too hard as long as you have nice sunny day and a water hose.  Clean your car mats.  The mud and muck can build up and make your car smellier than it needs to be.  A quick rinse and maybe a scrub will help keep your car fresh.

-If you still have a funky smell you can sprinkle baking soda over the seats and carpeted flooring.  Baking soda is one of the world’s best natural fresheners.  Plus, it’s incredibly cheap too!  Leave the baking soda sit for a few hours and simply vacuum it up.

-One unsuspecting place that can hold bacteria and mold is your car’s air conditioning system.  Fortunately, there is a $10 fix that’s easy to implement. Simply buy a can of air conditioner odor treatment spray, turn the air conditioning on high (with the re-circulation button off), and spray the treatment into the exterior air intakes (at the base of the windshield).  Wait ten minutes or so and turn the re-circulation button on and spray the treatment again into the interior vents.  Leave running to another ten minutes or so.

-One of my favorite cleaning products for inside the house can also be beneficial inside the car – vinegar!  White vinegar is super cheap and it works as a great cleaner and deodorizer.  We buy it buy the gallon for roughly $4 a gallon.  Mix equal parts water and vinegar to a spray bottle and go to town.  The temporary smell will dissipate leaving your car cleaner and fresher than before.  It can clean upholstery, windows, and hard surfaces alike.

-This next tip is one that we learned how to do when my husband accidentally left a gallon of milk in the car…for a couple of days.  Oops! He thought he just forgot to buy it.  If you’re a coffee drinker this will be an easy fix for you…and better yet, if you’re like me and continually accidentally buy bags of beans instead of coffee grounds you already have a good supply of coffee on hand. 🙂  Fill a tin or plastic container with about 6-8 ounces of coffee grounds or beans (beans are less messy) and poke holes in the top of the lid.  Simply leave it in the car overnight (or in our extreme case for a couple of nights!)  The oils from the coffee beans absorb and eliminate the odors and leaves a faint delicious coffee smell behind.

There you have it folks, seven ways to remove smelly odors from your car so you and others can enjoy a fresh ride around town.

How to Have Fun While Spring Cleaning With Kids

Spring cleaning season is here and with that comes the need to get the family on board to clean together. Open up those windows, get the air flowing through the home, and get prepared to make spring cleaning with kids a fun event with these ideas. This post contains affiliate links.

Spring Cleaning With Kids

Visual Timer

Use a Timer

Many children work best when a timer is put on. This timer can be set in 10-15 minute increments. This establishes a goal for your children to reach. I recommend visual timers for kids so they can see a picture of how much time is left.  (Here is a great visual timer from Amazon for only $24)  As the timer winds down, your children will know to step up their game and get that cleaning task done before the timer goes off. For each new task, set the timer again. This is a fun way to keep the family motivated when tackling spring cleaning.

Name Tags

Create Job Titles

For every family member, there should be a job title. This job title will define what tasks and area of the home each family member is in charge of. Giving each family member a job title will make them feel confident and excited to be in charge of their job duties during spring cleaning. Job titles can include fun titles such as Sweeper Upper or such to make spring cleaning a bit more humorous.  If you happen to be like me and have young kids who love stickers of any kind, you might enjoy making personalized name tags for them.

Put Music On

Music is a great motivator for adults and children. Consider making your spring cleaning a family dance party affair instead of a dreary boring day of hosing out the house. Have upbeat dance music playing that’s family-friendly to ensure everyone stays on task and motivated to continue on in their mission to help get spring cleaning done.  The Greatest Showman soundtrack is our current favorite.

Root Beer Float

Celebrate Your Successes

Lastly, be sure to celebrate together as a family whenever a large task has been accomplished. Whether you go out to dinner, make some sweet treats or have some root beer floats, find a way to celebrate together as a family to reward everyone for their hard work. When the children know a reward is the final step in this spring cleaning event, they will be extremely motivated to keep helping.

There you have it 4 fun ways to make spring cleaning with kids fun. It’s great to get the whole family involved in spring cleaning because it will take far less time to complete and it helps teach children the skill of learning what to get rid of and what to donate. As you work to spring clean the home, you can separate piles into junk, yard sale, and donate piles to venture off to the local shelter to donate any reusable items.  Speaking of, you may be interested in my 200 Things to Throw Away post.  I don’t really advocate throwing away everything but only after things can be donated, recycled, etc. do I suggest throwing in the trash.

Things to Throw Away


Ways to Refresh Your Home for Fall

Fall is coming!  Ya’ll knew that though, right?  As much as I’m still excited about our upcoming late summer vacation I’m also very excited about the fall season. …and the football, the leaves, the sweaters, the cute boots, and the fragrances of fall that come with it.  Oh, and the fall colors and candles too.  And pumpkins!!  Sigh.  There’s so much to love about fall.  This review was made possible by iConnect Influencer Management, Febreze and Swiffer was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Now where was I?  Oh yes, fall is coming!  To help you usher in the fall season I’ve rounded up 5 ways you can help refresh your home for fall.

Burlap Pumpkin

1.  Add some pumpkins.  Real pumpkins, painted pumpkins, ceramic pumpkins, or wooden pumpkins.  Any kind of pumpkins can do!

Febreze fall scent

2.  Refresh the scents.  To help get your home ready for fall Febreze has fall scented air refreshers.  Not only can they get rid of yucky smells you don’t want in your home but they can fill your home with dreamy wonderful scents.  Scents have been known to boost your mood and my family loves how their Big Sur woods air refresher smells.

3.  Hang a free fall printable.  The internet has a lot of free printables and I’m sure if you look you’ll find one just perfect for your home.  “Happy Fall, Ya’ll!” is one of my favorite fall slogans. 🙂

Sweater Pillow

4.  Bring out some throws.  I love my chunky orange blanket and white sweater pillow.  They both scream fall and are extra comfy while snuggled on the couch reading a book.
Swiffer Green Box

5. Give your home a good cleaning.  Spring cleaning is the season that gets the most attention but fall cleaning is just as necessary.  Fall allergies are up and at em and staying on top of household dust and pollen will help keep allergy sufferers happy.  Plus, who doesn’t love a clean and nice smelling home?


Enter to win one full size Swiffer and one full size Febreze product!

To enter simply leave a comment below and let me know what ways do you refresh your home for fall?

Good luck!

How to Winterize Your Vehicle

This post is brought to you by Earnhardt Chrysler Jeep Dodge

Winterize a Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle for the cold winter months is essential. You don’t want to risk breaking down in the snow or ice. You also want to make sure your car is safe for winter driving. Read on to find out how you can winterize your vehicle to avoid any problems!

1. Check the battery and cables.

Make sure there is a good connection between all of battery cables. Look for any cracks or breaks in the cables as well. Remove the cap of the refill hole to check the fluid level of your battery. If needed, refill with distilled water.

2. Get the right tires put on your vehicle.

If you live in an area where there is lots of snow, make the switch to stronger tires in the winter. Make sure you change all four. It’s not a good idea to drive with two winter tires and two summer tires. If you live in a very rural area, you may want to look in snow tires with studs so you can make it to work safely every day during the winter.

3. Replace washer fluid and wipers.

Driving in the ice and snow can make it difficult to see where you are going. This is especially true if you get behind a vehicle that is slinging the mushy ice and dirt your way. Replace your wipers so you have fresh, strong ones to take on the winter. Refill the washer fluid basin with an antifreeze solution, to keep your windshield clean at all times.

4. Create an emergency kit.

If your car were to break down in the cold of winter, there are a few things you need to have on hand. Water, non-perishable food, blankets, boots, and a change of clothes are all things you need to include in your winter car kit. Keep these items in your trunk all winter, just in case.

5. Don’t forget the ice scraper!

You don’t want to sit in your cold car for several minutes, waiting on the ice to thaw. Especially when you need to get to work or home! Place an ice scraper in your glove compartment or door pocket, so it’s easy to grab every morning when you need to use it.

6. Switch the oil.

Make sure you get an oil change when it is recommended for your car. In the winter, your vehicle needs thinner oil. So, for example, if you usually use 10W-30 oil in the warmer months, switch to 5W-30 oil during the winter.

Receutics Acne Clearing System Experience

This post was sponsored on behalf of Receutics. All opinions stated are my own.


My skin is moody.  Truly.  It’s moodier than I am.  Some days it’s lovely, some days it’s oily, some days dry, and the worst are days when it’s full of breakouts.  It’s awful.  I feel like a 14 year old trying to cover up zits before school in the morning.  Flashbacks flood my mind from days gone by, I can see myself with my Seventeen magazine on the bathroom counter as I’m focused on my reflection while trying the newest remedy to prevent acne.  Oh my, you think that I would have outgrown acne by now.  Sigh.

Lazy Mom

This is a picture of me in my 30s with no makeup on and clearly no shower since I have leftover mascara under my eyes.  What can I say it was a “color my jammie shirt kind of day?”  Sometimes I’ll let my kids color on the back of my pj shirt with washable crayons and it makes for a nice little massage.  When their masterpiece is complete I’ll rotate the shirt around to give them a new canvas…and me a few more minutes of rest.  I know what you’re thinking, yes, I know, I’m a lazy mom sometimes.  I’ll admit it.

Because of the unevenness of my skin and regular breakouts I was open to trying a skin care product line from Rite Aid, Receutics Active Skin Repair.  Their Acne Clearing set comes in three separate steps.

Step 1: The Cleanser

Step 2: Breakout Treatment

Step 3: Clear Tone & Complexion Correction

My skin care

I’ve used this set for 12 weeks now and the results are truly noticeable.  My skin is smoother.  The blackheads on my nose are fewer, the whiteheads on my forehead are almost completely gone.  I still get the occasional zit but much less frequently than before…and my baseline is much better.  Even the “good skin” days that I had before aren’t as good as the bad ones now.  Being a beauty blogger (have you seen my beauty site, I’ve tried a lot, A LOT of skin care products.  Some have been great, many not so great for my skin, but this set is honestly my favorite acne line I’ve tried.  It makes me want to check out their Anti-Aging and Skin Care sets too.

This whole set was only $49.99!  In my opinion, that’s a great value for such an effective product.  For more information visit or swing by your local Rite Aid to try it for yourself.



Wet Ones Six Flags Giveaway!

I am that mom.  Yes, that one.  I always have wipes with me.  Baby wipes?  Maybe.  Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes?  Always.  As a parent I want my kid to have fun playing at the playground and with friends but when it’s time to leave they know to grab a Wet One.  Germs don’t stand a chance with me. 🙂  As a part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network, I am partnering with Wet Ones wipes to get the word out about the Wet Ones Six Flags Kid’s Ticket Offer (which is totally awesome I might add!!).  As a #WetOnesAmbassador I am being compensated by Wet Ones to participate in this campaign.

Wet Ones

I loved going to amusement parks when I was younger and I’m excited about the opportunity to take my kids to Six Flags soon.  We just got our tickets in the mail this week!  Along with my bottle of sunscreen and my tube of Chapstick you can bet I’ll be taking a stash of Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes.  They’re a great way to wipe off dirt and grime from messy tables but are also great for cleaning hands before eating.  They kill 99.9% of germs.  When you can’t get to a sink with soap, this is the next best thing. …or maybe better since you don’t have to wrangle the dirty door knob on your way out of the bathroom.  (Am I the only one who struggles with this?)  I love that Wet Ones are hypoallergenic so they don’t even irritate my son’s sensitive skin.  They’re great for even the littlest of hands.  They have added aloe and lanolin so they don’t dry out your hands – I love that because I’m also a lotion freak.  I just want constantly clean and moisturized hands, is that too much to ask? 🙂

Wet Ones Singles

Because you have to pack light when you go to an amusement park, I’m planning on taking a big handful of the Wet Ones Singles.  I can store them in jean pockets, back pack pockets, or anywhere because they’re so thin.  I usually opt for the travel packs to keep in the van and a canister to keep in my diaper bag.  The canister also fits in a cup holder.  How do I know that?  Well, I might have two containers of Wet Ones in our van.  We have a lot of cup holders and only 4 people so I might as well put them to good use, right?  No matter what the size, Wet Ones has us covered.  If you’d like to find out more about Wet Ones, visit and see where they are sold near you.

Discounted Six Flags Tickets

If your family would like to plan a trip to Six Flags this summer you’re in luck because Wet Ones has a great offer to help get you get there cheaper.  When you buy participating Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes you can take advantage of a great ticket offer!  First, buy a participating Wet Ones product between 5/1/16 and 7/15/16. Then visit From there follow the directions and complete your request by 11:59:59 A.M. ET on 7/15/16.  You’ll receive a discount coupon for a FREE Six Flags weekday kids ticket (up to a $51.99 value) with the purchase of a full price general admission ticket on weekdays or $10 off one full price general admission ticket on weekends.

Win FREE Tickets

You heard me right, FREE TICKETS ya’ll!  One reader of Embracing Homemaking will walk away with 8 FREE tickets to Six Flags for the 2016 season.  How does that sound?  To enter, comment below and tell me why Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes are your favorite compared to similar products.  The giveaway ends on July 26, 2016 at midnight EST.  Good luck!

UPDATE: We have a winner!!!  Congratulations goes to TIM!!