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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wise Company food review and emergency preparedness

I recently requested a sample from the Wise Company of emergency food storage. The Wise Company specializes in emergency prepared foods that can be stored for extended periods of time.  Have you ever seen Doomsday Preppers? Have you ever considered the possibility that some kind of emergency might arise causing you to rely solely on what you have stored at home?
I know I have. I've been living in a state where hurricane parties are normal and anything less than a category 4 isn't worth worrying about. I've filled up Rubbermaid bins with water, kept a first aid kit in all my vehicles (even my motorcycle), and also try to keep things in the pantry for emergencies.
Food is always one of the most important things to have on hand in case of emergency. There have been many times when the power goes out and canned beans become the main part of your diet. Let’s face it though; you really don't want to be cooped up in a home with everyone eating baked beans morning, noon and night. The smell gets so bad you might just brave the storm outside instead.

Wise Company sent me a pack of Chili Macaroni that feeds up to four adults. It's 100% vegetarian. You just need to boil 4 cups of water, add the contents in the package and stir. After turning off the heat, cover it and let it stand 12-15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Let it cool and dig in!
My homemade chili macaroni....
Now, to be perfectly honest, it’s not the greatest chili macaroni I’ve ever had. (I much prefer my home cooked kind.) But when it’s an emergency, this would be the best thing ever for dinner! Food is always on the top of lists during an emergency, so be prepared with something that won’t require a lot of attention or things that go bad without refrigeration. Better than beans and better than MRE's, which I've also had a taste of before. However, while it might taste better than your other options, its still on the bland side so have some hot sauce at the ready. Texture is flat too.
Cooking Wise Company...

My husband brought up a valid point about how you would heat such a food without electricity? Well, if you have a grill, a pot of water over the charcoals or fire wouldn’t hurt to heat this up. Also, most people around here invest in generators. For people with those, voila! Electricity at your disposal. But only for a limited amount of time until you get it recharged for use. And lastly, option three would be a camp fire. Just remember to keep loose brush, leaves, or other debris away from it. Last thing you want is to start a wild fire and cause more damage.
A fully cooked batch of Wise Company chili macaroni.
Your opinions may vary greatly from mine and my family's, so why not contact Wise yourself and request a sample? Leave me a comment on your thoughts about emergency preparedness. What would you prepare for? How would you prepare?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kidecals via US Family Guide review

As parents, we buy things that we want to make sure won't get lost or stolen. Or should they get lost, we want to make sure it's easier to recover them. Kidecals helps us do just that.
 I put one on my laptop since that's something I wouldn't want to lose or get mixed up with my other nerd friends'.
My husband put labels on his fishing gear. We chose the camo pattern as well as to put Vinyard Family on them. This way we all can use them. You can customize them any way you'd need. Put your child's name and your phone number on them so if something is found, they can call you to report it.
They are machine washable, dishwasher safe, and can be put on anything you need to label as your own. I recently ordered a batch as a reviewer promotion. They are excellent! Whether you are preparing for summer camps, recruit trainings (boot camp), or just have an active life that requires you to bring things along they offer a sense of security in knowing your stuff is identifiable and unique-inized (yep, making up words again).
Another great thing about these - they go on clothing or objects. I think in a state like mine where storms are prevalent during certain seasons, it helps to be able to identify your things when you have to be crammed in a safe zone with others.
They are great for so many things like school supplies, vacations, outdoor gear... the list ends with your imagination (or needs).  I also love how no matter what the order, shipping is free! Always a bonus. And they ship out pretty quickly. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or just sign up for their newsletter. You can browse the selections to get an idea of what they have. And remember to leave me a comment about what you think! I love to hear from you all. Thanks for reading 8-)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Deflect-o Cubes via Shoplet.com review

I'm sure by now you all know how much of a neat freak, organizer I am. Everything gets a place of its own. I like knowing exactly where to go when I need something. So you can imagine I was pretty excited when Shoplet.com offered me the chance to test out another product they have on their website of office supplies; Deflect-o Cubes.
I decided my office desk needed an organizational makeover. It's where things usually get tossed for me to deal with later.
These Cubes have little rounded indents with clips included so you can clip them together and keep everything stabilized.
You can get multiple kinds. I received the Deflect-o Two Drawer Cube Organizer, Desk Cube with X Dividers, and 2 kinds of Desk Cubes with 4 and no drawer options. I love that they are somewhat clear so you can see what you have but also have a blurred texture that gives some discretion. The open fronts give you quick access to your office supplies. Perfect way to keep organized!
Shoplet now also offers promotional products that you might be interested in. Its things that can personalize your business. #shopletreviews
***These items were sent to me free of charge by the Shoplet.com marketing team in order to test and report a review on for my readers. I was not otherwise endorsed and all opinions are strictly my own!***

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Our family day at Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island Waterpark!

Since I'm a part of the US Family Guide blogger team, I was recently given the chance to review a day at the newly opened Adventure Landing Shipwreck Island water park at Jacksonville Beach. I took my husband and two younger brothers with me for a day of family fun. We left our home early in the morning so that we would get there close to opening time. I find this time to be best as the lines are shorter, the park is at its cleanest, and I can park closer to the entrance (after so much fun, everyone is exhausted and dragging their feet when its time to go).
Adventure Landing has a few rules that you should know of:

Food options include two things: you can bring your own food but leave it in a cooler in your car or eat at the food venues they offer. We ate at the Wave Riders Grill since the Cantina was closed. It can be a little pricey I'll admit. We fed four with just under $40. I really liked some of the options they had though. I ordered the Grilled Chicken Wrap. It had white meat chicken strips, slightly crispy cucumbers, fresh lettuce, and tomato chunks.
It was satisfying and came to about $5.50. A hamburger was about the same price and nothing special. My brother ordered a small fry and soft pretzel that was altogether about $5.50 as well. Drinks are sold separately unless you make your order a combo in which case you have to add $3.69 for a small drink (which is a regular size at most other vendors) and a small fry. The fry sizes impressed me.

They were a little above average and tasted better than most you would get at a fast food restaurant. But enough about food (don't want to make every hungry here). Some items are better than others but prepare yourself for higher prices in that department.
The staff throughout the park was extremely friendly. Everywhere we went, we were met with smiles and several even asked how we were doing as we walked by. For a recreational park of this kind, I have never encountered such a great group. They have life guards posted everywhere watching everyone and making sure it was safe. 
They do check your bags to make sure you aren't bringing in anything that is prohibited or dangerous. I wouldn't want someone sneaking in a 6 pack, would you? There are no alcoholic drinks allowed. I personally appreciated this as I don't think liquor and water slides with kids around makes a good mixture. You may bring water in clear bottles only.

Bring towels if you plan on doing the golf or games as well as the water park. We did only the water park and preferred to be hands-free. With the summer sun bearing down you, the water dries really quick unless you are going from ride to ride (in which case, you'll stay wet anyways).
Always remember sunscreen. I slathered us thick before entering the park and am still a little red. So if you can rent a locker or make a trip to the car, double or triple your dose! Especially when going to a water park. The sun bakes your skin but really cooks you when you're wet.
Parking is free! If you are an early bird like we were, not only will you get to park close to the entrance (less walking after a long day of fun) but less lines at the attractions. The down side to being early was that some areas had colder water to deal with but after getting in and moving around it wasn't so bad. And actually, we found out those areas stay a little more chilly than the others anyhow.
If you want to rent a locker, its $5 for the day plus a $5 deposit that will be returned once you turn in the key.

Ride requirements: certain attractions do require you to be a certain height. At the end of some of the slides there would be a deep amount of water for you to drop into.  The Hurricane for instance, has you slide around then fall into a sphere-shaped bowl that you slide around before dropping through a funnel-type exit into an 8 feet deep pool of water. You have to be 48 inches tall and a very good swimmer for that one.

After taking a consensus of everyone present, we agreed the best one was The Rage ride. It's a long slide that uses the force of water to propel you along as you hold on for dear life to a figure 8 inner tube. You can ride alone or with someone. It was so much fun, we went on it about 4-5 times!

Coming in second place was the main attraction at the center of the park, the Shipwreck Island Play Village. You could get lost, but only if you wanted to! There were water cannons, places where the kids could run and play in and around it, plus several slides. There were three levels of high ones as well as some normal kiddie slides.

We also enjoyed just lazily floating along the Little St. Johns River in inner tubes. It provides a nice cool down in the midst of so much action. Another good resting area we liked was Typhoon Lagoon. Its a wave pool that periodically starts up and creates man-made waves that you can bounce along with.
They have another ride that only one of our small group dared to attempt; the Hydro Half Pipe. You know what a half pipe is, right? Skateboarders use them to do tricks. This was a huge one that had water on it and you slid down one side and up the other on an inner tube until you lost momentum and stopped in the middle. Incredibly scary! But many enjoyed it.
Eye of the Storm was another scary one. You slide on a curvy slide with no inner tube until you come to a sphere-like bowl that you swirl around like a twister about once or twice and then fall through a hole in the bottom into an 8 feet deep pool before swimming out to the steps. My brothers tried it once and didn't want to have another go.
And if Dad likes such things - they have a promotion for dads to swim free! Just check out the details here. Other specials and coupons can be found on their website as well. Also, you can get a deal for reading my blog! "Adventure Landing & Shipwreck Island Waterpark is The Place to Play!  Stay cool in the summer at Northeast Florida's largest water park.  Enjoy rides from mild to wild, including a Kiddie Play Area, Wave Pool and Lazy River!  Practice your putting skills on our Miniature Golf Courses, twist and turn in the Go-Karts, practice your swing inside our Batting Cages or perfect your gaming skills in our Mega Arcade.  Don't miss our Wacky Worm Rollercoaster and Frog Hopper - rides perfect for younger kids!  And, don't forget to stop by and feed the alligators!  Affordable family fun...so close to home.  My Readers Save $5 with http://www.jacksonvillefamilyguide.com/coupon.php?bid=11088&lid=13938&dealid=1158®ionid=312"
Overall, it was an amazing day! We had a blast, got a little redness going on... and had enough of a workout just climbing steps, walking, and holding on with everything we had. You can sit around lazing in the sun with your feet in the pools or you can find muscles you forgot you had while you squeal and laugh through all the cool attractions.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Preparing for an emergency

Hurricane season is getting into swing here in Florida. Having been a native, I’ve seen my share of crazy storms and the after math that can follow. I no longer freak out during storms. I’m used to them. I do, however, still believe in being prepared. Anything is possible and having your family set up for success in hurricane season means you have supplies and plans all set.
For this season we have gotten a head start. Candles and flashlights in case the lights go out. My sons are scared of the dark during storms and my husband is partially blind as well as deaf so having light is a must. Don’t forget the extra batteries and matches (or lighter and fluid). You never know how long the power could be out.
What are other ways to prepare? Food is important. If they close the roads or the power goes out, you might be stuck with only what’s in your pantry. How long will it last your family? What will you be able to use without power? We chose to stock up on things like bread and crackers, peanut butter, water (bottles and gallons), my husband’s chips (can’t go without them for too long before going into withdrawal!), finger snack foods for the kids like cheese crackers and fruit snacks.
There are other canned foods that may not taste that great straight from the can, but when it comes down to it – you make do. Those types of things are beans’n’weanies, beans, and even ravioli. What types of things would your family have on the emergency list of foods? You could even consider investing in something like the Wise Food Storage company products.
First Aid comes next in the list of important things to have on hand. No matter what the emergency that comes your way – hurricane, tornado, flood, snow storm – injury can be imminent. Having bandages, Vaseline, Neosporin, gauze, surgical tape, Ace bandages,  saline solution, eye drops, lip balm, rubbing alcohol (you can keep the drinking kind on hand too if that’s your thing), peroxide, surgical scissors, sunscreen, hand sanitizer…. You get the idea? These are things that could come useful and I keep them packed in a kit for “just in case” moments. Don’t forget a blanket or few always clean and packed to go.

Make sure you keep your valuable documents not only locked up, but in a waterproof casing of some sort. A large baggie works. Insurance information, birth certificates, I keep baby books with them too, marriage license (no, just because you lose this doesn’t absolve the marriage – just means you have to pay for a new copy). On the same token, medications and special instructions should be kept with these. Don’t forget your Will if you have one!
Now for miscellaneous items that might seem trivial… spare razors, spare toothbrushes, eye glass cleaners for all my fellow ‘four eyes’, perhaps things to pass the time with. Keep everything packed in waterproof bins if you can and keep them in a place that has easy access when you are in a rush.
But being prepared shouldn’t end with homes only. I also try to keep as prepared as possible on the go. My diaper bag is actually a backpack. It holds more things and is easier for me to keep things organized. In my trunk I keep another backpack with a thick but easy-to-carry blanket, bottled water, and a first aid kit. I also try to keep a portable case that has my jumper cables neatly stored. Keeping snacks in there is a good idea as well. Just remember to switch them out every so often so you aren’t stuck with hard/stale food in your car. If you are able, keep a gas can or two full of gas somewhere nearby. I don’t suggest you keep it inside your home as it’s a fire hazard (especially for apartment dwellers like me). Keep a mini tool kit with things helpful for not just inside needs but car needs as well. Address books are great too in case your smart phone (if you rely on it) should run out of battery.
Remember that this list is not all inclusive! Every family is different with their own unique needs. I need diapers for my baby girl as well as baby foods (or a grinder). I also refuse to leave without my Bible, cape and katana. But I’m a nerd. For my sons, I have little individual-sized pillows and a little bag of toys. Fashion your list to fit your needs and the needs of your family.
If you can afford one, I suggest investing in a power generator. Then you can have electricity for important things like cooking and heating water. Another thing that might be worth investing in is a grill. Even a small one that is easy to store and use can come in handy.  
Also have a plan. Know what you and your family will do during an emergency. For my own family, I might be at work so I have a plan for my husband and children to follow until I can return home to them. Add variations to cater to different scenarios. Hurricanes are treated differently than fires. Tornadoes require different actions than a flood. A little prevention goes a long way.

Now I'm curious... what kind of emergencies would you be most likely to prepare for? Have you seen Doomsday Preppers? Talk about hardcore. Radiation, government collapse, extreme weather, and yes - even a zombie apocalypse! What steps do you or have you taken so far? Leave me a comment below!

A mother's sort of night

A mothers sort of night
Passed out from exhaustion and the pain in my head.
This couch is no match of comfort to the much softer bed.
Startled and confused I gazed.
Such things that transpired while you sat there unfazed.
Room upon room of messes I survey.
From three little munchkins created, are they.
On a quest I will go, the troublemakers I seek.
It will not be hard; there is one inside, another behind and the last one underneath.
The little lady awakes from her nap.
Her older brother sleeps amidst a snack under his table, while the oldest one still has me wishing to lay him across my lap.
He is of course, the messiest of all.
To my knees I just might fall.
Work snaps me to attention and begin I must.
To set all right before I bust!
To the floors first do I go as I hand off my lady - safely first, don't you know.
The child under the table begins to stir.
It's a sign of things to come in the blur.
With the floors complete, to the next mess I move staying yet on my feet.
The bathroom beckons in that loud child's voice.
This one I handle without a choice.
My head throbs, my heart does race.
I feel as though I'm running a race.
Everything is done, all is clean.
Come join and I promise not to be mean.
A check of the time tells me dinner is required.
I really wish a chef could be hired.
To the kitchen I go.
A meal to prepare and to feed my hungry ones will make me tonight's hero.
At last I may sit to rest and think.
Before your demands on me start with a blink.
This is hardly over, this night.
Rather it's just beginning to unravel and take flight.

Emily Vinyard

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Exterminators Infected book review

Time to talk books, my fellow nerds! While I read a great deal of non-fiction and true story things, especially gory crimes and strange facts that other people find useless... Occasionally I need a moment to dive into fantasy where I can wonder what it's like when reality is no longer real. The most recent adventure I had the pleasure of reading was Exterminators Infected by a friend of mine - James DeSantis.
He really does an excellent job of keeping you on the edge of your seat. And just when you think you had it all figured out, he throws that unexpected twist in, changing everything!
The story is about 4 young men at the end of their high school years set in modern times. They juggle grades, relationships and family issues that are prominent in today's youth while also being chosen by an underground organization to battle and destroy creatures labeled as Unknowns. These Unknowns break into our realm with intent to kill. It's up to our young heroes, Exterminators, to hunt and to kill as they save the world from one monster at a time.
The story is very well written. I advise parents to know that it is geared more towards mature teens as there is some language and sexual references in it. The personalities of the characters are so varied that you are guaranteed to find a favorite. They encourage loyalty, team work, and dedication.

You can learn more about this first original book in the upcoming series by Mr. DeSantis at the following links, enjoy!
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/349581348468970/permalink/453555678071536/#!/ExterminatorsSeries

Amazon (currently on sale!) - http://www.amazon.com/Exterminators-Infected-The-Volume/dp/0615819028/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370093427&sr=8-1&keywords=Exterminators+infected

Check it and be sure to like the Facebook page as he updates it. Then you will know when book 2 comes out!
Totally nerding out while I read ;-)