Monday, November 30, 2015

Foster Farms Minions Giveaway

Disclosure: I received free product in exchange for this post.

Our family loves the Minions and I'm excited to share an awesome giveaway with my readers. Ten lucky winners will receive their own Blu-ray edition of the very cute Minions Movie AND a box of Foster Farms Corn Dogs. Sweepstakes begins November 30 and ends December 21 and is open to everyone in the U.S.

How do I win?

Head over to the Foster Farms Facebook page and leave a comment on the weekly Minions posts for a chance to win. I've already left my comment and have my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mayan Case Review

Disclosure: I received the Review opportunity via BlogsRelease to receive this item at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

One of the things I love when I travel is finding local artisans and supporting their work. I've found some beautiful items that are unique to the areas I travel. In Central America, handmade woven Mayan fabrics are one of the distinctive items worth bringing home. I've always wanted to see the artisans from these countries expand their work worldwide with the help of modern technology. I was thrilled to see the Mayan Case company using fabrics that are woven in the Guatemala highlands for their cell phone and tablet cases. What a thrill it is to be able to take part in a review that puts the work of skilled artisans in third world countries into my hands.

The fabric I chose for my case is absolutely stunning and so typical of the Mayan fabrics I've seen while traveling. The weaving on the fabric is flawless. I love the Mayan symbol used as the company logo. I'm thrilled with the magnetic strap as it won't cause damage to the case a way a snap or velcro would. I'm impressed at how well the case is made.

Most of all, I'm impressed with the beauty. I love my case and so do my coworkers. I've had several mention how much they like it and ask where I got it. I would highly recommend the Mayan Case both in a phone and tablet case. I want to add a traveling tip as my review of this item made me think of the desperately poor artisans at the sides of the street in the countries I've visited hawking their wares.

Traveling Tip
When traveling to poor countries, please do not haggle. Instead pay the full asking price of artisan made goods. It is usually much lower than comparable items in wealthier countries.This gives the artisans, who make so little money already,  a chance at sustaining themselves and their families.

Product Rating ★★★★★

Find Mayan Case Products on Amazon 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

RALLT Hammock Straps Review #TheUltralight

Product received at no charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

We use hammocks for camping a lot. My teenage son also loves to use them just "chilling" outside with his friends. It's not uncommon to have hammocks up in friends yards or near hiking trails. We have tried several different brands of hammock straps and have good comparisons while reviewing the RALLT Ultralight Hammock Straps. Before I start, I have to say that my teenage son already tried to swap me his hammock straps for the Rallt straps so that already tells me which are better.

RALLT Hammock Straps $13.99

First, I have to comment on the price of the RALLT Hammock Straps.We paid $10 more for our last pair of straps than the cost of the Rallt straps. The Rallt straps are much better than our other pair. The quality on the RALLT straps are surprisingly awesome for the price. I'm feeling bad I didn't find them sooner.

The price isn't even our favorite thing about the straps. What my husband and son both commented on and the first thing I noticed was how the loops go all of the way down the strap. This makes them super easy to use. No need to fiddle with adjustments. All we have to do is wrap the straps around a tree, put them through one of the loops and use our carabiner to hook into one of the other loops. Super easy yet durable too. The straps easily held our weight. None of us weigh over 150 pounds so I'm not sure how they would do with more weight but it looks like they would handle it well. The product description does say that the straps have a 500 pound capacity.

The carry bag included with the straps make it easy to pack the straps in our backpack. They weigh under a pound so they're a good option for a multi-day backpacking trip for those thinking of foregoing a tent.

I'm sure our hammock straps will get plenty of use and I feel great about recommending them to my readers with a five star rating.

Rating: ★★★★★

Vbiger Outdoor Touchscreen Gloves #Review

Disclosure: Product received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

I'm notorious for buying cheap stretch gloves at dollar stores for running. I have way too many of those laying around my house and frankly, they're not that great for keep out the wind on a cold day. I'm happy to finally get the opportunity to try a pair of decent gloves for my active outdoor activities.

The Vbiger Outdoor Touchscreen Gloves are prefect now that the weather is getting colder. The first time I wore them running, I worried that I would get too warm and have to take them off. The wind was blowing just enough to make it feel colder than the thermostat reading. The Vbiger gloves kept the cold wind from cutting through to my hands. 

I've never had a pair of touchscreen gloves and never saw the need for them. However, the tips work really well on my cell phone and my iPod. It's super nice not to have to take off my gloves to turn up my music or to skip a song while  running. I'll definitely use these gloves while using my phone.

I've purchased running specific gloves for family members that are more expensive than these and I don't think they are any better. My husband tried these on and said they are as nice as the pair I bought for him that cost over $20. I'll definitely be buying another pair for gifting since the Vbiger gloves are cheaper.

I also like these for winter hiking and snowshoeing. I don't like wearing bulky ski gloves for winter activities when I'm moving the whole time. These gloves are perfect for winter activities where I don't need to dress as warm but still need to stay warm. They grip well with my hiking poles. I haven't tried them for biking yet but I plan to. Overall, an excellent pair of outdoor gloves for winter activities.

Rating: ★★★★★

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Reminding Us What is Important: Brilliant Marketing = Fun with REI's #OptOutside Campaign

It seems every Thanksgiving in our extended family is always under some stress mostly because of the people that have to work on Thanksgiving or the day after. Trying to plan around those who have to work has always put a damper on fun family time. What's worse is the times we have chosen to venture out on Black Friday. Those in the family who had to work retail were miserable as were those of us who thought it was a good idea to shop. 

I have to admit, when I first heard about REI's #OptOutside Campaign, my first thought was what a great thing they were doing for their employees by giving them the busiest shopping day of the season off with pay. Then I realized it what a brilliant campaign it really is for REI. 
My family loves the outdoors, but sometimes I have been guilty of going out on Black Friday for things I don't really need or want just to make my kids happy on Christmas. I learned that they are really the happiest when we spend time with them instead of giving them things. I've committed to making sure we planned something fun together outside this year. So far the consensus is taking a ski day.
Back to why REI's campaign is brilliant. We need outdoor gear to have fun outside and the first place I thought about to purchase the gear was REI. Why not support a retailer who reminds of what is important right?

Kahtoola Microspikes at REI

One of the things my family loves is hiking outdoors. I'm the only one who has a pair of Kahtoola Microspikes and they get borrowed a lot. At least two people in the family have them on their shopping list so of course I bought one pair at REI already. I didn't want to wait until after Thanksgiving as we might need them to #Optoutside if we decide to hike instead of ski.

Honestly, in the long run I don't really care if the #OptOutside campaign is a marketing ploy that worked on me. What I care about is that my family is looking at options of what we can do on Black Friday to enjoy the outdoors with each other. Whether it be snowshoeing, skiing or sledding, we'll be outside somewhere enjoying the snow.

We'll also be supporting all of the companies who support our mission to get outside. Thanks to all of the companies making a stand against the most frenetic shopping day of the year.

What will you be doing on Black Friday to #Optoutside. We want to know. Leave us a comment.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Kodachrome Basin State Park Hikes: Angel's Palace

One of the things I love about state parks is that they're not usually as busy as the national parks nor as high an entrance fee. However, that doesn't mean they're not just as beautiful. I always find some hidden treasure inside the state parks that I didn't know about. Such is the case with Kodachrome Basin State Park near the town of Cannondale, Utah. This state park is actually within the boundaries of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument but was designated a state park before the designation of the Grand Staircase.

The park boasts a total of 67 monolithic stone spires known called sedimentary pipes. Several short hikes within the park give fabulous views of these spires.

One of most popular and easiest hiking trails is the 1.5 mile Angel's palace loop. The trail is rated easy to moderately strenuous. I hiked it with my husband and teenage son and found it to be easy enough even younger children could handle it. The trail starts across the street from the parking lot and is marked with a sign at the trailhead. After passing over a footbridge, the trail is well worn and hard to miss.

The trail goes through a small canyon type landscape with a 150 elevation change. Very little shade exists on the trail and gets hot during the summer months making it better to visit in spring or fall. As the elevation changes, so do the views which get more scenic with the mountains and badlands.The path may have some loose rocks along the way but for the most part, the footing is good and can easily be hiked in regular athletic shoes or even hiking sandals. Once at the top of the climb, hoodoo formations can be seen in the background as well as two toned mountain formations. There is even a ledge to walk out on with a drop off to walk out on.

Since the hike is short and easy, be sure to make the drive to the Shakespeare Arch trailhead and do that hike as well on the same day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It's Pine Bros.® Time of Year Again

         Disclosure: Product received at no charge in exchange for honest post and review

Now that cold and flu season is upon us, I'm happy to replenish my stash of Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops. Between sore throat from illness to scratchy throat from dry air caused by indoor heating, I'm always looking for something that will soothe my throat.

I've tried almost all of the other Pine Bros. flavors before but this is the first time I've had a chance to try the Lemon Citrus flavor. While this new flavor didn't dethrone the licorice for me, it did move up as my second favorite.

While I don't suck on Pine Bros. just because they taste good, it does make it easier to use eat them if I like them. What I really like about Pine Bros. is that they're made with plant glycerin which acts as a natural demulcent. This helps coat my throat which in turn helps soothe it. I really do notice the feeling of my throat being coated.
Pine Bros. drops come in two different packaging options, a 32 drop value size bag or the 26 drop plastic container. I love the plastic container for the times I'm on the go. It fits nicely in my purse and keeps the drops clean from whatever else might be lurking inside.

I prefer Pine Bros. over other throat lozenges, especially the menthol type. I don't like my mouth and throat to feel hot. Instead, I prefer the gentle soothing of the Pine Bros. I know I might be the exception to the crowd, but I like the licorice flavor over all of them. It's hard to find a black licorice fan but I'm definitely one of those. No matter what flavor you prefer, it's nice to have a choice of throat drops that really soothe. I definitely have no problem recommending Pine Bros. to my readers. While I haven't seen every flavor on the shelf, I have seen Pine Bros. throat drops at my local Walgreens.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Shakespeare Arch Kodachrome Basin State Park #Utah

Shakespeare Arch - Kodachrome Basin State Park

Kodachrome Basin State Park is located inside of the Grand Staircase-Escalante 7 miles south of Cannonade, Utah along highway 12. The park boasts many multi-colored rock formations. One of the most stunning is the pink rock formation, Shakespeare Arch.

Shakespeare Arch is located along the Sentinel Trail, an easy 1.7 mile loop trail suitable for hikers of all ages.

The trail is well marked along the way with very few elevation changes. The beauty of the desert landscape with the backdrop of the rock formations throughout the hike, make it worth the $5 entry fee to get into the park. During the summer months it gets hot so be sure bring a water bottle.

The trail starts out flat and passes through a break in a wooden fence. The trail continues with an easy climb up a gentle grade. The views to the left of the hoodoo style formations are spectacular. After walking over some rolling hills, Shakespeare Arch will appear straight ahead. It's the only natural arch in Kodachrome Basin so it's a must see.

Though I don't have a photo, Sentinel Spire does tower over the trail above Shakespeare Arch. The trail goes to Sentinel Spire where you can continue on the loop or retrace your steps. A good pair of athletic shoes will be sufficient for the hike.

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