Zippity-Doo-Dah: Zipcar and Disney (First timers, both!)

One of my very least favorite elements of vacationing is researching and price comparison of rental cars if we happen to be flying to our destination. Since our kids are getting a little older (read more manageable outside the home) we have started flying again. Thank goodness -- 6,000 mile road trips are not for the feint of heart and are certainly not in our annual budget!

Photo Credit: Adventures of Mommyhood; Zipcar Florida family vacation.

A New Way to Rent

What we found in our own firsthand experience is that rental car companies have not-so-great customer service. The search engines are clunky and you end up with 19 pop-ups just to find out that a standard compact car will cost you hundreds from the airport--so good luck finding the  larger vehicle that you really need for less! Hidden fees are aggravating. It's all almost enough to make you start thinking about hitting the pavement in your own vehicle because flying and renting is a pain. Until we found out about Zipcar. Granted, the system was intended for those without wheels -- cars of convenience. We felt that we'd be able to figure out how to make it advantageous for our Florida family vacation -- and we found we were totally correct!

Photo Credit: Adventures of Mommyhood;
Zipcar "Minnie" the Dodge Grand Caravan

Zipcar - Wheels, When You Want Them

Zipcar is a car-sharing company based here in the United States with services offered in some Canadian cities as well. We came across the company by literally searching "alternatives to rental cars." I was sick of searching within the price comparisons sites and doing the math, wondering IF we were really saving anything at all or just wasting time. We really wanted to avoid the typical Enterprise, Budget, Avis, etc. kiosks. But we still didn't want to rely solely on the Magical Express when it came to our Walt Disney World vacation. Control freaks? Yes, yes we are. I was going to be leaving my kids with my husband for full-days and I wanted them to have respite from the parks -- not just easy access from Magic Kingdom and Epcot (where I was and where the monorail led them) but also if they decided to do Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom -- or venture back into Orlando for a "nap drive." 

Zipcar Considerations

Annual Fee - minimal for year around access 
Toll passes - included with your rental and any accrued tolls will simply come into your account, rather than making you stop each time! 
Fuel it Forward - Always try to leave the tank filled 3/4 or more for the next driver! Remember, that next driver could be you!
Navigation and other Perks - You can see what each vehicle is loaded with and many have the latest and greatest technology and add-ons.
Photo Credit: Adventures of Mommyhood;
 "Minnie" finally makes it to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Less Waiting - No representative to deal with as with conventional car rentals - just reserve, swipe
your card and drive!
Reservation system/shuttle - We loved that we could look at not the "class or type" of rental (mid-size, compact, etc.) but the ACTUAL individual car you want to rent. When we rented "Minnie" we could look at the profile for that van. So there was no guesswork about what it had for features.
Daily fee + tax - the fee will usually end up a tad higher than a traditional rental car IF you want a long-term rental, BUT the difference is time for us. You save time, which is a priceless commodity.
Wheels when you want them - This is a great option for frequent flyers and college students or those that simply choose not to own a car.

If you're still not sure, make sure you tune in for our next installment about Zipcar. We really grew to love "Minnie" and our Zipping experience!

Have you tried Zipcar? Have you heard of Zipcar? Are you frustrated with the old school rental car debacle and want to know more?! Let me know your questions and experiences!



Chapul - Cooking with Crickets!

We've been in a "creative eating" phase in our family this past year. Not too crazy -- we've pulled frozen ants from logs and indulged in chocolate covered mealworms at Christmas... The boys are interested in bugs, so we're letting them explore alternate protein sources!

Chapul

You may have seen the episode of Shark Tank when Chapul appeared--the one where they revealed that it was crickets inside the energy bars with the corny yet appropriately delivered joke about frogs being happy because......

They eat what bugs them! 

Yes, great joke. I was interested as I tuned in, the pitch was full of smart ideas -- beyond the cute joke -- centering around water conservation. This issue is one that I've been increasingly aware and concerned with as I watch my boys grow in an uncertain world, listening to the news of droughts, crazy weather, agriculture challenges, and many more issues that are all related to water conservation. I appreciate anyone stepping up to try and solve those issues. 

The Meat and Bones ... Err, The Crickets


The bars contain crickets -- that's not really a secret, since the cricket emblem is on the front of the packaging. Many folks don't know how sustainable cricket protein is though. Crickets are farmed and they are super rich in protein and micronutrients that we are seeking out in our diets already. Why not put them in an energy bar? Sustainability is important to our family of natural resource-minded adventurers.

As I searched out soy-free options that could easily be stuffed into our packs when we hike this summer. I didn't tell anyone about the cricket part until after the initial tasting and the results were mixed. 

I'm excited to try the cricket flour, so I can determine the taste of it alone and then try the bars again. I went for the Aztec bar immediately, but my frail palette could not get past the cayenne -- my husband tells me the coffee was bold and delicious, mixed with the dark chocolate, but my mouth was on fire and I couldn't distinguish the other flavors well. I am such a weenie when it comes to heat! 

So, I moved on to a more delicate and familiar combination -- chocolate and peanut butter! In the absence of cayenne, I was able to savor the flavors better. With the plain flour for baking, I will hopefully taste the differences from traditional flours we use and figure out what the mild taste of the cricket really is. The concensus? Chapul bars are yummy!

Your Turn!

Have you experienced insects in food? Maybe visited another country where eating insects is more widely offered in daily life? Would you consider eating cricket protein? Let me know what you think of this concept!


Get your own sampler by entering the Summer Lovin' giveaway hop!! 


Disclosure: I received a complimentary sampler of the Chapul bars to try out!

Naturally Purifying the Air in Our Home

This content contains links to sponsor partner sites.

We recently picked up one of those mold kits at our local Home Depot to see what might be growing in our home. We have a slab-on-grade build and it's not so wonderful when it comes to moisture. Sure enough, the kit came back positive. We have pollen from our many pines outside. We have cats and a dog and likely a ton of dander. I'm not the best housekeeper so we have some dust too!

In the summer time, I open our windows wide and feel like we're getting fresh, clean(er) air. But in the dead of winter it's harder and I've been looking for ideas to help our issues until we can make some more major home improvements. One of the recent discoveries I made while at a friends' barbecue party was the Himalayan Salt lamp.

I've been EATING pink Himalayan salt in my candy bars for a while now. It's pretty much the best thing my taste buds have encountered in a manufactured wrapper in a while. BUT apparently the salt can also be purchased in the form of a lamp! Who knew? The salt lamp not only created beautiful ambience, it also apparently helps to naturally purify your indoor air.

I'm super excited to be given the coincidentally well-timed opportunity to try out one of these lamps. I don't have the means to tell whether or not they work as I'm not to the Big Bang Theory level of intelligence and geekery (though I WISH I were!) But, I'm excited nonetheless and they are very pretty!

I have partnered with US Family Guides and The Himalayan Salt Shop to try a lamp and also give a special discount code to those of you that might be in the market for a lamp, too! Use code: USFAMILY for 20% off your order.

So here is a quick video if you want to learn more from someone who knows more about it than I do!



Tell me about your experience with Himalayan Salt Lamps! 

Summer Lovin' in Time for Shark Week with Shark Tank!


Summer is on the horizon, schools are (mostly) out for the season, and we're anxiously awaiting Shark Week in this household. We're also celebrating our love of summer with a bunch of sites that are also into Summer Lovin!!

Since Shark Week kicks off this month, I figured we'd kick off the fun with a Shark Tank themed prize package this time! Sweet, right? Yes. Yes, it is!

I've compiled some of the most fun, unique and useful items that have appeared on Shark Tank for one reader to win! Good luck!

Don't forget to enter the GRAND PRIZE and hop around to all the other sites with fun, summery prizes too! (There's a bunch of links at the end of this post to help you hop along!)

Can't find the toilet at night without blinding lights? No problem. Kids bang a hole in the wall playing kung fu warrior? Got ya covered. Bugs getting in through the screens that could use some TLC? We're on it. Really -- there is a BUNCH of truly innovative, amazing and just plain fun stuff on Shark Tank and I wanted to curate a little mini-collection so some of my favorites from the show for you to enjoy and explore here!





a Rafflecopter giveaway





DISCLOSURE:

So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, and Adventures of Mommyhood as well as any participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Must be 18 years of age to enter. Open to the US and Canada. I received samples of some products to facilitate consumer reviews. All opinions are my own. The television show Shark Tank and ABC are in no way affiliated with this giveaway. Discovery Channel and Shark Week are all in no way affiliated with this post or event. They are simply two of my favorites -- think of it like a themed birthday party! Enjoy!


Fashionably Fresh: prAna + Stonyfield Organics Satisfy #SummerCravings + prAna Giveaway!!!

What do you crave during summer? Soft, breathable material in the form of a cute, sustainably made dress? An organic whole milk Greek yogurt that can be dressed up with fresh blackberries? Satisfy BOTH cravings with Stonyfield and prAna--my solution? 

Slip on a prAna Garland Tee, from the prAna organic cotton line, put on the tea kettle for my morning coffee and use my manual food processor to blend up blackberries, fresh local honey, and of course, some Stonyfield whole milk Greek yogurt. I put this into some little treat trays that are absolutely made for kids but work well for adult treats too! As I start my day this way, drinking my hot coffee, watching the sun rise, and looking forward to my fresh, cool treat that will satisfy my craving for a healthy, cool snack in the mid-day sun, I feel like I REALLY have my "poop in a scoop" as a mom today! [Sorry to mix a delicious snack vision with one of poop-scooping, but it's pretty much my go to saying!] This is a tart yet sweet treat that will silence future requests for sugary otter pops!

As for the tee? It's totally casual for all occasions but nice enough that you don't have that "rolled out of bed" rumpled look when you take the kids to summer day camp! Pairings like this are the secret to my summer sanity success. Do what you can, well. Want to try my strategy? I have an exclusive prAna savings discount (for a limited time) for my readers to choose something to satisfy your summer cravings for sustainable style too! 


SCS16AMJO - 15% off exclusive discount for MY readers (to be used at prAna.com)

·       Not valid on Gift Certificates or valid with any other offers 
·       Valid June 1 – July 7, 2016
 

One of you will score the look I'm loving -- you'll be mailed a Garland Tee in MINT. To enter, simply fill out the form below!! Good luck!




a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: I am a Stonyfield Yo-Getter. As such, posts such as this one contain sponsored content and I may have received complimentary products and/or compensation in some form for my participation. All opinions are my own. Fulfillment of giveaways are the responsibility of the sponsor and Adventures of Mommyhood and/or any associated blogs and/or bloggers may not be held responsible for prize redemption. Must be 18 to enter. 

Calling All Future Engineers! Save 60% Off ROBOTS-4-U Summer Camps!

Who is a fan of The Big Bang Theory?? I love the show and I can only hope that my boys are smarties like the characters portrayed on the show. If your kids have an interest in engineering (or if you just want to expose them to something they wouldn't have access to in most "regular" settings) THIS is for you!

ROBOTS-4-U Summer Camps Now Enrolling and my readers save 60% Off with Code: TEX1660M15 


Act quickly! This deal expires 3/31!!

Where Fun, Thinking & Learning comes to Life! 






There are camps all over the country, including Minneapolis and Orlando!

The camps are five days long. The ratio of campers to instructors is 16:1 -- lots of hands on interaction! Age ranges from 7 to 14 and it's a fantastic way to spend a week of summer vacation, keeping those synapses firing!  Camps are offered June, July, and August. Boys and girls are both encouraged to attend, beginners to expert, there is something for every level! Each camper uses a Robotics or Dynamic Art kit. For more information and specifics, visit the Robots 4 U website.




Disclosure: I was able to construct this post due to a partnership with USFamily Guide and Robots-4-U. All opinions are my own. 

How I Got Back to My Wedding Weight After Two Kids

Holy cow! TWO months? That time flew. I know we were facing down much more frigid temperatures and the thought of exercising outside was laughable. (Some folks run in subzero weather but not this kid.) Two months ago, I started my second journey with Nutrisystem. Two kids, two successful adventures with Nutrisystem.

Today I am within spitting distance of my WEDDING weight!!! I've lost exactly 20 pounds in two months. I have one month to go and not by pure coincidence, one month until DISNEY (and the beach!) What I've noticed now that I'm about eight pounds heavier than I was when I said "I Do" five years ago is this: the scale says the same thing, BUT five years, two kids, a sedentary job and a totally different life have led to a different body labeled with those same numbers.

But the numbers do not matter. Sure, my hips are wider: I have two adorable, wild boys in exchange for that. I have what my son so flatteringly calls a "big belly." No matter how much I run, it's never going to be flat. I'm okay with that. I have less muscle than I did when I was fresh off of an exercise program for firefighting that had me running several miles a day, at least five days a week. I've changed. Inside and out.

What matters to me? I'm healthier than I was two months ago. It's easier to move. My mood is lighter, as am I. I'm two clothing sizes down -- outward appearance is certainly a pleasant side-effect of losing weight, but what I really love about this new me is that I've gotten some of my life back! I can run and play with my kids without dreading it. I am not as tired. In about 60 days, taking each day one at a time, I've been able to carve out a better existence. Nutrisystem made the change easy (at least the food part.)

What works for me is a slow progression into exercise again. The first week on the program I was able to lose weight with little exercise changes. After that, I was motivated to keep the scale descending. Exercise became a fun experiment. Weighing myself kept me on track. Progress. Slow and steady REALLY DOES win the race!

Now, with spring around the corner, I've signed up for a few 5K races. This will keep me accountable when my third and last month of Nutrisystem has come and gone. I'm loving life again.

Are you ready for a change? This road is not an easy one to travel, friends, but it's not that hard either! I never thought I'd see the numbers I did today on my scale -- but I never thought I'd see 200 on that little digital reader either! Change is possible!
 

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