Frugal Novice

Family Road Trip Destination: Portland, Oregon

This is a sponsored post partnered with Legacy Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I’ve traveled to many states around the country, but have never made it to any along the west coast. Portland, Oregon is one city that I’ve always wanted to go to, and it would make a great long weekend road trip from anywhere in the northwest. Here are a few great ideas for things you can do in Portland for a fun, kid-friendly visit:

Pips & Bounce: You might think it’s odd to suggest a bar as a family destination, but this one is definitely a place the whole family will enjoy – and it’ll get you moving, too. How? Ping pong! This bar boasts 10 ping pong tables and a broad menu (kids meals, too) along with craft cocktails. There’s something for everyone and it would make a unique lunch stop, for sure.

• Playdate PDX: This is a family-owned indoor playground and café meant for adults and kids to both enjoy. They boast a three-level jungle gym, ball cannon room, two interactive dance floors, and a toddler room for ages 3 & under. Their cafe serves pizza, salads, paninis, wraps, kombucha, craft beer, local Oregon wine, and espresso drinks – perfect for adults to relax while the kids burn off some energy. 

Oaks Amusement Park: This park has been running since 1905, and is located in a historic neighborhood in Portland. There are 20 rides, a roller skating rink, miniature golf, arcade games, concessions, and more.

Family Road Trip Destination: Philadelphia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Reedman Toll Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Springfield. All opinions are honest and are my own.

It’s summer, and that means vacation time for many families. Sometimes that means jetting across the country – or across the world – and sometimes it means hopping in the car for a road trip. If you’re in the northeast, Philadelphia is a great road trip destination for families. Here are a few of the best kid-friendly activities in Philadelphia to make your road trip a great one:

Please Touch Museum: This museum is just what it sounds like – a place where kids are encouraged to touch and interact with everything inside. There’s a miniature supermarket, a hedge maze that feels like you’re in a fairy tale, a STEAM-friendly water area with lots of opportunities for experimenting, a car room, a rocket room, a camping room, a garden, and much more.

• Franklin Square: This is one of Philadelphia’s five original squares, so there’s a definite historic element to it that’s very cool, but it’s also a super-fun place filled with kid-friendly options. The center of the square is the fountain, which is being updated this summer to include lights, music, and “dancing” water. There’s also a miniature golf course with 18 holes, and there are all sorts of fun nods to history like the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Liberty Bell. The classic carousel is always a hit, and SquareBurger is a place any kid would love to eat, with burgers, hot dogs and more.

• Treetop Quest Philly: This aerial adventure park lets you maneuver from tree to tree through obstacles and zip-lines. There are over 60 to choose from, and safety is a priority so you and your kids (ages 4 and up) can have a blast without worry.

Dodge Ram Truck as a Family Vehicle? Yep – Here’s Why

This is a sponsored post partnered with Three Rivers Chrysler Jeep Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

When you think of a family vehicle, what’s your first thought? If you’re like me, it’s a minivan (and yep, our family has one!). Or if you have a smaller family, you might think of a sedan. Did any of you think truck? Before I learned more about the 2019 Dodge Ram 1500, I wouldn’t have – but y’all, with this truck your family can have the best of both worlds… and here’s why:

Great seats. The Ram features a rear seat fold-down center console (great for if you have two kids and need cupholders, available reclining rear seats (perfect for long drives when the kids might want to nap) and rear seat ventilation.

Plenty of leg room. The Ram has a generous 45.1 inches of rear legroom. I used to think trucks would be too cramped for a family, but this proves me wrong.

Loads of charging capability. When you’ve got multiple people traveling in a vehicle, that means you’ve also typically got lots of devices going down the road with you. The center console in the front row can charge up to FIVE phones – an especially amazing feature on road trips.

• Storage, storage, and more storage. Of course, when you think of a truck you know there’s a ton of room in the bed of the truck – but that’s exposed to the elements. If you put a tarp over items and pack things in plastic bins, you can weatherproof your luggage and take advantage of all that space. BUT the 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 also has more interior storage than you’d expect. You can fold up the rear seat to access available under-seat storage, with compartments that can store up to 40 liters with the fold out feature. There are also available in-floor storage Ram Bins, which are 5.5 inches longer than in the previous model. There is also a rear flat-load floor to provide additional passenger comfort, usability and extra cargo storage. As a mom, I’m allllll about storage, so this makes me happy – and it’s just one more way this truck makes for a perfect family vehicle.

Customized Skin Care Line That’s Totally Y’OURS

I received a custom skin care system from Y’OUR skin care with four products to facilitate this review. I was not compensated monetarily. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I’m 37 years old, and I’ve had what I’d call “trouble” skin since I was about 9 years old. When I was a kid, it didn’t bother me a bit, but I spent a lot of my teenage years feeling angsty about it, for sure. The fact that I was breaking out because of hormones and reacting to how I felt about it because of hormones felt like a double-edged sword.

Now that I’m in my 30’s my skin doesn’t break out regularly, but each month, about a week before I start, my skin goes haywire and I get 4-5 problem spots. And since I’m reaching my upper 30’s, I’m starting to see the signs of aging. This is primarily in smile lines around my eyes, so I’m honestly not too fazed by it (I mean, it just shows I’ve had a lot of reasons to smile in my life, right?) but it is a reminder to me that now’s the prime time to really pamper my skin before more wrinkles start showing up.

I’ve tried lots of different products in my quest to find better skin, and I’ve had lots of let downs along the way. I’ve never thought of myself as having sensitive skin, but so many products have caused additional breakouts – particularly the anti-aging cremes I’ve tried.

When I heard about Y’OUR skin care (y-ourskin.com), I was intrigued. The idea of a skin care system customized to my particular blend of needs was instantly appealing, but I wanted to learn a little more before I decided whether to get excited about it.

I went and took their quiz, which is what Y’OUR uses to determine the products they send. I was expecting something fairly generic, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised at how the questions got to the bottom of what’s going on with my skin. I was able to input information about my breakouts, about how they happen typically now during PMS, about how sometimes new products break me out, and about my new-ish concern about wrinkle prevention. But it didn’t stop there, and that’s when I started to realize this company was different than what I’d encountered in the past.

Y’OUR also asks questions about your environment, because they recognize that there is more than genetics at play in what happens with our skin. I loved this aspect of the quiz, because living in a dry, dusty climate certainly influences what’s happening on my face.

I received my kit about a week after taking the quiz. I love, first of all, that this is a system for my skin. Too often in the past I’ve just hodge-podged different products together, not thinking at all about how those different brands might work together – or against each other. This kit includes four different products, and told me exactly how and when to use each one.

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I’m also an incredibly low-maintenance person. So, while I care about my skin, I also have to admit that I don’t care enough to invest an hour each day in it – which is another reason the Y’OUR skin care kit is so appealing to me. It’s easy and fast, and that’s a priority for me at this point in my life!

In the mornings I use the cleanser (just a dime-sized amount) to wash my face, and then I follow it up with the day cream. At night, I remove my makeup, then use the cleanser, serum, and night cream. All in all it takes less than 5 minutes, which I’m on board for.

Serum is used at night right after the cleanser. It goes on light and isn’t oily at all, which I was a little worried about before trying it.

Here’s what you really want to know, though – does it work? Well, I’ve been using it for about three weeks now, because I really wanted to test this out before giving any sort of opinions about it. I was honestly nervous that it was going to make me break out, despite the fact that I had told Y’OUR in the quiz that products have broken me out in the past.

Here’s my “starting night” photo. This is sans makeup, and post-nighttime routine.

You can see some remnants of my breakouts, and the redness in my skin. I also have large pores, which thankfully you can’t really see too much unless you’re right up in my face.

And here’s about a week and a half after starting using Y’OUR products:

My skin looks redder in this photo because we’d spent the day outside, but at this point I was starting to notice that my skin was a lot calmer overall. Breakouts were noticeably lessened once I started using the Y’OUR products.

Here is my most recent photo, taken three weeks after the first one:

First of all, excuse my crazy hair. It has a mind of its own sometimes. But y’all – my forehead has been smooth, and breakouts have continued to be held largely at bay.

I’m incredibly impressed with the Y’OUR products. My skin has felt smoother, softer, and like it has more of a glow to it. My foundation goes on more smoothly, too.

The photo of the products at the top of the post is a three-month supply. When the products first arrived I was incredibly skeptical that it could really last that long, but now that I’m nearly a month in I can see that it’s an accurate estimate, because you really don’t have to use much at a time. A three-month supply is $180 or it can be paid out in $65/month installments. The price made me pause for a moment when I first learned about the company, but the effectiveness of the products and their dedication to providing customized plans for consumers makes the cost make sense. You’re just not going to find a customized system like this over the counter or in drugstores.

Another note: I love that Y’OUR will re-formulate your products for free up to two times during this three-month period so that you can for sure end up with products that work great for you. And they’re really proud of the quality of their ingredients and process – clean ingredients, no fillers, paraben & toxin free, made in the USA, and no animal testing. This makes me feel good, too, that I’m not having to sacrifice my safety standards for effective results.

Be sure and pop over to y-ourskin.com to take the quiz today – it’s free and easy (and fun, honestly – I’m always a sucker for a good quiz!), and it’ll get you thinking about all the factors that come into play with regard to your skin. And check out their awesome blog post with tips for getting rid of acne (yes please!) while you’re at it. Your skin will thank you.

Why You Should Get Your Tires Rotated

This is a sponsored post partnered with Williams Brother Dundee. All opinions are honest and are my own.

When you own a car, there are many aspects of its care you have to consider. Some things may be more common sense to people, like getting the oil changed – but many people don’t think about having their tires rotated. This is an important part of car care (you should have it done every 5,000-7,500 miles), though, and here’s why:

  1. You want your car‘s tires to wear as evenly as possible. If you don’t rotate your tires, the front tires might wear more on the outside edges, and those front tires will wear down more quickly overall. If you have your tires rotated, the front tires will be switched to the back, allowing you to keep the wear from being largely on two of the tires.
  2. When your tires are rotated and are wearing evenly, your ride will be safer and you’ll have better handling of your vehicle. While your tires are being rotated the air pressure will also be checked.
  3. One other reason to have tires rotated regularly is that your tire warranty may require it. Be sure and check warranty details to make sure if this is something you should be doing!

When you have tires rotated, here are the things that should take place:

  • Tires should be examined for wear and tear, and treads should be looked at to see if they’re too low.
  • The tire’s date code should be checked. The last four digits indicate the tire’s age – safety experts recommend not using tires older than six years, so it’s good to know what you’re working with.
  • Tires will be shifted to different positions on the vehicle than where they were before.

Get your tires rotated regularly and keep your car in tip-top shape!

Keep Your Pets Safe in the Car

This is a sponsored post partnered with Charlie’s Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

If you’ve got pets (dogs, especially) you’ve probably driven down the road with your furry friends in tow – at least to the vet’s office, if nothing else. You may not know it, but you might have put your pet at risk if you weren’t following proper safety protocol. Here are a few tips to make sure Fido is safe and sound:

  1. Use a restraint on your pet while in the car. If you’re in a fender bender, dogs can suffer broken bones or other injuries if they’re not properly restrained. There are easy step-in harnesses you can use on your dog – no matter what its size.
  2. One problem we have with our large lab/golden retriever is that she loves to try and get right up next to us while we’re driving. If she starts nudging us with her nose, or bumping into the steering wheel, she can create an unsafe driving situation, which isn’t good for anyone. There are products called back seat barriers to keep your pets in the back where they belong. This also makes it safer for passengers if there is a car accident of some kind.
  3. Make sure your pet is getting plenty of air conditioning pointed their way so they don’t get overheated. There’s a product called the Noggle which lets you extended the A/C from the front to the back seat – it’s meant for babies and young children, but works great for our furry babies too.
  4. Make sure your windows aren’t rolled down too far. Dogs love to stick their heads out of car windows and feel the breeze on their faces, but they could fall out – in fact, one of our dogs once jumped right out of a moving vehicle – thankfully he wasn’t injured, but it totally freaked my husband out!

Make sure to keep your furry friends safe while they’re on the road with you, and then take them out for lots of fun this summer!

Get Your Car Summer-Ready

This is a sponsored post partnered with Roberts Honda. All opinions are honest and are my own.

While summer doesn’t officially hit until mid-June, it’s basically here now temperature-wise for many states. And although we talk a lot about preparing our vehicles for the winter, summer preparation tips can get overlooked all-too-easily. It’s just as important to get your car ready for the hot months ahead. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Check your car battery. Heat can be hard on your battery, so have it in tip-top shape ahead of summer. Clean any corrosion off terminals, and make sure that the clamps are still secure. If you can’t remember when you got your battery, it’s a good sign that it might be time to have it checked. You can have this done at your local dealership or at many car-part stores, and it’s a quick and easy process.

2. Check your fluid levels. Make sure your oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and more are all at appropriate quantities.

3. Make sure your filters are clean. You’ll be using the cabin air filter a lot as you blast the AC, and you want to make sure clean air is piping into your car for your family to breathe.

4. Check your tires. When the temperature changes rapidly your tire pressure can drop, and you can end up with tires that aren’t safe to drive on. Summer can often be rainy, and you want to make sure your tires are properly inflated (and that the tread isn’t too low) so you can maneuver slick roads with ease.

5. Change your windshield wipers – and put some Rain-X on your windshields, too – to be ready in case you encounter any sudden summer storms.

Now go take care of your car a bit and make sure its “beach bod” is ready to go!

Tips for Planning a Successful Family Road Trip

This is a sponsored post partnered with Miller Auto Group. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I’ll fully admit that I’m a planner, so when my family goes on road trips, I’m in my happy place getting us ready for a smooth journey. I thought I’d share some of my planning approaches that have helped us have successful trips:

  1. Plan your overnight stops ahead of time. If you’re going on a long trip that requires more than one day of driving, a hotel stay – and a break from being in the car – is inevitable (if you all want to stay happy and sane, anyway). I like to use Google Maps to plot out the estimated drive time for the whole trip, and then I break our days down into reasonable chunks of driving. I don’t like for us to drive late at night, so I keep that in mind, too. By planning which cities we’re going to stay in, I’m able to research hotels – which leads me to my next point.
  2. Research hotels! I spend a good chunk of time doing this ahead of road trips, and it is totally worth it. I look for hotels that aren’t too far off our route, but I mainly look at ratings, reviews, and amenities. If we have a little wiggle room in our schedule I like to have us stay at hotels with great pools. Free (and decent) breakfasts are another amenity I look for, because it can save us money AND time by eating down in the hotel lobby instead of having to stop somewhere once we get loaded in the car.
  3. Pack separate suitcases for hotel stops. It makes life much simpler if you just have to unload one suitcase with clothes for everyone rather than several separate bags. This also allows you to contain dirty clothes in separate containers, leaving your big suitcase uncluttered for the main part of the trip.
  4. Look up fun stops along your route. These don’t have to be afternoon-long excursions, but can be something as simple as a scenic overlook to stop and stretch at, or a fun ice cream shop the kids would enjoy. These little moments break up the monotony of being in the car, and they re-energize everyone. They can also be used as rewards for kids if you’re having a hard time with behavior in the car.

Hopefully these tips will help your road trips be smooth and a lot of fun!

Items to Keep in Your Glove Compartment (Besides Gloves!)

This is a sponsored post partnered with Cerritos Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Back in the day, the glove compartment of vehicles was actually used to house people’s gloves. Nowadays, despite the name, there are many other items that are a good idea to store in your car’s glove compartment. Of course there are the standard items: owners manual, insurance card/information, vehicle registration paperwork, etc. What else could be considered a “must have” for any car’s interior?

Here is a list of some simple household items that you always seem to need in your car, but can’t find. Storing these in your glove compartment is a perfect solution. Things you might want to include are:

Napkins, paper towels, or towels for any potential spills or messes that occur (if you’ve got kids or pets that ride in your car these are definite necessities!).

Ballpoint pen or mechanical pencil for times when you need to jot a note down, or perhaps endorse a check while waiting in line at the ATM. I like to keep several of each on hand in case the kids ever need one for homework in the car, or for drawing.

Mints or gum, in case you need to freshen your breath before a meeting, or if you might be feeling nauseous. Several members of our family get car sick easily, and having mints on hand has been really helpful.

Spare change, if you find yourself a few cents short at the drive-thru, or if you end up needing a small amount of money for some purpose while you’re out and about. If you live in an area with tolls or plan to travel through tolls soon, it’s imperative to have spare change. Some tolls will mail you a bill, but in Oklahoma you HAVE to have cash/change for the tolls.

Fingernail clippers, for that pesky hangnail or to cut tags off of new items.

Spare shopping bags, in case you need to throw something away, or hold a bunch of small items – or if someone gets sick!

But what else? How about some simple tools or electrical items for an emergency, such as:

Screwdrivers, both philips and flathead

Flashlight, with the batteries tested regularly

Wrench

Tire pressure gauge (always good to use when your vehicle’s low tire light is on)

Duct tape (it fixed everything, right?)

You might also keep a few energy bars or other nonperishable food items in the glove compartment, making sure to change them out before they expire. You never know when you get in a situation where you need that one thing that you always have, but can’t seem to find while on the road. It’s always good to be prepared!

Save Money on Vacations – by Driving!

This is a sponsored post partnered with Zeigler Chrysler Dodge Ram Kalamazoo. All opinions are honest and are my own.

How can driving on vacation save us money?

The summer holidays are fast approaching, but if the budget’s tight it can be hard to plan the perfect family vacation. Airfares are high, accommodation isn’t cheap and there’s usually activities to splash out on once you get there. Driving to your destination may not sound like your idea of a relaxing break, but it could leave you with more money in the bank and, if you play your cards right, some very happy kids! Here are some top tips for saving money on your driving holiday.

Stock up and save

One of the main advantages of driving on vacation is that you can take more with you. If you opt for a self-catered holiday, you might want to consider taking food supplies with you in your car – bring a cooler to make sure the things in your refrigerator don’t go to waste while you’re away. You can also save money by making sure you take everything the kids need to keep them entertained while you’re gone. After all, if they’ve got their favorite toys, electronics, and activities with them, they’re not going to be whining on the road about being bored, or asking to go shopping for something new.

Fuel savers

While driving may be a cheaper option compared with the cost of flights, we all know fuel isn’t free. There are, however, ways to conserve fuel and money, even on long road trips. Try to find the most economical route for your journey. Even if highways are the quickest option, they may not be the most fuel-friendly. If you have a GPS navigation system, it may have an option to help you choose the most economical route, so check yours out before setting off.

Another positive of avoiding the highways is that you’ll get a chance to actually enjoy the journey. The drive doesn’t have to be a chore, and, if you plan your route carefully, you might even have a chance to stop off and enjoy your surroundings on the way!

Explore

When you’ve got your own car to get you from A to B, you’re not restricted to staying in one place. Unlike when you fly abroad, you’ll be able to travel to different places, taking in new experiences. Consider staying in one place for a few days before moving on to another town. You’ll get a lot more for your money in local hotels and B&Bs, and you’ll be able to fit much more into your time away.

Go off the tourist trail

We all know that tourist-friendly areas are more expensive to visit. Save money by going off the tourist trail and into quieter areas. Restaurant prices, hotel rates and the cost of souvenirs are all likely to be lower if you go off the beaten track, and, thankfully, having your own car makes that a whole lot easier!

Make memories

Remember, making memories is free so all you have to do is enjoy yourself! Drive safely, take plenty of photos and enjoy your vacation!

What to Check on Your Car’s Tires

This is a sponsored post partnered with Moran St.Clair Chrysler Jeep Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Things to check for on your car’s tires

Your vehicle’s tires are like your shoes. There’s lots of wear and tear on them, they’re not always clean and shiny, but a definite necessity to get around. And like your shoes, you want to make sure that your car has good, efficient tires. Here are a few things to check for or keep an eye on regarding your tires:

You always need to be aware of the tread condition of your tires. A tire with worn or low treads will not have a good grip on the road, even in the best weather conditions. One thing to check regularly on your car is the depth of the tread on your tires. You can invest in a tire tread measurement tool from your local automotive store to accurately measure the depth. If you don’t have one handy, you can also use a penny to look at the depth (if you place the penny in the grooves of your tires and can see Lincoln’s head unobstructed, it’s most likely time for new tires. Some tires even have a wear indicator in the tread; there is usually a bar across the main trench of the tread, and if it’s the same depth as the tread, it’s probably time to replace.

In addition to the depth of the tread, you need to be aware of how the tread is wearing down across the tire. If your tires seem more bald on the interior or exterior of the tire, and it’s not even across the width of the tire… it’s probably a sign that your vehicle needs its alignment checked. If the tire seems more bald on both edges of the tire, it’s usually a sign that they are under-inflated. On the other hand, if they are more bald in the middle/center of the tire, most likely it’s a sign of overinflation. Keeping your eye on any potential wear spots of your tires is a good way to maximize fuel economy as well as safety.

Another good rule of thumb is to be mindful of the age of your tires. Tires are made of rubber, and over time that rubber can crack and weaken. Be it from extreme heat (or cold, in some instances), or dry conditions, tires will also begin to have weak spots from age. Keeping your tires newer also helps stabilize any potential risks when driving.

Another simple thing to check for is any debris that might be embedded in the tire. Sometimes items such as nails and screws can become lodged in a tire and not cause a leak. This is rare, but spotting any potential leaks in your tire helps make sure you don’t have a blowout when traveling at high speeds on the freeway, and saves you from having to change a flat on a busy road. In addition to the tread, also keep an eye on the sidewalls of your car’s tires. Any wear spots or scuffs from riding up on a curb poses a potential weaker spot that could eventually cause a flat, so be mindful of those as well.

It’s also a great idea to keep a tire pressure gauge in every vehicle you own. Most cars now have indicator lights letting the driver know if any tires are under pressure, but these are never perfect. Weather conditions can give you a false warning, so when in doubt, check it yourself. And also start practicing a good habit of checking each tire visually quickly before each drive.

You’d never want to walk around in shoddy shoes, so use the tips above to keep from driving around on unsafe tires.

Items to ALWAYS Check Before Driving

This is a sponsored post partnered with Akins Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Before driving off down the road, there are a few things you should ALWAYS check before departing. People tend to be more aware of these types of things on long road trips, but these are important even when going down the block. Following these safe guidelines will help ensure you make it to your destination without incident.

CHECK THE PERIMETER OF YOUR VEHICLE

This is always a key thing to do before driving anywhere. Walk around your vehicle before getting inside, paying particular attention to the ground around your car or truck. You never know who or what might have been near it recently, such as kids with bikes that they left on the ground, or a family pet that might be resting nearby. By checking around your vehicle, you help make sure that no obstacles might be in your blind spot once you’re inside your car.

In addition to checking around your vehicle, also pay attention to the condition of the exterior of your car. Do you notice any damage to your car, such as a dent or scratch you haven’t remember seeing recently? How can you be sure that it is in fact new, or if it is something that has been present without you noticing it for quite some time? It’s also good to check and make sure no parts of the vehicle are potentially damaged to the point that they might be a hazard to yourself or other drivers. You should also take note of any of your tires that could be flat or low on air.

SEATBELTS FOR ALL PASSENGERS

Once inside your vehicle, please make sure that ALL passengers, regardless of age or location in the vehicle, are properly buckled in. A person that isn’t buckled in is not only endangering themselves, but the other passengers in the vehicle, in any case of a wreck. A good rule to always enforce while driving is that all people present are securely buckled in, just in case of any incidents.

Also – are there any loose items that could pose a potential risk in the case of a wreck? Are there any heavy objects or loose debris that could cause injury if flung around in a wreck? All items should be properly stowed away in the trunk or secured safely.

MIRRORS

Once all passengers are buckled up, the driver should check both the side and rear view mirrors for optimal visibility. It’s always frustrating when you are driving down the highway and realize you can’t see anything on a side view mirror because it’s still set for a different driver or posture. By adjusting all the mirrors before driving off, you eliminate the risk of having to adjust them while in motion.

If you want to be extra careful before driving, you might also check both your lights and wipers to see if any of them are not functioning properly. These both are more for instances of driving in the evening or in precipitous weather, but a regular check of both is a good idea overall.

By following these simple guidelines, you will help eliminate a few risks before even starting your vehicle.