Lifestyle * Travel * Food

Jun 28, 2016

College Commuter Student's Perspective

Today's conversation is sponsored by the Michelin 

There is so much to think about when you are preparing to send your young adult children to college. Whether they are out of the state, in-state or local, there is a lot of planning involved. Both of our daughters attend college locally at the University of South Carolina, and commute back and forth. It was a united family decision that they both live at home at least for the first two years of college. It has been about 3 years now since my older daughter, Chardonnay started at USC and it has worked out with the commuting aside from the complaints of early wake-up times, traffic, or simply feelings of 'not wanting to drive today'. I've shared those feelings of not wanting to drive for many years (carpool pick-ups/drop-offs, sports, after-school activities, and more).

I asked Chardonnay to give me her personal list of pros and cons of living on campus vs off and here is what she came up with.

Pros of living on campus:
• Easy access to everything on campus, easier to get involved
• Easier to make friends because you have roommate, suitemates, people on your hall
• You can wake up 30 minutes before class starts and still be on time
• Don’t have to deal with traffic

Cons of living on campus:
• Might not have a car, so you might feel as if you’re stuck on campus
• More expensive to live on campus (cost of housing, meal plan, etc.)
• Limited meal options because of meal plans
• Not much privacy
• Homesickness

Pros of living off campus:
• More privacy and independence (depending on where you live)
• Home-cooked meals

Cons of living off campus:
• Have to get up much earlier to get to campus on time
• You can feel disconnected from campus
• Not as easy to make friends
• Spend more on gas
• Feeling of missing out

As a parent, I think that being there for your new college student both emotionally and physically are key to helping them make that transition. There were so many adjustments to be made during the first full year. One of them is when you decide to let you student have their own car. I'm sure my daughter must have been sick to death of me nagging about driver safety. An 18 year-old may think they know everything, but they have so much to learn when it comes to being responsible for their own car.

My husband had to go through so many details in regards to fueling up the vehicle, when you need an oil change or service, and using common sense to determine if there might be an issue with the tires or brakes. She has experienced a couple of minor fender benders, but seems to finally have a handle on being cautious and responsible when behind the wheel of a car. She never gets a single mile over the recommended oil change time, and gets her tires checked regularly. I guess on the perks of living at home is she can get assistance right away if there is any issue with the car.

Are you a parent of a college student or have a high school senior preparing for their next journey? You can share your stories or moments on social media using the #BeThereMoments hashtag and check out the stories on the Be There Moments website by Michelin. As parents, it is so important for us to simply be there for our college kids, don't you think?

Jun 24, 2016

How to Make Anything Taste Better With Finlandia Butter and Cheese

June is a special month.  It marks graduation, the start of summer, weddings, vacation season. But did you know that June is also National Dairy Month? Finlandia is a brand that has been crafting some of the highest quality cheese and butter for over a century. Their butter and cheese products are all-natural and do not contain additives such as growth hormones, preservatives, and dyes. All you get is pure deliciousness that you can feel good giving your family. 

Many of my family and friends refer to me as a food snob. I'm okay with that label and I think more people should be food snobs as well. Caring about the quality of your food and eating real food is important.  Finlandia Butter is made from pure, hormone-free milk, which comes from happy cows that live on family-owned farms in Finland—the greenest country on Earth.  No hidden chemicals, no factory farms—just pure, creamy goodness. Let me tell you something, Finlandia butter is perfection times 20! It's so creamy and delicious and perfect as a spread on your toast or incorporated in both sweet and savory dishes. 

I love a good omelet (or scramble as mine tends to turn into) and the addition of Finlandia butter and cheese make it extra tasty. Oh and you can't forget the crunchy buttered toast. 

When you put quality ingredients into your dishes, you will be able to taste the difference. I am currently obsessed with Finlandia's perfectly salted butter. I'm waiting on some bananas to get overripe so that I can bake up a loaf of banana bread. Oh, and I'm thinking about a nice pound cake too! 

Be sure to check out the Finlandia website and follow on Facebook for recipes and promotions. 

I received product samples in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and I absolutely love this brand!

Jun 23, 2016

Harmless Harvest Coconut Water Is The Real Deal

Do you ever have a taste of something or even a scent that transports you back to your childhood? I grew up in Miami, Florida and it was very common to see vendors on the street corners selling fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and various goods. One of my favorite things to get was the fresh water coconuts as we called it in my culture. You would get a fresh green coconut that was sitting in a huge cooler of ice and watch the vendor chop the top off with a machete. They would then stick a straw in it and hand it to you to enjoy. There is nothing that can compare to drinking that gorgeous chilled coconut water straight out of the actual coconut. Once you have experienced the real thing, you can't have it any other way. Fast forward... I have lived in South Carolina for close to 18 years and it has been more than 20 years since I have had coconut water like I did in Miami.

I was doing some crowd sourcing on Facebook a month or so ago asking what natural food or drink was rich in potassium. One of my old friends from Florida mentioned coconut water. I told her that would be a winner if I had access to proper coconut water like I did in Miami. She told me to look for one called Harmless Harvest. She is also Guyanese so she knows I know what real coconut water is supposed to taste like. I finally got around to trying it with full hesitation. You see, I've tried about 2 or 3 brands already and I ended up pouring it out in the sink from pure disgust. I took into consideration that Harmless Harvest is refrigerated and is simply organic coconut water with nothing added. It is free of GMOs, toxic pesticides, artificial additives, and irradiation.

I poured some in a glass and was a little intrigued by the pink color. Honestly, I didn't realize that it can be that color (clear to pink). I took my first sip and guess what? I was on transported back to being a kid again. It was the real deal and what coconut water should taste like. No lie, I closed my eyes each time I sipped. I can finally have that taste back in my life all the way up in South Carolina. You can find Harmless Harvest Coconut Water in grocery stores including Kroger, Publix, and Whole Foods in the refrigerated organic/health foods section near the produce department. Check out the amazing story behind Harmless Harvest here.
The back of this t-shirt says "I'm Harmless" :-) 
Harmless Harvest coconut water is the perfect hydrating beverage to help beat the summer heat. Have you tried it yet? If you haven't, I really suggest you do!

I received product samples in exchange for my honest review. It doesn't get more honest than this.

Jun 22, 2016

Making Sure Your Big Family Holiday Goes Off Without a Hitch

Most people have family scattered across the country. Even when they’re scattered across the state, that can still mean they’re pretty out of reach. In these situations, people find that they only get to see all of their family at things like weddings or funerals.

But why wait for either of those things to occur? Why not consider making a family reunion happen yourself? Better yet, why not arrange a family reunion vacation? These sorts of vacations are very popular in America, given the country’s sheer size and potential for great vacations.

Here’s a quick guide to getting it all set up!

Photo credit

Pick a suitable resort

If you’re having a family reunion, then I imagine you’re going to be with a lot of people! This can make finding the right accommodation a little tricky. For some families, it’s a simple as going to the same hotel. This usually splits them up across the building quite a bit, though. Many families will try going to different hotels in the same area.

But to make the whole thing easier, you should probably consider resorts that expect guests to come in large packs. Thankfully, there are several of them dotted all over the country! Many of them also contain a bunch of activities for everyone, if you don’t feel like arranging all of that yourself. From golf resorts to mountain range getaways, there are plenty of places tailored to family reunions. Of course, you could eschew a resort altogether and go on a family reunion cruise across the ocean!

Arrange transport

Family reunions can get pretty darn big. And, as I’m sure you know, using public transport with a lot of people is somewhat of a hassle. In fact, even using public transport alone is usually a massive hassle!
Photo credit 

For this step, it really depends how far you’re going and how familiar people are with the area. If it’s close enough for everyone to take a car, then that might work out for you. But if you’d prefer to keep things as smooth as possible, you might want to consider other options. For example, you could look into renting a charter bus from somewhere like GOGO Bus Charters. That’s pretty much all the benefits of public transport with none of the negatives! (Except, of course, for the fact that one of you has to drive it!)

Keep a loose schedule

A loose schedule? Surely the key to good planning is a strict schedule? The problem with a strict schedule with this sort of vacation is that it’s destined to fall apart. Sure, you’re going to have certain things on your itinerary that you want everyone to do. But with that many people, there’s simply too much opportunity for timing to be off.

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When people are catching up with family members who they haven’t seen in years, the conversations are going to be long. People are going to be very busy catching up and taking part in the arranged activities. You’ve also got to account for the sheer variety of interests. One activity is sure to enthrall some members of the family, but other members might want to move onto something else nearby. So keep it loose and fun!


Jun 20, 2016

Twitter Loop Giveaway $100 Amazon GC or PayPal Cash

I've teamed up with a group of fabulous bloggers to offer a great giveaway on Twitter. The prize is the winner's choice of either a $100 Amazon GC or $100 PayPal Cash prize. I'm sure anyone would love some extra cash for the summer. Go enter now! 

All rules are here.

Jun 17, 2016

How I Learned To Go Out And Live Freely With Impressa #TriedImpressa

Today's post is sponsored by Poise, but all opinions are my own

I don't know what has happened to me since I turned 40. I'm not the same person I was a few years ago. I feel like a new woman crept into my body and oddly enough, I feel younger in many ways. I have a lot more confidence and spunk. I really do believe that 40 is the new 20 except.... well some things have indeed changed. I have talked about it before, but didn't fully accept it until this year. My body just isn't the same. I've had 3 children. I have endless stretch marks, cellulite, and all sorts of other physical imperfections. I have accepted that those things are a part of life and heredity.

I do have one very embarrassing issue though. I love to laugh, play and live life to fullest. I just don't appreciate the little side effect of *ahem* leaking a little pee. >>insert wide-eyed emoji here<< Yep, every time I'm hanging out with my college daughters, there is a 110% chance that a lot of laughter will be had. I ALWAYS have to cross my legs and beg them to stop their shenanigans before I pee myself. They always say, "You better make sure you have your Poise". Hmmph! Well, lucky for me, I have Poise Impressa Bladder Supports.

You may recall me talking about Impressa recently. I have had the chance to test out the different sizes to find the right fit for me. Impressa bladder supports are used like you would a tampon, except they aren't designed to absorb. Instead, they help stop leaks before they happen. Check out some of the stories in the short video:

It's the season now where many of us will be spending time outdoors and you certainly don't want your LBL (light bladder leakage) to get in your way. I love walking along the beach as often as I can all summer long and Impressa is a must have! I was in Walmart recently and I found it on rollback (excluding the sizing kit).

This was a great opportunity to stock up on my size. After trying all 3 from the sizing kit, I found that size 1 is what I needed.

I carry Impressa with me in my purse, beach/pool bag, and my travel bag. It has really helped me feel like I can laugh, play, and truly live freely. Be sure to stop by your local Walmart store and look for Poise Impressa Bladder Supports on the feminine product aisle. Start with the sizing kit so you can figure out which size works best for you.

Now you can laugh, jump, sneeze, cough, and play without fear of leaks. I encourage you to give Impressa a try to see if it works for you. Hey, it's cheaper and less embarrassing than going to the doctor. I'm glad it works for me. Have questions? Go to the FAQ's section and learn more.

Have you tried Impressa?

The 6 Best New Language Learning Apps For Your Kids Out Right Now

Guest Post

I’m sure I’m not alone when I admit that I took four years of Spanish in high school because my counselor told me to, but I can’t remember much of it now. It stuck around for a few years but gradually faded away. Kids today don’t have the option to learn a language and forget it—with a growing international economy and global connections, it is becoming so important to speak another language. Not to mention that it looks great on college and job applications, which I’m sure moms everywhere will love.

Luckily for our kids, there are so many more resources than when we were in school. One of the best resources is something your kids are probably using constantly anyway—their smartphones. Set your kids on the path to language learning success with these six great education apps:

Hello Talk (free)

Most kids love to talk, so the chance to learn a new language through conversations with a native speaker is a huge selling point. Hello Talk steps away from strict memorization and quizzes and instead connects users with native speakers around the world to practice their new language skills and get instant feedback. Hello Talk is based on a worldwide network of more than 70 data centers set up by communications company, which means that no matter where in the world you or your native speaker are, you can always have crystal-clear communication. It’s a reliable cultural experience for kids that shows them new parts of the world.
Download on iOS
Download on Android

busuu (free)

With no Internet connection required, you can access busuu anywhere and go at your own pace. Busuu works with native speakers around the world to teach languages by listening and speaking, so you can practice what you learn right after each lesson. Another great option is the streamlined learning system, which highlights the top 3000 words and 150 topics you need to know in each language, perfect if you are tight on time.

Download on iOS
Download on Android

Brainscape (free)

Brainscape doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the other apps, but it does produce great results that will stick with kids. Brainscape is all about flashcards, and it has a deck of thousands of words for each of the languages it teaches. The more you get a word correct, the less frequently it appears in your deck, just like words you struggle with show up more frequently. Brainscape also customizes your response time to make the flashcards as memorable and effective as possible.
Download on iOS

Memrise (free)

This app combines proven memory techniques with content created by native speakers to create a program that can teach an amazing 44 words per hour. With learning activities varying from videos to rapid recall and more, there’s something to match everyone’s learning style. One of the best features about Memrise is that it covers more than 100 languages, ranging from Arabic to Icelandic, and even languages from your favorite books and movies.
Download on iOS
Download on Android

Duolingo (free)

For game-loving kids, Duolingo is the obvious choice. The lessons are short and highlight a particular grammar principle or vocabulary area. The review activities involve a variety of games, with each correct answer earning the user more points to use within the app’s virtual store. The more you learn, the more levels you achieve—you can even compete against friends and other users to see who can reach certain levels the fastest. That’s huge motivation for my friends, and I love that the program is fun and effective.
Download on iOS
Download on Android

Lingvist (free)

If your child wants to learn French, Lingvist is a great option. Watch out for more languages to come, because this app can turn anyone into a language master in just 200 hours. Lingvist aims to teach practical, usable words and grammar skills and then apply them to situations where you may actually find yourself. The app also adjusts based on your learning progress to help you be as successful as possible.
Download on iOS
Download on Android

As the world continues to get more connected, learning a second (or third) language will become more important than ever. And thanks to mobile technology, it’s never been easier to learn something new. Put your kids on the path to global success with these great apps.

Are your kids learning a language right now?


Jun 13, 2016

3 Ways To Manage Your Child's Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects adults and children around the world. If it’s not controlled or managed effectively, it has the potential to be life threatening. So if your child has recently been diagnosed as asthmatic, you will be eager to do all you can to help them. While stocking your cupboards with asthma medication is an excellent start, there are other things you can do too. Read through these three easy ways to manage your child’s asthma to help them breathe easier each day.

Start a diary

Now that you know your child has asthma, it can be beneficial to start a diary to gain more understanding of their condition and it’s triggers. You can use it to note down times, days and locations when your child feels wheezy. You could also take note of what your child was doing just before their asthma symptoms began. The more you use your diary, the easier it will be to pinpoint potential triggers. You might find that exercise, pets, pollen or temperature changes are to blame. Identifying what triggers their symptoms is a key step in effective asthma management. You now know how to help your child avoid these triggers, which will make controlling their condition far easier. You can also show your diary to your doctor during checkups to help them update the asthma management plan.

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Keep their plan up to date

It’s likely that the doctor or specialist who diagnosed your child with asthma, helped you develop an asthma management plan. Each plan will vary depending on the severity of the condition. But they usually include daily medication regimes and breathing exercises. It’s important not only to stick to the instructions laid out in the plan but also to keep it updated regularly. As your child gets older, the plan might not be as effective as it once was. So schedule regular appointments with your doctor not only to check on their condition but to make necessary changes to their plan.

Get your child involved

One of the best ways to manage your child’s asthma is to get them involved. Use asthma books and leaflets that are designed for kids, which will help them to understand more about their condition. It’s important that your child knows what to do if they find it hard to breathe properly and if they come in contact with an asthma trigger. Without scaring them, convey how important it is to tell someone if are having breathing trouble and to take their medication. If they know what symptoms to look out for, this will help them alert you or another adult before an attack can occur. You should also get them into the habit of remembering to take their asthma medication with them wherever they go.

For more information on how to help keep your child’s asthma under control, make an appointment with your doctor. They should be able to answer any questions you have while also giving you advice and guidance. If your child is ever in respiratory distress, act quickly and call the emergency services as soon as possible.


Jun 12, 2016

Protect Your Little Ones From Mosquitoes This Summer With Fairy Tales Bug Bandit Spray

It's that time of year again where we have to make sure we stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, take safety precautions with the high temperatures, and protect ourselves from those pesky mosquitoes. We have had more than our fair share of rain this year and with the extra rainfall comes the abundance of mosquitoes. I am very particular when I let my little boy go outside in the evening when the mosquitoes are most active, because he gets attacked like crazy. It's not unusual to see those enormous red patches all over his skin. 

It is essential that I use a good mosquito repellent on him. I received a bottle of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit DEET-Free Bug Spray to test out. This product does not contain chemicals or pesticides. It has a blend of lemon eucalyptus, soybean oil, and citronella to proved hours of protection against mosquitoes, fleas and no see-ums. 

As a mom, I love the idea of insect repellent that is free of harsh chemicals, toxins, parabens, and sulfates. Even better for those with allergies, it is also free of dairy, gluten and nuts. I have been using it on William for about a week and it has been working amazingly well. The one mistake I made the other day was not applying it to his neck. He was fine everywhere else, but the mosquitoes are so bad that they found his neck and had at it (sad face). I learned my lesson and sprayed some product on my hands and rubbed it along his neck for extra protection. I really appreciate that it does not leave a lingering pesticide odor and is very effective. You can't really put a price tag on protecting your little ones and this product is well worth it!
Fairy Tales Bug Bandit has become a summer must have! Even my husband uses it when he goes outside to work in the yard towards the evening hours. You can find Fairy Tales Bug Bandit on their website, at salons, specialty stores and retailers across the U.S.. An 8-ounce bottle retails for $13.95. Be sure to follow Fairy Tales Hair Care on Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates.

I received a product sample in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own as always. 

Jun 2, 2016

Hard Candy Brow Ink Review

I am sure by now most of you have seen the latest beauty trend-- eyebrow enhancing. Some use products to fill in thin brows while others take it to the extreme. I personally go for a polished look and prefer natural looking brows. I got my eyebrows threaded a few months ago and after the process was over, the technician applied a brow filler. I really loved the look because it was super natural yet slightly dramatic (if that makes sense). I have never used any eyebrow filler in my whole life, but since then, I've been intrigued.

I have been seeing ads for kits that go up to $50. No way. I refuse to invest that kind of cash into a basic product. Today I want to share a new product from Hard Candy called Brow Ink. It is actually a brow stain. No lie, the word stain scared me a bit.

This product comes in a fun, contemporary looking tube. It comes in 2 colors: 1108 Light Medium and 1004 Medium Dark. I tried the medium dark since I am a brunette. When you open it, you will find a long, slender wand with ultra fine bristles.

This Brow Ink comes in a gel formula and instantly darkens and defines your brows. It has Henna Fruit Actives that nourish hair while the Longwear Ink Technology transforms brows that stay in place for 24 hours and is waterproof. 

I found the product very easy to use and it really does what it supposed to. One tip I will offer is that you should not press down too much when you apply. You will end up with too much product in one spot. If that happens you can easily use your finger to blend it in. 

The end result is a fuller, natural brow look. It does not smudge at all and does not come off until you remove it. Want to hear the best part? It costs only $6 and can be purchased at Walmart and I still can't believe how good it is considering the low price tag. Seriously, it is worth a try and I highly recommend you give it a shot. If you try it out, please let me know how it worked for you.

Be sure to check out Hard Candy at their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for beauty tips and product updates.

I received product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own as always.  

Jun 1, 2016

There Is Beauty Everywhere

Lately I have been feeling very overwhelmed with social media. I'm sure many of you can relate. Seeing the same horrible stories circulating over and over again gets nauseating. Even worse when everyone and their mother decides they need to do their own "news reporting" on their site. I have made it a point to completely log off and turn away from the garbage, even if it's for an hour or two.  One of the things that I find very soothing and even rejuvenating is by immersing myself in nature. I don't necessarily sit outside all day, but I do look outside my back window and take in the scenery. We have planted several trees and shrubs and it is cool watching them grow. My favorite thing I do from the moment I wake up is to look for the hummingbirds that feed at our window feeder. We have a few regulars that stop by for the sweet, homemade nectar. 

This particular ruby-throated beauty loves to perch on top of our weeping cherry tree and fly up to the feeder throughout the day. It's amazing how these tiny creatures can capture your attention and make you feel so relaxed. Just call me the #CrazyBirdLady :) 

I don't have photos right now, but we also have several other feeders for all of the other birds that visit each day. It's not unusual to see up to 8 types of birds at once. My husband often jokes that he needs to start charging for rent and food. We have factored in the cost of bird seed into our grocery budget. Hey, it's still waaaaay cheaper than kids!

Overall, taking time out to relax and enjoy watching God's creatures is a great cure for the social media funk. I highly recommend it.

Dove Beauty Bars - A Must-Have For Radiant Summer Skin (Giveaway)

Can you believe that today is the first day of June? Although the official summer season has not started, the temperature says otherwise. It is already blazing hot out and this means many of us are wearing shorts, tank tops, and sundresses. It is important to me that my skin always looks and feels good, especially when more of it can be seen. One of my summer beauty must-haves is a classic item, the Dove White Beauty Bar. It's a very effective way to get your skin looking and feeling smooth and moisturized for the season.

Dove Beauty Bars are not soap. While soap strips skin of essential nutrients, Dove replenishes them. It is renowned for its 1/4 moisturizing cream and contains natural skin lipids that deposit onto the skin. It contains a blend of very mild cleansers so your skin isn't being stripped or dried out. With all of the trips to the pool, beach, and other outdoor adventures, Dove beauty bars will help replenish your sun-drenched skin. It is also the #1 recommended bar by dermatologists.

Dove makes a variety of beauty bars, but the classic White Bar is my favorite. Are you ready to get your skin summer-ready? Enter below for a chance to win a Dove Beauty Bar prize pack. One winner will receive 3 2-packs.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and will end on June 14, 2016. Be sure to follow rules in Rafflecopter. One winner will be chosen and contacted via email to claim prize. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

I received product samples for review purposes. All opinions are my own as always.

$100 Winner's Choice (Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash) Giveaway

I've teamed up with 8 other fabulous bloggers to offer a fun giveaway for our readers. The prize is your choice-- $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash. What would you buy if you win? Enter below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway starts June 1 at 12:00 AM EST and ends June 15 at 11:59 PM EST. USA, 18+. One winner will be randomly selected from all qualifying entries and contacted via the email they provide. The winner has 48 hours to respond. The winner will be announced after they have responded.

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