Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 For Every Season Book Review #Cookbook #BookReview

Michael Symon's Cookbook Review.jpgI was sent this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review. 

I first stumbled upon the chef Michael Symon on The Chew when I was still caught up watching Days of our Lives. He is the full of life, great big ol’ laugh, fun-loving guy who is always doing things the easy way.

One of my favorites on the show! When I was offered the chance to review his book I jumped on it. When it arrived I was like a kid at Christmas rushing to the door when the UPS driver arrived. I ripped open that booked and flipped through every page taking in the vivid, fresh photographs. I love that the book is broken up by seasons because I love to garden and eat what’s in season. I also really appreciate how every meal has half the ingredients dedicated to fresh fruits or vegetables. He even added some great holiday recipes and some that use leftovers from your ham and turkey for breakfast-genius! I have yet to complete one of these recipes in the book but I will very soon so keep an eye out on instagram, facebook, and twitter.

A few on my list to try:

Fried Eggplant Sandwiches with Harissa

Spicy Fried Shrimp

Sweet Corn Fritters

Chicken and Couscous with Snow Peas, Garlic & Ginger

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Asparagus with Sesame & Orange

Click here to get Michael Symon’s Book!

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Why I love Cozi and Mint #FamilyOrganized

Why I love Cozi and Mint

Rey and I obsessed over a  marathon of Life or Debt this past weekend and really snapped that our families finances have seriously been neglected since we first moved to Texas. It’s been over a year that we have examined our budgets and financial plan. Clearly it’s a chore we both like to avoid and not one of our strong points.

I have always been a pen and paper kinda gal. I loved taking notes in school with all my different colored pens and decorating my planner till it looked like unicorn vomited on it. That had always been me, until I realized my family financial binder was failing our family and my paper planner couldn’t keep up with my hectic schedule. I needed to go virtual in order to get the time-saving tools I need, as well as the life saving email and text reminders.

I began my search for the best family calendar app. I wanted one that I could access from my laptop and cell phone. I wanted one that could link our entire family. I wanted one with great widgets and reminders. I wanted the impossible-as my hubby always says. Thank goodness I found Cozi because they have truly made it all happen! I learned about Cozi a few years ago and tried it out then but I wasn’t ready to leave my planner yet.

Cozi keeps everyone’s schedules and all your lists in one place the whole family can share. Check the family calendar, set reminders, and see lists from any computer or mobile device (PC/Mac, iOS, Android). Cozi is rated 4.5 stars in Google Play and iTunes and is the winner of multiple awards and accolades: Appy Award for Best Family App, Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal, Named Best App for your Personal Life by Mashable, Named Best App for a Better Life by NBC’s TODAY Show, and more. Cozi remembers everyone’s appointments, makes sure schedules are coordinated, and keeps track of shopping and to do lists—so you have more time for the fun stuff.

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Cozi has so many great features!

A few I love:

  • Color Coding Family Member
  • Multiple Calendar Schedules-that all mash into one
  • Laptop accessible and App with great widgets
  • Email/Text Reminders
  • Linked To Do List & Shopping List

Check out Cozi in this video!

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Now that our schedule was in order I could manage our time better and actually plan time to discuss our financial situation.

I tried Mint in college and decided to look them up again. I googled them and they rated really high on most sites. I logged in, and input all our accounts and instantly got the big picture. IT WAS AMAZING! It saved me SO MUCH TIME! I can access everything and  watch everything at the same time. I absolutely love it! I can literally see where every penny goes. I control it all-it’s very empowering!

Watch the video and give it a try! You seriously have to try it-once you do you will see the light and you will never go back.

I am able to create a budget for everything our family needs. Track those budgets easily and make adjustments to keep us on track. I really love that I can set goals for travel, the kids college savings, and paying off college debt.

They also have a MintBills which is equally awesome, give them a try to see if they can help your family avoid late fees.

Why I love Mint Bills

  • I can see all our bills & accounts in one place-no matter whose name they are under
  • Get reminders when bills are due-avoid late fees
  • Pay on the spot with our online bill payment feature
  • Schedule bill payments for free
  • Receive alerts when funds are low or credit limits are near

 

I hope one of these services can help you and please share what you use to help keep your family organized.

 

Monkey Mat Multipurpose Mat for Mommas on the go! #MonkeyMat #monkeymatlifestyle @usfg #Review

 

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I love watching Shark Tank and can’t wait to test out this product!

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Monkey Mat, AS SEEN ON SHARK TANK, allows you to make your space, any place! Originally inspired by an unexpected six-hour layover at the airport (constant cringing while two babies crawled all over dirty floors!), and also by overall active lifestyles, this go-everywhere large mat in attached ultra-compact pouch gives you a clean space on the go – no more bulky blankets! Perfect for all ages, all places – park, beach, concerts, dirty airport/hotel floors, camping, hiking, sports events & more! http://www.monkeymat.com

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My readers get to save! Use coupon code “USFAM” for $5 off + Free Shipping!
Click here to SAVE NOW! 

Find Monkey Mat on:

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

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I have used Monkey Mat many times! I LOVE that it can seriously and easily fold up into a tiny little pouch that fits right into my purse or tote! I have used it at school picnics, movie night at the park, and the beach too!

The Himalayan Salt Shop #Ad #USFG

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The Himalayan Salt Shop proudly offers a truly unique health and wellness product. Himalayan Salt Lamps have been popular in Europe for decades, but have only recently become known in the United States. These all-natural air purifiers, made of pristine pink Himalayan salt crystal, help clean the air in your home while also serving as a stunning, glowing home decor piece surely to strike up conversation. Visit http://www.HimalayanSaltshop.com to learn more.

Check out these unique and natural products! Go to http://www.HimalayanSaltShop.com and use code USFAMILY for 20% off. #himalayansalt

Be on the look out-I have a review coming up soon!

I will receive a complimentary Himalayan Salt Lamp for review. All opinions are my own.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort – South Padre Island Review & #Giveaway #SPI #BahnLove

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My family and I were gifted park tickets to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own. 

It’s the 15 year anniversary of the opening of the Schlitterbahn South Padre Island Waterpark! Isn’t that AWESOME!? It was built-in 2001, and this park is home to the Transportainment River system that is designed to maximize time in the water and eliminate lines. This river system connects eight attractions that feature rapids, chutes, and gentle currents. It really keeps the park continually moving along the river. Schlitterbahn truly believes that when you come to the beach, you should just be able to sit back and enjoy your tube ride while you tan.

To celebrate this 15th year Anniversary Schlitterbahn is waiving their venue fees for Quincaneras this year! Amazing right!?

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In honor of the 15th anniversary we took a trip to Schlitterbahn in South Padre Island to experience it ourselves. And lucky for us this trip landed on our sweet Sadie’s 7th Birthday. It was a surprise trip for the kids and they LOVED it!

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I have learned so much experiencing it first hand. I can’t wait to share all my tips and tricks to help you and your family have the best experience possible.

I love saving money, on everything and a trip to a water park can be pricey or you can choose to be frugal. Click here to see ticket pricing. And if you had your first day in the park and decide maybe a second is worth it-because there is so much more you want to do take advantage of the added savings! Whenever you have the receipt or the wristband, the prices are $27.99 for an adult and $22 for a child.

Get a group together to get the group rate. This requires a group of 15 or more.

Be sure to check the weather for the day you are going. Also check the park calendar (online or by calling) and make sure there is no big event happening on that day or it will be super crowded and lines will be longer than normal. Click here for dress code.

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Plan to arrive early at least 30 minutes before the park opens (10 am here at SPI), for good parking and a good spot to picnic. There are many great free places around the park to picnic. When you first walk in there are umbrella tables. Towards the back there are wooden picnic tables under the palm trees. And if you have little ones a table with shade by Sand Castle Cove or the Lily Pad is a must! Also when planning on being there all day don’t be afraid to let your little ones nap. A quite break will energize them for more happy play later.

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Sand Castle Cove

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The back of park where the picnic tables are located.

Don’t forget sun hats, towels, and cheap sunglasses it is really bright. I wear prescription glasses and almost lost them a few times from overhead spraying so secure them with a cord.

Of course at a water park you need sunscreen but you also need to apply it at home to give it time to fully dry  before hitting the water. Lesson learned the hard way we all are a little sun burned. Another tip is to get the kids long sleeve water shirts trust me if you don’t want to track them down to reapply sunscreen and let it dry they need these! Also make sure to have water shoes the cement does get really hot. 

Another thing we did to save money was pack our lunch, water, and drinks. YES! You can bring in food and drinks. No glass or alcohol. We packed two ice chests one with drinks and the other with food. They both fit perfectly in our wagon to make walking from the parking lot with little ones easier.

Check out my Pinterest board for packing if you don’t want to stick to simple sandwiches. The pepperoni pasta salad is a kids pleaser. Next time I will individually package everyone’s portions so it is just easier when we are at the park. Don’t worry there are plenty of trash cans. Next time I might even wrap some ribs in foil the sun will keep them warm while we play! Click here to find more great packing tips from the Schlitterbahn blog.

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We actually brought in cupcakes, balloons, and a pretty plastic tablecloth since it was Sadie’s Birthday. It was really cute and I really recommend a tablecloth. The cupcakes melted in the heat-that was a bad idea.

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One of the cooler cabanas!

You can also choose to head to the park without a worry over arriving early for a shaded area by renting a cabana and leave the ice chest at home because you can get catering straight to your cabana. Another dinning option especially for teens is giving them splash cash. Here are some of the dinning options and prices you will find in the park.

The restrooms are located at the front of the park along with a shower area. There is also a small two stall restroom on Cabana Island.

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This park is known for Rio Adventura, the parks river transportation system from this river you can access the Storm Chaser, Sea Blaster, Pirate’s Plunge, Agua Blanca Tube Chute, and Gale Force. All from your inner tube! They even offer double tubes, and double tubes with a hole on one side and a seat for smaller children on the other.

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We all enjoyed riding on the tubes in Rio Adventura. It took a while to find two tubes with seats for Ezra and Dad and Sadie and Caydence, but once we did we just floated around the whole park 4 times, which took up most of our morning. They loved it so much! At first I was little terrified for the girls to go alone, but me being on a single tube made it easier to paddle towards them.

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One of our favorite rides!

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Ezra’s favorite area!

Squid Row has the softest flooring and was the best place for Ezra while he was warming up to the park.

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The girls enjoyed it too!

  Click here to see all the attractions Schlitterbahn South Padre Island has to offer.

See the park map here to help you plan.

By the time we were done the little ones were due for a nap and Sadie was super energized then fell fast asleep on the drive back home. We had a wonderful, fun-filled day or in Sadie’s words, “It was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!”

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I hope this post inspires you to plan a Schlitteriffic Day for your family!

Click here to enter to WIN 2 TICKETS to SCHLITTERBAHN SPI

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