Santa Cruz Agua Fresca Smoothie Recipe #MomsMeet

Santa Cruz Organic Agua Fresca is refreshing all on it’s own but I used it in a smoothie recipe a couple weeks ago and my kids LOVED it.  I usually use water and occasionally use juice in smoothies for them and this was the perfect blend of both!santacruz

1 cup Agua Fresca Pomegranate

1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries

1 orange, sliced and peeled

1 handful kale or other greens

1 cup ice

Blend together and enjoy!

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Lightlife Smart Dogs #MomsMeet

My teenager has been vegan for over a year now and sometimes it’s hard to find easy alternatives for her.  She loves the taste of Lightlife Smart Dogs; these are made with no meat products and are certified vegan.  I love how easy they are to heat and serve!


They are easy to microwave or grill and top with your favorite toppings- relish, onions and mustard are our faves.

Lightlife has tons of amazing products that fit our vegan needs. I was able to make my teen one of her old favorites (biscuits and gravy) using the meatless sausage and a vegan biscuit recipe (coming soon!).20160720_101153-1

Lightlife doesn’t only create amazing certified vegan products; they are in business because they care about the food people eat.  Since 1979, Lightlife has been dedicated to making great tasting vegetarian food for a better you and a better planet. Giving back to the community has been their priority since the very beginning, and they’ve contributed 5% of our profits every year to organizations that support that mission.



Beginner’s Guide To Campervan Holidays

A campervan holiday is a great way to have an exciting trip away with the kids, without spending a fortune. However, there are a few things you need to know before you dive in and drive off. In today’s guide, we’re going to go through a few things you should do to get the most out of your campervan holiday. Let’s take a closer look, with our beginner’s guide.


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Route planning

Before you even rent or buy a campervan, you should be planning out sensible routes. The great thing about travelling in a van is that almost everywhere is accessible. But, you do need to include a lot of overnight stops – particularly if you are travelling for long distances. So, the route you take is of utmost importance. Use services like the Rough Guide to find exciting areas with a lot on offer. The great thing about going down this route is that you will learn a lot more about the country you are visiting. And, you might even find some undiscovered gems.


Getting hold of a campervan

Campervans can be expensive to rent, especially if you are going abroad, say, for a couple of weeks. That said if you book early enough you should be able to find yourself a better deal. In our humble opinion, your best bet is to buy a second-hand van yourself. Look at some DIY modifications to make it as comfortable as possible for the kids, and don’t forget about the importance of storage space. You can also look at doing external upgrades to make your drive a lot smoother. A set of Firestone tyres, for example, will give you that little extra fuel efficiency and safety over long distances. One last thing about buying a new campervan – avoid the VW Campers if you want to save some cash. Yes, they are a classic vehicle, but there are many cheaper alternatives that are better value for money.


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Room for sleep

The primary benefit of a campervan is that you can sleep pretty much anywhere. However, it is unlikely you will all fit in the van – unless you are up for some extreme modifications such as installing a pop top roof. There are safety issues to consider, too. Setting up a tent outside the van is going to free up space, but keep it for the adults. You don’t want your children sleeping out there without supervision. Don’t forget, though, that once the kids are in bed; you won’t be able to use the van if the weather isn’t great. Instead, think about investing in an awning to give you some protection against the elements.


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Cooking on a campervan holiday is much like any other camping trip. However, you can be a little more flexible with your ingredients, as you have that much more space. Stock up on herbs and stock cubes to add a bit more flavour to the simplest of dishes, such as baked beans – the campfire standard! One more thing we would also recommend is stocking up on healthy snacks and sandwiches for the little ones when you are driving. Hungry children get moody and anxious – neither of which are going to help your sanity on a long haul!


Travel light

Sure, you can afford to be a little more flexible with your packing, as you won’t have to pay any excess baggage charges. That said, the lighter you travel, the better your trip will be. There are some necessities, of course, such as bottles of water, tents, and fold-up camping chairs. There’s no need to stock up on too much food, however. If you are away for a long period, a lot of it is likely to go off, which is an expensive waste. Instead, research local supermarkets and do a minimal shop when needed.


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Don’t forget to extend your insurance if you are travelling abroad. So many people fail to do this, and in the event of a breakdown or accident, it’s going to cost you a fortune you can ill afford. Travel insurance should protect your finances – and make sure you have the relevant health insurance, too. The EHIC card will give you the cover you need if anyone gets sick in Europe – for the moment, at least! But, if you are going further afield, it is vital that you get the proper health insurance. If you don’t, any illness or hospital visit is going to cost you a lot of money.

Good luck with your campervan holiday – why not share your experiences with us in the comments section below?`


Got Rats? Here’s How To Deal With Them



Despite their size, rats can cause a significant amount of damage and upset to your home and family. They can chew through your home’s foundations, destroy your belongings and contaminate your food. Rats can also make your family unwell by carrying life-threatening diseases and leaving bacteria around your home. So even though they look cute, they can cause a lot of devastation. Rat infestations are a problem that needs to be controlled sooner rather than later. If left to develop, it could force you to move out. So if you’ve found droppings, heard scratching or seen a rat in your home, here is what you need to do now.


Use poison and traps

Rat traps and poison are the most popular forms of rat removal. You can source these online or from pet and gardening stores. You can set traps or leave poison in areas where you have found droppings. You can also leave them near to what you believe is their food and water source. Always make sure your children and pets do not have access to the poison or traps. You need to check the traps and areas where you have left the poison every few days. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get instant results. Rats are suspicious of new things so it might take some time for them to use it.



Get a cat

If you’ve always wanted to get a feline friend, now is the ideal time to do so. As well as being fantastic family pets, cats are also excellent hunters. Their natural instincts encourage them to prey on rodents such as rats and mice. With their incredible eyesight and hearing, it shouldn’t take long for them to locate and kill some of your rodents. This can be in both your home and your garden. Their presence can force some of the rats to leave your home and prevent them from returning. Even if your cat doesn’t kill the rodents, their reactions to certain noises and scents could help you find the nests quicker. Remember that is is not recommended to buy a cat purely for rat removal. It’s also not an efficient method of removing an extensive rat infestation.

Call a pest control expert

Getting rid of rats is not easy, and if your previous attempts haven’t worked, you will need expert assistance. Their knowledge and expertise can help you gain more control and take back your home in no time. They will be able to look around your home and establish how they have gained access. An expert will also be able to help you locate nests and set humane rat traps to capture the rodents. Look online to find the contact details of an expert and organize a home visit as soon as you can.


These methods should help you get your rat problem under control as quickly as possible. It can take some time to completely eradicate the problem so you will need to be patience. You should also start finding out what you can do to ensure another infestation doesn’t happen again in future.


How To Find Long Lost Relatives

If you’ve lost contact with a loved one, you’ll understandably be eager to reconnect. But this can sometimes be easier said than done. Looking for a relative can often be a long and time-consuming process. They might have gone missing or perhaps you just lost touch many years ago. You need to be patient, motivated and willing to put hard work and effort in. There are a number of resources you can use both online and offline to help. Some of these are free whereas others will require a fee. So no matter what budget is, here are the most popular methods of finding long lost relatives.



Hire a detective

If your relatives have been missing for a long time, you might need to hire a detective to assist you in your search. Many will offer a free consultation, where you can discuss what information you have. You can talk about your relative’s background, last known address and you can also supply photographs if you have any. They can then use this information to access thousands of databases to begin their search. This is a common method but it’s important to remember that many professional detective services require a fee. This will vary depending on the company you choose to work with so shop around before you begin. Read reviews and testimonials too, to make sure they have sufficient experience.

Use social media

Social media is something that billions of people use throughout the world each month. This is why it has become a free and effective way of locating lost relatives. You can use sites like Facebook and Twitter to see if someone is registered using your relative’s name. It can take time to look through the results if they have a common name. You could also try searching for the names of their spouses and friends they used to have. In addition to this, there are also missing person Facebook groups you can join. You can connect with others who are searching for lost relatives and ask for advice. This can also be a valuable source of support during this often difficult process. Another option you have is online forums and discussion boards.

Access public records

Another method you have is to access public records in the location where you believe your relative might be living. These are usually available online or in libraries. These records can include marriage certificates, contact numbers, and addresses. You may find that some record websites require a small fee before you can access them entirely.  Make sure you have the correct spelling of their name to make this method more effective. The more information you have before you begin, the better. So talk to other relatives to gather as much of it as you can.

So no matter what caused your separation, these methods will give you a better chance of finding your lost relatives. Don’t let your lack of funds hold you back from getting started. Once you’ve made initial contact, why not start planning a family road trip to reconnect in person.


Simple Method to Make Your Money Work Harder For You

Do you find yourself struggling to get through the month, and never seem to have a cent to rub together? If so, you are in good company. Many households across the country find it hard at the moment, and the thought of saving money and being financially free is a pipe dream, at best. It doesn’t have to be this way, though.

No matter how little your income, there is always a way to make your money work harder for you. The result is more cash to spend on your family, and ability to save for your future. Let’s take a look at what you need to do to get started.


Create a budget

First of all, create a budget with all your incomings and outgoings. Doing this will enable you to highlight any spare money you can, and also start you on the path to using your money more wisely. We have countless posts here for regular money-saving tips so check them out and see where you can start cutting back your expenses. We believe that whatever your situation, there is always a way of saving – even if it’s just a little. Perhaps you could buy two fewer bottles of wine next month, or start using public transport outside of peak hours. Be creative, and you will find a multitude of ways to make an impression on your finances.


Pay off your debts

Confronting your debts can be scary, but once you get started, it’s a liberating experience. They are also expensive, and the interest you pay on the debt will be far higher than any return on savings or investment. So, it makes sound financial sense to attack your debts. Look at everything you pay back, and use your spare money to pay it off, starting with the most expensive debt. It can be a long process, but by the time you finish, you will have a considerable sum of money available for doing better things.


Repair your credit score

If you have had bad debts in the past, make sure that you check and improve your credit rating. It can have a big impact on your finances, as the better credit you have, the better financial packages you can access. That means you can borrow cheaper, and also have access to higher interest savings accounts.


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Look into safe investment opportunities

You don’t need to be super wealthy to be an investor. In fact, anyone with a savings account or a retirement plan is just as much of an investor as anyone else. As NSF Super point out, it is so important to plan for your future, so a good superannuation plan is vital. You can also look into buying government bonds, which come with certain guarantees that will protect your money. The more money you put in, the more comfortable your retirement and future will be.


Create an emergency fund

Finally, make sure you have an emergency fund in place. Not having one causes many families to fall into debt problems, as they can’t afford those big payouts that tend to arise with regularity. An emergency fund will help you keep your head above water.


Hope this has helped you understand how to make your money work harder for you. See our blog for more great tips!



My husband and I took our kids to Carlsbad, CA a while back and it is still one of our fondest memories.  West Inn & Suites was the perfect place for us; family friendly while maintaining an upscale ambiance.

Hotel near Legoland

While summer may be in full swing, many savvy travelers are thinking ahead to fall, when rates drop, the crowds disperse, and the weather in San Diego remains a sunny oasis for travelers.  With endless options for outdoor recreation and access to world-class attractions, no other destination echoes ‘endless summer’ quite like the seaside community of Carlsbad.  West Inn & Suites, TripAdvisor’s #1 ranked Carlsbad hotel with rates starting at $159, offers nine free reasons to plan a San Diego getaway this fall season.


  1. October is Kid’s Free Month in San Diego – Take advantage of San Diego’s popular Kids Free Month this October with new travel incentives for families. Across Carlsbad, kids can enjoy a variety of complimentary attraction admissions, museum entries and free meals. Book your stay at West Inn & Suites, and receive free amenities such as: hot buffet breakfast, no resort fees, Wi-Fi, parking, movie rentals, games, and two in-room waters upon arrival.
  2. Pop Up Beach Party – With average temperatures in the 70s and 80s, fall is one of the best times of the year to enjoy Carlsbad’s seven miles of uncrowded beaches.  At your request, we’ll pack the hotel shuttle van with boogie boards, towels, umbrella, sand toys, and a cooler filled with snacks and beverages for a fun day at one of the local Carlsbad beaches.
  3. Let the West Chauffeurs do the Driving – Leave your car at the hotel and let our free shuttle service take you anywhere within five miles of the hotel in Carlsbad.  Added bonus:  taking the shuttle means free parking at Legoland, the beach and area attractions.  Note:  Shuttle service is based on availability and runs during Legoland hours.
  4. Pet Pampering for Free – Every pet that checks into the hotel is welcomed at the front desk with a complimentary photo and in-room amenities such as beds, bowls, treats, and specially-formulated calming aromatherapy.  Note:  Pet fees apply.
  5. Musical Moments – Just mention “MMM Tickets” when you make your reservation and we’ll make sure you have two free tickets to the Museum of Making Music placed in your room.
  6. “They Say It’s Your Birthday” – Tell us who’s birthday you’ll be celebrating while staying at West Inn & Suites when you make a reservation and we’ll make sure to place a special birthday cake and balloons in your room.
  7. When Was the Last Time Happy Hour was Free? – At West In & Suites, we offer a seasonal pour of complimentary specialty wines and beer from 5:00-6:00 p.m. for our 21 and over guests.
  8. Evening Nightcap – To add a perfect ending to your fun filled days, treat yourself to complimentary fresh baked cookies and milk in our cozy living room located right off the hotel lobby.
  9. Free Room Service – It’s true, we don’t charge for room service delivery; you’ll see the same menu and prices as if you were sitting in our Bistro West restaurant.

A Comprehensive Guide To Taking Care Of Your Appearance Without Going Broke

We all want to take care of our appearance. Those who don’t, should! It isn’t a vanity thing either. Looking good leads to feeling good, which leads to all kinds of positive things in life. When you feel good about yourself, you tend to be more proactive. You tend to make better decisions, react more effectively to certain situations. The only problem with taking care of your appearance these days, is that it can cost a lot of money. Whether you’re looking at regular salon treatments or something a bit more surgical, looking good can be heavy on your bank balance. Here are some pointers you can use to take care of your appearance without going broke. Enjoy!

Take Care Of Your Skin

The first thing you can do is take care of your skin. The earlier you begin to do this, the better. If you leave it too late, you might end up with irreparable damage. Of course you do have options like botox and surgery, but they should be last resorts. There are a number of things you need to do to take care of your skin properly. First, you need to assess your skin type. Are you greasy? Dry? Normal? When you know, you can then buy the right products to use. If you use products not designed for your skin type, you’ll make it so much worse. You should have the following products in your arsenal in order to get the best results:
Face Masks.
Special creams, such as eye wrinkle creams.

With a skin care routine that you can keep up regularly, you’ll get the most out of your skin. If you wear makeup, you’ll need to make sure you remove that thoroughly each night before bed. Never sleep in it! You don’t need expensive products to get your skin in great condition either. You can really good results with cheap products, as long as you’re consistent and watch for changes in your skin. If you want the best budget products for your skin, you can take a look here to find some suggestions.

When you’ve got your products, make sure you give yourself regular facials, and don’t skip any steps in your routine. You don’t need to do things like exfoliate every day, but applying SPF and cleansing is must. Your skin can make a huge difference to your appearance, and it’s always better to prevent wrinkles and lines before trying to get rid of them. Start now to make a big difference!

Bear in mind that your skin from season to season, so you should watch out for that too. If you can afford to take yourself for a facial every once in a while, or some other nice treatment, then do it!

Choose Your Clothes Carefully And Look After Them

Your clothes play a big part in your appearance. No matter what other people may tell you, they do matter. Not just to make a good impression on other people either, but to change your own outlook on life. It’s been proven that when we wear clothes we love, we feel more positive and act differently. So, how can you make sure you can do this without going broke? The first step is to choose your clothes carefully. Creating a capsule wardrobe is a very good idea as you can then create multiple outfits using the same items over and over. There are tutorials on how to do this everywhere! Make sure you fill your wardrobe with clothes that you love. When you love them, you’ll keep them and won’t feel the need to buy more. It’s always worth investing more in a piece you know is going to stand the test of time, than buying throw away fashion. ‘Throw away fashion’ is the reason most of us end up with no money!

When you have the clothes you like best, make sure you look after them. Following washing and ironing instructions properly. Make sure you store them properly too. This will make your clothes last so much longer. It might even be worth investing in a sewing machine and learning a few techniques to make your items last even longer!

If you need new clothes but haven’t got much to spare, try checking second hand stores. You’ll save a fortune and nobody will know the difference. You can also sell old clothes before you bring in new clothes, as it’ll make space and get you some extra cash in your pocket.

Buying more expensive clothes than usually might sound counterproductive, but it’s actually a smart move that means your clothes will be of a higher quality and stand the test of time. This is why it’s so important that you really love them!



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Learn How To Do Certain Treatments Yourself

Instead of always going to the salon for your treatments, learn how to do certain treatments yourself. You’ll save so much money. All you have to do is make sure you do them well! Facials, as mentioned before, along with manicures, pedicures, and even eyebrows will go a long way. Watch tutorials and make sure you have the right stuff to do them before you start. Especially when it comes to doing things like your eyebrows. Your eyebrows can change the whole look of your face!

Work Out At Home Or Outside

Working out always makes people look better. Plus, you’re taking care of your health! You don’t need a personal trainer or an expensive gym membership to get fit and look great. Start working out at home or outside instead. You can buy apps that give you lots of instruction. You could even purchase just a few pieces of equipment to use at home, such as kettlebells. As long as you get into a routine, you’ll still get a good routine in!

Try a mixture of cardio and strength training resistance style exercises for the best results. Don’t just pound the pavements and expect to make a huge difference to your body, as it won’t work!

Develop A Great Routine

Whatever you need to do with your day to take care of your appearance, make sure you develop a good routine. When you get into a routine, a certain order of doing things regularly, it’ll become second nature. You’ll barely even need to think about it! At first it may be a chore, but work on that routine and you won’t even notice. It only takes around 3 weeks to build up really good, strong habits. Try to keep up for that long and see if you can really change your life!


Treat Your Teeth Well

Your teeth play a massive part in your appearance too. People usually notice if you have great teeth, but unfortunately, that usually means they notice when teeth aren’t too great. Make sure you regularly brush your teeth. Once in the morning and once at night. Don’t stop there either! Floss and rinse. Make sure you use products that suit your teeth. Use home whitening strips rather than going to the dentist to clean them up a bit. However, make sure you don’t miss a dentist’s appointment if you have one. This could cost you more in the long run if you ignore a serious problem! Don’t use your teeth as tools either. Some people like to bite their nails, or even open bottles with their teeth! This is so dangerous, and can cause some real damage. If you really want to safeguard your teeth, you should look at insurance. You can find more information online at Guardian life, and similar sites.

Buy Healthy Food From The Right Places

Many people complain that buying healthy food is far too expensive. You can buy healthy food for cheap, you just need to be smart. Make sure you’re going to the right places for it. There are many stores that sell fresh fruit and veg for cheaper than mainstream supermarkets. To get the best deals, you may need to go to a few different places, but it’ll be worth it when you save a fortune on your shop! You can also save money by preparing food in advance and freezing it, especially if it’s a short date and on offer for that reason. In some cases, ready frozen and canned vegetables are fine too. You might even want to try growing your own in the garden if you have the space and skills!

You can take care of your appearance without going broke. Even when it comes to things like makeup, which can be really expensive, there are many dupe guides out there to help you look beautiful on a budget. There’s no need to miss out or feel sad because you haven’t got the bank balance of Kim Kardashian. Use the tips in this guide and keep them up. You’ll be well on your way to looking incredible and saving a fortune. Leave your thoughts below. Come back soon!

Try A New Holiday Destination And Broaden Your Horizons

Taking a holiday and getting some time away from it all is one of the real pleasures in life. Even in what seems to be a low stress job, the fact is that the same routine day after day is not great for you. Same streets, same faces, same office. Eventually it can become wearing on a person, and this is why we need a change of scenery. And when it comes to your time off, it’s why a staycation isn’t always welcome.

The New York/New Jersey area is well-served for airports that will allow you to go pretty much anywhere. Domestic flights from Newark go all over the US and provide the opportunity to see a diverse country in all its glory. The wonders of the Californian wine trail? The rugged glamor of Seattle? You can get there from Newark Airport in double-quick time.

Why not give some thought to a few locations that you might not have tried before? All of these can be reached within mere hours of parking at Newark Airport, and will be somewhere genuinely exciting to tell people about.



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Iceland is one of those locations where people in the know go on holiday. And yet it’s not become a place defined by tourism. Partly because of its location – far up in the North Atlantic – it’s not somewhere that people pass through. As a result it is untouched by the things that make a lot of countries alike. And yet it’s thoroughly modern, too. Spend the day checking out volcanoes and hot springs, and the night in some of Europe’s best nightlife.



Didier Baertschiger (Flickr)

Switzerland’s second-largest city and one of the most important in a country known for its business profile. Having said that, it would be a huge mistake to discount Geneva as a potential destination for a holiday. A lot of business travelers pass through here, but if they don’t take a free day or two they miss out on beautiful Lake Geneva. Known as the “world’s smallest metropolis”, Geneva isn’t a tourist city or a business city. It’s a city that can do both.




If your wallet or your schedule mean that traveling further out is a dream for the future, then you can still leave the country. A shorter hop away, Montreal is the standout city in Quebec. The centre of French Canada, there are gorgeous historical locations like Notre-Dame Basilica. Cultural pleasures such as the Musee des Beaux Arts will keep your artistic side interested. It’s overall a unique city in a country with a fascinating history.

A holiday somewhere new and unique will give you the chance to experience a whole different side to life. You’ll be endlessly glad that you took it, and it beats a week on the couch. Although this world has come closer together due to globalization, there is still a wealth of treasures for us to discover. Indulge your wanderlust for a while, and experience what the world has to offer.

Home Emergencies And What To Do About Them

No matter how much maintenance you do in your home, the unexpected can still happen. Read my guide below on how to keep calm and minimize any expensive re if disaster does strike.


No one wants to think about the possibility that you could have a home fire, but it’s best to be prepared. It’s imperative to have working smoke alarms throughout your home. Test them at regular intervals and resist the temptation to remove the batteries or disconnect them, even if they do go off when you’re cooking. Also make sure your appliances are in good working order or fix them before they get worse and become a fire hazard.

It is also paramount to have a planned fire escape route to preserve your family’s safety. Run through what to do in case of fire with the kids. Your plan needs to include downstairs and upstairs safe exits and how to prevent smoke getting into a room with a damp towel. Its also really good to go through the stop drop and roll procedure, as it’s always better safe than sorry.


If your home is in danger of flooding, it’s good to have a stack of sandbags at the ready. Just like if there is a fire, it’s important that you have an effective escape plan. If your home is at risk of a severe flash flood, check that you have easy access to your roof. Also, Make sure all the adults and older teenagers know how to turn off the electricity if there is a flood, to prevent electric shocks.

Once you have made the areas safe, you can begin draining the flood water from your home. Check out these flooded basement cleanup tips for some more help.

Wind Damage

If you are in a location that has high winds and gales, a good tip is to regularly check your house for any loose slats, planks or mortar. This can minimize any damage when the winds do come. If you are in tornado or tropical storm country, make sure you keep your cellar free as a refuge during the storm. You may also want to tape or board up your windows to prevent the glass from shattering all over the place. If you don’t have a cellar, then the safest place is to take refuge in the bath, as this will offer you some protect from flying debris.


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A burglary can be one of the most traumatic experiences, especially when you are still in the house when it happens. Do your best to prevent it by making sure you have sturdy locks on all your windows and doors. Don’t leave any ground floor windows open or on draught during the night. A burglar alarm is also a great deterrent for potential thieves, and a screen door is an added security measure.

If the worst does happen and someone has broken into your house, get on the phone to the police as soon as possible. Do not disturb the crime scene, as the perpetrators may have left fingerprints or other forensic evidence that can be used to catch or convict them.