Why Buy Local?

by Tiffany in Political Action

Because you really can change the world with the power of your purse!

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CustomMade Buying Local Infographic

Why Buying Local is Worth Every Cent Infographic by CustomMade

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

4 Comments on Why Buy Local?


Mother’s Day My Way – Buy Me a Groupon!

by Tiffany in Tidbits

Young woman with open arms keep yellow silk on wind.

When it comes to gifts I am all about the experience rather than “the stuff”. In fact, unless it is vintage Pyrex or Le Creuset I think I would rather not have to find a place for new trinkets, gadgets, or other products. I try to live with simplicity and minimalism in mind. I am constantly decluttering and pairing down. Accepting gifts that I don’t absolutely need makes me a bit anxious. It makes me that way because I am worried about where I will keep it (whatever it is) that is out of the way and I am worried that if I ultimately decide NOT to keep it, I will be wracked with guilt. I appreciate the thought and I adore you for trying but stuff just doesn’t push my happiness buttons.

So what does push my buttons? LIFE. Living life.

It may sounds simplistic but I am a simple gal. I love to experience new things and make memories. For that reason I would much rather have that gift card to AMC Theaters rather a gift card to Old Navy. I would much rather have a voucher for ziplining than I would a new purse.

For $25 or less I can dance the waltz, ride into the sunset on a horse, or try my skills with a sword. For $25 or less I can stuff myself with sushi, treat myself to bubble tea after my workouts every day for a week, or maybe even step into a kickboxing ring. And that is just this week. Next week I might have a whole different lineup of adventures to choose from. How so?

When Nerd Wallet asked moms what they would like to get for Mother’s Day under $25 I decided to go with a Groupon gift certificate or an actual Groupon deal purchased for me as a gift, ether would make me happy. Why? It’s easy really. Groupon allows you to try something new (food, entertainment, life skill, spa experience, etc) and support a local business (also very important to me). I don’t have stuff cluttering up my house and I have something fun to do…a new memory to make and treasure. I am also somewhat of a Groupon junkie already.

I took a quick look at what is available in my locale and saw these opportunities (all for $25 or less):

A haircut and highlights
Seafood dinner for two
Kickboxing classes
A mani pedi
Yoga classes
Ballroom dancing classes
Frozen Yogurt
Bubble Tea (Love!!)
An evening of bowling
A canvas painting class
Horseback riding lessons
A fencing lesson
A vegetarian dinner
More sushi… cannot go wrong with sushi

As I said, good food, good fun, or just some special pampering and me time. It is all available with a Groupon gift card.

What you rates higher for you? Physical gifts or experiences?


My Week With the Kia Optima Hybrid

by Tiffany in Green Cars

Last week I had the pleasure of cruising around Columbus in a Kia Optima Hybrid. It is a bit pricier than most of the other cars I have gotten to test drive of late and it was my first hybrid. My previous experience has mostly been with regular vehicles that have great fuel economy or all electric cars. I was really jazzed to get a behind the wheel of a hybrid. It took a little while to get used to because it is a very different drive.

The Optima gets an A+ for looks that for sure. It is very stylish and fairly large and spacious inside. This model was not the highest end model which has leather seats but I actually liked the look and feel of the cloth seats in this vehicle. I would not go for a light beige interior myself, because I have kids, but I am not a fan of how hot leather is in summer and how cold it is in winter so the mid range model is a perfect fit for me. Though I must add that the top of the line model has heated seats so the winter cold seats issue wouldn’t really be an issue. I do love that option. The base price starts at $25,700. The model I drove was $27,150. It has a 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty.

My favorite feature on the Kia Optima is the Push Button Start and Smart Key (below). It actually did not start out being a plus in my mind because I had the habit of tossing the key in the cupholder and then on the first day I forgot it was there and went inside the house leaving the key in the car. I remembered right away but kept thinking this was a car theft situation waiting to happen. Then I had my “Doh!” moment when I realized that I didn’t even have to take the key out of my purse. That realization made this feature quite awesome. All I had to do was grab my purse and toss it on the seat next to me, push the button, and away we went. If I wanted to lock it I could just reach a finger into my purse and activate (or deactivate) the locks. Easy peasy and no more searching for misplaced keys because they never needed to leave my purse!

When you push the start button the car has a lyrical chime and the screen behind the steering wheel welcomes you. It doesn’t sound as though the car is even on because it is in EV mode. When you step on the gas it switches into regular, non electric, mode. It will go back into EV mode when idling at a light, stopping for traffic, etc. It takes awhile to get used to how quiet it is. It also takes some time to get used to the kick between EV mode and regular because it isn’t always smooth. At first I found it very jerky and was not so much a fan but as with any car you begin to get your sea legs and it rides smoother once you are familiar with it. I appreciate the system though. The Kia engine cuts off when stopped or the electrical load is low. This saves fuel and reduces emissions. Any time the breaks are applied the Regenerative Breaking System charges the battery.

Fuel economy according to the Monroney sticker is 34 city MPG and 39 Highway MPG. I mostly drove around in the city and got 31.2 average MPG. That average did start to go up when I drove across town on the highway to take the kids to a movie but it went back down once I was back in the city. No big shocker there. I liked that the display screen has a tree with leaves and blossoms on it and the better you drive, the more flowers you have. It was nice to see that while driving (as an option) and gauge how eco friendly my driving was. Very often I had 7 of the 8 flowers and one time I managed to get all 8!! I was super stoked. ;)

Other nice features include the Bluetooth Wireless technology available. It allows you to talk on the phone hands free, using your steering wheel to answer and end calls and adjust volume. All of this is designed to help you keep your eyes on the road. It has cruise control of course (which is what allowed me to get that coveted 8th flower) and USB port to plug my phone or iPod into. The songs display on the 2nd screen (above the radio) too (love that). That same screen also displays the view from the rear view camera. This allows you to see behind you when backing out. I just adore this feature in cars, it makes backing out at grocery stores so helpful. You obviously have to look around to see if other cars or people are coming up on you but the camera allows you to look for children, who may fall below your window view area, and it tells you in no uncertain terms how close you are to other parked cars.

Also notable are the fantastic safety ratings of this car and the fact that it is manufactured in the US – West Point, GA to be exact. If you want American made cars that support American jobs then this car is a good purchase. That is not to say that all Kia’s are made here in the US, but the Optima is. I really enjoyed getting to take it for a spin!

Disclosure: I borrowed a Kia Optima  for the purposes of this review. Sadly I had to give it back…


Another Reason to Love My Bazura Bags

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Last year I got some Bazura Bags to use for packed lunches. We like them quite a bit for that use, the kids especially. A lunch bag made of recycled juice bags just has a cool factor I guess. I like them for quickie lunches on the go because they have carrying handles and it looks like a purse. Well, I am finding another wonderful use for them that makes them a bit superior to our other lunch bags/boxes… we can use them for food storage when not in use.

The medium size Bazura has become my Lara Bar storage container. Now my yummy carrot cake, coconut cream, and blueberry muffin goodness is easy to find and doesn’t end up knocked to the floor of the pantry. Not sure why but it sat empty, next to other lunchboxes in my pantry for awhile and I never figured out I could put it to use somehow. I am slow like that sometimes…

Bazura Bags can also be found at Reusit.


Eating Healthy While Traveling

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

Eating healthy while traveling is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs that a health-conscious individual may encounter. Between tight traveling itineraries and the foods that are available, more often than not even those who are health minded will find they have fewer choices than the family who will just swing through the nearest fast food restaurant. Thankfully, however, there is a way to ensure that even while traveling you can avoid the lapse into unhealthy eating. This could be for long term travel like vacations or even just short jaunts away from the home.

Tips for Eating Healthy ‘On the Go’

Brown Bag It. Whether you are looking at a full-scale lunch or just snacks, the best (and least expensive) way to eat healthfully while traveling is to pack your own snacks or lunches. Mind you brown bagging your food does not usually work if your travel involves airports, but for cars, busses and trains a carefully planned lunch or snack can save you money and guilt. Of course if you plan on eating your own lunches you will need to plan your stops accordingly and opt for rest areas or public parks instead of strip malls or convenience stations for your meal breaks. For packing snacks and meals I like LunchBots. They are perfect for veggies, fruit, and sandwiches. I also like to take Lara bars with us for snacks on the go.

I also REALLY like the stainless steel food containers from Fill Your Own. The blue container in the photo above is from this Canadian store. It is from their Panda Play collection. I packed these up recently with cherries and other fresh foods for us to take with us to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I have no qualms about taking outside food into these places because the food they offer there is terrible. I either put them in my purse or in one of the matching reusable bags that Fill Your Own sells. Snacking on cherries and Lara bars during the movie beats popcorn for sure.

Choose Wisely. When traveling it is a fact that ‘fast’ food is often the most convenient. But just because you are pressed for time – or because it the most accessible – doesn’t mean that you have to settle for unhealthy choices. If packing a lunch is not an option and you really are pressed for time, there are plenty of healthy choices when it comes to ‘fast food’ restaurants. Subway and Chipotle are two restaurants that come immediately to mind when thinking about healthier food choices. At Subway I will get a 6 inch veggie sub and at Chipotle I get a vegetarian burrito bowl. For family meals I also really like Bob Evans because they have fresh fruit plates and yogurt as meal choices for kids and adults.

Plan Ahead. Many times poor eating habits while traveling isn’t necessarily about a lack of time – or even a lack of choices – but rather a lack of planning. You rush and rush in order to get ready, but fail to eat breakfast before you leave for the airport, or bother to pack a snack for the drive, and so it is easier to just pull into a fast food joint or grab a quick bite at the airport. By planning ahead and eating before you leave, or scheduling a real dinner for after you arrive, or packing a lunch for while you’re on the road, you can avoid many unhealthy food choices.

Your choices may be limited while traveling, but you do still have choices, and no matter what your mode of transportation, you can still exercise your will power when it comes to healthy eating options and rest assured that you don’t have to stop eating healthy just because you are on the road.

What is your favorite way to deal with meals on the go or eating healthy while traveling?