I Speak Italian (Sort Of) & So Can You!

Hello, friends! Take a look at that stunning image from a lake town in Italy.  I imagine the people who inhabit that beautiful place are friendly.  I imagine that the cobblestone streets are lined with small shops and that people sit outside of cafes, chatting about life while enjoying the company of their loved ones.  I imagine all of these things because I have never  actually been to Italy (at least not from what I remember).  In the late 1980’s, my family was stationed in Germany for a few years and we had the opportunity to travel throughout several countries in Europe but, since I was still a toddler, I don’t have many memories of our time living overseas.  The travel bug has bitten me and the only cure for it is more cowbell to either hop on a plane and go somewhere new or take some time learning about a culture from afar (with the hope of one day visiting).  For now, my only option is the latter.  From the rich history to the vibrant culture, I love all things Italy.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to learn something new. I was given the gift of learning the Italian language.  I will be the first to tell you that I was both excited and nervous about the prospect of learning Italian.  Having studied other languages in the past (Spanish, French, and Arabic), I am no stranger to the amount of difficulty associated with learning and the commitment it takes to become fluent in a language that’s different from your own.  While some may think I have an affinity for learning languages (trust me, I don’t), I wasn’t as confident in my own abilities.  Then I popped in my first Pimsleur Approach Italian I CD and I really felt confident that I could do it.  “Dear Universe,” I said, “challenge ACCEPTED!”

Pimsleur Approach Italian 1

Learning with the Pimsleur Approach has been an absolute breeze. The CDs, which total over 16 hours of learning, guide you through conversational Italian.  When you begin each section, you’ll spend a minute listening to a conversation (the dialogue increases in difficulty the deeper you are into the lessons).  Afterwards, the conversation is broken down for you part by part in a listen and repeat style manner which is easy to understand and allows just about anyone to quickly pick up the language (my three year old daughter repeats some of the words and it’s adorable).

I’m only about three weeks into my lessons but I already feel confident enough to at least introduce myself to an Italian speaker as an English speaker and to let them know that I don’t speak Italian very well.  My plan is to share my progress with all of you as I continue on through this first set of CDs so feel free to follow along with me (and keep me accountable for learning).  If you’d like to join in (it’s not too late!) and learn Italian with me, you can find more information about the Pimsleur Approach on Amazon.  I would like (and plan) to continue on through their more advanced language learning CDs and, hopefully, reward myself with a trip to Italy someday where I’ll feel confident having a conversation with a native Italian all thanks to the Pimsleur Approach.

Disclosure: I was given a generous discount on my Italian language CDs in exchange for using the Pimsleur Approach and discussing my experience on It’s An Ordinary Blog. All expressed opinions are uniquely my own and I wholeheartedly endorse their approach for my readers who are looking to learn Italian. Please feel free to connect with me any time if you have questions about this review.

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“Lucy” In Review

Release Date: July 25th, 2014

Runtime: 90 minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality

Cast: Scarlet Johansson, Morgan Freeman

Lucy (2014) Poster

Coming off the weird but intriguing “Her”, and the brilliant “Under the Skin”, Scarlet Johansson is on a roll. In “Lucy”, Director and writer Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) capitalizes on this momentum and uses Johansson’s considerable charisma and talent to carry the audience through a series of logic gaps where one’s ability to suspend disbelief is thoroughly tested.

“Lucy” follows the story of a woman who is accidentally caught up in a deal, and ends up being exposed to a drug which unlocks 100% of the brain’s capacity.  This gives her all sorts of abilities which I will not reveal, but suffice it to say that it gets a little silly.  Time is stopped, gravity is ignored, etc, etc.

The premise, that humans only use 10 percent of their brains and could unlock other planes of existence by tapping into the other 90%, is a myth.  People use pretty much 100% of their brains, just not at the same time.  You don’t use all your body’s muscles simultaneously either (unless you’re using this), but that doesn’t mean those muscles don’t get used. There is no reason to use the entire brain concurrently because you don’t need all the brain’s functions at once.

With that said, the idea that a drug could let someone tap in to the brain’s full potential is intriguing.  A similar concept was executed well in the 2011 film “Limitless”, and it makes for a fun story here.  While the action is obviously unbelievable and over-the-top, it is entertaining and Johansson’s performance makes it work.

It is a little ironic that it is necessary to turn your brain off to enjoy a movie about using your entire brain, but sometimes that is okay for a summer movie.  “Lucy” doesn’t necessarily bring the ongoing Johanaissance to a new level, but it doesn’t derail it either.

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Lucy” a 7.829735623 with an emoticon based ranking of:  “YAY! Physics-free fighting!”

Welcome To Kansas City, Welcome Home!

I am a military brat so, naturally, I’ve lived in my fair share of places throughout the years. It wasn’t until after college that I found myself really searching for a place to call “home”. I’ve been in Kansas City for seven years now, and so much of my (adult) life has happened since I’ve been here that I truly feel like it’s a place I can call my own. I absolutely love life in Kansas City. Our town has so much to offer and it’s great mid-way stopping point for almost anywhere you want to travel across the country (at least that’s what I tell my friends when I’m trying to encourage them to visit).

I haven’t always felt this way about my city. The first year that I lived here, I was confident that KC was just a stepping stone to another place (Alaska? Ireland? Maine? Colorado?). Looking back, I suppose that was the military child in me who was used to being stationed somewhere different every few years. Part of the issue, though, was that I never made the effort to really explore what Kansas City has to offer. In the six years since, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at trying new things throughout the metro area and it’s really given me a deep respect for this town. My friends over at RelayRides recently asked me to share what I think some of the best “hidden gems” are here in Kansas City. In case you’re unfamiliar, RelayRides is a peer-to-peer car sharing network that connects travelers who are in need of rental cars with owners who are looking to put their otherwise idle vehicles to good use.

I spent a few minutes browsing through the listings here in Kansas City and compared them to what you might find booking through a big box car rental company. If you find yourself in need of a vehicle here in KC, be sure to check them out before your visit and, while you’re here, check out some of my favorite spots:

The Historic City Market

City Market

Located in downtown Kansas City, The City Market has a lot to offer residents and guests alike. From their great casual dining options and the weekend market that features local farmers and unique vendors to the family friendly entertainment available in the area, The City Market is truly special.

A few years ago, through my membership with The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at how the year round farmer’s market works and absolutely fell in love. With a focus on sustainability, supporting the local economy, and encouraging Kansas City to be healthier, the farmer’s market is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning. While you’re there, grab a cup of coffee from City Market Coffeehouse or a pastry from Bloom Baking Co for breakfast and stop by Al Habashi Market for some Middle Eastern treats before you head home with your fresh, locally grown produce.

Westport

Westport Kansas City

Kansas City boasts a fairly broad nightlife scene which is sure to please just about anyone. Younger millennials who enjoy dancing, loud music, and overpriced drinks served in plastic cups will undoubtedly enjoy everything that Kansas City’s Power & Light District has to offer (“Yay! Shark Bar!!!”). The rest of us, the ones who enjoy a more down-to-Earth atmosphere, will find Westport to be a much more suitable option for an evening out.

From Blanc Burgers + Bottles (When you go, order the truffle fries, trust me) to Beer Kitchen there is an abundance of dining options in the area each of which provides incredible food and a wide selection of craft beers on tap. If you’re feeling particularly energetic in the morning, Beer Kitchen serves brunch on the weekends beginning at 9:00am. Included on their menu are items such as drunken donuts, green eggs and ham, and red velvet waffles. The drunken donuts alone are worth getting up early for (because we all know anything before 11:00 on the weekends is early).

Historic Small Town Downtowns (Liberty & Independence)

It's An Ordinary Blog

Travelers staying in Kansas City might not realize how much history the area has and, although places like the Negro League Baseball Museum and the Jazz Museum are wonderful, the small downtown areas of Independence, MO and Liberty, MO are often overlooked by tourists. Both places, which are relatively equidistant from the heart of Kansas City, are rich in history and have nice downtown areas to explore. As United States History nerd, I particularly enjoy the connection between President Harry Truman and his hometown of Independence.  With the Truman Library and the Truman Home nearby, there is a lot of opportunity to learn while you’re visiting.

While exploring downtown Independence, MO a few months ago, we had the opportunity to eat lunch at a little place called Up Dog on the Square. Of particular note during our lunch was their Peanut Butter Bacon Dog, which we felt adventurous enough to split between our group. I won’t deny…it was actually really good.

These are just a few of my favorite lesser known places here in Kansas City but our town has so much more to offer. Even though I’ve been here for seven years, I feel like I discover new places and fall in love with KC again and again all the time.  The heart of the Midwest is my home and I hope that you all love it as much as I do.

Wellness Wednesdays: Let’s Talk About Skincare

ItsAnOrdinaryBlogAuthor

Hello, my name is Holli. I’m in my late twenties and I don’t take good care of my skin…

Epidermis | Dermis | Derma

Hello & Happy Wednesday!

As you know, on Wednesdays we wear pink talk about wellness.  This week, I want to talk about the biggest organ on your body: the skin.  As I inch closer and closer to my thirties, I’m starting to notice that my skin isn’t going to take care of itself and things that I could get away with (not wearing protection out in the sun, not removing makeup at night, not cleansing my skin as often as I should, etc) ten years ago simply aren’t going to fly now.  I’m well aware that I can’t altogether prevent the effects of aging but there are some things that I can do (and you can too!) to help maintain my youthful glow for as long as possible.

I will admit that the process of developing a skincare regime that works for me has been a bit of a learning curve.  I’ve never really known how to properly apply makeup, what order certain products are supposed to be used, or what all I need to help protect my face and prevent (prolong) the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  Tonight, I want to share what I’m doing right now to help take better care of my epidermis.

Skincare

1. I Cleanse My Skin Daily

As skin ages, it starts to dry out and I’ve found that to be true especially for the skin on my face. I’ve been using a cleansing routine geared towards people who are prone to dry skin and I’ve found that it works really well for me.  The biggest takeaway is that you need to find out what type of cleansing product works well for you and use it daily.

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 2. I (Try To) Watch My Diet

If you’d approached me on the street five years ago and told me that eating diary (for me) would make me more prone to acne, I would never have believed you.  That’s because I didn’t understand the importance of eating the right foods to maintain healthy skin.  I discovered after the birth of my daughter that I am lactose intolerant (too bad I really, really enjoy a nice, cheesy pizza) and I’ve noticed that the less dairy I eat, the better my skin feels and looks.  I did a little research (and I encourage you to do the same) and learned that what you put in your body really does play a critical role in how your skin reacts.  #MindBlowing

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3. I’m Not Afraid To Try New Things

The most important thing that I’ve learned, when it comes to my own skincare, is to not be afraid to try something new.  There are so many products out there, each of which makes claims to help promote or prevent certain things and some work for some people while others don’t.  I approach trying a new skincare product with an objective point of view.  Just because I’ve tried a product that’s similar without success doesn’t necessarily mean that I would enjoy the new one.

I’m still relatively new to this whole “let’s take care of our skin because we’re almost thirty and it’s important so you don’t look like a 89 year old before you have to” thing and I’m sure I’ll have a more firm approach in the coming months but, for now, this is where I’m at. I would love to hear what you do to take care of your skin…feel free to connect with me in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” In Review

DisneyToon Studios, the division of WaltDisney Animation Studios responsible for “Planes” and a bunch of straight-to-video sequels that you never knew existed, is back for more cash with “Planes: Fire & Rescue”, which opened in theaters nationwide on Friday.

Planes: Fire & Rescue

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Release Date: Friday July 18th, 2014

Runtime: 83 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG for action and some peril

Cast: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, John Michael Higgins, Julie Bowen

Disney’s latest film set in the same universe as “Cars”, starts off where last year’s “Planes” left off. Although the film is more suited for younger audiences, “Planes: Fire & Rescue” is generally more successful than its predecessor in telling a compelling story that holds your attention throughout its relatively short screen time.

Planes-2-Fire-and-Rescue-1

Meet (again): Dusty Crophopper (still Dane Cook), a successful racer and an international celebrity. He’s amazing, incredible, people love him (until he starts telling the same stories over and over and over and over again for several years in a row).  That is all well and good until he breaks his gearbox and can no longer race.  After a fire in his hometown Propwash Junction, non-compliance on fire-safety regulations threaten to shut down the local airport. To save the airport, Dusty decides to become an aerial firefighter. The rest of the movie follows Dusty’s adventure as he learns to fight fires and puts his new skills to the test.

Disney Planes Fire and Rescue

While not as impressive as movies made by Disney’s Pixar, the movie is very visually appealing.  The fire and smoke add an extra dynamic to the action and the extended action sequences are genuinely enthralling.  I think what I appreciate most, though, is the reverence with which it treats its subject matter.  This film is, in essence, a tribute to firefighters and recognizes them as the unsung heroes who rush into situations when everyone is running (or in this universe, driving and flying) away.  The movie is surprisingly serious. It is long on action, short on gags, and the jokes that are there are not particularly clever or amusing; however, the story and the message that it conveys make this a worthy summer distraction for your little ones.

Planes Fire & Rescue

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Planes: Fire & Rescue” a 2.893485 with an emoticon based sub ranking of “hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…aww.”

 

“Sex Tape”: A Movie Review

Moviegoers in search of Summer’s latest Blockbuster hit will be looking to head to the box office this weekend and, with a variety of movies slated to open spanning various genres, they’ll have their pick of the litter to chose from.  “Sex Tape”, starring Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz, looks like a promising Summer rom-com, but does it fit the bill?

Sex Tape

Sex Tape Movie Reivew

Wide Release Date: Friday July 18, 2014

Running Time: 94 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.

CastCameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe

Sex Tape Movie In Review

“Sex Tape”, which opened in theaters nationwide on Friday, follows the story of married couple Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segal) whose missing sex tape leads them on the adventure of an otherwise dull evening a lifetime.  Mommy Blogger Annie and her husband Jay have two beautiful children together and a seemingly wonderful life but, like so many others, they’ve lost the spark that once brought excitement and thrill to their relationship.  In an effort to rekindle their romance, Annie surprises Jay with an evening in…without the kids.  Fast forward to the next morning when Jay realizes that the sex tape they made the night before has traveled into the cloud (“ooooh, the clllloooouuuuddd!”).

What Is The Cloud

“Nobody Understands The Cloud!” Just kidding, here you go (you’re welcome).

Not only has the three hour documentary of what happens when parents stop being sober (polite) and start getting drunk (real) traveled up to the cloud, but it’s also been seen by someone…and Jay can’t seem to figure out who it is. The remainder of the movie follows the desperate attempts that Annie and Jay make to protect their image and retrieve the devices that contain their amueture adult film.

The film inspires a few laughs and has the makings of a good comedy but isn’t without its shortcomings.  When you take it at face value, coming in with little expectation (like I did), you’ll likely enjoy what it has to offer.  Audiences on the hunt for this season’s best romantic comedy, however, will find that “Sex Tape” misses the mark. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a fairly ridiculous movie but it’s moderately enjoyable which is all that I think it was aiming for (hopefully).  After a slow start, “Sex Tape” picks up the pace in the back half of the film but tries to wrap up the story in a neat bow which is, perhaps, the biggest complaint that I have.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Sex Tape” a 8.9348394 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Who does that?! I mean, really…” <— And you’ll have to watch the movie to find out exactly what I’m talking about (hint, it’s not about the sex tape).

Sex Tape Movie Review

Let’s Talk About The Moment…

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Hello, friends.

If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you’ve probably caught onto the fact that it’s pretty rare for me to share emotional, intimate posts. It’s not because I don’t love you all (because I do “awwww!“), I’ve just never felt entirely comfortable opening up to strangers on the interwebz (it’s a miracle I even have a blog, seriously). Something happened to me on Monday and it wasn’t pleasant. I had, what some might call, a moment.

I had a moment and I think it’s important to understand what’s been leading up to it…

My three year old is amazing. She’s funny, smart, quick, and loving but she’s also a human toddler which, by definition, also makes her a bit of an asshole at times. She’s been testing her boundaries a lot lately and I try to remain as patient as possible as she learns how to navigate through this big World but sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I lose my shit cool and I find myself YELLING at a helpless little child who doesn’t really deserve my harsh tone.

I imagine, in those times, I look a little something like this:

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Poor Unfortunate Souls

It’s not my child’s fault that I yell. It’s her job to learn, to grow, and to challenge me. It’s my job, as a mother, to love her unconditionally and help her grow, learn, and interact with other people. In those moments, where the inner sea witch in me is hurling her ugly face out of the water, I am the worst and those feelings of inadequacy come creeping back in. In those moments, I feel like the worst, most unfit mother to my daughter. Those kinds of feelings eat you alive.

We’ve had some challenging mornings lately where I’ve raised my voice more than I care to admit and so I was already feeling pretty down about my parenting abilities. On Monday evening when I started thinking about all of the ways in which I’m failing as a mom, life hit me like a ton of bricks. I just can’t do anything right.

I can pinpoint the exact moment that the overwhelming negativity invaded my mind. I was sitting at the dinner table and all of the sudden, the darkness settled in and all of the things that I’ve done wrong in my role as a mother, as a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a writer, and a consultant hit me. In that moment, I felt pretty shitty.

So I had a come to Jesus talk with myself over a very long and tearful shower and I went over my choices:

  • Run away. 
  • Ignore my problems.
  • Deal with it and try to be better.

I realized that the only option I have is to deal with the issues (the yelling, the feelings of inadequacy, the shortcomings in my personal and professional life, etc) head on. I’m an adult so maybe it’s time for me to put on my big girl panties and face it. In the days that have passed, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and I’ve come to one conclusion:

The-only-person-you-should-try-to-be-better-than-is-the-person-you-were-yesterday

I’m going to have days where I feel like the biggest jackass that’s ever walked the Planet. I’m going to have moments where I raise my voice when I need to remain calm (I am human, after all). I’m going to have times when I don’t knock off every item on my to-do list for the day and I need to be okay with that. I need to step back and realize that I am not competing against the mother of the year, the perfect spouse, or the ideal _____ (fill in the blank). I am competing against myself. Every day.

In those moments, like the one I had on Monday, I need to remind myself that I can’t change the past but I can always strive to be better in the future. Who knows, maybe you need that reminder too…

Wellness Wednesdays: Vitamin C Serum by Pure Body Naturals

 

Hello & Happy Wednesday, Everyone! As you know, I try to take some time out each week to talk about what I’m doing for my own wellness. As I’ve gotten older (gag), I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to get serious about skincare. I recently had the opportunity to learn about Vitamin C Serum, which is supposed to help prevent the impacts of aging. I’ll admit, at first I wasn’t sure what to think about using any sort of serum on my face other than my standard beauty routine but I have to say, after using it for a few weeks, I love it. In case you’re wondering exactly what Vitamin C Serum is all about, take a look at the information from Pure Body Naturals below:

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“See The Anti Aging Power Of Vitamin C + E + Hyaluronic Acid & Instantly Gain Brighter More Radiant Beautiful Skin Upon Application with our Professional Anti-Aging Serum.

Our Facial Serum Contains Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Suspended in a Concentrated base of Pure Vegan Hyaluronic Acid For Superior Anti Aging Effects.

-  Vitamin C helps smooth and firm skin and fade brown spots by inhibiting the free radicals that trigger wrinkling, sagging, and other aging changes. Apply Vitamin C in the morning,  to protect your skin from free radicals caused by sun damage.

- With bounds of studies singing its praise, Vitamin E is a skincare superstar. The vitamin has been proven to ease dryness and boosts skin’s UV defense.

- Hyaluronic acid, or sodium hyaluronate as it’s also known, has become a serious skincare staple. It’s the body’s own hydrating molecule, able to absorb up to 1000 times its own weight in water and responsible for keeping our skin plump, smooth and supple. Sadly, our natural levels deplete as we age, so fight off fine lines and a loss of skin tone with our latest Vitamin C Serum.”

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What I enjoy most about this Vitamin C Serum is that I can feel my skin tightening after each use and it helps me feel confident that the product is working exactly as the manufacturer intended it to.
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I definitely recommend Vitamin C Serum by Pure Body Naturals for anyone who is concerned about aging skin. If you’ve tried it, I would love to hear your thoughts!

 Pure Body Naturals provided me with a discount on their Vitamin C Serum so that I could test it out and provide my honest feedback on their product.Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tips To Save Money on Your Sweet Summer Trip

Tan-Tar-A Lake Of the Ozarks

Sweet, sweet Summertime.  The only few months of the year that you can get away with rolling out of bed, throwing your hair into a messy bun with a headband, and leaving the house in a pair of gym shorts and a shirt without actually going to the gym (heat makes you sweat, sweat burns calories, right?! Right.)  The meaning of Summer has changed a lot for me over the last decade. In college, Summertime meant a trip abroad or a job to save money for a car. After college, Summertime started to lose its glory as life in the adult World became my reality. I actually found myself resenting Summer because, let’s be honest, I don’t really enjoy heat or the humidity here in the central Midwest. Now that I have a child of my own, I’m starting to enjoy Summertime again. As this point in my journey, I’m noticing things about Summer (and the beauty of the season) from an entirely different vantage point.

LakeOfTheOzarks

I have really fond memories from my own childhood spending time at the Lake Of the Ozarks in Missouri. My late grandfather, Grandpa Bob, had a lake house for several years. That meant late night card games, days on the boat, and Shirley temples at some dock restaurant on the water. I’d almost forgotten some of those special moments until two years ago, when our family decided to take bi-annual trips to the lake together in his memory. It’s become sort of a tradition for us to stay at Tan-Tar-A, a family resort located in Osage Beach. We love all of the great amenities that the resort has to offer and, at only two and a half hours away, the location is ideal.

Tan Tar A

We checked in on a rainy Saturday afternoon (which made for an incredibly nice and cool evening once the rain subsided) which gave us the perfect opportunity to unpack and settle into our room before dinner. Pictured above (sorry for the blurry image, I had forgot my camera during our trip) is the view from our room. Incredible, right?!

Tan-Tar-A Lake Of the Ozarks

We split our Sunday between time on the Lake and time at one of the many pools available on site at the resort but the best part of our trip, by and far, was spending time with family.

Ozarks

After all the time outdoors, I came back to Kansas City with the best tans we’ve had in years (I generally sport a ghostly white complexion which seems to compliment my nerdy personality quite well).

TanTarA1

As amazing as taking trips each year (or every other year, in my case) can be, vacationing can be a bit of a budget buster. We saved a lot of money on our trip this year and I wanted to take a few minutes to pass along how we made our trip more affordable to each of you.

Ozarks

Three Ways To Save Money On Your Next Trip

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1. Spent Where It Matters, Save Where You Can 

The first time that we stayed at Tan-Tar-A, we stayed in a single room in one of the hotel buildings on the property. Never having been to the resort before, we thought we were making the economical choice for our trip. We paid roughly $90/night plus taxes and fees for a room with a single King sized bed and a bathroom. Our only option for meals during our stay was to eat out, which added up quickly. Had we known then what we know now, we would have decided differently.

This year, we stayed in a one bedroom suite with a large bathroom, a pull out sofa bed in the living room, a spectacular view, and a kitchenette with a full sized refrigerator. At right around $160 a night, this option had a larger upfront cost but we were able to bring our own food which allowed us to make better choices with how we ate and was a more cost effective choice  in the long run.

Ice Molds

2. BYOB (Seriously)

Let’s face it, there’s not much that compares to an ice cold beer when you’re out on the Lake but buying from the resort or a dockside restaurant can cost a pretty penny. This year, we decided to bring our own alcohol and saved big. One of the problems with bringing your own drinks is the issue with keeping them cold. I brought these cool StyloPhora ice molds with me this year and they kept my drinks COLD without diluting them (the ice lasts longer, it’s science).

TanTarAPool

3. Make Your Days Count

It’s true what they say in that quality matters much more than quantity and one thing I’ve learned in the last few years is that taking shorter trips is not only better for your budget but can also be more fun. A lot more fun. We’ve taken long trips before where half of our days are spent trying to figure out how to enjoy the other half. Not only is that a massive waste of time but it’s also a big budget killer. Now our days are pretty packed while we’re traveling but we get a lot more out of our trips at a fraction of the cost.

We had such a blast this year enjoying the scenic Lake Of the Ozarks and I can’t wait to come back and enjoy it again in 2016. No matter where you plan to go this year, enjoy it!

Introducing Custom Canvas Prints from CanvasHQ

CanvasHQ

Hello & Happy Monday, Everyone!

Would you believe me if I told you that, up until just two years ago, I had absolutely no idea that you could order your favorite photographs on canvas?!  I grew up in a family album / photographs in frames on the mantel kind of household and was absolutely blown away when I discovered that I could decorated my house with photography on canvas.  As much as I love canvas prints (which is a lot), my first experience in ordering them could have been better.  I ordered from a company online and experienced several delays and shipping issues with a few of the five prints I ordered.  Overall, though, I was really happy with the result. Take a peek:

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Even though I loved how my entryway transformation turned out, I was hesitant to take on any projects involving canvas prints because of how difficult my first experience was.  Fast forward 18 months when I was given the opportunity to work with CanvasHQ (full disclosure) on a product review.  I was really excited at the prospect of having a more positive experience ordering canvas prints and so I very willingly agreed to work with the company…and I’m so glad that I did.

CanvasHQ

CanvasHQ is a really great company to work with and I am beyond thrilled with the quality of service I received from them.  Their easy to navigate website is very user friendly and I’m confident that anyone with internet access and a few good pictures on their computer would find ordering from them to be a positive experience.  I also appreciate that they offer a variety of different canvas prints at several price points which makes ordering custom artwork affordable for almost any budget.

If you’re not into photography on canvas (which I will totally secretly judge you for if you tell me), CanvasHQ still has you covered.  They’ve got an entire section on their website dedicated to inspiring you to decorate your space.  I would encourage you to take a peek at what they have to offer on their canvas art ideas page.

Overall, my positive experience in ordering from CanvasHQ left me feeling confident in the possibility of ordering canvas prints in the future and, now that I know how great the company is, I’ll be ordering from them again.

Disclosure: CanvasHQ provided me with a generous discount (100% off) in exchange for my unbiased and honest review. Regardless, all expressed opinions are uniquely my own. I only recommend products or services to my readers that I genuinely believe would be good for my readers. Please feel free to connect with me anytime with questions about this review. It’sAnOrdinaryBlog[at]gmail[dot]com.