Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Favorite New Local Find: Cafe Maya {#ReviewCrew}

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There are a few locations around the city here where restaurants seem to turn over more often that I would think. There is plenty of traffic, ample parking, other stores/shopping nearby, etc, yet every time a new restaurant opens and seems promising... only a short time later it is gone.

To be perfectly honest, I tend to shrug my shoulders and not think much of it. In my opinion, the past options haven't been all that special, so when one chain replaces another, it all ends up a blur in my mind.

Recently, thanks to my continued browsing of the certificate options available at Restaurant.com, I noticed that one of the restaurants was located in one of the spots with a higher turnover. Was it possible that something more worthwhile had opened in this small shopping center? That it could provide tasty enough dishes and friendly enough service that it would last?

It was time to check out Cafe Maya for myself!

Cafe Maya Madison

After opening last October in Heritage Square shopping center in Madison, WI, Cafe Maya has been gaining momentum ever since.

With a bright, relaxed atmosphere, extremely friendly staff, free wi-fi, and a menu varying between delicious coffees, tasty sandwiches, fresh croissants, and much more, it's no wonder that customers visit once and are hooked!

Cafe Maya

In my case, I was no exception.

Although I had taken a quick look at Cafe Maya's menu online before heading over, I still marveled at the variety of different options for eating and drinking that they offer. This is far more than just a coffeehouse (although there are plenty of lattes, teas, espressos, cappuccinos, and more)!

Cafe Maya menu

Although there were multiple menu items that were making my mouth water, my friend and I decided on sandwiches and smoothies as a perfect lunchtime meal — and the awesome employee behind the counter couldn't have been friendlier in answering our questions without the slightest hint of impatience or hurry.

All that was left to do was take a seat (we chose the raised bar along the sunny window) and sit back to relax and wait for our order to arrive.

First up, smoothie time! How cute are these Mason Jar mugs?!

Cafe Maya smoothies

Even though we were happily enjoying the fruity tastiness of our mango and strawberry smoothies, it wasn't much longer before our sandwiches arrived and it was time to dig right in.

Cafe Maya sandwiches

The Pesto Feta sandwich typically includes smoked turkey, pesto, feta cheese, spinach, red onions, tomatoes, and avocados, but Cafe Maya staff were more than happy to accommodate me being a vegetarian by making mine without the turkey.

And the end result was fantastic! The sourdough bread was toasted just right (from a panini press) and the flavors from the other ingredients blended together with the pesto perfectly. Even the side of greens was lightly topped with a sweet dressing that made me want more!

I literally ate every last bite and even considered licking the plate clean to make sure that I hadn't left any morsels uneaten!

empty plate

By the time we were leaving Cafe Maya, I couldn't think of anything that could have made the visit any better and both my friend and I commented multiple times about how we would definitely be back. I adore when I make a new discovery of such a unique and delectable, locally-owned establishment and hope that this one is here to stay permanently!

As an added bonus to the delicious meal and the fact that we saved a bundle by using a Restaurant.com certificate, I even brought home two of Cafe Maya's fresh pastries to enjoy later that day and the following morning. Hello, chocolate muffin and morning bun yumminess!

Cafe Maya pastries

If you have yet to try out Restaurant.com, you're missing out on all sorts of unique dining options in your local area as well as where you might be traveling. I love using their convenient app and the Deals Near Me feature to find one-of-a-kind tasty eats like this one!

For more information about Cafe Maya, head over to their Facebook page. To find out about all of the money-saving options that Restaurant.com has to offer in your area (or in an area that you are planning to visit), head over to Restaurant.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

As a member of the Restaurant.com Review Crew, I have been provided gift cards and compensation in order to facilitate my reviews. However, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Stock Up and Save on P&G Everyday Essentials This Month at Walmart! {#StockUpSave}

P&G Walmart logo
This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Walmart but all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Having been raised by thrifty and frugal parents, it's in my genes to continually be on the lookout for a good deal. After all, why spend more money on something than you have to?

So, when it comes to saving money on the everyday products and brands that we use — Bounty, Charmin and Tide, just to name a few — I'm happy to find a way to keep a few extra dollars in my pocket.

Fortunately, this month Procter & Gamble and Walmart have partnered together to help stretch our budgets a bit further with a promotion that is not to be missed. If you have items from P&G on your shopping list, then it's time to head to Walmart for the Stock Up and Save Event!

Stock Up and Save Event

The special savings is simple! This month simply head to your local Walmart (or online to StockUpSave.com) and you'll be ready to stock up (and save!) on P&G essentials as they are offering all sorts of big savings and guaranteed low prices on items such as Tide laundry detergent, Charmin toilet paper, Pampers Swaddlers diapers, and more.

With warmer weather and sunny skies on the way, it just makes sense to head to this event now so you can plan on spending more time with your family and less time running out this spring. Plus, no one wants to find themselves reaching into the closet for personal care or home cleaning items only to discover that the shelf is empty!

Seeing as I didn't need any more convincing after hearing "big savings" it wasn't long before I was at my local Walmart to stock up.

Walmart stores

Walmart is already known for offering low prices, but there is always added value — and even more savings — when you stock up with these sorts of deals! Right now this event can provide extra value on the following great P&G products:
  • Bounty Select-A-Size 12-Pack Mega Roll
  • Tide 100 oz. Original HE Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Pampers Swaddlers Huge Box
  • Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Shampoo, 23.7 oz.
  • Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Conditioner, 23.7 oz.
  • Febreze Air Effects Linen & Sky
  • Dawn Original 75 oz.
  • Gillette MACH3 Sensitive Disposable 3-Pack
  • Venus Sensitive Disposable 3-Pack
  • Gain 100 oz. Original Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Charmin Ultra Strong 36 Double-Roll Pack
  • Crest Pro-Health Rinse, Clean Mint, 250ml
I started my shopping by taking a look at the savings on a few of the P&G personal care products that just about everyone can use.

This great Head & Shoulders shampoo and conditioner are perfect for those that want a little extra nourishment for their dry scalp and I knew that I couldn't leave the aisle without grabbing a bottle of Crest Pro-Health Rinse and a package of Venus Sensitive disposable razors. My kids are hooked on using "swish" in their oral care routine and my legs have been hidden under long pants all winter and... well, let's just say it isn't all that pretty.

P&G personal care

Next up it was over into the home care section of the store to take a look at the essentials that work to keep my home clean in the spring and long beyond.

Febreze Air Effects are just the thing to ensure that guests are met with a fresh, clean scent when they step into our house (as opposed to the smell of our cats' litter box and Big Sister E's dirty socks that seem to be underfoot no matter where I step) and I love stocking up on a large bottle of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid so that we never run out — it's perfect for refills!

P&G home care

But when it comes to one of the top necessities around here, there is no doubt that I turn to Tide.

Between the daily outfits, pajamas, swimsuits and towels, soccer uniforms, muddy jackets, and more that my family goes through each week, sometimes it's a wonder to me that the washing machine isn't going 24 hours a day.

Forget all the pre-treating and scrubbing and soaking, I just stock up on Tide and know that this high quality liquid laundry detergent will do all the work for me!

Tide detergent

What P&G products can you not live without? Be sure to head to your nearest Walmart by the end of April to take advantage of the Stock Up and Save Event with me — not only will you be able to pick up everyday essentials for less, stocking up means you won't run out when you need something most!

Want to grab even more savings? Check out the rewards from P&G that are available by using the Ibotta app today! And, remember that if you would rather shop online, you can also take advantage of these great savings by visiting StockUpSave.com.

Find out more information about all of the great home and personal care products that are a part of this event by "attending" the April Stock Up and Save Event on Facebook, where you can also opt to receive reminders throughout this month to get your P&G shopping done at Walmart while the savings are high!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Taking Zoom-Zoom to the Next Level: 2016 Mazda6 i Grand Touring {Review}

Mazda logo
When my husband and I started making plans to ditch the cold weather and head somewhere warm over our kids' spring break, it didn't take too long before our search zeroed in on Southern California. Beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, theme parks galore, family-friendly museums, shopping, restaurants... the list went on and on.

However, with the amount of driving that we would need to do once we arrived in CA, I also knew that having a reliable midsize sedan would make life easier on so many levels. Plenty of space for all four of us plus luggage, a push button engine start, better EPA-estimated highway MPG than the competition, an easy to use navigation system, a rearview camera, amazing style, incredible safety, etc, etc?

Without a doubt there was no better car to find all of those features plus much, much more than in the 2016 Mazda6 i Grand Touring from Mazda.

2016 Mazda6

Available in more than half a dozen sleek and beautiful colors, I love that Mazda felt that no shade of red was good enough for their Mazda6, so they engineered an entirely new one with an elaborate three-step painting process. I'm telling you, the combination of the aerodynamic look and the flowing lines with this deep, yet vibrant, Soul Red really does make heads turn!

This car looks great in photos but they really don't compare to how gorgeous it is in person!

2016 Mazda6

After admiring this beauty from all angles on the outside...

2016 Mazda6 exterior

...it was time to hop in to see how the interior would compare.

Spoiler alert: it was just as stunning!

Mazda6 interior

The contrast of the Parchment leather (also available in black) was sleek and attractive against against the chrome and trim and there was more than enough room for each passenger to stretch out comfortably — even with popping in two booster seats.

Once inside, I found that the A-pillar design of the Mazda6 made getting in and out of the plush seats easy and that the wide armrest was positioned just right to rest my arm. Not to mention that it easily popped open for great storage as well as a must-have in my book, USB ports for charging on the go.

Mazda6 armrest

Looking across the steering wheel and controls, right away I loved that Mazda had made the large gauges easy to read and that there were so many options (Bluetooth, cruise control, etc) all right within reach.

2016 Mazda6 controls

Putting the automatic transmission into drive, it only took lightly pressing on the gas before this car rolled forward and was gliding through the streets. Immediately I adored that the overall ride is extremely comfortable and that the steering is smooth and light. Even the hum of the engine is strong but pleasing!

But boy, does the Mazda6 have some power! While yes, it has been quite a while since I was behind the wheel of anything that could remotely be considered even related to a sports car, being able to accelerate quickly when getting on a freeway or to swerve around a semi brought a feeling of confidence and security to my driving.

Combine that with the 4-wheel disc brakes and the great turning radius and I just can't think of anywhere that this automobile couldn't go!

Plus, making it even safer to drive (and as a good reminder when my foot might have been pushing on the gas pedal a tad too much), I found it fantastic that the 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring doesn't have a traditional speedometer, it instead reflects your speed right up on a little "screen" above the wheel. That made it possible that my eyes never really had to leave the road to see just how fast (or slow, in California traffic) we were going!

2016 Mazda6 speedometer

Along with providing a great ride and handling very well, the Mazda6 includes just about every possible feature that could make your time in the car more convenient.

The Bose 11-speaker sound system makes rocking out crystal clear; the heated front seats would be fantastic here in the Midwest in the winter; the dual-zone climate control is perfect for the times that I'm turning the temperature down while my husband wants to turn it up; there is plenty of storage and cup holders for everything that you might bring along with you; and much more.

When cruising around, the user-friendly 7" color touchscreen display is right where you need it to help keep you from getting lost with navigation, play your favorite tunes from a multitude of destinations, connect through Bluetooth, and more.

Mazda6 touchscreen

Even better, adjusting your navigation route, phone, music or more couldn't be much easier thanks to the knob controller right on the console that provides a second access.

Mazda6 knob controls

One of my absolute favorite Mazda6 features, however, is the way that it includes i-ACTIVSENSE®, a series of advanced safety technologies designed by Mazda to aid the driver in recognizing hazards, in avoiding collisions, and reducing the severity of accidents when they cannot be avoided.

This collection of nine different safety features do everything from warning you when you might be unintentionally drifting out of your lane to alerting you when it senses you are approaching the vehicle in front of you too quickly to actually automatically applying the brakes if it determines that a collision with an obstruction ahead is unavoidable. Incredible!!

While we fortunately didn't need or use many of these safety features during our time with the Mazda6, I loved knowing that they were in place to help keep my family secure. Every time the Blind Spot Monitoring Alert beeped to let us know it was unsafe to change lanes or the Rear Cross Traffic Alert notified us that a vehicle was approaching when we were backing out of a parking space, I gave the car a silent thank you!

Mazda6 Blind Spot Monitoring

After a week of driving the 2016 Mazda6 i Grand Touring around California, I had a difficult time saying goodbye to it. It provided great gas mileage (28 city and 40 highway), kept my family very safe in so many ways (3-point safety belts, 24-hour roadside assistance, advanced dual front airbags, front side-impact airbags, front and rear side air curtains, and more), and there wasn't a single complaint about lack of legroom, space or complete comfort.

Instead, we were too busy being in awe of the gorgeous view out of the power moonroof...

Mazda6 moonroof

...and the way that two booster seats we brought on our trip easily fit in the backseat (two convertible or infant car seats would do just the same).

Plus, popping open the trunk and finding a massively large cargo space is something that comes in handy for absolutely everyone! My husband thought there was no way we were going to fit three large suitcases and multiple other bags in the back, but they slid in there just fine!

Mazda6 trunk space
Two more large suitcases tucked in there along with a few other bags that can't be seen!

All in all, this is one sporty, midsize sedan that I would highly recommend and truly hope that I have a chance to drive again in the future.

Each day that I got in on our trip I found new features that I hadn't noticed before (Heated side mirrors! How awesome would those be in the winter? or Did you see that? The windshield wipers just went on their own! Rain-sensing wipers! Genius!) and the high quality of the Mazda craftsmanship is evident everywhere you look, inside and out.

With an MSRP starting around $30,000, the 2016 Mazda6 i Grand Touring drives well, looks amazing, and is a great choice for families. You can find out lots more on this incredible vehicle by visiting MazdaUSA.com and connecting with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Other than the Mazda6 that I was provided by DriveShop in order to facilitate my review, I was not compensated or enticed to do this review in any way. This post is solely my honest opinion about how much I loved driving this car.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Authentic Sri Lankan Cuisine and So Much More at KJ's Curry Bowl {#ReviewCrew}

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If I were to list the many things that I love about city living, the endless variety of restaurants would easily be mentioned. In the mood for an old favorite? Want to try something new? American? Ethnic? Fast food? Sit down? There are just so many choices that you'll never be able to try them all!

Most recently, thanks to the great certificate options at Restaurant.com, I was able to discover yet another new restaurant that provides a huge selection of delicious dishes sure to satisfy the entire family: KJ's Curry Bowl.

KJ's Curry Bowl Madison

Known for their authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, the menu at KJ's Curry Bowl extends much further than that, also offering American, Asian and Mexican dishes to suit each and every palate.

Tired of going out to eat and not being able to agree on a location or satisfy everyone? I love that KJ's Curry Bowl all but eliminates that problem by having such a varied selection! As I flipped through their menu, I was amazed that the options include an Asian Chicken Salad, Louisiana Gumbo, Pulled BBQ Pork, a Steak Teriyaki bowl, multiple Curry options (of course), Sizzling Fajita Bowls, a Kids Menu, and much more!

How in the world was one to decide?

KJ's Curry Bowl menu

After my friend and I had finally made our selections and placed our order, we sat back to relax and appreciate the eclectic, warm surroundings of the restaurant.

With large windows letting in lots of natural light and comfortable booths and tables to accommodate groups both large and small...

KJ's Curry Bowl restaurant

...there wasn't much more that I could have asked for.

A short while later, our friendly server reappeared with our steaming dishes in hand and it was time to eat!

KJ's Curry Bowl food

My friend's Dahl Curry (top) was fragrant and spicy (our server had done a perfect job of describing the three varying levels of spice available to ensure that it was just right) and my Vegetable & Tofu Blazing Stir Fry with Hawaiian Sweet and Sour sauce was the perfect combination of all of my favorite flavors.

As both dishes had come with our choice of white or brown rice, the portions were more than enough to fill us up and even provided leftovers that were just as sweet and spicy reheated the following day. I'm always thrilled when I not only love a dish that I order, but when it can provide me with a second meal to look forward to as well!

Before we left we chatted a little more with our server about how much we enjoyed our food and found out a bit about the spices typically used in Sri Lankan food as well as the long list of health benefits that come from eating curry powder. I had no idea!

health benefits of curry

While the prices at KJ's Curry Bowl were very reasonable to begin with, the fact that we used a Restaurant.com certificate made the whole meal even more of a bargain! Who doesn't love to save a little extra money when they go out to eat?

For more information about KJ's Curry Bowl or to plan a visit if you're in the Madison area, head to KJsCurryBowl.com and connect with them on Facebook — they even offer a huge weekend Sri Lankan Buffet on Fridays and Saturdays that I'd love to try!

When it comes to helping customers discover the unique restaurants local to their area, Restaurant.com is the site to visit to not only find a location, but get a great deal. It offers savings at tens of thousands of restaurants nationwide with an endless number of gift certificate options! To find out about all of the money-saving options in your area (or in an area that you are planning to visit), head over to Restaurant.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

As a member of the Restaurant.com Review Crew, I have been provided gift cards and compensation in order to facilitate my reviews. However, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.