Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Keeping Your Family Prepared and Safe on the Road with Rain-X {Wiper Blades and Glass Cleaner Giveaway}

Rain-X logo
While I have all kinds of concerns (some warranted, some not) when my kids head off to school each day, I try to remind myself to simply focus on the things that I can control and not fret about those that I cannot.

Work to ensure that my kids get a good night's sleep and a filling, healthy breakfast so that they're ready to take on the day? Check. Protect them from the harsh, cutting words of bullies or mean girls? Deep breath, let's just cross that bridge when we come to it.

Fortunately, one aspect on my list of worries that doesn't come up often is my children's safety during the commute to and from school. We live close enough that, weather permitting, I walk with my kids to and from, so I don't have to think about what I'm doing to keep them safe during that time.

However, during the long winter months when the temperatures are frigid or on days when the rain just won't let up, I pull out the car and suddenly I have a new level of anxiety... which is why I feel better knowing that I can turn to the the name who has provided drivers with products to help them outsmart the elements for the last 40 years: Rain-X.

Rain-X products

Starting with their Original Glass Treatment water beading technology, Rain-X now offers wiper blades, glass cleaners, car washes, waxes, bug and tar removes, headlight restoration kits and more — they lead the automotive aftermarket in glass care.

This is why when Rain-X focuses on encouraging drivers to prepare for even the most unexpected weather conditions this school year, we need to listen! Why would you not want to stay one confident step ahead of Mother Nature on the road this season and beyond?

In fact, a new survey from Rain-X has revealed that up to 94% of parents admit to having anxiety about someone else driving their children to school. The greatest cause for concern (93%) comes during times of unpredictable and inclement weather like rain, sleet or snow. Whether kids and teens take the bus, ride in a carpool or drive themselves, their safety during the commute is a primary concern among parents.

school safety infographic

For 62% of parents, safety concern stems from nervousness over decreased visibility that the driver could experience during bad weather. Parents whose children ride the bus (52%), carpool with another driver (49%) and parents of teen drivers (32%) all worry that drivers and their vehicles may not be prepared for such conditions.

However, more than 8 in 10 parents said their concerns would be alleviated knowing a vehicle was properly maintained with features like a water-repellent product for windshields, windows and mirrors for optimal visibility in even the worst weather conditions. It's time to ensure that all vehicles transporting kids are prepared!

Rain-X on school bus

In addition to keeping windshields their cleanest, Rain-X formula also repels rain, sleet and snow with its water beading technology. This technology causes water on the vehicle windshield to bead up and roll away, enhancing driving visibility in inclement conditions.

Considering that greater visibility means that drivers can ensure safer rides to and from school for students, the result is that parents and families are provided with greater peace of mind during the school year. It should definitely be more than just school buses that have the cleanest, clearest windshields possible!

Rain-X 2-in-1 glass cleaner

Don't take chances on the road! Rain-X products are available from RainX.com as well as major retailers, automotive retailers and Amazon.com so there is no reason to not be well-equipped this fall, winter and beyond.

You can also find more information, tips and products by connecting with Rain-X on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

And, thanks to their generosity, one person will be prepared to drive more safely very soon, because...

One lucky person will win a set of Rain-X Latitude Wiper Blades* and a bottle of Rain-X 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner with Rain Repellent!

Rain-X giveaway
*in the form of a redemption coupon so that the winner can get the correct size for their vehicle


A big thank you to Rain-X for providing products for me as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Part 2: Adventures in Shopping, Playing and Visiting Fond du Lac, WI {#VisitFDL}

Have you read my Part 1 on many of the amazing, incredible, fun things to do in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin? If you're not already planning your visit so that you can take a dogsled ride, eat homemade ice cream and drive a UTV through the woods (among other things), then check out even more reasons why you'll want to make Fond du Lac your family's next vacation destination...

Outdoor Attractions

The Little Farmer

One of the oldest and largest orchards in the Lake Winnebago area, The Little Farmer is a combination orchard and market, with even more family fun thrown in. Take the hayride to pick apples and pumpkins, let your kids run and climb in the play area, feed the goats and sheep in the animal corral, wind your way through the Amazing Corn Maze and purchase the most delectable-smelling pies and muffins in the Apple House.

But no matter if you visit The Little Farmer to take beautiful fall family photos, go on an educational tour or simply to stock up on delicious apples, bakery items, popcorn, jams & jellies, homemade applesauce, honey, gifts or more, a visit wouldn't be complete without their one-of-a-kind caramel apples. Choose the size and whether you want it sliced before watching their "caramel apple technicians" dip it in homemade caramel and top it with your choice of toppings!

The Little Farmer Fond du Lac

Meuer Farm

The Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association 2013 Business of the Year award-winner, Meuer Farm is a 150-acre working family owned farm filled with fall fun for the whole family. Check out their straw fort, farm animals, hayrides, kids' games, 80-foot tube slide, corn cannons, pumpkin patch, strawberries, fresh popped kettle corn (SO good!), maple syrup and honey... before heading to their HUGE corn maze!

Known for being the largest corn maze in the area, this year Meuer Farm is celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons in their creative design. The maze itself covers 10 acres and is divided into two separate mazes, Phase 1 (smaller) and Phase 2 (larger). Navigating both phases requires participants to answer trivia questions on a passport, which are available on a variety of topics and levels of difficulty but it all adds up to a whole lot of fun!

Meuer Farm Fond du Lac

LaClare Farms

An award-winning goat farm with a gift shop and café, LaClare Farms is family-owned and follows the motto that "Great milk makes great cheese." Inside their store, visitors can find wine, ice cream, craft beer and soda, as well as a wide variety of amazing artisan cheeses (they are especially known for their Evalon, named one of the top 16 cheeses in the world).

As well as a complimentary wine and cheese tasting, seeing adorable baby goats, and watching the 4:30pm daily goat milking, my visit to LaClare was complete when I had the chance to step into the pen and feed the goats for myself (a handful of feed only costs 25¢). These friendly animals are happy to see people and will chew on just about anything that comes near their mouth... evidenced by the bite marks in my nametag and the slobber marks on my shirt and sweater! I couldn't stop laughing!

LaClare Farms Fond du Lac

Calumet Harbor Marina

A family run marina on the east side of Lake Winnebago, Calumet Harbor Marina is a full-service marina with 62 slips equipped with shore power and water. Also available are bathroom and shower facilities, boat gas, boat service, travel lift service and boat storage... but for those of us non-boaters, the 70-foot observation Columbia Park Tower is worth the climb for breathtaking photo opportunities.

Lakeside Park and Lighthouse

A beautiful 400-acre park located on the south end of Lake Winnebago, Lakeside Park features a picnic area, shelters, playground equipment, an antique carousel, a miniature train, a marina filled with all kinds of boats and more.

Although it has closed for this year (April 15 - October 15), a climb to the top of the iconic 40-foot high Lakeside Park Lighthouse is a must when visiting Fond du Lac. This observation tower was built in 1933 and is not only a sight itself, but the views from the top provide incredible souvenir photos.

Lakeside Park Fond du Lac

Historic Galloway House & Village (and Haunted House!)

Giving visitors the chance to see what life was like in the late 1800's, Galloway House & Village is made up of the 30-room mansion itself, the surrounding 25 historic buildings and more than 15 acres of grounds and gardens. Including a photographers' shop, dress shop, newspaper print shop, one-room school, church (the chapel is still used for weddings, baptisms and baby showers) and more, this is a beautiful location to explore the history of the area.

However, from October 10 to November 1, the historic Galloway House & Village gets an eerie, spooky makeover, transforming into the Ghosts of Galloway Haunted Village. While I was initially concerned about entering anywhere that is haunted (I mentioned that I'm a wimp, right?), this ended up being an extremely fun, scream-inducing visit.

Although I wouldn't recommend this for the younger crowd (a toned-down version is available on two weekend afternoons for less of a scare), it was a definitely an interactive, frightful-yet-not-horrifying activity for teenagers (and us adults).

Galloway House Fond du Lac

Where To Shop

Kreative Kraftwerks

A family-owned business that was established in 2002, Kreative Kraftwerks offers soaps, candles, lotions and many other unique gift items along with classes and workshops. There is even a special section of Farm Kids Soap, handcrafted by the owner's grandchildren!

We had the opportunity to not only shop the wonderful selection at Kreative Kraftwerks, but to create our own lotion and firestarter. The result was an extremely fun visit!

Kreative Kraftwerks Fond du Lac

Just Fare Market

A non-profit, volunteer store that has partnering with wholesalers, artisans and farmers in the developing world, shopping at Just Fare Market feels good for the soul. Why would I not want to find amazing handcrafted clothing, decor, paper products, jewelry, food, toys and more while knowing that I'm contributing to improving lives through global partnerships and fair trade?

You end up with a fair price for products, empowerment, self-sufficiency, investment in communities and gender equity, environmentally sustainable practices and more... and getting to bring home high quality, unique gifts for myself, my family and my friends. Perfect!

Just Fare Market Fond du Lac

The Plaid Squirrel

Home to over 80 local artists in nearly every medium imaginable, The Plaid Squirrel specializes in reclaimed, recycled and recovered pieces that you won't find anywhere else. Inside the shop (as well as outside and throughout its gardens), you'll find original paintings, photography, glass, metal, wood, knitted items, jewelry, furniture, accessories and much more on consignment from the creators. If you have an interest in art, this is the destination for you!

Plaid Squirrel Fond du Lac

Faris Popcorn

Known for handcrafting their popcorn in small batches to maintain the best taste and utmost in freshness, Faris Popcorn uses only wholesome natural ingredients to create dozens of tasty popcorn flavors. Sure, you've had caramel corn and cheese corn, but what about s'mores, rocky road, caramel apple or buffalo wings popcorn? Plus, if Faris Popcorn doesn't have the flavor that you're looking for, send them a message and they'll even try to pop it up for you!

Gallery & Frame Shop 

While you're in downtown Fond du Lac, be sure to stop in Gallery & Frame Shop, a full service custom picture framing, art consulting and gallery that opened in 1975. Specializing in protective and shadow box framing, this is also the place to go for mat cutting services, custom, ready-made and photo frames.



If you are a fellow Wisconsinite and have just never been to Fond du Lac, plan your visit today! Or, if you're from out-of-state but know that you'll be passing through our Midwestern land in the future, make it a point to add Fond du Lac to your travel list (and visit the Fond du Lac Convention and Visitors Bureau for even more info).

There is so much indoor and outdoor fun to be had all year long that you'll want to "C'mon In" to see these locations for yourself and discover a few hidden gems of your own!

A special thank you to the Fond du Lac Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for putting together a wonderful Midwest Bloggers Meetup. Although I received free items/admissions throughout this trip, all opinions shared are completely honest and my own.

Part 1: Adventures in Eating, Playing and Staying in Fond du Lac, WI {#VisitFDL}

Fond du Lac logo
While there are plenty of times when I've complained about living here in Wisconsin (mainly during the middle of winter when the temperatures don't go above freezing), it really is a great place to live.

People's personalities alternate between Midwestern hospitality and hard-core sports fan, there is never a dull moment with activities and events going on in each season, and, currently, the amazing colors, scents and tastes of fall are in a category of beauty all their own.

Most recently, I was able to experience an area in Eastern Wisconsin in which I've never been and it proved yet again why this state has every right to be proud of its cities. Thanks to the Fond du Lac Area Convention & Visitors Bureau I have been introduced to the incredible attractions, restaurants and shops of the one and only Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Fond du Lac c'mon in

Nestled along the shores of Lake Winnebago, Fond du Lac is the perfect combination of small town charm with big city amenities. No matter if your interests include hiking, windsurfing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, biking, shopping, golfing, dancing or just having a vacation filled with tons of fun, this is one location that is full of some of the most family-friendly activities around.

Where To Stay

Retlaw Plaza Hotel

While there are over 700 guest rooms in Fond du Lac to provide a comfortable place to rest and sleep, I'm not sure any of them compare to the elegance and history of the Retlaw Plaza Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, the Retlaw is truly Fond du Lac's premier hotel, combining the elegance of its historical two story lobby and crystal chandeliers with 21st century updates and technology (wireless internet is always a must).

The Retlaw has plenty of rumors of haunted happenings and sightings over the years, so if you're into that sort of thing, you'll love finding out more about what spooky, ghostly occurrences have been said to happen. If you're not, however (hand raised! Self-described wimp right here!), you'll instead get to enjoy the friendly, helpful staff, baked-to-order omelets, complimentary access to the Retlaw Health Club and more.

Retlaw Hotel Fond du Lac

Where To Eat

Schreiner's Restaurant and Bernie's Pub

A Fond du Lac landmark since 1938, Schreiner's Restaurant is famous for scratch-prepared food and professional service. Whether you stop in to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner or just come in for a bowl of their famous New England Style Clam Chowder and a slice of award-winning pie, it's no wonder that they're known as the Fond du Lac destination for comfort food for over 75 years.

Along with their full menu, Schreiner's also offers a Pub Menu served in their cozy Bernie's Pub portion of the restaurant. It's the perfect place to grab a delicious drink and a basket of cheese curds or fried pickles!

Trinity Restaurant

Originally Trinity Lutheran Church of Fond du Lac, the beautiful building was completely renovated and repurposed into Trinity Restaurant in 2012. With a passion to deliver an extraordinary experience for every guest, Trinity is committed to serving the highest quality steak, seafood, handcrafted cocktails and award-winning wines. The result is a unique and unforgettable dining experience filled with ambiance, hospitality and charm.

Confections For Any Occasion by Joel

confections for any occasion by joelFounded by Joel Bernhard, a young blind entrepreneur in the fall of 2000, Confections for Any Occasion is located down the road from Fond du Lac in Theresa, WI. This charming shop offers everything including candies, chocolates, wines, fudge, ice cream and a small menu of burgers, soups and sandwiches, all served with a smile from Joel himself.

Kelley Country Creamery

If you are in the mood for old-fashioned premium ice cream, there is no better place than Wisconsin's BEST ice cream shop (as ranked by USA Today), Kelley Country Creamery. With a dairy farmstead that has been part of the Kelley family since 1861, Kelley Country Creamery uses farm-fresh, non-homogenized milk from their own cows and carefully crafts it into their 300+ amazing flavors.

Best enjoyed with family or friends when you can come inside and sit for a while (or pick your favorite wooden rocking chair that line the wrap-around porch), the most difficult part of visiting Kelley Country Creamery is deciding which of their scrumptious flavors is your favorite. It's no wonder that folks travel from across the globe for a visit and that this family-owned creamery has been featured on Good Morning America!

Kelley Country Creamery Fond du Lac
Don't let the plain appearance of my ice cream fool you. This is the Pumpkin Bumpkin flavor and it is divine!!

Where To Find An Adventure

Road America

Situated on 640 grassy acres of rolling, wooded hills, Road America is a world-acclaimed facility offering a wide range of opportunities for groups and events of all sizes. Along with fulfilling your need for speed in their race cars (they are home to the fastest permanent road racing circuit in the world), Road America offers off-road UTV trails, go-karts, hayrides, a new 1400-foot dual racing zipline, Sunset Cruising, geocaching, paintball, disc golf, snowshoeing and more.

We had a blast experiencing only a portion of what Road America has to offer and I think I'm hooked on UTV-ing! Maybe it was the amazing fall colors or maybe it was the feeling of power when you press the gas pedal and that little vehicle goes roaring straight up a hill, but this is a new one on my favorites list!

Road America Fond du Lac

Fondy Sports Park

Open daily from April to October, Fondy Sports Park has family entertainment covered on every level. Options include arcade games, a rock wall, batting cages, mini golf, bumper boats, go-karts, off-road ATV-style go-karts, a paintball shooting gallery, trampolines, Hi-ball, a climbing crazy maze, a zero gravity spinner and a driving range, so there's no chance of getting bored here — I need to bring my kids, stat!

Fondy Sports Park Fond du Lac

Wind Power Windsurfing & Kiting Center

Have you ever been windsurfing or kiting? Me, neither! But if you've ever wanted to give either one a try or purchase equipment for them, then there's no better place to go than the Midwest's only on-the-water full service shop, Wind Power Windsurfing & Kiting Center.

Here, you'll find friendly and knowledgeable staff that can give the entire family lessons on windsurfing and kitesurfing (whether on the water or on the ice and snow!) as well as stand-up-paddling, kayaking, sailing and more.

Wind Power Fond du Lac

The Siberian Outpost

If you're looking for a unique experience, look no further than The Siberian Outpost. Home to many adorable Siberian Huskies (many of them rescues), these amazing dogs have been trained as a team to do rides and demonstrations tailored to their visitors. No matter what time of year you visit, you'll fall instantly in love with the passion of the owner, the excitement of the dogs and the overall incredible adventure.

The Siberian Outpost Fond du Lac

Indoor Attractions

Children's Museum of Fond du Lac

The Children's Museum of Fond du Lac's mission is to create hands-on learning experiences through interactive exhibits and educational programs that will engage children and their caregivers in the partnership of learning through play. No matter what your child is interested in, this creative, touchable, learn-by-doing atmosphere will have them constructing, learning, discovering and more both inside and out!

Hint: The Children's Museum of Fond du Lac is part of the Association of Children's Museums, meaning that if you have a membership to your local museum (that is also a part of the Association), you will receive half off admission!

Children's Museum of Fond du Lac

Mercury Marine Museum

Located inside of the Children's Museum of Fond du Lac, the Mercury Marine Museum brings Mercury's rich history to life in exhibits and interactive displays. A haven for any boat-lovers or historians, this museum traces Mercury's heritage decade by decade from the birth of the company through World War II and into the present.

Mercury Marine museum

Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts

A premiere venue for arts and entertainment in downtown Fond du Lac, the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts itself is a sight to see with its majestic pillars, grand staircase and the perfect blend of the historic and the modern. Whether you are there to visit the exhibits in their two-level art gallery, watch a film or listen to a concert in their beautiful Great Hall or want to rent this amazing space for your next corporate or social gathering, THELMA is home to it all.



Thinking that there is a lot more to Fond du Lac, WI than you had originally thought? This is only the half of it! I've still got plenty more to tell about the farms, the shopping and more, so head over to Part 2 to see the rest and visit the Fond du Lac Convention and Visitors Bureau so that you can start planning your own trip to the area!

A special thank you to the Fond du Lac Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for putting together a wonderful Midwest Bloggers Meetup. Although I received free items/admissions throughout this trip, all opinions shared are completely honest and my own.

Making Snacktime Easier and More Delicious with Jif To Go Dippers {Review}

Jif logo
I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Jif To Go Dippers. I received a sample to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.

It seems like no matter what I do and how carefully my plans are laid out, the majority of the time that I spend going anywhere with my kids is done in a hurry. How is it possible that we're always in a rush?

Therefore, when it comes to managing our busy schedule, I'll take just about any hints, tips or tricks that make it possible to save time — every minute counts! Keep an extra hairbrush in the car so that the girls can get rid of tangles while we drive? Check. Use apps to keep me updated on traffic delays so that I know to take a different route? Done. Spend less time selecting, packing and wrapping snacks to take with us? Not a problem thanks to new Jif To Go Dippers!

jif-to-go-dippers

The first portable, all-in-one snack made with Jif peanut butter and pretzels, Jif To Go Dippers are the perfect grab-and-go option for just about any lessons, activities, events, lunches and more for busy families everywhere.

These convenient snacks are pre-portioned with one Jif To Go cup (1.13 oz) that is packaged with one pretzel cup (.56 oz, containing 10-12 round pretzels) and are available in two flavors, Creamy Peanut Butter with Pretzels and Chocolate Silk Peanut Butter Spread with Pretzels. Either one adds up to a simple and delicious solution for every snacking occasion!

Jif to Go pretzels

I don't know how Jif could have made their new Jif To Go Dippers any more convenient or delicious and I love that there are two varieties to suit every taste. As Big Sister E isn't a fan of chocolate (I'm still not quite sure how that's possible), she adores being able to grab one of the Creamy Peanut Butter with Pretzels to munch while on the way to soccer practice or after school before her art class.

As for Little Sister B, she takes after me in our adoration of chocolate and therefore has been extremely pleased with the Chocolate Silk Peanut Butter Spread with Pretzels option. Whether grabbing a quick bite before Girl Scouts or while in the car running errands, the Jif To Go Dippers haven't failed to bring a smile to her face even once!

Jif To Go Dippers review

When it comes to convenient snacks for life on the go, Jif has made taking their delicious peanut butter with you a breeze. From sports practice to summer travels, Jif To Go Dippers can keep the whole family fulfilled and ready to go.

Jif To Go Dippers

Keep an eye out for Jif To Go Dippers in Creamy Peanut Butter with Pretzels and Chocolate Silk Peanut Butter Spread with Pretzels at grocery stores nationwide where their suggested retail price is $1.39 for an individual and $3.79 for a 3-pack.

Find out more about these all-in-one portable snacks as well as the entire line of delicious Jif products by visiting Jif.com. You'll also want to connect with Jif on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information, tips and great recipes.