Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Printing - Yes, Printing, Your Photos

From recent trip to Argentina - print worthy?

Quick, how many pictures do you have on your phone? And how many have you printed out?

An estimate: I have 4,000. I have printed: zero.

TravelingMom - and TravelingDad team at the retreat, holding printed photos
On the recent TravelingMom retreat, one of the sponsors was The Imaging Alliance. It seeks to change that number.

As it happens, I just went to an event for Epson which got me itching to print photos. Epson makes cartridge free EcoTank printers. The  printers let you print vibrant colored photos. The printers cost a bit more, but the savings on the ink tanks are significant.

Pay more upfront, but long term savings

The eco stands for both economic and ecological. You save money and make a solid environmental choice.
WorkForce® ET-4750 EcoTank® All-in-One Supertank. Photo credit: Merritt Woodward

You can print on regular or photo paper and use just this one printer for a small business and any project needs your kids have. The photo samples I saw were saturated with color.

The ink tanks EcoTank Expression printers come with can last two years, so you aren't constantly buying expensive cartridges. And filling the tank is easy.

All the Expression printers can also scan and copy. They range in price from $279 - $699, depending on speed and how many pages the tank can print.

Printing - a new hobby?

During and after a trip, many of us upload photos to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Then the photos die a slow death on our phones.

But The Imaging Alliance presentation really got me thinking about crating photo books and other tangible souvenirs of a vacation. The website has free resources to help organize photos.

And once you print some photos - and delete them from your phone - you can free up space on your phone.

For more photos.

Note: I was not compensated for this post. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Romantic Getaway: Southampton in a Mustang Convertible

In front of the entrance to Claude's at the Southampton Inn, in the Ford Mustang

Driving to Southampton can be a soul-crushing experience. No matter what time you leave, you can hit bumper to bumper traffic, sudden downpours, speed traps, or inexplicable delays.

But driving to Southampton in a Mustang convertible? You kind of don't even notice the extra car time.

Cold corn soup, with plenty of fresh crab
In fact, driving more slowly means the guy next to gives you the thumbs up, and your hair recovers more quickly from the wind-whipping experience.

Wedding anniversary: topless in Southampton

The beach is always a aromatic setting. When you add time in a topless car? Well, that just amps up the romance.

I let my husband sit in the driver's seat and pretend
I recently spent a long weekend in Southampton, with the requisite long, long drive, but the metallic blue Ford Mustang convertible made the time pass quickly.

The car was an automatic ecoboost, with plenty of pep despite having just 4 turbocharged cylinders. It had 10 speeds, and a sport mode. This is not the car for helping your kids move into a new apartment, but it is just about ideal for a getaway for 2. It was our wedding anniversary, and the Mustang let us feel younger. Without the onus of shirting gears manually in that stop and go traffic. [While we were dating, my husband taught me how to drive a manual car on his own sports car]

Just in case you forget what kind of car you have: yes, a Ford Mustang

Luxury car, luxury dining

While we spent most the weekend with my siblings and their partners, we also enjoyed a romantic dinner for 2 at Claude's. The restaurant, at the Southampton Inn, has a formal dining room with crisp white linens. But you can also eat at the delightful patio, with the same excellent food but a more casual experience.

We indulged in a special cold corn soup, with lump crab meat. Claude's wasn't stingy about the crab. There was plenty of fresh, luscious crab meat to share.

The heirloom tomatoes with burrata and 'living greens' seemed required eating. I had tomatoes at every meal in the Hamptons. I mean, August.

Day boat halibut, loaded with wild mushrooms
We wanted to continue  with cold food, so we shared two appetizers for a main course; lobster mango salad and (warm) crab cakes. The salad had a yummy avocado mousse and lightly pickled cucumbers. The crab cakes had a local sweet corn salad.

The local day boat halibut was roasted and served with truffle mashed potatoes and wild mushroom ragu. Again, the chef was quite genres with the luxurious wild mushrooms. This dish would be great in front of fire in winter, but it was quite delicious when I was wearing white summer pants and a sleeveless top.

Since I was driving, I couldn't get a drink, but my husband had the Wolffer rose.  The vineyard is just a few miles away, in Sagaponack.#carporn #fordmustang #mustangconvertible #luxurytravel

The sports car for the, ahem, mature driver

My older brother bought the same performance car my younger brother has, but hated the way his bones rattled when he drove the car. He decided he was told old for the car. (At the time, he was 50).

The Ford Mustang is cool enough that your kids will want to drive it. But you will be comfortable in it. And no, they cannot.

The body sits low, but not so low that you have to contort your creaky bones to get into the car. The driver's seat has lumbar support and both front seats have cooled and heated vents.

The Mustang logo greeting at night projected onto the street

Totally wow factors

The Mustang has the Ford "intelligent key." You can stride up to your locked car, with that key fob in your pocket or pocketbook, and the car automatically opens.

Even cooler is the projection of the Mustang logo when you enter the car at night. Sort of like the Bat signal. My brother in law immediately went looking for the sensor that projected the logo. Even though he knew I was just driving the car for a week, he instantly elevated my cool status.

The Mustang logo on the infotainment screen.

My daughter and her friend were equally impressed. But then, they also were dumbfounded when we were driving in a sudden storm. It took just seconds to put the top up. And the rain sensing windshield wipers, which they'd never seen, magically started up. The wipers even increased speed when the rain got harder.

Note: Ford loaned me the Mustang and Claude's provided a complimentary meals. Opinions and sense of refinement are all my own.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Feeling Virtuous: Lovely Dog Friendly Cafe in Alexandria

Vegetarian sweet potato tacos

Many restaurants claim to be dog friendly. But Virtue Feed & Grain goes a step further. The Alexandria, VA restaurant has a menu just for dogs.

dog friendly restaurant
Rules for dog friendly dining

Only the patio is open to dogs, and there are some rules. Though washing your hands before eating seems like a good life plan, not just for those bringing their pups.

Spicy fish tacos
The restaurant also has a kid's menu and has plenty of vegetarian options. I had sweet potato tacos, a veggie riff on fish tacos. Pickled jalapeƱos, pickled red onions and goat cheese gave it plenty of flavor.

Quinoa salad
The fish tacos had guacamole and a spicy green salsa.

We also had a veggie packed quinoa salad with beets, radishes, tomatoes and peas.

Dogs could get beef and rice or steak. There was even a vegetarian option; frozen yogurt 'bones' with apples. Too cute.

Staying cool in the Mazda3

Too hot to open the moonroof on the Mazda3
We drove a too cute Mazda3 Grand Touring, which easily fit four adults. Though Mazda doesn't make  hybrid or electric cars, its vehicles get great gas mileage. This fuel efficient car got 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

Great comfort to drive a car that is a top safety pick
The weekend we were in Washington, DC, it was almost 100 degrees, so too hot for biking to Alexandria. We were glad to have the car for the quick trip to Old Town Alexandria.

It was too hot to open the sunroof, but the car cooled off quickly. And since I tend to run cooler than my husband, he appreciated the cooled front seats and the dual climate control.

Mazda packs a lot in

Hatchback with rear wiper in Mazda3
The Mazda3 offers great value, too. The base price is under 25K, and that includes rain sensing windshield wipers, the sunroof, (called a moonroof) blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

The model I drove had a premium package for $1000 that included the nav system, radar cruise control, paddle shifters, lane keep assist, high beam control and heated steering wheel.

Note: Mazda loaned me the Mazda3 for this trip.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Too Hot for the Beach: Hiking Alternative

Fort Tryon Park

NYC is stuck in a heat wave and though we did spend three days at the beach, we avoided the beach on July 4.

Why would we stay away from the beach on the quintessential beach day? For one, NYC. Though the city boasts several white sand beaches, the proximity to the millions living here means every beach is crowded. We were driving a car to the beach, which means the beaches inaccessible to public transportation would be marginally better, but still..scarce sand real estate = no place to relax.

Also, having just spent three days at the beach, we were eager for something a bit more active. So we decided on an urban hike in Fort Tryon Park.
#pacificahybrid #chryslerpacfica #electricvehicles

Into the Woods

This park is home to the Cloisters branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but we were taking the dog. And the museum is so unwelcoming to dogs that when I was using the Cloisters restroom and my friend was standing near the door to the staircase entrance, trying to catch an AC breeze when people entered and exited, a guard came out and told her to move. No second hand AC for canines, or their handlers.

My friend posing with the sculpture
And despite mostly wooded paths, the park was still unreasonably hazy, hot and humid. We mostly admired the Heather Garden from afar, since it was in the sun.

An urban hike
We briefly checked out the outdoor sculptures of armored knights. There are three pairs, each a knight with a nude figure. The nude is androgynous. So is the knight, though when's the last time you saw a female knight? But the Icelandic artist is female, Steinunn Thorarinsdottir.

The Chrysler Pacifica hybrid we drove for the week served us well for both the beach and the day trip with friends. For the beach, we folded the rear seats flat - they sort of disappeared into the underbelly of the minivan. This created a huge space for two bicycles. We still had plenty of room for luggage, and if we'd wanted to bring two more people, we could have easily done so.

Could only see the rhododendrons for a minute
The second row captains chairs gave those passengers a big, comfy chair. But even the third row had plenty of room. One of my tallest friend's, who is 6'4", elected to sit in the third row (we picked him up last). But he was comfortable. And on a triple H day, the air conditioning cooled everyone off.

We didn't tell our friends that only the front seats were ventilated, but the panoramic sunroof, a premium, ensured that no one felt claustrophobic.

Chrysler taking the lead in minivans

With the rear seat folded down, bikes inside the Pacifica
Chrysler produced the first minivan and now it has the first hybrid minivan.

The Pacifica has an electric range of 33 miles. But even just using gas, it gets 32 miles per gallon. For a 7 seater, that's pretty cool.

The minivan was loaded with safety features, like front and rear park assist. The 360 surround view camera helps with parallel parking.

Family friendly of course

Powering up at the beach
The power lift gate was useful for loading our bikes and the power sliding doors would have been great with little kids. A bonus if you are in a tight parking lot; with the sliding doors, you don't have to worry about the rear seat passengers dinging the car next to you.

You can open and close the doors from the key fob, or from the driver's seat on the ceiling. Very family friendly. And the Blu-ray / DVD player - with headphones - and seat back video screens, keep kids entertained. This was part of the extra customer preferred package, which also included more advanced safety technology. Still, the base price was $44,995. With options and destination charge, the van is $48,580.

Note: Chrysler loaned me the Pacifica hybrid minivan. I was not otherwise compensated. Opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Ignoring Most of the Menu: Gems at Quality Italian

Quality Italian's baby kale salad 

When I was invited to lunch at Quality Italian, I was not expecting a great meal. Techlicious held its annual CTATravel Lunch & Learn at this Italian steakhouse and, well, vegetarian.

Shrimp cocktail 
But I was pleasantly surprised. There was plenty for a non-steak eater to savor at this lovely restaurant.

Each table got a huge shrimp cocktail platter. The jumbo shrimp had cocktail sauce, chipotle mayo or lemon and the shrimp were utterly fresh and perfectly cooked.
Corn gnocchi

There was also a lovely baby kale salad, with pickled red onions. The colorful salad was devoured by all the meat eaters and vegetarians at my table.

Brussels Sprouts
We also had warm bread, with fruity olive oil for dipping. The pretty sausage and pepper garlic toast was not for me, but the others enjoyed it.

For my entree, I had corn gnocchi with pistachios. The sweet corn tasted of mid-summer, even though it is still technically late spring.
Steak fries

We had Brussels Sprouts Calabrese, roasted till crispy. And the Tuscan fries were really steak fries, properly salty and crunchy. I'm not a ketchup person, but I appreciated the Sir Kensington ketchup served with the fries.

Chocolate cannoli for dessert
Dessert was a chocolate cannoli with pistachio gelato. Yum!

Note: I was a guest of Techlicious at its #CTATravel Lunch & Learn event. I was not compensated for this post, but I was sated.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Travel Essentials: Headphones & Videos

Sony True Wireless Sports Headphones

Back in the not so distant past, travel entertainment meant an assortment of DVDs, a portable player and clunky headphones. My kids had cute pink DVD players, which then morphed into DVD slots on laptops.
Look at all the content you can access from the Roku streaming stick
Now, my Mac doesn't even have a DVD player and sometimes I want to watch a movie or binge a TV show on a long layover or airport delay.

At the CTA Travel Lunch & Learn Event, hosted by Techlicious, I got a first look at a portable Roku streaming stick. It lets you access content from your Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu account when you travel. You can also use it at home, but this little stick is perfect for travel.

The Ashley Chloe Helix Cuff (and my bracelet)

Fashion AND Function

Ashley Chloe showed off fashionable bracelets with Bluetooth headphones hidden inside. The Helix Cuff is a fashionable way to carry headphones. And the cuff comes in different color combos - black on black, for the inveterate New Yorker.

There is also black with gold, black with silver, white with gold or white with silver (for the Hamptons, of course). The cuffs are about $99.

Fashionable running

I rarely run with headphones because they always pop out. Sony has new wireless earbuds that stay in. And they are sweat resistant. They come in black, white, pink and yellow. The pink coordinates well with  the rose gold of an iPhone.

Best of all, the Sony True Wireless Sports Headphones are noise canceling, with an ambient sound mode. So at the gym, you can eliminate extraneous noise from, say, your husband grunting on the next mat.
Sony noise canceling headphones

But on a long run, you can keep the ambient sound so you hear a car or bike approaching.

The Sony buds retail for $179.99.

Discloser: I received a Roku stick and courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association. I was not compensated for this post.

Friday, June 1, 2018

NY Early Riser Brunch with Kids: Gallow Green

Green street signage for Gallow Green

Sleep No More could be a description of parenting. It also, of course, the name of the immersive theatrical experience at The McKittrick Hotel.

This site specific rendition of Macbeth moves throughout the hotel, much like parents chasing kids at the playground.

But if you are one of those beleaguered, sleep-deprived parents, you can have some fun at Gallow Green, the rooftop garden at The McKittrick

Magical setting

Planting at the kid friendly event
Potions & Planting, held on several Saturdays during the spring and summer, is for families who aspire to hip child friendly experiences.

In addition to the ‘High Tea’ (which is served at 10am) kids learn about both potions and planting. We saw happy children leaving with their plants. Officially, the event ends at 11:30am, but there is some lingering. [Note: grown up brunch starts at noon].

Each kid can bring a doll or teddy bear, which gets its own place setting.

Magical garden setting for brunch
The food includes mini sandwiches: melted cheese, jelly, cucumber and cream cheese for the adventurous.

Have you read The Secret Garden with your kids?
There are plenty of sweets, from chocolate croissants to cupcakes and jam tarts. And pink lemonade to drink.

Potions & Planting is designed for kids ages 5-10, and each adult can bring no more than 3 young guests. So no surreptitiously holding your kid’s birthday party.

Quinoa salad for a healthy brunch

Grown up brunch

Though my kids are too old for Potions & Planting, we did go to the regular Saturday brunch. This vegetarian friendly buffet includes unlimited food and live music.

The buffet includes fresh fruit, Greek yogurt and granola, croissants, cinnamon buns and bread. There was shrimp cocktail, quinoa and kale salad, marinated beets and tomato with teeny mozzarella balls. Plus another tomato salad with pomegranate and a bulgur and greens salad.
The band

Hot foods included meat and baked salmon. Coffee and tea are included; brunch cocktails are extra.

Fresh berries and granola

After the summer

Gallow Green remains open even in rain. There is a canopy, and the sides drop down. The rooftop becomes The Lodge at Gallow Green in colder weather. There are heat lamps and blankets, but dress for the weather.

For both Potions & Planting, you have to buy tickets in advance, and check in before getting on the elevator. There is one flight of stairs up to the roof.

The next Potions & Planting is June 8.

Note: Gallow Green offered me a complimentary brunch. Opinions expressed are my own.