Friday, August 31, 2018

Don't Be Rash: Get Skin Relief

Eczema, sun sensitivity and unexplained rashes plague everyone in my family. My husband and 3 daughters and I all have super sensitive skin. So I jumped at the chance to sample some Era Organics products. [Note: I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive samples].

Beach rash
The entire line is vegan, not tested on animals, and organic. It has no chemicals or parabens. And it even has a money back guarantee.

We got the anti it rash cream 'elixir', natural face moisturizer 'soothe' and and face and body cleanser.

After 2 days of elixir 
The elixir quickly became a favorite product. It can be your daily moisturizer or just trotted out for the occasional skin trauma. My youngest daughter got a rash at the beach, and the anti inflammatory ingredients soothed her skin immediately. Colloidal oatmeal, calendula, chamomile and shea butter made her rash dissipate.

While her skin was inflamed, she used the cleanse + restore wash.  this sulfate free cleanser is gentle enough for the face. It has soothing aloe vera and Manuka honey. I found it worked well for my, ahem, mature skin.
Thick creme, but don't test TSA

Redness can also be combatted with soothe, a moisturizer. It has milk thistle and chamomile. The MSM, a mineral, boosts collagen growth.

The moisturizers are so thick, they shouldn't be considered liquids under the TSA rules. But don't chance it.

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.