Spinach Lasagna Recipe – Low Carb, Big Taste from @eMeals

Spinach Lasagna Recipe – Low Carb, Big Taste from @eMeals

I used to think low-carb diets were silly. That was until I realized how many extra carbs most of us eat on a daily basis. The problem for me is that I don’t really have a lot of ideas for cooking low carb. That’s where eMeals has once again been a HUGE help for me in the kitchen. I’m a part of the eMeals blogger network and they do provide one subscription for me, though I like to experiment with a couple of others. =) I have had A LOT of success with their “Low-Carb Meal Plan” and wanted to share this AMAZING Spinach Lasagna recipe with you.

 Spinach Lasagna Recipe (6 servings at 15 net carbs each)

You will need:

-          2 lbs lean ground beef

-          1 green bell pepper, chopped

-          1 onion, chopped

-          2 (8 oz) tomato sauce

-          6 oz tomato paste

-          3 tablespoons Italian seasoning

-          8 oz large curd cottage cheese*

-          1 egg

-          10 oz bag fresh spinach, divided

-          1¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

* I used part skim ricotta cheese instead. I also think it would be pretty tasty to use Italian sausage in place of the ground beef… maybe next time. (Because I will definitely be making this again.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown beef, green pepper, and onion in a large skillet over medium high heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, 6 oz water, Italian seasoning; simmer for 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese) and egg together in a bowl. Line bottom of 9×13-inch baking dish with ½ bag spinach, then ½ cottage cheese. Sprinkle with ½ mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers once. Bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at @Momicles2010.

The Shark Pro Steam and Spray Mop – Safe Sanitizing for Your Home

The Shark Pro Steam and Spray Mop – Safe Sanitizing for Your Home

By: Ashley

clip_image002I am a lover of all things Shark. When I found out I was getting to review their Steam and Spray Mop I was super excited! (Yes, I am an admitted cleaning tool dork.) Shark provided the product, but all of the opinions are my own.

Ever since my oldest son was born, I have wanted to have clean floors. Once he started rolling and crawling I ran into a problem though. I wanted clean floors, floors that I wouldn’t mind him rubbing his mouth all over (because let’s be honest, it happens), but floors that wouldn’t be covered in some yucky chemical residue. Most of the time I ended up using vinegar (and every now and then I still do). Now I have another little boy rolling around and soon to be crawling… and now I can put away the vinegar and use steam to sanitize my hard floors. Check out my video review for more details and to see the Shark Steam and Spray Mop in action.

 

I love the versatility of the Shark Steam and Spray. It has 3 cleaning options:

1. Spray Only – For quick cordless cleaning.

2. Steam Only – For sanitizing without any cleaners.

3. Steam and Spray – For tough messes.

I also love that the cleanser made by Shark is non toxic, biodegradable, and safe for use around children and pets. The downfall is that you can’t refill the bottle on your own (at least that I’m aware of) so you do need to replace it with their product. Since you have the steam option though, you don’t have to use the cleanser all of the time anyway.

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I have to honestly admit that I still have my refill-able vinegar spray floor cleaner that I use for quick spot cleaning. It worked great before my baby was rolling around everywhere. Now my standards have changed. When I actually want to have floors that are cleaned the right way and sanitized with steam, I use my Shark Pro Steam and Spray Mop. (See how clean and shiny it left my floors?) It’s definitely an EXCELLENT tool to have in your floor cleaning arsenal.

Here are the details from Shark:

Steam Energized Cleanser
The steam energizes the cleanser for a super reaction that excites the dirt molecules, releasing their bonds so they break up easily and quickly. 
Sanitize with Steam
Sanitize while steam blasts up the dirt and the chemical cleaning residue so it’s easily lifted away by the ultra- absorbent microfiber Shark pad leaving your floors spot free and streak free! 
Intelligent Steam Control
Select the perfect amount of steam for every floor type and every cleaning task 
Steam Only Mode
Sanitizing with no residue 
Spray Only Mode
Quick cordless cleaning 
Steam and Spray Mode
For tough messes 
What You Get:

  • WASHABLE MICROFIBER PAD (1x)
  • SHARK SANIFIBER DISPOSABLE PADS (2x)
  • 20 OUNCE MULTI-FLOOR STEAM ENERGIZED CLEANSER (1x)
  • FILLING FLASK
  • BATTERIES (4-AA)
  • REMOVABLE 25 FOOT CORD

Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at @Momicles2010.

Ola Granola Coupon Code: A Healthy Treat and Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones Recipe

Ola Granola – A Healthy Treat and Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones Recipe – Coupon Code Included!

By: Ashley

I honestly can say that I love granola. I love granola plain, as cereal, in yogurt, and just recently I learned how to cook some new recipes using granola! I know that it’s possible to make your own granola at home, and someday I might try it. Until then, I like to look for the lower sugar, super natural ingredient, store bought granola. Good news for me is that there is some AWESOME granola out there like Ola 100% Natural Granola. When I got an email with the chance to try some samples of granola, I was actually pretty excited!

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I absolutely love 3 things about Ola Granola. They started out as just a mom making granola blends as gifts to share with friends. Soon, she realized she had something great on her hands and started making Ola! a reality. I also love that their ingredients are completely natural. With so many products with so many ingredients out there, it’s nice to have a brand stick to things I can pronounce! Last but certainly not least, I absolutely LOVE that you can order Ola! Granola online. I used their store search tool on their website and unfortunately, no one near me carries it. That doesn’t mean I won’t be able to get it though! With online ordering available, anybody can have some Ola! Granola. They’ve even sent us a coupon code to share with you for free shipping! Just add the coupon code MSS2013 and your delicious order will come without shipping charges.

So what can you do with granola? There are some GREAT ideas on the Ola! website. I found a recipe for scones that I REALLY want to try. I wanted to make sure I shared it with you! You’ll also have to check out my recipe for Cinnamon Breakfast Cookies that I made with Ola! Granola. They were VERY tasty.

Cranberry Orange Pecan Scones Recipe from Ola!

You will need:
- 2 3/4 cups all- purpose flour
- 1/2 cup corn meal (white)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar + some for topping
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 to 2 sticks + sweet butter depends if you want really, really flaky scones use all 2 sticks of butter
- 2-2 1/2 cups Ola! Cranberry Orange Pecan Granola (one 9 ounce bag)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream + extra for topping
- pinch of cinnamon

Combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder & salt then cut in cold butter. This mixture will be course now add the Ola! Cranberry Orange Pecan Granola & heavy cream. Mix till all is combined. Next, shape the dough into three equal disks about one inch in height on parchment paper. Brush the top with heavy cream & melted butter then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Then, cut each disk into four or eight triangles, separate the triangles on the parchment paper so they cook evenly. You can use a cookie cutter that is round if you want a uniform shape – but why bother

Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake 15- 18 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet. Serve warm or cool with jam, more butter or enjoy them alone with a cup of tea.

Disclosure – I received samples to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own. Recipe provided by Ola!

Simply Meatloaf Recipe by eMeals

Simply Meatloaf Recipe by eMeals

By: Ashley

I love meatloaf. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it is one of my favorite meals. When I saw this recipe for meatloaf from eMeals, and then saw that it was meatloaf with potatoes, I knew it was going to be yummy. If you haven’t heard about eMeals, you should really check out this great meal planning service. They’re even offering a great discount on their breakfast plan right now. In the meantime though, try out this great recipe. It was pretty tasty.

I do have to admit one thing though. My meatloaf wasn’t very “loafy.” I’m not sure if I needed more breadcrumbs, or just an extra egg since I omitted the egg substitute. The taste was still WONDERFUL though and I’ll definitely be trying this one again.

clip_image002[4]Simply Meatloaf Recipe by eMeals

You will need:

- 10 oz shredded hash brown potatoes

- 1½ lbs lean ground beef

- ¾ cup diced onions

- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

- 2 eggs

- 1 teaspoon salt

- ½ teaspoon pepper

- ½ cup egg substitute

- ¾ cup ketchup, divided

Combine all ingredients except ¼ cup ketchup, and place in a sprayed loaf pan. Spread remaining ¼ cup ketchup on top of meatloaf. Bake 60 minute at 375 or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

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Visit eMeals and try out their amazing breakfast plan for 30% off using the code BREAKFAST30. Curious about what their breakfast plan can look like? Remember my California Toast Recipe? It was AWESOME!

 

 

 

About Ashley – Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010.

I am a member of the eMeals Blogger Network and affiliate program. All opinions are my own.

Behind the Movie The Croods: Creating The Storyboards

Creating The Croods – The Storyboards Behind the Scenes

By: Ashley

The Croods will be crashing into theatres in just a few weeks, which makes this the perfect time to share some behind the scenes animation info with you. When I visited DreamWorks, I was actually able to meet some of the character teams that worked on creating the Croods family. Hearing how committed, dedicated and loyal the developers are to the story and the characters definitely explains why the animation is so real and lifelike!

Meet Steve MacLeod. Steve was a guest story artist on The Croods for the past 5 years! He actually started as a trainee with the DreamWorks education system, and now , his name is in the credits. A great tribute to DreamWorks, and also a glimpse into how long it actually takes to make an animated feature film. Writer/Director Chris Sanders added, “That’s the shocking truth of how long it takes to make these. If you have a child at the beginning, they will be going to the premier.”

(Check out Steve and some of his storyboarding.)

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So where did the ideas for the actual Croods family come from? The designers on the film, looked back at cave paintings for inspiration on character creation. When they noticed that all of the primitive people seemed to have a certain shape, it was determined that the Croods would be a big, athletic bunch. “…we always were looking at beach volleyball players and downhill skiers and ust people that were athletic and for the whole family because we wanted it to feel real…that they could actually do what we were making them do, “ Kirk DeMicco (Director of TheCroods) added.

Chris Sanders sharing some of the early stages from The Croods storyboards with eager bloggers.

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A rough world is definitely one way to describe the intense conditions that the DreamWorks crew created for The Croods. The opening scenes of the movie immediately set the tone of a rugged, tough, primitive world that The Croods call home. In a hunt for breakfast, you see how primitive the terrain and the family really is. Sanders added, “One of the reasons we wanted that in the film from the very beginning was we wanted to really set the dials as far as how tough are these people, how fast are they.” Knowing that the storyboards for this scene were shorthand labeled “Breakfast is a full contact sport” lets you know exactly how tough everyone and everything in these opening scenes really are! Add to that an amazing score including the USC Marching Band, and you’ve basically got a close up view of caveman family football for food!

The Croods having a little down time… obviously NOT during their full contact breakfast.

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So what is the storyboarding process like? For The Croods, it started with Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco writing the script. From there, it weren’t on to stroyboards. He artists really adjust the story as they go to really begin bringing things to life. After reading the script, and meeting with the directors to get special notes on a particular scene, the artists get to work. Using EXTREMELY rough drawings, they will then pitch a set of storyboards, get more notes, and go back to the drawing board – literally. After a vicious cycle of revising, editing, re-working, and pitching again, and again, they’ll send it off to editorial to start adding the rough sound. SO COOL!

Some shots of storyboards from The Croods.

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Like I said before, knowing how closely the animators, artists, and really the entire DreamWorks team work with a film before it’s released… it comes as no surprise that The Croods made me laugh, cry, and hold my breath more than a couple of times! I can’t wait to see it hit theaters March 22!

 

The Croods smashes into theaters March 22.

Link Up!

Visit the official website

Like The Croods on Facebook

Follow @DWAnimation on Twitter #TheCroods

Re-pin great DIY tutorials, printables & more from The Croods on Pinterest!

A big thank you to 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation for inviting us to The Croods Parent Blogger Summit.

About Ashley – Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her@Momicles2010.

Why You Should Get a Windows 8 Surface RT

The Microsoft Surface RT – What do I REALLY think?

By: Ashley

clip_image002Let me start off by reminding you, like I do with every tech post I do, that I am not a techy person. I don’t know about RAM or video cards, and I’m usually pretty laid back with what I expect my technology to be able to do. I’m first and foremost a mom, followed by a wife, woman, and then blogger. So from my point of view, what is the Surface RT all about? I’ve got a couple of things I wish I could change about the Surface, and a few things a really love. Let’s check it out!

The Surface RT is small, and light (10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37in 1.5lbs ). As far as weight goes, I really can’t tell much difference at all between it and my iPad. In regards to size, the Surface is a little more rectangular than the iPad. The display is really nice though at 10.6” (ClearType HD Display, 1366X768 pixels). When you’re looking at the screen of the Surface RT, it doesn’t feel like the screen of a tablet. You really get the clear crisp look of an actual PC. Add the kick stand which allows you to open it like a small laptop (think ultra-thin and light netbook) and it’s a pretty cool set up.

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Another plus to the Surface RT that I think makes it better than the iPad, is the availability of outlets built into the tablet. There is a separate outlet for power, a full size USB port, a mini USB port, and an audio outlet and an SD slot. While the Surface makes it easy to save (and share) documents using SkyDrive, you can still plug your flash drive in or increase your memory with SD.

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The Microsoft Surface RT comes with Student Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview. As someone who does a lot of work in Word and Excel, this works out great for me. These touch-enhanced versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote are easy to use and so far have worked for me pretty glitch free, though they do run a little slower than I’m used to on my regular PC. Having the option to use actual Microsoft Office programs on a tablet though is something I REALLY like.

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Speaking of work and functionality, you can have 2 things running at the same time on your screen using the snap feature. For example, I can pull up the episode of GLEE I missed on TV and have it running on one side of the screen while I check Facebook on the other.

The biggest challenge facing the Windows Surface RT is the lack of apps. I really expected there to be certain applications available for the Surface RT and they’re simply not there. This is a problem that typically faces Microsoft fans, but I was surprised to see that I can’t even get the same selection of apps for the Surface RT as I can on my Windows 7 phone. I’m really hoping this changes in the future. I typically love Microsoft, but the lack of apps really is a downfall.

Using the Microsoft Surface RT really hasn’t been that hard of a transition. Windows 8 (even this RT version) is very touch friendly. In fact, I much prefer Windows 8 on something with a touch screen than your normal PC. The Surface RT still seems to have a few hang ups here and there (taking a little while for an app to load or for IE to find your webpage), but overall the Surface is something I could really use. I’m pretty interested and excited to see how the Windows 8 Pro Surface compares to the Surface RT. Can the Surface RT replace your home or office PC? Probably not… but then that’s not what it’s meant to do. Can it be a backup for you when you travel, are on the go, or sitting on the couch? That’s what this Surface RT is doing for me!

To Summarize:

Windows lets you personalize your content. The lock screen acts as your entry into the OS. 
Picture password allows you to personalize your story and you can touch on various areas of the photo to unlock your screen.
The Start screen allows you to organize apps and content by category. You can create your own unique personalized experience through the lock screen, picture password and the start screen.
Search: You can easily search Windows via the Search charm, Search the apps in the app store and Search for programs you are used to using with Windows 7. 
Apps/Windows Store: Pepperplate app is a really easy way to stay organized in the kitchen and create your own cookbook. When you purchase an app, you can use that app on up to 5 devices. The AllRecipes app is also a great cooking app.
Snap: Snap lets you multitask on your Windows 8 device. You can get more done when you snap a second app to the left or right side of your screen.
SkyDrive: You can store your music, photos, video etc. Has great integration with OneNote

 

 

MomStart is a Windows Champion, we receive perks from time to time for sharing information with you. We did not receive a Surface through this program, but have had the chance to use one extensively.

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010

The Dinosaur Train Christmas Collection Pajamas, Books, A Holiday With Buddy

The Dinosaur Train Gets Ready for Christmas: A Holiday With Buddy

Review By: Ashley

clip_image002In our house, we can all sing along to the Dinosaur Train theme song, know the neighbors at Pteranodon Terrace, and can name LOTS of dinosaurs. That’s why, when I found out about the Dinosaur Train holiday book and PJs, I was probably just as excited as my 2 year old son! It’s hard not to get attached to these lovable little dinosaurs on PBS Kids. It’s a show that I don’t have to worry about Atticus watching. The messages are good and the stories are appropriate for even young children.

Just in time for the holidays, there is a great selection of Dinosaur Train PJs ready for the stomping feet in your home. I received a three piece set of Dinosaur Train Buddy & Pteranodon Friends Pajamas from American Marketing Enterprises (AME). They are so incredibly soft! These are available at webundies.com, with alternative styles, including the Dinosaur Train Infant & Toddler Boy’s Footed Pajamas at Kmart and Kmart.com.

We also received a pair of slippers featuring Buddy the T-Rex. I love that they have small non skid dots on the soles. Since my little dinosaur is always on the run, this is a pretty important feature for us.

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Especially being a former teacher, books that go along with special occasions and holidays are some of my favorite things. A Holiday With Buddy is a great addition to anyone’s Christmas book collection. This colorful 32-page paperback book is great for read-aloud holiday fun as it follows Buddy and his family on their search for the biggest Cretaceous conifers, better known to us as Christmas trees, they can find to decorate for the holiday. The story is guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday spirit (and makes a wonderful holiday gift, too) and can be used to discuss when your family will decorate your home for the holidays and the significance of those decorations. (Recommended for ages 3 and up. MSRP: $3.99. Available wherever books are sold.)

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About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010

Disclosure – A product was provided to facilitate this review.

Beat Germ Monsters with Seventh Generation Free and Clear Multipurpose Cleaner Kit – #Giveaway

By: Ashley

We are at the beginning of two big seasons: the holiday season, and the cold and flu season. With both seasons barreling at us at full speed, it’s incredibly important to what you can to keep you and your family safe from germ monsters! Seventh Generation, the leading brand in green cleaning products, can help you stay healthy, get clean, and battle those germ monsters I mentioned. You can even create some of your own germ monsters with your Seventh Generation tissue boxes! I love this idea and will definitely be trying it out with Atticus.

 

Killing germs is one thing, but I’ve always wondered how well Seventh Generation products actually cleaned. Here is a before and after picture of my kitchen table. I cleaned it after dinner one night using the Seventh Generation Free and Clear Multipurpose Cleaner. It did just as well as any other cleaner I have ever used. It cut through grease and sauce left on the table and left the wood looking great.

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If you are looking for some new products to clean up your home and battle germs with, Seventh Generation has a great line. They have hand washes that are 97% plant-based which clean your hands and leave mine feeling soft, 100% recycled material tissues, and disinfecting wipes that kill 99.99% of household germs. That is a complete line of germ fighting supplies that are eco-friendly. Sounds good to me!

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How would you like to try some Seventh Generation cold and flu season supplies? If you follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below, you’ll be entered to win a Seventh Generation kit just like I had. Then you can make your own tissue box germ monster too!

Enter to Win:

Seventh Generation Kit

To Enter:

Answer the question: What are ways you clean and fight germs

Extra Entries:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway ends November 26th. Please see the giveaway rules. We received a sample.

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and

former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010

Disclosure – A product was provided for review.

Know Where Things Are, and Keep Your Car Clean One Step Ahead Family Car Organizer

One Step Ahead Family Car Organizer – Know Where Things Are, and Keep Your Car Clean!

clip_image002By: Ashley

I know that the summer travel season has passed us by, but just because you’re not loading up the family car for a long road trip does NOT mean that you’re not spending time in your car. Now that school has started, so have carpools, rides to extracurricular activities, shuttling kids to school, and weekend sleepovers. Or, if you’re like me, you don’t have school age kids yet, but every time you go anywhere, the backseat ends up looking like a toy box exploded (along with some snacks and drinks…). I feel like anytime is the right time to get more organized and the One Step Ahead Car Organizer helped my backseat go from toy/juice explosion, to neat contained chaos in no time.

clip_image004One Step Ahead is an awesome company that brings solutions to those every day challenges we face with kids. We actually purchased an awesome inflatable bathtub from them when Atticus was younger. They have great high quality products.

Okay, back to the car organizer. I’ve always kept a stockpile of toys in the car. I also keep spare diapers, a couple of snacks, and a change of clothes for those moments that inevitably happen when you’re out and about. I’ve tried a ton of different ways to keep it all organized – bags, plastic tubs, trunk organizers… but none of it worked. When I got the One Step Ahead Family Travel Organizer, I wasn’t sure it would do the job. Boy was I wrong! Everything from the boxes on the floor and the stuff all over the seat was easily organized in seconds.

 

The Family Travel Organizer has a ton of features that I LOVE!

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- Mesh cupholders that are easily accessible and hold a variety of sizes.

- A sturdy snap-on lid that can serve as a snack table or play table.

- A carry strap that allows the organizer to work as a bag.

- 8 outside pockets for storing and organizing all of the extra stuff.

- Repositionable dividers to create the space you need – like splitting it in half for 2 kids.

You can see from the before and after pictures that this organizer really cleans up the space in your car. We’ve been using it for 3 weeks now, and it STILL keeps things within arms reach and nice and tidy. The best part is, Atticus understands what the organizer is for, and where things go in it. AWESOME!

This Family Travel Organizer is now on my recommendation list for anyone who drives around with a little one in your car! It will help you keep your car clean… and your car time a little less stressful.

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010 .

Disclosure – I received a product to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Traveling With Kids: Tips from One Step Ahead

Summer travel has winded down, but families are already planning ahead for holiday travel. It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to start thinking about the holidays, but especially when it comes to travel, planning ahead is a good thing.

clip_image002One Step Ahead has a ton of family travel supplies and gear that can make the whole thing a little less stressful. You should definitely check them out before your next trip.

In addition to all of the cool supplies One Step Ahead has to make travel a little easier, they went to their Facebook fans to collect a list of tips. I’ve seen a lot of these lists floating around, but this list of “real life” parent tips for traveling with kids is great!

· Travel fairy.  Purchase small, inexpensive toys to use as rewards during the trip.  For each hour of good behavior while on the trip, hand out a wrapped reward to each child.  They will be motivated to behave and will enjoy a new treat to keep them occupied during the next stretch.

· Catch your Zzzz’s.  Time road trips or flights around sleep schedules if possible.  Try to travel when the kids are sleeping to pass a large chunk of time.  If possible, travel overnight.  Try our Deluxe Seat Belt Snoozer Car Pillow.

· Snack attack.  Bring a cooler of snacks for kids (and parents!).  This will help keep kids hunger-free for longer periods of time and will prevent frequent food stops.  This will also cut down on airplane snack costs while in-flight. Try our My First Insulated Lunchbags and Snack Happened Reusable Snack Bags.

· Family time.  While road-tripping, play family travel games such as License Plate Bingo, I Spy, Landmark Scavenger Hunt & throw in family sing-along time to boot!  Try our Flip to Win Travel Hangman.

· Bookworms.  In addition to favorite story books, bring along brochures of your destination for kids browse and pick out things they want to do when they arrive and/or catalogs for kids to circle picks for birthday/holiday lists.  Even load up the iPod with audiobooks for whole family entertainment.   Try our Kids Activity Books or My Quiet Activity Book.

· Activity binders!  Print free online coloring pages of kids’ favorite characters, dot-to-dots, mazes (even some fun school skill worksheets!) & assemble in a special binder for each child.  Give to each child at the start of the trip for hours of entertainment!  Bring along our Deluxe Snack & Play Kids Travel Tray or Family Travel Car Organizers!

· Everyone needs a break.  When traveling by car, try and pre-plan meal stops around rest-stop/park locations.  Either bring or buy meals there & let the kids stretch their legs and burn off some energy running around before hitting the road again!  Take along our Waterproof Outdoor Blanket for perfect rest stop picnics!

· Engage children.  Have children help with the packing!  Give them each parent-approved bags to fill with special toys and activities that they want to play with en route and while at your destination! Try our My First Backpacks or Sun Smarties Swim Bags.

· Mail the luggage.  When flying, cut down on airport baggage by mailing some items to your destination ahead of time.  It’s easier to maneuver with kids through the airport when you’re not carrying so many bags.  Try our Go Go Kidz Travelmate for whizzing through the airport.

clip_image004· When flying, bring at least one small, carry-on bag with your family’s “essentials” (think change of clothes, diapers, toothbrush, favorite stuffed animal etc).  You never know when your flight could be delayed or your baggage could get lost for a night or two!

· Whether you’re road-tripping to Grandma’s house or flying to a destination vacation, bring along some items to help children easily transition to their temporary home-away-from home.  Try our Go-Pod Portable Activity Center, Stay-Put Inflatable Bed Rail Set or Tuck Me In Travel Bed.

· Stay safe.  No matter where your destination, be prepared & address appropriate safety behaviors with the family in advance of the trip.  Explain what to expect at the airport, theme park, hotel or visiting house & agree on best safety practices.  For theme park visits, try our Clip-On Child Locator and/or Temporary Tattoos so you can write your cell phone number on your child’s arm.

Traveling with kids seems like a scary thing, but once you just go ahead and do it, you see it’s not as bad as you think. With tips like these and more great resources at One Step Ahead, you can make all of your family’s travel smooth sailing.

About Ashley (Managing Editor at MomStart): Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her @Momicles2010 .