Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Making Changes With Electronic Cigarettes- Our Story!

This month is a really big anniversary for us! It’s been two years since my husband gave up his two pack a day cigarette habit and switched to electronic cigarettes. I am so proud of him! I really can’t say enough good things about electronic cigarettes and how they have changed things for our family. One of my favorite things is that my house no longer stinks like cigarette smoke! Instead, it smells like strawberries, or caramel apples, or other lovely things like that. It’s so nice to walk in the door at the end of a long day and not smell nasty cigarette smoke. I feel like our house is much cleaner, too. There are no ashes or cigarette butts laying around, and I got rid of all of the ashtrays a long time ago. Now, my husband has a little cabinet filled with all of his E cigs and supplies, and they are out of the way and discreet. Much better!

We have saved so much money in the past two years as well! We were even able to take an extra vacation last year, just with the extra money! I really can’t tell you guys how happy I am about the changes that my hubby has made in the past couple of years. Another thing that has been great is the real sense of community that we have found through the e-cigarette community. My husband recently went to Chicago for an electronic cigarette convention/meetup, and there were literally thousands of people there! He also started a Facebook group which has now grown to over 3000 members, and he has made friends from all over the world. There are people on there who use the disposable cartridges, like the ones you will find at places like 21stcenturysmoke.com, all the way up to “professionals” who build their own electronic cigarettes and make their own juice. There really is something for everyone!

All in all, making the switch from traditional cigarettes to electronic cigarettes has been a great one for my family. The changes that it has made in my family are way more than just having no ashes around the house or having our clothes not smell like smoke anymore. I am very proud of my husband for the changes he has made and our family is much happier after we made the switch! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Getting Ready For Summer Fun With The Clymb!

This is a sponsored post, however, all thought and opinions are 100% my own.

It’s hard to believe it, but Bean’s FOURTH birthday is coming up next month! I can’t believe how grown up he is! This year, instead of a big party, he actually asked to go camping! Of course, anything that gets me out of spending $300 to spend the day with 12+ screaming kids is A-Okay in my book, so camping it is! I am so excited about our upcoming camping trip, but there is one little problem.. We have absolutely no camping supplies! Needless to say, I have been scrambling lately to pick up some important stuff for our trip!

I recently found a great website that has awesome outdoor gear and supplies that we need for our camping trip and beyond! It’s called The Clymb, and it has everything our family needs to get us ready for our great adventure! I have been browsing around their website, and I already feel more prepared for our trip! They have some great tents and camping chairs, but that is just the tip of the iceberg! I found some amazing lanterns as well as some really cool sleeping bags. After just a few minutes checking out The Clymb, I was able to fully equip our family for our super fun birthday adventure!

That was good enough for me, but anytime I check out a new website, I have to snoop around a little bit and see if they have anything for me. Moms have to take care of ourselves, ya know? Well, The Clymb did not disappoint! I was especially impressed with their selection of clearance running shoes! I am a sucker for cute shoes, and I am an even bigger sucker for CLEARANCE shoes, so this was right up my alley! They had some great prices on VIVOBAREFOOT and Inov8 running shoes, which are my absolute favorites. You won’t find a more comfortable shoe!

I was also able to find a ton of great fitness products at The Clymb. They have really great prices on yoga mats, too! I am really in need of a new workout wardrobe, and I was able to find absolutely everything I need at The Clymb! I am beginning to feel a bit more prepared for our camping excursion, now that I have a go-to website to buy everything I need! It’s sure to be an exciting trip, so be on the lookout for more updates as we get closer to time. I can’t wait to share our adventure with you guys! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Smoky Mountain Vacations: Where To Stay (The Great Cabin Versus Hotel Debate!)

When you are planning a trip to the Smokies, one of the hardest things to decide is where to stay. If you are unfortunately like me, it is one of the biggest and most important things to plan as well. I have to first figure out the WHEN of a vacation, followed by where we will stay. I don't feel like I can really start planning properly until I have those two things figured out. That means, none of the fun stuff can be done until I figure out the WHEN and WHERE. It can be a little bit overwhelming, especially if you have never been to the area before. Let's talk about what you need to know to help you decide! 

If your family is like ours, it's important to make and stick to a budget before you ever leave for vacation. The good news is that when it comes to the cost, cabins and hotels are pretty comparable. Of course, you will find hotels that run at the very, very low end of the spectrum, and you can find some pretty pricey hotels and cabins as well. It all just depends on what you are looking for. I would say that on average, a cabin will run between $100-150 a night, and a hotel room is pretty close to the same. Of course, you can splurge and spend way more than this, or you can really scrimp and stay somewhere for cheap, but for the most part, the prices are close to the same. 

Where you want to stay is going to be a big part of where you stay. Generally speaking, cabins are located, well, in the mountains. Hotels are located in town, usually on the "strip" or very near it, and within walking distance of attractions, restaurants and shopping. If you stay in a cabin, you are most likely going to have to drive everywhere. (There are exceptions to this rule, as you can find a few cabins that are located near downtown Gatlinburg, within walking distance of the strip). Is it important to you to be near all of the excitement, or are you looking for peace and quiet? This will help you decide which is right for you. I personally hate to drive in a busy place, and I especially hate to drive at night, so for our family, a hotel usually just works better. 

PRIVACY: What kind of vacation are you looking for? Is this a fun family adventure, or a romantic getaway? Is this a relax and recharge kind of thing, or a be in the middle of the action fun fest? Those answers will help you decide where to stay. If you are looking for peace, quiet, relaxation, and privacy, a cabin is definitely the choice for you. You can get a cabin where you are completely secluded, with no one anywhere around. If you choose a hotel, it's likely that you are going to have some "neighbors" through the duration of your stay, and there is no way to tell if they are going to be the quiet type or not. If you don't care about quiet or privacy, a hotel might be more your style. 

This might sound silly, but make sure you consider the weather before you decide where to stay. The snow on the mountains might sound beautiful, but sometimes, mountain roads can become impassable and cabins might not be accessible. Same for after a heavy rain, sometimes cabin roads can become flooded. Usually, your cabin rental company will be able to tell you if there are any issues with the roads to your cabin that you should be aware of. Also, if you are planning to stay in a hotel and use the trolley or plan on walking to your attractions, don't forget to have a back up plan in case of rain. It's no fun standing in the pouring rain waiting 20 minutes on a trolley! (ASK ME HOW I KNOW THIS!!) 

What, if any, amenities are important to you in your accomodations? Did you know that you can rent a cabin with it's own private indoor pool? Seriously! Hot tubs, pool tables, game rooms, exercise equipment, these are all options that you can get in your own private cabin. However, there are also some amazing amenities at the hotels in the Smokies! There are several hotels that offer complete spas, indoor or outdoor water parks, on site restaurants, and more. Decide what amenities you want/need beforehand, and your search will be much easier! 

How many people are tagging along on your vacation? If you have more than will fit in a standard hotel room, your costs can quickly add up if you need to upgrade to a suite or add on additional rooms. The great thing about renting a cabin is that you can find one that sleeps anywhere from 2 people up to 22 people,and everything in between! If you are having a big group event like a family reunion or wedding, it might be more sensible for you to go with a cabin. You can also cook all of your meals at a cabin, since you will have access to a full kitchen, and that can save some serious cash! 

For me, one of my favorite things about vacation is the "ease" of everything. I like to leave our hotel room, and walk straight to the restaurant or show that I want to attend. I like to hop right on a trolley from my hotel parking lot. I don't want to drive, I don't want to navigate, I don't want to cook. In other words, when I am on vacation, I want to do as LITTLE "Thinking" as possible. For me, a hotel is best for this, since I am in a central location that is convenient to everything. Ideally, I don't get back in my car until it's time to drive home! If driving doesn't bother you,however, a cabin might be the best choice. Keep in mind that unless you get a cabin close to downtown, you will have to drive to the grocery store, shopping, shows, restaurants and anything else that you want to do. 

Hopefully, this post will help you to decide whether a cabin or a hotel is right for you. We like to switch it up and stay at different places when we visit, so we always get a different experience! We wholeheartedly recommend the Econo Lodge Riverside in Pigeon Forge -we had a great experience there when we stayed for a week last Fall, it felt like home! The Music Road Inn has also been a favorite of ours in the past, they have a great atmosphere and a very family friendly atmosphere. If you are in the mood for some REAL family adventure, you can't beat Wilderness At The Smokies. Their THREE water parks and family adventure center will keep you busy and make sure that you sleep good at night! As for cabins, I would recommend Arrowhead Cabin Rentals! Do you have any favorite hotels or Smoky Mountain Cabins? Let us know in the comments below!! 

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