Disclosure: Some posts on this blog are sponsored, meaning that I received goods, services, or monetary payment for my writing. My opinions however, are not 'purchased' and are always 100% my own. Posts contain affiliate links that I earn a commission on. This disclosure is done in accordance with the FTC 10 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

$200 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!

Hey everyone! Here is an awesome giveaway for a $200 gift card! One lucky winner will get to start the New Year off in style!

Good luck!

Hosted by:

Co-Hosted by:

One lucky winner will win

$200 Visa GC

Details:

Dates: Dec. 21 to Jan 4

US. Resident only

All entries are optional

We appreciate the support of our co-hosts and bloggers promoting, please show your support by following them on their social medias pages.

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Disclaimer: MasterofMom.com is not responsible for the awarding of the prize.  If you have any questions about this giveaway, please email the host at nysavingspecials@gmail.com

Friday, December 20, 2013

Where do you stand on the Duck Dynasty controversy?

I'll tell you where I stand: I stand with Phil.

Unfortunately, many people who announce that they stand with him or believe the same as him have been met with an onslaught of disrespectful, rude, and often ignorant comments. They have been called homophobes, they have been called unintelligent. They have been called haters, rednecks, intolerant bigots, and worse.

However, to imply that all these people have homophobia is to imply that they have psychological disorders, which I assure you they all do not. If that was how we diagnosed issues of psychosis, I suppose my dislike of wasting electricity would mean that I had electrophobia.

And those standing with Phil are also not haters, intolerant, or bigots. I have folks in my own family who are gay, and to be perfectly honest I love and care for them very much. I don't always agree with them (as a matter of fact we have a lot of mundane Obama-related arguments!), but that doesn't matter. So there goes the hater argument. I'm also not intolerant. In fact, if the truth is known, I'm probably a bit more tolerant than I should be, on many issues. The reason behind this is that I know of my own shortfalls and I realize that I have been given a lot of tolerance and leeway over the years, and I appreciated it. Being tolerant of someone merely means that while you don't want to live like them, or may not completely agree with them, you are going to allow them to continue with their life peacefully. To be intolerant you must be actively taking action to destroy or disallow their ability to live the way they want. Have you heard of zero-tolerance policies? If people had zero-tolerance on this subject, believe me, the world over would know. So this cannot be an issue of tolerance. As for bigotry, let's turn to the dictionary: Bigotry is defined as an intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.  And because we are not actively trying to destroy anyone, or their way of life for that matter, I can't see how we could be labeled bigots. (Although it does seem like those who are calling for the punishment of Phil Robertson for speaking his opinion are acting like bigots themselves!)


So what am I? Well, although this deviates a bit from my main point, I'm just gonna put it out there: I'm a Christian. I'm a God-fearing, people-loving Christian. This means that I believe in the Bible and what it teaches, and it's my right as a human being to do so. On that same note, because I believe the teachings of the Bible, it also means that I believe in not judging others for their actions and in loving them no matter what they do. I don't always succeed of course. Many people will point to Christians who have fallen short of the mark and hold them up high as examples of what Christianity "really" looks like. I think this is shameful and a bit underhanded since those same people would never want their worst moments to be put on display as the standard for their behavior. Being a Christian does NOT mean that I am perfect. It does NOT mean that I will always behave the way that I should and it certainly does NOT mean that I am done learning how to be a good Christian. There will always be room for improvement.


If I could ask one thing of everyone during this controversy that has arisen, it is to make your true feelings known to the world on this subject, regardless of which stance you take or what point you look at it from (and there are many different talking points on this, whether you are Christian, gay, atheist, or anything else). Phil took a stand and told the world what he believed without reserve - not because he thought it was a politically correct move, but because he was asked how he believed on the subject and he responded with an answer that is based on his Christian faith. For that simple action, he has been attacked by the leaders of the LGBT community. Too many Christians have turned to political correctness to address big issues like this instead of just giving a simple answer, and that is why it has gotten to the point that it is shocking for some people to hear a Christian tell-it the way they believe it.


Despite all of the pressures and laws in place to keep this country "tolerant", it is glaringly obvious that we have come to a large fork in the road. Despite the fact that A&E is clearly stepping all over the Civil Rights Act (which states that an organization cannot retaliate or discriminate against an employee for several different things, including their religious beliefs or sexual preference) and despite the fact that there was the usual 'offended' stance from those for whom Politically-Correct statements are the end-all-be-all of their existance; it seems more than apparent that the majority of folks are standing with Phil - and that includes a great number of those who are members of the LGBT community!


Stand With PhilIt's time to become aware of what is slowly happening in our country: We are being censored, and that doesn't apply to one "side" or the other, that applies to us all. Corporations have a vested interest in becoming thoroughly involved in our lives. If they can begin to control our opinions, the things we say, where we eat, what we do, who we vote for - then we have really and truly lost our freedom. Please don't let this issue pass by without a care or a thought because you think it doesn't interest you, involve you, or affect you. The truth is, it affects all of us an awful lot. Today a man might be sitting in the supposed "hot-seat" because he responded to a question with an answer that reflects his Christian faith, but who is to say that in the coming years this same principle won't be applied in a way that negatively affects you or your loved ones?

We have to stand with Phil, not because we have to agree with what he said, but because if we don't, we run the risk of setting a precedent that will cost us our freedom - and that just isn't a cost we want to pay for our petty disagreements.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today's Technology - The Utility Of The Tablet


To say that technology has come a long way is an understatement. Some of the first computing machines built were the size of a large room. They either had the purpose of doing  minor calculations or decoding messages for the military. Today, we have computers that are thousands of times more powerful than the ones I just mentioned and we wear them on our wrists, we hold them in our hands, and we carry them in our pockets, purses, and backpacks. It's pretty wild and amazing when you take a step back and look at it, isn't it?

I recently purchased Google's (Asus) Nexus 7 (2013) 32GB for my wife. I saw it as a way for her to keep up on her blog and social media without having to stare into a tiny 4-inch screen on-the-go. But as with all things, I have to have my hands on new 'toys' to tinker and play with. It didn't take me very long before I realized something... this tablet has so many forms. It can be a family computer, a portable desktop computer, an ultra-portable laptop, or a multi-functional entertainment system and all you'll need are a few apps and hardware add-ons.

For this article, I will be referring to Google's (Asus) Nexus 7 (2013), however there are other tablets on the market that also support these possible 'forms' such as Microsoft's Surface Pro.


Form #1 - Family Computer
For this, you need nothing but the tablet itself. The Nexus 7 allows for one master account and multiple user accounts for the device, each can be programmed with their own individual password and setup. For instance, if User A has the Facebook app installed, User B will not have it installed unless he or she wants it installed. User B could have five or six games installed, but User A won't. While any app or program installed on the device can be seen on the master list of downloaded apps, each user gets their own custom interface, making it ideal for multi-users who share one device. And for the parents out there who might worry that their kid will set a password so you can't get into it, you can set parameters and a master password, as well as simply deleting any user via the master account.


Form #2 - Portable Desktop Computer
When you think portable desktop, you automatically think of a laptop. But with laptops, they are usually much more expensive, far less powerful, and less satisfying than their desktop counterparts. However, with a decent Wi-Fi connection and a useful little app called 'Splashtop Remote Desktop', you can have your desktop computer on your tablet. Some of you may have already heard about remote desktop, or, being able to control your home computer from a phone or tablet. And in many cases, such apps are slow and lag, meaning the movement you make in real-time takes seconds to show up on the remote device being controlled.

Splashtop is the exception. Aside from a minor issue with its right-click with video games, it is one of the BEST remote desktop apps I've ever tried. By downloading the app to my tablet and downloading the Splashtop Streamer program to my computer, I can access my desktop computer in its fullest. Music, video games, and files are available to me at the simple click of a button in REAL TIME - again, granted - only if I have a decent Wi-Fi connection. I will say however, that I do not recommend doing this with an older, less-powerful tablet. A quad-core tablet with at least a Tegra 3 graphics or equivalent and decent RAM is recommended.


(This is showing how with a fast Wi-Fi connection, a video of Fox's Family Guy is playing in real-time in correlation to the tablet via Splashtop Remote Desktop) 

(Note: The tablet does not need to be next to the desktop computer for this app to work.)


Form #2.5 - Ultra-Portable Laptop
I codenamed this form #2.5 because it greatly helps the idea of form #2. You might be asking yourself, "Okay, I have my desktop computer controllable on my tablet screen, but it's still just a touch screen tablet. Where is the mouse and keyboard?" Luckily, I have an answer for you. I purchased a tablet case cover that comes with a Bluetooth keyboard attached to it . More specifically, I purchased a Bear Motion Premium Folio Case with detachable Bluetooth Keyboard. Along with that, I purchased a USB to Micro USB adapter and Logitech's M125 Retractable Corded Mouse. With these products, I did the following:
- Place the tablet inside the cover
- Connect the wireless Bluetooth Keyboard to the tablet
- Physically connect the male-end of the USB to Micro USB adapter to the tablet
- Connect Logitech M125 mouse to the female-end of the adapter

It was simple plug and play from there. So what makes it portable? I leave the adapter plugged into the keyboard, where it inconspicuously hides itself inside the case when closed. Then I just carry the small mouse in my pocket with the cord retracted and hidden beneath the base of it. This is a phenomenal option for college students who don't want to carry around a heavy or large laptop. As a side note, the keyboard despite being small, is surprisingly easy to type on and get the hang of.






Form #3 - Multi-Functional Entertainment System
You can do this with one or both of these hardware add-ons. One is Google's Chromecast and the other is a HDMI to Micro USB adapter. With Google's Chromecast, you can plug it into any HDMI port on a TV and with a Wi-Fi or internet connection, use it to connect to your phone or tablet to play content from apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Prime straight to your TV without any wires. Not bad for a flat $30 cost, not counting the Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Prime service cost.

The second option as I mentioned, is a HDMI to Micro USB adapter. This option requires you to hook your phone charger up into your  adapter, plug your TV's HDMI cable into the adapter as well, and then finally connect your adapter to your phone or tablet. It may be a bit more of a mess than Google's Chromecast, however there is neither Wi-Fi nor internet connection needed. Not only can it display your Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Prime content on your TV, but it displays ANY content on your phone to your TV. This way allows you to use your TV screen as a much larger cell phone or tablet display. Great for when you go on vacation, you can use the hotel room TV to play games or watch your shows.


At this point you might wonder how much all of these gadgets and apps cost. So I'll give you the breakdown.

Google's (Asus) Nexus 7 (2013) 32GB = $220
Bear Motion Premium Folio Case = $24
Logitech M125 mouse = $19
USB to Micro USB Adapter = $2
HDMI to Micro USB Adapter = $9
Google Chromecast = $30

Total = $304

For around $300, that is a LOT of utility to have. All of these functions may not be useful for everyone, but it's nice to have the ability when it's needed. For any questions regarding anything in this article or any instructions, feel free to contact me at Andrew_Figueroa@masterofmom.com.


Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, and as always, my opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Editing videos you took on your phone? You need this software.

Video Conversion Software

Have you ever been looking through the video on your phone and wished you had all of your memories safely put away onto DVD? Or maybe you have an adorable video of your kids that you want to show off, but first you have to edit out that part where your husband walks through the scene in his underwear. Or maybe you're thinking of getting all your videos around and making a montage of some of the best and funniest moments over the past year.

The problem is the same with all of those... once you find the time to take on a project like this, you can hit a brick wall quick when you discover that the video format on your phone doesn't match the format you need to be able to transfer those videos neatly onto a DVD, or even to work with the editing software you have.

I ran into this exact disappointment when I wanted to edit some video I had by using the Windows movie-making application on my home computer. I spent hours fiddling with it, but when I went to play the whole thing back, I realized that my sound wasn't timing right throughout the entire thing!! The problem was that I didn't have the correct video format, and I had to abandon my project for a while.

So how does video conversion software help?

With video-converting software, video can be easily converted into a format that is usable in all sorts of applications, which allows you to quickly make your video moments into DVD's. Last year my husband tested out some video conversion software from Wondershare, and we loved how easy it was to use. It solved our problem with the video formatting and even allowed us to do some other cool stuff (like make back-up copies of our DVD's).

Curious?

You can snag the same type of software we used to convert your phone files into the perfect format for video editing and DVD-burning. We used Wondershare, which is a type of software you can download straight onto your home computer. No waiting for an install disc to come in the mail - they email you the code to download the software as soon as they receive payment!

If you decide to purchase the Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate (the software that we tested out with great results), please consider using my affiliate links listed here to help me keep my blog going! You can purchase this software on Amazon HERE, or by clicking through the picture below.

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate 6 [Download]

Have you used video conversion software? What do you think of it?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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(The It's a Wonderfully Shared Life Giveaway that was associated with this post has expired; please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests! Please take a look at our Winners List or contact the good people over at MakeOurOwnNetwork.com if you have questions about the results of this giveaway.)

Disclosure: MasterofMom.com was not responsible for the distribution of this giveaway. I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Things to do: Check out the rooftop at the Esplendor Breakwater Hotel in South Beach

In December, my husband and I were lucky enough to be invited to check out the Breakwater Hotel in South Beach, Florida, which is being newly managed by a company specializing in unique and upscale hotels. The company, Fen Hoteles, has branded the Breakwater with their 'Esplendor' name, which marks it as being a boutique hotel.

We were invited to a rooftop cocktail party as media guests on behalf of Trekaroo, but please know that my reviews and writing are completely my own. (If you want to more know about my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled, 'Let me disclose to you'. To learn more about Trekaroo and how you can get 'trekarooing', look them up on their website at www.trekaroo.com.)

As we pulled up to the curb along the beautiful and famous Ocean Drive, I was more than pleased to see the valet attentively waiting to park our vehicle for us. I immediately noticed the stunningly lit marquee running vertically down the front of the hotel; the area is well-known for it's historical art-deco architecture, and the neon sign added to the cool, vintage look of the building. We stepped inside the lobby and I noted that on one side it was decorated in keeping with the retro looks that we saw on the outside, and the opposite side of the lobby was filled with photographs and art that could only be described as modern-Miami.

Once on the rooftop I was thrilled with the view. Despite the sun already having set, I could still see the waves rolling out beneath the star-lit ocean. Additionally, because of our vantage point atop the roof, I could see up and down Ocean Drive, which was full of color, lights, and sound at that time of evening. And don't think that you can get this sort of view just anywhere - I asked around, and as far as I've heard, there are very few hotels in the area that have rooftops available for hosting parties!

My husband and I quickly settled into conversation with several of the representatives from Fen Hoteles and the Breakwater itself, and we learned that not only is the hotel unique with it's style and view, but also with how it caters to it's customers. Unlike most hotels you'll find in Miami (or anywhere else for that matter) the Esplendor Breakwater offers it's guests a free breakfast buffet (we're talking the works here, not just continental) - which is a bit of a nod to the Latin American culture that Fen Hoteles has brought to it. Additionally, although the hotel is upscale, they are family-friendly! Not only do they welcome guests who have children, they even have cribs available for families with babies. We were even told that in the unlikely event they would run out of cribs, they would find a way to borrow one from another hotel if it was needed - now that's what I call service! The hotel also provides other niceties like beach towels, concierge service, two on-site restaurants, and bikes for the beach.

After I had gotten acquainted with the staff and what their hotel was able to provide, my husband and I spent some time spying around the terrace to see what we thought of the place overall. We both had the same initial idea: The rooftop would be a great place to throw a 21rst birthday party. Or any party for that matter. With a complete wet-bar already set-up, it seems most obvious that it would make a great place for an adult group to celebrate an important occasion - anything from a successful theater play run to a bachelor or bachelorette party. Because decorations are allowed to be brought up, it would make an equally great place to rent for a Christmas or New Year's party. The comfortable and modern lounge chairs on the rooftop are perfectly arranged to allow for good flow of conversation among guests, and work for both casual and formal affairs.

As a bonus, because of the two restaurants on-site, it was easy to get delicious and savory appetizers up to the roof, and my husband and I were delighted with the options every time a  server came up to offer us hors d'oeuvres!

Now the real question: Would I want to rent this place to host my own party? Oh, most definitely. Not only does the atmosphere of the entire area speak of a romantically vintage getaway, but I felt right at home because of the friendliness of the staff there. Plus, now I have pictures in my head of finally being able to throw the perfect holiday bash, my friends and I gathered around on the rooftop as music plays and we order drinks at the bar in our own private setting. To me, it sounds like something right out of a movie - and for this girl who grew up in the country, it doesn't get anymore spectacular than that!

Thinking about booking the rooftop at the Esplendor Breakwater for your next big event? With room for up to 120 guests, your party is sure to be a hit whether it is for business or pleasure! You can check out the scoop on these facilities on their website at www.esplendorbreakwatersouthbeach.com, or you can call the booking line for more information at (305) 532-2362.

To see more of what Fen Hoteles has to offer, you can visit them on their website, www.fenhoteles.com, or connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or YouTube.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Enter this Wine & Romance Giveaway: Holiday Love Notes!

Make Our Own Network

Prize:
Uncorked Ventures Gourmet Gift Basket
The Mood Sign Device and Card Game
A copy of Ignite 
A copy of Momnesia
ARV $185
Hosted by:
Master of Mom
and 
Make Our Own Network

**If you are a company and would like to see your brand advertised in a M.O.O.N. event similar to this please contact MakeOurOwnNetwork@gmail.com.

This giveaway is open to the Continental US only (because of shipping costs) and will end on December 20th, 2013.



"Make Our Own Network" solely organized this event and I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are 100% my own and may differ from your own or even those stated in this post.  This event is in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" and is in no way associated with any of the social media it is viewed/shared/located on.  The sponsor is responsible for prize shipment and not this blog or any bloggers involved in the promotion. 


Review: Uncorked Ventures Gourmet Gift Baskets

When I was a girl I practically dreamed of the day that I'd be able to travel around, and I thought I'd spend my vacations traveling the country and seeking out the best of the best.

And I did... for a while anyhow. I used to hop into the car on any given weekend for a getaway on a local winery route, or a shopping and dining spree in Chicago or Toronto. Sure, I was always on a budget, and I was definitely looking for discounts, but I thought I was living the life!

So what happened to my whimsical spontaneity and my love of traveling? Kids happened. Don't get me wrong, I still love to travel and definitely love to be spontaneous - but I just can't imagine lugging two little ones along a winery route! Our travels include trips to the local playground, or visits to the zoo. This is great for family time of course, but I miss the romance a trip for two can create, and it's definitely been a long while since my husband and I got out to have a glass of wine alone somewhere!

However, I've always loved a DIY challenge, so when I was asked to review a gourmet wine basket from Uncorked Ventures recently, I took on the task of turning my dining room into the sort of romantic setting I would have found in an out-in-the-country wine bistro. Although I did receive the wine basket free of charge in order to do my review, please understand that this in no way affects my opinion. (For more on my disclosure policy, please see the tab marked 'Let me disclose to you'.)

My efforts to make the night a good one included broiling delicious rib-eye steaks in the oven and lighting candles to set the mood. I knew that the wine basket included tasty treats that would go well with bread, so I stopped by a bakery and even picked up a couple of artisan loaves! A few hunks of cheese from a deli completed my end of the contribution to the evening, and we opened up our gourmet box to inspect our new treats!

The Gourmet Gift Basket we received came with a bottle of 90+ point quality boutique wine, signature chocolates from the well-known San Franciscan maker TCHO, jam and mustard from Hurley Farms, a tin of pistachios from Fiddyment Farm, and two small bottles containing EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and balsamic vinegar.

I think the thing that amazed us the most about this entire box was the EVOO and balsamic vinegar combination. We made a mix to dip our bread into, and I have never had anything quite like it! I have definitely mixed EVOO & balsamic vinegar to make a dip before - but never using ingredients that were this high-quality. The taste was completely unexpected and my husband and I were incredulous at how much we'd been missing out on simply due to the make of the oil and vinegar.

The second biggest surprise (for me at least) was the apricot jam included from Hurley Farms. I had read somewhere on the Uncorked Ventures website that the owner's son delights in this jam, but I took it with a grain of salt. I have never been big on jam or preserves myself (regardless of the make) and I'm not a big sweets-lover. Oh my goodness though... the flavor and texture of this jam was spectacular. It was tangy and sweet at the same time, and the crusty Tuscan bread paired with it magnificently. I ate the whole jar within a week.

For my husband, the second best part was the chocolate from TCHO. As I said before, I'm not big on sweets, but that shouldn't be held against the sweets themselves! Luckily I have my husband's taste buds to help me out most days, and he adores a good piece of dark chocolate. He was both surprised and amused by some of the flavors the chocolates came in (such as citrus) but overall very pleased with the rich bittersweet taste provided by the high level of cacao in each bar. I had a few bites myself, but I'm not as much of a chocolate lover as he is, so I went back to stuffing myself with bread and jam.

The wine that was included in our box was a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from Zerba Cellars. I thought it had a nice woodsy flavor to it and my husband (who is very picky about the wines he drinks) was happy that the finish was smooth. While neither of us are what I would call 'wine connoisseurs', we certainly can tell a good wine when we taste one, and this was a great one.

We spent the rest of the evening together watching a movie while we drank wine snuggled up on the couch, and we were so full that we decided to try out the pistachios and mustard another time. Needless to say, they also lived up to the 'gourmet' standards - we devoured the pistachios together the next night while watching a re-run of Chuck, and we've been using the savory herb mustard from Hurley Farms on our sandwiches and in my super-secret egg, ham, chicken, or tuna salad recipes.

All in all, the gift basket was fantastic. I was able to have a romantic evening with my husband at home, which meant I spent my time with him enjoying myself instead of worrying how the kids were behaving for my mother-in-law. Plus, there is nothing quite so cozy as being able to relax after a fine meal and have a glass of wine (or two) on the couch with your spouse!

Want to know how you can get a gift basket like this for yourself (or a friend who is in need of a special treat)? You can connect with Uncorked Ventures and find out more about this family business started by two brothers-in-law on their website at www.uncorkedventures.com or their Facebook for special deals and information. Love Twitter? You can follow the owners Mark & Matt by clicking the links!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Miami Culinary Tours Launches The Wynwood Art District Food Tour

Wynwood has become an epicenter of well-known street art & galleries and hosts some of the most talented chefs and one-of-a-kind restaurants that are now part of the Wynwood Food Tour.

Miami, December 2013 - The same group of passionate food concierge guides who brought you the South Beach Food Tour and Little Havana Food Tour have launched the Wynwood Art District Food Tour. Miami Culinary Tours is keeping their promise to showcase the best restaurants in Miami by expanding to the up-and-coming neighborhood of Wynwood.

"This tour has been designed to encompass the creativity and variety (in food and art) of Wynwood. We are very proud to include a worldy perspective by sharing the secrets behind the art and treating guests to tastes ranging from Russia, Japan, Peru, Puerto Rico and even some very local dishes." states Miami Culinary Tours founder, Grace Della. Stroll through the vibrant neighborhood of Wynwood learning how the area came to be, admire countless works of art and eat your way through it all. In a few hours you'll visit up to seven different locations, making it the most unique and only dining experience in Wynwood. Meet chefs who will explain their savory dishes, discover hidden shopping for unique artifacts and gallery gems - and even catch a few artists working on their street murals.

"Our tour guides are all locals and therefore they grew up experiencing the change in art and food reflected in this world-known part of town. With a focus on 'street art' and it's evolvement, we assure our guests will finish the tour with an abundance of knowledge regarding murals and their concepts." says Della.

The Wynwood Food Tour stops at some of the best restaurants in the area including Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, located at 2550 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127, where guests will have a juicy empanada with a side of creamy cilantro sauce and sweet, fried plantains sprinkled with cheese crema. The tour will then visit The Butcher Shop, located at 165 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL 33127, where a beautifully presented cone filled with a variety of seven cold meats randing from a smoked polish kielbasa to peppered salami will be served accompanied by a dark, Russian beer. The next stop is at Jimmy'z Kitchen, located at 2700 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127, where guests will enjoy a traditional Puerto Rican dish, the chicken mofongo - composed of mashed, fried green plantains, garlic, olive oil, crunchy pork rinds, and chicken. Across the street you'll find the newest addition to Wynwood, SuViche, located at 2751 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127, where a spicy Japanese-Peruvian fusion causa will be served. Cross back over to the west side of N Miami Ave to Pride & Joy, located at 2800 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127. This stop will serve the most divine deviled eggs topped with tender pulled pork. The final stop on the Wynwood Food Tour is at the hidden location of Fireman Derek's World Famous Pies kitchen, 2600 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127, where guests will take delight in the perfect ending to a food tour - a creamy, decadent and chilled key lime pie.

About Miami Culinary Tours

Miami Culinary Tours, founded by entrepreneur and dining expert, Grace Della, has been running food tours since 2010. With a concentration in Miami's historic neighborhoods, the guided cultural walking food tours present these experiences in several locations. The South Beach Food Tour runs twice daily at 12:00PM and 5:00PM in the bustling streets of South Beach at $59/person. The Little Havana Food Tour takes place every Saturday at 12:30PM in the charming area of Little Havana at $59/person. The newest addition to this assortment of walking tours, the Wynwood Food Tour, runs every Saturday at 12:30PM at $69/person. These tours are excellent for travelers and locals alike, offering personal historical, architectural, cultural, artistic and epicurean insight from highly trained and passionate local guides. For more information or to mak reservations, please visit www.miamiculinarytours.com. Miami Culinary Tours gladly accomodates private groups and customized tours for alternative days and times. E-mail info@miamiculinarytours.com.

For media inquiries please contact Grace Della at (786) 942-8856 or by e-mail info@miamiculinarytours.com. Additional pictures can be provided.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Activity Review: Family Golfing at the PGA Village

If you have kids, you know how hard it can be to go on a family vacation. First you have to figure out who wants to do what, then you have to figure out if it's even going to be feasible for everyone to be involved. If you have younger kids, it's even harder because someone might have to stay behind to keep an eye on them if the activity is only for older children!

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the facilities at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My stay there was complimentary since I went as a Superoo on behalf of this awesome travel site I'm a part of called Trekaroo. Although my stay and some of my activities there were free, please know that, as always, my words and opinions are 100% my own! For more information on my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled 'Let me disclose to you'.

(To find out how you can have your own travel fun with Trekaroo, please check out their website at www.trekaroo.com.)

As part of our stay, we were able to participate in a family golf lesson that allowed us to involve our entire family. Our daughter (who is less than a year old) wasn't able to play of course, but we were able to bring her onto the course with us. The director there, Holly Taylor, even told me that she used to take her baby out onto the course by strapping a car-seat into the golf-cart with bungee cords! (For more on my general review of the PGA Village, please click here.)

With our daughter ensconced in her stroller and my son eagerly twirling around the grass, our instructor Ryan began to tell us a little about the course, and how they really try hard to get kids interested in golfing. We could really tell that Ryan spent a lot of time around kids and was a real pro at teaching them the game - not only did he immediately get our three-year-old to respect the rules of golf-safety, but he got down on eye-level with him to talk. As a mother, that impressed me more than I can say. Lots of people are good with kids, but very few will actually take a knee to talk to a toddler at their level. My son listened to him right off the bat - and although he wasn't a star pupil or the next Tiger Woods, he had a lot of fun.

After our son had tired of playing for a while, he sat down to watch mommy and daddy play. I was a bit nervous about how I would play, and our instructor was quick to work with us on our posture and explain why it was so important to stay relaxed. We learned a lot about how to properly hold the club, how to get distance, how to follow through, and how to keep our swing straight.

My husband never thought he would be interested in golfing, but after our lesson he came away with a new perspective. Not only does he think of golfing as a fun activity now, but he realizes that he doesn't have to be a pro, buy a new outfit, or be country-club rich to enjoy the game.

Our lesson was completed with Ryan reminding us that we could swing by their 6-hole short course for a free game. That's right, free. They even have clubs available for people to borrow at the bag drop!

We were a bit sore after our lesson (it turns out golfing is good exercise!) and more than happy to head back to our conveniently located hotel. A dinner at the golf-themed restaurant on-site completed our awesome day together as a family. (Click here for a further review of the hotel, and here for one of the restaurant.)

To find out more about the PGA Village, their properties, and all the fun they have to offer, check out their website at www.pgavillage.com. Or, you can connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.


Hotel Review: Hilton Garden Inn in Port St. Lucie

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the facilities at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My stay there was complimentary since I went as a Superoo on behalf of this awesome travel site I'm a part of called Trekaroo. Although my stay and some of my activities there were free, please know that, as always, my words and opinions are 100% my own! For more information on my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled 'Let me disclose to you'.

(To find out how you can have your own travel fun with Trekaroo, please check out their website at www.trekaroo.com.)

There are three properties to choose from at the PGA Village, and we ended up staying at the Hilton Garden Inn. It's been years since I've stayed at a Hilton, but this one was just as fantastic at the others I'd been able to stay at in the past. (For more on our general review of the PGA Village, please click here.)

The rooms were clean and inviting, and I loved that the air smelled good when we walked into our room. The room had a refrigerator and microwave in it - which I count as a must when you are traveling with kids like me! - and it also had a surprise feature: a Keurig coffee-maker! Although the coffee available wasn't a blend that I cared for, the fact that there was a Keurig machine in the room was a definite bonus. Had I known ahead of time, I certainly would have brought along some Dunkin' K-cups, which are my favorite.

We also had in-room Wi-Fi, which was great for working on our laptop. Even better than that though was the Business Center they had available just down the hall from our room, complete with a printer set-up and a paper shredder. My husband was excited about their huge exercise room, and we were both wishing for a moment alone to try out the hot-tub out by the pool.

The Sam Snead's Tavern on site made grabbing breakfast, lunch or dinner easy, and the beautiful lobby was a nice place to sit and have a coffee or read the newspaper. (For more on our restaurant review, please click here.)

The staff at the hotel were spectacular. The check-in clerk, Junior, was especially helpful and friendly and made sure that we knew where everything was. He even let us know that we could get a ride over to the PGA Center on a golf-cart if we just asked at the front desk! We were equally impressed with how well the hotel service treated our room and belongings while we were gone. Shoes and clothes were scattered across the room from the morning's frenzy to dress our little ones and get out the door, and when we returned from the day's activities, they were all neatly placed next to our suitcases. (For more on the review of our family-golf activity, please click here.)

All in all, we had a fantastic stay. To find out more about the PGA Village, their properties, and all the fun they have to offer, check out their website at www.pgavillage.com. Or, you can connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.


Restaurant Review: Sam Snead's Tavern in Port St. Lucie

sam sneads in hilton garden innRecently I was in Port St. Lucie to check out the PGA Village, and while we were there we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant. Of course, it was Sam Snead's Oak Grill & Tavern - the chain named after a golfing legend. (For more on my PGA Village review, please click here.)

The restaurant not only offers lunch and dinner, but an breakfast buffet that is available from 6:30AM to 10:30AM. Diners can choose from a cheaper continental option or go for the all-out buffet that includes cook-to-order items (like omelets) and all the tasty usuals (homefries, bacon, pancakes, etc.) for a few dollars more.

sam sneads in port st lucieWe went for dinner and I was thrilled to find that there was an offer available on restaurant.com that allowed us to get a great discount. Luckily the hotel had a fantastic business center available, and I was able to hop on the computer and print out my discount in a matter of minutes! (For my review of the Hilton Garden Inn in Port St. Lucie, please click here.)

kids love sam sneads tavernDinner was great, from the quick seating at our arrival to the service and food. The restaurant had a great decor, and the golf memorabilia on the wall was interesting to look at. After our long day out and about (we'd had a golf lesson just earlier, you can read more about it here) my husband and I were both worried that we didn't look quite 'fancy' enough for such a spectacular-looking establishment. We found within minutes that most of the other diners there were people who had also come in from hitting the links!

One of my bigger concerns was that my toddler, who has a strong love of chicken nuggets, wouldn't want to eat the chicken strips that they had there. The problem? Real chicken, along with real breading, and sauce that didn't come in a little plastic cup. Lucky for us, he devoured it in between making our waitress laugh with his silly faces.

Sam Snead's Tavern on UrbanspoonMy husband and I decided not to splurge on one of their aged Angus steaks (we like to save that sort of thing for romantic dinners when we're alone!) and opted for sandwiches instead. I had a sliced ribeye sandwich that was tender and beautifully seasoned. My husband opted for his favorite - a patty melt - and was pleased to find that the bread was deliciously crispy despite the juicy burger sitting within.

We had an all-in-all fantastic night that completed a fantastic day.

Want to know more about Sam Snead's Tavern and the player behind it? You can check out their website at www.samsneadstavern.com.

To find out more about the PGA Village, their properties, and all the fun they have to offer, check out their website at www.pgavillage.com. Or, you can connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Sam Sneads Tavern Port St Lucie on Foodio54Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, and as always, my opinions are purely my own.


Florida Travel Review: PGA Village in Port St. Lucie

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the facilities at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My stay there was complimentary since I went as a Superoo on behalf of this awesome travel site I'm a part of called Trekaroo. Although my stay and some of my activities there were free, please know that, as always, my words and opinions are 100% my own! For more information on my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled 'Let me disclose to you'.

(To find out how you can have your own travel fun with Trekaroo, please check out their website at www.trekaroo.com.)

When I heard that we were going to go to PGA Village, I was pretty thrilled. Other than heading out to the driving range for some fun now and again, I hadn't truly been 'golfing' since I was around 17 years of age.

My husband on the other hand, was not exactly excited. Sure, he was looking forward to staying on the property (who doesn't like to stay someplace other than home now and again?) but he had never been golfing before and didn't know what to think of it. His biggest fears were the same as most people's when it comes to golfing: he thought he wouldn't be able to hit the ball and he was afraid he wouldn't 'fit in' with the usual golf-crowd. (Luckily, all of those fears were put to rest in our awesome golf lesson!)
hilton garden inn at pga village
The property has three different lodging options to choose from, and we ended up staying at their Hilton Garden Inn. (To see our hotel-specific review, please click here.)

I was able to meet with Holly Taylor, who is the director, and spoke with her a little about what makes the property a perfect choice for families. I came away from the conversation feeling pretty good about our stay there, and definitely sold on the idea that this makes a great vacation getaway for anyone, young or old!

One of the most important elements of our interview that I noted was the child-friendly atmosphere. I had originally thought that it would be a huge hassle, possibly even an annoyance to others, for me to have my young children on or around a golf course. I couldn't have been more wrong about the PGA Center, because it's actually geared towards families and has a great program for teaching younger players about the game! They even have special holiday camps!

The Center is also great for instructing older players like me who might need a serious refresher course, or even for an adult who has never even picked up a club (like my husband). While I was there, I found out that one of the best features the PGA Center has to offer is their 6-hole short course that is free to anyone. That's right - free! Don't have any clubs? It's fine! Just ask at the bag drop! No clubs for little players there? Go to the main shop in the Center, they have lots of them there and have the same borrowing policy. I asked if there was any catch to this 'free' activity, such as an age limitation - as it turns out, it's just one of the few awesome perks left in this world! "It's free," Holly told me, "It doesn't matter how old or young you are, anyone can play the short course for free; no catch."

Further, if you feel like dropping a few bucks to play (or learn to play), they can work with you on a budget! Let them know what your limitations are and what you'd like to be able to do, and they'll work on a plan with you. This place is still old-school, and I love that. (To see our family golf-lesson review, please click here.)

pga museum of golf in port st lucieBesides being a great place in general to vacation, the PGA Village also has the amazing benefit of being located close to a lot of fun attractions. Vero and Jensen beach are both around 30 minutes away, along with Fort Pierce and at least three state parks! If for some reason the weather turns out rainy, you can always check out the PGA Museum of Golf for a look at some of the collectibles they have in store there. You can even head to Superplay, which is less than 5 minutes away, for an afternoon of family fun. An on-property restaurant named after famed golfer Sam Snead even makes it easy to grab a quick bite. (To see our restaurant-specific review, please click here.)

sam sneads at pga villageTo put it simply, if you are looking for an amazing vacation destination that will get your family outdoors and having fun together, the PGA Village in Port St. Lucie is certainly worth a look.

To find out more about the PGA Village, their properties, and all the fun they have to offer, check out their website at www.pgavillage.com. Or, you can connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grab a prize pack perfect for a cozy day indoors!

I lived next door to my grandparents when I was a young girl, and their home was constantly filled with visiting family. It's no wonder that I spent a lot of time with my many cousins because of this, and we spent many wintery afternoons playing or drawing indoors. I remember that one of our favorite activities was coloring. My cousin Tina and my Granny taught me their special way of coloring - dark borders on the outside with a lighter inside - and I would color for hours if no one disturbed me. If someone had asked me what my favorite pastimes were, I certainly would have named coloring as one of them - I thought I would never stop!

Well, we all grow up unfortunately, and I did stop coloring as I grew older. Apparently, however, my fondness for it didn't completely go away. A few weeks ago my son asked me to color a few pages with him, and I was surprised at how quickly I fell back into my 'special' method, and how involved I got in my drawing. It's amazing how childhood pursuits stay so close to our hearts!

Le Chateau BidaineImagine my pleasure when I was asked to do a coloring book review just a few days after that! Sometimes the timing for things like this seems as if the universe is trying to remind us to slow down and remember who we used to be. I was more than happy to accept, and a friend of the artist behind the book's concept sent me a copy of Le Chateau Bidaine. Although this post has been sponsored (meaning I received money, goods, and/or services in exchange for my writing) please know that my thoughts and opinions are always 100% my own.

For more on my disclosure policy, please see the tab marked 'Let me disclose to you'.

Before we go further, let me outline the premise of this very special coloring book. Unlike the typical coloring books you might find, this one is detailed to the point that it could be a collector's item. The home (or chateau) in the book is actually an elaborate miniature house that was created to look like the real Chateau Bidaine in France. The miniature version was created by the artist I spoke of earlier, Suze Perry-Hinkle. 

Le Chateau BidaineSuze is famous for her minature art and love of all things French; and this book is meant as a token of recognition to her mentor in French art, Lillian Williams, who owns the home the book and miniature are based on.

Although I had investigated the book a bit before it arrived on my doorstep, I was still a bit taken aback as I leafed through the pages - nothing had prepared me for the detail that was involved in the drawings! I had originally intended to let my son color a page or two in the book and ask him how he liked it, but I couldn't bring myself to allow his childish-scribbles to sully what could only be called a work of art.

It should be noted that this book is recommended for children 8+, since this is really more for children who want to create something special and have a love of drawing or art.

Le Chateau BidaineI decided to call my sister-in-law and have her bring my 12-year-old niece over since she is in a good age range for this book, and she absolutely loves to draw and color pictures.

I wasn't disappointed when, as soon as she opened the book, she exclaimed at the pictures and took it over to show her mother. I happened to have a beautiful set of art markers on hand, and she happily spent an hour coloring at the kitchen table.

When she was done, she told me that she liked the book very much, but she had a bit of trouble getting the shading correct since some of the markers were so dark that they covered up a the lighter areas of the drawing. For this reason, I would suggest using lighter markers, or a nice set of colored pencils. Many of the illustrations have delicate features to them, and I recommend gifting this book to a child who likes to take his or her time with their artwork. As a bonus, the pictures have wording in French and English, so this would also make a fun workbook for a child who wants to learn another language.

I have been trying to pull away from the technological gifts that are becoming ever-more popular with children these days, and focus more on the types of gifts that I would have received as a child. Although video games are fun, it is becoming more and more obvious that too much time in front of the TV is a problem for many families. Why not toss in a traditional present such as this one now and again to even things out?

Do you think this would make a great present for someone you know? You can purchase the book on Amazon at this link! Find out more about Suze and her incredible career here, or connect with her on her Facebook page or her Etsy Shop!
Wintery Day Prize Pack

Wait, there's more! In remembrance of all the wonderful winter days I had with my much-loved Granny, I'm offering a giveaway to my readers! The winner will be able to cozy up with this prize pack featuring a copy of Le Chateau Bidaine and everything else you need to have a great time indoors! This would be perfect for a 'Mommy & Me' day, whether for yourself or as a gift to someone you know!


This giveaway will run from 11:59PM on 11/25/13 and will end on 12/18/13*. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only, 18+. Winner will receive a copy of Le Chateau Bidaine, one package Bear Creek Creamy Potato soup, one box of Starbucks Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix, one container JetPuffed Mallow Bits, one package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, one container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Rainbow Sprinkle Frosting, one 500 Piece Puzzle, one Zany Tales Word Game, one package of markers, and two extra-large red mugs - plus a few bonus coupons that we put in the box as an extra treat!

Good luck!

*Please know that due to some issues with GiveawayTools' website during our giveaway, we have extended the length of entry time by a day in order to make up for the day that our readers were unable to enter. Thank you for your understanding.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cartoons of our Childhood

Does anyone else feel like today's cartoons just aren't as good as the ones we watched as a child? Even the Christmas specials of nowadays are generally passed over for classics like Rudolph or the Peanuts' Christmas.

This afternoon as I was thinking back, I decided to look up a couple of my favorites to see if they were available to watch on the internet: A Claymation Christmas Celebration, and the Garfield Christmas special from 1987. When I was younger, we watched these so many times that I could still recite most of either one.

There were two huge differences that I noticed in both of these cartoons from the cartoons of today. First of all, a great deal of effort had been put into both of them - and not just because of the work that had to go into the animation back then. The dialogue was intelligent, and even though it was a cartoon for children, the jokes weren't about farting or dumbed down to the point that every other line was childish. I actually remember as a child that I would have to think about the jokes to get some of them. And some of the jokes with bigger words prompted me to ask my mom what they meant. Sometimes I figured out the meaning by thinking about the way the word was used. The cartoons made me think, and that made me smarter. The creators weren't worried about whether or not their entire audience would get every joke, every time - and that's part of what made them great.
Garfield Christmas
The creators also weren't worried about the other big difference I noticed: being politically correct. The family in Garfield's Christmas prayed, and grandma bopped Doc Boy in the head with a spoon when he started to protest about being picked as the prayer-giver. The Claymation Christmas featured carols that sang of Jesus and His birth, and the Joy to the World carol included imagery of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. Personally, I never noticed the inclusion of God or Jesus in our cartoons when I was younger, but now that I am older and looking back, the exclusion of Him in today's cartoons is starkly felt - and it isn't a good feeling.

I find myself wishing now that I could replicate the way the world was in my childhood for my kids. How am I to do that though when it seems like our government is bent on freeing us from religion rather than giving us the freedom to have it? I don't think that a religion should be shoved down everyone's throat - that would be wrong, and that isn't the point of having a religion or faith. But if we are forced to endure a society where everyone is forcing non-religious beliefs at every turn, isn't that just about the same thing?

I myself have never minded seeing other religious symbols in public, such as the menorah or the Buddha. Those items don't represent my personal faith, but I've never taken offense at them and can't understand why anyone would. That's not to say that there aren't people from every religion who are overbearing and try to force others to believe the same way that they do - I can understand how someone who is Buddhist may take offense from another religious person mocking them, or how an Atheist may take offense from someone who tries to convert them everyday with rude tactics. Those things are inexcusable and aren't a true reflection of the great majority of people within a religion. But generally speaking, I don't see why we can't all get along in this great country.

Was our country in a great turmoil during our childhood? Was there massive animosity between us all due to the inclusion of religion on tv, or on store-posters, or even in school? I think in the end, a handful of noisy people spoke for our country, before our country was allowed to have a voice in the matter, and being 'politically correct' grew out of hand before anyone could stop it. Wouldn't you like to go back to a time where you could say "God Bless You" when someone sneezed without worrying that they would bite your head off afterwards? Is it such a bad thing for a person to wish a blessing upon you? Has anything bad ever come of being blessed, regardless of who is doing the blessing? I would welcome someone of a different faith blessing me from their religion. I would see it as a sign from a beautifully harmonized country, where people from all faiths can live together peacefully rather than being purposefully set at odds with each other by rules and regulations in our government.

For the sake of our children, people - let's go back to that time if we can. Drop your petty squabbles and learn to live peacefully. Don't take offense the next time someone says something to you that isn't your personal belief. Let someone bless you if they want to bless you.  And please, someone bring back the good cartoons!

Stop Worrying: Umbilical Hernias

Have you or someone you know expressed concern over an extremely "outie" bellybutton on a newborn? If so, the infant is probably one of many babies that has an umbilical hernia. About 10 to 20 percent of all babies will have a herniated bellybutton, with increased risk for those who are premature, girls, or African-American. Although the herniation is most common in newborns, they can still appear suddenly up until a few months after birth.

A herniated bellybutton is simply a ring of muscle that has not closed together. Think of your child's abdomen as a sheet of muscle covering their intestines. The umbilical cord goes in through a small opening in this sheet, and a hernia is formed when the umbilical cord detaches prior to the muscles closing back together. The lining and fluid around the intestines (not the actual intestines themselves) are usually what is poking through to cause the skin to 'poof out' where the bellybutton is. Most umbilical hernias are less than an inch across and may become more or less evident when the baby moves.

Many people fear that their child is in pain from the hernia, but in actuality they are rarely even bothersome. As a matter of fact, your doctor may push the hernia back in when checking it, and this also causes no pain. Unless the hernia becomes infected, swollen within the herniated area, or changes color, your doctor will probably tell you that it is nothing to worry about.

Newborn Umbilical HerniaThis may seem like a tall order for parents who were hoping to view their perfect little bundle of joy with their perfect baby bellybutton. Fortunately, most umbilical hernias go away on their own by the child's first birthday, and the rest of them usually heal before five years of age. If your child is one of them who still has a hernia after the age of five, your doctor may recommend a small surgery to close the gap. The surgery is relatively easy and your child will likely be released home the same day. There are almost no complications following this type of surgery, but many doctors will not do the surgery until at least age 2, and then only if the hernia is causing problems.

Don't be afraid to wash the herniated area gently with soap and water, just as you would with any other newborn. There is no evidence that the hernia will go away quicker if you tape a nickel over their bellybutton (as it used to be suggested), but the tape may give your child a rash. If you think pushing in the hernia will help, a pair of normal-fitting elastic band pants will do the job just as well, but without causing your baby unnecessary discomfort.

Make sure to alert your doctor to the hernia at well-visits so that he can check the area and give you an update on its progress. Herniated bellybuttons in newborns are mostly just a cosmetic issue, and should go away on their own. For now just relax, and be thankful that your child is happy and healthy!

Disclosure: I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV either! I don't claim to know all the facts or have all the answers. Please consult with your doctor or your child's doctor before making any big health decisions. I received no compensation for this post.

Ready to clean out old medicine?

With the beginning of another year coming up, it's the perfect time to go through your medicine cabinet and figure out what to keep, and what you need to replace. Most people are surprised to find that when they go through their cabinets, they find over-the-counter medication that is long past the expiration date. Lots of times bargain hunters (myself included) will go for the big bottle of OTC pain relief because it's the cheapest per pill. However, unless you are a constant pain sufferer, or you have a very large family, the chances are that you won't finish that big bottle before it goes bad.

Many people believe that their medication can still be used after it is "expired", and that the manufacturer puts an expiration date on that shortens the life of the medication for safety reasons. This is only partially true. While some medications can technically still be used with a benefit after their expiration dates, in most cases the date the manufacturer puts on the label is an expiration on the potency of the medication, not a date of use for safety. The FDA requires drug manufacturers to determine how long it takes their medication to reach 95% of their original potency, and that is what becomes the expiration date.

Obviously with some medications, such as a tablet of acetaminophin for instance, it may not matter too greatly to you if you take the medication at 94% of it's original strength. The problem with that though is that drug companies aren't going to needlessly spend money trying to figure out how quickly their medications deteriorate after they've reached the 95% mark. Some medications could reach a third of their original efficacy within weeks, some months, maybe others years. Because that data doesn't exist, taking expired medication becomes a gamble.

Some medications should never be taken after the expiration date. Medications that are controlled, and need to be taken at a constant level should never be taken if expired. For instance, taking a less-than-effective dosage of medication could cause severe damage if the medication is life-saving, and could cause a dangerous chemical imbalance if the medication is taken to control mood swings. Children's medication should also never be taken after expired. Not only do children have under-developed metabolic systems, many of their medicines come in suspension form. Suspensions are another medication that should never be taken after expiration. They can turn rancid, or worse - grow bacteria after expiring due to the decomposition of the medicine. Finally, never take anibiotics after their expiration date. Not only does the decreased efficiency of the medicine allow a reprieve for the bacteria (which can make fighting it take much longer), but tetracycline - which is a very common antibiotic - has actually been proven toxic after it's expiration date.

Once you have made the decision to throw out your expired medication, you have to dispose of it properly. Simply tossing it into the trash can is no longer the best way to do this. Not only are there children and pets to think about (should the trash bag accidentally break), but if you have prescription medications to get rid of, there may be FDA regulations regarding how you dispose of your medication.

How to throw out expired medicineA popular myth is that flushing medicines down the toilet is the best way to dispose of them. This is not always true. There are some medications that the FDA has determined should be flushed down the toilet, due to the danger they could cause if someone other than the prescribed individual were to take them. The list of medications that are to be disposed of by flushing can be found here at the bottom of the page. This list is updated as needed and should be checked whenever you think you have a controlled medication to dispose of.

Due to concerns that the environment could be damaged if everyone starts to flush their medications down the toilet, unless your medicine is on the FDA's list, everything else should be thrown out in the trash, but with the following precautions:

First, peel off the label and destroy it. Although the chances of someone going through your trash and stealing your identity through a prescription label are probably not high, it's better to be safe than sorry!

Next, find a plastic bag and place the pills you are disposing of into it. If the trashcan liner does break, this will ensure that the pills don't fall out someplace where someone or some pet could accidentally eat them.

Now find something gross to put in the bag so that even if the bag was found, the contents are unappetizing enough that no one will want to take one. Good things to put into the bag are: used kitty litter, coffee grounds and rotten food (like that mystery item in the fridge that is growing a nice layer of mold).

If you have a small child, dirty diapers are the perfect place to dispose of old pills. Just drop them into the diaper, roll it up and stick them in a plastic bag as usual before dropping it into the trashcan.

Finally, put the empty medicine containers into the recycling bin.

If you had to get rid of a lot of over-the-counter stuff, don't forget to buy more when you next go shopping or you could find yourself making an emergency trip to the pharmacy the next time someone in the house gets a bad headache or runny nose!