Ispirare Coffee: Local and Inspirational

*articles may contain affiliate links* I received product from Ispirare Coffee in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

When we first moved to Kittanning, I wasn’t necessarily a coffee snob; however, after experiencing gourmet beans brewed in small batches at my work, I quickly realized just how limiting my local coffee shops where. We have one “big name” coffee shop, some gas stations, and of course local diners. But nothing gourmet like I have been spoiled with.

Thankfully, that’s changing because of local bean roasters like Ispirare Coffee. They get it, people deserve good coffee that inspires but isn’t ridiculously priced or hard to find.

Kittanning Coffee

Their story includes this gem:

As a company we want to be as inspirational as our coffees. We both grew up in economically depressed Western Pennsylvanian towns, and believe that success is not measured by what you get, by what you give. We’re committed to using our resources to help create inspirational moments in the communities we operate.

That’s pretty much my life goal – to give and inspire. Love this thought! Even better, their Inspire coffee blend has a hint of chocolate. Between this alignment of values and one of my favorite things, I was eager to give it a try.

The Inspire blend takes beans from Sumatra and Peru to create a savory, smooth drink. I could taste the chocolate, but also got a hint of acidity. This was a good thing, it made for a great finish and unique flavor. The chocolate doesn’t overwhelm – if you aren’t as used to cacao and are more the milk chocolate fan, you might sip past this taste. Sip it slowly, mindfully, and then you’ll get it. This coffee is to inspire, not to gulp!

I recommend getting the whole beans and brewing at home. If you do that, you’re going to need to get yourself an automatic grinder. This one from Cuisinart is what I recommend (and what we use at the office). 

automatic grinderIf you are in the Kittanning area, you can get freshly brewed cups at KICK and A Mano Pasta Shop or pick up your own pack of these beans at Dizzy Lizzies. If you live in Pittsburgh and want to give this a try, I suggest coming up for a visit; however, you can also get beans at Fort Pitt Coffee or a fresh cup at Mercurio’s.

For more information on where to buy, check out their coffee info page. Keep up with Ispirare Coffee on Instagram and Facebook, too!

Ispirare currently has two blends – Inspire (reviewed above) and Italian (described as “bright, juicy, crisp”). Which one piques your interest? 

Ispirare Coffee

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La Dimora degli Angeli

This post is brought to you by La Dimora degli Angeli. All opinions are 100% my own. Do you have a travel bucket list? Up until I found out about how easy it is to get gluten free foods in Italy, I thought I didn’t really have a telling reason to add it to mine. Pair that fact with finding out about this adorably peaceful B&B, La Dimora degli Angeli, and Italy is now on my list!

La Dimora degli Angeli

Whether you are traveling for a romantic getaway or a girls’ weekend, I think that a stay in Italy should be on everyone’s bucket list. There is so much to take in, and not just the religion, history, food, and wine. Why not take it in while staying in style by being spoiled at a bed and breakfast? Here’s one I found that intrigued me:

La Dimora degli Angeli

Located in the heart of Florence, Italy with direct views of the Florence Cathedral and Brunelleschi’s dome, La Dimora degli Angeli offers guests comfort and class. As I was browsing their website, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the charm.

There are twelve rooms in this bed and breakfast, each with unique charm and features. Each is intricately yet modernly decorated, paired with comforts of home like private bathrooms, air conditioning, free WiFi, and flat screen television. There are single, double, and triple rooms, all looking like they would best suit 1-2 adults. (One of the single rooms is only 108 square feet – I’ve stayed in a room that size and told my husband I was so glad he wasn’t there with me because I am claustrophobic!) When you stay at La Dimora degli Angeli, you get your room, 24-hour access to a tea room, and an enchanting experience!

Travel Bucket List

If you don’t have a dream to work toward, what are you working for? I’m one who is motivated by working toward goals. Once we pay off our debt and get money put away for the kids’ college, we’ll be living like no one else – checking things off our bucket list! Small rewards for living life with intensity, I say. What is on YOUR travel bucket list?

#DimoraDegliAngeli To find out more, check out their website: http://www.dimoredeicherubini.it/la-dimora-degli-angeli-florence/

Buzzoole

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Brick Loot

*articles may contain affiliate links* This post is brought to you by Brick Loot, a monthly subscription box for ages 6-99.

Remember a few months ago we went to Brick Fest? At the time, I had no idea how much the Bigs loved their bricks. Good thing we found out about Brick Loot! Arianna and Evan got to check out August’s box (late on our part because, well, life). Here’s what they have to say:

Arianna: It was good! We really liked the bricks and emoji in the box!

Evan: It was really fun and I liked what I got. I really like that we could get it every month if we wanted to!

But even better, check out their thoughts as they unboxed the August Brick Loot box:

Well then. Guess we have some subscribing to do?!?! The August box brought us these items:

Here are the details on this box, invented by a 9-year-old!

This surprise box is delivered monthly to customers of all ages (40% of our subscribers are adults) and is filled to the brim with the latest and greatest brick sets and accessories, including the fan favorite, LEGO. The contents include custom LEGO kits, LEGO Minifigures, accessories, lights, Brick Loot exclusives and more. The best part of the box is it keeps kids creative and engaged. You can not find these products at your local toy store making them very collectable. The box subscription starts as low as $24.99 a month and varies depending on your subscription selection.

Each box has a theme, with is pretty neat. August was Emojis and September will be Titanic. Wonder what is in store for future months?

You can sign up to subscribe to Brick Loot for as little as $24.95 + shipping per month. (Check out the options here.)

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Magic Sketch by Boogie Board

*articles may contain affiliate links* Have a long car trip coming up? The Magic Sketch by Boogie Board might just be the perfect toy to accompany your kids. We’re talking drawing, sketching, doodling, math, and more. My creative kiddos are all about their newest toy!

magic sketch

Your ‘lil ones can draw until their heart is content, then with the touch of a button erase the crystal screen! The features are sheer magic – I’ve tried to figure out how it works and I just have to accept that it’s magic!

The kit we checked out had different tools for writing, stamps, and games to slide behind the clear screen. How about we let Arianna explain what she loves about the Magic Sketch by Boogie Board?

As a mom of creative kids, the Magic Sketch is a win in my book. The pen that clips and the button that erases are my favorite features. Arianna’s loving the see-through screen and many different tools she can use on it. What we didn’t realize when we did the video is that the screen is also water resistant!

Another perk of the Magic Sketch’s transparent screen is that you can slide a coloring book page under it and trace over and over. I’ll let you decide if Arianna did a trace or freestyle drawing here:

This is a must-have toy (listed on Amazon’s Top 100 Toys currently), so head over to Amazon and get your kiddos one before they sell out this holiday season! (MSRP is $29.99 | Ages 3+) What are your favorite features of the Magic Sketch? 

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You can find out more about this toy on their website. Find Magic Sketch on Facebook and Twitter, too!

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Ava Reads a Bedtime Story

Tonight, Ava read us a bedtime story. After a difficult week with her being clingy, a little sick, and losing her favorite cup, this sure was a good way to end it. Enjoy her “reading” of one of her favorite stories.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Catching a Black Racer

Earlier this summer we had an unexpected visitor in our backyard. I walked by the back door one morning and glanced out at the frog pond. I noticed a strange shadow in the corner beside the pond and almost dismissed it, until it moved. That was when I realized that the shadow was actually a decent sized snake! The Black Racer blended perfectly into the silhouette of trees cast by the morning sun.

This was my first time actually getting up close with a black racer, I’ve only ever seen them slithering off a trail. They are extremely quick and elusive so of course I had to try and catch it.

My adrenaline was pumping because I was so excited to catch a new species of snake so it took me longer than usual to grab it. After getting bitten, I picked it up and showed it to the kids before we relocated it into the woods behind our house.

Please, if you see a snake and aren’t sure what type it is, just leave it alone if possible. They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Until next time, happy herping ya’ll!

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Charity Auctions Today

*articles may contain affiliate links* Recently I came across Charity Auctions Today, an online site to help organizations like schools, churches, and teams raise money for causes with the help of the internet. As a mom who is involved in a number of organizations that raise money for their cause, I was intrigued!

The Charity Auctions Today site first caught my eye when I was browsing Facebook and saw someone had shared an auction for concert tickets to see John Mayer at Darien Lake. (I totally am intrigued by the social algorithms and how they pulled that together – my guess is I was listening to some “Waiting on the World to Change” on Spotify and had been looking into our plans for our Darien Lake fall trip within the same day?)

Anyways, I headed over to Charity Auctions Today to see what this was all about (even though I knew bidding over $1000 for a concert was way out of my dreams, I wanted to see what the site offered). Here’s what I found out!

Charity Auctions Today

Charity Auctions Today

Source: Charity Auctions Today

This site provides organizations (both for and non-profit) with a means to run online auctions. There are three plans for giving this a try – including a free option! Organizations then pay a small percent of the funds raised, but they don’t have to worry about the monitoring of a silent auction or limitations of only offering items to the people at their event. (When I go to or work an event with raffles or auctions, I’m always sharing photos to my family and friends that couldn’t make it so they can participate if they want to – this site eliminates the need for that!)

For example, check out this jersey that SportsWorld Chicago is auctioning off to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief through JJ Watts You Caring Charity:

Hurricane Harvey Cubs Jersey

Source: Charity Auctions Today

My blood might bleed black and gold, but I have a soft spot for items like this – look at the name and number and try not to shed a ‘lil tear for our friends in Texas! Pretty cool option (and if you’d like to bid on this one, click here).

I’ve been intrigued by auctions since I was a teen – my parents would go to estate auctions to try to keep our furniture and appliance costs low as college approached. But even more so, I’m all about innovative ways to raise money for causes, and this is a great solution for that.

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If you or your organization would like to hear more about Charity Auctions Today, check out their website, Facebook, or Twitter!

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What ways do you raise money for the organizations that you support? 

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Wildlife Wednesday: The Metamorphosis of a Frog

If you have ever raised tadpoles and observed their incredible metamorphosis, then you know just how rewarding it can be. Here is a look at some of the different stages of life from our frog pond this summer.

Our green frogs began to develop quickly and before long, there were many tadpoles with 2 legs and some with 4.

The Wood frogs began to grow legs and climb onto the makeshift lily pads. I had to keep an eye on them and make sure I removed them from the pond once they matured because the are not aquatic and could drown if they were unable to climb out.

We had a mix of green frog, wood frog, and spring peeper tadpoles. The wood frog and spring peeper tadpoles looked very similar so it was always a surprise to see which developed. Spring Peepers are so cool!

The green frog’s transformation seemed more dramatic because of their sheer size. They have very long tails as tadpoles, and once they develop legs, the tail is still as long as the frog’s body.

I didn’t have to worry about the kids getting bored, Evan and Ari would sit and watch them for hours. If I ever lost track of Evan throughout the course of the day, all I had to do was peek out on the back patio. That boy loves frogs as much as I do!

As the frogs grew, they spent more and more time out of the water. Every day when we walked outside, we were greeted by the excited splashes as they dashed for safety under the weeds. Eventually they got used to our comings and goings and we were able to better observe them.

Before long we had full fledged frogs hopping about. When it rained they would jump out in search of a new home. The newts were the first to go. It was bittersweet but I never intended on making them stay in a sandbox. That is why I never covered it, the whole idea is to make a habitat that critters want to live in. Unfortunately, until I can build a legitimate pond with a pump system, I can’t expect them to stick around.

By the end of summer, the pond was overrun by frogs. I actually noticed a considerable decrease in bugs on our patio, which was awesome. The frogs are all gone now, but the memories and education they provided will remain.

Have you ever kept tadpoles? If so, please share your experience with us in the comments! Until next time, happy herping, ya’ll!

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Cars with Space for Three Car Seats: What Do You Do?

*articles may contain affiliate links* This post about searching for cars with space for three car seats is brought to us today through US Family Guide and cars.com. 

When we found out we were having twins, it was clear that a family of six wasn’t going to fit in our Avenger. We tried for a few months, but it didn’t work out like we thought (“we’ll never have to have all four in the “car” and can use the truck instead”, ha). Our search began for cars with space for three car seats.

cars with space for three car seats

source: Cars.com

This search is pretty difficult – so much so that Jennifer Newman of cars.com calls it “the automotive holy grail: a car that’s not a minivan and can fit three child-safety seats across the backseat”. That is true indeed!

The obvious was that a van was going to work, especially because we have four kids. But even now that we’re looking for a second “runner” vehicle, I’m pleasantly surprised that there are sedan options, too! I found this super helpful article from Cars.com that listed the results of their tests of cars with space for three car seats and LOVED to see five sedans made the list.

We’re at the stage where Evan needs a booster and the twins are in forward-facing seats, so the space is still a bit tight. We might not end up with a vehicle that actually fits three across the back (especially because Arianna still needs to be in the back, too), but at least we know our options!

car search

When you are looking for a new car, it definitely is a good idea to do your research. The dealer we recently visited encouraged us to check the car seats on a test drive, too. We’ll definitely do that as we move forward in our car buying process!

If you’re looking for how other cars passed the car seat tests and you aren’t a big family, Cars.com has information on that, too! Check out the results of car seats in several different vehicles here.

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The Search for a New Car

Sponsored Post – all opinions are 100% my own. And so it begins. The search for a new car. You buckle yourself in for a long and stressful process, right? You start to visit local dealerships and used car lots. Or maybe you do your browsing online. Whatever way you handle a search for a new (or used) vehicle, I’m guessing research is involved.

Car shopping is definitely worth the time it takes to do your research. I’ve purchased six cars in my life and in the (near-ish) future we’ll be in search of another. Every time, I’ve looked online to be sure I knew as much going into it as I could. Cars.com is a great place to find a vast amount of information to guide your car search.

Source: Cars.com

The Search for a New Car

Here’s what I consider the must-knows when you search for a new car:

  • Budget: This is first and foremost. Don’t go searching for something out of your range. Be honest with your search and with your car salesman.
  • Size of Vehicle: If you’re a growing family, that 2-seater is going to have to go!
  • Make and Model: Do you have something you’re committed to, or a dream car?
  • MPG (miles per gallon): As someone that commutes, this is key! You don’t want a gas hog.
  • Vehicle History: If you’re looking at used vehicles, how often was it serviced (you can get a report on this)?
  • Reviews: What do others who have owned a vehicle like this had to say about it?

When you’ve done your research, it’s time to hit the road and do some test driving. Yes, this means heading over to a dealer. You want to show them that you know something about what you’re there for – be clear and firm with your desires. You might have your heart set on a car you saw online and it could be gone by the time you get to the lot. Be prepared for this, too!

Source: Cars.com

Make it Pay Off

If you have done the research, you’ll find what’s right for you. The process of buying a car doesn’t have to be a negative life event. Enjoy browsing the options, take your time, and find the just right vehicle. In the end, you’ll be happy with a deal that’s the best for you and your family!

What tips would you add?

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