If you are a frequent traveler like I am and renting cars everywhere you go, you are probably heading to places that have toll roads, and if your extended family lives in a state that has tolls galore, be sure to look into toll transponders and buy one. California has a monthly fee – I used to travel there a lot and got one, but the $2.00 a month minimum charge is a turn off, if you are traveling infrequently.
Regarding transponders, I can speak for Colorado, California, and Florida. If you go more than once a year to a place that has toll roads, and there are no fees (Colorado and Florida have no minimums or fees), it’s wise to get a transponder or look into the rules for the toll roads where you go. Here is what I discovered:
For the past few years we travel to and from central Florida a lot and each time e went, the rental care companies got super rich off of us- even if we used the toll roads for 2 out of our 5 day rental, we got charged $3.95 per day no matter what IF we used even one toll road – this is maxed at like $20.00 generally but that adds up. Plus you pay all your tolls too! So, at $20 per trip (convenience charge), it is better to just buy your own transponder at Walgreens, Turnpike Service Centers, or Publix stores. You reload them, add your rental vehicles as you rent them, and you can also share the transponder among family members and friends. So, it can go in any vehicle in the state. In Florida and Colorado, there are no monthly minimums or service charges, making the transponder a must have! And, in Colorado, your toll rates are discounted if you have the E-470 pass, so it is certainly worth having, just get the one that you can move from vehicle to vehicle, unless you live there, of course.
We went rafting as a family for the first time. The last time my husband and I went rafting was when we were still engaged to be married, so this was truly a treat. Wilderness Aware (WA) is a great company, located in Buena Vista, Colorado., and they do more than just white water rafting. WA offers full-day and half-day rafting trips, a dinner float (this one is so cool), multi-day trips, including camping or B&B stays with rafting included. You can also book zipline tours, horseback riding, and bike trips through WA. Their website is great, easy to use, and offer discounts when you book on-line.
WA facilities are great! The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful. Once you arrive on-site, you can change there, buy water, and apply sunscreen (they provide this). If you do a full day rafting trip, breakfast is provided on-site too! You meet your guide and get your gear, and then receive a safety demonstration. We had Isaiah as our guide and he really hit it off with our kiddos. He even let my eldest row with him. She loved it!
It was their first time, and the half day lower browns canyon (Class I and II rapids) really made them feel comfortable. They are actually ready for Class III and IV now. But mom and dad may not be, just yet. The dinner float was assembling when we returned to Buena Vista, and it looks so interesting – You float down, and eat at a grill, and then return back. The views are breathtaking on the raft, and Colorado is so scenic, so I can imagine how much more amazing it would be to have a nice dinner and a glass wine along the Arkansas river while admiring the view. We had fun rafting as a family, and I know we will return next summer, if not sooner, to take in some more of the fun. We want to try zip lining as well, and Wilderness Aware is a great company to book trips through. They are organized, and made us all feel special. They sent us information before the trip and kept us well-informed on construction in the area, best route to take, and what to leave behind in the car. All in all, our first rafting trip as a family was a huge success, and we are looking forward to a return trip very soon – thanks Wilderness Aware for an amazing whitewater rafting trip.
Disclaimer:I was compensated with a free family half-day Lower Browns Canyon raft trip in exchange for promotion and this post. The review is honest, and the opinions expressed here in are my own.
My husband and I tried Dream Dinners, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, this weekend, and what a treat! Their March introductory offer ($74.95 value) let us pick six 3-serving meals from an expansive menu. Then, we made an appointment to go into the kitchen and assemble all six meals. The kitchen is very organized, clean, and all the ingredients are chopped, measured and ready for you to build and take home, freeze or eat right away. You go from station to station to assemble your meals. The proprietary recipe cards at each station guide you through the process and it’s quite simple to assemble.
Travis helped us at the Wheat Ridge location. He is such a delight to work with and learn from. You use bags or containers, and all items come with a step by step recipe card so when you get home and choose a meal, you are ready to go! No chopping, no buying of ingredients, no extensive prep time. You follow very simple directions to heat up/top or cook the food, and you’re serving up dinner in no time! This is perfect for family meals or for just two. The introductory offer is definitely worth a shot, and I encourage you to set up your appointment on line or call them. The staff is super friendly and helpful and on-site with you the entire time. You are offered a drink of coffee, tea, or other beverages, and we got to sample a scone 1030 am on a Saturday – it was delish! My husband was able to sample chicken risotto which is being offered on their April menu and loved it!
The kitchen has clean bowls, measuring bowls, and utencils throughout your preparation journey, and the instructions are so simple to follow, even color-coded. It’s super easy – we were in and out in an hour and that was including someone teaching us, and speaking with us about the offers. I also picked up sides from their sides and dessert freezer case, and we enjoyed potato pancakes and a dip for lunch. Yum! Tonight, my husband and kiddos are having cornflake crusted chicken tenders and a side of mashed potatoes (also from Dream Dinners), while I enjoy Risotto (a side dish). The vegetarian choices are slim to none here, but Travis told us that if you choose to leave out the protein on a 3-serving meal, you save 50% on that dish, which is a great deal.
Then, you can pick the protein of choice at home and assemble the meal at home, and still save time and money. For example, April’s menu includes a Creamy Chicken Risotto, and this item can be assembled without the protein, or the risotto can be made without the chicken or chicken packaged separately from the Risotto. At home, it can be made vegetarian for both a vegetarian and meat-eater to enjoy. My favorite was the side dishes because those for me are things the kids eat like mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, fries and garlic bread sticks. They complement all the meals you prepare at Dream Dinners, or can complement a dish you make at home. My husband prepared the cornflake crusted chicken tenders tonight and the house smells lovely! He loved the meal and said the flavors were perfect.
The only cons for me of this place was menu selection for a vegetarian, but if you eat meat and your family is not picky, this place is for you! Also, even if you are cooking for just two or three, I think the portions are perfect for one night and a left over for lunch the next day. With 3-servings, it goes a long way in our house. The minimum order after the introductory offer(six 3-serving meals) is twelve 3-serving meals, so it may best to split with a good friend if you are interested and cannot possibly maintain 3-4 meals a week on this. Partnering up with friends is a good idea. You can skip a month if you want or are out of town, and there is no contract or obligation. The best thing is about how long they will keep because they are packaged for freezing so you can thaw or take out when you are ready for them. All the instructions are different so follow the cards’ instructions carefully. Also, like Steve points out in the comments, this place is kid-friendly and if kids are into cooking, or mature enough to be involved in the kitchen, this place is perfect to bring him or her along to help you portion out the recipe, assemble the meal and add the ingredients of their choice. Who knows? If they take part in the assembly, they may actually eat it? What a concept!
One of the things I learned about Dream Dinners is that they do school fundraisers and give a size-able donation per family – each attendee pays $34.99 for THREE 3-serving meals of their choice and $10 of this goes to the school – that is 30% back of the school! What a great idea and you get healthy, fresh meals that the family can get 6 meals or more out of – what a deal!
My husband and I enjoyed our dream dinners experience and I would highly recommend you try the introductory offer. After that, you can figure out how to sign up because for us, twelve 3-serving meals is a lot considering how differently we all eat in our family, but if we can split it with a family, or two, I think it could work out. Also, make some room in your freezer because you are gonna need it. Dream Dinners has the four Colorado locations to choose from so you can go an try out their introductory offer. Also, if you are not in Colorado and you’d like to go in and try your Dream Dinners, you can see if there is one near you. Happy cooking and eating!
Giveaway: To enter to win, please comment below with what you’d do with one free 3-serving meal from Dream Dinners? Make sure you include your name and email when you comment- only I see your email. For this event, you can bring up to 9 friends (10 total including you) to build a meal and learn more about Dream Dinners while you enjoy provided appetizers, non-alcoholic drinks, and the opportunity to catch up with friends or colleagues. Also, for an additional $24.95 (normally $50 value), you can take three additional 3-serving meals home with you, ready to thaw and/or cook. The night out is a great deal and worth over $130 (depending on dish) and it’s yours for free. Just sign up and I randomly choose a winner using a plug in on wordpress. Finally, I hope you will invite me along as one of your party of 10. 🙂 You will be notified by3/19/2016 if you win and winner posted here. Comments/entries close at 8pm MDT 3/19/2016. *Note: Contest only applies to Wheat Ridge, Colorado location
NOTE: We have a winner! Congrats, Heather – I will connect you with Dream Dinners & write you separately.
Required Disclosure: I was offered a free introductory offer from Dream Dinners in exchange for a honest review. The giveaway is also part of the compensation for readers who enter to win. The opinion expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
*warning: some of the images appear strange or rotated using Chrome. Sorry about that. It is a Chrome issue.
We visited the Denver Art Museum’s Samurai Exhibit today, on opening day, and it was a treat! The Art Museum is iconic in Denver, and showcases some of the most amazing works of art you will see. Do not miss this special, limited engagement exhibit while it is in town. Now through June 5, DAM is featuring the Samurai Exhibit.
The Exhibit: The exhibition Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection tells the iconic story of Japanese samurai through 140 objects from one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of samurai armor and accoutrements in the world.
Surrounded by murals and war regalia, visitors will be immersed in the life, culture, and pageantry of samurai in the 1100s through the 1800s. Exquisitely decorated suits of armor, helmets, weapons, horse trappings, and additional battle gear will be on display, demonstrating masterful craftsmanship.Samurai will highlight the artistic inspiration for these elaborate suits of armor.
Once you exit through the gift shop, the kids receive a sticker to make a seal. Cross over 14th using the bridge (level 2) where you will arrive at the North Wing and the Samurai-themed kids activity area called the “Just for Fun Family Center.” Parents can relax here and the kids can dress up as Samurai, make hats with their family crest/seal, and practice building sculptures with soft, large, hand-sculpted wooden rocks made by Sam Mobley. In this area, kids can play games, draw, and cut loose. The mural backdrop by artist Jena Siedler transforms you to Japan while you relax and play. We had a blast today at the Denver Art Museum!
Logistics & Information: The exhibit is family-friendly, but I recommend kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this, and not so much the younger kids. The museum provides you an audio guide at the entrance, and there is a separate number series for families versus adults to hear. For the family guide, a “tengu” speaks to you about the pieces and trains you and the kids how to be a Samurai. In folklore, the Tengu is a half bird, half man, and you meet him at the end of your audio tour. The experience was fun for my kids, and they stayed engaged throughout the exhibit. It is quite an extensive collection, and we were very impressed with how well it was displayed, explained, and laid out. The exhibit is handicap accessible, and easy to push wheelchairs and strollers throughout the museum.
Denver Art Museum does a great job with crowd control by doing timed entry for the special exhibit. This ensures everyone enjoys the exhibit without being trampled, or overcrowded. I wish other museums in the area would learn from this and follow suit. It is so pleasant to walk around, read placards and enjoy the exhibit, rather than being shoved and so crowded-in that you cannot see a thing. I absolutely love the Denver Art Museum for this reason, and this exhibit and the entire museum is enjoyable as a result.
You may buy your tickets on site, or online (by time), and it is not included with the general admission, so plan accordingly. Members get a special rate, and there are senior, military and other discounts available. Youth under age 18 are FREE at the Denver Art Museum but there is a $5 fee for them for this exhibit. Photography is permitted in this area, but no FLASH photography is permitted. The audio guides are well worth it!
The Museum is located near Civic Center Park, and there is ample garage open, but on Sundays, street parking is free. Check the events calendar. You can also park at the post office/federal building for $5, and walk a few blocks. There are plenty of private paid lots as well.
Required Disclosure: My family and I attended the Denver Art Museum’s Samurai Exhibit for free in exchange for an honest review and posting information about this special exhibit. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Don’t miss this Groupon Deal (active now) for The Museum of Art in Denver or click below, and search for other great deals:
Once you click here, search for Denver Museum of Art. There is an amazing membership deal right now, you can try clicking here too.
If you’d like two free tickets to the Colorado Garden & Home Show, post your name (first name) in the comments below, and I will pick a winner tomorrow evening. The Colorado Garden and Home Show is an amazing show case of vendors across the front range and the vendors are offering special discounts to attendees. Lots of swag, and lots to explore. The show started Saturday, Feb 13, and goes through the 21st, but beat the crowds and attend on a weekday. You can either park on the street around the Convention Center (2-hr limit) or at the Convention Center itself, and explore as long as you wish. I am going back later this week to get a few deals I wanted to do research on first. Don’t miss this show, and if you want free tickets, comment below for your chance to win. Kids are free, so only adults need tickets.
Disclaimer: In exchange for free tickets to giveaway here, I was compensated with free attendance for two adults.