Affordable food delivery from GILT

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In the old days, you used to have to have to have an “in” with your local butcher to get deals on the best cuts of beef or the tastiest pork ribs, or you had to go to a seafood purveyor to get the best prices on hard-shell crabs and lobsters, but thanks to GILT City these foods are available at your fingertips and at discount prices that will make your mouth water.

GILT City is a collection of deals for services, events and experiences available in cities across the country. GILT negotiates exclusive offers that their members can access each week. The deals are usually for a limited time, and inventory is limited, so savvy GILT users check the website and the weekly GILT email newsletter for the latest deals to get the best selection as soon as the sales go live.

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While many of the services are specific to a city, GILT also has national offers, such as many food delivery deals. I was able to feast for a month with three offers for premium food products which cost me a fraction of the regular price.

From Pig of the Month, GILT offers deals on all-natural ribs, pulled pork, brisket and other gourmet meats delivered to the customer’s door. Deals include the Best of BBQ package for only $65 which includes two racks of Memphis-style baby back ribs, one pound of pulled pork, one pound of pulled chicken, and one bottle of Love Me Tender Memphis barbecue sauce. Other GILT offers include a larger portion of the meats in package called the Big Barbecue Fiesta for $165, or members can get a 50% credit on purchases of $100 and $60. The meats are free of hormones and antibiotics and nitrates, and you can also load up on sauces like cattle King Texas Brisket and Key West Citrus Grilling to slather on to meats at home.

Through GILT’s exclusive offer for Butcher Box, for $89 I got a monthly subscription, which is normally $129. GILT also offers a Steak and Chops Box for $129 or a Beef and Pork Box for $99. I chose their fabulous tasting 100% grass-fed hormone-free and antibiotic-free beef.  Other options included organic chicken and heritage breed pork. Each box comes with 7 to 10 pounds of meat, which is enough for at least 20 individual meals at a 5- to 8-ounce portion size and averages less than $6.50 per meal. After you place an order, it’s delivered free in 2 to 5 days.

While I am close to Maryland and have access to the state’s famed blue crabs within an hour’s drive, for those who are not so lucky, GILT CITY offers a number of deals for crabs, as well as lobster, through Harbour House Crabs, a family owned seafood company. For instance, they offer 30 Maryland blue crabs for $109, which is a half bushel. The crabs are delivered straight to your door seasoned, steamed to order and shipped the same day for freshness. Also through GILT they also offer Surf and Turf or two for $59 and Dinner for Two for $79, and my favorite, eight Maine lobster tails for $79.

The cost savings on these deals is one major part of the appeal, but for me, the convenience of having these foods delivered to my door is a huge draw. Not only are the products superior from what I could get at the local market, I save time by ordering online and getting them shipped direct.

Now if GILT could only make a deal with our local farmers markets for produce for my side dishes, then I would never have to leave home again.

When pain rules your day, Oska to the rescue

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As someone who has suffered from back and neck pain for many years, mostly as a result of a car accident and also years of abuse to my body from competitive gymnastics and hard-core physical training, I have sought out remedies for relief in every direction. I have just learned about Oska, which is getting incredible results with people with all types of pain management issues.

The device resembles on oversized hi-tech computer mouse with a glowing neon light.  It is turned on with a push of a button for a 30-minute cycle, and it can be placed on the body with an ACE-bandage style belt that comes with it, or it can be placed under a pillow or close by the body.

Oska employs Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF), a technique that uses direct magnetic fields to reduce inflammation in the body and increase blood circulation to reduce pain, heal bones and improve overall body function.  For more than 60 years, big governmental entities like NASA and sporting organizations such as the NBA and NFL have been using this type of therapy for decades. Only now is it cost effective and convenient for the average consumer.

For many of us who suffer from chronic pain and have tried TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), physical therapy, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, accupunture, massage and many other modalities to get relief, Oska holds the promise of painless, drug-free and side-effect-free liberation from our pain.

One of the inspiring success stories of Oska is a woman named Shelby Short, the wife of a current Camp Pendleton Sargent, who has suffered from excruciating scoliosis since she was 16. In fact, two surgeries in her young adult life left her vertebra C4 – L4 completely fused. Pumped full of pain medications daily, Shelby and her husband’s lives have been nearly entirely ruled by her condition, leaving her extremely limited in what she can do every day.

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This all changed when she was recently introduced to Oska. After using the product every day for nearly three weeks, Shelby is off nearly all of her pain medications and has regained her life.

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For people like Shelby and myself, finding an alternative to medications that have harmful side effects and impact our ability to function in other areas of our lives is a Godsend.  With so many people suffering from opioid addiction due to pain issues, Oska could be a life-altering way to manage pain and live a better life, for those who experience debilitating pain and those who love them.

The exciting testimonials from Oska users is heartening, and the fact that the company offers the device with a money-back guarantee shows their sincerity of helping people. If it does not help your pain, then you may return it for a full refund. For those who are seeking an alternative to medications and for whom traditional treatments have failed, Oska may be the answer to eliminating or reducing pain for a better quality of life.

Cox Farms: when simple is best

I could give you a long list of Virginia farms that host fall festivals and pumpkin patches, but instead I will save time by simply listing the best one, Cox Farms.

The Centreville, Virginia, farm has hosted one of the area’s biggest and arguably the best fall festivals which has become a local tradition for generations of local families. While the physical farm has moved from its original spot near Herndon, Virginia, where it started with 40 acres in 1972, the current location of 116 acres on Braddock Road., purchased in 1979, is the current home to the famed fall festival, which runs from the end of September until after Halloween.

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For older kids and teens, the Fields of Fear is the main attraction, a nighttime haunt event coined Corn Nightmare, in which over 20 acres of corn fields feature frightening displays and costumed characters jumping out at visitors, and there’s plenty of chainsaws, of course.

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After dark, the fun and bumpy hayride that usually takes riders through a storybook land of characters and bounces them through mud puddles and streams, becomes the Darkside Hayride in which riders are accosted by a host of villainous predators.

While Cox Farms has upgraded their production values each year, their rides and attractions are a far cry from Disney World, and that’s a good thing. The thing I love about Cox Farms is it’s homegrown, homemade feeling.

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From the not-so-perfect renderings of fairytale characters to the obvious latex masks on the friendly aliens who threaten to adduct visitors on the hayride, Cox Farms makes their fall festival feel down home and approachable.

All over the farm, there are activities to do that actually involve kids playing and using their imagination. Expected at at farm, there are rope swings where kids can launch into bales of hay, and there are tunnels and mazes of hay to play in, and there are a number of slides, on which kids race each other down the hill sitting on burlap sacks. There are also educational stations, where kids open doors and wooden panels to get the answers to questions about agriculture and farm animals, such as how fast can a chicken run (answer: 9 mph).

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Also down on the farm, kids can also get up close and personal with pigs and cows and other livestock, and they can feed goats with ice cream cones filled with alfalfa sprouts.

There is plenty to do for everyone of all ages at the farm, and there’s many food options, from typical burgers and fries fare to some of the best kettle corn I’ve ever had; and there’s also free apple cider from barrels with a spout, but watch out for yellow jackets that also like the sweet stuff.

While mostly the farm is DIY fun, the red-aproned staff around Cox Farms are always eager to help out, and the atmosphere is casual and friendly.

Many families come back year after year, often documenting their children’s growth with a photo of the kids standing beside a measuring stick by the toddler play area. Other souvenirs are available at the quaint market shop which visitors pass through as they exit.
As guests leave the fall Festival, each gets to choose their own small pumpkin, which is just pumpkin spice to top off a great day on the farm.

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Hacks for the camping newbie

 

As a parent who has not been outdoor camping since I was a Girl Scout decades ago, the experience was all-new to me when I enlisted to accompany 10 boys on a Cub Scout overnight in the Shenandoah National Park this fall. My crash course in roughing it in the woods taught me these hacks that might help other camping rookies on their adventures.

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Arrive early

Reserve well in advance for those campsites that allow you to book online or by phone; but for those that operate on a first-come-first-booked basis, arrive early. Those in the know camp out at the gates hours before opening to get the best spots.  If you are with a large number of people, there are often a limited number of group sites, and these are usually most in demand, so get there extra early if your posse wants to pitch tents close together.

First things first

Set up as soon as you land at your campsite.  It might be tempting to explore or relax after your drive to arrive, but it’s easier to assemble a tent while you still have plenty of energy and daylight, and the warmth of sunshine.  If anything is amiss, you have time before nightfall to deal with it.

It’s in the bag

Snoozing under the stars can be an all-nighter of tossing and turning or a cozy crash until morning, depending on your sleeping bag. Invest in a sleeping bag suited for the weather and your sleep preferences.  I got a good night’s sleep in the Slumberjack Sojourn 20° Sleeping Bag (regular length $179), a warm mummy bag that has an “arms out” feature so you can free your arms to manage tasks without getting out of your bag. It also features a specially treated down filling that stays drier and loftier than common down or synthetic fillers, and the bag is constructed with a water resistant insulation technology and waterproof foot and hood panels in case of wet weather. If temperatures rise, you can vent the bag with dual zippers on the sides. The bag is lightweight so it is easy to carry on a hike, and it is rated for temperatures as low as 20 degrees — or you can opt for models designed for 0 degrees or 40 degrees.

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If the bag fits

Your sound sleep will not only depend on the comfort of your bag but that of your pint-sized sleeping companions. Kid-sized bags are best for children because little ones stay snug and secure in them. Slumberjack’s Go-N-Grow ($69.95), rated for 1 to 30 degrees, comes in boys and girls colors and features an expandable foot section that lengthens the bag by 10 inches, so they can use it through the years as they grow.  It has a snug hood and a two-layer construction to prevent cold spots and an anti-snag zipper for ease of in and out, and it has a built-in pocket in the hood to keep a pillow in place. Lastly, it weighs under three pounds, so they can carry their own bag just like a grown-up camper.

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Freshen Up

Keep your bag fresh and ready for the next night.  Especially if the weather is damp, spread out your bag somewhere sunny to dry completely.  Down bags are light and compressible which makes them ideal for backpacking. The only problem with down is it loses it’s warm in damp or wet conditions. For maximum performance and warmth, choose a bag with a water-resistant down such as DriDown.

After the lugging

After the camping trip, extend the life of your sleeping bag by taking it out of the stuff sack and airing it out and making sure it is completely dry. Then put it in a breathable storage sack, such as a mesh sack. Stuff sacks are great to keep bags compact for backpacking or packing in your car, but constant compression will remove a lot of the loft from your insulation, and loft is what keeps you warm at night.

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From the ground up

It’s a no brainer to choose a flat spot and clear the ground of rocks and sticks where you will set up your tent. Always use a ground tarp with your tent. It will help keep the interior of the tent drier and more comfortable while preventing sharp objects on the ground from punching holes in your tent’s floor. Minimalists may use a roll-up foam pad underneath their bag, but for newbies like myself, I recommend an inflatable pad or air mattress. If you are hiking in from a distance, a compact self-inflating pad will be easiest to tote.  If you park close by and won’t have to haul your gear too far, then an air mattress is the way to go. Make sure you have an air pump that you can plug into your car.  Airhead makes one affectionately called the “Air Pig” which attaches directly to your car batter, while the car is running, to blow up inflatables in minutes.

Pitch a fit

Arguably the most important gear of your camping trip will be your tent, so choose a size and model built to suit. Resist the urge to go big for the sake of it. Large tents may be impressive, but they will take more space and longer to set up, not to mention they are heavier to haul to the site. If there will be only two or three occupants, a two-person or three-person tent will be just right. The SJK Daybreak 3 Tent ($119) was the perfect and affordable tent for us. The simple pole configuration made for easy set up and allowed plenty of living space. It features a single, large mesh door for easy access to the outdoors, and the steep walls meant we didn’t have to sit hunched over inside. A full coverage fly keeps occupants and their gear dry and can be configured into a shaded porch area with trekking poles.  If you’re camping where it’s dry and there is no rain in the forecast, you can leave the fly off for better ventilation and star gazing.  See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmI0l-407bU

After camping in rainy conditions, dry your tent out completely before storing it for any extended period of time. This will keep mold and mildew from forming which can create unpleasant smells and shorten the lifespan of your tent.

Prevent uninvited guests

Campers must always take precautions to not attract bears and other wildlife by leaving food unattended, even for a few minutes; and of course, never feed wildlife. Clean up all traces of food before leaving your site or retiring for the night.  This means even syrup spilled on table tops or bits of popcorn by the campfire. Other scented items like chewing gum, toothpaste and even cosmetics are also bear bait, so keep these out of reach of bears, such as in a locked car.  Campsites often provide metal lockers with hidden handles, called bear boxes, or a bear pole with hangers and a pulley system so you can suspend items high above the ground where bears cannot climb.

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Breaking bugs

While not as dangerous as bears but also pesky are biting and stinging insects, so bring bug spray and reapply as directed. Beware of bug sprays that contain strong chemicals that can be dangerous. Organic bug repellents can be safer, such as Bugs be Gone (4.5 oz., $11.95), made with herb infused Witch Hazel. For another barrier of protection, wear insect repellent clothing, such as long-sleeve shirts and pants that are triple protection against bugs, sunburn and poison plants.

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A mosquito net is a must-have if you are sleeping under the stars; or if you are in a tent, keep your tent zipped up at all times, even when unoccupied, or else you may find spiders and their six-legged friends in your sleeping space. Just in case you do have a run-in with an unfriendly bug, make sure you have a first aid kit handy. Green Goo makes a line of first aid products using all-natural, therapeutic and nourishing ingredients in environmentally friendly tins and sticks for convenient packing and easy application.

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Woodland style

The scout motto is, “Always be prepared,” so suit up appropriately for the weather. Invest in camping apparel built for comfort and function and quick-drying fabrics, like Craghoppers outdoor clothing with insect shield, SolarShied UPF protection. Dress in layers that you can easily peel off. Look for features like pants that convert to shorts, pockets with a built-in sunglasses wipe, and ventilation panels.  Craghopper’s Nat Geo Response CompressLite jacket ($95) is the perfect outerwear for fickle fall weather. The jacket’s insulating hollow-fiber fill materials and outer ticking with ClimPlus technology make it warm yet breathable, and when not in use it is super light and compressible so that you can carry it in its handy stuff sack. It also features a grown-on hood, zippered pockets for all your goodies.

Treat yourself

The easiest and most convenient meals to prepare cooking outdoors are hotdogs, burgers, and beans, and of course s’mores are mandatory; but for a special treat that’s easy to prepare bring along a Dutch oven to whip up some yummy peach cobbler.  Dump six cans of peaches in the bowl with the syrup drained from three of the cans.  Layer on a box of yellow cake mix, then layer on pats of butter.  Place the Dutch oven in the embers for about 40 minutes, or less if the pot is already hot.  The results will be a steaming crumbly fruity mixture that can be served in a bowl for a tasty and satisfying treat around the campfire.

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The undwritten rules for online dating

online-datingThe lyrics to an old Dolly Parton song, Starting Over Again, express the heartache and sadness of a break up in midlife.

“Facing fifty years old
Making up a happy home
And this far down the road
You find yourself alone”

While it might seem daunting for a single parent, or anyone, to date at this age, their are others out there, like you, ready to start again. If you have been out of the dating scene a while, you will soon learn that the dating game has changed. You can still run into the love of your life at your kid’s school, church, the grocery store, or at a nightclub, but many middle age single people are turning to online dating to cast a wider net to capture a potential significant other.

According to Dr. Ayo Gathing, the co-author of The Modern Trophy Wife: How to Achieve Your Life Goals While Thriving at Home,if you want to dive into the sea of Internet dating, you need to learn the unwritten rules. Dr. Gathing offers these 10 Tips for Successfully Dating Online

 

  1. Make an actual commitment to take it seriously.  So what if your bestie begged you to do it or you only made a profile after your younger cousin’s wedding. You have now made the decision to give online dating a try, so don’t sabotage yourself by having a cynical view from the outset.  Give it a real chance and see what happens!
  2. Manage your expectations. Similar to offline dating, you cannot expect to meet your match on day one. You will likely interact with a number of individuals before meeting someone that you will click with.  So be patient and do not give up too soon.
  3. Be thoughtful in creating your online profile.  Ditch listing “I love movies” or “hanging out with friends” in your info section and get more real. Reveal your favorite restaurant or a secret hobby that your coworkers do not know about. Not only do these things make you stick out, but they are also a great conversation starter or date idea!
  4. Be mindful of the content on your social media pages.With the increasing number of dating sites being linked to social media pages, it is imperative that you are careful with what you divulge on social media. Be consistent in the persona you are looking to portray across dating and social media sites, and this includes your username. You never know who your admirers are acquainted with or what other dating sites they are frequenting.
  5. Scrap the checklist. We all have one. That list of the qualities we seek in our perfect mate.  But guess what?  This is real life, not a movie so no one will be perfect. If you are too stringent in your search criteria you may miss out on meeting an amazing individual just because they were an inch off or 5 miles outside of your radius. Stick to actual deal breakers when searching and listing preference.
  6. Only interact with people that you are actually interested in. It is fine to be respectful and let candidates down easy, but you have no obligation to carry on conversations or respond to individuals that you are not interested in. Your time is valuable, so do not waste it in order to entertain yourself or make someone feel better.
  7. Do not ignore red flags.People generally reveal their character in words and actions; however it is human nature to see the best in someone or hope for the best. Evaluate your candidates by present circumstances and how they are treating you, not by their potential.
  8. Make use of technology to feel out your connection.  Technology has finally caught up to help you determine if there is a spark prior to your first date.From FaceTime to Snapchat, there are various ways to interact with your potential suitors to gauge your connection. It also doesn’t hurt that you can prevent a catfish scenario by checking out the true visual.
  9. Take things offline as soon as you feel comfortable. So once you have determined that you are ready to meet someone, put the phone or computer down and get out there! It is easy to stay online to prevent disappointment or not be letdown, but you are just preventing the inevitable. If you are worried about your safety, meet in a public place and be the last to leave.
  10. Do not invest high levels of energy until after meeting in person. Building a relationship takes more than an endless chain of emails and nightly phone conversations. Until you have met in person, you do not truly know someone. So before ignoring other admirers online or telling your friends how great an individual is, be sure to meet offline first to confirm mutual interest.

 

HARMAN and Little Kids Rock Launch “Jam Zone” Online Music Hub

Site offers hundreds of lessons and tutorials and resources for music makers of all ages

HARMAN to donate $5 to global music education for every photo shared of fans using Jam Zone

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Since music classes have been cut from the curriculum of many schools, this is a welcome resource for kids who want to learn more about music and become musicians themselves.

Little Kids Rock, the nation’s leading nonprofit provider of popular music instruction, is offering video lessons, song charts, practice guides and other resources online for free to inspire fans of all ages to make music. Together with its partner, HARMAN International Industries, IncorporatedLittle Kids Rock is launching Jam Zone powered by HARMAN, an online destination devoted to making learning how to play music fun and easy.

 

Research shows that making music positively impacts learning development and brain function and more so than simply listening to music.1 However, 1.3M elementary students in U.S. public schools do not receive music lessons, and only 17 percent of U.S. public schools require music courses as part of their curriculum.2

Jam Zone makes it easy and less intimidating to learn to play an instrument so music fans of all ages can reap the benefits of rocking out. The mobile-friendly design makes finding song charts, lessons for specific instruments or tips on how to write and produce a song simple and accessible so children, parents, students, teachers and fans everywhere can make music anywhere. More than 200 video lessons and jam-alongs with guided step-by-step instructions are available. Users can make music using technology and a wide array of instruments including guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, ukulele, vocals and more.

“The world of music does not stand still and nor can the world of music education,” says David Wish, founder and CEO of Little Kids Rock. “Over the past 50 years, technology has radically changed every element of music making. The way music is being learned, created, distributed, consumed and shared is changing at lightning speed. We are thrilled to receive support from HARMAN, a preeminent global leader in the fields of music recording, production and premium listening experiences, to ensure our programs are relevant and provide the latest tools and expertise for music education.”

Since partnering one year ago, HARMAN’s support through its global cause initiative, HARMAN Inspired, has helped Little Kids Rock’s music education programs impact more than 1,300 schools. HARMAN has bolstered the Little Kids Rock program with advanced technologies and access to music experts for more immersive and current experiences. The collaboration to create Jam Zone marks a critical expansion of their relationship to inspire and support music fans of all ages, inside and outside the classroom, and around the globe. In addition, during the month of October 2016, HARMAN will donate $5, up to$50,000, towards global music education programs for every photo tweeted featuring fans using Jam Zone.3

“HARMAN has supported legendary artists like Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton and many others for more than 65 years – music is in our DNA and we want to foster that same passion among fans through Jam Zone,” said Paula Davis, vice president, Corporate Affairs and Communications, HARMAN. “The goal of Jam Zone is to learn your favorite songs and get hooked on music making for life. Jam Zone helps fans get over the intimidation of learning an instrument by making it easy, accessible and free. No matter your skill level or age, it’s never too late to learn to play an instrument and gain the benefits of music for the mind, body and soul.”

Through partnerships with more than 120 school districts across the country, Little Kids Rock provides innovative curriculum and donates the accompanying instruments and resources necessary to teach popular music. Using these methods, students have been able to learn their favorite music quickly and gain an immeasurable sense of accomplishment.