Travel & Food

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2018 Mazda CX-9 AWD Review

We are sharing one of our favorite family friendly vehicles, the 2018 Mazda CX-9, in the, oh so lovely Soul Red! We have reviewed several family friendly vehicles in the Mazda line and the 2018 CX-9 is by far our favorite!

The stunning 2018 CX-9 is a beautiful car, it really is. The silver chrome around the windows and roof, LED lighting around the review mirror and the leather interior, it’s just that fancy.

The interior is REAL leather, not leatherette, it’s the real deal you guys. It gives the vehicle such a polished luxurious look. The color combination is beautiful. All power seats and they are extremely comfortable. To be honest, the entire design of the CX-9 makes you feel like you are in a very high end vehicle.

Tilt and telescoping steering wheel is always an appreciate feature in my opinion being a shorter person. Mazda always jazzes things and adds that extra bit of detail that really reflects in the overall look and quality. Steering wheel is heated and offers the ergonomic design.

The vehicle gets 28MPG on the highway and 22MPG in the city, and I found this to be pretty true when we tested if for a week. It’s also all wheel drive which is the only way I would go when purchasing an SUV. When purchasing a family friendly vehicle you want something that you can travel in and not have to worry about. We visit the snow often and take many family trips, so this is a must.


The trunk is very roomy and the back seats have a 40/60 split with the third row seating. We really wouldn’t use the third row unless we had another person with us, so having the extra trunk space for us was very helpful.

One of our favorite safety feature is the sensors on the front of the vehicle. It’s hard to notice, but that small circle you see above next to my shadow is in fact one of the sensors. As you approach an object, the car will notify you that you are getting close, which is great for those short people like me that already have a hard time gauging distance when parking.

I also liked the placement of the rearview mirror, which offers more visibility out the window. These also have blind spot monitoring which is always appreciated. As parents we tend to naturally deal with many distractions while having a car full of kiddos. I am always nervous when merging lanes, on the off chance that I will not see a car in my blind spot. This really eases that worry and I wish all cars came equipped with this feature.

Wrap around LED taillights are great for driving at night, seriously looks so sporty!

The 2nd row seating gives you a ton of space, especially if the 3rd row if folded down. The seats also recline, which is pretty awesome. Just pull that lever you see on the side and you can recline the seats as well for an even more comfortable ride. My children are the main riders in the back seat, but even myself at 5’1 had more than enough room and did not feel over crowded.

Active driving display shows speed, turn by turn navigation settings.

The 8inch screen offers back up camera, Mazda Connect has the navigation settings, communication and phone settings. The commander switch is perfect for controlling the navigation, music or phone settings while driving. It does not have Apple Car Play (bummer) but that honestly isn’t a deal breaker with everything else Mazda has added.

Climate control does an amazing job of controlling the temperature in the front and rear of the vehicle.

The Rear air vents and heated seats were pretty awesome. The back seats even recline a bit if you need a little more room. The backseat also has the USB ports located under the center arm rest, just as the CX-5 did as well.

I also found it very easy to install my children’s car seats as well in the 2018 Mazda CX-9, it literally took seconds, while in some cars I can spend up to 15minutes trying to just get the latches in.

The 3rd row is accessible from the second row by folding the seat down and sliding forward. This is good because it creates a pretty large opening for an adult to climb in the 3rd row if needed. The head rest on the 3rd row also folds all the way down which was pretty awesome. In the 3rd row you won’t get a ton of leg room for adults for children would be perfectly fine with more than enough room. The 3rd row doesn’t have a switch to turn your light on, so an adult has to turn this on from the front, but you do have cup holders and additional rear speakers as well.

NEW Britax Endeavours Infant car seat

A few things we found that we were not a huge fan of with the 3rd row is that there is no way to access the 3rd row if you have two car seats, one on each passenger side. You are not able to move the seat with a car seat attached, so technically the only way to access the 3rd row in this situation, would be through the trunk area. Don’t get me wrong, my children love climbing and I’m sure would not have a problem with this, but that is something you would want to keep in mind.

Also, we did not find any latches for car seats in the 3rd row. This can cause a problem if you are planning to put small children in the back. For the most part I think we would use children not in car seats as it is not very convenient to access a child in a car seat anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind.

This vehicle is very engaging and feels flawless when driving. Honestly, I feel like I am driving a much more expensive car, just by the feel of the 2018 CX-9 alone. Panoramic Sunroof would be awesome of course, and an easier way to access the 3rd row seating if in fact you have more than one car seat in the second row. Besides those few things, I am impressed and honestly ,I would purchase this family ride in a heartbeat!

Some of my favorite features are:

-Keyless Start

-Sensors on vehicle

-Blind Spot detection

-USB ports in the rear seating area

Kids favorite features:


-Boss Speakers

-3rd row seating

The MSRP for the 2018 Grand Touring All Wheel Drive as shown is $43,905. You guys, this isn’t bad at ALL! I think the price point is more than fair and a bargain for everything the Mazda CX-9 comes with. To check out more, you can visit Mazda’s site here!





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Chick-fil-A Mom’s Panel 2017-2018!

Hi everyone!

If you are following me on Facebook, then you will know that I was recently selected to be apart of the Chick-fil-A Mom’s Panel 2017-2018! Our families obsession with Chick-fil-A is real, guys. I’m sure most of you also know, at least by my Instagram & Insta-stories that I am also a photographer. I have been very blessed to work with so many different companies and organizations and even more so that I get to do what I love most in this world (next to being a mother of course) ever single day. I cannot tell you how often we stop at our local Chick-fil-A in Walnut Creek, CA. On our way to and from sessions, weekly. I could go on and on about the easy it is to order from the app and pick up within seconds to how amazing their ice is, (it really is the best ice in the world) basically we love Chick-fil-A and we are over the moon excited to be apart of this years panel!


What does being a Chick-fil-A Mom’s Panel 2017-2018 even mean? Well, it means that I get to share all of the top secret (amazing) updates with all of you first! It also means that Chick-fil-A will assist in funding my families waffle fry and crunchy ice addition for the next few months to come. I have just been in touch with my local Chick-fil-A’s marketing director and I am excited for my future Chick-fil-A excursions, as I have a feeling, the party is just getting started!




I look forward to sharing our new adventure with you as well as whats on the menu! I’m curious what the most popular Chick-fil-A menu item is. Let me know in the comments below!


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Freeloader Child Carrier

The Freeloader is the First Child Carrier Built Specifically for Toddlers! It is a new, better child carrier. Compact, lightweight and portable, the Freeloader child carrier uses advanced materials and design to create a better experience for parents who love spending time with their kids. Whether you are traveling by air, going to the zoo, or hiking with your little ones, the Freeloader is ready to help carry the load.

When not in use, the Freeloader’s integrated aluminum seat folds up neatly to the size of a daypack. The Freeloader is a perfect fit for parents that want a lighter, more versatile carrier. The Freeloader features an easy-to-use, 5-point safety harness. The safety harness is specially designed to fasten securely and safely out-of-reach of your child.

The Freeloader provides wide, ergonomic shoulder and waist straps to evenly distribute your child’s weight to your hips and core. The contoured shoulder straps are adjustable and provide extra padding for comfort and support. Padding in the back panel and seat offers extended comfort for your child.

The Freeloader is small enough to carry-on and stows away neatly, making it perfect for air travel, road trips and more! See more at Freeloaders  website and on their Facebook page.

Recieve 10% off your Freeloader Child Carrier when you enter the code “freeloaderfun” Take your children on the adventures of their dreams and don’t forget your camera!

Click here for the coupon!

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Save 15% Off Full Day Salt River Rafting Now! [REVIEW]

My name is Idena Garrett and my huband and I did the full day Upper Salt River trip as a bucket list adventure to celebrate my husbands upcoming birthday.We had the privilege of going salt water rafting with Wilderness aware rafting company and it was amazing! I’ve never been rafting before but I always wanted to so I did and I will deffinetly go again!

Upon arriving, the crew at Wilderness Aware was incredibly well organized, immediately getting us started on filling out paperwork/forms and helping us with rental gear we needed. I was very impressed that they provide everything you need for your trip and even things you may have forgotten to bring, you could purchase.

It was beautiful and very clean in the river and at the meeting place. It was my first time but it wasn’t that difficult as long as you follow directions and listen to your guide. The safety lecture was thorough and comprehensive and you’ll know everything that you need to know.   Make sure to pay attention and respect the guides time explaining things.  

Halfway threw the rafting trip we stopped and had lunch. The guides provided a nutricious food and beverages for refueling, and even extra clothing for those who got a bit cold on the trip. This gave us the energy and motivation to go the whole way.  I was honestly expecting hot dogs or pizza because that’s easy to make or buy but instead they made us chicken/steak fajitas. They were delicious! The thing I loved the most about this experience was the staff. The staff was very nice and made sure that everyone was having a good time on and off the water.

My guide was name Matt Brown, he was very knowledgeable and informative. He made the half day rafting trip fun, exciting, and low anxiety for everyone. Matt was very passionate and thorough in explaining our plan for the day and safety precautions.

There were 5 people  (including me and my husband) so it wasn’t full or crowded in the raft like I expected. I just loved my experience and I REALLY recommend this to everyone in fact I’m booking another trip asap. It’s 3 hours away from where I live and it’s deffinetly worth the drive.

They took  pictures of us available on CD for $60.  A tad bit steep, but it’s a nice feature to have if you did not bring a camera.

My husband and I were incredibly impressed by the organization, professionalism, humor, and skill of the staff.  Thank you so much for this memorable experience. Our only regret is only rafting for one day.  Next year we want to do a longer trip!  You can view all of the available trips and book yours here to save 15% Off Full Day Salt River Rafting – March through May season!

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Blue Bayou Restaurant Review

We recently visited and dined at the Blue Bayou, a restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. The Blue Bayou is a Cajun and Creole cuisine adjacent to Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride. If you visit Disneyland often then you know that all the food in the park is pretty amazing. Whether it’s a $5 churro or a corndog, you know that it’s going to be pretty darn good! Being able to eat a gourmet meal at the park is something everyone must do during their magical Disney visit.

The Blue Bayou is tucked away inside a dark night, lantern lit sky along the river. You can even watch the boat riders slowly ride on by as they first enter the ride. We made reservations (which is a must) for lunch, which I highly recommend. It is roughly half the price of the dinner option and just as delicious. We paid $35 a person, but they do have a few cheaper options, you can view on the menu below.

The inside of the Blue Bayou at our table

We love how accomadating the restaurant is. Two out of 3 of our children are very picky eaters and they had no problem with us bringing in other food for them from the park or grocery store. Even though the child’s menu is fairly inexpensive at about $10 a meal, I hate wasting food. Our 9 month old made quite the mess at our table as well with his baby puffs, and they told me not to clean up, they took care of it all.

The appetizer was fresh warm bread and butter, which was amazing!

With each entree you do get an option of salad or their Gumbo, and while the salad is good, please…Go with the GUMBO! It’s the best Gumbo I have ever had, hands down. I wish I could eat it everyday, it’s that delicious.

I ordered the Chicken option, while my husband ordered the steak. Both were cooked to perfection, no complaints at all.

The waitress recommended the Creme Brule for desert, which we gladly ordered. It was $7 and large enough for the two of us to share without feeling too guilty.

A tip when celebrating your birthday at Disneyland, let EVERYONE know it is your birthday! My daughter was able to celebrate her 8th birthday during our visit 3 times, breakfast, lunch and dinner. While they may not sing to you at every location, they will   provide you a delicious sweet treat to remember the occasion.

View the menu of the Blue Bayou in advance

A friendly recommendation when visiting any sit down restraunt at Disneyland is to make reservations by calling (407) 939-3463. Disneyland takes reservations up to a month in advance and if you would like to sit next to the water (like at the Blue Bayou Pirates ride) let them know when you check in at the time of your reservation. The Blue Bayou also accepts AP discounts which ours was 10%. It really adds up when you are spending over $200 at a restraunt.