Understanding & Optimizing Stop & Shop Gas Rewards for Maximum Savings

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Stop & Shop Gas Rewards

Stop & Shop Gas Rewards are a great way to save money on something you have to buy – GAS – by purchasing other items you regularly buy – GROCERIES!

There is a lot of confusion on how to take advantage of this program so hopefully this will clarify some things for you. First with basics of the Stop & Shop Gas Rewards program, then with some examples.

How to Earn

There are two different ways to earn points.  For each dollar you spend in Stop & Shop stores (or with Peapod) using your Stop & Shop card – after coupons & savings – you will earn 1 point.  For every 100 points you earn, you will save 10¢ per gallon… 200 points = 20¢ per gallon and so on.

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Each week Stop & Shop also has additional ways to earn through 2X – 5X Gas Reward items as well as Earn xx¢ per gallon when you purchase so many items, etc.  Taking advantage of these additional Gas Rewards promos is where you earn the biggest savings – and even MAKE MONEY!  I will explain more below.

Typically the special “earn gas rewards points wyb x” transactions can be done 10 times.  Other than that, there is no limit to the number of gas rewards you can earn.

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 1.23.20 PMEarned points are noted on the end of your receipt – ALWAYS CHECK YOUR RECEIPT to be sure you were credited with the correct amount of points.  You can also track your points HERE as well as see when they will expire.

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 11.47.57 AMHow to Redeem Your Gas Reward Points

Gas Rewards points can be redeemed at Stop & Shop gas stations and at participating Shell locations.

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5 Perennial Herbs for the Beginner Gardener

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5 Perennial Herbs For Beginner Gardeners

At the end of summer every gardener is busy harvesting and preparing plants before the first frost hits.  Since everyone who knows me KNOWS this is obviously NOT going to happen with me, I would need to plant a garden with plants that can be put to bed over the winter months, when they will return again in the spring.

Saying I do not have a GREEN THUMB is an understatement.  Many find comfort, relaxation and a calm sereneness with gardening, I do not.

I WANT to like it, I LOVE how it looks, I WANT to eat healthier and WANT to enjoy it, but alas I do not.

That is why it is important for garden-phobic folks or beginners like myself to have stuff that comes back year after year.  If we invest the time and money in a garden or landscaping, you know it is only happening once!

I have a crappy patch of land between the garage and driveway that might be perfect for an herb garden.  Luckily there are so many herbs available to us as perennials it is easy to plan, design and invest in a garden once and know that the end of summer does not mean the end of your garden.

Use this guide to determine which of your herbs will return to the garden next year. If you are interested in a budget friendly plan, or something that you can just plant once and enjoy every year, be sure to add as many of these herbs to your garden as possible.

Thyme

Thyme is a perennial herb that is able to withstand cold winters and doubles in size each and every year. A low growing groundcover, thyme comes in several different varieties that can be chosen for the color of their foliage, flower or scent. For gardeners that are in the colder hardiness zones, lemon and English thyme are better able to handle very cold winters, and newer decorative varieties tend to be less hardy and unable to handle the cold winter months.

Lavender

Lavender is very hardy and most plants are able to make it through cold, long winters and bloom again in the spring. Ensuring that your lavender plant is able to survive through the winter does take a little work on your part, and this needs to be done when you are planting and not when fall comes around. Planting your lavender in a protected area, away from high wind and adding it to slightly rocky or poor soil giving lavender roots a better and deeper grip is best. Pruning back the plant at the end of the growing season also helps to ensure that all the energy of the plant goes into survival.

Sage

Sage plants are often planted as annuals, but if placed in a dedicated spot in the garden and the if the ground is not frozen for a longer than normal period, it can survive and return. Plants will be very tender and small, not returning to their former size like lavender and thyme do, but you get the joy of growing a plant to maturity again.

Mint

Mint is perhaps one of the most common herbs in gardens because so many people add a single plant to a bed without realizing how resilient the herb is and how fast it can spread. Spearmint and Peppermint are two of the most popular and easiest to grow, adding one plant is great, but try to add it to its own bed or container where it will fill out entirely year after year. Other varieties to plant include citrus mints and the newer tropical scented varieties.

Chives

Chives are some of springs first plants, filling in their corner of the garden before most gardeners have even had the chance to clear the beds of garden debris. Any variety of chives can be expected to make it through the cold winter months and they are so low maintenance and useful in the kitchen that they are definitely a smart investment.

What herbs do you have in your garden?

Facebook is a SOCIAL NETWORK – So BE SOCIAL and NETWORK

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UPDATE to my previous post: Facebook: How to see what YOU want in your Facebook News feed

A few readers have emailed me again saying they have not seen any of my posts (or other pages posts) in their Facebook News Feed in over a month.  Blogger & business friends alike are also frustrated with the changes in facebook and how they can continue to communicate to their readers, friends and customers.

Of course it is true that facebook wants businesses to PAY for you to see their posts, but we also need to go back to basics as to WHAT facebook was intended for in the beginning…

Facebook is a SOCIAL Network – so be SOCIAL and NETWORK!

We can complain all we want but we have to remember that Facebook is a SOCIAL NETWORK.   By definition to function properly you need to be SOCIAL and you need to NETWORK.

Even though you thought you told them you want to see my posts by liking my page or FRIENDing someone, to them that was just a “Ya, I met her once..”  I kinda, sorta LIKE it.

Liking a page or friending someone is just what it says… eh… I know them or knew them once.  You do not mind seeing it, but more often than not you scroll right past without a second look.  If you saw them on caller ID you may not pick up.

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If you do not INTERACT by LIKE-ing, COMMENTing or SHARE-ing actual posts or updates you are indirectly saying you do not care whether you see what that person or page posts.

You are NOT being SOCIAL and you are not NETWORKING.

That is fine, however you need to understand that FB takes that input (or LACK OF INPUT) and then shows you what you most want to see – the stuff from people who you comment, LIKE and share.

Like any SOCIAL relationship, it needs ACTIVE PARTICIPATION.

The POWER OF NETWORKING is amazing so do not miss out!

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By the way, more importantly that also helps ME to know what kind of stuff you like to see.  You can also do that directly from the post on the blog either next to the title OR below the post.  Like you obviously LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee – LOL!  Why not SHARE all the great deals with your friends?

CREATE A FRIEND or INTEREST LIST on FACEBOOK

In addition to being ACTIVE in your social networking, there is another way to make it easier for you to see what you want in your News Feed.

You could also create a LIST which will show you all posts in chronological order from the friends/pages you add to the list.

Here is what you do:

  • Go to your home page on facebook and look down the left side bar for the FRIENDS section – hover over it and click MORE.  (NOTE – you could also follow the same instructions under the INTERESTS section as well – whichever one works better for you)

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  • Click on CREATE LIST in the upper right corner (or Add Interests if using that function)

  • In the pop-up box you can name the list and add members.  You do not need to add members at this time.  I prefer doing it in the next step.  Click CREATE.

  • Now you can click on ADD FRIENDS to search through and select people or pages for your list.

  • Use the drop down in the upper left of the pop-up box to select PAGES if you want blogs or select FRIENDS if you want to add people.  You will then see all of the people or pages you are following and can add them to your list by scrolling through or using the search box.

VOILA – you should now have that LIST under your FRIENDS or INTEREST section in the left sidebar.

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BUT it is way down the bottom so you will want to move it UP where it is more convenient.  Click on the pencil and choose “Add to Favorites”.  This will move it up to the bottom of the section below your name.  BUT you can do better than that:

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Once it is in the upper section click on the pencil again and you can REARRANGE your favorites.  I moved mine to right underneath my Newsfeed – that is the newsfeed facebook chooses for me – LOL!

When you check on facebook each day you can click on that and only see the newsfeed from those included in the LIST.

Possibilities are endless for the lists/groups you want to form.

notificationsGET NOTIFICATIONS

There is still a GET NOTIFICATIONS function which will ping  you if a new post goes up.  Hover over LIKED and make sure you have checked off “Get Notifications” .  As you can see you can also click “Add to Interest List” to get them on your Feed list ABOVE.  Mine have not always worked, but if this system works for you then be sure to click on GET NOTIFICATIONS.

OTHER OPTIONS for Maven of Savin

You can also join the Maven Of Savin Deals Group - I used it primarily during the holidays for HOT deals, but may start using it more since I believe you get better notifications of posts.

There are many other non-facebook ways to stay on top of all the deals on a daily, hourly, minute basis as well.  Visit and bookmark Maven of Savin, Follow me on twitter @MavenOfSavin for up to the minute updates, follow me on Google+ or Subscribe to my daily emails.

So Facebook, CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?

DIY Granite Cleaner

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Granite countertops… everyone’s wish for their DREAM KITCHEN… right?!?!

Well when we moved into our house 3 years ago, it had granite countertops and I thought I was in heaven.  That is until I realized they are impossible to clean!

First they are dark, so I cannot see when the kids leave a glob of SYRUP on them that hardens like a rock.

Then every cleaner I use causes STREAKS.  Soap & Water… Windex… stovetop cleaners… plain WATER… EVERYTHING STREAKS!  I will be the first to admit I am a lousy housekeeper, but how frustrating when you actually do clean and the counters end up looking worse than when you started.

Finally someone told me you need special Granite Countertop cleaners.  Well you know I am not paying more than $1 per bottle for cleaners and these were way more than $1.  UGH!

Finally what did I do… GOOGLE GOOGLE GOOGLE… and this is what I came up with and it works wonderfully!

DIY Granite Cleaner

  • recycled spray bottle
  • 1/4 cup Rubbing Alcohol or Vodka
  • 3 drops of your favorite FREE or cheap dish liquid
  • WATER

Rinse out an empty spray bottle.

Fill with 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or if you do not have any on hand, Vodka works well too. I have not tried gin or rum, but I feel like rum would be sticky.

Add 3 drops of your favorite dish liquid. I prefer ones that cut grease, but any FREE or cheap dish liquid will do.

Fill the balance of the container with water. I like to use warm water, but room temperature will do just fine.

I suggest you scrub any sticky stuck-on-crap off first with a scrub sponge.  Then spray the surface and wipe with a clean dry cloth.  I like to go right behind with a cloth to dry them – just in case you went heavy on the dish soap or leave the water on too long it can still streak a bit.

VOILA – cheap and effective granite cleaner you can make with stuff you have in the house.

Let me know how it works for you and if you have any other cleaning tips!

Facebook: How to See what YOU Want in your NEWSFEED

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how-to-see-facebook-blog THIS IS A REMINDER in case you have not seen this is the past.

Facebook changes the algorithm daily it seems and I know you are not all seeing my posts.  BOO HOO HOO… BUT there are some things you can do to help that.

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Here are a few things you can do to help – see pictures above.

  • The first thing to do is hover over LIKED and make sure you have checked off “Get Notificationsand “Show in News Feed“.
  • Then click on settings and make sure that “all Updates” is checked off.  UPDATE: FACEBOOK is messing with us again, you can no longer do anything about Show in Newsfeed… you can only “Get Notifications” or “Add to Interest Lists…”
  • Of course the more you “LIKE” posts, “SHARE” and comment tells facebook you want to see the posts as well.  Remember that regardless of facebook, if you ever have a question, please feel free to comment.  We have a great group and if I do not know the answer someone else may.
  • You can also join the Maven Of Savin Deals Group - I use it primarily during the holidays for HOT deals, but may start using it more since I believe you get better notifications of posts.

  •  You can also do that directly from the post on the blog either next to the title OR below the post.  By the way, this also tells ME what to spend my time on!  Like you obviously LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee – LOL!
  • Also make sure you always SORT by “Most Recent” in your newsfeed.  You will see the drop down in the upper right corner at the top of your feed.  I find I always have to change this – it is really annoying.

CREATE A FRIEND or INTEREST LIST on FACEBOOK

You could also create a LIST -The friend lists feature is just a way to create groups, so you can see just the updates from that set of friends, blogs, etc. at a time.  Here is what you do:

  • Go to your home page on facebook and look down the left side bar for the FRIENDS section – hover over it and click MORE.  (NOTE – you could also follow the same instructions under the INTERESTS section as well – whichever one works better for you)

  • Click on CREATE LIST in the upper right corner

  • In the pop-up box you can name the list and add members.  You do not need to add members at this time.  I prefer doing it in the next step.  Click CREATE.

  • Now you can click on ADD FRIENDS to search through and select people or pages for your list.

  • Use the drop down in the upper left of the pop-up box to select PAGES if you want blogs or select FRIENDS if you want to add people.  You will then see all of the people or pages you are following and can add them to your list by scrolling through or using the search box.  You can see this feature could also come in handy if you want to group friends as well – home vs. work vs college, etc.

VOILA – you should now have that LIST under your FRIENDS or INTEREST section in the left sidebar. When you check on facebook each day you can click on that and only see the newsfeed from those included in the LIST.

NON- FACEBOOK Options

There are many other ways to stay on top of all the deals on a daily, hourly, minute basis as well.

  • Visit and bookmark Maven of Savin.
  • Follow me on twitter @MavenOfSavin for up to the minute updates.
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed to have it delivered through your reader of choice.  I use Feedly now that google reader is gone.
  • Subscribe to my daily emails and get a newsletter each day around 3pm listing all posts from the last 24 hours.  NOTE that although you will see all the deals, some may not be in a timely manner.
  • The newest way to get the deals is to follow me on Google+.  The format is similar to facebook, though looks like a more basic feed right now.  I am new over there but am working on chatting over there more often and making sure all the deals get there.  Are you active on Google+ – would love to know what you think.

SO – I hope all that helped. My goal is to try to get you the info you want when you want it. So remember to LIKE or SHARE posts to tell ME what you want to see, but to also tell facebook that I am the bomb (just kidding!).

So Facebook, CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?

Story of MY Life is NOT One Direction

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Story of MY Life is NOT One Direction

When I saw One Direction perform their new song Story of My Life on X Factor I GOT THE CHILLS.  Literally got goosebumps and I think my eyes were even teary.  Not the “OMG it’s One Direction!” kind of chills that my young daughters, nieces and Paul Rudd 1D’s Biggest fan get, but the “WOW that was awesome” kind of chills.

I have always thought that even though One Direction is an over-marketed “boy band” (and what is up with Harry’s hair?), those boys can SING – and this song was a lovely, moving testament to that and so much more.  The simplicity in how they staged the performance, each of them rotating in a circle with candlelight in the background was stunningly beautiful and showcased each of their talents.

So why was I almost moved to tears?

At first I thought it was hormones of course.  I am a chick and we are always in some part of our “cycle” – pre, post, almost blah blah blah.  Then I thought it was the holidays.  I had been online almost non stop since 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.  I was exhausted, feeling guilty about not spending enough time with my family – let alone on personal hygiene and even had my laptop open while I was watching.

Then I realized it was actually 2 things – an AHA and a personal disappointment all rolled into one.

My AHA Moment

To me, the performance was a reflection of ourselves… there are 5 (or more) sides to us and we need all of them to be whole.  Quietly moving in a circle round and round, gliding from one talent or situation or style to the next.  Just as One Direction or that song would not be the same without Harry or Louis… or Liam or Zane or Nile (insert your favorite HERE), neither would you be the same if you did not flex and shift into different roles.

Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow.

Sometimes we stand out in front, sometimes we support from the background.

Sometimes we are the guardians and sometimes we are guarded.

Sometimes we dance, sometimes we sway quietly off to the side.

Sometimes we play the game, sometimes we cheer from the sidelines

Sometimes we REACH and sometimes we pull.

The elegant dance we do sashaying from role to role, feeling to feeling is the harmony of life that creates the beautiful music that is YOU.

Then I thought more and more about the lyrics and went through the phase of – THAT’s a cop out!  We all have disappointments and say – eh, story of my life… and that is what the lyrics appear to say… until I saw the official video and then knew WHY I was teary eyed.  This time I balled!  (click HERE to see it – I could not embed it but it is a MUST WATCH!)

Story-Of-My-Life-Walls

Though the song at first listen seems like a cliche weepy love song, resolved that you never get the girl, it is so much more.  You see they are taking a look at the stories of their lives that made them who they are today and it is so very touching.

What is the STORY OF MY LIFE??  Do I even know?

A few years ago when New Years rolled around we talked about figuring out how did I get herewhat makes you happy and taking the leap..stripping back the layers to figure out who you are when no one is looking - the REAL YOU.

Well as usual life got in the way and I did not make ME a high enough priority so I slipped back into old habits.  So here we are again…personally disappointed in myself for not being present, not being in the pictures that are my life, not being ME.

Take away all the woe is me love story crap and the lyrics tell a different story…

Written in these walls are the stories that I can’t explain… You can explain the stories – these stories, pictures, memories, make you who you are today and that is wonderful.

Written on these walls are the colours that I can’t change… They say a tiger cannot change its spots, but I say you CAN change your colours… add a little RED and be BOLD, add a little cream and COMFORTING, add a little NEON GREEN and be FUN!

And I been waiting for this time to come around… What the hell have we been waiting for? SEIZE the DAY… THIS IS YOUR MOMENT… REACH FOR YOUR DREAMS!

when I die these words will be written on my stone… This is where I stumble… this is where I get choked up… this is where I draw a blank and am sad, insecure and lost.

Everyone is choosing WORD of the year instead of resolutions.  I not only have no idea what would be written on my stone, what is my WORD?

What I do know is that the STORY OF MY LIFE is NOT ONE DIRECTION!

Back in the day there was only one road or railway to our destinations.  Now we can fly, drive a million different routes – turn left, right, go round and round rotaries and back again.  Drive slow, go fast, meander around on a Sunday afternoon.

The point is WE CHOOSE the direction we take.

We can change our minds and go another way… as the GPS says “RE-CALCULATING”

Now is the time to RE-CALCULATE, change your path, shake things up if need be.

You are the AUTHOR of the Story of YOUR Life… SO WRITE IT

because the rest is still UNWRITTEN!

The-Story-Of-My-Life-One-Direction

Easy Way to WARM UP your Kitchen on a COLD DAY!

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Warm-up-Cold-Day So it is FREEZING here in New England and even colder in other parts of the US.

We are all looking for ways to save on heat this winter but even beyond saving money, it is hard for the heat to even keep up in these subzero temperatures.

So another way to add some heat to at least your kitchen is of course to COOK!  All those reasons we try to use a crockpot and grill in the summer so we do NOT heat up the house are NULL and VOID in these cold temps.  This would be a great day for a HUGE turkey to be roasting all day.  What is your favorite LONG COOKING recipe?

Some of us however are not prepared with ingredients, recipes or the time to be cooking all day so what are WE to do?

SELF-CLEAN your OVEN!

Lord know’s mine needed it – we have been here over 2 years and I am ashamed to say I have NOT cleaned the oven.

Self-Clean-Oven

So I used that MAGIC BUTTON and could choose to have my oven on SUPER HIGH to cook off all the CRAP on LOW for 3 hours or the standard cleaning for 4 hours.  It is so much cleaner now and the kitchen was WARM.

So I see that as a WIN-WIN… finally my oven is clean and we have some warmth.

If you MUST go out in this weather be sure to be prepared with a FULL GAS TANK, Winter Weather Safety Kit and know the Winter Weather Survival Tips if you end up stranded on the road.

How are you keeping warm?

Winter Weather Survival: Stranded on the Road

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Winter-Weather-Survival-stranded Winter Weather SURVIVAL: Stranded on the Road

As the arctic weather bears down all over the US, I thought it appropriate to remind you of some Winter Weather Tips

The winter season brings plenty of joy and happiness, but it also can bring it’s share of tragedy. Every year, winter weather travelers find themselves broken down in terrible weather conditions. Fortunately most survive these dangerous situations, but a few are not so lucky. What sets those that survive and those that don’t apart? Often it is simply having the right knowledge and then acting on it.

If you broke down or God forbid got in an accident in freezing temperatures in the middle of nowhere, would you and your family know what to do?

First of all I hope you have a cell phone, AAA and already packed your car with a Winter Weather Survival kit.

If you are going no where fast, be sure to heed this advice:

Don’t Pretend to Be a Survival Expert

Even Survivorman will succumb to sub-zero temperatures and they have training, so what chance would you have? Understand that trying to be a hero can get you killed. Go with what you know and stick to the basic, safe decisions.

Stay in the Vehicle

Rule number one through ten is to stay in the car. Leaving the car and trekking into unknown territory is a recipe for disaster. If you are in the car, you are out of the elements and more easily recognized. Stick with your car.

Make your Car Visible

Put up your hood so people will understand you are broken down and tie something bright to your antennae.  Every so often you should go out and sweep the snow away from your vehicle. This will help the car to remain visible to potential help in the air or on the ground. A snow buried vehicle will not be spotted anytime soon.

Run the Engine Sparingly for Heat

Hopefully your vehicle has plenty of gas since you were prepared from the other Winter Weather Safety topics we’ve discussed.  If you keep your tank topped off, running the engine for about ten minutes of every hour will ensure that it lasts a good long time. The heat is vital, so be sparing with it.  Use your blankets, coats & hats as much as possible to conserve gas.

Assume You are Going to Be There For A Long Time

If you are lucky enough to have food and water, ration it carefully. Assume you will need it over a long period of time and eat accordingly.  Remember we said to pack high calorie foods because your body will burn LOADS of calories to keep warm.  If you run out of water or drinks you can melt snow to drink.  Melt it with matches and a small container or over a fire (if you are in a position to light one). This will make the snow safe to drink and will not lower your body temperature. Just eating snow is a bad move because it lowers your body temperature doing it so melt it and drink it.

Remember Sweat Means Wet

As you keep your car visible make sure to not strain yourself.  Slow steps means that you stay dry. Dry means you stay alive. You lose heat 25 times faster when exposed to cold water than when exposed to cold air so your body cools super fast when it is moist.  Sweat will make you wet so you want to avoid doing things that will make you perspire. Do everything with purpose, but always be mindful of your body.

Always Keep Windows Cracked

Ventilation is also very important in an abandoned vehicle that is running. Keep the windows cracked slightly and always keep the exhaust pipe clear from the snow. This is a very common way that people get hurt because carbon monoxide poisoning is silent and quick.

Stay Awake

If you must sleep, do so in shifts. You need someone awake to keep the heat going and someone to notice if rescue comes near. Keep someone awake and alert at all times and check on one another regularly.

Stay Together

In the movies, John goes one way and Mary goes the other and they ultimately end up finding their way. In real life, John and Mary splitting up might get them killed. Never split up and always stay together in an emergency situation. You will be much better off facing challenges as a team then you would going solo.

I cannot stress enough how important that Winter Weather Car Survival Kit is, so start putting yours together now.

What other Winter Weather Survival Tips do you have?

Winter Weather Safety – What Every Car Must Have

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Winter Weather Safety – What Every Car Must Have

When it comes to winter weather safety out on the open road, you can’t afford to fool around. There are countless examples every winter season of someone that took weather safety lightly and paid a very high price. When you travel via car in a cold weather area, you have to prepare yourself.

Full-Gas-GaugeFirst and foremost follow local safety warnings about staying off the road when they are too dangerous for travel.  If you MUST travel or you may end up in unexpected weather conditions make sure you always FILL-UP the gas tank.  Now is not the time to let it go too low hunting for the best price.

Preparing your car with a WINTER WEATHER SURVIVAL KIT can literally save your life in an emergency.

Here are some things you need to include in your kit:

First-Aid-KitFirst Aid Kit

A good first aid kit can be found at many stores.  I like this AAA 121-Piece Road Trip First Aid Kit but any complete kit will do. The key is to keep it up to date and be familiar with how to use the contents. This basic life saving item should be in your car regardless of the weather.

Emergency-Road-KitEmergency Road Kit

Cars break down and you will eventually need to fix something on them. Having AAA is GREAT and I highly recommend it.  However sometimes having the right equipment on hand is vital as well. A good car first aid kit includes a set of general tools, clamps, hoses, fluids, booster cables and other basic car accessories. Duct tape is also an absolute must. Duct tape fixes most everything – LOL!  Check out this AAA 73 Piece Premium Excursion Road Kit which has some of what you need.

blanketsExtra blankets, sweaters and warmth

The last thing you want to be short of in a cold weather emergency is blankets. Throw a few in the back of the car and it might just save your life. A couple of well made sleeping bags work wonders or grab these Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets.  Some car kits come with hand warmers as well – and remember gloves and hats!  Hats keep loads of body heat where you need it – in your body!  I just remember all the times I am just running out quick and do not even throw on a coat since the car is warmed up – God forbid I break down with out even a basic winter coat on – EEK!  I always grab my coat now.

Shovel-Kitty-litter

Shovel and kitty litter

If you have ever been stuck in the snow or ice, you would be amazed how much this can help.  The litter is for traction and the shovel is to clear a path. It just so happens you can use it for a million other emergency type uses as well. Make room for it and you will be thankful at some point.  This of course assumes you already have an ice scraper and brush in the car – standard winter must haves.

flashlights-flaresFlashlight and flares

Make sure you have a way to illuminate yourself and your car if you break down at night. Being found might be the most important thing on your mind. That means plenty of light. Don’t forget the extra batteries!

Tow-rope

Tow rope

A tow rope could help you out of a jam if the kitty litter isn’t enough to get you free.

matches-lighterVarious matches and lighters

In a cold weather situation, few things are more important than warmth and fire. Lighters and matches are invaluable in an emergency like this.  You could even throw in a Magnesium Fire Starter

Several kinds of high calorie foods

The last thing you want is to be stuck in the snow with no food. If you are taking a trip through a dangerous weather area, foods that are high in calories but that keep well are in huge demand. Beef jerky, peanut butter, nuts, granola bars and anything else that will keep without refrigeration will do.

Back up cell phone

If possible take along two cell phones.  One to leave fully charged but powered off and the other for normal use. You could also use a spare, fully charged battery.  This way if you break down you have a fully charged back up phone in an emergency. Also make sure you bring the car charger.

You can find many of these items in the AAA 65-Piece Winter Severe Weather Travel Kit as well as the other kits I noted above.  Though not specifically winter weather related, you may want to toss in a Car Emergency tool – seat belt cutter/window breaker.

This basic car kit can be a little bit of a pain, and it certainly can eat up some precious vacation travel space in your car. BUT even more importantly it also might save your life.

Winter-Weather-Safety-Collage-1

Be a GO-GIVER as well as a GO-GETTER

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Be a GO-GIVER As Well As a GO-GETTER

This week will be full of New Years Resolutions… I have many opinions as to why New Years Resolutions FAIL.  However I will also be SETTING GOALS this week and will share more later this week.

One HUGE goal of mine is to be a GO-GIVER as well as a GO-GETTER this year.  This goal was not only inspired by my participation in the Best Buddies Challenge this past summer, but also by friends of mine getting married tonight.

Jay McHugh and Stacey Alcorn will marry on New Years Eve and have requested all gifts be in the form of donations to the BeLikeBrit foundation.  Both Jay and Stacey have many successful business ventures and I have told you about Stacey before with her awesome bookREACH: Dream, Stretch, Achieve, Influence which has already inspired me.

When they met Len and Cherylann Gengel and read the story of Britney Gengel the young MA volunteer killed in the Haiti earthquake – they just had to get involved and help.  Britney texted her parent’s this message 3 hours before the earthquake hit…

They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and they work so hard to get nowhere, yet they are all so appreciative. I want to move here and start an orphanage myself.

After they lost her, the Gengel’s made it their mission to make their daughters dream a reality.  They opened the Be Like Brit Orphanage in January this past year and it is home to 35 children – some day to be 66.  It is truly a fantastic story about making a difference, doing the right thing and making the world a better place.

I am honored to be attending the wedding this evening celebrating the love of these wonderful people who MAKE A DIFFERENCE everyday and helping the Be Like Brit Orphanage make a difference in so many children’s lives.

This year MY GOAL is to MAKE A DIFFERENCE – in some way… in some peoples lives… to make this world a better place.

Every small act makes a difference.  It is not just about giving buckets of money.  Just because you may think you cannot do anything grand, does not mean you are not making a difference.  Help someone, listen to someone, make someone’s day easier – that could be just the key to them making a difference as well.  AND if everyone is making a difference, imagine the snowball effect.

Happy New Year and GO-GIVE!