Sunday, January 28, 2018

4 Reasons Why Everyone Is Moving To Austin Texas

 

Did you know that Austin, Texas is the 'Live Music Capital of the World'?  It's true, but there is so much more to Austin than just its rich music culture.  Austin, and its surrounding cities, is a great place to raise a family, eat delicious BBQ and experience 14,000 square miles of the beautiful hill country. These are just a few reasons why everyone is moving to ATX.


Here are some of my favorite aspects of Austin:


The Food:

  I love that Austin has some really diverse food choices.  When I am wanting to eat like I am back on the east coast, I go to Home Slice.  They are serving up authentic NY style pizza and addicting signature cocktails.  Home Slice is located in the heart of the infamous South Congress stretch.     If pizza isn't Texas enough for you, then I suggest you head over to Franklin's BBQ.  Just be sure to get on line during breakfast hours, if you are interested in eating lunch at this smoked meat sanctuary.   Franklin's BBQ is known for having the best brisket you've ever tasted and I wouldn't dare disagree.  If the wait doesn't chase you away, this prized smoked brisket is located on Austin's historic east side.  When you live in Texas, BBQ is basically a staple.  However, we already know that ATX is far from being basic.  The food truck phenomenon that has swept Austin has proven that The Capital City's cuisine is culturally diverse.   According to the Austin Texas Visitors Guide, it has been estimated to  be  over 1,000 food truck vendors in the Bat City.  There is a little something for everyone in this city, especially in regards to food.


The Music:

 Whether you are trying to visit the oldest Texas dance hall for two-step lessons, listen to hip-hop over drinks or kick your boots up to some country tunes, Austin has it all.  If you thought that the food was diverse, wait until you get an earful of the music.  If you are looking for an experience that will leave you with goosebumps, visit The Continental Club.  All genres of live music have been playing at the venue since 1955. There is a piece of Texas history in those walls and you can feel it as soon as you walk inside.  I could talk for hours about all the music venues because there is just music in the air, in the Hippie City.  If you are looking to hear legendary, awe inspiring and emotionally moving music, just take a walk down South Congress.  


The Real Estate:

 Much like the food and music in ATX, you have the most diverse real estate options.  You can live on a lake, on a ranch or in the busy city because the Austin area has a lot to choose from.  If you have kids, you might be interested to know that the Eanes Independent School District, in Austin, is ranked the number two school district in Texas.  ATX's impressive school systems will only add value to your home, even if you don't have children.  Rental property is also surprisingly reasonable, in comparison to other major cities, so the cost of living won't leave you stressed.  It's not shocking that the economy, in this city, is on the rise.  People love living in Austin and the increase of business, in Austin, has decrease unemployment rates considerably.  Overall, the low cost of living and high quality living, is what is driving many people to move to Austin.  


The Outdoor Activities:

 When I think of a high quality of life, I think about about being outdoors and staying healthy.    Austin was ranked the 14th fittest city in 2014 due to its large selection of outdoor activities.  ATX and their surrounding cities, make it easy for you to be fit and healthy.  Cycling, Water Sports, Walking Parks, Hiking Trails, Secret Swimming Holes (not that secret) and Water Tubing are just a small variety of options that are available.  If you haven't floated down the San Marcos, Comal, or Guadalupe river with a cooler then you haven't lived.  (don't forget the bottle of sunscreen and a waterproof speaker!!!)  Check Pinterest for images of swimming holes in Austin, if you want to have swimming hole envy.  These little water nooks, adorned with rope swings, are beautiful little spots to cliff jump and relax amongst friends.  (Strangers in Austin will immediately become your friend.  It's a really friendly city.) So don't delay, get your bike and cycle over to America's most bike-friendly city.  Your body will thank you for all the physical activity, I promise.   


 If you are interested in living in Austin, Texas than I suggest you take a look at Redfin.   Redfin is the easiest and most efficient way to find Austin Real Estate.  I happen to think Redfin is superior, compared to other real estate websites.  Specifically, it has a few features that seem unique to their site.  Redfin will tell you a transportation rating for each location that you are looking at touring.  So it will tell you if its a car, bike or transit heavy city.  Once you find a place that fits your needs, (maybe its a bike heavy location! Go Green!) you can instantly set up a tour online.  Responses are listed on the website as being as quick as 13 mins!!  (I hate having to wait for an email back.)  You will also be able to see how many times the location was toured and when.  Lastly, I love their 'tour insights' that tell you specifics about the home or apartment.  The insights, will tell you the great aspects about the property.  For example, insights will list if that property has a great view, large backyard, local bike trails and so much more.  Redfin has got real estate figured out, because they made it easy to find a place to live.  


Do you already live in ATX?? Comment below with all your Austin recommendations.


 Y'all come back now.  ;)


“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”

**I was compensated for this post. However, opinions are completely my own and based on my own experience.**




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

8 Truly Addictive Podcasts



It is only fitting for me to start the New Year off by talking about podcasts. 2017 was the year of podcasts for me. When my world was spinning, podcasts were there to keep me grounded.
It all started last year with a New Year's resolution I made. I wanted to be tidier and have cleaner house. Since I was fresh off of a ‘serial’ podcast obsession, I turned to Apple podcasts to get my life more organized.  I sat down on Jan 2nd, 2017 and searched the word cleaning, in the podcast app. This is when I stumbled upon Dana White, a hidden gem. The woman who taught me I was a slob and didn’t know it. She also taught me not to stress about being a slob because I’m not alone. The podcast, A slob comes clean, is amazing. Dana actually suggests listening to podcasts or audio books in order to keep a cleaning momentum. If you want to check out Dana, you can listen to her podcasts here: A Slob Comes Clean
After I found Dana, I realized the Apple podcast app has endless possibilities of listening pleasure. I began searching and following tons of podcasts. In my podcast journey,I have found these podcast have been my favorites so far (in no particular order) :

  • Cleaning House by The Real Housemaids:  Okay, so the hosts of this podcast go by the alias names Mop and Sponge. I believe this podcast started in 2012 and ran until 2014.  Mop and Sponge are maids in NYC and they dish out the gossip about all their high end clients.  Under the guise of their alias names, they expose their most interesting client's secrets.  I found this podcast pretty interesting because I'm a nosy person. Plus, let's’ face it, NYC has some really interesting people. If you are interested in listening to this podcast, click here: Cleaning House by the Real Housemaids
  • Up and Vanished hosted by Payne Lindsey: Don't ask me why I am obsessed with murder/missing podcasts, but I am.  I found this podcast by searching the word missing, in the podcast app.  In this podcast, Payne Lindsey explores what happened to a teacher/Georgia beauty queen, Tara Grinstead. She went missing from her home and it was assumed that she had been murdered.  I won't give out any spoilers on this podcast, but I will say it was really good. I've been listening to up and vanished since episode 2 came out.  That means I had to wait all the tortuously boring days in between each episode, to get an update.  There was no option for me to sit down and binge the entire season. However, you are lucky enough to be able to binge listen to this podcast right now.  Payne also has a second podcast out right now, called the Atlanta Monster.  You can find the Up and Vanished podcast, here: Up and Vanished Podcast  
  • S-town hosted by Serial and This American Life:  This podcast is hosted by a man named Brian Reed.  It's about a guy named John who really hates his town in Alabama.  John's story is interesting, but the podcast isn't as long as some of the others' that I have talked about. The story is shocking, raw and not at all about what you think its about.  I found this podcast on the 'Top Charts' section of the Apple podcast app.  Overall, I really liked listening to this podcast and was hooked right away.  After it was over, I was left wanting more stories about John.  If you like a little mystery then you will definitely like this podcast.  If you are interested in listening to S-town, you can find it here: S-Town Podcast
  • Someone Knows Something (Season 1):  Hosted by David Ridgen, this podcast investigates the disappearance of 5 year old Adrien McNaughton.  Adrien was said to have wandered into the woods and was never found.  It's a pretty sad and sketchy story.  This is definitely another podcast that left me wishing for a better conclusion.  However, they did go on to record two more seasons of the podcasts.  Season two and three were about different cases that also took place in Canada.  You can check out season one, here: Someone Knows Something Podcast Season 1
  • Worst Ever Podcast with Alaa and Christine Lakin:  I must admit that I only started listening to this podcast because I have a girl crush on Christine Lakin.  If you aren't familiar with Christine, she played Al on Step-by-Step. (don't know Step-by-Step? You are too young for me bro)  Alaa is Christine's bestie and from the Mickey Mouse Club (also DJ Khaled's brother). Once I really started listening to all the episodes, I realized that I actually think Alaa is hilarious.  That being said, this is a podcast that you need to check out if you are interested in a good laugh.  This argumentative duo, interviews celebrities and former child stars. Specifically, they have interviewed Andrew Keegan, Staci Keanan (all the Staci episodes are my favorite.), Kelly (X17 online Kelly!!!) and many others.  If you listen to nothing else on this entire list, listen to this podcast. Stroll over to Worst Ever Podcast and listen to Alaa tell Christine that her wardrobe sucks, while Christine tries to explain to him that he is a rude person.   Ok, I’ll shut up about them for now and you can listen to them, for yourself, here: Worst Ever Podcast
  • Dirty John by The L.A Times :  The Dirty John Story is what I could only describe as a wild ride. Hosted and Narrated by Christopher Goffard, this is a bizarre story with a bizarre outcome.  The people involved in this story are a odd bunch of characters, to say the least. This podcast is about a dysfunctional relationship that ended in a very scary and dramatic manor. It's a nightmare situation about a woman who is in a relationship with a man who deceives her.   I still really liked this podcast despite it being very short (7 episodes long). If you are interested in hopping on this wild ride, you can listen to it here: Dirty John
  • Nowhere Dispatch:  This podcast is hosted by a local guy that talks about weird happenings in the Longview, Texas area (East Texas).  He may have said his name but I don't remember it and couldn't find it in a google search.  I live in Texas so I happen to find this guy, and his friends, pretty interesting.  I especially like it because it's about weird, spooky and eerie stories that take place in East Texas. I like that each individual podcast is its own story.  This makes it easy for me to skip around to things that sound interesting, without feeling like I missed something.  These guys are really down to earth and relatable so I've gotten hooked on listening.  You can listen OR read these podcasts, here: The Nowhere Dispatch
  • In the Dark (Season 1) by APM Reports:  This was another pretty sad case about a missing boy named Jacob Wetterling. Jacob was abducted while riding his bike with some friends. Unlike some of the others, will get closure at the end of this investigative podcast.  To listen to Jacob Wetterling’s story, please click here: In the Dark


So now you can go browse around these podcasts and see if you like any of them.  (Just a heads up, Alaa already thinks you will like his podcast the best. )  If you have good podcast recommendations then please email them to me at SugarMootz@gmail.com







“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sparkle VoxBox Review




 I was one of the lucky people that was chosen to receive the Sparkle VoxBox from Influenster.   I received these products complimentary in exchange for testing and my opinions.  

Bloomingdale's
Influenster is an online community of bloggers and sample fanatics.  They have an online reviewing platform that is comprehensive.  Once you sign up, you answer a bunch of questions about you and what you like.  Then Influenster sends you different things to try that are tailored to your likes and concerns.  So far they have sent me Water Wipes (baby wipes) for my daughter , L'Oréal Revitalift Triple Power , Armani 'Stronger with you' 'Because of you' (cologne and perfume) and the Sparkle VoxBox.  This VoxBox is the first box, that I have received, that contained items from multiple brands.  All the boxes that I've received in that past, where specific to one item.  So Influenster has been game changer for me and if you want to sign up, you can use my referral link: www.influenster.com/r/3051764



The Sparkle VoxBox contain a lot of products that I had never tried before.  Specifically, the box was made up of a tube of Crest 3D White toothpaste, Kiss lash couture eyelashes, Welches Fruit rolls, Garnier Sulfate Free Cleanser, Numi Tea, and a Sinful Colors nail polish



Crest 3D White Enamel Care Toothpaste: I was hesitant to try this toothpaste.  Mostly, I was worried about finding little plastic beads in my toothpaste.  Not only was the paste bead free, but it also tasted like normal toothpaste.  I wasn't left with a nasty after taste, after using this product.  I took a before and after picture. (you don't need to see my busted up teeth)  The results weren't super dramatic but it definitely took off surface stains.  Overall, I would use this again. You can buy this toothpaste, here.

A post shared by Erica Q (@sugarmootz) on


Kiss Lash Couture Faux Mink Lashes:
I love a dramatic fake lash.  I happened to be given 'Noir' to try and it was extra dramatic compared to the others.  I don't wear fake lashes every single day but I like them for special occasions.  This pair happened to be a little too dramatic for daily wear.  If I were going to wear these during the day, I would have picked a more natural looking lash.  I know which ones I would like now because I got to try Kiss's Lash App.  You get to try on all their lashes without all the glue!  In terms of quality, these lashes were easy to apply and customize to your eye.  I don't know if they made me want to switch brands but I liked wearing them.  You can find the app by clicking, here.  You can buy the lashes, here.





Welches Fruit Rolls: Fruit Rolls are one of my family snacks from my childhood.  Except the ones I ate probably didn't have any fruit juice in them.  This was the first product from the VoxBox that I tried.  I ate them so quickly that I barely have any pictures of them. (Sorry!)  You can buy these delicious fruit rolls, here.

A post shared by Erica Q (@sugarmootz) on


Garnier Skinactive 'The Gentle Sulfate Free Cleanser': For a gentle cleanser, this face wash cuts through makeup.  It barely suds up so I thought that it might leave me oily.  My face afterwards just felt moisturized and clean.  This wash would be great in the winter when my skin is drier than normal.  If you are looking to cut out the 'makeup remover' step in your routine, this is for you.  Interested in this wash?  You can find it , here.   

A post shared by Erica Q (@sugarmootz) on











“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wooden Toys for Babies and Toddlers






The 2017 Holiday Season is approaching us and, if you are reading this, you might be looking for gift ideas.  This year, there is a lot of great toys on the market for babies and toddlers. ( There are even toys that teach children how to code! See it here) High tech gifts are great, but sometimes its the timeless and most basic toys that make the best gifts.  Let me tell you why you should be buying wooden toys for babies and toddlers.





  • Unlike plastic toys, wooden toys are durable and long lasting.  You will get more life out of a wooden toy.  Most wooden toys can be passed down to siblings because they hold up so well. A great, long lasting wooden toy is Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pounding Bench. It is literally made to be beat on. 











  • Wooden toys are significantly safer than toys made from other materials.  There are no little pieces and no chance of parts breaking off of the toys.  Plus, wood is natural and you don't have to worry about possible chemicals that could be lurking in plastics.  Finn + Emma make a line of wooden teether rattles that are all natural.






  • Some toys have loud noises and distracting lights, which stunts creative development.  Wooden toys are so simple and quiet.  When given simple toys, babies and toddlers will play actively instead of passively.  With zero distractions, it is easy for them to explore and be creative.  One of our favorite wooden toys is the Wonderworld All-in-1 Coffee Shop Pretend Play Toy



 






  • There is no shortage of educational toys on the market, right now. The simplicity of wooden toys, however, can be a safer and more active way to learn critical thinking skills.  Activity Cubes are great for learning!  Hape Country Critters Wooden Activity Play Cube for Toddlers is a very popular cube.





Want to see more learning toys for babies? Check out High Low Baby's post, here.


  • Wooden toys make great functional keepsakes.  My favorite gift to give babies and toddlers is a personalized wooden puzzle.  Wooden puzzles hold up really well over time.  When I buy personalized gifts like this, I usually try to shop local.  You can check out this handmade personalized wooden puzzle, here.





Interest in seeing more handmade toys for babies? Check out Lower Mountain Love's post, here.

  • Babies and toddlers are VERY active!  When a puzzle is just not going to cut it, you grab a scoot bike.  Wooden toys are limited to stationary play.  Durable tricycles, scoot bikes and wagons make great gifts.  Plus, scoot bikes are great for balance.  Hape Scoot Around Kid's Wooden Ride On Balance Bike is a fan favorite.






 Interested in toys to keep kids active? Check out Thrifty Mama Life's post, here.


  •  Wooden toys can be great when practicing fine motor skills.  With less distractions, kids are able to focus on things like hand eye coordination.  Specifically, I love threading toys to help toddlers practice their grasp and muscle control.  One simple wooden toy that gets this job done is the Sew 'N' Sew Lacing Toy.  Its also pretty inexpensive toy too. 







This Gift Guide is in participation with a Holiday Gift Guide Hop. For the full list of Gift Ideas for babies & toddlers, click here.









“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

2017 Halloween Party Essentials





Thanks to online stores, planning a party has never been easier.  With one click of a button, you can have an entire house decorated in just a few days.  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because I love to dress up and I love Halloween parties.  Amazon has so many sinister party must-haves for Halloween 2017.  Here are some of my favorite best selling halloween essentials:





  • These reusable IV drink bags are fun containers to fill with red wine.  Pair the bags with a vampire costume and you are set to impress.

 



  • Even your wine bottle can wear a costume with these unique stickers.  Now you can mask your wine as a deadly poison and you will have all the wine for yourself.  
 

  •  I know that breakfast cereal isn't exactly a party snack.  However, General Mills just re-released Count Chocula Cereal for halloween.  That means we all need to turn these into cereal treat squares and serve them.  (yes I bought these and they are delicious)

 


  • Every Halloween party needs cute and also terrifying, decoration.  Amazon has a ton of really adorable halloween pillows, like this 31st spider throw pillow.
 


For a more gruesome look, this bloody knife garland is sure to spook.




If knife garland isn't your thing, then try this life sized cutout of Pennywise (I'm scared just looking at this)

 


  •  Ambiance is everything when it comes to parties.   To set the mood, turn down the lights and fill the room with these battery operated candles.  They will look really great but there won't be a chance to burn down the house.

  

For unique outdoor lighting, scatter these glow in the dark rocks around the day before.  Once they are charged up, they will light up your backyard for the night. 

 



  •  If you are going to complete your party with a costume contest.  Then you are going to need this headless skeleton trophy.  You can't let the winner go home without a trophy! 




  • Lastly, you can't throw an awesome party without having an unforgettable costume.  I suggest showing up as the dancing Snapchat Hot Dog Filter.   It may not be a spooky costume but you are sure to make your guests laugh. 
  


Monday, September 25, 2017

Creative Halloween Costumes for Dogs





Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC



  Halloween isn't just about the kids, candy and tricks.  It about dressing up your dog. (or at least it is for me.)  I have been forcing my dog to have fun on Halloween for 4 years now.  Last year, she was a butterfly. (which is fitting because if you don't watch her, she will fly away) In past years, I have struggled to find an original costume for my dog.  Well, 2017 is apparently the year for awesome dog costume.  There are so many options!  Take a look through these great costumes: 


1. UPS handler: The UPS carrier is my dog's biggest enemy so this costume makes me laugh.  Although, I do fear that my dog might eat this package like she does to the real packages. 







2. Teddy Bear Dog: Who doesn't want to hug a dog that looks like a teddy bear.   Your dog will turn heads on Halloween while he/she steal all the attention from the kids.









3. Lion:  I happen to love a dog with a fake lion's mane, even if it isn't Halloween.  If your dog has really long hair, you can groom him/her like a lion instead.  This costume would be extra funny on a tiny dog that has a golden lion color. 







4. Tarantula: This costume would be the most terrifying if your dog was little.  You can sit back and watch your dog scare every tricker-treater by looking like a man-eating spider. 









5. Guitarist: This dog looks like he just walked away a local gig.  The only thing that would make this costume even funnier is if it came with a fedora.








6. This Terrifying Muzzle:  Muzzles are normally scary but not this faux one.  You can go tricker-treating this year with a zombie looking dog.  This muzzle would be perfect on a small sized dog that is all bark and no bite. 








7. Skunk:  Let face it, dogs stink.  (or at least mine does, all the time!!) So this ironic skunk costume is a viable option for my dog this year.   









What is your dog wearing this year?  Send us all your dog Halloween photos for a chance to be featured on our Instagram! Send all photos to SugarMootz@gmail.com





“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”