New Year New Mantra

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This year I don’t have a list of resolutions. Each year I check each one off much to my satisfaction, but again it is usually a long list and I feel the normal guilt, disappointment when there are things left unchecked. I’ve decided this year I am only going to try to take one idea and put it to work in all aspects of my life.

PRESENCE

I am really going to push myself to be present in every aspect of my life. Present as a mother, wife, business owner, friend and family member. I am putting my phone down and watching the cartwheels, the skateboard tricks and the looks on my kids faces when they are happy, sad, excited or mad. The way their shoulders shrug when I ask them to sit down and do their homework, the way their eyes light up when I say we can have breakfast for dinner and especially the way they look at me when they know I’m proud of them. These moments are fleeting and I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to play with them, let them know they are important and really work hard at getting them ready for the crazy world in front of them. 

 I understand that being able to do this means that I am going to have to say “no” sometimes. Saying “no” is not easy for a person who says “yes” A LOT. But being present with my family means I may be absent from other areas in my life, and I’m not upset one bit. I know that saying “yes” so much means trying to do lots and lots of things none of which are done at 100%. I want to be at least close to 100% at just a few things- being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and business owner. I am totally good with that. Because that is what matters to me right now. 

This might mean that you will hear me say “no” to you, but please know it isn’t because I don’t love you, it is because I have got to say “yes” to family time, “yes” to the watching the cartwheels and skateboard tricks and “yes” to putting my family first. 

Happy New Year!

-xo

Summer Vacation 2016: Where We Stayed

We just returned from a wonderful month-long vacation in Big Pine Key, Florida. We had a truly unforgettable time. We were so fortunate to be able to take this trip and we really made the most of the time we had together. I’m going to devote a few posts to our vacation. I’ll share where we stayed, what we did, what we ate and what we brought.  I am by no means an expert only using this as a way to share our experience.

We used HomeAway Vacation Rentals to book our house. We stayed here and we couldn’t ask for a better place. Our family of four stayed the whole month, and we split the weeks of the month up with friends and family who shared the house with us one to two weeks at a time. This house was perfect for 8 people. We didn’t feel cramped and everyone had their own space. You can see the inside from the listing. What made this house though was the backyard. The pool was perfect to entertain the kids when we weren’t out on the boat (and perfect to hop in after a long day out). The tiki hut was a great place to relax and be outside without being too hot and miserable. The dock and sea wall provided the perfect amount of space for the two boats we had and the landscaping was just beautiful.IMG_7232

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Outdoor Shower

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Big Pine Key is located in the Lower Keys about 30 miles north of Key West. You can see from the map where it is in relationship to the other Keys and South Florida. Big Pine definitely has a very laid back vibe. You don’t go for the nightlife and restaurants like in the Upper Keys or Key West. You are definitely there to enjoy being out on the water each day and resting each night to do it all over again.
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We took our boat out almost every day and it was incredible. We brought our masks, fins, snorkels and fishing poles then each day we set out on adventure. There are so many things to explore by boat. Where we stayed is the “Start” and each day we would head out and try new things. We would go to the patch reefs that were very close. The water wasn’t as clear but there were so many fish to see while snorkeling. 
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Our favorite by far was Looe Key. It took us about 35 minutes to get there each time but it was worth the trip. The water is so beautiful and there are so many different types of fish, coral and sea life. It is part of the Florida Keys National Marine SanctuaryIMG_1831

 

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The sandbar was also a favorite. The kids swam and explored and the grown-ups floated and relaxed.

We really enjoyed staying in Big Pine. It was perfect for what we wanted do to. I really enjoy staying in the Upper Keys too though. But if we are going to stay for longer than a week we will definitely head south and stay here.

Tomorrow I will share what we did while we were there. 

xo

 

Summer 2016 Bucket List

I cannot believe the summer is almost over. Our kiddos go back to school on Monday and man it feels like we just celebrated the end of the year. We have had an amazing fun-filled summer.

We knew our Keys trip would take up the bulk of our summer but that didn’t mean we weren’t going to get in as much summer fun as possible.

Here is our Summer Bucket List chalkboard. IMG_0958

And here it is now that we have reached the end of a really memorable summer.IMG_1943

We did almost everything on the list!

Library 1x a week – Before we left for our vacation we made sure to go to the library at least once a week. I really wanted to keep their reading going so they keep sharp for the new school year. 

Movies – We saw 2 movies. One before we left “Finding Dory” and one when we got back “The Secret Life of Pets”. The kids love movies and when it is brutally hot outside, it is definitely nice to have a cool place to escape for a couple of hours.

Bowl – This was a fun one! The bowling alley here had a program where the kids could bowl for free during the summer! You pay for the shoe rental ($4) and you get two free games. Parents pay $2 for games and $3 shoe rental. It was such a great deal! It was also great to change it up and do something different and  be indoors (see brutally hot above).IMG_7202
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Splash Pad – One of the YMCA’s in our area has a Fun Pool that includes a waterfall, water canons and all kinds of fun splashing. The kids took a quick swim test then they were able to swim around. This was perfect. I went to my kickboxing class then after we changed into our suits and played in the water for a bit. 

Eat popsicles – No brainer. This happened quite a bit. I even think they were breakfast a couple of times #norulessummer.

Golf – This is one we didn’t get to. Boo. This is one of my New Year’s Resolutions too!! I have got to get to the course soon.

Paddle Board – I got to do this in the Keys. I LOVE paddle boarding. Not only is the scenery beautiful but it is a great workout too!

Fish – We did this in the Keys too! IMG_7395

Go Tubing – Sadly we didn’t get to this one either. We will have to save it for next summer.

Beach – Yes! We only had a couple of actual days at the beach. But the time we spent there was fun.

Zoo – We didn’t make it to the zoo this year. We just ran out of time! I tell you this summer seemed super short!!

Picnic – We actually did this unintentionally. The park we planned on going to was closed so we just threw down a towel and had an impromptu picnic outside the gates. IMG_7212

Keys – Yes! I will have a few posts on this.

Ride Bikes – Absolutely! Think we are close to having two kids without training wheels over here. Lookout neighborhood, these kiddos are coming!

Make lemonade – We did this too. Although the kids think I don’t make it sweet enough. #sugaraddicts

Make s’mores – We made these and took them on a sunset cruise in the Keys. So fun.IMG_1586

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Get ice cream – We did this plenty of times too!IMG_7191

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I would say we have had a very successful and exciting summer. We have made so many amazing memories and I can only hope my kids look back on these times and remember how much fun we had being together.

I’m sad to see summer go but I will be honest, I am really looking forward to getting back into routines, schedules and activities that come with the school year. 

Hoping you had a fun and memorable summer too!

xo

 

#orlandostrong

We’ve had a rough couple of weeks over here but I have never been more proud of the city we call home. I was broken-hearted glued to the TV that Sunday as all the gruesome details unfolded. But by the end of the day I was just amazed with the resilience and support this community showed with lines upon lines at all the local blood banks. We are strong and hate will not win. 

I grew up in Central Florida and have always been happy to call this place my home. Now more than ever though, I am proud of my city, proud of my neighbors, and proud of everyone that has shown that humanity is alive and well here. We do and will continue take care of each other.

I’ve been holding my loved ones a little closer and a little longer lately. I want them to know that love is stronger than hate.IMG_1066

Stand With Orlando

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xo

A Day In The Life

I really love reading these types of posts because I’m a blog-stalker. I thought I would give it a try too for my own selfish reasons. I want to document one random Tuesday at this point in my life so I can look back and remember how fun and busy these days are. I might be pulling my hair out now, but one day (too soon I’m sure) I will really miss these crazy days. I took all of these pictures with my phone and my house is dark, so not winning any photography awards I know.

 

6:34 Wake Up. This is really a little late for me. I normally try to get up at 6:00 to have some peace and quiet before the craziness of the day begins but some days I need the extra z’s.IMG_0227

6:38 First things first. Coffee. We just recently got this Nespresso machine and I am in love. I was really happy with our Keurig but we were visiting my girlfriend who had a Nespresso and my husband decided it was a must-have. We found one on clearance at Target and haven’t looked back since. The coffee is really delicious.

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The foam is super pretty too.IMG_9873

7:00 I wake up the munchkins. Sometimes they will creep out around 6:45 but normally I have to wake them up on school days (weekends of course they are up at 6:30). They grab blankets and watch TV on the sofa while I make their breakfast. This usually consists of waffles or pancakes with bacon, eggs and fruit. Milk to drink.

7:27 Pack lunches. Little Man will eat at school most days but I have to pack a lunch for The Princess as her school only provides lunch one day a week. Here are what her lunches normally look like. There is also ham hiding in there somewhere.IMG_0230

Between 7:30 and 7:45 the kids finish eating and get themselves ready to go (not without being asked multiple times). Mornings are tough. 

8:07 Out the door. Here is my first breakfast. Looks gross but will hold me over until after my exercise class.  Half of a banana with almond butter.IMG_0231

8:15 Leave to take the kids to school. Cuties.IMG_0233

8:55 Once the kids are dropped off I stop by the post office to get some stamps and send a certified letter. IMG_0235

10:00 Bootcamp at the gym. This is such a tough class but I always feel great once I’m done. It is a 45 minute class with a mix of cardio and strength training. IMG_0236

10:48 Not bad for 45 minutes.

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11:08 Second breakfast. This is a smoothie with almond milk, spinach, frozen bananas, strawberries, protein powder and almond butter. IMG_9636

11:25 I put a pork shoulder in the crock pot. This is going to be a long day with ballet and baseball so dinner being ready when we get home is crucial. I just used a boneless pork shoulder, seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon pepper. I added about 1/2 cup chicken broth and called it a day.IMG_0239

12:30 Hair appointment. Love the chandelier at the salon I go to.IMG_0241

2:30 Lunch is on the go. I packed a cooler (I use this one) because I needed to include snacks for the after-school activities for the kiddos too. I ate this in the car after my appointment on the way to pick up Little Miss. This is romaine lettuce, broccoli slaw, cucumber, avocado, carrots tomatoes and deli turkey. IMG_0394

3:56 On our way to ballet. This normally happens on the drive. Sleepy girl 😉IMG_0242

4:30 Ballet and tap time. I usually take this time to check emails and make phone calls while I wait. On this particular day I didn’t go into my physical office so I had a little bit of housekeeping to take care of while our little ballerina twirled away. Other times I bring my IMG_02445:30 Leave ballet and head to a baseball game. Little Man ate pizza and rode with one of his teammates (it takes a village) so he could be there on time and with a full belly. My husband was out of town this day so it was just me and I needed a little help from my village.

6:15 Baseball time. Unfortunately, we didn’t win this game but the boys played hard and I am always super proud of my little guy. Luckily there are several sisters that stick together during the games so Little Princess stays occupied and because of my little cooler she has a full belly too 😉

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The games normally last an hour and a half which I think is pretty late for 8 year-old-boys on a school night but we survive. After the game we head home.

8:47 Dinner. Pork roast, rice, lima beans and avocado. I also cut up Wickles Pickles in mine. Wine is definitely a must after this day. The kids have pork and rice too.IMG_0256

9:00 The kids are beat and I put them to bed. I am right behind them.

9:15 Watch “Fixer Upper” for about 5 minutes before falling asleep. Night.

Not every day is this full. Tuesday’s seem to be our really busy days with after school activities. Some days of the week are super boring because I am in the office all day, others may include field trips, marketing for business and errands. I’m so lucky that what we do allows some flexibility so that I am able to really enjoy this time with the kids. I love seeing them grow and learn new things even if it means I put 100 miles on the car in a day 😉

Hoping your days include at least one thing that makes you happy too.

xo

Year Seven

Little Man,

About two weeks ago we celebrated your seventh birthday.

Wow. It is hard to believe it has been seven years since you changed our lives (for the better) forever.

You amaze me every day. You are so smart and sweet. Everyone loves to be around you especially me. My favorite time of day is when you snuggle with me on the sofa at night right before you fall asleep.

Here are some of the things you really like right now.

Sports (all the sports) Hockey-you love to watch the Lightning play on T.V. When you fall asleep before the end the first thing you do the next morning is ask Siri who won. Baseball- you are really doing well playing and listening to the coaches. I know you have fun out there and it makes me so proud to watch you play. Soccer- you love to watch Orlando City on T.V. and played really well this past season.

Xbox- you got this for Christmas and would play every day if we let you. I know it is fun, I just don’t want you to grow up too fast.

Shrimp- you LOVE shrimp. It is really cute and I like that you are branching out even if just a little.

Reading-you are really good at reading and I hope you keep it up. There are so many exciting adventures out there in so many amazing books. I hope you find a love for reading. It is so fun.

 Things that you really DON’T like right now.

Being patient with your sister-we are really working on this. She just wants to do everything you do. You are her hero. Cut her a break every once in a while 😉

Being a graceful winner-you like to win. You REALLY like to win and when you do everyone knows about it. I’m hoping this will calm down a little bit.

You are becoming such a neat little man and I love you so much.

I’m looking forward to what this year has to offer.

xo

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Year Four

My Beautiful Princess,

It is hard to believe you turned four last week. I am constantly amazed with the little person you have become. You are determined, kind, imaginative and funny.

Here is a little peek into what you LOVE right now.

Skirts and Tutu’s – You will not wear any sort of pants without the addition of a skirt. It is adorable and also a little frustrating (searching for the last clean skirt as we are running out the door).

Cheese – You are your mother’s child. You can’t get enough of this stuff.

Being Pushed on the Swing – You could do this for hours. You ask me to push you when I drop you off at school and when I pick you up. You are getting really good at doing it yourself. You go super-high!!

Taking Showers – I can’t even bribe you to take a bath right now (although I try). You love taking showers and you giggle and sing the whole time. It is super-adorable.

Walking next to the cart a the grocery store – You no longer want to ride in the cart (sniff). You are actually very helpful and you never run off (if it is just the two of us). If your brother is with us all bets are off and you have to ride (for sure).

Strawberry Milk – Who doesn’t?

Now to a few things you do NOT LOVE right now.

Hearing the word “No” – It is getting better but we definitely need to work on this one.

The dark – This is a big one right now. You are very fearful when the lights are out. That is why we have not one but 4 night lights strategically placed throughout the house to guide your way 😉

Leaving any party/visit/playdate, etc – Even when we prep hours before any event and let you know that we have to leave at a certain time, you seem to always melt down when it is time to go. I really can’t blame you, I don’t want the fun to end either.

Only being 4 – You wish you were as big as your brother. Trust me love bug, you will be there before we know it and I won’t know what to do.

Happy Birthday My Little Princess. Your Mommy and Daddy love you more than the sun, the moon and the universe.

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xo

To Resolve or Not to Resolve…

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Happy 2015!

Long time no see! I take complete responsibility. I just realized that my last post was October 1st. Seriously? I would like to blame the lack of inspiration for my absence but to be honest once October hit, we were non-stop until January 2nd. I always say that once Halloween arrives, time passes in a blur and the next thing you know it is a new year. Well this time, it started on my birthday in mid-October and has been a complete time-warp to where we are today. Not to bore you with too many details but between Halloween, Thanksgiving, several birthdays, school parties and programs, not to mention all the social events of December our plate has been full. Work and life took over and my little blog suffered because of it. All is well now though and I want to hit the ground running in 2015 (even though it is already the 7th…)

I looked at my post from this time last year and it seemed a little vague in the way of resolutions for the new year. I know the jury is out for some people on the idea of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve seen annoyed Facebook posts by people who are already tired of resolutions in their feed. I’ve read articles on how setting resolutions in the New Year is a recipe for disappointment. I think I fall into a sort of middle ground on this (go figure). I think that the New Year is the perfect time to reflect on what has worked the past 12 months, what hasn’t and tweak things accordingly. It is also a perfect time to try to get to a healthy pace after a month (in my case 3) of overindulgence and a lax schedule. I also think being able to give yourself a chance to re-start every so often is good and gives you a little perspective.

I am all about supporting those who have resolved to better themselves in the upcoming year. I also understand that it is important for us to set reachable goals so that we aren’t disappointed come mid-February when we aren’t 3 sizes smaller, our houses completely organized and our kids reading 3 grades ahead. Baby steps party people.

So with that in mind I have decided to jump on the train and make some resolutions. Here are some of mine for the New Year. I am putting these here as a way for me to look back and see how well I have done and but not beat myself up in case things don’t go exactly as planned.

Get Healthy/Strong

When I mentioned having a full plate in December, I really meant it. My plate was full of everything all the time and I ate every.single.bit. That mixed with the constant change in schedule throughout the month (read: no gym) has left me feeling sluggish and all of my clothes feeling a bit too snug. No bueno. So I am back at the gym each day and using the My Fitness Pal app again to keep an eye on things. I also got a Fitbit for my birthday which I am really enjoying. Little Man asks me each day when I pick him up if I have reached my 10,000 steps. If I haven’t I try to take him and the Princess both on a walk to get to my goal.

I also want to go with Little Man to more of his Running Club meetings. These are fun for both of us. (Since this falls under the Healthy/Strong item I’m including it here).

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I want to work on strength training again. It feels great to be able to lift my kids (and other heavy things). Seeing a little definition doesn’t hurt either. We will see how it goes.

Read More Books

I want to set a reading list and stick to it. I miss reading new books and need this back in my life. Do you have any book suggestions?

Be Patient

I talked about this before here. I am really working hard on this one. I want my kids to learn patience and I think the best way is through observing. I feel like the more patient I can be, the happier everyone will be. Everyone else happy=happy Mommy.

Travel

I want to take a couple of trips this year. Even if it is somewhere close, I just want the kids to be able to see and experience new locations. I enjoyed this when I was young and I know they will too.

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Our Keys trip last year.

Work Hard on Growing our Business

Without really going into it too much this one is pretty self-explanatory. My husband and I own a business and I want 2015 to be a great year for us. I think with hard work and focus we can make it happen.

Blog Regularly

This goes without saying. October 1st? Sheesh.

Really Enjoy My People

This one is the most important to me. I want to focus on every little moment I have with the ones I love. Whether it be my husband, my kids, our families or friends, I want to make an effort to live in the moment. Be present with them and give them all of my attention when we are together. I run at about 100mph all the time and my mind is constantly multi-tasking. I want to turn that part off and just listen a little more. I am excited about this one.

So there they are, my resolutions. I am looking forward to what 2015 has in store for us.

How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions?

xo

2014 Summer Recap & Bucket List Check-In

So it has been a while no? Needless to say our summer was very full and fun and sadly, has come to a screeching halt. School is back in session and work is busy so the carefree feel of summer is behind us. Fortunately, we were able to leave summer on an amazing note with a wonderful trip to the Keys. I will re-cap that in another (terribly long) post. I thought I would touch base and see how we did with our Summer Bucket List. I think we covered quite a few things, although not all-boo.

Here are some thing we were able to check off.

Grill out once a week- We grilled out while maybe not quite once a week, definitely a lot more than usual. While in the Keys we grilled out quite a bit. It is just an easier way to feed a crowd and enjoy the scenery at the same time.  My favorite meal highlighted lobsters that we caught that day! So good.

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Steak in the Keys is better than steak anywhere else.

Eat Outside- We did a lot of this! One weekend in June we joined my Mom and Dad and had lunch at The Taproom at Dubsdread. It is actually where my husband and I were married!

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Hummus Plate, burgers and beer al fresco. It was a perfect Saturday afternoon.

While in the Keys we ate outside quite a bit.

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This salad was made with leftover steak, tomatoes, olives and grilled veggies. So yum!

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Hot dogs, watermelon and a pickle. His favorites!

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Lunchtime in Key Largo wouldn’t be complete without popsicles!

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“Tater” Chip Fondue at the Island Grill in Key Largo (we went to the Mandalay location this time). If you go, you MUST try the Tuna Nachos.

Make homemade Ice Cream-I did this and the kids hated it. Whomp whomp. They said it tasted like frozen milk. I will need to see about a better recipe next year.

Go to the Pool- We definitely hit the pool pretty regularly. Whether it was our community pool, while visiting family or the Keys house we stayed in, the kids definitely were little fish this summer.

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The Princess doesn’t swim yet and normally will just sit and play on the pool steps. We found a couple small swim rings for her and all of a sudden she had all sorts of confidence. Similar one here. She even swam while the others were looking for lobsters-in the ocean! With that ring she feels like she can conquer the world!

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This Little Man also made strides with his swimming this summer. He became GREAT with the mask and snorkel and was able to dive down almost 9 feet in the pool. Little fish I tell you.

Some of the things we didn’t check off our list.

Food Trucks-We didn’t get to any food trucks but I think we may do that when it is cooler out. It is just miserably hot now so we may need to wait for some relief.

Family Game Night-This didn’t happen but we did have a few Family Movie Nights. They were just as fun. One of our favorites was Walking With Dinosaurs.

All in all we had a really great summer. I know I keep saying it but the Keys trip was the highlight and we managed to knock off a bunch of our list items while there.

Now I am looking forward to cooler weather and a very busy fall/winter. I am going to have a new niece in October! My wonderful friends are getting married in November and Thanksgiving is shaping up to be a great family event. Christmas will be here before we know it. I cannot even believe it.

How did you guys do with your Summer Bucket Lists? Can you believe the summer is over??

xo

Product Review: Coolerwebs

So summer is in full swing and we have been enjoying lots and lots of time outside. We have been to the beach a few times and we hit the pool as often as possible.

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I don’t know about you but whenever we head to the beach or pool we like to load up on drinks and snacks and our cooler is our best friend. Normally, we will keep drinks, sandwiches, fruit, etc., all in the main part of the cooler. I was the queen of Ziplocs and Rubbermaid containers, hoping to keep the sandwiches from getting soggy and the bags of fruit from getting water-logged. Well, my brother-in-law has created a product that eliminates the need for all the extra bags/containers. The Coolerweb is a mesh bag that attaches to the inside top (or outside) part of the cooler so you can keep things cold but also dry at the same time.

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Here is the product description from the Amazon listing:

“Don’t get soggy or water logged! CoolerWebsTM is designed to fit on the inside of the cooler lids or on the outside. Keeps those cooler items you don’t want sitting in ice water getting soggy. It easily installs with a peel and stick Velcro type tape.”

When my brother-in-law asked me to give one a try I jumped at the chance. We took ours to the beach to test it out. They are easy to apply. You just place the adhesive side on the cooler and the web attaches with Velcro.

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We had some sub sandwiches and a bag of grapes and it worked perfectly-no Ziplocs needed!!

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We also found that it is great for holding bottle openers and koozies, so they are easy to grab when you get your drink from the cooler.

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As a Mom to two busy kiddos, I am always looking for ways to make our lives a little easier. These fit the bill. The kids no longer have to dig around the cooler looking for fruit, sandwiches, etc. The items they need are right in sight and they can grab them easily (the top stays open) and head back to the pool or ocean.

Now I just need to convince him to make them in super-girlie colors too. Tee hee!

Get yourself one or two to enjoy this summer!

xo

*Disclaimer: I was given a Coolerweb to try for this review. All opinions are my own.