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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015 Kia Sedona SX-L Review

Once my husband and I ticked off the 3 children check box we consciously chose to be a minivan family.  Our current minivan (2005 Honda Odyssey) is coming up on 10 years. Through all of those years it’s been reliable, practical and comfortable.  However it was with great anticipation that we got to review the Kia Sedona SXL since we’re in the market for a new van. It would be great to see what’s changed in the 10 years since we’ve had our minivan.

Smooth as Silk
First off, the Koa Sedona SXL is a slick, silky vehicle.  I have to say it truly handles much nicer than my Odyssey.  It was one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever experienced.  The electric power steering makes driving a breeze.  While my current van has a back-up camera, the Sedona has front and rear cameras that help during parking and exiting a parking spot.  The navigation screen displays both front and back views in a split screen so you can clearly see what might not be as visible just with the naked eye.  There’s the added benefit of an audio feedback system that lets you know if you’re getting close to an object.  That’s a great feature and very handy for those teen drivers.  It works not only in a tight parking spot but also while driving and changing lanes.

Ready for a Road Trip?
The Sedona delivers 276 horsepower and a super quiet and smooth drive.  Both active and passive safety features provide the utmost safety whether you’re going to the grocery store or a cross-country road trip. 

Driver View
The Kia Sedona was named Best New Car Design at the 2014 New York Auto Show.  It’s definitely a winner and was a dream to drive. The dashboard has loads of features.   The steering wheel has a bunch of buttons to maximize the safety of having 2 hands on the wheel at all times.  You can answer the phone, lower the media volume, and manage cruise control and other car settings.  The comfortable driver bucket seat allows for 2 different drivers to have preset settings so you never have to grumble about your husband changing the perfect seat height and mirror view.   The front passenger seat also has electronic control seat settings.  There is a sunroof in the front, which I find I don’t use much in my current van.  Both seats have heating and cooling settings – true comfort in the cockpit.  There’s also ample room to store commuter mugs, snacks, small bags and more in the center console.

Passenger View
My 3 kids tested the second row and marveled at the comfort.  Not only are there two captain chairs but they come complete with ottomans or foot rests that make traveling first class. The middle row also has a separate sunroof.  Perhaps that makes up for the lack of an entertainment center.  I don’t find the lack of an entertainment center a concern at all now that most kids have their own hand-held device whether it is a smartphone or tablet. 

Kia’s UVO eServices App
Kia’s UVO is a subscription-free media service offered by Kia Motors America.  Besides hands-free calls using your smartphone and the built-in Bluetooth you can also stream music, download apps from the UVO Download Center including Yelp and Google Maps and register your account to view maintenance information.  Available for both the iPhone and Android you can sync between the phone and car and take note between your parking location, get roadside help plan stops along your trip.

Doggy and Luggage View
The third row and trunk space offer lots of convenience you don’t find in an SUV.  You can fold both the single seat or double seat or just one at a time.  When flattened my only complaint is the floor is not completely level.  A flat surface would mean it would be easier to sleep in the vehicle of you were using it for camping or to transport something that required a level surface.  My two big dogs are often relegated to the back of the van so having a level surface means more comfort.  I would add some blankets to make up for the bump in the back.  But beyond that minor inconvenience there’s plenty of room to pack, store and move lots of stuff.  Again, something most SUVs are incapable of carrying as much as a minivan.  That to me is reason enough to go with a minivan.

For me it was a welcome bonus to have an trunk door that opens with the click of a button on the remote.  You can open it with the remote or by pressing a button above the license plate of the trunk door.  Then simply press the button on the base of the door to gently close.  My two dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Labrador Retriever, had no problem jumping in the back of the van. The height of an SUV is typically too high to allow your dogs to jump in the back.

Nice to Have’s
A few of the niceties with the van include two USB ports in front, one in the back and two 110v outlets (front and rear).  The outlets are very handy when camping, charging or using a device that does not have a USB port.  On more than one occasion we’ve used someone else’s outlet to blow up our mattress when camping or use a blender at a tailgate.  So it’s a great ‘nice-to-have’ feature.

Some other awesome features include the cooling glove box that comes standard on the EX, SX and Limited and optional on the LX.  The trunk light is detachable for those times when you need a flashlight – ingenious!

The exterior has a lot to offer too.  The sleek looking grill mimics the lines of the windshield.  There are interior window shades and the overall comfort level is outstanding.  It rated very high in the crash test scores with an overall score of 8 out of 10. 

What’s the Bottom Line?
After driving the Kia Sedona SXL for a week, I have to say we are seriously considering buying or leasing this minivan as our next vehicle.  While Toyota and Honda minivans are often the top pick, their many recalls and hefty price-tags make the Kia Sedona is definitely a heavy contender. 

For more on the Kia head over to US News 2015 Car Rankings or Kia’s website.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Get Your Chex Party Mix On for the Holidays!

The first time I remember having Chex Party Mix was when I was a little girl - way back when.  It had been a while since I had some and wondered what took me so long to enjoy it again!

I recently attended a fun Chex Party at the Brit & Co MAKESHOP on 550 Sutter Street in San Francisco.  A group of bloggers and foodies had the chance to try our hand at making crafts and mixing with Chex Party Mix.  It was fun and a reminder to me to get my party-on - my Chex Party Mix that is.

Below is the front entrance of the Brit & Co Makeshop.  This is a great place where you can get your creative hat on and make some cool things with the tools they have including 3D printers, graphic designs, glitter, tins, paint and so much more.  Check out the list of classes here.  This is where we got to explore and get our Chex Aprons on!

And now for the tasty stuff.  There were about a dozen of us bloggers who got to check out CHEX and create some VERY tasty recipes including Muddy Buddy, (both sweet and spicy!), and savory mixes.  With just a few boxes of Chex cereal and a few simple ingredients, you can make some very crunchy snacks for after school, for parties - or for sharing at things like camping or picnics.

For wonderful array of Chex Recipes, check out the link here.  There's a recipe for any occasion. There are gluten free, sweet, savory or a combination of those.  And best of all these are healthy recipes that you feel good about serving your family.

For more on how to use Chex cereal, check out this link for great ideas.  Have fun with the whole family as you make your own creations for healthy, tasty snacks.  Get your Party On - With Chex Party Mix.

And for family fun give a creative gift with a class at MAKESHOP.  It's a gift that results in a creation all your own and fun memories with your family.  And check out the cool AWESOMIZED photo from my Google Plus album - it created this with several photos I had and made an animated, awesomized GIF of Brit herself explaining how to create some cool stuff for the holidays!

Happy Holidays Everyone!  And Party-On!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Video Entertainment Guide - Setting up Parental Controls

The holidays are quickly approaching and with that, millions of kids and adults are sure to get new video games.  But do you know the rating for each of their games, - are they age appropriate?

I remember giving my 3 daughters an array of video games through the years.  I remember the glee they had when they unwrapped their first video game, the Nintendo Game Boy Classic.  Now they mostly play video games with their Smartphones.   With ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) I can easily see the level of games they purchase and play.  Now that they are older they know how to select an appropriate rated game on their own.  They know the house rules.

Are video games 'bad' for you?  Check out this enlightening TedTalk by Jane McGonigal, a game maker.  She brings insight into the way games can help us as a society.

So over the holidays, take the time to get to know the games you selected for your children - or that others selected for them. If you have questions check out these wonderful parent guides over at the ESRB site.

As an example, Monica Vila, owner of TheOnlineMom explains how to set up Parental Controls on the Wii as well as a variety of other popular video game boxes.  Watch the ones that pertain to your household and be rest-assured that your kids are being monitored even when you're not in the vicinity!

Happy Holidays - and make sure your video gamers are safe and sound.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tinyprints 30% Off before the Holidays!

Did you run out of time before using our exclusive 40% off Tinyprints coupon?  If so I have good news.  I have a new 30% off coupon code to use before December 17, 2014.  To get your coupon please contact me at tinacasephotography@yahoo.com.  It's good for a ONE TIME use - enjoy 30% off your order. Excludes calendars, photo books, gift certificates, personalized postage stamps and Erin Condren weekly planners.

Exp: 12/17/2014

Reg promo, one time use.

Full disclosure I am a Tinyprints Affiliate.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cyber Deal from Tinyprints! 3 Codes for 50% off Holiday Cards!

Hey early birds...you're about to get a great deal on holiday cards.

December 4th, 7:00am to 11:00am ET, (4:00 am to 8:00am PT), Tiny Prints is making their already awesome Cyber Week deal even more awesomer.

Through the end of today, you can get 40% off all holiday cards using the code CYBER40. If your order is more than $49, use that and stack the code FREESHIP49 for free shipping if your order is more than $49.

But, if you are up early enough, add the code FLASH1204 and you'll save an extra 10% on your order. That's a total of almost 50% off holiday cards.

So check it out and remember to use all 3 codes to save nearly 50%!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Totspot Let's You Buy and Sell Kid's Clothes from your Phone

As the mother of three daughters I remember having to purchase outfits that my girls wore one time - for a wedding, for a recital or some other special occasion.  After the event that outfit sat in their closet.  Sometimes it would sit in their closet for a LONG time until it was needed and maybe fit one of the girls depending on the event and timing.

The goal for these pricey outfits was that they would become hand-me-downs. But that worked only if we had a similar occasion and the dress fit.  If only I had Totspot back then.

What is Totspot?
Totspot is an app for your iPhone or Google Play compatible smartphone.  It allows parents to post photos of their children's gently used, high-end outfits, enter a description (label, size, color) and within minutes they are ready for sale.  Totspot does the rest.  You earn cash that you can use to make purchases - on Totspot or wherever you shop.

Basically Totspot gives you a consignment store at your fingertips.  Now you can afford that Kate Spade outfit for the holidays.  Or that designer suit for a special family reunion.  Prices are up to 70% off retail.  What could be better?

Ready to try it?  
Get 20% off your first purchase when you use the code FIRSTBUY at checkout.

Check it out
Find Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mytotspot
Download the iOS App
Download the Google Play App

Now that my girls are grown I had a friend try it out. It was super easy, delivery was fast and efficient.  You can sell what your children outgrow and use the proceeds to make purchases for next season.  That's just plain smart.  So check it out.  You may become addicted!

Now.. if only they would come up with Momspot next!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Movie: "The Theory of Everything" Opens November 21 - Attend a Prescreening!


However bad life may seem, where there is life there is hope.        – Stephen Hawking

The Theory of Everything with Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones
EdThe Theory of Everything is the extraordinary and uplifting story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, and of two people defying the steepest of odds through love. The film, based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (Man on Wire).

In 1963, as a cosmology student at the storied U.K. university Cambridge, Stephen (portrayed by Eddie Redmayne of Les Misérables) is making great strides and is determined to find a “simple, eloquent explanation” for the universe. His own world opens up when he falls deeply in love with an arts major, fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones of The Invisible Woman). But, at 21 years of age, this healthy, active young man receives an earth-shattering diagnosis: motor neuron disease will attack his limbs and his abilities, leaving him with limited speech and movement, and will take his life within two years.

Jane’s love, fierce support, and determination are unwavering – and the duo weds. With his new wife fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen refuses to accept his diagnosis. Jane encourages Stephen to finish his doctorate, which includes his initial theory of the creation of the universe. They start a family, and with his newly earned and widely hailed doctorate Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. As his body faces more limits, his mind continues to explore the outer limits of theoretical physics.

Together, he and Jane defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed – well into the 21st century.

If you would like to attend an advance screening please check out these locations and dates and RSVP 24 hours before the date and time listed to the following email:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
CineArts Santana Row

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Landmark Embarcadero Cinemas

Thursday, November 13, 2014
AMC Bay Street

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Del Mar Theater

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Century Roseville

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Tower Theater

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Century Cannery Row