Kiwico Atlas Crate Review

KiwiCo Atlas Crate Review – Holding the World In His Hands

KiwiCo Atlas Crate Review – Holding the World In His Hands

Disclosure: I received this product for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review.  I received no other compensation. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

I was really excited about this opportunity.  Maybe more excited than my son, Isaiah.

First a Little Background on KiwiCo

KiwiCo provides age-appropriate subscription crates (boxes) for children with projects and other educational items.

kiwico atlas crate subscription box kiwico atlas crate

All the boxes are STEAM oriented.

STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

Each month your child receives a project and related learning material to help them better understand a topic.

The crates are all age-appropriate.  You tell KiwiCo what age group your child falls into.  Depending on the age group you can also choose to focus on certain topics.

Here’s a list of the different crate types:

  • Cricket 0-36 months – Explore and Discover
  • Koala 3-4 Years – Play and Learn
  • Kiwi 5-8 Years – Science, Art & More
  • Atlas 6-11 Years – Geography & Culture
  • Doodle 6-16+ — Art & Design
  • Tinker 9-16+ — Science & Engineering

Isaiah received an Atlas box on Wednesday but because of his schedule, we didn’t get to it until Friday night.

That’s right, our Friday nights involve learning and quality family time.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The box included pieces to put a globe together, pieces to a related book (I will get to that shortly), a world map and an Atlas pin.

The Globe:

It was in two halves, conveniently divided along the equator.  It came with felt stickers that represented each of the continents, a stand, and instructions.  The equator has to line up with 0 degrees on the stand at the end of the instructions.

kiwico atlas crate globe project

Isaiah was able to follow along with the instructions and put it together in about 45 minutes.  He needed minimal help from me.  He mostly needed help with some of the steps that required a little more finesse.

The great thing about this part of the crate was he learned about the different continents and where they are in the world in relation to where we live.

There was a tiny felt heart that Isaiah was instructed to place where we live on the globe.  He needed a little guidance with this.  Most 8-year-olds would.

Sign Up for KiwiCo Hands-On Learning Crates>>>>

The Book:

The book came with a few pages and rings that act as a binder.  This also had to be put together.

Isaiah loves to read and already finished reading the few pages that were included in the crate.

kiwico atlas crate book

He was amazed at some of the facts that were included in the book.

  • The smallest country in Europe (The Vatican) is .2 square miles.
  • The longest staircase in Europe is 2 miles long (somewhere in Spain).
  • There is a bird in South America that can mimic 20 other birds and a chainsaw.

He really loves stuff like that.  He is already talking about telling his friends at school.  Sure, send them to this page!

The Map:

kiwico atlas crate world map

For a while now, we have been talking about getting Isaiah a map of the world to put in his room.  Well, thanks to KiwiCo now he has one.

Now I must get some red pins, so he can mark the places he has been in the world.  That’s only Haiti, Jamaica and the East Coast of the US at this point but there will be more.

He has been fascinated with New Zealand for some time now.  While most kids want to go to Disney or someplace like that Isaiah wants to go to New Zealand. He finally understands where it is in relation to where we live.

It’s not close at all.  It really can’t be much further away in case you’re wondering.

The map is now hanging up in his room along with his favorite Yankee players and a few other baseball related posters.  Did I mention he loves to watch and play baseball?

The Results:

It’s not a state secret that kids learn from doing and interacting.  It’s also not a secret that kids develop confidence in the topic when they learn this way.

Isaiah is a very smart young man.  I know you’re probably thinking that every dad says that about their children, but I am not just saying that.

He’s in 3rd grade and reading 6-8th-grade books.  He is very inquisitive, and most school subjects come very easy to him.  Even this crazy new way of making math more complicated than it is.

I could tell immediately that Isaiah received a confidence boost from completing this project on his own.  He took pride in his accomplishment.

Isaiah truly enjoyed the project.  I enjoyed watching him completing this project.

The globe now sits on his dresser next to all his game balls, trophies, favorite books, travel souvenirs, and baseball memorabilia.  These are all the items he takes great pride in.  The things he does not want anyone else to touch (except me).

globe kiwico atlas crate completed

That’s how I know the KiwiCo Atlas Crate is a winner in Isaiah’s eyes.  That’s good enough for me.

My children don’t believe in sleeping in.  The next morning sometime before 7 am Isaiah was in my bed reading me facts from the book and trying to identify places on the globe.  An 8-year-old reading interesting facts to his dad, while he tries to get 5 more minutes of sleep is what raising children, is all about.

Sign Up for KiwiCo Hands-On Learning Crates>>>>

Kiwico Atlas Crate Review

A Dad’s Perspective on Boscov’s – How Boscov’s Thrives

How Boscov’s Thrives When Other Retailers Struggle.   Tour the New Boscov’s in Connecticut (A Dad’s Perspective)

Disclosure:  I was invited to a bloggers event at the Post Mall in Milford CT.  The event was for the opening of a new Boscov’s in the mall.  The opinions and thoughts are mine and not influenced by anyone. 

On Saturday, October 6th, 2018 a new Boscov’s celebrates their opening in Milford CT with a ribbon cutting & grand opening celebration.

On Friday I got to meet Jim Boscov (CEO of Boscov’s) along with some of the other executives and employees of Boscov’s and the Post Mall in Milford Connecticut.

 

We also toured the new Boscov’s and learned how they can open new stores when it seems other retailers are struggling to stay open.

As I was preparing to write this I read that Mattress Firm is preparing to close 700 stores. We all know of the struggles of Sears, Kmart and Toys R Us.  It seems like retailers not named Walmart or Target are struggling.

If you watch or read the news you have probably also heard that malls are struggling, and some are.  We will get to that later.

Why Did I Choose This Event?

I was the only dad blogger in attendance.  There was only one other male attending. He was there for a fashion blog.  I chose to do this because I think it’s important to understand that men do shop.  It’s important to get a dad’s perspective on what is perceived as a women’s world.

Men prefer to get in and out when they shop.  We almost always know what we want, where to get it, and the fastest way to accomplish this.

We don’t want to spend hours browsing the racks because we have other things to do, like take naps, play with the kids and procrastinate.  These things are very important.

There were approximately 20 women in attendance.  I presume most but not all are moms.  In the blog world, we get the moms perspective far more often than we do the dads.

I chose to do this knowing that I would be one of maybe a few men there.  I chose to do this understanding that this is usually a female dominated area.  I chose to do this to give a dad’s perspective.

How Is Boscov’s Able to Open New Stores?

Boscov’s is the largest family-owned department store chain in the United States.  They have been operating for over one hundred years.

With the addition of the Milford store they now have 47 stores in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, and Connecticut.

They provide a wide array of merchandise but do this with very competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Boscov’s also understands there are some areas it’s best not to try to compete in some areas like consumer electronics and sports equipment.

Boscovs Grand Opening Event in Milford CT

Here’s Where Boscov’s Differs from the Pack

They Only Open One New Store Per Year

Boscov’s is very intentional with their growth plan, choosing to only open one store per year.

Of course, they research and review the demographics of any potential location to see if it’s a viable location.

By opening only one new store per year they can focus on building and becoming a part of the community.  This sets them apart from competitors because they’re not oversaturating the area but instead taking the time to get to know the community and understanding the location.

Boscov’s Buyers are Good at What They Do

The buyers at Boscov’s know what they’re doing.  They know how to get the best deals on merchandise that the community wants.  They have the research and the contacts to be able to provide the best deals possible.

Boscov’s prides themselves on the relationships they have built with vendors.  These relationships help them get great deals on purchases that they are ready to pass on to their customers.

We met one of the buyers who has been with Boscov’s for over 30 years and has been the buyer for three different departments.  She knew exactly what would sell in Milford Connecticut and how to get the best deal possible on it.

30 years of experience will do that.

Boscov’s Would Rather Focus on Volume Than Profit Margin

Jim Boscov told us that Boscov’s would rather focus on giving its customers better pricing because they will buy more and more often from Boscov’s.  This means lower profit margins, but it also means customers are buying more from Boscov’s.

It seems to be working in everyone’s favor.

Mens Pants at Boscovs in Milford CT

Boscov’s Cares

They say that a company’s culture starts at the top.  Jim Boscov spent time telling us about the company including stories of how they helped people out during the great depression by giving them credit to purchase from Boscov’s when there was no guarantee that they would ever pay them back.

Everyone paid them back!

As we walked around other employees greeted us, not to make commissions but just to say hi.  We toured with someone from marketing who also greeted customers in the store as she walked through.

Jim was walking around talking to customers as we toured the store.  You could tell this was not a show but something that was practiced often.

Boscov’s hired 300 people at the new store.  They brought in another 150 people from other stores to train the 300 new employees.  Not for a few days but for 3 weeks prior to opening.

I have never worked retail, but I have heard horror stories about training. I also have a training background.  Three weeks of training in retail is impressive.

As you can see they do things a little differently.

Me being me did a little research outside of the tour.  Here’s something that was not shared with us during the event.

Jim Boscov, the CEO and obviously part of the Boscov family, has worked other positions for Boscov’s including Assistant Store Manager, Store Manager, Buyer and numerous other positions over a 40-year career at Boscov’s.

I’d say It’s safe to say he worked his way up.  You can rest assured he knows the business inside and out.

The New Boscov’s in Milford Connecticut.

OK, enough about the company.  Let’s talk about the new store….from a Dad’s perspective.

They have women’s clothes, makeup and so on.  I know that dads probably don’t care much about that unless you need a gift.

Let’s talk about what we want!

Children’s Clothing

First, there is a nice assortment of children’s clothes.  I don’t shop for the kid’s clothes often but when I do I prefer it be as painless as possible.

Boscov’s does just that.  There are clothes for children from infant to young adults (teens).  There are clothes for just about any reason.

It’s easy to figure out where the clothes you’re looking for are.

And there are some great deals to be had on children’s clothes because their buyers know what they’re doing.

They do have a small department with toys from Melissa and Doug.  

Did You Say Fudge?

I had no idea…really, none.  Boscov’s has a candy bar.  They also make their own fudge.

I was fortunate enough to not only be able to try some, but I also received a box to take home.

I tried pumpkin flavored fudge.  I know what you’re thinking.  Don’t judge me.

It was amazing.

I have a problem though.  I love chocolate and peanut butter together.  I took home a box of chocolate & peanut butter fudge.  Also, unbelievable.

My wife swiped it the next morning and I have not seen it since.

They have won awards for their fudge.  If you don’t go to Boscov’s for any other reason, then go for the fudge.

Award Winning Fudge at Boscovs in Milford CT

Men’s Clothes

Yes, they have men’s clothes.  In the Milford store, it’s a little more than half of the first floor.  They have casual and suits, ties, and socks (I will get back to the socks in a few sentences).

They have outerwear and underwear.

I know what you’re thinking, so does Walmart and Target.

I loathe Walmart for so many reasons.  Target is cool but sometimes a little pricey.

Boscov’s gets it.  They’re not trying to be either store.  They are family owned and believe that their whole team is part of the Boscov’s family.

That means they do treat their employees right (Walmart does not) and are not overpriced (Target is on some things).

OK, now…I am a short and t-shirt kind of guy who can dress up, and does like to dress up, sometimes.

What I don’t like is the hassle of buying a suit and then having it altered to meet my size.

Boscov’s simplifies the suit buying process.

They have a large selection of suits and can take care of everything in the store.  They also have all the accessories you might need including ties, socks, and shoes.

I saw a large selection of ties but didn’t have a lot of time to go through them as I toured the store.  There was a large color and style selection easily visible as we walked around.

For you bow tie fans they have those too.  I am personally not a fan of bow ties.

You’re reading this so there’s a good chance you’ve read my Sprezzabox blog post where I talk about my sock addiction.  I have several resources to get my sock fix but here’s something I did not know.

Boscov’s has a wide selection of $.99 socks.  I don’t know if this is something they have in other stores, but the Milford store does.

I live 5 minutes from the Meriden Connecticut store, so I will report back to you on the availability there.

I can say with confidence that dads will have no problem filling their clothing needs here.  Sock addicts go check it out.

Socks for 99 cents at Boscovs in Milford CT

As Seen on TV

You know those commercials you see late at night with the cool air fryer or other gadgets?  Well. Boscov’s has a large As Seen on TV section where they carry all those items.

It’s really cool for us dads because there are things we would like in this section.  I saw a George Foreman grill that I will be getting.  They have lots of other household gadgets that intrigue me as well.

Free Gift Wrapping

I am not a fan of wrapping gifts.  I have become an expert at buying gift bags with tissue paper.  To make matters worse my wife also does not like wrapping gifts.

Christmas Eve is painful for us.  We procrastinate every year and complain all night about wrapping the gifts.

Boscov’s has free gift wrapping.  See you soon gift wrappers.

Jim Boscov started talking about curtains and drapes but I suddenly went deaf.  I cannot explain it.

I Am Sold

As we were touring the store I had a short conversation with Jim Boscov.  During the conversation, it came up that I live 5 minutes from the Meriden store.

He asked me what they can do better.  I didn’t have an answer for him.  My wife does most of the shopping.  I was tempted to call her, but I knew she was with clients.

He said you can be honest with me.  The only thing I could think of is I would like to see more children’s clothing though Milford seems to have quite a bit.

He genuinely cares what his customers think.  I have never spoken to the CEO of a retail chain before, but I know that most CEOs are not open to talking to customers like this.

I saw him later talking to another customer at the candy bar.  I can tell he really cares what customers have to say.

I mentioned earlier in this blog that a company’s culture starts at the top.  It’s evident to me that the biggest reason that Boscov’s continues to grow at a time when other retail chains close doors and trim the fat is the customer first culture that starts at the top.

Jim Boscov CEO of Boscovs in Milford CT

The (Connecticut) Post Mall

We also had the opportunity to meet some of the team at the Post (Formerly the Connecticut Post Mall).

The Post’s marketing and management have the mall undergoing a transformation not only physically but philosophically.

The team at the Post understands that how people shop has changed.

Yes, Amazon plays a big part in this but both Boscov’s and the Post understand that people still want to be able to shop and take home items the same day.

The Post also understands that consumers want a centralized place to do things.  The Post is becoming that place.

Shopping, dining, and entertainment are already available at the Post but they will continue to evolve to meet today’s consumer demand.

Coming soon is Muse Paintbar, Kidz Klub and Dave & Busters (conveniently they will be next to each other).

Dave & Busters is set to open in November so look for that grand opening soon.

There’s already a movie theater and plenty of places to eat.  The movie theater features some of the most comfortable seating in the state.

They also have lots of events.  During the grand opening celebration week of Boscov’s, Debby Boone will be performing a couple of times per day.

I was not aware that the Post is the largest mall in Connecticut in square space.  I do know it is a very large mall with lots to do already.

Boscov’s and the Post are proving that traditional brick and mortar can survive with a little creativity and understanding what the consumer wants.

If you’re not innovating, you’re dying.  

boscovs a dads perspective pin

The Dad Tax - Review Sprezzabox

Sprezzabox Review by The Dad Tax [Looking Good Isn’t Expensive]

Sprezzabox Review by The Dad Tax [Looking Good Isn’t Expensive]

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link o these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

I have been meaning to write this review for a few months now.  It seems like a hot topic comes up every time I sit down to write it.

I got my first Sprezzabox a while back.  Before I talk about what was in the box let me tell you why I joined and became an ambassador.

They offer a monthly subscription for men’s accessories for $28 per month.  ($25 if you pay for the full year).  In the box, you will get 5-6 items (I got 6 in my first box) that can be used in various ways and scenarios.

Sprezzabox filled with Men's Accessories arrived

As with almost everything I did some research.  I saw some great reviews and saw some negative reviews.  When I read reviews, I prefer a mix of positive and negative.  This gives me a better idea of what to expect.

I read the history of how Sprezzabox came to be.  I even looked for pictures of real box deliveries and other reviews like this one.

That’s my nature.  Before I commit to a subscription, I do the research.

After all this research I signed up as a customer.  After I got my first subscription I signed up to be an ambassador.

My First Sprezzabox

Like most people, I get excited about deliveries.  Not over the top waiting at the door for the delivery guy excited but I might check the tracking number once or twice.  (There’s no tracking for Sprezzabox).

I should also caution you I have a bit of a sock addiction.  I do also like ties and tie clips but it’s the socks that get me.  That might be a separate blog post in the future.

I finally got my first box and was not disappointed.  In the box was:

  • A Tie
  • Pair of Socks
  • Tie Clip (very interesting one)
  • A calligraphy pen
  • A notepad (my son stole it)
  • A lapel pin

Sprezzabox Men's Accessories Haul

The tie was a classic style grey and white tie that could easily be matched with most shirts.  I tend to gravitate towards brighter bolder ties but do have some ties that are a little less bold as well.

I have worn it a couple times since receiving it and have gotten compliments on it.

The socks, it’s like they get me.  I love the socks and they’re very comfortable. Who doesn’t love penguins?

The tie clip..another win.  This isn’t your average tie clip.  It is shaped like a pair of glasses.  I wore it to a wedding I went to recently and got several compliments on it.

Now, the calligraphy pen.  It might seem like a waste these days but let me tell you about my grandfather.

My grandfather was an artist, a cartoonist, and a calligraphy artist long before computers were in everyone’s home.  He taught me to write in calligraphy.

I have not practiced calligraphy for many years and probably couldn’t do it anymore, but the pen brought back some memories.  It also gave me an opportunity to talk about my grandfather with my son.

The notepad was cool.  Nothing special but if you have kids in the house then you know you can never have enough paper.  I’m the guy who stocks up on composition notebooks during back to school sales because they’re only $.50.

Isaiah appreciates the notepad more than I do.

I have not really found a use for the lapel pin yet.  It’s still sitting on my nightstand.

All in all, I think it was a good haul.  The tie and the socks would easily cost more than $28 at a retail outlet.  I lose tie clips all the time, so another tie clip is great, especially one that no one else I know has.

Get Your Sprezzabox Subscription Today>>>  Get an additional 10% off your first box by using code scottg at checkout.

The Sprezzabox Store

They also have an online store.  You don’t have to wait for your monthly subscription.  You can order some great men’s accessories from their store.  I have not placed a separate order yet but they have some great looking items on the site.

The prices are very reasonable for what they offer.  It’s your standard men’s accessories, the same that you would receive in your monthly box.  It’s a great way to go shopping without going shopping.

Visit the Sprezzabox store>>>  Use code scottg at checkout to get an additional 10% off.

Ambassador Scott

Since I felt that the first arrival was well worth the $28 and after reading other reviews it seemed logical that I sign up as an ambassador.

Ambassador is a fancy word for an affiliate in this case.  Essentially all it means is that I get paid a few dollars if you use my referral link to sign up.

I wrote in a previous blog post that I would not become an affiliate for anything that I don’t personally recommend.  That is the case here.  I personally recommend and have recommended Sprezzabox to others.

Sprezzabox Unboxing

Let’s be clear here.  I am by no means a fashionista.  My wife has to “assist” with most of my clothing choices for events that require some level of dressing up.

What you get easily justifies the cost.  I am normally a casual guy but do have occasions to wear a tie and jacket.  The socks are a different story.  I have tons of socks and wear them no matter what the OOTD is.  My wife sometimes questions my sock selection when I am wearing shorts.  I just respond with I am a dad.

I have also had very public sock wars on Instagram and Facebook.  I once dragged my son into one. You win some, you lose some.  I play to win!

I would recommend Sprezzabox to anyone who has a need for cool dress socks, ties and tie clips.  I cannot wait to see what future boxes hold.

This also makes a great gift for that special guy in your life!

If you sign up and use referral code scottg you will get an additional 10% off your first box or any store order.  Check it out here>>

The Dad Tax - Review Sorezzabox

The truth about apple cider vinegar for weight loss ig

The Truth About Apple Cider Vinegar [Will You Lose Weight?]

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link to these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

The Dad Tax Honest Review of Apple Cider Vinegar [Does it Help You Lose Weight?]

Let me start by saying I am not a doctor and I do not work in the medical field.  In fact, I have very little medical knowledge beyond my own experiences.

I have been using Apple Cider Vinegar for a couple of years now.  I originally started taking it because I was told it would help me to lose weight.

I see blog posts and claims all over the internet about people having lost weight using Apple Cider Vinegar.  I have heard about the numerous health benefits to using it as well.

Since I have been using it for over two years now I thought I would shed some light on what it does and does not do.

First, let me tell you how I use Apple Cider Vinegar.

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

This is the brand I of Apple Cider Vinegar I Use.  Get it on Amazon>>>>

I started by drinking 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar with 8 ounces of water before every meal.  Be warned, it is not at all easy to drink.

I am used to doing this now, so the taste does not really do anything to me anymore.

I still take 1 tablespoon with 8 ounces of water before lunch and dinner, but I changed up the pre-breakfast intake a little.

Before breakfast, I now take 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 tablespoons of lemon in 8 ounces of water.  If you want to understand why keep reading.

Does It Help with Weight Loss?

This claim is probably the biggest one I have seen and heard.  I have read numerous blog posts that made this claim.  I have heard it from other people.  So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

What a lot of people fail to note is that it helps with weight loss IF you do the other things that help with weight loss.  If you’re working out 3-4 times a week and eating right, you will lose weight.  You don’t need Apple Cider Vinegar for that.

Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar before a meal does make some people feel nauseous.  Feeling nauseous will make you less likely to eat.  If you eat less because you’re nauseous you will lose weight.

I did not lose weight simply by drinking Apple Cider Vinegar before meals.  I had to do the other things too.  It did not make me nauseous so that effect did not work for me.

I would not take Apple Cider Vinegar for weight loss if that is your sole intention, and you do not plan to take other steps towards weight loss.  It’s not going to have the effect you hoped for.  And depending on your tolerance for sour tasting foods you may not be able to stomach it.

If you make it part of your overall health and wellness plan then, by all means, go for it.

Does It Help with Overall Health?

After taking Apple Cider Vinegar for a few months I learned from a friend of mine that Apple Cider Vinegar raises your body’s pH.

Wait? What?  I am not a swimming pool.

Well, you kind of are.  Your body is 75% water.  Having the right pH balance in a pool helps prevent algae and other pool water problems.

Your body has the same effect when your pH levels are at an optimal level.  Having a good pH level helps fight off disease and some sickness.

In the 4 years that I have included Apple Cider Vinegar as part of my health regimen, I have only been sick once.  Considering that I have two young children that have been in preschool this is quite an accomplishment.

The first two years of your child going to a public school are a nightmare for colds and other health issues.  Isaiah’s first year of pre-k was especially tough.  He came home with something new almost weekly.

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar in Bulk

Buy Apple Cider Vinegar in Bulk>>>

I recently (within the last few months) started taking 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar with 2 tablespoons of lemon before breakfast.  This is to help raise my alkaline even more.

It’s not easy to take so some people add honey and cinnamon (each with their own health benefits).  I do not.  It takes too long for my short attention span and in my opinion, is even harder to take with the honey and cinnamon.

Any Other Benefits of using Apple Cider Vinegar?

I recently read that it helps with skin tag removal.  For this, to work you have to apply it to the area of the skin tag for one week.

I have not tried this yet but plan to.  I will update this blog post when I do.

There is an alternative to Apple Cider Vinegar in liquid form if it’s too much for you to handle.

You can get Apple Cider Vinegar in capsule form.  I have tried this before.  There’s no taste to it and I don’t really have a reason for not continuing with it except that I feel like if I taste it then it is having more of an effect on me.

This is the brand I tried but there are numerous brands available on Amazon.

Apple Cider Vinegar Capsules

Get Apple Cider Vinegar Capsules on Amazon>>>>

There’s No Miracle Pill for Weight Loss

I need to lose weight.  I could afford about 30 pounds right now.  There is no magic pill for weight loss.  If there was there would be no overweight people.

Apple Cider Vinegar is not going to help you lose weight by itself.  The tried and true exercise and eating right is what will help you lose weight.

That’s not to say that Apple Cider Vinegar does not have health benefits.  As you just read it absolutely does.

I have only been sick beyond sniffles once in 4 years.  I am someone who has experienced chronic bronchitis and other respiratory issues in the past.

For that reason alone, I continue to take it and add lemon to my morning routine.

Let me know if you use Apple Cider Vinegar for anything.

The truth about apple cider vinegar for weight loss

 

 

 

 

A Dad Tax Review - Grammarly

Want to be Humbled? Use Grammarly! [Fix Grammar Before Publishing]

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link o these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Grammarly makes me look like a grammatical genius.  It also humbles me when I go through and correct mistakes I have no idea I am making.


I have been using Grammarly for at least a couple of years now.  I have spoken about it multiple times most recently on my SEO Hackerz Podcast.  I mentioned in one of my episodes that if you want to be humbled use Grammarly.  It made perfect sense that I would become an affiliate of Grammarly.  I have probably already lost a number of sales by not doing this sooner.

Rather than sing the praises of Grammarly, which I am sure most people reading this have already read or heard, I am going to give you a few real-life scenarios of Grammarly in practice.  When I am done you will understand why you too should use Grammarly.

First, let me start by saying there are a lot of blogs and ebooks out there that could benefit from using Grammarly.  Some blogs are REALLY difficult to read.  Let me first tell you what Grammarly does.

I have read enough, I want Grammarly now>>>>

Grammarly checks and alerts to:

  • Spelling Mistakes
  • Grammatical Errors
  • Word Choice (like overusing words or using words unnecessarily)
  • Punctation
  • Plagiarism (premium account required)

Grammarly Scenario One:

When writing blog posts or any content I will usually start with Microsoft Word.  I like to save the blog posts and content locally (technically in the cloud).  Microsoft Word’s grammar correction works well but it has nothing on Grammarly.

I have been living under a rock because before I wrote this blog post I was not aware there was a Grammarly plug-in for Microsoft Word and Outlook.  Before that, I would write the post and upload it to my website.

grammarly apps

I use Google Chrome almost exclusively so it makes sense that I would have the Grammarly Chrome add-on.  Even after I have made corrections using Word’s grammar checker Grammarly always finds more.  A few of the suggestions are the result of me trying to write the blog post as a conversation.  Most of the suggestions in my case are related to the usage of punctuation and incorrect usage of hyphens.

Not to toot my own horn but I am a pretty decent speller.  I won a spelling bee in second grade!  Do they even have spelling bees anymore?

Once I copy and paste the word document into WordPress Grammarly goes to work and adds a red underline to the issues it finds.  There’s also the Grammarly icon at the lower right-hand corner of your screen.  If it is green and not spinning then there are no errors identified.  If it is red then there are errors.  It will indicate the number of errors that it finds.

Grammarly offers the correction simply by hovering over the error.  Within a few minutes, all of my poor grammar is corrected.

Now my wife won’t yell at me.  She’s the grammar police in the house.

Grammarly Scenario Two:

Sometimes I get brave, as I am with this blog post, and write the whole blog in WordPress.

You would think that by now I would have learned my lesson.

One late night writing (there seems to be a lot of those lately) my internet went out and my browser window refreshed.  A nearly 2000 word blog that I had not saved yet was gone.  My Surface almost went on an unplanned flight that day.

I digress.  As I am writing this blog post I am almost instantly alerted to errors.  This saves me time from having to go back and edit the content.  As I type the Grammarly chrome addon spins away doing its thing.

When it discovers an error I am almost instantly alerted to it.  Grammarly identifies errors before I get to the next sentence usually.  And I am a fast typer.

Now let me go save my work so far.

Get Grammarly for Your Blog>>>

Grammarly Scenario Three:

This is where Grammarly humbled me.  I was recording a podcast about repurposing content.  I went to a blog post from 4 years ago to review how updating and content for timeliness could increase your traffic.

Of course, I have the Grammarly addon in Chrome.  It immediately went to work on the blog post that I was using as an example.  The number of red underlines was scary.

On the one note, it showed how much I have grown as a writer/blogger in 4 years.  On another note, I was scared to look at other older blog posts.  What will I uncover?

grammarly while editing in WordPress

If you have content that you have not used Grammarly on I would strongly encourage you to do so, especially if there is a large gap between when you started blogging and now.

Make sure you’re sitting down before you do this.  You might pass out if your blogging early on is anything like mine.ser

Grammarly Scenario Four

We all write emails  Some of us pour over email to make sure it looks professional, has the right tone, and is grammatically correct.

I am not sure if Grammarly can help with the tone but it can help with looking professional and ensuring grammar is correct.

If you use a web-based email as I do, just use the Google Chrome plugin.  Grammarly will do the work for you and alert you to mistakes the same way it does when editing a blog post.

If you use Outlook you just need to install the Microsoft Word app.  It also works in Outlook.

We tend to be a little more careless when sending an email.  A lot of the emails I send are professional email to clients or professional clients.  Imagine sending an email to a potential client about handling their content and SEO with poor grammar and misspelling common words.

If that potential client is anything like me then I will most likely not win them over as a client.

Grammarly plays a huge part in my email correspondence.

Grammarly For Life

I love Grammarly.  It saves me from looking like a dummy all the time.  I can do that enough without grammatical errors.  Grammarly has a free plan as well as subscription plans.

The subscription plans start at just under $12/month if paid annually.  With a subscription, you get the plagiarism checker, twice as many corrections and customization based on document type.

Grammarly is a very powerful tool for business communications, blogging and content creation, and scholastic submissions.

I have been using it for several years now.  It has helped me fix poor grammar, typos, and misspellings.  It has improved my word choice and my tendency to sometimes over exaggerate a point.

Did I mention they have an app for iOS and Android?

Try Grammarly yourself and I am sure you will agree too!  If you use Grammarly already share your experience in the comments!!


Correct all grammar errors with Grammarly!

Want to be Humbled_ Use Grammarly! [Fix Grammar Before Publishing]

 

 

Surface Pro 4 Review from the Dad Tax

A Tech Dad’s Review of the Surface Pro 4 [Fat Fingers & All]

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link o these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

There are lots of computers in my house.  I might have a problem.

I have one computer running CentOS (Linux) as a dedicated Plex Server.  If you have a Plex server or are considering it trust me when I tell you Linux is the way to go.  I have tried both Windows and Linux and it runs so much better on Linux.  It is a little harder to set up and manage but it runs great.  I am using a 10-year-old Dell with 4 GB of RAM and I never have a problem.

I have several older laptops that all now run Linux (sensing a theme yet?).  Either CentOS or Kali.  We’ll get to Kali another time.  Don’t ask questions.

I have my main laptop which I call my beast.  It’s an Asus Gaming machine but I don’t game.  I got it more for photo and video editing.  It has 24GB of RAM, an i7 processor, and an awesome video card.  It has a 17-inch screen and Windows 10.

This is the closest I could find on Amazon.


I have had it for about 3.5 years now and it has been great.  It’s so awesome that my wife often commandeers it to do her school work or enter notes for her job.

So what’s a dad to do when his wife commandeers his main laptop?  The one he does most of what he does on?

The two Linux based laptops are not really set up for what I do professionally.  They’re hobby machines and the kids use them for some things.

I also do travel sometimes and my Asus is heavy.  So if I am in NYC walking around I don’t want to lug it with me.

Enter the Surface Pro

Here’s what I decided.  I needed something that was light but still powerful enough to do most of my tasks.  I was not going to use Photoshop or some of my other more resource hogging software on the computer.  Having something that could also act as a tablet would be great.  I do like to read sometimes and having all my books in Kindle is awesome to me.

Yes, I do have real books too.

I did some research.  I considered an iPad and Keyboard set up.  I have tried this before and didn’t really like it.  I feel the iPad is too restrictive. My kids have iPads (technically one of them is mine) and I am really not impressed.  I am team Android.

I researched a few other models of tablet type computers from Dell and Lenovo.  I was really trying to avoid going to Microsoft.  Then one day I tried one.

The Surface Pro 4 rocks.  It’s fast, it’s very light. It can easily be used as a tablet.

I made the leap to a Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

While I still use my Asus a lot I now have a laptop that I don’t mind switching to when the Asus is being used by my wife.  I have a laptop that I can easily travel with and still have room for other things in my backpack.  I do have to bring other tech toys too you know.

 


 

This is the model I purchased.  It came with the following:

  • 256 GB SSD Drive.  I still like more storage space
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • i5 Processor
  • 12.3 Inch Screen (very high resolution)
  • Battery lasts for a few days on standby and I can easily go 3-4 hours of constant usage before having to consider plugging it in
  • Very responsive touch screen

Get the Surface Pro 4 at Amazon>>>>

The detachable keyboard is great. It’s so easy to attach and detach.

I have had it for over a year now with no issues.

My only complaints are the keyboard is a little small for my big hands.  I almost always use full-size keyboards so there is a bit of an adjustment when I switch to the Surface Pro.

And there is only one USB port.  I am not sure if other models have more.

What Do I Use it For?

Of course, I write blog posts and content for myself and my clients.  I wrote this blog post on it last night.

Google Chrome is always open with at least 10 tabs.

I have Office 365 installed and use Excel all the time, and Word when I am putting longer posts together.

I read books using Kindle.

I watch shows and movies using Netflix, Hulu, and Plex.  The resolution and display are great for this.

I use it for learning.  I have a few dozen courses to go through in Udemy still and some other stuff I need to get through.

It Makes a Great College Gift!!

I know it’s back to school time for a lot of families in the US.  I thought it was a good time to share this with other dads and families who need a reliable and efficient solution for their college students computer needs.

No need to lug a desktop up to the dorm anymore.  The Surface Pro is light and fast.  The facial recognition feature is a great theft deterrent bonus as well.  It recognizes my face quickly but prevents others from being able to log in.

I still do some IT for families that I have had as clients for many years.  I have watched their kids grow up and go off to college.

When the kids go off to college the parents always ask me what would be a good computer to send them off with.   In the last year, I have recommended the Surface Pro exclusively.

It’s powerful enough to get the job done, versatile enough to take the place of a tablet and a TV, and light enough to run from class to class.  We all know college students are always late for class.

 

In case you’re wondering, no I will not help you salvage your old desktop into a Plex server.

If you have or decide to purchase a Surface Pro let me know what you think!  Do you fat finger everything like I do?

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review

 

 

 

 

review rxbar chocolate sea salt

RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar, Chocolate Sea Salt [An Honest Review]

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link o these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

As someone who is borderline diabetic, and somewhat struggles with controlling it, I am constantly searching for snacks that both taste good and satisfy me.

review rxbar chocolate sea salt

Let me first start by explaining that statement.  I don’t talk about being diabetic often.  I am type 2.  The doctor says it’s diet controlled.  A few years he prescribed Metformin for me and I had to track my blood sugar.  Not a fan.  I stopped taking Metformin after a few months and stopped tracking my blood sugar.

I don’t recommend doing this for everyone.  My situation is unique.  I know the signs when my blood sugar is too high and for the most part, I avoid the things that I should avoid.  I cut things with added sugar out almost completely.  I drink at least a gallon of water per day.  I drastically cut the carbs.  I am controlling it.

For those that don’t know sugar tends to have the opposite effect on diabetics.  What I mean is if my kids eat something with sugar they are bouncing off the walls.  If I eat something with sugar I need a nap.

I plan on adding my diabetic journey to this blog in the future.  For now, that’s all you get.

I saw RXBars being advertised on Instagram and thought I would try it.


With protein bars, it’s always hit or miss.  Some of them are nasty and barely edible while others I can eat.

Many times protein bars are not much better than a candy bar.  Those are usually the ones that taste good.

I do have a thing for chocolate & peanut butter together.  Let’s be honest, most of us do.  I love peanut butter.

Any protein bar that can pull this off is OK in my book.

RXBar was not able to pull this off for me.  But I did not completely give up on them.

I tried the Chocolate Sea Salt flavor and was surprised that this one did taste better to me.

I should caution you.  The texture of the RXBars is not for everyone.  If you have eaten the power bars that have been around forever then you’re probably familiar with what I mean.  Think Airheads meets Snickers with a lot less taste.  They’re not the easiest thing in the world to eat but you can get used to them.  RXBars are similar in texture and will probably leave you picking some off your teeth.

When you look at the ingredients though you feel better after eating them.

3 Egg Whites

6 Almonds

4 Cashews

2 Dates

No BS

RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar, Chocolate Sea Salt

Order your RXBars on Amazon>>>

Those ingredients are healthy food lovers’ dream come true.  If you read my review of Gatorade Recover then you know that I do usually eat healthily but also have a sweet tooth.  I also love my Italian food, Pizza, and Burgers so that makes eating healthy a challenge sometimes.

For the borderline diabetic in me, there is no added sugar.  What you see on the label is what you get.

There is also:

  • No Gluten
  • No Dairy
  • No Artificial Flavors
  • No Preservatives
  • And Non-GMO

It is important to note that this is not considered a low-calorie meal replacement.  Almonds and Cashews tend to be very high in calories but also great for your heart health.

There are other flavors.  I have tried Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip and was not really impressed.  Apple Cinnamon intrigues me but I have not had the courage to try it yet.

Now I order these by the case from Amazon.  They are great especially if I am on the run or going somewhere that I know there will be food that I should not eat.  I pack a few for long road trips so that I am not forced to eat whatever is available at the rest stops (though some of them have started carrying these it’s still less expensive to purchase them by the case on Amazon).

As I still work through my diet (I hate that word) these have become a regular part of the diet over the last few months.  They don’t taste like cookies so don’t get your hopes up if that is what you’re looking for but they are good enough to eat routinely as a snack (and I have replaced a meal with them a few times).

Individually I am a fan of all the ingredients in RXBars.  That makes it a little easier for me to like them.  If you do not like nuts or are allergic to nuts then these are not the right choice for you.

 

roku premier plus vs amazon fire stick

Which Streaming Media Player is Right for You? Roku or Amazon Firestick

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link o these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Roku Ultra

It was not long ago that cable companies dominated the market, providing hundreds of channels for millions of consumers. However, with the price of cable and satellite services like Dish and Direct TV skyrocketing, more people are turning to streaming media services. A streaming media player generally costs far less compared to cable or satellite services, but which one works best for you?

Today, three of the major streaming services, Roku, Amazon Firestick, and Apple TV all offer substantial programming, although there may be some limitations when compared to traditional cable and satellite services. So, it is important to choose the right one for your needs in getting the best value for what you spend.

Roku Ultra

Get It Now>>

Roku was one of the first and is arguably the most recognizable name in streaming services. First released in 2008, Roku offers a small stick that can be plugged into any compatible TV so that you can access online programming which currently consists of the following services;

  • Amazon Prime Video, CinemaNow, and Google Play
  • HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix, and more

The device works on any HDTV that offers an HDMI interface and is compatible with Apple iOS and Android systems. You can access over 500,000 movies and TV episodes. Plus, it uses a voice remote with easy navigation to find what you want quickly.

Advantages

  • Offers HD, HDR, and 4K
  • Send content from mobile device to TV, including photos
  • Provides a wide range of content, including popular online video and music services

Disadvantages

About the only reported disadvantage is that Roku has a higher than the usual number of defective sticks or streaming media players compared to the competition. However, the number is still relatively small, and Roku offers free replacement for defective devices.

Get the Roku Ultra for just $99

Amazon Firestick with Alexa Voice Assistance

The classic Amazon Firestick offers an exceptional amount of programming which can be accessed by the Alexa assistant for voice control. The stick was designed to access channels, apps, and even play games all using the voice commands that Alexa provides. Some of the services the firestick offers include the following;

  • Amazon Video, HBO Now, and Hulu
  • Netflix, YouTube, and more

The app that comes with the Amazon Firestick can turn an Android, iOS, or Fire device into a remote using Alexa. If your TV has an HDMI interface, then you can plug in the Firestick.

Amazon Firestick

Advantages

  • Alexa voice control is easy to use
  • Firestick provides a wide range of content

Disadvantages

About the only real disadvantage, especially considering the low price, is that the device only goes up to 1080p resolution at 60 fps. This means for ultra-high-quality signals, this device will not provide full resolution.

Note: There is the advanced version, Fire TV with 4K resolution that offers the Alexa Voice Remote. Plus, it is designed to deliver 4K with built-in Dolby Atmos. Its cost is $69.99.

Get It Now>>>>

As for Me?

I prefer the Roku, hands down.  I have been using the Roku since the original one came out.  I now have several Roku boxes and a Roku TV in my office.  I can load all of my streaming services easily and the kids are able to use it without issue.

gatorade recover chocolate

Gatorade Recover Protein Shake (For Runners)

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link o these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

OK, let’s call it like it is.  I am a runner.  Sometimes.

I love the feeling I have after an exhausting run.  If you run you know that feeling.  The feeling of accomplishment.  The feeling of the endorphins being released into your body. Being covered in sweat never felt so good.

There’s only one problem that does not creep up until the next day usually.  Muscle soreness.  And that’s where Gatorade Recover Protein Drink comes in.

I always feel so much lighter and better after a run but…

gatorade recover chocolate

Am I capitalizing on the gains from that run or am I going to go destroy the accomplishment with a crappy meal?

Will I run again tomorrow or the next day?  Will the soreness derail me for a few days?

How do I know I operated at peak performance?  I do use a heart rate monitor and step counter but the heart rate is a wrist monitor and not working 100% accurately.

The problem is I am not the greatest eater in the world.  I do love snacks.  Now I know where my kids get it from.

For the most part, I eat clean and healthy.  I drink at least a gallon of water a day.  I am the guy at BJs or Restaurant Depot stocking up on the cases of Poland Springs one gallon jugs and I drink at least one of those a day.  I love leafy greens, especially spinach and broccoli.

My weaknesses are things like cannolis and pasta.  We have Friday night pizza as a family (I do limit myself these days).

I tell you these things because I believe I am like a lot of fathers out there.  I am pulled in a million directions when I am with the kids.  I work.  I play.  I coach.  And I try to run and/or work out (mostly cardio) when I can.  I try to be healthy but it’s not always possible.

The purpose of this blog is to create a community of dads who understand what the dad tax is, and if I can make a few bucks along the way that’s great.

After 3 miles or more on the treadmill, I am almost ready for some replenishment.  I know that eating solids, even protein, is not the best course of action after a run.

But it takes forever (it seems that way when you also want to get in the shower) to make a protein shake.  That’s why I started drinking Gatorade Recover Protein Shakes.

I prefer chocolate but have tried all of the flavors and they all taste great.  I can drink one in a few seconds and this replenishes me.  It also provides the protein you should get after a good cardio workout.  Here’s the nutrition info.

  • Waste nothing; Get the protein you need to help rebuild your muscles so you can recover and come back strong
  • 20 grams of protein per serving
  • Drink what the pros drink
  • 11.6 Ounce Bottles, 12 Pack
  • After workout shake available in chocolate, vanilla, cookies and cream, chocolate peanut butter, and strawberry.
  • Each shake is 280 calories.

It comes from a brand that we have all grown to trust over the years and it tastes great.

By the way, that hot shower after a run is AMAZING!