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This month’s faves are:
My first fave is a biggie. Yes it’s expensive but it’s so worth it in my opinion. Our Intex pool has been such a Godsend during the Summer. This is our fourth Intex pool in about 15 years. The pool we use for our family of four is 18 foot x 52 inches. It fits us and our kid’s friends very comfortably. The height is perfect for us as it’s not so low like most of the easy set pools and as you can see it fits a ton of floaties.
You may be wondering why anyone would choose to buy a pool that they’re going to have to set up and tear down each year. For our family it just made sense because we didn’t want the long-term commitment with a regular pool. We wanted the freedom to be able to not take care of a pool if we didn’t want to. If we didn’t want to bother with it one Summer we simply wouldn’t put it up. Of course we did put it up every Summer. A couple of years ago we considered putting in a permanent pool but with the kids getting older and spending less time in the pool it didn’t make sense to spend the money. That’s why we decided to go with the Intex steel frame pool.
This pool is set up differently than the Easy Set Pools. Those, after leveling the area, you inflate the ring, fill it up and you’re good to go. This pool takes a little longer to set up but it’s not too bad. First of all if this is your first pool you need to make sure to take the time to prepare your site. You definitely want to level the entire area that the pool will sit on. Even a tiny slope can be a big deal when it comes to leveling the pool so take your time to do it right. We used a water level when we first prepared the area so we’ve only had to do minor tweaks here and there to maintain it.
The frame goes together relatively easy, my hubby and I did it in under an hour. You need to spend a little bit of time smoothing out the wrinkles on the bottom, something you will be thankful you did once the pool is filled. Speaking of filled, we use our well to fill our pool. It takes about a week, running it a bit each day to get it full. You can definitely use a pool water service if this isn’t an option for you.
Another thing we love about this pool is the filter. This pool uses a sand filter and it works so much better than the cartridge filters. After using both filter types I can honestly say this is the way to go. It’s much more cost effective because you fill it with the recommended sand at the beginning of the season and you’re set whereas cartridge filters need replaced all the time. We ended up rinsing our cartridges and reusing them to save money but water quality sometimes wasn’t perfect. The sand filter keeps the pool water so much cleaner all season long.
This is our third Summer with this particular pool and it’s still in great shape. We make sure to take care of the pool. We’re careful putting it up, taking it down and storing it over Winter. Some folks keep this kind of pool up all year and if you have pretty consistent weather that’s fine. We have four seasons here in South Central PA. so we choose to take ours down in the Fall. I don’t want to have it exposed to all the weather variables over the 8 months we wouldn’t be using it so keeping it out of the elements is a priority.
If you are looking into getting a pool or have even just started thinking about it I highly recommend checking this one out. It’s a great size and easy to take care of.
Premier protein shakes
Okay, full disclosure here… I probably never would have found this product if I wasn’t on Weight Watchers or on Instagram. It’s because of the two that I found this food chameleon.
First of all, you do not need to be on a diet to use or enjoy this shake.
Secondly, I do not use this alone. I use it with other ingredients.
Third, it’s readily available at places like Walmart, Target and even Amazon.
So let me tell you why Premier Protein Shakes are one of my July faves. I’m a coffee drinker. My coffee consists of 10.5 oz. of coffee plus loads of flavored creamer. When I restarted W.W. back in February I could not skip tracking coffee on the new plan. I had never tracked my coffee routine on the previous plan and I still lost 25+ pounds. This time things were different and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get by slipping it in under the radar. My daily coffee routine was eating up half my points for the day!! I had to make a change.
My first change came when I found Skinny Syrups. I was finally able to add flavor to my coffee without adding any points. While this was a huge win for me I still needed something to add creaminess to my coffee. That was a big part of my love affair with my old coffee. When I saw Premier Protein Shakes being posted on Instagram by Weight Watchers members I was intrigued and I couldn’t wait to check them out.
I will admit that when I first looked at them I was a little disappointed to see that they cost around $8 for a four pack. I tried to figure out how much I’d need for my coffee and how I was going to explain to my hubby why I needed to spend $8 a week on coffee creamer.
Well I took a chance on them and I finally have coffee that satisfies my requirements. For starters it doesn’t cost any more than regular creamer would. As a matter of fact, I think it costs less! A four pack of shakes lasts 3 – 4 weeks. Yes, you read that correctly. I spent around $10 every two weeks on regular creamer. That comes out to about $20 in a month. Now I spend $8 every 3 – 4 weeks or $16 if I need to replenish in a month.
One shake lasts about a week when used with my Skinny Syrup and a splash of fat free half and half. I prefer the vanilla flavor which adds a richness to all my syrup flavors. I have used the caramel shake and like it but all of my syrups have caramel flavor so it’s kind of overkill.
You’re probably asking “Well why would I use it if I’m not on a diet?”. That’s a great question. These shakes can be used in a variety of ways. You can drink them plain, freeze them then thaw and eat as a slushy or even bake with them. They can take the place of milk or cream in recipes.
Each shake contains 30g of protein. That protein comes from a combination of whey protein and casein protein. Most flavors are only 160 calories with 5g of carbs. Those carbs include 3g of fiber. Each shake also has only 3g of total fat and 1g sugar. All of this combines to give you a satisfying shake that won’t raise your blood sugar levels. And they are gluten and soy ingredient free.
Some of the ways to use these shakes aside from using them as coffee creamer, is:
- Use one vanilla shake, one sugar free or regular packet of Orange Crush Singles To Go and ice. Blend together and enjoy.
- Combine two shots of espresso with a caramel shake pour over ice and enjoy.
- Combine frozen strawberries and a banana with a bananas and cream shake, add ice and blend.
- Blend a chocolate shake with 2 Tbsp peanut butter.
- And there are even more recipes you can find online.
There are plenty of flavors to try, too. Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Bananas and Cream, Caramel, Vanilla, Peaches and Cream and Strawberries and Cream. Let me know if you’ve tried Premier Protein Shakes and which flavor is you favorite.
A fave for craft painters
My third and final July fave is a revolving Craft Paint Storage Rack. You can find it here. Anyone who uses the 2 oz. bottles of craft paint will love this paint rack. It is the best way to store your paint collection. I have had my paint rack for about 17 years! It still looks like I bought it yesterday.
What I love about this rack is that paint hoarders (like me) know how much room those bottles can take up. A few bottles aren’t too bad but once you start getting a collection going they quickly take up precious space in your craft area, especially horizontal space! Try setting them out on your desk. A collection like mine would swallow up my work space. By storing them vertically in the rack you are freeing up a ton of space to actually be able to work at.
The rack holds 112 2 oz. bottles of paint. This is pretty much the standard size bottle. It’s very easy to pull a bottle out to check the color and replace it. No more knocking three bottles over when trying to pick a color. And don’t worry about the way the bottles are tilted. As long as the cap is tight and closed you won’t have any problems with leakage. I have never had one leak in 17 years!
The revolving rack spins freely and should be placed on a sturdy flat surface for best performance. It gets heavy with 112 bottles in it! I used to have mine arranged by color (which is the best way to know where to grab your bottles from) but with the kiddos grabbing colors all the time and the craft room re-arrangement it’s gotten a little mixed up. Still it is an absolute must in my opinion.
If you are a craft painter or know someone who is I highly recommend investing in one or even giving one as a gift. The amount of storage space saved is more than enough reason to get one but the time saved when looking for a color is a close second!