Product Review – Smart Tiles

If you have ever moved into a new house, there are always little (and sometimes big) projects that you have to attend to and some that you want to update just to make the house a more personal representation of your family.

Well the funny thing is we have been in our house for 12 years and made all kinds of upgrades throughout except for one area….our kitchen.  I know, I know,,,that is the one area you should update right away.  Honestly the kitchen itself was fine and didn’t really need updating per se.  It was more the back splash area of the kitchen that needed to be addressed.  It seemed like every year upgrading that area was on my summer projects list, but I never got around to doing anything with the area, as I was not comfortable with mixing adhesive, spreading it out evenly, using a trowel and then grouting the tile.  I am a fairly handyman, but for some reason applying tile anywhere just seemed like a chore when it involved all of those steps.

I knew there were easier solutions available, but I was concerned about the quality of peel and stick tiles.  Would they look cheap?  Would they hold up?  How does the cost compare to traditional ceramic tiles?  Are they really that easy to install?  Well, enter Smart Tiles!

My wife and I decided it was time to finally address our kitchen back splash and we decided to use Smart Tiles, as they met all of our needs that we were looking for in a product.  They look amazing and our friends thought they were ceramic tiles.  They are durable.and they even come with a warranty.  Pricing is a huge concern for any homeowner and that was one thing that kept us away from traditional ceramic tiles.  Smart Tiles were created for those with a budget in mind, but unlike other peel and stick tiles, Smart Tiles quality is just as good as traditional ceramic.  Are they easy to install….well that is the biggest issue we were concerned about. Simply put, it cannot be easier.  Open the box, peel the backing off and stick on the wall (make sure to clean the wall first).

Honestly, it is that easy.  As you can see in our photo gallery, there are areas that you have to cut to fit, but that process is easy too.  We started out using a utility knife, but found that using sharp scissors worked just as well.  The entire process took a few hours but that is probably because I am such a perfectionist that I made sure to measure things 5x before I made cuts and applied the Smart Tiles to the walls!

I have to say that if you are interested in upgrading your kitchen, bathroom, or heck anywhere really, we highly recommend using Smart Tiles.  They have colors and styles for every need, it is just a matter of choosing which product best reflects your style.

We did receive the Smart Tiles in exchange for this review, but if you check out the before and after pictures, you will see that Smart Tiles are an amazing product and something you need to consider as you upgrade your personal areas of your house.  We will be using more Smart Tiles for a bathroom upgrade in the future so stay tuned!!



HOTEL REVIEW – The Maven Hotel – Denver, CO

Recently we took an epic trip out west from Illinois.  We drove through a total of 10 states! It was an amazing adventure, but was also exhausting being in the car so much. Lucky for us we had a cure for our driving fatigue–The Maven Hotel in Denver, Colorado. 

Located in the heart of the Dairy Block in LoDoliterally across the street from Coors Field, The Maven is in an outstanding location in Downtown Denver. The area around the hotel is a world-class destination for shopping, dining, hospitality and local business.

There was a Colorado Rockies baseball game the night of our stay so the area was full of energy and excitement. We couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us.

Entering the lobby was like walking into an art gallery. There were so many pieces of art to view I couldn’t decide where to look. Even with the sleek gallery-type atmosphere, I felt comfortable and welcome.


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HOTEL REVIEW – The Hotel Fullerton Anaheim

In the past week, we have traveled through Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and finally California. Yes, all of that in just a few days! Feel exhausted just reading that? Well, the perfect cure for this exhaustion is The Hotel Fullerton Anaheim. 

Located on the edge of Anaheim, California, The Hotel Fullerton Anaheim is just minutes from the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim Convention Center, and Cal State Fullerton.

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HOTEL REVIEW – The Orleans Hotel and Casino Las Vegas Review

Recently on a trip out west, we had the chance to stay at The Orleans Hotel and Casino Las Vegas. 

Located just off the south end of the strip, The Orleans Hotel and Casino Las Vegas was a welcome site after a long day of driving.  It was very easy to drive to from the interstate and is just minutes from the airport.

The hotel has everything you would expect when vacationing in Las Vegas including a pool, a fitness center, shopping, 15 dining locations, several bars and of course, plenty of gaming.

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HOTEL REVIEW – Drury Inn and Suites Colorado Springs Near the Air Force Academy

If you are traveling to the Colorado Springs area for business or pleasure, be sure to stay at the Drury Inn and Suites Colorado Springs Near the Air Force Academy. This hotel has everything you expect when staying at a Drury Inn and Suites-great service, amenities like a free hot breakfast (love that waffle maker!), evening kickback (today they were serving baked potatoes, salad, hotdogs, and a taco bar), spacious rooms, and free wifi.  Adults can even enjoy a complimentary cocktail. These are perks that you just don’t get at other hotels.

This location is close to so many local points of interest such as the US Air Force Academy Visitor Center (4 miles), Garden of the Gods (11 miles), Red Rock Canyon (13 miles), the United States Olympic Training Center (14 miles), and Pikes Peak (20 miles). The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Ghost Town Wild West Museum are close as well. There are just so many wonderful things to see and do.

When it is time to come back and put your feet up to relax, then the Drury Inn and Suites Colorado Springs Near the Air Force Academy is the perfect location.

You can grab a bag of popcorn and a soda in the lobby or take a dip in the indoor/outdoor pool. What could be better than sitting poolside looking up at the beautiful mountains, especially when you are from the extremely flat midwest.  Check out this amazing view of the mountains from our room!

Drury Inn and Suites are known for their quality and standard of excellence.  Because of this, you will truly enjoy your stay at the Drury Inn and Suites Colorado Springs Near the Air Force Academy.


Drury Inn & Suites Colorado Springs Near the Air Force Academy

HOTEL REVIEW – Bavarian Inn Custer, SD

If you a planning a trip to the west, specifically the Mt. Rushmore area, then you simply must stay at the Bavarian Inn in Custer, South Dakota. Every summer we travel from Illinois to Florida for vacation. This year we decided to mix it up and headed the other direction.  I am so glad that as part of this trip we stayed at the Bavarian Inn.

Located in Custer, SD, this hotel was just minutes from some of the best tourist sites in the area. We had visited Mt. Rushmore (15 miles away) and passed Crazy Horse Memorial (3.2 miles away) on the drive to the hotel. The inn was a welcome site after a long day of traveling and site seeing.  A 2016 winner of the tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence, the Bavarian Inn is quaint, yet has modern amenities. One example of that, are charging stations and outlets embedded into both sides of the bedside table.

We were greeted by the friendly staff and saw several people watering flowers and taking care of the landscape. That is standard of excellence we look for in a hotel. If you are willing to take care of the flowers, then I know you are willing to take care of me as a guest. The hotel lobby has several tables to relax with a complimentary cup of coffee or tea or a cookie during “Cookie Happy Hour.”

There are two pools (one indoor and one heated outdoor), tennis courts, basketball hoop, and a playground. There are also two decks to enjoy as well as cute tables and chairs right outside the room door. You can’t help but relax during your stay.

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TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards Showcase The World’s Best Amusement Parks And Water Parks

 TripAdvisor®, the travel site that helps you find the latest reviews and lowest prices, today announced the winners of its Travelers’ Choice® awards for Amusement Parks and Water Parks. Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for amusement parks and water parks worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.

“The Travelers’ Choice award-winning parks deliver thrill-filled excitement and splashy entertainment for those travelers seeking ideas for where to go for summer fun,” said Brooke Ferencsik, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor. “The best part is that TripAdvisor allows travelers to discover the most popular rides, book admission and even purchase skip-the-line tickets so they can get to the fun faster.”

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HOTEL REVIEW – Sheraton Parsippany, NJ

Recently my family and I found ourselves traveling out east from Central Illinois.  We were celebrating our daughter’s birthday and high school graduation and wanted to make it memorable.  Part of that memory was a stay at the amazing Sheraton Parsippany Hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey.

This hotel is located just 30 minutes from Newark International Airport and 25 miles from New York City.  It was immediately apparent as we approached the building why this hotel is called “The Castle.”  WOW!  The architecture is unbelievable.  This is not your average chain hotel along the highway.  Not even close!  You just have to see it in person to really appreciate the unique style. You will be blown away!

We were greeted by the friendly staff and were quickly checked in and given our room keys.  We decided to explore a bit and took a walk around the gorgeous lobby.  Everything is top notch with plenty of spaces to meet friends and family and to relax and unwind.  Since we missed dinner on our travels, we couldn’t wait to get our bags dropped off and head to the new restaurant, AMUSE.  This restaurant had a menu with options for even the pickiest eater as well as a full service bar.  Since we had been in the car for over 14 hours, we were not in our formal attire….which was fine because AMUSE had everyone from weary travelers to romantic couples to business women and men and and those who just wanted a cocktail at the bar. AMUSE  took the stress off of all of our shoulders after fighting traffic, construction, and crazy drivers all day long.

After dinner, we ventured back to the room to finally put our feet up.  Our room was on the 6th floor so we had access to the Sheraton Club Lounge.  My daughter and I grabbed a cup of coffee for the room.  The perfect nightcap for us. The Sheraton Club Lounge allows guests to get  complimentary hot and cold breakfast daily, evening hors d’oeuvres, and a variety of drink options.  We missed the evening hors d’oeuvere hours, but were excited for breakfast the next morning.

Don’t worry though if you are not staying on the Club Level because there are plenty of amenities throughout the property like indoor and outdoor pools, a sun deck, tennis courts and racquetball, nearby golf, a fitness center, and a business center.  The list could go on and on.  As far as our actual room, I don’t even know where to start.  The room was so spacious, comfortable, and immaculate.  I doubt one speck of dust could have been found!  The bathroom was large and there was plenty of counter space for all of our supplies.  The bed was literally plush and the pillows were perfect.  I guarantee a great night’s sleep.

Finally, our trip was made extra special because of the outstanding service provided by the staff of the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel.  They went out of their way to make this a special trip for our daughter.  She was greeted with a lovely graduation surprise waiting for her in the room that she will never forget.  I can’t stop thinking about her smile that evening.  We owe that smile to Russell Clarke and the amazing team at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel.

I just can’t say enough good things about our stay. I highly recommend that you stay at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel next time you are traveling to the Newark/New York City area. I know I am looking forward to going back.

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