IHOP Extends Their All You Can Eat Pancakes Thru February 12! Win A Gift Card, Too!

The anticipation has been building since fans took to social media last year to beg IHOP® Restaurants to bring back ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes.’ So, to thank loyal Breakfastarians everywhere, today IHOP announced the extension of this wildly popular promotion, which lets guests dig into unlimited orders of its freshly made, world-famous Buttermilk Pancakes for a great price* until February 12!   

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

How many can you eat?

Just in time to gather family and friends and celebrate the New Year, IHOP’s ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ offer features a great value on the fluffy, golden pancakes that set the breakfast standard almost six decades ago. After enjoying a full stack of five Buttermilk pancakes or a short stack of two pancakes with a combo plate of eggs, golden hash browns and choice of sausage, ham or hickory-smoked bacon guests can request additional short stacks of two Buttermilk pancakes until they’ve fulfilled their craving. ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ is available all day, every day for the month of January at participating IHOP restaurants nationwide.


all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

all you can eat pancakes at ihop

All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP Thru February 12. How Many Can You Eat?

“The best way we know to kick off the New Year is to offer our guests’ favorite freshly made breakfast at IHOP’s best value.  Almost six decades after serving our first stack of delicious, made-to-order Original Buttermilk Pancakes, IHOP continues to bring people together,” said Kirk Thompson, senior vice president, Marketing, IHOP. “Every year our guests look forward to IHOP’s ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ offer, asking for the return of a great value on our signature pancakes, to be enjoyed any time of day, every day, for the entire month.”


*Dine-in only. All You Can Eat offer valid per person, per order. For a limited time. Price and participation varies.

Win a $25 IHOP Gift Card!

One of my readers will win a $25 IHOP Gift Card so they can eat all they can eat pancakes! Just use the Giveaway Tools form below to enter. Giveaway is for US residents only. 

Using Technological Innovations To Your Advantage

It’s no secret that the modern world is full of a diverse array of innovation. From computers to smartphones, smart cars to thermostats which are connected to the web via the IoT (Internet of Things)…heck even engineering supplements to improve the ultimate machine, the human brain, it truly is a “brave new world”.

Remaining secure in this brave new world can be accomplished through available upgrades. Consider smart-home technology, as an example. From solar panels to garage doors, internal thermostats, and more, wireless internet technology is making the future a reality.

Did you forget to close the garage? Just pull out your smartphone and swipe your finger across the screen; they’ve got an app for that. Likewise, you can also control the temperature of your home remotely. Turn off maintenance systems while away to save utility costs, then turn them on as you’re coming home so the house is nice and toasty (or refreshingly cool) when you arrive.

The Solar Angle

Today, solar panels are less expensive than they’ve ever been before. In fact, though current estimates put the average cost of solar technology at about seventy cents per Watt, by the end of 2017 that number is supposed to be down to thirty-six cents per Watt.

Just to put that in perspective, a 3.1 kWh solar system currently increases property value as much as $18,000, or more. 3.1 kWh is 3,100 Watts per hour, or 3,100 multiplied by .36, for a total of $1,116. Certainly, by the end of 2017, the value added by making the solar switch probably won’t be so great. Still, right now there’s a sixteen-fold increase on such an investment.

Now, with solar technology, you’re going to need a charge controller, an energy sink (think: car battery), and a power inverter to convert the energy in the sink to regular home use. It’s conceivable that you could properly accommodate a 3.1 kWh system for under three thousand dollars.

So, if you go that route, and refrain from installation, you’re looking at a $5,000-or-less investment that raises the value of your property as much as $18,000. That’s more than threefold.

For the elderly individual looking to maximize profits from selling a home, or to ensure it has the greatest value before it is turned over to other members of the family, going the solar route has financial advantages to recommend it.

Keeping Safe

You’ll likely be able to increase the value of your solar panel system based on the property’s needs. The more solar energy you buy, the greater your property’s value. It becomes sustainable at that point. You don’t need grid power.

But there are aspects of grid living which shouldn’t be entirely avoided; like emergency services. The fact is, there is a high statistical likelihood that eventually you’re going to need some help from the cops, or the fire department, or a local hospital.

One of the best ways to ensure you can be served by all three, and without getting a “life alert” or some other unhandy device, is through a good fire alarm system. It’s more than just a smoke detector.

Many agencies today have noticed there’s a crossover between fire alarm services, and burglar alarm services. Securing your home is the ultimate goal of both, so why not consolidate service offerings?

It’s easy enough to have both installed in one fell swoop; and getting appraisals should be cost-free, as a general rule. According to Alpha Fire Alarm Systems, who offer security camera system installation in NJ, “we can provide you with a free estimate and no-cost risk assessment at your business or home.” Now is the time to use technological innovations to your advantage. What types of technology do you use in your home?

The Big Zombie Tour 2 with Atlanta Movie Tours Review

Our tickets were comped by Atlanta Movie Tours so that I could write this review, but all opinions are mine. 

The Walking Dead. I absolutely love that show. I love it so much that we watched all the episodes from season 1 through season 6 over the summer. I am itching to see the season 7 premiere. October 22 can’t get here fast enough! To say that I am a fan is, well, an epic statement.  So, when Fabgrandpa was in the hospital back in August, we were talking about The Walking Dead with two nurses who were in the process of removing the catheter from his leg. One of them asked me if I had been on any of the Zombie Tours yet. And I said, “No! I didn’t even know they had tours.” She said her mother works for Atlanta Movie Tours, and we talked a little bit about it. You never know what you are going to learn from talking about things you love. 

So, I got in touch with Atlanta Movie Tours, and worked out a plan for doing a review of Big Zombie Tour #2. Fabgrandpa still did not feel well enough to go, so I asked my daughter, Emily, if she wanted to go with me. Even though she is a teacher, and it was on a school day, she took the day off as a personal day so she could go. She is an even bigger fan of The Walking Dead than I am, if that is even possible! 

senoia georgia

Senoia, Georgia is the starting point for The Big Zombie Tour #2.

On the day of the tour, we left my house at noon, headed to Senoia, Georgia. It was a 66 mile drive from my house to The Waking Dead Cafe, the check-in point for the tour. You can also meet at the Atlanta Movie Tours office in Atlanta, and ride their bus to Senoia. There was a sign on the sidewalk in front of the cafe so it was easy to find. Inside the cafe, there were The Walking Dead posters on the walls. The coffee drinks were all named after characters in the show. 

The Big Zombie Tour #2 with Atlanta Movie Tours

The Big Zombie Tour sign on the sidewalk.

The Big Zombie Tour #2

The Waking Dead Cafe sign.

The Big Zombie Tour #2

The Walking Dead posters decorated the walls in the cafe.

When all of the people who were going on the tour had checked in, we got on the bus and started the tour. The tour guide, Kent, has worked as an extra and as a Walker on the show many times. He had a remarkable amount of knowledge about the show, and kept us entertained with inside information about the show, the actors, how to get a job as an extra or a Walker on the show, and about the movie and TV industry in Georgia. The bus also had a TV, and when we were passing by or stopped at a location that was used in the show, one of the tour employees played clips from the show with scenes from that location. The clips made the places we were seeing come to life. 

The Big Zombie Tour #2

Atlanta Movie Tours bus. It was very comfortable.

One of my favorite locations was the “Pudding House”. On one of the episodes, Carl found a 112 ounce can of chocolate pudding, and sat on the roof of the porch while he ate the entire can. I loved that episode, because it showed that even though Carl was mature beyond his age due to the challenges of living in a post apocalyptic world, he was still just a boy at heart. 

Big Zombie Tour #2

The “Pudding House”, where Carl ate an entire 112 ounce can of chocolate pudding while sitting on the roof of the porch.

The railroad was central to a couple of seasons of The Walking Dead. We saw several places along the railroad that looked so familiar because we had seen them in the show. This was the tower where Tara had to rest after twisting her ankle. 

Big Zombie Tour #2

The railroad tower where Tara rested after twisting her ankle.

Most of the tour we were on, The Big Zombie Tour #2, was easily accessible for me. I have a disability that makes getting up from a seated position, sitting down, going up and down stairs, and walking long distances difficult. There were only two places where it was hard for me, but I managed to do it. The first place was at an abandoned factory that was the location of the “fight arena” in Woodbury, where The Governor pitted Merrell against Darrell in a fight to the death of one of them. The only way to get to the set location was via a very steep, narrow, stairway. It was harder going down them than coming back up. I’m glad I made the effort, because I volunteered to be one of the people in “Zombie School” where we learned how to walk like a Walker on The Walking Dead. Fun! That’s my daughter, Emily, on the stairs in front of me. I went last so I wouldn’t hold anyone up. 

Big Zombie Tour #2

Very steep stairs down to the fight arena at the abandoned factory.

The fight arena location:

Big Zombie Tour #2

The set location of the fight arena where The Governor made Merrell and Darrell fight.

The second place where I had a hard time was when we got to the place where Morgan’s Apartment was. The tour guide parked the bus, and we had to walk a couple of blocks. I was waaaay behind everyone else, because I am so slow walking, but I made it all the way to the apartment. This is what is on their FAQ page about accommodating handicapped guests:

Do you make provisions for handicapped guests?
Yes. We want everyone to enjoy themselves. There are portions of the tours that occur on foot, but all surfaces should be safe for wheelchairs. The bus is not equipped with a lift and we ask that you notify us in advance if you need to bring a folding wheelchair with you so we may make arrangements for storage.

Big Zombie Tour #2

Emily was attacked by a walker in Morgan’s apartment. She was bitten, poor thing!

You can also find information on the FAQ page about transportation to Senoia from Atlanta for the Big Zombie Tour #2 and Big Zombie Tour #3; refund policy; interpreters; and a lot more. 

Big Zombie Tour #2

Emily and me at the wall.

Tours are priced at $65 per person, which in my opinion are well worth the cost. My daughter and I really enjoyed our tour. We saw a lot of places (I didn’t even show you pictures of more than half of them!) and learned a lot about how and where our favorite show is filmed. We are planning to go on Big Zombie Tour #1 and Big Zombie Tour #3 as soon as we can!

To contact Atlanta Movie Tours, you can call them at 855-255-3456; send them an email at info@atlantamovietours.com ; or visit them at their shop at  327 Nelson St SW, Atlanta, GA 30313. You can save $5 per ticket when you purchase them online using promo code FABGRANDMA at checkout! 


Choosing Grass For Your Lawn

Climate is not the only factor that you should consider when choosing grass for your lawn. The yard space in your home might very well have its own micro-climate. You need to have a good idea of what the general climate in your area is like. If you live in an area that is constantly raining, you should consider getting cool season grasses such as ryes, Kentucky bluegrass, and fescues. Micro-climates usually differ from the overall climate due to the presence of a larger object: mostly houses, but the objects can also include bodies of water, trees, or large areas of pavement.

how to choose grass for your lawn

Photo courtesy of klahouse.com

If you take a walk around your house at different times of the day, you will understand this concept. The east side of your house is usually sunny and warm in the morning when the sun rises. In the afternoon, the west side becomes hotter and sunnier as the east gets shadier. On the north side of your house, it may be cool and shady the entire day. Conversely, the south side may stay warm and sunny all day. This proves that each side of your house has its own micro-climate, which depends on the movement of the sun.

Different types of lawn grasses adapt differently to the micro-climates of your home. Therefore, you need to look at the micro-climate of your yard before choosing grass. Alternatively, you can just choose a blend of different grass varieties when planting a lawn. Using different types of grass increases their chances of survival. For instance if you have a yard with both shady and sunny spots, you should plant a mixture of fescues and Kentucky bluegrasses. This is because Kentucky bluegrass flourishes in the sun but thins out in shady areas. The fescues, which are shade-tolerant, will fill out the thin areas.

When deciding which grass to plant in your lawn, you should look into different grass types and the conditions to which they can adapt. The following list of micro-climates will help you to choose the right grass to plant:

Choosing Grass For Shade

If your yard does not get up to 4 hours of sun a day, it can really mess up your grass. In the absence of sun, the lawn starts to thin out and is prone to disease and insects. Your house, fence, and trees are the main culprits of shade creation. You need to find different varieties of specific grasses that can tolerate shade better. Some cultural techniques allow shade-intolerant grasses to survive in the shade. You can try to water deeper but less often, mow higher, fertilize less, and stop others from walking on it. Decreasing the number of seeds planted will also reduce the competition for the sun.

Choosing Grass For Sun

Harsh sun that reflects off a nearby wall may cause your lawn grass to dry out faster. You need to compensate by applying more water; this keeps the grass from becoming weaker and vulnerable to insects.

Choosing Grass For Heat

Warmth that is stored in walkways and driveways usually radiates into nearby lawns. Those parts of the lawn dry out a lot faster, making them prone to pest invasion. Such areas need to be watered more often to counter the effects of the heat.

choosing grass or your yard

photo courtesy of homealarmadvisors.com

If you want to take care of your yard properly, you need to have a functioning sprinkler system. When your sprinkler is on the fritz, you need sprinkler system repair services. Get it repaired as soon as possible to prevent your grass from drying out. Make sure that you hire a qualified person. Choosing grass for your yard based on the micro-climates there will go a long way in creating a beautiful lawn. 

My Smart Pond® Fountain Is Finished

I received product from Smart Pond to create a fountain in my yard. 

I have to say that this project with Smart Pond® has been one of the most fun ones I have done since I started blogging. It was so easy to do, and the results are so cute! It adds a lot of beauty to my yard, for surprisingly little money. If you wanted to create a pond like this one in your yard, without a wooden platform, it would cost under $100. That is quite a lot of bang for the buck. 

My cute fountain made using Smart Pond supplies.

My cute fountain made using Smart Pond supplies.

Next summer, we are going to add to the flower bed, so that it goes all the way around the pond platform. We planted perennials in this bed, and will add annuals in containers next summer for instant color. In addition to adding a huge pop of color to our yard, the babbling of the water from the fountain is quite soothing when we are sitting on the porch. That same sound attracts birds, who come to visit our feeders. We are hoping to also bring butterflies to our yard with the butterfly bushes, and other colorful flowers chosen for just that purpose.

Here is a look at the fountain. You can also hear the water as it drops back into the barrel. I love this fountain. You can find the Smart Pond products at Lowes.

Learning to Grow Your Own Food Comes with a Host of Benefits

As you may already know if you have been a reader of my blog for very long, I love gardening. After my surgery in 2012 that left me disabled, I discovered that I would not be able to garden in the way that I always had. It took some time for me to find a new way to make a garden. The results of my efforts are not that great in the way of actual food produced, but the enjoyment I get out of the process is enormous. I love to see the plants growing. I love to see the first flowers blooming, and then the first little beans or tomatoes or eggplants emerging from the blossoms. I might only get one or two pots of beans, or two or three tomatoes all season long, but the little garden I made provides me with the opportunity to get my hands dirty; with a reason to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine; and a feeling of satisfaction that I was able to do it. 

gardening can heal the soul.

My little garden on boards.

Learning to grow your own food comes with a host of benefits. The benefits are so good that it’s being recommended as an activity for veterans to engage in, especially if they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or combat-related stress. The more people learn about the good that can result, the more they may be staking off a plot in the yard to get planting.

“Anyone who has tried their hand at gardening has felt the difference that it can make in their life,” explains Julia Falke, co-founder of the Boulder Crest Retreat. “We believe in getting veterans into gardening and it is why we built the Wallis Annenberg Heroes Garden, the nation’s second handicapped-accessible walled garden. It provides combat veterans and their families with the chance to engage in a calming and peaceful activity, and focuses them on the subject of healthy eating and nutrition. It’s one small part of what we do, but it makes a significant difference.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that gardening can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, among other benefits. Some of the other many benefits of growing your own food include:

Gardening is Therapeutic.

Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat

According to the American Horticulture Therapy Association (AHTA), horticulture is a time-proven practice and the benefits have been documented since ancient times. They report that during the 1940s and 1950s, it was used in rehabilitative care of hospitalized war veterans, and today it is accepted as a beneficial and effective therapeutic modality. 

Gardening is Healthy.

Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat

There is a good chance that when one grows their own food they will end up consuming at least some of it. This is a good way to get healthier foods into the diet, specifically more fruits and vegetables. When I grow my own food, I know there were no harmful chemicals used on the vegetables I eat. 

Gardening is Social.

Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat

Growing your own food can be a social activity, especially if you choose to get involved in a gardening group or community garden. Many people are starting community gardens around the country, where they work together for a common purpose. While the food grown may be consumed by those growing it, some is also often given away to local charities, giving those doing the gardening an added benefit.

Gardening for me gets me out of the house. I go to garden supply stores several times during the season, and talk to the people there, getting advice on the best plants, and best products to use in my garden. The garden is a topic of conversation when delivery people stop at my house. If I happen to have extra veggies, I can give them to my neighbors, which provides another social interaction. 

Gardening provides Physical and Mental Benefits.

Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat

Engaging in gardening can help bring about mental clarity and reduce stress. In addition to it being a mind-clearing activity, it’s also a form of physical exercise, helping to keep people active and healthy. I know gardening has been good for my mental health. Being able to do something I thought I would never be able to do again has really brightened my life. 

Gardening can Reduce Pain.

The AHTA reports that some of the additional benefits that people get from growing their own food include that it can help reduce physical pain, and help with rehabilitation and recovery from surgery or other medical interventions.

Boulder Crest Retreat

“The Retreat utilizes a range of everyday family activities, including gardening, cooking well-balanced meals, hiking, kayaking, as well as age-old and proven warrior practices like labyrinths and meditation,” adds Falke. “This enables combat veterans to make peace with their past, live in the present, and begin planning for a great future – full of passion, purpose and service – here at home.”

Summer is a time to get out into the garden and nature, as well as reconnect with those around us. The Wallis Annenberg Heroes Garden was built in 2014 and designed by Donna Hackman, in association with Lisa Catlett.

“For me, this special garden was love at first sight, and I am compelled to try and make every year even more beautiful than the last season,” Donna Hackman explains. “It has been my honor to design and help tend to this garden, and our combat veterans and their families deserve the very best nature has to offer.”

Boulder Crest Retreat is presently building out its horticulture and culinary activities, that will serve the many combat veterans and their families that stay at the facility. The near future result will be a complete veteran ‘farm-to-table’ program adapted for every season. Ongoing support over the past two years, from organizations such as The Burpee Foundation, The Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club and Middleburg Garden Club, and countless community volunteer hours are helping to make this vision a reality.

Boulder Crest Retreat is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that is funded entirely by private donations by individuals and organizations from around the country. For more information about the retreat, please go to www.bouldercrestretreat.org


Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness is a rural sanctuary that provides free accommodations, recreational and therapeutic activities and programs to help our nation’s military and veteran personnel and their families recover and reconnect during their long journey of healing from physical and invisible wounds of war. The 37-acre retreat is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bluemont, Virginia, just 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. The Retreat is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is entirely funded through private donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information about Boulder Crest Retreat, please visit www.bouldercrestretreat.org. To make a donation to Boulder Crest Retreat or volunteer, click here