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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Marlborough Mall – We Have It – Giveaway

Indoor Shoes and Picture Day Shopping

Recently the fabulous people at Marlborough Mall gave me a $100 gift card and the opportunity to go shopping, the gift card was the only compensation received and all opinions are my own. As much as I wanted to just spoil myself, cooler heads prevailed as Grady needed indoor shoes for Cubs and some clothes for school picture day and family photos. He also wanted a pair of blue pants that could be solely for cubs so that he could set them aside with his uniform and not be scrambling every Tuesday, pretty smart kid :)

Not impressed with Kidz Corner
I must admit I have only ever been to Marlborough Mall once before for an Easter petting zoo but never for actual shopping. We stopped in before Parkour as we were already in the area and it was easy to leave straight from school for the shopping trip. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of stores but there were only two places for children’s wear that I saw; Kidz Corner which was “too fancy” for Grady’s taste as it sold suits etc. and then Sears. I do like Sears because they have the Kidvantage Guarantee which means that if Grady grows out of or wears out his new clothes we can get them replaced for free.

Our finds at Sears
I found Marlborough Mall straightforward to get into and easy to find parking which is always a plus, is a straight layout so it is easy to see all the stores and has advertising at each entrance to let you know any stores that may be having specials. The gift card was simple to use, although some locations will require you to know the balance in order to run the transaction. The only place I ran into an issue was Sears but in hindsight I think it was more lack of training for the cashier than an actual store issue.

Here is a list of Stores that don’t currently accept the gift cards:

Canada Post
Edo Japan
McDonalds and Ultracuts in Walmart
Barber Shop
Mandeez Xclusif
Prince Travel
Dairy Queen
Kal Tire
Tutti Fuiti

Picture days are coming up for lots of schools in Calgary if they haven’t happened already. Grady had a firm idea of what he wanted to wear so we were able to find the few missing pieces he needed in order to be ready with clothes that fit, since hey seem to grow out of them overnight sometimes! We also found something for our annual family photos.

 I really liked that I could use the gift card at the food court so when Grady was spontaneously starving we were able to make a quick stop to fill him up with some Sushi (his favourite). Marlborough Mall’s slogan is “We Have It” and I think that is true, we were able to get all the things we needed and only spent $128. Granted I could have put back one pair of pants and a shirt and stuck within the $100 gift card including buying lunch but he could use the extra pants!
Filling up on sushi
It was easy to find shoes in a good price range and a good brand at Payless. Grady insisted on “memory foam” soles. He needed indoor shoes for Cubs so we are sending the brand new ones to school and using his old indoors for Cubs and Handball. This is his first lace up pair so he has been practicing that new lace up method that has gone viral lately.

Definitely go check out Marlborough Mall if you are looking for a quiet shopping trip and the ability to get what you need. And one lucky reader will get a $100 gift card of their own to go shopping with!
Which outfit is your favourite?

Friday, 9 September 2016

2016 Ford F-150 Limited - Review

2016 Ford F-150 Limited
By: Brian Brooks

We had the opportunity over the Labour Day long weekend to take out the new 2016 Ford F-150 Limited courtesy of Ford of Canada. As always opinions remain my own and aside from providing the vehicle for review no compensation was received for this post.

We loaded up our 4,700 lb travel trailer for the long weekend and headed southeast of Calgary to a campground in Mossleigh Alberta called Aspen Crossing.  Our trailer and cargo used less than half of the 10,700 lb towing capability of the truck and hardly challenged its true capabilities.  We did also have the opportunity to drive the F-150 Limited without load in a combination of city and highway driving during the week to gain an appreciation of its levels of refinement and comfort.

Being the owner of a 2013 F-150 Lariat and having driven the 2015 F-150 Platinum last year, I was curious to see what improvements and changes had been made from previous models and see how the top trim Limited trim line differed from other models. 
The 3.5L Twin Turbo Ecoboost V6 engine and six speed automatic transmissions are carried over and remain the top powertrain choice across all F-150 models.  This powertrain is impressive and provides more than adequate power and torque for driving and towing; in my opinion it is the best powertrain available in any light duty pick-up truck on the market today. 
Throttle response in the 2016 version has been smoothed out from previous years and I found the turbos didn’t kick in with as much snap as in our 2013.  There is still plenty of low end grunt off the line however now just delivered more linearly and with better control.

As for the distinguishing features of the 2016 F-150 Limited, I found the adaptive cruise control along with forward collision warning and brake assist to be the most useful and progressive in terms of improving safety and would consider this a must have feature in my next truck.  The adaptive cruise control feature allows the driver to determine and set a safe following distance to traffic ahead and maintain this distance to an upper speed limit which is the cruise control set point.  With traffic along the QEII in Alberta where speeds can vary at any time by 30 km/h or more, this feature is simply brilliant and eliminates the frustration of constantly turning on and off or resetting the cruise control.

Some of the notable exterior features of the 2016 F-150 Limited include 22” polished aluminum wheels, dual panel moonroof, tailgate step, LED bed lighting, and box link system including the larger removable bracket tie downs.  Some of the noteworthy interior features include enhanced information display including a turbo boost gauge, trailer connection checks, and tire pressure read-outs.  There are multiple enhanced menus to scroll through that provide almost every bit of useful information possible to the driver.  I also find the new Sync3 system to be much more intuitive and responsive than previous generations of the infotainment system.

The biggest difference between the 2015 Platinum and 2016 Limited I noticed was that seat comfort had been improved.  Where I found the 2015 Platinum seats to be too firm for my liking, the 2016 Limited seats have been softened slightly to create an ideal balance between support and comfort.  Speaking of the seats in the 2016 F-150 Limited, with heating, cooling and massage features built in, they make for a truly luxurious and pleasant driving experience.

One of the features I thought I’d appreciate but would recommend against upon some use are the box side steps.  I found deploying them to be straightforward but stowing them to be a real pain requiring several attempts that needed just the right foot angle and pressure but with fear my foot would slip off and I’d smash my shin into the side of the truck.  With the tailgate step, I don’t quite see the need for these steps to be honest and feel they detract from the clean exterior appearance of the truck.
I still have some doubts of the long term and seasonal reliability of the power running boards.  Although we had no issues during our week with the truck, I question their longevity after several years of use with time for dust and debris to infiltrate the power mechanism and have concerns over their reliability during winter conditions especially in slushy snow conditions where ice may encrust the mechanism or pile up on the running board itself preventing it from returning to a folded position.  Unfortunately, the power running board are a standard feature in the 2016 F-150 Limited.

Other features in the 2016 F-150 Limited that I found less useful and remain fundamentally opposed to with their widening use in vehicles are those that aid actually driving the vehicle for you including the rear park assist and trailer back-up assist.  We decided to try out the trailer back-up assist and after a relatively complex set-up process of placing a sticker on the trailer frame, we took four measurements of the relationship of the truck to the trailer then entered them into the trucks computer, the system would still not work for us despite several repeated attempts.  My advice would be to learn how to back up your trailer yourself in the event the system fails you or better yet, forego this option entirely and save yourself some money.

Despite our 2016 F-150 Limited having an MSRP of over $78,200, I was surprised to find several interior pieces that just didn’t match the quality and feel of the rest of the truck including the glove box and faux wood trim on the doors.  Although not a huge knock against the truck, I’d suggest these things are definitely something needing improvement in future model years. 

Overall I am very impressed with the 2016 F-150 Limited even with its minor flaws and might consider one for myself but remain unconvinced of the necessity and value of the features this trim line offers over lesser trim lines such as the Lariat version.  With Ford Employee pricing now in effect and offering nearly $10,000 in price adjustments, I suspect Ford won’t have trouble finding customers for these decked out luxury pick-up trucks.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Back to School Driving Safety

Back to School Driving Safety 2.0

Holidays are over, yellow school buses are back on the road, and the kids are walking, cycling or being dropped off at school. With summer in the rear view mirror, it’s time for drivers to gear up for back to school safety. As someone who walks to an from school every day with my 8 year old son, I think the reminder is much needed. We cross a busy street and on average someone blows by us at the crosswalk at least once a day.

To help with the transition, Ford of Canada checked in with the RCMP and Public Safety Canada to provide the following safety tips and reminders to help everyone stay safe on the road this school year.

Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
Slow down! Children crossing the road on their way to and from school can easily get distracted and step into harm's way. They also aren't diligent in checking before beginning to walk and aren't able to judge a vehicle's speed. Children are often out throughout the day at recess, lunch, and for outdoor activities, so it's important to drive slowly throughout the entire day.

That text can wait! This is a big goal for me this year, to keep the phone out of reach, it is so silly but we all feel that pull to see or answer right away. Drivers need to be vigilant and alert behind the wheel. Your fast reflexes could prevent an accident. Ford Motor Company estimates that sending a single text would take a driver’s eye off the road for 10 seconds. For a driver travelling 100 km /hr they’ll travel the equivalent of 28 metres or 12 tennis courts. Now this stat probably makes you say "yeah but that's at 100 kph, I'm only going 50, or 30" or whatever but it is still enough.

Don't block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn – you could force pedestrians to go around you; putting them in the path of moving traffic. THIS is my biggest hurdle every day. If you block the crosswalk I have to find a way to get around your car, not just to cross but in a safe manner so that all the other cars can see me. Same goes for starting to drive before I have finished crossing, if an oncoming car sees your car moving they think the intersection is clear and aren't looking for pedestrians.

Take extra care to look out for children near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas

Sharing the Road with School Buses
Alternating flashing yellow or amber lights means a bus is slowing down to stop – you should do the same. A school bus with red lights flashing is stopped. The fine for passing a school bus with its red lights flashing will net you a hefty fine and six demerit points.

If you are following behind a bus, stay back further than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop if the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. The area 3 meters around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.

Must Know for Kids
Before crossing the road: POINT across the road to show drivers you want to cross; PAUSE until the cars stop and you make eye contact with the drivers; PROCEED with your arm extended after all cars in all the lanes have stopped.

Distracted pedestrians are a higher risk so do not use electronics while walking.

Ride legally - No helmet! No bike! Children under the age of 18 must always wear a helmet when riding a bike.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Dropping Off
Most schools have very specific drop-off procedures and it’s your job to make sure you know them. Wherever you live, these rules apply in all school zones:

•           Don't double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
•           Don't load or unload children across the street from the school
•           Don’t idle vehicles for air quality concerns
•           Do try to carpool to reduce traffic

“These are important reminders. Driving safely requires a focus on the road ahead and being in control of the vehicle at all times,” said Colin Schutz, General Manager of Jerry Ford. “We are looking forward to a successful and safe school year ahead.”

Sources: RCMP, Public Safety Canada