“I Am Loved” with Helzberg Diamonds

This post is sponsored by Helzberg Diamonds but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.


When we think of love or feeling loved, we automatically associate it with being in a romantic relationship. Love comes in many different forms. Although not all the same, the root of this emotion is similar. To be loved and feel love is the greatest feeling on Earth.

Even though I’m not in a relationship right now, this year I experienced a kind of love that I never knew my heart could ever feel. The unconditional love that makes you want to cry of happiness.

The love for my nephew, Lucas.

 Processed with VSCO with v4 preset

Lucas' due date was on February 14th (how appropriate) but he decided to make his debut ten days earlier. The past seven months have been the most rewarding months of my life. This little bundle of joy has taught me so much about myself and how to unselfishly and genuinely love someone.

Growing up, I never had the desire to have kids. To be a good mom, you need patience, commitment, and motherly instincts. I had none. But after Lucas was born, I found myself wanting to help out my sister as much as I could and learning everything needed to be a good (God)mother. His safety and happiness is my number one priority. Although having Lucas in my life hasn't completely changed my perceptive on having kids, I'm open to the possibility, if it were to happen.

 Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I guess love has a funny way of changing you, for the better. This is why I'm so excited to be partnering with Helzberg Diamonds to promote their “I Am Loved” contest.

When Barnett Helzberg Jr. proposed to Shirley Bush in 1967, the love he felt sparked a thought...everyone should feel like this. Everyone should feel loved. This wholly romantic notion famously inspired the "I Am Loved" lapel button along with ads featuring Helzberg Jr.’s own words, “Buy her a diamond or give her a button, but in any case, tell her she's loved.” People all over the U.S. and even around the world started sharing their love with these free buttons. They’re still available today.

Visit a Helzberg retailer near you to pick up a free "I Am Loved" button and enter the Helzberg Diamonds I Am Loved Contest.

Share a photo with #IAmLovedContest and finish the sentence "I know I am loved because..." for a chance to win a $250 gift card to Helzberg Diamonds. See your submission and the official rules here: bit.ly/IAmLovedContest


Filing My Taxes With The Pros- H&R Block

This post is sponsored by H&R Block but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

This year I celebrated my Five-Year Bloggiversary! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone and how much my little Internet home as grown. What started as a simple hobby has turned into my full-time job and one that I’m incredibly proud of. At a time where blogging was still a new career path, I went full force with this passion and haven't looked back.

One of the many things I love about being a blogger is that I can work from the comfort of my own home and be my own boss. Which also means I have to be extremely disciplined because no one is going to be behind me reminding me of deadlines or motivating me to put in the work. The most important advice I have for someone who is looking into working from home is to set up a home office for yourself and get organized!

 Processed with VSCO with ss2 preset

I was guilty of working from my couch or if I was feeling lazy, my bed — both horrible choices for your posture and productivity. The moment I converted my spare room into my office, I saw that I was more focused and would get more work done. Feeling inspired is vital and if your space doesn't do that for you, then you need to change it up. Whether it's working from home or a coffee shop, find somewhere that can help boost your creativity.

When you view influencers or bloggers on Instagram, it sometimes can be deceiving how hard we work. Being a blogger means you're frequently a one-person show. You need to know about photography, social media, marketing, photo editing, public relations, website design, networking and many more aspects of running a business. It can be overwhelming at times but knowing that you built something from the ground up is a satisfying feeling.

Fortunately, when it comes to filing my taxes, I can leave that to the pros.

When I first started blogging, I didn't make any money. It wasn't until the second year that I received income from sponsored posts and collaborations. Bloggers are considered self-employed and when you have an LLC like me, taxes can get tricky. I knew I didn't know a single thing about filing taxes so using a tax professional made sense. When it comes to taxes, you don't want to make any mistakes or miss a deduction that could save you hundreds of dollars.  This year, I chose to file with the experts in taxes: H&R Block.  H&R Block makes filing taxes easy, helps you understand how the latest tax reform changes impact you and gives you the confidence your taxes are done right– no matter how complex they might be.

H&R Block

With H&R Block you have many choices on how to file your taxes. I chose to file in person because I like having the opportunity to talk to my tax professional face-to-face so I have that guidance and the peace of mind that my taxes are being filed correctly. Booking an appointment online was super easy and convenient. I scheduled an appointment the next day with Mrs. Pete, a wonderful lady from my local H&R Block office who is a tax expert familiar with the blogging world. Such a difference from when I filed my taxes three years ago. It took a long time to find someone who was somewhat familiar with blogging and even then, I didn't leave confident from that experience.

 Processed with VSCO with ss2 preset

I loved that H&R Block allowed me to select my tax pro and made sure to take care of the ALL the heavy lifting – they even helped guide me on what to bring to my appointment with a tax prep checklist. Being organized assisted with securing all the documents I needed. Another tip when working for yourself- organization! It will make your business run more smoothly and filing your taxes a lot easier.

When I first met with Mrs. Pete I knew instantly she was the real deal. I was the second blogger she had helped that month, and she even told me that her little niece was looking into starting a blog. That made me feel great. Sometimes when I mention I'm a blogger, people don't take me seriously. Mrs. Pete not only valued my work but was impressed as well. Such a great feeling!

 Processed with VSCO with ss2 preset

During my appointment, she explained the process in detail and helped me find every deduction. After going through everything, Mrs. Pete informed me that I had to pay less than what I was expecting! I think I screamed and cried tears of joy in her office. It's always a great feeling when you get money you didn’t expect.

Another great benefit from filing with H&R Block- you know the price of filing before you begin, so you’re not blindsided by an amount you’re not prepared for.

H&R Block

Overall, my experience with Mrs. Pete was the best tax filing experience I've ever had. From the ease of booking my appointment to filing with an expert who understood my business, I would highly recommend filing with H&R Block to anyone, whether you're self-employed or not.


Celebrating Special Moments with Faustino Wine

This post is sponsored by Faustino but the content and opinions expressed are my own. #DiscoverFaustino

 

When it comes to having real and lasting friendships, I hit the jackpot! Not a day goes by where I don’t feel genuine love and support from them. From small wins to major accomplishments, I know I can always count on my girlfriends to cheer me on. 

I once read a quote that said, “When all is said and done, if you can count all your true friends on one hand, consider yourself lucky.” 

I couldn’t agree more.

 Processed with VSCO with v4 preset

One of my favorite activities to do is to get together with my best friends and catch up. With so many things going on in our lives, it’s always nice to take the time from our crazy schedules to hang out, especially when there is something exciting to celebrate!

And what better way to celebrate special moments than with a nice glass of wine!

 Processed with VSCO with v4 preset

I recently met up with my friend to congratulate her for landing a new job at an amazing sales company and to raise a glass to me for moving into my new apartment. It always feels nice to have a friend experience the same joy as you would when something great happens in your life. No jealousy or competition, just pure excitement for one another.

 Processed with VSCO with v4 preset

We decided to celebrate at our neighborhood beach with some Faustino White and Rosé wine- my favorites, and an epic sunset!

Up until recently, I wasn’t a big wine drinker, but now, I love discovering different types of wines. If you haven’t heard or tried Faustino selections, check them out! The taste of both the Rosé and White wines are clean, bright and with a hint of fruity flavors. They’re sweet but not overpowering. The perfect blend!

 Processed with VSCO with v4 preset

Faustino has more than 150 years of experience in the production and aging of premium wines. They own about 650 hectares of vineyards in the best areas of the DOCa Rioja, in the municipalities of Laguardia and Oyon, and it is one of the largest owners of vineyards in Rioja, Spain.

Love and respect for nature are two of the pillars on which the philosophy of the winery is based.

In recent years, Faustino has incorporated new, environmentally-friendly grape growing practices to make their vineyards increasingly sustainable.

Love supporting these type of companies and brands.

 Processed with VSCO with v4 preset

Being able to share special moments with friends is priceless! And having a glass (or two) of wine makes the moment even sweeter!

To learn more about Faustino, check out their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!


How the LivingWith™ Mobile App Helps Manage Life With Cancer

Thank you Pfizer for sponsoring this post. Join Pfizer’s This Is Living With Cancer™ initiative by sharing your story with #InspirationLives on Facebook and Instagram to support and inspire those who have been affected by cancer, and be sure to check out the LivingWith™ mobile app available via iTunes and Google Play.

 

Cancer was something I never thought would play a role in my life. We all know about it, hear about it and, for some of us, we know someone who has lost their battle with it. But never did I think cancer would take someone I love from me. I can now include myself in that group.

When my aunt was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year, it didn’t seem real. Especially during the first few months. My aunt was her happy, positive self and continued with her daily routine as if nothing was happening to her body. Her cancer didn’t become “real” until her last three months. I could see how this debilitating disease was taking over her body. Everything from her physical appearance to her personality changed drastically. 

 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

Naturally, people worry about the patient, but they often forget about the family or people around them. I saw firsthand how my cousin and uncle rose to the challenge of taking care of my aunt. It’s not an easy task being a caretaker—it’s much harder when you’re family because your heart is so heavily invested.

There are so many things to keep track of and most of the time it’s difficult to keep them all in order.

Luckily, there is an app to help make life easier during this difficult time.

 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

Pfizer launched This Is Living With Cancer™, a national awareness program that includes a free mobile app called LivingWith™. It is designed to help manage some of the daily challenges faced by people living with cancer.

Unfortunately, my aunt passed away before I could use this app. With so many things juggling through your mind, it’s nice to have an app with several features designed to help you manage your life with cancer.

One of the challenges my cousin faced was keeping track of all the appointments and medications my aunt was taking. With just one app, you can access recorded notes from doctor visits and view important documents, such as medication details and test results.

Another helpful feature is that you can send requests to family and friends for help with meals, rides and other support. Something as small as having a nice cooked meal delivered to the home makes a huge difference and is something I know my cousin greatly appreciated. It was one less thing to worry about, and her full focus could be on my aunt—not cooking.

                                 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset Processed with VSCO with al1 preset Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Although my heart is broken that my aunt is no longer with us, I can honestly say I’m a better person for having gone through this experience. I appreciate life so much more and value the relationships in my life. Life is so precious and can be taken when you least expect it.

I wish I could turn back time and have taken more pictures with my aunt or visited her more, but at least I was with her every single day leading up to her last breath.

I’ve learned so much from seeing my cousin take care of her, and I’m prepared if cancer should strike again in my family. With anything in life, being prepared and knowledgeable will help you navigate through these hard times. 

livingwith.png

The LivingWith™ mobile app is a great resource for anyone going through cancer. With so many fears, questions or concerns racing through your mind, it’s great to have something that will help you through it all.

For more information and to download the LivingWith™ mobile app, please visit www.ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com. Patients and their loved ones also can find the initiative on Facebook and Instagram

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

This is Living with Cancer™ – My Story + Words of Encouragement

Thank you Pfizer for sponsoring this post. Join Pfizer’s #InspirationLives initiative by sharing your story with the hashtag on Facebook and Instagram to support and inspire those who have been affected by cancer, and be sure to check out the LivingWith™ mobile app available via iTunes and Google Play!

At the beginning of last year, my whole world changed. My aunt was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The news came as a complete shock. Although cancer is now a common word we’ve all had to familiarize ourselves with, I never imagined it would ever hit so close to home for me.

Cotton Candy Skies

We live in a time where we probably know someone who’s gone through cancer, survived it or passed away from it. I’ve never had a personal connection to cancer until now. Finding out my aunt had stage 4 stomach cancer affected me tremendously because not only was she my favorite aunt, but she’s the one I was the closest with.

 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

From celebrations to family get-togethers or random visits, my aunt never missed the opportunity to be around her loved ones. Her personality could light up a room! She was never shy about starting up a conversation with anyone she came in contact with. She had a heart of gold and was so generous with her time and love. No matter how busy or tired she was, she always made it a point to shower us with her affection. And food! She loved to cook. Her way of expressing her love was through her cooking. One of the many reasons why I loved her!

 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset
 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

Sadly, eight months after she was diagnosed, my aunt lost her battle last November. I was devastated. I’ve never felt heartbreak like that before. Seeing her through the physical changes and pain was traumatic. Although it’s been three months since her passing, I still find myself sad and angry that she had to go through such a terrible disease. Sometimes life isn’t fair. I try not to question her timing, but I can’t help but wonder, why her? She was so full of life and had so much to live for.

 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

I have to remind myself that feeling sad is not what she would’ve wanted for us. Instead, she’d want us to live as she did. Always positive and grateful. No matter what she was going through, she always had faith. I believe we should all strive to maintain that same attitude. I miss her every day, but I know she’s watching over my family and her life lessons will always be instilled in me.

 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

Pfizer has created This is Living with Cancer™, an initiative designed to help people manage their lives with cancer and stay connected to their communities. As part of This is Living with Cancer, Pfizer has launched LivingWith™, a free mobile app designed to help patients and caregivers manage life with cancer and organize important information in one place. People can download LivingWith™  for free on any Apple or Android device.

cancer.png

For more information and to download the LivingWith™ mobile app, please visit www.ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com. Patients and their loved ones also can find the initiative on Facebook and Instagram.

Remember, you’re not alone. Together we can get through it.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Game Time with Michelob Ultra Cactus Lime

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. This content is intended for readers who are 21 and over. #CollectiveBias #MiCervezaPremium

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

When my sister got married, well long before that, I gained a brother- Gio! Besides our names rhyming (Gio-Fio) we have many traits in common which allows us to get along great!

One of the many things I love about him is that he accepted me from the beginning. He never came between my sister and I and the special bond we share. I'm always welcomed in their home and genuinely love hanging out with them.

Besides being my best friends, Dani (my sister) and Gio are amazing hosts! There is never a dull moment with them or at their house. We love having fun and enjoying our family time together.

One of the many activities we love is doing is game night... it gets pretty serious! From cornhole, board games to cards, we are a competitive bunch! If you haven’t played corhole, I highly recommend it. Not only is it fun but you can burn almost 200 calories playing it!

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

Another favorite of ours is playing dominoes.

Gio is from Puerto Rico and grew up playing dominoes with this family when he was younger. Naturally, he taught us how to play.

Dominoes with Michelob Ultra Lime

I never knew playing dominoes could be that much fun and entertaining! You could play for hours and not even notice the time passing by.

Last weekend, Gio and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice cold beer and a friendly game of dominoes.

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset
Michelob ULTRA is a staple in our home. But this time we wanted to try the Michelob ULTRA Lime Cactus flavor with only 95 calories and 5.5 carbs.

I'm usually not a Lime-flavored type of person but with this beer, the flavors worked well, and the lime wasn't overpowering.

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset
I enjoy Michelob ULTRA for its light crisp and refreshing taste and how well it compliments an active lifestyle.
 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset
Have you tried the new Michelob ULTRA Lime Cactus yet?

Also, what your favorite outdoor games are- always looking for fun suggestions!

My Favorite Way To Work Out

If there is one thing I haven't learned to love yet is working out.

There are some weeks where I'm on it! Going to the gym at least 3x/week- doing my Body Pump Class and high-intensity cardio workout. Other days, I want to lay on my couch and do nothing.

For the days I'm feeling extra lazy, I for a walk instead. I find this way of burning calories much more enjoyable than going to the gym. 

My favorite place to walk? Cranes Roost!

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

Cranes Roost Park is at the heart of Uptown Altamonte surrounding Cranes Roost Lake. The lake is encircled by one mile of continuous walkway with benches and covered seating areas.

I love taking in the fresh air and being alone with my thoughts. I go around the lake about 2-3 times at a nice relaxing pace, which usually takes about an hour.

Cranes Roost

I don't like to carry anything with me when I go for my walk. It weighs me down and most likely I'll lose it.

Thankfully there are a couple of water fountains around the lake, so not having my water bottle is not an issue and I still keep hydrated.

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

After my workout, I head back to my car and immediately wipe off the sweat with the Kleenex Wet Wipes that I carry in my purse. 

I live about 20 minutes from Cranes Roost so by the time I get home and shower, the sweat would already have seeped into my pores.  Everytime I work out, I clean my face and neck with the Wet Wipes and automatically feel refreshed! 

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset
 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

Kleenex Wet Wipes lack the harsh chemicals that current wipes carry so it is safe to use on hands and face but is also thick and soft enough to clean with.

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

Whether I'm running errands or after working out, Kleenex Wet Wipes come in handy and are super convenient for easy cleanup.

Click here to save $1 with the Ibotta Rebate at your local Walgreens store.

What are your favorite ways to work out? And have you tried the Wet Wipes yet?

Outdoor Fun with the New Michelob Ultra Pure Gold!

Lately, the weather here in Florida has been absolutely perfect! No rain and only sunshine throughout the week. Days like these you can't stay inside. Being outdoor is almost mandatory! 

My brother-in-law Gio loves cornhole, and we play it regularly when we have friends over. I love how everyone gets so competitive playing it! It's one of those games that are equally as fun to play it as it is to watch!

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

Another activity that is always present when the day is gorgeous is drinking beer!

I don't drink beer often, but when I do, I like Michelob Ultra since it has a light, refreshing taste. Gio always has a 6-pack ready in his fridge. He's actually the one who introduced me to it years ago.

Cornhole + Michelob Ultra Pure Gold

This time, our beer of choice was the NEW Michelob Ultra Pure Gold!

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

The NEW Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold is made with organic grains from the country's finest field and has sustainable packaging in partnership with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Inspired by nature and best enjoyed outside!

With only 2.5 carbs and 85 calories, Pure Gold is the perfect ice-cold beer that you won't feel guilty about drinking.

Cornhole with Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset
 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

Pure Gold is a light lager that is triple filtered and brewed free of artificial colors and flavors.

The taste is lighter than the original- which helps in not leaving you feeling bloated and ready for another round of cornhole!

 Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset

Click here to see where Michelob Ultra Pure Gold is available in your area. 

What are your favorite activities to play outside when the weather is just right?


Blinker App: Buy and Sell a Car Through Your Smartphone!

Technology, especially smartphones have completely changed the way we purchase services or products. Through online shopping or even apps, we no longer have to leave the comfort of our homes.

I recently purchased my car and went to the dealership. Although it was a pleasant experience, the dealership didn’t give me a good deal on my trade-in, something I already knew going in, so I was prepared to negotiate in the new car price instead.

 Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

Each year, 28 million people in the US sell their car to the dealership and lose thousands of dollars. For that reason, Blinker, the first-ever mobile app that puts people in control of buying, selling and financing cars themselves with their smartphone, was created.

Using patented image-recognition technology, they make everything from selling a car with a lien to getting a loan to refinancing as easy as snapping a photo. Plus, because there’s no middleman, so sellers earn more and buyers save more.

Blinker

 

INSTANTLY SEE THE BLACK BOOK™ VALUE OF YOUR CAR

All you have to do is snap a photo of your car and Blinker will instantly display all the details about it, including estimated Black Book™ value, mileage and more.

Blinker App

 

LIST YOUR CAR FOR SALE, EFFORTLESSLY

With the tap of one button, you can list your car for sale in the Blinker marketplace, other major marketplaces, and your own social networks.

Blinker App

 

SELL YOUR CAR YOURSELF, EVEN IF YOU’RE STILL MAKING PAYMENTS

 

For the first time ever, you don’t have to feel tied down by car payments. Blinker releases you from your current loan by paying off the remaining balance and completing all the paperwork when you sell through the app.

 

GET A CAR LOAN WITH THE SNAP OF A PHOTO

By simply snapping a photo of your driver’s license, you can instantly pre-qualify for a loan directly through the app, without affecting your credit score. When it’s time to close, Blinker helps with all the paperwork too.

Blinker App

 

REFINANCE YOUR CAR RIGHT ON YOUR PHONE

To lower your monthly car payment, just snap a photo of your car and answer a few questions. Blinker pays off your existing loan and gives you a better loan right through the app.

Blinker App

 

PRIVATE PARTY IS NO LONGER A SKETCHY PARTY

Blinker verifies the identity of every buyer, checks ownership records of every seller, and offers a free CARFAX Report™ for every car in the marketplace.

Blinker App

 

EARN SOME EXTRA BENJAMINS

When you sell your car yourself with Blinker, there are no fees and no middlemen taking a cut – which means you can earn thousands more per sale. That’s no chump change.

 

CLOSE THE DEAL WITH CONFIDENCE

When you complete a transaction within the app, Blinker helps you complete the paperwork, transfer the title and ensures secure payment in as little as one business day - all for free. Plus, our customer support team is available by phone or email to help make the process smoother than ever.

Blinker App

Since launching last year, Blinker has saved buyers and sellers an average of $3,000 every transaction, serviced millions of dollars in auto loans and won a 2017 SXSW Interactive Innovation Award. 

The free app is currently available in California, Colorado, Texas and just launched in Florida. 

Interested in selling and making thousands more than trading it in while at the same time earning some extra cash? Download Blinker here.

For a limited time, when you download Blinker, enter my code FIORELLA and list your car for sale, you’ll earn $200 when it sells!!

 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Blinker. All opinions are 100% mine


I Got A New Car! Tips For Making Your Next Purchase!

Thank you GEICO for sponsoring this post.

Besides owning a home, your car purchase will probably be the most significant expense you’ll make in your life.

There is no greater feeling than driving off the lot with your new car. A sense of pride and accomplishment always seems to be the two words that come to mind. Whether the vehicle is new or old, it’s still a great feeling!

But with a new car purchase, always comes a new set of responsibilities that you need to be prepared to take on. Here are a few tips for making your next purchase. These can apply to anyone making their first purchase or their fifth. Being smart and responsible always makes sense!

Honda Civic 2018 EX

 

REALISTIC FINANCES

Being honest with your finances is the first and most important step to take. You need to analyze what you can realistically afford. Let’s face it, “adulting” is hard and it comes with a lot of responsibility, bills and unexpected expenses. Spending the majority of your paycheck on a car payment is not wise.

I recently purchased a brand new 2018 car, but before making this big purchase, I set down and went through all my monthly bills and made sure if a new car – and all the expenses that go with it- was something I could add on my plate. Luckily it was, and I feel comfortable with my new monthly payments. 

 

RESEARCH

Research, research, research!! Before purchasing my new car, I knew exactly the features, body style and brand I wanted. The internet is a great tool to use and will help you out in obtaining reviews, ratings and even virtual tours of the car you’re interested in purchasing.

Knowing what you want and what you’ll settle for, regarding pricing or features, is a great foundation to have when entering a dealership. Being prepared will help you get the best the deal and save you and the salesperson time- because car buying can be a nightmare if you’re not knowledgeable.

 

DON'T FEEL PRESSURED

When I purchased my car, I got lucky and got a fantastic salesperson. I never once felt pressured and obligated to buy anything. I was informed every step of the way and felt like he cared about providing me with the best service. Unfortunately, not all car salespeople are the same.

Never feel pressured into buying a car. Acquiring debt and monthly payments is something you need be 100% sure about and ready to take on. At the same time, please don’t waste a salesperson’s time if you’re not genuinely prepared to purchase a car. When I signed all my paperwork, I knew I was making the right decision and was happy with everything. That’s the feeling you should have when driving off with a new car.

Honda Civic 2018 EX

 

PICK THE RIGHT COLOR

A simple color choice may not seem that important, but in the long run, it makes a big difference. For me, there is nothing more beautiful and sexier than a black car! Unfortunately, when it comes to vehicles, black is synonymous with high maintenance!

When I was at the dealership, I was going back and forth with deciding between the gunmetal grey or black color. I must’ve driven the poor salesman crazy from my indecisiveness. I asked five random guys at the dealership what they would get (customers and salespeople), and they all unanimously said: avoid black- unless I was committed to washing my car at least once a week, maybe more.

A shiny freshly clean black car is gorgeous, but add pollen, dust and even fingerprints, and it’s a different story. As much as I want to fool myself into thinking I’m going to keep up with the cleaning, I know I won’t. In the end, I chose the gunmetal color- which turned out to be the best decision. I don’t need the added stress or car wash expense. 

 


MAINTENANCE

All cars require maintenance, whether it’s an oil change, pumping the right gas, keeping it clean or fixing any issues as soon as they arise, keeping up and taking care of your car is extremely important. Luckily, the car I purchased let’s me know if anything is wrong with my car. For example, last week, the low tire pressure light came on. I got the problem fixed as soon as it happened. Sometimes addressing the issue immediately will not only avoid major headaches but also save you money.

I get my car washed every two weeks and make sure I keep it clutter free. There is nothing better than getting in a nice clean car every morning. I also try to be smart with my gas and can sometimes make it last for two weeks! 

Here are a few tips on how to save on gas.

 

SAFETY

Being mindful of your driving can not only save your life but the lives of others on the road.

We’ve all been guilty of speeding or sometimes reckless driving. We sometimes forget that driving is a privilege and we need to be careful when operating a car. So many things can go wrong in a blink of an eye. One of the worst things you can do is use your phone while driving.

A big issue our generation struggles with is the ability to put our phones down. When I purchased my car, one of the selling features was the hands-free phone option. Which is something I use often! I talk on the phone, text and even use my map app without having to touch my phone. I no longer text and drive, and the maps app syncs and displays on my car dashboard. Not everyone has these features, so we need to learn to put our phones away and pay full attention to the road and be mindful of others.

Honda Civic EX 2018

 

GETTING INSURED

You’ve purchased your new car, now what? Insurance! 

Every state in the United States has minimum auto insurance laws. Most states require at least some type of liability insurance to protect other drivers on the road. In my lifetime, I’ve been in three car accidents. Only one was my fault

Being protected not only brings you peace of mind but also prevents an awful situation from becoming worse! Choosing the right car insurance company can seem overwhelming since there are so many factors involved when making that decision. 

Here is an excellent article all about insuring your first car.

Honda Civic 2018 EX

GEICO is known primarily for low rates offered directly to consumers online and over the phone. When it comes to car insurance, GEICO is the real deal. In 2015, GEICO became the second largest auto insurance company in the United States! But did you know that GEICO is more than car insurance? They insure from homeowners to travel and even pet insurance.

Take a look at everything they insure here

Are you thinking of purchasing a new car soon?

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states, in all GEICO companies, or in all situations. Homeowners, renters and condo coverages are written through non-affiliated insurance companies and are secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary.

Hopefully, these tips will make your next car purchase a fun and memorable experience, as it was for me!

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


6 Things You Can’t Live Without Your Freshman Year

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CORT. All opinions are 100% mine.
green-chameleon-21532.jpg

As a recent college graduate, I look back at my freshman year as a distant memory but with so many life changing experiences. It was such a pivotal time in my life, transitioning from the comfort of high school to a completely different world that is college life.

From learning to adapt to my new professors to keeping up with challenging classes and projects. Times have changed from when I was freshman. There are so many resources to help you out during your first year that I wish I would've had or known when I first started my college journey.

Here are 6 Things You Can't Live Without Your Freshman Year inspired by CORT's blog:

 

CONVENIENT PHONE APPS:

We live in a world where our phones have become an extension of who we are. Try going without your phone for a day. You'll quickly realize after an hour that life is actually harder to navigate. The convenience of various transportation, food, shopping and GPS apps have completely transformed our lives, especially for college students. It saves us time and gives us up to date information at our disposal. If used right, phone apps can be beneficial.

george-morgan-417051.jpg

SPACE SAVERS:

I was lucky to have lived at home during my college years. Not only did I save money but I also didn't have to deal with the crammed living conditions that most freshman have live in. Dorms or off campus apartments are known to be small. You need to get creative in making these small spaces work. Containers, shelves, bins and organizers will truly become your best friend when trying to utilize every inch possible.

 

PLANNER:

With so many deadlines and assignments due each week, keeping organized and staying focused is key in surviving college. Investing in a planner early on will instill accountability and good habits that will hopefully translate in every area of your life. With thousands of different planners out there, make sure you find a planner that is right for you, whether it's electronic or paper-based. I personally use both, depending on the extent of the task. Once you form the habit of using a planner, it will make your life much more easier and organized.

anete-lusina-382329.jpg

 

USEFUL TECHNOLOGY

A laptop, cellphone and headphones will probably be the most useful technology you'll have to invest in. Nowadays, it would be difficult to keep up with the demands of your classes without a laptop. You need to be able to connect to the Internet at all hours of the day and at various places. Invest in a good laptop that will last you all four years of college. Headphones would be ideal as well since most areas on or off campus will be noisy.  A smartphone will also be a lifesaver but makes sure to not let it distract you.

josh-calabrese-246845.jpg

 

HEALTHY SNACKS

I always make sure to carry healthy snacks in my purse. Having a daily routine is important but as a college student, no two days are the same. Whether it's studying for a test or getting home late from a group meeting, your food schedule can be off. Proper nutrition is important in order to stay focused and energized through out the day or at least until your next meal.

 

RELAXED ENVIRONMENT

It's important to feel comfortable and relaxed in your home, whether that be a dorm room, shared apartment or a house. Surround yourself with things that will bring you joy and calm you down after a stressful day at school or even when you're feeling homesick. Keeping pictures of your friends and family and sentimental items around your space can help make your day brighter.

Creating a homelike environment when you’re away for school makes your transition to college life easier. Unfortunately, buying enough furniture to fill your apartment might cost thousands, or even more if you want it delivered and set up properly.  Luckily, CORT Furniture Rental can help you find comfortable, stylish and functional items for your living space in no time. The convenience and affordable prices of CORT will help alleviate some of the college stress and lets you go focus on the things that matter- like passing all your courses!

For more information or more useful student tips, visit CORT's blog.
nathan-fertig-249917.jpg
Visit Sponsors Site

PayPal makes Holiday Gifting Easy!

Thank you PayPal for sponsoring this post. Visit PayPal to give the gift people really want this season: money!

One of my best friends moved away last year to attend law school. Although she’s only two hours away, the distance always plays a role in us getting together. Due to the high demands of school, she rarely has any free time.

Whenever she comes home for the holidays or special occasions, we don't hang out too much because the few days she is home, she spends it with her family- which is understandable.

This year, instead of sending her a gift, I wanted to do something special and different for her.

I'm sending her money through PayPal’s P2P service. I’m so proud of her and what she is trying to accomplish that a little bit of money to treat herself to a nice relaxing day, is exactly what she needs and know she'll appreciate.

PayPal makes holiday gifting easy!

You can send a PayPal P2P digital greeting by simply logging into your account on PayPal.com, select Send Money, enter the recipient’s contact information, designate the amount, click the gift box, select your favorite greeting, personalize with a message, and send. The funds go right into their PayPal account; if they don’t have an account, they can quickly open one for free

PaylPal

I use PayPal weekly and trust them. They recently partnered with Facebook to create a funding source for peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, right in Messenger. People will have the option to send and request money using their PayPal account!

Paypal and Facebook

It’s easy to get started. When composing a message in Messenger with one person, or even a group, people can tap on the blue plus icon, and then select the green Payments button to quickly send or request money. People can then choose PayPal as their funding source when making a P2P payment with their Messenger contacts.

Paypal and Facebook

So, if you’re in need of a last-minute gift or simply just don’t know what to get all of the people on your list, seize the season with PayPal’s free P2P holiday greetings so people can get what they really want this year: MONEY

With PayPal P2P, you can securely send and receive money with family and friends using just a phone number or email address between PayPal accounts. Be it food for Friendsgiving, the taxi to a holiday party, or that group gift for Mom and Dad, there are many reasons to use PayPal P2P payments this holiday season.

To learn more about PayPal’s holiday offerings, go to: http://clvr.li/2hwucFV

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Taking a break and exploring new flavors with Liberté Yogurt

Being a full-time student and blogger can sometimes make me feel overwhelmed with all the endless tasks and deadlines presented every day.

Since I found myself getting stressed and irritable, I decided to research ways to help me get through my day without feeling burnt out. I came across the Pomodoro Technique. This simple shift has completely improved my productivity and has actually made my assignments and work more enjoyable. This technique involves working in intervals of 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks in between.

In those 5 minutes, I either stretch, take a quick walk or do my favorite thing...have a snack.

Recently my new go to snack has been Liberté Ecuadorian Mango Yogurt.

When selecting yogurt, I tend to pick strawberry or strawberry banana flavors. They seem to be the ones that taste the best, in my opinion. But this time, I decided to be adventurous and try something completely different.

I was torn between the Liberté Ecuadorian Mango and the Liberté Phillippine Coconut flavor. Both looked so good!

I typically love coconut anything but wanted to try the mango flavor first since I've never had it in yogurt before. Mangos are one of my favorite fruits so I had high hopes the Liberté Ecuadorian Mango wouldn't disappoint.

And it didn't!

I loved the smooth creamy consistency and how refreshing the Ecuadorian Mango was. It was sweet but not overly sweet. It would be a great option for a quick breakfast-as is or in a smoothie, in-between meal snacking or even as dessert.

Besides winning me over with the delicious taste, I love that Liberté has partnered with Organic Valley and is now all organic.

Love their new mission and commitment to their products.

When you know what’s right,
that’s what you do.

"We believe that organic dairy makes a superior product, but that’s just one of the reasons why we made the transition to organic. Organic dairy is also better for the environment, better for the cows it comes from, and better for the farmers who bring it to us. It’s a win-win – and who doesn’t like to win?"

Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, make sure to stop what you're doing, take a deep breath and take a quick 5 minute break. Your body and mind will thank you.

If you're looking for a companion during your break, make sure to bring along a Liberté yogurt! You can find them at your local Publix supermarket. Check out their savings coupon here.

Have you tried Liberté? Let me know what's your favorite flavor. I'm excited to try them all!


Golfing with Gran Reserva Wines

One of the many things I love sharing on my blog is the concept of always learning something new. Whether it's a new experience, travel destination or fashion trend- I'm all about stepping outside of your comfort zone.

I've never golfed before and I'm completely clueless on how to even begin to play. But I figured this was the year I'd give it a try.

I've gone mini golfing a couple of times before, so I relied on those "skills" and my friend Dylan to help me successfully get through the day.

Golfing

Dylan and I are pretty much on the same level when it comes to golfing: Not good!

But thankfully, there are two things we are good at.

Having fun and drinking wine! 

Golfing with Grand Reserva Wine

After a few minutes of playing, we got comfortable with our swings and actually enjoyed our game. If you're new to golfing, don't stress too much about points or hitting the ball properly. With anything in life, it takes practice and patience to get any good. 

We went into the day focused on just having fun- and of course looking the part. Don't we look like real golfers?

Golfing with Grand Reserva Wine

In between rounds, we made sure to take our much needed Gran Reserva wine breaks.

Golfing and Grand Reserva
Golfing and Grand Reserva

Who knew golfing and wine could be such a fun combination?

Next time you purchase wine, look for the specially marked necker bottles and enjoy a $25 credit on a round of golf at major golf courses nationwide courtesy of Concha y Toro Gran Reserva.

Feeling lucky? Enter the Tee Time Sweepstakes to win one year of free golf.

Grand Reserva

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Getting Married? Build Your Wedding Website with GoDaddy

Planning a wedding can often times be overwhelming and stressful. Planning your wedding website doesn’t have to be.

Last year, my sister got married and as the maid of honor, I was there to help her every step of the way. I never knew how many details and expenses were involved in having your dream wedding come to life, especially when planning a destination wedding. I can see why Bridezillas exists. Luckily, my sister was a cool and collected blushing bride- so being around her was a pleaseant and fun experience.

Blush Wedding

The part I enjoyed the most throughout the whole wedding process, well besides looking at the delicious dinner menu options, was helping her create her beautiful wedding website.

I love the concept of having a way to document your love story and providing information to your guests leading up to your special day. It was so much fun going through old pictures of my sister and brother in law and hearing the stories behind them. Such a sweet moment going down memory lane.

Recently, one of good friends got engaged and is planning to have a small destination wedding in Costa Rica. Since I have experience and love creating, I offered to help her build her wedding website with GoDaddy 's Go Central website.

GoCentral gives engaged couples an easy way for their guests to find all the wedding info they need. And because a website can be built in less than an hour – no previous website-building experience necessary!

GoCentral GoDaddy Wedding Website

Thanks to the easy step by step instructions, creating your website is super easy and fast. My friend and I poured ourselves a nice glass of wine and started building her wedding site.

We started out with the basics.

How they met and the fun details about their engagement! To me, this is the fun part. I always love hearing love stories, especially when it involves my friends.

GoCentral Go Daddy Wedding Website

We chose GoCentral because it contains all the components that make a great wedding website – a contact form to collect RSVPs, maps to help your guests navigate their way to the wedding, galleries to display photos of the happy couple, email marketing features to quickly reach guests, and ways to easily share info on registries, bridal party, and the big day itself.

The website can be updated and viewed on mobile, making it easy to keep guests updated up until the moment the ceremony begins.

GoDaddy Go Central Wedding website

When it comes down to it, weddings are over in a heartbeat - but thanks to GoCentral you can keep memories of the big day alive after.

I can't wait to look back next year at all the fun memories created on my friend's special wedding day!

 


Staying cool with Outshine Fruit Bars

This post is sponsored by Outshine® but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Here in Florida the sun is always shinning and the temperatures stay consistently warm. For that reason, I'm always on a constant search for anything refreshing to get me through these hot days.

I have a huge sweet tooth and sometimes don't make the best choices. Luckily, brands like Outshine save the day and let you indulge without the guilt! Their fruit bars are not only delicious but most of them are under 100 calories!

Now that my semester for school is over, I finally have time to work on my tan and relax by the pool. I love being able to enjoy beautiful days like these. And of course, can't forget my snack to keep me cool!

Snack Brighter with Outshine

Outshine is the perfect healthy treat made with simple and honest ingredients. There is no GMO in nearly half of their products, and by the end of the year they’re aiming to have no GMO ingredients in nearly all of their bars.

How great is that? Plus there are so many fruit flavors to choose from. My favorite is coconut but decided to try out the watermelon bar. They also so have yogurt bars as well.

Click here to view all their flavors.

Check out where you can buy Outshine here! Make sure you follow them on Instagram to get some yummy inspirations.

Eat Smarter and Snack Brighter with Outshine!

How do you stay cool?


Morning Routine For A More Productive Day

How you start your morning can affect your productivity throughout the day. Having a morning routine can help you become more successful, make wiser choices and reinforce positive behavior. Here are a few tips that will help you tackle the day and hopefully reduce your stress.

 

Wake up and Stretch:

I recently started to incorporate stretching into my morning routine. Attempting to exercise so early in the morning can be quite the challenge. I'm not a morning person, so the thought of having to perform any type of physical activity doesn't seem appealing to me. With stretching, all you need is a few minutes to feel the benefits such as improved posture, increased blood flow and a boost in energy.

Give Gratitude:

I start and end my day with my gratitude journal. I write down three things I'm thankful for first thing in the morning, as well as three intentions I have for the day. I noticed that focusing more on my blessings rather than the things I can't control, helps me improve my outlook for the day. Research has shown that by simply keeping a gratitude journal—regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful—can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.

Meditate:

With only 10 mins you can transform your whole day thanks to meditation. Meditation helps center your thoughts and gives you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional state and overall health. Since I'm fairly new at meditating, I prefer using guided meditations. Luckily, there are many great apps available for your phone that guides you through the whole process. Within one week of meditating, you'll feel and notice the difference in your productivity level and focus.

Skip the Shower:

If you're anything like me, you probably value sleeping in an extra 15-30 mins in the morning. I prefer to shower at night instead. I love the feeling of going to bed fresh and clean and knowing that all the sweat from the day and from my evening work out will not be all over my sheets. Gaining that extra time in the morning makes a big difference and allows me to take my time getting ready, versus being in a rush to get out the door. All I have to worry about is hair, makeup and making sure I put on deodorant.  The brand I use and recommend is Dove. I've been loving Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant in Coconut. It offers 48 hours of odor protection and contains added skincare benefits with its NutriumMoisture formula and Dove ¼ moisturizers! It smells delicious and keeps me feeling fresh all day long.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast:

It’s no secret breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We all know it, but how many of us actually take the time to sit down and have a healthy breakfast before starting our day? The ideal breakfast should contain a good balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates (which break down into sugars) are essential and can significantly affect productivity throughout the day. If a sit down breakfast is not possible because of time, then a healthy and delicious alternative is a green smoothie. It's packed with nutrients that will help you stay full and keep you going until lunch time.

Write Down Your Goals:

I'm a big fan of writing down your goals for the day in the form of a to-do list. Planning ahead is an important time-management tool to keep you on track and help you prioritize and set the trajectory of the day. My to-do list is nothing fancy, just a piece of paper with a motivational quote to motivate me. I keep it simple with no more than five items on it. If your list is too long, you spend more time stressing out about how you haven’t tackled item #15, then actually focusing on accomplishing your goals. You use too much energy and mental stamina keeping track of, and feeling bad about, all the things you haven’t done. This negative thought pattern tends to hold you back and make you much less productive.

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Back to School shopping made simple with Amazon Prime Student

Going back to school can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful. From deadlines to exams to group projects and presentations, there is so much a student has to deal with. Purchasing school supplies and textbooks shouldn't be one of them.

Thanks to the new benefits of Amazon Prime Student, back to school shopping for the semester has become much more easier and convinient with it's new benefits and savings.

Besides free 2-day shipping, an Amazon Prime Student membership includes exclusive college deals, great prices on textbooks, and unlimited streaming on tens of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video.

My favorite two features of Amazon Prime Students are the unlimited listening to original audio series with Audible and unlimited reading on any device with Prime Reading. Makes catching up on books super easy and enjoyable.

Amazon Prime

Want to avoid the lines and high prices at the bookstore this semester? In addition to Amazon Prime Student benefits, Amazon can help students save time and money by skipping the bookstore line and visiting the Textbooks Store.

Amazon offers savings of up to 80% off price list for rentals between 30 to 360 days and up to 60% off purchases. With Amazon’s flexible rental program, students can decide how long to keep the material. And, when it comes time to send items back, Amazon will pay for return shipping.

Whether you need to purchase decorations for your dorm room or need new school supplies and textbooks, Amazon has you covered— and you can have it in hand within 2 days with free shipping.

Signing up for Amazon Prime Student is quick and easy, and gives you access to so many benefits and features. And thanks to Sprint, your first six months are free! You can cancel anytime, but trust me, you wont want to!

After your 6 month trial, you will receive 50% off the regular Amazon Prime Membership cost, making your student price only $49 annually. Refer a friend and get $10 Amazon store credit. When they sign up for a sponsored trial of Amazon Prime Student they will also get $10 toward their next Amazon purchase.

Amazon Prime

To sign up for Amazon Prime Student, click on the button that says “Start Your 6-Month Trial” and then “Create your Amazon account.” Follow the instructions and you will be ready to start shopping in no time. .

Keep up with the latest deals and promotions by following Amazon Prime Student on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat (add amazonstudent).

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.