Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Don't Let Injuries Bring Your Fitness Plan To A Grinding Halt

Written by a contributing writer 


The last thing you want when you’re working towards fitness goals is an injury. If you’re on a mission to get in shape, here are some simple tips to keep injuries at bay.

Invest in the right equipment

If you plan to take up a new sport, try a different activity, or hit the gym, it’s essential to make sure you have the right equipment. Don’t try and play tennis in flip-flops or go to the gym in baggy trousers that run the risk of getting trapped in the treadmill. You don’t have to spend a fortune on clothes, shoes, rackets, and sticks, but it’s wise to cover the basics. If you haven’t got the right equipment, it can increase the risk of accidents and injuries and prevent you from performing to the best of your ability. If you fancy trying a class or a sport to see if you enjoy it, ask about a free trial, as many gyms, and sports centers offer this option.



Image credit https://pixabay.com/en/running-shoes-run-sneakers-shoes-2661558/


Protect previous injuries

If you’ve had an injury in the past, it’s important to understand how this might impact you going forward. If you still get pain when you run, for example, it may be wise to consult a trainer or ask your doctor for advice before starting a new fitness regime. You may find that using supports or investing in orthotics such as those available at https://biopods.com/ will help to minimize pain and improve your performance. If you’re working out, and you get recurrent aches, don’t hesitate to see your doctor. You may find that an old injury hasn’t healed quite as fast as you expected, and continuing may do more harm than good. Physical therapy is often beneficial for those recovering from injury.


Warm up


If you’re short on time, or you’re excited about getting started on a new fitness plan, you may be tempted to skip the warm-up. The warm-up is actually one of the most important aspects of any workout. When you do a warm-up, your heart rate increases and this means that blood is pumped around your body faster to deliver oxygen to your muscles. If you don’t take time to warm up, you run the risk of pulling muscles and damaging soft tissue. Spend 5-10 minutes doing light cardio exercises combined with stretching. It’s also essential to cool down after exercise. You can find useful warm-up tips here https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/warm-up/5-minute-warm-up-workout/.


Master the technique

If you’re playing sports or using machines at the gym, it’s crucial to master the technique. If you’re throwing, jumping, or lifting with the wrong action, this could lead to significant injuries, as well as affect your performance levels. It’s beneficial to take classes or arrange sessions with experienced trainers if you’re new to a sport.



Image by https://www.dm.af.mil/Media/Features/Display/Article/929593/worth-the-weight/


Are you working towards new fitness goals or are you keen to be more active? Injuries can put a damper on good intentions, so make sure you have the right equipment, always take time to warm up, protect old injuries, and use the right technique. Good luck!

Monday, August 13, 2018

6 Tips All Parents Need For Camping With Kids

Written by a contributing writer



Source


Camping with your children can be an exciting, fun, and adventurous experience. It offers you the chance to get away from the stresses of everyday life, ditch your technology, and really bond with your little ones. That being said, without proper planning and preparation, camping can quickly turn into a cold, damp, muddy, and stressful nightmare. If you’re planning a camping adventure with your children this summer, here are six things you need to know.


Make Sure You Plan Ahead


Throughout the summer, campsites can fill up incredibly quickly, so it’s important that you plan ahead and make a reservation as soon as you can. That being said, you should still ensure that you do plenty of research on your site before you book it. Some campgrounds don’t allow children or don’t have the facilities to accommodate them, so make sure that yours is suitable.


Pack Everything You Might Need


Usually, when you go on vacation, you should try to take as little as possible, but when you’re camping, that’s rarely an option. Instead, you should buy a roof rack and bag, like the ones from this website, and fill it with everything you might need for your trip. Ensure you have clothes for every weather, plenty of entertainment, and all of the camping gear and equipment required.


Set Some Campsite Safety Rules

Your campsite may say that it’s child-friendly, but that doesn’t mean you should let your little ones run off alone the minute you arrive there. Instead, you should pitch your tent and then take them for a walk around the grounds. While you do this, you should explain which areas are out of bounds and set some safety rules. If they are too young to understand this, then they shouldn’t be left alone.



Source

Share Chores With Your Children

From cooking to cleaning to collecting firewood, camping comes with a number of chores that you’re not usually faced with when you go on vacation. Instead of doing all of these chores yourself, ask your children to pitch in now and then. Depending on their ages, there are a number of things they could do. This helps them to learn responsibility and independence.


Stick To Your Usual Routine
When you’re camping with really young children, it’s important that you stick to your usual routine as much as you can. Of course, there will likely be some adjustments that need to be made, but you should avoid skipping nap times or going to bed a lot later than normal. This way, your kids will be less tired and cranky, and you’ll all have a much more enjoyable trip.


Don’t Try To Go Wild

For your first time camping, you should make sure that you go for a campsite that has shower and toilet facilities, as well as other useful and fun amenities, like a shop, playground, and kids club. It can be tempting to go all out and rough it for a week, but this can make your trip incredibly stressful and uncomfortable. You can always go wild when you have a bit more experience.


If you’re planning a camping trip with your little ones, these tips should help make your time a lot more fun and relaxing.

5 Trendy Places to Buy Clothes Online

Written by a contributing writer



In this fast-paced world, everyone tends to be busy all the time. That does not leave a lot of time to shop for new, trendy clothes at the mall or some other brick-and-mortar shop. That’s where online shopping comes in to save us all. It’s fast, convenient, and – if you know the right places to look – full of jaw-dropping deals that are usually harder to find in-store. It allows you to look stylish without completely draining your bank account.

However, online shopping has one major drawback. There are so many online stores available on the interwebs; how do you choose where to spend your money? That’s because, when it comes to online shopping, you have to consider more than just the price tag. You want to be sure that the online shop can guarantee you high-quality items, fast and affordable shipping, reasonable return policies, and privacy protection. Also, you will want to ensure that the store’s style and aesthetic matches with yours. If you’re searching for trendy clothes, here are 5 of the best online stores to shop from:

1. The Black Ravens

If you’re a fan of the alternative look, then TBR is the perfect online shop for you. The brand is all about embracing unique styles, so you can expect lots of Gothic, Rocker, Punk, and Emo items here. And if you like doing cosplay, then you’ll love the wide selection here.

The store is based both in the US and UK, so look forward to fast shipping times all around the world. This is one of the best store options for a truly unique look.

2. Fashion Nova


No roundup of online clothing stores would be complete without including the ever-trendy Fashion Nova. This Instagram is wildly popular with the young and hip, especially because it seems to be a staple for celebrities and trendsetters.

It’s one of the most famous online clothing brands, popular for its inexpensive party wear and sultry aesthetic. If you’re looking for something pretty for a fun night out, Fashion Nova is the best choice for you.

3. ASOS

Do you love the style and glamour of fashion magazines? Then you’ll adore ASOS. This brand built its popularity on providing clothing styles that are exactly “as seen on screen”. The best thing about it is that it also offers a well-rounded experience for the buyer. Browse through the site and you’ll find pages full of beautiful products, featured style and fashion articles, and reams of suggested products and style ideas.

It’s pretty pricey, but you are assured of great quality and excellent customer service. Your best bet is to wait for one of their regular sales to snag any pieces that you have been eyeing.

4. Forever 21

This is probably one of the most well-known online clothing and accessories brands around. It’s popular with the young crowd, especially college students looking for a good deal. It always has the latest styles and trends, plus their clothes are very affordable.

Forever 21 offers clothing in a wide range of sizes, so you can always get what you want in the perfect fit. However, this store distinguishes itself with the extensive selection of petite and plus-size items, which are some of the hardest to get when shopping online.

5. Style for Less

While Style for Less has many storefront locations, the easiest way to shop here is through their online store. You get access to some of the trendiest women’s clothing, accessories, and footwear for incredibly low prices. Furthermore, it’s full of great deals and sales on a regular basis. Not many people know about this store, but it is well worth the look.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Which Specific Hair Extensions Should You Purchase?

Written by a contributing writer




Hair extensions are a very popular product that have helped millions of women around the world glam up and change their hairstyle without having to commit to coloring their hair or waiting for it to grow out. You may think that it is finally time for you to make a change in the way that your hair is styled. If this is the case, you might want to consider using hair extensions to achieve your desired look. But be careful about which extensions you choose! Not all hair extensions are created equally. Here are some tips that will help you choose the hair extensions that are right for you.

1. People who style hair for a living are an invaluable resource when shopping for hair extensions.

There is nobody better to ask about hair extensions than some who has worked with them day after day. Therefore, paying a visit to your local hair salon and talking to some of the professionals who work there may be a good idea. Tell them the specific look you are going for. They should be able to pass along some very useful advice that will send you in the right direction in terms of which hair extensions are right for you. Be sure to ask which brands are the most popular. Which brands are made the best and will last the longest? You also might want to get a few lessons about how to best put in your hair extensions if you have never done it on your own before. This will help the process go much more smoothly when you are on your own at home.

2. Get the advice of people you know who wear hair extensions on a regular basis.

You might have some friends or coworkers who often wear hair extensions. If so, they may be a great resource on price point and quality of hair extensions.  Which type of extensions do they use and recommend? In what situations do they recommend not wearing extensions? Is there any last minute advice they can give you before you start looking in stores and online for hair extensions? Last but not least, you should find out where they do all of their shopping for hair extensions. For example, you can visit Eden Hair Extensions for tape in hair extensions.

3. What sort of return policy does the store or website have?

The reality is that you might not like the hair extensions that you buy once you get them home. They might look very pretty on the model who is pictured on the box. However, what you see in the mirror at home might be completely different. This is why it is always very important to verify the specific return policy of the store or online retailer where the hair extensions were purchased. How long do you have to get your money back? It is very important that you never assume how much time you will have. All stores have different return policies. The specifics of the return policy should be listed on the receipt of any store where your hair extension purchase is made. Websites are required to have a page where their return policy is spelled out very clearly for any potential customers to read.

4. Always shop around to compare prices.

You might find some hair extensions that look really great as soon as you start shopping.  But try not to be in a big hurry to make your purchase. A little looking around could very easily allow you to discover a deal that is even better than the one you found initially. It is in your best interests to shop around.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Mom Hacks to Save Money with the Family Car

Written by a contributing writer  



Source

For most families, having a car is an absolute necessity. They’re usually quicker and more reliable than public transportation. This makes it easier to get to school, work, and everywhere else in between. And, in turn, ends up massively reducing stress for you and your kids. It gives you the chance to go on road trips together (which are often deemed the best type of holiday for families). Unfortunately, as great as family cars can be, they’re not cheap and cost a lot to run each month. Thankfully, there are several ways to cut costs and save some money.


Source

1. Ensure You Drive Sensibly

No one should be driving dangerously, especially with kids in the car, but if you’re looking to save some money, then you have even more reason to reconsider your driving style. If you tend to speed, accelerate rapidly, and brake hard, you will lower your gas mileage, which means that your fuel won’t go as far as you want it to. These behaviours could also lead to a crash, which can result in some pretty costly repairs. It’s just not worth it, so always ensure you drive safely.


2. Turn Off Your Engine

When you pick your kids up from school, do you park and turn the engine off or wait with the car turned on? Unless you get out of the vehicle to meet your children at the gates, I would imagine that you leave your engine turned on. Unfortunately, this can waste up to half a gallon of fuel every single hour. This might not seem like much at first, but it quickly builds up. It’s much more fuel efficient to turn your engine off and then drive slowly for a few minutes when you go again. 


3. Reconsider Your Car Finance

Most families can’t afford to pay for a car outright, and instead put down a deposit and pay in monthly installments. While this is more convenient and budget-friendly, you could end up with a costly deal. Because of this, you should look at your terms and think about applying for a refinance auto loan. This could save you money on your total amount and money each month, as well as lower your interest rate. Just be sure you consider your options before doing this.


Source

4. Turn Your Teen Away

If you have a teenager that wants to start learning to drive, you should think twice before adding them to your insurance policy. Insurance companies tend to view teenagers as a risk, and, as such, charge higher rates than they do for adults and experienced drivers. This means that adding your child to your policy could result in you paying a lot more each month. Because of this, you might want to send your teen to an instructor instead of teaching them to drive yourself.

A family car is a costly, but, often, necessary expense. You can’t avoid paying for it, but that doesn’t mean you have to shell out quite so much cash. With the hacks above, you should be able to cut costs and save yourself a bit of money each month.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Summer Skincare - Acne Skincare Update

It's my FAVORITE part of the entire beauty scene - skincare! I don't know where my genuine love of an involved skincare routine really started. I've had pretty difficult skin since my late teens. So I've become accustomed to doing much more than just washing my face. But somewhere along the way, I began to enjoy the journey of figuring out which ingredients worked for me, which didn't, and why that was.

As the hot, humid, Florida summer crept up, I knew it was time to start changing my skincare routine around. The weather was changing AND I was suddenly having skin problems. The kind of skin problems I had at 19. Yep. Pimples. Zits. Acne. Whatever you want to call it. I suddenly had a major breakout of cystic acne (that I somehow managed to contain and conceal pretty well) and had to figure out how to not only combat this breakou, but also prevent future breakouts.

Now, I'm pretty sure getting off of Yaz (that's a whole different post) is what triggered it. And at 19, the only thing that worked for me was Proactiv. But I'm trying to avoid going back onto that entire system because, while it works, it also is something that took forever to wean my skin off of. In a weird way, my skin gets addicted to it. (Anyone else?) On top of my new/old pimple problem, I still have to continue preventing sun spots and uneven skin tone. Well, this skin care challenge... I accepted.

So here are the products I've been using that have worked to keep acne at bay, heal the breakout I had, protect my skin from the Florida sunshine, and still allow me to have some anti-aging ingredients in my skincare routine.


Face Wash/Scrubs


1. Proactiv Step 1 Acne Wash

Let's get this one out of the way. Yes, I went back to the wash. It's a tried and true. The scent of the wash reminds me of my college years. It's expensive... which is the only thing I don't like about it. I only use it at night after I use the scrub below.

2. ACURE Brilliantly Brightening Facial Scrub

I've been using this one for awhile and, honestly, it's one of the best scrubs I've ever used. It has enough grit to really exfoliate, but not so much that it's irritating. It doesn't break me out and I love the natural ingredients. It's not bad price wise at full price. But I can usually find it for CHEAP at Marshall's/TJ Maxx.

3. Neutralyze Face Wash

I found this guy on Amazon. I tried the entire system but ended up only really liking the wash. It has mandelic acid (think brightening and skin clearing effects of Glycolic Acid but without the purging) and salicylic acid. It feels and smells like an acne wash from the dermatologist. For some reason, I like that. It feels more legit that way. I noticed a difference in my skin after using this. My skin tone was more even and there were fewer blemishes forming. The price isn't bad (about $15) but I go through it quickly even though I only use it in the morning with my Foreo Luna Mini.

4. Cosrx Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

This is a brand that is completely new to me! And I have Youtuber Gothamista to thank for that.  It's a Korean skincare brand that offers high-quality products at a low price. I use this refreshing face wash on the mornings that my skin feels a little dry from using my acne spot treatments (more on those later). One bottle lasts a while, it feels nice on, and it doesn't leave behind any residue. Plus, it contains tea tree oil to help fight blemishes.

Toners & Serums

1. Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

I LOVE this toner. I started by spraying it onto a cotton ball and using it that way. But now I just mist it onto my face. It has glycolic acid in it and really helps with the overall look of my skin.

2.  Whamisa by Glow Recipe® Green Tea Serum Toner

Yes, I STILL use this serum toner. Still love it. Still love that it makes my skin look and feel so smooth. There are days when I skip this step, but I still use it most days/nights.

3.  HARISU Cosmeceuticals's AHA 15% Gel

Another new addition. Does this gel serum help with acne? I'm not sure. But it does give my skin a glow. It doesn't smell great and does not have a luxurious feel to it. But it is a quality product for under $7.

4.  Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

This is my tried and true! It's about $20 so I've tried to find a less expensive alternative, but I always come back to this one. I just haven't found anything that even compares to this serum.

Day Moisturizers

1. Cosrx Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap

To be honest, I'm still on the fence when it comes to this moisturizer. I like how it feels, I don't think it breaks me out, but I haven't been using it long enough to see any results.

2. Garnier SkinActive SPF 30 Face Moisturizer with Vitamin C

I've used this in the past and went back to it. Once my skin started breaking out I had to stop using most of the more natural based products I was using. Why? Because they all contain several different oils. And oil combats oil. However, my issue stems not so much from being oily, but from having pores that clog easily. And oil clogs my skin up! So I went back to this oil-free SPF moisturizer from my past.

Night Creams

1. Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar Overnight Recharging & Refining Moisturizer

This is where things usually take a pricey turn. I have a hard time finding effective drugstore night creams that work for my skin. So I turn to higher-end brands. This one by Philosophy isn't too bad price wise. It doesn't make my skin break out, contains glycolic acid (seeing the trend?), and is moisturizing without being greasy.

2. Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation Cream

If I had to pick a skincare brand that I really trust, I'd pick Ole Henriksen. Yes, their products are pricey but I found this cream at Marshall's for about $6. Yep! It has licorice root extract and vitamin c which both brighten skin. This is another non-greasy option.

Spot Treatment

1. Mario Badescu Drying Mask

Not the drying lotion. The drying mask. It smells awful. I mean, it is probably the worst smelling skincare product I've ever used. But it works. It contains zinc and sulfur. It dries, shrinks, and reduces the redness of blemishes.  I mix this with the product below before applying them to blemishes.

2. Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Spot Treatment Cream

This is a 10% benzoyl peroxide treatment. I honestly think any benzoyl peroxide treatment would work. This just happens to be the one I have.

I also use a couple of LED photon treatment products- but that is another post I will be doing soon!



My Routine (it's a lot)

Morning

1. Foreo Mini with Cosrx face wash OR Neutralyze face wash
2. Cosrx toner
3. Green tea toner serum
4. AHA Gel mixed with Derma E serum
5. Cosrx oil-free moisturizer
6. Garnier SPF moisturizer

Evening (let's be real. Like 10pm)

1. (Sometimes) LED Photon mask
2. Acure scrub
3. Proactiv face wash
4. Cosrx toner
5. Green tea toner serum
6. AHA Gel mixed with Derma E serum
7.  (Sometimes) Ole Henriksen cream
8. Hope in a Jar cream

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Gifts the Moms You Know Really Want

Written by a contributing writer




Motherhood is one of the most beautiful experiences a woman can experience. The ability to bring life into the world and nurture that life into a productive human being is an amazing superpower. Furthermore, it teaches a woman so much about herself and helps her become more selfless. However, motherhood is a challenging experience as well. Motherhood will test you in ways that you never realized it could. Between sleepless nights, tears and tantrums, it can be difficult to deal with the children in those early years. If you know a mother who is in the trenches of the terrible twos or the sleepless newborn stage, consider these ways you can show love and support.

1. Babysitting
If you're great with children, offer to come over and babysit while your friend takes a nap or catches up on other tasks. Sometimes, a mom just needs a few hours to get herself together.

2. Gifts

Think of thoughtful gifts that a mom can currently enjoy. If she has a lot of things to do, don't give her a book to read. An audiobook might be more appropriate. Candy gift baskets, gift cards to her favorite stores and luxurious bath sets are perfect options to bring a busy mom.

3. Cooking
Prepare a few dishes that are easy for a mother to freeze until she's ready to eat them. Make a huge pasta dish like lasagna or macaroni and cheese. Additionally, you can purchase a pre-packaged salad mix and bring a juice carton as well. Depending on how large a woman's family is, this can easily provide dinner for a day or two.

4. Chores
A mother who has a lot on her plate doesn't have much time to do household chores. It's not uncommon for a mother to struggle to manage all the tasks she needs to take care of in one day. In order to change this trajectory, it's nice to offer to come over and take care of a few chores. Laundry is always a big job. Offer to take the laundry to the local dry cleaner and allow them to take care of it. Even a task as simple as cleaning the kitchen will really help a mother out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

5 Tips to Strengthening Your Hair

Written by a contributing writer 


When hair is healthy and well groomed, it tends to have an aesthetically pleasing allure. However, the buck doesn’t stop with just making it look good; there is extra work involved to ensure that you take care of it as well. Neglected hair is easily noticeable, making your mane look weak and dull. This can also lead to massive hair loss which is bound to affect anyone's self-esteem significantly. In some extreme cases, it can even be an indicator that there is an underlying medical issue at hand.

So how do you strengthen your hair and ensure that it looks good at the same time? The hair needs to be strengthened from the roots. While it can be a challenge to keep the hair healthy when factors like dust and heat come into play, there are several measures that you can take to help you keep your tresses strong and undamaged. Some of them include:

1. Taking Supplements

People tend to underestimate the impact that supplements have on strengthening weak hair. We need to understand what the ingredients in the supplements are and what they can do for your hair to appreciate their importance. Supplements that target the strength of the hair should be rich in vitamin C, biotin, zinc and iron among others. Hairlossable supplements contain all these nutrients and more that are great for your hair.

2. Use the Right Products

By using the right kind of products, you are well on your way to getting the strong hair that you desire. When you are out shopping for your hair products, ensure that you only stick to the ones that are free from harmful chemicals like parabens. Some of the best products are made from natural ingredients. They have numerous hair strengthening properties that will help to reinforce your hair’s strength and health.

3. Stay Hydrated

Water is really the universal cure for everything. Well, staying hydrated is a sure fire way to ensure that all bodily functions are running optimally. This includes your hair because moisturizing it from the inside allows it to thrive and grow. Water also helps to flush out the toxins that would otherwise impede your hair’s growth. You can also keep your hair moisturized by having a spritz bottle that contains your favorite hair oils and a large percentage of water. Moisturized hair is happy hair.

4. Eat the Right Food

Eating the right food is possibly one of the easiest ways to strengthen your hair. Food that is rich in minerals, proteins, and vitamins help to nourish your hair right from the scalp to the ends. Keep away from processed, fatty foods and concentrate on meals that are rich in the components mentioned above. These foods can work in tandem with the supplements mentioned above to give your hair the best opportunity to grow while thriving in a healthy environment.

5. Stay Away From Heat

Heat is the biggest adversary to strong hair because it can cause a lot of damage, breakage, split ends and finally, thin hair over a period of time. Stay away from heated styling tools because they tend to damage your hair all the way from the roots down. You can easily replace the use of these tools by getting innovative and enhancing your hair with other products.

If you have to use these thermal tools, ensure that you use a heat protectant on your hair while keeping the heat at very low temperatures. Once you are done with the heat styling tools, finish up with products that include protective and strengthening properties.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Gastritis: When Weight Loss Isn't Healthy

Whew. Where do I start? You may have noticed my contributors have somewhat taken the lead when it comes to posting on here. 1. - Thank goodness for them. And, 2., there is, of course, a reason for this. I'm going to share a small piece of my own life here. Something that I don't do very often. But I really think sharing this may help someone.  Because I know when I was in the thick of this journey, I turned to the internet for help. When my doctors couldn't give me answers or advice, other blogs and online forums did. So this post is going to be super informal (not that I'm ever really "formal") and me just "talking" to you all about my experience in hopes of reaching someone who is just as confused as I was during the start of this.

As you can tell from the title, I have gastritis. My years of using aspirin and ibuprofen to treat migraines have finally caught up with me. My stomach lining is damaged and I am now being treated with medication and a very restrictive, bland diet.  It's definitely no fun, but nothing compared to the months (yes, months!) leading up to my diagnosis.

It started mid-December. My husband and I went on one of our rare date nights to see a movie and grab food. During the movie, I ate popcorn and candy (Treat yo'self!) and noticed that I felt a little pain in my abdomen and a bit of nausea. I do have IBS so I initially thought that it was acting up even though I hadn't eaten any trigger foods. I brushed it off. We went out to eat. I got nachos. And, again, nausea and pain. But more intense. I, again, brushed it off.

The next day we were visiting my in-laws, and after drinking a soda and having some chips (real clean diet, you guys) I felt a more intense nausea with pain. Something was wrong. This wasn't my IBS. I could tell. I remember feeling a feeling I felt when I was pregnant with my son.  That baby moving feeling. But it was in my far left, lower abdomen. What? What is that? (No one has been able to explain what that part to me to this day.)

Initially, I thought what most of us ladies think.  Did my birth control fail? Am I pregnant? Took a pregnancy test (I am the only one who does this first before going to the doctor for basically anything?), not pregnant. Ok...Well... I have to go to the doctor.

I go to my primary. He's super confused about the baby moving feeling - "You're not pregnant?" Nope. Orders and gets me into a CT scan that day. The results come back. Mesenteric adenitis. Basically, my lymph nodes in my abdomen are a little swollen and there's a lot of them showing. Ok. So intestinal infection. Antibiotics and I should be good, right?

In theory, except every antibiotic he put me on gave me awful side effects. So I ended up going back to the doctor nearly every day that week to get my prescription changed. I then develop a fever. While on antibiotics. My doctor thinks its a UTI (it wasn't) and switches my antibiotics. The weekend comes, the pain is worse. I still have a fever. I feel much worse. I end up going to the ER.

They do blood tests. Can't find anything. Can't find any sign of infection. Don't know what is going on with me. But switch my antibiotic to a massive, MASSIVE dose of an antibiotic I know my system likes (and it makes my skin glow on top of it).  And I basically hope this is the end of this.

In the meantime, I can't eat anything. I mean, I'm literally living off of water, baby food (literal Gerber baby food -sweet potato and veggies), and bread. It's Christmas. My family is Italian. And I ate baby food and bread during the usual Christmas feast. It was not a good time.

I can also barely finish the baby food without feeling overly full and nauseated. I finish the antibiotics and I am not getting better. The pain is still happening. The nausea is worse. And by now it's the beginning of  January and I've lost 15lbs. 15lbs of unintentional weight loss. I had some lbs I wanted to lose so I'm not super concerned about the weight loss at this time, but I am aware this is not healthy. And this is something I need to address asap. So I make an appointment with a GI.

My GI has retired. So I had to find a new one. I go into the appointment. He basically says I am still recovering from an intestinal infection (which to this day, I don't really know if I ever really had. Remember, blood tests showed no sign of infection) and that it's taking me a long time to recover because I already have a sensitive system (IBS) and it's probably all thrown off. He sees my "very strong" (his words) family history of colon/rectal cancer and orders a colonoscopy.

Ok... so I give it another couple of weeks. I feel worse. Still surviving on baby food and bread. Nope. Go back to the GI. He orders another CT scan. The CT scan still shows mesenteric adenitis. Hasn't changed at all. All of those antibiotics... did nothing. Awesome.

I do the prep for the colonoscopy. I've had one before so I'm not worried. But the prep I've used in the past (basically huge pills that taste like salt) causes kidney damage so it's not used anymore. I have to use the liquid. It tastes like bile. And was way too harsh for my sensitive system. I only kept down half of it. But colonoscopy happens. Comes back normal. So that's good.

Now it's February. I go back for my follow up. I've lost 20lbs total. I'm concerned. I also am having reflux which I've NEVER experienced before. Not even while pregnant. He diagnoses me with GERD. Basically, it's acid reflux disease. Gives me a PPI, tells me to come back.

The PPI works. But I start getting intense pain in my legs. I look online, it's a rare side effect of the medication. I call the doctor. He prescribes me Zantac. And I experience PPI rebound. Basically, because of how PPI medications work, my body is now producing more acid off of the PPI than it did before I ever started the medication. I look up information online and learn all of the awful long-term side effects that come with PPIs. And how difficult they are to quit if you are on them for a long period of time. Rebound can last up to 3 months. Luckily, mine only lasted a few days. I was only on the medication for a week and a half.

While all of this is going on, I started feeling shortness of breath, pain in my chest that radiates to my back, and tightness in my chest (and sometimes in my throat). My husband takes my blood pressure and pulse. My pulse is in the 120s. Resting. Not normal for me at all. My normal resting pulse is in the 60s or 70s. I end up feeling awful one night. Go to the ER. My pulse is in the 140s. EKG has a minor abnormality on it. Lots of blood tests show nothing. Chest x-ray shows nothing. They can't get my pulse down. I'm laying in bed and it's jumping between 100 and the 120s. I'm admitted to the hospital overnight. I do an echocardiogram, stress test, more blood tests, and they can't find anything wrong with my heart. They monitor me the entire time. My heart rate is still in the 100's to 120's resting. But they release me the next evening and tell me to see a cardiologist. So I start seeing a cardiologist.

(Also sometime within this period, my ears hurt all of the time. And I start seeing an ENT- get tests and a ct scan done there- but that's way too much to get into for this post.)

I get side effects from the Zantac. Aching in my joints. No. This time I do my research and decide I want another medication in the same class of Zantac. I do not want another PPI. He gives me a once a day dose. It doesn't work halfway through the day. And I am prescribed another PPI.

This entire time I'm trying to live my life. Take care of my son. And still working from home. I'm still eating bread and baby food. I can now tolerate crackers and a few other things. But I'm losing weight. And the new PPI is now giving me intense headaches that then trigger migraines. Daily.  During a visit to the cardiologist, I realize I've now lost 25lbs. I make an appointment with the GI.

This is the part when I get scared. It's March. And I can't stop losing weight. It's not like I had a ton of weight to lose to begin with. I'm freaked out. I can't control the weight loss. (It seems like a perk - the weight loss- but when you can't STOP it... it gets real scary real fast.) I still feel awful. I can't find a medication that my body will tolerate and I'm seriously doubting my diagnosis of GERD.

I decided to write down all of my symptoms and concerns and give it to the GI. His first reaction "You've lost 25lbs?!" I'm thinking "Yes, this is not a look" referencing my clothes that are now too big on me. He's concerned. Thinks I may have a stomach ulcer. I elect to have an endoscopy.

While waiting for my endoscopy date, I visit the cardiologist. And in this time I have been put on beta blockers and then gone off of them because- SURPRISE - side effects. (The made my ears ring. Less than 1% of people get this side effect. Yay me)  My heart rate is still elevated all of the time. My blood pressure is low-normal (normal for me) and they can't figure out why my heart rate is so high. Those around me are trying to be helpful and ask if it's anxiety. I start feeling a little frustrated because I've had anxiety my entire life (seriously, my first memory of an anxiety attack happened when I was on the playground at preschool), I'm very familiar with the feeling of general anxiety, anxiety attacks, and panic attacks. And because my cardiologist ruled out anxiety in the beginning - "If it was anxiety, your blood pressure would be up too. It definitely would not be low or low-normal like it is."

The people around me are trying to help and I'm in such a bad spot with my health that I'm starting to have very little patience for anything.  And mentally, I'm not in a great place. I'm pretty miserable. And feeling like I'll never get better. I envy the other moms I see at drop-off at my son's school who are able to just go about their day...and feel like they can easily breathe. Or eat. I feel like I can't keep up with daily life and like I'm always in one doctor's office or another. My health is such a large focus at this point, that I feel like it's overtaking the rest of my life. I feel like I'm not getting to live any of the other parts of my life. And I feel like I'm flailing when it comes to taking care of my family, maintaining friendships, and keeping up with work. My entire life has become new medications, going to multiple doctors, and being confused as to why I don't feel better. At this point, I can't even imagine how people who live with serious chronic illness do this. (And I still can't imagine.) Because, putting things in perspective, my GI issues and high heart rate are nothing compared to what some people go through daily.

Somewhere around this point I start to connect that the tightness, pain in my chest and shortness of breath happens an hour after eating and when I'm not on acid reducers. I also start taking my heart rate after eating and realize that's when it's at it's highest.  I wonder if my GI issues are causing my heart rate issue.

 I go on a 24-hour heart monitor.

I do the endoscopy. My stomach lining is damaged and inflamed. I have gastritis. Finally, I know whats going on. By this time he has already switched me to that H2 blocker (Zantac-like medication but not Zantac) that he had me on once a day - to twice a day. It's somewhat working. I still get breakthrough symptoms. But it's bearable. I go to a follow up appointment and basically it's a "this should heal. It will take some time. But for some people it never completely goes away" situation. Also, within this time, I've been given and directed to try a ton of different supplements by family and friends. ("Have you tried to treat it naturally?" is the question I always heard.) But I was always scared to try them because I didn't know exactly what they were. And on top of my gastritis, I also have sensitive intestines. So... I take ALL of the supplements people recommended to my doctor. There were literally 10 to 15 bottles. He goes through them one by one. All of them but 2 were either a fiber or laxative. Fiber and laxatives would've upset my IBS. There was a zinc/ pepsin supplement that he was eh about. And a licorice one that he said I could try but it may give me side effects. At this point, I'm done with side effects so no. He tells me most of his patients swear by apple cider vinegar and though he doesn't understand it, he's heard it enough to start telling patients about it. (I'm still too nervous to try it.)

I end up looking up gastritis diets online to figure out what I can/should eat. I had lost almost 30lbs at this time(I've gained back a little bit of weight since then.) And definitely wasn't getting the nutrition I needed. More on the gastritis diet in a bit.

So end of March. I go back to the cardiologist. Heart monitor shows normal activity minus my heart rate being high. No rhythms. Just tachycardia. He doesn't think it's due to anything with my heart. I ask if it could be related to my gastritis. Possibly. He prescribes me medication to take "just in case" I have a day that's awful (I haven't taken it) and tells me to continue following up so they can monitor it.

And that's basically where I am now. The gastritis diet forces me to eat pretty clean since my stomach literally can't handle anything super processed, spicy, fatty, rich, fried... you know, all of the deliciousness we really shouldn't be putting into our bodies anyway.

I figured out the shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness is my body's version of heartburn. I don't get the typical burning feeling, I get that. I guess my body knows that if I just felt burning, I would continue to eat whatever I wanted.

I can't have dairy, carbonated drinks, garlic, tomatoes, alcohol, caffeine, coffee (decaf or not), chocolate, citrus, or anything acidic. Which as it turns out, is a lot of foods you wouldn't suspect. (Even apples and grapes are too acidic for me.)

So what do I eat? Basically plain grilled or rotisserie chicken, plain grilled salmon, cooked veggies like green beans, corn, carrots, most bread or crackers (unless they have garlic), melons, bananas, oatmeal, egg whites (egg yolk has too much fat for me), fennel tea, shortbread cookies.

Over time I am now able to eat pancakes, some sugar cookies (some are still too "rich" or sugary I guess).

I've found Kaffree with almond milk "creamer" as a substitute for coffee.

Carob as a substitute for chocolate

Almond milk as a sub for milk.

I can also tolerate fruit roll-ups and glazed donuts, strangely enough.

It definitely forces me to not put junk into my body (no more soda, chips, or candy). And also to be more aware of what I'm eating.  I check the ingredients on EVERYTHING now before eating. Whereas I rarely did that before.

I still have breakthrough symptoms. I still have days where the shortness of breath, tightness in my chest and throat happen. And my body will eventually adjust to my medicine to the point where it will no longer work. But right now it's tolerable. And I'm happy to not be where I was a few months ago.

In conclusion, health... Ya don't realize just how lucky you are to have it... until it's threatened.



Your Guide To A Successful Summer Fitness Program

Written by a contributing writer

 

Summer is looming. While many of us can’t wait for the arrival of long, hot days, the thought of baring all on the beach or wearing more revealing clothing can bring anxiety. If you’re keen to lose weight this summer, or you simply want to tone up and feel more confident in your own skin as warmer weather arrives, there’s no better time to get into a training program. You don’t need to be a fitness guru to shape up and reap the rewards of regular exercise. If you’re eager to get started, this guide will point you in the right direction.


Taking the First Step

Many of us think about exercising, and then never actually take that first step and get started. It can be tough to break the mold and change your routine, but the sooner you get used to working out on a regular basis, the faster you’ll adapt. It can be daunting to saunter into a fitness class or walk into a gym for the first time. If you’re nervous because you’ve never really been into exercise before, or it’s been a long time since you trained, start with a beginner’s class and consider taking a friend. If you’re joining the gym for the first time, it’s always beneficial to take advantage of an introduction. During this short session, you can learn how to use every machine safely and effectively, and you can also learn a bit more about the equipment on offer, and how it could benefit you. If you’re apprehensive about that first class or session, you could take a friend or exercise with your partner. Although this is often a lot easier to say than it is to do, try not to worry about what other people think. When you’re faced with a room full of toned, sculpted bodies, this can make you feel anxious, but focus on why you’re there, and remember that everybody has to start somewhere. If you are worried about training in front of other people, visit the gym at quiet times, for example, first thing in the morning, or work out at home. There are numerous online workouts and fitness DVDs you can follow.




Image by https://kaboompics.com/photo/1472/grey-sport-shoes



Setting Realistic Goals


Setting goals are incredibly beneficial when you’re trying to get fit. Targets can propel you in the right direction, keep your motivation levels high and give you something to focus on, but it’s so important to ensure that any goals you set are realistic. If you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, don’t expect to drop a kilo a day. If you’ve never run before, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take on a marathon after a month. If your main aim is to lose weight, challenge yourself, but stick to a program that promotes gradual, sustainable results. If you’re training to build your fitness levels or tone up your abs or triceps, work towards end goals, but focus on major milestones along the way. Increase the number of sets each week or try and shave a few seconds off your personal best for a 10-kilometer run.




Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143842337@N03/32438526540




Getting into a Routine

Do you find exercise a chore? If so, you’re not alone. It can take a long time to get used to being more active and to get to the stage when exercise is part of your daily routine. If you are struggling, hang on in there, and try and make your new routine work for you. Work out in the morning, rather than the evening, so that you can attack the session with energy and enthusiasm, and choose activities that you enjoy. If you don’t love jogging, don’t persist with it and go for a jog every day. You don’t have to fall head over heels in love with every class or sport you try to get fit. Adapt your daily schedule to allow time for physical activity, and find out what works for you. If you’re not a morning person, take some time out at lunch or go to a class, visit the pool, or get your bike out after work.




Picture credit https://pixabay.com/en/photos/health%20run/




Making Exercise Fun

Are you one of those people who starts a new fitness regime with all the motivation in the world, only to find that a few weeks later, you can muster up even a modicum of enthusiasm? The trouble for many of us lies in boredom. We start off with the best intentions, but we grow tired of going for a jog or doing weights sessions. Soon, we’re back to square one. If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s hugely beneficial to try and find activities that are fun and to vary your workouts. It’s no surprise that people find the same exercises tiresome after weeks of training. If you tend to get bored easily, exercise classes like those available at ClubFitness.us are a great idea. With classes, you can socialize, make new friends and try something different. There’s a vast range of options available, from Zumba and dance-themed cardio classes to spinning, barre fitness, abs and core sessions, yoga, Pilates and fusion options that offer a bit of everything. Try different classes, see how you get on, and alternate activities to keep things interesting. In the summer, you can also enjoy exercising in the great outdoors. Swap the treadmill and indoor cardio sessions for running on the beach, hiking in the mountains or fun activities like kayaking, swimming, and climbing. Some people also find exercise more enjoyable with a buddy. Work out with your partner, make friends at classes or take an old friend from work or college with you when you go out for a run or a bike ride.




Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/esthermax/26478105075


Staying Motivated

When you’re having one of those days when you can’t seem to find the energy to get off the sofa, or you’re tempted to hit the snooze button several times, remember why you wanted to start your program in the first place. Were you keen to lose weight? Were you unhappy with the way you looked? Was stress getting the better of you? Did you want to improve your health? Did you want to feel confident for a summer vacation or are you shaping up for a wedding or a landmark birthday? When you’re struggling to carry on, think about the reasons you wanted to be more active, and focus on how you’ll feel after your session, rather than how you feel now. If you miss a class once a month, this isn’t going to be a problem, but if you make excuses on a regular basis, you may end up with regrets. If you can find that tiny drop of motivation and get out there and work up a sweat, you’ll feel even better afterward. If you find it hard to push yourself when you’re at the gym, it may also be a good idea to hire a personal trainer. When you’ve got a trainer, they can give you support and advice, but they also have expertise in getting the best out of their clients. Just when you think you’re running on empty, your trainer will get that extra mile or that final set out of you.




Image by https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cycle_Class_at_a_Gym.JPG

Eating Well


If you’re on a mission to lose weight, you may assume that you need to try and exercise as much as possible at the same time as surviving on meager portions. In reality, healthy weight loss is all about finding a balance. If you’re training, whether you’re trying to drop a dress size or you’re hoping to gain muscle mass, you need to fuel your body. If you’re not eating enough or you’re eating the wrong foods, your body won’t have the energy it needs to excel in your training sessions. Keep an eye on your calorie content, increase your intake of protein and cut out processed, fatty, sugary foods to improve your diet and ensure your body has access to the fuel it requires. If you need help, a personal trainer will be able to provide you with nutrition plans. You can also find amazing resources online, including this useful article https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/best-foods-eat-and-after-your-workout.




Picture courtesy of https://kaboompics.com/photo/5724/olives-hummus



Rest and Recovery

When you get into exercise, and you’ve got a goal in sight, it can be tempting to go all-out. While it’s brilliant to push yourself, don’t underestimate the importance of enabling your body to recover. Have a couple of rest days or alternate tougher sessions with light exercise. If you’re doing strength training, for example, have a day off once a week and switch to yoga, swimming or Pilates on another day. Get enough sleep and make sure you warm up and cool down before and after every session. It’s so important to do this to protect against injury and condition your body.




Image taken from https://pixabay.com/en/people-woman-yoga-mat-meditation-2557545/


Are you hoping to get fit this summer? If you’ve got goals, hopefully, this guide will help you achieve them. Have fun with exercise, think about why you want to get fit, eat well, rest up and set yourself targets that are tough but obtainable.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

5 Tips to Running Your Business

Written by a contributing writer


If you’ve been thinking about starting a unique business to be able to work from home but wonder whether it will succeed, there are some crucial facts you should face. First, every business venture has its risks and rewards. You ought to figure out whether your business idea is economically viable or not – conducting a thorough market research will certainly help. Secondly, you need to be extremely passionate about your envisioned business. Don’t let unkind words from friends derail you from pursuing your main goal.

Here are 5 more tips to running your business:

Ensure the business is legal


As tempting as it might be to delve into illegal dealings, it’s important to create legal frameworks so that your business can thrive. Conduct some research to figure out how you can operate your business within the prescribed laws. It might take longer at first, but it will help you save more time in the long haul. Find out what kind of licenses and permits you’ll require before launching the business in your residing city. You could also consult a lawyer if you need help coming up with the most fitting business structure for you.


Get discounted prices on stock

If you’ve just set up shop and you’re looking for a reliable dealer to source your goods from, there are a variety of wholesalers and manufacturers who are willing to sell you all the products you need at a delightfully discounted price. Dealdash is a unique online auction site where you can purchase a variety of products at tremendously low prices. Here, you simply bid for items and the highest bidder takes it home. Alternatively, you can utilize the Buy It Now option to buy selected items using the price listed therein.


Offer great products and services

The business world is ruthless and unforgiving. For you to succeed, you need to go against the grain and offer services/products that are truly unique. Customer service experience should be top priority for every business owner. Tailor your products to satisfy the needs of your particular audience, then create an effective marketing strategy. Don’t forget to build your brand from the ground up. With a bit of hard work and patience, everything will gradually fall into place.


Stay organized


In business, organization is critical. It’s not sufficient to walk into your office every morning and wait for customers to show up or contact you. Write down your tasks in a convenient to-do list and cross out each item after you’ve completed it. This guarantees that every crucial task is handled and nothing is forgotten. In addition, consider hiring subordinate staff to help you carry out daily business activities successfully.


Create an effective business plan


There’s an adage that says failing to plan is planning to fail. You might have all the essential resources to jumpstart your business, but chances are it won’t blossom quickly if there’s no proper plans and strategies put in place. A business plan allows you to determine the viability of your intended business. After all, there’s no need investing your time and resources into a venture that simply won’t succeed.

There you have it, 5 insightful tips that can help you run your business successfully.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Clean Air without the Bulk

Allergy season has been brutal this year in Florida.  At one point, we had the highest pollen count in the country. So that meant sinus pain, sniffles, itchy eyes, sore throats, and lots of sneezing. Obviously, we kept the windows closed and only opened the doors to go outside. However, I knew that pesky, pollen filled air was blowing its way into our home or the pollen was hitching a ride on our Golden's hair. (He likes to roll around in the dirt, leaves, and yes, pollen. So fun ;-) )

I looked into getting an air purifier. But every option I found was bulky or not super attractive. I was afraid of getting a large object the dog or my child could run into, knock over, or injure themselves on. So once I found out about Titus & Wayne's Luft Qi purifier, I knew it would be the perfect fit.

This little guy is small, quiet, and attractive.  It's super simple to operate. Simply plug it in to turn it on. I love that it doesn't scream "HEY LOOK AT ME OVER HERE!" yet has an understated elegance to it if it does happen to catch your eye. I also am a fan of the 360-degree air intake. This means it's taking in air from every possible angle, cleaning it using its patented Nano-Reactor, and dispersing the clean air through the top. 



Check out the Luft Qi on sale now until May 25th on Indiegogo.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Eating in Asia: Foods You Have to Try on Your Travels!

Written by a contributing writer


Asian food is one of the most popular foreign foods enjoyed in the west. With delicious ingredients, delicate spices, and smart cooking techniques used to create foods that are fresh tasting and flavorful, it's not hard to see why. So of you’re backpacking across Asia this summer or have a getaway booked to a specific destination on the continent, there are a few dishes you really have to try while you’re away!


link


Dim Sum

Dim Sum is enjoyed in many places across Asia, from Hong Kong to China and Canton, amongst other places. It's definitely something you should aim to try while you're on your trip and is sure to be more enjoyable than takeout options you can get in the west! Dim sum are served as a selection of smaller bites, with dishes including barbecue pork buns, chee chong fun, xiao long bao and lots more. There are plenty of dim sum stalls all over Asia and you'll find it in restaurants and cafes too.


Noodles

‘Singapore noodles’ is most likely not the first dish that springs to mind when thinking of Asia.  (They didn’t actually originate from Singapore and aren’t very popular in Asian cuisine.) However, as noodles are a staple food in many areas in eastern Asia, they’re eaten a lot in different styles, and there are lots of incredible noodle places. From spicy laksa to Hokkien fried noodles and Bak chor mee (minced meat noodles), there really isn't just one type of noodle dish that can sum up Asia.



link

Rice

In other parts of Asia, rice is eaten as a staple food item instead of noodles- so depending on where you're travelling to, you should take advantage and dine on rice too. Traditional rice dishes in central Asia include 'buttered rice under a Shah's crown' which is tasty buttered saffron rice with dried chestnuts, raisins, and apricots served under fluffy bread. Pumpkin stuffed with jewelled rice is another popular dish, something you're unlikely to have tried before! Rice can be served as a side dish or as the main feature. Different kinds of rice grains are used depending on the dish; making something simple into something spectacular.


Street Food

Across Asia you will come across incredible markets where street food vendors produce tasty dishes without costing you much at all. Great if you're on a budget, but something to experience regardless as they will give you a true taste of authentic Asian cuisine. Some of the vendors in Singapore have actually been awarded Michelin stars- the first time this has happened in the luxury food's guide. If you're visiting Thailand, Phuket is best known for its seafood. So amazing fish dishes amongst other things are often served up by vendors. Use a hotel such as the Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa which puts you at the heart of the action, and makes it easy to visit these kinds of places.


Desserts

Dessert is well loved in Asia, while you will no doubt be tasting your way through lots of savoury dishes it's not something to overlook while you’re on your trip! Gelato and desserts cafes are becoming more and more popular across the continent. Across Asia you can find a everything from pastries to gourmet cheesecakes and very recognizable traditional classics. Then on the other hand you have Asian and local-inspired creations- some unusual desserts include frozen basil custard and salted egg yolk ice cream!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Mother's Day Gift Guide for Every Mom with zulily

Mother's Day is coming up fast! If you haven't found the perfect gift for the moms in your life, don't worry! Zulily has a ton of items at discounted prices. And they've even done some of the work by creating the perfect list of must-haves for just about every mom. Take a look!

  • The Makeup Maven – from fragrances, to bath bombs to must-have makeup brands, she’ll beautiful inside & out…

  • The Social Butterfly – Does she love to get out of the house and experience new things? Check out our daily selection of tickets to live shows, sporting events and concerts!

  • The Style Icon – From trendy tops to must-have staples, we’ve got her covered…

  • The Trendsetter – Launching dozens of new brands daily, she’ll stay ahead of the trends with our unique zulily debuts!

  • The Fur Baby Fanatic – Fur baby moms count! Get something quirky to help bond with their animal companion…

  • The Adventure Seeker – Whether she’s hiking through the woods or just camping in the backyard, we’ve got the basics and the bizarre to help her outdoor explorations…

  • The “Fixer Upper” Fan – Is a mom in your life longing to be the next Joanna Gaines? She’ll love our diverse selection of home décor finds…from contemporary to farmhouse, we’ve got it all!

  • The Chef – Whether she’s Julia Child or just making a fun mess, we’ve got essentials to extraordinary when it comes to kitchen & cookware!

  • The DIY Queen – Crafty, clever and creative? Check out our hundreds of DIY kits and personalized items to make your gift truly unique. 

  • The New Mom – Is there a woman in your life about to celebrate their first Mother’s Day? Make it extra special with a gift for her, or baby.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

5 Easy Places to Shop Online

Written by a contributing writer



The digital economy has truly shifted consumer behavior when it comes to buying products and services. Any time of the day, people can log into their favorite online store and add products to a cart and receive them a few days later. Part of the reason for this loyalty is convenience and the level of engagement that consumers receive from their favorite brands. From a business perspective, having an online presence in a form of an online store is a great strategy to expand your target market and receive real-time feedback for better iteration. To name a few, here are the five most notable and easy online sites to shop.

1. Amazon

Amazon is perhaps the most popular and influential online store in the United States and in several countries around the world. It serves as a marketplace for different business owners and consumers to exchange money for goods. Its product line ranges from several media to consumer electronics, gourmet food, beauty products, sporting goods, and many others. Amazon also sells products that they manufacture including, Kindle, Echo, the Fire TV and the Fire phone. In terms of shopping experience, Amazon offers complementary services to satisfy their customers. The company provides same-day delivery and exclusive promotions and discounts to prime members, product returns, dash buttons and so on.

2. eBay

eBay is one of the competitors of Amazon, however, the former acts more of a wholesaler than a retailer. eBay has distinct features that give more options for their customers. It allows both price and auction formats. As a seller on eBay, you can create your own descriptions thereby giving you more control over marketing and brand development. eBay has been very successful integrating their platform locally and the adoption has contributed to the continued success of the company.

3. Best Buy

Best Buys is go-to online store when it comes to consumer electronics. It sells thousands of electronic products at different price points. This includes mobile phones, laptop, and computers, game consoles, cameras, music players and even home appliances. Because of the different brands Best Buy carry, consumers have a lot of products to choose from.

4. Beauty and Fashion Online Stores


Beauty and fashion online stores are generally specific to the brand or the company. These are companies like H&M, Sephora, Avon, Topshop, etc. Usually, these companies already have other methods of distribution and selling online is just one of them. For instance, the distribution model of Avon includes direct selling, limited retailers and online. Direct selling through independent contractors is the core channel. However, Avon online shopping has also proven to be an efficient and enjoyable way to buy beauty products.

5. Wayfair

Wayfair is another e-commerce company that specifically sells home goods including furniture, décor. Consumers can sign-up and login to the Wayfair website and start searching for home goods that they want to buy. A general search would bring up several choices being sold by different suppliers around the world. Consumers can choose to narrow down the search through filters or just start scrolling down the different products available. Wayfair has warehouses across the United States and several countries in Europe.

Monday, April 9, 2018

5 Tips to traveling in college

Written by a contributing writer


Traveling is one of the things that every college student has on his or her bucket list. We all have an innate desire to explore the world and experience some of the most iconic destinations it has to offer. Traveling offers a way to unwind and refresh oneself, explore new cultures and traditions, meet new people, face new challenges, have fun, and above all create beautiful memories. While traveling offers tons of benefits, it usually comes with a lot of expenses which can be tough especially for college students who have to work with a limited budget. Here are some tips and tricks to help you with your traveling plans while in college.


1. Start saving
Many college students spend money on movies, electronics, and clothes over and over again. While these things are important, they usually don’t have long-term benefits. Traveling, especially overseas, will expose you to the world and increase your experience and scope of life. Begin by cutting a portion of the money you spend on this stuff and start saving. Alternatively, if you can land a part-time job, channel a portion of those funds to your travel savings.


2. Participate in charity challenges

Charity challenges enable you to experience the fun of traveling while also helping to raise funds for worthwhile causes. You can participate or arrange School and University Challenges with Kandoo Adventures and get the opportunity to tour exotic destinations worldwide such as Machu Picchu, Everest Base Camp, and Mt. Kilimanjaro while creating awareness for a given cause.


3. Be flexible

Due to budget constraints, it’s important to allow your schedule to be a little flexible depending on the available deals at the moment. Most tourist attractions, lodges, and restaurants offer good deals if you come at specific times or days of the year, for instance, during the off-season they tend to be cheaper and less crowded. So, you may want to stray from the beaten path and schedule your adventures around these times.


4. Study abroad

This is the perfect way to travel while in college. You’ll be able to experience a new way of life in another city for a prolonged period of time such as a semester or a year. There are many options to studying abroad such as applying for a scholarship, taking part in exchange programs or sponsoring yourself for studies in a foreign institution. Whichever option works for you, studying abroad is full of amazing experiences that will help you immensely with your career goals.


5. Acquire an International Student ID

An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) costs about 20 US Dollars and gives you access to student discounts on selected flights, museums, and tourist attractions. This means that you’ll be able to save much more on travel expenses to certain destinations around the world.

All in all travelling is all about having an open mind and a desire to learn and experience life to the fullest. So, purpose of taking at least one adventure in a year to a place you’ve never been before. Bon, voyage!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Revamping Your Style - Ready For Summer

Written by a contributing writer

Spring is in the air and it now feels like the ideal time to really overhaul our looks and start taking better care of ourselves. Yes, it is the season of eating salads and loving them, wanting to get outside and exercise, but the one thing we may not focus entirely on is how we look which ultimately affects how we feel. So we've come up with a few suggestions on what you can do to revamp your style ready for the summer months ahead.


Image source


Take some pride in your smile

Smile and the whole world smiles with you, right? However, many of us don’t smile enough and that isn’t because we don’t want to. It has more to do with how our smile looks. Which ultimately has a lot to do with our teeth. So why not take the time to put some focus on your dental hygiene. Maybe invest in some teeth whitening, whether done at home or at the dentist, and just embrace the smile more. It can really make you feel and look more put together.


Revamp your skincare routine

Your skin is going to be on show a lot more in summer, as you may tend to wear less makeup and wear cooler clothes. So you may want to use the time you have now to really revamp your skincare routine. Focusing on your cleansing and moisturizing, and don’t forget to place some focus on the rest of your body and not just the skin on your face.


Change your hair

You can get a little guilty of being stuck in a rut when it comes to your hairstyle and even your hair color, so you may want to use the season's change as a huge chance of trying something different. Cutting it shorter maybe, trying out a balayage color perhaps, or even going for something different entirely like adding hair extensions. The options are endless and summer is the ideal time to really be adventurous with things like your hair.


Invest in your wardrobe choices

Your wardrobe is bound to change as the weather warms up, but rather than going a little crazy on the high street, why not try a different approach when it comes to your spring and summer wardrobe? You could try investing in a capsule wardrobe. This is where you have key pieces that can easily be mixed and matched together to create different outfits.


Focus on your mindset

Finally, sometimes how you look is all in the mind. If you feel confident then you can exude that in your exterior and rock whatever look you have gone for. So take some time to really focus on your mindset and positive thinking through the process. Try not to be so hard on yourself. A rule of thumb would be to decide whether you would be as harsh to someone else as you are on yourself. Be kind.


I hope these tips help you revamp your style for summer.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

5 Tips to Going on a Safari Vacation

Written by a contributing writer



You’ve probably been saving for months or years for your first safari vacation. You’re most likely excited about your upcoming vacation to African reserves or national parks. With enough funds for your trip, you feel ready. However, an African safari is one of a kind. It’s not like visiting a zoo or theme park with tamed wild animals.

Wild animals in Africa live in their natural habitat and thus can be dangerous. Therefore, you’re not ready until you’re ready. There are things you need to know beforehand to ensure you have a great experience and get value for your money. Here are some tips to get you started on your preparations for a safari vacation:

Top 5 Tips for Going for a Safari in Africa


1. Pack Light and Only Carry the Essentials

Although you’re heading for a safari vacation in Africa, don’t go overboard in the things you pack for the trip. Africa isn’t the jungle they made you believe it is in the media, well, except for the wildlife habitats. Most importantly, don’t bring every piece of gear with you on a game drive. Pack a camera with telescopic lenses, backup batteries, and a tripod.

Also bring with you soft-sided travel bags, binoculars, electrical adapters, sunscreen and sunglasses, mosquito repellents, a flashlight, a water bottle, light snacks, a first aid kit, and a small backpack. Pack clothes for layering during the game drive; you can remove some if the weather gets hot.


2. Not All Safaris are the Same

Safaris are unique and unpredictable. Therefore, you need to be flexible and open-minded with your expectations. Game drives can be longer than you expected and tougher. If you’re lucky, you might see all the big five animals, including the lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, and leopard.

However, you might just get to see some of the big five. Prepare for rough rides, mosquitoes, cold or warm temperature, sunny or windy weather, flies, etc. Although most terrains are sand or gravel rough roads, you might cross bushes, rivers or even stone fields, especially if trailing after a herd of wild animals.


3. Stay Safe and Follow All Rules/Advice

Game drive rules are set to ensure you’re safe in the African wild. You might think the vicinity is clear enough for you to get out of your car. Most animals are often camouflaged and thus you might not see them, but they definitely saw you even before you reached their location. Stay in your car and don’t approach animals too closely, especially elephants.

Avoid making noise and always keep your camera and hands inside the car; you might not like what the cats might do, so it’s best to stay safe. Hippos are the most dangerous of the wild animals you’ll see, followed by mosquitoes. They are aggressive when upset and thus you must never do anything that upsets the wild animals.


4. Create a Budget

Even with enough savings to spend on your safari vacation, create a budget to ensure you only spend on necessary things. Opt for self-drive for the best value for your money, atop the freedom and independence that comes with it. You’ll also save on air charter and private guide fees.

Spend the money on other things after the safari. For instance, you could go for a hot-air ballooning excursion. Low seasons are the best time to travel as prices are often 30% to 40% cheaper than in high peak seasons. Lodges that charge in local currencies are cheaper than those charging in dollars; opt for the former if you’re vacationing on a budget.


5. Book Your Accommodation

Choose a lodge offering services in line with your needs, preferences, and budget. Are the wildlife activities on offer varied? Does your safari lodge have a conservation policy to look after both the locals and the environment? Opt for communal dining for an intimate experience as you socialize with guides and other tourists. If you need help booking and planning, consider booking through Leopard Tours. They offer safari vacations in Africa at the most competitive rates.

Whichever part of Africa you decide to go for a safari, you need to prepare well, pack the necessities and plan your trip. The need to create a budget goes without saying.