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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!


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.


‘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.



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.


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.

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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.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Getting Gorgeous In 2018: Your Quick Reference Guide To Being Beautiful

Written by a contributing writer

One of the best ways to boost your confidence and improve your personal or professional life is by enhancing your appearance. Yet in many cases, individuals lack the knowledge necessary to make changes that will improve their look. If this is one of your dilemmas, no worries. You can implement some or all of the suggestions outlined below to start enhancing your appearance immediately:

1. Start Exercising.

If you're really serious about improving your appearance, put regular exercise at the top of your to-do list. Taking this step will enhance your look by helping you lose weight while also giving you more youthful-looking skin. There are many forms of physical activity that you can engage in to start attaining these wonderful outcomes. Some of them include cycling, swimming, weight-lifting, yoga, pilates, and kickboxing. If you feel that you lack knowledge regarding how to exercise effectively, consider the value of attaining assistance in a gym setting. You might also want to think about whether hiring a personal trainer would be right for you.

2. Get A Facial.

One of the best ways to improve your appearance is by obtaining a monthly facial. This technique works because it empowers you to enhance the luminosity and texture of the most visible region of the body-your face. Another big benefit of obtaining a monthly facial is that doing so enables the aesthetician to address your unique skin issues. This could include anything from hyperpigmentation to acne to undereye circles. Be sure to do a bit of internet research before selecting any aesthetician to ensure that you are selecting the most qualified professional on the block.

3. Focus On Your Eyes.

The face is the most visible region of the body, and the eyes are one of the most appealing elements of this bodily region. As such, playing up your eyes is always a good idea. Luckily, there are many beauty techniques that you can use to make it happen. One of them is obtaining professional eyelash services. Use online resources such as to learn more about the eyelash industry and what types of products might take the appearance of your lashes from average to excellent.

Once you realize that you could benefit from enhancing your appearance, it's time to devise an actionable plan. Utilize some or all of the strategies outlined in this article to begin the process of optimizing your look now!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Mom Hacks To Make Ends Meet On A Modest Budget

Written by a contributing writer

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It’s hard to make ends meet in the modern world. Whether you’re a single parent or you have a partner who helps out, money is tight when you’ve got an entire family to support. We all should put some thought into the family budget; this is the most important part of financial security. A low income can still go a long way if you spend and save your money appropriately. These mom hacks should help you to cover your family’s costs on a modest budget.

Save money on the essentials.

Maybe you’ve already made a budget for the family (you certainly should if you haven’t done so already). However, you might still be struggling to make ends meet even with a well-considered financial plan of action. Perhaps the costs of living are still too high to be covered by your income. Yet, you can do more to save money than simply giving up luxury expenditures for a while. You can save money on the essentials in life. And this doesn’t mean you need to deny yourself the food, energy, or water you need to survive. It just means you need to be a little smarter about the way in which you spend money.

For starters, you could save a lot of money on your weekly grocery shop if you started growing vegetables in your own garden. You’d have a self-sustained source of fresh food, and that could save you a lot of money every year. You could save money on your utility bills by getting thicker glazing for your windows. This will reduce the energy needed to heat up the house. Additionally, you could look into a pants hemming service if your kids are forever ripping or ruining their clothing. There’s no need to spend a fortune on new attire because your kids will continue to make a mess of their clothes.

Look out for cheap luxuries

Obviously, you don’t want to deny your kids a fun life. Budgeting doesn’t always have to be boring; there are ways to save money and still treat the family to the occasional luxury. It’s all about looking out for “cheap luxuries”. In other words, you should make sure that you’re getting a good deal when you do want to treat your family to something nice. If you’re going out to a restaurant, for example, then you might want to eat at an establishment that has cheaper meal options for children. And if you’re going to get somebody in the family a new laptop then go for a model that’s already 2 years old. It’ll still be modern, but it’ll be far cheaper than newer models. You’re allowed luxuries in life, but do your research to make sure that you’re getting the cheapest deal out there.

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Always set aside a little bit of money.When you’re struggling to make ends meet, the idea of setting aside some of your earnings might seem strange. However, it’s important that you think about more than the present day. Planning for the future is essential for everyone in your family. You should put a jar on the kitchen counter for loose bits of change that can become your family’s emergency fund. You can’t always predict every cost in life, so it’s good to have a financial safety net in place for unexpected events. Maybe your car will unexpectedly break down, for example. It’s also smart to start a savings account for your children; if you gradually put money into it for years to come then they’ll have substantial funds that they can use for college or a house in the future.

Monday, March 19, 2018

How to Entertain Your Kids When You're Busy

Written by a contributing writer

When your kids are bored, they tend to come to you and make a fuss until they have something to do. However, that’s not exactly ideal during times when you’re busy with important matters that are demanding your attention. Maybe you have some work that you’ve had to bring home with you or you’re sorting out your taxes. Whatever the case is, you need ways for your kids to stay entertained independently.

There is a variety of different things you can do to keep your kids entertained, so if you’re short of ideas, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll guide you through some of the best ideas so that you can focus on the things you need to and your kids won’t be bored out of their minds for any longer than necessary.

Those busy days are never fun and a busy day with fussy children is even worse. Here’s how to keep them entertained.

Indoor Camping Fun

You don’t have to let your kids play around in the garden without supervision in order for them to have fun camping. Indoor camping can be just as fun and it allows your kids to use their creativity and imagination as they play too. You just need to set up a simple tent in the home and let them have some fun with it. Of course, this idea only really works if your kids are young enough to be into this sort of thing, so keep that in mind. If they are, they’ll most likely have a great time.

Embrace Netflix

Sometimes, you just need to put something on the TV so that you can focus on what you’re doing while your kids relax in front of the TV for a while. Of course, you don’t want your kids to be doing this all the time, but there are some circumstances in which there’s nothing at all wrong with embracing the power of Netflix. The great thing about the platform is that there is a nearly endless stream of kids content to keep them occupied.

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Find Suitable Games for Them to Play

Video games are not the boogeyman they once were. You can let your kids play games that keep them entertained and not worry about it. Modern consoles and smart devices allow for parental control settings so that you can stay in control of what your children are playing and seeing. If they’re a little older, you might let them download and play Final Fantasy XV or something similar. If they’re younger, a Mario game is always a good option to consider.

Set Helpful Tasks
If you’re doing some work, there might be small ways in which they can help you out. Giving them little tasks and responsibilities might even be fun for them, so give it a try next time you want to keep your kids busy while also getting your work done faster. Of course, you won’t want to trust them with anything particularly involved but if it keeps them busy and makes them feel useful for a while, then where’s the harm in it?

Call in a Favor From Friends Who Also Have Kids

Other friends with kids can be real lifesavers when you need time to yourself. You can ask them to do you a favor in return for you doing them favors when they need time alone. Your kids can spend time together under their supervision while you focus on the important things that are taking up your time. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s a great way to help out one another whenever that’s necessary.

Start an Art Project

Art projects can be great for keeping young minds focused and entertained while you work on other things. It might get a little messy without constant supervision, but that’s all part of the fun. Simply set them up with the paper and creative resources they need to get started. They’ll be creating miniature masterpieces of their own in no time at all. And you can check in on them and see how they’re doing every so often.

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Leave Them to Their Imaginations

A child’s imagination is a very powerful thing indeed and it certainly shouldn’t be underestimated. If you want them to have a good time but you’re not sure what to let them do, why not simply let them decide? They might have ideas that you would never have thought of. You’ll be surprised at how often you can leave your kids to occupy themselves with their own imagination and nothing more.

Encourage Independent Reading

If your child is now old enough to read alone without you having to read the words to them, you should encourage them to practice their independent reading while you focus on what you need to focus on. This will really help with their development and education because kids who read in their spare time are far more likely to get high grades and succeed in life than those that don’t. They might even develop a love of reading while they’re at it.

Audiobooks Are Good Too

If they’re not yet old enough to read independently, you could always call on audiobooks to help you out with the situation. You simply press play and let them roll. It’s like having a story read to them, and they can be completely captivating if the story is right for them and their age. It’s a nice way for them to hear stories during times when you don’t have enough free time to read to them every day of the week.

Keeping your kids busy using the methods discussed here will help you to focus on whatever you need to get done. So make the most of these ideas and make those busy times easier for you and better for your children.

Friday, March 9, 2018

New Skincare Products You Should Try!

Skincare is everything. Well, in my little beauty world it is. If you take care of your skin, walking out of the door sans makeup is a breeze. Plus, it's so much fun! It seems like everyone is into skincare these days. And brands have noticed. So many are working to come up with the latest and greatest products for keeping your skin healthy, glowy, and bright. Not every product lives up to its hype, but the products below are so outstanding, they've become my new favorites.

Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate
If you haven't tried anything from Kiehl's yet, I'm not sure what you're waiting for. I am continually impressed by the quality of the products this brand puts out. But this concentrate has to be my favorite. I use it EVERY NIGHT before bed. It has brightened and evened my complexion while leaving my skin moisturized (not greasy) and taking it from dull and tired to revitalized. Plus my skin looks SO SMOOTH! There is a slight warming sensation when the serum is first applied. This was something I wasn't expecting (and worried me a little at first) but now that I know this is to be expected with this product, it definitely makes for a relaxing experience.

Pacifica Sheet Masks (Vegan, Cruelty-Free)

These are so much more than expected. I often pick up a few new sheet masks when out and about running errands. Whether I'm at the grocery store or Marshall's, I'll stroll through the beauty section and pick up any sheet masks I find intriguing. Why? Because sheet masks are SO EASY. I put them on after a shower while watching TV before bed.  I found these Pacifica ones at Target and I got so much more out of them than I thought I would. They leave my skin looking refreshed. I especially love the Stress Rehab and Pollution Fight ones. (I REALLY want to try the Energized Glow mask but haven't found it at "my" Target yet.)

Masque Bar Pretty Animalz Sheet Masks (Cruelty-Free)

Ok...these are a bit bizarre. But they are sheet masks that work wonders in just 10-20 minutes. I'm also pretty sure these are my favorite sheet masks at the moment. And... yes... they are printed to make your face look like a cartoon animal face.  And it is a little creepy looking when you put these on. But, my goodness! The results! My favorites are the Otter and the Fox masks. (They also come out with seasonal masks. During the holidays last year they had a Reindeer mask!)

Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion Ultra Light (Oil Free)

When I need a little extra moisture (usually due to cool, drier weather that my skin is just not acclimated to) I add this Cerave moisturizer to my skincare routine at night (and sometimes during the day too). It's light but packs a punch. With Hyaluronic Acid, this moisturizer melts right into the skin while leaving a smooth, light finish.

Jason Vitamin E Age Renewal Moisturizing Crème

I know some people use this cream for scars. Some use it for stretch marks. I use it under my eyes. It's super thick so a little goes a long way. And since I only use it under my eyes, it's going to last awhile. If you have super dry skin this may be a great nighttime cream for you. I have used it all over my entire face several times in the past. It leaves my skin moisturized and absolutely gorgeous, however, it seems to be too rich for my oily/normal combination skin. But under the eyes------MAGIC!

Keeping Your Baby's Routine Normal

Written by a contributing writer

If you enjoy traveling and have children, then you might want to consider renting the equipment that you need instead of hauling it along with you every time you leave home. Many companies offer a way to rent baby equipment when you arrive at your hotel. Some companies ask that you request the rental a few weeks or days before you plan on traveling to ensure that the items that you need are available.

There are several pieces of baby equipment that you can rent while traveling or even when your baby first comes home from the hospital if you don't want to invest in buying items that will only be used for a few months. Strollers, high chairs, and cribs are among the most popular items that are rented by parents. These are often the largest items that are used when you travel or when you're at home as well. When you rent equipment, you don't have to worry about packing everything in your car when you get on the road and unpacking everything when you get to your destination.

When you rent equipment, you can save money because the fees associated with the rentals are usually affordable. You won't have to buy new pieces of equipment to take to a family member's home or to have with you just for the purpose of traveling. You'll also be able to save the nicer pieces of equipment for your home so that they aren't damaged while you're traveling. Each item that you need can be rented when you get to the destination and is a safe product to use. You can take rented pieces of equipment to the park, to the store or to someone's home, allowing you to keep a normal routine for your child instead of disrupting sleep time or the feeding schedule.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

4 Reasons to Visit Ireland this Year

Written by a contributing writer

Ireland is one of the most inviting and beautiful European countries, explaining why people love to visit, relocate and even live there. Home to friendly people, many pubs, great food, beautiful scenery and things to do, there are many reasons why people love to visit Ireland. The country is popular for its vast drinks and great wet weather that keeps changing throughout the year.

Whether you’ve been to Ireland before or not, it is a must-visit. The country is a top tourist destination worldwide with an exceptional natural beauty. Is Ireland calling you for a vacation? It doesn’t matter whether you’re visiting for business or leisure. Here are the top reasons to visit Ireland this year:

Top 4 Reasons Why Ireland is a Must-Visit in 2018

1. It Has a Rich History

Ireland has a rich history dating back to prehistoric times, making it a top destination for historians and enthusiasts. It is home to magnificent traditional houses built in the early times, museums and other historical sites, a true indication of the country’s rich history. Visit Ireland’s Historical Art Centers to gain insight into its rich heritage.

Located in Meath County, Newgrange was built prior to the Great Pyramids. The hundreds of restored castles are accessible all year round. Ireland trips aren’t just fun and educational, but also memorable.

2. Rich in Music, Culture & Dances

Ireland is popular for its Irish music, rich culture and love for live performances. Traditional Irish music is played at least once every week, making it one of the most sought-after destination in Europe. Amateur musicians usually gather in pubs to entertain both guests and locals.

Home to all sorts of bodhrans, guitars and whistles, among other cultural designs, Ireland is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the arts.

3. Hosts Various Irish Festivals

Various festivals are held in Ireland throughout the year, meaning whichever time you decide to visit, you’ll be able to attend one. The festivals are typical of great food and drinks you can taste and eat for a feel of what the nation has to offer its visitors. Irish festivals draw people of all kinds from different nations worldwide.

With thousands of visitors attending festivals annually, the events are often packed. Whether you want to party, indulge in the country’s best foods or simply attend global events, there’s something for everyone. Widen your social network by mingling with other attendees, try different foods and sail, etc.

The Galway Oyster Festival and the Tralee Rose are some of the most popular festivals in the nation. Pick a festival you’ll get to enjoy for the best times. Choose vibrant festivals with lots of things for you do.

4. Visit Ireland’s Vibrant Cities

Ireland is home to many vibrant cities such as Galway, Cork, Belfast and Dublin. The country booms with a busy night life to improve your social life and high-class restaurants for some of the best dishes the country has in store for you.

Located along the sea, Dublin is the capital city of Ireland and has luscious parks, elegant architecture, lively bars and restaurants to keep you busy during your visit. Adjacent to the Irish Sea and Michelson Star restaurants, the city has beautiful views you’d love to see first-hand.

On the other hand, Galway has a busy lifestyle to accommodate both locals and visitors. Ireland is also home to snow-capped mountains, wildlife, inland waterways, beautiful sandy beaches and natural landscape with breathtaking views, making it a top global destination.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Few Benefits That Come from Purchasing Your Own Home

Written by a contributing writer 

Many people are facing the decision of purchasing a home or renting one. While each individual has to decide for themselves what will be best for their family, there are a lot of reasons why purchasing a home may be the better option.

When you purchase a home as opposed to renting a home, you are putting your money into something that will benefit you over the long run in a financial sense. Renting a home or an apartment means that you are only taking care of your immediate needs. You pay for the month, so you have a place to stay for the month. It does nothing for your long-term financial goals or well-being. At some point in the future, you will own your home. You will have the ability to sell it if necessary. Of course, you need to make sure that this is the best financial choice for your circumstances right now and in the future.

New home construction Mandarin allows a person to choose exactly how their house will be designed. This is a great idea for individuals who are interested in purchasing a home that they plan to live in for many years and even pass down to their children and grandchildren. If your life goals involve staying in one home for many years or even the rest of your life, having the ability to design a home that you love may be the right option for you.

While you may not be able to control exactly what goes on in your neighborhood, if you take the time to do research and to get to know your neighbors, you can choose an area that will be a safe place for you to live and for your children to grow up in. Take time to do research beforehand about school districts, crime in the area, and other similar information. In some cases, renting a home may mean that you do not have as much control over the neighborhood you live in and the individuals around you.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Have a Pet You Love? Enter the #ZulilyPetWeekContest

If you follow me on social media, you know we recently adopted a sweet, mellow Golden Retriever. If you don't [shameless plug coming] you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more updates, information on must-have products, beauty secrets, and all the random things. Since adopting our big guy, I have been obsessed with finding great treats, toys, and products. I don't know why I didn't look on zulily sooner!

But here's something really fun that zulily is doing to celebrate all of the adorable, silly, and sly pets around. To celebrate Pet Week, zulily is hosting the #ZulilyPetWeekContest. Simply post a picture of your pet on Facebook or Instagram for a chance to win a trip to zulily for a personalized pet photo shoot, a curated package for your pet, and to be featured in images and post across zulily’s social media channels including an interview on zulily’s Facebook Live Channel. Plus, four runners-up will win a curated pet product package worth $100! For contest details click here

To enter on Facebook click here.

 One of the cutest parts of the contest is the five themes. These are:
  • "Biggest Baby – Do you have a dog and a puppy in the house? Share a photo of them together for a chance to win. 
  • Cutest Puppy – If you just brought home a new fur baby, this is your chance to win with a photo of your new puppy. 
  • Pet & Human Duo – Are you and your pet a dynamic duo? Show off your favorite photo together to win this category. 
  • Coolest Cat – We know there are some cool cats out there - here is their chance to shine & take home a prize. 
  • Most Unique Pet – This one is for those pets with scales, wings, feathers, etc.!"
So, why not enter? Share a picture of your pet and maybe you'll win! can look at all of the other adorable animal photos to destress at the end of a long day (or in the middle of one).  Contest ends February 23rd (ending at 11:59PM PT).

The newest member of our family

Monday, February 12, 2018

Five Mom Hacks For Saving For Your Children's Future

Written by a contributing writer

Saving is hard but necessary, especially when you have children. If you have hopes of sending your child off to a good college, paying towards their wedding, helping them put a deposit down on their first home, or even buy them a safe and reliable car when they pass their driving test, then you need to start saving when they are young. Sure there are fantastic loan options they can use like, but as a parent, you want to try and help them as much as you can. However, with so many daily expenses, it can be difficult to commit to putting away a decent chunk of money. Not to worry. Just like with trying to save yourself some time, you can save a lot of money by simply making small changes. By saving yourself a small amount of money here and there, you can start to build up a decent pot of money with next to no effort at all. Below are five tips to help (Source) you start to build that pot.

Say No to Coffee

Don’t panic. You don’t have to give up coffee forever. But consider how much money you spend heading to Starbucks even once a day on your way to work. Instead, make your own coffee at home and put it in a travel mug for your morning journey. The money you would have spent on the coffee shop visits can be put towards the beginnings of a savings account. It may not seem like much, but you’d be amazed how much those little purchases add up to a substantial amount of money over the course of a month.

Change Jar

An old favorite, get yourself a big jar and put all your change in it. You might choose to put all your coins in or maybe just the lower currency values, either way, all that money will add up over time. Many people throw small amounts of change away, but by keeping hold of them, you are maximizing your money usage. You might be surprised how much money you can build up over the course of a few months or years. Once the jar is full, you can either take it to the bank or use a machine which will convert your change into larger monetary denominations and you can then put it into a savings account. Be warned though, even a regular sized jar filled with change can be heavier than you think.

Yard Sales and Clear Outs

Everyone has junk they bought, used, loved, but no longer need. You could throw it away, but by selling it, you get a little bit of extra money in your pocket that can go into savings. You can also use a yard sale as an opportunity to teach your kids about how to haggle and get the best price for things.

Look at Your TV Packages

Most people have incredibly comprehensive packages for their cable TV. But be honest, how many of those channels do you really watch? Consider lowering your package to the next level down, or even the most basic level. There are also ways to keep up with your favorite shows (through the internet and apps) without having to pay for traditional cable TV. You may think you’d miss it, but you’d be surprised how quickly you adapt to less choice. You may even get more work down around the house without the TV to distract you.

Stay in Instead of Going Out

Going out is expensive, even when you do it on the cheap. Create some quality family time by staying in with a board game or doing an activity together. Playing outdoors, cooking together, and putting on a talent show are all fun ideas you can do at home.

Hopefully, these tips have helped ease your mind and shown how easy and painless it can be to start saving for your children’s future. By making small changes, you can put that money to better use planning for the future.