Category Archives: Blog

A Visual Feast of Joy in Hello Dolly

Thanks to my membership in the Tampa Bay Bloggers and their partnership with the Straz Center, I received two complimentary tickets for the purposes of review to "Hello Dolly". This has not impacted my review and all opinions below are my own.
Betty Buckley (“Dolly Levi”)

I’m always down for a night out at the Straz Center. I love the theater, and it has sooooo many memories for me. I performed there many times during my childhood, and have such respect for the people who make their living performing on stage.

Straz is by far one of my favorite places in Tampa Bay. Perhaps that is the real reason I jump at any opportunity to review a musical or performance there. So, it’s probably no surprise that when I was offered tickets in exchange for a review of Hello Dolly, I could not help myself. I had to say yes!

Want to know how I felt about the show overall? Keep reading…

Hello Dolly – What Straz Said About It

Winner of four Tony Awards® including Best Musical Revival, Broadway’s most beloved musical is back where it belongs! Directed by Tony winner Jerry Zaks and featuring choreography by Tony winner Warren Carlyle, HELLO, DOLLY! is “the best show of the year” (NPR).

Breaking box office records week after week and receiving thunderous critical raves on Broadway, this “gorgeous” new production (Vogue) pays tribute to the original work of legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion – hailed both then and now as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history. Rolling Stone calls it “a must-see event. A musical comedy dream. If you’re lucky enough to score a ticket, you’ll be seeing something historic. Wow, wow, wow indeed!”

Hello Dolly – My Review

At the opening of the show I was giddy with excitement. I loved the backdrop of the large train, and the hustle and bustle of the station. Then, there was Dolly. When Betty Buckley stepped onto the stage as Dolly, the crown erupted into applause.

As Buckley, er I mean Dolly began talking, I immediately felt connected to her. Why? Because like her, I’ve had many jobs. I’ve always enjoyed doing odd jobs to help people. And, I felt connected because her character’s meddling in other people’s affairs reminded me of a family member of mine I won’t mention lol!

Another thing that struck me was the costumes. They were all so intricate, and fun. Some of them popping with bright colors, and others just as vintage as could be. I instantly understood why Buckley refers to the show as a “visual feast of joy” in the Herald Tribune’s story about the show.

The show progressed through a series of wild scenes – ones that made me bowl over with laughter as I enjoyed the absurdity of so much of what was occurring. Then, there were some scenes that made me feel almost nervous as I anxiously awaited the conclusion of them.

All in all, I felt a bunch of emotions throughout the performance, but not one of them was one of sadness. That’s something you can’t always say about a show, but you can certainly say that about Hello Dolly! It’s a feel good show – something I wish we could say about more of the entertainment available these days.

At intermission I looked at my friend Karen who accompanied me to the show and I literally said, “Have you ever felt like you stepped into a Disney movie?” Because that is EXACTLY how I felt about the show.

I also secretly giggled to myself during many portions of the show as I was thinking about the law of attraction, and the displays of attracting your dreams that played out on the stage. I won’t give away anymore of the show because I know I’ve probably said enough spoilers as it is. However, I really loved the fact that the show is proof positive that your wildest dreams can come true. That along with many other aspects of the show have left me with good feels about Hello Dolly over all.

 

Bottom line – If you’re into colorful costumes, and feeling like you have stepped into a Disney movie, I say go watch this show!

I would recommend this musical to anyone who loves older costumes, fun musical numbers, a lot of dancing, and is a fan of Betty Buckley. But, most importantly, I’d recommend this show to anyone who enjoys a happy ending, and likes watching things work out for the good of everyone involved in the story. 

Hello Dolly is playing at The Straz Center now through December 9, 2018. To see all the shows playing at the Straz, click HERE!

 

Granny Betty’s Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings

Thanks to my relationship with Tampa Bay Bloggers and Envy Apples this blog was compensated for this post, and some social media love. This has not impacted my post, and all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links that provides this blog with a small commission if you purchase through them, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!
I LOVE apples. Like a lot! And so when I got the chance to make a recipe with Envy Apples, I knew just what to make. I had to call my Granny Betty and get permission to share the recipe though. Lucky for y’all she was happy to help.

Now, don’t let the name fool you. Just because they recipe calls for Mountain Dew doesn’t mean it’s going to taste like the soda. And, it won’t be all green and alien looking either.

Instead, the soda comes together with the other ingredients to create a delicious concoction that almost has the consistency and texture of a softer apple pie.

Trust me!

These apple dumplings are fantastic! Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have a tasty dessert that will be polished off faster than you can ask for a second helping!

Have a drink you want me to try or a product you want me to review?  Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly   😉

The amounts in the recipe listed below make 16 dumplings, but because it’s just me and my husband, I cut this recipe in half. You can also add a little more cinnamon to your apples if you prefer, but I liked them just lightly dusted personally.

Be sure to use Envy Apples when you make your dumplings too, by the way. They are perfect for this recipe, and come out just as soft as you could possibly want in a dessert like this. Sooooo good! Alright, enough talk…let’s get to the yummy recipe, shall we?

Granny Betty’s Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of crescent rolls
  • 4 medium sized apples
  • 2 sticks of salted butter
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 can of Mountain Dew (original formula – do NOT use diet or any other flavor of Mountain Dew, trust me!)
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
Prep:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Spray a 13X9 pan with cooking spray
3. Cut each apples into four slices and remove seeds
4. Lightly dust the apples with the cinnamon
5. Wrap each apple slice with one crescent roll, enclosing it completely, then place in the pan
6. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the sugar and bring to a slight boil, stirring constantly
7. Pour the sugar and butter mixture over the top of the dumplings
8. Finally, pour the can of Mountain Dew over the dumplings
9. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes
10. Pull out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream
I opted for ice cream with my dumplings. Soooooooooooooooo tasty. I think this recipe is perfect for any time of year, but I know for sure I’ll be making it again for Christmas dinner!
What do you think? Are you willing to give this recipe a try? Or, if you did try it, leave me a comment below and tell me what you thought of it!
Have a drink you want me to try or a product you want me to review? 
Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly 😉

Also be sure to try my Apple Cider Martini! Click the image below to get the recipe:

This dessert has the consistency and texture of a softer apple pie. Don't be frightened by the name. It's delicious. Click through the image for the recipe!

7 Uses for Coconut Oil

This post may contain affiliate links that provides this blog with a small commission if you purchase through them, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

I’ve only just recently been getting more interested in using natural oils for cooking, cleaning and beauty products. One of the most versatile oils on the market seems to be coconut oil.

It’s actually pretty wild to me just how many uses coconuts offer. The coconut itself provides a drink, and something to eat, but the oil – wowza!

There’s just so many things you can do with it!

With more and more people discovering the wondrous benefits of coconut oil, it’s no wonder it seems to be all the rage nowadays.

From skin and hair care to dental care and improving immunity, coconut oil is proving to be a must-have item in anyone’s home.

Although the number of benefits you can expect from using coconut oil is far greater, below you’ll find just 7 amazing benefits you can count on:

  1. It can make your skin smooth, and younger-looking
  2. It promotes hair growth and makes your hair shiny and soft
  3. It can help you lose weight
  4. It prevents cavities and gum disease
  5. It’s a decent sunscreen in a pinch
  6. It prevents heart disease
  7. It will help you feel energized

Now that you know some of my favorite uses for coconut oil, let’s break them down a little further so you’ll see why it’s so amazing!

7 Uses for Coconut Oil

1. Coconut oil can make your skin smooth, and help you look younger.

Many people hesitate putting anything oily or greasy on their face, but coconut oil will make your skin look absolutely fabulous.

It can be used as a cleanser and makeup remover, or in place of a moisturizing cream.

The high level of fatty acids also makes it perfect for treating eczema or flaky skin, making it smooth and soft.

Coconut oil is well known for its antimicrobial qualities too, so don’t hesitate to apply it on burns, or to use it for treating psoriasis and dermatitis- coconut oil will help your skin heal faster and help with almost any skin condition caused by bacterial or yeast infection.

Related: Eat Healthy and Get Clear Skin? Maybe 

2. It promotes hair growth, and makes your hair more shiny and soft.

Coconut oil is often one of the ingredients in the most high-end conditioners and shampoos.

However, it’s most effective when applied directly, without other chemicals preventing it from doing its magic.

Use it in place of conditioner, or as a mask for faster hair growth. It’s also great for repairing damaged hair.

It’s incredibly effective and your hair will look healthy and glossy in no time. And, if you have problems with dandruff, massage some coconut oil on your scalp before washing it, and it will restore the moisture needed for a healthy, dandruff-free scalp.

3. Believe it or not, coconut oil can help your weight loss efforts.

Studies have shown that coconut oil can reduce your appetite, and increase your body’s ability to burn fat. Therefore, making it a dietary staple will help you lose weight more easily.

The unique combination of fatty acids in coconut oil fastens the metabolism, and even without a fitness regime or a restrictive diet to boot, it will help you shed a few extra pounds without a problem.

It’s especially effective for that persistent belly fat, so grab a spoon and enjoy the effects.

Related: Is Your Skin Winter Ready? 

4. It prevents cavities and gum disease.

The latest trend in all-natural dental care is oil pulling (or oil swishing), and coconut oil proved to be the most effective oil for the practice.

The reason for this is that coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which are extremely efficient in fighting off the bacteria.

Oral bacteria are the culprit behind everything from cavities to bad breath, and including coconut oil pulling in your daily dental hygiene routine will have a great impact on your oral health.

Swishing coconut oil can prevent cavities and help heal your gums, as well as reduce plaque formation.

The reason why coconut oil is popular beyond its use in the beauty industry is that it has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties.

Coconut oil is packed with antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid, all of which are known to destroy bacteria and fungus.

This makes the consumption of coconut oil an efficient way to fight off viruses and infections.

5. Need some protection for your skin from the sun? Enter coconut oil!

Is it any wonder why coconut oil is in so many sunscreen products? Studies have shown that coconut oil may protect your skin from UV rays by as much as 20%!

Now, this isn’t nearly as much protection as most sunscreen you can buy, but in a pinch, it’s better than nothing!

Related: Epic Guide to Sun Safety 

6. It prevents heart disease.

Unlike some other oils, coconut oil has high levels of natural saturated fats or “healthy fats”.

That’s why coconut oil increases the level of healthy cholesterol in your body and converts the bad cholesterol to good, lowering the risk of heart disease.

The high content of lauric acid in coconut oil also keeps your blood pressure in check, which, combined with antioxidants coconut oil also contains, promotes a healthy cardiovascular system and prevents a number of heart conditions.

7. Coconut oil can even help you feel energized.

The reason why athletes adore coconut oil is that it contains high levels of medium chain triglycerides, which, after they’re metabolized in the liver, immediately convert to energy.

The fast absorption of healthy saturated fats serves as an instant energy boost, fueling your body without storing the fat in your body’s reserves.

This makes coconut oil a perfect energy-boosting food- it will keep you up and running for a long time, without sneaking in any additional calories to your meal plan.

Coconut oil is quite the diverse oil. It's great for cooking, and for your health. This post includes 7 fabulous uses for coconut oil.

Self-Care Gift Ideas

This post may contain affiliate links that provides this blog with a small commission if you purchase through them, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

There is a saying I’ve loved for as long as I can remember – “you can’t give from an empty cup.” You have to take care of yourself in order to give to anyone else. Are you filling your own cup up before trying to give to others?

Skip straight to the gift ideas by clicking HERE.

It’s okay. I do it too. All the time. But there comes a point where self-care is more than just needed, it’s down right critical for your well being. I’ve often said to others, “You have to take care of yourself because in the end only you can.”

I’ll stand by that statement until my dying day. Though it’s true that others can help you, it’s ultimately up to you to make sure that you are getting everything you truly need in life.

Self-care is more than just taking an occasional bubble bath or spending a little time alone. It is taking care your personal, physical, medical, mental, and spiritual needs. It’s about maintaining a good relationship with yourself, and inducing positive feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem.

We have all heard people say of someone “they have let themselves go”. And that doesn’t mean that the person has become so comfortable with themselves they just let it “all hang out”. No way – it is typically when a person has lost their self-esteem, their self-confidence; they need love, attention, and pampering.

Maybe you yourself have been sitting in your office and you have had a busy week at work. You are attending meetings that require a lot of preparation, and when you look at your calendar, it’s just jam packed with stuff you have to take care of. These could be things you need to do, places you need to be; people you need to please.

But the big question is – How are you going to make the time and space to do it all?

Sometimes you wonder if you shouldn’t slow down a bit of work, you cancel a few of your own activities, you cancel a few engagements with some of your friends and you even skip a few meals.

And to keep up with the fast pace of living, it will often be that there is just no time at all to take care of your own self-care needs. You simply put that on the back burner.

It makes no difference how indulgent you think the word, ‘self-care’ sounds, it is absolutely crucial for your well being.

Think about the airplane warning – announcing that when an emergency happens and the masks drop from the ceiling, to first help yourself with your mask and then help others to put on their masks.

That makes perfect sense. If you didn’t help yourself first, there would be you and the other people out of commission, wouldn’t there? Take a look why you shouldn’t neglect self-care:

  • You need to know your worth: That is why self-care is so important in order to maintain healthy relationships with yourself – healthy foods, physical exercises; these are vital if you are to stay positive and to build your own confidence and self-esteem. You need to remind yourself and others that your person has needs too, and they are important.

  • You need to maintain a healthy work-life balance: Some people count being a workaholic as something that is a virtue, but when you overwork and act like you are walking on a tightrope, full of stress and exhaustion that can eventually lead to you being less productive, disorganized, and emotionally unable to communicate properly with others, then it is not a virtue at all. If you love your job with a passion and it makes you feel wonderful and fulfilled, then yes, maybe being a workaholic in that sense can be even beneficial. But don’t let a hectic lifestyle where you never think about your needs rob you of your health and fill you with anxiousness, depression, insomnia and eventually all kinds of diseases.

  • Manage your stress: A little bit of stress can be healthy and keep your brain active and your body awake and anticipated, but when it becomes full of stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis, you need to take note and cut back. You need to think of your own needs, like taking breaks and learning how to boost your energy and confidence levels with excellent management of your stress with healthy food, healthy lifestyle, and healthy exercises.

  • Start living and stop just existing: Remember that life is such a precious gift; make every day count, spoiling yourself with some of the wonderful experiences that come from nature and Life itself. Read a book, start a hobby, bake something for the old age home, volunteer – these are all self-care activities that give you a purpose in life and give you a new reason for getting up in the morning.

  • Get your health physically right: Last, but not least by far – because if you fail to take care of your body and its health and needs, you are going to find your mental health will suffer – which means you need to eat healthfully and mindfully. You have to get your sleep, you have to ‘enjoy’ life and you have to exercise so that you can be of benefit to others and lead a meaningful life.

That means staying calm and pampering yourself and those you love with self-care ideas to propel you into the New Year full of health, peace, love, happiness, zest, and promise! The self-care gift ideas below can certainly perk anyone up, because they can often speak to your inner most needs.

 

 

Self-Care Gift Ideas

A skin serum that will keep your skin glowing 

This is a fantastic serum, lightweight and highly effective, and small enough to carry around in your bag. It contains bakuchiol which is a plant-based product but is an alternative to using retinol but without sometimes the skin irritations and sensitivity that can often come with using retinol. And it’s suitable for all skin types as well as being non-comedogenic which means it won’t block the skin pores.

2-Sided terra-cotta foot scrubber 

If your feet always feel and look dry and cracked, and they have calluses, you can’t +do without this terra-cotta foot scrubber. This will help to keep your feet looking smooth and cared for, no matter what outdoor activities and tough wear and tear you inflict on them. Oprah Magazine rates it as “the best” as far as cleansing, exfoliating and smoothing the skin goes, and it’s so easy to hold as you work your way around your feet. Because it’s hand-formed and been kiln-fired and sun-dried, it will last longer than other pumice stones do.

A hot fabric steamer 

It’s sometimes so awkward packing in an ironing board and iron when traveling but now comes Conair with a fabric steamer that eliminates all that. All you do is plug it in and in a matter of 75 seconds; you can literally steam out the wrinkles in your clothes. This particular one is 30% hotter than others as well, killing bed bugs and dust mites too.

A flashlight to use hands-free 

It’s got flexible arms, and it can last for as long as 10 hours just by charging up once. It comes with 3 different modes of LED lighting – spotlight, spot wide and wide angle. It only weighs 3 ounces, making it easy to take wherever you go. You can hang it around your neck or twist it around anything you need it for. You won’t want to go without this for camping, hiking; in fact for anything.

A cutting board making food preparation so easy

Saving you so much time, this cutting board folds out flat to chop vegetables but also folds up to form a kind of chute, easily disposing waste at the one end or if you want to rinse off food, you can use the strainer end. It’s also coated with a non-slip edge so food doesn’t slide over the counter while you are working.

Silicone rings to make breakfast a breeze

Sometimes when there are a lot of you for breakfast, preparing eggs and pancakes can be pretty messy and exhausting. These flexible rings are the solution because they create a seal to make perfect circles of pancakes and eggs. They’re made from heat-resistant silicone, so they’re pretty safe to use and they don’t scratch and stick to pans either.

A snuggly ‘pedic-pillow

With this fantastic pillow, you need never toss and turn, trying to find the cool sides. The Snuggle-‘Pedic pillow is hypoallergenic, and it even adjusts to all the positions you take in, conforming to your neck for extra comfort – no need to be constantly fluffing out.

White Noise Machine

If you have trouble sleeping you will love the White Noise machine. Here you get offered 6 different natural sounds that you will find so helpful in helping you to fall asleep faster, leaving you more energized and ready for whatever the day brings. There’s a handy timer, too, so that it will switch off at the right time.

A Japanese washcloth like no other

Some claim they work better than sponges or loofahs. It makes sense seeing as each cloth is made from exfoliating nylon. They are ideal for people who want to achieve a deep cleanse without going overboard on the soap. It’s excellent for helping to rid your skin of dead skin, leaving your skin smooth and glowing.

Compression socks for swelling in legs

When your legs and feet ache and swell at the end of a long day, compression socks will come to the rescue. They relieve swelling and provide varicose vein swelling relief, focusing on the foot, the heel and the calf areas. They cut moisture too, so your feet say nice and dry all the time when wearing them.

An inhaler containing pure Himalayan salt

Made from pure Himalayan salt, you will get help with respiratory wellness and coughing relief. This gift comes in a very helpful travel-size salt inhaler, with the salt included – ideal for traveling, which you will want to have with you for years on end. People have been known to say how it opens up the airways, giving natural relief.

A moisturizing face mask

When you put this LuLuLun face mask on to your face, the results are soft, supple and moisturized skin. These masks fit perfectly on to your skin offering nourishment to your entire face with their infusions of Lipidure for lasting results.

French Lavender body scrub

Bring a luxuriating spa for yourself or for someone you care about because of this French Lavender Body Scrub. It’s got plant oils in it, as well as plenty of vitamins and antioxidants to make it the perfect companion for a soak in the tub. It’s also vegan, gluten and soy free, and made from natural ingredients.

Throw-blanket your body will love

These throws are absolutely super soft and they are 100% acrylic, offering you nothing short of softness, warmth, and luxury, let alone beauty to your home.

Slippers for nights in

You can’t get cozier slippers than these, these Chilote slippers, which mold to the feet of wherever wears them, for sheer comfort. Crafted with only natural materials, you will wish you could wear them to work!

WoodWick Jar Candles

There is nothing quite as lovely as the aroma of a fabulous candle around the holidays. It has a natural wooden wick, that makes it sound like a gently crackling fire and this jar candle can last you for a good 180 hours.

Aromatherapy inhalers

These fantastic inhalers are a great way to take essential oils with you on the go. Naturally, no one can carry a diffuser around all the time, but a small aromatherapy inhaler will easily fit in your bag.

You can choose whichever essential oils you want to suit your need, whether it is to lift your spirits, to relax or to offer you immune support. For instance, lavender, clary, and sage will help you to sleep and orange and rosemary can help you to focus.

A lava essential necklace

Most of us have seen those necklaces that allow you to carry your favorite essential oil in them. But there are not many where you can actually infuse the jewelry you are wearing with some of your favorite essential oil.

This very stylish lava stone necklace in a triangular shape is made from natural lava, making it porous, and allowing you to apply essential oils for the aromatherapy benefits throughout your day. They are ideal for someone needing some TLC.

Self-care is a foundation to build on

And that’s true because when we practice self-care on ourselves, it stands us in good stead to better help others, making a positive impact on the world. Here are even more self-care ideas that will benefit you, and the people you love and care for:

Books

Books are the ideal choice for anyone who is into self-help and self-care. It makes no difference whether your thing is fiction, or natural health, or something spiritual, there’s a book that will meet any need or inspire wonderful ideas. Even audiobooks are ideal for when people who just don’t ‘have the time’ to read.

Courses and classes

Those that want to live their best life and love adventure and finding out about new things will love a self-care glass to nourish their soul. There are cookery and music classes, there are art classes and all sort of courses or classes that will help you make the best of yourself and the situations you find yourself in.

Take care!

Actually, self-care has become one of the most popular buzzwords of today, but it’s because people finally realize just how important it is.

Heaps of people, and particularly women, spend a lot of their time supporting and helping other people in their families that they often don’t have the time or energy to focus on themselves, and particularly what their body needs, which is so important.

Take time to be kind to yourself so that you can serve those whom you love best, not forgetting yourself because that means taking back your power.

Looking for a gift for someone who needs to indulge more in self-care? You've come to the right place! This post is full of self-care gift ideas.

Let’s Get Elfed Up! An Ugly Christmas Sweater Review

For all your Ugly Christmas Sweater needs, I recommend uglychristmassweater.com

I was given a free Ugly Christmas Sweater from UglyChristmasSweater.com in exchange for this post and social media love. While the sweater was free, it has not impacted my review. All opinions below are my own. I also could receive a small commission should you choose to purchase via my links in the post at no cost to you. Thanks in advance for your support!

I love me some Ugly Christmas Sweaters y’all. Like A LOT! And so, I jumped for joy when UglyChristmasSweater.com reached out and offered me a free sweater. Now, my first instinct was to grab this one because of my love and adoration for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:

Grab your Ugly Christmas Sweater by clicking through this image today!

BUT, because I want to wear it in public and not have everyone frowning at me for wearing something with a bad word on it, I chose this one:

Grab your Elfed Up Ugly Christmas Sweater by clicking through this image today!

GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I just love this sweater sooooooo much. And, the model from the website is way cuter than me, so I posted an image of her in it instead of me. You’re welcome. LOL! BUT – if you want to see the live version of the sweater – head over to check out my Instagram story of me opening the package it came in. I was soooo giddy to receive it. Heck, I’m still giddy that I have it now. Can not WAIT for the cold weather to don this gay apparel.

I Highly Recommend UglyChristmasSweater.com

For all your Ugly Christmas Sweater needs, I happily and wholeheartedly recommend UglyChristmasSweater.com. This site is awesome! They have men’s sweaters, women’s sweaters, and naughty ones. You can also create a custom sweater if you’re feeling creative.

Oh, and get this! They have…wait for it…

This needs more build up because it’s so damn cool…

okay… they have….

3 D Sweaters!!! What?!? I KNOW!!! How cool is that?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that having a 3D sweater is insanely impractical. You can’t comfortably sit in the car, let alone on the couch with it on, but it looks really awesome…from the side. hahaha! Check out what I mean:

Grab your Ugly Christmas Sweater today! Just click through the image to the online store Grab your Ugly Christmas Sweater today! Just click through the image to the store

I think this is one of the funniest ideas of ever! Imagine rolling up to your in laws, or the company Christmas party wearing one of these. Ha!

And, if you haven’t gotten enough of the Ugly Christmas fill…they have pajamas too! I’m sorry…let me take that back. They aren’t just pajamas. Oh no! They’re pajama jumpsuits! You can even score the bunny jumpsuit from A Christmas Story . Check this out:

Get your Christmas Story jumpsuit by clicking through the image

Oh yeah – you know you want this suit! I know I do.

So, get your cute booty over to UglyChristmasSweater.com today, and order something nice for yourself. Get mom and dad a nice sweater too. Everyone needs an Ugly Christmas Sweater! They are so much fun. The website is even offering free shipping for orders over $60. Don’t wait! Get yours today!

I love me some Ugly Christmas Sweaters y'all. Like A LOT! And so, I jumped for joy when UglyChristmasSweater.com reached out and offered me a free sweater.

100 Ways to Save Hundreds on Your Wedding

This might be controversial, but I’m sharing my entire book 100 Ways to Save Hundreds on Your Wedding for free below. If you would rather have the Kindle eBook version of it though, you can grab it right here. It’s less than the cost of a latte! Thanks for your support!

Introduction

According to CNBC, “The average cost of a wedding is as high as $28,400 by one estimate, and close to $26,000 by another.” I don’t know about you, but when I got married, I had to pay for my wedding myself. The idea of spending nearly $30,000 on one day simply didn’t make sense to me. So, I set out to find ways to make my wedding significantly cheaper. In the end I had approximately 75 guests and spent a grand total of $5,000.

Now, before you assume that means I skimped on a lot of the things that make a wedding a fabulous and wonderful party I want to say two things. First, people still to this day tell me how much they loved my wedding and second, I don’t feel like anything was left out. I had a dress, a cake, a photographer, a live band, a sit down catered meal, gorgeous invitations – the whole nine yards.

What was our secret to a gorgeous wedding that didn’t cost an arm and a leg? Well, many of the tips you will find in this book answer that question. I’m so thrilled to share what I have learned with you. To this day I’m still picking up tips and tricks at every wedding I attend or photograph (I am a photographer), and I hope to continue sharing a bunch of these tips forever. My mission in life is to help people save money in a variety of ways, so this eBook will certainly not be my last. In other words, stay tuned for more releases, but in the mean time- I hope you enjoy this one!

Engagement Party


Alright, you just got engaged. Congratulations! You’ll likely put it on Facebook and announce it to the world. Then, after everyone and their brother has congratulated you, there might be a party. If so, hopefully you will be lucky to have it thrown for you. If not, below are some tips to help you keep the budget low. I personally didn’t have an engagement party because it didn’t make sense financially to me and it felt like an outdated tradition, but if you want to party by all means do so. Just don’t kill your wedding fund to make it happen!

1. My top tip to save money on an engagement party is to remember that this doesn’t have to be nearly as splashy as a wedding so don’t get a DJ, don’t hire a caterer, forget the photographer and don’t over think it! Keep it simple. Simple can still be sexy and the savings are huge!

2. Make it a potluck party – Who says you have to cook everything yourself or hire someone to do it for your party? You could host a backyard barbecue and handle the main course of hot dogs and hamburgers and ask everyone who’s coming to bring something specific.

3. Don’t want to ask your guests to bring something? No problem! Host it at lunch time because it’s a smaller meal and significantly cheaper. Or, for even bigger savings have it between lunch and dinner so that you can get away with light passed appetizers.

4. Only serve beer, wine and ONE signature cocktail. Save more money by scratching the liquor, and save the most by not having any alcohol at all.

5. Host the event at a private residence. If your backyard is big enough, throw it there for only close friends and family. If not, see if any of your friends or family have a clubhouse at their apartment complex or in their subdivision. You may get lucky and score a clubhouse super cheap or for free

6. Use an MP3 player fully loaded with your favorite jams in lieu of a paid DJ.

7. Have a friend take the pictures of the night, and/or put disposable cameras all over the room to have friends and family snap candids.

Engagement Photos


8. Book the same person to shoot your engagement photo shoot that is doing your wedding and ask for a discount for hiring them for two occasions. In fact, many photographers are willing to do the engagement photos for free if you’ll hired them for the wedding. You simply need to ask when negotiating.

9. Consider asking a friend that is a photographer to do them. Personally, as a photographer I’ll do engagement shoots for friends and family for free a deep discount. Sometimes I’ll even do it free as my bridal shower gift to the bride. There is a chance you can get the same courtesy.

10. Be careful with this one, but you could hire someone on a website such as Craigslist. The good news is that since it’s just the engagement shoot it’s not as dangerous to go with a newbie photographer because you can always rehire someone new to do a reshoot. Many new photographers trying to build their portfolio will shoot sessions like this incredibly cheap or even for free. Just be prepared that they will expect you to allow them to use the images from your shoot in their portfolio.

Save the Dates

11. Use an engagement photo as your save the date. Edit the image with a free program or online via a website like PicMonkey or Canva to include the words “Save the Date” and the date of your wedding and voila! You’ve got a customized announcement. After that, go to a website like Shutterfly and they will usually give you your first 50 prints for free. Then, just put those bad boys in an envelope and mail them off to your pals and gals.

12. Announce it on Facebook or other social media in lieu of sending a save the date. Some consider this tacky, but it gets the job done.

13. Another option for your save the dates is an email with a link to your wedding website that you create and send to all of your friends and family. More and more couples are opting to create a wedding website complete with the stores they have registered with, pictures of themselves including updates with engagement pics, links to their honeymoon info and more.

Invitations

14. For my wedding I went to Jo-Ann’s armed with some 40% off coupons and bought a bunch of wedding invitation making kits. For 100 invites I think we spent $20 plus the cost of the ink. The instructions were super simple, and in one afternoon I was able to print out and put together all of the invites. They looked just as nice as many invitation companies could have offered but at a fraction of the cost.

15. If you are one of those gals that thinks you don’t have a creative bone in your body then you could do what some people I know have done- they went to an art school! No, not to learn how to make invitations, but to ask art students to design their invites for them. They paid half or less what an invitation company would have charged them. In fact, one of the gals got her invites done just for the cost of the materials as long as she agreed to let the student keep one for their portfolio and use her as a reference.

16. Another option for invitations is to print out another engagement picture and mail it off to friends and family. Now, this is not necessarily the way to go if you are looking for something formal, but if your wedding it less than traditional you could customize it however you want.

17. I personally would REALLY not recommend this one- but if you wanted to save lots of money you could just send invitations via email. I’ve only received one wedding invitation this way and it worked for this particular bride, but if I had done this I think my family and friends would have made fun of me for years to come. You do what’s right for you though!

Accessories for the Wedding Day

18. Every bride seems to enjoy decking themselves out in beautiful jewelry on the day of their wedding but accessories can get really expensive really fast. One way to save money on accessories for your big day is to wear pieces you already have and/or borrow pieces from friends and family.

19. If you must buy jewelry for your wedding day you could always go the costume jewelry route. Only you would really know it’s fake. If you are worried about it turning your skin a different color do a test run before the wedding- wear it all day and see what happens. Some brides have bypassed this problem by taking clear nail polish and painting all the parts of the jewelry that would touch their skin. I wouldn’t recommend this for earrings though because I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want nail polish in a hole in my skin.

20. You could also make your wedding day jewelry. I know- I’m talking creative speak again! You could take a beading class at your local craft store or watch a bunch of Youtube videos though. Who knows? It could be fun!!!

21. What about thrift stores, estates sales and garage sales? You might find the perfect pieces at one of these options and it’ll be much cheaper than new pieces at department stores.

22. If after all of these options you simply must buy brand new non costume jewelry I have one more idea that I think will help- go for Sterling Silver and Cubic Zarconia! WAAAAAY cheaper than white gold or platinum jewelry and diamonds with just as much bling. Want the look of gold instead? Lots of sterling silver is available with gold plating- there! Problem solved.

Bridal Party Gifts

Giving gifts to your bridal party is a time honored tradition, but you don’t have to break the bank to give the people in your wedding something nice. Here are some inexpensive bridal party gift ideas:

23. Guys: Mini bottles of liquor and a personalized shot/cocktail glass. You’ll save even more on this if you can make the personalized shot glass yourself.

24. A 6 pack of beer for each of the guys with a koozie- make sure you get the brand he likes!

25. Personalized beer openers, coffee mugs or beer mugs

26. If your groomsmen like cigars get them a couple of inexpensive ones with a cigar cutter.

27. Girls: They seem to have a lot more options! Why is it so hard to shop for men? I suppose that’s for another book. First up for girls is a bottle of wine. What you could do to save some serious coin on this is get a cheap bottle of wine like Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joes, print out a fancy shmancy label from a printable site with a sweet saying, adhere said label to the bottle, and voila! Cheap gift. If your gals are wine connoisseurs they might notice, but that’s a risk your wallet might just be willing to take!

28. Get each girl a nice necklace to wear at the wedding. You could go as cheap as you like here. I’ve seen some stunning sterling silver necklaces for under $10 at after Christmas sales!

29. You could also get a nifty reusable tumbler for each girl.

30. A cute idea that has been all over Pinterest lately is to get a mason jar and fill it with emery boards, nail polish and whatever other cheap dollar store finds will fit. Bonus points if everything in the jar matches!

31. Custom wine glasses might be a good idea too. You can get some dollar store wine glass and hand paint them. Not very good with painting? No problem! I’ve made several with polka dots that match the person’s décor at home and they’ve been a huge success. Heck, you could even pair it with the Two Buck Chuck for a truly sweet gift!

Wedding Rings

Wedding rings shouldn’t be skimped on since you will be wearing them forever, but that doesn’t mean you have to over pay! Here are some quick ideas to save money on your rings:

32. Buy the bride’s ring where you got the engagement ring. Sometimes the store will give you a loyalty discount for being a return customer.

33. Look for sales! Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Black Friday- it seems like jewelry stores have sales for every occasion. If you’re lucky you will find a sale that is something like a percentage off everything in the store!

34. When I got married we scored super cheap wedding rings because we found a store that was going out of business. On the one hand this can be a little scary because you can’t exactly go back if anything happens to the ring, but for my husband and I the deal was too good to beat! If you have time to look for a store going out of business go for it.

35. One way to save some serious coin is to not get matching rings or to go with simple bands rather than extravagant ones. This is obviously a personal choice, but for my husband and I we just wanted them to both be gold and look similar which helped us save even more!

36. Forgo engraving. Is the added expense of engraving something inside the band really worth it?

Wedding Dress

The wedding dress seems to be almost as big of a deal as the engagement itself. It seems like every time someone I know gets engaged I suddenly see a post on their social media pages about “Saying yes to the dress.” Now, I’m all for having a beautiful gown to say “I do” in, but those suckers can get pretty pricey. How can you save on the most important dress you will ever wear?

37. Don’t buy it at full price! Bridal stores frequently have sales so its okay to shop around. You don’t have to take the highest marked item because it’s NOT the only one out there.

38. Don’t work with a pushy up-seller. If you are dress shopping and start feeling as though everyone is just trying to push you to buy the most expensive dress- LEAVE! Have a budget in mind and try to meet or beat it. One of my girlfriends made a rule that she wouldn’t try on a single dress out of her price range. The sales clerk kept bringing her dresses over that number and she politely explained that no matter what she would not try it on. Why? She knew that she would be risking falling in love with the dress and being tempted to overspend. You can’t fall in love with something you never try on!

39. Have you considered a consignment or thrift store gown? Now, before you close this eBook in haste hear me out- you could save hundreds on your dress simply by choosing this option. Is it really so terrible to wear something previously worn if you look amazing in it and nobody but you knows it was a second time down the aisle for this dress?!? You could have it professionally cleaned and then have a seamstress form fit it to your body if necessary and even after those costs still have saved way more than a brand new gown!

40. Avoid couture. Now, if you have an aunt or cousin or a really good friend that makes dresses and wants to make a custom gown as a wedding gift, by all means couture it up baby. But if you don’t I beg you to please avoid couture!! A custom made dress could easily set you back $1,000 or more and it’s not worth it just to have a gown that is unique.

41. One bride I heard about didn’t wear a wedding dress at all. She wore a prom dress. It just so happened that a department store she was in had a large selection of white prom dresses and she found one that would be perfect for her wedding day for less than $100! With the addition of her veil I highly doubt any of her guests even realized this was not a wedding dress. Speaking of veils – craft stores typically have these for less than $20 and they’re just as pretty as the ones in the bridal shops at a fraction of the cost!

42. Could you wear the same dress a family member wore? If your nostalgic and the dress fits your wedding theme this may be the perfect option for you. Boom- free dress!

Bridesmaid’s Dresses

43. Don’t make them match. Yes, they should all be the same color, but let each girl pick out a dress style that fits their body best.

44. Don’t get them at a bridal shop! Instead, look for after prom sales in department stores such as Macy’s or Dillard’s.

45. You’ll save the most if your girls follow suit with tradition and pay for their own dress. P.S. Bridesmaids are also expected to pay for their own hair and makeup the day of the wedding.

Groom’s & Groomsmen Attire

46. Rent, don’t buy the tuxes. Odds are the attire won’t be worn again anyway, so why shell out the cash?

47. Go less formal and have the men wear a black suit coat and black dress pants with a white button up shirt. Add a tie and you’re all set. Who said it had to be tuxedos in the first place?

48. Again, if you go with tradition, the men can pay for their own attire to save you a boat load of cash.

Cake


49. Buy a super small cake for the cutting and then serve sheet cake. This can save you a small fortune!

50. Get yours from a grocery store instead of a cake shop. They are often pretty enough and will be as much as half the cost or even cheaper in comparison.

51. Do cupcakes. I’ve seen this done at several weddings. The bride and groom had a tiered cupcake stand and the cupcakes were stacked to look like a wedding cake. Not as pretty as a wedding cake, but certainly less expensive.

52. Forgo the cake completely. I’ve only seen this at one wedding, but it certainly can be done. In lieu of the cake, the bride and groom served a variety of pastries and petit fours.

Catering & Beverages for the Reception

53. Like the engagement party, you can choose to serve only beer and wine to save money.

54. Instead of paying for the alcohol yourself, you could do a cash bar.

55. Also like the engagement party, you could save on your reception by having it around lunch time or between meals so you can serve lighter options that don’t cost as much. I’ve even seen weddings that were done as brunches because eggs are cheaper than most meats.

56. Go for the buffet meal instead of a seated dinner. They’re often significantly cheaper.

57. Only use wedding venues that allow outside caterers because in house ones often charge the most for the convenience factor.

58. Have your family cook.

59. Order chicken instead of beef or fish.

DJ/ Entertainment

60. One way to save on entertainment is to hire a student to be your DJ. Of course, make sure you get references and that it’s not their first event.

61. Some venues include live bands with their packages as was the case with my wedding. For no additional fee we got a great group to sing all the party favorites.

Flowers

62. Fake it, with flowers anyway – Fresh flowers can cost a lot of money whereas silk bouquets can be significantly less expensive. Visit a website like Pinterest to get DIY bouquet ideas and then head to your local craft store with the instructions in hand. Some stores will even help you with what you’re looking for and give you pointers on how to accomplish your task.

63. Get smaller bouquets for the bridesmaids. There is no rule that says you have to have large bouquets for everyone.

64. Don’t put a flower arrangement at every table. I’ve seen weddings where the bride and groom purchased candles at the dollar store and put them on the table with framed pictures of the couple. It was still elegant and it gave guests something to look at.

Flower Girl and Ring Bearer

65. Don’t get an expensive pillow for the ring bearer to hold. You can get them cheap at craft stores with coupons. Be sure to sign up for 40% and 50% off coupons at Hobby Lobby, Michaels and Jo-Ann’s craft stores.

66. Don’t have the flower girl throw real petals. Instead get a bag of them at a craft store or discount store. They are generally much cheaper.

67. For their attire – Typically, the parents of the child are expected to pay for the clothes if they agree to have their child participate in your wedding. However, if you are buying the clothes, don’t go to a bridal store or tux shop. Hit the after Easter and Christmas sales to get cheaper clothes.

Officiant

68. In many states a notary can officiate and they generally charge a lot less than a minister, rabbi or some other religious leader.

69. If you’re getting married on a boat like I did, the captain can probably marry you. That’s exactly what we did – we had the captain marry us.

Photography and Videography

70. It’s dangerous to have a newbie photographer shooting your wedding because they might miss the shots a veteran would grab. However, it will save you a boat load of cash.

71. Only hire the photographer for the main shots. In my photography business I’ve had couples hire me for just the ceremony, the posed shots and the first hour of the reception to save money. During that hour we do the main shots like the cake cutting, the bouquet toss, the garter toss, etc… Any shot we can’t get organically we stage so the couple can get the images without paying the cost of keeping me there for the entire event.

72. If you dare, you could hire photography students. Again though, try to make sure it’s not their first event

73. Several couples opt to not use a videographer to save money. But, if you choose to you can use the same ideas in tips 70, 71 and 72 to save some cash and still have the services.

Rehearsal Dinner

74. Only invite the main wedding party for this event to save money.

75. Opt for tapas or appetizers instead of full meals.

76. You could have everyone pay for their own drinks, and only serve tea and water.

Ceremony

77. Have your ceremony in the same location as the reception to save the money and hassle of decorating two venues.

78. Use a CD instead of a live harpist, pianist or other musician for the wedding music.

79. Don’t feel obligated to decorate every pew.

Reception

80. Try and get a reception hall that looks nice without decorations so that you won’t have to pay a lot of money fixing the eye sores.

81. Don’t go overboard with decorating. Remember, the more simple the wedding, the smaller the bill. Also, balloons are cheaper than most decorations, but can still create a very nice effect. Think outside the box and who knows what kinds of amazing ideas you can come up with!

82. Instead of buying linens, rent them. Or, even better, see if the reception hall has linens that you can use as many come with white table cloths already. This can save you not only money, but the hassle of getting the linens delivered.

Makeup and Hair

83. Instead of an up-do, opt for a more simplistic hair style. You could wear it down and use a gorgeous hair clip instead like in the image

84. Go to a cosmetology school instead of a traditional salon.

85. Do your own makeup and hair or have a friend/ family member do it for you.

Party Favors

86. Save on party favors by making your own. You could make cookies and package them for guests or you could make bags of candy. I’ve seen candy “bars” at several weddings lately that allow the guests to make their own party favors as well. Each guest is given a box or bag to fill with treats. You can go as big or as small as you like, and the candies don’t have to be incredibly expensive.

87. Look for discount and closeout options online. Avoid ones that charge for shipping. Also, skip the personalization on novelty items. Most people don’t want to keep a koozie or bottle opener with your wedding date on it anyway.

Transportation

88. Limos are awesome but man do they cost a lot of money. If you insist on having a limo save money by only having one drop you off OR pick you up from the reception. If you hire one for the day be prepared to drop several Benjamins!

89. Rent a really nice car instead of a limo. It will be cheaper and it will still feel extra special.

Honeymoon

90. Get a travel agent that price matches and doesn’t charge you a planning fee!

91. Book well in advance to optimize savings and get the rooms, flights and destinations you want.

92. Plan the time of your honeymoon wisely. For example, if you go to a destination in their peak season you could easily end up paying three or four times the amount you would pay in the low season for everything from your room to your flight to local attractions and events.

93. Beware discount trip sites. You may think that you are getting a great deal by using something like Groupon, Living Social or another similar site to book your honeymoon, but beware the savings and the fine print! There could be some serious catches involved. The last thing you want is to buy a seven day trip to Tahiti for a lower than normal rate only to learn that it is only valid in the rainiest month of the travel year and requires you use an airline you don’t want to fly with.

94. Don’t go into debt for the trip. If your credit card charges 10% APR that $3,000 honeymoon could easily be an additional $300 in interest fees. Many people feel its best to charge their trip and if you want to, that’s all fine and good as long as you are paying your balance in full before interest can accrue!

Wedding Announcements

95. See if your local newspaper has a day that it offers free announcements. Believe it or not some towns do have days where you can announce your wedding for free. Of course you most likely will not get to include a picture and will be limited on text, but if you are dying to see the news in print, it may be an option.

96. Two words- Status Update! More and more people are forgoing traditional wedding announcements and simply updating their relationship status on Facebook as their way of announcing the fact that they are officially off the market.

97. Instead of a newspaper announcement you could send a wedding picture to friends and family via email or snail mail. The email option will obviously save you a lot of money, but printing pics that you mail out could still be cheaper than a wedding announcement in the paper.

98. If your wedding was super cool you could consider pitching it to a local wedding magazine in your area. Who knows? They might like it so much that they feature you in their publication. Talk about an announcement!!!

99. Forgo traditional invitations and announcements – Considering the fact that you likely won’t have many guests anyway you will already be saving money on your invitations. To save even more instead of sending a formal announcement after the wedding just send a photograph. Head to a free website like Pic Monkey or Canva to add the text you wanted to share and then have prints made via a photo lab online. Remember, some sites like Shutterfly will even give you your first 50 4×6 prints free!

Another Way to Save on Your Wedding Day

100. Skip the wedding and elope in Vegas!

OR

Have a destination wedding where you wanted to honeymoon. Some resorts will even do the wedding ceremony and reception for free if you have a honeymoon that is at least five to seven days at their property.

OR

Go to the court house to get married and then have a big party instead of a traditional reception.

My Wedding Gift to you – 10 BONUS TIPS!!!

101. Get a wedding planner and tell them your budget and make sure they will stick to it. Wedding planners are amazing at finding vendors that will work within your budget and this will save you countless hours of haggling and worrying about the numbers because they will be doing it all for you.

102. Never commit to the first place or vendor you find. Shop around and then negotiate between vendors. Be willing to walk away if you are not getting the price you want.

103. Change the date of the wedding. If your town has a particular time of year designated as “wedding season,” don’t get married during that time! Everything will be the most expensive from your photographer to your venue. When you get married in the busy season, you most likely won’t have top picks for any of the wedding vendors either. Going for the down time opens up more options, and you’re more likely to score better prices for vendors trying to fill their empty slots.

104. Don’t be afraid of negotiating and don’t show too much excitement. When you show your emotions it’s easier for you to be manipulated into paying more than you want to.

105. Don’t visit any place you can’t afford. Like the wedding dress scenario I mentioned earlier – if you try it on it’s harder to say no. So, why tempt yourself by visiting a place completely outside of your budget?

106. Look out for hidden fees, and always read the fine print on every contract.

107. Consider wedding insurance. It probably seems odd mentioning a fee like this when I’m talking about saving money, but wedding insurance could save you a lot of money in the event of a natural disaster or some other event outside of your control. For example, I know of a couple who had been planning a wedding at a hotel for a year and it burned down the week before. Thanks to their wedding insurance plan they were able to recover some of the fees that otherwise would have been lost from changing the date and venue.

108. Choose a casual wedding at a park or beach. From the food to the attire, you could save a lot of money simply by not going the formal route.

109. Look for packages that include everything, or close to it. This is what I did and it saved us a ton. We got a package that included the officiant, the catering, the band, the reception hall, the ceremony location and more for one low cost. Then, we negotiated to get the price we were looking for.

110. Finally, consider asking for help. My parents chose to give me my wedding dress and cake instead of a wedding gift. My husband’s parents gave us our honeymoon. Others gave us money towards the wedding instead of a gift.

Your wedding should be special, but it doesn’t have to be over the top and crazy expensive. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you and your spouse to be say “I do!” No matter what happens on your special day, even if everything else turns out awful, you will have each other. That is what makes this day special after all. Don’t get hung up in the details focusing so much on your wedding that you forget about the marriage.

I hope you and your spouse to be have the most beautiful wedding as cheap as you want it to be. I also hope that this eBook gave you some ideas to help you save some money on this big day. Congratulations! I wish the two of you a long and happy marriage with more love and abundance than you can even imagine is possible. May your fights be minimal, your bank accounts booming and your hearts be full of love the rest of your days.

Article Spotlight: Nerdy Girls Do Real Estate On The Godaddy Blog

Nerdy Girls Do Real Estate On The Godaddy Blog

Y’all! I’m so grateful to share with you today an article I wrote for the Godaddy Blog –  “How to increase Instagram engagement for your real estate company.” I’m not just excited about this piece because of the kickASH Instagram tips in it. Oh no. I’m excited because this piece features the ahhhhhhmazing ladies behind Nerdy Girls Real Estate. Give it a read ri’chere:

When you’re a nerdy girl in real estate, you don’t just sell houses, you sell them with flair. That’s just what the two women behind Nerdy Girls have — a whole lotta flair. It’s what has helped them not only with their Instagram engagement, but also with their real estate business in general.

Their first Instagram post went live on Dec. 28, 2016. Though it was a simple post, it turned into something that Katharine “Kate” Hickland (aka the original nerd or queen nerd, if you will) could never have predicted. It turned into a community.

The Nerdy Girls Instagram account is fun, educational and brings together people who are passionate about Tampa, Fla., in a highly entertaining fashion. Their following is considered small by “internet famous” standards at just over 6,400 followers, but it steadily grows every week and shows no signs of slowing down.

Recently, I sat down with queen nerd Kate and her business partner, Michelle James, to talk about all things real estate, Instagram engagement and, of course, nerding out. Here’s what I learned. Continue reading…

Want even more awesomeness from me? Check out some of my other posts below:

I’m available for hire!

If you have ever needed a ghost writer or a guest poster for your blog, I’m available for hire. I’ve worked with big brands, little brands, and everything in between. Hit me up via email if you want to chat about me writing for your business. I’d love to work with you!

Quick Meal Idea – Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Y’all! I’m ALWAYS looking for fast and easy meal ideas. As an entrepreneur I don’t have time to be slaving away in the kitchen all day. I need the recipe to be simple to understand, quick to prepare – oh and it HAS to be delicious. That’s why I love this meal idea – Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

It’s like Buffalo Chicken wings…only NOT! And ohhhhh so yum!

Before we go any further, let's please the FCC shall we? This post does contain affiliate links. If you buy anything via these links, I'll receive a small commission to help pay my bills without any additional cost to you. Thanks in advance for your support! Okay, disclaimer out of the way! Back to the fun stuff below the image!

Best part? It features all the flavors you want when you’re indulging in Buffalo Wings, but without all that pesky guilt that comes with it. Second best part? You can quick it in one pan, and dinner will be ready in under a half an hour. Say what?!? I know! So good!

I think it’s keto friendly too. Keto friends – will you let me know if I’m accurate on that?

Let’s dive into what this recipe calls for shall we?

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the diced pepper and celery, and sauté until tender, around 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.
  3. Add the hot sauce and sauté while stirring for another minute or two, until the sauce is heated through and everything is well coated. Remove from heat and stir in the sliced green onions.
  4. To serve, fill Bibb lettuce cups with a few tablespoons of the chicken mixture and enjoy!

Need a dinner idea? This Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe is quick and easy to throw together. It's delicious and filling, and dinner will be ready in 30 minutes!

How easy does this recipe sound? It is sooooooo easy! And, if you do want to add a splash of ranch dressing on top – I won’t judge you girl. I know it might not be keto or diet friendly, but sometimes you need a little ranch to cool down that hot sauce. Am I right?

What are your favorite quick and easy meal dishes? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Also check out my Hearty Minestrone Soup by clicking the image below:

Hearty Minestrone Soup with Fresh Arugula Vertical

Wicked Green Ice Cocktail

I love me a good martini, and this one is fantastic. In fact, it’s so good, it’s wicked! See what I did there? I crack myself up!

If you’re looking for the perfect signature drink for your next Halloween party, I highly recommend trying this cocktail. It’s both naughty, and nice. But, beware – it goes down like candy, and after one or two the alcohol will TOTALLY sneak up on you!

Before we go any further, let's please the FCC shall we? This post does contain affiliate links. If you buy anything via these links, I'll receive a small commission to help pay my bills without any additional cost to you. Thanks in advance for your support! Okay, disclaimer out of the way! Back to the fun stuff!

Wicked Green Ice Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • Malibu® Coconut Rum
  • Midori® Melon Liqueur
  • Blue Curacao
  • Sour Mix
  • Pineapple juice
  • Dry ice (optional, but man it makes for a sexy drink! I mean seriously – look at all that smokey goodness!!!)

Prep:

  • Carefully place a couple of small pieces of dry ice in the bottom of two martini glasses. Do NOT use your hands to do this – either use a special glove or tongs! Side note: Call around to ask who sells dry ice in your area. I know a couple of Publix stores carry it here in Tampa Bay, but I’m honestly not sure who else does. In the event you can’t get dry ice, add a couple of cubes of ice to your martini glass for the name sake. Might I recommend these skeleton ice cubes: Again – I prefer dry ice, but if I can’t use dry ice – these ice cubes are hilarious in a cocktail!
  • Pour one shot (about 2 oz) of each of the above ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. If you like your drinks a little stronger, cut the sour mix and blue curacao measurements in half.
  • Shake and strain into a martini glass
Should make two drinks.
Have a drink you want me to try or a product you want me to review? 
Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly 😉

This drink is so good, it's WICKED! If you are looking for a tasty Halloween cocktail, you have to try this Wicked Green Ice Cocktail!

Here are a few of my other favorite cocktails for Halloween:

If I’m REALLY honest…I could drink any of these drinks all year long. I truly love a good drink, and each of these are quite tasty.  What are your favorite Halloween cocktails?

Have a drink you want me to try or a product you want me to review? 
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Praying for the Strength to Forgive My Dad

I haven’t really talked much about my dad publicly lately, but yesterday some conversations about him unearthed a lot of feels that I tried to pretend didn’t affect me.

I can’t stand how much anger, sadness, resentment and frustration I still harbor towards him and what he did…

Then, just a few moments ago something triggered the hell out of me, and now I’m sitting here typing this through tears even though it’s been an otherwise really lovely day.

I wish he had chosen to save himself. I wish he had chosen to get help – he had soooo many opportunities and encouragement. I wish he hadn’t left the way he did.

I wish I could let go of all the guilt I feel even though I know deep down nothing I could have said would have changed anything – ultimately it was his choice…everything in his life was his choice….even taking his own life was his choice… I wish so many things that will simply never be.

When I have children, they will never know him, and I am bothered by the fact that I can’t help feeling like it’s a good thing because he was soooooooo negative. When I get my first house, he will never walk through the front door.

When I finally achieve my biggest goals in my business, he won’t be there, and I hate that I feel like nothing I ever did was enough to make him proud enough of me. And the most heartbreaking reality of all, is thinking back on how many times he wasn’t there when I needed him before he left me for good.

I wish I could understand the skewed thoughts he had of believing the only way to show love was to work a job he hated to buy my sister and I crap we didn’t need. I wish it made sense to me that he truly believed the world would be better without him. I wish…I can’t even explain all the things I wish.

So many things still keep coming back that I have blocked out for so many years, and as they reveal themselves they feel like freshly opened wounds as if the hurt occurred today. I’m a survivor of suicide, and it still sucks. My life is forever changed by the choice he can’t take back, and that he can’t mend.

I truly pray that my heart will let me completely forgive him for the choice he made. I thought I had forgiven him. But in this moment… I know I haven’t yet.