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Lifestyle

TurboTax, TurboTax Live, How to get your taxes done easily and accurately with TurboTax Live, how to get your taxes done easily, finances, money, tax season

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of TurboTax Live Intuit the opinions of how to get your taxes done easily and accurately and text are all mine

Tax Day is right around the corner and that means for many of us, it is crunch time but what if there was a way to get your taxes done easily and accurately with TurboTax Live? What if you could get professional tax preparation help from a bilingual credentialed expert from the comfort of your own home? Well, hold on to your hats because now you can.

TurboTax is transforming assisted tax preparation this Year with the NEW offering TurboTax Live, a new way to file taxes. Customers can take advantage of a nationwide virtual network of credentialed tax experts to help with your tax needs every step of the way.

Now, talking with a bilingual credentialed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA) to help file your taxes is easier than ever! And the best part? You can access TurboTax Live experts in the comfort of your own home on-demand, and you will also receive the below benefits.

Expert Review

With TurboTax Live, a tax expert will review your tax return and give you the approval to file, ensuring that you’re getting the most money possible and your taxes are done right.

Whether it’s personal or business-related taxes, including more complex situations, TurboTax Live has you covered. Screen sharing capability allows our credentialed tax experts to show you relevant information and answers right on the screen so you can be confident you’re getting your maximum tax refund.

Which is awesome because how many times have we done our own taxes, crossed our fingers and hoped we did everything correctly? Having an expert review our work would give us the confidence to file knowing that everything was done correctly and we had maximized our return.

By Your Side

With TurboTax Live, you’re not alone. With the simple click of the “Expert Help” button, you can connect to a live human being via one-way video technology, including access to Spanish speaking tax experts.

The tax experts are available, on-demand or by appointment, to give you personalized tax advice and answers to your specific tax questions, as often as you need.

I remember when I was a kid, my parents taking their taxes to be done by an accountant. The problem was they needed to find a good accountant who was bilingual because my dad’s first language is Spanish. My mom spoke English but not Spanish so while my parents could communicate through hand gestures and looks when they were falling in love, that method doesn’t work so well when you’re trying to do your taxes. Having TurboTax Live back then, for them would have made life so much easier at tax time, which also happens to be their wedding anniversary; 46 years this Tax Day!

File with Confidence

Like all TurboTax products, TurboTax Live comes with a Maximum Refund Guarantee –the experts help find deductions so that you can get the biggest refund you deserve. Sounds good to me.

Additionally, you can get the best outcome possible and feel confident with their  *100% Accurate, Expert Approved Guarantee for any tax return that is reviewed and signed by a credentialed expert.

TurboTax Live also has a 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, TurboTax will pay you the penalty and interest.

Amazing, right? Your taxes done right, from the comfort of your home, by a certified bilingual expert and it’s all guaranteed! What more could you possibly want?

Thanks to the generosity of TurboTax, I will randomly select 3 winners who will be provided with a TurboTax card valued at $179.99, in which they’d have access to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent in case they have any questions in regards to their taxes.

Here’s how it works: You enter below via rafflecopter. 3 winners will be selected at random on Thursday 3/5/18 at 11:59 p.m. If you are one of the winners, you will be able to scratch a unique code that’s located on the back of the TurboTax card. After doing this, simply type in the code right before submitting your taxes to Uncle Sam.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

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Moroccan dinner party, Morocco, how to host a Moroccan dinner party, Wayfair

When I think of Morocco, I immediately think of a cacophony of flavors and cultures melding together into one amazing, vibrant and unlike any other. The beauty is everywhere from the tiles to the tapestries, the dancing, singing and deliciously in Morocco’s pairings of food.

Morocco has always been on my bucket list of travel destinations for my family, since my honeymoon in Epcot where I first tasted authentic Moroccan food at Restaurant Marrakesh. It was love at first bite and I’ve been many times since. I can’t seem to satiate my appetite for everything Moroccan.

Moroccan dinner party, Morocco, how to host a Moroccan dinner party, Wayfair

I live in the suburbs in Indiana and sadly, there are no Moroccan restaurants anywhere near where I live. So I started thinking, where there are no doors…create windows. Create all the food windows you want.

I may not be able to whisk my family away on a trip to Morocco anytime soon but I can certainly bring Morocco home to us. I’ve been wanting to experiment more with themed dinners for some time. We’ve got the themed birthday parties down, after many years of practice so why not embark on a journey of hosting dinner parties themed from different cultures and cuisines from around the world.

Luckily, my family is game for everything. We are a family of travelers and foodies. I spent my childhood summers in another country. My father is not native to this country. My children’s childhood has been infused with the spice of other cultures since they were born. We embrace differences in people, places, cultures and last (but certainly not least) food!

Our girls already have married their fond memories of belly dancing at Restaurant Marrakesh with the amazing foods they’ve eaten there on several occasions so it wasn’t too difficult to get them to embrace the idea of Moroccan food and ambiance at home. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do a little belly dancing. Probably not but you never know.

These are some of our favorite dishes:

Chicken Bastilla

Baked layers of thin pastry filled with minced chicken and almonds sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Beef Brewat Rolls

Baked layers of thin pastry stuffed with season minced beef, eggs, fried and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Chicken Kebabs ( The national Moroccan dish)

Couscous with Lamb Shank The national Moroccan dish – steamed tiny semolina pasta with steamed vegetables.

Bastilla 

Crispy leaves of Pastry topped with Vanilla Cream and sprinkled with Cinnamon, Powdered Sugar, and toasted almonds.

Marrakesh Express

Rum, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, topped with Dark Rum.

But to recreate an experience involves more than just recipes and food, you need ambiance; the sights, sounds, and colors of Morocco. This can easily be accomplished with a little Moroccan music playing softly in the background as the smells of Morocco permeate the entire house as you cook. You are halfway there. But how do you get the full effect; the full immersive experience? You’ve got to add that Je ne sais quoi.

I’ve found these beautiful pieces to give you that authentic Moroccan feel.

Moroccan dinner party, Morocco, how to host a Moroccan dinner party, Wayfair

Moroccan Silver Teapot

 

Moroccan dinner party, Morocco, how to host a Moroccan dinner party, WayfairMoroccan Medallion Dinnerware

 

Moroccan dinner party, Morocco, how to host a Moroccan dinner party, WayfairMoroccan Floral Cut-Out Metal Lantern

 

Moroccan dinner party, Morocco, how to host a Moroccan dinner party, WayfairFrancesca Moroccan Ivory & Light Blue Area Rug

 

Moroccan dinner party, Morocco, how to host a Moroccan dinner party, WayfairMoroccan Tunis Glasses

 

If you could travel anywhere in the entire world, where would it be? Maybe you can’t catch a plane to Casa Blanca on a whim but that doesn’t mean that we can’t experience all the beauty and flavor of Morocco via a Moroccan dinner party.

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Kia Soul, why buy a kia soul, kia, kiafamily, pros and cons of buying a kia soul

Have you ever driven a KIA SOUL? I did recently and honestly, I was expecting to be underwhelmed but if you’ve ever wondered why buy a KIA SOUL? I think I may have figured it out. Well, aside from being an award-winning compact crossover and starting as low as $16,200!

Driving for me has always been something that I did to get from here to there. I started driving when I was 13-years-old, (shhh, don’t tell anyone. I don’t want to get retroactively arrested) running simple errands for my mom like picking up milk or toilet paper at the local grocery store. It was only a few blocks away but my parents needed help with 6 kids and I did my part. Fast forward a couple decades and I’m still driving to get kids from school to extracurricular and I’m still running errands. I’m a mom chauffeur and when you have to do something, it becomes menial and not fun.

There have been cars that I prefer over others for one reason or the other but mostly, it boiled down to how well it got me from here to there. Only recently have I really started to consider that driving isn’t just about destinations, it’s about the journey. I know it sounds cheesy but it is true.

Kia Soul, why buy a kia soul, kia, kiafamily, pros and cons of buying a kia soul

For me, the car is my decompression space. It’s where I can play the music as loud as I want. Listen to what I want. Drive in silence. When I drive, it’s a little bit like going to church. There is this weird peaceful feeling I get when I am driving alone. You noticed, I said alone. It’s because I am the mom of a tween and teen girl and sometimes the silence in the car when I am alone, is the only thing that gets me through the day.

As I said, I do have my preferences in cars. I’ve driven enough cars to know that some are better than others. And all the bells and whistles can’t make up for subpar engineering. You can definitely tell the difference between a well-made vehicle and a lesser vehicle. It has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with what is under the hood. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Also, sometimes we underestimate the performance of a car because it’s cute. I never realized I did this until recently. The way most people assume attractive blonde women are less serious than brunettes. But in the same way we need to get to know people beyond the color of their hair, we need drive a vehicle before we can know anything about how it performs.

Kia Soul, why buy a kia soul, kia, kiafamily, pros and cons of buying a kia soul

I was loaned a KIA SOUL to drive around for a week. My expectations were low. Not because I think KIA is a subpar brand because I know that they are not. I’ve just always associated the KIA SOUL “cute”. The commercials are cute and they come in cute colors and they don’t seem like something I’d take very seriously. Then, I drove one.

The KIA SOUL surprised me because even though it was indeed adorable, it handled like a high-performance, seriously engineered vehicle.

It hugged curves and handled amazingly in the snow and the rain. It was serious on the road and party on the inside, my girls loved the light up speakers that “danced” to the beat of the music. The SOUL is affordable, dependable, well-built, beautiful and cool.

So if you’re still asking yourself, why buy a KIA SOUL, I want to ask you why would you not buy a KIA SOUL?

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wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions but I do try to set goals, aspirations. I want a clear-cut line in the sand of a life that I am working towards and that’s what I do. Every year, I take stock, pencil in a trajectory and set sail on a new year.

This year one of my goals in organization. But I don’t mean organized spice racks and alphabetized books. No, I mean clean and easy to navigate. I guess for me, organized means streamlined and minimalism. I like clean lines and fresh, crisp rooms. I want my home to be open to possibilities.

wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change

For me, one of the first rooms that I want to spruce up this year is my living room. Aside from the kitchen, it’s the room on the first floor that gets the most activity. If the kitchen is the heart of our home, the living room has to be the brain. It’s the room we always use and the one that makes the first impression on our guests.

What does that mean? It means that I really want to get rid of the excess and brighten up the rooms. How am I going to do this? How can you do this? Simple.

  1. Start by getting rid of “stuff”. It’s just stuff and it just takes up space. Like the book says, if you hold it and it doesn’t bring you joy…chuck it. OK, so don’t throw it in the garbage, that’s wasteful but why not go donate it to your local homeless shelter. You’ll clean out your space while giving someone else something they need. It is win-win.
  2. My furniture is brown leather. It is beautiful and sturdy but it’s too dark. I want light colors and preferably something that doesn’t scratch up every time the dog jumps on it. She obviously thinks that she is human and it’s too late to teach her otherwise so the furniture needs to adapt. I don’t want to buy new furniture because this furniture was expensive and is still in very good shape. I’ve decided that slipcovers might be the perfect solution. They’ve come a long way since the things our parents used and they look beautiful.

wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change       3. So, I’ve cleaned off the clutter and ordered some beautiful, modern slipcovers but I need to brighten up the room. My house was built in 1977 so there is a lot of dark wood, paneling, shag carpet, and wallpaper. We’ve already ripped up all the floors and put down hardwoods throughout. Next step, paint those horrible brown wood built-ins white. Done and done.

wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change

4. We painted the paneling, yes I did say paneling, a soft butter color and removed the dark window treatments and replaced them with lightweight drapery to allow more sunlight into the room. We are however in the middle of changing the room to lighten it up even further and changing from the soft butter color to a silver on the walls.

wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change

5. To give the room a homier feel, I would suggest adding soft, bright throw pillows and an accent pouf to give the room some movement.

wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change    6. To add a touch of your own unique personality and make the room your own, I suggest adding some very personally styled art for the walls. Choose something that inspires you and makes you feel happy.

wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change

7. Last but not least, a great way to make the room feel modern yet cozy is to add a light colored throw rug; something in a white, neutral or light grey will do the trick.

wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change

And voila, we’ve gone from 70’s drab right into 2018 modern and chic with lots of bright sunlight. For a little extra coziness, I’m adding one of those super soft chunky yarn blankets.

wayfair, resolutions in decor, room makeover, How to Refresh a Room to Inspire Change

Now, if we can just keep those shelves clean.

What are you doing to your home that will keep you inspired to follow through on your New Year’s resolutions? Cleaned up your office? Installed mirrors in the workout room? Or maybe you organized your pantry to help keep you on a budget?

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toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

I don’t know about you but travel is a form of religion to me. Nope, I don’t think travel is my God but in a profound way, I feel closer to something bigger than myself when I’m experiencing the beauty and the wonder of the world, especially if there’s music playing loudly in the background. For example, when I am flying or on a boat in the ocean, I feel freer and smaller than I’ve ever felt before yet, at the same time I feel grounded and significant in my small part. Sometimes when you’re on the open road headed toward a destination, driving can feel almost like a holy experience. I know, it might sound weird to some of you but to others you completely understand.

There is just something about taking all of that beauty in and really comprehending the enormity that this planet is where we get to live, in all of its natural glory. I’ve always loved travel but it’s only been the last few years where I’ve really begun to appreciate the beauty of the different landscapes, people and cultures. I want to show my children the entire world and everything in it

Last month, I was loaned the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited in toasted walnut pearl. I mean, is there a more perfect color name for a car that you are driving around amongst the changing leaves? The 2017 new front fascia with an updated front grille and redesigned headlights make a bold first impression.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

I don’t know everything there is to know about the Toyota brand, as I have never owned one myself but I know what I like. I have friends and family members who will only buy Toyota because they hold up so well and last for so long. To me, that says something about the brand. The Highlander certainly exceeded any expectations I had.

I was pleasantly surprised by what it added to our travel experience. Not only is it a beautifully sophisticated piece of machinery, it is eco-friendly, which is something else that I tend to look for more as my fondness for the planet grows deeper.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

Traveling with my family is my favorite thing to do and we do a lot of that traveling on four wheels. We like the freedom to stop and explore along the way. So the little things matter, especially when you are in a car for 18-24 hours.

Here are some of my features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

  • Color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal lights and blind spot warning indicators and folding features. Safety, convenience and indulgence all rolled into one.
  • Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade and jam protection. This moonroof adds a level of sophistication and adventure.
  • Three-zone automatic climate control with air filter, separate second-row control panel, individual temperature settings for driver, front passenger and rear-seat passengers, and second- and third-row vents. This is perfect, especially for long road trips with children, tweens and/or teens. Everyone controls their own temperature, a little less complaining and distraction for the driver.
  • Integrated backup camera with dynamic gridlines. At this point, I am annoyed with any vehicle that doesn’t have backup cameras but the dynamic gridlines feature is perfect for new drivers learning to parallel park and just be safe in general.
  • SofTex®-trimmed 60/40 split, fold-flat third-row seat with sliding headrests and recline function. I know this sounds like an unnecessary luxury but believe me when you have tall passengers, stuck in a vehicle for long amounts of time the recline functions is definitely one that you will appreciate.
  • Blue LED ambient lighting on the interior of the front and rear doors and in-dash shelf. This sounds so unnecessary but I’m telling you, it’s one of those things you never knew that you always wanted. That little bit of ambient lighting makes all the difference when getting into your car at night.
  • Five total USB ports (three front and two second-row). Talk about convenience and luxury. There are 4 of us, we each have an iPhone and iPad and they need to be charged. No more fighting/bickering over whose turn it is to use the charger.
  • Second-row retractable window sunshades. If you have babies, this is a lifesaver on long trips. If you have children of any age sitting in the back seat trying to stay entertained with electronics or just not spend the drive with the migraine-inducing sun in their eyes, you too will love these window shades.
  • I love the safety features. I will have teen drivers in not too many years.
  • Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) — Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). My girls will be driving before I’d like to think about and I will feel a lot less anxious if I know they are driving in a vehicle that does its part help keep them safe.
  • More safety features we can all get behind. Star Safety System™ — includes Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB), Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology® (SST).
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) like backup cameras, how did we ever live without these features?
  • toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

**No husbands were harmed in the taking of this photo. He just has a morbid sense of humor and was in desperate need of a nap.

  • The storage space is huge. I was able to put my 6’5″ husband in the back. Not that you’d move a body in the Highlander but, the point is, you could if you needed to 😉
  • And, did I mention the mileage on the Highlander Hybrid? If I didn’t I definitely should have. I had the vehicle for 10 days and never had to fill it up. The mileage is out of this world compared to my Enclave.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travelI could go on for pages but these are just a few of my favorite features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited. All of these features help me to focus on what is important about family vacations, family and not let the small stuff like comfort, charging stations and gas mileage ruin the whole thing.

Travel really is an experience that transcends time and space, your mind needs to be free to wander without distraction and completely immerse in the people and places you visit. Traveling with my family, showing them the people and places of this planet, is having the very best of both worlds. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited makes the journey as fantastic as the destination.

What was your favorite family trip destination? How did you get there?

Disclosure: I was provided the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited to drive for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

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Beautiful Utility, Wayfair, home decor, utility, utility rugs

You know how they say the eyes are the doorway to the soul? Well, I think the foyer is the doorway to your home, literally and figuratively. The foyer is the welcoming space in my home. It’s where I greet family and new friends. It is where our visit begins. First impressions matter.

Beautiful Utility, Wayfair, home decor, utility, utility rugs

 

My foyer also happens to be a utility spot with shoes and coats. Every day when my girls come home from school, this is where they drop their backpacks, take off their shoes/coats and if we’re being really honest, they change clothes the minute they walk in the door. There is a lot of things happening in my foyer.

Beautiful Utility, Wayfair, home decor, utility, utility rugs

With all those layers dropping, shoes being kicked off and school children morphing into human beings in that foyer, I want it to be as inviting and welcoming as possible. I want the girls to walk in and be like, this.is.home. I want the warmth to radiate from inside the house and welcome every friend and family member that comes to my door.

My foyer is not huge but it is big enough to invite a neighbor in on a cold winter’s day to admire the snow and discuss the neighborhood decorations. It is just the right size for 6 excited ballerinas to be dropped off for a slumber party after day 14 of Nutcracker performances. It’s perfect for hugging family as they arrive for a celebration. It is the room where every good thing in our lives begins.

Beautiful Utility, Wayfair, home decor, utility, utility rugs

I wanted to keep it light and refreshing. We painted the foyer a light gray with white trim but it just didn’t have the personality that I wanted. I wanted it to be inviting but the space is very utilitarian, it had to be beautiful but functional so I decided on a utility rug. I chose the Brush Strokes design with watercolor peonies from Home Dynamix the ELLE Décor Collection. It is easy to wipe clean and sweep, perfect for a high traffic area like my foyer.

Beautiful Utility, Wayfair, home decor, utility, utility rugs

 

A rug is such a simple thing but it can change the entire mood of a room. It can take a room from just a room to a gathering space that welcomes people, invites them to be a part of your life.

 

What do you do to make your home feel warm and inviting? Do you have a special way of decorating that makes your home feel more cozy and homey?

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Felix Gray, glasses, non-prescription, blue light filter, eye strain

Have you ever heard of Felix Gray? I hadn’t either until they sent me a surprise in the mail. I spend most of my day staring at a blue screen. It’s what I do. I work online, it’s part of the job requirement. I love what I do but my eyes, not so much and they’ve begun to mutiny in the form of headaches and eye strain.

Did you know that one-third of Americans spend eight hours or more looking at screens? So it’s not surprising that 60% of us report symptoms of digital eye strain. Until now, eyewear designed to protect eyes from blue light were unfashionable and unattractive, resulting in low usage.

I know what you’re thinking, “Debi, you’re a grown woman with insurance and everything… go see the eye doctor!”

I’m way ahead of you, I went to the ophthalmologist. In fact, I made the whole family go. We got our eyes dilated and looked like those freaky stuffed animals and everything.

Nope, I’ve still got Superman like awesome vision. Yey me! However, what about the eye strain? There’s no option to not stare at a computer all day. I want to work. But I’m not crazy for the headaches and dry eyes.

Quick pro tip from my ophthalmologist: Every 30 minutes or so, look away from the screen.

So now, not only does the blue screen aid and abed my insomnia, it’s also playing tricks on my eyes.

I’m already losing my words from the sleep aids, I can’t afford the headaches, blurry vision and twitching so I had to find a solution. I found it.

My fellow bloggers, social media managers and just anyone who spends a huge chunk staring at their laptop, desktop, iPad or phone … so everyone I know, this might be the answer for you too.

Behold Felix Gray blue light filtering non-prescription glasses. They help reduce the eye strain, headaches and fatigue resulting from hours spent staring at screens, the glasses are the first computer eyewear created with fashion as well as function in mind. The frames are premium Italian acetate with lenses that eliminate the blue light that leads to eye fatigue and sleep issues. Not only do I get to look like a total hipster, I get to do my work without that pesky buggy eye side effect.

Felix Gray, glasses, non-prescription, blue light filter, eye strain

Felix Gray wants to change that, helping new generations of professionals to protect their eyes and improve performance at the same time. Users can just hop on the site and select a few of their favorite designs to try. In days, they get a custom package delivered to their door and let the fun of trying on begin, until you’ve found the best match for you. Then simply mail back the others.

Now if they could just create an office chair that burned calories while I sat working on my laptop. Or maybe pizza that makes me skinny?

Who knows with the wonders of modern technology, I can see it coming… one of these days.

For today, I’m pretty ecstatic to not have the eye strain while I do my dream job. For more information and to see all the cute styles Felix Gray offers, you can go to Felixgray.com

 

Felix Gray, glasses, non-prescription, blue light filter, eye strain

And for those of you who have recently found the need to use a larger font, no fear, Felix Gray offers magnification too.

Disclosure: I was provided product from Felix Gray to review but all opinions are my own.

 

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Gray Away, hair coloring, covering gray hair

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Everpro Gray Away. All of the thoughts and opinions are mine alone.

Do you have gray hair? I know, none of us like to talk about it. It’s embarrassing. The thing is graying hair is natural and for some genetics dictates when you’ll go gray and it can be before your dirty 30 celebrations. Gray hair does not discriminate.

I have several friends who’ve decided they were just going to let their hair go naturally into that gray night. Not me. I hate to admit it but I’m a little vain. And what’s wrong with caring about what you look like anyway? Nothing!

My husband’s hair is doing the salt and pepper thing and it looks good, to me. I think he looks distinguished. Of course, our daughters are begging him to dye it because they said it makes him look old. I say whatever makes him happy.

What makes me happy is not having gray hair. I got my first gray hair when I turned 30. In fact, I believe it was some cruel birthday gift that year. I promptly plucked it. Then, when we had Bella, I got another one. When we had Gabs, I got one more. I told the Big Guy, I had one for each of them. I could deal with that. Like battle scars, I wore them proudly. I ‘m just kidding, I plucked them every single time they came back.

Gray Away, hair coloring, covering gray hair

Then one day, the gray hairs decided it was time to have a party on my head. At first, it was a small gathering. I would pluck them. But now, it’s a full-out rave on my temples. And I don’t look distinguished at all but rather I look like Grandpa Munster and if I try to pluck all of these, I will surely be baldheaded. I know I can’t pull that look off plus….hello, vain!

I comb my hair so that you don’t really see it. Sure, it’s like a bad woman comb-over but it hides the grays. I’m keeping these grays on the down low. Have your rave but everybody doesn’t need to know about the gray party taking place on my head.

Then, I gave up and started coloring it but guess what? Grays come back really fast. It’s like they are color resistant.

So what did I do? Desperate times, desperate measures my friends. I started using my mascara on the temples. It does the trick. Only there is one problem. I have wavy/curly hair and after you style your hair and then try to mascara your temples so you actually don’t look as old as your Grandmother, you will quickly realize that the hair that you put mascara on dries hard and straight. So you have all of these straight black hair sticking out of your head and you look like you should probably be institutionalized and to be honest, I’m trying to fly under the radar to that end.

I knew there had to be something better. I mean, we live in the 21st century. We can alter our entire physical being. We can stop the aging process. You’re telling me we can’t hide a few grays? Come one, get outta here. My mama always said where there’s a will there is a way. I had to find a way.

I found Gray Away. I tried Everpro Gray Away Root Touch-Up Magnetic Powder but it also comes in a root concealer spray. But me and an aerosol can could get ugly so, I opted for the magnetic powder. Sounds simple right? Too simple. But it works. Watch!

 

Voila! That gray party is hidden in plain sight. They get to party on. I get to not look like Grandpa Munster and we all keep our cool.

Do you have issues keeping the gray hairs at bay? Are they making you look older than you are? Ready to get rid of them without spending all of your time and money at the salon? Want to know more? You can get the complete scoop at GrayAway.com  and Gray Away is available at your favorite retailers including Walgreens!

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Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Ever wonder what the secret to the best road trip with family really is? I see families doing it all the time and I’m like, “that’s never how our road trips go.” We’ve spent countless road trips being tortured with, “Are we there yet?” So much so that I think I may actually have some road trip PTSD to join my stepping off curbs variety. I just always suspected all those awesome families having amazing road trips must be either the really patient types ( I envy them) or maybe just well medicated. But I wanted whatever they were on because I loved the road trips of my childhood and I want that with my girls. I love the whole “expect the unexpected” sense of it all.

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the Best Vacation You Can Take Your Children On

A couple weeks ago, we went on one last summer road trip as a family. We just needed to go someplace to be one with nature and one another. You know what I mean. We needed to unplug and focus on what was really important before plunging headlong back into the craziness that is our day to day life. We decided to visit the Traverse City KOA in Michigan.

We’ve never been to Traverse City and the girls and I have never been camping but it’s something I’ve always wanted to try. Traverse City is about a 4.5-hour scenic drive from our house and there was a promise of quiet, stillness, sand dunes, waves and Lake Michigan for as far as the eye could see. Most importantly, it was going to be togetherness with no distractions.

READ ALSO: Places You must see and Do on San Diego Road Trip

The girls are 10 and 12-years-old now. Not to jinx it but I like them. They are becoming humans who I want to spend time engaging with, listening to and getting to know. So the only thing I had on my mind was getting to where we were going and enjoying the journey, company and the destination. I wanted to bask in every single moment of it.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Thanks to the generosity of KIA I was loaned a 2017 KIA Sorento for the journey. I’ve driven a Sorento before, a few years ago, on a press trip. But there is a big difference between driving a vehicle for a few hours and driving it for a few days on a trip trapped in the car with your family.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

It takes some time to really get to know a vehicle and be comfortable driving it on different terrains, at different speeds, in stop and go traffic, local traffic and on the highway. These all make a difference in the feel of the vehicle and let you experience how it handles. Sort of the way, taking a group of city folks into the wild and letting them camp for the first time does. Put it this way, we all learned a lot about ourselves doing new things in a new place that weekend.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

I’ll tell you about the camping trip in another post but I want to tell you about this vehicle. When I think of KIA, I think dependable and budget-friendly. I used to think of the perfect car for someone in their 20’s.

I love the brand and the brand’s mission. They really are working to make the world a better place with their hybrids and eco-friendly line but this 2017 Sorento SXL surprised me. It wasn’t what I expected.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Firstly, the Sorento is not only gorgeous, it rides like a luxury line vehicle not what I expected for this price point. Talk about getting a bang for your buck and being pleasantly surprised. Currently, we own an Enclave and a Cadillac SRX. We love both cars but the 2017 Sorento had the luxurious drive feel of the Cadillac at a much lower price point, about half even less if you didn’t get the SXL. It also had better gas mileage than both of our current SUVs. We do a lot of driving around town with our girls and all the activities they are in so gas mileage is important to us.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

The Sorento has too many bells and whistles to mention all of them but some of my favorites were the reclining second-row seats, perfect for road trips and tired tweens. I’m all about convenience and comfort. We’re tall people, well they all are, and they need lots of leg room. There was plenty in the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Speaking of the tweens, they loved the panoramic sunroof and power shade and the integrated 2nd-row window sunshades. This is perfect to keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes or for the tween trying to sleep or shoot a Music.ly without being washed out on film. Either way, it beats the heck out of those shades we used to buy at the baby stores to keep the sun out of their eyes. It was super convenient and seamless, not obtrusive and ugly.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

I, personally, loved the power-folding outside mirrors, windshield De-Icer, heated and cooled front seats, smart key immobilizer and adjustable height smart power liftgate. My husband is 6’5” so he needs super-sized everything and not banging his head on the liftgate is a definite bonus. He fell in love with the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Did I mention the UVO eservices with navigation, 8” color touch screen display, SiriusXM traffic, HD radio, Android Auto and Apple Car Play? All pouring into the car via the Infinity 10-speaker audio w/Clari-Fi External Amplifier and subwoofer. We are huge music people and a road trip is just not a road trip without music. I mean, seriously, you need your Despacito to be loud so you can all sing along but be able to hear it so crisp and clear that it feels like you’re at the concert, was the icing on the cake.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Now, on top of all of this, the 2017 Sorento SXL has everything I’d want in a car for my girls who are approaching the driving age faster than I’d like to admit. So in addition to being sleek, sexy and beautiful, having a ride like you’re in your Lazy-boy at home and every convenience, you could ever possibly dream of it is safe because KIA is all about family.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

The 2017 Sorento has a rear-camera display, rear parking assist system, surround view monitor, blind-spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, autonomous emergency braking and steering wheel mounted audio, hands-free phone and cruise control so no searching around and not paying attention. For me, this makes the Sorento the perfect vehicle for everyone in my family.

READ ALSO: Best Things to do in Boston with Teens and Tweens

From the mom with the precious cargo on board to the family with tweens in the back seat as your road trip across America to the new teen driver who you send out into the world on their own; there’s no car I’d feel safer doing so in than the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travelI can honestly say that driving the 2017 KIA Sorento SXL on our road trip made the journey as amazing as the destination, and the destination was pretty damn amazing.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Disclosure: I was provided the KIA Sorento to drive on our road trip but all opinions about this vehicle are my own and those of my family. We loved it and that’s the secret to the best road trip ever.

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Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with CLEAN & CLEAR and #WeAllGrow Latina Network but all opinions about how to make back-to-school easier for your tween/teen are all my own.

Back-to-school is difficult for parents and kids alike. However, for tweens and teens it’s especially hard. They go away for the summer looking one way and chances are they come back looking completely different. Crazy things happen to their bodies and their faces when all those hormones are surging through their bodies.

They leave school in the spring looking like a kid and return in the fall with a growth spurt, a voice that’s changing, a body that is metamorphosing so much that not even they recognize themselves in the mirror and probably some skin issues. It’s a crazy time of year for so many reasons.

As we prepare to go back to school and get back into our routines, there is a lot of stress. Not just the regular back to school shopping for clothes and supplies but when your child is a tween/teen you have to include shopping to address your child’s skin concerns.

My daughter is 12-years-old and she is changing so fast that I hardly recognize her from one day to the next. That is no exaggeration. Growing from a child into a young lady is hard work. There are so many things going on inside and out that I want to make this time of transition as smooth and easy as possible so I try to help her navigate this time of her life with the least amount of stress and confusion.

Her skin has begun to suffer the effects of the hormonal changes. I don’t think it’s fair that she has to deal with acne on top of all the other changes so I started teaching her how to take care of her skin when she was about 10-years-old, the same age that her little sister is now.

We’ve tried all sorts of different regimens but nothing seems to work. She doesn’t have bad skin per se but she is getting a few small pimples. She’s an athlete; a dancer who performs 6 days a week. Part of dancing is dressing the part and that includes stage makeup which is terrible for her skin. She’s been having breakouts and she is not loving it at all.

 

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

 

Recently, we started using Clean and Clear Morning Burst Facial Cleanser, Deep Action Scrub and Deep Action 60 sec shower mask. They are easy to use and the simple to follow instructions make it easy for my tween to stick to her skin cleansing routine.

 

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

The CLEAN & CLEAR® Morning Burst® Facial is a unique gel cleanser specifically formulated with effective cleansers and vitamin-enriched BURSTING BEADS® to awaken skin. Cleansers gently remove dirt, oil, and impurities, while BURSTING BEADS® with vitamins gently dissolve as you lather to help revive and awaken skin’s look.

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

Steps for Using product

  • Start with clean hands.
  • Use those clean hands to splash water on your face.
  • Squeeze a small amount of cleanser onto wet palms – a dime-size should do it.
  • Work into a lather. Place the now foamy cleanser onto your face and use your fingertips to gently swirl it around…circles, figure eights…that type of thing.
  • Feel the BURSTING BEADS® start to break apart. Oooh…
  • Rinse your face thoroughly then pat it dry with a towel.

 

CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action 60 Second Shower Face Mask is designed to work with the steam of your shower to deeply, but gently exfoliate away traces of dirt, oil and dead skin that can clog pores. You’ll be able to feel the deep clean as the tingling sensation builds, and in just 60 seconds, your skin will look brighter, healthy, and feel refreshed!

Directions: Wet your face then squeeze out a quarter-sized amount of the mask onto your palms.

  • Apply to mask evenly all over your face.
  • Now the important part: Let the mask sit on your face for 60 seconds… feel free to multi-task during this time.
  • After the quick 60 seconds is up, gently massage your whole face as you rinse thoroughly off.
  • If you get some in your eyes, no need to panic, just rinse your peepers with water.
  • Use 2-3 times per week alone or right after your favorite cleanser

CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub is designed to invigorate skin by cleansing pores deep down and gently exfoliating surface skin. The CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub provides a tingly, cooling sensation as you gently massage the scrub on skin — the unmistakable, revitalizing feeling of a deep cleansing action.

Directions:

Wet face. Gently massage all over face, avoiding eye area. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Good for daily use.

How do you make back-to-school easier for your tween/teen?

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