air fryer, air fryer recipes, best air fryer, how does an air fryer work

Are you looking for a way to improve your health? Was one of your New Year’s resolutions a new you? Want to lose weight but don’t want to give up some of your favorite foods? Ever considered buying an air fryer? Then wonder to yourself, how does an air fryer work? What’s the best air fryer? Looking for all the best air fryer recipes? Well, you are not alone sister.

I’d been on the fence about getting one for a long time. I had no idea how it worked or which one was the best? BTW, how the heck do you fry with air? Is that even possible? More importantly, why would you want to? What kind of witchery is an air fryer?

Then one day on a complete impulse buy between drop off and pick up at ballet, I found myself looking squarely in the direction of an air fryer and something compelled me to buy the dang thing. With no idea what to do with it and absolutely void of any Pinterest research on air fryer recipes, I did it. I bought the damn thing.

In my gut, I assumed it would end up in the back cabinet with all my other expensive cooking impulse buys; the pasta maker, the ice cream makers and the panini press keeping the Belgian waffle maker company. But, we all know how much I love French fries. For me the worst part about fried foods (aside from the health risks) is the guilt so why not go the healthy route, especially if the air fryer recipes make the food tastes as good as their fried counterpart and, as hard to believe as it is, they do!

READ ALSO: Avgolemono Greek Lemon Chicken Soup Recipe

An air fryer is a game changer! For most of my adult life I’ve been teetering between baking everything and totally chucking my diet and eating all the McDonald’s French fries. But then we got the air fryer and we’ve made things like French fries, onion rings, fish fillets, chicken tenders and French toast sticks and it tastes great, crispy and has that crunch that I’ve been missing in my life all these years. Hard to believe, right?

Why Invest in an Air Fryer?

Well, you know the difference between frozen waffles and homemade ones or a cold cut sandwich and one on the panini press? That’s the difference. Who would believe that such a subtle difference can have such a flavorful impact? Who’d think that something as simple as a golden brown crunch can make all the difference?

Compared with deep-frying, air frying significantly reduces calorie intake. It can help reduce caloric intake by up to 70-80 percent.

Air fryers are time-efficient. You can actually bake a chicken breast faster in an air fryer than you can in the oven. Just imagine crispy fried chicken without all the grease. If you have picky eaters, you can make crispy veggies as snacks.

READ ALSO: Simple, Easy and Delicious Avocado Toast Recipe

One perk for me, because I hate the smell of fried foods in my house, air frying eliminates that odor.

Just because you are not using oil, you can still burn your food. The air fryer heats up really fast and it’s easy to burn yourself and char your food, so pay attention to time, as charred food is carcinogenic.

Bonus: Easy Clean Up

How does an Air Fryer work?

It uses hot-air circulation. The air fryer cooks your ingredients from all angles- with no oil needed. Compared to deep-frying, using an air fryer can reduce the amount of fat, calories and potentially harmful compounds in your food

air fryer, air fryer recipes, best air fryer, how does an air fryer work

Air Fryer Sriracha-Honey Chicken Wings via

Best Air Fryer Recipes?

Any foods that are good when fried like potatoes and chicken cook amazingly in the air fryer. Sweet potato fries are a favorite of ours. Also, fish and chips come out lovely and delicious in the air fryer.

Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp and Apricot Sauce

Avocado Fries

Copy Cat Chik Fil A Sandwich

Mexican Street Corn/ Elote

 Air Fryer Donuts

 Air Fryer Sriracha-Honey Chicken Wings

 Air Fryer Fried Nashville Chicken

Easy Air Fryer Crispy French Fries

The possibilities are endless. Are you considering buying one now? Understand how the air fryer works? Have you tried a few of the best AF recipes out there?

I’m addicted to our Air Fryer and everything I can make with it.

I’m doing this new year, new me thing slowly. This is one of my favorite things to help make healthier foods crispier. This is NOT a paid campaign. I am just really addicted to my air fryer and moms of little kids or kids on the go who need snacks after school, chicken tenders, sweet potato fries, even crispy Brussels sprouts, and grilled cheese sandwiches can be made deliciously and with less fat in a matter of minutes.

I’m looking for new things to cook in my air fryer. What’s your favorite air fryer recipe? Please share a link in the comments.


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weight loss, Getting Healthy is Nothing a Little Blood, Sweat and Tears Can't Fix, SWEAT app, weight loss tech, weight loss wednesdays

If you read my post yesterday, you know that I have had a change of perspective. A way of thinking shift. A come to Jesus meting with myself, if you will. And the truth hit me like a throat punch, getting healthy is nothing a little blood, Sweat app and tears can’t fix. Weight loss is an investment in your future. 

I no longer believe in “try” only “do.” I’ve been telling the girls for years that we cannot control how people react to us or what we do, we can only control how we behave and what we put into the world and so now, I’m focusing on what I’m doing. I’m taking a more active role in my own life. Sounds stupid right? Shouldn’t I have been doing this all along? I should have but I’ve spent the past 13 years taking a more active role in my daughters lives, and lets be honest, before than 20 years putting my husband first.

READ ALSO: Bringing the Feisty Broad Back

I’ve made a conscious decision to look at the world more positively. In that spirit, I am choosing to see the good in other and in myself. I deserve to be happy and I have the power to make it happen. Only I can do this.

It’s pretty liberating because when you choose to be positive, it lightens your load and enables you to stop worrying and start focusing on the people and things that matter. I know that I want to make friends, family and myself a priority in my own life ( something that I have neglected for literally years). I met with some friends on New Years eve and it reminded me of something that I’d forgotten, friends fill up your soul. We need to make time for them. They are not an option.

Another thing I really want to focus on is better spending habits. I have a terrible habit of spending when I am stressed. I really do use retail therapy to make myself feel better ( at least until I get my credit card bills) and that has to stop. I want to learn to live within my means and that is not a bad thing. It’s nothing to be embarrassed or feel bad about.

I also want to waste less and live with more purpose and intention. Patience is a virtue that I am trying to embrace and minimalism is a way of life that I’d like to learn to live. For me, chaos in my home breeds chaos in my mind, in my heart and in my soul. I don’t want chaos. For once in my life, my manic mind is willfully choosing focus and less “stuff.”

READ ALSO: How to Conquer to Succeed

But the thing I want to really focus on this year is my health. Nope, I’m not talking about getting skinny. I’ve been there and I’ve done that. I did it the wrong way for many years and it backfired on me. Big Time. So if you know anyone thinking of doing it the wrong way, warn them, it doesn’t work in the long run. You end up one of two ways, either you stop abusing your body and your metabolism mutinies on you or you get to be a really tiny corpse. I chose the former.

For many years, getting healthy equated to being skinny but thats not what I think anymore. I think healthy is my knees not popping, my ankle not hurting, not getting winded riding a bike too fast, not being diabetic, not having high cholesterol or high blood pressure. I just want to get back to normal and be able to buy my clothes off the rack and have them look great on me.  I want to be able to go for long walks with my girls and talk about everything. I want to walk under the starts with my husband on a beach somewhere without it taking forever and leaving me exhausted. I don’t ever want to wear Spanx again. I want endorphin highs back in my life.

The problem is that even though I know how to be healthy, I don’t really. I’ve read the books but I can never translate it into a functioning part of my life. I’m not a fan of deprivation but I’m cool with moderation but I need to be conscious of portion sizes. Also, I love to work out but I never make time for it. I have to make time for it. And since I am embracing doing and not trying, I’m doing it.

READ ALSO: The Burden of Being a Fat Woman

My fellow blogger and someone who inspires me every day, Ana-Marie Klizs of Bluebird Kisses, has had her own weight loss journey to get healthy and she has done it all with adjusting her diet to a healthier version and by using the SWEAT App.  I’ve been laid up for about 8 weeks from the surgery that I had in November and I was just released from the physical restrictions yesterday so I’ve been waiting for that day to get active again. Following along on Ana’s blog and Instagram has kept me inspired. She is an amazing human being and if you’re not already following her, you should be. She lit a fire in my soul and gave me the confidence to know I could do it. So, I’m doing it with he help of SWEAT app.

For now, I am starting off with walking ( per doctors orders) and in a couple weeks I want to start a more organized workout program program. The SWEAT app  is at the top of my list so I wanted to share the app with you all in case you are looking for a way to start.

Train Your Way

SWEAT recognizes that women want flexibility, variety and support when working towards health and fitness goals.

We understand that your goals are personal and always evolving so we put the choice in your hands! Offering flexibility and variety through multiple styles of training, SWEAT connects you with the best female personal trainers in the world. Choose the trainer and training style that fits you and your lifestyle! Whether you take your first step with yoga, post-pregnancy workouts, weight training, power-training or high-intensity workouts, SWEAT is right here to support you. We are always adding new workouts and exciting features to ensure you find your fit!

Join the SWEAT Community and set off on your fitness journey!

Start Your Fitness Journey At Home

With various options, there is something for everyone.They offer BBG (Bikini Body Guide), BBG Stronger, PWR ( weight Training), Post-Pregnancy, BAM (Yoga), Fierce (varied workouts) and Build (Power building).

Kayla Itsines – Bikini Body Guide (BBG)

Changing the way women around the world exercise, Kayla Itsines’ 28-minute BBG workoutscan be done at home with or without equipment. (Perfect for me!)

Start your fitness journey with Kayla and feel your body become stronger each week as you progress. With each workout, Kayla helps to encourage and educate you to take charge of your health and fitness. Use the planner to schedule your workouts for the week, including your HIIT and LISS sessions, resistance, rest and recovery.

The high-intensity BBG workouts are designed to build your strength, fitness and bikini body confidence!

Track your progress and plan your workouts!

SWEAT encourages you to get stronger week by week! You progress gradually, increasing the intensity in each workout. When you’re ready to take on fresh challenges and step up your workouts, SWEAT has you covered.

Weekly meal plans and shopping lists!

Plan your meals for the week with ease using SWEAT! All our recipes have been designed to help you achieve your health and fitness goals while enjoying delicious and convenient meals. Select meal plans to suit your dietary preference and find hundreds of recipes to match. Food shopping is a breeze with the automated lists, so you’ll always have something healthy to eat!

Journey With Like-Minded Women

We know how important it is to feel supported throughout your fitness journey.

The SWEAT forum is the perfect place to connect with women who are focused on their health and fitness. It’s a place where you can share your experiences and aspirations, as well as encourage and motivate each other.

We’ve long understood how important it is to feel supported in your workout program. Through your connections with like-minded women around the world, together you can build confidence, power, balance, performance and courage to reach your fitness goals.

To connect, motivate and share experiences with other women, join the community for FREE today.

Full disclosure: I’ve tried many other fitness programs with limited success. But I don’t think it was them…it was me. I need a program that allows me to eat real food and exercise when I can without involving a lot of expensive equipment or health club fees. I need guidance and fellowship. I need support.

I’ve done all of it. I’ve been anorexic and bulimic. I’ve worked out 3 hours a day. I’ve had a personal trainer.  I ran ( I don’t like it). I’ve done Weight Watchers. I’ve done Nutrisystem. I’ve had the BeachBody channel. I’ve done Zumba. I’ve done Cize (my favorite) and several other Beach Body workouts. I’ve juiced (not for the manic prone). I’ve tried all the tech. I’ve even tried Medical weight loss programs but meds are not the way for me. They cause their own issues. They’ve all worked but none of them got me to the finish line. Well, anorexia did (if the finish line is being 103 lbs at 5’7.5″) but it almost got me to the ultimate finish line so we’re never going down that road again.

This is where I am today. Enthusiastic and out of shape. I’m hoping the SWEAT app is the beginning of a new way of life. Not a diet. I never want to diet again. I want to learn to be healthy. So, I’m going to start a new instagram page if you want to follow along with my progress and I will be posting updates, recipes, tips and inspiration to get us all through this on Wednesdays. If you’re still here ( after this very long post) I hope you’ll stop by on Wednesdays for some encouragement and to share your own journey with me.

Have you tried the SWEAT app? What are your thoughts.  Me?

Getting Healthy is Nothing a Little Blood, SWEAT and Tears Can’t Fix

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5 steps for self reset break, meditation, introspection, self-care

As many of you know, I had surgery last week. It’s left me in a recovery state so I have invited a few of my favorite writers to write a guest post here. I think it’s a wonderful way for me to introduce you to some awesome writers. Today’s guest writer is my dear friend, Kelly Pugliano of Eatpicks and owner of amazing subscription box company RoosteCrate. She’s written something we all need to read, 5 Tips for a Self-Reset Break.

It is so important to give yourself a do-over every once in a while and I’m going to share 5 tips for a self-reset break. It’s like a self-imposed “easy” button, only better.

Life can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming with all the to-do lists and responsibilities that go into making days churn along. Ever feel like some days feel more productive than others despite having the same number of hours? I know one day is never the same as the one before and think it has a lot to do with the self-imposed expectations that it ALL has to get done- and now!

READ ALSO: I’m no Beauty Queen, I’m Just Me

When I start to feel that way, I give myself the permission to have a moment to “reset.” It helps me to feel less overwhelmed. I try to incorporate as many mini-breaks as needed and they really do make a difference.

When you feel like you’re on the never-ending hamster wheel, then incorporate these 5 tips for a self-reset break.


I started this process over the summer and it has done wonders. Every morning I light a candle, find a quiet spot to sit and set a timer for 10 minutes. Deep breathing, or “belly breathing” is hard to practice, but once you get it, it is really relaxing. This practice can be done in the morning but is not limited to that time of day. If it works better for you at lunch or in the evening, then, by all means, fit it into where it works best for you.

Take a Walk

If feeling frustrated or stuck with a task, sometimes taking a walk break is all you need to get back in control. Take a walk around the block or even to the mailbox to get the blood flowing and stretch. Walking is great for fitness, but also allows you to clear your thoughts; it’s a win-win!

Change Location

As a person who works from home, being in the same spot day after day can be stifling.  If having writers block or finding that you are surfing social media for hours, try changing your location. Find a quiet spot in another room or sit on the floor near a sunny window, even if it’s only for a short while, it can do wonders for productivity to have a change in your surroundings.

Call a Friend

 Have a lot on your mind or need to get some things off your chest? Call a friend who is a great listener. It will feel so good to share your woes with a friend and have the time to connect with another person, laugh and visit. Sometimes hearing someone’s voice is all you need to help lift your spirits.

Enjoy a Glass of Water, Coffee or Tea

Feeling tired and in a slump can indicate dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Love coffee or tea? Take a few minutes to really enjoy your cup of warmth while it is still hot. Close the computer and allow your eyes to rest. 10-15 minutes and you will feel refreshed to get back to your to-do list.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my 13-Year-Old Self

These 10 minutes to hour tips don’t need to be complicated, just effective. It really is a self-guided way to take a moment to stop, re-group, and start again. Whatever you need to be able to take a moment to reset so that you can feel accomplished by days end!

What do you do to take a self-reset break?

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WH-1000XM, best buy, noise canceling headphones

Disclosure: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation from all the craziness surrounding you? Sometimes things are just a bit much and an escape is just what you need.

As a mom, I love doing all the mom things but sometimes quiet is more than a luxury, it is a necessity. I remember the days when I had control of the music in the car, in the house and in my world.

Music has always been a big part of my life. I come from musicians on my dad’s side. I need music like I need air. I need the soundtrack of my life playing loud and audibly enough for me to be able to hear it. Sometimes that soundtrack is what gets me through the day.

Music can lift your mood, elevate your spirit and take you away, deeper and more completely into a moment. Some songs can move you to cathartic tears of sadness and others to tears of joy. Music is a way that you can express every single emotion that you feel and we all need that release.

Like I said, I’m a mom. My time, my day, my life and certainly my music are not always mine these days. I share it with the people I love and sometimes that means relenting.

There is a way to have both; your music, your family and the occasional moment of much-needed silence. Sony’s new industry-leading noise canceling WH-1000XM3 headphones has evolved to further immerse you in your music with a proprietary noise cancellation processor, quick charge capabilities, and an updated comfortable design.

You can listen all day with up to 30 hours of battery life and quick charging gives you 5 hours of playback with just a quick 10-minute charge. I wish my phone could do that.

Sony’s proprietary HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1 brings WH-1000XM3 to the pinnacle of noise cancellation. Instantly, you will be able to shut out the world for a moment’s peace and much deserved quiet.

The 40mm drivers with Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) diaphragms are Hi-Res Audio compatible, reproducing a full range of frequencies.

The WH-1000XM3 headphones also provide smart listening via adaptive sound control which automatically detects your activity and balances noise canceling levels accordingly. Now, that is smart listening.

What would be your favorite WH-1000XM3 noise canceling headphones escape destination? Favorite song? Or just enjoying the silence?

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Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign and I was hosted by Google and #WeAllGrow Latina Network to experience the Be Internet Awesome / Se Genial en Internet program and get pointers on how to stay safe online firsthand but all opinions are my own.

Trying to teach your kids to be internet awesome and stay safe online? Are you amazed by how tech savvy and online in tune your children are? I am. I didn’t use the Internet until the late 90’s when I was in college. In fact, the word processor (for you people too young to remember it was a really fancy, digital typewriter) that I owned had to be pried from my hands and I went kicking and screaming. My then tech-savvy boyfriend, now husband of 20 years, chided me for holding on to such an antiquated and outdated piece of machinery. Hey, it did the job of typing up my college papers and that was all I needed. Or was it?

I mean, I had no idea the scope of what the Internet could be. I definitely had no idea how to be internet awesome or safe. The internet was all new when I was in college. I existed before social media and the internet. Nobody was Googling me before an interview.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kidsGoogle, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

Now, I could not survive without being able to Google everything. Like what actor played in that movie that we saw last week who played in that other movie? You know the one. Or being able to Google the passage in the Lord of the Flies that reminds me of that other book? You know the one. Or what was the name of that restaurant that we ate at in the little city when we took our road trip that one year? The one with the weird foods but the really cool assortment of craft beers.

I Google everything and everyone. Google everyone, how scary is that? Most people Google you now before they even meet you. Our children live in a time where very little is private, most relationships begin online and they are slowly forgetting how to interact face to face. The thing is while I am wowed by evolution, I sometimes feel like maybe we’ve gone socially backward while thrusting ourselves technologically forward. This is what scares me.

READ ALSO: Protecting Your Privacy Online

I know to be wary. I went to college before social media. And while I live and thrive in social media now, I am forever grateful that it did not exist when I was a teenager. I did enough ridiculous things that I wish I could forget. Things I would never want to be living forever on the Internet. When I think of what could have ended up online, I cringe. This makes me really want to protect my children from the Internet and themselves. But how do I do it?

How do I teach my kids to be internet awesome and stay safe online?

Yes, there are many ways to put parental restrictions on the Internet and you can try to limit your child’s exposure but the fact of the matter is that you can’t keep them in that internet bubble forever. The best thing that we can do for our children is to teach them to use the internet responsibly. We won’t be there forever so we need to teach them to make good choices. Respect themselves. Respect others and to have a healthy distrust in people that they have never met in person because a person behind a screen can pretend to be anyone and people aren’t always who they pretend to be online, or in person for that matter. It’s basically like teaching them about sex, drugs and alcohol. The internet can be an amazing place but it can also be that dangerous in the hands of unsuspecting, naive children.

When our children are young, we do our best to help them get the most out of the internet while protecting them from the risks and downsides of the online world. As children mature into the tween and teen years, our roles shift from helping them learn to make their own safe and thoughtful decisions as they begin to navigate their digital lives.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

Google believes in partnering with teachers and parents to prepare students to be internet awesome:

Think critically and evaluate websites, email and other content online.

Protect themselves from online threats, including bullying and scams.

Get smart about sharing: what, when, how, and with whom.

Be kind and respectful toward other people online, including respecting their privacy.

Ask for help with tricky situation from a parent or other trusted adult.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

To aid parents in this new milestone, this year, Google has developed a multifaceted program, Be Internet Awesome/ Se Genial En Internet designed to teach kids the skills they need to be safe and smart online. This FREE digital citizenship and online safety program are available to everyone.

READ ALSO: Cyber Fan or Cyberstalker and how to know the difference

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

One of the resources, Interland, is a browser-based game that makes learning these skills interactive and fun – just like the Internet itself. Developed by Google in partnership with educators, researchers, and online-safety experts at, Be Internet Awesome/ Se Genial En Internet provides fun, age-appropriate learning experiences built around five foundational lessons:

  • Share with Care | Online Reputation
  • Donʼt Fall for Fake | Phishing & Scams
  • Secure Your Secrets | Privacy & Security
  • Itʼs Cool to Be Kind | Online Harassment
  • When in Doubt, Talk It Out | Inappropriate Content

Smart, safe technology usage can enable students to help drive their own learning and help schools function better. It is a definite step toward ensuring that all students learning, exploring, and staying safe online, inside and outside school walls.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

Last week, I saw the program in action at an event hosted by Google for students and their parents at Gallistel Language Academy in Chicago. It was moving to see all these parents show up for their children on a weekday, in the middle of the day. They know that it’s important that we teach our kids to be safe online because we can’t watch them every minute of every day.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

The event was packed with eager children and willing parents, experiencing the Be Internet Awesome program; playing Interland and learning valuable lessons about the digital world. Google had plenty of staff on site to walk families through the program. The kids even received a certificate once they completed Interland and were certified to be internet awesome. It was a great learning experience and I loved seeing how proud the families were of their children.

But Be Internet Awesome/ Se Genial en Internet is not just for those who could attend the event, you can teach your own children to be internet awesome by visiting the Be internet awesome website and letting your kids learn how to navigate their digital lives safely.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

What’s the most important thing you think your child needs to know to be internet safe? Does your child know how to be awesome online / se genial en internet and stay safe online? Are you sure?

How do you teach your kids to be internet awesome/ se genial en internet and stay safe online?

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Camping 101 Everything You Need for an Amazing Camping Trip

Disclosure: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card but all opinions about camping and the Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST and BLAST portable speakers are my own.

Family travel is our life. There is nothing that we love more than the four of us jumping in a plane, train, automobile, boat and in this case, an RV and going on an adventure. Yes, today we go on our first ever RV trip and we are ecstatic.

Last year, we went on our first ever camping trip. Though it was more like glamping because we stayed in a parked model, which is basically a beautiful cabin with all the amenities of home sweet home. Seriously, there was air conditioning, television, a full-size bathtub, stove top, microwave and full sized refrigerator. We even had a pergola and a deck with a built-in fire pit just outside our door. It was glorious and, for a first camping trip, I’m pretty sure we were spoiled rotten.

We spent our nights roasting s’mores and playing games and our days exploring Traverse City, Michigan; taking in the sights and soaking in the sun and playing on as many of Traverse City’s beaches as we could get to. It was unforgettable and it made me a convert from a strictly 5-star resort girl to a camping enthusiast. There is just something about being outside alone with your thoughts and your family that does the heart good.

Now, if you’ve never been camping you may not know what you should bring. Really, every person needs different things but there are a few things that I think every single person should bring to have the best camping experience possible. Here is my list.

Many campgrounds have a small store on the premises with some of the basic supplies in case you forget something and you will have to buy wood for campfires where you camp because it is illegal to transport campfire wood across state lines. Some campgrounds even have cafes, ice cream shops and souvenir shops

Basic Grocery list:

Cereal / Milk

Eggs / bread / bacon

Sandwich meats / chips

Steaks / chicken / hot dogs / hamburgers – anything you want to grill

Ketchup / mustard / butter / salt / pepper / spices

Any veggies or salads you’ll want with your barbeque – or shop at local farm stands for really fresh, local ingredients. This is our preference.

Sodas / beer / wine / bottled water


Coffee / tea/ cream / sugar

Charcoal (or you can buy it at the campground store)

Chocolate bars, marshmallows, graham crackers, long skewers for s’mores, because let’s be honest, you’re not camping until you’re eating s’mores fresh off a bonfire; bonus points if it’s on a beach.

What else to bring:

Soap, shampoo, toiletries

Bug spray, sunscreen

Music / iPod and wireless speakers

Cell phone and charger

Camera / video recorder and charger or fresh batteries

Portable grill – not all campgrounds include them. Luckily, we double checked this year because we had just set our portable grill out to the curb!

Spatula or tongs for grill

Pots, pans, pots, mixing bowls

Paper towels / foil / plastic wrap / paper plates / napkins / plastic ware

Toilet paper

Wet wipes

Garbage bags

Dish detergent / dish towel

Matches / lighter for grill

Bottle and wine opener / can opener

First aid supplies

Flashlight / battery operated lantern

Folding chairs and picnic blanket

Games / cards / puzzles


Pillows, sheets, blankets / sleeping bags are great if you have them!

Bath and beach towels

One of the most important things for my family is the wireless speaker.  We love music. The new features of the Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST and BLAST portable speakers make them the perfect summer accessory.

Features of MegaBlast:

Ultimate Ears most powerful speaker with stunning clarity and deep, heart-pounding bass, brings music to life. Absolutely perfect for sitting around the campfire with friends or a day at the beach.

Taking camping to the next level, Mega Blast hands-free Amazon Alexa built-in lets you have more time to enjoy your summer. Ask Alexa to blast tunes, discover new music, crank the volume and find new restaurants.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capable

Wi-Fi connection range for the speaker is 330′. Bluetooth range is 150ft.

Rechargeable battery

Enjoy up to 16 hours with a large built-in battery. Play and charge the speaker simultaneously using the optional cradle or included wall charger. You can sit around that bonfire way into the night.

Features of the Ultimate Ears Blast:

Blasting 360° intensely rich sound with stunning clarity and deep, heart-pounding bass, brings music to life. You will never forget these summer nights camping with friends.

Water-resistant and dustproof design. The IP67 rated speaker can be immersed in liquid up to 1m for up to 30 minutes. No worries if there’s an unexpected downpour.

Two 35mm active drivers alongside with two 81mm x 39mm passive radiators provide crisp and clear sound.

Multiple microphones with beamforming technology and noise cancellation enable a smooth far-field voice recognition and control experience. And that’s not all.


A better way to listen with Spotify Connect (coming soon): MEGABLAST and BLAST will be the first Ultimate Ears speakers to integrate Spotify Connect. When on Wi-Fi, open the Spotify app on your phone and play music directly to our speakers (under “Devices Available”) without the need to pair through Bluetooth. Music fans can also stream the highest quality sound possible from Spotify. With Spotify Connect, text message or make calls without interrupting the music and save your phone’s battery.

New grouping experience for smart speakers (coming soon): You can group up to eight MEGABLAST and BLAST speakers on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Stereo mode is supported when you connect two MEGABLAST or BLAST speakers. Optimized to take advantage of the speakers’ built-in Wi-Fi capability, you will experience greater range for grouped speakers and improved connection reliability. Grouping is expected to be available later this year.

What do you think is the most important thing to take with you on a camping trip?

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HP Envy x360 Laptop, back to school, tech, best buy, back to school supplies

Disclosure: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card but all opinions about back to school shopping and the HP Envy x360 Laptop.

Can you believe it’s almost time for back-to-school already? Here, we have less than 2 weeks left to soak up the last bits of summer. However, thanks to the back-to-school supply list in hand, I’ve painfully aware that school is happening sooner than later. Enter the HP Envy x360 Laptop.

The thing is every year we’re provided with this basic list of things our children need and then we use our best judgment and our budget to decide what we do with that list. For example, if it says 20 pencils, do you buy 20 generic #2 pencils or do you let your child express themselves by picking out 20 pencils with designs of their choosing? It’s these little touches that change everything.

Our family is pretty tech savvy. The Big Guy works in IT and I live in tech. These things trickle down. The girls have been surrounded by the latest high tech gadgets their entire lives. We limit their usage but they have high expectations so our tech can’t be basic. It needs to be better than that.

READ ALSO: Must-Have Gadgets for Tech Savvy Parents

As the girls get older, their tech needs to have more capabilities. Being the children of tech-savvy parents, they’ve got different standards. My girls do more than just play games and do homework on their laptops.

They’re into coding and building. The girls have a blog, YouTube channel and other social channels. These kids are trying to build a brand. That means editing videos and photos. Yes, they do still play games and watch Netflix on their laptops too. On top of all of this, they are still children so I need a laptop that is durable and capable of being a good fit for the user.

HP Envy x360 Laptop, back to school, tech, best buy, back to school supplies

I’ve been considering upgrading my 13-year-old’s laptop, a back to school contender is the HP Envy x360 Laptop.

Here are some of the features and customer benefits of the HP Envy x360 Laptops

Windows 10 operating system

Windows 10 brings back the Start Menu from Windows 7 and introduces new features, like the Edge Web browser that lets you markup Web pages on your screen. This is a great feature for taking notes when reading or studying for exams.

HP Envy x360 Laptop, back to school, tech, best buy, back to school supplies

Built for Windows Ink

Quickly jot down notes and ideas with ease. My daughters are very much like me in that they get ideas and they need to jot them down immediately before they forget. When inspiration strikes you will always be ready.

Full HD touchscreen

The 1920 x 1080 resolution boasts impressive color and clarity. Natural finger-touch navigation makes the most of Windows 10. IPS technology for wide viewing angles. Energy-efficient WLED backlight. This is so nice for my girls. They are very tactile and they are so comfortable with touchscreen usage from their phones.

8GB system memory for advanced multitasking

Substantial high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly run your games and photo- and video-editing applications, as well as multiple programs and browser tabs all at once. Perfect for those of us who keep a minimum of 13 tabs open at all times.

HP Envy x360 Laptop, back to school, tech, best buy, back to school supplies

360° flip-and-fold design

Offers versatile functionality with laptop, audience, tabletop, presentation and tablet modes. This is one of my favorite features of the HP Envy x360. I feel like this versatility makes it easy to use anywhere and virtually indestructible, at least much less destructible.

READ ALSO: Back to School Made Easy for Parents

The HP Envy x360 comes with either a 15-inch screen or a 13-inch screen so you have your choice for whatever screen works best for your family and the AMD processors make them fast and thin so you can take them with you anywhere you go!

***Bonus: there is a back to school offer to save $100 on the HP Envy x360 until 7/28.








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lil Miquela, Miquela Sousa, AI Influencer, Artificial Influencer, Digital Influencer, Instagram Influencer

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next logical step in technology, right? We knew it was coming. We’ve been waiting for Rosie from the Jetsons to be a real thing forever but what happens when AI becomes our normal reality and can do almost everything humans can do?

We’ve all seen the movies but I’m here to tell you that the future is now. While listening to Dr. Michio Kaku give his keynote at LiveWorx in Boston last month, I was blown away. It made me start really thinking about how long it would be until humans were useless because let’s face it, humans are flawed.

Humans are by design flawed by emotion, memories and physics. A human body wearies. A human brain is imperfect and, in many cases, damaged by chemistry. We love, we hate, we worry and we fail. In the end, we live on a curve. We peak and then we decline.

We gain wisdom. We grow. We experience. We emote in a way only human beings are able to do. We are perfectly imperfect and for all of our flaws, this is the very thing that makes us special and irreplaceable on some level. Our humanity makes us indispensable.

Perfection has always been our goal as human beings. At least, it’s always been mine. Logically, I know it’s impossible and unattainable but that has never stopped me in my pursuit. Therein lies my flaw; my failure. Chasing a ghost.

lil Miquela, Miquela Sousa, AI Influencer, Artificial Influencer, Digital Influencer, Instagram Influencer

Then, this past week I learned about Miquela Sousa, aka Lil Miquela internet phenomenon with, at last count, 1.2 million followers on Instagram. Meanwhile, I’m stuck at around 3.5K Instagram followers. Oh, did I mention that Miquela is an AI Influencer created by BRUD, an artificial intelligence startup?

lil Miquela, Miquela Sousa, AI Influencer, Artificial Influencer, Digital Influencer, Instagram Influencer

She has a backstory and everything. She’s a 20-year-old, Los Angeles-based Brazilian/Spanish model rocking streetwear and couture alike with brands like Chanel, Heron Preston and Supreme featured. It’s easy for her to look perfect, say all the right things and wear all the right things because she has been created out of thin air; the fantasy of some human’s imagination.

Lil Miquela has been vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement and Families Belong Together and has even caught the eye of beauty guru Pat McGrath becoming his latest muse. Miquela updates her followers on her everyday “life”, inserting relatable captions in her photos, hanging with her “friends” and eating froyo — completely ignoring the fact that she does not actually exist. Apparently, so do many of her followers even after she outed herself as an AI Influencer.


Virtual influencers are labeled as the start of a new chapter in influencer marketing, peaking the interest of major brands. The thing that bothers me is that she’s influencing humans and she’s not human. It’s a manipulation by a tech startup on all of humankind.

What I mean is that it’s easy for an AI influencer to be flawless because they are computer generated, the creation of a human in the pursuit of unachievable perfection. Miquela can easily have a perfect body and flawless skin because reality has no bearing on her existence. She will be perfect in perpetuity.

Which makes me sad because if you think girls/ women have been unfairly influenced by anorexic models who are airbrushed sending many regular girls into spirals of depression from not being able to attain the perfection of an airbrushed human existence, what the hell do you think is going to happen when our little girls are trying to look like an AI Influencer? Is it even possible? Probably not without extreme body modifications and even then, most likely still impossible.

Setting aside my own experience with body dysmorphic disorder and anorexia, ignoring my entire parenting lifetime of actively raising little girls to love themselves in a world where they are objectified like pieces of meat, what about the ethical fact that the people who created these AI Influencers are trying to dupe mankind? The stakes have never been higher for our little girls and now, we go beyond the human situation into the AI existence? We are systematically making ourselves irrelevant.

Our collective obsession with technology continues to increase daily as we push the boundaries of what technology can do. Building online connections is the norm. People don’t bother with face-to-face anymore because digital is faster, more efficient. Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, birthing “influencer marketing” with many people looking to mimic the unattainable lives of celebrities. In response to this behavior, a never-ending quest for authenticity has emerged as we look to follow those who have lifestyles that are more relatable to our own. We’ve come full circle. Does that mean that influencer marketing is dead? Nope, it’s here to stay. But instead of following photoshopped influencers we’re being manipulated into following AI influencers; avatars who have human-like characteristics, both physically and emotionally.

The thing is that compared to human influencers, who are more susceptible to criticism, unpredictability and drama, there lies an opportunity here for brands to develop virtual content with AI Influencers with none of those issues. Which means that now, instead of human influencers gaming the system with airbrushing, professional photographers and perfectly staged photos of a life that doesn’t exist we’ve moved on to actual fake people because they are easier to control. We can order them up to our specifications eliminating human flaw from the equation. Sounds good, right?

Nope. We are being lied to and we are punitively relating to the human existence.  But there is something that an AI Influencer cannot do, it cannot relate on a human level. Meaning, sure Miquela can put in her Insta bio that #BlackLivesMatter but doesn’t exist and has no idea what life even means. She can’t understand the concept of oppression and the desire for equality because she can’t feel; the very thing that makes us human. Maybe we humans are imperfect, flawed and messy but there is nothing like it. Until we live in a world where only AI beings exist there will always be a need for humans if only to create the AI influencers that we can relate to because without a human driving the experience, it would be completely unrelatable. A complete disconnect.

The way that computers have become invaluable in our pursuit of efficiency and knowledge, I do believe AI will be indispensable in these same ways but an inanimate object will never be able to empathize in any meaningful way and what is our world without that connection?

How do you feel about AI Influencers, virtual influencers, not only taking jobs from human influencers but actually influencing our children who are manipulated into believing that an AI persona is an actual human being?

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How to SEO optimize your blog, SEO, SEO Optimization search engine optimization, SEO Tips

Feeling completely overwhelmed by SEO Optimization? Just starting out as a blogger and have no idea where to start with search engine optimization? I am sharing everything you need to know about SEO or everything I’ve learned in the last 3 months of conference sessions at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and Mom 2.0. I’ve been doing this for 9 years and these sessions blew my mind.

The first rule of SEO optimization is to go for the organic traffic.

Algorithms are always changing, put your attention and time into the only thing you control, your blog. Plus, did you know that the pay is better for organic traffic?

READ ALSO: Rise of the REAL

First thing is first when you decide to sit down and figure out your SEO optimization goals and make a plan to conquer those goals, keep these things in mind.

1.User Experience
As bloggers, we base a lot of things on algorithms and the Internet but your audience is human beings. Always keep that in mind. Is your site easy to navigate and find things? If not, people will leave. Also, I know you are tempted to keyword stuff so that Google sees you but then you are spammy and the humans will turn the channel so always make the humans your priority. Google will see you as authentic and rank you better. Keyword stuffing will get you a slap on the wrist from Google and you don’t want that.

2. Answer the questions your audience needs the answer to.
Be a source of good information or entertainment. Give them a reason to come back. I’m a storyteller so I’m not always telling you how to do something. Most of the time I’m sharing how I got through something; the solution that worked for me. It might not teach you how to do it but there is value in being the person who shares with you that you are not alone. It won’t make you any money but I feel good when I make people feel, in a time when they might otherwise feel alone, that I’ve been there. That kind of reach is priceless.

3. Provide useful information.
Make sure it’s useful and not just what they can already find everywhere else. Look for keywords that are highly searched but have low to medium competition so you have a better chance of ranking. Google the topic you want to write about and see what comes up in search. See what articles are ranking in the top 10 and see how you can answer that question more efficiently or more in-depth or more specifically. Or see if you can answer a question that is not being answered.

4. Establish Domain Authority

How to grow your Domain Authority is one of the great mysteries of the Internet. It used to be easy you could check your Google Page Rank and you knew where you stood. I used to have a 6. Of course, that means nothing now, as it is no longer available. But here is how to grow your domain authority authentically.

5. Optimize old content.
Yes, remember how back in 2009 none of us knew what SEO optimization was so most of those old posts are not search engine optimized? Well, that is traffic just sitting there waiting to be activated. My old posts, those awesome evergreen ones about being a mom and raising babies are just waiting to be seen my new audience of awesome millennials.

6.New content research.
Check your reports and see what is working for your site. What are you ranking on the front page for? What low competition words can you be ranking higher for? Do more of that. I’ll share the reports to check all of this next week on a post. Make sure you come back next week. I will also put it in the newsletter this Sunday.

7. Think mobile.
Most of our audience is now mobile. Currently, about 61% of my traffic is mobile so make sure that your site is mobile friendly or people will leave. Nobody has time for a subpar experience. They will leave.

8. Consider your site speed
Same goes for your site speed. If your website takes forever to load people will bounce and go someplace where they can get the information quicker. Make sure that you are doing everything possible to make sure that page loads in a timely manner.

9. Make sure that your images are optimized and compressed.
This is no joke. Make sure that your photos are optimized for SEO to bring the traffic and compressed in size to keep the audience. There is nothing worse than photos that take forever to load. It’s annoying and, if you’re like me, I just don’t have the patience. I don’t want a surprise; I want the info I came to the site in search of. The only thing worse is self-starting video. Don’t do it.


READ ALSO: How Mom 2.0 Renewed My Faith in Blogging and In Me

10. Last but definitely not least, run your reports to know where to focus your attention. I heard an amazing speaker at Mom 2.0 and she shared all the information on how to access and use the Google analytic reports, Googe Search Console and SEM Rush and even a secret report that I NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE. Yes, you need all of these to effectively optimize your site. These reports gave me insights into my website that I never even considered before.

Aside from just who my audience is to when they are online, what days of the week they are reading, where they are reading, what social media channels they are accessing my content and at what times. Besides just their demographics, their spending habits and where they live, these reports help me know what they want from my content. That’s not to say that I am going to change what I am going to write but it definitely makes me consider my audience and who I am talking to.

I will provide all of those steps to access those reports in a post next week on this blog but if you want it sooner, I will be including it in my newsletter this Sunday. So if you are signed up, you will get that. If not and you’d like that information sooner, please subscribe to the newsletter.

I’m doing lots of research into SEO optimization, are there any questions that you’d like me to find the answers to in my research?

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mom 2.0 Summit, Langham Pasadena, Blogging, blogging anniversary, anniversary

Today is my 9th blogging anniversary. I can’t believe the TRUTH about Motherhood was started when my baby was only 1-year-old. Where did the time go? Seems like just yesterday that I was writing under the pseudonym Truthful Mommy and you were all my lifeline. I wrote the stories but you guys were definitely my phone a friend. Thank you for being on this fantastic journey with me.

I’m just back from the Mom 2.0 Summit and still really high on all the energy and people that I just spent the last week soaking in. I networked with a lot of solid brands that I love and are a good organic fit for me. I got to rub elbows with the likes of  Kristen Bell, Debbie Allen and Brene Brown. I learned so much at the most amazing sessions. Even after almost a decade of blogging, I am still learning. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to connect and reconnect with all my friends who live in my computer.

mom 2.0 Summit, Langham Pasadena, Blogging, blogging anniversary, anniversary

If you’re a blogger, you know exactly what I mean. If you are not and you actually get out in the world at a time in history when most of us communicate through our tech devices, bravo for you because you are one of the lucky ones. The thing is I’ve made friends who’ve virtually held my hands through some of the toughest and happiest moments of my life and we’ve never met face to face. Things get lost in translation when you are communicating online. There is no tone.

READ ALSO: This Blogger’s Life, Vera Sweeney

However, when you meet someone that’s been there for you and vice versa for almost a decade the transition is almost seamless. I got to meet some friends for the first time ever. I got to hug people who I haven’t seen in at least a year and some even longer (too many to mention but you know who you are and I love you all so much) and I finally got to meet a couple of my blogging heroes, women who write from the heart and put it all on the line.

I met quite a few new bloggers who I’d never read before but now I will because of the amazing conversations we had in the hallways, elevators, the pub and restrooms. I have to say, the IRL interactions with all of these women are what blogging is all about. I even finally got to drive the KIA Stinger and I may, or may not, have gotten In & Out.

KIA stinger, mom 2.0 Summit, Langham Pasadena, Blogging, blogging anniversary, anniversary

But one of the most unexpected exchanges that happened at Mom 2.0 Summit came out of nowhere and bowled me over. It came from one of my former editors and it was as unexpected as a blow to the head at a church service.

As a writer sometimes (a lot of the time) it feels like you are sending your thoughts out into the abyss. You are never quite sure anyone is reading and if they are, you often wonder are they actually seeing you; understanding the meaning of the words you are writing. Sometimes I feel like I’m writing in a foreign language.

For me, writing is fulfilling on a deeper level than most other things and it is truly how I process life. It’s my medium and when you open your soul and share your story, you hope that someone (anyone) is reading and it means something to them. In a lot of ways writing is like motherhood, it is beautiful and soul filling but at the same time, it is often thankless.

I spend most of the time feeling like a failure at what I do and the other half feeling like an imposter. Since people have stopped commenting on blogs like they used to, it really feels like I am shouting out into the nothingness. Some days I wonder why I’m doing this. Then, I remember it is not about other people, it’s about getting my thoughts down and preserving these moments for my daughters. Still, it’s always nice to feel like your words helped someone, even if it is just by making them laugh or giving them the solace of knowing they are not alone.

The thing is this editor came up to me during the party after the IRIS awards. I was standing there in a room full of winners feeling like a giant loser. I was tired and jetlagged and was seriously considering sneaking away but I stayed because the only thing worse than Imposter syndrome is FOMO. I often feel like I need to make my exit before I’m revealed as the imposter that  I am.

iris awards, mom 2.0 Summit, Langham Pasadena, Blogging, blogging anniversary, anniversary

Anyways, this woman who is a phenomenal editor (who edits amazing writers every day) came up to me and told me that it was a privilege and honor to have edited my stories. How these are the moments that made her work feel worthwhile. I was stunned.

She said more but I don’t remember the exact words as I was crying like a baby next to the dance floor because her words moved me. In those few moments, she validated me and made me feel like I was heard and I belonged. I don’t know if she knew how much her words meant to me. I’m not sure that she can.

I tried to convey it, as I stood there with my face melting off as I cried through my contouring but words seemed too small when such a big gesture had been made.

You see, for the past year, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the backend of blogging.  I think many of us are. All that I’ve ever wanted to do was write. Write my stories free of worry about all the things like SEO, keywords, traffic, meta tags, understanding google analytics, pinning to win, facebooking to reach the masses, having the perfect cohesive Instagram, posting at the right times on the right days and writing for the right audience.

I want to write but blogging is my business and to have the honor of doing what I love, I have to learn to do a whole lot of other things that are out of my wheelhouse. This often leaves me feeling like I am on the outside looking in because in the blogging world, traffic equals jobs. Numbers equal traffic not always considering engagement so where does that leave me? Content is no longer king, it is the queen and SEO is the King and I feel like while the queen and I are besties, the King doesn’t much care for me.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that after 9 years, when I was tired and feeling like giving up, feeling like the biggest imposter on the Internet, I went to this Mom 2.0 Summit and I heard all the right things from all the right people. My heart was full. My soul set on fire and my mind could clearly see the direction I need to go. I’m not quitting, I’m rebooting. I’m going back to what I love… writing from the heart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still trying to understand the business side of all of it. I have to, it’s irresponsible not to but I’m not letting myself get overwhelmed by it. Blogging is my passion and sharing my stories with you is what fuels my soul. If just one person gets something out of my words, it is all worth it.

Hearing her words reminded me that you never know where your words are landing and how they are touching others. I’m not an imposter, I am a writer and my words deserve to be read just as much as I deserve to belong. I can’t be on the outside looking in because I am the protagonist in my story.

Here’s to being lucky enough to be writing for you in another 9 years. Thank you for reading my stories and sharing yours with me.

Here’s to many more Blogging Anniversary

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