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Disney, Credit Repair, financial security, financial freedom

Thank you CreditRepair.com for sponsoring this post. CreditRepair.com’s team understands that a credit score is not just a number; it’s a lifestyle.

The holidays are coming up really soon and with that, so does gift-giving, which is my love language. Whether you like to give toys, clothes, travel, or experiences (my personal preference) to your loved ones, at the root of all of it is the innate desire to bestow upon the people you love gifts; tokens of adoration and gratitude. We wait all year for this one day to give. Why do we wait? Oh yes, because that is when the sales happen and we’re trying to spend responsibly.

READ ALSO: How to have a Quality Fashion Wardrobe on a Budget

Since the day we had our girls, we’ve been head over heels in love with them. We wanted, and still do, to give them the world. I don’t feel like it’s wrong to give them special gifts, I feel like it’s a blessing to be able to do it. Giving is a salve for my soul.

Disney, Credit Repair, financial security, financial freedom, quinceanera, My why, why I am working to reverse my diabetes, family, Signs of diabetes, diabetes, diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes, how to reverse diabetes

But then the accident happened my own personal life-altering moment. I took a misstep in a bridesmaid gown and our entire world changed. I broke and shattered the bones in my left leg while completely dislocating my ankle. I had no idea how momentous one wrong step could be. It’s actually a good metaphor for life.

READ ALSO: Bridesmaid Down

It was as painful as it sounds and that broken leg nearly broke us. The bills were astronomical. Recovery included 3 surgeries over 3 years, countless hours of physical therapy and rehabilitation and the cost of renting medical devices to just be able to take a shower or get around my own house. I couldn’t bear weight for 12 weeks. I couldn’t work. All I could do was sit and watch as the entire world moved on without me. It took a village to pick up the slack and there were lots of unexpected, hidden costs involved.

Christmas rolled around that year and all my weary heart wanted was to give to those I love but how could I? I got depressed and when I’m depressed, it’s cliché but, I like to shop. Somehow it empowers me when I’m feeling helpless. So in the middle of hemorrhaging money on one surgery after another, I kept shopping. It wasn’t about the stuff it was about the joy it brought me to give the smiles on my daughters’ faces.

READ ALSO: Tips for Maximizing Your Disney World Vacation

That Christmas was a plastic Christmas. I couldn’t let my broken leg ruin our holiday. It had already robbed the girls of their Disney World trip, I wouldn’t let it take this from them too. As the medical bills began to roll in, when I still couldn’t walk, I had my husband push me around the mall in my wheelchair.

Christmas came and went. My cards were maxed out and the medical bills just kept coming, even when the paychecks were late; the bills never were. I wish the hospital’s billing department could give tips to the people who owed me money. Apparently, that scenario never works out in my favor.

Pretty soon, the bills were coming more and more frequently and the stress of owing money that I couldn’t pay and afford groceries at the same time, just became too much. I began to shut down. I stopped spending and started focusing on paying bills down and saving but the bills were already so high. I felt like I couldn’t breathe or move under the weight of it all. Meanwhile, my credit score was moving in the wrong direction.

We were in over our heads with the medical bills. We were drowning with no life preserver in sight. Humiliated and embarrassed, I didn’t want to ask for help. I’m an adult. I just wanted to hold on long enough to be able to fix it but I could never catch up.

Then one day, I had to ask myself, “Why should my children pay because of an unexpected medical emergency? Why should we be punished for a momentary lapse in footwear judgment on a warm autumn day? Why?” I was angry and I was sad. I was frustrated and I felt out of control and I didn’t like any of it.

READ ALSO: What’s a Quinceanera and how to plan yours

I was struggling with the idea that I had school tuitions, ballet, cheer, work trips, family vacations, and quinceaneras coming up that I had to pay for. The fact was not lost on me that college is coming sooner rather than later too. How was I going to afford all of it? Why should my family miss out on these important things to them because of debt that had nothing to do with them. It felt punitive.

Disney, Credit Repair, financial security, financial freedom, quinceanera

Bills kept mounting. I’d pay the bare minimum when I could. I used to feel like I would never finish paying off the medical bills because once I broke my leg that set off a chain of unexpected health issues and more trips to the hospital.

Worrying doesn’t help. You have to make a plan and take action. The first thing I did was call my creditors. I spoke to them, human to human. Explained the situation and they worked with us to help us pay the debt down without starving or damaging our credit score. This wasn’t a magic pill and we’re still working that plan. It was a Band-Aid. It takes time but it was a relief to have that life preserver.

The thing you have to remember is that credit is fluid. Your credit is not set in stone. Every single day is a new day for you to repair or destroy it. It’s your choice. One resource, CreditRepair.com is a leading provider of credit report repair services in the United States. Their credit professionals help educate and empower individuals like me achieve the credit score I want and the lifestyle my family deserves.

CreditRepair.com can help you make good choices because a credit score is more than just a number, it is a way of life. A credit score directly correlates with quality of life, not just because of the things you can afford but more importantly because of peace of mind and security. For me, and most people, debt and compromised credit cause unnecessary stress and worry and then you can’t enjoy anything. It’s a vicious cycle and sometimes it feels like there’s no way out. But there are resources available for just that. We just need to know they are available.

CreditRepair.com professionals believe everyone has a right to: Achieve their dreams. Increase their ability. Enjoy a lifestyle of greater opportunity.

CreditRepair.com’s technology provides its members with a personal online dashboard, a credit score tracker and analysis, creditor and bureau interactions, text and email alerts, mobile apps and credit monitoring. They give you the tools to be the master of your own financial destiny. They focus on your personal story and your determination to develop a healthier relationship with your credit and dedication to the process of changing your lifestyle and spending habits to achieve your financial goals. It’s very personalized.

I’m still working my way out of financial debt and learning better spending habits.

My credit repair goals are:
· Pay everything on time.
· Pay off all of my medical debt.
· To get to a place where I can pay more than just the minimum payments on credit card bills.
· Pay off debt and use my credit cards less.
· Carry low balances versus maxed out cards.
· Establish a regular savings schedule and contribution goal.
· Get any negative payment history removed from my credit report.

If your credit isn’t perfect, that’s ok. You can fix it with a little guidance and help from CreditRepair.com Get started today with your free consultation.
What are you waiting for? You deserve the freedom, joy and peace of mind that having good credit can provide. Your family deserves that version of you.

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Telic Après Ski recovery boots

I’m fairly new to this all year workout stuff. I’ve never been one to work out and walk 5Ks every day just because. I was about as fair-weathered a workout friend as you could find. I loved working out. Cardio was my jam but only when it was convenient. I wasn’t about that walking in 110 degrees with 100% humidity. And I sure as shit wasn’t running in 20-degree weather but here we are. If I’m going to do it, I’d like to be able to do it the best way possible. Enter Telic Après Ski recovery boots, the one thing I never knew, I always needed. Look at me, learning all the new things about myself.

Disclosure: I gifted a pair of Telic Après Ski recovery boots to experience them for myself but all opinions are my own.

I’ve had to do some pretty substantial research and I’ve learned some hard lessons along the way. For instance, I learned that I am allergic to the sun this summer. Yep. This means that I need to wear SPF at all times or a rash guard or I break out in a crazy rash all over my exposed body. I’ve learned that I am stronger than I ever knew. I’ve also learned that fleece-lined running pants are my friend and all fleece-lined pants are not created equal. I also learned that yes, that very expensive North Face jacket and those $200 running shoes are absolutely worth the money. Guess what else I learned?

READ ALSO: Ways to Work Out When You Don’t Have Time to Hit the Gym

I learned about a thing called sports recovery boots. Sounds made up, right? I thought so too but hey, I love cute shoes and I was sold. When I think of after sports shoes, I think of the Adidas soccer slides we all wore back in the day after soccer games. But those are not the sports recovery shoes that I am referring to in this post.

Recently, I was gifted a pair of Telic Après Ski sports recovery boots. When I saw them, I thought they were super cute and what could it hurt to try them out. They came on Saturday night. We’d just spent 7 days walking 20000 steps daily around Walt Disney World. My feet were sore and in desperate need of some relief.

Telic Après Ski recovery boots

Since breaking my leg, most of my day’s end with a limp. I work with preschoolers all day and they like to pull and climb on you so it’s inevitable that my legs are sore each night. Today, I wore my Telic Après Ski recovery boots to work (I told you they were cute) and for the first time in 4 years, I was not limping at the end of the day. It was kind of a big deal for me.

READ ALSO: How I Broke My Leg in the Middle of My Sister’s Wedding

I wish I could say that I was exaggerating and every night I don’t walk like a pirate but it’s all true. Every night since September 2015, I’ve walked like a pirate. It’s my new normal. But not tonight and if I’m being honest, I almost cried because I was so happy. I never thought any shoes, other than a pair of Louboutin’s, could make me weep with joy but these comfortable, beautiful recovery boots did.

Let me tell you about the Après Ski recovery boot. Firstly, it’s not just for after you ski, as the name would imply. It’s for after any sport. If we’re being really honest, it’s pretty great for everyday wear.

Telic Après Ski recovery boots

Telic is known for its award-winning comfort. The Après Ski recovery boot is also:

  • Insulated & Water Resistant
  • Traction Control Out-sole
  • Pillow-Soft Comfort
  • Lightweight Stability
  • Athlete Approved
  • Dr. Recommended

100% all true and I can attest to it because I’ve worn them every day since I got them, in the mornings after working out during drop off but not until today did I wear them for my entire work day and they impressed me. Actually, they blew my mind. I don’t know that I really believed anything could really work, especially with my foot and leg issues from the break but these did.

READ ALSO: Never Ask a Disabled Person if They’ll Return to Normal

You can enjoy Telic’s award-winning comfort year-round. They are designed to be worn by athletes to help relax and rejuvenate after training and competition, this recovery series incorporates Telic’s Novlaon Footstrike Technology and offers a soft supportive comfortable fit and feel for year-round Telic comfort.

What does that mean for you?

It means that this really cute pair of boots are comfortable and really do help you recover. TO be honest, the fact that my leg didn’t hurt after work today is enough to convince me to wear these shoes every day of the year but in addition to that, I got so many compliments on the look of the shoe. If I had my way, I’d gift a pair to every teacher in my school because they are absolutely that cute and comfortable.

If you’re an athlete looking for a fantastic recovery shoe or someone who spends long hours on their feet and needs extreme comfort without sacrificing fashion, I would strongly suggest giving Telic’s Apres Ski recovery boots a try for yourself.  FYI, it also comes in a recovery shoe if boots are not your jam. Those are next on my list.

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Torani Pumpkin PIe Puremade sauce, cheesecake, recipe

If girls are supposed to be made of sugar and spice and everything nice, I think I just might be made up of 90% pumpkin pie spice, the fiercest and feistiest spices of all. Seriously, it officially falls. The nights are cooler. The days are shorter. It’s time for leaves to change, cozy sweaters and denim jeans with boots and all the things pumpkin pie spice.

Disclosure: This is a compensated post in partnership with Torani but all opinions and my love of Torani syrups and sauces are all mine. #ToraniPuremadeSauce

Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. There is something about rich, creamy, smooth cheesecake that makes it worth my carbs. It’s by far one of the most decadent tasting desserts out there.

Being that it is Pumpkin Spice season again, fall, I love to enjoy it as much as possible. I know some people think that pumpkin spice is overrated but I’d say to them, if being basic is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Bring on all the pumpkin spice. I’ll try it every which way you can bring it.

When there are no recipes out there to eat what you want to taste, I say create your own recipe and that is what I did. I decided what could be better than two of my favorite things married to one another in perfect flavor harmony. I hope you’ll enjoy eating it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Easy Vanilla Cream Cheesecake topped with Torani Pumpkin Pie Puremade Sauce drizzle

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted

Filling:

  • 4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

Topping:

I love Torani Pumpkin pie Puremade sauce because it delivers amazing flavor with the ingredients I love. No
artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives and it’s so easy to use. Add a spoonful to your coffee, cocoa, latte or dessert. The possibilities are endless.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a large pan filled with 1/2-inch water in the oven.
  • Make the crust:
  1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon; add butter or margarine.
  2. Press crust onto bottom and 2/3 of the way up a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment.
  3. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan.
  4. Freeze until filling is prepared.
  • To make the cheesecake filling: Use an electric mixer to mix cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Whisk eggs in a bowl; gently add to cream cheese mixture.
  • Blend the mixture until eggs are folded in but not overworked.
  • Remove crust from freezer and pour in filling. Carefully place the cheesecake into a preheated water bath. Bake for 15 minutes; turn oven to 350°F and bake until top of cheesecake turns golden, about an hour.
  • Remove cake to let cool.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Cut and serve, topped with Torani pumpkin pie puremade sauce drizzled on top for just the perfect fall dessert.

What’s your favorite autumn dessert?

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Disclosure: This is a compensated partnership with Torani but all opinions and this iced Café Bombón recipe are my own.

Coffee is my jam. It’s something I’ve been drinking all of my adult life, and if we’re being quite honest, something I’ve been sipping from my parent’s coffee mugs since I was a child. There is something special about the creamy goodness of a good cup of coffee that reminds me of home. Nothing reminds me more of home than Café Bombón.

I remember my dad and uncles drinking Café Bombón at night after dinner at the dining room table while having late-night conversations filled with laughter and reminiscing. I have fond memories of my mom and aunts playing gin rummy and Yahtzee while sipping on Café Bombón and all of this makes my heart happy. Every time I take a drink of Café Bombón those memories are what flood my mind and fill my soul.

What is Café Bombón, you ask? It is literally, candy coffee.

What makes it different from your typical cup of coffee? That would be the sweetened condensed milk. What makes it extra delicious? That would be the Torani salted caramel syrup that I add to mine.

To be honest, I thought “Café Bombón” was how everyone drank coffee because it was the only way I ever saw it drank. The same way I thought everyone made their grilled cheese sandwiches sprinkled with a little sugar on the cheese (made with love as my mom used to tell us). Yep, apparently, my Latino dad and my southern mom made up their own rules along the way.

Typically, Café Bombón is made by simply using 1 ounce of espresso and 1 ounce of sweetened condensed milk. Simple. You can sip it or shoot it, depending on your caffeine needs that day. As I’ve gotten older, I need a little more caffeine to start my day so the 1 to 1 ratio needs to be upped for me in the morning and I like to put mine over ice in the warmer months for drinking convenience.

Café Bombón Recipe

Ingredients:

2 ounces of Espresso or strong coffee
2 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
2 ounces of Torani salted caramel syrup (if you prefer your Café Bombón less sweet, up the coffee ratio to 3 ounces.)
1 ounce of half and half
½ cup of ice

Instructions:

1. Pour sweetened condensed milk over ice.
2. Pour Torani salted caramel syrup over sweetened condensed milk.
3. Add espresso to top.
4. If you have a milk frother, froth 1 ounce of half and half.
5. Pour frothed milk over espresso.
6. You should see distinct layers of ingredients.
7. Enjoy with family and friends.
**I prefer to mix my Café Bombón all up and blend the flavors more evenly but it tastes delicious either way.

It’s that simple and even more delicious. By adding the Torani salted caramel syrup to the traditional Café Bombón, it completely elevates the flavor profile. The great thing about Torani is that is mixes well to bring out the best in your Café Bombón without overpowering everything else. Torani is made with real, simple ingredients that you can recognize.

To make this delicious and easy Café Bombón recipe find Torani at your local Kroger grocery store or online at Torani.com.

What is your favorite Torani flavored syrup for your coffee?

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jetson electric scooter

Back to school is upon us and the Jetson Quest Electric Scooter is here to take you for ride. Want to give your student an easy way to get to and around high school or their college campus? Look no further.

 

Disclosure: I’ve been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free but all opinions are my own.

I don’t know about you but the only thing worse than back-to-school shopping is BTS pick-up and drop off traffic. It’s frustrating and, let’s be honest, not great for the environment or your sanity. It’s not even great for your health so why not do something that gets you out into the fresh air?

 

Beat the traffic with this Jetson Quest Electric Scooter. The 250W hub motor lets you travel up to 18 miles at 15mph, while the bright LED headlight and deck lights support nighttime travel. Use the easy-fold system to conveniently stow away this Jetson Quest electric scooter in your car’s trunk or underneath a desk.  It’s perfect for getting around your neighborhood, to school or any college campus.

 

The no flat, solid tires are engineered to absorb shock along with a concealed premium lithium-ion battery that offers a smooth 18-mile range. The Quest can reach an exhilarating top speed of 15 mph with its powerful 250W hub motor. It’s equipped with an ultra-bright LED headlight and taillight, improving visibility and safety for when you’re riding on roads and sidewalks at night.

 

We live in a large community subdivision and there are parks, clubhouses, pools, golf and even schools right within our vast neighborhood. Bikes are great and we have lots of walking paths. I should know, I use them every morning for my daily workout, as many of you know from my daily Insta Stories. But, sometimes you need to get around quicker or you just don’t feel like walking and this is when the Jetson Quest Electric Scooter comes in handy.

Shop this and more electric scooters plus electric bikes and boards at Best Buy.

Make sure that you ride responsibly if you do ride an electric scooter. The purchaser and rider of this product are responsible for knowing and obeying all state and local regulations regarding the use of this product. It is highly encouraged that you read and follow the product instructions including all safety precautions and use protective gear. Protective gear can be found at http://www.bestbuy.com/protectivegear.

 

Have you ever ridden an electric scooter around the neighborhood? Campus? Maybe on vacation in a foreign city? What was your favorite thing about it?

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Back-to-school, first day of school, kids growing up, letting go

How did back-to-school come so fast? One day the kids were getting out for the summer and the next day, it was time to go back. Summer was not long enough. The older my girls get the faster the summers seem to go and, to be honest, I’m not loving it. I want to slow down time and hold on for just a little longer.

Disclosure: Amazon sent me the Happy School Year kit but all opinions are my own.

This year, my oldest starts high school, my youngest is right smack dab in middle school and I am going back to preschool. Well, I took a part-time job working with the cutest preschoolers ever. I’d almost forgotten how independent, sassy and hilarious 4-year-olds can be. Back-to-school is hitting me in all the feels everywhere this time.

READ ALSO: The first day of High School was Harder than Expected

For us, back-to-school is like New Year’s Eve. It’s a time for resetting and starting over, especially this year with my oldest being a freshman. It was the perfect opportunity to set some New School Year’s resolutions for all of us.

My oldest girl wants to keep up on her homework, get involved in school spirit and support her teams, stay physically active and get ahead on her reading. I love the way she is finding her way and becoming the fierce, ambitious young lady she wants to be. The girls wear uniforms but they are able to express themselves with their accessories, shoes and bags. Here are some of her favorite Amazon back-to-school finds, Be Brave. Be Bold. Be You. Daily Notebook, Fire HD 10 Tablet and Fujimax camera for taking pictures of all of her new friends to hang in her locker.

Back-to-school with Amazon is easy and convenient.

My youngest loves school and is a social butterfly. She is very into tech and is a bit of a VSCO girl. She’s all about being green, eating healthy and saving the world. But being that she is only 12, she is still very into fun, quirky school supplies. Did someone say  Geddes Scented Donut Shoppe Erasers,   Zebra Cadoozles Mechanical Pencils , ZIPIT Twister Pencil Case,  Wickedly Prime Plantain Chips and S’well Stainless Steel Bottle? She really loves that her  MEE KidJamz 3Child Safe Headphones and   AmazonBasics Everyday School Backpack match and she’s made them her own by adding funky pins.

READ ALSO: Back to School Breaking my Heart

As for me, I haven’t been hanging out with the preschooler set in ages so I’m stocking up on Boogie wipes, Zinc lozenges and Babyganics hand sanitizer in bulk. I’ve been a stay-at-home / work-from-home mom for the past 14-years so hanging with these little cuties a few hours every day is definitely going to boost my immune system. I should probably stock up on Vitamin C and vitamins, as well.

Amazon makes it easy to get all of your back-to-school needs met in one convenient location. We have a busy life and back-to-school is an insanely chaotic time of year for us, so convenience and dependability are very important to us. We know that we can count on amazon to get us what we need as soon as possible and that takes the stress out of back-to-school shopping for me.

Did you use Amazon for your back-to-school shopping this year? If not, why not?

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Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Earlier this summer, we visited Portland Maine for the first time. I made of list of things to do in Portland Maine with teens and kids this summer. I fell in love with the state of Maine a few years ago on our first trip to Ogunquit and it’s been our summer New England vacation spot since. There is just something about Maine in the summertime that I find to be beyond quaint and charming. It is one of the most peaceful and relaxing vacations I’ve ever experienced.

Earlier this year, I was invited to visit Portland Maine and experience all that Portland has to offer but as many of you remember, I fell the week before I was supposed to fly out. I savagely dislocated my elbow and flying was not an option. Luckily, my family was headed to our annual Boston trip in June so I knew I had to get to Portland check it out.  I was not disappointed.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Visit Portland for some of this trip so that I could experience some of the local flavor of Portland Maine but all opinions are my own.

We stayed in our first ever Holiday Inn By the Bay. It was right in the heart of Portland with a breathtaking view of the Casco Bay from our rooms. Yes, rooms, for the first time ever we got adjoining rooms with the girls and, parents (if you haven’t tried this yet) GAME CHANGER!!!

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream Cruise

Here we were with this beautiful room, with a gorgeous view and the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in (and I’ve slept in a lot of hotels over the years through my travels) and my girls are safely right next door. We left the door open (mostly) but there was the option to close it. Best of all, no sharing the television or listening to bickering. It had to be one of the most relaxing stays we’ve ever had in a hotel.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Also, though we were only a short walking distance from old Portland ( a quaint and fun walking area full of shops and restaurants) the Holiday Inn Express offered free shuttle rides to and from any Portland area destinations we wanted to visit. Mostly we walked but having the option at night after dinner, when the girls were exhausted, to be picked up and taken back to our hotel was awesome. It was also nice to get that time to chat with the driver, a local, and get recommendations for places to eat and things to do. He was super helpful and kind, as were all the staff at the Holiday Inn Express.

Here is my list of things I think everyone who visits Portland Maine should check out

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Portland Schooner Sunset Sail

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

These schooners are a part of history and they are so quaint and charming. I had never been on one before. Seeing the sunset over the water is breathtaking. The crew is kind, engaging and entertaining. The ride is smooth and it’s hard not to feel relaxed and free on this sail. I recommend for anyone who wants to enjoy life and be present in the moment. You definitely don’t want to miss this moment. We went with our tween and teen girls, I would definitely suggest taking a small picnic to eat and if you want to make it a romantic evening with your favorite guy or lady bring along a cheese plate and some wine or champagne and watch the sunset with your favorite person.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Maine Duck Tours

So much awesome information and history. You get a complete historical tour of the entire town and bonus, you get to take a bus into the cove. My favorite part was learning all about Portland from our knowledgeable and good-humored tour guide. It was especially nice because it was our very first trip to Portland and we didn’t know a lot about the area. It was interactive and a lot of fun going through the town as the tour engaged with the people of the Portland. My only suggestion would be to make sure that you wear the provided life vests when you enter the cove as a safety measure in case of bad weather. The day we took our tour the weather was calm.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Portland Head Lighthouse

I love lighthouses. If I’m near a coast, you can be sure I’ll find the lighthouses. Cape Elizabeth is the home of Portland Head Light. Situated along the spectacular shores of Fort Williams Park. The Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Aside from being cool to look at the Portland Head Lighthouse is surrounded by beautiful trails, cliffs and photo ops galore.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland MaineThe Holy Donut

Holy ish batman! Who knew potato donuts could be this delicious? Who knew there was such a thing as potato donuts? They are definitely worth the wait. They are delicious. If you ever find yourself in Portland Maine, you must get yourself a hoy donut. Your taste buds will thank you.

 

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

The Porthole Restaurant and Pub

Fish and Chips and live music. The staff is friendly and helpful. They have the best fish and chips I have ever tasted and on Friday nights, it’s bottomless fish and chips. Also, live music on most nights. We loved it so much we had it twice.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Becky’s Diner

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Maine blueberry pancakes and the charm of old Portland is what  I ordered and exactly what I got! Becky’s Diner was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diner’s, Drive-ins and Dives. I had heard that Becky’s was a local must and when I showed up, the line didn’t lie. Thankfully, the staff at Becky’s is not only great at making delicious food, they are on the ball. They have great personalities and know how to get people in and out of booths with great customer service.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Flatbread Company

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

I am a pizza connoisseur and the pizza at Flatbread Company is next level. Made with all organic and locally sourced ingredients, this is definitely farm to table pizza. And you can taste the difference. They know food and they put twists on old favorites that I was pleasantly surprised by. I am a green pepper on my pizza kind of gal. When I tried to order it, I was informed that there was no such thing available there but they do put red pepper on pizzas so I tried it. OMG, so much sweeter than regular green peppers. Took my pizza experience to a new level.  Also, they have a summer salad that is out of this world.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Gorgeous Gelato

Oh EMM GEEEE! My girls ( and the Big Guy and I) love ice cream., frozen custard and gelato. Frozen treats are our weakness. In fact, if you have followed the TRUTH for any amount of time, you will realize I almost always seek out and find the best pizza and ice cream/frozen custard/gelato place in every single vacation destination we visit…ever. We try them all, I just tell you about the best. Gorgeous gelato in Portland Maine is an authentic and delicious gelato destination that offers a large variety of flavors to try.

Did I mention that Portland is a foodie heaven??? So many great food options and lobster to be eaten any way your heart desires.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

READ ALSO: Vacation 101: We’re not the Griswolds but We Play them on Vacation

There was so much to see and do that we definitely did not get to see and do it all in 4 days but I look forward to visiting again soon with my family and exploring some more.  There were so many delicious nooks and crannies, corners to turn and cobblestone roads to explore to this quaint and adorable coastal town. When you are in  Portland Maine, the people are so friendly that you truly feel welcome and relaxed. It’s the perfect place for a summer getaway with your family, your teens or just you and your partner. Portland offers something for everyone.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Have you been to Portland Maine?

Things to do in Portland Maine with kids and teens, Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

What are your favorite things to do in Portland Maine this Summer?

 

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father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad

Somewhere between college and yesterday, the Big Guy has somehow become an outdoorsman. Surprises me too since I practically had to promise lewd and lascivious acts to get the man to eat lunch at an outdoor café due to “bugs” yet, here we are. We went on a family camping trip a couple of years ago and he has since been sold on the idea of all things in nature and I’m here for it.

Disclosure: I was provided some of the products on this list for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

While we’ve been camping in cabins and RVs, he’s been leaning more towards “roughing it” getting back to his great outdoorsman roots. He used to camp with his parents as a child. I, on the other hand, prefer my 5-star hotels to camping in a tent. Though I will say, there is nothing quite like camping in the great outdoors and looking up at the stars from around a campfire with nothing else around except for the sound of locusts and your children laughing. It really is magical.

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the Best Family Vacation

I fully support the Big Guys new found choice to fully lean into his more rugged side. Of course, he’s a tech junkie, metrosexual so this will be camping outdoorsman at its finest and most tech-savvy. The man already cooks like a gourmet chef, is the perfect father to daughters and is one of the smartest people I know. He does life to the fullest.

In celebrating this new endeavor, I have compiled a Father’s Day Gift Guide for the Great Outdoorsman in your life.

Classic Square Floating Sunglasses – Coopersfather's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses

Floating sunglasses? What? Yes, there is such a thing. The Cooper frame from Rheos is designed to combine the best of style and performance. Made of a specialty material that’s lightweight enough to float on water, the Coopers will never sink if they fall over the side of your boat. The reduced weight also ensures these sunglasses won’t slide down your nose, cause long-term wear fatigue or result in tension headaches.

Soft-Touch nose pads are embedded for additional comfort and grip. The frame itself is designed to provide enough coverage to protect from all angles of sun and glare, with a style that looks just as good on and off the water. The Coopers feature polarized, anti-scratch, anti-glare, anti-fog, hydrophobic and oleophobic lenses with 100% UV protection in a variety of amber, gray and mirrored options. Basically, the Big Guy can run, hike, kayak, all-terrain bike and if the glasses fell off, they would float and he could find them.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towelChawel Nomad Towel

The Nomad is the surf-inspired series with over 24 sq. ft. of absorbent surface for drying off. This quick dry changing towel has armholes, an absorbent hood and absorbent zipper pocket. The Chawel Sport will give you extra warmth and cover from the elements. Take your Chawel on your next surf safari, camping trip or backpacking adventure. The Chawels extra uses will save space and weight on your next trip. Use the absorbent stuff sack as mini towel, while the Chawel can stuff into its zipper pocket. Created by a beach lifeguard in Vancouver, BC. Think of it as the MacGyver of towels. Perfect for the MacGyver Outdoorsman in your life.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower

3.0 GALLON SUMMER SHOWER: SS761

He’s got the Nomad towel why not give your camping loving dad a shower too. What else would you get the dad who has everything? Give him the gift of a hot shower anywhere he goes! Designed with an efficient 4-layer construction for optimal heat retention and performance. Simply fill and layout in the sun clear side up and you will have a hot shower in no time. Anyone who has ever spent a day roughing it in the great outdoors knows there is nothing more satisfying than a hot shower at the end of a long day.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower, rfid wallet

RFID Theft Protection Leather ID Wallet

The wallet looks unassuming and like any other classic men’s leather wallet. It can hold 3 – 10 cards. It has a divided pocket for cash and receipts and a clear ID pocket with thumb slide window. It’s made with Nappa leather and has a moisture wicking nylon interior. It only weighs 1 ounce. No worries of there being a George Costanza situation going on here.

AFX

Some dads may not be as spry as they once were but still want to be active and should definitely be able to do so. That’s where the AFX Pro comes in to save the day. The Big Guy was a competitive soccer player well into his 20’s and suffered some leg injuries. Anyone who has been an athlete knows that all that high-intensity playing can play havoc on your body. You have to take care of it. Unfortunately, as we get older, we feel it a little more. That’s why the AFX Pro is perfect to keep dad in shape. AFX is a revolutionary new strengthening system that enables you to strengthen the muscles and tendons of the entire foot and ankle complex. It’s a system of resistance bands and training videos to help get you back into ultimate shape. When you put AFX to work, you’re harnessing a source of strength you never knew you had.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower, rfid wallet, backmate

The Backmate

Speaking of getting older. We all are and that includes dad, even if he hasn’t felt the effects of it yet. I think most of us at one time of another have experienced back pain. The Backmate sets up in any doorway in seconds and provides fast relief from back and neck pain, stress & sore muscles. Dad can give himself a deep tissue massage any time to relieve the pain, lower stress levels and make his body stronger.

READ ALSO: Why Every Family Should go on an RVing trip before their kids grow up

The best part? 

All you need is TWO MINUTES PER DAY! Just lean into your problem areas, and let The Backmate do the rest! It relieves upper and lower back pain, alleviates tension headaches ( from bickering kids), improves mobility and range of motion, regulates nervous system for daily stress relief, reduces inflammation and increases circulation for faster healing and recovery.  Sounds like a winner to me. Plus bonus, I can borrow it.

The CloudLine Hiking Sock

The Cloudline hiking sock is a legend among serious backpackers and hikers. I know you are thinking,” come on Debi, it’s a sock! How legendary could it really be?”

Well, have you ever gone hiking and had to walk around with waterlogged feet? It is the worst. But the Cloudline hiking sock features ultra-soft medium weight cushioning throughout for long mile comfort. Premium merino wool wicks moisture, regulates temperature and resists odor making this the perfect sock for all but the warmest temperatures. See, I told you this sock was more than a sock.

tentsile, father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower, rfid wallet, backmate, air beam bud

TENTSILE Connect Tree Tent

The Tentsile Connect Tree tent is built on a spacious and comfortable platform suspended above ground for versatile arboreal camping. It’s a family adventure like no other. Each tent sleeps 2 people and can be attached to other connect tents to create a suspended super camp with 3 or more tents. The suspension system keeps the tent off the ground making it environmentally friendly, plus comfortably away from roots and rocks for a sweet sleep.

Heavy-duty straps combined with 3 ratchet buckle system lets you tension and suspend the tent from 3 trees of at least 10 in. in diameter, at about 4 ft. above the ground.

Rainfly attaches snugly in inclement weather and can be pegged out for ventilation. It also has a 50 sq. ft. covered “dry porch” area under the tent to keep shoes, bags, dogs, and bike out of the rain. The maximum load weight of occupants and gear when suspended is 880 lbs. (do not exceed); recommended setup height is 4 ft. (1.2m). So basically even the burliest of outdoorsman can stay in the Tentsile connect tree tent. Plus, it’s just super cool. I’m pretty sure that’s the main reason it’s on the Big Guy’s list. Did I mention that TENTSILE plants 18 trees for every tent sold.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower, rfid wallet, backmate, air beam bud

Lotus Belle’s Air Beam Bud

This easy to set up blow up yurt is perfect for the family who likes to experience outdoor adventures together. The inflatable Air Beam Bud, the first ever inflatable glamping tent is a must. It’s 10 x 10 foot in groundsheet diameter, has two mesh windows with canvas exterior blinds just like the Lotus Belle. It’s 7.8 feet tall at its highest point, so even comfortable for my 6’5” Big Guy. It’s big enough to fit a queen sized bed and only weighs 40 lbs. so you can transport in a backpack. There’s no center pole so you can use 100% of the space inside. It’s super-fast to assemble! The Air Beam Bud comes with a porch awning so no need to buy separately. The groundsheet thickness is super thick and waterproof. It’s perfect for the dad of girls who wants to be in the outdoors but doesn’t want to contend with some of the normal discomforts that come with the outdoors.

What would be the best Father’s Day Gift for the Great Outdoorsman in your life?

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secret life of pets 2, paton oswalt, harrison ford, kevin hart, tiffany haddish

Do you ever wonder what your pets really do when you leave the house? I do because I have a sneaking suspicion that our Lola is getting into all sorts of mischief. In fact, I got a Petcube camera just to find out for myself.  Surprisingly, at least in front of the Petcube cam, she’s as sweet and lovable as she is when we’re home with her.

Disclosure: My family was provided tickets to see The Secret Life of Pets but all opinions are our own.

Not the case with the gang of Secret Life of Pets 2. The Secret Life of Pets 2 follows 2016’s summer blockbuster hit about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work each day. This time it’s a little different.

secret life of pets 2, paton oswalt, harrison ford, kevin hart, tiffany haddish

The Secret Life of Pets continues the story of Max the terrier (Patton Oswalt) must cope with some major life changes when his owner gets married and has a baby. Max’s anxiety suddenly kicks in when he becomes preoccupied with keeping his owner’s toddler safe. He is the ultimate helicopter dog.

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know About Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

When the family takes a trip to the countryside, anxiety-ridden Max has run-ins with dog-hating cows, aggressive foxes and a scary turkey. Luckily for Max, he soon meets Rooster (Harrison Ford), a gruff farm dog who tries to cure the lovable pooch of his neuroses. Rooster is more of a let-them-get-hurt-and-learn kind of canine.

A subplot has Snowball (Kevin Hart) and a new dog Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) working together to rescue an abused tiger from a Russian circus. Hot on their tails are scary wolves and a “cartoonishly villainous” lion tamer.

The dark humor and danger are toned down with more of slapstick violence that’s meant to be funny. Think Wylie Coyote and the Road Runner. Animals punch and throw knives at one another and a bad guy gets hit by a car, but no one is ever fatally injured.

READ ALSO: Why I Loved Disney’s Live Action Aladdin

For me, I saw a lot of myself in Max. I used to be a carefree, thrill seeker before I had children. The moment I had my girls and became a mom, it was no longer just my life. I was living for others. At the moment they were born, my life was irrevocably changed for the better, if not for the milder.

It was so overwhelming to love something, someone, so much that it felt like the thought of any ill ever befalling them would absolutely kill me. Our children are an extension of ourselves. They are the best of us walking around vulnerable in the world. Our children are our kryptonite but such amazing, beautiful gifts of kryptonite they are.

I went from being a “do what feels good” person to a “make good choices” person because it’s not just about me anymore. In the beginning of motherhood, I was a nervous wreck. I have never been able to be one of those parents who can go with the flow and just let things happen as they play out. I was never a “rub some dirt on it” type. I can’t overcome my instinct to protect them and to be honest, I’m okay with that.

READ ALSO: Cirque du Soleil Volta

My name is Debi and I am a recovering helicopter mom. I’m not saying that with any negativity. It was what worked for us. Maybe sometimes I was a bit neurotic in my overprotection but, in the end, as they grew older, I learned to let go little by little. I learned to trust in my own parenting.

I’ll probably never be a Rooster “let-them-get-hurt-and-learn” kind of a mom even though I know plenty of moms who are and it works too. It’s just not what’s comfortable for me. Honestly, my parenting technique was mostly about keeping my girls safe but a lot about preserving my own peace of mind.

Max gets the struggle of every parent everywhere and I loved watching him navigate his way through to the other side. I felt seen. The struggle of living with such immense love for a tiny little person is real.

Secret Life of Pets 2 is a winner for our family.

For kids, the moral of the story is to face and embrace the changes life inevitably throws at you and that’s such an important thing for our children to know. They have to know that change isn’t always bad and really, change is just an opportunity for growth.

Overall, my family loved the movie. My girls are 12 and 14-years-old and they laughed through the entire movie. In fact, the Big Guy said it’s one of the best animated movies he’s seen in a while and that’s saying something coming from him. I found it to be endearing and I absolutely loved Max.

Secret Life of Pets 2 is playing in theaters now, will you be seeing it?

 

 

 

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Tarte, Sugar Rush, Tarte Cosmetics, Best Cosmetics for Teens, Best cosmetics for Generation Z

Earlier this spring my favorite cosmetics company, Tarte, launched a brand new sister brand called Sugar Rush. You may be wondering why I care. I’m already devoted to Tarte but as in all things, there is always room for improvement. I’m not just looking at cosmetics for me anymore, after all, I am raising two young ladies. I’ve got a tween and a teen who want nothing more than to raid my makeup drawers.

Disclosure: I was provided some products in the Sugar Rush collection by Tarte but all opinions are my own.

The thing is it’s always been my belief that makeup isn’t necessary for girls that young because they are so absolutely beautiful, as is. Ah, remember when your pores were that small? Remember when you looked that rested? Oh and let’s not forget about the creaseless, voluptuous faces of the youth. But, I remember even then wanting to use makeup as a creative way to express myself and I know that’s what our young girls want to do too.

READ ALSO: How to Teach Teen Girls to Put on Make Up

Tarte’s Sugar Rush is made especially for Generation Z. The packaging is cute and fun, like the girls using it. However, it’s vegan and cruelty-free which makes me feel better about spending my money on it and allowing my girls to use it.

Tarte, Sugar Rush, Tarte Cosmetics, Best Cosmetics for Teens

Did I mention everything in the Tarte Sugar Rush collection is under $30?

The thing is that it’s make-up and skin care made with good-for-you ingredients. Even though it comes in super cute packaging and is perfect for your favorite Generation Z girl, the quality is just as good as what you’ve come to expect from Tarte over the last 20 years.

Can you even believe that Tarte has been around for 20 years? Tarte has always been committed to cruelty-free cosmetics so what better way to celebrate their 20th anniversary than by evolving the brand with the launch of Sugar Rush.

READ ALSO: The Parents Guide to Teen Slang

This colorful new collection uses quality ingredients to create long-lasting wear, skin-loving formulas with recyclable packaging that aesthetically pops. Everything in the collection is cruelty-free, vegan, naturally derived, dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic which is perfect for my girl with sensitive skin!

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls

The collection offers a nice variety of skin-care and makeup picks including two eye shadow palettes, lip products and facial products. Sugar Rush also has a few cute skin-care and brush sets and sweet, summertime scents that conjure up memories of the beach.

Sugar Rush may be “powered by glitter and good vibes” but it’s also backed by the high quality and reputation of Tarte. My girls are in love with the collection and so am I.

Tarte, Sugar Rush, Tarte Cosmetics, Best Cosmetics for Teens, sugar rush sweet slice eye cheek palette

I can’t get enough of the Sugar Rush vacay day rollerball and Sugar Spritz body spray. Bella is loving the cake butter whipped body butter and Sugar Rush sweet slice eye and cheek palette. Gabs can’t get enough of the Couple Goals double-ended lip gloss, squeezy clean face wash and star factor cleansing face brush.

Overall, we love Tarte’s Sugar Rush collection and, more importantly, I feel good about letting my girls put it on their face.

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