Long Distance Relationships CAN Work

*This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small percentage of an affiliate sale without any cost to you. I only link to items I truly recommend, and I thank you in advance for your support of Fire + Wife. For more information, please see my disclosure page.*

After the latest post telling more about Ryan and I; there was some feedback about wanting more of those types of posts. Looking over my stats for the website, I see that 40% of you are returning visitors and I love that! I’m excited to have you all coming back for more and hope to get to know each and every one of you as well. Please feel free to use the contact page anytime!

Ryan and I have spent half of our relationship living 1800 miles apart. Obviously, a long distance relationship is not ideal but I’m here to tell you it can work if you want it to.

If you are in a long distance relationship or possibly have to be apart from your significant other for an extended period of time, read these tips from our real life success story!

Both of you have to feel the same

If one of you is having doubts or not sure about wanting to make it work, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you.. it isn’t going to work. Make sure you are both on the same page!

Communication is key

I don’t think you need to have your phone on you at all times and check in every hour since trust is also huge in a long distance relationship but you DO need to talk/text/whatever about once a day. That’s usually how it is in a regular relationship and it’s nice to know the other person is thinking about you! Make sure to take time out of your day to do that. Set time for each other just like you would if you were going on a date.

Technology is great for long distance relationships. Now with FaceTime and Skype, it’s nice to be able to actually see your loved ones face from time to time rather than only in person every few months. With that said, don’t just text or talk online. Make sure you are having some time actually talking on the phone or on Skype. Texting is a lot different than a phone call.

Have a life of your own

Don’t just sit around wondering what your significant other is doing. Your relationship will not work if you can’t trust them. Go out and do things you love, spend time with friends, work out. Sure, you can’t go out and do these things with your significant other (right now) but that doesn’t mean you’re not able to do them at all!

Nurture trust in one another

No relationship will work without trust but it’s especially important for long distance relationships when you don’t see each other often and overthinking can get the best of you. Where are they right now? Are they really out with their friends? Are they really just at home?

You need to be able to trust in one another that you are only interested in being with each other and someday you’ll be together, side by side. Never have secrets in a relationship either, whether long distance or not, or it will break that trust. Once that trust is gone, it’s hard to get back.

Accept growth

It can be hard to hear about your significant other going out and doing things with new friends, picking up a new hobby, or even just doing things without you. Don’t think of it as them moving on and having fun without you, think of them filling the void while you aren’t there, just like you should be doing. Once you two are together in the same place, you will have new friends and hobbies to share with one another – just think of it as another positive!

It’s the little things

A card in the mail, unexpected flowers, a care package… let them know you are thinking about them. These little things will help you make it through to the next time you see them!

Your relationship is unique

It can be hard to hear about other couples going on double dates (or just an actual date!) or getting surprised by their significant other. You may not be able to afford to fly to see them for the holidays and you are feeling down. Don’t compare your relationship to others. Instead, think of all the good things you have in one another and how amazing it will be once you are able to be together in the same city! Just think, some people still haven’t found that special person and you are lucky that you have! The distance is worth it.. you’ll see!

Plan your next time together

While you are with them, make sure not to leave without a plan for next time. It will make saying goodbye a little easier if you know that you have a timeline for the next time you will see them. Maybe you don’t know the exact date but at least get a general idea. Save up that vacation time!

Ryan and I made it through the long distance and are now husband and wife and under one roof. You can do it too! What are some things that help you survive being in a long distance relationship?

 

Thinking About Engagement? Read This!

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This is a post I have gone back and forth about writing but I think there needs to be more resources out there for couples and individuals that are struggling.

It’s not a secret to those who know us but Ryan and I have had quite the roller coaster relationship. We originally met over 10 years ago (wow! I didn’t realize it had been that long) when I was only 19 and a sophomore in college. A 19 year old who was not looking to settle down! We eventually lost contact (and couldn’t find each other even when we tried) and moved on with our lives.

Fast forward 7 years to when I got an email from Twitter that I had a direct message. Ryan! My heart skipped a beat when I saw who the message was from. I had broke up with someone about a week or two prior to that and wasn’t even thinking about getting into anything serious but I knew right from the minute I got that message, life was going to change.

July 2014

At the time I received the message, I was living in Arizona and Ryan was in Ohio. 1800 miles away. Did that stop us? Nope. I flew out to Ohio in July and probably would’ve stayed if my cat wasn’t still in AZ! He then came to Arizona in September. The next time I saw him? When he came back November 5th to drive with me across the country to move to Ohio. On December 10th we were engaged.

It’s a crazy story. I know it. What was I thinking packing up my life for a guy I really didn’t even know?

Another little fact that most of you reading don’t know is that I have a lot of health problems. Mainly autoimmune disorders. I was doing good in Arizona… and then I moved to Ohio just in time for winter. I had never lived with a guy before, was sick as a dog, started a new job I really didn’t like, left all my friends and a life I loved, got engaged and was planning a wedding, and we were trying to figure out each other. It was too much at once. I was sick, depressed, and overwhelmed. I moved back to Arizona.

WHAT? Didn’t you guys just get married? Keep reading…

When I told Ryan I was leaving, pretty quickly I knew I was making mistake. All I knew is that I wasn’t happy and already had everything figured out so I felt like there was no turning back. The venue and vendors were cancelled, I already had a job lined up, and a lease signed. I was back in Arizona on July 10th.

Ryan and I talked/texted every single day. What was I doing? In August I missed him so much. I was back in the condo I had previously lived in (luck had it, that it was available) and had my “old” life back. But I didn’t. Everything had changed.

Ryan came to Arizona in September, just like he did the year before. I went to see him in January and felt like I was back home. The ring went back on my finger. The ring that never should’ve came off in the first place. Ryan and I had a lot of conversations the 10.5 months I was gone. Conversations that made us closer that every couple needs to have BEFORE getting engaged.

Our relationship is ANYTHING but normal. Typically you meet someone, date, get to know them and then get engaged.. we didn’t have any of that. Even though that is the norm for relationships, engagements are being broken more than ever these days. I feel as though social media is part of the issue. People are rushing to get engaged to show off that ring and change their relationship status. I’ll even admit that I thought about what other people would think when it came to us. I felt rushed to get engaged so that I didn’t look like a “stupid girl” for moving across the country for a guy.

When it comes to a relationship it needs to be only about you and the other person in it. Sure, family and friends will play a big part but what matters most is the couple. That is what you need to start focusing on.

So what are these things you need to figure out before getting engaged?

Goals

This is important. Do you see yourself traveling the world? Owning a business? Being a stay at home mom? You need to know what to expect and what to plan for in the future. Will you will be able to support one another in those dreams?

Kids

If one of you wants 6 and the other doesn’t see a future with children… that is huge. Talk about how many you want. Talk about parenting styles. What did you like about how you were raised, what would you change, and what traditions do you want to incorporate?

Adoption? Fostering? Consider all your options. Don’t want kids? What about pets? There is a big difference between someone wanting fish and the other wanting 3 dogs.

Family

Marrying someone, you also are marrying their family in a way. Get to know your possible future in-laws. How will holidays be spent? Are there any expectations from families for the wedding, children, weekly dinners.. you get the picture. How is your significant others relationship with them? What does your significant other expect from you and your relationship with their family?

You should know well before you are about to get engaged but what about any past marriages? Children? Shared pet custody? Ask questions!

Friends!

Friends tell a lot about a person. Have you met them? If you haven’t, then this probably isn’t as serious as you thought it was. Friends are as important as family. Get to know them. It’s who your significant other CHOOSES to spend their time with.

Faith/religion

Will you go to church? What will your child be raised as? What about your wedding ceremony? Not religious at all? Discuss it!

Political/Controversial Issues

Some people have firm beliefs and are okay if others disagree with them. Others can’t stand when someone has different view points. Find these things out. Abortion? Republic or Democrat? Gun rights? It can be uncomfortable to talk about but it’s important to know. You would hate to be engaged and then the next presidential election rolls around and it causes a broken engagement!

$$$

Talk about it now. Go over your credit scores, talk about spending habits, who will pay bills in the future, etc. Financial issues are the cause of so many marital problems so hash it out now!

Chores

They have to get done. Or do they? Are you a clean freak and your significant other changes the sheets every other month? Find this out! If they only stay at your house, make sure you get over to theirs. Are they all about typical gender roles where the woman does the cooking and cleaning? You need to know this now.

Little Things

What is their favorite color? Candy? Restaurant? Coffee or tea? Beer or liquor? Find out all you can about them! These things matter.

The “Bad”

Do they bite their nails? Leave the toilet seat up? Play video games when they can’t sleep? What about dirty clothes all over the house? Take note of these things while you are dating. Someday you may live with them (if you do get engaged and then married) and have to deal with it on a daily basis. Do you love them enough to look past the little nuisances?

Next take a look at yours. You may think you don’t have any but you do! Are you willing to change or try to?

The Wedding

You’ve made it through all the tough conversations and are getting closer to getting engaged. What does your big day look like in your head? What does it look like in theirs? An engagement is supposed to be a happy time and not one where you are constantly bickering. Make sure you are on the same page now.

Now that I’ve shared my experience with you, know that you aren’t alone when it comes to freaking out about engagements, marriage, broken engagements… Marriage is a huge step and you need to make sure it is right. Ryan and I talked about pre-marital counseling but with his schedule, we never were able to. If you think that is something you would like – look into it. There are tons of options out there. What did we end up doing? Again, we talked. A lot. But we also read books and did workbooks together. These are the ones I recommend:

Getting Ready For Marriage – A Practical Road Map For Your Journey Together (Click the image to purchase)

We got this book and then we each got a workbook. We would read a chapter out loud together and then do a section of workbook that related. I loved this book and it helped bring us closer. The chapters are so relatable! I ordered this right after I got back to Ohio and over the 10 months before we were to get married we got it done! –> Link to the workbook.   Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook

 

The 5 Love Languages – The Secret to Love That Lasts (click the image to purchase)

Not only did I learn about Ryan but also about myself! Does your significant other respond more to compliments, gifts, when you do things for them? Find this out now! Highly recommended!

 

 

 

 

Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts – Seven Questions to Ask Before and After You Marry (click the image to purchase)

We started this right after we got engaged and obviously didn’t continue it when I moved. It was good but we didn’t get into it like we should’ve. I stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it. When I came back to Ohio, I made sure when the other books arrived we got them done! I recently found these in the drawer and still want to finish them. What I love about these books is that there is a workbook for men and one for women. Here is the link for men: Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Workbook for Men Updated: Seven Questions to Ask Before—and After—You Marry and here is the link for women: Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Workbook for Women Updated: Seven Questions to Ask Before—and After—You Marry

What else should couples discuss before engagement? Do you have any other resources you recommend?

 

 

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Learn How To Sell Your Stuff

*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure page.*

It’s been over a month since I quit my job and we are still making it without that extra paycheck. Want to know how to make extra money with stuff already in your house? Keep reading!

I mentioned before that I felt like I was “pre-nesting” before we get pregnant. I am on a cleaning kick.. and I am also on a “get rid of everything” kick. See ya clutter! Actually I have a pile of stuff in the kitchen that I need to take pictures of to sell that is slowly making me crazy but that’s beside the point.

As I have been working on cleaning every nook and cranny and organizing closets and pantries, I have found a ton that we don’t use or really need. I’m sure if you went through all of your stuff you would find a lot too! Once you actually get to cleaning and organizing and find that stuff (books, clothes, toys, decor) then you will be on your way to making some extra cash.

There are so many different options available to sell your belongings. From Craigslist to phone apps to garage sales.. where do you begin? That’s what I am here for. Between Ryan and I, we have sold over $1000 in a month on various sites!

What are your options?

Craigslist

Craigslist is great because it is totally free! Craigslist tends to be more popular in big cities (for obvious reasons) so if you are near one, you are much more likely to sell your item since you have more people looking. Craigslist is great for bigger items like furniture, cars, and toys that you wouldn’t want to ship. This can be great to not have to pay shipping fees but it also opens the door for some safety issues. I have sold on Craigslist before and always made sure to meet in a public place where there were lots of people around (during the day). When it is a piece of furniture, make sure that someone else is home with you!

Besides safety being number one, another tip is to make sure to have a great photo. I met with someone to buy luggage before and their picture was clearly from when it was brand new and they were trying to sell me the used set. Make sure your pictures reflect what you are selling! It’s a waste of time for both of you if it is a crappy picture! Another thing I have learned about Craigslist is to decide on a price you would like to get for the item (not too high – it is used after all) then price it just a little higher. Craigslist will bring out many hagglers so if you price a little higher than you are more likely to settle on the amount you really wanted to begin with!

Facebook

I had never really used Facebook for selling until my wedding. I bought a ton of used stuff and then I turned around and sold it to other brides! I sold almost everything (and even made a profit on some items!) Facebook is free and makes it easy to connect with locals. There are tons of groups dedicated to your city, county, specific types of items… whatever you are looking for, I’m sure you will find it! I find more little items on Facebook like home decor items, clothes, toys, and then the larger items on Craigslist but you can find both on either site!

The same tips apply as Craiglist.. safety and good photos!

Online apps

I have had success with OfferUp and LetGo. These are for local listings. I know that larger cities have more luck with other apps but I have not tried them. I sold majority of the things from my last 2 cross country moves when I got rid of everything on OfferUp!

I feel like more people are starting to use these. They are free and very easy to use.

Safety and good photos!! I have sold everything from a mattress to spray paint on OfferUp!

Poshmark and Mercari are two apps I use to sell clothes.

Poshmark recently raised their shipping prices so it’s a little harder for me to sell items on there since people are hesitant to spend $6.50 for shipping alone on a used item! They also take a hefty fee. This site is good for high end items for low prices! I sold a new Kate Spade wallet on here when I first started listing. You can also bundle items to save on shipping and get a discount!

Mercari has everything on their app. I use this site to look for Rae Dunn items. Shhhhh! I have sold many items on here since you can control the shipping price and even offer free shipping. I just sold an item today as a matter of fact! Poshmark and Mercari are good options if you are not comfortable meeting people.

eBay

Ryan’s favorite. He sells baseball cards on eBay. When I first saw Ryan’s baseball card collection I thought he was a dork. Then he sold one of those cards for $500. I wish I had that kind of hobby! I would recommend eBay for your well known items. Items that people are going to search for. And items that are in great condition! You can also list rare finds and get some hits!

How do you sell on eBay? It depends on the seller but usually everyone starts out with 50 free listings a month. Last month I happened to get an offer for 500 free listings! On eBay is where I list my like new clothes, books, and games.You are much more likely to make a sale if you have a good reputation so if you do plan on selling on here, try and buy a few items to get a 100% rating so that people will trust you.

My recommendation? Take good pictures! I had some items posted for months and re did the pictures and they sold right away. People want to see details and make sure there is nothing wrong with what they are buying!

Another tip… answer buyers questions ASAP! Sometimes people want to know more about your item before they bid. Make sure to answer so they get the information they need before they find what they are looking for elsewhere! Example? Someone asked a question an hour before the listing ended and I missed it and probably lost out on a sale.

And finally…

Garage Sale

This obviously takes a lot more work and planning. You need to have a lot of items. I had thought we could have one (remember that pile in the kitchen I told you about) but when it came down to it, we just don’t have enough to sell and not enough variety.

Garage sales are best when you have multiple families come together so there are a variety of items for sale. Reach out to friends and family and see if they are interested. This way you also have someone to sit with you for hours and hours all weekend!

Make sure you have a prime spot for a garage sale. A garage sale should be easy to get to and off a busy road where you can put up a sign advertising the sale!

Once you have your sale planned, advertise! Use Facebook groups, your own Facebook, Craigslist, online garage sale sites to let people know! Also try and plan according to the weather. If you live in Arizona, don’t have it in the middle of July. If you live in Michigan, don’t have it in November! Common sense!

What other ways have you used to sell your items or what has been the most useful for you?

 

A-Z List of Birthday Freebies

*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure page.*

Yesterday was Ryan’s birthday so we took a weekend getaway to Northern Michigan to Mackinac City/Island. It was very relaxing and much needed. And you know what? I also took advantage of it being Ryan’s birthday by not cooking (and taking him out to dinner!) by using one of the many available birthday freebies!

My birthday is coming up in August so I thought I would see what else is out there to sign up for and wanted to share what I found! Behold, the ultimate birthday freebie list! Depending on where you are located, these may not be available where you are living. I tried to look throughout the United States for places with multiple locations!

Free Food

Abuelos – Free Sopapillas

Applebees – Free dessert

Arbys – Free 12 oz. milkshake with any purchase

Au Bon Pain – Free Lunch

Argo Tea Cafe – Free drink

A & W – Free Root Beer Float

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels – Free Pretzel

Back Yard Burgers – Free birthday burger

Baja Fresh – Free Burrito

Bailey’s Grille – Free Burger or Sandwich

Baskin Robbins – Free 2.5 oz. scoop and $3 off ice cream cake

bd’s Mongolian Grill – Free Meal

Benihana – $30 gift certificate

Biggby Coffee – Free grande beverage

Black Angus Steakhouse – Free meal

Black Bear Diner – Free Meal

Bonefish Grill – Free Bang Bang Shrimp or Coconut Pie

Bruegger’s Bagels – Free bagel and cream cheese

Bubba Gump Shrimp – $25 reward

Bucca de Beppo – Free birthday brownie

Buffalo Wild Wings – Free starter

Burger Lounge – Free milkshake

California Pizza Kitchen – free birthday dessert

Caribou Coffee – free medium drink

Carraba’s Italian Grill – Free dessert with purchase of entree

Carvel – Free ice cream

Champps – Free dessert

Cheesecake Factory – Free birthday sundae

Chili‘s – Free Dessert

Cotton Patch Cafe – Free birthday dessert

Country Kitchen – free birthday meal

Culvers – Free one-scoop sundae

Del Taco – free premium milkshake

Denny‘s – Free Grand Slam Breakfast

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Free BBQ sandwich

Dippin’ Dots – free on birthday

Dunkin’ Donuts – free beverage

Dutch Bros. Coffee – free beverage

Einstein Bros. – free bagel and shmear

Famous Dave’s Barbeque – Free entree

Fazoli‘s – free dessert

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill – $10 off

Firehouse Subs – free medium celebratory sub

First Watch – free birthday meal

Fox and Hound – Free Burger or Sandwich

Friendly’s – free birthday sundae

Fuddrucker’s – free birthday burger

Genghi’s Grill – Free bowl, appetizer, or dessert

Gigi’s Cupcakes – Free cupcake

Gold Star Chili – Free meal

Habit Burger – Free Birthday Ice Cream Cone

Harkins Theatres – free medium popcorn with ID

Honeybaked Ham – Free sandwich

Hooters – 10 Free Wings

Houlihan‘s – Free entree

IHOP – Free meal

Ivars, Inc. Restaurants/Bars (locations only in Washington) – Free Birthday Entree (up to $20)

Jack-in-the-Box – free dessert

Jamba Juice – Free juice or smoothie

Jersey Mike’s Subs – Free regular sub and drink

Joe’s Crab Shack – Free appetizer

Kona Grill – Free $15 birthday gift

Krispy Kreme – Free doughnut

Lone Star Steakhouse – free appetizer

Longhorn Steakhouse – free dessert

Maggiano’s Little Italy – $10 gift certificate

Maggie Moo’s – free $5 birthday reward

McAlister’s Deli – $5 coupon

Melting Pot – free chocolate fondue

Mimi’s Cafe – free crepe cake or croissant

Moe’s Southwest Grill – free burrito

Noodles and Co. – free noodle bowl

Nothing Bundt Cakes – Free Bundtlet

Old Chicago – free pizza

Olive Garden – free dessert or appetizer

On The Border – Free appetizer

Orange Julius – free birthday drink

Panera – Free pastry

Perkins – free magnificent seven breakfast meal

Ponderosa – free steak dinner

Quizno‘s – free cookie

Portillo‘s – free slice of chocolate cake

Raising Cane’s – Free combo box

Red Lobster – Free appetizer or dessert

Red Robin – Free burger

Romano’s Macaroni Grill – free slice of cake

Rubio’s – free taco

Ruby Tuesday – free burger

Sbarro – Free pizza slice with drink purchase

Schlotzsky’s – free small sandwich

Smokey Bones – free dessert

Sprinkles – free cupcake

Starbucks – free handcrafted beverage

Steak N’ Shake – Free Double Steakburger w/ cheese n’ fries

Tasti D-Lite – Free medium cup or cone

Texas Roadhouse – free appetizer or sidekick of ribs

Tropical Smoothie Cafe – free smoothie

Uno Pizzeria and Grill – free entree

Village Inn – free slice of pie

Waffle House – Free waffle

Yogurtland – free frozen yogurt

Free Stuff

AMC Theatres – Free birthday popcorn

Benefit Cosmetics – Free birthday gift

Body Shop – $10 birthday reward

Famous Footwear – $10 coupon

Redbox – free one night rental

Do you know any other places with great birthday freebies? Share with us!

What To Consider Before Starting A Blog

*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure page.*

I’m now a month into this whole blogging full-time thing and have to admit… it’s tough. I am not keeping the typical 9-5 work day (which I admit, I never really felt worked for me) but I feel like I am working all the time and not sleeping. To say I’m a little in over my head is an understatement but I refuse to give up!

What do you need to think about?

If you want to start a blog, first you need to realize.. it is not cheap. Sure, you can get a free account through Blogger but then you do not own it. I highly recommend a self-hosted WordPress blog where you will have endless opportunities for monetization. Right off the bat, you are going to pay at least $50-150 a year for hosting and securing a domain name. For my first blog I used Blogger but I wasn’t able to expand with it. When I tried to move everything over to a self hosted site… I somehow lost everything. Ugh! Save yourself the heartache and start with your own site from the beginning.

Next? Ask yourself if you have the time. I truly did not realize just how much work blogging would be. I think eventually things will slow down but to get up and running.. I’m working constantly. Between writing content, taking courses, utilizing social media, monetizing… it’s a lot!

Another big question.. are you social? Are you willing to put yourself out there on social media? At first I didn’t think I would be able to. I rarely used Twitter, occasionally Snapchat, and my Pinterest boards were recipes I’ll never use. But.. I made accounts for my blog for each one of those and have hundreds of followers in over a month! If I can do it, you can do it!

Okay, let’s get started!

So you really want to do this? Well first thing is first. You should sit down and think about what it is you will cover in your posts. What topic(s) do you see yourself comfortable writing about every week for years to come? Once you have that narrowed down, look at already established blogs in that niche. What is it you like on those blogs? Do you like the header placement? Their style of writing? Write all of that down!

How did I do it? I looked on Etsy at “girly” blog templates and bought one… I hated it. So I bought another… still didn’t like it. Now I am using a free template until I figure out what exactly it is that I want.

Next, determine your name. Write down a couple of ideas. Once you have a few you like, check and see if they are taken. If the domain is available for purchase, check and see if it is available on all social media accounts that you plan to use. My very first blog I did not do this and ended up having a blog and Etsy shop with different names. It’s hard to brand yourself when that happens! (I still have that Etsy shop and not sure how to grow it with the old name!)

After you have the name figured out, make sure you quickly purchase that domain and get all the names secured in social media. From there you can working on branding. I recommend first figuring out what style you would like for your blog. I wasted money and bought logos that didn’t fit in my header and other designers wouldn’t work with me to make a header based on someone else’s design. Trying not to waste money, I then got a layout where I didn’t need a large header and that ended up just being a waste of money in itself since I didn’t like it!

Branding is very important. It is how you will be recognized everywhere so make sure it is something you love! Not sure where to begin? I recommend Fiverr! I first purchased a logo design I loved for $6. Unfortunately I really wanted a header but then I found someone who made 6 really nice ones for $21! Branding doesn’t have to be expensive.

Wrapping It Up

By now you should know whether or not you want a self-hosted blog. You also have your niche, know what you are looking for in a template, and have your name figured out! You already have more of an idea what you are doing than when I started!

Now that you know what you want, I would recommend reading reviews about pros/cons of different hosting sites (BlueHost and GoDaddy seem to be most popular). I have used a few and one that some people swear up and down by.. I really didn’t like. It was the one that I lost all my content with. I don’t want to sway anyone’s opinion so you should research that and don’t just pick the cheapest option either.

You are on your way to being an official blogger, congratulations! I am definitely still a beginner and figuring out things along the way but please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have!

Improving Your Credit Score

*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure page.*

I won’t lie to you, I never really thought about my credit score until the last few years. It seemed like a lost cause due to student loans and medical bills. One day I signed up for Credit Karma and decided to slowly get rid of past due bills. Over the last year or so my credit score has improved by at least 100 points. Seriously!

So why is your credit score so important? Think of it like a business review. When I am looking to go somewhere I have never been and trying to find good experiences (ie. date nights, family outings, best happy hours) I look online and go where they have the best reviews. That’s what lenders do when they look at your credit score to decide if they should give you a loan for a car, house, new credit card, rent an apartment… you name it. They don’t know you so they need to look at your history. It also affects what the interest rate will be once you secure that loan or credit card and obviously the lower the interest the better. Interest rates are also something I didn’t really pay attention to until recently! Learn from my mistakes, people!

Scores can range from 300 to 850 (perfect) but if you have somewhere around 760… that is considered excellent and it is what you should aim for. The following ways can help you improve your score and your finances!

Check Your Credit!

As mentioned, Credit Karma, is free and you can check it as often as you want. I used to think that you could only view your credit report once a year, wrong! You should check it at least once a year.

Why should you check it? Of course you need to know your score to see where you stand but also because many reports contain mistakes. When I first viewed mine, my mom’s name was on mine. I didn’t have any of her accounts on my report but that was still something that needed to be corrected.

Don’t Max That Credit Card!

This is where I was able to improve my score greatly. While I didn’t max out credit cards, I was carrying high balances. If you spend more than 30 percent of your available limit your score drops. If you can’t afford to pay down the bill, then call and ask for an increase in the limit (and don’t use that increase!) that will help. If you pay off a credit card, don’t close that account either. Especially if it’s been open for awhile!

An example? If across multiple credit cards you have $2,000 spent on a $10,000 limit (just an example!).. this looks better than $1,000 spent across multiple cards with a $2,500 limit. I had always assumed that if you had less credit cards to you were in the clear. Not so!

Don’t Close Accounts

This is another area I just assumed I was correct about… when I would pay off a credit card, I would cut it up and close the account. That’s gotta look good, right? Wrong. As mentioned above it can actually help your debt/spending ratio. If you close a long standing account, that also decreases your financial history. You look better to lenders when you have a longstanding history. I recently closed a credit card that I opened when I was 18. That’s almost 12 years of history to show on time payments… now my oldest account is only 7 years. Crap!

Pay Your Bills

That makes sense, right? I have always been someone to pay bills on time but the one time I couldn’t afford a hospital bill? My score dropped a lot. Like 40 points. I got sent to a collections agency and that was put on my credit report. Even once the balance was paid off that stayed on my report for SEVEN years. I didn’t know that if I sent money slowly, even $20 a paycheck that you cannot be sent to collections. Always pay your bills! I read that if you have a 780 credit score and miss one payment for 30 days it drops your score by 160 points!

Apply for Store Credit Card and Get 20% Off? NO!

Don’t fall for that. Too many inquiries into your credit history will ding your score by at least 5 points.

Carrying A Balance

I already talked about the debt/spending ratio and how that can lower your score but carrying a balance also just means you are paying more interest.

To sum all of this up? Avoid credit cards. Have a MAX of two that are for emergencies and always pay off the balance.

Do you have any other ways to improve your credit score? I would love to hear them!

 

 

 




LESSONS LEARNED FROM DAD

*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure page.*

One of my first posts was about my mom. It was a Mother’s Day post and I discussed the ways I am becoming more like her every day. I didn’t mention my dad at all in it since the post was all about moms. But now it is dad’s turn…

I have always considered myself a “daddy’s girl.”  Even when we didn’t see eye to eye during my wild years, he has always been the person I turn to. The person I call when I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how many times I have called my dad and he immediately said, “What’s wrong?” (Hey dad, sorry for making you worry so much!) I’m quite sure when he cried on my wedding day those were tears of joy since Ryan would now be the one that had to deal with me. HA!

Nowadays? My dad is someone I can sit down with now, have a beer and watch a movie and just laugh with. I love that! Dads never really seem to get the credit they deserve.

In honor of Father’s Day quickly approaching, I sat down and thought about everything my dad has taught me. Okay, not everything since that would be a long post… but the good stuff. The stuff that really makes sense now.

Self Defense

One of my earliest memories is my dad being in Jujitsu and coming home and showing me moves. He only did the sport for a short while but throughout the years he would teach me how to break a mans grip… or if that fails, “Poke them in the eyes or knee them between the knees.”

You never really know what a scary place the world is when you are little. As I grow up I learn how important this was for my dad to teach me. I think it also brought self confidence walking down the street alone as a single woman.

Take care of your car and it will take care of you

Damn. This is something I wish would’ve hit home sooner! I have a terrible history with taking car of cars, getting in wrecks… I never really paid attention driving when I was younger and my record shows it. Once I finally purchased my own and realized what a huge purchase a car is, what is needed for continuous maintenance to keep it running… I have.. knock on wood.. been accident free. My car has been across the country 4 time, it is 5 years old, and is still kicking! (AND it’s a Ford! Ha!)

Never get a credit card

I just didn’t listen to my father when I was younger because you know what? I got a credit card. A few of them. And I’m still paying them off even though I never ever use them. Listen to my dad… don’t get a credit card!

We’re not all bad

He meant that in regards to men. At times I cried he was also known to say, “All men are assholes” but that is besides the point.

My dad was there through many heartaches and tears and he taught me that there ARE good men in this world. Seeing my parents in their marriage and working through the good times and bad made me realize what kind of person I was looking for. I never settled and I found him!

Girls can do anything

Want to know what my dad got me for Christmas one year? A BB gun. That same year my mom picked out an American Girl doll for me. My dad always showed me that it was okay to do things that are out of the box for a woman. He would take me fishing, play catch outside, and set up targets for shooting. Barbies were still always my favorite but it was still fun to go outside and play in the mud sometimes!

Work hard to get what you want

My dad is such a hard worker. He drives 2 hours round trip to work everyday not including traffic. Gets up at 4am. At one point he was driving across the state and sleeping in a truck. He did what he had to, to provide for our family.

In turn, in college, went to school full time and held multiple jobs. I have worked jobs that were over 40 hours a week with no overtime pay. I started an Etsy shop, I started a blog. I have big dreams and know I need to work hard to achieve them. I think that is one of the reasons I fell in love with Ryan. He is such a hard worker and I knew he would always take care of me and our future family.

You are never alone

Growing up can be pretty scary. Especially when you graduate and can’t find a job. Or you find a job that is across the country. Or when you move in with a guy for the first time and you are miserable. My dad always reiterated that I could always come home. They were always a phone call away. No matter where I am at in this big world, I know I am not alone in life.

What have you learned from your dad or father figures in your life?




LIEBSTER AWARD

*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure page.*

I was nominated by the lovely Brianne over at Collins Celtic Crafts for the Liebster Award! If you are a blogger, you have probably heard of the Liebster Award. If you aren’t one or weren’t aware of what it was… well now you have read the rules and know what I now have to do since I was nominated.

But what is a Liebster Award? I have visited a TON of blogs (seriously, try googling Liebster!) and this is what I’ve figured out:

  • This award exists only on the internet and it’s given from one blogger to another.
  • Throughout the years, the “rules” have changed and there are different variations.
  • Liebster is German. It can mean, “dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, etc…”
  • New bloggers are chosen as a way to market and promote them from one blogger to another.
  • It’s sort of like a chain letter and depending who you are, it can either be annoying or awesome! (I personally think it’s a great way to support one another in the blogging community while also having your readers find out more about you!)
  • If you are nominated you can choose to accept it or just ignore it (obviously no one is forcing you to answer the questions!)
  • You can be nominated multiple times and just answer the various questions asked! There are also different names for online awards but they are all sort of the same.

So there it is… the Liebster Award. And here are my questions!

1. What/where is your dream vacation?

I once read about a cruise that goes around the world… it takes like 6 months and costs oooh $75k but hey, a girl can dream, right?

2. Why did you start blogging?

I have always been interested in writing but never felt like I could make a career out of it so I didn’t pursue it. As a hobby I have always had blogs that I never let anyone know about (even one in college that was pretty successful but I remained anonymous so it couldn’t go too far), diaries/journals, you name it. So now that I have the chance to stay home I wanted to really put my all into a blog and see where it goes. I would love love love to be able to make this my full time job and stay home with my family.

3. What is your favorite dessert or treat?

Strawberry Cheesecake!

4. Apple or Android?

Apple! I made the switch in 2013 and haven’t looked back!

5. Tell us a funny story or hidden talent!

I don’t think I pay attention when I walk. Okay, actually I know I don’t pay attention. I have gone through multiple screens and even slammed into a few glass doors. My most embarrassing was at the mall when I was like 14 at Gap. I was leaving and BAM. It hurt SOOO bad and it was so loud everyone at the cash register looked up. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

 

And the nominees are:

Lauren at EllDuclos

Vee at The Lovely Who

Marina at MarinaTayylor

Julia at Sensible Chaos

Nicole at Nicole & The Couches

 

Questions for the nominees:

Why did you start blogging?

What is your favorite quote?

Cats or dogs?

What three hashtags describe your blog?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

 

That’s it! I can’t wait to read your posts!

Thank you again to Brianne of Collins Celtic Crafts for the nomination! Go check her out!




ULTIMATE BLOG CONFERENCE LIST – US EDITION (AND SOME CANADA)

Blogging as a career is a new concept to me. Of course I’ve heard of people that do it but I never thought that I could do it. As it becomes more of a reality to me, I feel like I can’t find enough time to read about everything that comes along with the “life of a blogger.”

I keep reading that you need to spend money to make money but spending is hard to do when you are scared that you are going to fail.

I’ve decided that one of my goals as a blogger is to attend a conference. I feel that days jam packed with information will be money well spent. The only problem? There are so many out there! It takes a lot of research so to make it a little easier on you, I’m going to share with you all of the conferences I found across the country. Let me know if you have been to any and have any feedback! Some of these have already taken place in 2017 but I have signed up for their email lists for when their 2018 dates are announced. The conferences listed are for bloggers but there are also TONS of conferences for entrepreneurs in general if you are interested in that.

2:1 Conference

From the website:c “The 2:1 Conference is a faith-based conference for homeschooling parents who blog (not just about homeschooling), or are active in social media. ” – October 20-22, 2017 in Herndon, VA. FREE! The only catch? You have to pay $200 to reserve your spot. When you show up, you are refunded. If you skip out, you don’t get your money.

Alt Summit

This has unfortunately passed (It was January 31-Feb 3rd in Palm Springs, CA – they change locations). It sounds amazing though! From the website: “Alt Summit is THE premiere conference for creative entrepreneurs and stylish social media influencers. At our conferences, you’ll find classes and information for a broad range of skill levels. If you’ve already designed a successful line of products, if you opened your first Instagram account last month, if you’re a social media pro, or if you’re just thinking about starting a future blog, then Alt Summit is for you.”

Bash Conference

TBD for 2018. This year it was February 15-17 in Phoenix, AZ. The website states, “BASH is the premier networking event for entrepreneurs in the lifestyle/entertaining and party blogging community.” Sounds like a good time!

B Connected Conference

This also has passed but also sounds like a good one! I’m going to guess they all sound good! (April 22-23, 2017 in Toronto for reference – it’s always in Canada). Websites states: “The BConnected Conference, Canada’s Digital Influencer Conference, is open to bloggers, digital influencers, Vloggers, Instagramers, business owners, brands, charitables organizations, and not for profit associations looking to enhance their social media and beginner/intermediate/advanced blogging skills. Influencers from all niches are welcome!”

Be Blogalicious

October 5-8, 2017. MIAMI, FL (they change every year). Okay, decision made. I think I’ll choose this one and go to Miami 🙂 Prices range from $300-500. From the website: “Meet smart people. Hear success stories. Connect with brands. Discover what’s working. Discuss ways to create smarter creative content, and engage in impactful marketing. Learn about new programs, people, and platforms that engage your audience and build relationships. It’s all waiting for you at Blogalicious Weekend.”

Beer, Bloggers, and Writers Conference

August 4-6, 2017 in Milwaukee, WI. Tickets range from $145-395.  Beer and writing. Sounds right up my alley! Website states, “Beer bloggers and writers are not only passionate about beer. They are energized by writing about beer, breweries, and the people that make up the beer industry. They are motivated by communicating their views to their communities via their blogs, industry magazines, and social media.”

Blog Connect Conference

This took place in April in Philadelphia, PA. The site states, “This conference is made for anybody who has started a blog and is ready to take the next step and make it better – Blog It Better!

Bloggy Conference

September 15-17, 2017 in Sandusky, OH at Cedar Point! That’s right. It’s at one of the places I recommended to go to if you visit Ohio! I already have plans for this weekend so unfortunately I can’t attend but I think it’ll be amazing! $105 until July 1st and then the price goes up to $120. This INCLUDES your Cedar Point ticket! Websites states: “Bloggy Conference is open to anyone with an interest in social media. We welcome the seasoned pro-blogger, novice and those just beginning to dip their toes into the vast sea of social media. We invite you for a time of learning, networking and cultivating your presence in the online community.”

Blogger Bash

Approaching quickly – July 12-13, 2017 in New York City, NY! This specific event is *invite only* and you must meet certain requirements and then can request an invite. Who is this for? “Blogger Bash is a conference designed for experienced digital influencers. Whether your influence is on your personal blog, YouTube channel, or social channels, we want to help grow your impact. If you’re looking to meet with some of the biggest brands as well as discover unique new products, join us!”

Blog Her Conference

June 22-24, 2017 in Orlando, FL (they change every year) $400. I would love to go to this but I don’t have the funds to make it happen in less than a month. Who wants to go next year?! From the website: “#BlogHer17 is open to anyone and everyone who considers themselves part of the social media and online content creator space. #BlogHer17 is particularly focused on highlighting the skills and talents of women who are raising their voices and creating content online. All genders, ages, ethnicities, interests, and levels of blogging experience are encouraged to attend! We promise there’s something for everyone. (And in case you’re curious, about 10-15% of attendees are men.)”

Blog Life University Conference

September 21-22, 2017 in Concord, NC for $250. The website says it is for everyone – “Whether you’re new or experienced, a parenting blogger, craft blogger, food blogger, lifestyle blogger, super shy, a social butterfly….we’re all here to support one another and connect.”

BlogPaws Conference

Just missed it! May 18-20, 2017 in Myrtle Beach (but they change cities). Website states: “Our 3-day conference jam-packed with educational sessions, brand events and influencer interactions. The conference is designed for bloggers and microbloggers of all levels, and pets are welcome.”

Build Your Blog Conference

Another one that is early in the year, so start get on their e-mail list if you are interested in next year! This was early February 2017 in Salt Lake City, UT. From the site: “We set out to create the best conference for blogs to actually learn and get inspired. After years of going to conferences where the networking was great but the actual content was lacking, we decided to start our own conference where the speakers, classes and even the interaction with brands was all solely devoted to building your blog.”

Click Blogger Retreat

SOLD OUT – bummer! This looks like a good one. This year they are glamping! And last year? Jamaica! Sign up on their website for information about next year! June 13-16 in  PA for reference. From the website? “Star-gazing, s’more-roasting, and storytelling will be high on the list of Click Conestoga priorities, along with our packed agenda of hands-on workshops with amazing photographers, plus a relaxing time with your fellow bloggers and influencers.”

ConnectHer Media Conference

August 5-6, 2017 in Las Vegas, NV for $367. This sounds so fun! At the SLS in Vegas, the website states, “ConnectHER17 will facilitate sessions where guests will leave the event with actual take-away information about business development, branding, social media as well as, facilitate the interaction between influencers, brands and PR.”

Curvy Conference

September 8-9, 2017 in NYC. (Fashion Week) Tickets are $100-$155. The top tier is already sold out. This is marketed for plus size fashion bloggers. The website states, “theCURVYcon is a two day event that brings plus size Brands, Fashionistas, Shopaholics, Bloggers and YouTubers into one space, to chat curvy, shop curvy and embrace curvy. Come join us as we embrace our curves, do a little shopping, and tackle topics like confidence, fashion and style, health, fitness, dating, body positivity and everything in between!”

Dad 2.0 Summit

The date has passed for this year but is set for next year and you can register now! February 1-3, 2018 in New Orleans, LA. The price is $200 until 8/31 and then will go up. From the site, “The Dad 2.0 Summit is an open conversation about the commercial power of dads online, and an opportunity to learn the tools and tactics used by influential bloggers to create high-quality content, build personal brands, and develop business ideas.”

Declare Conference

This conference will be held October 2-4, 2017 in Grapevine, TX for $275. The website states, “Declare is a Christian conference to equip and encourage women bloggers, writers, artists, online marketers, leaders, and disciplers to know God and make Him known through deep community. ”

Design Bloggers Conference

Another one that has passed that was in March in California. If you are interested click the link to sign up for 2018 information when released! This is for a specific niche. The website states: “The Design Bloggers Conference is the only conference specifically focused on the interests of interior design bloggers, interior design bloggers using content to build their business and personal brands, and any design professional seeking to learn more about using content on the social web.”

Everything Food Conference

Can I just pretend I’m a food blogger and go to this?! It just passed but if you are a food blogger, look into it for next year! It was May 4-6 in Salt Lake City, UT for reference. From the website, “Everything Food Conference is for food bloggers who want to grow their blogging business while enjoying engaging, hands-on experiences with other talented and seasoned food bloggers… and, of course, indulge in some crazy-good food.”

Focused Blogging Conference

This was earlier this month so take note for next year! It was May 18-20 in Richmond, VA for $375. The site reports that the “Focused Blogging Conference is a three-day, hands-on conference for bloggers ready to take their blog to the next level with qualified bloggers, as their mentors that work along side limited attendees in an environment that promotes community.”

Food Wine Conference

This conference took place May 19-21 in Orlando, FL. I’m definitely becoming a food blogger! The website states, “The Food Wine Conference brings together bloggers, small business owners, winemakers, chefs, public relations professionals, traditional media, new media, authors and brands. Bloggers gain knowledge and insight to: SEO – Search Engine Optimization, Marketing and promotion on social media channels, Effective writing, Publishing a cookbook, Working with PR agencies, Food photography.”

Haven Conference

This conference sounds amazing! It is July 20-22, 2017 in Atlanta GA for $350. The website describes the conference as, “Sessions focus on improving skills in blogging, decorating, home improvement, photography, writing, social media, brand relationships, book writing, and more!”

Hispanicize

This event took place April 3-6 in Miami, FL. The website states, “The Hispanicize event is a launchpad for creative endeavors, new products, technologies, marketing campaigns, films, books and more targeting Latinos in the U.S. and/or Puerto Rico.”

Home Grown Bloggers

October 27-29, 2017 in Atlanta, Ga. Topic: Monetization. $495 and slightly more if you want a payment plan. This sounds so awesome. It is limited to 18 bloggers so if you are interested.. get on it! At the time of writing this, there are 15 tickets left! From the website: “Spend a weekend in a beautiful lake house in the Atlanta, GA area! This intimate retreat is designed for bloggers who want to spend dedicated time working on their blogs alongside a small group of other bloggers, all learning from one another.”

Idea World Fitness BlogFest

July 20-23 in Las Vegas, NV and guess what? It’s free! You will only be charged $50 if you cancel or don’t attend. You do need to attend but there aren’t strict requirements – you can be a new blogger. If you are a fitness blogger and wanting to go to Las Vegas… this sounds like a great time!

Indulge Conference

The conference took place in early April in Austin, TX but sounds like one to get more information about for next year! The site states, “Take a step away from your busy lives and join us April 3-4th in Austin, Texas for three days filled with fun, laughter, exploration, education and delicious food. You’ll walk away with a stronger sense of community, enhanced skills, confidence in your business and maybe even a few extra pounds. If you’re willing to come, we’d LOVE to have you.”

International Food Blogger Conference

September 29-October 1st, 2017 in Sacramento, CA. Ticket prices range from $145 – $445 on sale through June 30th and then prices go up. The website reports that, “Approximately 250 bloggers, writers, food company representatives, and others will gather to talk, eat, and learn. Come join us!”

IzeaFest

This took place in February in Kissimmee, FL. I am very interested in attending this next year – if you have gone and have feedback please let me know! From the website, “IZEAFest brings together industry leading Brands, Agencies and Influencers from all verticals to provide education, inspiration and connections needed to amplify your digital footprint with a focus on Content and Influencer Marketing.”

Mom 2.0 Summit

After reading about the Dad 2.0 Summit I was thinking I wished I were a dad… now I need to become a mom ASAP. This is set to take place May 2-4, 2018 in Pasadena, CA. Tickets go on sale in September! The conference site states, “Mom 2.0 is a gathering of influencers and leaders who create content online and on air in parenting, entertainment, food, politics, business, marketing, technology, social change, travel and design.”

Pinners Conference and Expo

Multiple cities! Tickets range in price from $7-$150 (based on the Phoenix, AZ conference in October). From the site, “This show is mainly about two cool things: fun classes and plentiful shopping. It will feature nearly 100 top classes from the coolest presenters in the nation.”

ShiftCon

Set for February 1-3, 2018 in Irvine, CA. Prices start at $318. What is ShiftCon? “ShiftCon is an eco-wellness influencer conference focusing on food, wellness, health, sustainability and platform growth. Shifters are part of an online influencer community that seek healthier and more sustainable lives, promote brands that mirror their values, and help causes that speak to their soul. Our influencers span between newbies, light and deep green.”

Simply Stylist

A one day fashion/beauty conference on July 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. Prices range from $250-500 or there is a FREE option if you just wanted to check out the evening portion. I wish I lived out there!  Who is it for? The website states, “Whether you’re a vintage lover trying to get your foot into the styling space, a Pinterest-obsessed social media maven for a beauty brand, or a budding blogger with editorial dreams, the Simply Stylist conference is designed to help you get there – wherever your own unique “there” may be.”

SNAP!Conference

Held every April in Salt Lake City, UT – tickets for next year will go on sale in October and sell out quickly! This conference is targeted towards makers. A note from the website, “We inspire one another and when we connect in ways that comfort and sustain, it is something truly extraordinary. That is why we launched Snap – a community where imaginative bloggers can come together; learn from one another and walk away invigorated.”

Social Media Marketing World

This is scheduled for February 28, March 1, and March 2, 2018 in San Diego, CA. This is a more expensive one at $1597 but if you purchase now during their sale, it is $897! From the website, “Join 5,000 fellow marketers and creators at the mega-conference designed to empower you with business-building ideas—brought to you by Social Media Examiner.”

Southern C Summit

The conference is October 1-3, 2017 in Florida. This is another that is a bit more expensive, but worth it, I’m sure! This conference is for, “online influencers • social media junkies • creative entrepreneurs • seasoned business owners • new business owners • bloggers.”

TECHmunch Food Publisher Conference

This passed (it was in January) but it sounds amazing if you are a food blogger! It’s only one day but sounds jam packed with events! They also held this in Chicago in May.

Wine Bloggers Conference

I think I chose the wrong niche. The beer, wine, and food blog conferences sound much more fun. Ha! This is scheduled for November 9-12, 2017 in Santa Rosa, CA. Prices range from $170-$470 through September 30th and then prices will rise. There are tickets available for non-bloggers as well. From the site, “While the conference is oriented towards wine bloggers and writers, it is also very applicable to those in the wine industry. Winery marketers and communication experts, winery associations, DMOs, and others will prosper not just from making connections with wine bloggers but from the outstanding content as well.”

Women In Travel Summit

This will be held May 4-6, 2018 in Quebec City, Canada. Prices range from $160-400 and are on sale now. Some of the sales have already ended so if you are interested, check it out sooner than later! The conference is, “The premier event for women travel influencers, creators, and brands.”

 

 

So of course there are more out there – they seem to be a dime a dozen. I found a lot with links that were expired or the last conference was in 2015.. so obviously they didn’t succeed. The conferences listed above are those that appeared to be established and successful. Let me know if I missed any!




HOTTEST POOL FLOATS OF SUMMER 2017

*Fire + Wife is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.*

Last year was the year of the swan pool float. This year? It’s too early to tell (I’m gonna throw it out there that I think it’s the unicorn) but there are so many options out there that I can’t wait to get to the pool! I wish they would’ve had these when I was a kid! Check out these fun finds! (And they are all Amazon Prime eligible so you’ll get them fast!) Currently, these range in price from $12-$40 USD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were also cute little floating drink holders I think I need to buy! Which is your favorite? Do you already own some of these? Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day Weekend!