High Five For Friday: My First Days in Arizona

Early Tuesday morning, my boyfriend and I flew to Arizona. We’ll be spending the holidays with his family… that I’ve never met. I was incredibly nervous to meet them all; especially considering I’d be staying with them for 3 weeks. So far, it’s gone better than I could have hoped for. Even though his mom doesn’t speak English (and I don’t speak Spanish), we seem to be getting along. I think she likes me. There are lots of hugs and smiles and she refers to me as “her baby”. So, it all looks good.

Anyways, here are my High Five For Friday for the week.

1. The Family Isn’t Insane. Like I said, everyone appears to be pretty cool. We don’t have any personality conflicts and I haven’t made too much of an ass out of myself. That’s all I could ask for.

2. Arizona is actually gorgeous. So I was dead set on disliking Arizona. I was born and raised in Michigan. I love my green trees and Great Lakes. Arizona is the complete opposite. But it’s breath taking in its own way. We’re going hiking later today and I cannot wait to get closer to the mountains.

3. I had my Schlotzsky’s. Why I was little, I loved schlotzsky’s. It was my favorite place to eat. But the person who owned all the schlotzsky’s in my area went bankrupt and they all closed. However, there is one right down the street from my boyfriend’s parents house. He was kind enough to take me there yesterday. I’ll admit, it’s not as awesome as I remember. They’ve changed a lot. The menu is smaller and they even ditched my beloved slogan, “funny name, serious sandwich”. But still, I was happy to go. IMG_5652

4. Sports Filled Weekend. So I’m going to cheat a bit here. I’m going to an ASU game on Saturday, and I’m excited. My boyfriend went there for undergrad and he’s a huge Sun Devils fan. I’m looking forward to experiencing it. And then for Christmas, I bought us Cardinals tickets for the Sunday Night Football Game. Apparently this was a fantastic gift, because Ivan won’t stop talking about it. He says “it’s the most important Cardinals game in years”. I can’t tell you if that’s true or not, but he’s excited, so I am too. It will be my first NFL game.

5. Mama Gonzalez has been cooking up a storm. My boyfriends mom is an amazing cook. She’s been asking me what I want for dinner every night and I’ve been eating my weight in food. If we ever moved here, I’d balloon up in a heartbeat.

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Today I am linking up with:

The Lauren Elizabeth for High Five For Friday
The Farmer’s Wife for Oh Hey, Friday

 

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Four Things

I saw this fun survey over at JustJacq and thought it would be fun to do. Here is my version of “Four Things”

Four names that people call me other than my real name:

Well, I can only really think of two. My mom call me Liz or Lizzy sometimes, because when I was little I used to cry all the time because I wanted to be named Elizabeth. I just thought it was the best name ever. My immediate family also calls me “Si”, a shortened version of sister. They pronounce it like the Spanish word for yes, not like a character from Duck Dynasty.

Four jobs I’ve had:

Let’s see. I was a softball umpire and a hostess during high school. I was a nanny all through college and now I am working as a graphic designer.

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

I’ll choose the four movies I’ve seen the most.

Romancing the Stone
Beauty and the Beast
The Princess Bride
and… let’s be honest, probably Spice World.

My sister and I both loved Romancing the Stone growing up, so that’s probably my most watched movie of all time.

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Four books I’d recommend:

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Eva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Four places I’ve lived:

Always lived in the same place. Next question…

Four places I’ve been:

Chicago
Australia
Disney World
Washington D.C.

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Four places I’d rather be right now:

somewhere warm or curled up in my bed.

Four things I don’t eat:

Pickles
Nuts
Seafood
Coconut

Four of my favorite foods:

Potatoes
Hummus
Salsa
Bread

Four tv shows I watch:

Chopped
Sleepy Hallow
Gotham
Big Bang Theory

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

Arizona
Mexico
Christmas
…going somewhere warm for vacation?

Four things I’m always saying:

“tell me something I don’t know”
“that’s nuts”
“I’m hungry”
“My big guts are eating my little guts” (when I’m really hungry)

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8 Ways to get Free & Cheap Kindle Books

kindle books

1. Amazon Free Kindle Books
The first and most common place to find free books is Amazon. There are a number of independent authors that offer free books to readers. I would download/purchase anything that sounds remotely entertaining to you because these books don’t always remain free. Sometimes authors make books free as a promotional took for a limited time, so jump on it when you can.

2. OverDrive Through Your Public Library
My library has access to OverDrive. I’m pretty sure this is fairly common. It’s an online database that operates just like your library does. You can put books on hold and create wishlists. You can also sort through books that are “Available Now”. When you go to download a title, it takes you directly to amazon and you borrow it from the website. It’s very easy. OverDrive has a lot of very popular titles and is a great resource. Contact your library to see if they offer it.

3. BookLending.com
I’ve used booklending.com for a long time. You simply add your ebook titles to the site and then people ask to “borrow” them. You’ll get an email saying someone has requested your book and then you login and lend it. The lending is all done through amazon and is incredibly easy. Obviously you can also borrow books from others. You get to keep them for 14 days. The downside to lending is that you can only “lend” each title once. Remember all those free books you downloaded off Amazon? Add them to your BookLending account. Like I said before, those books won’t stay free forever and eventually someone is going to want to borrow them when they go back to full price.

4. Kindle Owners Lending Library
If you’ve got a Prime Account you are eligible to borrow one “Prime Ebook” each month. This is different from Kindle Unlimited, which is a monthly subscription.

5. Kindle First
Each month Kindle offers up four upcoming releases for free. You can only download one of the four books, but you get a free book each month.

6. Smashwords.com
Smashwords is a lot like the kindle ebooks store. It has a ton of titles available, including a number of free and cheap titles. You’ll mostly find independent authors and smaller publishing houses on this site.

7. Monthly Subscription/Borrowing Sites
There are 3 major book subscription sites out there. Think of them like netflix for books. You pay a monthly rate and are given access to a database of books to read. There is Scribd, Oyster and Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited and Scribd offer 30 day free trials and Oyster offers a 14 day free trial. There is also Entitle; but you aren’t borrowing the books with Entitle. You pay a monthly fee and basically purchase the books at a discounted price. It’s $9.99 a month for 2 books. Personally, I don’t like the setup. I’d rather have an unlimited access to titles or buy books at my own pace directly through Amazon.

8. Kindle Lending
Remember how I mentioned kindle Lending when I was talking about BookLending.com? Well if you have friends or family that purchase kindle books, you can share your titles directly with them. You can buy pass BookLending.com process and send the books directly to them.

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High Five For Friday: Prepping for the Holidays

1. Dresses, Dresses & More Dresses

I may have went a tad overboard with dress shopping on Cyber Monday. I ordered a two dresses from Lulus; one for New Years Eve and one for Christmas. The Christmas one is a tad tight, so I’ve been making an effort to go to the gym. The New Years Eve dress has to be altered a bit, but I love it. It’s a fake wrap dress and the deep V it creates is just too loose and deep. So it’s currently at the tailors. I also ordered a vacation dress from Tulle, which is supposed to be arriving today. I’m excited!

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2. I Get to Start Packing

So I’m incredibly weird. I’m leaving for a 3 week vacation on Tuesday and I cannot wait to start packing. I’ve told myself that I can start packing this weekend, so I’m super pumped. I’ve got new luggage to try out and I’m just really looking forward to it. Strange, I know.

3. I Got Around to Mailing My Christmas Cards

I’ve been putting off sending out my Christmas cards… I’ve been meaning to do it, I’ve just been super busy. But this week, I finally managed to address and mail them all!

4. I Somehow Found the Time to Read Some Books

I managed to read not one, not two, but THREE books this week. For those of who who don’t know, I used to be a full-fledged book blogger. I’d read at least 150 books a year. Life got in the way and my reading habits have slowed down considerably. But, 3 books! yay!

5. I’ve Also Been Rocking it Out at the Gym

On top of reading my butt off, I’ve found the time to get to gym. It’s been go, go, go. Unsurprisingly I’ve also managed to come down with a cold. Spreading myself too thin, right before my vacation. Of course. Because traveling is way more fun when you’re sick.

Today I am linking up with:

The Lauren Elizabeth for High Five For Friday

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Thrifty Threads Thursday: Back in Neutrals

So it’s been dark and dreary here and I haven’t been able to get any good shots. I finally just gave up and took some, but they aren’t exactly great. I have to find a good indoor spot for photos. But anyways, I digress.

2 3 4 Shirt (Marshalls – Cupio Clothing) $12 | Skirt (Macys – Grace Elements) $25 | Tights (Marshalls – Anne Klein Sweater Tights) $6 | Shoes (BCBG Final Cut) $12 Total: $55

Today I am linking up with:

Penniless Socialite for Look What I Got
Mix Match Fashion for What I Wore to Work
Sincerely Jenna Marie for Thursday Favorites
Fashionably Employed for Sophisticated Style
Induffinietly Me for Tremendous Tuesday
Sincerely Jenna Marie for Thursday Favorites

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10 Apps to Save You Time & Money When Traveling

travel apps

I love travel apps. I honestly do. I love how convenient, helpful and informative they are. I’ve picked out a few of my favorites that I use to keep my travel plans affordable and organized.

TripIt

Why I Love it: TripIt is great because it keeps all of your travel information in one place. It’s like an itinerary that organizes your flight information, dinner reservations, activities, hotel reservations and everything in between in one place.

Restaurant.com

Why I Love it: I use restaurant.com all the time when I’m traveling. You can search for restaurants in your area that have deals. This may not be important to everyone, but I’m always trying to find a good deal when traveling. Plus, all the restaurants have ratings, which is always helpful. You can also search for a specific type of food, so you can usually find whatever you’re in the mood for.

Groupon

Why I Love it: Oh Groupon, how I love you. I use groupon during vacations all the time. It’s a great way to find local restaurants and activities. I’ve purchased tickets to festivals on groupon, restaurant coupons, museums tickets, kayaking passes… it’s really a great resource.

GasBuddy

Why I Love it: If you are going on a roadtrip, you simply have to use GasBuddy. The app searches for gas stations around you and shows you their current prices. There is also a feature on the website that estimates your total trip coat based on your car make and model. It will also show you the best places to stop for gas along the way.

Wifi Finder

Why I Love it: So you’re on vacation, but your hotel doesn’t offer free wifi. That’s alright, because you’ve got wifi finder. Wifi Finder is here to help. You can search for both free and paid public wifi spots. You can even filter it by venue (bar, cafe, hotel, restaurant, etc.) and provider.

SpotHero

Why I Love it: I am in love with this one. Late this sumer Ivan and I had to go to Chicago. We decided to drive instead of taking the train in because it would be cheaper. However, when I found out how much the hotel wanted to charge for parking ($30 a night!), I knew I had to find an alternative. Enter SpotHero. You can search SpotHero for all the parking options around a certain location. You enter the time frame you will be there and it shows you the cost. It’s generally cheaper than the normal price and your spot is guaranteed. Plus, you can usually find promo codes online to bring your price down even further.

Skype

Why I Love it: If you’re traveling overseas you’ve got to use Skype to make calls. Skype makes video calls over the wifi, not your phone like facetime does. Way cheaper guys.

Uber | Lyft

Why I Love it: So Uber has been under fire lately. I have to say though, I’ve used it countless times and I’ve never had a problem. I like uber for a number of reasons. Here is how it works. You open the app and you see a map and a bunch of tiny little black cars around your location. It gives you an estimation of wait time (I’ve never waited more than 10 minutes). Then you type in where you want to go and it gives a fare estmate. Then you can send for a driver. You can then track their movements on your phone. You are also given their license plate number, name, phone number and photo. Once you get in the car, the timer starts. You never exchange money and you don’t tip. It automatically comes out of your credit card/debit card after the ride. You can also split Uber rides between friends. Which is fantastic, because I never have the right amount of cash to split rides. I also love the fact that I can send my “route” to people. Call me paranoid, but if I’m in a place i don’t recognize, I send my route to someone (usually my overprotective sister or whoever I’m going to meet). That way if something goes wrong, they know where to find me, because they have an exact trail of where I went. You also rate the drivers.

Lyft is a competitor of Uber. I’ve only used Lyft once (it’s not available in my hometown), but I had a great experience with it. I don’t think you can split the cost with lyft and I don’t think you can send your route to people. I may be wrong, but I didn’t see these options. Everything else is exactly the same. I do know that Lyft won’t match you up again with someone you’ve given a rating of 3 or below.

Mint

I use Mint everyday, but I also think it’s an essential tool when traveling. Mint keeps track of all your credit cards and bank accounts. It’s a quick and easy way to monitor all of your accounts for unusual activity when traveling.

This post was created in collaboration with RelayRides.com. RelayRides is a peer-to-peer car rental site. This is a great way to get around on your vacation. You simply enter your travel dates and search the city where you’ll need a car. You can then select the car you want and begin the rental process. You can also make a some extra cash by loaning your car out on the site. Don’t worry – you’re car is fully insured during rental. You can also rent your car out while you’re on vacation. You park at the airport for free and they take care of loaning your car out while you’re gone. The free partking feature is currently available in Los Angeles and San Francisco. For a list of airports offering the standard service, click here.

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A glorious Morning at golden Harvest

The other morning my Dad and I decided it was time for a whimsical trip to the Harvest. Let me explain Golden Harvest to you folks.

Lansing isn’t exactly known for it’s food scene. However, it is known for Golden Harvest. It’s one of those cult like places that makes you fee like a part of something bigger. Whenever I see the logo on a bumper sticker on the car in front of me, I immediately feel a kinship with the driver.

IMG_5443 Golden Harvest was made for Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives. It’s a grimy, small and cluttered; but it truly has the most amazing food around.

There are only about 40 seats (a high estimation) in the entire place and it’s always packed. You’re not allowed to wait inside the building; no matter if it’s snowing, raining or sleeting. In the spring (30-40ish degrees in Michigan), I waited about an hour in the rain. They were nice though and brought out umbrellas for everyone to share. Kudos to you, Harvest.

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If you have a party of two people, you will probably end up sharing a table with others. They don’t take reservations, they don’t do takeout and they won’t seat you unless your entire party is there.

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My favorite thing about the Harvest is the array of different people you see there. You’ll find businessmen, college kids, families, retirees and everyone in between. They blast loud (usually techo-based) music and play old black and white drive in movies at all times. It’s surely a sight to see. Which is great, because you’ll usually be there a long time.

Service is slow, but it’s oh-so worth it. Check out my scramble from the other day. Absolutely fantastic.

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Plus, look at this fantastic menu. Doesn’t it all sound amazing? It is. They also have a specials board that changes daily. I’d recommend ordering off that whenever possible.

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Check out that hot chocolate in the pic below. Just tell me you don’t want to go there. I dare you.

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