December 16, 2017

A Compendium Of Chic Gifts: For When Only The Most Stylish Presents Will Do

Everyone has that one friend, the one that you love and dread buying for all at the same time. It's usually because they are super chic and you know that you will get to look at all the most hip and cool gifts, but then there is always that creeping dread and the concern that you might just get it wrong? Well, that is, of course, a possibility. Happily, though you can avoid it if you follow our guide below, so read on for a compendium of the chicest gifts out there right now!





Succulent Plants
Succulents are a major trend right now and giving them as a gift will earn you mucho points in the style stakes. Of course, you can get all green-fingered and buy the plants and pots separately and arrange them yourself.

Although buying them online to be delivered that very day like you can here at CamelbackFlowershop.com is a much more convenient option. After all, gift giving is complicated enough, why make it more so?


Afternoon Tea Hampers
If the recipient of your gift is of a sophisticated mindset then why not treat them to an old English style afternoon tea hamper?

Traditionally these contain edible delicacies such as scones and jam, cookies, and cakes as well as a selection of tea and even a bottle of bubbly to make things really special. You can get ready made versions, or buy a basket and fill it will items of your own choice. You can even bake your own sweet treats and scones by following the recipes available at marthastewart.com.


Soundwave Pictures
For the stylish, music enthusiastic in your life, why not get a gift that combines their love of sound with the personalized touch? What I am talking about here is a sound wave image.

These are visual representations of a phrase or clip of a song that are printed in color in high-quality paper, and then can be framed and use to decorate a wall in their home.

The big advantage of picking an item like this is that they can choose the sound they wish to be turned into art for themselves. That means they can have anything from their wedding vows to their babies first words, to a snippet from their most favorite song. Something that is bound to make it a gift they delight in.


Gorgeous Jewels
Lastly, do not forget the power and impact of good jewelry on any recipient. Of course, before you make your gift purchase you do need to think carefully about the person you are buying for. Consider all the details including the style of the piece, as well as its color, and the metal it is made from.

Particularly on trend at the moment is jewelry that includes geometric shapes, as well as rings of all kinds. Especially if they are layered together to create a bohemian and relaxed look.

Remember too to check to before investing in any earnings that the person in question has their ears pierced. Finally, do be sure to get a cute gift box in which you can deliver your offering, as this will make it look all the more special.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

December 14, 2017

7 Quirky Themes For The Picture-Perfect Party

The pressure is piling on in the run up to your birthday. Not only are you flustered that you’re getting another year older, but your friends are on your case about throwing the best birthday party ever. You are always slightly on the panicked side when it comes to throwing a birthday bash. You never quite get the theme right and you spend longer trying to plan the darn thing than actually having a good time while you’re there. Well this year it’s time to sit back and let the party magically take care of itself. Yes, you may have to purchase the odd decoration and seek out a charming cake, but the ideas are here and ready to go. Look no further, for you have an inbuilt party planner right at your fingertips which will make sure your party contains all of the little touches you need.


1. Amazing Alphabet
Here is a no-nonsense theme which has the potential to bring a whole lot of giggles. The advantage of this theme means that every party guest has quite a lot of freedom in what they choose to wear. Secondly, it involves little preparation on your part. The ‘Alphabet’ theme involves each guest coming to the party dressed as something which begins with the first letter of their name. For example, if your name was Steven, you might choose to come dressed as Superman or a sausage. The possibilities are literally endless and it means that your friends can keep it tame or go outrageous. Giving them the freedom to make their own decisions can often be a huge help!



2. Marvellously Medieval
Why not go back in time and throw the most marvellous medieval bash there has ever been. You could make it very Game of Thrones-esque, with authentic looking props and decorations. There are even some amazing Viking drinking horns which you can keep your beverages in. Small touches like this will make your party go from average to amazing. It’s also a fun theme that kids can get involved in too. A medieval theme can also be pretty flexible in terms of costume. Guys and girls can pick a fictional character and emulate it with a touch of an accessory or they could go full blown knight in shining armour. The possibilities are endless.





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3. Creative Creatures
There is nothing more fun than dressing up as your favorite critter. You can create a zoo-themed party to die for in a few easy steps. Everyone’s choice of animal would be different, from slithering snakes to tenacious tigers. Your party photos will end up being extraordinary with spots and stripes parading all over the place. You could even get a face-painter to help out with everyone’s make up and give a professional vibe. You could also hone into a specialist animal theme, such as 'under the sea' or 'farmyard'. If you set a more specific theme you can mimic the decorations and activities to match!



4. Cool Cookery
If dressing up isn’t really your thing, then don’t worry. There are some awesome party themes which have a creative element, but don’t involve any form of fancy dress. If you’re looking for a really unique theme you could consider getting a cooking class. You could go with something simple, but delicious like making your own pizzas. There are professional cooking instructors that can come to your home and teach you everything you need to know. You and your friends will have a wonderful time and you’ll learn a little something too. Not only will you be brushing up on your cooking skill, but you’ll get to eat up every ounce of deliciousness afterwards as well!



5. Tantalizing Tea Party
The epitome of party sophistication has to be a tea party. You and your friends can dress up in your fanciest day time attire and indulge in snazzy sandwiches and tea time snacks. Tea parties don’t have to be as traditional as you think either. If you want to stray away from the classic cakes and nibbles you could go all American. You could fill up some traditional cake stands with mini burgers, friends and chicken dippers and create a modern-day tea party. This theme has the versatility to make it as casual or dressy as you want it to be. You also have the freedom to pick and choose your favorite foods and incorporate them.






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6. Original Outdoorsy
If you are lucky enough to have a birthday in the summer months why not give your house a break and take it outside. Build a bonfire and set up some tents. Toast some marshmallows and crack out some old sing songs with a guitar. This is probably one of the most laid-back party themes that you will come across in this list. If this is your style then it couldn’t be easier. Get all of your guests to bring some supplies to contribute to the evening and wrap up in your warmest and comfiest clothing. This kind of party is great for bringing friendship groups together. The combination of late night chats and huddling around the fire exchanging stories is bound to bond you all together.



7. Forever Young

Transport yourself back to your younger years and hold a classic sleepover, complete with pillow fights, midnight feasts and ghost stories. Feel the nostalgia running through your veins as you and your best friends climb into matching pajamas and pile into a homemade den built out of mattresses and blankets. Start up a movie marathon and cook up some delicious popcorn. You won’t even feel like you’ve got a year older!


Try and choose the theme which represents you and your friendship group. There is bound to be one idea out of these which leaps out at you as the obvious choice. Party planning is a breeze when you’ve got the basics. Once you’ve decided on the theme you can let your creativity run free and truly embrace your special celebration.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

December 12, 2017

Your Dream Vacation Doesn't Have To Be A Financial Nightmare

Do you have somewhere in mind when someone starts talking about dream vacations? We all have those places in the world we would love to see, but when it comes to making reliable plans and getting out there, we often think the cost will be way too high....but it doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact, what's stopping you from taking your dream vacation isn't money - it’s a lack of planning and creativity. In today’s guide, we’re going to go through some of the things every household can try out to make their magical thoughts of a trip abroad a lot more grounded in reality. Let’s take a closer look at some of your best options.



Be Realistic
OK, so let’s start the ball rolling by being realistic. The simple truth is that few people in the world can afford the best suite in a $10,000+ a night hotel looking over a beach in the Maldives. And it’s not something anyone would sensibly suggest would be a good fit for the credit card. However, if you’re realistic about your plans, you’ll soon find that it’s more than possible to get out to the Maldives if you are prepared to bide your time. And even if it isn’t this summer - perhaps it could be the next, or the one after that. With a little savvy saving in the long-term, you will be surprised at how much you can put away.

Create A Fund
Saving is a big part of turning any of your dreams into a reality, and it’s no different for traveling. Work out your budget, including all your different saving commitments, and set up a dedicated travel fund. If you make sure the money is put away as soon as you are paid, you’ll find you won’t even miss the extra cash after a while. And by the time a year goes around, there will be a substantial amount of money in our account that you can use to place a big deposit.

Use A Credit Card
As pointed out over at https://www.thepointsmom.com/, credit cards can be a valuable tool in reducing your travel costs. It’s a simple process, and as long as you are disciplined about paying off your full balance every month, you can rack up the points incredibly quickly by using your card for day-to-day spending. Take a look around on credit card comparison sites and find one that rewards you in travel points - or air miles if you are a frequent business flyer.

Fly Off-Season
Finally, there’s a sweet spot for traveling to pretty much every destination in the world. The trick is to make sure you are never going at peak season, and travel out before the weather takes a turn for the worst. According to https://lifehacker.com/, most places in the northern hemisphere, prices of flights and accommodation go right down towards the end of September and early October. It's late February/early March if you are going to a Southern Hemisphere country. And if you try and go away somewhere near the equator, the good weather can continue long into November - and maybe beyond.  Good luck snagging yourself a bargain!

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

The Best U.S. Weekend Getaway Locations


There are a lot of places to visit throughout the United States, but if you are looking for a weekend getaway, then you can beat these iconic locations.

New York City
New York City more or less speaks for itself. There is nowhere quite like it anywhere else in the world. New York City is packed to the brim with things to do, places to see and things to eat. Every second that you spend in New York City will be an experience you won’t forget. If you are looking for museums to explore, then the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a good choice, and The American Museum of Natural History is also an excellent visit. If museums aren’t your thing, then there is a lot of theatre throughout New York, and you can enjoy both on and off-Broadway productions. If that wasn’t enough, New York has a such a vast choice of restaurants, bars and cafes that you will easily find something to your liking. You can stay in a hotel or rent an apartment for you stay and once you’ve visited once you’ll want to come back over and over again. There are other cities in the United States and across the world, but there is only one New York City.

Vermont
If you are looking for something at a slower pace, then Vermont is the place for you. You can find plenty of places to enjoy a relaxing weekend in Vermont and experience everything this state has to offer. Comfort Inn & Suites at Maplewood might be a good choice and can make a great jumping off point for other things to see and do in Vermont. A lot of Vermont is about relaxation, getting back in touch with nature and pushing away the worries of real life. You can relax in your cabin or explore the paths and lakes that Vermont has to offer. Vermont is one of the most beautiful, tranquil and picturesque places in the country. It is also well known for its salt water taffy which is sold at most stores and is something that any visitor should try. It also makes a great gift for those who couldn’t join you or friends and family alike.

Miami
Miami mixes relaxation with hustle and bustle perfectly. It has everything that a city has to offer while also providing excellent relaxation spots all along the beach. The warm weather and relaxed attitude of its population also go a long way to making Miami one of the most well-loved weekend getaway locations in the United States. You can sit on the beach and soak up the sun, or you can walk around the city and soak up the culture, the choice is yours. When it comes to culture, Miami has a lot to offer from the Brass Art Museum to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. However, if plants are more your thing, then you should make sure to visit the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens or the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden as both are a lot of fun walk around and explore.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

December 11, 2017

Where to Head if You’re In Need of Some Winter Tranquillity

Winter can be a stressful time, and sometimes the best thing you can do is just get away from it all 
and spend some time in a relaxing and tranquil spot. It might sound like an unconventional way of 
getting through the holiday season, but maybe you deserve it after a long year of working hard. 
If you’ve decided this is something you want to do this winter, you need to find the destination that’s 
going to be right for you and whoever you’re taking with you. Here are five examples of locations 
that could be ideally suited to you and your needs.

Great Smoky Mountains
Getting back to nature and enjoying everything it has to offer might be your major priority right now. 
If that’s the case, you should definitely think about heading to the Great Smoky Mountains, which 
straddles both North Carolina and Tennessee. You can go fishing, ride horses and explore the winter 
landscape. It can be a truly invigorating experience.



Kauai, Hawaii
Hawaii is a beautiful part of the world, and one of the best parts of it is Kauai. You might not have 
considered going all the way to Hawaii, but what better way could there be to escape your ordinary 
life this winter than by heading to a real-world paradise? The shore and beaches of Kauai are idyllic 
and you won’t get bored of them even during the winter months.

McDowell Mountains
Out in Arizona, you’ll find the McDowell Mountains. It’s one of the most beautiful regions in the 
whole country. The stunning landscapes and quiet tranquillity of the area makes it the perfect place 
to retreat to during the winter or at any time of the year. The CopperWynd Resort And Club is one of 
the most popular resorts to stay at, but there are many ways to enjoy the area so make sure to 
explore all the different options if you choose to stay there.

Cayo Costa, Florida
Cayo Costa is in Florida but it’s miles away, both figuratively and literally, from the busy cities of the 
state. This little island destination is quiet, withdrawn from the busy nature of modern life and just a 
perfect place for someone like you to relax this winter. The weather will be better here than in most 
parts of the country too. You should definitely consider it if you’re looking for a destination where you 
can relax and do nothing else.



Killington, Vermont
If you want a snowy ski resort as your getaway this winter, there are few places better or more 
naturally beautiful than Killington, Vermont. You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy what it has to offer 
either; the major attraction for many people is the fact that it’s home to some of the greatest spas in 
the entire country. There aren’t many places that are better for rest and relaxation.

Each of these locations offers something new and unique to people looking for a relaxing and tranquil 
break this winter. Delve into each of them in depth to decide which is right for you.
 
*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.
 

December 7, 2017

Here's How To Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever



As 2017 closes, a new year is set before us. Like a new chapter in your favorite novel, 2018 dawns, and you are likely thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. Look at the year as a new start, and no matter how the last year has gone, there may be things you can set your mind to which will benefit your life. In this article, we will give you a few resolutions you can add to the list, but be sure to take the time to look at all the different areas in your life, and plan improvements where they are needed.


Change your diet
After Christmas, you will be desperate to start eating healthier, what with all the turkey, chocolate, and alcohol you may be consuming. Cutting back on the calories is a lifestyle change we all need to make, because as well as losing weight (if that’s important to you), you will feel better in your day to day living. So, cut back on junk food, ditch the processed meals, and find healthy recipes which are of higher nutritional value.

Learn a new skill
Is there something you have always wanted to learn? From playing the piano to learning to drive, make this the year when you finally get round to picking up a new skill. Life is too short to put off learning for another year, and procrastination will literally never get you anywhere.

Plan a holiday
Holidays can be expensive, but it would be a shame if you had to sit surrounded by the four walls of your house all year round. You can get some good deals abroad if you book early, or you could consider an outdoors adventure with the options provided by Campsmart. Taking a holiday is a great way to unwind, so this is something you need to stick in your year’s itinerary.




Have more fun
All work and no play will make Jack (and Jill) very dull people, so remember to set aside plenty of time to have more fun in your life. There are some ideas here to get your mind thinking, and remember to involve all the important people in your life into your fun activities. Having fun is subjective, but think about all the things you used to love doing before life got in the way, and spend time doing them again.

Broaden your mind
Don’t just write ‘broaden your mind’ on your list, but focus on specific activities that will prompt you to get motivated. The way you do this is up to you, but you may consider adding more books to your reading list, learning a new fact a day on Ted Talks, or visiting new places. We can live a blinkered life sometimes, but gaining new perspectives and learning new tidbits of knowledge will shape your way of thinking.

Practice gratitude
Basically, we need to try to stop moaning about our lives. While it's true that there are always things that will get us down, there are always things to be thankful for. Perhaps you have supportive family around you, or friends you can turn to in the good times and the bad? You may not like your job, but be grateful you do have one. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for, and make a conscious effort to remind yourself of them each day.




Exercise more
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? This is the traditional resolution people make, though starting at the beginning of a new year can be a bad idea. It is cold outside after all. Still, you can exercise at home if the weather upends your jogging plans, or you could join a local gym or sports club. Be sure to do something you enjoy too. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, so joining a dance class or taking up bike riding may be just the thing to motivate you into keeping fit.

Get in touch with people
There will be people you see everyday, and people that you only see on rare occasions. Get in touch with those folks who have grown distant and rekindle old relationships. Picking up the phone is a start, but making an effort to visit them may make both your days. It’s natural to lose touch with people over time, but it would be a shame to lose a friend because you can’t be bothered, or ‘don’t have the time’ to contact them.

Be charitable
Our world is full of people who are only content to take from others, but we have very few willing to give their time or money. So, don’t be a taker, be a giver. You could pick a charity close to your heart and make a monthly donation. Or you can go the next step and actively involve yourself in a charity near to you. From food banks to homeless shelters, you may be in the position to help others. This will benefit you as well. By giving, you will be making a difference in the world, finding those opportunities where you can change someone’s life for the better. It only takes one person to make a difference, and that person could be you.

Cut out bad habits
Another popular resolution, but one that people break all too easily. Smoking, drinking too much, eating junk food, being lazy...these bad habits are dangerous to your health. If you are struggling to give up a bad habit, consider visiting a counselor to gain some useful strategies, or even attend a self-help group. If you do fall back into bad habits, you don’t have to wait until the start of 2019 to start again. Begin today, and your health will improve as a result.

Bottom line
These are only a few examples, but they will improve your year if you add them to your list. However, there are bound to be a few more worth adding, so take stock of the year gone and contemplate ways to make next year even better. We hope you have a fantastic 2018!

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

The Emotional Power of Giving


There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that says:

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody."


There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that “giving” is beneficial to both the recipient and the ‘giver’... but today, scientific research is providing compelling insight to support the notion that giving, whether this be in the context of time, money, or talent is a powerful way to find purpose, fulfillment and meaning in life.

This power of giving can be particularly helpful when people face emotional difficulties, as it shifts the focus from internal to external.  When the the focus is internal, we often ruminate, and get lost in the windmills of our mind where we mull things over and over which exacerbates any anxiety we feel.  

Whereas, when the focus shifts to being outside of ourselves we are able to gain some perspective and clarity, moreover when we give to another we receive the gift of increased self-esteem, pride and self-worth.  When we help another, we feel we have the power to make a difference, and this empowered feeling is quite the opposite to the stale impotence one often feels when facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties that keep us trapped in our own mind.

Indeed, many psychologists working in the areas of suicide intervention and prevention recommend a key step is to get people ‘outside of themselves’ and shift their focus from internal to external.  Often, they recommend the person facing difficulties does something altruistic that creates value -- such as sweeping an elderly neighbors' driveway.  These random acts of kindness are known to create a more positive affect in the giver than the receiver.

The idea of altruism having a similar effect to a runner’s high, known as the “helper’s high”, has been around for at least twenty years; a variety of psychological studies have reported people helping another report a feeling of being more strong, energetic, and happy -- they get an endorphin rush similar to the endorphin rise experienced from a person running.

This article looks at several ways you can activate this principle and reap the emotional rewards of ‘giving’ to others:


GIVING COMPLIMENTS
“Giving” isn’t restricted to acts of service such as sweeping your neighbor’s drive, or giving money to someone in need -- it can be as simple as giving someone a heartfelt compliment at the grocery store; taking the time to “see” that person and take an interest in their world.  

Today, we are all so busy that our interactions are often transactional to the point we lose sight of the person behind the interaction.  In taking an interest in the person you are giving a powerful gift; one of connection and making that person feel significant and valued enough to have an interest taken in their life.  The power of remembering someone’s name, or something they are doing can be a fantastic way to build rapport -- and, again, it gives the recipient a sense of feeling important; not in an egotistical way, but in a way they feel like they matter.  In a world where so many people suffer with low self-esteem, helping a person to feel like they matter is a very powerful gift you can offer…yet, out of our own shyness or insecurity we often restrict what we say, in order to protect ourselves from the potential rejection of giving a compliment that lands in an uncomfortable way.

Indeed, one has to be mindful of the notion that giving a compliment or taking a significant interest in the person you are talking to could be perceived as either flirtatious or as a thinly veiled attempt of getting something you want from that person.



GIVING APPRECIATION
Simply showing appreciation via words or a simple gift can have a profound effect on a person.  We are all emotional creatures and the best reward we can get is an emotional reward that makes us feel appreciated, empowered, respected, valued and important.  Think of the sacrifice a service-person makes; in fact, take a look here, as these simple gestures of bespoke military coins offers a physical token of gratitude and respect for what that person is doing for their country. Appreciation isn’t restricted to those saving lives though; appreciating your partner for cooking dinner or picking up the dry cleaning lifts that person.  We all want to feel valued and respected; rather than taken for granted and unappreciated.  Find ways to appreciate the little things and your life will become much richer.



RECOGNIZE LANDMARK EVENTS
Taking an interest in other people’s significant life events, whether that’s a celebration of something like an engagement or a condolence of something like a death in the family - people like to feel connected and valued with others; sending flowers, as an example, is a great token to just let people know their life matters just as much as your own.



RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
World Kindness Day, which falls on November 13th every year, encourages people to go out and deliver at least one random act of kindness.  A random act of kindness is something simple, and often anonymous, whereby the giver isn’t expecting anything in return… no recognition, no applause, no reward.  They are acting from a place of pure giving.  The student who holds the door open for a teacher with her hands full of books… the train passenger that offers their seat to an elderly passenger… the checkout girl that makes sure she compliments every single customer she sees or just takes a genuine interest in their wellbeing.  

The movement of random acts of kindness is founded on the principle that kindness can change the world.  Go out today, and find just a few ways you can engage in a random act of kindness; whether that’s donating clothes, food & supplies to homeless shelters, volunteering at a youth organization or simply giving your time for an old person that is clearly lonely and would like someone to talk to.

Remember, the “secret to living is giving!” 


*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

December 6, 2017

Lifestyle Changes

I think we can all admit there are a few lifestyle changes that we need to make. Whenever anyone thinks of lifestyle changes, they automatically assume it means diet and fitness. While that is a huge part, it doesn’t necessarily mean just those two. To have a healthy lifestyle you need to take the whole picture into account. It might be the fact that you only get 5 hours of sleep each night because you’re too much watching TV or on your phone. It could be that you’re in a really unhealthy relationship that is damaging you as a whole. But for this article, we are mainly going to focus on your health, and how changes to your diet can change your overall level of health.


Diet
Most everyone is partial to a takeaway once a week. Cooking can just be so much effort after a hard day at work. But a lot of people turn this takeaway into twice a week, or they’ll cook the quick & easy chicken nuggets and french fries because cooking anything more is just too much effort. But this poorly balanced diet is going to be doing your body so much harm, even if it is making you happy at the time. Do you ever feel really sluggish after a takeaway? Well, that's because your body is struggling to digest what you’ve just put in it, plus you’re not really gaining any nutrients from it. If you’re looking to improve your overall health, then diet really is key.

People who stick to clean eating say they feel more awake, have more energy, and have much better sleeping patterns. This is all because they’re fueling their bodies with what they actually need. If you eat a well balanced diet, and cut out at least half the amount of saturated fats and sugars than you previously consumed, we can guarantee you’ll have so much more energy within days. Supplements are also great for giving your body those extra vitamins and minerals that they so desperately need. A natural health store will sell everything you need in terms of vitamin supplements. Different ones do different things, so do your research beforehand and make sure you’re getting the right one for you.

If you want to improve your diet, but feel like you don’t have enough time to cook healthy foods, you need to stop fooling yourself. You can batch cook healthy lunches that’ll really boost you for the rest of the day. Chicken, brown rice or pasta, and vegetables are a bodybuilders favorite meal prep idea. However, you can also use tasty meats such as flat steak or chicken. Cook a few days worth of meats & vegetables and leave them in the fridge. Then each night all you have to do is put a pot of pasta or rice on while you’re cooking your dinner. Start the day off right with something nutritious such as oatmeal, or poached eggs on toast and you’ll definitely have enough energy to make a healthy dinner. Staying hydrated throughout the day is also essential if you want to maintain your energy levels.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.