It’s Like Living at the Beach – a Summer’s Stay at The Caravelle Resort

As a lot of you may have seen via my social media post, the kids and I spent a few days in Myrtle Beach at the Caravelle Resort. We had gorgeous weather , and quite the view.

There’s a dozen great properties along the beach to stay at, but I absolutely LOVE that the Caravelle. One, it’s been newly remodeled and its absolutely amazing on the inside. They also have an on site restaurant with reasonable prices, AND a Tiki Bar by the pool near the beach access – which really means, you literally don’t have to leave your hotel to enjoy your beach vacation.

My most favorite part of the Caravelle is that they are made like apartments – they have a full kitchen with a refrigerator/freezer, stove, microwave, coffee pot, cabinets with dishes and utensils. Making a stop at the grocery on the way in for snacks, drinks and maybe some breakfast/lunch items will really help your budget.


These rooms aren’t the rooms you crammed into with your parents over summer vacation – sharing a bed with your sibling, or being the one who has to sleep on ‘cot’ bed they brought to your room and you struggle to step over each other to go to the bathroom. They literally have ROOMS – as in multiple – and in some rooms you even have – wait for it – MULTIPLE BATHROOMS! So if you are traveling with a semi-large family , or a large family, there is no longer a need to get 2 rooms! The great thing is they are still super affordable; in fact, when reviewing prices between The Caravelle and other basic rooms, it’s CHEAPER than getting 2 basic rooms at a nearby hotel.

The kids absolutely enjoyed the pool , hot tub, and their favorite , the lazy river. There are plenty of sun chairs and seating, and what I love is it’s just a short walk to the Tiki Bar AND to the beach.

Of course the main attraction – the beach -was great. We had brought chairs and enjoyed relaxing, listening to the waves – and watching the kids build sand castles and have some much needed fun.



Their on-site restaurant the Santa Maria, has a wide variety of food to choose from, and is one of the best meals we had the entire trip. You can sit in the restaurant and eat, they have tables outside, or you can take it to go and eat in your room (or the beach, but I would recommend highly against that because the seagulls get pretty aggressive when they smell food!)

I would of been completely content with NEVER leaving the property, except for our fun night safari at TIGERS Safari (more on that soon, keep an eye out) and of course the warm, and ever so fresh Krispy Kreme donuts (it’s a tradition).

For more information on The Caravelle Resort, or things to do while in Myrtle Beach, check out Vacation Myrtle Beach and while you’re there don’t forget to enter for their most EPIC Myrtle Beach Giveaway EVER – enter to win your very own oceanfront Myrtle Beach Condo valued at over $100,000!!!

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Outdoor Home Improvements – You’re Gonna’ Love These Ideas!

It’s that time of year (and I am so grateful, summer is my favorite and I was getting really tired of the dreary winter weather). I have been itching to get outside and start working on my yard, my flowers, my porch and deck, and I have so many awesome ideas that I’ve found that I had to share them! You can make same great outdoor home improvements without spending an arm and a leg!

Put Up a Pergola
If you have an outdoor dining area you can put up a pergola that will not only make it gorgeous, but also give you some needed shade on those hot summer days. You can also hand a few lights with it to finish your look and it will be a gorgeous addition to your outdoor cookouts and dinners.

Multi-Use Furniture
Get a piece of furniture that can be multi-use. Furniture with built-in storage (it gives you seating and hides away your accessories for the yard or pool without looking messy) or a lounger that can be used for a bench as well.

DIY Seating
If you don’t have the budget for furniture – don’t worry! You can use low cost concrete blocks and cover them with a foam pad and pillows. I have seen people use this for seating around a firepit (just take the cushions and pillows in when it rains, or in the winter)

Lighting
Outdoor lighting is my favorite part of summer decorating. They are fun and pretty, and it gives you just enough light – its like stars in your yard! You can get outdoor lighting pretty cheap and they come in lots of different colors and shapes and designs. You can put them on your porch, wrap them around a tree, or even make an outdoor oasis and have them circle around your entire yard/porch. Don’t forget to add some to any outdoor dining areas. I love the lights we have on our outdoor table!

Decks

Though it can be a bit more expensive than my other ideas, a deck can be a long lasting investment not only into having a wonderful summer, but value to your home as well. Places like Decks & Docks Lumber Company offer some great deals on railings, hardwood and accessories

Landscaping/Hardscaping
I love walkways and edging made with stones and  rocks. Because it is a bit more expensive, you can just select a smaller area to make gorgeous. I have an idea to include some stone around my flowers – it really just makes the flowers pop!  

Trellis
Depending on the layout of your yard/porch and driveway or street you may want to consider a trellis. They can be a gorgeous addition that separates your oasis from your driveway or street without blocking the gorgeous view of your yard.

Outdoor Rug
I never thought I was one that wanted to deal with an outdoor rug, but it can really pull your look together (plus it makes it a lot easier to go barefoot).


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Tips for Surviving a Long Drive

If you have a trip or a long drive ahead of you, you need to know the best way to get you there safely and comfortably. There is more to a road trip than packing – “Highway Hypnosis” is common when you aren’t prepared for what lies ahead.
More than 60% of drivers say they have gotten behind the wheel while sleepy according to a recent study. So you need to be prepared for your long drive to stay alert and energized. These tips should help you get there:

This post is sponsored by Volvo Cars North Miami.

GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Don’t start out sleepy – too many times have I went to bed late packing or preparing for my trip, and getting up early around 2 or 3 a.m. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to be well rested for any day, let alone a long day of driving. Be sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night for a few nights before your trip – that way you know you are plenty well rested.

BODY FUEL
Having a snack bag with vitamin-rich and healthy food can help keep you stay focused on your long drive, versus stopping and having fast food. Think nuts, cheese, apples, grapes, and so on.

KEEP HYDRATED
Keeping hydrated gives you maximum energy – however the downfall to that is more stops for bathroom breaks.

CHEW GUM
Chewing gum can actually help keep you awake! The repetitive process increases circulation and alertness – and it works with sugar free!

SIT UP STRAIGHT
Make sure that your seat is properly adjusted for your body ,and tilted for maximum blood flow. If you start to feel tired, or in that ‘highway hypnosis, sit up, take some deep breaths, move from side to side and wake your body up!

KEEP YOUR MIND ACTIVE
Listen and sing along to some music, or my favorite, use a book on tape to keep your brain active.

Whatever you do, don’t drive tired! Pull over, take a nap, get out and get some exercise! Your destination isn’t going anywhere – be safe!

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Did You Know: The Meaning Behind Your VIN Number

Most people think a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is a random list of numbers and letters assigned to a vehicle – but it’s much more than that.
The VIN offers an abundance of information for drivers, car insurers, and anyone else who might need or want to know the vehicles history. The VIN can help the police prevent theft and fraud, and it can also help you avoid buying a lemon, or wrecked vehicle!

Your vehicle’s VIN is a mix of 17 letters and numbers that are displayed on the drivers side dash, under the windshield, and on the drivers door inside where it connects with the rest of your vehicle (like when you open the car door). The VIN is a unique marker for your vehicle and make identification much easier.

This post is sponsored by Winner Hyundai.

CAR HISTORY
Many companies store, share and sell information using the VIN number. The biggest source of VIN information is the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Repair shops also keep track for routine maintenance, accidents and flood damage. Local law enforcement and fire departments may have a list of them as well in their database for accident and thefts.
Insurance companies and car dealerships (think CARFAX) and junk and salvage companies also access and share info gathered on vehicles through their VIN number.

CHARACTER 1-3
The first three characters of a VIN number are called the “World Manufacturer Identifier” The first letter corresponds to reveal where in the world your car was made. For example, 1,4, and 5 usually mean the U.S. 2 means Canada, J for Japan, and W for Germany.

CHARACTERS 4-8
While the standards vary between manufacturers and countries, these figures relay info about your car’s safety features, engine type, transmission, body, etc. It’s also a reference for mechanics and anyone who may service and work on your car.

CHARACTER 9
The 9th character of a VIN is a ‘check digit’. It verifies that the VIN is legitimate and its not fraudulent.
The U.S Department of Transportation established a complex mathematical equation that multiplies and divides the numbers and letters of your VIN to arrive at the check digit – if it doesn’t match, something fishy is going on.
You can actually go online and use some tools to check to see if your digit is correct.

CHARACTER 10
The 10th character will actually tell you what YEAR the vehicle is.
Cars from 1908 – 2000 typically carry a letter A-Y (for example A is for 1980, B is 1981, etc). Cars built between 2001- 2009 use the numbers 0-9 in order, and in 2010 many companies reset the lettering system.

CHARACTER 11
Character 11 is the specific manufacturing plant for the specific company that made the vehicle.

CHARACTERS 12-17
This is identifying marks for your car specifically. Pretty much the last few digits tell us when your car came off the assembly line. These last 6 digits are unique and will never be the same as any other vehicle.






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DIY Debt Reduction vs. Professional Debt Relief

If you’re looking at past due balances on credit cards, and creditors are beginning to call and leave messages about the status of your accounts, you might be wondering what your options are. It’s increasingly common for individuals to find themselves in precarious financial situations after hardships or poor money management.

It’s not easy to bounce back, and once the creditors begin calling, you might start paying closer attention to the ads of companies who offer to take all your stress away and settle those debts for you. But what’s the better option? Should you do it yourself or should you leave this task to the professionals?

We’re going to lay out the pros and cons of both, and help you make your own informed decision.

Professional Debt Relief

Professional debt relief companies handle cases like yours all the time. They call companies regularly, and negotiate all day long. There isn’t an emotional component to their conversations. They simply have the goal of reducing your overall payoff amount and getting you the most savings so you can reduce the time it takes to pay off your debts.

Often, because of their affinity for negotiating, they may be able to accomplish lower payoff amounts than you could on your own. They also dedicate their working hours to negotiating on your behalf, and that’s time you may not have to spare.

There are a lot of pros to calling companies who specialize in debt reduction, but they come at a price. While they may do this regularly and remove the stress of having to confront your debt yourself, they charge fees for their services. Those fees may reach amounts as high as 25% of your total debt owed. Other fee structures may charge up to 40% of the total money saved after negotiations. Either way, there’s a potential hefty fee for those services, and that can make a significant dent in your wallet when you’re trying to become debt free.

DIY Debt Relief

If you find that settling your debt is your best option, apart from bankruptcy or a family loan, you might want to consider navigating it yourself. After all, you’d be handling everything on your own and not having to pay any fees that negate the settlements you work hard to negotiate.

Confronting your debt takes courage, and many people fear this as they consider doing it themselves. But when you take charge of your debt negotiations and work hard to clear your financial slate, you have an intrinsic motivation to get- and keep- your finances in order. And that kind of motivation has the potential to change your habits long-term.

It may be worth it to take a hands-on approach with your debt settlement, but begin the process with realistic expectations. Negotiations have the potential to drag on for months, even years.

Debt collectors operate with a goal of getting you to pay the highest possible amount on your debts. They will likely adopt strategies that provoke emotional responses from you, which can make your efforts feel exhausting. You will need to deploy patience and understand that it may be hard, but it can be worthwhile if you press toward your goal.

While there are benefits and drawbacks with both approaches to debt settlement, it’s still a very personal decision. You have to consider factors like time, resources, and stress as you determine the appropriate path you take. Whatever you decide, we commend you for taking the steps to become debt free. 

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