A life under the Pink Umbrella!

The Pink Umbrella Girl

Almost all of us are walking around with a smart phone now with loads of apps and instead of playing a game, I like to save my data for apps that are going to make or save me money! I also enjoy apps that are consumer friendly and worth my time and lucky for you I have shared my top three apps for making or saving money!

Ibotta- This app works for both Apple iOS and Android and has three ways to earn money from 284 stores and restaurants three different ways 1. Sending receipts, 2. Linking a loyalty card, and 3rd by doing Mobile in-app purchases. (Personally, I have earned money using the first two options only at this point.)

Using the first and second options Ibotta is very simple to use-

  1. Find offers on a variety of items including everything from produce, toilet paper, protein powder, cereal, toothpaste and even magazines! I love this app because the options are endless, and I am usually able to find something I need on each shopping trip that I can get paid for!
  2. Buy the products you selected from the app at the participating store. *Tip* When I am in store I open the app and check the product barcode using the in-app scanner to make sure my product is eligible. Some items can even be bought up to five times on one receipt which means you are getting paid five times for buying the product-this is perfect for when you are stocking up on something.
  3. Redeem your offer by taking a photo of your receipt. Once you take the picture and submit your redeemed products you are credited in the app. Once you reach a minimum of $20 you can cash out via gift cards, PayPal, or Venmo.

***Interested in joining Ibotta to earn cash back rewards on everyday purchases? Sign up here using my referral code and get $10 to start earning! https://ibotta.com/r/sxcxg

Receipt Hog- This app is incredibly simple and feels a lot more like a game than making easy money! You literally take a picture of your receipt from restaurants, grocery stores, pet supply stores and even gas stations to earn “coins” which you can redeem for money towards Amazon, PayPal and Magazines. Easy Peasy! Some receipts go towards playing their version of slots where you can win any number of coins or sadly none at all! *Tip* Once you have redeemed your receipt using the Ibotta app, use the receipt again to get coins towards additional money!

Target App-Formerly Cartwheel- I love this app when I am couponing because when you open the app-at the top of the screen it has a barcode in the search bar and when you tap that it turns your phone into a barcode scanner that looks up offers, prices and more while shopping in store. Pick up an item in store to scan and if an offer is available you can then add the item to your list and show a barcode at checkout for the list of your offers. Offers range from 5% and up making it worthwhile to scan every item in your cart before checking out so you don’t miss saving money! *Tip* This app is so handy because when I use a coupon with a Target offer I get double the savings!

***TIP*** In the rare opportunity when I use a coupon, a Target offer and an Ibotta redemption and then submit the receipt to Receipt Hog-well friends-welcome to some extreme money saving! 😊

Ibotta Lifetime earnings! My goal is to reach $500 in 2018!
Ibotta App open and ready to go!
Receipt Hog App Oink! Oink!
Target App-formerly known as Cartwheel

I compare snorkeling and/or swimming in the ocean in Aruba to swimming in an aquarium! The water is as clear as a swimming pool and the ocean life is not only colorful but also plentiful! Our second full day in Aruba I spent most of the day with my personal snorkel gear in the water in front of our resort with my husband swimming behind me with the waterproof camera as I anxiously pointed out fish, coral, seaweed and sea urchins. Later that afternoon on a walk through the resort lobby my husband spoke with the DePalm Tours tour guide desk about setting up a three-hour snorkel cruise for the next day that included two stops. I was elated because I could only imagine what I would see beyond the reaches of our resort!

The next morning, we checked in at the DePalm Pier (conveniently located between the RIU and Hilton resorts) and was issued wrist bands confirming our trip. We then boarded a 40-foot-wide catamaran with approximately 50 of our closest vacationing friends in Aruba and set sail, but not before quick introductions including safety measures and what to expect for the trip.

Our first of two stops, Boca Catalina, was breathtakingly gorgeous and located on a small secluded bay on Malmok Beach. Because this area is technically in a bay, the calmness of the water in Boca Catalina was also a great place for the experienced snorkeler or a newbie. Sometimes it can take a few minutes to get adjusted to figure out to work your snorkel, feet flippers and life vest all together to really experience the underwater paradise. There was very little of a current if one at all and was very peaceful bobbing up and down seeing numerous kinds of fish, seaweed and corals approximately 10-12 feet below you.  We saw numerous fish and sea life and could have easily spent another hour at this location!

Our second stop was at the Antilla Shipwreck, also known as Aruba’s Ghost Ship is a sight to see! Above the water looking down you see what is left of a 400-foot German freighter called the Antilla which sank in 1940. On this day while the sky was clear, the water at this location was incredibly choppy which made visibility to the depths of the shipwreck very difficult even for a skilled swimmer. Due to the current that was around the shipwreck, myself and others kept feeling as if we would float off into the ocean toward Panama if we did not keep our boat in sight every few minutes! Hovering in buoyancy over the shipwreck it was amazing to see how the fish and ocean life had turned this vessel into their own home swimming in and out of windows and the deck of the boat. I was able to make out parts of the boat that were covered with corals and sponges without diving into the depths. While this was an awesome stop on the snorkeling tour-I would personally have preferred more time in a different calmer area as there was a lot more sea life and to view.

One of my favorite parts about this trip besides seeing all the fish and ocean life were the views of the Aruba from the water. We were even able to point out the California Lighthouse from the sail boat!

Our Snorkel Trip:

Tour: DePalm Tours- Palm Pleasures Snorkel Morning Delight

Stops: 2- Boca Catalina and Antilla Shipwreck

Price:  Adult-$69 Children $52 (3-12 years)

Includes: Snorkel gear, snacks, beverages and open bar

Recommended to bring along:- Sunglasses, bathing suit, waterproof camera, beach towel and sunscreen.

Enjoying the sail boat ride and taking in the views of Aruba! In the distance is the California Lighthouse!
Biba Dushi translates to 'living a sweet life' in the native language, Papiamento of Aruba!

Pepper, my Chihuahua came into my life 13 years ago at 7 weeks of age. She has been with me through so much of my life-it’s hard to think of a time when she wasn’t. Pepper was by my side for while I finished my Bachelor’s degree helping me study, all my crazy work schedules, a breakup, meeting my husband, she even played a huge role of my engagement (she wore the ring first!), getting married, moving three times that included relocating my Florida dog to snowy winters and lots of car rides including visiting over 10 states!

While there are countless great memories with her; June 9th, 2013 was a day that would make me appreciate them more than ever! My husband and I woke up on that Sunday morning much like other weekend mornings with Pepper snuggled in between us sleeping peacefully. That morning I picked her up and noticed something was different about my loving and playful Chihuahua-she seemed lethargic and almost limp in my arms. I sat up and tried to get her to stand up and she would immediately fall over and was not able to support her weight. I sprang out of bed with her and tried again for her to stand-this time on the floor and again she would fall over. I also noticed that she was having seizures-her whole body would shake a few times hard and then stop.  Through tears I phoned my mom for advice and she told me to immediately take her to an emergency veterinary office.

Upon arrival to the veterinary medical hospital-my husband and I told the veterinarian Pepper’s symptoms and went over her diet, veterinary care, food intake and habits. An assistant began timing Pepper’s seizures and took her back for a full body examination including blood work and a full body x-ray. Meanwhile I was frantic because I saw dollar signs-but was so scared for my dog and didn’t want her in pain! My husband was so supportive and understanding and said that we would not spare any expense in taking care of Pepper and for the veterinary office to continue with what they felt was in best interest of her medical needs. I am still thankful for my husband’s calmness in Pepper’s storm! We met with the veterinary doctor who said that there were no blockages seen in the x-ray and were continuing additional blood tests and they would keep her in the hospital and monitor her there with an IV for fluids and care. It was hard to go home without her but knew that she was still alive because of their quick thinking and great care.

The next day the emergency veterinary hospital called to talk to us about blood test results for Addison’s Disease. Addison’s Disease also known as primary adrenal insufficiency and hypoadrenocorticism, is a genetic condition not only in dogs but also surprisingly can occur in humans as well. This long-term condition that is not able to be cured but only treated and happens when the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones for the body to live. When there is a deficiency of hormones symptoms such as overall weakness, muscle weakness, low blood pressure, dehydration, weak pulse, collapse, lack of appetite, low temperature, shaking, blood in feces, diarrhea, vomiting and depression.  Addison’s Disease can be a very tricky diagnosis also because the symptoms could also be symptoms of many other conditions and a blood test along with a knowledgeable veterinary office is imperative for making sure the diagnosis is correct!

Pepper was given an initial hormone replacement and the veterinary office calculated dosage for her age, weight and blood test results that would include an injection in the form of Percorten once every 28 days for the remainder of her life. Additionally, she would require Prednisone medicine daily by mouth to main the hormone medicine injection. My husband and I were so thankful that she survived, and we began to learn about her condition and her care moving forward.

The most important thing I learned about Addison’s Disease care was that it required good owner compliance to ensure medications are given on a timely schedule as without hormone replacement can cause the dog to lapse into another crisis that is no fault other than the owner.

While there are additional costs for Pepper’s care, including a monthly office visit for her hormone replacement injection and daily medication-it was well worth it to know that she had a manageable condition and lots of love in the future! With proper veterinary treatment and home care Pepper has thrived with Addison’s Disease and has completely returned to my playful sweet dog!

Pepper at 10 weeks old
Pepper wearing her cone of shame on the car ride home from the veterinary hospital with her Addison's Disease diagnosis
Miss Pepper feeling better but still sporting her bandage from blood tests
Miss Pepper enjoying one of her favorite activities-loves going for walks in the park and spending time in the sunshine!
Hard to believe this is the face of Addison's DIsease! So proud of how strong she is and able to overcome!
Prepared for any weather that Ohio throws at us!
Look for the Angels in your life-they are everywhere! I am thankful for Miss Pepper!

What I have learned about caring for an Addison’s dog-

-Get to know and trust your veterinary office  (preferably one that is known to treat Addison’s Disease) as you will see them monthly for injections.

-Give veterinary phone numbers, medication schedules and dosages to animal caregivers for care and in case of emergency.

-Monitor the dog’s day to day stress to a minimum as major upsets can affect the dog’s  immune system.

-Immune system can be more fragile due to diagnosis-keep diet, vaccinations and care consistent to help avoid additional illness.

-Request blood tests every 6 months for up to one year after diagnosis to ensure dosage is correct for hormone replacement. Additionally request blood tests prior to any surgery or tooth cleaning to ensure the dog will be healthy prior to undergoing a procedure that could alter hormone levels in their body.

-Reach out on Social Media and online- I found a great group on Facebook called C.A.R.E (Canine Addison’s Resource and Education) Website is https://canineaddisons.org/dogs/ I honestly can’t say enough about this amazing group and site! C.A.R.E. is helpful in so many ways for questions about care, medicine dosage and comfort knowing that you are not alone in caring for your dog!


I’d like to think that I got my green thumb from my mother, a master gardener and my father, a forester! However, since I currently live in a condo-it can make using the green thumb a little tough. I have a patio that’s about 10 x 15 feet and from Spring till late Fall I can be found on the patio. Also on the patio is a bistro table set, bird bath, bird feeder, humming bird feeder, Day lily’s, Zinnia’s, Cherry Tomato plant and an extensive herb plant collection.

While the flowers are beautiful-my garden herbs are functional for cooking and baking and is pennies on the dollar for what the same herbs would cost fresh in a store! Every spring I look forward to the garden centers bringing out their new plants-thus signaling Spring has officially arrived! I typically grow Rosemary, Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Mint, Oregano, Basil, Chives, and Lavender. Because my kitchen is close to the patio, when I am cooking I’m able to quickly cut some Parsley or Rosemary to add to my dishes.

This fall before the first freeze I looked out at my patio and wondered what to do with my Herb plants? I had recently done some shopping at Aldi and picked up Herb shears and some Olive Oil and decided to freeze the cut herb’s, so I was able to use them cooking out of season.

I was able to purchase what I needed at Aldi, which is one of my latest favorite places to shop! (They have some pretty great deals!) I was able to find herb scissors, Olive Oil and a silicone container to freeze the herbs and Olive Oil in.

*Please note that Aldi has a lot of seasonal products that are not available year-round-so when you see a good deal there-be sure to grab it-you might not see it again! *

Steps for how I preserved my garden herbs in Olive Oil:

  1. I cut my herbs down to the soil as there was a freeze warning for that night-no better time than the present?
  2. I rinsed off all the herbs to make sure I wasn’t bringing in any friends (bugs) or anything else yucky and let them dry on paper towels before cutting them up so they would not clump together.
  3. Next, I separated the leaves from the branches or stalks as I only needed the tender pieces of leaves. I used the Herb scissors to dice up the leaves into very fine pieces so there were no clumps or large leaves left.
  4. I filled the silicone container slots about ½ full of Olive Oil and dropped in pinches of the cut herbs and put the silicone container into the freezer until frozen solid (1-2 hours).
  5. Lastly, I popped out the frozen Olive Oil and Herb mixture and stored them in a freezer in a freezer container for handy use when I am cooking.
My garden herbs trimmed from the plants and ready for rinsing.
These Herb scissors were very sharp and came in handy to make the time go by faster!
Olive Oil and silicone container from Aldi.
Ready for the freezer!
Garden herbs preserved in Olive Oil and ready to use now or in the future!
Cooking with my garden herbs!
Approaching the airport-I can see the RIU Palace Antillas (the white tower hotel)
The RIU Palace Antillas Hotel and beautiful crystal clear water!
Our first room decorated for our 10th Wedding Anniversary!
View from our 6th floor balcony
These liquor cabinets are standard in every RIU room!
I could've sat there all day!
The makings for a Corona ad!
The Villas Suite was sweet!
The private pool for the Villas!
Made friends by the pool even!
Why yes that is a chocolate fountain!
Land and Sea Entree at the Aruban Restaurant!
Desserts from the buffet!
This steel drum player made my night- he played a mix of songs including Ed Sheeran!

In the past few years my husband and I have traveled on short vacations (3-4 days) to Aruba, Punta Cana, Puerta Vallarta, Jamaica and again Punta Cana. We enjoy these island trips to reconnect and relax and keep technology and day to day life stateside. It has seemed though that every trip would be compared back to the first place we visited, so when we planned our 10-year anniversary trip we both were eager to go back to Aruba to see if our comparisons lined up.

Aruba, is a small Dutch island in the southern Caribbean Sea approximately 500 miles north of Venezuela, also keeping out of hurricane alley (another bonus). The climate is drier than that of Jamaica or Punta Cana but when you are by the coast it can be very windy and is hotter and drier as you move inland. The airport accommodates visitors from all over the world and is one of the few destinations that allows visitors to complete customs before returning home to the USA. We did not feel we needed to arrange transportation through the resort prior to arrival as you are able to contact a cab from in front of the airport to your resort and in our opinion, feel that the island is very safe for tourists.

We stayed at The RIU Palace Antillas, formerly a Westin property, which was renovated in 2015 and one of the few if not only adult-only all-inclusive resorts on the island. This was our fifth visit to a RIU Resort and we felt for the value and accommodations were well worth the price. This resort was in our opinion set apart from others for being Adult Only (no kiddies in the pool), all-inclusive 24 hours (includes limited room service menu even!) Free WIFI throughout the hotel, four restaurants and full buffet for dining, and unlimited top shelf alcohol including Bacardi and wine.  We visited this resort in 2015 about 4 months after it had first opened and since then stayed at many other RIU’s and always compared other trips back to the first one we experienced.

Upon arrival we were greeted with glasses of champagne and a concierge to bring our luggage to our room. We reserved a sea view room for the eight nights. Our room upon initial review was quite large including a main sitting area with couch, table for two, large flat screen television, small refrigerator stocked with sodas, water and beer, and four full liquor bottles. There were doors that led into the bedroom area that included a king size bed with nightstands, dresser and another flat screen television. The bathroom included two sinks, a bath tub, small closet area with safe, and a glassed-in shower with rain shower head.  The balcony was 3 doors wide and gave view to the beach and partial resort. Overall the room was sufficient but noticed that minimal updates had been made to the rooms compared to the overall resort.

Unfortunately, after only three nights and a service call due to our air- conditioning was not working satisfactorily, we asked to move rooms. The resort was very apologetic, and we were able to relocate to a Villa Suite the next day. Upon arriving at the Villa Suites, we wished we would have booked our vacation there and not in the tower rooms! The Villas are rooms separated from the tower rooms and have their own salt water pool as well. These rooms were new and not just renovated property-these compared to the rooms we enjoyed at other RIU resorts such as in Punta Cana.

We enjoyed the private pool as part of the Villas as my husband and I are not too social while on trips and found the larger pools on the property very crowded and on the verge of rowdy. We spent our time 75/25 between the pool and beach. The beach is one of the few that I have visited that the water is literally crystal clear with beige sand! There were beach chairs under tiki umbrellas that filled up entirely too fast many days-we found ourselves getting up earlier than we do at home just to get a spot on the beach-which again made the Villas nice because you could leave your towels and sunscreen on a chair there and walk to the beach for a swim if you didn’t reserve a beach chair.

One of the areas that we saw welcomed change in the resort was with dining. In the past at RIU resorts, guests needed to make reservations for restaurants other than the buffet and now it is first come-first serve. We found the Steak House and Krystal (French restaurant) filled up rather fast, however with Italian and an Aruban restaurant and the buffet-there were still lots of options. Our favorite restaurant which was new to the resort and us as well was the Aruban restaurant. We ate at the Aruban restaurant 5 of the 8 nights-the food was amazing to say the least and served traditional Aruban cuisine of Land and Sea (steak and lobster), grilled Grouper over Polenta-our favorites. The buffet dinners included a pasta bar in the evening, seafood, steak, pork, vegetarian and were easily compared to that of what cruise ships are known for-if not better! Breakfast was always served in the same area and was buffet style including a full juice bar, pancake/waffle bar, omelet bar, egg bar and even Mimosas! Lunch/snack items were served in a lower buffet area and included burgers, chicken tenders, fish filets, tacos, pizza, guacamole and chips etc. If you went hungry or couldn’t find something to eat at this resort, we always agreed it was your fault!

Most evenings after dinner we would walk around the resort or to the neighboring resort (also a RIU) for an evening drink, a snack or people watching (always worth it). Every night the resort had something planned whether it was steel drums serenading the buffet dinner, a beach dance party, a circus act, live music including a saxophonist, jazz and other music as well as a nightclub. There was always something to see or experience!

We decided to bring Yeti cups to the resort as we are not big drinkers but liked reducing waste, and keeping our drinks cold-this also limited the number of times we had to go to the bar for, refills-so I felt this was a win-win on many levels!

Tips were included with the cost of the resort however we found many times that concierge, servers, bartenders, and service professionals went above and beyond their call of duties. We were always met with smiles and friendly hellos-there was not a single time we didn’t feel we were not being taken care of and felt completely spoiled!

Overall, this resort won our hearts again-adult all-inclusive, the friendly staff, dining, the beach, the pools, entertainment made this again our favorite RIU!


I am excited to participate in the Oak Creek Elementary Holiday Shop this Saturday 10 am to 2 pm! I will have over 50 LipSense colors and Glosses including the Diamond Collection!!!