Aug 2, 2015

Earning Cash Back with Splender, Yes, Please!

I started using Spender a few weeks ago when I was asked to try it out and so far I love it. I do a lo of online shopping so the chance to get a rebate on what I purchase is a win-win. I've used other online rebate stores before but non have compared to Splender. This site is incredibly smooth and doesn’t bombard you with tons of ads or crazy colors. 

To start, the cash back deals are more than double at the places I shop. I buy thing from Sephora on a monthly basis and with Splender, I not only got 10% cash back, but I won't have to wait almost 90 days to receive the money. I'll have it cleared within 45 days of my purchase and not have to deal with quarterly periods. That's a total win. I normally don’t buy items on Sephora’s sale section so saving a few bucks thanks to the 10% back in the end worked out really well because I was able to buy a bit more. 

The process was simple: I logged into my Slender account, searched Sephora, and when it redirected me to the site I made the purchase like I normally would have. Splender gets a kick back from Sephora for sending me there and then they share a portion of that with me. It’s an extra discount

Their site is really easy to navigate and I liked that they have my staple store: Sephora, Famous Footwear and Frederick's of Hollywood. I was able to purchase some of my favorite items from Sephora and not get a rebate but also got a great deal on a fragrance sample pack. It was great to have everything in one site instead of going back and forth between sites to find great coupons. 

So nice to earn some cash back when I purchase my staples

The goods in their new home

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Aug 1, 2015

Going Back to the Gym: One Step at a Time

Oh the gym. My ultimate enemy! I'm part of that group of people that can gain a pound just by looking at food but can't lose one if even if I cut off a limb. Not unless I'm super serious about it. About five years ago I was at my prime thanks to spending 1.5 hours on the elliptical 7 days a weeks (yes, it was a bit excessive) and relying on a diet of vodka and baby fist fulls of food. It was extremely unhealthy but it worked, as does any diet when you're in your 20's.

Now, my body is singing a different tune. I got so used to eating heavy meals that I'm actually hungry for breakfast because I started to cut back on how much I eat for dinner and I get so tired doing laundry in my apt. I live in a 3 story condo with the washer/dryer on the bottom level and my bedroom on the 3rd so I do a lot of walking up and down stairs. But I shouldn't get tired doing that. A all! So I'm getting back to the gym and really trying to push myself into creating and sticking to a routine that I can handle.

I recently re-joined 24 Hour Fitness because it's walking distance from my apartment and already started going last week. I'm trying to work my way up to a few spin classes a week, pending my work schedule, and doing 60 minutes on the elliptical in on shot at least 5 times a week. I've gotta say, these first few days have been tough. Just using the elliptical for 30 minutes make the walk up to my bedroom dreadful. But I can't stop and I won't. I also know not to push myself.

I do plan on doing some form of exercise everyday even if it just means taking the long way to get coffee on a weekend day or attempting to do yoga--which would be good for my mind as well as my body. I've been lucky enough to finally have a steady schedule so I'm going to keep going to the gym before work on the days that I can't spin, and then force myself to work a bit late and then head on over there on the days that I can take a 7 or 8pm spin class.  I can already predict my reaction to it all: pure dread. But it's gotta be done. It all starts with one day that will turn into a week, month, and so on.

So let's see how it goes. I'm feel like I'm going to have every minute accounted for between working out regularly and spending time in the kitchen prepping my meals but it'll be all worth it and will totally make my 100 days of finding happiness so much easier when I can do laundry without wanting to collapse on my bed and fitting into my super cute clothes again.

Having a Dedicated Writing Workspace

I've been working on this site for almost three years now and it's finally starting to pick up. My readership is going up and companies are starting to take notice and area reaching out for collaborative opportunities. That's all really really cool but it does add a bit of pressure. I'm eager to write great content with more frequency and want to make sure everything flows really well. My photos have to be on point, the writing stellar and I need to get into the habit of writing constantly instead of going really hard for a few weeks and then disappearing for a month or so.

I realized that I'm the kind of person that doesn't thrive in chaos and I need tons of structure to get anything done. Be it having a pretty kitchen to cook in, an easy routine for the gym, or a great space for writing. Sitting on my bed is really comfy but I tend to have Netflix playing on my iPad as I write and then everything goes out the window. Did I also mention that I can be easily distracted sometimes?

I don't want to buy a desk for my apartment because I haven't found an affordable one that I can commit to but I do have an amazing balcony with the more perfect view that I've been using as my writing area here and there and I'm thinking of making it my permanent station. It used to be a very boring space and the weather in SoCal wasn't the best for the last couple of months so sitting out there wasn't at all inspiring. Now that the weather has warmed up and I've decorated it a bit it's become my little corner of serenity after a long day at work or thinking too hard about things that bother me. Sitting out there, in this beautiful area that I'm slowing filling up with pretty and peaceful things, not only gives me a great place to sit and do my affirmations but it also reminds me that I would love to write for a living and it inspires me to get to work!

When I'm out there with my laptop I use the iPad to pull up my editorial calendar, I have the notebook that I use to write down ideas while I'm at work on hand and I listen to non distracting music like Air or Zero 7. It's been working really well for me and I'm pretty sure every successful blogger has started off in a similar fashion in order to create good writing habits.

So what do you guys think? Do you have a special area dedicated to writing or are you able to do it anywhere with wifi and a place to sit down? Do tell!

31 Days of Clean Eating

Here I go again! After months of constantly eating out and cooking delicious (yet not so healthy meals) for my boyfriend I hopped on the scale last week and realized that it was time to cut back! I just had another birthday yesterday and it reminded me that the older I'm getting, the harder it is to bounce back after vacation or dating related weight gain.

Ever since I moved to LA I've dabbled in the art of clean eating and the more I did it the more I really liked it. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do so being able to create delicious and super healthy meals really excites me. Making meals totally from scratch is a bit more time consuming but it's all worth it and it gives me time to read or write while I'm waiting for things to get done.

I haven't done groceries in ages so it was nice to get a fresh start and not feel like I had tons of food that was going to go bad out of neglect. Before I really dove in to buying tons of food I started off with a 3 day cleanse that I've done with my cousin a few times. I always think that it's a great way to get my body prepared for what's to come and it gives me more time to properly plan my meals. Since I'm working full time and also planning on writing a ton starting this month I have to make sure that my meals are properly planned and prepped every day.

I'm really excited to get things going with this and I will of course document every step of the way. I'm going to try to not only make everything super tasty but also affordable. It's so easy to eat unhealthy because of how cheap it all is but luckily, here in SoCal, fruits and veggies won't break the bank. I'm also going to make use of my organic cilantro and basil that I've been growing as much as possible.

 My friend Jennifer (not to get confused with my cousin/co-writer Jenniffer) is doing 100 days of crafting starting today and suggested I join in on the fun. I've been a bit down lately so I'm taking her up on her offer to have 100 days of finding happiness. Creative cooking makes me happy, as does slimming down, so this is going to a be an interesting month and a nice fresh start to a new year on this planet.

Let the games begin!

Jul 24, 2015

Creating an Editorial Calendar

gotta love my Refinery29 calendar

Makeup, clean eating, fashion, skincare, decor, travel...mostly all bloggers are cursed with the same thing:un-writers block. We have so much that we want to write about that we end up writing about nothing. While I was away for a few weeks I was able to squeeze out just a handful of posts instead of the one a day that I promised myself I would push for. I really did want to write everyday and I would get up at 10am and sit in front of my laptop waiting for the words to pour out of my fingertips but I instead spent that time on Gchat and Facebook. Whoops!

That's when I realized that I'm not a freestyle writer and need guidance. I love all things related to beauty but without having some thing to sit down and write about I get totally lost and very easily distracted. Plus, I need time to get things ready for a post. I need to take nice pics, think about what direction I want the post to be in, etc. I follow so many blogs that have a great flow and consistency and one of the things I started to notice was that they find good ways to mix up their favorite topics so a reader won't see three straight pages of workout tips if that's not the sole focus of the blog.

So towards the end of my trip I  spoke to Jenniffer about this dilemma and we decided that a posting schedule was in order. We really want to push My Fascination Street into something that people are eager to check constantly because they like the updated (and super cool posts) so we came up with an insane posting schedule. With her taking time off from work to apply to med schools and me planning to take off work in a few weeks we figured this would be a great time to start. We sat down, came up with a plan and are pretty confident that we can make it work. 

The first thing we had to do was figure out how much time we were actually able to commit to the site per day. It takes me about 1-2 hours to write a great post, pics included, so we couldn't commit to writing 5-7 posts a day each. We settled on 3-6 in total. Starting low, but not too low, seemed doable with our schedules. 

The next thing we did was figure out what topics we wanted to cover, and were able to cover well. We don't want content on this blog, we want engaging content that's written well, so we had to stay within our specialties. Settling on beauty, cooking, decor and travel works for us because we both travel and cook extensively and while she's great at decorating my expertise is beauty. 

My favorite part came next. Creating an excel sheet! I adore spreadsheets and if I could make one for every aspect of my life, I totally would! What we did here was color code the dates (oh yea, we went there!) and then wrote down whatever topic we felt we could cover on a given day along with a little summary of what the post would actually be about.

A snippet of our brainstorming idea

After 3-4 days of going back and forth and figuring out what went when and who would write what we finally came up with something that we think we can work with. I plan on spending this coming weekend getting a head start so that by the time August 1st comes I'll be a few days, or at least one day, ahead of schedule. It's wishful thinking, but we're really on a roll so we want to keep riding that momentum and I'm pretty sure we can!

Jul 13, 2015

Spoiling My Furry Little Friend

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AmorBeneful #CollectiveBias

Molly getting spoiled in the west coast!

Even though I spend about 10 months out of the year in Los Angeles I like to think that I'm bicoastal. I spend a decent amount of time in NYC during the summer months and have been sent over to work on a few occasions. While I'm here in New York I not only spend time with my family and friends but I get to be with Molly, the adorable Maltese mix that I spoil rotten. Even though she obviously gets taken care of while I'm away I tend to treat her like royalty when I'm in town. I give her long, dreaded baths, I make sure she's played with, gets enough outdoor time and that she eats well. Blame the Latina nurturer in me! I seriously make sure that she's had her morning run before I even have coffee. If that's not love, I don't know what is!

As I do almost weekly when I'm in LA or NYC I went to Target to get things that I needed for myself and grabbed the Beneful Incredibites for Molly, along with some other awesome things for her. The timing couldn't be better because she was recently on somewhat of a hunger strike because she was just not into the last massive bag of food that was purchased for her and nothing in the world was making her gravitate towards her bowl unless I threw in some human food in there which she loves because I am such a sucker for her.

My prima hermana Jenniffer joining me at Target

Beneful Incredibites with Real Chicken

When I went to Target with my cousin Jenniffer I made sure to stop at the pet section to grab her some food, new shampoo and whatever extras I could find to spoil her. Along with getting her the Beneful Incredibites (which she loves the taste of), due to the fact that they're made with real meat, is healthy for her and are a good size for Molly's small mouth, I grabbed her Pet Head's Oatmeal Natural Shampoo and Oster's Cologne Spray which smells like heaven!

Sometimes you just have to have a spa day!

I seriously forget how much I love to spoil this pup and every time I have to head back to LA I want to bring her with me.  The only thing stopping me is that my apartments have never allowed pets. So in the meantime I'll just have to make sure that she gets all the loving that she can from her step mama by way of being pampered until I get back in a few months.
Queen Molly

Don't forget to use the Cartwheel app for this special offer from Target and Beneful:

And check out their In-Store Demo's at Targets around the LA area on August 22, 2015 from 11-4pm! They will be giving free samples as well as flyers with $2 coupons

Also, there will be special events around the LA area for your furry little friends! And the coolest thing is that there's going to be an Instagram vending machine there!

 Learn more about Beneful Incredibites on their Mobile Site on your smartphone or on their Desktop Site when using your home computer. You can also verify product availability at

Jul 9, 2015

Being Prepared During Summer Travels

Oh summer. Even though I live in sunny SoCal and we have the luxury of the sun almost every single day I still get excited when the summer months kick in. To me that signifies the end of half of my family working and my yearly trips to see them and my friends. I normally take 3 weeks to a month off to go to New York City and/or Europe and always have the time of my life. 

One thing I was worried about during this trip though was getting sick. I can blame a pending milestone birthday for that or it can just be that my body is changing and is just more prone to things affecting it. Just this year alone I had a cold that lasted over a month and a weird nerve pain in one leg that required tons of checking out. So this has me wanting to be prepared for anything that can come up while I’m on vacation (and at home!). 

Having supplemental insurance for accidents is the way to go. My cousin has been touting Aflac for the past year and with good reason. She was focused on their maternity disability insurance but their individual accident insurance is a really great idea as well. In reality I don’t have a large cushion to help cover my expenses in case I get injured in any way and their accident insurance is pretty cool. It not only helps to cover medical expenses (hello crazy co-pays) but it can also assist with transportation and lodging. If something happens to me where I have to change my flight because I can’t travel I’ll be kind of screwed if I don’t have the extra money to change my flight or rebook all together. 

The most important reason to have this supplemental insurance though would be if anything happens to my mouth! The insurance supplied by my company (and any other that I’ve ever had through a job) doesn’t cover dental and ever since I had my Invisalign my teeth have never been the same. They’re really sensitive and I’m afraid any little thing, like biting into an apple straight on, will crack one, so it’s nice to know I’ll be covered for anything happening to my pretty little mouth thanks to Aflacs Accident Insurance.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Jul 7, 2015

Six Things Every Blogger Should Do

Photo credit: Got Credit

I've had My Fascination Street since early 2013 but it wasn't until the last year that I've really started turning it into something that I'm 100% happy with. Back when I started writing I had no idea what my options were in terms of templates, monetizing and the kind of content that was going to get me noticed. I picked up a few tips through trial and error and now I want to share them with the masses so here are six of the most important things that I think every blogger should focus on when they're starting out.

1. Get the Right Look

Presentation is everything! I have a really hard time taking a site seriously if the layout is off or the colors don't mix well. My Fascination Street has gone through about 5 templates in the 2.5 years that its been live and while I'm happy with how it looks, I'm always on the hunt for something that I, or my readers, might like better.

Being that my blog does center around girlie topics I found that like colors fit it best. Had I been writing about cars I'd go for something dark and if this was all about food or photography I would want to keep the colors to a super minimum so that the photos stand out.

2. Photos are Everything

Speaking of photos. these are everything. Okay, so maybe photos are a bit more important than the layout or maybe they're neck to neck. A great photo makes or breaks a post and that can determine how much time a reader wants to stay on your blog. It took a few months for me to really understand this. I was careless with the sizes of my photos, how much light they had--everything. And this is coming from someone with a minor in photography. Ouch! It's not to say that I've lost my touch, as you can see in my Flickr photostream, but when it came to my blog I was just so overwhelmed that I didn't think it was that important. I was very wrong and now I try my best to have a really nice hero photo to start off my posts.

If you can't take great photos because your camera/phone is low quality or you don't have the right items to create the image you're looking for you can always grab one from the web. Just makes sure that you're paying attention to the licensing that the photo has. Google has been really great with this. If you search for a photo on their site:

Yes, I did a Google image search for pizza

You can't just grab any image off Google just because you think it's relevant to your post. That's a no-no and the reason stock image companies exist. But Google, as well as Flickr, offer usage rights searches that can help you find the right photo to use legally. I normally don't find many good photos to use during my Google search because I'm super specific but I do have great luck with Flickr. When I find a image from there that I like, and can use, I just make sure to give the photographer credit, link their profile, and then let them know via a comment that I used their awesome photo for a post, like I did for my post here.

I linked the photographers profile as a caption to give credit

3. Find Great Hosting

 Buying a domain is self explanatory.  I know a lot of blogs still have or behind their name but having a standalone one gives a bit more street cred. Not only that but it's so cheap. If you register a domain name on it's own it's only like $10-$12 a year but you can go one step further and just get a hosting plan that includes getting your domain name registered for free. Getting hosting with Bluehost is really easy to do and can have you on your way to getting your blog off the ground ASAP.

4. Stick to a Niche

When I first started this blog I was all over the place. I wanted to cover everything under the sun and my navigation bar was endless. My friend Jennifer, who has given me amazing feedback with my blog, suggested that I tone it down and stick to things I can write about with more frequency and expertise. I took her advice and I like that I'm not stretching myself too thin and am able to focus on the topics that I love the most. It also lets me find my voice and will help when I want to write for other companies and need to showcase my amazing writing skills on certain topics.

5. Utilize Social Media

Share, share and share. But do it wisely. Timing, the platform and not over-saturating is key. I am still not at the point where I share all of my posts on my main Facebook account because I have a lot of friends that won't have any interest in it and I don't mind. What I did instead was create a Facebook page for this blog and invited the ones that would benefit from things that I write or would find the information useful. When it comes to Twitter, which I'm starting to use now a lot for my blog and my friend Jennifer wrote an awesome post about, I like to share content at least 2 times a day and make sure to mention companies that I'm writing about. This is a good way to let them know that you think their product or service is great and to get some favorites or retweets!

I like to use Instagram to post some photos that are relevant to a post and just tell my followers that the link to my blog is on my profile. This gets me a decent amount of views and I'm glad that just one sentence as part of the caption worked that way.

6. Have Pride in Your Work

This is the biggest step in the whole process. You have to love what you write and stand behind it 100%. If you don't then you won't want to share it and it will take forever to get off the ground. This really works in your favor because it means that you won't write filler posts and the passion that you put in (some of) your posts will be super obvious. I'm not the best writer in the world but I've gotten a lot better by pushing myself to have content that flows well, that shows my awesome personality and that makes people want to check out the rest of my blog.

So there you have it. Like I mentioned in my previous post about blogging, I'm finally at a good place with my blog and have a lot of great tips on what a person should and shouldn't do if they want to be on their way to success. I still have a ways to go if I want to be at the level of some amazing blogs like Pinch of Yum but I'm getting there and hopefully you can use some of my tips to get you on your way as well.