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The Five Must Have Electronic Devices for College

The Five Must Have Electronic Devices for College

It's that time of the year again when summer winds down and the back-to-school season begins. Soon, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target stores all over the country will be flooding with college goers, as they hustle for the best deals in town, especially in technology.

With so many things to buy, however, students often find it hard to distinguish between what they need and what they want. The situation is made more intricate by the numerous "welcome to college" sales held by retailers, which tempt students and their parents to stock up on promotion items than other would-be essentials.

For collegians, therefore, it pays to have a well-drawn-out shopping list. The right tech will help you do research, draft assignments, keep organized, stay fit, and decompress after a long day on campus.

Are you going off to college soon? Here are five gadgets you just can't overlook.

1. Laptop

In today's overly technological world, a decent college laptop is as important to a student as pen and paper. In addition to getting school work done faster and more efficiently, notebooks offer access to a vast pool of educational resources and useful information.

A college-friendly laptop will give you the convenience of taking your work with you and completing assignments anywhere and anytime. Keeping up with lectures will also be easier when you have the option of firing up the microphone and recording, rather than taking notes by hand. Moreover, professors usually make their digital notes available to students, and electronic textbooks are significantly cheaper than hard copies.

That said, although prices have considerably dropped in recent years, a laptop will probably be the most expensive item you buy. Thankfully, colleges have come up with new ways of making them more accessible to students. Some require that computers meet the minimum speed, power, storage, and connectivity specifications, while others partner with manufacturers to offer students exclusive deals for laptops that are specially configured for college.

Before buying, therefore, get in touch with your school and find out about any guidelines they may have.

2. Fitness Tracker

In college, it's easy to get strung up with the tight schedule and not have time to keep fit. From long days of lectures to sleepless nights of research, you may lack the motivation for a skipping rope session or a casual evening jog.

A proper fitness tracker will keep you on track with your health by giving you a clear view of calories, heart rate, daily steps, distance covered, stairs climbed and hours jogged. Most also come with calendar alerts, reminders and email notifications and are therefore an excellent way to stay on top of your daily agenda.

Companies like Misfit and Fitbit have pleasant selections of trackers, which range from simple wristbands to sophisticated smart watches. While the tracker you choose will depend on your needs and your budget, it's best to pick one that's subtle to go with any of your daily outfits, comfortable for all day and all night wearing, and waterproof so you wouldn't have to take it off for a swim or a shower.

3. Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones

You won't always have access to your own space while on campus. A good pair of noise-canceling headphones will go a long way to making your life easier, be it by drowning ambient noise for quiet studying, listening to audio books and notes or uplifting your spirit with some music. Going wireless will also help you to move around without the bother of clumsy wires hanging from your ears.

Some great brands to keep an eye on are Beats, Bose, Audio-Technica, and Sennheiser. Headphones vary widely in quality and the average price for wireless, noise-cancelling ones is $50 to $300. Regardless of your budget, ensure you pick the pair that sounds acceptably good, feels comfortable, and seems durable enough to last at least the first year.

4. External Storage

Having your essential data somewhere else besides your computer can be a lifesaver. A portable hard drive will help you keep a backup of your files and documents, which you can easily access when you accidentally knock a glass of water over your keyboard, or your roommate unintentionally infects your laptop with their malware-riddled flash disk.

A sizeable hard drive will also keep your computer fast and light, by reducing the slowdowns that come with having too many files onboard. And because many drives can be password protected, they can come in handy when you can't keep your friends off your laptop.

If a hard drive is out of your budget and you won't mind the limited storage, a 32GB flash disk may be worth your while. Alternatively, because your college will likely have wireless internet connection all over campus, you could consider signing up for a cloud storage service like Google Drive or OneDrive.

5. Portable Charger

College students are always on the go, and so are their gadgets. Sure, you may form the habit of having everything charged before you set off for a class in the morning, but adhering to such a routine will not be easy. A portable charger will keep your devices charged at all times, so you won't need to worry about power issues while in the middle of a study session.

The best charger is that which will work with a variety of gadgets, including your laptop, smartphone, tablet, and even your fitness tracker. It must also be light enough to ferry around in your backpack all day.


College is undoubtedly exciting, but without the right tools for the job, it could quickly morph into an unpleasant experience. Although your favorite retailer may have gadgets that seem more fun and more urgent, the devices above should be the first to go into your shopping cart.
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Annmarie John
Quick and Easy Shredded Pork Tacos ~ #RealFlavorRealFast

Quick and Easy Shredded Pork Tacos ~ #RealFlavorRealFast

Tuesday is Taco Tuesday's at our house. Learn how to make this delicious shredded pork tacos for dinner with Smithfield® Marinated Pork.

School is officially back in session and has been for our kids here in Colorado for the past two weeks. With driving the kids to and from school, helping with homework and doing all the other chores in-between, there really isn't much time left for myself. I also have to think about dinner and what I can do that's quick, doesn't take up too much of my time, and in turn leaves me with some time to really enjoy with the kids before it's time for bed. Tacos have always been a favorite of mine and as I mentioned, Tuesday's generally taco night for us. With my list in hand, I decided to head to my local commissary to get my ingredients.

As a retired military veteran, I love beating the rush and taking advantage of the early bird shopping. It's generally when most of the soldiers are at home after an early morning of PT and their wives or husbands are taking their kids to school, or are at work. I just love having the store to myself and taking my time through the aisles whilst looking for what I need without having to say "excuse me". My husband has been saying that we needed to change up our recipes and do "something different" every once in a while. So instead of the regular beef or chicken tacos, I decided that we were going to use pork instead. However, I had no idea what to expect in the pork department, and was I surprised. There sitting on the shelf were a variety of Smithfield brand marinated fresh pork, already prepped so my prep time is done for me. How much easier does it get than that? I couldn't believe my eyes and my good luck. There was definitely going to be a change, and it was going to be shredded pork taco night!

Excuse my wrinkled shirt - ain't nobody got time to look cute after dropping the kids off to school then heading to the supermarket.

With all the different flavors across Tenderloins, Loin Filets and Sirloins, how could I even begin to choose. Then right there in-front of me, I saw it! It was the Smithfield Slow Smoked Mesquite Flavor Marinated Pork Tenderloin, made from 100% fresh pork and packed with protein, I knew I had to have it. It was what we were going to have for dinner. So I grabbed three packages. I wanted to grab them all but I had to leave a few for the other shoppers. Don't be greedy AnnMarie! I made it home, took it out the package, and the aroma was unbelievable. I placed it in my instant-pot and let it slow cook until it was time for dinner. I wanted it hot and steaming and while I wanted it then and there, I had to wait until dinner time.

This dinner will literally take you less than 30 minutes to make!

Shredded Pork Tacos

What You'll Need
Smithfield Slow Smoked Mesquite Flavor Marinated Pork Tenderloin (or preferred flavor)
Taco Shells or Tortillas
Taco Seasoning

1 Medium Tomato Diced
1 Finely Chopped Onion
½ JalapeƱo Pepper Finely Chopped
2 Sprigs of Finely Chopped Cilantro
Shredded Lettuce
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Taco Sauce

Equipment Needed
Instant Pot or Slow Cooker

Step 1: Place your Smithfield Marinated Pork along with your taco seasoning in your instant pot or slow cooker, and cook according to directions on your cooker. You can prepare this in advance so when dinner time is near it will be finished.

Step 2: Once your pork is finished, remove from your cooker and shred with two forks or your fingers.

Step 3: Fill your taco shells with your shredded meat and your desired toppings.

(You can store leftover shredded pork for another meal, the possibilities are endless.)

Now my family thinks I'm even more awesome, if only they knew that Smithfield was the real reason behind my amazing tacos. They even declared that my shredded tacos were the bomb and insists that I make them again. All in all, our Tuesday Taco night just got revamped. I got my meal done in less than 30 minutes and they got to spend more quality time with me. Doesn't get any better than that!

For more quick and easy meal ideas that takes 30 minutes or less visit Smithfield Meal Ideas. On 9/1 be sure to revisit and enter for your chance to win a trip to wine country in the Real Flavor Real Fast Contest, by submitting your own tips on how you can get your own dinner ready in 30 minutes or less using Smithfield® Marinated Fresh Pork.

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Annmarie John
How to Become a Social Media Influencer ~ #ForLifeBenBridge

How to Become a Social Media Influencer ~ #ForLifeBenBridge

Can I say how much I despise the term "blogger" or "mommy blogger". Whenever anyone asks for my profession, besides being a retired military vet, I always say:
I'm a social media influencer 
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ben Bridge Jeweler. All opinions are 100% mine.

So what exactly does that mean and how does one become one? I'll share my tips on how I became a social media influencer and how you can too, but first let me go into a bit of detail why I don't truly consider myself just a "blogger". While I do own a blog, I do publish my content on various other forms of social media. You also don't have to own a blog in order to be considered a social media influencer. There are many influencers out there who do NOT own a blog. You can be an influencer while only sharing your influence on YouTube or Instagram for example. So get that term blogger out of your head. I'm not just a "blogger", I'm a social media influencer! And what exactly does that mean? A social media influencer collaborates with companies to bring awareness to their brand to their social audience, with the goal of driving sales. While it may not always happen, it's what we do. So how can you become one? Here are three easy ways!

Do what you love!
One advice that was given to me a very long time ago was to "find my niche" and it's still something that most would tell you. However, I'm here to tell you to do what you love! When you do what you love it will come naturally and easily to you. However, on the flip side of that is to find your focus. While you may love doing a bit of everything, there will always be something that stands out and that you love doing more than others. For example, you may love talking about life in general, but you may also love to cook. You can focus on recipes while incorporating other lifestyle posts on your channel.

Engage With Others Online
In order to become a social media influencer, you need to be seen. One of the best ways to be seen is to engage with other influencers across various platforms regularly. Visit other blogs and leave comments on their posts. Retweet your favorite tweets and don't just like Instagram and Facebook posts, but comment on them as well. Sharing your knowledge across platforms can help you stand out.

Create valuable content consistently
Did you notice that I used the word consistently and not constantly? There is a difference between the two. Consistently means that you would put out your content frequently, while constantly means without interruption. I consistently write on my blog but I also take a break every once in a while. Think about publishing at least 2-3 times a week if you can. The content I also create are lifestyle focused posts that not only show the product I'm promoting in it's best light, but is also something that you can use. For example. Today's post is all about how you can become a social media influencer, but I'm also partnering with Ben Bridge Jeweler to show you how I incorporate their jewelry in my everyday life.

Ben Bridge pieces are made of real metals built to last the test of time and become more perfect over time because of the meaning and stories behind the pieces. I love wearing jewelry because they make me feel sophisticated. Since I'm such a big fan of purple, I chose this Ben Bridge Rhodolite garnet pendant with 1/4 carat total weight of diamonds, set in 14K rose gold. The piece is a statement piece for sure and my photo doesn't do it any justice at all. Their Toscano Rectangle Earrings are truly a work of art and is so elegant that you may not want to ever take them off. So whether you're a social media influencer or thinking of becoming one, with these simple tips you can do it. And wear your Ben Bridge jewelry pieces anywhere for any moment of your life.

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Annmarie John
How to Remove Wrinkles Easily ~ #NoIronRequired #LookinGood #SprayTugSmooth

How to Remove Wrinkles Easily ~ #NoIronRequired #LookinGood #SprayTugSmooth

How do you remove wrinkles from your clothing? I've always said there's two kinds of people in the world. Those who love to iron their clothes, and those who do not. I've since changed that saying, since there's 3. I fall in the middle. While I hate ironing my clothes, I'm also not a fan of wrinkles so try and find easy ways to get rid of them without the use of an iron.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus. All opinions are 100% mine.

There is nothing worse than getting ready to go out only to find out that your clothing is filled with wrinkles. While I hate ironing, I also hate doing laundry on a whole and only do it or else have nothing to wear. While I've mastered the art of wrinkled clothing, there are a few times when I actually do have to have my clothes wrinkle free when going out. While you wouldn't find me wearing wrinkled clothing to church, you may find me dropping off my daughter to school in a wrinkled tee. Don't judge me! I have more valuable things to do with my time than iron a tee before I leave the house to drop off my child to school. Here are 4 ways to get rid of wrinkles easily.

You knew that ironing was going to be on my list. After all, I just spoke about it earlier. It was the way I was taught when I was younger, by my mother. She would iron every single piece of clothing that was washed, then she would fold and put them away. However, there are many homes that do not own an iron. While I'm not one of those homes, ironing is not something that I love doing but it's effective.

Remove Clothes Immediately from Dryer
How many of you have gone to get your clothes from the dryer only to realize that it stopped hours ago? If you can remove your clothes immediately from the dryer and fold or hang immediately, that will eliminate many of the wrinkles that you see when you're late in getting them. However, how many of you can actually do that? Not me! I still haven't perfected the art of knowing when the dryer has completely finished.  You can however set a phone alarm or reminder to let you know when your dryer has stopped, allowing you to remove your clothing immediately.

Use Your Dryer
I'm going to admit that "wrinkle away" feature was always on rotation on my dryer. Since I hate folding laundry, I would take my my clothes and either put them in my dresser or sometimes even keep them in my laundry basket. When I'm ready to wear them, they're usually full of wrinkles so I would put them in the dryer on the "wrinkle away" option and that has worked. However, depending on how new your dryer is, it may take some time to get those wrinkles out.

Use Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus
Did you know that you can use the Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus to get those wrinkles out? It can be done in 3 simple steps which makes it also super easy to use. Just spray your clothing that you need the wrinkles removed in a sweeping motion until just slightly damp. If the wrinkles are severe or it's a heavy fabric you may need to use more. Simply tug and smooth away the wrinkles and hang to dry. Voila! You're done! Doesn't get any easier than that, does it?

Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus is not only easy to use, but reduces my need to iron while keeping my clothing looking neat. It can however be used for more than just removing wrinkles. It can be used as an odor eliminator, wrinkle spray, fabric refresher, static remover, ironing aid and is perfect for travel. Try it on your curtains, tablecloths, sheets, pillowcases and whatever you can think of.

You can purchase your very own Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus at your local Target, Kroger, Walmart, Walgreens, Publix, Amazon and many other regional grocery stores. Find a store and get Downy coupons and offers.

Visit Sponsors Site

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Annmarie John
How to Stay Organized During the School Year ~ #StrengthNotStress

How to Stay Organized During the School Year ~ #StrengthNotStress

How do your kids stay organized during the school year? As for my kids, they have Mead Five Star products to help them. I share some ways on how your kids can keep organized all year long.

School has officially started here in Colorado and I have done most of my back to school shopping. I say most, because no matter what, there's always something missing from the list that the teachers request once your kids are back in school. I'm just waiting for it. Like most parents, I hate spending unnecessary money. I love when I shop that whatever I purchase last all year long, within reason of course. I don't expect my kids to have a notebook all year, but oh how I wish. Speaking of notebooks, I suffer from "brand loyalty" and I'm going to be honest with you, most of our schools here in Colorado are very specific on which brand of notebooks you purchase, and guess which brand that is? Mead Five Star! They didn't have to tell me twice. I have been using Mead products since I was a student myself. I'm old, very old, and when I was in high school my parents bought me a Mead Trapper Keeper, as a matter of fact, all the cool kids had one. You weren't cool if you didn't have a Trapper Keeper. I mentioned this to my oldest daughter and she had no idea what I was talking about. Now the Trapper Keeper may have evolved, but Mead products have remained the same. They're still as strong and as durable as they were all those years ago.

School can be stressful for both kids and parents alike. While it may be tougher for your high schoolers, don't underestimate elementary and junior high school. With the new math I can already see myself hiring a tutor for my Kindergartener, and I was fairly good at math. However, when it comes to back to school, the more organized you are, the better it will go for you. So how can you get your kids to stay organized without breaking the bank? Mead Five Star has you covered and I have 3 easy ways you can get it done.

First you're going to need your basic supplies. Your school usually sends a list of supplies that you will need, but the basics are usually pens, pencils, folders, composition notebooks, binders and loose-leaf papers. Make sure  you have extra pencils and pens so that you're never out. If you're using a mechanical pencil, be sure to have extra lead. When you're organized, the less you'll be stressing.

Have an organizational system in place, here are a few ways to do that.

Have a binder with dividers
Choose a binder that fits your needs and use dividers help you to separate each class or subject. This way you're not carrying around too many notebooks.  Separating your binder with color dividers will cut down the time spent having to find each class notes. If you decide that you don't want to use a binder, have different colored notebooks for each class or subject. Once again this will make it easier for you.

Introduce a Planner
If your school doesn't provide a daily planner, get one for your child. A daily planner will help them stay organized as to what's coming up, and what will be happening on a daily basis. Your child can list their homework so that don't forget what's due. I know my children can be quite forgetful, especially when it comes to homework. Having a planner where homework is written down keeps them responsible. When the week is over, rip out the pages and start all over again. You can keep the old pages in a folder at home to look back upon.

Backpack to keep it all
Having a backpack that can hold all their school supplies is the key to organization. Your child will need a backpack with multiple storage compartments to hold it everything that they require and to separate them all. The Mead Five Star Expandable Backpack is just what you need. With a main compartment that expands to 4" and front pockets that expands to 3", your child will have maximum storage space. There is also a padded compartment to secure and protect their laptops. Each week, clean out your backpack and get rid of the items you don't need.

When you're organized on the first day of school, and keep it that way, the easier it will be to get through the rest of the school year. Eliminate clutter, but make sure you don't throw away papers until you're absolutely sure you won't need it anymore. Remember also to use a calendar to keep track of everything.

Mead Five Star helps take some of the stress away by having products that will keep your children organized, and it's also less stress on your bank account because you know it will last all year long. So go out and get your Mead Five Star products and get your kids ready and organized for back to school!

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Annmarie John
[name=AnnMarie John] [img=] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook= (instagram= (twitter= (pinterest= (

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