VIVA ITALIA: Creamy Parm Basil Chicken & Stuffed Peppers Recipes w/ Filippo Berio Olive Oil

I absolutely LOVE Italian food... Bring on the CARBS! Italian Food is always a huge crowd pleaser. Whether you’re feeding your hungry family or hosting a household of friends, everybody loves the taste of al dente pasta, a rich sauce or a delicious pizza. 

I've partnered with Filippo Berio Olive Oil to bring you this delicious Italian meal and I am going to show you how you can make this at home!


And the finished result looks a little something like this..... 


The Filippo Berio Robusto Olive Oil really complimented this dish. It is bold, full-bodied and gave off fruity and intense flavor when I tried it. It paired very well with the heavier ingredients in the dish but did not over power the individual flavors which was a plus. 

Head over to your local grocery store and pick up a bottle today.


Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Filippo Berio via Influenster, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!


How To Be A Better Friend This Year

With the dawn of a new year, everyone is thinking about ways to improve themselves and live their best life. Whether your ambitions run to overhauling your diet and starting your day with healthy smoothies, travelling and seeing more of the world, studying for a new qualification or even finally getting those killer abs, there's no end of articles, videos, podcasts and books instructing you on how to go about it. Some people are just constantly striving to better themselves, and that is a positive drive to have in life. But whichever areas of self-improvement we've chosen to focus on, relatively few will think about how they can become a better friend. And yet, focusing on this area of your life has real potential to improve your happiness and mental balance.

Friendships are the glue that bind together our days, and shared experiences have the biggest impact on our well-being. Human beings are fundamentally social animals, and when we develop solid bonds, it makes our lives feel more stable. If we choose to enhance what we give to others in our friendships, we will get so much more back in return. Making a conscious decision to enhance what you give, will mean you get so much. So focus on your friendships this year in order to enhance your life…

Improve Your Communication Skills

When was the last time you really listened? Social media and time pressures have gradually eroded our ability to deeply listen, and conditioned us to become much more superficial, with a reduced attention span. All the scrolling, swiping and expressing our thoughts in 140 characters has taken its toll, and we struggle with giving our friendships the deep dive that they need. Concentrating on non-verbal cues during conversations will give you a much clearer picture of how the other person actually is. There may be areas where they need extra support that you simply won't pick up on without meaningful conversation. Things like being trapped in a destructive relationship are often subtle and difficult to spot, as victims will often try to hide what's really going on out of misplaced shame and fear. A friend who listens can be absolutely invaluable in a situation like this, and a crucial part of the effort to stop violence against women. The impact of paying attention can be huge in areas such as this. Use kindness and sensitivity towards their feelings and you could make a life-changing connection.

Stand By Your Word

Making false promises is sure to damage your friendships. Sometimes we can do this without meaning to, but being able to trust your word is essential if you want your friends to trust you. The intentions you put out into the world must tally with your actions, or it creates a fundamental mistrust that can sour your friendships. If you've ever been guilty of not being true to your word, even without intending to do so, then this year you need to up your game. If you've arranged a coffee date, don't flake out. If you say you'll get those concert tickets, then do. Even if it's a really small thing, like promising to do a favor, then follow up on it. This will strengthen your social ties and build stronger reciprocal friendships.

Be Forgiving

We are all human, but sometimes we can be a bit judgmental and unforgiving when it comes to the failings of others. If you've chosen to give your loyalty to someone, then don't make it conditional. Building a support network doesn't happen overnight, so if your friends falter on occasion then try to be understanding. There is definitely a difference between those who consistently let you down and something happening on one occasion. Learn to be more forgiving, especially if a friend is coping with recently changed circumstances, like starting a new job or having a family. They may have a lot on their mind.

Understand Other Perspectives

Life is all about variety, and it would be very boring if we all held the same opinions. So don't make the mistake of assuming your take on a situation is the only way that's right. The beauty of life is the multitude of differing opinions. If you let go of the idea that there is a ‘right’ way to think about a given situation, it will open up your mind and enrich your life. You'll become an empathetic person and a much better friend. It's an important step to take for your own enrichment and that of your friendships.


Life's Not Always Fair (That Doesn't Mean You Have To Take It)

One of the biggest phrases that you will ever hear in life is how it’s not fair. Fairness is relative. You’re going to find life unfair when it’s not going the way that you want; it doesn't mean that it’s unfair, it just means that you have to find another way to make life satisfactory again. Being treated like a doormat? It sucks. But, I can let you in on a little secret about that: you do not have to take it.

There is no law in your life that says that when someone treats you badly, you have to put up with it and shut up. You don’t have to be the person dwelling on the B.S. that happens in your life. You don’t have to sit around waiting for it all to get better, crying “woe is me” at the moon. Well, that last point is a little dramatic, but you get what I am saying. You don’t have to put up with anything in your life that is negative or hurts your heart. So why are you doing it? Why are you taking it?

Would you put up with being hurt by a professional who did their job so badly that you ended up living with the consequences? No, you would bring in the best medical malpractice attorneys and make the case that you have been wronged. So, if you’re strong enough to do that, why wouldn’t you be strong enough to stop being treated like a doormat? Life becomes an awful lot fairer when you realize that you are the one in control. If there is someone in your life devaluing you, you need to look at yourself and remember that you are worth everything. You are worth so much more than someone pulling you down.

Of course, a part of this is going to be looking at the way that you treat others. If you go out of your way to help other people and are a good person, sometimes too good, then you are likely going to be taken advantage of because of your nature. You don’t have to be, though. If you can be strong in other areas of your life such as when an unjust action has happened, then you can be strong enough to stand up and get out of a situation that causes you pain.

You see, you have to realize it’s very black and white: do you want to keep taking it, or not? It’s that simple. Stop accepting bad things happening to you and demand something better.


4 Ways To Stop Self-Sabotage in 2019

You can fail at absolutely anything in life. It’s a hard, but very real truth. You can try and try to do something you want to do, and you can fail it. This may sound like a way to get really depressed really quickly; why bother trying if you can fail? Well, you can spend your entire life worrying about the worst, but all that really matters is the choices you make right now. You can imagine an encyclopedia of ‘what if’ scenarios about the way that you choose to do things with your life, but until you try to do them, you won’t ever get anywhere. The things you REALLY want always seem out of reach: they’re not, but fear tells you that they are.

You can fail when you take the safe routes in life, checking all the boxes that people tell you that you should be checking. Career. Family. Savings. House. Wedding…..

All of these neat little boxes that people expect you to fill are the same boxes that fence you in. Some people rebel against the norms in a way that isn't always positive; turning to drugs or alcohol to escape from life. Self-sabotage in this way is different from living in the here now. Instead, this has a profound impact on your life in a way that isn't worth the risk. You can spend time going down the wrong path, with an outpatient drug rehab center in your future, or you can start succeeding at the things you are willing to take a risk on. Perhaps instead of the safe career your peers and parents have always guided you towards, you choose something you want to do instead. Perhaps instead of having children because society told you that you should, you choose not to.

You are very capable at undermining your own goals with self-sabotage, placing unnecessary limitations on your own abilities to live your dream. It’s time to stop doing that. Instead, you need to look at ways to stop your self-sabotage in 2019, and here are four ways to do just that:

  1. Figure out why you’re doing it. Some people head for sabotage without even noticing because they’re that used to it. You don’t have to be, though, even when it keeps you in your comfort zone. Once you realize why you’re going through the motions of sabotage, you can recognize the behaviors and stop.

  2. Practice positivity. In your mind, in your life, in your actions. Constantly talk to yourself in a positive way and you will drown out the negative inner voice telling you that you can’t do something, therefore you shouldn’t do it.

  3. Ignore others. Not literally, but ignore them as a benchmark to your own life. You do not have to compare yourself to someone else to be worthy of acceptance. You are wonderful; just as you are.

  4. Learn to look at your faults and mistakes and accept them. Being your own friend means you are going to practice kindness in the place that self-sabotage would once have been whispering in your ear. Ignore the voice and be the best friend you’ve ever had.


A Clean Financial Slate Is A Clean Headspace

You might have heard people say that a cluttered house leads to a cluttered mind. Well, the same goes for your finances. So, if you want to stop worrying about money then here are some suggestions to help you clean the financial slate and your headspace.

Sort out your regular expenses.

The best way to clean your financial slate is to sort out your regular expenses. Get back to the drawing board and think of smarter ways to spend your money. You don’t have to make cutbacks, however. Think about your groceries. You could use vouchers to save money or start growing vegetables in your back garden so you don’t need to buy them anymore. You could keep your house just as warm by insulating the windows rather than turning up the thermostat; that’d reduce your energy costs. You should also think about the monthly bill you face from your current phone provider. You might want to check out Boost Mobile phones for prepaid plans as opposed to postpaid plans. You could save yourself a lot of money and still get the same coverage. At the end of the day, that’s the key to sorting out your regular expenses. It’s about finding ways of buying the same things for less money. If you do your research then it’s easier than you think.

You might also want to start using financial apps to help you keep your monthly expenditures organized. If you struggle to maintain a clear and structured budget then this could be the perfect way to ensure you spend within your means. You wouldn’t have to worry about getting the math wrong. Additionally, apps can help you spend your money more wisely too; investment opportunities are always worth pursuing if you want to improve your long-term wealth. It’ll give you additional income on top of your existing salary. But we’ll talk more about the financial “long game” in the next point.

Think about the future.

Obviously, every financial decision you make has an impact on your future, so that’s probably always in the back of your mind. But if you want to really tidy up your finances and feel more confident about your money management then you should always be thinking about your financial security in the future. You might have a grip on your financial situation in the present day, but are you setting aside enough money for your retirement or whatever other expenses lie for you? You might think it’s too early to start thinking about that, but it’s never too early to start saving up. The sooner you start, the more wealth you’ll have acquired for your first house, a college fund for your kids, or even your retirement. If you’re still in your twenties then those ideas might hurt your head, but you’ll thank yourself for making preparations early in life.

You should also think about aspects of the future you can’t control. Starting a pension for your retirement is a safe and well-considered decision to make because you know you’re going to retire one day. But what about the costs that you can’t predict? Everybody faces unexpected hurdles such as car breakdowns or household damage. If you’re not prepared for those costs then it can end up taking a huge chunk out of your earnings and messing up your well-planned budget. So, your budget should always account for the unexpected. You should frequently set aside some of your savings for miscellaneous expenditures. You can call this your emergency fund.


How To Plan A Stylish Backyard Party

Although the weather is cooler in many parts of the country, that doesn’t mean you still can’t spend time outside and in your garden… especially in many southern cities as well as California.

Planning an outdoor party for this season may seem challenging, but I'm here to help. Start with a plan. Grab a pen and paper and let’s go.

Tackle the Garden

First things first. You need to tackle the garden. Decide whether you’re up for the challenge or whether you need to enlist some help. This could be in the guise of friends or a professional gardener.

If you’re doing this yourself, then start by raking up twigs, leaves and any rubbish. Next mow the lawns and tidy the borders. Make sure the edges are neat. Rake up any grass (dead or thriving) and move onto weeding. The sooner you tackle this, the better. Don’t give them time to take hold. Adding bark chips can discourage weeds from returning.

Once the garden is looking neat and tidy, you can move onto filling in the gaps with new plants. If you’re a low-maintenance gardener, then opt for plants that don’t need a lot of attention.

GrowDirect has plenty of affordable options to help you get your garden (or back yard) looking fabulous for your party. 

The Patio

Next move onto the patio. Again, start by raking and sweeping up after the winter. Remove leaves and other debris. Use a jet wash to clean the concrete. If you don’t have a lot of greenery, then consider adding a few colorful pots. Opt for plants that will flourish during this season.

The Fun Part

Now that the garden is taken care of, think about accessories such as fairy lights, outdoor candles and cushions. Have you thought of a theme? If so, make sure your accessories adhere to this. Rugs and beanbags are always useful as extra seating.

Food and Drink

Make a list of food and drink. Plan this in advance to allow you time to do the shopping and make preparations. If your party has a theme, then the food should be consistent. For example, if you’re throwing a traditional tea party then serve tea and cakes. If you have a Mediterranean theme, then shop accordingly.

Plan B

The problem with outdoor parties is that they depend on the weather. What will you do if it rains or snows? Create a plan B. Guests could always move into the house and you could hold the party there. Or, consider erecting a marquee for the event. This will allow your guests to remain outside without getting wet.

To recap, plan ahead and make sure you leave yourself plenty of time. Tackle the garden first and then move onto the decorations. If you have a theme then keep this in mind when decorating and organizing food. Don’t forget spare seating and have a plan B in case of bad weather. All that remains is to enjoy the day.


How You Can Still Hit Your 2018 Targets

You’ve probably caught yourself uttering phrases like “I can’t believe it’s November already,” “how is this year almost over already?” or “2018 has passed so quickly”. If you haven’t said them, you’ve almost certainly heard something similar, or seen it on a social media post. Yet, it shouldn’t really be a surprise, most of us feel the same at this time every year. As we get older, time seems to pass faster and faster, and it can feel very much as though it’s getting away from us.

But, instead of worrying about how little time there is left, or how little we have done with our year, why don’t we focus on the time that we have got left? There are still around eight weeks of 2018 left. That eight weeks might seem as though it will pass in a blur of parties, decorations, and shopping, but in reality, it’s as long as any other eight weeks of the year. It’s time to plan, to assess, to get things done. Use these eight weeks to focus on all those goals that you set yourself at the start of the year, instead of feeling like you’ve failed, and you’ll find that you’ve still got plenty of time to smash them.

Write Them Down

Did you write down your targets at the start of the year? If so, find them out, if not, remind yourself of what you wanted to achieve and write them down now. If it makes you feel better, include those that you’ve already reached and place a big satisfying tick next to them. Studies show that you are much more likely to get things done and hit your goals if they are written down, so place them somewhere that you can see.

Assess How You’ve Done

Look at those things that you haven’t managed to do yet. Ask yourself three questions. How far have you got? What has stopped you reaching your goals? And what do you need to do?

Set New Targets

This is the time to be realistic. Yes, you can still hit those targets that you set at the start of the year, you’ve got plenty of time. But, are they still relevant? Our needs change over time. Some of those goals might no longer be relevant to your life or career. You might have other requirements, and you certainly shouldn’t wait until the New Year if you want to tackle outpatient treatment programs or anything important. Don’t waste your time on things that no longer matter just so that you can say you’ve reached your goals for the year.

Make Each Day Count

This time of year is often hectic. With work, shopping, decorating and planning, you might not have as much time as you’d like to focus. So, make every day count. Fit in at least a small task every day, that will help you to get to where you need to be by the end of the year. Remember, every little step, is one in the right direction.


Taking A Relationship Slow Is When It's Serious

So many men and women want to rush into a relationship because they’re looking for security. In the modern day, even a 1 or 2-year relationship is still young and fresh. Several decades ago that’s all that was needed before marriage was put on the table. Not so now, because people live longer, we earn more money, we know what we want in life in terms of a career and life fulfillment, travelling etc. So things are now on the flip side, where relationships that take their time are the serious ones and those that only wait a couple of years before marriage and children are not. It's the polar opposite of every decade in the run-up to 2010. If you are still following the ABCs of relationships from way back when, you’re needlessly putting pressure on your partner. And in all honesty, it's our insecurities that make us want to push and push until we get an answer we like from them.

Taking it slow and letting things fall into place is much better.

Don’t have “the talk”

Both men and women do things in relationships that cause them to falter and eventually become unworkable. If your partner is not giving signs that they want the relationship to end, then don’t push them into a corner. If they aren’t cold toward you and showing less and less interest in your life, then why would you have ‘the talk’ with them? Far too often, we can feel like the relationship isn’t going anywhere, but if it's not going backwards it's always moving forwards. You can’t tie a man or woman down against their will, only when they are ready will they voluntarily want to take it to the next step. Marriage and having children is no walk in the park, and asking someone who you can one day see having both of those things with, “where is this going?” is only going to push them away. Commitment cannot be forced on someone, it has to be voluntarily given.

Signs of maturing

Most of the time, every couple wants their relationship to mature. This means both of you sort out the issues and challenges in your own lives before moving forward. This could mean figuring out what kind of career you want. It could mean paying off all your debt and becoming financially free. It could also mean your own emotional baggage. When these things have been taken care of, then we can move forward or at least show real signs that the relationship is maturing. But physical signs are often the most powerful, which is why promise rings are becoming more and more popular. They’re not quite an engagement ring, but it's a sign that you are on that path to eventually being proposed to and becoming a wife or husband. They come in both sexes as it's tradition to give each other the ring. Take it slow, and allow your relationship to mature naturally.

We all want to have some kind of security in our lives and sharing it with someone we love is even more desired. Just be careful to not push your partner into deciding to marry or have kids when they haven’t brought up the conversation themselves.


Disability Needn't Mean Reduced Productivity

When you’re involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault or afflicted by an illness, it can have long term and life-changing consequences. You may even be unable to continue in your present job or career. This can rob you of your long-term and short-term goals and even lead to a degree of identity crisis. For the seasoned professional or dynamic entrepreneur, a disability caused by unexpected illness or injury can feel like the end of your world. However, just because you are unable to continue on your present course does not mean that you are forever condemned to languish of what might have been. Many disabled people propel themselves into productive and financially rewarding careers either in new jobs or as freelancers.

Here are some tips to staying productive when affected by unexpected disability…

Get in touch with a disability lawyer as soon as possible

If you’re unable to work as a result of your disability, there’s a good chance that this will place a great deal of financial stress upon you. Not only is this the last thing you need when trying to launch a new business, enterprise or career, stress and anxiety can even impede your physical, emotional and psychological recovery. A long term disability lawyer contact can be a huge blessing in this scenario. They can work with you to prepare your claim to ensure that you will get all disability insurance you are entitled to and fight your corner should your claim be rejected. This will ease the financial pressure on you and allow you to keep the bills paid while you prepare yourself for a new career trajectory.

Pain and productivity

Your disability, whether it is a long or short term condition will more than likely lead to periods of pain and discomfort. These will, inevitably, impact upon your productivity. While it may be tempting to bemoan this or become frustrated by it, it’s far more conducive to your productivity simply to make your peace with it and resign yourself to the fact that some days you may be less productive and on other days you may struggle to get anything done at all. Factor this into your deadlines, organization and scheduling and you’ll be far better off. Any freelancer knows the danger of over-extending themselves and while it may seem counter-intuitive, being realistic with yourself and setting achievable goals will be far better for productivity than overreaching.

Managing your money

Whether you freelance or work for an employer, there will likely be a learning curve when it comes to money management. Some insurers, for example, may place a cap on how much you are able to earn which can lead to money management issues and the dreaded disability debt spiral.

It may be worth looking into ways in which you can consolidate or reorganize debts in order to make your monthly outgoings easier to manage. Remember also, that your new career change will likely incur some tax deductible expenses which will reduce your tax obligation leaving you with more income to invest back into your business and keep the wolf from the door.

With proper motivation and organization disability needn’t mean reduced productivity!


Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

Generally speaking, humans and animals tend to live apart. We pass hundreds of animals on a daily basis. However, we tend live alongside them with little interaction. But then there are animals who we actively incorporate into our lives. Nine times out of ten, these animals will be pets. We offer them a comfortable home to live in, in exchange for their companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love. However, you will often find that different people rely on their pets to a different extent. Some treat them as pets. Others treat them as family. If you find that you have a particular bond with your pet and rely on them for emotional support on a regular basis, you could say that you have an emotional support animal. Read on for everything you need to know about this!

What Actually Is An Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal, otherwise referred to as an “ESA”, is a companion creature who actively provides their owner or handler with emotional support that can significantly improve their overall health, happiness, and wellbeing. In order for an animal to be officially recognized as an emotional support animal, they will have to be signed off by a psychiatrist, psychologist or other qualified health practitioner. This individual will verify that this pet’s presence is necessary for you to maintain a good quality of life. You can then enroll your pet as an ESA and receive official documents to confirm this through certa pet.

Can My Pet Be an ESA?

ESAs tend to be most beneficial for individuals who suffer from some sort of physical, psychiatric, or intellectual problem or disability. If you fall into this category, your pet may be an ESA. There are no species specific requirements for ESAs. While dogs tend to be the most common form of emotional support animal, any animal can qualify. So, if you have a cat, bird, or even a more alternative pet such as a hedgehog, these could all count.

How Can I Benefit from ESA Certification?

There are certain situations in life where you could potentially be separated from your pet. This, of course, could be extremely traumatic if you have a special bond. ESA certification can help to guarantee that you and your pet can remain together. Say you move into a privately leased house and the landlord may say that they have a no pets policy. An ESA certificate can be used to ensure that your pet is allowed in the house, regardless of the no pets policy. An ESA certificate can also be used to ensure that your pet can travel with you on airlines that may otherwise exclude pets from the cabin.


This is just a brief introduction to emotional support animals. Hopefully, it has proven useful, and you can put the information to good use if you have an animal of your own who offers you emotional support in your life!