Seven things college freshmen don’t need — and ten they do

This article originally appeared on NerdWalletThose ubiquitous checklists of “dorm room essentials” for college freshmen are filled with items that will be ditched by the end of first semester.

Some parents “go to the store and grab a list like they did when their kids were in elementary and high school and just go straight down the list,” says Lisa Heffernan, mother of three sons and a college-shopping veteran. Or they buy things they only wish their students will use (looking at you, cleaning products).

You can safely skip about 70% of things on those lists, estimates Asha Dornfest, the author of Parent Hacks and mother of a rising college sophomore who’s home for the summer.

What Not to Buy or Bring

Freshmen really need just two things, says Heffernan, co-founder of the blog Grown and Flown: a good mattress topper and a laptop.

Here are seven items you can skip:

  • Printer. Don’t waste desk space or, worse, store it under the bed; printers are plentiful on campus.
  • TV. Students may watch on laptops or on TVs in common areas or in someone else’s room. Bonus: Your teen gets out and meets others.
  • Speakers. Small spaces don’t require powerful speakers; earphones may be a good idea and respectful of roommates.
  • Car. Some colleges bar freshmen from having cars on campus or limit their parking. You also may save on insurance by keeping the car at home.
  • Luggage. If you bring it, you must store it. Heffernan suggests collapsible blue Ikea storage bags with zippers.
  • Toiletries to last until May. Bulk buying may save money, but you need storage space.
  • Duplicates of anything provided by the college, such as a lamp, wastebasket, desk chair or dresser.

Items left behind when students pack for the summer are telling. Luke Jones, director of housing and residence life at Boise State University, sees unopened food — a lot of ramen and candy — and stuffed animals and mirrors.

Jones says many students regret bringing high school T-shirts and memorabilia and some of their clothes (dorm closets typically are tiny).

What Can You Buy, Then?

Before you shop, find out what the college forbids (candles, space heaters, electric blankets and halogen lights are common). Have your student check with assigned roommates about appliances (who’s bringing a fridge or microwave?) and color scheme if they want to set one. Know the dimensions of the room and the size of the bed. And most of all, know your budget. Not everything has to be brand new.

Ten things — besides the all-important mattress topper and laptop — that many students consider dorm room essentials include:

  • One or two fitted sheets in the correct bed size, plus pillowcases. Heffernan says most students don’t use top sheets.
  • Comforter or duvet with washable cover.
  • Towels in a distinctive pattern or light enough for labeling with laundry marker, plus shower sandals.
  • Power cord with surge protector and USB ports.
  • Basic first aid kit.
  • Easy-to-use storage. If it’s a lot of work to get something out, your student won’t, Heffernan says.
  • Cleaning wipes. Students might not touch products that require multiple steps, but they might use wipes, according to Heffernan.
  • Reading pillow with back support for studying in bed.
  • Area rug. Floors are often hard and cold.
  • Comfort items. Dornfest says it could be a blanket or a picture of the dog — something from home that will make the space a bit more personal.

Afraid you’ll forget something important? You might, Heffernan says. But chances are, you or your student can order it online and get it delivered. Consider doing this with some items simply to avoid the hassle of bringing them yourself, and remember that “dorm necessities” often go on sale once school starts.

Do a Reality Check

If you or your student still want to replicate the rooms you’ve seen on Instagram and Pinterest, think about how the room will actually be used.

Once your son or daughter moves in, the room will never look like that again. Opt for sturdy items and be realistic. Will throw pillows make the place look more homey and inviting, or will they be tossed on the floor until parents’ weekend?

Dornfest, a co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, offers a compelling reason not to make things too comfortable. “A freshman needs to be encouraged to get out of the dorm room,” she says. “Anything that pulls you into campus life can be good.”

She’s not advocating a monk-like environment, but rather one that encourages breaking out of routines. College should be a time to try new things and meet people from different backgrounds. Dornfest advises making the bed as comfortable as possible and keeping a few reminders of home. The ideal dorm room is more launch pad than cocoon.

More from Nerdwallet

The article 7 Things College Freshmen Don’t Need — and 10 They Do originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Source: getrichslowly.org

Tips for Dealing with Difficult Relatives | ApartmentSearch

Older woman talking to girl with cookie in mouthIf you’ve been living solo for a while, the holiday season may mark the first time you’ll see your extended family in a long time. You may already be dreading spending your long weekends cooped up with nosy aunts and spoiled cousins!

Though we can’t give you your PTO back, we can help you maintain your sanity during family festivities. Keep your holiday season delightful— not dreadful — with these tips for dealing with difficult family members this holiday season.

Step up your self-care before, during, and after family time.

No matter how much you love your family, dealing with difficult relatives can be draining. Make sure you’re not pouring from an empty cup, so to speak, by giving yourself extra time for self-care practices in the time leading up to, during, and following family gatherings.

Step away from the group to do something that recharges you, like journaling, calling a friend, or taking a walk by yourself. The more depleted your mental energy becomes, the less likely you are to handle sticky family situations with grace, so make it a habit to check in with yourself and take a few minutes to recharge whenever you need to.

Steer the conversation with neutral topics and questions.

Maybe you don’t want to spend holidays with extended family because you know you’ll be dealing with your uncle’s political banter or listening to your cousin rehash the drama that happened at her sister’s wedding last summer.

Now is not the time for confrontation or “family therapy,” and fortunately, you can play a big part in keeping things light and fun. If you make an effort to steer the conversation, the likelihood of controversial topics arising in your discussions can diminish — at least somewhat.

Here are a few questions to ask your family at dinner to get things going (and stay in a safe conversational territory).

Neutral conversation-starters for family gatherings:

  • What’s your favorite memory from a past holiday?
  • What was your first job?
  • What was your wedding day like?
  • What do you remember about the days your children were born?
  • What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
  • Have you seen any good movies or shows lately?
  • What’s something you’re excited about over the next few months?
  • What’s your favorite holiday tradition (or movie, or food, etc.)?
  • What’s something you’re grateful for?

If things still take a turn for the worst, you can say something like, “Let’s give the rest of the family the gift of a break from that topic, what do you say?” or be even more direct with “Let’s change the subject; I don’t want to discuss this.” Don’t be afraid to speak up!

Think about a response to personal questions in advance.

Your family is well-meaning, but sometimes they can ask questions you don’t want to answer. How are you supposed to reply to, “When are you getting married?” anyway?! While you can’t always anticipate what family members will ask, you can develop an effective way to divert nearly any personal question.

Think of a few things in your life that are going well right now — or at the very least, some topics you’d be willing to talk about with family — and change the subject to those things. For example, if someone springs a personal question about why you aren’t dating someone, you can chuckle and respond, “I don’t know about that. Hey, I got a promotion at work last month. I really love my work right now. How’s your job going?” If they persist or bring it up again, you can be more direct with a response like, “I’d prefer not to talk about that,” or you can remove yourself from the situation entirely, which leads us to our next tip…

Have an exit plan.

Sometimes, when you’re dealing with difficult family members, you need to step away. If you’re anticipating stressful situations, plan your getaway in advance. This can mean excusing yourself for a few moments of solitude in the bathroom, knowing when to return to your hotel for the night, or even being prepared to leave the situation entirely by packing up and heading home early. It’s okay to need some separation!

Limit or avoid time with family during the holidays altogether.

Speaking of separation, here’s the thing: if you don’t want to spend holidays with extended family, you don’t have to. You always have the option to do something completely different, like hosting a holiday dinner with nearby friends or neighbors. Of course, making your own plans for the holidays may come with consequences you don’t want to deal with (like hurt feelings), but in the end, it truly is YOUR decision whether you attend family gatherings.

If you’re not ready to give a big, hard “NO” to your family gatherings, consider a compromise. For example, you don’t have to schlep half your belongings to your parents’ house and essentially move back in with family for a week or two. Instead, cut your trip down to 2 or 3 days. You’ll still get to see everyone and celebrate, but you’ll save yourself from the depletion that comes from dealing with difficult family members for long periods.

Create a safe haven for yourself.

You can get through almost anything as long as you have something — or somewhere — else to look forward to, right? If you’re exhausted after spending the holidays with difficult relatives, ensure you’ll have a welcoming spot to come home to with ApartmentSearch. Use our apartment finder tool to claim your perfect place, complete with amenities, parking, and PRIVACY! Now, that’s fa-la-la-fabulous.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

11 Tips for Living Alone Happily in an Apartment | ApartmentSearch

barefoot man lays on couch with his catWorried about living alone in your apartment? Fear of being lonely is a huge reason young people think twice about flying solo in an apartment. Whether you’re a freshman on campus or a fresh college grad moving into the professional world, living alone can be a life-changing experience.

Forget about playing Akon’s “Lonely” on repeat. We’ll give you some great tips to help make sure your solo experience is both happy and fulfilling.

1. Engage with the outside world.

Come outside of your cave now and then, the water’s fine! And that warm glow on your skin? That’s sunshine—it’s good for you! Engaging with the outside world, even in small doses, will help you avoid complete isolation and the loneliness that comes with it. Look up cool things happening around you, then go do them. Don’t allow your apartment to become your whole world.

2. Get to know yourself.

It’s best to get to know the person you’re going to be spending the majority of your time with. Living alone is the perfect time to explore your hobbies and passions, your strengths and weaknesses, and other little quirks that make you, well, you!

3. Learn to grocery shop and cook for one.

One great thing about living alone is that all of your grocery bills are going to plummet. Meal prep is one of the most rewarding—and most challenging—parts of “adulting.” But with a little strategy and a lot of home-cooking, you can master it.

4. Practice good organizational habits.

If you’re an organizational guru, don’t sweat this step. Keep up the good work! But if you notice yourself leaving bowls of cereal out for days, or scattering your floor with dirty laundry, living alone can lead to things getting out of control. Set up a cleaning schedule or write down chores on post-its. Do whatever you gotta do to keep things tidy.

5. Buy some added security.

If you’re hesitant to live alone for safety reasons (and if “hesitant” is putting it mildly), then consider buying added security, like deadbolts or an alarm system. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable in your new apartment knowing you’re safe and secure. The only thing you’ll have to fear now is a haunted apartment with ghosts! (Just kidding.)

7. Decorate to your heart’s content.

No one can tell you that your wall art is dreadful when you live alone. Hang it up! When you have your own space, you get to decorate it however you want. A home catered to your tastes will make you feel comfortable and happy.

8. Become your own handyman/woman.

Solo living is the perfect time to practice self-reliance. Instead of phoning your landlord every time your toilet clogs or your light bulb goes out, learn how to. You’ll save money and your pride!

9. Make a budget and stick to it.

There’s nothing like a little budgeting to keep you on the right track. Before you even move into your apartment, come up with a personal finance strategy to avoid problems down the road. When you stick to a budget, you’ll stress less and have more freedom to pursue your short term and long term goals.

10. Invite guests over!

What good is a home if you can’t share it every once in a while? Bring the outside world to you by inviting your friends over for supper, a game night, watch party, etc. Plus, you can show off your awesome decorations!

11. Enjoy your privacy.

You’ll revel in the fact that, after your guests depart, you’ll once again be the sole ruler of your domain. Nobody will be there to judge you for one more slice of cake or glass of sparkling grape juice. You can sleep in the next morning, or spend the day with no pants on. The possibilities are endless when you have your own space. So live it up! And be happy. 🙂

Think you’re ready for your first solo apartment? Find one bedroom and studio apartments at ApartmentSearch.com

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Create a Productive Apartment Work-From-Home Space

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Working from home has become more prominent than ever, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, when you’re living in an apartment, it can sometimes be challenging to create a productive remote workspace. 

Thankfully, there are things you can do to maximize your space (no matter how small it may be), arrange it in a way that inspires creativity and productivity, and take care of yourself so you stay motivated. 

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can make the most of your apartment while you’re working from home, so you can find a healthy work-life balance and stay focused on your job each day. 

Arranging Your Space

A productive apartment work-from-home space starts with actually creating a designated workspace. You don’t necessarily need to have a separate spare room to set up an office. As long as you have a specific location in mind that is dedicated to your work, you can get things done effectively. Some suggestions include: 

  • Fixing a folding shelf to a wall.
  • Using a large closet/wardrobe.
  • Utilizing a large hallway.
  • Pulling your sofa away from the wall in the living room and using it as a desk chair.

Having your own workspace can help you to stay focused and organized throughout the day. Remember, your environment can affect your mental health. It can either keep you motivated or bring you down. So, focus on things like using natural lighting, having live plants around to give you energy, and even controlling the temperature to keep things a bit cooler. 

If you know you will have to participate in Zoom meetings or similar video chats, make sure that your office looks as professional as possible. Because you’re at home, it’s okay to make things personal. But, whatever is in your background should still suggest that you’re working. A professional background for a video call can include things like plants, pictures, and artwork, but probably shouldn’t include your Star Wars actions figures. 

Keeping Your Health in Mind

In addition to having the right space set up, it’s crucial to take care of yourself in order to stay productive. When working from home, it’s easy to feel distracted and unmotivated. Taking care of yourself, physically and mentally, can have a huge impact on how well you do your job. 

One of the potential drawbacks of working from home is having a harder time with a work-life balance. You can combat this by having a routine each day. Start work at the same time and end it at the same time. Having a separate office space in your apartment will make it easier to “walk away” from work at the end of the day. 

It’s also important to take breaks, and you may need to encourage yourself to do so. Your apartment might be small, but don’t be afraid to splurge on a few “self-care” items including, perhaps, a sofa that you can put in or near your workspace for whenever you need to take a break. 

Your breaks should also consist of movement, as much as possible. Stand up and stretch every hour. Or, take longer breaks throughout the day that allow you to get outside and go for a walk. Studies have shown that simply being out in nature can improve your mood, which may help with productivity, and it will give you a chance to get some space after being in a small apartment all day. 

It’s possible to create a productive apartment work-from-home space and to stay motivated each day. With a few simple changes, some organizational skills, and maybe a professional purchase or two, you can turn almost any area of your apartment into an effective workspace. 

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How to Create a Productive Apartment Work-From-Home Space
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How to Create a Productive Apartment Work-From-Home Space
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With a few simple changes, some organizational skills, and maybe a professional purchase or two, you can turn almost any area of your apartment into an effective workspace.
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Source: blog.apartminty.com

My Apartment A/C is NOT Cooling, Now What? | ApartmentSearch

Man sitting at table with his head in his handsOnly a few degrees separate sunny and happy from hot and miserable. Apartment air conditioning problems can close that gap quickly!

If you’re dealing with an apartment air conditioner that’s not cooling, don’t sweat it! Follow these simple steps to cooler air.

Step 1: Confirm the Problem

To stay ahead of the heat at certain times of the year or in certain parts of the country, you may have to start your air conditioner before the outside temperature jumps. That’s because not every A/C unit is capable of rapidly cooling a space. If giving your air conditioning a head start doesn’t help cool it to an acceptable degree, move on to the next step.

Step 2: Contact the Landlord

You likely received an email address or phone number when moving into your place that tenants can use to make maintenance requests. Now’s the time to use them! Email the responsible party and follow up with a phone call.

  • The email serves as written notice for your records
  • The phone call ensures an actual person (!) fields your request

You may also consider delivering a printed letter to the office or sending it as certified mail if you expect any building management issues. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that!

Step 3: Guesstimate a Timeline

There’s no hard-and-fast nationwide rule about how long a landlord can leave you without air conditioning. Some states consider 30 days the maximum amount of time landlords have to make repairs deemed vital to a property’s habitability. However, states with warmer climates may hold property managers to a higher standard!

In other words, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with what your specific state mandates. In places like California and Georgia, landlords are required only to maintain air conditioning if it came with the apartment initially. But in Arizona, air conditioning is deemed essential and therefore is required in rental properties.

Ideally, such a matter doesn’t play a role in getting your apartment down to a comfortable temp. That means you can focus on the next step.

Step 4: Make Contingency Plans

Several factors may influence how long it takes to get your air conditioning kicking out the cool again: other tenants with similar problems ahead of you, for example, or the total number of rental units for which the landlord is responsible.

That’s why it may be useful to plan for several more hot days thanks to the broken A/C in your apartment.

Try some of these tips to make hot days more comfortable:

  • Clean the current A/C unit’s filter. A dirty filter can negatively affect its ability to operate at full capacity (even if that’s not enough to get your place to a comfortable temperature).
  • Consider a fan if you don’t already have one. And make sure your ceiling fan, if you have one, is spinning counterclockwise — that’s the correct direction for a cooling summer breeze.
  • Have shades? Keep them closed. If you still want to be able to see outside, get solar shades that reflect the sun’s heat and glare but are transparent.

The Ultimate Step: A Change of Scene

Dealing with a broken apartment A/C and an unresponsive landlord is not cool! Take your business to a new apartment complex with top-notch features — like smart thermostats, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops — and some great, affordable furniture. Use ApartmentSearch.com’s advanced search features to locate the perfect apartment for your lifestyle and, in this case, summer comfort!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Learning How To Survive On A College Budget

Find out how to survive on a college budget here. This is a great list!College is expensive and everyone knows that.

Between paying for tuition, parking, textbooks, extra fees, and everything else, you also have basic living expenses to pay for as well.

All of these costs are either brand new or somewhat new to you most likely as well, so you might not even know how to survive on a budget, let alone a college budget.

Don’t worry, though, surviving on a college budget is possible. Learning how to save money in college is possible!

Related post: How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans In 7 Months

Whether you are trying to survive the whole year off of what you made over the summer or if you have a steady job throughout the school year, there are ways to budget your money and not fall into any extra debt. Plus, you can still enjoy your college years on a low budget as well!

Below are my tips on how to survive on a college budget.

 

Use your student ID.

Your student ID is good at many places beyond just your college campus. Before you buy anything, I highly recommend seeing if a company offers a student discount.

Your student ID can be used to save money at restaurants, clothing stores, electronics (such as laptops!), at the movies, and more. You may receive a discount, free items, and more all just by flashing your student ID.

After all, you are paying to go to college and you are paying a lot. You might as well reap one benefit of paying all of those high college costs.

 

Make extra money.

You may need to look into making extra money if you just don’t have enough to survive on. I am a firm believer in making extra money and I think extra time can be wisely spent doing this.

Some online side gigs with flexible schedules include:

  • Blogging is how I make a living and just a few years ago I never thought it would be possible. I made over $150,000 last year by blogging and will make more than that in 2015. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
  • Survey companies I recommend include Survey Junkie, American Consumer Opinion, Product Report Card, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! It’s best to sign up for as many as you can because that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
  • InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free!
  • Swagbucks is something I don’t use as much, but I do earn Amazon gift cards with very little work. Swagbucks is just like using Google to do your online searches, except you get rewarded points called “SB” for the things you do through their website. Then, when you have enough points, you can redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. You’ll receive a free $5 bonus just for signing up today!
  • Check out 75 Ways To Make Extra Money for more ideas.
  • Read Best Online Jobs For College Students

 

Use coupons to stay on a college budget.

Just like with the above, you may want to start using coupons.

By doing so, you can save money on nearly everything. You can find coupons in newspapers, online, and in the mail. They are everywhere so you should have no problem finding them and saving money today.

Related post: How To Live On One Income

 

Learn how to correctly use a credit card or don’t have one at all.

Many college students fall into credit card debt, but I don’t want you to be one of them.

Many college students will start relying on their credit cards in order to get them through their low college budget, but this can lead to thousands of dollars of credit card debt which will eventually seem impossible to get out of due to significant interest charges that keep building up.

In order to never get into this situation, you should avoid credit cards at all costs if you think you will rely on them too heavily.

You should think long and hard about whether you should have one or not. Just because many others have them doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing! However, if you think you will be good at using them, then there are many advantages of doing so.

Related post: Credit Card Mistakes That Can Lead To Debt

 

Only take out what you need in student loans.

Many students take out the full amount in student loans that they are approved for even if they only need half.

This is a HUGE mistake. You should only take out what you truly need, as you will need to pay back your student loans one day and you will most likely regret it later.

I know someone who would take out the max amount each semester and buy timeshares, go on expensive vacations, and more. It was a huge waste of money and I’m still not even sure why they thought it was a good idea.

Just think about it – If you take out an extra $2,000 a semester, that means you will most likely take out almost $20,000 over the time period that you are in college.

Do you really want to owe THAT much more in student loans?

 

Skip having a car.

Most campuses have everything you need in order to survive – food, stores, and jobs. In many cases, you do not need to have a car whatsoever.

By foregoing a car, you may save money on monthly payments, maintenance costs, car insurance, gas, and more.

Related post: Should We Get Rid Of A Car And Just Have One?

 

Eat out less.

Now, I’m not saying you should stop eating out entirely if you are trying to survive on a college budget. I know how it is to be in college and to want to hang out with everyone. These are your college years after all.

However, you should try to eat in as much as you can, make your own meals, and try to eat out only during happy hours or when food is cheaper, such as during lunch time. Eating out can ruin your college budget!

 

Have a roommate.

The more people you live with, generally the less you will pay when it comes to rent and utilities. If you are living on your own, then you may want to find roommates so that you can split the costs with them.

This will help you to lower your college budget and you may even find some awesome friends.

Related post: What I Learned Having Roommates

What college budget tips do you have?

 

The post Learning How To Survive On A College Budget appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Spring + Summer Recipes to Fill Your Instagram Feed

SUMMER-RECIPES-TOO-PRETTY-TO-EAT

It’s officially May and that means summer is just around the corner!!  While a lot of things have changed this year, my love of summer remains!  Bring on the warm weather…am I right?  Along with sundresses and sunglasses comes a whole bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables I can’t wait to get my hands on.  The delicious recipes below from some of my favorite bloggers will all be in heavy rotation for the next month.  If you need a refreshing cocktail to go along with these delicious bites, bookmark these summer cocktails for your next read.

SUMMER PEACH BALSAMIC CAPRESE SALAD

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | One-Pot Tomato, Chickpea, and Orzo Pasta
via Whole and Heavenly Oven

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STRIPED JUICE POPSICLES

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Slow Cooker Butter Bean Minestrone
via The View From Great Island

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TOMATO, PEACH, & BURRATA SALAD

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Cucumber Quinoa Salad
via Two Peas & Their Pod

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STRAWBERRY GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Winter Kale Salad
via Foodess

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BAKED RATATOUILLE TIAN

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Pizza Pasta Salad
via KELLIES FOOD TO GLOW

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SUMMER FRUIT BREAKFAST BAKE

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Rustic Polenta Casserole
via Eazy Peazy Mealz

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BLUEBERRY BREAD PUDDING

Make-Ahead Recipes | Meal Prep Guide | Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
via Spicy Southern Kitchen

GET THE RECIPE

Read Spring + Summer Recipes to Fill Your Instagram Feed on Apartminty.

Source: blog.apartminty.com