7 Hidden Gems in Forsyth County

7 Hidden Gems in Forsyth County

The following post is written by Christina LaPlaca, a high school student and part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central. Today she is sharing what she believes to be the hidden gems in Forsyth County. I think we all can agree on  her choices! And as a bonus, I (Rachael) added a hidden gem to the list. 

Throughout this wonderful town in which we live, there are places where we can all go to get away and enjoy ourselves. They allow us to escape the hustle and bustle of our normal, everyday lives, even if only for a short while. Whether it be a soft and comfortable coffee shop to relax in, or a fun-filled restaurant to take everyone for a celebration, we all have special places to take our family. But what about the places that we’ve never even heard of? Well, worry no longer. This week, I’ve made it my mission to find all of the most sought after hidden gems of Forsyth County & Cumming, GA so that you and your family are able to fully enjoy this town to its fullest extent.

Marie’s Italian Deli

Located right in the heart of Cumming, Marie’s Italian Deli serves mouthwatering and authentic Italian food, never failing to disappoint anyone who walks through their door. Open for both breakfast and lunch, Marie’s offers a multitude of different options, ranging from breakfast pizzas and pancakes to calzones and Stromboli’s. No matter what time of the day, Marie’s Italian Deli has made it their mission to make sure that every one of their customers is well taken care of and filled to the fullest with delicious, authentic Italian food.

Connect with Marie’s online: Facebook | Website    

Lake Burrito

Serving both lunch and a uniquely-styled Mexican breakfast, Lake Burrito is a restaurant filled to the brim with great food and quality prices. On top of all of that, it also has an astounding atmosphere. The employees are always more than willing to do whatever they can to help make your day better, and the restaurant itself even has a welcoming and calming feel to it. Every customer always knows that the quality of their food is valued as much as their time, and so they are treated with a great amount of respect. At Lake Burrito, you’ll find that everything you need is right at your fingertips, and you’ll leave satisfied every single time.

Connect with Lake Burrito online: Facebook | Website

Baba’s Gyro and Kabob

Sometimes, we all need to spice up our dinner options and venture out of the usual “burger, tacos, and pizza” phenomenon. What better way would there be to do just that than to try out Baba’s Gyro and Kabob? Serving brilliantly prepared Mediterranean food in a comfortable and intimate setting, this restaurant will allow you the opportunity to expand your horizons while also ensuring that you’ll leave satisfied. Don’t judge this gem by the cover! Even though it shares a building with a gas station, you would never know that once you are inside the restaurant.

Connect with Baba’s online: Facebook | Website

Rendezvous Café

A little step away from your usual Starbucks, Rendezvous café is not simply a tasteful coffee shop. It is also a restaurant, highlighting many delicious specials (like Paninis, soups, salads, and pastries), while also having a cozy feel to it. There, you can either sit and have lunch with friends and family, or simply catch up on your work. It’s a great place to get away from the daily stresses life presents us with, and a place in which all of its customers can take a deep breath and relax.

Connect with Rendezvous online: Facebook | Website 

Los Rios

If you’re looking for a worthwhile, lively Mexican restaurant to take your family out to, Los Rios is most certainly a great pick. With its amazing food, low prices, and great customer service – this is a place that should most certainly go in the books. Parents and teenagers alike have both fallen in love with this restaurant; most of my friends have visited as frequently as possible! It’s most certainly the place to go when you and the whole family are craving some Mexican food. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Connect with Los Rios online: FacebookWebsite

Ferguson’s Meat Market


Even on days when you feel as though you just want to stay home with your family for dinner, Ferguson’s Meat Market is certainly the place to gather whatever it is you want, while still making sure that your meal tastes as good as any other homemade meal! From delicious selections of meat (like steaks, chicken wings and sausages), to savory southern cooked sides, this shop is the perfect place to gather everything you need to make dinner both tasty and memorable. And to make matters even better, their service is nothing short of impeccable.

Connect with Ferguson’s Meat Market online: Facebook | Website

Tipsy Da Vinci (An added gem by Rachael)

Tucked away inside of Vickery Village is this little gem – Tipsy Da Vinci. At Tipsy Da Vinci, you can enjoy a night out with friends or a date night. During your time you will mingle and relax while an artist leads you step-by-step in creating your very own masterpiece!

NEWS: They just started classes to make wood signs. We are signed up to do one at the end of March. Click here to see some pictures from these wood sign classes. And then sign up for one yourself!

Connect with Tipsy Da Vinci online: Facebook | Website

So whether you’re looking to try something new, or are simply trying to explore our city to its fullest extent, these hidden gems are most certainly wonderful places to begin. Spending time at any one of these locations will guarantee you and your family’s satisfaction, while also acknowledging the significance of these local businesses.

Christina LaPlaca is part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central High School. She recently shared some facts about herself. You can read that article here.

To learn more about Christina and our other contributing writers, click here.

Review of Monster Jam 2017 {The Last Event at GA Dome}

Monster Jam 2017

Monster Jam 2017 at the Georgia Dome

March 5th, 2017 will always be a special day to me and my family. Why, you ask? Because we were able to attend the very LAST event at the Georgia Dome. We said goodbye to the Georgia Dome with dirt, diesel gas,  popcorn, sweets, and MONSTER TRUCKS! That’s right – we attended Monster Jam on Sunday, March 5th at 3:30pm.

Monster Jam 2017

As seen in the photo above, ear protection was a MUST! It’s super loud in the arena with all those trucks. We all wore ear protection and I’m so glad we did! 

I realized a few minutes into the show that I hadn’t been to Monster Jam since I was in college. And I didn’t really remember that particular show because I was too distracted with the handsome guy I was with. This time around I was all into the show. Oh and that handsome guy is now my husband! Both of my kids are BIG Grave Digger fans and they were loving cheering him on. Last month, Finn (age 7) got to interview one of the drivers of Grave Digger. You can see what Finn asked Morgan Kane by clicking here.

Monster Jam 2017

Let’s talk for a minute about the tricks these guys and gals did in the monster trucks. I was amazed at the way they can navigate such a large piece of equipment. At one point of the show, Monster Energy flipped the truck and landed back up after being upside down on the hood. Crazy! The Grave Digger also had quite the spectacle performance during the freestyle competition. Watch this video to see what i’m talking about…

After talking with my family, we believe that Monster Jam is a great date night or family night (or afternoon) out. The show keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Our show lasted 2 1/2 hours with an intermission but it certainly didn’t feel that way. And actually when it was over we said that we could have easily watched more.

Monster Jam 2017

The overall winner of the show we saw was…. Monster Energy

And it was a close competition the whole time. Great job to all the drivers and staff of Monster Jam 2017! We really enjoyed being there for the last event at the Georgia Dome.

See you in 2018 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Monster Jam!

To read more about the history of Monster Jam at Georgia Dome, click here.

Disclosure: We were provided with four tickets to Monster Jam. However, my opinions are 100% my own. 

All Things Prom in Forsyth County

prom in forsyth county

All Things Prom in Forsyth County

The following post is written by Christina LaPlaca, a high school student and part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central.

Since we were little girls, we have always dreamed of elegant dresses and handsome princes at the dance; for most of us, it was all that kept us from leaping out of our seats in our fifth grade math class. Once we got to high school, however, we began to notice the tangible lack of actual princes and elegant balls; instead we were exposed to more math, and yes, the dreaded chemistry course; nothing really seemed all that glamorous. What we all eventually came to realize, though, was that there was a way in which all of our dreams and fantasies could come to fruition, even in such a seemingly bland time in our lives: we had Prom to look forward to. Finally, there was a time set aside just for us and our peers to have fun and dance the night away; finally, we could just run with our imagination, even if it was in a more practical way than a royal ball. The breathtaking possibilities that come with prom cross everybody’s mind, leaving us all sitting on the edge of our seats with anticipation. This is especially true for juniors like me who haven’t been able to focus on anything else all year long. We are all ready for Prom to be our own dream come true.

Still, we have to find some way to plan this evening out; no matter how hard we wish, things like this don’t simply fall into place. This is why Cumming Local has put together a list of tips and tricks that will help all of us survive the days leading up to the infamous Prom.

Top three dress styles for 2017:

An issue most young ladies face this prom season is deciding on which style fits their personality the most, while still wowing everyone they see… a combination much easier described than found. With all of the styles, colors, materials, lengths and sizes… I know I personally feel like I’m constantly drowning in an ocean of opportunity every time I look through a catalog. Thank goodness for modern-day trends lighting my path to the perfect dress, otherwise I’d be lost in this madness!

This magnificent, high neck, beaded and sleeveless chiffon (A-line) dress is certainly one of the more elegant ensembles available. While it’s more modest, its long and flowy nature paired with the jeweled top is sure to capture the attention of everyone at the dance while you have the time of your life!

Princess V-neck, long sleeve chiffon dresses (A-line) like this are taking the market by storm! Both conservative and stunning, this dress epitomizes the combination of class and modern style!

This modern, two-piece mermaid dress is captivating the attention of teenage girls across the country! It’s both a stunning and a flattering piece that will help ensure your night to be a great success.

Places to get dresses:

There is, of course, a mild bump in the road that these ladies must also face: how can they possibly find the perfect dress, and where can they even look? They can find amazing deals online without any issue, but most of the time, they always seem too good to be true; even then, the size never seems to quite fit them as well as they had envisioned. Even if they choose to go down the electronic route, they then find ourselves opting out of the sacred prom shopping experience! And yes, I promise it’s a real, fun, activity to have with your friends, family, and of course over-protective dads.

Well, fear no longer! Below are lists of all of the prime shops and stops, located in or around the Cumming area, that are perfect for buying your perfect prom dress and having fun at the same time!

  • Cinderella’s Wardrobe Rental (located at 1465 Dahlonega Hwy Suite 4, Cumming, GA 30040)
  • Bravura Bridal and Prom (located at The Collection at Forsyth, 410 Peachtree Pkwy #376, Cumming, GA 30041)
  • Girli Girl Prom and Pageant (located at 74 E Main St NE, Buford, GA 30518)
  • Treasures Formal and Bridal (located at 7300 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30022)
  • RSVP Prom and Pageant (located at 111 W Crogan St, Lawrenceville, GA 30046)

Places to get tuxes:

And, of course, the men mustn’t be ignored! While this particular time of year may just seem like a season filled with high expectations paired with a semi-expensive dinner, it too can be filled with laughter and excitement! From dancing, to good food, to simply hanging out with your friends, prom can be a night of splendor, even for the guys.

One issue remains at large, however; where can they rent tuxes for this special night? Don’t they have enough to worry about already? When will they even find time to research for a place in which they can browse?

I guess it’s good that we’ve compiled a list for the young men to peruse as well!

  • Jim’s Formal Wear (located in Marietta at 1977 S Cobb Dr #290, Marietta, GA 30060)
  • Tuxedo Warehouse (located at 3345 Hutchinson Rd A, Cumming, GA 30040)
  • JCPenney (located at North Point Mall and the Mall of Georgia)

Places to eat:

Whether you’ve got a date or are flying solo, most of the time, prom-bound teenagers create a larger group of their own. They meet up to take pictures, carpool, and, undeniably, eat a substantial amount of food together before the big night. It’s, of course, common knowledge that before the night truly takes off, both dresses and tuxes alike must be a little snug from dinner. After all, they’ll be dancing like there’s be no tomorrow, so stuffing themselves beforehand is acceptable… right?

At any rate, a nice, tasty dinner is a must. But, because there are so many delectable options around every corner of every street, it may seem difficult to even find a place worthy of our attention. Even if the options are narrowed down, there will most certainly be confrontations regarding the final decision; what will be the best choice for everyone? Well the good news is that no matter where you go, it’s sure to be a restaurant worthy of your imminent satisfaction. From Osaka and Kani House to Longhorn and Texas Roadhouse, the possibilities are endless! And even if you or your group isn’t up for indulging in Japanese restaurants or family steak houses, Italian will never fail! From the classier stores, like Provinos, to a simple pizza joint like Sydney’s Pizza, there’s a fit for everyone.

Even though this is only one night of your teenager’s life, it’s a time in which they can truly let go and have fun with their friends. Hopefully, through this little tips, tricks and guidelines, we have helped turn this prom into even more of an entertaining, magical night.

(Photo Source for Dress Photos – Dress 1 | Dress 2 | Dress 3)

Christina LaPlaca is part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central High School. She recently shared some facts about herself. You can read that article here.

To learn more about Christina and our other contributing writers, click here

5 Questions I Asked Clay Elliott of Driven MX Racing

Monster Energy

5 Questions I Asked Clay Elliott

Amsoil Arenacross – February 24th at the Georgia Dome

Monster Energy Supercross – February 25th at the Georgia Dome 

This past week I was given the opportunity to interview Clay Elliott. He manages a team of riders for Amsoil Arenacross. I had a great time talking with him and I look forward to seeing his team race on February 24th at the GA Dome. Click here if you’d like to get tickets!

#1 – How long have you been managing a team?

“I’ve been riding on dirt bikes since I was 4 years old. It runs in my family. My dad grew up racing four-wheelers. At age 11, I won my first Nationals. In 2010, I got my pro-license and 2015 was my last year racing. 2016 was my first year managing a team. I absolutely love what I do!”

#2 – What is the most fun thing you’ve done?

“There are so many fun things that we do. But, I’d have to say that the most fun I’ve had was when we went to a Children’s hospital to hang out with kids. We all signed autographs and loved on the kids. It was a great experience for all.”

#3 – What is the most dangerous or scariest thing you’ve done?

“This one is easy – the most dangerous time is definitely when we are done with training and practicing. We get bored. And then we start playing around on the track. Everyone wants to one-up each other.”

#4 – What do you recommend for kids that are interested in your type of business?

“That is great that you are interested! I would say that the best thing to do is find a local bike ship. Ask them for help in determining what is the best dirt bike for you. Then once you have a bike, you can look into doing pro-rider lessons. For the area of Forsyth County, I would recommend Mountain Motor Sports. Mountain Motor Sports. They have a Roswell location as well as a location at the Mall of GA.”

#5 – What is one thing you’d like to tell Cumming Local readers?

“Dirt bikes are meant to be fun and exciting! Also, watching my team race is a really fun time for the whole family. We have a great show for you coming up on Friday and Saturday, February 24th-25th. I hope you will come out to see us. Also, there will be a pre-show pit party where you can meet the riders before the show and get autographs. For more information on that, click here.”

More Information about Driven Mx Racing:

Owner/Manager– Clay Elliott
Riders – Jared Lesher #13, Chance Blackburn #28, JeramyTaylor #32, Jake Hogan #65, Andy Daggett #140, Wilson Fleming #747
Social Media – Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat – @drivenmxracing
Sponsors – MEPMX, Action Extreme Sports, AXO Racing, Moto Option, Wiseco, ProX, Spectro Oils, Arai Helmets, Hinson Racing, Devol Racing, No Toil, Mika Metals, SRS Suspension, MX Graphics, True Mx, Kenda Tires, Polar Global, Ankle Savers, Moto Seat, Cometic, All Balls Racing, Motion Pro, 4 Arm Strong


The Feeling of Being Left Out

left out

The following post is written by Christina LaPlaca, a high school student and part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central. Today Christina shares part of her story of the feeling left out and how she is overcoming it daily. Our hope is that this article will encourage you to not give up! 

Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. We go throughout our day, dotting our I’s, crossing our T’s, and tying loose ends up. Somehow, though, nothing in our power can force every piece of the puzzle to fit together; sometimes, things just don’t fall perfectly into place. This truth is especially apparent in the youth of today. Between the towering standards society has built for us and the lack of sleep we are all fatigued by, nothing seems to sort itself out. In the end, we feel as though we can only lean on others, like our friends and family, to make us strong. What happens, though, when we feel abandoned? What happens when our friends don’t invite us places, sit with us at lunch, or even acknowledge us? Sure, most people would simply tell us that they aren’t our real friends, and that we should move on. While they may largely be right, the fact of the matter is, everyone feels left out; everyone feels ignored. Whether you’re a twelve-year-old girl, cowering from friends as you trudge through the halls of your middle school, or you’re a mom coping with your child’s heartbreak, the edge of acceptance, or lack thereof, touches each and every one of our hearts, pushing us to our limits. Even though we know that we should just “let it go”, that mantra is, at its simplest, easier said than done.

Take myself, for example. While I may seem like the girl who has it all put together, the girl that has the world at her feet and can accomplish anything, for most of my life, I’ve felt alone. Even though I’m involved in so many sports and activities, even though I make the grades, even though I seem to have all of the friends in the world: I still feel disregarded and alone sometimes. Maybe it’s because I’m too loud, or too annoying, or even “too Christian”; whatever the case, I’ve been plagued with this whirlwind of stagnation since elementary school, and it does not seem to want to sweep on past me any time soon. I guess that it’s just the way the world works: it’s in our nature to leave others out, whether we realize it or not. I’ve always felt as though I am on the outside looking in, watching as everyone else fits into their societal mold, while in their eyes, I was just a wallflower. Nowadays, I tend to think of this experience as one that God has intentionally and lovingly put me through. It has not only opened my heart to others, so as to help them to feel more accepted, but it has also helped my confidence to grow in strength. Through the years, I’ve found myself putting more faith in Jesus rather than people or fleeting worldly desires. And, while this may seem cliché, these blazing fires that the world has put me through has helped mold me into the person I was truly meant to be.

The real tragedy, though, is that the negativity and depression that accompanied my situation isn’t a rarity. Young men and women all around me feel the same pressures and the same distance. Rather than making connections, they are breaking down within themselves. From the lack of Instagram likes or Snap Chat streaks to the invitation that got “lost” in the mail, everyone feels this panging loneliness. Girls in my youth group or friends at school always share these grievances with me, and frankly, I’m floored. It’s as though no one is immune, and there seems to be no way to stop it. Even the girls who are leaving people out are feeling that same separation that they inflict! It has such an impact, that the mothers of these children don’t even know where to turn to or how to cope with the situations: their babies are hurting.

Even though this issue is one that is so pertinent to almost everyone in our immediate society, it’s also just as difficult to understand. Why do people have to be so rude, so unkind and judgmental? Quite frankly, I don’t have an answer for you. One thing that I can say, though, is to never give in to the hurt that may tower over you. For me, my shining light was The Word that Jesus came to give; it lead me through my dreariest days and brightened the sun on my happiest. Find someone or something that gives you strength, and don’t let the loneliness get to you. And no matter what, know that you are worth much more than the leftover time one person may have to give. In my opinion, the Son of Man died so that you could know Him, so I’d say that makes you pretty worthwhile.

If you are interested in finding a church to call home in Forsyth County, click here to review our church directory. 

Christina LaPlaca is part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central High School. She recently shared some facts about herself. You can read that article here.


To learn more about Christina and our other contributing writers, click here.

New Year Resolutions {The Teenager Edition}

New Year Resolutions {The Teenager Edition}

The following post is written by Christina LaPlaca, a high school student and part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central.

There’s one thing that always keeps a teenager motivated to push forward, one symbolic plan that helps us feel like we have more control over our lives: our New Year’s Resolutions. Whether you’re a freshman trying to get acclimated to your new school, or a junior hoping to get your grades together before college admission season, this one action at the beginning of the year helps all of us get back on track, propelling each and every one of us forward to finish out the school year with a bang. All we have to do is put the key in the ignition, and start rolling on the highway to change. It, of course, only sounds like the perfect road to take at the beginning. But when we realize that we actually have to work to change our lives, then all we want to do is jerk that car-of-change in reverse. Who needs a tangible life plan anyway? Twitter sounds a whole lot more intriguing…

But wait! I know that’s not how I want to spend the rest of this school year; my plans are worth fighting for! The issue is, though, so many teenagers give up on their resolutions just weeks after they’re made; sometimes, we don’t ever get as far as to come up with them! Well, this year is going to be different. Not only do I have a couple of popular resolutions that teenagers can use, but I also have a couple of ways to keep them!

Healthier Lifestyle

This is one New Year’s Resolution that everyone makes every year. We always promise ourselves that well eat better and run more, but let’s be honest; between school, our homework, and other extra-curricular activities, when would we even have time to plan it all out? That in and of itself seems impossible, so sticking to whatever loosely tied plan we may have come up with always ends with failure. Not to mention, French fries are really good…

There is, however, another solution. This year, for instance, I have made it my personal goal to live healthier. But between my never ending activities, sports, AP classes, and well, sleep, I never thought I would have time to figure anything out. It seemed so hopeless; I almost quit before I even started. What I ended up doing, though, kind of shocked me. I decided to write out a weekly schedule, and I figured out a way to fit my planning time in. Then, all I did was research ways to stay in shape. I even found a personalized meal plan I could revert back to. So far, I’m sticking to my guns!

More Optimism

This year has been a whirlwind of emotional confusion. I know that I can only speak for myself, but I’ve found that almost every teenager just goes through a period in which positivity is a foreign concept. In my case, for example, life just felt like it was slipping between my fingers; I couldn’t get a tangible grasp on anything! Between figuring out how to manage my classes, trying to balance a social life, and basically just finding time to sleep, I’ve been a mess of pure, unadulterated negativity. Because of this, I decided to go above and beyond the normal “resolution standards”. This year, I made not one, but two New Year’s Resolutions. The second was to simply look at the world through a different lens and try and see the best out of every day.

Now I know that everyone always says, “The day is what you make it”, but it wasn’t as simple as that for me. Don’t get me wrong; those words speak a heavy truth. When I was younger, all I had to do was choose to be optimistic, and everything would eventually work itself out. But last year, it seemed like a grey cloud loomed over me wherever I went. This year, though, I decided to take a firm stance on how I viewed the world. If I ever started to feel gloomy or stressed, I forced myself to focus only on the good, beautiful world around me. Even though some days I would end up thinking, “today just isn’t my day”, I found myself remembering that no day was ever mine to claim: every day was a day that The Lord made, so I needed to rejoice and be glad in it. As long as I remembered that verse and focused on everything good and positive in the world, a more optimistic attitude didn’t seem like such an unattainable goal.

Better Grades

Whether you’re a straight A student, or are just barely scraping by, almost all high schoolers want to keep their grades up to par. We always start out the school year by commanding ourselves to study, work hard, and achieve greatness; somehow, though, our plans just seem to fall apart. Once the New Year comes around and the second semester stars, however, we finally realize that we have a class to pass. But, what’s to keep us from abandoning our aspirations yet again? I mean, we do have the report card from the last semester to prove it can happen.

This careless way of thinking, though, is not the way to go about this situation. Everyone falls short of finishing our homework every once in a while, so a couple of mess ups are no excuse to give up. One way that has certainly helped me over the past year is to get a planner. I know, it sounds cheesy and typical, but flooding all of your ideas onto a page not only helps clear out your mind, but also helps give you a clear, written picture of how your planning should go. This way, you can fit in all of your homework, no matter how many other activities you have to do! I know that sitting down and writing a paper may not seem like the best way to end the day, but it has to be done. At least this way, some of that stress may be relieved and you can finally focus.

Work Harder

No matter what it is we are doing in life, we always end up letting ourselves down in one way or another. Whether it be a sport, school, or even obligations to family and friends, we teenagers somehow find ourselves not putting in enough effort. Maybe it’s just a phase that we all are forced to go through, or maybe it’s just plain laziness. Whatever the case, sometimes we just want to start the New Year with a fresh outlook on life, one that includes a particular drive and motivation that we always lack.

One way to keep yourself from giving up on a resolution such as this, is to reward yourself every once in a while. If you complete your task, let yourself celebrate! For example, if you finish your math homework, acknowledge your accomplishment with a coffee with your friends, or give yourself time out to watch your favorite television show. There are endless prizes you could give yourself, all while adding a sense of accomplishment to the mix! 

Figure Out Life

Eventually, each teenager is going to hit a wall of confusion, stress, and complete disorientation. (For some reason, Life decided that it was a good idea to put that in fine print on our job descriptions). Sometimes, our only way to get a solid grip on our surroundings is to just sit down and make a plan. What better time to do that than on New Year’s!

Even if one of the only goals you have is to just figure life out, there’s not much that can go wrong. While life is a lofty, daunting idea, as long as you don’t procrastinate on this one, you can check it off of your list in no time! All you have to do is collect yourself, and think through everything. Once you do that, contemplating life doesn’t seem like too great of a task! One never-failing trick that I use, which always focuses my mind, is to take a deep breath and relax. Take a nice, warm bath; read a book in front of a soft, cozy fire; drink a hot cup of tea. Immerse yourself however you please, and just relax. This way, not matter what challenging task may sit in front of you, you have the wits and strength to figure it out!

Whatever your New Year’s resolutions may be, as long as your motivation keeps powering on and you reward yourself every once in a while, this whole “sticking to your guns” thing doesn’t seem so out of reach. Even though teenagers may be fickle, unsatisfied creatures, through this symbolic plan, we are finally able to feel a sense of contentment. We can finally plow through our resolutions.

Christina LaPlaca is part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central High School. She recently shared some facts about herself. You can read that article here.

To learn more about Christina and our other contributing writers, click here.

Tools for 2017: Ways to Save

Each week on Tuesday for the month of January we are sharing Tools for 2017. This is our last week of the Tools for 2017. We hope that they have been helpful to you! If you’d like to review the other weeks in the Tools for 2017, click here: Week One – Getting Healthy with FitnessWeek Two – Finances, and Week Three – Relax, or Week Four – Getting Healthy with Meals.

This week we are discuss ways to save money!

Coupons Are Great

There are lots (and lots & lots) of couponing and deal websites out there.  It can become incredibly overwhelming.  But here’s my one tip – follow someone local!

The big sites are great – really they are.  And I “like” several of them on Facebook and try to keep up.  But if you’re looking to really save from stores that are actually here in town, I say find a local deal blogger.  And of course I have a recommendation for you – www.CouponsAreGreat.net.

Through this website, Coupons Are Great Leandrea shows you that coupons add up and give you more money to pay for the fun things in life.  As a parent Leandrea learned that toys often go on clearance and decided that if she wasn’t going to pay full price for brand new toys that she wouldn’t pay full price for essentials like toilet paper or toothpaste.

In addition to coupons & deals, she also hosts some really great giveaways, practical crafts & tips, and always has tips on getting products for FREE. You may run in to Leandrea shopping at a local store (yes, with coupons but without a huge coupon binder) or running/biking on the Greenway.

And don’t just take my word for it – over 85,000 people follow her site on Facebook!!

Connect with Leandrea & Coupons Are Great: Like Coupons Are Great on Facebook | Subscribe to Coupons are Great Emails

SWAG Bucks

Join Swagbucks!

I was introduced to SWAG Bucks a few years ago and have loved using it. Basically you give your feedback on short quizzes and you get rewarded with SwagBucks. Then you can use those bucks to purchase gift cards.

Click here to sign up for a FREE account.


CertifiKID is pretty much like Groupon, Half Off Depot, etc. You sign up for a free account and then you can browse the deals for activities or products in your area. If you find something you like, you just purchase the voucher. I use it all the time for personalized gifts. Super easy to use!

Click here to set up a Certifikid account.


Southern Way Insurance

Maybe you need to update your insurance policies for home or auto? Give Craig a call at Southern Way Insurance Agency and he can help you consolidate and possibly save money on your insurance products!

Click here to read some questions I recently asked him about his services.

Connect with Craig at Southern Way: Online | Facebook | Phone: 678.965.4243


I gave myself the gift of Amazon Prime at the beginning of last year. It has paid for itself already and more! I love the free two day shipping on anything (as long as it’s labeled “prime”). I also have enjoyed having another way to watch shows and movies.

For more information and to sign up for an Amazon Prime account, click here.

Meal Planning

I heart Eat at Home Cooks weekly meal plans very much! For as little as $1.61 a week (This is the price per week in the 12 month package), you will get a full weeks menu plan and a grocery list. You also get to choose from three types of plans – traditional, slow cooker, or whole foods. It really is a great deal! There are so many benefits to using a meal planner. But my two biggest reasons are – it keeps you from eating out all the time and makes life easier on you!

Click here to take a look at the different meal plan options and sign up today!


Right now Goldstar has discounted tickets to see Shrek, to go to LegoLand, 1/2 price tickets to Falcons games, and so much more! If you don’t have a free account – you will want to set this up. I never pay full price for tickets anymore since I got a Goldstar account.

Click here to sign up for an account

Online Grocery Shopping

This is a new one for me. But I have been using the online options for groceries the last month. And I can’t believe how much money I have saved. Ordering online is making me very disciplined to only purchase items on my list. I don’t see anything else on the aisles and that has helped. You should try it for yourself!

Click here to see the pros and cons of both grocery pickup options in Cumming GA

Don’t Miss Cumming Local News

We are always sharing great deals on CummingLocal.com. And the best way to make sure you don’t miss them is by subscribing to our weekly newsletter. If you depend on getting your news from Cumming Local on social media, you will miss some posts. Learn why in this article we published a few months ago, click here. In that article I do make some suggestions on how to change your settings so you don’t miss as much.

Click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Tools for 2017 – Getting Healthy with Meals

Tools for 2017 – Getting Healthy with Meals

Do you know what the top New Year’s resolution is? Drumroll please . . . it’s to get healthy! Everyone needs to change their habits and get healthy in some way. This week we are discussing getting healthy with meals.

If you’d like to review the other weeks in the Tools for 2017, click here: Week One – Getting Healthy with Fitness, Week Two – Finances, and Week Three – Relax.

Here are some examples in no particular order:

  • Quit drinking soda

Recently I read an article that said if you give up drinking soda that you could lose up to 15 lbs in a year. Isn’t that crazy!? Now, I love me some diet coke. But the sugary carbonated drink is just not good for me. I gave it up a few weeks ago. And the withdrawals stops after day 14. CRAZY!

  • Count your calories

This seems like such a simple thing. But once you start counting calories you become way more aware of how many calories you were eating. There are plenty of apps out there that you can use on your smart phone. I like My Fitness Pal.

  • Portion control

It’s all about portion control. Here in America we all over-eat! A few weeks ago, I began portioning out our meals. You get what’s on your plate but nothing more. This has helped me to lose weight already!

  • Take a Whole30 challenge

This is big in the CrossFit world. But it’s actually a great concept. It has you cut out sugar, dairy, and grains for 30 days. Basically you are eating fruits, vegetables, and meat.  If the thought of planning those 30 days is overwhelming to you. Don’t let it be! Here is a link to blog called Eat at Home. She has a list of 31 meals that you could eat on the challenge. She also offers several type of meal plans. You can check those out by clicking here. 

Dream Dinners offers different type of meal plans. All of the meals show the nutrition information. So pick some with lower calories and make sure your portion it out!  This will take the trouble of you trying to figure out what to eat away and provide you with some delicious and healthy meals! Click here to find out more.

  • Eat MORE salads!

Circle A Lettuce is a local farm growing delicious hydroponic lettuce greens. Their Greenhouse is located just 5 minutes from downtown Cumming. To pick up their lettuce greens, you can either go by the Greenhouse or if you are in their delivery zones they will deliver right to your porch!

Click here to find out more about the Circle A Lettuce Greenhouse.

Click here to find out more about their NEW Delivery program. 

  • Try out a NEW healthy recipe

I have been dairy and gluten free since the beginning of 2017. Let me tell you that I feel so good! I have also been limiting sugars and grains. I plan to go completely on a Paleo diet in the next month or so. I’m just easing in so that I make this a lifestyle change.

Here are a few recipes that I’ve put together: 

Blueberry Crisp | Breakfast Casserole | Zuppa Toscana (Potato Soup with Kale)

Any more ideas for getting healthy with meals that you could share?

A Peek Inside Humpus Bumpus

The following post is written by Christina LaPlaca, a high school student and part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central.

While it may seem a bit small on the outside, Humpus Bumpus is a truly enormous bookstore with a beautifully creative layout. It’s deals and expansive amount of literature options only makes it all the more wonderful! Whatever it may lack in space, it more than makes up for through its creatively designed “themed rooms” and extremely low prices. This is a bookstore where imaginations can run wild, all while satisfying the constant thirst for a good read. If you are a book fiend, Humpus Bumpus is the perfect place to relax, browse, and buy.

As if it weren’t enough that the rooms were so unique and aesthetically appealing, each of them represent a different type of writing, targeted for different audiences. The Pink Room, for example, tends to be geared more towards love and romance novels, and there’s a room devoted to children’s books. They even have a room just for rare books; if you want to go in, though, you need to make an appointment. Selling everything from new to used books, this charming little place has everything for everybody! They even have a policy that any used book you bring in and sell them, they’ll give you up to 30% of its cover price through store credit, which can be used for a 50% off deal in their Used Books section. And, just like the library, will order any book they don’t have in stock, free of charge!

The literature options and creative layout of the building aren’t their only strong suits, though. Open in 1987, this bookstore’s mission was to be host to such a comfortable and welcoming environment so as to encourage people to not only find the book they are looking for (along with a few hidden gems along the way), but to also meet new people and feel comfortable while doing so. They make everything as easy as possible for their customers, and do their best to make each and every one of them feel special.

Whether you’re just dropping by or are a long-time veteran of the bookstore, Humpus Bumpus is a wonderfully original and interesting place, whose experience far exceeds that of the usual Barnes and Nobles and even the go-to library. Going here is a surefire way to make your day, and even create some new experiences along the way.

Connect with Humpus Bumpus Online: Website | Facebook

Christina LaPlaca is part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central High School. She recently shared some facts about herself. You can read that article here.

To learn more about Christina and our other contributing writers, click here.

Easy Ways to Dig Out of Debt

Easy Ways to Dig Out of Debt

It is tax season again, and that means millions of Americans are combing through financial documents in order to get the correct information and hopefully get a decent return. It might be more noticeable now than at any time of year that you have some debt to tidy up. You may have student loan debt, a hefty mortgage, or extensive credit card debt to pay off. No matter how much debt you have or where it comes from, you can’t get out if it without a solid plan. These are some easy ways to dig out of debt.

Vow to Stop Borrowing

If you want to get out of debt, the first thing you need to do is stop taking out more money. Decide that you are not going to open any more credit cards, or stop shopping for homes you can’t afford. It is time to narrow your focus and take away all of those tempting distractions. There will be time in the future to spend, but this is a time to tighten your belt on expenses.

List Your Debt

List all of your debts in detail so that you can tackle them one by one. Name the creditor, balance, minimum payment, and interest rate. Include loans and any other expenses you owe. It may help to create an excel spreadsheet that you can easily change over time, or to write it down in strategic categories. It may help to list your debts from largest to smallest or smallest to largest. You can list your debt in a technique called laddering. In laddering, you list your debts according to the highest interest rate and end with the lowest Try tackling your debt list one at a time. Paying off your first debt can feel like a huge accomplishment and give you the encouragement to keep going. List it out in a way that works for you.

Create a Budget

A realistic and reliable budget is important whether or not you have debt. It keeps you on track to achieve your goals and pay off your expenses, as well as save for unexpected costs. A budget is vital because it keeps your debt in check with all of your other monthly expenses, including auto insurance, medical insurance, gas, groceries, etc. By keeping up with and balancing your budget, you can see your hard work in action. You will soon find that some of your expenses can easily get out of hand, such as your daily lunches out of the office. Be conscious of reducing those expenses so you can put more money into getting yourself out of debt. Some people find that a faster way to get out of date is to pick up an extra job. Many may pursue a temporary job that will last them until their debt is paid. A college graduate may work multiple jobs, or have a tutoring job on the side for high school students. Find a route where you can make more income and you will be sure to decrease your debt quicker.

Change Your Habits

It is one thing to create a budget, and it is another to stick to it. It can be a little too easy to pull out that credit card on a night out with friends or go outside your budget for the latest trend. However, during this time you must be diligent; your future financial success depends on what you do now. If you need some help, consider taking out cash every week for other expenses, such as groceries or going out to happy hour after work. Decide that you will only stick to your cash so that you don’t go outside of your budget. Tricks like these can help steer you on the right path.

Have a Timeline

It helps to create a timeline in which you want your debt paid off. If you are trying to pay off owed taxes, then know that IRS tax payment plans help people across the country pay back owed taxes. Perhaps you want to pay off your credit card debt in a year, or you are a recent graduate living at home and paying the majority of your paycheck toward your student loan. Having a timeline will make your dream of paying off debt appear achievable and tangible.

Disclosure: The content written in this article was provided by as a guest post from Adam Pepka.

More about Adam:
Adam is a real estate doyenne and finance guru currently residing in Tucson, Arizona. His real estate investments in several states keep him constantly on the go, and his passion for writing has found him penning pieces with unique insights on everything from landlording issues to investment advice.