Let me just say, ya girl here, is about to save you some serious cash on travel. As I sit planning our family’s annual pilgrimage to Orlando, it occurred to me that I have gotten pretttty dang savvy over the years when it comes to saving moolah while vacationing.
For those of you eye-rolling that we go to Disney year after year…yes we are total Disney freaks, yes we are all adults, yes we have gone to this magical world for the past consecutive 20 years… and yes, there is no end in sight. If you too are a Disney person, you get it. If not, it’s not just for kids, OK???? Oh yeah, and we are TOTALLY ‘that family’ who goes decked out in cheesy outfits to boot! …the proof is in the pudding….see below.
Back to my original point: Any way you slice it, vacations are freaking expensive. I am a bargain shark and wanted to share some tips to save you the big ones, without compromising on trip necessities. We ALLLL want to feel like divas on vacation. What if I told you this was possible without taking out a second mortgage on your home?….keep reading, I got you fam.
*note: this is not a sponsored post (I wish it were though!…..). These sites are simply my personal favorites and have worked for me, so I am passing them along.
1. Groupon Getaways
You guys. I went to IRELAND for 8 days using Groupon Getaways. Oh and it was only $750.00 bucks…total. Yes, rub your eyes, you did read that correctly. This vacation package included round-trip flights from Chicago to Dublin, 7 nights in various 4 star hotels (which included breakfast), and a flipping CAR for the entire trip. Are you kidding me? Groupon, I’m not sure how you do it…but if it weren’t for you…I sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to afford Ireland.I am eternally grateful.
I also went to Cancun for $500 dollars two years ago using Groupon Getaways. This trip was 5 nights/6 days. The $500 dollars covered our stay at a nice beachfront all-inclusive resort (unlimited food & drinks), and round-trip flights from Milwaukee to Cancun. Once again, SUCH a deal.
I know many people are nervous to try something like Groupon Getaways in fear that it could be scammy, but seriously it’s legit. I will continue to use GG for many, many, trips in the future. Give them a chance to save you money while providing the vacation of your dreams.
Pro tip: the regular Groupon site has tons of discounts for spas, and activities too. Once you figure out your destination, snag a Groupon for spa services or a cool activity in that area. Just be sure to book your service/activity wayyyyy ahead so you are able to redeem it while on vacation.
VRBO or, Vacation Rentals By Owner, …is… in short- fantastic. Individuals who own a timeshare, condo, or home are able to rent out their pad when they aren’t using it.
Our family uses this site for our trip to Orlando every year. Being the creatures of habit that we are, we always stay at the same resort. VRBO mostly rents out in increments of a week at a time, but we have found the owners to be incredibly kind and flexible too. The rates the owners charge are much lower than what the hotels/condos would charge per week when booking directly through them.
VRBO is especially great for families. A condo is a must whenever we travel, because we enjoy the luxury of having a kitchen and multiple bedrooms/bathrooms. You will also save big on food when vacationing condo-style. Having access to a kitchen = no need to go out for every. single. meal. #winning.
I love to eat. There I said it. I LOVE TO EAT. Especially on vacation. The more, the better. You won’t find me waking up for a workout and eating salads when I’m traveling, I can promise you that. You WILL, however, find me gorging on delicious chow and downing adult beverages ….because, life is short right?!
Which leads me to restaurants.com, I use this site allll the time, people. All you do is plug in your destination, and viola, tons of restaurants will pop up that are in that area. You save money by purchasing vouchers that are worth more in the restaurant. For example, purchasing a voucher for $10 dollars might get you $20 to $50 dollars worth of food in the establishment. My only tip is to make sure you read the fine print before purchasing a voucher. Some restaurants have specific rules for redeeming, just be safe and check.
4. The Honey App
This is probably one of my greatest discoveries of all time. Download this website to your browser IMMEDIATELY. Any store (and I mean ANY) most likely has some sort of promo code running at any given time. Before Honey, I would go to retailmenot to find codes. I’d then return to the site I was purchasing from, and manually plug in whatever promo codes I found. Sometimes they would work, sometimes not. Either way, it took forever for me to scour the internet MYSELF trying to find these codes. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
That is, until I found Honey. This website does all the searching for you! After downloading Honey to your browser, it automatically searches and plugs in dozens of codes during your check out process. I love it because it guarantees you are getting the best price on virtually anything.
How does this relate to travel, you ask? Well, Groupon, Hotwire, Restaurants.com, Hotels.com, and many airline websites all have coupon codes floating around somewhere. So, if you’re already getting a great deal on Groupon Getways (for example) and then Honey finds an additional code …BOOM…you just saved MORE money. And more money = a little extra cash on your trip for shopping, treating yo’ self to a massage on the beach….essentially..BALLIN’ out on a BUDGET. Everybody got time for dat.
Y’all. This one is a no brainer. If you’re shopping online or booking a trip, why not get some cash back while you’re at it?? All Ebates is, is a site (similar to Honey) that tracks what you are purchasing and gives you a percentage of cash back. I’ve only used Ebates for a few months now and have earned over $400 cash back. They literally send you a check in the mail and you dump it into your account. That’s it. Seems too good to be true, I know!! Ebates links to your browser and will pop up right before checkout notifying you that you will be getting a percentage of cash back. Try it out and save yaaa monayyy peeps.
I am sure you have heard of Hotwire. BUT have you ever used Hotwire while using the Honey and Ebates apps in unison?? Probably not. Hotwire is already incredible when it comes to saving you money on hotels… and even better when you can get cash back and/or even more of a discount using Honey & Ebates together. We have saved bookoo bucks using this holy trinity of travel. Trust us.
To wrap it up, I hope these tips are helpful and even open doors to vacations that may seem unaffordable right now. Please give these sites a try and let me know if you find success. We all need time off to rest, rejuvenate, and truly LIVE. Happy trails to you!
So, the other night I could notfall asleep. It was one of those evenings where my brain decided that 2 am was an ideal time to contemplate alllllllll of life at once. As I lay awake, I began to reflect on some major life changes that I have made in the past year. The monotony of ‘adulting’ had me worn down, depressed, and I was generally unhappy all the time. With a few changes I am finally living and enjoying life on a daily basis. I wanted to share these tips with you in hopes that it inspires someone else who may be struggling as I was.
PSA: Before you begin reading this article, please know that I am not perfect…at all…laughably so. I have screwed up more times than I can count. Read everything knowing that I have made all of these mistakes myself and learned the hard way. However, I have come out on top and that is why I’m sharing.
1. Stop hating your life and find a job which brings you joy.
This is HUGE and #1 for a reason. I worked numerous jobs- almost all of which I was mostly miserable. I have changed careers 3 times since graduating from college! If you hate your job, you end up hating your life. Fact. Our jobs are such an enormous part of life because we spend most of our time working. If you have a crappy work life, it ultimately creeps into home life. I ended up drinking way more, eating more, crying more…you get the picture. Miserable job = miserable life.
For those of you reading this (eye rolling) and saying things like, “Well I can’t get a new job it’s too hard” or “My parent’s would be disappointed if I switched careers” or “Well I’d have to take a pay cut and start over, that’s not an option” …All I have to say is…blah blah blahhhhh. Excuses. I have endured every single hardship listed. And at the end of the day, guess what? I have my dream job and I am under 30. ONLY because I took a risk, knew my worth, and made some changes. I decided that I wasn’t willing to let a job compromise my happiness, relationships, and health. Did I get flack from my parents for changing careers? Yes. Did it totally suck making almost minimum wage getting experience in a new field? Helllll yes. Changing careers is tough, I get that. But you know what’s even harder? Hating your life.
2. Look forward to small things- daily.
I like to find something each day that I look forward to- even if it is incredibly small. For example, today I am looking forward to coming home and sharing a meal with my fiance. Due to work schedules, we only eat together about 3 nights a week, so I really look forward to these evenings. Most days I look forward to watching a great show in bed, at the end of the day. This is a super small thing…but amidst a busy work week it’s a tiny, daily, light at the end of the tunnel. By hyping up, and looking forward to something on an everyday basis, you’ll find that you start to have better days as a whole.
3. Allow yourself to be loved.
Do you ever wonder why you aren’t completely head over heels in love with the ‘nice guy’ and go for losers instead? You know it is wrong and even hate yourself for not being with someone who you know is good for you. I realized that I was lustfully drawn to low lives because I was addicted to those highs and lows that these dudes bring (Will he call me? Does he like me? What does it mean if he says XY&Z?). If I could calculate the time I spent over-analyzing guys who did not give a damn about me…. yikes, it would be embarrassing. I have learned that real actual love is patient, kind, and uncomplicated. As many say, it just feels ‘right’. Most of us get so addicted to that up and down emotional roller-coaster feeling, that we freak out when it’s not part of the equation. Rewiring our brains to realize that the lack of crazy is actually a healthy thing is PIVOTAL. We falsely interpret that ‘high’ of instability as love, when it is really the opposite.
For those of you who are dating unsuccessfully: get out of that shitty relationship, or stop hanging out with f*** boys who could care less about you. Realize that you are deserving of real love. If someone consistently treats you as an option, please godddd do not treat them as a priority. I did this for the first part of my 20’s and it was awful. Either break yourself of this vicious cycle or don’t start…it is the worst!
For those of you who have a partner but are still struggling: It took me awhile to realize that my (now) fiance genuinely, deeply, loves me. I didn’t love myself and acted in ways that I thought were unlovable. I purposely pushed him away because I was scared. Scared that someone truly wanted to be with me. If there is one thing I deeply regret, it is the hell that I put him through for awhile. He was pure and wonderful, and I took time to realize that I was worthy of love. I am so beyond lucky he saw my potential and stayed with me. Some people are not so fortunate. If you have an awesome significant other, hold on to them and know that you can be loved.
4. Find a hobby that you enjoy- and make time for it.
As we age, we get further and further from activities that brought us joy while growing up. Most of us played sports or were part of clubs when we were younger, right? Kids have time to do things that they genuinely like, adulthood is different…we have to make time.
I was a dancer all my life, and it was such an uplifting experience for me. When I graduated from college, and dance was no longer part of my life,…it felt like a train came screeching to a halt. Part of me felt as if it had died, and I mourned the loss that this chapter of my life had ended. I tried attending adult dance classes, coached a youth dance team…but…nothing felt the same, and so I stopped. I believe our life progresses in seasons…and the seasons were a’ changin. I finally decided to go with the flow and realized that I needed a new hobby. Instead of dancing, I began writing and cooking. I have found that this seems to fulfill my creative outlet in a similar way that dance once did. Do I still miss dance? Absolutely. However, I now have a hobby that is sustainable throughout my life. I will never ‘outgrow’ writing and cooking. Try to find a hobby that you will not outgrow as your life progresses.
5. Exercise in a way that you actually enjoy..or can tolerate.
Once again, aging is tough… we aren’t kids anymore who are able to get exercise organically ie: running around with friends, playing sports…etc. With busy schedules, kids, desk jobs, spouses….exercise needs to be planned and squeezed in. I found that with my life, home workouts are the only way I can get it done. If you read my blog you’ll know that I love home cycling. This works for me. I think home workouts can be a wonderful option for many working individuals or busy people in general! Do a bit of googling or pop over to YouTube for tons of fast and free workouts. Of course I workout for physical benefits, but exercising for my mental health has become my primary focus….it helps! Running, spinning, yoga, pilates, prancersizing…shake weights… whatever it is…get moving and DO YOU!
6. Cut negative people out of your life.
I’ve written about this before, and please feel free to scroll down to the post titled ‘pay attention to those who don’t clap when you win’ if you haven’t already read it, and want to hear more on this topic. Seriously though, if you have crummy people in your life that drag you down- distance yourself. I have found out the hard way that bad company corrupts good character. My morals and values were actually changing because I was hanging out with human trash. Reduce your circle to those who deserve to be there and stop tolerating those who suck the energy out of you. I promise, it is 100000x more fulfilling to have an intimate circle of friends who truly care for you, than a pack of people who tear you down. Thin the dang herd, peeps. YOU are worth it.
7. Treat Yo’ Self.
I firmly believe that we are not put on this earth to simply eat, sleep, work, and die. We are here for more than just survival. I have made a point to enjoy the fruits of my labor. We work so hard, and there is nothing more depressing than just paying bills and never enjoying life. I (admittedly) like nice things and love to travel. I budget accordingly. Being able to treat yo’ self goes a long way for mental sanity. Am I saying buy everything and go into debt? No. However, life is short…take the trip and get the damn handbag.
8. Keep a clean house.
Sounds simple I know, BUT hear me out. I am not a naturally clean person, however if things are messy it screws with my head. Weird right? You’d think I would just be clean since it bothers me so much. Not the case, I have to work at it.
Keeping my house clean (..most of the time) has really helped me to feel so much more relaxed. Coming home to a tidy house is the best, in fact…I am now pretty addicted to this feeling. If you are naturally messy like me, make a conscious effort to clean your dirty ass up. No one thrives in chaos.
9. Meal prep on Sunday for the week.
This has been a game changer for our household. We realized that scrambling to prepare dinner every night was causing unnecessary stress on our relationship. Every evening felt like chaos and many times ended in ordering takeout. As our pants grew tighter and wallets ran thin….we decided to start cooking on Sunday’s. If you are interested in doing this please scroll down and download our free week of meal prepping! Give it a try, we dare you.
10. Do not settle in a place of unhappiness.
In all, I know these are a lot of changes. But… it took me a year …more like 6 years(graduated from college at 21…I’m now 27) to get my shit together. If you are feeling like life is steamrolling over you, or that you are barely eeking by…I challenge you to make a few small tweaks, and see how greatly your life will change.
I love you all so dang much. Let’s make a conscious effort to live our best lives- together. Just remember- NOTHING changes, if you don’t make any changes to your life.
I’ve got a giveaway going on my Instagram right now and wanted to let everyone here know too!! For the longest time, I searched and searched for a delicious vegan yogurt. I tried many; almond, coconut, soy….and none were hittin’ the spot.
After numerous failed attempts, I stumbled upon Forager Cashewgurt…..
Y’all ….. my…..mind. was. blown.
It truly is creamy and delicious! My favorite flavor is the classic vanilla topped with blueberries, Bee Free honey, and cinnamon. However, Foragers vanilla isn’t your run o’ the mill basic vanilla. It’s so legit you can see flecks of real vanilla bean in the yogurt!!! Try it for yourself. Click below and enter !!
Today I’m coming at ya’ with some advice. It is that time of year where most of us inevitably come down with something not so pleasant… So, I wanted to share my go-to cough/cold/flu/allergy remedy in hopes that it helps someone out there!
I have struggled with allergies and asthma my entire life. Because of this, I am incredibly susceptible to upper respiratory and sinus infections, especially. Until I began regularly making this tonic, I was sick alllllll the time. Seriously. Someone could sneeze a block away and I would get it. I was living in hell.
…Until… I started to do a little research and use myself as a test subject. I have played around with the following recipe for over a year and (knock on wood) it works like MAGIC. I went to the doctor over 25 times for Upper Respiratory or Sinus related ailments in 2015-2016.
Twenty. five. times.Typing that just sounds insane!
In 2017 I have gone to the doctor only 2 times for UR/Sinus issues!!!! I have saved myself so much time, pain, and money by drinking this elixir. I promise, it works.
Here are the products I use. I get them all right off of amazon. I prefer to use a capsule version of turmeric and ginger. I have tried all different types of turmeric/ginger and completely feel that I have gotten the best results with this method. I use a bulk Ceylon Cinnamon and Matcha powder too. This seems to be the most cost effective way for me because I drink it daily. You are more than welcome to use whatever you like, these are simply my tips!
Pro tip: Check this little guy out for mixing up your drink! Under $7 dollars on amazon and I LOVE it. Since the ingredients can settle and thicken, I usually will add more hot water and re-stir halfway through drinking.
I make the elixir for myself daily, right when I wake up. If you struggle with Upper Respiratory/Sinus issues regularly I highly suggest you try this out too. If not, maybe try it a few times a week or just use it as a remedy when you feel that tickle in your throat or tingle in your nose coming on….
Please let me know if you give this recipe a try! My hope is that this helps someone out there feeling as hopeless as I was…before I figured out a way to manage my sinus/allergy/UR/flu symptoms.
I wanted to give y’all a garden update. Prepare yourselves for lots of pictures! I have completely, totally, utterly, become a crazy. plant. lady.I don’t know what has happened, or what has taken over me. Since I do not have any kids to photograph, apparently this is my outlet? A year ago, I would have laughed in your face, if you told me that this is how I spend my thyme now (..you guys, I even make garden jokes..). Either way, gardening and photographing nature’s beauties has become my recent obsession. It makes me happy, so I’m rollin’ with it.
Now that I have come clean about my addiction…I’ll start with some real talk.
First of all, I need to get this out there. I have NEVER been able to grow anything. Ever. Many thymes (…ugh…I can’t stop, sorry)…, my followers will say things like “I am so jealous of your green thumb” or “I’m so bad at gardening”…. I was no different, and do not have ANY special mother-earth-magical-garden superpowers. I promise. So please do not look at these pictures, or read my blog, thinking that I have any more talent than you do. I am brand spanking new to gardening, and this is the first time (in my life) that I have been able to keep anything alive…for more than a week, that is. If you want to start a garden, but are afraid that it will not be successful, I encourage you to try! I had these worries too, and it has really worked out for me. I know the biggest reason my plants are actually thriving is because of three basic things: Sun, water, and good soil. I’m sure you’re thinking ….DUHHHH, Katie…but hear me out.
Sun: there IS such a thing as too much, or too little direct sunlight. Although this sounds silly, I genuinely did not know this. The way our garden is situated, it seems to be the perfect balance of shade and light. Our garden patch is surrounded by trees, so it isn’t getting full sun alllll day. In the past, I thought, the more light the better… makes sense, right? Wrong. plants need some shade too!
Water: Mother nature has been my home-girl this season, not gunna lie. This summer we have had alottttttt of rain. This has been wonderful for my thirsty, growing babes. I still water on hot, dry days, but like I said, the watering has basically been done for me.
GOOD soil: Since our beds are raised, we were forced to purchase fresh dirt, rather than use what was already there. This was a game changer. Getting quality soil is key for plant growth. Once again, this sounds obvious, I know. In the past, we would simply get out the dusty ol’ tiller, and plant directly into the ground. Our soil quality was obviously lacking in nutrients, because we didn’t have much success. I urge you to take my word for it, and treat yo-self’ to some quality soil. Your plants will thank you.
If you have made it through all of the above ramblings, you’re in luck. Here are the pictures I promised. Enjoy.
This was about two/three weeks after we planted, in full sunlight. If you read my original garden post, you’ll know that we planted mostly everything pre-sprouted (about 3-4 inches). We did this because, by the time our garden was built, it was a bit late in the growing season. Next year we plan on starting everything from seeds.
This is our garden in its current state, on a cloudy day. As you can see, it has really taken off. We went from cute, organized plants, to a full on jungle. I have embraced the chaos, and choose to see it’s unruly beauty.
Pictured below, is our main fruit-growing section. We have blueberry and raspberry bushes planted here. These probably will not fruit this year, but hopefully next season there will be an abundance of berries! Good things come to those who wait, right? I am beyond eager for these sweet morsels to arrive.
Best part? This garden is puppy approved. Our beloved 13 year old Bandit is a huge fan. He looks pretty excited for the blueberry and raspberry bushes to fruit, as well.
We just love letting him run around the garden to explore. He adores all the different sniffs, twists, and turns the structure provides. One thing man and beast have in common? It’s both of our happy places.
*Disclaimer: I am going to do a separate post alllll about what we have harvested so far, and what we have made with the fruits of our labor. However, I couldn’t resist, so here’s a sneak peek of my favorite shots.
Bountiful broccoli. I honestly didn’t even know how broccoli grew, before we planted some. It started off almost floral looking. Then, voila, broccoli started to bloom from the center of the plant.
Fresh, yummy, romaine. I cannot tell you how crisp and decadent this was with my homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.
Check out this cute lil’ bell pepper! We have not harvested these yet, but I can almost taste the stuffed peppers I will be making……yum!
This grilled corn on the cob was just amazing. Every kernel popped in my mouth. It was so marvelous that I didn’t even top it with butter or salt! I couldn’t get it in my face fast enough. No lie.
For the final shot, I had to include our first official, farm-to-table, meal! We made Pasta Primavera. For the sauce, we used parsley, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini. This was decidedly the most rewarding moment so far. The meal was divine, I almost licked my plate. Of course, it tasted even better knowing that we somehow grew it all. #winning.
Anyone else out there feeling empowered by growing and eating their own food? This garden adventure has been such a joy. Thank you for tuning in, and keep an eye out for my next posts containing recipes and more pictures!