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!
My fiance and I decided that we wanted to write a book…on meal prepping! For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you have probably seen our cooking videos. We meal prep every Sunday afternoon for 5 days worth of food. This is our special time to crack open a good bottle of wine, rock out to some music, and enjoy each other. We now look forward to Sunday’s (I used to dread them), love to grocery shop, and prepare the food. I mean, anytime I can make a ‘chore’ more enjoyable…I am alllllllll in. #lifehack
So how does meal prepping build relationships you ask?
Here are our notable effects when we meal prep:
We both feel a sense of relaxation during the day, knowing that we don’t have to worry about meals. The thought of having to run to the grocery store after work, or whip something up upon arriving home is an extra stressor which is completely eliminated by meal prepping. Coming home to great meals and being properly nourished during the day, results in mental composure. It is much easier to take on life with a full belly! At the end of the day, we are able to focus on each other, rather than a sink full of dirty dishes or an upset stomach from delivery pizza.
Here is a look at what happens when we do not meal prep:
Basically…“if you have no plan, you are planning to fail”…
HANGER. It’s real. It sucks. It wares on relationships. When we don’t meal prep we feel chaotic, and every night seems to be a scramble. Before we began planning meals, we would ravenously get home…barely even greeting one other. Blinded by hunger while bickering at each other, one would angrily order takeout and end the night feeling bloated, annoyed, and not ready to take on the next day. This was a draining cycle and as our pants got tighter, and wallets and patience ran thin, we realized a change was needed.
As an avid pinterester, I began to watch meal prepping videos online and even purchased a few books of my own. Starting slow, we began to prep meals together on Sunday afternoons. This quickly became much more than just cooking. It became our special time that we spend together every Sunday, which slingshots us into a great week. In life, there are not many things we can control. However, food is one of them. So, by choosing to control this small aspect of our life, it makes other tasks seem a bit easier.
Soooooo why is it a vegetarian/vegan challenge?
Although there are numerous reasons to go veg, ours is simple: we feel physically and mentally nourished completely through this way of eating. We have tried many different diets together. Ketogenic, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, SAD (standard American diet) to name a few. Doing this gave us a real perspective on which type of eating makes us feel best. Most of us shop around before making a big life decision, right? We did the same…except, we ‘shopped’ around for a way of eating! This may sound silly, but we honestly wanted to try all different ‘diets’ before deciding to stick to one. On a vegetarian/vegan diet, we feel full without the bloat, alert, and mentally clear. One thing we noticed right away, was our ability to wake up in the morning and head to work without that ‘ugh I am so tired’ feeling. We also noticed our moods and outlook on life, in general, improved. We dare you to try it too!
If you are interested in meal prepping, getting your spouse involved in cooking, would like more information, or simply want a few awesome recipes…. please download our eBook for a week of free vegetarian/vegan cooking! Cheers!
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 !!
I wanted to do a bit of a fitness-focused post today. By request, I have been asked by a few of y’all to talk about my Peloton bike experience. For those of you who don’t know what Peloton is, that’s OK! In short, it is God’s giftto the world of spinning. Just look at that sleek, sexy, beauty.
With all of the choices for home cycling bikes out there, here is a bit of the back story on why I decided to go with Peloton.
I was an AVID spinner, going to classes everyday, sometimes twice a day! I couldn’t get enough. There was just something about that dark room, high energy, loud music, amazing instructors, and crazy lights which transported me to a raging party …rather than a workout. Those who spin know what I’m sayin’…a few classes and you’re hooked. Similar to an addict, you need it in your life, and will make it happen…however you can.
So… let’s talk financials. Depending on the gym or spin studio, single classes can range from $20-$35 dollars. Unlimited monthly packages can vary between $150-$500, depending on your location. Regardless of where you live…spinning is expensive. My solution? Get a home cycle, if you use it a lot….it’s totally worth it.
Here are my initial pro’s and con’s for home cycling in general:
Pros: I loved the idea of having the freedom to jump on the bike whenever I wanted. It is so easy for me to lose motivation when I have to get dressed (in presentable workout gear), drive to the gym, find parking, put on my spin shoes, find a bike…you get the idea. So, when I could literally hop on a bike in my living room…my excuses were reduced to zero. As a busy adult, I needed the simplicity that home workouts provided.
I also grew fond of the idea that no one had to see me whilst working out. Exercising in your living room = no pants necessary, and the freedom to shout all of the expletives your little heart desires. Side note: if you aren’t pushed to uncontrollable bouts of cursing (while riding)…you’re doing it wrong.
Cons: I knew I would be unmotivated if I purchased a basic bike, parked it in front of a TV, and tried to ride without instruction. Y’all, I am admittedly lazy. I need someone cheering me on and pushing me. If I was going to transition to a home cycle, I wanted to be sure that I would be getting just as good of a workout, as I would in class.
My other major con was missing out on the community aspect of group fitness. I grew to love my gym, and it became a second home to me. I adored the instructors, had made friends with fellow spinners, and felt so uplifted when I would leave class. My studio did a wonderful job of having events outside of class too. For example, after class on Saturday mornings we would head over to a restaurant for brunch. I fell in love with the spinning community, and felt so welcomed.
I originally joined a gym because I was at a place in my life where I realized I didn’t have many friends (in the area) and needed some girl time. Crazy right? Joining a gym for a reason other than fitness? By doing this, I pushed myself to go completely out of my comfort zone. I made myself strike up conversations with people, make fun plans, and really put myself out there. I was so worried that by leaving, I would lose a bunch of great friends. Friendship takes effort, and I had put a whole lot in. I hoped to retain these friends upon leaving the gym.
So, after weighing the pro’s and con’s…I decided to take the plunge and buy a bike. And after hours of scouring the internet, I found my solution: Peloton.
My biggest reason for choosing Peloton was that they had live classes! LIVE CLASSES, people. So, you get all of the benefits of a studio class…in your own home! Like I said previously, the community aspect of fitness was really important to me. With Peloton, I do not feel like I am not missing out on that at all. The instructors are SO interactive! Even though, there are 100’s to 1000’s of people taking a class at one time, the instructors still make such an effort to give you a shout out. You don’t feel like a number at all. It is an extremely positive environment. Also you can ‘follow’ different riders, similar to any social media experience. This is another way to connect and make friends with riders around the globe!
How to the rides measure up to a studio class?
I would say they are actually better than a real studio class! The rides are challenging and invigorating- with plenty of modifications. Anyone, at any level of fitness can and will find success using Peloton. In addition to live classes, there is a wide range of other types of fitness classes available. There are many pre-recorded classes (if you’re uncomfortable doing a live ride), scenic rides (riding through nature), and strength, toning and yoga/stretching classes. You are completely able to achieve total body fitness using Peloton. This is another reason Peloton is awesome compared to a spin studio! Most spin boutiques are strictly spin. So then you’re doing weight training at another gym, or at home…AKA another expense and pain in the rear. I love that Peloton is my one stop shop for total body fitness!
How does the bike compare to a studio bike?
The craftsmanship of the bike is incredible. It is extremely solid and the hardware is impeccable. My bike was delivered with care and set up right in my home. Also, I had a few questions about my bike and Peloton’s customer service was amazing. I often joke to my friends that my Peloton bike is my most prized possession and my greatest purchase ever….and it is!
My Peloton tips:
Get some quality wireless headphones for your ride. When I first stared using my bike, I did not use headphones. I notice, when using a good pair of noise cancelling headphones, I cannot hear myself breathing loudly or any other distractions. This seems to allow my brain to focus on the task at hand, rather than my heavy breathing or car alarms or whatever else is taking away from my ride. I am able to forget how hard I am working and truly enjoy the ride.
Samsung Level On wireless headphones are my favorite, I have linked them below.
Try all of the the instructors before picking favorites! As a creature of habit, when I first got my bike, I really connected personally with two instructors. I found myself taking their classes only. I have since branched out, and I love all of the different vibes that are given off by different teachers. Variety is the spice of life!
TOTAL Personal preference: while riding, I minimize the leader board, calorie count, mileage, and time on the bike screen. As mentioned, I am easily distracted. When I am done with a 45 min ride, I typically burn around 500 calories and travel 13 miles. So, when I am starting out and see all zero’s across my screen…I feel overwhelmed because I know how much work is ahead of me. By eliminating these tracking devices (as I am riding), I find that I have a much better ride. Of course, I love looking at them after my ride and am happy to have them! This method just works for me personally. As I become more advanced, I will use all metrics during my ride. At this point, however, I prefer to simply focus on cadence, resistance, and output.
If you’re considering getting a bike, but not sure if its worth it…be honest with yourself and crunch the numbers. So, if you are (realistically) only able to hop on the bike twice a week, it may not make sense to invest in a home cycle. Or, if you do, be aware of how long it will take for you to break even (as if you were taking classes) cash-wise. No one likes to waste money. Just be honest with yourself and make the right choice for you!
Have plenty of water by your bike, an absorbent hand towel, and a fan. All of these items make my ride…so. much. better. There is nothing worse than being thirsty, or sopping wet during a workout. I prefer to keep my towel and water in arm’s reach next to the bike, rather than on the bike. I like a gentle fan blowing too. This is once again preference, I just feel that (although I am dripping sweat) a cool breeze during a workout keeps me refreshed.
So, what now?
For those of you who have thought about investing in a home cycle- do it. You won’t look back and wish you had transitioned sooner. I genuinely feel refreshed spiritually, mentally, and physically after each ride. I can’t thank Peloton and it’s wonderful instructors enough, for the light they bring into my home daily.
Regarding the community aspect, am I still friends with people from my old gym? No, not really..and I am OK with that, because now I have my #pelofam. If I wouldn’t have joined a cycling gym (even though my original motivation wasn’t really fitness related), I never would have realized that I have a true passion for spinning! God works in mysterious ways.
Finally, if you haven’t given cycling a try yet, and have made it through this post…get off your couch…do a bit of googling… and get your booty to a class. You and your (soon to be toned) ass will thank me.
Note: This was NOT a sponsored post*
Also, if you are a rider on Peloton, comment below and let’s connect!
As I sit, still reeling that I have somehow cultivated plant life and my garden is yielding a sizable crop, …I run into the issue of ….
WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL??
I’m not complaining, as this is a splendid ‘problem’ to have. Nevertheless, I despise wasting food…especially food that I have worked so hard to grow. Anyone who gardens, or gets too handsy in the produce section, knows the struggle. Seemingly everything is ripe at once, and you can only consume so much before trashing it, and calling for pizza.
Case and point, alllll these babies were ready to go yesterday. In a household of 2, I needed to get creative and figure out a way to utilize everything before it wound up in the compost pile….my solution?
Crack open that icy box where unknown creatures lurk…
Freeze, freeze, freeze, baby,…freeeeeeze.
It’s a quick fix that many of us forget about. If you’re like me, and still have mom’s meatloaf from 2007 in the frosty depths somewhere…pitch it, and make room for some garden goodness. Also, I wish I were kidding about the meatloaf. Freezers have a way of harboring frigid fugitives…Please, please tell me I am not alone.
Moving on, I promised to let you in on the recipe for the greatest red cabbage you’ll ever eat. I’m getting there, and won’t disappoint. Pinky swear. Yes, I am that confident in this recipe.Yes, I have zero remorse for how cocky I sound.
Try it, and you’ll see.
Before I share the recipe… I have a confession: I was not a huge cabbage fan… until I rekindled my love for sweet, sour, delicious… German red cabbage.
However, I knew, if I planted it, I would be forced to muster up the courage to prepare and eat it. With my wedding around the corner…I am alllll about fibrous foods, that are figure friendly. Red cabbage is known for it’s *ahem* cleansing properties, so I planted away. Just look at this beaut.
After picking and washing 6 heads of cabbage, I did what any thriving, independent woman would do…
I called my mom and asked her how the heck to prepare it.
Digging through her old recipe box, she dusted off Gram’s recipe for German red cabbage. Instantly, I remembered how I loved this dish. However, it was one of those recipes that I didn’t even try to replicate, after my grandma had passed. I doubted that it would taste the same and feared failure. She typically used recipes only as guidelines. Always one to add a little ‘this and that’, rarely picking up a measuring spoon. Luckily, she truly followed this recipe, and it turned out even better than I recalled. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten about it for so long!
This stuff is life changing, guys.
For those of you who aren’t following a Ketogenic diet, feel free to prepare it without the modifications. I am rockin’ the #ketolife right now so you’ll see my tips on making it keto-approved.
Also, I just like eating it with chop sticks..OK?! German red cabbage eaten with chop sticks. Whatever floats your boat, right?
Here is the link to my fave sugar substitute which I used when preparing the cabbage:
Remember: use that freezer! Let’s reduce our waste by conserving food. It is such a simple thing to do, and makes a huge difference for our planet. Also, I challenge you to prepare a recipe which has emotional ties to your heart. If you have a dish that you miss making because of someone who has passed, pay homage to them and go for it! Maybe its uncle Joe’s apple pie, or Grandpa’s roast chicken. Even if it doesn’t taste the same, you’ll be glad you did. Pass your love on by preparing something that brought both of you joy. Take a moment and reflect on how much you value and miss them. Too often we are afraid of these feelings but they are healthy. Cooking is an art which elicits so many memories and awakens the senses. Make a conscious effort to cherish that, instead of running the other way.
Have a wonderful week, and let me know what you think of my German red cabbage. I’d love to hear about recipes that connect you to those who have passed, or are special to you. Please share!