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!
Happy New Year, to all of you lovely humans out there!
First off, I wanted to apologize for my brief absence on the blog. I took some much needed time off and am feeling refreshed and ready for another kick ass year. Cheers, and thank you for the sweet messages that were sent during my break!
Diving in, I thought I would start off the new year with some of my favorite products right now. A few of these items were Christmas gifts, some were simply amazing items I stumbled upon …and had to share. I should also note, everything being featured ranges in price and variety. Enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed checking out some of my favorite things! Please comment and fill me in on your January must-have’s.
So, today I wanted to do a post about some of my favorite shoes. Before I begin, I have to share how I managed to stumble upon (quite literally) the brand: Aerosoles.
Quick backstory, I broke my foot last December.
Y’all…I’d like to say it was doing something heroic or impressive. But alas, I was going to a high end holiday gala…when my teeny tiny stiletto got caught in a crack in the sidewalk. I fell, in front of a crowd, in a floor length dress, and proceeded to scream cry while bystanders watched in horror. I was the epitome of every woman’s worst nightmare. Instead of going to the hospital immediately, I decided to throw my heels back on and dance the night away. I was so embarrassed that I thought I could get up, shake it off and be cool. WRONG. Upon arriving home my foot had doubled in size. When I woke in the morning I headed into the doctors office and (surprise, surprise) I had broken 2 bones. I spent 4 months in a cast and 2 months in intensive rehab.
Moral of the story: guess what? Those cutesy stilettos… ARE. NOT worth it….especially in the winter!
Fast forward to today and you can bet your bottom that I have learned my lesson. I felt so silly at the doctors office explaining how I hurt myself because it was something so avoidable. However, my doctor informed me that these shoe related accidents happen quite often. After my injury, I searched and searched for shoes that were stylish but would give me the support that I needed. I am barely 5’3 and love to rock a nice heel. The thought of never wearing heels again filled me with sadness. Which leads me to my current favorite brand of shoes: Aerosoles! I swear, these are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. They are also on trend and all under $100!
Check out a few pairs that I love, also…they are all on sale!
This bootie is awesome with jeans and a fun fall/winter coat!
I can’t even with these red loafers….SO comfortable and a statement piece for the holidays!!!
I love styling this boot with a dress, cozy sweater, and leggings. Superb for the season.
You cant go wrong with a classic black bootie! Literally perfect for almost any outfit.
I love this boot because it’s a fun twist on a classic winter boot.
So, if you have never heard of Aerosoles, I sure hope you give them a try. Your wallet and feet will thank 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 am going to keep the text for this post short and sweet. I’ll let the pictures do the talkin’. We had our engagement session in Fells Point, Maryland. It was incredible how well they captured our love for each other. We cannot wait to be married next fall. Enjoy!
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.
As promised, I’maaa be open with you guys. That being said, I wanted to share my most recent beauty endeavor:microbladed eyebrows.
I need to note, this is not a paid ad, nor I am trying to sell you anything. I simply needed my readers to know about a service that has made my life so. much. easier.
First of all, for those of you who may not know what the heck microblading is, you’re not alone. Microblading is a form of semi-permanent tattoo which lasts for about one year. It involves the use of tiny needles (instead of a tattoo gun) that make up a small blade. This helps deposit pigment under the skin, creating natural hair-like strokes.
Woah. Scary sounding, right?! Seriously though, I am an enormous baby and have zero pain tolerance. If I can do it, you can too. And spoiler alert: it wasn’t even that bad.
Why microbladed brows, you ask? Short answer… I was sick and tired of drawing them on like a cartoon character every morning. When it comes to beauty, my goal is to be as lazy as possible. Being able to roll out of bed in the morning, with my browz’ on fleek, was a huge #win. This girl has reallllllly light eyebrows. I’m talking practically nonexistent compared to the dark hair on my head (thank you hair dye). I was desperate for anything that would make my daily makeup routine easier and faster. And ohhhh did it ever.
I’ll walk you through the entire Microblading process from start to finish. I am hopeful that this post will ease the nerves of someone out there, in the blogosphere, who is on the fence about microblading.
At around 9am on a hot June morning, I arrived at my appointment and was kindly greeted by the staff. After a brief wait, I was escorted into a small spa room with a lovely reclining chair. Think… boujee pedicure recliner… meets dentist chair. It was glorious, they even had a cozy blanket and tea waiting for me! A friendly woman named Leila was my microblading esthetician for the process.
The first part of my appointment started with an analysis of my face, and what brow shape/color would look the most natural on me. I loved how precise and timely she was while doing this. Semi-Permanent makeup ON YOUR FACE is a semi-terrifying thought. However, my nerves were totally eased after this part and I was confident they would look perfect. Below you will see my barely-there, shapeless brows before anything had been done to them. Yikes.
Leila worked intently to create the perfect eyebrow shape for me. She used a combo of marker, and pencils to customize the right look. She even used a protractor looking thing to make sure the angles were correct (OK, okkkkkk, I guess you do use math in real life). The white goop is numbing cream, this stuff was fantastic. After applying the gel, I relaxed for about a half hour while it did it’s thang.
Once sufficiently numbed, she took out the tattoo tool (it looked like an exacto knife) and went to work. For those of you who have a tattoo, it did feel a bit like that. It was not painful, just an irritating repetitive scratching sensation. Without the numbing gel it probably would have been uncomfortable. She passed over each brow twice with the tool, and then coated them with a gel pigment. Here is a picture of my brows soaking in the color. She waited about 20 minutes before wiping the dye off. This step just ensures that the skin completely absorbs the color.
Here are my brows after wiping off the pigmented gel. The purple marker dots remained on my skin, but washed off after a few days. You can see my eyebrows look super natural and healthy. I was amazed! I had to return about a month later for one last application. We did the entire process over again. It did go much faster the second time because there was no need to re-draw and measure.
Here are my final results. I couldn’t be happier.
Microblading is something I wish I would have done years ago. My advice? DO IT. You’ll thank me. I will continue to go back every year, until I die, to have them retouched (no lie). I am amazed at how much time I had wasted trying to get that perfect Kardashian-esque brow. Although I haven’t quite reached that level of brow-glory, I’ll take what I can get.
Thank you for checking this post out! Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, I am always happy to respond.
I had my brows done at the following spa. Mention this post for a discount.
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!
I am relatively new to the whole ‘avo toast’ epidemic. To be honest, until a few months ago, I just didn’t see what all of the hype was about. That is…until I actually sunk my teeth into some. Whoa, mind blown, I’m a believer, you will be too. I promise.
There are infinite ways to prepare this delight. My favorite ways to enjoy cado’ toast are pretty straightforward. To begin, I like to cut the avo in half and gently peel away the skin. This makes it easy to cut into slices, on a cutting board. I have only recently started prepping the avocado this way. I used to simply cut the fruit in half, make vertical knife cuts, and then scoop the flesh out using a spoon. Although this method is completely functional, I prefer the first way of de-skinning the avocado to the latter. This applies only if you are making toast #1 or toast #3. For #2, cutting the fruit in half and mashing in it’s shell with a fork is perfect, and gets the job done. I like to use the mashed avocado version if my green beauty isn’t so green and starting to bruise…avo lovers out there know what I mean!
So, for toast#1, I simply cut the avocado into slices and lay them on a piece of multigrain bread. A few weeks ago my toaster wasn’t working and I couldn’t get a new one fast enough!! Anyways,for this version, I like to add fresh sea salt and a drizzle of EVOO. The rich flavor of the olive oil pairs nicely with the avocado. The sea salt also amps up the flavor. A resounding win.
Moving on to toast #2. As you can see, I mashed the avocado and put it on the whole wheat toast. I top this one with dots of sriracha and Himalayan pink salt! This is my fiances favorite. He was soooo not an avo guy, but as I started making these constantly, he eventually caved and is a huge fan. Yum! Perfect for anyone who likes to start their day out with some gusto!
My final toast, #3, is for all you minimalist’s out there. This one is obviously veryyyyy basic. Easy sliced avocado, on toast, garnished with a cute little tomato from my garden! I mean, it’s heart shaped, c’mon nature you’re too much, I love it! I make a point to top all of my toasts with salt, on this one I added some garlic powder too. Classic and delicious.
I’d love to hear what your favorite ways to enjoy this tasty treat are! It is so versatile and can be eaten at any time…perfect for snacks, actual meals, and even… dessert? Maybe not dessert…but you get the idea. Please comment and enlighten me, I am ever eager to try new versions of this sweet, sweet, delicacy. All. The. Yum.