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, 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 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!
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.
engaged. fiance. wedding. marriage. ring. venue. cake. dress. budget. AHHH…. so. many. words….all spinning around in my head!
let the planning begin!
Although we have been engaged for about two months now, I still am not used to using these words to describe my life. Getting engaged is such a happy and magical thing, but it does take your brain a little while to adjust to this surreal feeling…please tell me I am not alone…!
Let’s dive into the good stuff. Our beautiful engagement story begins with a memorable drive home. It was a Friday, and I’ll be honest,…although excited for the weekend,… I was tired, crabby, sweating, and HANGRY. My 45 minute commute had fully gotten the best of me, and I was less than pleasant… if we’re putting it lightly. I called my (now) fiance…yep, still feels weird saying that…on the phone, to complain about all of the above things. He sounded flustered, but I didn’t think much of it, because I was being an irritating pain.
After 1.5 hours of sitting in traffic, above irritations had turned into full blown rage. I stormed up the stairs to our apartment, opened the door, and was greeted by my sweet man on one knee holding flowers, along with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. Nerves and joy spread across his face as he said, “Katie, will you marry me”? My jaw dropped, I was stunned, and my mood was instantly changed. I was seriously in full shock mode, I barely even squeaked out a ‘Yes’! *Side note: This ‘shock reaction’ phenomenon amazes me. We have lived together for a few years, tell each other everything, have thoroughly talked about getting married…how then, does a proposal illicit such a stunned reaction? This is fascinating to me because we both knew marriage was in our near future!!!
Right after he proposed, we danced around in our kitchen for a few minutes and then popped open a bottle of wine to celebrate! We quickly face-timed both sets of parents and they were equally as excited. My parents live about a half hour away, so we jumped in the car, and went over to celebrate together! That night we ordered in from our favorite spot, made a blazing fire outside, and truly relished the moment. What an imperfectly perfect day, I will cherish these memories always.