Travel Tips for Planning an Affordable Weekend Trip

I love taking trips with B to new places we’ve never been! We always try to get a couple trips in throughout the year, some bigger and grander than the ones, and some are just longer weekends away that are more affordable and sprinkled into the mix. If you’re a working couple like B and I, not only are we juggling busy family/friend commitments and house project bucket lists, but have this thing called PTO that makes traveling as much as we want too somewhat limited… especially when you throw other life items into that PTO mix. So I’ve got a few travel trips to not only help plan out more trips, but also how to save some pennies while still exploring and eating your way through new places.
TravelTips(5)Ok! Here is how to plan an affordable and fun weekend getaway!

1. Scheduling A “Long” Weekend. We always like to try and plan trips around holiday weekends, that we already get a day off from work for, or a timeframe when we’re already going to be taking some PTO off.  For me, I like to take my birthday off, and the next day (because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and why not) — so I already had two days that budded up to a weekend! Leaving on a late night flight, on a Thursday night can also help eliminate the need of taking multiple days, giving you a full three day weekend!  If you’re looking to take advantage of those summer long weekends (Memorial Day, Labor Day or 4th of July) — you’ll want to plan a bit more in advance to avoid higher fees or not being able to secure a place to stay!

2. Picking Your Destination – Part 1. If you have a destination in mind, then head down to tip #2. If you’re not quite sure on how to figure out where to go, there are a few ways! First determine how you want to get there, flying or driving?

    • Driving: Then if you’re driving determine what your maximum drive time will be. From there, I’m pretty old school and will pop over to Google Maps and do some ‘Destination’ plugging into of some near-ish cities or destinations that sound adventurous. Last March we headed to Chicago because it was a cool 6-hour drive and within our time limit, plus we’d never been there together – and previously we drove to Washington D.C. for a surprise trip that B planned for our anniversary.
    • Flying: Since we are planning for a longer weekend (3-4 days) we went to our local airports website and searched their nonstop flight destinations.  Our airport flies to a lot of Florida destinations, and a few in between so I started my search there — now head to Part 2. Looking for early flight times and ensuring you’re on the nonstop are also clutch to making sure you’re getting the most time and bang for buck!

TravelTips(1)3. Picking Your Destination – Part 2. Affordable is the next piece of the puzzle, we wanted to keep our long weekend trip under $1,000 and even more so if possible ($500 – $600 was our sweet spot).  So I popped onto Expedia and did a combo Flight and Hotel search for a few destinations based on the nonstop flights from our airport. We checked Miami, Sarasota, West Palm Beach, and even Charleston but they were just a tad pricey for what we wanted, and where we would want to stay in those spots.  Then I pivoted to a few East Coast cities: New York City and Philly. Since we’ve been to NYC before, we passed — and Philly was hitting our sweet spot, and the Expedia search helped me narrowed down the airlines and accommodations.

Pro-tip: When you have your accommodations and airline determined, check the native websites for those vs. booking directly through Expedia — you just might find it cheaper directly through the airline and hotel (we did!)

4. Finding Your Accommodations.  In Chicago we opted for a smaller boutique hotel, because we were able to find it more affordable than mainstream hotels (it was also in the perfect location).  Again, I looked for smaller, boutiquey spots and found Sonder — they lease out rooms in buildings in the area, all with a fun style and unique name. It’s also close to the airport, so that will make it easy to grab an Uber to and from!

    • When you’re considering where to stay, again I like to pull up a map and look at key landmarks/destinations that we want to visit and look for some that are generally walkable!
    • Reading reviews is also a great way to gain insight into smaller boutiques or spots that aren’t as mainstream like a Hyatt or Marriott.

Pro-tip: If you can pick a spot that friends or family live to save on accommodations, do it!  Even asking where family or friends might have a house or time share can be another affordable way to cover the cost of your stay!

TravelTips(2)5. Figuring Out Where to Eat. This is going to sound SOOO millennial, but it’s how I’ve found some great gems on all of our trips: Instagram. I start following traveling accounts for our destination and find all the foodie accounts to start creeping and finding all of the spots.  From donuts, to bakeries, brunches and the best dining spots — you can literally find it all and then pop over to their websites to make reservations or see full menu offerings.

I also like to find places to eat by browsing through OpenTable — this makes it easy to book a reservation for the night your looking for, and there are often user generated and restaurant provided photos, ratings and reviews and easy to flip through menus for all their offerings. Another great way is asking for recommendations from friends or family if you know they’ve been!

Pro-tip: Make a Reservation! If you can, make reservations to ensure you’re getting into the hottest spots, when you want to eat, especially in bigger cities like Chicago, Washington D.C. and NYC the lay of the land is through reservations.
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6. Planning Activities. Heading to a cities travelers bureau via social media or online is another great resource to find key locations to visit or a little less mainstream spots.  Strategically planning activities around your hotel or farther away on certain days can help you optimize your travel days. Also purchasing any tickets ahead of time to visit popular landmarks is crucial, especially if you want to check those off on the early visit times!

Planning and taking that weekend getaway, and checking off more cities on your bucket list doesn’t have to eat up all your PTO or drain you bank account! We will be heading to Philly next month and I’ll be sure to share in my recaps a round up of our travel expenses along with all our yummy eats and traveled spots. Have questions? Leave a comment, below!

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Fitness Friday 02.20

Happy Fitness Friday! Since the start of the year, I’ve been sticking tight on sticking to my workout routine and making sure I’m checking off the boxes each week. I’ve been feeling great, feeling slimmer and my jeans and clothes have been fitting great! Although, I was recently quickly reminded at how easy it is to fall out of a routine. FitnessFriday 02.20 - bee life blog
This Valentine’s Day we definitely over indulged on a few sweet treats and I also missed a workout or two, in addition to enjoying leftover cookie skillet for a few extra days (so good!)!  So what I quickly realized was that it’s easy to fall off a bit if, I’m not sticking to the workout routine that works for me.  I know myself, and I know I need to stick to a minimum of three days of a good workout, stick to a stricter diet and limit my cheat days — and any derivation of that hurts more than it helps!

Bonus is we’re only two months into the new year, so this reminder definitely comes at a good times, especially as busy season is quickly approaching.  I’ve been sticking to my goals and also know which ones I need to continue to work on, like my core strength!  What lessons have you learned about your fitness journey so far this year?

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5 Ways to Celebrate 30!

Secret time! I’m turning 30 in under a month. Second secret time, I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m really trying to embrace it, so excuse me as I put on a fake smile and try to embrace it all — and maybe go a little overboard in doing so. If you’re like me and hitting a big milestone this year, but can’t figure out how to celebrate, I’m here to help, with five fun ideas!
5WaystoCelebrate30_beelifeblogGet out of Town. Whether it’s a week long cruise or a weekend trip to a new city to explore sometimes getting out of town is just what the doctor ordered.  A good way to figure out affordable and easy places to get to for a longer weekend trip is looking at nonstop destinations that your airport flies too, finding a VRBO or bouquet hotel, or finding a spot that is drivable – 6-hours would be the max if you’re going for an extended weekend.

Boozy Brunch. If you’re a bee reader, you know I have a strong love for brunch, from the food to the beverages — you really can’t go wrong in my opinion. So instead of ordering a mimosas, order the mimosa kit and the waffles and enjoy the finer brunch things in life. This can be with family, gal pals or even just your number one.

Plan a Spa Day. Whether it’s solo, for a full day of R&R or an afternoon at the spa with your girlfriends — a spa day is a must to celebrate a big milestone birthday and simply relax! So make sure to plan out a day to get the works, from a facial, massage to your nails, this could even be a good gift hint to family or friends.

Night on the Town. If you’re a little more low key, it’s still important to treat yourself and maybe even splurge a bit! Whether it’s rooftop bar drinks, a high-end speakeasy or a nicer dinner spot, grab your core crew, throw on some sparkles and secure a dinner reservation – the best part is you can still be home by 9pm and jump right into those PJs.

Shopping Spree. Another way to celebrate the big day is going on a little shopping spree! If you’re like me, I don’t do a whole lot of clothing shopping out of guilt and other necessities. So, start saving a few extra pennies so you can really splurge and get a few new pieces to celebrate the new decade.

Last, but not least there is one other VERY important piece of any birthday celebration that should never be forgotten is the cake or two. Please never, ever, ever forget the birthday cake or your version of birthday cake. The best part is that after your birthday, you get to eat cake for breakfast, so you’re winning even after the big day. To try and embrace and overcome my 30 anxiety, I will definitely be celebrating with a few of these over the course of my birthday month!

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Valentine’s Day – 2020

Sending lots of love and sweet wishes to all my bee readers, a Happy Valentine’s Day ❤️!  I’ve been having a lot of fun getting the house ready, planning treats for Moz and even doing some scheming on something meaningful for my number one, B — and now the day is finally here! How’re you celebrating the love?ValentinesDay2020_beelifeblog
photo: Marina Claire & Co.

B and I will be cooking at home tonight, listening to Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra radio, may play a card game or two and will most likely end up watching Vanderpump Rules and falling asleep on the couch — and there is nothing else I’d rather do than spend it with my core unit of Moz and B.

Since we’re keeping it simple this year, I thought it would be fun to share fourteen things that B and I love to do together when we’re staying in:

  1. Watching basketball, specifically the NBA
  2. Cooking dinner
  3. Drinks on our back patio (when it’s warm out)
  4. Making breakfast and drinking coffee on the weekends
  5. Play cards, specifically Kings in the Corner
  6. Watch documentaries
  7. Scheme our next house project
  8. Just sit and talk — no tv, no music
  9. Host friends for dinner and drinks
  10. Late night facetimes with our west coast friends
  11. Play with Moz
  12. Watch Bravo
  13. Mini scrabble tournaments
  14. Morning or evening walks with Moz

Some of our best memories, are spending nights sipping on our favorite drinks, listening to music and talking the night away.  We also love whipping up a fun, delicious meal or two — I’m super excited for our Valentine dinner, don’t worry I’ll be sharing recipes if everything comes out as good as it seems!

xoxo

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Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Treats Recipe

Sweet treats are for the pups too! This recipe is coming to you just in time to spoil your pup this Valentine’s Day… or even National Dog Biscuit Day on February 23rd! My fellow dog lover and bestie, D first introduced these treats to us, since she made them for her pup and Moz’s BFF, Maybel. They’re even gluten free and have dog friendly favorite’s like pumpkin and peanut butter!  So since D and Maybel moved to the coast, Moz has been in need for some homemade, yummy treats — and what better time to spoil her than for Valentine’s Day?
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Dog Biscuit Ingredients:
– 3 cups of brown rice flour
15oz can of pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
– 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter
– 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
– 2 eggs

This recipe is pretty easy, the only thing that will take some time is mixing and then flattening out your dough – I also linked the pure pumpkin and brown rice flour above! It is quite messy to work with, so make sure to have extra brown rice flour on hand and readily available for multiple applications.

Pro-tip: I refrigerated the second half of the batch over night and prepped and cooked the next day and this was a bit easier to work with.
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Step-by-Step:

1. Preheat oven to 350 and get your un-greased cookie sheets ready!

2. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, I used a spoon and then just got my hands in there to mix everything together well. Optional: cover and refrigerate over night, for easier handling

3. After everything is mixed, divide the dough in half. Put brown rice flour down on your counter and heavily over your rolling pin. Then roll out half of the dough so it’s a half-inch thick. Cut with cutout shape of your choice, place an inch apart on cookie sheet.

4. Since this is a harder dough to work with, I did just roll a few balls together and pressed them down on the the sheet, while also making some cute dog bone and heart shaped treats for Moz!

5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. 35 minutes was enough for me to see the edges turning a golden brown. Let cool on a baking rack for 30-minutes.

6. Refrigerate or freeze baked cookies for longer storage, otherwise store in a room temperature treat jar for up to a week. When serving to your pup, feel free to add a thin layer of peanut butter on top for an extra special treat!
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My cookies didn’t come out looking the prettiest, but they soften a bit over time after they set and cook, Moz is definitely a little cookie obsessed as I was making these!  This recipe is from Betty Crocker and is a great one to keep on hand, especially since it’s a five ingredient recipe, and your pup will love them (plus you can even try a bit yourself – they aren’t terrible!). These are definitely Moz approved ✅🐶!

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Latest Obsessions 02.20

It’s Valentine week! And I have been obsessing over all things Valentine’s, can’t you tell?! From home decor, homemade valentines, picking out a meaningful gift and even getting wardrobe ready for the day of hearts — it’s been X’s and O’s, conversation hearts, everything pink and lot’s of love over here at the Bee residence, so let’s get to it!

Festive Valentine Sweaters. I couldn’t resist getting a festive oversized heart sweater for this Valentine’s Day!  I’ve had my eye on this sweater for some time now, but thought I would get it in grey or a lighter pink — but I went for the white with a bright red heart and I absolutely love it. Unfortunately these are selling out quick on Amazon, but I found a few other fun Valentine-heart inspired sweaters that you can still snatch up before the holiday!
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Shop the pieces: Red Heart Sweater from Loft ($59.50), Pink/White Amazon Heart Sweater ($26.99) + Prime Friendly option, Blue Hearts & Stars Sweater from J. Crew ($115), Sweater with Heart Elbows ($22), Dog is My Valentine Tee from Target ($14.99)

DIY Valentine Decor. From my floral letter X’s and O’s door hanger craft to my hand painted table runner, the Valentine crafts have been sweet and festive for a personalized touch around the house! I shared how I made this table runner for under $20! It was so easy, super affordable and makes such a sweet statement across the dining room table. If you want to see the full DIY breakdown, check out my blog post here. If you’re hoping to make some custom, cute and thoughtful Valentine’s — I made these cute wooden love letter’s that are festive and cute and perfect for everyone!
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Shop the pieces: Plain table runner from Amazon, Heart tassel garland from Target 

Galentine’s Brunch. I’m slowly regretting not actually hosting a Galentine’s brunch this year and will definitely have it on my to-do next year! What sounds better than a table of all your favorite girls, delicious brunch and mimosas? Not a whole lot, especially in the middle of February! In case you’re trying to finalize your Galentine brunch deets, check out my Galentine’s Brunch Planning guide, here!

Although I’ve been all about Valentine’s Day, I must admit I haven’t thought as much about a gift for my hubby, B — but the last few years, we’ve taken the less extravagant route and will probably spend our time staying in, cooking a tasty meal, playing some games and exchanging thoughtful notes/cards to each other. If you’re looking for something a little more meaningful, my Valentine Gift guide features five FREE ideas that will still show your Valentine how much you really love them! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Gift Guide: 5 Free Valentine Gifts

Valentine’s Day is a week away! So if you’re scrambling to figure something out — have no fear, bee life is here! Because trust me, it’s easy to forget about getting a Valentine gift, grabbing a card at the last minute and the last bouquet of flowers at the grocery store (p.s. I always love flowers).  In all the Valentine hype, I think we also forget that we don’t have to spend a ton of money to show someone we love them! My Valentine gift guide is not like the others… because these gifts will cost you $0 (or very minimum amount) and will still create a special memory and show your Valentine all the love!
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photo: Michelle M. Loufman Photography

Make a Spotify Playlist. This can be fun for you, while being super special for your boo (bonus: you can update it throughout the year)! I made a playlist for B, called #emnblovetracks (off of all of our hashtags) the playlist is stacked with songs we listened too when we first started dating, songs we love together, and other songs that just make me think of him, it’s the perfect mix to our love story. So once you spend some time creating your playlist, all you have to do is share the link with your mix-tape soul mate and a sweet little note!

Fourteen Days of Memories. It’s easy to just get something to check off the Valentine check list — so why not focus and show love before and beyond the holiday. Pick fourteen days to just share love. Whether it’s a daily text with a memory or compliment, a throwback photo, a handwritten note on a post-it note, or maybe it’s in the form of cooking dinner or an extra long hug.  Two years ago I did 28-straight days of little things for B and it was fun (& hard!) to think of different ways to tell B how much I love him — sometimes they were just lists of memories, things I love about him, or a cute little card that tied back to us.

Volunteer Together. Volunteering is the perfect way to share an experience together while sharing love to people or animals who might not be as fortunate.  Consider donating/sorting books for kids, getting involved at a local animal shelter (we walk dogs at ours!), collecting canned goods or even just going through your clothes or old things and pulling together a bag or two of items to donate! This gives you an opportunity to find a new passion, spend time together and give back.
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Make a Paper Card. Literally just take a piece of printer paper, fold it into fours, grab some markers and doodle it up, with all words, phrases, memories, or hearts and a cute little love sentiment. Inside spill your heart out, tape a picture and share your love to your special person.  The last card I made for B, I wrote in black market writing my favorite things he is to me… “running buddy, the office binge watching, coffee drinker…”

Watch a Classic Movie. One of my favorite romantic comedies is When Harry Met Sally and you can watch it for ‘free’ on Hulu! The music is dreamy, the characters are funny and the story makes your heart ache. BONUS: The Notebook is also available on Netflix *grins* — so grab some popcorn, cuddle up on the couch and enjoy a movie together.

We should always share and show love to our special people, and it doesn’t need to break the bank or be an extravagant gift every year — sometimes it’s good to just keep it simple and to the point 😍. xoxo

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Galentine’s Brunch Planning Guide

With Galentine’s falling on a weekend, it is the perfect excuse to host a brunch! And for me, there is nothing more that I love than a good brunch — not to mention, I think it’s one of the easier meals to host, while still being able to make an impressive spread that is tasty for everyone. But don’t worry, I have you covered from the menu, recipes, table setting, Valentine’s and decor, too!
Galentines_beelifeblog(2)When it comes to brunch food, there are a ton of great recipes that are overnight prep so all you have to do the morning of, is stick them in the oven and wait for your guests to arrive! Not to mention both casseroles are easy to prep, don’t require a done of ingredients and cover both bases for those friends who are sticking to a diet or maybe love indulging in a little something sweet! The overnight egg casserole is easy to switch out to be meat free if you’re accounting for any dietary needs. Fresh fruit with brunch is always a must, I like to go with blueberries, strawberries or raspberries – something colorful and health conscious to take away some of the guilt!

Galentine’s Brunch Menu:
– Overnight Casseroles: Breakfast Egg Casserole + French Toast Casserole
– Fresh Fruit
– Donut holes or Cinnamon rolls
Bloody Mary Bar
– Mimosas

Lastly the beverages for your Galentine’s Brunch are just as important as the food! Knowing your gal-pals preferences always helps streamline this, so you can have a mix of Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas or can stick to one. This post on how to create your own Bloody Mary bar can help you make a fun statement and if you’re planning for mimosas, be sure to grab a few extra juices besides the standard, like cranberry or pineapple plus your fresh fruit can garnish these too!
Galentines_beelifeblog(3)Set the Table & Decor. Since it’s your gal pals, keeping the table setting and decor simple, yet fun and festive is key and will also let you enjoy yourself too! Making your own table runner and place settings can help save some money with taking little time and effort on the crafting side, and still resulting in a big impact. This hand painted X’s and O’s table runner, I shared last week is just too stinkin’ cute and is pretty in pink for Galentine’s Day!

Also, don’t let your gals go home empty handed without a little keepsake; these wooden love letter Valentine’s can be customized with everyone’s names or fun little notes like, “U R CUTE” or “BFF4L” or “Ride or Die.” Adding a little note on the back is another way to send a little extra love their way! These will help finish off your table decor and filling these seats, while also bringing a big smile to your pals faces. And snag the colorful cute heart tassel garland from Target for only $6 to add to your table decor or hang in an entry way! Galentines_beelifeblog(1)Finishing Touches. Getting festive red or pink paper straws can be a fun touch for those Bloody Mary’s or the mimosas. Fresh flowers are always a nice touch if you wanted to switch out your table centerpiece.  Don’t forget to set the mood for your brunch with some music, check out my Heart Ache playlist or my emnblovetracks playlist for a mix of all those feelings of love. Heart Ache has a lot of good throw backs, especially some good ones to sing with your gals.

Happy Galentine Brunching!

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DIY – Wooden Love Letter Valentine’s

I love getting crafty and making my own Valentine’s especially when it comes to my hubby! A few years ago, I shared my go-to homemade paper Valentine, made from scrapbook paper, pictures, stickers and ribbon — but this year I wanted to mix it up and do something still crafty but different.
DIY_Valentines(3)I found these really cute wooden pieces at Michael’s for this fun DIY Valentine that is so easy and affordable to make by stacking them to make mini love letter envelopes with big hearts on them! Super easy, super cute and then you can personalize them for all your Valentines. The best part is these wooden Valentine’s can double as adorable place-settings for your Galentine’s brunch!

Craft Supplies:
– (1) Wooden Hearts – 21pcs
– (2) Rectangular Wooden Signs – 6pcs
– All purpose craft paint Valentine colors of your choice ($0.79 each)
– Hot Glue
– Smaller paint brush – I have this 7ct Paint Brush set from Target

Project Cost: $12
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Step 1: First things first, is to paint all of your wooden pieces — have fun with this and mix and match but pick colors that’ll compliment each other. I did a lot of white bases with pink or red hearts.  I also did a few pink and red bases with white hearts which was a fun pop!

Step 2: You’ll probably need to do a few coats, especially the white on the wood — it soaks up the color, make sure to paint both sides of the bases and let all your pieces dry with plenty of time!

Step 3: Once everything is painted and dried, you can hot glue your hearts onto your bases. I kept my centered, but you could offset to write if you wanted too!

Step 4: Personalize as you’d like with fun phrases, names, or cute messages on the heart and write a longer message on the back of the bases for all your favorites. If you’re using these as place settings for a Galentine’s brunch or dinner you can stick with names or write fun little notes for each of your bae’s.
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These little love letter Valentine’s are to cute, hand held and also dual purpose (which I also love!) So get your crafting pants on and head over to snag these supplies so you can create your own custom, cute and clever Valentine’s that will be the perfect keepsake for friends, family or all your gal pals.

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Gearing up for Valentine’s Day? Check out these easy painted Valentine themed table runner or this festive floral door decor!