Before & After: Fireplace Hearth Makeover

We did a thing! We finally checked off another house project… that oooohhhh has been on the to-do list for the last few years. It wasn’t a huge project, but it was a little one that makes a bit of impact in one of the most lived in rooms. We retiled our fireplace hearth and completely refreshed the dated red tile!
Tile-beelifeblog(2)Honestly the toughest part and reason this has been on the to-do list for so long was just deciding on and figuring out the right tile.  So I finally got smart and figured out my newest project hack, especially when it comes to projects like this! What is my little secret you may ask? I bought a few tile samples from Lowe’s to put them into my space to help envision the whole look.

The Tile Dilemma. I definitely wanted to go with something a bit more modern and pull in white tile into the space. I was initially thinking larger marble, then wanted to do a bit more of a hexagon pattern — but I just wasn’t sure! Then another part of me wanted to do something with a pattern or a bit more Spanish style. I grabbed four different styles that I liked and brought them home and saw how they worked with the rest of our patterns and textures and colors in our living room.
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The Decision. We ended up going with a off-white blue patterned tile that had a little bigger footprint, similar to the original red tile square. B even ended up finding a blue herringbone pattern that we ended up cutting to make a boarder, which helped keep the large tiles full all the way across without having lots of little pieces for an awkward boarder.

The Project. Demo took B all of an hour to get up the old red tiles, from there he bought some cement board to get the surface level and prepped for our new tiles! He did this over the course of the week, so we were queued up and ready to work on it come the weekend. We even ordered the remaining tile for in-store pick-up and it was in and out to keep our project time low.

We ended up renting a tile cutter from Home Depot and completed the cuts and project within a few hours. I am the tile worker, and B is my tile cutter! It worked out well and came together after some trial and error. The boarder tile was much thinner than the main tile, so we had to really build up with mortar. We also ended up using pre-mixed mortar and grout that we had left over for previous projects, I think we only needed to purchase an additional pre-mixed mortar to finish the project. So within a few hours we had our tile laid and cut into place in it’s new home.
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The Result. After giving the mortar time to dry, we were able to grout! We used the same left over grout we had from our Basement Bathroom Makeover.  The cool grey color really complimented the tile color and style we picked to make it a cohesive space. We also had to be a little smart with tile positioning and organic since we were working with an un-even 100 year old space that certainly was not perfect or level, no matter how hard we tried!

Shop our products: Elida Ceramica Porcelain Tile from Lowes | Boarder Midnight Satin Herringbone Tile from Lowes | Warm Color MAPEI Flexcolor Grout 

I must admit — when it was first finished I didn’t completely love how this turned out. But I did like it and was happy to get rid of the old red tile and gross grout. It’s grown on me some, I like the boarder because it helps break it up and keep the larger tiles even but it also throws me off! What do you bees think?

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Fitness Friday 03.20

Hey Fitness Bees! How are we holding up? It’s almost one full week down of this quarantine — have you totally rocked your fitness routine or have you completely stumped it? Last week when all the news started changing within 48-hours and schools started closing, my gym proactively closed for the same amount of time. I figured if anything, at least we will be able to workout and stay healthy!

Needless to say, I was selfishly upset, angry and super bummed — I was doing SO good staying in a routine with my workouts, getting my days checked off each week, while also sticking to a good routine with my food and nutrition. And now, that was going to get thrown away with 3-easy weeks of no workouts… and later to become quarantined and even working from home. Anyone else feel the same way?
FitnessFriday032020-beelifeblogBut, here’s the thing. I quickly changed that attitude into a mindset that I wasn’t going to let this 3-week (at a minimum) quarantine throw off my workout routine and all the progress I’ve made in the last 4-months. Sure, it’s going to change and look a little different and will be an adjustment — but I told myself I’m going to stay committed to getting my four workouts in each week. To help this first week, my coach and trainer has been INCREDIBLE and posting workouts every day, the first one ‘Corona FREE Body Weight Workout‘ was also clutch and I’ve been sore since Monday from it! This is definitely going to be a go-to for the next few weeks.

I’m also hoping to incorporate a few runs into the mix — of course, when weather permits. We are also making sure to get out almost each day to get Moz on a few walks. However, I’ve also come to realize and will again be faced with more fitness goal road bumps. I imagine and know that the two races we have planned in April will most likely get cancelled or rescheduled… meaning I’m again being pushed back from a few of my other 2020 Fitness goals that I felt like I was easily crushing.

It has been easier to get outside with Moz after I’ve gotten my work done by just walking downstairs — no commute home, no stops at the store, not to mention I’m ready for some fresh air! I’ve also been able to incorporate and be a little more flexible with my workouts, squeezing them in during lunch or late afternoon to adjust around work.

So, as a lot of us are feeling knocked down, we have to jump back up and push through stronger and focus on the positive, while taking care of our minds and bodies. We got this!

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30 Birthday Reflections

Well… reality happens and life doesn’t always go as planned and that is just simply life — no matter what else is going on, whether you’re fighting your way through your 30th birthday, planning trips or just simple dinner dates. Life can hit us quick for a fast reality check. And this last week has definitely been a slap in the face to just that.

I shared all of my grandiose plans that would be a month long celebration to help offset my anxiety of the start of this new decade, but with the recent pandemic happening around the world — things have definitely been put in perspective and shifted the anxiety away from 30 and more to the day to day. I know I am not the only one who can relate to this anxiety or even for some, fear.
IMG_5821So, trying to focus on more of the positive, I reflected on this past decade a bit — that of which was my 20’s. And I, 100% would not change how I’ve grown, what I’ve learned, and everything that has been accomplished in those last 10 years. I still grimace at some not so great points during my 20’s, but luckily those are few and far between. I also am so grateful for the places I’ve been able to travel, the love I’ve learned and life I’ve been able to build. And I know that with each year, I learn more, grow a little wisher and always have a lot more fun! So I will definitely work to get past the number and focus more on all of the other good things that come with getting older.

Which… is what we should all do in life right now, focus on the positive, do what we can on a day to day basis and make sure we’re staying healthy both mentally and physically and understand that most if not all things in life are fairly temporarily, especially the crazy moments. And understand and accept that a lot of life is not in our control, as much as we plan, want it to be, sometimes we just have to live and let be and trust in a higher power 💛.

So, here we go 30 you’re starting a bit crazy but I know you’re going to be good!

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Easy Birthday Inspired Cocktails

Let the birthday fun continue! Whether you’re having a big birthday bash or keeping it low key with a close group of friends, a fun and festive birthday inspired cocktail can be a delicious addition to the celebration! So I did a little research and had some fun experimenting to bring together a few of my favorite things for a tasty treat for these two easy and super cute cocktails.
BirthdayBeverages(3)Sprinkled Cranberry Rum 
Take your rocks glass and have some frosting in a dish, flip your glass upside down and twist the glass in the frosting so the rim is lined with frosting. Then take your vanilla frosted rim and roll in sprinkles to cover! Once your rocks glass rim is lined, add your ice cube ball and get ready to add your beverages. Add a shot of Bacardi Rum and then top off with your pink lite cranberry.

For both of these drinks I was looking for a cranberry mixer, but a lot of them had high sugars and a lot of carbs. I stumbled upon the Ocean Spray Pink Lite Cranberry cans at Target and read the ingredients and was pleasantly surprised and picked up a 6-pack!

Ingredients:
– Bacardi Rum
Ocean Spray Pink Lite Cranberry
– Ice Cube Ball
– Vanilla Frosting (homemade or store bought)
– Sprinkles
BirthdayBeverages(1)Pink Birthday Bubbles
This one is pretty easy, all you need is some bubbles and again lite pink cranberry and your frosting and sprinkles for your champagne flute rim. With frosting your a dish, flip your champagne flute upside down and twist the glass in the frosting so the rim is lined with frosting. Then take your vanilla frosted rim and roll in sprinkles to cover! Once your sprinkle rim is covered – just liking making a mimosas, fill your glass about 75% with you bubbles and then top off with your cranberry. Cheers!

Ingredients:
– Prosecco of your choice, I used Freixenet
Ocean Spray Pink Lite Cranberry
– Vanilla Frosting
– Sprinkles
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The frosted rim is so tasty and a yummy treat to enjoy as you sip or have once your glass is empty. I bought store made frosting, but would love to make my mom’s frosting recipe for this, especially if you’re already making a cake!  Of course the rim would also taste great with just a glass of plain ol’ delicious bubbles 🍾.

Now that you have a festive and fun birthday drink the birthday celebrating can officially commence — Cheers 🎉!

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3 Outfits for 30!

Just like NYE, a fun sparkly outfit to celebrate your milestone birthday is a necessity! In addition to having some sparkle — having a few tasteful and fun themed t-shirts can help with the whole mood of the day. So after doing some online searching for some fun and subtle tees, I fell in love with two different ones. One that plays a little more on the sweet side and another that is a little more rugged especially if you’re not loving your new speed limit sign as much — which is exactly my two sentiments of this birthday sweet and sassy, and let’s just face it, me in general.
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Check out to see the few different ways I styled these simple tees up for a nice dinner date or low-key day on the town — and why I love these pieces so much!

Original 1990 Pink Tee. I found this on Etsy and love that there are a variety of years to choose from, I’ll be snagging this for an upcoming 60th birthday celebration happening this summer for a very special lady. These shirts are SO soft and made of nice quality, have a variety of colors to pick from and also can have it be ‘original’ or ‘vintage’ with the year. I ordered a small and it fits great!

Straight Outta 1990 Tee. This was another shirt that once I saw it, I knew I needed to have. It has just the right amount of attitude and fun with a little edge — especially since I’ve been having a love/hate with this upcoming 30th birthday. Styled with jeans and some leopard flats it has a little rock n’ roll flair that I just love too.

Shop my pieces: Pink Original 1990 Tee | Straight Outta 1990 Tee | Sequin Skirt | Trouser Pants | Old Navy Jeans | Cheetah Flats from Target | Similar Katy Perry Heels | Similar Black Suede Heels from Target

Midi Sequin Skirt from Anthropologie. I snagged this gem during their winter sale (it’s still available and discounted by over 70%! It’s a classic piece to have for a fun occasion like this, to be dressy but still play it casual with either one of these tees I snagged. I also can’t wait to dress it up for some upcoming weddings this year!  I ordered a small (usually wear a size 8/10 jeans) and it fits well since I wear it higher on my waist.

High Waisted Trouser Pants. I first showed these in my Fall Amazon Fashion review and love the idea of these high waisted pants styled with the Original 1990 pink tee! Throw on some heels and blazer and you’ve got a classic, yet styled-up outfit for a birthday dinner out on the town and a bit more understated than the glitter skirt!

I also love both of these tees with my go-to Rockstar jeans from Old Navy especially since they’re high waisted and perfect for a tee tuck and either a fun pair of flats or some heels to dress up the entire look a bit.  Can’t wait to rock a few of these outfits this upcoming weekend celebrating the big 3-0!

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Must-Have Birthday Party Decor

With a few of the stress out of the way with my last post, it’s time for all the fun. It may be no surprise to my bee readers that March for me is all about my birthday and St. Patrick’s Day (only because it’s the day after), so that means eating cake, fun party plans and festive decor!  So, continuing on this birthday party train — here are a few finishing touches that are easy and essential for any party celebration and can really help pull in a thoughtful and personalized flair.
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Balloons. Ok, helium shortage aside — balloons are super fun and can be made affordable with the personalize helium tanks, and also make transporting and decorating easy and convenient to decorate in the party space! Bare minimum, having big gold numbers for the big milestone birthday is an absolute MUST. Ordering those off Amazon can also help save on cost and have the balloons shipped right to your door. Even adding a little bit of helium into balloons so they cover the ceiling with long pretty strings is also a simple yet bold look!

Polaroid Frame & Polaroids. This is another Dollar Store hack! If you grab their foam board, it’s conveniently the same rectangular size as a polaroid — so tracing and cutting out to make it a hand held photo prop is another fun way to make a memorable mark. You can even include a hashtag, date or event title on the bottom for all the pictures! Not feeling crafty? You can order customized ones from Etsy. If you have a polaroid camera, this is another fun way to capture memories and moments in front of a photo wall or all the faces who are helping celebrate!

Festive Centerpieces. As much as I love fresh flowers for parties and events, there are simple and cost effective ways to add a little party flair to dessert tables, centerpieces and food spreads.  Grabbing a bunch of party blowers from the Dollar Store and throwing them into small glass vases from the Dollar Store, is a fun and party festive way to add a little extra flair — and even more perfect if you’re throwing a surprise party!
PartyEssentials(1)Dessert. Whether it’s a fun party cake that represents the birthday bee’s personality and favorite flavors to a tee or custom sugar cookies with fun designs and year dates, having a variety of desserts, favorite snacks (like frosted animal crackers or chocolate covered pretzels) or just a super fancy cake, is a fun way to add another personalized touch while making the birthday bee extra happy. Don’t forget, left overs for breakfast!

A Signature Cocktail. A festive cocktail and even themed party cups is another easy finishing touch that can serve as a conversation starter and fun party favor! Whether the cocktail is a play on the number, or an ode to the birthday bee’s favorite beverage and mixer with a fun garnish, patterned paper straws or golden party umbrellas for a fun birthday beverage!

Simple Photo Collage. Creating a simple photo wall of the birthday bee can be the perfect way to celebrate the big milestone birthday and looking back at all the years before! Using a string and festive clothes pins can be a cute way to display all the pictures, also clipping onto your blind strings is another alternative that can help fill up a space without making away from streamers and other fun party decor!
PartyEssentials(3)Another easy way to help keep yourself on track and also having a cohesive look for your next birthday bash is picking a theme whether it’s a 90’s throwback theme, a color scheme, or a mood you want to invoke — this can help keep you in line for picking all these finishing touches and really make a statement!

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My Truth About 30.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this post, how I wanted to approach it, how far I wanted to go, how honest I wanted to be, which direction I wanted to take it… IF I even wanted to write and share this post. And here we are. A few weeks before my 30th and I really did want to share a bit of my truth around my resistance towards turning the dreaded 30.
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photo: Michelle M. Loufman Photography

First things first, I’m not sure if it was my 16th or 18th birthday (my mom probably knows) that I really wasn’t thrilled about getting older, but ever since then I never liked getting older and have had a bit of Peter Pan syndrome with every birthday that comes (except for my 21st 😝).  So there has always been that, plus I’ve never really liked old wrinkly people and I don’t want to get old — plain and simple as that.

The second reason is all the social pressure that comes with 30, especially as a married woman. This social pressure and expectation of starting a family. There was a point in my life when I did think about having kids (very, very briefly), because that was what you do, you get married and you have kids and that is life. The second part of that thought was, I would want to have them when I was 30, because that’s how old my mom was when she had me, and she is my best friend now and I wouldn’t change that for the world — but this was always an added pressure that has continued to build as the years inch closer to 30.

Here’s the other thing, I’ve never been a baby person, I’ve never been that person who says “I can’t wait to have kids” or “I was born to be a mom.”  There are people who I know and are dear friends who have always openly talked about not if but when. And the when for me as of late has not been a question. But, B and I are on the same page, we have always been open and honest and have this conversation and this is, to me is what counts the most.

first photo: Michelle M. Loufman Photography

So why bother sharing all this? Well, I feel like there aren’t as many women out there sharing this perspective — maybe I’m only 1 of 10… maybe there are a few others hiding out there just waiting and hoping people stop asking or hinting at kids. Maybe, like me you feel confused, hurt and unsure about what is right and what is ok. And it wasn’t until I saw this interview with Margot Robbie that I just wanted to scream; “PREACH GIRL!” Society and the people around us, do a really good at making us feel like something is wrong with us because we’re different or don’t want the same things as the vast majority of the population do.

So there you have it. My double edge sword and truth of all my anxiety and fears of turning 30. I was recently critiqued for being a bit too honest and sharing my feelings, but that is honestly something that makes me, me and something I pride myself on especially in a world that is so politically correct all the time. And I always tell my mom, and B… I’m an open book you just have to ask me 😘.

So now with all that out of the way, let’s get to celebrating this birthday!

xox

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*DISCLAIMER: In two years, we could get hit by the baby bug (but I sure hope not)… but maybe it happens. In four years, we could decide we want to adopt and share our home with another soul who needs a bit of love on this earth. In six years, we might still be here with 4 dogs, traveling the world, hosting parties and loving on our nieces and nephews. And all of that is OK. 

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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