4 Things I Wish We Knew Before Tiling Our Shower

With our bathroom project coming to a close – I wanted to share a few of our trials and tribulations, specifically from tiling our entire shower from floor to ceiling.  Tiling the shower was never something we didn’t feel confident doing – we had successfully accomplished a smaller tiling project a few years prior, so how hard could this be? *smiles*
Tiling Lessons - the bee life (1)
To preface, we did extensive research and YouTube how-to video watching and there were definitely a few steps that these DIYers seemed to leave out of their tiling videos that sort of killed us, from a timing and extra work perspective. Also – a lot of DIYers were using individual tiles vs. the sheets, so I couldn’t gauge if we needed to do anything special or not!

What I Wish We Would’ve Known

(1) Over Estimating Tile Purchase by 10%  Soooo this was something I’d seen on the inter webs, but not something we accounted for – this involved us having to run out and buy a couple more boxes of tile, while we were mid-way in the tiling game. This meant extra money we weren’t planning on spending. Not to mention a few of the boxes we’d purchased included broken tile sheets – so we were able to exchange/return others we worked with. We also hadn’t accounted for ceiling tile – so this was something we also had to pick out and purchase while we were prepping for this project.

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Bee Holiday Hacks – Christmas Cards

With the holidays quickly approaching, I wanted to share one of my holiday hacks for Christmas cards!  I love creating and sending Christmas cards, and usually like to get a head start on these – but I really got a jump start on this year and also wanted to share some other ways I like to share the Christmas spirit in a thoughtful and personal way, so you can too!
Holiday Hacks - the bee life
Plan Ahead.  Christmas cards can sneak up on you, so try to plan ahead whether it’s booking a portrait session with your honey or family at the end of Summer or early fall, or it’s getting ahead and ordering small batches of cards as you can.

Take Advantage of Freebies! 
I love Shutterfly – and luckily because I have the app and get notifications I can pick and choose which promos I want to take advantage of.  Shutterfly and Tinyprints were having 10-free cards throughout the month of October which can save you a ton of money when you’re only paying a few dollars for shipping!  You can also do this for address labels – I was buying Christmas patterns in the Summer!

Mix It Up.  Don’t be afraid to mix-up your Christmas cards.  Sometimes I can’t decide on which style, color or pattern I like – so I order multiple versions!  This is also a great way to use multiple photos for a gallery or one for more of a statement.  It’s also OK to not send photo-cards to everyone on your list, buy some fun Christmas cards to mix into your group, that way you won’t be breaking the bank!

Glam Your Envelopes.  Don’t be afraid to pick a colored envelope or add in a paper insert.  These can be fun surprises to recipients and pull the entire look of the cards together.  Also, if you use a darker envelop color it can be a fun way to write in gold when addressing your envelopes!

Personalize It.  Beyond sharing vacation pictures or memories throughout the year with friends and family that you might not see often, I always like to at least write our names or a little note on the back of the cards. Sadly, Christmas cards can easily be impersonal with the easy ability of printing/typing whatever you want to say!  So try and find ways to personalize it so you’re friends and family don’t feel like an after thought, or you just stuffed a card into an envelope.

Holiday Hacks - Cards - bee lifeIf you’re going the photo-card route, these can add up quick, so find ways to either use a promo code or take advantage of those promotions to get some free holiday cards!  Don’t be afraid to mix-up your styles or photos, my one go-to design pick is always trying to mix in some plaid and having a picture of Moz or two.  One last hack is making sure to purchase Christmas stamps in mid-November, AKA now, so that you can get the cute designs before they run out!

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Shop My Cards: Merry Colorful Holiday Card from Tinyprints | Diagonal Wishes Holiday Card from Tinyprints | Gradient Scripted Merry Christmas Card from Shutterfly | Cheerful Foliage Christmas Card from Shutterfly

Easy Holiday Decor for Under $10

There are easy ways to bring a little holiday impact to your home before you lug all of the Christmas decorations down from the attic.  Not only are these simple, they’re also budget friendly pieces you can sprinkle throughout your home to help spread a little holiday cheer and get in the holiday spirit without going full blown Christmas just yet!
Easy Holiday Decor - the bee life
(1) Seasonal Hand Soaps.  Scents are a great way to incorporate the essences of the holidays into your home before all the halls are decked with garland and lights.  These are easy to switch out throughout the home from your kitchen to bathrooms with plenty of affordable options like Mrs. Meyers hand soaps holiday scents (pine and peppermint) are just $3.99 or $6.50 if you’re shopping Bath & Body Works stock up and these will last you well into the New Year!

(2) Festive Hand Towels.  This is another easy switch for your kitchen or bathrooms to bring in some festive colors for your hand towels, plus if you’re shopping at Marshalls or T.J. Maxx you can often get these in 2-or-4 packs for under $10.  I love having seasonal hand towels throughout the home to keep the holiday decor throughout, plus the patterns or themes are so cute, they’re hard to turn down!

(3) Seasonal Candles.  Not only do these smell like the holidays, they’re often festive with fun plaid patterns, deep greens/reds, or have glittery gold text that just screen Christmas!  I love picking these up as they start hitting the shelves, especially the smaller ones you can find at Marshalls for $2.99 — T.J. Maxx online also has this adorable Buffalo Plaid printed candle for $6.99 that goes right along with my latest obsessions!

(4) Scented Pinecones.  Again, bringing scents into your home can make the feeling of having a real pine tree in almost any room – scented pinecones can also double as a simple centerpiece that will last beyond the Christmas decorations and into the cold winter months.  For $3 at Michael’s all you need is a packet or two of these scented pinecones in a big bowl for your dining room and wah-la you’ve got a centerpiece.

(5) Wall Hanging Twig Tree. Oh my gosh! I stumbled upon this as I was dreaming through Target’s holiday decor collections and fell in love with it immediately!  Not only is it simple and rustic, it can double as a Christmas tree for sentimental ornaments (and would be great for a small apartment), or just have a string of lights wrapped about it or even used for Christmas cards – best part is it’s $10!

(6) Festive Garland.  Having a mantle, garland is an easy way for me to incorporate the holidays by focusing on one focal point in the house without decorating every nook and cranny in the house.  If you’re just wanting a touch of holiday flair to get into the holiday spirit, World Market has these super cute garlands for $9.99.  6 Holiday Decor Under $10 - the bee life
Shop the decor: Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap | Be Merry Garland from World Market | Wall Hanging Twig Tree from Target | Buffalo Plaid Candle from T.J. Maxx | Season Hand Towels from T.J. Maxx | Scented Pinecones from Michaels

I’m jonesing to pull out all our Christmas decor and get the house holiday ready – but I like waiting until after Thanksgiving. Although I’ve already started with the evergreen candles and hand soap and have been making big plans for our holiday decor and switching up our color theme this year (but more to come on that)!   Have you started getting ready for the holidays yet?

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Image Source: Country Living Historic Tudor

Bee’s Pre-Vacation Checklist

Not a great planner? Well I wanted to share my Pre-Vacation checklist with you in case you needed a little help when you’re getting ready for your next trip – there are so many things that need to get coordinated, from pet sitters, bills, work and all the last minute things you forget about!  Here are 6-easy things things to help you stay organized and get all the things done before you go!
Bee's Pre Vacation Checklist - the bee life
(1) Schedule your Mani & Pedi 2-3 Days Before Departure.  I love having a fresh mani and pedi for major life events and vacations! So for me it’s crucial, and something to schedule closer to your departure date so you can ensure your nails stay un-chipped and vacation ready,

(2) Get Your Spa Appointments in the Week Before.  Depending on what kind of vacay you’re having or where you’re going.  Whether it’s getting a nice base tab with a spray tan, getting a fresh haircut, or a bikini wax for the beach! Make sure to space these out or get them scheduled a week or so before vacay.  Remember – you don’t want to be too busy right before you leave, because that won’t help with the stress!

(3) Plan Your Outfits Ahead of Time.  It might feel like it’s too soon to pack but setting aside outfits two or three weeks ahead of time will help you fill in the blanks if needed! This also saves time of doing loads and loads of laundry just before you leave for that last minute piece you decided to wear – not to mention if you need to go shop for anything you’ll have time to make sure you have a vacation ready wardrobe.

(4) Organize Your Confirmation Codes & Reservation Details.  It’s important to get all your reservation details organized into a central place that will be easy to reference on the road – that means your flight numbers, rental car and hotel check-in.  I like doing a quick screen grab and favoriting on my phone so they’re easy to find and adding details in my notes section as my back-up.

(5) Set A Reminder On Your Phone for Flight Check-Ins.  24-hours before you’re flight you’re able to check-in, and this is something I always forget – I don’t have airline apps or get email notifications, so I need to set my own reminder.  With a quick and easy reminder 24-hours before I remember to get all checked in, don’t forget to do this for your trip home!

(6) Pre-Schedule Vacay Activities.  Whether it’s a special dinner reservation, tickets for a famous tourist attraction, check out ticket pricing and times ahead of the trip.  This is especially important if you’re heading to city destinations like NYC or DC.  We quickly found out that we wouldn’t have been able to eat, or at least not at a decent time if we didn’t have a dinner reservation in either city! Same with famous destinations, tickets and crucial times quickly get snatched up – planning ahead will relive stress and allow you to see and do all those picture perfect places.

As much as vacations are for relaxing, they’re a bit stressful leading up to them so with a little pre-planning and organization you can be a little less stressed and straight to vacation mode!  Also, make sure you have a vacation ready wardrobe with these tips, seen previously on the bee. Do you have any pre-vacation rituals when you travel?  Leave a comment below!

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5 Hosting Tips for Fall

It’s getting to one of my favorite times of the year – the time for holiday parties and plenty of opportunities for hosting friends and family.  Whether you’re planning an intimate sit down dinner or a more festive party, these five tips will help cover your bases, wow guests and have a fun night to remember!
Party Hosting Tips - the bee life
These tips will also help you relax as a host while still having those finishing touches and taking your party to the next level.

  1. Consider a Bulk Signature Cocktail. Signature cocktails can be fun, especially if it’s more of a seasonal drink for the fall and winter months.  As a host pro-tip, make these in bulk ahead of time in a pitcher or shaker – that way you won’t be stuck making everyone a drink as they come in.  Don’t forget the garnish and a fun cocktail napkin to top off the full effect!
  2. Make a Killer Charcuterie Board. This can serve as your focal point and will cover the bases on a variety of food categories from meats and cheeses, to breads, jams, nuts and fresh fruit that will make guests want to dive right in.  Check out Skinnytaste or Spend with Pennies on some tips to making a killer board.
  3. Don’t Forget the Dessert! It’s easy to get caught up figuring out the main dishes for the evening and overlook the best part, dessert!  This is something to keep simple whether it’s buying some more expensive chocolate bars, baking fresh chocolate chip cookies or asking friends to help bring this, so you can check it off the list!
  4. Plastic vs. Non-Plastic Plates. The great debate on which to use continues! I often shy away from plastic because I prefer the aesthetic look of plates – but depending on which type of party you’re hosting, one might make more sense than the other.  For example a more intimate dinner party or smaller guest count may call for plates to add that extra touch, but if you’re having a large party that is a bit more casual save yourself the end of the night clean-up and grab plastic bowls and plates!
  5. Create Welcoming Smells. This can be an easy victory – if you’ve been prepping food all day, your house might have a mixture of smells, so to clear it up light a few candles with similar scents throughout your home (don’t forget the bathroom!) or throw in some chocolate chip cookies right before guests arrive for a homey welcome.

If you’re looking for inspiration to host a fall party and ways to keep it simple read; 5 Reasons to Host a Fall Party.  And don’t forget to have fun and enjoy your own party, as the host it’s easy to get caught up in perfection and making sure everyone else is taken care of – but don’t forget to grab yourself a drink too!

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Image Sources:  Skinnytaste \ The Effortless Chic | Apartment 34

6 Budget Friendly Ways to Upgrade Your Home

We were fortunate enough to find a home that didn’t require a lot of major renovations or immediate upgrades – for us a lot of it was taking out the 40-years of style, giving it a little bit of love with easy cosmetic updates.  And because of that we were able to make a huge impact with these budget friendly upgrades, without breaking the bank which allowed us to splurge on grown-up furniture and help cover those surprise homeowner expenses!
Budget Friendly Upgrades for Your Home - the bee life
So I wanted to share the wealth! Here are a few tips and ways you can upgrade your home without spending a ton of money.

Paint. A gallon of paint can work WONDERS!  We literally painted our entire house, including the ceilings ,and just alone from a paint perspective the house looks like a completely different place.  Another pro tip is working from a similar color palette which can help save costs and create a cohesive flow throughout your home.  Painting with lighter colors or even the ceiling can help make a room look bigger and brighter with just 40-bucks and a little bit of elbow grease.

Light Fixtures & Ceiling Fans. This was a project we worked on updating throughout the house when we first moved it.  Updating old ceilings fans, to something a little more white and modern can help make the space look larger and blend more into the room vs. a bit eye soar.  One of my favorite updates was our dining room chandelier it always gets a ton of comments and looks almost original to the home.

Blinds & Curtains.  We had 1-inch blinds throughout the house when we first moved in and gradually updated all of the blinds to 2-inches.  They look that much more high-end and help with privacy and darkening the room.  Adding in some curtain shears overtop help to add dimension and also makes the room feel cozy and inviting.  You can also help make a statement with a fun patterned curtain in a room that might be more subtle and subdued – just be careful these can sneak up in price especially if you’re shopping for a new curtain rod.

Hardware.  Although this can add up quickly, it doesn’t compare to a whole new kitchen. Updating your hardware or plumbing fixtures can be easy and a more affordable way to make a statement in rooms that need a little extra love.  We updated our faucets in our kitchen and bathroom, and although we’re still waiting for the major reno for both these spaces – it helps!  Adding different knobs in our kitchen helped getting out the old and adding in some new.

Flooring.  Whether it’s ripping up some old dingy carpet to unveil beautiful hard wood floors or buying a nice statement rug for a room – these are other ways to pull the look and feel of your room together and add a more finished look. If you’re shopping right you can usually find a good deal or discount on a rug, too!

Pops of Color.  This can be accomplished with blankets, pillows, photos or a fun tabletop lamp.  Using pops of colors in accent pieces, decor or accent furniture can allow you to update a bit easier if you are ever in need to switch out seasonally or ready for an upgrade.  One of my favorite ways to do this is with H&M’s pillow covers.

It’s easy to want to go all out and make everything perfect when you first move into a new space/home – but it takes time and money!  Hopefully these tips can help you get your home into a better place as you continue to figure out and finish your space.

Questions? Comment below!

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Bee’s Tips for a Vacation Ready Wardrobe

For our honeymoon, we were headed someplace warm during our cold months – but that also meant we were going to have a pool available to us 24/7 while we were away, so I became a bit swimsuit obsessed.  And since then, it’s expanded to having comfy day-outfits, and evening wear that is on trend for our vacay destinations, especially those warm spots!  The fun part of vacations is that you’re traveling and exploring someplace new – so it’s an opportunity to have a little more fun with your wardrobe and pull out all the stops!
Bee's Tips Vacay Ready - bee life blog
Here are some tips and tricks I use to help find not only the perfect pieces but also some great deals to help build my vacation ready wardrobe!

Pre & End of Season Sales.  These are great especially if you’re vacationing someplace warm in the traditional ‘off season’ – I love taking advantage of sales on swimwear and other summer dresses at places I wish I could shop at more regularly like Athleta, The Loft or Anthropology.

Amazon. Amazon is not the first place I go to when I’m shopping for clothes, but lately it’s been a spot I’ve been checking out especially for coverups, casual rompers, or dresses. I think what I love the most about shopping for clothes on Amazon is the ease of customer reviews, tips and photos that help guide sizing or my steer you away from a bad purchase – plus you can’t beat the affordable prices or two-day shipping!

Research Your Destination. Do some research on your destination and look at historical temperature data so you can somewhat plan appropriately, like if it cools down in the evenings it might be wise to pack a jacket or jeans!  Also it’s good to research some spots you might want to visit whether it’s a day outing, evening dinner, or brunch spot – so you can plan outfits accordingly and have versatility for your destination.

Build on Current Pieces.  Especially when it comes to bathing suits – sometimes it’s more affordable to just buy a fun new bikini top or more conventional bottoms that work with other pieces!  This goes the same with cover ups or finding pieces that can easily go from pool to dinner with a change of shoes and a little extra mascara.

Living in the midwest, the warm clothes see a blimp of daylight and often have a a couple years of live under them – that’s why I like shopping for some new pieces for our upcoming trips, it makes them feel ever more special than they already are!

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Tips for Swoon Worthy Engagement Pics

Planning your engagement photos?  With the Pinterest & Instagram the exposure and pressure to have pin-worthy engagement photos is kind of a thing.  There are sooo many stunning photos out there it’s a bit intimidating! So how do you make yours special? Well, I have a few tips to help make sure these photos are swoon worthy, personalized and show stoppers.

Wardrobe.  If you really want something show stopping, yet simple – steal the show with a jaw dropping look. Whether it’s a gorgeous skirt, bright color in front of a stark back drop, or a casual look on a fall day – don’t skimp on the wardrobe! Also ladies, don’t forget about your significant other and making sure they step up to the plate and match your look.  Just remember, wear what you’re comfortable in, and true to you both as a couple!

Location.  Beach? Forest? City-scape?  Your favorite diner? With the help of your photographer scope out your spots, and see what might work – but have a couple ideas in mind.  Working to get multiple locations in one day? Make sure they’re close, and again chat with your photographer too see what might be possible. Don’t forget that some of the simplest locations will result in the most stunning pictures.

Time of Day.  We wanted some beach photos, and our photographer recommended sunrise photos instead of sunset.  Although we had to get up super early, the sky was perfect, no one was around and we were able to capture some gorgeous shots.  Evening photos could get tough and might need lighting to be involved, which could be a bit more costly, and some locations might not allow photography, so be sure to ask ahead of time if you photographer doesn’t!

Photographer. Finding the right photographer that has a portfolio inline with your vibe is important! But don’t forget about working within your budget – since you still have to save up for the big day! Although, this is a good test run to see how you’ll work with them on your actual wedding day.  Some photographers might also offer a package for engagement & wedding day, so be sure to ask!

For B and I, it was a little awkward at first, posing, kissing, and trying to look longingly at each other.  But once we got warmed up, we started to get the hang of it and have a little more fun.  Also have fun with props (balloons, your pup, fresh flowers) and don’t over think it – but also talk with your photographer and be sure to share your vision and even a few examples from your Pinterest board to show some different angles or inspiration!

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Missed Out? Or planning your wedding? Check these out:  Our Engagement Photos Tips for Creating your Wedding Registry How to Plan your Honeymoon Our Wedding Sneak Peak

 

Image Sources: Black & White Close-up Blue Tulle Skirt White Dress Kiss Forest  Hands & City

3 Tips for Hosting a Summer Dinner Party

With a little over a year with our back patio, we made it a point to have both dining and relaxin space – making it the perfect spot for a classic dinner with family and close friends.  We hosted, the first of many dinners on the patio and it was the perfect combination of all the things that make a dinner party great a classic and easy menu, a stunning table setting and awesome company.

My favorite part about hosting a party or dinner is the planning that goes into it and the opportunity to make a special memory for our guests, while also having a fantastic meal and great company.  It’s about making the night special from all the other dinners we have every other night and giving the people you care about a little extra love.
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I’ve realized that hosting a dinner or party for some may seem super daunting and overwhelming, but focusing on these three things helps keep it simple while also allowing you to enjoy the night as well!

The Menu. We kept the menu simple, healthy and refreshing for a warm summer day.  We opted for chicken and steak kabobs mixed with mushrooms, peppers and onions.  We had a fresh mixed greens salad with cucumbers and cherry tomatoes (cheese on the side for us non-dairy folk) and a fresh fruit salad with blueberries and strawberries.  When it comes down to it, there are just a few staples that just can’t be beat – not to mention we had plenty of kabobs that we were all stuffed!

The Setting. I had fun dressing up our not so glamorous outdoor table with placemats and neutrals. I used a variety of outdoor friend pieces like the plastic salad plates and glasses from Opalhouse while bringing out some nicer Kate Spade serving dishes and fabric napkins.  The neutral base let the table be the center of attention with it’s bright colors and inviting feel with the mix of patterns.  Pro Tip: dress your table and prep as much food as possible before your guest arrive so you’re able to enjoy their company and a cocktail!

The Company.  Although I love large parties, sometimes it’s better to keep things small – so we had my parents and B’s parents up. It was the perfect mix of company and conversation was able to be had with everyone vs. side conversations or too much noise, especially if this is your first major dinner party – keep it small and low key so the impress isn’t stressing you out.

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The best thing about hosting is that you’re able to call the shots! From the menu, to the vibe you can set the tone for the evening – but it’s always important to make sure your guests are taken care of first and feel welcomed!

Cheers!

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