5 Tips for Dealing with Contractors

It’s that time of the year when contractors start to come out of the woodwork, random projects or emergencies pop-up and we’re at the mercy of depending on someone else coming into our home to help us complete vital projects.  To be honest, we hate working with contractors, they all seem to be the same in one way or the other and try to avoid whenever possible… but at the same time as handy as we are, there are a few projects where we just draw the line. So here are some pro tips for dealing with contractors!
Contractor Tips - the bee life
Ask Questions. It’s important to ask questions before you commit; How much? What is this price inclusive of? Are there any extra material costs? What are payment expectations and timing? How far out are you scheduling, how long will this take? And then it’s important to ask questions during the work; How’s it going? Have you run into any roadblocks? Why are you doing that?

Set Expectations. One of the things we’re often at the mercy of when it comes to projects is times and dates – often being inconvenienced during the work week or the weekend waiting around for untimely workers to show up. So not only it it important to set expectations for the work being done, but also set expectations around schedules. We’ve had contractors stay as late as 9:30PM on a Friday night… which was completely longer than they initially said and we were held captive, but also our faults for not asking or speaking up sooner.

Get It in Writing. This may be a no brainer, but it’s easy when you know someone or have a family friend contractor to want to make a commitment via phone or in person. But! These projects can often lead to unexpected things and it’s not uncommon for extra materials, additional time and added costs to creep in. Having the price, expectations, and deliverables in writing helps for peace of mind and something to point back to if things get shaken up.

Don’t Assume. Sometimes when you’re working with a contractor, they don’t aways do the work but bring in guys who do – it’s important to run through everything with the workers as well, even if the contractor already did. We ran into that with our patio this past year – they were going to completely miss a HUGE portion of the project and I called it out… they totally wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t mention it and then A LOT of rework and probably additional money would’ve been needed.

Create A Dialogue. Don’t be afraid to check-in with these contractors as work is being done, it may even be beneficial to set the president of checking in at the start of the day (What are you planning to accomplish today?) and then before they leave (Did you accomplish X, Y, Z? When will you be back?)  B and I often tip-toe around not wanting to hover or get in the way, but guess what! It’s your house, your money, and you can’t be afraid to offend someone, ask questions, or simply check-in on the process – because at the end of the day you’re living with the end product.

Working with contractors and home renovation projects in general is exhausting, expensive and always seems to take longer than originally planned – so that is why it’s crucial to set up the project with these tips to help with some of the headaches!

Image Sources: Bathroom | Kitchen 

4 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Staying busy and active in the winter months always seems much tougher than the warm summer months!  Here are a few winter activities that we’ve taken advantage of or have in the books, it’s helped us from going stir crazy, while keeping us active both mentally, physically and socially.
4 Ways to Beat Winter Blues - the bee life
Bowling. This is fun with a group of friends, for an early afternoon or evening!  Make it competitive with different stances or rules for each frame or split up teams boys vs. girls for some extra fun! Not to mention, have you seen bowling alleys lately? There are some fancy AF places that are so trendy to visit with full arcades, too!

Visit a Museum. We don’t nearly take advantage of the museums in our vicinity – it’s a rare occurrence, maybe a yearly event, we need to explore them more! We visited our Art Museum a few weeks ago to attend a special Jazz – Roaring 20’s Exhibit and it was awesome – not to mention the museum is completely beautiful, I feel like you could get lost wandering for hours, not to mention museums are free!

Find a Spin Class. This is on my list of to-do’s and activities to get back into! Although around here there are either gyms with spin classes or spin studios, both of which make you commit to a membership or multiple classes, and I haven’t found a dedicated spin studio I’m ready to commit to just yet.

Wine & Paint Class. This could be a fun date night or even a group activity with friends or the girls – these classes are becoming more and more original with ideas like Paint Your Pet!  We planned a double date for a Sunday afternoon to paint our pets, because we love our pooches, plus we can bring our own bubbles! Sunday Funday!

It’s easy to stay cozied up on the weekends, watching TV or vegging out – trust me, we definitely do it! But it’s important to take advantage of some fun activities that you might not want to do as much when it’s warm and sunny outside.

Here’s to some winter fun!

5 Rules for Decorating

As I was helping out a friend with some design ideas for her new home, her blank slate, I kept stopping to think of how I could make it as easy as possible for her.  I wanted to sum it up with general, yet specific ‘rules’ to help her as she starts looking and finding pieces for her space.  decorating-rules_the-bee-lifeRule #1: Don’t Rush This might actually be the hardest part.  As a new homeowner your eager to finish rooms and make them feel like you’ve lived in them for 10-years. But the truth is, it takes time and you just need to live in the space to see how you’ll be utilizing it, keeping it functional and practical yet high-end and beautiful.

Rule #2: Multi-Functional Pieces  I like to buy pieces that might be able to work in multiple spaces throughout the house. Personally, I like to rearrange and switch things up every now again, and sometimes that’s with accessories, rugs, or pictures.  Also, if it’s a little more pricey piece, like a rug consider if it’s neutral enough to switch it up, in case you ever decide to paint that room in the future.

Rule #3: Consistency & Flow  It’s okay to have similar pieces in different rooms, whether it be white matte frames, mirrors, or the same color pallets. This creates a consistency and flow to your house, keeping the spaces connected and inviting.  This also will most likely help with those multi-functional pieces and allowing them to work within different spaces throughout your home.

Rule #4: Save & Splurge If your working on a room, look for places where you want to splurge and areas you can save.  This will not only keep you on budget, but will also let your dreams become a reality a bit quicker.  Of course we all want a fully furnished Pottery Barn living room, but sometimes we have to be realistic – and for those with the fully furnished PB room, brava! Be realistic in both areas when you’ll need to shell out some more pennies, or when you can bargain shop and save.
Areas to splurge: curtains, rugs and chairs.
Areas to save: side tables, bedding, accessories/frames

Rule #5: Find Inspiration If you have no clue how you want to decorate, the best way I think, to gain inspiration, is Pinterest! Even if it’s just general searches and scrolling through; “living room” or “side table DIY” you can gain inspiration or maybe find an idea you hadn’t thought about before.  Also, if your fixated on a piece, but it’s a bit out of your price range – try finding a DIY version!

Have decorating questions or want more tips? Comment below or ping me on social @mmariebee!

Bee Holiday Hacks – Printables

Shhh! I want to share my latest Holiday Hack with you all, some may be giggling and saying “You’re a little late to the game!” but whateves! I’m okay with that, it’s new exciting for me and might be to you too! Plus you may always see all these cute printables but then think, I need to get a frame, where would I put these, do they go with the rest of my decor?
bee-holiday-hacks-printablesSo here is the best part, you don’t need to worry about buying new frames or reworking your entire decor you can just switch out artwork in frames you already have hanging.  There is no need to put new nail holes in the walls or redesign color pallets or double up on frames – it’s perfect! Most of the prints to download are free and fairly easy to scale if you’re looking to fill at 5×7 or 8×10 frame.

This is a low-cost (if any) update to really put the finishing touches on your Christmas decor around the home.  These will be the little things that guests will notice around the house at your upcoming holiday party and drive home your cozy, welcoming, Christmas home!

Here are some of my favorite Printables (links below):

Share your Holiday Hacks with me on social, @mmariebee!

Links to Printables Featured Above:
Merry & Bright Plaid | 
Spread Christmas Cheer | Merry Little Christmas | Woody Wagon Christmas 

 

 

Weekend Getaway Must-Have’s

Planning any fall getaways?  October always seems to fly by, but one of our favorite to-do’s is getting out of town for a quick weekend trip, being in the middle of nowhere, no wi-fi, no traffic, no house work, just hanging out and escaping the world.  As much as I love a weekend away with B, it’s even more fun when you can plan it with some friends or family.  Here are a few must-have’s for your upcoming weekend away.

  1. Games:  This is a way to laugh, have some friendly competition and get away from the TV!  Having some good group games like Cranium, Wavelength, Cards Against Humanity or even just a deck of cards will kick your nights off right.
  2. Drinks:  Have a variety of alcoholic beverages, but if you can find a fun recipe that is season specific or a new recipe to try! Split the ingredients with your friends and join together in trying something new.
  3. Music: Whether an inpromptu Basketstreet Boys dance party breaks out or just some background music is needed during games and drinks be sure to bring some portable blue tooth speakers and have some tunes ready to go!
  4. Food: Be sure to have a variety of snacks to enjoy during games and drinks; you can’t go wrong with cheese, crackers, grapes and don’t forget some chocolate to snack on! For dinners and breakfasts, keep it easy, eggs, bagels, oven pizza’s or something you can throw on the grill. After all your away so enjoy the down time.
  5. Local Spot: If you go to the same weekend getaway spot, and you haven’t found your go-to local spot yet, get on it!  Whether it’s a place for breakfast, an ice cream spot, an antique store, or a local brewery (we opt for the local brewery part whenever possible).  It can be your spot away from all your normal local home spots.

What’re you favorite things to do or have on a weekend getaway? 

Cheers to the weekend!


 

Fitness Friday no. 14

Fitness Friday is back after a little vacay! Speaking of vacay, that’s the perfect segue into today’s Fitness Friday – workouts on the go.  With summer quickly here, especially now that Memorial Day has come and went, weekends are filling up with vacations, weddings, house work… you name it, and getting workouts in on the weekends, now becomes harder than workouts during the week! So I wanted to share some workouts that can be done pretty much anywhere, with little-to-no equipment needed.  Fitness Friday no 14 - the bee lifeRun – You can run anywhere if you have sneaks and the right clothing. Packing some extra clothes and your running shoes can help you get some key sweat sessions in when you have a moment in the morning or afternoon. When in doubt get your workout done earlier in the day,  waiting might close the window of getting one in!

The Bee’s On-The-Go Workout:

  1. Jumping Jacks/Jump Rope = 3 minutes
    • Again, no equipment needed, even for jumping rope, jumping in place and do the motion with your arms will tire you out not to mention will get your heart rate up
  2. Push-Ups = 5-sets of 10
  3. Squats = 5-sets of 25
    • You can do a variation of squats to jump squats, side squats, wide stance squats or normal squats.
  4. Side Leg Lifts = 3-sets of 15 each leg
  5. Donkey Kick = 5-sets of 25 each leg

You can do this set of exercises 5-times through or stagger them however you like. This will be enough to get your heart rate going, some muscles aching, and the feeling of accomplishment to enjoy your busy weekend of planned festivities!

Suggestion: If you’re on an extended stay or week long vacation and with friends/family, make working out a group activity so that everyone can get involved and help hold each other accountable.  If other’s are involved it’ll also help when planning activities, because everyone will be on the same page!

If you’re staying at a hotel, take advantage of the gym or even the pool and swim some laps before the crowds show up.  Swimming is a full body workout that can be accomplished in between long laying out sessions while you’re working on your tan!

What’re your go-to workouts when you’re on the go?

Wedding Plans – An Update

Now that it’s officially June – I figured I would start sharing and writing a little more about our wedding planning (or lack thereof).  If you remember, I wanted to wait awhile before we started planning since I feel like a lot of couples rush into it, and don’t actually enjoy being engaged or take advantage of it! (I might be taking a little too much advantage of it :])

Venue
Source: Style Me Pretty

So here is the thing I’ve learned with the tiny bit of “planning” aka research I’ve done so far… EVERYTHING IS SO MUCH MONEY.

Period, end of story, done.

But seriously, I truly can’t believe or fathom spending that kind of serious cash on ONE DAY. Granted it’s a day of celebration and the start of a new journey, but it’s just crazy to me, there are SO MANY OTHER THINGS, I would much rather spend that money on. Don’t even ask what, because the list will be endless. I don’t even want my parents to spend that much money on our wedding either – it’s crazy! Unless Donald Trump wants to pay for our wedding, it’s hard to reason it all.

Long story short, there has been no wedding planning, just a lot of chats to try and figure out what sort of direction we want to go in (small, large, or half-half).  We were set on one direction, but the more I started researching and vetting out options, the less interested I’ve become, mainly because it doesn’t seem like it’ll save any money, and would be more involved from planning. So I truly just don’t know what to do. B and I have a few more chats that need to happen, I am thinking an evening or afternoon with some continuous beers will help make some decision, and then of course sticking to it.

One of these days, I’ll actually have something solid to report back on. The only thing we have planned right now is our engagement pictures… so stay tuned for a first look at those in the next few weeks!

 

5 Unique Wedding Gifts

With wedding season quickly here, I wanted to share some unique gift ideas for the bride and groom.  If you’re like me and in the wedding party, you seem to bring gifts to every occasion you go to, so coming up with fresh, unique ideas without just buying off the registry can get hard after awhile. Wedding Gift Guide - the bee lifeAlso to clarify; these gifts could be for any of the many wedding festivities from the bridal shower, bachelorette/bachelor parties, rehearsal and day of the wedding.

Make Something. Find a local shop/studios were you can create and make you’re own ceramic pieces, whether it be from scratch or painting a pre-made piece. My future MIL, owns a studio (Studio Clay) where you can create plates, bowls, dishes, ornaments, figurines… you name it, out of clay.  Visiting a place like this, not only gives you a fun experience but also allows you to create an original piece for the couple.

Remember Memories. You may need to get a little creative for this one, but this will help the couple remember all their memories, especially as they start their journey as husband and wife. You can make the couple a custom jar (decoupage), a box, or basket with instructions for the couple to fill it with love notes or memories throughout the year. Then on New Year’s Day each year, instruct the couple to take turns and read them to each other reflecting over the year. This is low cost, genuine and something the couple can use year after year.

The Honeymoon. Think about the honeymoon, especially if your in the bridal party, buy some special necessities or gear for the bride and groom. Whether it be matching swim suits, sunglasses, or even a honeymoon survival kit with sunscreen, condoms (or not!), lingerie, lip balm… you name it. Or just focus on the bride, a cute carry-on, new make-up bag or even a fun purse she can rock.  Just think of things that they couple may not be thinking of, but want/need!

Pitch-In. If you know the couple is saving up for a house, or big home renovation, find some family and friends to help pitch-in on a fund for their future projects as they start their life together. When you tie a meaning to the money, it can add that much sentiment and use for the couple. To make it a little more personal, accompany the money with a gift or trinket, like a toaster (if the couple desperately wants a new kitchen).

Photo Gifts. Here is a little plug for Shutterfly, simply because I just love them.  They’ve expanded their offerings immensely, you can customize table runners, candles, ornaments, mugs, pillows, blankets… shall I go on?  Use pictures from the couples engagement session to help customize these pieces for a unique and special gift for the Mr. + Mrs. (Not to mention there are always a few good promos going on to take advantage of!)

I think it’s easy to get lazy and just buy the couple a gift card or something off the registry (guilty), especially when you have multiple weddings to attend in one year, but going the little extra step will not only create something memorable for the bride and groom, but will also remind them of the special time you took for them.

Cheers to Wedding Season!

Wedding Woes

I’m going to be completely honest with all of you.

I’m a bit afraid to start planning our wedding, it’s probably one of the reasons why I’ve resisted planning for a few months… and why whenever someone asks if we’ve started or have a date I give a sigh, try not to roll my eyes and say, “no.”

Wedding Woes - the bee life
Photo cred: Grey Likes Weddings & Rachelle Derouin Photography

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, why? She should be so excited to plan her wedding and everything that comes with it!

Yes, I am. But I am also very afraid of everything that is going to come along with it, and I blame everyone else whose gotten married or is getting married, especially my friends and family – you’ve all scared me poop-less!

To keep it simple, here are all of the reasons why:

  • I don’t want to be a traditional bride; I don’t want a bridal shower, I could care less about a bachelorette party, and I would prefer to forgo the whole wedding reception thing and just elope. But I can’t. (Now you’re probably saying; so do it, it’s you’re wedding! But is it? I know I am going to get pressured into things, because other people want that for me.)
  • I don’t want to end up hating my (future) family. With my non-traditional ways, I am sure I will piss of a few people or unintentionally hurt some feelings – but I really want to live up to the saying; “It’s my/our wedding.” Although, I already know there will be some compromise.
  • It’s just SO much money… for one day. I just want a killer dress.
  • Everyone has an opinion, and wants to share it. I have one too. *smiles*
  • If B and I do get our way for our wedding, we will end up making a lot of people mad – because they won’t understand that it’s about us and not about them.
  • Either way, I don’t think there is a way to avoid hurt feelings or drama.

Not to mention, I’ve been to, two bridal showers so far this year, and each of them have had drama; hurt feelings, tears, and stress (at least behind the scenes).  And in between all of that and the planning more drama, petty family crap, that I frankly don’t want to deal with. I cut out the drama in my life a long time ago and have since kept it to a minimum. At a time in my life that is supposed to be so happy, I don’t want to remember so-and-so didn’t come because they had hurt feelings.

And if I give into the pressures, I know I will still end up loving my wedding and having a great time, only because I’ll have B by my side… but I can’t help but cringe in fear every time someone mentions my bridal shower, or bachelorette party or the rehearsal dinner and just think to myself – umm I don’t want one!

I know, poor me. But seriously guys, I need some help, especially before I get started!! Any advice? Tips? Experiences from when you planned your wedding? How did you overcome some of the stereotype traditions, or not?  Is it worth it?

Many love and thanks in advance!