Latest Obsessions 05.20

The weather is finally starting to break and it’s been so nice to spend weekends, evenings and even a few working afternoon outside in the sunshine and warmth. With quarantine and remote work continuing, I’m starting to get transition my mindset a bit more to try and embrace all of this a bit more. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions and mental health strain which I’ll be sharing more about on my Fitness Friday this month. So, with trying to transition my mindset, I’m trying to stay busy by planning for a few projects and a few other things I love, while living in workout pants and sports bras.

Mini Office Makeover. Fun fact; our home office wasn’t ever intentionally set-up for designed to be an actual home office. I know typing that out makes it sounds really stupid – but it’s true! Up until recently, B and I only occasionally work from home and would just set-up shop in the dining room or living room. Our home office was designed to be a fun space that serves as another guest room and home to our sports memorabilia. So I’m brainstorming on some easy, cost-effective ways to make this a bit more inspirational, fun and creative for a more long term working space. I’m thinking pink, and I’ll leave it at that.
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Anything Bravo. I would just like to personally take a moment to thank Bravo (and bubbly), for giving me some sense of sanity and a mental escape throughout this super weird time that is quickly becoming the “new normal.” B and I have rewatched the entire series of Vanderpump Rules, even as this latest season wraps up. And my two favorite housewives series are now on, RHOBH and RHONY, along with Andy being back with his virtual WWHL which are still enjoyable.

Some Backyard Plans. Our back patio is pretty set and perfect, besides adding some seasonal plants around to spruce up the space a bit more. B and I have talked off and on about doing some additional privacy-scaping in the back area, but just haven’t gotten around to it. So I’m sketching up some plans to pitch to B, since he is jones-ing to get that project going. We’ve also chatted about adding a floating deck and hot tub… so we will see how that all fits in.

Travel Daydreaming. Flights are so cheap right now. It’s been really easy to daydream and want to plan and just book a flight. Airlines are also still offering no charge rebooking fees (at least Southwest still it!) so it’s eliminating some of the potential risk. It’s just so hard to plan right now, and it breaks my heart to think we might not travel on an airplane this year — but I’m still hoping.
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So you’ll be catching me this weekend making some plans, getting inspired and definitely watching some bravo while sipping some bubbles and daydreaming of the day that we feel safe to fly on an airplane again and explore the world. And I’m still obsessing over Target Drive-Up, it’s been well over two months since I’ve actually stepped foot in one.  What’ve you been obsessing over lately?

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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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My 2020 Goals

I feel like my 2019 goals sort of sucked? Ok, maybe not all of them, but a good handful of them — I look back and am like, HA! Not a good thing, right? Well, that’s why it’s a new year! So, in addition to making my fitness goals a priority, which includes getting six races in this year, I have a few other personal goals that I want to focus on!
goals(2)-beelifeblog Pay off My Credit Card Debt by my 30th Birthday. This has been a goal of mine for… a bit, and it’s been one that I’ve been embarrassed to share, but I know I’m going to get this paid off and I’m damned determined to enter my 30th year with $0 in credit card debt. So that is just about 2-months from today *smiles*

More vacations. I just want to travel, always. I want to see so many places and experience, see new views and taste all the good foods. Our trips for the year are pretty much already planned out. But, I’m hoping to squeeze a few long weekends into a few more getaways beyond the bigger trip we have planned for later in the year. As always, I love sharing our travel adventures and eats with all my Bee readers, so stay tuned for a fun year of new places!
goals(1)-beelifeblogSaying No. I just had an exchange with my mom the other day, as I told her I’m sick of doing things – especially in my free time/weekends – that I don’t want to do. And she responded saying; “Well isn’t that life?” …and I said back to her… “Why does that have to be life!?”  We do things to please other people, because we may feel guilty or it’s just easier to say yes than it is to say no. But I’m over that, so don’t get offended people, or get ready to be offended. *winks*

Being More Present. This is across the board; in personal, professional, friendships, in family and self care.  I find myself being distracted, my mind wandering, picking up my phone to scroll — it’s easy to think of the millions of other things we want to do, already forgot about, or even dream about, but it’s not always easy to be present. And I think another part of that is continuing to be present and staying touch with all those important people, especially my hubby.
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I want to continue spending time with our dear friends, more one on one time, slowing down and just talking — we were reminded of that over the Christmas holiday and it was, refreshing, it was like old times, times I missed. I want to continue fostering my creativity through DIYs, house projects, writing, my career, and through encouragement and support of loved ones around me.

Needless to say, there is no shortage of goals over here in the Bee Life — but the ones above are the top, for now. What’re your goals for 2020? There’s no better time to start working on them, than now!

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Bee’s 2019 Recap

Another year is coming to a close — and it all seems too familiar the repetitive nature this time of the year brings. The feeling of excitement of something new, a fresh start, endless possibilities of another calendar year.  The feeling of reflecting on the past year, things we wish we would’ve done, things we did, personal growth, heartbreak and learnings. And the feeling of the great unknown, yet every possibility of the future.
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Our 2019 year was full of new adventures we were able to take three great trips, two of which were new cities for us to explore together. Six new little ones were welcomed into our lives this year. We spent lots of weekends with friends, family and even just the two of us, including lots of nights on the back patio. We did a lot of dog sitting, lots of Moz cuddling and even started volunteering at a local dog shelter this year too.

I was challenged a lot personally this past year, with seasonal depression to start the year, a serious back injury that kicked my butt for 6-months. I was also challenged in good ways like taking a new, welcomed direction in my career — that has been simply put life changing.  I worked towards getting back into a healthy fitness and eating routine, and slowly yet persistently worked through my back injury and chronic pain, to come back on top.

2020 is going to be a big year. We have a lot of big family milestones and a lot of trips brewing in the planning stages. So ready or not, here we come 2020!

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Travel: A Recap of Our 2019 Trips

As the 2019 year winds down, I thought it would be fun to look back at our 2019 trips! B and I adventured to two new cities (for us) and spent time with friends and family and created new memories together. Every year, a goal of mine is to travel whether it’s new places or old favorites. B and I have so many places we want to visit – so we always try to get a few trips in each year.
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Chicago, IL | March 2019
B and I have both been to Chi-Town, but never together! We took a road trip to spend a few days in the big city for my birthday – we found a cute boutique hotel closer to Lincoln Park and conveniently located next to our new favorite spot the Restoration Hardware.  We literally grabbed a drink there one night and just walked around as a night cap after dinner! Of course we ate as much food as possible with our short trip and hit up all the tourist spots like the Skydeck at Willis Tower, the bean, took a run down the lakefront trail and got lots of steps in!
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Portland, OR | July 2019
We were excited to plan our trip out to PDX to visit our old neighbors and good friends who moved out there in March. This trip was not our typical vacation since the main point was to visit and catch up with F+D! We just happened to be in a new, incredible city with killer views and so much to explore.  Our trip was the perfect balance of catching up, site seeing and getting a taste of Portland! Highlights from the trip were a champagne bar, seeing Mt. Moran and our hike around Latourell Falls — the fourth of July was fun having a picnic at F+D’s house, as it felt a bit like old times. There is so much more to see in PDX — so we know we’ll be back for more.
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Myrtle Beach, SC | August 2019
After a city adventure and mountain-esq trip to the west coast, we were able to squeeze the beach in too.  If you’re an avid Bee reader, you know have seen the reason we head down to Myrtle Beach — which is to visit my grandma who lives in a nursing home.  This trip was different, as a recent health scare made grandma more nursing home bound that usual, so instead of getting her out of there as much as possible, we were visiting her there, as much as possible. Not exactly an ideal trip to travel to Myrtle Beach to be in a nursing home, but it’s not often we see my grandma — and as I get older I’ve learned to appreciate this time more, especially since I’ve never been close with either of my grandmas growing up.  We did get some beach time in between card games and coloring!
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With our 2019 trips wrapped up, we’ve already started talking about our 2020 trips and even our 2021 trips! We have big plans, and big things coming up that we’ll be celebrating and lately all we want to do besides gifts or birthday celebrations are more trips, new memories and new sites to see! Where are you headed in 2020?

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My Summer Reads

Reading is always on my goals list each year – as I love diving into good books – I just usually fall asleep when I’m reading, especially if I’m at home.  So, I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like too. But that is just another reason why I love traveling and flying, because I just hunker down on the flight and read away – even our PSP trips were spent reading and napping by the pool.

I wanted to get a few more books finished before Summer’s end, but I did get through a few goodies that were both for fun and also for some professional and personal development and enrichment.
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Ok so here are my summer reads;

Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand by Brittany Hennessy
I don’t talk much about my 9-to-5, but I’m very much in the world of social and influencers. And as a blogger myself I was intrigued to learn a bit more of the business side of being an influencer while also understanding the business side being the influencer coordinator because there are a lot of pieces and parts to the puzzle. This industry also has seemed to blow up over night! It’s a great read and includes case studies along with guides for getting your social profiles, blog and community up to snuff!

18th Abduction by James Patterson
This is a series I’ve been reading since at least high-school, if not middle school.  My mom read James Patterson and I got into the Women’s Murder Club Series, which releases a new book each spring.  I’ve grown and learned to love the characters over the years – this is always an easy ready with short chapters usually ending in cliff hangers, which means another chapter or five.  The main character is Lindsey Boxer a detective for the SFPD, her boss gal pals, a report, attorney and medical examiner who help solve crime, serial killings and much more. I also just saw that the next book is coming out October 9th so I’ll be diving into that these winter month!

She Means Business by Carrie Green
I’ve always had a ton of ideas about doing more of the things I love on a daily basis and this book is a guide to help you foster those ideas and start turning them into reality and something that is sustainable.  Not only is Carrie’s story inspiring, her motivational dialogue throughout the book is inspiring and empowering.  I am still working through Carrie’s book – but it’s definitely one I have been book marking, highlighting and taking notes along the way!

What books have you read this summer? Any good recommendations?

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Weekend Recap – Break from Reality

I’ve been a bit stressed out lately, and but came up pretty suddenly this past week. As we were driving away from the city late Friday night, I could start to feel some relief. But it wasn’t until about midway through Saturday when I could feel my tense body finally start to relax and the neck pain that had been lingering for the last 2-days was finally gone – that’s when I realized, I really needed this weekend away from reality with my little family.
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Initially the weekend was supposed to be a girls trip with an afternoon at the spa, but some things came up so B was stuck with me heading to one of our favorite spots, the cabin.  The cabin is literally in the middle of no where, there is no wifi, although there is TV, but it’s largely you, nature and just a break from the real world.  Even on weekends when you’re home with no plans, you always find something to do – clean the house, laundry, yard work – or you think you should be doing something besides nothing.  But that’s not how it is at the cabin, sleeping in is ok, watching Shark Tank marathons and day drinking is also totally acceptable.
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We also ventured to our favorite spot near the cabin, Southern Tier Brewery Co. – and yes they had our favorite seasonal beverages on tap, Pumking and Warlock.  The weather was perfect and we even brought Moz along this time! Usually we leave her behind at the cabin, but after a walk around the property at the cabin, she had plenty of exercise and just hung with us at the brewery.  We also grabbed some yummy eats at STBC – our go-to the pretzels and then split the BLT this time, which was so good! They never disappoint from a brews, food or atmosphere perspective. It was the perfect breakup in the day.
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The leisurely mornings might be my favorite – taking Moz out around the property for her morning routine, and then drinking coffee before B whips up a tasty breakfast is always so relaxing because we’re never usually in any rush for anything. And by the time breakfast is done and cleaned up, it’s about time to take Moz for a longer walk so she can take in all the fresh smells of nature, chase chipmunks and watch frogs jump into the pound.  Friday night after we got there a huge storm rolled in and we fell asleep to the rain pounding on the roof of the cabin, it was so relaxing and so perfect.
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As we were driving back to reality, I was reflective on the fact that we all need to take a little extra time for ourselves, an intentional break from the day to day, from the stresses of the work week and everything else. It was also a good reminder of making the most out of changed plans and still taking time away. Even if it’s a simple getaway for a night or two, it’s refreshing for the soul and it helps us stay sane.

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Travel: Why We Vacay in Myrtle Beach

So the reason we visit Myrtle Beach is a little different that I am sure 80% of the people heading down there.  The beach and other extra curricular activities are always secondary to the reason we “vacation” there.  I’ve mentioned in previous MB recaps, that we go to visit my grandma who lives down there in a nursing home and that is 100% why we go down to Myrtle Beach, to see her.
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The goal generally when we go down and visit with my parents is to get my grandma out of that nursing home for a few days whether it’s a trip to the beach, shopping, dinner, or hanging out at the pool/condo.  But this trip wasn’t so much the case. Earlier in August she had an unexpected trip to the hospital that ended with her needing surgery which then led to longer hospital visit.  Luckily things went better than anticipated given she is 86 years old, but she was still recovering and more fragile from the surgery and her stay in the hospital when we went down there.  SO, we couldn’t take her out, meaning it was a lot of visits at the nursing home this time.

Our days at the nursing home consisted of making sure Grandma ate her lunch and dinner, occasional visits out to the patio area, cards (which she did not play), coloring (which she did not want to do either) and a few chats about the past.  She even had some photos from her wedding in 1956 – her wedding dress was amazing so I asked her what she ended up doing with her.  Her response; “I burned it.” … Yup! She burned her wedding dress when she was 24.
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The reality of our trip down to the beach destination with 80-degree weather all week was that we only made it to the beach once and only went swimming once at the condo (and at 9 o’clock at night). Friday we went to lunch and did the Conway Riverwalk in between visits at the nursing home.  Saturday was all day at the nursing home with a quick shopping trip to the Tanger Outlets before dinner with the extended family.

We also got to visit with my cousin and her three boys, who are an absolute treat and love B – they were super fun to see how much they’ve grown up, their personalities and sheer sweetness they give us for only seeing them every so often! We soaked up as much time with them from jokes, to hugs, hide and seek, giggles and cuddles on top of being able to see my cousin and aunt and uncle who live down there too.
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So although Myrtle Beach is often a beach retreat for many others, we go to see family who can’t travel to see us and hope to offer a little ray of sunlight to her probably lonely and long days at the nursing home.

Do you have a ‘vacation’ destination like this? Comment below!

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Travel: 5 things to do in Myrtle Beach besides go to the Beach

We just got back from Myrtle Beach and it wasn’t maybe the typical trip you would expect when you’re going to a beach destination capital – but more on that later *smiles*. So for any of those folks who can’t do the beach 5-days in a row – because let’s face it, my parents are those people and that is who we go down to MB with – here are some fun alternatives to still enjoy the weather and beach vibes that Myrtle Beach has to offer without the beach.

(1) Murrles Inlet. This spot screams adventure, from kayak to jet ski rentals or a chartered deep sea fishing excursion – this spot has endless views and dining options.  Not to mention, Goat Island! With perfect views from Drunken Jack’s, Goat Island and the rest of the inlet offer entertainment even when you’re on shore.
MBTravel-beelifeblog(5)(2) Conway Riverwalk. This quaint town along the Waccamaw River is not only walkable but shopable and has great restaurants. The Riverwalk is the perfect after lunch walking spot to admire the scenic views of the river in this historic southern town – we dined at the Riverside Bistro one afternoon before walking the route!
Travel MB - beelifeblog(1)(3) Myrtle Beach State Park. Slight disclaimer – if you’re planning to do the beach, this is the place to go! With a private boardwalk, gift shop, ice cream and moderately busy beach – you won’t be fighting for a front row spot to the water or sunshine.  Beyond the beach, there are cabins for rent or you can camp at the campsite.  There is also a Nature Center and natural trail.
Travel MB - beelifeblog(2)(4) Golfing.  With over 80 golf courses, this golf capital of the world offers a plethora of golfing options from budget golfing to high end top notch destinations.  We always stay in condos on golf courses and enjoy the scenery while my dad and B swoon over the course.   This past time we stayed on the International World Tour Golf Course and it was definitely a stunner.
MBTravel-beelifeblog(6)(5) Shopping at Tanger Outlets. Who doesn’t love shopping? Especially when it’s outlet shopping! With stores like Nike, Loft, Columbia, GAP, Coach, J.Crew, Adidas and Eddie Bauer there is something for everyone and plenty of discounts to take advantage of.  This getaway from the beach is perfect for a little retail therapy on vacay!

Coming off of our trip, we left just before any sort of Hurricane Dorian weather started to affect the area – although there were rip tides and the king tide that affected the beach and weather.  As of Saturday, the beach was closed due to double red flags — so in this case it’s good to have a backup plan or two!  Also keep in mind, hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30 – but always seems to hit September – November.

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