• May 20, 2015

    Top 5 Travel Tips

    Guess what, guys?  It’s almost summer!  And you want to know what that means?  It’s vacation time!  It’s travel time!  It’s get off the couch and out of your house time!

    Now, I know that isn’t always so easy, so I’ve gone ahead and made a list of my top 5 travel tips for you to ponder and hopefully put into practice very soon!

    Number 1: Research the place you’re going ahead of time. 

    Going somewhere new means you get to explore and discover, but you should definitely do a  little of that ahead of time.  Look at places that will be interesting (museums, parks, restaurants, etc) and make reservations at those places if needed.  A lot of times, you can also get discounts for buying tickets early or buying a day pass that includes several attractions.  When we went to Canada last fall, we saved a ton by booking our ferry pass with our hotel and the museum that we went to all at once.  Check Groupon for similar deals and passes in  your destination area.  Just be careful that you don’t pack your day so full you don’t have time for adventure too!

    Number 2: Use apps to help you navigate your destination. 

    I like Navmii (navigation for different countries where you can’t connect with google maps) and Duolingo (start learning the language most commonly spoken in your destination).  If you are leaving the country, be sure to double and triple check your cell phone carriers rules for phone and data use where you’re going.  If you mess up, you could end up with a cell phone bill of several hundred dollars.

    Number 3: Plan your budget ahead of time. 

    Figure out how much money you can afford for each day or week (depending on how long you’ll be gone and how tight your budget is) and do your best to stick to it.  It can be helpful to use a cash/envelope system so you can clearly see how quickly you’re burning through your dough.  Keeping this in mind, it is also important to leave room to splurge a little – being on vacation is all about having fun and letting loose a little, so plan to splurge and keep a little splurge fund separate from your normal daily fund.  Another important money tip is to keep boot money on you at all times.  When I say boot money, what I mean is that you should keep cash hidden on your person at all times just in case you get separated from your purse or wallet.  I usually literally keep money in my shoe, but I just discovered the FlipBelt on Pinterest and am starting to think that’s a really freaking good idea.  *grin*

    Number 4: Pack light.

    Choose clothing that you can easily mix and match tops and bottoms.  For even greater success, try to keep everything within same color group so you only need a couple pairs of shoes that will go with everything you have.  If you’ll be staying at your destination for a longer amount of time, consider doing laundry while you’re there so you can recycle your outfits.  There are also lots of things you can just grab at a drugstore when you’re there (shampoo, toothpaste, etc) rather than lug it around in your bag while you travel (this is probably more practical for flights and longer stays away from home).

    Number 5: Get off the beaten path.

    A lot of people seem to think they need to stick to what the travel guide book says or join up with a tour or resort, but I say put yourself out there!  Meet local people and eat local food!  Get out of your comfort zone and try something different!  Find out where your tour guide likes to go for a pint after work and go there too!  Forget the touristy and chain places and see what the local life is really like.  This is significantly more educational and way more fun!  Plus, the local places are probably a lot less expensive and much more authentic.

    So there you have it, my top five tips for travel.  I mean these tips for both local and international travel – no matter where you go, the same principles apply.  But probably the most important thing is to be safe and have fun!  Vacation is meant to be fun and relaxing and rejuvenating for your mind and soul

  • May 13, 2015

    How to Sell Your House

    For-Sale

    In the midst of selling my house, I feel super inclined to share what I’ve been learning and putting into practice!  I hope you have so much luck selling your house!  First, you have to ask yourself:

    Are you Ready?

    Make an honest assessment whether or not you are really ready to move.  Is now a good time in the market?  Do you have a huge amount of time, energy, and resources to invest in moving right now?  Are you ready to hear about how your home does and doesn’t measure up (like, really ready)?

    Partner Up

    Find a realtor you love and whose opinion you respect – you will be spending a lot of time with this person in the coming months, you might as well enjoy their company.  Ask friends and coworkers for recommendations and if you meet someone but they rub you wrong or don’t seem to be doing anything to help you, move on!  Don’t waste your time working with someone who isn’t providing what you need.

    Clean and Clear

    Clean everything – yard, windows, carpets, pantry and closets…  Hire help if you need to.  The newer and shinier everything looks, the better.  If it isn’t shiny, people will notice and people will gripe about it, so don’t give them that opportunity.  Pay special attention to the front of the house because first impressions really do matter.

    Be wary of smells in the house.  A lot of people think you should bake cookies or light candles for showings, but that usually just makes buyers think there is a smell you’re trying to cover up.  Definitely don’t use plug-ins!  Smells can carry different connotations for different people, so just make it smell clean, not “homey.”

    Clear out as much of your personal stuff as you possibly can.  Rent a storage unit, donate or sell things you don’t need, box things up and hide them in your attic – whatever it takes to make your home look lived in but not too lived in.  Remember, you are selling a house, not a home; prospective buyers want to imagine themselves in this space, so don’t distract them with your goofy family pictures and clutter.  If you can, paint the interior with neutral colors like tan or grey.

    Stage Right

    Stage with neutral items: no personal or potentially polarizing pictures or objects.  You may be a devout Catholic (and that’s great), but if a Buddhist is thinking about buying your house, they probably don’t want to be met with a giant crucifix on the living room wall.   Same goes for political items and anything else that might be taken the wrong way by a potential buyer.

    Learn to live in a staged home:  keep a box to toss your important stuff in whenever the house is going to be shown so you can take it with you; send pets to daycare and if you have a cat, take the litter box and scratching posts out of the house when it’s being shown; cook on the grill or eat non-cooked foods a lot so you don’t generate smells and dishes.

    Let it Go

    Once all is said and done and your home is on the market, let it go.  Keep up the hard work you put in to clean it up and keep it looking nice, but try not to think about it too much – you’ve done what you can to make your home presentable and now it is just waiting to see what kind of fish bite the hook.  Let God, the universe, fate, and/or karma take over to bring the right buyer to your door.

    Now that your home is on the market, you might as well start looking for your own possible future home!  Dream a little, but try not to get too attached to any one place or plan until you really have a buyer.  This has been the hardest part for me by far… I know what I want, so waiting for a buyer so it will all work out is torture!  You can always make an offer on a home contingent on the sale of your house, but that may not work for the person selling… so just be careful with your heart and dreams.

    Good luck!

  • May 6, 2015

    Essential Oil Bath Bombs

    Feature-Image

    My friend Joanna over at youtube.com gave me this fantastic recipe for bath bombs using essential oils and I am so excited to share it with you!  These bath bombs have made my skin so soft and I really love how easy they are to do!  With Mother’s Day coming up, why not whip up a batch and share some rest and relaxation with your Mama?  *grin*

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup baking soda
    • 1/4 cup citric acid
    • 1/4 cup starch (corn, tapioca, or arrowroot)
    • 1 tablespoon epsom salts
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 3 tsp water
    • 10 drops of essential oils
    • Small candy molds

     

    Instructions:

    1. In a large glass, ceramic, or metal bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients.
    2. With a fork, work in the coconut oil, leaving some chunks of the oil.
    3. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine water and essential oils .  Add the mixture to the dry ingredients a little at a time – stir quickly as the mixture might start to foam a little.
    4. Once all ingredients are combined, press it firmly into each mold and allow to dry overnight.  Store in an air-tight container, preferably made of glass.

     

    Pro-tips:

    Make sure you press it in the mold really good and tight, this will help the bath bombs stay together better and for longer amount of time.

    Use whatever oils you prefer – I liked the calmer fragrances  like lavender  because I tend to take baths to relax, but if you want to toss one in your shower in the morning, go for something uplifting like wild orange.  Or, if you’re struggling with a cold or allergies, try eucalyptus to open up your nose during a hot bath.

    These bath bombs won’t hold their shape forever, so don’t make too many in one go unless you take a lot of baths.  *grin*

     

    Bath-Bomb