Thursday, April 27, 2017

How to Stay at 5 Star Hotels for 2 Star Prices {And Know The Hotel Name}

Ever since I was little I’ve always loved staying in hotels. I would grab the glasses, ice bucket, and notepad and pretend I was a waitress delivering food and drinks to my mom and dad. As an adult, I’m more intrigued by the crisp sheets, skin care products in the bathroom, and a housekeeper to keep the room somewhat in order. My kids have also developed the same love for hotels, especially if there’s a pool and an extra bouncy bed for jumping.

And while my love for hotel staying runs strong, it's not just any hotel I love. While I’ve stayed in my fair share of crappy hotels (hello work budgets), something about a fancy hotel with a grand lobby, high floors, and a killer view makes my heart go pitter-patter. For some people it’s fancy shoes, purses, or makeup, but for me, bring on the luxury hotel!

If you’ve read any of my posts or follow me on Instagram, you might be wondering how a gal who likes thrifting and saving money is going to spend $400 a night for a hotel room. Well I’m not. I don’t pay even close to that. With a little bit of time and a few simple tips and tricks, you can actually stay in 4 and 5 star hotels at 2 star prices. Here’s how I do it.

Step One. Click on over to Hotwire. Select hotels and then enter the city where you'll be staying. One thing that I really like about Hotwire is that you can also enter a landmark that you want to stay close to (e.g. White House). Once it brings up the list of hotels, use the star rating filter at the top to search by 4 or 5 star hotels.

Step Two. Leaving your Hotwire tab open, visit Better Bidding in a new tab. Click on hotel lists, then Hotwire. 

Choose the state you will be staying in from the drop down menu.

On the next page you'll see a black box that basically explains there's no guarantees on the exact hotel, blah, blah. I have used this site several times (St. Louis, Chicago, New York) and I've been able to correctly identify the hotel each time, but there's always that small risk. It's still worth it to me to use Hotwire since I'm saving so much money, even if it's not the exact hotel I thought I was booking. Click the Hotwire link to access the list of hotels. 

Once you click on the link it will open a new tab to the Hotwire site. CLOSE OUT of this tab. You do not need to re-enter your information since you already have your information entered in the other tab. On the Better Bidding website you may be prompted to pick a region depending on how big the city is. 

Next, choose the zone in which you want to stay and then a list of hotel names will appear.

Step Three. Compare the hotel descriptions listed on the Better Bidding site to the hotels listed in Hotwire. You can also go the hotel's website directly to read about amenities, etc to help you narrow down the hotel a little further. 

Step Four. Once you feel confident in the hotel, hold your breath and make your purchase. And remember, no matter what hotel it is, you're still saving TONS of money.

Other tips:
-I like to choose hotels that are 90% recommended or above
-Make sure to read through the amenities listed on Hotwire. For me, staying at a pool is a must when I'm traveling with my children.
-I find I save the most money when I book ~ 2 weeks out from my stay. I won't lie, for someone who is Type A this does give me a little bit of anxiety to wait so close, but there is always plenty of options, especially if you're staying in a bigger city where there's lot of hotels. This is also the time frame I find the rooms to have the greatest discount.
-When booking on Hotwire you do not get to select a bed preference, but don't worry. Once I make my purchase, I call the hotel directly and request whatever beds we need. You can also choose 3 adults when first entering your dates of stay, which would most likely guarantee 2 beds.

This post was not sponsored, I just love a good deal and want you to score one too.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Weekend Recap {Bed & Beautiful Weather}

We kicked off the weekend Friday night with some bbq which meant I didn't have to cook dinner (insert all the praise hands).

Dinner was followed by putting together Jack's new bed which we ordered from Wayfair. If you watched my instastory then you saw that the hardware was missing so that was annoying, but thankfully my husband had everything we needed. I love these Pillowfort sheets from Target. 

Saturday was spent crossing some more tasks off the spring cleaning list and battling the cutest ninja turtle I've ever seen.

Ben had his first track meet on Sunday and although he was super nervous, he did great! He got 2nd place in the 800m and 3rd place in the 400m.

After the meet we had dinner with some of J's family and then I watched another episode of 13 Reasons Why before passing out.

Linking up with Biana for Weekending.
Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday, Friday

Happy Friday! The days went by so slow this week, but overall the week didn't seem too long. Weird huh? I'm linking up with ChristinaAmanda, and Karli to bring you my five things this Friday.

I"m headed to Richmond Virginia next week for work. We'll be there three days and will have a little free time so if you have recommendations for places to eat or things to do, throw them my way!

If you live near a HyVee grocery store then you have to check out all of the cooking and meal prep classes they offer. The boys participated in a Cooking with Kids class and they are still talking about the pizzas and tortilla chips they made.

I started watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I'm only 1 episode in but I have a feeling it's going to be really good...and really disturbing.

Anyone else text talk to their husband in gifs :)

In case you missed it, be sure to check out my Spring Reading suggestions. I've read so many great books lately and even found my new favorite author.

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring Reading Book Review {2017}

As t.v. shows begin to wrap up and the weather gets warmer, it’s the perfect excuse to read all those books you haven’t had time for earlier in the year. I’ve been blowing through books like crazy and this last batch of books had some of my favorites of all time. If you don’t already follow Biana's blog, make sure you do so because a lot of these books were recommended by her. Enough with the chit-chat, let’s get to it.

The Silent Wife
This was the only book that I didn’t love. It wasn’t bad, but it definitely didn’t suck me in as much as the other books I read.

“Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept.”

Truly Madly Guilty
Lane Moriarty does it again and this book will leave you asking what in the heck happened at the BBQ.

“Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?” 
The Good Girl
From the moment Mia is kidnapped, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. This book is far more than a story about a kidnapping gone wrong, and I loved how developed all of the characters were.

“One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

It Ends with Us
This may be my favorite book of all time. And Colleen Hoover has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I can’t tell you how many times I cried while reading this book. Have you ever finished a book and wished it could go on forever? That’s how I felt when I read the last page.

“Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

Maybe Someday
I found myself torn between characters and the love and loyalty between them all. Ridge’s unique characteristic also adds a dynamic to the book unlike anything I’ve ever read.

“At twenty-two years old, Sydney has a great life: She's in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter's cheating on her--and she is left trying to decide what to do next. Sydney becomes captivated by Ridge, her mysterious neighbor. She can't take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there's something about Sydney that Ridge can't ignore, either. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one”

Told you I really like Colleen Hoover. This book was an easy read and I found myself wanting to scream, just tell her!

“At age twenty-one, Auburn Reed has already lost everything important to her. In her fight to rebuild her shattered life, she has her goals in sight and there is no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.  For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is keeping a major secret from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it. To save their relationship, all Owen needs to do is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Weekend Recap {Easter 2017}

We kicked off our Easter celebrations by decorating eggs Saturday night. Nothing like waiting until the last minute :) I also wised up this year and bought 2 egg dying kits and boiled 3 dozen eggs to cut down on the fighting of who gets which color or more eggs. 

Thunderstorms rolled through early Sunday, but by the afternoon the weather ended up being beautiful. The boys were excited to get their easter baskets but Jack wasn't as thrilled and excited about collecting eggs as I thought he would be. We went to church that morning and then my parents came over for lunch. My sister and her family were all sick so we missed celebrating with them this year.

That afternoon we went to my mother-in-laws house for another egg hunt before heading to J's aunt's house with the rest of his family.

The eggs at J's aunt's are filled with gold dollars and the kids practically break down the door to get out.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

Linking up with Biana for Weekending. 
Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekend Recap {Summer in Spring}

This was one of those weekends. The sun was shinning, the weather was gorgeous, and it was the perfect mix of productivity and relaxing.

Friday night the husband and I had an impromptu date night and we finally saw Get Out. There's a reason it has 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's definitely intense but there's also a lot of funny moments and I highly recommend it if you're looking for something to watch. After the movie we grabbed  Mexican food and a margarita before heading home. It's easy to get in a rut with your spouse during the everyday monotony of life so for us it's so important to have date nights where you can talk to each other without being interrupted by someone who needs their butt wiped.

Saturday morning I ran to Target and picked up some Easter goodies for the boys' baskets and candy for the eggs. I also started stuffing the eggs and to my surprise I didn't eat a single piece of candy. #selfcontrol

Later that afternoon we went to my niece's soccer game and then did some work in the yard. J mowed while Ben helped me put out some mulch and Jack took a nap which out him out of having to do any work:)

What is it about fresh mulch that makes a house look so much better? Now all we need is some flower pots but I'm holding off on those since the boys usually do that as a gift for me on Mother's Day.

One thing I've been trying to be better at this year is recycling and I want to instill the importance of it in my kids so off to the recycling center we went.

That night we grilled steaks and I made twice baked potatoes and this salad but we devoured it all before I could get a picture. Whoops.

It was almost 90 degrees on Sunday but thankfully there was a breeze which made for the most perfect weather. That morning I did a few things around the house which I'm embarrassed to admit included getting the rest of the Easter decorations out. My favorite is this table runner I picked up from Marshalls last year. I just love the little cotton tails. 

Once we were all dressed and ready we headed to a little carnival fundraiser at a local park where the boys played games and I came home with a real live Ninja Turtle.

We were all starving by the time we left the carnival so lunch and patio sitting at our favorite brewery was a must.

I managed to escape cooking almost the entire weekend when the husband suggested we order pizza for dinner. Once the kids went to bed I gave my nails a fresh coat in a springy color and finally started watching Big Little Lies. I read the book awhile back and loved it and I'm equally obsessed with the show. I'm on episode 4 and hoping to finish it in the next few days. 

Linking up with Biana for Weekending.