Like this? Share it!

Friday, March 24, 2017

7 Cost Saving Travel Tips from an Overtired Mama

For anyone who has followed the blog for any length of time, you know that it's clear that travel is a passion of mine.  I love it because it's an opportunity to make memories away from the things that sometimes interrupt memory making at home.  No work, no school... just you and your family.

Like many, I'm also very budget conscious.  I often hear snickers when I say that because we make a yearly trip to Orlando.   How could that be budget conscious?  Because I pride myself on being a travel bargain hunter.  I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks.  Keep in mind, not all of these tips are ideal for everyone so you have to keep in mind what are your "must haves" when it comes to vacation planning.

Tip #1 - Gifting "experiences" instead of "things".

My husband and I decided a long time ago that we would stop giving each other "stuff".  Now don't get me wrong, on occasion, we will purchase some small gifts, but we stopped saving up and buying multiple gifts at Christmas.  We have carried on this tradition with our daughter.  Although, full disclosure, we still buy her some gifts... more than we buy each other... but they are relatively small, and we usually try to stick to things she needs, like clothes or books, and a few small toys.

Instead of gifts, we use money that would have been spent on those things to set aside for our yearly vacation.  

Tip #2 - We do sacrifice other "small vacations" for the sake of our one "big one".

Think of any time during the year you travel for the weekend, a few days, or even just a night.  Think about how much you would spend on hotel and activities for those getaways.  By us giving up a couple weekends away, we save hundreds of dollars!  

Again, this is one of those tips that is not for everyone.  It's not easy waiting all year for that one getaway,  so it takes discipline.  We make up for it by planning little "staycations".  There are lots of things to do around your own city/town that you may not have thought of before.  It's a great way to learn more about where you live.

Tip # 3 - We share accommodations.

We've traveled with family on each of our vacations to Florida.  We rent a property through sites like AirBnB or VRBO and split the cost.   One of the property's we've gone back to consistently has 4 bedrooms, a games room, 3D TV, video games, private pool, hot tub, and more, and we spend less than what we would have for a hotel room.  

Just as an example, we traveled during March Break this year.  Hotel rooms with with 2 Queen Size beds in a 3 to 4 star hotel were going for roughly $150/night. The 4 bedroom house we rented was $110 a night.

The other advantage to renting a property is having your own kitchen.  I don't know about you, but as much as I like not being the one constantly cooking, I also get kind of tired of restaurants.  It's nice to be able to prepare our own meals.  Bonus - it's not frowned upon to eat in your bathing suit!

Tip #4 - We have a dedicated "vacation bank account".

I have a regular Canada Savings Bond withdrawal each paycheck that we use for our holiday.  You could also set up a savings account for this purpose and have automatic withdrawals from your checking account that coincide with your pay days.  If you haven't done this before, it's an adjustment.  I recommend starting with a small withdrawal each paycheck and gradually increasing it.  It's not as noticeable that way.

If that would be too disruptive to your current budget, there's another money saving option.  A change jar.   This requires discipline, also only works if you use cash  - I rarely carry cash these days, so it likely wouldn't work for me.  But, at the end of each day, you empty your change from your wallet/purse in to a change jar.  Everything.  Toonies, loonies, etc.  If you pay for your coffee with a 5 each day, all that change can add up.

You can also try other cost cutting measures like making coffee at home instead of buying it and setting aside the money you would have spent on coffee.

It all adds up!

Tip #5 - Research, research, research.

For many people I have talked to, this can often be the least enjoyable tip I share.  I search airline websites, Expedia, VRBO, Priceline and many other websites frequently.  Several times a week.  I keep an eye on trends, and I'm ready if a flash sale comes up, I'm ready to pounce.  Prices can change daily, so it may sound like overkill, but sometimes it pays off.

For our most recent trip, I searched on a Monday morning at flights from our home airport in Saint John, New Brunswick to Orlando, and the flights were hovering around $600 round trip.  Tuesday evening at 11 PM, I found flights for $369 round trip, taxes included.  Amazing.  You never know what you may find!

Some general tips - I have found the best dates to fly are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The best prices I have found, I have found when searching on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.  It goes without saying that if you can travel outside of holidays, you will get a better deal.  If you can leave a few days before and come back a few days after a holiday, that's one way to cut down on the price of a trip over the holidays (Christmas/March Break).
- For rental cars - if you are not travelling at a popular time (Christmas, Thanksgiving, March Break), I have found the best prices 2 to 4 weeks before your trip.  As someone who plans in advance, this is a difficult wait, but it has paid off many times for me.  Also, search out discount coupon codes.  A simple google search will bring them up, but beware of the fine print.  If you're using a code that requires you use a Visa, they can charge you a higher price at check-in if you decide to pay with a different card.  Also make sure that the coupon is not for particular employers, unless you work there.

Tip #6 - Be as flexible as possible.

When I plan a trip, I have a general idea of when we want to plan, but I always make sure I'm flexible within a day or two for either side of my travel dates.  That way, if we find a great deal that are different than our intended dates, we can make changes.

Even better, if you are flexible on a destination, you can sometimes get amazing last minute travel deals.

Tip #7 - Use your travel rewards wisely.

If you're like me and use travel rewards towards your trips, be sure to compare how many rewards points/miles you need to use for your "reward" versus how much you would pay cash.  As an example, When we were considering whether to use our AIR MILES® towards a rental car or flights, it ended up that it would cost us 3 times as many miles to redeem for a rental car (we were travelling during a time of high demand) than one of our airline tickets, and if we were paying cash, they were roughly the same price.

Another tip - Flights leaving from Canada are expensive.  You can get some amazing deals in the US.  So we used our AIR MILES® to fly from our home airport to a US hub airport (Chicago O'Hare), and were able to get a flight from O'Hare to LAX for $49 Canadian, taxes included with United!  

I also keep an eye on "bonus offers" to earn more AIR MILES®.  I answer surveys, I go through to purchase from websites I generally would shop from anyway, and I pay with my AIR MILES® card and pay it right off to earn miles on my regular purchases.  Bonus offers exist for other travel rewards programs too, so be sure you're familiar with your program!

Those are some of my general tips and tricks.  I would love to hear any you have!  Feel free to share in the comments below, or come chat with me on social media!  Follow me on Twitter at @overtired_katie or on Facebook at The Ramblings of an Overtired Mama.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hair & Makeup Tutorial and Product Review

I know... an "Overtired Mama" doing a hair and makeup tutorial.  I can't believe it either.

I've watched many hair and makeup tutorials and thought "I wish I could do all of that".  But alas, even the simplest makeup tutorial has me coming out looking like I just applied clown makeup or had a 4 year old do my eye liner.

If you are someone who is seasoned when it comes to applying makeup, this tutorial will not be for you.   I'm a makeup minimalist.  And when I say that, don't mistake it for a snobby or snarky comment.  It's not that I don't like makeup, I actually like wearing it, I'm just not very good at it.  Oh, and I also love sleep way to much - I would give up a 10 minute makeup routine if it meant 10 more minutes in bed.  I'm that bad.

Anyway, I made a few changes over the last few months to the way I do my hair and makeup.  While I still don't wear makeup every day, there are times that I really need to, so these are my quick and dirty tips and tricks.  Below is a video that will take you through my routine. Then I will review each of the products I used individually.

Milkshake Color Maintainer Shampoo and Conditioner

I was introduced to this product by a childhood friend who is now a hair dresser.  She told me I would love this shampoo and conditioner, and she wasn't kidding.

The first thing you will notice is the amazing smell.  It's like smelling cupcakes that have been placed right in front of your nose.  So good!  Warning: may make you hungry.  But even though the smell is amazing, once you're done in the shower, the smell isn't strong.  I say that because I know many work places are scent free these days, so people are nervous about whether the smell will linger.  It really doesn't.  If I pull my hair right up to my nose to smell, I can get a really faint scent, but someone would have to be pretty close to you for that to happen.

My hair also has also had noticeable changes since I started using this shampoo and conditioner.  It's got a shine to it, and again, very soft.

Milkshake has a number of products including purple shampoo and styling products.  Sales of these products are generally limited to beauty salons, and even at that, they aren't available at every salon, so they can be hard to come by.  I have found some websites that sell them, so it may take a little searching to find them.

A bottle of shampoo generally runs for approximately $22*.

Pantene BB Creme

I seriously love the way my hair feels every time I use this product.  You would think that would motivate me to use it every time, but unfortunately, I don't always use it.  This product has many benefits, including heat protection, anti-frizz, and moisturizing components.  What I love about this product is that my hair feels so soft and manageable when I use it.  I live in an area where we have a lot of fog and it helps manage the frizz that type of weather produces.

Purchased for $6.*

Moroccan Oil Heat Styling Protection

I've had many a hair stylist gasp in horror when I said that I didn't use any product in my hair, not even a heat protection product.  Well stylists, worry no more!  I'm sold on this Moroccan Oil Heat Styling Spray.  Not only does it protect my hair from the high heat of my hair dryer and hair straightener, it tames my fly aways that seem to always pop up  through out the day and helps keep my hair in place.  Not quite a hair spray, but does help a little with my style.

Purchased for $21.*

TRESemmé Dry Shampoo

While I didn't mention this product in my video, I thought I would include it in my review anyway.  There are days that I wake up late and just need to run out the door.  That being said, I have combination hair (dry at the tips, oily at the roots).  So, it doesn't take long for the oil to take over the roots of my hair.  If I go beyond a day and a half without a shower, it's noticeable.  My friends have been raving about dry shampoo for a while.  I experimented with some, but TRESemmé's dry shampoo is the first one that helped control the oil in my hair.  In a pinch, I can use this as I head out the door.  I simply part my hair in a few different spots, lift a small layer at each part and spray underneath the layer , near the root and it keeps my hair looking fresh!

Purchased for $6.99.*

L'Oreal Paris Ultra Even Lotion

I have really dry skin, especially in my "T-Zone" area (above my eyebrows down on to my nose).  I don't exfoliate as often as I should, and I need regular moisturizing.  This product makes my skin feel and look great, and it has SPF 15, which is great because an important part of great skin is protection from UV rays!

Purchased for $7.99.*

e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer

I'm new to makeup primers.  Some may use this instead of a moisturizer before applying makeup, but I use both.  This smooths my skin's surface and helps set my makeup.  You don't need much to apply, a little goes a long way.

Purchased for $5.99.*

Super C.C. Cream by Physicians Formula

I'm also new to Physicians Formula makeup.  I decided to give it a try, as I'm always experimenting with new products.

Again, it doesn't take much to go a long way.  I didn't breakout with this makeup.  It went on easily and stayed on, but was easy to remove as well at the end of the day.

Purchased for $13.99.*

Physicians Formula Super CC Color-Correction + Care Instant Blurring Eye Cream

This is also the first time I tried an under-eye makeup (a lot of "firsts" for me in this review).  I had been using concealer to disguise the darkness under my eyes, but this cream works so much better.  It really covers the darkness well, and the cool applicator tip helped reduce the puffiness under my eyes.

Came free with the Super CC Cream.*

Mabeline Color Show Eyeliner

As mentioned in my video, I haven't been wearing eyeliner very long.  I've always been nervous putting things that close to my eyes.  I'm still not great at it, and I have a shaky hand, so that just makes it even more difficult.  I tried a liquid liner, but you really need a steady hand for that.  This pencil is perfect because it's easy enough to erase if you make a mistake, but it glides easy for those of us who have difficulty putting liner on.

Purchased for $2.99.*

Wet n Wild Max Volume Mascara

I'm not usually seeking volume for my lashes, just colour, but I do like this mascara.  The brush has great bristles that separate your lashes to give them lots of definition.

Purchased for $5.99.*

Avon Marbelized Baked Eye Shadow - Rose Gold

I'm not one for wild colours for my eyes, so this is the perfect shade for me.  It's sort of a pink/purple that is perfect for a daytime look.

Purchased for $4.*

Avon Be Blushed Cheek Colour

I'm all about simple makeup.  The easier it goes on the better.  That's why I love this cheek colour.  A stick similar to lipstick, but just a little thicker.  Apply directly to your upper cheek and blend.  Some people use it for lip colour too, but I haven't tried that.  I do find that since the texture is thicker than a powder, when you blend it makes the colour look deeper than it is.  Give it a minute before you panic and start taking it off.

Purchased for $9.*

And that's it!  Feel free to leave any comments, questions or recommendations!  As mentioned, I'm not the most versed in makeup, so if you know of a product that is simple to apply that you think I should try, let me know!

* Note: Prices were at time of publication.  Some items I purchased on sale.  Please see your local supplier for up to date pricing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Nail Product Review

I love getting a good manicure.  I have shaky hands, so I'm not very good at painting my own nails.  So I love treating myself to a nice manicure.  A couple years ago, I tried getting gel nails.  I loved them, because they lasted so long and looked great.  With regular nail polish, even high quality ones, I rarely had more than 1 or two days without a chip.  I tried shellac, but that only gave me a few more days of wear - maximum 5 days.  I've even tried nail stickers.  They gave me about the same amount of wear as shellac.

On a whim, while in a drug store waiting for a prescription, I decided to pick up some press on nails and give them a try.  I bought a few different varieties, and I decided I would review them for the blog in case any one was looking for recommendations!

To start I should note that your own experiences may vary.  I am very hard on my nails.  I don't wear gloves while cleaning or washing dishes.  I also have baths a few times a week, so my nails are subject to a lot of water and cleaning products.

The brands I tried for purposes of this review are:

  • L'Oréal® Colour Riche® Press-On Nails
  • Nailene Nail Studio
  • imPRESS®
  • Kiss® gel FANTASY™
So there were good and bad for each type, so I will tackle each one individually.  

First, L'Oréal® Colour Riche® Press-On Nails.  Here is a picture of the nails I chose:

The positives:
  • These were the nails I got the most compliments on for the design.
  • The sizing was clear and it was easy to locate the same size nail.  Nails had numbers on the back to let you  know the size.  So if you found the correct size for one thumb, you didn't have to keep measuring, you just looked for the nail with the same numbering on the back.
The "not so" positives:
  • They chipped at the tips relatively quickly.  The black colour made it more noticeable.
  • The adhesive was not very good, I had 3 nails fall off within 3 days.  I had to stick them back on with nail glue, but even at that, they weren't on a full week.

  • Of all the nails I bought, these were the most expensive.  They were approximately $15 when I bought them (January 2017).  

Next, Nailene Nail Studio.  Here is a picture of the nails I chose: 

The positives:
  • These were the most inexpensive of the nails I tried.  Purchased in January 2017 for $10.
  • You could purchase them in a variety of lenghts.  This is a nice feature because I like my nails short, and it is difficult to find press-on nails that are not really long.  I chose the "short" nails for this review.
  • They lasted just over a week for me.
The "not so" positives:
  • These do not come with any adhesive pads or nail glue, you must purchase that separately.  The Nailene nail glue was $1.50.
  • The pink part of the nail was relatively see-through, so it made the nails look sloppy when you look up close:

  • If you don't take the nails off yourself, if they break off, it is particularly hard on your nails.  My nails were a mess after this set.

Next, imPRESS®.  This is a picture of the nails I chose:

The positives:

  • There was a lot of variety in the way of designs.  Everything from simple French, to some wild patterns with fluorescent colours.  Lots for everyone to choose from.
  • The adhesive pads are on the press-on nails, no separate adhesive to fiddle with, no glue.  These were the easiest to apply.
  • These were the nails that lasted the longest for me.  I had them on nearly two weeks with no issues.  The only time I had one fall off is when I caught it on my car door, but I stuck it back on with nail glue.
  • Easy to take off.  The adhesive is flexible, it doesn't rip at your nail.  Once the nail is off, just put some nail polish remover on the remaining adhesive and it comes off easily.
  • Price at time of purchase, January 2017, was $11 regular price, and I got them 25% off.  Bonus!
  • They didn't chip. 
The "not so" positive:

  • Nothing.  I honestly loved everything about these nails.

Finally, Kiss® gel FANTASY™.  This is a picture of the ones I chose:

The positives:
  • The picture doesn't do these nails justice, they were seriously gorgeous.
  • These nails had a ton of really beautiful designs.  Very elegant.
  • The adhesive pads that came with the nails worked well, I kept these on for a week with no problems.
  • The price was similar to imPRESS at $11 to $12.

The "not so" positives:
  • The nails seem to come only in one length, which are longer than I'm accustomed to, so I had to file down quiet a bit, and the design I chose had sparkly tips, so I ended up filing off a lot of the sparkle.

So, which were my favourite?  The imPRESS nails, which was probably obvious by my comments.  They were followed closely by the Kiss nails.

Check out my tutorial/review video for the imPRESS nails:

Have you tried press-on nails?  Do you have a favourite brand?  Good experiences?  Bad experiences?  Please share in the comments!

Note: All prices quoted in this article were at time of purchase, January 2017, at WalMart in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.  Prices may vary at your local stores.  
I was not sponsored or paid for this post.  All views and opinions are my own.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Movie Madness Giveaway!

I am a total movie lover!  I like to get lost in plot lines, relate to characters, and even challenge the way I think about things.

If you are a fellow movie lover, this giveaway is for you!

I've paired up with some fellow bloggers for a "Blog Hop"!  Prizes from the different bloggers are supposed to be a movie or gift card to a movie theater, or even paypal cash so they can buy your own movies. Be sure to check each blogger in the hop for their specific prizes.

I'm giving away $20 Paypal Cash!  Please note my prize is in Canadian Funds.  

The #MovieMadness Blog Hop is co-hosted by Powered by Mom and Mom Does Reviews.

Movie Madness $20 CAD PayPal Cash Giveaway

  • One lucky reader will win $20 PayPal Cash (Canadian Funds).
  • Open Worldwide.
  • Winner will be chosen at random.
  • Sweepstakes ends February 27th at 11:59pm ET.
  • Winner will be notified via email.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.
  • Overtired Mama is responsible for prize fulfillment.
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter.
  • Only one entrant per household.
  • Void where prohibited.
  • Entering the giveaway form means you agree to terms above.

Check out the other bloggers below as they are also having some great giveaways as part of #MovieMadness!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Do You Make New Year's Resolutions?

Let me start by saying, I'm not asking this question to judge you on your answer.  Whether you make resolutions or not is not right or wrong, no matter what your choice is.

I've had many conversations with people over the last few days about resolutions.  Some had resolutions, and others said "resolutions don't work, it's a waste of time".

Whether you make "resolutions" or not is up to you.  I think many people see this time of year as a "new beginning, and therefore, a good opportunity to embark on a new venture.  I personally don't think there's anything wrong with that idea.  Regardless of when, during the course of a year, you decide to make a change in your life, I don't think the time of year has much to do with whether you will be successful or not.  I think the key is the mindset you go in to your venture with and whether you are setting realistic goals for yourself.

I've had goals set for myself at different times of the year, the time of year had little to do with whether I reached my goal or not.   One of my key learnings was that I had to set goals with clear parameters and that were reasonable to attain.  Any of my goals that involved extremes (ie - going from not exercising to exercising an hour a day 7 days a week, or cutting out carbs from my diet), were rarely successful.

As long as you are evaluating your goals, and believe they are reasonably attainable, that's what's important.   And if you "fall off the wagon" with your goals, the important thing is to re-evaluate and try again.

So, perhaps New Year's resolutions are not for you, and that's ok, but they may work for someone else.

Do you make resolutions?  What helps you stay on track to achieve your goals?  Feel free to share in the comments section or on our Facebook page:

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking for the Sunny Side of 2016

So, if you have been on social media at all in the last few weeks you can see that there is a common theme: 2016 was the worst (apparently).

I will fully acknowledge that 2016 had some weird things happen.  I'm sure there has to be at least some good that came out of this year, right?

One of the recent trends I've seen in the last couple weeks are people sharing their positive experiences from 2016.  Even if 2016 was the worst year ever for you, this is a good exercise - think back, and was there a time this year that you had fun?  Laughed so hard it hurt?  Smiled?  Or even just had a really good hug?

In an effort to start 2017 on a good note, I challenge everyone to think of something, even if it is just one moment, but think of something that was positive for you in 2016.   You can either keep that to yourself, or share in the comment section (or on our Facebook Page ).

I will start - I put my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in September.  I had never been to the West Coast before, so this was exciting for me!  And I was there to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary to my husband.

I have other amazing memories, and I won't go in to all of them, but here are some photos to represent those moments:

Cuba in April

My "Happy Place"

Universal Studios!

Let me say that doing this exercise does not diminuish any negative things that happened this year.  I just think that if we focus on the positive as we finish this year, that it starts us off on the right foot for 2017!   What are your favourite moments from 2016?  Share in the comments below, or join me on my Facebook page:

Friday, December 30, 2016

We Can't Do It All

I learned an important lesson over the last month.  As many of you know, I work full time, I have a busy little girl involved in a lot of activities, we've been renovating our home, and I'm a part-time MBA student.

I had been managing all of my commitments until I got closer to Christmas.  My workload suddenly exploded and I was in a course that was extremely time consuming.  I convinced myself I was fine and that this was temporary and this would pass.  But then I wound up in the Emergency room.  Completely run down.

I think many of us can struggle with trying to be "all things to all people".  And I have even found myself preaching to others that you need to learn to say "no", and that you can't please everyone.  And yet, here I was, at the hospital, having been my own worst enemy.

Upon my return to work a co-worker said to me "You need to start taking care of yourself.  Your daughter needs her mom.".  Of course, I thought, that's common sense!   And yet, I wasn't following that idea.

So I made a decision for myself, I was going to make more of an effort to take care of me.  More "me time".  I took a semester off from school, and I'm learning to say "no" to things that I can't manage.

Do you make time for yourself?  What do you do to help yourself relax?  Feel free to share in the comment section, or come over to our Facebook page and tell us: