Traveling Like A Pro: Updated!

With the holidays right around the corner, there’s a lot of traveling for some of us. Whether we’re going home for the holidays or have short work (or play!) trips to attend, the fall/winter months are when most people are out and about. Luckily for me, I get to spend Thanksgiving at the beach. There will not be much of tanning going on, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun.

When thinking about traveling for a long weekend, packing can be the most stressful thing ever. If you’re anything like my boyfriend, he loathes packing. I end up doing it for him, most of the time. So with two bags to pack, instead of just one, I have a lot to do. Thankfully, I have my traveling like a pro checklist to keep me in track. Have you heard of the 5,4,3,2,1 method before? It’s the best (and the only) way I know how to pack.


You may be familiar with this approach, because I’ve blogged about it before. It’s pretty self-explanatory: five tops, four bottoms, three accessories, two pairs of shoes, and either one tote bag or a bathing suit depending on the season. The reason why I love this method is because I used to always pack a ton of different options because I never knew what I’d be in the mood to wear once I got there. The truth is, I never ended up using half of what I packed. Packing doesn’t have to be that stressful if you have a plan.The key is to pack with a theme in mind so that you can mix and match your outfits. Maybe you’ve heard of capsuling before; it’s sort of the same thing. If you plan ahead, you’ll have plenty of options for when you get there.

Now that we’re well into the colder months, sweaters and boots can take up the majority of your space in a suitcase or luggage bag. The struggle is: how to pack light when your clothes are so heavy. Here are some quick tips for packing during the fall and winter months:

Stick to neutrals – Since sweaters don’t need to be washed as often (you’re not sweating in them like you are a tank top on a 90 degree day), you can get by with fewer tops. Stick to neutral colors and use your accessories [see next item] to change up your look. Since you’ll most likely be in and out of museums, shops, and restaurants, chose warm cardigans and a light long sleeve t-shirt so you can layer, and un-layer, as necessary.

Functional accessories – Scarves are a traveler’s best friend.  Choose a bright color to compliment your neutral wardrobe. I often throw in a vest to add an extra layer of warmth to wear both on the plane and when out and about. Other than the earrings I wear on a daily basis, I don’t bother to pack any unnecessary jewelry.

All hail the leggings! – As if you needed reminding that black leggings are the savior of any trip. Not only do they pack well, but they take up limited space and match everything. Take it one step further and make sure yours are fleece-lined and have enough substance to keep you warm. On a really chilly day, wear them under jeans for another coat of warmth.

Shoes for the elements – Shoes should be all about functionality. You don’t want to slip and fall on ice, so leave those beloved booties at home. Find a pair with good traction and an appropriate material for warmth and durability. Heavy socks are ideal, especially wool ones that won’t soak up moisture. I also like to bring my light weight sneakers to slip in a workout if I can find a gym nearby. Wear your boots on the plane to save space and tuck your other pair into a plastic bag to keep your clothes dry and dirt-free.

Every nook and cranny – Stuff undergarments into your shoes. Roll pants tightly and tuck socks into open crevices. Wear your bulkiest items and be realistic with what you bring. Make sure you pack your heaviest items (sneakers, thick sweaters, etc.) towards the bottom of your suitcase where the wheels are, it’ll help prevent it from tipping over when upright!

Surprise visitors – Although you might be dreaming of fluffy flakes and snow covered trees, Mother Nature is not always so kind. It just so happens that I was greeted on New Year’s Day in Chicago with a downpour. Make sure you pack a tiny umbrella to not only protect you from the rain, but to keep you dry in case temperatures reach freezing later on.

And that’s it! You’re ready to travel like a pro!

Free Plaid Desktop Screen

I like freebies, so today I’m giving away one. Use the links below to download. Enjoy!



These are for personal use only and are not to be sold for any reason. Feel free to share, but please link TSA back in your post. Thank you!

Tips For A Frugal Christmas


I saw a photo on Facebook yesterday that said we have seven Mondays until Christmas. Um, what? It reminded me that I need to get going on this gifting thing. But with just buying a house, it’s a little overwhelming. So I plan on having a frugal Christmas. Is there such thing as a frugal Christmas???


Here’s how I see it, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on Christmas as long as you have a plan.

Christmas is my favorite holiday because I love to give gifts. And I have a lot of people in my life, so it can get a little out of hand picking out the perfect gift at an amount that works. I go over on people, go under on others and I never feel good after the holidays are over. I always think about that one person who gave me a really awesome gift, but I didn’t do too hot on them.. It’s a struggle.

THEN, you’ve always got a new baby, your cousin’s new boyfriend, or that estranged uncle who’s decided to show up to think about. So to keep me from literally panicking, I’ve sat down and came up with a few tips for helping me get through the holidays without being in debt. And with all of my sanity. I learned these tips watching my family members around the holidays and how they made it work. So, I hope these can help you, too.

  1. Have a dollar amount for each person. My mom taught me this one, but it works like a charm. Sit down and evaluate how much you would like to spend for each person in your life. Write their name and a dollar amount in a small notebook. When you are out shopping, take your notebook with you and write down the items you purchase for each individual person and the amount it costs. If you go over on a particular person, you can move a gift to another person. The key is to not go over!!
  2. Buy in bulk where you can. Every year my dad goes out and finds “The Man Gift” of the year. Typically, this is some sort of tool or device, but he gets one for every guy in the family. It helps knock off a gift for every guy in one swoop. But don’t let it stop with the guys! This can work for the ladies, too. Think about one large gift and then toss in little stuff to make up for your total budget. I love tossing in items like hand lotions, lip balms,and hand sanitizers for all of my ladies.
  3. Consider not buying for your significant other. This one may be tough, but if money is tight ask your significant other if you can just focus on gifts for others. (Knowing my man, he’d probably not have a problem with it!) Maybe settle for a nice dinner out together or one handmade item. Typically, the budget J and I have for each other is about $250 each, which would help out on other gifts tremendously if we didn’t buy for each other. Besides, we just bought each other a house! That’s good enough, right?
  4. Get crafty. Baked goods and DIY gifts come straight for the heart. Get on Pinterest and find some things that you can make for your loved ones. My sister loves to craft up stuff for Christmas. She does canvas paintings, things with wood, handmade jewelry. Everyone always loves it. Those kind of gifts can save you money and they are more significant to the giftee.
  5. Dirty Santa or Secret Shopper. Everyone knows how Dirty Santa or Secret Shopping works. The idea is to draw names from a hat and only buy a gift for that person. The trick is to set an amount everyone can work with. If you set it at around $30-$50, that’s a pretty good gift! You could also exchange gifts if you end up not liking it, as long as the member left the gift receipt.
  6. Ask people what they actually want. This may seem mind-boggling, but ask that hard-to-buy-for person exactly what they need. If the answer is socks, then by golly get them a pack of socks. My dad is this person. He’s the hardest to buy for, because he’s already got it all.  PS: If my family members are reading, all I really need is money for the house. Forget the gifts and just give me the cash! Please and thank you. :)

Don’t let the spirit of Christmas fade away because you’re stressed about money. Just have a plan and stick to it! I’ve created this fun printable that you can use for setting a budget per person. Click here to download: Christmas Gift List

For tips on budgeting while in college, check out this post:


Or click here.

7 Songs to Motivate You While You Clean


Cleaning the house is not something I typically enjoy to do, so I try to make it a little fun by having a fun playlist of songs to jam out to. Check out my go-to playlist that gets my in the mood to clean!

  1. Shark in the Water – V V Brown
  2. We Belong – Pat Benatar
  3. Dancing On My Own – Robyn
  4. Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
  5. Wild Ones – Flo Rida
  6. Tighten Up – The Black Keys
  7. Titanium – David Guette & Sia


What are your favorite cleaning songs? 


Spot On Saturdays: Target Deals for November

DISCLAIMER: The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

If you didn’t already know, I’m a part of the affiliate team with Target online. This means I get a small commission from them when readers use my dedicated link to shop with. And now through the end of January, I can earn a little extra which would be so helpful with the holidays coming up. So, if you’re planning on purchasing something through Target online, please consider using my link! I would greatly appreciate it!

I was a fan of Target long before I joined their program and long before they were in Birmingham. I’m not sure at what point they moved up here, but I remember going to Target when I would visit my grandmother in Panama City Beach, FL. My mother loved stopping in to grab lunches and beach things for us. Literally, it was like going to Disney World when we went to Target. The truth is, and I’m not getting paid to say this, their products are made to last, the prices are reasonable and affordable, and the look of their home decor section is that of a high-end boutique. You can’t go wrong. Plus, they have fresh and delicious deli meats and produce and their flower section is always great. You just can’t beat it. When I need a gift, a new lamp, or some storage containers it’s Target I head to first. The best part about Target is…

c/o The House of Smiths

…the clearance end caps! That’s where you can find the best stuff marked 50-70% off!

Every other week or so, I get a letter from the affiliate program highlighting the deals that are going on. I used to update my right sidebar with the deals, but I noticed many people didn’t think to look there. So now, I’m going to (try) to do a post on Saturdays just for Target! There are so many great deals, how could I not share them with you?

SOS_Target copy

November is Target’s Baby Gear Mega Sale and I know many of you will be traveling with little ones to spend time with family and friends over the holidays. So everything from strollers to car seats to high chairs to play mats are on sale. That’s more than 300 items, guys. If you don’t have a baby, just borrow one and get to shopping!

In addition, there are many other things to get excited for this month: cooler weather (finally!), the end of Daylight Savings (hallelujah!), and Thanksgiving (no caption here needed.). To get you ready for the healthiest day of the year, Target is also offering considerable savings on kid’s outwear, daylight savings prep, household items and more. Check out the full list below.


Kids’ Outerwear | Baby Gear Mega Sale | Daylight Savings Prep | Apple Watch

All promotions:
These promos are for online purchases only. Pay close attention to the run dates so you don’t miss out on a great opportunity! Affiliate links have been added. 

Apparel, Shoes and Accessories

Home & Outdoor
Save 20% when you spend $75 on
Clothing, Shoes and Accessories
for the whole family
run dates: 11/01/2015 – 11/07/2015
Merry Monday: 3 ways to save on Furniture: Spend $500, save $200; Spend $400, save $150; or Spend $250, save $75

run dates: 11/01/2015 – 11/07/2015



Home & Outdoor

Home & Outdoor
Preview Faribault Woolen Mill
Company. Exclusive goods woven
and sewn entirely by American
artisans. Available for a limited time

run dates: 11/01/2015 – 11/07/2015
30% off Upholstered Chairs

run dates: 11/05/2015 only



Home & Outdoor

Home & Personal Electronics
Save 25% on Bed and Bath items

run dates: 11/07/2015 only

Free $50 gift card when you buy Beats Wireless Headphones. No strings attached

run dates: 11/01/2015 – 11/07/2015



Housewares, Auto & Hardware

Housewares, Auto & Hardware
Save 40% on Fryers and Grills

run dates: 11/03/2015 only

Save 30% on Kitchen items for Thanksgiving Prep

run dates: 11/04/2015 only



Housewares, Auto & Hardware

Housewares, Auto & Hardware
Save 20% on Dinnerware sets
(online only)
run dates: 11/01/2015 – 11/07/2015
30% off Rachael Ray Cook and Bakeware with promo code RACHAEL30

run dates: 11/06/2015 only



Toys & Games
Save up to 25% on Minecraft, WWE & Star Wars Micro Machines

run dates: 11/01/2015 – 11/07/2015



Happy shopping!


Weekend + Links

This weekend is Halloween! I am hoping to pop in at our new neighbor’s costume party (still debating on what to wear!) and give out treats to the kids. I can’t wait to see what everyone is dressed up as. It’s one of my favorite things about the holiday. I’m also hoping to get a ton of stuff done around the house and get those boxes unpacked! I’m ready to know where everything is and be able to find it in a flash. Check out my link roundup below!

Link Roundup:

1 | Five things happy people have in their home.

2 | I’m going to whip up a batch of these s’mores cookies for the weekend.

3 | Loving the look of this tote bag.

4 | Quick tips on rearranging your furniture.

5 | No plans for Halloween? Here’s how to celebrate at home.

Happy Halloween!

In case you missed my post Wednesday, check out these 25 non-food treats to give our on Halloween and see why it can help keep kids safe.