5 Tips for Renting A Vacation House

Every year (almost) we rent a house at the beach for a week of vacation time with our family.  Now that our three children are grown, and two are married, it can be difficult to coordinate our schedules so that we can all be together for an extended time.  All of us try to make it a priority to set aside a few days to come together.  And it’s vacation, so it’s not hard.

4 houses, better (1 of 1)

Of course, as your family grows and people mature, you look for different things in a house.  This year we will have two granddaughters with us.  Yay!  In years past we wanted a ping pong table.  Now we need some quiet areas.   It’s a good idea to jot down some must-haves for your house, along with budget and the dates that are good for everyone.


Obviously, these 3 are the basics of any decision.  In our family we go to the same beach every year, so that’s a given.  And budget is obviously important too before you start looking.  You will see everything from condos at $1000 per week to enormous homes over $8000 per week.  It’s good to be clear on this subject and how much everyone will be paying.   With seven adults’ schedules it can be tricky to find the right week for everyone, so start early in the year nailing that down.

house pic (1 of 1)


Another reason to start early on your search is that the best houses go quickly.  I know some groups find a house that suits them, then they book it year after year.  But years when circumstances have kept me from an early search,  I have been frustrated because the best houses have been snapped up.  Get everyone to agree on a couple of possible dates and start looking as soon as possible.


Your budget goes a long way in determining the size of the rental, but usually everyone wants as big a place as possible, with each couple having their own bedroom and bathroom, ideally.  Occasionally couples will share a hall bath.  And I have learned that it is best for the bedrooms to be located away from the living area.  Then the night owls don’t keep the rest of us awake and the early risers don’t bother everyone either.

And be sure and notice the size of the dining table and number of chairs.  I have seen rentals with 5 bedrooms sometimes have small tables with only 6 chairs.  Make sure there is plenty of space for your crowd if you plan to eat together or play board games.

morning walk (1 of 1)


Beach rentals sometimes provide some beach gear, like chairs and umbrellas.  Also amenities like grills and outside dining tables and chairs may be included.  We take note of the number of TVs and the wi-fi set up also.   Be aware of these extras since it will help as you are planning what to bring with you.


This last recommendation is a nice to have if you can afford it.  Having more than one common area allows for different activities which is especially nice when you have a group of people of different ages and interests.  Some might want to play games or do puzzles while others are watching TV or movies.  Sometimes having a covered porch or deck along with the living room will suffice, but I always look for a house with more than one family room.

sea oats

And I get Mr. Bee and daughter Bee to look at the listing as well.  They will often notice something that I have missed.  If there are any questions feel free to message the owners.

What are your priorities when renting vacation places?

Neglect and Dirt I noticed while Prepping for Guests

We belong to a group that takes turns hosting a dinner party every month.  Our turn hosting is this Saturday so I have been trying to do a little prep every day to get ready.

As I prepare to have friends over,  I start seeing my rooms as my guests see them and then  all the little imperfections come to light.   But if I don’t get this vision until the day of the party, as sometimes happens, then I feel overwhelmed with little cleaning or decorating details that are tangential to the party.

For example, I have had a dead plant in the living room for a couple of weeks now.  It’s totally brown.  I could have just taken it out of the room, but that spot needs a plant.  So, today, when I was buying flowers for the table, I bought a replacement plant.  It looks so much better, of course.

One of my candles in the lanterns on the front step had dead batteries, now replaced. There always various tasks that I will “get to when I have time”, i.e. water rings on the bar, that keep getting put off until I realize I will be embarrassed for others to see my lackadaisical approach to upkeep.  I guess I need a party to motivate me to do these little chores.  And I am still sweeping Christmas greenery out of the corners.

I created a printable  Dinner Party To-Dos (1) that helps me stay organized and on track of the little chores that go with having friends over.  I thought you might like it too!

Easy and Delicious Valentine’s Day dinner for Two

I have always liked to do a little something for Valentine’s Day.  When our children were home it was fun to mark the day with a special dessert and some small gifts.

Nowadays I am happy to have Valentine’s Day come along at just the right time to break up the winter dreariness and give us a reason to celebrate those we love; maybe we will even drink a little champagne.

And  I still like to have a special meal for Mr. DB and me. Some years Valentine’s Day is  in the middle of the week so we have to be practical. And we are trying to be healthy eaters so there’s that.  But with this menu you won’t feel as if you are sacrificing at all.

My menu this year:

Lamb Chops with garlic and rosemary

Arugula Salad

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Meringues with Strawberries and Chocolate Mascarpone

Arugula Salad

2 cups arugula, 1/4 c. Craisins, 2 minced green onions, 1/4 c. toasted almond slivers, Good Seasons Italian dressing (or any Italian dressing).  Mix the first 5 ingredients.  Toss with dressing before serving.  I keep all of these ingredients on hand since this is our go-to salad.

Lamb Chops

One package of 5 lamb chops, 3-4 cloves of garlic, rosemary, olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Season the lamb chops on both sides according to taste.  Heat a heavy skillet for  2 minutes, then add olive oil.  When the oil shimmers add the lamb chops and cook 3 minutes on a side.  I set my timer.  Don’t leave the stove.  Place the chops on a plate and cover with aluminum foil for up to 5 minutes so that the juices can settle.

  Since meringues have to cook for 1 1/2 hours you may want to make them ahead of time and keep them for the big day.  This is a nice light dessert for any occasion.

Add the beverage of your choice and enjoy!

Do you do anything special on Valentine’s Day?  I would love to hear from you!


Show Your Love

I don’t usually make a BIG deal of Valentine’s Day, but it is fun to make it a little less ordinary.  Here are some of the ways I have celebrated the day with those I love.

I made this potholder for my mother-in-law.  If you sew, it’s easy to make these with scraps from your fabric stash.

I bring in more candy than usual.  Candy doesn’t last long around here – even with the kids gone.

It’s a good opportunity to bring out your heart decor.


How cute is this craft heart for your kids, of any age?

And thank goodness for Valentine’s Day or I would have lingering Christmas decor until Easter.  Oy!

I’ll be back on Monday with my easy weeknight Valentine’s Day dinner for two.

Boho Bedroom is almost Done

We are almost done in the guest room of my daughter’s new house.  If you haven’t been following along, we are sprucing up this room on a $500 budget.  You can see more here.

This week we worked on the side of the room across from the bed, which basically only needed a mirror and a little styling help on the dresser top.

I think a little larger plant might be in order at least for the pictures.  I do like to leave room for guests to place their brushes and toiletries, etc. on dressers and other surfaces.

I found the small shelf at a thrift store and painted it white.  We didn’t need anymore brown furniture in this room.

In the beginning it looked like this:

Luckily we had good quality furniture.  All we had to do was add a few accessories and warm it up a bit.

This empty corner gets a little personality with a shelf and some pictures.

A few more incidentals and we are done.  And we have not spent all of our $500.  I will have a full accounting of our expenditures on the final reveal.

Progress in the Boho Bedroom

I just returned from spending a week in this guest bedroom at my daughter’s house.  I had a wonderful few days looking after my 7 month old granddaughter while her parents attended a wedding in the Caribbean.  We had a fun time and I took the opportunity to introduce her to Homegoods and TJ Maxx.  You can’t start too early on these things!

If you have been reading along you know this is the room where we want to add some warmth and coziness on a budget of $500.

This is where we started.

We had the basics, bed, nightstands, lamps.

Dressing up the bed just added little added personality right away.  Lilly already had the chambray sheets, which coordinate well with the color scheme of blues and blush pink that we are going with.  The pillowcases with the geometric designs are from Target, as are both throw pillows and the blush colored throw at the foot of the bed.

I was able to hang the art above the bed, by myself, during granddaughter’s nap time.  In the room the placement looks good, but here they seem a little high.  Read more about the beautiful, inexpensive artwork here.

The furniture is all a dark brown color that kind of dominates.  I looked for inexpensive nightstands but had no luck there.  Turning to my inspiration pictures gave me the idea of draping something over the headboard.   That gray throw on the headboard gives an upholstered effect to the bed, softening it in color and feel.  Right now it is just draped there, but if it is to remain I will sew the edges for a more tailored fit.

I could not decide what kind of lamps would fit with the boho vibe.  Did we want unique thrift store options?  Or more contemporary brass desk lamps?  But then I found these blush crystal lamps at Homegoods.  The color is right for  our color scheme.  Add that they had two and they were in budget and it was a no-brainer.

So this side of the room is looking good.

We still have some budget left for a few changes on the other side of the room.  But the room is already looking more inviting don’t you think?