Friday, January 30, 2015

January Budget

And welcome to another budget post! I can't believe it's already time to do this again, I feel like I just wrote my budget recaps for 2014.

This month I feel like I didn't do so good on the practicality scale. Those jeans (yes, I kept them) were totally necessary, but everything else? I did not need another pair of boots, but got drawn in by the end of year sales. And the blanket scarf is fun, but not really that practical. I also got a tinge excited because Jeff and I finally started really planning our honeymoon instead of just talking about it, which somehow equated to me buying three summer dresses in the dead of winter. So here you have it folks, basically a whole month-long fail. 

You may remember me talking about buying myself a little present with some of my Christmas money - I actually did buy this gorgeous Kate Spade bag, and while I absolutely love it, I think it has to go back. The construction of the bottom isn't really strong enough (they went cutsey and made it the shape of a bow instead of a rectangle) which means when I put anything heavier than my chapstick in it, the sides collapse inwards. I can tell that in a couple of months it's going to look terrible (especially because I was planning on toting my iPad mini around in it). 

Here's the damage for January:

Tart Dress - originally $176, on sale $59.99
Madewell Jeans - $128
Sheinside Scarf - originally $27.78, on sale $16.67
Stella & Dot Bracelet - originally $49.99, on sale $24.99, used Dot Dollars $0
Sheinside Dress - originally $19.67, on sale $14.75
Sole Society Boots - originally $149.95, on sale $74.98
Sheinside Dress - originally $35.58, on sale $14.99

Total Spent: $309.38
Total Saved: $277.59

As far as next month, I'm not really sure what I'm looking for, besides a different bag since the Kate Spade didn't work out. There's not a whole lot that I need, although I have been getting that pesky feeling recently of having a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. #struggs

How did your budgeting go for January?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Inbetweener

Dress (Similar) - Old Navy / Cardigan - Gap Factory / Necklace (similar) and Bag (similar) - JCrew Factory (both gifts) / Bracelet - Michael Kors 

When we were down in Austin a couple of weeks ago, I had to go to a rehearsal dinner with a very confusing dress code. They sent us a formal invitation to the dinner, which would suggest it would be dressy like most rehearsal dinners, but then the groom told us not to dress up and that he was just going to wear jeans. I didn't really know what to do, so I went dead middle with a casual knit dress and cardigan that I dressed up with accessories. It ended up being the perfect decision, there were some girls in really formal dresses and heels and others in jeans (and one woman in a cowboy hat and fanny pack), so I ended up feeling super comfortable with my choice. What's great about this combo is that it would also be perfectly appropriate at work or church, and with a different color cardigan could work in the spring too. If spring ever comes that is, lately it won't stop snowing! I usually like the snow, but after last winter I'm not sure I'll ever be cool with snow again.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

This Weekend...

This weekend I...

...Discovered a new Burger Bar opened up in our neighborhood, and proceeded to stuff myself silly with pulled pork and andouille sausage.
...Did a day of training for my volunteer work with Destination Imagination.
…Guilt watched a Lifetime movie about William and Kate that was so bad but so good. God I hope William really did terrible karaoke to say he was sorry in college.
...Grabbed drinks at Square One with the boo.
...Went to Oakbrook Center for the first time to return a bunch of things (I keep buying shoes for the wedding and then deciding I hate them) and contemplated why northern Illinois has so many outdoor malls when it's cold for most of the year.
…Saw This Is Where I Leave You and thought it was surprisingly good, even though I usually end up hating whatever character Jason Bateman plays.
...Grabbed an immense amount of sushi at Kai Sushi and then had to roll home.
...Had a little party with some friends for the Royal Rumble. Yep, you read that right. I was mostly in it for the party snacks ;)

I hope you had a good one!

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Friday, January 23, 2015

One Pot Sausage Red Pepper Pasta

If there's anything that get's me in a recipe title, it's the words "One Pot." I mean, seriously, washing dishes isn't that hard, but I loathe it above all other chores, so cutting down on the dishes is a major score for me. 

The thing about one pot recipes though is that they're usually a little weird, because meals usually really shouldn't all be made in one pot. Not this one. In fact, when I asked Jeff if he liked it, he said, "Yeah, I love when you make this." Turns out he was confusing this one pot pasta with this other roasted red pepper pasta recipe that was waaaaaay more time consuming and make my kitchen look like it was attacked by a band of two year olds. A side note: do I make too many roasted red pepper pastas? Nahhhh....

One Pot Sausage Red Pepper Pasta (adapted from Host the Toast)
Serves 4 very hungry people or 6 regular people

You'll Need:
1 lb spicy italian sausage, casings removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB olive oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 16oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and pureed in a food processor
12 oz pasta
5 oz spinach
3.5 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, sautee sausage, garlic, and olive oil over medium heat until browned. Add milk, chicken broth, pureed red peppers, and pasta. Stir to combine. Let pot come to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until pasta is just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Stir in goat and parmesan cheese until melted. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Serve and top with copious amounts of shredded parmesan.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Buffalo, Stripes, & Chambray

Tee (similar) and Chambray (similar) - Loft / Jeans - Madewell / Scarf - Old Navy (gifted) / Boots - Sole Society / Watch - Kate Spade

Pattern mixing used to be such a scary thing (I remember being totally freaked to try this combo back in 2013!) but now I don't even realize I'm doing it. A little buffalo plaid with stripes? No problem. I probably should have tossed in some leopard to really make it fun. I got this scarf for Christmas and I love how easy it is to wear. It's just one small loop that goes right over your head so you don't have to worry about twisting it around or getting it to fall right. Scarves for beginners.

Oh, and yes, you're right, I am wearing those Madewell jeans again. I was this close to taking them back, and then my go-to pair started to disintegrate. I decided I was just being a bit hypercritical of them, the knees really aren't any bigger than any other pair I own. And in case you're wondering, I did break my "no more boots" ban and grabbed another pair during Sole Society's after Christmas sale. They were final sale, which was a bit of a mistake because they hit my ankle bone a little funny. With extra thick socks it isn't that noticeable, but I'm hoping they break in a little better.

 In other clothes related news, I have to get my headshot taken at work today, which was weirdly stressful to plan an outfit for. It feels like getting ready for school photos all over again. I'm writing this post in advance, so fingers crossed I didn't freak out and pick out something totally crazy this morning!

Linking up with Friday Fab FavoritesRandom Wednesday#stylemeweekly and Style Me Wednesday.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

This Weekend...

This weekend I...

... Went to a charity event for the Kerry Wood foundation, which was at the new Harry Caray's at Watertower Place. I was a little apprehensive because I don't really care about the whole sports thing, but it was fun to go through their little museum, play some sports games, see how my wingspan compares to Scottie Pippen's, and check out how I'd look as a Blackhawk. There was also an open bar, the Plain White T's performed about 10 feet from our table, and I shook Kerry Wood's hand, so all in all, a pretty good night. I wonder how much the Plain White T's hate Hey There Delilah at this point...
...Got an early start to the weekend when the internet went down at work.
...Went to the outlet mall to try to find a new purse that would convince myself that I don't need this beauty from Kate Spade and failed miserably.
...Went out with the in-laws to Chicago Cut as a little preview to our rehearsal dinner, and my god the steak I had was good! I'm super excited to go back in a few months.
...Took an early morning trip to IKEA (seriously, we managed to get there before it opened) to buy a couple new storage solutions for our house, and then took 3 episodes of Gilmore Girls to put everything together.
...Caught up with some friends who were in town for a little Sunday Night Football.

I hope you had a good one! As a little PSA, I've suddenly hit a time crunch with the wedding planning where I just don't have the time to put together content for this little bloggy, so I'm going to try out just posting 3x a week this week. Come back for an outfit on Wednesday and a recipe on Friday.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Current Wishlist

Coat - Club Monaco / Heels - Banana Republic / Necklace - Stella & Dot / Dress - Piperlime / Bag - Kate Spade / Necklace - BaubleBar / Watch - Kate Spade / Sweater - Gap / Bikini - Kate Spade

Around this time each year, as I snuggle down under my faux fur blanket and start dreaming about spring break, pastels start to draw me in. I've been wanting a smaller bag that fits my iPad mini to go with my wool coat, but now I'm thinking instead of a dark color maybe a pretty lavender would do the trick instead. Or maybe I'll just get a new wool coat for spring, like this pretty one from Club Monaco, so I don't have to worry about matching. I'm also dyyyyyying over this little striped dress, I'm not sure how it would look on my figure but I can imagine this working so well for a wedding this spring or maybe for one of my own wedding events. As for the bikini, well, I've been staring at it every day wondering if my chest would fit into the top and really need to go into the store to see how it looks.

What's on your current wishlist?

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Topped with a Bow

Blouse - NY&Co / Sweater (similar) - Gap Outlet / Skirt (similar) - Loft / Belt (similar)- ASOS (last worn so freaking long ago) / Bracelet - Michael Kors / Flats (similar) - Tory Burch

Are these pictures super old? Ummmmm, guilty. You're looking at one of my family Christmas party looks. I was going to share my winter wedding look from this weekend, but as per the usual I didn't manage to take any pictures besides a selfie or two. Too busy shaking my booty off I guess ;)

This belt is one of those pieces I've had in my closet for a long time and love but rarely makes it out. I put it on all of the time, but it just doesn't quite work. Is it financially irresponsible if I buy a whole new wardrobe specifically to wear with my fancy bow belt?

Linking up with Mix It Monday and Friday Fab Favorites.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Austin Weekend

This past weekend Jeff and I went down to Austin for a friend's wedding, and seriously you guys, I loved the city. And I barely saw any of it! It was rainy and cold and we ended up having more pre-planned activities than I thought, so we never even left the downtown area. I know, I know, I probably missed the real Austin. Don't worry, we definitely plan on going back when it's a little warmer out. So what did we get up to? Well besides the gorgeous wedding we attended at The Allan House, mostly a freaking lot of eating and drinking:

- Went to Midnight Cowboy for drinks. The bar is built in an old brothel, so when you make a res you're actually booking one of the old rooms. Kind of gross and kind of hilarious. Also, they have a very fancy prohibition-style cocktail list and a bar cart that rolls up to the door so you can watch your drink being made.
- Wandered down Congress to see the sights and check out some of Austin's famous murals.
- Visited a bar thats entrance is hidden behind a sliding bookcase. Seriously, they had me at hidden door. Also, all of the bartenders had very amusing facial hair, so this place was a win for me.
- Decided that my new life goal is to become the governor's wife so I can live in this beauty of a house. So, step one, move to Texas, step two, get Jeff to become the governor. Shouldn't be hard.
- Rode a jackalope, because, well, why not, and had a freaking amazing burger at The Jackalope.
- Went shopping in the boutiques on Second Street and found an amusing mix of designer handbags, Austin souvenirs, and items that are clearly meant for illegal drug usage.
- Had brunch at Stubbs, where there was a live gospel show as well as a buffet featuring both eggs and barbecue. I was a very happy girl.
- Visited the Texas Capitol building, which is just slightly bigger than the US Capitol because, well, Texas, and full of intricate details like stars on everything and some very fancy door hinges.
- Ate and drank and ate and drank and ate and drank some more.

Austin, I will definitely be back.

Oh and P.S., today I'm being featured on Style Me Weekly!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just swinging through

Oh hey guys! I'm back from Austin, but last night I was super exhausted (and really just wanted to watch The Bachelor) so instead of sharing what I was up to this weekend, I leave you with a photo of me riding a jackalope. A full recap is coming at you tomorrow. Cheers!

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Howdy, y'all!

Jeff and I at a wedding last fall. We take dancing very seriously. 

Today Jeff and I are flying down to Austin for a friend's wedding. I've never been to Austin, or really even Texas, before. I once drove through the panhandle during a crazy 30 hour road trip in college, but I feel like that doesn't really count since all I saw were the highways and a rest stop or two (which, let me say, was impressively large). I've heard a lot of good things about Austin so I'm pretty excited to check it out. Jeff is in the wedding party and so has a few responsibilities, but I'm basically free to explore until Sunday night when the wedding is. I could definitely use some tips of what to see, do, and of course, eat ;) I know we'll hit the Dirty Sixth one night because we have a res at Midnight Cowboy and probably eat as many breakfast tacos as I can.

Since it's a Sunday night wedding I'll be gone until late Monday, so I'll probably be on a reduced blogging schedule next week. Feel free to follow me on Instagram to see what I'm up to.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Denim

Shirt (similar) - Loft / Vest - Old Navy / Jeans - Madewell / Scarf - Target / Flats - Steve Madden

 What's your favorite brand of jeans? I know that everyone has their own personal jean struggles, but mine are finding a pair that are long enough (I'm only 5'9" but I ideally wear a 35" inseam) and also that my hips and butt are on the smaller side. I heard good things about Madewell jeans, they're not supposed to stretch out and they do phenomenal things for your butt.

I ordered a pair online after going to the store to try them on (since they don't carry tall or taller sizes in stores) and they came in the mail over the weekend. So far I'm a little unsure as to whether I'll keep them or not. I've never had this problem before, but they seem a little too big in the knees and lower legs. However, they fit my waist and hips perfectly and do, in fact, do phenomenal things for my butt. We shall see, we shall see.

Linking up with Style SessionsFriday Fab Favorites and A Labour of Fashion.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The 2014 Budget

2014 was my first year of having any sort of budget and actually sticking to it for clothing. There were times in the past when I sort of budgeted, i.e., which I almost followed a shopping ban for a month in 2013, or when I would look at my bank account and decide on no more spending until the next payday. In 2014 I really went for it though, sticking to a budget of $300 a month. $300 a month may sound really high to you (like, if you're my dad for example, you laugh about it every chance you get), or really low, but it turned out to be a nice sweet spot for me. It kept me from going super crazy, as I used to work in the middle of downtown Chicago and would go shopping just about every day during my lunch break. It also left me enough wiggle room to toss in some bigger purchases now and then, like Hunter boots or a new winter coat.

The only thing I didn't like was that, in the interest of full disclosure, I put up everything I got, even if it was technically a present bought with Christmas or birthday cash. In 2015 I'm going to still share those items but not count them towards my budget for the month. I also haven't decided yet how I'll share items I purchase for my wedding, like a rehearsal dinner dress. I did not count the bachelorette party dress I bought in 2014 toward the budget, but I may count things like new shoes or dresses for other wedding events as long as they seem like things I'll wear again.

Here's the breakdown of what I spent each month in 2014:

January: $431.92
February: $263.22
March: $281.20
April: $270.70
May: $266.42
June: $256.12
July: $273.81
August: $289.18
September: $492.48
October: $56.49
November: $288.70
December: $145.74

Total Spent: $3,315.98
Average Monthly Spend: $276.33

While having a budget made me a lot more thoughtful about what I was buying, there were a few items that slipped through that I probably shouldn't have kept. My worst purchases of 2014 were:

Black skirt - Target - $22.99: This is something that I really liked in stores, but ultimately doesn't quite feel like me. I put it on a lot in my closet but it has only actually made it out of the house once or twice.
Gray Striped Tee - Loft - $8.25: I think I got really excited about striped tees in October, and then decided to pick this one up because it was such a good deal. But I bought it a little bigger than I needed it, figuring it would shrink. It shrunk all right, but only in length, not width, so now I have a very oddly shaped tee hanging in my closet that will never get worn again.
Green Pencil Skirt - JCrew Factory - $26.66: This was something I had on my wishlist for a long time, and then in reality never wore. Really, I don't think I ever wore this. It's partially because I wasn't working all summer and therefore didn't need to wear pencil skirts all that often, and partially because it turns out the color is really hard to pair with anything else. I'm going to leave this one in my closet though, in the hopes it will get some wear in the spring.
Bow Purse - TJ Maxx - $39.99: Another purchase that just turned out to not quite be my style. I had every intention of returning it, but in the end couldn't find the receipt.
Orange Heels - Sole Society - $29.98: This was something else I had on my wishlist for a long time, and then finally actually purchased because they went on sale. I actually still really like these but I think I only wore them once or twice, again, the color is just kind of hard to wear, and I wear flats most of the time.
Reebok Sneakers - DSW - $59.95: These should have been a good purchase. I bought them because I was in physical therapy and needed to stop wearing flats and sandals every day. While they are really comfy, my physical therapist rejected them for not being supportive enough and told me to go buy some "real shoes." Le sigh. I still wear them though because I'm a rule breaker.
Gray Colorblock Sweater - Loft - $35.70: I really loved this sweater even though it was a little itchy, but what started as an oversized tunic sweater quickly turned into a tiny baby sized sweater after a few washes. I didn't ever put it in the dryer, and the tag said I could wash it in the machine. Bad Loft, bad.

It was a lot harder to pick some of my favorite purchases, but here you go:

Gray Sweatshirt Tee - Loft - $19.75: Who knew that I could love a tee shirt so much? I pull this out literally every weekend to wear with leggings or jeans.
Arrow Bracelet - BaubleBar - $10: I couldn't link to a specific outfit to show this one, because I wear it all.the.time. My mom tells me every time that I wear it that she wants it (sorry mom, I'd buy it for you but it's sold out!) because arrows were a symbol of her sorority (she was in Pi Beta Phi) and even led to a random "meet cute" with some of her old sorority sisters.
Block Heels - Sole Society - $67.45: I'm not usually a heels type of girl (see worst purchases above) but these ones stole my heart. The block heel makes them so comfortable, and I loved the way these dress up a pair of jeans and a tee. I even ended up getting another pair in black to wear this fall.
Vest - Old Navy - $19.46: I thought this was going to be one of my worst purchases of the year, I was worried I would never wear it and therefore held off on buying it for a long time. Wrongo. I'm wearing it right now as I type this post, and wear it at least once a week. It's the perfect little layering piece.
Boyfriend Shorts - Gap - $36.56: How have I never owned boyfriend shorts before? These are the comfiest things ever, and I wore them just about every day over the summer.
Bandolino Riding Boots - DSW - $99.95: Who went back to the store and bought the exact same pair of boots after hers broke? This girl. And I've worn them just about every day since.
Patterned Skirt - JCrew Factory - $28.92: The trendiest item to make my favorites list, this is something I was worried wouldn't look good on me but ended up loving. It even made it onto the blog three times before I started worrying about overloading you guys - here, here, and here.
Watch - Kate Spade - $99: I wear this literally every day. So much so that it is starting to get a little grungy. How does one clean light colored leather?
Mark New York Coat - Nordstrom Rack - $138.99: This was by far my favorite purchase of 2014. I love the way it makes me feel: cool, chic, a little tough. You can see me in it here.

Whew. And that's the budget wrap-up for 2014. Sorry for the incredibly long post, turns out I had a lot to say on the subject! As for 2015? I think it'll be a little more of the same - $300/month. Will you be budgeting in 2015?

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

That Little Black Dress

Dress - Ann Taylor / Booties (similar) - BCBG / Necklace (similar) - BaubleBar

Dressing up for parties is always the hardest thing to do. You want to look dressed up, but not too dressed up. I think this dress is the perfect solution - the color and faux leather accents make it feel dressy, while the cut and pockets make it feel more casual. I ended up wearing it to a couple of holiday events this year, paired with heeled booties and a sparkly statement necklace when I wanted it to feel a little more dressed up, or with my fur vest and boots when I wanted to dress it down.

Just a little tip - when you're going all black and want to wear tights, go for sheer tights rather than opaque. It helps to break up the look a little and keep you from blending all together.

What is your go-to party look?

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Christmas Vacation

And I'm back!

My time off from the blog was so nice you guys. I mean, I missed you of course, but it was nice to just have some time to relax. And relax we did. Besides a very busy couple of days before and after Christmas, Jeff and I have been vegging like nobody's business. We didn't even manage to make it out for New Year's, and spent the night on the couch in our pj's instead. I finished a puzzle, worked on a lot of wedding stuff, and consumed much more wine than usual. Probably the most amusing thing we did though was go to an Into the Woods themed costume party with some of my neighborhood friends from home, where I was Rapunzel and my partner was "Prince Charming." I also got to check out The Dawson and Viaggio, went to see The Hobbit and Into the Woods, actually got Jeff to go shopping with me twice, started learning Italian via Duolingo for our honeymoon, and of course got my requisite cupcake fill.

I hope you had a great holiday season!

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