Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Finds

Happy Friday!!! I'm so happy to be healthy again, especially since I was sick for the past two weekends in a row! I mean, don't get me wrong, being a couch potato is second nature for me. It's just that fourteen straight days of couch potato-ing starts to get old, despite discovering old seasons of ANTM on Prime video and re-downloading The Sims (two past addictions ;). To celebrate, I have a million plans, including a party for some friends who are visiting and seeing Beautiful the musical. I can't wait to actually leave the house and be social!!

I got a chance to do quite a bit of online shopping over the past couple weeks and my wishlist is currently bursting at the seams - here are my finds for the week:

one / two / three / four / five

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Let's Go Somewhere

It always takes about three days into January before I start researching spring break trips - anyone else?? I actually love snow, but the negative temperatures in Chicago make it slightly less enjoyable. Jeff's busiest time of year is actually January through mid-February, which always reduces my spring break plans to just dreams, but hey, even thinking about a beach helps!

To help get me through the gloom, I started shopping for fun, warm-weather pieces. What can I say, they're just more fun than sweaters right now! So far I've only brought home this bag and these earrings, but I see some cute dresses on the horizon ;) A word to the wise: if you've got your eye on a fun bag, snap it up early! My favorite tote from last spring / summer sold out in just days, and I've missed out on bags in the past because I didn't move fast enough. In case you don't believe me, the bag I bought is already sold out in the color I bought! Don't worry, I found the navy here.

In case you have a warm weather vacation coming up, here are a few of my favorites available now:

I found so many things I wanted to share and couldn't fit them all into a collage - here are a few more things on my wishlist:

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How to Dress Down a Party Dress

Dress (no longer available in velvet but here it is in black crepe, the green and blue versions are currently 40% off!!) - CeCe / Sweater (similar) - Loft / Boots - Kaitlyn Pan / Earrings (similar metallic earrings, or budget option) - Charming Charlie / Watch - Wristology / Bag (similar) - Coach Factory

Tell me if you have this problem. 

You look in your closet and have nothing to wear, yet there's a whole section of "event dresses" that have only been worn once to a party or a wedding. 

Anyone else?

I've been trying to be better about the re-wear, but after a while I tend to get stuck - after all, now that we're out of the never-ending wedding funnel (the year we got married we had eleven to attend!!) there are fewer reasons to get dressed up. 

I bought this dress for the holidays and wore it for our photo shoot in Paris, but besides the one dressy holiday party we went to I didn't have another reason to wear it. So, it was time to dress it down! 

There are a couple of things you can do to easily dress down a fancy dress: 
  1. Choose casual accessories. For a formal occasion I would have picked a fancier bag, but with this casual cross-body and a fun watch this outfit veers towards daytime.
  2. Layer up! Look for ways to incorporate other pieces into your outfit, whether it's with a cozy cardigan, a tee shirt or turtleneck layered under your dress, or a casual jacket, adding another piece can tone down the formality of your dress. 
  3. Ditch the heels. By choosing OTK boots instead of heels here, I took the dress into fun territory, good for daytime or a fun night out with friends. Plus, they're so much warmer for these Chicago winter days! 
I've worn this combo out to a bar with friends, for running errands, and for a casual dinner date with Jeff, meaning I've gotten a ton more wear out of my fancy holiday dress than I thought I would! 

So tell me, would you dress down a fancy dress? Any tips I missed?

Dress (no longer available in velvet but here it is in black crepe, the green and blue versions are currently 40% off!!) - CeCe / Sweater (similar) - Loft / Boots - Kaitlyn Pan / Earrings (similar metallic earrings, or budget option) - Charming Charlie / Watch - Wristology / Bag (similar) - Coach Factory

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cozy Life

Howdy folks! Sorry for the radio silence yesterday, but I was sick all last week and all weekend and barely left the house, so there weren't any weekend adventures to share! Oh okay cool, didn't think you'd mind ;)

Between some really freezing temperatures and being sick, I've been in full-on hibernation mode for the past couple of weeks - anyone else?? I'm actually kind of loving it, partially because I'm always a fan of some good old-fashioned couch time, and partially because it's so nice to snuggle up, light a candle, and catch up on shows and reading when it's so cold outside. Some of my entertainment choices have been really good (Seriously, pick up The People In The Trees if you get a chance, and then follow it up with A Little Life if you can handle lots of tears. Semi-related: I saw Obama's favorite book list of 2017, and over half were my favorite reads of the year too. So we're basically best friends.), and others, not so good (ahem, my new Floribama Shore addiction), but you'd better bet they were all cozy AF.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Finds

one / two / three / four / five

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Two Drugstore Buys versus Designer Beauty

Which side is drugstore and which side is designer? Can you tell? 

So, I planned for this post two months ago. I mean, I took these photos on the same day as this post. But then the holidays got in the way, and I had so much content to share I never quite got around to these. Whoops!

In the past couple of years I've been slowly transitioning from using only drugstore products to a full-blown Sephora addict. I mean, I have VIB Rouge status. How the heck did that happen?!

I've been wondering if the higher-end products really work better, so when I saw advertisements for products trying to dupe two of favorite makeup items, I decided to put them against each-other in a head-to-head challenge.

First up? My incredibly expensive eyebrow pencil. I've only been using this Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Long Wear Brow Pencil in Taupe for about nine months now. It has an angled pencil on one end, and a spoolie brush at the other. The taupe color is slightly red, which helps to make my eyebrows blend a little better with my hair color. I put this head-to-head against the L'Oreal Brow Stylist Definer in Blonde. They actually don't make any colors with a hint of red in them, so I ignored my color preference in this comparison.

So first, the application. I found that the L'Oreal pencil went on darker (despite the fact that the color is blonde!) and waxier than the Bobbi Brown pencil, leading to a more defined brow. The spoolie on the L'Oreal pencil, however, is a bit shorter than the Bobbi Brown pencil, which I did not find to work as well when brushing out my brows.

I thought that the L'Oreal pencil was going to win the test, but then I kept using it for a week. In just that week, the pencil tip got completely smashed up and flattened, so my brows went from being sharp and defined to blah. Really, it became unusable. In comparison, the Bobbi Brown pencil hasn't dulled in nine months of use. Seriously. Bobbi Brown (and Sephora addiction), you win this round!

I'm wearing the Bobbi Brown eyebrow pencil and Too Faced mascara on the left, and the L'Oreal eyebrow pencil and mascara on the right

The second product I tested was my mascara. Expensive mascaras are tricky because I go through mascara so much more often than any other product. I've been using Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara for a couple of years now, and love how long and defined it makes my short and stumpy lashes look. I tested it against L'Oreal's Lash Paradise, which was obviously trying to dupe the Better Than Sex - I mean, look at that packaging! I compared two brand new packages here, since mascara can be different based on how much product is left in the tube.

So the first surprise when opening up the tube is how different the two wands are. I figured L'Oreal would try to copy the Too Faced wand, but no - the L'Oreal wand has shorter, even-length sparse bristles, while the Too Faced wand has denser bristles, and longer bristles at the ends than the middle. Going on, I found L'Oreal slightly clumpier, but it gave me a little more length than Too Faced, while Too Faced definitely gave me more volume as well as length.

To even the playing field, I tried both of these with and without my favorite lash primer, Urban Decay Subversion. Without the primer, both mascaras flaked, but with the primer they both stayed put. I always have a hard time removing the Too Faced mascara (I'm currently using this oil cleanser) but it was even worse with the L'Oreal - it did not want to budge!

Too Faced is on the left, L'Oreal is on the right

So what's the verdict here? I still like Too Faced Better Than Sex better than the L'Oreal Lash Paradise, but it was close. The Better Than Sex probably isn't worth the twelve dollar difference in price, especially if you're on a budget.

Not pictured: Me trying running out of time after doing this trial and trying to make my eyebrows match before heading to a party. Not my cutest look.

Are you more of a drugstore girl, or are you into higher end beauty products? Do you have any drugstore favorites I should try? Let me know!

P.S. My everyday makeup routine, and some of my favorite lip colors (including drugstore!)

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The 2017 Budget

Aaaaaaand it' time for my budget recap for 2017! For the past four years, I've set a monthly clothing budget for myself. In 2017 I gave myself $350 a month, but previously I've set a budget of $300. (Also, I definitely typed "$350 a week" instead of "a month" - ha! That would certainly be impressive.) I'm not super strict on myself when it comes to hitting that number each month though - if I go over one month, I'll try to shop less the next. My budget includes everything I wear except for undergarments, pajamas, and workout clothes, and usually includes bigger ticket items like shoes, coats, and special occasion dresses.

This year, I'm actually a little mad at myself because I definitely was looking for ways to sneak around my rules, like buying tons of sweatshirts that are technically pajamas / loungewear / workout clothes and then not counting them. Besides that though, I feel like I did pretty well.

Here's the breakdown on how much I spent per month:

January: $258.49
February: $479.78
March: $274.90
April: $125.50
May: $315.29
June: $357.42
July: $267.02
August: $301.04
September: $333.32
October: $361.00
November: $326.71
December: $269.30

Total Spent: $3,669.77
Average Monthly Spend: $305.81

Wow that looks like a whole lot of money when you add it all up! I'm under budget for the year though (and somehow only spent $250 more than last year despite giving myself a raise) so big ups to me.

Now is when I usually share my "misses" for the year, i.e., my terrible, terrible purchases. But really? I think there was truly just one! The striped tee I bought waaaaaay back in January was final sale and just not a perfect fit. But besides that, in looking through everything I bought this year, I really love all of the items I got this year. This whole budgeting thing has made me much more conscious of my purchasing, so while I haven't really slowed the amount of shopping I do, I've really stepped up the returns when things aren't perfect or don't quite work for my lifestyle.

I also had so many favorites I couldn't narrow it down, because like I said, I really loved all of my purchases this year! Here are a few that are still available (a lot on great sale!):

I said this in my top outfits of 2017 post, but I've realized while going through all of my outfits and everything I bought this year that spring and summer clothes really are my favorite. It might be the zero degree temperatures talking, but I cannot wait to bring out all of the color and dresses and crazy earrings again this year! I might need to take a beach vacation...

For 2018, I'm planning on sticking to the $350/month budget again, but am going to try to pull back on the number of extras outside of the budget I purchase. Because really, I don't need another pair of pajamas ;)

P.S. Check out my budget recaps from 2016, 2015, and 2014.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

How to Dress for a Chicago Winter

Coat (similar herehere, and here) - 1 Madison / Sweater - LOFT (a gift from Jeff's mom!) / Shirt - Old Navy / Leggings and Hat (similar) - J. Crew Factory / Socks and Boots - L.L.Bean / Bag - Tory Burch

Unless you're living in California or Miami, my guess is you've been experiencing some serious cold for the past couple of weeks. I grew up in the Chicago area and spent a lot of winters freezing. I remember walking to class in college and thinking my feet would fall off. 

But really, the reasons why I was so cold? I wasn't dressed appropriately!! I mean, I used to wear flats every day, spent a whole winter in high school in just a peacoat, and would regularly skip hats to keep my hair looking good. Helloooooo! 

Now that I've figured out what to wear, I don't even think it's really cold out unless it drops below twenty degrees, and I regularly find myself too warm when I'm out walking around. So what are my secrets?

It starts with the shoes. I spent a few years in Chicago without snow boots, and let me tell you, it was a mistake. I tried (fake) Ugg boots which were warm, but didn't work in snow, ice, or the giant slushy puddles that take over downtown in the winter. I love my Joan of Arctics for really snowy days, but they're a little too big and heavy for everyday wear. I picked up a pair of Bean boots this fall, and they have been serious game changers. I got the 8" sherling-lined pair (with the sherling insoles - omg so good), and they are freaking amazing. So warm and cozy, like Ugg boots, but waterproof and with great traction. They also aren't heavy and are easy to get on and off. I may or may not have worn another pair of shoes since Christmas.

To make your winter boots really work for you, you also need some cozy socks. I'm wearing camp socks here, but I've also been loving these wool socks from Bombas - I will actually do laundry more often to get these back in rotation. 

And then, obviously (or perhaps not so obviously for high school Kristina), you need a serious coat. Your wool coats might be pretty and functional when it's in the forties, but when the temps start to dip below freezing, a puffer is where it's at. And you don't need a crazy expensive coat to stay warm either. I've had this coat since 2011 and it's still serving me well. What's the trick for finding a good coat for less? Shop now! Winter coats tend to go on their best sales in January and February, since that's when stores start to clear out their inventories to make room for spring and summer inventory. I bought my coat in January and got it for over half off. This exact style is no longer available, but here, here, and here are similar versions. 

Finally, top things off with a warm hat that covers your ears. That's right, no cute berets or floppy wool hats. Grab yourself a warm beanie (faux fur pom-pom optional ;) and keep that heat in. 

Oh, and not pictured? The giant scarf I wrap around the outside of my hood when we drop down below zero. Not cute, but it does the trick! 

Coat (similar herehere, and here) - 1 Madison / Sweater - LOFT (a gift from Jeff's mom!) / Shirt - Old Navy / Leggings and Hat (similar) - J. Crew Factory / Socks and Boots - L.L.Bean / Bag - Tory Burch

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Monday, January 8, 2018

This Weekend...

This weekend I...

...had a little cold and spent a lot of time napping and watching terribly amazing television. Have you seen Floribama Shore? MTV was clearly trying to recreate the magic that was Jersey Shore, and while it isn't quite on the same level, it is still hysterically amazing, and one of the men even has gravity-defying hair.
...managed to make it out of the house for a Blackhawks game, which was the first one I've ever been to. I mean, I'm still not into hockey, but I am really into the food and the fact that the box we were in had a television with figure skating on it ;) Who else is ready for the Olympics?! Also, this.
...decided to give my bank account a breather after Paris and Christmas. I managed to leave a bunch of stuff in my Amazon cart, but couldn't say no to this bow-backed sweater. I mean, I'm not made of ice.
...cracked open Cravings for the first time (I got it as a Christmas gift) and let me tell you, Chrissy Teigan knows her stuff. Her take on cacio e pepe was freaking incredible.

I hope you had a good one!

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Friday Finds

Happy Friday, and brrrrrr!! It's been so cold this week, so I clearly had one thing on the brain. My sweatshirt drawer is currently exploding so I've been holding myself back from buying that pullover - I keep seeing it on Instagram and it looks so cozy!

one / two / three / four / five

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