Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Ah, Halloween. Quite possibly one of my favorite holidays of the year. This year's festivities were a bit tamer than those of years past, but only because my last four Halloweens were spent at OU, reigning champion of the Halloween Party.

Friday we went to a party at a friend's house. I made costumes for Matt and I...any guesses as to what we were?

Stan and Wendy from South Park! I love it. I found Matt's sweatshirt/pants at Volunteers of America for a dollar each, we bought the wig and I made his beret. For my costume, I already had the coat and jeans, so I just made the gloves and sewed some fabric over a beanie I had. (Making your own beanie? Really, really difficult to do by hand.)

Also on Friday, I got a little package in the mail. It was my giveaway win from Sydney of Take me for a Twirl!

She sent it with a sweet little note, complete with a sealed-with-a-kiss envelope and glitter in the card. How cute is that?

Saturday I grabbed lunch with my dad and brother, who were in town, and did some major work on my freelance stuff before heading in for a shift at the restaurant/bar. It turned out to be a great shift; not only was it Homecoming and Halloween weekend at OSU, but we pulled out an unbelievable victory, so all our guests were in great moods and therefore tipped really well. (Also, when that final winning touchdown pass was caught, a bunch of middle-aged men dogpiled on the floor. I'm not even kidding. I narrowly escaped being crushed. Hilarious.) It didn't hurt that we were packed until 2 am, either. As a result, I finally reached my goal of saving $1,000!!!

I'm not quitting just yet, though. That amount was the minimum I wanted to save; I'm going to try to get a little more cushion going before the holiday season hits, all the students leave campus and business plummets.

Sunday was just a lazy day; I napped a lot (didn't get to bed until 3 or 4 am all weekend!), relaxed and did a little work in the evening.

All in all? A great weekend :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fat kid dreams

Lately, I've been having these incredibly vivid dreams about food. Normally, my dreams are pretty nonsensical (earlier this month, I had a dream about a cat that had my brother's head on it). So to have relatively normal dreams about eating delicious foods (albeit in sometimes bizzarre circumstances) is kind of nice. And man, this food tastes good.

Last week, it was a decadent chocolate cake. A few nights ago, the best apple pie I've ever had in my life. Last night, an incredible root beer float. So weird. The downside? I wake up craving food that 1) has no right being eaten for breakfast and 2) is simply impossible to replicate in real life. That's how good these dreams are.

Didn't mean to get off on such a detailed tangent about food dreams. I woke up an hour ago. I'm starving.

blazer and shirt: thrifted
slacks: New York & Company
shoes: Franco Sarto via Marshall's
necklace: DIYed-ish
bracelet: Forever 21

Last night, in addition to getting groceries and doing some major work on my current freelance project, I finished Matt's Halloween costume. It looks horribly hand-made, but I figure, he's a boy dressing as a girl. How good can it really look?

For my costume, I just need to pick up some fake vomit and a nice bottle of whiskey. (Yes, the whiskey is an entirely necessary part of the costume. Hooray!) I can't wait to show you all photos! It's going to be awesome.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Boot love

Yesterday, Kendi discussed her possibly-unnatural love for her closet; a discussion sparked by her new boots. I can honestly say I know exactly what she means.

Sure, mine are $30 Target boots, while hers are a much-higher-quality Nine West pair. But you know something? I don't care. These boots are comfy and awesome and I love them. Pretty sure I'm going back to Target at some point to buy them in black, and cognac, and gray if they have them. Because they are that awesome. And for $30 or so a pop, I'll have four pairs of boots for the same price as Kendi's one. That, my friends, is what I call a win.

sweater: hand-me-down from friend
tank: Old Navy
scarf: Arden B
jeggings: Burlington Coat Factory
BOOTS!!: Target
rings: gifted and American Eagle

I think it's about time to retire this sweater. It's cropped, which I don't love, and there's a tiny stain on the front, which I artfully covered with the scarf. But it has stripes. And as we all know, I'm a complete sucker for stripes. I can't help it.

In other news, is anyone interested in that clothes swap I mentioned on Monday? With Joanne? We're discussing the possibility of returning clothes at the end, if you don't have anything you want to get rid of, and we'll definitely consider including you Canada-dwellers, since the shipping wouldn't be too terrible from the States. Let me know!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just a quick note...

Just popping in to let you all know about an awesome Shop It To Me giveaway on Facebook. SITM members will be messaged about this tomorrow, but as VM readers, you get to enter early! Woot!

Just click here to head over to their Facebook page and enter. The prize? Oh, no biggie...just a pair of Louboutins, an Marc by Marc Jacobs bag, a Michael Kors watch, a Kate Spade know, the kind of thing you probably already have. HA. My fingers are crossed for those shoes. True story: When I was in NYC, I literally pressed my nose up against the Christian Louboutin store window for a few mintues (they were closed). I may or may not have drooled a tad.

Weekend happenings

Tuesday isn't too late for a weekend recap, is it? I say nay. Even though I had quite the busy weekend, I still didn't get quite as much done as I had hoped. (Isn't that always the case?) But I did manage to run up to David's Bridal to buy a bridesmaid dress, stop by JoAnn Fabric and a Halloween store for costume supplies (hint: Matt and I are cross-dressing to go as a cartoon couple), get started on sewing said costumes (by hand! ugh) and work two full shifts at the restaurant/bar. In fact, I think I'll have to do an awkward/awesome post on Thursday just to detail some of the weekend. But anyway.

Matt and I also carved pumpkins! By far one of my favorite things about Halloween is carving pumpkins (and baking the delicious seeds...YUM). Can you guess which one I did?

Yeah, not too hard to guess on that one, haha. Matt went a bit metal with his. I love the effect he created by carving some thin lines, instead of actual cutouts. And the 3D horns are pretty cool too! I still think mine is fun, though.

I also got the curtain tutorial started. Just have to find a spare minute to edit those photos...sigh. Anyway, I've some outfit photos too! Because you know, I couldn't go two full days posting non-style things :)

chambray shirt: Banana Republic
tank: Old Navy
black jeggings: The Limited
belt: thrifted
shoes: Payless
trench: Esprit via Burlington Coat Factory

Clearly, I still refuse to listen to the "keep the light behind the camera" rule. When will I learn? Also, can we call these pants cigarette pants? Because I really want to. Just sounds cooler, amiright?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Recipe: Tomato Tortellini Soup

Before I get into today's actual post, a quick question: Would any of my bloggy friends out there be interested in doing a clothes swap? Joanne of Fabulously Average mentioned it on Twitter on Friday, and I thought it sounded like fun. Leave a comment or just email me if you think you'd be interested!

Now. On to the main event. It's been a looooong time since I posted a recipe, and I friend of mine recently mentioned on Twitter that she was missing a certain soup from our alma mater, so I decided to give it a whirl. Here's my attempt at recreating the creamy tomato tortellini soup that the student center at OU sometimes served!

(Note that since I kind of just made this up as I went along, not all the measurements are precise. I tried. I promise.)
- about half (maybe a little more) of a 20 oz bag of frozen tortellini
- 14 oz can of chicken stock or broth
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 1 bay leaf
- about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup milk (for a thicker soup, use heavy cream instead)
- dash each of onion powder, garlic powder, pepper and basil
- fresh basil and shredded mozzarella for garnish (optional)

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. While that's heating, set another medium pot over medium-high heat and add the chicken broth, tomato juice and bay leaf, bringing it to a low simmer. Once your pot of water hits a hard boil, add the tortellini and cook according to package directions. Drain when done and set aside.

After the broth/juice mixture has simmered for a few minutes (again, no exact science here), add the Parmesan and milk (or cream). Return to a low simmer and add the dried seasonings. Simmer for a few minutes more, then add the tortellini back in and simmer until the pasta is heated through.

Spoon into two bowls and top with the mozzarella and basil. Serve with French bread or enjoy all by itself!

So what do you think, OU folks? Pretty close to the student union's version? Something missing? Let me know! And don't forget to contact me Joanne if you're interested in the clothes swap :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: Buy vs DIY?

Ah-ha! I told you Fiscal Fridays wouldn't disappear. Bam. Here's a post.

That was a bit aggressive. My apologies. I'm a little on edge/nervous today, and for some reason, I decided to drink coffee. Which I have been cutting WAY back on. So I'm a bit overzealous at the moment. It happens.

Anyway, today I'm discussing the age-old money-saving question: Should I buy (fill in the blank), or make it myself? In some cases, the answer is clear. It's far cheaper to make your own wall art, for example, than it is to buy something at a store. But what about something bigger, like curtains?

The double panel at the front of the house. Ignore me in my PJs, please.

Single panel at the side of the house. These were taken with my phone so they're not that good. Don't judge.

Like a total newbie, I just assumed that it would be cheaper to make my own lined curtains. After all, for three panels of lined blackout curtains at a store like Macy's or JCPenney, I would have paid anywhere from $75 to $150 or more! No thank you. So like a fool, I just hopped over to JoAnn Fabric with about $80 cash and my grandma in tow.

The lining fabric was on sale for just $6.99 a yard. Not bad! But then we calculated that I'd need 12 yards to make curtains for the living room, bedroom and kitchen. That's $84 right there. Fortunately, my sweet grandma had the foresight to bring along a 50% off coupon, so it knocked the price down substantially. Still, it was half of the money I had brought to curtain my entire house.

Next, we hit up the fabric. I decided on a plain cream color. Initially, I was going to paint stripes on it, but I've since decided buy some sheer fabric to drape over the existing curtain. It won't risk damaging the fabric like paint would, and it can be easily changed if when I decide to redecorate.

So we bought seven and a half yards of the cream colored fabric for the curtain itself. At another $6.99 a yard, that came out to $52.43. Again, it was Grandma to the rescue with a 15% off purchase coupon (that only applied to this fabric, since the liner already had a coupon on it).

So the grand total?

- 12 yards of liner at $6.99/yard with a 50% off coupon: $41.94
- 7.5 yards of curtain fabric with a 15% off coupon: $44.57
- total after tax: $92.78

So yes, I could very well have purchased panels for the same price. But. This way, I have the added benefit of knowing that I got exactly what I wanted, because I made it. And I got to practice sewing. And to be honest, the quality is far about what I could have gotten for $30 a panel at the store, even if it was a nicer brand that was on sale. These curtains are THICK, and heavy, and they block out 100% of the light. They'll probably help keep the cold air out in the winter, too.

In conclusion? Each case is gonna be different. But make sure you research everything (and I do mean everything) about your DIY project before you just delve in like I did. You might be surprised at what you find out.

Tutorial for how I made the curtains coming soon. I promise.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Take two

You ever take outfit photos and love the clothes, but hate the way the photos turn out? So you decide to re-wear that outfit again at some point, to reshoot the photos? That happened over the summer for me with this outfit. Only I never really got around to reshooting the outfit, so I had to modify it a week or two ago when the temps were in the upper 70s, not the upper 90s. But I still like the overall look and, let's face it, I'll probably rewear the original outfit come spring or summer anyway.

shirt: Old Navy
vest: New York & Company
khakis and shoes: Target
necklace: The Limited

Except, these photos didn't really turn out so well either. That fence behind me is on the south side of the yard, and while I really want to get it in some of the photos (because fences are cool), the south side of the yard always has the most sun in it always winds up giving me some crazy glare. Bummer.

In other news, I have Saturday off! And nowhere to be! So I'm going to get some to-do list items checked off. Like getting my bridesmaid dress for my friend Tiffany's wedding next year (yay!!), doing some freelance work and finally getting around to that dang curtain tutorial I keep promising. Hooray for a smidgen of free time!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Scarlet and Gray

You may have noticed a new button in my affiliates section...on the right sidebar...or maybe not. Either way, there's a new button there. It's for Shop It To Me, a sweet site that recently invited me to join its Trendsetters program! Hooray!

To put it briefly, you just join the site, tell it what brands you like, then sign up for a certain email frequency. It can be daily, or just once a week, or somewhere in between. The emails contain sale items from your favorite brands. The site describes itself as being kind of like your own personal shopper, and I have to admit, it's a pretty good description. Kind of makes me wish I had more money for non-thrifted clothes ;)

So if you're not a member, you can click the link in the top paragraph there to sign up. Disclaimer: I'm an affiliate, so I do get perks if you sign up by clicking there. But I can say with all honesty (because you all know I'm not a sell out, I tell it like it is) that it's a pretty sweet service. I customized mine to only send me emails with items under $100.

Anyway, enough blah-blah-blah-ing. Here are some pictures!

cardi and shoes: thrifted
cami: Old Navy
skirt: The Limited
belt: Target
necklace: Forever 21

I was going to link this to Jill's Work It Wednesday post, but I realized that I tend to wear this skirt the same way every time. Black or nude pumps with neutral, layered, tucked-in tops and a long necklace. I need to mix it up a bit!

A little inspiration for this tucked-in cardi, however, goes to Whitney and her Emma-Pilsbury-inspired wardrobe. This is a bit too radical for Jayma Mays' character on Glee (bright red?!) but it's the same concept, I think.

The final inspiration came from my beloved football team, the OSU Buckeyes. Yes, we're having a terrible season. Yes, we all miss Tressel terribly. (And I miss his fashion. What other football coach looked so great on the field? Sweatervests forever!) But we'll get through this season, folks. I promise!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Date night oufit

Remember when I mentioned Matt's and my date night at Shadowbox Live recently? Well here's that outfit :) And the bonus? I wore it to work the next day with slacks and heels instead of jeans and flats. Didn't take photos of that, but how's that for double duty? Not bad, I say.

blazer and shirt: thrifted
jeggings: Burlington Coat Factory
shoes: Payless
necklace: The Limitedjk, it's really from Forever 21...oops!

(Please ignore my squinty face and the out-of-focus photos. Very bright sun + being rushed = poor photo quality. Who knew?)

I love getting dressed for date nights. Matt and I are at that point in our relationship—three and a half years this month, in fact—where sweatpants are just easier to wear and neither person really cares if the other is put together or not. So when we get a chance to dress up a little and get fancy, it's a nice change of pace.

Speaking of half-anniversaries, this month (the beginning of this month, actually) marks the six month anniversary of this blog! I'm actually a little surprised at myself. I'm not one for long attention spans—that's an understatement, I have the attention span of a five year old. Or a goldfish. Anyway, I'm quite pleased that I have made this far without being bored with the blog at all. Here's to another six (or twelve, or more)!

Update: Just linked to Spunky Chateau's Thursdays are for Thrifters! Lots of great finds up there this week...check it out if you have time :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Well, you snooze you lose.

Ah, have truer words ever been spoken? I should have gone ahead and bought the Target buy-one-get-one-half-off boots I really wanted when I first blogged about them. But instead I hemmed and hawed (what a silly phrase, but I kind of like it, haha) and as a result, I am ultimately disappointed.

I wanted the Kailey faux-leather boots in black and cognac. But when I went to add them to my cart, the 50% discount didn't apply, because they both had been put on sale for a measly $5 off! So disappointed. But, not to be outwitted by a stupid sale, I bought the Kailey boots in dark brown:

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

...and leopard print flats! Which were only $6! Yayyyyyy!

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

I figure, the other boots I wanted are on sale for $30 now. I allow myself to spend $30 a week. And I try to save at least $100 a week from my waitressing job. I'm working Saturday night and Sunday during one of the NFL games. Maybe the stars will align, I'll make a little extra cash, and I can be a brat and get the other pairs I want. Or at least the black ones, because my faux-suede black ones are falling apart. Sadface.

You'll notice there's no real Fiscal Fridays post today. I've decided to make it an occasional thing, maybe a couple times a month, instead of every week. As always, if there's a question you want answered or a topic you think I should cover, email me at verbal{dot}melange{at}gmail{dot}com.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Le sigh

It appears that I can no longer wear black pants. Spaz is mostly white, and apparently she sheds like there's no tomorrow. So these black slacks I'm wearing today? Covered in white hair. Lovely.

Here's the outfit I wore to my parents' anniversary party/vow renewal. It's the eShakti dress I reviewed at the end of September. Usually I wouldn't post a repeat outfit, but I wanted y'all to see how I figured out the straps-are-too-long situation. My original plan was to cut and resew them, but my grandma convinced me to just cut them, since the material is a jersey knit that doesn't fray. And she was absolutely right...I love the way this looks!

dress: c/o eShakti
shoes: Buckle
necklace: gift from Matt

Please ignore the sweaty hair and the apparent water stain on the front of the dress that I just this second noticed. I was helping my family tear down the reception site; someone else had rented the room right after us and we had to hustle out of there.

Oh, and speaking of my grandma, last night she helped me finish making the curtains for my bedroom! I took plenty of photos, so I'm going to spend the weekend working on a tutorial (among other time-consuming projects, and work of course...ugh). I'm hoping to have a post up sometime next week!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Everybody, Everywear: DIY

I almost forgot about this month's EBEW! Well, I did forget about it until I was getting dressed this morning, at which point I hastily grabbed this dress I made a few months ago. It's one of those convertible/infinity dresses, with the five-foot-long straps that can be twisted to form almost any dress style imaginable. Only...well, it didn't turn out as well as I had hoped.

The waistband is a complete disaster. The straps aren't sewed quite right. And the skirt is longer in the back than in the front. But it's a first attempt, and if you wrap it a certain way (i.e., this way) you can hardly tell. Bonus? This wrap style is office-appropriate.

For a first sewing challenge (first since I was about 15, anyway), this actually isn't too bad. But I won't be posting a tutorial until I make my second attempt. With stretchier fabric, better measurements and, hopefully, a few lessons learned from the last go-around.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekend recap

Do you ever come away from the weekend feeling like it was longer than just two days, because you simply did so much in that short time span? That's how my weekend was. Hard to believe it's Monday!

This is the last of those yuck-o indoor shots from when it was constantly raining a week and a half ago. And though it's supposed to rain the latter half of this week as well, I've definitely got a couple nice outdoor shots from this past week and weekend, when it was in the upper 70s/lower 80s. Loving this Indian summer!

top and slacks: thrifted
shoes: Target
necklace: H&M?
bracelet: Forever 21

The shots from this outfit didn't turn out so well, to be honest, and I only found one that I really liked. Had to cut my face out of the other one because it was just plain weird and I didn't want to scare you all off. The cat probably did something goofy right as the photo was snapping. I make weird faces at her a lot.

So anyway, this weekend. I wound up getting cut from work on Friday before I could even take a table, because we were so slow. It was kind of a bummer that I didn't make any money at all, but I got to go home early and hang out with Matt, who had been gone since Tuesday on business. So it was definitely worth it!

Saturday I cleaned the whole house (!), did some work for my freelance job, then went over to have dinner with Matt's family. Four of the grandkids on his dad's side have October birthdays, including Matt's sister, so we did a kind of quadruple birthday celebrating. I love his family :)

Then we went to a friend's house for a football party (Go Bucks!). I had to leave to pick up two of my siblings from a band competition in Westerville, but I took them back to the party in time to watch our team lose miserably. It's been a rough season for us, unfortunately.

Sunday morning, at the crack of dawn, my siblings and Matt and I all headed up to my parents' house for their 25th wedding anniversary celebration and vow renewals. It was a really sweet renewal ceremony; all my siblings and I stood up at the altar with my parents. My dad got all choked up during his portion of the vows, and most of us kids were in tears. Even the 8-year-old. It was so precious. All I could think was how lucky my parents are, to have found their soulmates and spent 25 years together in a truly happy marriage, and how I could only hope to be that lucky someday too.

Then my extended family all met up for the reception. It was really great to see my cousins and grandmas too. Like Thanksgiving, only without the turkey :)

Then back to Columbus for Matt and I. We both had to do more work Sunday night, sadly. But it was such a productive and eventful weekend, I was just glad that I could fall into bed at an insanely early hour, haha!

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: An FD update

Well, I've been on the Financial Diet for about three months now. And I've done really well. I did bump my "petty cash" fund up from $40 to $60 a week. I was going over on $40 almost every single week, even when I was really making my maximum effort to stay within that range. And $60 a week is no cakewalk, either. I blow through it faster than I would like. But I'm making it work.

I'm still living paycheck to paycheck with the money I make from my 9-5 and freelancing. (By the time I pay the rest of my bills due during this pay period, I'll have $10 left. That really sucks. But between the start of September and last weekend, I managed to save $600 from my waitressing job and selling a few things on Craigslist. That's more than halfway to my minimum goal—the amount I'll need to fix my car's clutch when it goes. It's been a crappy six weeks, to be sure. I've lost most of my weekends (with the exception of Stephanie's wedding and this Saturday, my parents' vow renewal ceremony), and I've missed out on some social events that I would have liked to attend (like my close friend's birthday party—sorry Allory).

And I'll admit it. Sometimes—when I'm cleaning out the lady-product trash cans in the bathroom or breaking up juicehead fights or mopping up the by-product of too much alcohol or apologizing way too much for forgetting a customer's third Cherry Coke—I get frustrated. I wonder how I wound up back in a crap job after working so hard to put myself through college. I rage on the inside when I think about the fact that I'm making roughly $3 an hour, plus whatever meager tips the broke college kids decide to give me, to bust my @$$ like a crazy woman.

And then I remember that I only work the crap job two days a week. That I actually love what I do for a real living. That it won't always be this way, because I'm taking control of my life now. There's a quote in the Dave Ramsey book I'm reading; it's printed at the bottom of every page. If you can live like no one else, later you can live like no one else. It means that if you're willing to make sacrifices now, you can later live the life you've always wanted. And true, maybe I'll never be the hand in the photo above, holding a giant stack of $100 bills (and thank God, because that's definitely a hairy man hand). But I'm taking the initiative now to make sure my life will be better in the future.

And that makes everything else so much easier.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bloggers Do It Better: Animal Print

This one is debatable...the fact that I "do it better," that is. This outfit seems pretty plain Jane to me. Which, I suppose, is an accomplishment; how many other people can make animal print boring? Probably not many. A dubious distinction.

shirt: Forever 21
cami and shoes: Target
slacks: New York & Company
necklace: gift from Matt

The truth is, this was my fourth backup. I'm a bit of a procrastinator, you see. (Understatement of the year.) My first choice was this leopard print shoe from Target. I've been wanting leopard flats for AGES, but I hate buying shoes online (my right foot is slightly larger than my left, so I fluctuate from a 9 to 9.5 to 10, depending on which foot is more comfortable) and these shoes are online only, so no dice. Sad, though...they're kind of perfect.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Then I wanted to get a leopard tunic from F21 after Sydney told me they had some great choices. But it's sold out, so I can't even show you a photo because F21 is lame like that.

So on to the third choice...this really cute zebra-ish top. I kind of love it. But alas, it is another of the "we have it online but not in the actual store sucks to be you" category.

Oh, well. I will probably end up getting all three of these eventually...they're affordable, and I like them enough to pay full price, and I doubt thrift stores are carrying much (stylish) animal print these days anyway.

And on the up side? Spazzy loves this shirt. She has her face buried in my stomach as I type. Call it animal attraction? (Har har)

Bloggers Do It Better

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Das boot!

I'll admit, I'm not usually a fan of fall. Here in the midwest, it's chilly and often dreary and quickly disappears into bitter winters. But there's one thing I do like about the season...


I'm in desperate need of some new old flat boots are pulling apart at the seams. So here are some Target boots I pinned that I'm definitely lusting after. Did I mention Target is having an online-only BOGO sale on shoes and bags. All these boots? Yeah, they're buy one, get one half off. This is dangerous.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

The ever-important neutral gray pair.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

The just-about-perfect black pair.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

The classy brown pair.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

The casual black pair...though I'm not too sure about the toe on these.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

The simple dark brown pair.

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

The I-already-showed-these-in-black pair.

I might just cave and get two of these...they're all around $30, and getting two pairs of cute boots for $45 is just too good of an opportunity to pass up. What items (boot or otherwise) are you pining after for fall?