Friday, November 30, 2012

Outfit win.



dress, necklace: The Limited
blazer, wedges, belt, tights: Target

This outfit features several of the items I bought during my previously mentioned shopping spree. The dress, the tights and the shoes are all new, and let me tell how much I am loving these shoes: A LOT. Seriously, they're my new favorites. They're closed, so I can wear socks and keep my feet warm. They add height, so they give me the appearance of being classy. And they're wedges, so I can actually walk in them without wobbling. Ladies and gentlemen, it's the trifecta.

The dress is pretty great, too. This photo is of an outfit I wore to work; I wore almost the exact same thing to Thanksgiving festivities. (The Thanksgiving version featured black tights and no blazer or belt...gotta love Indian summer days!) Anyway, I got a lot of compliments on this dress from my family. And the best part? I bought it on clearance, when The Limited was having a 40% off storewide sale, so it only cost me $20. Ultimate win.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Achievement earned!






shirt, skirt: thrifted
boots: Target
necklace: gifted

Yes, I just pretty much compared my life to a video game. And I'll explain. But first, a few things about these photos:
- They are crazy old. Hence the bare legs. And the reddish, not-yet-re-dyed hair.
- My friend Chasity shot these, only we used my camera instead of hers. So while the pics are still better than my self-shot images, my camera can't compare to the awesomeness that is hers. See for yourself, here and here.
- I apparently can't resist getting "the butt shot" in pencil skirts. Proof.

But as for this achievement. Yesterday, as you may or may not know, was Cyber Monday. Basically a more humane version of Black Friday, in which we can get all the deals from the comfort of our couches, without waiting for hours in line, freezing our butts off, missing Thanksgiving or, you know,getting trampled half to death. Anyway, I decided to do all of my Christmas shopping last night. I already had my entire list ready to go, thanks to Pinterest-secret-board method, so I grabbed my credit card and my laptop and got to it. Two hours, $300 and 15 transactions later, I entered my card number for my second-to-last purchase. And it didn't work. I retyped it and tried it on a different site. Still no dice. That's right, I used my credit card to death. Had to put the rest on my debit. ULTIMATE SHOPPING WIN!

For any of you who follow my Fiscal Fridays and the whole path-to-being-debt-free thing I'm doing (hi Dad!), don't worry. I only charged the gifts out of convenience; I'm paying the whole thing off (every cent of every purchase!) when I get paid on Friday. Savvy shopper right here! Except for the whole credit-card-being-declined-from-overuse thing. That's not so savvy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fiscal Friday: Holiday shopping

So today is Black Friday. For you lucky few who aren't familiar with the concept, it's a practice in which bargain-hungry Americans decide to wait in line for hours to buy crap at huge discounts. (Canadian friends: Do you all go out and beat each other silly for half off sweaters and $100 off TVs the day after you give thanks for everything you already have?) Having worked a few Black Friday shifts at a major electronics store back in college, I pretty much loathe the concept. But I won't get into how much I'm disgusted by the rampant commercialism and willingness to give up a great holiday in order to wait in line for 12 hours for a sale here.

No, I'm spending my Black Friday watching movies with Matt and basically digesting from the two enormous feasts we had yesterday with our families. But I can't help but starting to think about my holiday shopping; after all, now that Thanksgiving is over, it's completely seasonally appropriate to start tackling my gifts list.

This year, I'm using a new method for buying presents while staying in budget. And it involves a really cool new Pinterest feature: secret boards.


I'd like to take this moment to disclaimer that this post is not sponsored or in any other way endorsed by Pinterst. It's just something cool that I decided to do and thought to share :)

So anyway, I realized I could make a secret board to organize, tag and price my entire gift list. And I'm the only person who can see it; the pins don't appear anywhere on my profile, but I can see them any time I want. So I just shopped online for everyone, pinned everything I thought might work, and tagged the pin with a name and a price. If you're new to the pinning scene, adding a price to a pin actually displays the price over the image, like so:


Images blacked out so no one guesses what I'm getting them :)

So anyway, as I narrow down my options for each person, I'll have a pretty clear idea of exactly how much I'm spending...and when I'm ready to buy everything, I can just click through the links and have everything delivered to the house. Easiest. Holiday. Shopping. Ever.

Do you have any tricks for not overspending during your holiday shopping?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm thankful...

Today I'm spending the entire day cooking and consuming Thanksgiving delights. Matt and I are heading to my aunt's house for Thanksgiving lunch with my family, then to his parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner with his. And as I spend my morning baking and my afternoon/evening stuffing my face and slowly slipping into the kind of food coma that can only be brought on by ungodly amounts of turkey and mashed potatoes and pie, I'll be thinking of all the things I'm thankful for. Like...

My family (and Matt's).
I love them all to death, and I'm so blessed to have so many people to care about and who care about me. As I grow older, I realize just how rare it is to have parents who are still married (and in love), and how lucky Matt and I both are to have it. I also realize that families are not always as close as mine is, and the fact that all seven of my siblings and my parents and I are closer than ever is something that I hope I never, ever take for granted.

My friends.
I have some of the best true-blue friends a girl could ever ask for. We don't always talk every day, thanks to distance or busy schedules, but when we do we're able to pick up right where we left off like no time has passed at all. Whether we're drinking wine and watching New Girl, playing with puppies at the pet store, raging at the club or catching up over dinner at a semi-lame chain restaurant, my friends can always make me smile and they're always there for me.

My job.
Let's face it. The recession may be "over," but the economy still isn't doing so hot. This time last year, I was working three jobs to make ends meet. This year, I'm working one and picking up freelance work when I feel like it, as a favor to my editors and not out of a dire need for the extra cash. I'm thankful that I enjoy what I do, and that I've found something that is both stimulating enough and secure enough that I can see myself here for years to come.

My health.
Ok, so I'm not exactly the picture of perfect mental or physical health. I'm out of shape, my immune system is terrible and I still struggle with depression from time to time. But overall, it's nothing that I can't deal with. I am basically healthy most of the time, which is more than many people can say. And even when things get bad--and sometimes they do get really, really bad--I always know that it will pass and I'll be fine in a few days or weeks.

This blog.
Through it, I've discovered my own personal sense of style (and many more things about myself besides). I've also made so many new friends who I never would have met otherwise. I know I won't have the blog forever, the connections I've made through the blogging community will far outlast my outfit photos and other random blabbing.

In the four and a half years that we've been together, he's taught me that even the best relationships are not always easy, that life gets in the way, and it makes things hard. But through all that, he's also taught me when the other person is really worth it, the two of you find a way to make it work, no matter what. He is my rock and my best friend. He's the only person who I can sit in comfortable silence without feeling awkward, who sees me as I truly am, who I don't have to be socially acceptable around, who knows me better than I know myself. Life is an adventure and we're tackling it together.

Because things were starting to get a little sappy. Also, cheese might just be one of the the best things ever.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Shopping spree!


sweater, slacks: thrifted
short-sleeve oxford: New York & Company
shoes: Target
necklace: Forever 21

This weekend, I did a little shopping. Mostly because I was bored and felt like I needed to get out of the house, but also because I hadn't spend any of the money I'd budgeted for clothing on my last two paychecks, so I had a pretty sizable amount just kind of sitting there, asking me to turn it into new clothes.

I also have a pretty sizable list of "winter wants," which is the name I just now made up for my fall/winter wardrobe shopping list. At the top of that list was cute booties, sweater dresses, more tights (you can never have enough colored/patterned tights!) and big, comfy sweaters. I got almost all of the above, though I'm still on the hunt for the perfect cozy sweater. I hit up Forever 21, H&M, the Limited and Target, though I spent more time in Target's shoe and hosiery department than its clothing section. I want to try to search JCPenney with my next paycheck's clothing budget before I turn to the wide world of online shopping. Any other suggestions?

(By the way...these pics aren't of the new clothes. I have a few older shoots to post before I get to the ones I wore today, haha.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Don't judge!



sweater, skirt: thrifted
tank top: Old Navy
boots, tights, socks: Target
necklace: InPink

I can't believe I've never said this before, but please don't judge the occupants of my house by the contents of our backyard. I promise, we're not hillbillies or white trash. We just happen to be four grown-ass adults...who enjoy hanging out in kiddie pools during the summer and can't be bothered to put them in the garage in the winter. Totes normal.

Anyway, enjoy these outdoor pics while you can. Last winter, I could sometimes get before-work shots outside if it wasn't too cold. This year, I leave for work much earlier (and I'm not willing to get up half an hour earlier than I already do!) but by the time I get home, it's already dark. Sooo...indoor photos will be the theme for this winter. Unfortunately.

In other words, this sweater might just be my New Favorite Thing. It's so comfy. And warm. And pretty. Swoon...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

EBEW and another guest photo shoot

This photo shoot with my friend Chasity was taken at the park down at the end of our street. I know, I know. The scenery is gorgeous and it's a sin that I don't take photos here more often. But it was awkward enough being in a park full of people, letting my friend take snap pics like a crazy person (or maybe I was the crazy person). It would be even weirder for me to be taking pics of myself with a tripod in a park full of people. Still haven't quite worked up that nerve.

Anyway, there were so many great shots that I couldn't stick to my usual three or four shots. So here's a bunch, and if you want some more (including the outtakes and other tomfoolery like the second-to-last shot here), you can find them on my Facebook page. Because nothing says "modest" like an entire album of pictures of yourself, right?







sweater: thrifted
cami: Old Navy
jeans, boots: Target
necklace: Tiffany & Co

Boots | Everybody, Everywear

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pin-spiration Monday: Desserts!

So as some of you may or may not know, I'm not much of a baker. It requires precise measuring, which I never bother with, and it just takes too damn long. If I want to make cookies, I want them in like five minutes. Not 40. But our annual Friends Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) potluck party was this past weekend, and I felt like being adventurous. So I signed Matt and I both up for desserts, and told him not to worry about making anything because I'm just that awesome. (Ok, so maybe I didn't say it quite like that, but you get the picture.)

Anyway, I scoured Pinterest for about an hour (that is not a joke), looking for recipes and narrowing them down. And this is what I came up with (click the Pins to get the actual recipes):

That sweet deliciousness you see before you is a cinnamon apple braid. It looked kind of complex, but the blogger swore it was super easy, so I thought I'd give it a shot. (I had a little snafu as I was making the dough...apparently, when the blogger over at Eat Live Run said to "mix the dough using an electric mixer on medium high speed," she must have forgotten to finish the sentence with "using a dough hook." Because I'll tell you, using a regular pair of eggbeater attachments did. not. cut it. The dough — which is fairly like bread dough — actually climbed up the mixer attachment and into the machine itself. Which was kind of like watching something out of a horror movie. So after a lot of yelling and Matt having to dump flour all over my hands and the mixer so I could continue, I somehow managed to produce this:


Sweet baby cheebus, that is hands down the most beautiful-looking baked good I've ever made. Usually my stuff tastes ok, but it's not very pretty. Because of the whole "I don't need to measure" thing. But this...this had me so excited, I had to take a picture before I baked it. And it looked even better after I took it out of the oven and glazed it:


My mouth is seriously watering. Luckily, I made two and there were leftovers (a lot of people brought a lot of food...and not many people made it all the way to dessert, haha), so I've been munching on this stuff for breakfast, after lunch and as a before-bed snack. An apple a day, right?

I also attempted to make mini-muffins using this recipe for snickerdoodle muffins:

They tasted pretty good, but didn't really look like the photo. I think that maybe because I made small versions, I should have changed the baking temperature and/or length from the original recipe. Ah, well. They're really good bite-sized snacks. In fact, while I was editing these photos, I was pretty much compelled to run to the kitchen and pop one (yay leftoevers!) in my mouth before settling in to do the post part of this post. Yummm.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

My life is, apparently, still Thursday.

You know, it's kind of strange. When I'm going through something that is still highly stigmatized in our society and that most people are embarrassed to talk about (i.e., my issues with depression), I have no problem discussing it here on the blog. But when I'm going through some serious life shit, like I am right now, I just can't bring myself to be transparent.

I want to change that.

Now, for obvious reasons, I'm not going to go into hyper-detail in a public forum. The big things in my life rarely affect only me, and I want to protect those who don't get a say in what I write here. So without really elaborating, suffice to say that I am going through some Serious Life Shit. (I feel like it deserves title caps. That's how important it is.) This is stuff that requires some real soul-searching and contemplation.

I don't like those things.

The fact is, I'd prefer to live in the bubble in my head, the one that tells me that I should just leave everything alone and it'll work itself out. But life doesn't work like that. Life requires me to examine, and consider, and decide. And then I get too wrapped up in my head, and I want to just say, "Screw this, I'm done with all of it." But the fact is, it's still Thursday, and I still need it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm gonna try to force myself to do some real soul-searching over the next few months. I might even make a major life change. (If you know me at all, you know this is a terrifying concept to me. Seriously, it's the flat-out scariest thing I can think of.) Or who knows, maybe I'll decide, through my soul-searching, that a major change isn't necessary. Maybe I'll decide that working through a problem is better than making it go away as fast as possible.

Sorry for being so cryptic today. Sometimes, you just have to get some junk off your chest.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day!



long-sleeve t-shirt: old, don't remember
cami: Old Navy
cropped pants: New York & Company
heels: Target
necklace: Figleaf boutique
hair flower: H&M

So if you live States-side (and maybe even if you don't), you know that today is Election Day. I voted last week...early voting being one of the few conveniences of living in a swing state. I'm not too sure whether the convenience outweighs the incessant and annoying political ads that have been bombarding my shows and appearing on every billboard everywhere, but oh well. I'll take what I can get, I suppose?

In other news, I'm really, REALLY looking forward to a long weekend this weekend. It'll be nice to get the chance to clean my house, finish up a freelance project and still have time to chill. Plus, it's supposed to hit the low 60s this weekend...that's practically summer this time of year!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Food Friday: Mac and cheese soup

It's no secret that I have a long-standing and intense love affair with mac and cheese. Baked, creamy, from-a-box or made from long as it has noodles and cheese, I'm in. So when I saw this recipe for mac and cheese soup in Cuisine at Home magazine, I knew I had to put my own spin on it. Blue cheese and some other unusual flavorings give this soup an unexpected kick, so it's far from your average bowl of mac.


- 1 /12 cups dry macaroni (for this, I used some spiral-shaped cavatappi instead)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or cooking sherry
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 4 cups shredded Cheddar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt
- 1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
- 2 tbsp minced fresh chives

Start by cooking your tubular pasta of choice in a pot of salted water according to package directions. When it's ready, drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then stir in flour and cook (stirring constantly) for about one minute to make a roux. Pour in the wine/sherry to deglaze and simmer until the wine is nearly evaporated.

Stir in the chicken broth, nutmeg and cayenne. Simmer until it thickens a little (about five minutes or so), then whisk in the milk and let it slowly warm up. Whatever you do, don't let it boil. It gets grainy and gross, and no one wants that.

Stir in the cheddar cheese, about a cup at a time, letting it melt completely before adding the next batch. Then stir in the lemon juice, a dash of salt (taste it to make sure it's enough) and the pasta.

Remove your saucepan from heat and top with bleu cheese and chives. YUM. Matt and I both loved this soup, but next time I think I'm gonna try making some homemade pretzels (from a recipe on Pinterest, no doubt) to go with it. DOUBLE YUM.