Wednesday, January 30, 2013

OMG shoes

Yes, this post title is a reference to this video, which is so old in terms of Internet memes that it's practically ancient. But I don't care. Every time I shop for shoes, that is what I think of. Because that's normal, right?





blouse: old, don't remember
blazer, slacks: thrifted
heels: Target
earrings: H&M
necklace: Etsy

This outfit has so much going on, I almost can't even handle it. Ruffles. Mismatched blazer/slacks combo. Pretty little earrings. A necklace I've been obsessed with lately. Snake print. (I just typed "snape print" by mistake. Now THAT would be something.)

These shoes have been on my "to-buy" list for literally months. They finally went on clearance to just $15, and I couldn't pass them up. Best part? I have the exact same shoes in black already, so I already knew my size and didn't have to visit a million targets to find a pair that fits. I just ordered them, used my Target card to get free shipping, and BAM! They were at my door before I knew it. (I paid off the card as soon as the charge posted. Because I'm responsible with my credit now.)

All around? I call this outfit a definite winner. Boo-yah achieved.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pin-spiration Monday: But not really.

Because it's not Monday, and the pin that gave me inspiration was actually intentionally me. That is, I had an idea for a project, and because I wanted to make it a Pinspiration Monday post, I found a picture of the project in mind, pinned it, and totally cheated. Then I went to the gym Monday, and we had a late dinner, and before I knew it, it was 9 pm and my brain just shut off for the day. So I'm a complete phony, but it's okay because I'm honest about it. Right?

Anyway. Today's Pinspiration is basically a knock-off of this Ikea wall art, which I discovered on a recent trip with my friends Emily and Stephanie. Emily actually bought the piece, and I really wanted to, but I didn't think purple butterflies would really jive with Matt. Aren't I the considerate girlfriend?

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

So instead of this super-girly motif, I decided to DIY a similar project. With leaves and green instead of butterflies and purple. So I stopped by Michael's and picked up a shadowbox frame, a piece of white card stock and a piece of green scrapbook paper. Total cost: about $15.

1 frame

I then cut a piece of the green paper down to fit the back of the frame. It was actually a bit too short, but that's okay because I wanted a thicker border on the top and bottom. I also cut a piece of cardstock to the exact size of the backing. I pinned the green paper to the back using some included push pins.

2 cuts

3 sized papers

Then I asked Matt to draw the vine/leaves. Because I am a terrible drawer. I think I frustrated him a bit, because I'm also a terrible explainer and we went through a few drafts before we got to a sketch I liked. It was actually a bit different from what I originally wanted, but I liked his version better! I had him draw the final sketch on the back side of the paper, so no pencil marks would show on the front.

4 sketches

Then I used an Exacto knife to cut out only the leaves, making sure to keep them attached at the bottom, where they connect to the vine. Note: A sharp Exacto knife is preferable here, particularly with thick cardstock. My dull blade was kinda janky. And hard to work with. Note #2: Put a piece of cardboard under the cardstock as you're cutting. Your carpet/hardwood floor/table will thank you. A plastic cutting mat from a craft store is also useful.

5 traced

Next, I traced over the stem part of the sketch on a piece of notebook paper (on the right in the above image). I used a relatively thin paper and first just traced in pencil, then went over it in permanent marker. Then, I flipped both the cardstock and the notebook paper. That gave me a mirror image to help me draw the stem on the outward facing side of the card stock.

6 flipped

Then, I folded the leaves upward and bent them a little to help them stick out from the surface of the paper.

7 folded

From there, I just had to drop the cardstock into the shadow box frame, with the leaves pointing out toward the glass...

8 placed the frame backing with the colored paper pinned to it over the cardstock, and replace the little hook things that keep the back of the frame in place.

9 assembled

And here it is! I really love the final result, and I know this is corny, but I like that Matt and I kinda worked together to make it :)

10 finished

Now I'm just itching to finish this gallery wall. We had to shift our couch a little when we got our new entertainment center, making the whole arrangement off-center from the couch, which drives me crazy. I don't feel like removing all the frames, patching up the holes, repainting, and then rehanging all of those pictures. So the only solution is to make it bigger, obvs. This is gonna be fun :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fiscal Fridays: Hi, my name is Emma, and I am a shopaholic

So I've probably mentioned this before, but a big reason why I got myself into the huge debt mess that I did was because I had--still have--a pretty major spending problem. Many people treat the term "shopaholic" lightly, but the truth is, one can get just as addicted to shopping as another person can get to alcohol, or drugs, or sex.

For a long time, I shopped to feel better about myself. About my life. I shopped to cheer myself up when I was blue, to celebrate an event or a minor financial windfall. I got a genuine endorphin rush from a particularly good purchase. And I always had a reason (albeit sometimes a thin one) to justify my shopping. When I was living at home, I often had to hide my purchases from my parents, who knew I was spending more than I had and charging the rest. I'd keep them in the trunk of my car, under blankets, and sneak them in the house at night. Looking back, it's kind of hard to believe that I was able to deny the fact that I had a problem.

I'll probably always have a difficult relationship with shopping. I'll always get a rush on a good deal, or a long-coveted item. Hell, my heart starts racing at the mere THOUGHT of buying something I really want. But as long as I can keep my spending within the allotted amounts I've budgeted for myself, I can still shop. And the same goes for the rest of you shopaholics out there.

Recently, a representative of a small team of infographic designers reached out to me about a shopping addiction graphic they created, and I thought it'd be a nice complement to this post. So scroll on for some stats from Online Psychology Degree on shopping addictions.

 Shopaholics Infographic

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No one becomes a cat lady on purpose

Once upon a time, Matt did not like cats and I was fairly indifferent. I had had a couple growing up, but one was terrible (it ate carpet) and the other didn't really like me. So, you know, they seemed cute and all, but not the best companions.

Then, we adopted Spazzy.


Spazzy was born to a stray that lived in the backyard of my friend's then-boyfriend's house. Anyway, they couldn't find a home for her, and the shelters were full. She was so adorable, so I begged Matt and he caved, and she came home with us. And now...



No one ever means to become a cat lady (or cat guy?) on purpose. But Matt and I just watched videos (yes, there are multiple) of Spazzy playing when she was a tiny kitten. And now I just want another little kitten, to be silly and cute and keep Spaz company. And you know something? I don't think Matt is 100% opposed to the idea either, haha. And so it begins...


(And if you're like us, and really love cat pics/videos, check out this old post and follow me on Instagram (efrankart). I post way more cat pictures than is probably appropriate.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

FIscal Fridays: Some random stuff I've been thinking about

So I've been pretty terrible with the Fiscal Fridays posts lately. To be honest, there hasn't been much going on. Per Dave Ramsey's "Debt Snowball" instructions, I've been making triple payments on my smallest debt (the loan I took from my dad in college). And now, I'm nearly done making payments--I have about one and a half left. That's about a year and a half earlier than the original repayment plan we set up, which feels pretty amazing. That alone is a year and a half less that I will spend in debt; and when I start making supersized payments on my other loans, I'll reduce my "debt timeline" even more. That feels really amazing.

And because this post would be really terrible if all I did was a not-so-humble brag, I'm going to abruptly change the subject now and talk about taxes for a moment. I got two of my needed tax forms so far: The two W-2s from the two full-time jobs I worked this year; I still need two 1099-MISCs for my freelance work, plus another form or two regarding my retirement plans. And a random, blog-worthy Tax Tidbit (I enjoy alliteration far too frequently) popped into my head. So...

Emma's Tax Tidbit #1:
You can reduce your taxable income--that is, pay taxes on less money than you actually make in a year--by paying into certain programs.

For me, paying into a retirement plan and an employer-sponsored health plan landed me the reduction. So I paid X amount--let's make this easy, I'll say I paid $10--into a 401(k) for the first few months of the year, at my first job. Then, I paid $30 into a 457(b), which is kind of like a 401(k) but for public-sector employees. By doing so, I lowered my taxable income by $40 total. So if I made $100 in 2012, I would now only have to pay taxes on $60 worth. Something similar happened for the first time this year for me because I paid for employer-sponsored health coverage. I don't think that has to do with the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare...but because it was only on the return for the second job I had this year, it might have to do with working in the public sector. I'm going to try to find out (re: ask my dad/Google it) and will get back to y'all there.

Basically, anything you can do to reduce your taxable income is good, because it means you pay less taxes. And that's the really cool thing about the incentive, I think--it's for stuff you should be doing anyway. Like saving for retirement. I don't care how old you are. I don't care if you're flipping burgers for your first job. If your company offers a retirement plan, like a 401(k), pay into it. Even if it's only five or ten bucks a paycheck. The younger you are when you start, the more interest will compound to give you a major nest egg for later. In fact, a person who starts $200 a month when she is 30 cannot catch up to the amount that she would have gotten by retirement age if she had started saving just $100 a month when she was 20.

Also. It's just occurred to me that I should probably list a disclaimer. I am not a financial adviser or a CPA. I have no formal education in finance, or taxes. I only have my own personal thirst for knowledge on how to make my money work for me, not the other way around. I will say that I do a bit of reading on the subject, and I take a LOT of advice from my dad, who probably could get a job as a financial adviser if he really wanted to. He's very smart. Anyway, point is: While I try to be as specific and accurate as possible on these topics, I might on occasion make a mistake. Please don't hate me if you take my advice without researching it for yourself, as it's applied to your situation, and then something bad happens. KThanks :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The "winter wall"



sweater: The Limited
polo: Target
slacks: thrifted
shoes: Payless
hair flower: H&M
necklaces: gifted

That's the official name I'm giving this slump I'm in. I've hit the wall. Winter is the most dreary time of year in Ohio, where we can go weeks without seeing a blue sky or the sun. And the cold, snow, and general crappy weather conditions are not conducive to cute outfit styling. More often than not, I find myself dragging my butt out of bed and throwing on the warmest combination of clothing I can find...and that combination is rarely flattering, or stylish, or blog-worthy. Usually it's just slacks, flats and a sweater. Today I managed to make that combination work in a blogable way, but that's a rare occurrence. (It's not this outfit. This outfit is my typical, boring winter uniform.)

The same thing happened last winter, too. I hope you'll all bear with my lack of acceptable outfit posts between now and spring. I promise, this ol' blog will get interesting again as soon as the weather perks up.

Do all bloggers go through this? How do you handle the winter blahs? What outfit pieces help pull you out of the cold-weather rut?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yesterday's absence is brought to you by cheese. Because that's normal.

So I was all set to write a post for yesterday evening. I edited photos, got them uploaded, and was just about to start writing, when...fondue happened. And some other things, but I'll talk more about that on Fiscal Friday this week. So anyway, blame cheese. Cheese is the reason why I didn't post yesterday.



button-down: old, don't remember
cami, necklace: Target
slacks: secondhand
flats: Payless
bracelet: H&M

So last weekend was a lot of fun. I got to hang out with my bloggy-turned-real-life friend, Kellyn of The Church Mouse, who just moved here from Texas. I showed her a little bit of the city, we got brunch, and we went thrifting. (I scored an AMAZING faux leather moto jacket. Can't wait until the temps are above freezing again to wear it!)

Speaking of warmer temps, Ohio had a nice little "heat wave" last week, with temps in the 40s, 50s and even 60s! It was glorious. I took these photos outside simply because it was warm enough to do so, but I failed to realize the post-work light would be less than ideal for photos. Womp womp.

(P.S. to all you Columbus-ites: Don't forget to enter my giveaway! It ends this week!)

Now, it's back to the dismal 20s and 30s that are more characteristic of Ohio in January. Le sigh. At least it hasn't snowed again (yet).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shadowbox Live giveaway!

Hi folks. Today, I'm wayyyy excited to announce another (local) giveaway. This time around, I'm giving away two tickets to Shadowbox Life, a sketch comedy/rock & roll arts group! Shadowbox Live is seriously one of my favorite things about Columbus — the sketch comedy shows are always hysterical, the original musicals (that's right, they write their own full-length shows) are phenomenal, and the house band, BillWho? is unbelievably talented.

I got these tickets when I was at their newest sketch comedy show, "Between the Sheets." I made a donation (did I mention Shadowbox is a nonprofit?) and in exchange received a ticket to their current musical, Chicago, and two tickets to a Friday Lunchbox show. My work schedule doesn't really allow me to go see a 45-minute show at lunchtime on Fridays, so I'm giving those two tickets away to that show! (The Chicago ticket is for me. I'm pretty stoked about that.)

So to enter, all you have to do is fill out the little dilly below. There are no mandatory entries, so you can do as many or as few as you like...and some you can even do more than once! Giveaway is open until next Thursday, and anyone who's in Columbus (or will be between next Friday and mid-March) can enter. Trust don't wanna miss out on this.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Learning experience

You may not know it, based on most of the cooking experiences I share here on the blog, but many of my kitchen experiments are not successful. Some are ok, but a little off. Others are edible, but not all too appetizing. And once in a great while, I'll apologize to Matt after a few bites and ask him where he wants me to order pizza from.

But every time I mess something up, I try to take a look at the whole process and see where I went wrong. Sometimes it's something along the lines of "Don't drink the rest of the bottle when the recipe only needs a cup," haha. Other times, it's just a matter of my unfamiliarity with an ingredient or technique.

Yesterday, I tried out the enameled cast iron Dutch oven my parents got me for Christmas. And let me tell you with cast iron is NOTHING like cooking with the reasonably priced cookware we already had. It was actually pretty alarming to use equipment that heats so quickly and evenly and generally just performs well.


So these pork chops actually weren't too bad. But they didn't cook well, and the sauce definitely didn't turn out, and then my blender broke so the other sauce didn't even happen. So I won't be sharing a recipe for casserole-sauteed pork chops from Julia Child's cookbook, with asparagus and a super-easy hollandaise this Friday. But the best thing about failing at a recipe? It gives you an excuse to keep practicing... :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Punk rock princess



shirt: secondhand
jeans: Target
necklace: The Limited
bracelets: old
shoes: super old...from high school (eep) and they're definitely not real Converses

So I just wrote an entire post, and I realized that I did four paragraphs about a topic that had absolutely nothing to do with this post. Oh least now I have a post pre-written for later :)

I got this t-shirt in a giant hand-me-down pile from the girls who live upstairs. It's from Old Navy, I have no idea how recently (or not) it was purchased, but I. Love. This. T-shirt. It is seriously the perfect weight and cut and fit. It is the perfect T.

This outfit was pretty fun. I wore it to work on casual Friday (minus the fauxhawk, of course), and loved it so much that I wore it out with friends later. That's my favorite part of my office (and, for that matter, my group of friends): a lot of my casual Friday outfits translate to night-out outfits pretty easily. Not having to change = huge perk for me!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gettin' fancy

So New Year's Eve is one of my top favorite holidays because it's the perfect excuse to get super fancy. And even if you wind up being the most dressed-up person at the party, no one's going to make fun of you because hey, IT'S NEW YEAR'S EVE. Also, there's champagne and/or sparkling sweet wines.


Yup, NYE is one of the few times that I spend more than seven minutes on makeup (truth) and more than three minutes on my hair (ok, that's a lie...usually it's under a minute). This year, I completely forgot decided not to buy a new dress, so I remixed an old one. This is actually somewhat similar to the outfit I wore to ring in 2011, but I didn't have a blog back then and everyone knows that if you don't post it on the internet, it doesn't count.



dress: appx. four to five years idea
sleeveless oxford: New York & Company
tights, booties, headband: Target
necklaces: both gifted
bracelet: H&M

The only problem with this dress compared to two years ago is, well...what went into it. As in, a few more pounds. Zipping this dress took some major work on my part and Matt's. And once it was on, it was far too skimpy for my taste (and the subfreezing temps), so I layered that sucker right up. Bam!

The evening itself went by in a blur, as NYE nights tend to do, but it was a lot of fun! We hung out at a friend's expensive covers, cheap BYO drinks and no getting kicked out to drive home tipsy at 2 am. Win, win, win.

(Oh hey, by the way. Ignore all the mess on the table...Matt was outside warming up the car, so I had no time to shoot these. Instead, here's a pic of us, before things got sloppy. Isn't he cute?)


Wednesday, January 2, 2013




sweater: thrifted
short-sleeve Oxford: New York & Company
skirt: The Limited
necklace: InPink
tights, shoes: Target

Well, yet again, it's hard to believe that a new year has arrived. 2012 held so many changes for me and those close to me. New jobs, weddings, relocations, breakups,'s been such a whirlwind, no wonder I'm having a hard time believing it's already over.

And while I'm a little sad to think about some of the changes — particularly those that took my sister and new brother-in-law, and swept them away to a new home — I'm also very, very excited to see what 2013 has in store for me and my loved ones. I already know of a few who will change their marital and/or parental status this year, and there are some who I really hope find new jobs and new homes. What more will the year bring?

I'm not a fan of winter. I hate the cold and I'm terrified of (and terrible at) driving in snow/ice. But there's always something about the first week or so in January that has so much hope, so much promise, I can't help but enjoy it. Anyone else like that, or am I just a weird one? (Well, I am a weird one in many other ways...don't hold that against me.)