Monday, December 30, 2013

Back to it (waaaahh!)



blouse: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
tank, boots: Target
skinnies: H&M
necklace: gifted

Well, last week was kind of a lovely little vacation from everything. I only worked on Monday, and after the holidays were over I just kind of laid on the couch, worked out a bit, caught up on some projects and generally didn't really think too hard about anything. It was superb. So much so that I'm actually contemplating calling in sick to continue the trend. And actually, I am coming down with a cold...I've had a sore throat since Saturday night, which I've been treating with copious amounts of tea and honey (and a smidgen of bourbon, hot-toddy-style). But I'm not calling off, because I have too much to do this week and it'll be shortened thanks to us having New Year's Day (aka National Hangover Day) off. So. Here we are.

So I wore this outfit to one of Matt's and my six family Christmas parties. (Can you even imagine if we were products of divorce?? It would be so many more Christmases! As it is, we still celebrate with both sides of our extended families, plus separate gatherings with our nuclear families.) Anyway. I've also been wearing this outfit to about a billion other things, because it's adorable and comfy. I'm practically living in these skinnies right now. Well, not right now, because skinnies only fly on Fridays at work, but you know what I mean.

In other news, the face I'm making in my last photo there is a testament to how terrible my balance is. Note to self: Get to work on that. In other other news, I promise I'm planning to stick to the Makeup Mondays series I introduced a few weeks ago. Really. I just keep getting distracted and end up having to throw together a shorter post at the last second...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fiscal Fridays: December clothes budget

Hooray for another month of staying within my budget! I'm actually about one-third under-budget this month, which is good because Christmas is freaking expensive, what with all the travel and gift-giving. I tend to get a little carried away with the latter; I almost always overspend on others. What can I say? I like to give awesome gifts, haha.

Anyway, this month I went back to Discount Fashion Warehouse, which makes my under-budget-ness even more of a shocker (for more on that, see my last post on the store). So even though the descriptors below say Express or The Limited, they're all VIA DFWh. Just an FYI :)

12-27-13 Dec budget

1. Express necklace. Chevron for the win! $7
2. Express Portfino shirt. I've been wanting to bump up the number of sheer blouses in my closet, and what better time to buy them than off-season? And with polka-dot-esque stars to boot? Yes, please. $9
3. The Limited sweater. I usually don't like high-low styles, but they're cute when they're subtle. Also, two words: Elbow. Patches. $12
4. The Limited 678 skinny jeans. Because who doesn't need a pair of mustard skinnies? $10
5. The Limited blouse. Thus fulfilling my absolute need for a blouse that's open in the back. Bonus: The buttons let me control how open, so it's both work- and bar-appropriate. $9
6. Express cardigan. Nude and white striped cardis are pretty much a staple, right? That's what I thought. $12
7. The Limited blouse. If this looks familiar, it's because I bought it back in September on my first trip to DFWh. Then I stained it. Luckily, I found another on this trip! $9

So there it is! How did you do on your budget this month? (And don't forget to link up with me to Franziska's Budgeting Bloggers! She should be posting the linkup soon.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's that time of year...



shirt: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
necklace: Express via DFWh
slacks: thrifted
cami, shoes: Target

...when I have entirely too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Yay! Between my regular freelance work, a new side gig I picked up doing some marketing for Everything But Hair (the salon I did a giveaway for last month) and of course Christmas shopping and trying to narrow down venue options for the wedding, I have been one busy gal. In fact, I had to deliberately force myself to take a couple of hours yesterday to just hang out with Matt and not actually do anything. It was really nice.

I'm hoping to use this week to catch up. I planned ahead and used vacation time so that today's the only day I actually go to work. Then it's driving all across Ohio the next two days (though we blessedly get to sleep in our own bed each night, hooray!) to visit families. Thursday and Friday (and I guess Saturday and Sunday) are my big get-things-done days. Writing, fixing a few blog things, taking the cat to the vet for her shots, fiiiiiinally cleaning the's going to be glorious. I might even get my Christmas thank-you cards sent out before New Year's this year! (What?!)

In other news, can I say how much I'm digging this shirt? I got it on a recent trip to Discount Fashion Warehouse, during which I managed to stay UNDER my clothes budget for the month (instead of blowing double the amount like last time). Anyway, I've been searching for a cute open-back blouse for a while. Three cheers for finding one at a crazy discount!

So anyway, are you traveling for the holidays this year? Or are you one of those lucky ducks who will stay at home and enjoy a nice, quiet holiday?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Overthinking mode, engage!



sweater, flats: Target
slacks, blouse: thrifted
necklace: gifted

Oy,vey. Matt and I haven't even been engaged a week and I'm already trying to figure out centerpieces. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's meticulous planning. If there's one thing I'm bad at, however, it's prioritizing effectively. I'm sitting here, trying to figure out how many adorably mismatched vases I'll need to procure, and I don't even know how many tables we'll need because we don't even have a solid guest list or even a budget planned yet! Objectively, I know those big details have to come together before I can start thinking up the little ones. But the big details are scary and expensive, and the little ones are so light and fun!

Okay, enough about that. I promised I would try to keep wedding stuff in check here on the blog :) Sooo let's talk about dressing for work in the winter. It kind of sucks. I find myself gravitating to one of two extremes:

1. Proper business casual that keeps me warm but is boring as hell. See above. The cardigan/blouse/slacks combo is kind of my go-to on those dreary mornings when the sun doesn't rise until after I leave the house and I just don't feel like trying.

2. Pushing the "casual" aspect of B.C. a little too far, like yesterday's outfit. I wore this shirt, these khaki skinnies and these boots. Definitely not a professional look, but it kept my feet dry in the snow and it was comfy under all my bundled layers. Fortunately, it's the week before Christmas and most of the folks who would care are already on vacation. Yay, loopholes!

So here's my question to you: How do you stay comfortable and stylish when there's four (or six, or ten) inches of snow on the ground? Do you wear skirts and tights and just suck it up, even when the wind chill puts the temps in the single digits? Or do you go for comfort/function like me and just look less comfortable in the dark, cold months of winter?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

25 in 25: A six-month update

{image via}

So today is my half-birthday. I don't typically celebrate such things, but since I made a "25 in 25" list for this year, I thought I'd post a little update on how I'm doing. Here we go:

1. Become debt-free
2. Get a DLSR and learn how to use it
3. Visit a new city
(Pittsburgh, and I'm going to Baltimore and Martinsburg, WV next month!)
4. Lead-climb the arch route at the Audubon (I've top-roped it about a quarter of the way up so far)
5. Build up three to six months’ worth of emergency living expenses
6. Pick out an engagement ring. Make up yo damn mind!
7. Start a savings account/fund for Matt's and my wedding
8. Visit all three of my sisters at least once (One in South Carolina, one in Bowling Green, Ohio, and one in Athens, Ohio)
9. Get at least one of the tattoos on my list (In light of the engagement, I'm thinking this probably won't happen. More important things to use my money for...see numbers 5 and 7!)
10. Finish up my ear piercings (Another I'm thinking of scrapping...the two I got in May took ages to heal!)
11. Go white water rafting
12. Get furniture that I’m not embarrassed of (Priorities: couch, bed frame)
13. Lead-climb a 5.9 route at the Red River Gorge (or I guess the New River Gorge)
14. Do a 5k (Color Run in July--so fun!)
15. Do more “pay it forward” stuff
16. Visit the Columbus Zoo
17. Visit the Franklin Park Conservatory
18. See at least one of my favorite bands perform live
19. Go to the ballet
20. Go to the symphony
21. Learn to sew
22. Sample more of Columbus' independently owned restaurants and bars
23. Beef up my camping gear (Priorities: backpack, hiking boots, sleeping pad)
24. Make Julia Child’s boeuf bourginon
25. Learn to moon-walk!

Oof. Looks like I have some work to do in the next six months! Did you make a __ in __ list on your last birthday? How are you doing on it?

Monday, December 16, 2013

An announcement!

So if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, feel free to disregard this entire post. See you back here tomorrow :)

But if you don't, or if you weren't on much this weekend, I have some exciting news! Matt, my boyfriend of nearly six years, asked me to marry him. Wow, even after a weekend of announcing that to family and friends (and even considering that I helped him pick it out a few weeks ago), it's still kind of hard to believe!

He totally got me, too. He contacted my friend Hayley, who I work with, and asked her to help coordinate. She asked me Friday afternoon to go with her while she bought some tickets off a guy on Craigslist. I'm a frequent CL buyer/seller, and I own a can of pepper spray, so I was more than happy to make sure she didn't get murdered. She said we were meeting the guy at the Ohio Statehouse, which is right across the street from where we work. And it's an absolutely gorgeous building, buy the way — one of my favorites in Columbus.

In retrospect, I should have known something was up. She was so giddy, and she kept trying to make me put on makeup: "Emma, want to try this sweet new concealer I got? Ooh, here, check out this new lipgloss!" I thought she was just being weird. So we finally leave, we're walking to the crosswalk, and I get the weirdest sensation of being watched. You ever get that feeling? I just somehow knew that the "Craigslist guy" was over at the Statehouse, staring at us. It actually creeped me out. Later, I found out Matt actually had watched us leave the building and walk down the street. Weird, right?

Anyway, so we get there and Hayley dashes up the stairs. My hand is on my mace in my pocket, which is standard protocol for any Craigslist meetup. She's running up the stairs, and I'm telling her that the door is locked, we're at the wrong entrance. And as I get to the top of the stairs, Matt steps out from behind a pillar. My hand jerked involuntarily in my pocket, and then I realized it was just him. Then it dawned on me: He was dressed up in a button-down and a tie under a sweater, and he definitely, absolutely wasn't trying to sell Hayley some basketball tickets.

I was actually so shocked, I kept, backing away from him, until I hit a pillar behind me. And then I just cried and cried, and he got down on one knee and gave this beautiful little speech, and...oh, damn. I'm crying again.

Long story short, it was absolutely perfect.

12-16-13 proposal

It's been such a blissful weekend, to the point where I'm not even sure if I've used that word correctly before today. I can barely even find words for it.

So you all can expect the appearance of some moderate wedding content around here, though I promise to try to keep it in check for those of you who couldn't care less :) haha. And while diamonds are notoriously difficult to photograph, I did manage to get a couple of decent shots for anyone who wanted a closeup:



So, was your weekend? Haha.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Big things are happening




sweater dress: The Limited
cardi, boots: Target
tights: Groupon deal
belt: H&M
necklace: Express

I think one of the worst parts about blogging, for me, is having news that I'm not quite ready (or allowed) to share on the blog. When it comes to my own personal secrets, I am a terrible keeper. I just get so excited and want to share that excitement with the world! (When it comes to other peoples' secrets, however, I'm a vault. Swear.) Anyway, some pretty exciting collaborations and other fun things are coming up, both here on VM and in real life. And I can't talk about most of them for, like, another month. Maybe more? One of the IRL things I actually have no idea when I'll be able to share. How's that for cryptic?

Don't worry, I'm not a complete tease here. I do have one fun thing to share with you guys. A fellow Ohio University J-school alum, Rachel, has started a blog about Generation Y-ers/Millennials. Specifically, folks that age who aren't living up to the media hype of being lazy underachievers. Her first feature? It's me! I'm so flattered; to be honest, I didn't think of my debt paying-off-ness as really a huge achievement. It was just something I had to do. Then I thought about the numbers...$18,000 in less than three years is something to be proud of. And I am. Ok, not-so-humble-brag over. Check out Rachel's blog, both now and later when she has some more features.

In other news, there are clothes pictures here too! I'm digging this outfit, though I think the tights might be a little too dark. I had the same problem when I wore them here, but I think it was worse for that outfit. Here, it seems almost passable. What do you think?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Makeup Mondays

So a while back, my dear friend Ally made a sweet comment on a post of mine. It was about makeup and how it gives some women a huge advantage. And it made me laugh, because she implied that what I post on the blog is largely natural. And it's not. Which got my gears turning, and made me decide to start a little mini-series that I'm going to call "Makeup Mondays."

I wear a fair amount of makeup, mostly to hide the constant dark circles under my eyes. They're there no matter how much sleep I get. Thanks, genes. And while the makeup I wear goes a long way to hide them (more on that another week), they're usually making an appearance by the end of the day, when I take my photos. So I have another "makeup" trick up my sleeve: Photoshop.

I know it's a bit controversial to Photoshop one's appearance in pics, and I promise, I don't do any of the crazy making-myself-skinnier things or whatnot. I basically use it as an after-affect makeup application. I'll clean up the circles under my eyes, and sometimes whiten my teeth a touch if the lighting makes them look bad. In the interest of full disclosure or what have you, I've decided to present a few comparisons:


The image on the left is unedited, while the one on the right has my circles touched up. (It also has my standard clarity edits, which I swear I've posted about, but I can't find. If I do find that post, I'll update. UPDATE: Here it is.) You don't have to look very closely to see the difference.

The other edits I do involve minor cover-ups, like if I have a major breakout, and slight teeth whitening. I really only need the latter during indoor shoots, when the lighting is a bit on the yellow side anyway. Below, you can see where I did that, and where I fixed an annoying little thing where my nose ring was sticking out of my nose and looking like...well, you know. Gross. I also, of course, lightened under my eyes.


So there you have it. That's how I use Photoshop as makeup, so to speak. Stay tuned in future weeks for tutorials on how to do these tweaks, makeup tips and overviews of which products I like best.

What about you? Do you use Photoshop to tweak a few facial flaws? Or do you prefer to go au natural? Do you feel strongly about using Photoshop this way? Sound off in the comments, I want to hear what you think!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fiscal Fridays: November clothes budget

So I totally failed last Friday, which is when I meant to post this. Oops. Anyway, I was really good last month; I even came in way under my $100 budget! Yay me. Here's what I got:

12-6-13 Dec budget

1. Olive skinny jeans from H&M. They were on sale, and I got another 10% off for signing up for H&M's mailing list (which I somehow don't get emails from. Yay!) $8.95 |exact|
2. Chunky sweater from H&M. I've been searching for some good sweaters for a while. This was only left in a large, so I swim in it, but I kinda like it that way. $24.95 |exact (I think?)|
3. Thin sweater from H&M. I couldn't find an exact photo online, but here's me wearing the real deal. There was a hole in it, so I got 10% off. The hole has since grown because I'm wearing this so much (see previous link), so I have a little repairing to do. Worth it. $13.45 |similar|
4. New sunnies from Target. I lost mine. Cat-eye FTW! $12.99 |exact|
(not pictured)
5. Pantyhose from Walmart. It was an emergency last-minute purchase that had me and my friend Hayley rushing through Walmart in full-on eveningwear. We (she) also bought Spanx, lip gloss and like eight cases of beer. It was interesting, to say the least. $4.74
6. Nose rings from Hot Topic. Mine fell out while Matt and I were camping back in late October. I was using one I had on hand and hated, so I snagged up a couple packs of extras during a BOGO half-off sale. $20.96.

Total with tax: $89.59. Boo-yah achieved.

Thursday, December 5, 2013




shirt: secondhand
slacks: thrifted
flats: Buckle
necklace: Stella & Dot (giveaway win)

This shirt is weird. I mean, I like it, and it was pretty fun to style, but it's weird. I lightened the photos here to give you an idea of what I mean. It's got that cross-chest bit of fabric, and on the inside the bottom layer only goes down halfway. It's crazy-comfy, and I think it looks pretty cool, but all day when I was wearing this, I kept trying to pull the top layer of fabric down for some reason. It felt like it should fall below my boob? It makes zero sense, I know.

Not really much else to say today. The holidays are always super-stressful for me, between parties and gift-buying (which I'm wayyyyy behind on this year) and various other social demands and constructs. But I love food and family, and the holidays always bring lots of both, so I really can't complain. Just don't judge me if I don't really get around to putting up a Christmas tree this year, 'kay?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Boozy Tuesday: Infused bourbon recipe

Ahh, yeah, sorry about my radio silence these past few days. Happy Thanksgiving! It was a crazy-busy, extra-long weekend and I'm not even going to bore you with the details. Instead, I submit to you this vanilla-cinnamon-apple bourbon I infused. And oh wow. You guys, oh WOW.

So this was a bit of a trial-and error thing. I Googled a bunch of recipes to get ideas about proportions, which I promptly ignored. It wasn't the best result. Fortunately, I had enough to make two batches: a one-week infusion and a two-week infusion. I was able to correct my mistake in the longer version and hot dang, is it tasty.

I started with a 750 mL bottle of Woodford Reserve. You can use any kind of bourbon you like, but this is what was recommended to me by the bartender who inspired me to try my own hand at infusing. I also picked up a couple of green apples, a jar of vanilla beans (which fortunately contained two beans), a jar of cinnamon sticks, and two quart-size mason jars. The nutmeg I had on hand, but has since mysteriously disappeared from my house...


Anyway, I just split the bourbon into the two jars.


Then I sliced the apples and added one to each jar. I went back and added another half-apple to each jar, which was actually a mistake as it turns out. In fact, I would suggest doing one-half or three-quarters of an apple per jar, or using Golden Delicious apples instead. The Granny Smiths were just too tart.


Anyway, I also divided the cinnamon sticks between the two batches and added them with a dash of nutmeg to each jar as well. I think I ended up with three or four cinnamon sticks in each batch.


Next up was the vanilla. Real vanilla beans are interesting things, and to get the full flavor you have to split them down the center with a sharp knife to open them up. You don't want to cut all the way through; just enough to get the "tube" of the bean open. Inside are all these tiny, wonderful-smelling grains of vanilla-ness. It was kind of hard to photograph, but here's my attemp.


Then I just popped one bean into each jar. I had to kind of fold them in half so they'd fit well.


Then I gave each jar a good shake, labeled them with the date and the duration for infusing, and left them in a cool, dark space on my counter where they wouldn't be disturbed.


When the time came, I gave the jar a good hard shake to mix everything up again. Then I took a fine-mesh strainer and poured the jar through it into a different container. I gave the jar a good rinse to get rid of any loose particles, then poured the newly infused bourbon back into it.


On tasting the first batch, I realized it was wayyyyy too tart. So I took about half the apples out of the second batch, which still had a week to go. It turned out perfectly. As for the first batch, I'm thinking about adding some pure vanilla extract to it to tone down the tartness a bit. Sydney also suggested adding maple syrup, which may be the most Canadian thing I've ever seen. (Except perhaps my six-pack of fleece-lined leggings.) I might split the jar and try a little in each to extend the experiment.

Despite the minor setback of the tartness, I'd call this foray into liquor infusions a great success. Have you ever tried infusing booze? Tell us about it (and link to a recipe, if you can!) in the comments :)