Monday, June 30, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: June

I'm not gonna lie, I'm exhausted from this weekend (we went to the New River Gorge and didn't get home/to sleep until almost 2 a.m. Sunday night/this morning--pictures and stories to come!) and pretty much computered out (from work and post-work freelance work), so I'm keeping this post short. I did fine on this month's budget in that I stayed under my $100 limit by about $5, but not so fine in that I made a rather unwise purchase.


1. Lace Pinup Fitted Dress from Lily Boutique. I originally pinned a dress from this store to buy as a wedding rehearsal/bridal shower dress, but it sold out. So when I saw this one, I snapped it right up. Who cares if I have to wait nine or ten months to wear it? | $48 (with shipping) {exact}

2. Merona Crossbody Bag from Target. I've been wanting a crossbody bag for a while; my old hobo-esque one was killing my shoulder. | $27 {exact, now on sale}

3. This was the unfortunate purchase. I bought a CrowdSavings deal for a "Swarovski Elements Trio Set." Originally $200, it was a "limited time only" sale for $20. When it arrived, I realized what I should have known all along; this is no Swarovski set. This is what I got:


Uh, yeah. Obviously, I'm trying to return the set, and I've reported the original seller (a website called eFizzle) to Swarovski for marketing knockoff jewelry as Swarovski-brand. Worst-case scenario, I've lost 20 bucks and gained a valuable lesson. Best-case scenario, I get my money back and a valuable lesson. You get what you pay for!

How did you on your June budget? Here's hoping your purchases were more savvy than my dud :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014


So what I really SHOULD be doing is transcribing a couple interviews for a story that's due a week from tomorrow. But guysssss it's the weekend and I don't wanna. I mean, my free time during the next week/weekend is dropping to practically zero, but Imma write a post now anyway because after I do this, there will be literally NOTHING left for me to do to procrastinate. Well, except dye my hair, but I think I'll save that for a mid-way break...

Anyway, this weekend was Columbus' Pride parade/festival and it was awesome. Partially because it wasn't 97 degrees with 80% humidity, like last year, but mostly because Columbus has THE best gay scene and, as a city, is incredibly supportive of the LGBT community. I trekked down to the parade with my camera and got some pretty sweet shots. Keep scrolling to see some of my favorites, and check out the full album on my Flickr.

Our grand marshall this year was none other than George Takei. So cool to see him in person!







DAMN STRAIGHT! (No pun intended...okay, maybe a little pun intended.)



The revelry stretched like this for about a mile and a half, from downtown to the Short North.








(If you're following my photo a day project, you might recognize this HRC flag. If you're not following it, don't worry, I'm doing a post later this month.)


This was part of AEP's float/group. Can you believe it? Talk about eye candy...I'll never think of electricians the same way again.

One of my favorites, bringing up the rear of the parade.

Does your city (or one nearby) do an annual Pride celebration? Have you been? What do you think?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

T-shirt style




T-shirt: Old Navy
skirt: JCPenney
heels: Target

Guys, can we just talk a second about how awesome T-shirts are? Seriously though. They're comfortable, versatile and basically the first item on every "closet staples" list ever made. I love T-shirts; I have more than I could count. A lot are stuffed in drawers--those are the shapeless participation shirts from races, the concert tees that cost $40 but somehow seem worth it, the annual show tops from my marching band and theatre and Greek life days. (Don't get any ideas; I wasn't in a sorority but I did join a couple co-ed scholastic fraternities in college.) Those tees are great, and I love them, but they're usually more sentimental than stylish and are worn more often as PJs or workout tops than as blog-worthy outfits. (Though one has made a couple of appearances around these parts; also, you're welcome for the linkback to the hilariously bad three-year-old post from the very early days of VM.)

But where the shapeless, unflattering T-shirts tend to flop, a nice fitted tee almost never fails. I have many 10 or 15 such tops in various colors and basic patterns, and of course I'm always snapping up "just one more." I think my favorite way to wear them is dressed up for work. It feels like of like cheating the dress code, while still looking professional. But seriously...comfort AND classy attire? Ultimate win.

The key to dressing up a tee for work, I think, is to make sure the rest of your outfit is ultra-polished. Find bottoms that you can tuck the tee into and that compliment the form-fitting-ness of the tee. If I were wearing this outfit with pants, I'd go for a wider leg or maybe some dress capris. If you can add a coordinating belt, you're good to go. (I didn't have any such belt for this outfit, unfortunately, but I think it works nonetheless.) Of course, heels and pearls or another classy statement necklace always lend a sophisticated air to an otherwise casual piece.

How do you like to style your T-shirts?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Today is my birthday and I'm riding hiiiiiigh

I have been waiting to use those Lorde lyrics for like four months. True story. Anyway. Yesterday I promised my updated 26 in 26 list, and here it is!


So like I said yesterday, I had some items from last year that didn't get done that totally need to get done. So the first chunk of my list consists of those items, tweaked as needed. The rest is new or an advancement of something I did last year!

1. Lead-climb the arch route at the Audubon
2. Get at least one of the tattoos on my list
3. Get furniture that I’m not embarrassed of (Priorities: couch, entryway closet, living room chairs)
4. Visit the Columbus Zoo
5. Visit the Franklin Park Conservatory
6. Go white-water rafting
7. Visit all three of my out-of-our-parents’-house sisters at least once (One in South Carolina, one in “wherever she moves when she lands a job,” and one in Athens, Ohio)
8. Make Julia Child’s boeuf bourginon
9. Beef up my camping gear (Priorities: hiking boots, sleeping pad)

10. Beef up my climbing gear (Priorities: PAS, quickdraws, crash pad, outdoor rope)
11. Toprope a 10a at the Red or the New
12. Learn how to clean a route
13. Climb or boulder somewhere new
14. Perform in a dance piece in front of an audience
15. Visit a new city
16. Visit another new city
17. Visit a new country
18. Get married!
19. Do a photo-a-day project (365 days!)
20. See a band/artist I like in concert
21. Go to a beach
22. Make a dress
23. Make a skirt
24. Tackle at least one project a month from either my “Seriously...get on this” Pinterest board or my general house to-do list.
25. One locally owned restaurant/bar per month (no repeats)
26. Be able to do at least three pull-ups

Like last year, some of these will be easy. I already have plans to go white-water rafting later this month, and if that dang boeuf bourginon doesn't happen this year I swear I'll never cook again. I also have solid plans in place for numbers 14-21, so those shouldn't be too far of a stretch. Overall, I'm pretty excited about what this year will bring. If nothing else, I'll wrap up 26 as a new person, in a way, as I'll be changing to my married name before this time next year. (OMG WHAT???)

Do you make a "# in #" list, or are you thinking about doing it for your next birthday? What items are/would be on your list?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wrapping up the 25 in 25

Last year, I copied Sydney and made a list of 25 things I wanted to do/experience during my 25th year. Today is the last day of said year, so I thought I'd do a little recap of what I did/didn't get done. And tomorrow, I'll debut my 26 in 26!

1. Become debt-free
2. Get a DLSR and learn how to use it
3. Visit a new city
4. Lead-climb the arch route at the Audubon
5. Build up three to six months’ worth of emergency living expenses
6. Pick out an engagement ring
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, at my alma mater)
9. Get at least one of the tattoos on my list
10. Finish up my ear piercings (one more on each side)
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 (Note I did not say "run" a 5k...I just need to complete one haha)
15. Do more “pay it forward” stuff (No post on this, in keeping with the spirit of random acts of kindness/paying it forward.)
16. Visit the Columbus Zoo
17. Visit the Franklin Park Conservatory
18. See at least one of my favorite bands perform live (No post on this, but I saw Jake Bugg just this weekend and he was awesome.)
19. Go to the ballet (Again, no post about seeing the Shadowbox/Verb Ballets Edgar Allen Poe-themed collaboration the other month, but it was siiiiiiick.)
20. Go to the symphony
21. Learn to sew (My grandma's been coaching me on how to use the sewing machine Matt's mom gave me. I'm getting there!)
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! (I know how to do it and sometimes it looks okay, but I'm no pro!)

Some of the items I can't believe I haven't done, like making that boeuf bourginon. I had 52 weeks to make that dish, which would have been excellent during this long, cold, awful winter, and I didn't do it. So dumb. Or going to the zoo or conservatory; there's no excuse for neglecting those things! Seriously! So a few of the un-done items are going back on my list for my 26 in 26. Other things simply were de-prioritized in light of other events, like building up lots of savings or buying camping gear taking a backseat to the whole "getting our deposits in to wedding vendors" situation. Priorities. (Yes, I know, not having an established savings account with three to six months of expenses isn't very fiscally responsible. But neither is paying twice as much for a last-minute-booked vendor because all the economical ones booked early. Just sayin'.)

Do you set annual goals for yourself, on your birthday or maybe New Year's? What kinds of goals or experiences are on your list?

Friday, June 13, 2014




blouse: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
khakis, necklace: Old Navy
blazer, shoes: Target

A lot of people consider Friday the 13th to be bad luck. I used to be one of them, right up until the most recent Friday the 13th. It was six months ago, and I was asked the most important question of my whole life. And of course, I said yes. Ever since Matt decided to propose on a Friday the 13th, I've claimed it as my own personal good-luck day. Take THAT, superstition!

Okay no joke, that whole paragraph right there was just an excuse for me to let off a little excitement at this little milestone. My friend/coworker/bridesmaid, Hayley, commented that it seems like it's been much longer than six months. To which I replied, "That's probably because I have the whole wedding planned already." And while that is an exaggeration, it's a slight one. We've tackled the venue, the officiant (aka Matt's brother-in-law), the caterer, the photographer, the videographer (aka my office's video intern from last summer), the DJ/photobooth, the cake baker (aka Hayley, who grew up decorating wedding cakes in her mom's bakery), the dress, what the attendants will be wearing, and some of the minor decor details. All that we really have left is:

- making sure the bridesmaids/groomsmen place their orders
- picking out Matt's tux
- finding my undergarments, shoes and veil (the latter of which I will probably DIY)
- engagement photos (courtesy another friend/bridesmaid, Emily)
- DIYing the save-the-dates
- DIYing all the flowers and the centerpieces
- DIYing the invitations
- write the ceremony
- buy attendants' gifts

Ugh. I hate when I start writing a post with intent to talk about something, then go off on a tangent about wedding stuff. I can't help it; I'm a woman obsessed. #sorrynotsorry

It's just as well, I suppose. These photos didn't turn out so great, but I really liked the outfit and frankly, my re-shoot list is way too long to add this outfit to the queue. C'est la vie!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wedding update: I found THE dress!

So I totally had this entire post ready to go yesterday...and then I forgot to post it. I had meant to schedule it, but apparently I didn't do that. Oops.

I'm not gonna post photos of THE dress, for obvious reasons, but after giving it some thought I decided to post photos of the other two favorites I had. (Initially I made my mom delete them from my phone so I wouldn't start second-guessing my decision, but then I saw them in my Photostream and I can say with complete confidence that I made the right choice. So that's awesome.)

I had harbored a lot of anxiety about dress shopping in the week or so leading up to it, for some reason. I just felt a lot of pressure about the whole thing. Dress shopping is so built up thanks to shows like Say Yes to the Dress, etc., and I was worried that my indecisive nature would prevent me from having that "A-ha!" moment upon finding The One. And for most of the trip, it seemed like that would indeed be the case.

We started at Elegant Bride, a little boutique in Dublin. The staff was really friendly and helpful, and the dresses (and their price points) were awesome. We pulled about eight or 10 gowns and got started. When I emerged from the dressing room in the first gown, I did have a bit of a "moment." All I could say was, "You guys, this is a wedding dress!" It was a little overwhelming, and I fell in love with it. Which was surprising, because...

(Allure Bridals style 9121) was pink. A light blush pink, yes, but pink nonetheless. (It looks more peachy in the photo, but next to the white dresses it looked straight-up baby pink.) I even got a little teary in it. Looking back though, I think that had more to do with the fact that it was the very first wedding dress I ever tried on. I tried on the others, but kept coming back to that pink one. Ultimately, I knew I had to at least go to my other four appointments and see what other options were out there. So off we went to store #2.

That was Trumpington Bridal House in Worthington, another small boutique. I tried on close to a dozen that were all "it's okay, but...[insert blank]." None of them really felt like The One, though I did like a slim one with a keyhole back, one with a gorgeous illusion neckline, and this one:

(Unfortunately, I didn't catch the label/style number for this one)

Then one emerged as a top contender. I think my mom wanted to get married again herself, she loved that dress so much. It was beautiful and really figure-flattering. I liked it a lot, but I didn't tear up or anything. (Well, I did when my sister said that my daughter would be more likely to re-wear it than the pink one, but again, I think that was more of the circumstances than the dress itself.) I was especially happy with the price point; it was the floor sample of a discontinued style, so I could buy it off the rack for half off, which was well under my budget. It had the added bonus of having the bra and crinoline all sewed in, so I wouldn't have to buy those separate. And really, it was very, very pretty.


At that point, we had to leave for my cousin's bridal shower up in northern Ohio. We hung out and visited family for a while after, and didn't get back to Columbus until nearly midnight. Sunday morning, we hit the shops again after brunch at Northstar. I had made up my mind by then that if I didn't find anything at the third store (Alfred Angelo in Dublin), I'd go with the Trumpington gown. I cancelled my remaining two appointments, which were stores I had previously had bad staff experiences at anyway, and started trying to convince myself of the merits of the Trumpington gown: It was super affordable for me, it was really beautiful, it made my figure look amazing. I tried to convince myself that if I bought it, I'd feel like it was The One.

Alfred Angelo is more of a showroom than the other two stores, so I told the consultant what I liked and didn't like, showed her the first two dresses and rattled off a list of Alfred Angelo styles I had liked online. She then went and pulled about eight dresses for me. None of them were really doing it for me, though they were all very pretty. I tried on the "Snow White" gown from their Disney Fairy Tale Bridal collection, but was a bit put off by how much was going on with the bodice and the whole "wearing a Disney-branded wedding dress" thing. And then this one was nearly perfect (with a white sash instead of a colored one), but it dipped far too low in the back for my taste, which also prevented it from being a strapless dress. I could have had a seamstress remove the straps and insert the boning, but it likely would have been crazy-expensive. So that was the second-to-last dress in the pile. As I was getting into it, I mentioned a little detail I had neglected to mention before. (I don't want to say what it is and give any hints, sorry!) So as I'm modeling this, my consultant grabs another dress to try on.

I put it on and I remember thinking, "Yeah, this is kind of nice" as I looked down at it. Then I crossed over to the mirror, looked up and basically melted. I was crying before I even stepped up onto the pedestal. I was crying so much I had to stop and calm myself so I could get a full look at the thing. I turned around and everyone in my group was teary--even my typically pragmatic, reserved sister. It was such an overwhelming flood of feels. Someone handed me a little fake bouquet and had me walk around the store, and I swear it looked like I was floating in this thing. Then she faced me to the mirror again and told me to walk toward it, pretending that I was walking down the aisle to meet my groom, and I lost it all over again. I could barely choke out the word "yes" when they asked me if this was It. Then the whole store clapped and I was really embarrassed because I was still crying. So much for thinking I wouldn't have an "a-ha!" moment.

Then it was all discussions about a few tiny alterations I wanted (including pockets, yay!) and measurement-taking and card-swiping (hello, airline miles!). It wound up being a little more than most of my other contenders, but still a great price for the quality of the gown. Plus, I'm getting a brand-new dress, not a floor sample or anything. (And for anyone who's wondering about the financials of it, I'll say this: I did charge it to get airline miles to use toward the honeymoon, but as soon as the transaction posts in a day or two, I'm paying it off with money from my wedding savings fund. So I'm not paying interest or going into actual debt on such a significant purchase.)

After that was over, my mom and sisters went home and I hung out with Emily for a bit, who had come to Ohio for shopping and for a baby shower in Cincinnati the day before. She and I made some bouquet flowers and grabbed dinner before she had to leave. She is officially the queen of a certain style of flower that I am absolutely terrible at, though I think she gave me enough pointers to make a reasonable attempt at them in the future.

And just for fun, here's another shot of me in one of the dresses, reacting to a request for me to "strike a pose like in the magazines."


Monday, June 9, 2014

Copycat style: Purple & polka dots

(Yes, short post today, but check back later this evening for an update on wedding dress shopping this weekend, if you're interested in that sort of thing. There will be pictures.)





blouse: thrifted
blazer: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
skirt: The Limited
flats: Target

So I was inspired to re-create this outfit, originally worn by Ashley of The Cream To My Coffee, the second I saw it on her blog. Part of it was the fact that I knew I had all the pieces to do so, but mostly it was just a cool-looking combination that I was excited to try. In retrospect, I'm wishing I had added my thin black belt to the skirt, or untucked a little of the shirt to spill over the waistband. Oh, well.

Unfortunately, the zipper on this skirt broke shortly after I wore this. Well, it didn't so much "break" as "get caught in the material next to the zipper, tear it to shreds and basically become inseparable from it." I'm debating whether I want to remove the zipper and try to sew in a new one. Has anyone tried this? Is it hard?

Friday, June 6, 2014






tank: secondhand
cardi: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse
jeans, heels: Target
necklace: Etsy

So a while back, my friend Hayley and her husband moved into their very first house (yay!). As she was packing, she mentioned that she had a bunch of clothes to take to Goodwill. Hayley has great style, so I told her to drop the clothes at my house so I could pick through them, and then take the leftovers to Goodwill for her. Imagine my surprise when she showed up with a literal carload of stuff--it was nearly 20 garbage bags of clothes, bags, bedding and random appliances. I couldn't keep most of it due to fit, but I did snag a few amazing pieces out of the bunch. Including this tiger tank.

This tank is one of those things that, if I saw it on the shelf, I wouldn't even consider buying it. But for some reason, it caught my eye as I was knee-deep in clothes in my living room (not an exaggeration) and I kept it. So glad I did! It's ended up being one of my favorite casual-wear items.

I can't think of anything else to write today without spewing a billion lines of wedding-related word-vomit (DRESS SHOPPING THIS WEEKEND OMG HOLY CRAP) so instead I'll end with the standard blogger-feedback-seeking question: Did you ever grab an item (purchase or secondhand) that you didn't think you'd wear but ended up loving?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

*slowly recovering from the shakes*




t-shirt: Old Navy
capris: Target (belt came with them)
flats/boat shoes: Famous Footwear
necklace: Express via Discount Fashion Warehouse

Guys, our house was without internet for the entire weekend! I don't know how that would really affect you, but I seriously just typed "Guys, our internet was without internet." Suffice to say I experienced some serious withdrawal. And of course, no internet means no Netflix/Hulu, and I had a whole weekend of Matt-working-so-I'm-home-alone to fill. Fortunately, the lovely Ally serendipitously came to the rescue! She recently finished watching Wonderfalls, a 2004 show that was cancelled before its time, and thought I'd enjoy it as well. So she sent me the DVD box set! It arrived late last week, just in time to entertain me through this difficult time. I blasted through all 13 episodes in three days. Thank goodness for good friends, amiright?

I also got a lot of wedding crafting done this weekend. I'm handmaking all the flowers for the ceremony reception--that's my bouquet and tossing bouquet; eight bridesmaid bouquets; nine boutineers for Matt/his groomsmen; various corsages/boutineers for parents, grandparents, readers and ushers; plus approximately 30-or-so bouquets for the centerpieces. I'm not gonna lie, the whole thing was really overwhelming and kind of had me in cold sweats at first, but I've since narrowed down the styles of flowers I'm making (some are on my Pinterest board, others I learned from my cousin, who did the same thing for her wedding next month) and the materials I'm using. I'll probably do a full tutorial on each of the bud styles I'm using and how I stemmed/arranged them once I'm done.

I've also been using the string-and-fire method (a la this) to cut the tops off of wine bottles to make vases. I've ruined several of my first attempts, but after a little trial and error I think I have the process almost down. Which means I just have to keep drinking lots and lots of wine, I guess. Tutorial to come on that one as well, though the video I linked is pretty entertaining in its own right.

Oof, I didn't mean for this whole post to go wedding-centric, but lately I can't help myself. We'll be at the 11-month mark as of Monday, which is unreal, and I'm going dress shopping this weekend, so my brain is on semi-permanent wedding mode for the time being. Sorrynotsorry. Here's a pic of me making a weird face to make it up to you.