Anthro-A-Holic Reviews

With my house in shambles as the process of moving continues, Justin and I went to visit the mall on Saturday so that I could get my hair cut and finish accessorizing an outfit for an upcoming event. Of course, no trip to the mall is complete without a stop by Anthropologie, but Anthropologie wasn't the only store I went to. In fact, Justin and I went to a few stores and bothered a number of sales associates as I searched high and low for perfection. (You have no idea how difficult perfection can be to find!) Here's a recap:

The first store I went to was, of course Anthropologie. I had some returns to make and I wanted to take a glance at their sale section. I admit I also took a peek at their regular section as well. With such a great return policy, awesome customer service, and the ever-changing yet dependable sales rack, it's hard not to continue to shop at this store.

One of the first items I pulled from the sales rack was the Geojacquard Dress. I'm honestly not sure why I pulled this dress from the sales rack, I thought I remembered liking this review a bit more than I currently do. Nevertheless, I tried this dress on and loved it. (Justin loved it too which is always a good sign.) I initially tried on a size 0 which was tight through the chest (which is the same problem most reviewers on the Anthropologie site had). I then tried on a size 2 which fit well even if it was a bit difficult to zip. (I think the problem was in the type of zipper rather than the dress being too tight for me.) The dress is a tad bit short (even on shorter gals!) and fell a few inches above my knees with the natural waist actually sitting at my natural waist! (Hooray!) Interestingly, the dress falls a bit lower in the back (to aid in slimming I guess?). It also has pockets!  How many dresses have pockets?!

The Geojacquard dress reminded me of something from the 70s. It was very slimming and the fabric was nice and thick. More or less, I loved it. Now if only I can find an occasion to wear it…

Before I deserted the Geojacquard dress, I tried on the Sprig Belt with it just to see what it would look like. I wasn't expecting much, but I ended up loving it. Maybe this belt doesn't necessarily go with that dress, but I definitely loved the idea.

I tried on the size small and it fit perfectly; this belt definitely fits true to size. It's a lovely belt wherein the hook has a bit of an old, vintage vibe and I like the holes throughout the belt and the character they add to it. My one concern, even though I purchased it anyway, is that the belt might not hold up over time; it seems a bit fragile. I've seen the way my husband's belts fall apart from being bent backward and forward so much for him to wear and I'm a little bit afraid that this might happen with this belt as well. Of course I don't wear the same belt every day for weeks and months on end, so perhaps the belt may have some staying power in my closet. Either way, it is a very cute belt with a cute springtime name and I can't wait to hook it up with some cute dresses to create a bit of magic. :)

One of the dresses I was most excited about trying on was the Tiered Tulle Chemise. While I was concerned that it might be too close to nightware to be worn as a dress, the people at my local Anthro had it styled with a sweater in such a way that it looked like a fun, simple summer dress that could be quite comfortable to roam around France in, so I picked up the navy version in an xs and took it to the fitting room. (They don't offer multiple colors online, but they definitely had them in stores.) First of all, let me say, the fabric is a dream! It is sooo soft, light, and comfortable. I'm certain for some girls this chemise will look wonderful on and be the perfect dress for summer, but for me, I decided it looked too much like a gown even after adding a belt to accessorize it. It was very unfortunate. :(

The last thing I tried on was this Pleidas Cardigan in an xs. It's not at all something I would normally choose for myself, but I thought I would try it since it was paired with the Tiered Tulle Chemise. Let me just say that the weight of this sweater is about 4 times the weight of the dress or more; they seemed like such an awkward pairing and really looked like it on me. Perhaps it would be an awesome set if you are still experiencing below 40 degree weather, but I found this sweater (cardigan) to be thick, hot, and itchy. Plus, I was totally not into the belt; I think it's silly looking. If you are interested in a thick sweater like this and you typically have a boho chic look, I think this could be a great cardigan. It just wasn't really my style.

In getting ready for an event, I went looking through Nordstrom for a cardigan and found this Snake Chain Layering necklace in silver which is much much much prettier in person. Justin had left me to to search on my own; I'm thinking that maybe he learned his lesson. (i.e. If you leave your wife for more than 2 seconds, she will find at least one more thing to spend money on!) The necklace is far more delicate looking and not the huge monstrosity of chains that it looks like in this photograph; plus, the price! At $18, I felt like I was getting a steal! I so rarely see prices that low at Nordstrom, I could hardly believe it. I've been looking for a necklace like this for years, and it was the perfect accessory to go with my dress.

Another difficult thing for me to find is a cardigan to wear over dresses. Obviously this one is not ideal, but it definitely served the purpose I was hoping for. It's called the Cropped Cotton Cardigan (such a unique name!) and it is super, super thin. Justin almost considered having me get the small in white because it is so thin and you could see the sleeves of my dress right through it. Instead I went with the black in an extra small due to the better fit. This cardigan does seem to have wide shoulders and it is hard to get positioned just right, but the cotton fabric is nice and light for summer. Given that I have been looking for months for this type of sweater, I was content with my find. :) It comes in 5 colors: aqua, navy, pink, black, and white.

Last but not least, I finally received the Free People Lace Inset Zip Up Hoodie in the mail in both xs and s. Unfortunately, I was not happy with either, and that is why I am providing a second review. As it turns out, even the xs is too big! The Hoodie is shorter in the front (an inch or two) than in the back. The xs has a much wider circumference than I was expecting around the waist and the shoulders were either designed for a much larger person (a body builder perhaps?) or a man. Actually, perhaps this hoodie was designed for Barbie with a much smaller waist and hip circumference to chest circumference, but even that doesn't explain the wide shoulders. I haven't even brought up the tight fitting arms. This hoodie, even at $30 is still a bad fit for me, and I'm not even sure I would pay $15. Buy at your own risk.

Did you do any shopping this weekend? Is the beautiful spring weather encouraging you to update and clean out your wardrobe?

Inspiration & Friday Thoughts

1. Ira Glass on Creativity

One of the blogs I follow posted this video, and now here I am posting it again. The truth is, I have a love/hate relationship with photography. When I capture a stunning image that even impresses me, I love it. When I am fighting it, trying to get color right, trying to figure out composition, trying to find emotion in a piece, I get frustrated. (Not unlike writing half a million blog posts every day and still feeling like your words aren't captivating enough.) Anyway, it was nice hearing Ira Glass say that perhaps the reason my work disappoints me is so that I can keep improving and getting better. Giving up is never the answer.

2. Insta-Snippets

Sunsets are beautiful and strawberry balsamic vinaigrette is delicious.

3. This Weekend

I get to:
- Map out Paris and decide on a hotel/AirBnb rental.
- Finish/re-do my résumé and apply for a job.
- Pack up my life.

What are you doing this weekend? Have you seen or done anything particularly inspirational recently?

Five Pinterest Snacks

I'm hungry, so today I'm going to blog about food! Woot! Here are 5 pin-worthy snacks that I haven't tried yet, but I want to.

1. Sweet Baby Cheesus

I'm not even going to ask about the name.

The biggest problem I see with this recipe is that they call for crescent rolls. I can totally see Justin making his own crescent roll mix just so that he doesn't have to buy the canned stuff from the grocery store (even if the canned stuff was my favorite at holidays growing up!). Also, what is camembert cheese? Is it smelly? Or like brie? Whatever. The image makes it look delicious! Creamy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Yum.

(I said I was providing snack ideas, not necessarily healthy ones!)

2. Peach, Tomato & Mozzarella Crostini

First of all I love balsamic vinegar, peaches, tomatoes, mozzarella, and homemade french bread; there is no way this is not going to be a win for me. Second of all, I live in Georgia, king of peaches. (Well, actually I think we're king of peanuts, but who is counting?) Yes, this looks like a fun and delicious summer snack that I must try asap.

3. Avocado and Bacon Grilled Cheese

It's bacon week and bacon in this form sounds delicious! I've had other versions of your typical grilled cheese, but I've never had bacon and avocado with it. I suppose this might be the perfect week to try it!

4. Bacon Wrapped Pineapple

Let us continue on our bacon roll and pair it with pineapple and brown sugar. I've had bacon wrapped chicken before and bacon wrapped steak, but seeing the combination of bacon and pineapple is a first for me. It looks amazing and it sounds amazing. :)

5. Bacon Asparagus Pasta

Justin and I considered making this last night to go along with our dinner, but we didn't have any asparagus and we didn't think broccoli would taste as good. :) I think this delicious six ingredient pasta dish would be fantastic during the summer. (Or is it spring when asparagus is at it's peak?) Anyway, that + bacon (during bacon week) sounds mmmmm!!!! :)

Hope you all find a fantastic snack to try! Don't you just love pinterest?

Frozen vs. Brave

Back at Christmas time, Justin's family was planning on going to the theatre to see a movie. The choices were Frozen, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, or Saving Mr. Banks. I held off until very recently seeing Frozen. Disney movies were sub-par up until Pixar and even then I am incredibly particular about movies. I finally gave in when I kept hearing good things about it. Commentary has died down about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Lego Movie, but people were still highly anticipating the release of Frozen to DVD and cd. At that point I knew I had to see it.

Not to give away too much, but the story isn't quite what the trailer implies. Elsa was born with a magic power; depending on her mood, she can create snow and ice (including ice castles and snow people). When she was very young, her and her younger sister Anna were playing in snow created by this magic power when Anna gets hurt. Elsa feels guilty and spends the rest of her childhood separated from her sister trying to learn to control her powers. Years and years later, with the girls' parents dead, Elsa comes of age to take over the kingdom of Aerendale as queen. Anna is excited about getting to see people and no longer being shut up in the castle; she hopes to meet the man of her dreams. Elsa is worried about accidentally losing control of her powers. When Anna becomes engaged to a man after only a couple of hours and asks Elsa for permission to marry him, Elsa gets angry and her emotions cover all of Aerendale in snow as she runs off to the mountains to hide. Anna spends the rest of the movie trying to find her sister and bring summer back to Aerendale meeting a mountain man and a few snow men along the way. Can Anna bring back summer?

My first critique was with the plot; I truly felt the full story was not told in a complete way. How did Elsa get her powers? How was she able to hide her powers from other people for all of those years? Who were these trolls that saved young Anna from death? Why are the trolls to be trusted? Why does Olaf come to life the second time he is created but not the first? Why does young Anna slip on ice but older Anna doesn't? And the most basic question of all – does Anna really not feel love at any other point in the story?

I think the writers could have skipped out on Olaf's summer song and the trolls' song; I skipped both while watching the movie. Overall the music was fantastic and if this movie were a broadway show, I think it would be a hit. The music was phenomenal and the female singers really held their own. I was a little put off by the use of words like "gassy" in the middle of the song "For the First Time in Forever", but otherwise the music is what held this movie together.

Justin had problems with the characters being lit differently from the background. I was willing to let a few things go given this was a Disney movie pandering to children. There were definitely a few scenes I would have taken out if the story was written for adults. I specifically did not like the huge eyes on the characters or the tiny waists. (I was especially interested in the waist size after the whole debacle regarding Barbie in Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition. A friend recommended I watch Brave if I wanted to see larger waist sizes, which as you'll see, I did.) The only other thing that bothered me is why they made Elsa look evil during the song "Let It Go" as well as taking her from a nice conservative dress to putting her in heels and allowing her to show some leg. Was her character suppose to be sexy? Evil? The songwriters said in an interview that they wrote the song for a character that was not evil. (see 3:40)

As for the good things? I already mentioned the music. The dresses – I'd love to have Anna's green dress or Elsa's blue dress! :) The relationship between Kristoff and his reindeer – too funny. It's almost like the reindeer is a dog. Olaf's introduction for himself: "Hi! I'm Olaf, and I like warm hugs!" :) Adorable. And my favorite scene ever:

Okay - minus the fall.

Seriously, you should see this movie if only for the music. Hopefully this is a sign that Disney is improving and it will only get better from here. Only time will tell…

Moving on to Brave

I have to admit I hadn't seen a trailer for this movie in years; I went into this movie blindly not that the trailer would have done me much good.

Merida is a princess and she has come of age to marry. Her family has men come to compete for the honor or marrying Merida, but Merida is uninterested. She runs off into the woods, stumbles upon a witch, obtains a spell, and attempts to change her fate so she can have her freedom, whatever that means.

With no music, the characters lacking character, and the story being silly I do not recommend the movie at all. What "freedom" was Merida seeking? The freedom to live with her parents forever? How old is she anyway?

I feel like I have given you more to go off of for Frozen, but Brave was just not a great movie. It was a waste of time, both in the making of it and in the watching of it. I definitely had things I disliked in Frozen, but at least there was a story worth seeing (or hearing via music).

Have you seen either Brave or Frozen? What are your thoughts on these movies?

Allergic to Debt

Justin bought a truck. We're going to Europe. We already owed money on credit cards. And we're moving.

*cue crazy sneezing*

Needless to say this post is the last thing I want to do. Share that I am broke with the entire internet? haha. :(

The Good News:
- We were really close to paying off our second credit card this month before we bought the truck.
- We bought the truck in credit cards and cash. (I like having some emergency savings otherwise we could have paid completely in cash.)
- Next month, we will get our security deposit back, along with some extra money that has been worked out with our landlord.
- In May we will be cutting back on all of the bills and living expenses saving approximately 80% more than we currently are. (I made that figure up.)

The Bad News:
- We have 2 more large expenses I want to make before the trip to Europe. (Rental car and Paris hotel.)
- Paying off the credit card just got that much more difficult (in terms of extra money on it).

Net Income: Yeah, I expected that. :( Down by approximately 50%.

Assets: Down by 11%. (Actually calculated that.) Not great, but not bad. Higher than we were in November. I get to add some money to it next week.

Net worth: I think what this graph says is not to sue us. If you do, you won't get hardly anything. ;)

We went from owing the least we have owed in the past 6 months to owing more than we ever have! Ahh! Stress!

BUT we wouldn't owe as much if we hadn't bought Justin a truck. If we hadn't bought Justin a truck, we wouldn't be moving to such a cheap location. If we weren't moving to such a cheap location, we wouldn't be able to conquer our debt goals more quickly and build up a down payment for a house. Plus, Justin needed a vehicle. That is how I am consoling myself.

I will not compare my financial status with all of those million dollar retired-by-30 bloggers who own a house, have 2.5 kids, and travel the world. I am doing the best I can with what I have to pay down debt and get myself (and my husband) into a better situation financially. We will do it, but it takes time and hard work; it doesn't happen overnight.

Have you made any positive or negative decisions recently that have impacted you financially?

Weekend Moving + Spring Cleaning & Organizing Tips

image from MorgueFile

As you all know, Justin and I are in the throes of moving. One of the positives is that our [current] house has been sold and will be torn down which means no major move-out cleaning for us! Yay! The negative, of course, being that 1) we have to move without actually wanting to and 2) the cute little house we are currently in will be torn down to build a bigger, fancier, more expensive house. :( One of the charms of the area we currently live in is the wide variety of house styles that date back to the 1920s with more current styles being those of y'know … 2014. I would certainly hate to see the day when all of the 1920s style houses are torn down and replaced with *just* the more recent styles. That would really depress me. :(

Given that we had a month and a half to move, we are progressing slowly and spending time going through every bit of junk we currently own. We're recycling, trashing, selling, organizing, fixing, and cleaning every single thing.

Cleaning Tips

1) Over the weekend I learned that mixing a bit of salt and white vinegar into a paste works wonderfully for getting that baked on gunk off of casserole dishes! Woot! They look like new again! But then we forgot to include the lids in the moving box…

2) We bought those rejuvenate wood markers at Home Depot. The ones that get the drink rings off of wood work great! I simply cleaned with a dust cleaner, used the pens on the areas that wouldn't come clean, and went over my pen markings with a paper towel to get the excess pen fluid off the wood. It looks as good as new! The wood-colored markers that cover scratches however don't work as well on all types of wood. I found that on the black painted bedroom furniture, the wood-colored markers worked wonderfully. (How did we scratch it up so much?!) On our dining room furniture, the markers looked red rather than brown. Perhaps we can use some wood stain to fix that instead?!

3) The refinish grout markers do make bathroom grout look amazing, but I strongly doubt I will be using them again. Obviously, when I have my own house, I will just re-do the grout (and probably the tile). I'm all for a cleaner look, but I actually want the floor to BE cleaner.

Organizing Tips for Moving

1) Justin and I have been going through everything and when we box things, I am certain to label everything. There is always that off-chance that you will pack something away and need it five days later.

2) All of the fabric we own is going in tupperware. I'm a little apprehensive about packing books away in boxes, because of carpet beetles, but I won't take any chances with fabric. Carpet beetles like eating little holes in your fabric. It's pretty depressing when it's your favorite clothing item. You can get them by shopping at thrift stores or bringing them into your home through the use of cardboard boxes. They are super hard to get rid of. I prefer to limit cardboard boxes, excess paper, uncontained food, and wash all clothes the minute they come through the door. Using expensive tupperware to move clothing will hopefully prevent us from having to ever experience those little critters again.

3) Fix and clean things before packing them away. How much time do you really want to spend cleaning and fixing thing when you finally get where you are going? Furthermore, if you toss what you don't intend on keeping, then you don't have to move it! Huzzah! Win!

4) Organize your boxes. Put clothes with clothes, sewing fabric with sewing fabric, kitchen pots and pans with other kitchen pots and pans. Do you really want to open half a box in one room then have to carry it to another? Plus, if you're anything like me, you unpack as you need it. Obviously, if you don't need it, you can trash the box after a given time.

5) Start in the least used room. It's just easier. (Make sure to check in closets and built-in drawers.)

6) Rather than using extra boxes (money and time), move your drawers separately from bedroom furniture. Or rather, pull them out, move the furniture to the vehicle, put the drawers back in, tape them in place, and when you get to your new home you have one less chore!

Anyway, after spending two days (or was it three?) packing and moving, Justin and I took the time out to watch both Frozen and Brave in a movie night at home. Thoughts on those tomorrow.

Hope you all are having a fantastic Monday, and that my moving tips are helpful to someone. :)

5 Things That Made Me Smile This Week

Sometimes life can really get you down. Things aren't going the way you want them to, and you get more and more depressed. I've found that the best cure, for me, to get out of that depression is to think back on the best things that have happened to you during a particular day (week, month, year, and so on…). If you really start thinking about it, it is easy to find things to be grateful for or even just little things that made you happy during the day.

I'm not actually depressed this week, but I still thought I'd share a few things that made me smile.

1. Justin's new truck.

Justin has owned two trucks (now three) and one car in the time I have owned my Chrysler sebring. Every vehicle was old, high mileage, and falling apart. My dad, the mechanic, always did what he could to make the vehicles more fashionable, but the end result was that I was never comfortable riding in them. The vehicles were not reliable and they weren't something you could comfortably drive to a wedding without worrying your suit (or dress) would get dirty. Of course, the vehicles were what Justin could comfortably afford; there is definitely something to say for living within your means. :)

Now that Justin has a new(er) truck, I am the one to suggest we drive the truck instead of my car. It smells clean inside, the interior is suitably nice, and the vehicle is quiet with less mileage than my car currently has. It makes me smile to know that we could afford a vehicle for Justin that is much nicer than anything he has owned before. I'm hoping it will last him for years and years to come.

2. My parent's helpfulness.

As my parents get older, there is less and less they can help me with, but I love that they still try as hard as they can. Between helping us talk the price down on Justin's new vehicle and using their gas and time to help us move when I'm certain they would rather be doing other things (I would rather be doing other things!) all makes me smile and feel loved.

3. Justin's patience

Not only did I manage to give Justin my cold, but he has been incredibly patient as I get over it. (Yes, I probably should have gone to see a doctor by now.) I called him this afternoon and asked what I should take to control my sneezing, coughing, and sniffling without making me drowsy, and he recommended something. (My own personal doctor!) It's meaningful to me that I can call him about nearly anything I need help or advice for while he is busy at work, and he makes the time for me. Aww…  :) Some might say it's because he loves me; it's really hard to say for certain though. ;)

4. Children's Smiles

On Tuesday, I didn't have to work late but I agreed to. I took the two boys I was watching to the park and gave their dad a chance to relax. When I mentioned that it was time to go, the oldest looked at me and said "why?!" (Note: He and his brother had not been getting along all afternoon until we got to the park; then they got along great!) I couldn't come up with a good answer, so I called Justin. I had decided that when Justin got there we would leave. It was so nice (and fun) seeing the kids play "Cops and Robbers", getting along so wonderfully, and enjoying spending time with me.

5. You can lose weight by swinging!

Did you know that? 200 calories for an hour of swinging! Now if only I can convince the 4 year old that he doesn't need pushing! :)

I love swinging, and it brings back so many childhood memories. I'm not sure the laidback swinging I was doing on Tuesday resulted in any calories being lost, but it's still a fun thought that you can lose weight doing something so enjoyable and relaxing.

What are five things that have made you smile this week? Do you have anything in common with me?

3 Blogging Tips

One of my favorite things to do is to write. I love writing blog entries, essays, e-mails, … Writing allows me to free my mind, focus on a topic, and say what it is that I want to say. As an introvert, often times saying what I want to say can be really difficult. The words don't necessarily come to me, and if they do, they aren't always the correct words. When I write, I have the opportunity to edit what I'm saying until I can find the correct words to convey my feelings or thoughts on any particular subject.

Over the past year, I have found a few tricks to make blogging a bit easier. (It's also important to note, as I've said before, blogging is not the same as journaling.)

1. Find a community list of topics or create your own topics in advance.

I can't tell you how many times this has helped me in the past. There are days when a topic simply does not come to you, and that is when referring to a list of options makes writing a post sooooo much easier!

2. Write posts in advance.

So you are going out of town for two weeks? No problemo. Write your posts early; they will be easy to post on the road.

I'm not a "write posts early" kind of gal. That's why some days you see my posts early in the morning … and sometimes they don't go online until late in the afternoon. Most bloggers would say to remain consistent. I'm sorry! Love you all! :)


Sometimes it's easy to say "I have to stay inside to blog", but if you never get out of the house and do anything, you won't have anything to say! In my opinion, that is the difference between a blog and a journal. With a blog you can provide advice, share your experiences, and focus on ONE topic. A journal post would not be as concise, although I am certain I definitely slip and do a few of those every now and then.

3.5. Have FUN!

I always include this in my list of tips, but, if you aren't having fun, why are you doing it? If it's to develop artistry or communication skills, I think those are also good reasons. Really you just need to make sure you are interested enough in what you are doing to continue.

Did I miss anything important? (I know I missed at least one thing!) What keeps you returning to blogs you read? If you blog, what advice would you share with me?

Shopping with Me

Last night, I went to both of my favorite stores, Anthropologie and Free People. Anthro was having a sale, and I wanted to check out the merchandise before buying something I didn't think I'd like. I thought I would review a few of the items I tried on and kind of give you an idea of what awesome things are available in the stores right now.

On Monday when this dress went on sale, I immediately picked up the phone to call my local Anthro and get them to place a hold on the XS version of the Midday dress. I wasn't sure if I would love the dress, but I knew that the sleeves were adorable. The dress looked casual enough to wear as a day dress, but I thought it might also be easy enough to dress up for a (more casual) night out. It's always amazing what a scarf and some tights will do! :)

The dress was very comfortable on. It was a bit loose through the arms and chest area and looked more like a boat neck dress than the typical rounded neck you tend to see with dresses. I like the boat neck style so that was ok with me. :) The waist fell to just the right place on my torso making me look thin rather than adding weight like these types of dresses tend to do for my body.

In the end, I returned this dress to the sale rack. As cute and comfortable as it was, it was a bit too casual for me.

When I saw the Jus De Fruit glasses on sale at Anthropologie, I was shocked and immediately ordered some from the website. There is quite a story behind these glasses – I originally saw them where I babysit. I would drink a glass of water or lemonade from them, and they were the absolute perfect size and easy to hold. I introduced Justin to them when he babysat with me late one night there, and he loved them too! But we couldn't afford the ones from Anthropologie at $7 a glass. Then last fall Justin and I found them on sale at the William Sonoma outlet store in north Georgia. We have used those glasses SOOOO much that when I emailed Justin that they were on sale again, at Anthro, we went ahead and bought a few more. I highly recommend these glasses.

I actually just saw this "online exclusive" Hampstead Pitcher today on the Anthro website. I think it is crazy adorable and just begging to be used with a flower arrangement. :)

I didn't try this Lacestitch Cardigan on, but you can bet I will be keeping my eye on it in the coming weeks, praying it goes to the sale rack. Made by Angel of the North, the fabric is super soft. It comes in 4 colors - ivory, terracotta, grey, and mint. I'm torn between my love of the mint and the ivory. Ivory goes with everything, but the mint is closer to the turquoise color that I love. Hmmm… Which should I choose? ;)

Before I left Anthro, I had to try on the Ninette Skirt. It had been hanging out in the sale rack at Perimeter for a while, but it wasn't my size. When I saw it in my size at Lenox, I just had to buy the xs. I think the skirt is incredibly cute, but it is definitely longer on petites than it is on taller women. For instance, the skirt goes down to my knees or longer depending on where on my hips/waist I wear it. Luckily, the waistband is stretchy, so you can wear it as high or as low as you want. Not sure if I should say this or not, but I found the zipper on the xs version of the skirt I tried on to be completely unnecessary as I could slip the skirt on without undoing the zipper. (Note: I do not recommend you try it simply because I was able to. If you do, you try it at your own risk.) Justin wasn't in love with the fabric, but I bought the skirt anyway. I'm going to try it out with a few shirts I have at home before deciding whether or not to keep it. I just didn't want to see the last xs get sold before I had the chance to make up my mind. (Shopping late at night without dinner can be difficult.)

About a month or so ago, I tried these cute bracelets on with something else from Free People. They were accidentally in the sale section, and I thought they were adorable (or pretty). Unfortunately, I don't typically wear gold and these bracelets were far too big for my wrists. Oh well.

Another thing I've been watching is the Lace Inset Zip Up Hoodie in navy. I thought it was gorgeous and would look cute with a skirt. I haven't actually tried it on, but I did order it from the store in both xs and s to be shipped to my house. When I saw it on sale for $30 at my local Free People store, you can imagine I was excited; the current sale price at Free People is $128 which I can't even imagine paying for this piece despite how cute it is. Other Free People reviewers have commented that it fits weird; I'll have to let you all know if that is the case.

Another top at Free People that caught my eye is the Trapeze Cowl Neck. I'm not sure if I will order after reading the reviews, but I have to admit that this looks very cute. I love the soft, flowy, light, feminine look of this sweater, but I'm not sure I'm interested in having a beige and pink sweater, as one reviewer commented that it was; I much prefer the ivory look that the model is wearing.

About two weekends ago, I went looking for dress up shoes at Von Maur and I came across these gorgeous Caparros Kathy Sparkle Sandals which I highly recommend. They have a kitten heel which I imagine isn't great for most shorter ladies (myself included!), but the shoes themselves are incredibly comfortable and great if you are looking for shoes to wear to an upcoming event. I have to admit I was originally looking for nude shoes, but these were so adorable and looked much better with my outfit, so I bought both! After spending 6 months looking for shoes, when you finally find a pair or two that you like, it's hard to pass them by.

What have you seen in stores recently that has interested you? Anything pretty or fun? Will you be shopping for anything I've mentioned above?

P.S. I have the following song stuck in my head. Help?! I haven't even seen the movie! Should I?

My First Car

On the heels of yesterday's post, I decided to answer the SITS Girls writing prompt about my first car … except that I don't remember much about my first car.

Chrysler sebring coupe

To be honest, I don't know much about cars in general. I can tell you that I think a car is pretty, but when it comes to recognizing cars by their top or even who owns said car, I'm no good at it. My dad, being a mechanic, restored a 1960-something camaro when I was a child, and he spent so much time working on it and going to car shows that somewhere along the way I decided that all cars looked alike and they weren't worth placing much importance on. I'd take a book to the car show or watch a movie in the huge van my parents owned at the time. As I got older, the only real way I could be convinced to go was if we were planning on eating dinner out or some shopping could be combined with the trip. Car shows were associated with b-o-r-i-n-g.

So when I was 10 and my dad offered to give me the camaro as my first car, I freaked and said "NO!" thinking I would have to drive this fancy non-air conditioned vehicle and not wreck it when I turned 16. Can you even fathom trying to drive a car that old that someone had taken such good care of over the years? (We're talking tearing the car apart and rebuilding it from the bottom up. We won't even talk about the trouble 5-year-old me would have gotten into had I scratched the paint!)

Unfortunately, ten year old me didn't know at the time that my dad was merely trying to decide which of his two children would eventually own the family heirloom. He never had any intention of 16-yr-old me driving it. (As an "antique", it has special car insurance wherein only adults over 21 can drive it.) Instead, my dad was going to put me in a small white sedan that used to be my mother's. A zillion years later, I really have no regrets though since I know my brother will take better care of the camaro than I would ever know how to.

I'd love to say that I drove my mom's white sedan for years and years and years, but that simply was not the case. My family lived on a road that was difficult to make a left turn at. Only a year and a half into driving, I attempted to make that left turn and instead got hit, totalling the car. :( It was still driveable, but the repairs would have cost more to fix the car than replace it. My dad kept the car and sold it to my uncle while I got the fun of going car shopping!

During this crazy weekend of car shopping, my parents ended up buying me my current used Chrysler Sebring LXI. It was between that and a new Toyota Corolla, which I did not like at all. Even though my chrysler wasn't technically my first car, I still consider it to be my first. I can still remember that first time of driving it home from the dealership. Obviously I was proud of my beautiful new car, but I was also scared to death of wrecking it! I begged my parents to drive it, which they refused. "If [I was] too afraid to drive it, then why did we buy it?" they questioned.

Since that day, my car has been in countless accidents (most not my fault, surprisingly!) and I have spent TONS of money on car repairs. I have put 160,000 miles on it since I got it, and despite all of it's faults (and the fact that kids make it hard to keep the interior clean!), I still love it to pieces. I think that's kind of the way you have to feel when your purchase a car; otherwise, if the car is already busted up and falling apart, you never really feel the initiative to keep the car clean and avoid wrecks (even if they are just running into poles or trees and not actual people!). I know that when the time comes to replace my car, it will be very difficult, not only because of all of my memories, but also because of the many aspects of my car that have spoiled me throughout the years (power windows, power locks, moon roof, leather seats, etc…). I am truly not looking forward to that day even though I am certain I will fall in love with my next car just as much as I am with my "first".

Do you have fond memories of your first car? Was it passed down from a parent or relative? Did you wait until you were 30 to even own a car? If you are still driving your first car, how long have you owned it?

Weekend Recap: Buying A Truck

Over the weekend, as I was packing, Justin went out to work on his truck. We knew the truck needed new tires, but he was going to fix the brakes. As he worked, he realized that 1) he couldn't find the problem with the brakes and 2) the truck had more problems than he remembered. I guess a year + of biking to work will do that. You forget your vehicle problems when you don't drive it.

Stressed out, we went to visit my dad to see if he could help. My dad is a mechanic and he can find a cheap way to fix almost any problem a vehicle might have. He also has the benefit of being a people person.

During our visit, Justin and my dad start talking about selling Justin's truck. It was just talk at the time. Nothing set in stone. We just knew that fixing Justin's truck for long commutes would be time consuming and expensive. Since Justin and I had already talked about replacing my vehicle, we decided to go out and look to see what cars were currently available for purchase, not really intending on buying anything.

Let me make a long story short – Justin bought a 2006 Ford F-150.

It's a big truck. Like seriously BIG. It wasn't what we were looking for, and yet it was exactly what we were looking for. The price was right. We paid "cash" (or technically credit card as you'll see in financial updates). It has manual windows, manual locks, a few dings, but overall it is a beautiful, well-taken care of vehicle with (and this part is important!) air conditioning! Oh - and comfy seats. And low mileage! :)

I do have to say that if you know a mechanic, it is definitely preferable to take them car shopping with you. Especially if they are a people person. When I looked up prices later, I felt 95% confident that we could not have gotten the truck anywhere else for a better price. We go to pick it up tonight. (The original owner needed to finish cleaning his truck out.)

So what did you do over the weekend? Anything exciting? 

My Ideal Vacation

Ever since Justin and I found out our rental house was sold, we've been in high gear trying to make sure we had all of our ducks in a row. Granted we don't actually have ducks, but if we did I'm not entirely sure they would actually be in a row. As soon as we manage to get one in line, another wanders off.

Ducklings are adorable, but seriously! I'm ready for some peace! (No, Justin, that does not mean I want duckling stew for dinner! Killing baby ducklings is not the answer!)

When I saw the SITS Girls writing prompt: writing about my ideal "getaway", I almost felt like crying. I am currently in the midst of planning my ideal vacation, and it is not ideal in the least! Don't get me wrong; I couldn't be luckier. There is not a day that goes by when I don't count my blessings. I am married to the man of my dreams, and I am going on a crazy whirlwind adventure to watch a long-known friend get married. I know everything will come together awesomely, but I just think it's crazy how "ideal" looks in my mind compared to reality. I think I had this imaginary Disney-filled adventure in my head – the one where you fly to Paris on a magic carpet (with music of course!), have dinner on a perfectly starry night in a restaurant overlooking the city, and everything is magical and perfect. You don't question whether or not you can afford the trip or if the waiter will even understand what it is you want to eat. In my dreams, everyone speaks English, and I don't have to worry about overpacking.

I think, when it comes down to it, ideal is just an unachievable dream. Or, if you want to think about it in a different way, ideal is anything but perfect, organic, and simple, like the Disney movies would lead you to believe. Finding ideal (or making it happen) is difficult, challenging, and complicated. But perhaps that challenge is what makes the ideal so beautiful to begin with; why would it be a dream if it wasn't first and foremost a challenge?

When I break my European trip down to it's core – the vital elements – I find that not only am I living the dream, but that my experiences will be far better than any expectation Disney could have ever given me. (Maybe that's an exaggeration; Disney is pretty awesome!) I get to go to those locations I've always wanted to visit with friends and family that I love. Maybe, at some point before the trip, I will stop overthinking and over-analyzing every single element and learn to just enjoy the moments for what they are.

Then again, maybe not. ;)

What do you consider to be your ideal vacation? Do you have unrealistic Disney-like vacation expectations as well?

Hope everyone is having a fantastic Friday! The weather is gorgeous here, and I'm praying it stays this nice all weekend!

Walgreens Good & Delish Products Review

About two weeks ago, I was sent a package from House Party full of wonderful and delicious Walgreens Good & Delish products to review. I was very excited because the box of yumminess also contained some coupons that I was going to give away on the blog. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. The coupons I was sent expired within a week or so of my receiving them, so I knew that giving them away wasn't really a viable option. Nevertheless, I did want to review the products sent to me so that you would know whether or not you were interested in trying them. :) I haven't tried everything I was sent yet, but I have tried most of it.

The Party

Justin and I received two bags of most of the products to sample, so we knew we would have to get some help. Since my parents were on a diet, we had Justin's parents over. Prior to our sampling party we went to Café Alsace to grab a bit to eat; more specifically a delicious bite of French food. Justin and I ordered the "Taste of France" plate which contained a variety of cheese, baguette slices, walnuts, and grapes. I don't remember which cheeses were available on the plate, but, between the 4 of us including Justin's parents, we devoured the cheese rather quickly. :) (Justin's family is pretty well known for their love of cheese.) Next up was the entree. Of course Justin and I ordered the boeuf bourguignon with a bit of spaetzle on the side. Having never been to Germany or France, it was interesting getting to try restaurant-made boeuf bourguignon and spatzle and comparing them to Justin-made varieties of the same foods. I'm sure it will be even more in a few months when I get to try these foods in their home countries. :)

After our delicious and expensive dinner out, we returned home searching for something to compliment the food we had just eaten that wouldn't cost us any money. Searching our shelves, we decided to pull out the Walgreens Good and Delish products. We couldn't think of a better time to sample them!

Red Velvet Caramels

One of the first bags to be opened was that of the Red Velvet Caramels. Upon first look, they seemed to be tiny cake balls. We (or at least I) imagined that they would be tiny red velvet cake balls with a white chocolate shell and dark chocolate drizzled on the outside; that's what the picture looked like anyway. I guess I completely missed the bit about it being a "caramel". One bite and even the caramel lover among us, Justin's mom, was severely disappointed. These "cake balls" had a caramel texture but the red velvet cake flavor. They were chewy and the chocolate coating was almost not discernible in the palate. Needless to say, I promptly threw away both bags. Despite trying, not one of the four of us could even finish eating the caramel we had taken from the bag to try. We will not be purchasing those in the future.

Marshmallow S'mores

Next on the list of Good and Delish treats were the marshmallow s'mores. After a bite, Justin was one of the first of the group to recommend I try these, so I excitedly pulled one out of the bag. I guess I must have been disillusioned after having had actual s'mores made over a fire the week before, because these also disappointed me. More or less, you have a soft graham cracker (think old, not crisp) underneath a chewy marshmallow (not super chewy but not super soft either) covered in a soft dark shell. Anyway, I have decided that Easter candy is made better and tastes better than this even without the graham cracker. We still have another bag on the shelf, but I can't imagine I will be in too big of a hurry to finish them. :(

Cherry and Black Licorice

One of the next things we got to try was the cherry and black licorice. Actually, let me rephrase that… I tried the cherry licorice and let Justin try the black licorice since I don't like black licorice (or really twizzlers either). Well, WalGreens Good and Delish brand cherry licorice won me over. Yum! If starburst made a licorice, I imagine it would taste like the Good and Delish cherry licorice. It was delicious, and it was the first thing that disappeared from the products House Party sent me. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to buy it, but I would definitely eat it if given to me. :) Justin seemed to like the black licorice, so we will just assume if you like that sort of thing, you would like the Good and Delish black licorice too. :)

Justin's mom loves caramel, so when we pulled out these wannabe-turtles, we knew happiness would ensue. We weren't wrong. No descriptions of the balance between creamy caramel, delicious melt-in-your-mouth chocolate or scrumptious nuts is really necessary for these. If you like turtles (and not necessarily talking about the animal), you will love these. (I feel like there should be a vegetarian joke in here somewhere.)

The last thing I tasted were the dark chocolate almonds with sea salt. And yes, they were delicious. The chocolate is nice, dark, and scrumptious and the nuts have just a hint of sea salt that brightens up the dark flavor enough for even people who don't actually love dark chocolate (me) to like them. In case you were wondering, yum. :)

In Conclusion

While there were a few flavors Justin and I received in our box of goodness from House Party that we haven't tried, I can say with some certainty that the majority of Good and Delish products are just that -- good and delish. :) Have you had a chance to sample any of these products? I'd love to know what others think!

**All products were received free to try from House Party. All opinions are 100% my own.

Another Sick Day: Random Thoughts

I didn't sleep last night, and I thought I was doing good this morning by being up early. But no, my body decided to rebel. I'm feeling awful… :( Therefore this post is going to be pretty short.

1. I finally booked my hotel room for Paris. I used IHG's website, calling prior to booking and asking about the "best rate guarantee". They said they would match another site, so I went ahead and booked. Turns out they only match the price if the room details are all the same including the price (i.e. Euros to Euros rather than dollars to Euros). Of course, this is most likely because the first night is free if you can find a site with perfect price matching details within 24 hours after booking. I haven't been able to thus far, which is really sad since all I really wanted was a price match; a free night is nice, but I would be content just saving money. *shrugs* Read over the terms and don't trust a customer representative if you call. No matter what they claim on the phone, they won't follow through after you've paid for a non-refundable hotel room.

Something I discovered after booking, if you are looking for a room in another price (like Euros), a good place to start is Kayak. Up at the top right, you can change country rates or even just from dollars to Euros. It's a great way to compare hotel rates and make sure you find the current lowest rate available. :)

If we are going to look on the bright side, Justin and I will be staying in a room with an eiffel tower view our first night in Paris. I am definitely excited about that. :)

2. All night I had this song stuck in my head:

Yes, it is from Once. I can't help it! Once you see the broadway show, then watch the movie to make sure you weren't crazy when you decided you liked the movie, you can't help but have the amazing songs stuck in your head. :) It's quite possible I will post every Youtube video related to the movie on the blog, and you won't even have to see the movie! Truthfully, it is just a great movie that you should see.

In this scene, Marketa's character goes out to the store (I don't know why), and decides to listen to Hans' cd as she walks back. (This was 2006, before ipods and iphones with music were a big thing!) Anyway, I guess even though the movie doesn't make it clear, she creates her own song walking back home as she thinks about her husband who is no longer living with her. They are going through a difficult time or something like that. Or maybe she is thinking about Hans' character? I really don't know.

Anyway, I am love with this scene. I think Marketa Irglova is an amazing singer. Plus, the opening lines of "Are you really here? Or am I dreaming?" really make the scene seem magical. I kind of feel like she is sleep-walking. And this scene seems so different from the rest of the movie that her late night sleep-walking (or dreaming) really conveys the personal feelings of this character to the audience that she doesn't really ever convey to Glen Hansard's character. (Why didn't they give them names? Or is that part of the beauty and simplicity of the movie Once?)

3. I also watched this interview with Glen Hansard this morning when I was still feeling ok.

In the interview, he talks about busking, how he got started as a street performer, and his hopes for the future. I wasn't sure if I really liked him until I heard this interview. When he started talking about getting his voice to echo off of buildings and knowing that he had "really made it" as a musician, I started thinking he was awesome. The interview only got better though. He also talked about connecting with people and becoming one with the street, how he saw everyone that passed by and got to know people by their traits. Basically, this interview made him sound like a very interesting person that I would love to get to know on a personal basis and sit down to have coffee with. I don't even like coffee. ;) It also gave me a new respect for people that sing in the streets.

What have you been up to this week? Have you seen any awesome videos on Youtube? Are you as glad as I am that it's Wednesday?

Going to Great Lengths

Over the next year, Justin and I are taking on some fairly expensive tasks including:

- going to Europe
- paying off credit cards
- possibly buying a car

and (the big one)

- buying a house

I'm still a bit in shock at the changes we are expecting to make in the next year. Currently, we find ourselves going through our belongings as we pack them away not knowing exactly when we will pull them back out again. It's a very different moving experience that I haven't really ever dealt with before, and I'm trying to make sure that none of our important travel documents are lost in the shuffle. Neither of us really wants to move, and we are certainly not enjoying being sick during the process. Ugh. No matter how you look at it, these next few months are going to be expensive. Luckily, thus far this month, we haven't really seen much change in our budget yet.

Over the weekend we went to buy Justin some jeans, me some shoes, and boxes/tupperware for moving purposes. Justin was down to one pair of jeans without any holes in them, I had been looking for shoes since August (!), and we needed the boxes to pack our belongings in. I think I made Justin a little agitated as I pulled out my phone to get points with ShopKick, GapNSnap, KarmaBox, Mobee, and PunchCard along with my receipt snapping using ReceiptPal and Receipt Hog. (Shopping now takes a while.) The good news is that even though we spent a lot, I was able to get some of that money back. (I go to great lengths to save money when possible.)

Anyway, here are the graphs (that's all you really read these posts for anyway, right?):


We're doing really good at paying down debt this month! We're at the lowest amount since October!

Prediction: I suspect it will go up over the next 3 months, and then back down dramatically starting in June.


We're down from last month's assets by approximately $100.

Prediction: I suspect this number will continue to go down over the next 3 months, but it will probably start going up steadily (not dramatically) starting in June.

net worth

Our net worth is looking pretty bleh. We have less debt than we did in October, but we owe so much for student loans that it's barely noticeable.

net income

The good news is that, so far, we haven't spent more than we've made this month. That will probably change (tonight or this week) after we book a few things for our trip to Europe. We have so much left to do before we take on that adventure!

So finance people, or world travelers, do you have any advice for me on how to save money while traveling? Anything I should know in the next two to three months before I go to Europe?

What about fellow budgeteers? Are you doing well? Do you have any huge financial obligations coming up in the near future?

It Is You That I Love

Once is a small budget film that was created in 2006 featuring musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova as two friends who come together for one week to create music.

It's really a very simple story, but it is a beautiful story.

So when I found out it was coming to the Fox Theatre and that I could get tickets for half price, I knew the most difficult task would be convincing Justin to go.

Before I get into my review of the broadway musical, let me first say that the Fox Theatre in Atlanta might be one of the most beautiful venues that you can go to for a movie, theatre performance, or concert.

from A Design State of Mind

Travel Thru History

The Fox Theatre

Built in the 1920s by shriners in the Atlanta area who worked out a deal with William Fox to make their vision a reality, the building owners, within 2 years of it's creation, began facing financial difficulty forcing the building to shut down in 1932. It didn't take long before a new partnership was formed and the Fox re-opened in the 1940s as a "movie palace" showcasing a number of popular movies including the premieres of Gone With the Wind and the controversial Song of the South.

During the 1970s, as the Fox Theatre experienced a slow-time, the Southern Bell Company (now AT&T) attempted to buy the corner lot from the Fox Theatre. Atlanta was experiencing a huge economic growth and the spot seemed ideal for the Southern Bell headquarters. Considering the economic possibilities of having such a large company in the area, it looked as though the Fox Theatre was about to disappear forever.

Just in the knick of time Atlanta Landmarks Inc., a  nonprofit company committed to saving the theatre, purchased the property in 1975 putting together a wide-scale campaign encouraging Atlantans to "save the Fox!" The campaign ran for four years as the Fox was transformed into a multi-purpose performing arts center. Now, over 3 quarters of a million viewers per year attend the Fox Theatre to see concerts, broadway shows, and ballet performances.

New Georgia Encyclopedia

The Fox Theatre uses an Arabic motive throughout. While the entire theatre is absolutely gorgeous and worth a visit if you are ever in Atlanta, one of my favorite parts of the theatre are the 96 overheard "star" lights that flicker during performances. I truly cannot imagine a more beautiful, magical, or enchanting place to attend shows.

Once, the Broadway Show

As a general rule, I look for any excuse I can find to go to the Fox Theatre. I've been approximately five times in my entire life, and I look forward to each new visit with excitement. When I saw the tickets for Once on sale at Goldstar, I knew I had found my ticket in.

With the show starting at 7:30PM, Justin and I left work early, went home to get dressed up for the event, and then rushed out the door to pick up our tickets at the Box Office an hour before the show was scheduled to start. We didn't even have time to get dinner first! Needless to say, not having food probably didn't improve upon our lackluster experience of seeing Once as a broadway musical.

**Warning!! Spoilers may be present!!**

One of my favorite things about the movie Once is that it was low-budget and thus very simple and organic. Translated to the stage, simple, low budget, and organic are not quite the same. The writers for the stage script seemed to fill holes that were not necessarily part of the story with humor, or at least an attempt at humor, and provocativeness interspersed with foul language. Instead of being the sweet story of a friendship between an immigrant and street performer, the story became about how the street performer wanted to seduce the immigrant which, to me, is wrong in every sense of the story. So when you see the street performer going back to his girlfriend at the end of the broadway story, your only thought is that this guy must be sleeping around, trying to seduce every woman. And the way the immigrant talks?! She may be blonde, but all of a sudden she is incredibly naive and stupid as well.

Of course, the thing that really irks me more than anything else in the entire broadway show is how when the characters are suppose to be speaking Czech, they instead speak English and the Czech translation is shown up on a screen. While I don't speak Czech, I have a problem with the producer suggesting that no one in the American audience speaks Czech. It would have been far more meaningful if 1) either no Czech was presumed to be spoken or 2) if the characters had spoken in the language their character spoke. I can read translations just fine!

Then there is that one line where the street performer asks the immigrant if she loves her husband. The translation given on stage was "I love you", but from what I've read about the movie Once, the translation was suppose to be "It is you that I love".  A very small, minute difference, but in my mind it makes all of the difference in the world.

Another issue I had with the broadway show was the use of stage. It seemed as though the production and stage were put together on a shoestring budget. While I know the movie was filmed on a shoestring budget, the lack of different stages seemed to suggest that the characters were very different from the characters seen in the film. For example, at one point in the film Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard play their instruments together in an instrument shop because Marketa's character can't afford a piano. In the broadway production, it looked as though they were playing their music in a bar? I mean - what the …? That doesn't make any sense in the context of the story.

I hate to speak all negative about the play, but there really wasn't much that I liked in the broadway show other than the amazing performances by the actors and actresses.

One thing that I did love about the broadway show that the movie doesn't provide, is the on-stage bar open to the public and the very opening of the play wherein the performers host a mini-concert that leads straight into the story. I loved the lead-in, and I thought it was very well executed.


If you like the movie Once, I do not recommend going to see the broadway production unless you have a fantastic theatre to go to (and even then it's questionable). If you do go, I recommend keeping an open mind and viewing it more as an Irish concert with a bit of storyline to it rather than a story with a bit of music added. I also recommend not going on a rainy, cold night; I think that's how I ended up sick. :(

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I guess it's time to get back into the daily grind that is Monday.