Frites Review

"Fritz … Frightz … Fry-tez…"

A few Sundays ago my husband and I offered to prepare a large meal for a "coming out" of sorts for my brother. (No, he's not gay.) We had bought Anne de la Forest's book Frites during Anthropologie's 40% off sale items promotion and we thought that one of the fry recipes in this book would perfectly compliment the ribs Justin would be making. Having never studied another language, my brother had no idea how to pronounce Frites nor did he understand what they actually were. I can only imagine what images the word "frites" was conjuring up in his mind. After all, the cover of this cookbook doesn't necessarily give it away…

Forest's book Frites has been one of the most surprisingly essential books I have ever owned on a particular subject, especially fries. Covering everything from how to peel a potato to which types of oil you should use and including recipes where she encourages you to allow the fries to reach a certain temperature and provides background information on that specific recipe all make this cookbook a practical and helpful guide to the art of fry making, which is notably more complicated than I was even aware of!

Justin used the Belgian Frites recipe for this particular family dinner which is currently my favorite. Even my step-grandmother, a supposed expert in cooking, came away from the dinner begging Justin for the recipe. What did he do different than her? What could she improve on? (Justin is trying very hard to obtain the greatest-grandson-that-never-was award. I do believe that so far he's exceeding her own blood grandchildren in nearly every way except for the fact that he hasn't produced any heirs yet. *sigh*)

Nevertheless, the following is the recipe we used. I highly encourage getting your hands on this book and trying some of the many other delicious recipes if you like the Belgian frites! You won't regret it!

(And by the way, in case you are wondering, the meal went wonderfully. News was shared and everyone was happy, which is exactly how all meals that offer frites should be!)

not quite done…

Belgian Frites


1 kg (2.2 lb) Bintje, Yukon Gold or Similar Potatoes
2 litres (8.5 cups) of cooking oil
1/2 tsp of table salt
1/2 tsp of sea salt crystals


• Peel and wash the potatoes.
• Cut them into medium-sized sticks with a kitchen knife or potato cutter.
• Wash them thoroughly by leaving them to soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Repeat this process several times to remove all of the starch (the water used for the last soak should remain clear) and then dry them carefully with a clean, dry cloth.
• Heat the fryer to 140ºC (284ºF), Place the dried potato pieces into the basket.
• Lower the basket into the fryer and cook for 7 minutes. Lift out the basket, shake well to toss and drain the frites and leave to cool for 30 minutes.
• Reheat the oil to 170ºC (338ºF) and cook a second time for no longer than 3 minutes. Your frites should be perfectly crisp.
• Remove the frites, shaking well to drain them. Then tip them into a large bowl lined with kitchen paper.
• Salt generously with table salt. Add a sprinkle of sea salt just before serving.

* Don't you love January break? Today's post brought to you by the phrase "on your plate".
** I'm not getting paid or compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

Frontier Airlines Review

Photo taken by Andreas Traxler located on

Up until recently, all of my trips around the US have been taken by car. My parents didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up … or at least not enough extra in the bank account to splurge on plane tickets. I don't feel like I missed out on anything in particular. We lived (and still live) within driving distance of many fantastic places. Road trips to the Alabama Space Station, the Tennessee Aquarium (before Georgia had one), Disney World, Savannah, Charleston, and even DC were all within our reach. Throughout my entire childhood I never flew anywhere … until I went to New York City in high school shortly before 9/11. 

I digress.

The point is that I haven't had a lot of experience flying.

In September I spotted a "deal" for a flight to DC, a place Justin and I had been wanting to visit for a while. Justin has friends that live there. They had been down to see us at least twice since moving there, but we had never been to see them. Of course, the deal was with the badly reviewed Frontier Airlines. Prior to booking I read horror stories about cramped seating, lost luggage, and flight delays. The stories were enough to make you reconsider any desires you may have had. The practicality of it was that Justin and I didn't (and still don't) have a lot of money or time, but friends are important to us. We worked out the logistics, booked the flight, and decided we would make do with whatever came from it.

To be fair to Frontier, Justin and I avoided as many of the negatively reviewed aspects of Frontier as possible. We paid more for the extra legroom provided in the emergency row seats and we did not take in checked baggage. (Do you really need any if you are only going to be gone for a weekend?) Planning for only one carry-on, we paid for it in advance a few days before our flight, a price approximately $10 lower than what would be charged at the gate.

With all of the upcharges, we ended up spending approximately $50 more per person on this flight per person than we had initially planned on. If I were to do it again, I would skip the carry-on bag fee and just take two personal items. Truthfully, we could have fit everything we needed in those for two nights. Nevertheless, the flight went well. The plane seemed old, but the seating certainly wasn't uncomfortable for the two hours we were onboard. And while we were expecting the airline to charge an arm and a leg for beverages and snacks, we were surprised at the decent pricing that seemed similar to what you would pay at a vending machine.

My main take away, and the only downside to the whole experience, is that if you need to speak to a gate agent, you might as well forget it. At both Hartsfield (ATL) and Dulles (IAD), the gate agent only arrived a mere 10 minutes prior to boarding. I have no idea if that is typical for smaller airlines, but my experience with Delta and Air France was that gate agents were ready and waiting up to an hour before take off offering upgraded seats at discounts and helping to solve problems. (Perhaps that's only necessary with international travel?)

Anyway, given the low rates that Frontier offers (most recently I was considering $98 RT flights to Denver from Atlanta), I highly recommend flying with them. You aren't going to be treated like royalty, but do you really care about that on a two hour flight? The main things you should be aware of when flying with them is that 1) they charge for every single upgrade including food and drink (which isn't bad if you don't need too many luxuries), 2) your flight may not be on time (one RT flight with them is hardly enough for me to tell how consistently on time they are and whether online reviews I've read are worth anything) and 3) the best way to make sure luggage isn't lost is to solely bring carry-ons (which is true of any airline). If you keep those things in mind when flying Frontier (and get a cheap enough rate), you should have an enjoyable flight.

Have you flown with Frontier before? Did you have a good experience?

Five Foods To Consider For Friday

YAY! It's finally Friday. After eating healthy all week (yeah, right), it's time to pig out on my favorite foods all weekend! Hoorah! :) Here are five things I'm looking forward to enjoying during my two days of … more working. 

Yeah. Unfortunately, I have to work this weekend. Oh well. Even more of a reason to enjoy my favorite foods! #yolo

1. Brookside Crunchy Clusters (buy)

Crowdtap sent me a sample of these delicious, fruity, crunchy chocolates and I can't get enough. They are perfect snacking size and oh-so-good! Pair it with some organic fat-free non-homogenized milk, and I am in heaven!

(note: I drink fat free milk, because I don't like the excess fat that floats to the top. YUCK! It's not because I'm worried about having excess "fat" in my diet. Oh - and non-homogenized milk just tastes better. Trust me on this.)

image from Birch

2. Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar

These are the best when they come straight from Italy, but they aren't necessarily terrible when bought from a fancy Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar store. Plus, you get to try it there as well!

I'm not sure how I love this combination best. It goes great on salads, tastes delicious when you dip bread into it, and I'm ALWAYS a fan of caprese salad and bruschetta! Yum!

3. Baked Brie (buy) + Pink Lady Apples Or Pretzel Crisps (buy)

My first real experience with this concoction was over Christmas break. We got a huge brie for $10 and we took it to multiple get-togethers before it was all gone. Pretzel chips give it a bit of an extra salty flavor while pink lady and green apples add a bit of sweet.

Other options include serving fondue instead of brie OR you could go the healthier route serving delicious, roasted pine nut hummus with your pretzels and apples. All are delicious and addicting. :)

(I'm also a huge fan of President camembert which I haven't been able to find since my flight last year on AirFrance. Anyone know where to get it stateside? This seems a bit expensive.)

4. Jeni's Ice Cream

I have tried nearly every kind of ice cream available in the states, and I can say with utmost certainty that homemade Jeni's ice cream (or buying it online or at the Atlanta stores) is the best ice cream I have ever had, up to this point that is.

• Blue Bell is too sweet.
• Edy's is good, but it contains high fructose corn syrup.
• Mayfield is eh.
• Turkey Hill is good AND it only contains approx. 5 ingredients on the package. (I'm not looking at the package right now, but the number is low.)

Of course there are other options as well. Paolo's Gelato, if you live in Atlanta (or Charleston), is delicious. I also got to try Kroger's raspberry sorbet recently which is very good. (Actually come to think of it, it's a "frozen dessert" rather than sorbet, so you might want to stay away from it. Clearly more research is needed in the field of frozen deliciousness.)

But back to Jeni's. It's thick, it's creamy, and most of all … it's dreamy. I've only had the chocolate, vanilla, and a caramel, but I look forward to trying some of the many other flavors found in her cookbook. :)

5. Deerpark Raspberry Lime Sparkling Water

I'm particular when it comes to sparkling water. Really, any water. I'm comfortable with tap water from where I live and that's about it. If I have the choice I always go for Aquafina, a pepsi product, even though I pretty much hate all of the other pepsi products in existence. When it comes to sparkling water, I'm just as particular. We usually make sparkling water at home. (At less than 50¢ a cartridge for a liter of sparkling water, it's a pretty cheap beverage to make AND it encourages me to drink more water!) San Pellegrino and Perrier are ok when we are on the run. Recently Justin introduced me to Polar Springs which was pretty good … not too carbonated and the water was good.  But, one of my current favorites is Deerpark Raspberry Lime Sparkling Water. There is no added sugar listed on the label, it contains "natural flavors" (whatever that means), and at 0 calories a pop, I drink them like they are a dessert! Yum! (note: Deerpark regular bottled water is also on my bad side, so I recommend giving it a try even if you are finicky about water like I am.)

Have you tried any delicious foods recently? Do you have strong opinions on water, ice cream, or cheese? Share with me! I'd love to hear about new and exciting foods I may not have tried yet!

* 80% of these foods I tried without being offered free samples; however, for the 20% I was offered a free trial for, I can assure you that all opinions are my own. I was not asked or coerced into writing this blog post, and I will only be paid if you click on my links to buy the products I highly recommend.

Swagbag Thursday + Early Spring Cleaning

During the past month, my calendar has gone from slightly full to brimming over. Between weddings, a trip to Europe, and the recent announcement of a pregnancy from someone within the family, I've been overwhelmed and stressed out. One of the best ways for me to counteract the stress and worry is to host a giveaway. I have so many products leftover from previous giveaways and I hate seeing them sitting around unused. This is what prompted this giveaway. (Well, that and the desire to begin spring cleaning.)

To have your chance at winning a swagbag, enter my rafflecopter below by telling me either how you are beating the January blues (movies, books, spending time with family, traveling, etc?) or your best recommendation for spring cleaning (a method or product). In two weeks I will ship the products in the image below as well as anything else noteworthy I find to the winner.

Sound good?

Hope you are having a wonderful Thursday!

• coupon for $$ off of an Advil product (to be used by sometime in March)
• Celestial Seasonings tea
• Sweet N Low packets
• Zep degreaser
• purse hanger
• Team Ranch t-shirt
• Sweet N Low bag
• Seeds of Change bag
• candy

a Rafflecopter giveaway *This giveaway is not being sponsored by any company or particular brand. All opinions are my own.

Wordless Wednesday

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." - Ronald Dahl

My Top 5 Favorite Travel-Related Pins

Given that I am struggling with my internet today, I have decided to share my top 5 favorite travel-related pins I've pinned to pinterest over the past year. It can be difficult to find good, useful travel information and I'd love to provide at least one resource you can access if you need it. Feel free to peruse other articles on my travel board as well. Perhaps something will stand out on there that I didn't mention here. :)

So you need somewhere to eat? Somewhere closeby perhaps? Not to far from your room? Perhaps this list, published in November 2014, might have the perfect place! There's only one way to find out!

Your time is precious. You know it; I know it. If you aren't a frequent traveler, or even if you are, this might be a good article to review prior to arriving at the airport. Maybe you'll even have time to grab a quick snack or do some shopping before you board your flight!

There is a lot more to travel than merely packing, planning, and traveling. The travel tips listed in this article can help you make the most of your time away from home (whether in the airport, on the plane, in the hotel, or out wandering the streets).

Ever heard of Mastering the Art of French Cooking? Well … this is that for packing. 

If you're struggling to get the most for your money, this article might be of some help. There are a lot of ideas, so be sure to consult it before you book your next flight.

Do you pin travel ideas to pinterest as well? Have you read any awesome articles lately?

Free People – 20% off Sale Items

#ThatMomentWhen all of your favorite stores are offering discounts…

Over the weekend, not only did Anthropologie have their 40% off sale items promotion, but Free People was having a similar promotion wherein all sale items were 20% off. If you hurry, you can still take advantage as the discount ends today. Here are a few of my favorites…

I think the Night Out Dress, which comes in black, purple, and white is lovely and offers a sexy vibe while still being fairly conservative. It has a high neck and a short skirt. The arms and chest are a bit tight fitting, so I recommend going up a size if you have thicker arms or a larger chest. This would be a fantastic dress for work or going out for the night, but I wouldn't recommend it as a day dress. It would be very easy to mess up the lace sleeves if you aren't careful.

When the Free People near me got the first Shine So Bright dress in stock, everyone in the store was clamoring to try it on. Even me! (Justin didn't like it though, so I never tried it on.) Anyway, it is much prettier in person than it looks online. Plus, it's on sale at an even deeper discount thanks to their current promotion. With only select sizes available, I recommend buying it if you like it even the tiniest bit. You can always return it within 14 days if you need to. :)

While I did buy the Creme De La Dress over the weekend, I did not buy it from Free People. Instead I bought the dress from Nordstrom Rack at an even deeper discount than Free People was offering (even with their sale prices discounted!). I have not tried it on yet, so I can't offer any fitting advice, but if you like this dress in either red or purple I recommend either getting a price match (if they will) at Free People or buying from Nordstrom Rack. Unfortunately, other colors like white and black will need to be bought from Free People themselves.

With so many events going on this year (and my love of lace) I had to get my hands on the gorgeous Mavi Lace Dress as soon as I saw it go on sale. (I rarely catch Free People sales.) I've never tried it on, but I intend on taking full advantage of their return policy if I find it doesn't fit or look right on me. Prices go up too much on FP merchandise if you miss buying it (on sale) in stores and are forced into buying it on ebay. :(

Getting discounted further and further, I keep watching this dress never actually considering pulling out my credit card. It's pretty, but it's not gorgeous. Perhaps at a price tag of approx. $40 after the 20% off is taken, maybe it will make it offline and into your closet even if it still (even with the discount) not made it into mine. (Note that I have not tried it on and have no idea what it actually looks like in person or how it fits. Sorry!)

On Friday when I first heard about the sale, the first piece I fell in love with was the Eyelet Duster. Almost immediately, this product sold out, however, upon calling, I was informed that there were quite a few still available in stores and online. If you get the same notification I did about the product being out of stock, be sure to call Free People and confirm. You might get lucky!

Will you be shopping at FP today to take advantage of their current promotion? Or will you be sticking to new year resolutions and saving money?

Either way, if you live in the US, enjoy MLK day. Hopefully you have the day off and can finally get some stuff done. :)

Refinery 29: Style Stalking Review

I'm always on the look out for awesome books that can help me reinvent my style. I purchase so many cute pieces from Anthropologie, Free People, and the like, but when I get them home, they sit in my closet because I simply don't know how to wear them. My style isn't particularly well thought-out 90% of the time. Instead I rely on clothing that is comfortable and makes me happy so when I see a book about style I always want to glance through it to see if I can find any new and exciting fun tricks to amp my wardrobe choices up a bit.

Upon first glance, I really did not like or agree with what I was *seeing* in Refinery 29: Style Stalking. The looks were too bold, too colorful, and simply too much. Denim on denim on denim is simply not my style. I'm also not a huge fan of making ugly pretty. After spending over an hour reading through the commentary including interviews with fashionistas, style ideas for every season, ways to break rules while still looking cute, and suggestions for wearing one piece in multiple ways, I came away from the book feeling as though I had learned a lot about fashion and generating an individual style.

I feel that this quote summarizes this book best:

"For me getting dressed is so much more about satisfying a personal whim than getting dressed  for other people. Those whims and themes and moods, though, are more like 'I want to dress like autumn leaves' or 'I want to channel Elizabeth Bennet' than looking sexy or slim or pulled-together." - Susanna Lau

To Christian Barberich and Piera Gelardi, authoresses of Refinery 29: Style Stalking, getting dressed is an event and about designing yourself for a particular day rather than looking the same as everyone else. If you want to wear a t-shirt and jeans with high-heels, they suggest going for it! If you like t-shirts with skirts, they offer ideas for you to pull that off too!

In the end, I highly recommend this book if you are still defining your quirky style or you want ideas to dress a little differently. I'm a little too conservative for this book to really make a difference in my wardrobe, but I could definitely see it being useful for someone who wants people to wonder how they pulled off such an awesome outfit. :)

For more information, be sure to check out their website here.

You can also purchase Refinery 29: Style Stalking from Amazon here.

Have a fantastic weekend!

* I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for sharing my opinion. All opinions shared in this review are my own.

Anthro Sale – What I Would Buy If… (home edition)

Imagine you have all of the money in the world. What would you buy if Anthropologie was having a sale on their sale products and you could afford any of it? (Make sure to use coupon code EXTRAEXTRA).

I'm in the opposite situation which makes this a wish post. More specifically an I wish I were in my own house and could afford to decorate even though I still want to be able to afford a trip to Europe post … that isn't about clothes. Because seriously: clothes come first. Always. ;)

1. Rosette Quilt

Remember the pink stage? I'm 95% certain that every little girl goes through it whether you want to or not. It's the time in your life when you are super young and your mom is so happy she's having (or has had) a little baby girl and everything is coming up roses (or pink). Your bedspread is pink, your wallpaper is pink, you have more pink in your wardrobe then you can ever imagine wearing!

Through the help of my mom and grandmother, I went through the pink stage. And the floral stage. When I emerged I found myself enamored with the ocean. My bedroom colors were henceforth purple, blue, and a lovely green-yellow. I spent so much money on the curtains for my bedroom and I ended up designing them myself simply because nothing else made me happy. I wanted something unique that fit my personality … nothing else seemed as unique as designing your own.

Anyway, my beautiful bedspread featuring all of the above colors made me happy and content for years and years and years until, eventually it wore out. Had the Rosette quilt in this lovely shade of purple been available at the right price, I might have considered it. Unfortunately, years later for my wedding, my husband and I received this exact style quilt in blue only to find strings detaching and the blanket falling apart after only a year of light use. At this point, as much as I love the color of this quilt, I think I will simply sit back and admire it while you fine readers buy it. I don't want to run into problems again! It is a gorgeous quilt though!

2. Farmers Market Basket

This was on sale last year as well, but I don't know if it ever went as low as 40% off? Anyway, I love this basket. It is made out of stoneware so it will last until you break it; it's not sturdy cardboard like what you might actually find at the farmers market. Best of all: it looks great with strawberries in it. I haven't actually tried putting strawberries in it, but I have a fantastic imagination. Red + turquoise + devine!

3. Pop Dot Decanter

Last year Justin and I bought a lovely blue decanter from Anthropologie so what use do we have for a pretty, decorative purple one? None, I tell you. None. This makes me sad. Apparently I need more purple in my life. Don't you agree?

4. Baker's Kit

I think they have a beer making kit as well? Right?

Anyway, the baker's kit is simply A-DOR-A-BLE. I never saw it in real life, but seriously. Look at that image. Isn't there someone in your life this would make the perfect gift for? *sigh* Really, it just makes me daydream of snowy days inside making sugar cookies. There is nothing better. :)

5. Georgiana Duvet

First of all, duvets are so way better than quilts or comforters. I don't know why, but they just are. They are classier I suppose?

Second of all, remember that pink stage I was talking about?

Maybe I never outgrew it. Perhaps I only thought I did. Why else would this gorgeous duvet be on my wish list?

Is this love? … Or lust?

Only time will tell. (After the product sells out and I am forced to cry for weeks because the only way to obtain it is to order it off of ebay : it eventually goes on sale from some loser who didn't care for it properly and spilled ink on it but is still charging an exorbitant price merely because they bought the gorgeousness on sale from Anthro and I did not. Sad day, indeed.)

6. Scalloped Fringe Throw

While the blue would be my first choice, the red isn't necessarily a deal breaker at 40% off $79.95. I can imagine it looking pretty when pulled out at Christmas and draped lovingly over the sofa for cuddling by the fire and staring at the Christmas tree. Can't you picture it?


Neither can I. I need more Christmas in my life. :) Yes, in January.

7. Autumn Filigree Bed

Anthropologie has this thing where the post pictures of products and I want them. Do I need them? No. But I am a female and shopping is in my nature…

8. Library Letter

If you are getting married or know someone who is … or if you know someone (like me) who needs random useless decorative junk to fill their deepest desires, you may be interested in buying these books (er… letters). They are a need, right?

Have you purchased anything yet from Anthropologie's sale? Will you be purchasing anything from today's list?

If you are interested in any of the items from either list, be sure to check them out before they disappear! You always have limited time when Anthropologie puts their products on sale and i wouldn't want you to miss out!

Anthro Sale – What I Would Buy If… (clothing edition)

I love shopping at Anthropologie … and I love when they have sales. I especially love when they have sales on sales. (I've never actually seen sales on sales on sales, but I wouldn't be opposed to that!) Unfortunately, given our current circumstances (traveling to Europe this year and what not), it would be much wiser for me to refrain from actually purchasing anything at my favorite store. Tragic, I know. :) My circumstances, however, do not prevent me from tempting you with the sale goodness though.

The following is what I would buy if I had all of the money in the world…

Because everyone needs a pair of white skinny jeans.

2. Pineland Maxi Dress

This dress has a gorgeous color and I picture Scarlett O'Hara in her gorgeous green velvet curtain dress when I see it. However, even on the model, I think this dress needs *something*. A belt or shrug … maybe fancy gold shoes? At 40% off (down from $200), you might be able to afford to take this dress to the next level of awesomeness… Or, if you are anything like me, maybe not?

3. Current/Elliott Distressed Denim Vest

No judgement, but I watch Austin and Ally on Disney channel with the kids I babysit for and Ally always wears these cute outfits with a distressed denim vest. Perhaps I could pull that look off too if I had this vest?

Another reminder of a bygone era (think Scarlett O'Hara's red dress), I am in love with the fringe on the bottom of this dress. The top is pretty boring, but I think with the right accessories it could really be pretty. Is that why it's on the sale rack? (Down from $430! crazy, right?)

Impressive naming, don't you think? ;) Either way, I love the newest fad (or is it old at this point?) of clothing that drapes longer on the sides and shorter in the back. It's cute, versatile, and makes me feel like I look slimmer. Plus, this cardigan looks super light and comfy, perfect for fall and spring!

Fun and unique as well as reminiscent of a coat my mom had in the 70s, I'm in love with this skirt. I truly think if I spotted this in a thrift store I would think it was much older than it actually is. I especially think it would look cute with a black version of the Frye lace-up boots I recently got. What do you think, Justin? :-P

(There's nothing like peer pressure.)

Even in yellow (my least favorite color), I think this Top is gorgeous and ultra-feminine. With 40% off of $100, this could be a great buy if you are in need of a new work sweater.

Do you own this yet? Seriously?! Go buy it. Like now. Everything else on my list is stuff I don't own, but I do own this and you need it. Seriously.

These cuties remind me of Liz Lisa. Cute and girly. I definitely said no to the $170 price tag, but 40% off of $120 for a pair of warm gloves could be just the ticket I need for purchasing… Then again plane tickets to Europe are really expensive… *sigh*

Have you had the chance to look at Anthro's incredible sale? Do any of the clothing items I've listed above intrigue you?

Tomorrow I'm planning on sharing all of my household sale finds from Anthro with you. Don't wait on me though… Anthro products sell out fast during the promotion period. If there is something you really like, be sure to jump on it! :) Have a fantastic Wednesday!

A Wedding & Trip To Northern Europe FTW

Over the holidays, one of my closest friends got engaged to her German boyfriend. Unlike me who only ever dated one guy, she has been through ups and downs with multiple guys having her heart trampled on, crumpled up and thrown out quite frequently over the years. Being the optimist, myself and other friends of hers would always tell her that true love would find her when she wasn't expecting it and that the right guy would treat her the way she deserves to be treated. Nearly 10 years later in what almost seems like an unexpected plot twist, she finally will have her happy ending. Not without trial and tribulation as it seems she will be marrying and moving out of the country in the midst of her parents facing an awful divorce and with family and friends unable to come due to the high cost of even getting to Germany. I am extremely happy for her though, and my goal is to (in the smallest capacity at least) be there for her as she transitions from single American to married German.

Given her wishes for Justin and I to only be around in the smallest way possible, Justin and I have redirected our attention to saving for a 3 week vacation exploring the northern coast of Europe – northern Germany, Prague, Denmark, Amsterdam, and possibly Belgium – following my friend's civil ceremony in southern Germany. I have no idea how many places we can travel to in 3 weeks, but I plan to get to and take advantage of all of the ones I can. We don't know exactly when we will be taking this trip because my friend has not yet settled on a wedding date, but I am anxiously waiting (and hoping) I have plenty of time to get a good deal on flights and hotels. I will be sad that she is no longer within driving distance, but I am also anxious to have one more reason to travel to Europe as frequently as possible in the years to come. (I still have to visit Spain, southern Italy, Greece, England, Norway, northern France, and see more of southern Germany!!)

Berlin, Germany – image by lipjin

Prague, Czech Republic – Image by Miroslav Petrasko (

Copenhagen, Denmark – image by Milton CJ

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – image by mau_ry

Brussels, Belgium – image by essey

While I will soon enough find myself dealing with #alloftheemotions when planning #Europe2015, for now I am just going to look at pretty pictures of the places I hope to visit and be happy.

January Financial Review – Good News

I've already shared with you our overarching financial review for the year of 2014, but I never took the time to look individually at the month of December. Since that is something I do every month after the first payment has gone in, that's what I'm intending to do today. It's useful for my husband and I because we are able to see down to the month what we are doing right … and wrong allowing us the opportunity to make improvements (or in some cases ignore our finances altogether) for the next month.

First and foremost: we spent less in December '14 than we did in December '13. YAY! That is typically a personal goal of mine: to spend less in the year I am in than the year before. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. I have begun to notice trends though, like how we typically spend more (no matter what's going on in our lives) in October, November, and December. For some odd reason, we make more money in January than any other month and we spend the least in February. Our average expenditure is 90% of Justin's paycheck, but our revolving goal is to only spend about 75% of his paycheck (or less) and save 100% of mine.

Over the weekend, Justin and I talked about manufactured spend (and how best to obtain it), applied for (and was accepted) for a Discover credit card (for moving owed credit and bringing our interest payments down), as well as attempting to pay a student loan bill with Evolve using a $50 visa gift card I had received as a gift. All of this should help us as we work to improve our finances in 2015.

Our assets are down by a lot, BUT (hear me out) the reason they are down so much is that 1) I had to pay student loans in full this month from our emergency savings (Don't ask. Long story. Really it's just one more way we keep our finances straight and has less to do with needing to access the money than making sense to my very small brain.) and 2) we moved all of the money we had been saving for a car insurance payment to pay down a credit card which will inevitably be used to pay for car insurance. Are you confused yet? Needless to say the money that existed wasn't really savings to begin with. While it has temporarily dropped our credit card debt, the drop won't last for more than a month since we have to renew our insurance at some point. (Going to jail for driving without car insurance doesn't sound too frugal and I feel like it might actually set us back a bit in paying down debt. What do you think?)

So, as I said above, the extra money put towards credit cards this month that is really a car insurance payment has improved our debt bringing our total debt down by about 12% from it's peak in May and 4% from what we owed in November.

End result: Our net worth has improved by 16% in the last 9 months.

Our key problem areas (as usual) were clothing, food and dining. To our benefit, however, the lower gas prices helped us save. :) Here's hoping we will be able to conquer our problem areas and enjoy the lower gas prices this month so that I can have a good report come February.

How are you doing with your finances? Do you review them each month to see what you are doing wrong and how to improve? Have you noticed any trends? Will there be any significant budget changes within your finances during 2015?

Colorful Sales – The Beginning of January Break

One of the things I absolutely love about blogging and writing in general is to take an idea and make it my own. Often in English classes (or any class really) I would be given a topic that I wasn't interested in writing about. In fact one of the coolest most fun topics I've ever created for myself was my thesis for my masters degree which incorporated reading, writing, art, and education. You have no idea how difficult it is to come up with a thesis you are interested and excited about that incorporates all of those things! :)

Anyway, last year I found myself incredibly busy and wanting to take a break. I was completely unaware of how busy I would become in the coming months moving and traveling, but I knew I needed a break from the Christmas rush. Thus I decided to do what I like to call the January break:a mid year attempt to take the time to breathe, restore my creativity, and blog about whatever the heck I want to blog about under specific criteria created by me. That specific criteria involved taking a gander at The Idea Room's January photo-a-day list and creating my blog posts from the list of words they provided either in words or pictures.

As crazy as it seems, this project is not as easy to do in practice as it seems. For example, today I've spent at least 2 hours just trying to think of a topic I want to blog about that somehow relates to color. I ended up deciding on sharing colorful items that are currently on sale since I have a bunch of gift cards that I'd like to use at some point. I hope you enjoy seeing my picks.


Eliza J Lace Tulip Dress @ Nordstrom


Far Channels Cardi @ Anthropologie


ASOS Midi Skirt in Scuba with Dipped Hem (Ochre) @ ASOS


Mikael Aghal Asymmetric Silk-Crepe Gown @ The Outnet


Connected Apparel Floral Lace Tiered Dress @ Von Maur


Perkins Short Pouf Skirt @ Alice & Olivia


Joie 'Makika' Lace Skirt @ Nordstrom


Free People Faux-Leather Hooded Moto Jacket @ Macy's

Please, feel free to share your own sale favorites … or share anything about color. I'd love to hear what others in the blog-o-sphere are thinking. :) Have a fantastic weekend!