50 Laundry Care Tips & Tricks

I think the laundry fairy must have come…

On Mondays I like to provide money tips, and, I've found, one of the best ways to save money is to not spend it. But how do you go about not spending money when your t-shirts are worn thin, the color from your favorite outfit has faded, and the dryer has eaten all of your socks?

The following are a few tips shared from a survey I've been working with others on. Maybe something in the list will help you do your laundry better?

Pre-Treating & Stains
1. Soak your socks in oxi-clean or bleach to keep them from looking dirty.
2.  If clothes have blood in them, soak in cold water to get it out.
3. Alcohol can get blood out of things you cannot wash or don't like to wash frequently – like bedspreads and cloth furniture.
4. For stubborn stains, squeeze lemon-juice on it and place it in the sun for a bit before washing.
5. Use a toothbrush when pre-treating stains to get the product into the clothing material and the stain out of it.
6. For white clothes, put bleach on the stain and let it sit prior to washing.
7. Remove grease with chalk sticks.

For Smells
8. Use white vinegar to clean the Washing Machine tub between washes.
9. Bleach also works for cleaning the machine between washes.

10. Empty ALL pockets! Tissue lint can really create a mess! (As can pen ink and crayons!)
11. Use different hampers to sort clothes into lights, darks, and whites.
12. Wash your really dirty clothes separate from the rest of your clothes.
13. You may consider separating your clothes by fabric type – keeping towels and linens in loads separate from regular clothes and/or washing synthetic and cotton fabrics separate from one another.
14. If not using a laundry bag for delicates, hook bra clasps together so they don't get hung on other clothing or twisted up too much.
15. Flip clothes inside out before washing to maintain color and keep decorative clothing from ruining in the wash.
16. Separate delicates and work clothing from other clothing to keep them looking their best and lasting for a long time.
17. If you have a pet, consider using a lint roller on your clothing prior to putting it in the wash to get extra dog hair off of clothes, towels, blankets, etc… and keep it from spreading from one item to the next.
18. Place socks in a laundry bag so they are easier to match later.

19. Only wash jeans with other jeans to maintain their color and make them last longer.
20. Button your jeans to keep the button from banging on the side of the washer or dryer.
21. Wash jeans in cold water and add a bit of vinegar to maintain color.

22. Put the detergent in the tub before the clothes in order to get them cleaned more thoroughly.
23. Use more detergent than is called for to get your items sparkly clean.
24. Dishwasher detergent will get your whites super bright, and clean deodorant and oils from clothing.
25. Wash bathroom rugs on the shortest cycle so it uses less water. They don't need to be as clean as other things.
26. Add baking soda to the wash to make your towels extra fluffy!
27. Hand-wash intimates and dry clean items or use the delicate cycle on your washing machine with only one or two items in it, depending on your comfort level.
28. Wash delicates in cold water so that they maintain their shape.
29. Consider stopping the wash mid-cycle after it agitates for a bit and there are bubbles so that it can sit and soak for some time before resuming the wash to get really dirty clothing cleaner.

30. Never allow clothes to completely dry in the dryer. Pull them out and let them finish by air drying.
31. Use a tennis ball in the dryer to get your clothing to come out fluffy!
32. Always open up clothes fully when moving them from the washer to dryer so that they dry faster.
33. You will also be able to see if any stains have been removed, and if not you can rewash them right away rather than having the stain set in the dryer.
34. To dry clothing faster, throw a dry, clean towel in with the rest of the load.
35. If you spread your jeans and towels out between multiple loads, your clothing will dry faster.
36. Door knobs are great for hanging things on if you don't have a line-dryer inside or out.
37. If you do an extra spin cycle in the washing machine for heavier items like towels and jeans, they dry faster in the dryer.
38. Line drying will provide a fresh outdoor scent.
39. Flip clothes inside out when line drying to keep pollen from showing on your clothes.
40. After line drying, put clothes in the dryer to get any stiffness out.
41. Use a used dryer sheet to help get all of the gunk out of the lint screen. It seems to attract the lint and the screen come clean easier.

Dealing with Wrinkles
42. Steam your clothes by hanging them in the bathroom while you shower.
43. Throw a wrinkly shirt in the dryer with a wet washcloth to get the wrinkles out.

44. Fold clothes as you remove them from the dryer to save time when putting them away.
45. Hang nice shirts and dresses immediately out of the dryer so that they are easier to iron later.
46. Put dryer sheets in your drawers so that your clothes always have a fresh out-of-the-dryer smell.

Saving Energy & Money
47. Do laundry at night and in the early morning so that the house doesn't get so hot.
48. Using cold water when washing is better for the environment.
49. Hang, line, or air dry clothing to save on electricity.
50. Make your own laundry detergent using Borax, Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, and Washing Soda.

Did you learn anything new from this list? Will you be trying something different the next time you do laundry?

Fashion Friday: More Summer Sales

So guess what?

Not only did I manage to snag the very LAST PAIR of those awesome BHLDN shoes from my last fashion post, but Anthropologie is now offering 20% off all of their sale items if you use coupon code SALEAWAY at check out. Unfortunately everything I liked was too expensive and sold out almost immediately, but I was able to get the discount on all of the things I purchased last week. $5 back on the credit card! :) (It's the little things in life that make me happy…)

As if that weren't enough I started looking at other stores as well… Did you know that Free People is ALSO offering a sale? Not just any sale though … a sale on top of a sale. Both in stores and online, without a code, you can get an additional 25% off all sale items. Plus, if you buy $100 worth of anything online, you get free shipping! I've got one item in my basket, but I'm still trying to decide if it's worth it… I've spent a lot of money this month, and I'd really rather pay down debts. But then again I never seem to have enough clothes? #DecisionsDecisions

Rather than remind you of all of the delicious things at the Urban Outfitter branded stores, I decided to take a look at ChicWish and JShoppers to see what their sales looked like…

Here's what I found:

Where did they come up with that name? I would have called it something like "Summer Cherry Dreams" or "Dripping in Cherries" … "50s A'la Mode?". (Because y'know… cherries go on top of ice cream? Eh! Maybe that's a bit far-fetched!)

Anyway, this dress looks very vintage-fun and cherries are awesome. Plus red. Isn't red the happiest of colors?

If you attempt to buy it at ChicWish, be sure to sign in for an extra 30% off if you intend on ordering $60 or more. :)

Delicate Hand-knit Fringe Cape in Red

Ever have one of those moments when you think to yourself I was born during the wrong time period? When I see this poncho, and others like it, I immediately have that feeling. Why were the clothes between the 50s and 70s so much better?! But then again, this is the two thousand teens and we have styles from all of the time periods, so isn't that awesome?

This red poncho definitely makes me think of the pink one I bought from Anthropologie back at Christmas time. It's quite possibly one of my favorite things to wear. You don't have to worry about it falling off of your shoulders as you move about, and it keeps you nice and warm! #win

If red isn't your color, they also have black and off-white. As for me, I'd definitely love to own it in any color! :)

New Swan Stone Castle Pleated Midi Skirt

When I saw this skirt for the first time today, it made me laugh. Isn't that the Neuschwanstein Castle? I thought to myself. I'm a little bit slow even with a basic knowledge of German vocabulary and I must admit it took me a second to actually think about how the castle name had been translated to English. That was definitely a blond moment if ever I were to have one (being brunette and all…).

I'm not so sure that I would ever consider wearing this, but I had to share it since I have a picture that is very similar to what is on that skirt! (And so does everyone else who has ever visited the castle, I'm sure!) The question comes down to: why didn't I think of printing my image on a skirt and selling it for $48+? Ask yourself that next time you take a picture of a castle! You could be rich! :)

Coffee Belted Twill Skater Skirt

See? I told you I was born during the wrong time period!! :) But seriously – who doesn't love twill? Or maybe it's just me after all… If you take a look at the customer image on the page, the girl's outfit totally reminds me of the school outfit Zooey Deschanel wore in her music video In the Sun; don't you agree?

Striped Flared Shirt Dress

I'm not sure why shirt dresses are so popular recently. Honestly, I really don't like them … except for this one. Maybe it was the purple? Or the gigantic bow? It's possible I just like the purse… What do you think? Are you a fan of shirt dresses?

Have any of your favorite stores begun rolling out summer discounts yet? Will you be taking advantage of any of the sales or finds I've shared today?


Central Park, July 2013

Over the weekend, in the middle of father's day lunch Justin's dad declares that "we need to get back up to NYC and Boston to see your great uncle and my sister…" Turns out he had been planning it all along. It would either be week a in August or week b. Not to be left out of the loop with a grand adventure being planned, Justin and I started looking up plane tickets. With only 2 months to plan, we knew ticket prices would be increasing from this point forward…

Well, as of 2 nights ago, our plane tickets were booked.

Then, yesterday, I began thinking about all of the exciting things we did the last time we were in NYC and questioned whether or not we would be able to find more things to do that would be just as exciting. Unfortunately, we have budgetary limitations since this trip was planned last minute and Justin's parents have even less money than Justin and I. So, cheap attractions it is!

Right now I only have one attraction on my list that doesn't really fit the bill, but I have a feeling everyone in the party (Justin, Justin's parents, & Justin's aunt and uncle – not the great uncle we will be visiting in Boston for a day) will be up for – the observatory at One World Trade Center! :) Check out this review from The Points Guy and be sure to watch the Youtube video of the ride up the elevator – I doubt you'll be disappointed! :) While the World Trade Centers have a pretty dark past and it definitely makes me anxious going up so high on such a well known building, it is an experience I would like to have.

We also have to take Justin to see Times Square. Maybe we can fit some shopping in too?

I'm also looking for other "off the beaten path" locations to visit in the city. Last time, we experienced the Rain Room and saw a Claes Oldenburg exhibit at the Museum for Modern Art. Then we explored the DUMBO area taking in the view from down under the Metropolitan Bridge overpass in the Brooklyn area. (And ate delicious pizza!) We also visited the World Trade Center Memorial; explored St. Paul's Chapel; took a walk through Central Park; shopped at the Apple Store, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the oldest Macy's in NYC (but didn't buy anything!); and shot photos leaning off of a balcony at the Trump Tower. (It made me soooo nervous!!)

How will we beat that?!? Is there anything else exciting to do in NYC? What have I missed that I simply must see?

I will definitely spend plenty of time researching in the next 2 months, but if I have any blog readers that have been to NYC or live there, I'd love it if you'd share your favorite spots!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic Thursday! :)

Wedding Words

"Which way am I suppose to look?" they all say and look at me as if I am a portrait photographer. Do I look like a portrait photographer? Never mind. Don't answer that. :-P Truth of the matter is that I'm just not comfortable editing skin tones. The majority of my practice has been learning to bring out color and depth in landscapes, which I still struggle with… Why has this not been an easy process for me? Why can't I get pictures to look exactly how I want them to on the first try?

In the mean time I present to you my family's gift to my sister-in-law on her wedding day – an overly floral cake** in a picture that looks like the 80s have returned with a vengeance.

So much for being wordless. :)

* Idea for this post stemmed from the Which Way Challenge on Cee's Photography Blog. Be sure to check it out and join in! :)
•• Publix wedding cakes are delicious! :)

10 Colorful Travel Books

As part of the Blogging 101 course, I'm suppose to respond to someone else's post regarding the ROY G BIV theme from yesterday. While there were a bunch of unique takes on the theme (which, if you don't know, refers to the colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet), there were only a few posts that really stood out to me as being incredible and interesting. Specifically, I loved this post featuring all of the colors in a collage and this post where the blogger listed books by color.

In response, and because today is "Travel Tuesday", I have decided to create a list of colorful travel books. I have not read any of these books, but I assume if you have plans to travel in your future, they could be of use to you. I tried to focus only on books published within the 2014/2015 years to provide you (and me if I purchase any of them) with the most up to date information possible. :)

• Frommer's EasyGuide to London 2015 by Jason Cochran 
• Fodor's Caribbean 2015 by Fodor's

• Michelin Green Guide Scotland by Michelle Green
• Lonely Planet Scotland by Lonely Planet

• DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Scotland by DK Eyewitness Publishing
• Lonely Planet Iceland by Lonely Planet

• DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: France by DK Publishing
• Rick Steves France 2015 by Rick Steves

Will you be purchasing any of these travel guides for future trips? 

Don't you just love seeing them in color order? :)

Summer Sales

One of the best things about my birthday is that it occurs nearly 6 months after (or before) Christmas. That means that some of my favorite stores begin having "Christmas in July" sales … right after their 4th of July sales, of course. So, while I'm stocking up on goodies with the money I receive from my birthday, I'm also getting some of the best deals of the season! Talk about winning! :)

While the BIG sales have not yet hit any of my favorite stores, I did notice that Anthropologie has started lowering prices with their mid-year tag sale. This had me wondering: what other stores were starting the discounts early? As you may well know, it may be worth it to buy some things before they hit their lowest price and ask for a discount later when they do reach their lowest price so that you are guaranteed to have your favorites…

Anyway, I spent about an hour scouring my favorite online shops for a few favorite sale picks and the following are what I've found…

Wildflower Rabbit

This is the perfect reason to shop early! I found this bunny last week and bought it initially for my nephew (before noticing the super-obvious can't-believe-I-missed-it, I-must-be-oblivious pink flowers on the feet and in the ears). Anyway, beyond being one of the cutest stuffed animals ever that seriously makes you go "awww" when you hold it in your hands, it is now out of stock online. I saw a huge box full at my local Anthropoligie in Atlanta, so if you want to get your hands on it, be sure to give them a call. :) As for the fate of my bunny? I found someone else to give him/her/it too.

sidenote: If you ever realize you've purchased the wrong stuffed animal by mistake, ALWAYS call and cancel right away! It's simply too difficult to cancel after you've received it and held it's softness in your hands! :) (I guess it's kind of like going to the animal shelter and seeing kittens and puppies available! You just can't say no! Unless you are Justin… but he's just mean.)

Kora Dress

I admit it. I love this dress and I know absolutely nothing about it except that I probably have too many curves for it and it's sold out in my size online. :( The color is nice, and the pockets look awesome! I'd definitely try it if it came back in stock…

Beaded Hibiscus Gown (Tracy Reese)

Also out of stock in my size, I actually saw this dress a few weeks back when it was at full price at the Lenox Mall Atlanta store location. Justin pointed it out. We were in a hurry so I didn't try it on, but I remarked how much it looked like a princess's dress. It was so light and airy … and super long when I held it up to me. It would definitely need to be tailored. I told Justin that maybe when it went on sale I'd buy it. I just didn't realize the sale price would be $300+… Maybe if it goes on sale some more? #INeedABallToAttend!

Miss Albright Petra Heels

Cute summer shoes ftw? I'd totally buy them except that I'd most likely trip all over myself in them. Platforms + me ≠ get along. Been there, done that. Totally fell down a bunch of concrete steps last time I wore platform sandals and got scraped up pretty bad. Blood for days… Or at least it seemed like it. :( My feet belong on the floor at all times … unless I'm wearing heels, but that's a different story…

Painted Petal Robe

There are a few color variations of this robe on BHLDN but the blue is my favorite. This looks super comfortable for lounging around in or perhaps it would work as kimono to wear with a dress or beachwear? Don't take my word for it though, since I haven't actually tried one…

Parlor Slingbacks

I fell in love with these a million and a half years ago and BHLDN finally has my size! Squee! Only they are gold instead of my go-to silver. Do I have anything to wear with them? Nobody buy them while I search my closet for the perfect outfit to wear with these! ;)

Love Sadie Crochet-Trim Trapeze Dress

I was originally looking at this dress to wear under my Free People One Emily Lace Dress, but I think it could be a cute beach dress to wear on it's own. Light and casual for the hot weather, but with a little bit of fringe at the bottom to provide flair and excitement to the wardrobe. And at a low price of $39, why not?

Do you follow summer sales to get good prices mid-year?

* Blog post prompt ROY G. BIV provided by Blogging101. (Sorry I'm missing a few colors…)

Father's Day Food

I don't know about you, but one of the few things my dad and grandfather look forward to most on Father's Day is the food. Don't buy them a tie or tools or anything like that. They simply don't care. It's all about what we are eating…

Here are 16 suggestions to help make Father's Day memorable:

Cake!Yummy Burgers • Chocolate Croissants • Ice Cream

What will you be making for dad this Father's Day? Will you be using any of these ideas?

Living Life In the Fast Lane

Over the past few weeks (since we went to the Unclaimed Baggage Store), I've been trying to go through things and get cleaned up. Justin and I tend to get lazy (him moreso than me) about cleaning when our schedules are hectic. All of a sudden, paperwork and mail has piled up, you have a closet full of clothes that you never wear, there are a billion or so books that you've maybe read once and plan to never read again, and your house slowly becomes this pile of stuff.

I'm definitely a hoarder. I have mail (meaningful, but still) from over 10 years ago. My closet at my parent's house has clothing I've been meaning to sell from when I got married 3 years ago. (!!) And then, there was that one time I tried to take a stuffed animal my grandmother had given me to Goodwill and my mom said "you can't take that!" (Note: my grandmother is still alive and did not make the stuffed animal. Instead she made me Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that I did not take to Goodwill. Which do you think is more meaningful to me?) Of course, when people say things like that to me, I start to second guess myself. Second guessing is never good when you have hoarding tendency. If at one particular moment you think to yourself "I should get rid of this", do it! Right then!

The one notable difference is this Ikea table that Justin has had since bachelorhood. It is so not my favorite. I would have (and tried to) gotten rid of it a few years ago. Instead, it just hung out in my parent's basement until our recent cleaning spree where we changed out furniture so that Justin would have a desk to work on. Don't get me wrong – I still don't love this desk, but it does serve a useful purpose – allowing Justin's stuff to accumulate there rather than anywhere else in the house. Of course, now that I think about it, I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing…

So then I moved on to attack the closet. (We also cleaned out drawers, but I figure you don't really want to see whats in those…) I pulled out every piece of clothing I owned and only put back the things I had worn in the past year. Then, I had Justin go through the remaining items with me. Did he like it on me? If not, it went to the sell pile. Did I still like the item on me? Would I buy it again? Was there a particular reason I didn't like the item that could be fixed? We bought a rod to hang clothes on near the sewing machine, so that I could hang my sell and need-to-be-fixed items. Doing this gave us a little more closet space, although I have to admit I liked our smaller closet from the last house we lived in. It made me be even more decisive about the clothing I was keeping versus getting rid of.

Just for the fun of it, I organized all of my dresses and tops by color. They say you should decorate your home in the color you wear the most and I wanted to know what that color was. I discovered that I have way more dresses than tops and my dominant colors seemed to be blue and pink. One cool thing I noticed was that I have dresses in nearly every color! (Only missing orange! Does peach count?)

We also loaded up our new suitcases with unused blankets and sheets and put them on the top shelf to save room elsewhere in the house. Then there is my tupperware of camera equipment and an Anthropologie bag of random stuff that is being saved for when we actually purchase a house… And a door that leads to the attic, in case you were wondering…

By far, the most successful thing I have accomplished is picking out the items for the next giveaway! Most of these are leftovers from previous giveaways. (I usually don't list everything I have to giveaway in case something gets lost in the mail or I miscount or something silly like that…) Anyway, I want these items out of my house and in your hands. I need to make room in my giveaway drawer for more awesome things to give to you all!

So here's what to expect in the prize package:

• Coupon for $1 off any EcoTools makeup brush
• Splenda jump rope
• EcoTools Sleek+Shine Finisher Hairbrush
• 3 teabags of Honey Vanilla Chamomile Herbal Tea from Celestial Seasonings
• Splenda Measuring Cups
• 2 Sweet'N Low Samplers
• Sample of Garner Clean Nourishing Cleansing Oil
• 2 samples of Vichy Idéalia Life Serum
• Bottle of purple KleanColor Nail Lacquer
• Splenda spatula
• Perfume sample
• 2 samples of Neutragena HydroBoost Water Gel
• 2.75 oz. bottle of Skintimate Moisturizing Shave Gel in Raspberry Rain
• small package of Carefree Acti-fresh Bodyshape Unscented Pantyliners

Want to help me clean my house and win some fun prizes in the process? :) Share your ideas for organizing and house cleaning with me by July 9th midnight EST and maybe you'll win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mid-Month Currently

Don't you just love the sky at this time of year?

Things have changed a lot since May, some for the good and some for the not-so-good. No matter what happens though, you have to keep moving forward in life: there is no going back. Here's what I've been up to…

Listening to: Undisclosed.

And when I'm not listening to the podcast, I'm reading Rabia Chaudry's blog Split the Moon. I've always been a fan of mysteries and I hate when cases go unsolved, so it gives me just the tiniest bit of satisfaction reading and listening to Rabia Chaudry investigate so in-depth the case of Haye Min Lee even if it is only to prove that her theory (that Adnan Syed is innocent) is correct.

Remembering: the Betsey Johnson style dresses Justin made for my bridesmaids before our wedding.

A few days ago, he agreed to let me purchase the above Betsey Johnson dress on Postmark for $20! Most Betsey Johnson dresses tend to go for $100+, so I'm pretty excited. I'm hoping it comes in before our July 4th trip to Savannah!

Planning: TRAVEL! And retirement savings.

Obviously, if you read yesterday's post you know that I just (as in this week) booked my July 4th holiday vacation to Savannah and Tybee Island. Yes, it will mostly consist of moving my brother, but I am looking forward to fireworks and good food as well.

Following that, there are plans to go to Charleston for my birthday and the north Georgia mountains for my grandfather's birthday. And prior to all of that, we are returning to Alabama to go to the Unclaimed Baggage Store with potentially a mini-stop in Chattanooga for my dad for father's day. (It's what he wanted.)

Also, last night I started looking at how much Justin and I need to have saved for retirement at various ages. We definitely don't have enough saved for when we turn 30, but I've been trying to figure out how to get to our suggested number by the time we turn 40. It will take a lot of work, but I definitely think it's feasible… It's just required a lot of thinking since we're still paying down student loan debt, hoping to travel, and in need of both a car and laptop. (I have a 5 year old laptop, but Justin has only an iPad mini which isn't exactly ideal for a computer engineer.)

Anxiously Awaiting: hearing back from my friend who moved to Germany and may have changed her phone number for good without sharing the new one with me. I hope she didn't, but, since our friendship has been on the rocks lately, I wouldn't put it past her. I simply don't understand how you can choose to not be friends with someone. Aren't the more friends you have, the better off you are?

Interested to Know: how we will put together a baby shower for my nephew.

I have ideas for the shower – dinosaurs, cupcakes, hot air balloons, bright colors, blue – but I don't know the mom well enough to make any specific decisions. I bought a bunny yesterday to give to the baby in the hospital after he is born, but as cute as the bunny was, when I looked closer (as opposed to regular online view) I noticed a pink floral pattern in it's feet. Oops. Guess that will get returned. The world may be happy and praising Caitlyn Jenner, but little baby Nash (that's his name) hasn't yet informed everyone that he is content with flowers, bows, and pink yet, so I think I'm going to stick with traditional baby boy colors. Besides, I prefer blue myself. :)


Keeping A Secret: Two things –

1. If we don't go to Europe (or Australia) this year, we are considering going to Paris for my birthday and Bastille Day next year. I'd love to see fireworks over the eiffel tower. :) And it's got to be cooler there then it is in Georgia in July, right?

2. I'm on leave from my job for the next week and potentially until the end of July. The good news: my boss gave me extra work during the first few weeks of June so that I would have my regular pay for the month. The bad news: Even though I have plenty to get caught up on, I don't like sitting at home and having so much time to think. Even worse I don't really have time between now and when I go back to really replace my job, especially with our mini-vacations planned. I guess that just means lots of cleaning, reading, and photo-editing while watching CreattiveLive!

DIY'ing: I don't DIY a lot of stuff. Mostly I spend my time editing photos or helping my husband cook in the kitchen (when I'm not reading, travel planning, or blogging, of course).

In a week or so, I'm going to be receiving a copy of Rooted in Design by Tara Heibel and Tassy de Give to review. In reviewing it, Justin and I are planning to buy an indoor plant and see if we can keep it alive for more than a day. If we manage to keep it alive, it will be a first! Previous attempts at growing basil, tomatoes, and squash have failed. There are only so many plants in this world that we can attempt to grow… Hopefully this book will give us the incite we need.

So many books! So little time!

Reading: Fatal Vision by Joe McGinnis.

I'm pretty sure I should be done with it by now, but I've been getting distracted easily and not reading as often as I could. In my opinion, it's not a very well written book… Interesting story, but the writing is a struggle to get through and rather repetitive. Perhaps I'll have time to get a little further today? I still have more than 300 pages to get through and only 10 days left to meet my 2 books a month new years goal.

• the After series by Anna Todd
• A Lion In Paris by Beatrice Alemagna
• I Sold My Soul to the Devil For Vinyls … Pitiful, I Know on Wattpad
• Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
• Refinery 29 by Piere Gelardi and Christene Barberich
• Frites by Anne de la Forest

• Summer Rain on Wattpad
• Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
• How to Travel the World on $50 A Day by Matt Kepnes
• Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

• No Capes on Wattpad
• The Bro Code on Wattpad
• He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird

• Cookie Love by Mindy Segal
• Sweetapolita by Rosie Alyeah

• Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
• Salsas & Moles by Deborah Schneider
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson (I finally finished! I just never reviewed it…)
Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What have you been up to? Are you staying caught up on your goals? Are you looking forward to an awesome vacation somewhere? Have you bought anything exciting recently?

Savannah, GA – 26 Things On My Bucket List

Don't you just love scenic views?

In a few weeks, for July 4th, my immediate family will be taking a sun-filled vacation to the beach and anchor-city of Savannah, Georgia. We won't be gone more than a couple of days and the majority of the trip will be moving my brother to a new house. :( In the down time though, I plan on experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, and feels(?) of the city that has yet to worm it's way into my heart. (Past experiences have found the city to be lackluster and wanting.) Will I find love in the hot and humid streets of my past (amidst moving my brother)? Or will I question why I even bothered wasting my time?

Anyway, after much research, the following is my Savannah/Tybee Island bucket list. These are the places on my to-do list… (And, side note, if you intend on going to Savannah or Tybee Island for the July 4th weekend, BOOK NOW! Places are filling up fast! I would know from experience…)

1. See the fireworks on July 3rd AND July 4th.

We booked a hotel on Tybee Island to see the fireworks over the ocean on July 3rd and a hotel (with a rooftop view!) on the river in Savannah to see the fireworks on July 4th. The question is… will we get to these locations early enough for me to set up and photograph said fireworks? #whoknows?

2. Visit Forsyth Park and see the pretty fountain.

Just because it's pretty. :)

3. Eat at The Olde Pink House.

So many blogs recommend it. I'm not sure the (sea)food is my thing but I could totally go for a cheese plate served with Savannah Bee Company's honey. YUM! (Did you know that Savannah Bee Company has a store in Charleston, SC too? They have some of the best honey! It's not on my bucket list since I've been there so many times before, but if you haven't, it should be on yours!)

4. I'd also love to go to Mrs. Wilke's Dining Room.

With it being a holiday weekend, I doubt we will make it this trip. I've heard the line starts at 9:30AM for lunch at 11AM! Unfortunately, I'm not sure we will have that much time to wait in line. :( Perhaps a return-trip will be necessary! :) I'd love to immerse myself in the family-style southern dining experience that is so well praised!

All beaches look alike! (source)

5. Visit the beach.

Because duh, it's the beach. Apparently, North Beach is the place to go for less crowds and more pretty. :)

6. Eat a piece of Vinnie Van Go Go's pizza on the cheap.

With our lack of time, this is probably more likely to happen than Mrs. Wilke's Dining Room. No matter. I do love pizza!

7. Explore Broughton Street.

According to this blogger, it is very similar to Charleston's King Street (AKA: the mall). I'd love to explore Savannah's version of Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters, my favorite stores. Are they in unique buildings like they are in Charleston? Only one way to find out! :)

8. The Wormsloe Historic Site looks gorgeous for taking pictures…

I don't know if it will be too hot and humid to explore during the summer, but if it is, perhaps we could explore it in the spring one year…

9. Consume an ice cream bought from Leopold's.

Listed as #5 on Toronto Sun's Best Ice Creams in the World, I think I may have to go in for a taste test … or two. :)

10. Discover the homes of Savannah

It's a bit too late for us to plan to do this for our upcoming vacation, but perhaps in the future Justin and I can visit Savannah in late March or early April to view the historic homes and gardens that make up the city. I'm sure some of them are absolutely gorgeous at that time of year! :)

11. Drive down Officer's Row on Tybee Island.

I am desperate for pretty pictures and beautiful scenery! If I can get them for free, all the better!

12. Take in a service at The Cathedral of St. John's the Baptist.

We probably won't go this time, but I know this is likely to be on Justin's itinerary… so it made the list. I guess…

13. Get a drink at Perch, the roofside bar.

No matter how many roofside bars I visit, I never seem to get tired of them. Tired of the high prices, yes! Tired of the views? Never!

14. Spend a night at the Bohemian Hotel located at the Savannah Riverfront.

Unfortunately, I found this hotel too expensive for a group (read: family) night amidst moving and holiday-ing. But one day, when Justin makes his fortunes, I will return and experience the luxury that is this hotel… One day. :)

15. Shop at The Gallery By the Sea and Seaside Sisters on Tybee Island.

Riverside and Broughton Streets may be the 'it' thing for tourists exploring Savannah, but I always think it's fun taking in shops with unique and interesting art pieces. I never shop for traditional souvenirs, so why would I shop at traditional souvenir shops?

Sunsets = <3. (source)

16. See the sunset.

This is kind of a given for me. I don't really care where I see the sunset … since all sunsets have the potential of being beautiful. I just want to find a location, set up, wait, and maybe snack on appetizers, chat, and relax. It's quite possibly my favorite part of any vacation! :)

17. Explore the SCAD Museum.

I've had dreams of going to school at Savannah College of Art and Design… Maybe I can pretend like I'm there studying under the great professors of our time if I take a tour through the museum. I can begin with with one of my favorite subjects… The American Landscape exhibit and follow it up with the Dress Up Story exhibit and the Things Are Not What They First Appear exhibit concluding with a view of the permanent collection. Yes, I do believe this will appease my desire to explore modern art.

18. Sample a macaron at Marche de Macarons.

Justin and I have been on a search for good French-style macarons since we returned from Paris. So far, the closest we've gotten are the ones Justin made for my birthday last year. Even though Marche de Macarons is a 5 hour drive away from where we currently live, it's a drive I would happily make for good macarons if they ended up actually having some. Please, please, please have yummy macarons!

19. Take time out for tea.

There is only one tea room I know of in Atlanta, and I haven't heard too many great things about it. However, I have heard fantastic things about the Gryphon Tea Room in Savannah. Plus, the idea of having tea with scones sounds pretty idyllic in an almost-Disney way. Where else can you go to experience something so English yet also American?

Image taken in Forsyth Park, but it looks kind of like a Cemetery… (source)

20. Explore the Bonaventure Cemetery.

This apparently is a must-do. I'm not really into ghost tours (or stories for that matter) but I think there could be some fun found photos among the tombstones…

21. Tour the Architectural Scene…

Apparently, Savannah Rambles offers an amazing tour of the historic beauty that is Savannah. While it will be far too hot to experience this in July, I bet it's an amazing tour and would love to take it when the weather cools off a bit.

22. Eat Southern staples.

I've already mentioned a few restaurants where this might happen. I'm looking forward to fried green tomatoes and maybe some yummy, cheesy grits. I'll have to leave it to Justin to experience the seafood though…

23. Ride on a riverboat.

Just to say I did it…

24. Because the SCAD Museum may not be enough…

I'd love to roam the halls of Telfair Mansion and Art Museum, the oldest art museum in the southeast. The current exhibits don't interest me too much, but I love that this museum is also home to the Owens-Thomas House. You don't see that too often, and Savannah is pretty much known for their historic house tours.

25. Walk, walk, and walk some more…

The heat may make this prohibitive … or not … but one thing is for certain: I love slow walks in the evening on cobblestone streets where you can take in the majestic beauty of moss covered oak trees, historic mansions, and perhaps sample a praline or two… :)

26. Finish moving my brother.



Yes, a trip to Savannah (minus the heat) is sounding pretty nice right about now.

And just in case my bucket list isn't reason enough for you to plan your escape to Savannah, check out these gorgeous images from Country Living. :)

Is Savannah on your bucket list?

10 Frugal Ways to Stay Cool in the Summertime Heat

How not to be frugal – go to Paris.

1. Read a book.

Cuddle up on the couch with either a new book or an old favorite. It's a great way to pass time without sweating like a pig in the summer heat!

2. Have a dance party!

Put on some of your favorite music and just dance! Sure you might get nice and sweaty but it won't be the sun's fault!

3. Make some cool treats.

Fruit is fantastic and healthy! Or if you are feeling adventurous, try making some popsicles or a smoothie! Yum!

(I'd recommend homemade ice cream and milkshakes, but I don't want to blamed for making you fat!)

4. Visit your local pool, lake, or ocean.

Yes, it's outside. Yes, it's in the heat. But guess what? You won't get hot because you'll be in the water! Win-win, am I right? (Don't forget your sunscreen!)

5. Learn a new skill.

I'm a strong advocate for CreativeLive, but there are plenty of Youtube videos online for learning purposes! And if using the internet is too much, visit your local library and get a book you can learn from! Your choices are endless…

6. Take up spring-cleaning.

Yeah, I know it's boring, but you will feel so much better about your house afterward. Furthermore, you can donate unused items to a local charity, making your heart feel good, or sell them online, making your wallet feel good. Now that you think about it, do you really have an excuse not to clean your house?!

7. Turn off the lights for a day, save energy, and use candles to see by.

I'm not saying go straight to the computer, iPad, or television, but it can be fun to see what you can do without wasting energy (the same energy that often heats up your home!). Maybe you will decide to have a picnic outside under the stars for dinner? Or perhaps you will actually talk to your loved ones for a change?!?! WOW! What a concept! :) Whatever you do, if you decide not to use lights for a night, don't try to read in the dark or strain your eyes. I can only see that going badly for you.

8. Write a blog!

Need ideas? Start with Disney's Dog With a Blog!

Writing is a great way to improve your memory. Plus, you can look back years later and confirm that you were right and they were wrong! Because you are always right…

9. Get creative.

If you are more technical, #5 may be more up your alley, but for all you dreamers out there, consider picking up a paintbrush, buying a disposable (black and white! squee!) camera, or redecorating your home (using what you have to keep it frugal, of course!). There are so many ways to do the same thing: challenge yourself to find new ways to be creative. And of course, I'm always a fan of recycling things so that they have a new purpose for you.

10. Take a nap.

If you've done all of the above, you deserve it!

What are some of your favorite frugal things to do on hot summer days? Did I miss something particularly awesome?

Johnsonville Grillers Review

One of my favorite things about being a blogger is getting to try new things! Not too long ago, Crowdtap sent me a coupon to try the new Johnsonville Grillers which we had for dinner a few nights ago. After this experience, I learned a few things about myself.

1. I LOVE free dinners. These babies cost around $7 normally, so even with the coupon that printed out when I was checking out at Kroger (for $1.50), I was surprised at how expensive they were!
2. Even though they were coming from a frozen state, these were pretty good.

Now, before you rush out and buy them, keep in mind that this is (1) sausage (+ bacon + cheddar)  and (2) not the amazing, organic, grass-fed beef that you could get from say– Farm Burger restaurant located in Decatur and Buckhead, Georgia or Asheville, NC. Basically, you get what you pay for–sort of. (i.e. You are paying a lot, but most of that money is being directed at convenience.)

Anyway, I wasn't blogging about these to compare them to those other delicious, delicious burgers, I just wanted to sing Johnsonville Grillers praises since, given what it was, I thought it was actually pretty tasty.

Justin, my in-house chef, broiled the burgers first, after removing them directly from the freezer, giving them a nice sear before baking them in the oven at 350º F until the inside temperature was 160º F. We then cut the patties up into threes and ate them on King's Hawaiian Rolls served with baked beans, homemade fries (see my review for Frites), and –the thing I currently love the most– Brazilian limeade. YUM! (I should probably do a post about how to make that one of these days, right?)

Point being – If you are short on time and need a quick burger fix, consider Johnsonville Grillers. The cheddar cheese and bacon is not overpowering, and you will emerge from the meal happy and content that it was so easy to fix and tasted pretty good!

Other options available include: 
Swiss Cheese and Mushroom • Original Bratwurst • Cheddar Cheese • Steakhouse Onion

Have you tried Johnsonville Grillers yet? Will you be trying them in the future?

* Thanks to Crowdtap for providing me with a coupon to try these for FREE in exchange for my opinion!

All The Light We Cannot See Review

About a week ago I finished the fantastically written All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It's the combined story of two young adults growing up during World War 2. Werner, a German orphan is obsessed with radios and learning to use them; he wants to one day become a scientist. He studies books that are illegal to have, listens to the radio whenever possible, and dreams of a better life than the one he expects to have – working in the mines. At around the same time, Marie Laure, a blind French girl is learning how to navigate her world without sight. Her father constructs intricately designed wood replicas of the cities she lives in and instructs her to study them with her hands, so that were they to ever become separated she would be able to find her way home. Obviously, when the war breaks out, as with all stories, their lives are changed drastically. Marie Laure's father tries to keep his cool telling Marie Laure that they are safe and there is no need to worry until the Germans begin to take over France. Walking for miles and miles, the two leave Paris headed for what they believe will be a safe haven where they can wait out the war. Meanwhile, Werner is accepted into a school for only the brightest and smartest children where he will be trained to fight for his country. Clearly, his life is improving, right? In the most unexpected way possible, neither Marie Laure nor Werner will be able to escape the war without a run-in where they must save one another.

To get an idea of what the story is like, listen to Anthony Doerr read one of the first chapters of the book. Once you hear his writing style, it's hard to accept anything less…

In case you are wondering, no, this is not a love story.

Or maybe it is? I suppose it depends on your definition of love. If you perceive love as heroism or fighting for the good of another, you might be on the right track. This book is not a Disney fairytale nor is it chick-lit. It is a really in depth fictional look at the war from two very different children's perspectives, and it, quite literally, will break your heart in some places.

Here is an interview Doerr did where he explains not only the plot, but also his ideas behind the story.

**possible spoilers ahead**

Despite the fact that the book was well written and (IMHO) definitely deserving of the pulitzer prize, I, once again, came away feeling a little bit let down. The plot was fantastic, and the development of the characters (or at least Marie Laure) was stupendous! I also loved the short chapters that made the book easy to read without resorting to simple word and sentence structures. Doerr knows how to write and leave you hanging… The thing that bothered me most was the climax of the novel. All of a sudden, we see our two characters meet. It's taken them hundreds of pages to get there… And then the story is basically over? Seriously? From that point forward, the book kind of falls flat: the war is over, everyone goes back to not-quite-normal lives, and we forget everything we've worked so hard to get to. Because when the two meet, it's not like they run off to get married, which is what you see in Disney movies and chick-flicks. No, the two are still dealing with the aftermath of the war. He is still in the German army and she is still breaking rules. There needs to be some real and direct consequences. (And yes, if you've read the book, there might technically be some indirect consequences…) In the end, I want to see the story play out in as real a way as possible while still being a somewhat easy/enjoyable read and with well formed sentence structure and plenty of choice vocabulary to boot!

**end possible spoilers**

While the book didn't live entirely up to my expectations, it was a very enjoyable read and one I would highly recommend. From what I understand, All The Light We Cannot See was written over a ten year time span and encompasses a great deal of research done by Doerr. His end goal was to "rely not as heavily on visual detail, but to make up for that by rendering [the] world as fully and richly and colorfully as possible" which is what All the Light We Cannot See does.

What are your thoughts? Have you heard of this novel? Or had a chance to read it? If you haven't, do you think you will in the future?

Buy it here.

* Quotes from The Rumpus interview.

A Few Thoughts…

south France May 2014

Or at least I think it's south France. It could be north Italy… From now on I'll just label all my panoramic images "somewhere in Europe". ;) Don't you think all panoramic landscapes start to look alike after awhile?

So what are you up to? Have you shared any amazing Wordless Wednesday images today? Or are you like me and can't keep your mouth shut for even a single day? ;)

Road Trip! Unclaimed Baggage Review

A few weeks ago, as Justin and I were deciding what to do with our day… (We had free time! Shock AND surprise!) Justin read an article about unclaimed luggage and a store that sells it in Alabama. Feeling risky, I asked Justin exactly where in Alabama this store was located – Could we make it there and back within a day? With a quick tap on his cell phone, we realized that this store/tourist attraction was only 3 hours (and one time zone) away. If we left even as late as 10AM, we could totally spend a full day getting to northern Alabama before the store closing time of 7PM CST! So we hopped in the car and were on our way…

The trip to Alabama from Atlanta was beautiful and fantastic. I discovered so many places I never knew about and wanted to explore. Perhaps in the future we could turn this drive into a mini-vacation and explore? Not only did we pass the Tellus Science Museum, but we also passed Barnsley Gardens and got awfully close to the Huntsville Space Center in Alabama. The view as we drove north became more mountainous and back-woods leaving us breathless and wishing I had taken my (real) camera.

When we finally arrived, we were sore from the long drive and ready to get out of the vehicle. The large shopping center provided plenty of space to walk around, but not so much space for large vehicles like an extended bed F-150. Nevertheless, Justin managed to finally park the overly large vehicle and we were able to emerge relatively unscathed.

Is that a wedding dress?!

My first thought as I entered the building was how thriftstore-like it was.

"What you know about rockin' a wolf on your noggin? 
What you knowin' about wearin' a fur fox skin?
I'm digging, I'm digging, I'm searching right through that luggage…"
Macklemore – "Thriftshop" 

I suppose I knew it was a thriftstore, but orange? Everywhere? It was enough to make me sick … and not willing to buy the cheap products for the high prices using the aggressive tactics. Of course, I eventually got over my "orange-ya-gonna-buy-that" aggravation when Justin offered to get me an Apple iPad Mini 2. Early birthday present? So glad you are my wife gift? Whatever. I'll take it. Even if it is only 16gb. Even the price point of 2/3 it's original price for what looked like a pristine product was enough to drag me over the edge…

Justin must certainly have been in a shopping mood, because that wasn't the only thing we bought nor was it one of the best deals we found. Further shopping revealed a $5 Logitech keyboard to go with the iPad mini still in original packaging (originally $80), a $5 exercise ball (originally $30), an iPad cover in original packaging for $9 (originally $30), and a Brooks Brothers suit for $100 (usually in the $1000 range). Even though we were over budget for the month, we felt that we came away with some pretty good deals for some great products!

About halfway through our day of shopping the 40,000 square foot mini-mall, we got hungry. Luckily for us, the kind sales associates directed us to an adorable little Mexican restaurant a few miles away known as Buenavista. For a picky Mexican eater that doesn't like spice, I thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant and would happily return more often if it was, say, 3 hours closer…

Cute little Mexican restaurant nearby!

After the quick linner (dunch?) break, we returned to the world of thrifting that is Scottsboro, AL. We were done with the BIG store, but now it was time to scour the area and discover what else could be found in surrounding thrift shops.

First stop: Goodwill. Let me just say: Goodwill was unsurprising and slightly boring. If Unclaimed Baggage is a thrift store featuring items people didn't intend to lose, the Scottsboro Goodwill is a thriftstore featuring the things people did intend to lose.

Moving on, we went to the store directly across from Unclaimed Baggage of whose name I can't remember. The store itself wasn't too impressive aside from the gorgeous, vintage luggage I stumbled upon and simply begged Justin to buy! Of course when we got to the register, the older guy attempted to swipe not one but two of Justin's credit cards and couldn't get the reader to work. So Justin did the age old trick of "I only have $15 and the price is $20. Want to make a deal?" I'm sure you are well aware of how money-hungry old people get. Fifteen dollars later, I had a new-to-me set of vintage, lost luggage with NYC tags draping classily from their handles. (The question of whether or not I will ever use them still hangs in the air.)

Classy NYC tags!

I'd like to say, from this point forward, that we simply went home – back to our quiet lives of nothingness. But no, that is just not the case. No road trip to Scottsboro is complete unless you stop by Chattanooga, TN on your way home to get ice cream from The Ice Cream Show and glimpse The Relay For Life event that was going on… Furthermore, once we returned home, it was time to make some money! We took to intense spring cleaning in which we moved furniture around, got rid of at least 3 trash bags worth of stuff, and are in the process of photographing and placing sell-worthy items on eBay. If that doesn't make a trip to Scottsboro, Alabama's Unclaimed Luggage Store worthwhile, I don't know what does… :)

Cleaned up office space with new seating included!

Other things we found while shopping:

• fitbits
• laptops
• cameras (SOOO many!)
• golf clubs and other sports equipment
• a wedding dress?!
• bridesmaid and prom dresses (read: how to dress your wedding party for less)
• fancy jewelry including diamonds and sapphires
• cool, random extras not for sale including an old McDonalds sign
• luggage (SOOO much luggage!)

To find out more, check out this article by The Huffington Post or the Unclaimed Baggage website.

Have you ever lost luggage and wondered where it may have ended up? Would you consider making a trip to the Unclaimed Baggage store to find great deals and thrift shop?