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5.30.2014

Budgeting Bloggers: May + An Ambitious Challenge!

Old Navy
Gray tee: $6
Mint tee: $6 (not pictured in collage)
Pink tee: $6
Yellow tee: $6 (not pictured in collage)
Pixie shorts: $22
Snakeskin print dress: $2
Black/white printed ankle pants: $2 (not pictured in collage)
White tee: $8
White/pink striped dress: $34
Mint sneakers: $22
Total: $114 - $115 rewards and supercash = $-1!!!

Target
White sneakers: $11 (not pictured in collage)

Payless
Navy sneakers: $20
Floral sneakers: $10 (not pictured in collage)

J. Jill
Pink tunic: $59 (not pictured in collage)
Tan tunic: $21 (not pictured in collage)
Olive leggings: $21 (not pictured in collage)
White tunic: $13 (not pictured in collage)
Total: $114 - $100 gift card from Katie's giveaway = $14

Total spending this month: $54


My focus for May was to purchase clothing items that I could wear this summer during my nannying gig, but that could also be worn during the school year at my new job as well.  Most of the purchases from Old Navy fit these criteria, especially the tees and dresses.  I also got a pair of the Pixie shorts, and I'm smitten.  They're super comfy!  I was really impressed with my spending at Old Navy as well - I had stockpiled some rewards and SuperCash for the month, so I wound up spending $-1!  Not too bad.

You'll also see that I bought four pairs of sneakers this month - whoops!  I have really been into the sneakers with skirts/shorts/dress/cuffed skinny jeans look, and I find them super comfortable as well.  I've worn all of them already, and I know they will make the perfect casual/weekend shoe all year round.

Last, I won a $100 gift card to J. Jill from Katie, who blogs over at Hems for Her, a few months ago (woooo!!!!!).  I finally had the chance to sit down and look at J. Jill's website, and I wound up ordering three tunics and a pair of leggings.  The tunics I ordered will all look great for work outfits with my ponte pants, or with more casual looks with leggings (like the new olive ones I ordered) or skinny jeans.  I'm eager to get them in the mail this week!

Also, I wrote in my last post about how Kevin and I are moving into a townhouse in the next couple of weeks (hooray!).  We've always had our housing paid for because of Kevin's job, so paying rent is something new for us.  Because of this and the fact that my student loans will come out of deferment soon, we are seriously focusing on budgeting right now.  We don't want to pay off our loans for the next ten years, so we're going to try to tackle them pretty seriously.  This means, however, that our "fun money" is going to need to be reassessed...and this affects my clothing budget.

Since I know from my closet inventory that I have more than enough already, and I know from having completed two 30x30 remix challenges that having less in my closet actually makes it easier and more fun for me to get dressed, I've been thinking a lot about my shopping/spending habits.  After much thought and discussion with Kevin, I am going to try to make it a year without spending any of our income on clothing.  WHAT?!  I might be crazy.  I've been successful before at a shopping ban, and I loved how it made me feel, so I'm feeling excited yet slightly nervous for the year-long ban.

I will have a few exceptions, though.  Since I'm really hoping to lose some weight this year as I transition into a full-time job (which will give me a lot more free time to be active and cook than I've had while in grad school), I will allow myself to spend some money on (thrifted or clearance) replacement pieces over the next year.  I also am allowed to use gift cards on clothing, since they will not come out of our income.  Additionally, since I will need to have some school spirit apparel for my new job, I will allow myself to purchase a few pieces from our school store to wear on spirit days.  Finally, my beloved 3-year-old black boots (which I wear constantly in the fall and winter) finally kicked the bucket this year with holes in the bottoms, and I am going to allow myself to buy a new pair of black boots since they are such a staple in my wardrobe.

I'm pretty sure this isn't going to be an easy task for me, given my history of loving to shop and spend.  However, I know it will be rewarding and will help us get a head start on tackling our student loan debt (which, in my opinion, is way more important than buying some cute pants or a dress...).  I also love a good challenge, and this, my friends, is a huge challenge for me.

I'll definitely blog about this over the course of the year, because I know that it will help me stay accountable.  I also know that engaging in dialogue with my blogging friends and readers will be helpful as well!

So...wish me luck!  The challenge starts June 1!!

Linking up with Franish and the other budgeting bloggers!

5.29.2014

A New Home

Tee / Scarf / Sneakers: Old Navy | Skirt: Bettie Page

Since I accepted a new job an hour away from where we live right now, Kevin and I have been spending a lot of our time over the past month looking for a place we can live.  We wound up finding a beautiful townhouse to rent in the town that I'll be working in!  I wore this outfit to our showing...which we actually breezed through.  Apparently, it was an open showing, and whoever got their application in first would get the townhouse (so long as the application was accepted).  When we got to the showing, there were already a couple of other families there, so we quickly looked at the space, talked to the woman in charge, and handed her our already-completed application.  It was super fast and nerve-racking, but this was the only place we could rent in the town my school is in that we could also have our dogs...and for all of you with fur babies, you know that this is a priority!!  We're glad that we wound up going fast, though, because on our way out, another man came in with an application.  First come, first serve...and we found out a couple days later that the townhouse was ours!  Whew!

We're actually signing our lease tomorrow morning, but due to Kevin's work schedule, we don't actually move in for another week and a half.  I'm so excited to get to our new space, though.  Since our housing is tied to Kevin's job and we've been living on college campuses since we graduated from high school, we are super pumped to have a garage...a garbage can to bring out to the curb...only one neighbor instead of hundreds of college sophomores...a yard...a fireplace...etc.  We finally feel like grown ups, haha!

5.28.2014

Wet Dogs

Shirt: Old Navy | Jeans: Jessica Simpson via TJ Maxx | Shoes: TOMS | Necklace: Forever 21

So, I actually wound up wearing this outfit for only about 30 minutes.  Let me tell you a story about why.

Kevin is an area coordinator at a residential college, so we live on a college campus.  The college just changed all of the locks in their doors, and the new ones automatically lock behind us.  This is fine and dandy, but I have to remember very hard to take my keys with me when I let the dogs outside because I'm not used to doing so!

The morning I wore this, it was dreary and sprinkling outside (hence the crappy photo quality...).  Rooney was scratching at the door while I was taking my outfit photos, so as soon as I took the photos, I threw leashes on the dogs and walked outside.  They did their business, and I went back to our door, and yep...it was locked.  I was so annoyed!  I tried to pick the lock with a stick (what an idiot...that never would have worked, haha!), but was obviously unsuccessful, so I said to the dogs, "alright, we're going on a little walk!"  The campus security office is about a block or two from our apartment, so we headed off in their direction.

As soon as we started walking, it started raining harder.  I was getting super wet from the rain, so my level of annoyance quickly started rising.  Plus, I don't know about any of you who have dogs, but when mine get wet (either from baths or the rain), they get crazy.  Like, all they want to do is run and wrestle.  So, not only was I getting rained on all over, but the dogs were pulling on their leashes and trying to wrestle with each other.

I made it to the campus security office, literally dripping wet, and asked if an officer could meet me over at our apartment to unlock it.  They said they'd have an officer there for me.  So, I head back out into the rain to walk back to our apartment.  By this time, the rain was coming down in sheets - I was freezing cold and literally soaked.  My pants were falling off because they were so weighed down by the rain, my shoes were squelching as I walked because they were so saturated, and I was getting pelted in the face with rain drops so hard that I couldn't keep my eyes open (and that was even with my glasses on!).  I met the security officer at our apartment and he graciously unlocked our door and waited in our entryway until the rain subsided.

After he left, I took this photo to send to Kevin and tell him how ridiculous my morning had been.  I was literally soaked down to my underwear, and freezing cold!  To make matters worse, right as I turned around after having taken this picture, I saw Pippin pooping a huge pile right by the door...after we had been outside for a good 20 minutes...I was not amused.  To clean it up, I grabbed a couple of Kleenexes that were on a nearby shelf, but stupid me forgot that when Kleenexes get wet (and my hands were still drenched), they disintegrate.  Ultimately, I was holding Pip's poop in my hand as I ran to the bathroom to flush it down the toilet.  RIDICULOUS.

After I had cleaned up Pippin's mess and washed my hands for a good 5 minutes, I peeled off my wet clothes to throw in the laundry (it is really hard to take of soaking wet jeans, by the way...I felt like my legs were in a Chinese finger trap), hopped in the shower to warm up, and decided that I had earned a t-shirt-&-leggings day.

So...that's the story of this outfit.  It's on my list of outfits to rewear since I really only had it on for a half an hour, and for most of it, I was dripping wet.  It was one of those situations that made me really pissed in the moment, but almost immediately afterwards, I was laughing hysterically about it because it really is just that ridiculous.

5.22.2014

One of the Team

Shirt / Cardigan / Scarf: Old Navy | Pants / Flats: Kohl's

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I got a new job!  I am going to be a high school counselor an hour south of Minneapolis in an adorable little city, and I can't wait.  I won't be starting officially until August, but I've been communicating with my principal and new coworkers (I'll be the fourth counselor on the team!).  I wore this outfit last week when I went to have lunch and spend the afternoon with my new team.  It was a perfect outfit for the occasion (especially because it was cold and rainy that day), and I had to represent their colors a little bit (their school colors are royal blue and silver...I figured navy and gray was a subtle nod).  And, like yesterday's post, these are the newly tailored gray pants that I'm so happy are wearable now!!

5.21.2014

Lunch With Friends & Tailored Pants

Shirt: H&M | Chambray: Old Navy | Pants: Kohl's | Flats: Payless

Since my nannying job won't begin until the girls are out of school (mid-June), I've had a lot of free time lately.  As a result, I've had the chance to hang out with some of my grad school friends and be able to talk about non-school things!  It's been fantastic.  I wore this outfit last week when I had lunch with my closest friend from my program.  It felt wonderful to sit and talk to her without any deadlines looming over our heads.  She's getting married in July, so we were able to really talk about wedding stuff too!

I bought these black ponte pants and an identical pair in gray months ago.  They're the Vera Wang line for Kohl's, and I absolutely love them.  However, while they fit perfectly when I first put them on, they tended to stretch out immensely over the course of the day, to the point where they were falling off my hips and making me feel super frumpy.  I brought both this pair and the gray pair to my mom and dad's house shortly after I got them so that my mom could tailor them for me, and we finally got around to doing it last week.  They fit so much better now, and I've already worn them a couple times since then. Thanks, Mom!!

5.20.2014

Sneakers

Dress: Old Navy
Cardigan: Eddie Bauer, thrifted
Shoes: Converse
Necklace: Maurices

In college, I was the queen of the sneakers.  I had several pairs of Converse Chuck Taylors and was drawn to fun, colorful sneakers.  They were kind of "my thing," to the point that Kevin and I even got married in them!  When I started my first professional job out of college, I couldn't wear sneakers all that often anymore, so I wound up getting rid of all of them except one pair (the ones I'm wearing here - my wedding shoes), and became a flats + boots kind of girl.

But lately, I've seen so many outfits on blogs and Pinterest featuring dresses or skirts with sneakers, and I've been bitten by the sneakers bug again.  Some of my favorites can be seen on Audrey, Anne, and Beth.  I had forgotten how adorable this combo can look!  I decided to try it out with this gray and white striped fit & flare dress that my mom bought me recently.  It was a bit chillier when I wore this outfit last week, so I added my pink cardigan for an extra layer and a splash of color.  I felt amazing in this outfit all day, and I loved wearing the dress + sneakers combination.  I also used a gift card and bought a couple more pairs of sneakers to round out my collection and replace some old, icky flats that I don't wear...so you'll definitely get to see some more outfits like these in the future!

Would you ever wear sneakers with a dress or skirt?

5.19.2014

Bookworm

Shirt: H&M
Jacket / Jeans: JCPenney
Flats: Payless


I learned how to read when I was three-years-old, and by the time I was in kindergarten, I was reading chapter books at at least a 3rd grade level.  From the time I started reading until college, I had a book in my nose all the time, just like Belle.  I, very frequently, would read a book in a day, or would be in the middle of three books at once, just to switch things up.  When I got to college, though, the required readings for my classes kind of took the joy out of reading for pleasure for me (and I am one of those nerdy girls who reads every assigned page for every class...).  So, as I mentioned in my post last week, I was so excited when I graduated from my Master's program so that I could read for fun again!

On Saturday, I literally read all day - I finished reading Insurgent, and read all of Allegiant...nearly 600 pages.  I felt like I was in high school again.  I stopped reading only to get food, let the dogs outside, and go to the bathroom.  I never opened my computer.  I just read.  It was glorrrious.  It was also the perfect weekend for me to read a ton because I've been sick with a cold and not wanting to do much of anything else.  I know that I'm months behind on the Divergent series trend, but I'm dying to talk about the books.  If you want to discuss them, let me know!  I'm always up for a good literary chat :)

The next book on my list is a very different style: Passing, by Nella Larsen.  It's been sitting, unread, on my bookshelf for far too long, and I'm eager to read it.  It's a short book, a little over 100 pages, so I'm hoping to breeze through it.

What are you all reading now?  Any must reads I should put on my list??

5.15.2014

Strappy Sandals


Shirt: Old Navy
Pants: JCPenney
Sandals: Target

Today's outfit is wickedly simple (story of my life these days, eh?), but I love it.  I could wear black pants and a chambray shirt every day with different accessories and be a happy woman.  Today, I kept it very stripped down with just a simple silver necklace (which you can't see in these pictures), earrings, cuffed pant legs, and my favorite strappy sandals.  I bought these sandals last summer after my previous black sandals became unwearable (they were suuuper old), and I have to say, they are fantastic.  They are so comfortable, and they still look brand new after a year!  It's been pretty chilly in Minnesota lately, so I'm glad I was able to wear these sandals one on of the rare sunny days :)

I'm linking up with Bri for Third Thursday Threads - today's theme is sandals, so come check out all the other lovely ladies who are linking up and showing off their springy sandals as well!

5.14.2014

Minty Fresh

Shirt: Target
Jeans: Jessica Simpson via TJ Maxx
Flats: Payless
Necklace: oNecklace

I can't help but love mint these days, you guys.  It's just a cheery, light, springy color that goes with so many others!  I remember when it first "came back" a few years ago, I really hated it...but as time went on, I decided I actually really liked it.  I wore this mint peplum top back in August, on the first day of my graduate assistantship...and I unintentionally wore it on my last day of work as well...bookends!! :)  It's a fun top that I really like, but it's a tricky one to wear.  It's sweater material but short-sleeved, making it too hot to wear in the thick of summer, but too cold to wear during the cooler months.  This time of year, though, is perfect, so I'm going to get as much wear out of it as I can before it gets too hot!

5.13.2014

Coral Love

Pants / Tee: Old Navy
Sandals: Target

The same day that I bought my white and blue floral jeans, I found this pair of coral and white printed skinny jeans at Old Navy as well.  I've been a steady fan of coral for quite awhile now, and the price on these pants was definitely worth spending ($4!!).  It has taken me until now to finally wear them, but I'm so glad I did - they're very comfortable, flattering, and they make such a statement that I can basically throw on a tee, some simple shoes, and a necklace and call it a good outfit :)  Because I'm weird about mixing colors (I like to match!), I started simple with a white tee, but I definitely want to try these out with black, navy, and chambray...and maybe even a mint tee if I'm feeling especially adventurous.

5.12.2014

Too Many Patterns?

Shirt: Lucky Brand, thrifted
Jeans: Gap
Shoes: TOMS
Necklace: Maurices


You're seeing things correctly in this picture...I'm wearing three different patterns: stripes, polka dots, and leopard print.  A little bit out of the box for me, who is still kind of on the fence about pattern mixing in general, but I actually didn't mind it!

I've been wearing lots of casual outfits lately, since I'm done with school and my summer nannying gig won't begin until mid-June.  I've been reading lots, catching up on TV shows I haven't been watching for the past few years, spending time with Kevin, and playing with our dogs a lot.  This means a lot of leggings-as-pants (no shame!) and cozy sweatshirts and sweaters (because it's also been cold and dreary in Minnesota lately).  I'm going to try and get my act together and start wearing some more "real" clothes soon so I can take pictures for the blog!  Now that I have some time to spare (oh my gosh, copious amounts of time), I'm looking forward to dedicating more time to my blog.

I tweeted earlier about how I'm so eager to be reading for fun again now that I'm done with mandatory readings for school.  Thirteen books are on my list, and in order to finish them all, I need to read an average of about 50 pages a day.  I'm up for the challenge!  I used to be a huge bookworm, but starting in college, when I needed to read a buttload of pages a night for class, the joy of reading faded for me.  Since I'm not planning to go back to school for several years (I'm a nerd and I know I won't be able to stay away for too long!), I'm eager to read for fun again.  I think I'll probably keep you all updated about the status of my summer reading - I'm starting off with Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent series.  My best friend loaned it to me over winter break, and I am finally getting to it.  I've already read 200 pages of it today - it's so good!!

5.08.2014

Striped Dress, Two Ways

Dress: c/o eShakti
Shoes: Skechers



Jacket: Levi's
Flats: Payless
Necklace: Gift from brother's girlfriend 


I was contacted by eShakti a few weeks ago to review one of their dresses.  I was so excited, because I  have been a fan of eShakti for years.  I even wore one of their dresses in my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's wedding two years ago!  In looking at their selection of dresses, I had a really hard time deciding which one to get, but ultimately this striped dress jumped out at me.  I loved the versatility of the black and white stripes (I may have multiple black and white striped dresses, but I love them all and wear them often), and the retro style of the dress is a shape that works well for my body type.

One thing that I love about eShakti is that you can customize your dress to your body's measurements, and change up little pieces of the dress according to your preferences as well.  I sent in my measurements to eShakti and asked for some little sleeves on the dress, and was so impressed with my dress when I received it a few weeks later.  The dress fits me perfectly, and I love how comfortable it is.  It comes with a removable belt, which I wore in the first photo.  Also...POCKETS.  I loooove dresses with pockets!

I wanted to show a couple of different ways to style the dress in this post.  The first outfit is a bit more on the "nicer" side, and allows the dress to shine.  I stuck with black accessories and wedges, but any color would look good with this dress.  In the second outfit, I wanted to dress the dress down a bit (haha, see what I did there?), so I added my denim jacket and leopard flats.  The lime necklace gives the look a little color.

One of my best friends is getting married this summer, and I'm strongly considering wearing this fun dress to her wedding - I love it and feel wonderful in it!

5.07.2014

The Past Couple of Weeks...

Dress: Target, thrifted
Jacket: Levi's
Boots: Guess
Necklace: From my mom
Tights: Target


I'm baaaack!  Here are a few bullet points of what I've been up to the past couple of weeks:
  • Finished up a massive group project for my family counseling class and presented to my class (this outfit is what I wore that day)
  • Wrapped up all of my classes for my Master's degree
  • Had my first school counseling job interview and...
  • ...GOT THE JOB!!!  (So, so, so excited!!)
  • Finished my school counseling internships (saying goodbye to the kiddos I've been working with all semester has been rough!)
  • Attended my first school counseling conference and presented twice!
  • Began working on turning my thesis into a journal article to get published
And...I graduate on Saturday.

The past two years have been CRAZY and intense, but I've really loved school.  I've kind of been living in a bit of a bubble during my program, and as excited as I am to enter back into the real world, I'm really sad to be leaving my cohort and professors.  I'm not the best at change, but I'm trying to be grateful for what I've experienced and get ready for this upcoming school year.  It feels amazing to have a full-time job lined up before I graduate - I'll get to relax this summer and prepare for my first year as a high school counselor!

5.02.2014

Lacey Peplum

Shirt: From my mom
Pants: Old Navy
Flats: Payless

In yesterday's budget post, I showed that I had bought these pants in April.  They're one of my favorite purchases of the month, because I know they're going to be quite versatile.  Not only are they comfortable, but the color is so fantastic, and with all the neutral tops that I have, they're going to be worn a ton.  I wore this outfit to my internship last week, and it was perfect.  The top I'm wearing here was a gift from my mom - it's lace and peplum...what else could I have asked for?!  Because the top is kind of a statement on its own, I kept the accessorizing in this outfit to a minimum, and I really liked the result!

PS. Doesn't the name of this post kind of remind you of a fashion-related superhero?  Lacey Peplum, destroyer of all the fashion trends that need to die!  Haha.  I crack myself up.

5.01.2014

Budgeting Bloggers: April




I'm always so shocked when the end of the month comes around - I feel like I just wrote last month's budget post!  Here's a summary of what I bought this month:


TJ Maxx
- Mint Cynthia Rowley fit & flare dress - $25 (not pictured)

- Jessica Simpson skinny jeans - $25 (not pictured)

Old Navy

- Teal ankle pants - $15
- Denim & velvet ankle pants - $5
- Black ankle pants - $20
- Gray ponte dress - $16

H&M
- Light pink lacy shirt - $12 (very similar pictured)
- Cream lacy shirt - $12 (not pictured)

Goodwill
- Floral Lucky Brand skirt - $4 (not pictured)
- Gray leopard dress (new from Target) - $8 (not pictured)
- Leopard dress (new from Target) - $8

Total: $150

I wound up spending much more than I had originally planned this month, but I honestly feel so good about everything that I bought.  Because of my recent weight gain, I had been feeling so discouraged by not being able to fit into such a huge amount of clothes in my closet.  When I was looking for clothes to wear for my first school counseling job interview, I realized I had nothing in my closet that fit me and was appropriate for an interview, and I only had about three pairs of work-appropriate pants.  I wound up heading to Old Navy and bought some more pairs of my favorite ankle pants in addition to a fantastic and flattering gray ponte dress.  I love how I look and feel in these pants and the dress, so they were definitely great purchases.  I'm also presenting at my first professional conference this upcoming week so these new pieces will be perfect for that.

When I got to meet Andi for lunch and shopping at the Mall of America, I bought two very pretty lacy shirts (super similar to the one pictured above).  They're so comfortable and will look great with ankle pants, skinny jeans, or a skirt.I've really enjoyed being much more discerning and critical while shopping lately.  I genuinely love all of my pieces this month, and was not even too bummed out spending a little bit more on some of the pieces that I got.  Because I'm going to be needing a larger professional wardrobe this fall, I'm enjoying picking out pieces right now that will be appropriate for work, but also that I can wear throughout this spring and summer as well.

I did just place a large online order from Old Navy with a few more pieces for the summer and fall with SuperCash and rewards that I've been stocking up on.  I haven't received anything yet, and I know some pieces will be getting returned, so I'll include them in my May budget post next month.

Linking up with Franish and the other budgeting bloggers!