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Budgeting Bloggers | July

I finished up a year of no shopping at the end of May, and was glad to report that I did no shopping in June either.  However, I did do a bit of shopping this month...all of which I'm super excited about!
Goodwill purchases (1)
Goodwill purchases (2)
The Target sandals I bought are no longer available online, but this is what they look like.

  • Denim vest: Maurices, $5
  • Purple studded tank: Gap, $7
  • Chambray tunic: Old Navy, $5
  • Giraffe print top: Ann Taylor, $6
  • Cream waterfall cardigan: LOFT, $6
  • Gray/black lace cardigan: The Limited, $4
  • Blush short-sleeved sweater: Lou & Grey, $5
  • White/black studded blouse: Rock & Republic, $5
  • Gray/black striped sweater: Mossimo, $5
  • Gray/black leopard tunic: Fever, $2
  • Mint/black exercise top: Ryka, $9 (New with tags, originally $60!!)
  • White sheer tank: Cabi, $3
  • Black dress: Merona, $5
  • Brown maxi dress: Motherhood Maternity, $4 (New with tags, originally $40!)
  • Gray/black polka dot skirt: Elle, $3
  • Brown/black/cream patterned tank: Mossimo, $5
  • Bronze Birks: $17
  • Black Birks: $17
Total: $113

I have already blogged about my Goodwill shopping trip earlier this month and how thrilled I am with all of my new pieces.  However, I also found two pairs of wannabe Birkenstock sandals on clearance at Target this month.  I couldn't decide on a color so I bought both a black pair and a bronze pair.  THEY ARE AMAZING.

Honestly, I've worn at least one of these new items nearly every day throughout all of July.  Some of the items (giraffe print top, gray/black polka dot skirt, gray/black striped sweater, for instance) I haven't worn yet because either the weather is too warm or because they're a bit nice for my very casual summer routine, but I am eager to pull them out this fall for work and when it cools down!

From here, my goal is to hit up Goodwill every couple of months or so just to see if there's anything new I could add to my closet.  I don't feel like I really need a ton right now, but I also have heard rumblings that we're getting a new, strict dress code at my school.  If that's the case, I'm likely going to need to purchase a few new things to round out my work wardrobe.

I'm linking up with Fran and the other budgeting bloggers.



So, I've been a little busy this week...becoming an AUNT!!  I'm thrilled that my gorgeous niece, Elouise, has arrived - 2.5 weeks early, but healthy, happy, and perfect in every way.  Kevin and I have been snuggling her as much as we can.
 I think the look on my face says it all.  LOVE.
 Is this not the most perfect face you've ever seen?  I can't stop gazing at her.
Happy uncle and auntie doting on Elouise.

I'm probably going to continue being in and out of my blog for the rest of the summer - between spending tons of time with our sweet niece, nannying, continuing to settle our house, and enjoying the remainder of my summer, I've not really been wearing anything too special (like here, I'm literally wearing a chambray tunic and yoga crops...#fashionista).  BUT!  I promise I will pop back in here and there :)

[PS. Yes, I still love and use hashtags.]


Recent Thrifting Finds

I've talked recently about the rut I'm in right now when it comes to getting dressed.  Many of you provided some excellent suggestions about how to combat that rut - thank you!!  I think a big reason why I've been in said rut is because I haven't added a ton of things into my closet over the past year (due to not really shopping all year).  However, as I've perused different store websites to see if anything being offered in stores right now speaks to me, I have been utterly uninspired.  I decided to head to my local Goodwill to see what was there - you can always find some random treasures at the thrift store!

I walked through every single rack (except for capris and blazers - I'm not looking for either of those items right now) and spent about 2 hours looking through all kinds of clothing items, filling my cart, and trying on said items.  I tried on well over 50 items, which took a lot of patience, but I really think it paid off in the end (I took home 16 items!).

Here are my super cute (hahaha) dressing room photos with reflections on the items I took home, and a few of the items I left behind:

I've been looking for a waterfall cardigan for a long time, but most of them are way too bulky for my body's already bulky shape.  This cream linen cardigan from LOFT is perfect!  It's lightweight and soft, and I like how it drapes on me.  I've also wanted a cardigan with a lace detail for quite awhile as well, and this gray + black cardigan from The Limited fits the bill.  I like how it has 3/4-length sleeves and is a v-neck shape.  It will be perfect for work!
I know I already have a few black dresses, but they're one of my favorite things to wear.  I loved the wrap top of this Merona dress, and it is SO soft!  I felt comfortable in it and I know it will get worn tons for both work and casual outfits.  The middle photo features a stretchy knit pencil skirt with polka dots.  I have gotten rid of most of my skirts, as they just aren't very flattering on me, but I absolutely loved how this one felt and looked on me.  I wore it with the tank both untucked and tucked, and I liked how it looked both ways.  The maxi dress on the right is a deep, chocolate brown.  I was a little hesitant to try it on because it happens to be a maternity dress, but I tried it on because it was a size smaller than I typically wear, it was super soft, and I have wanted to find a maxi dress forever.  I'm an apple shape so most of my weight is in my belly, so perhaps the small amount of extra fabric in the belly is perfect for me.  Regardless, you cannot tell it's a maternity dress and I loved how it felt and looked on me (this picture is awful haha), so I took it home.  Plus, it was new with tags, and let me just say, I got this for a steal!
After years of avoiding sleeveless tops (stupid society saying that bigger girls can't wear sleeveless shirts!!!  I curse you!!), I've been wearing tanks all summer.  They're just so comfortable in warm temperatures and I like how I can add a cardigan or jacket if I get chilly, so I've been looking for some more to add to my collection.  The purple Gap tank on the left is my all-time favorite shade of purple (my favorite color!), and the studs give it a nice detail.  The middle tank is actually a workout tank, but as I'm spending more and more time on my bike, I've been looking for comfortable, cute, flattering workout tops.  This one is Ryka brand, and was new with tags (originally $60!!).  I felt amazing in it and I can imagine myself cruising around St. Paul in this tank and some black workout capris.  The white CAbi tank on the right is sheer and breezy, and I'm obsessed.  I love the longer length - I can wear it with shorts this summer, but in the cooler months, I could wear it with leggings or skinny pants and a jacket or cardigan on top.  Perfection.
I almost didn't try on the leopard tunic (the brand is Fever) because it's a size small (and I'm normally a size L/XL and wear a size 16 on the bottom...sooo not a small...), but I absolutely loved the print and it looked pretty oversized.  I'm so happy I tried it on.  It's soft like buttah and is wicked comfortable (in fact, I'm wearing it with gray leggings as I write this post...).  It also is appropriate for work - with some black skinny pants and boots or flats, I could wear this number all year round :)  The middle Mossimo sweater is fairly plain, but as I currently own literally one sweater other than this one (and it's an ugly Christmas sweater), I figured this one could get plenty of wear.  It's a lighter weight, so I'll be able to wear it during the fall and spring as well.  The blouse on the right (the brand is Rock & Republic) is kind of edgy with studs on the collar.  I've been really drawn to edgier styles over the past couple of years, and I really love this top.  It's edgy but still appropriate to wear to work.  I can see myself wearing this top with skinny jeans or pants, or even with the polka dot skirt I bought on this trip as well (see above).
The Old Navy chambray tunic on the left is my 4th chambray shirt (I have a problem), but I like that it's a different style and wash than my other chambray shirts.  It's a size bigger than I normally wear, which means I'm going to wear the heck out of this with leggings on the weekends (baggy = the comfiest!).  The blush sweater on the right is Lou & Grey, which is a brand I've always drooled over on LOFT's website but just can't justify the cost of.  I was super excited when I saw this top on the racks, and was even more in love when I tried it on.  It's incredibly soft and I love how lightweight it is!  Like so many of the other things I bought on this shopping trip, I can wear this top all year round - on its own during the warmer months, or layered with a blazer/jacket/cardigan in the cooler months.  And I love blush so...#winning.
This giraffe print blouse from Ann Taylor was one that I realllly hoped would fit (it's a size smaller than I usually wear).  When I tried it on, it was perfect!  I really like animal print (surprise surprise) but I don't have anything in a giraffe print right now.  The front of this blouse is kind of a silky material, while the sleeves and back are a very soft knit.  My favorite detail of the blouse is actually in the back - there is a line of buttons in the back from the neck to about halfway down my back, and it's adorable.  The blouse on the right (Mossimo) is another perfect blouse to wear all year round and in both casual and dressier outfits.  It's all neutral colors, but it has cream, white, gray, tan, and black - all the neutral colors that can be found in my closet.  I'll definitely be getting a lot of wear out of this top! 
Another thing I've been searching for about 2 years now is a denim vest.  Because it's kind of a trendy item, I didn't want to spend very much money on it, so when I found this Maurices vest for just $5, the price was right.  I love the crocheted detail on the back as well - it's a little bit boho and a little bit rock and roll, and totally something I'm going to wear the heck out of.  In fact, I wore it the other night over my pajamas just because.  (Also, I'm sorry for my face in the photo on the right.  It's creepy and inexcusable, haha.)
These last two tops are two of the tops that were almost perfect, but that I didn't wind up taking home.  The taupe Ann Taylor tee on the left was cute, but the material was just a little bit too clingy.  I also thought that the color was nice, but might be tricky to mix and match.  The Forever 21 top on the right totally reminded me of something Nicole would wear (<3) and I loooved the print and the fit was nearly perfect but...those sleeves.  You can't really tell in this photo very much, but the sleeves fell in such a weird position and they made me look so much broader than I am.  I almost bought it anyway because I loved it otherwise, but I also reminded myself that if I wasn't 100% in love with it or if the fit wasn't perfect, it needed to stay behind.  Sigh.

So...there you have it!  16 new items for my closet - and I am smitten with all of them.  When I was shopping, I just grabbed anything that caught my eye without being too picky about color, style, etc. - I wanted to see what stood out to me when I wasn't trying too hard to buy something for the blog, to fit any particular style, etc.  I just wanted to find things that were interesting to my eye.  Apparently I'm still having a super love affair with neutrals, and I'm drawn to some edgier pieces (studs, black/gray, looser tops to wear with skinny bottoms, etc).  Perhaps this is the direction my closet will be taking??

Next up in my journey to get out of this dumb rut is to find some more accessories.  I'm hoping to find some Etsy shops and/or local stores and companies to look for some new jewelry and perhaps some more scarves (I know I have a ton of scarves already but they're my #1 accessory and I love them).


Dresses 4EVER

Dress + Leggings + Vest + Flats: Old Navy | Belt: The Limited

Like earlier this week, here's another little dress + leggings + flats number I wore a few months ago!  I do really love this dress (but right now I can't wear it because I've yet again gained some weight - how does this keep happening?!  I'm eating well and staying active!!!  UGH!), and ultimately, I still love my neutrals for the most part.

I wrote in my post earlier this week about how I'm not really feeling the whole getting dressed thing these days because nothing really feels like "me."  I do have to say, though, that most of the time when I'm wearing a dress, I feel pretty dang good.  In the summers, I like to just wear them on their own (perhaps with a necklace or a lightweight scarf), but in the cooler months, I love them with leggings and flats like I've done here, or with tights/leggings and boots when it gets even colder.  I wonder if I just need to start adding more dresses to my closet...I'm very picky about tops, so although I have some pants that are okay, I really dislike most of my tops (and when I browse online, I dislike most of what I see, too).  Therefore, I don't often feel excited about or good about any outfits that are bottoms + tops.  Hmmm, maybe I'm on to something??


Closet Inventory | One Year Later...

Last March, I wrote my first closet inventory post, where I outlined just how many clothes I had.  I was really shocked to discover that I had 400 total items in my closet at the time, and attempted to cut that number in half.  Three months later, I followed up with another post, where I was proud to announce that I was successful in purging 157 items from my wardrobe.  I wanted to follow up once again, a year later and let you know what is currently in my closet.

Note: I am not counting loungewear, swimwear, and undergarments in my totals, but I am including accessories.  I specify this because I know many of us can easily start to hoard accessories and in order to be fully transparent, I want to include them in my counts.

Camisoles: 16 - 18
Sleeveless/tank tops: 2 - 7
Short-sleeve: 11 - 9
3/4 or long-sleeve: 8 - 14
Button ups/popovers: 10 - 5
Pullover sweaters: 5 - 1
Total tops52 - 54 (down from 84 tops in March 2014)

Denim jeans (black/blue): 5 (same as in June 2014)
Colored/patterned jeans: 3 - 2
Pants: 10 - 8
Leggings: 5 (same as in June 2014)
Shorts: 3 - 6
Skirts: 8 - 3
Total bottoms: 34 - 29 (down from 51 bottoms in March 2014)

Sleeveless dresses: 6 (same as in June 2014)
Short-sleeved dresses: 6 - 7
3/4 or long-sleeved dresses: 5 - 6 
Total dresses: 17 - 19 (down from 27 dresses in March 2014)

Vests: 1 - 2
Cardigans: 12 - 14
Blazers: 4 - 3
Light jackets: 2 (same as in June 2014) 
Winter coats: 1 (same as in June 2014)
Total jackets/layers: 20 - 22 (down from 36 jackets/layers in March 2014)

Flats: 6 - 4
Wedges: 2 (same as in June 2014)
Flat sandals: 5 - 3
Sneakers/TOMS: 10 - 6 
Boots: 6 (same as in June 2014)
Total shoes: 29 - 21 (down from 42 shoes in March 2014)

Scarves: 17 - 15
Necklaces: 18 - 15
Headbands: 16 - 14
Earrings: (not including studs): 19 - 15
Bracelets: 2 - 1
Tights: 8 - 10
Belts: 11 - 9
Total accessories: 91 - 79 (down from 159 accessories in March 2014)

Total items: 243 - 224 (down from 400 items in March 2014)
Total items (excluding accessories): 151 - 145

While I have added certain items into my closet over the past year or so (including the fruits of a massive successful shopping trip to Goodwill that I'll share with you soon!), overall, I have slightly cleared out more items from my closet.  I definitely still have things in my closet currently that I am not 100% sold about, but I'm also trying to figure out the best way to eliminate the things that I'm not super jazzed about (see, if I got rid of things that I'm 100% in love with currently, I'd have about 40 things in my entire closet and I would only have like 1 pair of pants...).  That bit will take time.  All in all, though, I do feel great about the current state of my closet.  I'm eager to continue fine-tuning and exploring my sense of style and seeing where the journey takes me!


In a Rut

Dress + Leggings: Old Navy | Cardigan: TJ Maxx | Flats: TOMS | Belt: Target

Yes, this is yet another outfit from April.  I have no shame.  I did really love wearing this outfit, though.  I still can't get enough of the dress + leggings look, and I liked how the coral cardigan stood out and added a bit of color to the overall outfit.

I've been feeling really blahhh about my whole closet lately and trying to think about why that is.  I guess a big part of it is that I feel like I have no real sense of style.  Most of the things I'm wearing just don't feel like me...but the hard thing about it is that I don't really know what "me" does feel like.  I'm not sure if I need to look to Pinterest and find outfits that I'm drawn to, or if I need to go shopping (I haven't bought anything in a lonnnng time), or if I need to just get more creative?  Maybe what I need to do is stop thinking about it and just wear what makes me feel comfortable?  It's a strange feeling.  Perhaps it's because I don't like getting dressed for this time of year and have hardly anything that's summer-appropriate?  Who knows.  I'm going to do some stylistic soul-searching and see what happens.

What do you like to do when you're feeling like you have no sense of style or are in a style rut?


Weekend Recap + Another Old Outfit!

Tee + Cardigan: Old Navy | Pants: Kohls | Flats: Payless | Scarf: Gift

Oh look!  Another boring outfit from April!  I'm the worst and haven't taken any outfit photos since May, but I had a few leftover, unblogged outfits that I will just share with y'all until I finally take some new photos.  I've really been enjoying my summer of wearing the most unexciting outfits ever, haha.

But let's do a little weekend recap!  That's much more interesting!

Friday was Kevin's birthday, and we were able to spend the whole day together, which was so much fun!  We rode our bikes 8 miles to Seward Cafe, a fantastic restaurant with tons of vegetarian and vegan food.  Seward Cafe encourages its patrons to actually converse with those around them, so it  has a no cell phone rule.  The first time I went there, it was a strange feeling to not be able to check my phone, but as I've gone there more and more, it is actually very freeing.  When you look around you, the other patrons are talking with each other, playing games together (there is a wall of games you can bring to your table), or single diners are reading books or just enjoying their food.  It's a great place to check out if you're ever in the Twin Cities!

After our bike ride back home, we showered and watched an episode of Orange Is the New Black (we're slowly making our way through the third seasons - omg so good!) before going out for dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery and enjoying a fantastic comedy show at Brave New Workshop downtown with Kevin's best friend Mike.  The food was delicious (I had a margherita pizza), and the company was great.  The show we saw was called Mad Vax: Beyond Measledome, and it was hilaaarious (you can read a review of the show here)...tons of satire about the anti-vax movement, a great sketch about "evilution," and some great one-liners about how/where the apocalypse starts.  It also had plenty of references to the newest Mad Max movie (which, by the way, is SO GOOD) - it had Kevin, Mike, and I howling with laughter.  After the show, we went to a bonfire at one of Mike and Kevin's friends' houses for some beer, more laughter, and good discussion.  It was a totally Kevin-centric day, and it was awesome.

Saturday was the 4th of July.  I spent the afternoon at my mom and dad's house playing games with my parents, grandparents, brother, and a family friend.  It was so much fun to spend time with them all!  In the evening, I went to Kevin's parents' house with the dogs and we ate food, played games, and played our annual game of midnight badminton (there are holiday lights on the net and we use an LED-lit birdie so we can play in the dark).  So much fun!

Sunday was a very quiet day.  I basically stayed at home and did a little reading, a little cleaning, and a little napping (oops).  I did have a friend from college over to catch up.  Our new house is just about two miles from her house, which is so exciting!  She and I haven't seen each other in two years, so it was fantastic to have the opportunity to just sit on our deck and enjoy each other's company.  Such a blast!  Have I mentioned how much I love living back in the Twin Cities?!  I do.  I love it.

I hope y'all had a great weekend, too!  What were your highlights?


Monthly Goals | July

Every month, I comment about how crazy it is that it's a new month...I shouldn't be as shocked as I am each month, but I just can't get over how fast time is flying!  Anyway...with the start of a new month comes a recap of the previous month's goals and an outline of the new month's goals!

Recap | June Goals
1. Get the new house all settled | As I mentioned yesterday, our new house is almost completely settled, with the exception of just a little bit of artwork and finishing painting our kitchen (we ran out of paint and have been very lazy about getting to the store to buy another can...).  It's really starting to feel like our home now, which is so exciting!  I'm eager to continue exploring our new neighborhood!

2. Have friends over for games | Last weekend, we had my brother and his girlfriend over for dinner and games.  We actually had so much fun talking and laughing together that we didn't even get to the game portion of the night (and they stayed until nearly 2:00 am)!  It was such fun to spend time with them both!!  Another bonus of our house being in St. Paul?  We live only 10 minutes from my brother right now...the closest we've lived since he was a senior in high school, 11 years ago!  We even go to the same grocery store and Target, so we're eager to coincidentally run into each other from time to time now, haha.

3. Look for (and hopefully buy?) a swimsuit | I spent a ton of time this month looking for different swimsuits, but I haven't found anything that I'm ready to purchase yet.  When I looked at Target (where I've scored the previous several years in finding cute and somewhat flattering swimsuits), I found nothing, which was highly discouraging.  All of the two-pieces were either frumpy or skimpy (ew to both), and all of the one-pieces looked like grandma suits (ew again).  I am seriously considering getting a two-piece suit - high waisted black bottoms (I found a pair from JCPenney that I like) and then a cute vintagey-looking balconette top.  I'm not 100% sure I'll feel great in such a suit, but I'm really starting to get desperate.  I need a swimsuit!!  So...yes, I did look for a suit, but no, I did not buy one.

4. Make a dentist appointment | FAIL.  I need to do a little research to find a dentist in our new area.  I'm being a total weenie about it and so I'm avoiding it at all costs.  Ughhhh.

5. Buy a Fitbit | I bought my Fitbit early in June, and I've been having fun with it.  Admittedly, I haven't been good at getting in my 10,000 steps each day (I am so unmotivated...ugh), but it has helped me learn how to make better choices to get more steps in.  I also love how it helps track my sleep!  I go in spurts of being a great sleeper and an awful sleeper, and I'm trying to identify patterns that affect my sleep quality.

July Goals
1. Get 10,000 steps every day and drink 100 oz of water every day | I'm going to admit that I'm a stress-eater.  With the past couple of months being very stressful for Kevin and me, I hate to say this, but I've gained some weight (oh heyyyy, all-time high...UGH).  I really need to jumpstart my healthy choices again.  I know from previous successes that if I focus on something that pushes me a little bit (like making sure I get 10,000 steps a day) and drinking lots of water, I can actually lose weight.  I just need to make it a goal on my blog so that I have a bit more accountability!!

2. Try a new recipe every week | I...really don't like cooking.  I feel like I can never do it well, so I tend to get easily discouraged in the kitchen.  However, as with most things, I believe that I will get better at it as long as I keep practicing and trying new things.  I spent awhile this past weekend looking through some of our cookbooks and flagging different recipes that I want to try.  I actually got pretty excited about some of the things I found, so I'm eager to head to the grocery store and get some ingredients!

3. Play music | I have an entire room in our house dedicated to my hobbies.  I have been neglecting my musical instruments lately, but playing them brings me so much joy and contentment.  I'm really looking forward to playing them more often now that I have a whole room to practice in!

4. Organize the basement | Now that we have our very own basement (haha, priorities), we're excited that we can actually store things in it.  However, when we moved in, we wound up throwing a bunch of extra boxes and things that we only use some of the time downstairs, making it quite a mess right now.  I want to take a chunk of time this month to organize it a little bit so that it's less chaotic when we go downstairs to do laundry.

5. Recreate a date with Kevin | I think I've mentioned this before, but one of the reasons Kevin and I wanted to move to St. Paul is because we met in St. Paul - the first chunk of our relationship began in St. Paul and we did a lot of fun activities together in various parts of the city.  I'd love to recreate one of the first dates we ever went on - dinner at the Cafe on Grand, a bubble tea at the Tea Garden, and a walk around Lake Como.  How fun would that be?!

What are your goals for July?


Currently | July

Top + Leggings + Vest: Old Navy | Boots: Target

Ohhh my gosh.  It's already July?!  After a very busy and chaotic June, I'm ready to take on July head first!  Here's another glimpse into what I have currently been up to!  (Also, here's an outfit I wore back in April that I haven't blogged yet.  Leggings + tunic + vest + boots = the comfiest outfit!)

Craving | Fresh fruits!  The girls that I'm nannying love to eat all kinds of fruits, so when I'm at their house, we always are munching on peaches, raspberries, apples, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, cherries, etc.  I can't get enough fruit these days!

Grilling | Nothing...we haven't set up our grill at the new house yet, so we haven't been grilling.  However, I did buy a package of these to try out ASAP.  They. Look. Amazing.  (Side note: I've been a vegetarian for over a year now - crazy!!!)

Listening | Kevin and I went to see the musical Once with his parents last Thursday, and HOLY CRAP it was the best thing EVER.  I'm utterly obsessed with it, and I've been listening to the soundtrack on Spotify nonstop all week!  This video shows snippets of the 2013 tour - so wonderful!

Planning | What to do with my week and a half off of nannying!  My nanny girls are going on vacation until July 12 and so I get a nice, long stretch of time to just chill out :)  I can't wait to fill my time with lots of reading (I read two books yesterday...), walks with the dogs, friend and family time, etc.

Decorating | We're just finishing up the final touches on our new house - we just need to hang the last pieces of artwork on the walls.  I'm planning to paint some pieces for our bedroom and my "office" (aka hobby room, where I keep all of my music, painting, and language-learning stuff), but other than that, we're basically all settled!

I'm linking up with Anne and Jenna!