Sunday, April 19, 2015

John and Craton's Wedding

Saturday, April 18, 2015 was a special day in our lives; Aaron's best friend finally got hitched.

Aaron and John share a friendship spanning roughly 25 years. I first met John nearly 11 years ago, and I am so happy he has found his perfect match.

John wed his beautiful bride, Craton, in a lush green, backyard ceremony. After a barbecue dinner and many sappy speeches, everyone let loose -- really loose -- on the makeshift dance floor. Sure, a couple ladies had too much to drink, but what's a wedding without a little drama to laugh about years down the line? It's tradition.

Congrats, John and Craton!

And welcome to the Mr. and Mrs. Club.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Accountability: Checking in on My New Year's Resolutions, Part 1

I don't have the best track record of keeping new year's resolutions. But really, who does?

Since we're a third way through the year, I thought I'd share my progress in an attempt to keep myself motivated and accountable.

In January, I proclaimed 2015 "the year of more," and shared 10 resolutions.  I've definitely been working to achieve that more, more, more goal, but alas, I could be doing more. (Shocker, right?)

I also need to add a goal to that list: Be a better advocate for my health and health care. This has always been a new year's resolution, but I was shy to share it. Plus, I already had a perfect list of 10, and 11 goals irks my obsessive-compulsive nature. But it's an important goal, and one I've been neglecting.

Progress on My First Five Resolutions

1. My first goal was to walk the dog five days a week. That definitely has not happened; however, I am walking more often than I did in years past. More importantly, my walks are now double to triple the distance they were at the start of January. I've built up a lot more stamina and really miss walking when I skip a few days. Walking -- rather than driving -- to pick up prescriptions or return a Redbox is becoming the norm. (I just wish I didn't sweat so much while I wait in the pharmacy line at CVS!)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Edible Easter Nests Table Place Settings

Looking to impress your Easter guests? Add some whimsy to your Easter dinner table place settings with these cute and edible birds nests.

This idea comes from the creative brain of my mother, who made these birds nests last Easter. She said they are simple but a bit messy to make, so wear gloves to protect your manicure.

First, create your butterscotch-noodle nests.
  1. Empty 1 bag of butterscotch chips into a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of shortening.
  3. Stir the chips and butter together over low heat.
  4. Pour 1 bag of chow mein noodles into the saucepan.
  5. Stir the noodles until they are coated with the butterscotch.
  6. Scoop out the noodles onto wax paper and shape your nests.
You can also vary the recipe by adding chocolate and/or peanut butter into your saucepan on low heat.

Then, hatch your bird family.

Fill the nest with gummy worms, chocolate birds, Peeps, and egg-shaped candies, including nuts, jelly beans and chocolates.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Birthday Shopping Spree Week: Practical Deals

Being a responsible adult means choosing the practical, no frills bra you really need over the cute sundress, or even the oh-em-gee so cute polka-dot Tommy Hilfiger push-up bra with lace trim.

I am a responsible adult. With mad shopping skills.

For my birthday, Kohl's sent me a coupon for $10 off anything, no exclusions. Bless you, Kohl's.

After browsing the bra section and wrinkling my nose at the weak-tea buy one, get one half-off sale, I sauntered over to the clearance intimates section and found a black Bali bra. Normally $40, it was on clearance for $12. After my coupon, I paid $2.16. That's what I call a score.

I still needed a basic white bra, and I was also interested in a sports bra. I only had about $8 left from my original $50 birthday gift.

I comprised between a sports bra and a white wire bra and got a Warner's brand wireless bra with lift, and good, supportive straps from Ross for $12.15 total. I can stomach going $4 over my birthday cash for such a great haul.

So for just under $55 total, my birthday haul included:

1. Thrifted red vintage handbag 2. New black bra 3. New henley polka dot top 4. Thrifted red blazer 5. New white bra 6. Thrifted zebra clutch 7. New black jeggings 8. Thrifted teal sundress 9. New royal blue dressy dress

I also used my $3 CVS Beauty Club Birthday Rewards combined with my $5 CVS Pharmacy Rewards to buy 8 new hair accessories for $1.60 total.

Not too shabby.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Birthday Shopping Spree Week: Thrifted Halter Dress and Red Blazer

When it comes to thrifting, I have my go-to shops, but I'm always looking for new stores to add to my favorites' list.

My mom had scored some mega deals on collectible Sesame Street characters at Mary's Thrift Store on Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights, so on a Thursday, I decided to check it out.

If only I had stopped by the day before. Mary's has day-of-the-week sales, and Wednesdays are half-off everything used in the store. The dresses that piqued my interest weren't covered on Thursday's sale, and I wasn't crazy about the sticker prices. The poor organization of the racks also kept me from taking many items back to the dressing room.

I did, however,  walk away with one purchase for $4 and change.

In warm weather, I'm all about the sundress. And I especially love the teal color and comfortable cotton of this Forever 21 halter. The dress is in like-new condition, and I know I'll get a ton of use out of it.

Goodwill is not a store on my favorites' list because lately I've felt that, as a whole, the chain is a bit overpriced. Some Goodwills are definitely better than others, but I don't go out of my way to visit any one location. 

The Goodwill on Manzanita in Carmichael is minutes from my mom's house, so I stopped by on the way to my family birthday dinner with red on the mind. I browsed the store for a specific-style of red cardigan, a red blazer and red heels.

I found a soft, lightweight red blazer I liked, but didn't love the price tag of $6.99. In my mind, the blazer, which is more on the casual side as it's not structured like a suit blazer, should not have been ticketed above $5. It also has the tiniest imperfection in the lining of the left pocket, which I may or may not be able to fix by ironing.

Despite my reservations about the price, I took it to the register, where I received a happy surprise; it rang up half-off at $3.49. That's more like it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Birthday Shopping Spree Week: Shop Your Way Scores

My treat-yo-self birthday shopping spree adventure continues with killer deals from my much touted Shop Your Way Rewards program. I swear SYW isn't paying me for this promo, I just love it that much and really hope Sears doesn't go under; I would mourn the loss of my rewards.

Shop Your Way offered me another free trial of its free shipping program for 90 days, plus an offer to get $10 back in points on a $10 or more online purchase, excluding clearance.

So I signed up and crossed another item off my list: a comfortable top I could see myself wearing regularly.

Normally $14.99, on sale for 11.24, this navy, polka dot, tab-sleeve, henley top cost $12.14 after tax. I got $10.11 back in points for a future purchase.

A few days later, SYW sent me a birthday coupon: $10 off any Sears purchase of $25 or more.

So to Sears I went with my wishlist in mind.

After trying on arm-fulls of black pants, I settled on a pair of petite-sized Canyon River Blues jeggings, normally $40, on clearance for $16. At 5' 3", anytime I can find pants I want in the petite section, I'm a happy shortie.

In the store I did not realize the pants are quite warm, so hopefully this unseasonably warm weather will cool down so I can actually wear them this spring.

My big score came with this royal blue Convington dress, normally $29.99, on sale for $14.99.

After my $10 off and $10.21 in points, I paid $11.64 with tax for the dress and pants. 

I'm going to an outdoor wedding next month, and although I have a closet full of dresses, I really wanted something I hadn't worn before. I specifically envisioned a blue dress that could go with or without tights. I also wanted a dress that would be formal enough to coordinate with my husband's best man tux, without being too over-the-top for a backyard wedding.
When I first bought the dress, I was in love with it; however, it's one of those colors that really changes depending on the lighting. In the store, it presented as a much brighter blue, and in my house the color is more a more muted purplish blue. It even photographed as two different colors outside. I haven't pulled the tags off just yet. I don't dig the purple.

In total, my three items were just under $24 and would have totaled $84 at full price. Not too shabby.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Birthday Shopping Spree Week: Thrifted Handbags

Birthdays are a big deal for me. It's that rare time of year that I will treat myself with the gift money I receive.

I am not someone who will just buy herself what she wants; I wait until I have pharmacy rewards at CVS to buy a new mascara or box of hair dye. I almost only rent from Redbox when I have a discount code. If a store sends me a coupon for $5 off a $5 or more purchase, you better believe I will find something I need between $5 and $6. When a new album comes out I want, again, I wait until Christmas or my birthday to ask for it. And although I have a pretty sizable wardrobe, it's been accumulated over many years, and it's cost me very little.

Some people would call me cheap; I prefer thrifty, of course.

For me, retail therapy is real and thrilling. I get a high out of scoring great deals and finding the items on my list of "need/want when I have the money" that I keep on my little, dated slider phone.

On my wish list: 
  • Red, rectangular vintage handbag with snap or button closure
  • Semi-formal cobalt or royal blue dress
  • Belle dress I saw at Hot Topic
  • Black jeggings or skinny jeans
  • Quality bra
  • Comfortable but cute top
  • Red blazer
  • Belts for dresses

I could also use a few replacements:
  • Black knit tights like my favorite pair that my dog scratched holes in when she couldn't contain her Jack Russell enthusiasm and jumped all over my legs because I came home after hours away. 
  • Sexy red heels that won't cause pain like the pair I currently squeeze my feet into. 
  • Shapewear that won't ride up my butt like a middle school locker room wedgie.

While I don't expect to get everything on my idea list, I've been ticking items off with ease and money to spare.

And thus I bring you, a week of posts celebrating my thrifty, birthday shopping spree.

The Handbags:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Workout Clothes That Don't Look Like Workout Clothes

Comfortable and cute are two words that don't go together often enough in fashion.
I have skinny jeans, that while my vanity loves the look, my gut hates the squeeze. Those skinny jeans and the like are the clothes that send me straight from entering the front door to exiting out of the pants and changing into lounge pants at lightning speed. I'm pretty sure 20 male comics have made jokes on the subject of a woman's rush to make the drawstring pant change. 

But this thrifty outfit is so comfortable and stretchy, I literally did yoga in it earlier today. And if I actually had anywhere to be, I could totally pair it with heels to instantly dress up.

The top is a 99 Cent Sweater Sale find from Thrift Town, and the jeggings are my newish pair from Ross. The embellished Rocket Dog shoes are probably 9 years old, a super great $10 clearance find from Famous Footwear.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Mid-Century Craigslist Scores

When it comes to acquiring new furniture for the house, I have two rules I almost always follow.

  1. The new piece has to be free or under $11.
  2. Otherwise, I have to sell something I already have to pay for the new piece. And then it still has to be a stellar deal.

For example:

When I wanted a different chair in the family room, I sold our rocking chair (picked up for free, 5 minutes away) for $35 and bought this cushy, zebra print chair for $20.

Because I'm diligent about following my self-imposed rules, I sometimes wait a bit to get what I want, especially since I'm picky and obsessive-compulsive about matching.

Lately, I've been frustrated using with my hope chest as a coffee table in the living room.

We use baskets and decorative boxes to hold all our stuff, but those storage containers take up a lot of space atop the chest. That's space where our feet and cups like to go. And even with the top of the chest cleared, we still have limited to space to both kick up our feet. Basically, we have to sit close together to stretch out.

Not to mention, the chest is kind of a pain to move, and we have to move it several times a week to exercise.

I wanted a coffee table that would be longer than the hope chest, have a drawer, and be simple to move around.

Finding something on the inexpensive side that would match the shade and style of our cherry mid-century furniture proved to be a challenge. 

Until it didn't.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Early Valentine's Day Date

Early Valentine's Day is the way to go. There's less pressure, no crowds and you don't have to pay jacked up prices.

We went out on Thrifty Thursday, which is why this blog is coming a bit late. I was busy with my sweetie all day.

We started the day with presents. Aaron had already received his main gift early: three small Venus flytraps. He has this thing for carnivorous plants. Plus, I'm always saying, "Feeeed me, Seymour!" because the hungrier I get, the harder it is for me to actually find and prepare food.

I also gave him The Essential Weird Al Yankovik. Weird Al was one of his favorite musicians as a kid, and we saw him at the California State Fair a few years back.

On my end, I helped Aaron out by pinning jewelry I liked and by browsing jewelry in store together. Better to be thorough than to be disappointed!

I really wanted a right-hand ring, and not only did I get a sparkly infinity ring, but I also opened a necklace and pair of earrings to match.

He even surprised me with a Gilmore Girls tee on my favorite cobalt blue.

And I still have flowers to look forward to on Saturday.

For our date, we used gift cards from Christmas to finally see Birdman. It was really interesting and different in a refreshing way, and we got to watch it with the entire theater to ourselves.

I'm a big fan of Century Roseville for this reason. I guess it doesn't bode well for the business that it's so empty during the week, but that, the film selections and the laid-back staff keep us coming back, even though we have another Century minutes from our house.

After the film, we had a quick dinner at Olive Garden; we were too stuffed from candy and soda to eat much at the restaurant.

Since it was 9 p.m. on a Thursday night, the restaurant was fairly quiet, we were seated immediately and food arrived promptly. I think our server was also able to be more attentive to our little group of tables than she'd be able to come Saturday, when there's going to be a line out the door. Early Valentine's, it's the best!

For our relaxed date, I kept it simple. Warmth and comfort are my priorities when I go to the movies.

I wore one of my favorite more casual dresses, a black and white polka dot halter top from Thrift Town, paired with my new-to-me teal sweater from the recent $0.99 Thrift Town sale. Thick black leggings, plus my long, dress coat used as a blanket kept me cozy during the film.

The sweater had few imperfections from wear, but nothing needle and thread couldn't fix in a few minutes. I don't mind having to sew a little when the price is right.

My attempt to show off my new jewelry.