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Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope everyone is having a happy heart day! I'm working from home today, but this is what I wore to work yesterday. I've had this combo for quite a few months now. But you know that's how I roll. Stash it in the closet until the mood strikes.
 
I adore these Gap pants. I have a weakness for tuxedo stripes. I just think these are adorable and made for a really cute outfit. And my shoes. I've talked about them, right? I bought them around Christmastime and they are like walking on pillows. Serious comfort!

So any plans for the big day of amour? Hubby and I have not had much luck going to restaurants on VDay in the past. We would go to nice steakhouses only to end up being rushed, squeezed into tables, and being served a limited menu of dry, small steaks. Just not worth it. So we try to think of different things to do now. We're going to try a new pizza place and then make crème brulee followed by streaming a movie and then... (insert cheesy bow-chica-bow-wow music).

Have a good one!




 
{Pants: Gap (buy them here) | Sweater: J. Crew | Shoes: Skechers Go Walk (buy them here) | Lippies: Nars Dragon Girl}
 
 


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Money Saving Tips

I shared with you a couple of tips for getting financially healthy - put away the credit cards or hand them over to someone else and unsubscribe from temptation emails. For me, those emails were J. Crew, Gap, Pottery Barn, West Elm, etc. Just know this - with Gap and J. Crew, there will always be a sale. Seriously, their stuff is in constant rotation and you can usually score 20-40% off on any given day. So if you are really needing those Super Skinny Jeans and that blinged out tissue tee, just access the store's website when you need something. But pay cash! No I don't mean hold your $20 bill up to the computer and wish for cybersuction. Use a debit card. If you are Target-paranoid (that should be a new dictionary term), use your credit card but then go onto the credit card's website and immediately make a payment for the amount just charged. Don't wait for the bill to arrive - pay that sucker immediately or you're more likely to spend the cash on something else.

Want more? Do your own freggin' nails. I don't know about you but I've been getting some pretty lazy pedicures. I hate coming out of a salon with freshly painted toes that look good but are still dirty under the nail bed. Half-assed pedicures are just not worth my $20+. So I grab an elongated plastic container, fill with soapy water, and soak in front of the TV. Ahhh. Nice warm water and a good show. And no unnecessary broken English conversations that go something like this, "Do you have kids?" "No." "Where you live?" "Tampa." "You like it there?" "Yes." And done.  You can purchase all the necessary supplies once from Sally's or Walmart and dig and chop and shape til you feel pampered. Paint your toes, speed up the drying time with your blowdryer, and repeat as many times as you want during the week or month.

Coupon. Yes, sit at your dining room table and cut coupons Sunday morning. Take advantage of the Bogo deals at your grocery store. I shop at Publix. They accept competitor coupons so I can take printed Target coupons and those weird bulk store coupons for $5 off $40 purchase. But I also check out Walgreens and CVS circulars. I have a Diet Coke habit. Me lovey diet soda. I don't have a coffee habit. I have a soda habit. It's my vice that I'm not giving up. Publix usually doesn't have as great of deals on soda that the drug stores do. Same with toilet paper and paper towels. The rule I like to follow is to use a coupon when the item is on sale for maximum savings.

Cook in bulk. If I'm cooking a pasta dish, I'll double or triple the recipe so that I can freeze leftovers. I'm the cook in the family. Hubby will start dinner if I give explicit instructions, but for the most part, it's on me to cook. So when I'm feeling tired, like I have been lately, I'll take something down from the freezer the night before and let it thaw in the fridge. Tonight we had a veggie alfredo dish with a side of MORE veggies and some bread I heated in the oven. It took 15 minutes to prepare, which allowed me time to blog and do my tootsies.

Sign up for restaurant emails. I get emails from Pei Wei and PF Changs and often take advantage of their specials. I can go a few different ways home from work and one of the ways takes me past Pei Wei. I have two coupons for Bogo meals and we will take full advantage of it tomorrow night. I typically order Veggie Lo Mein and Honey Seared Shrimp with extra veggies and extra shrimp. For under $15, hubby and I have a nice Chinese meal (better than some expensive not-so-good Chinese fast food near the house) and typically lunch the next day. And takeout at your favorite restaurant will always be cheaper than dining in. This Valentine's Day we plan to pick up a gourmet pizza and play with the kitchen torch on crème brulee while we gaze lovingly into each other's eyes.

Adjust your thermostat. This mostly applies to my Southern peeps or for those living in a 2-story with two A/C units. It could be 39 degrees one day during the winter months in FL and then jump to 80 the next day. Florida's weather is all over the place. If we are running the A/C, I'll turn the A/C up before I leave the house in the morning for the upstairs. Since hubby works from home, we keep the thermostat set at a comfortable level for him downstairs. There's just no need to run the A/C full force when only the bottom part of our house is being used during the day. Same thing goes for lights. Turn them off when you leave a room! You heard your parents - now listen to them you little energy wasters.

Conserve gas. I have a long commute. I drive 35 miles one way to work four days/week. I'm constantly filling up my tank. There's not much I can do about it except get gas in Pinellas county where the gas is cheaper or near my house further inland from the highway where it tends to be cheaper as well.  I lost my Winn Dixie card so I don't take advantage of the rewards but I'm not a fan of shopping at Winn-Dick-Me, so that's a moot point. I used to leave work every day at lunch and go run errands or just do mindless shopping. I rarely do that anymore. I pack my lunch, surf the net, figure out ways to save money or work on my budget plan at lunch now.  Even just going to Target, which was seven miles away from work, wastes 14 miles of gas. If I need something, I'll typically go on the weekends or stop closer to home. There's a Publix one mile from my house.

Do your own hair. I've done this before. I've done my own gray roots. I had a Sally's card to save money on products and while I lived in Connecticut, I did my own roots and highlights. I killed the back of my hair with the highlights, but the roots were pretty good. I even had hubby help me with the roots a few times. We would call him "Antonio" and he would speak in a foreign accent. Yeah, we're weird. Next time you go get your roots done, watch how your stylist parts your hair and how she applies the product. Ask her what "level" your color is. I'm currently a level 8 (light blond) with 20% volume developer. Typically developer and color are mixed in a 2:1 ratio. Two parts developer to one part color. Buy a plastic bowl and application brush, section your hair, hang a mirror on the wall in your bathroom so you can see the back of your head and apply. Leave on 35 minutes and save $50! I don't do this anymore since I budget for my hair color once a month but I may resort to it again.

Prime your face. Invest in primer. I use Hourglass Veil. It's very smooth and goes on like liquid talc powder. If you use an expensive foundation like I do (Dior, which I buy once a year for $50), the primer will cut down on the amount of foundation you need. And on the note of makeup - you don't need "makeup" brushes. I find art store brushes work better than those specifically sold as makeup brushes. My eyeliner brush is a very fine art brush (18/0) that gives a much better wing than anything MAC sells. I bought mine at a scrapbook store when I went with my sister last year. Michael's is a good place, too. Then you can use a 40% off coupon!

And finally - sell your clothes on eBay or consign them. eBay may give you a better return since you don't have to give the consignment store their 40% cut. I plan to list a bunch of items that just don't work with my lifestyle anymore (or my 10lb weight gain). So get ready! Lots of good stuff going up on eBay this weekend.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Taking a Break

Hi guys. I feel like I owe you all an explanation for the lack of posts lately. I'm just taking a bit of a break. After blogging for over two years, I needed to take some time off. Part of it is focusing on getting financially healthy. Without anything new to show you, what do I blog about? Part of it is being absolutely swamped at work until April as I'm not only documenting mortgage servicing procedures but also training procedures on originating loans. When I get home I'm so exhausted that the last thing I want to do is blog or exercise. Although I still wear makeup every day, I've taken to throwing my wet hair up into a ponytail almost every day just so I can get out of the house on time.

But it's not all work and no play. I have a couple of fun girl dates planned with friends over the next couple of weeks. I met my girlfriend at the farmer's market last weekend and hubby and I are going to celebrate my stepfather's birthday next weekend. I have been trying to get a lot of sleep on the weekends just to catch up with being swamped at work. And hubby and I were sick, again. Well, I was sick again. Once again, it came from a co-worker. Wasn't as bad this time as it was around Christmas but we did spend a whole weekend either in bed or on the couch nursing our colds.

The vegetarian diet? Still doing well on it! It's opened my eyes to getting creative in the kitchen. I'm buying veggies weekly now, too. The other night I made an enchilada dish that was spectatuar using rice and quinoa as the base with a bunch of fresh veggies, black beans, and herbs and spices. I cook a lot of stir fries as well. I've done a potato and goat cheese flatbread that was quite yummy. I still hate soy. The cravings for meat are still there but not enough for hubby and I to cave. We don't have nearly the amount of heartburn and digestion issues like we used to. And I'm sure when my workload lightens up, I'll have some extra energy like hubby does.

How's the financial situation coming? Slow. Paying down things will take quite a while. Credit cards are still in the drawer. I haven't been tempted to buy like I used to. I'm making long term goals for myself and for hubby. I'm starting to think about retirement, traveling, and paying extra towards our mortgage. The online shopping has dropped to almost nothing. Seriously, the daily routine of receiving packages when I get home is down at least 90%.  I'm more concerned about what I will save than what I can spend. It's really a strange and wonderful mindset. I look at things in magazines now and calculate in my head how long I will need to save to have that item. Currently, we are saving for our trip to South Dakota in July to visit hubby's family. It's expensive flying into the Midwest. $500 each! I'm also saving up for a new dishwasher.

So lots of different things going on but just don't feel it's very blog worthy right now. We haven't made any progress on the closet buildout since we've been sick and overworked. I have been couponing more, though. Doing a lot of cost comparisons when grocery shopping. I know that you all like my writing so if you are up for random thoughts every now and again, I'll still post. But I also know that what attracted a lot of you to my blog was my daily outfits or home improvements. We've slowed way down on the home improvements and the daily outfits are what I can wrangle out of the three different closets that smell clean and don't require much effort. Yep. I'm slobby again. When the alarm goes off at 5:30 or 6am, I don't even want to think about what I'm going to wear.

Ironically, my Pinterest account is pretty popular. Can you guess which two household items get repinned every damn day? My vanity and my bathroom. Those are the most popular items on my boards.

Soooo...if you'd like to hear about anything particular, let me know. I'm a writer, so you know I can't stay away too long. Oh, I did have to stop following another CA blogger that got too big for her britches. And mistakenly put a pic of her house on her blog while the MLS listing was still searchable on Trulia. Look here kids, if you can afford a $1.5M house on a blogger's salary and redo your entire gourmet kitchen when there was nothing wrong with it to begin with, then I just can't relate to ya. She can sprinkle her cupcakes in 24K gold for all I care. I prefer to keep things real.

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