Tuesday, December 31, 2013

december budget

J.Crew Crinkle Boy Shirt: originally $90, on sale for $50
Loft Brush Stroke Dress: originally $90, on sale for $45
Loft Tailor Striped Blouse (seen here): originally $55, on sale for $30
Banana Republic Bella Dream Tee: originally $40, on sale for $25

December Budget: $150

Quarterly Budget: $590 - $195 in November - $150 in December = $245 for January

With the end of school looming over most of December (the entire subjects of medical microbiology and immunology had to be learned in three short weeks!), and being at home or at the library in comfy clothes most of the time, buying new clothes wasn't something I was really thinking about. One look at this month's purchases shoes that I have a bit of a black and white problem! I picked up the two Loft pieces on Cyber Monday and am so happy with both of them. I haven't had a chance to wear the dress yet but I can see it being a great piece in both winter and then transitioning into spring. I really wish they made the striped shirt in more colors as I like it and wear it that often. The Banana Republic tee was something I saw when I went to return a sweater I had ordered online. It's incredibly soft, long enough on my arms and torso, and has a low enough neckline to be flattering (I find boat necks aren't really that great on chesty girls, and most striped shirts seem to be boat necks!). I hope it goes on sale soon so I can pick it up in blue as well!

The J.Crew gingham shirt is something I've been thinking about for a long time. I was at the mall in Madison last week, and really liked this shirt. Buffalo plaid/red check has been all over the place, and with a 30% off promotion going on in stores, I was like "hell, let's just do it" but as soon as I walked out of the store, I felt uneasy about my purchase. My feelings were justified when I got home and didn't really know exactly how I wanted to wear it. The colors are red and dark blue, which in my crazy head makes it not really something I want to pair with black bottoms (the majority of what I wear to school). In addition, I've been trying to narrow down my style and how I want to dress, and red and blue buffalo plaid is just not something that will be that versatile in my closet. If I'm going to spend that much money on a shirt, it was going to be on something I really would wear a lot. It was definitely one of those purchases that wasn't well thought out, so I'm glad I was in a position where I could still return it. The next day, I received a promotional email announcing 40% off final sale items online. I found the black gingham shirt on the regular page, but marked down $10 off the original price. I've wanted a black gingham shirt for years, but never found one I liked - this one was it. Same cut as the buffalo plaid, but in a pattern that is more versatile for my closet. Even though it said that the 40% off was only for final sale items, I tried it on the recently marked down shirt, and it worked! So now the black gingham is on its way to me, and the buffalo plaid is on the way back to the store. It was all definitely a learning experience about not making impulse purchases and what I want to have end up in my closet.

As I look back on my purchases over the last year, I'm happy about where I am at when it comes to the clothes in my closet, what I'd still like to own, and my feelings when it comes to shopping. Buying something new is fun, and getting it for less than what the store would like you to pay for it is exciting, but I find that I don't have that need for new things all the time. Part of it is that I just don't have the time - school is very consuming, and the few hours I get to not be in school are spent doing fun things with my friends, not wandering around the mall by myself looking for something to buy. The other part is that I like all of the clothes in my closet now, and I don't have those "I have nothing to wear!" moments as often anymore. Sometimes I feel guilty because I've been spending "more" on individual pieces, but I would rather buy one shirt that will be worn many times, instead of 3 that I'll wear twice each. As the new year starts, I want to continue this method of buying and rounding out my closet, and maybe cut down on the budget a little bit to tuck some money away for summer activities.

This month, I also received a few pieces from sponsors. I've wanted a monogram necklace for so long, and was lucky enough to receive one from oNecklace. Back in September, I won a contest from OnlineShoes.com, and received a $500 gift certificate. I've been trying several different boots, but none have worked out so far. I did order these black flats, and have been wearing them nonstop since they arrived. They're the perfect simple black flat!

Did you stick to your budget this month? Was Santa extra nice this holiday season? I'd love for you to link up with other budgeting bloggers below! Please make sure you link back to this post so that your readers can discover other budget-conscious bloggers!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: a review

I'm kind of a nostalgic sap, so looking back at this past year puts my heart all over the place.

2013 was quite the year - probably the biggest I've had in a long time. I was accepted to medical school, quit my job, enjoyed funemployement, moved hundreds of miles away, started medical school, ended a half a decade relationship, and finished my first semester of school. I found a great great great group of friends who have been a blessing - I don't think I would be anywhere as happy as I am if it weren't for them. I love my living situation, and having such an amazing roommate. My dogs are happier, my calendar is busier, and my heart is fuller.

In a blogging year, I've finished a whole year of budgeting. I worked on defining my wardrobe. I took one, and then passed it on! I showed how to wear five things five ways for five days. My budget changed to reflect living off student loans while still needing to be dress code appropriate. I hit over one million pageviews since starting this thing. Blogging friends became real life friends. I had to learn to adjust my time towards blogging as school picked up - I'm still working on that :/

Overall, a wonderful year! Here's a little look back over the year, with similar topics to last year's review. Thank you for everything! I'm so glad that we "met" over the internet (and in some cases, in real life!) and how supportive you've all been. Here's to 2014!

Favorite Outfits:
one | two | three | four five
2013 was a year of figuring out what I like and don't like. I gravitate towards layers, heaps of scarves, and more basic colors. I generally stick to two similar silhouettes - slimmer pants with layers on top, or skirts with shirts tucked in. My accessories tend to be matchy matchy but I like that, and it's easy! I like simple patterns - stripes will always be number one, followed closely by polka dots.

Least Favorite Outfits:

Along with figuring out what you like comes with the price of figuring out what you don't. I tried to take a few "risks" for my closet, but it turns out that I should stick with the color palettes and proportions I know and like. Neon and 80's geometric prints are great for some, but not for me. Now I know!

Favorite Purchases:
I've really tried to curb my spending from where I was a few years ago, and really am proud of how far I've come when it comes to making purchases for my life and bank account. Having a budget, and sticking to it, means I buy less, but what I buy I really do like. I try to think more about what I need for my current life, and what I still want around in five years. These ponte pants are a staple for me - I wear mine so so much that I will be buying a second pair during the next great sale. My birthday present to myself, a classic Burberry trench coat (at 50% off retail price), will be one of those lifetime pieces, truly. The tax refund purchase, a pair of Hunter boots that fit just right, was one of the more practical purchases of the year - I wear them every single day!

Biggest Regret Purchases:

This goes right along with my least favorite outfits. The Madewell sweater was something that I was initially excited about, but once I wore it the one way I thought about, I just didn't know what to do with it anymore. The pastels and pattern are just not "me", which is why I sold the sweater during the big closet clean out. The neon shirt, while inexpensive, was a purchase inspired more by other bloggers than what I wanted for myself. Makes for a good lounging tee though!

Most Pageviews:

Same as last year, a post about how to layer more efficiently took number one, mostly thanks to Pinterest. A few reviews, including these unflattering pants and my favorite t-shirt, made it to the top by google searches. I posted about wanting a herringbone vest, and due to the overwhelming popularity of that item, it also made it to the top thanks to Google.

Favorite Discussions:

Investment Pieces - made up words to convince ourselves to spend more on certain items?
What's "Blog Worthy" - are we trapping ourselves in by only showing the best of the best?
Who knows about your blog? - what happens when your classmates/co-workers find out?
The Business of Blogging - where does the money come from, and where does it go?
The Perfection Pressure - do you feel the pressure from blogging to always be "picture perfect"?

Thank you again for all of your support! Hope you all have a safe (and awesome!) New Years :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

easy "curly" hair for the straight-haired girl + pantene giveayway

So if you, like me, have fairly straight and lifeless hair, but would like to maybe have a bit more volume, here are a few quick and easy ways to get there. I use this method during the school year a lot since I can just quickly shower at 2 AM and have my hair almost ready to go in the morning with minimal effort, but for the holidays I would add a bit more volume and maybe some sparkle!

Step 1: Shower and wash your hair at night. Before your hair air dries, use some mousse (I used Pantene's Triple Action Mousse) and serum (Pantene's Smooth with Argan Oil Shine Serium) for shine and hold. Then french braid your hair, and sleep!

Step 2: In the morning, use the time you would have usually spent washing and blow drying your hair to sleep a bit longer...or to give yourself a manicure, as I should have. Take the braid out and loosely comb out your hair with your fingers. No brushes allowed!

Step 3: Clip up half of your hair, and curl the bottom half. I use a wand-less iron, and just grab at random pieces. The whole point of the french braid was to provide some texture, so if you miss a piece here or there, it won't be as noticeable as if you started with straight hair.

Step 4: Then curl the top half - I usually hold on to the curl for a few seconds to let it cool down.

Step 5: Make sure all your "hard work" doesn't go to waste - I used Pantene's Extra Strong Hold Hairspray. Wait a few seconds, then comb your fingers through your hair to loosen up the curls.

Step 6: Tease to Jesus. Just kidding - don't go overboard, but do tease a little more than you think you need to since some of it will fall with time.

Step 7: Pin! Or don't. I like my hair pinned back most days so I just take a little poof and use my favorite bobby pins to make it stay back. 

Step 8: Spray some more! I used Pantene's Keratin Repair KeraGloss Oil Mist to add a little shine and a lot of good smell (seriously, it smells so good) to finish it off. 

And that's it. Easy, festive if needed, and just an easy hairstyle for every day if you want it to be. Pantene has been so generous and is offering to give away the same products I received including:
  • Pantene Advanced+ Keratin Repair KeraGloss Oil Mist
  • Pantene Smooth with Argan Oil Shine Serum
  • Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal Silky Moisture Whip
  • Pantene Stylers Extra Strong Shaping Hairspray
  • Pantene Root Lifter Spray Gel
  • Pantene Volume Triple Action Volume Mousse 
  • Pantene Pro-V Heat Shield Shampoo
  • Pantene Pro-V Heat Shield Conditioner
Just enter the Rafflecopter below - the winner will be chosen on Thursday and contacted by email. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

home for the holidays

I'm finally home! The semester wrapped up on Thursday, and I spent Friday getting some of my life in order (okay, mostly just cleaning and Christmas shopping), and then headed back to Wisconsin on Saturday. I have heaps of thoughts on going through and finishing my first semester of medical school, but that's for a future post!

For now, I'm just glad to be home, have someone else make my meals, celebrate Christmas with my family, and then fly down to Alabama for a few days on the beach. I'm already missing my friends back at school terribly but I'm trying to appreciate the short amount of time my family and I have together.
Speaking of holidays, when I was asked by Pantene to talk about holiday hair, I was unsure what exactly to show you guys. My hair is pretty lifeless on it's own, and I tend to just go with straight hair pinned half back most days. I've been using Pantene products for years and years, so I was excited to test drive a few more of their new products. Since I received a whole box full of Pantene products (including their Triple Action Volume Mousse, Extra Strong Shaping Hairspray, and their KeraGloss Repair Mist, which I'm really excited about), I decided that I'd show you how I make my straight hair have a little life twisted into it. It's super simple, takes only a few key products, and will hopefully save you time in the morning!

Today is all about just spending time playing in the snow with my puppies, but tomorrow I'll have a little post about what products I used and how you can win a box for yourself!
Vest: Gap [LOVE this plaid version]
Cardigan: J.Crew, thrifted
Scarf: H&M
Pants: Gap [exact]
Boots: Hunter [exact]

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

mismatched metals

This shirt is the shirt I bought during Loft's 50% off Cyber Monday sale last week. Although it is all tucked in weird and the sleeves are at different lengths in this picture, I really really like it. It's loose enough to be comfortable while fitted enough to not lose shape under. It is slightly sheer, but not enough that you can really see through it. I wish they made it in different colors as it's something that I would definitely buy in multiple colors, something I tend not to do. 

In other news, my flats have had just about enough. They are slowly dying on me, which is somewhat disappointing but also expected as I do wear them every.single.day. They aren't so bad when I wear them with non-black bottoms, but they look awfully beat up in these pictures. I finally broke down and ordered these flats. I wanted something that was about as plain as you could get because having accents on shoes makes it difficult for me to mix metals sometimes. I get all weird about mixing metals and leathers...except in this outfit where I apparently threw all caution to the wind and mixed all the things. 

In other other news, my first semester of medical school will officially be over in 9 days. Until then I have 2 giant micro/immunology exams, another large written final, and two practicals. Please send positive thoughts, five hour energies, and the will to live my way.

Blouse: Loft [exact]
Skirt: thrifted
Belt: The Limited [similar]
Watch: c/o Daniel Wellington [exact]
Bracelet: c/o Apple of My Eye [exact]
Ring: Gorjana Griffin [exact]

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

monogram it all

A few months ago, I was looking through Instagram and commented on Steph's picture complimenting her scarf. When she contacted me a few weeks later asking me what my favorite color was, I didn't really make any sort of connection...until she sent me this beautiful scarf in the mail. It was such a great surprise during a stressful time, and such a sweet thing of her to do. I wear this scarf almost every single day now. It's probably best I haven't been taking as many pictures lately as you guys would be like SHOW US A NEW SCARF, WE'RE BORED. But I really do love it that much, and am so grateful that I have such a great group of blogging friends :)

Scarf: gift from Steph
Chambray: Old Navy [current version]
Sweater: Gap 
Pants: Gap [exact]
Shoes: Old Navy [similar]
Necklace: c/o oNecklace [exact]

On a side note, I received this monogram necklace from oNecklace and am so excited about it. The necklace was made and delivered quickly, and is made of a delicate sterling silver. If you are interested, you can receive 10% off your next order with the code GIFT. It would make for an awesome Christmas present for that monogram-obsessed sister/mother/friend!

Monday, December 2, 2013

cyber monday: buy all the things!

Cyber Monday is happening alllllllllll over the internet right now. You know me and sales! I rarely, if ever, buy anything without using some kind of coupon code first. While there are so many different sales going on, here are a few of the ones I have my eye on.

I have admired this simple jewelry for so long - I think I initially found it on Pinterest and have always kept an eye on it. I think the "meh" ring would be the perfect pick me-up for exam days (just to truly describe how I feel about 8 AM Monday exams).

I tend to do a lot of window shopping at Loft, but don't tend to buy that much because we don't have one here, so I don't like to pay for shipping. With the current 50% off sale going on, I'm a bit more open to paying for shipping. I think this striped shirt would be perfect for both casual settings and school. I've been continuously looking for easy dresses to wear, and this black and white dress would be great with both red and cognac accessories. If I didn't already have an overabundance of dark drapey cardigans, I think this one would be a great neutral to add. It just looks so warm!

BaubleBar is a one-stop shop for all current jewelry trends for affordable prices. I was lucky enough to receive this chevron ring from them, and wear it constantly. The Love necklace would be a great present for a sister or friend (or self!), while the pink link necklace would be really fun to wear during the dreary winter months.

a few other notable sales happening:

Banana Republic: 40% off with code CYBER

I caved and ended up ordering this ring for myself (and possibly additional for the girls in my family), and this shirt and this dress. Hopefully you find a great deal either to treat yourself or to get some early Christmas shopping in!