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Monday, January 31, 2011

tax refund shopping list

It's the beginning of tax season. It's both a good time and a bad time because for some it means they owe Uncle Sam and for others it means Uncle Sam owes them. Fortunately, I'm a grossly underpaid, single, renting female with no human dependents, so I usually get a tax refund every year.

I enjoy planning out how I will use my tax refund and this year is no exception. However, I'm constantly bothered by the fact that I should really be putting this "extra" income to a good and sensible use and not just blow it on more clothes or social uses (dining out, movies, etc). So, I've decided to really think hard about how to use my tax refund this year and try to purchase things that I actually need or invest some of the money in a way that will SAVE me money in the long run.

Some ideas that I have are to...

- Invest in some good quality business clothes. Working in a casual wardrobe environment has allowed my business wardrobe to suffer. However, because I don't need a ton of these, it's wise to invest in a few quality pieces that will not only be classic/timeless in design, but well made so that I don't have to replace them next year. One of my favorites are the Perfect Trouser Pants from Gap. They are wonderfully tailored to fit those who are...ahem...blessed with curves.



- Pay off some debt. I don't really have a lot of debt (thank you Mom & Dad) but I do have a car loan. I'm at the point now where I've paid off all the interest and I'm only paying down the principle, so, a little bit of extra money on that loan will REALLY make the number go down dramatically.

- High-interest savings account. I have 2 normal savings accounts, but I was introduced to a high-interest (high yield) savings account by a friend. The Orange savings account by ING Direct is one that seems pretty interesting.

- A little luxury. All this investing and saving is good and all...but it's boring. :( Plus, a girl needs a little reward, right? So, I'm thinking it might be one of these...(all from Roxy)




How do you plan on using yours?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

weekend update

So, I got a few things accomplished off my to-do and want-to-do list from this weekend.

First: I made these craft stars. Here are two of mine. I painted them dark red and did it in sort of a rustic/weathered look.


Second: I made my cupcakes. I made 2 kinds since the people who would be enjoying them may or may not have liked sprinkles. So, I did a non-sprinkles and a sprinkles version. Here is the sprinkles version.


As for the other part of my weekend, well, I wasn't able to do as much of that as I'd like since I spent most of the weekend nursing a sick boyfriend who came down with some GI thing. Probably it was The Plague, but thankfully I'm immune to The Plague because I take my gummy vitamins everyday. My boyfriend does not....and thus, potentially the reason he got The Plague.

Over all, I'd say it was a good weekend. I even got a chance to make my favorite Broccoli Cheddar Casserole dish!

Friday, January 28, 2011

a lovely weekend

This weekend, I'm inspired to get crafty, organized and motivated.

First, I'll start with this craft project. I already have some like this in my living room so I'll make more to add to them.

Then maybe I'll be inspired to re-arrange my bedroom. Lately I've been really loving this picture I found from Coastal Living.


Then I think I might bake a dozen or so of these. I'll need to prettify them though.




Then finally, with the previous event in mind, I still need to stay motivated and on track with my exercising so that maybe I can indulge in one of these beauties from Modcloth.



AH. A full and lovely weekend it will be.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

eatsy

So I read an article today about food marketing/advertising and it was SHOCKING! Now, let me just preface this article by saying that it likens the food industry with the pornography industry but only in example. It talks about the glamorization and perhaps the sexualization of eating and cooking. It was a very interesting and enlightening article about how camera operators and photographers use very visual close-ups, flattering angles and pretty lighting to get the perfect "shot".

Anywho, here's the article as it appears on Etsy's blog.

It got me to thinking about recipe books and even online recipes sites. How much more likely are we to try a recipe if it includes a picture? If the recipe is text-only, is it as appealing?

For example, take this recipe for a cheesecake from Allrecipes. com.


Pretty good, right? But not sure if I'd try it.

How about if this was added to it?? (which is the actual recipe picture)



How much MORE appetizing does it seem? I have a little journal in which I write down all of the recipes that I have created, heard of or borrowed from others and liked. But, it's just my handwriting in a book. It might be worth it to start snapping some pictures of these as I make them and putting them in there so that the next time I go to cook, I'll make my selection based on picture and not on my handwriting. :)

Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

what's in my purse?

Inspired by a similar post from this cute blog, I decided to do my own version of a "What's In My Bag" post. But instead of my camera bag, it's my purse. Finally! You'll get to see what my Mary Poppins-esque bag contains! (I know you just can't stand the anticipation, right?)

First, here is my purse opened. The purse is a beautiful taupe tote from H&M, purchased on a recent trip to  a city that has an H&M.


And next, here are the contents laid out.


Yes, ladies and gents. You get all you see here and more! Starting from the top left and moving clockwise...
-hairbrush
-makeup and medicine bag (this bag-within-a-bag holds many secrets and magical things)
-pick comb (for my 'fro)
-pair of  Palmetto croakies
-black ballpoint pen (for autographs and spontaneous ransom notes)
-pair of convertible mittens (Target)
-yellow change purse (from Rue 21)
-pack of Halls Fruit Breezers throat drops
-pair of sunglasses (Forever 21)
-Orbitz spearmint gum
-Coach wallet
-set of personal keys
-set of work keys
-cell phone
-Johnson's Baby Care lotion (you never know when you'll need soft hands)
-BUILT neoprene camera case (Target)

I know, I know. You're utterly astounded. Just wait until I decide to do this again sometime...I may decide to reveal what's inside my Magical Makeup Bag. ;)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

top 5 tuesday: why I love nautical inspiration

As of late, I've been obsessed with all things nautical. Not necessarily the "sailboats and lobsters" look, but I'll coin the term "nautical inspired". It's inspired by this Hampton, beachy, coastal look but isn't all starfish and compasses, you know? And even if you're not "preppy", it's still possible to incorporate some of these cool things into your home or wardrobe. So as we prepare for spring, here are the top 5 things I love about nautical inspiration.

1. Stripes. Hello my name is April and I'm a stripe-aholic. But I love how this look is so clean and simple with stripes. From bold contrasting stripes like navy and white and red and white, to the more demure seersucker and pinstripe look. I love them all.

2. Classic designs. You won't really see kitschy, eccentric or unusual in nautical inspiration. Everything is pretty classically designed and simply tailored. A simple a-line skirt. A beautiful striped duvet. No excess frills or thrills.

3. Breezy fabrics. In the South, it's gets real hot, y'all. So, the idea of clothing and house linens in breezy fabrics like linen, cotton, seersucker, canvas and denim blends make for breathable (and sweatable) comfort in the hotness that is July in the Carolinas. You know what I'm talking about...

4. Cute icons. Okay, okay, I said no starfish and lobsters, but some of these are really adorable. I do love crab and anchor stuf specifically. They are just so cute. Perfect for kitchenware or a tote, but not necessarily on clothing. Unless it was more subdued. Also, the whole sailboat, compass, sailing look can be cute when not overdone.

5. Colors. Navy. White. Red. Kelly Green. Pink. Yellow. Something about these colors makes me happy. I love the contrast of a navy and white or green and pink even. Many of these combinations can be found in nautical inspiration.

Here's a pic collage of some things that you might see in Nautical Inspiration.

Monday, January 24, 2011

love. period.

I realize I'm late to jump on the I-LOVED-OLIVIA-WILDE'S-DRESS-AT-THE-GOLDEN-GLOBES bandwagon, but I'm gonna dedicate a small post to her dress today. Note: dedicated to her DRESS, not her necessarily. Although, mad props for her for actually wearing it and for her styling with the dress.

So, the dress. It's a glitterly, gorgeous gown by Marchesa. If I had a reason to wear this dress I would so buy it. Heck, even if I didn't have an occasion to wear this but had the money...I'd buy it anyway.

Okay, enough build up. Here it is...in it's gorgeousness...


photo creds: justjared.buzznet and shoppingblog

Saturday, January 22, 2011

sew simple: lamp post covers

I have these lamps on my bedside tables that I've had for years. They aren't ugly...just boring. They needed some color. Here's my chilly day project...






Friday, January 21, 2011

color my moment: mystic topaz

I've been "in lurve" with this color as of late. Well, it's not actually a color, but a gemstone. I think it is a gorgeous mix of blue, green and purple. Some of my favorite colors. Here are some jewelry and some stuff that the colors inspire.
Enjoy these beauties!






 
Photo credits: infashionshopping.com, etsy and sangmaestro.com

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

eco-kitschy eating

I love to eat. I love saving the calories and money that come from eating lunch out everyday by taking my lunch to work. I, on occasion, love kitschy things.

So, what better to take my lunch in than these adorable, handmade insulated lunch bags. They are eco-friendly and made in the good ol' U-S of A and can be found at this seller's shop on Etsy.

These are so cute and colorful. PERFECT for brightening up your lunch hour at work!




Oh, and these also come in more muted colors, patterns and prints. But, who'd wanna use that when these are available?!?!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

top 5 tuesday: best birthday parties

DISCLAIMER: this is a slightly selfish and somewhat personally nostalgic post!

So, today is my 26th birthday. Over the last 26 years, I've had quite the variety of birthday parties. For today's Top 5 post, I'm going to share some of my favorite birthday party memories. I may not remember the age I turned, but I remember the par-tay fo' sho!

1. When I turned 22, I had a Mexican Fiesta party complete with mariachi music, 7ft cactus wall hangings, chili pepper christmas lights and taquitos. YUM!

2. My 11th (I think) birthday was at a roller skating rink here in Charlotte called Tradewinds. I remember having my party at the Aladdin table and all my friends skated and ate cake. A few years later, someone was shot and killed at the skating rink and it closed. Plus, it was kind of in the ghetto. (echo: in the ghetto)

3. I had a series of birthdays from maybe 12-14 that consisted of a similar routine. a) invite preteen or teenage girls over for homemade tacos b) pile teenage girls into minivan and drop off at the mall for a few hours c) bring teenage girls home for snack and an eventual sleepover. There were some variations to this plan that included an Ace Ventura birthday theme, a Mary Kay makeover and photo shoot and a homemade sunflower cake made with Twinkies.

4. When I was younger, maybe 5 or 6, I remember having a birthday party with all of my classmates from school at my house. We had a pinata...indoors. HA! Also, someone decided to give me a purse as a gift and inside of it was underwear. Once my sister saw the underwear she took them from me and held them up for everyone to see. Awesome.

5. This isn't necessarily an official birthday party, but when I was turning..oh, maybe 12 or 13, I somehow ended up in Columbia, SC with my grandparents. My grandmother took me shopping for clothes and for a bra...how embarrassing, and then we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant there. I remember having to stand up on a chair while they sang Happy Birthday to me....while I wore my new bra and shirt. Never have I been more mortified in my life. To this day I still get a little queasy when I hear the waiters in restaurants start singing the birthday song.


This is me on my first birthday. I'm not sure why I look so nervous. Perhaps it was because I knew the mess that was being made with the cake...and my inability to walk over and clean it up. I also noticed in this picture that if there was ever question as to me being my father's daughter...here is the evidence to prove it. Also, this was probably the last time I ever had white cake with white icing...and the only reason I had it for my first birthday is because I couldn't talk, let alone diagram my cake out using Adobe Photoshop.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

this needs to be a-dressed...

I've long been a lover of the beautiful clothes at Modcloth.com. Most of their dresses are drool-worthy and have a beautiful, vintage vibe. However, there are some that can be pretty pricey...not to mention weird. After browsing their latest dresses this morning, here are some of my favorites. They can all be found at Modcloth.com.




*It is purely coincidence that my top 4 picks ended up being similar colors. What can I say?? I gravitate to them...

Friday, January 14, 2011

splurge vs. steal 2

I'm the queen of cheap. (for the most part) I will not, and I mean WILL NOT pay over $50 for a pair of non-athletic shoes. Chalk it up to being especially hard on shoes, chalk it up to being frugal, or chalk it up to being my father's daughter. Eh.

For those of you who share my sentiments, here are a few "splurges" followed by their frighteningly-similar-yet-drastically-cheaper alternatives known as "steals".

 Splurge: Aldo $64.00 & Steal: Christian Siriano for Payless $29.99

 Splurge: Christian Louboutin $495.00 & Steal: American Eagle by Payless $19.99
 Splurge: Vigotti $71.20 & Steal: Payless $24.99
Splurge: Nine West $60.25 & Steal: Lela Rose for Payless $29.99
*By no means do I actually endorse stealing shoes. But, compared to the prices you would be paying, it could be considered stealing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

snow wonder i'm bored!

So, in case you haven't been following me in the last few days (tsk tsk) the area where I live has literally come to a standstill since we got 5 inches of snow and 1-2 inches of ice over the top of it Monday and Tuesday. Schools have been out, workplaces closed, and most people haven't been able to get out of their driveways until today. I had lots of down time...and time to think. Here are some thoughts and conclusions that spawned from my 2 days of cabin fever.

1. I really, REALLY need a pair of waterproof gloves. Chalk it up to living my life in the south...my little cotton gloves were no match for snowballs and snowmen.
2. I probably should invest in a pair of snow boots, though for the time being, my rain galoshes worked just fine with a few pairs of socks underneath them.
3. I eat out of boredom. I've known this for a long time, but have just really come to terms with it.
4. I'm not as bad of a dancer as I initially thought I was.

All of the cute things in this Snow Essentials outfit can be found at REI!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

top 5 tuesday: top 5 things to do on snowdays

1. Get crafty. Go here and be inspired to try something new. Sewing project? Woodwork? Painting? Jewelry making? Silk screen? There are tons of projects on here ranging from easy/beginner to difficult/expert.

2. Get organized. Take the time that you have to be inside anyway and get some stuff done around the house. Need to purge your closet? Or maybe your shoe closet? (yes, it is possible and plausible to have a closet designated solely for shoes...but I digress) Maybe you want to re-organize your kitchen cabinets?  Think of it as a (large) jump on the spring cleaning.

3. Get ahead. Have some projects/tasks that will be coming up later in the month/year? Get a head start on them. Start working on your taxes, researching/planning your vacation or even making your Christmas gift lists. Anything that consumes your time later on in the year, you can use this time to work on it now.

4. Get caught up. Fallen behind on your New Year's Resolutions? Forgotten to plan out your menus for the last few weeks? Take some time to go back and re-evaluate what it was that made you stop doing something that you want/need to do and work on ways to keep yourself from stopping again. I heard somewhere that shoveling snow burns more calories than running or something. Maybe that's just wishful thinking?

5. Get desperate. I've been known to surf the net and find the most hilarious and ridiculous viral videos ever. So, here are a few of my favorites straight from YouTube. Enjoy!
Bill Cosby Understanding Southern http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1NsC98xVN0
The Beatboxing Flutist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8_K0l12A5E
Bill Dance's Fishing Bloopers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_BLggf-mqs
Senior Adult Hip Hop Choir http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1kjkUAA9VM
Boom Goes the Dynamite http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W45DRy7M1no
Falling Supermodels http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36WgNX_--hI

Monday, January 10, 2011

winter inspiration

It snowed today where I live. Quite a lot actually. I absolutely loved how the white snow covered everything and made it seem so fresh and clean. I also saw that many people I know were really into making snow cream...this I do not understand. No matter how clean the snow looks...it's still recycled storm water drainoff...but I digress...

Today, I've been inspired by the snow to post some pretty pictures of crisp, clean, white bedding. I've never been adventurous enough to try pure white bedding, but after seeing some of these pictures, I just might do so.



Sunday, January 9, 2011

sew simple: inaugural project

So, I got a sewing machine for Christmas and decided to break it out this weekend. This one was a Singer Simple (designed for extreme beginners) and it included an instructional DVD. Let me just say that for as "simple" as this was supposed to be, it wasn't very intuitive for those who knew absolutely nothing about sewing machines. I've only ever sewn by hand and most of those in my family with the craft gene don't use them. So, I had quite the time threading the machine and I even broke a few needles on my first project.

BUT, despite that strange beginning...I did it! And it ain't purty, but it works! I'm going to work on some troubleshooting stuff as I go along, but for now, here's my project and the final product.





So, for the cost of 2 dishtowels in the clearance bin at Target, I now have a cute tote bag.

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