Thursday, July 30, 2015

July Budget

When I first started following blogs on the regular, I was in search of sites that shared fashionable looks at a budget-friendly prices. Through various web searches, I eventually stumbled upon Franish and her "Monthly Budget Link-Up".

This link-up was one of those threads that I made note of as a “definite” for when I began my own blog. And now, 4 months into blogging, I am finally joining in on the fun.

After thinking long and hard about a reasonable budget and keeping in mind what I typically spend on clothes each month, I have decided to allow myself $100-150 per month on clothing and accessories. 

I fully anticipate that there will be months where extra funds roll over, as well as months where I go over budget (as you will see here in a moment with July…) but hopefully participating in this link-up will help to make me more aware of my purchases and mindful of what I buy.

And so, here is my very first Monthly Budget Link-Up.


I purchased a few new pieces of jewelry to add a little more spice to my wardrobe beyond funky earrings from travels. I’m excited to see them in person and choose my favorite(s).


Oxblood, wine, whatever you want to call it, this red is my favorite fall shade and may even be my favorite color (don't tell orange). Thus, a wine colored purse screamed my name for fall. The vegan leather tote has mixed reviews of an odd smell (fingers crossed nooo), but many notes on how cute it is and how it fits a laptop for school or work. I figured I'd give it a go.


$12 for a striped shirt in a color I don’t often find but love? Sure I’ll try it out. I’m also hoping this plaid shirt in cool tones will be a keeper. We will have to see how it looks layered with the grey cardigan as mine is 8 years old and also falling to bits…


The purchase I am most excited about. My favorite teal flats from Target are literally falling apart so I am hoping these beauties will be able to take their place. Almost $70 for a pair of flats is still steep for my budget, but when you compare them to these, $70 doesn’t seem that bad after all…

Not Pictured:
While in Spain and Italy, I have also purchased an Ignatian Camino T-Shirt (10 euro) and a beach cover-up/skirt (14 euro) which comes to about $26.40 with the conversion rate.

Total: $383.39

Aaaand already I am waaaay over budget. Oy. 

To be fair, July is my birthday month, so I was generously gifted money specifically for shopping from multiple family members.

I blame the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale for this one. Please notice that every item pictured is from the sale...

I have a feeling that at least 3 of the items will be returned once I can actually see them at the end of August. I know for a fact I will not keep everything I bought. If I'm online shopping and there are free returns I often spend more than budgeted just so I can try more on as I would in a store. So, even though my heart races every time I say that total number, I know that it will come down substantially once I'm back in the States and can take a closer look. 

For instance, I purchased multiple pieces of jewelry with the intent of choosing my favorite one or two pieces and returning the others. There's no way I could spend $100 on jewelry at one sale. My wallet would combust.

 And after reading reviews, the striped top is likely to be too tight in the arms which is a no-go for me, but we’ll just have to wait and see… 

What did your shopping basket look like this month? Did you practice more self control at the Anniversary Sale than I did? 


Linking up with Franish.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Weekend in Santo Stefano

Last weekend, my Italian family took me to their flat in Santo Stefano d'Aveto for a weekend getaway. Santo Stefano is about an hour drive from their home and the whole way is through the mountains. It was glorious!

Santo Stefano is an adorable little town of only around 1,200 people. It looks like something straight out of a story book with it's cobblestone roads lined with bakeries and pastry shops.

I tend to prefer visiting smaller towns when I travel because a) I'm an introverted, country kinda gal and b) I find them so much more authentic. I am all for getting out of the tourist traps and diving into the culture of a country! That being said, there is definitely culture and beautiful experiences to have in big cities. I'm just the type of person who needs a break from large crowds after a few days of hustle and bustle.

On Sunday morning, we went hiking to Mt. Penna - only about 45 minutes to the top! The trail was mostly wooded (which was fine by me in this summer heat) and the view from the top was magnificent. My host dad said that you could see all the way to the Mediterranean if it were a clearer day! Still, even with the clouds, the view made all the sweat and soreness worth it!

I'm always fascinated when I see statues, chapels, etc. on the top of mountains. Kudos to whoever had the patience and strength to get them their. I definitely couldn't do it!

 My family for the summer :)

After the hike, we headed to meet all of the grandparents for lunch in a cute little restaurant in the mountains where I tried my first polenta with mushrooms - delicious.

Our next stop was the local water mill for some fresh made flour. The mill had a "lab" going for children to see how flour is made, so I was fortunate enough to catch a sneak peak as well (which is great if you're a nerd like me who loves to learn how things work and are made).

All in all, it was an incredibly beautiful weekend in the mountains with my family for the summer. Santo Stefano might not be your typical travel destination, but if you ever get the chance and are a fan of adorable little towns and great hiking (or skiing in the winter), I highly recommend it!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Simple Thoughts vol. 2

Another summer week come and gone... can you believe it?! I know they say time flies when you're having fun, but this is ridiculous.

Cheers to a fresh week - because someone needs to be an optimist :)

As you may have seen on my Instagram, I spent this past weekend wandering around Cinque Terre and oh boy was it beautiful! I will definitely be posting soon about the "5 Lands", so keep a look out!

--On a side note: I'm not entirely sure where in Italy I plan to visit this coming weekend, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

This week my host mom taught me how to make pesto! I took took some notes and snapped some photos (shocking, I know), so there will be an Italian version of "From That to This" making its way to the blog soon!

I'm officially half way done with my stint as an au pair! Man does time fly! While I will hate to leave Italy and Europe, I have to admit that after over a month abroad so far, I am starting to feel ready to be home. But rather than dwell on what is to come, I definitely plan to make the most of the time left until August 27th.

Oh, and don't forget to enter the PayPal Cash Giveaway!

Have y'all heard that they found a new Dr. Seuss book?! I am a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. I loved his books as a child and love reading them to the kids I babysit for. The books have a beautifully simple way of educating children on important issues like caring for the environment (The Lorax), focusing on more than the material (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) and so much more! What an unexpected treasure!

Jenna (from Jenna Rose Colored Glasses) recently shared a great lesson of the value of taking time away from your cell phone. Her ability to find the good in a bad situation is definitely admirable.

Loving the new Dubai inspired Mystic Bazaar Kendra Scott collection. Thanks for the introduction, Jessica (Here&Now)!

Kale, Sweet Potato and Bean Soup?! Sign me up please! Not only does Sheryl (Fab Food for Life) provide readers with this awesome recipe, but she also discusses the benefits of the vegetables in the soup!

Over on Delicious Meets Healthy, Neli offers a healthier way to enjoy a breakfast fave - Pass the Paleo Pancakes, please!

I've been considering getting a spiralizer for about a year now (#indecisive) and Julia (from Oh My Veggies) may have just pushed me over to the "yes" side of the fence with her Lemon Garlic Zucchini Noodle recipe. It looks SO good.

The Gap is having a 40% off sale online and I am loving this striped peplum top and a dress version of my cut-out skirt (last seen here)!

The Nordstrom Anniversary sale will end this weekend, so be sure to return to your online shopping carts before the prices go up!

If you've read my first Countdown, you may remember that my beloved cognac sandals are falling to bits...which gives me permission to frequently stalk this pair of Steve Madden sandals, right?

I have a slight obsession with Anthropologie and their dresses. Currently pining over this floral beauty...

Lastly, a fun flamingo pool float. Just because they look so darn fun! I'd be willing to settle for the swan. Or donut ;)

Happy Monday!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Countdown vol. 1

Combining a love for fashion with a grad student budget is no bueno. But if there is something I have learned from a lot of the blogs that I follow (and from my mother's bargain-finding-shopping-super-powers), it is that you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to be fashionable.

Are there some staple pieces you should consider investing in? Certainly. But you don't have to shell out mountains of cash on everything you wear. 

In addition to my usual "Save or Splurge" fashion posts I am beginning a new thread of pages sharing a series of five items with prices in the 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s and 10s - hence titling it "The Countdown". I will definitely continue on with "Save or Splurge" if I'm loving something that is trending, but this way I am can share what clothes I'm loving without having to seek out a particular fad.

And so, without further ado: 

5. As you may have noticed from many of my photos, I wear my cognac sandals from Target all the time (exhibits a and b). I only bought them this spring and they're already falling to pieces so I am in the market for a new, perhaps slightly higher quality, pair of sandals. These lovelies may just do the trick...

4. Now that I'm a grown-up (ha) balancing work and grad school, I am always on the look out for a versatile bag that will work as a backpack, briefcase, and purse. I have been using a large brown and pink reversible tote from Old Navy which is quite similar to this tote from Nordstrom. It looks to be a good size to fit all of the work and school necessities.

3. I received this Gorjana bracelet in a RocksBox in April and instantly fell in love with the brand. Their pieces are very simple and delicate which is the type of jewelry I've found myself most drawn to lately. This necklace would add a soft touch of glam to outfits for any occasion. (Plus it comes in 3 colors!)

2. Why not try swapping out your everyday diamond studs for a unique pair of rockin' earrings?

1. Probably my favorite item of this countdown is the blue dress from H&M. I mean, who can beat a versatile dress for only $10?! It also comes in olive green! My only question would be how long it is as H&M doesn't always work with my height (5' 8"). I might just have to test it out and see...

I hope you enjoyed the very first countdown. Any thoughts or suggestions? As always, feel free to comment!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Maxin' and Relaxin' All Cool

I've had this outfit post sitting in my drafts for some time now. I wore the outfit and my roommate took the photos at the very end of May, but between packing for Europe, going home to Ohio for a week, working like crazy to save up for Europe, etc... time slipped away and thus this guy waited in the queue.

You may recognize the clothes from my guest post on Roxi's blog. I referenced it as an outfit I would wear to go grocery shopping and if I recall correctly, that is exactly what I did on the day these photos were taken. (I had also gone to Bay Street for some clothes shopping, but shhh, don't tell.)

I picked up this sweater at the Banana Republic Outlet this fall for $7 (!!) and wear it constantly. It was the only one left on the rack and is definitely too large, but the comfort level outweighed the miss-sizing for me. Plus, it's great to have a big, baggy sweater for those days when you just want to feel comfortable and relax.

I paired the sweater with classic jean shorts (last seen here), a thrifted purse, and my favorite polkadot flats for a dash of pattern and a touch of color. Topped off with a messy bun, sunglasses and a great lip color, I was good to go.

Sweater: Banana Republic Outlet (similar)
Shorts: Gap Outlet (similar)
Purse: Thrifted (another option)
Shoes: Old Navy (similar)
Midi Rings: Old Navy (similar)
Sunglasses: Charming Charlie (exact)
Lip Stain: Sephora - Peony (exact)

Aaaand a blooper, because who likes being serious all of the time?


linking up with SincerelyJennaMarie and Mix&MatchFashion

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Simple Thoughts vol. 1

Happy Tuesday everyone! We’re nearly through the hardest day of the week and can keep pushing on until it’s the weekend again – one day at a time…

I’ve been brainstorming some blogging ideas while the little one naps in the afternoon and have decided to begin a sort of weekly round-up of thoughts and interests that accumulate throughout the week and weekend. (Normally I plan to post these on Monday, but Ema did not want to sleep yesterday. What can you do?)
As many of you know, I am spending the summer as an au pair for a family in Italy (near Genoa). I’m entering into my second week of the job and wanted to share a few random facts I’ve gathered along the way:
1)  On Friday, my host mom was showing the babe a few YouTube videos of Italian children songs. As one began, she said, “this one is from when I was young”. The music sounded familiar and then it hit me! It was the chicken dance! I immediately started doing the dance (which I don’t think is Italian…) and explaining that it was a song we dance to at parties and weddings without lyrics. And so, the chicken dance is Italian! Maybe I am the only person who didn’t know this, but I am still so amused. (Here's the video they showed me.)
2)    You know that delicious Italian appetizer of bread and tomatoes "bruschetta" that we pronounce with a "sh" sound? Well guys, in typical American fashion, we are saying it wrong… The “ch” in Italian makes a hard "k" sound meaning it should sound sort of like "brusketta". My hosts have been teasing me about that one… Thanks, English.
3)    Italians (and Spaniards) don’t really use air conditioning. Ever. It’s definitely a rough transition, especially in 32 degree celsius/ 90 degree fahrenheit weather #sweatygirlprobs

In other news, in order to avoid gaining 500 pounds from all of the pizza, pasta and gelato, I am resorting to the 30 Day Shred. I’m on day 5, I’ll let you know how that goes. (Hey, it was either start working out regularly or stop eating the pasta. What would you do?)

We spent this past weekend hiking around Santo Stefano d’Aveto, which was an adorable little town about an hour into the mountains from where I’m staying. The weather was gorgeous and the views were breathtaking. I’ll be sharing a full post about it fairly soon, so keep a look out!

This coming weekend I’m going to take the train to Cinque Terre (less than an hour away, what?!) which has been on my travel bucket list for ages. I’m still gathering ideas of what to do while I’m there, so if you’ve been I would love any advice you have to share!
If you don't read Jessica's "Weekend Guide" over on Bedknobs and Baubles, you're surely missing out. This week's included an article about why we still love Gilmore Girls which definitely hit home!

Roxi from Golden Polkadots just shared the third part of her "Meet Another Blogger" series! I am still so honored to have been asked to participate (you can read her interview with me here) and am loving getting to know other bloggers I had not yet stumbled upon!

You are what you Tweet... "What My Landlord Leaned About Me From Twitter". A reminder that social media can impact your daily interactions whether you like it or not.
Apparently I have a sweet tooth this week because the recipes I have gathered are all desserts… Sorry I’m not sorry?

How delicious do these Vegan Chocolate Turtles look?! Fork-and-Beans is one of my absolute favorite food blogs. Cara shares so many delicious allergen friendly foods and I always love trying them out!

I literally cannot read Strum-Simmer-Sip’s “Food LinkFriday” without book-marking recipes to try. Last week Lisa shared these S’mores Cookies from The Kittchen which look to be a delicious take on the summer bonfire classic.

And last, but certainly not least, a recipe for the Girl Scout classic: Samoas Cookies (you know, for when you finish your last box and have to wait for the sales to begin again…)
Let’s start with the obvious: Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale, which is open to the public until Aug 2nd. Many items are already sold out, so act fast if something catches your eye. Nordstrom has speedy shipping and free returns, so if it doesn’t end up suiting you, you’re not stuck! I ended up using some birthday money to splurge and purchase these turquoise flats and I can’t wait to see them! 

Loft is having a 70% off of sale items today until 3am EST with the code: hotstuff ! I'm loving the color of this dress and the pattern of this top!
Even with the great sale, some of the Nordstrom goodies are WAY beyond my price range. However if I had a million dollars (cue music), I would definitely purchase:
1) The perfect pair of fall boots
2) Some beautiful and unique gold stack rings.
3) This classic dress with an interesting and unique print. It's anything but square! (See what I did there?) I'm loving the green color! Gorgeous!

Here’s to winning the lottery someday…

Thanks for reading!