Friday, August 28, 2015

August Budget

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I flew to Cleveland after my trip to Poland and have been spending as much time with friends and family as possible before I head back to Berkeley tomorrow. I do have updates and posts to share and they should be up ASAP. 

I've definitely realized blogging is a habit. Once you skip posting for a few days it takes some motivation to get back into the swing of things. 

Well, I am back! And to start off, I'm linking up with Fran over at Franish to share my August budget. I was a lot better at staying on track this month and am really excited about some of my new purchases/gifts. 

Because I spent the majority of the month finishing my job in Europe, I will begin with those items I purchased while abroad.

From Florence:
Sandals: $39.15
(They aren't cognac, but look how similar they are to my favorite pair from Target that I destroyed from all of the walking I put them through!)
Scarf: $5.59
Wine Colored Leather Crossbody Purse: $20.14***
Brown Tote: $24.61***

From Cinque Terre:
Red Beaded Necklace: $5.59
Turquoise Bracelet: $5.59

Orange Stained-Glass Earrings: $9.28

Europe Total: $109.95
 ***BONUS! I mentioned in an earlier post that I post that I had purchased the two bags in Florence keeping in mind that I had bought similar ones (seen in my July Budget) during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. This means I can technically subtract the price of the Nordstrom ones since they will be returned as soon as I get back to California. 

This means my total is: $57.15!!

I am very happy to be so under budget this month seeing as last month was a fiasco. Plus, I also purchased many items as gifts for family and friends while I was abroad. And while those gifts are not documented in my clothing budget, my bank account still felt the cut.

I am super fortunate to have an incredibly generous grandmother who probably loves clothes and shopping more than I do. (Seriously though, the woman has 3 closets filled.) And though she had already given me a birthday gift prior to my Europe trip, once I was home she insisted on going to the Aurora Farms Outlet Mall. These next few items are a result of that trip. She spoils me.

Sleeveless Eyelet Top: Loft Outlet (similar here and here)
Cardigan: Gap Outlet (exact) - so stinkin' soft!

Embroidered Tee: Loft Outlet (similar in darker blue) - sorry for the wrinkles :/

Watch: Michael Kors Outlet (similar here and here)

I can't even say how in love I am with this watch! I've been in the market for a nice one for a while and when we walked into the Michael Kors Outlet and learned there was a 40% off sale on everything including watches and sunglasses (which they never do) I had to look. I tried on a few different styles (I'm pretty particular about watches) and wasn't having much luck. As my sister was checking out, I noticed a few other options by the register and saw this one. I loved it. It was the last one they had in stock so I even got an extra 10% off after the 40%. And thus the stars aligned and I was united with this beauty. I'm obsessed.

All in all, I'm extremely happy with the additions to my wardrobe this month. Beyond the watch, my favorite is probably the cardigan from the Gap Outlet. It's so stinkin' soft and I've worn it just about every day since I got it.

 It almost makes me forgive Ohio for the cooler weather we've had since I arrived. Almost.


Monday, August 17, 2015

A quick sorry

Sooo a thunderstorm knocked out the wifi where I'm staying in Poland and thus I haven't had access to post or read other blogs or articles! It's hard writing posts via my phone and I'm not going to skip exploring to haul up in a cafe during the day to write haha. Thus, you may not hear from me until the end of this week/beginning of next. Just wanted to let you know I'm still around and am sorry for the absence!

Thanks for understanding!


Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Rustic Crochet

I know, I know, it's been ages since I shared an outfit post and you all have been anxiously waiting and chomping at the bit. Right? (Yeah, riiight.) 

I bought this top from Nordstrom Rack last fall (I think...) and have been in love ever since. The rust color is one of my favorites, but I do not have much of it in my closet. I also love the intricate pattern that gives it something extra but doesn't scream "look at me!". 

I paired it with my olive shorts (last seen here) because the only other options were jeans and ended up loving the color combination. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am so happy with the purchase of these shorts. A little step outside of my comfort zone - wearing shorts and olive ones at that - has turned out great!

I bought the beaded bracelet on a trip to Whales while I studied abroad in undergrad. I don't wear it often and honestly don't remember even packing it, but I was definitely glad that I did for this outfit! 

Top: Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Shorts: Old Navy - $10!! (exact)
Sandals: Target - sold out?! :(  (similar)
Purse: Coach, from garage sale. Thanks mom! (similar)
Watch: Boutique in South Korea (similar)
Bangles: Gifted - Thanks T! (another option)
Beaded Bracelet: Boutique in Whales
Earrings: Old (similar, LOVE these)

 Today is my last day watching this little photo-bomber. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready to go home, but I will definitely miss him and his family. They've been incredible.

Also, taking photos with a little one running around is hard. I only managed to snag 10 photos and they were pretty slim pickin's. Shout out to all of you awesome mommy bloggers! You're rockstars!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cinque Terre Part 2: Manarola

More from my trip to Cinque Terre. I really am trying my hardest to catch up on travel posts because 

1) I don't want to put up a post of my summer trip months later 
2) I have friends and family nagging me to share photos (here's lookin' at you mom!) and 
3) I do really love looking at the photos and revisiting my experiences through them. 

Corny, I know, but that's me folks.

The second of the 5 Lands that I visited was Manarola which had, in my opinion, the best view and was most accessible to anyone of any age. 

Often when I travel I have thoughts of "oh, my grandma would really love this" but then have to remind myself that she's not as young and fit as she used to be. Still a little firecracker, but not able to walk many distances or stairs. 

Most of the villages in Cinque Terre were easy to access (minus Corniglia. So. Many. Stairs.) However, their breathtaking views required a little bit of a hike. Not terrible and you don't have to be in the best shape, but I know for people like my grandma, it would be a no-go.

Manarola's train station stops beyond a flat tunnel's walk into the city. You do need to walk up a few (maybe 15) stairs to get to the side of town with the sea, but then there is a ramp to walk down through the narrow, brightly colored road and up to the cliffside. 

(Again, please ignore the sloppiness of my outfit. Apparently the fabric doesn't do well after getting drench from a downpour while in Vernazza. Sloppy or not, I still needed to get a photo in front of this view! - The outfit is cute when it's clean, pressed and dry, I promise...)

To get a view of the town itself, you just follow along a path to your right that winds along a separate mountainside. There is a slight incline, but the path is wide and there are benches along the way, so if you or someone you're with do have difficulties, there are resting points.

Again, this town shouldn't be too difficult for everyone to walk. As for the other villages that aren't as easy or you need to hike around to find a good view (specifically Corniglia and Riomaggiore which I will talk about later) some of the walking can be tough. But do it if you can. It will be worth the sweat. 

For all 5 of the lands, bring water. Spain and Italy have many water fountains in cities and towns where you can fill your bottle. Most are drinkable and in my experience, those that are not have signs indicating so that are easily understood even if you don't speak the language. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Simple Thoughts vol. 4

Sorry for the delay in posting this week's Simple Thoughts. I actually had the draft typed and ready to go early (what what!), but the internet decided not to work after a thunderstorm yesterday and thus I could not post. All is well though, I read a good, old-fashioned book and relaxed rather than let the lack of wifi get me down. Y'all should try it. It was great :)

On another note, this is my 50th post on SimplySarah! Thanks so much for reading. It means a lot to see a steady flow of readers that is continually growing! You are the best!

My host family had a dinner party on Saturday for a group of about 20 people, so instead of going away for the weekend I decided to stay close to Chiavari to help out with the preparations and just do a day trip on Sunday. Lucky for me, Portofino is only 3 train stops (15 min) away! 

Helloooo Sunday. Gotta love living in the Italian Riviera, amiright?

This is officially my last week working as an au pair. I cannot believe it. It honestly feels like I just arrived in Italy and I will be very sad to say goodbye. I do have a little time to myself in Europe before returning home to the States, which is nice. A trip to Poland to visit where my late grandfather’s family was from sounds like a plan to me. Bring on the pierogies.

I’ve been toying with the idea of a capsule wardrobe for about a year or so now but can’t bring myself to take the plunge. (For this you’re all shocked, I know.)  Easing my way into it with a vacation capsule might do the trick. Thanks for sharing Kimi!

Many of my friends know of my love for Mindy Kaling. I obsessively watch The Mindy Project, I’ve read her first book and will definitely be buying the second. Thus, it came as no surprise when a friend shared with me her recent “Guide to KillerConfidence” article (/book excerpt) from Glamour. As expected, it is excellent. If there is only one time you ever follow my advice and read something, this should be it. Trust me.

Um, how delicious does this pizza look?! My obsession with fruit can be paired with my love of pizza outside of the usual Hawaiian style! A big thanks to A Beautiful Mess for this realization!

Speaking of fruit, living in Italy has definitely reminded me of my love for tomatoes. Since moving away from home (aka my grandma's garden), I haven't eaten nearly as many of those red beauties as I used to. Once I'm back in the states that will be changing my friends. And it may have to start with these Pesto-Parmesan Baked Tomatoes from Skinny Taste.

Not a recipe per se, but I've also discovered a love of figs this summer. I've had FigNewtons before and never minded them, but had never eaten an actual fig until recently. So good. So so good.

Loft is having a "Buy One, Get One 50% Off" sale on sweaters and tops. I'm loving this marled high-low sweater (so many colors!) and this striped "coatigan" (yes, the name does make me love it more...) And if the BOGO doesn't tickle your fancy, just take a look at their clearance section in general which is an extra 40% off!! Such great options from this shirtdress to these sandals.

Loving the colors and pattern of this dress. Toss on a cardigan or jean jacket and it can easily transition into fall.

Mary Jane's are my favorite style of shoe. So classic, so classy. These red ones are perfect!

Anthropologie's jewelry section is usually hit or miss with me (often due to the pricing). These earrings are definitely a hit for me!

Happy Tuesday!


Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Countdown vol. 2

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - BLAST OFF!

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Did anyone else dream of being an astronaut as a kid or was I alone?

Anywhoo, here is this week's countdown (technically last week's but I forgot to post it - whoops).

5. Like many of you, I am a huge fan of Kendra Scott's jewelry. I find her pieces very unique and fun and many of them have the ability to transition from flirty to fancy very easily. However, I also find many of the pieces very large and I am personally more drawn to delicate, small jewelry. The "Elisa" necklace is a perfect compromise and it comes in a variety of gorgeous colors!

4. How pretty is this sea-green clutch from Lu Lu's? I love the shape's resemblance to an envelope #snailmailisbestmail. The black version is on sale for $25!

3. You can never go wrong with a pair of chucks. Wear them with the obvious choice of denim, or create a more casual look with your favorite shift dress and spare your feet the pain from heals. (These Lucky Brand flats are also in the $30-40 price range and we all know I love a good cognac.)

2. JCrew never fails to provide shoppers with a great striped top. This one is on sale for just over $22 and comes in 4 different colors (you know, to mix it up from the 5 navy blue and white striped tops you already own #guilty. I'm loving the yellow!)

1. The last item I'm including is this beautiful floral skirt from Romwe. I've never purchased anything from them and am curious about the quality and fit. Anyone have experiences (positive or negative) to share? 


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cinque Terre Part 1: Vernazza

After a great time in Santa Stefano, I was very excited to plan out my next Italian weekend getaway. As I was skimming through Pinterest, I stumbled upon a vacation destination I had marked on my bucket list, Cinque Terre. "Hmmm, I wonder where that is in relation to Chiavari," I thought to myself...

Well friends, Cinque Terre is only a 50 min train ride from Chiavari! I know, I couldn't believe my luck either! Once I realized this, it was set. The next trip would be to the "5 Lands" (what the name translates to in English).

Cinque Terre is a group of five, small fishing villages on the coast the Italian Riviera. The villages are connected via train and hiking trails, but if driving, they would not all be easily accessible.

My first stop was the small town of Vernazza. I was originally going to include all 5 villages in one post, but the amount of photos I took decided otherwise. I just could not get over the beauty of this place!

The colors of the towns are probably most notable. It's stunning. Yes, many photos you see online are enhance the saturation of the color, but the towns really are very vibrant!

The towns are also, pretty small. I bumped into a couple from the states in Vernazza who asked me if I spoke English (I do, obvs) and then asked, "is this it?"

I mean, I guess that was fair. Vernazza only has about 1000 people (I couldn't find which is the smallest of the 5 online, but I think Vernazza could be it) and it was pouring that morning so there wasn't much going on, but I don't think they really gave it a chance.

Soak in the color, the sea, the beauty. Sit down and enjoy a cappuccino. Go for a hike in the mountains and walk to the next village. Eat some pesto man!

(I had every intention of posting about my outfit for the day, but "drenched rat" doesn't translate well into a "fashion" (I use that term very loosely) post.) 

It took a few hours, but the rain did eventually let up and the skies became clear and, while I thought it wasn't possible, Vernazza became even more beautiful. 

My visits to the other 4 villages were clear, sunny and hot. Next on my itinerary was Monarola which was probably my favorite of the 5! Stay tuned!


(PS, sorry for the not so bright, sometimes a little blurry from water spots, photos. I'd say I was angry with the rain, but I have waited all summer for a thunderstorm and even with the sucky timing it was wonderful.)