Monday, September 28, 2015

September Budget

Happy Monday all! Can you believe September is basically over already?! It feels like I blinked and those first four weeks of class just zipped by!

This month's spending was definitely under budget, which is great in my book. Beginning to pay rent and buy school books probably played a part in that, along with having zero free time to even browse some shops. Yay grad school!

First up is this beautiful rose-covered dress that I bought in Ecuador. While we were there, we spent some time with a woman who owns her own clothing store. She graciously spoke with me and my students in the back of her store where she does all of her sewing and designing. I had noticed this beautiful floral fabric while we were chatting, so when she brought a dress to the market made from the fabric I had been admiring, I had to try it on. It fit like a glove! The material is super comfortable and I've already paired it with a navy cardigan to make it seem more "fall appropriate".

I also picked up these beautiful earrings while in Ecuador. I'm a big fan of funky earrings because they are such an easy way to add interest to an outfit and often spark conversation!

Last weekend I finally returned Nordstrom sale pieces and ended up exchanging the Gorjana Necklace for regular gold in replace of the really pink rose gold. Technically not a new purchase, but it is still a new addition to the closet so I thought I would note it here. Though, if we are being critical I was actually given 30 cents back because of a tax difference :P

Dress: $25
Earrings: $4
Gorjana Necklace: $0-Exchanged
Total: $29

All-in-all, not a bad spending month... which gives me permission to start eyeing up some new pieces for fall, right??

Thanks for reading!


** As always, I'm linking up with Fran for this budget series! Be sure to check out her post this month and others who've linked up as well!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

When Fall Still Feels Like Summer...

It's fall, y'all! Crack out the pumpkins, apple cider, and beautiful oranges and reds because the best time of the year is here!

 I would LOVE to be wearing some riding boots, flannel and a scarf, but alas, it's still in the mid to upper 80's where I am in California. Currently it's 88 degrees and feels nothing like a good old Ohio fall.

However, rather than stare longingly at pictures of my ideal autumn weather, I've decided to be thankful for the warmth and sunshine and keep on wearing the sundresses in my closet that I can (sort of) sneak by as not specifically for spring or summer.

Dress: Gap (similar)
Flats: Old from Target (similar)
Necklace: Charming Charlie (exact)
Sunglasses: Target (similar)
Tote: Market in Florence (similar)

Now, to be honest with you, I took these photos while I was in Portofino this summer... but, I wore the same outfit today (with a different pair of flats) and figured it would be silly to take more photos of it. So not only did I save myself time on my way to work this morning, but I also got to reminisce about my time in Italy this summer. Take me back, please!

I picked up this dress from Gap for under $20 this summer. It's a great piece for those days when the weather can't make up it's mind because all you have to do is toss on a nice cardigan (hello mustard!) and you're set. I'm a huge fan of wearing tights with dresses, so I'll definitely continue to wear this dress when the temperatures finally decide to drop out here.

On a random note, I finally had to toss out my teal Target flats :( We reached the point of no return in Italy so they did not come home with me. They will be missed. If anyone knows of a pair of inexpensive teal ballet flats, I am all ears!

Thanks for reading and I hope your fall is off to a beautiful start! If you're in the midwest, hit up an apple orchard for me please!!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Reflections On My Ecuador Trip

Before I begin, I wanted to let you all know that unlike my other travel posts on the blog, this one is going to be only text, so if you usually visit to skim through photos (#guilty), I apologize in advance. 

Last week I had the privilege to spend 10 days accompanying a group of 12 students and another staff member on an immersion trip to Ecuador. You may be wondering, what is an immersion trip? Basically, an immersion trip is an experience in which the participants travel to a location (either domestic or abroad) and immerse themselves in the culture and community they are visiting. A well-done immersion does not intend to simply enter a community to fix a problem, build houses, etc. but rather enters in a community to listen and learn. For my students, these trips are beautiful opportunities to step out of their college bubble and be exposed to realities other than their own. These trips remind them that no matter what career path they choose, they effect the world. 

We all do. 

There's plenty more that I could say and explain, but I'll spare you. (Unless you want to know more, in which case I could passionately go on for a very long time.)

The trip was absolutely incredible! We spent our time living in a beautiful community where we were warmly greeted by everyone we encountered all week. We spent a good portion of the time sitting and listening to the wise stories of our neighbors who graciously answered any and all questions we had about their community and Ecuador as a whole. Their abundance of hospitality, love and generosity in the midst of such deep economic poverty was truly inspirational.

On two mornings, our group visited a foundation that houses and cares for those living with Hansen’s disease (more commonly known as leprosy). The director of the foundation is a wonderful woman whose copious amount of love for everyone is palpable. She and the rest of the foundation strive to ensure that each of the participants (who are often looked upon as outcasts) are treated with the kindness and dignity all people deserve.

While at this organization, I had the privilege to engage in a conversation with a gentleman who lived there and it was one of the biggest highlights of my trip. Since I speak very little Spanish and he doesn’t speak any English, we had quite the language barrier. Yet, even with limited verbal understanding, I had an absolutely incredible exchange of communication with this man who shared so much patience and kindness with me as I fumbled through the few Spanish words and phrases I do know. That conversation and the immersion experience as a whole is something that I know will remain in my heart.

This is just a peak into my brief time in Ecuador. I am purposefully leaving out names of people and places, simply out of respect for them and the community. It is for that same reason that this post lacks any pictures.

The trip, my students, and the wonderful people I encountered were also great reminders of a desire in myself to remain present to those around me. Once again, I find myself caught in the familiar tension of balancing a love of clothing and style while recognizing I own way more than I need and far more than many have access to. 

This is not a new conflict for me. It is one I have wrestled with for many years. What is new, is my blog. As I continue to reflect and think about what having a blog means when juxtaposed with this reality I can't help to acknowledge that something may need to shift. I'm not sure exactly what or how much yet, but you know me, I will keep you posted.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Last Days of Summer

I am loving reading new posts about fall styles and ideas, but I still have a few summer outfits to share with y'all and since it's technically not fall yet, I think I'm in the clear.

(Apparently I had a thing for holding my sunglasses at my face...)

I wore this super simple outfit on my first day in Florence. While a fun breezy dress is my usual go-to in the warm weather, a flowy tank with jeans is just as nice. And while in these photos the blouse is clearly for summer, I plan to add a navy cardigan to make it work and weather appropriate as the new school year kicks off! 

Top: Lilly for Target (another option)
Jeans: Gap Factory (similar)
Watch: South Korean Boutique (similar)
Bracelet: Cinque Terre (another option)
Sandals: Target (similar)
Sunglasses: Charming Charlie (exact)
Purse: Coach, from Garage Sale - thanks mom! (similar)

The last photo is a tad over exposed, but I liked it and so I included it. Gotta love the benefits of writing your own blog, eh? 

Thanks for reading!


Friday, September 4, 2015

Let's Review

I'm about to bring up a sale that most of you have probably forgotten by now: The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. 

I know what you're all thinking: What's she doing? Doesn't she know it's been over for nearly a month? The end of summer clearance sale has already started! And you're right my friends. You are right.

However, if you read my posts about the sale, you may remember that because I was in Italy and my purchases were sent to California, I was not able to try on my haul. Luckily, the NSale featured items that Nordstrom still carries which means if you were interested in anything I'm about to share, it's still up for grabs! (Just not at the sale price.)

First up, the BP Striped High-Low Tee:

 When I placed the order, I had high hopes for this top. I mean, who doesn't love a $12 striped tee that looks like it could be long enough to pair with leggings, amiright? But after reading reviews from those who also bought the top, I had a good feeling the arms would be too tight. And they were. I suppose I could try sizing up to a medium, but I'm really not that in love with it.

Next we have the Treasure & Bond High-Low Popover Top:

 First of all, I don't think I would call this top a "high-low". Secondly, I guess I didn't notice it wasn't a collared top which isn't always an issue, but I really didn't care for the way the top of this shirt looked. Another no... (I'm wearing a medium.)

BP Long Textured Open Cardigan :

This sweater was super comfortable, but it was also very large (I'm in a medium). For those interested, it is actually on sale for a few dollars less than I paid during the sale!

Kendra Scott Arden Station Cuff:

This bracelet was daintier than I expected, which I really liked. Plus, the beautiful amethyst color is unlike any jewelry I currently own. It's a keeper :) 

Gorjana "Taner" Small Bar Pendant Necklace:

I really wanted to love this necklace. I'm a huge fan of Gorjana's jewelry. I love how elegant and simple the pieces are. However the color was much more of a metallic pink then a rose gold and I just don't think I will wear it enough to justify the price. I am considering exchanging it for a plain gold version.

Nordstrom Crisscross Hoop Earrings (sold out - loving these though):

These earrings are probably the only item that I knew instantly I would keep. Their interesting shape combined with the minimalist appearance allows them to be both elegant and edgy. I've worn them just about every day this week.

While I appreciated that the earrings were smaller than I expected (large studs often look awkward on my face...) I didn't love them enough to put them in the "yes" pile. The emerald color is gorgeous though!

Sam Edelman "Alaine" Scalloped Topline Flat:

I was anxious to see if this new pair of turquoise flats would live up to the love I have for my old Target ones. The color was a little more blue than I expected, but I love the scallop detailing of this shoe! I ordered a size 9 and they are just slightly too small so I think I may exchange them for a 9.5. To make things even better, they're on sale again and even cost a little less than before!

Top Left: Street Level Vegan Leather Pocket Tote (sold out)

Top and Bottom Right: the Florence bags

I've already mentioned in a few previous posts that I bought bags in Florence (on right) knowing they would replace the two I purchased from Nordstrom (on left). I am super pleased with my choices and how similar they ended up being.

First of all, I could barely tell the two totes apart! The Street Level Tote is light weight and well made, but unfortunately it's is sold out :( 

But the oxblood crossbody is still available! The purse felt a bit heavy for such a small bag (probably because of the chain strap), but it was a very nice quality bag that could easily hold your phone, some makeup, sunglasses, and have room to spare. 

Well, that's it for the review. Now that I know I'm only keeping 2-3 of the items, I feel a lot better about that little July Budget hiccup! 

Have you made any great purchases lately? Have any recommendations as we transition into the best season of the year?

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Simple Thoughts vol. 5

One of the amazing sunsets over the Golden Gate taken from my apartment balcony.

This weekend I moved back to Berkeley for my final year of graduate studies (and hopefully final year of studies ever). It's a little bit of an adjustment getting used to new housemates and new students around, but I am very much looking forward to starting classes.

Speaking of classes, I will actually be missing my first week of them (we start on the 8th) for a trip to Ecuador with 12 students for work. We'll spend 10 days immersing ourselves in the community and learning from the friends we meet. I have to admit, I'm fighting between feelings of being excited for this opportunity and not so thrilled to be traveling again in such a short period of time. I'm really just ready to be back for school and remain home for more than a week at a time. The trip will be amazing though, I am sure. 

Well, it's September already which means Fran shared her budget link-up for August. I love clicking through the links to see what great finds everyone has. I can't wait to see how Kyle styles that yellow blouse! You can also see my budget here!

Glamour shared a short-but-sweet article explaining why simply saying "I'm fine" when asked how you are can cause do more harm than good.

This "Love Letter to the Inflatable Chair" had me feeling nostalgic about the 90s and missing my butterfly clips.

Beth from Budget Bytes has done it again with this Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pizza. Good golly does it look good!

Cornbread is one of my favorites but I've never tried to make it from scratch. I guess I'll have to change that with Rosevine Cottage Girls' recent recipe.

I rarely eat breakfast, but these 4 Easy Breakfasts look too good to not try out! I mean, ricotta toast with honey and pears?!? I'm drooling.

Anthropologie is offering 30% off of sale items which is a great way to make you feel a little less guilty for splurging on this beautiful dress and these great sandals.

Banana Republic is having a 30% off sale today (Sept. 1). I wasn't sure if I liked the new sleeveless turtleneck trend, but this tunic may have persuaded me.

I'm in the market for a nice big soft white bath robe. Does any one have brand suggestions? The fluffier the better.

In Cinque Terre I had a delicious fresh-squeezed watermelon, lemon, ginger juice. I'd love to be able to recreate it and start making some other tasty juices with my own juicer.

Normally I really don't like animal print, but I've been seeing so many cute ways to upgrade an outfit with a pair of leopard print flats that I'm considering buying a pair for myself. (My little sister will be proud.)

Happy Tuesday!