Monday, January 31, 2011

I went shopping...

...and it didn't cost me a penny!

How? Wellllll, I'm really bad about taking my dry cleaning to the dry cleaners, and as I was preparing for the 30 for 30, I decided it was important that I have all of my clothes out to choose from. Part of that included going through the dry cleaning basket. I realized it's probably been 6 or more months since I've looked in that basket. What I found was super exciting. Some of my favorite pieces were in there that I had forgotten about. I even included quite a few in this challenge. Don't worry, I'll take them to the cleaners tomorrow so that they're fresh and crisp to wear!

Thus, without further ado, here are my 30 wardrobe choices that will take me through the next 30 days as I follow Kendi's 30 for 30!
SHIRTS
1. LOFT 3/4 brown top
2. J.Crew sleeveless purple top
3. J.Crew long sleeve white blouse
4. LOFT salmon tank top


5. F21 Plaid 3/4 top
6. LOFT sleeveless black top
7. J. Crew striped 3/4 top
8. LOFT long sleeve light blue blouse
Cardigans
9. J.Crew grey Shimmer Cardigan
10. J.Crew 3/4 black Cardigan
11. LOFT long sleeve red striped cardigan

Sweater Shirts
12. Victoria's Secret Cowl Neck Ruched Sweater
13. J.Crew V-Neck Sweater
14. ModCloth dip Sweater
PANTS
15. Ann Taylor Skinny Black Pants
16. LOFT Jeggings
17. LOFT Suit Pants
18. J.Crew Cafe Capri
SKIRTS
19. LOFT cargo skirt
20. J.Crew Suit Pencil Skirt

DRESSES
21. Ann Taylor Brown 3/4 Dress
22. J.Crew Sleeveless Ruffled Neck Dress
23. LOFT Cowl Neck Grey Sweater Dress
These are the ones I'm hesitant about and the reason they're so far down...
24. Black short sleeve silk lace shirt
25. Anthropologie sleeveless shirt
26. J.Crew Shimmer Ballet Flats
27. Steve Madden Boots
28. Seychelles Wedges
29. Tory Burch Snake Skin Ballet Flats
30. Seychelles Wedge Sandals

I'm so excited to participate in this challenge with everyone else playing along, but I'm also nervous! I've planned everything out, but there are a few pieces that I've never worn before and am not sure how they're going to mix in with everything else. The ones that I'm the most hesitant about are the last two shirts. I'm trying to see how they'll mix with the other items, but I'm going to keep them in the mix so that I learn how to wear them. Any suggestions on ways to wear them? I would love your suggestions on ways to piece together outfits.

Two points of interest. I live in Florida, and that's why I have the picks that I do. Also, I will iron, wash, or launder all of the above items that very clearly need it.

I'm planning on taking pictures every day and posting my outfits, but I'm trying to decide whether I should do a weekly recap here and keep the daily outfits on my recipe and wardrobe blog, Sequins and Salsa. Would you get sick of it if I did it all here among my regular posts?

Can't wait to get started! See you tomorrow with outfit #1! Enter my CSN stores giveaway that closes at 8 PM Tuesday!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

why buy another cookbook?

Aside from the fact that I shared with you yesterday that I have no money to spend at the moment, I've also made a grand realization! It's sad that it took me this long to make it, being that I am on my computer all the time and live in a technology-centered world.

That realization, my dear friends, is why in the world do I keep buying cookbooks?!

My two most recent purchases have been
and
They're great, but the past two times I've looked to see if a recipe in the book was available online to link to in one of my posts, they both were! That means, if Amazon will let me just see the table of contents, I can just find those recipes online. So, I'm going to have to start doing that!

Additionally, there are some AMAZING food blogs out there that I've only recently discovered. I want to share them with you in case you don't know about them and love cooking as much as me. You can click on the picture and it will take you to the websites.
Gina's Skinny Recipes is my favorite so far, but it's also the one that I've spent the most time on and have made the most recipes from. She has everything categorized, you can search by ingredient, and it tells the nutrition facts and WW PointsPlus right under the recipe. Plus, the photos are gorgeous, which only helps!
Joy is hilarious! Her posts have wonderful recipes, colorful and well-done photos, and a dry sense of humor that I can really appreciate. I haven't made a recipe from her yet, as I only just found her, but with the recipe index that she provides, I am sure that will change quickly.

I have no doubt I'm the last on the bandwagon (pun intended) in learning about The Pioneer Woman, but her most recent post with offerings for greasy gooey foods to take to a Super Bowl party made me a lover of her options. I, again, haven't made any of her recipes yet, and I know many of you have, but I look forward to trying one for next Sunday! I'll let you know which one I choose.
 Big Girls, Small Kitchen is a guide to quarter-life cooking, and they cook in small kitchens in NYC. They also tell you what occasion they made something for and how many people ate it. They're also giving away a Le Creuset heart-shaped pot right now as part of their blog re-launch (I didn't get an extra entry by blogging...I just wanted to share the love). I've made a couple of their dishes and also love them immensely.

I hope you get to try some of these recipes. And I hope you'll share with me when you do. 

What food sites am I missing? Please send me more! Clearly I spend too much time eating and looking at food (I also watch food network 70-80% of the time).

Don't forget to enter my giveaway. You could get kitchen tools to make some of these amazing recipes!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Holy January!

I'm enjoying a lazy Saturday and getting a few necessary things done. I sat down a little while ago to look at my bank accounts and credit cards, and I was shocked and appalled at how much money I've spent this month. The reason I was so shocked is because I have no idea how it happened or what I really spent it on. I won't break it down into painful details, but two specific numbers that were ridiculous was eating out and spending $285.80 and groceries at almost $400 (and I split the groceries with my boyfriend)!! 

And if you read this post, you know I don't even like the grocery store that much. 
You have seen a few of my recipes posted here, and there are some others over at my other blog, and if you've ever clicked on them, you may realize I don't necessarily look for recipes that have short ingredients list. I'm realizing this may be one of the things that I need to be better at.

So, for February, I have a few goals on ways to make sure my spending is literally less than 50% of my January spending:
1. Start clipping coupons and possibly matching up with what is on sale on Publix BEFORE making my weekly menu.
2. Look for recipes that don't have a full page of ingredients.
3. Create a menu that calls for similar ingredients between recipes, so the unused spinach from Monday can be used on Tuesday.
4. Don't go get my nails done every two weeks. I own so many nail polishes, I can totally do my own at home.
4. I bought enough Stella & Dot this month. NOTHING MORE!
5. No shopping in February--for anything. No Gilt Group purchases, no "but it's on sale" buys.

Are any of your coupon clippers? There were a few weeks last summer I tried to read all those coupon blogs and match up sales and coupons, and it ended up taking so much time and I ended up buying so much stuff I didn't need to "save" or "make" money.

What are your tips for managing coupons and sales without spending hours? Or, how do you save money at the grocery store?
Also, how do you plan a menu that overlaps ingredients? I will take any and all tips! I need help!

images {via}

Friday, January 28, 2011

gambler's daughter

I got excited about writing this post, and I was going to say "I'm not a big gambler," but that would be a flat out lie. I love to gamble (every once in a while). I know it's so not lady-like to say that, but I can't help it.

I don't gamble frequently, but when I have a reason or a chance, hand me the dice, cards, ticket deal me in! I love Las Vegas. I've been several times as a 21+. I've never won any serious money, but I'm also good about setting a limit and stopping. My favorite story was when I went to Vegas with one of my best friends from college, Kim. Our flight didn't leave until 5 PM Sunday night (please take my advice and NEVER go to Vegas for more than 3 days. You might not make it out alive), so we decided to check out and sit at the $5 Blackjack tables at the MGM Grand. It wasn't our my first time sitting at those tables for more than an hour. The two reasons I know and realize the MGM Grand did too?

1. One older dealer man waved goodbye to me when we were rolling our luggage out. I had been at his blackjack tables a lot. But at that moment, he was dealing Pai Gao--I'd never been there.

2. The pit boss gave me and Kim comped buffet tickets (and you know how much buffets cost in Vegas...), even though we weren't part of the players club. He just remembered that I'd been there that much...
Me and Kim at the Bellagio, 2007

Anywho, that was an aside that I didn't mean to get into.

What I meant to write about is how excited I am to be included in my office's Super Bowl squares pool (I was going to say school's instead of office, but we aren't letting the kids play this year). Have you ever done one? It looks like this:
 
You pick a few squares to write your name in, and then the person in charge writes random numbers in a random order down the side (not 0-9 as shown above). Then, whatever the last number of each score is at the end of each quarter, you find them on the grid and the person who wrote their name in the overlapping square wins money! I bought four squares for $2.50 each. Keep your fingers crossed for me! 

I also love scratch off lottery tickets, horse races, and the phrase "you wanna bet?". 

I blame it all on my dad. In a good way. Growing up, our family would always go to horse races. Dad invests small shares in thoroughbreds, and we got to go to Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Saratoga, Belmont, and Santa Anita for some pretty awesome races. He would also give us a small amount of money per race to bet. And he taught me how to read the Daily Racing Form. I know jockeys, workouts, Beyer speed figures, trainers, and stables. I can bet trifectas and superfecta boxes with the best of them. My best racing pick also helped someone big time at the Preakness. I had just graduated from high school, and he was headed to the betting window. I explained why he needed to remove one horse and replace with another in his trifecta box (picking the top three horses, in any order). He hit it big time, and he bought me and my dad mimosas for the rest of the day! Anywho, thanks dad for the skill of betting horse races and helping me learn to love betting and mom for the scratch offs in the stockings. (Oh, and for everything else you've both done for me in my life...I couldn't begin to name them all here...). 

So, do you gamble? Bet? Buy lottery tickets? Are you doing any office pools for the Super Bowl (if not, you should suggest the squares thing)? Could you tell I was in the mood to tell a story or two?

five {q} friday

I'm linking up with another new link up today! I've seen a lot of girls from blogs I follow playing Five Question Friday, so I decided to join today.



1. If you had $1,000 to donate to a charity, which would you choose?This is a tough question. There are so many unbelievably supportive and deserving charities out there; it's hard to pick one. I think I would donate $500 to the Humane Society, because it brings me to tears thinking about puppies and other animals that don't have their basic needs. Then, I think I would donate $500 to St. Jude Research Hospitals. I know someone who used to do medical research there, and she has only amazing things to say about it. If I had more money I would also donate to UNICEF and World Vision, as I am hoping that the UN Millennium Development goals will someday be reached. 
 
 2. Snow days: Do you welcome them happily or are they a pain in your butt?
I live in Tampa. I would welcome a snow day like I would welcome the heavens opening up and angels singing to me. Not having a snow day as a teacher while most of the east coast has had a second winter break has been rough. I didn't wear a coat yesterday. 
 
Here's the weather for today (don't be jealous. It's me jealous of you with your snow days!):
 3. What talent did you wish you had and why?
Are these real talents or magical powers? If they're real talents, I wish I could sing really well. I'm always singing, and I would like to be better so that people actually enjoyed it.
 
If magical powers, I would want to fly. I could avoid traffic, which causes me major stress, and I could always be on time. I could get places very cheaply.

4. Are you a news, politics or celebrity gossip junkie?
I would say I'm between news and celebrity gossip. I check CNN.com daily, but I also love reading blogs and learning about who's pregnant, who everyone likes/dislikes on the Bachelor, and what Kim Kardashian is doing now. I would say it's an equal balance between the two. I'm not politically opinionated.
She's my pick for him. (And can you say Van Cleef?)
5. What is your favorite "cocktail"? (Are you a beer person, a kiddie cocktail junkie, or perhaps your more the "Cosmo" kind?! Anything flies...doesn't hafta be alcoholic!)
I love most kinds of beers; my favorites are IPAs, Kirin Light, and Stella. It's what I crave when I want to drink. I also love cider (like Woodchuck Granny Smith). Those two would be my favorites. They relax me whereas liquor winds me up. 
 
~~~ 

Thank you for stopping by my blog! Say hello below and let me know you did; I love finding new blogs from link ups! 
 
Learn a little more about me here, here, or here. Enter my first giveaway here!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

reading...books.

So, I don't read a lot, besides blogs. I blame it on the world we live in and the ability to be stimulated from the television, computer, and iPhone all at once. With a book, you really have to focus on that alone. While I don't do as much reading as I would sometimes like, when I do read, I read books FAST, and I usually have trouble putting them down.

I have a kindle {seen here with a dead battery...make sense?}. I currently have Room by Emma Donoghue on it; the next page button hasn't been turned in quite some time. Don't take it as a judge of the book. I only got about half a chapter into it when I bought it.

The reason I'm writing about books, though, is because I've been thinking about picking one up again soon. It also got me thinking about my favorite books, and it made me want to share. The book that has made me think of reading again is Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It's a Young Adult book, but it has been making its way quite rapidly around the blogger world. I talked with my best friend at work about it (who teaches middle school English), and she about fell in the floor about how good it is. She also brought it to me, and my school is doing a reading contest on it next month (they let teachers participate in the reading contests so that kids see that we read too). I'm thinking I'll start (and probably finish) this weekend. I'll let you know what I think.


My favorite book of all time is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. Excuse me while I take a sip of tea with my pinky in the air.
 But really, from someone who doesn't read much, and who doesn't read classics ever, you have to read this book. It is without any doubt absolutely and insanely amazing. The movie is terrible. The book is beautiful. I read it a long time ago, and I literally would stay up so late and read so much that my eyes hurt and I would have to close them and take a break after each page. I read it in four days. Do you understand that the print is about a size 7 font? It didn't stop me. The story line twists and turns and revenge is gotten and in the end every intricate detail is resolved. 

Worst book review ever. I don't remember all the details, but I promise it's worth your time. Have you read it? Have you read other classics that you would sing about? I might actually sing about this one. I want others so that my song isn't always the same. 

A few other recent loves:

You've probably heard people tell you to read this book if you haven't. Add me to that list.

Makes you think about what is important in life and what isn't.
I mean...cooking and blogging. Need I say more? The movie was meh. I read this before the movie came out, which was a while ago, but I really loved it.
One book that I was recommended recently that I read and wasn't that fond of:
It was unsettling. It made me uncomfortable and in the end didn't teach me a life-long lesson. Have you read it? What did you think? Did I miss a deeper meaning?

I would love book recommendations if you're a reader. I would love to hear what you love or where you get your ideas for your next to read book. 

Also, enter my giveaway! There's a bunch of ways to win, and the gettin's good!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WILW

I'm excited for my first What I'm Loving Wednesday!
I'm loving so much today! I'm loving...

...that I heard several students today in earshot, while they didn't know I could hear them, say that history was their favorite academic class. Let me promise you this doesn't happen often.

...the free nail polish that was a surprise in the mail today from the Zoya giveaway a few weeks ago.
...the new Spring Line from Stella & Dot.


 ...my new camera and the fun pictures I've been taking!
...that I'm having BBQ chicken pizza for dinner because I ate so little today.

...all of the amazing blogs that I am so much enjoying reading on a daily basis (and the sweet comments that I get in return).

...the fact that I just signed up for a Valentine's Day swap!!

Chaos Theory


...the fact that I got asked to do a giveaway from CSN stores (who I didn't know carried Le Creuset...my dream kitchen ware)! I'm so excited for my first giveaway!

...my wonderful boyfriend!

What are you loving?

giveaway {of my own}!

I'm excited to host my very first giveaway on my own blog! I am planning on giving away Stella & Dot jewelry when I hit 100 followers, but this opportunity came up and I couldn't resist. Someone from CSN Stores contacted me a few days ago about doing a giveaway to their stores on my blog; I was thrilled. 

I had seen a few bloggers posting about these stores and had clicked around a few times, but this gave me a chance to really explore. They have so much stuff at so many of their stores! I can't wait to buy something from them!

I am giving away a $25 gift card to spend at any of their stores! And the best part is that so much of their stuff ships free, so you don't have to spend on shipping!

They have luggage stores, cookware stores, stuff for kids, pets, and the home! I was amazed. Look at some of the fun stuff that I found!
A Le Creuset Braiser at an amazing price!
 My next dream purchase...a Kitchen Aid stand mixer
 This is such a fun mirror. It definitely has a look to it.
 Northface gear.
Workout accessories, like a stability ball.

So, here are the details they asked me to share with you: 
CSN only ships to the US and Canada, so you'll need an address here. Also, there may be international shipping taxes to Canada that the gift code cannot cover.

Now, here are the ways to enter {please leave each one in a separate comment}:
Mandatory:
1. You must be a follower of mine in Google Friend Connect. Leave a comment to let me know (1 entry).
Additional entries:
2. Tell me what you might pick from CSN stores if you win (1 entry).
3.  Blog about my giveaway and leave a link to the post in your comment (5 entries).
4. Like my Stella & Dot facebook fan page and tell me you did (2 entries).
5. Tweet about the giveaway and include this link: http://tinyurl.com/6y9cd52 (3 entries).
6. Go to another of my posts and leave a comment. Tell me you did and leave a link to that post (2 entries).

That's a bunch of chances to win! I'll pick a winner February 1st at 8:00 PM EST when I post my first 30 for 30 outfit! Can't wait to see what you pick!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I wanted to let you know I'm not getting anything from the company for hosting this giveaway.