Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February Clothing Budget

Here we are almost at the end of February! It's time for my monthly clothing budget post. I have to say, I think February had better deals than January. I purchased quite a few pieces, but I also checked off several items from my wishlist and replaced a couple of Christmas returns as well.

February Clothing Budget

Here's the roundup!

This month, my items fell into three categories: regular purchases, Christmas replacements and gift card purchases, and workout clothes.

Regular purchases:
Purple Print Liz Claiborne Blouse from Penney's: $3.19
Black Merona Blazer: $11.26
Black and White Print Avon Scarf: $8.00
Black and Gold Avon Earrings: $2.28
Apt. 9 Distressed Boyfriend Jeans (Goodwill): $2.84
Lilac Liz Claiborne Button Down Blouse from Penney's: $3.19
Tan Merona Doubleweave Skirt: $7.38

Total: $38.14

Christmas replacements and gift card purchases:
Gray Liz Claiborne Cardigan from Penney's (Christmas replacement)
Denim Jacket from Macy's (Gift card won via the Go Chic or Go Home Facebook page)

Workout Clothes:
Running Leggings, Running Capris, 1/2 Zip Pullover, Long Sleeve Tunic: $12.74 for all four pieces

Obviously, I bought quite a few things, but I really like what I got and the deals were pretty awesome. I haven't bought from Penney's in a long time and stumbled upon a great $2.97 clearance sale. I was in need of running clothes, so picked up all four pieces from Penney's, plus got a couple of blouses and a gray cardigan at the same price point. All of these were on my wishlist. I also got a tan skirt, black blazer, and denim jacket, which will be great staple pieces, too.

I'm linking up to Budgeting Bloggers at Franish.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: Where Courage Calls

I have fond memories of reading many different Janette Oke books over the years, so I was excited when I got an opportunity to read Where Courage Calls by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. This book is a companion to the When Calls the Heart book series and the inspiration for the Hallmark movie. It's been years since I've read the original books and have never seen the movie, so I don't remember a lot of the original details. That being said, I think Where Courage Calls can easily be read as a standalone novel.

Beth Thatcher comes from a privileged background and a wealthy family. In spite of this, she responds to the call to teach in a coal mining town in western Canada. Her commitment is for one year, but when she sees how rural the community actually is, she questions her ability to complete her year. Beth quickly falls in love with the town and the people and resolves to do everything she can to make a difference in this small town and its children.

The characters in this book were wonderful. Beth, the main character, goes through such growth and transformation throughout the novel. She starts out so unsure of herself but as she meets and works with the people in the town, she begins to realize how wonderful they are. Beth had so many great ideas that she was able to execute and she reminded me a lot of teachers that I know that are so dedicated to their students and willing to give so much of themselves to help. The reader also sees Beth rely more and more on God instead of herself. I felt this was a great lesson that I could learn from the book. Romance was definitely a part of the book, but I didn't feel like it was the focus of the storyline. The ending leaves the reader wondering and hoping if there will be another book in the future. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian historical fiction. I am also looking forward to rereading some other Janette Oke books.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Review: The Dancing Master

I have a few books to review in the next couple of weeks, and first up is The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen. I was excited to read another of Julie Klassen's books. I read The Tutor's Daughter and The Girl in the Gatehouse by this author previously, and really enjoyed them.

In The Dancing Master, Alec Valcourt is a fencing and dancing master. He and his family are forced to relocate to a new town where they move in with family and are hoping to start over again. He is unaware that dancing is not allowed in their new town, outlawed by Lady Amelia Midwinter, but still tries to begin to get students in the hope of being able to support his family. Alec starts an unlikely friendship with Lady Amelia's daughter, Julia, who actually wants to learn to dance! The pair must navigate situations filled with mystery, intrigue, danger, and suspense, as they work to become the people they are meant to be.

I really enjoyed this book. This style of historical fiction set in England is particularly enjoyable to me. I love being able to read about a different time period and getting a glimpse into how things were in the past. From the language to the traditions to the fashion of the time, it is fascinating to me to be transported in this way. I feel that Julie Klassen's books and her writing style are very unique to the Christian market and I find her books refreshing and relaxing to read.

I started out not necessarily liking Julia and Amelia's characters, but throughout the course of the novel, the reader learns so much about both of them that explains why they make the choices they do. Both characters experience a great deal of personal growth throughout the story and end up being quite likable and in Lady Amelia's case, even noble. Alec also grows as a person and there is resolution for his family and their situation.

I would definitely recommend this book and Julie Klassen's books to anyone else that enjoys this style of historical fiction.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Have any of you read any of Julie Klassen's books? Any other recommendations for Christian historical fiction authors?

What I Wore: Favorite Staples

Jeans: Apt. 9 (Goodwill), Shirt: Merona, Scarf: JCPenney, Cardigan: Sonoma, Boots: KMart

Caitlin at Greater Than Rubies is hosting a Remix Rewear Restyle this week focusing on favorite staples - pieces that have stood the test of time and are still things I reach for to wear often. At first I was upset because I can only think of a few things in my closet that are at least 5 years old and still being worn. Then I remembered that my daughter is 6 and I've only been the size I am right now for around 3 years. :)

I do have a couple of pieces that are around 5 years old that have held up and that I still like wearing. I also have pieces that I've had to replace due to wear or size changes, but that I still would say are favorites of mine. I agree with Caitlin's assessment, too, and I hope that if I were to do this again in a few years, I would have more favorites still around. So here we go!

1. Light blue striped oxford - This is from Penney's, and I have had it for a long time. It is similar to a chambray shirt (which I also have) but a little dressier.

2. Black and tan short sleeve shell - I bought this Mossimo top from Target several years ago. The fabric is great because it doesn't wrinkle and require ironing and can be layered and mixed and matched easily. It also helped me to identify that I am really comfortable in this higher necked style of blouse, so I've picked up a few others to incorporate into my wardrobe as well.

3. Jade green puffy vest - This is from WalMart and I don't shop there anymore, but it has held up so well. It's gotten even more wear over the last few fall/winter seasons because it layers so well.

4. Black dress pants - I still prefer dressier pants for work. My black pair are Dockers from Kohl's.

5. Khakis - My khakis are from Lands' End and I still love them. Not sure if they are still in style, but I like wearing them, especially spring-fall.

6. Black dress - I always have at least one black dress in my wardrobe. My current one is a short-sleeve jersey version from Target.

7. Gold hoop earrings - I had a nice pair of 1" hoops that I wore for years. They were a gift from my grandmother. Unfortunately, I lost one, so I currently have a costume pair from Avon I am wearing. I want to save up for another gold pair.

Newer favorites:

8. Dark blue pencil skirt - I got this Merona skirt from Goodwill and it is so comfortable. Easy care fabric, 4-season, matches everything.

9. Skinny jeans - Both my blue, black, and green skinnies have been in heavy rotation this winter. I never thought I could wear this style, but they are surprisingly versatile.

10. Black and white striped top - I have had this top for around a year and half and it gets a lot of wear. It's held up well, so for $12.99, it was a good investment per wear.

11. Brown riding boots - In the 2 years since I've had these, they have become my most worn fall and winter shoe choice. They cost $20, so they've held up really well for that price. I'm hunting for a replacement pair now in case these don't make it until next fall.

12. Neutral cardigans - I just replaced my gray cardigan today and it gets worn often. This one lasted around a year and a half, and still has a little life left in it.

Favorite Staples

I hope I didn't pick too many pieces! As I was writing this, I realized these choices make a nice foundation for a little capsule wardrobe. I put together a set on Polyvore reflecting some of these choices.

What are your favorite clothing staples?

I'm linking up!

Greater Than Rubies

Friday's Fab Favorites

pleated poppy

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What I Wore: 20x30 Reflections

I finished up my 20x30 challenge at the end of January, and I've been intending to write a reflection post for a few days. I did stick with the challenge for the entire month of January. You will have to take my word for it because I only ended up getting a few more outfit photos for the last 10 days - 2 weeks of the challenge. :) I did swap out the skirt for a chunky plum colored cardigan I bought at Maurices around the middle of the month. It was so cold that I hadn't worn the skirt at all and decided the cardigan was a lot more practical for the remainder of January.

Here are the new outfits I put together that I did photograph.

Striped Sweater + Gingham Button Down + Skinny Jeans + Black Boots + Statement Necklace

Plaid Shirt + Blue and Black Cardigan + Black Skinnies + Black Boots + Statement Necklace

Black Dress + Striped Turtleneck + Vest + Scarf + Boots

In spite of not photographing all my outfits I stuck with it and I definitely learned a lot from this challenge.

  • 20 pieces are surprisingly versatile. I was able to create a lot of combinations and could have made many more.
  • Accessories really make an impact. I found myself relying on scarves and necklaces a lot to create different looks.
  • Basic pieces are really important.
  • I often stick to "safe" color combinations or things that I think go together. During this challenge, I definitely put together some different color combos including cobalt blue and jade green (which I didn't get a photo of!) and it was fun to be creative in that way.
  • I can identify my core colors that I like to wear and enjoy mixing and matching. For me, they are purple, pink, green, blue, black, and gray. I do own a lot of other colors, but these are my favorites.
  • The reversible vest and my black boots got a ton of wear.
  • It was nice to not have so many choices. It was a relief to know I didn't have so many options.
  • As a result, I plan to go through my closet again today and see if there is anything else I need to get rid of.
  • It helped me to clarify what would be nice to have in my wardrobe to remix. I ended up at $2.97 clearance sale at Penney's yesterday and only bought one thing that I love. That would have never happened before.
See my other 20x30 remix posts here:
Outfits 1-7
Outfits 8-17

I'm linking up!

Greater Than Rubies

pleated poppy

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January 2014 Clothing Budget Recap

In spite of the craziness that was January, I did manage to do some shopping. I exchanged one Christmas item and purchased 6 other items. I mentioned at the end of last year that I'd like to cut the overall number of items I purchase (including accessories) in half this year, which translates to approximately 4-5 items a month. This monthly total doesn't count if I am replacing items and other "essentials" like running clothes, cold weather gear, socks, etc. I also want to focus on finding pieces that are on my "wishlist" and fill gaps in my wardrobe.

Here's what I purchased in January.

January 2014 Purchases

1. Plaid Shirt - Target, Christmas Exchange
2. Black Engineer Boots - Sears, $7.52 after Christmas Money
3. Plum Cardigan and Floral Infinity Scarf - Maurices, $10.94
4. Running Hat - Target, $4.80
6. Black Floral Scarf - JCPenney (not pictured), $8.03
Total spent: $44.74
I stayed under budget and was right around the number of items I wanted to purchase. I wore the boots all month - so much cold and snow here - and I've worn the scarves, cardigan, and plaid shirt several times. I just got the necklace on Wednesday and am wearing it today for the first time. It is very pretty and I think the neutral colors will be versatile. The hat is also a good addition to my running wardrobe and it has a place for my ponytail. :)
I have been looking for a well-made, classic, versatile bag that isn't too expensive. If you have any brand or suggestions, let me know. I can save up if necessary, too. :)
I'm linking up with Budgeting Bloggers at Franish!

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