Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge: The Pieces

Today kicks off the 20x30 Summer Remix Challenge at Greater Than Rubies. Below are my pieces. You'll notice I picked 18 pieces. I'll explain...

Summer Remix Challenge Pieces

Here are the pieces I chose:
  • Blue Heathered Tee (Sonoma, Kohl's)
  • Plum Tee (Merona, Target)
  • Black Tee (American Living, Macy's)
  • Grey Tee (Old Navy)
  • Lime Green Tee (Sonoma, Kohl's)
  • Light Blue Chambray (Croft and Barrow, Kohl's)
  • Pastel Plaid Button Down (Mossimo, Goodwill)
Completer Pieces:
  • Mint Cardigan (H&M, Goodwill)
  • Denim Vest (DIY from garage sale denim jacket)
  • Black Shorts (Lee, Kohl's)
  • Denim Shorts (Lee, Goodwill)
  • Black Floral Skirt (American Living, Goodwill)
  • White Cropped Pants (LOFT, Goodwill)
  • Boyfriend Jeans (Apt. 9, Goodwill)
  • Tan Dress Pants (Merona, Goodwill)
  • Print Maxi Skirt (Mossimo, Target)
  • Grey Maxi Dress (Merona, Target)
  • Black and White Striped Dress (George, Garage Sale)
I have been searching for a few of these items for quite awhile and managed to find a couple at garage sales yesterday! I got the striped dress for $2 and the denim jacket (turned vest) for $5. I was able to pick these 18 pieces fairly easily, so I decided to leave the other two as "wildcards". I might end up adding a couple pieces from my closet, or if I find any of the items on my wishlist, I will incorporate those into the final two slots.
I'm linking up at Greater Than Rubies - can't wait to see everyone else's pieces!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Link Round Up: Week 4

Happy Weekend! What are your plans this weekend?

I have a few links to share from this week!

  • I love the sets from bluehydrangea on Pinterest. She chooses 10 pieces for each season and then puts together outfits from these 10 pieces. I love her summer capsule pieces - beautiful and versatile.
  • 5 ways to make time to learn to sew - I don't need to learn, but there are some good tips here for making time. I have lots of projects, ideas, fabric, orders, etc, but I am struggling to find a good routine for my sewing. Hoping to schedule some sewing time this weekend and next week.
  • We made this fried rice this week, and it was excellent. We added chicken and some frozen mixed veggies we had. Yum!
Short and sweet this week! I'm hoping to share my 20 pieces for the upcoming 20x30 remix early next week.

Any news from you? Leave me a comment!

Friday, June 27, 2014

June Purchases and Budget

June Purchases and Budget

Time for my June budget round up. It was a good month for thrifting!
Here's what I kept:
  • Fedora: JCPenney - $3.43 after coupon
  • Mint H&M Cardigan: Goodwill - $5.15
  • Gray Short Sleeve Maxi Dress: Target - $15.26
  • Apt. 9 Brooklyn Hobo: Goodwill - $3.53
  • Pastel Plaid Mossimo Button Down: Goodwill - $2.50
  • Blue Heathered Sonoma Tee: Kohl's - $2.56 after coupon
  • Pewter Metallic Sandals: Payless - $12.76
  • LOFT Modern Straight Jeans: Goodwill - $5.40
Total Spent: $50.59
I'm really pleased with everything I bought and have been wearing it quite a bit! You will see most of these items in my 20x30 remix coming up. I placed a couple of Kohl's orders last weekend (30% off + free shipping + great clearance prices!) and they just arrived today, so I am going to take some time to try things on and decide what to keep and put those items on my July budget recap. I bought some things ahead for fall - sweaters were marked down to $5, plus the 30% off code and I got a couple FILA running tees for $4 plus the 30% off code, so I'm hoping some of the pieces work for me.
I have been looking for a new work bag. It wouldn't count toward my regular budget, so I am looking a bit higher than I normally would. I am a children's librarian, so I constantly have bags filled with all sorts of random things - books, puppets, snacks, craft materials, etc. I would love to find something sturdy enough and large enough that it can hold most of my stuff and I would love it to be somewhat stylish, so I don't look like a misfit carrying 2-3 different bags full of stuff when I head out to do a program. I returned a couple bags to Target that just didn't work for me and I am looking at a few others. It is so hard to buy online because the measurements aren't always quite right. If you have a moment, give me your opinion on the bags pictured below and if you have a recommendation for a fabulous work bag, please leave it for me in the comments!
Work Bags

 I'm linking up to Budgeting Bloggers at Franish!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: Through the Deep Waters

Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer is the story of Dinah, a seventeen year old young lady raised by a single mother in Chicago. In this historical fiction novel, Dinah tries to escape the secrets of her past by leaving Chicago and becoming a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Kansas. This hotel is owned by Fred Harvey, and Dinah dreams of becoming a Harvey girl one day when she is old enough. However, since she was raised in a brothel by a prostitute, and because of a choice she made prior to leaving for Kansas in order to get enough money to help her mother have a place to live until her death, Dinah is not sure this dream will ever come true.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I like Kim Vogel Sawyer's writing style, and have read a number of her books in the past. From Dinah, to chicken farmer Amos, to Dinah's fellow chambermaid roommate Ruthie, the characters in the novel are interesting and relatable. One interesting aspect of the book is the way the chapters are told from alternating perspectives. Hearing the internal dialogue of the main characters is a key aspect of the book. Ruthie makes a lot of assumptions about Dinah and why she behaves as she does, and almost all the assumptions are completely false. Also, the readers really get to see a big transformation in Dinah throughout the course of the book. There is a clear message of hope in the novel as Dinah learns of God's love and sacrifice and she realizes that she can be free of the secrets in her past. The author addresses a difficult topic by putting Dinah in a brothel and having her mother be a prostitute. Toward the beginning of the book, Dinah goes through a very difficult experience that is hard to read about, but it is a key part of the plot line. Nothing in the novel is overly graphic, but if you are sensitive about these topics, this book might not be the best choice for you.

Connect with the author at her website and get a sneak peek of this book here.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review; all opinions are my own.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What I Wore: Black Skinnies and DIY

I have two looks to share today. The first is what I wore to church yesterday and the second look is how I swapped out some pieces for the rest of the day on Sunday.

Cardigan: Worthington (Thrifted), Tie Neck Blouse: 212 Collection (Thrifted), Black Skinnies: Target, Sandals: Payless, Jewelry: Avon


Tee: DIY (more info below), Tennis Shoes: Saucony Bullet Vegan (, Necklace: Avon

So I got the idea in my idea to DIY a graphic tee. I picked up a 4-pack of gray men's tees at Target for $1.78, found a tutorial on Pinterest, got the transfer paper, etc. I found my image at the Graphics Fairy. The first try was a fail. First my printer ink ran out. Then when we ironed on the image we discovered that the backing on the dark tee transfer paper was white which wasn't what I was looking for. So I got more ink and picked up the light tee tranfer paper. This look was more what I was trying for, but the image is still kind of shiny, so not perfect, but OK. Total cost was around $12 (tees plus 2 packs of transfer paper), plus I have 2 more tees and enough transfer paper for a couple more projects.

**Updating to add: after washing, the transfer on this got kind of crackly in texture. I am not thrilled with how it looks. We waiting 24 hours after washing, so not sure what the story is. If you try this, let me know how it works, but wanted to pass along this info.

I have been scouring Goodwill obsessively for a denim jacket so I can make it into a denim vest, but no luck. We're heading to dance tonight, so I can check out a different Goodwill there.

Any DIY apparel or accessories projects you'd recommend? I'm always up for an new project!

I'm linking up to:

Sunday Best at The Modern Austen
Remix, Rewear, Restyle at Greater Than Rubies
I Feel Pretty at Get Your Pretty On

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Link Round Up: Week 3

A pic of some Pyrex in action on Easter. :) Found this sweet yellow bowl at our local Goodwill.

One week of summer reading in the books! We also enjoyed some time at the beach, a local flea market, and got a tour of our local ice cream factory. I am trying hard not to leave our summer activity list until August!

Here are a few links from this week!

That's it for this week!

How is your summer going? Any favorite links or articles to share? I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What I Wore: Summer Style

It's been beautiful here lately. Not too hot, but sunny and pleasant. We've been getting outside and enjoying garage sales, the farmer's market, and more. I have a couple of simple summer outfits to share today.

I took Caitlin's advice over at Greater Than Rubies, and went hunting for some celebrity style inspiration. This easy look is based on this pin showing Katherine Heigl wearing a similar combo. I switched out the flats for some metallic sandals and added a mixed metal bracelet. These jeans are my favorite right now - boyfriend jeans from Apt. 9 thrifted for under $3. The sandals are new from Payless (looks like sold out online, but might be available in stores) and are super comfy.

Alison at Get Your Pretty On recommended a fedora for easy summer style. I have never been a hat person, but I decided to give one a try. I purchased mine from JCPenney. It was on sale, plus I had a $10 off $10 coupon, so it cost me around $3.50. I have been wearing it so much, plus I really like that my forehead is shaded from the sun.

I thrifted these white LOFT pants recently, and I can't get over how much I am wearing them, too! Today I added a lightweight, pastel Mossimo plaid top that I also got from Goodwill, as well as the same bracelet and sandals.
I have been looking for a few more summer pieces, and maybe you can help me. What are your favorite tee shirts and tanks? I would love them to have a modest, crew neckline and hold up to being washed and worn. Also, I am trying to decide on a couple of summer trends, so tell me what you think - yay or nay - on the following:
  • Soft pants (palazzo pants?)
  • Denim vest (I've been looking for a denim jacket at Goodwill to repurpose, but no luck, yet.)
  • Print shorts (I wonder if print pants would be better for me.)
I'm linking up!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Link Round Up: Week 2

Happy Saturday! We're three days into summer vacation now and getting settled in. Next week we start this summer's activities (dance, piano, library), so this week we have been hanging out and doing a few fun things like strawberry picking and visiting our local amusement park. We've also been getting some rooms painted and putting them back together.

I wanted to give a quick update on my dad since I know some of you have been praying for him. A quick summary: my dad had laryngitis starting right around Christmas that he couldn't get rid of. After visiting a local ENT, who realized he had a paralyzed vocal cord, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He had surgery in late-January and had radioactive iodine treatment in late March. The surgeon wasn't able to get all the cancer during the surgery and it is a more rare type of papillary thyroid cancer called tall cell variant. He's been going for follow up appointments post-treatment and last week, his oncologist told us that the treatment is working! His numbers look good and everyone is pleased with how the cancer is responding. So thank you, thank you for prayers and if you are inclined, keep them coming! If you have anything you'd like me to pray for you about, please leave a comment or send me a message and I will be happy to do so.

On to this week's links!

  • Free Style: Borrowing from the Stars - Such a fun article with tips on how to use celebrity style to inspire our own wardrobes. Oh, and if you sign up for the Greater Than Rubies email list, Caitlin is sharing a guide on finding 5 new outfits in your closet. I just got my copy and can't wait to take a look and get some inspiration!
  • The Thing About Anxiety - Very interesting perspective and ideas for those of us who struggle with anxiety.
  • Faith on Friday #2: Confession Time - Love this! This year, I've been taking a much more relaxed approach to blogging. I really enjoy interacting with various people I've "met" through blogging and paring down the number of blogs I read has really helped me to be able to be intentional with this.
  • Princess Anna Dress Up Apron - My daughter still loves Frozen and she wants to be Elsa for Halloween. We will see if I make or buy something along those lines, but this dress-up apron is super cute. The Elsa one is coming soon!
Any favorite links from this week you'd like to share? How is your summer going so far?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review: Effortless Savings

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Richard Syrop of to see if I was interested in reviewing his new book of the same title, Effortless Savings. I actually love reading personal finance books, so I was pleased to say yes and read through this book to review here.

I don't blog as much about frugal things as I may have previously, but our family is very committed to living a frugal lifestyle. We have a variety of financial goals that we are working toward, and a frugal mindset is key to achieving these goals. I think it is always good to be reminded of what we're already doing to save and live within our means as well as to get new ideas. I don't know about you, but has become increasingly difficult for us to stay within our monthly budget for groceries and household items lately, so we've been trying some new strategies in this area.

The book Effortless Savings is a wonderful resource full of practical tips and suggestions for saving money. The book is divided into eleven chapters with money saving ideas in each area organized by topic. I think everyone, from those new to finding ways to save money to those that have been living a frugal lifestyle longer, can benefit from this book. The book is very thorough and discusses a variety of options for each area.

I want to share a few new ideas I got from this book as well as some things that I have done in the past that I need to remember to do again! First, we've been looking at ways to cut our cable, Internet, and phone costs. We already use no contract phones, no longer have cable, and stream Hulu Plus ($7.99 a month) shows through our Wii. I am intriguied by the VoIP phone option and may research that. The book also talks about how to shop successfully on eBay. I also was reminded to always log in to my account when I am shopping online. Overall, I would recommend this book as a great resource for people looking for a wide range of money saving options!

*I did receive a copy of this book free from the author for the purpose of review; all opinions are my own.

I would love to give away my copy of this book to one of you! Just leave me a comment that you're interested by this Thursday, June 12 and I will pick a winner and mail the book out to you!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Link Round Up: End of the School Year Edition

I really enjoy reading posts where people share some of their favorite articles from a variety of sources. I thought it might be fun to share links of what I'm reading as well. Since we are winding down with school (finally - 2 more days!), I've been getting ready to spend more time with my daughter this summer. :) Many of these links relate to that focus right now.

  • 15 Tips for the Highly Sensitive Parent - This is me. And my daughter is a highly sensitive child. Good stuff here.
  • My New Morning Routine - I need to develop a new routine for the summer since we won't be doing drop off at 8:20 and pick up at 3:30 for awhile. Any suggestions that work for you?
  • What Every Parent Must Know About Parenting a Six Year Old - So helpful! Do you find this to be true for your child that is or was this age?
  • Sew Simple Girls Club - I want to focus on taking more time this summer to teach my daughter about sewing, cooking, laundry, personal finance, etc. I think this sewing club looks so fun!
  • Jump in to Summer Learning - The teacher in me can't let the summer go by without a plan for learning. Right now, the plan is one of these worksheets each week day, plus I will have her read at least one book a day to us. I got some letter sized boxes from Big Lots ($4.50) for each weekday and I'll put the worksheet and book in there, plus some other supplies for creating and learning. We'll see how it goes!
Do you have any favorite links to share with me? Any summer plans?

What I Wore: Thrifted

Just a few looks from the past week! I've been having good luck at Goodwill and garage sales lately, and it's fun to see how often my outfits include something purchased second-hand.

Dress: Goodwill, Necklac and Earrings: Avon, Jacket: Macy's, Flats: Target

Black Top: Worthington, Pants: Sonoma, Wedges: Merona via Goodwill

Cardigan: H&M via Goodwill, Blouse: 212 Collection via Goodwill, Pants: Limited via garage sale, Flats: Target

OK, if you're here reading, I need some advice. My hair is driving me crazy! I typically wear it fairly long but donated several inches not quite a year ago. So I am in the proces of growing it out right now and it is at a super annoying in-between length. Any suggestions for a new cut or style in the meantime? I am wearing it back about 75% of the time right now, and am not sure whether to keep growing it, trim it, cut it short...what do you think??

I'm linking up!
Sunday Best at The Modern Austen

Fashion Friday at Musings of a Housewife

Monday, June 2, 2014

May Clothing Budget

May was a month of trying lots of things and returning many. I did find some good pieces at Goodwill and even garage sales this month. Plus, my husband got me a few nice things for Mother's Day. Here's what ended up in my closet this month.

May Clothing Budget

  • Olive Pants: Kohl's - $2.99
  • Mudd Oxfords: Kohl's - $4.28
  • Gold Disc Necklace: Avon - $6.71
  • Chaps Dress: Garage Sale - $1
  • Pink Talbots Short Sleeve Button Down: Goodwill - $4.60
  • Lee Denim Shorts: Goodwill - $3.53
  • Black Saucony Sneakers: - $27
  • Black Print Jersey Dress: Goodwill - $5.67
  • Maurices Scarf: Goodwill - $2.46
  • Navy and White Striped French Terry Top: Kohl's - Gift
  • Black Flats: Target - Gift
  • Black Boatneck Tee: Macy's - Gift
Total Spent: $58.24
Overall, I am really happy with my purchases this month. I got and/or replaced some basics (navy and white striped, olive pants, black tee, black flats) and even found some fun things. I basically have no shorts as I don't typically wear them much, but I keep seeing cute outfits with shorts, so I would like to get a couple pairs and then denim ones were a good start. The olive pants weren't *exactly* what I was looking for in terms of cut, but for the price, they were worth getting. I also am really excited about the black Saucony sneakers. I think they will be great to wear with a variety of outfits year round.
What did you add to your closet in May? What was your favorite?
I'm linking up to Franish!

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