Monday, November 30, 2015

November Budget

Another month, another budget update. This was a surprisingly quiet month on the shopping front. I had saved most of my budget for Thanksgiving weekend sales and while I did shop, I didn't do much damage in the clothing department (let's not talk about my Sephora purchases, k?).

Here's are the details...

November Budget
Starting budget: $200


Gap Linen Stripe Tee ($20, on sale) -- I haven't shopped at the Gap in a long time. They're in the midst of a long identity crisis and I just haven't been inspired by any of their collections in ages . On Black Friday I found myself in the mall for an hour and poked my head into my local store in search of GapFit top I'd had my eye on. I realized that the checkout line was already snaking around the store and I was in no mood to wait, so I did an about face but spotted this pretty tee on my way out. It had a great look and feel -- very light, nice thin stripes, great quality. Good on its own, perfect for layering. I placed an order from the comfort of my couch and I'm crossing my fingers that the fit is right!

Zara Quilted Messenger Bucket Bag ($33, on sale) -- I've been eyeing this for a while and decided to pull the trigger thanks to a 30% off Black Friday code. It's chic and classic and practical, I think I'll be using it all winter.

Banana Republic Crackle Mini Crossbody ($44 on sale, used giftcard) -- another one that I've been thinking about for months. I was glad to finally catch it on a sale. It's a very cute bag that's perfect for casual nights out (it's so nice to be hands-free when you're in a crowded bar or if you are planning multiple venue changes), but it was absolutely not worth the $110 BR was asking for it originally.

Target Blanket Scarf ($14, on sale) -- a Black Friday impulse purchase. My cart was loaded with lots of gifts for friends and family, so I couldn't help but treat myself when I saw this super pretty blanket scarf. The print really doesn't translate in this image -- the plaid is navy blue with accents of pinky-red and orange. Not a classic plaid color combo, but one that will work with so many things in my closet.

Target Merona Embellished Sweater ($18, on sale) -- I broke my own rule about buying Target sweaters (they don't hold up well at all), but this one is so me. Soft ivory, fair isle print, sparkly gems -- sold! It looks pretty washed out in this image, but in person it's vibrant and sweet. I feel like it will be great for casual holiday events (I'm going to a cookie swap and I'm having a little tree-trimming party later in the month).

Total: $85 ($115 under budget)

I'm fine with this. I'll tuck some extra money away for a few December splurges (gird your loins, the sales will be going crazy all month) or put it towards my Christmas gift giving budget. I like to be generous!

I'm linking up with Fran and the budget bloggers -- can't wait to see what everyone bought!

PS -- new here? Take a look at some of my most popular November posts. This month was all about my Gift Guide -- lots of good stuff, with plenty of installments still to come!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gift Guide: My Yoga Partner

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Mine was nontraditional but lovely -- I wouldn't have it any other way. Since we're fully in the holiday shopping season, let's get back to the gift guide...

Next up I'm shopping for a one of my favorite yoga pals -- we met in class over a year ago and she helps keep me accountable. I love getting to catch up with her before class, and I know she's know she's going to tag me in her Facebook check-in at the studio, so I definitely have to drag my butt out of bed.

gg: yoga

WHO I'M SHOPPING FOR: my favorite workout partner

She's an energizer bunny and fitness is her hobby -- she loves checking out all of the latest classes and is always trying to talk me into 5Ks, bike races, and boot camps (and makes them fun!).

WHO YOU'RE SHOPPING FOR: the Sporty Spice on your list...your favorite vegan/gluten-free/green-juice-drinking clean eater....the running addict...the friend most likely to post a sweaty selfie

Spiritual Gangster Pullover, $88
A cozy sweatshirt perfect for tossing on when she's on her way to class (or just wants people to think she is...)

Deliciously Ella, $14
Ella Woodward is one of the best (and most photogenic) food bloggers on the planet -- somehow she makes some incredibly drool-worthy meals using only natural, plant-based ingredients. This is her first cookbook. If it includes a recipe for looking like a stone-cold British fox, sign me up.

CB2 Tea Tube, $12
A charming little delivery mechanism for all of that healthy loose leaf tea she drinks. A lovely gift with a selection of favorite blends.

Brass Disc Tassel Bracelet, $30
This chic little bracelet has a very zen vibe and would be a perfect arm-party-of-one when she's on the mat.

Boston Marathon Route Map, $38

Maybe she accomplished her lifelong goal of running Boston, or is pounding the pavement this year so she can qualify. A cool course map of the Boston Marathon (or any number of famous races) would be an excellent motivation tool/trophy.

Carine Croc Tote, $50
If she's not the kind of girl who wants to carry around a big bulky nylon bag, she'll love this perfectly chic tote for carrying all of her essentials to the gym or studio.
Grid Mini Foam Roller, $25
If she's working out on the regular, she knows all about foam rolling and has a roller (or two) at home. But she may not have this tiny version, which is perfect for throwing in her suitcase for vacations or out of town races.

GapFit Motion Hoodie, $65
This sleek top is really unique and quite cool -- it looks so aerodynamic, I feel like I'd shave 30 seconds off of my mile time just by wearing it. I'm linking to the Amazon page because Gap can't seem to keep this in stock in its own store (along with many, many other items) -- frustrating, particularly since they've been running a great 50% off promotion this weekend. Get it together, Gap -- you really can't afford to eff up Black Friday this year.

Dreaminex Wireless Earbuds, $57
Wireless earbuds make lots of workouts so much easier. The pricier pairs are out of my gift-giving budget, but there are some great moderately priced versions (which I actually prefer, so I don't have to worry so much about losing them or ruining them when I'm in sweaty beast mode).

Gold/Black Stud Wrap for Fitbit, $78
A fashionable upgrade for her beloved fitness tracker. Because you rack up plenty of steps doing your regular weekend bar crawl, but that fugly rubber bracelet doesn't work with any of your going-out looks.

Suzani Blush Magic Carpet Yoga Mat, $98

When you're feeling very zen and centered you're probably not supposed to care about who has the best yoga mat. But seriously, give her this one and she will have the BEST mat in the room.

And if you need a few extras...

These little tinted lip balms are perfect for prettying up after class.

If she's going to indulge her sweet tooth, she'd rather do it with some tasty organic treats.

A fancy freshening spray is a nice luxury for any gym bunny.

A great workout-proof headband is always appreciated.

This water bottle is perfect if she's naughty or nice.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gift Guide: The Newlyweds

My brother got married this year and now he and my new SIL are buying a house. It's nice that one of us has figured out how to do relatively normal adult stuff. A new house provides so many great gift giving opportunities...


WHO I'M SHOPPING FOR: my brother and sister-in-law

They're newlyweds who will have a nice new house to decorate soon. They're young and fun and like spending time at home entertaining or just relaxing.

WHO YOU'RE SHOPPING FOR: the homebody on your list...the friend who's obsessed with design blogs...your favorite foodie...someone who's just hard to shop for (food is always a hit!)

Laguna Basket, $64
There are a million uses for a basket like this, and it's so cute. If you're feeling generous, fill it up -- you could try something fun, like a few cozy blankets (I always find great ones at HomeGoods and TJMaxx), or even something practical (fresh cut firewood).
Love Letter Napkins, $40
A set of sweet napkins printed with the love letters of great writers -- perfect for bringing a little romance to weeknight dinners.

Mo's Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancake Mix ($15) and Noble Handcrafted Syrup Set ($40)

Ingredients for a tasty breakfast make a great gift -- this chocolate chip bacon pancake mix is amazing. I'd also include this set of fancy syrups and you'll give a gift that will add a touch of luxury to Christmas morning, an anniversary breakfast, or just a regular old Sunday.

Smartphone Projector, $31
I think slide projectors are the coolest thing and I don't know why they've fallen out of favor. I still have one from college -- art history major, what what -- but precious few slides to project. This is the next best thing and would be great for showing off honeymoon pics or doing an outdoor movie night.

Nickel Designs Doormat, $35 and up
These doormats are hilarious -- lots of great pre-printed options to choose from, or customize one with geographic coordinates, a silly hashtag, or favorite song lyrics. Guaranteed to make a new house feel like home.

Pineapple Ice Bucket, $70
Pineapples are a symbol of good luck and hospitality. So is a well-stocked bar cart -- this ice bucket is perfect for a new home, and gorgeous to boot.  

Mixed Cut Double Old-Fashioned Glasses, $70

Maybe you know someone whose glassware could use an upgrade -- these double old-fashioned glasses are so festive and are just begging to be displayed.

Custom Portrait Cookie Cutter, $50 and up

Fairly ridiculous, totally awesome -- this company will create a custom cookie cutter featuring a silhouette, portrait, or other image. You definitely know somebody who wants to bake cookies with their own face (or the face of their beloved). 3D printers, what can't they do?!

Bamboo Cutting Board with Laser Engraved Recipe, $60

I love taking a practical item that you use everyday and giving it a special twist -- handwritten recipes have gone the way of the dodo, but how amazing would it be to commemorate your grandmother's famous meatball recipe, or Dad's Sunday morning pancakes?

Peppers of Origin Gift Pack, $18
I've given this a few times and it's always been a big hit -- fancy peppers are fun for the adventurous chef.

Vintage Christmas Ornaments, $115
Ornaments are a thoughtful gift for newlyweds (especially if you're going to see them before they've trimmed their tree). I love this vintage set, although I realize as a single person I have the luxury of decorating with ridiculously girly ornaments -- this set of wooden ornaments is very charming and a bit more unisex.

A great gift for the armchair traveler or long weekend road-tripper. The 36 Hours series is super popular -- I like this gift set of global destinations, but there are also volumes that focus on specific areas, like regions in the US. This could be one of those bad generic gifts that goes unused if given to the wrong person, but lots of fun for an adventurous spirit.
Waring Popcorn Popper, $56
My popcorn popper is my favorite kitchen appliance ever. Microwave popcorn is foul, and most people won't take the time to pop fresh popcorn on the stove (though it isn't too hard). A popcorn popper is so easy and makes a damn tasty snack.

And if you need a few extras...

Salt and pepper shakers with attitude.

Everyone should have a zoodle-maker.

These chic toothbrushes are thoughtful, and they'll also look great when they're 'gramming pics of their new bathroom.

I kind of want to make a set of these customized keychains and put my brother and SIL's goofy pet names on them.

A mini tape measure is so, so handy when you're decorating a new place. You don't want to drag home that craigslist find and realize you can't get it through the door.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gift Guide: My College Roommate

I got so lucky when I got paired up with my college roommate. We bonded instantly even though we are quite different people, and we're still great friends to this day. Even though we don't get to see each other all the time, I love that we can pick right up where we left off and I can't wait for a reunion during the holiday season. I have LOTS of great gift ideas for her...

WHO I'M SHOPPING FOR: my college roommate

She's an airy-fairy free spirit, an artist with a true bohemian soul. She's a girlie-girl with a big heart. She's also a total scatterbrain, in the most delightful of ways.

WHO YOU'RE SHOPPING FOR: your baby sister...someone who always has her head in the clouds....that friend who is a friend to all (animals, mother earth, lost causes)...a girl with flirty and feminine taste

ASOS Embellished Cape, $100
This sweet little capelet is like giving the gift of fairy wings. It will look great over all of those pretty vintage dresses in her closet, or with jeans and a tank for an easy night out.

You're A Mess Tray, $25
She's totally self-aware and has a great sense of humor, so this tray is perfect for her. I'd put this together with a good book: the wonderfully messy Drew Barrymore's Wildflower, Shonda Rhimes' The Year of Yes, or Carrie Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl are great reads that will have her feeling great about her perfectly imperfect life.

Casetify Moroccan Tile iPhone Case, $40

She's probably shattered a screen or two, so a good sturdy case is a really thoughtful gift. This watery mermaid-esque pattern is so dreamy.

State Charm, $18
This little charm is a little bit sweet and a little bit gaudy. So of course, I love it. My roommate is a bit of a wanderlust and calls a few states home -- I love the idea of a necklace or bracelet with charms from each of those special places (Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, and California are currently available, I'm hoping a few more show up soon).

Urban Decay Delirious Travel Eyeliner Set, $29
A great artist sees a canvas anywhere, even her own eyelids. Urban Decay makes some of the best eyeliners on the market, and this set is a like a crayon box of fun vibrant colors. 

Heart-shaped Umbrella, $35
Rainy days never dull her sparkle, so how about giving her the most adorkable umbrella ever. It's big enough for two, which is great because she always has a friend or crush to stroll around with.

Scarf, earmuffs, and gloves, $13-78
My sweet friend never grew out of that childhood habit of losing her hat/scarf/gloves, so why not give her a pile of cute cold weather accessories. This scarf is the coziest, and the bright pink color is so flattering on lots of skin tones. The earmuffs and gloves are pretty, useful, and cheap (so neither of you will feel bad when she loses them again).

Do Unto Animals, $14
If you have a friend who spends Sunday mornings feeding the ducks and has named all of the squirrels in her yard, this is perfect. Tracey Stewart (Jon's wife) wrote a funny, smart, and practical book about the special relationship between humans and animals -- there are a few people on my list who I'll be gifting this to. For extra credit, try a thoughtful donation -- the World Wildlife Federation and Farm Sanctuary allow you to adopt an animal on someone's behalf, a very adorable add-on.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Mug, $14
My girl isn't afraid to wear her political heart on her sleeve, and this cheeky mug is the perfect way for her to let everyone know that she's down with the Notorious RBG. Pair it with a few pounds of her favorite roast, a box of Keurig cups, or even a coffee subscription service.

The Blend Custom Fragrance Kit, $29
For your friend who marches to her own beat and definitely wants to stand out, this adorable little kit will allow her to create a custom fragrance. Even better, she can change it up every day and match her scent to her mood, her outfit, or her horoscope.

St. Jude Heart Leather Zipper Case, $24
A big leather pouch can be a lifesaver for someone who doesn't always have her act together. Perfect for storing travel essentials, organizing receipts, or just corralling all of the little things in her purse. (Bonus: proceeds benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which will make her love it even more)

And if you need a few extras...

Some gourmet pop tarts that she can grab on those days she doesn't have time for breakfast (pretty much every day).

A keyring that's pretty hard to lose (bonus: make her an extra set of keys, because you know she'll need them).

An extra battery for her phone -- it's practical but oh so pretty.

Rainbow-hued temporary hair dye, because she's always ready to try something new.

An astrologically correct trinket dish.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Mom

Shopping for my mom is always pretty easy. I know her tastes pretty well, and since she's always thinking about everyone else's needs, it's fun to find ways to really pamper her.

When I'm ready to head out and shop for mom, I like to remind myself of the brattiest thing I ever said to her (oh, those angsty teen years), the grossest thing she ever had to clean up (when I was seven I tried to eat an entire box of Cheez-Its -- didn't go so well), and the many times she dried my tears. And then I buy her twice as many presents.


She's the best, of course. She's selfless and big-hearted, smart and funny and unbelievably kind. She has her own style and while she's not trying to set trends, she always knows on what's going on in fashion and isn't afraid to try something new.

WHO YOU'RE SHOPPING FOR: someone who deserves a unique gift...or your own mama

Custom Street Map Puzzle, $129
For most moms, home is where the heart is. This puzzle is a fun way to honor a special address (your family home, or maybe even the neighborhood she grew up in). Putting it together is the perfect activity for chilly winter evenings, and it would look great in a frame when it's finished. A satellite view option is also available.

M. Gemi Felize Custom Driving Mocassins, $198
Custom Italian loafers -- does it get more luxurious than that? My mom would be gaga over these chic loafers, especially knowing that the suede color, stitching, and tread were personalized just to her tastes. The monogram inside is a sweet touch.

Vintage Perfume Atomizer (similar), $125+
One of my favorite memories is sitting in my mom's bedroom and playing with all of the pretty things on her vanity -- piles of costume jewelry, a delicate music box, and her fancy perfume bottles. Beautiful atomizers have sort of gone out of style, but you can find some lovely vintage ones -- I loved this one on One Kings Lane (sold out now, but new ones pop up every day), and you can also find on them on eBay, 1st Dibs, etc. This would make a nice gift along with a bottom of her favorite perfume -- every time she spritzs it on, she'll be making new favorite memories of you!

Dr. Jart+ The Book of Masks, $39

Sheet masks are the hottest thing in skincare -- this collection of 8 different ones from one of the top beauty brands will guarantee many relaxing at-home spa nights (she'll probably even invite you over to join her!).

Pearl ring, $85

My mom will see me wearing something and immediately want it for herself, even if it isn't at all her taste or style. I have an enormous statement ring that I wear all the time -- it's gold with a mother-of-pearl stone and you can see it from a mile away. This ring is just as bold but a bit more wearable, perfect for mom.

Jensen Turntable, $37
OK, hear me out -- turntables have made a comeback thanks to a new generation of audiophiles who learned to appreciate their unique sound, but our parents were the original vinyl-lovers. I think my mom still has a box or two of her old albums and she definitely doesn't have a way to listen to them -- I'll be she'd get a kick out of digging them out and taking a stroll down music memory lane. 
French Blue Bureau Pitcher, $68

This sweet little pitcher is a triple threat: it's pretty and would look lovely on any bedside table. It's practical, perfect to quench that midnight thirst without having to leave a cozy bed. And it's thoughtful, hand crafted by one of the artisans who sells her goods on The Little Market (a wonderful fair trade marketplace). My mom is a principled lady -- she spent a year boycotting products made in China in protest of poor working conditions -- so she'll feel extra good about this piece.
Amazon Fire, $40

She wants to cut the cord but doesn't really know how -- this is an easy way for her to take the digital leap and learn to love binge watching. I'm going to pick one up for my mom this year. I just hope I don't have to explain "Netflix and chill" to her...

Minted Heart Snapshot Photo Art, $29 and up
My mom checks Facebook about once or twice a month, so she misses a lot of great photos. She also still appreciates the value of physical photos that she can enjoy even when she's offline. Minted has a lot of fun custom photo products -- I'd create one that includes recent snaps with some of her favorite old photos for a piece of art she'll really treasure.

Sephora Mani Kit, $30

Your mom was probably your first mani/pedi partner -- treat her to this sleek little tool set, perfect for giving herself an at-home treatment (or even bringing them to the salon -- I prefer to use my own tools for sanitary reasons!)

And if you need a few extras...

A special tea that's perfect for Downton lovers on Christmas morning.

A good sleep mask to help her catch up on all of those Zzzzs she missed when you were a baby.

A chic little key fob that almost looks like it was handcrafted by you (if you were crafty).

An excellent hand cream in the prettiest little tube (keep an eye on Sephora's Black Friday deals as this has been included for the past few years).