Monday, February 29, 2016

February Budget

This was a weird month for me all around, which is reflected in my purchases.  I didn't really need anything, but had a few very stressful weeks/days thrown in, which leads to emotional shopping. To be honest, this is actually a lot less stuff than it could have/might have been, all things considered.  The LL Bean sweatshirt is ridiculous (I know, Mom), but I wear it constantly, so it was worth the money. The Target outfit makes me feel like a goddamn super model from 1973 (minus the height and BMI), soooooooo yo to the lo.

Jack Rogers // $83 (Amazon super sale, boooooyah)
LL Bean Sweatshirt // $69
Target Dress // $30
Target Shoes // $30

February Total // $212
Quarterly Budget // $500 - $156 - $212 = $132 left for March

Fit notes // The sweatshirt and dress fit TTS (I took a large in both).  The shoes were comfortable in my normal size, but there's a little lip on the back that my heel kept kind of hitting as I walked around, so I sized up 1/2 a size).

PS I'm catching the waves down in Africa, so no Wednesday or Friday posts

Linking up with Fran, as always

Monday, February 22, 2016

May Designs Review

Wayyyyyy back in the day (sophomore year of college), the girl who sat next to me in my financial literacy lecture had a May Designs planner.  I was a little obsessed with it, but already had a planner.  Over the next few years, I kept revisiting the site, but never bought anything, despite loving all things notebooks and monograms.  I finally pulled the trigger a few weeks ago, when I fell in love with their stripe/floral cover and wanted to make an address book out of it (101 in 1001 goal).  I threw in the other one so that I could have a notebook that fits in my planner

The notebooks themselves are delightful - soft bound, but very sturdy feeling, with bright colors and lots of potential personalizations.  I love the dot graph especially - so useful for all different kinds of notebooks, but they do have everything from baby books to simple lines.  And I love that there are covers for all different occasions - some super girly, some more understated.

In terms of experience, May Designs couldn't have been better.  My order, despite being predicted at taking 2 weeks, arrived in about 8 days.  The packaging is adorable, and I love all the nice touches.  I also had a conversation with their customer service that was great. I had a question about pricing and a rep got back to me within 24 hours and was great.  Overall, big thumbs up on the whole process and the books are fabulous.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Busy Girl's Guide to Staying Informed

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One of my personality flaws is the constant need to appear well-informed.  Some times, I actually am, which makes it easier, but not always (sorry, family).  In my quest to never make an idiot out of myself, I've committed to a few different ways of staying informed about all kinds of things - politics, my health, the news and friends.  Below is how I do it!

The Skimm // My number one, ride or die (what does that even mean?!).  The Skimm is a daily news digest that breaks everything that happened in the last 24 hours down into digestable chunks.  They cover everything from breaking news to pop culture, and do it with a bit (sometimes too much) of humor. They also do these great mini guides on bigger issues, like the election I've been a subscriber for a few years now, and it's a staple in my morning routine.

BBC News // I've never actually opened this app, but the push notifications I get on my watch/phone are indispensable.  They alert you to breaking news and link to bigger stories, but it allows you to (hopefully) be the first person in the room to know what's going on.  I broke the news of Justice Scalia passing away to my family and felt weirdly smug about it (the informing, not him dying).

Unroll Me // This is a little bit backwards in the world of staying involved, but stay with me.  It's a (free!) service that combines all of the promotional emails you get into one email that comes once a day.  I currently have 168 emails rolled up and was able to unsubscribe from 322, which means my inbox is WAY less cluttered and only the important things come through.  It also helps me stay away from sale temptation, because all of those emails show up together and less often.

Health App // For most of the Apple Health app's life, I've ignored it, like most people.  Recently, however, I've synced it up with all of my other health related apps, and now LOVE how it aggregates all of my data into one place.  I can see everything from specific nutrients to overall health stuff, which helps me figure out patterns/correlations. It's not the prettiest, and it took some getting used to, but now I love it and check it religiously.

Learnvest // Over the years, I've tried a handful of budgeting apps to keep me in the know about my own money.  Learnvest is by far my favorite, because I'm able to keep everything well organized, including my goals.  I love that there are so many customization options and that I get both a solid overall picture of my net worth, and plenty of detailed information about my spending habits.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review // Luckiest Girl Alive, Crazy Rich Asians, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

Another month, another book review.  Only three books this time around, which is a bit disappointing, but not surprising.  The last few weeks have been nutty, but I'm headed into a few days off and I can't wait.

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Luckiest Girl Alive // This book is billed as the next Girl on the Train or Gone Girl, which raised my expectations. In some ways this book lived up to it, but mostly fell short.  The writing is not nearly as sophisticated as Gone Girl, and the suspense/surprise was a big let down.  All of the drama happened in the past, and wasn't all that surprising - I was expecting more.  The characters were engaging in a train wreck kind of a way - I hated them, but couldn't look away.  All in all, I'm not upset I spent the time reading the book, but wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

Crazy Rich Asians // I loved this book, and am a tiny bit embarrassed to admit that. This is not quality literature.  It's not even close. What it is is a little bit scandalous, a lot ridiculous and totally addictive.  The story is about as cookie cutter as can be (girl meets boy, society intervenes, hardship, resolution), but the glimpse into the lives of super rich people in Singapore makes it a little bit new.  I loved reading about the social rules that dictate everyone's lives, it kind of reads like an ethnography combined with a Neiman Marcus catalog.  I loved it.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry // I read this book in 4 hours.  Just straight through, no breaks.  It's so beautifully written and the story is gorgeous.  I truly didn't predict how things would unfold and was so engaged with the entire book.  The characters are interesting, well-developed and super interesting.  The main character, from whose perspective the story was told, is 8, and the story is able to walk the very fine line between being true to her understanding and being childish.  I never questioned the narrative, but also definitely understood that the story was from a kid's point of view.  Recommend times a million.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Spring Break Outfit Ideas

We've still got a few weeks before spring break season kicks in, but with 40 to 60 degree days, my brain has started shifting towards warm-weather wear. Also, because I would like to stop alternating between the three pairs of boots I own and not see tights for another 7 months.  Below is what I'm dreaming about wearing for the tropical vacation I'm not taking.

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Beach // Bathing Suit, Rashguard, Sunglasses
Pool // Tunic, Bikini, Sunglasses
Sight Seeing // Converse, Shorts, Top, Sunglasses
Dinner // Dress, Wedges, Bag

PS The sunglasses featured are from Warby Parker's new collection, Sun Collective, that just launched and which they asked me to feature.  I have two pairs of Warby's and adore them, both because they're great sunglasses and because I love the company.  The new collection actually has a few new colors for frames I already own and love, including the Pipers and the Laurels, which means I'll probably be stopping into a Warby soon.

Monday, February 1, 2016

30 Days Vegan // Tips and Experience

One of my 101 in 1001 goals was to go vegan for a month.  I figured, after all of the holiday gluttony, and with a relatively quiet schedule, January would be perfect.  Though I didn't have any specific goals or ideas about how the month would go, I was pleasantly surprised pretty quickly.  Within the first 5 days, I noticed clearer skin, more energy and less digestive discomfort. Below are tips on how to try it out, and more details on my experience.

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Tips //

Start from Zero - I think one of the most helpful things for me was to completely clear out my kitchen of anything non-vegan.  Because I was coming back from the holidays, it was a lot easier, but I doubt I would have been able to stick with the change if there had been any temptations.  No cheese, no problems (except for not having cheese, that kind of sucked).

Break Habits - Prior to this month, my breakfast was always the same and not vegan friendly.  When I decided to do this, I knew I needed to make a new routine, and ended up deciding on protein pancakes.  The change was easy enough to make and something I'll stick with moving forward.  I also accidentally gave up coffee and black tea, because I don't like either without milk.  While I'm excited to add them back in, it was nice to be reminded of my love for herbal tea options.

Stay Stocked - I keep a running list of quick dinners that I frequently rely on.  At the end of January, I made a new list and made sure to stock up on easy options (pre-cooked tofu, veggie burgers, beans). I knew that stress/limited time would automatically turn me towards mac and cheese or something else easy, so I needed to prepare for that.  There were a handful of days over the month that would have interrupted the streak, if not for easily accessible, vegan meals.

Experience //

Time Commitment - Going into the month, I assumed that being vegan would take more time. So many vegetables, so much prep.  In reality, I actually found myself spending less time in the kitchen than before.  If pressed, I would chuck a bunch of vegetables in a steamer and add tofu. So easy.  Once I got in the rhythm of things, meals came together much faster, which I think, in part, was due to more limited options - no decision fatigue.

Budget - This month was definitely more expensive than others.  Most of my budget went into fresh fruits and vegetables, which I don't mind spending money on, but it was still spendy.  In retrospect, I went a little overboard in the beginning and definitely didn't need to stock up like I did, but it will make it easier for me to keep this up later.

Wellness - Again, I didn't really expect any significant changes.  In fact, when I did realize I felt better, I was vaguely annoyed because that meant I should eat less cheese. Ew.  In actuality, I definitely felt much better. Less bloated, more energetic.

Now that I've made it through a full month, I do think I'll stick with a vegan diet about 80% of the time.  Basically, milk in my tea/coffee and the occasional dairy in food.  It's got to be worth it, especially as it's now pretty uncomfortable after I eat it.  I'm looking forward to putting the few things I've missed back into rotation, but don't feel like gratuitous dairy is going to be a part of my diet from now on.