Digging

I haven’t done one of these in a while! Let’s see…

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Lightroom: As is DREADFULLY apparent by looking at this blog, I’m really, really bad at photography. I want to learn how to get better, but I just don’t have the patience (keeping it real). Plus, I’m terrible at remembering to take pictures, I currently only own the crappy zoom lens that came with my SLR camera, and I very rarely actually use it, so it’s difficult justifying purchasing a nicer lens. Anyway, I’ve tried my hand at photoshop several times, but it’s just way too complicated. A couple of weeks ago, I came across this blog post, and boy did it change things for me. I signed up for a free trial of Adobe’s Lightroom and got right to work editing my photos from Savannah…holy crap, it made a world of difference. Even having used my “crappy” lens. While it’s still kind of unlikely I’m going to lug my “nice” camera around frequently (maybe more so when we have a kiddo), I definitely think it’s worth it to invest in Lightroom, and maybe I’ll actually shill out for a nicer lens (this one’s only a couple hundred bucks, and I’ve read great things). If you have any interest in learning how to edit photos as a beginner/hobby photographer, I would highly recommend giving Kelly’s post a read.

Manchester Orchestra: More specifically, their most recent album, A Black Mile to the Surface. HOLY MOLY it’s good. Every. Single. Damn. Song gives me chills. I’m not typically one to listen to an album all the way through (I’m a shuffle/playlist fiend, much to Jeff’s chagrin), but I’ve had this album on repeat for the past week and I’m not even remotely sick of it. Andy Hull is a damn genius.

My Nespresso Machine: Guys, I’m in love. I still love my Ninja Coffee Bar and the Nespresso machine isn’t a substitute for an actual coffee machine (or however you prefer to brew coffee), but when I want an espresso based drink it’s SO EASY and SO GOOD. I bought a real espresso machine “for Jeff” (ha) for Christmas several years ago, but it was a lot of work and cleanup, so it ended up getting neglected and put away after several months. And the “espresso drink” function of the Ninja is really no good – it’ll do in a pinch I guess, but there’s no substitute for real espresso with crema. I’m frankly shocked at how good the Nespresso capsules are, plus there’s a huge variety depending on the strength and flavor you’re looking for. And the best part of all: NO CLEANUP. Aside from rinsing out the Aeroccino (the milk frother thingy), there’s literally nothing to clean. It’s glorious. I got mine from saving up points from my work’s rewards program (you guys, this rules – other things I’ve scored using this program have included Ray Ban Clubmasters and a Le Creuset stock pot, among other things), but you can grab the model I have here.

LL Bean Wicked Good Moccasins: I typically get a new pair of slippers every year, because I’ve been buying the fake shearling ones that wear down and end up stinking HORRIBLY after 3 months. I finally invested in a pair of authentic shearling moccasins from LL Bean, and my feet are SO happy – it’s like I’m walking on a pillow made out of clouds wrapped in unicorn fur. They’re basically Uggs, but in moccasin form (and from LL Bean, which I’ve developed a renewed obsession with recently). I’ve had a pair of Ugg boots that have lasted something like 10 years without wearing down or smelling (although to be fair, I haven’t worn them with any amount of regularity in probably 5 years), and the lining in these is basically the same so I’m hopeful it’ll hold up. They’re also great gifts for the fella in your life.

The Frame: This isn’t something I have; just something I want desperately. I read this blog post from Emily Henderson, and it blew my mind: The Frame is a TV that Samsung makes that functions as ART when you’re not watching TV. It’s slim and sleek and looks like an actual gallery frame, and it comes with something like over a hundred pre-loaded art prints (but you can upload ANY art print your little heart desires), and it FLAT-MOUNTS to the wall like an actual piece of art, while still being able to adjust and tilt. You can even get the actual frame part in different finishes. I’m obsessed. Now to convince Jeffrey (ha!!)

Loafers: GIVE ME ALL THE LOAFERS. I’m crazy about ’em. Mulestasselpenny loafer, I love ’em all. I don’t love wearing heels on a regular basis and I’ve been wanting something that’s not a boot or a ballet flat, but is dressier than a sneaker, and loafers are the absolute perfect solution. They look amazing with jeans (and you can wear them with cropped jeans or full-length styles, which can’t be said for a lot of other types of shoes…or at least, I can’t pull it off with a lot of other styles of shoes, haha), but you can also wear them with skirts and dresses, or slacks. I’m really loving this Halogen pair with a collapsable back – you can wear them as mules or not, depending on your mood (or temperature).

 

 

Five impulse buys that ended up being my favorite items

…Plus two things I thought I needed that ended up being duds

As I’ve mentioned, I (VERY) frequently end up falling victim to impulse buys. A lot of the time these purchases end up being left laying around for several weeks before being stored away somewhere or thrown out. But every once in a while, I’ll grab some random little item that ends up being one of the most useful things I own. Here are five items I grabbed on impulse, but ended up being some of the most handy things in the whole house:

1. Marble “Cheese” TrayIMG_2631I grabbed this little guy from Target one day because it was marble and it was cute. I didn’t really have a specific purpose in mind for it (it was labeled as a cheese tray, but was a little small to be practically used as such), but as soon as I got home it hit me – it’s the PERFECT little tray to keep my dish soap, hand soap, and kitchen sponge corralled! It keeps everything neat and together, and most importantly, it covers the stupid hole in the countertop meant for a sprayer hose. We removed the hose a few years back because it wasn’t functional and we had installed a faucet with a hose built in, and the hole has been driving me absolutely bonkers ever since. I had it covered with a little metal cover for a while, but I couldn’t put anything on top of it without being lopsided, so I eventually took it off and just placed my soap directly over the hole…but I still knew it was there and I hated it. This little tray makes me practically forget all about it. Get it here.

2. Salt WellIMG_2633Another impulse buy from Target – big shock, I know. I always knew salt cellars LOOKED pretty, but I didn’t realize how much easier they make things – I use kosher salt pretty much exclusively when cooking, and the only practical way to do so is to grab a pinch with your fingers and sprinkle it on (much like salt bae). Honestly, I don’t remember what I even did before this little guy – did I just take the salt directly from the huge carton? I don’t know, but I keep this little bowl right on my stove and it makes cooking a pinch (see what I did there?). Get it here.

3 & 4. Mid Century Planter & Artificial PlantIMG_2630This one’s a twofer, although I don’t always keep them together – I grabbed this Nate Berkus planter on clearance from – where else? – Target one day, and the cute little artificial succulent is from Ikea. I have the blackest of black thumbs and although I buy real succulents pretty frequently, they usually don’t make it more than a few weeks. This little artificial guy looks pretty darn real, and is cute as all get out. Similar stand here; similar plant here.

5. Lunch ToteIMG_2632For the longest time (we’re talking years), I brought my lunch to work in a variety of efficient, yet classy grocery bags. I always felt a little embarrassed and unprofessional doing so, but I could never seem to remember to pick up a reusable lunch tote. Until one day, I grabbed this adorable little fella while waiting in line at Old Navy, and the rest is history. It’s just your basic lunch tote – nothing super special about it, but the bright yellow graphic makes me smile every time I look at it. I can never seem to find these online, but they’re always right by the register in the store. These also come in pretty cute patterns.

And now…Two things I thought I needed, but ended up being duds.

1. Spoon RestIMG_2627I know a lot of people (probably most people) use these, but I just don’t see the point…I insisted on buying a really pretty one from Anthropologie, but since it’s so pretty, I hate to get it dirty. Which…is kind of the whole point. Even after buying this, I pretty much always rest my dirty cooking utensil on a paper towel, so this just sits on my stove collecting grease. I throw it in the dishwasher once a week or so, put it back, and there it sits. Pretty, but pointless (much like Kylie Jenner – zing). If you’re so inclined, you can grab a similar (actually, cuter) one here.

2. Passport CoverIMG_2628This one pains me, because I was SO excited to buy it (I bought this one for me and a brown leather one for Jeff right before our honeymoon) and it’s SO pretty, but it’s really more of a hassle than anything. Have you ever tried to use a passport in a passport sleeve? Does. Not. Fly. (Literally!) The TSA makes you remove it, so I always end up taking my passport out and carrying it around the airport naked, and then I just have an extra thing to lug around. But…I still use it, because it’s pretty, damn it. You can snag a similar one here.

 

 

Digging

Happy New Year, friends! Here are some things I’m digging this January…

My bathrobe: Jeff and I gifted each other hotel-style white terry bathrobes for Christmas this year, and it’s been a real game-changer, at least on my end. I use that sucker every single day. Our bathroom is freezing cold, so I wrap myself in my warm, fluffy robe every single morning while I get ready for work, I wear it after every shower (I don’t know how I’ve lived so long without this), I curl up in it on weekend mornings. I’d love to do a staycation night where we open a bottle of red, curl up in our bathrobes, watch movies, and sleep in the guest room.

My YMCA membership: This hasn’t actually happened just yet, but I’m SUPER excited about it. I’ve fallen WAY out of my fitness routine since the wedding (to be honest, I fell out of it BEFORE the wedding – I’ve been saying I’m the only bride in history to have GAINED weight before her wedding – ha!), and I’ve decided to splurge on a YMCA membership in favor of my work gym this year, due to several factors. First of all, my office has been relocated – my company owns two buildings a few blocks away from each other, and I’m being moved from one building to the other. However, my parking assignment will remain in my current building (bummer), and a YMCA branch is actually located right smack between the two buildings, so it’ll be right on my way from one building to the other. Plus, my work gym is located in my current building, so I could see myself using the fact that it’ll be in a separate building as an excuse not to go. The second largest factor is that I was planning on joining a local pool this summer, which isn’t cheap, especially considering that it would only be open 4 months out of the year. My YMCA membership will include a really nice outdoor pool facility minutes away from my house, which will eliminate the need to join a separate pool. Plus, the YMCA just offers more amenities than my work gym – of course, it was nice to have the opportunity for free personal training through work, but I ended up deciding that it wasn’t really for me anyway, and the Y offers more classes than my current gym. I’ll stopping in tomorrow for a tour, and I’ll sign up from there…I’m hoping to add swimming to my weekly workout schedule!

Amazon Echo: I was skeptical of this before owning one, but I’m an enthusiastic convert! Jeff gifted me an Echo for my birthday this year because my previous bluetooth speaker had fizzled out on me, but I didn’t see the point of the Alexa feature – it just seemed kind of lazy and pointless to me. Boy, was I wrong! It’s SO nice to be able to control the speaker from inside the shower, or if I’m making dinner and have dirty hands…or even if I’m just sitting several feet away. Admittedly, it may be a little lazy, but it’s SO convenient (and neat)! I primarily use it for music/podcast listening, but it’s also handy if I have a cooking question (“Alexa – how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?”), and we have it set up to control our home’s thermostat (which I admittedly haven’t found use for yet – I still walk over to the thermostat and change it manually. But it’s still neat!) The sound quality is top-notch as well.

Frozen Christmas Cookies: I gift cookies to my family and friends every Christmas, and unfortunately (ha) had the foresight to freeze my extra cookies this year – I usually throw them away several days after returning from my family’s house after Christmas. But they retain their texture surprisingly well being frozen, and there’s nothing more delicious than dunking a frozen chewy ginger cookie into a hot cup of coffee – it softens just to the point of chewiness, instead of falling apart like a room temperature cookie would. It makes for a delicious (and too frequent) afternoon snack.

Living Proof: I had heard several good reviews of this line (primarily via Podcast advertisements) and finally gave in and bought the travel kit of their “no frizz” line to take on our honeymoon. I’m rarely very impressed with any specific hair product – best case scenario, I find them all pretty similar, worst case scenario I find them TERRIBLE. Living proof has been a game-changer for me. I have a lot of hair, but it’s fine and has a crappy natural wave – it’s curly underneath and flat on top, making it impossible for me to wear it naturally without looking like a lazy slob. While I still feel the need to blow dry and straighten my hair (I probably always will), this line almost completely tames my tons of flyaways and broken hairs, makes my ends look smoother and healthier, and seems to keep my hair looking good longer, while being light and allowing my hair to feel smooth and bouncy. It also smells great (it has that “fresh from the salon” smell to it). I recently bought the full-sized bottle of the “No Frizz” finishing serum, along with a style extender cream and hair oil, and I think they’re keepers.

Tocca Eau de Parfum in ‘Stella’: I purchased this on a whim during an Anthropologie tag sale, and I think it just may become my new signature scent. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I like more masculine, musky scents (I guess I’m trying to be more mysterious/sexy? haha), but I’ve reached the conclusion that I almost always prefer more classic feminine floral scents. This has the perfect mix of light floral notes with just a little bit of citrus.

Diorskin Forever foundation: For the past 5+ years, I’ve been trying to settle on my ideal foundation, and have waffled between a ton of different brands, from drugstore to more high-end brands. This foundation is a bit of a splurge at $50, but just a little dab provides plenty of coverage and I haven’t found anything that works as well. I’ve struggled with my skin on and off my entire adult life, and although I’d love nothing more (seriously) than to be one of those women who’s comfortable going fresh-faced or just wearing a dab of mascara every day, I just feel more comfortable wearing foundation. This stuff is super light but provides good, buildable coverage, it looks ridiculously smooth and natural, and I’ve found that my skin condition actually improves when I wear it (lots of other foundations suffocate my skin and make me break out).

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Digging

Here’s what I’m digging this week…

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$3 apothecary jar from Target!

Money Diaries: I’m obsessed with this feature from Refinery 29. They interview a huge variety of women (usually in their 20s or early 30s) living in different parts of the country (some are actually living abroad), with varying salaries, and have them list out everything they spend money on during a one-week period, diary style (they also have special editions where they document longer timespans). I think it’s fascinating to read how other women around my age spend their money – it also makes me feel a little better about the amount of money I spend on a weekly basis (sometimes I feel like I’m throwing fistfuls of cash out the window, when everyone else is stacking piles in savings). Plus, I’ve always been a major voyeur/snoop, so I love reading pretty much every detail of someone else’s day. What can I say, I love the mundane!

Halloween Candy – Especially the Reese’s Cups that have Reese’s Pieces in the center?!! I had never tried them before, and now my world has been changed. Ugh. Oh, I also bought the bulk of our candy to hand out from the dollar store this year like a goddamned genius – I rarely think to wander into the dollar store (I know, I know – it’s like a religion to some people), but this year for whatever reason I did and saved a TON of money. We hand out a combination of full-sized bars and snack sizes (for when the big boys run out), and I scored a huge variety by buying the full sized bars individually instead of in a variety pack this year (I usually buy a variety pack from Target that has Snickers, Reese’s, Twix, and Hershey bars) Last year has been the only year we’ve had a decent amount of trick or treaters (I blame the fact that we live across the street from a school’s soccer field, meaning there are no houses on the opposite side of my street – plus our house is set back from the road)…but last year, we ran out of candy, so it looks like word may have gotten out that we hand out the good stuff. My dreams of being the witch from Hansel and Gretel are coming true!!

Target’s The Dollar Spot – I’m not sure if they still call it that, but I’m talking about that little section by the entrance with a bunch of inexpensive odds and ends (I think everything used to literally be a dollar, but it’s not anymore). They’ve really stepped this section up recently. In the past few weeks, I’ve purchased a beautiful tan plaid blanket scarf (I don’t remember exactly how much I paid, but it was $5 at most), several brown apothecary bottles that I’ve been using as vases for $3 each, 3 mason jars with copper closures for (I think) $3 each (I use them to hold ground coffee and Jeff’s Stevia packets), and some chalkboard labels for like $1. This section used to be full of, basically, crap (little junky toys and candy, mostly), but now there’s tons of seasonal decor and crafty stuff…I never pass it by these days.

Jessica Seinfeld – Yep, Jerry Seinfeld’s wife. “Eh?” you say? Well…She. Is. Wonderful. She’s super cute and witty and self-deprecating, she seems like pretty much the nicest person on earth, you’d never know she has about 17 billion dollars (I do know that Jerry Seinfeld has always been described as one of the most down-to-Earth celebrities out there), she does tons and tons of charity work, and she just re-launched her website , which is full of delicious, beautiful, healthy, easy recipes. I’m so smitten that it’s causing me to write in insane run-on sentences.

Plantain chips – Yum.

This Is Us – This show was a bit of a slow start for me – I LIKED it at first, but it was just a tad bit too sappy for my taste. That said, I NEEDED something to fill the void in my TV viewing life left by Parenthood a couple years ago, so I kept watching, knowing that most shows start off a little slow and get better as characters and storylines develop. Well, boy was I right. This show is effing wonderful. Jeff’s even into it, and he is definitely not big into sap (although he weirdly tends to enjoy shows and movies made for teenage girls?) I’m also very into Divorce with SJP, which I thought was going to be a drama but is actually hysterical.