Puffer Picks

Last December, we were walking around Philly on a cold night during our annual overnight stay for my birthday, and I realized something…it’s time to invest in a good, insulated winter coat. I’d been making do with various pea coats, duffels, and other “dressier” wool coats, but they just weren’t cutting it – while wool coats can be very warm, they just don’t offer the protection an insulated coat would. I put it off until this year, but I finally dove in and made a purchase. Here are the top options I was considering:

The Cool Girl Pick

Uniqlo Seamless Down Long Coat – $149.90

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I came THIS CLOSE to buying this guy, and to be honest I’m not 100% sure why I decided against it…it’s stylish, gets great reviews, and the seamless design prevents cold air from seeping in. I did kind of want fur lining on the hood for no particular reason, so I guess that’s what edged this coat out.

The Sensible Pick

LL Bean Ultrawarm Coat, Long – $269

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I actually don’t remember coming across this coat while I was searching, which is really strange, because I searched LL Bean pretty exhaustively. This may have won out if I had seen it, although I didn’t really want to spend over $200…although I probably should have shelled out the extra cash for a warmer coat that’ll last me years (this is an ongoing struggle with me – I’m a crazy bargain hunter, to a fault.)

The Bargain Pick

Larry Levine Down & Feather Fill Jacket with Faux Fur Trim – $89 (on sale)

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This bargain-loving gal came very, very close to purchasing this coat – it’s super cute, right? What ended up stopping me was the lack of elastic in the wrists (I could see my arms freezing because of this) and the lack of reviews…plus, the price is so low it was almost suspect (to be fair, it was originally $198).

The Too Good To Be True Pick

Columbia Voodoo Puffer Coat – $180

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This seemed like a great price for an outdoor brand like Columbia, but upon reading reviews it sounds like it’s more of a fall coat and isn’t built for freezing weather (despite looking pretty darn warm). Next!

The Luxury Pick

Canada Goose Chelsea Fur-Trimmed Down Jacket – $755

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While this was never actually a consideration, this is most definitely the coat I’d choose if I had an unlimited budget – but alas, this is not currently the case. Maybe someday.

My Pick

Michael Kors Faux Fur Trim Down Puffer – $165 (on sale)8867784_fpx

And the winner is…this Michael Kors coat. Time will tell whether or not I regret buying a winter coat from a fashion brand, rather than an outdoor brand (my bet is YES, yes I will). Okay, you guys – so here is my (probably faulty) reasoning. First of all, it’s cute as hell. It’s nice and fitted so I won’t look like the Michelin Man, it’s just the right balance between matte and shiny, and I had told myself in the first place that I’d prefer gold hardware (which I didn’t end up actually caring about, but still). It got good reviews, the wrists are elasticized, there are plenty of pockets (I like that cute arm pocket, not that I’ll ever use it), and it’s the right length. AND…you guys, it was on crazy sale. Why am I like this? But seriously, it was marked down to $194.99 from what the website claims was originally $330 (although I’m skeptical of this, and I can’t seem to find this exact coat anywhere other than Macy’s…maybe it’s from last season? Which I’m fine with), PLUS I got an extra 25% off for signing up for text alerts so I only ended up paying a little over $150, PLUS I earned extra Macy’s cash that I can use towards my insanely expensive foundation, so that’s a win. But, I mean…it’s Michael Kors. What the hell does Michael Kors know about winter coats?

Welp…my decision has been made, and I’m anxiously awaiting its arrival (it is seriously FREAKING COLD here all of a sudden). Time will tell if I end up giving in and shelling out $250+ for a legit puffer from LL Bean or Patagonia or something next year…I’m hoping not, though! Wish me luck!

Stuff That Makes My Life Easier

Hey friends. Life is hard, yes? Therefore, I enjoy things that make said life easier. Let’s discuss, shall we?

  1. Wine Stoppers – I’ve been a hefty drinker of wine for many years, but for some reason I just started using a wine stopper like a month ago. Previously, I’d try to stuff the cork back in, which was a pain and didn’t work very well, and I’d often forget and then fruit flies would drink all of my precious wine. Well, no more! I can’t find the one I have since I bought it on clearance at Target, but here’s a cute monogram one, or a pretty set of agate ones.
  2. Garbage Can Bungee Thingies – Don’t you hate when your garbage bag slips inside of your garbage can and makes a huge mess? I do. These help.
  3. S’well Water Bottle – I know everyone has these already, but if you don’t, get one. They legit keep your water cold for unfathomable amounts of time. One time I left my water bottle in my car in 90 degree weather, and it was still cold when I came back 8 hours later. No joke.
  4. Duvet Clips – I don’t have these yet, but I’m getting some. My most recent duvet cover doesn’t have ties for reasons unbeknownst to me, and it’s basically a nightmare. These seem better than ties. Win.
  5. Apple TV – Honestly, I don’t remember life before Apple TV. Was it fine? Probably. Was it worse? Almost undoubtedly. If I’m being frank, we probably have too many streaming option type things (we have a smart TV, two TiVos – yes, actual TiVo, Apple TV, we still for some reason possess a DVR from our cable company which we pay for monthly and do not use, an Xbox 360 or whatever the most recent iteration is, plus we subscribe to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, I think all the premium channels and their streaming counterparts…it’s a lot, guys) um but anyway, it makes life easier.
  6. Hair Pins – Up until my wedding, I only used one type of hair pin (the flat kind), regardless of the type of hairstyle I was using them for. But then! The night of my wedding, I was taking out the 50 thousand hair pins holding my ‘do up, and I noticed that they were different – instead of being flat, they were open, and I realized that these are probably what you’re supposed to use for topknots and buns and such. Lo and behold, they work WAY better. You’re probably not stupid like me and already know this, but if not, you’re welcome.

Okay, this post was supposed to be helpful bordering on genius, but it got dumb really fast…my apologies, guys. Here’s a pic of my dog in a party hat to make up for it.

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Forgive me.

 

Start a Holiday Savings Account.

YOU GUYS. This is my weekly “I work for a bank” lecture (just kidding, it’s the first and hopefully last). OPEN A DANG SAVINGS ACCOUNT FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS (and other assorted gifts throughout the year).

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All this crap was purchased worry-free.

Look. I know not everyone has a ton (or any) extra money to save. I GET IT! I do. But hear me out: if you’re going to buy holiday gifts anyway, that money’s coming from somewhere. Right? Right. So why suffer during the most joyful time of the year when you could have some cash money stocked away with which to purchase all of your tidings? Even if it’s just $5 a month…okay, that’s only $60, but it’s a start! In all seriousness, cut out one coffee each week and you’ve practically quadrupled that monthly $5 right there.

Here’s my own personal example: up until…I don’t know 4? years ago, I didn’t really plan for the holidays, and I’d typically just charge Christmas gifts and spend the first half of the year paying off credit cards. It sucked. It was stressful, and every time I’d purchase a gift it hurt a little…and that blew, because I FREAKING LOVE GIVING GIFTS! I decided enough was enough, and I started saving $100/month towards Christmas gifts. Listen, I know $100/month may seem excessive….that comes out to 1200 whopping dollars come December (or it may seem underwhelming…I don’t know, I don’t have kids yet). And it may BE excessive for you, depending on how many people you buy for and what types of gifts you exchange (and probably is for me, considering I buy for a total of like 5 people). BUT! I also allocate some of these funds to buy holiday related decor, sometimes to supplement my insane yearly cookie baking, and for gifts throughout the year (ahem, baby showers? Wedding gifts? 1 year old birthday parties?!!!) It usually ends up working out just about perfectly for me, and if I have any left over I can just roll it over into my general savings (or save up for a KICK ASS gift for someone the next year). And now come Christmas each year, I’m legitimately STRESS-FREE (well…monetarily, anyway). It’s wonderful. I can enjoy all the eggnog and wassail and merriment and what have you til the cows come home. OH, AND I DO.

So…that’s it. Open a holiday savings account. Do it. DO IT NOW. Actually, you know what? I’m going to plug Capital One’s 360 Savings, because this is my blog and I can (this isn’t sponsored or anything, I just honestly think it’s a great account.) No fees, no minimums, decent interest (it’s at .75% APY at the moment)…click here and get some cash to start you off. Go. Do it (even if you open an account elsewhere – I won’t be mad). Jessi out.

Uniqlo Finds

During my “I-need-a-knee-length-down-filled-puffer-coat-but-I’m-cheap-and-want-to-spend-as-little-as-humanly-possible” search, I was suddenly hit by a stroke of genius (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration): UNIQLO! Uniqlo is one of those stores that I constantly forget exists, but as soon as I remember them, I immediately want to purchase everything they’re offering. They’re SO affordable, and their basics are on POINT. Unfortunately, the puffer coat I wanted is out of stock, but I did find a bunch of other stuff I’d love to snatch up:

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Ultra-Light Down Vest – $39.90 (on sale!)

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Melange Wool Coat – $39.90 (Love me a coatigan!)

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Cotton Cashmere Cable Crewneck Sweater – $19.90

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Extra Fine Merino Turtleneck Sweater – $29.90

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Heattech Stretch Ankle-Length Pants – $19.90

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High-Waist Chiffon Pleated Skirt – $29.90

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Heattech Scarf – $14.90

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Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater – $79.90 (Crazy price for cashmere!)

Outerwear Wishlist

I’ve arrived at the age where I’ve discovered you can’t really get through an East Coast winter with just one or two coats…you really do need a few different staples, depending on occasion. I have a couple of solid options: A lined wool toggle coat for when it’s cold but I need something a little dressier than a huge puffer coat; a quilted navy jacket for more transitional weather, a vegan leather jacket that’s more for style than any practical purpose, and a hooded mustard number for when I feel like sporting something a little brighter.

That said, my collection is missing a few essentials: a truly dressy coat to go over formalwear, a SUPER warm insulated coat to brave freezing, windy days, a raincoat to actually keep me dry in wet weather, and a trench for a more professional vibe on cool fall/spring days. Here are some options I’ve been eyeing up to round out my collection:

outerwear wishlist

  1. Religion Craft Coat (via Asos) $127 (on sale) – I dig the extra large collar, and I like that this coat can be dressed up or down.
  2. Patagonia Downtown Parka $189 (on MAJOR sale!) – This is just what I need for windy, icy days – nice and long, and insulated with goose down, this bad boy’s bound to keep me toasty.
  3. Stutterheim Stockholm Raincoat $295 – This is my dream raincoat…the price is a bit steep for a coat I probably wouldn’t wear that often, but boy is this guy pretty.
  4. PrettyLittleThing Belted Trench (Via Asos) $95 – Although I’m usually very into menswear-inspired clothing, I like that this soft pink trench is a little different than the typical camel number…still professional, but with a feminine twist.

 

Fresh Fall Fashion (cute, no?)

I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve snagged to spruce up my wardrobe for fall…

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  1. J. Crew Factory V-Neck Pullover – Oversized and comfy as can be, I’ll be lounging with a cup of hot tea or romping around in a pile of leaves in this (probably not that last one).
  2. Merona Kona Backless Loafer Mules – These are my new favorite fall shoes – perfect with jeans, and they don’t make my outfit look too casual…plus, who doesn’t love a good mule? #lazy
  3. J. Crew Factory Perfect Fit Plaid Classic Button-Down – To add to my ever-growing collection of plaid shirts…I plan to buy a white puffer vest to pair with this bad boy.
  4. J. Crew Factory V-Neck Cardigan – I’ve been needing a new boyfriend cardigan, and this olive color is perfect for this time of year. Crazy soft!
  5. J. Crew Factory Short-Sleeve Sweater – This is perfect for this transitional weather, and the yellow color is the perfect pop of sunshine.
  6. Lucille Laser-Cut Booties (Target) – I was in desperate need for new ankle boots, and I’m loving the perforated look.

My Trader Joe’s Snack Picks

It’s my weekend to work (I work from home when I work the weekend, so it’s no biggie), it’s a S-L-O-W day, the weather is gloomy, and I’m sipping a latte and enjoying a Trader Joe’s pumpkin vanilla candle. Speaking of TJ’s, I figured what better time to share some of my favorite products – that’s something that’s never been done by anyone on the Internet before, right? (Ha!) It’s actually become somewhat of a game between me and my co-workers – whenever we’re bored, we just start listing our most recent TJ’s picks. This list could go on for 10 pages, so today I’ll focus on the fun stuff: snacks/junkfood. Here goes:

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Popcorn in a pickle: My one true love. I could eat three bags of this stuff in one sitting.

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Cornbread Crisps: I was skeptical of these until a co-worker all but shoved one in my mouth (I’m not huge on cornbread), and HOLY MOLY are they good. So crispy and the perfect sweet/salty combo…they’re good alone, but PERFECT dipped in chili.

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Chunky Artichoke & Jalapeno Dip: SO good, especially with…

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Pita Bite Crackers: Addictive as all get out, and they go with literally anything.

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Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds: Everyone loves a good salted dark chocolate almond, but that turbinado sugar gives these that perfect addictive crunch.

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Unexpected Cheddar: So yummy and salty, with a little parmesan bite.

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Jalapeno and Honey Chevre: Creamy, with a surprising amount of kick.

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Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches: These things are my new obsession – you guys, they are FREAKING DELICIOUS. The brownie is perfectly chewy, the ice cream is rich and creamy with the perfect coffee kick, and they’re the perfect little size…to eat the whole box. These are dangerous little suckers.

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Triple Ginger Snaps: Heavenly dipped in coffee…or milk…or nothing. The crystallized ginger is key in these. Once you try these guys, you’ll never buy regular ginger snaps again.

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Almond Croissants: These require a little forethought as they need to rise overnight, but it’s WELL worth it. You’ll think you fell asleep and woke up in a quaint patisserie in Paris.

Of course, there’s plenty more that could go on this list…but these are more or less the items I’ve grabbed time and time again. I’ll do a more extensive “essentials” list another time!

 

All photos courtesy of  Trader Joe’s

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).

 

 

Don’t rain on my parade

We’re getting ready to head south tomorrow, and the forecast is looking pretty shaky – rain predicted for both Thursday and Friday, with cloudy days Saturday and Sunday. We won’t let a little rain ruin our good time, though – we’ll just have to get a little creative. Some ideas I’m kicking around:

Check out the SCAD Museum of Artscad-msm-art_540x242

Watch the rain fall from the covered deck of a riverboatriverboat

Shop the downtown design district949724b3732a9bc222a1f7db1a1c0680

Indulge our sweet tooth at Lulu’s Chocolate Bar328998ba9d870d4b224c841352b6f19d

Take a tour of Southbound Brewing CompanySouthbound Brewing Co. Savannah Brewery

Lounge over coffee & pastries at Le Cafe Gourmetls

And of course, some of our already-planned activities are perfect for a rainy day – a covered trolley tour is perfect for sub-par weather, and some drizzle will make our ghost tour all the more spooky! Bring it on, rain – we’re ready for you!

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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.