Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mid-Year Reflections (and a little teacher humor)

We're officially halfway through the school year!  (Well, I am at least!)  

As I reflect on the first half of the year I just have to smile at what an adventure it's been so far this year...  

I currently have 14 boys and 5 girls in my class and I can honestly say that there is hardly ever a dull moment with this bunch.  My 5 girls are sweet, well-behaved, and pretty tough.  My boys, on the other hand, are another story!  My boys are very emotional...  We're talking criers.  Yes, tears.  Everyday.  They've got great personalities and really want to do a good job and what's right, but they're the most emotional and immature group of boys I've ever taught.  It's a good day if only 2 or 3 cry.  (I'm not even kidding!  My class has been hailed by other staff has having all of the "drama kings."  Truth.)  It can definitely be draining at times, but they really are an incredibly sweet bunch of kids and they've definitely won my heart!  There's definitely a lot of tough love happening in my classroom in a daily basis, but I think my kids realize that despite how tough third grade is, I'm there for them and I do truly care.  My last two classes of kids have been pretty easy-going and well-behaved, so I think God thought I needed a little more spice in my teaching life this year!

Funny Workplace Ecard: Well since you are raising your hand, kneeling on your chair, AND yelling my name, Ill just rush over and help you first! said no teacher ever... Me at nick's party passing out cupcakes. Quiet kids first always :)
via Pinterest
As I reflect on myself as a teacher so far this year, I'd say that I've stayed afloat, but I haven't done much to go above and beyond this school year.  I think a lot of that goes back to the group of kids that I have and some of the challenges they bring.  Some things aren't as easy for this group to jump into and independence isn't quite their thing yet, so it's a lot of baby steps (or scaffolding, if we want to use fancy words).  As we move into the second semester I want to push myself a bit further to push my students in their work.  I'm not saying I've been super easy on them and haven't challenged them, but I do feel like I've given up on doing certain things because I think it will take a lot of time and effort with this bunch.  Yes, there will probably be more tears, but we'll just get through it as best we can!

Funny Teacher Week Ecard: Let's play school! I'll pretend to be a teacher analyzing disaggregated student data, and you can pretend to be a student taking a standardized test!
via Pinterest
I've definitely dropped the ball on blogging since the school year started...  I feel like my blog is kind of going through an identity crisis in some ways and I'm working on finding the right balance between blogging about teaching and everything else in life.  At the end of an exhausting day of work, I'm not finding myself to be in much of a mood to blog about school stuff.  I want this to be a blog that's a resource for teachers, though, and I feel like I've been neglecting that a lot over the past few months.  I'm planning to set a more regular blogging schedule soon, which will hopefully help me get a bit more direction on here.  

Top 10 Teacher “Some eCards” | TeachHUB
via Pinterest

Anyway, thanks for reading / following and putting up with my ramblings.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fashion Friday: Minty Fresh

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm one of those people that totally goes through phases with colors.  I get really into certain colors and obsess about finding items in that color or outfit ideas for what I already have.  

My most recent color obsession is mint.  It's not really a color that's been represented much in my closet.  (I do have a very vivid memory of preschool and during circle time we had to say what color our shirt was...  I said that mine was "mint."  I recall my teacher making some comment about my color vocabulary.)  

I purchased a mint cardigan from J.Crew during their 30% off and free shipping sale.  It ended up being about 66% off the original price, which is pretty much the only way I can afford / justify J.Crew.  The fit is really nice, but it is a bit thinner than I was anticipating.  It's fine, though, because I think mint is going to be a popular winter-to-spring color, so it will be more wearable into the warmer months.  (Gap came out with a new mint cardi last week that I think is in their Eversoft sweater material.  It's thicker than the J.Crew one, but other than that pretty comparable as far as style and color.)

While I was out to dinner with my mom the other night I realized that I just sold a mint cardigan the exact same shade in my garage sale this past summer.  My mom pointed out that I'd had that one since about 1999-ish (and most likely not worn since 2003-ish), so it was probably okay for me to upgrade!

In my never-ending Pinterest searches I've been looking "minty" looks to inspire some winter-to-spring outfits.  Here are a few of my faves...

Neon & mint
Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest
mint and polka dots

Image via Polyvore
(None of these images are mine, so if you want to pin them, please click on the image rather than pin it from my site.  I want to be sure the original sources get credit!)

1 - That dress is a little darker than what I typically think of as mint, but I love how it's paired with the brights!  I'm still majorly into neon, so this combo is a total winner in my book!  (I've been fighting major urges to get a purse like that.)

2 - Another example of how mint plays well with bright colors.  I personally don't think I could pull off the mint jeans look, but this is definitely worth taking some inspiration from!

3 - This is pretty similar to how I styled my mint cardigan the other night for church and shopping with my mom...  I think there's something so cute about mint and polka dots together!

What colors are you loving right now?  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Budgeting Bloggers ~ December

I feel like budgets and December don't mix well.  I've kind of thrown out the whole budget thing over the past few months, but I still wanted to link up with Franziska for her monthly Budgeting Bloggers post.  I've been working part-time on top of teaching the past month and a half, which has allowed me more fun money than normal.  I don't feel all that guilty about doing extra spending since I've spent a lot of extra hours working (and I got a small raise teaching this month as well)!

Here's what I bought this month!

I bought this cardi in gray and fell in love with it.  This is pretty pricey for me (full price is $89.50!), but it's a seriously great sweater.  I loved it so much that when they were running a 40% off promo I decided to get the oatmeal color since I also had a $10 reward to use.  I've worn both quite a bit as they're perfect for layering and pair perfectly with many of my tees. 

I'm pretty sure you all know how much a love a good v-neck cardigan, so when I was browsing the J.Crew 30% off AND free shipping sale I snagged this one.  I've been trying to expand some of my color options and thought the mint would be a nice addition since I have nothing in this color.  I think it'll transition nicely from winter to spring!

Okay, slight impulse buy, but how cute are those sheep?!?  I haven't been all that excited about the animal sweater trend, but when I spotted this one I thought it was sooooo cute!  I passed on it at full price, but when I went back and found it at 50% off I knew it had to be mine!

This is just a cute, casual tee that's another good winter-to-spring transition item.  Gap is carrying a lot in this neon coral color, but this tee was all I could justify.  I love this color paired with gray to tone it down a little.

Express Pave Embellished Neon Studs - $11

I bought these in neon pink (which is no longer online) and love them so much!  They're great to go with a lot of my bright tops and also just to add a little pop of color to some of my more neutral outfits!

Target Stud Earring Set - $0 (after sale and coupon)

I couldn't find these online, but Target has some really nice sets of studs that run $7.99 for 6 or so pairs.  I did some extreme couponing at Target one night when I was buying groceries and gifts and managed to pretty much get a set of 6 pairs of earrings for free.  Yup, I'm okay with that.

Tarte Bambeautiful Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Quad - $20

I've been trying to limit my makeup purchases lately (especially since I bought my Naked 2 palette), but I'd had my eye on this quad for a while.  Ulta doesn't offer many coupons for their high-end brands, so when they were offering 20% off everything (and I was buying some gifts from there anyway), I decided to go on and get this quad in "Sew the Seeds."

= $190

It's a little much for a regular month, but since I've been working part-time on top of teaching, I don't really feel too guilty since I've made a lot more money than I've spent!  :)


January's Budget Plan:

I was originally planning on cutting off most spending in January, but since I didn't make it out of town, I actually still have some shopping money set aside for that.  I'm pretty much cutting out unnecessary makeup and nail polish purchases for a few months while I work with what I already have.  (Might I point out I didn't buy any nail polish this month?  I got 7 new bottles, though, as gifts! Ha ha!)  It's very tempting seeing all of the cute new early spring items popping up in stores, but I will continue to stick with my rule of "I don't pay full price."  :)

Amazingly, I haven't made any after Christmas purchases.  I checked out quite a few sales yesterday, but really wasn't all that tempted.  I've had to really work on not buying things just because they're ridiculously cheap on clearance, but I'm getting better at it!

How'd your budget fare this month?  
Were you tempted by all of the holiday sales?  
Did you give in to the after Christmas sale mania?  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Second Quarter Fitness Update!

As I told you back in this post, our staff has been tracking our workout mileage this year.  It's been a very fun and motivating way to keep going to the gym.  My class definitely keeps me accountable!

I won for the most miles for the first nine weeks, but alas, I lost for the second nine weeks.  I blame this partially on the fact that I was sick with allergies a lot more and that I've been working part-time on top of teaching.  Despite that, though, I beat my previous 78 miles with a whopping 95 miles this quarter!  

Get this, the top three teachers were all within 5 miles of one another.  The top teacher (one of the other third grade teachers) had 100 miles, second place had 98 miles, and I had 95.  How's that for a tight race?!?

I've kind of slacked on my workouts over the past month or so and hope to get back on that bandwagon over Christmas break.  I'd like to reclaim my first place title for the third quarter.  My goal for this time was 100+ miles, which I was a bit short of.  (I totally blame the two weeks I spend sick...  One of those weeks I did no miles at all.)  I'm setting my new goal once again at 100 miles, but hope to exceed that.  When I'm on my A-game with my workouts, I do somewhere around 15 to 20 miles per week.  

Does anyone else have a fitness program like this going on at their school?  Our kids have been doing this for years, but we just now started tracking teacher mileage this year.  

How's your diet and exercise routine been during the past few months?  Have you kept it up or are waiting for the new year to get back into good habits?


On one last note...  I'm in a pretty big need for new workout shoes.  It's been over a year and a half since I've bought new ones.  Athletic shoes are pretty much the only kind of shoes I'm willing to drop big(ish) bucks on.  What do you think of these from Finish Line?  I like my current Nike Free pair and think these colors are really cool!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gifts for the Teacher

In this season of giving I get quite a few of my non-teacher friends and family asking me what types of gifts teachers like to receive from students.  I know that some schools discourage giving gifts, but even with that, I  know many parents want to give gifts if possible.  In my 6 years of teaching, I've been blessed to receive some really thoughtful and generous gifts from my students and their families.  

Here are a few ideas:

Gift Ideas For Teachers

My Tips:

  • Gift cards are almost always a winner.  If you don't know them very well, choose one that could be used several places.  Target is almost always a safe bet for anyone (unless you happen to live in the middle of nowhere and don't have one nearby.)
  • Give a practical gift of something they enjoy.  Sometimes the best gifts are my everyday favorites like a 12 pack of Diet Mountain Dew or some Special K Bars.
  • Find out "their thing."  My thing is K-State and it's pretty apparent when you walk into my classroom. It's a pretty safe bet that I'll love anything K-State...  Jewelry, blankets, decorations, etc.
  • A useful gift set is another safe bet.  I actually received one of these Starbucks sets from a student.  I'm no Starbucks addict, but I do love me some hot cocoa and a cute travel mug!  It's something that is generic enough that most people can probably use it.
  • Bath & Body Works products...  They have a great exchange policy!  If you didn't already know, B&BW will let you exchange products if you don't like the scent.  This always makes me feel better when I give something to someone.  Last year my old roommate was able to swap out several gifts from her students for items in scents she enjoyed.
  • Classroom supplies are always needed.  I don't know many teachers that couldn't use more classroom supplies like Post-Its, Sharpies, or colorful grading pens!  
  • Note cards and stationary with a personal touch.  I love cute notepads and cards.  You can get plenty of cute patterns at specialty stores or even places like Target or Michaels.  If you want to step it up a notch, have it personalized through a website like Vista Print or Shutterfly!
I hope that helps you with any last minute shopping you may still have, or keep these ideas in mind for teacher appreciation or end-of-the-year gifts!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Helping Children Deal With Tragic Events

I got word of the shooting in Newtown, CT in the midst of a very busy Friday...  My principal turned 40 this weekend, so we had a few secret surprised planned for the day in addition to our annual Christmas cookie sale and our Christmas parties.  Other than about an hour of math and an hour of reading, Friday was pretty much just a day of celebration for us.  When I finally had a few minutes to begin reading the headlines on my laptop my students were sitting in the classroom watching "The Muppet Christmas Carol" (possibly in a sugar coma from all of the treats and pizza they had consumed).  They had no idea what had happened that morning at an elementary school that was so similar to their own.  They'd been enjoying a carefree day of treats, movies, and crafts and were sitting there safe and sound awaiting the last weekend before Christmas break.

I have a feeling that this news is going to come up at some point in our school day today.  With a weekend behind us, I'm almost positive that the majority of my students will have been exposed to news reports and headlines about this tragedy.  I think what hits home the most with this incident is that it happened in an elementary school very similar to my own.  I teach in a school of about 400 students in a fairly small suburban community and one of the teachers who died, Victoria Soto, was the same age as me.

I wanted to share a great resource I found reposted a few places.  

It's an article from The Fred Rogers Company and is an article / excerpt from a book by Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers).  I believe this was written shortly after 9-11 and it is wonderful advice for helping children cope with any sort of tragedy.  

I hope that this helps you, whether teacher or parent, if you have to talk to children about this shooting.  I pray that as teachers the Lord will give us the compassion, wisdom, and words to provide our own students with an understanding that we will do everything in our power to keep them safe and protected in school.

Tragic Events in the News:  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Prayer & Silence


I pray that the Lord will wrap His arms and comfort those who have experienced trauma and loss.  I also pray that He will also provide strength and wisdom to those of us who will most likely have to deal with our own students who have been exposed to this news over the weekend.  I pray that He'll give us the words and love to let our students know that we will do whatever is in our power to keep them safe and that they are loved.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Currently ~ December!!!

It's really kind of hard to believe that it's already December.  I feel like in some ways this year has dragged on, but in other ways it's really flown by.  I think maybe it doesn't feel like December because it literally  doesn't feel like December...  We haven't had hardly any cold weather and I have yet to have to bust out my big puffy winter coat!  I do love sweater weather that doesn't require a coat, but when people are able to go out in shorts and flip flops it's just plain weird.

Anyway, before I ramble on too much about the weather (*yawn*) I should get to the point of this post...

It's CURRENTLY time!

I'm linking up with Farley of Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for this month's post.  I think I skipped last month, so I was excited to see this one pop up on my Google Reader.

Now, it's your turn to join in and share!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Nail Polish Swap (Part 2)

After having fun with my last nail polish swap I decided I had to participate in another one!  This one is once again hosted by the lovely ladies over at Lala Lists and Lip Gloss and Crayons.  I was paired up with the lovely and fabulous Lynn of LA Lynn's Accessory Shoppe.  (Go to her blog here!)  She's got a great blog and her manicure posts are pretty much amazing!  

I have to say that I was a bit spoiled by my swap partner because she sent me 5 bottles of nail polish!  It was actually funny because when I got the package in the mail I wondered how in the world 2 bottles could weigh that much...  Then I opened the package and found out why!  I was definitely a bit spoiled by that extra bonus!

As with the previous swap, we filled out our info and what kind of polish we wanted.  I really didn't have a preference since I like pretty much any type of nail polish.  So, I asked to just be surprised! :)

Here are two of my polishes...  A beautiful light purple and a shiny silver!  

Two of the polishes were glittery!  One is a lighter purple that I think will be perfect for layering with the purple shade above.  The other one is little hearts!  I don't have anything like that, so I'm super excited to have some sparkly hearts on my nails!

The final polish is a super pretty pearly pink.  It's so girly and a perfect color for any time of year!

Here's the whole line up!  Like I said, I feel kinda spoiled that she sent me 5 polishes!  What a sweetheart!  

I had just painted my nails the night before I got these so I haven't tried them yet, but I'm very excited to bust them out.  Any suggestions on which ones I should use first?  ; )

Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When I Was In... THIRD GRADE!

I stumbled upon this linky party that's going on over at Second Grade Sparkle...  It's all about reminiscing and sharing about how things were back when we were in the grade we teach now.  How fun is that?!?

Most of my photos and scrapbooks are either in storage or at my mom's house, so I don't really have many photos to share.  

This picture wasn't marked, but I'm guess this was either third grade or fall of fourth grade.  It's pre-braces and I got those sometime in fourth grade, so that's my best guess.  My hair has always been a mess and (obviously) whoever fixed it the day of this picture was not on their A game.  And check out that shoelace barrette!  Oh yeah!  (For reference, I was in third grade during the 1993 - 1994 school year.)

This pic is from Thanksgiving 1993, so fall of my third grade year.  I stole this from my aunt's Facebook page.  

I feel like it was around third and fourth grade I went through my most awkward looking years.  My teeth were horrible and then I got braces, my hair was a mess, and I didn't have that little kid cuteness about me anymore.  

On the positive side, my mom's good friend used to buy me a lot of cute clothes at Dillards and Gap Kids, so I had a pretty great wardrobe.  (Not that either of these pics show that!)  I'm pretty sure that was the beginning of my addiction to shopping at Gap!


I've obviously learned how to fix my hair (on most days) and the braces did me a lot of good!  

Now it's your turn!  Here are the rules:

  1. Post a picture (or two) of you from when you were in the grade you teach (or around there).  
  2. Post a picture of you now! 
  3. Be nice and visit others to comment.

I'll leave you now with a song that totally reminds me of third grade.  I went to a birthday party where the birthday girl got this single (on tape) and we listened to it over and over again all afternoon!

Ace of Base - "The Sign"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Memo Board Makeover

This is one of those posts I never really got around to writing.  I took the pictures and then kinda forgot about doing the post.  As I was going through my camera recently I found these and decided to go on and show you how did a little makeover a clearance memo board!

This is how the board started out.  I actually really like this vintage-y postcard print, but it wasn't quite what I wanted for my kitchen.  It was on clearance at Hobby Lobby for a little over $10.  I really liked the size and the frame, so I decided to go on and make it work for what I was wanting.

A few months earlier I had picked up a set of yellow napkins on clearance at Target.  I have a similar print in placemats and even a pillow in red, so I grabbed the napkins thinking I could use them somehow.  (I'm not really a cloth napkin kinda person.)

I started out by removing the back of the board.  (This was one thing I paid attention to when looking for boards at Hobby Lobby.)  I wanted to keep the original fabric and just cover it with the yellow in case I change my mind later.  

Since the black print showed through the yellow and white pattern, I found some plastic packaging (I think I snagged it from my TV box in the storage room) and added that as a layer between the two fabrics.  I simply used a regular stapler to staple them at the very edge of the original board.  I had to stay pretty close to the edge because the lip of the frame didn't have much overhang.  I was also a bit of a challenge to get it stretched out and even, but after a few attempts, I got it to look pretty good!  

And here's the final product...  It's not 100% perfect, but it really did end up being what I wanted.  I'd looked at a few other memo boards on Esty and other sites and they were all $20+.  In all, I spent about $14 and still have 3 napkins to use for other products if I wish.  

Finally, here's the board on my kitchen wall!  One of these days I'll make / decorate some cute pins, but it's just perfect for this space!  I don't really like a lot of clutter on the fridge, so this board is a great alternative for posting a few little notes.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November Birchbox

This month's Birchbox was a bit delayed due to all of the storms in NY and the east coast.  I've had my box for over a week now, but am just now getting around to sharing my box.

The "theme" (or whatever) for the month was giving.  I'd say overall this was a pretty decent box and I definitely got my $10's worth this month!

It seemed like there were a lot of paper handouts in this box.  It had the normal card telling about what's in the box and also a cute little box holding the smaller items.  (The purpose of the box is to gift something to someone else.)  In addition to those, it also contained a Holiday 2012 Gift Guide and flier / coupon for $15 off from a shoe website called  (I lost interest when I read " just $88 per pair..." since most of my shoes come from Target and are under $30!)

My box contained 5 items this month:

Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper - I haven't tried this one out yet, but I am glad that Birchbox once again sent me an item specifically for curly hair.  It makes me feel like they really do pay attention to the preferences I've set on my account!

Jouer Fragrance Cornucopia - This stuff smells really good!  It's a tiny rollerball, but it's more of an oil / gel consistency.  It's described as "a heady trio of gardenia, jasmine, and honeysuckle."  

ModelCo Fibre Lashxtend Lengthening Mascara - Another full-size product!  I believe this one goes for $22 on the Birchbox site.  I'm trying to use up some other mascaras right now, so I haven't used this one yet, but I'm excited to give it a whirl!  

Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer - This is a nice size sample luminizer.  I've received 3 Stila products from Birchbox and have really liked them all.  It was a brand I didn't pay much attention to before, but I've been really pleased with their products.

Chuao Chocolatier Honeycomb Chocopod - This was the "lifestyle extra" of the month.  Quite yummy!  (I ate it as soon as I snapped pics!)  I'm not sure I'd spend the money on these, but it was a fun little extra!  

I do feel like this was a pretty good box, especially considering it included a full-size mascara and the Stila luminizer sample was pretty generous as well.  

Birchbox also sent me a 20% off discount code for being a 9 month subscriber.  I decided now was the time to redeem my points and use the discount to get myself a bottle of Viva La Juicy La Fluer.  After the 20% off and the 500 points I redeemed I paid a grand total of $6!  Yup, $6 for a $70 bottle of perfume!  I'd say that's pretty good.  I was also very pleased with how quickly my order was fulfilled and shipped to me.  I think it arrived in 3 or 4 days.  (I consider that pretty good when you consider it's NY to KS.)  

I think overall the benefits of Birchbox overshadow some of the less than stellar months, but there really haven't been too many boxes I've been disappointed with.  

Here's my referral link if you're interested in signing up for Birchbox:  


What was in your November Birchbox?  Were you happy with this month's goodies?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sunday Social: 4's

I feel like I've kind of dropped the ball on blogging lately and have totally neglected it.  I was asked if I could come back to work at Aerie during the holiday season, so I've been spending the majority of my free time working there.  Blogging has kind of taken a backseat over the past few months anyway and then adding a part-time job on top of that has just been a time suck.

Anyway, this week's Sunday Social theme is 4's.  I thought this was a fun theme, so I thought I'd share my answers with you!

Name 4 jobs you've had in your life.

My first job was babysitting.  I never had a "real" job until college because I stayed plenty busy with babysitting.  During my first 3 years of college I did kind of a work study / research program where I worked on a project with a faculty mentor.  I got paid for it, but I didn't really have regular work hours, so it didn't feel much like a normal job.  During my junior year of college I took another job working at the K-State Student Union doing reservations for building events.  It was kind of a cool job, but I'm not sure an office atmosphere is my thing.  Finally, I'm in my sixth year of teaching third grade.  I also worked at a preschool and daycare during my senior year of college, but it's all teaching, so let's just lump those together.

Name 4 movies you could watch over and over.

My all-time favorite movie is "Back to the Future."  Technically, that's three movies, but for purposes of keeping this interesting I'll count the trilogy as 1.  Another all-time favorite is "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."  It's another one that I love and really never get tired of.  Next comes "Anchorman" because it's hilarious and probably one of Will Ferrell's best movies.  I think to round out my 4 I'll say "Forrest Gump."  It's such an incredibly good movie and Tom Hanks is one of my all-time favorite actors.

Name 4 places you have lived.

This one isn't very interesting because I've only lived in Kansas.  Even since I've graduated from college I've always lived within about a 3 mile radius of my mom's house!

Name 4 of your favorite foods.

Sushi...  Delightful!

Mexican...  Carlos O'Kelly's, On the Border, Taco Bell, Abuelo's...  If it's Mexican, I'll probably eat it!

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese...  About a month ago I was living on this stuff.  I get the "fancy" kind with the cheese sauce so I don't have to worry about having milk or butter on hand.

Green Beans...  I know, so random.  I always have canned green beans on hand as a quick meal and a veggie fix.  

Name 4 things you always carry with you.

I'm going to go off of things that are almost always in my purse for this one. The first would be my phone, but I think that's pretty much a given for most people.  I have an Android phone, but an iPod touch that also goes with me pretty much everywhere.  (I like some Droid apps better and some Apple apps better, so I still like to carry both with me.)  The next thing would be some sort of lip product.  Lately it's been my NYX lip gloss from Ulta.  The final thing I always have with me is a hair tie.  This curliness can end up turning into a hot mess pretty quickly, so I always have a hair tie or two on hand to tame things.

Name 4 places you have been on vacation.

I feel like travel is one thing my life has lacked.  I've never been west of Colorado!  Anyway, here are my top 4 places I've been...

New York (The city and surrounding areas.)

Chicago  (Probably the only major US city I'd like to live in.  I love it up there, but it's been years since I've been there.)

Colorado (I love that whole state...  Kansas is blessed to have a beautiful next door neighbor!)

Orlando (It wasn't really a vacation and I actually didn't see any of the cool stuff there, but the area was absolutely gorgeous!  My very short 2 days there made me want to go back for a real vacation there someday!)

Budgeting Bloggers: *hangs head in shame*

It's time for Budgeting Bloggers!

It's really hard to break down this month's budget because I received my bonus check from work and was called to work part-time at Aerie again this Christmas season, which accounts for a pretty good chunk of extra money for me.  I allotted some of that for some personal splurges as well as Christmas gifts for family and friends.  I've kind of let myself go a bit spend-crazy lately and then will reel things in and tighten up the budget after the holidays.  I think come January I'm going to get back to doing monthly shopping bans on certain items.

Shockingly enough, most of this damage was done before Black Friday.  My damage during the Thanksgiving weekend has actually been quite minimal.

Okay, here goes...  I tried to sort out my purchases, so these are the things that would have come out of my regular monthly budget.  

I saw this sweater in a magazine and anxiously awaited its arrival at Gap.  I believe I used my 50% off one item coupon for this one.  

I bought this at the same time as the striped sweater.  It's kind of a crazy bright pink, but I'm loving those bright colors for the winter.  I think there's nothing better on a cold gloomy day than a bright cozy sweater!

This was one of my few Black Friday purchases.  I popped into Gap on my way home from working at the mall, but didn't see much there that I liked that I didn't already have.  (Sad fact.)  Yes, another bright top, but it's a good comfy tee for wearing alone or layering.

Gap Tartan Plaid Scarf - $8

This one isn't online anymore, but I snagged it on sale and when redeeming some rewards.  
It's very soft navy and dark green plaid with a stripe of hot pink in there as well!

This is a total J.Crew knockoff.  I actually tried the J.Crew version on last winter, but didn't like the fit or the $45 price.  This JCP version is a flattering fit and a great price!  I picked mine up in neon yellow, navy, and cream version.

Source: via Conolley on Pinterest

Yet another item that was love at first sight.  I saw it in a magazine a while back and then kinda forgot about it until I got an e-mail from Loft a few weeks ago.  I snatched it up the day it went online out of fear it would disappear.  (I've had that happen with a few Loft items and we don't have a store nearby.)  Thankfully, they were having a promo so I was able to get it at about half price!  This one is already making a splash in the blogger world!

I got this tee in one of the purple colors and really like the weight and the zipper detail in the back.  It's another nice basic that will be very versatile for work and play.

I got this in the blue version (no longer online it appears).  I've been really drawn to bracelets, but don't really  buy them very often.  I've only worn this one once, but got a lot of compliments on it.

Princess Vera Wang Two Tone Simulated Crystal Stud, Hoop and Drop Earring Set

These were on clearance and after my coupon my grand total for these earrings and an Essie nail polish was $0.00!  Not bad, huh?  I actually really like these and had wanted some tortoise earrings to go with a couple necklaces.  

Francesca's Neon Stud Earrings - $6

I picked these up on clearance to go with some of my bright tops.  They're neon yellow pyramid studs that are a fun pop of color!

Chunky Gold Chain Bracelet (via Groop Dealz) - $0 (only had to pay shipping)

Source: via Cecile on Pinterest

I was a totally sucked into this deal.  It's no longer on Groop Dealz, but there are quite a few on Etsy.  It's a very lightweight bracelet with chunky gold links.  Very cute and I'm pretty sure it's going to get a lot of wear.  

Hot Pink Bubble Necklace (via Groop Dealz) - $10

I'd wanted another bubble necklace and found some at Charlotte Russe, but this deal on Groop Dealz ended up being cheaper even when I added in shipping.  I went with the hot pink one.  I'm still waiting for this one to arrive, but I'm sure I'll love it!

If you haven't heard of Groop Dealz it's a website that is basically what would happen if Groupon and Etsy had a website baby.  They have daily deals that are more along the lines of things that you would find on Etsy, but discounted for a short period of time to spur "group" purchases.

= $160

This is pretty much within what I try to keep my normal budget around, but like I said, I didn't include a few extra purchases that come out of other pots of money.  I feel like for the money 6 shirts, 2 bracelets, 4 pairs of earrings, a scarf, and a necklace are a lot.  One of my biggest rules of shopping is to not pay full price and in all I paid about half of the full retail cost.  

I'm not sure what next month's budget is going to look like, but I don't think I'm going to really crack down until after the new year.  Sometimes you've just got to take advantage of great sales and treat yourself to some goodies!  I think the first things on my ban list for January will be shirts / sweaters, makeup (I've been pretty good with not buying that), and nail polish.  

Now it's time for you to go over to Franish and link up for this month's Budgeting Bloggers feature.  It's a great way to see how other bloggers spend their money and what bargains they've snagged this month!

Since everyone seems to be in a shopping mood...

It's been fun reading everyone's shopping posts over the past couple days.  I feel like I've been spending money and shopping like crazy over the past few weeks, but oddly enough, really haven't done much shopping this weekend.  (I've been working part-time, so that's helped a little bit.)

I've been buying a lot for myself, but I've also put a pretty big dent in my list of things to get family and friends.  I thought I'd share some of my favorite affordable gift ideas and some of the things that I like to give as gifts to my friends and family.



I'm personally a bit obsessed with scarves and I think they make a great gift.  It's a great clothing item that will fit any size person and add a great statement to any outfit.  Here are a few of my current faves.

Gift Cards 

I know, you're probably yawning at the thought of gift cards.  I think these are a great option for those people that you're just not sure about.  When I give gift cards I like to add in something a little extra.  Last year I purchased cute little coin purses to give my friends and I put the gift cards in there.  Another option is to give multiple gift cards to create things like a "date night" package or to different stores to create a complete outfit.  And if all else fails, give a Target gift card.  I don't think I know a single person that wouldn't be happy with a Target gift card.

Bath & Body Works Goodies

I say this one for several reasons.  First, I'm always a fan of Bath & Body Works items.  I will gladly accept candles, lotions, body sprays, and hand sanitizers at any time.  Second, this store has a great return / exchange policy that makes it really easy for your gift recipient to swap things out if they don't like the scent.  Last year my roommate got some scents from her students that she didn't like and she was able to go in and trade them out for ones that she liked.  Nobody wants their gift recipient to have to make a trip to return or exchange something, but in the event that happens you at least want it to be easy for them.

A Tasty Treat

I think these types of gifts are adorable! Not only are they yummy, but they'll also look cute sitting out on the counter.  You can purchase packs of jars in the kitchen department at Target, so these are a great option if you're looking to mass produce a gift.  You can also customize the look with cute gift tags, ribbon, fabric lids, etc. or tie a cute ornament to the jar for another added touch.

A Random Favorite

I think sometimes my favorite gifts are ones that show the person truly knows me.  Yes, a gift wrapped 12 pack of Diet Mountain Dew truly makes me happy.  I think this is a fun idea for coworkers or just as a little added extra.  Pop, gum, or snack foods can make great practical gifts and you can always get cute and creative with you wrapping.

A Little Something For Pampering

I think this idea is absolutely adorable.  Maybe it's because I'm addicted to nail polish right now and I know many of my friends would be more than happy to receive nail polish as a gift.  Ulta currently has a 5 for $5 table with all sorts of neat beauty gifts.  I picked up 5 items the other day to give as little pampering gifts.  


What are some of your favorite Christmas gift ideas?

Please share! :)