Saturday, October 27, 2012

October Budget!

It's time to link up with Franziska for Budgeting Bloggers!  

After spending a lot in September, I took it sort of easy (for me) this month.  I feel like this month's spending was a lot more thoughtful and calculated than a few of my previous monthly purchases.

Yes, a $9 new arrival sweater from Gap.  I purchased this online during a 35 or 40% off promo, plus used some rewards and a free shipping code.  I stacked three discounts and got this sweater for just over $9!  It's a little big and considered swapping it out for a smaller size in store, but this color was online only and I ended up liking the length of the longer one with the stripes better anyway.  It looks really cute with skinny jeans and I love the tan and bright pink combo!  I got a lot of compliments on it the first day I wore it!

Gap Eversoft Sweater (solid)- $30

Eversoft circle hem sweater

This one was probably my impulse buy of the month.  I wandered into Gap during another sweater sale and tried on a ton!  I loved my striped sweater so much I gave the solid ones a try and ended up really liking it.   The orange-y red color is a fun color for fall and winter.  I went with a size smaller than the striped, so that it's loose, but not quite as over-sized.  Gap hit a home run with these Eversoft sweaters this season.  They're definitely my favorite Gap sweaters from the past few years!

I referred to this shirt in my post about buyer's remorse.  (Read it here.)  Long story short, I bought a larger size because it was all they had and then returned it the next day.  I was at the mall again a week later and saw they had more in stock.  I'd been looking for a nice black and white striped shirt for layering and this one was the best I found.  I'd actually received a $15 off coupon on e-mail that same morning, so this shirt ended up being $4 less than what I'd paid the first time.  It was obviously meant to be the second time around!

Gap Leopard Scarf - $19

I've been obsessed with the leopard scarf and stripes mix after a few super cute Pinterest findings.  After searching quite a few stores and online, I happened upon one from  Of course because it was Gap and they seem to be running sales and promos non-stop I saved 30% and got free shopping.  I'm glad I grabbed it when I did because it's no longer available online and I never saw it in store.  (Too bad because now my mom wants one for Christmas!)

= $73

Not bad at all considering everything I purchased, but I bit more than I'd intended.  I had 3 birthdays and a wedding to buy gifts for this month, so I tried to take it a little easier when it came to purchases for myself.

(I left out my Ulta purchases this month because I did budget those from my bonus check that will be coming next month.  I knew from the start that I was going to buy my Naked 2 palette whenever they ran their sale on everything, no matter if I'd received my holiday bonus or not yet.)

I must say, Gap's been bringing their A game this season and I'm not sure that's been a good thing for my budget!  The keep coming out with great items, running awesome promos, and I keep falling victim to it!  I haven't been super impressed with many other stores this fall, though, so I guess that kind of evens things out.

My budget for the next few months will be a little different...  I get my bonus check in November and have allotted a portion of that for a few splurges for myself.  I already bought my Naked 2 palette and the other item I plan on buying is a Clarisonic Mia 2.  I've got my eye on a few new arrivals from Gap and have a coupon starting next week, so we'll see if I end up with any of those.  Other than that, I plan on saving my money for Christmas gifts and for a weekend of shopping in KC with friends and family.

Link up with us for Budgeting Bloggers HERE!!!

What were your purchases for October?
Did you stay within your budget?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fashion Friday: {P}inspired Looks

I haven't done a Fashion Friday post in a while, so I thought I'd whip one up for today.  I love fall weather and fall clothes.  I could live in cute sweaters if the weather allowed.

I thought I'd share some of my favorite Pinterest outfits for the cooler months.  My outfits board is nearing 1,000 pins!  I can definitely say that Pinterest and blogging has made me a bit more adventurous in my outfits.  I'd say my style is trendy-classic.  I like buying basics that will go from season to season and year to year, but I like to add in trendy touches with color and accessories.

So, here you have a few of my favorite {P}inspirations... If you want to pin these onto your own boards, please click the picture to go to Pinterest. None of the these were mine originally and I want the pins to be linked back to the original sources if possible!

Source: via Conolley on Pinterest

#1 - I have pretty much all of the makings of this identical outfit... The sweater, the purse, the black skinnies. I think black and pink is a color combo that works year-round and will always work with the trends.

#2 - This photo made me totally run out and look for a leopard scarf.  Guess what I'm wearing today?!?  Now, if only I could find that just right striped top.

#3 - A maxi dress is a great option for wearing a dress during cooler weather months.  I wear my denim jacket about once a week, so the dress / jacket combo is one I rock pretty often.

#4 - This pic was from a Gap ad back in the winter when they started carrying cute, colorful stuff again.  I'm beyond excited that Gap has been consistently coming out with cute clothes again this year.  (My bank account may disagree, though!  LOL)  I bought that pink blazer with my birthday coupon, but I haven't worn it again since it's cooled off, so this photo totally inspired me to bust that one out again.

#5 - I think my favorite thing about this pic is that it's pretty much color blocking at its very simplest.  Bright sweater + bright scarf = Cute outfit.  I have tons of sweaters and snagged some nice basic solid colored scarves like that last winter at the grocery store (of all places)!  I love how the two colors pop!

How does Pinterest inspire you?  Do you find yourself creating Pinterest-inspired looks?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I'm a Winner! (Diet & Exercise Update)

I posted about my school year diet and exercise tips a few months ago when school first started.  (If you missed it, check it out here.)  I feel a lot better when I'm not eating crap and I'm working out on a regular basis.  I'll admit, it's pretty hard after working a long day at school, but I feel so much better when I make fitness a priority.  I have a lot more energy for the school day and tend to sleep better at night.  

Our students walk two laps (1/2 mile) each day during their noon fitness (lunch recess) time.  The kids keep track of their mileage on a walking card and earn charms for every 10 miles they walk.  It's pretty awesome to see how motivated they are to increase their mileage and compete between grade levels and classes.  

The teachers did a mileage club as well and we tracked our own workout miles for the first 9 weeks.  I'm excited to announce...


Yup, I walked / worked out the most miles of any staff member for the first 9 weeks of school!  I really didn't increase my current workouts by a whole lot, but it was a fun way to keep me motivated.  My class kept me accountable and would encourage me to be sure to go workout after school!  

My total mileage for the first 9 weeks of school was 83 miles!  

I'm shooting for 100+ miles for the second 9 weeks, so we'll see how that goes.  It gets a little harder when it gets dark earlier and the cold weather hits, but I hope that I stay motivated toward this goal.  I try to fit in 5-7 miles on the treadmill or elliptical each workout (about an hour to an hour and a half) and I try to make it to the gym at least 3 or 4 days during the week.  I'm also trying to get back into going to Zumba on Monday evenings.  I've noticed my clothes are fitting a bit more loosely and I've dropped about 5 pounds.  I'm not necessarily trying to lose weight, but that is an added bonus!  

How are you doing staying fit this school year?  
Do you have any tips on staying in a good diet and workout routine as we near the winter months?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Red Ribbon Week!

Ready for the balloon launch!
It's Red Ribbon Week!  

This time each October, schools across the country celebrate making the decision to be drug free.  I always like Red Ribbon Week because it's kind of like spirit week, but with a focus behind it.  

Each day our school has a theme...  For example, today was "Team Up Against Drugs" and we wore team shirts (K-State for me, of course) and tomorrow is camouflage day.  (I can't remember what the catch phase is for that one.  I'm pretty much an anti-camo girl and didn't want to spend money on a camo shirt! LOL)  

We also pass out goodies to the kids each day of the week, whether it be a special pencil, sticker, or treat to remind them to stay drug free.  We also do a school-wide balloon launch where each child has a card attached to their balloon.  It requests that the person who finds the card send a letter to the school and we map where the balloons end up.  We've had balloons end up as far as Canada and the far NE US!  

Third graders showing off their message along the front fence!

Obviously at third grade this isn't a huge issue, but it's important to get the kids thinking about it now and teach them how to resist negative peer pressure.  I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about alcohol and tobacco since those are the things that they are most likely exposed to more than illegal drugs.  We talk about how it affects their growth, thinking, and overall health.  We also talk about prescription and over the counter drugs and how even though they are legal, they need to be taken according to the directions.  I think these types of drugs are some of the most dangerous because they're all around.  There's a fine line between warning kids and saying too much (you don't want to give them ideas), but it is a very important topic to cover.  United Streaming (Discovery Education) has some really good videos that are age-appropriate.  We use some of the videos to drive our discussions and fuel our writing projects for the week.

Does your school celebrate Red Ribbon Week?  
How do you teach your students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ulta Sale Haul!

I have a love affair with two stores:  Ulta and Sephora.  Both opened here about a year and a half ago and I honestly can't remember what life was like without them.  (Other than the fact that I'm pretty sure I spent a lot less money on makeup.)  They also both have really great rewards programs that I've been able to take advantage of.  

I knew that as we neared the holiday season both stores would be having some sales and specials that I would like to take advantage of.  I'd had a small running wish list of some things I wanted, but was waiting for the best time to make my purchases.  (I pretty much hate paying full price for anything!)  I'd tentatively budgeted some extra fun money for these things out of my bonus check that I get in November, but I knew that whenever the sales came I needed to just jump on it.  

Ulta had a bonus points deal a few weeks ago and it worked out well because I was already planning on buying some items there for my mom for her birthday.  I ended up with enough points to get $17.50 off a purchase, but even then, I decided to hold out for something more.  On Friday I got a coupon for their big 20% off everything sale!  It's rare that Ulta's nicer brands are part of their discounts, so I decided now was the best time to make my purchases! 

I ended up getting the Urban Decay Naked 2 eye shadow palette and the Benefit "Fast Track to Fabulous" kit.  After all of the discounts it pretty much ended up with the Benefit kit for free!  Not to shabby!

I'd been eyeing the Naked 2 for a while and had talked about it in my wish list posts.  There were several eye shadow palettes I'd been looking at thanks to all sorts of blogs and You Tube videos, but this was one that I kept hearing rave reviews about and that I thought would suit me the best.  

The Benefit kit was something I had looked at, but not one I was initially planning on getting.  It was $34 and included a full size POREfessional, full size Benetint, a mini They're Real! mascara, and a little perfume sample.  I'm nearing the end of my POREfessional and considering that a bottle of that runs $29 alone, I figured the kit was the way to go, especially with additional 20% off.  

Overall, I'm very happy with my purchases and am glad I used my points and coupon now while everything I wanted was in stock.  Both Ulta and Sephora have come out with great gift sets, many of which are huge bargains!  Sephora is rumored to have their Beauty Insider sale in November and I plan on snagging my Clarisonic during that sale.  (I've been told Sephora is the place to get it in case something goes wrong.  They have awesome customer service!)  Other than that, I'm pretty much calling it good for beauty spending for the next 2 or 3 months.  I have pretty much everything I could need (other than probably needing some lighter foundation), so I'll continue working on finishing off products in my collection.  

Have you hit any of the recent pre-holiday sales?  
Found any of your own beauty bargains lately?

October Birchbox (Goopbox!)

I received my October Birchbox the other day and wanted to do another review!  I've had a few people tell me they enjoy my Birchbox posts, so I guess that means I'll keep them coming!

This month Birchbox gave customers the option of getting a regular box or one from their team up with  The info card says that Goop "is our go-to resource for lifestyle inspiration."  

I don't feel like this box was really any more special than a regular box, but it still had a few nice goodies.

Essie nail polish in "Power Clutch" - I believe this is from Essie's fall collection.  It's not a color I would have purchased, but it is nice to get a full size Essie.  I'm going to give it a go and maybe color block it with some gold to spice it up a bit.  

Joanna Vargas Daily Serum - I'm still a bit hesitant about face products, but last month's Boscia was a winner.  I have yet to try this one, but will probably give it a go soon.

Kiehl's Aromatic Blends Liquid Body Cleanser - This is a foaming gel in Orange Flower & Lychee.  The smell is very fresh and the sample size is very generous.  I'm adding this one to my box of travel sizes and will use it during my next trip.  

Naked Princess Naked Shine Luscious Lip Gloss - This thing is tiny!  I wish this sample was bigger because this lip gloss is really nice.  I got the color Barely Coco, which is a really pretty neutral.  The gloss has a nice flavor / scent, but I don't think any lip gloss is worth a full size at $26.  I'll stick with my NYX, Bath & Body Works, and Revlon.

Luna Fiber bar - I got the chocolate raspberry, but haven't yet tried it.  I don't recall if I've had Luna bars before, but I do occasionally get these types of bars for on the go.  Luna bars seem to always be going on sale at Target, so it'll be nice to give one a try!

One of my coworkers signed up for Birchbox a couple months ago and so far ours have been completely different.  I must admit I was a little jealous to find out she got a Beauty Blender since those run about $19 and are supposed to be great for applying foundation.  Maybe one of these months I'll be one of the lucky ladies to get one!

If you're interested in Birchbox, here's my referral link to get you started:  

I can't remember how many months I've been subscribed to Birchbox (it's around 6 or 8ish) and I've overall remained pleased with my boxes.  I enjoy the samples and some of the larger items and full size samples have definitely given me my money's worth.  Completing the online reviews and referring people has helped me rack up points, so I'm thinking I'm going to spend those on a bottle of Viva la Juicy La Fluer soon! 

What was in your October Birchbox?  
Were you impressed by the special Goop box or did you think it was just so so? 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Tasty Fall Treat: Pumpkin Muffins

I've mentioned about a zillion times that fall is my favorite season.  I love it all and anything pumpkin is a winner in my book.  

I stumbled upon a recipe for pumpkin muffins last fall and have been loving them again this year.  (I don't have the original source I got the recipe from, but it turns out my grandma has been doing this as a muffin loaf bread for quite some time.  The best part is that they're super easy and a little healthier than other muffin recipes.  

The only 2 ingredients you need are 1 regular size can of pumpkin and a box of cake mix.  The original recipe I tried called for yellow cake mix, but I use spice cake for a little added flavor.  I also like to add in a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, but that's not a requirement.  That's it!  No water, eggs, oil, milk, or anything like that!  

Dump the pumpkin and cake mix into a bowl and mix it thoroughly.  The batter will be a little thick and sticky, but don't worry about that!

1 cake mix and 1 can of pumpkin will make a dozen muffins.  Put the mix into the muffin cups and bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes.  (I usually set my timer for about 22 minutes.)  

Unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture on my real camera of the final muffins, so click here to see my Instagram photo of them!  (I even bought little football cups to keep with the fall theme!)

There are seriously delicious and ridiculously easy!  I'm not one that cooks much, but I make a batch of these about once a week or so and take them to work for breakfast and as an after school snack.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall or Halloween?

As a teacher in a public school, I have to stay conscious about the beliefs of the students in my classroom.  I must say that I really do teach in a pretty conservative school where the majority of the families and staff are Christian.  It's not uncommon that my students tell me about their church activities or for me to overheard their conversations about what they learned in Sunday School.  

My school doesn't do Halloween parties, but rather just a "fall party."  We don't do any costumes or scary themes.  Naturally, some of the store-bought items are more Halloween themed, but this has never really been an issue.  Most of our families celebrate Halloween as a fun holiday, but not a scary one.  

I found out this week that one of my students doesn't celebrate Halloween at all.  The family is okay with the child staying in the room for the party as long as it's not Halloween themed.  We do our parties on the Friday before Halloween, so it's not even on that day.  Our room mom and the other parents are working together to organize a fall party that takes out the Halloween elements.  I had a Jehovah's Witness in my class a few years ago and she just left the room during parties, so we really didn't do much to change things.  (Plus, she didn't come to my classroom until after Christmas break, so we were past the big season of holidays and parties.)

In talking with other teacher friends, I've been a bit surprised to hear how many schools still do Halloween parties and costume parades.  Our school stopped doing costumes years ago due to the hassle, things getting messed up, some children can't afford costumes, and that some don't dress up.  

So, my question to you is...

Does your school still celebrate Halloween?
How do you stay culturally / religiously sensitive to those students who don't celebrate Halloween?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wearing Jeans to Work(!)

I think as far as the dress code for the teachers at my school we're right in the middle.  We dress up 3 days of the week and wear jeans and t-shirts on Tuesdays and Fridays.  (We wear anti-bullying shirts on Tuesdays and school shirts on Fridays.)  I've been to schools were every teacher looked like they were going to teach a PE class and others where everyone looked like they were working in an office building.  

For the month of October our staff is donating $5 each to be able to wear jeans every day.  This money will be donated towards United Way and their fall fund raising efforts.  (If you don't know about United Way, you should!  They do a lot of great things to help out in the community!  I have a small monthly donation taken out of my paycheck each month because I really support the work they do for the community.) I'm super excited to be able to wear jeans AND donate to a really great cause.  I'd have been willing to pay a lot more than $5 for those two purposes!

I think if you style things correctly, you can wear jeans to work and still look polished and professional.  I have a hard time finding work pants that fit me the right way and look good.  I love dresses (skirts are kinda hard for me), but wearing dresses is many times not practical for me or the weather.  A lot of times I think my jeans look a lot nicer than some of my khakis and other pants.  It's all about how you style things-- what top you wear, your accessories, your shoes, etc.  

A few weeks into our month of wearing jeans, I've really enjoyed having that as an option.  We had a week or so that was pretty chilly, so it was nice to be able to wear jeans on those days.  I've still dressed up a few times (I've had some observations and wanted to look a little nicer on those days) and probably will a few more days before the end of the month.

How to Wear Jeans to Work

I think wearing jeans to work is all about wearing a good fitting and polished pair of jeans.  Pair that with a cute top and some nice accessories and you're good to go!  For many of my jeans days I've worn cute sweaters and scarves or thrown on my AE blazers.  

If you're looking for good fitting and affordable jeans here are a few of my picks:

Here are a few more Polyvore sets featuring dressier looks with jeans:

Gold, Pink, and Polka Dots

This is an older set, but I wore almost this exact outfit today for my final two parent-teacher conferences.  

A Little Wild

Church Christmas Program

The Sweater Blazer

Conference Casual

I hope that gives you a few ideas for how to wear your jeans to work and still maintain a professional appearance.  

I'd love to hear if any of you wear jeans for teaching (or whatever your job is) and how you wear them!