Monday, April 30, 2012

Money Matters @Mint... I'm obsessed!

UPDATE (3.4.15):  I noticed this post getting a lot of traffic, and I wanted to leave a quick note.  The funny thing about this post is that while it reads like "sponsored" content, it was actually just me completely fangirling over Mint on my own accord... and now, almost three years later, I am STILL using Mint to manage my finances.  I can see my 401K and investment growth, my MBA student loans, my new car loan, all of my accounts, and more.  When I get married, I will add my husband's account info here to manage the combined family budgets and bills.  I'm still obsessed... and I've converted others.  You need to try it!

I am officially obsessed with Mint.  If you are a money-conscious diva (or dude), this website/app will put you over the moon!  Seriously, it's amazing.

Before Mint, I tracked my budget on an Excel spreadsheet (i.e. only on my personal laptop) and looked at my mortgage, credit card, and investments on different websites.  I also used web/phone apps to keep tabs on my checking account.  That's a lot of different sources, right?

Over 7 MILLION people use Mint to keep tabs on their finances.  It allows you to add ALL of those accounts to one central location, completely protected (Verisign, McAfee, and Truste certified!) and honored with praise from the NY Times, Money, and more.  They guarantee bank-level security.

I'm in love.  I have everything at my password-protected fingertips, so I don't have to remember a ton of different account numbers when I'm on the go.  I can figure out strategies to invest, manage/track my budget, and even set up alerts to text message me when my balance is low or a large purchase is made.

It's the perfect tool, and it's FREE.  I love that I can see my cash, investments, and bills all in one place, with awesome graphs and even advice.  Check it out!  You may be seeing WAY more green in your future, because you're more conscious of where your money is at all times.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A sunny Savannah day...

I had a wonderful day in Savannah yesterday!

After sleeping in, I decided to head downtown to visit the Owens-Thomas House, a historic home I've been meaning to visit for a while now.  Since I'm leaving the area in the coming months (more about that later!), I've decided to start knocking things off my Savannah-area 'bucket list' in the coming weeks.

This is one of my favorite homes in Savannah.  I've been to Mercer Williams House twice, and Davenport House too.  But this one was so well-restored and decorated.  I really loved it!  And my admission ticket also gets me admission to Telfair Academy and Jepson Center this week, so I'll be headed back to town to explore those for free.  I also walked over to Tier Luxury Cakes to grab a Tahitian vanilla cupcake, but ate it before I could snap a photo of its cuteness.  I was served by Ashlee Perkins herself!  :)

Then I headed to a Shake 'n' Share Shakeology party that one of my friends was holding, and got to see some ladies I haven't seen in a while!  I linked up with LD and we headed back downtown afterwards.  We grabbed iced coffee/tea at Gallery Espresso and hailed a Savannah pedicab to check out the SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival in Forsyth Park.  It was gorgeous outside!  What a perfect day to walk around and take in the Spanish moss and atmosphere... a literal walk in the park.  We finished up the evening by joining LD's hubby PD for a delicious meal at Sam Snead's in Pooler.  It's one of our favorite places, and it's a hidden gem near the airport!

It was a gorgeous, sunny day... and I loved every minute of it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New Jersey's Back! #RHONJ

Oh, RHONJ... it's been too long.

The Jersey Housewives are enjoying their summer, most of them headed to the Shore!  Here's where things seem to stand...

Kathy is still boring.

Caroline has menopause, but she's trying to blame it on stress and drama.  Come on, you're still my favorite matriarch.  Embrace your change!

Jacqueline and Chris are finally giving good-for-nothing brat Ashley the boot.  She's seriously a spoiled, selfish brat that has been milking her parents/stepparents for entirely too long.  Good for the Lauritas for standing up.

Melissa and Joe are renovating their beach house, and Joe brings them there when it is totally uninhabitable!  They end up crashing with Kathy... and cousin Rosie is there too!  Cousin Rosie is awesome and hilarious.

And now... for the circus clowns.  I feel like things are pretty dull with the other housewives (except for the fact that Melissa and Joey could have their own show with guest cast the Wakiles/Rosie), so it all revolves around terrible lies and drama created by the Giudices.  Teresa is back in all her ridiculousness, Joe is still a pig, and her girls remain possibly the worst-behaved children on television.

Seriously, I wonder if Teresa goes back and rewatches episodes to listen to what a liar and idiot she is.  Her mispronunciations of things, misunderstandings, and other ramblings are just awful.  If she doesn't get her comeuppance this season, I might have to rethink watching this show at all.  Then I'll just be down to one Real Housewives show.

Save me, Andy Cohen!

P.S. What's with the pack of wolves that Joe was feeding at the Giudice house?  Guard dogs?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gleek Peek: Whitney

I wasn't a huge Whitney Houston fan.  I thought she was a great talent, but a sad individual.  Why are so many celebrities such tragic figures, idolized despite their huge character flaws?

That said, the music for tonight's Glee episode was SPOT ON.  The video I've posted was the episode open, and it was gorgeous.  Pretty much my favorite Glee voices all together in perfect harmony!  And they really packed a lot of songs into a single episode.  It was one of the better episodes this season, and lots of people were featured.

As for the storyline, they are really playing up this graduation thing, and I don't know what the show is going to do with so many principal characters graduating.  Is it going to be a NY/Ohio split?  Fast forward a couple of years for a whole new cast?  I wouldn't put anything past Ryan Murphy, considering he is treating each season of my beloved American Horror Story like a telenovela and recasting the actors each time.  But when I think about it, I really only care about Rachel, Kurt, Santana, and Mercedes.  The rest?  I wouldn't miss then as much.  Okay, maybe Blaine a little bit. :)

Songs I'll Download:  "How Will I Know", "I Wanna Dance with Somebody", "So Emotional", "My Love is Your Love"

Monday, April 23, 2012

Instagram & Friends

I don't maintain a point-and-shoot camera anymore.  I have my iPhone on me at all times, and I have a DSLR for when I want to get super fancy.  And now, with the amazing apps out there, you can create incredible photo creations to share via social media!

Ever wonder which apps to use for the coolest filters, adding text, making collages, or editing?  Here are the ones I'm using...

Instagram:  Instagram is a photo app and social media destination in one.  They have some of the coolest filters out there, and it's 100% free!   I'm showed up late to Instagram, at the urging of my cousin S, and now I understand why Facebook shelled out the big bucks to purchase it.  You can follow friends with the app to keep up with their photos, and share yours simultaneously to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Phonto:  Another free app, Phonto allows you to add text (in varying sizes, fonts, and shapes) to your photos!  I love this for adding a little more flair to your photo.  It can also import directly into Instagram or Twitter.

Diptic:  I credit my friend Nicole for this one!  I have been trying to figure out how to create little photo collages to share on Instagram, without resorting to Photoshop on my laptop.  While it does cost $0.99, that's nothing when you think of all the possibilities!

Photoshop Express:  An honorable mention, I still sometimes use this free Adobe app for quick editing, though less and less since iPhone updated its camera app to allow cropping and other functions.

In fact, I'm super happy with the iOS updates for the camera, allowing quick access without having to unlock the phone itself.  Love it!  It's no wonder I use my iPhone camera all the time now... it has better resolution than my first digital camera, and it's super convenient.  Go Apple!

Now to accumulate enough photos to create some amazing Instagram products, like what's offered at Printstagram.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gleek Peek: Saturday Night Glee-ver

I know this is late in coming, but I've been traveling all week and my blogging has suffered.

That said, I did catch the latest episode of Glee on my DVR.  Look, I'm not really a fan of disco.  It's cheesy, and Glee is already cheesy enough.

The whole Saturday Night Fever challenge was very contrived, and unrealistic... but I did like Mercedes' awesome performance.  It's been a while since she's been featured!

But Finn is utterly pathetic and uninteresting to me, and I could really care less about him and his future.  Oh, and where was Quinn?

You know what I DID like?  Vocal Adrenaline, featuring 'Unique', the alter-ego diva who I remember from The Glee Project.  That was FIERCE.  I don't care what the conservative pundits are saying, having a trans character on such a mainstream show is not going to turn everyone gay/lesbian/trans.  I think it speaks volumes to the diversity and relevance of this fictional show.  Kudos, Ryan Murphy!

I didn't really understand or particularly enjoy this episode, aside from Mercedes' song and Unique.  I won't be downloading any of the songs, and I don't feel compelled to watch it again.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Design*Sponge at Home

Have you ever heard of Design*Sponge?  Oh, I die!  It is THE home of all things design, home, DIY, and more...  If you want a daily dose of sensory overload and amazing ideas (PIN THEM!), you've got to check it out.

I didn't have coffee table books... until now.   My cousin SS sent me a lovely birthday gift of Design*Sponge at Home, a book with an incredible amount of inspiration and design at my fingertips.  It has taken up permanent residence on my coffee table, and I'm more motivated to keep the table clear as a result.  Aesthetics, people!

I love following design blogs and finding inspiration, especially ideas that can fit into my budget with a little creativity.  I haven't really worked on decorating my current living space, since I anticipate a move in the coming months, but I'm stocking away ideas on my Pinterest boards for when the chance to redecorate comes my way.

This book is a great gift for the person in your life who loves home decor!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Kitchen Storage: Pyrex

I've loved Pyrex for years.  Their mixing/measuring cups and bowls are my best friends in the kitchen, and their large baking dishes are used frequently.  I love that they are clear/glass/classic, and that they are build to withstand both heat and cold.

I had a rag-tag, mismatched collection of random plastic storage ware in my cabinets, and I loathed them.  I've had them melt, take on tomato sauce stains, crack, you name it.  They were cheap, yet I kept buying them because they were cheap.  But I didn't feel good about that plastic.

Living alone, I find that food storage is important! Cooking for one seems nearly impossible; I'm all about leftovers, and packing those into lunches for work.  I wanted something that would stand up in the fridge, freezer, and microwave.

When I received an incredible coupon to shop at Steamy Kitchen, I instantly knew what I needed: Pyrex. I now have both round and rectangular storage dishes, with corresponding lids.  I got rid of the plastic stuff at a yard sale (seriously!) and switched over to these truly reusable gems.  I couldn't be happier.

The small containers are perfect for packing my work lunch, and I think the lids create a better seal.  They're perfect in the microwave, too!  In addition, some of my larger dishes have ended up being perfect for the freezer; instead of larger casseroles, I create multiple 'mini' versions that are more proportioned to a single-gal household.  Plus, they're totally dishwasher safe, even OVEN safe... you can't beat it.  I wish I'd bought them years ago, instead of adding up the cost of so many plastic containers.

Have you bought anything new for the kitchen lately?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Colette Sewing Handbook

For my birthday, my little sister sent me an amazing present... The Colette Sewing Handbook!

I've been a fan of Colette patterns and sewing tips for a long time, but I didn't actually have any other their patterns.  This book actually comes with FIVE of them, and a beautifully bound book of sewing advice, tips, and tutorials.  I love flipping through the pages, and it's going to have a permanent home near my sewing machine.  I'll keep you posted when I do my first project!  I'm loving their new patterns for this spring, and I am sure I'll be investing in a couple of them in the future.

Oh, and my sis also sent me a hilarious cookie cake... even though she didn't include her name, I knew it was her.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gleek Peek: Big Brother

GLEE IS BACK!  Hurray!  Especially after such a cliffhanger...  SPOILER ALERT!

First off, I'm glad Quinn is alive, though in a wheelchair.  What I didn't like, however, is how the show just snaps back to Quinn back at school, and her positivity/denial are a bit annoying and immature.  I think the show missed out on some intense hospital/recovery moments, though we have already had some hospital time already with Quinn and Burt, respectively.  I don't know, it just wasn't handled that well.

Poor Quinn.  Teen pregnancy, losing her head cheerleader spot, parents' divorce, reveal of her ugly past, AND a car accident?  DON'T TEXT AND DRIVE.  Sheesh.  The hits just keep on coming for the blonde popular girl.

But really, this episode was focused on Blaine and his brother, Cooper.  What a character!  Seriously, a hilarious and loathsome character, so self-absorbed... "To be a great actor, point your finger and shout your lines like Nic Cage!"  I really enjoy Blaine's singing, though he really used to annoy me last season.  He gets a lot of airtime, when I'd like to see some more Rachel/Mercedes/Puck/Santana.

Despite that focus on the Anderson brothers, I was SO happy to get my Sue Sylvester back.  The cheeky one-liners, the hilarious storyline... I need more Adidas sweatsuit action!  Also love the rivalry with Nene Leakes' character, Coach Roz...  I was like, "OMG, did she just tell Sue to talk her Centrum Silver?  Bwahahaha!"

Anyways, I obviously have problems blogging coherently today, but I'm so happy to have my show back.  It hasn't completely jumped the shark, though it's seen better days... I'm hopeful for a good conclusion to the season.

Songs I'll Download:
"Hungry Like the Wolf/Rio"
"Somebody That I Used to Know"

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Soul Food and Hunger Games

I'm a bit under the weather today (allergies and staying out all/day night do NOT mix!) but I had a wonderful time this weekend that I have to share!

Yesterday, I went on a very fun outing with friends to Charleston, South Carolina.  I feel badly that I haven't fully explored it.  My only other visit to Charleston, I did the horse carriage and a couple of house tours.  This day trip was even quicker, but it really made me want to come back before I move!

We started off by wandering through the Historic Charleston City Market, which has been completely redone since my last visit.  You can find the gorgeous sweetgrass baskets that are famous here in the Lowcountry, or gourmet foods, souvenirs, and other crafts.  It's crowded on weekends and during peak tourist season, but still worth a stop.

For lunch, we went off the beaten tourist path a bit and sought out the famous Martha Lou's Kitchen.  It's a hole-in-the-wall soul food place, but has gained notoriety for its amazing soul food and celebrity passersby (Andrew Zimmern visited recently).  It's cash only, and the menu changes by day (and some popular items run out!) but it was AMAZING.  BEST FRIED CHICKEN I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.  The sweet tea was to DIE for.  I can't stop salivating at the thought of this food.  It's amazing, seriously.  TINY but so hot and fresh.

Our other big stop was the South Carolina Aquarium, which is a very nice, interactive visit!  After visiting the Georgia Aquarium, it felt a little small, but it was still impressive.  I think the river otter and the jellyfish were my favorites, though I could stare at the multi-story giant ocean tank for ages.

Oh, and I had to stop at Kaminsky's to take a dessert home!  I chose the Tiramisu Cake, which was covered in amazing buttercream frosting.  ALL of the frosting at Kaminsky's is buttercream, not that whippy stuff!  YUM.

And the final event of the day?  A late-night showing of The Hunger Games, which I hadn't seen due to traveling for job interviews.  I loved it!  I cried!  I laughed!  It's different from the book, but I always expect that.  I love them both for different reasons.  It was a great representation of the novel, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the future movies turn out.  It was worth staying up all night and getting home in the wee hours of the morning... but I'm paying for it today.  I'm still in pajamas, and it was tough just to get myself out of bed.

I swear tomorrow I'll be more productive.

  Martha Lou's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I haven't written about television in ages!  Probably because I've been studying so much for job interviews.  But one of the shows currently on ABC that I am LOVING is GCB!

It's the story of a former mean girl who is forced to return to her hometown of Dallas... with hilarious consequences.  First off, I LOVE KRISTIN CHENOWETH.  You guys know that. :)

But seriously, this show is hilarious, snarky, colorful, and entertaining.  I can't get enough.  The one-liners are enough to keep me coming back, and the women are deeply flawed, beautiful characters.

I read that one of its creators is the writer of Steel Magnolias, which probably has something to do with how great the chemistry is amongst the cast.  You get sucked into it, and you always want to know what happens next.  If you like girly, funny shows, you must check this out!  It's Mean Girls meets Sex & the City meets Desperate Housewives.


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