Always Aubrey: December 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Budgeting Bloggers: December 2013

OMG.   You guys, the sales and the Christmas and the fervor!!!  HUGE month for my wardrobe, a mixture of purchases and gifts.


  1. True Lady Dress in Citron at Lizard Thicket, plus two belts ($40 + $23):  Lizard Thicket is kind of my favorite boutique here locally.  I needed something to wear to my high school reunion (note: I waited until 48 hours before the reunion to think about what to wear) so I splurged on this dress and two belts.  I guess it's a special occasion, right?  Plus I know I can wear the dress for other things.  It's fully lined and I love it!
  2. kate spade Cobble Hill Small Leslie in Chocolate (originally $378, paid $169):  Guys, I can never resist kate spade's Surprise Sale.  For real.  Up to 75% off the shiny, pretty things.  Ugh.  But I did list some more of my other handbags for sale on Poshmark (check them out, they're designer!) to cull the collection to make room for the new.  This leather bag is just BEAUTIFUL, and I needed a brown one that was functional with that cross-body strap.
  3. ny collection lace cardi & Charter Club open cardi (FREE from Mom's Closet):  I tried on a lace cardi at LOFT that my Mom was shocked I liked.  She said she had one at home she found on sale at Macy's three years ago and never wore!  She had another open navy cardi that she gave me once that I never wore because of the length, so she got this one NWT and handed it down to me too.  Score!
  4. Columbia Fleece Jacket (originally $50, FREE in Trade):  I have a North Face jacket that I rarely wear because I didn't size it up to wear with sweaters underneath.  Boo.  But Mom is smaller than me and loves to hike, so she's had her eye on my jacket for a while.  I told her I needed a replacement.  We were at the Columbia outlet on Black Friday and I loved this jacket.  I had a sweater on and so I was able to choose the right size for layering.  It was on sale for $40 plus an additional 25% off.  I think we both are winners in this trade!
  5. kate spade Eat Cake for Breakfast Pouch Adrianne (originally $100, paid $35 on Poshmark):  I haven't loved anything I've bought on Poshmark before, but this little bag spoke to me.  I had some Poshmark credits so it really knocked down the price and made it worth a try.  I wanted it to carry my iPad mini and accessories for when I travel or toss it into a big purse.  I love the "Eat Cake for Breakfast" message, cheeky enough for a smaller bag but not something I'd carry as a full novelty purse.
  6. Elizabeth & Clarke Davis Top ($20):  I received my 2nd Elizabeth & Clarke box this season, but the only one of the three shirts I selected that I loved was the Davis.
  7. Burberry Gauze Giant Check Scarf (gift from friend):  This beautiful, timeless, classic scarf was a surprise gift from a very generous friend.  It will be a wardrobe staple for me for sure!  My neck feels so glam.
  8. Merona Peter Pan Studded Collar Cardigan in navy (originally $25, paid $15):  Impulse purchase while Christmas shopping, I wanted the oatmeal but they were out of my size.  I loved the navy though, and I think I might actually wear it more!  I got an even better discount with my Target RedCard.
  9. Everlane Weekender Bag (gift from parents): This is a great bag that holds a TON!  It even has little metal feet on the bottom.
  10. Banana Republic Sweater (gift from parents)
  11. LOFT Sweaters & Cardigans (gifts from parents)
  12. Old Navy Dress, Old Navy Tops, Lizard Thicket Dress, Van Heusen Blouse (gifts from sister and parents)
  13. Limited Merino V-Neck Sweater and matching Lace Trim Cami (gift from cousin) - not pictured because I ran out of time
$301 - $13 Posh/Blog - $100 Gift Money = $188 spent
Total Savings = HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS, HOLLA

Yea, so at the beginning of the month I admittedly was like EFF THE BUDGET and was a big fat failure.  The sales around Christmas shopping season are just so irresistible.  But I was also spoiled rotten with gifts, as per usual, so I got even more bang for my relative buck, right?  I can live with $38 over considering everything I hauled.

Even though I wasn't on track this month AT ALL, I do love that I have half a year's worth of documented spends, so I now know that I need to reserve my 4th quarter budget for the holiday sales.

Overall, I was only $5 over for my 6 months' budget!  Woohoo!

Wishlist Update:
(reminder: instead of monthly, since I'm doing a quarterly budget in 2014)
  • Quality Trenchcoat (tan or black)
  • Brown Leather Riding Boots
  • Black Leather Boots
  • Michael Kors Rose Watch (plain, no bling)
  • Red Classic Toms

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Frothy Monkey - Franklin

When I try to study at home, I get distracted.  I have laundry and dishes and TV shows and magazines and other things.  I've found that coffee shops, despite all their hustle and bustle, are the prime place for me to study; even the library is too quiet.  I tend to gravitate towards Starbucks, but since I was hungry I decided to hit up the Frothy Monkey in downtown Franklin.

I caught this quiet moment between church services getting out and swarming the place!

I love that it has an industrial, yet home-like atmosphere, with old fireplaces since it is an older building that may have been a home at some point.

The Frothy Monkey serves food all day, and even offers beer and wine.  I decided to get the Frothy Monkey breakfast and a chai latte - delicious bacon, eggs, and multi-grain toast.  The bacon was some of the freshest and best I've had in Franklin (yum!) and I swear they gave me more than two eggs.  I enjoyed the meal immensely, with delicious jam on the toast.



I also enjoyed the chai latte, though it was a little different from others I've had.  I feel like it had a bit more spice than I'm used to.  (I'm still tasting the delicious one I had at Bread and Cocoa in San Francisco... must have been some extra cream or something.)

I enjoyed studying upstairs by a window, and I spent a good few hours there.  I'm definitely going to hide out there more often.

I also enjoyed the people-watching, which included:

  • one sixty-something Sugar Daddy warning another that his girlfriend is "nesting" and that he needs to clarify expectations and let her know he's not interested in remarrying after the death of his wife and doesn't want more kids
  • two Lululemon housewives who obviously called each other beforehand and said, "you wear the grey shirt and pink puffy vest, and I'll wear my pink shirt and grey puffy vest and we'll be TWINSIES!" like Regina George and the Plastics grew up and are now int heir 40s
  • one hipster who got visibly offended when a fellow patron asked if her "fruit iced tea" was orange juice
  • the cutest parade of children and babies in designer clothing like a living catalogue
  • two huge waves of the post-church crowd in Sunday best in downtown Franklin, creating predictable surges in the line at 10am and 12pm

Not a bad way to spend a lazy Sunday!

Frothy Monkey on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Stinking Rose

We love garlic.  For a long time, people have been mentioning The Stinking Rose to us, because they know we tend to double or triple the amount of garlic in anything we cook.  So when Dan and I were in San Francisco, as kitschy as it is, we had to go.


World's Longest Garlic Chain or something
We had to start with the Bagna Calda of garlic soaking in a hot tub.  I mean, wow.  So much deliciousness to spread on your bread LIKE BUTTER.  It was that spreadable for real.


For my main dish, I chose the Italian garlic meatloaf.  Everything tasted good, and of course very garlicky!


Dan had the gnocchetti, with gorgonzola cheese and of course... GARLIC.


Okay, all garlic references aside, the food was decent.  It wasn't overly pricey, especially by San Francisco standards, which is nice.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely, but we kind of see it as someplace you go once but not again, you know?  We're happy with the experience, and we both had the most amazing garlic breath for alike 24 hours after, despite best efforts.  And we didn't mind a bit.

The Stinking Rose on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

from our little family to you!
Card Design: Minted
Photos: Him + Honey (minus the picture of Bear!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

San Francisco

After my visit with friends in New York, I hopped a direct flight to San Francisco (almost SIX hours) to make it to California in time for my friend JS's wedding.  You guys, I hope this doesn't sound weird, but I was super freaking pumped to attend my first gay wedding.  I have had other gay friends get married, but JS has been my friend since like forever, and it was SAN FRANCISCO.  Swoon.  LOVE IS LOVE AND EQUALITY ROCKS!

JS and his partner were married at San Francisco's City Hall, which was gorgeously decorated for the holidays.  I saw so many couples lined up to be married, it made my heart swell.  So much wonderful.  Not to mention, my other two best friends from high school were there, plus even more friends and significant others, and it was awesome.


There was a cocktail reception at O3 Bistro & Lounge with awesome drinks and munchies.  It was jam-packed with well-wishers, and a really great start to the night.  Then we headed to the Burritt Room + Tavern for a decadent four-course meal.  I'm glad I had a fit & flare dress, because I ate my face off.  So much good food.  Now THAT is a wedding reception.

Me & Dan/Duke
I think one of my favorite parts, other than the dinner, was the PARTY BUS.  The grooms got us a party bus that took us to the Castro for some gay clubbing.  We went to the Lookout, where Friday is #HYSL night or "Handle Your Shit Lady" club night.  Basically we drank and watched Showgirls (uncensored) on the TV, and I watched as a ton of dudes hit on my boyfriend.  Apparently beards are hot right now.  :)

We then headed to QBar... and I DIED OF GAY HAPPINESS WHICH IS REDUNDANT BUT I LOVED IT.  There were hot go-go dancers, Beyonce music videos, and drinks.  But the thing I loved most was the dancing.  Dancing, dancing, dancing with a ton of people who know all the words like I do.  There's just something amazing about having a grown man drag me onto the dancefloor so we can jump up and down screaming Katy Perry lyrics in each other's faces.  LOVE.

The next day, we met up with Dan's old friend and his family for a day on by the water in classic San Francisco fashion.  We visited the smelly sea lions of Pier 39...


...and indulged in people-watching and Ghirardelli to boot.  We just walked and talked and saw so much!




We had a fantastic time in San Francisco.  It was the first "fly someplace" trip Dan and I have taken together.  We were smiling and enjoying ourselves the entire time.  Between this trip and our Asheville adventures, we've had some great getaways this year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Boyz n the Hoodies

I just HAD to post these photos (they're all over my Instagram and FB), because Dan wanted to get Bear a black hoodie for Christmas so they can match.  I love these two so much!




Mini Bacon & Cheese Quiches

I'm been doing Weight Watchers for a few months now, so when a work holiday potluck came up, I wanted to bring something that was within my diet.  I am known for baking desserts, so I thought bringing something savory would be fun.


Using wonton wrappers in my mini-cupcake pan was awesome.  They look so fancy despite being so simple, and the possibilities are endless for filling them with anything and everything!  I bet I could even use them for mini pumpkin pies or something.  Genius idea, whoever came up with it.

These definitely tasted yummy, and they are only ONE point each on my diet!  Great breakfast to make ahead and reheat too.


Mini Bacon & Cheese Quiches
from Weight Watchers

Ingredients

  • 1 spray(s) cooking spray   
  • 36 item(s) wonton wrapper(s), 3 1/2-inches square each   
  • 1 small uncooked onion(s), finely chopped   
  • 1 cup(s) fat free egg substitute   
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) fat free evaporated milk   
  • 1/2 cup(s) low fat shredded cheddar cheese   
  • 4 slice(s) cooked crisp turkey bacon, crumbled   

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat 36 miniature muffin cups with cooking spray.
  • Gently press 1 wonton wrapper into each muffin cup allowing ends to extend above cups. Spray edges of wrappers with cooking spray; set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a small skillet, stir-fry onion over medium-high heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg substitute, milk and cheese. Stir in bacon and onion until well combined. Fill each wonton wrapper with about 1 tablespoon of filling mixture.
  • Bake until quiche mixture is set and edges of wrappers are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Yields 2 quiches per serving.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

West Point

One thing my Nashville blogger buddies know about me that I don't mention too often here: I'm a U.S. Army veteran and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Whew, that's a mouthful.

I hadn't been back to visit USMA (as it is more briefly called) since 2008, when I saw a friend who would be killed in action in Afghanistan just a couple of years later while I was deployed to Iraq.  We'd lived in the same dorms for three years together.  His name was Sal Corma, and he was 24 years old.  He was an only child with an infectious smile and the most polite and genuinely kind person you'd ever meet.

Recently, I had a chance to return with friends to my alma mater.  One of the first things we did was visit the cemetery.  As my friend JH guided me to Sal's grave (the headstones were beautifully decorated with wreaths from Wreaths Across America for the holidays) I noticed that I knew so many of the other names in that corner of the cemetery.  JH and I were suddenly overwhelmed with tears, something I hadn't been expecting at all.  I won't even list all of the names here because there are so many, people I used to see at meals, in the hallways, in class.  It's just too much sometimes, and I have started to understand why I'm not as open here about it as I am other things in my life.

Visiting West Point was the oddest feeling...  It felt like I was coming back after Christmas break to put on the uniform and start classes again, and it was strange not to walk past the signs into the cadet areas.

Jefferson Library
After visiting the cemetery, I wanted to see the new library, which was being built when I graduated.  I wanted to see it.  It was much more modern-looking to me than other buildings, but I think over time the stone will age and blend in.  I even had a chance to chat with a cadet who was standing guard, and while our experiences are very different they also sounded very similar.



Another plus of visiting West Point is that so many people I know are living and working around the school.  I went to Andy's Restaurant, an old brunch hangout of mine, to meet with a few girls I ran cross country with during my freshman and sophomore years.  It was so neat to see everyone years later!

Reunion at Andy's Restaurant
I must admit, however, that one of the most important things about my trip to West Point was spending a few days with my little "niece" Elle.  I was Maid of Honor for JH and PH (and I helped set them up in college) so I consider them my family.  I see them every year though mostly just in passing on one of their long car trips, but it just isn't enough.

I had such a good time just being at home with them, even though JH did have me help with a little drywall and it went in my EYE and I don't do that stuff OMG.  I picked up cooking tips from J, we took Elle to see Frozen (so good!), and we had a really great visit.  I didn't realize how much I'd missed them until I was there, then I didn't want to leave!  They've also done such an amazing job renovating their home.  It's a Before/After dream.

Yeah, I need to correct the red-eye but whatever.

A real fire and Peanut loves it.

 I had a fantastic trip... and then I caught a direct flight to San Francisco.  To be continued...

P.S.  I also stopped very briefly in NYC to surprise my cousin Suzy!  If you're into yoga, or think you might want to start, you should check out her website or Facebook especially if you're in NYC.


P.P.S.  You might have noticed I no longer feature my Before I'm 30 bucket list.  Well, I thought I'd briefly mention why.  26-year-old me loved the idea of doing 100 silly things before I'm 30, but almost-29-year-old doesn't even want to do most of those things anymore.  While it has been enjoyable and fun to chase those "goals", they just aren't aligned to where I am in life no.  Tant pis, c'est la vie, que sera sera.  I'm happier pursuing the here & now, and I'm lucky enough to have an amazing life happening without a list!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tarte Cosmetics

I know it wasn't long ago that I talked about how much I like my bareMinerals makeup routine.  It has worked well for me for years, keeping me from breaking out but also providing me a simple routine for my face.

But I've been struggling lately with certain areas of my face having dryness, especially as we get into winter.  The mineral powders just seemed to enhance that even more.  And since my fall purchase of bareMinerals was almost empty, I went to Sephora to talk to one of their makeup consultants. Based on how I loved Dr. Jart BB cream but needed better matching, she recommended a liquid foundation: Tarte.  I loved the matte finish of their Amazonian Clay foundation, and she also helped me find concealer to match my skin tone.  The concealer even helps with dark circles under my eyes.  A little bit goes a long way!



For application, I am now the owner of a Beautyblender, though it is taking some getting used to on my part!  Still, I have noticed that the new foundation gives me all the benefits of my old BB cream but with much better color matching and coverage.  I never thought I'd like liquid foundation, but I think I might be converted.



Is this a farewell to bareMinerals?  I'm not sure.  I'm going to try it for a few months, and probably still use some of my mineral powders to enhance.  But in this winter weather I just knew I had to switch it up and do something new.  Sometimes it's good stepping out of that comfort zone!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Patterson House

I've been meaning to stop by the mysterious Patterson House in Nashville for a while now.  It's literally the most non-descript place in town.  There's a speakeasy sort of vibe, so you just have to find it yourself and then transported into this dark and delightful bar.  (Apologies in advance for the crappy photos... it's super dark inside.)

Dan/Duke (same guy, I figured he can have his real name here now, haha) and I headed there to farewell my friend BD as she moves to Texas.  Dan is a trained bartender, so we were both excited to try the prohibition-style (or whatever that stuff means) cocktails. We came for the mixology masters and to spend time with B.

Me & B at The Patterson House

The menu is sorted by type of alcohol; Dan immediately stuck with the whiskey list.  True to form, I couldn't decide, but I'd heard that you can answer a few questions and have the server/bartender pick the perfect drink for you.  IT'S TRUE.  Great attention to detail and style.


I told the server how lately I've been favoring grapefruit flavors and Moscow Mules, nothing overwhelmingly sweet, and that I don't like a strong alcohol taste.  I also told him I prefer dry red wines.  He suggested two drinks, and I chose the Marrakech Mornings, a tea-infused gin concoction with grapefruit, grenadine, allspice dram, and coffee bitters.  You guys, I liked it so much I drank TWO.  And I'm a one-drink per night kind of lame-o adult.

Marrakech Mornings

Were the cocktails worth the $12 price?  (Yeah, pick your jaw off the ground, they are $12.)  I think so.  They also have these giant spherical ice cubes they use in the lowball glasses that I'm a little obsessed with right now.

We also ordered sliders and the famous Elvis panini (banana, peanut butter, and bacon) but were a little underwhelmed by the food.  We'll surely be back for drinks sometime, but I think we leave the food up to The Catbird Seat.

They're open 7 days a week, and I hear Fridays and Saturdays are tough to get in.  We went on a Sunday and it was super chill.  If you want to feel like a secretive VIP, check out this place!



Patterson House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Grand Rapids: The Green Well Gastro Pub & Brewery Vivant

I was back in Grand Rapids for a quick work trip (literally fly in one day, out the next), and my local coworker and my boss indulged in a delicious dinner out.  Seriously, Grand Rapids, you entirely make up for the cold by being the most amazing place to EAT ALL THE THINGS.

My coworker chose The Green Well Gastro Pub, across the street from Brewery Vivant.  We started with their Cheese Tasting (my boss looooooves cheese) which had artisanal cheeses, fresh fruit, fruit chutneys, local honey, candied nuts, toast points.  I think the chutneys were my favorite part, and the bread was hot and locally baked.



It was soooo cold, so I desperately wanted soup. I chose the Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwich, which sounds very boring.  WRONG.  It's on delicious sourdough, topped with a fried egg, and comes with their tomato soup.  BOOM.  And I got truffle fries.  Fries are my downfall.  Too delicious.  I liked everything!


To drink, I chose a Brewery Vivant Farm Hand.  It was the perfect beer for me, as I favor less hoppy and more Belgian and French styles.  I drank the whole thing, which if you ask my brewer boyfriend is saying something.

Inside Brewery Vivant

I also tasted a couple other Brewery Vivant beers at their taproom after dinner.  We walked across the street to explore the brewery, which was placed in an old church!  Beautiful, and so perfect.  We joked that someone who got married there years ago might be upset to see their old church become a brewery, but then again they might get some free beer out of the deal.  Thank you, Grand Rapids, for always being such a lovely host!

The Green Well on UrbanspoonBrewery Vivant on Urbanspoon
P.S.  You guys, my hotel room had the bestest view ever.  You go, J.W.Marriott, big pimpin'.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Life in GIFs, Vol. 2

Time for another post of My Life in GIFs!  I'm really enjoying putting these together, because there are so many amazing things on the internet to choose from.

I'd like to call this one, "Things I'm Learning As an Adult" in Parks & Rec GIFs.

My metabolism doesn't work anymore, so I have to work out...

...and eat healthier so I don't get chubby.


Some people I thought were my friends are really not great people...

...and sometimes cats make better friends.

But my *true* friends are AWESOME, yo.


I can't drink like I used to...

...and my dancing is kind of old school.


I also spend too much time on my phone.


But I also kind of like being older and being unapologetic for just being ME.
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