Sunday, November 30, 2014

What I'm Wearing: Wednesday Addams

I haven't taken outfit photos in forever, but recently I layered an outfit together that I really liked and wanted to post about.  So, in classic Aubrey fashion, I got some iPhone photos of it.  Thanks to my friend Lauren for snapping the photos after a lunch during the work week!

Pardon the light posts, this is right outside the office!

Shirt: Joe Fresh (similar)
Dress:  ASOS (similar, similarsplurge)
Leggings:  Danskin via Walmart
Boots:  Nine West (similar, similarsplurge)

I lovingly called this outfit the Wednesday Addams Goes to Work outfit, given the monochrome.  My favorite part was that the layers kept me warm all day, and it gave me another way to wear this shirt.  I like this better than the last outfit I styled with this silk print top.  The dress needed some ironing, but overall I put it in the "wear-again" mental file.

Linking up with...

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Favorites v.2

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, for those Americans reading!  Regardless of the controversial origins of the holiday, I always enjoy some time off to spend with my family.  I took the day off from blogging to do so, nut now I'm back sharing even more Friday Favorites that I've spotted online this week.

I was born into the wrong decade for dresses, but thankfully the internet has amazing reproductions and designs available!  (I recently ordered the first dress... perfect for work!)

The only time I really remember eating Snickerdoodles when I was younger was when my
cousins made them.  I was convinced they knew how to make delicious things because
they got to do 4H or something.  These look amazing.

Squee cat photos make me go squee.  (Source unknown, here's the imgur link!)

I love Anne Taintor so much I dressed as one of her creations for Halloween.
This flask is pretty much perfect.

The fact that a word exists in the Japanese language for this very real phenomenon
makes me smile with happiness.  Tsundoku!

+  SQUEE!  Munchkin the Shih Tzu walks on a treadmill while wearing a teddy bear costume.  Watch it now.

+  Rainbow chip frosting is my fav canned frosting, and thankfully I have Katy Perry on my side to try to bring it back!

+  The Sing-Off is coming back with a holiday special!  Bring on the puns, Nick Lachey!

+So many feelings after watching this!  Family hears son’s heart beat in Vietnam vet’s chest after life-saving transplant.

+  I'm pretty excited to see Into the Woods in theaters this winter, even though it breaks my policy of seeing a film version of a musical before I see it on stage.  I met the actress who plays Little Red when she was the lead in Annie on Broadway!

+  If you don't follow Anna Kendrick on Twitter, you ought to.  Check out some of her hilarious tweets.  She'll be joining Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling in my dream girl gang.

Flashback Favorite:  About a year ago, I did my very first "My Life in GIFs" post and felt so sassy!

Platters in the shape of every state?  YES!  Love this Indiana state dish!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: November 2014

November was not a heavy shopping month... but I already know that December will probably put me over my self-imposed budget given I can't resist sales and impulse buys.  I love everything I got this month!  It's all being worn and used, which is a great sign.  My closet is much more efficient and compact than it used to be, if that makes sense.

  1. Old Navy Quilted Zip-Front Vest in Forest Floor (originally $35, on sale for $30+ discount):  Yes, I have this in black.  I had $40 in Old Navy dollars to use, and I decided to use that, plus free shipping, to get some more basics for the fall/winter.  I wear my black vest so much, I needed another option!  Such a great layering piece.
  2. Old Navy Rockstar Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans in Rise (originally $35):  I am a pair of skinny jeans short after having to toss a couple of pairs, so these fill an important gap in my closet.  Mid-rise is my friend!  I can't stand low-rise pants anymore.  Until I hit my happy place in terms of weight, I'll live in Old Navy jeans instead of investing in pricier ones.
  3. Old Navy Terry-Fleece Skinny Sweatpants in Heather Grey (originally $27):  These just looked perfect for the cooler weather and lounging around at home!  I won't wear them out, but I included them here because, well, accountability.  (I'm not sure about the price of my Old Navy items after sale price and the $40 Old Navy dollars I had, because I did the math and then subtracted returns... and lost the calculations.  Sorry.)
  4. ELLE Eyelet Fit and Flare Dress in Flirty Pink (retail $68, FREE):  My Mom bought be a great pink dress on clearance at Kohl's... FREE to me, and a great savings!  It will get more wear in the spring, though I may try my hand at layering it this winter for a pop of pink.
  5. Lucky Brand Chain Tassel Necklace in Gold (retail $35, paid $21):  I broke the LOFT tassel necklace that I've worn for ages, so I had to hunt online immediately for a replacement!  Lucky won out among the rest because of free shipping; I saw one from another retailer I wanted, but shipping was $9!  I seriously couldn't get by without this go-to accessory; it's the one statement necklace I wear all the time.  This is a great necklace.
$85 spent - $24 sold = $61 total
$142 savings

Quarterly Budget: $400 - $176 October - $61 November = $163 remaining

I'm proud that I actively returned items that I didn't love this month...  it's a big deal for me not to just keep unused stuff in my wardrobe!  I have another big pile of things that will go to Goodwill too, and I'm putting items in my Poshmark closet for sale.  Lastly, I mailed off another bag to thredUP that should be paid next month.

I'm starting to think I might do something different about my quarterly budget next year.  I'm getting really into vintage-inspired dresses (think late 50s and 60s) and I am thinking of getting one beautiful dress per month, then leave a smaller budget per quarter for other things.  We'll see.  Mostly I want to buy some beautiful, quality items vs. lamenting that I didn't get one big purchase because of all the littles.

Check out the rest of this month's Budget Bloggers at the linkup at Franish!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

That time I cooked for 20 people

Twice a year, I am responsible as an officer of my American Legion post to provide our supper.  The cost is reimbursed, but I must admit... this first time cooking for 20 people was extremely intimidating.  Not to mention, our meetings are on Tuesday nights, and I work full time.  Plus, I cook in a small apartment kitchen.  Woof!

The first thing I did was plan the menu, almost a week in advance.  Since it was November, I decided a Thanksgiving-style meal would work best.  I decided on:
I made the green bean casserole and the baked macaroni and cheese on Monday night, minus the fried onion topping on the green beans and the panko crumb topping on the mac.  I kept both in the refrigerator and baked them when I got home before the dinner.

The turkey was almost a disaster.  The prep was easy; I rubbed a packet of onion soup mix over the whole thing, then poured melted butter on the top.  I planned to use my slow cooker for it, but when I went home to check on it, I'd had it set to a lower setting than planned.  My probe reading was still way too low, with just 3 hours to go before the dinner!  So I moved it to a roasting pan, stuck in an oven thermometer, and baked it until it hit the right temperature.  Because I watched it until it was done, vs. overcooking, it turned out to be incredibly tender.  In a pinch, a turkey breast actually bakes fairly fast.

While the turkey and casseroles were cooking, I made the stuffing and gravy on the stovetop.  Super easy.  Seriously easy.  I know this wasn't a healthy meal by any means, but it was a good meal that I was able to accomplish in the timing I needed.

The turkey breast was *just* enough to feed the 20 people.  The gravy and stuffing ran out before everyone got some.  There was just enough green beans, and the macaroni yielded some leftovers.  I got many compliments, and a few folks decided I should cook for them more often.  I was honestly tickled pink!

Also, outsourcing (store-bought rolls) and asking for help (the dessert) were great decisions that saved me a lot of time.  You'd be surprised how little things like that can make a huge difference.

I guess I'd say the moral of this post is, even when you're a busy person with a tiny kitchen, a little planning, help, prep, and some improv, you can cook a big ol' weeknight meal for a bunch of people.  I think I'll have to cook more meat, probably additional sides if I think they will be popular.  My next turn at dinner is in March, and since the weather will be nicer, there may be up to 30 people.  Anyone have ideas of what I should make next time?

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Favorites v.1

Tons of bloggers do a weekly favorites feature, and these roundups are some of my favorite blog posts to read...  I click all the links!  I read so many things on the Internet every week, and I feel like putting them here in my own space is a great way to share all the things I'm reading, watching, and taking in... so enjoy!

I want a house, and a bar cart in that house.  This one is styled so perfectly!

 I dislike heart-shaped jewelry pieces, but this anatomically correct heart pendant?
I would totally wear that.  It's geek chic.

These phone wallpapers are my favorite.
Audrey at Oh So Lovely is a must-follow for her freebie wallpapers and printables!

Kitten Therapy...  definitely something I can get behind!

I love vintage-inspired dresses, and this Bernie Dexter dress made me smile.
I think that I might allow myself to buy one beautiful dress per month in 2015 to get started.

I'm an unapologetic Taylor Swift fan, and I'm noticing even the haters
have moments like this SNL skit.

Katie at Life with a Dash of Whimsy took some tacky-looking ceramic pineapple jars
and have them a white-and-gold makeover.  I love the before/after!

+ My favorite weekly favorites roundup: Kaelah's Things I Love Thursday.  Probably my biggest inspiration behind this new feature, because she loves the internet as much as I do.

Stop asking women if we're pregnant.  Seriously.  I probably just had a big meal.  Great writing!!!

+ My blogger buddy Meghan at Hayes Days recently celebrated her 5th wedding anniversary, and I got my first look at her wedding photos since I got only to know her this year... and THAT DRESS.  Love!

+ One my of middle school friends is a comment featured in this Forbes article on why women struggle with Kim Kardashian's greatest business "asset" in response to discussion of Kim as a woman leader and entrepreneur...  not sure where I stand yet on defining her as such, though I think her brand and ability to make tons of money is kind of brilliant despite my disdain for her in general.  (Note: I do like Khloe and Scott.)

+ I want to make this apple cider sangria from How Sweet It Is.  It looks (and I imagine, tastes) like fall.

+  And I want to bake this bourbon-pecan pie...  I tore its page out of my Food + Wine magazine, and it happens to be a recipe by Cheryl Day from Savannah's Back in the Day Bakery, which I used to love visiting when I lived nearby.  I even have an autographed copy of their cookbook.

+ My Datevitation giveaway is one of my favorites right now too!  Enter to win a FREE customized coupon book to give to your loved one!

Flashback Favorite:  In November 2012, I posted about my experience at opening night for the Annie revival on Broadway!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Autumn Layered Style with ModCloth

Okay, so this says "Autumn", but let's be real... it's been feeling a whole lot like winter lately.  And with my freezing-cold office environment, that means LAYERS.  All the layers.  Because the one time I didn't, I was sitting at my chair in my down Carhartt puffy coat.  So when ModCloth asked me to put together some ideas for autumn layering, I thought it would be fun to play with their virtual closet!  I only created sets I would actually wear myself.

First off, MUSTARD.  Gosh, it's like my favorite color lately.  I've been wearing brown or black knee-high boots almost every day.  It's kind of equestrian, kind of 1970s Love Story, kind of just my style.

Autumn Layers: Mustard

My next collection still sticks to my mustard/navy/brown palette... but incorporates another of my wardrobe staples, which is a FULL SKIRT.  I've actually been rocking my summer dresses (with petticoats) to work with cardigans and other layers.  It's a great way to get more mileage out of things you wear in warmer weather, as the seasons change!

Autumn Layers: Full Skirt

For a DATE NIGHT look, I went for red...  Autumn to me means a transition to mustard yellows, oranges (which I rarely wear), browns, and reds, the colors of the fall trees.  Red can also take you into the holiday season.  For my look, I went with a classic "Aubrey" combo: dress, blazer, tights, wedges!  The coat keeps you warm between the car and the venue, which I imagined here was a night at the theater.  This is another great way to wear a dress from season to season!  You could even throw a fitted long-sleeve black shirt under this dress to convert it.

Autumn Layers: Date Night

What are your favorite pieces for fall layering?
Modcloth has some great sweaters available right now, from cute to Christmas-sweater-party-worthy!

Note:  I did not receive compensation or incentive to participate in this ModCloth style board activity via Polyvore... I just did it because it sounded like fun!  :)

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Datevitation: The Perfect Gift!

Earlier in the month, I received an e-mail from Datevitation, asking if I would review their customized coupon book gifts.  Earlier when we were dating, Dan gave me a homemade coupon book for Valentine's Day, and this was the perfect chance to give him something back!  So I went onto Datevitation's website to create our booklet of coupons.

I decided to use the "Add your Faces" feature to make it feel more customized, then I had to browse the over 500 ideas to choose which ones fit us best.  A few that made the cut were me taking out the trash (I haven't done it in basically two years), Dan's favorite takeout and a movie night at home (we're homebodies) and a few more.  It was all super easy to set up; the hardest part is picking which date ideas to use!

Dan liked the coupon book so much, he keeps it on the coffee table and flips through it contemplating when he wants to "redeem" his coupons.

I NEVER take the trash out, people.  Ever.

Discount for my Readers:  Because the holidays are coming up, and Datevitation is an awesome gift idea, you can use the promo code: AUBREYLAND (before December 13th!) to get $10 off AND free shipping, a $13.50 value!

In addition, you can enter below to win a FREE coupon book from Datevitation, in time for Christmas, between now and November 30th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We love delivery food!

Datevitation is a family business run by the husband-wife team of Alex and Olga Karpman.  You can get to know them on the Datevitation blog, where they offer video guides to date ideas and romantic gestures.  I think this a great gift idea for that person who is hard to shop for, but might enjoy cashing in some completely personalized "coupons" designed with love by you.

I received a free customized coupon book in exchange for my honest review.  Datevitation is running a giveaway via my blog post, as well as offering a promotional code!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Hermitage

I've lived in the Nashville area for two and a half years, but until recently I had never visited Andrew Jackson's estate at The Hermitage.  My parents were in town for the weekend, so we all (Dan included) headed out to learn a bit more about this President and his home.

Front of the House
We started the visit with a video, which gives the history of the estate and Jackson's life.  The video doesn't overly sugarcoat Jackson or his politics... He was a war hero for a battle that happened technically after the war had ended.  He was a slave owner.  He signed off on The Trail of Tears.  He was the last President to have known/met all of the previous Presidents.  He scandalously married his wife before her divorce was finalized.  He was generally viewed (along with his supporters) as a founder of the Democratic Party, interestingly enough.  Dan and I both came away having learned something.

Back of the House and a Slave Cabin

The house itself is one of the best-preserved Presidential homes in existence.  I think they said something like 90% of the furnishings and decor were original, because they all stayed in the family.  The home was also blessed to have been constructed with mainly poplar wood, which termites apparently don't like to eat.  And during the Civil War, both sides generally respected.  Fun fact, to save money, Jackson only painted the front of the house...  kind of like how my parents' house only has brick on the three sides you can see from the street!

There's a cabin on the property that Jackson originally lived in, which was later converted to slave quarters.  I think they said over a hundred slaves lived on the property, with cotton as its cash crop.

This is what cotton looks like, in case you didn't know.

You can't take photos inside the house, so I didn't get a ton... but I definitely think The Hermitage is worth a visit if you like old homes.  You can also see the garden where Jackson and his family are buried.  Give yourself a couple of hours to see it all!

Jackson's Tomb

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nashville Half Marathon

On November 8th, I completed the Nashville Half Marathon, benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I'd been off my training game for two weeks due to bad congestion in my chest (and a horrid cough) but I still went through with it!

There were about 1000 less runners than the previous half marathon I ran, but there were still plenty of people around me to be able to push myself.  I also had both Mom and Dad there to cheer me on!  They helped me ditch my long sleeves AND provided some iced green tea around Mile 5/6 to give me an energy push.

Overall, I felt pretty good.  I did a run/walk like last time, but I missed a bunch of my walking minutes just getting into the groove running.  Not too bad!  This was also my first long distance in newer shoes (check out that neon!) but using the same inserts.  No blisters, no real hot spots either.  I wore compression tall socks again too.

My Mile 11, I knew I was on track to a PR, except I thought it would be over sooner than it was...  there were KILLER HILLS in the last 1.5 miles, so I definitely was sucking over that last bit.  I ended up beating my previous time by 3 minutes, which I can't complain about, especially having been sick.  We covered some similar ground as the other course (Music Row, the Gulch) but also crossed over around LP Field and all the way to Shelby Bottoms park.

My real (chip) time was a minute faster than the clock!

I preferred the Women's Running Half Marathon given all of the fellow women participating, more frequent water stops, and a little more everything in general... big expo, lots of activities, blingier medal.  But this was another good checkpoint for my marathon training, and I felt better than I have after previous long runs.  Overall, I experienced some stiffness in the days following, but by Tuesday I felt great.

Gotta keep on keeping on...

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