Monday, August 31, 2015

London (retrospective)

As I was going through some photos the other day, I spotted a bunch of shots from the London trip I took with friends back in 2005... a decade ago!  I am one of those Royal Family/Royal Baby internet followers (and I watched the Royal Wedding live back before William/Kate had two kiddos) and I love BBC shows...  so there's definitely a few things I'd love to do if I could ever get back to that great city.  But first...  here's a flashback to my trip in 2005.

My semester abroad buddies DL and EL were down for a multi-day trip to London, so we hopped a bus in Paris and rode it overnight to the city.  The bus drove onto a ferry, then debarked at Dover and continued its drive.  It was much cheaper at the time than getting there by train!  I remember being proud of how frugal we were... We each packed a small backpack, slept on the floor/tiny sofas at EL's friend's flat, and I wore the same jeans pretty much every day.

My favorite place during that trip was the Tower of London.  The tour was a must, as I've always been fascinated by the Tudors.  I also walked by the Crown Jewels at least a half dozen times.

Tower of London

We also took advantage of free museum entry to see the British Museum.  My favorites were the Egyptian exhibits, and it was exciting for me to see the Rosetta Stone. (It was smaller than I'd imagined.)  We also explored the Tate Modern and walked by Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, and explored my favorite paid museum, the Victoria & Albert.  I loved the focus on design there, especially "everyday" objects over history.

The British Museum
Another interesting thing that we did was watch the House of Commons in action at Parliament.  We were nerdy college kids, so of course we wanted to see these raucous politicians in action!  They were entertaining for sure, and I came away thinking they were much cooler than American politicians.  Maybe I thought the accents made it better?  Not to mention Big Ben is right there.

We also splurge on tickets to do the London Eye ferris wheel, accidentally but perfectly timed to catch sunset over London.  Incredible!!!

Big Ben & The London Eye

Skinny College Aubrey... riding the London Eye!

Photo taken from the London Eye
We did a number of other things on the trip:

  • Walked by Buckingham Palace
  • Rode in one of those cool black taxis (expensive)
  • Rode the Tube (subway)
  • Saw two West End musicals, CHICAGO and The Woman in White (the latter was a terrible Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, no longer exists)
  • Watched the latest Harry Potter movie (Goblet of Fire, it had just been premiered and released the night before!)
  • Ate in Chinatown
  • Shopped at Harrods (I bought a tiny coin purse)
  • Took photos in a red phone booth, snapped a photo of a double-decker red bus
  • Bought a Union Jack sweatshirt

Buckingham Palace
All in all, I'm impressed in retrospect how much we did with so little planning ahead.  I think we were there for 4-5 days in total before we caught the bus back to Paris.  We had a little map book and we just made our own itinerary as we went.  We were scrappy and resourceful, and I don't remember us blowing our budgets by any means to make it happen... even though that year the Pound was kicking butt against the Dollar and Euro!

My favorite photo from the whole trip.

Things I'd Like to Do Next Time I'm in England:

  • Highclere Castle (Downtown Abbey) and Chatsworth House (Pride & Prejudice, The Duchess)
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
  • Tower of London, again, because it's awesome
  • Stonehenge (mixed feelings on this one, some people have said it's underwhelming?)
  • Eat Indian food, because I wasn't acquainted with the cuisine last time and didn't try any
  • Track down something for a photo op that reminds me of Doctor Who or Sherlock

Friday, August 28, 2015

Budgeting Bloggers: August 2015

With August being a month of weather transitions, I wanted to make sure that I was prepared for cooler weather (and an air-conditioned, chilly office).  This month, I replaced some broken sunglasses, got a couple of pieces of jewelry, replaced some jeans that I donated with ones that fit, and found a few steals at Ross and TJ Maxx.

  1. Charming Charlie Glossy Cateye and Spots Sunglasses ($9 each, paid 2 for $15):  There was a sunglasses sale at Charming Charlie, so I indulged in two pairs!  I always buy cheap sunglasses, then wear them until they fall apart.  I don't see the point in paying for more pricy ones, considering I lose and break them frequently.
  2. Charming Charlie Sparkle Crossing Midi Ring ($8, similar splurge):  This little midi ring makes me feel hip and with it... LOL.  It's just adorable and it feels unexpected on someone like me.  My wedding ring finger is pretty blinged out, so I like balancing with something else on the right hand.
  3. Charming Charlie Dainty Doilies Earrings ($6):  These ended up being my wedding earrings, during a last-minute trip to the store to find something that worked.  I needed something that wouldn't clash with the metallic elements of my dress, but still add a little shine.
  4. Old Navy Curvy Straight Jeans in Rinse & Lakeshore ($30 each, paid $20 each on sale):  These used to be called the Sweetheart jeans.  As part of my closet cleanout, I got rid of jeans that didn't fit and replaced them with a couple pairs that do!  It's more important for me right now to wear what fits, and if I change sizes I'll purchase items accordingly.  Definitely wearing these on the regular.
  5. En Focus Studio Chevron Dress via Ross ($15, similar, similar red):  I was at Ross during tax-free weekend and picked up a work-appropriate dress for just $15.  I consider that a good deal!  I'll belt the dress at the waist when I wear it. (see outfit below!)
  6. Cable & Gauge Blue Knit Blouse via TJ Maxx ($17, similarsimilar splurge):  My coworker dragged my to TJ Maxx and I left with two more work-appropriate blouses.  I've been a bargain shopper lately, and I like what I'm getting!  The cobalt blue was so soft and good.  I wore it the day after I bought it!
  7. Zac & Rachel White Grid Blouse via TJ Maxx ($20, similar print):  This top felt like another work-friendly blouse to play up with my jeans.  I need the sleeves to stay warm in the frigid air conditioning, and it can go from summer to fall.

$121 spent - $18 sold = $103 total spent
??? savings

Total 2015 YTD Spending: H1 $970 + July $28 + August $103= $1101

I definitely felt tempted to shop more, but I watched the documentary The True Cost on Netflix about the impact of fast fashion on the world in general, and it made me feel kind of terrible for always looking for cheap clothes.  But the reality is, when I started looking at fair trade pieces and other American-made clothing, it was hard to find items that I considered affordable or splurge-worthy.  Blergh!  So that movie moved me to delete a few online shopping carts of cheap goodies.  Will I stay that way, probably not... the holiday sales are coming, and I've purged a ton from my closet.  I love to shop, and I like to look cute and express myself a little with my outfits.  We'll see how it lands.

I have a Stitch Fix box coming for September, so I'll recap that and let you know what I keep.  I feel pretty good on pants for now, though I'd really like to try these stretch pants from Macy's and I'm lusting after this Eliza J special occasion dress.  If I wear it to two fall weddings, it's worth it, right?  Tell me I'm right.

Don't forget to check out the rest of Fran's budgeting bloggers link-up here!

Also, as a peek into how I style my items, here are a couple of outfits I wore in August with pieces ranging from 2012 to this month...
Blazer from December 2014
Tassel Necklace from November 2014
Top from July 2015
Jeans from August 2015 (this month!)
TOMS wedges circa 2012  

Dress from August 2015 (this month!)
Sandals from May 2015
Don't forget to shop my closet at Poshmark!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wedding: Dinner

We had our wedding dinner at Red Pony Restaurant, with course after course of food and drinks.

In my defense, it was really hot outside and I needed some water right quick.

My friend and wedding dinner assistant, Sonya, set the table decorations (flowers by my sister, calligraphy name cards a gift from her friend) and made sure everything was set up beautifully.

We also had a cake by The Sweet Stash with toppers from Etsy featuring our two cats, Bear & Bourbon.

We toasted with the same champagne that we drank the night we got engaged.  It was a really wonderful time, and our families were able to come together at one table for the first time!

All photos by Steve Cross Photography, Nashville

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Wedding: Bride & Groom Portraits

I don't even think these photos need captions.  Basically, we were happy, married fools and asked Steve to take photos of us at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm and in downtown Franklin where our wedding dinner would be.  This is what happened.

Next Up...  Wedding Dinner!

All photos by Steve Cross Photography, Nashville

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wedding: Ceremony

Oh, hey there!  I know I've been MIA for a bit... trying to play catchup at work, school, and life in general post-wedding.  But then last night I got a wonderful little *ding* from my e-mail account via Steve Cross Photography, and I just couldn't wait to share the official pics of our big day with you!

My beautiful bouquet was made by my sister!!!

Our wedding was a small affair in the town in Franklin, Tennessee where we live.  We chose to have our ceremony at a local public park, the Park at Harlinsdale Farm.  I was very worried about the heat of the day, but it turned out to be a perfect, sunny afternoon for the ceremony.

Dress: Eliza J via Nordstrom
Earrings: Charming Charlie
Bracelet: Tiffany & Co. from my sister (similar)
Hair & Makeup: Artistry Salon & Spa's Lindsey King
Flowers: my sister!
Shoes: Franco Sarto via DSW

We were joined by our closest family and friends for the ceremony, and we had a local officiant, Sherrie Binkley, perform the ceremony.

Sherrie also read short excerpts from a favorite book for each of us...  Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl for Dan, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte for me.

When I make that squishy smile face, it's legit, y'all.

We were pretty chill...  there's even a dog park in the background!

with Suzy and Sissy

Me & Sissy

Sissy arrived early and put together all of the wedding flowers (including that gorgeous), as well as gift bags for the guests.  I couldn't have done it without her, nor would it have looked so nice and put-together!  I had freakout moment earlier in the day that was quickly squashed after eating some chicken nuggets (hangry brides are irritable) but other than that it all came together perfect as could be.

with our wedding guests

Coming Soon:  Bride & Groom Portraits!

All photos by Steve Cross Photography, Nashville

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