Always Aubrey: January 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

Budgeting Bloggers: January 2017

First off, my Christmas gifts, post-Christmas orders, all of it is hitting January 2017.  So this month is  heavy-spending one for sure, and I went a little crazy.  Lots of Lularoe piece from different sellers!  That said, it's also a fresh year and a fresh budget.  As mentioned in last month's post, I decided $2500 is a reasonable annual budget for me this year.


Aubrey's 2017 Budget Ground Rules:
  • $2500 annual budget goal
  • Pajamas, socks/hosiery, underwear, and specific needs for work/DAR do not count against budget as one-offs
  • ALL clothing and accessories count, including activewear
  • Any clothing sold (via Poshmark, etc.) is subtracted from the monthly spend, to encourage me to trim the closet
  • Purchases made with store giftcards do not count against the budget, but gift cash does because I could use it on other things
  • Link up monthly with the rest of Franish's budgeting bloggers for accountability and sharing!  I love seeing what other bloggers are shopping.



  1. Lularoe Carly Dress ($55):  The Carly is a high-low trapeze dress of sorts.  I wasn't sure I'd like it, but the green heather one I got works perfectly for weekends.  It's long enough I can wear it without leggings if I want to, and it's very comfortable.  I could belt it probably.  Not my new favorite given the price, but it's a different silhouette that I'm trying!  Dan liked it.
  2. Lularoe Nicole Dress ($48):  I didn't know if I'd like the Nicole as much as the Amelia (my favorite LLR dress), but given it is $17 cheaper, I decided to give it a try.  It's definitely a flattering cut, and I think that I'll buy more in the future if the print isn't available in Amelia.  Amelia still wins for adorable tailoring and pockets, but Nicole is my #2 LLR dress now.
  3. Lularoe Madison Skirt ($46):  I couldn't resist the floral for spring and summer.  I think I'll wear it with my mustard tops and cardigans for an obnoxiously bright weekend outfit.
  4. Lularoe Amelia Dresses ($65):  I bought two of my favorite LLR dress from a different seller than the ones above, because they had my favorite color (mustard yellow) and a darker maroon shade.  They have texture but are solid colors, which is perfection.  Couldn't resist, I'd been looking for that yellow color!
  5. LOFT Ponte Five Pocket Leggings in black (originally $70, paid $35)  I wear black ponte pants to work almost every day, and getting a pair for under $40 is a bargain.  So I stocked up, especially since the pants I used to buy at The Limited are gone with the closing of that store!
  6. LOFT Zip Pocket Pintucked Ponte Leggings in grey and black (originally $70, paid $35 each):  See above.  NEED ALL THE PANTS!
  7. LOFT Paneled Mixed Media Shell in vibrant cranberry and ocean sapphire (originally $40, paid $18):  I wear a lot of cardigans and blazers, so I need shells or tanks to wear under them and coordinate.  I used to just buy these at Forever 21, but the quality was lacking.  So I used a great LOFT post-Christmas sale to snag a bunch.  I've already been wearing them.



8.  LOFT Cascade Shell in radiant crimson (originally $44, paid $22)
9.  LOFT Mixed Media Split Neck Shell in whisper white (originally $40, paid $20): This one feels like a blouse in front, and a soft t-shirt in the back!
10.  Target Kamar Shearling Style Boots in grey (originally $35, paid $25 on sale):  These are now even cheaper on sale, but I wanted some comfy boots like Uggs.  Now I want some in a tan color, in a taller height perhaps.  Maybe I'll hold out for post-winter Uggs sales.
11.  Anthropologie Bow Jacket similarsimilar splurge (new $119, paid $45 with shipping via Poshmark): I have been looking for tweed jackets to wear for work and DAR events, and I found a couple of nice ones used on Poshmark.
12.  Talbots Prospect Tweed Nautical Jacket similar (new $94, paid $23 via Poshmark):  I used a $5 credit on this one, and it was a steal.
13.  Aerosoles Solid Bet Loafer via DSW (originally $50, paid $40 with DSW rewards):  The MOST COMFY LOAFER EVER.  If I could buy these in a zillion colors, I'd livein them forever.


$577 spent - $48 sold = $529 total spent this month

$2500 - $529 = $1971 remaining in 2017


Has anyone seen a good deal on soft, ponte knit blazers?  I feel like mine are starting to pill.  So while I'm gonna attack them with a lint/pill shaver (one of the best inventions ever), I might want to start looking for replacements or new colors.

Here's what I got for Christmas by way of closet additions, not pictured, but listed!
  • Limited Mixed Media Top
  • LOFT Tassel Necklace
  • Limited Ponte Pants in grey
  • ELLE Peter Pan Collar Dress
  • Italian leather green cross-body
  • Red Scottish scarf

I'm linking up with the rest of the Budgeting Bloggers at Franish!


What did you add to your closet this month?


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Lately: Writing, Quitting, Fixing, Celebrating, Updating


I'm sorry to be MIA, but the past couple of weeks have been a doozy!  Dan's father passed away, so we unexpectedly headed to Pittsburgh for a funerary road trip, and then I was up at West Point for my Dad's birthday gift weekend.  Sad and happy bookends to a long week-and-a-half, and I'm happy to be at home for a while.

But I did get this cool side-by-side photo with Dad at Trophy Point last weekend...  about 30 years apart.  We're both West Point grads, and he took me to campus when I was a kid.  It was a really special trip.



This photo my sister took is probably my new favorite.



WRITING...  blog posts!  I haven't written much these past couple of months, but I have a few drafts and ideas in the works.  I'm hoping to find the space to sit down and write, once I'm done digging myself out from under the mountain of laundry and other chores/tasks.

But I did take a break for poker night... made it to the final table, but ultimately lost.




QUITTING...  I'm thinking of quitting Twitter.  I quit Snapchat, and I really prefer Facebook and Instagram above other social media.  I think the general media climate is to blame.

FIXING...  Plated meals again!  We hadn't ordered any in a while due to travel, but now every so often we'll get a box to help us cook more at home.  The fresh spaghetti we made was delish.





CELEBRATING...  My niece G (my cousin's baby) is a month old!  I got to hold her during our trip to NYC, and I'm in love!



UPDATING...  my choices.  For example, I shocked my coworkers by ordering a salad at lunch.  I keep hearing people talk about making small changes instead of big ones, and I think it's something that I can adopt.  Now that sunlight is coming back, I can maybe get to walking outside again?




THIS PAST WEEK...
  • On the Blog:  Nothing!  Oops.
  • On Twitter:  RTed this awesome illustration from Creature Type.
  • On Pinterest:  Funfetti cinnamon rolls.  Everybody's doing Whole 30, and I'm drooling over these.
  • On Instagram:  I made a kite to celebrate lunar New Year at Korean class.
  • Shopping:  I may just drop $100 to get four sets of these to solve my spice organizing problem. I like that they stack!

How was your week?

Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Lately: Thinking, Finding, Allowing, Insisting, Repeating


Once again, it was a busy week for me and thus a slow week for blogging!  That's why I really like these Sunday Lately posts, because I can throw my thoughts together for the week in one spot.  I think the highlight of the week was getting a new phone... an iPhone 7 Plus!  I LOVE the huge display, and I don't really feel like it's that much bigger than my old phone.  The camera is amazing too, and I've noticed it's faster.  Improvements all-around, and it's supposedly waterproof!


THINKING... about the future.  I'm not vaguebooking, just daydreaming.  I catch myself daydreaming about having a house to decorate, having babies, traveling, etc.  It's kind of nice to have the space to have happy daydreams, instead of being wholly preoccupied by worry and stress.  I've said before that I'm not naturally a relaxed person; it's taken me a bit to get to this point!

FINDING... quality time with my husband.  The Mokara Spa at the Omni Nashville does great deals via e-mail, especially during the holidays, so I booked us each an 80-minute massage last Sunday.  Dan was a little nervous, as he hadn't done it before, but in the end he loved it.  We had a really great time enjoying the relaxation of the spa, and then grabbed dinner.  I did my best to detach from my phone, which is something we're trying to be more intentional about.



ALLOWING... myself some "me" time to do things like work on my planner, blog, etc.  I've been so "busy" that it's perfect way for me to decompress.  I did a week of planner page stickers/layer in like 5 minutes.  That 5 minutes made me very happy!  Moving to the mini planner made things a lot easier timewise, and it's the perfect size.




INSISTING... on nothing.  I'm trying to be more flexible, which is hard for me.  I'm naturally bossy (I know people don't like that word, but it sounds better than admitting I'm a straight-up NAG) so I am trying to bite my tongue and be more kind.

REPEATING... my Lularoe purchases, because I just can't have enough Amelia dresses.  I used to think $65 was steep for a dress, but now I have SIX of these dresses and I can't stop wearing them on the regular.  The flattering fit with pleats, the pockets, the fact that they travel well, these are probably my signature dress now.  I don't get the wacky prints, I pretty much have stuck to all solids with embossing or texture to the fabric.  Perfect for work under a blazer, perfect for just about any occasion.  Mustard yellow is my favorite color, so I had to jump when I saw one.

If I were really bright, I'd deconstruct one and make my own pattern so I could sew as many of these as I want!  I'd probably save money that way, right?  I think I should call my friend Lladybird and figure it out.


THIS PAST WEEK...
  • On the Blog:  I did share the recipe I recently got for Fire Crackers.  They're delicious, and we all need them in our lives.
  • On Twitter:  Bitmoji was quick to add the #saltbae meme to the lineup: here's mine.
  • On Pinterest:  I made this cheesy garlic pull-apart bread, and Dan liked it so much he attempted to make it himself later.  It was more work than he thought.
  • On Instagram:  We ate at Dan's favorite Nashville burger spot, Burger Republic.
  • Shopping:  Have you seen the alarm clocks/lamps that simulate sunrise?  I've been looking at one and wonder if it's worth the investment.  Winter sunlight hours drive me absolutely mad, and this is supposed to wake you more naturally and gently.


How was your week?





Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fire Crackers

A couple of months ago, my coworker told me that someone had brought this cracker mix to work, a spicy but delicious snack.  From the time I tried a few, I was hooked.  They were tasty and addictive!  So of course I had to get the recipe to make my own.



Since then, I've made these crackers a few times.  I've decided to share them here, because they're AWESOME.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup canola (flavorless) oil
  • 1 packet of Zesty Italian dressing mix (I use Good Seasons)
  • 1 packet of Ranch dressing mix (I use store brand)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. red pepper flakes (based on your preferred level of spice)
  • 1 box of White Cheddar Cheez-Its
  • 1 box/bag of another cracker, I have used plain mini Club crackers, pita chips, Ritz chips, etc.  This is for some flavor and shape variety, so you can pick what you think will work best!




Preparation:
Mix the oil, dressing mix, and red pepper flakes until they look like a dressing.  Pour them over the two packages of crackers (I've done this in a gallon-sized Ziploc or a large Pyrex bowl) and mix.  Mix every 15 minutes for 1 hour, then place in refrigerator overnight.  Put into resealable container/bowl to serve as a great party snack!  We keep it on the kitchen counter until it's devoured.




I know it's not healthy.  But these are sooooooo tasty.  The White Cheddar Cheez-its are my favorite in the mix, but I like how it looks with another cracker mixed in.  It's rare that I try something and get a recipe for it, then make it THREE times in the span of a month.  I just can't get enough!  They're a little hot, but I dig it.




Do you have a favorite snack mix recipe?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sunday Lately: Redoing, Making, Choosing, Concentrating, Appreciating

I'm back with the ladies of Blogger Tribe for our weekly recap/linkup!


What a week!  Dan and I were stricken with a terrible stomach flu earlier this week, to the point I even missed work.  It was horrible, and I can't remember the last time I was so sick.  I didn't blog much as a result, as my spare time was spent taking care of Dan or the apartment or something to that end.  Woof.  We also got a little bit of snow, which meant most people were home on Friday.  Weird, weird week.



REDOING... chores around the apartment.  Our house was super clean last Friday, but then the stomach flu hit me Monday, and all of that hard work was undone as we wallowed and tossed blankets and things all over the place.  So not only did I have to go around disinfecting, but we have to wash linens, towels, and blankets, and clean it all over again.  I usually try to clean something every week, but not EVERYTHING.

MAKING... poor food decisions, LOL.  Now that we're recovered from stomach flu, it's famine to feast.  Last night we baked these brownies topped with cookie dough, DELICIOUS.  We want to eat everything, after days of Gatorade and bananas and broth.



CHOOSING... which cookbook to read!  I love reading cookbooks, which I've mentioned here before.  Many of them are filled with stories, but sometimes I just like to read through recipes for ideas on ingredients and techniques.  I got some for Christmas, so I'm still going through them.  I am in love with Molly on the Range, and this Seoul Food cookbook is one of the best I've seen for Korean food in terms of organization and contextual info.



CONCENTRATING... on nothing at all.  I'm scattered all over the place this week, flitting from one things to the next.  I can't concentrate!

APPRECIATING... soft bathrobes and blankets.  I love the synthetic fabrics out there now that feel like luxurious fur and fleece.  I might be cuddling highly flammable material, but gosh it feels good when you're sick.  Oh, and you know what also feels good?  Using the last of your homemade meatballs to make grown-up Spaghetti-Os.




THIS PAST WEEK...
  • On the Blog:  I only wrote one blog post this past week, as I don't have much in the queue.  That said, our meal at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse was amazing and worth writing about!
  • On Twitter:  I went to get my favorite doughnuts, and I shared them with my husband.  Lucky guy!
  • On Pinterest:  I am a little obsessed with the idea of being able to perfectly ice a cake.
  • On Instagram:  Sometimes your Bitmoji tells it better than you can.
  • Shopping:  I'm looking for the perfect spice organization solution for my cabinet.  The old system I used was discontinued.  Any tips?  This one looks interesting, like I could put a bunch in the cabinet that way.


How was your week?


Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup presented by the Blogger Tribe.
Next week's themes: Thinking, Finding, Allowing, Insisting, Repeating.
Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse Nashville

My coworkers in Cincinnati (and coworkers who have traveled to Cincy) have mentioned Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse to me, and then one of my friends mentioned there was a new one in Nashville.  Dan loves steak, so when I got tickets to the Nutcracker by the Nashville Ballet, I bribed him with steak.



Firstly, if you're attending a show at TPAC, this place is PERFECT.  You can valet your car, validate it with your meal, and leave the car while you walk two short blocks to the show.  Winner-winner!  The entire place is totally upscale, and I highly recommend securing a reservation.  There's a bar area, in addition to the restaurant.  The decor is bold, and the restrooms are really cool.  I love that each of the ladies stalls have their own sinks in them, like a mini bathroom of their own.  Loads of supplies, flossers, etc. too.



Jeff Ruby's is a white-tablecloth, impeccably serviced, top notch steakhouse.  The prices are expensive, but not obscene for a high-calibre steak joint.  We ordered a bottle of wine.  The list was extensive, and the cocktail menu was good too.  Dan had a post-dinner Manhattan that he liked a lot too.

Sorry for the dim lighting photos.



As we waited for our steaks, they brought out hot bread and two types of butter, artfully arranged on a dish with the Jeff Ruby emblem.  Dan loved the butter with truffles.



For dinner, I went with my standard filet mignon.  We had shared sides of macaroni and cheese and the truffled cream corn.  Everything was delicious, and the portions were generous.  In a rare occurrence for me, I actually thought the corn was even better than the signature macaroni.  They also have a sushi menu and dessert menu, but we were entirely too full to enjoy another bite!  Dan isn't a big leftovers guy, but he was thrilled when the server arranged for us to have ours packed up and stored in the walk-in while we went to our show.  When we retrieved them, they were in a beautiful reusable tote bag (great marketing!) and brought to us with gratitude for visiting the restaurant.  All in all, the service was one of the highlights of the visit (I believe our server's name was AJ... shoutout!) and it's the reason we'd come back again for fantastic steaks.  I think I prefer it to Bob's at the Omni, but on par with Kayne Prime.  It just depends on what experience you want.



There's also live entertainment in the restaurant, so if you're looking for quiet romance, this isn't the place.  It's more of a fun night out before a show, splurge date kind of thing.  (If you're looking for a quiet, romantic steakhouse in Nashville, check out my review of The Standard, or if you're looking for a more modern steakhouse, check out my visit to Kayne Prime.)

We were all dressed up for the ballet, too... and I failed to get a good couple photo minus this selfie.  Sigh.  But we cleaned up nicely.


What's your favorite steakhouse?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunday Lately: Picking, Telling, Debating, Mixing, Humming


I'm not going to lie, 2016 wasn't the best year ever.  It was kind of hard to top 2015, after all!  We spent the holidays with my family in Indiana for a handful of days, which I really enjoyed.  And now I'm back with the ladies of Blogger Tribe to help ring in the new year by participating (whenever I can) in the weekly linkup.

PICKING... new recipes to try!  I have been getting back into my cookbooks for new ideas of things to make, vs. just online searches.  I even got a cookbook stand for my kitchen, which is good for either my books or my recipes on my iPad.  It's not a formal resolution, but I'm planning to cook more new things into the future.  Plated has really expanded my cooking horizons, and I think I'm more fearless in trying something new.  I got a lot of kitchen/cooking tools for Christmas, including a new pot and pan to expand my stainless set.  Below is the Oatmeal Souffle that I made over the holidays, which was pretty good!



TELLING... myself to relax.  People just tell me to relax and let things happen.  But my natural state of being, quite simply, is not relaxed.  So it's kind of annoying to hear people tell me to do what is so unnatural to me.  I'm doing acupuncture now (I've had three sessions) and the occasional massage to try to help.  I really think I'm sleeping better through the night, and I'm trying to say "no" more and fight stressors.  Dan is more naturally relaxed, so I'm trying to follow his lead... yin and yang, we are.  Here's a pic of Mr. Relaxed and Mrs. Uptight from my parents' family photo session over Christmas.



DEBATING...  sharing vs. oversharing.  Just in general, and not just on social media or blogging.  I'm not a super private person, but there are some things that I hold close to my chest, and I'm not sure how to react when people start to pry.  For one, I really regret telling some people close to me that we're open to starting a family now, because it's kind of annoying (or painful, sometimes) to have those people ping me every month to see whether Aunt Flow has arrived, or question why I'm having only a glass of wine.  My own damn fault.  Which is why I've only mentioned it on the blog ever once, in passing!


MIXING... more recipes?  LOL, I'm kind of at a loss on this prompt because I haven't been doing much lately, but one of my Christmas gifts was a hand mixer.  I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, but it's not the greatest for whipping up a small amount of whipped cream or egg whites, so having a hand mixer is a convenient helper when you don't want to get a huge bowl of something mixed up.



HUMMING... the Hamilton Mixtape.  Because it's amazing, and will have a lot of my 2017 anthems I'm sure.

Oh, and I have a new nephew, my sister's Shikoku Inu puppy, Sumo!  He is such a sweetie.  I got to meet him over Christmas, and he was so smart and so good!  He is a chunky, fluffy boy, which I love.



I also used my calligraphy lessons to make pretty nametags for my family's Christmas gifts.



HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup presented by the Blogger Tribe.
Next week's themes: Redoing, Making, Choosing, Concentrating, Appreciating.
Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe
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