Saturday, April 30, 2016

Budgeting Bloggers: April 2016

I had a couple of Poshmark sales that helped me budget-wise.  And since I was busy and traveling for much of the month, I didn't really shop other than my Stitch Fix!

  1. kate spade Tock Flats in nude (originally $178, paid $76 via Poshmark):  I had $20 in Poshmark credits, so these shoes ended up costing me $76 with shipping.  Brand new, mint condition, never worn!  Ever since I got the black ones (but really wanted to the tan ones) I'd become a little obsessed with finding them.
  2. Stitch Fix (originally $322, paid $237 with tax and a $25 credit):  I got two tops, a blazer, and two dresses.  Woohoo!   Click here for my recap of the items I kepyt
$254 spent -  $94 sold/earned = $160 total spent in April
$187 savings

Quarter Budget: $500 - $160 in April  = $340 left for May & June 

I've worn every item that I bought this month, at least once, and I bumped up my Stitch Fix to earlier to help me shop again for May.  Overall, a kind of boring recap here, but I have been window shopping for some things lately that I'll be happy to have the budget for later!

What did you buy this month?

Check out the rest of the Franish Budgeting Bloggers here!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Stitch Fix Review: 9th Fix

Disclosure:  I paid for my own Stitch Fix; all opinions are my own.  If you're interested in trying Stitch Fix, I'd love for you to use my referral link so I can get $25 towards my next Fix!

I'm back with another Stitch Fix to review!  I wasn't sure what to expect in my Stitch Fix, because I kind of forgot about it (despite leaving a note for my stylist) since my last one was in February.  I did make a little chart for my stylist on my Pinterest board of what cardigans and colors I had in my closet, and she used it!  I also pin these blog post recaps for her to see, which I think helps her evaluate fit and style too.

I'd requested more tie-neck blouses, because I love how they look under blazers and cardigans... so they sent me two!  Woohoo!

The red blouse was made of a great material that I love, perfect for summer.  (I can already tell that the fabrics are getting lighter for spring!)  I wish it was a little longer in torso length, but I knew it was a keeper from the get-go.  The blue blouse (named for a Game of Thrones character!) wasn't my favorite cut, but under a cardigan I love it.  The print is great to match with multiple blouses.  This was probably my least favorite of the box, actually, just because of the cut making my upper arms look bigger.

My stylist also sent me a knit blazer, which I LOVED!  I wear knit blazers all the time for work, and this one is good for work or weekend.  I think it will be a great piece for summer.  I was worried the stripes would make me look wider, but then I stopped caring because it was a great piece.  I wore it the day after I got my box.

I also asked my stylist for wrap dresses, because you can't go wrong with them.  I got one sleeveless, and one long-sleeve.  Again, great pieces for work that I loved, in great prints!

I think that wrap dresses are officially my other office uniform now.  I have a bunch just from this year's shopping alone, but I really think they are timeless.  And honestly I do think I wear these more than I would if I bought one DVF dress; I feel like I can mix it up more and not repeat.  I now have a TON of dresses and the warmer weather is inspiring me to wear them more for sure.

So if you add up all of these pieces, the total comes to $322.  But, since I kept all five pieces, I got 25% off AND redeemed a $25 credit.  My total for all of it came to $237 with tax. which for better or worse comes to about $47 per item.  Overall, I'm happy with that for everything that I got.

In fact, because I haven't been as into shopping lately, I asked for my next fix to come in a month to tide me over.  We'll see how that one goes!  I probably need to do a closet inventory to see what I should get rid of, but we shall see whether I have time to get to that anytime soon.

Disclosure:  I paid for my own Stitch Fix; all opinions are my own.  If you're interested in trying Stitch Fix, I'd love for you to use my referral link so I can get $25 towards my next Fix!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Car2Go and Airbnb

I'm a pretty traditional traveler when it comes to my work trips...  book a flight, hotel, and rental car.  Done!  But when I travel for fun, I'd rather save money or do something unique and different.  When planning our trip to Austin, Texas, I decided we would give Airbnb a try (click for a $20 referral if you haven't already signed up) versus a traditional hotel or something I'd used in the past like VRBO.

I found a 2-person property I liked in East Austin.  It had a separate/private entrance, ensuite bath, and lots of little conveniences like fridge, microwave, coffee maker, etc.  So we booked with our host, who sent us our passcode for the door 24 hours before our arrival.  It was truly seamless!

We absolutely loved our little space.  I joked that we could live there in that suite; the bed was comfy, the whole place was clean, and our hostess was super sweet.  I liked that even though we had phone numbers exchanged just in case, the hostess and I could message via the Airbnb app/site in an non-invasive way.  We had total privacy and really liked our little home away from home.

I think my favorite part about Airbnb is that is puts you in places where people want to live, i.e. walkable neighborhoods.  While I like my hotel stays, this gave us a chance to be in the heart of a cool place, vs. somewhat removed in a chain hotel, which tend to be in areas where there aren't always as many unique, local spots.  I know we're like the last people ever to try Airbnb, but I'm officially converted!

Now, one thing we did try that you may not have experienced yet?  Car2Go.  I didn't want to pay to rent a car the whole four days we were in Austin, because so much was walkable or a cheap Uber ride.  So my friend suggested we use Car2Go (note: we used her card as an added driver vs. signing up, which costs like $30, since we don't live in a city that has it).

Yup, we totally rocked a two-seater Smartcar while driving around Austin.  We reserved one on my phone at the airport, then took it out to Jester King and Salt Lick.  Then, once we got back to our Airbnb, we just parked it and ended the rental.  You could park it just about anywhere within the Austin city "home area", and just leave it!  And sure enough, someone else would take the car for their next little journey.

It was so cool to see how the car would unlock when you started the rental from your phone, or the little card-scanning box on the dash.  It was so automated and neat!  There were screen instructions in the car for how to start your journey, make a stopover (i.e. keep the car key with you vs. parking and ending the transaction), and more.

Now, it was definitely an adjustment driving a Smartcar.  The thing doesn't like to go to fast, the brakes are touchy, and it's kind of like driving a glorified golfcar.  So tiny!  Not what you want to take on a long haul outside the city to be honest.  But parking it was a breeze.  We thought we'd only use it on the first day when we wanted to go outside the city, but we also used it for some short little jaunts around the city when we got tired from walking.  I think it's slightly cheaper than Uber overall for those short trips (and has no wait once you locate a car), and since our Airbnb was in a free parking area, it was super convenient.

It was kind of neat to try out TWO trends that are disrupting the traditional travel industry in one trip!

Have you tried Airbnb or Car2Go?  Or something similar?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Austin Weekend: LBJ Presidential Library, Bullock Texas State History Museum, Capitol, & The Drag

We didn't plan much ahead of time for our Austin trip... so the first night there we were on my laptop brainstorming what to do.  I was like, "Let's do a Segway tour!" And Dan was like EFF NO and suggested the LBJ Presidential Library instead.  Nerd couples FTW!

The first word that came to mind when I saw the library was, "Is that some kind of weird monolith?"  Maybe that's not the right word but the building was surely imposing.  I wondered why there weren't more windows, but then I thought about how sunlight can damage archives and understood.  Cool.

The exhibits really taught me a lot about a President I don't think much about... he was President during a pretty crazy time, with civil rights and Vietnam sort of colliding all at once!  I think that the museum definitely put a glossy spin on the overall Presidency of LBJ, but that's to be expected; there were a lot of realities addressed too.  I also liked the gallery of Presidents and First Ladies, though it might be interesting what they call it when the first woman becomes President someday.  First Spouses?

On the top floor, there is a 7/8 replica Oval Office, and a beautifully preserved Lady Bird Johnson's office.  Can I please have a personal replica of her office for my own use, please?  So retro chic!

His and Hers Offices

We decided to walk from the library to the State Capitol, passing through the UT Austin campus.  We spotted the Bullock Texas State History Museum, and we decided to check it out!  The Whole Foods global kitchen exhibit really drew me in.  I did learn a lot about the state's history that I didn't know!  I guess you kind of learn more about the history of the state in which you grew up, right?

We were starting to get hungry, and I saw there was an area west of campus called The Drag with some Asian food spots.  We settled on Emo's Kitchen for Korean food!  We had some spicy ramen and Korean BBQ that really hit the spot.  Good prices too, just $6 for a giant bowl of ramen!  You knew it was legit because the rice came with beans in it, and almost everyone there was Korean.  Word.

Oh, and then I had to get some milk tea and boba at Coco's Cafe.  Of course.  It was warm out, so it was the perfect way to stay cool!

We then walked to the Capitol and explored the grounds.  It's a pretty impressive building for sure!  Everything really is bigger in Texas.

This was probably our nerdiest day in Texas, but a good way to get to know the city!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Lately: Doing, Appreciating, Designing, Humming, Expecting

I'm writing this on Sunday morning, because I didn't remember to do it sooner!  Oh well.

Working, eating, sleeping, then getting up and doing it all again.  That's about it.  But I'm eating like a king!  Here's a pic of a Shoo Mercy Pancake from Tupelo Honey Cafe (yup, that's fried chicken on a sweet potato pancake with pecans) and a beautiful Plated steak meal that I cooked for us.

I'm appreciating when I am home, not traveling, and not overly busy with random tasks.  I really am.  It's kind of nice to have the time to watch TV and be a bum, work on my blog, do whatever I feel like.  (Though I wish I felt like working out LOL, that hasn't been happening.)  So Dan and I can enjoy things like heading to a nearby brewery and grabbing a beer and playing an impromptu game of Connect 4.  I won best of 7 games.

I'm not sure whether it's considered designing, but I'm thinking about whether I should simplify and rename my blog and social media handles.  I'm not sure what it would become, but I'm looking for something that is evergreen and less of a mouthful.  Meh.

In the meantime, I've also been working on my skills in Korean art class, because I need to paint some paper next week that will be my final design for whatever the elders want to do.  Here's a pic of my practice on flowers from yesterday.

Not humming much.  Haven't really listened to much music lately, because I've been more into Podcasts!  Enjoyed wrapping up Serial, as well as some random downloads of episodes of The Nerdist, NPR's Ask Me Another, and Bon Appetit.

After next week, I'm expecting the DELUGE of travel and work and DAR and stuff to begin.  I'm traveling quite a bit for the four weeks after that, including a long stretch where I'm not sleeping in my own bed for over a WEEK.  Looks like Michigan, DAR Conference, Texas, Indiana, and Michigan thus far.  Sigh.  But this is my life and what it's like!  Business travel looks glam on Instagram... but inside I'm probably wishing I was home covered in cats.

What are you up to this Sunday?

Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe. We e-hang out every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the last week of life in our own worlds. 
Sunday Lately with Blogger Tribe

Friday, April 8, 2016

Austin Weekend: Rainey Street & 6th Street

During our vacation, we spent time on two of what I'd call the most boozy streets in Austin: Rainey Street and Sixth Street.

Rainey Street came highly recommended to us by a bunch of folks, and we loved it.  It's kind of hipster alley, with tons of good food and drinks along a pedestrian-family stretch.  We hit up Craft Pride for some great beers, and ate a tasty Detroit-style pizza from the Via 313 outpost in its patio area.  Via 313 pizzas popped up all over Austin, and we definitely liked their pie.

We split one of their pizzas, though we each could have probably finished one.  We got their Detroiter pizza, which has two types of pepperoni (one under the cheese, one on top) and I added pineapple to the top of mine.  It was greasy, but delicious pizza.  Great sauce and cheese ratio, great toppings.  I had to look up what a "Detroit style" pizza entailed, and it's all about that deep dish with crispy edges.  Via 313 hit the spot and I wish I could have some right now!

We then walked up the street to one of the bars that we liked most architecturally, Container Bar.  Constructed out of metal shipping containers, it had a cool vibe.  There were plenty of people there, playing cornhole and hanging out.

There were a lot of dogs out and about with their owners too, which I liked seeing!  As long as there are leashes, Austin seems to be a pretty dog-friendly city.

There was also a little taco stand/food truck that you could access from Container Bar, which we took advantage of for a snack of chips and salsa.  The salsa packed some heat!

Later in our exploring, we ended up on 6th.  To me, 6th Street seemed the equivalent of Nashville's Broadway, a strip of touristy bars that locals prefer to avoid for the most part, but fun stuff nonetheless.  Of course, I was immediately distracted by Voodoo Doughnuts.  While the original is in Portland, that didn't stop me from grabbing a couple of doughnuts for us.

Dan wasn't overly excited about doughnuts (he didn't want to have to carry a big pink box around) but he ended up eating 2/3 of what we bought.  Ha!

One of the nights we spent in Austin was a Sunday, and our Airbnb did not have cable.  So Dan was worried about how we were going to watch The Walking Dead, of course!  We found out that a bar on 6th Street, The Jackalope, plays the show on Sunday nights when it airs.  It was kind of awesome to show up, order a drink and dinner, and have the music stop and all of the TVs go to the same show with full sound.  It was also kind of cool to see how other people reacted to the show's twists and turns.

Rainey Street was probably one of our favorite little enclaves of Austin during our trip, but 6th Street had some fun to offer too.

Do you have a favorite spot in Austin?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Austin Weekend: East Austin & East Cesar Chavez

My coworker recommended that we try to stay in East Austin for our trip, knowing our propensity for having good food and drink as a priority!  She couldn't have been more right... I loved East Austin and East Cesar Chavez!

One of her tips was to grab breakfast at Hillside Farmacy, on 11th street.  We walked there from our Airbnb.  I loved the inside, which definitely reminded me of an old apothecary, but the weather was so gorgeous we decided to eat outside.

I started with their hibiscus lemonade, which was out of this world delicious!  (And beautifully pink!)  They have a bunch of other homemade fountain sodas from which to choose too. 

For breakfast, Dan got blueberry pancakes and brown butter.  We also split an order of their home fries. OMG those crispy potatoes were the bomb.  As in, MUST GET THEM.  Perfectly fried and delightful.

As for me?  I had the fried egg sandwich, minus the sprouts but adding bacon.  The avocado and fried green tomatoes count as my veggies (sort of), right?

This is my favorite food pic from our whole trip.

We also had a couple of breakfasts at Cenote, just a couple of blocks from where we stayed.  I loved their iced chai with almond milk, and their breakfast burrito was awesome.  I had chorizo and avocado on mine, and it was delicious.  The burrito probably could feed two people, as the portions were huge!  I loved the outside space at Cenote too; it was definitely a neighborhood hangout.

Another neighborhood favorite we visited was Las Trancas, a local taco truck.  It had rave reviews on Yelp, so we figured it was worth checking out.  There was a steady stream of people lined up, so you knew it was good!  We each got three tacos; I had Barbacoa, Pastor, and Asada, with cilantro.  These were basic, no-frills, authentic tacos.  Delicious and simple!

There was also some cool street art in the neighborhood too.  I joked to Dan that this mural was perfect for us, as some of his tattoos are skull-related...  maybe this should be his next one?

And of course this one.  Of course.  Because bacon.

It was also bluebonnet season!  If we had passed a field of them, we probably would have stopped, but this pic will have to suffice.  How pretty they are!

We also grabbed drinks at Brew & Brew, a coffee shop/craft beer spot.  It was weirdly quiet, with a bunch of hipsters on Macbooks drinking silently, so we bailed after a drink.  Good selection though, and great to-go bottles available!  We also had a drink at dive bar Violet Crown Social Club.   While divey, there were plenty of people and the booths were really nice!  Perfectly located next to a Via 313 pizza food truck, so definitely a primo spot for boozing.

Overall, if I had to pick a neighborhood in Austin to relocate, I think I'd end up in East Austin.  But then again, judging by the prices on the rise and the new construction in the 'hood, it's Austin's version of 12South or East Nashville... so it would be out of our range pretty soon!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Austin Weekend: Jester King Brewery and Salt Lick BBQ

As those of you who read my blog may know, I travel quite a bit for work.  One of the perks is being able to leverage things like airline miles... so Dan and I decided in January to book a 4-day weekend in Austin, Texas!

One of the things Dan was looking most forward to was visiting Jester King Brewery and his friend Jeff, who started the brewery.  So we didn't waste any time, hopping into a Car2Go (more on that in another post) and driving straight there from the airport!

It couldn't have been a more perfect day to visit the brewery.

The place has grown a ton since Dan's first visit there, and it was packed!  Lines to get beer were long, but everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time.  Being in the Texas Hill Country was definitely beautiful, and the whole place reminded me more of a country winery than any other brewery I've been to... and I mean that in a complimentary way!  I loved it out there.

We were able to join one of Jeff's tours to see the inside of the brewery space; Dan loves seeing how different and unique breweries are doing things!

(left) Jeff and (right) Happy Dan

Another perk?  Fresh off seeing them in February on my San Antonio trip, my friend JC and her daughter M made the drive to see us for the day too!  M loved the ice in our beer bucket.  We sampled a bunch of beers, including some of the many offered at Jester King that are from other breweries, wineries, and cideries.

But drinking beer makes me hungry!  So we headed about twenty minutes south to another crowded venue: Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood.  Dan joked that I jammed his two must-haves for Austin into one day, but it made sense since we were already out in Hill Country.  The parking lot was packed, and the line just to check in was long...  we were given a 90-120 minute wait time, but we were seated more around 60 minutes after we arrived.  You can also order food "to go", which was a 45 minute wait, which I noticed a lot of families did.  (Everything is cash only, FYI.)  There's a children's play area with tons of tables, so people brought their food out there.

The long wait didn't deter us (although JC and Dan will tell you I did devolve into a hangry state for a bit).  We took M to the playground (she loved doing the slide over and over!) and I got to see if the Doctor was in his TARDIS... he must have been eating ribs.

Once we were seated, we ordered right away to chow down!  All of us adults indulged in Thurman's Choice plates with brisket, pork ribs, and sausage.  I had a double helping of the potato salad (one scoop substituted for slaw, which isn't my thing) and they bring you pickles and bread if you ask.  I'd eaten at the Salt Lick in Round Rock on a visit back in 2011, so I was excited to eat at the original.  The brisket was outstanding as I remembered, and the potato salad doesn't have mayonnaise from what I can tell; it's more of their yellow BBQ sauce than anything.  But I think this trip my favorite was the sausage!  I couldn't get enough of it.

Dan watched M while JC and I went to check out their big open pit.  LOOK AT THE MEAT.  I mean, hello.  Amazing.  Welcome to Texas.  Thank you, ma'am.

Me and JC

What better way to start our Austin vacation?

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