Friday, July 3, 2015

Foods, Frocks, & Fancies For the 4th

Dear friends,

I simply could not decide whether to post about food for the holiday weekend or clothes, so I decided to post about BOTH! While I won't actually be home to take advantage of any of the gorgeous holiday-themed foods I spent so much time researching, I thought they were too fun not to share… and Anthropologie is at it again! Marking things down for sale seems to be about the only thing they are doing the summer, not that I'm complaining or anything… :)

First off: the food! As hard as I looked I simply could not locate any red, white, and blue healthy foods. I guess the only thing left to do is eat sweets…! Traumatic, I know! :)


Fourth of July Cake from Jack & Kate 
• Red, White, & Blue Chex Mix from Gimme Some Oven 
• Red, White, & Blue Layered Drinks from Brown Eyed Baker
Star Spangled Berry Tart from The Baker Chick
 • Fruity Firework Pancakes from Taste & Tell 
Pavlova from Add A Pinch

Thankfully, Anthropologie understands our pain. Knowing that we might have to suffer through sweets, treats, and good eats during what is likely to be a long holiday weekend for Americans, they decided to add even more to their tag sale AND continue offering 20% off with code SALEAWAY. Miserable, right?! ;)



So what will you be doing over the holiday weekend? Taking advantage of the frocks and fancies sale … or eating all of the holiday spirit? Share in the comments! I'd love to hear! :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

10 Songs for Independence Day

With July 4th coming up fast, I decided to put together a list of songs I expect to hear over the weekend – on the radio and during firework shows. Funny enough, as I was picking my favorites out, I discovered this list from last year that shows what each state's favorite July 4th song is. Only 2 of the songs on the list made the cut for my top 10.

1. John Mellencamp – "Little Pink Houses"


2. Bruce Springsteen – "Born in the USA" (Amazon)


3. Neil Diamond – "They're Coming to America"


4. John Mellencamp – "R.O.C.K in the USA"


5. Don McLean – "American Pie" (Amazon)


6. Martina McBride – "Independence Day" (Amazon)


7. Ray Charles – "America The Beautiful" (Amazon)


8. Jimi Hendrix – "Star Spangled Banner" (Amazon)


9. Whitney Houston – "Star Spangled Banner" (Amazon)


10. Celine Dion – "God Bless America" (Amazon)


What are some of your favorite Independence Day songs? Did any of them make my cut?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Seine + IWSG


The Seine in Paris from last May (2014), which I momentarily thought was the Rhine…

*sigh* It's early…ish. :)

Have you ever seen the BuzzFeed article where Americans try to put Europe on a map? That's me. ;) Traveling there last year really helped though, I have to admit. And if it makes you feel any better, which it probably should make me feel even worse, I'm no better at labeling a US map than the Brits were… Geography is just not my thing


I think the general idea, as a member of IWSG, is to share writing successes and not-successes on the first Wednesday of every month, so here goes…

General Successes (not just in writing):
1. Coming up with an idea for baby shower invitations. – Justin and I spent about 3 hours on Sunday exploring Sam Flax trying to figure out what we needed to make my dream invitations come true (for someone else). He added his input and decided to take on screen printing which I am extremely nervous about doing since we have all of maybe 2 weeks (?!?) to put these things together and send them out. In the mean time, I found the cutest font to use on the invitations (Sweet Peony ftw!) and bought a watercolor recipe book to get my colors just right. Can we do this? Will we be successful? Time will tell! I'll keep y'all updated! :)
2. I actually liked some of the wording on yesterday's review of Clumpie's. Some days the words just flow – I have variety and detail. I do wish I could use puns better…
3. Almost completed Blogging 101! Just two more activities and I'm done! (And I'm only 3 days behind…)
4. I knew I wouldn't be able to finish Fatal Vision by the beginning of July, and I haven't… BUT I did manage to read nearly 200 pages in the last 2 days! Woo! Only 200 more to go! (It's a 650 page book.)

Things I'd Like to Improve:
1. Picture editing, as always. Wordless Wednesday has encouraged me to get in there and edit an image a week and post it even if I'm not sure if it's good. And I just keep moving forward… one image at a time. They say with photography, it's all a numbers game. The more you shoot, the more you edit, the better you will become at doing both.
2. Still trying to figure out this writing thing. I need to expand my vocabulary.
3. … And read better books. I'm not sure the badly written ones (like Fatal Vision) are really helping me with my writing style too much…

So what's going on in your life? Are you participating in Wordless Wednesday (Does this post count?) or IWSG? Have you had any major successes or failures (that you've learned from) lately?

Edit: Apparently I don't know how to pronounce Seine River. It's all good. Learn something new every day! :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Awesome Ice Cream in the Southeast


As a child, I distinctly remember my favorite ice cream being Bluebell. When I was about 8 years old a distribution plant opened up near my home and my fate was sealed. Clearly we would only be buying the most expensive ice cream in the grocery store from that point forward. Unfortunately (or fortunately for their wallets) my parents disagreed. Instead we bought the gigantic tubs of ice cream mass produced by whatever grocery store we were at: Wal Mart, Kroger, or Publix. The truth is my family loves ice cream. I like to blame the Georgia summer heat. When the temperatures reach 90ยบ+ outside, the go-tos tend to be cold treats and water – not just to drink but also to experience.

Then I met Justin – a man who could cook.

At this point, eating became more about the experience than about filling a void. Quickly I learned that there was good food and then there was great food. Once you experience great food, it is really hard to go back to anything less. So my taste in ice cream has altered over time to reflect my growing sensibilities.

This past weekend, as we ventured back to Scottsboro, AL and the Unclaimed Baggage Store as a late Father's Day "gift" for my dad, we, just as we did the last time, made a pit stop in Chattanooga, TN on the way home. While my childhood memories indicate this is a tourist town, as an adult, the more time I spend there, the more I find to do. We explored local thrift shops and took a walk across the bridges seeing as much that Chattanooga had to offer as we had time for.

While we were there, rather than returning to my go-to favorite ice cream shop The Ice Cream Show, we decided to try Clumpies instead which had been rated as one of the best ice cream shops in America by the Huffington Post. Boy was I surprised at the amazing, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness of Clumpies! It would seem I had, once again, misjudged this shop with it's sad name! A hole-in-the-wall family-owned ice cream parlor located amongst touristy eats on the North Shore near Coolidge Park in Chattanooga, Clumpies offered a large variety of melt-in-your mouth staples (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry) as well as just as many seasonal treats. Justin and I tried the strawberry-balsalmic, peach, pralines 'n cream, and vanilla, all of which we found pleasantly delicious.


After finishing our dessert there, Justin and I started to consider our past ice cream experiences. For example, which was better The Ice Cream Show or Clumpies? I think what it comes down to is what you are looking for in an ice cream. If you want the hand made deliciousness and the ability to try new and exotic (does peach or pralines count as exotic?) flavors, Clumpies is the way to go. If you are looking for Dairy Queen blizzard-like ice cream where you mix and match toppings to get your perfect flavor made specifically for you. The ice cream they use as the base is Mayfield and you are limited in choices – chocolate or vanilla, frozen yogurt or ice cream.  Despite it's plain-ness, even in my description, the ice cream really is good there and definitely fun for a unique experience nothing like what you would typically find at Bruster's or Ben & Jerry's, typical tourist ice cream spots.

Other ice cream worth mentioning that is not necessarily in Chattanooga, but worth trying if you are in the Southeast include:
High Road ice cream specifically found in the desserts at Sweet Auburn Barbecue in Atlanta. YUM!
Jeni's which has locations all over the US. – Or buy the book and make your own at home. Sooo good! :)
Paolo's Italian Gelato located in Charleston and Atlanta. – An Italian in search of delicious gelato found he had to open his own store! Try the floral flavors for an interesting twist!
French Broad Chocolates in Asheville, NC – We didn't love the chocolate too much, but the ice cream was amazing! Go early, because the line can get really long!
• Or if you feel like having a lazy night at home, check out Talenti. We've tried the caramel, raspberry sorbet, and caramel with cookie crunch all of which have been amazing! This brand was once hard to find, but now we are seeing it pop up in stores all over including Sam's Club and Sprouts!

What are your favorite local ice creameries? Are you a fan of the gourmet ice creams that are all the rage right now or do you prefer brand staples like Mayfield, Bluebell, … or the Kroger Party Pail? Share! I'd love to hear! :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

50 Laundry Care Tips & Tricks

I think the laundry fairy must have come…

On Mondays I like to provide money tips, and, I've found, one of the best ways to save money is to not spend it. But how do you go about not spending money when your t-shirts are worn thin, the color from your favorite outfit has faded, and the dryer has eaten all of your socks?

The following are a few tips shared from a survey I've been working with others on. Maybe something in the list will help you do your laundry better?

Pre-Treating & Stains
1. Soak your socks in oxi-clean or bleach to keep them from looking dirty.
2.  If clothes have blood in them, soak in cold water to get it out.
3. Alcohol can get blood out of things you cannot wash or don't like to wash frequently – like bedspreads and cloth furniture.
4. For stubborn stains, squeeze lemon-juice on it and place it in the sun for a bit before washing.
5. Use a toothbrush when pre-treating stains to get the product into the clothing material and the stain out of it.
6. For white clothes, put bleach on the stain and let it sit prior to washing.
7. Remove grease with chalk sticks.

For Smells
8. Use white vinegar to clean the Washing Machine tub between washes.
9. Bleach also works for cleaning the machine between washes.

Sorting
10. Empty ALL pockets! Tissue lint can really create a mess! (As can pen ink and crayons!)
11. Use different hampers to sort clothes into lights, darks, and whites.
12. Wash your really dirty clothes separate from the rest of your clothes.
13. You may consider separating your clothes by fabric type – keeping towels and linens in loads separate from regular clothes and/or washing synthetic and cotton fabrics separate from one another.
14. If not using a laundry bag for delicates, hook bra clasps together so they don't get hung on other clothing or twisted up too much.
15. Flip clothes inside out before washing to maintain color and keep decorative clothing from ruining in the wash.
16. Separate delicates and work clothing from other clothing to keep them looking their best and lasting for a long time.
17. If you have a pet, consider using a lint roller on your clothing prior to putting it in the wash to get extra dog hair off of clothes, towels, blankets, etc… and keep it from spreading from one item to the next.
18. Place socks in a laundry bag so they are easier to match later.

Jeans
19. Only wash jeans with other jeans to maintain their color and make them last longer.
20. Button your jeans to keep the button from banging on the side of the washer or dryer.
21. Wash jeans in cold water and add a bit of vinegar to maintain color.

Washing
22. Put the detergent in the tub before the clothes in order to get them cleaned more thoroughly.
23. Use more detergent than is called for to get your items sparkly clean.
24. Dishwasher detergent will get your whites super bright, and clean deodorant and oils from clothing.
25. Wash bathroom rugs on the shortest cycle so it uses less water. They don't need to be as clean as other things.
26. Add baking soda to the wash to make your towels extra fluffy!
27. Hand-wash intimates and dry clean items or use the delicate cycle on your washing machine with only one or two items in it, depending on your comfort level.
28. Wash delicates in cold water so that they maintain their shape.
29. Consider stopping the wash mid-cycle after it agitates for a bit and there are bubbles so that it can sit and soak for some time before resuming the wash to get really dirty clothing cleaner.

Drying
30. Never allow clothes to completely dry in the dryer. Pull them out and let them finish by air drying.
31. Use a tennis ball in the dryer to get your clothing to come out fluffy!
32. Always open up clothes fully when moving them from the washer to dryer so that they dry faster.
33. You will also be able to see if any stains have been removed, and if not you can rewash them right away rather than having the stain set in the dryer.
34. To dry clothing faster, throw a dry, clean towel in with the rest of the load.
35. If you spread your jeans and towels out between multiple loads, your clothing will dry faster.
36. Door knobs are great for hanging things on if you don't have a line-dryer inside or out.
37. If you do an extra spin cycle in the washing machine for heavier items like towels and jeans, they dry faster in the dryer.
38. Line drying will provide a fresh outdoor scent.
39. Flip clothes inside out when line drying to keep pollen from showing on your clothes.
40. After line drying, put clothes in the dryer to get any stiffness out.
41. Use a used dryer sheet to help get all of the gunk out of the lint screen. It seems to attract the lint and the screen come clean easier.

Dealing with Wrinkles
42. Steam your clothes by hanging them in the bathroom while you shower.
43. Throw a wrinkly shirt in the dryer with a wet washcloth to get the wrinkles out.

Folding/Hanging
44. Fold clothes as you remove them from the dryer to save time when putting them away.
45. Hang nice shirts and dresses immediately out of the dryer so that they are easier to iron later.
46. Put dryer sheets in your drawers so that your clothes always have a fresh out-of-the-dryer smell.

Saving Energy & Money
47. Do laundry at night and in the early morning so that the house doesn't get so hot.
48. Using cold water when washing is better for the environment.
49. Hang, line, or air dry clothing to save on electricity.
50. Make your own laundry detergent using Borax, Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, and Washing Soda.

Did you learn anything new from this list? Will you be trying something different the next time you do laundry?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fashion Friday: More Summer Sales

So guess what?

Not only did I manage to snag the very LAST PAIR of those awesome BHLDN shoes from my last fashion post, but Anthropologie is now offering 20% off all of their sale items if you use coupon code SALEAWAY at check out. Unfortunately everything I liked was too expensive and sold out almost immediately, but I was able to get the discount on all of the things I purchased last week. $5 back on the credit card! :) (It's the little things in life that make me happy…)

As if that weren't enough I started looking at other stores as well… Did you know that Free People is ALSO offering a sale? Not just any sale though … a sale on top of a sale. Both in stores and online, without a code, you can get an additional 25% off all sale items. Plus, if you buy $100 worth of anything online, you get free shipping! I've got one item in my basket, but I'm still trying to decide if it's worth it… I've spent a lot of money this month, and I'd really rather pay down debts. But then again I never seem to have enough clothes? #DecisionsDecisions

Rather than remind you of all of the delicious things at the Urban Outfitter branded stores, I decided to take a look at ChicWish and JShoppers to see what their sales looked like…

Here's what I found:



Where did they come up with that name? I would have called it something like "Summer Cherry Dreams" or "Dripping in Cherries" … "50s A'la Mode?". (Because y'know… cherries go on top of ice cream? Eh! Maybe that's a bit far-fetched!)

Anyway, this dress looks very vintage-fun and cherries are awesome. Plus red. Isn't red the happiest of colors?

If you attempt to buy it at ChicWish, be sure to sign in for an extra 30% off if you intend on ordering $60 or more. :)


Delicate Hand-knit Fringe Cape in Red

Ever have one of those moments when you think to yourself I was born during the wrong time period? When I see this poncho, and others like it, I immediately have that feeling. Why were the clothes between the 50s and 70s so much better?! But then again, this is the two thousand teens and we have styles from all of the time periods, so isn't that awesome?

This red poncho definitely makes me think of the pink one I bought from Anthropologie back at Christmas time. It's quite possibly one of my favorite things to wear. You don't have to worry about it falling off of your shoulders as you move about, and it keeps you nice and warm! #win

If red isn't your color, they also have black and off-white. As for me, I'd definitely love to own it in any color! :)


New Swan Stone Castle Pleated Midi Skirt

When I saw this skirt for the first time today, it made me laugh. Isn't that the Neuschwanstein Castle? I thought to myself. I'm a little bit slow even with a basic knowledge of German vocabulary and I must admit it took me a second to actually think about how the castle name had been translated to English. That was definitely a blond moment if ever I were to have one (being brunette and all…).

I'm not so sure that I would ever consider wearing this, but I had to share it since I have a picture that is very similar to what is on that skirt! (And so does everyone else who has ever visited the castle, I'm sure!) The question comes down to: why didn't I think of printing my image on a skirt and selling it for $48+? Ask yourself that next time you take a picture of a castle! You could be rich! :)


Coffee Belted Twill Skater Skirt

See? I told you I was born during the wrong time period!! :) But seriously – who doesn't love twill? Or maybe it's just me after all… If you take a look at the customer image on the page, the girl's outfit totally reminds me of the school outfit Zooey Deschanel wore in her music video In the Sun; don't you agree?


Striped Flared Shirt Dress

I'm not sure why shirt dresses are so popular recently. Honestly, I really don't like them … except for this one. Maybe it was the purple? Or the gigantic bow? It's possible I just like the purse… What do you think? Are you a fan of shirt dresses?

Have any of your favorite stores begun rolling out summer discounts yet? Will you be taking advantage of any of the sales or finds I've shared today?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

TBT – NYC

Central Park, July 2013

Over the weekend, in the middle of father's day lunch Justin's dad declares that "we need to get back up to NYC and Boston to see your great uncle and my sister…" Turns out he had been planning it all along. It would either be week a in August or week b. Not to be left out of the loop with a grand adventure being planned, Justin and I started looking up plane tickets. With only 2 months to plan, we knew ticket prices would be increasing from this point forward…

Well, as of 2 nights ago, our plane tickets were booked.

Then, yesterday, I began thinking about all of the exciting things we did the last time we were in NYC and questioned whether or not we would be able to find more things to do that would be just as exciting. Unfortunately, we have budgetary limitations since this trip was planned last minute and Justin's parents have even less money than Justin and I. So, cheap attractions it is!

Right now I only have one attraction on my list that doesn't really fit the bill, but I have a feeling everyone in the party (Justin, Justin's parents, & Justin's aunt and uncle – not the great uncle we will be visiting in Boston for a day) will be up for – the observatory at One World Trade Center! :) Check out this review from The Points Guy and be sure to watch the Youtube video of the ride up the elevator – I doubt you'll be disappointed! :) While the World Trade Centers have a pretty dark past and it definitely makes me anxious going up so high on such a well known building, it is an experience I would like to have.

We also have to take Justin to see Times Square. Maybe we can fit some shopping in too?

I'm also looking for other "off the beaten path" locations to visit in the city. Last time, we experienced the Rain Room and saw a Claes Oldenburg exhibit at the Museum for Modern Art. Then we explored the DUMBO area taking in the view from down under the Metropolitan Bridge overpass in the Brooklyn area. (And ate delicious pizza!) We also visited the World Trade Center Memorial; explored St. Paul's Chapel; took a walk through Central Park; shopped at the Apple Store, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the oldest Macy's in NYC (but didn't buy anything!); and shot photos leaning off of a balcony at the Trump Tower. (It made me soooo nervous!!)

How will we beat that?!? Is there anything else exciting to do in NYC? What have I missed that I simply must see?

I will definitely spend plenty of time researching in the next 2 months, but if I have any blog readers that have been to NYC or live there, I'd love it if you'd share your favorite spots!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic Thursday! :)