Monday, September 29, 2008

No-Shop September

After tomorrow, I will have succeeded at my month of not buying any "stuff". (Well, almost. I did buy the Keep Calm and Carry On print. Oh, and the swimsuit bottoms I got on clearance for like $3.50 - does that count? I was out of town and going to the lake and I *needed* them. Although I uh, didn't end up wearing them.) I unofficially decided at the beginning of September to try and abstain from purchasing "wants" versus "needs" this month for two reasons: 1) to see if I could offset some more unexpected expenses, and 2) my ongoing attempt to simplify. (Oh, and have you seen the economy lately?)

While we still did a fair amount of dining out, going out, & going out of town, I think I did a fantastic job at not buying anything I classified as a "want". I don't think it will have made that big of an impact since there certainly have been months before where I don't think I've spent much, but I'm still trying to recover from Spendfest 2008, also known as paying for a wedding and buying a house.

I will admit I had my moments of weakness. Whenever I get an email announcing a "sale THIS WEEKEND ONLY! 20% off! free shipping!", I have to check it out. Maybe go so far as placing the items in the shopping bag...twice. But both times I walked away!

The first was an Old Navy sale - I think it was 20% off of everything and free shipping.

A swimsuit for like $7! How can I *NOT* get that? I always *need* new swimsuits - I'm *always* wearing the same one!

This seersucker clutch for $5! How cute will this Spring?

A seems-like-it-could-fit-well but-I-can-always-return-it-if-not because-heck-it's-now-$9.99 pencil skirt, several cute tanks, tees, and swimsuit cover-ups later, and I was off the diet and stuffing myself with Oreos and potato chips. I was going to give myself a dollar limit but couldn't even decide what to remove from my cart, so I just had to step away from the computer. This was on a Friday, and since I was going out of town for the weekend, I told myself that if I still really wanted the items on Sunday then I could buy. I actually probably would have ended up buying most of it, but I completely forgot about my lonely shopping cart until Monday morning, when the extra 20% off and free shipping were over. Granted, this didn't provide a huge savings overall since everything was already reduced so much, but this gal doesn't pay more for something she could have had cheaper yesterday.

The second instance was last night. I had promptly deleted the emails J. Crew sent last week announcing there extra 20% off sale items this past weekend. ("This weekend only!" "2 days left to save!" "This is the LAST DAY TO SAVE!") Out of curiosity last night I went to the J. Crew website to just, you know, take a peek. And clearly, September is a bad time to abstain from shopping because, hello, swimsuits are on clearance. And you know I *need* new swimsuit(s!). And found several that I loved, most reduced to $20 for top and bottom, and I think the only reason I didn't pull the trigger is because I couldn't decide on just one (or two).

Bandeau for no tan lines? Check!
Cute little cut-out? Check!
Navy & white polka dots? That is soooo me! - Check check!
J. Crew had several variations of the seersucker bikini on sale.
I would totally wear this with my Old Navy clutch (haha)!

For some reason, this one below is still $30 just for the top, and of course it was my favorite of all of the seersucker bikinis J. Crew had to offer this season. (What is up with that, by the way?)

More navy & white polka dots? Check!

Anywho, I decided to be strong. Plus, I didn't feel like searching for a free shipping coupon, because this gal doesn't pay for shipping unless she can help it.

Maybe I can keep it up in October, but deals may be harder to resist come holiday sales. I saw another blog post where the writer talked about how she likes so much stuff and that blogging about it helps negate the desire to buy because she was getting her "fix" for pretty things. So I'm going to try for now and see.

In other finds, how cute would these alphabet bags have been for bridesmaid gifts? I hate it that I'm constantly finding cute things after the fact. (And another reason to be glad the planning and searching's all over!) I can also see these being super adorable hanging on a row of hooks in an entryway.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Your Message Here

This blog changes the message on this sign daily, taken from reader comments. This isn't the one I submitted, but it could have been!

Here's my submission:
Dear Husband, I love you more today than yesterday.

Love this bedroom

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wish List

I am coveting so many things right now, but will probably not buy any of it for two reasons:
a) I'm trying to keep the acquisition of possessions down (DH keeps warning me about how we will have to downscale if we have a cross-country move for his residency), and
b) I have a somewhat aggressive year-end savings goal that doesn't really support extra purchases

a) I'll find a deal on one of these babies, or
b) blogging about it will remove my desire and I'll be able to talk myself out of it once and for all

Laptop Bag
I think this might be classified as a "need". The handle on my old standard-issue bag broke, and I've been keeping my eye out for something chic to replace it with. I thought I found a steal the other day on a gorgeous, much-reduced leather handbag/tote featured on an ideeli sale but ultimately decided that since it wasn't made to hold a laptop that the straps would probably break.
* Alert! * To launch her new website, Chelsey Henry is giving away free laptop sleeves! I signed up for one, so I'm crossing my fingers that it actually comes. From the photo of it above, this could definitely meet my needs. Go sign up yourself!

PB Teen rug $129-$599

Off and on I resume my search for an eye-popping blue rug for the living room but haven't made the leap yet...I actually don't even know what size I'd need

biOrb Aquarium $130
Rex the Betta that I received almost 2 years ago for my birthday is still living in his boring old house. Don't you think he deserves something better? (And self-cleaning?)

I did find the small one on one website for about $70 but in black. (I'm partial to the silver.) I'll keep looking.

A puppy!
Too much work and expense for how busy we are right now?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Cowboys have a defense like a brick wall (...once it's the 4th quarter with 3 minutes left)

I got lucky tonight (woot!) and got to go to the Dallas Cowboys season opener. I was particularly excited because this is most likely the last game I will get to see in the epic Texas Stadium before the team moves to the new stadium in Arlington next year. (Boo.) And what an exciting game to go to!

James screaming for his Boys
Notice he's not wearing his wedding ring -- earlier, in his clapping zeal, the ring FLEW off his finger and into the row below us. It got tucked safely in his pocket for the rest of the time.

Whooo! We're going to win!

Did you know Texas Stadium has a hole in its roof so God can watch his favorite team play? (And so Gordy can too?)

YESSS! We won!

Final score

I like how the crowds are blurred in this shot. Goodbye, Texas Stadium.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I can still remember...

how I caught you smiling at me as I stood with some sorority sisters at the bar. I was there for a sorority crush party, you were there for a kickoff party for a fraternity event, and the bar was double-booked. I remember you and another guy coming up to us, and I remember how you kind of elbowed him out of the way when he tried talking to me, and how you and I spent the rest of the night talking, long after most of our friends had left.

We met 6 years ago today. And 2 months and 1 week ago we became husband and wife. And every time I look at the photo of you watching me walk down the aisle, it reminds me of how you smiled at me the night we met. I love you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Displaying Collections

There are quite a few things that I collect...hopefully not in that I'm-a-crazy-packrat way, but things that I have made into a display or hope to someday.

1. Coasters and matchbooks
I have a cool shadow box of all of the coasters I've collected. I think I originally got the idea from a Pottery Barn photo where they filled one with postcards, but I can't find it. Most of the coasters were picked up from local pubs, but there are some good ones in there. My favorite is the one from Harry's Bar in Florence.

I've been collecting matchbooks as well, which are harder to pick up on travels now that they have to be checked in your luggage. I prefer matches over the coasters because although they're smaller, they usually have the location on them and it's easy to pick up several on any given trip. Once I had enough, I was planning on putting them all in a matching shadow box and displaying it with the coasters. After seeing this photo though, I might have to change my mind!

2. Postcards

I collect postcards for pretty much everywhere I go (they are pretty cheap in terms of collections), and loooove receiving them. (Hint hint.) I had been looking for the perfect multi-opening mosaic frame (all the same size openings) to put these in for quite a while when my mom got me one last year for Christmas. I've ended up putting photos in it instead (I think the postcards might be a little too big anyway), so I'm still looking for something creative for these. I might try to find matching frames (hello, IKEA) for all of them, but there's still the issue of variance in size. But after seeing this on Apartment Therapy, I was thinking an adaptation of it to make it look more like a clothesline would be charming - plus, you could flip them over to see the message any time you felt like it. Easy peasy!

3. Corks

I remember seeing corks collected prettily in a hurricane globe in, again, a Pottery Barn catalog, and I think SIL saves these too. (I think she might make a trivet with them?) I originally thought about saving them to make cork escort cards for the wedding like the one below. (We certainly would have had enough over the course of the year, and it would've been super cute if we'd had the reception at a vineyard I considered.)
via flickr

I've saved only a couple here and there, so I asked the caterer at our wedding reception to save all of the corks from our wine bottles. She probably thought I was crazy. I really should have asked her to save them from the champagne bottles instead. Champagne corks are much more...cushier. (Although you could make neat patterns displaying a wine cork sideways.) I know I kept one from the first bottle of champagne that was given to us when we got engaged, and I know I've kept some others related to celebrating our nuptials. I like that they symbolize such happy moments. (Although I saved one tonight from dinner with the in-laws that we broke out just to celebrate Wednesday.) I really am that crazy packrat, aren't I. Anyway, thoughts on something to do with them? Maybe a trivet or some kind of bulletin board.

4. Maps

I don't collect maps per se, but we always keep the fold-up maps (and good brochures, ticket stubs, etc.) from trips. Right now all of the travel mementos are in plastic bags or folders, where eventually they hope to make their way into a scrapbook. (And I mean eventually.) How cute is this?via Chris Kenny

If I were ever able to save up enough museum tags (the ones you put on your shirt), that'd be really cool to display in a grid, since they're all roughly the same size and are usually colorful.

5. Sand
This one's my favorite. An aunt of mine had a sand collection of beaches she had been to on her mantle, and I loved looking at (and touching) the differences from the whitest, smooth sand to a black, grainy sand. I didn't start collecting them myself until a few years ago, and it's amazing to see the difference in sand from beaches on the same island! I totally am the crazy person who's scared to be stopped in customs for taking foreign soil. (That doesn't count, right?) I think DH's embarrassed when I do it, so I have to be sneaky about it. According to this guy, who's a pretty big sand collector, it's technically illegal. I should pretend to be doing scientific research like he suggests! (He makes a good point on his site about sand collecting being a free hobby -- much better than spending $5 on a magnet or a keychain everywhere you go.)

Now, I boxed these up when I moved last year and haven't yet located the box they were in. I'm really hoping nothing happened to them because a) I had some really good ones, and b) the friends that hiked forever with me to get the sand when we were at Atlantis resort in Nassau on a cruise would kill me if they found out I lost it. (They were nice about it, considering a) the directions we followed to get to the beach totally took us wayyyy out of the way, when if we had kept walking through the ginormous hotel we would have made it to the entrance of the public beach, since they won't let you on the private one; and b) the sand should really count since we didn't actually go to the beach that day, but I'm making it count because I wanted to go to the beach.)

What do you think makes something collectable? I seem to tend toward things that remind me of somewhere I've been, don't yell "tourist" (hello, thimbles), and are inexpensive. What do you collect?

Dress the Walls with...

I have a lot of wall space in the new home that's dying for some fun art. Since I'm a typography nerd, all of these really appeal to me!

This "For Like Ever" poster is adorable and immediately got snatched up when it was featured on a Domino cover. Apparently this is too trendy to be cool anymore, but since I don't actually know anyone with this print, I'm considering ordering it.

(find it here)
From the source:
It was designed in 2004 as a part of Tracy's MFA thesis project in the Graphic Design program at Yale University. It is a simple phrase she has always loved, and magnifying it on paper seems to change its meaning from a sometimes throwaway saying to a larger hopeful statement. Putting it down on paper was an attempt to make something fragile and fleeting permanent...In a way it was meant to be a love letter to each other and a celebration of the exciting and scary prospect of a new beginning.
For a newly married gal like myself, I think this perfectly sums up how I'm feeling. I can totally see hanging this over our bed. What do you think about this paired with the Love Candy print below? (I don't know about the pink/red. I think the "For Like Ever" comes in a gold, and I could pair it with the sky blue version of the LOVE.)

(source jenniferramos etsy shop / Made by Girl)

I need to follow up with another post of all the lovely things at Mady by Girl. I just love how she stages her photos!

Another ubiquitous print is the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster. Like the "For Like Ever", I've seen some backlash on the blogosphere over these, but I loved this since I stumbled across it on Etsy, and the phrase became my wedding-planning (and now life) mantra. (And again, it's not like I know anyone who actually has this.) The print is a reproduction of a poster that displayed in England during the World War II era, urging British citizens to “keep calm and carry on”. (More history here.)

I often see sfgirlbybay's etsy shop mentioned with this print, but I found a better price on what looks like really good quality paper on pressureless's etsy shop. He's just about to post some for me in a steel blue and a navy (I've been looking for a blue to go in my office), so I'm about to buy this baby!

Here are some alternatives for those who are sick of it:

(source: The Poster List, all posters currently 2 for $20)

(source: pearliemae's etsy shop)

(source: jennysbakeshop's etsy shop, this one's expensive at $89)

I've been looking for something that said "You & I", or more preferably, "Tu y Yo", the title of a fabulous music video DH & I saw all the time in Costa Rica. I found this You & Me print that I wasn't crazy about, and then I came across this "You & I are BFF" that I loved from SparklePower's etsy shop. (Umm, have I mentioned how much I heart etsy?) I bought it along with this coordinating "La La Love You" print. I'm not cool enough to know that these are lyrics to a Pixies song; part of the reason I like this is because my dad used to call me La La Orange from Rainbow Brite:Isn't she so adorable? (Or should I say so alaurable?) I'd like to think I have her spunk, although I don't know if I could pull off the beret. I'm not sure where I'll put these two. I was originally thinking our guest bath since the blue goes with the towels, but I think they're too big. Maybe the entryway.

Here are a few others in my etsy favorites:

Breathe print for the stressed-out student doctor DH. I wish he sold something I could put with it...maybe a heart with arrows for the blood saying something like "I Beat for You"? I don't know.

(source: undisign's etsy shop)

I think this is actually a band poster. Is it wrong to buy something when you don't know anything about the band? The bubble fill-in-the-blanks make my standardized-test-loving heart go pitter patter.

Probably something I shouldn't display at work...

And this one would be for my friend Megan.

(both source: BluLima's etsy shop)

The best recommendation on good, cheap frames for these are IKEA's Ribba frames. Anyone want to take a trip with me up to Frisco?

What do you think of these prints?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fraud alert

Thanks, Citi, for calling about the several suspicious dot com charges to my account! I don't know how they do it - they didn't contact me when I was putting all kinds of crazy super-high charges for the wedding on it left and right, but they saw 3 or 4 small charges to some online websites and they flagged the account.

I'm sure there are certain merchants that are on their list to flag, but I'm impressed that they were so quick about it, as they were so recent that only one of them showed up in my recent account activity. That charge was only for $1, so easy to miss if you're not checking carefully, and I'm sure they were testing that the account worked first, so I'm surprised the other charges were for only around $30 instead of immediately trying to make a huge charge. I check the online activity every few days or so, but I should make it a daily activity just in case.

I have several accounts with Citi (banking and credit) and have always been pretty pleased. The account in question is their CashRewards card. At the time I got it, they were offering 5% back for 3 months, which was awesome because we charged pretty much all of the wedding expenses on it. (When my 3 months ran out, I had DH open one in his name to put the remaining expenses leading up to the wedding. I decided any hit to our credit scores was worth it since we had just secured a loan for our house and they were in different names.) We got soooo much cash back. Obviously, charging a wedding or another huge expense isn't a good idea if you don't have the ability to pay it off each month, but it worked for us.

In my opinion, cash back cards do a lot more for you than airlines miles or points to redeem for gift cards. (And the cash is believed to be tax-free.) Now that the cash back on the card is back to 1%, which is standard, but I could probably do better, so I might do some shopping around soon. I have another 1% card that I just realized gives 2% on utilities, groceries, etc., so I'm going to start using it for those categories.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008