Northwest Native: February 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

February Budget [2016]

Last month, I ended up with $1,576.05 in my budget amount available plus any extras including gift cards and credits from Splender/ThredUp/eBates and credit card rewards. I ended up returning two items from my Old Navy order, so that amount has increased by $24.41, bringing my spending last month down to $36.31 and my total budget remaining to start February to $1,600.46...and then I got paid $9.02 from eBates, bringing it to $1,609.48.

$1,139.28 - Annual budget remaining
$308.69 - Nordstrom gift cards
$100 - JCPenney gift card
$22.18 - Old Navy gift card
$5.90 - ThredUp
$11.40 - Splender
$9.02 - eBates
$1,609.48 - Maximum budget amount available

February 2016 Budget

Kate Spade Wellesley Small Rachelle - $398, on sale for $159

Ellen Tracy Wool Blend Stadium Coat - $198, on sale for $98.98 - paid with gift card = $0 returned
So, I bought it! I included this in a Friday Favorites post a few weeks back. I went back and forth on keeping it, and then once I settled on keeping it, I went shopping and saw all the pretty spring and summer stuff, and realized I'd rather spend my money on that, since I already bought a coat this season that I love.

Woven Hem Layered Look Sweater - $68, on sale for $16.90 - paid with gift card = $0

Deux Lux Rivington Saddle Bag - $90, Rack price $39.97 - paid $34.61 in gift cards = $5.36

Paige Jeans (similar - found mine at Nordstrom Rack) - $179, Rack price $79.90 - paid $16.10 in gift cards, my mom paid the rest = $0

Natori 'Hidden Glamour' Contour Underwire Bra - $70 - paid with gift card = $0 returned

[2] Natori 'Pure Luxe' Underwire T-Shirt Bras - $144 - $142 in gift cards = $2
I originally bought the first bra in nude and the second in black. They both fit will when I tried them on, but after wearing them more extensively, I realized the second bra was way more comfortable. I exchanged the first one for another of the second, and had to pay the extra $2 (I do have a gift card left for the return of the coat, but it was just $2, so...might as well just pay it).

I'm actually really proud of myself. If you recall, my resolution post is when I announced that I was going to have a set budget this year. I mentioned that some things wouldn't be included in the budget, like the bras, since they're necessities. I was also going to save up my Nordstrom gift cards for a $300+ bag, and while it was pretty, I decided that's not too practical for me right now, even with gift cards.

I'm glad I ended up using my gift cards on the new bras, because it would've hurt a little bit to spend $144 on them out of pocket, even if they weren't getting subtracted from my budget. I also feel like including them is much more representative of my resolution in the first place, which is 'living with less.' Not budgeting them would've meant more money in the budget to buy more stuff!

That doesn't mean that I won't choose to exclude a necessity from the budget down the road, but I'm really happy I didn't exclude it this time.

I'm also proud because last month I ended up at $36.31 after returns, and when you add that to this month's spending, it's just over $200. The budget I set is $1,200 per year, but that breaks down to $100 a month. As I've said before, I'm not restricting my monthly budget, just the total annual budget...but it's nice to know that even with fluctuating spending, I'm on track!

So, I spent $166.36 out of my budget this month, bringing my actual budget amount down to $972.92. Apparently I also spent $209.61 in Nordstrom gift cards, which would bring that amount down to $99.08 according to my calculations...but I actually should have $98.98 remaining...not sure where the math is off by $0.10.

$972.92 - Annual budget remaining
$98.98 - Nordstrom gift cards
$100 - JCPenney gift card
$22.18 - Old Navy gift card
$65 - Old Navy credit card rewards
$5.90 - ThredUp
$11.40 - Splender
$9.02 - eBates
$1,285.04 - Maximum budget amount available

As usual, I'm linking up with Franish's Budgeting Bloggers and Stephanie for Final Friday Finance!

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Friday, February 26, 2016

My Happy List [2.26.16]

I've been wanting to link up with Krysten and Lindsay to share my happy list for a while now (ten things that made you happy this week, posted on Friday!) and now I'm finally getting around to it! After a rough start to the week, I wanted to focus on the good things and let everyone know that I don't hate my life, even though I was a huge complainer this week. Also, I feel like I tend to ramble in my Friday Favorites posts (like I am now...) so I thought this would help me be more brief. :)

Number One: Flora

Flora is always my favorite, even when I have to clean up her puke 473820 times in one day. I snapped this picture last week and it made me so happy. When we first got her, she used to always fall asleep cuddling with toys, but she doesn't do it as often anymore, so I loved seeing her do it again!

She wasn't herself while she was sick. I only really realized on Wednesday that how she was acting was a result of being sick. I came home for lunch on Wednesday and she seemed really sluggish, and I started to freak. But luckily, when I came home Wednesday night she was wagging and playing with Tully like her normal self.

Number Two: Tully

They just look so peaceful when they're sleeping. Tully is also always my favorite. On Thursday morning, I woke up to her just about to pee on the carpet at 5:30 (twenty minutes before my alarm) and jumped up to take them outside. Then at 7:10, five minutes before I had to leave for work, I find a pee spot on the carpet. I was so mad because really, an hour and forty minutes is waaay too short. And then I remembered that the steroid she's on (for her itchy paws and belly) makes her drink more and pee more (she wasn't on this yet on Monday when both dogs were peeing everywhere), and I felt really bad for being upset. Honestly, I'm so happy to see her not biting her back paws, it more than makes up for having to clean up after her.

Number Three: Michael

I complained about Michael not cleaning up dog pee when he was home the other day and having to clean it on my lunch break. I really shouldn't be mad at him--he was asleep on the couch with a migraine until I got home. His mistake was leaving our bedroom door open, which we usually close when we're in the living room so we can keep the dogs nearby. They pottied in the bedroom, so maybe if he hadn't left the door open I wouldn't have had to clean it up...but I'm not holding my breath. Oh, and I wouldn't have made him clean it up either way when he was miserable with a migraine.

Number Four: Healthy Fast Food

There's this fast food/sit-down restaurant hybrid in our neighborhood called Laughing Planet. Michael and I actually ate there the day we applied to live in our apartment. We've gotten it twice since moving, and the Cuban burrito is so delicious as a bowl, and is actually good for you! It has black beans, brown rice, sweet potato, plantains, pico de gallo, and chipotle BBQ sauce. The first time I got it I added chicken, but I actually like it better without. This was dinner last Friday, and I was so happy.

Number Five: Sunshine!

I'm typing this on Thursday while the sun beats down on me through the window in my office. It's supposed to be a high of 68! It's been sunny every day this week...but it starts out so cold in the mornings.

Number Six: Taking Your Advice

Everyone told me how much I deserved a glass (or bottle) of wine after the rocky start to my week. On Wednesday night after the gym, I grabbed myself a bottle of prosecco (my favorite!). We had salad for dinner, which I had been craving, and it was perfect. (Don't worry, I didn't actually drink the entire bottle.)

Number Seven: Ducks!

When our friends were in town last weekend, we took them to our apartment, and they wanted to see the ducks. We found them, and this guy just came waddling right over to us. Seriously, there is no zoom on this picture. I just crouched and snapped (which makes me think of bend and snap--anyone else?). I've never had this happen, but then again, I've never gone looking for the ducks, and usually when I walk by them I have the dogs, and the ducks definitely keep their distance from them.

I think this would be a perfect 'Stuff Michael Says' quote, but I can't hold it in. I mentioned something about the male and female ducks, and Michael said, "Wait, you can tell them apart?!" Pretty sure he's the only one in our group who didn't know the ones with the green heads (like this one) are the males. His mind was seriously blown. In his words, "I thought the brown ones [meaning the females] were just the ugly ones." Which is offensive, because I think all ducks are adorable. Ha!

Number Eight: Reading!

I've been reading like crazy lately. My book review posts don't tend to be that popular, and I think it's because I'm horrible at book reviews. I'm always like, "YAY I LOVED THIS BOOK!" and that's all. I'm not good at descriptions or comparison or here's what I've been reading lately.
Mr. Mercedes by Steven King - My first Steven King book! In the beginning I loved it. Towards the end I felt like it was dragging on and on. Aren't his books long generally? Anyway, I gave it three stars on Goodreads, which is a big deal for me. I'm pretty sure 90% of my ratings are five stars and 9% are four stars (I'm easily impressed, apparently...and I always feel bad for the book if I rate it low--I know, I'm crazy).
Second Life by S.J. Watson - I read Before I Go To Sleep right before this, so I knew I needed to read this. I liked it, but not as much. I predicted a few of the things, and while my predictions ended up only being half right and the twist was pretty didn't really blow me away. I gave this four stars and Before I Go To Sleep five stars, for reference.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - I just started this one, but I'm loving it so far! I kind of hate the Gene character though...anyone else?
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - This became available at the library like two days after The Rosie I'm trying to read that as fast as I can so I can read both without having to re-add anything to my hold list. Everyone keeps saying how amazing this book is, and now with a movie coming out...I want to get on it!

Number Nine: Girl Scout Cookies

Like this one even needs an explanation.

Number Ten: Galentine's Blogger Exchange!

I gave my gift to Kim! I decided to be super sneaky and avoid the Post Office, so I sent her a smaller package directly from Target (as in, I just ordered online with my account and had it shipped to her). And then I decided to get her something from Etsy that was on her wish list... Well, it took forever for it to ship, so I'm sure she thought at first she was only getting the Target package and I felt like the worst swap co-host ever! I don't even know if her second gift will be there in finally did ship, but they didn't provide a tracking number! Anyway, Kim is a lover of Full House and can't wait for Fuller House to premier and I just have to say amen to that!

I received a $25 gift card to Amazon from Kechell! Clearly she knows I look there first for pretty much everything. Any suggestions what I should use it for?!

You can link up your own posts about the Galentine's Blogger Exchange below or on Olya's blog!

Another note--this coming Tuesday, March 1st is our Tell Us About It link-up! The topic is favorite winter activities and memories. Blogger is being difficult so I couldn't include the full list of topics and dates. You can link up here, on Julie's blog, or on Katie's blog!

Lastly, I'm also linking up with AndreaErika, and Narci for Friday Favorites and Astleigh for The Pick!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Things Blogging Has Taught Me

I've been a little bit extremely negative this week, so I thought I'd post something more lighthearted today. I've had this drafted for a while, but I wanted to think of more witty things to say. Spoiler alert: I didn't.

Not every blogger or Instagrammer lives in a spotless house with only pristine white or marble surfaces. (They use foam board and contact paper for that.)

But most of them do have a white fur rug or blanket for photo ops. What, like you don't?!

If you include the words 'an announcement' in your post title, your post will get allll the traffic. (I have two posts with 'an announcement' in the title and they definitely have inflated views...probably because people think I'm pregnant.)

Donuts are the new cupcake. Even 100% clean eating bloggers will post pictures of donuts, because...donuts. They may even own a donut shirt, or donut socks, or donut pajamas (I'm not hating--Rachel posted a pair of donut pajamas a while back and I really wanted them). But I promise you, if you put a donut in front of me I may be able to take the time to take a picture of it first, but that thing is definitely getting devoured.

'MOPS' is not just a group of women who really, really, like to mop. (I had to Google this after seeing it on a few blogs.)

Staged blogging pictures are pretty, but ridiculous. And yet I still try my hand at them (and fail).
My sister and her boyfriend got us a tray for these giant ice cubes for Christmas. Perfect for cocktails since they don't melt as fast. Also, penguin socks. I wear seasonal socks year-round with no shame.
I really like Kate Spade and my family has caught on so Christmas was good to me this year (on both sides!).
My sister-in-law got me this super cute glass box for Christmas and I use it for my Kate Spade earrings.
Clearly this mug is blog-worthy in my opinion. Also pictured is my first (and last) attempt at wearing white pants in the winter. I just can't pull it off like every single other blogger on the planet can.
I might as well have just called this 'pictures of mugs.' Also, you know how we're our own harshest critics, so a lot of times we may not like a picture of ourselves (I know at least someone can relate to this)? Is it weird that I think that about pictures of me holding things? "Ugh, my hand looks so bad in this picture." Like for real? It's a hand. Maybe if my nails were painted, which is far too much work, I wouldn't think my hands were so gross.
I have to say, I'm kind of proud of this one. Like I said, donuts are a blogger's best friend. And it helps that this donut shop has the best bags.
The credit for this one really has to go to Farmgirl Flowers for creating the prettiest bouquets + gift boxes, but I mean taking it out of the box and arranging it on the kitchen floor deserves some credit, right? RIGHT?!
Pictures of feet are timeless, didn't you hear?

What has blogging (or reading blogs) taught you?

I'm linking up with Annie and Natalie for Thoughts for Thursday and Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Confessions: Insert Witty Title Here

My favorite zumba moves are the more...'sensual' (?) ones. Honestly I'm not sure if they're sensual or just hilarious/awkward, but give my shimmies and booty shakin' and hip thrusting moves all class long and I'll be a happy camper. I just think they're fun and sometimes funny. Runner-up are bouncy/jumpy moves. Shakin' it or bouncing off the walls is my jam. #workit

To go along with that, I bought Carmen Electra's Strip Tease dance workout DVD senior year of high school. Pretty sure I hid it from my mom. #sorrymom

When I use the treadmill at the gym, I usually alternate running and walking. I usually run at an incline of two, and walk at an incline of five. Fitbit includes hills (yes, treadmill incline too) in calculating flights of stairs. I had been confused since I started wearing my Fitbit again why I wasn't getting credit for that...and then I realized the Flex doesn't even do that, my Charge (RIP) did. #notthebrightestcrayoninthebox #can'tstoptalkingaboutFitbit

Another day, another late post. Last night when I sat down to finish this post, the Internet just would not work. #itwaslikelivingintheseventeenthcentury

Also, apparently my days aren't going to get better. Yesterday when I came home from lunch, there was pee for me to clean up. Best part? Michael stayed home sick... And I still came home to a mess that I had to clean up in my forty minutes at home. #awesome #apparentlyI'mthemaid

Last night, I was doing laundry since the dogs decided to dirty all of our dog towels and our bedding. I was one quarter I had to drive to the store and buy something and get cash back... #IboughtMichaelicecream #prettysureI'mtheonewhodeservesit #orwine

I walked Flora for half an hour this morning trying to get her to poop (they both go every morning, usually). She didn't go yesterday either, but I figured that's because she puked everything up. Last night she ate a lot, so I thought she'd go. She doesn't, and I have to give up and go in because I'm already running way late at this point...and she pukes all over the carpet. #fantastic #thingsarelookingup #that'ssarcasm

Is it weird I'm kind of convincing myself the vet did something to make Flora sick? After someone tried to trick me into going to a dentist that tells everyone they need work done when they don't, I feel like everyone is out to get me. Plus, I found them from a flyer in the mail that said first exam free... I read Yelp reviews though and they have a very good rating. But this doctor kept trying to add more things that needed to be done...our old vet never did that. She even told us she doesn't believe the shelter where we got our dogs about Flora's teeth. (They filed them down because she was showing aggression to other dogs.) First of all, why would it benefit them to lie about that? Wouldn't they want us to not know she had shown aggression in the past? Anyway, she just seemed like she was trying to get money out of me. I also didn't really like her personally. Our last vet's office was a recommendation by my sister-in-law who knows dogs, and I liked them. And somehow, I've found the only thing that costs more here than it does in Seattle. #andit'svetcare #atleastatthisvet #conspiracytheories

I've kind of given up on the week getting better. I'm just preparing myself for the week from hell. I see tears in my future (and past and kind of's been rough). #justwanttogetinbedandnotgetoutuntilFriday

Linking up with Laura and Lauren for #HashtagHumpday...
...and Nadine and Kathy for Confessions!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stuff & Things [2.23.16]

Hello, friends. So, I was going to have this scheduled to post this morning...but yesterday afternoon/night was one of the worst I've had in a while. See for yourself!

I got off work at 2:30 and the sun was out, so that was nice...but the purpose was for a vet visit for both dogs. Taking just one of them is enough of a challenge, but one person taking both dogs is so hard. Then the appointment lasted an hour and a half and cost me $500. So that was fun.

I then had to go to the grocery store. It took me forever because I was trying to make sure I didn't forget anything plus trying to hit $100 because I had a coupon for $20 off $100. Annnd I didn't hit it so I ran to grab gluten free beer for Michael and then realized...alcohol doesn't qualify. So the transaction had to be voided and I had to go find more stuff.

I get home at 6:30 (Michael gets off at 7 and home around 7:15; I usually have dinner ready when he gets home) and start making spaghetti squash for the first time. I'm frantically trying to chop this thing in half (I poked holes and microwaved it and all that) and once I succeed, it's super lopsided, but whatever. Anyway, it gets done and it tastes good, but it takes a long time.

And then Flora pukes on our duvet while we're in bed because the vet gave her too many treats. So I strip the duvet, feel like crying because this day is so awful, and I pile it up to wash the next day. Then she pukes on our comforter, which we still have to sleep with because it's our only one. Yay. Then, she pees on the carpet at 11 p.m. She can usually go eight hours without peeing. I clean it up with another one of our ratty towels that we have for these dog accidents. Two hours later, I wake up at 1 a.m. to her peeing on the floor again!

And then I wake up at 2 a.m. to Tully peeing (she also always makes it through the night).

And then I wake up at 3 a.m. to Flora puking again.

And at this point we're out of towels for dog messes, and Flora didn't poop when I took her out this morning, so if I go home at lunch and there's a mess waiting for me, I will probably start sobbing and have to text my boss and say I need the rest of the day as a personal day.

I seriously wish I could just wipe that day from my memory. It was so exhausting both emotionally/mentally and physically.

So, now that you know that, here's the happy parts of the post.


Our weekend was so full that I didn't have time to write a weekend recap, and I think that's okay because I would've dragged on and on. So I decided I'll just do a more brief post about things lately. I would call it life lately, but it's more like life in the past couple days.

I mentioned that we had friends coming into town on Saturday. Michael lived with the two guys, Spencer and Blake his senior year (and I think a couple of years before). I came up to stay in Seattle with Michael pretty often, so I hung out with them and Spencer's girlfriend, Adrian, often. We found out on Friday that Blake's girlfriend would be able to come so we got to meet her for the first time. I won't bore you with details, but we did a lot of eating (and on Saturday night, drinking). On Saturday when we got out of the Uber, we saw this. Michael was super excited because his two favorite players were standing next to each other, so he could get one picture with both of them in it.
We walked around a lot on Sunday and I went to the gym Saturday morning so I can't feel too bad about it, right?! We ended up going to Voodoo Doughnut. I wouldn't have gotten a donut on Thursday if I thought we would do this, but no way am I going to complain about two donuts in the span of four days.
Yes, it's a donut with Captain Crunch on it. It was good, but my favorite is still the Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate frosting, Oreo chunks, and peanut butter on top!).

On Sunday night, Michael and I went to the Blazers game against the Utah Jazz. It was sooo close at the end, so it was really nerve-wracking, but the Blazers pulled out the win!

On Monday, my sister-in-law was on the Today Show!!!! I've mentioned how she works for Farmgirl Flowers (and how they're the best!). She's been featured in articles and she was interviewed and on the local news (in California), but the Today Show?! It's so weird to see someone you know on TV (she was wearing a sunflower dress and a black leather jacket, in case you're curious)! I met the owner when Katie was in Portland with coworkers doing flowers for a wedding. We went out one night and Christina met up with us briefly. She was great. I can honestly say she's just as cheerful and passionate about her work as she seems in the clip!

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Favorites: Alliteration Edition

I started this post and had 'finances' and 'Fitbit' in my mind as categories, and of course 'Friday Favorites' is a nice alliteration, so I just ran with it. Enjoy my alliteration!

I know I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going up to Seattle for one night to go to a work meeting/dinner, and we'd find out if we hit the sales goal to receive bonuses. The good news is, we did! And we had a meeting two weeks ago to get our checks! We ended up getting the maximum bonus amount possible, and I swear I had calculated what it would be and it ended up being much more than I thought. I put a good chunk into our shared savings account (where we're saving for a down payment!) and some of it had to cover our taxes (I have to pay every year--I finally fixed it so my allowances are in line and now I'm also listed as married, so hopefully next year we actually get a return!) and the rest is going to help me pay off my credit card--finally! (I pay a good amount every month, but lately I just haven't been able to fully pay it; I always make much higher than the minimum payment, but I keep having a small balance roll over. So happy to get on top of this finally!)

UPDATE: I filed our taxes on Wednesday and ended up having to pay WAY less than we had estimated. I think we underestimated my student loan interest (because we were making similar payments not realizing I was set to pay mine off years after Michael) and we've also never had to file state taxes before since Washington didn't have income tax. Soo, we ended up getting a return for state taxes and owing about half of what I thought we'd owe for federal. The amount owed was greater than the return, but it was about a fifth of what we had estimated! Woo!

My credit limit was $500, because it's the first credit card I've ever had. It's through my credit union, not a big credit card company, so no credit history = low limit. The other day I called to increase my limit! (No, not so I can spend a ton of money, just so I can improve my credit score, which is already pretty dang good!) I never would've thought things like increasing my credit limit/score would make me so happy...but they do! #adulting

Since I know you're dying to know, so far the score on my gym membership cost-per-gym day and cost-per-class are $32.25 and $64.50. [I totally forgot to actually add this in, and realized at six a.m. when I was walking my dogs that I published this saying 'BLANK AND BLANK' and it had been up for six hours.]

I know, I know. I've been talking about Fitbit like a crazy person lately. But really, I'm just going to say if you want to be friends on Fitbit you can find me by searching! (I'm kind of hesitant in doing this because I've been on top of my friends this week, even this girl who runs marathons and usually has like 100K steps/week. I do have to admit that she must currently either not be training or have some sort of injury, because she's doing way fewer steps than I'm really not that impressive.)

I have been craving donuts for so long. I blame bloggers constantly posting pretty pictures of them. I worked from home Thursday, and I decided to treat myself to a donut and the new smoked butterscotch latte from Starbucks. And I of course had to take a blogger picture of my own.

Alison linked to this article written by a woman who lived on the Gilmore Girls diet for a week and it is great. At first I was like, "Pizza, burgers, and Pop Tarts?! Yeah!" and then I realized you would feel so so so horrible after a week of only that. The funniest part though? She lost two pounds doing this!

I think I started following Albion Fit on Instagram as part of a blog giveaway. They seriously have the cutest workout gear and swimwear, but I can't bring myself to buy online without being able to try on, and I doubt I could ship back for free if it didn't work out. (They're located in Utah.) I saw this swimsuit on Instagram and swooned!

And here is where I was going to post pictures of cute stuff I tried on at Target last night. Well, their leggings in a small are too tight on the the fabric is stretched to capacity and would probably be see-through during certain workout moves. But the medium is just too big in the waist. I just wish Old Navy had more fun, bright, patterned leggings. I feel like they always repeat the same ones. Target has super fun ones. I also tried on a couple swimsuits and realized that I prefer my shoulders and back to my chest/tummy, but I prefer the front of my legs to the back (when wearing a swimsuit anyway). So no matter which way someone sees me from, it's not great.

I tried on this bikini (top, bottom) and I love the colors and print, I love that the top is triangle (probably one of the easiest to wear for a flat chest, in my opinion), but I'm still not sure if I like how the high-waisted bottoms look on me. Like are these cute, or are they the swimwear equivalent of 'mom jeans' on me? I took a picture so I can look at it to try and figure it out and also ask Michael's opinion and never ever ever share on the blog. Ha! ;)

We have friends coming to town this weekend, and we're so excited! Michael's two best friends/roommates from college and one of their girlfriends are coming from Seattle. One of them has a hookup to stay in a hotel in the area for free. We live right on the border of three cities, and the hotel was in one of them and could've been miles and miles away, but it ended up being super close, so that's really convenient!

On Sunday, Michael and I are going to another Blazers game! I'm pretty excited to wear my Brandon Roy jersey that I got at this flea market type store for $12. And to eat stadium food. And a little bit to watch basketball. ;)

So there you have it, now I'm a finance/fitness/food/fashion blogger all rolled into one. Something for everyone, right?! Ha!

I'm linking up with AndreaErika, and Narci for Friday Favorites and Astleigh for The Pick.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Feeling Old & Nostalgic

Four years ago on February 11th, I flew from Portland, to LA, to Sydney. Facebook keeps showing me pictures I posted 'on this day four years ago' and I'm in disbelief that it was that long ago. It's so bittersweet; I really miss that time in my life, but I also love my life now.

I don't know if you know this, but this is not my first blog. I had a blog while I was in Australia for my friends and family at home to read. Apparently, I was much better at being brief back then. This is the post that most often pops into my head, mainly the line, "It was probably the best Valentine's Day of my life." Is it weird if I still think that? I wasn't with Michael at the time of course, and I'm so happy with him, but I just think it was a once in a lifetime Valentine's Day, you know?

Out of every picture I've ever taken, I think this is my favorite.


I am finally settled in in Macquarie University housing! So much has happened in the last four days...I feel like I've been here for a month already (in a good way).

Day 1:
Arrived at the airport in Sydney after about 36 hours of travel time total (including sitting in LAX for 9 hours). It was SO hot. We went to a hostel in Sydney at The Rocks (basically it's built on top of old architectural ruins). We had lunch on the deck and then took a three-hour walking tour of the city. We had dinner at the pizza place next to our hostel, The Australian Hotel, and I ate kangaroo pizza. It actually tasted exactly like chicken. And of course, we had to end the night with clubbing.

Day 2:
We left at 8 to go hiking in the Blue Mountains. On the way there we stopped at a wildlife center and got to pet koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies. I felt a little bad about eating kangaroo the night before at that point... The Blue Mountains has the steepest railway ride in the world (52 was terrifying) and we rode that down, then hiked back up. One portion of our walk is called the "1000 Stair Walk." Pretty intense. After that we went to an aboriginal center and saw some aboriginal dancing, painted boomerangs, and got our faces painted. The rest of the day was free, and we ate dinner and went out. It was probably the best Valentine's Day of my life.

Day 3:
We had some informational sessions, then the middle of our day was free. Most of us in the program took the ferry to Manly Beach, where a surf competition was taking place. It was gorgeous and soo nice. The water was ridiculously warm. After Manly, we had a dinner cruise, which was so much fun.

Day 4:
We left at about 9 for Macquarie, got our accommodations--I'm rooming with my friend from UPS, another girl in our program, and an Egyptian guy...we still don't know who the fifth roommate is--went shopping for the essentials, unpacked, and ate dinner. Later tonight we will go to The Ranch, which is the most popular pub in the area.

I cannot express how amazing these past few days have been...this post doesn't even begin to cover it. I love it here. Oh...and if you want to see pictures...they're all on Facebook.


In case you're interested, that blog is here. I'll be honest, I haven't read it in a couple years now, so I have no idea what you'll find. It may be more censored because I was posting it on Facebook for parents and former teachers and all to see, or it may be less censored because it was for people who I actually knew. Just a disclaimer.

I'm linking up with Annie and Natalie for Thoughts for Thursday and Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Confessions: Fitbit & Face Swap

I used to always go into the first stall in the bathroom at work, but since I started wearing my Fitbit again, I go into the last one. It probably gives me a maximum of ten steps per trip. #I'lltakewhatIcanget #Fitbitrulesmylife

I unfollowed another blogger based on her personal views. (I mentioned that I did so once before here.) It's none of you that comment regularly, so don't worry. It's also not a blog I read or commented on very regularly. #sorrynotsorry

We pretty much always have the TV on to try and distract Tully from noises outside because she's a barker. I usually immediately choose HGTV, and lately Love it or List it has been on a lot. Am I the only one who always always always hopes they list it? #TeamDavid #Iwouldn'tlistitthough #becausemovingsucks

Speaking of Tully barking like crazy, I mentioned that she wakes me up and keeps me up pretty often. My Fitbit told me I was getting like five hours of sleep, maximum. The window in our bedroom faces the sidewalk where people constantly walk by, so Tully will always put her paws on the windowsill, look out, and bark. We went ahead and moved our TV in front of the window so she can't do that anymore. It looks ridiculous, and you wouldn't normally want to cover your window, but we can't open the blinds anyway or she freaks out when she sees people. I'm sleeping so much better now, but the corner of the bedroom where the TV was before is super empty now...another trip to IKEA might be in order to fill the space. #needmybeautysleep #winning

I have to admit though, the first time Tully heard something and wanted to look out the window, it broke my heart. She started whining once she realized she couldn't get to the window. :( #softie #IloveyoubutIneedsleep #andforourneighborsnottocomplain

I went to Target after work on Monday to buy dog treats...but I couldn't resist checking out the swimwear and the activewear. Why does Target have so many cute swimsuits and the best fun patterned leggings?! I walked out of there with a wishlist a mile long. #damnyouTarget #takemymoney

Michael downloaded Face Swap, and the results are hilarious/horrific. He posted this picture on Facebook on Monday night. In every single one, his face with my hair looks like a total deadbeat weirdo. Michael hasn't had his hair cut since November...2014. He grew it out because he wanted to have a man bun, and eventually he wants to chop it all off and donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I told him it's a good thing he has curly hair, because his face with long straight hair is not a good look. #faceswap #terrifying

I got to the gym last night only to realize I forgot my socks. So, like a true champion, I just wore the Christmas socks I was already wearing. At first I just pushed them down as far as I could, but when I got on the treadmill I could feel them creeping up. I was super embarrassed about it. Before Zumba I took my shoes off and folded them over so they weren't as visible. #neverforgettingsocksagain #ChristmasinFebruary

Linking up with Laura and Lauren for #HashtagHumpday...
...and Nadine and Kathy for Confessions!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Galentine's Blogger Exchange Reminder!

So, I'm kind of a horrible blogger and totally forgot to remind you about the Galentine's Blogger Exchange deadline! If you signed up, the deadline to ship was February 12th, aka four days ago. So, if anyone missed the deadline, you can totally blame me. And don't forget, the link-up opens on the 26th! You can share what you got, what you gave, if you found other bloggers...just share whatever you want and link up with Olya and I! (The link-up will remain open for at least a week; you don't have to link up on the 26th!)

That's all for today! I wasn't planning on not having a post, but I'm way behind on replying to comments anyway so I think it works out. :)

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Favorites [2.15.16]

I really did plan on doing Friday Favorites last week, but Michael and I decided last minute to go out to dinner at Ox on Thursday night (so good!). We were deciding between Thursday and Friday, and I thought it'd be nice to get home from the gym on Friday and not have to reapply makeup, try to make myself not smell, or wear real clothes. Anyway, I was all ready to write a blog post when we got home...but we didn't get home until around ten and that is waaay too late for me.

So you get my Friday Favorites and weekend recap in one. If anyone reads every word of this post I would be shocked.

The weekend before this past one, my mom and I last minute decided to go shopping. I live eight minutes from the mall we used to always drive an hour to when I was in high school or home on breaks from college. My favorites from that shopping trip are Paige jeans and new bras.

Seriously, I was wearing the same bra for months, and it was waaay too loose so it would slide around and rub. It was so uncomfortable. A bra fitting and $142/two new bras later and I am feeling so much better. When we went to Nordstrom Rack I knew I wanted to try some designer jeans. I ended up with a pair of Paige jeans that fit pretty much perfectly with no alterations. That is the best feeling, and one I've only ever had with designer jeans. They're also so soft I almost feel like I'm wearing leggings. They were $80 (regularly $150+) and I used what I had left in gift cards ($16.10) and my mom paid the difference, so that was a nice surprise! Thanks, Mom!

I ordered this layered sweater recently. It was slashed from $64 to $16, and I've wanted a layered top like this forever. I've tried on like five, all of which I didn't love. This one is perfect and so soft! The back is so cute, but I am not a magician so I couldn't get a mirror picture of it. I'm glad they had a black option that I liked, since I don't have very much black in my closet and I tend to gravitate towards olive, gray, and navy. Basically this outfit was like wearing pajamas (minus the heels which are not all that comfortable). The sweater arrived Thursday night, so when I got back from the gym, I changed into it for our dinner out. I then wore this exact same outfit to work the next day. Don't tell anyone. I should've taken a picture of it the day I wore it to work because natural light, but Flora's butt is in this one which is fun, so there you go.

I saw this bag when my mom and I were at the Rack and I couldn't stop thinking about it so...after work on Monday, I returned a Nordstrom purchase and used some of the credit to buy the bag. I know I said I'm going for designer bags only, but this was regularly $90 which hopefully means good quality, plus it'll be perfect for summer.

Gym membership!
I finally ran out of free passes to the gym (they gave me two five-day passes; one was supposed to be for Michael because he happened to be with me, but I broke the rules and used both) so I started my membership on Thursday. It's $129 for an entire year and that includes classes. (Or $9.95/month but then you have to pay an annual fee so it ends up being slightly more than $129.) I'm going to keep track of the days I work out, including which days I do classes so I can calculate my cost-per-workout/cost-per-fitness class, because I've become a budgeting monster. I might even blog about it because, again, obsessed with discussing budgeting in any way, shape, or form. (Stephanie gets it.)

Missing my calling as a tooth model
This lady messaged my on my blog Facebook page the other day. I was super weirded out, and I texted Michael about it. I decided I'd do it if it was legit and he'd come with me, because getting paid for being a tooth model? Uh, sure. She made me send her pictures of my teeth...then at the end (from seeing super grainy horribly lit bathroom pictures) she concluded that I had a cavity and should go to Bright Now because they have the best dental services (and I couldn't be a tooth model because my teeth aren't healthy). Mhmm... I Google'd it and they're a chain and they tell you you need work done that you don't so they can make money. All of the locations around here have 1 star ratings, except for one that has 3. I tried Googling 'dental photographer' and 'dental photography' and all sorts of crap to see if anyone else had this happen to them, but I couldn't find anything. So there you go, if it happens to you, now you know. [Also super embarrassed I ever even thought this was remotely real. Judge me as hard as you want to, I know I am.]

Summer clothes!
I am 100% ready for summer, or at least spring. Sunday-Wednesday last week the weather was amazing. So then on Thursday, I wore a bright pink sleeveless floral top...and it rained. Clearly I need to check the weather report before I dress myself. Anyway, I randomly found the black romper below online last weekend and loved it. I got an alert via Polyvore that it was on sale, so now I'm tempted. Then I found the navy blue one because it was a 'suggested item.' Why do you do this to me, Nordstrom?! Which do you like better? They're both apparently in stock at my nearby Nordstrom, so I kind of want to go try them on (with my favorite summer shoes of all time that I can't wait to wear again).

I also found this dress a couple weeks ago and am eyeballing it, hoping for it to go on sale. The Nordstrom shoe department had so many great summer shoes. Some of my faves are these and these.

I'm obsessed with this swimsuit and this one! I love one pieces with interesting details. I have one currently, but I would totally add another. I think the part I'm most self-conscious about in a swimsuit is my stomach (which is actually not what I'm most self-conscious about when I wear literally anything else).

Getting back on the Fitbit Bandwagon
Remember how I lost my Fitbit Flex, bought a Fitbit Charge, I found my Flex, then my Charge got ran over? I finally started wearing my Flex again and I am loving it. But it just gives me further proof that my dogs are the spawn of Satan in the morning when they wake up and won't stop whining or barking or licking my face thirty minutes to an hour and a half before my alarm. Yeah. And Michael sleeps through all of it.
I didn't feel like putting my weight and body fat percentage (I haven't actually weighed myself in a long time, so it's outdated anyway) out there for the Internet to see. I also only logged my exercise on Friday because I used the stairclimber so I didn't get credit for steps. I'm kind of meh on logging exercise in Fitbit if the steps are already being calculated anyway.

Saturday Things
Saturday morning, a package arrived at my door. It was full of these Valentine goodies from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law! My sister-in-law works at Farmgirl Flowers and they are my favorite ever. They're located in San Francisco, but they ship nationwide. They offer one bouquet per week, and they only use flowers that are in season. So no, you can't choose a specific bouquet, but you get gorgeous, fresh flowers and the arrangements always look amazing.

Portland is extremely into brunch, so I insisted that we finally go. If you go to Yelp and search 'brunch' near 'Portland, OR' it is sooo overwhelming. There are pages and pages of high-rated brunch restaurants. We ended up going to Batter. I got chicken and waffles because I've been wanting to try them forever. 
So, they definitely overcooked my chicken. The people next to us had chicken and waffles and theirs was golden brown. But, it was still good. The balsamic maple syrup was amazing, and the buttermilk syrup almost tasted like caramel. Yum. Next time we go, I'll get a sweet one instead of savory. But I got a habanero/bacon/pineapple infused vodka Bloody Mary which was pretty delicious and meant I had a slight buzz when we decided to make a spur of the moment visit to IKEA.

We found a kitchen table! It was only $179 for the whole set and it actually looks much nicer than I'd expected we'd find. I also love how our apartment looks with the dining nook now filled. Plus being able to sit at a table finally is amazing.

We also saw Deadpool! I thought it was really funny and entertaining. It's pretty vulgar so I don't recommend it if you're easily offended.

Sunday Things
On Sunday we went for a hike! It was 3.5 miles and it only took us about an hour and fifteen minutes. It was a flat and easy one, so it's not that impressive. But I'm excited to know that we can hike even longer distances.

For dinner, Michael made a delicious ramen with rice noodles. It was perfect since I had been craving ramen or pho.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

On Loving Your Body

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw multiple bloggers--most all of which I followed on IG months and months ago (pre-blog, for the most part) for giveaway entries and haven't unfollowed--partnering with Target to talk about their swimwear and being confident while wearing it. I absolutely love body positivity, so I went to all of their blogs to check out their posts. A few didn't have an actual post to go with the Instagram photo, and out of the ones that did share a post, this one was hands down my favorite.

Though I don't regularly read Lacey's blog, I continue to follow her on Instagram (I've unfollowed lots of bloggers from my days of entering loop giveaways) because I love her outfits and she seems very real. She also seems very confident, so I never would've expected that she ever struggled with an eating disorder. I've actually read a few blogs about peoples' struggles with eating disorders in the past, and it makes me happy that they all seem to be thriving now (though I'm sure there are tough moments).

I've never had an eating disorder. I've counted calories exactly once in my life, and I kept a record in a Google doc. That was probably about two years ago and lasted for about a week, tops. I've never made myself throw up for any reason. I've never taken a laxative or overexercised. I've often eaten too much, or turned to unhealthy food because I'm bored or sad or just craving it, but I wouldn't say I've actually binged. I'm not trying to gloat or suggest that I'm better than anyone with an eating disorder, I'm trying to preface what I'm about to say about my feelings about my body. I believe that eating disorders and addictions are extremely serious, and anyone who gets through them with or without treatment is an extremely strong individual.

I'm not perfectly happy with my body, even though I want everyone to love their bodies. I want plus size models to keep doing their thing, and maybe some day they'll just be called 'models.' I want 'fat shaming' and 'skinny shaming' and any other kind of body shaming to be a thing of the past. But for some reason, I can't fully embrace it myself. I looked up body dysmorphic disorder, and it's serious. It is obsessive in nature and can negatively impact a person's day to day life. I definitely don't feel that strongly, but sometimes I wonder if what I'm seeing in the mirror is real or imagined.

I found this article and it was so hard to choose just one of the pictures to use for this post. I love all the quotes and the women who shared them. Also, if you search 'body positive' on Pinterest (which is how I found this article) some amazing things come up.

I'm pear-shaped. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror while wearing jeans and the size of my thighs and even my calves upsets me. I almost said disgusts, but it's not really that far. It just kind of makes me sad and think that I really need to keep up with the gym and eating healthy.

Sometimes I'll stand in front of our closet (the doors are wall-to-wall mirrors) in my pajama shorts before or after doing my mini arm workout with my weights. I'll think that my legs look short and stubby, that my calves and ankles are too close for they're almost cankles but not quite.

And then I'll wear a dress one day and catch a glimpse of myself in the window while I walk toward my apartment on my lunch break and think my calves look insanely long, lean, and toned. The same day, I'll see myself in the bathroom mirror at work and think my upper arm (a problem area for me) looks especially huge.

When I'm in a workout class watching myself in the mirror, I usually feel really good about my body and my size. Maybe because I know I'm doing something good for it?

A few months ago I said to Michael that I felt really good about my body (I'm pretty sure I used the word 'skinny' at the time, but that's not what anyone should strive for--we should strive to feel good about our bodies, not 'skinny') when I saw it reflected in a window while I was walking downtown, but that same day I looked at myself in the mirror in our apartment and was unhappy. He thought maybe we're harder on ourselves when we're on our own turf; that we're more comfortable to pick ourselves apart in our own home.

Are there borders we cross into a body-positive space and a body-negative space? Do I pick apart my body at home and at work because I spend the most time in those places?

Overall, it seems like my view of my body can be extremely distorted or inconsistent. It makes me wonder what my body really looks like. When other people look at me, do they see my best-case scenario or worst-case? I know that people probably aren't even paying much attention. But I'm curious and I don't think there's any way to tell what's real and what isn't without having some magical out-of-body experience.

I'm linking up with Annie and Natalie for Thoughts for Thursday, Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday, and Astleigh for The Pick.

Does your body confidence vary by location or day-to-day?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wedding Wednesday: What Went Wrong

Everyone says not everything will go as planned on your wedding day. I didn't really believe that, but there were some bloopers during our day. It wasn't anything too horrible, and I have to say, as the bride/groom, when relatively small things go wrong, you probably aren't going to care. Or maybe you'll care in the moment, but once it's over you'll totally leave it behind.

I have to give credit to Jessica who wrote a post like this one recently. I never would've thought of it otherwise. (Did you know we got married exactly a week apart?)

*You've seen this picture before, I just didn't want the post to be completely bare.

My bridesmaids and I who stayed in the same hotel the night before all agreed on a time to meet in the lobby on the morning of (it was early enough to go get Starbucks before heading to my parents' townhouse to get ready). One of my bridesmaids didn't show up right away and I kept calling and texting with no answer. I was so paranoid she was still asleep. I even had the hotel call the phone in her room. She showed up a few minutes later. Apparently she had been in the shower or in the bathroom getting ready. Her poor boyfriend was the one who got woken up. Oops!

I got our banquet permit months before the wedding. In the days leading up to it, we said to each other that we needed to remember to print it to give to the caterers. Did that happen? No. So while I was getting ready at the townhouse, Michael called me frantically asking for it. I didn't have my laptop, and it wouldn't work on my phone or an iPad because I couldn't search G-Mail fully. Luckily after about five minutes of me hyperventilating and probably acting like a bridezilla, I found it and forwarded it to Michael. (I'm pretty sure Michael called again during that time that I was looking for it which DID NOT help. I had to yell at him that I was looking as fast as I could. Oy.)

It was also pouring while Michael, some of his family, the wedding planner, and the groomsmen set up the reception space. Michael was carrying his phone in his pocket got water damage.

When we decided to get married in the Catholic Church (because Michael's dad is a deacon, and he can only perform a marriage in the Church) we found out that they only let you use their songs for your entrance. I assumed this meant I wouldn't be able to walk down the aisle to the Bridal Chorus. I was really bummed out because if I was going to have a 'traditional' wedding (I never really pictured myself getting married in a church), then that's the song I would want to walk down to. Turns out, that is an approved song so I got to use it! I chose a song for the bridesmaids and groomsmen to walk down to and I was going to walk down to Bridal Chorus. Well, the organist just completely missed his cue. My dad and I waited and waited because we thought maybe he would get it, but nope. We ended up just walking down to the bridesmaids music. You'd think I'd be really upset because it was such a big deal to me that I got to choose the classic song, but once I started walking I realized it really didn't matter.

Before the music got messed up, we had another issue with the church. I'm going to note that we had a wedding planner and she was amazing. Most churches have their own wedding coordinator, and your wedding planner kind of has to take a backseat to them. Our wedding was the first one done by the wedding coordinator by herself...and she was horrible. We had to bring checks to pay the musicians the day of the wedding. She came to where I was waiting for the ceremony to start frantically asking for their checks. I had someone go find my mom to bring me my checkbook, no big deal. But then this lady just went around frantically asking anyone and everyone for money for the musicians! I was already handling it. Michael's cousin's husband almost gave her money because he had cash on him. I thought that was extremely unprofessional of her, not to mention ridiculous. (Okay, this part kind of irks me now, but on the day of, once the checks were handed to her, I let it go right away.)

Another thing that happened prior to the wedding when we met with the lady who works in the office (not the wedding coordinator) was that she insisted we have the best man and maid of honor to sign our marriage license. We were going to have our moms do it, because we each had two best men/maids of honor. She said she "had never done it another way and didn't know if the state would accept it." Umm, the state doesn't care who signs it, as long as it's signed. But we just said fine, whatever, and picked one maid of honor and one best man to sign it, and figured on the day of we would just have our moms do it anyway. But she wrote in their we were screwed. I just thought it was pretty ridiculous she thought the state would care at all, especially since some people get married without a wedding party.

Michael lost his apartment keys at some point during the wedding day. In the first few days after the wedding, we looked everywhere, and then gave up and I went to the leasing office to have keys made (which costs $60). Later that day, Michael's dad called and told us that the rental car company called him and said they found keys in the car. I called to cancel our new key order as she was just about to put it in, so luckily we didn't have to pay for those.

I'm linking up with Macy for Wedding Wednesday.

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