Northwest Native: January 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Favorites: I don't even know where to start.

FIRST THINGS FIRST. You may have heard about a little exchange going on. I included it in last week's Friday Favorites and since I'm lazy I am pasting the exact same thing here. The last day to sign up is TOMORROW! So make sure to sign up if you want to participate!

I am so excited about this. After Olya and I hosted the Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange, sooo many participants said they wanted to do another one. Well, good news! The Galentine's Blogger Exchange is a go! Important dates and details are below.

Sign-ups close: January 30th
Partners assigned: February 1st
Ship by: February 12th
Link-up opens: February 26th

Last time a lot of people didn't realize there was a link-up and were apologetic. It was totally fine that not everyone linked up, but I loved reading about what people got, so make sure if you post about it to add it to the link-up!

The minimum (before shipping) is $20 and the maximum (before shipping) is $30.

The exchange is only open to the US and Canada, and if we only get two Canadians like we did last time (or if we only get one), we will ask if people are okay with shipping to Canada/the Canadians are okay shipping to the US so they don't have to have each other! (You don't get a gift from the same person you're sending a gift to!)

I also wanted to note that you should enter the exchange at your own risk. Last time we had at least one participant who didn't receive a gift, which was very disappointing. Please please please make sure if you sign up, you send a gift to your person. I can't guarantee that everyone will, but I'm really hoping for 100% participation. I don't want anyone to get snubbed.

Click here to sign up!

ANOTHER FIRST THING FIRST. Remember how Julie and I had this link-up called Tell Us About It and we definitely ended up skipping January? WELL, it's back and better than ever! First of all, Katie is joining in on the fun! Second of all, we actually have posts and dates planned all the way through the end of the year! The first one is on Monday, so I know this is late notice but it will be really fun! The topic is girls nights, chick flicks, and cocktail recipes! (Because Valentine's Day isn't all about couples!) The list of topics for the rest of the year is below.
Here's our graphic you can include in your post! Link back to one or two or all three of us in your post and add it to the linkup on one of our blogs!

I've been toying with the idea of dyeing my hair red for a while now. I know I mentioned it on the blog in the past. Recently, when I've gone to the grocery store, I've lingered in the hair dye aisle, looking at the pictures on the back to see what color my hair would come out as. But then I walk away. Well, every time I bring it up to Michael he always tells me to just do it. So when we went grocery shopping on Monday, I bought a box. Michael's actually the one who found the color. My natural hair color has a definite red tint already, but I was still scared about being fully red. Michael grabbed this very light red, and I went with it because I didn't want it to be overwhelming. Honestly, you can't even tell in pictures. You can barely tell in person, but since it's my hair, I can. Michael did say it makes my eyes look even greener and I would agree. Also it looks more red when I wear olive green too. (The bottom layer of my hair is darker because of less sun exposure and that didn't even change color at all I'm pretty sure.) I think I'm going to stick with it though! And maybe eventually I'll get brave enough to do a more intense red. We'll see.
*Side note: I've dyed my hair twice before, dark reddish brown (waaay too dark for my skin tone; hindsight is 20/20) and this was definitely harder. I missed some spots close to my roots, or the dye just didn't take there or something. I think this will take a few tries to perfect.

I loved reading your comments on this post! It was reassuring knowing that some of you feel the same way about certain things. And just know--I wasn't talking about anybody who commented on the post! I had a few people throw out in their comment that they hoped I wasn't talking about them and I've replied to most, but there were some no-reply bloggers. So anyway: I wasn't talking about you!

Good mail days are always my favorite. Remember how I mentioned I ordered this nightstand, this lamp, and this lamp? They were scheduled to be delivered either Friday or Saturday, and the blue lamp and my nightstand arrived on WEDNESDAY! I got home and I had those two packages on my doorstep, plus my Blazers hoodie (that I was expecting) and then my two dresses from Nordstrom that were scheduled for Friday or Saturday were waiting for me in our apartment's office building (I'm returning them though--see yesterday's budget post). How often does that happen?! Early deliveries are the best. (Except that the gold lamp arrived last night and it's broken. The first lamp was packed with sooo much padding and this one was just in a box, basically.)

You know that gym membership I said I was going to get? Still hasn't happened. But I have two five-day passes and I finally went for the first time on Tuesday night. I used the treadmill and the stair stepper (stepper or climber? is there a difference?) and learned that I have absolutely no idea how to use whatever stair device it was that I used. But I'm writing this on Wednesday and my legs have an awesome soreness and I feel so good! I'm going to use up my nine other free gym visits and then finally get myself a membership!

Love Yourself by Justin Bieber. I know, I know...this isn't new. Way back on Christmas Eve, Michael, his sisters, his dad (kind of) and I sang butchered this song at the top of our lungs. I blame the wine. The other day, Michael was playing it and I said, "That line about his mom is such a huge burn." [The line is: "My momma don't like you and she likes everyone."] Like really, I can't think of a worse burn. And Michael said, "It's weird in the song though" and I was like WHAT?! That is totally relevant to the song. He's talking about how horrible this girl was and he couldn't see it until later. Sheesh. Anyway, hands down favorite line of one of my favorite songs (that has been going strong for over a month).

This may not look super appetizing, but it was sooo delicious. Roasted sweet potatoes topped with ground chicken and black beans (cooked with Mexican seasonings) with green salsa on top! Michael said it was one of the best things I've ever made. To that I say anything with sweet potatoes is the best ever.

You know what isn't my favorite? Student loans. You know what really isn't my favorite? Michael and I were discussing expenses (because I keep stressing about money in my account and he doesn't--because I was paying like double the expenses he was paying per month, which we're finally going to work out) and I thought his student loan payment was like $50 less per month than mine. Nope, it's more like $10. So I was is that possible? My loans were $10,000 more than his. I looked at my account and while Michael is on pace to pay off his student loans in eight years...I'm on pace for...wait for it...2033. Are you serious?! And it's impossible to figure out how to change your payment plan online, so I've decided it's time for me to start just making extra payments on my loans each month. Yay debt!

You know what else isn't my favorite? When my groceries just up and vanish. No, really. I've been eating a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter every day for breakfast basically since we moved. I have no idea why I started, but seriously, I can't get sick of it. I love it. Anyway, at the grocery store on Monday I bought two packages because they were on sale and I put them both in the fridge because the sell by date was too soon to leave one out. Wednesday morning there was only one package in there!!! They're packages of six, so I had only eaten two at that point. I asked Michael and he had no idea. I checked the crisper drawers, I checked every single cupboard. Strangely, the opened one is the one that went missing. So maybe I accidentally threw them in the garbage Tuesday morning when I wasn't thinking because it was before six a.m.? No idea. (Or maybe I'm sleepwalking again. When I was little I sleepwalked three times, one of which I put one of my shirts in my parents' room and the matching shorts in the garbage.)

Sorry I wrote a novel again. Apparently I just have a lot of feelings (hashtag Mean Girls reference).

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

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

January Budget [2016]

It's the first budget post of 2016! I mentioned this before in my 2016 resolution post, but last year when I started this blog, I started posting my shopping budget monthly. I didn't have a set amount for a clothing budget at that point, because I had never tracked it, so I didn't even know what range it should be in. After reviewing my 2015 posts, I settled on $1,200 over the year for my 2016 budget. I'm going to go with the annual budget rather than quarterly or monthly, because maybe one month out of the year I spend $300 and three months out of the year I spend nothing. It just makes the most sense in my mind to do it this way. Any money I make via eBates, Splender, and ThredUp will be added to my budget. Purchases made with gift cards also will not count toward the $1,200 total.

I thought I'd start the post by laying out what I have right now in terms of my $1,200 budget, gift cards, and any eBates/Splender/ThredUp money.

$1,200 - Annual budget
$308.69 - Nordstrom gift cards
$100 - JCPenney gift card (this may be spent on something other than clothes for me; if I end up using it for something else that will be reflected in a later budget post)
$22.18 - Old Navy gift card
$20 - Old Navy credit card rewards
$5.90 - ThredUp
$1,656.77 - Maximum budget amount available

january 2016 budget
Mesh Panel Compression Leggings // $32.94 - 30% off = $23.06

High-Rise Patterned Compression Leggings // $34.94 - 30% off = $24.46
Go-Warm High-Rise Compression Leggings // $32.94, on sale for $26 - 30% off = $18.20
So clearly I went on a leggings binge! I absolutely love Old Navy's compression leggings. I have a pair of cropped ones and I wanted some full-length leggings to workout and hike in (my Zella leggings are reserved for everyday wear). I've never tried their high-rise leggings, but I think I'll like it. I'm not a low-rise kind of girl. I am, however, hoping to return at least one pair if not two--three pairs seems kind of excessive. I was going to wait until February to place an Old Navy order because I have $5 super cash for then, but I couldn't pass up 18% cash back through eBates!

Loose-Fit X Back Tank // $16.94, on sale for $7
I don't have many workout tops and this one was cheap, a tank, and had a fun back, so I grabbed it. If it's just 'meh' I won't be too upset about returning it.

Sleeveless Turtleneck Sweater Dress // $48, on sale for $28.80 returning

Stripe Ribbed Body-Con Dress // $48, on sale for $28.80 returning
I found both of the above dresses about a week ago and loved the look of them. I'd love to wear the first one with my cognac booties. The second one has a cutout in the back that is really fun--but I wouldn't be able to wear it to work without wearing something over it, and I'm not sure if I have anything that works. We'll see if I even like them in person! I will definitely be returning at least one of these because while they're not the exact same, they're too similar for me to have both in my closet. I didn't expect to receive these before this post went up! I wasn't a fan of the turtleneck dress. I feel like it wasn't flattering on my stomach, the lining was way shorter than the overlay and it felt awkward, plus it just seems too wintery and I'm ready for warmer weather. I absolutely loved the look of the striped dress, and I would keep it if I could wear it to work. I just know I wouldn't wear it enough on weekends to justify it. If the back wasn't open (which is, ironically, the thing that drew me to it in the first place) I would absolutely be keeping it.

Ruched Cami Sports Bra // $14.94, on sale for $8
The sports bra was a great deal and I just need to get rid of some of my old ones. A perk of being a member of the IBTC (see this post by Dani for an explanation if you're confused) is that I can wear light support sports bras.

Portland Trailblazers Hoodie // $53.39 - paid with gift card = $0
I didn't include this in the collage because I figured most of you aren't Blazers fans, but they do have other teams. I've wanted this for a while and it retails for $65, so when I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas and saw that this was cheaper on Amazon, I jumped on it. (I didn't include my Amazon gift card in my budget calculation above because I don't normally buy clothing from Amazon.)

Adidas Diablo Small Duffel // $17.99 + $5.95 shipping - paid with gift card = $0
I pretty much do everything in my power not to pay shipping...but most other duffel bags with Prime shipping started at $25, so it was cheaper anyway. I don't know if I would've included this in my budget had I not used a gift card since it's a necessity. I may or may not have. Anyway, it sounds like a pretty small bag, but from the reviews it should be sufficient for gym clothes and shoes. Also it is adorable! I know it's just a gym bag, but you know what Marie Kondo says (I haven't read the book, but I've read it on a ton of blogs) should spark joy. And navy blue with mint green polka dots definitely sparks joy for me!

I used my $20 Old Navy credit card rewards (and somehow totally forgot to use my gift card...) so my grand total this month before any returns comes to $118.32. After the return of the two dresses, my total is $60.72. That brings my annual budget amount remaining to $1,139.28.

I also just found this beautiful rose gold Kate Spade bag on crazy don't be surprised if I jump on that before the month is over and it shows up in my budget next month. If I have to return everything but one pair of leggings (and my Amazon purchases since I used a gift card) to get this purse I would. (I was eyeballing this gold one, and it's the same shape, plus I think the rose gold is more unique--not to mention $140 cheaper!) [Edit: I'm just going to admit that after I found this bag on Wednesday I couldn't stop thinking about it and knew I'd regret it if it sold out so I ordered it. But I'm too lazy to update the post so it'll be included in February's budget.]

$1,139.28 - Annual budget remaining
$308.69 - Nordstrom gift cards
$100 - JCPenney gift card
$22.18 - Old Navy gift card
$0 - Old Navy credit card rewards
$5.90 - ThredUp
$1,576.05 - Maximum budget amount available

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

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wedding Wednesday: Reception - Part 1

Unfortunately, I think these are going to be my least favorite pictures. I'll tell you why. I was having a blast the entire day/night of our wedding, so I didn't think about 'freshening up' and no one said, "Hey you should powder your face." I have combination skin, but my face getting oily throughout the day is my biggest problem. I just feel like my face is sooo shiny in the reception photos and it makes me sad.

We had a Mexican food buffet catered by Seasoned in Seattle and it was amazing. We went to a tasting of theirs and loved everything, plus their prices are great, so we knew we'd use them...and we went to a second tasting just to be able to eat their food again. ;) After we finished our pictures, we had fifteen minutes of alone time and those delicious tequila lime shrimp and corn shooters were waiting for us, along with a glass of prosecco for me and cider for Michael. It was fabulous.

I posted some picture of our cupcakes in my details post, but I don't think I posted a full shot. We had mini cupcakes from Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co and a gluten free vanilla cutting cake from them. (I've never had a better vanilla cake.) The top tier are gluten free chocolate strawberry, next is french toast, then Mexican chocolate, and the bottom tier is pancakes 'n bacon (best ever) and pumpkin spice. Their frosting is super light and whipped, which is how I like it.

Grand entrance! (Seriously, my hair is absolutely nuts after that wind.)

Can you tell I was starving from hardly eating anything all day? My smile in these pictures is almost as big as the ones from our first look and ceremony! Ha!

You know, just making the rounds. (Side note: I had multiple people compliment me on my shoulder blades that day. I mean it's always nice to be complimented, but it was definitely a unique compliment to receive. Ha!)

Toasts! The best men went up at the same time, but they each gave a speech one after the other. My maids of honor (they're sisters) went up at the same time and they had rehearsed banter. It was seriously all laid out and so embarrassing. Let's just say my mom gave them free reign to my bedroom which contains journals from when I was younger...and yikes. Apparently I wrote a poem called, "Boys" and it went something like, "Some are mean, some are dumb, some are babies who suck their thumbs..." and so on. And then I went on to list who was in what category in my school. My choice for the 'cute' category? Aaron Carter. That's good taste, right there. Anyway, I was crying from laughter, and I think I turned to Michael multiple times and said, "It's a good thing you married me before you heard all this so you can't call it off!" Our moms gave toasts next, and they were both so heartwarming. Oh, and how disgusted/snobby do I look in that first picture?! Hahaha. I have no idea why I made that face, but I had to include it because it makes me laugh.

^^Best picture of the entire wedding, hands down. But really, we have this framed (along with five other wedding pictures) in a big frame above our fireplace.
After we cut the cake and had plates we seriously started walking away and the photographer was like, "Wait, aren't you going to feed each other?" Hahaha, oops!

All right, I thought I was going to do the whole reception in one post, but I think splitting it up is for the best. See you next week for part two!

I'm linking up with Macy for Wedding Wednesday.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Worst Thing That Could Ever Happen

Do you know what can ruin my day? Break my spirits? Make me simultaneously totally distraught and really really really want to throw or hit something? Scuffs, scratches, snags, and tears.

I know, I know, those things are hardly the worst thing that could ever happen, as my title suggests. So before everyone comments and says 'how dare you say that blah blah blah' please know that I am being facetious (and also super intellectual because I just used the word facetious for the first time ever). I am being serious about it upsetting me, and in some cases, putting a damper on my whole day, but I do realize that there are much worse things.

I take very good care of my clothes. I don't immediately hang up every item of clothing I have. Sometimes I just can't bear to take those thirty seconds and put something away properly. But if I'm not hanging something up, I'm surely not just throwing it on the floor to get stepped on, chewed on by dogs, or lost under the bed or in a black hole.

Last week, I was wearing my very favorite booties--that I missed out on in 2014 and had to wait a whole year to buy--when there was an uneven portion of sidewalk (right outside my apartment! that I've walked tons of times with no problem!) and it left a huge scuff mark on the left toe. I seriously wanted to cry. And find some gloves and a punching bag. And my stomach dropped.

I got to work and immediately Google'd ways to fix it. There was something on Lauren Conrad's site so I thought I struck gold. Except all of the tips were for buffing scuffs out of patent leather. Or if the boots are black, fill the scratch in with a Sharpie! My boots are not black. And I don't think they make cognac Sharpies, Lauren Conrad!

But this isn't just about the booties. Anything I own with a relatively open weave I guard with my life. My dogs like to jump on us when we get home. (I know everyone will say, "Just train them not to" so I'm going to cut you off right there--I love that they do it because it shows how excited they are...but I hate the result.) One of my dogs also likes to scratch your feet when she's excited. She once did that when I was wearing a pair of my boots for one of the very first times. After that experience, I keep my feet far from her paws when she's excited (whether they're bare--ouch--or in pretty shoes).

The other day I was wearing a shirt I love and got oil on it cooking in the kitchen (note to self: always change into pajamas or a Hazmat suit before cooking). Except maybe not just any pajamas...because I was wearing a white nightshirt I got for Christmas the other day and got dirt on the sleeves when I was wiping my dogs' muddy paws with a towel. (I'll admit, wearing brand new white anything does not go hand-in-hand with wiping muddy paws...that was totally my fault--but it doesn't make it hurt any less!)

I could go on and on. I've known a lot of people who don't treat their clothes with care. I'll look at Michael's laundry sometimes and see random stains or holes at the seams or snags and if I show him he shrugs it off.

Basically, I'm writing this to see if this happens to anyone else. I'm not asking for a psychological analysis or for you to tell me there are much more important things in life (because as I said, I know). I'm just curious.

Lastly, if you take a shoe to a shoe repair place (honestly I'm just thinking Nordstrom) can they fix a scratch on leather? I've had them replace heel taps in boots before but I don't know if they do things like scratches.

I'm linking up with Sweet Little Ones for Tuesday Talk.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Weekend Recap: Basketball & Virgins

I figured I should address the title right away, because you're probably all thinking to yourself, "Virgins? What in the world?" It's a simple explanation, really. I finished Gossip Girl on Friday night (finale was so underwhelming--I mean, I already knew who Gossip Girl was from Facebook spoilers when the finale aired, but still) so I decided to start Jane the Virgin because I've heard great things. It is SO good! I especially love the narration.

Did you see my post on Sherry's blog? I hinted in my Friday Favorites that maybe I'd get to be featured in her series, Style Bloggers Love Budgeting, and I was...yesterday! It's seriously my new favorite blog series because I am obsessed with budget posts. My post is here!

On Friday night, Michael made lasagna with leftover gluten free lasagna noodles that my brother gave us. We have our Christmas celebration with my father at my my brother Kyle's house, and this year he decided to make gluten free (so Michael could eat it) lasagna. (If you're gluten free, I recommend Tinkyada! They tasted just like regular lasagna noodles. My brother got them at a local health food store, but I Google'd and you can find their stuff on Amazon, Wal Mart's website, and a few online health food stores.)

On Saturday, we had tickets to the Blazers game. Funny story, when we were back in Seattle, Michael bought the tickets for $60 each from a coworker who has season tickets, but is a Spurs fan, so she goes to all Spurs games and a select few others. Well, Kobe announced pretty recently that he's retiring after this season, and this was his last game in Portland. So our tickets ended up being worth like $150 each after his announcement! It was insane how many Lakers fans were there. It was a mix of people booing every time Kobe got the ball, and people cheering every time he made a basket. There were even some chants from Lakers fans at the end trying to get Kobe out to play again. I don't really care about Kobe, but Michael was a huge fan when he was little. But we were both happy that the Blazers won.

Blazers games are my favorite sporting events, but most sporting events I really only go to so I can get good unhealthy (overpriced) food. They have some really great stadium food there, but I had to go with pizza because I hardly get to have it anymore with Michael being gluten free. I had to take a picture of this because it's the best food pyramid I've ever seen.

On Sunday I got my library card, purged a few more items from my closet and elsewhere in our apartment, and exhausted myself and this cutie on a walk.
You may have seen this on Instagram, but I had to post it here because this is probably my favorite picture of Tully ever.

And that's really all that's worth noting. Except I made Moscow Mules using this Moscow Mule syrup and these giant cocktail ice cubes my sister and her boyfriend got us for Christmas and they were delicious and I felt super fancy.

How was your weekend?

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Style Bloggers love Budgeting

Hey all! I know I don't normally post on Sundays, but I'm being featured on Sherry's blog today! She started a series called Style Bloggers love Budgeting and I'm so excited that she asked me to participate!

You can check out my post here and Sherry's post that kicked off the series here!

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Favorites: Everything but the kitchen sink.

My Friday Favorites lately have been kind of lackluster. Apparently I was just saving alllll my favorites for this post, because I have a lot of them for you today! As usual, I'm linking up with AndreaErika, and Narci, and I'm also joining Astleigh for The Pick!

Car Coats/Stadium Coats
I absolutely love my most recent coat purchase (that I've posted about before)--it has large buttons, a skirted hem, a tie belt, and a (comically large) hood. But I've also been seeing a lot of car coats (or stadium coats?)--basically single-breasted coats with no hood that come to mid-thigh (thanks, Google!). I really like the look of ones where the buttons don't show or there aren't any. I have a lot of money in Nordstrom gift cards, but I wanted to save that for a purse... Why couldn't I have put one of these on my Christmas list?! If I do end up buying a coat, I have two in my closet that aren't getting wear that I would get rid of.
car coats/stadium coats
One - Two - Three - Four - Five
I like the idea of a coat like this in a tomato red or burgundy color. Ivory or blush would be pretty, but knowing me they'd be dirty after thirty seconds. Plus I kind of think they may wash me out. My favorites are four and five.

Home Makeover
On Sunday night I came home, took down Christmas, and put our decor and some other stuff in our storage coffee table. We set up our new chair where the Christmas tree was and I just feel like it looks so clean (which makes me so happy)! I am wondering if I subconsciously started seeing the Christmas decor as clutter, or if I just put away more stuff than I realized. Either way, I'm loving it! We already had the table we put next to the chair from a home store local to my parents.
My next order of business is a nightstand for myself (finally!), a lamp for my nightstand, and a lamp for the table next to the chair. I finally measured, and the nightstands I found on Amazon are too wide, so I'll have to use my gift card from Christmas on something else! I did find a nightstand that is the right size and I absolutely love at Target though! We have a $50 gift card from the wedding, plus I could cash in my Swagbucks for a $25 gift card, and right now it's 15% off if you spend over $ 5% off what's left with my REDcard (not to mention cash back at eBates if I order online...). I'm thinking the turquoise lamp for my nightstand (I think it'd be at least a decent match for our bedding) and the gold lamp for the table in our living room. (Update: I did it. Can't wait until a week from today when my order is set to arrive!)
home stuff

New Library Card
I still haven't gotten a library card since moving. I'm planning to join a gym, but I can't run on a treadmill or use an elliptical without having a Kindle book to read, and if I'm paying for the gym membership, shouldn't I be getting the books for free from the library?! #logic

We live in a weird area; most of Portland is in Multnomah County, but we have a Portland address in Washington County because technically we live in Beaverton, but the street we live on is a Portland street. I finally checked and found out that we are eligible for library cards in Beaverton since we live in Washington County and I am determined to go get one this weekend!

This sweatshirt is one of the best things I've ever seen. It's a little steep price-wise in my opinion...I might just have to watch to see if it goes on sale! I looked for the brand elsewhere and they have some really fun graphic tees and sweatshirts. I really love this 'gimme pizza' one because it totally reminds me of an Olsen twins sleepover movie. I hope that was on purpose. And I hope you guys know what I'm talking about.

I also love this sweater with the Seattle skyline on it! I know I don't live in Seattle anymore, but I'll always love it. Some people take the Portland/Seattle rivalry very seriously but honestly, they are very different in some ways but in others they are exactly the why hate one of them? I love them both! However, I meant what I said--I need to cut back on sweaters. If it went on sale for like half of the current sale price, I would probably do it.

Kylo Ren cat!!! This cat in New Jersey went viral when someone realized it looks exactly like Adam Driver. Let me tell you, if this cat was in Portland I would've adopted it immediately and told Michael he could deal with his allergies. #wifeofthecentury

Blogger Love
I loved this post about budgeting by Sherry. For the six hundredth time, reading budget posts fascinates me, and I love to write my budget posts as well. I love all the questions about budgeting that go more in-depth than a regular monthly budget posts that just lays out what someone bought. Maybe I'll be guest posting for this series one day... ;)

Galentine's Blogger Exchange!
I am so excited about this. After Olya and I hosted the Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange, sooo many participants said they wanted to do another one. Well, good news! The Galentine's Blogger Exchange is a go! Important dates and details are below.

Sign-ups close: January 30th
Partners assigned: February 1st
Ship by: February 12th
Link-up opens: February 26th

Last time a lot of people didn't realize there was a link-up and were apologetic. It was totally fine that not everyone linked up, but I loved reading about what people got, so make sure if you post about it to add it to the link-up!

The minimum (before shipping) is $20 and the maximum (before shipping) is $30.

The exchange is only open to the US and Canada, and if we only get two Canadians like we did last time (or if we only get one), we will ask if people are okay with shipping to Canada/the Canadians are okay shipping to the US so they don't have to have each other! (You don't get a gift from the same person you're sending a gift to!)

I also wanted to note that you should enter the exchange at your own risk. Last time we had at least one participant who didn't receive a gift, which was very disappointing. Please please please make sure if you sign up, you send a gift to your person. I can't guarantee that everyone will, but I'm really hoping for 100% participation. I don't want anyone to get snubbed.

Click here to sign up!

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

I care what you think.

...but my name isn't Blurryface.
Have you heard this song? It comes on the radio quite often, and it just resonates with me so strongly. I don't often feel like top 40 pop songs speak to my soul, but this one even inspired a blog post!

Actually, I've thought about doing this post, or one like it, for a long time. But this song gave me the direction I needed to get it right.

I'm an introvert. I'm a people pleaser. I'm anxious in many social situations. I struggle when meeting new people if I don't have an 'in.' I crave approval.

I decided to start a blog, and although I rolled my eyes at bloggers talking about 'the blogging community,' I eventually realized that they're right. I've 'met' so many great people (some I really have met in person!). When I meet these bloggers in person, it isn't like meeting a random stranger. I have my 'in,' and that 'in' is that we already know each other, even if it's only virtual. I assume it would be the same with any of you. But if I met one of you randomly without the 'in' of blogging or a mutual friend or some reason that threw us together for an extended period of time, a friendship probably wouldn't blossom because of my social anxiety.

I consider many of my blog friendships to be real friendships. If it's a blog that I read and comment on regularly and they're only commenting because I commented on their post, then maybe not. Sometimes I can tell when this is happening. There was one blog in particular where I just enjoyed reading her blog, but I noticed this pattern like clockwork every time I commented. Now I very rarely read and never comment.

I also hope that on days that I'm too busy to comment on a blog friend's post (or even read it) that they wouldn't begrudge me if they read my post and commented that day even though I didn't do the same.

A few months ago, a blogger said something in her post that really rubbed me the wrong way. It was a personal view of hers, and I of course believe that everyone has the right to their own opinion, but I so vehemently disagree with this opinion that I unfollowed her on Bloglovin'. A few weeks later, she followed me on BL (she wasn't following me before). So...I felt guilty and followed back. I started reading and commenting...but then I stopped again after thinking it through. She still occasionally comments on my blog, and then I feel guilty all over again. I don't have to please everyone, do I? But that's my nature. I don't want to disappoint anyone or come off bitchy or cold. I am absolutely Monica from Friends. I want to please people and I crave approval. But should I care? Should I be able to stop reading a blog because of a personal reason and not look back?

I clean up my language on the blog. I know I've mentioned that in the past. I cuss pretty often in person, actually...but I try not to offend anyone. I'm guessing this has something to do with my wanting to please people and to get the approval I crave. But does the number of page views outweigh saying what I really would say out loud? Cussing isn't really a huge deal. It's not actually necessary, it's just a habit for me at this point. But there are other things I also don't say.

I don't talk about politics or any issues surrounding them. I don't talk about religion. I don't talk about my personal view on hot-button issues. I guess I'm afraid to lose page views and followers and commenters...but is that compromising myself? Or is it okay to avoid those kinds of topics? My brother and my sister's boyfriend got into an argument about politics at our family Christmas and it was so uncomfortable. Should I continue to keep my mouth shut about these things so I don't have to be uncomfortable? I absolutely hate confrontation. I don't have to defend my beliefs, but if someone commented challenging me, I don't think I could stop myself. [Except I will say that Donald Trump is a joke of a candidate and I don't feel nervous/bad about that at all--but I'm also not the first or second or third blogger I've seen say that, so I think that has a lot to do with it.]

So there you have it. I'm an introvert. I'm a people pleaser. I'm anxious in many social situations. I struggle when meeting new people if I don't have an 'in.' I crave approval. Nice to meet you. Who are you?

Linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wedding Wednesday: Bride & Groom Formals

After all of our group photos were done, it was time for some bride and groom formals! I was freezing so we made it pretty quick, which I totally appreciated! I also really appreciated when Brooks (our photographer) had Michael pose with his arms or jacket around me for the extra warmth!

I was starving after this, so I was really excited we were heading to a private room for fifteen minutes of alone time to talk and eat some delicious appetizers they had set aside for us. Next week I'll get to the reception, I promise.

I'm linking up with Macy for Wedding Wednesday.

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