Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year's Eve Outfit

We've reached the last Friday's Fancies of the year! Of course that means creating the perfect outfit for a New Year's Eve bash. We're going to hang out with our neighbors this year (with their kids wearing PJ's) so I won't be wearing anything extravagant. Therefore, this outfit is purely aspirational.

J. Crew earrings and bracelet, Ralph Lauren booties,
Modcloth top, Ann Taylor mixed sequin mini skirt
I decided to base my outfit on my current nail polishes of choice and new sequin skirt! Start with Zoya's Jane (a light blush pink) and top with gold glitter nail polish a la Glitter Guide. I use Gap's New Years Party, but that was from ages ago. We're talking high school.

For a little more about Zoya, it's a Cleveland-based company that creates and sells healthy nail polish. Zoya's 300-plus nail polish shades are all formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and camphor free and vegan friendly. The cutting-edge formula has also won a Women's Health Magazine independent panel award for longest-lasting polish.

Mieko, Angella, Gweneth, and Jane

All I knew when I picked Angella for my first manicure in high school was that it was a pretty, shimmery pink. Now I can say that it's fiscally chic.

By the way, if you're looking for a good sparkling wine to toast 2012, I recommend a bottle of Segura Viudas Brut Reserva. It's a Spanish cava and is about $8/bottle. Per Segura Viudas, "The aromas are of white fruits, citrus and tropical fruits, and light floral notes. The palate is exquisite, complex and full of flavor, with good acidity and notes of lime and pineapple."

Have a safe and happy New Year's celebration!

PS - If you have a moment, would you mind filling out my reader survey? Thanks so much!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Annual Fiscally Chic Reader Survey

Hi, friends! It's finally time for the first annual Fiscally Chic reader survery! As you may remember from my experience at the Financial Blogger Conference, many presenters suggested sending out a reader survey as a way to get to know all of you, what's working, and what needs room for improvement.

So here's your chance! Let me know what you like about Fiscally Chic and things that need a little work. Are there posts or areas that are lacking? Want to see videos? Do you have a burning question that needs to be answered? Chances are, someone else has the same question.

I put together a quick survey with only 8 questions. You should be able to fill it out in 5 or 10 minutes. The survey will close the evening of Wednesday January 4, 2012.

Thanks in advance for your participation! Your feedback will help make 2012 the best year ever for Fiscally Chic!
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, John!

Happy birthday to my best friend, and total stud, John! You introduced me to craft beer and I made you donuts and lemon meringue pie. I love that you don't take yourself very seriously :)

Since I couldn't top last year's birthday post with the Shake Weight, here's a victorious John after taking out the world's largest hedge from our backyard.

Happy birthday, Hubs! 27 was a great year and I can't wait to see what 28 brings!
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Diane von Furstenberg lace shift dress, Nars Dragon Girl velvet matte lip pencil,
Badgley Mischka Sail pumps, Kate Spade double bow stud earrings, Eclu red silk peony clutch

Merry early Christmas, everyone! This week's Friday's Fancies is all about winter whites and a white Christmas. I don't know if there will be snow this year, but I can still dream, right? I would love this DvF lace dress to wear with pops of red and black. In reality, I'll be wearing a cream silky top with a black pencil skirt and berry-colored tights. I'd be too worried about spilling something on a white dress!

I'm signing off for the next few days for a Christmas break. So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Season's Greetings, and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I considered writing about plumbing today, but with Christmas right around the corner, it didn't seem right. Instead, I'm indulging in visions of Christmas cookies! I'm sure you're busy baking. Or getting ready to devour said cookies!

These aren't exactly traditional Christmas cookies, but I don't care because they're my ultimate favorite. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Or rather, peanut butter cookies with seasonal M&M's. If it's Christmas, they're made with red and green. If it's Valentine's Day, they're pink, red, and white. If it's Easter or around my birthday, they're in pastels.

The love of these cookies is similar to John's family's love of guacamole. You can count on them at every holiday.

You would think I would have this recipe memorized by now, but I don't. I have to pull out the recipe copied from my Mom's collection of recipes. As you can tell from my cookbook, I've used this page several times. And to prove my love of these cookies, this is the first recipe copied into my cookbook.

These cookies were also regulars in college care packages. A friend was visiting my roommate one year and she started calling them [redacted] cookies since my last name was written on the Tupperware container they were sent in. When my old roommate got married this summer, I was sure to bring [redacted] cookies to the bachelorette party.

M&M's aren't the only substitution you can make. You can use chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips. I've had success with crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy peanut butter. Finally, you can mix up the cake mix used in the recipe, but I'm a purist and stick with white.

As for the yield of 6 dozen cookies, I think that's only if you make minature cookies. And who wants that? Not this kid :) I got about 3.5 dozen out of this batch. My bake time was 12 minutes per batch.

How about you? Favorite Christmas cookie? Or year-round cookie?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 6 dozen

Note: I also like to use seasonal colored M & M’s in place of the chocolate chips

2 eggs
1/3 c water
1/4 c butter
1 c peanut butter
1 package yellow, devils food, or white cake mix (I prefer white)
12 oz chocolate chips (2 cups or ~1.5 cups M&M's)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat eggs, water, butter, peanut butter, and half of the cake mix until smooth. Stir in remaining cake mix and chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (let's be honest, tablespoonfuls) about 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets (I’ll use parchment paper).

Bake 9 - 12 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your cookies.
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

DIY Glitter Penguins

...or whichever animal your little heart desires. My favorite animal happens to be the penguin, so my heart desired a glittery penguin.

After Saturday's post on all things sparkle + shine, I was inspired to bring some extra Christmas cheer to our house. I stopped into Michael's while Christmas shopping for a few crafting supplies. And penguins.

  • Plastic animals found near the kids crafting section. Mine were $5.99 and $2.99.
  • Martha Stewart glittering glue: $3.99
  • Martha Stewart glitter in yellow gold: $4.99
Total (with tax): $19.12. Would have been less had I remembered to bring a coupon.

By the way, Martha has glitter available in every color under the sun! Don't feel limited to silver or gold!

Once you've covered your work area in newspapers or an old LL Bean catalog, brush on a smooth, even coat of glittering glue. (The Martha Stewart glittering glue came with a brush.) I worked in small areas to make sure the glue didn't dry before glittering. You could also apply glue to the entire animal, except where you are holding it.

Liberally pour glitter over the entire animal, making sure to cover every area that has been brushed with glue.

Shake the excess onto your paper.

Once the rest of the animal is dry, brush glue over the remaining part of the animal and glitter away!

Pour the excess glitter back into the bottle for future projects.

You now have some budget-friendly and festive decorations to add to your mantle, tablescapes, and shelves. If you'd like to make them into Christmas tree ornaments, simply screw small eyelets into the top of the animal. These are also perfect for last minute hostess gifts or small Christmas presents.

Note: I've noticed some excess glitter still falling off my penguins, so I might look into getting some glitter sealer. A can of Krylon Glitter Blast sealer is about $5.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sparkle + Shine

Ann Taylor sequin mini skirt, Alice + Olivia sequined silk top, Kate Spade Flicker Scout bag, pink glitter Toms, J. Crew rhinestone belt, Deborah Lippmann Stairway to Heaven nail polish, Loft shimmery pouch set, Kate Spade Flash flats, Leif glitter tart servers, Modcloth striking gold dress

It's time for another Friday's Saturday's Fancies! {av} suggested creating an outfit around "sparkle + shine" and I was happy to oblige. I enjoy a bit of sparkle throughout the year and tend to indulge in all that glitters around the holidays.

In keeping with the theme, I picked out a collection of sparkly items that caught my eye. That Ann Taylor sequin mini skirt would be perfect with colored tights for Christmas or New Year's. Pink glitter Toms are a welcome addition to my wardrobe throughout the rest of the year.

Know what else got the glitter treatment? Some new buttons on my sidebar!

You'll find buttons for Facebook, Twitter, email, and cupcakes!

Hope you have a sparkly weekend!
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Friendly Christmas Reminder

If you're looking to give the gift of Fiscally Chic for Christmas, today (December 15) is the cut-off for US orders shipped via USPS First Class! Priority shipping is also available. Order by December 17 if you're using USPS Priority mail.

If you'd rather have your loved one pick out their perfect present, gift certificates are also available!

Happy shopping!
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My All-time Favorite Soup: French Onion!

It's been a while since I shared a recipe, so how about one of my favorite winter dishes? I LOVE French Onion soup! There's no two ways about it. It's the perfect cold weather soup. The warm gooey cheese. The caramelized onions. I love it all! Panera's isn't too shabby and enjoying it in Paris sealed the deal.

I had a few extra Euros burning a hole in my pocket while at the airport, so I promptly bought a cookbook: Love Food, Love Paris by Kate Whiteman. It's part travel book and part cookbook; sharing pictures, history, and recipes of each arrondissement.

The recipe for French Onion Soup (or Soupe a l'Oignon Gratinee) is one that I turn to each fall and winter. The trick is slowly cooking the onions, letting them caramelize and develop a sweet taste. This soup takes and gives a lot of love.

French Onion Soup
Adapted from Love Paris, Love Food by Kate Whiteman

1/3 cup unsalted butter (splurge for the French butter!)
1 1/2 pounds onions, very thinly sliced
1 t sugar
2/3 cup dry white wine (or substitute water if you don't have any on hand)
5 cups good beef stock (I cheat and make 5 cups using Better Than Bullion beef base from the grocery store.)
Salt and pepper

Toasted slices of bread (preferably a baguette)
1 3/4 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions. Sprinkle with sugar and saute for about 5 minutes. The onions will start to caramelize.

Turn the heat down as low as possible and cook the onions very gently for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they don't burn. The onions will become very soft and a deep nutty brown.

Add the wine and let it bubble for a few minutes. The alcohol will burn off, leaving the wine flavor behind. Pour in the beef stock and stir. Scrape any onions from the bottom of the pan.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the soup for 30 minutes.

Fancy Finish
Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into individual heatproof bowls. Heat the broiler to high. Float the sliced bread on top of the soup and sprinkle with freshly grated Gruyere cheese. Place the soup bowl under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown.

Easy Finish
Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into individual bowls, floating sliced bread on the top. Top with freshly grated Gruyere cheese.


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Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift Guide!

Can you believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away??? I did some shopping this weekend, but still have a bit to do. Have you checked everyone off your list? If not, here are a few ideas:

Craft brew loving husband
1 gallon Gingerbread Ale kit from Brooklyn BrewShop

Jewelry loving sister

Favor Jewelry Hammock earrings and necklace via One Sydney Road

Super hero loving brother

The Illustrious Omnibus of Superpowers #2 print from Pop Chart Lab

Fruit loving Mom

Rifle Paper Co. 2012 fruit calendar

Fruitcake loving Dad

Harry and David traditional fruitcake, 2 pounds

Pie loving friend who's spending Christmas in NYC

Bourbon chocolate pecan pie from Noble Crust (Manhattan and Brooklyn only)

Martha Stewart-in-the-making

Friend who dreams of the lavender fields in France

Lavender sachets from One Sydney Road

New Mommy's little one

Snowflake onesie with red and white snowflake leggings from Designer Jules

What's on your list to Santa this year?

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Off the Clock

As we head into the weekend, I thought I would share my personal tip for keeping stress away on the weekends:

I don't wear a watch.

I started this practice a few years ago. I wear a watch at work on the weekdays and started to notice that I would impulsively check my watch on the weekends and wonder where I had to be next. It made me anxious and I would subconsciously think about work. Or what I should be doing instead of enjoying my time off.

So I took off my watch. It's made a huge difference. Now I feel like I'm off the clock on the weekends. On the flip side, I've noticed that I feel a little lost or "off" if I don't wear my watch during the week.

What will I be doing this watch-less weekend? A tacky Christmas sweater party!

Christmas ornament earrings, elf hat and shoes, Mrs. Claus skirt, tacky Christmas sweater

Which is perfect because this week's Friday's Fancies theme is "Holiday Party." I'm bringing out my finest elf shoes and snowman sweater. Mrs. Claus will be quiet jealous of my Christmas cheer!

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Big M: Monetization

Today is all about one of the stickier topics in blogging: monetization. Deciding whether to profit off one's blog is a personal decision and I've slowly worked on monetizing Fiscally Chic over the past year. I'm extremely selective about what I air on the blog and want to be sure not to spam you. I'm not rolling in the dough, but it helps pay for my domain name. As my Nana would say, it's chewing gum money.

Grace over at Design*Sponge wrote an epic series about online etiquette and ethics based on a panel discussion at Alt Summit. Part 2 is all about about blogging and the moolah. I highly recommend the read if you have some time.

Google Adsense

Back to my monetization journey. I slowly started with Google Adsense. Nothing crazy, just an ad or two on the homepage. Let's just say I'm nowhere near the initial payout of $100. I still run those ads, but am sure to filter the types of ads I show on the blog.

Product Reviews

About 9 months ago, I was approached about my first product review. You might remember my review  (ETA - removed due to a request by Whooga) about Whooga ugg boots. (By the way, I'm wearing them as I type this post.) Since then, I've received more inquiries, but have turned down a majority of them. Do you want to hear about hair extensions? Probably not. I have no need for them, so I couldn't properly review them. On the positive side, I'm currently reviewing a few more relevant products and will share my experience in the next few weeks.

The challenge with product reviews is balancing meaningful feedback while looking out for the readers' interests. As I'm sure you know, the FTC requires bloggers who review products to disclose any connection with advertisers, including the receipt of free products, and whether or not they were paid in any way by advertisers. So yes, I received the Whooga's for free.

Affiliate Programs

More recently, I joined some affiliate programs. Particularly through ShareASale. These are when a blogger promotes a product or a service in exchange for a commission should that product be purchased or lead generated. Bloggers also need to disclose when they're being compensated through affiliate programs. Amazon has their affiliate program, but it's not available in! Your favorite companies and products might also have affiliate programs.

Here are a few of the affiliates I currently promote on my sidebar (I'm being compensated!):

Michelle of When I Grow Up Coach created an amazeballs creative career change workbook. I purchased it when I was grappling with my job change. She also has a package that combines the workbook with an hour coaching session. I totally recommend it if you're not sure what you want to be when you grow up. Even if you're not looking to make a change, Michelle has all sorts of great life coaching advice on her blog.

Personal Loans, Investment, Lending

I first learned about Prosper at FINCON11. Per their website, Prosper is "the market leader in peer-to-peer lending—a popular alternative to traditional loans and investing options. They cut out the middleman to connect people who need money with those who have money to everyone prospers!"

Prosper's statistics show actual investor returns averaged 10.69% since July 15, 2009. Borrowers can get fixed rates ranging from 6.59% to 35.84% depending on their credit history and application. Borrowers receive their loan after it's fully funded by investors and passes Prosper's verification process.

John and I have recently invested a small amount of money through Prosper. We're able to select our specific investments (risk, time horizon, etc.), spreading our funds over several loan listings. I've seen listings to help consolidate debt, pay medical expenses, pay for a wedding, and starting business. As our confidence grows, we'll probably invest a little more, diversifying our overall portfolio.

Most recently, I joined the Tiny Prints program. You can order invitations, greeting cards (Christmas is fast approaching!), wedding invitations, photobooks, and more. They have some great gifts if you're running low on ideas. For example, what about a custom return address stamp for someone who just moved into a new house?

And to make things easy for you, here's the page with Tiny Prints' latest coupons. For example, you can save 20% off and enjoy free Standard Delivery or free USPS First Class Mail Shipping when you spend $49 or more using the code 20HOLDEC. Ends 12/8/11!

I've had some moderate success with affiliate programs, but it obviously depends on whether someone clicks on the link and purchases.


One of the primo monetization strategies is creating and selling your own product. Like Michelle's workbook. I'm a tad on my way with the Etsy shop and have greater plans down the road. This will build on my accounting background and Etsy experience.

Paid Ads

I may start experimenting with paid ads on my sidebar in January 2012. I'll let you know when the time gets closer.


Other methods include sponsored posts and text link advertisements. Those aren't really my style, so I don't accept those inquiries. Though I'd be happy to offer giveaways for you lovely readers!


No matter your monetization strategy, it's imperative to disclose all of the necessary information. This fact was drilled into my head at FINCON11. You don't want your affiliate programs or Google Adsense accounts shut down for not having the required policies and disclosures. That's why I have a new page devoted to disclosures. There are my terms of service, privacy policy, and FTC sponsorship disclosures. You can create your own disclosure policy here.

Do you monetize?
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Monday, December 5, 2011

What took me so long?

Hi friends! After a weekend of recharging and Christmas-ing, I'm back in action! That's a picture of our Christmas tree. It's a Fraser fir, so I may call him Frasier. What were you up to?

I also met up with Jess for lunch and to go to the One of a Kind show. We also talked business for a bit. One of her questions was, "What took me so long to start the business?"

The answer is similar to Jon Acuff's most recent post about ignoring your dreams. Or getting distracted and focusing on something besides your dreams.

As you can tell from my blog header and About Me page, my favorite board game growing up was Monopoly. I've always understood and enjoyed business.

In 3rd or 4th grade, I sold friendship bracelets to friends and at school. I even kept an inventory and had a "catalog" in a binder with notebook paper. Each page was a different style, with a small sample taped or stapled to the top of the page. I then listed the different color combinations, lengths, and prices of each item.

It was my first foray into entrepreneurship. Since then, I've known that I wanted to own my own business.

Some of my high school totes

In high school, I remember reading an article about Kate Spade. I loved her concept of a classic purse, with a pop of color on the inside. I also sewed totes for my friends as birthday presents. Around then, I thought it would be fun to be a purse designer or boutique owner. My own version of Kate Spade.

I learned about Etsy in 2008 while planning our wedding. It was this post on Weddingbee. SnappyShop was my "gateway" shop and I fell hard for Etsy. I loved the concept of the online marketplace for handmade goods. Etsy is such an easy and approachable way to start selling.

Going to business school and learning about accounting was extremely helpful. And working in accounting continues to teach me how to run a business and deal with the books.

So why did I wait so long?

I didn't have the time with the last job. Now my hours are better.

I didn't have the space when we lived in apartments. Now I have space for a "studio" in our new house.

I didn't have the resources. Now I have a sewing machine. And a place to sell.

I didn't have the "know-how." Now I have more knowledge of social media and design trends.

There were so many distractions with planning a wedding and moving from St. Louis to Chicago to a house.

I could have made it work before, but the pieces didn't really come together until the last 3 months.

Or maybe I didn't believe in myself until now.

Either way, I'm making it happen now!!! Thanks for following along my journey and I'll be sharing more posts about starting a business in the future.
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Friday, December 2, 2011

Fashionably Inspi(red)

J. Crew gray Lucienne dress, Banana Republic bracelet, Kate Spade Latrice pumps,
Eclu red bow mini clutch, Jess LC Astor short drop earrings
Hi friends! I'm a bit pooped this week, so let's keep today's Friday's Fancies on the shorter side, OK? {av} suggested (RED) as the theme in honor of World AIDS Day. I interpreted the theme as an outfit for upcoming Christmas parties.

Bring some Great Lakes Christmas Ale for the host and you're sure to get an invite to next year's soiree. Check out their Beer Finder to see if it's available near you!

Have a restful weekend!

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