Thursday, May 31, 2012

White Hot Savings

Kate Spade tiki bar cocktail clutch, Friedasophie gold nugget hoops, TOMS Cenna wedges,
Jessica Simpson white eyelet dress, Madewell jean jacket

Thank goodness for Friday! Today's post is all about white. White hot savings and wearing white after Memorial Day. Speaking of, what's up with that silly rule? If you ask me, it's probably so you don't get BBQ sauce on your white pants at the family cookout. What? That doesn't happen to you? Must just be me.

As for savings, Memorial Day was a big shopping weekend for us and our fellow Americans. In addition to buying the iPad, we stopped by the mall to pick up some shorts for John. There were sales all over the place, but what if I want the sale price now? After Memorial Day, but before the next big shopping day (aka: 4th of July)?

Smith & Hawken® San Rafael metal patio set

For example, we're in the process of laying a brick patio in the backyard where the world's largest hedge once stood. Last weekend was a little too soon to buy a table and chairs, but there's a set that looks pretty good at Target.

I try to search around for online coupon codes, but there's an easier way. has thousands of coupon codes all in one place. Literally. As of the time of writing, they had 221,330 coupon codes and deals! Back to the patio set example, after a quick search through the couponcodes4u vault, I found several coupon codes for Target, including free shipping. Cha-ching!

How about the big party we throw once the patio is all finished? Yes, there are coupon codes for groceries that you can easily clip and print.

And what about that pretty white dress and TOMS wedges from Nordstrom? Don't worry, there are all sorts of Nordstrom coupon codes too. Or if Bloomingdale's is more of your taste (it is Friday's Fancies after all!), you can even find deals for Bloomies!

I'm probably having a bit too much fun cruising around couponcodes4u because I also found $2 off to Red Mango (hello, fro yo!) and deals for homebrewing (hint, hint Father's Day is right around the corner). I think I hear angels singing!

Now that I've shared my new arsenal of online coupon codes, it's your turn to spill the beans. What are your stealthy ways to save on groceries or online shopping?

Important stuff: I was compensated by couponcodes4u to write this post. All opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Park Place

It's hard to believe, but we've been in our house for a year! That's another post for another time. Like when I have more time to pull together pictures and craft a big 'ole recap post. Until then, I'd like to share with how we're coping with driving into Chicago now that we live in the 'burbs. Mainly, the cost of parking....ugh.

As expected, parking costs an arm and a leg. Yes, we take public transportation, but sometimes logistics require we drive. For instance, I drove downtown after work last week for the Chase Corporate Challenge. Traffic was lovely, as usual, but I was really dreading shelling out $20-30 to park for a few hours.

That is, until I decided to Google "Chicago parking rates" and found this awesome website: Chicago Best Parking!

It's a freakin' search engine containing all the parking lots and garages in your selected area of Chicago! For this post, I searched for parking near Millenium Park (to see the Bean, obviously). Without thinking, I would probably park in the garages beneath Millenium Park, setting me back $23 for 3 hours on a Wednesday night. But now that I can see the other parking rates, I could only pay $13 by parking in the Prudential or Aon garages.

What's even cooler is that you can click on each garage or lot and check out their hourly rates throughout the week and if there are any other specials. When I drove in for the Corporate Challenge, I found an evening special ($6!) at the Aon garage if I was in by 6pm. Plus, you can change the dates and times to give you a better estimate of your parking costs. Though only some of the garages have guaranteed rates.

Don't worry if you don't live in Chicago, the bestparking website is available for several major metropolitan areas and airports. Even Cleveland and a few cities in Canada!

How do you save a few bucks when travelling?

PS - I wasn't compensated by bestparking, I just thought this was a cool tool to share. All opinions are my own.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Think of the Savings: iPad Edition

[See also: We enter the 21st century!]

Hi, everyone! Did you enjoy the long holiday weekend? As planned, we grilled/smoked some chicken drumsticks using our favorite spice rub. And I may have gotten a little patriotic with my outfit: navy top, white capris, and my new red striped cardigan. Thanks, Christie!

We also made a few purchases, mainly an iPad 2! We've been thinking about it for months and finally decided to go for it this weekend. I tend to takeover the home computer for blogging or working on the shop, so John will be its primary user. Though I've already played around on it too :)

And in my fiscally chic ways, we got the iPad at a great price! A few months ago, we were talking with my mom about getting an iPad. She was contemplating getting one too and told us about Micro Center. Instead of paying $400 at the Apple Store for a 16GB iPad 2, Micro Center sells them for $360. And yes, NEW!

What's even better was when we were at the store, we overheard a conversation of someone else buying an iPad 2...with a coupon! You know I love a good deal, so I searched for the coupon (on the iPad at the store) and found it for $20 off. That means our iPad 2 was only $340 (plus tax)!

John in his happy place

In addition to using the iPad for the usual suspects: Gmail, Facebook, ESPN, Google Reader, and Etsy; John already checked out an ebook from our library. For free. On the iPad! Clearly I'm easily entertained by these things :)

To everyone with an iPad, what are the good apps to download? Would I look funny walking around taking pictures with Instagram on the iPad?
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Dressed to Grill

J. Crew double crystal brulee necklace, TOMS red canvas wedges, Xenotees pet lobster tee,
J. Crew striped shorts, TOMS sunglasses, Weber charcoal grill

Hurray for another Friday and 3 day weekend! Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, which means lots of grilling on the horizon! But around our house, once the weather gets warm, we John can't help but break out the grill. And our Weber charcoal grill has already seen plenty of action this spring.

Hamburger print by lucileskitchen

One way to have a little more fun with grilling is to create a signature spice rub to use on meat or fish. We have several grilling cookbooks, so we've tried several concoctions over the years. In general, a spice rub is a combination of:
  • Salty: Plain, kosher, sea, or flavored salts.
  • Sweet: White, brown, or turbinado sugar; molasses; cinnamon; cloves; nutmeg.
  • Spicy/hot: Black, chili, or cayenne pepper; red pepper flakes; chili powder.
  • Herbal: Oregano, thyme, sage, fennel seeds, basil, bay leaves, dill, marjoram, parsley, rosemary.
  • Earthy: Cumin, coriander, paprika, celery seed
  • Sharp: Garlic, onion, mustard powder, mustard seed, tumeric

One of my favorite rubs is from the cookbook Dressed to Grill: Savvy Recipes for Girls Who Play with Fire by Karen Brooks, Reed Darmon, and Diane Morgan. One of my college roommates had a copy of the book and it "appeals to the way women cook today: fast and furious, with, of course, a healthy nod to low-fat ingredients." The recipes have all sorts of sassy names, as you'll see with this spice rub :)

Hot Girls Spice Rub
From Dressed to Grill: Savvy Recipes for Girls Who Play with Fire by Karen Brooks, Reed Darmon, and Diane Morgan.

1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons each: paprika, dried thyme, and chili powder
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, stirring well to blend.

Store in an airtight container away from heat or light. The rub will keep for up to 6 months.

 Massage the rub into the meat or fish and let marinate:
  • Shrimp and scallops: 15 minutes
  • Chicken and thicker cuts of seafood: 30 - 60 minutes
  • Pork chops or tenderloin: 45 - 60 minutes
  • Beef or lamb: 1 hour
  • Big or tough cuts of meat (racks of ribs, pork shoulders, turkeys): 2 - 8 hours

Refrigerate meat that is marinating for more than an hour.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Walk it Out


As I hinted last week, I was planning on walking a half marathon with my Mom. What I didn't tell you was that it was this past weekend! John and I took a quick weekend to Cleveland for the race.

And it went really well! My Mom walked a personal best time by a minute and I suppose I had a PR because I've never walked a half before. To make it even better, I won my age division for walking the half marathon! I never thought that was possible.

I also have to point out that my Dad was 2nd in his age division for walking the 10K. Way to go Mom and Dad!

Unfortunately, my cold got the best of John over the weekend and he had to sleep it off Sunday morning. But not before completing the Marine pull-up challenge at the race expo. 20 pull-ups for a T-shirt and the opportunity to enlist (kidding about the second part!)

To be honest, walking a half marathon was harder than I expected. I thought I could breeze through training. Read: run 5 miles and hope to crank out 13.1 on race day. I survived the race but was a little more sore than expected. It's tough being on your feet for 3+ hours!

Next time, I'll be sure to listen to Hal Higdon and do more than the bare minimum.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Minty Fresh Business Advice

Photo from

It's been a while since I've waxed poetic about Mint, so it's time to share another awesome use of the free (and secure*) online money management program.

A few months ago, I decided to experiment and create a separate Mint account for Fiscally Chic. It's been the best decision EVERRRR!

For my business account, I've linked up my Paypal and business checking and credit card accounts. It's so nice to see how the funds are flowing in an out of my business all in one place. It also made tax time super easy because my expenses were nicely categorized and segregated from my personal expenses. And of course I love looking at the trends of how the income from my Etsy shop and blog has grown :)

All you need is a separate business email account, as well as your account numbers, and you're good to go!

Do you have any new business tips to share?

*You can read more about Mint's security policy and encryption here.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Why dontcha come on over CHAMBRAY!

J. Crew pink gingham shirt, Brahmin Frankie polka dot tote, American Eagle cowboy hat,
J. Crew striped maxi skirt, Madewell chambray shirt, J. Crew sandals

To say I'm excited for Friday is a bit of an understatement. This cold is still kicking my butt, though it's been downgraded to an annoying cough. I'm sure my coworkers and John looove me for it!

Regardless, it's Friday's Fancies and I couldn't wait for this week's theme...chambray! I've blogged about chambray plenty of times before and worn my shirt even more than that! Just this week, I dressed up my shirt and wore it to work with a black pencil skirt and silver glitter Toms.

I also plan on bringing it with me to Nashville this summer. A friend is having her bachelorette party there and I indend on bringing chambray, pink gingham, my maxi dress, and a cowboy hat. Beyond checking out the great country music, is there anything we shouldn't miss?

By the way, did anybody catch the song reference in the title? I love the song "Valerie" as sung by Amy Winehouse and tend to say/sing "chambray" the way she sings "Valerie."

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 Update

Hi there! Since it's May, I figured I would take a quick peek at my 2012 goals and see how things are progressing. Especially since I'm notorious for starting things, but don't always get around to finishing them. The graphic is a great reminder and is inspired by Ecclesiastes 7:8, "To finish is better than to start."


My two major financial goals are to save more (while spending intentionally) and earn more. The savings goal is well on track with the refinance, but I can be more diligent with investing. Like...the old 401(k) that I still need to rollover to an IRA.

Earning more is also going really well! My Etsy shop continues to surprise me with sales from the first 4.5 months of 2012 being almost equal to the 4 months I was open in 2011 (which included Christmas!) And the blog is starting to make a little more moolah too. There are some new ads on the sidebar, including one for CCAP Enterprises. Only the best place to get promotional products and screened and embroidered apparel. Yes, my Dad runs the show at CCAP. You can contact him now for 10% off your first order! 


My personal goals are a bit more "in process." I haven't picked up "The Pursuit of Perfect" and I still have clutter around the house. On the plus side, one of my personal goals is to spend more time in prayer. During Lent, I started to listen to Catholic radio in the car. There's a huge billboard along the highway for Relevant Radio, and I was having a rough week, so I thought why not? I now listen to Catholic radio about 95% of the time in the car. It's so refreshing to listen to the current events or business advice through the filter of my faith. And it really sets the tone for my day.

Health + Fitness

Last, but not least, are health and fitness! "Health" is going pretty well as I'm drinking more water, especially after recovering from a massive cold. And I've been eating meatless more often since we went Catholic vegetarian for Lent by giving up meat, but could have fish and seafood. I could afford a more consistent sleep schedule, so we'll see how that goes the second half of the year.

"Fitness" is more "in process" as I've fallen a bit off the work out wagon. Yes, I'm walking a half marathon with my Mom and have a 5K shortly after that, but I haven't been very diligent with my training.

Something tells me if I can balance my time better, I'll be able to workout, sleep, and do the thousands of other things on my list. But will all of that realistically happen? Probably not. Guess I'm more of an optimalist than I thought!

How are your 2012 goals going?
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Can't wait to walk the half marathon with you!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Seeing Green

Wedding season is upon us! I don't know about you, but we had our first wedding of the year last weekend.

John's sister is in a wedding in July and she asked for some dress recommendations. She has been on the look out for cute green dresses to wear with wedges as the wedding is on a farm.

With those thoughts in mind, I pulled together 12 different green dresses. The most expensive one is $300 (I couldn't resist including the one from BHLDN), but most are under $200. There are even a few under $100!

Spearmint Dresses

Calvin Klein - spearmint chiffon dress - $138
J. Crew - Juliet silk chiffon dress - on sale $160
J. Crew - Erica cotton taffeta dress - on sale $180

Lace and Eyelet Dresses

BHLDN - lace sheath dress - $300
J. Crew - Ella petal eyelet dress - $158
Zara - lace tulip dress - $99.90

Casual Dresses

Calvin Klein - kelly green chiffon dress - $118
Zara - straight green dress - $79.90
Anthropologie - green jersey dress - $148

Embellished Dresses 

Donna Morgan - belted chiffon dress - $158
Rent the Runway - Anna Sui - dot flutter dress - $75
Jack by BB Dakota dress (with pockets!) - $79

I hope this helps, Caroline!

Hope everyone has a fantastic Friday and happy weekend!

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Coming Clean

I know Earth Day was last month, but that doesn't keep me from thinking (and saving) green throughout the rest of the year. Know who else is into thinking green blue? 

Volkswagen! The fine folks at VW included me in their April 2012 issue of Das Auto Magazine! Stop by to see how I (and four other drivers) live a greener life with VW.

And while I'm coming clean, I want to share a green tip for doing the laundry.

White vinegar and baking soda never cease to amaze me. I've used them to clean the bathroom and help unclog a drain (pre-Drain Claw). I also use them to tackle stinky towels.

Have you ever washed and washed a towel, but it still smells gross? Yet everything else in the laundry smells clean? It happens to my towels maybe once a year. (I told you I was coming clean.) 

According to this Lifehacker article, the culprit is the build up of detergent, fabric softener, and/or dryer sheets in the fluffy fibers of the towels. Over time, they soak up soap residue and cannot soak up post-shower water. And let's not forget the funk.

Fortunately, the solution is in your pantry with the help of your washer. Give your towels a detox by running them through two hot loads in the washer, skipping the detergent on both loads.
  • Load 1: Hot water and one cup of vinegar
  • Loan 2: Hot water and a half cup of baking soda
Once the wash is done, throw the towels in the dryer sans-dryer sheets.

And if you're looking for other homemade cleaners, Design*Sponge highlighted a few last week.
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Friday, May 4, 2012

Fiesta Time

Melie Bianco Bree tote, DV by Dolce Vita Archer sandals, Nanett Lepore Fiesta dress,
Turquoise earrings by Elephantine, Foggy Day ring by dollybirdesign

I told you I would be back for Friday's Fancies! This week's post is all about Cinco de Mayo. Ole!

With a birthday so close to Cinco de May, a few of the celebrations had a Mexican theme. The one that comes to mind first was a surprise birthday scavenger hunt in high school that finished at Chi-Chi's. Is Chi-Chi's still even in existance?

I'm not too worried because I have my dream fiesta planned.

There will definitely be some of my favorite guacamole!

Cinco de Mayo Party Ideas - Margarita Recipe - Free Printables

Hope you have a festive weekend!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Go Shortcake...

Birthday card from Etsy seller HappyDappyBits's my birthday! I hope you don't mind that posting will be on the light side for the next few days. While I enjoy chatting with you on the Internets, I have other fun things going on IRL.

And it seems that Draft Mag got the memo too.

Their May/June 2012 issue has beer and cake pairings! A lemon chiffon cake and wheat beer are sounding pretty good together.

See you back here for Friday's Fancies.
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