Friday, June 28, 2013

The Mary Kay Look

Madewell silk tank, J. Crew shorts, Ann Taylor wedges,
Rose gold earrings via JewelMint, Kate Spade tote

Last week, I received a VoxBox full of Mary Kay products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. Truth be told, I've never used Mary Kay makeup and only have limited knowledge of their multi-level marketing strategy and pink Cadillac loving ways. And let's not forget the Mary Kay consultant that approached me in an Old Navy last year and wouldn't take "no" for an answer.


So color me impressed when I wound up liking what they sent!


The first item I tried out was the True Dimensions lip stick in Pink Cherie. It's bubblegum pink and perfect for summer. The description says the lip stick is, "intensely moisturizing and exquisitely smoothing." I'd have to agree.


I wore it to Mass this past Sunday with my standby eye shadow and mascara. While Monica doesn't look impressed, I loved it and thought it paired nicely with my black maxi and neon pink belt. As a new mom, I also think the pink lip stick is a fast and easy way to feel put together after less than restful nights.


My next two favorites were the Lash Primer and Lash Love Lengthening mascara in I ♥ Black. The lash primer claims to create dramatic definition and fuller-looking lashes while the mascara touts long, strong, separated lashes. I'm no mascara expert, but I've tried out a few in my day since I generally use the latest sample from Sephora or Clinique. While my eye lashes seemed longer and separated, I didn't think they were much fuller than usual. Maybe it's because I don't usually use lash primer and needed to apply a little more.


Next in the box was the Cream Eye Color in Violet Storm. Honestly, I was a little intimidated by the cream eye color since I usually use pressed eye shadow and the color looked a little dark in the pot. To make things easy, I smudged some on with my finger instead of using the cream eye color/concealer brush included in the VoxBox. My first reaction was that it was too dark for me, but when I applied the mascara, it didn't seem as dark. I wouldn't wear this color on a daily basis, but would consider wearing it on date night or when dressed up for something like a wedding paired with a subtle lip gloss.


Since it's time for Friday Fancies, I created an outfit inspired by my favorite item from the Mary Kay VoxBox, the pink lip stick. We're going to a cookout this weekend and would love to wear J. Crew's coral polka dot shorts and tote around baby gear in Kate Spade's popsicle tote.

Have a great weekend! What are you up to?
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sewing an Adjustable Crib Skirt

Hi, friends! I hope you enjoyed the summery guest posts during these past few weeks. And a big thank you to everyone who filled in for me. Blog posts (and showers) will be here and there while we adjust to life with a newborn.


Speaking of our newborn, I was convinced she would come early. Of course she decided (with a  little help) to arrive a week late. While I was working from home during the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy, I also filled my idle time with a few projects to keep my mind off of the fact that she.wasn't.here. One project was sewing an adjustable crib skirt on her due date.
 

A crib skirt isn't necessary to bring a baby home from a hospital, but I had some free time. Plus, I didn't want to see everything stored in the drawer underneath her crib. That's the whole point of the drawer, right? After a little searching, I found a tutorial for an adjustable crib skirt since we'll eventually move the mattress down. The instructions are a little sparse, I figured I'd elaborate on them.
 
  
Materials:
  • One yard of fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Ribbon, cut in 14 inch long strips
Tools: 
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Measuring tape
  • Rotary cutter or scissors
  • Cutting mat and ruler, if using a rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine
 
 

Before starting, be sure to pre-wash, dry, and iron your fabric.

Measure your crib and the area you'd like to conceal with the crib skirt. With the mattress at the highest setting, my finished crib skirt needed to be 51.5 in. long, 24.5 in. wide, and 12 in. tall.

Add 2 inches to each of these measurements for the seam allowance.

Since the long side of the crib will be facing the wall, I only cut 3 panels:
  • Two small ones for the side that are 26.5 in. long x 14 in. tall
  • One large one for the front that is 53.5 in. long x 14 in. high
 

Fold in the corners, making a right triangle with 2 inch legs. Iron the fold.


Starting with one side of your panel, fold and iron the edge in 1/2 inch.


Fold and iron the other 3 sides in 1/2 inch.


Repeat by folding and ironing the four sides in 1/2 inch. The cut edges of your panel will now be concealed.


Since my fabric is slightly see-through, I snipped the exposed corner of the corner triangles. If you have solid, dark-colored fabric, this step is probably unnecessary.


Post-corner triangle snipping. It also looks more finished to me.


Measure where you'd like to tie your ribbons to the crib.


Pin the ribbons to the top edge of your crib skirt panel. Mine are sewn at approximately 10 inch intervals.


Hem the sides of each panel, being sure to sew through the pinned ribbons.


Once you've hemmed all of the crib skirt panels, tie the panels to the crib mattress support frame.


As you need to raise or lower the crib mattress, you can tie the ribbons longer or shorter to adjust the length of the exposed crib skirt.



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Monday, June 24, 2013

Welcome, Monica Rose!

 
Our sweet baby girl is here! Meet Monica Rose.
 
Born Saturday June 8, 2013 at 1:48 am.
 
9 pounds, 1 ounce
 
21 inches


We're head over heels in love with her!
 
Photography by Bella Baby Photography.
Headband from Little Hip Squeaks.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Reading with Melissa of Inspiration and Rough Drafts

Today's guest post is from Melissa of Inspiration and Rough Drafts. We first "met" when my college roommate (and friend of Melissa) emailed me about Melissa's blog. And then it turned out we lived down the street from one another in Chicago. Yes, I'll say it....it's a small world!

Hi, everyone! I'm Melissa of Inspiration and Rough Drafts. When Cathy invited me to write a guest post for her maternity leave, I was happy to help. Not only have our blogs "grown up" together, but I'm also expecting a baby in August. So thank you to Cathy for having me today... and a big congratulations to Cathy and John on their new addition!

Summer is shaping up to be a busy time. Along with baby showers, a couple of weekend trips, and lots of preparation to get ready for our baby's arrival, I'm also looking forward to some down time. I know a baby will change how much time I have to relax and how often I get to enjoy a quiet moment -- so in the meantime, I plan to indulge in one of my favorite summer activities: summer reading.

I love to get book recommendations from other people, especially ones from a close friend who knows what I enjoy or from someone who enjoys good writing as much as I do.

To help you start your own summer reading list, here are three books I've read (or are currently reading!) that would be great for lounging poolside, relaxing on a patio, or enjoying some sunshine. They are all beautifully written and hard to put down -- perfect for a summer escape!



Alys, Always: A Novel by Harriet Lane

A friend of mine passed along this book with a glowing review, and once I read the first page, I flew through the rest. The plot is intriguing, the imagery is rich, but the unique characters are what really pulled me in. Deciphering their various motivations and relationships keeps readers guessing. With a dose of mystery and a dash of manipulation, this book made me feel like I was watching the drama unfold with a behind-the-scenes view.

Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother by Beth Ann Fennelly

When I came across an old post on A Cup of Jo that deemed this book "the best book for mothers-to-be," I had to check it out. In the midst of all the advice and warnings people like to give expecting mamas, this is a refreshing collection of letters about the joys of pregnancy and motherhood. This lovely book kept me company during my two-hour glucose screening -- and I was delighted to find out the author attended my alma mater too!

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

I'll be honest, I just started this book. But its beautiful reflections on the small but important moments in life speak to my soul. It's just plain good, especially in this crazy-busy world -- a reminder to slow down, savor the everyday, and recognize how wonderful life really is (even when everything seems to be going wrong!). I have to credit Bethany for introducing me to Shauna's writing.

What are you all reading these days? Any books I should add to my own summer reading list?
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vacation Packing with Intention with Jess Lively

Anyone going on a vacation this summer? If so, today's post from my friend and all-around inspiring lady, Jess Lively, is for you! She'll help you pack your suitcase, as well as design a life and business, with intention. Just be sure to save a little room for me to sneak in your suitcase.


This post was originally published on jesslively.com on January 31, 2012 when Jess and Mr. Lively were preparing for a long weekend trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Yes, she's a lucky lady!

As most people start to prepare for this week’s Super Bowl parties, Mr. Lively and I are starting to get ready for our trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! We will be gone Friday through Monday for a romantic weekend trip that doubles as my Christmas and Valentine’s Day present (I’m a lucky lady!).

I have already got my passport renewed and the rest of the preparation lies mostly in packing for the trip. But rather than waiting until Thursday night at midnight (we have done that before, much to my chagrin), I decided to get on the ball days ahead.

And in true Jess fashion, I’ve decided to see if I can create a more intentional packing process to help me stay prepared, but not burdened by a heavy suitcase full of unused items.

When I travel home for Christmas for a week to see my family I usually find that I have under-packed and feel forced to wear items that aren’t really ideal. But since I’m only heading to Cabo for three days and two nights, I also want to make sure I don’t over-pack due to my excitement to be somewhere warm and tropical.

So here’s what I did today to make sure I have a properly planned wardrobe while I’m away.


The first thing I did was talk with Mr. Lively about what activities we wanted to do while we were at the resort. We debated about whether we wanted to work out while there or not. Since my running shoes and gym clothes could easily take up a decent amount of my checked suitcase, I didn’t want to bring the gear if we weren’t going to really do a workout.

After discussing the workout idea, we nixed it in favor of swimming and relaxing. I have done a great job working out very consistently all month and I think a few days off to enjoy my hard work is ideal. So out went the workout gear from the packing list.

Above you can see what we do intend to do over the long weekend: lots of relaxing, swimming, and dining.

I also checked the weather forecast for Cabo this week. It looks to be about 75*-80* with cooler nights. So I knew that I needed to prepare for warm weather with layering at night.


Then, I pulled out most of my summer wardrobe and looked at all of my options.

Usually when packing, I get about this far and just throw my favorite items into my suitcase. But the end result is usually under or over packing and a lackluster array of outfits during the trip.


Next, I started to try on each item and created my favorite looks. Above you can see the outfits that could be great for dinner, dancing, or exploring. Each one has a layering piece as well in case of air conditioning or cooler temps.


I also made sure I had an outfit to fly back to Chicago in as well as a few other pieces that could be mixed in if I feel a bit more causal during the trip.

One bonus of this step I found was that there were a few items that needed to be steamed or cleaned. Those have been put in a special pile for me to attend to in the next few days so I’m not worried about them while on vacation.


And of course, I couldn’t forget the main event: swimsuits. I had the navy polka dot bikini from J.Crew last year but find that the top is a bit precarious for my chest and is best used only when laying out. So the new orange and black suits will be much better suited to fun at the beach or pool. I got both of the new suits at a huge discount from Lands End Canvas thanks to a recommendation from Jill.

So there you have it! I feel much better prepared for anything that might come up. I plan to use this same process to pack the other peripherals for the trip as well. This will include sunnies, beach towel, books, music, etc.

Viva la Mexico!

This post was originally published on jesslively.com on January 31, 2012.
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Entertaining with Brittany of Marie Callender's Meals

I know it's only Monday, but it's never too early to think about the upcoming weekend. If you're thinking about throwing a backyard BBQ or outdoor dinner party, there's plenty of time to send out a few invites and make some plans. Brittany of Marie Callender's Meals has some budget-friendly entertaining tips to get you started.

Beer popsicle from Bakers Royale, Rooftop party from Jess Lively, Bruschetta from Fiscally Chic,
Nautical crab boil party from Design*Sponge, Clubhouse turkey burger from Iowa Girl Eats

After a long and arduous winter, summer has finally arrived. That means flip-flops, sundresses and all the BBQ your heart desires. From cook outs and picnics to outdoor dinner parties and mixers, the summer is one of the best times to entertain; and it starts to add up quickly. Food and party supplies can get pretty expensive, but with some creativity (and little common sense) you can save quite a bit on summer entertaining.

Always Get a Head Count

If you don’t want to be stuck if an extra five pounds of potato salad and twenty cheeseburgers too many then be sure to get an estimate before you grocery shop. You can also minimize unnecessary spending by taking into account what different people will eat. Find out how many vegetarians will attend, how many people will bring their children, who doesn’t eat red meat, etc. Such thorough meal planning may seem like a lot of work, but it will help insure that you have something for everyone without going over budget.

Use Seasonal Produce

This is a good rule of thumb for cooking year round. You can save quite a bit of money by purchasing seasonal produce at the grocery store or local farmers’ market. Try grilling recipes with summer squashes, artichoke hearts, eggplant, red onions, sweet potatoes or peppers. Most of these veggies can also be roasted in the oven. Loading up on fruits and vegetables will not only save you money, but it’s a healthier alternative to some of the more traditional (and caloric) BBQ side dishes.

Make Your Own Marinades

You can save quite a bit in the long run by buying the spices and oils to make your own dressing and marinades, rather purchasing ones that are premade. It also gives you the opportunity to experiment with more flavors. There are a handful of ingredients you should have on hand all summer to do so, including: sea salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, cumin, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Chances are you already have half of these items in your pantry, so it will just be a matter of experimenting with different recipes or concocting your own!

Be Smart about Stock Piling

So many frugal living gurus push the practice of stock piling, but if you’re buying products that will sit in the pantry until they expire, than it’s a waste of money. If you do a fair amount of entertaining then stocking up on popular products can save you a lot in the long run. Keeping extra burger patties or dessert pies in the freezer will save money buy buying in bulk and help you avoid emergency grocery runs. But be weary of stocking up on things, simply because it’s on sale. If you don’t think you’ll use it, don’t even think about buying it.

DIY D├ęcor

Decorations can add a lot to the ambiance of your party. Be it an assortment of flowers or interesting lighting, you can really transform your home and make it even more memorable. But rather than spending a ton of money at a party supply store, spend a small amount at a craft or hardware store. There are numerous ways to upcycle household items to create interesting decorations. For example, spray paint wine and beer bottles to create small vases or make your own paper lanterns for fun outdoor lightening.

Brittany writes about frugal living and family meal ideas on behalf of Marie Callender's Meals. For more about easy meals, like chicken pot pie and comfort bakes, visit www.mariecallendersmeals.com.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

The 20 Something's Guide to a Chanel Life on a Target Budget

I've been to Target far too many times in the past few weeks to admit, so when I had the opportunity to share this guest post by Amy Garrett, I jumped on it. Enjoy!


How's a girl to survive thousands of miles from home, on an entry-level salary, and with so much debt that Sallie Mae has taken up residence on the sofa? Prioritizing spending and pinching pennies, that's how. By stretching your money as far as it will go, you'll be able to get past this stage of life— and the still-recovering economy— and into one that gives you greater earning power. It's time to make your money start working for you. But what if your tastes don't allow for crystal chandeliers and a stretch Bentley? No problem, there are plenty of ways to live well on a limited budget.

Dressing Like a Star
After you've browsed through the @Targetdoesitagain Instagram feed or Tumblr for some inspiration and stocked up on staple items (cardigans, pullovers, little black dresses-- the wardrobe must-haves that you don't need designer flare to sport), it's time to hit the thrift. One of the best places to pick up designer duds is to visit your local second-hand store or consignment shoppe. Now, don't knock it till you try it. You'll be a believer once you discover a pair of never-been-worn-tags-on Levi's for $2 or a like-new Coach bag for $5. Of course, you won't score such great deals on every shopping trip, but you'll soon know which stores have better inventories (hint: head to the more affluent parts of town) and which days offer the biggest discounts. If you find something incredible, like a Gucci coat, that doesn't fit right, simply take it to a tailor-- you'll still save enough to pay your rent  . . . and vintage Gucci? Yes, please. When you do decide to buy new clothes, the Jewelry Gal Blog says to remember to go for quality rather than quantity. It's far more economical to have one skirt that will last you for five years than to have to buy a new one each year.

Dating on a Dime
While many articles with the word "budget" in the title will tell you that you must stop socializing and do things on par with joining a convent, this one won't. Going out and meeting people is important and there are plenty of ways to eat and be entertained on the cheap. Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Take advantage of lunch, happy hours, or early-bird specials when you want to dine at top-notch establishments.
  • Make friends with your kitchen and go the DIY route. There are no shortage of tutorials and websites like Epicurious that show you how to whip up gourmet meals at happy meal prices.
  • Afford a night out on the town by taking advantage of free museum nights, discounted theater tickets and ladies' night specials at the clubs.

Spruce Up Your Wheels
Now that you're dressed to impress and armed with an arsenal of delicious, romantic rendezvous ideas, it's time make the ultimate budget buy. Every princess needs a suitable carriage. If your hand-me-down Chevy is on its last leg, then it's time to get shopping for a deal on your new ride. The sooner you get started the better, as the search could take some time. But you'll find it's well worth it when you find a diamond in the rough. There are hundreds of luxury vehicles at beater prices out there. It's just a matter of finding them.

Too many people overlook the car section of eBay. It might sound shady to buy a car on the Internet, but there are enough companies (like Carfax) that have your back if something goes wrong. eBay is also quite vigilant about following up on disputes.  Craigslist is another great place to take advantage of used car sales, although you want to have a trusted mechanic on hand to give the car a thorough inspection prior to finalizing the deal. For those who want a deal but aren't comfortable with buying from private parties DriveTime used cars offers a more traditional route, sans dealership hassles.

When it's time to get a new car, take the task on as if it's your second job. Learn to negotiate so you can drive down the price. For eco-conscious gals, why not consider ditching your car altogether? Kill two birds by eliminating your gym membership and purchasing a bike (used, of course) and get your daily dose of cardio as you pedal to work. For those times when you must have a car, borrow a ZipCar for a few hours or a whole day. What better way to impress potential clients than by driving a BMW you only paid a few bucks for to meetings?

With plenty of determination, some creativity and these tips, you can totally live the high life sans the requisite income and bills that usually accompany it.

About Amy Garrett
Amy is a car show fanatic who shares her tips on how to preserve the authenticity and glow of antique automobiles.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer Memories with Helena of SweeterCPA

Today's guest post is from a gal that I enjoy geeking out with about accounting ;) When she's not saving the world one tax return at a time, you can find her sharing stories about her trips across the US and life in Chicago with her husband and cats.

Hi, Fiscally Chic readers! I'm Helena from SweeterCPA and I'm excited to share my summer memories with you!

Ocean City, Maryland, will forever mean summer for me. While I've spent most of my life in Chicago, both sides of my family live on the east coast and I've been swimming in the Atlantic every August since I was four months old.


Well, there probably wasn't much swimming that summer.

Ocean City was a place of traditions. My grandmother would rent the same condo each summer and my sister and I would spend months ahead of time arguing over who would get to sleep on the top bunk in the room we always shared. (Spoiler alert: I generally won. I am older, after all.)

From the condo, we were steps from the beach where we spent most of our days. My grandmother would watch the horizon for dolphins as my sister and I dug in the shallow surf for sand crabs to trap in our yellow, plastic bucket. As a fair skinned child, I spent a lot of time under an umbrella, coated with Bullfrog sunblock. When I was allowed out in the sun, it was always with a t-shirt over my swim suit.

 
We could also walk from the condo to a putt-putt golf course where we'd take turns trying to hit our brightly-colored balls hard enough that they'd fly into the parking lot (potential damage to cars in said parking lot never seemed to be a concern).

Also in walking distance was the waterslide park where we'd ignore the lifeguards and attempt to connect all of our mats to make long trains down the man-made hill.

Food was also subject to strict tradition. We had to make at least one trip to Candy Kitchen where we would gorge on the largest sundae bar I'd ever seen. While there, we'd pick out boxes of salt water taffy for our friends back home.

We also had to have dinner at Phillip's where the family would eat our weight in crabs from the Chesapeake so covered in Old Bay that the corners of your mouth would start to burn.

Most importantly, Ocean City is where the family would converge.


My family is very heavily female and the condo (and, later, the Holiday Inn after our party grew too large) would erupt with aunts and cousins. With my immediate family moving frequently in those years and our oldest cousin living in Houston, this time at the beach was the one time a year we were guaranteed to see one another. We cousins smooshed into bed together and stayed up all night watching movies rented from the place across the street. Later, we did one anothers' make-up and made googly eyes at boys at the hotel pool over virgin strawberry daiquiris.

Ocean City is the setting of so many of the stories my family tells when we gather. We talk about the summer my sister discovered purple eyeshadow. We talk about renting (and crashing) bikes on the Boardwalk. We talk about jellyfish and their single-minded determination to sting no one but my youngest cousin.

Ocean City has an almost mystic, golden tinge. As someone with a deep appreciation of traditions, I hope my own children one day have an Ocean City of their own.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Enjoying Summer with Lisa of Elembee

Hi, friends! With the upcoming arrival of our baby girl, I've decided to take a little maternity leave from blogging. But don't you worry, you're in good hands with some stellar guest posts. With my due date being so close to Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, you can look forward to posts about warm weather activities, summer memories, and more. I'll also pop in on occasion with updates and posts of my own. 
 
First up is Lisa of Elembee. You can count on Lisa for great tips about blogging and fab graphic design. Thanks, Lisa!
 
Coconut creamsicle margaritas from How Sweet It Is, Penguin from Brett Morrison,
Lake from Lisa's Instagram, Guacamole salad from Simply Delicious

Hi, Fiscally Chic readers! I'm Lisa from Elembee, and I have a confession to make. I hate summer. The heat and humidity make me miserable! But this summer, I'm going to put a little more effort into enjoying it. Here are a few ways I'd like to enjoy the summer:

1. Be a tourist at home. I'm visiting NYC in June, and I feel like I'm going to have the worst case of travel bug after that! But there's plenty to do within driving distance, and I'd like to take advantage of that. It can be as simple as an afternoon at the local zoo — why not spend the afternoon visiting the penguins and sea lions? It's an inexpensive way to get out and explore.

2. Relax at the lake. I went to the lake a lot last summer with my aunt and her family. It's really the best thing to do on a hot summer day!

3. Take advantage of summer produce. I recently started a new blog to encourage myself to be more mindful of healthy habits. I struggle in the summer because, honestly, I just don't feel like doing anything in the heat, especially not cooking. But summer produce is amazing, and salads require very little effort!

4. Mix the perfect summer drink. There's nothing more refreshing or relaxing than a crisp, cool drink on the patio on a summer evening, if I can just get over wanting to avoid the heat altogether. Sometimes it's better to embrace it, and just try enjoy it. It can't be that bad with a cocktail in hand, right?

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