How Did I Do On My 2014 Predictions?

back in january of this year, i made predictions instead of resolutions.  i haven't made any yet for 2015, partially because i was so wrong about 2014!  here's what i predicted:

i predict... i'll cross 20 more things off my 101 in 1001 list, bringing my total to 65/101.  success.  i'm actually up to 80!

i predict... another kardashian clan baby.  but i'm thinking kendall this time.  close - it was kourtney. again.

i predict... i'll leave the state to visit someone.  nope.  i don't think i went anywhere this year.  other than wisconsin and indiana, but neither occasion was to visit someone.

i predict... 100 more pins on my pinterest boards (bringing me up to 600.)  definitely pinned a lot more, but deleted more as well, so i'm still only at 559.  there's 100 new ones this year though, for sure.

i predict... my best friend meredith getting engaged.  nope.  she got pregnant instead.  i know he has the ring, no idea why he hasn't asked yet.

i predict... a really, really good football season for the iowa hawkeyes and the chicago bears.  oh god.  i don't even know what i was thinking with this.

i predict... a staycation/vacation with john.  vacation, no.  we had no time!  but staycation, yes.

i predict... attending 5 weddings.  (already rsvp-ed to 3. woof.)  actually, only attended those 3 - john's cousin, one of our friends from high school, and my friends, kelli and ryan.  the other three we were invited to were john's friends and he opted not to go.

i predict... seeing my friend's band 10 times.  in addition to attending his wedding.  easily 10, so many street fests.

i predict... awesome coordinating halloween costumes with megan and tarayep, the sanderson sisters!

i predict... 52 more instagram photos of hawkeye.  can you believe it? no! only 41.

future-seer i am not.  damnit football teams.  you have one job to do.  also, i need to instagram more photos of hawkeye.  obviously.


as for ringing in this new year, i'll be sticking with my frugal lifestyle and honoring the spending frost by heading to the bar around the corner from my apartment with john.  no cabs, no cover, no wristband deals.  just free party favors and a free snack bar, and $4.50 top shelf drinks.  i love that place.  i also have champagne from my mom already chilling.  champagne tastes better when it's free.

have a safe and happy new year!  see you in 2015.

p.s. be safe chicagoans - the cta is free from 10 pm to 4 am so no excuses!
17

Declutter Update (Update #4)


hutch
there's a hutch in our dining room in the apartment.  i don't have dining room furniture, the table belongs to my roommate.  but i do have things in the hutch; it's an easy place to squirrel things away.

kept:
1 cards against humanity game
1 wine opener
1 bottle opener
4 wine glasses
4 champagne glasses
2 rocks glasses
8 pint glasses
1 bottle stopper
2 decks of cards
1 cookbook

decluttered:
1 mini iowa helmet
10 shot glasses
2 cocktail shakers
4 wine glasses
2 rocks glasses
2 sets wine charms
2 pint glasses
1 bottle stopper
1 deck of cards
1 bag of batteries
1 set of straws
1 set of cocktail umbrellas
1 set of drink flags

kept: 25
decluttered: 29
54%


kitchen
oh yes, you're reading that right.  i finally got to the kitchen declutter.  i mean, i only started this project in october, but still.  the kitchen kept getting pushed to the bottom of the list.  i know a lot of my kitchen things (namely related to baking and hosting parties) are in a box in my mom's attic that i desperately need to go through.  but for today, this was a big project that i'm happy to have crossed off my list.

kept:
1 keurig
1 set coffee mugs
1 travel mug
1 k-cup container
1 crockpot
1 toaster
1 microwave
1 paper towel holder
2 sets of storage containers 
1 set of silverware
1 knife set
1 set measuring cups
1 set measuring spoons
1 veggie peeler
1 kitchen scissors
1 can opener
1 garlic press
1 set cooking utensils
1 frosting spatula
1 immersion blender
1 set ice cube trays
1 pair oven mitts
1 pans
3 pots
1 set dishes
1 set plastic tumblers
1 glass measuring cup
2 glass bowls
2 vases
1 strainer set
1 mixing bowl set
1 cupcake tin/carrier
1 glass baking pan
2 le creuset baking dishes
1 cutting board
1 calphalon baking pan
1 shelf riser
1 brita pitcher

decluttered:
1 handheld citrus press
1 citrus zester
1 set mini bowls
1 set dishes
1 set glassware
1 set coffee mugs
2 sets plastic tumblers
4 sets of storage containers
1 party tub (to hold ice and beer)
1 flour sifter
1 apple corer
1 plastic measuring cup
1 plastic tumbler
1 magic bullet
2 pan
1 pot
2 baking sheets
3 plastic serving bowls
4 shelf dividers
4 vases
1 strainer
1 oven thermometer
1 champagne bucket
1 glass serving platter
1 glass tiered tray
1 set cooking utensils
1 timer

kept: 44
decluttered: 41
48% (i definitely used 'sets' this time as opposed to individual item counts, but i think i did it fairly in the count)

good lord, kitchen stuff adds up fast.  i really think i got rid of a lot, but there's still that much more?  and more things at my parents' house?  i didn't even think i cooked that much!  what do you think anything else i could get rid of?  is your kitchen stash bigger or smaller?

only 2 more areas to get done, exciting!
18

And To All A Good Night

despite everyone around me claiming it doesn't feel like christmas this year, it has, in fact, come and gone.  it may not have been a white christmas (and it was unseasonably warm for chicago) but i think my family still had a wonderful time.  i spent christmas eve with john and his immediate family, which was nice and relaxing.  i guess i was good this year!  and he's good at those little blue boxes.  love that man.


christmas day was spent with my parents at their house, with hawkeye plus their 2 dogs, joey and brody.  hawkeye played with her sock monkey from john's mom, brody climbed into the wrapping paper like he was the present, and joey just tried to get my mom to carry him everywhere while my dad cooked.  my mom also made me that sweet gift basket you see.


oh and of course, my dad the dog whisperer, with his crew.  i have no idea how i got everyone to look at me.


hawkeye and i have since returned to our homestead, to play with gifts and eat treats and promptly pass out.  happy holidays, friends.  i hope you enjoyed yours as much as we did and i hope you keep celebrating all the way through the new year.
16

Happy Kwanzmaskuh Solstice

i feel like buddy the elf but man, 2 days until christmas!  it's santa!


i already know what my holiday will consist of.  because it's always pretty quiet.  working a half day on christmas eve - mostly working about 2 hours and then going to the christmas luncheon at the fancy club my boss belongs to.  as a strict cheap beer drinker, he delights in my trying all the over-the-top sugary champagne cocktails they always have.  i delight in drinking them.  for free.

from there i'll pick up the last thing on my shopping list; cinnamon sugar roasted nuts from the christkindlmarket (german christmas market) downtown.  my dad's favorite, and i want them to be as fresh as possible.  i'll probably also get a container of garret's popcorn for john's mom, since she loves it but always complains that she can't find it, despite the fact that it's across the street from said german market, which she attends every year.

then i'll head home to hawkeye, pick up her and the gifts for john's family, and head over to their house.  conveniently arriving after they're done with mass, because church is not my jam.  (after 7 long years of catholic school, i've come to the realization that i celebrate christmas because i love my family and friends and that's what they love to do.  i don't recognize having any sort of religious affiliation anymore, so it's a happy kwanzmaskuh solstice situation for me.  i just like the season.)

after cocktails and treats and presents with john's family, hawkeye and i will head home to the roommate's festivities - she's hosting a christmas eve cocktails and games night.  arriving late ensures that her friend with the baby will already be back at home in bed, and the vodka and cards against humanity portion of the evening can begin.

and in the late morning on christmas, my mom will come to pick up me and hrh princess hawkeye, who can't dare take a cab or public transit, and we'll spend the day at my parents' house, opening gifts (they got me sorel boots), playing with the 3 dogs and helping them open their gifts because of course the dogs get gifts, addressing my mom's 'new year's cards' because she never orders in time for christmas, making a few desserts and cooking pasta for dinner.  while i play 'refill your champagne every time someone mass texts merry christmas.'  oh and laugh at the hilarious conversations with my dad's friends in india, because they're 11.5 hours ahead and already really drunk.  eventually, my mom will drive us home with lots of leftovers and hawkeye and i will sleep for about 14 hours.

after that?  i still have 3 glorious days off.  with only one remaining event - celebrating megan's birthday on saturday.

i'm nothing if not a planner.  happy kwanzmaskuh solstice to you, friends.  see you next week.
17

10 Best // Ways to Avoid People

holy cow it's almost christmas.  i always count down for a long time, but somehow, it seems to sneak up anyway.  whether you're taking some down time before meeting up with family or breaking from family after the start of hanukkah, here's 10 ways you can spend some time this weekend avoiding people:


1. netflix.  so. many. christmas. movies.  it's fantastic!  holiday in handcuffs is always a favorite.  they also have the crackling fireplace this year, which is not actually a movie so much as it is exactly what it says it is - a video of a crackling fireplace.  so you know, to make up for your lack on one.  on the non-christmas front, i've been watching damages, with glenn close, and helix.  i'm a fan of both so far.

2. make.  some salt dough ornaments for your tree.

3. smile.  aww heart melted.  meet bear.

4. organize.  your recipes using evernote.  i'm really loving this system, since i'm a big fan of having everything in one place.  this way, i can take photos of magazine clippings or cookbook pages, plus clip the recipes i've found on pinterest, and categorize everything by meal and use tags like 'crockpot' 'easy' and 'chicken.'  super helpful for meal planning, since i only shop once a month!

5. learn.  iva always researches the heck out of her posts and talks about the most interesting topics.  i always learn a ton from her, particularly this recent post about the sentinelese.



7. find your center it's important to de-stress and take some time for yourself.

8. read.  a great post on recognizing that hey, maybe you're not perfect.

9. don't panic.  still in need of last minute gifts?  gift a movie night.

10. answer.  since christmas is almost upon us, i'm meeting up with most of the people i have gifts for and could thus potentially show them off on the blog.  i scored on a frugal gift idea that i made for my girlfriends, since i planned so far ahead - gifts that should have cost $20 cost me $5.  (for a total of $50, which i earned through swagbucks, essentially making it free!)  it would be easily replicable for other people to do this year, with a little planning.  so answer me this - do you care?  should i post about it?

happy friday!
18

10 Best // Things I Learned About in 2014

ynab short for you need a budget.  it's budgeting software for your computer, and there's also a phone app.  ask my mom - it would have taken nothing short of a miracle for me to not overdraft my bank account in college.  even up until my loans were paid off earlier this year, i would spend without tracking, not really saving much.  ynab is 100% to credit for turning that around.  nothing else clicked for me (especially not printable budget forms or the mint app.)  it's worth every penny.

walk for a dog.  it's a phone app.  every time you walk, you work towards donating to the shelter of your choice.  after each mile, you earn for your shelter and the app pays out to them about twice a year, with the money coming from sponsors and donors.  meaning, not you.  the app is 100% free.  you don't even need to have a dog to use it.  all you do is walk.

swagbucks i've written quite a few times about making money with swagbucks.  i started with the site mid-april of this year and my earnings are currently at $1000.

unroll.me.  a totally free service that unsubscribes you from any unwanted e-mails in just 1 click.  and anything you want to keep, but don't consider super important (sales notices from a favorite store perhaps), you can choose to 'roll up' meaning that they will all come in a single email from unroll, at the time of day you choose.  experience the inbox zero bliss.

editorial calendars.  i wrote this post for sarah at venus trapped in mars about my system for getting my blog posts ready.  i'm excited to do the same this year, over my christmas/new year break.  it's a huge time saver in the long run.

budget bytes.  this website has been the ultimate saver of time, money, and sanity when it comes to meal planning.  i am so happy to have found it.

amazon wish list they have a toolbar extension (similar to pinterest) so you can add anything from any website to your amazon wish list.

evernote.  i know i still don't even use it to it's full potential, but i get a lot done with evernote.

minimalism.  somewhere in my love for decluttering and organizing, there was always a minimalist.  but i didn't really figure that out until this year and with my current shopping ban and declutter project, i've found more and more good resources on the topic.  namely getting my wardrobe culled way, way down.

and let's be honest, most important:

how to pair wine with girl scout cookies.


so what about you?  what did you discover in 2014?
26

Declutter Update (Update #3)


oh yes, i'm still going!  trying to get as much of it done as i can while i still have that 'just started' momentum.  although, to be honest, i picked really easy areas this time around.

bathroom

kept:
1 shower curtain, liner, and rings
1 toilet brush/plunger set
1 organizer tray
3 makeup bags
1 first aid box
1 garbage can
2 glass canisters

decluttered:
1 ceramic kleenex cover (it broke. solved that problem.)
1 toothbrush holder (the one that matched the kleenex cover.)
1 shower curtain, liner, and rings
2 under sink drawers
3 makeup bags
1 plastic drawer unit

total kept: 10
total decluttered: 9
47%


living room

kept:
1 apple tv
1 picture frame
1 throw blanket
1 surge protector

decluttered:
1 dvd player
1 digital camera

total kept: 4
total decluttered: 2
33%


closet

i mentioned my wardrobe declutter, but i didn't count the rest of the closet contents in that post.  it's a fairly large closet, so it also holds my linens.

kept:
1 shoe rack
1 boot tray
1 umbrella
1 suitcase
1 mirror
2 sets of towels
2 sets of sheets
1 duvet
1 cork board
4 pillows
1 hamper
1 electric blanket

decluttered:
1 decorative tray
2 shoe racks
1 duvet
2 pillows
2 sets of towels
1 dresser
2 lamps
5 pillowcases (where did these come from?!)
1 throw blanket

total kept: 17
total decluttered: 17
50%


there's not too much left to get done in terms of general areas, which is exciting.  however, it is the stuff that's the hardest, which is why i put it off.  i need to tackle the kitchen, the hutch in the dining room (which is pretty much an extension of kitchenware), and the contents of the bookcase in my room.  oh and the two big boxes still in my parent's attic, which will hopefully get done when i pet sit in february.  getting there, kids, getting there.
19

10 Best // Random Facts About Me

i give up on the capital letters again.  i tried, it's not for me.  it feels like work, and i do enough of that already.  anyway, there's some new readers around here.  i say that based on new commenters and new followers on bloglovin.  so, welcome!  glad you're here and thank you.  for new and old readers alike, i thought i'd offer you some fun random facts about me today.  ones that (i don't think...) have been mentioned before.


1. was your first word indicative of your personality?  because mine was - my very first word was 'mine'.  followed by no.  there was a lot of 'no, mine' in those days.  very only child of me.  i'm still not entirely sure i need any other words in my daily conversations, as those two seem to cover it.

2. i'm strangely super adept at handling winter.  i'm not lying when i say i love winter and hate summer.  i like the things i can do in summer, but i just can't stand being hot.  but i don't just like winter - it doesn't even affect me the way it bothers most people.  i'm not running around in a tank top or anything but most chicagoans start shivering and whining at 20 something degrees.  my shiver doesn't set in until about 8 degrees.

3. i am, by nature, extremely confrontational.  studies have shown that most people are anti-confrontation.  clearly, i am not most people.  i love confrontation.  i meet any problem head on.  sometimes i argue the other side just for fun, even if i don't believe it, because it makes people crazy mad, and i find entertainment in that.  i picked a good career path.

4. sitting across from the police station on a college campus on halloween is one of my single most favorite activities of all time.  everyone drunk getting arrested in their costumes is the most hilarious thing you can watch.  bonus points if you make it a 'which costume is coming in next' drinking game.

5. according to my web browser, my 6 most visited sites are gmail, swagbucks, pinterest, bloglovin, gomi, and espn.  that seems fairly accurate.

6. one time, me and 3 guys got picked to sit in the viewing room at an espnzone and watch sports.  you could only get out of your seats to stretch for 5 minutes at the end of each hour and only go to the bathroom every 8.  no sleeping allowed.  you got all the free food and drinks you wanted though.  lots of prizes to be won if you were the last one awake.  i made it about 24 hours (the place is very cool and creepy when closed!) but then they put on black and white baseball and i was out like a light.  baseball bores me when it's live at wrigley field, no way i can handle black and white.

7. when it comes to the details, i'm a pretty bad blogger.  like, what even is google+?  rhetorical question, because i don't care the answer.  and i'm certainly not styling any photo shoots.  i work in an office 9+ hours a day.  add on commuting time, john time, hawkeye time, family/friend time, house cleaning and organizing time, cooking and eating time, etc etc, very little time is left for blogging.  i'm not about to give up sleep time to prop up some holiday colored hershey kisses in a bowl and edit the hell out of it with a camera app on my phone.  bowl of nonsense.  i'd rather write (type) anyway.

8. i like hufflepuff because of the iowa colors, but personality-wise, i'm a slytherin.  i told melissa this yesterday after discussing her gryffindor colored tree decor, because that's a legit conversation to have.  important info.  she's a ravenclaw.  what are you?

9. the most used apps on my phone are ynab, evernote, walk for a dog, sports center, and all the swagbucks video apps.  i use all of those more than even texting.  i also only have 40 contacts in my phone (total, even the dog groomer and my landlord) because people - meh.

10. i have 6 secret boards on pinterest.  one is related to my best friend's future bachelorette party (when her boyfriend finally gives her the ring he's had for like a year.)  guess what the other 5 are?  well i'm not just going to give it away, but if you're right, i'll tell you!

which of these did you know?  which surprise you?  and now it's your turn - tell me something totally random about you.
41

A Little Whine With My Cheese

Well it's time for a life update, besides the birthday shenanigans I told you about last week.  A little bit of a relatively unwarranted whine, I'll admit up front.  Feel free to check out now.  But for those of you who like life updates, even when (especially when?) they aren't sunshiney ones, this one's for you.  And for my 'real life' friends.  (I'm often still surprised by the number of my 'real life' friends who use this blog as a way to actually keep up with my life.  Must be my lack of Facebook.)


The general basis for my sour mood lately - John's job moved him 2+ hours away, which they announced to him the day before Thanksgiving.  He started December 1.  Basically, that sucks.  He's currently working 10 hour days, 6 days a week so it's just not feasible to add a 4+ hour commute to that each day.  Not to mention he drives a truck.  He ended up renting a house out there with another co-worker who got sent there at the same time, so he stays there during the week and comes back here Saturday after work and then drives back out there Sunday night.  Since he's in a union and still an apprentice, he can't say no to these far off job assignments, at least not for 2.5 more years.
It's not like I can actually whine about it.  It's only two hours away, not the other side of the world.  And I do get to see him every Saturday night, which is not the case in actual long distance relationships.  It's good money.

It's not forever.  The boss told him it will be until March, but the consensus among the workers is that there's just way too much to do to be done by March - it'll be more like May or June.  Remember, we have house plans.  My lease is up at the end of August, so we were planning on having a house all bought and ready to move into by then.  That's still the plan, I just hope he's back and done being sent off because rent and mortgage is stupid.  I feel uneasy about buying a house at this point since he can still be sent far, but it's important to him.  (Not in small part because I told him under no circumstances will I accept a ring before we live together, but that's a whole other post.)  There's also no part of me that's looking forward to house hunting with his brother instead of him, because I know nothing about what makes a good house.
So that's made for an upset last 2 weeks, but what can you do?  Woo-sah and all that.  Although, I do know one girl who's taking it harder than me; his very best friend and mini me: 
32

Life Lately - Birthday Month


1. first, let's start with the best parents in the world.  mine.  got me a new phone!  the silver iphone 6 and yes, i got a ridiculous sparkly cover for it.  i love it.  it's been a very long time since i've upgraded (years) so everything is new to me.  check 'upgrade my phone' off the 101 list.

2. one of my best friends from grade school/high school came into town to celebrate with me, love that girl.  we haven't lived in the same state since high school, so it's always nice when she gets to come back, even though she hates the cold weather.  check 'visit with sarah' off the 101 list.

3. it was also great that my friends made it out to celebrate with me.  i set up an open bar thing, so i assumed they would, but then it started snowing.  the first snow we got and it was really coming down.  but they made it out anyway.

4. on my actual birthday, the 20th, i couldn't do much; i had work that day, the next day, and i was in the suburbs watching my parents' dogs while they were out of town.  watching 3 dogs is like orchestrating a circus.  and john got sick with strep throat!  gross.  so it was a quiet night with pizza and presents.  no complaints, it was nice to relax.

5. but he spoiled me while i was at work that day, sending chocolate covered strawberries in the morning and flowers in the afternoon.

6. my best friend meredith sent me a fluffy pink birthday princess crown, god love her.  thank goodness she's having a girl, she'd be lost on a boy.  she also sent me a gift certificate to get an 11 by 14 portrait of hawkeye.  does she know me or what?!

7. john took me to see the hunger games!  mockingjay part 1, technically.  i really liked it.  i know a lot of people complained that it's slow, but it's still a very good movie.

8. we got dinner that night at the new restaurant nikki works at - the newly opened sugar factory in rosemont.  perfect place to go on a birthday if you ask me.  and their martinis are insane.  they taste exactly like whatever candy they claim to, with zero taste/after taste of liquor at all.  i don't know how they do it, but i'm very impressed.  i got the watermelon jolly rancher and the sour apple blow pop, but i have plans to try them all.  they had 5 on their starter menu since they just opened, but nikki says they have 75.  seventy five.  oh, and we had to stop for huge beer steins at hofbrauhaus.

9. i also spent some time with my parents - my dad taught me how to make his famous spaghetti sauce.  it's a fairly intense process, one that will take me years to perfect, but i'm glad i know the secrets!  it was also on my 101 list to learn it, so it's been a bang up month for getting that almost done.

10. so i'd say it was a really successful birthday month.  check 'celebrate my 30th birthday' off the 101 list!  which brings my total completed to 79/101, with a little over 1 year to go.  see?  bang up month.
32

Choose Your Own Adventure - {Link Up}

did you participate in november's make your own goal challenge?  november's theme was organize.  obviously my favorite month.  how did you do?!

general guidelines:
1) if you want, follow your hosts not entirely perfect, life according to steph, and keeping up with ashley and cody.  (i like twitter, that way i can follow you back and tweet you encouragement throughout the challenge.)
2) link up your post about your results below for the month - we want to hear all about what you did, how you fared, what resources you used, what you'd recommend to others, etc.
3) please link to your actual post about your results.  links not having to do with the challenge will be deleted.
4) feel free to use this button, created by the lovely sarah at venus trapped in mars.

Not Entirely Perfect



my first goal was to get my gift giving organized.  i had things just in a box, i wanted to get them wrapped and ready to go.  i give this a pass.  it's not totally done, but i only have to wrap 2 things for my parents and then it'll be considered a success!

the second goal i listed was to continue on in my declutter challenge and specifically, work on the boxes in my mom's attic.  i also give this a pass.  i did the holiday things in the attic that i wanted to get done, but there's 2 miscellaneous boxes that i didn't have time for.  however, i did do furniture to make up for it, selling some of the pieces i didn't need any more.

i didn't include it in my last post, but a goal i listed on my not a new year resolutions post was to get my post labels and nav bar organized up top there.  i might expand it or make it more detailed in the new year but for now, it's exactly what i wanted.  success.

december's theme is simplify.  it's already a month that's so full, there's no sense in adding more to your plate.  but how about taking something off it?  hang less decor, bake one less cookie recipe, attend one less party.

my simplify goal?  no decor at my apartment.  which, according to my mom, makes me a scrooge, but i just do not have time for it this year.  i don't have time to put it up or take it down, and i just have too many other plans that i wouldn't even be home to enjoy it.  i put up the tree and decor at my parents house whole hog while i was there watching the dogs/over thanksgiving, but my own apartment will remain a little bare this year.  i think it's better to just take it off my list rather than let it cause me stress.  and anyway next year, john and i will put the tree and decor up in our new house! 

my other goal is to not add anything else to my schedule.  i've got a dinner, 3 birthdays, the german christmas mart, an eye doctor appointment, a dog grooming appointment, ice skating, office christmas party, christmas, new years eve... that's just what i remember off the top of my head.

one last thing - going into the new year (holy crap, yeah that's happening), we thought we'd ask how you feel about the link up day.  i just sort of randomly picked first thursday of each month, but i'm happy to move it to the last of the month, first of the month, or keep it where it is.  any thoughts?
29

Declutter Update (Update #2)


still chugging along on my declutter project.  actively avoiding my kitchen, so this month i focused on furniture pieces and the stuff in my mom's attic.

furniture
not much to get rid of in this category - since i rent, i don't have a lot of furniture.  even less that i would be able to get rid of.  still, there were some things!  and i am trying to keep a full count in all this.

kept:
1 queen size bed (frame, mattress, box spring, though i hope to replace the frame when i move)
1 ikea bookcase + 4 black bins that fit in it
2 flat screen tvs 
1 couch
1 coffee table
1 tv stand
1 glass entryway table
3 bar stools
1 glass shelving unit + 5 grey and white baskets that go with it

sold/donated:
1 bar cart
2 ikea side tables
4 pink and white baskets
3 plastic storage bins
1 hanging storage unit

total decluttered: 11
total kept: 21
34%


holiday related

kept:
1 christmas tree
1 set of christmas decor
1 plastic storage bin

sold/donated/tossed:
12 halloween costumes
1 set of halloween decor
2 sets of christmas decor
3 plastic storage bins
1 hanging organizer (held wrapping supplies)

total decluttered: 19
total kept: 3
86%

i had a feeling this would be a high number.  i knew i wanted to get rid of most of what was in my mom's attic, keeping only my tree (lighted floor model, bought after christmas on super sale at macy's.  it's gorgeous.  i think it was a $1000 tree, marked down to $200.  5 years ago, still in perfect shape and all the lights work.  i highly recommend getting floor models after christmas if you use artificial trees!), my silver, gray and white crate and barrel ornaments, and the bin to store the ornaments and tree stand in.  next year, john and i will buy new stockings and decor that suits our new house(!).  and no one needs 12 freaking store bought old halloween costumes, never to be worn again.  college me should be ashamed, what was i thinking?!

sadly, there's two boxes still in my parents' attic that i didn't get to.  1 of kitchen things and 1 of clothes (old winter coats and swim suits, i'm almost positive.)  i was planning on clearing those out while i was there, but the circus that is pet sitting 3 dogs did not leave me much time beyond the holiday things.  they knew they outnumbered me, those little fur monsters.
21

November Spending Recap

under the rules of my spending frost, i'm going to limit my outings to 2 per month and 2 dinners with john (instead of 4 dinners and untracked/unlimited outings.)  additional outings will have to be paid for by earning money in other ways, like dog sitting.  i'm marking additional income as green and any spending as red.  if a date isn't listed, i didn't spend anything.  now some things were necessary, approved spending since this isn't a total spending freeze, but i decided to list them anyway.


november 1
+$110 sold old jewelry
-$20 chinese food with tara in the morning (holy halloween hangover.  i feel like i can never stock/cook anything to help a hangover like ordering in can.  what do you do?)
-$26 grocery store (mostly snack foods, see reason for chinese food)

november 3
-$13 beer for the apartment

november 4
-$47 ordered in greek food for dinner with john

november 7
+$25 paypal from swagbucks

november 8
-$11 blog sponsoring.  already committed, but it'll probably be the last time for awhile.
-$29 cleaning service for the apartment.  worth every penny.

november 10
+$60 sold my bar cart.  i didn't even want to move it back in august, but the boys fit it in the truck.  i don't use it any more.  so i listed it on craigslist, easy!
-$15 groceries, made italian food for john and myself.  and hawkeye.  and $6 of that was just their meatballs, because meat is expensive.

november 13
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
-$9 bought one of those hoods that covers your whole face and head for winter.  necessity, and if you don't agree, you live in the south.
-$154 hair appointment.  was supposed to be in october but i pushed it back and technically rolled the money over from my october budget.  and i pretty much only get it done twice a year (terrible, i know, i pretend 'every six weeks' means 'every six months.')

november 14
+$7
ashten bought an ad in my sidebar.  because she's awesome, obviously.  i then unapologetically stalked photos of her dog warner online.
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
-$27 groupon deal.  okay, hear me out.  i had the swagbucks money come in.  and then there was a really good sale at a store and groupon for half off that sale.  so, i bought the groupon and bought the things... which are christmas gifts for christmas 2015.  (it's not edible, obvs.)  i'm sure they'll have a similar deal next year, but now i'm done with really nice gifts for 6 people, i have a storage spot for them, and it's not even christmas 2014.  since it's something i buy often for myself, i know it was the best price - it came out to $5 per person for what would have been $20 per person.  i had to do it, people.  tell me i'm wrong.

november 15
-$14 taco bell.  went out in wrigley for my birthday and i'm incapable of leaving there without getting taco bell for me and hawkeye.

november 16
-$20 brunch with ida.  she came out the night before and stayed over.  we went to brunch with her sister, who i hadn't seen in years, so it was a nice treat.

november 19 - 23
+$500 stayed at my parents' house and watched their dogs while they were in vegas.

november 24
+$25 paypal from swagbucks
-$8 lunch with katie

november 26
+$40 sold side tables

november 28
+7 iva renewed her ad in my sidebar.  i love having her there, she's the one blogger i can always count on to learn something awesome from.

total: -$393 in spending, +$824 in bonus income.  net = +$431

i also paid my fixed bills, obviously - rent, internet, transportation ($100 cta pass), health insurance, utilities, netflix = $1355 or less.  this never changes, so i probably won't mention it again. 
all in all, i consider this a successful month for the spending frost.  my net spending total is in the green, but that's due to the bonus income (which will be less now that i've sold off most of what i intended to and won't be watching the dogs again until april.)  i think it was good to start with birthday month so i could ease into spending less.  all the birthday food freebies made it easier!  december is going to be tougher - i have 3 close friends' birthdays, plus the holidays.

i definitely learned that cash is my weakness as is having a partner in crime.  cash is like free money to me for some reason, i spend it without a second thought.  usually because cash is outside of my paycheck - it's 'bonus income.'  so it's not included in my initial monthly budget and therefore i don't feel the need to track it in my budget app.  the first four purchases in red were all in cash.  lesson learned - put cash in the bank asap.  and i usually only spend when someone else is with me, like tara or john.  if i'm on my own, i'm happy to stay in and eat whatever is in my fridge/pantry.  hopefully in december i can talk everyone into cheap places to eat and drink.

oh and things i almost caved and bought, but didn't: b&bw candles (john got me one for my birthday, perfect timing), an iphone app (that looked awesome but was $5 and for $5 it better spit out candy,) a dress at the limited, ice cream, white wine, potbelly's, shirts at maurices and venus, and a whole virtual cart full of things at victoria's secret.
22

Attention Black Friday Shoppers: Avoid the January Financial Hangover




i never got into too much credit card debt.  after i paid off my student loans and decided to just get the entire balance paid off my credit card, it only took about 3 months to knock it out.  now that i actually budget each month with a zero based budgeting software, i'm very conscious about what goes on my credit card.

the holidays just throw that out of whack though, don't they?  even when you concentrate on the spirit of the holiday season rather than on the gift giving, there's still so many other costs associated with the month of december - decor, extra and special meals, baking, extra activities, increased electric bills, even extra gas driving around to see your loved ones.  those things add up fast.  and as much as i love all of it (including the gift aspect!), it's just too easy to get caught up and lose sight of the 10 month spending frost that i'm on.  and suffering through a giant credit card bill in january isn't my idea of financial peace of mind.


the january financial hangover is a real thing.  it sets in when that credit card bill comes.  i'm sure you've experienced it before too, and you may have even set new year's resolutions to be better about your finances.  don't start 2015 on the wrong foot, because you'll lose steam in your financial plans, whether that's becoming debt free or saving money.  the best tip i can provide is just to make sure you plan.  christmas comes at the same time every year; it's not an emergency.  so plan for it.  know what you are able to spend and don't put your financial future at risk by losing sight of your goals.  another way to be prepared?  find places where you can make some extra money.

this year, capital one 360 has a black friday sale.  so take a pause from all those retail stores and check out the financial peace of mind you can have come january with all the deals from captital one 360, including new account bonuses, referral bonuses, and closing cost credits.  you can get a $100 bonus for opening a 360 checking account or a 360 savings account.  (both of which have no fees, and earn interest.)  you can get $40 for every person you refer to do the same.  how's that for financial peace of mind in the new year?


not only can you earn money right now, but capital one 360 will save you time and money all year long with their app and automatic savings plan.  do yourself a favor with your new year and get 2015 started off right, by working with a company that will help with your goals and keep finances at the top of your mind this holiday season.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
3

Posts I'm Never Going to Finish

i'm sure i can't be the only one out there with draft posts just sitting there.  and some of them have been sitting for a good long while.  not that they're bad topics, they're just the ones that occured to me as i was drifting off to sleep and now can't seem to finish them to save my life.  they're always there as a crutch for those 'what do i post?!' days and yet - i don't actually post them.  so here's my top 5, in all their unfinished glory, so i can guiltlessly delete them out of my drafts.

lies my mother told me
namely, there's one i'm still holding a grudge over.  for years, years, she would have warm m&m cookies on a plate when i got home from school.  that she told me she made.  until one day i went to the grocery with her and saw the exact same cookies in a plastic container in the bakery section.  lies!!  i about had a fit, all "moooooom, you liiiiiiied to me!!!" while she laughed and laughed.  i'm still mad.  i'm sure she told me other lies, but i'll never get passed the m&m cookie debacle long enough to flush out that post.

she took me to harry potter world, so grudge slightly forgiven.

things you think take forever, but actually take less than one minute
otherwise known as the list of disproportionately easy tasks that i procrastinate for days on end.  taking out the trash.  sorting the mail.  replacing the toilet paper roll.  and the kleenex box.  washing the dog's dishes.  checking a voicemail.  switching everything to online bill pay.  commenting on a blog post instead of just silently reading it.  i'd think of more, but then i'd just feel more guilty about all the things i was procrastinating.

reasons why my dog is better than your kid
redundant.  we all can agree that she is, no need to write a whole post about it.  has your kid ever sassed back, pooped his diaper, used permanent marker on the walls, thrown a tantrum, cried through the night?  because my dog hasn't.  unconditional waggy tail love and a solid 8 hours every night for the win.

tales of a cheapskate child
(1) i used to sell my halloween candy.  not hoard it, not eat it - sell it.  i would lay it out on my dresser, grouped by type, with post-its under each candy with a price per piece.  and i'd obsessively count it every day before and after school.  my mom would leave stacks of coins in place of the pieces she ate.  same when my friends and cousins came over.  (2) i'd only go to my track meets if my dad paid me.  i'd also only win if he agreed to $100 per win.  i loathe running, but i used to be quite good.  (3) i had a tip jar on the piano.  what?!  $1 per song, i'm not just giving it away here.  and i'm sure there's a lot of others, but they probably make me look even worse, so i'll leave it at those three.

blogs that never disappoint
every time i try to go back to this list, i get lost in the archives of allie and samantha.  so yeah, there's more great blogs of course, but i'll never stop laughing long enough to write a post about them.  i can't even nicely finish this post, because i'm back in the bitches gotta eat archives again.  it never stops being funny.

what draft posts are you never going to finish?
37

10 Best // Ways to Avoid People


1. netflix.  i don't even want to admit how close i am to finishing gilmore girls, considering i just started it a month ago...  anyway, next up is finishing the killing and starting the 100.  what are you watching?  i'm loving this what to watch next map.

2. learn. the age when kids can finally understand most of what i say.  no wonder i don't like them, they're no fun until junior high.

3. spend some quality time with your pets.  there's so many fun apps out there.  if you haven't already, download walk for a dog.  every time you track your walk with your pet and hit 1 mile, they donate to the local rescue organization of your choice.  and it's free.  oh, and you don't even have to have a dog to use it.  so exercise fiends out there, start tracking your runs!


4. shop online.  thinking up christmas gift ideas?  this shirt says everything these 'avoid people' blog posts stand for.  i want it.  also, this is a good list for where to find unique gifts.

5. prep for thanksgiving.  i don't cook for it, but i can certainly appreciate 21 big batch cocktails to get your family drunk.

6. then prep for the coming black friday.  can't believe it's already been a year since i wrote about the 6 life lessons you can learn from black friday.  also, scroll down to kathy's comment on that post, it's a gem.

7. laugh.  so i turned 30.  i may have only been 30 for one day, but i know this post couldn't be more true.  down to the onesies.


i'm not entirely sure i'm ready for the responsibility of a blanket scarf yet, but i'll think about it.

8. win.  a fun christmas gift you can personalize.  i've made two for john, they always end up so cute!

9. cook.  crock pot mashed potatoes.  make your thanksgiving a breeze.

10. vote for hawkeye, if you haven't already.  or, ya know, vote again, from another browser/computer.  we're from chicago, that's how we roll - vote early, vote often!

and if all that fails, i suppose you could venture out this weekend.


happy friday!
23

Guess. What. Day It Is.

no, not hump day.  it's my birthday.  30th birthday to be exact.

and on 30th birthdays, you don't have to write a real blog post.  thanks for the birthday memories, 20s.  i hope 30 is just as fun.


stephanie, out.
32

10 Best // Life Lately

1. blackhawks game date night.  with john, his brother eric, and eric's new girlfriend, nikki.  i like nikki, she understands the importance of getting in and out of the bathroom quickly in long-line situations like a stadium.  seriously, women, what are you doing in there?  and if your answer in any way involves your phone, please know that i hate you.  anyway, they won in overtime, it was a fun game!  thankful that it was before the spending freeze cause omg $17 for two cups of beer.  whaaaat?


2. halloween.  tara, megan, and i dressed like the sanderson sisters from hocus pocus.  took the bus to the bar and everything.  we also took like 4 photos, so fail on our parts.  i blame the 1 hour open bar.  1 hour, really?  well, i took it as a personal challenge.  i definitely won.

3. almost halfway through the first spending frost month (out of 10.  long ways to go.)  it's been very successful!  i have a post in drafts to go up at the end of the month and i update it when i spend or make money and so far, it's short and in the green.

4. i just have to get the last minute perishable things (namely, the cinnamon nuts my dad likes) and then my christmas shopping is totally done.  and i will have spent $0 out of pocket.  not too many things to be wrapped, but the stuff that does i'll be done with next weekend. 

5. $0 in large part due to swagbucks.  i just cashed in another $25, which brings my total up to $900 earned since mid-april of this year.  pretty cool, right?

6. i may or may not also be already planning next year's christmas... in my defense, spending $0 takes some year round work and planning, okay?!

7. he knows what's up.  saving money is sexy.


8. i'm catching up on my inbox!  gmail decided to freak out and send a bunch of blog comments and emails to spam, so i'm working through them.  don't mind me if you get a reply to your 2 week old message... damn gmail, but at least it's getting done.

9. birthday freebies galore!  my birthday isn't for another week, but the freebies roll in throughout the entire month.  i've gotten free qdoba, corner bakery, au bon pain, dunkin donuts, jersey mike's, and sephora, and i still have a long ways to go!  i've also gotten nachos from ida and a pizza from my roommate, so i have yet to grocery shop this month.

10. hawkeye.  passed out after a long weekend.

22

How You Can Make My Day, Netflix

dearest netflix,  let's discuss some things.  i could write you a love letter, but that would be boring and i'm sure you get plenty of those anyway.  i do love you, heck, you come in just under nachos but way above above sliced bread.  that's high praise, my friend.  but there's always room for improvement, isn't there?  i only share my ideas and criticism because i want you to grow, netflix, and be the best you can be.  that's what friends do.  don't worry, it's not a long list.


- have an option to turn off the 'continue?' are you still watching function.  it feels like judgment, netflix.  yes, i just watched 5 episodes of gilmore girls in a row.  thanks for the bathroom break reminder but indeed, i'm still here.

- boy meets world.  every season.  it needs to happen.  you already know that you need to stream every show that aired on tgif, right?  well, i think you should start with boy meets world.

- can we also do a 90s nickelodeon tv shows update?  salute your shorts, hey dude, and legends of the hidden temple would be fab.  if i can get greedy for a minute, i also wouldn't complain about you adding clarissa, alex mack, pete and pete, and guts.

- from there, let's do the disney channel original movies.  i've seen xenon more recently than any 90s tv show, but i'd still appreciate seeing her on netflix.  i own brink, of course, but it's been years since i've seen johnny tsunami, smart house, the luck of the irish, or motocrossed.  (you can skip wish upon a star, though.  katherine heigl was just as annoying back in 1996.)

- do you know how many nicolas cage movies there are in the world?  78.  do you know how many are on netflix?  8.  it's a travesty.  fix this.  i need to watch ghost rider as often as if i still had cable and tuned it to fx any day of the week.  i appreciate all the danny trejo, i really do, but come on.  nic cage.

- the organization needs work.  i mean specifically the organization of my list of 'to be watched' things.  it's very long.  can we break this up, use some sub-lists?  i need 'things to watch with john' and 'all things wwe' and 'things i'm going to watch even though i'm not 10 any more.'

- can we earn points?  look, i watch a lot of netflix, okay?  i'm not hiding it here.  i also like to be rewarded.  so... let's discuss points.  i'd like some points for every hour of netflix or every new show or whatever.  points that can be redeemed for things like unlocking new shows or a dollar off each month.  maybe i can earn enough points that you'd let me watch season 3 of orange is the new black a week before the commoners who don't watch 20+ hours of your shows all weekend, because that's what friends do.  reward the loyalty, netflix.  which brings me to my last point,

- i'm sure this goes without saying, but just in case - don't raise fees.  $7.99 is cool.  remember when you split the services and increased prices and there was an uproar?  let's just try some smooth sailing for awhile.  at $7.99 a month.

all those things would be fabulous updates.  let's do this.  and thanks for the good times, netflix.  love ya like a sister.  or how i imagine i'd love a sister, if i weren't an only child.

love, steph
42

Choose Your Own Challenge Link Up {October Recap}

it's link up day!  the theme for october was food.

my first goal was to limit my food spending, as in eat out of the pantry and not grocery shop beyond that first initial trip.  success!  i ate a lot of soup, my friends.  why is canned soup so easy to accumulate?  but it was tasty and fun to figure out how to make meals interesting with what i had left.  and now i have more room in the cabinets, and didn't waste any money on thrown out food.  i posted about my saving money on groceries process here and here.

second was too eat out/order in less.  i give this a pass.  it was definitely less than previous months, but still not where i'd like it to be.  you want to know why?  mcdonalds monopoly.  damnit mcdonalds.  this month should be much better!

and third was to make a fall drink.  fail.  total fail.  i forgot to even try.  i had vodka and orange juice on hand and i didn't want to buy anything else.  megan made a drink using loopy vodka (tastes like fruit loops, exactly) but that's not very fall-like either.  i did drink cider beer a lot, but i didn't make that obviously.  whomp whomp.

so let's hear it!  how did you do in october?

general guidelines:
1) if you want, follow your hosts not entirely perfect, life according to steph, and keeping up with ashley and cody.  (i like twitter, that way i can follow you back and tweet you encouragement throughout the challenge.)
2) link up your post about your results below for the month - we want to hear all about what you did, how you fared, what resources you used, what you'd recommend to others, etc.
3) please link to your actual post about your results.  links not having to do with the challenge will be deleted.
4) feel free to use this button, created by the lovely sarah at venus trapped in mars.

Not Entirely Perfect




these next two months, november and december, are pretty crazy for everyone, regardless of what holidays you celebrate or where you live.  so we decided to keep the themes simple - let's not add anything else to our plates.

the theme for november is organize, which i talked about on saturday.  what will you be getting organized this month?  i'll be working on the things stored up in my mom's attic - yikes!

the theme for december?  simplify.  just take something off your to do list - make one less kind of cookie, use only lights on the tree, say no to 1 holiday party, make only 1 side dish to bring to dinner.  just make the month a little easier on yourself and take time to appreciate the little things.
17

What Does The Fox Say




what's that, you ask?  why, my monday morning treat for you - that would be my friends demonstrating the moves of just dance 2015.  we had the xbox one version, and it's awesome.  i'll be the first to admit, i'm not great at video games.  so when john and eric play their shooter or sports games, i'm pretty lost.  but dancing?  that i can do.  (not on camera, that's what my guinea pig friends are for.  nice pals, aren't they?)

there's so many songs to choose from.  katy perry, ellie goulding, frozen, one direction, calvin harris, the macarena (which the boys were ridiculously good at), run dmc, aerosmith, even 80s - 




no controllers or anything, just pop the game in, stand in front of the tv, pick your song, and dance your butt off - it picks up your moves and gives you up to 5 stars based on how well you're doing.  we didn't test out every song yet, but the ones we did test you could get up to 6 people.  eric (in red) can obviously attest to the fact that it's a great workout, he was sweating.  fun and calorie burning - there's a song for everyone!

tara and john did a nice duet to frozen's let it go.  the 3 stars above elsa means that tara was winning (and she did win.)  after the song, they show you a 'highlight reel' which i filmed so you could see the sped up highlights the game chose.


but the best one?  what does the fox say.  here's some candids:





so good, right?  okay, let me give you some details.  you can buy just dance 2015 here, available on 6 different gaming platforms.  obviously you should - what a great christmas gift.  another cool thing to note is that just dance 2015's company, ubisoft, partnered with stomp out bullying to bring attention to national bullying prevention month, making sure kids and teens know it's ok to dance to your own beat.  so your money is going to a good cause and i think anyone in your life will have an excellent time playing.  tara and i left the boys 8 hours ago, and they're still dancing away.

now then - you didn't think i'd leave you without a video, did you?!  the new choreography is seriously hilarious this year, get ready!


you. are. welcome. happy monday!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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