Ready to Tackle November

10.31.2014
and so today begins my 10 month spending frost.  (i say today since i assume you're reading this on saturday and not friday night, and if you are reading this on friday night, it's halloween - close this page right meow and go eat a candy bar.  bonus points if it comes from some little kid's trick or treat bag.  double triple bonus points if said kid is in no way related to you.)

while not a total ban on spending (that pesky rent), my frost is a ban on pretty much anything non-essential.  of course, i pick halloween weekend/the weekend tara is in town to start this, so chances are i'm already over budget.  but i hope not!  it's definitely going to be tough in the upcoming holiday months, but since my christmas shopping is already done and november is my birthday, i think i can hold out.  i have a notebook that i'm going to keep a running tally of all my spending in, including rent and other monthly fixed bills.  i also track this stuff in ynab.  i might do a post at the end of each month with the numbers.  not that you all care, but it keeps me accountable.

today also marks the first day of november and the start of a new month of the create your own challenge link up.  last month's theme was food, so link up your results this coming thursday.  can't wait to see how you did on the month, especially if you have any recipes to share!  and remember, we like any posts about goal setting - not just food.


the theme for november (link up coming first week of december) is organize.  december sets in pretty quickly and the month is full of holiday craziness - gifts, wrapping paper, baking supplies, decor, the list goes on.  so take november to get your space organized.  ideally, before thanksgiving!  get rid of any decor you don't use any more, clear out any kids toys that can be donated.  make room in your fridge and pantry for all the holiday goods that are about to come in.  having family over?  switch the furniture around, set up the linen closet so it's easy for them to navigate, use up those travel bottles by setting them out for guests.

the challenge can be anything you want it to be.  just do yourself a favor and get something organized before december.  near-future you will be very thankful.  as for me, i'll be getting my gift giving organized - i currently have a mish mash box of gifts sitting in the hutch in the dining room.  i'm going to get those all together and wrapped up so it can be all ready to go whenever i see people in december.  i'll also be continuing on my decluttering challenge; i plan on specifically tackling some things in my mom's attic.  i'll be at her house watching her dogs for 5 days later this month so i should have plenty of time to get through my boxes there.  wish me luck!

10 [Non] Spooky Facts About Halloween

10.30.2014
happy halloween!  personally, i can't wait to get this party started.  we're dressing as the sanderson sisters tonight and i'm excited to celebrate.  i'm a big fan of the celebrating portion of the holiday, though i've graduated from marshmallow filled chocolates to marshmallow vodka.  anyone wondering where halloween comes from?  i have the answer today.  and more facts.  well not me personally, but iva did all the research for me to share.  i'll turn it over now to the queen of fact finding, iva of why i'm cray.

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN and welcome Not Entirely Perfect readers! In the spirit of Halloween I deemed it necessary to explore the background of this sweet holiday. Known as ‘All Hallows' Eve’, Halloween can be traced back about 2,000 years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival held around November 1st called Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"), which means "summer's end” [source].

From what records have indicated it was an annual meeting at the end of the harvest year, a time to gather resources for the winter months and bring animals back from the pastures. A time of communing with the dead, according to folklorist John Santino. It was a widespread belief that it was the day spirits of the dead would cross over; it also provides a safe way to play with the concept of death.

Per History Professor at York University, Nicolas Rogers, "According to the ancient sagas, Samhain was the time when tribal peoples paid tribute to their conquerors and when the sidh [ancient mounds] might reveal the magnificent palaces of the gods of the underworld," Rogers wrote. Samhain was less about death or evil than about the changing of seasons and preparing for the dormancy (and rebirth) of nature as summer turned to winter, he said.

With that said, here are 10 [Non]Spooky Facts About Halloween: 

1. Samhainophobia - the fear of Halloween

2. Trick Or Treating may have come from a 1000 year old English tradition where children would go door to door with something called soul cakes, they would sing and hand these to members in their community.

3. Turnips and Beets were some of the original vegetables carved into Jack-O-Lanturns but in the America’s pumpkin is much more common spreading their popularity.

4. The largest pumpkin in the world was harvested in California and weighed 2, 032 pounds.

5. From 1863 to 1936 Pumpkin was used (unsuccessfully so) as a way to treat a variety of health ailments.

6. 90% of a pumpkin is water

7. Candy Corn used to be called Chicken Feed

8. October 30th is National Candy Corn Day

9. Finding a spider on Halloween is considered good luck, it is thought to be a representation of your reincarnated buddies.

10. Silly String is banned in LA on Halloween due to the major cause of property damage it has caused.

These were featured facts from a Mental Floss video - John Green explains it more eloquently so if you have a few minutes you are welcome and encouraged to watch it below:

   

Halloween ain’t my jam but I do appreciate a great set of facts. if you’re out celebrating be sure to do so safely and share photos of your costume! I’m not one that enjoys being afraid, or unnecessarily activating my amygdala for that matter, so while you are visiting haunted houses, I’ll keep my happy arse home with a glass of whiskey watching Golden Girls because I’m a wimp and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

What are your Halloween Plans?  Do you enjoy being scared?

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well i learned something!!  you can go say hey to iva here.  yes, i directed you to the post about her new kitten, waffle.  so cute!! (comments turned off here so you can go say hi there.)

My Epically Decluttered Wardrobe (Update #1)

my 10 month declutter plan has officially begun.  heck not only for me but sunday i'm heading over to my friend's house, to help her make room for her baby coming in february.  for myself though, i decided to start with my closet.  i've been majorly decluttering this area for the past year and got rid of a ton of things before moving, so i figured (correctly) that it was an area that was mostly done and i could check it off the list.  i only found about 60 more things to get rid of (detailed below), but i also wanted to count up what i was keeping.  (1) so i could see exactly what needing replacing and if anything was missing and (2) to keep that number in mind when i determine at the end of all this whether i got close to getting rid of 50% of the stuff in my place.

i've read other blogs on minimalism and closet decluttering, and they give great advice and show impressive numbers on how much they have.  but their numbers often come with an asterisk saying "does not include underwear, socks, workout clothes, pajamas, etc."  well, isn't that part of a wardrobe?  it is to me.  my numbers include all of those things.  every single thing you'd find in my closet and dresser.  even coats and winter accessories.  and jewelry!

the number of things left?  199.  i'm pretty impressed with myself!  here's the breakdown by category: (and tossed means tossed, donated, or sold.)

the clothes
kept my 1 suit.  i probably need more than 1 eventually but my current job just doesn't require it, as i mostly stay out of court.
tops.  tossed 2, kept 27.  i was even surprised that i wear all 27, but i truly do.  and remember, this is for every season, not just fall/winter.
sweaters.  tossed 2, kept 5
cardigans.  tossed 3 4, kept 6 5
tank tops.  tossed 1, kept 5
t shirts.  tossed 1, kept 3
work pants.  tossed 0, kept 3
jeans.  tossed 0, kept 9.  i still think 9 is excessive, but since everything is in good condition, i decided to keep the extras and when one pair gets worn out, i won't replace it.
dresses.  tossed 0, kept 11
skirts.  tossed 2, kept 5
sweatshirts.  tossed 3, kept 1
coats/jackets/blazers.  tossed 2, kept 5

the little things
underwear.  tossed 5, kept 23.  this is probably still excessive but victoria's secret makes cute things and i can't give them up.  underwear in good condition will always be put to use, right?!
bras. tossed 0, kept 10
socks.  tossed 0, kept 10
tights.  tossed 5, kept 2
lingerie.  tossed 2, kept 5
pj/yoga pants.  tossed 3, kept 5
pj/yoga tops.  tossed 0 2, kept 4
workout bottoms.  tossed 1 3, kept 3 1
workout tops.  tossed 1, kept 3
swim suits.  tossed 0, kept 2
robe.  tossed 0, kept 1

accessories
shoes.  tossed 7, kept 15 (would shoes go under clothes, or accessories? eh. whatever.)
purses.  tossed 3, kept 10
belts.  tossed 2, kept 3
winter wear.  tossed 3, kept 6
jewelry.  tossed 13, kept 15
sunglasses.  tossed 0, kept 3

total decluttered: 58 66
total kept: 199 198
22.5% 25%

maybe when i get my act together i'll make a spreadsheet or something.  until then, i'm pretty pleased with my list of less than 200 things.  hmm what to tackle next.

10 Steps to Saving on Groceries [Part 2]

10.28.2014
you can read part 1 here.  part 2 of saving on groceries:


(6) i drink water.  i get free coffee at work.  i'm sure it helps the budget that i hate pop, juice, carbonation, and flavored anything.  i don't even like lemon in my water.  so buy a brita filter water bottle if you need to, just switch to water.

(7) don't waste anything.  if something's going to go bad, freeze it.  if you're about to go shopping, your fridge, freezer, and pantry should be pretty well empty (unless you stockpile.  small apartment means i don't.)  try really hard for a month not to throw anything away.  you'll be amazed at what you were wasting before.  track your eating/food wasting habits so you can see what you actually should be buying at the grocery, not what you think you should.  i can't remember the last time i thew out any scraps of food, it just doesn't happen any more.

(8) get discount gift cards.  i used gift card granny and got a $50 card to my local grocery for $38.  that's 12 free dollars.  there's a lot of sites like that out there, and they can alert you when a new card comes in.  personally, i think you should do this for any kind of shopping.  the discounts add up!  and use your store's loyalty program.  mine mails me a 10% off coupon every week.  (this is sales tax in chicago.  whomp.  yeah, it sucks here.)  but 10% off is still money saved.  i also use lozo to enter my grocery list and it emails me when coupons are available that match my items.  if you can save money on your regular list, you can use extra funds to purchase one (trust me, keep it to one) splurge item each time.  like oreos.

(9) look for budget meal websites.  my personal favorite is budget bytes.  she has a black bean burger recipe that'll make 6 burgers (toppings like the bun included) for $6.  that's a week's worth of dinner for just $6, less if you already have the spices on hand.  and you likely do (side note - shop ethnic food stores and dollar stores for spices.)  add 1 or 2 of her side dishes if you think the portions won't be enough food for you.  for dinners, i generally pick 4 of her recipes each month, and either make them all at once and freeze things so i can have it whenever, or make 1 per week and eat that for 5/6 days in a row.  which leads me to:

(10) mostly, i'm a super simple, picky eater.  seriously.  get me 2 large bags of frozen veggies ($2), 1 box of pasta ($1), and 1 jar of sauce ($1, cheaper and way better if you make your own, my dad makes mine!), and i have lunch for a week.  for $4.  my other lunch go-tos (baked potato, beans and veggies; rice, beans and veggies) also come it at $4.  so i spend $16 each month on lunch.  half what you'd spend ordering 1 measly thing off a $1 menu somewhere.  and it's even less when i price it right, like getting 2 for $1 boxes of pasta and fresh seasonal veggies on sale.  not every meal needs to be some pinterest-worthy fancy gourmet looking thing.  breakfast?  who cares, i'm barely awake.  oatmeal is fine.  skinny bitch (a vegan book) recommends simply fruit.  eat a piece of fruit.  still hungry?  eat another one.  that's breakfast.  don't make it complicated.  (and bags of apples are incredibly cheap!)  i'm good with, and generally prefer, eating the same things all the time.  i was telling lauren, i have the palette of a picky 6 year old.

and that's my 10 tips, grocery trip recap to follow soon.  i certainly don't think you can feed teenagers and 2+ people households on this, but it's what works for me.  i also sit at a desk all day, so i don't need snacks and tons of protein like super athletic people (but i do love beans and peanut butter.)  if you need snacks, you can also keep it simple and under budget - peanut butter and wheat crackers, hummus and pita, etc, etc.  any questions?  other tips?  add them in the comments!

i pin some of my favorite recipes here (not all vegan, i mark non vegan recipes with a j, for john!) and my favorite meal planning resources are under organize.

10 Steps to Saving Money on Groceries [Part 1]

10.27.2014
i've gotten a few questions about my grocery budget.  after my next shopping trip, i plan on taking photos and posting my receipt so you can see exactly what i do, along with my meal plan for the month.  in the mean time, here's my top tips for saving on groceries.


(1) you want to really save money on groceries?  eat vegan.  it's as easy as that.  if you look at your bill and how much each thing on your list costs per ounce/pound/whatever, you'll see in a second that you're paying outrageous amounts for meat and dairy.  per pound, compared to produce, grains, and beans, it's the meat and cheese that are killing your budget.  the less you eat of those things, the more you'll save.  i'm not the person to give you tips on cutting back consumption or stretching your meat further, but there's plenty of blogs out there that tell you just how to do those things.  for me, it's just easier to eat strictly vegan.  (i eat cheese when john and i eat out though, that's for sure! mmm nachos.)

(2) you've got to get over eating hang-ups.  really.  carbs are not the devil.  lack of portion control is.  you can eat carbs and starches but they're just like anything else - you have to watch your portions.  i guarantee you, if you've never looked up correct portion sizes before, you'll be shocked at how much you're overeating.  you've also got to be willing to eat seasonally.  you'll spend less on in-season produce, so be willing to try what's on sale.  like, you're not getting fresh strawberries in december.  just deal with it.  usually whatever produce is on the front page of the store's flyer is what you'll be buying that week.

(3) meal plan.  you cannot go into a grocery store and wing it if you want to save money.  you have to go in with a plan.  there's so many great resources out there, just search meal plan on pinterest and give it a try.  you can start with just one week at a time.  personally, i shop right around the 1st for the entire month due to (a) laziness, (b) lack of car, and (c) the fact that i eat anything i can't freeze first and then save the stuff that lasts a long time (potatoes, apples, rice, frozen veggies, pasta) for later in the month.  it's absolutely possible to meal plan for an entire month and only make 1 shopping trip, i do it every month.  and less trips = less opportunities to buy last minute unnecessary indulgences.

(4) meal prep on sundays (or whatever day works best for you.)  that way, lunches and dinners are all lined up in the fridge and you can resist the urge for takeout.  there's also a new thing about how reheated pasta is better for you.  who knows how true it is, but i'm going with it.  invest in matching glass single serving size storage containers.  they're worth it.

(5) cut the processed crap.  yes, those lean cuisine dinners only cost $1 each but... i can make a full week of better, more filling lunches for $4.  total.  for 6 days.  and you're likely to eat not just 1 of those little dinners, you'll need sides.

part 2 to follow tomorrow!

i pin some of my favorite recipes here (not all vegan, i mark non vegan recipes with a j, for john!) and my favorite meal planning resources are under organize.

10 Best // Ways to Avoid People

10.23.2014


1. netflix.  what are you watching?  if it's not gilmore girls (again. and again.) you're missing out.  i love it!  it brings back good memories of watching all the seasons with my mom.  but i've also been re-watching my fave, my boys.  and just started the killing after all your recommendations about it.

2. it's breast cancer awareness month.  check out this post on the scar project.

3. bake.  snickerdoodle apple cobbler.  wait, what?  yes.  do it.

4. sign up for free things my birthday is next month and i cannot wait for all my freebies to start rolling in.  if you're not eating and drinking for free during your birth month, you're doing it wrong.  sign up now!

5. get some blog work done.  like branding.  business cards anyone?

6. save.  a lot of people want to know how i spend so little on groceries.  (i'll post more about it soon.)  but start with this list of cheap but healthy foods.  personally, my prices are even lower than what's listed.

7. read. a great post by kristyn on changing, and accepting the person you are now.  (also, look how pretty she is in her wedding dress!)

8. laugh. here's some commandments you might have missed.  good thing i caught that one about boiling kids, gotta change my weekend plans.

9. plan.  the holiday season is coming people.  i know you don't like to think about it until after thanksgiving, but planning ahead can keep you from whipping out that credit card in december.  (and while we're on the subject of christmas, how cute is this?)

10. win.  and earn.  get on swagbucks and get entered in the giveaway!

happy friday!

A 10 Month Declutter Project

10.22.2014
along with my spending frost, the next 10 months are also going to be one long declutter project.  the two tend to go hand in hand.


the goal: get rid of 50% of the things currently in my possession.  (and obviously, to not bring in anything new!)  i have no clue what 50% is going to be, but i plan on keeping count.

why:
(1) if you've never done a giant purge of your stuff before, let me tell you - nothing else in the world makes you quite as mindful of the crap you're buying and bringing into your home.  you have so much you don't need and probably never needed in the first place.  but somehow, it's there.  taking up space, wasting money, causing stress.  the real way to change your habits is to purge this stuff.  it'll make you think twice before shopping ever again!  even better when you keep track or tackle large projects at once (like over a weekend) because you can really see just how much you got rid of that you didn't need.  and then not buy it again.
(2) specifically, i don't like packing and moving shit i don't need.  with 10 months to go before moving (again, seriously, every year. gah.) i want to clear out everything that isn't totally necessary and/or loved.  also, i still have things in my mom's attic.  granted, it's a christmas tree, 2 empty plastic boxes, and 1 box of way too many halloween costumes, but still.  it's there.  sorry mom.  i've massively decluttered my things before, so i'm not expecting giant results but it's important nonetheless.  50% might be unobtainable, but why not?
(3) i like minimalism.  it feels good.  i feel like i win every time i get rid of something.
(4) during a 10 month spending freeze, getting rid of things is much better than going shopping!

anticipated easiest area: my closet.  it's gotta be practically done by now already, i did so good the last time around.  i've got less than 50 hangers and minimal things in drawers.  and i believe only 20 pairs of shoes.  (but friends and parents reading this, if you ever need a gift idea for me, let me give you this one - victoria's secret gift card. the percentage of things in my wardrobe from there would shock you - as in, 100% of my bras, underwear, pajamas, and yoga pants and at least 3 shirts.  so really.  gift me vs, please and thank you.  it'll be put to good use!)

anticipated hardest area: stuff at my mom's house.  it's almost all holiday related, so i have to assess as each holiday comes around.  plus it's tough to get up in the uninsulated attic (always -40 or +102 degrees) and get stuff out and to a donation place, and since it's not in anyone's way, i tend to procrastinate this area.  but, i will be staying there to watch the dogs for 5 days in november, so that should give me some time to really get things done.

area that needs help: kitchen.  i don't even cook that much and when i do, it's easy - cupcakes, things that take 1 or 2 pots, crockpot cooking.  i have gadgets and i don't know why.  i need figure out what i don't use and downsize.

i think i'll do an update once a month on the number of things i've gotten rid of, plus the number in that category that's left.  i.e. tossed 2 pairs of shoes, 16 left.  to help see if i make it to 50%.  i'm actually anticipating being far under 50%, for the sole reason that i've already decluttered so much.  i know i can do more, but 50%?  probably not.  but i want to try.

I Swear I Can Be a Good Daughter

10.21.2014
let me tell you the story about how my mom called to make sure the cartel wasn't sending her drugs.  so, i get this e-mail from bouqs, right?  you've heard of them.  heck yes i want to review some pretty flowers that come from next to a volcano.  how cool.  of course, i can't keep flowers alive.  i thought instead that i'd be all nice and send them to my mom.  i picked a pretty orange lily bouquet option called 'the great pumpkin' because, hey, fall.  filled out all my info and her info on the website (super quick ordering process.)  i figured, since i filled out my name, that it would be seen.  i guess not.  i guess only if you write it in the message area, the one in which i only wrote 'happy halloween!'  

i got them delivered on a wednesday, when my mom would be home.  i got a ship notice, they were delivered on time, all was well.  except - all she read was 'happy halloween' and a shipping address from ecuador.  "ecuador?  who's in ecuador?  did someone send drugs and get the address wrong?  don't they have drug sniffing dogs who suss this out?  how did drug flowers make it to my door?"  my mom isn't always logical.  or maybe i'm just a lame daughter who never sends flowers so it was so totally unbelievable that they could be from me, and not the cartel.


so, my mother called the number associated with the order... my cell phone.  she didn't know it was my number until i answered.  and then still asked me if i was sure i didn't order my flowers with a side of illegal substances.  gotta love it.  but anyway, yeah - moral of this story: (a) sign your name to things.  (b) send your mom flowers more often.  (c) bouqs isn't lying when they say these flowers come from south america, next to a volcano!


according to bouqs, the flowers are grown at the equator, next to a volcano, which is why all your options are so super colorful.  sun and minerals and all that.  i just recommend them for being super pretty and getting delivered actually when i ordered them and not the day before like has happened with other companies on valentines day.  john likes that they have a concierge service, who emails you before important dates to remind you to send flowers.

look at the color.  and detail.  and how healthy they look.  they arrived on a wednesday, these photos were taken on a saturday, and they're still going strong.


and now you know.  so go order pretty flowers.  maybe even for your mom.  but also maybe warn her they're coming.

A 10 Month Spending... Frost

10.20.2014
well, a spending freeze is no spending.  so my 10 month shopping ban is more like a little frost, since some spending is allowed.  10 months because i know i can't make it 1 year.  i move next september when my lease is up and there's always costs associated with that.  so november 1, 2014 - august 31, 2015.  totally doable.


why:
(1) moving next september.  my lease will be up and john and i will be buying a house.  saving money for that needs to happen for sure.  this is probably the main reason.
(2) travel.  i, unlike most people, hate saving and budgeting money for travel.  on my list of wants and desires, travel isn't even ranked except for an occasional trip to vegas.  i dislike travel very, very much.  besides enjoying the comforts of my own home and my dog, i'm terrified of flying.  like, mix 2 xanax into my 7th mimosa if you want to get me on a plane kind of terrified.  i much prefer destinations i can drive to.  but, flying travel must be done.  my best friend is in california and i have to go visit.  at some point.  and it's freaking expensive to fly to and stay in l.a., damn.  john also wants to go to vegas soon (april, until i had a freakout about the cdc's lack of, what's that second c stand for, oh right, control, and decided we're on lock down) and do an all-inclusive someplace warm in the future.  he is as bad about flying as i am, so i don't even know who's going to get us on and off the planes.  but i'm going to start saving anyway.
(3) emergency fund.  isn't that always the way?  it should be like 6 months of expenses, and i've been putting it off since i still have the parental safety net.  which is ridiculous, i'm almost 30 (but it's nice to know they'll always help me.)  i think the usual number is $10,000.  who knows where that number came from, but $7k to go.  ouch.
(4) i've been debt free since paying off student loans in february of this year and my credit card (a small bill, about $1,000) in april.  i'd rather save what i was making in payments than experience that whole 'lifestyle inflation' thing.

my acceptable purchases (besides fixed bills like rent):
- groceries.  but i only spend about $50 per month here. (this number seems to shock people, but remember, though i eat cheese when i go out, at home i eat strictly vegan.  if you want to save money on groceries, eat vegan.  meat, dairy and lots of desserts are what make your bill go up.)
- pet supplies.  not that i go crazy and buy 10 toys and $50 worth of treats each month, but hawkeye gets at least $70 in the budget each month for food, grooming, flea meds, etc etc. plus at least $40 per month to save up for the vet expenses come april.  hawkeye's account is never touched or subject to spending freezes.  she's princess.
- pre-approved clothing items.*  i made a list of items i know i need.  i guess mostly to replace things that are getting worn out (like the tank tops i wear under everything) and a couple of things i realized are big gaps in my wardrobe.  it's a short list and shouldn't cost much.
- replacement clothing items.  everything i kept during round 1 of closet purging seems to be in very good condition, so i don't foresee anything needing replacement.  however, since i have a minimalist wardrobe and wear the same pieces all the time, if i break a heel on my black pumps or get a big hole in my white sweater, i need to replace those.  i don't have backups. 

*when i say clothes, i mean everything involved in getting dressed, including accessories, shoes and purses.

what i'm not buying:
- excessive eating out/ordering in.  nixing this category completely for 10 months is totally unrealistic.  but i can definitely limit it.  i'll set a small budget for it each month.  this is easier through the next 2 months since john is on 7-10s (10 hour days, 7 days a week) and he is my eating out partner in crime.  we do once a week, but i think i'll cut it down to twice a month.  and he has to start loving my coupons.  november = birthday month = so. much. free. food.
- gifts and holiday spending.  i include this in the 'not buying' category because it won't come out of my paychecks/monthly budget.  all gift giving/holiday spending this year is going to be paid for by swagbucks.
- clutter-causing entertainment.  i think of this category as things like books and magazines, dvds, candles, home decor, etc.  really, shouldn't be an issue.  i get real simple, glamour, self, and cosmo all delivered to me - free!  i earned enough points on recyclebank in the last few months that i have 1 year subscriptions to all those for free.  i don't buy books ever since i don't like the clutter (same for dvds, i only have 2) and i just get everything at the library.  what will probably entice me more than anything is a new phone.  i'm still on the iphone 4 (never had siri) so i'm pretty behind.  but, it works just fine.  i'm not shelling out to replace it unless it breaks.  even though i'm years beyond being eligible for an upgrade, it makes the monthly price go up and puts me back under a 2 year contract.  i like none of those things.  so i may start putting away dollars each month to get a newer model off ebay.  staying away from candles will also be pretty hard.  damn you b&bw and your glorious scents.
- excessive outings.  again, can't nix this completely (though i'll try.)  going out and doing things with my friends is fun.  but i'm going to try to limit these events, find cheap and free things to do, have people over more, and plan ahead for bigger cost events by earning extra money.  like selling some things i declutter and pet sitting/dog walking.  (mom pays me to watch her dogs and people in my neighborhood are some seriously lazy ass pet owners.  more money for me.)

things you'll be surprised i'm not buying:
- makeup, toiletries and household supplies.  i actually have a stockpile large enough to cover everything in these categories until mid-summer.  i think i can make it all last until the move.  except toilet paper.  because we seem to go through that fast and also stuart likes to play with it and it's too cute to stop him.  whatever, i use coupons and get toilet paper practically free anyway.  worth the price of a little kitty happiness.  i might have to adjust as things start running out, but that's seriously at least 6 months from now.
- things i already don't buy.  coffee (i get it free at work), fast food (besides my fave, taco bell, but i include that in the eating out i do with john), cable, anything car related since i don't have one.  there's a surprising number of things that i really just don't waste money on anymore!

10 Best // Life Lately

10.16.2014
1. it's almost halloween, my favorite holiday.  i went shopping with megan for all the pieces for our costumes (with tara too) - the sanderson sisters from hocus pocus.  we're pretty excited!  no idea how it'll turn out but i'm happy to drink and bounce around yelling 'amok amok amok.'

2. i love that my friends work so close to me.  i got to have lunch with katie and dinner with ida this month.  also, ida is a frugal queen like myself and went to dinner at a place where i literally spent $6.61 and was stuffed.  in downtown chicago.  magic.  i love cheap dinner.

3. date night.  well, never ending happy hour.  there's a bar 3 blocks from me that allows dogs.  hawkeye sits on her little stool and gets all the attention, like the princess that she is.


4. i'm not sure this qualifies as a 'best' given how i feel about babies but... my best friend meredith is knocked up and due april 10.  certainly a 'best' for her but babies are gross.  also, i've never ever held one in my entire life and she's all 'you're coming for the birth and you're going to hold her/him, auntie peffy.' (mere has called me peffy/peppy since we were 11, just go with it.)  we don't know if it's a girl or boy yet, she might decide not to find out at all because her fiance doesn't want to know and she can't keep a secret.  but she does have names picked out already.

5. i watched my mom's dogs last weekend.  they went out of town and i just stayed at their house.  they live like real dogs, so princess hawkeye was very confused by 'walks' and 'meal times' and 'no dogs on the bed.'  you couldn't keep my fluff nugget off a bed if you tried.  but they all had a fun time, everyone was tired come sunday night.


6. the pretty pretty flowers i got my mom.  perfect for fall.  more to come on these.


7. i don't want to jinx it, but i might actually have a working computer.  remember last week when i said that it was back to normal?  yeah that lasted 1 day.  i've been without a computer at work for 1.5 weeks but a new hard drive was ordered and it's working... for now.  knock on wood.

8. october is the birth month of my llbff tara!  since she was working tuesday, and is in iowa, we didn't get to celebrate.  but we'll toast when she's in town for halloween.  happy birthday love!


9. my new roommate, stuart.  well, i got a human roommate, and this is her fur baby!  he and hawkeye are still getting used to each other.  he's not ready to be her full time friend yet, and she finds this unacceptable.  she also finds it unacceptable when he jumps on my her bed.  and then she chases him back into his room, eats a couple nuggets of his food, and they have to start the whole 'trust and friendship' process all over again.


10. this is what hawkeye calls 'turn down service.'  i make the bed every day so she can un-make it by the time i get home.

"you're welcome!"

Not-A-New-Year Resolutions

10.15.2014
no need to adjust your calendars, it is not, in fact, 2015 yet.  it's not even halloween 2014.  i'm just a crazy person who decided that i have things i want to get done and i'm too impatient to wait 2.5 months and start these things on january 1.  that, and i can't think of a good reason why my year long resolutions can't be within whatever 12 months i choose them to be.  (i'm actually thinking this will be a november 2014 - to end of august 2015 challenge, which makes it 10 months, but that's neither here nor there. yet.)

oh yes, there's the choose your own adventure challenge, my 101 in 1001 list, and now my not-a-new-year resolutions.  i like setting goals, what of it?  it's somehow more satisfying to check it off a list and report back here to the blog that it is to just do it and keep my mouth shut.  and it keeps me from watching tv all night/weekend.


so here's what i'm thinking i want to work on.  starting asap, and not in 2015:

1. purge, purge, purge.  i love the freeing feeling of getting rid of things i don't need.  you probably wouldn't even believe the amount of things i've gotten rid of in the last 2 years.  (organizing all my belongings was something i checked off my 101 list pretty early on.)  frankly, i'm amazed that i had that much to begin with, but it's so easy to collect little things and forget about them.  despite how good i've been about embracing minimalism in the last year or so, i know there's still too many things in my apartment. (and at my mom's house, namely holiday related things.)  i'm going to aim to get rid of 50% of what's currently there.  i won't know how much 50% is until i start, but it seems like a good, lofty goal to try to hit.  i can tell you right now i have a whole box of halloween costumes that's gotta go, but that my regular wardrobe is pretty well completely weeded out already.  and this 50% won't include consumable things like anything in the pantry or extra shampoo and paper towels, but everything else is fair game.  next year, when i move into a house with john, i want the movers to walk in and say 'that's it? this is everything you own?' 

2. limit personal spending.  i don't want to exactly say a year of no spending, but that's essentially what i'm aiming for.  i might make a list of acceptable purchases, but really it should be a year of just the basics.  less than the basics, actually, since i'm certain i have all the makeup, toiletries and household supplies i can possibly use until at least mid-summer.  i think i'll do a follow up post on why it's important for me to rein in personal spending this entire year, as opposed to simply budgeting or a 'no spend month' here or there, since i think it could get rather long.  (obviously it involves house buying but also money for travel.)  and list what what i will and won't be buying.  so, to be continued.

3. spend $0 out of pocket on christmas and other gift related expenses.  i'm very close to $0 this christmas, i think i'll hit it.  thanks to a mix of scaling back plus swagbucks.  just a few other details to iron out.  hopefully i can repeat this next christmas.  and i want to try to get the 'gifts' category out of my budget completely.  not in that i won't give gifts, but that i'll use only things like swagbucks to pay for them or that i'll be giving gifts of my time.  which requires some planning on my part.

4. fix up the blog schedule.  i have it figured out, i just need to execute.  and possibly do some rearranging in that navigation bar up there.  not sure you'll notice a difference, but i'll like the organization of it all a lot better.

okay, so 4 things.  4 non-new year's resolutions, which all fit under the 'simplify' theme.  that i'll probably start november 1 because despite my bucking of january 1 traditions, i still really like order.

2 Winners, $25 Each! [Giveaway]

well you know how much i love making free money on swagbucks.  i've made over $700 since mid-april of this year!  in the widget below, i've linked my previous posts showing how i earn each month.

and now, the awesome people at swagbucks are letting me host a giveaway for you.  2 winners will receive 2,500 swagbucks each added to their accounts.  which is equal to $25, and you can redeem them for whatever you wish.  $25 paypal cash is an option, as are any of of their gift cards - target, starbucks, amazon, and lots of various restaurants and shops!  you can also just keep saving up your points for larger gift cards.  maybe to pay for the upcoming holidays?  i know that's my plan.


to enter this giveaway, you must have a swagbucks account.  if you haven't signed up yet, now is a great time.  use this link and make sure to click 'i have a sign up code' and enter the code NotPerfect for 70 extra points (for 100 total after you complete your profile.)  you can put as much or as little time into swagbucks as you want.  it's very easy to get to $10 a month, and i have confidence you'll make even more.  i make at least $100 each month.  not chump change, by any means.  so get to earning!  and enter via rafflecopter to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(just fyi, it's not necessary for you to have signed up through me in the first place.  so if you've had an account for awhile, that's fine too!  just enter your swagbucks username.)

How To Be Debt Free

10.13.2014
i have a pretty interesting post here for you today.  since i paid off my student loans and became totally debt free, i find that i love reading posts and blogs about finances even more.  funny how that works, you stop hating something once you have control over it.  well hanging out on my sidebar this month is kristyn of chits and giggles.  she struggled with and got out of consumer debt - you know, those pesky credit cards.  if you find those bills creeping up on you each month, read on for kristyn's step by step process for becoming debt free.  it's a process, but you can absolutely get there.  debt free is such a great feeling!

------------------------------

Most Americans have credit cards and almost all of them carry balances on those cards. A lot of people have more than one credit card with a balance on it that they struggle to pay off. Are you one of these people? Don't be ashamed if you are. I was one of these people myself, but I was able to get out of debt with the help of my sister.

How To Be Debt Free #debt #finances

I am a shopper. I always have been and I always will be. I wasn't buying designer clothes or anything, so when I finally added up the debt total, I was in disbelief. Shock was all over my face. I just couldn't believe that I racked up that much debt myself. Somehow I had managed to get myself in the hole $15,000. By myself. It was time for an intervention, and my sister graciously accepted the challenge of helping me become debt free. Here are the steps we took to get me out of debt. 
How To Get Out Of Debt Step 1 Organize your APRs from highest to lowest. I know this might sound backward to some of you, but it's a lot easier to pay off the higher APRs than the higher balances. And remember, the higher the APR, the more you are giving to the credit card company each month in interest. So keep that in mind as well! I used a spreadsheet to keep all my cards organized. I listed the card, APR, amount due and due date on the spreadsheet.
How To Get Out Of Debt Step 2
This can be a challenging step if you aren't organized. The whole reason you are doing this is to get out of debt.
I needed the most help from my sister to help keep track of my spending in this step. I went on a very harsh $80/week cash only system where I would go to her house for dinner and she would hand me my $80 cash from my own bank account. Yes, she had complete control over my finances. I don't wish this on anyone, but it worked for me...and I was the one that suggested it.
We had another spreadsheet that we used to budget everything. The $80 that I received was used for groceries, gas and anything else I had leftover. Needless to say, I didn't do much else because $80 a week doesn't get you very far!
Once we had the spreadsheet ready (it used all sorts of formulas), we mapped out a plan. I believe we started putting $300 toward the cards and then I put $75 every 2 weeks into a savings account. We called that my "Oh Shit" account.
When you review the maximums you can pay, make sure you don't over do it and then overdraw your account. Do what you can do within your means.
How To Get Out Of Debt Step 3
This step was the hardest for me to accept. I just didn't want to pay off the highest APR over the highest balance. That sort of killed every other debt solution I knew of. But, it makes sense.
Let's say you have credit card A with a $1,000 balance. The APR on CC (stands for credit card)-A is 25%. That would mean you are paying $250 in interest alone. That's a lot, especially since you aren't getting anything tangible as a result of that $250. Credit card B has a $1,000 balance as well. It's APR is 15.99%. That means you are paying $159.90 in interest. It's much less than CC-A's interest, so you pay off CC-A first. Then come and tackle CC-B.
Make sense? Meanwhile, pay minimums on the other cards you have while you are paying off the biggest APR card.
How To Get Out Of Debt Step 4 Congratulations! You paid off your first credit card using this method. That deserves some sort of celebration, don't you think? Go celebrate with a dinner out with friends, or a yummy bottle of wine. If you go out, take cash with you or use your debit card. Just because you paid off this credit card doesn't mean you can start spending on it again. And you have other credit cards that you need to pay off too, so be careful not to over-indulge.
How To Get Out Of Debt Step 5
Keep moving down your list of cards by APR and paying them off. It's a snowball effect in the best way possible. Because you are paying minimums on the other cards in your list, you can apply those minimums to your larger APR card that you are paying off to pay off faster.
Example: Credit card A has a minimum of $100. Credit card B has a minimum of $80. Credit Card C has a minimum of $70. And credit card D has a minimum of $90. These are in order of APR already. You have paid off CC-A! Congrats! Now, you can apply the amount you were paying on that card - say $500 to CC-B's minimum balance to make a total paid each month on that card $580. Once that card is paid off, you do the same with CC-C and pay $650/month. Finally, you finish out by paying $740/month to credit card D.

So, when will you start using these steps to get out of debt?

For Pretty Curls



because really though.


if you don't love my hair... you're lying.

my tips for creating the pretty fluffy curls you see above.

(1) don't wash your hair every day.  really.  it's not good for it.

(2) when you do wash, use the right products.  i think you get what you pay for.  actually, at one point my hair started falling out - it was an iron deficiency, but the first thing the dermatologist looked at were my hair products, because cheap products with lots of chemicals will cause damage.  (he figured out the iron thing after my products passed the test!)  you don't have to pay salon prices, but do your research.

(3) i like dove pure care dry oil because it leaves my hair soft and silky.  my hair is naturally thick and therefore can get weighed down very quickly if i load it with a lot of product.  whatever i use, it needs to clean without leaving anything remotely greasy or heavy behind.  at the same time, dry hair = frizzy hair, so it has to provide some moisture.  it's a tough balance.  (p.s., these are photos of the products dove sent me for this review, but it's what i buy anyway - if you want to see empty bottle of these + the dove leave in conditioner (detangled) spray, i could post those too!)

(4) dry hair completely.  it's best to let it air dry overnight.  the less hot tools you use, the healthier your hair will be.

(5) for my curls, i use a 1.75 inch barrel iron.  just a few seconds on each curl, then spray with a little hairspray.  my curls usually hold all night without hairspray with dove - i don't like the crunchy feeling hairspray leaves behind.

here's what you need to know about dove, because it's a good time to try these products.  i.e. money back guarantee!  you know frugal me loves money back promises:

  • it's called the “Dove Silky Hair Dare” - dove hair is daring women everywhere to try dove pure care dry oil, risk-free now through december 31, 2014*
  • dove pure care dry oil collection is ideal for all hair types and delivers five times silkier hair after just one wash (just see my photos for proof.)  and no greasy feeling!
  • the price point is fabulous, you know how i feel about that
  • you can win prizes! share your silky results at #silkyhairdaresweeps for a chance to win** $20,000 in prizes up for grabs (visit dove.com for more information)

so now you know.  curls curls curls.


even curls for halloween.  it's almost here!


*if you are not completely satisfied with the Dove Advanced Hair Series Pure Care Dry Oil system, Dove will refund your purchase (from 9/21 – 12/31). visit hairmoneyback.com for details.

**no purchase necessary. void where prohibited. the Dove Silky Hair Dare Sweepstakes is sponsored by conopco, Inc., d/b/a unilever. open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 & older. begins 12:00 p.m. ET on 9/25/14 and ends 12:00 p.m. ET on 11/20/14. for official rules, visit http://www.dove.us/Products/Hair/Advanced-Hair-Series/rules.aspx


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

Things I'm Exceptionally Bad At

10.08.2014
wow, what a week.  i've been without a computer for 5+ days and it's been horrible.  (first world problems, yes i know.)  but really, it's hard to become dependent on technology and then it goes away.  try working in a law office without a computer.  it was brutal.  thankfully, i didn't need it most of my weekend (sunday's hangover saw to that.)  and now, i have a new one.  so i have returned.  and i'm sure i'll get to those 100+ emails and 200+ unread posts on bloglovin any minute now.

after i get all my settings and programs back to normal.  and after i go buy some chocolately mcdrink thing at mcdonalds so i can get a monopoly piece.  damn you monopoly.

so i'm bad at using my phone for internet, bad at resisting fast food chain marketing ploys, bad at responding to emails.  but good at procrastinating on pinterest.... anyway, other things i'm exceptionally bad at:

- maintaining contact with society without a computer.

- beer pong.  i mean, i get decent once i'm 10 beers in.  but the first few games... it's like, why do i bother?

- using cash.  can't remember it, can't count change, spend it too fast.  experts say it hurts more to spend cash, so if you're trying to be on a budget, don't swipe the card.  for me, it's opposite.  cash tricks me into thinking i'm scrooge mcduck in a money vault.


- keeping my comments to myself.

- wearing high heels.

- travel.  i just like the comforts of home.  and hawkeye.

- dressing for the appropriate weather.  flip flops til i see snow, people.

- waking up before 7 a.m.

- hiding my disdain when people tell me they're pregnant.  like my best friend, meredith:


sorry, mere.  but not really.

- parallel parking.

- shopping.  i like online browsing, but going into physical stores, trying things on, standing in line, dealing with crowds - i hate it.

- being vegan.  because, cheese.  don't even try to tell me about making nachos with nutritional yeast, you're just lying to yourself.

- saying goodbye when i leave the bar.  yes, i ghost.  or irish goodbye.  whatever you want to call it.

- ending sentences with prepositions.  like 'things i'm really bad at.'  whatever, i'm from chicago.  it's what we do here.

10 Best // Fall Recipes

10.02.2014
since the choose your own challenge theme for the month of october is food, i thought this would be a good time to share some of my favorite fall recipes.  in case trying something new is on your list of things to do this month!  from drinks to desserts, i've got you covered with:

1. apple pie cocktail cupcakes.  yes, i'm starting this list with my own recipe.  self promotion, or whatever.  it's a thing.  i posted these around this time 2 years ago (2 years, whoa.)  so here it is if you missed them!  hint:  fireball.  and whipped cream vodka.


i really should make another cupcake recipe soon.  any requests?

2. spaghetti squash au gratin.  melissa just posted this and it looks so good.

3. rustic tuscan sausage soup.  steph always knows what's up.  you probably already know that.

4. lazy sunday casserole.  get extra sausage when you're making steph's soup for this casserole.  very easy to make and always a crowd pleaser on football sundays.

5. skinny baked potato soup.  because it's made with cauliflower.  genius.  and tastes delicious too!

6. slow cooker white bean soup.  anything cooked in the crock pot is alright in my book.  so nice to come home to hot food without having to cook it yourself after you just worked all day.

7. crock pot cake mix apple cobbler.  it's 3 ingredients.  one of the most successful desserts i make.  impossible to screw up and everyone loves it!  serve with vanilla ice cream.

8. lentil veggie tacos.  i prefer meat-free tacos.  john and hawkeye do not.  which is good, i don't have to share these.

9. eggplant parmesan.  a classic, one of my favorite dishes.  also, kerry is a recipe genius so be sure to check out her other ones as well!  blackberry pear pie, anyone?

10. and wash it all down with an apple cider mimosa.

happy fall, friends.  any recipes you've found or made lately that you'd add to this list?  share in the comments!

Choose Your Own Adventure September Recap (Link Up)

10.01.2014
and just like that, september is over.  i can hardly believe it myself.  and with the end of the month comes the first choose your own adventure link up!  did you participate in september?  the theme was fitness, but all goal setting/recapping posts are welcome here.

my goals for september were just to get used to my new apartment.  holy stairs involved.  i mentioned the 2nd floor thing and the laundry, but i totally forgot the fact that i walk 10 minutes to get to the train, walk up 2 more flights of stairs, get off my my work and walk up 2 more flights there... maybe for some of you that's nothing but damnit, stairs are hard.  it's nice to say though, it's much easier now than it was when i started.  my thigh muscles stopped being so angry at me.  i also have walked every day, no cabs taken!  and i've explored the neighborhood with hawkeye.  we found a bar that allows dogs inside and has $1.75 pints of pbr (everyday.)  does that negate the health benefits of all the walking?  whoops...

regardless, i'm glad the first month was successful and i'm glad i made it easier on myself.  there was so much unpacking to be done, plus 2 weddings and various parties, it was just a really busy month.

so how did you fare?  link up below!

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



for october, the challenge theme is food! which of course, isn't limited to just cooking. you're certainly welcome to test out a new pinterest recipe or make something with pumpkin, but it could also include trying a new restaurant or trimming your grocery spending.  even planning your menu for thanksgiving (yeah, that's next month!)  see?  lots of options, even if you aren't a cook!

here's what i'm working on for october:
(1) one of my co-hosts of this link-up, steph, is hosting a 'wallet watch'.  essentially, you make your own spending rules.  in line with that and with the food theme, i'm going to limit my grocery spending and clear out the cabinets (how i managed to get 10+ various cans of soup, i will never know.)  i went shopping tuesday with john and spent $37 at aldi, and that's it for the month.
(2) and to not supplement that with ordering in and/or eating out.  the point is to clear the stockpile in the cabinets and freezer, not to avoid the grocery store and definitely not to waste money on eating out all the time!  this will be hard for me, i love being able to order in exactly what i'm feeling like at that time.  perks of being in a big city where everything is available whenever you want it.
(3) make a fall drink.  i don't know what yet, exactly, but we're going out for halloween and i always bring my own booze.  i want to find something festive.