Shopping Ban. With Intensity This Time.

June 30, 2016

If you saw my last goals post, you might have noticed that one of my summer goals was to work out some sort of shopping ban or spending freeze challenge for myself.  I've done many versions of these with varying degrees of success, but I've always done particularly well with one month long spending freezes, during which I buy nothing but groceries (and I pay my regular bills of course.)  These have always been a great way to save money and really analyze spending in certain areas - I tend to put the restrictions on myself after a month of particularly high spending in a non-essential category, like eating out or clothes shopping.

And while I have no doubt that they work in the short term, I don't think I've done any that have had long term results.  There hasn't been one 'month of no spending' that has successfully trained me to always spend less in a non-essential category.  To be honest, the only things that have made me spend less in the long run have been (1) the KonMari method; (2) minimalism in general; (3) buying a Keurig (I rarely set foot in coffee shops now without a gift card, whereas I used to go every single day.)

After reading Keira's post (and after being a long time follower of Cait Flanders), I decided now might be a good time to start in on a full time, as long as possible shopping ban.  Like Keira, what I value and what I am currently spending my money on don't always line up.  Cait is about to finish 2 years of being on a shopping ban.  I'd just like to make it through the Christmas season!  But a full year would be fantastic.

A shopping ban is, essentially, just what it sounds like - a ban on (unnecessary) shopping.  Personally, I'd love for it to also mean 'stop paying my bills' but I suppose my utility companies would frown upon that.  Party poopers.  So I'll just be cutting out the things I don't deem essential.

Here are some specific things I'm banning:
- Clothes, Shoes, Accessories.  Easy.  I don't even like buying clothes or shoes, my mom generally does it for me still!
- Makeup.  This will be hard, as I'm still on the hunt for my holy grail products, as mentioned in my 101 in 1001 list.  I'll buy something if I legitimately run out, but when's the last time that happened?!
- Books and E-Books.  And any other entertainment I can download for a price, like episodes of shows off of Amazon or iTunes.  (Except Netflix is allowed.)
- Coffee.  I'm really good about this already, but it should be included anyway.
- Eating Out/Ordering In.  I can't ban this completely, it's not possible.  But I am banning it 'unless there's a good reason' and good reasons only include birthdays or occasional meet-ups with friends I haven't seen in awhile.  This category in general is my biggest vice and my biggest spending trap.  Any advice would be appreciated!
- Candles.  Specifically, Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.  It's on here, no going back now.  Not going to stop me from reminding John when a good sale is happening or sending links of my favorite scents to my friends and family when they say 'I have no idea what to get you for Christmas!'  But I am not buying any candles myself.  
- Planners, Notebooks, Pens, Anything Related.  Basically I need to stay out of the office supply store. 
- Household Items.  We got a lot of stuff and while I admit we need 'decor' things (though I loathe decor, what's up with the bare walls hate?  I like my paint color.), I think we can stand to wait and figure out exactly what we might need.

Things I'm not banning include:
- Groceries.  Of course.  And under groceries I include things like toilet paper and toiletries, but I already only buy these things when they run out, so I'm not in danger of buying 12 body lotions to hoard.  And beer is groceries.  I'm not cutting out beer.  I already only drink PBR, not like I'm spending a lot here anyway (for reference, it's $12 for a 30 pack.)
- Gifts.  Not that I buy for that many people come Christmas time, but I do Christmas shop!  Shopping for birthdays and other events (my little cousin is getting married) will also be deemed 'acceptable.'
- Pet Stuffs.  Princess is spoiled, that will continue to be the case.  She gets good food and lots of treats. 
- Getting My Hair Done.  I cannot and will not box dye my hair.
- Things Within Reason on my 101 List.  I don't consider 'buy all the makeup to find a holy grail' to be within reason when I already have a pile of things to test.  But the treadmill would be legit, as would concert tickets or the price of getting out to Brookfield Zoo or a haunted house.
- Hosting Duties.  I'm hosting Halloween and I'll buy whatever I need for the party.
- Visiting Tara in Iowa City.  It's already planned so I'm definitely going!
- Cabs (When It's Late.)  I don't take cabs as much as I used to, because it's just not feasible any more where we live to take cabs to and from work, like I did from my apartments when I was feeling lazy.  I'd just sit in traffic for an hour.  The only cabs I usually currently take are when I'm heading home when it's late, which I'll continue to do because safety first.

Something else I'm also doing at the same time that's worth noting - the one in, one out rule.  This is a goal that's specifically outlined on my 101 list - don't acquire anything new without discarding something in it's place for one year.  Notice I specifically said 'acquire' and not 'buy.'  Remember I said how my mom loves buying me clothes still?  (She's a shopping fiend.)  This means that not only am I not buying anything for 1 year, I'm also getting rid of something if she, or anyone else, gets me something.  Mom buys a new top?  I have to get rid of an old one.  For clothes this won't be hard for me, since I like to keep my wardrobe extremely small.  But in other categories it might be tough! What if I get 10 candles for Christmas?  (Oh I can dream!)  Then I'd have to get rid of 10 things in my house.  Not necessarily the same item, but 10 items come in, then 10 items must leave.  For one full year.  It's the best way to avoid the clutter creep, particularly in this new house where everyone wants to buy me things.  I would say the exception to this is patio furniture.  It's on our list and we have nothing out there, so I don't feel the need to get rid of anything when it comes in.

Why, Stephanie?  Why?!?  Why the hell not?  Sounds like fun to me.  Maybe I have a weird definition of fun but you also probably think it's fun to go to the beach, which to me sounds like torture.  I want to do it.  I want to have even less things, I want to save as much money as possible to pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible.

A good reason for doing this now though, specifically, is because John is starting a new job.  I can't say exactly what it is yet, because I don't want to jinx it and it's his dream job, but he starts in the middle of this month.  It will be an immediate pay cut.  The training is 6 months and then for 6 months after that he cannot work any other jobs on the side. (If you guess what it is, I will confirm.  Some of you already know!)  Although his pay goes up after the 6 month training and continues to go up every 6 months or so for 2 more years, it's still 1 full year without being able to work his construction job.  I feel like there's no better time to institute a shopping ban, because he'll already be on board!  Maybe not by choice, but I'll take what I can get when I live with someone whose 72 t-shirts prove he is decidedly not a minimalist.

Starting on a Friday is a bit strange to me, since I'm a Monday start kind of girl, but I figure with the July 1 date it would be easy to remember.  I have a cute little Spend Well budgeting system that I'll be using to track every single thing I spend money on.  I don't know that I'll be posting monthly updates on this, because I'm hoping there's not that much to post!  I will update a ton on Twitter and Instagram though, and I'll make some blog posts when I feel like it's necessary.

Have you ever done a spending freeze or shopping ban?  Did you have any success?

Brand New House Tour

June 28, 2016

Yes, HOUSE TOUR.  It's here, it's here!  I've only been promising a house tour for like a month but now it's finally time!  Are you ready?

The First 20 Done Off My 101 in 1001 List

June 27, 2016

Since my second 101 in 1001 list started in December of 2015, I have had yet to mention it again on the blog, even though I have been working on it.  I just crossed off the first 20 goals so I thought this was as good a time as any to post the first update.  I'm pretty much on pace - if you do that math on 101 goals 1001 days, it's about 3 goals per month.  Which means I should be at 21 but close enough!  I'll be checking off red, white, and blue jello shots this weekend anyway.  If you want to see the full list again, check here.  For just the update, keep reading:

Three on Thursday

June 23, 2016

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites.  

1. matt's cookies.  these damn things.  you have never had a softer, more lovely chocolate chip cookie in your life.  they are so good and addicting.  they're made here outside of chicago so I don't know how far they reach into stores across the country, but you can order them off the website if they aren't in your local grocery store.  they are worth every extra sit up you have to do, i tell you.  magic cookies.  have you had them?

Pet Tip of the Month: Hot Asphalt Awareness and Summer Safety

June 18, 2016

every responsible dog owner knows not to leave their dog locked in a hot car, but that's not the only summer time danger to your furry best friend.  did you know what when it's 77 degrees out, the asphalt, in the sun, is 125 degrees?  wouldn't be so fun to walk on that with no shoes, huh?  so don't make your dog do it.  

just remember this - hold the back of your hand against the asphalt for 10 seconds and see if it hurts. if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for you dog and his sensitive paws.  talk him for a walk on the grass instead.

enjoy your summer!  safely.

The LOL that Was Spring Goals

June 17, 2016

spring goals update in a quick summary: lol.

okay here's the long version of that update - remember i was all 'seasonal goals? yeah 3 months, i gots this, goalz'?  hahahaha i was hilarious.

"1. write and publish more posts.  ...  so in the next 3 months let's say... at least 40 posts."  i feel like this was the most hilarious fail of all, 40?  what was i thinking?!  would you like to know how many i actually posted?  go ahead and check in the sidebar - 19.  yup.

"2. get all things donated!"  not a fail at all, i donated tons.  the salvation army came and got furniture, clothes, kitchen stuff, just bags and bags of goodies.  it was awesome to get all that out before the moving process, it made things so much easier.  i actually have a small box going now for more donations, because i got all new towels and downsized a couple more things.  luckily the salvation army has a drop off literally on the other side of the fence behind our alley.

"3. pack and move!  lease is up at the end of april." done, of course!  since we're in our new house and all.  i actually did this twice because (including pet sitting time) i was at my parents for about a month before things were finally ready with the house.

"4. on a related note, take photos/video of all of that packing ^^^."  haha looking back, that was just adorable.  as if i'd really have time to photograph things while packing and moving?  no, no.  i'm just not that dedicated.  lots of you saw my updates on instagram when i decluttered and also right before i called salvation army for pick up.

"5. go to a street fest.  they get started end of may, so i should be able to make at least one before mid june."  i actually did get to this one, but just barely.  there were two before the one i actually attended that i usually attend each year, but i just didn't make them this year.  so we finally ended up going to maifest 2 or 3 weekends ago because it's all things german which john loves and it's close to our house.

so i really did accomplish 3 out of 5.  percentage-wise that looks okay, except for the fact that the two i didn't do were the hardest ones.  whoops.  okay summer.  summer will be better, si?

Life According to Steph1. have blog day with betsy and check off all 10 items on my to do list.  we have this scheduled for next saturday, so blog day will definitely happen.  we do this at least once a year but usually twice, either in person or virtually, where we get together and push each other to get tons of blog related things done in one day.  like post writing, social media, blog design, really anything.  i made a 10 item checklist and i will complete it.

2. get patio furniture.  this will depend on when this particular season ends according to the link up but assuming that i have all of august, i'd like to get patio furniture.  we currently have just the grill out there so i'd like to get a table and chairs set, which will all go on sale in august.

3. start a shopping ban/spending freeze.  i don't have all the details figured out yet, but perhaps a month long one?  perhaps just specific categories?  i plan on figuring this out and posting about it.

4. make red, white, and blue jello shots for the 4th.  not only is it on my 101 in 1001 list, i just really want to do it.  i keep saying i will but never do.  and come on, i made 1000 one new year's eve, how hard can say, 50, layered shots be?

5. enjoy my alaskan cruise!  well judging how spring goals went, i have to have at least one that i can check off, right?  we go the first week of august and i can't wait.

linking up with steph and sara.

Beauties & Beaus at Hydrate, Because You Should Go Now More Than Ever

June 16, 2016

with naysha lopez, from ru paul's drag race!

chicago natives, chicago visitors, let me introduce you to something that you absolutely need to put on your bucket list.  the beauties & beaus show at hydrate bar and nightclub.

okay yes, the champagne is definitely why you should book the ladies vip package or girl's night out package.  because that table is glorious.  but it's so much more than that.

let's start at the beginning.  i was invited to attend the show and naturally picked a weekend when tara was in town.  and of course invited monica, because you can never have too many chicago bloggers at a show like this.  the show is held at hydrate, which i've been going to since i was 21, and i distinctly remember it at market days when my best friend sarah and i stumbled upon it the summer after high school (which, according to their website, was right when they first opened.)  because it was hot and hydrate had misters and waterfalls coming down from the open windows and i thought that was awesome.  been going ever since.  after i turned 21... yeah, totally.

the show is described on their website as this: "Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, girls’ night out or just wanna have some fun this weekend, head on over to Hydrate for an evening you won’t soon forget! Beauties & Beaus combines Chicago’s hottest male dancers with its best female impersonators to create an interactive show that keeps the crowd on its feet all night long! Don’t be surprised if you end up on stage, with the crowd cheering for YOU!"  true.  hence why tara is up on stage dancing with the regular show host, mz. ruff n stuff.

can we talk about those 6 inch heels, good lord.  how do you dance in that?  i have like 3 inch-ers and i want to die.

can you spot tara and i?  in our flats?

the show is great from beginning to end.  the host, as well as naysha lopez and mimi marks, performed songs from whitney to adele with costumes to match.  it was like a giant sing along in there, constantly pulling guests up on stage.  and of course having the male dancers is just a bonus that makes it like you're front row for magic mike.  i can't remember the name of the dancer who would come by our table, but he got a lot of our dollars, i tell ya.

i'll let the following photos speak for themselves.  this is from the final song performed, where our friend vince went up on stage and naysha and mz. ruff n stuff performed 'the boy is mine' (brandy and monica 90s jam!) and fought over him.  our entire table was practically in tears.

his face, though.

mimi marks!  please, give me a lesson in fake eyelashes.


you need to go.  you will have so much fun, i promise you won't stop laughing and cheering the entire time you're there.  and go on stage if you have the chance, especially if it's a special event for you.  there may or may not be free drinks involved.  can't argue with that.  you can reserve a table for just $10 a ticket, which is a steal.  and they have packages that include champagne, photos, vip seating, even belvedere bottle service for just $20 and $35 a piece.  what on earth are you waiting for?

and why i titled this post 'now more than ever'?  because it's one tiny way to show your support and stop being scared.  there's zero percent chance of what happened in orlando stopping me from hanging out in boystown with my gay friends and going to hydrate and seeing fun shows, and it particularly won't stop me from seeing beauties & beaus again later this summer.  i don't negotiate with terrorists.

if your religion tells you that hating someone or denying someone the same rights that you have based on their gender or sexual orientation is okay, you need a new religion.

buy your tickets, bring your dollar bills, send me an e-mail if you're going and i'll be there with you. and specifically, monica and i want to do this again this summer with some more blogger friends, so let me know if you want to be included on e-mails about that!


The First Month

June 15, 2016

it's hard to imagine that we've been in our house for a month exactly now.  some days it feels like it's been home forever and some days it feels like we had to have just moved in because there's yet another project to do.

the closing process went relatively well, looking back.  it was stressful that day, but in the end we got the keys so all was well.  we also got a check that day from the lender and a check about 2 weeks later from our agent, redfin.  which is redfin's policy, by the way, cutting you a check, so if you're buying you should definitely use them.  they're free and awesome.  we closed on a friday and spend that night cleaning and then moved all of our things in on saturday.  well, all of my things.  they were chilling in my parents garage waiting to be moved and john's dad borrowed his truck from work and moved everything in one shot.  i, not so unintentionally, went to go get my hair done at 11:30 for about 2 and half hours so i returned when everything was in it's place.  like magic.  john moved his things on saturday and sunday, and since i'm a minimalist and john was at his parents, we were honestly done by sunday night.  perhaps 1 box was left to unpack on monday night but that was it.  super simple.

we moved my couch downstairs with his tv and tv stand plus my coffee table, his bed into the downstairs guest room, my bed into our room (with a new bed frame and dresser, which john had picked up and put together on saturday), one of my tvs and the stand into the front room, and a book case into the spare room with my other tv.  we have a lot of tvs.  and that was the end of the furniture.  with minimal boxes on my part and mostly just clothes on his part, i dare say it was the easiest move to date.  yippee.

then the spending spree started.  thank god we picked a house that didn't need work done.  we looked at a few originally, like we'd maybe fix them up but haha no.  glad we decided against that and picked a place where all we had to do was move in.  because we spent money on so much other stuff.  in addition to the bed frame and dresser i mentioned, we also got a dining table.  it was a furniture store going out of business sale so it was all heavily discounted, but still.  then john spent a pretty chunk on a 116 inch projector screen and projector and we're about to get speakers installed for it in like a week.  and then we had to buy a washer and dryer.  and of course i insisted on pretty new white front loaders on pedestals and they were worth every penny.  i love those things.  thankfully my parents gifted us all new towels and bedding (those things are stupid expensive) and a miele vacuum (do not even price check that) and his uncle bought us a gorgeous couch for the front room.  and his grandfather gave us a grill.  and his brother gave us an xbox one, but he knows it's just as much for him because it's his place too (he has a key and a room.)  thank goodness for family.  and friends because i've had tara, ida, and billy over and they've all brought booze because, of course.

but it wasn't just those big purchases.  that little shit really starts to add up!  in 1 month i've purchased (and you can be sure this isn't the full list): fridge organizers, laundry carts, drawer organizers, blackhawks bedding for john's brothers room, kitchenware, shoe organizers, tupperware, toilet brushes, a mop and broom, cleaning cloths, vinegar, i mean, there were amazon packages almost daily.  some necessary things, some fun things to make it feel like home.  i don't regret anything i bought, it's really all fantastic and coming together just how we want it.  but there's always more to do.

right now there's more big projects to do - security system, for one.  getting our holiday stuff from our parents houses and finding storage for that (eventually) and ripping out the basement carpet and putting flooring in (uh... next year.)  new pots and pans and knives are on the shopping list, which suddenly made me realize exactly why people get married.

all in all, living together has been great.  we're on the same page about schedules, money, home decor, all that fun stuff so no arguments.  we love the actual house and if you don't count mowing the lawn (which i totally don't because i don't do it and never will), the place is a snap to clean even though it seems large (to me.  you'll see the full size soon.)  hawkeye is obsessed with having john there every single day, it's like like constant christmas morning she's so happy.  plus he eats meat every day and shares with her.  loves the yard and her water bed is safely moved in as well, don't worry.  we're past the stage of having something to set up or organize every single day so it's nice to relax, but the big projects are always at the back of my mind.  that's home ownership i guess - you'll never be fully done.

i plan on getting a home tour up very soon.  i definitely want to ask your opinion on how to set up some areas, plus it's fun to be nosy and see someone else's space.  so stay tuned!

Three on Thursday

June 9, 2016

welcome back to three on thursday, a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites.  

1. sabra olive tapenade hummus i have been on a real green olive kick lately, i'm not sure why.  but i keep ordering it anywhere i can find it - on pizza, on salads, by itself with feta cheese.  so i decided to try out this version of the sabra hummus (on a 2 for 1 sale, of course) and omg it's amazing.  you must try it if you're a hummus and olive fan.  i don't care for black olives but this is just pure green olive goodness.  and it's not overwhelmingly olive if you're worried about that - it's a great balance.  the flavor is perfect.  go get the hummus.

2. 8tracks.  i've mentioned this app before but i really do love it.  it's free and seems to have way less restrictions than pandora.  plus you can make your own playlists - everything is user generated.  which means that when tara was in town, we were able to find a playlist for power hour (where you take a shot of beer every minute for an hour and the song changes every 60 seconds to remind you to do so) that was all 90s music.  more than 1, in fact.  it was glorious.  but it really is an awesome app, you can search for anything you like!  by artist, by genre, by mood (happy + country + summer + florida georgia line tends to be what i always search for!)  so if you haven't gotten it yet, you need to.

3. solid everything.  i'm going solid beauty products crazy over here.  have i mentioned that i'm going to alaska?  i can't remember.  anyway, i am. going on an alaskan cruise the first week of august with my parents.  we fly from here (chicago) to seattle and then the cruise leaves out of seattle and is out for 8 days, 7 nights, with stops in juneau, ketchikan, skagway, and a sail through glacier bay before stopping in victoria, canada and then back to seattle.  i'm super excited about this.  i also refuse to bring checked luggage.  truth: i don't even own luggage big enough to warrant checking, it's all carry on size.  i'm 100% confident in my ability to fit my entire wardrobe in a carry on, but then you also have to think about things like toiletries and curling irons.  i also bring my hair dryer because i'm super weird about my hair (which you know, i'm sure.)

as you also probably know, when you bring a carry on, you can only have 1 quart sized bag for all of your liquids and gels, and that those things can only be in 3.4 ounce size containers or smaller.  that is precious little space, my friends.  and sure, when you're like 'oh shampoo, conditioner, body wash, done' you think you've got it handled but no - lotion, foundation, contact solution, hair spray, lip gloss, toothpaste, liquid eyeliner, the list goes on and on.  getting it all in is an art if you're picky about products like me and refuse to use hotel stuff (it's crappy quality and it's wasteful!)  and personally, i have to fly with many mini liquor bottles (which is fine, btw, if they're under 3.4 oz) because i am a terrible flyer so all that baggie space needs to be liquor.  and right now, it will be!  because i have managed to make everything else totally solid and therefore outside the baggie restriction.  we're talking solid shampoo and conditioner bars from lush, solid lotion bars, solid sunscreen, solid makeup primer, even solid toothpaste.  if you're curious about specific products, all cruelty free of course, let me know and i'll tell you.

i'm going to the flight001 chicago pop up store this evening with my friend, i'm so excited for all things packing.  i'll probably do a post on the cool stuff in the store and more details about my solid products i'm bringing, but if you have any specific requests about this area, please let me know.  i definitely think i could talk a ton about what i'm bringing, how to pack for 9 days in a carry on, even for cold weather, what i'm wearing, the fact that you can carry on sharpened ice skates on a plane but not 4 ounces of shampoo (truth), i don't know lots of things!  but is that of interest to anyone but me?  ... who cares, i might do it anyway.  because:

these are intended to be weekly though they are most obviously not.  but if i wanted them to be, that's cool.  while i totally support steph's post and agree with it (because omg confessions were way to freaking much for me), i do what i want.  plus this is stuff i actually use and she reads it anyway because she knows my choices are legit and not hashtag sponsored.  but that is the beauty of the internet - you don't have to read it and i can still post what i want.  see how that works?  don't get your panties in a bunch, boo.  here's what i think: if something someone else says about you gets you all worked up, perhaps you should look at what you're doing.  if you were confident in what you were doing and like it, what other people say wouldn't bother you.  the fact that it's bugging you so much means there's probably truth in what they're saying.  i.e. i tell my mother every day that she's too old for body glitter and every day she ignores me.  so make confident choices.  like my mother.

end rant.  bye.

Goal Setting Tip of the Month: Productive (The App, That Is)

June 6, 2016

if you're willing to put down the candy crush or the angry birds or trivia crack or whatever your phone game of choice is, i have an app for you that will be a much more... productive use of your time.  (i see what you did there.)  yes, the app is called just that, productive, and i love it.

if you're a goal setter and a lover of proverbial gold stars, you will love this app.  it's a simple premise and therefore easy to get set up.  you enter the goals you want to meet.  generally, daily habit goals, like the one listed in the example below. 

from there, you enter in your details.  what time of day the task comes up (morning, afternoon, evening, a specific time if need be) and what time you'd like your reminder set at.  personally, i set the reminder for the tail end of the time frame for each block of the day.  i go through and mark things as i do them, and if i haven't done anything by, say, 7:15 a.m. (when i have to leave by 7:30) then the reminder goes off and i check the rest of the list.  it's kind of like when you set your alarm to remember your birth control pill, but much more detailed and fun.

fun?  yes, fun.  and not just because you can change those icons and change the colors.  if you struggle to get in a daily workout or take your vitamins, you'll love the weird little push of motivation this provides.  look at it, look at the streaks!  tell me those 100% and current streak stars don't make you want to check off your goal, every day.

i highly recommend it, fellow iphone users!

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