Tag Archives: shopping

Schedules, Lists and Plans

6 Mar

First off, I’m sorry that I’ve been completely MIA from my blog and from reading your blogs. My head is spinning with everything that is going on right now, and blogging/reading blogs has fallen way down on the priority list. But I will get caught up eventually!

In the midst of the current chaos, I have been maintaining my sanity by keeping schedules, lists and plans in various areas:

Meal-Planning:

Whenever I get busy, lazy or tired, dinner is one of the first things to go. Poor Travis has had to deal with more than his fair share of frozen pizzas, ‘whatever you can find’ and ‘breakfast for dinner’ dinners. Add to that a complete lack of inspiration for dinner ideas and it was a mess. Then two things happened: I heard of ZipList, an online tool that lets you file recipes and add the ingredients to a shopping list organized by aisle. And I was also inspired by nHerShoes to assign each night a dinner theme, thereby giving a little more structure to what to make. Added bonus: more variety!

I have been doing this for about 3 weeks now, and while it unfortunately hasn’t helped me spend less on groceries (need to start working on that too!), it has been a huge success in helping me make actual dinners, and get away from my handful of rotating recipes (which are great to have, but we needed to mix it up badly!).

Budgeting:

I mentioned back in January that I’m taking over the finances in our family. Well, we haven’t had time to sit down and go over the bills and stuff, so Travis is still handling that. But I have been tracking our budget and spending! After my mind exploded trying to track our credit card, checking account, bills, income, etc. via an Excel spreadsheet, I was inspired by Mel at Winners Wear Yellow to use Mint.com. So. Much. Easier. And it has a nifty button you can check to carry over any unspent funds to the next month, taking the guesswork out of those expenses (like auto and house maintenance) that typically are spent in large chunks, but (ideally) saved for monthly.

We use US Bank and because of security measures for logging in, Mint.com can’t automatically update our account balances and activity. But I can still manually update it, so it works out. It has helped keep us on track and while we are still going over in some categories, we were a lot less over than we were before. Progress!

Running:

I’m training! For a race! I’m 3 weeks in to a 10-week training plan. My longest run so far has been 4 miles – which used to be nothing, but now was the longest run I’ve done since July 2012. I’ve also been doing some cross-training via videos at home and I have to say, it feels GREAT to be back working out regularly. I’m averaging only about 3 times a week, but it’s been nice.

A few things about the race (Hot Chocolate 15k on April 19 in Minneapolis) though are cramping my style:

1) I realized it’s on Easter weekend. We were going to have the race weekend be a little husband/wife getaway sans baby but we have to be with her on her first Easter! So boo on that.

2) Travis is studying for the California Professional Engineers exam, which is like the Colorado PE that he took back in 2012, except even more intense. So he’ll be studying a lot between now and the race, which means I’ll have to watch Emma.

3) It’s still winter in Minnesota. Like, majorly winter. And the town where Travis’ parents live doesn’t have an indoor track, so I’ll be relegated to running on the dreadmill. I don’t know if I can handle that.

Needless to say, with all of those factors, I’m not absolutely dead set on running this race. I’m still going to train for it as much as I can, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I’d still like to run a race before getting pregnant again (ahem…), but flexibility is the name of the game right now.

And that’s all I have time for! I’ll be back tomorrow for Emma’s 11-month update!

* I was not compensated by ZipList, Mint.com or Hot Chocolate 15K for this post. All opinions are my own.

New fall boots

14 Nov

You may remember my boot dilemma – well, after many hours searching every single possible website I could think of, I finally narrowed it down to a few different pairs:

1) Material Girl Lennox Boots, $75

2) MIA Pali, $59.99

3) Madden Girl Zandora, $79

4) Madden Girl Earnie, $59.99

I had actually decided to get the Earnie boots because I liked them the best, even though I was apprehensive about the zipper only being at the bottom. But when I tried them on at Famous Footwear, they were too narrow. I tried on every other pair of boots they had in the Cognac/Camel color. No luck. None of them fit me right.

After that experience, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to buy boots online without trying them on (even though I’ve done that before). A couple of Saturdays ago, I stopped by Babies R Us and Gordman’s just happened to be next door. So I figured I’d pop in and see what they had. The only pair of tall tan boots they had were the MIA Pali boots. Famous Footwear hadn’t had those in the store when I went so I tried them on.

They fit great! They’re loose enough in the calf that I can wear skinny jeans under them and not have my circulation get cut off. They have a slight heel, which is nice and I like that the zipper runs the full length of the boot (definitely makes getting them on and off a LOT easier). They’re a nice cognac color and best of all, they’re comfortable. I even wore them taking the dogs on a walk one day. I am very pleased with these boots.

Outfit made possible by new boots!

The irony of pregnancy

3 Oct

You have headaches often but can’t take aspirin.

You feel like a zombie but can only have 200 mg of caffeine. And coffee sounds disgusting anyway.

You’re overwhelmed by monthly checklists, diaper options and product reviews, but can’t have a drink.

You’re actually supposed to gain weight by eating more, but nothing sounds appealing.

You need new clothes but have no idea what size you are and 80% of stores that sell maternity clothes only have them online.

That last one is the one I’m struggling with.

Buying maternity clothes has been one of the things I’ve looked forward to most about pregnancy. A valid reason to buy more clothes? Heck yes!

But the frugal side of me wants to find good deals, make sure I love the things I buy and try my best to not duplicate things I already have (pre-pregnancy or otherwise). Needless to say, it made my head spin a bit yesterday.

So I decided that I needed to plan a wardrobe and not just buy random pieces that I happened to like (yes, I do overthink things). I pasted screenshots into a Publisher file and finally narrowed it down to the things that I want to buy (at least for now).

 

Most of the pieces are from Old Navy, some are from Target and a few from Kohl’s (but I plan on buying pants in person, with the exception of those adorable green ones!).

But since I don’t have $360 to spend all at once, I narrowed my list down to $150 (which is my Blow Money amount) for this month. Pants are my most urgently needed item so I bought the green pants from Old Navy and will look for a pair of black and tan dress pants this week or weekend (planning to spend about $35 on each). After much deliberation, I decided to also buy the black maternity tank, camel sweater, and taupe dress top from Old Navy. And that will probably be it for this month (assuming everything fits well, that is).

I’ve been hesitant to go buy pants because the used maternity store I want to go to is only open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5:30 pm. I’d really like to see what the prices are like and if it’s even worth shopping there, but I can’t find out until Saturday. But I can probably survive until then.

In other news, our Ford Focus, which we’ve been driving “until it dies” is on its way out. I went to start it on Monday and nothing. It’s working again now but Travis is very skeptical of its reliability. We know we need a new car eventually (the Focus is a 2001 with almost 170,000 miles) and we’re thinking we might as buy it now rather than wait (since the Focus has been sketchy for several months now – it’s not the first time it hasn’t started). So this weekend will probably also involve car shopping in addition to maternity clothes shopping. We’ve pretty much decided that we want a certified pre-owned Ford Escape with a V6. It will definitely be the nicest car either of us has ever owned. I’m pretty excited!

Our Busy Weekend

6 Jun

Some more pics from Saturday’s race (courtesy of my dad):

(Those last 4 are stills from video that my dad took, so that’s why they’re not the best quality. I included them because I actually look like I’m running!)

After the race, we walked around the Taste of Louisville festival for a bit before deciding to redeem the coupon on our race bibs for a free margarita at Old Santa Fe. Travis and I put on flipflops and changed our shirts and we enjoyed al fresco dining. I wasn’t very hungry so I ordered guacamole and chips, which were delicious.

Then we went home, showered, napped/watched TV until we decided to go do some shopping. Our first stop was the auto parts store. Our Focus died a few weeks ago and Travis has been hard at work trying to fix it. Nothing he did seemed to work so he finally gave up and brought it to a mechanic. Turns out that the things Travis had fixed actually had been broken but there was one more piece to the puzzle. It’s a tough part to get in and out (as Travis and my dad discovered first-hand on Sunday) so instead of paying $500 for the mechanic to do the work, Travis decided he and my dad would tackle it together.

Our next stop was Sam’s Club to look at Garmin watches. For my birthday! My parents are SUPER generous and said that they wanted to buy me a Garmin for my birthday (in July). Since they wanted to make sure I got the one I wanted, we picked it out together. Sam’s Club didn’t have any though. 😦

Then it was off to Walmart (I had seen Garmins on their website but they’re not in the store). No luck there. On to Gordman’s, where my mom and I spent a solid 45 minutes deciding which pillows to buy for our new couches (as an anniversary present from my parents – they think of any excuse they can to buy us things 😉 ). We were heading to the register with our final selections when I noticed one of the pillows had a tear. After calling to another store and finding out they had one, we went over there to buy pillow #6 of 6. Depressingly, those pillows didn’t end up working out so we had to return them anyway. But the others worked great!

While at the second Gordman’s store, Travis and my dad went to Home Depot and bought a stand-up, rolling tool chest that Travis had wanted. I told Travis he could buy one since he officially PASSED his Professional Engineer’s exam! Since they took a while doing that, my mom and I wandered around Gordman’s and found some shoes to buy. After my successful purchase last summer of b.o.c. sandals, I decided another pair for $35 (instead of $60) was in order.

Finally, we were on our way home. Unfortunately, I had had a massive headache for the previous hour or so. When we got home, I went straight to bed, only getting up to eat dinner. Not sure why my head hurt but it could be a combination of not drinking enough water, not replacing electrolytes well enough and not taking a nap.

………………..

The next morning, I felt better. We went to church and then ate lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, a salad bar place. Travis had talked to our friend that works at REI about Garmins and learned that REI sells them in the store. So after returning the pillows that didn’t work to Gordman’s, we headed downtown to find me a Garmin.

After much hemming and hawing, I decided on the 210. I had previously wanted the 405/410 until I learned that they’re no longer making them (and REI didn’t even have any).

The 210 comes with a heart rate monitor. It tracks all the basics: pace, time, splits, distance. You can view your elevation after uploading your data.

I also looked at the 610 but it was too expensive and I didn’t feel like the extra features were worth $150 to me (though they might to someone else). I decided against the 310 as well. Even though it being waterproof made it appealing, I didn’t feel that made up for the less-than-appealing humongous square display. Plus, it would probably be too big to wear with a wetsuit during a triathlon anyway – so what would be the point?

I think the 210 is really cute.

I took it for my first test “run” last night (I ended up walking most of the 2.5 miles because my legs were so tight/sore!). I really like how it fits and the distance/splits seem accurate but I was a little frustrated with the pace display. Thought I think that’s because it was displaying my average, not current, pace (which would explain a lot). I’ve been too lazy to actually get out the manual and figure out how to work the thing so I can’t really make a judgment until I do that.

In addition to the Garmin, my mom bought me a shirt to wear for the marathon.

The last picture is loading weird, but the lines are actually horizontal on the shirt.

The shirt is REI brand and is actually designed for backpacking, so I can get double use out of it. It’s 90% Polyester, 10% spandex so it’s very stretchy and is wrinkle-resistant. I also LOVE that fabric “texture” and figure that I can probably get away with teal + pink for the race. I’m going to test the shirt out on my 12 mile long run this weekend.

Post-REI, we headed home so that Travis and my dad could work on fixing the Focus. While they did that, my mom and I shopped for and hung a picture collage in the living room. When we got new couches, the arrangement of our living room changed quite a bit so the pictures had to be moved around. This is what we came up with:

One of the frames we bought (that will go in the middle on the left) didn’t have a wall-hanger so I have to work on that still – as well as putting pictures in some of the frames.

The canvases on the right need to be put in black frames and then they’ll be hung up above the loveseat.

The car and picture projects lasted until about 8:30, when we finally grilled up some elk burgers. Around 11, we went to bed and my parents (sadly) left the next morning to fly back to Minnesota. It was a short but sweet trip! Thanks Mom and Dad for your overwhelming generosity with everything. We are very blessed by you.

Happy National Running Day!

Training Recap: 12/12 – 12/18

19 Dec

Aside from several hours on Saturday spent freaking out and raging on my poor husband, I actually had a very wonderful, relaxing weekend.

Friday, after shopping and partying with my co-workers, I went home at 3 – which was very helpful to my Christmas shopping! I stopped at Massage Envy on my way home to buy a Christmas present and then at Walmart to see if they had tulle that I could use to make a tutu for the race. Instead, I found some sweet-o boxers for both me and Trav – elf for me, Santa for him. (I’m lucky to have a husband willing to dress up with me.) Travis got home from work early too so we got to work wrapping presents and preparing gifts for mailing. We also finally baked our sugar cookies and figured out our race outfits.

Saturday, the race was a lot of fun. I’ll tell more details later… but I will say that I finished in 32:52, which is 48 seconds faster than last year! I will also say that 5K is my least favorite racing distance ever.

The rest of Saturday was spent by me freaking out about all the stuff I had to do: make an elk roast for dinner, go grocery shopping, buy one last present, mail/ship all Christmas presents, clean the house, and take a nap (ha!), all in 5.5 hours. And you know what? I did it. But not in style. Or niceness. Better luck next time.

After a short 30 minute “nap,” we had friends over for dinner, which was very fun and worth cleaning for. Shortly after they left at 8:45, I read for a while and went to bed.

Sunday morning, I read before church – I started Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Oh.my. I cried reading the first chapter AND have already called back to mind several things I read. I fully expect this to become one of my favorite books.

After church, we came home, ate lunch and napped/watched both the Packers and Broncos lose! Boo! (I am not a Packers fan BUT I will cheer for any team with a perfect record. I am now done cheering for them.) During the Broncos game, we took the dogs to the dog park for a bit and then drove up to Evergreen to get our skate on. I wish we would’ve remembered to bring Trav’s hockey sticks and a puck, but we didn’t. It was still fun skating around – Evergreen is a great place for skating. There’s a ton of ice space so you never feel crowded. But the ice was a little sketchy/ungroomed this time – maybe it’s not thick enough for the zamboni yet?

We ate dinner at The Woodcellar, a local bar/grill. Our food was absolutely delicious – I had the Hot Avocado Melt on Ciabatta bread with sweet potato fries. The fries were amazing. They had a seasoning similar to Arby’s curly fries. Mmmm… (And because Travis would give me crap about taking a picture of my food, you’ll have to use your imagination.)

Then we drove around our neighborhood looking at Christmas lights and what these houses lack in class, they make up for in quantity. The best most decorated house we saw:

It was seriously impressive how much they managed to fit in their yard. When I see houses decorated like this, I have 2 thoughts: Where do they store all that stuff? and How much money did they spend buying all that? 

When we got home, we attempted to watch Elf but weirdly, Travis was falling asleep after 20 minutes (that happens maybe 2 times a year)! So he went to bed and I stayed up for another 45 minutes before I figured I should probably go to bed – as today is Monday and all. Looking forward to two 4-day weeks coming up!

Now, on to the training recap:

Monday: Half mile repeats on track at Rec (4:14, 4:24, 4:30, 4:30) – 2.7 miles total

Lately, I’ve often been noticing that the thing holding me back from running faster is my lungs. That was definitely the case during this workout, as well as the 5k I did. Oh, silly little lungs.

Tuesday: P90X Yoga (1:20:00)

I almost made it all the way through the workout (it’s an hour and a half long), which is very exciting for me. The first time I ever did YogaX, I did the first 30 minutes and turned it off because I was so sore. This time, my shoulders were still a little sore the next day, but not bad at all. This is what I love about all exercise – seeing your body adapt and being able to do things you weren’t able to do before. The next thing I want to master in this workout are the balance poses after Warrior 3 (Standing Splits to Half Moon to Revolved Half Moon) – holy crap they’re hard!

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 3.66 mile sleeprun (43:31, 11:53/mile)

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 5k race (32:52, 10:36/mile)

Sunday: 45 min ice skating

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have canceled any formal workouts this week in honor of my mental sanity and a week of relaxation before marathon training starts in a week! I pretty much went straight from my triathlon schedule to my base-building schedule so I just want one week off from having to fit workouts in and then it’s go-time. It also works out that it’s Christmas this week. 😉 Although maybe it’s not so good, since I need exercise more than ever to cancel out all the extra treats I’m eating!

Back with pics tomorrow, I promise hope!

Don’t Be a Scrooge

29 Nov


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It is officially the Christmas season. And with Black Friday under our belts, it is also gift buying time. This year, I’m trying something new – not being a Scrooge.

For some reason, even though I usually like buying gifts, feeling expected to do so makes me not want to. I love giving spontaneous gifts when the other person doesn’t expect it, or I find something that I just know someone will love. But having a list of what someone wants or knowing that I can’t show up without a present just takes all the fun out of gift giving for me.

I was lamenting this to Travis the other day. “I hate having to rack my brain and go to 3 different stores to fit a present to buy for someone.”

Travis suggested that we just don’t do Christmas presents this year. We’d just tell our families that we decided not to buy presents this year.

But that just seemed so… selfish and Scrooge-like. Sorry, I didn’t buy you a present because you expected me to and it was too much work? Hmmmm…

Then it occurred to me that I was looking at the whole gift giving thing all wrong. Since I truly do enjoy blessing others with gifts that I know they will enjoy, what if I viewed Christmas as a time to do that for all of my loved ones? Instead of feeling forced to buy them a gift, I could look at this season as an opportunity to bless them with our abundance and to show them love by taking the time to think about and look for that gift that they truly will delight in.

In short, I need to make gift giving about their happiness, not mine. 

I’m not huge on Christmas gifts myself. I mean, sure, I enjoy getting presents. But I wouldn’t be devastated if I didn’t get any. I’d be content if we decided to instead buy a cow or a pig for a needy family in Africa. (And I have suggested that, so we’ll see what my family says.) But I’m not sure everyone would go for that and instead of being bitter like Scrooge and either refusing to give them gifts or giving them purely out of obligation, I can choose to show my love for my family and friends in the way that they feel loved.*

So this Christmas season, I’m going to go shopping while remembering that good gifts are fun to receive and bring happiness to my loved ones.

Do you enjoy buying presents for others?

 

(*Not saying that all my family and friends need gifts to feel loved, but it is the most common form of affection shown during Christmas.)

Nifty Thrifty

1 Nov

For some reason, when we returned from our Labor Day trip to North Carolina, I had the wild hair to go to the thrift store and found some great deals. I kept forgetting to take pictures until last night. Here for your viewing pleasure:

2 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, a dress plus a couple of Christmas decorations = $40.

I wore this to my cousin’s wedding at the beginning of October with a black sequined sleeveless shirt, a 3/4 sleeve sweater that matched the blue/purple color, black tights and black boots.

This I wore to my sister-in-law’s baby shower with brown leggings, brown boots and a brown belt.

These pants are from J. Crew and are my best find of all. They fit me well, they’re comfy and they’re very fall-y.

I also really like these jeans from Banana Republic. They’re wide leg so very roomy and comfy. The only drawback is that they’re a size bigger than I would normally buy so I have to wash them often or else they’re a little too big.

I didn’t take an individual pic of the gray skirt but it’s from Old Navy and hits right above the knee. Nice and modest for work (and who am I kidding, I feel exposed with anything shorter that I wear without tights… I’m getting so old and stuffy!) The dress and other skirt were no-name brands.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have any trick or tips to finding good deals. Except maybe find a thrift or discount store that consistently has good stuff? That’s been my secret. Also, be prepared to comb the racks. Patience is golden.

And my latest find…

Skinny jeans. (worn with a top I also found at the thrift store)

I wore them to work today with my calf-high brown boots – on the outside! First time I’ve ever been able to do that. I don’t feel quite as poser-ish as I had initially thought I would. But I do feel slightly poser-ish. I think, for me, it’s because I would never have bought skinny jeans, except that they practically allow me to tuck my jeans into my boots. Not that I have anything against them – clearly. I’m just not a person who really wears trends unless I really like them. I do like these jeans though – they’re like 18% spandex so they’re very comfy. And good to have for holiday season. 🙂

Do you shop at thrift stores? What’s the best thing you’ve found?