Tag Archives: winter

winter/holiday style me challenge: week two

The Winter/Holiday Style Me Challenge continues even though I don’t have a lot to show for it this week. I’m currently on day two of a terrible cold that’s keeping me home from work and not providing me with enough energy for anything other than laying on the couch trying not to curse every time I have to swallow. Fun times.


scarf / target; poncho and jeans / old navy maternity; booties / nordstrom; tee / borrowed maternity

The blanket scarf. In theory I love it, in reality it’s frustrating. This one at least as it’s not quite wide enough for how long it is. I tried tying it in the morning and later in the day I made an infinity scarf out if it by tying opposite corners. I love the pattern, but it just doesn’t seem to lay very well.


sweater / gap; plaid shirt / old navy maternity; black pants / gap maternity; necklace / stella and dot; flats / nordstrom

This is one of those outfits that looked cuter in my head than it did when I actually put it on. But I’m constantly running so late these days there’s no time for outfit changes. I really wish Stella & Dot had not discontinued this necklace. It’s one of my favorites because it goes with everything and is nice and delicate when you just need a little something.


scarf / nordstrom; sweater / old navy; jeans / old navy maternity; top / gap maternity; boots / dsw; necklace / s&d

This outfit was so cozy for a day of traveling up to Canada and hanging out with the husband. I’m not usually impressed with Old Navy quality (but the prices are hard to beat for my temporary wardrobe); this sweater though is incredibly thick and warm.


scarf and booties / nordstrom; vest / destination maternity; top / old

Super simple and super comfortable Monday outfit. I’m torn on the scarf though. As you can see in the picture from Nordstrom, it lays nice and flat. On me if feels a little wild and unruly. Someone at work also asked if it was made of dead cat.

We were in Canada for days 6 and 7 and being out of my normal routine I forgot to take pictures. And yesterday, day 9, I wore yoga pants and didn’t get off the couch much.

As I do every challenge, I’m joining up with several of the other ladies to share out outfits on Wednesdays. It’s one of my favorite parts of the challenge. If you’re blogging about your outfits and want to share, link up on Alison or Carrie’s blogs – or both!

making the most of your clothes spending (and the winter challenge!)

I know it seems like we just finished the fall challenge, but I am excited to report that the winter challenge is open for registration today! According to Alison, it will build on fall to add a little more warmth but take advantage of what we already own. It’s been cold here in Seattle and I’m looking forward to adding a few more layers. Holiday outfit ideas are also included, which I’ll be holding on to for next year while I live it up in my $30 Target maternity dress this year.

Winter/Holiday Style Challenge Banner

It’s no secret that I love numbers. I probably spend more time strategizing on the best way to maximize my dollars during these challenges than I actually spend on shopping for clothes. It’s totally part of the fun for me, but since I know most people aren’t quite as nerdy, I thought I’d share the ways in which I make the most of my money.

Create a capsule wardrobe. I have spent by far the least amount of money on clothes in the last year (compared to years before) and look much more pulled together while feeling like my options are ten fold what they used to be. Obviously I find Alison’s challenges the easiest way for me to create seasonal wardrobes, but others prefer to create them themselves. You can read about why I love capsule wardrobes in this post.

Set a budget. It doesn’t matter if you need to or not, or if the amount available is $100 or $1000. I guarantee that you will make better choices if you set a budget and commit to sticking to it. Come up with a number before the challenge starts and write it down. Once you have that number, weigh each potential purchase against it to determine if it’s worth it. The extra step of really thinking about an item makes it much harder to impulse buy and end up with pieces you might regret.

I did not set a budget for Spring and bought several ‘extra’ items that don’t get worn often. I did set one for both Summer and Fall and it really forced me to think about my purchases before spending the money. I noticed a big difference in how quickly I bought items (much more slowly) and in how many items I bought that don’t get regularly worn (none).

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Shop through Ebates. There really isn’t a reason not to use Ebates, which is a website that gives you cash back for shopping online. It’s free to create an account and takes approximately ten seconds to use prior to making an online purchase. For example, Nordstrom is 6% right now, meaning that if you click the “Start Shopping Now” link prior to making your purchase at Nordstrom, your Ebates account will be credited with 6% of your purchase. They pay out via Paypal once per quarter and almost every store I regularly shop at is included. This isn’t for just clothes, they have stores of all types, including Target!

I’ve earned $485 since opening my account in 2008. That’s not a ton of money, but it is $70 a year for virtually no effort.

Typically I forget to use Ebates at the beginning of my shopping adventure and remember right before I’m about to hit submit. I simply close the window, reopen, go to Ebates, look for my store, launch the store through Ebates, and go back to my cart. As long as you’re on the same computer, your saved items will still be sitting in the cart, waiting for you to buy them and earn yourself a few percentage points back.

Be loyal and earn points. If you are comfortable with credit cards, opening them with stores you shop at often is a great way to add more to your budget amount. Most retailers offer cards that earn rewards back on the purchases you make. I don’t open the Visa or MC credit cards, just the cards that are only used at that store. My budget amount each season is what I plan to spend in cash; I add any rewards I might have from stores on top of that. To make this effective and actually earn decent rewards, you have to be loyal to one or two brands (or do a lot of shopping I suppose if you want to be loyal to more than one or two).

I would say that 90% of my shopping is done with one of the Gap brands (Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta) or Nordstrom. Occasionally something will intrigue me enough at another store to make a purchase that won’t earn me points, but not often. I have coerced encouraged Greg to do most of his shopping with these two brands as well, using my credit cards. He has no interest in playing the rewards game so I benefit from his points. I haven’t bought a ton for the martian yet, but what little I have bought has all been sale clothes from Gap and Old Navy. There’s no shame in earning rewards off your unborn child’s wardrobe!

I’m not sure I’ll use it all, but I currently have $60 to Gap brands and $40 to Nordstrom. That increases my $300 budget by 33%, just for having shopped these brands previously. Other benefits of being loyal often include free shipping and sale days only for card members.

Know your stores. If you regularly shop at a few stores, you will learn their routines which will save you money over time. For example, I know that it is foolish to ever buy anything full price at a Gap brand store. At a minimum you should get 30% off because they are constantly running 30%+ off sales online. If there’s not some sort of deal, wait a day and there will be. Nordstrom, on the flip side, has major sales once or twice a year and other than that it’s very hit or miss when or if an item will go on sale. If you miss the big sales, you might as well buy an item regular price before it sells out.

During the spring challenge I bought a few pairs of jeans from Loft. They have an incredibly high minimum for free shipping, which I didn’t meet. Then I didn’t like the jeans and found that they don’t have free returns. I ended up spending nearly $20 to receive and send back two pairs of jeans. Lesson learned: pay attention to store policies, especially if they are stores you don’t frequent. And also, never pay for shipping. In this day and age, that’s just insulting!

Have any tips for maximizing your clothing budget? 

the 2014 winter bucket list: recap

winter bucket list 2014_edited-1Seeing that we’re more than two weeks into spring territory, it’s time to recap winter. I made my list of goals weeks before I decided to jump into the NTP program, so they definitely did not take into account that I’d be spending most of my free time learning and studying.

1. Attend Barre3 five times a week. I went five days a week up until we got a few weeks into class. Then I cut back to three or four. Then I realized that with all the studying I was doing, exercising indoors meant I was never getting outside. I ended my membership and started walking Alfred a lot more. It was a great decision – I just feel so much better when I get outside everyday for an extended period of time.

2. Bring breakfast to work every day, bring my lunch to work four days a week, and eat a homemade dinner five nights a week. I did really well with this. Over the course of ten weeks I think I bought my breakfast at work only three times. There was probably a week or two where I didn’t bring my lunch four days, but I really improved on not eating in the cafe everyday. As for dinners, for the most part we stuck to going out/take out no more than twice a week and some weeks I think we even did only one.


3. Redo our office. The major work is done, but I’m still finishing up some decorative aspects. Still loving our new set up and the additional light we are getting in our favorite room. I wrote about our overhaul here.

4. Create my craft closet. I got so far as to cleared out the closet and moved in a small desk. Between seeing what I was actually working with and knowing that the next year or more is dedicated to becoming an NTP and starting my own business (and if we’re lucky throwing a baby in the mix), crafting is probably not going to be high on my list for a while. I’ve decided to reorganize the closet (it’s about halfway done) to better store all my supplies. That alone is huge and with our larger work desk I have room to craft when I get a few minutes.

5. Finish closet and jewelry organization. Ha. Let’s just say it is not significantly worse than when winter started.


6. Organize the spice jars. The supplies were purchased and the work is mostly done. There’s probably an hour left, I just haven’t got to it yet. Maybe this weekend? I went with small jars to organize my every growing spice collection. More details to come in a post when I finally finish the project.


7.  See something new in Washington. We did! It wasn’t super exciting, but we had a fun family day down to Port Orchard.


8. Go on a winter getaway. Phoenix was not so good to us in 2014, but we got a few hours in the sun and we had a good time together. Maui 2015 is on the books (in my head), though Maui for Fall 2014 needs to get booked on the real books ASAP.

9. Replace two of our dog-chewed blankets with homemade ones. I made progress on two blankets but neither are near finished. I bought the fabric for a quilt and I’m about 30% done with a new knit blanket. I’m LOVING it and will happily admit I borrowed the idea from Elise (of course). You can see her finished product here and at some point I’ll be back to show you mine.

10. Send five cards. I did not start a snail-mail revolution. The only snail-mail I sent was monthly anniversary cards to my sister and brother-in-law (from her shower), which totally don’t count since I did not write them.


Sunday was supposed to be in the low 50s and partly sunny. I had grand plans for a fun family day to take advantage of the weather and everyone else in Seattle staying home to watch the Seahawks game. I did some research looking for a day trip to a new spot in Washington and came up with Port Orchard.

We drove into Kitsap County (a little over an hour) and our first stop was the Howe Farms dog park. It was huge – 4 acres of fields and trails. I typically hate the dog park but this one was fun. The scenery was really beautiful as well. It was only about 40 and super foggy – so much for the good weather. We were underdressed for the elements and stayed for only 45 minutes.

Next up we went into downtown Port Orchard. I thought we’d stroll along the main street, find a cute place to eat, and enjoy the afternoon along the marina. Besides the weather not being on our side, Port Orchard was a little sad. Most of the stores on the main street were boarded up. Definitely not what I had pictured.

We found a cute place to stop and eat though, the Home Made Cafe. It was a little breakfast and lunch spot in the basement of an old church. All the tables were dining room tables with matching chairs, very country kitsch. The food was good and they had hot coffee. We ate and headed back to the car. Trying to make the most of our adventure, we took the ferry home. I’m still somewhat in awe of driving onto a ferry even though this is probably my fifth or so time.

The day wasn’t really what I had imagined, but we still had a lot of fun and spent quality time together. And one winter bucket list goal is complete. portorchard

the 2014 winter bucket list

winter bucket listMy first time writing 2014, so crazy. This bucket list looks a little less fun and a little more self-improvement, but I think if you start the first ten weeks of the year off with a solid foundation the year can only be great, right? Besides, in Seattle winter the days are short and dark. Might as well get all the improvements going in winter so the summer bucket list can be full of fun for long, warm days.

“Winter” is going to be Jan 6th – March 16th. It’s a little arbitrary, but going all the way to Memorial Day is too long. Easter is late this year at the end of April and isn’t a good cut-off either. Ten weeks sounded good, so mid-March it is.

1. Attend Barre3 five times a week. I recently switched up my exercise routine after taking all of December off. I no longer belong to my CrossFit gym and started Barre3, a combo of ballet, yoga, and pilates. Five days a week seems a little daunting, but I’m making it a top priority as my mental state seems to be so much better when I make exercise a part of my routine. My physical state could also use the health.

2. Bring breakfast to work every day, bring my lunch to work four days a week, and eat a homemade dinner five nights a week. Speaking of ensuring good mental and physical health, food is right up there with moving. We went WAY off track in December and ate more take-out than I’ve ever eaten in my life. I’m committing to making making our food a priority. Oh, and everything I make at home will be Whole30 compliant.

3. Redo our office. I mentioned this in my house goals post, it’s time we reorganize our office to better fit how we use it. We spend so much time in that room (it’s really more like a family room than an office) and we can improve how it’s laid out.

4. Create my craft closet. The second of our house goals that I want to attack in the next few months. Things are getting out of hand on my desk and with the office reorg Greg and I will be sharing one. It definitely will not work if my craft gear is everywhere, so into the closet I go.

5. Finish closet and jewelry organization. I started this in the fall and never finished, so it’s back on the list again.

6. Organize the spice jars. This might sound silly, but I have a ton of spices (and use them!) and they are a complete and total mess. It takes me a while to find anything and usually involves a few jars falling out of the cupboard while I’m searching through them. So far nothing has broken but it’s really just a matter of time.


7.  See something new in Washington. I really have seen so little of that state since moving here in 2011. I don’t have anything specific in mind and am leaving the options open for whatever might come up.

8. Go on a winter getaway. Last year’s long weekend in Phoenix was fantastic. We’re figuring out where to go this year to keep our (my?) winter sanity.


9. Replace two of our dog-chewed blankets with homemade ones. Right now I’m thinking one knit and one quilt, but we’ll see what I end up doing.

10. Send five cards. I’m going to start a snail-mail revolution.