The 10 Do’s of April

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Festival season is in full swing. Just looking at my calendar, I cannot believe all that is going on in four short weeks around this town. Let’s see if I can make it through prior to pool-side sipping coming up in the next few months!

  1. Enjoy a weekend away
  2. Determine how to tweak my workout for better summer results
  3. Do some gardening – March didn’t allow some dirt diggin’ time
  4. Get creative – an art project is still hung up in my queue
  5. Attend Summer Sunsets in the Park – one of the best Sunday rituals in the city!
  6. Dedicate more time to girlfriends
  7. Begin another photo class
  8. Perfect the festival wardrobe
  9. Attend ALL the festivals – Hogs and Hops, Dogwood, Spring Festival on Ponce, Sweetwater 420 Fest, and Inman Park Festival
  10. Infuse some vodka with jalapenos or other peppers for a great addition to Bloody Mary’s

Christine

Debt Accountability Check 3 – Capsule Peek

Another debt accountability check, but currently my finances are so up in the air that I can’t report on where I actually stand! So for today’s post, I thought I’d dive into why I am unable to report, and how I am working on my capsule collection I’ll be sharing (hopefully) next week!

Building a capsule when you love shopping online and have little time for actually going to different malls and stores has it’s benefits and downfalls. When I started building my capsule for this spring, I realized I was missing a lot of items. I wrote out a skeleton of items I wanted to include, very general descriptions, such as “black top” and started shopping away!

Well, when I was shopping away I would order 10 different varieties of one item, such as 10 different black tops to choose from. This has proved interesting, as I have really been working out those credit cards, only to take the time to return items later on in stores. I’m building up rewards on my cards and store accounts, and getting a wider variety of items to decide on than if I were just in store. I feel that it has cut out a lot of time that shopping can take up.

However, with all of those purchases, it takes time to return everything and get it posted onto my account, and that my friends is why my cards are out of whack. I have been tracking my final
decisions, and paying them off in full as I make decisions, but there are a lot of boxes still sitting in my apartment to be returned. I’m ready to get them all out of there, and see what I’ve actually spent on this spring collection. I’ve focused on quality, great deals on those quality items, and making sure I absolutely love the pieces I mark as final.

Since I’m not going into finances, I thought I would share a few items I’ve added to my closet for spring!

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Striped Shirt / Wedges / Booties / Floral Kimono

I’ll be sure that my accounts are leveled out next month to provide a better update, and hopefully I’ll positively be out of debt!!

Do you online shop? What are your favorite stores, especially those with great shipping and return policies?

Christine

Charleston in a Weekend

Chucktown, what a delicious city! I was so happy to visit again for a long weekend, and the best part is that two of my best friends now live there, so double the reason to head east! There was so much to do and taste in such a short amount of time, and I am fairly impressed by what we accomplished in the one full day I was there.

It’s about a 5 hour drive from Atlanta, and I was so ready to get there just in time for dinner! We met up at Prohibition, a modern American restaurant with waiters in Southern Proper ties and bartenders slinging creative cocktails in suspenders. They had beautiful caged lights to bring the rustic theme, as well as dark wood and tall steel barstools. I absolutely loved the throwback this restaurant’s vibe put off in such a modern and fresh way. The food and drinks lived up to the look as well. I enjoyed their strawberry mojito, the Carolina Roll and of course we split the blueberry basket, which has a deceiving name as it is actually french toast, with a Special K batter to give it crunch, and a blueberry ice cream scoop in the middle.

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After dinner, we got to stroll the streets to Theatre 99, the local, and surprisingly cheap, improv comedy theatre. They had a Improv Smackdown competition that night, and I could not stop laughing at the talent up there! Brandy Sullivan, one of the owners of Theatre 99, performed and I cannot wait to go back just to see her again. The quickness and hilarity these people come up with on the spot is something way beyond my talent level. I think this place is going to be a must-go each and every time I visit. While there, I also tried a local beer from Holy City called Washout Wheat, a perfect spring Hefeweizen. I really want to actually head to this brewery next time.

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Afterwards we walked to Kaminsky’s, a dessert and drink bar perfect for a late night sweet tooth! They had about a 20-30 minute wait to seat the three of us, so we put our names down and headed to the Charleston City Market. We discovered they host a night market on Fridays and Saturdays. You beat the craziness of the day market, and every artist there must handmake their products, creating a very eclectic and artistic scene to stroll through at night.

After a bit of window shopping, we arrive back at Kaminsky’s just in time to grab our seats. When you walk in, you first pick out a cake or pie you want from their display. I picked out the Coconut Creme Pie, which was a great decision! I believe it is their number two seller, with their Toll House pie being their first. I also got a Kahlua Espresso to go with the pie. It was a little bit of an overload with the two combined, but I took on the challenge! Winning.

The one thing I love about Charleston that is hard to say for Atlanta is that most things in the downtown area are all walking distance. It may be a 20 minute walk, but still doable. Bring your walking shoes when you visit!

The next morning, we made our first stop the sweetest at Glazed. I of course had to try two – the Maple Bacon and the Key Lime Pie. Both oh so good!! We needed a real meal though, so we start walking and shopping just a little bit until we arrived at Toast for another great meal. The place is small and not very trendy, but the people were welcoming and their jalapeno-infused vodka they used for my bloody mary was on point! We beat the breakfast rush too by enjoying our meal later in the day, which was a huge plus and created very little wait time. I ordered the Eggs Meeting Street, recommended by our waiter, which has a fried green tomato, crab cake, and a poached egg. The real star of the meal was the biscuit though!

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We then started our walking and shopping for the day. I never realized how much shopping there was in Charleston!! We were in and out of stores for probably 4 hours, checking out everything and on the search for the perfect romper. Of course, we still landed in Anthropologie where I am pretty sure I will be picking up their Capri Blue Volcano scent candles, a cocoon dress, some dishtowels, and this little black romper in the future.

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So much shopping and friend time was had – it felt good to spend time with both of my favorite ladies, and it wasn’t even over! A completely unplanned event happened this weekend too – my cousin from Connecticut and her boyfriend just happened to be visiting Charleston that same weekend! We all met up at Poogan’s Porch for dinner later that night. Poogan’s is actually a haunted house, where two sisters both passed at different times. One of them is seen looking out the window near where we dined often. The police have actually been called before saying that someone was inside, only for them to find nothing. Very creepy!!

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Another great food and drink stop here, but you must try their cocktails! Apparently their bartender won a ton of awards, and judging from the Ice Pick (think an Arnold Palmer) and Mystic (a mix of vodka, St. Germain, cucumber, and grapefruit juice) I believe them! I then ordered the Pan Seared Sea Scallops, which was pimento cheese ravioli, creamed corn, perfectly cooked scallops and a roasted red pepper vinaigrette. We also had a diner who has a gluten allergy, and they offer many gluten-free options here which made things easy!

The final place of the night was Stars Restaurant. We really just went there quickly for a drink to enjoy the view. They have a beautiful rooftop bar with lounge areas and you can see a large area of the city from above. We didn’t eat there, but apparently it is a pretty good dining spot too.

I hate Sundays – they always signal that the weekend is over and time to head back to work. I made one final food stop before leaving at Bay Street Biergarten and of course got chicken and waffles with another local beer, Westbrook White Thai, to wash it down. I felt satisfied leaving on that culinary high note.

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Needless to say, I had an amazing time in Charleston, and was able to pack so much in! I cannot wait to visit and explore more next time. I also need to continue to make sure to sign up for ClassPass after those indulgent weekends, haha.

Have you been to Charleston? Have you tried any of these places, or recommend others for next time? Also, I totally messed up with my photography here and brought a 50mm camera lens versus one that is a little more diverse. I need to continue to improve with this photography thing! At least my phone captured some great food shots for y’all!

Christine

The Week Eats: #4

This past weekend, I had a fantastic vacation in Charleston with friends (more to come on that!) and ate everything in site!! Although I loved every scrumptious bite, coming back home it was time to get back on track with healthy eating. Here is what I am cooking up this week:

Breakfast:

English muffin with smashed avocado and an over-hard egg… I know, I’m not the biggest fan of runny yolks and that is weird, ha. Half of the muffing contains the egg/avocado, and the other half is topped with local honey!

I’ve also been taking a 1.5-2 oz shot of both lemon and cranberry pressed juice. It will make you pucker like a sourpatch!

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Lunch:

It is finally spring and time for salads! This one includes a baby spring blend, sliced almonds, grapes, blue cheese, chicken, and a raspberry vinaigrette from Trader Joe’s. IMG_6408

Dinner:

EASY. That is what dinner is going to be this week. I sauteed asparagus in olive oil, garlic powder, and S&P, then topped this turkey meatloaf with spicy mustard. The turkey meatloaf was cooked and frozen beforehand for a quick cook, and is similar to this recipe.

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Snacks:

Snacks this week included lots of apples, Omega Trail Mix handfuls from Trader Joe’s, Black Raspberry Greek Yogurt, and Olive Oil organic popcorn from Trader Joe’s.

Any ideas on what you are cooking up next week?

Christine

Shopping: Graphic Tees for Spring

I am very particular about my graphic tees. They can quickly turn childish or trying too hard quickly. For me, I like a simple design, usually of something abstract, maybe a few words but not a phrase, and definitely not any city names as that turns into a tourist looking purchase too quickly.

I also want them super loose and comfy for spring – all I can think about is that warm breeze coming through and wanting something that flows with it. Plus, they have to be soft, not like those T-shirts I accumulated at every event possible through college and still are not broken in.

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1. Fade Away Tank / 2. Gray Crew Tee / 3. Gray Tank

4. Terrier Tee / 5. Breezy V Neck / 6. White Cara Loren Tee

Which choices are your favorite? I’m leaning towards 3 and 6. Any suggestions on where you find that perfect graphic T?

Christine

The Week Eats: #3

The past few weeks have been so busy that convenience while running around is all that I need!

All of these items are make ahead or quick to assemble.

Breakfast:

Blueberry Smoothie Bowl. Kind of like an acai bowl, but a bit different. Toppings usually included a few almonds and extra frozen blueberries.

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  • Splash of unsweetened almond milk
  • Dash of stevia
  • 2 Tbsp Organic raw honey
  • 3/4 C Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 avocado

Place all ingredients in your blender and blend on the lowest setting possible until smooth.

Lunch:

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad c/o Fit Men Cook

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Dinner:

Salmon with Asparagus

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To cook, spice salmon with spices of choice (I used S&P, dill, and Ms. Dash’s Garlic & Herb) and top with fresh sliced lemons. I suggest removing any lemon seeds prior to placing them on your fish.

Wrap salmon in parchment paper and cook at 425 for 20 minutes. It will come out perfect!

For the asparagus, season with S&P and drizzle with about a tsp of olive oil. Place in oven with salmon when 15 minutes is left on the clock for the salmon, so both of your items will be ready at the same time!

Let the salmon sit for a few before digging in.

Snacks:

  • Carrots, Hummus and Prunes
  • Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix (Just a Handful)

Any delicious items you’ve been eating this week? Please share!

Christine

Beer, Bourbon and BBQ 2015

I think it is safe to say festival season is back! This was our third year attending Beer, Bourbon and BBQ in Atlanta, and it seems every time is gets JUST a little bit warmer, enough to finally realize it’s time to start coming out of hibernation.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t find any great flavorings for bourbon this year, but I will mention one from past years that has always stuck – Cabin Fever. It is a great maple whiskey, and one that this vodka girl can enjoy. I’ve never been a particular fan of the dark stuff.

There were also tons of beer samples, which is where I leaned to, making this a great event for lovers of all types of different drinks. The chocolate beer was fantastic – Southern Tier’s Chocolate Stout, Choklat, in particular. You will not be disappointed!

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Another recommendation and stand out from this year is Midnight Moon’s new Raspberry Moonshine. It was delicious. I got the last sample of it, unfortunately for those behind me (or fortunately, however you want to spin shots of moonshine). This obviously then landed us in the food line, where I grabbed the chicken sandwich and mac and cheese. I was honestly disappointed on the food end – anything involving pork was sold out early on in the festival. Processed with VSCOcam

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood…. Processed with VSCOcam

Christine

Poshing

I walked into Plato’s closet, lugging 3 overflowing baskets of clothes that no longer fit me, my style or my closet. After patiently waiting 30 minutes or so for the associates to pick through all of those items, I came out empty-handed in the way I didn’t expect. It was a bust – they hadn’t purchased a single item. Instead of coming out with cash, I came back out with my baskets, cramming them into my trunk in defeat.

I was fed up. How frustrating was it that they wouldn’t purchase these clothes that were so well cared for and had reputable clothing brand names slapped all over? I was determined to never walk into another consignment store again. Thank goodness for that.

A close friend of mine had mentioned she was selling some of her items on an app called Poshmark. I had tried it and didn’t sell anything right away, but came back to it a few months later to see if I could use some of my social media strategy to sell my closet.

I had SO MANY clothes – ones I had been holding on to, ones that had been sitting in my trunk, and others that recently left my closet when I decided to adopt minimalism. There was bound to be something someone would buy, right?

At first, I posted some lower quality photos, didn’t network as much as I should have, and by some miracle I still sold a few items! When you start looking at other closets, you realize the time some people put into them, and those are the closets that a listing goes up and is sold within the day. Those are the shops you want to be!

I’ve been fairly successful with Poshmark – I’ve made a few hundred dollars already on relatively not many pieces of clothing. Much more than I’ve ever made at Plato’s or eBay! I also love the app – it is very well designed for a quick reference, and the desktop/iPad version makes it easy to share my items.

If you have a bunch of clothes sitting around, I would suggest trying out Poshmark! Friends, I’m also willing to sell some items for you as I’ve built up my network – you know how to get in touch with me!

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I’ll be posting a bit of my strategy, do’s and don’t’s, and more features of the app. Do you have any questions or have you used the app before?

Happy Poshing!

Christine

Debt Accountability Check 2

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Another month of no additions to my debt!! I am so so happy about this, and hope to continue this progress. Let’s check it out:

I started tracking end of August of last year, and by the end of 2014, I was down, but had bigger goals. Here are my past numbers:

August 31, 2014 (start): 100%

September 30, 2014: 87.56% (down 12.44%)

October 31, 2014: 91.76% (up 4.6%)

November 30, 2014: 67.02% (down 24.74%)

December 31, 2014: 79.35% (up 12.33%)

January 31, 2015: 58.29% (down 21.06%)

My goal is to reduce my debt by 12% each month. How did this pan out for February?

February 28, 2015: 58.29% (down 21.44%)

Again, down! I have a few more tricks I implemented this month to get down even more than my big January drop:

  • Save/Pay a dollar per day. I had 50 cents go to my credit card and 50 cents go to my savings account each day. This helped when I was in a cash bind, since I had a little more in my joint checking/savings, and also dropped my card balance by a few bucks.
  • I didn’t factor into my budget anticipated (but not guaranteed) payments. These are the extras, such as my part-time job, mystery shopping, ebates, etc… Take it out of your budget and just drop it right on the card when it hits your account!

What goals have you reached this month? Any small ways you would like to share on how you are chopping down that debt?

Christine

The 10 Do’s of March

March

March is the month that just teases you! In Georgia, it gets into the 60s, but just won’t take that leap into full-on spring temperatures. I love this month though, because there is so much to do with the better weather, letting the festivals and events come out of hibernation.

  1. Drink some green beer
  2. Take a trip – now is the perfect time to travel before the travel rush in summer
  3. Build a new capsule wardrobe, yay shopping!!
  4. Switch up my exercise plan – I’ll be finishing up 3 months worth of the Amanda Adams Bikini Body plan
  5. Participate in March Madness
  6. Plant tomatoes or peppers
  7. Make some art
  8. Have an un-ordinary date day with Dave. By un-ordinary, I mean not just dinner and a movie.
  9. Finish saving for and purchase Hunter boots – they’re on my wishlist and April showers are coming!
  10. Spend more time at the dog park and outdoors

Christine