Monday, November 30, 2015

November in Review

November has been a month of profound change…
some changes were welcomed and others that were unexpected
but big changes none the less 
Most notably…I've left dental school 
I've alluded to some personal issues in the past and the compilation of everything has required me to temporarily take some time and step away from my program. This was not something I wanted or that I could have anticipated. it's simply something that is happening and I'm working to make my peace with it. I haven't changed my course, but I am having to follow a deviated path that may take a little longer. But with anything worth having, it's worth the work and worth the wait. In the meantime, November has flown by in a blur because of all of these big changes. Leaving school, moving to a new city, and setting an altered course. it's a big part of why I have been missing in action for the majority of this month. But at this stage, I've come to realize that it's more essential than ever that I take pleasure in the small moments and simple pleasures in my life {including this little blog} So on that note, here are my favorite moments from November 
yellow bicycles brightening up a rainy autumn day + my favorite Fall Squash
Who says that fresh blooms are just for Spring? Autumn inspired arrangements are just as pretty and much more appreciated on cold windy days 
a date night spent in Little Italy with my favorite involved lots of wine  
lots of pasta with seafood
and lots of cannoli
Then Thanksgiving happened…and it was perfection

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Spending

Nothing, but shock and amazement right now about the fact that I didn't go crazy buying all the things during Black Friday Sales, especially since I had the wiggle room. But the whole point of having a yearly budget was to force myself to make thoughtful purchases and I really didn't have anything that I needed. Nor did I want to buy things for the sake of buying them just because they were on sale. Don't worry, Black Friday was not wasted upon me, I picked up plenty of gifts for others. In the meantime, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I may actually end this year under budget! 

Boatneck Sweater// Original $78 on Sale for $25

Holiday Sweater// Original $36 on Sale for $13
While some of the holiday sweaters out there are kind of ridiculous, I still really wanted one…like really really really wanted one. But how could I justify buying a sweater that I could only wear in December? Then I stumbled upon this one, which I actually think is cute! Plus, I could totally get away with wearing it Fall through Winter since it's not covered in Christmas trees or holiday sayings. Best part, it was so inexpensive, but it's surprisingly warm too! I adore this sweater and I received so many compliments when I wore it here

Plaid Button Down// Original $78 on Sale for $55
Finally found a plaid button down that actually fits me and is gorgeous too! You can read all about the tumultuous struggle in the fitting room here. Warning: it wasn't pretty. 

December Total: $93
Yearly Total $1500- $50[January]- $160[February]- $75[March]- $317[April]- $0[May]- $30[June]- $110[July]- $170[August/September]- $198[October]- $93[November] = $287 remaining for the year

Noticing that everything I picked up this month was on the festive side, which is just fine with me. Did anyone else pick up any holiday styles?  

Linking up with Budgeting Bloggers

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Do's and Don'ts of Travel Credit Cards

Like most Americans, I have a fist full of credit cards in my wallet. But unlike most Americans, I have zero credit card debt. In fact, my credit cards actually pay me. Over the past year, my Husband and I have managed to accumulate thousands of dollars worth of free adventures in the form of travel. Our long distance marriage was in part supported by dozens of free flights to see each other. And beyond that, we were able to go on several vacations throughout the year. Since sharing our last vacation budget, I've received quite a few emails asking for details about travel credit cards so I thought it would be a good idea to share our tips for how to properly use travel credit cards.  
There are so many choices when it comes to travel credit cards. You can open cards with individual hotels and airlines. Or you can open general cards with the big credit agencies…mastercard, visa, etc. But regardless of what card you choose, there are some hard and fast rules to follow. 

Do Spend within Your Means 
Don't Accumulate Debt 
This may seem obvious, but this is so much more important with travel credit cards. Travel credit cards are different than regular credit cards because travel cards offer amazing rewards and cash back for every dollar spent. But travel credit cards also tend to have higher interest rates compared to regular credit cards. So I can't stress enough the importance of paying off your credit card IN FULL every single month. Accumulating credit card debt is one of the worst financial decisions anyone could make. Unfortunately, it's also a common mistake. Thankfully, it's simple enough to safeguard against. Only charge something on your card if you currently have the money in the bank to pay the card off. As another safeguard, I pay off our credit cards any time we make a large purchase to prevent from building up a large balance. 

Do Compare the Benefits 
Don't Ignore the Fine Print 
To get the most out of your travel credit cards, you need to have the right ones. I'm currently compiling a list to share with our favorite travel credit cards. But it's important that you be able to evaluate the benefits of various cards to choose the best ones for you. Let's say, that Credit Card A offers 2 points per every dollar you spend. Whereas, Credit Card B only offers 1 point for every dollar you spend. On the surface, Credit Card A is obviously the better card. This is where it's essential that you don't ignore the fine print. Points often have different values from card to card. Let's now say that Credit A only gives you $0.20 per point earned. So if you spend $50 on Credit Card A, you get 100 points ($50 X 2points) and that comes out to $20 (100points X $0.20) in rewards. Not Bad. But Credit Card B offers $1 per point. While spending $50 on Credit Card B  only gives you 50 points ($50 X 1point), those 50 points are worth much more than the 100 points from Credit Card A. It's common for cards to market themselves as having 2 points per dollar or 3 points per dollar etc. And people tend to pick the cards that offer the most points, but first make sure you know what those points equate to for different credit cards to get the most. 

Do Take Advantage of the Sign-up Bonus 
Don't Overspend to Get it
The best way to use a travel credit card is by taking advantage of the sign-up bonus. For example, a credit card company may offer $500 in travel rewards to a person that signs up for their credit card and spends $2000 on the card over the course of 3 months. But, the $500 reward is only beneficial if you were already planning on spending $2k. Sometimes people get so caught up in earning the reward that they overspend. So the key to taking advantage of the sign-up bonus is to get a new card when you already have a big purchase planned. We were fortunate enough to charge my rent on our travel credit cards (with no additional fee). I would simply pay my rent on a credit card for a couple months, pay off the credit card immediately, and voila! I just earned $500 in free flights by simply paying my rent. Car or home repairs, holidays, vacations….these are all instances where we know that we will be spending more than usual and you have hopefully saved up for it. Why not take advantage of this and earn a little back? 

An example of some credits I redeemed for our California Trip

If you don't have any large purchases coming up, but you have extra money in your bank account, you can always create a large purchase. Don't run out and buy something you don't need, simply pay for what you do need ahead of time. For instance, I once singed up for a credit card because I had car repairs planned. Things changed and I no longer needed the repairs, but then I was like oh crap, I'm not going to get my sign-up bonus now. So I had two options: 1.) Let the extra $$$ sit in my bank account and earn a whooping $0.03 of interest OR 2.) Spend X amount of dollars to get my sign-up bonus of a few hundred dollars. Obviously, I wanted the sign-up bonus, but I didn't want to overspend to get it. Here, it would have been easy to take on the mindset of "I just saved a bunch on those car repairs, I may as well use the extra $$$ to buy something I want and get my points". Instead I paid my internet bill 6 months in advance and I bought a bunch of grocery store gift cards. I'm not going to suddenly stop needing to pay for internet and food, so it made sense to create this large purchase to get my bonus. 

Do Keep Your Oldest Line of Credit Open
Don't Pay the Annual Fees 
The best travel credit cards are associated with an annual fee. Each year, you may be charged upwards of a $100 just for using the card and the rewards associated with it. Typically, this fee is waived for the first year that you have the card. After that first year, get rid of the card to avoid paying the annual fee. But be aware that constantly opening and closing credit cards can affect your credit score. Our credit score has increased or stayed the same since we started doing this and a big part of that is keeping your oldest line of credit open. I have an old Discover card (it's not a travel credit card) that I don't even keep in my wallet. I maybe spend $10 a month on it and I have no real use for it. But I keep it around is because I've had it for years and it establishes a good line of credit for me. Follow the old adage...Old Credit is Good Credit
Hopefully, I've shed a little light on how to make the most of travel credit cards and what mistakes to avoid. Getting started with travel credit cards can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you understand the basics, you can open yourself up to a whole new world through the benefits and travel. As always, feel free to leave any questions below. I've noticed that many of you feel more comfortable emailing me directly at Either way, I'm happy to answer any questions. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tis the Season

Happy Black Friday! 
Well what's left of it anyway because I'm posting this super late. We spent the day taking complete advantage of the sales and somehow managed to get the majority of our Christmas shopping done. While I prefer to stay in my jammies and shop online, sometimes the in store promotions are worth venturing out for. So we spent the whole day out and about. On that note, I was a bit tired in some of these photos because they were taken at the end of the day [#poorplanning], but I couldn't not share this OOTD because I've officially pulled out the holiday sweaters! 

Holiday Sweater// Skinny Jeans [similar]// Handbag//
I cannot wait to continue wearing this sweater all season long…it's so festive!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not so Perfect Plaid

All Season long, I have been looking for the perfect plaid button-down. I can't even express to you how desperately I wanted one. With it being Fall, there is plaid everywhere so it should have been pretty easy to find something that worked for me right? 
Except there was one little problem...


I think that every woman probably has trouble with this as some point. For me, button downs are the worse! I love them, but they hate me. The problem is that I have a short torso and my chest is a bit large for my frame. With any other shirt, it's not a problem, but with button-downs, I can never seem to find one that fits. 

Case in point! 

Picture #1 is me in my regular size and the middle button looks as if it may go flying across the room at any moment. That big gaping hole between the buttons is not good. So in Picture #2: I went up a size. The shirt is baggier now, but it mostly fits well, except that it's still pulling along the buttons. It wasn't comfortable. Let's try this again! Picture #3: I go up TWO sizes. Finally, the shirt no longer pulls in the chest area, BUT it's huge everywhere else! It's much too long now, especially in the sleeves. And there is extra fabric everywhere. Nothing was going right. I felt like Goldilocks in that dressing room..."this shirt is too tight" and "this shirt is too loose" 
Nothing was just right 

My only saving grace is that I'm a shortie (only 5'2''), which meant I could go with petite sizing. I still went up two full sizes to accommodate my chest area, but petite sizes tend to be shorter in length (both in the hem and the sleeves), plus they fit a lot leaner around the torso and arms. That turned this not so perfect plaid into the perfect plaid, which is great because I love this print. 

OOTD Details...

After trying 20 different shirts at 12 different stores, I finally found my perfect plaid button-down!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Holy Cannoli!

Date Night in Little Italy 
This weekend we headed out to dinner in little Italy. Boston has so many neighborhoods and they are all unique, but I think that many of the locals would agree that little Italy is one of the best. The streets are lined with authentic Italian restaurants, wine and cheese shops, and plenty of places to grab a good gelato...the perfect spot for a dinner date. 

Little Italy is in the North End, which is one of Boston's nicest neighborhoods so we decided to take our time and linger a bit. Yes, the temperatures were in the forties and it was raining out, but that's Boston. If you never ventured out simply because it was cold, you wouldn't get to experience this city. Plus, the cold weather is easy to ignore when your destination is a hot meal. Cutting through the parkfavorite part…walking along the water me straggling along behind Husband because I wanted to take everything in…the brick of Boston's brownstones and gas street lamps. Even in the rain, this city is beautiful. With so many restuarants to chose from, it was nearly impossible to pick just one. We finally settled on Giacomo's because this place always seems to have a line outside it's door. You know you're in for a treat when people happily camp outside in the cold and pouring rain for chance to dine here. And it did not disappoint!Husband and I ordered the House Special…a dinner for two. We had no idea that it was enough food to actually feed five! Our dinner included a bed of linguine with the house sauce, topped with a full lobster...dozens of mussels…scallops…clams…shrimp and calamari. It was so much food! I must of had 4 plates of pasta and 3 glasses of wine! Husband ate even more then I did and we didn't even finish half. #leftovers  We decided to walk off some of our dinner, but that just lead to more food and wine! After a stop in the wine shop, we somehow found ourselves at Mike's Pastry. Mike's is a Boston institution so we had to make room for dessert with a few cannoli. They have every flavor of this classic Italian dessert so we couldn't pick just one! I think I need an extra workout or two to make up for this dinner date, but it's worth it. We loved exploring a new part of Boston together, especially since it involved so much good food.

Linking up with Biana 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Halloween 2015

It's about time I share our Halloween celebrations! Yes, I am aware that Halloween was like two weeks ago, but things have gotten a bit crazy around here. And while Halloween has come and gone, I couldn't go without documenting Halloween 2015 because it's obviously the funnest holiday. And the oddest one too. When you're little, you get to play dress up in public and people give you candy for it. 
Then as a teen, you age out of trick or treating and Halloween loses a bit of its grandeur. But as an adult, Halloween is suddenly magical again because you're over being too cool to play dress up. 
Because Halloween was on a Saturday this year, it started off with sleeping in
Once we finally woke up, Husband and I tried our hand at making pumpkin banana chocolate french toast. And yes, it was as good as it sounds.
After our very late breakfast, we spent the day lazying around. And because I wasn't feeling well, much of that time was spent sleeping. But I finally got up and got PJ out for a walk, which got my energy up. 
I started feeling better as the day progressed and we decided at the 11th hour to head out for the evening. So what do you do at 8PM on Halloween night when you don't have a costume? You improvise! We needed something with minimal work since we were short on time, but we wanted something clever too. We came up with Young and Old Michael Jackson. 
Young MJ's style involved lots of black, metallics, and leather. Well that's easy! All I really had to do was get dressed just like any other day. I tossed on a black fedora, my leather pants, a peplum top, and a pair of metallic shoes. Husband thought is was funny that so many people asked me throughout the night if I had bought these shoes just for the costume. Um, no I totally already owned them. Ha!  
As Old MJ, Husband was trying to imitate this. We picked up a doll (which is now PJs  favorite chew toy) and a fun wig on our way to the party. And Ta Da! 
a DIY MJ costume: Young and Old
I like to think that we will plan ahead a bit more for next years costume, but between last year and this one, this whole last minute costume thing seems to work out for us pretty well. 

By the way, Happy Friday 13th! 

Linking up with the Hill Collection