Tuesday, March 29, 2016

march clothing budget

I only picked up two new pieces this month, but they were exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a few neutral blouses that would be perfect for spring and summer. While the two tops I grabbed are seemingly different, I'm noticing a trend in fit. I've been leaning towards longer sleeves and flouncy tops. Basically, I've come to the realization of how flattering this cut can be for my body type. 

Lace Blouse = original $138 on sale for $39 {worn here}
Scallop Tee = original $25 {styled here}
March Total: $64
Budget for the Year $1750 
January/February Spending: $139 
March Spending: $64
remaining for the year $1547

This turned out to be a pretty light month, which is good because I'm anticipating next month to be spendy. I'm on the hunt for a new swimming suit, which is going to cost me. Why is swimsuit shopping so difficult? My biggest problem has been finding something that's supportive and conservative for my chest size. So the hunt continues. Wish me luck. 

Linking up with budgeting bloggers

Monday, March 28, 2016

chapter thirty-two

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could fit our lives into neat little chapters? 
They would read perfectly like a book. Chapter eight is agonizing, but no worries because our heroine comes out on top in chapter twenty-four and has a life-altering epiphany in chapter thirty-two. 
 When I first spotted this scallop tee, Gina was wearing it in chapter thirty-two of Jane the Virgin. I don't have to tell you how much I adore scalloping so I hunted this down. I have trouble committing to neutrals because they're so blah, but I love how feminine and unique I feel in this scalloped tee. 
Fedora: Brixton {exact}
Scalloped Tee: TopShop {exact}
Necklace: Rebecca Minkoff 
Skinny Jeans: Lee 
Crossbody: Frye {splurge||spend}
Hurache Flats: Sam Edelman {spend||save} 

Thursday, March 24, 2016


This is the first time since the weather changed that it's felt like Spring. Normally, I would need all the bright colors and floral prints to transition into a Spring wardrobe, but I'm loving these muted tones together. Who knew that neutrals could speak so loudly? I'm attributing it to the details of the lace and the pleated peplum. They just go together. 
Blouse: Anthropologie {exact 50% off
Pants: Nordstorm {exact}
Necklace: Banana Republic 
Fedora: Modcloth {exact under $10}
Flats: Lucky Brand {exact} 

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

ABC's of Travel

Wanderlust Wednesday-Week 5 
I have a long list of topics to share for Wanderlust Wednesday this year. When I was scanning through my list for this week's pick, I realized that my travel experiences are pretty diverse. I think most people gravitate towards certain types of travel, but I love them all. I enjoy staying in a luxury resorts (who doesn't love that right?) just as much as I like sleeping outdoors. I think there is equal value in exploring big cities and unheard of small towns. From A to Z, there is no aspect of travel that I don't enjoy…which gave me the idea to share my ABC's of Travel.
Of course a quick google search revealed that I'm not the first to think of this idea and I found this fun prompt...

Age of your first international trip? 
14 years old. When I was a freshman in high school, I was accepted into People to People; a student ambassador program created by President Einsenhower to encourage cultural exchange. I was the youngest one in the group and I didn't know anyone else on the trip so it was terrifying, but I loved every minute of it. 

Best Foreign Beer You've Ever Had 
El Presidente in the Dominican Republic! I'm being totally ironic here, I mostly just liked seeing all of the El Presidente beer bottle Christmas trees throughout the city since we were there over Christmas.  

Cuisine (favorite)
My tastebuds have changed drastically over the years. The first time I went to Italy, I lost almost 10 pounds because I didn't like the food. What weirdo doesn't like authentic Italian food? Now, I have trouble thinking of any foods I don't like. My favorite cuisines are definitely Indian {the hotter the better}, Thai, and Mexican. 

Destination-favorite, least favorite, and why?
This one is NOT fair. As far as favorite destination, any place that I'm fortunate enough to experience is a favorite because I cherish travel wholeheartedly. And for that exact reason, I don't have a least favorite. There are certainly places that I wouldn't visit again, but I don't regret the experience.   

Event you've experienced abroad that made you say "wow"
There have been so many "wow" moments. But I'm all about unique experiences. Touring a salt mine in the mountains of Austria is at the top of my unique list. Accessing the mines required taking a funicular, which was an experience within itself. But once inside the Salzweltan mines, there is an underground train ride through the open air. I remember how exhilarating it was to be flying through the pitch black tunnels with the salty air against my checks.

Favorite mode of transportation
Teleporting. While I've never actually teleported, I just know that I would love it! The act of traveling itself is awful. Being sardined onto a plane, bus, or train is no fun. My favorite mode of transportation I've actually used would be by boat. I'm fortunate enough that I don't get sea sick, so water taxis and ferry rides are my fav. When getting from Point A to Point B involves gorgeous views along the water, what's not to love?  

Greatest feeling while traveling 
Knowing that the experiences I'm having will forever change my outlook on life.

Hottest place you've ever travelled to
Charleston in July. Nothing is worse than the heat in the South. Not only was it the hottest place, it was also the most humid. 

Incredible service you've experienced and where?
Boarding house in the Switzerland. It felt like I was staying with family. 

Journey that took the longest
On on way home from a trip aboard, a bomb threat shut down the airport. And no one was allowed to leave. I was stranded at the Heathrow Airport for 3 days! The end of my 3 day foray at the airport, meant a 15 hour plane ride home. So it took 4 days (with no shower or clean clothes) to get from London to the States. This was a long journey in the worst kind of way.

Keepsake from your travels
Well I have tons of these! I love keeping tickets from shows or brochures from musuems. My favorite souvenir to buy would be Christmas ornaments. I can combine two of my great loves…Christmas and Travel. At the end of every year, I have a tree filled with keepsakes. 

Let-down sight, where and why?
Leaning Tower of Pisa. I'm sure this was considered a skyscraper in Galileo's day, but I was unimpressed. The only thing that makes it famous is it's poor construction…hence the leaning. 

Moment where you fell in love with travel
Every single adventure has moments where my love of travel is renewed. But if I had to pinpoint a moment when I fell in love with travel, this would be it...
You may not know this about me, but I played the viola competitively for nearly 12 years. During an orchestral tour through Italy, my favorite thing to do was to play in the streets. We would form little trios or quartets and play our hearts out, composing songs as we played. I remember one night in particular, playing along the cobblestoned streets of Venice while the sun set set in hues of blue, purple, and pink. At some point, we attracted an audience that cheered us on and tossed us coins. I never wanted it to end, but when it did, we collected our Euros and spent every single one at a gelato shop, eating all the flavors. This is such a vivid memory for me and it's one that launched my love of travel. 

Nicest hotel you've stayed in
I am definitely a budget traveler, so I feel guilty any time I stay in a really nice hotel because nice = expensive. One of the nicest hotels I've stayed at in terms of ambiance AND experience was the Tower Hotel in Niagara Falls. We had a direct view of Niagara Falls and I remember waking up every morning to watch the sun rise over the waterfalls.

Obsession-what are you obsessed with taking photos of while traveling?
Everything! Famous monuments, beautiful landscapes, cute dessert plates. I can easily take a few hundred shots in one day. 

Passport stamps-how many do you have?
Not nearly enough! 

Quirkiest attraction you've visited and where?
Graffiti Alley

Really frightening: where's one place you've visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?
You're not going to believe my answer, but it was a visit to the Vatican. My friend and I got lost and were wondering around for hours. This was before the age of smart phones so we were relying on a paper map, written in Italian. 
Finally, we found a police officer who spoke English. I remember being so grateful that we found an officer to help us, until he started (ahem) soliciting us for favors. You guys, I was 14! I didn't even know how to react, I was just frozen with shock. To this day, I cannot believe some of the things he said to us. Total sleaze bag. This happened in the middle of day with an official from the supposed "holy city". Just goes to show that when you're traveling abroad, never make assumptions about whether or not a place is safe. 

Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling.
We keep the strictest budget when traveling, but one thing I don't mind splurging on is unique experiences. I don't spend much time in the hotel room and I won't remember what I ate for dinner, BUT I will remember a unique experience. Some of my favorite splurges from the past year…sky walking one of the tallest buildings in the world, air ballooning in Napa, and a private helicopter ride over Niagara Falls.  

Touristy thing you've done?
I always look for non-toursity adventures, but some tourist attractions merit the hype. 
Some of my favorites include
climbing the stairs of the Eiffel Tower 
gondola rides through Venice
eating chocolate in the Swiss Alps 
touring the Roman Coliseum 

Unforgettable travel memory
All of them! 

Visas-how many and for where? 

Wine-best glass while traveling
The best glass(es) of wine I've had while traveling involved a sparkling wine tour in Napa. 

X eXcellent view and from where?
This is the hardest because I've had some incredible views. If I have to pick one, I would say it was hiking the Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. It required a dangerous 18 mile hike. Knowing that I had earned the view, made it that much more incredible. 

Years spent traveling:
my whole Life! 

Zealous sports fans and where?
Tour de France. I am the opposite of a sports fan, but while I was traveling though France, I got to see various stages of the Tour de France. This was well before all of the doping scandals, so it was pretty impressive.

For more tips on planning and paying for travel, follow along with Making Restorations for Wanderlust Wednesday

linking up with thinkingoutloud//stuffthingsetc.//

Monday, March 21, 2016

weekend things

I haven't been blogging a whole lot as of late, mostly because I've been a little overwhelmed. I'm feeling stressed with having to make more than a few life changing decisions. But this weekend was a nice change of pace, with a chance to relax.
 Here are a few weekend things.  
apartment cleaned + laundry done = a miracle! 
Grocery shopping included buying a new tulip plant. Hopefully, it blooms fully in time for Easter. 
Popped into Anthropologie because I've been stalking this gorgeous lace blouse since December and it finally went on sale. It was half off, marked down from $118 to $60. Still a little pricey for me, but I had already resolved to buy it when this pleasant surprise showed up in my inbox...
I dropped everything and sprinted over to Anthro to scoop up the blouse for a mere $39! And I'm not even kidding about the sprinting part because Anthro is totally within walking distance...perks of living in the city. Since I'm pretty materialistic, this totally made my weekend.
 Heck, it made my month!  
Also, picked up this jade green planter at Anthro because our window sill garden was out of control. With Sunday being the first day of spring, we used it as an opportunity to tame the overgrown jungle and replant all the succulents, cacti, and flowers. 
the rest of the weekend was spent eating all the bad things like gourmet pizza followed by ice cream
and New England style Mac n Cheese…with lobster on top
hope you all enjoyed the weekend things 
Follow along for more from Making Restorations 

linking up with blovedboston//hellomonday// 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

window sill garden

happy first day of spring! 
We're expecting snow tonight, but it's supposedly spring so today we worked on our window sill garden. We spent 3 hours making a huge mess, the pup broke a clay pot, and I managed to get a cactus spine stuck in my arm {tweezers to the rescue} BUT it was worth it to see the finished product. If it's going to be cold and snowy outside, then we will have to recreate spring inside.  
Just because we live in an apartment doesn't mean that we can't have a garden. First up was replanting our amaryllis and tulip bulbs. The amaryllis are done blooming for the year, but I'm hoping the tulips bloom just in time for our Easter table. 
 target dollar spot galvanized bucket + chalkboard label = 
Instant Adorable Planter! 
We finished planting the succulents from our wedding. I'm still completely amazed that planting this succulent petal will turn into…
these gorgeous beauties
a panoramic of our window sill garden…it's officially filled with planters, which is the perfect way to usher in spring
Follow Along for more from Making Restorations 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Wanderlust Wednesday-Week 4
Yes, I'm aware that today is Thursday. But I had no idea this didn't go up on Wednesday until I just logged in to respond to comments. Apparently, I scheduled this for the wrong date. I will get my act together before next Wednesday. In the meantime, I want to talk about how to cancel a trip because this is something we just had to deal with. Canceling a vacation isn't exactly something we like to think about when we're getting excited about making travel plans. But it's a reality of traveling, and its something that should be considered while planning a vacation. 
We had planned on a skiing trip to New York in Lake Placid and the Adirondack's, but the weather is not cooperating. Normally, winter last through April in New England. Just our luck, the one year we plan a vacation around winter, Spring comes early. Thankfully, we planned ahead and didn't loose money when we had to cancel. So here are with a few things to consider before you make your next travel plans…just in case you have to cancel. 

1.) Cancel before you Plan
Honestly the best way to cancel a trip is to do it before you book. Once we reach the point in travel planning where we are actually booking and paying for our trip, I start a mental tally in my head. If something happened and we had to cancel, would we loose any money? And if so, how much?

2.) Read the Fine Print
Most people probably don't consider the cancellation policy until it's too late. It's a pain in the butt, yet I always read the fine print. To me the details of a company's cancellation policy are just as important as considering cost or location. Depending on when you cancel, it's rare that you will get all of your money back, but there are plenty of airlines, hotels, etc. that will offer you most of your money back. And those are the ones to book with in the first place. 

3.) Think Twice about booking Non-Refundable
There is nothing wrong with booking non-refundable travel options, but there is definitely a big risk involved. Make sure your prepared to take it. Some trips that we plan are absolutely set in stone. Just short of a family emergency, there is no way we would cancel. In those cases, I will happily book non-refundable flights or hotels to save money. Other times, we plan a vacation with the hope that we can do it. That's when we book refundable all the way.   

4.) Travel Insurance?
For us, whether or not we use travel insurance and the type of insurance we get varies. Many of the travel credit cards we use actually offer a form of reimbursement insurance. Even still, we tend to seek out additional coverage for certain types of trips. I'll save the details of when to consider coverage for another time, but suffice to say…you don't want to end up canceling an expensive trip, only to wish that you had the insurance to cover your loses.  

For more tips on planning and paying for travel, follow along with Making Restorations for Wanderlust Wednesday

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

3 things I never unpack!

Wanderlust Wednesday-Week 3
When I come home from a trip, the last thing I want to do is unpack. Unpacking means that reality has set in and the vacation is really over. But, also it's a lot of freaking work…putting away the clothes you didn't wear plus laundering the ones you did. And somehow, unwanted things always seem to follow me home…like muddy hiking boots or a suitcase full of sand. With all this, my suitcase may sit around for a week or two before I can bring myself to fully unpack. But it's made a bit simpler by the fact that there are a few things I know I never have to unpack. 
1. A Momento 
Momentos are one of my favorite things to leave in my suitcase. I always leave something simple, like ticket stubs from a show or a museum brochure. When I  open up my suitcase to pack for my next trip, I discover that momento all over again. It gives me a chance to reminisce about the last adventure I had and gets me that much more excited about my upcoming trip. 

2. Blank Thank You Cards
I always have these along with me. Why? Because people deserve to be appreciated. And I find that this is the simplest way to make an extra effort. I always have a pack of thank you cards sitting right in my suitcase. Whatever my accommodations are, I leave a thank you card behind. It's especially nice when staying with airbnb, boutique hotels, or bed and breakfasts where you may personally get to know the owners. Or perhaps I end up interacting with someone in a way I didn't expect and I want to show how thankful I am. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but a heart-felt and hand-written note can do wonders to improve someone's day. And if they made your travel experience better, why not?  

3. Document Doubles 
I probably should have put this at the top of the list because it's so essential, but I always have doubles of important documents. If something gets lost or stolen during travel {this has happened to me}, I am so thankful to be a prepared traveler. I keep doubles of my medical insurance card in case of emergencies. Also, a copy of my car insurance, which protects me when driving rentals. I have a second driver's license tucked into my carryon, which saved my butt more than once. Plus, I would never travel internationally without a copy of my passport. Oh and since my pup is a regular travel companion, there's normally a set of his vaccination records mixed in there too. 

For more tips on planning and paying for travel, follow along with Making Restorations for Wanderlust Wednesday

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Travel Credit Cards: Getting Started

Wanderlust Wednesday: Week 2 
These days, my husband and I only go on two types of trips…the type of trips that are mostly free and the type of trips that are completely free! And travel credit cards are a big part of how we do it. In fact, they are the ONLY reason we can afford to travel right now. I won't drone on and on about how travel credit cards work or about being fiscally responsible with them because I've already done that here. For today, I want to share our recommendations for the best travel credit cards to use when you're just getting started. 
travel credit cards: getting started
Using travel credit cards can be overwhelming, especially if you've never had a credit card before. Ahem, me a couple of years ago. Your best bet is to go directly to the source. Because transportation is almost always the biggest cost associated with travel, airline credit cards are a great place to begin. But then the question becomes, which one should you chose?
Pretty much every airline has it's own credit card. People make plenty of claims about which is best, but in reality, they are all very similar. Which card is best for you has a lot to do with personal preference. But I recommend signing-up for a credit card with the airline that you like most because you will be entering a long-term committed relationship with them. So don't start dating American Airlines, if you're just going to cheat on them with Delta next week. If you're unsure about which card to chose, here are a few recommendations for credit cards we've used and loved in the past. 
If you're feeling nervous about getting a travel credit card, this is the BEST card to start with because there is no spending minimum. Most travel credit cards require you to spend $1000 or $2000 or more to get access to the rewards points. Not Alaskan Airlines. Currently, they will hand you 25k in points the moment you sign up! Depending on where you're going, that's enough for a few FREE flights. Check out even more benefits here

People rave about the Southwest Airlines credit card and with good reason. Their biggest claim to fame is their companion fare. After hitting the threshold, your companion can fly with you for free! This is great for married couples like us. I only have one real problem with Southwest. Like most travel credit cards, they waive the annual fee during the first year, after which you will be charged $69-$99 (ouch!) a year to continue using the card. To offset the cost, Southwest offers members a 6k point bonus to stick around and many people do. Don't be fooled by this. You're actually much better off ditching the card completely and signing up again later or with a different airline entirely to receive the sign-up bonus {more details on sign-up bonuses}. Don't allow the lure of a few points (6k) overshadow the possibility of several (50k). If you can't tell, I've made it my mission to squeeze as many points as possible out of every travel credit card. 
This has been a personal favorite of ours in the past. JetBlue is actually in transition from American Express to MasterCard. And the new card being offered seems pretty darn good. Like Southwest, they will be offering a companion program. Plus, you will get 4 bonus points per every $1 spent booking flights {that's amazing} and they are offering a 10% rebate redemption. Cards offering redemptions are the best! After you use your rewards to book a flight, you automatically get 10% of the points back to help you with your next flight. Another favorite are the bonus badges with extra points earned simply from frequent flying. Basically, we can't say enough good things about this card. 
niagara falls
We don't use these types of credit cards as much anymore (we've graduated), but we have had these in the past. They were some of our first travel credit cards and a great start with travel hacking.  If you are considering using travel credit cards for the first time, please check out my travel credit cards: do's and don'ts. In the meantime, keep up with wanderlust wednesday for more on tips for travel. As always, feel free to comment below or email me {makingrestorations@gmail.com} if you have any questions about travel budgeting. 

linking up with financefriday//traveltuesday//thinkingoutloud