Friday, January 30, 2015

High Five For Friday

Friday, thank goodness you are here!  What is it about this time of year?!  We are just all so over winter and ready for the next thing, but we know it's nowhere in sight, so all we have to look forward to is the arrival of the weekend!  Though it looks like this one will be bringing us snow and colder temps!

Here's a few things that went down this week.

1.  I got seriously hooked on Friday Night Lights right around Thanksgiving time, and I have been going strong ever since.  LOVE this show, I know I'm a little behind the bandwagon, I kept thinking there's no way I"m going to like a show about high school football, but I so did.  I watched the last episode on Monday, and though I was sad it was the last one, I was happy with how it all came together at the end. #TexasForever #ClearEyesFullHeartsCantLose

Image Via

2.  My blogging pal Leslie from Martin Manifesto shared a great announcement this week, that their family is expanding, and I couldn't be more excited for her!  Congrats Girl!



3.  I was sitting in a work meeting this week (shhh) and started to seriously contemplate a hair change.  I haven't done anything to my hair in what feels like forever, and I'm just feeling kinda bored with it.  This is kinda what I was thinking, thoughts?

Left Image Via | Right Image Via


4.  I can't get enough fruit lately, and thankfully my husband knows this.  He's been leaving my these HUGE fruit bowls for when I get home from work and I have been devouring the entire thing!



5.  I have to admit that most likely, I will not be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday.  Crazy?  I'm just not that into it!  Don't worry, I know I'm the odd ball!

Happy Weekend!

Linking up with
High Five for FridayOh hey, Friday
Meet @ The Barre | Five on Friday

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Score Great Deals Online

. . .AKA how to buy all those great things you want need at a great price.  It's no secret around here that I like nice things, and I most definitely like to shop, but I don't like to spend more than I have to.  In fact I love finding a good deal, and for me it's that much more rewarding feeling like I scored my awesome new bag or those great shoes for a price nobody would be able to even guess.

 
I love scouring stores for great deals, especially my go to favorites like TJ Maxx and Marshalls.  But today is all about how to score great deals online.  There are so many great things available at your finger tips when you're shopping online, and with these few tips you can be sure to always be snagging great deals.

Before I dive into it, a few general rules I like to live by as a self proclaimed competitive shopper. (It sounds better then bargain hunter, right?  It's like a win when I score a great deal!)  Just because something is on sale doesn't mean it's a great deal, or that you even need it.  Make sure you are going to get good use out of what you invest your money in.  Something may be a great deal, even though it's not on sale, it's all relative to your need and use you'll get out of it.  Ok let's jump in.


Don't buy anything online without checking out RetailMeNot.com.  All you have to do is type in the store you are shopping at and it will pull up all available coupon codes, including how recently someone has tried to use it and if the code is working or not.  You can often score free shipping and discounts on your purchases for a lot of popular retailers.  RetailMeNot also has an app, check it out for use when you are shopping on the go!

2.  Sign up for flash deal sites.
There are so many to choose from now, but the premise is that there is limited merchandise available for a limited time at a discount price.  You get notification of the new sales starting each day, and it costs nothing but an email address to join.  I find these sites are a great way to get higher end pieces at lower prices for clothing, beauty items, home goods, jewelery, pretty much you name it.  Here's a few of my favorite.

Ideel.com (formerly Ideeli.com)


I have purchased the most from this site.  I've been able to score great deals on evening dresses, like $60-$70 for a floor length gown.  Plus they are usually running a promotion that once you pay for shipping, which is kinda steep the first time (close to $10) you have free shipping for the next 30 days, which is totally worth it.



HauteLook is a a Nordstrom company, which speaks for the brands and quality of the products available.  A few extra pluses, they offer free shipping over $100, and you can make returns to any Nordstrom Rack which is super convenient.



Zulily is great if you're shopping for a family, they have deal for women, men, kids, and home at one of the most affordable price points of any of the flash sale sites I've seen.

Here are a few others to check out if you please, RueLaLa, Gilt, Joss & Main, and Beyond The Rack.
*Many of these links are my own personal referral links and for some I will earn a credit if you make a purchase after signing up.



If you are an American Express card holder there may be a great benefit you are missing out on, Shop Runner.  You most likely have a FREE membership to it, there is a get started tab for American Express cardholders on the top of the Shop Runner site.  (If you aren't a cardholder Shop Runner offers a 30 day trial, and then is $8.95/month).  Shop Runner provides unlimited 2 day shipping, free returns, and exclusive deals for many popular online retailers.



This site is 100% worth checking out.  Brads Deals scours the internet for deals on everything.  I've signed up to get e-mails alerting me to the best deals of the day, I'll scan through it to see if there is anything I'm on the hunt for available for a good deal and that's about it.  Using this method I was able to score my Amazon Prime membership for $72 just the other day, usually it cost $99.  They will turn up great deals on seriously everything, from Ugg boots to pots and pans.

Any other pieces of advice for scoring great deals online?  I would love to hear them, so please share!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Valentine's Gift Ideas for Her

Welcome to the last week of January!  You know what that means, Valentine's Day is right around the corner!  I'm excited that it's actually on Saturday this year, meaning I get to spend part of it with my husband.  Usually we end up celebrating the weekend after or something to the effect because we don't even see each other on the average week day.  We don't do anything big, but we do exchange cards and a little gift.

Today I've rounded up a few items that would make a great Valentine's gift for her, aka my Valentine's Wish list, hint hint.

Clutch  |  Heat Ring  |  Heart Earrings  |  Roman Numeral Necklace  |  Gold Bangle

Clearly I have my heart drawn to more delicate pieces at the moment, like the heart ring and earrings.  I'm loving that lilac pink color of the clutch that I've seen popping up recently in the stores, it's totally making me itch for spring.  I think the idea of having something like your wedding date would be awesome on the roman numeral necklace.  And we already know I love my Kate Spade idiom bracelets that I already have, so of course I'd love the gold one too!

What's on your radar this Valentine's Day?

Friday, January 23, 2015

High Five For Friday

This week has felt like a long one, and I'm glad the weekend is right around the corner.  There's something about being in the dead of winter and feeling more low key on the weekends, which I'm totally down with lately.  I'm enjoying not having much on the agenda and taking it easy, because I know it won't be like that for long! 

Here's a few happenings from my week.

1.  I succeeded with my mission from last Friday's post and I 100% spent all of Sunday in my pj's indulging in way too much tv and several naps.

2.  Speaking of way too much tv, Martin and I have been binge watching all the seasons of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix over the last few months and we finally finished it up on Monday night, I have to say I don't know how I feel about the ending.

3.  I discovered recently that the hook I place my bathrobe on when I'm showering is right above a heating vent, so now everyday before I hop in the shower I crank up the heat a few degrees and my robe is nice and toasty when I get out.  It's perfect, especially for me, because I am always cold.

4.  I get so excited when I get one of these in the mail, it might be kinda sad, I know.  But seriously 20% off nearly everything in the store, even the brands that are usually excluded.  I always have to think about all the great things I want to try when one of these pops up, they don't come all that often!



5.  This week Aimlessly Elegant turned 1, and even though I shared that on Tuesday, I feel like it deserves a second shout out, because honestly starting this blog was a long time in the making (I first had the intentions nearly 4 years ago) and I'm proud that I've finally dove in and am still going!


 Whatever you find on your plate this weekend, I hope it's a good one!  See you next week!

Linking up with
High Five for FridayOh hey, Friday
Meet @ The Barre | Five on Friday

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Everyday Elegance: Chambray Basics

Lately I'm all about the basics.  I love building a closet of staple items that can pair together to make a classic look at anytime.  It makes it easy when your feeling indecisive about what to wear, pretty much me all the time!




I think investing in basics in a great idea, because ideally they should be with you a long time.  For me this is the time to spend a little more then I would on trendy pieces that I may just want to give a try, but am not sure I am going to love.

You can never beat an investment in a good handbag.  I love my Kate Spade, but we all know I'm a major bargain hunter.  My tick is timing.  I always pick up my large Kate Spade bags, which I love to use for work, when I can get them for around $100, which I consider a steal since usually they go for $300 - $400.  I wait until it's some sort of holiday weekend, or special promotion, and then the outlet store almost always has 50% off, plus an extra 20% off on handbags.
Shirt| Old Navy
Boots| Target
Earrings| Kate Spade
Bracelet| Ross
Purse| Kate Spade

Below is a few great options for adding Chambray to your wardrobe, I'm loving the ones from Loft.  Good thing I have a gift card left over from Christmas!

Do you tend to stick to the basics, or do you gravitate more towards the trends?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy 1st Blogiversary

I did it!  Today marks one year since I wrote my first post on Aimlessly Elegant.  I always say this, but it really is crazy how time does fly.


Initially I started this blog to help me devote more time to my home projects and crafts, things I love to do but hardly make enough time for.  It helped me get the ball rolling for our office and bathroom renovation, but it's also turned into more than that.  A place where I can share what's going on now, things I like, recipes I'm into, but most importantly I've gotten to meet a ton of cool readers in the process!  So thank you, thank you for continuing to stop by and leave comments.  They make my day more than you know!

In honor of Aimlessly Elegant turning one today I thought I would share my top 5 viewed posts, a little trip down memory lane.

1.  My Friday Five from May 2, 2014.













Thank you again for stopping by.  I hope you continue to follow along on this little journey of mine, where ever it takes me!

Friday, January 16, 2015

High Five For Friday

So glad that Friday is here!  I have definitely jumped full forced ahead into 2015, and am desperately missing my pj's and naps from my time off over the holidays.  Both of which I plan on enjoying this weekend!

Here is a look back at a few highlights from my week.

1.  Martin left one of his jackets over our dining room chair and I almost didn't spot Charlie sleeping on it.  He has been there nearly all week.  Whenever I don't see him around, I just check out that chair, and there he is, camouflaged right in.



2.  Though I'm so pretty much over the cold already, I'm a firm believer that if it's going to be cold out, it at least better be white.  It's much more pretty then cold and brown.  This was my view out of my office window while I was blogging one morning this week, it was just kinda perfect.



3.  I have been craving pastels lately, so this week I went with this light candy pink for my nails.  I love my Red Carpet Manicure, and am so glad I've learned how to do a nice gel manicure on myself, such a $$ saver.



4.  Another thing I'm loving lately, that also happens to fall into the pastels category is my new Kate Spade bracelet that I got for Christmas.  I love that is has a secret message on the inside, something that you can carry with you.



5.  Martin and I are going out on a double date Saturday night to a hibachi restaurant.  Not only are hibachi restaurants always super fun, I'm looking forward to it because we haven't been out with these friends in a while and it's always nice to get together.

Whatever your weekend brings I hope it includes some rest and relaxation, preferably in the form of really comfy pj's and naps, at least in my case!  Happy weekend!

Linking up with
High Five for FridayOh hey, Friday
Meet @ The Barre | Five on Friday

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kitchen Staples

 
Back in November when I did the PCOS Diva Jumpstart program, not only did it help jumpstart my health into a place where I felt in control, but it also helped to jumpstart a long time goal of mine.  Cook more.  My main excuse is usually my schedule, I'm so busy during the week that if I don't plan ahead, I rarely get any cooking done once the work week is in full force.

Once of the things I loved about the Jumpstart program was it has made me be a better meal planner.  And since I've started planning out meals I've been eating a lot more home cooking, which I really enjoy.  I'm not a hard core meal planner.  Usually I'll pick out about 3 to 4 main entrees to prepare each week which will leave us with enough leftovers to fill in for the other days, as well as most lunches too.  I always make sure to stock my fridge and pantry with breakfast and lunch staples so I never have that "there is nothing to eat" feeling.

I have purchased a few meal plans from the PCOS Diva website, which I think are awesome.  But one of my other favorite go to's for recipes is The Detoxinista.  What I love about both of these websites is that they meet my nutritional needs, and they focus on eating natural whole foods, avoiding processed foods.  They are all mostly free of gluten, refined sugars, and most dairy, all things which I try to avoid.  Yet my husband on the other hand can eat all of those things, but has enjoyed all the recipes I've made from these places, which helps because then I can get a hand in the kitchen!

As I've started to cook more and more I've found a handful of staple items that I have been grateful that I have in my kitchen, and they are used on repeat.  Sometimes it can be hard with all the fascinating gadgets out there to know which ones you're really going to use, and which ones are just going to take up valuable cabinet space.  And if you remember from my Kitchen tour my cabinet space is quite valuable, because I don't have much of it!


My citrus squeezer and garlic press are used pretty much every recipe.  It makes being able to flavor things with fresh lemon or lime juice so incredibly easy, and knowing that you squeezed it fresh is so much better then pouring it out of a bottle.  Garlic is another great way to add flavor to a meal and with the garlic press it makes prepare those pesky little cloves that much easier and faster, a quick squeeze and your garlic is minced ready to throw in.


Measuring Spoons seem obvious, but what I've learned with them is that having multiple sets on hand is necessary.  When you're cooking all these great whole foods you are using tons of seasoning and spices, hence the need for lots of measuring spoons.  One set is pretty much always dirty.


Since I've been cooking so much lately I've found that keeping a bottle of olive oil with a pourer in it next to the stove is super convenient.  Nearly every recipe starts with a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the pan.  If your close to a Trader Joe's I scooped up my bottle with the pourer already attached to it there and I love it.
 
Rounding out my go to kitchen items are my small colander and my measuring glass.  Since many of the recipes I cook call for beans of some sort I am always using my small colander, and the size of this one is perfect.  It doesn't take up a ton of space, but gets the job done and I can easily rinse multiple cans of beans in it at time.  And my measuring glass, I love this one because it has every measurement you could ever need on it, no guessing necessary!

What items are on repeat in your kitchen?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Healthy Winter Skin

After last week it's safe to say we are officially taking on winter, full force ahead.  Anything above 0 is now considered a heat wave, and it's just normal to be parading around with an extra layer on at all times.

With this brutal cold of the Midwest comes the onset of extreme dry weather.  Up until last year I've always struggled with how to care for my extremely dry skin, especially during this extra cold months.  It seemed that no matter what I tried I always ended up with those little white dry flakes on my forehead and cheeks.

Last winter I feel like I finally discovered the best formula to beat those pesky dry flakes, and they have been gone since!

 
Ultrasonic Humidifier | Water Bottle| Lush Ocean Salt |
Andalou Naturals Toner | Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster | Andalou Naturals Renewal Cream

The first step in keeping a healthy winter glow is hydration.  It makes all the difference in the world.  I keep a humidifier running in my bedroom as much as I can, aka as long as I remember to fill it it's running.  Besides the humidifier, be sure to drink plenty of water.  That is usually a challenge for me as it is, but even more so this time of year when it's cold out.  I've learned the more water bottles I keep around, the better.  And this time of year I keep them stocked with room temperature water so it's not such a shock to the system.  Drink, drink, drink, whenever you can.  I can tell just by looking in the mirror if I haven't had enough water for a few days, my skin starts to look dull and tired.

The second thing, I recommend using something to exfoliate about 2 times a week.  I love Lush's Ocean Salt, the salt is coarse enough to wash away the dead skin, but it's not drying at all due to the avocado and coconut that are in it.

The last step is all about the daily moisturizing routine.  This is the combination that is currently working the best for me.  I start with spraying my face with a moisturizing toner.  I like to stick away from anything that is alcohol based, since those are super drying to the skin.  I love this one I'm currently using by Andalou Naturals because it contains aloe vera, a super fruit complex, and vitamin C.  Then I follow up with using a little of Dermalogica's Skin Hydrating Booster on my typical dry spots, the middle of my forehead, around my nose, and my chin.  And finally I finish up with a good moisturizer, like Andalou Naturals Renewal Cream.  I like that it's a thicker cream, but it soaks right it without leaving any sort of heavy or greasy feel leaving a perfect canvas to apply my makeup to.

What are your tricks to healthy skin this time of year?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Five | December Favorites

This has most definitely been an interesting first week back into reality.  Here in Chicagoland we've had subzero temperatures most of the week, putting it in the negative double digits with the windchill factored in.  Plus, we received our first decent snow fall of the winter season.  I'm so looking forward to next week when it's forecast to warm up, we're going to be in the 20's!  It's going to feel like a heat wave!

Since this week got the best of me, today's post is a little combination of my Friday Five and my December Favorites.  Here's a look at some of the things I was loving in December.


I've only spotted this once at Trader Joe's, and I'm so regretting not picking up more than one.  The consistency is a little jelly like almost, but it's so moisturizing and nourishing with the greatest scent.  Don't get me wrong, I love the coconut version.  But this has just a slightly sweet scent, not too over powering.  Apparently you can buy it on Amazon for about 3 times what it costs in the store, so if you spot this gem swipe it up because who knows when you'll see it again!

I have mentioned these candles several times already, but I seriously couldn't get enough the whole month.  Every time I was home I had these candles burning, and everyone that's been over, or that I've gifted one to has absolutely loved it too.  It makes up for not having a fresh Christmas tree, and the best part is, usually you don't notice the smell of the fresh tree after awhile, but every time you burn one of these you get to enjoy the scent of a fresh tree.

I added Eucalyptus oil to my collection this month and couldn't be more happier that I did.  This oil smells just like Vick's vapor rub, and it helps with congestion which always sets on for me in these colder months.  Sometimes just breathing it in out of the bottle does the trick, other times I will just leave it diffusing and it helps clear me up.

I've been wanting to try anything Caudalie after hearing great things about it.  I ended up with two of these Lip Conditioner's after Christmas and love them.  I keep one upstairs and one downstairs and I'm applying them all the time.  They are really silky soft, almost buttering, and super nourishing on the lips.  I got a few other Caudalie products with them that I'm excited to give a try.

 With the colder weather comes the drier weather, and when that happens my eczema tends to kick up with some pretty good dry patches.  I love this stuff because not only is it all natural, it's super thick and moisturizing.  It's based with bees wax so it has some serious staying power and helps transform my try scaly patches back into normal looking skin.  If you want to give the Honest Company a try you can sign up here for a free starter kit, the Home Essentials includes a sample of the Healing Balm, and truly I've loved every product I've tried from them.

What have you been loving recently?  I hope everybody has a great weekend, and is warmer than me!

Linking up with
High Five for FridayOh hey, Friday
Meet @ The Barre | Five on Friday
Make me up Mia

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fab Fit Fun VIP Winter Box

I had a nice little treat that arrived a few days before Christmas, my Winter FabFitFun VIP Box.  I love my subscription box, and lets be honest, even though it was technically a little gift to myself, it was fun to get to dive into some gifts a few days before all the festivities began.

I love my FabFitFun VIP Box because it's full of great new to me products usually worth over $200 (this edition was worth over $300!) for $49.99.  But if it's your first time ordering the box there is usually a coupon out there.  *Use code NEW5 to get $5 off your first box.

FabFitFun has no idea who I am, I just love the treat of their boxes every season.  Another cool thing is you can order additional boxes at a discount, and they make fun cool gifts.  In fact I gifted the winter box to my sister for her birthday and it was a hit.

Check out what was in my FabFitFun VIP Winter Box.


I'm excited to give the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel, anything that claims to help with fine lines and wrinkles, plus it's organic.  Speaking of skin care I'm also looking forward to giving the Passport to Beauty Tibetan Goji Berry Intense Anti-Aging Eye Serum a go, I'm always looking for something to help combat my dreaded under eye area and I love getting to try out these more expensive potions for a fraction of the cost.

There were a few other beauty items in this edition, the yourMinerals Eye Shadow Duo and the Lather AHA Hand Creme.  I haven't cracked into the eye shadow yet, though I'm excited about the colors I got, but I have started using the hand cream.  Not only does it smell great, but it's nourishing without being greasy, and for a hand cream the container is huge so I can only imagine it will last me a pretty long time.

This box also included a Half United Fighting Hunger Necklace, the profits of this necklace help to feed children in need.  I like that not only do you get to try cool new things, but they also incorporate a way of helping others in the process.  As well there was a Zumba DVD and $25 Gift Card, which lets be honest is a much more fun way of getting that cardio in then hitting the treadmill, and it's perfect for these subzero days when it just feels too darn cold to make the trip to the gym.

The Daniel Stone COCO Candle smells great, I catch a sniff every time I walk by it, and I haven't burned it yet, but I can only imagine it will smell even better when I do.  Then there was a 3 month membership to Salted TV, which is like Netflix for cooking, which I am pretty psyched about.  I love spending time in the kitchen, and Martin and I loved the cooking class that we did years ago, so I'm looking to enhance my skills even further!

As if that wasn't enough great stuff already there was is also a $30 Fashion Project Gift Card, which who can pass up some 'free' shopping, certainly not me!  And a couple of food items, the Organic Valley Organic Balance Milk Protein Shake and Special K Snack Bar will be going to my husband, but I will enjoy the Justin's Classic Almond Butter.

This box seriously had a ton of stuff packed in it, as they always do!  Are you a FabFitFun VIP yet?

Monday, January 5, 2015

My 2015 Challenge

Hello!  I'm back.  I had no intention of being away for so long, and then winter break happened.  This has been the most relaxed 2 weeks I can remember in what has to be the longest time.  Going into the much needed time off I of course had all these grand plans.  House projects, crafts, master my camera. . .none of which happened, or did I even come remotely close to touching, and I am ok with that.  Clearly I needed a little down time, and that is what I did.

The first week flew by with Christmas and my family visiting.  I love hosting the holidays, making all the meals.  The traditional dishes paired with trying new things.  I love breaking out the fancy dishes and setting the table.  When it's just Martin and I we hardly ever eat in the dining room.  I always wish we did it more often.

And I will totally admit that the second week was mostly spent binge watching Netflix with my husband, cooking a handful of good hearty homemade meals, napping, and spending plenty of time in my pj's.  With a nice night out tucked in there for New Years Eve.

I am definitely looking forward to getting back into my routine, but I am thankful that I let myself relax and do nothing, because most of the time that is the hardest thing for me to do.  I always feel like I should be using my time better, or getting more stuff done, but frankly I think I used my time these last few weeks the best possible way.  I feel relaxed and refreshed and ready to take on this new year.

I've never been a resolutions person.  I like to start things when they come to mind, I'm pretty immediate - take action now kind of mentality.  But I do think the years kind of have themes.  My theme for 2015 is less.  In theory I want to be more organized, and with less stuff it's easier to be more organized.  So no keeping things that aren't used or needed.  If new things come in, then old things need to go out.  I challenge myself to purge as much and as often as possible.

Via
I always think it would feel more freeing to have less, and be more organized with the stuff that I do have.  Perhaps I will find out if that is true this year?  There is one other thing I challenge myself to keeping up with this year, and that is taking care of myself.  Doing the PCOS Diva Jumpstart challenge in November truly made me realize how much what I put in my body, and what I do on a day to day basis can impact my quality of life.  Which doesn't sound like any big revelation, but coming from someone who has always lived a fairly healthy lifestyle for the longest time, it truly is.  I can now feel when I haven't done enough cardio for the week, I start to feel overwhelmed and exhausted.  Or if I've eaten too much sugar or dairy how my body feels off and my anxiety heightens.  Knowing that I have to ability to control those things has been so powerful and I challenge myself to keep it up.

What is your challenge for the New Year?