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Girls Morning In

September 27, 2011

Going out to brunch on the weekends used to be one of my favorite things to do in DC, that was until my roommate and I threw a girls mimosa brunch this weekend at our apartment. Now, I am totally hooked on it and would rather stay IN for brunch than go out any day.

Brunch at home was so great for several reasons –

1) It is cheaper! Eating out for brunch can get expensive, especially if you decide to have a mimosa or bloody mary on the side.

2) No wait for a table! Brunch is popular, which means there is almost ALWAYS a wait to get a table.

3) You can stay as long as you want! There was no pressure for us to eat and leave quickly in order to satisfy all the waiting customers.

We decided to set up brunch in our sun room. Our sun room is not hooked up to the AC or heat, so it has been way to hot to sit out there until recently. And soon, I am afraid, it will be too cold. I want to make sure to use it as much as possible while we can! Normally we only have a small table, two chairs, all of our plants, and gardening tools out there, but we decided to move our dining room table out there and decorate to create a nice atmosphere!

Our menu included mimosas (obviously), mini pumpkin muffins, egg muffins, french toast, cinnamon rolls, and fruit salad. We asked our friends to bring the champagne for the mimosas and we provided the OJ and all the food. Eggs, bread, and baking ingredients are all fairly inexpensive, plus Jess and I already have lots of baking things on hand so it was a pretty cheap affair to host. Our main expenses were the fruit and the pumpkin for the muffins (expensive and hard to find due to the pumpkin shortage!!). I would say we each spent about $15 on food (so $30 total). Not to shabby for feeding 5 people. I have to admit we did go the extra mile and splurged on a table cloth, napkins, and flowers but all of these things created an ambiance and we are continuing to enjoy them so it was totally worth it.

We ate, drank mimosas, and gossiped for a full 4.5 hours and all in the comfort of our own home! I could not have asked for a better Saturday! And I would host another one of these in a heartbeat! Rumor on the street is one of my friends will be hosting one at their own apartment soon…did we start a new trend? I hope so!!

(Yes, we are wearing aprons – they’re my grandmother’s from the 50’s!)

What was the highlight of your weekend?

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Ready for Book Club

September 23, 2011

First off, HAPPY FRIDAY! This was the first full 5 day week that I have worked in over a month (due to vacations, weddings, power outages, etc) and it was looooooong. I am so happy it’s the weekend. I am sure you are too!

In other news, I just finished reading my September book club book and I cannot wait for the meeting next Wednesday – I am so ready to talk about it with other people who have read the book. This month, we read Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.

I loved this book. It is not a happy book but it is a book that is extremely hard to put down and in my opinion those are the best kind. It is very sad, very eye opening, and even very disturbing at times. Zeitoun is about a very dark time in our country; it tells the true story of one man and his family and what their lives become in the days and years leading up to and after Hurricane Katrina. It is a must read for everyone living in our country today. This book goes where the news and reporters failed to go.

Have you read Zeitoun? What did you think?

Have you read any other great books that you would recommend for a Book Club? (We are always taking suggestions!)

Wedding Weekend Highlights!

September 19, 2011

Going to weddings is super fun but exhausting! I have not caught up on sleep from this weekend and I have such a busy week ahead that it might take a while to feel fully rested again. Anyway, I promised you some pictures and I am following through on that promise!

First Red Sox game at Fenway

making s'mores at the rehearsal dinner

during the ceremony

Cocktail Hour

I love when weddings have photobooths

 

I hope you also had a great weekend!

This week brings a shift at the hat shop (tonight!), an event for the music school, a graduation information sessions at George Washington University, a dinner date with BF, my full time job, and early morning workouts (the roommate and I have already made a pact to get up early tomorrow!)…all before Friday. Better try to catch some zZzZzZzZzZz’s before the 6 am work out.

What was the highlight of your weekend?

It’s a short work week for me!

September 12, 2011

On Thursday I am off to Boston/ Cape Cod for a wedding so I am only working 3.5 days this week! I love weddings, I love Cape Cod, and I love long weekends…so needless to say, I am counting down the hours! Also, I just checked the weather and I am finally going to get a taste of the fall weather I have been desiring – better make note of this for packing on Wednesday.

Going to weddings is expensive – airfare, hotel, gifts, dress, showers, etc. They are a blast but they can sure add up. Luckily for me (and my financial state) not too many of my friends are getting married right now, the BF, on the other hand, was invited to FOUR weddings this month alone. I decided I could only comfortably afford to go to one of them with him. While he went to three of the four (two fell on the same weekend), we decided that I would only go with him to Julie and Danny’s since they live in DC and they are the couple I am the closest with. It doesn’t hurt that the BF’s family has a house in Cape Cod which we will be staying at for free this weekend! As far as weddings go, this will be on the less expensive end of the spectrum and I am grateful for that!

I have also decided to wear a dress that I already own instead of spending money on a dress I don’t really need (even though I realllly want an excuse to buy a new dress!!!). I did, however, buy a black pashmina (with my employee discount at the shop) to use as a wrap with the dress, since it will be cooler in Massachusetts than it is here.

I got this dress at Loehmann’s in Friendship Heights, a discount department store like Marshalls or T.J.Maxx, over a year ago to wear to a work event at the theater where I used to work.

That’s me and my old coworker, Chris, at the gala! Sorry, I could only find a black and white picture to share but I will be sure to take plenty of pictures at the wedding. I am not going to wear tights this time, just black pumps and the pashmina scarf to keep warm.

Not only am I going to a wedding this weekend, but I am also going to my very first Red Sox game at Fenway Park! Since the BF grew up right outside of Boston, he has been a fan his entire life and makes sure to go to a few games every season. We went to the Orioles game at Camden Yards earlier this year, but now I am going to get the complete Red Sox experience. Since there was a game on Thursday evening, we decided to go up a day early to catch the game with his family. I have been to one Nationals game since I moved to DC, but other than that my only baseball experiences include the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Asheville Tourists, and college games at UNC.

Asheville Tourists game in the summer of 2008

Ha! I found proof that I have been to some other baseball games in my life!

Anyways, I AM EXCITED to say the least! 2 days and counting…

Have you ever been to a game at Fenway? Is there anything I should know about before I go (traditions, chants, best vendors, etc)?

Now would be a good time to be in the umbrella industry!

September 8, 2011

Have you been on weather.com recently? Have they looked outside their windows recently? See how it says there is 0% chance of precipitation today? As I type this, it is pouring rain outside and it has been for the past 4 days straight (it sure doesn’t look like it is stopping anytime soon either!). I am sooooo tired of wearing rain boots and getting soaking wet whenever I need to go somewhere. When is it going to end!?!?! I forgot what sunshine is like….

Anyways, on to happier things like finding great deals when you are not even looking for them! Sometimes dollar bins and sales can get you in trouble by encouraging you to buy things you don’t need or don’t really want. But sometimes you accidentally come across awesome deals on things you need/ use all the time. This happened to me twice this week (well actually once to me and once to my roommate but I also benefit from her lucky find!).

See the red coupon holder on the right? That is our old organization system, see the much bigger, better coupon holder on the left? That is the one Jess found in the dollar bins at CVS this week! It is so necessary because as we were getting more serious about couponing, the old system just was not cutting it. We had so many coupons, we were basically cramming coupons into the case to get them all to fit. Now we have more divider sections, so we can have more specific categories and there is so much more space! Coupons will be so much easier to go through and find. I can’t wait to switch them all over and organize them in the new case! Nice find Jess!

These were my lucky find of the week! I ran into Safeway to pick up a bridal magazine for a friend who got engaged last weekend (!!!!), and as I on my way to the magazine section, I happen to pass by the 50% off rack and noticed tampons are half off!! SAY WHATTTTT??? This NEVER happens, tampons NEVER go on sale. I am not sure if the store was overstocked or what but these were perfectly good boxes and I had to grab a few since I know I will use them in the future. Looking back on it, maybe I should have picked up alllll the  half off boxes for a lifetime supply…….

Fingers crossed that it will stop raining soon (and that I will keep finding awesome, money saving deals)…

Have you come across any awesome deals that have saved you money in the past? Do you have any tricks to ensure you are always getting things that you need at a discounted price?

Labor Day weekend

September 5, 2011

Happy 3 day weekend everyone! I hope you are all busy doing fabulous things to celebrate the end of summer. I wanted to make sure this three day weekend was as much about productivity as about having fun and I think I have succeeded in that goal! There were lots of things I wanted to get done (laundry, grocery shopping, washing sheets and towels, working out, etc), things that I had to do (work a shift at the hat shop, catch up on some work for the school since classes start next week), and things that I wanted to do (watch some college football with friends at a bar, go to a happy hour with coworkers, go shopping in Old Town Alexandria with Allison, start reading my September book club book, etc.). At this point, I can say that I have completed all of these tasks and I am happy to know that I still have the rest of the day today to relax.

I don’t know about you all, but I get a little excited when I see my fridge and cabinets getting empty and I know it is time to go to the store and buy new groceries! It is like getting a start fresh. I realized I needed to restock earlier last week, but I was able to hold out until Saturday morning to make the trip. I like to go on the weekend because I tend to take a long time planning for a trip and at the store to make sure I am saving as much money as I can and making healthy choices.

I have to admit, I NEVER used coupons when grocery shopping until I saw Extreme Couponing on TLC last year. Have you seen that show? It is amazing how they can save sooooo much money and it definitely changed my outlook on grocery shopping. I have not become THAT extreme, but I do cut coupons and it has saved me so much money over the past few months! I can usually cave $10-$30 on any given shopping trip, which adds up! Sometimes my roommate and I buy the Sunday paper (we more than make up for $2 it costs with the money saved through the coupons) and sometimes my mom mails me the coupons from her Sunday paper!

Before going shopping I make a list of things I know I need:

Then I look through our coupon collection to see 1) If we have coupons for the things on my need list and 2) If we have coupons for any extra fun things I might want! We organize our coupons in 4 categories:

  • Food
  • Beauty (razors, shampoo, make up, etc.)
  • Household products (soaps, detergents, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.)
  • Specific restaurants

Then I go shopping! Not only do I take time to pay attention to the coupon restrictions, but also to the store’s specials. Here is what I got this time around:

Chocolate chip cookies mix, oats, canned corn, black beans, kidney beans, salsa, 6 pack sparkling water, cream cheese, frozen broccoli, frozen veggie burgers, Morning Star ground “beef,” shredded cheese, 2 blueberry favored greek yogurt, 4 pack peach yogurt, sour cream, a dozen eggs, bagel thins, sliced turkey, 4 bananas, bag of grapes, box of strawberries, 2 limes, 1 cucumber, quarter of a watermelon, chopped dates, and 1/2 gallon of skim milk (not all pictured)

Spent: $63.88

Saved: $14.33

Savings Value: 18%

I think my loot from this trip, combined with a few things left over from previous trips, will get me through the next two weeks until I leave for a wedding in Cape Cod!

How do you save money on trips to the grocery store? Do you have any couponing tips to share?

First day of the month

September 1, 2011

Guess what today is! The first day of a new month. There are a few things that I always look forward to on the first day of the month:

1) Flipping my calendars at work and spending a few minutes writing all of the things coming up that month (these are the calendars in my office, though I haven’t yet written anything down for this month!)

2) The release of Matchbook Magazine! This is my FAVORITE free online publication! Their tagline is “your field guide to a charmed life,” how could not want to make your life more charming in every way?

3) But most importantly, I get to put money on my SmarTrip card using my SmartBenefits!

SmartBenefits allows employers to provide money that is automatically available each month for employees to put on their metro cards. Basically, it is FREE money that can only be used on transportation. (I suppose I work 40 a week for it, so it isn’t technically freeeeee, but it is not a part of my salary so I view it as an extra perk!)

Commuting on the metro is expensive these days with the peak rush hour prices (and don’t even get me started on the peak of the peak prices!!!), which is why I always try to take the bus. With a SmarTrip card the bus is $1.50 any time of day, no matter how far you go. You also get a free transfer or ride if it is within two hours of your initial swipe. This cuts my commuting cost by half. If I took the metro to and from work every day, I would have to add more of my own money to my card. Since I have learned to take the bus to work almost everywhere I go, I have not had to add money from my pocket in OVER A YEAR! This includes anywhere I go after work or on the weekends too. I guess should take into account that I also live in a very central location, so I can walk many places that I am going; while I don’t spend money walking places, I do spend A LOT of money on the rent that allows me to walk places…so yeah…. not sure if I am willing to consider walking places as a money saver in my situation.

I think many people are scared of the bus, and I admit it can be intimidating and confusing. It is not as user friendly as the metro, but that means there are hardly any tourists! (Please don’t take that the wrong way tourists- DC wouldn’t be they city it is without you visiting, but sometimes it is nice to have a tourist free commute!) Once you learn what buses that go to places you often go, there are many great things about it. Such as….

  • sunlight!
  • the stops are closer together so you can get off and on closer to your destination and starting point
  • you can get a free return trip if you come back within 2 hours of leaving
  • cheaper & no rush hour prices
  • the people are nicer! They say hello and thank you to the drivers, they actually get up when someone needs to sit in the easily assescible seats, and they converse with each other. I would always assume that people are happier in the sunlight than underground, right?

There are great things about the metro too, I am not anti-metro. I just much prefer the bus because it is, in my opinion, a more pleasant and cheaper mode of transportation.

There are some things I don’t like about the first of the month like know it is time to calculate and asses my finances for the previous month. Ugh! I guess I better get started…wish me luck! I will let you know how it goes!

What are your favorite extra perks of your job?