Month in Review: June 2015

 

road trippin'

 

Road trippin’

Alternative title: The color of my legs matches my iPhone cord :( :(

June was such a fun month!  Liam was free for most of it and I took a vacation with some of my best friends. We kept things fairly relaxed around the house for the most part.

tomatojune

The apartment gardening project is just okay.  Not much better than that.  I must have been right about the strawberries being diseased because they died almost immediately after planting.  We also think that we got a bad packet of bean seeds because only one spouted and it’s now dying as well.  In happier news, we have had lots of basil and parsley-filled dishes and just harvested our first pepper yesterday.  No tomatoes are ready yet but we added the plants kind of late.  Because the beans were totally unsuccessful we planted radishes the other day and those are just starting to show tiny sprouts.

empanada taco chips

Though we were out and about a ton last month we only had one real date night with just the two of us.  Early in the month we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and had some fabulous tacos.

ice cream pod

There was also one road trip: we headed to my parents’ house for a weekend of celebrating my dad.  Ice cream is our fuel of choice for these drives.  Culvers is a thing we will miss greatly if we leave the midwest.  We celebrated by power washing, sanding, staining, weeding, mulching, tree trimming…all the outdoor -ings, basically.  My dad is of the Puritanical “early to bed, early to rise” mindset and is always, always, always the first one to bed when we’re together.  Slightly embarrassingly all of the children were in bed before him.  We were so tired from the yard work that a few of us even fell asleep before dessert!

Books I read: Primates of Park Avenue; Where’d You Go, Bernadette?  I liked both!

TV shows: None from what I remember.  Hockey, obviously.  We’re both big Blackhawks fans (even though Liam *should* be a Bruins fan he agrees that Chicago sports > Boston sports!) and are very saad about the trade news.

Snippets:  This is the first month where I have waited until the end to draft this post.  Normally I will have it in the draft folder for the entire month and I’ll add little bits as I remember them.  There was so little computer time this month that it didn’t work out that way and I really have nothing else to add.  :)

June 2015 Shopping Summary

Time for yet another round-up of what I purchased this month.  Liam had most of the month off and I hardly spent any time shopping or browsing at all.  At the very beginning of June I bought a few summer things that I knew I would want on the girls’ trip.  But that was it.

First off, printed pants.  Last summer I wore a pair of wide-leg linen pants to death and instead of replacing them with something very similar I bought these goofy pants at Old Navy.  They’re very comfortable and I wore them on the plane both ways.  I also wear them while I’m working now that our complex has turned on the air conditioner.

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Old Navy Women’s Printed Soft Pants $20

I spotted this shirt while shopping with my mom and bought it because it was everything I want in a tee.  Long enough, flowing, lightweight and extremely soft.  Often worn with the above printed pants.

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Gap V-neck Linen Tee $17

Last, a tank top.  I have a few fitted tank tops that I wear under sheer or low-cut shirts but I don’t like wearing fitted tank tops on their own.  So I bought this loose one from Everlane.  I had a credit in my account so I didn’t pay for it, but I would definitely pay $25 for another one.  I love that it’s Made in USA and it has held up really well to washing.

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Everlane Pocket Tank $25

That is $37 for the month of June.  And because I’m a nerd I can also tell you that the cost-per-wear of each item is already under $5.  For that metric it’s definitely beneficial to buy things in the beginning of the month :)  Hop on over to Franish for more monthly budget posts.

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee date: June

Happy Friday, all!

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I’m back! June has been very light on the blogging front, and Jenna’s coffee date has come at the perfect time to catch the blog up on what has been happening lately.

So the main reason that the blog was so quiet this month was Liam’s term break. He was off from school for a few weeks and we just soaked up the little bit of summer that we had without his schooling. We ate out, played tennis, met up with friends for happy hours, read books, tended to our tiny garden and took lots of evening walks. Though we weren’t always on the go we have been out of the apartment a ton.

Classes begin again next week which means that the homework has already started back up and we are back on the academic calendar. Rumor has it that this term he is headed into is intentionally a bit lighter than the previous two have been because it is summer. Hopefully that’s true because the last term was a really intense one.

All things considered June was pretty perfect.  Fun and even-keeled, which was a good change.  July has the ability to be explosively bad or amazing depending on how a few things shake out.  Wish us luck, knock on your favorite talisman and keep us in your prayers if you’re so inclined.  It would mean a lot!

 

Apartment garden: June update

Remember our little herb garden from my May update? Well we have added a few more plants to our fledgling apartment garden. I thought I would tell you what we have, where it’s located and how things are going thus far. But first you should know that I am not the best gardener. Liam was a farmhand in college so that is super helpful!

So obviously the first step in growing anything in an apartment complex is seeing what you can and cannot do in your space. Lots of people in our building have potted herbs on their balconies or surrounding the patio. Since we’re on the first floor ours is on the patio and according to our lease the only restrictions are 1) that everything must be contained in pots and 2) pots need to be raised X inches (I forget) off of the ground. No raised beds and nothing can be planted in the ground itself. “Pot” means anything that contains plants according to our landlord so that’s the definition we went with. Another thing we had to check up on was whether there was a certain date before which we couldn’t put pots out. That date is apparently March 1, which is laughable considering that 99.9% of the time we get snow and frosts well after that date.

Once we were aware of the restrictions we did some research to see what would grow well in our area. Given when we started planting (late May/beginning of June) we stuck with a maximum 80-day growing windows and chose only “full sun” items because of our uncovered patio situation. We purchased a mix of seeds and started plants with windows ranging from 22 days to 68 days. Below I’ll talk about what we purchased and how they are looking now.  When I knew the brand we purchased from I linked it below.  pepperjune

Sweet-hot peppers. We purchased a started plant of peppers that already had a few small and one medium sized pepper on it in the greenhouse.  Reviews suggested that these were actually best suited to container gardening and that (if successful) the plant would stay small but produce consistently.  So that’s what we’re hoping for!

junestrawberry

Strawberries.  There are two types of strawberry plants: June-bearing and Ever-bearing.  Ever-bearing plants have a longer producing season and we went with those because it was still chilly in early June here.  The plants were on super discount but it was impossible to tell whether the store had simply ordered too many or if there was a chance these were diseased.  So they are on the opposite side of our patio from the rest of the plants.  But we have a few green berries already!

Beans.  Not even a weed to show you in this planter so I’ll spare you the photo of a box of dirt.  But we planted a mixture of green and white beans that should take about 50 days to start producing.   Liam felt around the planter the other day (apparently this is an okay thing to do?)  and said that he can feel some of the seeds starting to grow properly.

tomatojune

Tomatoes.  We have our first flowers!  Liam says they look really hearty and are growing well but I cannot tell a difference from when we brought them home other than that the plant has flowered.

We also bought carrots but are giving those to home-owning friends of ours because even though they’re “container friendly” it sounds like what they really want is a raised bed.  This experiment has cost us about $75, but we were able to get the planters and some of the soil from my parents.  I don’t know that gardening will be any less expensive than buying things from the store but I like learning new things and this is a fun experiment.

 

 

 

 

Month in Review: May 2015

So I know people say this every month, but I actually cannot believe it’s June. As I’m writing this it is barely 50 outside and feels more like fall than “meteorological summer”. Thanks for the buzzword Tom Skilling!

Our May was a pretty decent month by any metric you can judge that sort of thing by. Liam spent the entire month with either work or school work, and we’re both looking forward to a more exciting and eventful June. Wish him luck on his finals, guys. He’ll be taking them over the next ten days and then he is free for most of this month.

But back to May.

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I started an herb garden this month. (Potted, but such is the apartment life.) I have basil, rosemary and parsley at the moment. I am expecting cilantro from a coworker that I’ll be picking up next time I am in the office. The rosemary isn’t looking very good but this is the most successful basil plant I’ve had yet. Some of the stalks (stalks?) are quite “leggy” but um, it’s alive and growing for now so I am pleased. This week I will be planting a container garden of radishes and possibly getting tomatoes and peppers. We tried to grow squash in containers last year and that went horribly. No squash for me.

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I ate my weight in strawberries this month. Seriously. Right now I am still getting produce from Costco but our local farmers markets are expected to start up in the next few weeks. I cannot wait. We live so close to farmland yet our markets are hard to come by. Go figure.

There was a date night this month! I pulled Liam away from his books for a dinner at Gordon Biersch in Bolingbrook. I believe it’s one of those chains that’s sporadicly placed around the country. The food was pretty good and my favorite part was the fact that the restaurant serves proper pints. I like beer but in smaller doses than most people, apparently.

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I made things! To wear! That pile of fabric is now a skirt and I am just so pleased with myself. Sin of pride? Yep. Moving on. “Me made May” is a yearly push for “makers” to make good use of their homemade items. Most commonly I have seen bloggers promise to wear a me-made item every day for the month of May. I am a baby sewist but endeavored to make five items during May that were wearable. That was ambitious. In the end I made two items – a skirt and a top and I am happily wearing both. The finished products are both at my parents’ house so I’ll have to show you later.

Speaking of my parents’ place, I spent a week there. In a bit of fortuitous timing, Liam’s worst week academically was also a break week for my co-ed sibling. The co-ed slept 70% of the time at home (oh, finals) and I was able to put in a full work week while getting to spend lots of time with long-lost sibling. I brought the dog with me so Liam had the house to himself and was very productive as well.

States I slept in: IL  No traveling this month either.

Books I read: Gone Girl; and I want all of those hours of my life back. I absolutely hated this book. For those of you who have read it, the “middle” was spoiled for me but I had no idea how it was going to end. Didn’t matter; I didn’t like it at all.

TV shows: Mad Men ended and I thought it was perfect.

Snippets: Like last month Liam has been super busy with school and I have been busy entertaining myself on off hours.  Still working with Duolingo, like last month.  Now I’m looking for better books to read this summer.  Go Blackhawks!!

If this recap seems a little bit light on the substance you’re totally right.  Lots of this month was consumed with work-related things that aren’t particularly interesting.  June holds the promise of many more adventures.  We’re spending Father’s Day with my parents and siblings and taking my dad out to a restaurant in town of his choosing.  I have a trip with some girlfriends of mine coming up very soon and I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures.

May 2015 Shopping Summary

Another month, another round up!  if you’re interested in more of the same, head on over to Franish, where loads of women share what they’ve added to their closets each month.

I spent $46 in May on fairly basic pieces.  A replacement tee and summer dress, flip flops and a new workout tank that can all be worn right now.  And a new pair of jeans that have been set aside for cooler weather.

Hardly groundbreaking, but I realized that a white tee looks rather polished under a blazer. So when I’m at home I’ll work in my tee until I’m called into a Skype meeting, and then I’ll add the blazer.  My white tee turned blue in the wash this month (how, I don’t know) so I replaced it with one from Old Navy.  This was $6 and I’ve already worn it that many times.

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I wore a hole into my Old Navy flip flops this past month, so I replaced them with this pair:

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I still like flip flops.  No shame here.  My last pair were brown, which is boring.  These were their usual price of $2.50.

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Next we have a new workout tank top.  For $8 this isn’t the best or more supportive shirt I’ve owned but its length is a wonderful thing. Old Navy is the only place that I have been able to find relatively cheap workout clothes in Tall sizes.  If anyone knows of another store, please share!  Unfortunately it seems like ON is either cutting back or entirely eliminating their Tall tops so I grabbed this one as soon as I saw it.

No picture for this next purchase, but I bought a pair of straight leg jeans for $6 at Goodwill.  They’re a size smaller than the ones I had this past year.  The brand appears to be one that Nordstrom no longer stocks but I cannot find any more than that about them online.  Like the sweater I bought last month I probably won’t be wearing these until the fall.

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And finally, I bought a new dress.  I wanted one more dress for warm weather and I loved the look of this striped dress from the moment I laid eyes on it.  Unlike the (other blue striped) dress that I bought earlier in the year this one appears to be made of a very sturdy fabric and should last a good long time.  The dress I bought this spring is likely going to fall apart very soon.  I like that I can wear it both casually out and about and for work.  With tax it was $23.50.

I also made a few pieces of clothing this month, but I’ll write up a separate post about that.  Let me know if you’ve written a post like this.  I’d love to see what you bought!

Shoes

Totally Frivolous Friday post right here!  Wanna see my shoes? I have been putting together a closet catalogue for my own record keeping purposes. I love peering into other people’s closets so I thought I would give you the same opportunity if you’re interested.  I have a total of 10 pairs of shoes if you count flip flops, and nine if you don’t.   Not included in this list are my running shoes and my snow boots because those are “gear” to me.

Boots

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ECCO, purchased in 2010 for approximately $200. Apparently you are able to find these for closer to $130 now, but I think I purchased them when they first came out. I like that my most expensive (to me) shoes are also the oldest ones in my closet. I am tiring of the style somewhat, but these definitely don’t need replacing yet.  At $40 per winter I am happy with the good value that these have turned out to be.  Based on when I purchased them my best guess is that these were made in Eastern Europe.

Heels

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Michael Kors mid-heel pumps in black; $100.  I bought these in 2012 when I needed a nice pair of heels for school.  I rarely wear heels at the moment but these are handy to have every now and again.  At this point these are at $25 per year and are still in really good condition, so they were way better than a squeaky pair of inexpensive heels.

Flats

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Frye Carson Ballet Flat, gifted in 2012. A pattern is going to emerge here: I often get shoes as a Christmas/birthday gift from my parents. These retail for about $160 and I had mine re-soled this spring. They are still in great shape; I got a size smaller than normal because I heard they were prone to stretching. $37.50 per year means that these are still fairly expensive for a pair of flats (that doesn’t account for the new sole) but they have a lot of life left in them.

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Nine West smoking slippers. These were also a gift in 2012 and I have no idea what they cost. They are very comfortable, but suede is hard for me to keep clean so they’re basically relegated to the office.  I would say that they have held up well but they haven’t really been tested so I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment.

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Michael Kors Fulton Flat, $98 in 2013. I bought these riiiiight before Michael Kors was everywhere.   I now think they’re tacky and toy with donating them, but I like the driving moc style for when it is wet-but-not-raining; so basically for random warm days in winter and most of spring.  At a price of $33 per year these were probably not a good purchase because I am already quite tired of them.  I didn’t think I was buying these for the brand, but maybe I was.  Either way, I count these as my one poor purchase of the lot.   At this point I think the most sustainable thing to do is wear them into the ground and not purchase anything like them again.

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Nine West Overtime Pointed Toe Flat $70 (gift) 2015. These were a birthday gift and I haven’t gotten a chance to wear them much yet. I don’t wear pink, but I think I can make an exception for shoes.  Since they’re brand new I can’t really say how they will wear.  Admittedly this is likely a very “of the moment” style I’ll probably have to wear them frequently in a short time frame for them to be a good value.

Sandals

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Jack Rogers, gift 2013. Probably not a shoe that I would have picked out for myself, but I do like navy and the fact that this was considered a work-appropriate shoe in my old office.  Not that that matters much anymore.  These can be hard to figure out what to wear with; my default is to wear them with casual dresses for dinners out.       At $33 per year these don’t look like a great value – yet.  They are a timeless style that goes on and off trend but remains popular with the preppy crowd.  I anticipate having these shoes for a long while.  Screen shot 2015-05-11 at 7.42.22 AM Lands’ End Canvas sandals, 2011. I don’t remember what I paid for these, but given when I bought them it couldn’t have been more than $40 or so. Mine are cognac but this was the only picture I could find online. These aren’t going to last beyond this summer, unfortunately. But that would still have them at $10 per year: an excellent purchase if you ask me.  Sadly Lands’ End Canvas no longer exists; it has been folded back into the regular Lands’ End, which I find too matronly for my tastes.  Good thing I’ve found the brand below.

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Everlane Sandals in Ivy, $118 (gift 2015). These were the birthday sandals that my dad thinks are so ugly. I love them, but I am going to be taking them in to get a better sole put on them.  Since these are also new I don’t know how well they will wear but the few other items that I have from Everlane have held up extremely well.  I appreciate Everlane’s transparency and feel good about the fact that these shoes were made in Italy, rather than some developing country with awful working conditions.

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Old Navy flip flops, $2.50 2015. Do these even still count as shoes? I have no idea.

I actually did buy a pair of shoes in 2014, but they got ruined in the accident earlier this year.  Womp womp.  Its definitely not the end of the world because I really didn’t like them to begin with.