To Sparkle Punch...

That is the question

High Five for Friday: February 17

JessComment

Let's see what put the sparkle into this Valentine's week:

  • Well, ridiculous cards, for one:
WELL-PLAYED.

WELL-PLAYED.

  • I love all the pink and hearts and cuteness of Valentine's Day and had miraculously been able to resist the siren song of LuLaRoe Valentine's leggings... until a few days ago when I totally cracked and eBayed it up!
Initially, I bid on a different pair with this pattern and lost the auction,Β so I bid on this pair and the one below, in the hopes that I would win one of them. Naturally, I won both oops.

Initially, I bid on a different pair with this pattern and lost the auction, so I bid on this pair and the one below, in the hopes that I would win one of them. Naturally, I won both oops.

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  • I spent last weekend away at a healing retreat and came home feeling rejuvenated and enlightened. My soul was feeling the love. <3 <3

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  • If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw my tale of woe about my glasses like a month ago. When I went to get new glasses (mine were 4+ years old nbd), my old frames SNAPPED IN HALF at the optical shop. 😦😱😰  After a few weeks of wearing makeshift glasses with my old lenses, I've finally got the new ones, hooray!
🎢I'm a model, you know what I mean, and I do my little turn on the catwalk🎢 

🎢I'm a model, you know what I mean, and I do my little turn on the catwalk🎢 

  • Lastly, I am very jealous of Timmi's dog Mieze, who is clearly living the life:
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Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! xo

High Five for Friday: February 10

JessComment

Here's what put the sparkle into my week! (Spoiler: not the snow/arctic blast that rolled in on Thursday!)

  • Inspired by Mica and all of her gorgeous designer handbags, I busted out my Rebecca Minkoff MAM this week, for the first time in ages! It's so beautiful (#purpleisaneutral) and pricey (even second-hand) that I'm always afraid of messing it up. Eek. But I'm trying to put those fears aside because carrying it makes me feel all pulled-together and fancy! Plus, you can fit a TON of stuff in it, and it's structured enough to not become a bottomless pit! #pursegoals
Hello, lovahhh. 😍

Hello, lovahhh. 😍

  • One of my inner child therapy "assignments" over the weekend was to play... which is a tall order for someone whose adult self thrives on structure and to-do lists! Luckily, I loved video games as a kid, so Mario Run was an easy solution! 
It looks like Mario knows how to sparkle punch! βœ¨πŸ‘Š

It looks like Mario knows how to sparkle punch! βœ¨πŸ‘Š

  • On Sunday morning, I had a lovely Galentine's brunch with a few wonderful friends I hadn't seen in awhile! Donuts, pals, and Parks and Rec in the background? Who could ask for anything more? Bonus that it was another last-minute invitation that I didn't say no to!

 

  • After brunch, I went to Reading for a meditation gathering, and before heading home, I stopped at Sheetz for the first time by myself! When I used to carpool to yoga classes in Reading with a friend, we would often stop at Sheetz before going home, but now that I'm going by myself, I've been too scared to stop. (My stranger danger may be slightly extreme.) But I did it!! One can only resist the siren song of their chicken finger sliders for so long, I guess. πŸ˜‚

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  • I only ever wear flats/flat boots/sneakers to work, so when I decided to wear my new booties from Nordstrom Rack on Monday, I basically felt like Beyonce. Give me a little wedge, and I will apparently stomp it out while walking from my office to the bathroom. ✌️
They're quite comfy too!

They're quite comfy too!

Here's hoping for a warmer weekend! Happy Friday! xo

High Five for Friday: February 3

JessComment

Was this a weird week for anyone else? Is Mercury in retrograde or something?! (Spoiler: NO.) I've just felt... strange all week, and I don't know what's bugging me. Sigh. Anyway, since emotional stability didn't bring the sparkle this week, here's what did:

  • Awesome mermaid nails added some literal sparkle! I hardly ever use this color (Zoya Charla), but it's sooo pretty!
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  • You guys, I'm definitely a pod person now because this week's meal prep involved quinoa. QUINOA! Who am I, an adult?! I used this recipe again, just with quinoa, and it turned out delicious (because all you can taste is the pesto! Wait, does quinoa have a taste? I don't even know.). And I didn't cut myself with the food processor this time! πŸ’―

 

  • On Saturday, Pops and I watched the NHL Skills Competition, which basically transported me back to senior year of college (2009), when I took the GRE in the morning (ack), and then my bffl and I went to my dad's house, and the three of us watched the Skills Competition together πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘§. My hockey fandom has been sadly lacking the last few years, so watching the Skills Competition reminded me of the good ol' days with friends that feel like family. πŸ’–
Oddly enough, Jeff Carter was last an All-Star in 2009! But with the Flyers, of course.

Oddly enough, Jeff Carter was last an All-Star in 2009! But with the Flyers, of course.

  • For some reason, I legitimately did not want to go to work on Monday. Work is never something that feels optional to me, not to mention that I love routine, so this was real weird. But then, right before I was about to drag myself out the door, my boss called to tell me to work from home because the heater was broken!! I practically did cartwheels! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰  (Apparently, leaving the house was the real problem, ha!) And then, I got sent home on Tuesday because the "fixed" heater broke again! Pops had this hilarious take on the situation:
Well-played, Pops. πŸ‘Β 

Well-played, Pops. πŸ‘Β 

  • This week, I started (and got 100+ pages into!) Scrappy Little Nobody, my Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange gift from Bri! I don't exactly love it, yet I'm strangely drawn to it and enjoy it. Yeah. Pretty characteristic of this weird week!
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Here's hoping for a good weekend! xo

February goals

JessComment
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Somehow, I went way overboard with this "new year, new you" nonsense in January. (I usually hate that phrase, so it was truly a new me!) I started using an alarm clock, meal prepping my lunches, reading before bed (!!), and using YNAB. Like what? Adulting (or insanity?) at its finest! 

Anyway, here's what's ~officially~ on the white board for February:

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1. I was actually successful in getting to work by 11 every day, which was one of my January goals! But most days, I only juuust squeaked into work before 11, hence February's goal of getting in by 10:50! (Baby steps!)

2. Thanks to Mia's post (and my reader Molly's encouragement!), I tried YNAB this month. I'm still easily confused by the interface, but I like the premise, as it's geared toward breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, which I definitely need to do! YNAB encourages you to allocate all of your income for different expenses, not just your bills, and I found that to be surprisingly helpful. (Usually, I just figure out how much is going toward bills and then pray I won't spend more than the meager amount that's left over!) Because it forced me to set money aside for inevitable but non-bill expenses (like gas and groceries), I didn't feel deprived on the YNAB system--in fact, I felt less panicked about money overall. So I'm curious to see how Month #2 goes.

I did not meet last month's goal of "switch to a fee-free bank," but that was intentional after I started researching my bank options. I don't have direct deposit at my job, which makes hold times a big deal. So I think I need to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle before I start dealing with a new bank and potentially longer/more erratic hold times. 

3. My job is 100% seated, and I've been feeling basically like a gross lump lately, so I want to try to move more and incorporate basic exercise into my day. I'm legit scared to go to a work-out class or gym, so maybe following along with some YouTube videos this month will be a good start. 

4. and 5. Self-explanatory. 

 

As for my phrase of the year ("out of hiding"), I did pretty well! I went to dinner with friends in the city! (I'm terrified of city parking AND driving at night AND unfamiliar driving routes! I went to Target after work! I went to Nordstrom Rack at lunch! I met up with friends from my old job! (Which was perhaps the biggest accomplishment because it was a last-minute invite, and that's almost always an automatic "no.") 

I was not able to push through anxiety to go to the Women's March, though, so that's a bummer. :( In general, I still have a hard time getting myself to out of the house for non-obligatory things, but at least I broke that pattern a little bit in January.

What are you working on this month? 

Linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl!

High Five for Friday: January 27

JessComment

Here's what put the sparkle into this blur of a week:

  • Well, not our TV dying on Friday night! It just clicked off and would not turn back on. But now Pops and I have a glorious new TV, so that helps! We promptly tested it out with some show called Is OJ Innocent? because of course we did. 

 

  • I meal prepped my lunches again this week! And it involved using a food processor! WHAT. A. GROWN. UP. (And I only cut myself once!) I made this sun-dried tomato and basil pesto, which was super easy and pretty delish, and I added it to the one other thing I can make: pasta.

 

  • Does anyone else find watching vlogs to be energizing? Maybe it's because I feel like a friend is chatting with me? (The sense of connection without actual human contact is really πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Œ. #bloggerprobs) Anyway, I stumbled upon Lydia Elise Millen this week and really enjoy her. Her lovely Brit accent makes for calming background noise!

She also has a very cute cat who gets stuck in the Christmas tree, which is obviously why I chose this video.

 

  • I hardly ever want to go out during the work day. I also find shoe shopping to be a total pain. (Hence why I'm still wearing booties that have a pebble-filled hole in the sole!) But on Thursday, I apparently became a pod person, as I felt compelled to take a lunch break and go look at shoes at Nordstrom Rack. So I went out! And the world did not end! And I found a pair of cute and comfy booties for $25! πŸŽ‰
Living the dream.

Living the dream.

  • Lastly, modern dogs are such slackers.
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Have a great weekend! xo

January 2017 Budget

JessComment

Just a few purchases to start the new year! (This is a far cry from last January's shopping bonanza!)

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  1. Bobeau One-Button Wrap Cardigan (TJ Maxx): $17
  2. Women's Geneva Platinum Polished Aztec Print Strap Watch (Target): $19 - gift card = $0
  3. The Body Shop Chamomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover (Amazon): $16

Not pictured:

  1. Tresics Long-Sleeved Tee (TJ Maxx): $10 on sale for $8

TOTAL: $41

My ever-faithful Target watch finally died a few weeks ago, and I was like, "Meh, who needs a watch these days anyway?" Buuut then I found myself repeatedly checking my bare wrist like a nut, so I ordered two watches from Target. The Geneva one was the winner because 1.) rose gold face 😍 2.) a neutral strap in a color other than black or white 3.) not clunky (unlike my previous watch, which would get caught on my sleeves sometimes!) and, most importantly, 4.) has a soft strap that I can punch more holes in. #priorities I have tiny baby wrists, which makes finding a watch that fits practically impossible. But I do own a leather punch, so in like two minutes, I was able to turn the Geneva watch into a perfect fit! πŸ™Œ  (Is owning a leather punch a sign to maybe step away from the Amazon Prime?) 

I actually got the Tresics t-shirt and Bobeau "blanket with sleeves" at TJ Maxx in December (when I bought the tiered organizer of my dreams!), but after I'd already finished my December budget post. I'm not sure that I linked to my exact cardigan (I don't think mine is fleece?), but it looks identical. I must say, now that I've been scaling back on my clothing purchases for awhile, buying clothes feels decadent and almost wrong. Like, I loved both pieces (as they're both super soft and long enough to wear with leggings!), but I seriously wrestled with buying them. I took the cardigan on and off about five times in the dressing room before committing to it! But this hesitation is probably a good sign as I try to limit my impulse buys and reduce the amount of clothes my closet.

And then the eye make-up remover. YAWN, but a must.

Oh, and my dad bought me this awesome pom pom beanie, as a treat for sticking to my budget! See, budgeting has its perks! πŸ˜‰ 

What did you buy this month?

Linking up with Fran's Budgeting Bloggers!

High Five for Friday: January 20

JessComment

For some reason, I decided to tackle ALLTHETHINGS I want to work on in 2017 this past week! In spite of that madness, there are still some things that put the sparkle into my week:

  • On Friday, I got to catch up with a few friends over some delish pizza in South Philly! Not only was it great to see these gals and be back in the old 'hood, I also successfully drove there from work, so I crossed another route off my New Driver Bingo! (The thought of taking a newish highway route at night did have me making the sign of the cross in the parking lot before I left work, not gonna lie!)

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  • So I hate cooking. I hate that lunch is a thing that exists, and I certainly hate the idea of "meal prep." But I was able to overcome that this week and make a big batch of pasta for myself on Sunday to then dole out during the week for various lunches! (I really need to scale back on my all carb diet, but let's tackle one unpleasant thing at a time here!)  

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  • Thanks to an H54Fer (ack, I can't remember who!), I read this morning routine post by Sammi Harvey and got some great ideas for how to make my morning less frenzied! I totally feel like I spend my mornings just catching up on social media and then feeling overwhelmed and perpetually behind. So this week, I really tried to limit my phone time when I first wake up, and Sammi's old-school alarm clock tip has really helped with that! (If I don't have to grab my phone first thing to turn off the alarm, then I'm less apt to start playing on it right away, you know?)
Bonus if your clock is as awesome as this $10 one from Amazon!

Bonus if your clock is as awesome as this $10 one from Amazon!

  • Somehow, it's been awhile since I got super emotional over a stranger's pet on Instagram! But watching one of Beth Stern's recent adult fosters hide and then slowly warm up to her new mama just hit me right in the feels. "Out of hiding": a 2017 resolution for shy adults and cats alike!
And she's a calico like my girl Calico Pinky! <3 <3

And she's a calico like my girl Calico Pinky! <3 <3

  • I ended the week by coming out of hiding a bit myself and doing something spontaneous--going to Target after work! Gasp! I hardly ever deviate from the work-to-home plan, but after reading Tif's $10 at Target post this week and seeing all the adorable Valentinesy things she found, I just couldn't resist! Valentine's, in all its pink/purple heart-and-glitter covered glory, was basically made for me, and the Target near work is usually way less picked over than the one near my house. Clearly, it was a successful trip: 
Hooray for gift cards!

Hooray for gift cards!

As nbd as going to Target after work probably sounds, for me--someone who often finds the outside world very scary--being able to do a fun, impromptu thing by myself and still get home safely was EXHILARATING. :)

Hope you have a good weekend! xo

She's a rainbow

JessComment

I have never been as enthusiastic about the start of a new year as I am now. I didn't quite realize it at the time, but I was feeling really blah in the waning months of 2016. And I should have known, because the evidence was right there in front of me: my unpainted nails.

As dumb as it sounds, the state of my nails often reflects my mental/emotional state. If I'm not painting my nails at all OR they're painted a barely-there color, I'm probably feeling scared or sad. I may really want to blend in and hide. My bffl (an even bigger nail polish enthusiast than me!) actually called me out on this tendency in college when I was taking a class that terrified me and, as a result, only painted my nails a pale opalescent pink the whole semester. (2017 must be off to a good start because my nails are currently this awesome shade of blue!)

So one of my fun self-care resolutions for 2017 is to try to paint my nails every week because having pretty nails just makes me happy! (And happy people don't shoot their husbands! Er, among other things...) And I have quite a collection of polishes, so I might as well use them!

This is as close to minimalist as I can get!Β 

This is as close to minimalist as I can get! 

If you too love painting your nails, then you know that the struggle to find a good color AND formula is realer than real. So here are my go-to polishes, the tried and true ones I know will look good without 47 coats (and assorted expletives):

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Essie "Splash of Grenadine"

Zoya Pixie Dust "Tomoko"

Sally Hansen Triple Shine "Red Snapper"

Illamasqua "Jo'mina"

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Maybelline Color Show "Porcelain Party"

Essie "Where's My Chauffeur"

Ginger + Liz Rock and Ice Collection "Is It Friday Yet"

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None of these colors is particularly "quiet," which is a good sign! Jo'mina is probably my favorite color in my whole collection (hello, purple πŸ’œ). It's just such a pretty, vibrant lavender. I actually get compliments on it every time I wear it! A close second fave is "Red Snapper"--I wear it seriously all.the.time. Such a good cherry red. And the brushes on the Sally Hansen Triple Shines make applying a breeze!

I didn't include it in the pictures, but Poshe top coat is the only one I've used for the last four+ years. (Props to my pal Piper for introducing this magical potion to me!) It dries really fast, makes your nails super shiny, and lasts for days. What else could a gal want? πŸ’―

The matte glitter polishes (like Zoya Pixie Dust, Ginger + Liz's Rock and Ice Collection, and also OPI's Liquid Sand line) are my go-tos when I need my nails to look perfect for an event or a vacation (when I won't be able to immediately change polishes or fix a mistake). They just don't seem to chip as fast as "normal" polishes. Bonus that they usually look great in just two coats and don't need a top coat! (The sandpapery texture is a little weird, but I can overlook it because, above all, I am LAZY with my beauty products.)

What are your go-to nail polishes that I need to try?

High Five for Friday: January 13

JessComment

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After a 65 degree Thursday in January, I am cartwheeling into the weekend! (Which has snow in the forecast for Saturday, boo.) Here's what else put the sparkle into my week:

  • I had a follow-up doctor's appointment last Friday and got a clean bill of health, hooray!

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  • I finally wore these sweet raccoon pjs that I got for Christmas! I bought the same exact ones for my bffl, and then Pops got them for me LOL. (They're from Target, but apparently they're sold out online 😞.) They are so comfy!! And these purple sheets were a Christmas gift from my mom and make getting out of bed for a 9 AM therapy appointment REALLY CHALLENGING. 
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  • I hopped on the Gratitude Jar train for 2017 after reading Ashley's post! I used to keep a gratitude journal and really enjoyed it... except that I would sometimes forget to update it and then feel guilty and that became a drag. So I like that the Gratitude Jar allows me to still note and remind myself of the good things going on, in a less structured way.

 

I already had this decorative bottle (?) from the Target Dollar Spot and threw it together with some cute Post-Its I wasn't using. DONE!

I already had this decorative bottle (?) from the Target Dollar Spot and threw it together with some cute Post-Its I wasn't using. DONE!

  • If you're a fan of cats and/or cuteness and you're not following Beth O. Stern on Instagram, here's Exhibit A why you should change that:
A tiny kitten using coasters as steps to climb into a vase. GAHHH I CAN'T EVEN WITCHU. πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

A tiny kitten using coasters as steps to climb into a vase. GAHHH I CAN'T EVEN WITCHU. πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

  • And finally, this cracked me up:
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Along with my general spaz-ness behind the wheel, this is why I'm reluctant to have passengers: because I know that not everyone wants to hear "Sundown" 27 times in a row (which may or may not have happened on my Tuesday commute...)!

 

Hope you have a lovely weekend! xo

2017 and January Goals

JessComment
How fantastic is this confetti thrower that Timmi got me for Christmas?!

How fantastic is this confetti thrower that Timmi got me for Christmas?!

I don't think I ever talked about my goals for 2016 ~the year~ on here, which is fitting because I ignored them! Well, except for "buy a car," but I wasn't talking to anyone in advance about that! Aside from that terrifying goal, the others didn't interest me much, so they were easy to ignore. My 2017 goals aren't exactly thrilling, but I have enough energy around them to WANT to do them on some level, so that seems promising:

Plus "out of hiding," which I plan to acknowledge in future goal updates. πŸ’œ

Plus "out of hiding," which I plan to acknowledge in future goal updates. πŸ’œ

Like, "Hey, not being broke after I pay my bills would be awesome." And "It would be sweet to get home from work before 8 PM." Seeing tangible benefits like that seems to really motivate me. That was certainly the case when I attempted driving again. When I got my license (reluctantly, of course) at 19, driving was easy to avoid because I was in college and living on campus. Driving only intrigued me ten years later when I clearly had something to gain from it--like a greatly reduced commute. So now we'll see if this motivation theory holds true for my 2017 goals!

My two goals for January are both related to my bigger goals for the year:

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1.) Switching to a bank that doesn't charge those annoying monthly fees would be one way to save a little money--getting closer to my "Stop living paycheck to paycheck" goal. I've also been trying to find a budgeting app or program that I don't hate, but the search has been unsuccessful thus far. I can never stick with Mint, and I found YNAB super-frustrating to set up. Any suggestions? (Maybe the problem is that I don't know what I'm really looking to gain from one of those apps, since I already track my bills and spending on paper.)

2.) Getting to work before 11 is a start towards working more normal hours. Anxiety usually keeps me from leaving the house earlier, and, as I mentioned here, my anxiety typically only signs off on obligations, so by making getting to work earlier an obligation--in baby steps--there's a prayer that I might actually do it. I usually get to work between like 10:50 and 11:10, so my thought process here is to nudge that time back. Like, if I am able to get to work consistently before 11 this month, then I want to try to get in by 10:45 next month, etc., until I'm sort of naturally on a better schedule.

Pro tip: Understanding how to trick yourself into doing things is key. πŸ˜

What are you working on this month, or in 2017 as a whole?

Linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl!

High Five for Friday: January 6

JessComment

Let's see what put the sparkle into this first week of the new year!

  • Last Friday, Pops and I finally got our act together to go the Macy's Christmas Light Show! It's so crazy how there's this whole Light Brite-esque display just in the middle of a huge department store, all nbd. 
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  • My lovely, lazy Christmas vacation is sadly over. But basically wearing a blanket with sleeves made the transition back to work a little better!
So cozy!Β 

So cozy!Β 

  • I got my first-ever Christmas card from Australia this week! How cute are these sunbathing penguins?! (I wish it were still summer here!) Thank you Mica! Your card and message were so sweet and really made my day! πŸ’–
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  • In keeping with the blogger love theme, the lovely Nicole at Writes Like a Girl really helped me to push through some anxiety this week and get my "Phrase of the Year" post up on Wednesday! Her positivity and pretty pictures definitely energize me and make me want to write/post more! 
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  • Lastly, I ended the week with an impromptu reunion with some old work pals, which was just delightful! My initial reaction to the last-minute invite was going to be "no," of course (I'm not the most spontaneous person--surprise!), but then I remembered my mantra for 2017 and my resolution to just consider saying yes to things. So I considered it. And I realized that, under my reflexive anxiety, I actually did want to go! So I did! And it was great! HUZZAH! 

Happy first weekend of 2017 to you! xo

The "Phrase of the Year" that chose me

JessComment
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Have you guys heard about this "Word of the Year" thing? The idea is easy enough: you pick a word that resonates with you to use as inspiration and motivation throughout the new year.

My initial reaction to that lovely concept was BLEH. (Although, to be fair, BLEH is my initial reaction to most things.) 

That is, until a word chose me. Or rather, a whole phrase chose me. It came to me out of the blue sometime in December, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. It just struck me as the perfect theme for how I'd like to grow in 2017:

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Because, confession: I feel scared most of the time. And when I feel scared, I retreat into hiding. 

My knee-jerk reaction to most invitations or opportunities is "NO" (or "BLEH"), and I have a hard time getting out of the house for anything other than work or appointments. My anxiety seems to only sign off on obligations (particularly those that ward off conflict); it dismisses everything else as optional or frivolous. According to my anxiety, not much is worth the risk of venturing out into the dangerous, unpredictable world... so that leaves my house as the only safe place. Hiding also takes the form of silence, as my anxiety often causes me to second-guess myself, killing my enthusiasm for blogging and other forms of expression. None of this is new for me--I'm just able to see it now. To see that being a slave to anxiety makes for a pretty dull life. It doesn't rejuvenate or inspire me, and that's not good enough anymore. (Even though just writing that sentence spooks me!) I plan to use "out of hiding" as a reminder to question my anxiety and consider doing the scary thing, rather than automatically avoiding it.

As much as I also BLEH at New Year's resolutions, I can't deny that I need to do some things differently in 2017, so I bought myself the Commit 30 planner as a Christmas gift. My hope is that its focus on weekly and monthly goals will keep me from becoming a routine robot. (In 2016, I felt like I numbed out on routine a lot and hardly noticed the days, weeks, and months flying by.) 

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Am I absolutely petrified to attempt to come "out of hiding"? Uh, YEAH. Especially because the first thing I want to do when I'm scared is to go INTO hiding! But my life in hiding is not very fulfilling, so I guess it's time to try something different. πŸ’œ

What do you hope to do differently in 2017?

Linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl

High Five for Friday: December 30

JessComment

Here we go, the last week of the year. (YIKES.) What put the sparkle into my lazy holiday week?

  • Even though I think I'm allergic to it (wah), I've been loving our Christmas tree! As soon as I step into the living room, I just have to turn on the lights for maximum festiveness! 
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  • Christmas Day was pretty low-key (aside from mourning George Michael 😩), complete with some Love Actually and comfy Christmas leggings! 
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I got some awesome gifts, including cat slippers, cozy (purple!) sheets, and a Neko Atsume plushie of my own! 

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  • On Monday, I was reunited with Timmi for copious snacking, puppy-snuggling, and movie-watching! (I successfully coerced her into watching the The Mighty Ducks for the first time and can only hope that "cake eater" factors into her future snaps of The Great British Bake Off.) How freakin' cute are these lapel pins she got me for Christmas?! I still can't get over the Polly Pocket one! 
  • I celebrated the most important holiday of them all this week: Catsmas! I got some more bumps and rubs from Calico Pinky aka Edie on Friday! Just looking at her sweet little face makes me want to squeal incoherently.
I'm sexy and I know it.

I'm sexy and I know it.

Then on Christmas, I got to hang out with my aunt's two crazy cats! One had a grand time trying invade a giant gift bag, while the other went bonkers for the catnip carrots I got them!

Before annnd after the bag fell on her.

Before annnd after the bag fell on her.

RAWR.

RAWR.

  • Since I've been off all week, I've gotten to do some out-of-the-ordinary things, like going to TJ Maxx on a Tuesday afternoon and finding the decorative tiered organizer of my dreams!
😍

😍

I usually dread New Year's Eve, but I am so ready to say goodbye to 2016. Here's to a sparkly start to 2017! xo

December 2016 budget

JessComment

Last December, I was totally horrified to add up my spending and see just how much I had spent on clothing and accessories in 2015. This December, I'm not horrified at all... because I cut my 2015 total IN HALF (actually, more than half!)! I spent $2,768 in 2015 and $1,142 in 2016, a difference of $1,626! That's crazy!!

If you're looking to cut back on your spending, here are two things that helped me:

  1. Reprioritizing. Getting a car (and all of the expenses that go with it) sort of forced me into this, but you simply can't shop as much if most of your disposable income has been reallocated.
  2. Keeping last year's spending total posted where I could see it (like on my white board and on my computer), as a reminder of what I was trying to avoid doing this year.

I'm so proud of myself! High-five, 2016 Jess! πŸŽ‰

As for this month (which is included in the 2016 total above), here's what I bought: 

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  1. SOLO Mio Sonic Face Cleaner and Massager Brush (Amazon): $38
  2. LuLaRoe leggings: $25
  3. LipSense Lip Balm: $20
  4. DevaCurl Travel Size Ultra Hold Gel (Ulta): $10 - coupon = $8

TOTAL: $91

I had been toying with the idea of getting a sonic cleanser for awhile. For some reason, the idea of a cleansing brush like the Clarisonic kind of weirds me out, so I was drawn to a silicone device like the Foreo Luna. But that's $100+ (oy), so I was hesitant to pull the trigger... until I stumbled upon a similar one with great reviews on Amazon for less than $40! Sold! I've never used a device like this before, so I'm curious to see how my skin reacts to it.

After my initial LuLaRoe binge in September, I hadn't been too excited by any pattern I'd seen since. But I legit freaked over these leggings. Yellow umbrellas?! "One ticket to Farhampton, please!" πŸ’›

The LipSense Lip Balm was finally back in stock this month, and I'm loving it! It makes my lips feel so soft and is a great alternative for days when I just can't be bothered to put on lipstick.

And the DevaCurl gel was just something I needed to get more of. 😴

Linking up with Fran's Budgeting Bloggers!

High Five for Friday: December 23

JessComment

Bah humbug, but that's too strong 'cause there are things that brought the sparkle to this last week before Christmas! It was truly an opportunity to sparkle punch, as another emergency sort of threw all holiday plans out the window. But luckily, I was off from work starting on Wednesday, so I was able to pitch in with cleaning and decorating... and also belt out Christmas songs and just try to enjoy the season. Even though nothing was going according to plan, I was able to keep a positive attitude, which is huge for someone who used to pout and panic about everything! I just kept reminding myself that the situation was unpredictable and all I could do was "go with the flow" (barf) and try to be supportive and helpful, you know? ANYWAY, here's what brought the sparkle this week:

  • "Christmas Wrapping" and "Step into Christmas," two of my favorite Christmas songs since childhood, were in heavy rotation to set a cheerful holiday mood!

As that screenshot suggests, this video is πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘Œ.

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  • I tackled a few driving challenges this week! First, I drove in the "snow" (ok, so it was really more like slush by the time I got out there, but I was still able--and willing!--to drive in it)! And then it was insanely foggy when I had to drive back home, so I got to cross that off my New Driver Bingo too!

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  • Reading the Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange posts last Friday night was so delightful! I loved seeing the gifts that everyone got, while also "meeting" some new blogger friends! Appropriately enough, an adorable card from Bri (my Secret Santa) arrived last Friday too!
Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a sparkly penguin in a hat!

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a sparkly penguin in a hat!

Also, if you want to see what I got my Secret Santa Audrey, you can check out her post here!

 

  • In the "What the What" files, I went to a meditation gathering on Sunday. (All together now: "What the what?!") Until a few weeks ago, I was totally terrified at the thought of sitting still and focusing on my breathing. But I've actually been willing to try it lately, so I went to this meditation event, where not only did I have to sit quietly and focus on my breathing, but I also didn't know that many people. Eek! But I had a great time! Meditating AND socializing?! In one day? Truly a major   accomplishment. :)

 

  • Our Christmas tree and decorations are up, thanks in part to the cleaning and decorating binge on Thursday! The tree smells so amazing, and all the decorations and lights bring so much cheer to our little house. πŸ’•
Truly a sparkle punch Christmas!Β 

Truly a sparkle punch Christmas! 

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(Clearly, we inherited a ton of awesome decorations from my grandmother!)

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and are able to find the good even when things go awry (which can be so frustrating at this time of year). xoxo

High Five for Friday: December 16

JessComment

Let's see what put the sparkle into this whirlwind week:

  • Last Saturday was a banner mail day! First, I got a package from Becky at byBMG because the LipSense Lip Balm was finally back in stock, hooray! 
What a festive little baggie!Β 

What a festive little baggie!Β 

  • Then FOUR packages arrived from Amazon that night! I had gotten a message that my Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange gift was supposed to arrive on Saturday, so I was like "BOY, she really went all out!"
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Turns out that two packages were indeed from my blogger Secret Santa, and the other two were Christmas gifts from my bffl! Ok, that makes more sense! Great minds order from Amazon!

The lovely Bri from North Star Girl, Lone Star World was my Secret Santa! (Somehow, I had a hunch that it might be her, I have no idea why!) She sent me Scrappy Little Nobody (ooh!) and a cute mug! Thanks, Bri! :)

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  • And then the surprise gifts from my bffl were cat socks and the Mighty Ducks trilogy (probably because she was recently shocked to learn that I didn't have it on DVD--only VHS!). Bri also likes the Mighty Ducks, so it really tied the Saturday gift extravaganza together!
This was in the first package I opened, and I was like, "How did my secret santa know?! This wasn't on my list!" haha

This was in the first package I opened, and I was like, "How did my secret santa know?! This wasn't on my list!" haha

  •  I found this adorably festive washi tape at Target recently and finally used it in my planner this week!
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  • And finally, as we get ready for Christmas, don't forget to catch a falling star and put it in your pocket:   

Have a great weekend! xo

As always, I'm linking up with Katie, Tif, and Della for High Five for Friday!

This week, I'm also linking up with Mattie (Northwest Native) and Olya (The Siberian American) for the Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange!

Northwest Native Blog

Best buys of 2016

JessComment
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With the year coming to an end, it's time to reflect on the important things... like 🎢the best buys of the year🎢 (sung like Tom Haverford and Donna).

I feel like there was a big shift in my relationship with shopping this year. Shopping had always been a fun distraction from anxiety or a quick pick-me-up. But this year, I began to notice how much of a crapshoot it is. When you buy something, it's impossible to know if you'll really love it and use it as much as you think you will. You buy something because it seems perfect, like the exact item your life has been missing. Sometimes, that does turn out to be the case, and you use or wear the item all the time. And then there are things that you buy and barely use or wear and then end up donating. At least for me, it doesn't seem to matter whether it's an impulse buy or a well-researched purchase, perhaps because you can never know just how much you'll use or love something until, well, you have it.

I guess this is ultimately an argument for shopping less--the less you buy, the less you spend money things that might not work out. My 2016 budget posts have shown this trend, as I've been shopping way less than I did last year. (Ok, having less of a disposable income due to a life-changing purchase--#1 on the list below--has also helped to curtail my shopping!)

With no further adieu, here are the six things that I bought in 2016 and now can't live without:

1. A car: Let's get the biggest, most life-changing purchase out of the way first! Sure, it's bleeding me dry compared to a monthly transpass, but it has given me the freedom to actually have a life, instead of just riding trains and buses all the time, or not being able to go certain places at all because Septa just doesn't travel there. My cute li'l car has become my safe haven, and I love getting to control the temperature, music, and passengers that comprise my daily commute, for a change! ;) Plus, being able to practice driving every day keeps my fears of driving from becoming overwhelming again. (I'd rather not have to revisit exposure if I can help it!)

2. Extra-long iPhone cord. If you too are sick of having to leave your phone across the room to charge, or are constantly pulling it out of the socket by accident, this guy has been a game-changer. (And is under $10 too!)

3. Hera UV Mist Cushion Compact. I had serious reservations about ordering this $40+ compact without being able to test it in a store first. (When you have the same coloring as Casper the Friendly Ghost, finding a matching shade of makeup is a challenge.) Fortunately, it's worked out great! The shade "N21" matches my fair skin really well with a decent amount of coverage (even though the "N" indicates a more "natural" finish), and the cushion + sponge make it really easy to apply. It's still-my go-to foundation, nine months later

4. Netflix. I had actually never had my own Netflix account before this summer, but after sharing B's for a few years, I couldn't live without it. I mean, it has all the seasons of Grey's on it, as well as D2: The Mighty Ducks, soooo... #blessed

5. Tatcha Pure One-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. This oil has been great at cleaning/moisturizing my skin without leaving it all greasy. Honestly, I like it better than that K Beauty holy grail, Banila Clean It Zero. *gasp*

6. Now Aromatherapy Diffuser. I had been debating getting a diffuser for awhile before finally pulling the trigger in March... and I've used it to diffuse lavender oil at bedtime pretty much every night since. This particular diffuser also lights up in different colors (as in the picture at the top of this post), but I usually turn that feature off, so as to not have a bedtime discotheque! 

What things have you bought and loved this year?

High Five for Friday: December 9

JessComment

What a crazy week. I know I say that a lot, but it was legit last week, as there was a sudden death in my extended family. Ugh. So there's a real need to sparkle punch here and find the good things that happened in the past week!

  • Last Saturday was a banner Caturday because I saw Calico Pinky and finally learned her real name: EDIE! What a precious old lady name! I thought I had seen it on her collar, and then a little girl came running up shrieking "Edie! Edie!" for confirmation.
Official Cat Review:Β 100/10 for adorableness and friendliness. 0/10 for chill. (She literally just walked circles around me the entire time.)Β 

Official Cat Review: 100/10 for adorableness and friendliness. 0/10 for chill. (She literally just walked circles around me the entire time.) 

  • Also on Saturday was our family Christmas party, which is usually stressful because I'm an antisocial nut. But we had it at a hall this year, which meant that the weeks leading up to it weren't crammed with cleaning and decorating, HOORAY! The dessert spread also helped:  
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  • You know what song I've been listening to lately? "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. (Thank you for reminding me of it, Comcast commercial!) It's cute AF and pretty appropriate for the holidays, without being a "holiday" song. (I've been all about the home-y songs lately... My icy heart must be thawing a bit!)
  • On Monday, I got my first oil change, like a real adult! (Ok, I did shriek when the little wrench light first came on, so maybe not totally adult-like.) Afterwards, I stopped at the mall and found out that Hot Topic (yeah, I'm confused why I went in there too) has Neko Atsume plushies! #blessed
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  • Since I'm apparently re-obsessed with The Mighty Ducks at the moment, I found this amazing article (ok, it's practically a novella) with behind-the-scenes stories about the movies. I also stumbled upon the hilarious Quack Attack podcast, which is basically three dudes quoting/analyzing the movies and even interviewing actors from the movies! Aside from the shocking revelation that a different kid originally played Adam Banks (!!), I think the best thing I've learned so far is that Paula Abdul was on the set of D1 (she was dating Emilio Estevez at the time), and she refused to watch them film the scene where her man smooches Charlie's mom. Like WHAT?! 

Hope y'all have a great weekend! xo

As always, linking up with Katie, Tif, and Della for High Five for Friday!

December goals

JessComment
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Sorry, this is a bit of a fake-out because I'm not setting any goals for December! The holidays (and being out of my normal routine) are stressful enough--I don't want to add to it. In fact, I want to try to enjoy the holidays (how novel!).

Anyway, here's how November's goals went:

1. Christmas cards: CHECK! Not only did I come up with an idea for them, I actually executed it and filled out/mailed them! (Thank goodness because it is December now lol.)

2. Christmas gifts: CHECK! I still have a few to get, but I made some good progress and totally finished two people's gifts!

3. AM Facebook fast: Half-check. I would still mess around on fb (and my phone in general) in the morning, but I've been better about limiting it, so, progress. 

Are you setting goals this month?

PS- Blogger friends, let me know if you want to exchange Christmas cards! :)

Linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl!

High Five for Friday: December 2

JessComment

What a whirlwind week! Let's see what put the sparkle into it:

  • I'm not super psyched about Christmas, but I did get really into taking artsy shots of all the pretty decorations at the mall last Saturday!
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  • For some reason, I really felt like playing video games over the holiday weekend, so I was thrilled to find one of my favorite childhood games in the App Store: Harvest Moon! In which you build your own farm and take care of animals and hang out with townspeople. SUPER EXCITING, I know. But look at my precious sleepy cow: 
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  • Mica sent me this delightful link in which people review the cats they meet on the street! MY PEOPLE!! (Coincidentally, I was late getting home on Sunday night because I'd spotted Calico Pinky and just had to see if she would come up to me. Spoiler: SHE DID, and I got lots of meows and bumps. <3)

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  • My most recent allergy attack made me really curious about what exactly I'm allergic to, since I've only ever been told that I have "seasonal allergies." So on Thursday, I got allergy tested, and yes, it was a highlight of the week because I thought it was so cool! (Also, I'm insane!) I got a skin test, so I was pricked with 40 different allergens (not fun, but fascinating), and it turns out I'm allergic to a bunch of "typical" stuff (birch, dust, etc.)... and dogs! But not cats! Oh happy day! Since I've had allergic symptoms around cats before, though, the doctor actually encouraged me to pet cats and monitor my symptoms! DON'T MIND IF I DO. I also learned that certain raw fruits and veggies make my throat super itchy because they trigger my birch allergy! (So, not a food allergy in its own right, but related to my "seasonal" allergies.) How wild!
  • The Mighty Ducks (one and two!) were on again this week, and I could not resist watching... and trying to make sense of my childhood love of Adam Banks. I'm usually all about the dark-haired losers over the blonde rich kids (Jess > Logan, for instance), so this is a real conundrum. Maybe I was wooed by his insecurities in D2 (stressed about scouts! wanting to impress his dad! playing through pain!). He's not just a rich kid, he's a rich kid with problems. And he legit cries a single tear when Gordon won't let him play through his injury. Such emotional depth! What's not to love? β€οΈπŸ˜‚ 
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Hope you have a great weekend! xo