Friday, August 28, 2015

TGIF, time to RELAX!

TGIF, Y'all! I feel like this week has flown by!

Vera Bradley Purchases

A few months ago I got a travel jewelry case from Vera Bradley. I've always had some kind of travel jewelry bag, but I was starting to out grow the one I used most often/it wasn't really designed for bangle-like bracelets. It didn't have a lot of give. Enter: the perfect jewelry case from Vera Bradley.
Since then I've also been admiring the travel hanging organizers for quick weekend trips, or really anytime that we travel. Because honestly my suitcase usually consists of at least two small makeup cases, along with all of my other toiletries scattered throughout my suitcase, and me praying they don't all open up. I first saw their hanging organizer in the outlet store around here, but there weren't any patterns I loved, so I just couldn't justify getting something that I thought I needed but didn't really like, knowing I'd find a way to replace it sooner rather than later. Well, as we were gearing up for this vacation, I thought I'd give their website a quick look and boy did I luck out! The pattern that my jewelry organizer is (which I love!) is being discontinued so the whole line of it is on sale, plus last week Vera Bradley was celebrating its anniversary and the entire site was 25% off, and - my favorite part - free shipping. So I miiiight have broken my spending freeze, but I am now the proud owner of the cutest travel organizer I have ever seen!

State Fair

We went to the state fair last night and it was so fun! Admittedly, I had never been to the state fair, only the county fair, and needless to say, I had no idea what to expect. The entire expo center was full of the most random vendors, and then the outside was exactly what I would expect for a fair - rides, all of the fried food you can imagine, and silly games. I indulged in a bloomin' onion, and I am pretty sure I shouldn't eat for the next three days because of all of the calories! Have y'all ever been to your state's fair?

Selling Back Books

I shared a few weeks ago the many ways you can save money when you're buying text books. But, another one of my personal favorite "savers" is to sell back any books that I no longer need. You can go about this in a couple of ways. School bookstores will usually buy back your books, but not for a whole lot. Amazon also has a great deal where you can send in your books (free shipping) and receive an Amazon gift card for the balance. Both of these are great because the money is guaranteed and you're not waiting for someone to actually buy it. However, sometimes the amount they are willing to pay is quite low and you tend to feel like its not really worth it. That was the case for a few of my more recent books (because apparently tax law books are worthless?). Then I noticed Amazon gave me the option to list my books for sale on my own, and I thought  I'd give it a shot. Within two weeks I'd sold all five of the books I had listed, and I am getting a direct payment to my checking account! So if you're like me and have any law  or other text books laying around, or really any kind of books that you're looking to get out of the way, I would highly suggest checking out this option!

Dinner with my Big!

My Big in my sorority lives about an hour away from me now, but I haven't seen her since we accidentally ran into each other at Keeneland in the spring. She texted me earlier this week to see if I wanted to come up for her birthday dinner and I was so excited to get a chance to see her! Going to a small school where everyone kind of spreads back out after graduation can be tough, and we are lucky to be so close to each other, so I'm trying to make more of an effort to hang out with people that I can see more easily than others. I'm not sure where we're going yet, but I am really looking forward to it!

Wedding Plans

Earlier this week I mentioned some of the concerns I was having about the fact that we were having a wedding in the middle of winter. While there are still some things I am trying to sort out and envision to fit in with a winter wedding, I am so excited about all of the progress we are making! We have finally selected our band, caterer, and hired a wedding planner to help with the remainder of the decisions, as well as coordinate on the day of. Let me tell you, knowing that someone else will be the point person and that I can honestly trust her and enjoy that day was a huge relief. My mom met with her and said she was great, and I am meeting with her in a few weeks and cannot wait to share all of my ideas and hear her suggestions on how to make it all come together!

How has your week been? Do y'all have any big plans?

Have a great weekend, y'all! 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Get Your Skimm On!

It's fun, it's witty, and it's quick. What more could you ask for? Oh, and it's free!

I've mentioned it before, and I'll mention it again. Y'all, if you're not reading the Skimm in the morning (or whenever you wake up), you are missing out. I think one of the best things about the Skimm is that you only receive ONE email per day, and only on weekdays. As most of you do, I feel like my inbox is constantly flooded with more or less spam emails from various companies. I was a little hesitant about voluntarily adding another one to the list. But this is different, it is not intrusive, and unlike most of those other emails, I actually read this one! Ha!

In hopes to spark your interest a little more, here are some of my favorite stories from the last week or so. // These snippets come with the disclaimer that the Skimm reports on the good and the bad, but I didn't see any reason to rehash the bad news for the purpose of persuading you :)  //
the Skimm 

Every Skimm starts with a Quote of the Day and they are almost always funny, and on a lighter note than a lot of the news for the day. And it always leaves me wanting to read more into what was actually happening. (any of the green text in the Skimm is a link to a longer article, or articles about that particular piece of news)
the Skimm 
This was so exciting because I am recently obsessed with Amy Schumer and JLaw is a Kentucky girl! What better combination could there be!

the Skimm 
I am finally starting to have more time to read for pleasure now that I am out of school, but since it has been so long, I am constantly looking for recommendations. Sometime in the early spring (late winter?) one of the "Skimm Reads" was a book called Big Little Lies, and I took a chance to pick it up for the beach and it was so good! I am sure the others will not disappoint and I am looking forward to taking a few more suggestions from the Skimm.

the Skimm 
 With the impending election, the Skimm has taken on interviewing all of the candidates and it has been quite enjoyable. I mean y'all, the republican candidates are currently in double digits. I cannot imagine trying to track down the relevant information about every single one of them to really understand their platform and plan. Enter - "Skimm Your Candidate." Plus, apparently most of them don't hit the snooze button, who knew?
the Skimm 
This is just another example of the broad, and random (but relevant!) news you'll be presented with. I honestly feel like I have zero time in the morning to watch or read the news and the Skimm works as a perfect supplement to my need to know what's going on in the world. Plus, its a bonus when I can tell my friends or family something interesting that I read and that they haven't even heard about yet because we are all. so. busy.

Do you Skimm?

Have a great day, y'all! It's almost Friday!!

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Wednesday Showcase

Friday, August 7, 2015

TGIF, Back to Work

I have officially been back at work for a week and I am honestly so glad. My boss was generous enough to give me a full month of to study for the bar, so it has been a while since I've been at the office, but it has been a pretty seamless transition getting back into my work schedule. Although, it has made for a longggg week. How has your week been?

one - getting organized

I may end up doing a full post on this later, but I just wanted to share with y'all a quick before & after of my bathroom. As I mentioned last week, I have officially moved out of my apartment and moved in with my fiancĂ©. I already had quite a few things here, so adding everything that was also at my apartment made for a lot of stuff. Getting organized is one of my favorite things (I know, weird), so aside from the time that it takes I've been really enjoying getting settled and giving everything a place. The bathroom is always a big struggle for me because I like to think that I need almost everything everyday. Obviously, that's not true. As you can see in the pictures below, I made an effort to keep a clear counter because I think that makes the biggest difference - kind of like how making the bed seems to make your bedroom look 10x cleaner. It's only been about a week, but I've been good so far about making sure it still looks this way, hopefully I can keep it up! 

two - relax

Last weekend we spent almost all day Saturday at the pool and it was so nice. I spent a lot of Thursday and Friday finishing up my move, so Saturday was the first day all summer that we were finally able to just lay by the pool and not feel guilty at all! I am looking forward to a few more weekends spending the days by the pool while it's still open.

three - Fitbit Challenge

I did my best to stay active while studying all summer, and I think I did a pretty decent job. We were in the habit of working out every morning before we went to class or started studying so that we wouldn't have any excuses. Most of my friends, on the other hand, became rather sedentary. I get it, we all deal with stress differently, and I personally feel better when I can work out, but I realize thats not the case for everyone. Anyways, we're all back and active and in a "Workweek Hustle" challenge this week and it is all I can do to keep up! I've been getting 10,000 to 12,000 steps each day and I am still barely between 2nd and 3rd place. It is so nice to have this kind of competition though because it keeps us all very active and accountable!

four - the Skimm

I've mentioned it before and I'm sure I'll mention it again, but y'all. the Skimm is one of the greatest discoveries I ever made. It is a quick, free, and easy way to catch up on the most recent and pressing news around the country. I have never had the patience to read a newspaper for more than twenty minutes, and I am very guilty of just skipping the parts that don't seem interesting to me, which is pretty much everything. Ooops. But, with the Skimm I can get everything I need to know in under five minutes and in language that makes sense to me! Plus, right now they've got a series going with interviews of all of the presidential candidates. This has been really helpful especially since there are like a million to keep track of. If you have any of the same issues, but want to stay informed, I would highly recommend signing up for the Skimm. It comes to your inbox around 6:30am every weekday and that's it. No emails on the weekend, no extra afternoon emails, just plain and simple, once a day. You can either click here, or on the button on the side. Skimm on!

five - Ruth's Chris

We're going to Ruth's Chris for dinner tonight and I cannot wait! The food is SO good, the cocktails are always a lot of fun, and in Louisville its at the very top of a building so you can see the entire city while you're dining. I'm still trying to decide what I can wear that will give me enough room to breathe when we're done! What are your weekend plans?

Have a Great Weekend, y'all!!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How to Save Money on Textbooks

As school is starting back, for the first time in 20 years* I am not going to be sitting in a classroom on a daily basis. This is such a bitter-sweet feeling, it is so nice knowing that I will not have homework every night, but work is obviously a much bigger responsibility than just going to class everyday. Not to say that class isn't important! One thing I know I will not miss is having to buy hundreds of dollars of books every semester. Luckily in all my years of school, I essentially became a professional student, and with that came a lot of experience in buying textbooks and trying to get the best deal. Here are some of the ways that I managed to save money every semester when the time came to buy books -

Personal Preferences to Consider:

1. When do you need these books? 

The amount of time you need for shipping can limit your choices on where you purchase your books. Don't forget that some classes will have assigned reading before the first day of school, so you might need to build in a few days before the actual first day of class. On the other hand, if you have a friend in the class who would let you borrow her book for one assignment, you might have a few extra days.

2. Are you willing to purchase a used book? 

If so, consider just how used you can live with. There are great variances in highlighting and notes from book to book.
If not, consider that some used books look new because the previous owner didn't make any markings, but they are still technically used.
I tend to prefer new to slightly-used just because I like to organize my thoughts (and my books) in my own way. However, with careful selection I've purchased many used books without any real issues.

3. Would you rather rent or purchase? 

This is something that can be decided on a book-to-book, class-to-class basis, but is something to consider, especially if the resale value is likely to be very low.

Comparing Prices

The (obvious?) first step is to realize that you should be comparing prices across multiple sources. What looks like a good deal, might pale in comparison you can find somewhere else. But - keep in mind that a lot of third party sellers (i.e. not Amazon or Barnes & Noble) will have shipping costs as well, so make sure you calculate that into the total price/book.
As far as where to look - here are my personal preferences, and what I've found to be the most cost-effective over the years.

Amazon is always the first place I look. I mean, lets be honest, there are very few things that you can't find on Amazon. Plus, it is so easy to throw things in your cart for later so that you can keep track of everything in one place. Another major factor in my obsession with Amazon is my Prime membership. If you are a student, you can get Prime for half the regular price - and it is well worth it in my opinion. Especially when it comes to ordering textbooks because shipping can be so expensive, AND with Prime you can usually get your books with FREE 2-day shipping, which is great for the peace of mind. Amazon also gives you the ability to buy used books from other sells - again convenient because you can mix and match new and used depending on your preference, just be sure you are paying attention to the "Condition" of the used books.
There are of course some downsides to Amazon - 2-day shipping is obviously fast, but if you need your books within the next day, it might not be soon enough and it is a steep increase from free 2-day, to "Next-Day." Not to mention that if you go the used route, you aren't actually going to have a chance to inspect the books before you buy - this will depend on your personal preference and how comfortable you are with that. is eBay's book website. It's fairly easy to use, and like Amazon's used section, divides the books up based on the "Condition" indicated by the seller. I have found some great deals on, but then for whatever reason, some books will be priced at the same or more than a brand new one. The biggest catch here is the shipping - there's just no way around it. And unless you get lucky, all of your books are likely to come from different sellers, which means you could end up paying a lot in shipping.

Buy from Other Students at Your School
This option will greatly depend on your school and what kind of classes you'll be taking. When I was in undergrad at Furman there was a website just for us where we could buy and sell books among other Furman students. (Not sure if that's still a thing anymore.) In law school we have a Facebook group for each class, generally used for class specific or school-wide announcements. At the beginning and end of each year, it is flooded with offers to buy or sell certain books for the upcoming year/semester. The convenience factor here is hard to beat, usually students would just plan on a time to meet-up and make the exchange. I did this on a few occasions and, like I said, very convenient. Plus, at least at our school, that generally meant you would have the same professor as the student selling the book and it gives you a chance to find out a little more about the class. The obvious negative here is that the books are used, but that doesn't necessarily mean they've been written all over or highlighted on every page. I've also found this to be a very cost efficient purchase because the selling student usually just wants to get it off his hands and out of the way, hoping to make some money in the process, but without the hassle of shipping.

School Bookstore
I remember my first semester as a Freshman going to the school's bookstore because I didn't know what else I was supposed to do. I later (next semester) learned that on-line book purchases were the way to go in order to save some money. However, that was almost ten years ago (y'all, I'm getting old), and a lot has changed since then. Bookstores quickly saw a decline in their sales and the prices have become much more comparable to their on-line counterparts. My first semester in law school I purchased about half of my books from the school bookstore because there were a lot of new editions on our list, which meant there wasn't really a used market yet. In that case, it made sense for me to go to the bookstore because I was going to be paying the same new price and I could have my books instantly. If you're going the used route - or at least willing to - the school bookstore is a great idea because you have the ability to flip through the books on the shelf to see if the markings in the books are something you can live with.

Nine times out of ten, renting is going to cost less upfront. However, if you think you want to rent, keep in mind there are a lot of restrictions that can come with it. There are almost always rules on how much you can write in it, if at all, and a certain date that you will have to return it by. Usually the return date isn't an issue, but when you are in graduate school and the dates are based on undergraduate classes, occasionally the book is supposed to be returned before you even take the exam. Another issue with renting is that at the end of the semester you have to return the book. I know, duh. But, what I mean is, you don't even have the option to sell it back if you wanted to. Last fall I bought one of my books for around $150, and resold it for $145, whereas if I'd rented it would have been $80 upfront, and no resale. I understand its a risk to assume you'd be able to sell it back, and generally the return isn't that good, but it can be just as risky not giving yourself the chance to sell it back.
One very important thing to keep in mind if you are considering renting is whether or not you will need the book for the entire year. In law school especially, there are a lot of classes in the first year that last for the full year over both semesters. When you choose to rent a book it is on a semester by semester basis, which means you'd actually have to rent it twice, which is likely to cost just as much as buying the book in the first place.

Set Up an Excel Sheet (or not)

{Disregard if you're not as organizationally obsessed as I am} After you've looked at some of the options above (and anywhere else you come across), you should make some kind of chart. I liked to have all of the books listed in an Excel spreadsheet, with a column for each store/website. Then all you have to do is fill in the prices for each book at each place and you can quickly compare who as the best deals.
This can also serve as a sort of checklist for you to make sure that you've purchased all of the required books. I've found the hardest part about finding the best deal is making sure that some of the books don't fall through the cracks because I didn't knock out the whole list at one place.
Here is the spreadsheet I made for my 1L semester. As you can see I listed the ISBN numbers, rather than the name of the book since that is more reliable when you are going from website to website, or store to store. I honestly can't remember what the colors/bold represented. I think the red meant that it was required, and that the bold numbers meant that was the one I'd ordered. Either way, some kind of system like that is very helpful. I also printed this when I went to the bookstore just so that I could remember what the prices were elsewhere.

BUY your Books 

Choose One or Two Sources

When you're deciding where to buy your books, I would narrow it down to one or two places, unless there just happens to be a really great deal on a certain book somewhere else. Narrowing it down to one or two might mean you end up paying $5 or $10 more, but when all of your books are delivered in just a couple of shipments, rather than 8 different ones, it is much easier to keep track of the books you've received and the books that are still in transit, or that still need to be ordered. Another benefit to ordering just from one or two places is that you minimize shipping costs - in case you can't tell I really hate shipping and will look for any reason to not pay for it if I don't have to. 

Make Your Decision 

After you've had time to explore your options - and maybe organize them - just go ahead and place the order/contact the seller. I know the prices on Amazon tend to fluctuate on a daily basis, and its always possible a new book will be added to the used marketplaces. But, if you wait more than a day or two - especially if you are buying used - the books might not be available anymore, or only at a higher price. You'll also drive yourself crazy if you are constantly checking to see if the have changed at all.

I know this might seem like a lot of information, but if you are truly trying to save money when buying your textbooks, it can be a bit overwhelming to keep up with everything. If you have any more questions, I'd be happy to answer them!  Do y'all have any tried and true tips for saving money on textbooks?

Have a Great Day, Y'all! 

* I took one year off between my Masters and Law degree to work as an accountant, but otherwise I have been in school every year from the Fall of 1993 through the Spring of 2015. I told you, old. 

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wedding Wednesday, 178 days to go: Coming to Terms with a Winter Wedding

photo source

I am literally counting down the days until my wedding. I know that it is going to be the best day and I cannot wait! But, I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little (very) concerned about having a winter wedding.

As most girls do, I've been picturing my wedding day for as long as I can remember. That picture has changed with time, but it has always included all things bright and colorful. I always assumed my bridesmaids would wear pink, the guys would be in seersucker, and there would be pops of yellows and green all around and gorgeous outdoor scenery. This all still sounds like my ideal wedding, except that now I'm getting married in February. There is no colorful outdoor scenery in February. There are no bright shades of yellow in February. And there is certainly no wearing seersucker in February.

(Almost) every decision I make is very well thought out, and very intentional, and our wedding date was no exception. He proposed in November of last year, and we knew it would take at least one year to plan. We also knew that with the bar exam this summer, the months of June and July were essentially non-existent when it came to all of the checklist items. Football season also played a large part in pushing the date past the fall, and by then, I honestly knew I'd be too impatient to wait around all the way until next summer. I mean y'all, if I could have gotten married this February I probably would have. All of this to say, we chose February, but as I am getting deeper into the planning process, it is harder and harder for me to envision exactly what a February wedding is supposed to look like.

I know, I know, Pinterest is where I should be looking. But let me tell you, it is very difficult to find inspiration for a "Winter Wedding" that does not revolve around poinsettias and snowflakes. I am a warm-weather, bright-color kind of girl. There is absolutely nothing appealing to me about a snowflake motif. Although, I will say, some of the pictures of weddings I have seen in the snow are gorgeous. Like so much so, that I kind of want it to snow on my wedding day (I'm sure I'll be regretting this if we end up with another winter we had like last year). But honestly, if I'm going to endue the cold, I think at the least I deserve the pictures to prove it, right?

Obviously at this point the date is set, and by obviously, I mean we have the church and reception venue booked, so we're pretty set on the date. And y'all, I am doing my darndest to reimagine my ideal wedding, but it. is. hard. I always imagined pretty pinks and yellows, short dresses, and warm sunshine. I am now trying to imagine long flowing navy dresses, shades of green, and snow on the ground. I used to consider if I would provide guests with sunglasses, now I'm considering blankets. I used to think that fur stoles were just hmm . . . not something I was interested in, and now, I think maybe it is the only way I will stay warm, and perhaps they are actually really nice. I'm working on it. I literally have a Pinterest board called "Embracing the Cold." It will be the best day of my life, and it will be beautiful, I just don't know what it is going to look like. Yet.

How did you choose your wedding date? Was it convenient, did you want to wait until the venue was available?

Have a great day, y'all!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Motivational Monday: Sweatin' to the 90s!

Every now and then I like to have a playlist full of songs from a completely different decade. One of the main reasons I like to do this is so that (usually) it's not the same Top 40 songs I'm hearing on the radio and probably getting tired of. Here are some of my favorites from the 90s!

What is your favorite music to break out for a workout?? 

Have a great day, y'all!

check out my other playlists: 

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