Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry (Belated) Insta-Christmas

I had the best intentions of being a better blogger over the holidays, but the minute I got home and saw my family, that went out the window.  And I'm totally ok with that.  Our time here in Houston has been beyond wonderful.  I've been so cozy and content, that I've broken out Cameron just once, instead relying on my much easier to tote iPhone. Here are a few of my favorite snaps from the past week.

Picnik21. Getting into the Santa spirit after meeting friends for drinks at DOC Wine Bar. 2. My holiday manicure.  I cannot get enough of OPIs Rainbow Connection; it is the perfect glitter polish!

Picnik13. Christmas cookie decorating, a family tradition. 4. A pre-Christmas visit from our friends Jesse and Steven.  Always good to see them!

Picnik45. Finally in Houston and loving the weather.  No coat needed!  PS: I picked up this sweater from Macy's on Black Friday for $20! 6. My attempt at pretty but free wrapping...campus newspaper, gold ribbon, red paper, and tiny rhinestones.  Use what you have, and make it work!

Picnik67. My parents pretty tree, ready for Santa. 8. Christmas Eve story time, The Polar Express and The Night before Christmas.

Picnik59. My sweet doggie, snuggled up in his Christmas sweater. 10. Moscow Mules in our new copper mugs (thanks Josh and Anthony!)

Picnik311. The Clark Griswald of Houston who lives near my parents.  We love this house! (PS: you can watch the video I took with my iPhone here on Youtube.  You know, in case you're still in the holiday mood.)  12. Out for yummy and close-to-impossible-to-get-in-Chicago Mexican food with my mom.

Picnik713. One of my favorite presents of the year?  Matt surprised me with a trip to Las Vegas!  We're planning to go early next spring, eeek! 14. One of Matt's presents from my parents and the hit family game this holiday, Six Word Memoirs.  It's awesome and has been our go-to activity the past few nights!

I hope you have been enjoying time with loved ones, soaking up all the special moments that this holiday season brings.  We're in Texas for a few more days, and I must admit, I'm not quite ready to leave.  I plan to spend the next few days savoring every small moment I can!  Merry (belated) Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmastime in Chicago

Last Christmas was our first year in Chicago, and since we thought we'd only be in the Windy City for a year, we soaked up all the Chicago Christmas goodness and even hosted my family for the holidays.  (See their visit here.)  This year, we're heading to Texas for the holidays, and between my crazy weekly commute and trying to use weekends to rest, we haven't done a whole lot of Christmas stuff.  So this past weekend, we grabbed two of our good friends and headed to enjoy a few of our favorite Chicago Christmas spots!

C180509We love the Christkindlmarket, and since Norma and Jerry hadn't been, we were thrilled to take them.  We also took it upon ourselves to introduce them to all our favorite market yummies, including Gluhwein, latkes, and roasted nuts.

C180512Thankfully this year's visit was much warmer than our two visits last year.  We spent much of Sunday giving thanks for the 40 degree weather and laughing thinking back to the previous year and how cold we were.

C180515We never get tired of The Bean.  Can you spot us?  (Hint: we're almost smack dab in the middle, just above and to the left of the girl with the Santa hat.)

C180517Have I mentioned how happy I am that we live here?  God is so good.

C180519We stopped to take in one of my favorite views of the city and watch the ice skaters in Millennium Park.

PC180522After taking an "extended tour" of the city (we frequently get lost when Matt plays tour guide), we stopped for dinner at Barrio.  I found out about Barrio through Gilt City last week, and since we've been in search of a good Mexican restaurant, we thought we'd give it a try.  And oh my goodness, I'm so glad we did because it was fabulous!  The food, the service, the drinks...to die for!

PC180523Norma and I's first round of drinks: the Rehab Margarita and the house sangria.

C180524So happy she's in Chicago this year :)

PC180529We did a combination of appetizers and tacos, and there wasn't one thing that disappointed.  (Though Frontera still wins out for the best ceviche in the city.)  We will definitely be back!

PC180533After dinner, we bundled up and headed to Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  It's no secret, Matt and I love this zoo (see here and here), but we hadn't yet been to see it decked out for the holidays.

PC180535It was really beautiful to see the zoo so spruced for the holidays.  And though most of the animals were already asleep for the evening, we had fun just wandering around.

PC180536I'm so grateful that we made a point to get out and experience a few of our favorite Chicago Christmas spots (and that we found a new favorite restaurant in the process!)  And of course, sharing the adventure with our friends who are new to Chicago made it even more fun.  The Christmas season can be busy and hectic, but it's the small things that make the difference!

Tomorrow Matt and I are heading to Texas to spend Christmas with my family.  I am SO excited to spend the break curled up in snuggly pajamas, lounging around my parents Christmas tree, laughing with the people I love.  Now, if we could just get there without having to make the drive.  Oh yes, you read that right...we are driving the 18 hours to Houston.  My spending freeze had lessons that extended well beyond shopping.  We just couldn't justify the $1,000 travel cost, and since Matt has a hybrid, we'll spend just a tiny fraction of that.  So we're armed with lots of snacks, caffenated beverages, and books on CD.  Let's hope we survive :)

PS: I'm guest posting over at Lindsay's blog today, sharing my Christmas Happy Lately List.  Pop over and come say hi!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ignore

Ignore

At 6:00 pm today, I gave up.  I was done.  No more energy, no more organized thoughts.  My brain was a fizzled mess.  Though I had a stack of paperwork teetering on the corner of my desk, a million student files to close, and a to do list longer than Santa's naughty list, I called it a day.  I packed up my bag, turned out my office lights, and locked my door.  I took a big sigh, acknowledged that I was leaving a ton undone, and walked out to my car.  And then, just as a got to my car, I thought, I am choosing to be done.  Choosing to ignore all the unfinished things, choosing to be okay with a mile long January to do list.  Choosing to embrace a break.  Because today, at 6:00 pm, my winter break started, and I couldn't be more thrilled.  So I'm choosing to ignore things, instead shouting "hell yeah" for two weeks of no work.  And that feeling is defiinitely worth ignoring a few things for!

PS: Have you entered the Stella & Dot giveaway?  There are just a few short hours left, and its super easy to enter.  Go go go!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ann Taylor Christmas Fun

Most of you know that last year, during the year between me completing my coursework and starting my internship, I had a blast working retail.  I stayed mum about the retailer for most of year, but when a trip to New York came about, I spilled the beans.  I loved my year working for Ann Taylor, and I'm lucky enough to have a boss that lets me work seasonly if I want to.  (Weird fact about me: I love working retail on Black Friday and through the holiday season; the madness is energizing!)  I loved my year with Ann, but more than the clothes or the clients, I loved my coworkers.  They became my Chicago family, particularly since I started at the store two days after our moving truck pulled into Chicago.  Though I'm two hours away during the week, I still try to see the AT girls when I'm home on the weekends.  Two weeks ago, one of the girls hosted the store Christmas party, and it was so fun to get together and get crazy again.  It made me realize how much I miss them!

PC030455Our big happy AT family!  PS: we did a gift exchange at the party, and the gift I brought was that cute leopard cape on Kathy in the front.  I really wanted one for myself, but I showed restraint and stuck with the one :)

PC030435I'm not sure I could ever have a white Christmas tree, but Kasombra's tree was so pretty; I loved it!

PC030450Pretty sure Matt snapped this picture as my gift was "stolen" away from me.  I had initially scored a super cute bracelet, but I knew it wasn't going to last.  Someone snatched it up, which allowed me to "steal" a Starbucks gift card.  Perfect considering my recent ban on Starbucks!

PC030443Terri and Kathy, two of my very favorite people in the whole world!  My AT family has taken such good care of me, even as I've moved on to finish my Ph.D.  I am forever grateful for them and so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of women!

PS: Not sure if you remember the dress I wore in AT's runway show, but it's finally in stores (see it here).  It's been so fun to see it in the window displays and to think I wore it before anyone else!  By the way, a little birdie in New York told me that this was Demi Moore's favorite dress from the campaign she shot!

Also, DON'T FORGET TO ENTIRE MY CURRENT STELLA & DOT GIVEAWAY!  You could win the fabulous "On the Mark" necklace for taking about ten seconds out of your day to enter.  Go do it now; it'll be the perfect way to perk up your weekend!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If You Need a Laugh

Please stop whatever you are doing right now and watch this video.  I am certain you will be overcome with laughter and that your day will improve.  Trust me.  I've seen it four times and still can't stop laughing.  LOVE IT.

Ok, be honest, did that not just seriously make your day a whole lot better? :)

PS: little blonde girl at the 1:40 mark, you are adorable beyond words.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stella and Dot GIVEAWAY!

Stella and dot 21

Today I am thrilled to be hosting a delightful giveaway, and just in time for the holidays!  The fabulousness of Stella & Dot is no secret; they have taken the girly world by storm and have most of us catching our breath at our computers.  I love that they do big, bold baubles and super, sweet delicates; you simply can't go wrong.  And today, I am so excited to share a giveaway, hosted by Sara Michael, an independent stylist for Stella & Dot.

Sara is an Oklahoma based Stella & Dot stylist, whose first love is being a mom to two insanely cute little boys, Canon and Crew.  (Ya'll know I'm not exactly on the baby train, but oh my goodness, her little ones are literally the cutest kids I've ever seen!  Seriously, they're crazy adorable.)  Sara and I actually know each other from our OU Kappa days, and I have to admit, Sara has always been one of those girls that looks cute no matter what.  For reals.  When you live with 96 girls, you see it all, and I kid you not, I've never seen the girl not looking anything but adorable.  She is beautiful on the inside and out, which makes her a perfect fit for Stella & Dot.  She has been able to focus on being a mommy while still sharing her super chic style with girls everywhere.  Everytime I creep on her Facebook, I instantly want every Stella & Dot bauble!

Sara is offering one lucky Smart and Sassy with Sprinkles reader the "On the Mark" necklace, which I am obsessed with!  Simple enough for every day, yet chic enough to make a statement.  To enter...

1. Visit and like Sara's Facebook page and leave her a wall post letting her know what your favorite Stella & Dot piece is.

2. Then come back here and comment below, telling me something you like or want to see more of on my little blog.  I like to know what keeps my readers happy :)
*You must do both steps to be entered in the giveaway.

But wait, that's not all!  Anyone who orders from Sara through my online trunk show will be entered to win a pair of soiree studs. Score!  Annnnd...if you sign up to host a trunk show or be a Stella & Dot stylist through her, you get $75 in free jewelry.  (Umm, yes please!)  If you don't live in Oklahoma, don't worry, because Sara travels up to five hours outside of Edmond, Oklahoma to host shows. Five hours!  So if you're in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas and have been wanting to host a girls night, this is your perfect chance.  And you'll get free jewelry, woo hoo!

To shop with Sara, visit her Stella & Dot site and browse till your bling loving heart is content.  When you're ready to check out, you'll be prompted to create a log in.  Once you do that, it will take you to the page below, asking if you were invited to a trunk show.  Choose Allison Davis from the drop down menu, complete the rest of your check out process, and you'll instantly be entered for a chance to win a pair of soiree studs, courtesy of Sara.

Drop down instruction

I've got a few people left to shop for, and I know I'll be the favorite gift giver with anything Stella & Dot.  (And since I've been a good girl this year, I'm hoping Santa will deliver a little something Stella & Dot in my stocking!)  As soon as I can persuade Sara to head up to Chicago (a little outside her five hour range), I'm gonna host a trunk show of my own.  But until then, I'm hosting blogstyle and hoping someone very special wins this giveaway.  The "On the Mark" necklace is the perfect thing to sweeten up this holiday season!

Entries will be accepted through Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 11:59 pm.  A big thanks to Sara for hosting this fabulous giveaway and for being so dang chic and inspiring!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Insta-Weekend

Collage1*Waking up Friday to the first snow of the season.  Hello Midwest winter, do be kind, please :)
*My favorite kind of weekend outfit: a tunic, leggings, and my favorite leather jacket.

Collage2*Manicure of the week: OPI's Not Like the Movies.
*We tried a new BBQ spot this weekend.  I was hopeful at first, but when the owners said they weren't from Texas, I was skeptical.  When I asked for ranch, and they said, "We don't have any ranch," I knew the place was a miss.  But the fried pickle spears?  They were pretty dang good :)

Collage3*So happy I have a husband who can cook.  And who looks cute doing it :)
*A Starbucks stop during our Saturday Christmas shopping.  Thanks to a gift card from my sister in law, Matt and I were able to enjoy our holiday favorites guilt free.  (Thanks Julie!)

Collage4*Saturday night we went Christmas party, and I wanted to look festive, but not too overdone.  I was smitten with this party dress+motorcycle jacket combo.  And the big earrings, a given for this Texas girl.  PS: wondering why I have an oatmeal canister in my bathroom?  You can read about that here.
*These were an Ann Taylor holiday purchase from last year, and I am so glad I snagged them.  They're over the top sparkly and the perfect addition to any outfit this time of year.

So what's the latest and greatest with you?  How was your weekend?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Happenings

IMG 0249

Hey there...sorry for the quiet around these parts.  It's almost the end of the semester, which for college students, means its crazy time.  And for anyone that works with college students...crazy time.  So I've been working late and attempting to be productive in the few hours between work and bed.  It's left me feeling a little bit shredded, but luckily this weekend was fairly quiet and peaceful.  Here's a little bit of what I enjoyed this weekend...

Taking Friday off work for dentist and doctors appointments, which aren't fun, but since they allowed me an extra day at home with Matt, I can't complain...
Watching a pretty good Netflix thriller...
Snuggling up under a magic blanket with the fireplace snapping...
Indulging in my favorite five year old cereal, Lucky Charms, and purposefully saving a spoonful of marshmallows till the end...
Deep cleaning our house for six hours on Saturday...
(Did I mention we have a one bed/one bath?!)...
Spending an afternoon at Savers scoring some pretty fabulous thrift finds...
Trying a new-to-me OPI color and loving it...
(Though I can't decide what color it really is)...
Listening to Pandora Christmas nonstop...
Celebrating the holiday season with my AT girls (pictures to come soon)...
Scoring big during the gift exchange with a Starbucks gift card...
(Perfect considering Freeze Lesson number 3)...
Finally renting Water for Elephants after reading the book this summer...
(Does Reese Witherspoon ever age?!)...
Solidifying details for an upcoming giveaway...
Whipping up a quick and easy "throw together" dinner inspired by these yummies...
Treating ourselves to after dinner ice cream treats and remembering how much I love Drumsticks...
Talking about Christmas plans and realizing we'll be leaving for Texas in just two and a half weeks, eeek!

What were you up to this weekend?  Do tell :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Insta-Sprinkles

Instagram11. Flowers delivered to my office two weeks ago with a note from Matt reading "Congratulations Dr."  He's definitely a keeper :) 2. Thrifted silk top with my new favorite Loft scarf {available here} 3. White bean and chicken chili {recipe here} 4. It's almost winter in Chicago, which means a trip to stock up on firewood.  Dear Winter, please be kind.

Instagram2One of my favorite nooks in our house, ready for dinner with friends, and complete with a dinner menu for the night {apple cinnamon cake recipe here} 6. A movie date with Harry, Hermione, and Ron. 7. Nerd alert: I got in the spirit by wearing authentic Harry Potter glasses, courtesy of dollar store sunglasses with the lenses popped out.  I'm mature, I promise. 8. Homemade smores treats, so yummy!

Instagram39. Our office hosted Operation Beautiful last week on campus, and this was one of my favorite messages given out to students. 10. A trip to the dentist, aka the most horrible place on Earth! 11. Baklava at a local Greek restaurant. 12. Cute turkey cookie for the few staff members who worked through most of Thanksgiving break.  Almost too cute to eat.  Almost :)

Instgram413. Our first fire of the season! 14. Last weekend, Matt and I drove to Ohio to be with my grandmother as she had heart surgery, and we had the most amazing salad ever at Northstar Cafe.  (She is doing better now FYI!) 15. My fabulous Black Friday purchase from Talbots.  I don't know why this gold puffy vest spoke to me, but it did, and I love it.  I feel like Missy Elliott in Supa Dupa Fly meets Real Housewives of Orange County lol. (PS: Don't lie, that Missy video is an old school classic and you're secretly going to jam out all day at your desk.) 16. Pandora Christmas, a permanent fixture in my office and house for the next 27 days.  Heck yes.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Snaps

I wasn't very diligent with picture taking on Thanksgiving, as I had my mind on other important things (i.e. mashed potatoes, returning for a second helping of pie, etc.), but nonetheless, I managed to snap a few pictures of our day.

B240430Our lovely Thanksgiving hostess, two years in a row (see last year here).  Terri was one of my bosses at AT, and she and her family have been so good to Matt and I since we've been in Chicago.  They have hosted us for almost every holiday since we've been here, including two Thanksgivings, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and Easter.  I told you they were wonderful.  And Terri's cooking?  Oh my goodness, it's insane.

IMG 0231Quick pic of my Thanksgiving outfit, which had two requirements: stretchy pants and a top that will conceal 13 helpings of mashed potatoes.  PS: A few weeks ago, I was craving some oversized, chunky sweaters, and as a Texan, I had only two in my closet.  So I snagged this one during Loft's Friends and Family sale a few weeks ago.  (It was one of the four items I mentioned in my recent spending freeze post.)  And I couldn't be happier with the almost-Snuggie-but-still-a-little-chic oversized look.  Mashed potatoes here I come :)

Sweater: Ann Taylor Loft {here}
Leggings: Ann Taylor
Brooch: vintage from my grandma
Tee: the Gap
Ring: David Yurman

B240426Closeup of my greyhound brooch and my mixed metallic manicure (OPI Glitzerland and Ulta Chic Peek).

B240432A very festive table with a few plates already missing, let the feast begin!

B240429Getting to spend life with this guy is a big reason I am thankful, this week and always.

How was your Thanksgiving?  If you did a Thanksgiving post, please leave a link in the comment section so I can come take a peek at your celebration!  Tomorrow it's back to work, and I have a feeling this week is going to feel crazy long after having a few days off.  But I'm counting down, because the Christmas season is here, and I get to see my family in less than a month.  Eeek, I can't wait!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

Gather{via Amanda Catherine Designs}

We just arrived home from a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.  Matt and I stayed in Chicago this year, so though we were apart from our families, we were so blessed to share a table with dear friends who have become our sort of adopted family here.  We left with full bellies and grateful hearts, for we are so very blessed.  Here are a few of the things I'm giving thanks for this special day...

a husband that loves me...
parents who support me...
a brother that inspires me...
a job that fulfills me...
friends that get me...
a home that protects me...
students that challenge me...
a chicago family that has adopted me...
a church that nourishes me...
a blog that expresses me...
men and women fighting to defend freedom for me...
a fireplace that warms me...
extended family who care for me...
a spending freeze that saved me...
stretchy pants that forgive me...

Today and everyday, I strive to be thankful.  I have so much love in my life, so many blessings around me, and I am grateful for a day that reminds me to focus diligently on these.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.  May we all continue to be thankful this week and always.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Lately List

Peppermint{via pinterest}

Today I am excited to be sharing Shelby's Happy Lately List with yall!  (And if I can add just one little happy lately fact for me, it's that I am heading back to Chicago late this afternoon for four whole days with Matt, woo hoo!) Ok, enough of me, on to Shelby :)

Bringing out my fun leather bomber jacket for fall...
Using the fireplace finally! (love that I can start a fire by flipping a switch!)...
Country Music Awards last week – love listening to Brad, Carrie, Kenny and Jason...
Thinking of Christmas ideas, gifts, and d├ęcor inspiration via pinterest...
Peppermint hot chocolate in red cups...
The heart of college football season! Go Ducks!...
Psalm 118:24...
Getting recognized for hard efforts at work...
Rediscovering necklaces and bracelets that have been in serious hibernation in my jewelry box...
Knit scarves and boots...
Fun sparkly manicures...
Surprise date night from husband...

Remember, if you want your Happy Lately List featured on this here blog, just shoot me an email, and we'll make it happen.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and whatever table you're gathered around this year, may it be full of conversation, laughter, and of love.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The September Spending Freeze: Lessons Learned

Creditcard{via pinterest}

It's been a month and a half since the end of my September Spending Freeze.  My month of "no spending" came and went, and since that last day in September, I haven't talked too much about what I gained from the Freeze.  However, I haven't forgotten the Freeze, or the lessons I learned along the way.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  I've been doing a lot of thinking, some of which was prompted by a friend's question of "So now that September is over, are you just going to go back to spending like you used to?"  My initial answer, "Of course not," was soon followed with some self-reflection about what would change following my month of no spending.  I realized I needed to redefine my spending style, nailing down what needs continued attention and effort when it comes to spending.  So here are the highlights of my Freeze, as well as the biggest lessons learned along the way.

1. I spend entirely too much on clothes. This is without a doubt, the biggest and most uncessary source of spending in my life.  I won't act totally surprised, I knew I was shopping a bit more than I should have been, but when I crunched the numbers and saw just how much I was spending, I was astonished.  It was literally sickening to see how much I was spending on clothes and accessories.  I wish I could pretend it was a top here, a dress there, and a cute scarf every now and then.  But it wasn't.  It was out of control.  This part of my spending absolutely has to change.  I cannot claim to be a responsible adult and continue to spend so much of our income on clothes.  I can't, and I won't.

2. I don't wear the things I love nearly enough. One day in September, I wore one of my very favorite things to work (hint: this orange sweater.)  By 10:00 am, I'd gotten more than a handful of comments about the sweater and how great it looked, followed by a comment from one of my coworkers, "Is that new?"  "Nope," I replied.  "I've had it for a while."  The minute the words left my lips, I realized something.  This is one of my very favorite things from my closet, yet I've worn it one time in six weeks (and still haven't worn it since).  How is that possible?  I realized it's because I have a lot that I love hanging in my closet, so much so that I only wear it once or twice a season.  And I realized how insane this was.  Why buy another gold statement necklace when I don't wear the three I have nearly enough?  Why look for a second leopard button up when I've only worn the one I love twice this fall?  Somewhere along the way, we've gotten the message that new is better, and it's simply not true.  I need to wear what I love and if that's not happening, then I need to get real with myself and realize it's because I have entirely too much.

3. $5 lattes are insane. This lesson isn't a shocker, and I'm betting most of you learned this long ago.  I did too, really, but I pushed it aside, trying to convince myself it was okay.  It's not, not for me anyway.  I'm sitting on a giant pile of Ph.D student debt, and its insane to be shelling out $25 a week on coffee.  (Sidenote, that's $100 a month; $1200 a year.  On coffee!)  That is just crazy, crazy, crazy, and I can't do it.  I've left myself a little bit of room by allowing Starbucks when we travel and some Monday mornings when I make the two hour commute back from Chicago, but that's pretty much it.  Until my next trip, goodbye grande soy sugar-free caramel latte.

4. Preparing for the grocery store and being a bit more flexible can save me a lot. I've mentioned my awe for the extreme couponers before.  Getting all those goodies for close to free, who wouldn't be impressed?  And while I don't take near as an extreme approach, I have learned the value of grocery deals and steals as well as how to shop with an eagle eye.  Since we don't get a Sunday paper, I skip on clipping coupons, and instead use the online program offered by Dominicks.  By using a combination of their digital coupons, personalized offers, and deal matches, Matt and I have been able to save 25-50% on our grocery visits.  Not bad for an extra 30 minutes of prep work before a trip to the store and some extra diligence while shopping the aisles.

5. Accountability is key. The dedicated work out people and the bible study regulars have known the value of this lesson for a long time, so I'm clearly a slowpoke for just now catching on.  It's true; having people know your goals helps you stick to them.  Plain and simple.  When I wanted to cheat, I thought about this blog and the people who knew about my challenge.  That snapped me back real quick.  Enlist the support of people close to you: friends, family, coworkers, etc.  You'll be surprised how much it helps.

6. The ordinary can become extraordinary with just a few details. The no dining out rule was a bit challenging for us, especially living in such a fun foodie city.  I like the experience of dining out, the atmosphere, the music, the fun cocktails, the ability to try new things.  And while these are all fabulous at restaurants, they're also fabulous at home.  A Sunday lunch at home is suddenly spruced up when you pack it in a basket and take it across the street to the park,  An easy at home pasta is a bit more fancy with candlesticks and a bottle of wine (even if it is 2 buck Chuck.)  We've got the ability to make things more special; it just takes a bit more tweaking.  Read more about the power of recreating here.

7. Wanting something does not mean I need something. Nor does it mean I deserve it.  I had this little ephinany halfway through the freeze, and its one of the most powerful things to come out of my spending freeze.  There is a big difference between my wants and needs.  I have to remind myself of this on a weekly basis, and whenever I'm feeling particularly entitled, I reread this.  Major lightbulb moment for me.

Now let me be clear that in no way am I all of a sudden a spending expert.  Even with these lessons, I still find myself wandering into stores, tempted beyond belief.  And while I've gotten better at handling that temptation, I'm not perfect.  Since the Freeze, I've purchased 4 articles of clothing, and though I tried to reason myself out of buying those pieces, I didn't quite succeed.  But I'm getting better, one temptation at a time.  Each time I say no to myself, to Starbucks, to my online email offers, I can feel myself getting a little a bit stronger.  Another thing that's gotten stronger?  Our bank account.  The freeze and the lessons learned have drastically changed our spending and in turn, our bank account.  We're still sitting on a big old pile of Ph.D debt, and that will take us years to work through.  But we're plugging away, doing much better than before.  And that would not have happened without the Freeze.  If you are at all wanting to take a look at or revamp your spending style, I highly suggest doing a spending freeze.  I promise, if you stick with it, it will change how you spend and how you see your bank account.

So for those of you who participated in the Freeze, what did you learn?  And for those of you who didn't, do you think you would learn anything from a month of essential only spending?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dissertation Celebration Part 2: OU

I'm back with the second part of my disseration celebration weekend.  And before I get going, I want to express another big thank you to yall for your kind words of support and congratulations.  Defending felt awesome, but getting cheers and virtual high fives from your blogger friends, well, that makes me feel even better :)

B040350As I mentioned in my last post, the timing of my defense was quite crafty.  I knew Dad's Day Weekend at OU was the first weekend in November, and ever since I was a student there, my whole family would come up for both Dad's Day and Mom's Day.  So now that my little brother is an official Sooner, I thought I'd get in on the family tradition and crash the visit.  And I'm so glad I did.  Seeing Ryan in his new environment was beyond delightful.  He seemed so grown up, so calm, and so well adjusted.  My brother is lightyears ahead of where I was at that age, and I'm so very proud of him.

B040366Whenever I visit Norman, I always make a point to stop by and see my old boss, Andy.  He recruited me to be a Sooner and later recruited me to work in his office.  He was a huge influence on my years at OU, and I can't pass up a chance to stop by and see him and the rest of the PSS gang.

B040353Nothing making me happier than walking on campus, with my family, preparing for the craziness of gameday.  Seriously, there are few things in life that measure up to that feeling.

B040376When Matt and I first started dating, I always thought it was a little weird that he didn't know my OU world.  The craziness, the magic...I was a little nervous he wouldn't be able to get just how much this place means to me.  But after his first visit two years ago, he quickly caught on, and it's so fun to have him share the OU experience not just with me, but also with Ryan.

B050386As we were walking through campus, Matt scurried ahead to snap this pic.  Oh how he loves Cameron :)

B050403Gameday started off early Saturday with a trip to my little brother's fraternity house for a Dad's Day BBQ and then to campus corner for some tailgaiting.  And there's no one I like tailgating with more than this crazy girl.  Jacque is one of my dearest friends from college, and I don't get to see her nearly enough!

B050402I also got to see little Kelby, one of my sweet KKG sisters.  You know those people you haven't seen in years, and when you hug them, you literally think, "Omg, its SO good to see you!"  Kelby is one of those people.

B050404And of course, we had to be those girls...representing our old school Kappa love :)

B050392It's official.  My life would be boring and sad without this guy.  I'm certain of it.

B050399Family pic and definite Christmas card contender.  Since we're all rarely together, getting a family picture was my mom's main goal of the weekend.

B050407Gametime woohoo!  PS: it's so funny to go back through the college and see it through the eyes of a dude.  Such a diffferent experience lol.  And yes, I realize I'm not really "going back through college," but given the fact that I'm an overbearing, creepster big sister, it kinda feels like it :)

B050410A sea of crimson and cream always looks good to me.

B050411The student section was full of these reversible roll out banners with BOOMER on one side, SOONER on the other.  We entertained ourselves for a good twenty minutes coming up with different word possibilities.  This one was obvious after A&M's first touchdown.

B050420Another bonus of the trip, getting to see my dear friend Quy.  Quy and I were on homecoming court together our senior year and became quick friends.  He's now a big time VIP, advising the biggest student group on campus.  I literally could sit and talk with him all day.  Love me some Quy :)

B050401Getting to spend the weekend with my whole family in a place that means so much to me was the best end to my celebration.  My love for OU is pretty insane, but now that Ryan is there, it's even crazier.  I miss the little dude so much, and I'm already counting down the days till Christmas when we'll get to see each other next.

So now that the celebrating is over, I'm working to crank out the final edits and official copyedit stuff.  I can't believe I'm so close to being D-O-N-E with the craziness that has been this Ph.D journey!  PS: I hope everyone is getting to enjoy a short week, with Thanksgiving on Thursday.  Most students are gone, which means I can finally tackle the mound of paperwork sitting on my desk.  Have a wonderful week, friends!