Thursday, July 31, 2014


My zumba teaching sister took the summer off and in the process got me hooked on a new way to exercise. Have y'all ever heard of piyo? It is a mix of yoga and pilates in DVD format so you can exercise at your own pace at home. You don't need a ton of supplies to do piyo, although a yoga mat makes it more comfortable. The exercises are designed to use your body weight.

I'm pretty picky about DVD exercise instructors. I don't like the fake peppy, or the screaming varieties. Chalene is neither of those. She is genuinely enthusiastic and she has an adorable personality. She also has assistants demonstrate modifications throughout the whole workout sessions for a range of difficulties. You always have someone to watch, regardless of your personal abilities. That means I can watch Chalene or her more advanced assistant during the parts that rely on balance and leg strength and then switch my attention to the "easy" assistant for arm exercises.

There are a variety of work outs in the DVD set so you can pinpoint what you want to work out and for how long. The upper and lower body sections are about 20 minutes each, Buns is around 30 minutes, and Sweat is a whole 40. I haven't tried any of the others yet but let me tell you, sweat is hard. I have yet to make it through the whole thing!

Have y'all tried piyo? Melinda told me she took a class or two, but didn't care for it. As with all fitness classes, a lot of the enjoyment and effectiveness depends on the instructor. Even if you haven't fallen in love with your local piyo class, you should still check this set out. And let us know your progress! I have yet to do a whole push up with correct form. See, I wasn't kidding earlier when I mentioned the easy versions of arm exercises!

We aren't sponsored by Piyo, Chalene, or Beach Body Workout. No freebies here!

Mascara Diaries: Lancome Hypnose Drama

This round of Mascara Diaries involves a more expensive tube of mascara. I decided to use the whole tube before writing my review so our readers could get the most info before spending almost $30. Read below for my thoughts on Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara:

I wanted to love this mascara, and came very close to doing so. However, a few cons that an expensive mascara should not have held me back. Here is a list of pros and cons so you can decide if the price tag is worth it for you:

*Brush shape makes it easy to fan out those hard to reach corner lashes while also working well on the rest of your lashes
*Serious drama - the name is not a lie!
*Long lasting, eyelashes look just as great at the end of a long day
*Does not run down your face like other mascaras (example 1, example 2)

*Tube does not squeeze off enough excess mascara when removing the wand, which means super fast/running late application can get messy
*Product starts to clump in less than two months

I cannot stand clumpy mascara and I expect my high end products to last longer than two months. Sometimes you hit a rough patch with a tube of mascara, but magically the clumps stop forming after a few days so I kept trying it. I finally gave up on this mascara favor of my old tube of Colossal Volum because the clumping was getting ridiculous and showed no signs of stopping. Mascara should not have consistency issues after less than 8 weeks of use. If Maybelline can do it, so can Lancome.

That being said, you might not mind sacrificing a long life span for beautifully and dramatically fanned out lashes, regardless of the price tag. However, I will continue my hunt for the perfect eyelash drama inducing product. Check out all of our Mascara Diaries posts for the other products we have tried and loved, or in this case decided not to purchase again.

Sadly, Posh Purpose is not being sponsored by any of these brands or stores mentioned today. Melinda and I are not receiving free mascara; we are just product junkies who invest our own money and then share our findings with y'all. That being said, we will happily review any mascara sent our way! **hint hint, makeup companies**

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sur la Table Tips & Tricks for Cooking Scallops

I hope you checked out this morning's article on my recent cooking class adventure with Mr. 3 at Sur la Table.  We had the best time and really enjoyed the class!  As I mentioned earlier, Mr. 3 and I have never gotten the hang of properly cooking scallops.  We get the temperature and consistency right, BUT we can't seem to get the sear on them like they do at the fancy pants restaurants.  However, post-cooking class I feel like we will perform much better in the future!  Here's the tips and tricks we picked up cooking at Sur la Table:

1. Let your scallops come to room temperature before even thinking about cooking them in a pan.  I've heard this tip before for butter and eggs when baking and also cooking steaks, but never seafood!

2. Rinse your scallops and blot them with a paper towel to get them as dried off as possible.  This will rinse away that extra seafood-y taste and smell.

3. If you are making a crust for your scallops, dip each one into a plate of seasoning...but only on one side!  Dipping it will make sure you get a nice coat, but dredging each scallop will give you too much seasoning.

4. Make sure your pan is hot enough before you put the scallops into the pan.  The oil should shimmer a bit which will let you know the pan has reached the right temperature.  Just make sure you know the difference between shimmering oil and smoking oil.

5. Don't crowd the pan.  If you get your meat too close together it will steam the meat rather than searing it.

6. Cook the scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side.

7.  Use your fingers to test each scallop.  You want them to be firm but also spring back a bit when pushed.

8.  If you try to flip your scallops and the scallop sticks to the's not done searing!  Leave it be!  Evidently this is true for all proteins, not just scallops!  A properly seared piece of meat will release quite easily when it's ready.  This was probably the biggest tip I learned.  I usually panic that the meat is burning and proceed to (1) rip the meat up or (2) douse the pan in oil because it's sticking.

I have to say that tip #'s 1 and 8 were the biggest revelations for me!  I hope you can use these tips for your next recipe!

***This post was not sponsored by Sur la Table.  We just like to share information that makes that Posh Purpose lifestyle a bit more achievable!***

Sur la Table Cooking Class

Last week, I got an email from Sur la Table promoting its sale on cooking classes.  Mr. 3 and I have been dying to take a cooking class and even discussed finding one for our anniversary.  However, we haven't been able to find any that we felt we could afford (D.C. classes start at $70 per person for a really simple class).  I popped on over to the website and looked up the schedules for the classes near me.  I couldn't believe the prices!  $33.96 per person for a 2 hour cooking class!??!?  Not only was that cheaper than any other class I had seen in D.C, BUT it was a steal of a deal for a Sur la Table class that is usually priced at $69.  So, we skipped our usual date night at a restaurant to spend the money on this cooking class which was conveniently scheduled during dinnertime on Sunday night.

This was a first time cooking class for both of us, so we didn't know what to expect.  LUCKILY, Sur la Table makes the class both easy and informative.  We went to the Date Night: Night of Romance class at the Pentagon City location.  The menu included Spinach and Pancetta Salad with Dried Cherry and Port Dressing, Spice-Crusted Sea Scallops with Blood Orange Beurre Blanc, Smashed Roasted Garlic Fingerling Potatoes, and Vanilla Pots De Crème with Chocolate and Almonds.  Mr. 3 and I have had issues getting our scallops just right in the past so we were up for attending this class!

The kitchen set up at Sur la Table is amazing, but not quite what I expected.  Instead of each couple preparing each recipe, the cooking class is split into two groups which work as a team to create the dish.  For example, I chopped garlic while another couple sliced shallots.  Sur la Table does most of the prep work for you (i.e. measuring out the ingredients and washing all the produce)...they also do 100% of the cleaning!  

What we didn't like about our cooking class:
1. Mr. 3 wasn't a super big fan of the Buerre Blanc sauce (but that could have been because our group didn't get the temperature right when cooking the sauce orrrr the fact that a regular naval orange was substituted in because blood oranges are out of season).

2. We didn't make the dessert.  Post-sampling of the scallops and smashed potatoes, I turned around to make myself a decaf latte to go with the dessert I thought we were making.  By the time I got done, the chef had already read through the recipe for the dessert and served up a sample for us to try.  I was very disappointed because this is one of the items on the menu I have absolutely no knowledge of how to make and I was really looking forward to seeing how it was done.  I feel like this was a big let down for a cooking class!

What we liked about our cooking class: 
1. We were offered a choice of filtered water, a fruity drink using carbonated water from a Soda Stream, a latte or espresso from a Nespresso machine, or a coffee from the new Nespresso VertuoLine.

2. The chef was very helpful in explaining the process, offering tips, and taking over when things got a bit hairy in the kitchen.  We also received a packet with all the recipes to take home with us and recreate (for when you need an extra fancy pants dinner!).

3. We received a 10% off coupon for Sur la Table...which we used to pick up a few Christmas gifts!

4. We finally learned how to properly cook scallops! Check back this afternoon for the tips we picked up!

5. The end product!  We each tried a side salad, four scallops, a scoop of mashed potatoes, and a little pot de crème.  Mr. 3 was still a bit hungry afterwards, but it was plenty for me!

Overall Assessment:
I think the Sur la Table cooking class was tons of fun and worth going to, but if I had any suggestion it would be to make sure that you like ALL of the menu being served.  I had the option of another course that had a great dessert and meat, but it involved fennel which I cannot stand.  Now knowing that you may not even get to make the dessert, I would have been really upset to find out I paid to practice making an item I wouldn't want to ever eat.  Otherwise, I really enjoyed the set up of the kitchen and that we got to try several products like the Soda Stream.  If you decide to book a class, be sure to check out Ebates or Top Cash Back as you can get the classes even cheaper when you take into account the cash back that those companies offer.  I think our classes wound up being closer to $30 with Top Cash Back rebates.  Also, sign up for Sur la Table to get alerts on when they have a sale on cooking classes!

***This post was not sponsored by Sur la Table.  I simply had a great experience and wanted to share with others!***

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

I had the best day at Habitat on Saturday. The best. I also spent over $500 but got way more value. I am so excited to share what all I found, but for now things are scattered around town waiting to be consolidated into one location. To tide us over, here are some awesome things I have found in thrift stores but did not buy.

I found another one of these bent wood rocking chairs at Habitat. This one was $45 and was a bit banged up, but structurally sturdy. Mom still hasn't tried recovering hers so I can't say if it is easy or not, but for $45 you really can't go wrong.

This end table needs a lot of refinishing but the wood was heavy and the drawer was dovetailed. I think it was $25.

dovetailed drawer - always look for this!

This end table has cool lion head drawer pulls. I love great hardware! As you can see, the side is busted up so I'm not sure how many of y'all would be interested in such a project. But the price is $15. I say "is" because it was still there Saturday. I actually think its quite charming. Somebody with skills, buy it!

These vintage glass lighters were $8 each. Had it been a 50% off day at the ARC, I would have snatched them up. Unfortunately, the ladies there do not give out price cuts like they do at Habitat so I did not take them home with me.

I thought the sides of this couch were awesome. The fabric wasn't ick, but it also wasn't something I would keep. Price said $75 at the ARC, so it was definitely firm. The good thing about this store is that you can get a great deal if you risk waiting until the 50% off days, although I only suggest it if you don't absolutely love the item. It is always devastating to miss out on a great thrift store find! I still pine after a set of green demitasse cups..

Want to see more thrift store finds? We have a whole category just for that! We would love to see your finds, so feel free to share in the comments section. Or holler at us on twitter or instagram and hashtag it #ThriftStoreFinds.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ballet Flats: One Look, Two Prices

I have been hunting for a new pair of black ballet flats for the past year and a half. My favorite pair had finally given up on me, but I am way too particular to buy just any replacement shoe. I want my black ballet flats to actually look like ballet shoes as much as possible. The shoe needs to be very delicate (scrawny legs force things) and I require toe cleavage. I also don't want to spend a ton of money on a pair of flats; I would much rather save that money for a pair of awesome high heels. Hence the 18+ month search. I survived last year by wearing hot pink flats that I bought for $3 at H&M, but those weren't made to last longer than a season so it was very lucky that I found two pairs at Nordstrom that had the look I wanted.

As you can see, there is a huge price difference. I actually love the SJP flats as they are extremely similar to real ballet shoes. The finishings on this shoe are so pretty and the bow is very delicate. Plus the high quality leather is so soft and beautiful.The Louise et Cie flats are not quite as delicate, but the leather is soft and good quality. I don't like the chunkier bow as much, but I also don't mind it.

While I love the SJP flats more, the price difference was just too much. I ended up ordering the more affordable pair. And even better - they were part of the Anniversary sale for $70! I think I can survive the compromises I made for saving over $200.

I know we have been posting a lot about Nordstrom, but that is just because we love the store! We are not sponsored or compensated by Nordstrom for these posts. This post does contain affiliate links through another party. However, we would totally be open to a partnership with our favorite department store! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Beginners Sewing

Remember back at the beginning of the year when Melinda and I shared our goals for 2014? Well I finally took initiative on the creative aspect and started in a sewing class! My seamstress, and a wonderful family friend, offered to teach a beginners class for my older sister and me, plus two other ladies from town and it has been a ton of fun! Mrs. Loveless is a wonderful teacher and provides great snacks too.

 Since I have been remiss in updating y'all on my goals the past few months, I wanted to share with you a few of the projects I have completed in the sewing class. Keep in mind that I had only a little bit of experience before I started the class, and am entirely a beginner.

I made a lined tote bag, a zippered pouch, and a pillow with coordinating piping. The tote is lined in green, which you catch a glimpse of in the left corner. It also has three pockets on the inside! The matching pouch is also lined in green. Mrs. Loveless used the pouch to teach us how to sew with zippers. 

The pillow was a really exciting project because it is something I can make for my future house. Toss pillows can be so expensive! And learning how to make the piping was a big deal for me because it makes the pillow look much more professional.

I made this cute apron for my little sister since she is moving into an apartment in Atlanta in a few months (I have also been picking up kitchen goods at Habitat for her like a porcelain teapot with infuser and an angel food cake pan). Sorry about the poor picture quality, I gave it to her immediately after class and this was the only spot in her bedroom that wasn't totally covered in stuff. There is a pocket all the way through the apron between the two layers. We also learned a bit about pleats by putting one in on each side of the bottom layer.

All of these projects were challenging but doable. If you have been interested in learning how to sew, I definitely recommend it! Mrs. Loveless is already helping me think of Christmas presents that I can make for family members. And hopefully I will have a house in the near future so I can start really sewing away.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Posh Purpose Recipe: Easy Dark Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

I hope you had a chance to check out this morning's post on How to Host: An Office Baby Shower!  I have lots of good tips for having a fun and office appropriate shower.  As I mentioned in our Do's and Don'ts, ask five co-workers to each bring a treat to share at the shower.  I brought two 8 x 8 pans of raspberry brownies to put out at the shower...shhhhhhh...don't tell, but these were the easiest brownies to make...which I passed off as homemade.  Whoopsies.

Hey!  I didn't lie.  I was never directly asked if they were made from scratch.  Mostly people just told me they were delicious and I very demurely said, "Why, thank you!  Glad you enjoyed them!" know, as a Southern Lady should.  Not a single person wanted to know how I made them, thank you very much. Conscience clear.

Here's my oh-so-easy and oh-so-impressive recipe for your next future "I need it to look homemade" occasion:

Posh Purpose Dark Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

2 boxes Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie mix (Plus all the ingredients listed on the back.  I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil.)
1 jar of seedless black raspberry jam (make sure this is room temp!)

Preheat the oven and prepare the brownie mix according to the directions on the box.  Spray two 8 x 8 square pans with Pam.

Spread half the brownie mix between the two pans.  Spoon a few dollops of room temperature black raspberry jam on top of the brownie mix.  Take a fork or a knife and swirl the jam out over the brownie batter until you get a pretty even thin layer.  You are trying to avoid big clumps of jelly hanging out in the middle of the brownie (room temp is very important - the colder your jam is the harder it will be to spread).  Spread the remaining brownie batter between the two pans.

Cook as directed on the back of the brownie mix box until done.  Let cool.

To pre-cut the brownies (which I recommend for any type of group gathering), spray a butter knife with Pam and cut each pan into 12 squares.  The Pam will keep the brownies from getting all tore up as you cut.  Re-spray the knife as needed.

Makes 2 dozen.

These brownies are really decadent!  If you get your jam spread evenly, the heat of the oven will help melt it a bit so it integrates with the brownie mix.  I highly, highly recommend that you use the Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie mix.  It tastes like high grade cocoa powder aaand it has big chocolate chips added in. You can probably use other types types of jelly like strawberry or blackberry, but just make sure they are seedless!  I don't know how much easier (yet still fancy pants) you can get for a last minute (or I just don't want to dig out the KitchenAid) recipe!  Let us know if you try them out!  You're sure to get rave reviews!

***This post was not sponsored by Ghiradelli.  We simply love their products...especially dark chocolate!***

How to Host: An Office Baby Shower

At my regular 9-5, I was recently asked to help out with throwing a baby shower for a male co-worker.  In the past, the office has taken up a collection, given the parents-to-be a gift card, had some cake, and called it a day.  This time around, word on the street was that the couple needed a lot of help getting ready for the baby's arrival.  Sooooo, I put on on my party planning hat and suggested that we throw a real baby shower with some decorations and lots of  necessary, useful, and helpful gifts to open.  We usually invite the wives, so I figured if she was going to trek over in the nasty D.C. summer swamp-like conditions with only 2 weeks to go (eeks!), the least we could do was make it worthwhile.

The biggest consideration in planning an office baby shower is that your boss and male co-workers will be in attendance.  This is NOT the time for women to trade war stories about their birthing experiences.  Secondly, if you are hosting your office baby shower on company grounds/property, you probably won't be able to decorate quite as scale way back from the bajillion shower ideas you've seen floating around Pinterest!  Otherwise, here are a few of the do's and don'ts for hosting a successful office baby shower!

Posh Purpose Do's and Don'ts for Office Baby Showers  

1. DON'T play shower games.  I hate shower games to begin with, but they are usually completely inappropriate for work.  Also, while your boss may be willing to take time from the work day to celebrate a co-worker's pending bundle of joy, he/she may view games as a waste of company time.  Or, like in my case, my boss would rather throw himself off the Key Bridge than play a shower game.

2. DO take up a collection for the gift (as long as company policy doesn't prohibit it) and make sure to buy items off the couple's registry or baby care items that you know they can use (diapers, shampoo, wipes, etc).  Let each employee make an individual decision on what they are comfortable contributing rather than saying each person they must contribute X number of dollars.  You don't want to alienate co-workers who can't afford to donate and to be honest, who would want to fork over a mandatory contribution for a co-worker they can't stand?  Also, try to pick a theme of gifts to buy so that they aren't getting a bunch of random junk.  For my co-worker, we knew they had been gifted a crib, but didn't have any other bedding items.  So, we purchased the crib mattress, mattress pad/cover, and two crib sheets.  We didn't have enough money left after those purchases to buy another big ticket item, so we used the last of the funds to buy diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream.

3. DON'T buy anything related to nursing (i.e. breast pumps, nipple cream, modesty covers, etc).  Chances are you will have at least one male in attendance and you don't want to make him squeamish.  In addition to an assortment of male co-workers, my boss and two of the three managers are male.  They most certainly do not want to think about a female co-worker or an employee's wife and her future lactation efforts.

4.  DO wrap each item separately so there is more to open.  Also, try to match the wrapping paper to the decor if you can manage it.  The overall presentation will be much better and the pile of gifts will add to the decor, especially if your decorating budget is small, your office space limits the amount of decorating you  can do, or your office space isn't worth decorating (hello nasty outdated fluorescent light bulbs and cube farms).

Aqua + Pink = OK!
5. DO make sure everyone signs a card to send the couple and baby best wishes.  Gifts are wonderful, but a card gives the employees who couldn't afford to contribute to the gift collection a chance to show their support and participate in the office event.

6. DO ask the bakers in your office to bring a baked good in to share at the shower rather than spending part of the gift donations on cake and other refreshments.  A baby is coming people!  Another set of diapers for the new parents is waaay more important than you eating fancy cake.  Depending on your office size, 5 types of treats should be plenty.  We have less than 20 people in our office, but 6 people provided a lemon pie, fresh fruit, mini cupcakes, an assortment of tea cookies, a homemade candy, and raspberry brownies (check back this afternoon for my super easy and inexpensive recipe!).

7. DON'T have a super feminine shower theme if your co-worker is expecting a girl.  Men tend to be uncomfortable around too much pink and lace.  I suggest brightly colored and coordinating tablecloths, plates, and napkins.  You can still use pink, but be sure to add in other colors like yellow, green, blue, aqua, or purple.  I recommend the Spritz line at Target - cheap and cute!  Polka dots, stripes, chevron, and plaid are all fun and festive without being too girly!

We went with multi-colored polka dots!

8. DO use what you already have in your party pantry.  Since we host a lot of shin digs, I'm always picking up paper napkins and plates.  I dug through my party pantry (i.e. the useless cabinet above my apartment refrigerator) and found paper goods to go with the event.  If you  have absolutely nothing to work with, find a coupon and head to Michael's craft store.  They usually have a variety of party wear to choose from for all sorts of occasions!

Plates are from HomeGoods and napkins are from Michael's
9. DO find flowers for the mother-to-be to enjoy at the shower and take home with her (if you can manage it).  This wasn't something I was able to accomplish for my shower.  I couldn't figure out how to transport the gifts, food, and flowers on the metro without having a nervous breakdown.  I think this is an especially lovely touch for any type shower, but especially for all the pretty mamas-to-be.  Not only will the flowers jazz up the shower, no one will feel the need to send flowers after the baby is born  (added bonus, the mama will likely enjoy the flowers much more before the baby is born than after when she is sleep deprived).  These do NOT have to be expensive blooms.  First, ask your co-workers if they have any flowers growing in their yards, as they would obviously be free.  I know when I worked at a bank in college, there were some very lovely ladies who had very lovely peonies and hydrangeas growing in their yards.  My next suggestion would be to look for the cheapest flowers in season.  If I had been able to transport flowers, I would have gone with sunflowers ($3.99 for 3 huge stems!) or carnations (always cheap!).  Don't bother spending money on a vase - wash out a pasta sauce jar!  If you are pressed for time, the Dollar Tree always, always has vases.  

10. DO play soft music in the background (if you have access to the appropriate music and a way to play it).  Invariably, you are going to have awkward pauses in conversation at an office event, so it's a good idea to have some type of noise to mask the awkwardness.  Playing upbeat music (softly!) is a way to distract and detract from any moments when the room goes dead silent (which usually happens right before someone says something completely inappropriate just to fill the silence!).  Find an elevator music or oldies radio station as they won't offend most people in the office. 

That's it for our Posh Purpose How to Host Tips!  Sorry I don't have more photos to share Posh Purpose readers!  I got sick the day of the shower and I had to leave before the party (blogger fail).  I can tell you that all my planning and the help of some wonderful co-workers made it a great success!  Not only was the father completely appreciative, but my boss dropped by my office to tell me it was the nicest office event he has attended!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Little Upgrades: Patio Tables

Mr. 3 and I loooove sitting out on our patio and entertaining with our friends (check out our Patio Party posts here and here).  We've been looking for some very small side tables to put on either side of the outdoor daybed to set drinks.  The daybed is pretty deep, so sometimes it's a bit of a stretch to lean forward to put a glass or plate down (I know. First world problems).  We also want to free up some space on the coffee table for when we are entertaining outside so that it's not so crowded when we eat.  I've been eyeing some garden stools since last summer, but at $60+ each it's a little bit hard for me to swallow.  

Finally, when I was at Target a few weeks ago stocking up on cleaning supplies and a month's worth of TP (you know, as one does in the big city), I spotted these:
Rubberwood Beverage Stand with Steel Frame
Image Source: Target
Although this is intended to be a beverage stand for one of those aluminum tubs, I thought the size, height, color, and price were all right for our patio.

The white framing on the stands tie in the with stripe on our outdoor pillows, the white in the rug, and also the trim on the apartment.  I don't mind the lighter colored wood, but I could probably stain it one day if I ever get bothered by it.  For parties when it's really hot outside, I can also keep the drinks close at hand by putting an aluminum beverage tub I already own on the stand (it's similar to the one featured in the Target ad - mine is dark turquoise and I got it on clearance 2 years ago for $7).  During the winter time, I can easily use one of these stands inside the apartment.  In the past, I've always just set the tub on the kitchen floor, but it would be nice to put it on the carpet and set up a drink station for better party flow.  Finally, once patio season is over, I can easily fold these stands up and put them in our storage closet for protection against winter rain and snow.

I paid $40 for these two tables, which is less than any of the garden stools I was contemplating.  I think we are all done decorating and outfitting the patio for now.  I have some wind chimes to hang up, but otherwise this patio is done!  I think this is a perfect example of how you can re-imagine the original use of an object for a purpose that suits your needs...and all at a budget friendly price!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

I had a brief scare yesterday that my phone was no longer charging. My first thought was "no way am I buying another phone before the new iPhone comes out." My second was "oh no! how will I document my thrift store finds?!" Good news is that my charging cord was the problem, not the phone, and my sister is loaning me a functioning one for the time being.

This cool floor lamp was slightly overpriced at $10. It needed a bit of polishing but the wiring worked, so yay for that.

These pretty flower shaped candle trays were $3 each. If I liked brass, I would have bought them. But (gasp!) I'm not a huge fan.

This dresser was $45. The veneer is chipped at the top, but the drawers are dovetailed. The leg has some damage as well. Overall, $45 is still a good deal.

This $50 tv console/dresser also has some damage across the front, and the top is stained. The inside had really cool drawers and shelves intermixed. And check out that hardware. I love interesting hardware!

Want to see more thrift store finds? We have a whole category just for that! We would love to see your finds, so feel free to share in the comments section or holler at us on twitter or instagram.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Buy

Even though I don't have my own Nordstrom shoe guy, I did get to have some fun with the Nordstrom Anniversary sale. I bought a few plain shirts (because apparently I never have shirts) and a fun skirt. But my favorite purchase of the sale is this Topshop dress below.

For $34, this dress is an awesome buy. I'm pretty sure I won't be pairing it with the black suede booties seen in the model picture, but I am thrilled that it is a piece I can wear almost all year round in Florida. The colors aren't definitively summer or winter and the sleeveless bit will go a long way on a 85 degree November day.

***We were in no way compensated for writing this article.  We just like to share our opinions on all things shopping when we can!***

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Man Every Girl Needs

Pre-Mr. 3, I read a book on relationships and it described the different type of men women need in their lives regardless of who they are dating.  I don't remember the exact quantity or all the characteristics, but every girl needs a man who can fix things, a man who can dance, etc.  Your husband may fill many of the roles, but after this week, I've also decided every girl needs a Nordstrom shoe man (which probably isn't your husband or boyfriend).

I'm always going to the Tysons Corner mall and I tend to do most of my shopping at Nordstrom when I go. This past week, I swung by to check out the anniversary sale and see what's new for fall.  I walked over and I spotted the man who has helped me with all my shoe purchases over the last couple of years.  I've bought a few pairs of flats, wedges, and sandals from this man.  He spotted me too and even though I haven't bought any shoes in months, he ran right over to greet me.  He remembered my size (6.5 wide...aka the unicorn of the shoe world...or the more common 7) and promptly went to go grab the shoes I was admiring.  Now, Nordstrom is known for good service, but I swear I have never, and I mean never, had a salesperson at a chain store recognize me, let alone remember my shoe size.
This is what came home with me...6.5 wide!
Vala Bootie
Vince Camuto
$89.95 Anniversary Sale Price
$138.95 After
Image Source: Nordstrom

I decided to get the shoes to take home and try on with some outfits and my salesman told me if for any reason the shoes were defective or needed to be stretched to bring them back to him and he would take care of me without any issue.  Nordstrom has an amazing return policy (they will take anything back...tags, no tags, worn, not worn), but the salespeople don't generally broadcast its leniency.  He also told me that if I needed help picking out shoes, he could put suggestions together for me and have them waiting in my size to try on when I came in.  I feel like usually this type of service is reserved for the $200+ crowd, not my measly $90 pair.  I've also worked with other salespeople at Nordstrom and none have ever offered me this service.

Clearly, this man is a prince among shoe salesmen and made my shopping experience so easy.  I can't tell you how nice of a feeling it was to be remembered, especially since I'm not a big spender.  I doubt I will take him up on his personal shopping offer (evidently he offered this service to another customer and she walked home with 17 pairs of new shoes...that just sounds dangerous!); HOWEVER, this man knows his merchandise and it would be oh-so-helpful if I could have him point out the shoes available in my unicorn sizing.  I would be much more open to higher heeled shoes if I knew I could get them in a wider width.  Anyone else have a Nordstrom guy?  Share below!

***We were in no way compensated for writing this article.  We just like to share our opinions on all things shopping when we can!***

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

My last trip to Habitat was unsuccessful, so I'm ready for another round of thrift store finds. Let's get started!

This lamp was pretty cool. I found it at the Lutheran Church's thrift store. I don't normally shop there since they have more clothes than anything else, but I was thrifting with my brother-in-law that day. This lamp was priced at $10, which is a bit high considering the store did not test it out to see if the wiring is still good.

These lamps were at Habitat, so obviously they had been tested and labeled as working. For a price comparison to the one above, you could get the pair of these lamps for $6 total. Of course they don't come with a shade, but I don't consider the shade on the lamp above to be worth the extra money.

This adorable chair was $20 at Habitat, but I wouldn't be surprised if you could get a lower price by asking nicely. The fabric on the seat is not to my liking but I just learned how to do piping at my sewing class yesterday, so recovering this one would be a reasonable DIY project.

Scour the thrift stores if you are looking for some objet in a particular color. This lidded vase is perfect for anyone who is looking for the green and gold color scheme. I thought the $10 price tag was a bit high for an unstamped piece. That being said, always ask for a better price!

This $1 footed pressed glass dish would be so cute to catch jewelry on a nightstand. Little things like this are often in thrift stores and the prices are so much better than brand new things. If you have an idea (like a jewelry catcher) that doesn't require a perfectly specific item, you should totally shop around thrift stores before buying new.

This small plate is sweet and 25 cents. Can't beat that. There was a stack of probably eight or nine of these plates - perfect for party appetizer plates!

Want to see more thrift store finds? We have a whole category just for that! We would love to see your finds, so feel free to share in the comments section or holler at us on twitter or instagram

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara Review

This mascara was recommended to me by one of the helpful Sephora ladies a few months ago. I told her I wanted big, dramatic lashes and she said this Too Faced mascara was her favorite product.

Good news: the lashes became big and dramatic without clumps.

Bad news: I had mascara running down my face by lunch time.

I tried the usual eye primer, powder, concealer, then no concealer. Nothing would stop the running. I must have particularly oily eyes because this same thing happened to me with another mascara. I sadly returned this mascara the next week. At least Sephora has a great return policy!

Check out our other mascara diaries posts to learn all about our cosmetic adventures!

Friday, July 11, 2014

What Happens when you Mix Corn Starch, Hair, And Florida's Torrential Downpour

Happy Friday! Melinda is a strong believer in dry shampoo, but I didn't get into it until recently. I usually go 2-3 days without washing my hair, so my philosophy is that I should probably just use real shampoo by that point. One day I really wanted to wear my hair down but it was in that awkward in between phase where it looks good up, but not so much down. I had read that you can use corn starch as a substitution for dry shampoo so I gave it a try. I loved it! Not only did it make my bangs look good, the corn starch also made my hair hold teasing even better than normal.

I have only used it two more times since then. My most recent time was yesterday, and unfortunately it was a total failure.

This is what happens when cornstarched hair gets attacked by a Florida thunderstorm. It turns into a sticky, clumpy mess.

that isn't even all the hair

Do I still recommend corn starch as a dry shampoo substitute? Of course! But maybe I will use it only during the dry season from now on.

Tablecloth Addiction

I've come to the realization that in addition to my glassware addiction, I also have a bit of a table linen collection going.  I blame this on (1) having a dining room table from craigslist that needs to be refinished...splinters and all and (2) trying to work with the red fabric of my free dining room chairs that Mr. 3's cousins gave us when they moved away from D.C.  So far, I've managed to accumulate a Christmas tablecloth, a brown tablecloth, and a blue tablecloth (and several table throws and table squares)...all of which coordinate with the flower plates on the wall.  BUUUUT this might be my favorite option so far:

Besides being in need of an ironing, I love how the red and blue in the tablecloth play off the existing colors and also introduce a bit of unexpected yellow, green and purple.  I finally feel like this room has some personality!  Best part is that I found it at Target for only $16.99!  Target's Threshold collection always has a great selection of prints and solids at reasonable prices...which makes changing up the look of the dining room SUPER easy aaaaaand friendly to the wallet.  Plus, they are 100% cotton and machine washable.  I'm glad this room looks put together since Mr. 3's mom and stepdad are coming to visit this weekend....if only I could say the same for some of the other rooms!  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Old Town Alexandria Train Station

Last weekend, Mr. 3 was out of town and we decided that it was better for me to take the train to Richmond so he could pick me up and take us to Lake Anna for the weekend.  We saved money on gas and neither one of us had to deal with the craziness of DC summer traffic (aka the great beach caravan).  If you haven't ever rode the train, I highly recommend you give it a try.  Not only do you have more room to stretch out, you don't have to worry about getting strip searched by TSA or having more than 4 oz. of hairspray.  I wish the train went more places and also at a faster pace...perhaps like the European rail system.

When I got to the train station, I noticed that Amtrak has done a great job of preserving or restoring the original details of the train station.

Greek Key Tile - grungy but in great shape!

Love this detail!

I would like to hang you someplace fun!
Such a pretty space! Anyone else like taking the train as much I do?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What to do When Your Wet Swiffer Pads Dry Out

J's parents came to visit for a day last week, so of course I spent the weekend leading up to their visit cleaning. Regardless of what my apartment looks like, I always do a deep clean before company arrives. This time, the apartment was in a bad state. Between being busy with work, spending a weekend at the beach, and not having space for my birthday gifts, things were out of control. Fortunately, J is quite fond of putting stuff away so I was able to focus on the actual cleaning bit. Unfortunately, my wet swiffer pads dried out!

Of course I waited until late Sunday night to start mopping the floor (the inlaws were arriving that very next day). But instead of running to Walmart, a place I despise like no other, I decided to get a bit creative. I have a spray bottle with white vinegar and water - about a 50/50 mixture - that I use in the kitchen. Why not use it on the floor?

I worked on about 6 tiles at a time, spraying them with the mixture, letting it sit for a moment, and then swiffering away. The dried out swiffer pad worked very well to clean up the floor after I added a bit of moisture, and I had the added benefit of vinegar. While this solution was not as quick and convenient as wet swiffering with an actual wet pad, it definitely got my floors clean. I actually think the floors are cleaner than they usually are. Perhaps the wet swiffering adds a film to the tile that the vinegar removed? Not sure, but at least now I don't have to toss my dried out swiffer materials!

Do y'all have any clever, last minute, cleaning techniques formed out of desperation? Or am I the only procrastinator here?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

Did y'all have a good 4th of July weekend? My family piled into my parents' house near the beach and had the best time (despite sharing two bathrooms across way too many people). Writing up this post reminds me that I need to head over to Habitat soon. It has been almost a whole week since I last visited!

This rocking chair is apparently a very popular style, according to Emily Henderson at least. Somehow this piece ended up being priced twice. The older tag said $25 and the more recent tag said $65 - weird, right? Anyway, Mother was able to get it for the better price of $25.

This cute fireplace accessories set was priced at $10. I almost bought it for my imaginary fireplace inside my imaginary house, but I decided to pass.

The day I took these pictures was the day of magazine and towel racks. Habitat was full of them! This one was $6.

Don't buy your towel racks new until you have checked out the thrift stores! This one was $8.

 This $20 towel rack was large. The desk on the right side of the picture is normal height, and you can see that the two are about level.

Here is a $6 towel bench for variety. If you don't like the finish, you can always spray paint.

 These prints were $8 each. Everything was quite charming about them, including the knobby bit at the top for hanging.

This giant light fixture was not priced when I saw it, but Mother said the glass globes were hand blown. I have no idea how she can tell these things. The piece was clearly very old and someone must have loved it because I couldn't find it the next time I visited.

Want to see more thrift store finds? We have a whole category just for that! We would love to see your finds, so feel free to share in the comments section or holler at us on twitter or instagram