Friday, May 31, 2013

Worth the Splurge: Living in a Place You Love

The most expensive thing in my life? Rent. I know this is true of everyone, but the rent for my apartment here? 4x what I was paying in Bloomington, IN. 

What else has grown exponentially? My happiness level. I'm not sure you could measure it. Bloomington isn't a bad city, in fact, its a really nice one, and it has a bunch of hidden gems. Finch's is great, and you should absolutely have a cocktail at Farm.

View From Eastern Market 

The problem was that I had been living in a college town since I moved into my college dorm room at MSU (GO GREEN!) at 18. Almost ten years later, I REALLY needed a city. A brief stint studying abroad in London showed me that I'm a much happier gal in the middle of hustle and bustle, meeting new people regularly.  

On 21st Street in Dupont 

Some people are the opposite, they thrive in environments like small towns. Some people want to sail away to the islands and never come back (god bless Jimmy Buffet and Margaritaville). Whatever it is that makes you happiest, it's worth the splurge. 

In smaller places, I tend to feel trapped. I'm not an "I love this bar," type of girl (caveat: unless I'm at a Toby Keith concert, then I'll be bellowing it at the top of my lungs), going to the same couple places every week makes me feel like I'm going in circles. Eventually, I'll close off and just stay in. I'm the opposite in a city, happy to be in the middle of it all, still maintaining my privacy, cherishing a group of close friends. Everyone else? There are just too many people here for anyone to care whatever it is I choose to wear/think/do with my life. 

From the Top of the Kennedy Center 

Finding a job here will be harder for me than finding one in the midwest. Hell, I may have to work at anthropolgie waitress for a few months until something comes along. But I know it would be impossible to find a job here without a D.C. address on my resume. If I have to wait a while for a job, it's worth it, because I smile every morning when I walk out the door. 

Morning Walk to my Spring Externship 
My Point? Find the place where you breathe easiest, the place that feels most like home. I may have to deprive myself of some shopping to live here, but I don't doubt for a single second that it's worth it. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shopping Detox: Free Spending Money from Madewell Sweepstakes!

Several months ago I entered a Keds x Madewell Sweepstakes: Pin It to Win It. 

I created a board on Pinterest showcasing how I would style my new Madewell Keds. Then I forgot all about signing up. A few weeks ago I was flabbergasted - great word - to find out that I had won! I won an adorable pair of Keds x Madewell (I opted for the mint dot), and a $250 Madewell gift card. My booty arrived in the mail this week! 

So after I get in a good study session, I'll be taking my new Keds off to Madewell to get some new treasures! I've been eyeing this for months! I'm also in love with the piped skirt below, it could go from Saturday brunch to happy hour easily. (AND it's on sale and an extra 20% off with free shipping- NOT that I'm encouraging shopping here). 

Lesson Learned? Enter Sweepstakes! I have another friend who recently won the Birchbox/Madewell sweepstakes (she won a 500 dollar gift card)! 

You can see the other pairs of Keds x Madewell here

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Foodie Detox: Trader Joe's Espiral Vinho Verde

I like wine. Cooking a leisurely dinner with a glass of good vino = my happy place. Wine can be pricey. 

Solution: Trader Joe's. 

I don't need wine to be expensive, and I generally don't understand winespeak jargon. Wine tasting is a favorite activity of mine, but I always find myself slightly annoyed at vineyard patrons who ooh and aah over the "dry palate" or "floral nose" of a wine. I know what I fuss about it. I'll buy what my wallet likes, because I'm not getting paid to study for the bar. 

Epitome of yummy affordablity? Trader Joe's Espiral Vinho Verde. Mostly dry and slightly sparkling, it's really good. It costs 3.99.


I have to give credit for this discovery to my friend, who stocked our fridge with Vinho Verde while we were broke ass unpaid interns. Thank You

Tonight, after several hours of studying, I'll be opening a bottle to keep me company while I de-stress and cook risotto. Risotto = my other happy place. 

Another good deal: adorable flower wine charms (also seen above): 

Available here ($9.13 for 12). 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shopping Detox: Shop Your Friend's Closet, Plus a Rent The Runway Review!

I hate to go to an event in a dress I've already worn. While most men find this ridiculous, most women relate. Cocktail and formal dresses are a money suck. First, they are expensive. Second, because of the urge to wear something new to a formal occasion, formal dresses almost always get worn once. 

I attended a wedding last weekend, and I'll be back in Michigan on Friday for another. Generally, a save the date is my ticket to shop. Since I'm trying to be better about funds, I decided that I'd (at least attempt to) be more economical. 

First, I considered Rent the Runway, a website that lets you rent a dress for four days. 

I used RTR once during law school, and my review is mixed. They allow you to get two sizes in one dress, and they usually also allow you a backup dress. The backup dress that I ordered was wrongly sized, or had been stretched out. Luckily I was able to use one of the originals I had ordered, but it did feel a bit worn. I got a lot of compliments on the dress, but it wasn't one I would have picked myself had I been able to try it on. 

The dresses run from $40 - $450 to rent, with most running $60 - $200. On some occasions it may be worth it to spend $60 on a designer dress rather than a larger amount on something less unique or well-constructed. If you love the dress you rent, that's great; you probably wouldn't have worn the formal dress you bought more than twice. However, some of the dresses have been rented many times and you may not love what you get. I'd call RTR a toss up. They do have some great options though: I'm already eyeing this for a NYE wedding this year. 

Again though, you can't try on the dresses. Plus oftentimes you have to travel to an event/wedding/party. That makes the four day rental period somewhat unrealistic at times, and you'll pay more to rent the dress longer. I suppose you could ship the dress to a hotel, but that can add stress to travel (which I, who am always running late, find stressful enough without any added contingencies). 

Solution? ransack my friends' closets. 

Clearly that closet is a joke. We live in D.C. That closet is the size of my bedroom. But isn't it beauuutiiiful!?

So I moseyed over to a friend's place, where we uncorked a bottle of wine, and had a fashion show. She had (like most women) several party dresses that she had only worn once. I left with four different options, all of which I'd been able to try on, all the while having a second opinion in the room. 

Plus, we had a great time, for free. I plan to return the favor for a formal she has coming up. 

If you have friends that wear your size, this is a great idea - you get to have fun trying on clothes, and swapping dresses allows you to get more wear/use value out of those ones you've already bought. See! I am making economical sense! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Worth The Splurge: Travel

While I'm learning to spend money more responsibly, there are some things that are worth shelling out cash. It's important to recognize the things worth spending money on. Its easier to say no to a new dress or another round of drinks if you know why you're saving your pennies. Every Friday I'll identify something that is worth the splurge.

Clearly the best splurge? Travel. 

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” 

                                                   Mark TwainThe Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Foodie Detox: Herbs at Home

I have a love affair with fresh herbs. I buy them for pasta, omelets, salads, cocktails - anything really...and then I forget I bought them and they rot in my refrigerator until I discover I haven't used them in time.

2.99 is not much, but it is too much to spend on something you'll only use 1/3 of before it goes bad (2.99 is 3/4 a happy hour glass of wine!- thinking in these terms is what I call responsiblish!).


Grow Herbs! I thought my black thumb would make this impossible, but they have survived two weeks now, more...they are growing! If I can do this, you can do this. Plants hate me generally. I cannot tell you how many Orchid homicides I have committed. 

Plus, the herbs are planted in a recycled bourbon container! Green all around! 

Peppermint: great for tea, watermelon salad, corn salad, deserts etc.  
Basil: good in pastas, omelets, risotto, quinoa, salads, also great in cocktails 
Rosemary: a great way to flavor chicken, steak, and so good on potatoes 

I've used the basil in several dishes, and made tea with the peppermint. I haven't yet used the rosemary - I tend to veer away from meat and potatoes in the summer, simply because it's too hot...but I'm sure I'll come up with something.  I'm thinking maybe this rosemary gin fizz

Looks so refreshing for the summer! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Restaurant Detox: Granville Moore's Moules Bleu

It's pretty safe to say that eating is the center of my day. I love food. Breakfast - good. Lunch - good. Dinner- what I live for. I take dinner seriously, and trying a new restaurant is one of my very favorite activities. One activity that trumps trying a new restaurant? Having mussels and beers at Granville Moore's. That wins. Hands down. 

Granville Moore's is a staple in D.C. It's on H Street, which is one of my favorite areas to have a great time.  You can pretend to be British at the Queen Vic (order the bone marrow!), participate in a drunk spelling bee at the Rock and Roll Hotel (8 p.m. every Friday!), eat giant bowls of amazing ramen noodles at Toki Underground (don't miss the pork belly bourbon cocktail!), and hang out at the Star and Shamrock, a place that's half Jewish deli, half Irish pub. Yes, thank you, I will have some latkes with my Guinness. Okay....I digress. 

With all that awesomeness Granville Moore's is still my first choice on H Street. They serve a million kinds of Belgian beer (clearly I never engage in hyperbole), and they have the best mussels. 

If you come to D.C. for a visit, you MUST check out H Street. If you live here, like me, a trip to H Street can become an expensive habit. Because it's an up-and-coming area it doesn't have great metro access, so getting out there is generally a taxi ride. Then I can never visit just one of the bars there, so it ends up being a pretty expensive night. 

However, Grandville Moore's Chef Teddy Folkman was kind enough to do provide a video recipe with instuctions on how to make their famous Moules Bleu. SO SO good. 

My boyfriend is the mussels cook in this apartment, and they turn out almost exactly like Granville Moore's! The upside? it's MUCH MUCH less expensive than a trip to H Street. 


The breakdown: 

(We had spinach and cooking oils in the apartment already). 
Mussels: 3.99 a pound at Whole Foods (3.99 a pound!)
White Wine: 8.99 (plus most of the bottle left for drinking!) 
Bacon: 5.00  (plus leftovers for breakfast) 
Bleu Cheese: 5.00 (also with leftovers for other meals)
Crusty Bread: 1.99 (must have for dipping up broth) 

Total: 12.4 Dollars/ Person 

So you know I'm not a dirty liar... 

That INCLUDES 2 glasses of wine each and leftover ingredients. At a restaurant, you couldn't get two glasses of wine for 12 dollars. 

Compare with a night for 2 on H Street 
Taxi ride (both ways): 25.00
Pit stop at the Queen Vic: 15.00
Dinner at Granville Moore's: approx 50.00 for mussels/beer/service (still its not horrible for dinner out!)
My insistence that we continue to galavant on H Street: 30.00 

Total: 60.00 per person 

So clearly it saves to cook! Plus, cooking is fun! (It's also fun to blog while watching boyfriend cook). 

I will absolutely continue to support Granville Moore's by eating in the restaurant, as a treat or when friends come into town. This is a great option for saving some money and still having a great dinner in! 

P.S. I do in fact realize that my 12.40/person dinner falls pathetically short of the money-saving meals that are out there. This is a blog about being responsiblish. ISH is the key word, or ...suffix? fake suffix? 

Whatever it is, it's about the progress! (Plus, I'm pretty sure those 99 cent meals do not include wine. If you can include two glasses of wine per person for 99 cents... well that is just clearly impossible...challenge not accepted.) 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In Which I Admit to Having A Problem

My name is Brittany, and I am a shopaholic – foodie – Sephora addicted - Pinterest mongering - weapon of mass consumption. This blog will chronicle my attempt at consumption detox (it might also chronicle my impending financial doom...stay posted). 

My first nagging realization that I might have a problem occurred in college, when a friend loaned me Confessions of a Shopaholic. The book was, of course, hilarious. It was also terrifying in that I related to Becky Bloomwood’s decision to buy a scarf with her last twenty pounds. When she overdrafted her bank account to buy new shoes, well...I could easily see myself in her new loubies. 

Who doesn't envy Cher with her endless fortune and digital closet? 

My relationship with money has been precarious since college. This might have to do with never entering the real world, with enduring nine years of post high school education while loan money seemed like theoretical money rather than real cash. But now, school's out. 

I recently graduated law school. I have to study for the bar. I have to get a job. Although I only know of these things in the abstract, I believe I am supposed to start a retirement account. I should probably pay off my student loans at some point before I die. All of these things have started to weigh on me. A lot. I have realized there is just too much MUCHNESS in my life. 

I live in Washington D.C., and I have a serious love for this city. I have a great apartment; I get to live with my best friend; I have a dog I spoil rotten. It's a pretty great life. If I want to continue to live here without going bankrupt, I have to detox. I have to stop the consumption. 

I'm admitting to my bad habits and committing to a solution: a simpler way of living. Less spending, less anxiety, less overall consuming. 


In theory, this is simple. I only need to realize I have to stop spending and become a frugal-coupon-cutting-master of finance. 

So um...THAT isn't going to happen. But I can implement some realistic changes to help ease my anxiety and attempt to become a responsiblish adult. (Responsiblish: A person who does not buy clothes with rent or grocery money). 

So this is my detox recipe: 

This blog will be the account of my journey towards becoming not quite so outlandishly bad with money. Wish me luck. 

I am going to need it.