2014 reflection & resolution recap

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The last day of 2014 is tomorrow, and I feel like the year just started a month ago. Time seems to fly faster now that I’m older. I’m not even sure that the phrase–“Time flies when you’re having fun”–completely applies to this situation, haha…though I guess I can’t say I’ve had a boring year!

I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now. This year, my blog has had quite a bit of growth! I had nearly 25,000 views (which isn’t a LOT, but it’s more than I was expecting) and grew to nearly 100 WordPress/e-mail followers and 80 Bloglovin’ followers. Thanks to Franish, my record number of views in a single day was about 1,700! That was about eight times greater than any other day, haha. Thank you all so much for following along! It truly excites me to know that others are inspired by me. My favorite posts to share were definitely outfit posts, and I hope to create even better outfits and hone my style even more in the new year!

As far as my academic life goes, I finished up my Master’s degree in October, presented my research at a couple of symposiums/conferences, and am gearing up to start my PhD full-time next month (remember when I was considering going on for my PhD?). It has been a busy last few months writing my thesis and working on a paper that will be published in an academic journal next year (as long as the reviewers are satisfied with my edits!). I’m looking forward to diving into my PhD research, though I’m also a bit nervous since I’ll be doing a lot of probability and statistics and that is definitely not my strongest math subject. 🙂

At the start of the year, I made and shared some resolutions and thought I would go through each one and explain how those turned out. In the past, I haven’t been the best at keeping my resolutions. I usually made resolutions that were way too elaborate and required too much of me, if that makes sense. I realized I needed to stay simple for them to have the greatest impact.

My first resolution was to maintain a budget. While I didn’t have an overall budget for all of my spending, I did start a clothing budget and having been budgeting every month since March. It has helped me keep my spending in check, though I can’t really tell if it’s helped me save more. I keep track of bills and grocery spending, but I haven’t done anything with that information. I want to, but I’m lazy. Lol.

But hey, I did happen to go somewhere new this year! In June, Chris and I spent a few days in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with his grandparents and extended family. Additionally, we visited two national parks, Canyonlands and Arches, near Moab, Utah. I’m so excited that I fulfilled this resolution.

I did make healthy choices this year…for the most part. I started flossing regularly and fell in love with some healthier meals. I’ve also kept up with ballet. However, I’m still a big snacker; I don’t think I’ll ever not snack on things (potato chips and chive/onion cream cheese is my weakness). And my sweet tooth is still very strong. 🙂

Of course, since I’m writing this post now, I kept up with this blog! Blogging has been a fabulous way to connect with others who share the same interests, evolve my personal style, and keep myself busy when I’m not at work. I’ve made connections with more bloggers than I expected–yay! I love it and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

I wish everyone the best in 2015! xo

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December budget

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  1. LOFT Top: $23 (originally $54.50)
  2. Madewell Jeans (seen here): $100 (originally $125)
  3. Banana Republic Dress: $29 (originally $130)
  4. Moorea Seal Earrings (seen here): $6 (originally $21)
  5. J.Crew Choker (seen here): $63 (originally $98)
  6. Anthropologie Top (seen here): $30 (originally $60)
  7. Madewell Sweater (seen here): $45 (originally $98)

December Total = $296

$566 ($500 quarterly budget + $66 carried over) – $296 (December) = $270 left for January and February

So after an exceptionally good November, I went a little bit crazy this month. (I blame the exceptionally good sales which included items I’ve had on my wishlist for a while!)

Last month, I mentioned that I placed a huge LOFT order during one of their 60% off flash sales. I was, sadly, disappointed by four of the five things in my order. Three of the items were just a bit too big, and I ordered the smallest size available so I couldn’t exchange. (I feel like the vanity sizing at LOFT is out of control.) One item, this grey dress, fit well except the waist was an inch too high and I didn’t want an empire waist. The item I added to get free shipping, the top above, ended up being the only keeper. I got it in a petite size and thank goodness because it fits perfectly! I was pleasantly surprised by it given that the other items were disappointments.

Over the Black Friday weekend, I purchased a pair of Madewell jeans because it was the best promo I had seen including them and I’ve been wanting to add a new pair to my closet. (Turns out, it wasn’t the best promo, but I’m trying not to think about it!) I debated between this wash (the Davis wash) and the Atlantic wash that I tried on back in August. I ended up getting the Davis wash because they can be dressed up and down, and I absolutely love them! Highly recommend. While I was in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I stopped in Madewell because it’s a pretty big store, and I found a sweater I’ve had my eyes on for a while. They honored the student discount on top of the promo, so I purchased it and stuffed it in my suitcase. (It was more expensive online so I justified the stuffing of my suitcase, though I barely fit it in, haha.)

The statement earrings from Moorea Seal and top from Anthropologie were both Cyber Monday purchases. The earrings are still available and only $6! I went into Anthro to find this top and ended up buying it in store because they were running the Cyber Monday promo in store and it had sold out in my size online. It’s a fun, “non-basic” top in a basic cut to spice up my wardrobe!

Finally, I thought the J.Crew choker would be a nice addition to my wardrobe and add something a little extra. It’s very pretty! I love the geometric shape. Additionally, I fell in love with the Banana Republic dress…after seeing it on a character in one of my boyfriend’s TV shows, The Flash on The CW. It caught my eye immediately, and luckily, I found it in less than five minutes on Google. The grey version (which is what the character wore) was sold out, but I loved the black, too–and that’s how the story goes! 😉

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  1. J.Crew Earrings
  2. Idaho Home Tee
  3. Madewell Scarf
  4. Anthropologie Sunglasses

These are the clothing items/accessories I received for Christmas this year, just in case you see them in future outfit posts and wonder where they came from! 🙂 Three of the items were on my December wishlist, so I consider that post a success. The earrings were a gift from my boyfriend. They weren’t on the wistlist I posted on here, but they were on my J.Crew wishlist! He has a knack for picking out items that I’d like. I was quite impressed and immediately wondered if I had told him I wanted them. My family gifted me the other three items. I feel very fortunate! What goodies did you receive for Christmas? xo

Linking up with Franish & my fellow budgeting bloggers

Festive

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Hello dear readers! I hope you all had wonderful holiday celebrations. 🙂 I enjoyed spending time with my family and my kitties. It actually snowed decently on Christmas Eve and still hasn’t melted completely, so we had a white Christmas! Christmas is the only day that I actually tolerate snow, haha. I would have no problem if the storms stayed in the mountains from here on out.

I put together this outfit last weekend featuring a couple more new additions (purchased myself…just wait until you see my budget post, haha). I found this Madewell sweater, one I’ve had on my wishlist since I saw it online, in store while in San Francisco and couldn’t say no to the price. It’s so cozy and perfect for this time of year. I loved how it looked with the scarf. Instead of tying the scarf, I draped it around my neck. It kept me comfortable and not too warm for a lunch date and visit with family. I will admit, though, that I changed my shoes after these photos because it poured rain the rest of the day!

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Madewell sweater (on sale!) and jeans / Sam Edelman boots (exact) / Zara scarf via Ebay (likely a knockoff; exact)

Noel, Noel

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Ah! I can’t believe Christmas is tomorrow! Every year, I’m bummed out by how quickly the days before Christmas go. The 22nd-24th FLY by it seems like–full of errands (I didn’t avoid the last-minute shopping this year), work for those not on an academic calendar, and other general busy-ness. In a perfect world, time would slow down on the days before Christmas. I like soaking up the energy and spending a few days with lots of present under the tree, food on the table, and time spent together (with a lack of being out and about).

On this Christmas Eve, I decided to wear a couple of new additions to my closet: an adorable, subtly striped top I found at Anthropologie and a pretty gold choker from J.Crew. I almost paired my new sparkly earrings from J.Crew (a gift from my boyfriend) with the choker, but I decided to keep the focus on the choker and save the earrings for New Year’s Eve. The socks were a gift from Chris last year and I forgot to bring them with me, so this year I made sure to pack them and wear them! When I’m outside, they’re covered by boots, but since I kept this outfit photo shoot indoors, I decided to showcase the socks. Aren’t they cute?! They’re perfect for a cat lady like me!

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas! 🙂 xo

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Anthropologie top (on sale!) / Madewell jeans / ModCloth socks (on sale!) / J.Crew choker / Kate Spade earrings via Nordstrom Rack

Postcards from San Francisco

As I mentioned in my last post, the second installment of From the Window Seat, I was in San Francisco, CA, for a few days last week for an academic conference. I was hoping to spend some time exploring the city, but the weather deterred me from doing much more than going to the conference, eating, and occasional shopping. It was my third time attending the conference, and I still haven’t done some of the more touristy things. It’s kind of a bummer! I would love to visit the city for an actual vacation sometime. It’s so stressful trying to fit in sight-seeing around a bunch of posters, talks, and other science-y things going on during the conference. Conferences are exhausting, and I had no problem falling asleep well before midnight during the week because of it.

Regardless, I did manage to visit a couple of new places this time around–the Ferry Building and a portion of Little Italy. Here’s some snapshots from those places and the usual sights, such as Union Square. Hope you enjoy and are having a lovely Christmas Eve Eve Eve! 😉

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The Ferry Building

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The Bay Bridge

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Giant Christmas ornaments found in the Financial District

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Chinatown

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Union Square

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Walking to dinner; Bay Bridge in the background

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From the Window Seat, vol. 2

I recently travelled to San Francisco for a conference and snapped some photos (as usual) from my window seat–the best seat to fly in, in my opinion. 😉 Since I was flying with a bunch of other Earth scientists, everyone had their phones out taking photos of the clouds and geology. I almost wish it had been a longer flight just to see more cool stuff!

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Deicing the plane before take off

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Taking off–possible lake effect band below the main cloud deck

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Turning over the clouds

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Geology!

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Snow and sweet geology

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Descending with a cool contrail coming off the wing

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It looks like you’re going to land in the bay when you land at SFO!

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Just before touching down

On a cold winter’s night

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‘Tis the season to throw on lots of comfy layers! I went relatively unflattering for this outfit with the large and rather shapeless cardigan, but that’s what I’m all about at this time of year (and most other times of year, let’s be real). Layer a simple striped tee under the cardigan, add a pair of stretchy jeans and colored loafers, and I’m set to be a couch potato for the whole holiday season. This outfit will be on definite repeat for the next few weeks! Can you believe Christmas is in only eight days?! I still need to finish my shopping…oops. 🙂

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ModCloth cardigan (similar from Gap; last seen here) / Gap tee (old; similar & on sale!) / Madewell jeans / Nordstrom loafers (thrifted; last seen here) / Kate Spade necklace via Nordstrom

Mild winter

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I’ve said in previous posts that we’ve been having an above-normally warm December thus far, and it’s mainly because there is no snow on the ground. When we have snow on the ground, the ground albedo is very high (albedo is the percentage of solar radiation that reflects off the surface), thus there is little melting because the solar radiation that does reach the ground is then reflected by the snow. Because the snow isn’t able to melt, the air near the snow stays cold. This creates a temperature inversion, which is when the air temperature is warmer aloft (normally it cools with increasing altitude). Inversions are quite stable and stick around until a relatively large storm system blows through and mixes it up. We get terrible inversions in the winter because we’re often dominated by a ridge, or area of relatively high pressure, resulting in few storm systems that “blow out” the inversions. Inversions are associated with really bad air quality because the pollutants aren’t able to “mix out” due to the stable layer.

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Courtesy of Environment Canada

Anyway. I basically just told you all of that so you know why my outfits aren’t that wintery yet! We usually have some snow on the ground to give us an inversion and the cold temperatures associated with it, but we haven’t had a big storm yet. I’m perfectly happy wearing some of the fall outfits I hadn’t gotten to! I’ve been obsessed with this outfit since I thought of it a few months ago. Ivory, olive green, and cognac are a winning color combination! 🙂 And I’ve been wearing this sweater pretty much nonstop the past few weeks.

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Madewell sweater (similar) and boots / J.Crew pants (on sale!) / Banana Republic Factory earrings (last seen here)

Caturday: Sybil’s 3rd birthday!

It just so happens that all three of my cats’ birthdays fell on a Saturday this year! Might as well do a Caturday post on each of their birthdays, right?! 🙂 Sybil is the last of the three to celebrate her birthday every year, and this is only the second birthday we’ve had with her because we adopted her September 2013.

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Sybil lived in the shelter/rescue system for a little over the year before I saw her one afternoon in Petco (I pretty much never go into Petco anymore because I would adopt all the cats). I broke down when I got home because I felt terrible for her; how awful that she’s had to live a year of her life in a cage! After talking about it and sleeping on it, Chris and I drove back to Petco the next day to adopt her…only, she wasn’t there–one of the store employees had just taken her home for a couple of days so she could get out of the cage. Luckily, he brought her back as soon as we called so we got to take her home that night. I felt bad that he had just taken her home and also bought toys and treat for her! (He gave us the toys and treats he had purchased–so nice!)

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Sybil spent almost a couple of weeks after we adopted her in the spare/office room so the cats could get used to each other. I’m not sure how well it worked because they still only tolerate each other and sometimes get into little tiffs every once in a while. It made me feel better to do a “proper” introduction, though, since there were now three female cats in the house–all of which had big, dominant personalities. Sybil is quite feisty, probably because she is a calico!

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We named her after the late Lady Sybil Branson (Crawley) of Downton Abbey. (The name ended up fitting her because she often lays withs her paws crossed like a lady!) I have many nicknames for her, though, of course… We call her “Derp” or “Derpy” a lot because she likes to run sideways, do Parkour on the furniture, and flip her head around. We’ve lately started calling her “Syblur” because of the photo I took of her running towards a mouse toy where she’s just a giant blur (below). She also sometimes lays on the floor or on her scratcher (her favorite lounging spot) and looks like a loaf of bread, so I like to call her “Sybil Loaf” or just “Loaf”.

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Even though we’ve only had her for a little over a year, Sybil is our most famous kitty. She was recently featured on ModCloth’s Instagram. I also entered a photo of her (the second one from the top of this post) in a calendar contest hosted by a humane society, and although she wasn’t a monthly model winner, they shared it as a cover photo! Everyone thought she was so pretty. We have to agree, of course! Here’s to many more years with our baby girl, Sybil! ❤

The Nutcracker

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Last weekend, Chris and I dressed up for an evening at the Olive Garden (salad, breadsticks, and their roscato wine makes a perfect dinner…plus dessert, of course!) followed by a performance of The Nutcracker, one of my very favorite ballets. My mom started taking me to The Nutcracker only recently, and I haven’t been able to go every year. I’m hoping that I can make it an annual tradition since it really puts me in the Christmas mood. 🙂 The music is iconic, and of course, the dancing is so beautiful. I even picked up a new nutcracker this year to add to my collection.

When I put together this outfit for the ballet, I actually didn’t have this location in mind for photos, but it ended up being perfect because I matched the tree! The outfit revolved around my gorgeous new statement earrings from Moorea Seal. I originally had an all-black outfit in mind, but I didn’t like how everything looked together so I swapped my black sweater for this burgundy one. I felt very festive in this look, which makes it a win in my book!

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J.Crew Factory sweater / ModCloth skirt (old; similar; last seen here) and wedges / L’eggs tights (exact) / Moorea Seal earrings (on sale!)

Linking up with Jenna‘s Thursday Favorites