Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy Humpday!

Happy Wednesday! Today, I'm linking up with Kathy at Vodka and Soda and sharing some Humpday Confessions.

...I had a panic attack at graduation. Not the normal "I'm graduating college" kind, but the "President Obama is speaking and there's people with huge guns surrounding me and a plane is going to crash into the stadium and I never realized how claustrophobic I am until this exact second" kind. I had to leave the stadium while the PhD students' names were being called.

I'm down there somewhere among 10,000 other graduates. 

...This happens to me more often than I'd like to admit. I love wine. (Who doesn't?) I've gotten a lot better at opening it, but corks that are really dry just give me grief sometimes!

Whoops.

...This semester is really kicking my butt. Between a full time course load, a job, an internship, and mountains of homework, it's been almost impossible to get enough sleep or get together with friends. It actually has been impossible to hit the gym. STRESS. Things should lighten up over the summer and into next year, but I really am ready to have a regular 9-5 job that I can forget about when I leave each day.

...Like most everyone else, I cannot WAIT for summer. Aside from the obvious, (warm weather, sun, etc.) I'm looking forward to visiting my hometown ice cream stand to order my favorite dessert. 

Peanut butter cup sundae, you make the world a better place. 
...I bought this beer because it was cute. I'm a sucker for cute labels/advertising. 


...This is how I feel most days. #sorrynotsorry 

Just, why. 

Only two more days until the weekend - we've got this!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What I'm Loving This Week

I swear I have new favorite things every week: songs, jewelry, clothes, spaces in my house, you name it. I thought I'd share some of this weeks favorites with you all!

Here's what I'm loving this week:

In the home: We picked up pairs of these pillows at Ikea last weekend, and I am obsessed. The lower left corner of the map pillow even has a little whale on it!


To drink: There's this great sports bar near my apartment that serves drinks in giant chalices two days/week for ridiculously low prices. How pretty (and delicious) does this drink look?


In my closet: I have been expanding my collection of rings over the past few months. I have small hands and have previously had trouble finding rings that fit, but I have found some great pieces. I like jewelry that makes a statement but isn't too over the top. I also like pieces that can be paired with all sorts of colors and styles.My favorite this week is this little guy. Hoot hoot! 


Source: Old Navy

On Netflix: I've been rewatching Sister Wives this week. It's on in the background as I write this, and Robyn is about to give birth to Solomon. I'm so enthralled. Don't judge. 


What are some things that you're loving this week? 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Painting and Wine and Pottery, Oh My!

I've always been under the impression that a birthday shouldn't be celebrated for just one day. Which is why I was so excited that I was able to continue my birthday celebrations this weekend!

After a long day of work on Friday, I couldn't wait to check out Clay Cafe and paint some pottery with one of my old roommates! I painted an oversized mug and she chose a vase. Afterwards we relaxed with wine and margaritas because, duh.

These little guys are the best. 

 To top it all off, we found Miley Cyrus's LOL on Netflix.


This movie was hilarious... hilariously awful. There was no plot, terrible dialogue, and some really rough acting. I just kept waiting for something to happen. (Still waiting.) At the start of the movie, Miley introduces herself as "Lola. But all of my friends just call me Lol." Throughout the ENTIRE movie, no one called her Lol. (lol.) That being said - go watch it with your best friend. It was good for oh so many laughs. 

My mom was feeling better after being sick last weekend, so she was able to come up to visit on Saturday. She had a surprise day planned that started with the most amazing brunch (banana walnut pancakes!) and ended with, you guessed it, pottery painting. It was fun to go back and choose a bigger piece that I had been eyeing the night before. 

So excited to have a new centerpiece for my kitchen table!

I decided to try a new technique on the inside. 1.) Choose a lace design. 2.) Lay lace down. 3.) Paint over lace in desired color. 4.) Panic panic panic. 5.) Pull lace off. 

Panicking...

Voila!
I cannot wait to see how the colors come out after the pieces are fired in the kiln!

Sunday was spent reading over 300 pages in Jodi Picoult's newest book, The Storyteller. Jodi, you did it again with the plot twists! I'm still trying to pick my jaw up off the ground. 

Linking up with The Rachael Way and Ameliorer la Vie


The Rachael Way

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Quilting with T-Shirts

I have been talking about making a T-shirt quilt since I graduated high school. I had dreams of having enough space in my dorm to have my sewing machine. Remember Paris's craft corner in Gilmore Girls?

What dorm has this much space? And a fireplace!? 

After I realized (again) that Gilmore Girls had set unrealistic expectations for college life, I knew that this project would most likely be pushed back until after I graduated. Undergrad came and went, and my T-shirt collection grew larger each year. It eventually got to the point that my dresser drawer was overflowing, and something just had to be done. It was time. 

I first laid out all of the shirts that I wanted to include in the quilt. This was difficult because I wanted to use an unrealistic number - I wanted even the shirts with minimal significance to be included.

Tentative layout
The next step was cutting the shirts. Oh my GOSH was this part stressful. It wasn't like any old sewing project where, if you mess up, you just cut another piece. There was only one of each shirt! So many deep breaths were taken to keep myself calm during this process.

I wanted to outline each of the shirt squares with a fabric to make the quilt look more complete. After hours spent at Jo-Ann Fabrics, I found a border print that didn't clash with any of the T-shirt patterns. 


After I had all of my fabric cut, it was time to start sewing!




I pieced the quilt together over about 3 weekends. When was putting in the final stitches, I remember thinking that I was more proud of this quilt than I was of myself when I got my first grad school acceptance. (#priorites?) 

The finished product!

The quilt is oversized on my full bed, and fits a queen perfectly. This was an absolutely amazing way for me to preserve so many high school and college shirts - I love snuggling up under some of my favorite memories when it's time for bed! 

If you are interested in having a T-shirt quilt made, please email me at refiningbliss@gmail.com to discuss size, color, and pricing options! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Feeling 22

Friday was Valentine's Day. More importantly though, Friday was my birthday! This year was the first time in my whole college career that I have gone to class or work on my birthday. (I had missed too many classes due to the snow/ice/below-0 mess that happened a few weeks ago, and I couldn't afford to miss another.) After making it through 1 1/2 hours of class and 3 1/2 hours of work, I decided to take myself shopping as a reward for being responsible. I treated myself to a basic black maxi dress, a fun ruffle tank, and hair clips from H&M! (Other gifts to myself this year included One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak and a Vera Bradley large cosmetic in Canterberry Magenta. Fingers crossed that I'll be able to do even more traveling in my 22nd year!)

I came home to find two bottles of the most adorable wine (Little Penguin) and a sweet card sitting on the kitchen table.
The corks have penguin feet on them!
After popping open the Merlot, I got to kick my feet up, watch the olympics, and browse some blogs while this handsome guy made me a delicious birthday/Valentine's dinner in our new house. 

Saturday was spend at Ikea picking out new furniture for my craft room! (Pictures to come after the room is painted and everything is in its place.) Ikea is one of my favorite places to visit - I love colors, patterns, and design, and it's so fun to see the countless ways that you can decorate your home. 
I tried to buy a couch on Saturday. Thank goodness
we didn't have a way to get it home!
After spending nearly four hours browsing, squealing, stressing, and then ultimately deciding what I wanted, Chipotle was an absolute necessity. 



Ryan started to build the furniture after we arrived home...

...while I climbed in this box...
There's the H&M tank!
...and posted up in the middle of the room, very much in the way.

My mom was supposed to visit on Sunday, but unfortunately she caught the flu. Instead, I had a wonderful lazy day crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves, watching Harry Potter 7 part 2, and cleaning up my craft room mess that can be seen behind me in the picture above.

If you are interested in ordering a pair of hand-crocheted
fingerless gloves,  please email me at
refiningbliss@gmail.com to discuss color options
and pricing!
It was such a wonderful birthday weekend, and I'm looking forward to continuing the celebrations next weekend with some girlfriends. Paint-your-own-pottery here we come! 

Linking up with The Rachael Way and Ameliorer la Vie!

The Rachael Way

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My First #TBT

This is my first Throwback Thursday post EVER. I'm not really sure how it's supposed to go. I think it starts something like #tbt that time I went to the Harry Potter studios and toured all the things.

So. Much. Joy. 
It was literally the best day of my whole life, if you couldn't tell that already from my face above. I went on the tour with about 10 fellow students on a Spring Break study abroad program. (We were in London for 10 days and took The Tube, a train, and a bus to get to the studio!) I'm just going to put it out there - all 10 of us cried at some point on this magical tour.

Not me, not Hermione, YOU.  

The tour had all of the original sets, props, and costumes that were used throughout all 8 Harry Potter movies!

Dan Radcliffe has small hands

We were able to take a walk through Diagon Alley, run through the Great Hall, and hop on the Knight Bus.



It was so amazing to see all of the props that were used in the movie, preserved and displayed so nicely!

Still waiting on my Hogwarts letter...
The graveyard was even creepier in person!
Harry Potter fans, if you ever find yourself in London, this is something that you just have to do. It was a little on the expensive side, but so so worth it. 

Hanging out at Hogwarts
We spent about 3 hours at the studio taking the tour and browsing the gift shop. I picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as my souvenir. Well, that and the 400 pictures that I took during that magical, magical day.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Year of Savings

Before the start of the New Year, I found this post from The College Prepster about a One Year Savings Schedule. As a part-time worker, full-time student, this seemed like a realistic savings plan that I could work into my budget over the year. This might be embarrassing, but I haven't had any real experience with saving. I'm definitely frugal, but I haven't previously set money aside with the intention of saving it for at least an entire year. It's time for that to change.

My One Year Savings Schedule looks like this:

The idea is that you save the dollar amount that corresponds to the week number. During week 1, you save $1, week 2, $2, and so on. I modified this savings plan sightly - I'm trading off for a low amount and a high amount every other week, working my way towards the middle. During week 1, I saved $1 and then during week 2, I saved $52. I chose to do it this way so that I'm saving relatively the same amount each month instead of only saving $10 in January and then trying to set aside $202 next December. (On top of Christmas shopping, this just didn't seem possible.) At the end of the year, I will have saved $1,378. Not too shabby for someone who is new to the whole savings thing, huh? 

My plan has been going well so far! The amounts are manageable with my income and expenses (although I'm sure this model could be modified to accommodate any budget!), and it has been rewarding to watch my savings account grow little by little each week. I'm hoping that life won't get in the way and that at the end of the year I'll be able to use my savings for something fun. (Hello vacation?!) 

What are some savings/budgeting strategies that have worked for you? 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pumpkin on My Mind


Fall is my favorite season. I love the crunch of fallen leaves under my boots when I walk to classes, I love apple picking, and I love how most everyone is in a wonderful mood because of the wonderful weather. What I love most about fall, however...pumpkin EVERYTHING.

Pumpkin pie, pumpkin beer, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin english muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin candles, pumpkin muffins, picking out pumpkins, pumpkin carving, The Great Pumpkin, pumpkin everything.

Pumpkin season is here and gone in the blink of an eye, and then it's winter. I don't know about you, but I have not been enjoying this winter. Temperatures below zero, icy highways, and snow up to my knees are just not my favorite. Last week, when I was visiting my mom and hanging out with Jodi Picoult, I found myself wistfully dreaming of pumpkin season. Then...

It was just like Linus said it would be. The Great Pumpkin rose out of the pumpkin patch and brought me the most wonderful goodies, just not on Halloween! (Maybe Linus should try waiting in the pumpkin patch in February...) I was so happy to find this pumpkin face mask in my mom's beauty supply stash!

My mom had bought this pumpkin(!) face mask from Bath and Body Works back in the fall for $12. It is no longer available in stores or online, but it should be back again next pumpkin season. We each used the product, and there was plenty left for future masks. 

As you can see from the picture, the mask was orange! I was worried about it staining my washcloth when I took off the mask, but the color rinsed right out of the fabric. The mask had a texture and smell just like pumpkin pie filling. It was just what I had been dreaming of! 
The mask was almost the same color as my hair!

Overall, the mask left my face feeling soft, although not quite as rejuvenated as I had hoped. I was fine with that though - I was just so happy to get my little taste of Fall. 





Thursday, February 6, 2014

My First VoxBox!

About two months ago, I discovered a website called Influenster through Melissa at Daily Chaos. Influenster is an amazing site where bloggers, tweeters, YouTubers, and Facebookers galore come together to review products, foods, drinks, you name it. If you are active enough on the site (and lucky!) you might be selected to receive one of their coveted VoxBoxes - companies will mail you products to sample and review online. It reminds me a lot of monthly box subscriptions like Ipsy and Birchbox, but Influenster is free to join, although products are not guaranteed.

I received my first VoxBox last week! The winter weather has been brutal here, so this was a great little "winter can't beat me!" pick-me-up.
Let me start off by saying that I have been a fan of Dove products for a long time, so I was thrilled to see that Influenster had matched me with this campaign. During my undergrad years, I had shied away from the brand, opting for the other brands that offered a lower price. This complimentary Dove Advanced Care deodorant/antiperspirant might just change my mind about always searching for the best bargain - this deodorant rocks!

In the best way, it feels like you're applying lotion as you use the product. In addition to Dove deodorant and antiperspirant, you're getting the benefits of a moisturizer that minimizes dry skin and razor nicks in this winter weather. Thanks again to Dove and Influenster for allowing me to sample this product. It's been such a great experience!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Successful Schizophrenia

This past Tuesday, one of my favorite authors came to visit Ohio University and the Athens Public Library! Are any of you fans of Jodi Picoult?
I've been reading her books since early high school, and to say I was thrilled to see her speak is quite the understatement. Jodi (we're on a first name basis) visited the Athens library for a quick interview and book signing and then gave a longer lecture at Ohio University later in the evening. My mom and I, excited fans that we are, attended both events and were in awe of her strength and conviction as an author and as a woman. 

Do you remember that scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (movie) where Mrs. Weasley is fighting her way to meet Gilderoy Lockhart, huge stack of books in tow? That was my mom and me at the Athens library. Combined, we hauled 7 books up for Jodi to sign and fought our way to the near front of an eager crowd. When I set them down on the table she exclaimed, "Wow, are these all yours?!" as though after 25 years as a published author, she is still surprised that people enjoy her work as much as they do. 

Lots of books for Jodi to sign!
What I most enjoyed was listening to Jodi speak at Ohio University. She discussed the idea of "truth in fiction," and talked about the many experiences that she's had while researching for her books. (Ghost hunting, elephant riding, "if you can name it, [she's] done it." During the Q&A, another guest at the lecture asked how real the characters in Jodi's books are to her. She said that she can hear the characters in her mind as she writes. "Writing is like successful schizophrenia," she said. "I get paid to hear voices in my head." I've heard several authors speak in the past, and some of them make it sound like such a chore. Jodi's passion and excitement for learning, researching, and writing truly came through. I cannot wait to read more of her work
My mom and I hanging out with Jodi 
Who are some of your favorite authors?