Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Plethora of Birthday Purchases

I went shopping on my April 15th birthday. It was wonderful! I returned to my apartment with many shopping bags.

There was also major buying throughout my birthday month. I started with this wishlist. Let my gushing over all my new pretty things begin!

On that Wednesday, after picking up tea and coffee in to-go cups as well as showing off my favorite coffee shop, my mom and I went shopping in Annapolis, a city I adore.

I was fairly successful at the Annapolis Mall. There were things, however, that I couldn't find nor order plus others simply didn't work out. My first stop was Aldo Shoes. They didn't have the handbag in black that I wanted but it was nice to check out the bag in different colors and patterns. I declined ordering the tote in store for some reason, but ended up ordering it online the next day. I've been carrying it since its arrival and it's nice. I'm not crazy about the gold hardware and leather texture, but I hate complaining about such a decent bag at a fair price. I like the overall style, large open interior and useful pockets for organization. In the store, I picked up a pair of black leather ballet flats with a patent cap toe to wear after work and on my weekends. These shoes are my signature. Not on my wishlist of 31 items, it would have been #32.

My favorite clothing store, Ann Taylor was next. I tried on the black layered tank and black pencil skirt and liked both but didn't love them, so I didn't buy them. After checking nearby store inventory for an item on my phone, I asked one of the salespeople if it was possible to see if another store still had the pair of dark gray pants in my size to ship to me. She called on my behalf but, sadly, they were not there. This was priority #1 and I plan to visit the store where I bought this wardrobe staple that matches my blazer still in good shape, the Ann Taylor Factory Store, soon before giving up and trying to find a close match.

Next door is White House Black Market. The sale dress I adored in either pink or black was, of course, sold out completely. Oh well.

Then, the two of us browsed the always interesting Francesca's Collections.

After that, we wandered the shoe section of Nordstrom. I tried on the pair of nude pumps and the sparkly flat sandals that I installed on my wishlist. The heels were lovely but the color didn't work well with my skin tone. And the sandals were too sparkly to be my casual flat sandals. I actually ordered a pair of silver metallic flat sandals that were just a little less sparkly from DSW's website. Anyway, this was the fourth store in a row that I walked out of empty-handed.

Fortunately, I was successful at JCPenney. I chose this casual blazer in black. It ended up being $10 cheaper on clearance rather than just on sale. I also purchased a pair of regular length jeans to wear with heels. They were my 'go to' 515 bootcut jeans by Levi's.

I tried on a white button down shirt from New York & Company but didn't love it. Plus, it was "Buy One Get One Free" and they only had one of my size in stock.

On the way towards Maggiano's for lunch, we stopped at Crate & Barrel for five clear glass jars. I love them inside my kitchen cabinets. I didn't purchase the striped placemats because they weren't absolutely perfect and, really, I talked myself out of buying them. I didn't even look for the more expensive roaster as I don't need it until the fall and can wait to catch it on sale.

After shopping through the Annapolis Mall, we also had lunch there, at the Maggiano's. I ordered the delicious Mom's Lasagna for lunch ...and for dinner because they give you another order to go! The box was labeled with a web address for proper reheating directions. Each meal was delicious and accompanied by a glass of Chianti, certo! I redeemed a birthday discount offer (so be sure to sign up for email!).
After lunch, we walked to my favorite store, the nearby HomeGoods. An item from this store made the wishlist and I came out with two: a red rectangular decorative pillow for my sofa and a dark pink bordered and lined white notepad I can use for shopping lists.

We drove a few stoplights down the road to the Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole, an upscale outdoor shopping center, for two stores.

First was Bin 201, the wine shop that dreams are made of. E had introduced me to it. I showed my little list of three wines from the tasting at O Chateau in Paris last year and asked the employee if he had either the exact white and rosé or perhaps something similar. Even though he was willing to try and order the exact bottles, I requested that he show me similar wines. He told me what they tasted like and answered my questions. I took a bottle of French rosé at $17.99. Plus, I also wanted to see a red like Chianti Classico since I normally drink Chianti and that would be an upgrade. I almost went with a Chianti from Siena before I inquired about Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, the wine from the region where I studied abroad. There seemed to be multiple choices and one of the bottles he pointed to on the bottom shelf he proclaimed an excellent value at $12.99. I tasted my red selection last Saturday night and this Masciarelli from 2012 is so full on the palate, with some fruit, but really earthy, without a major finish. It's what I remember it tasting like in Italy (as well as a bottle I came across here once). I would like to pair this particular wine with a meal and hope to come up with the perfect pairing... steak on the grill on the summer night or chili on a cold winter evening? Anyway, I wanted a nice bottle of wine for my birthday and ended up with two. His expert product knowledge plus the large selection made it an exceptional shopping experience. At checkout, I signed up for their loyalty program. The first email I received was advertising an old movie screening of Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe accompanied by tastings of Italian wine. Doesn't that sound fabulous? I also wandered onto their facebook page one day shortly after the visit and saw they offered a mixed half-case of wine called April in Paris. This wine store might be reason enough for me to move to Annapolis!

The second stop at the ATC was Sur la Table. I had never been and it was nice! I bought two little things on my wish list there: the Eiffel Tower espresso cup (on sale) and a teddy bear cookie cutter. One of my favorite possessions is a bear I played with throughout my childhood, so this cookie cutter shape is very me. I did drink from the cup a few mornings, but the size is quite large for an espresso cup, so I put it in a nightstand drawer to hold my quarters I collect for doing laundry in my building.

Already several hours into the shopping spree, I didn't make my mom drive all the way downtown to the Hobo flagship store. Instead, I tried to order this black wallet from their website but multiple attempts during my birthday evening and the next morning always resulted in an error. Even though I had a Hobo coupon, I still scored it cheaper from Nordstrom's website the next day. Like the other Hobo product I possess, the exterior is beautiful, the interior is surprisingly spacious and it's of high quality. I will feature this upgrade of mine in an upcoming What's in my handbag? blog post.

After being on a rather strict budget for so long, it was kind of tough to spend so much money on myself on my spree in Annapolis. I realized that I was talking myself out of many things. For example, I was in Crate & Barrel holding one of the jars I had daydreamed over for months, talking myself out of buying five, to save the big $50 purchase for later. I may have walked away from them if my mother hadn't volunteered to buy me two. In that same store, unfortunately I succeeded in saying I didn't have to have those four placemats. It did get much easier to make purchases after the shopping spree as I ordered many things online. Maybe it took some time for the idea of treating myself to sink in. Or perhaps not being in person, my picky, perfectionistic self couldn't pick apart an item. It's nice to treat yourself every once in awhile, even with material possessions. I suppose what really matters to you is reflected in what you spend your time and money on. I really try to have the best lifestyle day-to-day and to travel to cities I love. I value experiences over things.

I was a savvy shopper. I am signed up for email for my favorite stores so I have been stalking my email, buying many items at a decent discount. My Coupons email folder is still full of valid birthday offers. I would compare prices and shipping costs between the website and amazon. I think that the $100 I spent on my Amazon Prime membership recently has already paid for itself in free two-day shipping. I saved money for awhile for all this. On the shopping spree, my mom generously treated me to the two JCPenney purchases of the blazer and jeans and my Aldo flats (all such classic, basic go-to's for my wardrobe) as well as jars from Crate & Barrel and lunch from Maggiano's. Thank you, Mom! (I, in turn, will be treating her well for upcoming Mother's Day.)

I purchased a number of things on my wishlist (and not on the list) after this spree. Most were online purchases, but I did pick up two sturdy cookie sheets and a candle from my local Target. I like white jar candles and picked up one by a local company, Chesapeake Bay Candle. I channeled Jennifer (author of At Home with Madame Chic) and selected Blood Orange as a scent to (hopefully) invigorate myself in the morning (75). I ordered another candle on amazon, a small tumbler of True Rose by Yankee Candle. Even though this is not a white candle, the red wax works well with a vignette I have on a small accent table.

Another item I ordered was a white owl soap dispenser from ModCloth that I will use at my kitchen sink. It's really cute in person.

I finally replaced my old twin comforter from college that I use as a comfy throw or extra layer (every winter night). Having selected the Raspberry Tile pattern, I love the pattern and vivid color as well as the quality construction but it has a plasticy feel rather than a cotton one. It's huge for its size, rivaling the size of my queen-size duvet. Nonetheless, I'm still pleased with this item that I scored on quite the discount and hope it lasts 13 years like my last one did. I needed a fifth top for my typical five day work week in my spring capsule wardrobe, so I ordered this printed shirt. It hasn't arrived yet and I hope I like it! Going to buy the shirt at 50% off, this caught my eye and it was 60% off during a flash sale. Since I was thinking of looking for a lightweight scarf for warmer weather anyway, I added it to my shopping bag as well. Speaking of my Spring 2015 capsule wardrobe, I replaced a worn out extra, my black crewneck cardigan. Until I can upgrade to cashmere (during January sales?), I plan to keep this one I ordered from Target that fits well but its big buttons do not thrill me. More online purchases included this pillow cover from Etsy and a pillow insert from amazon (which was much cheaper than it is now). I wanted this new brown pillow to sit next to the new red one from HomeGoods. The cover has not arrived yet. On Saturday morning, I bought these d'Orsay peeptoe flats in my favorite color (dark pink) on a great sale. Highly reviewed (on other websites amazon and zappos), I hope they look good on me!

Wanting to have money for April 15th, I did purchase a bunch of small things before my birthday too. The first was this Chanel coffee table book that I scored when the price suddenly dropped on amazon. I placed it on top of my bookshelf and then stacked two other style books (both by Nina Garcia) and a white jar candle on top.

That's the Blood Orange candle by Chesapeake Bay Candle topping that stack of style books.

I love this white scoopneck short sleeve tee from Boden as it fits perfectly plus it's much more opaque than I've seen a tee in years. But, I still feel like I would wear a cami underneath for modesty. (This extra will be shown in my Spring 2015 Capsule Wardrobe post.) I will be ordering more in the future as well as other items from this lovely company for the summer. On amazon, I bought this black bra from my list but also included the matching panty in my virtual shopping cart. They are beautiful. I bought a couple of highly rated kitchen items on amazon: a madeleine pan and a large sturdy ice cream scoop. I also couldn't resist these cute cocktail napkins several days before my birthday.

Another little item I ordered was this highly pigmented lip gloss which I actually love! Who knew I would be so lucky? (Also to be featured in a future post.) I snatched this tea bag cookie cutter so I could make these adorable cookies just in case I finally learn about tea and throw a tea party. On my Birthday Eve, I downloaded this just released Kindle book after learning about it on facebook from Jamie Cat Callan (who will be in Paris soon!). Even though it's great, I have been basically falling into bed exhausted lately, so I haven't finished it yet.

In addition to the aforementioned roaster, I am saving a couple of items for later like this print (which I would have to pay to have printed plus I would need a frame), a digital camera and a pair of nude flats. There were specific items that didn't work out but I still hope to find a better option like a pair of nude heels and a black pencil skirt. Even though I really want nude flats and heels, perhaps blush might flatter my skin better. Honestly, when I drop the pounds packed on during my birthday month, I should retry that Ann Taylor pencil skirt later. I also want to embrace a different color scheme for my summer capsule wardrobe (which I will elaborate on in a later post) so I would like to order a couple of tops and a dress (from Boden again, plus I can use the birthday offer they emailed which expires May 15th) before Memorial Day. Usually I truly value moderation, but following this extreme shopping spree, maybe I should consider enacting a six-month shopping moratorium from Memorial Day up until Black Friday in November (for online shopping on that day of course. I refuse to go out shopping on that day!). I do want to save money to move.

I treated myself incredibly well this birthday. This out of the ordinary shopping made my 31st memorable.

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