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Monday, August 29

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links; I may be compensated for sales made via these links. Thank you for your support of my blog.

Hello, friends!

Happy Monday. Can you believe that this week we'll be starting the month of September? Not only, it's the year moving way too fast for me, I came to the realization that Christmas is less than four months away.

Now, I'm not one of those people that advocates decorating before Halloween. However, we are living on a pretty tight budget as we try to get out of debt, which means that we have to take control of the holiday spending. Here of my tips for putting together your holiday budget.

Make a Holiday Game Plan

Take a few to make a list of your holiday needs. I'm sure that gifts come to mind immediately, but there can be more to consider:
  • Will you buy ready-made gifts or make them? What craft supplies are needed for handmade gifts? 
  • What about holiday cards and postage? Will you be having family photos taken?
  • Do you need to replenish my baking supplies for pies and cookies? 
  • Will any of your lights need replacing? What about other decorations?
  • Do your kids need new clothes for parties and family events?

After you've made your list of holiday spending needs, set some dollar amounts to these categories so you have an overall holiday budget. This is your magic number, and you're not spending more than this.


Put Holiday Savings in Your Budget

If you're working off a zero-based budget, this is the time to add that savings fund line to your budget if you haven't already. Take your magic number and divide it by the number of months you plan to save...if you're starting now, that would be four.

Let's pretend for a moment that our magic number is $1000. That would mean that we have to save $250 each month to meet our budget. Since we're on Baby Step 2, adding a line for $250 isn't something that I can just drop into my budget, so are some other ways that I'm finding money for our holiday fund:
  1. Reallocating leftover dollars from cash envelopes - We're splitting leftover money from our grocery, pets supplies and clothing envelopes between our holiday fund and debt.
  2. Selling items around the house  - Back-to-school is a great time for that garage sale, but if you don't have time to hold one, snap some pictures and get those items for sale on Facebook or Ebay
  3. Turn a hobby into income - The Mister has been detailing cars are $100 a pop to help bring in extra money. We've been alternating this income between debt payments and savings.


Stalk the Sales

The beauty of having that holiday plan is that you have a detailed list of your needs. So you can start picking items up as you find them on sale. You have plenty of time, so you can be patient and get the best deals.
  • Shop early for the lowest prices on photo cards on Tiny Prints and Shutterfly
  • Snag chocolate up just after Halloween for your baking needs
  • Put those 40% off coupons to use at Hobby Lobby and Michael's
  • Keep an eye on Amazon Lightning Sales for deals on gift items


When it comes to holiday shopping, what is your biggest challenge for staying on budget? What are your tricks and tips for staying on budget when it comes to the holidays?

Need some more ideas for lowering the holiday budget? 

See what's inspiring me for the holidays by following my Holiday Style: Christmas board on Pinterest.





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Friday, August 26

Good morning, lovelies!

It's time for the Friday Confessional party. Confession is good for the soul, so stop by to share all your dirty, little secrets. You'll feel better when you're finished, and we promise not to judge.


I confess...

This weekend is going to involve lots of packing and moving furniture for my parents. I cannot believe that by the end of the weekend, they will have moved away from South Carolina. I see lots of trips to the West Coast in my future.

I confess...

I may or may not have been crocheting almost all day yesterday to finish up my piece for the local yarnbombing. That's a major project that has now been put to bed since I'll be turning my piece in before I head out of town this afternoon.

Luckily, this means that I've learned how to quickly hook up some autumn leaves and pumpkins so expect to see some fun fall items showing up soon in my Etsy shop Chasing Blue Jays.

A photo posted by Aubrey (@chasingbluejays) on


I confess...

I am so stinkin' excited that college football starts next week. It feels like forever since I've watched some Gamecock football.

Usually, we head over to a friend's house for the first game of the season, but they'll be out of town this year and the Mister is working. I better figure out what I'm doing soon.



I confess...

I still have not registered or booked my plane tickets for my work conference that it only three weeks away. I really need to get on that since I'm supposed to be a delegate for our local chapter. The truth is that the trip looks better on paper than it actually is; I'd much rather be staying home.


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Thursday, August 25

Hello, friends!

Welcome to the Monthly Coffee, a little linky party hosted by me and Miss Angie from My So-Called Chaos. This party is all about sharing those fabulous blogs that you've read this month.


Let's grow our blogger community by sharing the best posts you've come across. You'll find new blogs to read, and we'll all make new friends.

So pour yourself a steamy beverage, grab the button and share your favorite reads this month. That said, here were my favorite reads lately:

Thirty Things I've Learned in Thirty Years

I have lots of bloggy friends with August birthdays, and Heather at Simply Save turned 30 this month. She shared some lessons she's learned along the way, and there are some great gems of wisdom in her list.

How to Stay Productive While Traveling on Business

It seems like all I've done this summer is travel, and I have another trip looming next month. Whether I'm traveling for work or personal reasons, I have felt like I'm always falling behind at the office and on the blog. Luckily, the Wonder Forest has a list of great ways to stay productive.

DIY Washi Tape Notebooks & Pencils

Since I just received my new life planner last week and prepped (read my planner review HERE), I've been obsessing over planners and office supplies. AND I always love a good DIY project, which The Perfect Storm delivers in this tutorial for washi tape notebooks and pencils. It's fun and cheap way to personalize your office.

How to Save Money on Make-Up

One of the sacrifices that I've made as part of our financial peace journey (learn more about our journey HERE) is switching from high-end to more frugally priced make-up brands. For me, that's meant using more of what I already own and finding drug-store brands to meet my needs. I loved Sunny Sweet Days' tips to save money on make-up. There were some ideas that I had not thought of.



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Friday, August 19

Good morning, lovelies!

It's time for the Friday Confessional party. Confession is good for the soul, so stop by to share all your dirty, little secrets. You'll feel better when you're finished, and we promise not to judge.


I confess...

It's been one of those weeks where I feel like I've been spinning my wheels, even though I can look back at my to-do list and see that I've accomplished a lot. I had one big work goal for the week, and want the paperwork turned in today. If this works out, it will finish up a project I've been working on for 3 years...fingers crossed that this happens.

I confess...

In the meantime, I'm super glad that our massage weekend is this weekend because I could use some body work like nobody's business. I haven't gotten as many practice massages finished as I'd like, but I am feeling a lot more confident in my ability and knowledge of the treatment. I'm happy that at this point, I can feel like I can just flow through it without having to stop and check on my next step.

I confess...

The college students moved back in last weekend at the university, and I can definitely tell. Sometimes I feel like an old curmudgeon; it hasn't been that long since I was a student here.

I've gotten caught in traffic more than once driving through the university, and I am continually amazed at how many students will walk out in the road into traffic, looking at their phones, completely clueless to the fact that there are cars and people trying to get places.

Don't get me started about going to the grocery store. If ever there is a time to remind me that I am solidly in my 30s and not my 20s, it's back to school time around the university.

I confess...

I have to kick it into high gear with my crochet project for our local yarnbombing project. It's due next weekend, and I have a lot of work to finish up. I've been so focused on stuff for my black belt exam that this deadline sneaked up on me.

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Thursday, August 18

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated for purchases made via these links. Thank you for your support of my blog.

In my neighborhood, today is the first day of school. While I don't have children, my office is across the street from our local high school; so, I get to see and sometimes sit in all the school traffic. For me, this is a reminder that my busiest season is about to start, and it's also time to order my new life planner for the 2016-2017.

It seems to me like I've been using a planner for forever. In high school, the school district used to distribute student planners with all the district holidays noted. There were weekly spreads with room for us to note all of our assignments and extracurricular activity schedules. I continued to use a student planner through college, which was necessary since I worked full-time while going to college.


I fell away from using a planner once I graduated until I bought my business in 2011, and then I quickly realized I needed more than a digital calendar to keep up with all my work and life obligations. Now, I live and breathe by my planner. If it doesn't get written down, it's not likely to happen.

Given that I scheduled my first 2017 obligations back in June, I've been reviewing my 2016-17 life planner options. For me, a planner must meet these requirements:

  • I have plenty of room for daily appointments and notes.
  • There are monthly tabs to make flipping to the monthly overview quick and easy.
  • The planner is small enough and sturdy enough for me to carry with day-to-day to meetings.
  • It has a little color and other fun elements.
I've used the same planner style for the five years, but when I realized it was time to order another planner, I asked my friends about other options just to see what else is out there these days. Here are four popular options.

Passion Planner

The Passion Planner has a slim profile and is bound with a faux leather, which makes it easy for transport. The pages lay flat. The planner has lots of worksheets to help your plan, track and accomplish goals. The planner can be ordered in academic or classic planner version. There is also an undated version so you can start using this planner at any time during the year.

Passion Planner has a pay it forward program; for every planner purchased, they donate a planner to someone in need. In fact, if you can't afford to purchase a life planner, they offer their page layouts and many inserts as free pdf downloads on their website.


Do you want to learn more about ways to use a Passion Planner? Check out Krystal's review on Sunny Sweet Days.



The Happy Planner

The Happy Planner is designed by Me and My Big Ideas, but it can also be purchased in local retail stores such as Hobby Lobby or ordered online via Amazon. It runs 18 months from July 2016 to December 2017. In addition to eight planner covers to choose from, the planner is disc-bound, which makes it easy to add, remove and rearrange pages to your preference.


Creativity planning is encouraged with lots of stickers, clips and themed planner extensions available for sale. This makes it perfect for someone who keeps their planners as kind of journal or scrapbook; they even have a scrapbooking box to help you get started. If you have an arc-style hole punch, you can download and print additional pages or create your own.



Erin Condren Life Planner

This is the system I've been using for years; Erin Condren Life Planners have permanent or interchangeable covers that can be personalized with your name, favorite colors, and photos.

The planner is spiral bound and offered in a 12-month or 18-month option. The weekly page spreads are now offered in a vertical or horizontal layout. In addition to monthly overviews, there are 2-pages spreads of 2017 and 2018 monthly calendars so you can check next year's dates at a glance.
Like many other systems, Erin Condren offers a line of accessories, including clip-ins, pens, and fitness or meal planning journals. You can also order personalized photo stickers as well as matching stationery products.



Living Well Planner

The Living Well Planner is designed by Ruth Soukup, the author of Living Well, Spending Less and Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul. The planner is hardcover with reinforced corners which is spiral-bound, and it has a front pocket to keep your paperwork together.

This planner has color-code pages to help you keep your life balanced. The planner includes monthly and weekly spreads. It also has pages included for goal tracking, meal planning, and budgeting/expense tracking pages.

The new 2016-17 planner isn't available yet, but you can reserve a copy and it will ship on Aug. 31. Ruth is offering the planner by itself and two different bundles that include her books.



Honorable Mentions


  • Color Crush Planner
  • Kate Spade Planner
  • May Designs


How do you keep your life organized - a planner, a digital calendar, a notebook and pen? Tell me about your system in the comments.


Have you enjoyed this post? Then you might want to follow my Planner Squad board on Pinterest to get more planner ideas.






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Monday, August 15

When I was reviewing my calendar for August, I realized that it was going to be necessary for me to have a day with some free time, and I decided that today had to be the day.


Over the weekend, we went to an outdoor wedding (read: ridiculously hot), moved furniture at my dad's house and went out for my birthday last night. Seriously, sometimes you just need a mental health day.

Funny coincidence that today also happens to be National Relaxation Day.

Now to be clear, this is not the same thing as having a day where I don't adult. As much as I'd enjoy a day like that, I actually need to catch up on things today. Here's what the schedule looks like:


7:30 Puppy Alarm Clock

Believe it or not, this is sleeping in for me, but I have two dogs. There's no way they'll allow me to stay in bed too late. Roscoe's typically M.O. is to lick my ear to let me know he needs to go outside.


7:30 to 10:00 Coffee

Also, putzing around in my pajamas, working on this blog post and watering the garden. I really need a lot of time to hatch in the morning.

11:30-12:45 Make-Up Massage Lesson

I missed the July class since I was helping my parents with their yard sale and getting things ready for the open  house; so, we scheduled a make-up anatomy and Chinese medicine lesson since my instructor had room in his schedule today.

1:30-3:30 Jujitsu Notebook

If you've read my August goals post, then you know that I'm woefully behind on updating my notebook for jujitsu, and this will stand in the way of my being eligible for my black belt exam if I don't get it done. Having a few solid hours to work on it without interruptions is definitely needed.


4:00 to 6:00 TV time

It is my relaxation day so I do need at least one activity that is just for pleasure so I'm going to get caught up on Bachelor in Paradise; it's a guilty pleasure. Though I have to admit, I'll probably be doing laundry during the commercial breaks.


7:00 to 9:00 Jujitsu

I can't afford to miss any classes with the exam only eight weeks away.

How would you spend a day off? Would you completely pamper yourself or use the time to get caught up on other life details.





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Friday, August 12

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links; I may be compensated for purchases made via these links. Thank you for your support of my blog.

Good morning, lovelies!

It's time for the Friday Confessional party. Confession is good for the soul, so stop by to share all your dirty, little secrets. You'll feel better when you're finished, and we promise not to judge.


I confess...

With the Mister starting his new job, I've been trying to adjust my schedule. When he switches to third shift, there will be more that I need to take care of around our house in the mornings so I'm trying to get up earlier.

This is easier said than done. I really like my sleep, but I have managed to drag myself out of bed nearly two hours earlier than I'm used to. I hope this new habit establishes soon. In the meantime, I'll have another cup of coffee.



I confess...

You know those times when everything winds up happening on the same day? This Saturday is one of those. We were invited to two family weddings, and there's a judo tournament that our dojo is helping host.

Obviously, we can't do all three so we're heading to a wedding, but I really want to compete in the tournament, too. I've told my fellow students that they have to take lots of pictures so I can live vicariously through them.

I confess...

I've been waffling back and forth about attending a conference next month in Las Vegas. I've visited Vegas before, and this conference is a really inconvenient weekend for me to be gone. However, I am the president of my local professional organization, and I should attend to vote and get updates for the membership.


This decision would be a lot easier if it weren't just weeks before my black belt and massage exams...or if the Mister could come with me.

I confess...

I've been a busy bee on the blog lately as a result of getting involved with Inspired Bloggers University. As a result of the classes that I'm taking with Tabitha Philen, I'm working hard to step up my blogging game.

I hope you're enjoying the new look and expanded content. I'd love to hear what you think of the changes. If you have feedback or want to see more of something, please feel free to email me at aubrey@high-heeledlove.com.


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Wednesday, August 10

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Hello, fellow winos!

Welcome to Wino Wednesday! This is a monthly linky party where we discuss any and all things wine-related. If you want to join in the fun, all you have to do is pour yourself a glass and share your love of wine with us.

This week, I came across this awesome list of a dozen uses for wine racks from Apartment Therapy. Let's be real, wine doesn't last long enough in our house to be stored in racks. My favorite is this yarn storage system from Repeat Crafter Me.


I came across this system a while ago and didn't realize that it was wine racks so I had asked the Mister to build me something. Now that I realize it's wine racks, I've been searching for the best solution to make it my own.


I'm loving this hexagonal wine rack from World Market. It would be easy to start with 2-3 and then expand the system as the need to store more yarn grows.


I have also decided that this is the cutest wine caddy for travel. Perfect for bringing new bottles home from a tasting or for heading out to a party or picnic. Isn't the quote on the side of the carrier perfect?


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Tuesday, August 9

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I realized early last month that I had not read a single fiction book all year. All my reading has been non-fiction, most were leadership or financial books. There's certainly nothing wrong with reading for education and growth, but I knew that I needed to add some reading for fun to my bookshelf this summer.

Given that today is National Book Lovers Day, I wanted to share what has been on my reading list lately.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Okay, I mentioned that a couple weeks ago that I've been listening to the Harry Potter series on Audible, and I'm currently sympathizing with a very moody 15-year-old boy in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I haven't read these books since college, and it's amazing how much detail I had forgotten. I'm hoping to wrap the last few books in the series up before Labor Day. Listening on audio has been a fun way to enjoy the wizarding world while driving and running errands.


Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks


By the way, Audible is offering two free titles when your start a free 30-day trial membership; this special promotion runs through the end of the year.

The King's Curse

I used to love Philippa Gregory's books, and I'm not really sure why I stopped reading her. I loved her Wideacre Trilogy and The Other Boleyn Girl. I think life just got in the way. Anyway, The King's Curse is the final book of six in The Cousins' War series, which following the royal English family during the War of the Roses.



You don't have to read the entire series to enjoy the book, but I will confess I'm a bit of a historical fiction junkie when it comes to this era. If you aren't familiar with the history there, the names and titles of the characters might be confusing.

Before the Fall

This book has been mentioned several times on Anne Bogle's podcast What to Read Next, and it's a New York Times Bestseller. So when my step-mom handed me Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (creator of the tv show Fargo) and told me I needed to read it, I didn't hesitate to accept.


I've only just started the, but I can tell I'm going to enjoy it. The book tells the story of 11 passengers on a plane from Martha's Vineyard to New York City, which crashes 16 minutes after the flight takes off. I promise that last sentence didn't contain spoilers; you'll get that much from the book jacket.


And since today is National Book Lovers Day, I couldn't resist sharing this fun Book Lovers Art piece made from upcycled book pages. It would make a fabulous gift for the reader in your life.


I'd love to hear what's on your reading list this summer. Have discovered any new loves? Do you have a favorite author that I should know about?






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