Month: October 2013

Budding Bonus 5: Surviving Breast Cancer

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It’s the last Monday of the month. It’s my final budding bonus “awareness” post. I’m pretty sure we all know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I wanted to share a personal story of someone’s battle with this disease.

My co-worker Terry is now cancer free. When I asked to talk to her about her diagnosis, treatment and recovery I thought I was going to hear a story of heartache, struggle and pain. It was quite the contrary.

Terry proved to be a walking, talking Superwoman survivor and inspirer. “Life” was the only option Terry took seriously.

Terry’s diagnosis pretty much came out of nowhere. Money was tight, so she decided to skip annual mammograms for a couple of years to avoid paying a hefty co-pay. When she was able to make an appointment, doctors found a very small spot on her left breast. The spot was pre-cancerous. It had to go.

While a doctor was removing that spot, he discovered swelling behind her right arm in the lymph nodes.  He decided to take a lymph node out just to see what it was.

So, Terry had to wait on test results. For about three days she waited. Was she nervous? No. She said she was never a nervous wreck. “It is what it is,” she said.

The results came back. It was full blown, Stage 3 breast cancer. Stage 4 is the worst.

Not only was it Stage 3, it was an extremely rare occurence. There was never a noticeable lump. No one knows how long the cancer had been feeding in her body. In her doctor’s ten years of experience, he had seen about six cases like Terry’s.

They had to act. They had to act quickly. They had to act aggressively.

But first, Terry told her mother. It wasn’t a huge shock. Her mother survived breast cancer. She was the first one in her family to be diagnosed. And now, there is Terry. She told her three sons next. She says they seemed to be more freaked out than she was, but they still handled it as best as they could and just wanted to support their mom.

It was all of that support from loved ones and her positive outlook that helped Terry trudge through the rigorous sessions of chemotherapy.

She started chemo almost immediately after being diagnosed. If I thought Terry had been brave up until then, she really proved her superstrength when the treatments began.

She went through chemo for a year. It was always on a Monday.

It started with one big chemo session. The two Mondays after that involved smaller, less taxing sessions. Then the cycle re-started with a “big” session.  Those were the worst. Three hours hooked up to an IV. Sitting and waiting as killer drugs enter the body and try to attack the cancer.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, instead of falling into a bout of depression during this trying time, Terry made the decision to laugh. There were no bucket lists to tackle “just in case.” There was only a new portable DVD player and DVDs of comedy shows. She watched those during her chemo sessions, laughing while the drugs went to work.

Terry didn’t notice any physical effects of the cancer. But, the chemo–that was a different story. After her “big” chemo session, she said it felt like she was “kicked in the butt with the flu.” She was tired and achy. She didn’t want to move, but she never threw up. It was only a couple of days after those big sessions that she missed work during this phase of treatment. This Superwoman trekked through her daily routine at two jobs because this Superwoman had bills to pay.

But no capes are necessary for this Superwoman. She didn’t even need hair. Terry opted not to wear wigs or scarves to cover the peach fuzz that remained on her head. Terry took the whole process in stride.

One thing she was really annoyed by, however, was the inability to enjoy the taste of food–another side effect of chemo. She could smell it, but not taste it. And a couple of days before her next chemo session, she would start to taste hints of her meal, but then it was time for another treatment and the tastebuds rendered useless.

When her four months of big chemo sessions were over, she still continued smaller sessions. But now, she had to think about surgery.

Terry had BRCA testing done to determine if she carried the breast cancer gene. She did. It revealed, cancer was likely to return if she didn’t undergo a double mastectomy. The doctors recommended the surgery. Her family encouraged it.

But Terry didn’t want it. She thought she handled the chemo pretty well. She wanted to take her chances. It was the first time she wanted to stand up to her doctors and rebel. But eventually, after a few weeks, she gave in. She knew she would be playing Russian Roulette with her life and it just wasn’t worth the risk.

Both of her breasts were completely removed–inside and out. As a result, she lost the feeling in her chest. She went to her mother’s home to recover.

And that’s when Terry cried for the first time. Maybe she is human after all. The tears flowed after she felt the pain of trying to tie her own shoes. It was the simplest thing that she used to be able to do, and she couldn’t. She was bandaged, in pain and unable.

She had expanders implanted where her breasts used to be. They would be stretched out during weekly visits to make room for real implants when the time came for reconstruction.”Uncomfortable,” Terry called it, but not anything she couldn’t handle, of course.

She was also still undergoing her smaller chemo treatments, but now that her surgery was over, she was then able to begin the final phase of treatment: Radiation. It was also, what Terry considered, the easiest part of the treatment process. Every day for six weeks, she went through radiation–fifteen minutes under a machine. She compared it to the feeling of a sunburn and it was the light at the end of the tunnel.

When that six weeks was up, Terry only had two more months of little chemo sessions remaining. After that–that was it. Terry was officially cancer-free. Almost as “undramatic” as the cancer seemed to have arrived…it had gone.

Six months later, she was able to complete the reconstruction process (her implants were about the same size as her original cup size–sorry, I had to ask!). During the reconstruction she also had her ovaries removed as a result of her BRCA test. That eliminated the risk of developing Ovarian Cancer. That was when the relief really set in. She knew it was finally all over (with the exception of period check-ups).

From chemo to reconstruction, about a year and a half of Terry’s life had passed. A year of appointments, tests, sickness, pain, discomfort.

But it was also a year of unforgettable love and support. Terry realized just how many people cared about her. Each time someone stopped by her desk at work to check on her. Each phone call of support or message of concern. All of it helped boost her morale. It helped encourage her to fight. To live.

Terry is an amazing woman. She’s stronger than I realized someone could be during this process. She said she’s even stronger than she thought she could be herself.

Terry’s advice for anyone battling cancer: keep a positive outlook, work to reach personal goals (her was taking part in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure) and surround yourself with a great support system. And if you’re a woman, in particular–get those mammograms!

To learn more about Breast Cancer, detection, treatment, recovery and prevention, here are some helpful links:

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Susan G. Komen

By Vanessa Culpepper

Budding Bonus 4: Filipino Pride

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I wasn’t initially going to make this week’s budding bonus about this, but the topic I originally chose was actually an awareness month for another country. OOPS! So I decided to stay closer to home. And closer to my roots.

When I was a little girl, I used to fantasize about having blonde hair and blue eyes. I thought to myself, one day I’m just going to dye my hair blonde and get blue contacts. I thought it would make me beautiful. Can you imagine?!

Today, I am proud of my heritage. My mother is from the Philippines and my father is from the state of Georgia. It’s what makes me who I am and I am (almost) perfectly happy with the way I look!

This post focuses more on my Filipino side because it is Filipino American History Month or Filipino American Heritage Month.

I was born in the Philippines, but unfortunately don’t remember much of it because I was so little when we moved to the States. Luckily, my family became close knit with other Filipino community members. We were active members of the Filipino American Association. My parents still are. It helped me remain in touch with Filipino traditions and my culture.

Growing up, I learned traditional dances, took Tagalog classes (I spoke Tagalog as a child, but lost it pretty quickly when moving to the U.S. And, unfortunately, the Tagalog classes weren’t enough to bring the dialect back.) and ate a lot of traditional Filipino food-some delicious (lumpiapancitchamporado) and some downright scary (dinugan and balut).

Now that I’m an adult and out of my parents’ home, my involvement with other Filipinos is a lot more limited. I did, recently meet a Filipino woman at a friend’s birthday party. I could tell instantly she was Filipino because of her accent. So, I introduced myself and asked if she was involved in a Fil-Am in the area. Turns out she is! But her community is about 40 minutes from my own. She invited me to a future event, but meeting her did give me the drive to get more involved on my own.

I’m an adult now. I can’t just wait for my parents to tell me when the next Fil-Am event is. I am making an effort to reach out in my own community and try to get involved. For myself, and for my children. So, I hit up Google and found information on my local Fil-Am and plan on joining soon! What better time to get more in tune with my culture, than during Filipino American History Month!

In writing this, I decided to do a little more digging in the history of Filipinos in this country. Here are some tidbits I found interesting.

-The first Filipinos arrived in North America in 1587, decades before the Pilgrims. Before our Founding Fathers declared independence from the Brits, a group of Filipinos had already settled in Louisiana. More than a century before Alaska became a state, Filipinos had already made it here, engaging in fur trade with Alaska Natives.

-In the early 1920s, many Filipinos left their families to work in the plantations of Hawaii and California and the fisheries of Washington and Alaska.

-During WWII, Filipinos fought with and for the U.S. to help protect our freedom and secure peace in our world.

-In the late ’60s and ’70s, many Filipino professionals moved to the U.S. to join our rapidly growing technology and health industry.

Some famous Filipinos:

-Rear Admiral Connie Mariano served as President Clinton’s physician.

-Chef Cristeta Comerford has been the White House Executive Chef since President George W. Bush.

-Fe del Mundo was the first woman admitted as a student of the Harvard Medical School and founded the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines.

Monique Lhuillier is a world famous fashion and bridal designer.

Cheryl Burke is a professional dancer on “Dancing With the Stars.” is a rapper with the pop group Black Eyed Peas. He even has dual citizenship.

Lou Diamond Phillips is an actor who starred in one of my favorite movies of all time, “La Bamba.”

-Roman Gabriel is the Los Angeles Rams’ MVP and Pro Bowl quarterback.

-Erik Spoelstra is the NBA coach of the Miami Heat.

I have a lot to be proud of! If you know any Filipino Americans, reach out and tell them “salamat” for all that they do for the U.S!

O Closet! My Closet!

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Because I’m restricting myself from shopping so much, it has helped me realize how much I appreciate my shopping efforts of yore (yes, I just used the word yore. I’m such a geek!).

This isn’t about your basic wardrobe essentials: black blazer, black trousers, black skinny pants, pencil skirt, little black dress, a nice basic sweater, white button down, a great pump.

This is about items that have become wardrobe essentials in my closet. Pieces I have come to cherish and don’t know how I survived before they became part of my life. These are also pieces I will be super sad to part with once I have worn them down to nothingness. Let me stop thinking about that before I get depressed.

My personal essentials and how I wear them:

this is actually a pic of my Banana Republic blazer I found on ebay.
this is actually a pic of my Banana Republic blazer I found on ebay.

A khaki corduroy blazer. I bought this during my days at Banana Republic so I got the $130 blazer, half off. I have not regretted it one second. I have paired it over dresses. With jeans. Skinny pants. I don’t think I’ve paired with a skirt yet, but I certainly could. If you don’t have one, you are missing out on a cute way to polish up a not-too-dressy outfit.

Banana Republic soft wash denim shirt
Banana Republic soft wash denim shirt

My soft denim top that I sometimes pretend is chambray. I would wear this every other day if it didn’t make me look like I had no creative bones in my body. I almost never got one to begin with, thinking it looked too “cowboy”…not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s now a favorite layering piece!

BR Wide leg trouser
BR Wide leg trouser

My red, wide leg dress trousers. Something I have wanted for years! This was another splurge of mine from BR. $98 I used 40% off coupon. When you’re doing a wide leg trouser, it’s best they practically brush the floor. I love trying to pair it with not-so-basic colors. I almost always pair with a pointy toe pump, because it creates a much sleeker silhouette than a rounded toe. If its not a pointy toe, it’s an open toe with a higher heel. A kitten heel will also work, as long as it’s pointy! I am not usually a fan of saying “never” in fashion, but I would probably never recommend a flat with a wide leg pant. It does nothing to flatter the leg lengthening effect of the ensemble.

this is a J.Crew top similar to mine. pic from poshmark
this is a J.Crew top similar to mine. pic from poshmark

My high collar sleeveless white top. I much prefer this to a traditional white button down. I got a silk version a few years ago, but after many trips to the cleaners, it is quite dingy and yellow-looking. So, when Banana Republic came out with a similar cotton version a couple years later, I rejoiced! The high collar spices up, what I consider to be, a pretty boring wardrobe staple.

BR black non-iron fitted button down
BR black non-iron fitted button down

My black button down. Forget a white button down–I say go for a black one! It’s just as versatile and more slimming and chic than white! Not to mention you can wear it a ton more because you don’t have to worry about that unfortunate dingy action that always seems to happen with whites. I usually wear mine with the sleeves rolled up or layered under a sweater. My favorite thing to pair it with is fitted boot-fit jeans and high heels for casual friday or shopping without kids! Such a sophisticated, polished look. I also love it with pencil skirts!

brown side weave Fossil boot
brown side weave Fossil boot

My brown “cowboy wannabe” boots. As a self-proclaimed heel lover, I ventured off a little here and got these cowboy-inspired kicks. I wear them so much in the fall with everything! And of course they’re much more practical when running around with the kids.

3/4 length sleeve BR dress
3/4 length sleeve BR dress

My yellow 3/4 sleeve dress. I cannot begin to describe how much I love this dress. It has the clean lines of a great LBD. Yet the color is an attention getter. If yellow is not your color, find a simple, 3/4 sleeve dress that IS in a color complimentary to your skin tone. Although I am a firm believer that most people can wear any color as long as the hue is right or if other wardrobe elements can create a “diversion” to the color. I love pairing my dress with jewel tone shoes and accessories or throw on a blazer to make it work appropriate.

leather "croc" BR loafer
leather “croc” BR loafer

My tan “croc” leather loafer. I will wear these ’til I bust the stitches. And then I will pay whatever it takes to replace them or repair them. My go-to when I’m on the go. It’s my choice over a ballet flat any day. Please don’t crucify me, ballet flat lovers! I hope Tory Burch isn’t reading this (I think its safe to say she isn’t). I just feel ballet flats shorten the leg so much! I do own a few ballets and wear them on occassion, but I prefer the loafer since it offers more of a structured look and a bit of a higher heel than the ballet. It also gives your look a nice, little preppy finish!

Trina Turk for Banana Republic
Trina Turk for Banana Republic

And, last, but not least, my white blazer. When I purchased this (once again) from Banana Republic, I had no idea how often I would wear it. It’s great for work or to dress up jeans. It’s just super versatile.

So, there you have it. You may notice a lot of my essential pieces are mix and matchable. So, I can really create a plethora of outfits using these few pieces. I hate that I don’t have more of a variety of brands, but Banana Republic is pretty much the highest quality I can afford on a regular basis! I promise I have a ton of other brands in my closet, but they’re fillers for the most part and i would not consider them “essentials.”

What are your non-essential essentials??

By Vanessa Culpepper

There Goes $100

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It didn’t take long for me to blow through my $100 budget for the month of October. I have never been the patient type–a trait I really wish I could change sometimes, but c’est la moi! By mid-month, my Benjamin had come and gone…

The weekend after I posted my budget challenge, I went shopping. After bragging blogging about all of my great finds and posting awesome deals on Instagram, some of my friends have said, “I need to go shopping with you!”

After one real trip with me, you may have a change of heart! I cover a lot of ground. And I probably shop at least once a week during a non-budget period. And I usually have two children with me, who, for some reason, do not seem to appreciate searching for a great deal like I do. Maybe they will find all of their tag-alongs will pay off one day.

So, I’m taking you through my shopping trip.

As I mentioned in my budget blogpost, my mission was to get cute shoes, ripped/distressed jeans and fall clothes for the kiddos.

Mission: Accomplished!

All of the stars were aligning for my shopping excursion.

I started at Ross where I usually find great deals on name brand shoes. After squeezing my cart through a few aisles, trying to keep my daughter from trying on half the stock in sight…there they were…holy grail! I found, not one, but TWO fabulous pairs.

$23 for a pair of pointy toe, ankle strap pumps by Chinese Laundry. This item was on the top of my wishlist. I also scored a $20 pair of Steve Madden open-toe bootie/shooties (i really don’t know how to categorize them).

I found nothing for the children. So, off to the mall I went.

This is where the challenge got REALLY hard. I had the brilliant idea of parking by Forever 21. They had 50% off markdowns! They are practically paying me to shop there! I thought it would be awesome if they had distressed jeans marked down, but I wasn’t that lucky. I got distracted. I tried on some over-the-knee boots, almost had a breakdown, but stayed strong. Thank goodness for my daughter’s potty break request. Snap back to reality. Focus! Budget!

Off to the Gap with a kid-friendly bathroom and 30% off markdowns!

It proved to be a great move! I found myself some ripped jeans, but I compromised a little. They were boyfriend fit instead of skinnies like I originally planned to get. But they were only $18 and I have pondered the boyfriend fit in the past, so I figured it’s worth the compromise. This is how I plan to style them.

This is also where the munchkins got lucky. One day, I’m sure they will thank me for all of my efforts to keep them looking somewhat not disheveled.

I got my soon-to-be 3 year old daughter a denim peplum skirt (peplum–not for me..but for my daughter, sure!), some navy/gray striped leggings and a long-sleeve pink t-shirt that she picked out (pink is my least fave color).

My giant, 7 year old son is flippant about it all. He got a striped sweater, plaid button-down and a long sleeve t-shirt.
I did have $20 dollars in rewards I redeemed at the Gap, so that helped me stretch my dollar even more.

So, after a visit to three stores, 1 fitting room session and 4 potty breaks I spent exactly $100 of my own money.

Or so I thought…remember this Old Navy dress I ordered online?


A temporary hiccup. The dress was online only, so customer reviews guided my sizing decision. Fail! I ordered a tall because one reader said it was too short for work. I am 5’8″ and want to be able to wear it to work, so I ordered a tall. It looked like a potato sack on me. Apparently, I’m not the type who can pull off the potato sack. So…I re-ordered. I didn’t exchange it because I got it for EVEN CHEAPER! I got a new 40% coupon in my email. And the dress went down to $17 online. So, I got it for $10! I will return my $14 dollar dress…leaving me with an extra $4 for the month.

Hmm…..what should I buy nex?! There is still time left in October and I’ve got $4 burning a hole in my pocket!

Budding Bonus 3: Rett Syndrome

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It’s often mistaken for Autism by the untrained (i.e. non-doctor) eye. Actually, even some doctors may misdiagnose it as Autism. Others don’t even diagnose it at all. The issue is Rett Syndrome.

It’s a strange thing. Parents of baby girls (it affects girls mostly) with Rett Syndrome are often told, “We can’t find anything wrong with her. Just give her time. She’ll develop and grow at her own pace. All the tests are clear.” But a mom knows. When something feels wrong, there’s likely something wrong.

Imagine how frustrating it must be to watch your child struggle. To watch your child not reach the same milestones that her siblings reached. To know something is not right, only to have experienced doctors and tests tell you everything seems to be fine.

But there are signs. There are clues. And for some reason, they don’t always raise a red flag to doctors.

But the red flags were waving clearly in my face when I signed up to do the Run Over Rett race. It was organized by a mother I know whose daughter suffers from Rett syndrome. The mother also founded the SUKI Foundation and is a pioneer for Rett Syndrome awareness in our area.

I decided to read up on it. I felt like I discovered the disorder myself. After reading about symptom after symptom, my mind darted to my niece each time. So many symptoms were there all along and no one ever suggested she might have Rett’s. I told my sister. She thought the same thing.

In our research online (just call us google doctors), we learned a lot.

From the Mayo Clinic:

Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects the way the brain develops. It occurs almost exclusively in girls.

Most babies with Rett syndrome seem to develop normally at first, but symptoms surface after 6 months of age. Over time, children with Rett syndrome have increasing problems with movement, coordination and communication that may affect their ability to use their hands, communicate and walk.

Although there’s no cure for Rett syndrome, potential treatments are being studied. Current Rett syndrome treatment focuses on improving movement and communication and providing care and support for affected children and their families.

My niece still hasn’t even been officially diagnosed. But, despite the devastation of it being the possible truth, there is still a slight sense of relief. At least we may finally have some answers.

Maybe this is why my sweet, precious niece hasn’t been developing properly. Or why she didn’t start crawling or walking or running when other babies do. Maybe it’s why she hasn’t spoken at the age her brothers did or potty-trained when other toddlers did.

The reality of Rett Syndrome can be overwhelming. The condition could ultimately shorten her life span. She may need assistance for much of her life.

But at least we may have finally made a breakthrough. Once my sister is able to get further testing done and get an official diagnosis (which doesn’t always come easy), then we can plan an attack. We can plan for the future. We can get help. We can accommodate.

Even without an official diagnosis, we can still educate. Things don’t always start seeming suspicious until about 6 to 18 months.

1. Slow brain/head development.

It’s the first problem I remember hearing my niece had (but at the time we didn’t think it was a serious problem). Any mom knows, those pediatric check-ups involve head measurements. Well, her head was not growing at the normal pace. But the doctors said it was nothing of concern.

2. Delayed communication

My niece wasn’t speaking when children normally start speaking. For a long time, the only audible words she could speak were “no” or “mama” and “dada.” Again, doctors insisted she would speak when the time was right.

3. Growth retardation

My neice has small hands, she’s small-framed altogether. Once again, doctors insisted, all children develop differently and my niece was just on the slower side.

There are a laundry list of other symptoms that raise red flags about my niece.

4. Abnormal hand movements

5. Unusual eye movements

6. Loss of normal movement and coordination

7. Unexplainable mood swings

8. Constipation.

There were also some symptoms my niece has not experienced and the severity of some of her symptoms lead my sister to believe her daughter may suffer from the milder, Zapella variant of Rett’s.

We’ll know more when all of the testing is complete. Until then, we’ll continue to love, nurture and encourage my niece. And we can encourage others to learn more about this disorder. Or just encourage mothers to trust their gut and keep pushing for answers when there is obviously something wrong with their little ones.

To learn more about Rett Syndrome, here are some helpful links:

Mayo Clinic identifies Rett Syndrome

International Rett Syndrome Foundation

Redefining Rett Syndrome Gene Dysfunction–this could be a big breakthrough in finding a cure or treatment.

Supporting Rett Syndrome patients and families through the SUKI Foundation

By Vanessa Culpepper

September Splurging and Saving

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Because I can only spend $100 this month, I’m going to relish in what I bought last month! While I spent more than I usually do, I also feel I got some GREAT value. Bear with me… it’s quite a list, but it’s a list i’m quite proud of! Plus, at the end, you’ll see my spending to savings comparison!

**Francesca’s got me first. I saw a deal for belts for $12.99 and they had a belt I had been searching for, for months! They didn’t have it in store, so I ordered online–where they offered free shipping if you spent $50 or more. Of course, I had to reach $50. More bang for your buck, right?! Plus, they were offering 30% off markdowns that particular day (i get really lucky stumbling on sales sometimes)!

  1. Gold plate-front belt: I paid $12.99 (can’t remember retail, probably around $18-20)
  2. Steve Madden gold/black heels: Retail: $90. I paid about $27 (they were 30% off sale price)

(I also ordered a dress to reach my free shipping minimum, but they later informed me the dress was sold out, so they refunded my money for that–and I got the free shipping anyway! Score!)

**Then, on to Banana Republic/Gap, Inc…where those dadblasted 40% Wednesday coupons were my Achilles heel! Not because I feel like getting 40% off one full priced item is necessarily a great deal. But it is when that full-priced item is in-demand leather! I knew I had to snatch up these pieces while I could because they were selling quickly!

  1. The Banana Motorcycle-inspired leather jacket–Retail: $298. I paid $161 (there were only two left in the southeast at the time, I had to order mine from an Atlanta store, but I got free shipping with my Banana Luxe Card) I had a 40% coupon and got an additional 10% off for using my Banana Card–no, that does not equal 50%. You take the 40% off, then take another 10% off that total..sorry, having worked in retail, this was a concept a lot of shoppers just did not understand!
  2. The Banana leather shirt–Retail: $198. I paid $107 (same discount applied)
  3. Michael Kors booties–Retail: $198. I paid $40 (I got 20% off for promotion for Banana cardholders and redeemed about $120 in rewards)
  4. Old Navy polka dot dress–Retail: $29.99. I paid $14.99 (I got an email for 50% off one item)
  5. Old Navy skinny white jeans–Retail: $34.99. I paid $7.99 (they were just on clearance)

**Then my friend, Chic In Academia, told me about a great sale at Ann Taylor.

  1. Graphic print skirt: Retail: $88. I paid $7 (what?! yes!)

**Phillip Lim released his collection at Target, so I snatched some mini satchels (I shamefully sold four on Ebay and kept one for myself).

  1. Mini satchel in yellow: I paid retail: $34.99

**Then, I saw a local boutique, Soca Clothing, was having additional 50% off their markdowns! Now, THAT is my kind of sale. This is what I got there (sorry, it was harder to find these items online, so I just used personal pics).

  1. Off-the shoulder dress–Retail: $88. I paid $25
  2. Line and Dot tribal inspired silk tank–Retail: $99. I paid $25 (I don’t usually pay $25 for a tank, but the brand is a nicer one…and it’s silk…and it’s unique!)
  3. Sequin bottom romper–Retail: $88. I paid $12.50
  4. Theory angora reversible cardigan–Retail: $200. I paid $15 (fist pump!)

Whew!! Are you still with me?? I did a LOT of shopping in September. Now you can see why I’m pulling in the reins for the rest of the year.

All in all, I got about $1,465 worth of clothing for just under $500–way more than my usual shopping budget! I have learned buying on sale for sale’s sake is not wise. So, even though most of my items were “sale,” I made sure they would still be items that would work well with other pieces in my wardrobe.

To see how I will be styling these items, check me out on Instagram!

Thanks for reading!

By Vanessa Culpepper

The Budding Fashionista on a Budget

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Sometimes I think I have a slight addiction to shopping. When I’m bored, it fills the time. When I make a new purchase, I feel a sense of excitement! (I can say, if I’m upset, it does not really cheer me up.)  I just love to shop! I love to get great deals on clothes! It’s my hobby. Just like a fisherman loves casting for that next big catch, I’m out there fishing for deals and looking for my next big catch. Mine just happens to not be slimy, scaly and smelly.

So, this little hobby of mine also comes with a price tag.

While I am pretty good about setting a budget for bills and groceries, gas, etc. I am not good about budgeting for shopping. I kind of have the mindset that anything I have left over is fair game! I know, I have a lot to learn. Honestly, I will spend anywhere from $200-$400 on clothes (my children’s clothes included) in a month. That may be chump change to some of you, but I cringe as I look at that number. I can do so much better! I need to be more responsible!

So, here I am…on my path to responsibility. It’s October. I could procrastinate and wait for January and make this my New Year’s resolution. But that’s just stupid. The time is now, people! Set a goal and work to achieve it NOW! Not January first, or the first of next month. My change starts now.

Because I went a little berserk last month (I will have to do another post on September purchases alone), for the rest of 2013, I am going to do my best to spend no more than $100/month on clothing. Is that possible? It better be!

My mind is already reeling with the things I want to buy and how I’m going to max out my budget. These are on my “to get” list this month: ripped jeans and pretty heels of some sort. The rest will go toward kids’ fall clothes.

I found these on for a mere $24! I love the price and I love that these come in a longer length (a huge issue for me), but I’m concerned the ripping may be too much for someone who has never intentionally owned jeans with a single hole in them! So I have not pulled the trigger, although I keep getting drawn back to them. What do you think??? I am determined to be 100% happy, so I will hit up a couple of other local stores before I tap into the funds.


As for shoes, I keep seeing all of these real fashionista bloggers and their pretty and/or pointy soles. So, I’m looking for something along the lines of these…only for a lot less! Each of these is about $100. Boo! But I am sure I will find something comparable and much more affordable at DSW, Ross or T.J. Maxx.

And, before I created the budget, I had already ordered this dress from Old Navy. It only ended up being $14! It was on sale for $19, plus I got 30% off as a cardholder (20% for non-cardholders) during the Stuff & Save Sale, which ends 10/10/13. So, I will go ahead and include it in this month’s budget.


**I do have a little cheating confession. Most of you know, I won a contest for the Outlet Shops of Grand River. So, for the next two months, I will get a shopping budget of $150 to spend at the outlets. Here’s what I purchased last month.


That obviously boosts my shopping budget. If I’m able to find any of my “wish list” items at the outlets, then that will just be money I can put somewhere else…like, saving for a Louis! 😉

When my $100 is spent, I will follow up and let you all know what I scored… Let the games begin!

By Vanessa Culpepper