What I Bought: Gap Body

black2What I bought: Gap Body – Favorite Wireless Bra (black and nude)

What I paid: $25.20 (Original price: $36; Gap had 30% off all bras)

nude-1What I bought: Gap Body – Favorite T-shirt Bra (nude)

What I paid: $25.20 (Original price: $36; Gap had 30% off all bras)

I used to hate bra shopping. I would go to Target where I could begrudgingly buy one bra for approximately $15-20. I never liked the bras and they didn’t seem like they fit quite right, but I tried all the realistic sizes available and settled for the almost-fits-correctly ones. Turns out, Target doesn’t sell my size (which I learned after having a professional bra fitting).

I stopped at Victoria’s Secret during a semi-annual sale, and while I was happy with the fit, I wasn’t happy about the price (even on mega sale — I’m just cheap and would rather spend more money on my shirts, pants, shoes). I racked my brain for other stores, but only came up with department stores. I’m sure department stores have a great selection, but I didn’t feel like I would find what I wanted there.

While I was contemplating whether I was the type of person to shop at Nordstrom for under garments, I stopped at Gap to check out their clearance, and remembered they had a Gap Body store next door. “Give it a shot,” I told myself.

The bras came in tons of neutral colors (can bra colors be neutral? “Why, yes, I wore a navy bra today — such a neutral color…”), and patterns/prints. There are several styles, like wireless, t-shirt, strapless/convertible, padded and more. I grabbed a couple styles in a few sizes and headed for the dressing room.

It was shopping heaven, like when you’ve been trying to find jeans for YEARS and you finally find a pair that is exactly the right fit and style. Or when you find a swimsuit that you think, “Wow, I might actually look good in this.” I feel like that can be such a rare occurrence — it’s only happened for me a couple times. This was better than that. Yes, better than that.

Not only did the bras finally fit, they were on sale and an extra 30-40% off. The first time I bought bras from Gap Body, I think my average price per bra was like $11-12. Cheaper than Target! And in my experience, a better fit and cuter colors/styles.

I can’t possibly love Gap Body bras anymore. Oh, well, actually, I can. When I bought these bras pictured above, the woman at the checkout asked if I had their bra card. I had never heard of it, and explained that I had probably bought at least 20 bras in the last year (I know, Crazy Town, USA; population: Lindsey). With the bra card, for every five bras you buy, you get one free. While this killed me a little bit inside since I’ve purchased a crap-ton of bras, I reminded myself that I paid next to nothing on all of them, so no big deal. The woman felt bad, so she gave me an extra punch on my card. Didn’t make me feel 100% better, but it was better than nothing!

The bras I bought this time are by far the most I’ve spent on any bra at Gap Body. I’m not sure if the black and nude bras ever go on sale, unless they’re in a funky style that doesn’t sell well.

The “Favorite Wireless” style is the most comfortable bra on the planet. I have it in a gazillion colors. I wish I was exaggerating. Actually I don’t, because I love them all.

I will say that Gap Body bras, for the most part, are more functional bras than uber-sexy bras. How you feel about that, I don’t know.

Who knew I could write 600+ words about bra shopping?

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What I Decorated: Guest bathroom

showerWhat I used: two travel-sized bottles of Psssssst dry shampoo (Ulta); two ultra-soft loofahs (Ulta); two scents of body wash (Ulta); two scents of lotion (Ulta); one bar of Dial soap (this Dial soap is a reddish color and whenever I open the linen closet, it honestly smells like fruit punch — I love it!); wire basket (thrift store find!).

haircare In the back: Matrix Biolage smooth therapie shampoo, colorcare therapie shampoo and exquisite oil shampoo

Second row: Matrix Biolage colorcare therapie shine shake and exquisite oil protective treatment

Front row: Travel-sized Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play hair spray and Healthy Sexy Hair soy tri-wheat leave-in conditioner

What I paid: Sorry, I didn’t track my spending on any of this. I bought almost everything from Ulta (other than the the Dial soap and wire basket). The Biolage products were buy two, get one free; the Ulta shower products were buy two, get two free.

When my friends were coming to visit, I wanted to create a “boutique” type experience. I wanted them to feel like they were in a store or at a spa and told, “OK, pick whatever scent or treatment you want.”

I’ve never used Ulta’s body wash products, other than their loofahs. I bought the loofah a year ago because I wanted something that wasn’t overly exfoliating — I just wanted something that would feel good against my skin. The loofah I bought was perfect, so I’m hoping that these two prove to be just as soft. Because I was in the shower/bath product aisle, I happened to see the sign for buy two, get two free — works for me! The colors of the body washes even coordinate with the loofahs — perfect!

I also love Matrix Biolage haircare products, namely their shampoos. The smell is just SO good. I do think my hair feels softer after using their products, but I wouldn’t say that I’ve noticed some increased strength or anything radical. Somehow I still need to blow dry and style my hair every day — no miracles here!

Other items: I didn’t take a picture, but I also had extra toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss. I also had a delicious-smelling reed diffuser air freshener from Pier 1 as well. That thing is a super strong scent — definitely does its job.

What to add: I think I’d like to add little dishes for cotton swabs and cotton balls. The room itself needs a wall clock, and maybe even a fresh coat of paint (right now it’s a sandy yellow, which is fine and neutral, but I’m not in love with it).

What I Use: Big Sexy Hair – Spray & Stay hairspray

bsh1What I use: Big Sexy Hair’s Spray & Stay hair spray

What I paid: ~$10 (original price: $17.95 at Ulta; I had rewards points)

I used to work in the haircare industry. Let me clarify, I used to work in a communications department at the corporate office for a hair salon.

Because of this, I got to attend a few haircare events where the gift bags contained all sorts of free hair product swag. Prior to this, I’d never used professional haircare products. In fact, prior to 2007, I thought Pantene Pro-V products were too expensive.

I have bangs, and for the longest time I went product-free with them because I didn’t want them to be mega greasy. But moving them out of my eyes all day made them as greasy as any product could. I was complaining to my hair stylist, and she said, “Lindsey, why don’t you just use hair spray?” So I went home and tried one of the free Big Sexy Hair samples I’d gotten months ago.

Wow. Life changing. I used to battle with my bangs all day. I would avoid going outside because I knew even the slightest bit of a breeze would send my bangs flying. Once I learned how to use Spray & Stay, it’s like my world changed. I didn’t have to wipe my bangs out of my eyes once. I could go for a walk outside and feel confident that my bangs were staying in place.

Be warned: I like my bangs basically locked in place, as in preserved in history, able to withstand the test of time, extreme hold. You might prefer a slightly more natural look. I’ve never tried it in the “less is more” sense, so I can’t say that you’d love it unless you were going for the withstand-the-test-of-time look.

I’ve tried a few other brands, just to see if I could save a little money. I tried a Suave product for awhile (one of their really basic lines — something Dan had bought by accident). It was OK, but definitely didn’t have the same hold, even though it claimed to be extra strength hold. I’d tried lighter hold hair sprays from higher-end haircare lines, but was never been as pleased as I was with Sexy Hair.

You can buy Sexy Hair products at salons, but it’s also available at Walmart and Target. I prefer to buy it at Ulta, mostly because they typically have some kind of “buy 1 get 1” deal (or something similar), plus you earn points on everything you buy in the store. I’d also recommend working in the haircare industry somehow and going to as many conferences and events as possible šŸ™‚ You gotta do what you gotta do!

What I Bought: Target haul, y’all

What I bought:

Mossimo black cat, white print blouse – $11.48; originally $22.99. This shirt is SUPER long in the back — not 100% sold on it yet. I love the print and everything else…just not the length in the back.

splotchMerona gazelle top – $19.99 (full price). I love this shirt. It will go with everything already in my closet. The length hits just below the hips, which is the shortest I prefer to go. There were lots of other super-cute prints, including polka dots.

leopardGreen silky tank and coral silky tank – $7.78 each (sorry, I already threw the tags away…but I’m guessing they were originally $14.99 or $15.99). I loved these. They are cute on their own, but they’d also look good with a cardigan for work. I’m trying to stick to a rule I made for myself last winter: If you can’t wear it to work, you can’t buy it.

both-tanksI did a bit of shopping yesterday. Actually, I had pretty bad intentions: I planned to buy at J.Crew, Gap, Sephora, H&M and Forever 21.

In the end, I returned a shirt at Forever 21; carried a camo vest around J.Crew and then eventually put it back; skipped Sephora and H&M altogether; almost bought a couple bras at Gap (seriously, their bras are the best — post to come), but decided I’d wait for a better sale. I did stop at The Limited — everything was 50% off the original price. I bought a shirt and then a clearance necklace (clearance was an additional 30% off the clearance price). I also stopped at Banana Republic — all clearance was an extra 40% off and full-priced items were 30% off. I bought two gorgeous shirts for less than $30 each. I’m pretty cheap, so nearly $30 per shirt is almost expensive to me, but I loved these shirts! Plus I had a $25 Old Navy/Gap/Banana rewards certificate…so that helped!

But where I did the real damage was Target. There’s a brand-new Target relatively close to my home that is NEVER busy. Ever. I swear that the employees are encouraged to park in closer parking spots just to make it look like the store is busier than it is. Anyway, this never-busy fact is probably bad for Target’s business, but really good for me. There is always an abundance of clearance clothing, and I took full advantage of that.

The main reason I went into Target was for their Mossimo long and lean tank tops. They were on sale for $5 each. I also love their Mossimo Microrib tanks. I can’t remember a day when I haven’t worn one of these tanks — I wear them every single day. They are the best under shirts. I restocked on the basics: white and black.

While I was there, I just happened to walk through their clearance section….and went crazy. I brought at least 12 items to the dressing room. I was hoping for a lax dressing room attendant who would let me break the six-item limit, but no luck.

In the end, I bought four shirts (and four of the long and lean tanks). Everything was on clearance…except for the leopard shirt. It was full price (!). I think it’s a great basic that’ll go with everything, just not sure I want to pay full price for it. But I figured I saved so much on the other stuff…

What I Wear: Old Navy Active

2013-08-22 18.44.49What I wear: Old Navy Active

What I paid: grey tee ($10 – on sale now!), grey tank ($12 – on sale for even cheaper right now!), shorts ($5 – not going to lie, that was an awesome deal), yoga bra (seriously don’t remember…sorry!), jogging bra ($10 – I always buy two because you usually get a better deal)

2013-08-22 18.43.26

I don’t know about you, but finding motivation to workout is rough. There is so much prep work, like removing your makeup, putting your hair in a ponytail that will actually stay in place, pinning back your bangs (if you don’t have them, wow, your life is already 10 times easier than mine), figuring out how much water to drink ahead of time that 1) won’t make you have to pee every four minutes but also 2) keeps you from passing out due to dehydration. Oh, and don’t even get me started on what I’m supposed to eat before workouts. I’ve read a million articles about “what to eat before a run” and “what to avoid before a run,” it doesn’t seem to matter — sometimes I’m totally fine and sometimes I’m intensely sick.

Wow, just reading that paragraph makes me want to never work out again.

And we know we probably aren’t looking super cute when certain parts of our thighs, for example, are flapping around. Years ago, I reserved only my most undesirable clothes for workouts. Ratty t-shirts with holes that were either caused by snags on sharp objects or the shear amount of sweat I subjected the material to making the fabric disintegrate. Gross. My shorts were ugly too. And usually my outfits never matched. Why would they? I rationalized that I was just going to workout — why would I spend money on cute clothes to sweat in?

I totally get. But part of the motivation to work out comes from having confidence in yourself, right? For me, anyway, I found that as I became more confident, I actually wanted to work out more. As the number on the scale went down, my confidence went up and I actually wanted people to notice me during my workouts. Enter Old Navy Active.

Old Navy’s workout line allows me to still spend next to nothing on the clothes I’m going to sweat in, but they are SO cute. And they’re functional. I love that the shorts come with a little pocket for my key, and I love the built in underwear. If you’re new to this, I’m sure that sounds weird. But to me, it’s actually great to not have to wear my real underwear during my workouts. There’s no chaffing, no weird bunching or ‘wedging,’ just smooth sailing. Er, running.

The grey tank pictured above is probably one of my favorite shirts (and I’m tempted to buy more since they are on sale for even cheaper than I paid…). It’s just the right length for me (I prefer longer tops), and it’s fitted enough to make me feel slim, but not so fitted to show off my less-than-stellar tummy. And, clearly, I’m obsessed with neon right now, as is Old Navy.

Some complaints:

  • I wish the key pocket in the shorts had a zipper to keep my key more securely in place. I’ve never actually had a key fall out, but I’d feel more comfortable knowing it was zipped in place.
  • I wish the t-shirt had a zipper pocket. I do have several Old Navy t-shirts (purchased a year or two ago) that did come with zippered pockets — love them! Especially if I’m taking my pup for a walk — I could put my key and his poopie bag in the pocket and it would be easy to get out when Dig decided to do his business. (Note: I didn’t put the bag back in my pocket after the business was done, just to be clear.)
  • I seem to switch sizes for the jogging bras. I prefer to err on the safe side by purchasing a slightly tighter jogging bra to keep everyone securely in place and prevent as much movement as possible. I’ve purchased a size up before and felt less-than-secure. The last jogging bra I bought, however, was the smaller size and when I put it on, my back was almost in pain because of how restricting it felt. Their jogging bras seem to stretch out a little after several months of regular wear, so I’m anticipating this one will fit perfectly in time.

Oh, I also love Old Navy’s workout socks. Geez, I’m like a commercial for them right now. I have quite a bit of the C9 by Champion workout gear from Target also, but I just haven’t been as in love with it because I’d only buy it on sale and the sale items never are the cutest pieces. Their jogging tops are also universally fitted (the ones I’ve purchased, anyway), which means my extra tummy jiggle is visible to everyone. With Old Navy, I can buy the cutest stuff and pay a third of what I’d pay at Target.

If you do a lot of shopping at Gap, Banana Republic or Old Navy, I highly recommend signing up for their Visa card. I rack up tons of rewards coupons because I use that card for EVERYTHING, like gas, groceries and more. During the holidays, you can get double and even triple points, which means you’ll be rolling in the rewards coupons dough.

I’ve never purchased anything from Lululemon — I have friends and coworkers who love their stuff. I’m sure it’s great, but it’s not in my price range for workout clothes. I’m sure it’s cuter and more flattering on your figure, but seriously, I look super good in the workout gear I posted above and I have money leftover to buy non-workout clothes in smaller sizes since I’ve been so motivated to work out more.

What I Made: Pinterest Fried Rice

[I’m typing this while watching Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion Part 2. If any random over-dramatic eye rolls or over-tanned skin get into this post, you’ll understand why.]

Since moving into the house, Dan basically works non-stop in the yard from the minute he gets home from work until a few minutes before going to bed. That means I’m making dinner for the two of us alone. I’m not much of a cook, so anything I make has to be EASY. And can’t require any specialized kitchen equipment. Heck, I just bought whisks last month.

One of our favorite recipes has been the Skinny Chicken Fried Rice from the Skinny Mom. (I haven’t spent a lot of time on her website yet, but I have a feeling there would be a gazillion delicious recipes to try.)

fried-riceThe first time I made this I followed the directions exactly. Ha, well, I must have messed up the chicken part of the recipe, because I wasn’t in love with it. I was, however, in love with the rest! The ingredients list includes frozen vegetables (how easy is that?!). Any time a recipe tells me to use frozen vegetables, I do a little dance in my kitchen because it means the most work I’ll have to do with those vegetables is cutting open the bag and dumping them into a pan. I hate buying lots of fresh veggies that I don’t end up using — I’m eternally grateful to have recipes with frozen veggies because I can throw the unused veggies back into the freezer for use at a later time.

The rest of the ingredients in this recipe are really simple — I’m not even going to go through the list here because Skinny Mom does a fantastic job of it already. Her directions are clear and she has pictures to boot.

I like to double the recipe. It’s such an easy thing for me to take to work for lunch and super easy for Dan to pop into the microwave right when he gets home before heading outside to work. Sometimes we’ll eat it as a side item…and sometimes it’s the main course. It’s just so good. The last time I made it, I had a side salad and was sufficiently full after the salad and a decent helping of the rice. When I did a Google search of, “What should I serve with friend rice?” someone mentioned getting a package of eggroll or wonton wrappers, spraying them with Pam and sprinkling salt/pepper on them. They said you could bake them in the oven until crisp, then use them as a scoop for the fried rice. I love this idea! But haven’t tried it yet.

Try this recipe, like, immediately.

What I Bought: Ninja Blender

Dan isn’t what some people call a “morning person.” Up until about 6 months ago, Dan had worked a non-business-hours shift from 2:45 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. This meant he went to bed around 1 or 2 a.m. and woke up…well, I’m not sure what time he woke up, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t early. Possibly not even in the morning some days.

Because of this, Dan has a hard time getting ready in the morning, even after being on the new, regular day shift since January. When a couple of his friends said that they make breakfast shakes at night, leave them in the fridge overnight and then grab them in the morning as they fly out the door, Dan was intrigued. The less thinking or functioning in the morning, the better.

We already had the Magic Bullet, and we had been pretty disappointed with it. I tried to make guacamole (which was in the Bullet’s recipe book, even) and it failed miserably. There were just random chunks of avocado stuck to the blades — nothing was mashed together.

So we researched blenders, and almost every time found the Ninja near the top of the list. We had both convinced ourselves that we weren’t going to spend a ton of money, but the reviews for the mega cheap blenders were telling us to rethink that plan. After reading more reviews and hearing first-hand experiences from friends, we bought the Ninja.

Now, I had found what looked like a pretty sweet deal on Target’s website during their July Black Friday event. The problem was that Target’s website wasn’t super specific about what came with the blender. The pictures of the blender showed a couple accessories/attachments, but the “items included” description didn’t mention these things at all. So we let the deal go. In retrospect, I think we probably should have done it. But oh well.

We ended up buying the 72-ounce Ninja Blender from Target. It was $99 when we bought it. Not quite the super cheap price we had hoped for, but we were confident that it would meet our needs and expectations.

We’ve had it for almost a month. So far, I love it. I’ve made several fruit smoothies (mixing frozen fruit, milk, orange juice, yogurt, protein powder, oatmeal), and they’ve been delicious. Dan made a couple concoctions with ice (large pieces of ice that were pulverized by the Ninja) and spinach leaves (also pulverized). The Ninja has handled everything like a champ.

smoothie

If you are looking for a blender or are considering the Ninja, here are a few things to note:

  • Our Ninja came with just one mixing pitcher — 72 ounces. Other models include single-size serving cups, which would be nice if you’re mixing up something just for yourself. I have yet to master the right amount of stuff to add when I’m trying to make a small batch — I always underestimate how much liquid to add. So we end up with about four or five servings…
  • Our Ninja didn’t come with any special accessories, but it did come with a recipe book that I will eventually get to šŸ™‚ All the recipes sound delicious and pretty easy.
  • The Ninja is dishwasher safe, which is amazing in my book.
  • The blade is like crazy sharp. It looks intimidating and I think that’s for a reason. Handle with care! No one needs a finger in their smoothie.
  • Other models have special attachments that allow you to knead (maybe for cookie dough?).
  • Be aware of the blender’s wattage or motor power. The Ninjas have 1000-1200 watt motors, which is totally sufficient for us. Our problem with most of the cheaper, non-Ninja blenders was their lack of power. We worried (and the reviews told us) that the blenders just couldn’t handle things like ice or some frozen fruits.

We would definitely buy this again. Maybe even upgrade to a model with more accessories. You can find it at Target, Walmart and Kohl’s, but it’s probably available in almost any retail store near you or online. We found that Target and Walmart had the same prices; Kohl’s was a little more expensive. But everyone seems to have sales all the time, so hopefully you could get it for a steal of a deal.