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Red jeans from Stitch Fix, Daisy floral kimono from Stitch Fix, black and white striped tee (1)

Renee C “Jennifer Daisy Print Kimono”: Stitch Fix (similar!) | Striped Top: Limited (love this one) | Red Kensie Kaleigh Ankle Biter Skinny Jeans: Stitch Fix | Street Level “Jamie Geometric Print Foldover Clutch”: Stitch Fix (similar) | Booties: Old (similar) | Bar Necklace: 9th and Elm c/o | Wrap Bracelet: Esterlane c/o

Photos by Em Grey Photography

The other day someone asked, “Is the colored denim trend on its way out?” To which I replied, “Great gracious! I HOPE NOT!!” I don’t think so at all. I realize that 98% of fashion and trends are totally determined by what the retailers sell and, well, opinions… but to me, colored denim is a trend that isn’t even really a trend to me anymore – I think it’s here to stay. Feel free to correct me on this in 2-5 years when colored denim is a fashion has-been.

I LOVE colored denim. So. Much. It’s such an easy way to make an outfit instantly more interesting. Sure, this outfit would be fine with the daisy kimono and striped top (oh HAY print mixing!) and regular blue denim… but with the red jeans? So much more fun.

Red jeans from Stitch Fix, Daisy floral kimono from Stitch Fix, black and white striped tee (2) Red jeans from Stitch Fix, Daisy floral kimono from Stitch Fix, black and white striped tee (3) Red jeans from Stitch Fix, Daisy floral kimono from Stitch Fix, black and white striped tee (4) Red jeans from Stitch Fix, Daisy floral kimono from Stitch Fix, black and white striped tee (5)

When I was thinking about what I would consider a “fall must-have” – fun, dark colored denim immediately came to mind. Now is the time of year you can play up the reds, the greens, the burgundy colors, the plums. Have fun with it! Play around with mixing and matching. There are SO many options out there!

What about you? Do you love the colored denim trend? Are you a red denim fan? What colors do you want to try this fall? What’s on your fall must-have list?

730x100letitshineWelcome to Let it Shine!   Welcome to the new, revamped Funday Monday! After two years, we decided to rename our link up to something we felt was a better fit.  Welcome to Let it Shine! Why the name? Because, we want this link up to be just that…..your chance to let it shine! We will be sharing our favorites each week here, and on social media! The biggest change? Monthly Inspirations!  Each month we will share some fun post ideas, one for each week.    Do you HAVE to follow the inspirations to link up? Absolutely not!  If you’d like to be considered for a feature, those will be picked from the inspirations…..check out the September lineup!    september inspirations

Last week, we talked about statement pieces……

a few of our favsstatement/ Easy / Work Wear / Cobalt and Camo /

Another place we will be showcasing our favs? The Let It Shine Pinterest Board! We will also be posting ideas for the weekly themes….so be sure you’re following!     let it shine hashtag_edited-1   Linking up to Let it Shine? Don’t forget to link back to our blogs or share our button, thanks y’all!


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RECIPE: Easy Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

I’m excited to share another recipe from the menu that we had for Lilly’s birthday party! Mac and cheese is one of Lilly’s FAVORITE foods (if not her absolute favorite food) and so we KNEW we had to have some at her party.

I had wanted to try a mac and cheese recipe in the crock pot, because I knew it would be best for keeping it warm and fresh during the party. I looked around online, in cookbooks, and Pinterest and found this recipe and knew it sounded delicious so I decided to adapt it a little and give it a try!

There is pretty much nothing even remotely healthy about it… but it is delicious. So, heed that warning. :)

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

RECIPE: Easy Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious recipe for crock pot mac and cheese.
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 box uncooked pasta shells
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2½ cup grated mixed cheese (I used the "fiesta" blend)
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup Organic fat free milk
  • ½ tsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. Spray your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Boil the pasta shells in water for six minutes and then drain. You want the shells to be soft, but not fully cooked.
  3. Mix butter and cheese over medium heat in a saucepan. Add in the cheese and stir until it is all melted.
  4. In your crock pot, combine the cheese mixture, greek yogurt, soup, salt, milk, and pepper. Add drained pasta. Stir it all together really well.
  5. Cook in crock pot for 2 to 2½ hours on low, stirring occasionally.
  6. Enjoy!

What about you? Are you a mac and cheese fan? Will you try this? Got any recipes I need to try?

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The Biggest Tip for Planning for Retirement in Your 20s and 30s

If this is your first time here, Molly’s Money is a regular series I write on this blog that includes ALL things personal finance – debt management, budgeting, home buying, savings, investment, etc. I am NOT a financial advisor, but I am married to one! These are just things that I have learned over the years as I struggled with my own personal finances and ultimately, became debt free in 2012. Got a question about money that you want answered? Leave it in the comments below or email me!

When I graduated college, I felt completely unprepared for the real world… financially. While college prepared me for a lot of things, finances in the “real world” just wasn’t one of them. I didn’t really know what a 401(k) was, I didn’t know how to really figure out what a good “benefits” package at my job was, I didn’t know about investing, and I certainly didn’t know about the importance of planning for retirement (or how to even going about it).

Now eight years out of college, I know so much more now and there are so many things that I WISH I knew eight years ago. Would have saved me a lot of headache in the long run. But, you live and learn! Literally.

Anyway. My husband happens to be a financial advisor and one of the main things he does is work with people on planning for retirement… so, I was talking with him about this topic the other day and I asked him about the people that he meets with and works with and helps… I asked, “What do THOSE people (people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s) wish they had known in their 20s and 30s about planning for retirement? “

SO, I thought it might be really helpful to y’all to share some of what he told me! I formatted this post in more of a “Q&A” kinda setup, so I hope this is helpful!

1. What’s the best way to start planning for retirement when you’re in your 20s and 30s?

At this stage of your life, you don’t need a very complicated strategy. You just need to save and invest.

Here’s a quick example of the power of saving during this period of your life:

Let’s suppose that you invested $5000/year from age 22-27, your first five years after college AND NEVER INVESTED ANOTHER PENNY.  That’s a total of $25,000 invested.  Let’s also suppose that you invested in some mutual funds that averaged a 7% annual return over the course of your lifetime (that would be a very achievable return over a long period like that).  At age 65, your $25,000 will have turned into $326,000.(!!!)

retirementexample1

Now, let’s suppose that you wait 30 years until age 52 and then say to yourself, “Oops, I should probably save some money for retirement.”  And then you do the exact same thing, investing $5000/year for five years (ages 52-57), with a 7% average return.  Now, at age 65, your $25,000 will have turned into $42,000.

retirementexample2

Sort of a difference, huh?  That’s the power of investing early in life and taking advantage of all of those decades of compounding growth.

Now, you might be saying, “There’s no way I can save $5,000 a year right out of college! All of my money is tied up in food and shelter.” I understand.  I couldn’t save that much either at that stage of my life. You might also be saying, “I don’t really even know what a mutual fund is.”  That’s ok, because that’s not really the point here.  My point is simply that any money that you can invest at a young age in any sort of vehicle that has some decent growth potential can make a huge difference for you over the course of your life.

2. My job offers a 401(k).  What am I supposed to do with that?

First, let’s explain (briefly) what a 401(k) is… A 401(k) is simply a vehicle that allows you to invest on a regular basis (through deductions from your paycheck) with pre-tax dollars.  Using a 401(k) can be a “painless” way to save because the money is coming out of your paycheck, which means you never really miss it.  You didn’t bring the money home and then write a check to some investment company.  You just never brought the money home in the first place and probably didn’t give it a second thought.  So, that makes it easy.

Another great advantage comes into play if your company is matching your contributions.  Let’s say that your company will match 100% of what you contribute to the 401(k).  If you saved $100 each paycheck, they’d put in another $100 for you.  That means that you’ve DOUBLED your money immediately.  Trust me when I tell you that there’s nothing else you can invest in that will immediately double your money for you.  So if your company is matching what you invest, it’s borderline insane to not take advantage of it.  That’s just free money you’re leaving on the table.

Not all companies are going to match you dollar-for-dollar, but even if they match 25% or 50% of what you invest, that’s still free money that you don’t want to pass up.

Some companies don’t match anything at all.  If that’s the case, there’s a good chance that you’d be better off to do your investing on your own in a different account, but you have to take a look in the mirror first.  Ask yourself if you’ll have the discipline to actively invest the money on your own when it’s not being done for you as a payroll deduction.  If you have a hard time envisioning yourself having that discipline, then I’d recommend just using the 401(k) and taking advantage of that “painlessness” we talked about earlier.

How do I save and invest on my own (if my company doesn’t offer a 401(k) or I’d like to save money in addition to my account at work)?

You could go about it several different ways.  You could always talk to a financial advisor about getting an account set up, but if you’re just getting started, there’s really no need for you to have an account that you’re paying someone to manage.  For the first few years, your goal should just be to start saving and building up your account.  Once you’ve grown to a certain size, then it will make more sense to have someone managing it for you.

There are several companies you could use.  E*Trade or Scottrade are good do-it-yourself options.  Fidelity or Vanguard would work too. You can just set up an account, transfer money from your checking account, and start picking things to invest in. You can do it with basically no guidance, or you can ask for some basic advice from the folks at these companies.  Now, any advice that they give you is going to be biased, because they’ll be trying to direct you to mutual funds or other products that will help them get paid, but if you were planning to invest all of your money in diseased livestock, and they instead pointed you toward some basic index mutual funds, it’s probably a good thing that you had some guidance.

You could also do all of this at your bank.  Almost all banks have folks there who can help you set up an account and start some basic investing.  I can’t promise that the quality of the investment advice will always be outstanding, but if you’re just getting started, their guidance will be adequate.

So there you have it… a 36,000 foot view on planning for retirement in your 20s and 30s…

The biggest point of all of this is: SAVE AND INVEST EARLY IN LIFE. No, but for real. Seriously. Save and invest early in life. It makes a MASSIVE difference.

I’ll definitely be writing another post soon that delves a little deeper into the different between a 401(k), a traditional IRA, a ROTH IRA, etc. But, in the meantime, you can check out this post that I wrote that gives you some idea.

What about you? Learn anything new? Anything you hadn’t thought of before? Do you have any tips that you would add?

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View More: http://em-grey.pass.us/august-2014-fashion-bloggers-day-out-molly-high-resolution

Collective Concepts Jayde Layered Floral Knit Tank: Stitch Fix (similar) | Mint Jeans: Target (similar) | Shoes: Hotter.com | Bag: Stitch Fix (exact here) | Earrings: House of Polynesia c/o (Use code “MOLLY15″ for 15% off your order!)| Bar Necklace: 9th and Elm c/o

Photos by the awesome and so sweet Em Grey Photography

I can’t believe we are mere days away from the official end of summer. I’m not going to be all “Ohhh my how the time has flown! Where did the summer go?” But seriously. WHERE IN SAM HILL DID THE SUMMER GO? My gracious.

Anywho.

Ever since I got this layered tank in my July fix, it has been one of my absolute favorite tops to wear this summer. It’s so light and airy and flowy and comfortable and it’s easy to nurse in (#keepingitreal) and I can wear it with jeans (of many colors!) and I can wear it with shorts and I can wear it with a maxi skirt and I just love it. I will stop gushing, but I will also say that I definitely plan to take this tank into the fall as well… it’s one that will be really easy to just throw a denim jacket or a cardigan over and boom… you have fall attire.

Let’s talk about these earrings.

The oh-so-fantastic Kathleen from House of Polynesia sent me two GORRRRGEOUS pairs of earrings from her shop and I love them. She makes the most beautiful jewelry. I wish I was talented with something like jewelry making or some craft… I always have a little bit of envy for people who have a knack for something like that. (Use code “MOLLY15″ for 15% off your order!!”

Anyway, while I am, quite honestly, not prone to wearing dangly earrings ALL the time (mainly because Lilly will RIP THEM OUT), I do LOVE to wear them on occasion… to a special event, on a date night, or just when I’m out by myself and I want to feel a little dressed up.

There’s just something about wearing a gorgeous pair of hoops or statement earrings that makes me feel all fancy like. Am I the only one?

Also, I will totally own up to the fact that you can see the remnants in my ears of when I had a bajillion piercings. It is weird for me to think that there was a time in my life when I had 10 piercings. TEN. I had eight in my ears (four on each side), my nose pierced, and my belly button pierced. It was a youthful phase that I am clearly out of.

The nose ring lasted all of about eight months my sophomore year of college until it fell out one night in my sleep. It hurt so bad to get it done the first time that I refused to get it done again. The belly button ring I got for my 15th birthday (my mom took me! WHAT?! It’s true. haha!) and I took it out I think four or five years ago. Basically right around the time I stopped wearing two piece bathing suits.

Now I just wear two earrings in two holes in my ears.

Was this too much information for you? Probably. Oh well, I started rambling and went on a somewhat related tangent and divulged a weird fact about me.

Please do not judge me.

MOVING ON.

Also, this photo below, I strangely like it while I also think it looks like I’m about to hit on a shrub or something… like, “Hey there shrub! How YOU doin’?

I’m all over the place today, aren’t I?
ANYWAY! Back to the subject at hand. The FABULOUS Kathleen is giving TWO pairs of earrings away (YOUR CHOICE!!) to one of my lucky readers. So, be sure to enter below and be sure to check out her shop… her jewelry is absolutely gorgeous.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My Quest for a Great Skin Care Routine (1)


I mentioned earlier in the summer that one of my main goals has been to start working on and investing in a GOOD skin care routine for myself. I’m not getting any younger and while, yes, I have definitely been blessed with youthful skin (thank you genetics!), that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be taking good care of my skin NOW to prevent problems later.

I have felt like my skin has been feeling tired, dry (but also oily), dull, and just lifeless. I am getting breakouts more than ever, age spots, dark circles, and I just feel like I’ve been needing to make a change in my routine and start INVESTING in my skin. I mean, my skin IS the largest organ on my body. RIGHT? Right.

Anyway. I am definitely not an expert in the arena of skin care and while I don’t feel like I’ve found the “holy grail” end-all be-all of skin care routines, I have discovered some products over the last few months that I’ve integrated into my daily regimen that I am really enjoying and I have felt like are beginning to make a difference.

I also will say that I realize that this is a bit of a hodge podge of products, but that is because I’m still very much in a “trial” phase and I’m seeing what works for me and what doesn’t.

BEAUTY | An All Day Makeup Look with Neutrogena (13)

A little about my skin (and my skin “history”):

I thought it might be helpful to tell you a little bit about my skin type and the history of my skin so that it might help those of you who may have a similar skin type put what I’m saying into perspective…

As I mentioned earlier, I have been extremely blessed with “youthful” skin. My mom’s side of the family all had very youthful skin and my mom, even up until the day she passed, always had gorgeous skin and she always looked WAY younger than her actual age. So, I’ve always looked way younger than I am and I’ve never really struggled with my skin.

I never really had many issues with acne growing up. I had a few breakouts here and there during that “time” of the month, but overall, I never had major, major issues.

I am SUPER allergic to Benzoil Peroxide – the active ingredient found in many acne medications. I learned this the hard way in fifth grade. I remember getting some acne medication from Rite Aid, taking it home, putting it on a zit and ALL over my face, going to school and an hour later I looked like Will Smith in Hitch. It was NOT a good look. So, needless to say, I have always avoided products with BP in it.

My skin has never been too oily and never been too dry, it’s definitely more “combo” than anything else.

I am really fair skinned (stating the obvious) and skin cancer runs really rampant in my family… so I am really REALLY conscious about wearing something with SPF in it… even in the dead of winter.

The Current State of my Skin:

So, that brings me to today. Since getting pregnant and having Lilly, the hormones have really changed my skin a lot. I feel like it’s aged more in the past year than it had in the 28 years prior.

My dark circles have gotten out. of. control. My freckles are darkening (and not in a cute way) and I’m beginning to develop some age spots. I also have noticed that my skin breaks out more than usual and I’m getting wrinkles where I didn’t have them previously and I also have weird times where my skin is both dry AND oily. I don’t know how that is possible. But it is.

My Current Skin Care Routine

Arbonne RE9 Advanced Smoothing Facial Cleanser – used in the morning and/or in the shower

My Quest for a Great Skin Care Routine (2)

One of my dear friends here in the area, Elise, is an Arbonne consultant. I actually tried my first Arbonne product back in the winter when John got me something from them for my stocking. I loved it right away. I had been on the hunt for a good, “age-fighting” cleanser and Elise recommended this to me back in the spring and I’ve been using it ever since. I LOVE it. A little goes a long way (I am barely halfway through the first bottle that I got back in May), and it gives a good clean lather without being super soapy.

It’s also not heavily scented, which I like. It’s just straight forward and I feel like it really gets my skin feeling clean.

Garnier Clean Purifying Foam Cleanser – used to remove makeup

My Quest for a Great Skin Care Routine (7)

I’ve been using this Garnier Clean cleanser for almost a year now and I love it for removing the last bit of makeup at night before bed. After using makeup remover and/or face wipes, I use this cleanser last right before bed. It has a really light feeling and my face just feels… clean after using it. You know what I mean? I realize I’m over simplifying it, but you get what I’m saying.

Clinique Acne Spot Healing Gel – used as needed

My Quest for a Great Skin Care Routine (4)

I have been using the exact same acne spot treatment for close to 15 years. The Clinique acne spot treatment is seriously MAGIC. It’s $17 for a tiny little bottle, but it takes me a good year to use the whole thing up. It zaps zits OVERNIGHT. It has salicylic acid instead of benzoil peroxide, but seriously… this stuff is magic. MAGIC. MAGIC.

Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum – used twice a day, every day

My Quest for a Great Skin Care Routine (6)

I got sent a sample of the Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum last month and I’ve been using it twice daily since I got it. I am always a little bit skeptical about products like this because they seem to be more on the “gimicky” side. But I have to say, I have DEFINITELY seen a difference in my skin. My skin tone has appeared MUCH more even, less blotchy, and I’ve seen a significant decrease in my dark circles and age spots.

I’ve had to use foundation less and less lately, and in a lot of ways, I think I attribute it to the use of this stuff. I think only time will tell on whether or not I’ll keep using it for the long haul, but for now, I am LOVING this stuff.

Arbonne RE9 Advanced Corrective Eye Cream / Moisturizer – used twice a day, every day

My Quest for a Great Skin Care Routine (5)

I’ve been using another Arbonne product per the recommendation of my friend, Elise, in conjunction with the Arbonne cleanser. I was using another Arbonne under eye cream previously, and I honestly wasn’t blown away by it. Sure, it kept me moisturized, but I wasn’t seeing improvement in my under eye circles and wrinkles.

Elise recommended this particular line to me and I’ve been using it since May and I’m hooked. This stuff is the bomb. It’s another one where a little goes a long way (I barely use half a pump for both eyes) and I really feel like I’ve begun to see a difference in my skin using this stuff. I will definitely repurchase when I run out.

SOBO Ultra Age Repairing Cream / Moisturizer – used twice a day, every day

My Quest for a Great Skin Care Routine (3)

I was also sent a sample of the SOBO Ultra Age Repairing Cream with Resveratrol earlier this month and have been using it twice a day, seven days a week for the last two weeks. I was using another moisturizer previously, but it wasn’t one that blew me away. I had heard great things about the SOBO line so I was excited to try this one out. (By the way, you can use the code “TRYSOBO” for 25% off your purchase!)

So far I really like it. It is a little “heavy,” in that it needs a good 15-20 minutes to seep into your skin after applying. But, my skin has felt really soft and moisturized. If you have oily skin, I’m not sure how you’d do with this, but for my combo skin, it does great.

I can’t speak to it’s “age fighting” power quite yet as I’ve only been using it for two weeks, but as a daily moisturizer, so far I am really impressed.

So that’s it for now. That’s what I’m using… I feel like I’m making progress in my skincare routine, but I’m also not locked into one yet. It’s all trial and error at this point… BUT, I do like what I’m experiencing so far.

What about you? What’s your skincare routine look like? What products have you been using that you can recommend?

 

 

 

*thank you to BrandBacker and SOBO for sending me a sample of the SOBO Skin Care moisturizer! Also thank you to Murad for sending me a sample of the Age Spot and Lightening Serum as well! All other products were purchased by me and all opinions are totally honest and my own. Other than samples, no other compensation was provided. I wouldn’t be writing about these things if I didn’t truly love them!

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Gravel Road Tees: North Cackalacky T-Shirt | Dressing Up a Printed T-Shirt (1)

North Cackalacky T-Shirt: Gravel Road Tees c/o | Statement Necklace: eBay (similar) | Bar Necklace: 9th and Elm c/o | Bag: Target | Shorts: The Limited (sold out) | Shoes: C. Wonder c/o | Lip Color: Bite Lipstick

Photos by Em Grey Photography

I was born and raised in Virginia. I spent 24 years of my life in the Old Dominion… but after moving to North Carolina over five years ago, North Carolina has totally won my heart. I love this state and I really don’t see myself ever leaving it. I’m not sure at what point I’m considered a true, North Carolina girl, but in my heart of hearts, I feel like I’m already there.

Anyway, when Cassie of Gravel Road tees got in contact with me and I saw her AMAZING line of t-shirts, I immediately feel head-over-boots in love. This North Cackalacky tee, in particular, stole my heart. I get emails a lot from readers asking how to dress up a “plain ol’ t-shirt” and I thought this would be a great opportunity to show how I dressed this particular one up and share three “rules” for dressing up a t-shirt!

Gravel Road Tees: North Cackalacky T-Shirt | Dressing Up a Printed T-Shirt (2)

Now, remember, it’s fashion… not rocket science. So, these “rules” are more “guidelines” – they are not hard and fast rules… so keep that in mind.

Continue Reading →

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RECIPE: Delicious Crock Pot Pulled Pork

I LOVE me some pulled pork. It’s pretty much one of those foods that is ALWAYS good to me. Plain, with BBQ sauce, Carolina style, Tennessee style, whathaveyou… it’s all delicious in my world.

When we were planning the menu for Lilly’s first birthday party, I knew that a good ol’ batch of crock pot pulled pork would be delicious, easy, and able to feed a large group of people.

This recipe has been handed down to us and I thought it’s just too good to keep a secret! BUT, you do need to have some patience with this one because it is not a “quick” recipe… it’s delicious because it needs to SIMMER. This is perfect for football parties, birthday parties, or just a weekend in! So, here’s the recipe! Enjoy. :)

Also, note that about one pound of pork is equal to two servings… so if you need to serve more people, just double, triple, or quadruple the recipe as needed.

RECIPE: Delicious Crock Pot Pulled Pork
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious crock pot pulled pork recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: Crock Pot
Cuisine: Southern
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 lbs. of Boston Butt Pork Road
  • 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ½ cup of Honey
  • ½ cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Red Pepper Flakes
Instructions
  1. Rub the road with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
  2. Place roast in the slow cooker in set on medium heat.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the honey, vinegar, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pour over the pork and cover the cooker.
  5. Cook on low to medium heat for 8-10 hours or until the meat begins to fall off the bone. Flip the roast every 3-4 hours.
  6. Remove the roast from the cooker (the meat should "shred" itself and fall off the bone) and let it cool for 30 minutes on the counter then, covered, for several hours in the refrigerator (we kept ours in the fridge overnight).
  7. Once the roast has totally cooled and all the fat has congealed to the top (this part is kinda gross), remove the bone and excess fat.
  8. Pull the meat apart with your fingers or a fork.
  9. Reheat and add a little more seasonings to taste. (We put our back in the crockpot for a few hours before serving).
  10. This really is best the second day and it freezes well, too!

What about you? Are you a pulled pork fan? Will you try this?

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Paying Off the Loan vs. Saving for the Future | Molly's Money

If this is your first time here, Molly’s Money is a regular series I write on this blog that includes ALL things personal finance – debt management, budgeting, home buying, savings, investment, etc. I am NOT a financial advisor, but I am married to one! These are just things that I have learned over the years as I struggled with my own personal finances and ultimately, became debt free in 2012. Got a question about money that you want answered? Leave it in the comments below or email me!

This week’s Molly’s Money post is another Reader Question! I LOVE these kinds of Molly’s Money posts because I LOVE answering money questions from readers – mostly because I know that if ONE person has asked the question, that means MANY of you may have that same question as well. This week’s question comes from “H” and she wants to know about paying off a loan vs. saving for her future…

Hi Molly,

First and foremost, I love your blog!  I wanted to get some advice from you – I graduated from college six years ago and I am still making monthly loan payments.  I try to pay extra money towards the loan each month.  I am going to receive a bonus next month that will allow me to pay off my remaining $4,342.75 if I decide to.

I am seriously dating a guy and would like to save money for a house and a wedding as well.  I think he is going to propose soon!  Oh, and I pay off my credit card each month so other than my loan I don’t have any debt.

My question is – would you pay off your loan or save the money from the bonus in your regular savings account and pay the loan off later?  My student loan interest rate is around 5%.  I feel like I should pay off the loan entirely. If I pay off the loan I will still have some money in savings for emergencies and to tide me over.  I’d have almost eight grand left over.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Best wishes,

H

Continue Reading →

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September Stitch Fix Review - What I Got & What I Kept! @stitchfix (11)

This is not a sponsored post, but this post does contain a referral link. If you sign up to try Stitch Fix through my referral link, I receive a credit towards my next fix. And then, if you sign up, and you share YOUR referral link, YOU could get credit, too! It’s the gift that keeps on giving… or something. :) HUZZAH!

Yep! I’m back with ANOTHER Stitch Fix review. You guys, if it’s even possible, I am loving Stitch Fix more and more with every fix that I get. My stylist has been NAILING it with these last few fixes. It’s almost getting to the point where I’m like, “Can it GET any better?!” And yes, it does.

A couple of housekeeping things / tips and tricks for using Stitch Fix: I know some of y’all have sent me messages saying some of you have had AWESOME fixes while some of you have NOT had awesome fixes and all I can really say is FEEDBACK, FEEDBACK, FEEDBACK. It’s really about being SUPER specific in your feedback and being really, brutally honest about each item you get and each item you keep and each item you would LIKE to see. Also, if you have not given them a link to a Pinterest board with ideas of what you like, etc. I would HIGHLY suggest doing that. That is a BIG tool that they use and that’s been something that my stylist has told me has helped her pick out my items because she gets a visual of what I like and what I’d like to see.

I also know that a lot of you have said, “Well, if you know what you like, then why do you need to pay for a service to send you clothes?” For me, a few of the biggest upsides for Stitch Fix is the convenience and the “un-biased” party suggesting looks for me.

What I mean is, with regards to the convenience… shopping is just REALLY tough for me these days. Sure, I LOVE shopping, but it’s next to impossible to do anymore. Lilly is so active all. the. time. and the thought of taking her to the mall or a store with me and trying to actually shop makes me cringe. She would last about 10.2 seconds before she’d be screaming to get out and crawl around. It would not work out well for anyone. And, sure, while I could leave Lilly home with John on the weekends and go shopping alone, the fact is that I would rather spend that time together as a family since we don’t see much of him during the week. So, the convenience is a HUGE HUGE HUGE part of it for me.

And then there’s the part about the “un-biased” party suggesting looks for me. Yes, I love fashion and I know what I like. BUT, the truth is, that I tend to reach for the same type of looks over, and over, and over again. I grab cardigans and the same style dresses and the same style tops and while I want to try abstract prints or asymmetrical cuts or printed dresses or colored pants, I just tend to… well, not. I just err on the side of caution when I am shopping for myself. The thing that I’ve LOVED about Stitch Fix is that is has forced me to try on clothes that if I EVER saw them on a rack in a store, I would most likely NOT try them on myself. I don’t think I’d even pick them up and take them back to the dressing room. Not because I don’t like them, but just because they aren’t something that I’d typically reach for. So, having a stylist pick out clothes for me that she thinks I’d like and having them be things that I’d normally not try, but I’m FORCED to try them on, has been REALLY awesome for my style, sense of confidence, and willingness to try something new.

I realize all that was pretty rambly, but I thought I’d just share my two cents. :)

This month’s fix was another FABULOUS one and, as always, I will share what I got, what I thought of it, price point, size, quality, fit, etc. and whether or not I kept it. I did adjust my “budget” this month in my style profile because I wanted a nice dress for a couple weddings I am going to and a nice pair of colored jeans. I have some referral credit I have saved up and I also have saved some money in my budget this month for these particular occasions.

As always, I take these photos AS I try each piece on so I can get my first impressions… which is why they are taken in my backyard and which is also why I look like I’m the Skipper of the Struggle Boat… I was tired this day.

Without further ado – here’s my September fix!

Zad “Adrianna Circle Bib Necklace” – $34

September Stitch Fix Review - What I Got & What I Kept! @stitchfix (3)

When I opened the necklace, I immediately thought, “This is NOTHING like anything I have!” While I like statement jewelry, it’s not a necklace I think I’d usually pick out for myself. But, I ended up really liking it. I LOVE the mixed metals and it will go with a lot. It’s really a soft feeling metal necklace, if that makes sense… and it doesn’t feel flimsy at all – so if Lilly pulls at it, I don’t think it’ll break right away. Haha! I thought the price point was dead on and decided that it was different enough that it was easily a keeper!

41Hawthorn “Ivy Abstract Triangle Print Tab-Sleeve Blouse” – Size XL – $68

September Stitch Fix Review - What I Got & What I Kept! @stitchfix (4)

I pretty much knew I was going to keep this top (if it fit) as soon as I took it out of the box. I LOVE the tab-sleeve style of blouses and I loved the abstract print! It’s, again, totally different than anything I already have in my closet and, surprisingly, I don’t have a lot of black and white printed tops.

Once I put it on, I fell even more in love with it. The cut is perfect and I really love the shape of the neckline and the bottom of the blouse. It’s really comfortable and lightweight (making it perfect for this time of year). It doesn’t feel too tight anywhere and gives me enough “breathing” room in the shoulders – a lot of blouses always feel tight in the shoulders to me.

The material is a soft, polyester / cotton material, but doesn’t feel cheap. I thought the price point was pretty dead on for this one. Maybe a little steep, but overall, I thought it was great! So I kept it!

41 Hawthorn “Lex Textured Floral Knit Fit & Flare Dress” – Size XL – $74

September Stitch Fix Review - What I Got & What I Kept! @stitchfix (5)

I asked specifically for a dress that I could wear to some weddings I have coming up in September and October. I wanted something lightweight, but something that was also comfortable enough to move around in and something I could easily dress up or dress down (I’m going to two beach weddings).

I loved the print of this one and the material right off the bat. It’s a REALLY stretchy, flowy jersey-like material and it’s SUPER comfortable. It’s almost like I feel like I’m wearing pajamas this dress is so stretchy and comfortable.

I love the fit and flare style on me, too. I just think that’s one of those cuts that is flattering on almost all body types.

I did determine that the dress is awfully “plain” by itself, once on… so I will DEFINITELY dress this dress up with a belt, a statement necklace, or a blazer. I don’t know that I would wear it just by itself.

I also felt that the price point for a dress like this was DEFINITELY spot on. So, I kept it!

Margaret M “Kayla Skinny Jean” in Light Blue – Size 14 – $108

September Stitch Fix Review - What I Got & What I Kept! @stitchfix (1)

I asked specifically for a pair of royal blue jeans in this fix (I have been on the HUNT for some royal blue jeans with NO luck so far, much like I was on the hunt for red jeans). My stylist told me that while she desperately tried to find some royal blue jeans for me, they were totally out of stock. Bummer. BUT, she wanted to at least try to get me some blue jeans in my fix, so she sent me these light blue Margaret M jeans!

I LOVE the color! While it’s not royal blue, it is DEFINITELY a really fun color blue and a color that will go with A TON in my closet.

I tried them on and the fit was AWESOME. They aren’t too tight, they’re really stretchy, and they’re really comfortable. They are DEFINITELY too long (lifelong struggle here with pants always being too long), but that’s nothing that $8 and my awesome tailor down the street can’t fix. :)

Yes, $108 is pricey for jeans, but to me… good jeans are SO hard to find (at least for me) that the price tag was worth it. Plus, I was taking into account the discount for buying everything in my fix.

Daniel Rainn “Portrero Graphic Print Scoop Neck Blouse” – Size XL – $68

September Stitch Fix Review - What I Got & What I Kept! @stitchfix (2)

I wasn’t really sure about this top at first. I don’t usually like tops with those short, cap sleeves as I feel that they aren’t the most flattering on my body. I also wasn’t sold on the print. It just wasn’t my style off the bat.

However, the top is CRAZY comfortable. It’s REALLY loose and flowy and the material on the front is really soft… so the loose, flowy fit really sold me. I don’t have a picture of it, but the back of this shirt is a sheer black material so you need to wear a tank underneath. I don’t usually like sheer shirts like that, but I thought it actually was really flattering, but I will probably wear it with a blazer or something.

Although, it would be great for the summertime to wear to a concert or something like that…

I thought the price point was high, but somewhat reasonable for the top… and it was actually cheaper for me to KEEP the shirt than to send it back because of the 25% buy all discount. So, I kept it! And I’m actually glad that I did!

Overall my thoughts on this fix…

It was a GREAT fix. Well, seeing as how this is the third fix where I kept everything… I’d say that it was definitely a winner. My stylist has really been taking my feedback into account and trying her best to both accommodate my requests while also sending me pieces she thinks I would like.

So what about you? Have you tried Stitch Fix yet? Which piece(s) were your favorite? If you haven’t, feel free to sign up to try it out here!

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Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (1)

*A HUGE thank you to Gymboree for sponsoring this post. As always, thank you for supporting the wonderfully awesome companies that help to support my wonderfully awesome family!

I can remember being a little girl… maybe four or five years old and BEGGING my mom to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle to me. I’d follow her around the kitchen or the living room holding the book up asking her to read them to me for the 50th time that day. And, of course, my mom always obliged. I knew she actually loved reading to me… :) I was just mesmerized by those books. They were some of my absolute favorites.

As I’ve gotten older, those books have remained favorites of mine, but they hold a much more nostalgic place in my heart these days – rather than a desire to read them for their literary value. Haha! BUT, when I became pregnant with Lilly, I so looked forward to reading her some of my favorite childhood books – especially those

And now it’s my turn! As Lilly has gotten “older” and more into actually paying attention when I read to her (as opposed to staring off into space – haha!) I treasure the moments in her room or snuggled in our bed reading and pointing out the details like the brown bear, the purple cat, the blue horse, and the caterpillar. Lilly’s really into pointing at everything right now (and I do mean EVERYTHING – everything is pointed at these days), so having her point to the different things in the books is my favorite. These are moments I really will remember forever.

I just love that those Eric Carle books have stood the test of time. They are classics for a reason. And, truthfully, I totally see myself reading them to my grandchildren one day. They’re THAT classic. You know?

Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (2)

Anyway, Gymboree, the adorable and classic Children’s clothing store, has just released a limited edition line of Eric Carle sleepwear and playwear inspired by his classic children’s books!

I stopped by the store with Lilly last Friday to check it out and I just fell in LOVE! Every single item in the line is absolutely precious. They also had a craft activity going on where you could color and decorate your own caterpillar and they had a reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Sadly, Lilly was a little too young for the craft – mainly because I’m pretty sure she would have just eaten the googly eyes and glitter. Haha! One day, though… one day.Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (3)

Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (7)Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (4)

Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (5) Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (6)

While I was there, I picked up a set of sleepwear for Lilly an an adorable zebra top for playwear. They’re SO soft! I think she’s a fan! But, probably not as much as I am… to be honest. :)

Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (8)

Lilly enjoying an afternoon reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear…Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (9) Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (10)

Love this girl. SO much.

Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (11)

Then Lilly got ready for bedtime… but she wanted to play first. Sleep is for birds, she says…

Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (12) Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (13) Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (14)

But she is always game for daddy reading her a book… especially The Very Hungry Caterpillar… :)

Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (15)

Be still my heart.Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (16) Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (17) Eric Carle for Gymboree Children's Clothing Line of Sleepwear and Playwear http://ooh.li/0b99c28 (18)

Now, inspired by Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, through September 30th, Gymboree will be hosting a photo contest, where they are encouraging parents to help their little ones take a picture of what THEY see.

Entrants can submit a photo via Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or via their designated direct photo upload site, using the hashtag, #WhatDoYouSee.

For even MORE fun, download the iPhone app so you and your little one can add some Eric Carle fun to your photos and play a caterpillar game! FUN!!

Entrants of the #WhatDoYouSee contest will have the chance of winning one of TEN Eric Carle gift baskets including: A House for Hermit Crab book, a signed copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar book, figurines, stickers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sippy Cup, Chunky Colored Pencils, Match and Munch Game, Place Mats Book, and Stage & Play (Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) $144.99). Get all the information you need here!

The winners will be announced at the end of the contest period, which is September 30th, 2014! How awesome is that?!

What about you? What memories do YOU have of growing up as a kid reading Eric Carle books? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below! 

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Joules rose sweater dress, Hotter.com Donna heels (1)

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, InStyle, Vogue and Elle, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #inspirefallfashion  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Joules rose sweater dress, Hotter.com Donna heels (2)

Dress: Joules c/o | Shoes: Hotter.com c/o | Necklace: Target | Bag: Stitch Fix (exact here) | Lip Color: Makeup for Ever in Pink Brick

Photos by Em Grey Photography

I go back and forth on what my “favorite” season is. I typically like to think spring is my favorite season, but then when fall begins to peek through the door, I get SO excited for fall and I say that fall is my favorite season.

Between the arrival of football, the crisp weather, pumpkins, leaves falling, annnnnd the September issues of fashion magazines – it’s pretty much a recipe for awesomeness. The September issues are always my favorite issues because they are HUGE, they’re chock full of gorgeous editorials, trend updates, style ideas, and more. It’s every fashion magazine lover’s dream.

I picked up the September issues of Vogue and InStyle from Target this week! (Which, by the way, if you pick up two copies of either Vogue, InStyle or Elle between now and September 13th, you get a free $5 Target gift card! Winning.) I love unwinding on the weekend by taking a bath and reading a magazine… pretty much my favorite. target-fall-fashion-magazine-2014_0119

Anyway, as I was reading getting inspired for the fall, I was noticing that a lot of florals and earthy tones were gracing the pages of Vogue. Once thing I try to do when I look at trends, especially in fashion magazines, is figure out how I can make them my own – rather than trying to replicate something that a model is wearing.

The earthy tones and romantic floral patterns immediately made me think of this dress from Joules. I LOVE it. For so many reasons. 1) It’s comfortable. 2) It’s feminine and I just feel dang pretty in it. 3) IT HAS POCKETS.

Continue Reading →

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Triangle Momma's Night Out at Progeny Shoppe

I’m so excited about today’s announcement and giveaway!

This is mainly for moms who live in the Raleigh / Durham / Triangle, North Carolina area… BUT, if you are a mom of a girl OR you have a niece or granddaughter or sister or anyone with a little girl – then this is the PERFECT giveaway for you. SO, keep reading! :)

I’m super pumped to excited that I’ve teamed up with Progeny Shoppe and triFABB (Triangle Fashion, Beauty, Food, Lifestyle, and etc. Bloggers) to announce Momma’s Night Out!

Momma’s Night Out is happening THIS MONTH and is going to be a REALLY fun event! This is the chance for you to leave the kiddos at home with dad or a babysitter and for mom’s in the area to just get together and hang out, socialize, chat, meetup, and there’s even going to be a fun DIY bauble bar by Bird & Beau to make and take some jewels. :)

Here are the details:

  • WHAT: Momma’s Night Out
  • WHEN: Thursday, September 25th, 2014
  • TIME: 7-9pm
  • WHERE: Progeny Shoppe – A Children’s Boutique in Raleigh | 209 Bickett Boulevard, Raleigh, NC
  • RSVP: Please RSVP to Kristin@progenyshoppe.com

If you are a momma, come on out – bring your mom friends! It’s going to be a GREAT night! And if you’re not a mom, don’t worry, we are working up some awesome meetups and events for this fall and winter!! I can’t wait!

Hartstrings Girl's Clothing Review (1)

Little Hip Squeaks Headband c/o Progeny Shoppe

Also, the FABULOUS ladies at Progeny Shoppe are giving away an ADORABLE Little Hip Squeaks Headband (like the one that Lilly wore in Tuesday’s post, pictured above) and Baby Boho Bracelet to one of my readers! And you don’t have to live in the area to enter! So, if there’s a sweet baby or toddler girl in your life that you know would love a headband and bracelet, this is the giveaway for you!
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