Bright on a Budget | Kentucky Affordable Fashion + Beauty Blogger: July 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIY Seashell Souvenirs/Keepsakes [+ Beach Proposal Idea!]

To PIN any of these ideas (especially the last one), simply hover over the picture with your mouse and click the red Pinterest button that appears!  Happy pinning!

Free souvenirs?!  Yes, please!

I love collecting seashells!  Even though I'm not a morning person, I will get up really early to head down to the beach to go shell scouting.  It's like a treasure hunt that I always hate quitting, because I know the biggest, most beautiful shell is just a little bit further down the beach. . .  I also love souvenirs. Yes, I know they're corny, but like with seashells, I just can't help myself.  I always look for something unique and personal, but sometimes I just can't find what I'm looking for.

On my trip to Folly Beach (read about it here), I was fortunate enough to collect many shells of decent size that were absolutely gorgeous!  I had seen several pins on Pinterest about making ornaments out of sand from the beach for souvenirs, and this started my head spinning about what I could do with the seashells.   I thought about painting them, but decided using Sharpies would be cheaper and less messy. Enter the recent Office Max sale on Sharpies ($.25 each) and I was in business!

DIY Seashell Souvenirs

Materials needed: Seashells and Sharpies (either paint or permanent marker--they both work just as well)

Step 1: Rinse all of your shells to make sure all of the sand is out of the crevices.  Any residual sand can mess up your canvas and whatever you're using to decorate with.

Step 2: Select shells based on what you want to do.  If you're looking to write on a shell, choose one with a somewhat smooth surface, even if it's the back of the shell.  If you're just looking to color/paint the shell, then your options are wide open!

Step 3: Design and decorate.  Yep, it's as easy as that.  Here's some ideas to get you started:

 The easiest message to write on a shell is the name of the beach and the date.  I wish I would have started doing this on earlier beach trips, because you never remember what shells came from where!  Also, this is a way more personal souvenir than buying a t-shirt, hat, or other money-waster!

I love this shell!  While imperfect, it reminds me of a fish!  

Add color to your message--nothing says "beach" like a calming blue shade!

Memorialize special events!  We were celebrating our 5th anniversary while on the trip, so I made a shell to celebrate that occasion.  While you can't see the front of the shell, I trimmed it in the same gold as the writing for a classier effect!

 Think about cute sayings and phrases to use.  These will provide someone with a smile and be perfect to sit out on a desk!

 Monochromatic shells in a metallic color will catch the eye.  Give these in multiples, which will be cute sitting in a dish or jar together.

Save the stamp and put your postcard message on the seashell!  This is a great way to let someone know you were thinking about them while you were away!

I was really happy with how the shells I decorated tonight turned out!  I can't wait to do the rest of them and hand them out to my family and friends.

Beach Proposal Idea!!!

As I was working on these shells, I had an "a ha!" moment. . . wouldn't something like this just make the cutest proposal?!  Feel free to use this idea, but I want to hear about it if you do:)  And if you'd like to pin the idea, just hover over the picture and click the Pinterest button that appears!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wardrobe Re-Wear: Maxi Skirt

I'm seriously loving all of my Maurices finds, including the maxi skirt that's the focus of today's Wardrobe Re-Wear!  This maxi skirt is currently an additional 75% off on Maurices website ($29.98 + an extra 75% off)-- who can say no to a maxi skirt for $7.50?!  Use code RMN714 for an additional 10% off sitewide + free shipping over $50 (code expires 07/31/14)!  Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 3.5% back on your purchase.

Hover over this image to pin to your Pinterest.

What first caught my eye about this skirt was the ombre effect--this is enhance by the bottom part of the skirt not having a "slip" under it.  Plus, it's flowy and cool for summer temperatures!  Maxi skirts are very versatile, and can be dressed up or dressed down depending on what look you're going for.  Here, I've pair the maxi skirt with a tee to dress it down and a cami + cardi to dress it up.  Both looks are work appropriate, but would transition well to a night out!

OUTFIT 1: Casual and Cute

To dress down a maxi skirt, throw on a tee.  For plain maxi skirts, I think that graphic tees look adorable!  Since this maxi skirt was patterned, I opted for a simple ivory tee and tossed on a statement necklace to pull the look together.  A statement necklace + tee is one of my all-time favorite looks and super versatile!

Shirt: Maurices, $5 (Similar, 14.80)

Flower statement necklace: Loft outlet, $4.25.
Bracelet: Old Navy (in-store), $3
Wristlet/wallet: Coach Factory, $35 
OUTFIT 2: Dolled-Up for Date Night

I picked up this cardigan when we were on vacation in Charleston.  I'm really drawn to anything beached/nautical themed, so those seahorses suckered me in!  I tucked in my shirt for this look, but I think it could work with the shirt untucked as well, so long as the shirt is form-fitting.
Seahorse cardigan: J.Crew Factory, approx. $28.  (Similar, $34)
Tank: Old Navy, $4 (now $7 + 30% off online using code BIGTIME--code expires tonight).
Wristlet: Maurices, $2.92 (sorry--sold out in the 2 colors that were clearanced)

Necklace: Purple Peridot, $8.18 (deal of the day steal, now $14.99)
If you're loving these outfit ideas, be sure to follow me on Instagram (@brightonabudget).  I frequently post #ootd/#wiw, and pass along good deals as soon as I see them!  I hope these posts give you some ideas about how to shop your own closet and match-up clothes you never thought of pairing together!

Family date night:)

Friday, July 25, 2014

High Five for Friday

Congrats. . .we've made it to Friday!  Breathe a sigh of relief and coast to the weekend!  Here's my week in review:

1. After several weeks of not seeing our family, we headed back to eastern Kentucky for a visit last Friday.  It was awesome to just relax (and to get to sleep in and nap!).  We headed out to eat at an Italian restaurant that one of our favorite local places to eat.  Kane was exhausted by the time we made it back to the house!  No wonder--the food was yummy and we were all stuffed!

Also, a sneak peek of my next Wardrobe Re-Wear post.  Had to re-shoot the outfit tonight because I didn't get a picture with the shoes.  Poor planning, I know.
I'm in love with the maxi skirt above--if you are too, you can find it here for $7.50!  If you missed my post on how to shop end-of-season sales, be sure to read it!

2. I JUST ORDERED MY VERY LAST SET OF TEXTBOOKS--EVER!  Praise God!  After 9 years of higher education (4 years of undergrad, 3 years of law school, and 2 years in on my MBA), I will be finished with school. FOREVER.  Seriously.  I am soooo excited!  As a 1st generation college student,* I'm very thankful for all of my educational opportunities, but it has been a long road!

*When I 1st started undergrad, I was the 1st person in my family to go to college.  Since then, my mom went to college and graduated at the top of her nursing class, and my brother is currently completing his business degree.

3.  Lexington has had some cooler-than-normal temperatures here lately.  That's ok.  My co-worker and I took the opportunity to get some dumplings from Cracker Barrel for lunch today:) Absolutely yummy!

Kids Meal from Cracker Barrel: Kids Vegetable Platter (yes, dumplings count as vegetables at CB), 2 biscuits, and a drink for around $4.50.  Now that's a deal!
4. I've had a little bit of down-time this weekend, so I've taken the time to re-read several books by my favorite authors, including Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Judith McNaught, and Jude Deveraux.  If you haven't read them, you should.  I'm more than willing to make suggestions on where you should start.

5. I finally got some of the new Target goodies that I talked about here.  No luck with the Whales Print popover so I settled for this plaid instead.  I think it will transition well into fall and winter wear, especially under some sweaters.  The sunglasses were a great alternative to the pair of Ray-Ban New Wayfarers I had my eye on, and I finally got my hands on the shoes that I've seen on all of my favorite Instagrammers' feet:)  The skirt is Vineyard Vines and a great find from my local Clothes Mentor for $14!

How's your week been? Let me know in the comments below.  Anybody find any good deals???

BONUS:  New Blogs to Read
Here's a few new blogs I've come across that you may enjoy:
White Coat Wardrobe (currently has a giveaway going on)

Also, don't forget to head over to Cup of Tea to see Katie's wrap-up on her 30 day outfit challenge!

As always, linking up with Lauren from the Lauren Elizabeth for #H54F!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Shop End-of-Season Sales (Like a Pro)

So, if you read the blog last Friday before 7 a.m., you've already read part of this post, but keep reading:).  I had included some of it on my #H54F post, but then edited the post down because I thought this deserved it's own post.  

I've always loved clothes (and shoes, bags, and accessories too)!  My style is kind of eclectic--usually trendy, sometimes preppy, sometimes classy, and mostly always comfy.  I enjoy mixing together different looks, and finding new ways to re-wear the same clothes. While I don't mind spending money on wardrobe staples (like a good suit), I really don't like spending a lot of money on trendy or fun pieces.

So when end-of-season clearance comes around, I'm in clothes-buying heaven!  Yes, I'm buying clothes for a season that is ending, but the trick is to buy pieces that you can work into your wardrobe all year long!

Online haul from Maurices--see bottom of post for details on how to save even more!
18 items for only $100.85!  I saved $347.79!4 dresses, 2 cardigans, 2 tanks, 4 tees, 2 sweaters, 2 shirts, 1 pair of flats, and 1 wristlet.
1. Set a budget and price points.  While these shopping trips usually yield some amazing finds, treat it like any other shopping trip.  Set limits for how much you'll spend total and what your price points are for certain articles of clothing.  My limits at an EOSS? $15 for pants and blazers, $10 for cardigans and shirts, and $15 for shoes.  Accessories are more flexible and I use my best judgment on value.

2. Step outside your wardrobe comfort zone!  I like to pick up my trendy pieces at EOSS.  That way I'm able to work trendy pieces into my wardrobe without agonizing over whether the price is worth the wear I'll get out of it.  I always try on most of the clothes that's in my size, even stuff I wouldn't normally try on, just to see what I think about it.  For instance, I scored the sweet moto vest pictured below for $8.74, and the black skinny jeans for $14.75.  I have shied away from the moto vest/jacket trend, as well as black jeans, but I really liked both trends when I tried them on!

Moto vest: Maurices (similar).

3. Don't limit yourself into think that EOSS items can't be worn in other seasons!  The peplum top above is a sleeveless shirt, but I can't wait to wear it this winter with the long-sleeved tee under it when I need a pop of color!  Any tees or tanks can be paired with a jacket or cardigan for cold-weather wear, and even short-sleeved cardigans can be paired with a long tee!  Summer dresses look adorable in the winter with chunky cardigans, textured tights, and boots or flats.

4. Stock up on staples.   I picked up several plain tees because those are wardrobe staples.  You can never go wrong with adding some simples tees and tanks, neutral cardigans, or new jeans.  I know I'll need these things at some point during the year, and I'd much rather grab them at lower prices.  Seriously, when was the last time a plain white tee went out of style?!

5. Don't overlook shoes and accessories!  I think sometimes people get so focused on clothes shopping that they forget that EOSS also includes shoes and accessories.  Check out these cute flats (ok, ruby red slippers) that were less than $5 and the adorable wristlet I scored for $2.92!

Flats: Maurices.
6. Look for additional savings via coupons.  Check Retail Me Not and Coupon Sherpa to see if you can find any additional printable coupons (for in-store) or promo codes (for online) to save even more!

Ready to shop?  Good.  All the clothes featured in this post came from Maurices, which is one of my all-time-favorite stores!  Maurices, like many places, has started their end-of-summer final clearance.  This is my absolute favorite sale of the year--yes, even better than Black Friday!  All of their final clearance is an extra 75% off the lowest price, which means shirts for as low as $3.24 and shoes for under $5. If you don't have a Maurices nearby, you can shop online.  Use code RMN714 for an additional 10% off sitewide + free shipping over $50 (code expires 07/31/14)!  Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 3.5% back on your purchase. 

In-store haul.  24 items for only $171.26!  I saved $505.01!
1 pair of skinny jeans, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 3 cardigans, 1 blazer, 1 jacket, 1 moto vest, and 15 shirts (1 shirt not pictured)!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review : Deborah Lippman Gel Lab Mini Set

I first came across the Deborah Lippman Gel Lab Mini Set when I was browsing in the Sephora at my local JCP.  I was very intrigued by the set, but didn't want to pay $25 for it (the full-size version is $45).  But when I went home, I kept thinking about it.  How awesome would it be to get gel-like nails using regular nail polish colors?!  Yes, $25 is expensive, but that's also about equal to the cost of a set of gel nails at the salon, so $25 for many uses wouldn't be that bad of a deal.

A short time ago, I was placing an order on the Sephora website, and threw the set into my cart so I could qualify for free shipping on my order.  I was down-right excited to get this product in and try it!

The set comes with a base coat, a top coat, and a small zipper pouch for storage.  The set even comes with special instructions on how to apply the system.  I followed these steps exactly as I painted my nails, while still using my trick for getting the salon-look at home and made sure to "cap" my nails.

Right after a fresh paint!  How pretty!
I wanted so, so badly to like this product, but it did not live up to my expectations.  Granted, I had high expectations for this set, but I feel like $25 spent on nail polish should mean high expectations.  The first time I polished my nails with it, the polish chipped within 18 hours of application.  I was so disappointed!  But I decided to try it again.  Same results.  I'm not a quitter, so I gave it one more chance--same results.  My nails chipped less than 12 hours later! So much for the long-lasting aspect.  Also, my nails appeared to be just as shiny using my regular top coat as they were with this top coat.

In no time at all, this is what my nails looked like:(
I picked this shade up out of the $1 clearance bin at Sephora. I don't know the name of it, but I love it!
Verdict: Save your money.  Overall, I was very disappointed that the product didn't live up to my expectations.  If I'm paying that much for something, I expect a manicure that lasts longer than 18 hours!  Granted, Deborah Lippman did suggest using their 2 Second Nail Primer for longer wear, but after paying $25 for a mini set, I don't want to have to shell out extra money.

Don't forget to go check out my tutorial for how to get that salon-look at home!

Friday, July 18, 2014

High Five for Friday

TGIF!  I'm always surprised at how fast the week flies by.  It's been a busy, fun-filled week!  
Let's recap:

1.  It's one of the most wonderful times of the year--the Maurices' summer final clearance sale started yesterday!  Every summer, about mid-July, they have an awesome final clearance sale where everything is marked down an additional 75%!!!  I shop this sale EVERY time and get a lot of my clothes for the year.  We're talking some ridiculous deals here-- shirts as low as $3.25, blazers for $10, and $12-15 jeans! You can't beat these deals!

Sneak peek of the clothes I bought in store-- 24 items for only $171.26!  I saved $505.01!
Total haul:  1 pair of skinny jeans, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 3 cardigans, 1 blazer, 1 jacket, 1 moto vest, and 15 shirts (I think--1 shirt is missing from the picture)!
I'm still waiting for my online order to arrive. Don't judge.
I love this top! So cute for summer!
Shirt: Maurices (not online), $5.49.
Pants: a.n.a via JCP (similar, $14.99)
Shoes: Target, on sale for approx. $11, now $19.99 online (add'l 25% off i

If you don't have a Maurices nearby, you can shop online.  Use code RMN714 for an additional 10% off sitewide + free shipping over $50 (code expires 07/31/14)!  Don't forget to use Ebates for an additional 3.5% back on your purchase.

2. I have recently discovered a new jewelery website thanks to Instagram--Purple Peridot. The awesome thing about their website is that shipping is only $.99 and they ship very quickly! Follow them on Instagram to stay up-to-date on their daily deals (which are pretty awesome) and for ideas about how to style their pieces!

Pearl Cluster Necklace: Purple Peridot
This was a daily deal last week and I purchased it for less than $9 with shipping (now it's $14.99).
3. Some of our best friends welcomed their firstborn into the world on Tuesday.  Isn't he a cutie?!

4. Kane and I had a mother-son date on Sunday since Chauncey had to go into the office for a while.  In case you can't tell, he loved his blue sherbet from Baskin Robbins!

No, Mom. I don't want to take a selfie. I want to eat this delicious sherbet! 

5.  My friend Dakota does all of Kane's baby pictures.  Here's one of Kane's 1st birthday shots that Dakota posted this week!  Dakota's work is in several places throughout my blog.  If you like his shots, head over to his Facebook page to check out even more!  While Dakota works in eastern Kentucky, he will travel for photography shoots.  Just contact him for pricing.

I hope you've had a wonderful week!  As always, I'm linking up with Lauren from the Lauren Elizabeth!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wardrobe Re-Wear : Chambray Skirt

I'm always looking for outfit inspirations or ideas.  It usually starts with one piece of clothing.  I see it, love it, and immediately start thinking of different ways to style it.  I picked this skirt up last summer on final clearance at Maurices.  It was super cheap--around $7.  The lace detail at the bottom caught my eye, and I thought it would make the perfect summer skirt.

Both of these outfits would be perfect for work, running errands, or a date night.

OUTFIT 1- Work Flow

I posted this picture on the blog a while back.  I picked up the shirt and necklace from the outlets in Gatlinburg.  The melon color of this shirt really makes the shirt pop!  The great thing about a chambray skirt is it acts as a neutral, and you could pair it with many different color tops.   The long necklace adds some decorative detail and pulls the outfit together.  While I forgot to take a picture that included my shoes, a pair of gold sandals (like these from Target) would look amazing!

Shirt: J. Crew Factory, details here.
Necklace: Loft Outlet, $4.25
Skirt: Maurices, approx. $7 (similar from Gap, $19; similar Dockers Women's Utility Skooter Skirt from Amazon) 
I'm in love with these popovers from Target (if someone see the Whales print come back in stock in a small, please let me know ASAP!), and they would all pair great with this skirt!


Today started off rainy. I wanted a casual outfit that I could wear with the Sperrys that I picked up this weekend at Clothes Mentor.  I pulled out one of my VS Pink v-neck tees to pair with the skirt, and added some silver accessories to match my shoes.

T-shirt: VS Pink, 2/$32.
Sperrys: Clothes Mentor, $20 (similar--Sperry Top-Sider Women's Angelfish Slip-On Loafer)
When I wear a plain t-shirt, especially to work, I like to make sure to wear a statement necklace that makes the outfit look more deliberate and less like I just threw on the first thing I came across in the closet.  With v-neck tees, I like to layer 2 or 3 necklaces of different lengths, making sure that one sits right in the "v".

Necklaces (top to bottom): Tiffany & Co. lock, journey diamond necklace (wedding gift from Chauncey),
and an older necklace from Kohl's.

And if 2 looks with my chambray skirt aren't enough, pop on over to Katie's (from Cup of Tea) Instagram and check out how she styled hers today!

If you're loving these outfit ideas, be sure to follow me on Instagram (@brightonabudget).  I frequently post #ootd/#wiw, and pass along good deals as soon as I see them!  I hope these posts give you some ideas about how to shop your own closet and match-up clothes you never thought of pairing together!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Dollar Shave Club: a Review

Note: My husband was the main guinea pig for this review.  Most opinions are his, and, while filtered, they're totally unbiased.

OK, I know you've seen the ads on Facebook for Dollar Shave Club.  Frankly, I thought it was a scam. . . that many razor blades for significantly less than $15-18 a pop?!  I thought it was too good to be true, so I just ignored the ads.  My husband, however, was on a mission.  He has used a Gillette Fusion since they first came out, and was currently on the Pro Glide incarnation.  Since razor blades cost so much, he always tried to stretch out the number of uses for each blade. But the duller the blade, the worse the shave.

Chauncey started researching his options.  He considered a straight razor before finally deciding to give the DSC a try.  The deal with the DSC is that you pay a flat rate every month (no additional shipping charge) and get 4-5 new blades in the mail each month depending on which option you select.

There are 3 blade options from which you can select: the Humble Twin (2 blades) at $1 per month, the 4x (4 blades) at $6 per month, or the Executive (6 blades) at $9 per month.  Chauncey chose the Executive since he was already used to having a 5-blade razor.  Even at $9 per month, the price was much cheaper than what he was paying for Gillette blades.

As soon as the 1st package arrived in the mail, I knew I was going to share his experience on the blog.  This is an awesome deal, but I still kept thinking it was too good to be true.  The 1st package contained a FREE handle for the blades, 4 new blades, and a small sample of a shave product.

The verdict? NOT A SCAM!  A great product for a more-than-reasonable price! Chauncey loves the Dollar Shave Club blades!  He says that the shave is just as good as with the Gillette Fusion Pro Glide, but he doesn't feel bad switching out blades when they get dull.  He has sensitive skin and these work well for him.  I also stole one of  his new blades and shave my legs with it, and the shave was pretty close!

If you want to join the Dollar Shave Club, you can go here to sign up and start your subscription.  It is conveniently delivered to your home every month, without you have to remember to reorder when you're close to needing new blades.

That said, Chauncey may be canceling his subscription soon, after only 3 months!  Why?  One of our friends informed us that you could get the same blades for less (thanks, Jason!).  So of course I googled it.  This article suggests that you can get the same quality blades for cheaper on Amazon!   If you don't have the handle yet, you can order the Dorco Pace 6 Plus- Six Blade Razor System with Trimmer - Value Pack (10 Cartridges + 1 Handle) for only $20.99! If you already have the handle from DSC, you can order the Dorco Pace 6 Plus- Six Blade Razor System with Trimmer- 16 pack for only $26.99!  Both of these items have tons of positive reviews on Amazon!  I'll be sure to do a follow-up post once Chauncey has tried these out.

Have you tried the Dollar Shave Club or the Dorco blades on Amazon?  If you have, let us know what you think in the comments below!