When the money tree has lost its leaves for the winter…

I’m sure we’d all love to have a bottomless bank account. I know I would. Unfortunately, in my real world and I’m guessing yours too, we just don’t have a surplus of spare cash to blow on pink patent heels and $70 Anthropologie earrings, as much as we may want to. Yes, this makes us all sad, but shopping – and eating – on a budget doesn’t have to make you feel like poor white trailer trash. Unless you want to, of course. But I don’t want to. I look terrible in cutoffs.

First, to the food. Those of you that know me know that my husband and I do NOT see eye to eye on food. Often, I have to prepare two separate dinners to accommodate his needs and my palate. What I’ve started doing lately, to save a couple of dollars (which I invariable spend on my weekly spa pedicure, but we all have needs) is preparing dishes in bulk. I make a large amount of a given recipe, salad, what-may-have-you, and I try to eat it all week in various ways. The recipe that follows is a copy-cat recipe of a salad that I’ve had from an Italian deli. I tried to replicate it, and although the flavor is a bit different, its very enjoyable. I like to call it my Greek Orzo salad. Usually I make it on a week night; the first night, I’ll have it hot as a pasta dish for dinner. The next day, I’ll take it to lunch as a cold pasta salad. It can be reheated in the microwave; you can saute some peppers and onions and add the salad to that another night for a different hot dinner; the possibilities are really endless w/this recipe. I hope you’ll try it – it is one that I enjoy often. Probably too often, and this is why none of my jeans fit at the moment. But that is neither here nor there.

Orzo Salad (I’m not much of a measure-er, so these are my estimations – adjust to your taste!)
1 pound (box) of Orzo, cooked (I prefer Barilla or Ronzoni – some cheaper brands get a weird film when you cook them)
1/3 cup olive oil (NOT extra virgin – its too strong)
1/4 red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, chopped (white or red – whichever you prefer or have on hand)
1 can of black olives (you can slice if you would like – I like them whole)
1 cup of grape tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts in water, quartered
1/2 cup crumbled Feta
Salt & Pepper to taste

First, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. I don’t really like to eat chunks of garlic, so after I’ve mixed it and let the dressing sit for a few minutes, I strain out the garlic pieces. If you love garlic, feel free to leave them in.

When the pasta has cooled a bit, combine it with the vegetables and the dressing. Mix until the dressing coats all of the components. Then, incorporate the feta.

Its a great recipe, and you can really tailor it to fit your taste – throw in some spinach, peppers, or whatever you like and have on hand.

So, now that we’re all fat from eating a pound of pasta, lets talk about clothes. If you’re like me, you have a ton of clothes in your closet and dresser, and you’re still disgusted once or twice a week when getting dressed and you mentally utter the phrase, “I hate all of my clothes.” What I’m going to talk about today is purchasing ONE new item – an inexpensive item – as a way of waking up your wardrobe. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to feel like you’ve reinvented some of your old pieces. I’m sure that you already own the basics – black pants, khaki pants, black skirt, jeans, black cardigan – now lets see how one new and interesting item can bring new life to these old standards.

I apologize for my photography – I’m certainly no Christine Melissa. I’d put the outfits on and take my picture, but the camera adds 10 pounds, and the last thing I need is ANOTHER ten pounds.

So, I’ve purchased the following shirt from Ann Taylor Loft on clearance for $24. Its a lightweight silk shirt; its washable; its an exciting print, but is also neutral.

First, I’ve dressed this outfit up for a day at the office. I’ve paired it with a plain black pencil skirt, a black cardigan which I have belted, wedge heels, a sleek purse, and a long gold necklace. These were all items that I’ve had in my wardrobe for awhile, that just needed a shot of new shirt brightness. (skirt, cardigan,necklace – Loft; belt – Target; purse – Bcbg; shoes – INC Macys)

Wow, my photography is just terrible. That’s something to work on!
Anyhow, for the next look I’ve taken the same shirt and paired it with a simple tan skirt, wedge espadrilles, and some posh accessories (two of them courtesy of JPS) This is my “sightseeing in Rome” look. (wristlet, watch – Coach; earrings – courtesty of JPS; skirt – God knows. I bought it at Marshalls like 5 years ago; shoes – Guess)

The final look is one that my idols Stacy and Clinton would refer to as an “on the go” outfit. I’ve paired the now infamous shirt with skinny jeans, some wedge heels, the same sleek purse from the work look, above, and some pretty gold tone accessories. Notice my favorite Anthropologie earrings are making an appearance in this outfit. Best $30 I ever spent! (Earrings – Anthropologie; bracelet – Loft; purse – Bcbg; jeans – DKNY; glasses – Daisy Fuentes for Kohls; shoes – Bandolino)
Now, the question on everyones mind: How does Mima feel about this situation? Well, I’m happy to report that Mima loves the shirt, and even settled down for a nap on it (Mima – Islip Animal Shelter; $3500)

4 thoughts on “When the money tree has lost its leaves for the winter…

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