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Sale Alert: Old Navy

I wouldn't call myself a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination but I am a deal hunter. Right now Old Navy is having 30% off all online purchases - even on sale items! Plus, if you shop in store there are even more great deals. It seriously felt like the entire store was on sale. 

So lets talk about my current haul...

I just got that pink knit tank above (in white) for $6! I found it in store and really really liked it but couldn't find my size, it runs a bit big, so you can imagine the happy dance I did when I found it on sale online!

 Last year I bought a tank just like the one in black and white above and I wear it all the time. So much so that I've been keeping my eye out for look a likes this year and the black and white tank is the perfect duplicate. 

The plum colored shift dress is a great transition piece into fall and yes, I got that too. It looks great with sandals for work and then add tights, a denim jacket, and some booties and you are fall ready. I tried this on in store also and ended up getting a size bigger than I normally would. I knew there was a possibility it could shrink and didn't want to take any chances.

Oh, those boyfriend pieces, another favorite. I may or may not be wearing those exact jeans right now. I love to dress them down with a t-shirt (the white bf tee is a fav) or dress them up with a cute tank and heels. Very versatile, you wont regret owning them. 

I also snagged a few workout items in store and online. The last thing I need is another pair of yoga pants, but if you're in the market the Old Navy ones are my all time favorites. They hold up well after multiple washing's, don't fall down mid workout, and get softer the more you wear them. 

Switching gears, am I the only one struggling with the fact that its only Tuesday? Yesterday was so long and I seriously thought it should be at least Wednesday by now. No can do. I'm headed out for a girls trip on Thursday night and it seriously can't come quick enough!!!! Happy Almost Wednesday friends.

August Ipsy

Its arrived!!! August IPSY glam bag is finally here!

Y'all, this was hands down my most favorite glam bag to date (June & July). All the products were things I would most definitely use and was excited to try. 

For those of you new to IPSY - its a $10 monthly subscription that provides you with deluxe samples and full sized beauty products. 

Every time I see that pink foil pouch in my mailbox I get so giddy, its like a mini Christmas once a month. So lets get to it, What did I get in my glam bag this month?

IPSY definitely sent some of the higher end products this month. Most of these items retail for $20 (+)

The IT Cosmetics Waterproof Gel Liner is rather fantastic. I wear eyeliner most days but by the end of the day I end up with the dreaded crease liner. Experienced that yet? Its where your liner somehow magically travels up your lid and into your crease. Even better, other days it seems like my liner has melted down under my eye. Not with this liner though, this stuff stays put! After applying it to my lash line I rubbed a finger over the liner and not a smudge one. Heck, it didn't even come off on my finger. 5 Stars IPSY, 5 stars!

Next up, Winky Lux powder....maybe its the fact that its name is "winky" but I thought this was eye shadow. As a matter of fact I am currently sporting it on my lids. Turns out its not eye shadow but face powder... who knew!?!?! I will say, its a rather fantastic brow and lash line eye shadow though. 

Miracle face wash! This Rose Facial Cleansing Gel is fantastic and smells great too. Lately I have been using Cetaphil to wash my face but have noticed it takes off little to none of my makeup leaving me with unpleasant breakouts. I washed my face with this Rose Facial Gel last night and my makeup was gone, enter squeaky clean face! After I wash my face each night I use a toner with a cotton pad, previously I was having to use two because so much make up was left. Last night I used one cotton pad and had verrrrry little residue left over. Gold stars here. At $85 a pop this would have to be a major splurge though. Worth it? Yes!

I have honestly loved everything thus far, but this nail polish wins all the awards. Typically, I throw nail polish into a bin and forget about it but last night I had a wild hair and tried a few swipes on my thumb nail. I put one coat on my nail while getting ready for bed and in true Sarah fashion totally forgot I had done that 2 seconds later. Imagine applying dry shampoo, cleaning up the bathroom, and applying face lotion only to remember you had just put on nail polish a minutes earlier. Oops. To my surprise though, this polish dries at lighting speed. No nicks, smudges, or imprints, within a few seconds of application. I even went to bed about an hour later and woke up with not a sheet print one... now that's a miracle. My nail lady is going to be sad to not see me anytime soon, because at $15 a bottle this is well worth the $$ saved the salon. 

This Daily Moisture Mist could not have come at a better time! Last week I had my hair done and came out with a great cut/color and a revived vigor to take better care of my ends. I have been using the CHI heat spray and its just not doing the job. This morning I added the moisture mist to my dry hair - thinking it would be a normal heat protector - not so much. This is much more of a leave in conditioning treatment than a heat spray. It does do a great job refreshing dry hair - just spritz your ends and blow out with your hairdryer. Time will tell if this is a new addition to my hair care products but I do like what I've seen so far!

Time for our final round up... I spent $10 on my glam bag but how much did I save?

IT Cosmetics Waterproof Gel Liner - $22 for full size - lets call the sample half sized @ $10
Winky Lux Powder - $20 for full sized - small sample so we'll say $5
The Organic Pharmacy Rose Gel Cleanser - $85 for 100 ml - sample was 30ml so $25
Marula Pure Beauty Oil Daily Moisture Mist $32 for 200 ml - sample was 30 ml so $5

Sample sized pricing comes out to $60 bucks for the loot. Heck the $10 glam bag was cheaper than the retail price of the nail polish and that was full sized! I'd say I got my $$$ worth and even got to try out some great products that I will definitely be buying in the future. Thanks IPSY

Guide to Good Finds

The other night I had a friend ask me about a specific piece of furniture in my house and where I got it. Oddly enough, I didn't have an answer for her because I couldn't remember at what estate sale I bought it. This happens more times than not, and after a look through my house I realized I have 5 pieces of furniture that didn't come from an estate sale or a good antique haul. Crazy, huh?

Here's the big question though, how did I find all this quality furniture/home goods digging through others peoples junk?

I've found my most quality items at Estate Sales around town. I will typically happen on a sale and if I like the quality of the items I will make sure and get added to their email list. There are times I have gone to a sale and left thinking "this stuff is so over priced" or "there was nothing but junk". It happens, but for every amazing sale you will probably hit 3-5 duds. 

Lets talk tips. 

1. How to find great sales

Like I said above, getting added to email lists (assuming you check your email) is the easiest way to stay on top of your favorite sales. The newspaper is also another great way to find local sales. In some areas there are websites dedicated solely to publishing local sales.  

2.  Discounts at Estate Sales 

If you love a piece and cant part with it BUY IT RIGHT THEN otherwise I always wait until Saturday, which around here is 50% off day at most sales. Since I'm not in search of anything specific, I have found myself waiting until Saturday to show up to a sale. That being said, if I was looking for something specific I would go on the first day a sale opens (typically Thursday), this helps you get an eye for the quality and price of the items and decide if full price is in your budget. If not, you can check back the next day (typically 25% off) to see if its still there. 

Also, dont be afraid to barter, a lot of the time companies are wanting to get the items gone on the last day. Your offer could very well be accepted - plus the worst they could say is no.

3. Quality, especially in furniture

One of my most favorite things to look for at sales is furniture. I got this dresser along with a night stand and full bed frame for $125 on the last day of a sale. I knew I wanted to refinish it so any blemishes to the finish didn't bother me. When I pick furniture I always make sure to get pieces that are solid wood and in decent shape, solid wood being key. 

Outside of furniture, my next favorite thing to grab at sales are quilts. You can get some amazing vintage quilts that are hand sewn at sales. I have, personally, never spent more than $30 on a quilt. These are something I always buy on 50% off days and will sometimes barter down even further. This quilt was made purely out of flour sacks - heart eyes. Flour sack cloth is my most most most favorite fabric ever. During the depression flour mills realized women were making clothes for themselves and their children out of the sacks they shipped flour in. Soon the mills started incorporating flowers and prints on the sacks and the idea of using feed/flour sacks as fabric boomed. You can find some timeless prints in feed sack fabric and it is my most favorite fabric in quilts. 

4. What else should I look for?

Accessories are also easy and fun to grab at Estate Sales. I have walked away with anything from an old fan to picture frames to bookends to dog bowls. Seriously. That Mackenzie Childs dog bowl set (below) was $9 and retails for $30 a bowl!

So what about those who don't want to drive all around town seeking out sales? Where should they go to find great things?

In Tulsa we have quite a few great indoor markets you can scour - some a little higher end than others. 

River City Trading Post is probably the most popular (and affordable) indoor market in Tulsa 
The Market is a great place for home decor items but don't expect tons of vintage 
My Papas Barn in Broken Arrow is always a great time and a fun place to peruse

My favorite Estate Sale Companies in Tulsa:
B&Js is so great and most often local... plus they post a ton of pictures pre sale!
Nelson Aaron Estate Sales is guaranteed to be at a fabulous Tulsa home. These are always high quality sales but at times come with a high price tag
Tulsa World Estate Sales - this is seriously the easiest way to find what sales are near you. I check this every weekend to see whats happening.

Invaluable also just posted their guide to great finds in various cities

What are your favorite ways to get great deals? Any tips?

CASA : Court Appointed Special Advocates

For as long as I can remember, when I envision kids in my life, I always envisioned adopting. Always. I can't say there was a situation or experience that opened my eyes to adoption, instead I think its a desire God had placed on my heart since the day he formed me. Kids are my forte, seriously though, its one of the only things in life I am positive that I excel at.

Over the last few years I have really felt God pointing me in the direction of foster care. I have helped provide respite care (baby sitter for foster families) and even teamed up with an agency to start the foster care application process.

Side note: in Oklahoma to be a foster parent you have to be connected with an adoption agency. Department of Human Services (DHS) no longer places children in foster homes, instead they reach out to a network of adoption agencies who then place the child within their network of families. This does not mean you have to be willing to adopt the child, though you can foster to adopt.

Every time I sat through the initial training (twice) or talked with various adoption agency caseworkers I would leave feeling like it just wasn't my time. Never did I feel discouraged or as though God lead me astray but instead like God had his hand on my shoulder telling me to "wait".

I remember so clearly over this past Christmas break when the light bulb went off in my head, it wasn't some profound moving moment but just a moment of absolute clarity. Right then I knew I needed to commit to advocate for children in the foster care system. I didn't know anyone that was a CASA and honestly don't remember how I even initially heard of the organization but I did know I needed to apply asap.

That was in December, here we are in August and I am approaching my first permanency hearing on my very first CASA case. I get asked all the time about my experience with CASA and wanted to take some time and share here. Be aware, its not all sunshine and rainbows, there are great things and there are really tough things. There are times I leave a meeting and just cry and cry BUT ultimately I am fighting for a little one who can't fight for themselves and that makes the hard stuff worth it.

What is CASA?

CASA stands for court appointed special advocate and just like the name says you are court appointed by a judge to speak on behalf of the child(ren) in the case.

What exactly does a CASA do and what are the time commitments?

As a CASA I am responsible for investigating the circumstances around the case, make recommendations to the court as to the best interest of the child(ren) both currently and in the long run, monitor case progress and implementation, and compose a court report to the judge outlining observations, concerns, and ultimately reunification/termination recommendations.

When I signed on to be a CASA I committed to stay with the organization for at least a year, that's the amount of time (give or take) each case runs for. As for my weekly/monthly time commitment, I typically work my case anywhere from 10-15 hours a month. This looks different for each worker and each case. Most of my time is spend observing visitation, conversations with care providers (think: DHS, Foster Parents, support organizations), and various meetings needed to assess the progress of the case.

For example: I will call/text the case worker at the beginning of the week to get any updates and double check that scheduled visitation is still taking place. This week I will head over to a CASA in-service training for an hour over lunch to refine my court report writing skills. At the end of the week I will take an hour and go observe visitation between my CASA baby and the natural parent(s). Usually after visitation I take some time to write through any observations or concerns and go over them with my CASA case manager or the DHS caseworker. Every week looks different, some times I am going to doctors appointments and others I am just sending an email to touch base. There are also weeks when I am traveling for work or have a lot going on that I don't touch base with anyone on my case... and that's OKAY. As it is with anything, the hours spent working a case differs from case to case and worker to worker.

How do you handle all that responsibility?

For the first month or two I had to really work at understanding and realizing that the outcome of this case is not all on my shoulders. I cannot count how many times I dwelled on not messing this all up and worrying about making a wrong decision. There was a turning point though, where I finally was able to accept that it isn't all on my shoulders and there are a lot of other people at work on this too. Ultimately, all I can do is advocate for the best interests of this child and let the judge make the final decision.

Do you get to continue a relationship with the kid(s) after the case is over?

This is one of the trickier questions to answer because it really "depends". As a CASA you never  want to fill a role so big that the natural parents or adoptive parents can't move forward once the case is over. There is also a chance that you remaining involved reminds the natural parents of their "past" and hinders them from emotionally moving on. I have heard stories where the CASA has been apart of the families lives indefinitely and would call themselves close friends. All that to say, in the end its up to the parents (natural or adoptive) to make the decision on if you continue contact with the family after the case has been resolved.

I went into my case knowing there was a good chance that once it was all said and done I would never see this baby again. Knowing that my purpose was to advocate for him now and set him up for success in the future. With that mindset, I know I will be okay if I do continue to stay in contact or not.

Opinions, how do you keep them to your self?

All that know me, know I come with a lot of opinions. When working in this type of environment I had to be conscious of who I express those to and who I didn't. A CASA is never ever alone in this process. As a CASA you are assigned a case manager, they will become your life line, especially when you have all sorts of opinions on your case.  Every time I come across something that makes me think, ruffles my feathers, hurts my heart, or even just plain frustrates me, the first person I call is my case manager. They see this day in and day out. They get it - simple as that. There have been times I wasn't sure if I was being too harsh or maybe needed to see the situation from a different angle and my case manager helped me walk through all of it. There are also others working on your same case that you can easily bounce thoughts and ideas off of.

The one place all opinions have to cease is in your court report to the judge. Judges cannot make decisions based on opinion but instead on facts. Facts are your friend and I take better notes now, since becoming a CASA, than I ever had before. When I feel like my heart is getting the best of me and maybe I'm not being as partial as I should, I remind myself of the facts of my case. The facts will lead to conclusions and those conclusions are much better than any opinion.

Will you chose to do this again after your current case is over?

Absolutely, 100 times over. This case has been really tough on me emotionally - as I'm sure most every case is - but even with the amount of tears I have shed I would still do it all over again.

I am responsible for some big decisions that will ultimately effect one sweet babies life forever. Granted, I am not the only voice to be heard and I don't have the final say, but what I do write in my court report will help lead a judge to their final answer. That's weighty for me. That's major responsibility. In the end, I know that I was able to speak up for a little one who can't speak for them self and *hopefully* put him/her on a path to great great great things.

So tell me, did I answer all your burning questions? Any other ones I missed?

note: none of the above pictures are child(ren) from my case. As a CASA we are not allowed to disclose the identity or facts around our case.