Black Tie on a Budget

Well friends, working at a non-profit often leads to creative money-saving strategies (from both the organization, and the employees).

Our cancer education center recently hosted a Gala on Saturday night. Prior to attending, I was unsure of how formal the occasion would be, and how much it would cost.

I searched Ebay and several stores for the perfect long dress (trying to be on the safe side of formal). Either nothing fit too well or cost well over $100.00.

I had heard about the Tevolio  bridal line at Target a while ago, and thought that perhaps I could find a suitable long dress in their bridesmaid collection. For $70.00 (free shipping!) I was able to snag a beautiful purple dress, nicely lined, with pockets!

Target Tevolio bridesmaid dress in Shiny Plum
photo (9)
Sephora Birthday Gift

For makeup, I used the Benefit free birthday gift I received in September. The mascara has a blunted tip, similar to the Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara that everyone talked about for so long.  The highlighter added a nice touch to the rest of my makeup.

I also used the clutch mentioned in my prior blog-post (the $40.00 clutch has proved to be a solid investment).

My earrings were gold with berry accents, purchased on clearance at Target for less than $3.00 (similar style found here) . Normally costume jewelry can be difficult (so cheap, but it hurts your ears!) This article suggests a little antibacterial gel (like Neosporin) and it makes such a difference! Cheap jewelry is back!

Perhaps you’ll find the dress on Ebay, but for now I’ll keep it in case I have any last-minute formal emergencies!


Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Check out this yummy Pumpkin Pie smoothie recipe I got from Vegetarian Times! Eat your heart out Jamba! (I omitted the agave- the banana makes it sweet enough!). If you omit graham crackers, it’s Gluten-Free and Vegan 🙂

pumpkin pie smoothie

Mason Jar Overnight Oats with Raw Chia Seed Strawberry Jam

Oh Mason jars…I’ve seen so many of them pop up ever since I started my Pinterest page. Soon-to-be newlyweds finding ever-so resourceful ways of turning bland food items into hipster ambrosia. Health-conscious divas devising ever-clever mason jar salads to take to work.

Food is where my inner-hipster comes out, with my vegan- friendly items and penchant for looking at gluten-less options for friends.  I am just a plain old lacto/ovo vegetarian, yet the follow food recipes have become a regular on my breakfast table.

I recently did a Whole Foods 5% Giving Day at work, complete with preparation for a cooking demonstration. I was glad I did some ahead of time because I was able to sample this to WFM shoppers- and they loved it!

photo (8)
Jam on top of the oats
image (11)
Shaken, not stirred

Vanilla Bean Overnight Oats

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar. Cover with lid and shake until combined. Store in refrigerator overnight. Eat cold or warm!

Adapted from: Native Foods Vegan Café in Chicago, posted Cherries Jubilee Overnight Oats on bulletin board


Raw Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

 Ingredients (only 3 of them!)

  •  15 fresh strawberries (about 1 lb).
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or juice from a regular lemon or lime)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons white or regular chia seeds



Dry and hull strawberries. Cut berries in half and put into a small food processor. Add lemon juice, and whirl until pureed, about 30-60 seconds. Add chia and pulse a couple of seconds until combined. Taste and add additional sweetener if you like.

Pour into a lidded jar or container and refrigerate overnight to allow chia to fully hydrate.  Jam will thicken up as the chia seeds coagulate. Keep jam in the refrigerator.

Adapted from: