Friday, May 31, 2013

Vintage Chifferobe DIY Part I

Vintage Chifferobe DIY Project

...making some progress, at least

diy paint chifferobe

It's really hot here today. And I want to be productive, especially while the baby's napping, but I don't know if I have it in me to do any more work. Even if I started painting, it's so humid I don't think the paint will ever dry!

So today I am posting pics of my current project, in its current state. I picked up this chifferobe a couple months ago at an estate sale. 

It was the last day of the sale; a bunch of siblings were selling the last of the items from their parents' house. I really just stumbled across this sale, because I happened to see a sign on my way to church (rushing there after an early-morning free craigslist pickup). After church, I told my husband I would just quickly run by this tag sale, and since I offered to bring the baby with me (and we had driven separately anyway), he didn't roll his eyes TOO much, and I was on my way.

As soon as I pulled up, I noticed this beauty. I loved the shape of it. I wasn't sure what it was from the curb, it almost looked like an old ice box or something. But I didn't really care. The sign said "Vintage 70's Chifferobe -  $40." Well, I loved it. I didn't love the color (which I do think is cool, it's just not in my comfort zone). And thanks to the $10 bill my husband had given me for something (that I ended up not using), I had a solid $27 in cash in my possession (I rarely carry cash... it's sorta bad... I rely on my debit cards way too much). So I offered my $27, and they happily accepted... and helped me load it into the car and tie the trunk down (because it didn't fit with the craigslist chair also inside-LOL-apparently my husband's big eye roll was reserved for when I pulled into our driveway after this). The back story on the piece (I love the back stories): they'd had it in their house growing up, and that they used to hide inside the little closet part when they played hide-and-seek. And would you believe, after becoming accustomed to it in our garage for the past couple months, my kids have been doing the exact same thing. I believe it was meant to be :)

It sat in the garage for a while, but I think I'm finally ready to do something with it. I decided that, when I'm done painting it (and finding new hardware-maybe at the Country Living Fair next week?), it will live in our family room. I'm hoping it can be a pretty exterior to hide all the papers and toys and supplies that have a tendancy to make their way up from the playroom on a regular basis... and instead of fighting it all (I really wanted to keep the family room toy-free since we have a designated play room now), I will embrace it (but at the same time hide it).

There you have it, the Vintage Chifferobe, Part I. BTW if anyone know anything about this kind of furniture--how old it might be, what it was used for? Please let me know!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Saving Money By Becoming a Zoo or Museum Member

Does Becoming a Member Make Sense (or save cents)?

Or should I call this "The Peacock Post"?

I think I just bought a family membership to the zoo because I love peacocks. I've always loved them. How can you not? I mean, look at those colors! It doesn't get much more beautiful than that. I brought my good camera to the zoo this time, and 90% of the photos I came back with were of the peacocks. I mean, I like my kids and all, but today, the peacocks beat them out for lens time. 

They just wander around the grounds at The Beardsley Zoo, posing perfectly for photographs (and that's something my kids won't do without some pleading).

But that's not what this post is about. It's about whether or not zoo or museum (or other entity) membership options are worth it for your family. It wasn't something I'd considered until I went to the zoo with a friend who has 4 kids and she was renewed their family membership. So today, before I brought the kids to the zoo (always looking for good activities since school is done!), I thought I'd really think about becoming members. 

For The Beardsley Zoo in CT (Connecticut's only zoo), a family membership is $100. Regular price admission for adults is $12 and kids over 2 is $10. So at the regular price, for my family to go, it's $44; for just me to go with the kids, it's $32. That means at regular prices, we would need to go to the zoo about 3 times to make it worth it. But, being the deal-seeker that I am, I found a Beardsley Zoo coupon for a free kids ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket (good thru 2013). With that new information (e.g. coupon), one trip in 2013 would cost $34 for my family or $22 for just the kids and me. That means I have to go about 4 times (with just the kids) to make it worth it (chances are we'd go at least once as a whole family).

With the $100 family membership (includes 6 kids and 2 adults in a single family), you also get 2 "Bring a Friend" passes, 2 Carousel Rides, $2 in Zoobucks and membership benefits to over 150 other zoos and aquariums around the country (here's a list of all the members; most entrance fees are free-some are just discounted). It's great to have the option to bring someone else along on two trips, and the free carousel rides (worth a total of $4) are a big hit with the kids (and a nice break from the sun if you're there on hot day like today). Also, this zoo is open all year round (except for a couple holidays), so we can even visit the peacocks (and the tigers and linx and all that, too) in the winter!

For us, a membership made sense. It's close enough that we will definitely visit more than 4 times a year (but I will definitely keep count just to be sure), and since we have the membership, I'm sure it will serve as a destination for many of those last-minute "what should we do today?" moments. Plus, we won't feel like we have to stretch out the visit to get our money's worth; we can even pop over for an hour or two just to take up some time.... Oh, and my kids love it there, too (I think that's the most important piece of the puzzle)!

I'm happy we made this choice, and next I'm going to consider a Maritime Aquarium membership. It's a little more expensive ($150/year), but the "3 times a charm" family rule works here, too. And you can go to the aquarium on a rainy day, in any season. I haven't been able to find any single-day coupons for this aquarium, though. Anyone have a source?

These kinds of memberships would also make great gifts! Can't decide what to get your grandkids or nieces or nephews? If it's in your price range, I'm sure their parents would appreciate a family membership!

Maybe it was the peacocks that got to me today, but I really think it was the savings. So my message here: check out membership options at the facilities around you, because if you swing the initial one-time payment, it's really nice to have some good, fall-back kids activities that you've already paid for. I always find it challenging to balance good, educational kids activities on a budget, but this one really made sense to me... and I do love peacocks.

As an added bonus, your membership fee is tax deductible. Just don't forget to save the receipt!

Thoughtful (yet inexpensive) Teacher Gifts

Quick Teacher Thank You Gifts

...that show you pay attention!

Nursery schools in CT (and I'm sure other places, too) end pretty early... last week was their last day! In that end-of-year scramble that includes celebrations and ceremonies, I was delayed in posting about these quick, inexpensive, but thoughtful tokens for teachers.

So here goes: My girls have 3 main teachers between the two of them, and I happened to know what 2 of them liked to drink, so I did some recon to figure out what the 3rd one liked, and voila: the gifts of OJ, seltzer, and diet coke were imagined! All I did was add some scrapbook paper & ribbon, and they were sufficiently dressed up to become gifts.

I was really happy with this idea, because I felt like I had my bases covered: (a) I know they like it, (b) I know they'll use it, and (c) it seemed like a really reasonable amount to spend, because, let's face it: kids are expensive. 

The girls also have different teachers they interact with on a regular basis (e.g., science teacher, nurse), and I wanted to acknowledge them too, so I got these cute magnetic notepads from Joann's ($1/each) so they would know they weren't forgotten!

With these gifts I felt like I could really show my appreciation for these amazing people whose creativity and patience grace my children day-after-day (in a way that was reasonable for my budget).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

H&M Kids Clothes: Worth the Search

Adorable Play Dresses from H&M for $4.95!

My Girls' Go-To Summer Outfits 

I love H&M. For me, for my kids... I think it's the best place to go to keep your wardrobe updated with new fashions, but at a really affordable price. The quality is okay, but at the prices they offer, you really can't beat it for the style, and then you can afford to get a few cute things each season. Sometimes, because of their layout and the abundance of clothes, you really need to search to find the best things, but it's worth it. I find I'm much more successful "sans the kiddos," especially when shopping for myself.

But onto this post: in the spring/summer, H&M has these adorable girls' dresses for $4.95! Less than $5! Realistically, I couldn't make them for that (although I think I came close with these skirts)! Last year, I spent all this time and money looking for shorts and tank tops for my girls, and when it came down to it, they never wore any of it. All they wanted were dresses. And they loved the H&M ones (in fact sometimes they still try to wear theirs from 2 years ago... I really need to sort through their clothes)!

Another cool thing about H&M kids clothes is the sizing. For instance, B2's dresses are size 2-4 years and B1's are 4-6 years. I love that there is such a range, and yet these $5 dresses look cute at any point in that range! Perfect for anything from chasing bubbles at the Memorial Day parade, to spinning circles on the lawn, to taking a drink from the sprinkler, apparently :)

I really can't get over how much I love these dresses, now a complete mainstay of my girls' summer wardrobes. $20 for 4 outfits! Don't know if I'll be able to resist getting a few more...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Business Cards for a Small Businesses

New Custom Business Cards

Vistaprint is where I get my paper products printed (at reasonable rates!)

I used Vistaprint's services at lot at my old job in Marketing & Communications, so I knew where to go when I needed to print my custom Thrifter in Design business cards, too. And I'm happy to be back doing some graphic design again!

You can get most supplies pretty inexpensively through Vistaprint (I usually
print my kids' birthday invitations and our holiday cards here,too), and they're always running some sort of promotion. If you're on their mailing list, you may get better promotions in your email than on the main site, so that's a benefit... but you'll also have to weed through a lot of emails!

Anyway, happy to have finished these, and can't wait until they come in the mail!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Washi Tape Flag S’mores Sticks

Roast Those Marshmallows in Style

No More Mixing Up Sticks! 

Yay! It’s finally almost summer. So excited for warm days and nights, kiddos running barefoot on the lawn, catching fireflies… and S’MORES! I love these giant marshmallow-roasting sticks they have available now (I got mine for $1 at Christmas Tree Shops). I don’t like throwing them out after just one use, but then I realized we’d never remember whose was whose unless we marked them (although in reality, I have no objection to sending the kids into the woods to look for sticks, like we used to do). But I wandered into my craft room, looking for a marker, my glance landed upon, yup, my new WASHI TAPE collection (these washi projects are starting to grow on me). Perfect!

Easiest fix ever. And so pretty. You could do a lot of different things with this idea. I already have some plans to have kids decorate and keep their own at B1’s birthday party in July!

Now, storage! I got this galvanized urn at Joann’s (with my 40% coupon, of course; about $7 after discount, but you could do better than that, I was in a rush). I painted a rectangle with chalkboard paint, allowing us to change the message depending on the occasion. Filled the urn with sand, and arranged the sticks!

Now with such pretty sticks, the marshmallows needed some prettying up, too! Enter the fancy Italian glass container (a whopping $5.99 from Christmas Tree Shops).

Even if it’s one of those days that’s too hot for a fire, this display makes a cute centerpiece for a summer party (maybe paired with my ruffled tablecloths), and when the time is right, you don’t have to do much work to break out the key ingredients for S’MORES! Just add the graham crackers and chocolate!

 Linking up to: Savvy Southern Style

nap-time creations

Horizontal Recent Post Widget for Blogger


Nice, Aesthetic, Horizontal Thumbnails

Display Your Recent Posts in a Stylish Blogger Widget

Cool tutorial for creating a “Horizontal Recent Post” widget for blogger by Something Swanky
But for some reason, to get it to work, you need to change all the apostrophe’s (‘) to quotes (“). Took me a while of playing around and reading through all the comments to figure that out.
Also, if you want to get rid of the “Powered by blogger” beneath it, remove the following chunk of code (thanks, husband, for helping with that!):

<div class="bp_footer"><small><a id="bp_recent_link" target="_blank" href="" style="padding: 1px 0px 0px 19px;text-decoration:none;"></a></small></div>
<img src="" alt=’recent posts with thumbnails for blogger" style="border:none" /></a>Powered By <a href="" target="_blank" title="blogger widgets">Blogger Widgets</a></small>

Hope it works for you! Really makes my site look nice!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reusing Photo Calendar Pages

Photo Calendar Pages Make Great Prints

Photo Wall Using $7.99 Frames and Old Calendar Pages

This was one of those "why didn't I think of this before?" moments...

I have thousands and thousands of photos on my computer, and I keep asking myself why I don't do anything with them. I want to, but I find it a bit overwhelming.

Recently, I was pondering where to print out photos for the photo wall I got around to setting up (and by "setting up," I mean, talked my husband into hanging). I needed to fill the frames with 8x10" photos; sometimes I do Snapfish, iPhoto, Walmart, CVS... but which to choose this time? But no matter which I choose, considering the time spending uploading, driving to the store or waiting for shipping, it becomes a bit of a headache, and all of those options entail patience on my part. But then I glanced over at the wall in my kitchen, and a lightbulb went off!

I ordered a photo calendar this year, and I chose to display only 1 large-format pic each month. I thought that would be nice because it would let us appreciate some of our photos (that would otherwise still be on my computer) in grand "fashion." And as of today, without any doubt, I will continue to do that each year! Here's why:

I can use those calendar pages in my frames! Now, on the calendar hanging in our kitchen, I can admire a different large format pic month after month. Then, I can transfer the photos I want to one of our 8x10" frames (bought for $7.99 each at Christmas Tree Shops), to keep our wall photo collection updated too! Best of both worlds, as I see it.

Wondering About Other Items in this Room?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Love to Find Quality Gifts on Clearance

Birthday Gift? Maybe Christmas? I'll Figure That Out Later!

Found a Madeline Board Game for $2.97 at Joann Fabrics! 

It's a rainy day here in CT, and finding this deal certainly brightened things up! Know a Madeline fan? Is there a young girl in your life you buy gifts for?
 Great deal on Madeline at the White House Game at Joann Fabrics: $2.97! Amazon sells this game for $12.00 and Walmart for $15.17.

I hate last-minute Christmas and birthday shopping, and yes, I know it's only May, but I'm stowing this one away! I know I'll thank myself later.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Operation Vinyl Tablecloth

The "I Think I May Have Crossed a Line" DIY Pleated Tablecloth Tutorial

$9... And an Hour or So of Work... That's Worth It, Right?

Oh dear. This project is a little weird. And I'm sort of embarrassed. I'm really wondering if I should even continue this post, because I doubt anyone else on earth would actually consider doing something like this. Maybe it's a sickness, I don't know. But I had to do something...

You know how it is when you plan something in your head? And you're excited about it? And it was the basis for everything else you were planning? And then all of a sudden something happens, and you're forced to change gears, but changing gears is, like, a huge deal? Well, that's what happened to me with this project... and it all started, innocently, at Christmas Tree Shops the other day.

Okay, you probably need a little back story here. See, we're hosting a somewhat last-minute cocktail party at our house. And to be quite honest, I'm not entirely prepared to be hosting a party at my house yet. Okay, we've been in this house for 10 months now, so things should really be coming together... but filling a house with furniture and decorating is overwhelming, and as I've talked about before, I'm trying to find a balance between getting the house furnished and decorated, being mindful of a budget, and taking the time to find pieces I genuinely like. And maybe I'm too much of a perfectionist... my husband says I am... but I'm just not "there" yet.... But at this point, that's irrelevant, because now we've got 30 people coming over for cocktails and appetizers next week.

So I'm forced to get in the zone. I've resolved to complete a few projects I've been lagging on in the house, and I go out to shop for some smaller "touches." And to my surprise, I really get into the zone. I'm in Christmas Tree Shops, and it all starts coming together. Here's where the "zone" takes me: (1) We'll do this party outside (please no rain), (2) I'm going with a turquoise color
scheme with green accents (no big surprise here), (3) I know I have a few round and rectangular tables (to borrow) at my disposal. Perfect. I don't want the plain white tablecloths from the caterer, so I peruse the cute vinyl tablecloth displays in the store. I decide all the tablecloths will match. And, being in the zone, I find cute checkered turquoise tablecloths (at $2.99/each), round and oblong. I buy a bunch of them (and a couple other adorable accent pieces). IN. THE. ZONE. 
Fast forward two more days. I get the tables to the house. I start playing around with tablescape ideas, because I don't want to wait until the last minute (now are you starting to see a glimpse into why I may have a problem?), and I realize: OH NO. These round tablecloths are too small! Like, way too small! I hurry to tell my husband, knowing he'll share my shock and panic... yet, he seems unconcerned. "Just get another size," he tells me. No, no, that's not going to work. Because (A) they only offer 60" round tablecloths in this $2.99 display, and (B) the tablecloths are the basis of my entire plan. "I can't just GET different sizes, husband! This is a disaster!" He shrugs.
And so Operation Vinyl Tablecloth begins to come together. I decide I must sew a pleated skirt onto this ill-fitting tablecloth. And I'm not going to tell anyone, because sewing a cheap, almost-disposable $2.99 tablecloth is a really weird thing to do. But I'm telling you now, because it's my hope this will somehow justify my madness. Or maybe blogging is really a sort of therapy here... or maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better.

But here we go. Here are the steps I took to complete this strange, strange task. Here is the Operation Vinyl Tablecloth Tutorial, for anyone who may be just as mad as me:
  • Step 1: Create a long strip to be used for the pleated section. I cut up an oblong tablecloth, using 12.5" strips. I was able to get 4 long strips out of a 58x70" oblong tablecloth this way. Cut the strips, then sew them together at the short ends so that you now have one long strip. In my madness, I extended my strip a little longer so that my pleats would be a specific distance apart (also because I was in trial-and-error stage). My long strip ended up being about 311" long and 12.5" wide (probably over 8.5 yards). You could easily just use one oblong tablecloth (about 288"), just make your pleats farther apart.
  • Step 2: Make/pin the pleats from the long strip onto the round tablecloth. Be sure you keep the right sides together. My pleats were about 5" apart each, and the pleats themselves were about 1". Continue all the way around the tablecloth.
  • Step 3: Sew the pieces together! Sew on the wrong side. It's up to you whether you sew up the open seam or not; I did on the first one but left it open on the second. You can see the open one in the top pic. I didn't hem the sides at all-I mean, com'on, it's just a vinyl tablecloth after all! Although if I had a serger, it would be really easy... hint, hint, husband :)
  • Step 4: Put the tablecloth on the table, and tug at each fold around the tablecloth so that each pleat is nice and straight. You're never going to get ALL the wrinkles out, it is a vinyl tablecloth after all! But one trick I've used to get wrinkles out of a vinyl tablecloth is to put the tablecloth in the dryer, on gentle, with a wet towel for just 2 minutes--watch the time! Then I put it on the table, nice and warm, and it sort of molds to the shape of the table. It doesn't de-wrinkle as well with the pleats on it, but it still helped a little.
And Operation Vinyl Tablecloth is done! It's actually a really quick and easy project (otherwise I probably wouldn't be blogging about it). You could do this with any ill-fitting tablecloth, it doesn't have to be a vinyl one. Just make sure the diameter of your original "circle" is the same as your table before you add the pleated section, otherwise the pleats won't lay right. Also, I gave you my measurements to add on to the 60" tablecloth, but if you're having trouble calculating how much fabric you need or how far away to place the pleats, just let me know and I can help you out with that.

Even if this was a little "out-there," it was still a lot less $ for about the same amount of work as my laminated cotton tablecloth.

But back to reality. Wondering how the tablecloth was received? The true test: husband. When he came home from work yesterday, I asked, "Did you see the tablecloths on the round tables out there?" He replied, "Yeah! They did fit after all. See, I told you not to worry about it." Aaah. My secret's still safe.

In reality, I eventually told my husband about the project, but made him swear not to tell anyone :) Another secret, I won't actually be using my kitchen chairs in the top pic for the party. They just look cuter. In actuality, we'll be using my Craigslist Plastic Party Chairs, so I felt it only decent to include a pic with them too.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rainy Day Outfit... to Save for a Rainy Day

Target Baby Raincoat on Clearance for $5.68!

With $6 Consignment Sale Boots? Can't Beat That!

Why is it that I always find the best deals on things I'm NOT looking for? Today we needed baby wipes, diapers, and plastic wrap. Easy enough... so off to Target B3 and I go. And I'm on my way to the diaper aisle when I'm ever-so-subtly called to the CLEARANCE rack in the kids section. I mean, it never hurts to check it out! And lo and behold, an adorably cute little boy's raincoat for $5.68.

Sure, it's a little too big now, but it'll be just perfect for the rainy days of fall (keeping fingers crossed that it's just rain, not another hurricane)! Pair that cute jacket with the adorable little rainboots my sister picked up for him for $6 at a kids consignment sale, and he'll be a stylin' little brother in a few months. 

Don't know if anyone else has this issue, but now that I have a boy, I find it really hard to find cute boys clothes (it's SO easy for girls). So when I see something I like for him, I have to snatch it up, especially at these prices! So far Target and H&M are my favorite places to find little boy clothes. I like Old Navy, too, but they can be a little pricey sometimes.

Poor kiddo, he's such a good sport. He's thinking, "What the heck?! I can barely keep my balance as it is, and now you put all this stuff on me?!" Well, the boots didn't last long today, but they'll be ready for us--we're saving them for a rainy day... in a few months :)

Just remembered I also got his big sister's red polkadot raincoat at Target a couple years ago, too. Definitely didn't get a deal like this, but they have some really cute, affordable rain gear there sometimes!

Monday, May 13, 2013

I'll Log Out for Thibaut Ikat Wallpaper

Navy Ikat Wallpaper by Thibaut

Favorite Wall of My Living Room

Last week Trixie asked me to do a post about my living room wallpaper, so I dug through some old photos (well, scrolled through iPhoto albums) and emails to get all the info. And then I started the post and realized this experience was so much more than just picking wallpaper... and I got a little deep. So if you're just looking for the wallpaper info, here's the manufacturer's description with a link to the website: Thaibaut Jubilee Collection: Thai Ikat – Navy on Off White. But if you're still in the beginning stages of deciding on wall decor, you may find it helpful to read on.
I love this wallpaper so much. I loved it from the second it was up on the wall; it's one of the only decorating choices I haven't second-guessed (I second-guess things a lot. It drives my husband nuts). And here's how it all came together:

I decided to wallpaper only this wall of our living room for two reasons. First, I wanted a statement wall; this is the first room you see when you walk into our house. I was going for a "fancy-beachy" feel in the room, and I love the new ikat trend. I was debating between a more geometric lattice pattern and this one, but I'm certain this was the better choice. I also knew that putting this on every wall would be overkill. It's not a very big room (I'd define it as oblong - sort of long and narrow), and I didn't want to feel swallowed by the design. Second, one of the walls in this room has the original beadboard on it, and I didn't want to cover that up!


I actually think this may be the most important part of the story. I had been furiously looking at wallpaper online. Tons and tons. I pinned some patterns and bookmarked some pages, but I really had no idea what I was doing. I had no frame of reference when it came to price or quality (although I did like the many of brands I'd seen advertised in my House Beautiful magazines... until I saw the prices-yikes. Although, to be fair, Thibaut shows up in that beautiful mag a lot)!

Then one day I stopped into a local Benjamin Moore paint store. I was actually going in to look at paint colors, when I noticed they had tons of wallpaper books. So I started leafing through them, and they were really cool! Since I didn't have this time built into my plan for the day (and I had the baby with me), I went to the owner to ask about the wallpaper-choosing process. He was very knowledgeable, albiet a little gruff (well, "matter-of-fact" might be a nicer way to put it), but come to find out, you can borrow the books! Now I was hooked. But here's where it got even cooler: unprompted (and unexpectedly), he looked at some of the books I had pulled out and offered a quick "two cents" on the companies. And basically, Thibaut was the company he highly recommended; he said their quality was top-notch, prices were reasonable, and shipping time and customer service were also great. It wasn't that he pushed Thibaut on me at all, he just kind of delivered it in a, "Well, you do what you want, but here's what I know," kind of fashion. Then he says me, "Prices are in the back of the book. We discount 20%." WHAT?!?! Discount?! Music to my ears.

Ok, so I knew I was onto something here, but I needed my undivided attention to really peruse these beautiful books. Luckily, I was able to carve out an hour of alone-time the next day for my special outing. It was actually really fun (be it slightly overwhelming) to look through the books. At first I was bookmarking (literally bookmarking this time) every pattern I liked. I was a bit overeager, even asking the salesman how many books I was allowed to bring home (I think he thought I was slightly nutty). Bottom line: there's not really a limit, but be reasonable. But I became more discriminating as time went on. And when I finished up, I had narrowed it down to four books (but a couple patterns in each). I think two of the books happened to be Thibaut (I definitely listened to the owner's recommendation, but I didn't want to limit my design options, either. Shumacher had some really great designs, too).

I brought the books home, and being in our own environment, picked my top few patterns. I leaned them up against the wall for a day or two, just so I had a sense of what I'd be looking at every time I walked by the room. I mean, this was a HUGE decision! And after doing that, it became clear that the Thibaut navy ikat pattern was my favorite (the print is available in several other awesome colors, too). I ordered it as soon as I brought the books back to the store. All I had to do was give them the measurements of the wall, and they calculated how much wallpaper we would need. Price? Well, we needed 3 rolls. Originally priced at $69.99/roll, with the 20% discount, we ended up paying 155.80, pre-tax.The wallpaper was delivered to the store within 2 days. I wasn't about to attempt hanging this myself (or talking my husband into hanging it)--this was too delicate a task. So we hired a painter/wallpaper-er, and he had it done in a matter of hours. I think his labor cost us about $200. And he was really good, so if you're willing to DIY it, you could save even more. 

This whole experience taught me a major lesson, because here's the problem: I admit, I am completely immersed in technology. The internet is a huge part of my life, whether I like it or not. It's my first stop for almost everything these days: shopping, ideas, information. But while it is a great convenience, it will never take the place of the experiences you have face-to-face, especially with something like this. I would not have known that Thibaut was a great company, I wouldn't have been able to physically borrow the wallpaper books to "live with" for a few days, I wouldn't be known how much to order, and I definitely wouldn't have known that I could get a better price at a local paint store than I could online. And I honestly think that my comprehensive experience at the paint store may have led to this unusual "no second-guessing" reaction. And I kinda like how that feels.

Other items in the room you're wondering about? Here's what I can remember:
  • Couch and wingback chairs: Lillian August outlet (yup, there's an outlet!)
  • Curtains: Target-Threshold Collection (available in other colors, too) - $19.99/panel (on sale when I got them; regularly $24.99/panel)
  • Seagrass Rug with "harbor blue" border: Pottery Barn... PB's a place I need to have a promo code to shop, and if you're patient, one always comes along
  • End Table next to couch: Homegoods - $59.99
  • Striped Throw: Target-RE Room Essentials Collection (sorry, can't find actual link)

    Sunday, May 12, 2013

    Fresh Flowers on a Budget

    Fresh Flowers Don't Always Have to Be an Indulgence

    Trader Joe's to the Rescue!

    Ever hear those stories about divas who demand hotel rooms full of fresh flowers to greet them when they travel? Glorious! But realistically, that's just a teensy bit over the edge. On the other hand, I love fresh flowers! Especially in the late winter, when it seems like spring will never find its way to New England. I always saw fresh flowers as a bit of an indulgence, and I would really only get them when we were hosting a party, and then, I would usually go to the florist. But anyone who does that knows it can quickly add up, and because of that, keeping professional-quality fresh flowers in the house on a regular basis isn't realistic for my budget.

    Enter Trader Joe's. A few months ago, I went on my weekly TJ's run, and I spotted bunches of fresh daffodils for $1.50! Perfection! I immediately scooped up two of them. Fresh flowers at last! And to my delight, they continued to have them week after week. How could I resist? Yes, $3 is still $3, but to me, to have those fresh flowers greeting me when I come in, it was worth those $3. And sometimes I'll switch it up, too. A bunch of tulips for $5, hydrangeas for $6... there are tons of options! Now I'm not saying I do this each and every week, but I love that it's an affordable option that's there when I want it.

    I don't have a green thumb, hense, even in the summer, there is no garden in my yard blooming with fresh flowers for the picking. I am fortunate that the previous owners of my house planted beautiful hydrangea bushes, so I can snip those on occasion, but in a pinch, I love that TJ's has all of these beautiful options. Throw them in a cute vase or container, and you can't go wrong! Now, I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's nearby, but a regular grocery store is also a good option. I tend to forget about the floral departments there sometimes. They always have good affordable choices, too. In my experience, TJ's is typically a few dollars cheaper, but they have pretty good deals at my Stop & Shop, too.

    With all that being said, I firmly believe that you really can't beat the look of arrangements from a professional florist. Before we moved, we lived in Dutchess County, NY, and I used to be obsessed with the amazing things my favorite florist, Kamilla, would come up with. We used to host a lot of parties, and I would buy from her whenever budget permitted. Although I'm a major budget-hunter, I try to shop locally whenever possible. And those guys are called professionals for a reason!

    Bottom line for me: nothing beats professional floral arrangements, and for special occasions, I love shopping local. A trip to the florist is an awesome treat! But when you're looking for fresh flowers on a regular ol' day for a regular ol' budget, Trader Joe's is a great place to have around.

    I actually used only Trader Joe's flowers at our last party (the one with the vinyl tablecloths)!

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Why I Love CVS Extrabucks

    CVS Extrabucks Rock... But You Have to be Organized!

    Great Deals using CVS Card

    This is why I love Extrabucks! If you stay on top of your CVS coupons, you can save a ton of money. Last night, I got two bottles of contact solution for only $4.99! Amazing! Originally priced at $12.99, I had a CVS coupon for $3 off eye care, and $5 Extrabucks. As a bonus, I just found out that eyecare is covered in FSA/HSA plans. These are the kinds of deals I LOVE.

    Girls Skirts from Women's Shirts

    Using Fabric from a Women's Shirt to Make a Girl's Skirt

    via Make It & Love It Tutorial

    I don't know where I would be without all the amazing sewing tutorials from Make It & Love It, and this one was like a revelation for me. Why hadn't I thought of that before? Using the fabric from existing material to make something else? It really is genius! And, in this case, easy!

    It was a rainy day, and I was hankering for a quick project. Stumbled upon this one, and I was not disappointed! I pass Old Navy every day on my way to the girls' school, so I popped in to look for some shirts in the clearance section, and was happy to walk out with these two shirts (I think one was $4 and the other $5). Loved the patterns! I got the biggest sizes they had (I think the purple striped one was a L and the pink and navy was an XL). 

    Came home and got to work. And boy, was it quick work! My absolute favorite kind of project: almost-instant gratification! I'm not going to go through the details about how I did it because they're all on Ashley's site, and they're great. But I will say that it was a very fun project, and the first one I've attempted with gathering (and yoga-style waistbands, actually). I really like how she shows to line up the pins, and I've used that tip in a bunch of projects since then.

    I can't tell you how many compliments the girls have gotten on these skirts -- in fact, many moms have expressed wanting one of their own :). I know I will be making more! Oh, and fun bonus for the girls: I had plenty of material to left over to fashion some retro-style scrunchies that I used to rock as a youngin!