Monday, August 29, 2011

Guest Bedroom DIY Art Project

Happy Monday Everyone!

I have caught crafting fever here lately, and I have so many projects swirling around in my head! I blame it on Pinterst, the most addictive site ever with the most amazing pictures of projects I could ever imagine!!!

I am in the process of making our apartment a home, and I focused on our guest room this weekend. The wall behind the headboard needs some major TLC, so I made up my mind to create a DIY project using cross stitch hoops and fabric. I first spotted the idea on Apartment Therapy, and there are quite a few variations on Pinterest and other DIY sites. I really love how it turned out!


As you can see, the wall needs some love. I chose fabrics with white, turquoise, and red to brighten the room and to make it feel inviting and feminine.


I bought 11 hoops of various sizes and 9 single cuts of fabric. I actually found these at Wal-Mart by accident while I was in the craft section looking for something completely different. The pieces of fabric were just 99 cents each!!!


I laid out my pattern (which changed quite a few times).


Before placing the fabric in the hoops, I steamed the wrinkles out. Once everything was steamed, I placed the fabric in the hoops and cut the fabric once the hoops were tightened. The longest part of the project was cutting the excess fabric as closely to the back of the hoop as I could so you couldn't see it once the hoop was hung on the wall.

After 3 hours and $25, this is how the wall turned out!




I can't wait to decorate the rest of the room. I have a red side table I'm going to add, and I am going to complete another fun project with the cut fabric I have left. I am eager to see how the finished room turns out. I just know I like sitting in the room much more than I used to!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Frugal Friday!

Happy Friday Ya'll!

We are inching closer to fall, and I can't wait. As soon as the workday ends, I have an afternoon planned hustling around at Michael's and Hobby Lobby to gather up supplies for some fall inspired projects to get started this weekend. I know what you may be thinking... "This girl's crazy! It's 100 degrees outside, and she is already obsessing about fall!" I just can't help myself.

Friday Night football officially kicks off tonight, and a part of me wants to sit on the porch and listen to the screaming fans and marching bands at the Vestavia High School Football game tonight. The stadium is only a short walk away, so I'm sure I will be able to hear all the fun. The best part is that SEC football kicks off in 8 days!!! Go VOLS and HOGS!

The point of this post is not to go on and on about fall or football but to tell you that I had a great grocery shopping week! I think we are finally getting the hang of saving at the grocery store and making it work for us. I did use a few coupons, but in case you haven't noticed, it's hard to save on fresh fruits and veggies or meat. We don't eat much out of a box, so I've had to adjust a little from my first post about couponing. I found the best savings comes when shopping from the store holding the best sales for the week on the stuff we eat then head to Wal-Mart for the rest. I have tried my best to stay away from Wal-Mart for several personal reasons, but if we want to save money, it's nearly impossible not to go to that store!

So this was our game plan, and it payed off big time this week. We stuck with the Buy 1, Get 1 free items paired with a few coupons at Publix who had a great weekly ad with food we eat and amazing sales on produce. The best part of Publix is you don't have to buy both Buy 1, Get 1 items. You can buy just one at half price, which is great for two of us who have limited space. Then the rest of the groceries, which included canned goods and paper goods were bought at Wal-Mart. The real savings were a result of the menus I chose, which were all MEAT-FREE. This week we went vegetarian for dinner, but I did buy Boar's Head lunch meat because what's a sandwich with out some meat?

This week, we spent $63.00 by planning based on the best sales, by going meatless for dinner, and by sticking with a list.

For $63.00 we bought groceries to cover over 17 meals from Monday - Sunday, including

Oatmeal for me, Michael makes peanut butter tortillas

Sandwiches and Chips for both of us


Squash and Zucchini Gnocchi with Vodka Sauce, Salad
Black Beans and Rice Tacos with Skillet Corn, Peppers, and Tomatoes
Veggie Quesadillas
Eggplant Parmesan, Salad
Homemade Miso Soup and Vegetable Fried Rice
Breakfast for Dinner

I think we ate pretty well for $63! It takes time and planning, but it's worth it. This week we did really well because we figured out what works best for US. As a whole, we did not save as much as we wanted to this month because we were buying things we didn't really eat simply because we had a coupon. Because we didn't buy things we eat, we found ourselves going back to the store to buy items we really wanted. My advice is to scan the store ads to pick out who is offering the best sales then circle or list the foods you want to buy, find your favorite couponing site to complement the items you've circled for extra savings (if you score big time, that's great, but don't stress if you don't have coupons), then create recipes that you'll actually eat with items on sale. Make a strict list and stick with it. Don't buy stuff you won't eat or don't need!

Happy Frugal Friday. I can't wait to go grocery shopping again and challenge myself to save more money!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Never Say "Never"

My life lately has been one of firsts. What have I learned? Never to say "Never," or I will surely eat my words! I said I would never coupon and look what my recent post was about! I am still enjoying being frugal and matching coupons, but Michael and I are still trying to figure out the best way to incorporate couponing into our lifestyle.

After watching the first or second season of The Bachelor, I swore I would never watch it again. But for some reason, I have found myself consumed with The Bachelor Pad. I am so embarrassed! I don't even know who anyone is or what season they were on, but for some reason I can't stop watching! It's so sad isn't it?

This weekend, we took on a project that I thought we would never ever do. We painted a rental! I thought I would never paint a rental because it's not permanent and you have to change the color back or pay your landlord to transform it for you. More than that, we just painted a three story home this year. What am I thinking? But you only live once, and I couldn't live with the white walls forever. I love our apartment, and we will be here for at least two years, so why not! I can't believe I talked Michael into it. I know he wanted to kill me yesterday, but he loves me and suffered through the work. Thankfully, we had our friend Eric come over to help. He is a painting machine!

Our apartment was so white, so we painted the guest bedroom, hallway, kitchen, dining and living rooms. Here are some pictures of the before and after in progress.

I love warm and cozy spaces, but our guest bedroom made more of a sterile hospital statement. Our furniture is white, which looks pretty bad against white walls. This set truly makes me laugh. It is so small against our 9 foot walls, but it was my grandmother's furniture. I am not ready to part with it just yet!

I've shown pictures of our white on top of white on top of white kitchen. Just adding a little warmth spices it up a bit. I can't wait to finally hang up my DIY chalkboard.

I told you there was a lot of white! And a lot of brown...I plan to do something about our collection of brown furniture one day!

You can't even tell we have a fireplace because it's white!

Though Eric told us to buy 3 gallons of paint, Michael and I were being cheap and thought we could get away with two gallons. With walls in the kitchen left and the entire guest bedroom, I headed out to get a third gallon of paint :(. I couldn't believe it, but our guest bedroom took an entire gallon of paint. We were squeezing out the rollers to get the last drops of paint because we had a small space that was still white. Here is Eric's finger painting project after he squeezed out the rollers.

Luckily we had just enough paint, and after 5 hours of work, we finished!

So much better and cozier!

Doesn't the kitchen look better? Eric asked me to give him a shout out, so if you need an awesome painter or a contractor let me know, and he will hook you up! Eric has helped us out on too many home projects to count!

I think it's going to be a little easier for our guests to sleep now!

The only thing left to worry about now is how to afford new accessories that I want to buy to go along with the new paint! I never said I would never buy new items for our new walls!

Monday, August 15, 2011

This is the Day...

that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in long as it stays below 90 degrees!:)

For several weeks, my hot commute home has looked like this:

But today was so beautiful! The temperature didn't make it to 90 degrees and there was no humidity! Now I am ready for fall! Fall is my favorite season of the year, and it's just around the corner. I'm already dreaming of football, gorgeous leaves, and pumpkin spice lattes! I know, I know...I live in Alabama, which means fall truly won't be here until late October, but a girl can dream can't she?

Life has been quiet around here lately. Michael is working a lot to get ready for football season, and I haven't been doing much of anything. I am still trying to figure out couponing. I saved about $40 yesterday with our weekly trip, but I still want to do better. That's about it! We lead boring lives I guess!

I did want to share a couple of pictures I took a few weeks ago when we were in Charlotte for Sean and Caroline's wedding. This was Scarlett's first stay in a hotel, and let's just say she loved it. She felt quite comfortable in the nice bed!

She is such a little diva!

I hope everyone has a great week. Let's hope for some more great weather!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Frugal Friday!

So what's this couponing craze all about these days? For years, couponing was for old ladies with a million mouths to feed, now its all the rage. You turn on the tv and see extreme couponers buying thousands of dollars worth of food and products for pennies, and you are one click away from thousands of sites dedicated to couponing and bargain hunting. If I can be honest, I can't stand extreme couponing, and the people on that show and the hundreds who do it on a weekly basis are more like hoarders than savvy savers in my opinion. If you are having to add square footage to your home to store your free junk then you may need to see a therapist. On the contrary, kudos to the extreme couponers who choose to give their free groceries to charity. You people are awesome!

I have been laughing at couponing until about five days ago. Who wants to sit around clipping coupons, comparing flyers, planning multiple trips to several stores for the best deals, and stocking up your panty like it's World War II when it's already hard enough to think of a few creative recipes for dinner every week. I did laugh at the girls I know who do this, but I am slowly realizing the jokes on me. They are saving hundreds of dollars while I am stuck having panic attacks in the grocery store every time I check out!

Here are my 3 reasons for swearing off couponing:

1. Most coupons require you to purchase more than 1 item to get a deal, and I don't have enough space to store all the extra food

2. It's all junk food and kid food, and couponing doesn't fit our lifestyle

3. I don't have the time to spend clipping coupons and studying sales

But on Monday, my frugal life started to change! My girlfriend at work gave me a little tutorial. I realized that time is certainly money, and I have to spend a little more of my precious time looking for the best deals and planning my menus around whats on sale. But it doesn't have to be as hard as it seems if I don't let it.

And then it hit me as we were going through the fliers and coupons, and I started seeing more food on sale that I actually eat......I could seriously get addicted to this! Oh Lordy, I'm in trouble!!!

I made the decision on Monday to give this a try, but I set some boundaries.

1. Find one site that sorts the store fliers and offers a coupon database. I don't have time to visit every product's web site for coupons and each store's web site and scroll through the sales fliers. I chose Southern Savers to do the work for me. It is amazingly helpful and makes the process very easy.

2. Limit my shopping to 2 stores a week . This week, I chose Winn Dixie and Publix. Both offer great Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals, and you can save lots of $$$ just by having a Winn Dixie card.

3. Only clip coupons for food and products I will eat and use. This keeps me in line with living a minimalist life style and keeps me sane!

4. Find a great recipe site that offers simple, budget friendly recipes. 5-ingredients-or-less recipes are perfect for planning menus around whats on sale. I like My Recipes.

My plan: I clicked on the itemized sale items for Publix and Winn Dixie provided by Southern Savers (this site does everything) and printed my shopping list directly from the site based on the foods I know we would eat. Then I printed any coupons that were available through the Southern Savers database, and I finally logged on to recipe sites to find my menu for the week using the sale items. I spent 1-2 hours on my menu planning for the week. I usually spend 1 hour a week anyway, and that doesn't include any savings!

I made my first trip to Winn Dixie to get 3/4 of my list this afternoon. All my meat came from this trip, and I got such good deals that I will not have to buy any meat for next week, which will make my planning easier and cheaper. YAY!

I only spent 30 minutes or so, and I only had two coupons, but I got all of this for $76.90. I had a total savings of $46.26. And yes...I only clipped two coupons. This week was all about matching the great sales with my menu. Next week, I hope to incorporate more coupons.

For $76.90, I bought:
2 Athenos Greek yogurt
1 pack Kraft provolone cheese slices
1 pack Kraft pepper jack cheese slices
1 block Kraft mozzarella
1 block Kraft sharp cheddar
2 Red Baron pizzas
1 carrot cake mix
1 dark chocolate cake mix
2 bags of Kettle Cooked chips
6 Scotch kitchen sponges
1 pack of high fiber oatmeal
1 pack of individual packaged grits
1 bag of arugula lettuce
1 bag of romaine lettuce
1 bunch of bananas
2 liters of filtered water

My best score was all the meat!

I bought 2 bone-in ribeyes
8 chicken breasts (Buy 1 Get 1)
8 grouper filets (Buy 1 Get 1)

Last week, we spent $80 at Wal-Mart and did not leave the store with one package of meat. We can't live without cheese, so I was really happy to get cheese for so cheap. Not all of my buys were health foods, but I bought healthier items than I thought I ever could. I did buy 2 of most items because they were Buy 1, Get 1, but I only bought 2 of each of the items I know we eat.

Tomorrow, I'll be heading to Publix to round out my list, and I wil tell you how my recipes turned out as well. I could really get used to this! Happy Frugal Friday everyone!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sean and Caroline Married!

We spent our weekend in Charlotte, NC for Sean and Caroline's wedding reception. Yay! I finally have a sister now! Sean and Caroline got married on July 23 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and came back to celebrate with friends and family before Caroline heads to Pittsburgh, where she and Sean will start their lives together.

Congrats Sean and Caroline!

The reception was really fun! My favorite aspect was the cookie table. I am mad at myself for not taking more pictures, but I did take a picture of the centerpiece on the cookie table. Aren't these the yummiest looking cupcakes? They have kayaks on them too, which is a love Caroline and Sean share!

The cookie table was a traditional twist on the reception that Caroline created from the memories of her Italian roots and the weddings she attended as a young girl. To keep the tradition, she asked her friends and family to bake cookies from a family recipe. She displayed them each on a platter and had them labeled with the name of the cookie and who made them. She provided bags for everyone to take home cookies as favors.

Aren't you curious about what we baked? I love to cook, but baking isn't really my thing just yet. I have no family recipes and neither does Michael, so we baked the only cookies we could think of that had somewhat of a family tradition. Michael just so happened to be a sandwich artist at Subway when he was 15, and he may have "burned" and eaten many white chocolate macadamia nut cookies in his day. Hopefully, he shared the delicious cookies with his family after work! Luckily, we know a very nice lady who works for the company that distributes supplies to local Subways here in Birmingham. A week before the wedding, we became the proud owners of 15 dozen white chocolate macadamia cookies!!!! Yes, that is 300 cookies! I won't even tell you how much of a deal we got for these babies! We baked 5 dozen for the wedding, and we will make the rest for the Dream Center this Saturday. Michael actually told the story of our cookies during his speech, and everyone thought it was pretty funny!

It was really great to see Michael's family and meet Caroline's brother Vince and her mother Dinah for the first time.

Us with Sean, Caroline, and her brother Vince

Sean and Caroline with her mom Dinah

Here are some of the ladies in Michael's family - his aunt Hart with her daughters Emily and Elizabeth. Elizabeth's sweet baby Mary Hart is the cute little one on the right. Michael's mom Betty is next to her sister Nancy who is holding Mary Hart

Michael and Sean with their cousins Emily and John. John is the best Trivial Pursuit player in the world! At least in my world...

Cindy, Elizabeth and her husband Jack, with Caroline and me

Here are a few pictures of the bride and groom during their speech and their first dance. I thought it was sweet that they waited to have their first dance at the reception so all of us could see them for the first time.

I love this picture of Caroline. She smiles all the time, and this is such a perfect picture of her.

She's smiling again...

I love how Sean is looking at her!

Congratulations Sean and Caroline! Good luck in Pittsburgh! We wish you all the love and happiness in the world!