Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick Easter Gift...

I was trying to think of something quick and fun for an Easter gift (something that wasn't candy, although this is close). I was also thinking of something fun for LM to do that was not terribly expensive. So I came up with colored sugar in a jar. We've all seen the colored sand they have at fairs and festivals - they sell a jar and then you fill it with whatever sand you want. Kids love it. Instead of sand I thought of sugar which can be used later (I love consumable gifts). I save jars whenever I can. These little ones come from mushrooms but you could use anything - even buy some fun shapes if you want. I put about 1/4 cup of sugar in a bowl with 5-6 drops of food coloring and started stirring. The drops kind of turn into clumps so there's some mashing involved too.
When it's mixed to a color you like and pour the sugar in the jar. This is the parts the kids love! The pink sugar is actually some colored sugar that I had alot of.
I added a cute tag and it's a gift that's ready to give. I thought this would look really cute in an Easter basket but what could you use it for? I thought it would be fun to sprinkle on sugar cookies, french toast, waffles, etc. It could also be used in coffee and tea.
I thought it turned out cute and it was fun and quick to do. I think it's fun for kids but also would be nice for a teacher, grandma or co-worker.


I'm linking up to Transformation Thursday @ the Shabby Chic Cottage, Show and Share @ Just a Girl, Wendy's Frugal Friday , the Easter & Spring Party @ a Holiday Haven.

Slow down...


Summer's coming way too fast!! I know the Northeast is bracing for a spring snowstorm tonight. But here in the desert southwest we're expecting record highs tomorrow. 101 degrees here to be exact. I wish I could say it's an April fool's joke. The good news is that we'll pass these warm (but much more mild) temps on to our friends in New England before you know it.


In between watering my flowers and trying to find some shorts that fit I am putting the finishing touches on LM's clothing/toy 'clean sweep'. I think it's safe to put her winter clothes away so I am killing two birds with one stone. I can't wait to show you her newly purged room. I am a couple of bags in already and hope to have more by the time I go to bed tonight.


While I want to finish her room, I want to turn in early enough to make some more progress on the book I am reading, 'One Thousand Gifts' by Ann Voskamp. It is a wonderful book- I highly recommend it and I am not even finished with it yet. Paige is giving one away to one very lucky person.


That's it for now - back to the purge. And here's hoping no one plays an April Fool's joke on me - it's not my thing. I think LM is planning something though...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Planting...

The Spring planting season is well underway here. I picked up a few things to plant last week and went to work over the weekend. We plant everything in pots as the ground is just too hard and the soil isn't conducive to planting annuals. Palm trees and cactus do fine but not these delicate flowers. LM planted the marigolds and some watermelon seeds (we'll see how those do - I'm expecting some green leaves only as I obviously didn't leave enough room for any melon). The other pot has purple petunias and allysum.
You'll notice all the pots have rocks surrounding them. We have a large bunny population and they get hungry. They love our plants. Laying rocks around the perimeter is usually enough to keep them away. I planted everything on Saturday and woke up Sunday morning realizing that I hadn't put the rocks in the pots yet. I thought I would have gone out to flowerless pots but luckily we didn't have any hungry visitors.
I love this pot. I can't remember the name of the flower though but it's so pretty and bright. If I am lucky these flowers will last until mid-June, maybe early July. After that it's just too hot for them to stay alive. But I will certainly enjoy them while I can...


Linking up to Good Life Wednesdays @ The Beach Cottage & Swing into Spring @ DIY by Design.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Preview...

I mentioned that my husband & his friend were tiling our kitchen back splash this weekend. Here's a little preview. This is just the start, as you can see. By Sunday afternoon they had gotten all the tile up and sealed. They will grout this Saturday and hopefully finish the same day. I am wondering why we didn't do this sooner. It looks really good and brightens up the kitchen ALOT. The brown wall really sucked the light out of the room. I can't wait to reveal the finished project. Hopefully on Sunday or Monday - please check back!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A touch of Spring...

We had a really Spring-y weekend here. The hubby was tiling the kitchen back splash with a friend which left LM and me with some time on our hands - a rare thing indeed. We bought some plants and seeds and started planting. And painting. This pot had been sitting outside without any flowers since last summer. I loved the patina it was getting sitting out in the element. I stenciled it with our house numbers but the paint ran a bit and didn't look very good - it actually would have looked good for Halloween with the little (big) drips of paint so I took a different route. I spray painted the bottom and then mod-podged the numbers I cut with my Cricut. I wanted to keep some of the patina showing so I left the rim natural. I think it turned out really nice. :)

Next, I wanted to do something with this slate. I have had it for years (think 80's) and it was time to be freshened up. So using the same black spray paint/ mod-podged letters technique I made some changes...

Lovely transformation, I think! I used ribbon as the hanger and left some sticking out the front for a little color and texture.



With the new flowers and updated signage and pots its beginning to look like Spring around here...




Linking up to Not Just a Housewife's Outdoor Spaces Linky Party, Centsational Girl's Spring Decorating and Cleaning Party , Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays @ Coastal Charm, Tuesday's Treasures @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Craft-o-maniac Monday link party & Metamorphisis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paycheck to Paycheck Decorating...

Image from bhg.com


Decorating is fun. Sometimes necessary. But let's face it, decorating can do a job on your finances. A big purchase (that rug you're dying to have, for example) can turn your budget upside down.





We always try to pay cash for any remodel or renovation project we do. At the most we will stretch it over 1-2 months. Nothing's worse than financing those new silk drapes and deciding 3 months later that you hate them. AND that they haven't been paid for yet. This is not a lecture on finances. It's an idea on how to make your decorating dreams come true without risking your retirement.





For most of us a big remodel -kitchen, bath, new floors, etc. will be thought out well in advance and probably saved for over some length of time. But it's the little things that can add up and break the bank without a plan. Something like an impromptu trip to Target or Ikea.





I have found that at the beginning of a new season there's a slight possibility that I'll want something new for the house or garden. Springtime shouts out for some pretty annuals and pots to put them in. Fall means a new wreath for the front door. Summer calls for some new outdoor dinnerware. Christmas means, well it could mean LOTS of new decorations! Each season I try to set aside an amount of money to help freshen up my home. I base the amount mostly on the budget but sometimes I know I will just want $20 worth of fresh flowers for a month and that's all I will budget. Sometimes the budget is tight and I have to shop at home and get nothing. How do I make room in the budget for the bigger expenditures (like flowers, pots and potting soil)? It usually means taking something out. Not the mortgage, of course but there are usually some things that can be cut:



  • Yes, you've heard this before - the trips to the coffee shop (or soda machine). We all know that adds up. Cut your trips to your friendly barista to 2 days a week and all of a sudden you have freed up $10-$12 a week; $40 a month. That's enough for a set of these this month!

  • If you go out to dinner twice a week @ $50 a pop, cut it down to once a week and you'll have a whopping $200 this month. That will buy you this.

  • Cut out movies & popcorn once a month and you can buy this.


You get the idea. These little (and not so little) things add up. Over a few months you can really transform a room.



What if you don't have much to cut? If you can cut just $5 from your grocery budget (some soda or chips, maybe) and save it until next week you can get a nice bouquet of flowers from the grocery store that will last up to 2 weeks and will really add beauty to your dining room or living room. That same $5 saved for a few weeks and taken to Michaels (don't forget your coupon) can buy you all sorts of really nice accessories.



My first suggestion will always be to shop at home but if that fails or you are just itching for something new, look at your budget and see what you might be able to give up to make room for that new pillow.



How do you make room in your budget for decorating?



I'm linking up to Frugal Friday with Life as Mom.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Closet...

I have tackled my closet in this adventure I like to call spring cleaning. You've heard of it. We all do it. Most years anyway, right? I am following along with the schedule at Simple Mom. I have finished week one - the master closet. She is on week 3 (kids' toys and clothes). I have yet to finish (start?) week 2 (paper clutter!) I know, I am a bit slow. Just give me time!

Here's my closet - we have 2 very small closets in our master - this is mine. Quite the mess in this photo. I have had that yellow shoe bag since I was in high school and worked at Pappagallo. Talk about something made to last! I love it though and can't imagine life without a shoe bag.
Here's my after. Pardon the poor photo. I took it in the late afternoon when the sun beats in our bedroom door. It doesn't look too different but I filled up a trash bag to take to Goodwill plus had a few things to put in the trash can. The way I stack the shirts up makes for a quick mess so that's why I am in this closet a lot straightening and purging. I was surprised I got rid of as much as I did this time.
It's not beautiful and working with a space that small is tough - tough to keep straight. But it's what I have to work with.
Next up - that paper clutter and LM's stuff. Her stuff gets dealt with quite a bit too. Since there is no one to pass things down to when she outgrows something I usually keep a bag in the garage and when it's full I take it to the Goodwill. Since she's the only one who wears her things most of the items are in great shape.
The paper clutter? That's another story for another day. See you then...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Get Egg-cited...

It's time to decorate for Easter! To be honest I don't have a ton of Easter decorations (hence the tacky plastic eggs in my pretty jar - but the colors are great!) My mantel gets decorated. I love this little bunny that sits on the edge of the mantle. I need to keep any eye on her though since LM likes to take her down and play with her.
Love, love, love these robin's eggs (From Marshalls last year). A cute little birdie is looking for those eggs, I think.


My centerpiece for my dining room table. I love the pink and blue together with the Beatrix Potter eggs (Pottery Barn Kids).

That's it until we dye our eggs. I love to dye eggs and so does LM so we do it up big around here. I hard boil about a dozen and then usually paint about a dozen or so raw ones after I blow out the yokes - always a fun time.
What type of Easter decorating do you do? Do you go all out?
Swing into Spring with me at DIY by Design!



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Risk...

Today The Nester is celebrating "National {not really} Take a Risk Day." I think whenever we paint a room we take a risk. Unless you paint a room cream or white (even then it could be a risk) you are taking a risk with color. No amount of sample cans of paint can really prepare you for what your whole room will look like. Most of the time I paint a room I end up liking it. Sometimes right away, sometimes it takes a while. Most of the time I also wish I had gone darker. The only time I haven't is when I painted the accent wall in our bedroom. I love how dark that is. Now I am trying to decide if I should paint the whole room that color - that would be a risk. I also took what I think to be a huge risk painting my hallway blue. Baby blue - Merry-Go-Round from Olympic (Lowes) to be exact. It is actually a bit darker than these photos indicate. Our hallway is very dark so I hesitated (for many years) painting this area anything but white or cream. But I wanted some excitement. I wanted to take a risk. I know no one who has a blue hallway. Not that I am a copy cat but I just couldn't get an idea in my head of what this blue hallway would look like.
My idea was: blue wall, black frames, white trim. Sounds good to me but after a few months I am not sure if I like it. Which is why I only have 2 pictures on the wall. I think I like it but I'm not sure. One thing I am sure of is that I am not up to re-painting it right now. We have super-textured walls and it took forever to do this. For now I am living with this blue hallway and trying to decide if I like it. Some days I do. I think when I get all the pictures up in their black frames (stay tuned for those pics) everything will come together.



Yes, this was a risk for me and the jury's still out. What kind of risks have you taken in your home? Has it always worked, like me are you still unsure? Leave a comment or link up at the Nester with me...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday...



Well, it's the first Monday of spring. We're expecting rain. I guess we're taking this 'April showers' thing seriously and starting early. I've got a busy day planned - basically catching up on LOTS of things since I was gone most of last week.



I got quite a bit done over the weekend as hubby was out of town for a hockey tournament. It was a little overcast and cool so I didn't feel guilty about staying inside. I have finished my closet cleaning and will share photos later this week (I know, you are all on the edge of your seats!) The paper clutter, however, is still hanging around. I knew if would be more of a challenge and would take a bit longer. I am aiming to finish by the end of next weekend.


One HUGE accomplishment this weekend was finally finishing this book. It's been a long time coming. It was really a good book - I just didn't have time to sit down and make huge progress with it. It was my favorite book of the series.


Next weekend there's big goings on here @ September Acres. My husband, Nate, has picked out some tile for our kitchen back splash and our friend E is helping him put it up. Actually, my husband's name is Bill but he sometimes thinks he's a decorator so I call him Nate to make it official! If Bill really were Nate we'd be getting white subway tile like I want but instead we're getting something a tad different. I think it will actually look pretty good and every now and then I want him to think he has some say in what goes on in the house! I'll definitely have some pictures to post on this!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

House Tour, Mountain Style...

We spent part of last week at my sister's house in Park City, Utah. I love her house. Just love it. She has great taste and has decorated her home beautifully. I took the liberty of taking a few pictures while we there and thought I would share. She totally gave me permission! This is her landing at the top of her stairs. It has a built in book case and a nice display area on the top. I happen to know the picture on the wall is still available at World Market (Cost Plus). I'm not sure if you can tell how fabulous the wall color is but it's a wonderful yellow - Emperor by Ralph Lauren (Home Depot). My grandmother painted the painting to the left of the fruit bowl.
This is her master bedroom. Very soothing and warm. The pictures above the bed are photos she took on a trip and had framed. A great (& frugal) way to remember your travels. She was lucky that the wall was painted this khaki color when she bought the house.

Looking down from the stairs into the formal living room. She has lots of color in the house but kept this area white and it works. Her wood floors are a beautiful Australian Cedar. She replaced the berber after she moved in with this throughout the house - except for kitchen and bathrooms which are a really nice slate.

Looking into the dining room from the living room. There is a beautiful blue-ish accent wall (Lafayette by Ralph Lauren). I love all the light that comes in to both of these rooms.



This mirror hangs in the dining room next to the accent wall. I love how a mirror really makes a room look bigger. The sign (from Pier One) above the mirror reminds us all to dream.
Thanks for visiting!



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Project Simplify...


I love reading Simple Mom and I love her latest project 'Project: Simplify'. Five weeks, five hot spots. Last week was our closet. As cluttered as I feel my house is sometimes one area that I do spend time on several times a year is my closet. I purge often yet it's still full. It is a relatively small closet but I still like to be able to see things and get to them. I haven't purged in there since before Christmas so it's about time. I'll admit I didn't do it last week but plan on doing it this weekend along with Tsh's 2nd hot spot: paper clutter. That should be my middle name. While my closet will be a 30 minute task the paper clutter could take 30 hours or more.

I look forward to sharing my progress here. It's time to start spring cleaning and this seems to be the perfect way to do it. Time will tell...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Snow balls...

Some of us think we can't be in the snow without a snow ball fight. I am not one of those people but LM is. She built 'the great wall of snow' and started making snow balls. She takes this stuff seriously. She asked me to name my wall, too. Ever so witty, I came up with the Polar Ice Cap. I got some pretty good throws in if I say so myself.

After I got clobbered in the head though I decided a truce was in order. We're looking for a little more snow today for round 2. I know, we're the only people in America hoping for the white stuff. It is still officially winter, right?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Snow much fun...

This is 'Steve', the snowman LM made as soon as we pulled into my sister's driveway the other day. Small but cute. He melted today. It's gotten warm. So warm we don't get to have a fire in the fireplace. So warm the weatherman called it 'balmy'. So warm the locals are wearing short sleeves. Hold on! These Arizonans came to Utah for the cold. Well, it's still much cooler than it is at home. There is a storm coming through tomorrow with some 'moisture' - 1-2 inches. Better than nothing, I guess.
Tomorrow we're headed to the indoor skating rink. The outdoor one is closed for refrigeration servicing or something. Apparently, no one told them we were coming...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Break....

Most people are thinking about something like this for Spring Break... Here at September Acres we're headed to this...
The thought of 120 degree July days make it very appealing. Looking forward to walks in the snow, hot chocolate by the fire, skiing, and ice skating.
No doubt we'll be happy to come home to the 80 degree weather we're leaving. But we'll have those memories come July...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Climb every mountain...

On the days when LM has Brownies I take the girls (and one boy, the leader's son) to the leader's house for their meeting. I usually have 6, this week I only had 5. To get to the car they always walk up to the top of the hill and trail along behind one another along the fence line. It has always reminded my of the Von Trapp's (minus the clothing made out of drapes!)when they are leaving Austria at the end of 'The Sound of Music'. This week I had my phone with me and remembered to snap a shot of them.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
Till you find your dream.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend...

My husband and his friend N took LM and N's two boys to the Coyotes game this weekend. They spent the night. LM said she liked the boys' weekend.

I had big plans. I wanted to read the books I mentioned . I wanted to finish this book. I wanted to go see 'The King's Speech' and use the movie gift certificate my friend gave me. I wanted to clean my office a bit. Big plans.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans. I offered to sell Girl Scout cookies for 5 hours on Saturday and 5 hours on Sunday (you read that correctly, a total of 10 hours) so there would be enough parents (there has to be 2) in order to keep the booth open. Keep in mind that LM was at the Coyotes game so I didn't have a child boothing on Sat or Sun. Although I know the leader appreciated it and so did the parents I helped out I think I should have only offered to do it once. But I made a committment to the leader (who is also a friend) and I was going to honor it. Even if it meant it would take longer to get those books read. I know with a good amount of certainty that very few, if any, other parents would have done this. I mean, part of the reason my services were even needed is because there were parents that would not help out.

I have to say that I did have fun both days. On Saturday, I took one of the Brownies with me (her mom is the leader and she was out of town) and we boothed with another girl, A, and her mom who I don't get to see much so it was fun to chat during our downtime. And she brought Cinnabons for us for breakfast. :) On Sunday, it was A and her dad since her mom wasn't feeling well. A's dad is Mr. Mom and he's the one who's always at school picking up his girls so we know each other and had a good time chatting.

On Saturday afternoon when I got home I decided a nap was in order. So I laid down for about an hour and then got to reading. I also watched 'Waiting for Superman'. I found it really interesting and a little sad. I think anyone with children in the public school system should watch it. It is eye opening to say the least. If your kids are in a good school you have a lot to be thankful for.


This week is the last week before spring break and I am super busy. I am looking forward to having LM around next week but need to catch up on some things this week.

But first I want to finish book one...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Books...

LM was selling Girl Scout cookies at our local bookstore today after school. She was there for 5 (!) hours so I wanted to take her a sandwich for dinner. The hubby came with me and we spent quite a while in the store just looking around. A rare luxury indeed.



I decided to splurge on a couple of books. I usually go to the library but the 2 I got are ones I think I would like to keep.



The first book is 'Veganist' by Kathy Freston. You may have seen her on 'Oprah'. I just love her. She helped Oprah's staff go Vegan for a week. Now, I think it might be hard to go totally Vegan but even if I was halfway there I'd be better off. So I'm going to read more about it and then see what I think. I just read this book and it was enough to make me consider giving up meat, if not dairy and eggs.


I also picked up 'One Thousand Gifts' by Ann Voskamp. I am really looking forward to reading this one.



I almost bought 'Mr. Sunday's Soups' by Lorraine Wallace but I felt like I spent enough money and I think this could be a good library book. If I love it after I get it at the library I can buy it. There are some super yummy sounding soup recipes in there.


I also rented 'Waiting for Superman', the documentary that analyzes the failure of the public school system by following several students through the school system. It won the Audience Award for best documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. I hope to get to watch it this weekend.
Are you reading or watching anything good?



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Haven...

Monica is doing another 'Make your home a haven' week. I love these. It makes me slow down just a bit and take a look around. It makes me realize that lately my home hasn't been the haven I would like it to be.

There was the fridge, dishwasher, reverse osmosis situation which made my kitchen a mess as I had tools and flashlights all over the place. Not to mention everything under the kitchen sink was out so people could get to the pipes and stuff. Well, that is all taken care of now and I was finally able to clean up in the kitchen. The one surface that stayed clear during this? The dining room table. No matter what is going on I make sure that surface is clear. It was a blessing during this time so we could eat and do homework there without any worries.

I haven't been home much. We have been out of town alot. I have been working and at school alot. I have been running alot of errands. I long to have a day to stay home and really enjoy making my house a home. I think I am looking far into the future for that. Or maybe not. Let's hope not. In the meantime I get the laundry, dusting and vacuuming done bit by bit. It's getting done.

What would I like to do today?
  • Change sheets. I have one set in the wash now. One more to go!
  • Wash my shower curtain and duvet cover. Hopefully they can go in after the sheets
  • Wash my husbands hockey clothes. Actually, they should go in before the shower curtain and duvet cover since they are kind of (a total understatement) stinky.
  • Empty the dishwasher. The new, quiet dishwasher. I love it.
  • Clean bathrooms.

Quite lofty goals considering I am off to run some errands and help my husband at work in a few minutes. Once LM gets home, has a snack and starts homework I can pick up where I am leaving off.

What do you do to make your home a haven?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Top 'O the Morning....

I decided I wanted something for St Patrick's Day on my fireplace. But I didn't want to buy anything. Enter the computer and some paper. I used Word to write the #17 and then printed St Patrick's Day below the numbers. I picked a green I liked and hit print. I printed it out on regular typing paper (how frugal is that??) If you want something to look more polished you could use card stock. I trimmed the paper to 8"X10" and put it in a white frame I have. I really love the way it turned out. It's clean and simple but festive.


I used a plate stand to display the frame and voila! St Patrick would like it, I think!

I am linking up to Wendy's Frugal Friday. So much fun!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shoes...

Yesterday when I picked LM up from school I noticed she had on 'new' shoes. I asked her why. She broke her sandals during recess. I didn't really notice what she was wearing on her feet yesterday morning since she left when the delivery man was here. Rest assured, I would have nixed the sandals as it was a bit chilly in the a.m.

The nurse provided her with tennis shoes and socks. I was happy that the nurse was able to do that & that I didn't need to be called to bring a new pair. I often complain about the wacky (in my opinion) things the school does but I was thrilled to see them take care of LM when she needed it.

When we got home I ask LM for the socks so I could wash them and return them to school this morning. She said, 'oh, I only had them on for a few hours. You don't need to wash them.' Alrighty then.

I washed those socks and returned them along with the shoes and a thank you note to the nurse.

Oh, and today LM has on boots....