Wednesday, May 27, 2009

make a change and save some change

I'm sure by now you've figured out that Brad and I are all about saving some moola. I've told you how we saved a few bucks and maybe a little bit of the earth by switching to natural cleaning products, and I've also showed you how we save dough when we shop. Today I'm back with a few more ways we've cut some costs around the roost.

1. Name drop
If you grew up in the south you were probably taught how tacky it is to name drop. It's right up there with chewing gum in public, calling your elders by their first names, and neglecting to wear a slip. But trust me, name dropping can save you a ton of money on your car insurance, phone bill and more. When I happened to mention to our cell phone company that I'm a teacher, we started earning a deep discount on our monthly bill because of a deal they have for school employees. We also save money on other bills because they offer deals to customer who bank with a credit union or are members of a rural electric co-operative. So go ahead and brag about where you work, organizations you belong to, and honors you've received.

2. You have not because you ask not
This is one of my mother's favorite sayings and it's also very true. We have reduced some bills just by asking if they can give us a better deal. Our car insurance company was happy to lower our rates when we called and asked - it didn't hurt that we mentioned the rates we were being offered by other companies. This weekend Brad and I both got 100% free new cell phones just by walking in the store and asking. We knew we were up for an upgrade, so we asked if we could switch to some cool new phones that we saw offered for free on the company's website (the site claimed it was a web only offer). They had no problem giving us the same phones in-store, plus they waived the activation fee when we asked.

3. Cut the cord
This might not be possible for everyone, but we saved a ton of money by nixing a land line and cable/satellite TV. We might consider a land line when we have kids, but when we realized that we literally never used the house phone, it seemed like a no brainer to stop paying for one. And we don't have a super expensive cell bill either. Most of our family is on the same network so those calls are free and with free nights starting at 7 and free weekends, we don't even come close to using all of our 500 shared minutes. We used to pay for satellite TV so that we could get the regular network channels to come in clear out here in the boonies. With the advent of digital TV, we discovered we can get about 10 free network channels with just a converter box and an antenna. RCA makes really cool flat antennas, so we don't even have to have the dreaded bunny ears. Between the free network channels, hulu, and netflix, we don't miss paying for TV one little bit.

4. Go local
When it comes to entertainment, most cities have many cheap hidden gems. We consider Richmond, VA to be our city, even though we live in the surrounding boonies. Our town has some great deals like $1.99 movies at our second run theater, The Byrd. Friday Cheers, a free weekly concert series during the summer, countless free festivals and markets, and lots of parks. It's also a great idea to search local blogs and papers for discounts, freebies, and promotions. For instance, our local paper alerted us to the $1.00 movie and popcorn being offered as a grand opening promotion by a new movie house.

Hope these tips help you save a few more pennies, or at least reassure you that you aren't the only cheapskate on the block!

Let me know if you have any other great ideas for cutting the fat!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A little more red for the roost

I'm 26 today and I have two new birthday treats to show you that add a little extra red to the kitchen. I also received some wonderful gift cards and checks that I'll use for new clothes for me and some new decor for the roost. Thanks to everyone who made my birthday special!
Here is the little tablescape I put together with the new dashes of red.
My Grandma gave me the red glass jar, and I found the red wire basket yesterday at the Dollar Tree.

Those pink carnations are still going from the Mother's Day tea party two weeks ago! I love the texture the basket adds to the arrangement. It feels a little beachy to me as well, sort of like a wire lobster trap. My Dollar tree had them in red, white, and blue in the 4th of July section. What an awesome basket for only a buck! I plan to use it mostly as a bread basket, lined with a crisp white napkin, but it could also hold rolls of silverware, a few small books, office supplies, etc. Go get one before they sell out!

This vintage glass jar is also pretty swell. I love the funky raised design. I think this will be great for storing cookies or flour, but I can also envision it full of white tulips or daisies.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day tomorrow!



Monday, May 18, 2009

Not your granny's sink skirt

Clearly the bathroom makeover was at the top of my summer to-do list, because I've already taken a stab at improving things. I've wanted to make a sink skirt for awhile, but I haven't had time to look around a fabric store. I read somewhere about people making sink skirts out of bedsheets, and that got me thinking ... the flour sack cloths I bought to make tablecloths for the tea party came in a five pack and I still had three left. I held one up to the sink, and sure enough, they were the perfect length.

Here's one of the reasons I've been longing to pretty-up the bathroom. Brace yourself.

The top of the sink isn't so bad, except that the built in mirror needs to be re glazed - I have a plan for that that I'll hopefully be able to get to later in the summer.

So now, on to how to make a sink skirt using only three dish towels, eight yards of ribbon, a little industrial strength Velcro, and some stitch witchery.

First, I figured out how to make the side pleats by very professionally scotch taping the dish towel to the sink.
I started with one edge flush against the wall, and then made a little pleat/tuck when I reached the rounded corner. I, again, very professionally secured the pleat with some more scotch tape. I repeated the same steps on the other side.
Next, I took a second dish towel, centered it on the front of the sink, and then folded each edge under until it it met the corner pleats.
Once I had all these folds marked with my handy dandy scotch tape, I pinned everything, removed the tape, and ironed like crazy. If you are more coordinated than I am, you can skip the tape and use pins in the first place.
Next, I took out my stitch witchery, and following the package directions, used it to secure the top of each pleat. For a little added polish, I also used stitch witchery to add ribbon to each vertical edge, and to the top edge of each piece.
Finally, I attached Velcro to the edge of the sink, and to the top of each towel.
Here's the finished product!
It's soooooo much better!
A little close up action.
And one more, because I'm so amazed at how much better our bathroom looks!
So there ya have it: a cheap-o, no-sew, easy-peasy sink skirt that is definitely not your granny's.

Friday, May 15, 2009

School's Out for the Summer - Well, Almost!

I feel like summer is almost here ( OK, so it's really five weeks until summer break, but it feels like summer is almost here) and that means it's time to make some plans for my 7 weeks off from teaching. Here are my goals, some fun, some home improving, some just silly.

1. Do something about the bathroom - The bathroom is my least favorite room in the house, thus the reason it has never been pictured on this blog. It is very small and has a lot of issues, some of which I have no control over, but I'm determined to do what I can to improve things. At the very least, I want to make a sink skirt (but not your granny's sink skirt) to hide all the plumbing and other ugly stuff.

2. Put my feet in the ocean -It's been over two years since I've been to a beach and that is far too long when VA Beach is less than three hours away.

3. Paint stuff - I may go overboard on this one. I tend to go nuts and feel that everything in the house would look so much better with a coat of white paint. We have two white dressers, a white TV stand, three white bookshelves, a white nightstand, a white accent table, white cabinets, white table and chairs, white iron bed, white desk, white china hutch, and white armoire. It would have taken much less time to list the thing in our house not painted white. Nether the less, I still want to paint the little cabinet in our kitchen, and the bench in the hall, and maybe a few more bookcases. My goal is to paint these a color other than white. Well, except for the bookcases, they would look so good in white. . .

4. Do very Richmond-y things, especially free and cheap Richmond-y things - Summer calls for picnics at Maymont, window shopping in Cary Town, movies at the Byrd, and at least one outdoor concert. I also want to try some new things like the ghost walk, check out the addition at the VA Museum, and finally use my free teacher membership at the Science Museum.

5. Blog more regularly and start a book - Maybe. I think I can handle the increase in blogging, but I think I'm probably doomed to fail on the book front. It would be nice to actually give the 'ol creative writing degree a little workout, but I know how lazy I am. We shall see.

6. Generally make good use of the time and money - this includes not sleeping half the day, actually accomplishing something each day, volunteering (Vacation Bible School here we come), saving money, getting more in shape/less pear-like/able to use more than the ten pound resistance band/actually use the resistance bands/not leave resistance bands in sloppy pile behind the bedroom door, and not spending money on exercise equipment that will end up in a sloppy pile behind the bedroom door.

OK, that seems like a pretty good list to start with. Summer here I come!

Do y'all have any plans, exciting or otherwise?


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ain't no party like a tea party!

So, the Mother's Day tea party on Saturday was so much fun! We all enjoyed being girly, getting dressed up, and eating tiny food. My mom and grandma even wore fancy straw hats. I'll have to post some pictures later so you can see what southern belles we were. For now, I have some pictures of the tables and decorations.

Here is everything right before I laid out the goodies.

I searched everywhere for a little tablecloth or runner, but I couldn't find anything I liked. On Friday I spotted a pack of five flour sack cloths at Wal-Mart and got a brainstorm. I took those suckers home, printed out a few of my clip-art flowers on some iron-on sheets, and made two tiny custom tablecloths.
A little close up of the center piece.
While I was on a clip-art kick, I also made laminated name cards for each place setting.

So, yes, it is a little matchy-cutesy, but tea parties scream for matchy-cutesy. Plus, it's really fun to go all out girly every once and awhile.
Here's a better look at the whole table.
I experimented a little with the tea party spread. I usually just lay everything out on plates and trays, but I thought it would be more visually appealing to have things at varying heights. I only have one real cake stand, so I had to get a little creative.

Why yes, those are indeed upside down milk glass vases. I just stuck a little plastic wrap between the vases and the plates to keep things from shifting around.

It worked pretty well, and it was fun to do something different.
Here is everything with the goodies all spread out.

Happy Mother's Day Mom and Grandma! I love you both very much!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

You've Got ...Style!

Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes also knows that You've Got Mail is my favorite movie of all time. My dear friend Tracy and I can pretty much quote the entire movie - note: this does not seem to endear us to others if they have to be in the same room with us and the movie. But really, what's not to love? Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, the most adorable bookstore in the world, romance, and apartments that are a-mazing! I could seriously live in this movie.

For a really great look at the decor in Meg Ryan's apartment, check out this clip from the movie.

I think I first fell in love with white, shabby chic, and vintage furnishings when I saw this movie. Every time I watch I drool over the built in bookcases, layers of texture, and coziness of the space. To really get a feel for the apartments you should watch the whole movie - Tom Hanks (F-O-X) has a place almost as good as Meg Ryan's.

Has a movie ever inspired your personal style?


Check this out @ The Lettered Cottage

Layla over at The Lettered Cottage has a great giveaway this week from Coastline.

And also check out the Coastline shop for more fun beach-y cottage-y decor
Good Luck!