Saturday, September 29, 2012

Just $1.29 Shipped!

Right now on Amazon you can get these Arc-shaped Lovely Water Droplets Imitation Peal Earrings
for just $1.29 shipped! These would make a great stocking stuffer.

Amazon deal – prices may change at anytime


I have been slowly working on my living room for the last year or so. I sill have one large project left. But I am starting to think about accessories. I have been digging through websites trying to find that easy to follow formula. So far no luck. I might just have to figure this out on my own. yikes.

I am thinking that I need to change the pillows on the couch, hang curtains, change out the kid folding chairs, paint the wall behind the stairs, and hang some wall art. As usual, my budget is tight. Here is a little photo gallery of some of the pieces I am considering. I would love any advice or tips from you, my much trendier readers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Stains in the Toilet

How do you remove hard water stains from the toilet?

This question has plagued me for over a year. Lets go back to the beginning. Financially, things got pretty tight for us around the birth of our second daughter. One of the expenses we cut at the time was adding salt to the water softener. We have recently started using it again, so now it is time to clean up from our 'savings'. I have tried a variety of cleaning products marketed for tackling hard water stains. None of them worked for me. I found this post on Pinterest, and thought I would give it a try. I already had a pumice stone, I donned my trusty rubber gloves, washed out the toilet, then got to work. It took a little bit of effort, but not as much as I thought it would. In just a few short minutes, It was clean!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

30 Days to Clean: Washing Machine

I had never even thought about washing the inside of my washing machine, until I saw this post on Pinterest. Then I started taking a look. Gross! My basement laundry is not the well lit place that you dream of. So I didn't really notice how bad it was. Guess I had better get to my improvement project before it gets this bad again!

It took some time, but was pretty straight forward.

1. Start by filling the washer with HOT water. Add One quart of chlorine bleach and let the machine agitate for a minute, then let it sit for one hour. (do not add detergent) Let the machine finish the wash cycle. I used the setting for a large heavy load.

2. Immediately fill the washer with HOT water again and add One quart distilled white vinegar. Let agitate for a minute, and again, let it sit for one hour.

All shiny and clean!
3. While it is soaking, dip a scrubber sponge in the vinegar water and detail all the nooks and crannies of your washer, including the knobs, the lid and the exterior. If your machine has built-in dispensers, clean those too. Don't forget the top underside of the wash tub. I couldn't believe how yucky that was. I wish I would have taken a before of that! It was so bad I could feel it through my washcloth! If your dispensers aren’t removable, warm 1 cup of white vinegar in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Pour it into the dispenser and allow it to sit for a few minutes to loosen any build up.

4. After an hour, run the longest wash and spin cycle again.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why I Love Cast Iron

 No matter how hard I try. Every frying pan I have ever had, I ruined. All it takes is just one lazy day or just one guest cook in the kitchen. You see every good frying pan has special instructions that if not followed exactly, ruins the pan. I have used almost every brand of fry pan, all with the same results. Until now.

This last time around I decided to go old school and picked up a cast iron pan at Walmart. Since I had done some online research prior to purchasing, I re-seasoned my "pre-seasoned" pan. It has been awesome. I love the even heat distribution, it easily goes from stove top to oven, I use it at least once every day. So I am not 100% sure why in the last couple of weeks my eggs have started to stick.

With cast iron it is an easy solution though. (Have I mentioned how awesome this pan is?)
*I grabbed some steal wool from the basement and started to scrub, scrub, and scrubbed a little more (I didn't use soap).
*I then rinsed, dried, rinsed and thoroughly dried again. I waited 30 minutes to make sure it was dry.
*Using a paper towel I applied a really thin coat of vegetable oil to the entire pan, top, bottom, sides, and handle. I placed in the oven, then set the temperature to 400 degrees. And let it bake for 30 minutes. Turned off the oven and let it cool in the oven until cool enough to touch. Repeat for a total of 3-4 thin coats.

With a little bit of effort, and $0 spent, I have a brand new, no stick pan again!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Save 15% at Shutterfly!

A fun little album my sister made us
as a souvenier.
Awesome deal at Shutterfly. It expires October 5th, now is the time to make a book for your summer vacation! Just use code AF87-SAVE

30 Days to Clean: 5 Years of Photos

My oldest just started Kindergarten, and I haven't organized my photos into an album since before she was born! I started scrapbooking in High School and had been a very avid scrapbooker. My sister used to be a creative memories consultant, and I have attended many scrapbooking classes, and seminars over the years. I know that gave me an advantage.

Some of the basic tips I remembered:
*Put all of your photos in one place and get them in order. Any method of categorizing is fine, just choose what works best for you. I like to go chronologically. You could organize by subject matter, vacations, summer, winter, school etc. (I found photos on my blog, facebook, phone, hard drive, jump drive, CD's, several digital cameras, and SD cards.)
*You don't have to use every photo. Use only the best to tell the story. I couldn't bring myself to delete all the unused photos so I made a jump drive for each year of every photo I could find.
* Zoom in to your subject. Crop out uninteresting or distracting objects. Keep the main thing, the main thing!
*Contrasting colors look good together. (Contrasting colors are opposites on the color wheel Red/Green, Orange/Blue, Purple/Yellow)
*Start today and work backwards. Starting 18 years ago and trying to work forward, you will become overwhelmed and most likely not finish. (I started with 2011, then 2010, then 2009, and so on.)

Just one of the many fabulous images I didn't
use, but couldn't bring myself to delete.
I guess I am not completely over my
 hoarding problem yet!
The other advantage I had, was that all of my photos were already in digital format! This was by far my biggest advantage. I uploaded photos into 5 separate albums on my Shutterfly account. I then spent most of my free time for 2 weeks to create and order 5 albums.

My final cost was almost $200. That seems like a lot until you start breaking it down.
$40 an album/year (my old albums before photos, embellishments, adhesive, etc cost that.)
Less than $.50 a photo (I used over 200 per album, of various sizes)

I opted for the automatic fill option. Each of my books started at over $110 each. By editing out the photos I didn't want, making some pages collages, and deleting the now empty pages I was able to drop that price significantly. A running tally of your current cost is in the upper left had corner of the screen, so you can make real time/money decisions. I also used coupon codes for free shipping and additional % off my order.

My favorite thing though is once the book is made, it is saved onto your Shutterfly account, and you can reorder it if anything should happen. Like your kids fighting over it the day it arrives, and ripping a page in your book. Grrrr...

I added a banner at the bottom. Just click the link and use the code. You will recieve an additional 15% off your order.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sun Protection. About Time!

I have a history of heat stroke. It all started when My Vet was in vet school. Money was tight, so sometimes we had to bike or walk to get places. I decided to bike across town to my job on a hot summer day. I over did it, and I've been easily susceptible ever since.

In the past few years, I have gotten heat stroke at least once a summer. I know that's bad. It wasn't on purpose. When I knew I had to be outside, I drank lots of water, brought along an umbrella, and rested often, to no avail. This summer my Mother-in-law recommend I start wearing a hat. All summer I wore a baseball cap when I was outside, and kept my eye out for something better. It worked! Wearing a hat shielded me from the sun, and reminded me to stop more often.

I still wanted a hat that had a wide brim though. Now that summer is over and I don't really need it anymore this year, guess what I found? On Saturday, I went to a huge craft fair with a friend, and stumbled upon one. I am not much of a hat person, and I think I look goofy in them, but I tried it on anyway. As my friend was commenting how much she liked it, a random stranger chimed in to say how cute it looked on me. Since I do not regularly get compliments on my appearance from strangers, I had no choice. I impulse bought it out of peer pressure. What am I 15?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reading Nook

School started Last week, and I got'er done just in the nick of time! The window seat was a hit. I then painted the old closet walls a lovely shade of Strawberry Hill.

I got a bit of inspiration at work, and hung up a puppet theater I've had laying around for years. I also, added some new finger puppets I recently found, and a super cute sock puppy I picked up at a craft show.

The girls now have there very own imagination station, perfect for quiet reading or playing.

Home Tour

Memorial Day weekend 2010 we removed the front fence and replaced it 8 feet back from the sidewalk. This keeps the dog from trying to nip at people over the fence. It also gave me a place to start growing flowers. I was able to transplant several plants from the yard as well as from the neighbors. now 2 years later I need to make some changes. I hope to get to that this fall.

4th of July 2009 I tore out the flooring of the front porch. It was plywood covered with tile. As you can imagine it didn't weather very well. After large holes began to appear, I knew it had to go. We got a happy surprise of almost prestine concrete steps under the old decking. We replaced rotten joists, and reframed the flooring to expose the new steps. Then used pressure treated decking material to finish it off.
The Garden has been a lot of work, but not a lot of money. It started with some cedar edging I picked up on sale. Then hauled in two trailer loads of compost to fill it 3 inches thick, Adding manure and such yearly since. This past spring we replaced the privacy fence with picket fence like the rest of the yard. My garden finally has enough light to grow peppers. I had been ready to give up. The black barrel in the upper left hand corner of the photo, is the compost tumbler My Vet made out of spare parts.

August 2008 My Vet went with friends to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for a week. I used the time to strip and finish a dining room table and chairs. For Christmas 2011 I got some new artwork for the dining room. I found an image I really liked while searching Flickr, so I contacted the photographer. He was happy to send me the file for a nominal fee. I got it printed poster size and framed it. I love it and the entire project cost less than $40!

The Kitchen was in pretty good shape when we moved in. We only made small changes. I started by spray painting all the handles oil rubbed bronze, removed the popcorn ceiling, some odd decorative bits on the cabinets, and the wallpaper, then painted the walls a light green. I also upgraded the floresent box light, with a new decorative ceiling pendent. Along with a few retro touches of, I also have my collection of aprons hung for me to easily see and wear.

The Living Room. I found a buffet that I painted yellow. It replaced the train table that now hold's dolls in the girls room.The poster in the background I picked up during a girls weekend in Chicago. I am still itching to remove the carpet, change the couch, paint the door, and accessorize. Even with all that, I have finished some major improvements, and been inspired, it's come a long way baby!

The girls' room is a melody of garage sale and Craigslist finds. Their beds are matching twins, with dresser and night stand I got for $100 on CL. The dollhouse and camper $3 at seperate garage sales. Over each girls bed is an arrangement of their annual photos as well as family photos and loved ones. You will notice that ALL of the photos in the house have a black frame and white mat. That makes it easy to move or add to any collection.

Exterior Updates In spring 2013 it was finally time to get back to the exterior. I hopefully removed my last tree on the left side, added black shutters and an urn, as well as painted the front door. My progress on the weeds in the grass is slow, but improving, and I keep making small changes to the small garden in front of the fence as plants mature.

Main Floor Bathroom isn't exciting, but few bathrooms are. I am enjoying it more these days though. I changed out the mirror, removed some wall paper, painted, hung some shelves and found some accessories. I still would like to replace the cracked tile on the floor, upgrade the light fixture and update the "hand painted" sink that matched the old wallpaper.