24 April 2013

Floral Prints

 Over here we are still wading through the trenches of potty training

We went through 18 pairs of underwear on Day 1. My throat hurts from endless cheering over the toilet. When I notice a wet spot on my shirt I don't know whether I've just spilled a little water on myself or if someone has peed on me. And even though I feel like I've been in the bathroom for days, I'm never the one actually getting to use it. I swear I'll have a kidney infection by the time this is over. 

I can not stay out of the "going-in-the-potty" treats. I feel like I deserve them more than anyone else. 

But, it's not all bad- I'm seeing light at the end of this tunnel. The kiddos are making progress so I'm hopeful they'll have this down pat pretty soon!  

If you want more from me today than an update on my kids' bathroom progress, then go over to GoldenageUSA's blog- I'm there talking about floral prints

22 April 2013

Training Day


You'll have to excuse me if my posting is sporadic this week. 

We are in the throes of potty training. 

Today is day 1 and so far the only person earning treats for peeing on the potty has been me. 

All upholstery is covered in towels and blankets and the carpet cleaner is close at hand. 
If I hear one more wail of "Ew yucky!" I'm going to lock myself in the pantry and cry. 

Diapers never looked so good. 

19 April 2013

My Favorite Hubby-Inspired DIY's

 It's my 10 year wedding anniversary weekend! 

Rob and I are getting out of town for the weekend and enjoying some "us" time thanks to family watching the kids. 
While I'm off celebrating a decade with the guy I love, I'm leaving you guys with some of my favorite DIYs, all which have something to do with my wedding day, engagement day, or just my marriage in general. 


18 April 2013

How I Save Money On Groceries

 I know this isn't a decorating post. But I figured I'd do one about my grocery shopping strategies because they really save us a lot of money. And extra money means more I can spend on the house, so indirectly this is a decorating post- most decorating costs some money and besides what I make from my blog, this is a way I help support my decorating habit.  

I do the "extreme couponing". Only don't picture the people on that show "Extreme Couponers"- that's not me. Those people are AMAZING and spend dozens of hours each week prepping for their epic shopping trips where they come away with $1,000 worth of groceries that they scored for like 99 cents. It blows my mind and I'd love to be able to say I was that good, but honestly I just don't have the self-discipline to spend that much time on my shopping list. If I had to dumpster-dive for newspapers and create price charts for all my local stores, I'd never stick with this type of shopping. 

I do the simplified version- the lazy-couponer's version. 

Before I begin, let me tell you about my first shopping trip using coupons. It was a few years ago and I had heard about extreme couponing, and some of my friends were starting to do it, so I decided I was going to start doing it too. I made up my shopping list, found as many coupons as I could for the items I needed, plus I added items to the list that I had coupons for, then I set out to Walmart with a big list and a big stack of coupons. I ended up spending close to $300 and saving around $50 and I left wondering what the hell had happened. My friends had been talking about their shopping trips so I knew that the amount that they were saving was way bigger than what I was walking away with- it was usually at least equal to what they were spending. Plus I knew my friends weren't hyperventilating at the cash register and terrified to show their husbands their receipts because they'd spent so freaking much money. 

But after reading some books and learning more about couponing, I figured out what I'd done wrong- I had made up my list according to what we wanted and the meals I was planning on making that week, and then looked for coupons to go along with those items. Instead, I should have made up my list according to what was on sale that week AND that had coupons that matched up with those sale items. Then meals and stuff could be planned around what I ended up getting. 

So here is how I shop now:

Every Monday I go to the grocery store around the corner from my house and I buy 6 Sunday newspapers. (you can check with your local paper to see if you can subscribe to multiple Sunday papers- mine doesn't happen to be one that lets you do that.) The reason I get 6 is because for couponing to really be effective you have to have multiple of the same coupons. So the basic rule is get one paper for every member of your family, but make sure you get an even number of papers so that you have even numbers of coupons for Buy One Get One (BOGO) sales. So, I have 5 members in my family + 1 more to be even = 6 papers each week. 

When I get the papers home I take out all the coupon inserts but I don't cut out the coupons- you don't end up using all of them, not even half, so cutting them all out is a huge waste of time. Instead I just write the date of the newspaper they came in on the front of each insert like this:

I separate the inserts by type- the main ones are Red Plum (like the one in the photo above) or Smart Source but sometimes there are others. I put each stack of like inserts for that date in a plastic sleeve and put it into a big 3 ring binder that I have for coupons. 

I use dividers to separate the binder into sections for each insert type (like Red Plum, or Smart Source) and then the sleeves full of inserts are in order by date in each section. 

I do not bother with the store ads that come in the newspaper. I use the internet to find out about the store sales; it's much easier. (More on that in a sec.) What I will do is quickly glance through to see if there are any store coupons and if so I'll save those in a section of my binder specifically for store coupons.  

Early in the week I make my shopping list by going to a coupon matching site that tells what the week's sales are at each store, and tells what coupons match up with the sales. The site will list the coupons by newspaper date and then abbreviated insert name like RP for Red Plum and SS for Smart Source. So the way I have my coupons organized makes it super easy to find them. (I can't take credit for that organizing method by the way- I read about it in a couponing book I got.) If there are printable coupons for any of the sale items the site will list those next to the items as well and link to them. 

The site I use is Southern Savers and I love it. Obviously by the name, it's for the stores that you find in the south, so if you aren't a southerner and don't have stores like Publix or Winn-Dixie than this site won't work for you. (Although it does list sales for some national chains like Target.) When we were living in Minnesota I used a site called Pocket Your Dollars. I think if you google something like "coupon matching sites for <your state> stores" then you should be able to find one that will work for you and your local chain stores. 

For you gals (and guys) in the south- I've narrowed down the stores that work best for me and these are the three I hit weekly: Winn-Dixie for meat- because each week they have BOGO meat sales that make getting everything from shrimp to beef roasts much cheaper than normal, even without coupons. CVS for beauty and personal products, also cleaning supplies and the random grocery item here and there depending on their sales and coupons. Publix for everything else. For items that we just cannot live without but that aren't on sale that week at any of my normal grocery stores, my husband picks up from Sam's Club on his way home from work. If you're not shopping with coupons it's usually cheaper to get it in bulk from Sams or another store like it. 

For the most part, I only buy what is on sale that I also have coupons for- that is the most important part of this whole thing! 

When you shop like this, it is really different from "regular" shopping. When you go to the store normally without a planned strategy, you'll have a list of lots of different types of items and you usually only buy like 1 or 2 of the same type of item. So you come home with one of lots of different things. 
With this type of shopping you'll be getting less different types of items each week, but because of your multiple coupons you'll be bringing home more of each type of item. Since I have 6 copies of each coupon, I get 6 of each item that is on sale (for the most part- some things are different depending on the type of coupon). Since I'm only buying the sale items that I have coupons for, I'm not getting a big variety of things during my weekly trip, but I'm stocking up on the things that I am buying, that way I have enough that I won't have to get more until they are on sale again. 

And since each week I'm buying so much of the things that we need -even though it's spread out where one week I may be getting a ton of snack items, and the next I may be getting a ton of toiletry items- our stockpile of all this stuff starts really adding up, so the list of things we run out of each week ends up being really small. Like milk, eggs and fresh produce small. (Cause those particular items aren't ones I stock up on so those are a weekly purchase.) 

Buy One Get One deals are my favorite- they are why I love Publix so much because they have BOGO sales every week, and that is pretty much all I buy from that store. Since the deals are buy one get one free, I am already only paying for half of what I buy. Then when I stack coupons on top of that the savings really adds up. I can use a coupon for each item that I have- even the free ones. So the amount that the coupon is for will come off of the price I'm paying on the other items that aren't free. 

Here's an example:
Lets say fruit snacks are on sale buy on get one free at $3.00. Since it's $3.00 for 2 boxes I'm already only paying $1.50 a box. Now let's say I have 6 coupons, each for $1.00 off a box of fruit snacks. I get 6 boxes to go along with my 6 coupons. Again since it's a BOGO sale I'm already only paying for 3 of them. Then at the register I hand over my 6 coupons and an additional $6.00 get's taken off the price of those 3 boxes of fruit snacks that I do have to pay for. I walk out with $18.00 worth of fruit snacks that I just paid $3.00 for. That's .50/box. 

Another deal I like is the Extra Care Bucks rewards from CVS- I only buy items each week that I will get extra bucks rewards for, and I do multiple transactions when I pay so that the CVS bucks I get back from one item will help pay for my next one. I would have to ramble on for a whole other post in order to explain the ins and outs of CVS shopping, so here is a good guide for strategic use of Extra Care Bucks via Southern Savers

A few extra tips:

-Know your store's coupon policies. Nothing sucks more than excitedly heading to the cash register anticipating all your awesome deals, then finding out that this particular chain doesn't allow the same type of coupon use that another one does. 

-You are not allowed to use two coupons for one item UNLESS one of the coupons is a store coupon and one is a manufacturer's coupon. So if you have one coupon for .50 off Yoplait yogurt from Smart Source and one coupon for .50 off Yoplait Yogurt from Publix, you can use both coupons on the same container of Yogurt. What you can't do is use two of the Smart Source coupons or two of the Publix coupons on that one item. That's a no-no. 

-If you get your newspapers from the grocery store DO NOT just pick the inserts out and tuck them in your bag. Buy the newspapers. I HATE when people do that. Nothing gets my blood boiling like paying for a crap load of newspapers I'll never read then getting home and realizing that someone picked through and swiped out all the inserts and I just wasted my money on a newspaper. 

-Check your newspapers before you buy them to make sure they have coupon inserts. {See above tip}

And that, my friends, is how I grocery shop. On average I save about twice the amount that I've spent. Nothing that would leave anyone picking their jaws up off the floor, but it's significant. And it really REALLY helps the monthly budget. 
I think this post goes down in my blog's history as one of my wordiest. 

17 April 2013

Adding Life To Every Room

 I'm getting ready for an anniversary weekend out of town, so today instead of a regular post I'm just sending you over to my weekly post on GoldenageUSA's blog. 
It's about adding life to every room- and it's one of the things I make sure to do when I'm decorating my own home. Come check it out here

15 April 2013

Painted Kids' Bookcase

 Friday I showed you guys this little bookcase that I was getting started on-

I had just moved it from the twins' room to the playroom and wanted to freshen it's look up a little. 

It's all finished and back in the playroom- here's it's new paint job:

I mixed up this shade of gray by combining two different whites (a bright one and a more creamy one) and a dark gray. Since they were all colors I had on hand already this paint project didn't cost me a thing. 

When I first decided to paint this I'd been planning on using some of the leftover peacock blue paint from the dresser on the back of the shelves. But because of where this bookcase sits- on the same wall as the doorway where you come in the room- I decided it would look more fun if I used the blue paint on the sides of the shelves, that way when you come in you can see it peeking out at you. 

Here's how the bookcase looks now that it's filled with toys and books:

The lamp is from the twins' room also. It's not my favorite thing for this room, but I do like how the bright green ties in with the knobs on the dresser that's on the other side of the room, and with some of the art in the gallery wall, so I'm keeping it in here for now. 

I'm so happy with my decision to paint the sides of the shelves blue instead of the backs- I love the surprise pop of color that you see as you walk in the room.

My favorite part is how the bookcase and the tv/toy dresser now share that same awesome blue color! 

12 April 2013

What I'm Working On Now...

...This little bookcase. 

It's been in the twins' room but I'm bringing it in here to the playroom for additional toy and book storage. But first it needs some freshening up. 

I'll reveal it's new look next week. Happy weekend!

11 April 2013

What I'm Craving: Wallpaper

 Lately I've been feeling desperate for some wallpaper. Maybe it's the fact that we're renting and I can't have it that's making me feel like I need it so much. I guess I shouldn't say I can't have it- there's always the removable kind. (Like from Spoonflower.) But I'm really wishing I was free to pick out whatever I wanted without worrying about how to get it off the walls. I keep thinking about how much more complete some of our rooms would look with a bold pattern or color up on the walls. 

It's on my list of things I can't wait to do when we're no longer renters and I can do what ever I want with my house. 

In the meantime, something like this could be a good option: 

Or this:

I'm sure if I was determined enough I could find a way to at least get a little paper up on a wall- without actually sticking it to it.

10 April 2013

A Relocated Table

 Here's how our dining room is looking these days:

Over the weekend we dragged out the table and put it into our breakfast area. 

It has a center leaf that made it too big for this nook, so we had to take it out to make the table fit. 

The reason for the relocation is that, first of all, I've had a different vision for the dining room for a while now. I love the look of this table in here:

But the look I've been envisioning for this room is different. And involves glass. 
I get giddy when I think about it. I'm really REALLY excited to make this vision a reality- and then show you guys! 

But it's far from a reality yet- so we could have left the table where it was until we had a new one. 
The reason for the early move was that I could not take one more day of this room being our main eating area. 

The reason for that is the floor. 

It's some kind of faux wood and it looks really pretty, but because it's so shiny (it feels almost like it's made out of plastic) it is REALLY high maintenance. It shows foot prints, dog prints, food splatters, etc. What's worse is that cleaning it makes it look gross too. I've found that the only way I can clean it without leaving disgusting looking streaks and liquid marks is to mop it with a mix of vinegar and water  -anything stronger than that leaves sticky residue- and then immediately dry it so it doesn't streak so badly. Having two year old twins means that the floor under our table gets really messy during meals, and not being able to just swiffer under their seats after they eat has been driving me nuts. I don't mind eating in here once a week or so when my family comes and we need more seating, but I don't want us eating every single meal in here. 

So I finally told Rob I couldn't take it anymore and we were just going to have to live with an empty dining room until we have another table for in there. 

I miss having that room put together, but it has been really nice having the breakfast area filled. 

I had to relocate something else too, because of this table move:

Because the table is smaller, the bench no longer fits at it. So I put it over along this empty wall in the living room.  I like that it fills up some unused space, and it hides an ugly outlet that had been bugging me. 

I'm really liking these changes, especially our less stressful meal cleanups! 

By the way....today I'm over on Home Decor Diary talking about one of my favorite items to make easy changes to my decor with.  Check it out here

09 April 2013

Mirror Wall With Picture Molding

I am dying over this look. Dying. 
This might be one of my favorite walls ever. 

I've seen a lot of gallery walls of mirrors, but this is different because these mirrors are hung to fit within the grid of the molding. So they don't just look like mirrors hung on the wall, but more like a part of the wall. It's a gorgeous look. 

If you want more mirror inspiration today, come over to GoldenageUSA's blog- I'm there talking about strategic uses for mirrors.

08 April 2013

Doing More With A Broken Door

 It was so easy to rhyme with this one I couldn't resist. 

I have a lidded basket in my bedroom where I keep sentimental stuff that I can't part with. Letters, pictures, random things saved from dates when Rob and I were first together, drawings from my kids...It's where the postcard came from that I put up on my mantel the other day. 

And in that basket I've had this:

A bag of broken glass. It came from a door in our first house that Rob accidentally shattered. The story is here. I'm sure he hates my telling it. Especially now that he's a contractor who's business specializes in windows and doors. Sometimes life can be ironic. 

I used some of it on a frame- {tutorial also here}

-but the rest of it has been sealed up in that ziplock bag for years. 

Then after doing that mantel switcheroo that I showed you guys last week, I had the two glass jars of faux greenery that needed a new home. 

{You can see them in this pic of the mantel before I changed things up:}

Those jars -which are suppose to resemble vintage milk jars but are really just from Target- were the perfect spot to pour all the rest of the broken glass. 

For now they've swapped places with the candle holders that I moved to the mantel. 
They won't stay here permanently- I think I know what spot I want them in long term. The only problem is that spot doesn't exist yet. So for now they are here. 

I've loved having the frame in our dining room that I covered with this glass, and now it's nice that we have another piece of our first house out where we can see it. 

I'm fighting the urge to be really cheesy and put a line of hearts under here. 

Maybe just one.