Friday, July 31, 2009

Before & After: Thrifty Jewelry Box

Last week I found this plain-old jewelry box for just two dollars at a Goodwill. When I looked at the shape and size of the box, I immediately saw a solution to one of my annoying habits (according to my husband) so I brought it home and planned a makeover.

I have a habit of leaving random clutter on the kitchen counter and it drives Jared crazy. When I open the mail, clip a coupon, or deliberate over a paint swatch, I leave it out because I want to come back to it later... the problem is, sometimes "later" is actually weeks away. I figured this box might serve as a catch-all for my miscellaneous (read: mess) items.

The first thing I did was to rip out the lining and jewelry dividers. Next, I used a healthy amount of Goo-Be-Gone to eliminate the sticky reside that was leftover. Then I lightly sanding the entire outside of the box and wiped away the dust. Finally, I painted the top and sides with a few coats of Benjamin Moore's Buxton Blue. (I bought a $5 sample from the BM store.)

The new color looked good enough, but I wanted to make it better, and more personal. So I created a monogram using Word, used it as a stencil, and traced it onto the surface of the lid. Then, using some white paint (which I already had on hand) and a teeny-tiny brush I filled in the outlined letters and, behold:

A personalized storage box for under $5.00! I hardly count paint as an's more of a necessity... plus I got to test out the color in case I decide to paint another room!

I think Jared will be pleased to see I took his constructive criticism to heart and came up with an easy solution. And since I put both of our initials on the top, my mess is his mess but at least it has a place out of sight.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Fall Fashion Finds at J.Crew

Yesterday I was so excited to receive the new fall J.Crew catalogue! The August issue ushers in early fall fashions that include everything from smart staples perfect for everyday wear, to dainty delights reserved for more special occasions.

Here are just a few of my new-found loves for the season.

Denim pencil skirt

Silk Frances Cami in Deep Rose

Ruffle sweater in Snow

Cheetah calf hair belt

Refined silk cashmere wrap in Sea Spray or Wisteria

Campo Bag in Slate

Jeweled garland bracelet in Rosy Peach

(Sigh) I love fall!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thrifty Shopping Spree

The past few weeks have been so hectic that I haven't had time to finish a sentence, much less a project. {For example, the tile floors in the master bathroom are one step away from being finished... and I am going to get to that last step this week, cross my heart.} So I thought it would be fun to find a mini-project that I know I can finish in one sitting... just my way of getting back into the Girl Meets Home groove!

I found myself on TheThriftShopper, a website dedicated to helping you be as thrifty as possible. You can search for thrift stores near you by entering your zip code or address. I mapped out a few stops and came home with a trunk full of goodies.

The first stop was Goodwill where I found:

Wood jewelry box, $1.99
Set of matching glass coffee mugs, $.79 each
Decorative mirror, $3.99
Iron bench, $10.00

Next, I went to a Good Shepard Alliance thrift store. I didn't have as much luck there but I did walk out with this:

White footed serving bowl, $3.00
I have a few ideas in mind for some of my finds... including a solution to one of my bad habits. And the rest of my finds have a new life, one man's trash really is another man's treasure (or woman's).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bargain Baskets

Problem: I needed a place to store puppy supplies in the living room, out of sight but within reach.

Solution: Storage baskets with a lift open lid.

I saw exactly what I wanted at Pottery Barn, similar to the baskets in the photo below but with a lid. However, I was having a hard time spending $40 on a basket that was going to hold raw hides and Bitter Apple spray... plus I needed two and $80 on baskets, not happening.

So I found these look-a-likes at Home Goods for $12.99 a piece.

The lids keep the dog out and the mess in, and they fit perfectly under the console table.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chicago Trip!

Jared and I are heading to the "Windy City" this week for our friend Emily's wedding (she is actually one of the people who introduced us to each other during college.) Since Jared grew up in the Chicago suburbs he is psyched to be heading to the mid-west for a few days. My first trip to the city was in 2005 when Jared planned a vacation for us and we stayed with Emily while she was interning for the summer. Since then I've been back every year either with a friend or by myself for work or fun! I LOVE CHICAGO! I'd consider living there... if only it weren't so cold in the winter.
Can you be that skyline view from Lake Michigan? I think not.

We've also seen the Cubs play in various cities (Chicago, Washington D.C., Philadelphia) at least once every summer for the past 5 years. Unfortunately, the Cubs are in DC to play the Nat's this weekend... and we're in Chicago. So it looks like our record will be broken this year. What I wouldn't do for a Wrigley Dog at the ballpark!

Emily and Dave (the soon to be husband) will be exchanging vows at the Chicago History Museum on Friday. The CHM was founded in 1856 and is the city’s oldest cultural institution... what better place to say "I do!" We can't wait to see all of the lovely details I know Emily has put into the weekend.

If you don't hear from me for a while... at least you know why! I'll be walking the Mag Mile, looking down from the glass balcony at Sears Tower, or sipping cocktails at the Chicago History Museum on the day of the wedding. Have a fabulous week!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Here's the Plan...

This morning I am sitting in the kitchen with a cup of coffee waiting for yet another contractor to arrive to provide me with an estimate for our patio. In the past month we've had four contractors visit and promise us a quote and drawing of plans. To date, we've received (1) drawing + quote, (1) email with quote, (1) quote, and (1) contractor who has yet to contact us with anything in over a week. I'm beginning to think these guys play games with people and I'm getting annoyed.

The first guy who came over was the uncle of a friend of ours who owns his own company. He was great. After coming over to do a site visit, he left and promised to fax us the plans within two days. The following day he called me, asked for a fax number and sent us a drawing (similar to below) and a quote. It was a little higher than we'd like to spend so we hung on to it while we collected more estimates.

As you can see, we want most of the yard to be consumed by the patio. That was our original intent, until the stairs on our pseudo-deck collapsed on one side last week. [The deck is more or less a 5x7 landing with stairs leading into the yard. No worries though, Jared got deck screws and bought us a few more weeks with the old stairs by securing them back into place.] I figured it was a sign from up above that we should look into replacing the deck while we're at it. So I called a contractor who specializes in decks and patios. He seemed promising and got me really excited about making the deck larger and moving the stairs to the far right side nearest the fence to provide more storage beneath the deck. He even talked about a track solution that can be installed under the decking to keep rain water from draining onto items we store down below. I envisioned a lattice gate hiding our lawn mower and storage box from plain site. Of course, this is the one guy who hasn't called, emailed, or providing any sort of quote or plans, even though he said he would email me last Monday. (Now I'm annoyed.)

Initially I'd heard that contractors are looking for work due to the slow economy and we'd have to trouble finding someone reliable. Now I'm beginning to think they are waiting for someone with a bigger house to request work and they don't want to bother with our townhouse. Maybe I'm being ridiculous, but I think it's reasonable to follow up on your word and provide a potential customer with the information you promised. Am I alone on this? Does anyone out there have any advice to share? This is our first outdoor project so I have no idea what to expect as far as budgets go, which is why I'm getting multiple quotes. I'd love, love, love to have the patio and deck done before the summer ends... but at this rate, I'm losing hope.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Riley is 5!

Today we celebrated a little milestone at our house -- Riley Cash, the largest Cocker Spaniel known to man, turned five!

It seems like it was only yesterday that we brought the little Muppet home...

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

May 2009

May 2009

I can't believe how much our boy has grown...and how much his behavior has stayed the same (we should have known that eating and sleeping would continue to be his favorite activities).

Happy Birthday, Riley!
(AKA Rod Roddy, Riley Cashman, Mr. Jones, Cashman Jones, Roddy, Mr. Bud, Pretty Boy Johnson, Creepster McGee, Big Bob, Bobby Dog, Tiny Tike, Mr. McGillicuddy, Cuddle Pup Jones, etc.)

More Progress to Report

Hooray! More progress has been made in this kitchen makeover! While I completely underestimated how long it would take to complete this project, the progress to date has been well worth the pain-staking attention to detail because this kitchen looks like a brand new room!

Here are a few more updated photos...

And just for comparison's sake, let me remind you what this room used to look like:

Obviously I still have some doors and drawers to paint, and hardware to install, but phew, this room feels so much better.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Before & After: Kitchen Cabinet Sneak Peek

Kitchen Cabinet Overhaul
  • Install Crown Molding: Check!! (Thank you, Keith & Christian!)
  • Remove everything from cabinets, clean (inside & out), and sand cabinets: Check!!
  • Paint Cabinets: Check!
  • Sand & Paint Doors: Starts today!




(Again, pardon picture quality...I've been so busy cleaning, sanding, painting, and reorganizing that I've not had a chance to buy a new camera battery!)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Retail Therapy: Anthropologie Dresses!

Yesterday during my lunch break I zipped over to the Town Center for some quality retail therapy. I wasn't really expecting to make any purchases but somehow I manged to leave Anthropologie with three adorable dresses, yay! I've mentioned before that Anthro is my "go-to" for bridal shower and occasional gifts ... yet I've never bought a single piece of clothing there. Since I was seeking retail therapy I decided to try on a few dresses. {I don't know if it's the new hair cut, feeling slim from weeks sweating at Boot Camp, or just the lighting the dressing rooms... but I fell in love with everything I tried on!}

I left with a flirty navy shirt dress (which I can't find online probably because it was a sale item, $50!) and two other's:

Carambola Shift, $98

Sweet Olive Shift, $168

Head over to Anthro for some retail therapy of your own... the dresses are just the beginning. I think I've discovered my new weakness!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

DIY: "Vintage Flashcards"

Inspired by a few Vintage Flashcard ideas I've seen out in blogosphere... I decided to use flashcards to display my affection for our four-legged friend for all to see. I started with an old Ikea frame that's followed me from my freshman dorm room all through college and into our current house and still never been hung on a wall:

First, I removed the current photos and gave the frame a coat of black spray paint.

Next, I wrapped the old matting with some leftover fabric I've been hanging onto.

Then, I printed out my own "vintage flashcards" on thick cardstock and trimmed them evenly to create the look of an authentic flashcard.

Finally, I arranged the flashcards beneath a photo of man's (& woman's) best friend:

They may not be authentic or vintage, but they get the point across and the whole project cost under two dollars. I paid around .69 for each sheet of card stock and all of the other materials were already in the house. If I ever see a set of vintage flashcards in my travels I will be sure to pick them up... check out some of the fun ways to incorporate flashcards into your home below:

Apartment Therapy: Look! Vintage Flashcards as Wall Art
Urban Debris Artlog: What to do with Vintage Flashcards