Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Temporary "art" for under $5 and a floor plan dilemma

Holy crap it feels like Christmas is already here, even though Thanksgiving has barely passed.  I'm mostly done shopping and in the midst of some homemade decorating projects in preparation for my first Christmas as a wife in a real house.  One thing that's been bugging me lately is the big empty spot to the right of our tv stand in the living room.  Our floor plan is very long and open, and we don't need any sort of desk or additional sitting area, so it's kind of a challenge to keep things from looking like we don't have enough furniture. 

One day I will find the right piece of art or something to go there, but that's not going to happen this year on this (teeny) little budget.  In the meantime, I just needed something to go on the wall and make the room look a little more finished while I figure out what to buy.  Enter Ikea and the amazing $19.99 Ribba frame.  At 20" square, it takes up lots of room when hung in pairs.  Then, one day I noticed my awesome yellow photo coasters and thought "why don't I do that in a larger scale?"

While I had the idea in my head, I went to Fabric.com and started looking at yellow patterned fabric and found the Bella Porte fabric by Dwell Studio (in Citrine).  I ordered two swatches (they're 8" square) for $1.50 and picked up some charcoal gray canvas textured scrapbook paper at Michaels (69 cents each).  Then, I got to framing and 20 minutes later I have what I think is a pretty decent solution to my problem.  I wish I'd ordered a half yard of the fabric to completely fill both frames, but that would have been $7 and I'm feeling cheap this week.

What do you think should fill the big empty space?  Imagine the Christmas tree gone (it's in the corner) and you'll see that I have an even larger void to fill...

P.S. I will be campaigning to paint the room pale gray but I've got another room to finish before mentioning it... I know it's a lot of beige right now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gift Idea #1 - Happy Chic

Jonathan Adler's new Happy Chic line for HSN has been all over the blogs this year and I know I'm far from the first to post about it, but I'm featuring it in the first of my series about gift ideas because the pieces are so fun and stylish (and not so overpriced!) that I may actually buy some this year.  

I'd pick the awesome throw blanket or books for a friend with a new house or someone who likes entertaining.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The 60's are in full swing at Urban Outfitters

I love the occasional mid-century piece mixed in with modern elements, but Urban Outfitters may have taken the whole Sterling Cooper trend a little bit far.  That said, it would be awesome to decorate an actual office with these pieces and watch people's confused looks when they come in for interviews...

I would buy both of those coffee tables, though... and maybe the owl. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I was going to write that in a cool font and it was going to be really pretty... and then I found this. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pier 1, is that you??

Back in 2001, I loved me some Pier 1.  I had lots of unfortunate "global" items in my dorm (think hot pink beaded trim), and pretty much gave up on the store for everything besides Christmas decor and the occasional rug as my tastes grew more modern and less bazaar (hehe)

However, as I was searching for a cheap sunburst mirror this week (to no avail), I noticed a lot of things that aren't bad at all!  Looks like someone hired some new buyers...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"I could do that!" (DIY Yarn Wreaths)

A few weeks ago I saw some fun, handmade yarn wreaths posted by the ladies at Tipsy Society and thought "I could do that", as I often do when browsing Etsy.   Then, my friend Sarah and I went to the Etsy Dallas show on Saturday and browsed all kinds of handmade things (with high price tags) and become really inspired to go home and create something.  Off to JoAnn's we went and bought the supplies to make these:

And about 2 hours, a movie, and a bottle of wine later, we had these.  Our felt flower skills need some practice, for sure, but it was pretty easy to do and I think I may have found yet another hobby.

This would be a good craft for kids because it's cheap to do and fairly easy.  All you need is: 
  • A Styrofoam wreath
  • The thickest yarn you can find (or you'll be wrapping all day)
  • Felt squares in whatever colors you like (or a half yard from a bolt if you want to tie bows)
  • Hot glue gun for assembling the flowers
All you do is tie the end of a looooong piece of yard to the wreath and then wrap it around the styrofoam.  (Next time I'll be wrapping strips of bamboo batting around the wreath before wrapping with yarn so it's thicker.  My wreath has two layers of yarn.)  When I ran out of yarn, I would tie on a new piece and just make sure the knot was on the back of the wreath.  Then, I cut my flower petals out and glued them together thanks to instructions online.  The flowers/bow are attached to the wreath with straight pins because I'm planning to make attachments for other holidays.

Pretty easy, huh?

Monday, November 22, 2010

$29.59 LOFT Cardigans - go go go!

I have one of these cardigans and LOVE it.  Now that LOFT has added more colors to the line, I'll definitely be picking up the gray and pink.

Long & Lean Cardigan

Swooning over... Roberta Roller Rabbit

I think I have some kind of online shopping ADD.  I'll discover a store, visit often for a few months, then completely forget it exists.  Then, I'll see the store mentioned in a magazine and suddenly wonder where it's been for the past 9 months.

This just happened with Roberta Roller Rabbit.  I meant to buy a gift from them last year and then forgot it existed until today.   I don't know how the fabulous, bold patterns slipped my mind.  Here are some of my favorite items right now:

Friday, November 19, 2010

This is for you, Texan ladies excited about fall...

Leggings and tights are not pants.
This is one of my frequent rants.

Crotches can't be on display,
and tall boots don't make it okay.

Whether you are big or small,
lady parts should be covered at all (times)

I didn't take this picture, I'm not a stalker.  I found it online.

I just went to Target on one of the first chilly days of the year and saw way too many panty lines and barely covered rear ends.   I tried not to stare.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I want to live in the Boden catalog, please

I'd be taller, wear gorgeous flats and walk my angelic daughter to school in London whilst sporting a sweet turquoise trench coat.

Until all that happens, I'll take the coat, ikat scarf, the leopard flats and that necklace on the top right.  http://www.bodenusa.com/

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reader Request: Christmas Card photo shoot for a new mom

This week I got an email from an old friend in need of some shopping help for her upcoming Christmas photo shoot.  Meredith and her husband, Justin, have an adorable 5 month old boy named Jackson and will be taking some photos for their 2010 Christmas card.  Here's how she describes her situation:
All of our prior shoots have been really casual, so I'm wanting a look that is a little more festive without screaming "we bought these outfits just for our Christmas card photos". Can you help me put together some ideas for the three of us that coordinate without being matchy matchy?
Meredith has also asked that her outfit have some structure to them, for optimal figure flattery, but not consist of button down tops since they aren't easy to find post-baby.  Drawing from what I learned when working with Zoe D. Photography (see posts here and here) I've created some options assembled from items that are still available in stores right now:

Casual Holiday Party
One of my favorite silhouettes right now is the long cardigan over a knee length dress with a thin belt.  I've been wearing it myself lately and it is SO forgiving.  The open cardigan creates a vertical line down the body and the thin belt defines the waist.  Add some fun jewelry and flats, and you're good to go!  For dad, I picked a casual gray button down since plaids and stripes can get distorted in photos.  Paired with dark jeans, it looks nice but not like he's on his way to the office.  Finally, for little Jackson, I picked a fun sweater from Baby Gap, khakis (or jeans) and a cute hat to use as a fun prop in the photo shoot.

Button down shirt: Banana Republic, Jeans: American Eagle Outfitters, Watch: Kenneth Cole, Loafer: Banana Republic
Hat: Old Navy, Sweater: Baby Gap, Khakis: Old Navy
Dress: Old Navy, Cardigan: American Eagle Outfitters, Belt: Target, Flats: Forever 21

"Oh hi, we were just decking our halls"
This look is pretty casual, but I think it would photograph nicely in an outdoor setting.  For Meredith, I followed the same formula of flowy, but not bulky, base layer and a belted cardie on top.  I added my favorite Long & Lean jeans because they're super flattering.  For Justin, I picked an olive colored quarter-zip sweater and dark jeans and then picked overalls and a striped thermal shirt for Jackson.

Zip up sweater: Old Navy, Jeans: Gap
Striped shirt: Old Navy, Overalls: Baby Gap
Polka dot blouse: Old Navy, Cardigan: Old Navy, Belt: The Limited, Jeans: Gap 

Festive Family Party
The last option I put together is the most dressy and more appropriate for a holiday party.  For Meredith, I picked a fun swingy coat in a deep red worn over a chic drapey dress from Gap.  For Justin, I selected a jewel tone sweater with basic gray pants.  And for Jackson, I picked a button down shirt and the same khakis from before.

Sweater: Old Navy, Pants: Gap
Button down shirt: Gap, Khakis: Old Navy
Coat: The Limited, Dress: Gap, Clutch: Forever 21

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guest Room Revamp for $150

My house is pretty charming... until you're the one dealing with weird chest-high windows and wall after wall of the 'on the market' beige paint the previous owners selected.  Overall, we're happy here and will stay for about 5 more years, but in the meantime I have an overwhelming need to make our home less ordinary.  The hitch in this grand plan is that we recently got some of the worst news a young homeowner in Texas can hear - "they'll both have to be replaced."  The "they" refers to our air conditioner and furnace, which gave out two weeks before our wedding. 

Needless to say, my decorating money is now going to other things.  I couldn't bear waiting months with ugly rooms, so I'm doing what I can in the meantime.  I set a limit of $150 for my guest room since I thought it would be an easy starting point and give me the satisfaction of actually finishing something since the room is so small.

Here's our tiny little guest room before I started (that's a queen bed and it takes up the whole room):

I decided to keep the headboard since it's in good shape and great for reading in bed and the fan is pretty new as well.  The walls were a baby blue and the first thing I did was paint them pebble grey by Glidden. (with my wonderful friend, Sarah)

Then, I went to Ikea and purchased the Kjasja Blad duvet cover to make another set of no-sew curtains.  I found a great deal on a Nate Berkus duvet cover set on HSN.com - $60 for duvet, comforter, bedskirt, and shams.  Finally, I hung a row of Ikea mirrors above the bed (I've had them for 5 years, but they're still available) and added the two DIY pictures I posted about yesterday. 

 And here's the finished product:

(It's hard to take photos of an 8x8 room)  I think our family will like staying in this room and I saved a lot of money that I can put to use in other spaces.  Up next: my office.  Painting begins this week!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The DIY continues: Calendar turned artwork

As I've mentioned, I'm slowly but surely making changes to my house so that it's less bachelor and a bit more stylish.  I've come a long way since August, but I'm far from finished.  It gets a little daunting since I don't have much of a budget to work with and I don't like leaving things half done while I save for each piece.  I found myself in that situation once again as I redid our guest room this month (pictures to come tomorrow!) 

A blank wall needed some art, but I couldn't afford anything that I really like since the entire budget for the room was (a self-imposed) $150.  I had to get creative, so I picked up some 20" square Ribba frames from Ikea and the 2011 Charley Harper wall calendar from B&N.  After 30 minutes of cutting and framing, I had enough art to fill the wall and stay within budget.

I may swap out the prints one day, but for now I'm happy with the result.  Check back tomorrow to see the whole room!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Elle Decor at Kohl's

After N and I got engaged and set a wedding date, I needed to find a store that our family could actually go to for gifts since Crate and Barrel does not have a location in Bryan, TX or Arnold, MO  (shocking!)  Enter Kohl's - they had a lot of  items that I wouldn't mind having around the house, including my white Fiestaware that's hard to find and towels that aren't $54 each (wtf Macy's?).

Once the wedding was over, we ended up with lots of gift cards and went to our local store to see what we could buy.  I was really happy to see the new Elle Decor collection as well as some other home items that look very unlike the usual department store offerings. 

I especially like the marble top side table and lotus candle holder. But I only have $50 in gift cards left... decisions, decisions

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Could it be? Custom fit and low prices - eShakti

Last month I was catching up on the many blogs I follow and came across a shop that was featured on Styled by Night called eShakti.  The company focuses on offering clothes for women of all sizes, even if that means custom sizing or adding sleeves or a different neckline at a small fee ($7.50).  The selection is awesome and the prices aren't bad at all!

I'm not sure how they manage to offer that level of customization at such a low price, but they appear to be based in India.  My hope is that conditions are good for those workers, but I must say I'm a little skeptical.  Has anyone shopped with this company before?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Longing for light fixtures

It's a challenging thing to live in a house you didn't pick out.  When N and I met in 2008, he had just purchased a 1960's ranch house in a decent neighborhood with an updated kitchen.  It's a great starter house, for sure, but a lot of the details and fixtures leave something to be desired.  I can't walk through our dining area without glaring at the hideous "modern" fixture the previous owner selected.  It's awful, and replacing it with something that better fits the space is a high priority for me.  (If only our air conditioner hadn't needed replacing this summer, then I'd have already done this)

Here are some of the options I'm eying right now:

West Elm Woven Veneer Pendant

Home Decorators Whistler Pendant Light
Home Decorators Margot Pendant
West Elm Glass Link Chandelier

Kohl's Bow 6-light Chandelier
Possini Euro Surface 6-Light Chandelier

Lamps Plus Satin Nickel Round Pendant Chandelier

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reader Request: What to wear for Thanksgiving

I love holiday movies like Love Actually, The Holiday, The Family Stone, and even Four Christmases (not my favorite, but I love Reese).  However, one thing that always makes me smile is seeing an entire family get all dressed up to eat.  Perhaps my family is just more casual than most, but for us, Turkey Day is about a big meal and football and is a decidedly casual affair.

One reader is about to spend her first Thanksgiving with her boyfriend's family and asked for some outfit suggestions, but nothing so fancy that she'll look out of place.  I love online shopping with a purpose, so here a couple of casual, but chic options that I think would be great for hanging out with family and eating a ton of food.

"Hi, I'm casual but dressed up enough to show that I care"
I love how sweater dresses look cute, but are as comfortable as pajamas. Pairing with boots keeps things casual but you still look like you made an effort.
Sweater: Gap, Dress: Forever 21, Boots: Corso Como, Purse: Fossil, Jewelry: Don't remember

"I'm here to eat and watch sports"
I think jeggings look fine as long as they are not worn like actual jeans with short tops.  Seriously.  They were made for lounging around and look cute long sweaters and chic ballet flats but start to look tacky when paired with crotch baring tops.
Cardigan coat and purse: Lands End Canvas, Sweater: J.Crew, Jeggings: Forever 21, Flats: Old Navy

Don't forget that I'm always accepting reader requests for outfits or home items, just let me know what you're looking to find and I'll try my best to help out.  I actually enjoy it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I think I'll keep my day job... DIY chair recovering

Most of my friends know that I love me some Craigslist.  I search the same terms every day and sometimes I find awesome things priced much less than they're worth.  When N and I bought a new dining room table, I looked at lots of beautiful chairs and the ones I want are far beyond my reach right now...

Rather than spend a lot of money on some chairs I kinda like, I decided to look for a cheap solution on Craigslist that will serve our needs until I can get what I want (one day).  Enter four antique chairs from England priced at $25 each.  The lines are really classic, but not overly fussy, and they look pretty cool next to our espresso colored table.  However, the seats were a wreck.  The old leather was cracked and ripped and I began searching for the right fabric to recover them (and wrote this post about it). After spending entirely too much time looking at swatches and trying to balance the fabric with the rug and potential wallpaper, I decided that simple is better. 

I found some robin's egg blue outdoor fabric for $6.99 per yard online and set about recovering the seats with some help from N on Saturday morning.  It was not easy stripping 70+ year old leather off of the seats and pulling out at least 100 tiny little nails, but my husband is pretty handy and finished three seats in the time it took me to pull the nails out of one.  I found 4 pre-cut chair cushions made of 1 in high density foam at JoAnn's Fabric and used an exacto knife to cut them to fit.  Then, I just used N's staple gun and attached the fabric to the frame of the seats.  I pulled it too tight on the first one, and the second was a little bumpy on the edges, but I got the hang of it and now I'm proud of my handy work

Nobody is going to mistake this for a professional job, but none of my friends get on their knees to inspect chair cushions and for a total cost of $135, I am pretty happy with the end result. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

I've finally decided...

I doubt many people have ever thought about a wallpaper pattern more than I have.  I was really close to scrapping the whole idea and just painting my dining area wall so I wouldn't have to decide at all.

Then, I saw this photo on Design Sponge and got really excited:

The wallpaper is called Flower Blossom by Orla Kiely and it's still available online.  The hitch in my plan is that it's $95 per roll and I'll probably need two of them. And I have to convince N that it's not weird.  Here goes nothing!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's cardigan season!

This blog is called Cardigan Junkie for a reason... I wear them all the time and at last count, own 15.  This is my favorite time of year because I can wear them all the time and there are so many cute options on store.  Here's a few that I'll be watching and waiting for the prices to drop!

Gap Double Knit Alpaca Cardigan

Gap Shawl Cardigan
Ok, so I bought this in black to wear on my honeymoon but I want the other colors too.  It's so soft and cozy!
 LOFT Raindrop Print Cardigan
Fossil Lauren Sweater (LOVE!!)

J.Crew Tie Front Cardigan

INC Leopard Print Elbow Sleeve Cardigan

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wedding Recap: The Party

Yesterday I told you all about the clothes, and today I'll quickly recap my wedding reception and how I made it all fairly affordable but still very 'me'.

The Food
For food, I faced the challenge of serving lunch for 150 for very little money.  I priced lots of caterers but quickly found that the cheapest route (with the level of service I needed) would be to go through a restaurant instead.  Compared to $13 per person, I paid $8 for a choice of meat, 2 sides, salad, rolls and iced tea.  We still managed to have an open bar, but served wine and beer since it was a daytime event.  We were able to purchase our own drinks and bring them to the venue, and got some good deals by simply making friends with the owners of our local wine/beer store.  We let them know how much we planned to buy and then got really some good prices on cases of wine and beer - they even special ordered our choice of Shiner Bock and threw in all the ice we needed.  Had we not asked for a deal, we would have paid a lot more.  (I also learned to have a little more red wine on hand than white and never assume anyone is going ask for a Miller Light when there's Shiner to be had)

The Cake
I loved our cake and how it actually looked edible.  I'm not a big fan of fondant, which is a good thing when you're on a budget because bakeries charge a premium for it.  We went with a buttercream frosting and ordered a 12" two-layer cake for display and cutting and then supplemented it with three flavors of sheet cake (we got three half sheets) for our guests to pick from.  We decided against having a grooms cake because they tend to cost almost as much as the bride's cake and lead to lots of leftovers.  I got our cake topper from the Mudcards shop on Etsy and it now lives on our bookshelf.  The flowers were from Hobby Lobby.

The Favors
As I mentioned last month, I made my own candy buffet to serve as wedding favors.  It was a big hit and I wouldn't do anything differently except buy more Reese's Pieces and Gummy worms and fewer Hershey Kisses.  It was true that the guests tended to fill the bags provided, so if you build your own buffet for a party, make sure you have enough candy for everyone to fill whatever container you provide. (Those little Chinese takeout boxes hold a lot of candy... beware)

The Flowers
I'm incredibly lucky to have a sister in law who can arrange flowers.  However, if you're not blessed with a family florist, you can still skip the professionals if you're willing to have simple arrangements and buy flowers from a wholesaler.  I opted to primarily use white hydrangeas, which are in season and take up a lot of space (so you need fewer of them!).  Combined with my Dollar Tree glass vases and ribbon, My centerpiece arrangements rang in at about $5 each.  The bridesmaids carried a similar bouquet (1-2 more stems) and mine was a mix of white and green flowers and berries.

The Music
Unfortunately, my budget didn't allow for a band or deejay.  Thank goodness for iTunes.  I made playlists for cocktails, eating, bouquet/garter toss, and dancing and then asked a friend to monitor the computer and make the necessary announcements during the reception.  In the end, I think he did as well as most deejays (except I liked every single song!) but would love to have had a live band.  If you're making your own playlists, here are screen shots of what worked well for us.  I tried to include songs for all ages and tastes.



For bouquet and garter toss, we played "You are the Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne (the intro is really fun) and our first dance song was "Lucky" by Jason Mraz/Colbie Caillat.  For our ceremony recessional, we had the chorus of "You & Me" by Dave Matthews

The Photos
Finally, I can't say how glad we are that we had a photo booth at our reception.  I'm now the proud owner of a scrap book full of photos of our guests and pages they decorated for us.  It's way more interesting than a guest book! Everyone had a great time playing around and taking silly pictures.

I have tons more information I could share, but unless you all want to hear about my system of labeled bins and task lists, I'll save it for emails to anyone who's interested.  Feel free to shoot me a note if you want to know about any particular vendors or how I managed to stay organized.   


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