Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home Sweet Home?

Last Saturday, Husband and I toured an open house on a whim (not an unusual occurrence in our household). 
Monday, hubbs called in sick and met with a mortgage lender.
Tuesday, we made an offer.

Home Sweet Home?

It was perfect. An adorable little condo tucked back from the street, at the end of a cobblestone drive. It had vines growing up the sides. VINES, people. That's, like, grown up. Fireplace. Hardwood floors. Tiniest kitchen I've ever seen (seriously. Those of you who know where I lived in college can imagine how small I'm talking). Grown-up bathtub. Little backyard patio. Room for growth, with just enough fixing-up to make us comfortable :). Best part: In our price range.

It was a dream come true.

Guys, I have to confess I loved it long before I should have (would NOT let myself fall in love, just in case). It was perfect for us, how could I not? I've heard countless times that you should never fall in love with a place until the keys are in-hand, but I just couldn't stop myself.

Recipe for disaster? Maybe.

We quickly realized that everything we knew about buying a house wouldn't apply to our case, since it was a foreclosure. However, the day after our offer was sent in, we had a counteroffer. The bargaining had begun!

We went back and forth a bunch of times, and throughout the process our numbers got closer and closer together, but they never really matched up. It was actually an interesting process, watching "our" house slip further and further from our grasp, and oddly being less and less devastated about it.

A week after the offer was placed, husband and I walked away from our little dream house. It was the weirdest thing, being at peace with the whole thing! We held fast to what we wanted, and when that wasn't happening, we walked away.

That was the kicker folks, being at peace with leaving the bargaining table. In the past, I would have viewed this as "giving up"; we essentially "failed" at getting the house we wanted. But I don't see it that way this time. We learned a lot, and it just wasn't the proper time for us to pull the trigger.  We've prayed a lot about it and for the first time in a long time, we really feel like it's not God's plan for us to own a home right now (Which actually makes sense. It would have been a tight budget during the summer when I'm not getting a paycheck! So excited for my promotion to kick in during August.).

On the other hand, we'd absolutely LOVE to buy a home when the Lord's timing is right. We'll start looking again in a couple months. Anyone you know have access to a foreclosure list? ;) 

Winning!

I hinted a couple times in earlier posts, but our queen-sized duvet cover was actually made from two king-sized flat sheets.  We could have just ordered two flat sheets from a department store, but who does that? Nope, we were cheapies and since this project was also spur-of-the-moment, we went to Ross. We were able to get two king-sized sheet sets (made of nice material!) for what we would have paid for ONE a la carte flat sheet. Winning!

While I was stoked about the deal, I was even more stoked that I’d have scrap “fabric” in the pillowcases and fitted sheets that with a little tweaking could be made into something really awesome. My first scrap project (yes, there were several) was a maxi skirt. 


And before you ask, YES this is a mirror shot (husband was out of town), and YES I'm standing on our guest bed. Our room was too confusing, being that I was essentially wearing the bedspread and all.  Anyway, I loosely followed a tutorial I found on Pinterest by A Small Snippet to make my maxi skirt, and I'm pretty happy with it. 

Side note: Remember back when I was discovering all this cool stuff about ironing? Well, this project taught me one more thing. The heat/steam settings on your iron? They actually mean something (who knew?):


AAAAARGHGGHHGHHGHHHHH!!! Seriously?!? It took like a fraction of a second, too. Ridiculous.


So, had to try my hand at patching. It's not perfect, by ANY stretch of the imagination, but it really isn't that noticeable when you're wearing the thing (side note: check out that wonderfully straight HEM! I'm stoked.)

It's so COMFY, like wearing a blanket around your legs! I took a nap in it when hubby was gone. 


In all, pretty proud of myself. I just can't wear this in our room, because I totally match the duvet. 


Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Almost Non-Valentine's day!


Valentine's day is right around the corner. Since I ultimately decided on a V-Day card that was a little different than this, I thought I'd share with you the best Valentine's Day card of ALL TIME:
Printerette via Design Sponge
The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, after all, isn't it?  How perfect would a card like this be, especially if it were presented with Sweet and Spicy Sriracha hot wings? Perfect for my husband, that is :) 
via Jennifer Cooks (recipe no longer available)
We won't be celebrating V-Day just any 'ol way, though. This year, we're combining V-day with our six-month wedding anniversary (which I think is more important anyway). Because we'd much rather celebrate us than some arbitrarily-picked date.

Happy-almost-non-Valentine's day to you too :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fabulous Friday!


Happy Friday, friends!

I don’t know about you, but Friday never seems to come early enough for me. I love my job, but by four o’clock on a Friday it’s just not always a good idea for me to be grading papers anymore.  I try to save my “easy” work for the late afternoon so I’m not responsible for too much in my zombie-like state.  ;)

Source

Somehow, like clockwork, though, by 5:05 I always perk right back up! It must be the promise of two recharging days of doing whatever we want. This weekend, though, is a little different than most: Husband is off on a bachelor party camping trip for most of the weekend, leaving me to fend for myself (how he trusts me not to destroy the house baffles me every single day).

This could be me. Screencap of video at Source 
To keep myself distracted, I'm planning on tackling my to-do list. Aside from the obligatory household chores (BO-RING!), it's got some fun items as well:
  1. The International Film Festival is this weekend! While I've got NO intention to go (it's really hard to get a ticket and you never know if you're going to see a winner or a not-so-gooder), it's really fun to people-watch. So that will be happening. I've heard of big-screen actors being sighted downtown, but I have only seen one at Ross. And no, I'm not joking.
  2. Lush bubblebath, candles, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the book, not the movie eew).  It's a super bizarre book but I'm finding it really entertaining. Perfect brain candy. Hot Chocolate might also make an appearance, haven't decided yet (it's not like I don't have tons)
  3. I'm busting out the sewing basket and browsing online pattern archives. That's right, friends, I'm planning on hitting my sewing machine hard this weekend. I've got a couple projects I'd love to tackle, ranging from the easy (pillowcases) to the more complicated (a cocktail dress! * eep * I've only done refashions before, not anything from scratch, so I'm really excited to try). 
Doing anything fun this weekend?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pinching the Pennies

A couple weeks ago, Extreme Cheapskates came on TLC (if you haven't seen it, check out this clip! It's ridiculous!), and while I was intrigued at first, I was repulsed by the end. These people were going nuts over saving money to the point where it became an obsession. TOO FAR! Husband and I don't save money for the sake of saving; right now, we're doing it to meet a goal

Now, I'm no expert at saving money by any stretch of the imagination (I'm 23; I have had hardly ANY financial responsibility beyond rent, utilities, groceries, and gas). During college, though, I wasn't working but somehow found a way to stretch the money I was allotted per month to keep me out of Ramen Noodles (even though I secretly love them...). 

Now, even though both Hubby and I have jobs (Praise God!), we're saving to buy a house, so those college penny-stretching techniques are coming back into play somewhat. Here are a couple of ways husband and I try to save money while still doing things we like.

Can't live without something pricey? Try to make it! Don't feel confident enough? Try to find a discount or knock-off (seriously). You'd be surprised to discover how much you can save just by shopping around a little. Just set a price point you're comfortable with and go to town! Case in point: our wedding bands. We figured out the shape/width/color/details we liked and then explored any jewelry store (in person and online) that we came across until we found something that worked for us and was in our pre-determined price point.
Cheapy-cheap-cheap. But you can't tell by looking :)
(also, Not sure why my hand is so much bigger than his)
(it was the same with my our wedding attire, too)

Also, I'll never make a purchase online without searching for coupon codes first. I've had great luck with sites like Coupon Mountain, Retail-Me-Not, RedPlum, and DealCatcher, although the best method is to simply google any combination of the words "coupon code", "discount code", "free shipping codes" "coupons" and the store you're shopping from. I was able to save more than 50 bucks on our wedding albums using the magic of Google.

Need a vacation? Hubby and I are blessed to have access to his family cabin a couple hours away from us, so when we need to "escape" we'll often just go there. Just have to pay for food and gas (and Costco is great for both!).
Other times we just will just vacation in our hometown, acting like tourists and visiting places or sites we've never seen.  If we need a vacation-vacation (i.e. further from home or somewhere new or whatever), vacation rentals are great. Much cheaper than a hotel, and you get more of a "local's only" type of vacation. I've had luck with Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), AirBNB, and HomeAway.

Date Night for less Dollas. Sometimes all we need for date night is dinner and drinks at home...
mmm!
...but other times we want to be fancy.  We've got a discount card for our hometown that gives lots of 2-for-1 deals (best $10 we've ever spent, seriously has paid for itself a thousand times over). If your town doesn't have something like that, try the Entertainment Book, it's pretty good too :). We don't use the card for EVERYTHING, but we will rarely just go out to dinner without at least checking if it's on the discount list :) 

What about the other stuff? Movies, we'll rent; books we'll borrow (or troll the thrift stores!). We have rediscovered board games too, which are fun with groups as well. Also at Starbucks, ordering a drip or a misto rather than a "designer" drink every single time will leave money for the few times you do want to shell out the five bucks for a macchiato.

We don't always follow them, of course, but even just few times a month really help keep the moolah in the account. Then we can use it for the bigger things we can't just DIY :)

What are your cheapy-cheap-cheap tricks for entertainment?

Afternoon Recharge

Fro-yo and Quiet time. Can't think of a better way to spend my lunch break :)

So awkward, but so awesome

Awkward
  • Realizing halfway through the day that I had put my sweater on backwards while getting ready in the morning. Whoops.
  • Impulse-buying hot chocolate online. Six pounds of it, people! I've got a problem. I don't even like chocolate all that much. But OH is this stuff delicious. I don't care that it's seventy-five degrees during the day.
  • Forgetting that the neighbors newly-trimmed trees mean that the whole freeway can see into our room whenever I change clothes if I forget to close the curtains. TMI? Probably. But that's why it's under "Awkward". 
  • Knowing that a student needed to  X-Y-Z but keeping it to myself because I was too embarrassed to tell her... To the girl in PSY-013 lab, I'm so SORRY!!!!!!!!!!
Awesome
  • Joint checking accounts!
  • Winter=Clementine season! I could eat those suckers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (I'm not allowed to anymore boo).
  • Google Chats during the day
  • Great deals on fantastic shoes. Hubby's reply: "Those are... nice?"... Men.
Out of stock, but normally $39.
I picked 'em up for $20. Win.
  • Being able to ride the scoot-scoot around town on the weekends. Seventy-five and clear in January? This won't last forever, but we'll take it as long as it lasts :).
  • Hearing "That's the best credit score I've ever seen from someone your age". Sa-weet.
  • Getting to correct people with the phrase "...it's Mrs." (!)
  • Related: Putting an offer in on a HOUSE! More on that later.
Just a little of the awkward and awesome this week :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Flashback

I was searching through my photo archives today, and stumbled across this beauty:
2008
That's right, folks, this is the first photo EVER of hubby and I. We look like babies. And we're incredibly awkward; hubby's not thrilled this is out on the internet (he doesn't seem to remember it was posted on facebook...!)

(We were trying to be "Couture" like they teach on ANTM {failing, obviously}, which I watched faithfully at that time. Oh silly silly me.). 

We're goofy. Don't judge.
2011

Five things on Wednesday

In no particular order, here are five things I'm in love with today.

One
Source
My Kindle. It was a present from husband last Valentine's day, and while skeptical at first, I fell in LOVE. I can literally have a thousand books in my purse, and I'm totally digging that. And no, they're not paying me to say so (although they should; HINT HINT AMAZON!). 

Two
Rainy Saturday mornings. It's the only day of the week where I appreciate rain as I'm waking up.

Three
It embarrasses me to admit it, but this:
Source


Four
This, in January! I'm a wimp, and I love it.
Source


Five
Him.


What are some of your favorite things today?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Headboard Project, Revealed!

A while ago, I introduced you to our new project, gave you a little teaser, and sneaked in a shot of the final product. Now it's time to show you how we did it!

There are tons of tutorials out there on the "interwebs" about how to do stuff like this, but since we didn't follow any of them exactly, I thought I'd post our two cents :)

First, without further ado, here is the finished product!
Pay no attention to the stuff behind the headboard! Nor to the crooked top line... erm... Might need to fix that.
Detail shot of the pretty fabric I found for the duvet cover. (SHHHHH I Made it out of sheets! Don't tell ;) )
AAAH! We love it so much. It makes us feel like grown-ups :)

Okay, on to the nitty-gritty. 

We started using 3/4" plywood. We had the guys at Home Depot cut it to the right width for us because they have more precise equipment than we do :). We laid out the plywood  and drew half of the shape we wanted onto the plywood. Our ideal height was a bit taller than the board we had, so we knew we'd need to piece a couple boards together.
We continually consulted Centsational Girl's tutorial, as you can see! 

BZZBzZBZZ! Look at the jigsaw go! We cut the shape exactly halfway across the board, then would flip the cut part over the uncut board so we could have a symmetrical curve :)
Once we had all the pieces cut, we braced them together using brackets and teeny-tiny screws (that's the technical term, of course).

Now came the fun (to me!) part. Although we've heard of people using just foam or just cotton batting for a headboard when using upholstery nails, we decided to use both. It was going to be FLUFFY!!!

Source
Now, I don't know if you've tried to look for foam before, but it's HARD! There are lots of different kinds. We wanted something that was thin (that would accomodate the upholstery nails we were going to use. So we used a thin-ish mattress pad. Haha.


We laid the batting down as smooth as we could get it, then put the foam on top of that, then laid the headboard bones on top of both of them. Kind of like this (minus the fabric. That came later): 
source
Then we started stapling! We started in the center and moved to one of the corners...
...then came around and finished the other side.
When it came to the dips on the sides, we started in the deepest part of the dip and worked our way to the edges.
Phew! 
Once the foam was all attached and taut, it was time for the fabric! We'd picked up a great off-white burlap from Joann's (although grrrrr it's on sale now!). Pretty :) I loved the texture.
We cheated a little... since the burlap wouldn't cover the whole headboard we just did the top parts...! We added some more at the bottom to cover the sides that would show, but the middle is still naked :-O.
We stood the headboard up while wrapping the board with the fabric, to ensure that the fabric was attached smoothly and evenly. I enjoyed the view :)
Now on to the trim! We found packages of this trim in the nail/brad section of the hardware store. They had all kinds of colors and shapes and sizes, but husband and I thought that the bronze round ones looked the best for what we were going for.

We played around to see what width/spacing looked the best (4 cm from the edge of the board, 1.5 cm from center of pin to center of pin)...
...and then used the laser level of Hubby's circular saw to make a straight line and mark where each pin would go.
Going along, we hammered in every other pin, then filled in the gaps when we felt like it.
Slightly blurry, sorry. I'm still learning the camera!
 After a few minutes, we got the hang of it, but every once in a while one of the brads would go in wonky. We'd pull it out with the back of a hammer and straighten it out as we went. This picture was obviously taken before the straightening happened...!
 
The curves were trickier, but we figured out a way to get 'em even-ish.
And that's it! 

In other news, I got bangs again.
I think I like them.

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Personalizing the Office

Pretty filing cabinets make putting invoices away more fun.
Decals from Ikea.

It's the little things in life :)
Shared here

I Will Never Use Flour Again

A few days ago, I saw this picture on Pinterest, and about about DIED.It was attached to a recipe for {Flourless} Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies. Oh. My. Goodness. This was gold.
For those of you who don’t know me all that well, there’s not much I wouldn’t do for a good brownie. A brownie COOKIE? Now that was something I had to try.
The best part? After our adventure with crème brûlée (which HINT uses only egg yolks), we had lots of leftover whites that we needed to use somehow. PERFECT! It's a match made in enabling-heaven :)

I played around with the recipe a little bit (she used primarily dark chocolate, and for someone who's "just friends" with chocolate I only was willing to go so far...!), added a couple tablespoons of instant coffee, and reduced the baking time to 10 minutes, and the result was LIFE CHANGING. Slightly crisp on the outside (like a meringue, kind of), chewy-gooey in the middle. Even the next day. And the next. And the next... or they would be, if they'd lasted that long.

Husband and I both had a cookie for breakfast :)

Seriously. Flourless cookies are the way to GO. We are already brainstorming what other flavors we can make with this recipe. WIN :)

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Edit: I'm so honored! This post was featured at Things that make you say "Mmmmmm"! Those of you visiting from there, thanks for stopping by!

Things that make you say:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Awkward and Awesome-Face

:-/ Awkward Face!
  1. Realizing I actually DO need the reading glasses I got for fun. Catching myself peering over them disapprovingly at people like an old lady.
  2. Trying to sign my timecard with eyeliner. Why it was in my pencil cup, we'll never know.
  3. Making fun of husband for losing all of our coffee mugs, only to find six of them in the backseat of my car.
  4. Walking barefoot through a squishy patch of grass at the end of my lunch break, and having to just shove my flats on over the mud and go back to work. And then having to teach the next three hours with muddy feet and a wet grass-stained butt. Apparently, just because it feels like summer doesn't mean it IS!
:-D Awesome Face!
  1. Husband making me breakfast. Every. Single. Morning. Makes getting up all that much easier :)
  2. Reading dates in the guestroom. Cheese and wine and candles included.
  3. Finally getting my new driver's license, after FIVE separate trips to the DMV. And the picture isn't half bad :)
  4. Keeping up the tradition combining Chardonnay and girl talk. India's going to be lucky to have you, friend :(
  5. While trying to catch up on all my "girl" tv shows, I catch husband pretending to read the Kindle while he was really actually watching too. 
  6. My job. It's rad. Also being so in-demand with my students that I have to set up (and enforce!) open office hours. 
Just a few awkward and awesome snippets of the past week :)

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I'm hoping to make this a pretty regular thing; let's see how this goes!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finding the Joy in everyday

Today was one of those days that reminded me very clearly that I am not a morning person. At ALL. Why would I want to get out of bed when it's so cold outside? The bed was so cuddly and inviting, and the little heater by our feet was putt-putt-putting away. Snooze button+snooze button+snooze button=late for work.

I barely remembered to re-brush my teeth after my halitosis-inducing breakfast of coffee and onion bagel (ouch), and even then I left the house and drove all the way down the street before I realized I hadn't combed my hair or put on makeup.

Yikes.
haha kind of...


Even though I adore my job and love the people with whom I work, there are many days (like today) where I just struggle find the joy in the day.

I was recently reading a prayer adapted from "A Diary of Private Prayerby John Baillie, and I was struck by it.

O Lord and Maker of all things, from whose creative power the first light came forth, who did look upon the world's first morning and see that it was good;
we praise you for the life that stirs within us;
we praise you for the earth and sea and sky, for scudding cloud and singing bird. 
We praise you for the work that you have given us to do; 
we praise you for all that you have given us to fill our leisure hours; 
we praise you for our friends, for music and books and good company and all pure pleasures.

Oh Lord, give us tender hearts today towards all those for whom this day is less than joyful;
those in whom the pulse of life grows weak;
those who are confined to bed throughout the day;
the overworked who have no joy of leisure; 
the unemployed who have no joy of labor; 
the bereaved whose hearts and homes are desolate. 
Grant your Mercy to them all.

...

Humbling.

Distressed Dining Room Table

Folks, as I have said before, most of the furniture we own has been "preloved". Some of it has lived with several families before it came to be with us!

One of those things was our ancient dining room table, a decrepit bistro table that's older than I am. When I got splinters from it for the bazillionth time, we dragged it upstairs to our patio and ate on the coffee table until we could figure out what we were going to do (Dining room tables, as you know, don't come cheap).

Then it hit us. Why couldn't we MAKE one?

Source
We {very loosely} followed The Lettered Cottage's tutorial, and couldn't have been happier with the results: 
That runner was an Post-Christmas-Sale score from World Market. Love that store :) We made the centerpiece with some scrap wood and leftover table stain. 

Anyway. This was a kind of spur of the moment DIY; we saw the table on the side of the road on our way out of town and fought a few locals for it... We saw potential in it right away:

Scratches, pockmarks, and holes, oh my!
It had lived with a bunch of college students, and looked like it had been used as a cutting board...? Not sure what that was all about. Also there were only three chairs. BUT since the price was right, we figured we had nothing to lose.

We stripped it with stripping goop (the technical name for it, of course), which totally didn't work at ALL, so we had to sand the WHOLE DANG THING DOWN by hand. Reason #1 that this project took so long.
Before we took the legs off to sand them, too... 
Seriously we spent like a month getting this all back to a paintable surface. Sheesh. 

This was the first place where we deviated from the tutorial we were following. Since our table was a really light-colored wood (pine, maybe?), we didn't think that the whitewash effect would be as dramatic as we wanted. So, we made another trip to the hardware store and picked up a tube of this bad boy:


This stuff was so great, because we could just squirt it onto the table or on a paper towel and just rub it until we got the effect we wanted. Both seemed to work well, although personally I thought putting it on the towel gave me a little more control with the color. This was what it looked like after one coat:


The parts that were really damaged soaked in LOTS more of the stain than the rest of the table, but it gave the whole piece a distressed look that we absolutely loved.

Since we would be whitewashing over the stain, we wanted the dark color to really punch through, so we gave it a second coat once the stain had completely dried. If you don't wait until it dries, you start to wipe the first coat off a little bit.

MUCH better. We had refined our technique by then, as you can see, and the application was a lot more even the second time around.

I wish I had been smart enough to snap a picture of the whitewashing process, but we had to do it fast since the mixture dried so quickly.  I've heard that whitewash should be fifty-fifty water and paint (WATER-BASED!!!), but it wasn't as thin as we wanted, so we ended up using a two-part water to one-part paint ratio. We actually mixed it in a pyrex measuring cup: poured in a third cup of paint and then filled with water until we had a cup, making sure to mix it really well. That would have been enough for three or four tables, so keep that in mind ;)

We did two quick coats of whitewash, making sure to apply it evenly but thinly enough to allow the stain to peek through.  Here it is after the final application.

We just painted the legs with unmixed paint (i.e. not whitewash) since we didn't think it mattered all that much, and we really didn't want to have to stain those suckers. They were a pain to sand, and staining them would have made me cry in frustration ;)

By the time we had finished whitewashing the table, we had been working on the project ENTIRELY too long, so the last thing we wanted to do was seal the dang thing. So we cheated and only sealed the top, using an aerosol:

Since it wasn't polyurethane, we knew it wouldn't yellow over time, and so far it has proven pretty durable (it's been five months so far, and no rings!) 

I love it.

Have you ever done a DIY spur of the moment? How did it turn out?



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