Monday, November 22, 2010

F-F-F-Fooo-FOCUS, Michelle!

I have not been blogging for very long, and I have already learned a little bit about myself.  I always feel like I have a lot to blog about.  However, when it comes to actually writing the blog posts, one of three things happen:
1.  I wait too long, and begin to think it's old news
2. I plan a project and hope to blog about it...then it fails miserably, so I don't blog about it
3.  I finally decide to blog about the 20 things that have been on my mind, and I do by creating overwhelmingly long and crazy posts.

I figure, when I do the latter of the three, at least I'm writing.  I am making it my goal to blog a little more frequently, and a little less ADDly:).  I also don't want to let the first two things to hold me back! I am writing about old news and epic fails!!  Aren't you excited!  :)  Oh...and that's only 2 topics for one post. It's a start!  Weeeeeeeening....

I like to attribute my fail to the misrepresentation of the color of spray paint on the cap. 
looks like nice solid chrome, doesn't it? 
It seems to be a huge trend right now to spray paint the heck out of decor items to get the look you want.  I just thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and do some spray paintin' myself!  I was inspired by mercury glass.  I LOVE mercury glass!  It's so shiny and metallic, yet delicate, and feminine.   I wanted some!!
perfect example of what I love from pottery barn
The thing that held me back from BUYING some was that in the house we are currently in, I have no place for it...and it can be expensive (in my opinion).  However, while dreaming about our next house, I decided I must have some!  While brainstorming about how to get my hands on some of this dainty mercury glass, I came up with the bright idea to make my own!  At first I thought I was a freakin' genius!  Then, I was brought back down to earth when I started thinking about how I would get the exact look.  Because I know I'm not the only one who has lusted over it, I googled, "make your own mercury glass."  Woop!  Tons of hits!  Most of them said you get the glassware that you want to make into faux mercury glass, tape of the parts you don't want to be sprayed (the outside of the vase/cup/votive holder/whatev) spray the inside with a mist of water, then quickly spray a light coat of silver spray paint over the water. 
not too many supplies...
I was so excited, but my bubble was quickly burst with my results.

If you look closely, the spray paint isn't nearly as shiny as the cap would lead you to believe, and the water dripped all over the place when the spray paint hit it.  I originally thought one of those fake tea lights would look good in this, but I think it would emphasis the runs.  So sad!  Not a complete loss, though!  I think the matte looking paint and this same concept of adding a tea light could work! If you skipped the water step, and instead made cutouts of things like snowflakes or something else seasonal using those new completely sticky post-it labels as a stencil.  It could be seasonal, shimmery, and fun!  I also think it would be a fun project for kids to help with!

Project 2:
Brass tissue box cover I bought at a thrift store.
finished product
I thought it would look like hammered silver...but it looks kind of glittery.  Weird.  I'll still use it, as it is still better than your average cardboard tissue box...just not what I had envisioned.

Yay for that...

The old news is just something I saw at the thrift store, and felt a huge desire to share.  Can you guess what this pretty little brass flower is used for?


An ASHTRAY!  Crazy!  Each petal comes off and acts as a personal, mini ashtray.  It makes me think of Audrey Hepburn, and the time. when smoking was elegant.   I've never had the urge to have smokers in my house until I saw this fun little thing.  The urge quickly went away as soon as I remembered how much I hate being around cigarettes:)  But, I seriously kinda wanted to buy the was only 2.50, and oh-so-nifty!

That is all I have tonight!

Hope yours is great!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas in November!!!!

Sooo...yesterday I got my Christmas/Birthday/anniversary/valentines present!  (Actually, we were discussing it being Wes's Christmas and birthday presents too.  What a sweetie, to give up all of his fun days to get me what I wanted.)  I am SO EXCITED about it!

Before I share what it is, I feel the need to explain to you how Wes and I work when it comes to gifts and stuff.  It all started when we were dating.  He got me amazing gifts for my birthday and Christmas (my birthday is December 27th, so I honestly don't remember which gift was for which occassion).  Anyway. I got a pearl necklace, and a wonderful Wustof knife set (which I swear he got me because he wanted it, and he already knew he was going to marry me! Ha!).  We randomly went on a special date sometime in December on the day he got the pearls.  There was no reason for it.  It wasn't Christmas.  It wasn't my birthday, but he showed up at my door dressed nicely, freshly shaven and wearing cologne (which he rarely does).  He was there to impress.  I don't remember exactly how it went down, as much of my year teaching is a blur, but I do recall a him asking if it was okay if he gave me my gift early because he was so excited about it.  How cute, right?  He actually told me he was getting me knives in advance.  On the day they were delivered, he brought them over.  When I looked in the big box, there was a smaller box that had already been opened, and all of the knives were scattered around it!  He was so excited, he opened the box and checked everything out!  Hahaha!!!  In some weird, unromantic way, I found this incredibly endearing.  You see, neither Wes or I are romantic in any way shape or form.  In fact, if he did something utterly romantic in the eyes of most girls, I'd probably start to feel awkward and laugh in his face.  We like to keep it real.  This is why I am totally okay with not having presents to open.  It definitely doesn't mean I don't get nice things from my man!!!  Nope! Nope! Nope!!!  In fact, it's quite the contrary!

Okay.  So, I'm sure you are pretty curious about what I got.  I got a Canon Rebel DSLR camera!!!  Ahhhh!!!! AND it has HD video!!!! I'm not going to lie, I don't know how to use it to it's full capabilities, but I plan on learning lots!  I've always been interested in photography, and have been eyeballing a DSLR for quite some time.  Now, if I could just get this Linux operating system off of my computer so I can install some sort of workable editing software!  The images are good now, but I think they will be greatly improved with some editing.

Life has been rough because I really want to take pictures of people (and my future babies) and be great at it, but I don't really have anyone to practice on!  We've been taking random pictures of things like our eyeballs, money and hair, but I'm really in need of some new subjects!  If I don't get more, I'll continue getting pictures like this:
Please tell me you could hardly recognize me.  My best version of the "ugliest face ever, GO!" picture.  yikes.
Although this picture cracks me up every time I look at it, it's kind of disgusting and scary!  I want my work to be pleasant!  Hence, my excitement for the holidays when I will have all kinds of unsuspecting, cute, little people most everywhere I go!  Yay!  I also look forward to going to Florida with Wes's Fam and eventually taking stellar before and afters of our future homes!  I'm certain my new camera and I will have a long happy life together:)

If you are into photography in any way shape or form, I'm in need of all the tips/advice you have to offer!  Whether it be about camera settings, editing, whatever...I'm eager to learn!!!  Message me PUH-LEEEEEAAAASE!!!

Have a FABULOUS weekend!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Free Inspiration

I have always been a fan of home decorating magazines.  In fact, I'm pretty sure my first subscription to Better Homes and Gardens was my sophomore year in high school.  I was a rare child:)  Anyway, I was getting bored with my one magazine subscription and was wanting something more.  Maybe something more reliable?  I don't know if others feel this way, but I feel like the styles in the BHG magazine are kind of hit or miss for me.  So, I started thinking about all of the magazine-esque materials I have looked at in my few years as a student taking introductory interior design classes, and teaching interior design.  I came to the conclusion that my favorite "magazine" was the Pottery Barn catalog, which is...HELLO...FREE!
So, today I went to Pottery Barn's website and signed up for all of their catalogs.  It was so much fun that I went to other websites, such as IKEA, West Elm, and Urban Outfitters, and signed up for their catalogs as well.  Some of those stores are kind of pricey for me, but they always carry the newest trends.  I look forward to using them as inspiration in our next house, and finding creative and inexpensive ways to create the same looks for much much less!

For Example:
This table cost $500.  I love it, and I really think I could re-create it for much less. I saw an end table on craigslist the other day for about $10 that looks much like the base of this table (except the finish was extremely worn).  Add a table top, a fresh coat of paint, and a basket, and I think I'd have myself a cute little table!

Oh yes...that's the kind of inspiration I'm looking for:)  Now I realize I could just look online at the exact same pictures, but there is something about having a tangible copy of it.  I can keep it in my purse, or put it in an idea folder, or rip a page out to give to my sister.  Also, it just comes to my door.  I just might find something fabulous I wasn't even looking for!  Worry not, green friends, these catalogs will be well loved!

I'm so excited I think I'll actually be checking the mail!  (That's usually Wes's job:))

Have a BLESSED day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Funday!

There are some things a I just hate admitting.  One of those things is that Monday has become one of my favorite days of the week!  Yes, I've had seasons in my life where Mondays royally suck.  So much so, that I got depressed on Sunday night. (check this out.  Warning:  may offend some and bring back fond college memories for others.  Either way, it's hilarious:
Anyway, because I've experienced the suckiness that I see many of you complaining about on facebook, I truly cherish THIS season in my life:  the season where Mondays are my FUN-day!

One reason why I love Mondays is because it is my time to reflect on the weekend and re-coop, if necessary.  This weekend was Disciple Now for the high school and middle school students at our church.  It was a fun filled weekend. and I didn't have my camera for any of it!  I left it in my car, which Wes was using to tote around a group of guys.  BUM-MER!  However, I snagged this picture from Rachel's (one of my fav high school kids) facebook:)
The only group picture of the girls who stayed at my house...-2 of us.  Sad, huh?
We hung out, raked leaves for shut-ins, went to a ropes course, watched a movie, and learned what it takes to be uncommon:)  The event started on Friday at 7:00 and lasted until Sunday after church.  I'm pretty sure all of us had a blast and learned some valuable lessons in the process.  One of my favorite lessons was when our youth pastor, Chris Highfill, spoke on Psalms 1:1-3. 
It reads, Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.  I will not go into detail about this verse, but if you really think about what it's saying, you'll see that it has so much depth!  Are you delighting in the Bible and thinking about God all day long?  I sure hope so!

Another big event that took place this weekend, is my sister and brother-in-law closed on their house and moved in!  This was bitter-sweet to me.  It's awesome that they are in their first home, but it is sad that they, once again, live kind of far away!  At least it's closer than it was when they lived in St. Louis!
Shawn's "home sweet home" pose in front of their beautiful new house in Marshfield.  I'm sure she'll appreciate this picture of her in her "movin' clothes"  :)
Because of this move, I am now able to finish my house tour:)
guest bedroom
other view:)

hall bathroom

It was very difficult to get a picture of this room.  It doesn't feel small when you're in it!  Apparently, I need a camera with a wide angle lens:)
Every once in a while I allow myself to splurge on something.  This shower curtain was one of those splurges:) you can see, I had a fabulous weekend:)

Now here's what I did today:
~Cleaned the house
~Did laundry
~Devised and put together my table decorations for Friday's women's event at our church (hope to post more on that later!)
~Picked up Wes's lost wallet at a limosine rental place:)
~Went to the flea market, and bought a small, spray paint project:)
~Planned our weekly menu
~Clipped coupons, made shopping list, and examined store ads
~Started making cloth napkins with a partially ruined table cloth
Still to do:
~Finish BSF
~Go to Village Inn with Wes's family.

My favorite thing was going to the flea market!  I found some fun things.  Hopefully I'll be able to post pictures soon!  Right now, my computer is not letting me:(

So, basically, I love my Mondays.  They are restful, productive, and fun!

Now, I will leave you with some lovely pictures I found on of the colors I want in my future kitchen:)  Haha!  I was really excited to find them because I knew I wanted a brown kitchen, but I hated all of the examples that I found...until now!  It's perfect!  I love that it is light and bright, despite the darker color on the wall.  I also love the stainless stools.  What a delightful twist!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Money Saver!

The reason why I named my blog sweet life skills is because there are so many things I have yet to learn to feel I am living as responsibly as I can. One skill that I have not yet succeeded in is keeping to a strict budget and saving money. I feel so compelled to do this, not because Wes and I are drowning in an insurmountable amount of debt (because we’re not), but because we want to be a good stewards (sounds a lot like Stewarts..bahaha!) of the things God has blessed us with. I believe, the more we save, the more we can bless others and share the love of Christ. God has given us a lot, and I don’t want to squander it. I want to make the most of it!

Because of this, I have been on a quest to find the best ways to save money! The other day I made this my facebook status: “What's YOUR favorite way to save money? Have any tips, websites, stores, etc. that you'd be willing to share!? :)” I got a ton of great responses, but I’m not going to lie, there was nothing that I hadn’t heard (and even taught!) before. (Actually, that’s a lie. One of my great friends recommended a website where I could buy $260 jeans for $90. I had never heard of that before…haha!) Anyway, though I had heard the tips before, many of them I have not put into practice. I came to a couple of conclusions that I need to remember as I try to improve my spending skills. Here they are…

1. Saving money is planned and intentional! You MUST have a game plan each and every week/month, depending on how often you plan to grocery shop. I have a huge problem of planning my meals the day of. A lot of the times my weeks are jam packed with activities and plans. Some weeks, or days within a busy week, are not so much. On those days, I have all day to dream up an immaculate, often themed, meal, and I go shopping around 2:00. Last spring, it was not rare for me to spend $15-$25 on one meal for two people. ONE MEAL!! That’s like going out to eat at a sit down restaurant! Plus, we’d always have tons of leftovers that we would rarely eat. Bleh! Also, I make a lot of non-sale, impulse purchases every time I go to the grocery store. This week I found two resources that I do believe I will utilize to help me with my planning. -I heard about Angel Food Ministries in college, and always wanted to do it. They say there is significant savings, and I believe there is, if you just shop for what you need when you need it (no sales, no coupons). However, I had some of my frugal friends say that they didn’t know if it was all that great of a deal, and that they think they could get similar or better prices shopping the sales, like they so love to do. I decided that I do think it would save ME money, because it would save me from several trips to the store, where I tend to impulse by like crazy! For November’s box (the menu is posted online), I already made a month-long meal plan, including recipes and a shopping list to get the additional items needed. Michelle shopping for a whole month in one day…imagine that! - My sister-in-law, Tiffany, introduced me to this website this morning. Her and her mom use it. Basically, they give you specified week-long menus with recipes and grocery lists, for only 1.25 a week! I think you prepay $15 for a 3 month period. This would save so much time, and you can get lists for special diets and for different sized families! I looked at a few of the meal plan options for a family of 1 and it cost about $35-$45 per week for all of your dinners. Not too shabby! Tiffany did say she heard they start repeating after 6 or 7 months. I think that’s totally okay, though! She said she prints off extra copies and keeps them in a binder for future use! Smart Chica!

2. Saving money requires extra effort! First of all, planning alone requires extra effort. Also, it is a lot easier to go to Price Cutter than Wal-Mart, and Wal-mart than ALDI. Get it? But wait, there are tons more opportunities to save, if you are willing to put in just a bit more of your time! My friend Laura left some really great ideas, all of which require extra effort. The ideas include making your own bread, having a vegetable garden (which my friend Jen also mentioned, along with canning those veggies), making your own laundry detergent, and not buying anything “pre-washed” or really pre-anything! I’m not going to lie, a lot of these things sound fun. However, sometimes I’d be in the mood to do that, but most of the time I just want to slap a piece of microwaveable chicken on a pre-made bun with some pre-grown, pre-cut, pre-washed salad on the side! I have to remind myself that if someone offered me a $1.50 to wash some lettuce, I’d probably shake on the deal. If you add all of the money you’d save by adding this extra effort, you’d probably save a ton! - If you are interested in baking your own bread, my grandma swears by this. It is bread that you don’t have to knead, and can keep the dough in your refrigerator for at least 2 weeks. All you do is break off however much you want to bake, and bake it. The article is about 9 pages long and includes recipes for how to use the dough for cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, etc. Last Christmas, I didn’t eat any, but it smelled amazing, and my cousin said she couldn’t stop eating it because it was the best bread she had ever had! I’d say it can be used for sandwiches or a side to dinner, and is made with staples everyone can find in their pantry! If you are interested in making your own laundry detergent, I heard it saves A-WHOLE-LOT of money. I just found this website (that looks super fun…I’m gonna check it out more when I’m done with this post!) I don’t know that I’ll be doing this because I read a blog post that it doesn’t keep your whites as white. Also, shopping for laundry detergent is one of my favorite things to do. I love to mix and match scents! Haha! Instead, I do think I could use less detergent each load. I have the problem of forgetting loads in the washer, so I have to wash everything twice! Eek! (surely, some of you have done that before, right!?) I really need to get better at that!

3. Saving money requires sacrifice! The best examples I can think of is eating leftovers for lunch, and not eating out when we have food at home and time to prepare it. This shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but some leftovers just aren’t very good! Now I admit, some leftovers are better the second day (like roasts, soups, and stews) but the rest is just yucky to me. Maaaeeerrr! As far as eating out goes, sometimes I just CRAVE things. My sister says I am going to be the most finicky pregnant lady ever because my eating habits are already weird. Seems petty, but this will probably be one of the biggest obstacles for me, because I don’t HAVE to give it up. You know what I’m saying?

4. Saving money requires the mindset that every penny counts! My parents have been trying to pound this idea into my head since I was born. When I was in college, I feel like I was pretty good. However, since dating my dear sweet Wesley, who just wants me to be happy, my skills have been lost! For example, when I would eat out in college, I would get the absolute cheapest thing I could that would still meet my needs (and wasn’t appalling), whether that meant al a carte at a Mexican place, or sticking purely to the dollar menu when eating fast food. Now I’m like, “that sounds good, and it’s only a few dollars more!” Ugh! It really does add up!

5. I can become skilled at saving money! –Some of the things I that have been recommended to me, I have tried at one point or another and just didn’t like it or didn’t stick to it. I see some people who are awesome at stretching their dollars, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they have a lot of practice. Also, I am not aware of a lot of food prices yet, so I don’t know if I’m getting a good deal or not. I hope to get better, so this doesn’t feel like such a burden!

6. Saving money will require a change of mindset and lifestyle for me. Wes and I love our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants lifestyle. It’s like, what, honey?…It’s a Tuesday night and your craving sushi!? Me too! Let’s go! We also like to go to coffee shops. On weeknights we like to go do our bible studies (because it’s hard to stay focused at home) or hang out with friends. On weekends we go (generally before church) because we are silly and stay up RIDICULOUSLY late on the weekends. BUT, we LIKE it this way. We LOVE our freedom, and we kind of want to stay like this until we have kiddos and have to have a routine for their benefit. I like to think that when we have kids I’ll automatically get better at budgeting because our lives will be more regimented. Do you think that’s true? I may be fooling myself…

I have the knowledge, now I just have to put it into practice! The next few weeks I am going to focus on making meal plans, and finding coupons and sales for household items, hygiene items, and fun things that we like to have but don’t need…like juice (my man loves him some juice! But the good stuff is pricey!). I am not yet to the point that I am willing plan my meals around the foods that are on sale. Maybe soon, though!   I would also like to reduce the amount of times we eat out in a week, and only go to places where we have coupons.  There are frequently buy one, get one coupons in the mail.

Some of my personal tips for saving money include:
• My mom-in-law taught me this: Buy lots of terrycloth bar cloths and microfiber rags and use them as your dishtowels and in the place of paper towels (for spills and other cleaning). We buy them at SAMs and always have a massive supply of clean ones, which is awesome and convenient! Plus they last a long time and can be bleached! Also, I know dish cloths and sponges weird some people out because they are so germ-filled, but with this method, you can use 5 a day, and it’s all good!
• Keep your eye on coupons and sales and stock up on items that you know you will need in the future. In the past Wes and I just stock up on things like soap, toothpaste, and contact solution at SAMs Club. It keeps us from having to shop all of the time, but I think I could save a lot more, if I simply bought those items continually in smaller amounts. (just like my momma does!)
• I haven’t used this yet, but I’m pretty sure you can download coupons onto your Dillon’s card and they are applied to your purchase when you swipe your shopping card. How cool is that! (if I’m wrong, please clarify!)

Have a great day!