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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sneak Peak: Paper Mache Candleholders

    Since I'm all about the paper mache these days, I started thinking of other objects I could paper mache around the house. Be forewarned: paper mache can become addicting! I decided I would love to have some paper mache candleholders. Luckily, I had just the ones!
            I decided from the beginning that I would not paper mache the inside rim of the candleholder, but leave it as is in order to prevent any burning, etc. Since I'm really into paper mache this summer, I've been storing the mix ready to go in a mason jar. I also keep the book I used from the paper mache lamp I wrote about in my craft cabinet so I can use it for other projects.
          The candleholder needs one more round of paper mache, but I  couldn't resist sharing a sneak peak with you all for what's to come! Stay tuned, it will be showing up in my Etsy shop, Thrifty Vintage Girl soon!
          
              This was a project my husband and I enjoyed working on, and I am already looking forward to the next round of candleholders. Stay tuned for the finished project!!! Hopefully this inspires you to be creative and to resist the urge to splurge on something just to save yourself the time.                 
  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kindle Case Creation

  I have a confession: I am a bit of a reader. I could spend entire days holed up somewhere reading. My carry-on bags used to be filled to the brim with books. Perhaps this is why my parents bought me a Kindle two Christmas' ago. Since the purchase of my Kindle, everyone else in my family has jumped into the world of all things Kindle.
  With an abundance of cases and accessories on the market for these clever eReaders, I found myself overwhelmed by which case, color, etc. to choose. While having a silicone slip for this little device has come in hand (especially on my last beach vacay), I found that the most absolute perfect case yet is the one my husband made me. Not only is he a saavy shopper (see yesterday's blog post on our farmhouse sink), he's also very creative.
  So....one day he surprised me with this:
              My own felt Kindle case, complete with an owl on the front. I have a small thing for owls...
                               The back of the case....yes, he did embroider the word "LOVE". And why wouldn't he top it off with a vintage red button?
                                                               Zebra print inside
    I really love all the detail, colors and extra touches like the vintage button and detailed owl. I don't think I've ever received so many compliments on a case for something. He definitely inspired me to start making Kindle cases and I made him a burlap one with a hand cut-out Africa (where we met) and embroidery. I'm still feeling a little sore about this next part...but I'm trying to be a good sport...he left the case within reach of our 8 month old Labrador and she went to town on it. Of course he still carries it, all frayed. He explained to me that it's burlap and simply looks more "rustic".
     Aside from his burlap Kindle case, I've been working on some for friends. All you need are a few pieces of felt, buttons, a thick needle and embroidery thread (all available at your local craft store). This is a very inexpensive project and is definitely more enjoyable than a standard one that you can order online (not to mention more economical).
      Craft on and be thrifty!          

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why it pays to shop around...

Eight months ago we moved into our 1956 home. And so began the task of room-by-room makeovers. Since we both work in education, I knew we were in for the long haul, and that nothing, outside of the essentials, would be a "quick fix". Being a "Type A" person, this home has definitely worn at my patience level and helped me to slow down a bit. I'm starting to realize that it's okay to go to bed with a kitchen ripped up or a bathroom under construction. Since the beginning, we have always prioritized with renovating the kitchen since that's where we spend most of our time. We began with the task of painting walls and a feature cabinet. Next, we updated some appliances. At the same time as the updating (and delivery) of the new appliances, we painstakingly ripped out an old linoleum floor. This is a task I pray I NEVER have to do again. We spent hours of scraping, ripping our hands and knees up, to reveal a brown colored cement. This was an incredible 'plus' as we are in love with concrete floors. There was no need to paint or glaze, we could simply just enjoy the exposed, rustic colored concrete. Giving our backs, knees, and hands a break, we waited a few months and just refinished our kitchen cabinets. Before, the cabinets were a plain white with brass handles. Plain white anything does not work for us with all the cooking and entertaining we do (oh and two black, furry pups). I'll write more about the cabinets later, but I am so excited to share our newest find. I am bursting with excitement over my husband's find. Our next step in the kitchen is: countertops (butcher block) and a new sink and faucet.  Here's a picture of what we have now:
                 I find that I can scrub this thing all day and it still looks dirty! The thing that drives me most crazy is the leaking faucet (chalk it up to old plumbing?). With as much as we entertain and cook, it's a really tiny sink for doing dishes, especially bigger pieces. We've made it work, and I'm grateful to have a sink, but I have to admit that I'm pretty stinkin' excited about the new addition soon to be installed. Well, here it is:
              Awaiting to be installed!!! I am so grateful to have such a saavy husband. He started researching farmhouse sinks like crazy and found this one pop-up on Craigslist last night. We had found one at Ikea priced around $350.00. My husband was even able to talk the seller down on her asking price by offering her cash and an immediate pick-up. So, do you guys want to know what a deal we scored??? When my husband picked it up, the sink had it's original pricetag on it for $1500.00. The owner had bought it to renovate her house and hadn't had the chance to install, so decided to sell. My husband walked away with a brand-new, never-been-used farmhouse sink for $250.00!!! I am pretty sure we are one beyond-blessed couple today!
        I don't think I need to say anything other than: it PAYS to shop around!                  

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lamp Makeover...

   After being married for just a little over three years, I am shocked at just how much our personal style has changed. Blame it on the new (old) house or the fact that as I registered for our wedding I was on the fast track to graduating college early, working and interning and CLEARLY got scanner happy at the department stores. Either way, our styles have changed and instead of the: "out-with-the-old" mindset, I am making every effort to repurpose/remodel what I already have.
   This weekend, we spent some time perusing one of our favorite stores for inspiration. Most items in this store are home-made items or vintage, which is why I'm always shocked when I look at the ridiculous price tags. Typically, we leave the store (which I will refuse to name since I don't believe in throwing places "under the bus" unless they are unethical) and say, "We could make ______," but never do. I was tired of talking about fabulous projects and after checking out a couple of the store's lamps and chandeliers, I decided we should at least attempt one of these makeover projects. I knew exactly what I wanted to practice on-one of our lamps!
         This is a before picture of the base of one of our lamps. It's matching shade was a simple cream material. I found myself looking at it everyday thinking of all the ways I could "spice" it up or make it look more appealing.
       Taking inspiration from the store, I decided to paper mache the base of the lamp using an old paperback book. My husband and I found all sorts of inspiration flipping through the book, Playing With Books (Where to buy...), and I realized with the abundance of books sitting on our shelves at home, we should start putting them to good use!
           For the lamp shade, we cut and wrapped burlap cloth. In the past, we have used Hobby Lobby for all of our burlap projects. However, a visit to the garden department of Home Depot revealed a cheaper option: burlap sacks. I washed and dried the sack first. There is an abundance of ways you could cover the shade with burlap (trust me, I'm still considering different options). For now, I'm going for the rustic look.
                  I set this lamp up in our smaller guest room on a vintage wood table. We often use this guest room for a reading room and I am now officially inspired to begin my next project for this room---so stay tuned!
   Remember: something fabulous with an equally fabulous price tag at the mall can most often times be recreated at home or found for a better price in an antique of thrift store. Shop around and don't be afraid to get crafty!                                                                                  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Planning meals: Saving money and trying new dishes...

Tired of eating the same thing for dinner every night?? Finding yourself stuck in a rut, cooking your "go-to" meals week after week? Time to invest a few extra minutes on meal planning! After my husband and I decided to cut red meat out of our diets, I have found myself pouring more time into cook books and healthy eating magazines trying to find inspiration for eating healthy. Chicken and fish can be rather boring after a while!
Towards the end of this past school year, we found ourselves making our weekly Trader Joes runs without much meal planning and grabbing the essential staples needed to make our favorite dishes. This frustrated me, a cooking examiner for www.theexaminer.com/phoenix, and I decided it was time to get back on track. I headed to the store in search of the newest Martha Stewart Living, Every Day with Rachael Ray and Real Simple magazines. Additionally, I took to one of my favorite cooking websites: www.eatingwell.com. I have found that flipping through my favorite cooking magazines and browsing my most favorite cooking websites have led to an abundance of inspired meals. I pulled out my favorite meal-planning notepad and began to plan my next week of meals.
       As you can see, this is a Sunday-Monday planning notepad. I found this particular one at my local Michaels. I simply plan out my meals from breakfast to dinner, but make sure to note if we have dinner or lunch plans out on a particular day so as not to buy groceries for that meal.
                                                   Some of my sources of inspiration...
After consulting the experts, I modified recipes, swapping out ingredients to make sure to utilize items such as vegetables we already had available from our garden. I finished planning a week of meals for my husband and myself and a few visitors in between and set out for my favorite stores. A week of planning meals versus "grab-n-go" at the store led to me spending almost half as much on groceries. It pays to plan!!                                    

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Refill, anyone?

For those of you living in the desert, like myself, you understand the need for hydration. I find myself paranoid about how much water I'm drinking when the temperatures start spiking above 100 degrees. It's incredible how quickly your body can crash when you are not drinking enough water!
  When I first moved to Arizona from the Midwest, I found myself going through massive amounts of water bottles. I'll be the first to admit that I was not the "greenest" person growing up. It took a trip to Africa followed by a couple of trips to Haiti for me to make some big life-changes. After seeing sights like this first hand, I can't help but look at plastic water bottles in a different light.
        This picture was taken in Haiti, and if you look closely you can see massive amounts of PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES!!! Taking trips to Haiti and Africa really challenged me to start using refillable water bottles. I started thinking how many bottles of water I was drinking a day, especially trekking around ASU's campus in the blistering heat, and I was going through well over 500 water bottles A YEAR!!
    So, in my effort to really go "green", I try to only purchase a water bottle in an absolute emergency. I found that carrying my own bottles keeps me accountable for how much I am drinking throughout the day as well. There are so many types of water-bottles, so choose what works best and is most portable for you. My personal favorites are the Platypus water-bottles that come in a variety of sizes and colors.
   My friends always tease me that I'm carrying around my IV drip-bags. These are my favorite because they are wonderful for traveling and throwing in a purse or handbag. Platypus are dishwasher safe as well! I found mine at REI. My husband is not a fan of the IV bag look, and he prefers bottles that actually fit into the cup holder in his car.
            These are Contigo and Nathan water-bottles, also available at REI and other outdoor stores. In addition to finding a perfect re-usable water-bottle for you, try re-usable coffee cups as well. I suppose I was quite the litter-bug when I consider not only how many water-bottles I was blowing through a year, but how many plastic coffee cups I used as well. (This is where I start cringing). After I started working for Starbucks and they released their iced coffee plastic cups, I immediately purchased one for my husband and I. We learned the hard way that these were not dishwasher friendly, but have since purchased coffee cups from Le Grande Orange, our daily coffee spot. Bringing in your own coffee cups at LGO, whether iced or hot, is the way to go since they refill for $1.00!
       Being regulars, we keep a couple of these stocked in our cabinets so we can share with guests as well!
   Enjoy your summer, stay cool and remember to make the effort to go green and opt for your re-usable bottle or cup!                                                          

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Growing together in Arcadia

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined moving into a home on a half-acre lot in Phoenix. Beyond those dreams, I couldn't have believed that the street would be lined with fruit trees, gardens, and neighbors with chickens and goats. Between December and January when our citrus trees were filled to the brim with lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, neighbors began to meander over with reusable grocery bags wanting to trade goods. I was a bit shocked when neighbors started showing up with bags of vegetables and fresh trays of eggs. I'll admit my first thought was, "Have I landed in Iowa? Is this for real?" 
   Moving to Arizona from the farming Midwest left me wondering if I would ever visit a fresh farmers market again, or encounter the kind of people that wander over asking for a cup of sugar. Who knew that it would simply take a move to Phoenix for me to frequent Saturday morning farmers markets and to start swapping fruits and pecans for eggs and other fruits and vegetables. My mind was on jet-speed thinking of all the possibilities and new ventures we could embark on. 
  Throughout winter and early spring we made sure to make the most of the fruit and pecans (stay tuned for more stories), but my most favorite swap so far has been from my neighbor across the street. Our neighbor's Peach Tree was weighed down in an abundance of the fruit. He invited neighbors to bring bags and to come and pick as much as we liked. I have not enjoyed such a delicious peach since my summertime trips to the Gulf that took us through Georgia. The husband and I began right away to start making fresh peach jam. Good thing we have been storing the vintage Ball mason jars in preparation for canning season! In an attempt to give back and show thanks to our neighbors, we have been swapping fruit for jams. 
     One of our many pails of peaches...
                 Cooking them down for the jam...
       Fresh peach jam as well as fresh strawberry jam. We've definitely been in full-blown canning mode at our house! 


   Challenge yourself to find neighbors to garden or swap items with. You'd be surprised at how many people are looking to start a garden or to share their produce!                                                          

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Composting: A new adventure

I remember being a little girl visiting my grandparents and always wanting to play in my Grandpa's garden. Off to the side of his garden he had a large "box" full of left-over food and plants. I never liked to go near "the box" since there always seemed to be small creatures inside of the box and bees swarming around it. "The box", as you have probably realized, was a composter. Imagine my lack of enthusiasm when my husband suggested we get a composter for our garden. Instantly I had images of me carrying left-overs to a "box" swarming full of flies, bees, and other small critters. However, I was informed that while the original "boxes" still exist, there are also newer models of composters that are less traumatizing for those of us that find the idea of small creatures less than appealing. A trip to Costco produced one large, green composter for our garden.
As you can see, this is a pretty low-maintenance composter. No swarming flies or bees or nasty little creatures. This is definitely my kind of composter. In addition to gracing our garden with the composter, we decided to add a small compost pail to our countertop. This makes it easy to transfer leftovers straight from the plate into the pail. We found a brilliant, red compost pail at World Market. 
  I have to say, after one week of composting, I am in shock. Composting definitely keeps me accountable as to how much food I'm wasting, and I've begun to make a genuine effort to make sure we waste less, and save more!