A Time to Prime

So I made a little Goodwill run the other day to treasure hunt and came home with a lamp, lampshade, ONE curtain panel. I needed to redo a window nook in the apartment and since I only found one window panel, I decided to cut it in half.

corner before

Here’s the corner of the room I felt needed a little pick me up.

curtain

I found this curtain panel for $12 that I wanted to use to accent the window. Very nautical.

lampshade

And the lampshade? I love it. AND it goes with the curtain.

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I gathered my items to prime. The lamp and shade were at Goodwill for $7 a piece, the curtain was $12 and the small light fixture was at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for $4. The owl spent the winter in our garden and was affected by the seasons a little too harshly.

owl before

I was granted permission from the boyfriend to paint his sad owl. My choices? Re-paint it to look like a realistic owl, or paint it all one color and make it look like a glorious statue. I chose the latter.

BIN 123 primer

Here is my primer of choice! I needed something to stick to all surfaces, and to block dark colors. painted items

For some reason I don’t have any pics of the items primed. I must have been busy with the Veronica Mars marathon I was watching. BUT after a coat of primer, these babies were ready to paint. The owl got an alabaster white coat, and the lamp got a black satin (can in picture) coat of paint. It’s an indoor/ outdoor enamel so I knew it would hold up on the lamp.

black paint

While I was at it with the black paint, I painted a picture frame laying around for a watercolor I did, and the light fixture got a coat of black after being primed as well.

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Here’s a comparison of the light before in all of it’s crackled and gold glory.

feather pic inspriation

Here’s the feather watercolor I did for the corner of the room. The left was the inspiration I found on Pinterest. I did a watercolor of some splashes and then drew on it with a sharpie pen.

corner after lamp off

Here’s what my facelifted items look like together, after. Like they were meant to be!

corner after

And with the light on.

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So, what do you think? Happy DIY’ing!

My Kitchen Before and After (Thanks IKEA!)

So my kitchen has undergone many transformations since I’ve moved into the duplex in Milwaukee. The first of them can be seen here in a post about cabinets that Matt and I found on the curb and I painted and cut down some countertops to fit (that we also found). I have since painted the kitchen blue, but wasn’t a fan of the serene color in the kitchen. It was meant more for a bedroom or a bathroom. So I decided on Yellow.

paint sample

I decided on Behr’s “Gold Buff”.

blue kitchen 2

Blurry, but here’s what the blue looked like. Not bad, but not for me.

blue kitchen 4

 I think when people take before and after pictures they take really bad “before” pictures so the “after” ones seem that much better. Without knowing, that’s what I did here.

painting

This was not fun. I don’t recommend it. But when you paint, it has to be done. This took 2-3 coats in some areas.

After- Yellow Kitchen

We decided to take the shelves down above the stove and sink and move them to the corner of the room. We were recently at Ikea and for around $15 total we got some bars, hooks, and a hanging basket for organizing above the stove.

Ikea Organizing

I love this little basket.

After Kitchen

We recently got a Reverse Osmosis filter and installed it for delicious, chemical free water. The catch- the drain that runs into the sink has to be lower than the faucet. So after we tried to install the faucet into the countertop, it leaked. It works great now! But there’s those hoses that need to be hid. Suggestions welcome. 

RO Filter

Unsightly hoses…  Small price to pay for delicious water.

Built Ins

I love the built ins. I painted them with a fresh coat of off-white (Sherwin William’s Greek Key) and we got knobs from Ikea for $1 for just 6 knobs. The organizing jars are from TJ Maxx for just $12 a piece, and keep our flour and sugar neatly stored for when we bake. (We bake all of our own bread.)

Found Bookcase

We also found the bookcase last spring when the college kids were moving out of their rental units. It adds some much needed storage. Nothing too fancy, but it works!

Faux Chalkboard

I created this faux chalkboard on a canvas with some black and white paint. First, paint the canvas black and let dry completely. Then take some white paint, and thin it out with water by dipping your brush in water, and mixing with a tiny dab of paint. Repeat until you have the desired consistency, then paint your design!

Chair redo

I found these chairs in the alley (4 of them) on my way home one day this summer and snatched them up ASAP. They are a little wobbly, but some tightening of bolts fixed that. I got this fabric at IKEA for $8 a yard and covered all 4 chairs, with enough fabric to spare for another project.

Curtains from Ikea

I also made this easy, light diffusing curtain with IKEA fabric for just $4 a yard. Note the knife holder and little coffee area we created for extra storage.

Coffee Station

My little coffee and tea area holds sugar, honey, tea packets and a few cups and is conveniently placed above the coffee maker. The tea leaf strainer and a tea kettle were birthday presents from the boyfriend last year.

All in all I think this transformation cost less than $75! I really wish there were an IKEA in Wisconsin… But it’s worth the drive whenever we DO get a chance to go. What have you done to make your kitchen more efficient?

Happy Before and Afters!

Guest Post: Keeping Your Sanity When the World Seems to Lose It: Are You Spending Too Much on Your Cost of Living?

Guest Post from Linda Bailey

For a homeowner, it is easy to add a variety of services without putting much thought into what you actually need to survive. Many of us will wind up with monthly expenses that are well beyond our means. That’s the power of marketing. Companies will make something sound like an incredible deal in order to entice you to subscribe. However, are these deals really worth the extra money you spend per month?
Phone Service
Phone services can cause a great deal of damage to a strict monthly budget. The major companies will try and lock you into a contract over a certain amount of time and will bill you, or possibly take you to court, if you try to back out. If you are trying to get back on your feet, a variety of services exist that will allow you to pay as you go. Prepaid SIM cards for supported phones can be purchased and thrown away once they are exhausted. Programmable minute cards can be used with certain types of services allowing you to add as little as $5 to your usage. This could save a great deal of money if you don’t use the phone often.

Television Services
Home entertainment is another avenue that many people get caught up in. Companies will make you feel like you’re getting a deal to make as much money as they can. Without exploring your options for finding a better plan, you could be paying far more than you need to. There may be a service available in your area that you are not aware of that can save you even more money.

Internet Services
You may think you need 35MB downstream Internet in order to watch all of your favorite movies or chat with your friends on Facebook, but do you really need that high of bandwidth? Unless you have a family of five that is streaming content simultaneously, high bandwidth services such as these are essentially overkill. Even if there are two or three active gamers in your home, half of that bandwidth should suffice. You could possibly eliminate half of your Internet bill, if not more, by downgrading.

Rent-to-Own
One of the most alluring aspects of rent-to-own locations is the ability to pick up a needed item today and make low monthly or weekly payments over the span of two years to pay it off. One of the problems with this type of service is the amount of money you wind up paying for the specific item. Over the course of those two years, you could have purchased three or even four of the item in question. Unless it’s an emergency and you truly don’t have the money to buy a new appliance, these places can be harmful to your budget. If you want a 62″ LCD television because they are “cool,” then you may need to rethink your strategies. Each of these items you pick up will add to your monthly cost-of-living expenses.

There are plenty of services you pay for that you may not have to. If you are on a tight budget, eliminating as many “creature comforts” as possible can help you live an easier life. Explore your options and find deals that can help you save additional money in the services you wish to keep. You may just find out that you have been spending more than you needed to.

Author Bio:

This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.

Saving Money- This Vs That

I’ve been a penny pincher for quite some time. But now that I’m back in school I am a super penny pincher. Like I should wear a cape and some shiny boots. Here’s what I do to save, and the difference it makes. I also use Mint.com to track my spending and set budgets. It tells me when I’ve gone over my spending so I can be careful.

1. Coffee! I love my coffee. Especially now that I’m in school again. I got a coffee maker back in March for about $35 and buy a $11 bag of coffee about once every two months. Organic, twice the size of the regular stuff. About 5 days a week I make coffee for boyfriend and I. Filters run me about $2 every 6 months. I get Soy Creamer once a month or so ($24 a year) and sweeten with honey ($12 a year).

Yearly cost of coffee at home for 2 people: $141

Coffee for 2 people, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year at $1.65 a cup: $1,112.10

Savings: $1043.10

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I love a morning coffee. Just one. Then maybe I will switch to tea.

2. I also ride my bike home at lunch to eat at home. I allow myself to eat in the cafeteria once a month if I’m on a time crunch. If I eat in the cafeteria 5 days a week (when my classes are) I would spend an average of $6 a meal.

Eating at home: The cost of groceries, divided in 3. I budget $150 a month on groceries. Divided by 3 for a year: $600.

Eating at the cafeteria for a school year (8 months) $1032

Savings: $432

3. I try to save on dinner when I can. I buy groceries to make myself a complete meal that’s simple and healthy. We have a lush garden right now that is producing a ton of veggies so we don’t need to buy those. And when I get done with work sometimes (I waitress to supplement income while in school) I will get a discounted meal and a free glass of wine. I spend maybe $20 a month eating and tipping the bartender where I work and dining out with friends once a month $20.

Cost of my dinner spending monthly: $40 Yearly: $480

Dinner dining out 3 x a week: $10 each time $120 a month. Yearly :$1440

Savings: $960

June 30 Garden 7

The garden! Still going strong after a long summer!

4. I sold my car to save money and I now ride my bike to school and to work. Do I need to calculate the cost of the car? No. How about the savings though?

Cost of Bike + helmet + accessories (Basket, crate, crate holder) : $500

Cost of car payment + gas + insurance: $400. Yearly? $4800.

Savings: $4300 

5. Ok, I’m a girl. I get these cravings some of us refer to as “Retail Therapy.” To save money (and my sanity) I go to Goodwill. If I need something NEW, like necessary items, I get them NEW. I’m not that thrifty.

Thrifting once every few months for me is t-shirts, dresses, jeans, and sweaters, sometimes coats. I spend about $20 every 2 or 3 months. Let’s call that $120 a year. I also make clothes like dresses and alter clothes I have to make them awesome again.

What I spend on thrifting and alterations: $120 a year.

The cost of buying new? $480

Savings: $360

painting party 7

I did this post earlier about a dyed sweater I DIY’ed.

6. Decor is never cheap. I was looking around my apartment and realized that over the last 5 years or so I have barely gotten anything new. I got my sofa sleeper at a rummage sale, but it was at an apartment complex sale, and the sofa was in a show unit- never even slept on. New-ish for $40. I made my drapes for my bedroom, I made my duvet covers for my pillows in the living room and painted almost all of the art in the apartment. The chairs at the kitchen table were found in the alley and the table was a hand-me-down. Boyfriend found his desk on the curb during College move out season.

Savings of about $500 a year. 

The amount of money I save a year by being frugal is $7595.10. Can you imagine that!!?? What do I do with that extra money, you say?! I usually just use it to pay bills. But someday I will use it to travel more. Here I did this post after telling myself that I wouldn’t do any more math today after homework was finished!

What are some ways you use to save money? Happy saving!

 

Simplify Life: 10 Hints On How to Scale Back

After being accepted into the college of my choice (Milwaukee, here I come!) I was trying to think of the ways that I can save money and simplify my life for the unknown future. Some are a bit extreme, and I doubt I’ll follow through on them. Some make perfect sense, and will make me a better person, I’m sure. Here’s my brainstorming on moving to a new (and bigger) city.

 

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1. Move into a Studio apartment. I know, I know. A Studio, alone, when you can have roommates to help split the cost of living? Well, I’m not a roommate person. Unless I know them, and WELL. I mean well enough to know my habits or theirs will never tarnish our relationship. I love solitude. And in a studio, I’ll save money because I won’t be in a 1 bedroom, and I will be forced to get rid of the things I don’t use anymore.

2. Sell the car and get a little gem off of Craigslist. This is super risky seeing as how I JUST got a car in February and don’t want a piece of poo that will break down in like 6 months and leave me stranded with no heat, no transmission, or my favorite, no car. Because it’s old and easy to break into. And someone steals it. Thieves. PLUS, selling my new car for a used one will save me like $300+ a month. Which I can save up to pay off my student loans. Oh, the vicious circle of life.

3. Keep the car, and ride a bike more. I’ll not only save gas money, but gym membership money because i’ll have the legs of a mountain climber from all of the bike riding I will do. This site “Practically Green” had TONS of tips on how to live a life with a smaller carbon footprint. You can even take a test to see how “green” you are.

 

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4. Buy local. It may not always be cheaper, but buying local and fresh can save you money overall because you’ll be forced to cook with the fresh ingredients, and save money by not eating out as often. And if I do eat out, because I’ll be in a city full of sweet restaurants, I can restrain myself to a budget. Like having one drink out, and buying a 6 pack for later.

5. Sell my things. No, not all of my things. I love (most) of my things. I have already downsized by half of all my belongings in the last 3 years, and have only kept what’s the most important to me, like things I actually look at and use. I never used the George Foreman Grill, it went. I never used the coffee maker, I gave it to someone who needed it. Somewhere to start? How about selling ALL of the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Books you thought you would read but don’t. (Get them on your kindle app on your phone, if you miss it so much, people.) Old magazines, pots, the 5th spatula you bought, the VHS tapes you have but no VCR. Sell the old chair no one sits in, and the spare set of dishes you never use. And who needs 6 sets of sheets and mismatched pillowcases? Do you really use ALL of them? I don’t. And on that note…

6. Organize. Go through your things, and organize it all. That’s right, all of it. Start in one room. One little room, the bathroom. Get bins, and label them. One for lotions, one for makeup, one for first aid. You’ll be amazed at what you throw away because it’s old or you don’t use it, and how easy it will be to find the band-aids from now on. Once your things are organized, you’ll feel so much less stress on the mind, and you’ll have a mental inventory of what you own, keeping your mind at ease about where things are too. Like your passport and luggage, for when you go to France. Hey! A girl can dream.

 

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7. Don’t spend money on what I don’t need. I will always get myself a little treat here and there, (chai tea and a new book? Sure!) but I don’t need some things that are impulse buys, and that’s where I can cut back on spending, and start saving. Plus I won’t acquire stuff that takes up space if i’m not buying random things. Don’t go to the store because you’re bored, go because you have a list of things you need around the apartment, and stick to it.

8. Stay inspired to keep a tidy home. Read blogs like Apartment Therapy to keep your apartment tidy and “green”, (like this article on 10 tips to stay happy at home) and get recipe ideas for cooking yourself dinner. Watch movies with adorable apartments in them like 27 Dresses and High Fidelity. Always helps me.

9. BUDGET. Money is on of the biggest stressors for individuals or couples. I can’t stress enough how important it is to budget. Budget out how much your bills are vs how much you have coming in. If you don’t have enough to save some money for the future, and for the now, or for the things you really want out of live as a whole, scale back your spending or increase your income somehow. It sounds hard, but it’s not that bad. Sure I can say that, I don’t own a house or have a baby. But when it comes to my life, I’ve budgeted out my income vs outgoing money and figured out the best way for me to live comfortably. I’m still suffering for money mistakes i’ve made in the past, but I’m on the road to financial freedom, and way less stress. Check out Mint.com and go from there. Here’s some more ideas on how to save money from the Budget Diet.

10. Last but not least, Stress Less. Here’s some pointers:

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Don’t you feel better already? Happy simplifying!