Thursday, June 28, 2012

How You Feelin'? hot, Hot, HOT!

{Have you entered the Fiscally Chic giveaway on Cornflake Dreams yet? $50 can be yours for new bright and happy pillow covers!}

Striped Turkish bath towel (Etsy seller Turkish Towel Village), Old Navy flip flops, J. Crew polka dot bikini top and bottom, TOMS Kathmandu 301 sunglasses, Beach bag (Etsy seller Banyan Hippo)

Oh boy! It is HOT in Chicago! If it wasn't so darn hot, I'd consider going to the beach. But then I'd probably run to for the A/C in about 20 minutes. Speaking of, we had a little technical difficulty with our A/C and I was praying we wouldn't have to call and get it serviced on the hottest day of the summer. All is well for now, so fingers crossed it keeps working.

By the way, I saw that solid colored Old Navy flips flops (which are usually a bargain at $4/pair) are going to be $1 in stores on Saturday! [That excludes wedges, embellished, printed, and leather styles. 5 per customer.] So if you lost or broke your last pair of flippy floppies....stock up! These are also great as part of a bridesmaid gifts or summer wedding favors.

Do you have anything exciting going on this weekend? We have a neighborhood party on Saturday and I plan on baking some blueberry rhubarb cobbler. Have a great Friday!

Pin It

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm Dyeing to Tell You

As I hinted on Monday and posted to Facebook, it's time for another DIY project! While sorting through clothes to give away over the weekend, I found a white cardigan stashed with other sweaters beneath our bed.

It still fit me fine, but was a little worse for wear. There were several food stains, most likely balsamic vinaigrette.

And, unfortunately, some pit stains. I think I've tried bleaching this sweater, but clearly didn't do a very good job at it.

So I decided to Martha Stewart-MacGuyver it. For $1.50 (after a Michaels coupon) I had a package of Rit fuschia fabric dye. I considered orange or yellow, but ultimately went with my

If you're looking to dye a dingy sweater using the bucket method, gather the following things:
  • Dingy sweater
  • Gloves rubber
  • Grungy clothes to wear (white T-shirts need not apply)
  • Food service bucket
  • Something to stir with
  • Hot water
  • Sink (preferably not the stainless steel sink mounted underneath your granite countertops)
  • 1 cup salt (for best results) if you're dyeing cotton

The Rit package also has instructions for using the stovetop and washing machines. Pick the best method for you and read all instructions before starting.

Once I felt confident in my review of the instructions, I filled my bucket with hot water. The instructions say 140* so get it steaming!

While soaking my sweater in the hot water, I pre-dissolved the dye. To two cups of hot water, I added the dye and salt. Give it a good stir, making sure everything is dissolved, and add that to the bucket of hot water.

I dropped my sweater back in the bucket of dye and proceeded to stir it for about 15 minutes.

Once 15 minutes was up (the instructions say 10 to 30 minutes or until desired color is achieved), I rinsed out my sweater. Starting with warm water then gradually cooler until the water ran clear. 

After rinsing as best I could, I washed my sweater in warm water. The water from the washing machine still seemed a little pink, so I ran the rinse and spin cycle with the sweater 2 or 3 times more. Afterwards, I partially dried the sweater in the dryer, letting it air dry the rest of the way.

Lo and behold...the stains are gone! Or at least hidden by the pink :)

I wore my "new" sweater to work on Tuesday paired with my favorite pencil skirt, black patent pumps, and girly accessories. I knew a pink sweater was the right decision when a coworker asked where I got it. I shared my little secret and now she's contemplating what to dye of her daughter's clothes.

And let me tell you something, it's tough taking outfit pictures! John and I took all sorts of shots and figured this one was pretty decent. I don't think I'll be posting other outfits on the regular.

Have you dyed anything recently? I'm considering sprucing up some dingy white button down shirts and jeans.

PS - There's currently a $50 giveaway for Fiscally Chic on Cornflake Dreams! Swing by Jillian's blog to enter!

Pin It

Monday, June 25, 2012

A June Weekend Update

Hi, there! Did you have a relaxing weekend? Mine was part busy and part relaxing. Busy since I was sewing lots of pillow covers! My green ombre pillow cover was featured in an Etsy Finds email last week, so there were orders to fill and inventory to replenish. Especially because I'm having a giveaway on Jillian's blog, Cornflake Dreams! Please swing by for all the details!

As for relaxing, we tried a few new beers. One being New Beligium's Tart Lychee sour beer as part of their Lips of Faith series. Some of my favorite things about craft beer are the bottles and labels. And the Lips of Faith beers don't let me down. Even better that their beers are tasty. This one was a little sweet, a little sour, and had a hint of cinnamon at the end.

In the effort to keep a semi-clean house (I'm not Martha Stewart or minimalist), I keep a bag in my closet for donations. I don't have a strict one-in-one-out policy, but when I'm looking for something in my closet or dresser, I might find something I don't wear anymore. My bag was pretty full, so I asked John if there was anything else he wanted to give away. Between some of his items and a few other randoms from around the house, I donated two full bags to Goodwill. Hello, tax deduction!

Finally, I was feeling a little crafty on Sunday. But you'll have to wait for the details until next time ;)

Pin It

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mojito Maven

CB2 cocktail shaker, TOMS burlap strappy wedges, Gap green striped dress,
Kate Spade chandelier earrings, J. Crew braided rope belt

If given the option, the mojito is definitely my drink of choice. Especially in the summer. Make it classic or contemporary (ginger or lavender, anyone?). I'll drink them both. So when John's parents gave us some mojito mint for our garden, we were more than happy to accept it. And our course made sure to plant it in a pot :)

Now that we have a voluptuous mint plant, we've made plenty of mojitos.

Lucky for you, they're super easy to make!

Classic Mojito
Recipe is for one drink. Scale accordingly.
If you have a muddler, and want to be fancy, you can follow this recipe.

A bunch of mint (about 8 leaves)
1 shot white rum
1 shot lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
Ice cubes, about 4 big ones
Club soda

Add the mint, rum, lime juice, sugar, and ice cubes to a cocktail shaker.

Shake for about 30 seconds.

Pour everything, without straining, into a glass.

Top with club soda.

Sit back and enjoy with your favorite summer meal!

 Happy Friday!

Pin It

Prepping for our Patio

Last week, Marie asked when we were going to Europe in response to my announcement that we finally got cable. I'm assuming that's because we could have skipped the cable and used the money for plane tickets. Unfortunately, that's not the case. At least not this year.

Logistically speaking, a long week or so of travel doesn't fit into our schedule. John is using a good chunk of vacation time to go to Appalachia with our church. Plus, we'll be going to Denver for a wedding this fall and are planning on spending some extra days there.

Finally, our "big win" savings are being put towards a brick patio! As you may recall, we had a giant hedge in our backyard. Exhibit A to refresh your memory:

When my parents visited last fall, we made the executive decision to rip out the hedge in the hopes of adding a patio. Turns out, the hedge was three plants and had some super-thick trunks and roots. Exhibit B of John with a fraction of hedge remnants:

Now that it's summer, we're itching to get this brick patio started! At one point, we considered installing the patio ourselves. That is, until we saw the yard sloping towards our house. Clearly, that's not good if it rains, so we called a few patio and landscaping companies for quotes.

We decided on the company and we finalized the design a few weeks ago. And yes, we borrowed the neighbors furniture for illustrative purposes.

We'll have a curved path connecting the driveway with the patio, keeping space for the rosebush and some grass to the left of the path. The day lilies will be moved since they were only planted there until we found a more permanent spot for them.

The left side of the patio will be the eating area with a table that fits 6 or so people. On the right will be a conversation area with chairs and a small table. Yes, Dad, we'll conceal the air conditioner with some plants.

Underneath the window will be a raised, walled planting area. In addition to planting space, this will also give us more seating. We don't plan on putting the grill on the patio since there's plenty of space to put it on the driveway when we use it and roll it back in the garage when we're not.

We're currently waiting on the building permit (we applied for it last Friday), so once we have it, we'll start breaking ground!

Are you completing any big projects this summer?
Pin It

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Garden of Eatin'

While I miss certain things about living in the city (walking everywhere! easy public transportation!), there are a few things about having a home that I love. One of the big ones is having a large herb and vegetable garden.

Last year's garden was a huge success, especially the zucchini! But we also had a few duds: the tomatoes took forever to ripen and we never enjoyed a pepper.

This year, we decided to try a few new things. And considered our neighbor's thought process of growing vegetables that are more expensive to buy in the store. Case in point, tomatoes. Those babies can be $1-2/lb for basic beefsteak, let alone buying cherry, organic, or heirloom varieties. On the other hand, the grocery store practically gives away zucchini.

Our little "farm" is currently growing beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a few rogue spaghetti squash that snuck into our compost. We also planted a boatload of basil and sage. And of course I can't forget the dill, mint, and chives shared by our parents' gardens and the crazy oregano from last year's garden. The hops are also taking off!

And since I like numbers, here's a cost breakdown comparing what we purchased at Home Depot (or was shared) vs. the local grocery store:

Based on the mojitos we enjoyed last weekend and the pesto on the menu for this week, I don't think we'll have a problem breaking even. Obviously there's the opportunity cost and convenience of buying veggies from the grocery store, but I enjoy tackling the weeds on the weekends. Even if that means itchy eyes during the work week. And you can't beat the fresh taste!

And just for fun, here are a few other shots of our roses.

Do you have a garden? Maybe one on your patio?

PS - John wants to make sure he gets credit for the title. You're welcome, Hubs.
Pin It

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Little Bit Country

We made it to Friday! This week was all funky between my vacation hangover, a dentist appointment rescheduled at the last minute, field trip for work, and cable installation. So TGIF for sure!

Last Friday I was on my way to Nashville, so can you indulge me in one more Nashville related post? It's totally appropriate because this week's FF theme is "outfit crush." And I totally loved the outfit of Karen Fairchild, a member of Little Big Town.

When they came on stage, I was dazzled by what I thought was a sparkly dress.

Let's zoom in a little bit.

 photo | Little Big Town
From, credit: Curtis Hilbun/AFF-USA

Girl was rocking sequined shorts! I don't know if I could ever pull off this outfit, but that's the fun of Friday's Fancies, right?

Express long metal fringe earrings, LAMB Bindi black leather bootie, Avelon abstract printed shirt,
Karl Sabine sequined shorts, Girl. By Band of Outsiders cropped blazer,
Alexander McQueen studded leather knucklebox clutch

Here's my take on a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. OK, a lotta bit rock and roll. I left out the fishnet tights because even my imaginary wardrobe wouldn't contain them.

Where have you found outfit inspiration recently?

Have a great weekend!

Pin It

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We've Joined the 20th Century!

Sooo....I had a post partially drafted for you. It was going to be all about our vegetable garden. Well, I didn't have it finished up last night and hit a technical glitch this morning. Why?

Because the Internet dropped while we had cable TV installed today! AT&T U-verse if we're getting specific. When I told my coworkers we were just getting cable, they looked at me like I was living in a third world country. Yes, John has been living without ESPN and I've survived without HGTV and the Food Network for quite some time now.

Sure, our utility bills are going to increase, but that's OK by me. We've been focusing on Ramit's "big wins" like negotiating a higher salary and refinancing our mortgage which more than offsets the cable bill.

Have you had a "big win" in personal finance recently?

PS - If you're looking to read something a little sweeter, I share my adventures in ordering ice cream in Paris over at One Sydney Road as part of Piper's Paris pop-up shop.
Pin It

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nashville in the Details

Do you ever get a vacation hangover? I got back from Nashville Sunday afternoon and felt like I should have taken off on Monday. To relive the fun, I thought I would share a few details.

Past Perfect

Beyond the amazing live music, Nashville has some pretty tasty food. We stopped by Puckett's Grocery for southern food and breakfast (yes, we went twice). And slightly off the beaten path of Broadway is Past Perfect. We went there for lunch before all the CMA festivities...a-mazing! I had a lavender mojito and the grilled ahi tuna wrap. If it was later in the day, I would have sampled a classic cocktail made from one of their many infused vodkas. Guess I'll just have to go back ;)

It seemed like every other storefront on Broadway was a boot shop. And the other 50% were honky tonks. If you're looking for boots, make sure you shop around before buying. One store was offering buy 1 pair, get 2 pairs free! Plus, check the label for where the boots are made (avoid China) and to see that they're made of real leather. For other tips, here's a good post on how to buy cowboy boots.

I knew that Nashville was sometimes call Nashvegas, but didn't quite get it until I saw all the neon signs. It definitely reminds me of classic Las Vegas!

Of course, I can't forget the music! Even though I didn't recognize some of the artists' names, I recognized their songs or just sat back and enjoyed the tunes. Luke Bryan was definitely the favorite of our group and Carrie Underwood also put on a great performance.

And to prove that I was there, that's me with the bachelorette. And my favorite orange maxi dress :)
Pin It

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Short Cuts

Towne & Reese Clara earrings, J. Crew linen bow shorts, Zara aqua platform heels,
Loft painted dot top, Jess LC Kenzie small fishy tote

Can I tell you a little secret? I'm horrible about getting haircuts. Especially getting my bangs (or swoops, as I call them) trimmed. Not because I'm looking to save all sorts of money, but because I'm a little lazy. And it's super easy to just pull my hair back. Even A Cup of Jo showed a tutorial for a sleek parted ponytail. And let's not forget my easy summer hair tutorial for twisting back overgrown bangs.

Sorry for the Myspace pic. My photographer was missing.

But I'm good for the next few months because I finally got my hair cut! Nothing crazy, she just brought the swoops back, trimmed the ends, and cut some new layers. A low maintenance haircut that grows out well. Hallelujah!

Which means I should probably reshoot my profile picture ;)

Have a fantastic Friday and weekend!

Pin It

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Think of the Savings: Negotiating Cable and Internet Bills

Hi there! How was your weekend? We starting brewing a new batch of beer. The plan was to make a blood orange hefeweizen, but blood oranges were nowhere to be found. Instead, we're making an orange mango hefeweizen. It smells good so far, so we'll see how it tastes in a few weeks!

Until then, I'd like to share some negotiating tips when dealing with cable and Internet service providers. Our promotional period recently expired for our Internet service, so I talked with a friend "in the know" to negotiate a new lower price. In the end, we decided to jump for cable and Internet, landing us new customer pricing, so I'll be keeping these tips in mind when our next promo period ends.

According to my sources, the best approach in negotiating a lower cable or Internet bill is to go through the voice prompts for cancelling service. When you go through that voice prompt, you typically get connected to an operator that is a retention specialist. They will often be able to offer more promotional prices in an effort to retain you as a customer. The big companies know that in most cases, making a better deal for you is more cost effective than trying to find a new customer to make up for losing you as a customer.

Additionally, it's good for you to have price points from the competition.  For example, if your cable company has an offer that is less expensive than $43/month just for Internet (what our new cost would be...vom), share that with the customer service rep. If the competition doesn't have a good price, then look at your current provider's price for new customers and ask why you can't get that.

If they still don't budge, ask them what would stop you from cancelling service, and then ordering again for the lower price?  Even if there was a technicality about a recent customer not qualifying for new customer pricing until after X number of months has past, you could suggest that your spouse could sign up instead, and voila, you have a brand new customer :)

Hopefully the service provider will be reasonable and work out a good price for at least another 12 months. My friend used this trick with Company X when he had cable TV with them. He called them specifically trying to cancel service. He didn't even indicate initially that he would stay as a customer if they offered a better than regular price. Then they asked him why he wanted to cancel, and he said that the jump in price won't fit his budget. And voila! Company X could sign him up for twelve months for about the same price that he was at for his first 12 months.

It's also important to note that you might not get the best deal the first time around, especially if you weren't firm in cancelling your service. My friend's friend tried this approach but probably got a regular customer service representative the first time, and a retention specialist the second. So persistence pays off!

Have you ever called your cable or Internet company for a lower price? Even when upgrading to cable and Internet as a new customer, I asked plenty of questions and talked about the competition. I was able to get a few bucks knocked off our bill and some freebies thrown in. If nothing else, it never hurts to ask!
Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...