Friday, August 31, 2012

Road Trippin'

Jess LC Jackson earrings, J. Crew Biennial medium satchel, glitter TOMS,
Madewell chambray shirt, Old Navy striped shorts

It's definitely a TGIF kind of week again. So the long holiday weekend in the US is perfectly timed. Weather permitting, I'm hoping to work on the back room again.

Last week's Friday's Fancies theme was all about the road trip, but I was too busy sharing a certain cupcake to write about my favorite road trip tip. So that's what you're getting this week :)

Growing up, my family took a few summer vacations to Hilton Head. One year, my parents decided to drive instead of fly. It's a bit of a hike from Ohio to South Carolina, so they devised a little plan to keep us occupied. Once everyone was piled into the van, my Mom gave my sister and I a small brown paper bag with "Ohio" written on it. Inside was an activity book for the trip. And as we passed through each subsequent state, we received a new goodie bag. Each bag contained something little like a snack, batteries for our CD players, or perhaps a Beanie Baby (remember those?). As a kid, it was like gold.

I haven't used this idea as an adult yet, but it can be done. Maybe put together state goodie bags with your road trip companion's favorite snack, a new CD or album downloaded from iTunes, a magazine, or Mad Libs book.

How did you survive road trips as a kid? Or even as an adult?

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dress to Impress

In between baking insane cupcakes and a little back room decorating, I still have to get dressed and go to my day job. Our dress code is business casual with jeans on Fridays (and Thursdays during the summer). Every so often, I have a meeting that warrants a little something more. Not quite business professional (read: suit), but a little more than black pants and a cardigan. On those days, I like to dress to impress.

I had one such meeting a few weeks ago. My boss said he was going to wear a jacket, but no tie. So I should dress accordingly. I took that literally and busted out my navy blazer with a work-appropriate dress. And to keep things from getting too formal, I added a little flair with my accessories: my go-to patent pumps, Jess LC earrings, and a J. Crew bracelet.
None of these pieces were extremely pricey, but I felt like a million bucks because they fit perfectly. And I was having an exceptionally good hair day. This was my hair at around 8:15pm.
I also have to share that I usually wear flats or lower heels to work. I've noticed that I feel more confident when I bust out the big girl shoes (aka - my sh!t-kickers) and studies support that: "There is such a clear association between height and power that making yourself appear taller should put you at an advantage."
So if you're looking for a little psychological boost on the day of a big meeting or interview, how about slipping into one of these pairs of shoes? Because I know you're prepared and can dazzle them with your brains.
Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Zara, Loft, Ann Taylor
For more tips on dressing for the office, check out Ashley Nicole Catherine's post on workwear essentials.
How do you dress for work?

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Decorating around Mother Nature

I had all sorts of grand ambitions for the back room this past weekend. On Friday, I stopped by Ace Hardware after shipping my 103rd (!) Etsy sale for three more cans of yellow spray paint. And yes, the same cashier was there from when I bought my first two cans of yellow spray paint. She probably thinks I'm an addict. Little did she know what else I wound up buying over the weekend.

The initial plan was to spray paint the tall shelving unit (and hopefully not my feet). Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. As in humid 90+ degree weather, which doesn't mix well with spray paint. The Rust-oleum can recommends painting when the temperature is between 50* and 90* and when humidity is below 65% to ensure proper drying. Throw in some rain on Sunday and I failed the weather-test all three days.

Since I was still looking to make some forward progress, I headed to Home Depot (twice) on Sunday for more materials:
  • A 4' x 8' piece of oak hardwood plywood at 1/4" thick - cut to size for shelves and the table top - $27
  • Two cans of BIN by Zinsser primer spray paint - $17
  • Polycrylic water based protective finish in clear satin - $9
  • Assorted sanding paper and sponge - $8
  • Tack cloth - $3

The Vittsjo series comes with a mix of 1/4" thick tempered glass shelves and 1/2" thick laminate/particleboard shelves. The TV unit originally came with a glass top and the dark laminate/ particleboard for the bottom shelf.
The original plan was to swap out the glass for the 1/4" thick plywood that would be primed and painted yellow. Since the 1/4" wood doesn't seem sturdy enough for our TV, we're going to make the 1/2" IKEA-provided shelf the top shelf. Sure, it will stick out a little past the frame, but it will give us more peace of mind. Both will be getting a coat of BIN primer (as recommended here) and then spray painted yellow. 

Here's the tall Vittsjo shelving unit with its new wood shelves and IKEA laminate/particleboard shelves. Once the tower itself is painted yellow, the shelves will also get the primer and yellow spray paint treatment. We don't plan on putting extremely heavy items on the middle shelves, so I'm not too worried about them breaking. I tested some of the 1/4" wood shelves with a stack of 4 cookbooks and they seemed to be holding up fine.

As for the entry table, I initially thought I would stain and then seal the wood. But after picking out the oak hardwood plywood, I'm happy with the wood grain and color of the natural wood. Therefore, I selected the Polycrylic crystal clear satin topcoat to seal the wood.
All of the edges of the wood shelves and tabletop need a good sanding so they fit perfectly in the Vittsjo pieces.
Overall, it feels like things are starting to come together, but it's still uncharted DIY territory for me. I've been reading all sorts of things to make sure I've picked up the right supplies and have a general idea what I'm doing. I definitely feel my brain stretching through the creative process :)

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Friday, August 24, 2012


Are you ready for the weekend? As the week starts to wind down, I'm wiped out. The work week wasn't particularly strenuous, so I think it was a combination of things (read: first world problems). Feeling under the weather and moody (dare I say from PMS?); leaving for work late after dropping yogurt on the kitchen floor, my pants, and the wall; back-to-school traffic; and staying up late to bake cupcakes.

Sure, some of those literal and figurative headaches could have been avoided. Fortunately, the lack of sleep was darn worth it for these cupcakes! We always bring in an airlift of food for birthdays at work and this week was no exception. It was my boss's birthday, so I wanted to bring in more than a store-bought treat. Since he likes dark beer and chocolate, I knew these Rogue Mocha Porter cupcakes with salted caramel cream cheese frosting would be perfect. I found the recipe through The Bake & Brew and her review had me hooked.

When I couldn't find the Rogue Mocha Porter, I snagged a bottle of Stone Brewing Co. Smoked Porter and never looked back. "Smooth, with chocolate and coffee-like flavors balanced by subtle "smoky" character of peat-smoked specialty malt" sounded like the perfect complement to these cupcakes to me.

And the rave reviews at the office put them straight on the "to bake again" list.

For another boozy dessert, try the raspberry champagne cupcakes. Hope you have a fantastic (and restful) weekend!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm Back for More!

Ready for a photo-heavy post? You better be because it's too late to change things now!

In addition to some family and friend time, this weekend was mostly devoted to the back room. I've pinned all sorts of ideas to my back room board, so it was time to see things in person before making an ultimate decision and purchase.

Friday afternoon was spent at garage sales, Goodwill, World Market, and West Elm. My main goal was to check out side tables. I was really looking forward to seeing West Elm's round bone side table. We have a lot of 90* angles in the back room, so I was looking for something round to balance all the squares and rectangles. I really like the top of the table, but the bottom might be a little too matchy-matchy with some of our other pieces. Boo.

Then I stumbled upon this lovely number. I love the curvy and airy, yet left-brained nature of the foxed mirror side table, but am a little hesitant with the mirrored top. I don't know how kiddie-friendly it would be down the line. In discussing with John later in the weekend, we might actually go for something softer, like an ottoman. The jury is still out whether it would be purchased or DIY-ed.

My West-Elm-spending-strategy (thanks to MintLife!) might also change after seeing this bone inlay Parsons mirror. I know we're decorating the back room, but I think it might be a perfect fit for the bathroom. Then the extra funds can be used for accessorizing. Or I might change my mind tomorrow :)

Saturday was spent at America's favorite Swedish amusement park superstore...Ikea! Who wants Six Flags when Ikea has eight flags!

I had a better idea of what I was looking to purchase at Ikea: an Expedit bookshelf and Vittsjo tableTV unit, and shelving unit. All of those, plus a white planter, cost about $220 plus tax. 

Back home, I went to work assembling and getting my spray paint on. I followed the advice of Centsational Girl's tutorial and used Rust-oleum spray paint in glossy yellow (about $10 for 2 cans). One of the commenters had used a different brand of spray paint and everything was flaking off. I'm happy to report that Rust-oleum worked wonderfully for me and I didn't need to use a primer.

So what was getting the facelift? The Vittsjo TV unit and shelves. Kate also said in the comments that she assembled the shelving unit before painting. It didn't seem very windy, but it was a to spray paint those tiny bars!

I used two cans of spray paint just for the TV unit! I think half of the paint ended up on the drop cloth, blown away, or on my feet. And as a note for next time, it'll make life easier to spray paint on the grass.

Here's a preview of things to come with the TV unit and shelving. These came with glass and particleboard shelves that will be replaced with solid shelves painted yellow. Obviously I need to purchase some wood to replace the glass, but I've now considered spray painting the particleboard after reading these tips.

As for the rest of my haul, the Vittsjo table is going to be our new entry table. It also came with glass that I'll be replacing with wood. I'm thinking of a lighter stain. Of course I'll keep you posted.

Last, but not least is the Expedit shelf. I'm following Maggie's lead and making it into a bench. I've found some additional tutorials for creating an upholstered cushion that's attached to the Expedit unit. Though we have a little time for that ultimate decision because I haven't even thought of fabric yet!

What's new with you? Tackle any projects recently?

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Patio Finale

Kate Spade studs, Jess LC Jackson neon pink bauble necklace,
DV by Dolce Vita Adyn sandal, Ya Los Angeles Nautical Stripe Dress

Even though summer feels to be winding down, I hope there are many warm weekends in our future. Because the patio is ready to go for outdoor dinners, chats around the fire pit, and all around relaxing! We're seeing some friends on Sunday, and hopefully enjoying the patio a bit, and I would gladly wear this simple summer outfit. What's even better is the dress and sandals are both under $30!

Speaking of the patio, I owe you a few "after" pictures! But first, this is what our pre-patio situation looked like when we moved in:

Once we said "sayonara" to the hedge:

And drumroll please.......our new patio!!!

Let's zoom in closer on the plant situation. We planted mums in the raised bed since they bloom during the summer and fall. Near the rosebush are fibrous begonias.

Freddy and his team at Green Landscape Solutions did a fantastic job with the patio. We had a general idea of what we wanted, but Freddy brought all sorts of creativity and an attention to detail to the project. For example, the curviness of the patio and corners of the planter. Love it.

They also did an excellent job in "finishing" the space. Since we were having permeable pavers installed, they needed to dig a deeper foundation and tore up part of the driveway in the process. On the left of the picture below, you'll see a new patch of asphalt. And as part of our design and building permit woes, Freddy worked with us and the building inspector to design a patio that met our aesthetic and zoning requirements.

As expected, they also put down sod around the patio and where the driveway was removed. What we didn't expect was to find the driveway power washed and extra pavers neatly stacked on the side of the garage.

And for a little icing on the cake, Green Landscape Solutions had very competitive prices. We got quotes from three different contractors and Freddy's quote was the best bang for our buck. So if you're looking to install a deck or patio or for a little landscaping work, I highly recommend Green Landscape Solutions.

Have a lovely Friday and weekend!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Mid-Week Weekend Update

I know it's Wednesday and usually Wednesdays mean looking forward to the coming weekend. But today we're going to take a sneak peek into the previous weekend. No, I didn't make any progress on the back room. Unless, of course, you consider pinning a bajillion pictures on Pinterest. Then yes, I've made progress.

9th Street Abbey: where our reception was held

Honestly, I'm not worried about the lack of progress in the back room because the weekend was spent with friends and family in St. Louis. Coincidentally, it was our 5-year engage-iversary on Friday.

John and I both have a sister living in St. Louis and it's always fun to experience the city through their eyes. Yes, we lived there for 7 years, but there are always new places opening or places we never got around to seeing. This weekend was a little bit of old and new favorites.

After a relaxing Friday night and chill Saturday morning, we ventured to Soulard for some amazing BBQ from Bogart's. Those of you who know St. Louis restaurants probably know about Pappy's, but have you heard of Bogart's? John sister shared this little secret. Bogart's has the same amazing BBQ as Pappy's, but shorter lines. The only downside is that Bogart's doesn't have sweet potato fries. I'll survive with the alternative: deviled egg potato salad and "pineapple express" BBQ sauce.

Since we needed to walk off our ginormous lunch, we walked around the Soulard Farmers Market. This farmers market isn't exactly authentic (I prefer Tower Grove), but there are still fun things to see. For example, this awesome mini donut assembly line. We also picked up some Whole Wheat Chipotle Lime Mafaldine from Pappardelle's Pasta. We made it for dinner on Monday and I'm highly considering buying more online.

After a quick jaunt around Forest Park and express trip to the zoo, we stopped by College Church for Mass and then back to John's sister's apartment for dinner. Then it was time for the highlight of the weekend...a reunion party at Urban Chestnut! I've talked about this microbrewery before, and it's no surprise that we had to make a stop there.

Here's the thing about Urban Chestnut, it's so good that you want to take everyone you know. But you also want to keep it to yourself so that there's a bench available for you in their new biergarten. We decided to go with the former. Wise decision because the weather was temperate, conversations were lively, and the brews tasty as ever.

Weekends like these make me want the weekend to last just a few days longer. Maybe my subconscious is trying to do that by sharing this weekend post now.

Since it's Wednesday, what are you looking forward to this coming weekend?
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Around the Internets

Last week was an exciting week for the Fiscally Chic Shop!

I hit a milestone 100 sales! And then I had another sale this morning to put me at 101...woo hoo!

I'm participating in One Sydney Road's "Under the Boardwalk" pop-up shop and my shopkeep feature is up! Swing by for a few facts I haven't shared here, my guilty pleasure, and a few of my favorites. Plus, there's a discount code that can be used in my shop through August 31, 2012.

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From Elembee

And then I was pleasantly suprised to see my tangerine orange and white striped pillow cover appear in Lisa's recent Etsy favorites. I'm personally loving that print about messy hair. But it makes me wonder if pulling my hair back is interrupting its awesomeness ;)

Hope you have a fabulous Monday!
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Back Room Design Ideas

Earlier this week, you might have noticed a post with just pictures of our backroom. While I occasionally accidentally publish posts before they're ready, this time was intentional because I needed a fast way to share pictures of the room.

Why? Because I recently won a giveaway on Mint's blog for $400 to West Elm and a 1-hour consultation with designer Tracy Hutson of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition fame! We had our phone call earlier this week and had some technical difficulties while emailing the pictures. So a quick blog post was the way to go.

It was super fun chatting with Tracy and she had some great ideas for the room. First, she agreed that we needed an entry table to drop off keys, cell phones, wallets, etc. And a proper place to kick off our shoes. Right now, the area of the left of the door is a mess. I'm envisioning something like this:

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From House and Home
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From The Everygirl

A console table to the left of the door with space below it for shoes. A white Parsons desk or table might be a good option, or maybe something a little less modern.

The entertainment unit is a little small for the room, so we're looking into getting something new to be the focal point of the room. There are some incredible vintage credenzas on Craigslist, which are perfect for our 1950's home.

From Jess Lively

In addition to suggesting a low console, Tracy suggested leaning some larger artwork against the wall behind the TV. Jess's living room is a great example of that, though we wouldn't have the bookshelves on the side. Tracy also suggested adding a floor lamp off to the side of the TV.

As for the area by the window and couch, Tracy recommended pulling the couch slightly off the window. We've already moved the couch and I think it makes the room much cozier.

Rustic Storage Side Table 
West Elm rustic side table
Bone Side Table
West Elm bone side table

We could put a console behind the couch, add side tables, or add a coffee table/ottoman. John is more game for side tables, so we'll probably look into those.

As for this nook on the side of the couch near the bathroom, Tracy recommended making a little seating area or adding a low bookshelf that can also work as seating.

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From Maggie Rose Interiors

Maggie's low bookshelf immediately came to mind, so we'll probably be making a trip to Ikea soon to pick up an Expedit shelf!

Clearly this room will evolve as we shop and find new pieces, but it's nice to have a jumping off point with some outside help. Plus, there will be accessories to find once we get the big pieces :)

Have you redecorated any rooms recently?

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