Archive | November, 2012

Clothing Swap

30 Nov

Early last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to a clothing swap. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a group of people brings all their unwanted clothing and accessories and trades with the other party guests. It’s a great way to pass on unwanted items to a new, loving home, as well as an opportunity to get gently used things for free.

For this swap, each person quickly presented each article they brought and someone would shout out if they wanted to try it. All the clothes that weren’t claimed ended up in a big heap on the floor, destined for a donation bin.

Swap People

The swap was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, as a size 10/12, I was one of the largest women there. It normally wouldn’t bother me, but it was annoying to be ineligible for awesome pieces because they didn’t conceivably fit.

clothing swap

That said, I still made out okay. I got a couple tops that I can probably wear to work, and a Banana Republic cardigan that fits nicely in my wardrobe.

I would definitely go to another swap in the future. It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe for free.


My Dressing Room Version 2.0

28 Nov

Be warned- this post is going to give you a little sneak peek into my messiness.

In my apartment I have two small personal rooms. One just has my bed and a nightstand, because that’s all that fits. The other houses my dresser, personal care products, and other clothes. I call that space my “dressing room” (Yes, I feel very posh saying that).

Following the makeover of my living room, I’m now focusing my energy in my dressing room. I have big plans for the space, but started with some organization and a fresh coat of paint.

With some hesitation, I chose a light pink paint. I absolutely love the color, and I figured this was practically the only time, and the only room, that could ever be pink. Even with my painting hesitations, I tackled the painting by myself on a day off from work.

In person, the room is definitely pink, but it’s not completely overwhelming.

Beyond the wall color, I also had some serious organization issues. One of the problems was a trunk that I had filled with sweaters. The only problem was that I never put everything neatly back. When someone confused my sweaters with a dirty laundry bin, I knew I was in trouble.

PS- The trunk closes! (and is kept closed now)


I did some rearranging of my dresser, and opted to pull the out of season items, notably shorts and capris. For $5 I got a bin to stash those under the bed. I also reorganized my shelves and put my towels, bathing suits and tights in the trunk, making shelf space for folded sweaters.

So far it’s worked out nicely and the room is a lot neater. Next, I’m going to add a jewelry wall!

Christmas Tree Time

26 Nov

I love Christmas. I enjoy the good parts of the holiday season: seeing friends, appreciating blessings, being generous, eating delicious foods, and dressing up my home.

This weekend I kicked off the Christmas season by getting my tree. Ever since I was little, we’ve always cut down a live tree, and I continue the tradition.

The one challenge this year was finding a tree big enough to fill my tall-ceilinged living room! We found the tallest, fullest tree we could on the farm. Normally they net the trees, but the gentleman was worried our tree was too large for the machine, so they just tied the tree up top. Thankfully, we survived the 25-minute drive home just fine.

I think the tree looks great! I used twinkling white lights and all of my mis-matched ornaments. I also added some live wreaths around the room, but I’ll show you the rest of my decorating in another post.

When do you normally put your tree up? Do you cut your own or have an artificial tree?

Shopping Small & Shopping Local

23 Nov

I’m one of those people that believes your money is a way of casting a vote. Your purchases, since they fund certain organizations, lead to growth. I love my local city and want to see small businesses flourish. I know so many small business owners trying to make it work. Because of this, I think it’s important to shop local and shop independent.

Gift giving season is upon us and I am committed to spending a good percentage of my holiday budget on local purchases. I am trying hard to focus on the quality of the gift, instead of buying a large number of meaningless items. Due to that, I’ll also be making a few presents myself as well.

For certain things, like books, I’ll resist the urge to buy on Amazon for rock-bottom prices. I’ve heard absolutely terrible things about how they treat employees. Instead, I’ll order the same book through a local and independent bookstore. Even if they don’t have the in-store selection of Barnes and Nobles, they’re happy to order.

For another family, I’m going to put together a basket of local items, such as chocolates and beer brewed a quarter mile from my house. I’m going to stop by my farmer’s market to get items. I’m happy to share what I love about my town with other people that live a little further away.

One way I’m saving money by shopping local is by participating in American Express’ Small Business Saturday. Since I’m a card member, I’ll get a $25 statement credit for a $25 or more purchase at a small business that accepts American Express. I’m excited! It’s like getting $25 worth of stuff FOR FREE.

I’m confident that I can have thoughtful gifts that I feel good about through shopping local. And I encourage you to join me!

Happy Thanksgiving!

22 Nov

May you have a very Happy Thanksgiving and get to celebrate with loved ones!


Salon Wall Pricing & Sources

20 Nov

Yesterday I promised a price and sourcing breakdown for my recently completed salon-style wall. Here it is!

Framed Flowers
My friend Julia gave me this quite a few years ago. It’s an original painting that she made on canvas. For this project I added the outer frame, which I purchased for $9. It’s the only piece that’s not behind glass.




No Fighting Contract
The tiny piece in the top right is a no-fighting contract between my boyfriend and I. It’s worked since we drafted it, so I decided to put it up on the wall. It reads: “We the undersigned hereby resolve to never fight again.” I owned the frame, but purchased the mat at $2.50.




Pink with Doodles
This is a creation of my two artistic coworkers. Ira made the colored background as a demonstration for summer camp, and Caroline drew on top. They gifted it to me because I kept joking about buying art from the campers. The floating frame was $13.


Victoria Street
This was an Etsy find that was too cheap to pass up. It’s a 4X6 print of an original gouache. Purchased from artquirk for $7 ($3 print plus $4 shipping). I also bought a frame for $5 and a mat for $1.50.




Blooming Recklessly
I love this print from oh my deer, which is a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, “Everything is blooming most recklessly.” I love the sentiment, because I feel like that’s how my life is- wonderful, but often messy. This 8X10 cost a total of $11 ($8 print and $3 shipping). The frame was $15 and mat was $5.




Reading Outside
This print of a girl reading outside was found via Pinterest. The Etsy seller Elizabeth Mayville sold me this 8X10 “Open Book” print for $23 ($20 print and $3 shipping). The frame cost $12.




Lucky Elephant
Lastly, the Lucky Elephant was another Etsy find from meeralee. I loved the drawing and sentiment in this 5X7 print, so I bought it for $18 ($15 print and $3 shipping). I already owned the frame.


That’s my wall! I would like to point out that I purchased the art and frames over a significant period, in order to spread the costs over a few budget months. The frames were purchased at AC Moore and Michaels, and I of course used a coupon each time.

My total cost for this project was $122 ($59 in art and $63 in frames and mats).

Salon Wall

19 Nov

I decided I wanted a salon-style wall in my living room for above my couch. That’s my fancy way of saying I wanted a grouping of framed art hung in an organic way.

First, I gathered my art. Some of the pieces I already had, but I also did significant shopping online. I purchased all of my new pieces off Etsy, and spent a lot of time combing for good art at an affordable price. Tomorrow I’ll discuss each piece of work on my wall, where it came from, and how much it was.

Next, I framed each piece. I purchased some frames at Michaels and AC Moore, combining coupons with discounts at each location. For the smaller art, I used frames that I already had.

To make sure I was ready to move forward, I laid the grouping out on the floor. It looked good, so I continued.

To keep everything consistent, I painted the frames all the same color white. I even “repainted” the white frames so that they would have the same finish. For the dark frames, I first used a coat of primer. This helped immensely in getting coverage. Then I used the glossy “Decorators White” paint from refinishing the mirror in my living room. I’m glad I had paint left over from that previous project so that colors would match throughout the room.

Once everything was reassembled in white frames, I planned the layout again and called my friend Alana for help. To hang, we first found the center of the wall, choosing a slightly high focal point because: 1. I have high ceilings and 2. We wanted to avoid the couch a little bit. We hung the largest, middle piece first, and continued around.

I have seen dozens of tips online for how to hang work. In our case, we would hold the piece where we wanted it and mark the top with pencil on the wall. Then we’d measure how much further down the hanging instrument is (the D ring or saw tooth on the back of the frame, whatever it was). We’d move the mark with the care of a ruler, and hammer in a nail.

I am extremely pleased on how the salon-hung pieces came out. The living room looks so much better. Tomorrow I’ll post each piece, where it came from, and how much this project cost.

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