Gone Stripin'

>> 9.29.2010

Yes, I'm still alive... busy, but alive.

No one really asked, but I thought I'd share a little peak into my now normal weekend life:
6:00am- Alarm goes off; Nate and I get ready for our Saturday workout (remember, I still have that Ironman 70.3 to train for)
10:00am- 12 mile run and 1.2 mile swim are finished
10:30am- go to wedding open house for venue #2 (remember, there's also that wedding I'm planning)
11:30am- eat and rest
1:45pm- head over to view wedding venue #3
2:45pm- paint bathroom while Nate watches football
5:30pm- dinner
9:00pm- bed

8:00am- wake up; get ready for bike ride
2:00pm- 60 mile ride and 2 mile run are finished
2:30- 5pm- rest, eat
5:00pm- work on stripes in bathroom
7:00pm- eat
9:00pm- fall into exhaustion coma

The good news is that the triathlon is less than 3 weeks away at this point. The better news is that I'm closer and closer to finishing the half bathroom project. So, instead of cluttering up the blog with unrelated posts I'll go ahead and hold off until I have the bathroom to show you. See you then!


So you say you want a stainless appliance...

>> 9.24.2010

"the fingerprints will drive you crazy"

If you've researched into stainless appliances, you've seen the negative reviews and warnings about little (and big) hands leaving fingerprints all over the surface. Now that I've owned a couple of my own stainless appliances for a few months, I'd like to throw a few of my feelings into the mix...

1. Yes, they will get dirty. I'll keep it real, this is an actual picture of my dishwasher earlier this week:

2. BUT they aren't hard to clean. Unfortunately, using a regular damp cloth will leave streaks behind on the surface so you have to go out and buy a special cleaner of some sort. I highly recommend the simplehuman Cleaning Mitt (mine is from Crate & Barrel).

3. If you're worried about your kids leaving prints, have them clean it! All you need to do is dampen one side of the mitt to wipe off the marks then dry with the reverse side. Because there aren't any chemical cleaners involved, I'd say a 5-year-old could do this as a chore.

AFTER- as pretty as the day we met!

As you can see, this sucker really picked up some grime!

4. Buying a "stainless look" appliance might be a good alternative for you. My refrigerator is actually done with a faux stainless finish. While this finish isn't quite as durable as stainless, it looks as clean and modern as stainless while wiping down suuuuper easily with a damp cloth
PS The freezer on this Samsung has mysteriously turned itself off a few times... it was as good as new once we reset the temperature, but a strange behavior for a new appliance.

How did you decide on your appliance finish? Are you happy with the color you went with... or are you stuck with one you hate?


Resolution Update

>> 9.22.2010

The good news: Out of the four resolutions I came up with for 2010, I've knocked out three of them.
The not-so-good: I've only held 4/10 of the parties for my Ten Party Project... with three months remaining.
I could blame having an unfinished kitchen, living room, or guest bathroom, or the energy/ time-sucker that is the Ironman 70.3... but I'm not going to. I'm also not giving up on my party goal!

I am giving up on hosting blog-worthy parties. If I host it then come up with time to take pictures... and they're good... I'll be happy to share.

I served store-bought bruschetta, Nate made a delicious salad, and created homemade pesto for the Costco tortellini... but this is the picture I have of our last dinner party. Oh, and might I mention that we fed six for around $35? *Sigh* Maybe I'll have my act together to share more detail-filled occasions next year?

How are you doing on your resolutions?

Do you ever hate the fact that you've told everyone what you plan to do... and consequently have to follow through...?


And now that it's over...

>> 9.20.2010

(Source: Cottage Living)

The $8,000 home buyer tax credit was a great thing while it lasted...
homes were selling and first-time home buyers were pocketing $8,000
...but were they really saving $8,000 off of the price of a house?

Remember that neighbor of mine who had his house up for sale? Well, four months later and it's still on the market with fewer offers than ever. At the time, they received multiple offers at asking price (one of which fell through a week before the tax credit ended), but they've been stuck without buyers since. Since then, they've actually dropped their listing price by about the price of the tax credit!

(Source: Cottage Living)

I realize that the credit allowed many first-timers with little cash savings to buy a home that they couldn't otherwise afford to put a downpayment on (time will tell if it was a good thing), but if they had just waited out the credit, they might have found the same homes with reduced prices to make up for the difference. In reality, $8,000 savings off of a mortgage payment is a much larger savings over 30 years.

I'm curious to find out how homes are doing in your area. How much have you seen home prices drop since the tax credit ended?


Another Bedroom Update

>> 9.17.2010

As I watched my new favorite show (aka The Nate Berkus Show) this week, I realized that I've forgotten to show you the new bedding I bought from his HSN line...

I vote that it is a big improvement over the old, boring brown:

and I LOVE the way it looks next to the black bedside tables.

What would my blog be without a little decorating drama? I'm having issues with the Euro shams. I really think that the bedding needs an extra boost, but I can't seem to get the pillowcase right. First I bought a final clearance set that was too dark... and now I have a sorta cheapo looking gray set that I'm not thrilled about:  
They probably look cheap because they are (IKEA GĂ„SPA $4.99). *sigh*

Thoughts on the shams? Should I go with my gut and spend the extra $ for a third try?

PS Is anyone going to see Nate next Tuesday? Dropping everything and flying out there at the last minute is just not happening here :(.


A Blank Slate

>> 9.15.2010

I just wanted to pop in with a little update on my half bathroom makeover...

Day 1:


After a ton of scraping and floating, the walls are finally smooth!
Remember that ugly texture?

I don't miss it one bit!!

Also, I put up a new light fixture from the Restoration Hardware Outlet...

If I were any good at taking pictures of light fixtures, it would look like this:

Oh well, at least it doesn't look like this...

Restoration Hardware Outlet is my absolute go-to place when it comes to affordable light fixtures (remember my last great find?). I was able to by the Modern Double Sconce in perfect condition for $40 (after an additional 20% promotion). That's a savings of $69 off of the current price!

Thrifty Tip: If you come across a great deal at an outlet store, make sure to inspect the product carefully. Some "deals" are really reduced prices on damaged goods while others are simply returns.

PS If you've been following my home decorating style you might notice that the oil-rubbed bronze finish doesn't quite meld with the other finishes of the house... but I think it will go perfectly with the black and white stripes I have planned. Yep, I'm whipping out the black paint again!


One Last Post

>> 9.13.2010

...until the wedding.

First, I'd like to thank everyone for your comments on my engagement announcement!

I love that you assume that I'll have a thrifty wedding (well, duh!) and that many of you are interested in reading about my plans BUT I don't think Thrifty Little Blog is the place for wedding planning. I know I'm usually a bit disappointed when my favorite blogs are taken over by new topics and I don't want my home/ lifestyle blog to turn into a full-fledged wedding blog. That's why this will be the last wedding-related post that I'll write on this blog until the wedding. I promise to come back with a budget breakdown post next year, but other than that, this blog will have no other changes (the topics and posting will stay the same).

Still, I'm itching to write about my thoughts and ideas about the most expensive day of my life my wedding... so I've created a little spot in the blogosphere for just that purpose:

It's my Thrifty Little Vows.

Feel free to stop in from time to time to see what I'm up to... or maybe you'll want to subscribe and get every update in your Google Reader... or maybe you'll avoid it because you've had a giant crush on Nate and want to pretend like he is still available. Whatever the case, you're always welcome! I've already added in a more detailed proposal story and a post on how we met.

But before I move my wedding-brain over there, I have one final wedding-related question for you:
In your experience planning (or attending) a wedding, what do you wish you would have spent more or less money on?


A room for guests?

>> 9.09.2010

With a wedding coming up next year, thoughts of all the family members and friends who would need to travel into town have started to creep into my mind. While I probably won't want to host anyone the nights surrounding my wedding, it would be nice to have the ability to offer up a space to visitors. The thrifty side of  me (okay, so every side is thrifty) started to rethink our decision to make the second bedroom of our house into an office instead of a guestroom.
source: domino

Guestrooms aren't just fun to decorate, but having one available can end up saving your guest hundreds of dollars. Imagine you host guests three weekends a year... compared to $100ish per night, that could add up to a savings of up to $1,000.

At the same time, you could end up "wasting" the space for the other 350ish days of the year by not hosting guests.
source: domino

What are your thoughts on guest rooms... are they necessities or luxuries? How much money have you saved your friends/ family by having the ability to offer up a space for them to stay?


Big News

>> 9.07.2010

So... the bathroom project wasn't quite finished by Labor Day. I did a good bit of work on it, but I didn't get to the finish line...

You see, I was too busy getting engaged!

(a picture I took before it it all went down)


Mr. "Too Shy to Talk to a Hairstylist About a Bad Haircut" actually went to my parents that morning and asked for the permission to use a family ring to propose with. To make a sweet moment even sweeter, he made sure that we made it over to our favorite bench. Oh, and did I mention that he timed it all so that his mom would be in town for it? Yep, I found myself a winner!

(before- about one minute before!)

I was SO SURPRISED! I never thought he would do it in public or that he would do it any time soon- my guess was that it would happen in December.


Don't worry, I did get back to work on the bathroom this morning so you can expect updates on that soon!


A Friday Funny

>> 9.03.2010

Have a bad week? Stressed out at work? Sad that this weekend is the unofficial end to summer (I am!)?

Well, I hope that showing you THE SINGLE WORST HAIRCUT IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND will maybe bring a little light into your Friday afternoon ;).

BEFORE I show you how Great Clips butchered Nate's hair, let's check out what he once looked like (two weeks ago):

Okay, now for the AFTER: 
Um, I guess the stylist was going for the new "uneven sides and super textured back" look...

...and the "not cutting the bangs, but cutting the top reaaally short" look.

What, Nate? You wanted her to trim the sideburns?
Don't you know that long sides are so totally in right now?!

Warning: this next image is not for the faint of heart...
An unnatural BALD SPOT... I'm pretty darn sure that he didn't wake up with that sucker!


Have you ever had a bad haircut or dye job before? Was it an expensive mistake or an "$8.99- too good to be true" special?

PS Don't worry, it's mostly fixed. It's just hair; he'll live.
PPS Yes, I do plan on going back to Great Clips. I never do more than a trim and most of the hair stylists are perfectly fine.


Budgeting for Blooms

>> 9.01.2010

I challenge you to find a room in a decor magazine or shelter blog that isn't styled with flowers. Even the most amazing space can use the pop of color and life that a fresh bouquet adds. You might have noticed that I "style" most of my pictures with a few flowers here and there. The truth is, we I actually budget to have fresh flowers in the house at all times (diva-ish, I know).

Thrifty tips for having fresh flowers in the house at all times:

1. Get the cheapest bundles available. While the bigger bundles might offer more stems for your money, they'll still die at the same time. Don't be afraid to use strategically placed bud vases instead of large arrangements.

2. Pick flowers that last at least 7 days! My grocery store actually lists the expected life of each flower on the store packaging, but any florist should be able to point you in the right direction. My favorite 14+ day flowers are Carnations and Astromerias... here's a good guide that list several other longer-lasting flowers.

3. Don't treat yourself to everything. Decide what special luxury has the most impact on your life- is it the car wash, Starbucks, or the flowers?

4. Grow your own... or steal from your neighbors ;) or be the type of person that people want to give flowers to.
Okay, so maybe I "stole" these wildflowers from the park across the street.

5. Get creative with your sources. Restaurants, weddings, and florists that might have leftover flowers that they're willing make a deal on (or give away!).

Oh, and would you believe that at $4 every two weeks ($8/ month), we're even able to squeeze it into our already bare grocery budget of $40-50/ week.?! It can be done!

What luxury do you make room for in your budget?


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