Flower Pot?

>> 3.30.2011

As I've mentioned before, one of my unnecessary monthly splurges is keeping fresh flowers in the house at all times. I usually go with long-lasting $4 bunches from the grocery store, but thanks to the new spring season, they're also selling super cheap potted plants. I figured the potted versions would cut our budget in half and stick around longer so we've been buying them every few weeks. The only problem is that I've always been more of a cut flower person and don't really have any good indoor pots.

Nate, being the helpful guy that he is, threw out a free solution to my problem:
 "You could just put the flowers in one of your glass jars. That would be a really hipster thing to do."

Someone was getting upset at the number of Hugo posts lately and wouldn't get out of frame.

I had to laugh because:

1. Mr. "I Don't Really Care" was giving me decorating advice.

and

2. Apparently the style we're going for is "hipster?"

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More Progress

>> 3.28.2011

The guest room is officially popcorn-free, painted, and ready for furniture:

Which is not quite the situation in the guest bathroom:
The good news is that we're almost at the point that most people start at in their bathroom projects- ready to paint... I'll say it again: please don't add crazy texture over your wallpaper. Actually, just skip the crazy textured walls altogether, thanks!

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How Much- Blogging?

>> 3.25.2011

Speaking of blogging...

Yesterday, KT asked if I'd do a post one day about the costs of blogging so I figured it would be a good excuse to bring back my old How Much? series.  In my case, blogging is definitely an extremely affordable hobby. Not only does it provide a distraction from other more costly hobbies, but it provides motivation for completing projects around the house.  Blogging is without a doubt, the best way I spend $20 each year.

Yeah, you heard me, I spend a grand total of $20 to blog each year. My blog is powered through Blogger (free) with a template by Our Blogger Templates (free) and DIY header with fonts by Kevin & Amanda (free). The $20 goes towards buying my custom domain names (thriftylittleblog.com and thriftylittlevows.com) each year through blogger (here's how). Since Blogger is a part of Google, the name also comes with a Gmail account kasey(at)thriftylittleblog(dot)com. Most bigger bloggers seem to go with Wordpress for its flexibility in design and advertising options, but I like cheap and easy Blogger for my purposes.

...24/7...

Just to make your Friday a bit more exciting, I'll go ahead and expand out to the non-cash costs of blogging...

Time
It was a while ago that I decided that I didn't want to be one of those bloggers that depends on advertising dollars or a growing list of followers to make my effort worthwhile. Because of that decision, I probably don't spend as much time on posting as most 5-a-week bloggers, especially since I don't force myself to do projects just so that I can blog about them later. My quick photo with caption posts can take as little as 10 minutes to write while some of my longer, carefully edited, and full-o-links posts can take as much as 2-3 hours to put together. I try to keep things interesting around here by keeping a mix of the two so it probably averages out at 30-45 minutes per post. As of today, I have over 350 posts under my belt so you can see how that time could add up!

Emotions
Sometimes it is tough to hear that your idea stinks or hard work on a project looks sloppy (or that you live an extremely boring life and will forever regret your decisions once you're diagnosed with pancreatic cancer). I've definitely had a few nights where I've gone to bed thinking, "maybe I should have re-worded that post... I wish that they would have really understood what I was trying to say." In the end, the good always outweighs the bad and I'm left with mostly supportive people out there helping me make smart decisions in my home (and thank goodness y'all do- I can't imagine what crazy stuff I would have spent money on if I didn't ask here first!).

Privacy
I try to keep my personal life somewhat separate from the blog, but I've definitely put a few things out there that I'll never be able to take back (remember that even when a post is deleted, you can search for cached results via Google). You know that I do crazy things like throw pancakes in the compost, buy my wedding dress without an engagement ring (it's on the wedding blog), and how much money I've spent on pretty much e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. It's something I have to deal with (and hopefully not regret) for the next 75 years.


So, that's about it for the blogging costs... how much time/ money do you invest into blogging?

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Hey Blog Buds...

>> 3.24.2011

Back when I started Thrifty Little Blog my one big goal was to make enough friends so that I could ask for advice on a project or idea and get 10-20 people to comment (gotta love free advice!). Today, I'm a little shocked by the number of people that Google Reader tells me subscribe to this little blog of mine. I'm also a little bummed out that I'm unable to spend the time I once spent jumping around to other blogs and leaving comments (hopefully work and wedding stuff will settle down soon!) so I thought now would be a good time to put out a call for new blogroll additions.


If you'd like to be added to my blogroll, just leave a comment with the following:

1. The name of your blog (please, no etsy pages or for-profit websites).
2. The URL for your blog (ex. http://www.myblogname.blogspot.com)
3. The category you'd put your blog in: Home -or- Creative & Thrifty -or- So Much to Say!
4. Anything else you'd like to say- I'd love to hear what I should be blogging more about ;)

I'll probably update the list this weekend. Until then, be sure to check out some of the other amazing blogs already on my list!

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what a weekend

>> 3.21.2011

This was one of those weekends that I felt like I was just bleeding money! First, there was there was the scheduled splurge on house-wide carpet, couch, and rug cleaning. We definitely went all out getting the pet treatments (thanks, Hugo) and upholstery done... to the tune of $350. Not only did we end up with good as new carpets, but a hectic mess in the living room:

This, I would have been fine with... I can handle a bit of chaos in the house for a good cause and the $350 isn't so bad considering how great the results ended up in each room, BUT taking Hugo to the emergency vet in the middle of all of it was just a pain!


Yes, I now realize that I shouldn't have even put the pancakes in the compost in the first place.
Yes, we had a barricade around the compost bin.
Yes, Hugo is the sneakiest little piglet of a dog you'll ever meet (he's the same one who ate an ice pack last year).

Somehow he managed to chew off the door to the bottom of the compost (in the five minutes he was left alone out there) then crawl inside the bin and eat enough junk that it looked like a little furry brown balloon with a pug-like face was walking around the yard. Knowing that compost can be toxic to dogs and bloat is a serious concern when they eat too much, we tried to use hydrogen peroxide to make him throw up. After we maxed out the vet's recommended dosage of peroxide, we were basically forced into taking him in so that he could get a stronger puke pill. As thrifty as I am, I will never avoid taking vet advice in order to keep my pups healthy so a couple hours later, Hugo lost the equivalent of 20% of his body weight in pancakes and I lost another $140. Then because the day couldn't end there, I got to spend $60 on a tank of gas on the ride home. Boo!

At least they'll turn into rewards points...

How not-thrifty was your weekend?

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thoughts on extreme couponing

>> 3.17.2011

In case you haven't see it: watch this.

If you want to become an extreme couponer because you need a new hobby, go for it! I don't have anything against what these men and women do in their free time. I can just imagine the rush they get from picking the perfect match up of store sales and newspaper coupons!

If you want to "save" hundreds of dollars a month on groceries, I'd probably start looking at other options (home improvements, travel, utility bills, etc). For us, no matter how many buy-one-get-one promotions we find, the change in our already low $200ish monthly grocery budget wouldn't impact our lifestyle in any major way. Based on the amount of fresh fruits and veggies (that don't usually take coupons) we buy, I'm not sure there's too much wiggle room in the budget at all. Don't get me wrong, I still think coupons are great and totally worth clipping. Over a year after creating an organization goal, you definitely won't find me shopping without my organizer by my side...

 My basic categories: use ASAP, weekly grocery, grocery etc, retail, restaurants and services, receipts

-BUT- in my opinion, that "coupon savings total" at the bottom of my grocery receipt doesn't mean anything unless I've accomplished at least one of three things:

1. Saved money - Save...as in actually spending less than budgeted. Buying an unplanned for ice cream or bag of chips for $1.50 off  does not equal saving.

2. Found savings for my favorite foods or brands- Fiber One is actually my favorite cereal (yes, the original flavor that most people think tastes like cardboard... and yes, you can add that to the list of reasons why you'd hate my life). I would buy and budget for Fiber One with or without a coupon so I'm usually on the lookout for a way to save on this specific cereal (speaking of).

3. Bought something I would not have otherwise been able to afford- As I've mentioned on the blog before, I'm a pescetarian (yes to fish on occasion/ no to meat). Because I don't eat chicken, beef, pork, etc, I always have to look for other sources of protein. While I would looove to fill my diet with the yummy faux meat substitutes (did anyone see the vegan Oprah episode?), they do get really pricey so I usually mix in a lot of beans, dairy, and high protein grains instead.... or go crazy stocking up on the frozen meat substitutes when I find a good sale:

I do love my Veggie Patch Chick'n (for $1.50 after coupon)!

What are your thoughts on extreme couponing?
What couponing rules do you like to stick with?

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gift card hoarding

>> 3.14.2011

Actual gift cards that are sitting in my wallet right now:

I thought I was finished spending cash at Lowe's for a while once I dropped $1,500 on one of those Tax Refund promotional cards (ends today). Would you believe that while I was still patting myself on the back for coming up with a great way to stretch my buying power (I'll get an additional $150 added to the card this week and have the chance to use it with other coupons and discounts) I found an even better deal?! My local HEB has a in-store coupon (I think it expires tomorrow) that takes $20 off of a $100 gift card purchase (includes many restaurants and stores, but excludes VISA and HEB cards).

Of course, I couldn't pass up another great Lowe's deal (especially considering that I'm there every other day), so here I am with three different cards! Do I wish I would have gotten $300 off of my $1,500 instead of and additional $150? Yes, but that's just all the more motivation to stack my cards up with coupons and clearance sales. Aaand it doesn't hurt that my rewards card is doing triple points this month so I should have an additional $50 reward coming my way (making my savings total at $220) .

Did you end up getting one of those refund cards?

PS Congrats to #4 (yes, I use Random.org), katiekathleen, for being the lucky winner of the Pfister giveaway. Enjoy your faucet!

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Guest Room/ Office Progress

>> 3.11.2011

I wouldn't call this a ton of progress (look here if you want a ton of house progress!), but it's something. After scraping off the popcorn and painting the ceiling, we've put a little new paint on the walls- by little, I mean, we aren't finished with the trim around the ceiling, base boards and three doors (three!):


The paint color is Plantation Moss by Olympic. Nate wanted green and I wanted grey so we naturally settled on a green-grey. Here's another angle with different lighting:

And for a little preview of what's to come:
The new room should include: my $120 Craigslist Parsons Desk,  my new $16.99 Marshall's white box (the decision was made for me once I tried to find a chip-free box), Olympic's Plantation Moss paint, and something made out of this $2 thrift store curtain panel.

I'm trying to decide on some more accent colors for the room and leaning towards maybe a muted pink, dark maroon, or a teal... tell me, what's missing?

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Pfister Giveaway!

>> 3.09.2011

************This giveaway is now closed.************ 

I've tried to make it a habit of only offering giveaways that I'd actually enter myself (you know, to avoid giveaway post overload). If I wasn't already happy with my Pfister kitchen faucet you better believe I'd be the first person entering today's giveaway!


This week's winner gets his or her choice of one of these eye-catchers:








It moves up and down!


To enter:
1. US residents only (sorry!)
2. Comment letting me know which faucet is your favorite by 9:00 AM Central Monday, March 14.
3. Make sure I have a way of emailing you- either through your blog or by leaving your email address.
Bonus points: Show your Pfister love on Facebook and Twitter.

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Resolution Update

>> 3.08.2011

My big goal for 2011 is to complete the projects that I start. The result so far? Uh, I might as well get a tattoo on my wrist because I'm 100% #winning. So far, I've done boring non-blogworthy things like paint all of the trim in my house, filled a gap around the granite counters, and reorganized the pantry. This weekend, Nate and I finally got to one of the last giant unfinished projects of the house:

Back in 2009, the first project I attacked in my house was the popcorn ceiling removal. Can you believe that while I scraped 900+ square feet (including two vaulted ceilings), I actually lived in this tiny second bedroom- the only dust-free place in the house? Once it was clean enough to move out, I just wasn't up to finishing out the retexturing so it sat untouched (walls and all)... until now:


Woo! Better already, right?!


I'll give credit where credit is due- Nate was actually the one who dominated this room. We work best on a parallel project basis- he took on the bedroom alone while I focused on the bathroom:



Not only did the ceilings have to go in here, but the walls came down as well:


SOMEONE decided that it would be smarter to slap on ugly texture rather than simply removing the wallpaper that they didn't like... and I'm dealing with my third bathroom of it :(.

Obviously there will be some big changes ahead in here, so stay tuned!!


PS Speaking of winning, I've got a pretty amazing giveaway coming your way tomorrow!

PPS I'd be happy to answer any popcorn removal questions in the comments. You can also read about my 2009 adventures in popcorn here and here.

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Audible Gasp

>> 3.03.2011

When I walked through the home section at Marshalls and saw these boxes:




I didn't just stand there staring with a big grin on my face. For the first time that I can remember, I actually let out a big fat audible gasp right there in the store. They were almost exactly like the West Elm Lux boxes that I had been obsessing over a year ago:


I think that these were something like $89 full priced. I liked them so much that I almost paid $49 when they were on sale... but didn't and felt sad about it. BUT now I have the chance to get my hands on another shiny hinged box (for about 1/4 of the price).

I bought one on the spot:

...but then used it as part of my sister's birthday gift.
I just can't decide which  size/ color to get for myself (maybe I should get a few...).

Knowing me, I'll probably go black or white. Which box would you buy?

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March and the Yard

>> 3.01.2011

A lot of people really like March because spring begins, the weather gets warmer, the time changes etc. Well I like those things too, but I hate March. It's not the spring part that gets me, it's the "you think you're finished with winter but you actually have three more weeks" part that gets me every time. Each year I hate thinking that I'm finally finished with the cold weather just to have a random cold front come back in and ruin my outdoor plans- or my new plants for that matter!


So, even though I know that you're not supposed to do a bunch of planting before March is clear, I did a little garden work recently (and, of course I'll blame March if or when a freeze kills my plants): 

I figured it would be okay if a freeze came because the new plants were at least f-r-e-e! Call us cheap if you want, but Nate and I actually dug out several native plants from my parent's land (30 acres- they won't miss them) and transplanted them over to our bare beds last week. I can't wait to add more plants and even some colorful flowers after I'm sure that frost won't get to them!

Before that happens, we'd really like to get to work on screening off the unsightly A/C unit and compost bin:

I really like the modern look of a horizontal slatted screen: 

...but I haven't been able to come across a wood slat option that would be affordable. So far, the least expensive/ not ugly option that I've come up with is to make something like this from pre-fab trellis at Lowe's:

I'm hesitant to go for this option simply because it's not really my style, but it would definitely be a quicker and cost effective choice.

To Recap:

Should I just go for the affordable off-the-rack diagonal trellis or are there any inexpensive modern options that I'm missing out there?

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