February 26, 2012

It's the little things!

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One more Martha post!  As I said in my earlier post, I bought some nice labels from the Martha Stewart line at Staples. 

I swear I haven't been endorsed to talk this much about this stuff, I am just a nerd like that!  Tonight I bought two glass containers from Target so that I could take care of this mess:

We got these as a wedding gift from a family friend.  They are nice, but thing about them is that they are black, and the stuff we keep in them is white which = MESSY!  The flour always cakes itself all over the big one.  Actually, I wasn't even using the smaller two for anything.  That means it is time to re purpose these.  I still want to use them somewhere.  I'll find something cool to do with them.  They make our kitchen more junky than I want it to look.  Right now we keep them on top of our fridge since we have very limited space on our counters.  That will change when I add open shelves to the one empty wall in our little kitchen.  I envision it looking like so:

Pinned Image

We have little space just like that, where we can put open shelving and display some of our pretty stuff.  That is where I see these newbies going...

Here are the canisters with their new labels, and now it's time to fill them!

Aren't they so lovely?  Much lovelier than the black ones.  They will look even better with the walls are a bright yellow, the cabinets are white, and the counter tops are butcher block.   So much work to do!

There they are in the usual spot for now.  It's amazing how much difference this makes in our kitchen.  It's much less clutter-y, and that was the whole purpose!  Plus, I got rid of some things that weren't working up there - we didn't need those 4 canisters up there.  These two work just fine, it's the little things!

Martha...She's at it again!

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Martha Stewart is cool.  I know I know, she went to jail and some people really loathe her,  but I am a fan.  I love her decor, I love her organization tips, I love her crafts, I just love Martha!  When I saw that Martha has a new line at Staples - I had to run over there and see it for myself.  Almost literally!  I found out about it last Thursday night late, and went after school on Friday.  This stuff is COOL!!

I tried creating my first mood board, it didn't work out very well.  One day, I'll have a fancy Apple laptop loaded with PhotoShop to do cool stuff like that.  I tired making one in Picasa, but I couldn't figure out how to get the photos I downloaded from the internet, uploaded into Picasa?  Only my camera photos show up.  So, then I tried fotoflexer...and came up with this,

So it's not perfect and I probably did it all wrong and after I took 3 hours trying to figure out a way to do it, I didn't feel like number and labeling everything!  LOL.  These are the pieces from the collection that I really love!

I had around $31 in Staples rewards and I also downloaded a coupon off the Staples website that was 30% off one Martha Stewart item!  There is usually a coupon on there so keep checking that site to see what it may be.  Here are the things that I bought - just laid out on my ottoman (no more mood boards for me today!!) I am so excited to use this stuff!

Naturally I got to work right away.  For months I've wanted to create a better "situation" for our mail.  It usually comes in the house and sits on the table for a week before we even look through it.  I didn't want it messing up my new little desk either.  So I figured out that I wanted a mail station on a wall somewhere.  These little blue hanging file folders from Marta fit perfectly on the small wall right inside our side door (which we use as our front door) to catch all that paper!  You also will see I bought a set of the sticky whiteboards - these come on and off surfaces very easily so no worrying about the wall and damage.

Here is another look from the kitchen...

We love it and our dining table has been less cluttered as of late - mission accomplished!

So then I wanted to clean up all the junk on our fridge, we had papers from Ashley's school and Christmas cards and menus and business cards just stuck up all over that thing with magnets.  It looked awful!  So I used this clear sticky hanging file (again it's safe for most surfaces) to catch all the little things to control the mess.  Most of the stuff on the fridge could be thrown away, but some important cards and my not pad and the dry erase marker for our weekly menu fit perfectly on here.  I also used the other sticky dry erase note here so that we can all write little love notes or important reminders to each other.  It makes life fun;)

The little blue notebook I bought to record all my ideas for blog/house/decor/projects in.  I have the one notebook that I am keeping for color inspiration, but this little guy is so pretty he gets to say out in the open on our new desk.

See him sitting on top of my Decorate book (awesome ideas btw!).  Hanging out with him are my labels.  I bought the chalk labels and the kitchen labels. 

I have not used the labels anywhere yet but I have lots of ideas.  I want to switch out my set of flour, sugar, etc jars for nice clear ones, like these from Target.

                                               Heritage Hill Jar - 2-gal.

I can use the creamy labels with the red border on these to label them.  It'll look so pretty!  I can put them on our open shelves, whenever I get around to reno-ing the kitchen (probably spring break!).  My canisters now are so ugly, they are black and dirty from all the baking, they need a different spot in our home where flour can't stain them!

Oh and while I was fixing up our mail station and our fridge mess, I switched out the background to our menu planner - this one is pretty!  I love adding these aqua blue touches everywhere, its a good contrast color in our home.  For now at least.

So that was my fun evening organizing with Martha Stewart.  I highly suggest for anyone who loves organizing and what not to run to Staples and check out her new line.  It is lovely!

On that note, I'll leave you with what I'll be working on today....

Europe!!!  EEk!

February 15, 2012

Spray & Shelf

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I love spray paint.  I love that you can take a can of it, and completely change the look of something!  I took a spray paint break for a while - I did a lot with it over the summer but had to cut back;)

Now...well...there are SO MANY pretty colors of spray paint!  I went to Lowe's one night and went a little craaaazy...

So I bought a avocado limey color, a pretty beachy blue color, a deep navy color, and a tangerine type orange.  These pictures don't do much justice.  I need a new camera...complaint of the century.  These colors really speak to me and say, "Don't you love us?!?!"  I wanted a purple too - but I hated, no loathed, all the purples they had there.  I need to try Home D.  I haven't been back since the minor paint incident with them - I'm still annoyed but I'll get over it.  I'm not the type to complain, so boycotting them for a little bit makes me feel better.

Then after I bought the spray paints I went searching for things to unleash on.  These camel book ends came home from my family's lake house with me when we sold it (heart break).  My grandad had a million things in that house, and I am kicking myself for not bringing more home.  A house full of cook junk, that is what we gave up.  These camel book ends were ugly - just to be plain honest.  Ugly!

I gave them both a good scrub, and a little bit of a sand....

Then I sprayed them.  I learned fast that I should have primed them first.  Whoops!  I should know that!  It took about 6 or 7 coats to get them to the color I wanted and even then, they could use a few more coats.  The weather decided to get ugly the day I was spraying them so I had to stop and bring them inside!  I'll probably throw a few more on them in a few days...

Here they are on our bookcase in the main room of our townhouse...helping my Harry Potter books stand up tall.

A closer look.  They are a sweet greeny yellow color and I love the pop they put in the room.

Again, another look!  Aren't they pretty now?!

Another little spruce are these two "invisible" book cases that I put up.  I bought them from Barnes & Noble and they are way cool.

Those are my old travel books, another set of things I inherited from my grandfathers lake house, he traveled all over the world so many times and it's cool to have his old travel guides here with me now.  I thank him for my desire to GO places...plus these books are really old and cool.

The actual cases are these little metal shelves that you fit a book into after the shelve is put up.  The book almost completely hides the metal part and as you stack books on it, it disappears all together!  I love these.
Here's a shot of the whole side of that room - it's look a lot more layered and less matchy - success.  I need to figure out a curtain or valence situation - and definitely update those blinds.  Those windows need HELP!

Here are the packages the shelves came in.  I should have snapped a pic of them by themselves.  Oh well, live and learn...I also realized I either need a 3rd shelf or a need to lower the bottom one.  I underestimated how much room they would take up.

Another close up...one of my owls lives on the top one and on the other one is the jar from Honeydukes that we acquired from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - a nice touch for our London room;)

Those are a few spruces I've done this week!  It makes me feel productive.  One project at a time!!

February 12, 2012

A Paris bedroom

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When we bought our town home almost 2 years ago, we decided that we would decorate our rooms in themes of different cities.  We looooove to travel, so we thought it would be a cute way to fill our house with items that are meaningful to us because of that love.  Plus, it's SO fun to shop for stuff, so many of my fave home stores (HomeGoods, TJMaxx, Ross, Marshalls, even Target) sell "country" themed items. 

Our bedroom is themed around Paris.  I have been twice, Dave has never gone but wants to so badly because I talk about it alllll the time.  We are actually planning a trip to go this summer, hopefully!  I can't think about it, it gets me way too excited.  So anyways, we bought a normal bedroom set from Gardiners when we bought our home.  It's all the same, kinda matchy, but really nice furniture.  My aunt & uncle got us a very nice bedding set for our wedding, and I bought black out type brown curtains to match, since Dave has to sleep during the day.  I had some artwork from Paris, and my old apartment, and things I swiped from my mom that I put up on the walls, and I added some Eiffel Tower type accents to the room.

It's still not right.  As I am learning about design, I want my room to look Parisian.  Not because it has Paris stuff IN it, but that it has that Paris feel to it.  I used Pinterest and my memories and thoughts of Paris to help me get ideas to vamp up this room. 

First I had to think of a color palette.  Our walls are already painted this beautiful green called Fresh Guacamole, its soft and lovely and a nice Paris green.  I have cream and brown accents in here now, in the  curtains and the bedding, but that needs to change.  It's way too earthy for Paris!  I am planning on adding purple as my main accent color, with white as well.  Plus the dark brown accent of the furniture.  I have an idea book that I have dedicated to home decor, I write down projects and ideas in here - it helps me narrow down what I want, because it changes constantly!

That's the book!  Here are my color inspirations...

I wanted to change the artwork above the bed.  The art I had up there was a means to an end, I didn't have anything and mom gave me these four little hand painted Paris pics, so I threw them up there right after we were married to have something on the wall.

I didn't really like the black frames with the dark brown furniture, but the pics are very sweet.  Way too small for that wall though.  I thought about it for a few weeks I figured out I wanted a French looking picture, but not a pic of Paris or anything, and I wanted it to have purple in it.  I envisioned something with flowers...a cool French pic with flowers.  At Target tonight I wandered to their small art section and found the perfect piece!!

It's perfect.  It's French, its vintagey (its a word! lol) and it's bigger scale for this big wall.  It has a touch of green like the walls, and purple and creamy white accents, with a muted black color in it that looks like our furniture.  It's the "one"!!!!

Next I need to update our bedding, I want a beautiful, sort of frilly, white fluffy set.  With vintage white and green and purple like pillows.  I want to update my black out brown curtains with something else.  Maybe white.  Maybe lilacy white.  I still have to think about that.  I want to also possibly add white netting around our bed.  I have no idea how to do that yet, I don't want that mosquito net thing, I want it to be more like a canopy.  Romantic.  I want to take off the mirror that came with our bedroom set and find a more Parisian one, one with character.  I also want to switch out my night stand with a stack of old suitcases.  It's easier to show you my inspiration from Pinterest!  To see the whole board, click here :

.want to switch out my boring nightstand for this look, soooo cute!

net over bed, very sweet



so pretty!

I love Parisian and vintage accents...

I like the vintage feel here!

Parisian accents

love this!  need to possibly update our mirror to something pretty and vintage

and I love this Paris wallpaper!  I have this tiny built in book shelf on the wall opposite our bed, I and think maybe I'd do something like this on the back wall of that inset shelf?  How sweet would that be??

omg!  paris map wallpaper?!?!  How can I use this?

We have this ugly light and fan that I'd love to replace with a romantic chandelier.  I would have to convince Dave to let me nix the fan altogether then...I don't know if we want that?

so romantic

Those are my ideas.  I get all excited about a room and go crazy thinking about it, and dreaming it up.  I am so happy that I found that picture at Target tonight.  I love dreaming and all, but I like actually DOING things to spruce up the room too!

More updates to come as I add more and change more!!

February 5, 2012

Yep, I am one of those people...

I have been couponing since the beginning of October.  I've learned a lot about it in the last 4 months.  Here is what you need to know if you want to get started, or get into it more.

1.  Couponing is messy!

This is actually a pretty tamed mess because I've been cleaning everything over the last day.  But, don't be fooled.  Couponing is messy.  You can expect that on any given day your main living area will be cluttered with papers, inserts, circulars, clipped coupons that float around, mailer coupons, catalinas, etc.  My dining table is usually covered with paper, and that includes all our regular junk too (mail, bills, Ashley's school papers) and it drives me crazy.  I've done a few things to help corral the mess, and I'll get to that later.

2.  Couponing takes up a lot of time!

I don't have a picture to illustrate this.  Maybe a huge clock or something.  It takes up a lot of your time.  I usually set aside time on Sundays to clip & organize my coupons.  Then, during the week, I have to take time to browse the circulars, and the couponing websites, to find the deals that I want.  Then I have to make lists (a few, depending on how many stores I want to go to) and then I have to pull all the coupons I want to use together for my shopping trips.

I have to admit, I'm not great at couponing yet.  I am sure there are better ways to organize, and sure there are better ways to time it all out.  I think that the more I do it, the better I will get.  It's just a messy time consuming process!

Ok, so now that you know all that, and you still are interested and haven't shut off your computer or written me off as a wack-a-doodle or something, here is how I do this!!

Couponing 101 from Tee - The whole crazy process! 

I'll try to explain this the best I can.  In all honesty, couponing is worth the effort and time it takes me!  Plus, it's FUN.  I can't describe how good it feels to be at a store, after every item has been scanned, and you give your store loyalty card over and your coupons and you just watch that total dwindle down and down and down.  You feel like celebrating!  Right?!?

Here is my weekly process, hopefully it makes sense!  On Saturday or Sunday, I get The Sun (our city newspaper) delivered to my house.  This is an exciting day because I run out for the paper, flip through it and see what goodies we are getting this week.  Then, I go to my local store and pick up 3 more papers.  I like having 4 all together because my most-visited store (ShopRite) has a limit of 4 items per sale.  I don't always buy 4 of everything, only if it's a great sale matched with a good coupon, but I like having 4 for that purpose, because it can be a great deal! 

Something slightly off topic, I would recommend looking into recycling if you don't.  We didn't before this, but I felt so bad throwing away all that paper that I had to start because I do care about our trees and our earth and our oxygen and trashing 4 papers worth of stuff made me feel extremely guilty.  It was really easy to start, I looked up our county's policy on recycling.  I thought it would be complicated to start, and that we would have to go buy a bin for it and all that.  Not so!  All we had to do was find a container, preferably blue, and put a big X on it and take it out with our trash twice a week.  SIMPLE!  Why haven't we been doing this the whole time?

Ok back to it.  I thumb through each paper and pull out all the circulars that I know I may need, they include:

Wegmans (if there is one - a lot of their deals are usually posted online)

**Safeway and Giant don't always come - their deals aren't Sunday - Saturday deals, so their circulars sometimes come separate.

You can always look up most stores deals online too.

So I pull those out and then I pull out the gold: the coupon inserts.  Then, I recycle the rest of the paper.  I usually don't read it, sometimes I'll read the travel or Dave may want the sports, but usually it all goes to the recycle bin. 

Then I make a pile of all the inserts, matching them together from the 4 papers, i.e. all the Replums go in one pile, all SmartSource in another (those are the 2 main ones) and then the PG, etc.  You can sort of see my system here...

So after I have my piles, I pick one and start.  I'll take each insert and carefully rip all the pages out and match them all up from each.  Then with the pile of each page, I cut the coupons together.  This saves lots of time.  See in the pic above?  I had 4 pages from the same insert (in which I have 4 usually) of women's hair care products and I just clip them all at the same time.  Which saves me from having to cut each individually.  Then you end up with piles of coupons that are the same all spread out (it's messy, remember!  This was a fairly small insert so there aren't as many as usual)..

See?  Nice little neat piles of coupons ready to be filed.  Now, I do the coupon binder system.  So I bought a huge white binder and 3 packets of plain white divider tabs and I made 25 sections.  You can see my binder up above, and here is a close up of the tabs...

My sections right now (they change as I figure out what I need and what I don't) are as follows: cookies/sweets, salty snacks, granola bars/fruit snacks, bread/PBJ, fruits/veggies, pastas/dinners, soup, baking, breakfast, sides/rice, condiments/dressing, drinks, fridge, yogurt, freezer, candy, ziploc/storage, paper products, cleaning, laundry, dishwashing, first aid/meds, womens, mens, pet/misc, and dental.  I have changed these a few times to work for me.  You will probably do different. Right now, we don't have babies so we have no need for those coupons, I usually try to donate them.  This is my system, but really try to do what makes shopping and organizing easier for you!

Anyways after all the coupons from one insert are cut, I file them in here.  I use the baseball card organizers which you can get from Target, WalMart or order off Amazon.  I love them!  They are the perfect size for the most part, sometimes I have to fold the bigger coupons.

As I file I try to see if there are any expired coupons in the section.  If there are, I pull them out and set them aside.  We will get to this later...

Then I'll start with the next insert.  Again I rip all the pages apart, I throw away the ads for granny panties and what not, and make new piles, like you can see here.  I start cutting and organizing all over again!  It takes about 2 hours of my Sunday to do all this, if I work fast and efficiently and don't have LOST on to distract me...like I do right now.  It's the episode about Mr. Eko, and it's very distracting, LOL!

So that is the cutting and organizing part.  Hopefully that all makes sense!  I try to go through the binder every month at the end of the month (when most coupons expire) and pull out the ones that are expired.  I am guilty of not using a lot of coupons.  I once read that you should cut ALL coupons, even if you won't use them.  I don't like that advice.  I've started cutting ones that I know I'll use, and even ones that I may use.  But...coupons for products that I know I won't buy, like hair dye or some certain frozen foods, I don't bother clipping and just put in the trash pile.  GASP.  I know, I should cut these and donate them too, but I don't.  At least not yet.  Oh well.

You can donate your expired coupons to the military.  As long as they are within 6 months of the expiration date.  You can go to this site, the Krazy Coupon Lady, and read how to do this.  I love this site and she is the one that taught me how to coupon from the start.

Speaking of websites, below I have listed the sites that I go to to find the deals for each week.  You can look through your circulars and match your coupons to the deals yourself, but a lot of people out there have done the work for you!  I browse their sites, find my stores, and read about the deals.  Then I decide which ones I want to buy.  Here are the ones I like a lot, but there are SO many out there, just google your store or your area with something like, "Coupon match ups for_____" your store, or "_______ weekly deals and match ups".

Couponing Websites:

Krazy Coupon Lady

Couponing to Disney

Living Rich with Coupons

Deal Seeking Mom

Coupon Mom

Frugal Girls

Hip 2 Save

These are just a few that I like to check a lot each week.  Like I said, there are tons of sites out there!  I like to check them all because sometimes they have different deals posted.  Something to remember though, that deals vary from state to state, as do each stores couponing policies. 

I'll check these sites and from there make my list.  I have a template that I use that lists the store, the item, the original price, the coupon to use, the price after the coupon, how many I want to buy and the total of all items.  Oh here, it's just easier to show you:)  This is a screen shot of my list.  I usually hand write it, but for your sake I typed this one because my handwriting is awful!

Actually I am providing the template for you to use!  You can download it and use it as you embark on a couponing journey;)  Download the template here and enjoy!

So I'll write out my lists, I usually have a few because I shop at a few different stores every week (like ShopRite, Target, Wegmans, etc) and then I'll get my binder and start pulling the coupons I need.  I like to keep them in like accordian file for when I shop, separate from the binder so that I don't have to thumb through that big honker to find what I need.  I got this from Target's $1 section:

I keep the coupons separated by store so there is no confusion.

Then I am all ready to shop!  I'll still take my binder with me, along with my purple accordion file, in case I run into an unadvertised deal in the stores which almost always happens (think of all those clearance items at Target!  I score great deals with those!).  I carry everything in a cute Vera Bradley market bag.

Because Vera makes everything more fun;)

Then, once you have your system down and a few months of gone by, you'll have a wonderful stockpile of goods that you won't know what to do with?!?  Mine has out grown my storage for it, and we are working on fixing that!  Here are some pics of our stockpile.

This is up in our linen closet, we keep all beauty/health stock up here, but I think we'll have to move it to the basement soon because it's growing and growing.

A close up of the top...

and the bottom.  We have enough shampoo, conditioner, body wash and deodorant to last us all over a year!  I probably spend less than $50 on all of this!!

A close up of the basket on the top, which holds tooth brushes, razors, chapsticks, etc.

This is our little cabinet in the basement.  We bought this to hold my stockpile originally, it's not nearly enough space!

Here it is all open and full, you see I have already outgrown it.

Close up

Another close up - we've got all sorts of food stuffs in here!

All that doesn't include our pantry in our kitchen that is full too!  I love having a stockpile.  It means I don't have to run to the store every night for something I need for making dinner, etc.

09/2013 Update:  This stockpile lasted almost 2 years!  The foodstuffs went a bit faster because of expiration dates but we STILL have a few bottles of the shampoo/conditioner/toothpaste stuff!!  It goes to show that once you have a good stockpile, you can chill out for a while, until you get low on something.  Awesome!

Last but not least, here is a little something that I have that helps me stay organized, and sometimes less messy.

This box is handy because it has a top with compartments for this I use when couponing like pens and binder clips and paper clips.

Inside are files and folders that help me separate things and keep them out of the way.  I don't use this as much as a should.  It is handy for keeping all that stuff off my table!

Ok, that is my couponing plan in a huge nutshell;)  I hope it helps clarify the process for you and make it easier.  I am sure there are a million better ways to do this, but this works for me.  I'm not an expert yet, and I am sure there are so many more ways to save money by doing this.  I am hoping that as I do this more, I will learn more, and from there save more money!  It's a tedious process but it's worth every clip, every minute, every inconvenience it may cost me.  I love couponing and the money it saves my family.  We are able to travel with the savings, pay off debt, eat out, and buy things we may need, or even just want.  I enjoy the trip to the cash register every time! 

What do you do that works for you?!

This weekend I've linked up to Tatertots and Jello - for their weekend wrap up party!!