Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Frugal Vacation

We just got back from a Very Very Frugal Vacation. How frugal, you ask?

Well, the cruise was free! Courtesy of my lovely MIL, who came up with the idea when I said I'd never been on a cruise, and who also watched my lovely boys while the Hubster and I meandered along island roads for 10 days. My plane ticket was also free, bought with our miles.

Oh my, it was glorious. For all the moms and caretakers out there, let me just say this - Naps Whenever I Wanted Them. Is that just fabulous or what?

Thanks also to FIL and Auntie D who helped with the Boy Wrangling duties. I gots lots of pics and tales to tell but for now let me leave you with this, enjoyed in the place where it was created, in the lovely city of San Juan on the lovely island of Puerto Rico. Yes, I use the word "lovely" a lot. I'm an anglophile. Deal with it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a PiƱa Colada:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Frugality in everything

You know how they say that the first step in solving any problem is to acknowledge you have a problem?

Well, I recently did just that and it was the problem of the multiplying magazines.

I swear I've cut down on my subscriptions and find myself perusing the online websites for each magazine rather than purchase the odd issue here and there, but the truth is, my reading material was incredibly uncontainable.

So, during a trip to the Container Store a couple of months ago I saw this cute magazine file and decided it was going to be my BFF in my quest to minimize magazine messiness.

The moment our mail lady brings me a magazine, or I get home after having purchased one, I put the new magazine in the file. Once I read it a couple of three times, let the kids throw it around the living room like a frisbee, i.e. once the magazine has walked the gauntlet, I decide whether it's a keeper-for-now or not. If it IS, then it goes back to the magazine file. When the file is full, it's time to get serious and throw out what I don't want any more.

So far, the only magazine that has attained Permanent Status is the Real Simple issue with a month of easy dinners. For some reason I much prefer to have the magazine to printing out the recipes from the site, or even taking the pages and putting them in a binder, but if the time comes where my file is fill of Permanent issues, I will reevaluate.

Until then, my little file works and keeps me from accumulating too many ads, which, as we all know, are the bulk of any magazine ;D

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Upgrading the master bedroom

We have a neutral/dark red thing going in our bedroom - our linens are all beige, tan, burgundy, cream, or some combination thereof. But there's something our be lacks. Pillows. Combined with the fact that we don't have a headboard, either, our bed feels kinda collegiate in its minimalism.

Oh, we have the pillows for our heads, but until now I've been okay with not have decorative pillows on there. However, I've come to embrace the fact that accent pillows can be a budget-friendly way to make a bed look more finished.

My sweet mama taught me how to make envelope pillow covers and I can tell you, once my craft abstinence is over after Lent, I am going to be whipping up some pillow covers left and right.

I love this set from Horchow even if it's a little overboard - the burgundy and gold print is very similar to the print on our duvet cover, I am definitely leaning towards making a mix of covers so they can be as versatile as possible.

Since I don't have fabric to match my duvets I wouldn't have something like this from Pottery Barn, but I don't like matchy-matchy anyway. I like the idea of picking up a color, like the solid green accent pillow, that can perk up a more neutral base of pillows.

I LOVE this from Martha Stewart - the mix of blues, browns and patterns. This is more my style - making a few pillow covers that can be mixed and matched with our bedding sets and look equally appropriate to all of them.

While I heart floral patterns in golds and burgundies, I respect the fact that this bedroom is also my darling husband's. So maybe just one ultra girly, floral, beaded and fringed pillow cover for now ;D

Friday, March 19, 2010

She waits, she looks, she scores!

Remember my post about my top 3 wish-list items from Target? This list included a gorgeous black fruit stand for $29.99, which put it out of my budget.

Well, let me tell you, three days ago I hit Target and what do I see? A black fruit stand for $16.99. Almost half the price.

Doesn't it look pretty in my kitchen?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I've got two letters for you


If you are already familiar with this awesome chain from Sweden, then you know that they've got the most current styles of clothing, shoes, and accessories available for cheap. Even if your style is not to wear "the latest" (mine isn't), you can still find great jewelry and accessories like sunglasses, scarves and bags that can pull together the most basic outfit.

If you're not familiar with H&M, check out their website - unfortunately, they don't sell online to the US yet, but you can see if there's a store near you - believe me, it will be worth the trip - just take a look at some of their new items in this little collage I put together:

I can very easily see those three tops becoming go-to pieces this summer. They are so lovely and feminine, the blue especially I love that it is a soft shade but incredibly saturated.

The little dress, as well, would look lovely with a sweet beige cardigan - hmmm, I just happen to have one in my closet, figure that! - an armload of bracelets, and some kick-ass heels.

That light blue in the sandals is a shade I don't see often in shoes, and maybe this is the year to add some color to my usual black/brown/neutral shoe rotation. According to my husband, my skin is perma-tan, and tanned legs would look great with that pale blue.

I added pretty colors in the form of the scarf and bracelets, nothing outrageous, nothing too trendy, but what a sweet pop of bright after these rainy days! The belt and bag, of course, are in basic colors that should be in everyone's wardrobe.

What do you think - is a visit (virtual or real) to H&M in your future?

Monday, March 8, 2010

While Sandra, Mo'Nique, and Kathryn . . .

were busy accepting awards and going to swanky post-Oscar parties, me and mine were busy doing some pre-rain partying in the backyard.

My lovely husband got me pretty border flowers for the, uh, border along the deck.

He also got some strawberries, seeing as they are the summer snack of choice for the boys. We get ours from our local strawberry vendor, we often run out in between his visits, so hopefully this plant can fill in the boys' bowls and prevent me from getting those nasty supermarket strawberries, where only the top layer is good and the underneath is a gloppy mess.

My green onions, omigosh, I would LOVE to thank the academy for these beauties, except the academy didn't do anything - my fragrant onions have spruced up many omelets and dinners, not only at my house, but in many others, because I often give them away. As you can see, I can barely keep up with eating what they produce!

But in life, we need more than green onions, i.e. yellow, white, and red onions, so I've planted some of the yellow variety and if they produce half of what my green onions have, I will be incredibly happy.

Despite having the distinction of being the only person who can't grow tomatoes, my husband got me this Early Girl plant, and I will not jinx it by saying anything about expectations or plans for tomatoes.

My lovely chard doesn't seem to be making much progress, I think anything leafy around here just calls to any and all critters that feast on free salad, which brings us to the last picture . . .

This is the new wire fence around our bok choy, which has definitely been feasted on. I actually walked out one day to find two of the neighborhood cats taking turns. I threw an under ripe avocado at them and it worked, but we needed a more permanent solution.

This latest planting cost us around $50 with the wire accounting for roughly $30.