Wednesday, May 26, 2010

From the feet of the First Lady of the UK

I think I follow UK gossip more than I do American gossip. As cheap and tawdry as our "celebrities" are, I swear, they definitely get a run for their money over the pond. Who's worse, Heidi Montag or Kerry Katona? Lindsay Lohan or Katie Price?

Anyway, back to the reason for this post - I think my favorite part of the recent UK election gossip coverage were the black peeptoe wedges Samantha Cameron wore during the campaign. Hers came from Zara and look comfy enough to wear during her pregnancy. Not that I ever wore cute shoes like that during mine. I think once I wore heels to a party - during my 9th month, mind you - and took them off before walking 3 blocks back to the car because I couldn't bear them. Anyway, SamCam, as the British tabs call her, can afford much costlier shoes but of course, dressed like "one of us" during the campaign. Her style is very much clean lines and a mix of designer and high street labels. Which brings us to one of my favorite labels.

Target's Merona peeptoes are only $24.99.

Merona is great quality for the price and I love the clothing and shoes I have bought from them. If I hadn't sworn to abstinence from any type of shopping for myself this year, I would pick up this pair today, along with a pair in Cognac. Thank goodness I purchased one of their Fit Solution jeans last year, because those are amazing!

If you're looking for a pair of comfortable, versatile shoes for this summer, I nominate these Maire wedges from Target.

I wish I were paid in money or, ahem, shoes, for this post but alas, I am not, I just saw them and remembered how much I liked SamCam's wedges.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From Ballard to Real Life

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Ballard Designs. THAT said, there is no way I can afford their stuff. Maybe someday. On clearance. With a coupon. And a gift certificate. But when I was browsing their new stuff online, I realized I had seen (and owned) some similar items that did not have the Ballard tag.

This ship's wheel is on the Ballard catalog for $99.

Michael's carries an unfinished ship's wheel for $9.99, plus about $4 for some spray paint in your choice of color, and you can have a similar nautical accent that won't sink your budget. Get it? Sink your budget, like sinking a ship . . . never mind.

These gorgeous pictures are sold on the Ballard site for $169. Each. That is definitely way too rich for my blood, considering that lovely botanical prints like these:
can be had from a calendar for about 1/10th the price. Places like Walmart, Target, etc. sell sets of matching frames that can get you the same look for much less.

A set of 3 apothecary jars from Ballard will set you back $49. Which is not a bad price at all, for Ballard.

However, I found this set:
at Ross for $12 a couple of weeks ago and I think they're just as lovely. I can whip up some antique-looking labels on the computer as well, and complete the Ballard look. For now, they hold candy none of us like so we won't be tempted.

What started this post, was in fact, this planter I spied on the Ballard website, for $119.
It has a fleur-de-lis detail, which is what called my eye, because . . .

My awesome husband showed up with this fleur de lis planter from Lowe's:
a couple of weeks ago. It now houses some of our strawberry plants, and it was around $16.99. We picked the strawberries yesterday because my parents were visiting, otherwise we'd have a nice picture with lush, red berries resting languorously on the fleur de lis motifs.

So do not despair if you see something on Ballard that you love, because you can find a similar item for less, or make your own, like I did with these Ballard-inspired alphabet ornaments last Christmas.

Happy Ballard-inspired hunting!

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There is a new link every week so make sure that you follow every Tuesday as the links will not carry over from week to week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Menus for summer and fall

Blueberry pie, with these homegrown beauties.

Beef and Bok Choy stir fry, recipe tried from Real Simple's one month of dinners. This was our favorite from all the ones we tried. Our bok choy is ready to be picked!

Chopped Salad with Shrimp (and our butter lettuce, of course).

Eggs in a Nest from Animal Vegetable Miracle, including our homegrown chard.

Corn on the cob, made with freshly picked corn. I swear I can see these babies growing before my eyes!

PB and (concord grape) jelly sandwiches for the boys.

Egg white omelets with chopped green onions. These are delicious and so healthy, I just love them.

Okay, not a recipe but already, just walking past these young lavender buds is having a calming effect on me. I can foresee lots of cuttings and sachets this year.

For an indulgent treat, I will make mini eclairs with strawberries from our garden, and cream, recipe from The Martha.

Last but not least, I could list about 500 recipes that call for tomatoes, so let's just say that our lovelies will be well used in our kitchen.

I walk around my growing garden with a loony smile on my face. The sight of these growing fruits and vegetables makes me so happy. I'm not even including the trees that are already heavy with growing pears and plums, and our loyal avocado tree, which has given us (and our friends and family) so much goodness already.

My son wants to plant potatoes, and I plan on granting his wish next year. I also want to grow some heirloom varieties from seed. I absolutely love this, and planning meals around what grows in the garden is so incredibly fun. I am truly lucky.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Small changes

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband just got back from a week's worth of business that took him out of town. I took the opportunity to change things around before he could say no make a few changes and see if he'd like them when he got home.

Our main bathroom (i.e. not the master bathroom) has had a jungle theme curtain for a couple of years. I didn't take a picture but it matched these hooks.
Now that my oldest is a cool dude who's into dinosaurs and not so much into jungle animals, I asked him if he would miss the jungle curtain. He said no, and I jumped for joy calmly changed it with a neutral hued one my mom got for me.

The animal hooks went, too, replaced by these gorgeous oil-rubbed bronze pretties.
And yes, I'm eyeing that shower rod, too, because there's an oil-rubbed bronze rod to match the hooks, but I'm on a budget, people! The hooks were $8.99.

Our mantel is tricky to work with because it's propped up against a foam wall. Yes, the brainiac who lived here before decided foam, lovely FLAMMABLE foam, was a good thing to install above the fireplace. Anyway, the mantel can't hold much weight, so I can't really go crazy on there.
We got this IKEA print and we love it, but the whole thing was looking a little too emo for me. I'm 38. I can't do emo anymore.

So on another trip to IKEA, I picked up these candle holders and a little tray I spray painted with Caramel Latte, a pretty neutral with a bit of shimmer, and here's the result after I repurposed some of our rock accents and found a trio of bronze balls (hee) at Ross.
I kept things in the general color scheme but added some more texture.

I love the contrast between the rocks and the candle holders.
All in all, happy with the result, and it was all for under $12.

I had whipped up these curtains for our master bedroom but they did not go AT ALL, so I parked them in the playroom, where we had red/green striped curtains that didn't really go with anything in there.
Our kitty Willie-Boo seems to like them!

Then I figured our sofa needed a bit of cheering up, and asked my mom to transform the aforementioned red/green striped curtains.
I love our burgundy sofa and it's served us well over these past 6 years, so it deserved a bit of accessorizing.

Voila! Mom made some pillow covers that brighten up our sofa.

What's amazing is, the cats aren't scratching them and the boys are, more or less, leaving them along. Color me shocked.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Special Touches

Richella at Imparting Grace is having a party to celebrate the special touches we homemakers strive to give our houses to make them our homes. I thought I'd chime in and share with you all some of the small details that make this house our beloved home.

1 - No matter what goes on in the rest of our house, with our two boys and our two cats, our bedroom is our refuge. My husband is home today after a week out of town on business, so I did an entire bedroom redo and tried to make it welcoming, cozy, and relaxing.

2 - Make sure the natives know how much they matter. My oldest's favorite color in the world is blue, so when I chose this lantern and the candle inside, I went with his choice instead of a more, uh, complementary color for our bathroom. I figure he's in there plenty and is always looking and fiddling with the lantern, why not make him happy?

3 - We try to retain a sense of whimsy - there are many gorgeous and elegant options for this vase, but this sparkly butterfly was unexpectedly perfect for this spot.

4 - We treasure our boys and love to take (and display) the photos we take of them. Every room in our house - except the bathroom where we have nature prints - has photos of our family. We wouldn't have it any other way :D

5 - I was born and raised in Peru, and although 2/3 of my life have been spent in the US, I like to remember my homeland. We can't wait to take our boys there!

6 - Trying my best to have a pretty set table, whether we have company or not. It's tough because we don't have a craft area so we use the dining room table by default but as much as I can, I like to put things back in a nice way.

7 - Remember who "we" are. We're kind of weird and really geeky. We used Sting, Frodo's sword from Lord of the Rings, as our cake cutter because we didn't want a plain old cutting knife. We're crafty, we like to make a lot of our own stuff instead of buying. We've put Sting up really high on the wall away from little hands but we like to be reminded of our own weirdness :D

Are you ready to share the special touches you give your home? Grab the button below and link up!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Five dollars later . . .

I decided to pop into Goodwill because I'm looking for a good entryway bench that's less than $100. Didn't find one, but I came upon this beauty - here she is, all decked out with faux fruit on my dining room table. Uber tacky I know, but until I find what I want, what I really, really want (ha) fake mini-apples it is.

I've been looking for glass jars to brighten up the house, but they've all been more than I wanted to pay, so for kicks, let's see what something similar to My Precious would have cost elsewhere.

Crate and Barrel has a similar one for $39.99.

Pottery Barn has quite the selection and the one that is the closest size to mine is also $39.99

This one from Tarjay is a surprising $35 smackaroos. Really, Target? You pay minimum wage and give a putrid 10% employee discount (I should know, I worked there not that long ago!) and you're charging $35 for this?

Even if Target were selling their jars for half the price, I honestly feel I got a great deal. I don't think my little purchase would have been there a day later so I am very glad I decided to pop in today.

Here are a couple of more looks at my pretty one:

I love how much I can display in there!