Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mexican Fiesta on NYE!

New Year's Eve is often a letdown for me.  Much money out the door, high hopes of having a perfect nite crushed by the crowd running over me to the bar, and an expensive outfit I'll never get to wear again.  This year, a pregnant friend of mine and I were discussing the same experiences.  We decided to just stay in and have a casual NYE house party among friends.

Since we've been trying to stay on a budget lately, I decided to go with a Mexican theme for 2 reasons: 1) It's fun and festive and 2) it's really inexpensive for Mexican decor and food.

The Budget: $75.  

Materials Bought:
Poster Boards x 3 $2.07 ($.069 each)
Ribbon $1
Party Glasses (Dollar Tree) $1
Dry Erase Board (Dollar Tree) $1
Pom Poms (Dollar Tree) $1
Mustache Pinata  $7.79 (with coupon)
Mustaches $1.19 (with coupon)
Marshmallows (Aldi) $1.89
Strawberries (Publix) 2.50
Bananas (Publix) $0.69
Shortcakes (Publix) $1.99
Champagne (2 bottles) $27.00
Shrimp (Aldi) $7.49
Avocados x 4 (Aldi) $1.96
Tortilla chips (Aldi) $1.29
Pepper Jack Cheese (Aldi) $1.79
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (Aldi) $0.79
Chili Peppers (Aldi) $0.59
Sour Cream (Aldi) $1.79
Dark Chocolate x 2 (Aldi) $3.98

Materials Had:
Canned Pineapple (Aldi)
Mini Chicken Tacos
Sombreros x 2 (Hobby Lobby)
Canned Diced Tomatoes
American Cheese
Mexican Cheese
Whipping Cream
Chocolate Chips
Vanilla Extract
Instant Coffee
Cayenne Pepper

And so with my materials in place I set to work!  Here's the recipes I used for all food:
Adapted from: Dark Chocolate Kahlua Fondue
1 cup dark chocolate
1 TBSP butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup rum (I didn't have Kahlua so this was my sub)
1 TSP instant coffee
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Heat chocolate over double boiler on medium heat.  Add butter and stir until mixed.  Stir in cream and mix well.  Add rum, coffee, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper and stir well.  Serve over fondue pot.
Regular Chocolate Fondue - also seen here
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa powder

Heat a double broiler over medium high heat.  Add all ingredients and stir often until all are mixed and melted, making sure not to burn.  Once all ingredients are melted and sugar is no longer granulated, pour mix into fondue pot.
Adapted from: Shrimp Taco Bites
24 large frozen shrimps, thawed
Non-stick cooking spray
1 tsp Salt
Lime Juice
2 tsp chili powder
2 avocados, diced
1 cup sour cream
2 TBSP chipotle peppers (ground in food processor)
24 tortilla chip scopps

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and place shrimp across.  Combine 1/2 tsp salt and chili powder and sprinkle over shrimp.  Drip lime juice on top of shrimp.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Add salt and lime juice to avocado pieces and add 1-2 onto each tortilla scoop.  Combine sour cream and chipotle pepper and drop a dollop on top of each avocado.  Pull shrimp out and place on top.
The original recipe also adds cilantro but I skipped it since I don't like the flavor.
14 1/2 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup onion, chopped in food processor
1/2 cup sweet roasted red pepper, quick spin in food processor
4 ox canned chili peppers, undrained
1 bar Monterey jack, cubed
6 slices American cheese
1/2 cup Mexican shredded cheese

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and stir up.  Heat on high heat for 1 1/2 hours then stir again. Serve in crock pot with tortilla chips.

Adaped from: Champagne Jell-o Shots
Champagne bottle (mine was 25 oz)
2 TBSP sugar
4 envelopes Knox plain gelatin

Place 15 oz champagne and sugar into pot.  Add gelatin to top and let soften for 2 minutes.  Heat on low for 2-3 minutes until gelatin has completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and add in remaining bottle of champagne.  Using a ladel, pour the mixture through a funnel into the shot glasses (not required but certainly easier and less messy).  Put in refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set.  Add toothpicks and poms for display (the toothpicks will also make it easier to remove the shots).
One fatal mistake I made: not adding sugar to the top like the original recipe.  Champagne is a little bitter and most of us are used to sipping it (not chugging it down), so definitely don't skip this tip!

I made a balloon chandelier for $2 by blowing up balloons and then hanging them from the ceiling.  I made the 2015 sign by cutting out the numbers on 3 pieces of poster board and then taping the mini balloons to the numbers.  Taped to the wall this became our "photo booth."

I served chips out of one of my sombreros and then put some dips and salsas brought by the guests into my Margarita glasses.  I also sliced up some fruit and shortbread and served the dipping options next to the fondue.  I also had a bunch of chicken tacos from Costco we were struggling to finish so I threw those out on the plate as well.  

At about 11 PM my husband sent out a group text inviting the guests to the garage.  To everyone's surprise - we had a pinata.  This ended up being hilarious because the bat we had for Hudson was much smaller than a realized.  Still, we managed to get the pinata broken and everyone enjoyed a turn.

The photo booth was also a success - everyone got a turn to write their NY resolution on the white board and we took turns taking serious and goofy photos.  

In the end I stayed within my $75 budget ($50 without alcohol) and the party was a hit - especially our little pinata surprise.  This could also all be used for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta this May!  Happy New Year y'all!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Outfits for New Year's Eve on Wardrobe Remix Monday

It's another week, another WRM, and another holiday.  This time it's NYE outfits I'm showing you!  From glitzy glamour to a more subtle sparkle, hopefully you'll find something you like on here, and maybe even something already in your closet.  Happy Monday and Happy Shopping y'all!
Clockwise from top left:
Top $20.30 // Jeans $15 // Pumps $26.90 // Studs $49.99 // Watch $36.75
Pants $11.50 // Sweater $39.90 // Necklace $16.90 // Clutch $44.99 // Pumps $49.99 // Polish $3.64
Center then right and left (wear center with both):
Top $24.37 // Pumps $22.90 // Clutch $24.99
Blazer $19.08 // Earrings $34.99 // Jeans $36.49 // Necklace $24.99
Blazer $17.48 // Pants $24.95 // Bracelets $6.80 // Bangle $8.80

Clockwise from top left:
Leggings $42 // Tee $7 // Necklace $10.90 // Jacket $31.14 // Pumps $34.90 // Clutch $19.80
Sweater $35 // Tights $5.90 // Skirt $68 // Color $18 // Pumps $19.97
Skirt $27 // Shirt $32 // Ring $16 // Crossbody $24.90 // Pumps $29.80
Dress $18.99 // Tights $5.80 // Earrings $15 // Belt $13.41 // Booties $34.90 // 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Easy Chili Dinner with Friends

Today's just a short post since I've been bogged down with the holidays but I thought I'd share this super easy affordable dinner idea!  Some of our good friends and neighbors invited us over for dinner this weekend.  I was a little stressed on getting something together in time but then she told me she was thinking a chili nite.  How great and easy is that?  In the end, they made the chili and I offered to bring cornbread and brownies.  Wanting to keep it festive this is what I came up with for the bread:

Fun, festive and best of all affordable at $1.00 for two boxes of corn muffin mix from Aldi.  I also had a box of brownies I whipped up and we were ready to go.  If you're thinking of doing the same, here's a couple chili recipes (and sides to go with it).
"The Best Chili on Earth"
                                                                       Quinoa Chili                                                       White Chicken Chili

                                                 Cornbread from scratch                                                                Mac and Cheese

Outfits for Christmas on Wardrobe Remix Monday

Following suit with my last post for Thanksgiving outfits, I thought it fitting to share some fun ones for Christmas this time!  As usual, only 2 items over $50.  Happy Monday and Happy Shopping y'all!
Clockwise from top left:
Sweater $32.83 // Necklace $16.90 // Skirt $34.99 // Pumps $49.99 // Clutch $44.99
Ear cuff $3.80 // Sweater $44 // Scarf $9.90 // Jeans $29.99 // Boots $45.50 // Watch $15.90
Skirt $39 // Necklace $27.99 // Shirt $47 // Clutch $44.95 // Sandals $29.80
Dress $23 // Necklace $5.80 // Hoops $45 // Vest $42.42 // Hat $16.80 // Booties $34.90

Clockwise from top right:
Dress $84.07 // Belt $30.46 // Jacket $49.95 // Shoes $19.97 // Clutch $12.95 (sold out online) similar here for $8.49 // Tights $5.90
Jeans $19.95 // Vest $79.95 // Necklace $8.80 // Shirt $39.95 // Shoes $15
Sweater $17.06 // Belt $6.90 // Crossbody $19.90 // Skirt $25.99 // Tights $8.90

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Baby Photo Last Minute Christmas Gift

I realized near the last minute (read: Christmas Eve) that Hudson didn't have a gift for his grandparents.  Oops!  I quickly  rushed out and picked up two 8 x 10 frames at Hobby Lobby for under $25.  I  had a photo of Hudson blown up at CVS 1-hour photo.  A last minute gift for under $30 - that was a close one!  And let's face it - how awesome is that photo?  Thanks to my photographer BFF for capturing that one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

DIY Christmas Cars - Easy & Affordable

I didn't have a lot of time to get our cards out this year with us being gone the first 2 weeks of December.  But I bought these outfits after seeing an adorable family on Pinterest so it had to get done!  Thankfully - they turned out great, and for under $25 for 50 cards to boot!

Materials Needed:
Red card stock - enough for your cards at 2 per card
4 x 6 photos - if you have the time Costco is the least expensive usually, I used CVS and won't again since they messed up the first time
Blank tags
Gold ink
Return address labels (optional)
Spray glue

I started by printing off 4 x 6 squares in the center of 22 sheets of red card stock I purchased at Hobby Lobby for $0.29 each.  This made it easier to center the photographs I was attaching.  I also printed lines along the edges of the paper for where I would be making the cuts (my cards were 5 x 7).  This made using a paper cutter much quicker.

I then sprayed the back of each photo (got 50 prints at CVS for $5.50) with glue and attached it to the card in the printed rectangle.  Once those were all completed, I then began affixing the blank tags I got for $1 each using the same spray adhesive.  I centered those on the top right of our photo.  Last, I used my $2.75 Christmas stamp to stamp the words in gold ink (got it for $4.80 with a 40% coupon) onto the tag.  Once they were dry, they were ready to go in the envelopes for addressing and mailing.
I think they turned out cute, no?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gift Wrapping on the Cheap

Every year I spend tons of time on my gift ideas, and always forget to wrap them!  This year, I decided not to slack on wrapping and used some inspiration I found at Marshall's Instagram to help:

While I didn't end up going with their design I thought it was too cute not to share!  Here's mine.  I used paper for $3.50 from Hobby Lobby (best deal I've seen), and gift cards and ribbon left over from last year - never throw away!  Throw in some hot glue to assemble the ribbon bows and some scissors to curl and I was done.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY Antique Mirrored Serving Tray - One of a Kind - Affordable Gifts #3

Thankfully after the personalized frame disaster, I found something that worked out a little better.

Materials required:
Mirror (pick based on desired size of tray)
Paint stripper
Muriatic acid
Black paint (regular latex will work fine)
Sponge on stick (one large one will be easiest)
Paper towels
Nitrile gloves (for working with chemicals)
Safety glasses
Paint brush
Spray Bottle

I picked up a cool oval mirror at Big Lots for $25.  It had an antique restoration hardware look I thought would be perfect for my brother and sister in laws apartment.  It was a pretty large mirror, but I figured that would work perfectly for a tray.

To start out, I pulled all the pieces of the mirror apart (pretty simple, since it just required a drill to remove the back screws).  I now had a backing, a frame, and a mirror.

To start, I picked up drawer pulls (similar, exact ones not shown online) for $6.  I also got Paint Stripper for $10 and Muriatic Acid for $7, along with a spray bottle for $3.77.  Adding some black paint for $0.50 I was in and out for less than $30.

To start, I drilled small holes using the 5/8" drill bit in the sides of my mirror, lining them up with the drawer pulls.  I then drilled the screws through the holes, securing them in the drawer pulls until they were tight.  

Next, I used the paint thinner to remove the paint on the back of the mirror.  It took me a couple of passes with a paint brush and the thinner to get everything off.  Be careful with this stuff and wear gloves - I accidentally got some on my arm and it burned!  Thankfully, with some intense rinsing with soap and water I got it off my skin.

Next, once the mirror is dry and all paint is removed, I rinsed it in the sink to remove any excess paint flakes.  I then took it outside and placed it on a towel with the previously painted side facing up.  I carefully poured the muriatic acid into the spray bottle (wear gloves and safety glasses for this) and then sprayed the acid onto the mirror.  I realized that since I used a "safer" version, I had to spray all over the mirror, wipe with paper towels, and then spray again.  I also had to let the second spray sit for an hour to get it to work.  

Once the acid had removed the mirror finish, I took it in the yard and rinsed it off with water, then dried with a towel.  Last, I painted the entire back with the black paint.  Other tutorials said to only paint the exposed spots with black paint, then spray paint the rest but I thought this was a more affordable option that worked just the same.

Once dry, I put the mirror back into the frame and replaced the back.  Project completed for less than $60!  If I'd had more time I might have also considered putting an "A" on the front or the couple's initials - helpful tutorial here.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Teal Blazer on Wardrobe Remix Monday

Love, love, love this piece - a great way to add in a pop of color to a neutral outfit or match a busy floral print.  Like most of my pieces, my original is a couple years old from Forever21 (similar) I'm including an adorable and affordable one below.  As usual, only three items over $50 (and only by $10 max).  Happy Monday and Happy Shopping y'all!
Clockwise from top left:
Skirt $44 // Blouse $50 // Necklace $5.90 // Belt $7 // Pumps $22.90
Tee $9.90 // Scarf $9.99 // Jeans $19.90 // Bracelet $14.95 // Booties $32.90
Blazer $32
Pants $39.98 with code BEQUICK // Top $22.11 // Watch $24.80 // Pumps $49.99 // Tote $60
Sweater $17.99 // Pants $34.95 // Nail Polish $9.50 // Pumps $34.90 // Crossbody $19.90
Clockwise from top left:
Tights $28 // Earrings $4.80 // Dress $60 // Belt $6 // Clutch $45
Blouse $24.95 // Necklace $29.40 // Shorts $14.80 // Clutch $22.43 // Wedges $49.99 // Sunglasses $5.80
Blazer $32
Dress $3.37 (no that's not a typo!) // Earrings $3.90 // Ear Cuff $2.90 // Cuff $5.90 // Booties $44.99
Earrings $44 // Blouse $23.13 // Jeans $19.95 // Handbag $31.48 // Flats $12.97 // Ring $29 // Bracelet $51.29 with code FASHION123

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pottery Barn Knockoff DIY Wedding Song Lyrics Photo Frame - Affordable Gifting #2

Ever heard of Pinterest Fails?  This project was definitely like that, except I never had a Pin I was going from so it was mostly trial and error.

Materials required:
16x20 (or any size, really) Frame
T-Shirt Transfer paper (if you're brave enough to try my fail)
Burlap fabric (if you're brave enough to try my fail)
Stapler (if you're brave enough to try my fail)

I started out with a frame from Big Lots I picked up for $20.  The exterior was a 16 x 20 with a mat board that left 8 x 10 for a photo of the couple I planned to use.  The mat board looked sort of like a pale burlap so I thought that was perfect for the Pottery Barn knock off I wanted to create.

I picked up 3 sheets of T-Shirt Transfer Paper for $4 with a 50% off coupon.  I then went to work creating my masterpiece.  I had to ensure my words lined up with the area on the mat.  Since my printer only prints up to 8x10, I did 3 sheets (one for top/one for bottom/one for both sides).  For the top and bottom, I had 16" x 3" of space to work with.  On the sides I had 4" x 10".  I used MS Publisher to create text boxes to the size I had to work with and set off trying to figure out the font sizes I would need to fill up all the text boxes evenly.  In the end, I used size 24 in Felix Titling and 36 in Palace Script for a few accent words (these were the same fonts I used on the couple's wedding invitations so I found it fitting).

Error 1: Trying to print mirror image.  Apparently in Publisher you cannot print mirror image which is a requirement for this project to work out when you do the transfer.  After searching the web to find a solution, I finally found one that advised me to "copy" my text box and "paste special" as a JPEG.  I could then flip the image horizontally to get it where I needed for printing purposes.

I continued on my quest and printed out the 3 sheets of paper.  I followed the instructions on the transfer using a pillowcase to cover my project and an iron turned all the way high with no steam.
Initially, I had success!

Error 2:  If your image is peeling up a bit after you've removed the backing, DO NOT go back and iron it again.  I did this, and when I tried to lift it up again, the pillowcase was stuck to the words and ripped them off entirely (see photo below).

So with my project essentially destroyed, I was back to the drawing board.

Error 3: I decided to try to salvage it by putting some fabric over the ruined board.  I picked up some thin insulating fabric from Hobby Lobby and used Modge Podge to apply it over the board, cutting it using this tutorial.  Not only did I end up with wet spots from the glue, but also could see the remainder of the words through the fabric.  Ugh.  Photo not included for obvious reasons.

Back to the drawing board yet again!  I had some leftover burlap from an old project so I used a stapler to staple the burlap tightly over the mat and then cut out the inside and stapled again.  So far, so good.  I then used the remaining T-Shirt Transfer Prints and started out with the bottom.  All good, until I pulled off the bottom right section and realized it was at an angle.  FML.  Seriously.

Error 4: Not making sure the paper stayed in the same spot under the pillowcase before I began ironing. '
I just about gave up at this point, and did give up on the transfer but decided to go with my original idea which was putting words on the photo itself around the couple (I'd seen something similar here). Once I opened up the photo, I realized my next error.

Error 5: Failing to verify photo orientation BEFORE I began the project.  Even if ALL the other steps had worked properly, when I went back to my computer I realized the photo I had was a landscape orientation, and the way I was transferring was for a portrait.

I should have given up at this point, I really should have.  But I had to get this done for Christmas so this was my LAST attempt.  I used Photoshop to once again space my words into the area of the photo.  This time it was a little more tricky because I had mixed spaces and not fixed areas to work with.  In the end, since they didn't have the same fonts I wanted, I used Book Antiqua Bold in 28 pt and Kuntzler Script in 42 pt.

With everything completed, I went to go have my image printed at CVS.

Error 6: Not ensuring my original photo was the right aspect ratio for my frame.  I went to check out on a 16" x 20" photo and realized my original was 4" x 6".  Read: does not go equally into my frame  The closest was a 16" x 18" but it would have taken everyone I looked at at least 2 weeks to mail (except Fedex which wanted $89, no thanks).

Thank God for Photoshop y'all because if not for it I would probably be in a mental institution right now.  The program allows you to change your aspect ratio without completely distorting your photo. I was able to swap into a 16" x 20" aspect ratio without completely altering the photo.  It is a little different, but see below for before and after - not too bad.

So finally, I got the photo uploaded to Walgreens (they had a better deal on 16" x 20" enlargements) and picked it up a few hours later.  Perfection!

In the end, I spent $30 on this project, so not bad for a homemade beautiful (after a couple tries) gift when the PB version was $40 for the frame only!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DIY Seashell Wine Glasses - Affordable Gifting #1

The holidays are upon us and with almost 2 weeks until Christmas I have been frantically trying to get my gift list in order.  Spoiler alert - if you're a member of my family don't look at these next couple posts!

Materials required:
Wine glasses
Seashells and seashell pieces (broken)
Modge Podge
Hot glue gun & hot glue

This year we're on more of a budget than we've ever been so I am trying to get crafty and make some Christmas gifts that come more from the heart than from the wallet.  Idea #1 - Seashell wine glasses for my brother and sister-in-law:

I started out with 4 wine glasses for $9.98.  We recently visited Costa Rica and I had a bunch of shells I had brought back specifically for this idea.  After pulling out and cleaning off the glasses, I applied modge podge (under $5 if you don't have it at home already) and then sprinkled the small pieces of shells I had brought back.

Just to make sure they stuck, I let them dry on the step above for 24 hours before starting the next one.  Once dry, I applied hot glue to the full size shells I had set aside to place on top.  I allowed that to dry for 20 minutes and then applied more modge podge with a sponge.  Be careful on this step - I applied too much the first time around and it ended up being a huge mess!

Once again, I let the glasses dry for 24 hours.  I checked for any additional spots to be touched up, and then I was done!  

Hopefully they'll go over well - along with a bottle of wine of course!  If you're not the DIY type, I'll be listing these on my Etsy page soon!