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Friday, January 30, 2015

DIY Mirrored Vanity

I have been coveting the mirrored vanity below for many many months.  However, spending $1,300 just wasn't in the works and thus I decided to venture to make one myself.

I browsed the Buy Sell Trade groups in my area and finally found one I thought had potential.  It needed a lot of work though, so here is my tutorial for my DIY mirrored vanity.

What You'll Need
Piece of Furniture to Refinish
Metallic Finish Paint $3.76
Gorilla Glue $4.97
Mirrors, Cut to Size
Sandpaper $2 (depending on refinishing needs)
Champagne Paint $15.54


Step 1: Find your piece
It could be something you find online, at a flea market, or even in your own house.  Just find a piece that works for you and fits in your space.  Mine was $50 on a BST group on Facebook.  When I brought it home, it had wallpaper glued on top (hard to see in photos below), antique handles and flaking grey paint.  But it was $50, so who cares.

Step 2: Strip/Prime/Paint (where applicable)
I did what I could removing the paint with sandpaper and then used Mirror Finish spray paint to spray all the places that would show outside the mirrors (don't waste paint on those that won't).


Leaving that time to dry (about 3 hours), I then took some leftover champagne paint from my kitchen project and painted the edges (trim) of the piece).


Step 3: Measure & Have Mirrors Cut
I began this project with the idea in my head that I'd just cut the mirror myself.  I went to Home Depot and picked up a cheap wall mirror and a glass cutting tool kit.  I tried a couple of times but all I succeeded in was breaking a couple pieces of mirror.  My hands weren't steady enough to get the cutter in a straight line and in the end I decided to leave it to the professionals.  First I inquired with a local glass cutting company, but they charged $10 a cut - yikes!  I checked online at the bigger box retailers and found out Lowe's will cut glass if you purchase there.  

I headed over with my measurements and encountered another hiccup.  I wanted to optimize the amount of glass I got out of each piece (they only had 24 x 36 pieces) so I had to plan out all the cuts to ensure the maximum amount of mirror (and least amount of waste) from each.  This took me back home with a return the next day, finally getting this done.  I can't say these guys were that enthused to help me and at first they told me they didn't have mirror/do cutting until I walked them over and showed them where it was.  So don't let them tell you they don't if you do the same!  I left with my cuts 30 minutes (and a couple breaks later) and in the end spent $35.  

Finally it was time to attach the mirrors to the piece.  I used gorilla glue and found it worked like a charm.  I just made sure to have all my pieces clamped with painters tape while they dried.


Once all the mirror was finished and dry, I glued some handles on with the remaining gorilla glue. Adding some decor and I was finished with my piece.  It did end up a little short so I may end up attaching some caster wheels to add some height but otherwise it works out great!  And at $100 (with caster wheels) versus $1,300 I think I'm satisfied!





Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pretty Colored Mustard Pasta on What's for Dinner Wednesday

Just a quick post today because this pasta is so quick (but so yummy).  Thought it was appropriate after the mustard sweater WRM post since this has mustard as a main ingredient.  Bon Apetit mes gracieux lecteurs!

Adapted from here
Ingredients
1 lb tri-color pasta (or really any kind you have on hand)
2 TBSP dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Tomatoes, cubed
1 tsp dill spice
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, cubed
1/2 green pepper, cubed

Directions
Cook your pasta according to package directions.  
While cooking, whisk together the mustard, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.  Add salt and pepper.  
Drain pasta once cooked, and mix with remaining vegetables.
Toss in dressing mix.  
Enjoy!  Told you it was quick!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mustard Sweater on Wardrobe Remix Monday

Featured in last week's WRM with a black midi skirt, I thought this was a great piece that can coordinate in many ways.  It's also flattering on just about any skin and hair combination.  As usual, only 1 item over $50.  Happy Monday and Happy Shopping y'all!
Clockwise from top left:
Skirt $5.84 // Tights $5.80 // Shirt $39.50 // Necklace $10.99 // Boots $23.30 // Bag $44.99
Shirt $44.50 // Pants $39.99 // Trench $28.33 // Shoes $11.99 // Sunglasses $5.90
Sweater $28.40
Pants $60 // Coat $45.46 // Headband $22.69 // Boots $47.99 (use code 9813117403487389) //  Shirt $47.60 (use code VDAYSHOP)
Jeans $39.67 // Scarf $11.99 // Shoes $9.99 // Bag $29.95
Clockwise from top left:
Leggings $25.50 // Jacket $49.95 // Bag $42 // Shoes $39.95 // Shirt $39.95 // Necklace $5.99
Jacket $45.36 // Pants $26.99 // Bag $14.95 // Gloves $24.93
Sweater $28.40 // Pumps $22.90 (wear with both top and bottom)Watch $24.80 // Rings $19.95 // Skirt $24.95 // Belt $16.99
Cape $25 // Leggings $17.95 // Earrings $35 // Booties $37.80

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Motherhood Survival: Tips for Baby Sleeping & Mom Staying Sane

When I was pregnant with Hudson, I picked up every baby book available: Bringing Up Bebe, What To Expect When You're Expecting/The First Year, Baby Wise - you get the picture.  I also poured over BabyCenter and The Bump trying to anticipate every step I needed to take during pregnancy and after to ensure a perfectly planned and executed delivery and childhood for my precious boy.

At nearly 10 months after his birth, I look back and think F#$% That S^&*.   

Let me explain.  

My nursery did turn out perfect, exactly the way I wanted it.  My pregnancy wasn't too bad (minus the 60 lbs I gained and the horrible heartburn the last month).  Comparatively, I can't complain because I know there are many terrible things that can go wrong so I am grateful I was spared.  I had my hospital suitcase packed a month prior to my delivery date, complete with all the items on every hospital preparation list I could find plus the very necessary push gown.
 
Source                                                                          

In the end, I didn't have to grab my bag in a hurry because I was scheduled for induction.  We got to the hospital around 5am, I was given Pitocin about 8, epidural around 10, and Hudson arrived in the world just before 6 PM.  The time in between was pretty easy.  Since I had my epidural I was able to sleep, read (definitely bring books/magazines/e-reader) and watch TV during the labor process.  Once it came time to push Hudson came out on the 4th try so I was able to see my sweet angel very quickly.  He was literally the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

We took him home after the 2nd day at the hospital and thus began our perfect new life as a family. NOT.

Nursing
For me, nursing was hard.  It was painful and I just couldn't seem to get him to stay suctioned on my nipple properly.  He also never seemed to be completely full and satisfied after each feeding.  What helped was a nipple shield the nurses at the hospital gave me.  I began to use it each time we fed and it seemed to help ease the pain and get him the amount of food he needed.  

Hudson was born on a Wednesday.  Sunday is when it all went to hell.  

After a particularly trying day with Hudson eating nonstop and my nipples feeling like they were straight out of a page of 50 Shades, I finally was able to doze off with him on the couch for about 15 minutes.  Then my husband came in.  "What does Tuckerbelle [our golden retriever] have in her mouth?" He asked.  I called her over.  "Tuckerbelle!  Tuckerbelle!"  She trotted over with a look of guilt and I forced open her mouth.  I began examining the piece of shredded clear, flimsy plastic to figure out what it was.  Then sheer panic began to ensue.  Then hyperventilating.  Then a full blown panic attack/hysterical breakdown/trip to the psychotic ward.  Kidding about the last part.  But, the item in question was my nipped shield.  My ONLY nipple shield.  

"ICANNOTDOTHISIWANTTORETURNHIMHEHATESMEIMAHORRIBLEMOTHERIMAFAILUREATLIFEWHYDONTIJUSTENDTHISNOW!!!!!!!!!!"

Probably some more curse words were involved but until now I tried to black this moment out of my mind.  Now I look back and laugh.  My sweet husband gave me a hug and told me we could do this, that even though he may not know yet how to show it Hudson loved me and I was doing an amazing job.  He piled our family in the car and took us to Target to purchase some more nipple shields.  I have so much respect for people who do this alone because at that moment I realized I could not be more grateful for my husband.

After a few more weeks of nursing I had another mini-breakdown.  I tried to pump milk rather than give it directly to Hudson.  I pumped out 1 ounce in 45 minutes.  Then in my sleep-deprived state I went to rinse my pumping tools and ended up rinsing the milk down the drain.  My husband wasn't home at that time but thankfully I had some formula from the birthing class we took and I switched to that and have never looked back.  

I share all of this because nursing is wonderful, but it is not for everyone.  I had a friend (another mother) who told me "Whatever you can give him is exactly what he needs."  In a society with so much pressure and judgment around nursing that was exactly what I needed to hear.  So of course, I had another sobbing breakdown.  

Sleeping
The first two months after we brought Hudson home are hazy.  I have heard God created a woman's mind to forget the hard stuff with children so we will be able to procreate.  Personally, I think it's because God realizes we need all the brain cells we can to supervise them once they get older so why waste them on memories of what is no longer necessary?

I know for the first two weeks he slept in a swing next to our bed.  I could pick him up and nurse him and then put him back in the swing (or more often fall asleep with him on top of me).  I woke up in a panic numerous times thinking I would crush my baby - I never did.  

After two weeks we moved him upstairs to his crib and I slept across the hall.  I had a friend who told me the longer you take to move them the harder it is to get them used to this.  Whether that's right or wrong, it worked for us.  

During the day, I fed Hudson whenever he was hungry.  I realize BabyWise would probably punch me in the face for this but I didn't have the heart to let him cry because he hadn't gone 3 hours without a meal.  Days were all over the board.  He might sleep for 3.5 hours and then wake up and be hungry, or he might want a meal every hour.  Bottom line, I met his needs.

At night, I developed a routine with him: starting at 9pm a gentle lavender sponge bath, application of lavender lotion, and then swaddling in a Halo sleep sack.  I don't know if I sucked at swaddling or had the incredible Hulk for a child but every time I swaddled him myself he escaped.  I then rocked him in the glider and gave him a bottle, putting him in bed after he was asleep.  The exact same thing every nite. 

He generally woke up 2-3 times a nite in the beginning (first 4 weeks), then it gradually began to slow.  1-2 times at 5 weeks.  Once at 6.  At 7 weeks he was sleeping through the nite.  9-7.  Yes you read that correctly.  10 hours of sleep for him.  10 hours of sleep for me.  I felt like a new woman.  

Now I realize experts would scold me and say a baby cannot sleep that long and there's a problem blah blah blah.  I am certainly no expert, just a mom trying to do the best I can and for me the method above worked.  

This is my baby today, at 10 months old.  I'd say things are working out pretty well.  

In summary, here's my best short list and tips for new & expecting moms:

Notice I don't have birth plan on that list.  At the birthing class I attended, the nurse (who used to work in the birthing unit at our hospital) told me nurses hate them.  They are going to do whatever they can to make sure you're comfortable and have what you need unless it interferes with your or the babies safety.  I didn't bring mine, told my nurse what I'd heard, and she thanked me and was a rock star the whole time.  Just something to consider.  If you must have one, maybe just keep it stashed for safe keeping unless the need arises.  

 When the baby comes home, I only have a couple of tips:
1.  Do what works best for you and your baby.  Forget what the "experts" and everyone else tells you.  Nature built you for this so you'll figure it out.

2.  Take some time to yourself.  The first few months are hard so if you need a nite's sleep and need your husband/mother/mother-in-law/sister/friend/whoever to take over for a nite, ask!

3. Don't beat yourself up over not sticking to your plans (see number 1)

4.  Invest in wine.  You can have a full glass even if you're nursing (my pediatrician approved it).  For those that are more cautious, they invented these.  

5.  Take a breather.  If your baby won't stop crying and he/she's been fed/bathed/snuggled/ensured not sick, sometimes you need to let them cry for a little bit to save your own sanity.  I'm not talking hours here, but before you lose your mind put them in the crib, grab a glass of wine, and take a bath.  Then resume daily exhaustive duties as normal with your mind a little more calm.  

That's all folks.  I'm no genius, just a mom trying to get through it like the rest of this.  Kind of like this mom (if you haven't seen it watch it's hilarious!!!)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Full Black Midi Skirt on Wardrobe Remix Monday

I purchased my black midi skirt last year from Express (on sale of course) and I am obsessed with its uber-femininity along with the vintage look it conveys.  Here's 8 ways to wear it and only 1 item over $50! Happy Monday and Happy Shopping y'all!
Clockwise from top left:
Sweater $12.99 // Bag $14.90 // Shoe clips $14.95 // Pumps $35.99 // Earrings $8
Shirt $42.50 // Necklace $25.49 (with code FORYOU15) // Watch $15.90 // Pumps $17.99
Skirt $47.52
Necklace $29.99 // Blouse $32.31 // Shoes $44.97 // Bag $39.99
Tee $32 (get 20% off with email signup) // Necklace $17.80 // Pumps $22.89 // Lipstick $39

Clockwise from top left:
Top $20 // Necklace $13.80 // Jacket $34.08 // Bag $38 // Shoes $24.97
Stockings $48 // Sweater $22.74 // Snood $14.50 // Watch $22.80 // Booties $28.43
Skirt $47.52 // Clutch $45.48 (wear with above and below)
Jacket $76 // Tee $40 // Pumps $34.90 // Sunglasses $5.90
Blouse $17.99 // Necklace $14.80 // Bag $29.95 // Wedges $29.20

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Porch Decor

Christmas is over, and as much as it pains me I had to take down my adorable Christmas front porch for wintertime.  Since the next major holiday isn't until April (Easter), I have been pondering what to put on the front porch to keep it from looking so...cold (pun intended).

I found a few ideas on Pinterest to inspire me and I think I'll try out a couple over the next week and post my progress next Friday.  Anyone else have this issue during the bland winter months?

Lanterns
1. Source // 2. Source  3. Source

Source
Source


1. Source // 2. Source

I already have pine cones leftover from Christmas, got the lanterns and a sled with skates.  All I need is to make the winter pillow and the cold sign and add a few snow accents to my topiary evergreens.  Finished porch will be up next Friday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Blue Apron Review: Chicken Tacos on What's for Dinner Wednesday

For Christmas this year my husband gave me a Blue Apron subscription.  We only planned on trying it for 1 week but since their cancellation policy includes a 7 day advance notice, we ended up with three weeks of meals.  I decided to put the chicken tacos this week as what's for dinner.

While I liked the idea of Blue Apron, I think there's a few things that could be improved:

1) $20 per meal for 2 people seems a little pricey too me, especially since you use up all the ingredients provided (read: nothing left to use later).  However, the portion sizes are large so you may be able to stretch it out to 3 servings depending on appetite.

2) There is still a TON of prep involved.  Most items come as a whole and have to be sliced, chopped, minced, etc.  It takes a lot of time.

3) The auto-renew system.  I loathe these so that solely depends on individual opinion.

The staff seems really friendly and they include a letter about the meals to you in every delivery. Overall, while the meals were good we probably won't be able to keep up the service since it's about half our total monthly food budget for 12 meals.  However, if you are wanting to eat healthy and want to allocate more money to your food budget for the convenience of the ready-to-make portion sizes and ease of having something sent to your home, Blue Apron is for you.




Pulled Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 corn tortillas
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
8 ounces jicama
2 cloves garlic
2 limes
1 avocado
1 red onion
1 large bunch cilantro
2 tsp chicken taco spice blend (ancho chile powder, chipotle powder, ground cumin, mexican oregano & dried orange peel)


Directions:
Peel & Cut the jicama into matchsticks.

Peel and mince the garlic.  Using a peeler or a citrus zester, remove the green rind of one of the limes, avoiding the white pith.  Mince the rind (I skipped this step since it was so time consuming and just used the peeled pieces).  Quarter both limes.

Peel, pit and medium dice the avocado.  I had to skip this step since the below is what my avocado looked like when I sliced it in half.  Toss with the juice of two lime wedges to prevent browning (too late for me).

Peel and halve the red onion.  Thinly slice one half and small dice the remaining half (I just stuck mine in my food processor).

Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems and discard the stems.  Assemble all items for use (not required but looks prettier =).

In a medium pot, heat 2 tsp of olive oil on medium heat until hot.  Add the garlic, lime zest, diced onion and spice blend and cook stirring frequently 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and 3/4 cups of water.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and add the chicken to the sauce.  Heat 12-14 minutes, turning halfway through until completely cooked.  While chicken is cooking, mix the jicama, sliced onion, diced avocado (if you have one), 3/4 of the cilantro and the juice of 4 of the lime wedges.  Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Pull the chicken out and shred with 2 forks.  Warm the tortillas in a damp paper towel for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Assemble the tacos using the chicken, pouring some of the sauce on top, then adding the salad.  Voila!  Meal complete.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Affordable Workout Outfits on Wardrobe Remix Monday

I have a hard enough time getting myself to work out, so figuring out what to wear just puts in an additional wrench in my plan I do not need!  I decided there had to be a better way so I came up with some outfits that mix and match so I'll never have the excuse "I have nothing to wear" to keep me from working out.  As usual, only the shoes are over $50, and I tried to show some variety in the same pieces to reap the most out of the investment.

For some more tips on how to get fit on a budget, check out this article by Lauren Conrad.  Happy Monday and Happy Shopping y'all!
Clockwise from top left:
Bra $12.46 // Top $8.98 // Shoes $12.48 (click here for conversion table - sorry they only go up to W8, but keep in mind since kids shoes are so much less!)
Pants $17.48 (wear with the left or right)
Top $36.99 // Bra $7.90 // Hat $35
Shoes $52.99 (wear with the top or bottom)
Tank $9.96 // Headband $8.90
Bra $46 // Leggings $21.80 (wear with the left or right)
Tank $4 // Laces $4.99 // Shoes $89.99
Hoodie $34 (wear with the top or bottom)

Clockwise from top left:
Jacket $25 // Shoes $59.95
Leggings $49.99 (wear with left or right)
Bra $46 // Tank $39.50 // Shoes $52.99
Tank $4 // Bra $39.95 // Shoes $49.95
Pants $7.96 (wear with left or right)
Tee $34.25 // Bra $12.96 // Shoes $12.48

Friday, January 9, 2015

Weddings on a Budget: 100 Ways to Save

Congrats to everyone who got engaged over the holiday season!  Since this is the most common time to be recently engaged, I thought I'd share some ideas on how to save money during your wedding. Here's a list I compiled to help keep you on your budget.  Of course if you're local, you can always hire Mrs. Gracious to do that for you =)!!!