Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where did you go, July?

Can you believe that it's already July 31?  I don't know about you, but I feel like this summer has just flown right on by.  We've been to 4 weddings, attended a baby shower for a couple of our friends, visited with family, worked around the house, celebrated a year of marriage, and lots of other fun things that I just don't have time to post about.  In real life though, I work on an academic calendar, so the end of July means that things are just starting to pick up and I'm getting excited for the year ahead!

But before we get there, I thought I'd do a quick little re-cap over some of my favorite parts of this month.

We went to the zoo for our anniversary weekend and the weather was perfect!

And despite all the rain, the yard ended up in full bloom...

I got to work on lots of little crafts, but this is the one I get to wear out on the town...

And this also happened, but you'll have to come back in August to find out about that story.  [Be sure to use the buttons on the right to follow along so you'll be sure not to miss it!]

And one more for August:  this awesomely yummy blueberry pound cake!  I'm excited to share that recipe with you soon!

So, you can tell from these photos that I didn't really do too many house projects this month.  Just wasn't really feeling it.  There are projects that I want to do, but haven't fully decided the best implementation plan and/or haven't really decided what I want to do.  I'm hoping that I can get back into house work mode this next month.  We'll see though.   For now, I'm trying to soak in every last little bit of summer.  

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Monday, July 29, 2013

A happy little surprise

I don't usually splurge on things for myself.  I mean every now and then I do, but not often.  And then recently at work, I got a sweet little card from my boss with a certificate and gift card.  Apparently HR has a program whereby staff can be nominated from various departments for contributions to the team. That in and of itself was a fun surprise that I was thankful for, but made even more so when I realized that there was  $30 gift card included in the award.  So, it's not a lot, but it was more than enough to make my day and allow me to splurge guilt free on some fun little things just for me.  

So, I ended up with these gems below:

1. A silver frame - that I haven't decided where to put or which picture to use in it (but it was a whopping $0.66 from our local thrift store and still in excellent condition, so it came home with me)

2.  That cute set of candle holders.  I love the swirly design of them.  I've been looking for matching candle holders for a while, but am not a huge fan of the really bulky ones that I find everywhere.  These are just dainty enough to be pretty and I love them.

3.  I also got three new nail polish color.  I never buy nail polish because it lasts so long.  But, I really don't have many fun colors, so I was happy to add a little coral (ok...I've got lots of pink/coral/red ones already), green, and purple to the mix.  The colors I picked were all by Sinful Colors.  From right to left, Mint Apple, Dream On, and Island Coral.

I also got these bright green running shorts because let's be real.  When I'm not at work I'm wearing running shorts about 75% of the time.

So no, I didn't splurge on anything huge.  But it was so fun to get all these little things.  And of course, I'm thankful to my co-workers who nominated me for the award.

Happy Monday, guys!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

More ways to connect!

I know, I know.  Two posts in one day.  But I'm just too excited to wait for this one.  I'm so happy to announce that I've finally created a twitter handle for the blog!  So, if you're on twitter and you follow the blog, be sure to use the twitter button over on the right to connect!  Or you can click right here:  @thriftfortoday,  That's a real shocker there in the handle, huh?

Anyway, I'm happy that you're here in the first place.  A follow would really be icing on the cake.

p.s.  I usually schedule the posts to automatically publish throughout the week, but I couldn't wait for this one.  Now you see what I'm really doing on Friday nights...

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The grass is greener where you water it

This quote by Neil Barringham was shared recently by a friend of mine and it has stuck with me since.

It reminds me of another quote that I saw embroidered onto a pillow in a host home that I stayed in for a week while on a short term mission trip several years ago.


Both of these quotes make me think about being strategic and intentional and content where you are and with what you have.

It's so easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side, after all that's the cliche that gets retold over and over again.  And we're so easily convinced that for some reason, we've missed something.  We easily see the little annoyances and burdens in our own lives and assume that we're the only ones that deal with them.  Or we think that things must be so easy for so and so.  Or we wrongly assume that we can fulfill our desires with more things. 

The fact is that you are where you are for a purpose.  And sometimes the purpose is clear and sometimes it's not, but it's there nonetheless.  And I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss today's blessings and [sometimes] lessons, because I'm wishing I was on the other side of the fence.

So this is just a little end-of-the-week-encouragement for you to be intentional about where you are.  Wherever you are.  No matter what shade your grass is, to turn on the sprinkler.  Do what you do, just do it on purpose.  And maybe, just maybe, you'll start seeing things bloom.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DIY Ribbon Necklace

I've been seeing all sorts of cute things on pinterest and around the blogging world recently and it's been causing me to have a craft bug.  We've been doing projects around the house, which I'm happy about and happy to see done, but I've been really wanting to make something fun, that I will enjoy, but that I can easily scrap if it doesn't turn out.  [Trying to be realistic here...]

I've been trying to learn a little bit about jewelry making since statement necklaces are all around and my consisted of a whopping 1, which was a hand me down.  I found this tutorial which seemed simple enough, so I finally grabbed the 40% off coupon and went to Michael's.

And this was the result:

Love it!
And the best part?  It was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!!  I used a strand of satin ribbon that I already had and a 24" chain, which I cut with pliers to be 16" since I wanted the other 8" of chain for another project and I knew that the ribbon would add extra length in the back anyway.  

I think the key here is choosing a chain with links big enough for ribbon and choosing ribbon big enough to fill the links, but small enough to work with.  

Once you've got that, simply string the ribbon through the first link and tie a knot. 

You'll want to use that first link to start your weaving, or it will appear empty.  [The knot doesn't count as using that link.

Next, just weave the ribbon through all the links of the chain.  Over, under, over, under.  Like I said, so easy.

Once you reach the end, you'll want to tie another knot to keep the chain from falling when you wear it, but that's it.  Love it.  Can't wait to wear it out.  

Happy crafting!

Linked up here, here, here, here, here. here, here, and here!
(Be sure to check out these link parties for lots of fun inspiration!)

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Backyard photo dump

Happy Monday!!  Hopefully your weekend was fun and relaxing.  Our yard just keeps blooming  this summer and I wanted to be sure to take plenty of pictures since I don't know how long these are supposed to flower.

I need to learn to garden quickly because I don't want to lose all of these pretty things!

Check out this bush in full bloom in this post.  

So, if you've got any garden tips, or flower saving advice, feel free to send it my way.  

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Friday, July 19, 2013

DIY Wedding Gift

This is one of my favorite projects.  By favorite projects, I mean, I've made one for myself and loved it so much, I've made it as a gift twice.  It's fun to do and I especially like that you can customize it for the bride and groom using their wedding invitation.

The inspiration for this project came about 3 years ago, when I saw a magazine cut-out paper doll craft somewhere online.  My friends were into crafting, and one of them saw this, and made one for herself.  I decided to take the idea, and add my little spin on it.  The original idea looked something like this.  

I decided that I would make not only the girl one, but would add the guy one too.  I love the classic black and white and the handmade style of this project.  

3 across picture frame
2 pieces of 8.5x11 card stock (one black and one white)
Magazine with plenty of text
Paper cutter (or scissors)
Glue stick

Start out with a 3 across frame.  I always use the horizontal one and I always pick 5x7 picture openings.  Not too big, not too small.  

I like the double mat on this with the regular white and then the extra black around the pictures.  

I used my trusty paper cutter by Fiskars to cut white card stock into 5x7 rectangles.  Be sure to save the scraps to use for the details later.  

Draw your patterns on scrap paper.  I do this by hand.  You definitely do NOT have to be an artist to draw these silhouettes.  For evidence of that, see below.  The important thing at this step is to be sure that you draw the patterns to fit in the 5x7 frame.   

Cut the full patterns out and then cut each into sections like so: 

Use each section to trace onto the text of magazine articles.  Once you've cut each piece out of magazine articles, you'll use a glue stick to paste the sections back together to form each of the "people".  You can alternate the direction of the text when you trace the sections onto the magazine paper.  

And last, I use scrap black and white card stock paper to add things like belts, collars, a tie, cuffs, etc.  You can be creative with this and add as few or as many accessories as you'd like.  

Aren't they cute?!

Once you've got both people done, simply insert them into the frame.  You can be creative with the center frame.  For mine [below] I've framed a bible verse and for the gift I most recently made, I framed the couples' wedding invitation.  (For this verse and others that have been designed into fun pieces of art check out Amie's verse project!)

The whole project takes about 30-60 minutes and is a little tedious, but really fun and rewarding to make.  I'm thinking of adding our wedding invitation to the center of ours' now, because I like the recent one I made so much.

Happy Friday!!

Linking up here, here, here, and here.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thrift tip: Swagbucks

I realize that this blog is called "Thrift for Today".  I also realize that while my daily life is pretty thrifty, sometimes I'm not sharing some of the fun thrifty tips and ideas that we use and learn.  So today, I'm giving you one little tip (and I'll try to post more frequently) that we have found to be a pretty simple way to save money.

And so, without further ado,   I give you Swagbucks.  This little gem of a site is free to join and allows you to earn points a number of ways.  Once you save up enough points, you can cash them in for lots of different gift cards or goods.

We always get the $5 gift cards to amazon because we will definitely use them.  And boy have we used them.  To date, the hubs and I have gotten over $400 in amazon gift cards [since fall 2011], which has helped us save on things for our wedding, gifts, and other random little things here and there.

Now, I should be clear.  I definitely wouldn't call Swagbucks a get rich quick plan.  And I definitely will not be quitting my day job to collect more and more gift cards.  But, they do make it so simple, I don't see myself quitting using the site anytime soon.

There are lots of ways to earn points on Swagbucks - you can take surveys, answer a daily poll, use the search bar, play games, watch videos, visit advertising sponsors, sign up for random newsletters, print and use coupons, etc.  Some of it is time consuming and some of it is not, but none of it is difficult.

Basically, it takes some time to earn enough points to get a reward unless you spend more than a few minutes/day on the site.  The way I see it, if I'm browsing the internet anyway, I might as well pick up a $5 gift card every now and then.

They also give you bonus points on your birthday, which is fun.

I realize it's not for everyone, but that amazon credit has sure helped us stay thrifty and I'm definitely a fan.

There are lots of rewards sites out there, but for now, I like swagbucks because you can use it as little or as often as you'd like and still get credit.

For other easy ways to earn some extra cash while you're online, check out this post by Crystal over at Money Saving Mom.  In fact, just yesterday, she shared another Swagbucks Success Story, so if you haven't tried it yet and you've got patience to accumulate the points, I'd say go for it.  

Stay thrifty!

Linked up here.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

A great big thank you!

Today, I want to give a little shout out to April over at House by Hoff for her help with the little get connected buttons over there on the sidebar.  I've only got the bloglovin, pinterest, and email contact buttons for now, but I'm working on getting a facebook and twitter page up for the blog.

I know this seems like such a simple little thing, but I am so happy to have these adorable little buttons in one place instead of separate widgets for each.  I also realize that this is such a simple thing, but for this html rookie, a point in the right direction was really what I needed.  April was kind enough to point me to this site, which has lots of button codes and it worked like a charm.

So thank you, April!

And if you're looking for another fun, real, and creative blog to keep up with, you need to head over to House by Hoff right now.  Need some persuasion?  See below.

Plate and pallet art
Summer starfish wreath

Sunburst Mirror

So there you go.  Check out her site and thank me later.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

One man's trash is another man's treasure

What a true statement.  I always love finding treasures that other people have discarded and making them into something new - whether it's at thrift stores, recycling drop offs, or even dumpsters.  And while we don't make a habit of dumpster diving, we have found some pretty neat things near the recycling/dumpster drop offs in the different apartment complexes we've lived in.  [Our coffee table, the coffee table in our garage waiting to be refinished, our TV table, my nightstand, etc.]  A while back, we found these adorable little glass jars by recycling:


And so, I snatched them up.  There were 5 of them, all in great shape and while I wasn't immediately sure what I was going to do with them, I just loved the shape of them and I really don't think you can go wrong with glass jars and vases.  Worst case, I would toss them back in the recycle bin, right? 

Since they're glass, they're dishwasher safe, so the first thing I did was to wash them out.  I knew that I wanted to paint them, but didn't want them to be too plain, so I grabbed some puffy paint and with a friend, we decided on these simple, polka-dot lines all around the vase.  On one of the vases, we used a sharpie to draw the lines first, and on the other, we just added the paint free-handed.  

Once the paint had dried thoroughly, I sprayed both of the vases with Krylon Indoor/Outdoor spray paint in Satin Ivory.  I knew I didn't want them to be bright white, but also wasn't sure about the house we would be moving into, so I thought ivory was a pretty neutral that would match no matter where we ended up.

I loved working with this paint, but I did learn a few take-aways:
1.  It took a lot of paint - not the whole 12 oz. can, but maybe 2/3 of it, to get these bad boys covered fully.
2.  I won't be using sharpie next time...the paint caused it to run, and then made it harder to cover.
3.  Don't spray paint in cold weather - the paint crinkles almost as soon as it touches the cold glass.
4.  I think I will try to make the shapes less pointed next time.  I like these, but am hoping to do something   more swirly for the others.

That said, I love the new look of them.  Here they are in their new home on the mantle:

And again with some lilies from our yard and an always classic mason jar.  

Best part about this project - getting fun decorations for the price of spray paint.  

Be sure to check out these great link parties throughout the week for fun inspiration and ideas around the blog world!
Linking up here, here, here, here, here, and here
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On being still

It's funny how marriage teaches you things about yourself.  We recently did a relationship  series at our church and one of the key things our pastor kept reinforcing was the fact that there aren't "married people problems" or "single people problems".  There are just "people problems" that are often more clearly exposed in marriage.  

There are some weeks when I'm able to get the kitchen, bathrooms, all rooms cleaned, laundry done (and put away) and have lunches packed each day (because after all, it wouldn't be very thrifty of me to eat out everyday, would it?).  And on those weeks I feel like a domestic queen. 

And then some weeks, we don't have anything for lunch on Monday and on Wednesday, when I go to move the colors from the washer to the dryer, I find the whites from 2 weeks ago that just never got put away. Or, I rotate outfits based on the pile of laundry that I didn't put away (if I'm wearing it, the pile is getting smaller right?).    And no, I still haven't washed the dishes from two nights ago (being honest here), but I'm glad you asked. 

So what about it?  Does it matter?

I'm pretty task oriented.  At almost any given point in a day, I've got a running list of things that need to be done.  Go to the grocery store.  Finish this project.  Decide what I'm wearing to this event.  Have dinner with that friend.  Send an email to this person.  Return so and so's call.  And the list goes on.

And I'm not complaining about this.  I really live a sweet life.  For example, in the 2 weeks that those whites stayed wrinkled in the dryer, I didn't miss them one single bit.  That means I had at least 2 extra weeks of clothes besides those. 

The point is, while my task-oriented is often helpful in getting things done, on weeks where we're busy it just causes me stress.  So much stress. And for what?  Nothing.  My husband is the best in the whole world.  He helps me with these things.  If he's home before me, he starts dinner.  If I ever ask him for help, he's quick to the task. 

More importantly though, my focus on getting things done causes me a lot of time to miss out on opportunities to pray.  And this is the worst thing because it puts space in between myself and God.  It's like the story of Mary and Martha.  Jesus comes to visit and Mary immediately takes a place at his feet.  She is quick to spend time with him and listen.  She is still.  She doesn't worry about the other things that need to be done because she knows that her time is far better spent with her Savior than anywhere else, preoccupied with any other thing.  And then there's Martha.  So eager to get things done.  Frantic about the to-do list and dare I say just plain old stressed out.  She's annoyed that Mary isn't helping her and yet Christ tell us that Mary is the one who has the right idea.

"'Martha, Martha,' the LORD answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:41-42

Wow.  What if I was just still?

And surprisingly enough, when I'm in the word the things still manage to get done.  I just miss all the stress since I'm not being dependent on myself.  I want to be more like Mary.  So if you come over unannounced (or sometimes even if it is announced), pardon the dust.

So, back to the marriage part of this (and if you've read enough of this post, I get it.  It's a little bit of a novel).  How in the world did it take marriage to teach me this?  Well, it didn't, really.  It's just that in marriage, I can't hide it.  Thankfully, hubs is pointing me to Christ likeness and understands the importance of being still.  And when he sees me being stressed about silly things like doing dishes, but not having a quiet time one day, he will immediately intervene and pick up the dish cloth.   Prayer is important.  Time with God matters.  It matters for me, it matters for him, and it matters for us.  The dishes and the laundry...not so much.

I'm grateful for a husband that  reminds me of this and for a God that gives grace.

And I can just hear my mom, telling me "if you think you're busy now..."

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Celebrating a year and looking forward to the others

I realize it's day 8 of July, but June was such a month of celebrations and I'm not quite finished sharing.  After all of our summer weddings, we were able to wrap up the celebrations with our anniversary, so I think that in and of itself deserves a big HOORAH!

So to celebrate, we went out to dinner at Maggiano's on Friday night, which was delicious and fun and a great way to end the work week.

Then on Saturday, we took a trip to the NC Zoo.  I know this sounds like a silly thing to do for an anniversary, but we decided a while ago to do something fun and simple and the zoo was perfect.  We got to spend sometime outdoors, be active, and to do something that we haven't done since we were kids.

Feeding the giraffe

The King of the Jungle

Just monkeying around 

 And then we took one year pictures.  If the dress still fits, I say...also, I'm in love with this little wedding outfit remake that Bryce put together from the thrift store.  So so fancy.

And one year later, the cake still tastes delicious.  I totally forgot that the top layer was chocolate, and I was happily surprised.  I expected to just eat a piece and toss the rest.  I mean, the cake can't be delicious after a full year, right?  Wrong.  Still delicious.  Still eating it.

Thankfully, I was also able to get a little bit of work done on some lingering projects, and I'm excited to share those with you soon!

What a great gift we have in marriage.  I just love him.  Today and all the others.
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