Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cash & Cari...& Crystal too!

I was born and raised in the great state of Michigan, and I happen to be an HGTV addict. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered an HGTV show is filmed there regularly! Cash & Cari is shot in Northville, Michigan and soon became a favorite of mine. When I realized I'd be heading home for a family wedding, I knew I'd be making a special stop by Cari's store: Re-Purpose.

The town of Northville first caught my attention on the drive in. It's beautiful and well worth a visit, but back to why we're here...CARI!

The store can be entered in two ways. From the street...

And from inside the small shopping center it's located in...

Located inside the lobby of the shopping center, Cari's signature "truck" caught my eye...

Like a true tourist, I took advantage of a truck photo-op, but I'll spare you!

Upon entering the store, I was like a kid in a candy store! There was so much stimulation for a decor diva, I didn't know where to look! I would have loved to share a picture of every square inch, but I asked one of the employees their photo policy, and I had to stick to scans of the entire space. When I finally took a moment to stand still, I did capture this...

The shop is full of vintage art, wall art by local artists, refinished furniture, hand painted furniture, lamps, some spectacular and genius light fixtures (you just have to see to believe), clothes, dishes, etc. I had my eye on a pair of reupholstered chairs that I would LOVE to have, but the car space didn't really allow, and I think I would have gotten some bad looks if my 1 year old rode back to Virginia on the hood!

There is also a lot of handmade "Etsyish" items wine bottle stoppers made from vintage door knobs, ipad cases, jewelry and potholders. I snagged a wine bottle stopper (mine's made from what I believe to be an old iron fence finial) and an ipad case that I "Re-Purposed" into a camera case!

Here's the kicker...within 30 minutes of browsing around, CARI CAME IN THE DOOR! We had just asked the staff if she'd be there that day. One girl said, "You never know. She might be here today, because there was an estate sale this weekend, but she hasn't been in in awhile."

I just slowly walked out so I could see her, and my heart hit my toes! I was starstruck and speechless! The same girl came up to us and said, "Did you see she's here. You can go talk to her. She loves that!" I watched as she blew her nose (like a real person), answered the phone and gave direction on where to put what furniture that was being hauled inside.

Soon, we were ready to check out, and I walked up to the counter. She was standing right there-AHHHH! She came around the counter to introduce herself to a "Virginia fan", and I asked if she'd be so kind as to take a picture with me for my blog. She said of course but that she'd been in bed sick the day before, so she thought she looked terrible...As if! We posed for one, and she suggested we take another one just in case. She was right. The second one was much better....

I reluctantly let her get back to work and began digging through a basket of necklace charms made from vintage typewriter keys. There wasn't a "C", so I decided not to get one. Cari reached for something on the counter and handed it to the cashier. She said, "She can have it. You came from Virginia. I was saving it for myself, but I can have her make me another one!" It was the "C" charm (and the best $19.99 I've ever spent). I stumbled over my words with a whole bunch of "are you sures" and "thanks so much" (at least I hope I thanked her)...Needless to say, I haven't taken it off yet!

Oh...I'll be back to little Northville and Re-Purpose. That's for sure!

In the meantime, I'll have to stalk the store's site and wait for a good estate sale near someone I know. If I use the relative excuse, my hubby may be more apt to let me go!

Enjoy your day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

5 Ways to Fabulously Live Free

I've always believed that happiness is something we create, but I also believe that anyone can live well (and be surrounded by beautiful things) on a strict budget! The key is a good eye and a little creativity. Of course, it doesn't just happen. You have to put forth some effort, but your pocket book shouldn't always be the one putting out! The following is my latest list of FREE updates anyone can do around their home! Happy Reading...

(1) Have you ever noticed how set designers usually remove eggs from their cartons and put them in a bowl inside the fridge?! I've seen it in a lot of movies and while watching cooking shows. Then, it clicked. They do it because it looks "upscale" and somehow makes the eggs appear more fresh, but it doesn't cost a cent! Of course, I had to try it. I decided on this mini mixing bowl. That's exactly one dozen eggs, and after moving it around some, I decided having a handle was more practical! Here it is, paired with my favorite clearance Crate & Barrel dish towel ($2)...

(2) Now, this is my favorite instant update, and I always feel a huge weight lifted when I do it...De-clutter! Of course, I'm not one that can stand a lot of "stuff" around me anyway. Usually, if something's in my way for more than a week, it either gets trashed, donated, sold on Craig's List or placed by the curb in hopes someone else takes it home!

Yeah, you read that last part right. I live on a busy road, and last year I discovered just how eager people really can be for another person's "trash". It was the night before the garbage truck ran. We huffed and puffed and hauled a nasty, old, moldy fridge (left behind by the previous owners) out to the curb. Before we could walk back to the porch, someone was already loading it into the back of their JEEP! It was heavy, and the end was hanging out, and I watched in awe as a man and woman put it in!

Since that night, I wait until I have a decent pile of stuff-things too good to be thrown away, but not worth taking to the Salvation Army. Then, I put it close to the road. It's usually gone within hours! I get the satisfaction of giving someone a deal (I like to imagine their expression when they find my treasures) and cleaning my house at the same time. Bonus!

This brings me to idea number...

3.) Gazelle is a great place to make a quick buck. Simply type in the make and model of your old camera, laptops, DVD players (most anything electronic), and they give you a quote based on condition. You can either accept their quote or decline. If you accept, they send you a shipping FedEx label, via e-mail, and you simply package, attach and drop in a FedEx box! In a few short days, they deposit the cash into your PayPal account! They believe in green practices and will even properly recycle any unsellable items! I recently made $14 on an old digital camera that my hubby told me to "just throw away"!

4.) Clean off your fridge. It's that simple. Take. Every. Single. Thing. Off. You will be amazed at how much it opens up your kitchen and how clean it feels! Throw away any unneeded papers. Decide which magnets you REALLY can't live without, and stash those in a drawer. Throw the rest away, or put them in your curb pile! Any important reminders should be written on your calender and the paper tossed. Now, those massive amounts of artwork and school papers...

5.) Organization step number one is to group like items together. Go around your house and gather all of your child's papers. Look through it and decide which should be kept and which you can part with. Most of us also have ribbon, either in our Christmas wrapping box, or in the junk drawer from the countless birthday parties we attend. If you're lucky enough to also have a few clothespins, I have an idea for you. String the ribbon through the clothespin holes...

Now, decide where you want to hang it. Above your child's headboard, at the top of the stairs, near your entry, in the mudroom or in the play room are places I'd look to first. You could also put a shorter version near, or on, your family message board. Next, measure your wall space and decide how long you want it (it will bow from the weight of the art). String the clothespins on, allowing about 12" between each pin. They'll move, but this gives you any idea of how many to string on. Tie a loop at each end...

Pound a few nails in the wall, and allow your child to help you decide what should be pinned where. Keep this system up. As soon as your child comes through the door with something special, praise her, and remind her to replace one of the hanging pieces with the new one! Now, sit back and breathe. One paper problem has been solved!

Enjoy your day!

Easy Art Smock

Of course, if you have the funds, there are a ton of adorable art smocks available. Like these...



You can even find matching mommy and me sets, but there is an affordable option ANYONE can do in three EASY steps!

(1) Find an old adult t-shirt.
(2) Place it flat on a table-front of shirt down.
(3) Take a pair of scissors, and cut a slit in the middle of the shirt, from the hem all the way up to the neck. The slit should just be through the back side of the shirt. The front should be intact. Try to be as straight as you can, but it won't matter if you don't do a perfect job!

Now, even your youngest artist can easily get ready to paint. Have them simply slide their arms into the shirt, so that it looks normal from the front (like putting on a vest backwards). It will stay on just fine and can be washed with your regular laundry loads (when needed)! This works great in preschool and daycare classes too!

Enjoy your day!

Rainy Day Stash-A Parent's Survival Kit

I'll often be posting educational activity ideas, so I thought it might be helpful to have a reference list of items that I think all parents should ALWAYS have on hand. These are easy, inexpensive, items that can be used in countless ways! You can bet that most of my posts will require the use of these items only, so if you stock up now, you'll be prepared to try an activity out right away! If I include anything else, it will be some other common household item (like flour or table salt or toy cars)!

This kit shouldn't be one that your child can get into at will and scatter it's contents around the house. Treat it "special" and get excited when you bring it out or allow access to it. This will help ensure longer attention spans and create memories outside of the daily norm! Of course, I will often give you an activity idea, but bring it out sometimes with no direction. With your child, get creative, and see what masterpieces you can come up with. Always ask questions and keep dialogue open, to ensure "teachable moments" and bonding experiences.

First off...I understand small spaces very well, so don't tell me you "don't have room"! We need a place to store these things, and I'd like to give you some ideas on how to effectively do just that.

1.) Fill a canvas tote bag with these items and hang them on an easy to reach hook, inside your hall closet, or on the back of your child's bedroom door! Extra points if you and your child decorate the "craft tote"! You could also use an old backpack or suitcase-anything you have around the house!

2.) Clear a kitchen drawer and dedicate it to the "rainy day" cause!

3.) Fill a basket, canvas bin or plastic tote with the art supplies. Place it under the coffee table, on top of the fridge, at the foot of your child's bed, under a buffet table, in your china cabinet, on a bookshelf, where you store the board games, etc. If the basket's pretty, it can go almost anywhere! Of course, if you're one of the lucky few with an actual play room, it should go somewhere in there. Make sure it's up high, if you have smaller children!

So...what should you put in this special stash?! Remember: Check around your house, before buying! For items you don't have, most are available at dollar stores. Check there first, and don't pay more than $2.00 for ANY item! Clearance bins, at places like Michaels, is a good place to search too!

1.) Package of construction paper
2.) White School Glue
3.) Scotch Tape
4.) Tissue Paper (like the stuff you put in gift bags)
5.) Child Safety Scissors
6.) A few colors of Tempera Paint (available here)
7.) Some Yarn or String (one color will do)
8.) One Paint Brush per Child (something like this is a good deal)
9.) Crayons
10.) Brown Paper Lunch Sacks
11.) A few Paper Plates
12.) One black Sharpie (for adult use)

That should be plenty! You probably noticed I didn't put children's markers on the list. While children love them, they tend to make a mess, and they really aren't necessary for most art projects! Of course, you can add ink pads and stamps (check Target's dollar section), wallpaper samples, old magazines, buttons, pipe cleaner, ribbon, plastic straws, or anything else you find, but the above list is a basic list and one I will refer to most often! Also, if you buy any of these items online, check the site's "home page" for coupon codes, or do a quick Google search for a coupon code that applies to your order, BEFORE checking out! Often, you can find free shipping deals, 10% off, etc.! It helps and really adds up.

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Etsy Easter-20 Under $20

Easter is almost here, and it's time to put on our bunny ears! As a parent, I've found that the holidays have such a new meaning, and as a result...I tend to go overboard! To be fair, I did wait a long time to be a momma. Besides, aren't those babes so worth it?! Here are some wonderful ways to shower our sweeties in Etsy Easter goodness, without breaking the bank!

Let's get started with our littlest ducklings!

Number 1:
Sarahsewta has a shop full of wonderful finds! Here's one of my favorites...$12.00 (Orange Blue and Lime Green JOJO JR. Minky Dot Boo Boo Rice Bag Baby 6 x 6) He can go in the microwave and help your little one go off to dreamland!


Number 2:
Mimi's Babies is one talented lady! Look at these adorable baby boy booties...$16.00 (Pale Denim Crochet Booties Loafer Set - Choose your Size)


Number 3:
Burpie Bundles is a dream to work with, and her products are both functional and well made! I should know. We have three of her items-2 bibs and a snack bag! Here's one of her awesome wipeable bibs...$7.00 This can also be personalized! (TODDLER BIB Riley Blake's Pink Songbird Wipeable Plastic Coated Bib)


Number 4:
I could go on and on about RaeGun, but I think these speak louder than words...$15.00 (Freshcut -wrap around ruffle diaper covers)

Number 5:
LittleSaplingToys is a super hip place for baby toys. They're homemade teething toys are some of my favorite gifts to give, and with shapes like cupcakes, birds, states and guitars, who could pass these up?! $12.00 (Little Bunny TEETHING TOY-natural wooden teether for infants and toddlers)


Number 6:
Loopty Loo Designs has some precious children's items too. After searching all over Etsy for a news boy hat for my son, I finally found her shop. The prices really couldn't be beat...$16.00 (Child Visor Crocheted Hat--more Colors/Sizes Available--Black and Grey Stripe)

Number 7:
Judy Bag Company is THE place for personalized baby gifts. Again...I've shopped around, and her prices are unbeatable...$8.50 (Boutique Custom Monogrammed Personalized Burp Cloth)

Number 8:
Dolce Vita Mia is a beautiful shop. Once there, you're sure to stay for awhile...$11.99 (THE AVERY Vintage Cream Ivory Beige Off White Cabbage Rose Boutique Headband with Rhinestone Center)

I couldn't share just one of these...$9.75 (THE NORA Aqua Teal Turquoise and Purple Swirl and Sparkle With Grace and Lace Fabric Flower on Vintage Ivory Headband)

 I didn't forget about our Preschoolers and School Aged lambs...The BEST is yet to be!

Number 9:
Tracy of Lou Bug's Boutique is a Northern Michigan beauty and doll to do business with! She makes travel neck pillows, car seat strap covers, puppets and MORE! $7.00 (Dino Dude Baby Toddler Childrens Neck Travel Pillow)

Here's one of her adorable puppets...They look like a Land of Nod puppet but with a personal touch and a much better price! $5.50 (Doggy Hand Puppet)

Number 10:
SDK Designs (out of my home state of Michigan) has one of my favorite Etsy finds of all time-"Balloon Balls"! They are handmade fabric balloon covers. Just insert balloon in the little button hole, blow up, tie, tuck the end in, and sit back and relax as your little ones play! No worry about broken balloons and pieces! These little guys are SO well made too...$7.00 (Fabric Balloon Ball TOY-Royal  Blue with Multi Colored Polka Dots-Great KIDS Item)

Number 11:
Sidewalk Sensations is a fantastic stop too! My niece and I have really enjoyed playing with their sidewalk paint-just add water and get busy! Lots of colors to choose from $3.00 (Sidewalk Paint  Mini-Stack Party Favor)

 Number 12:
Freeze Pop cozies?! Yes...and I know right where to get them! My Happy Hobbies is such a sweet little store! Her "Freezer Pop Cozy" comes in sets of TWO, and they have a strong little magnet sewn in for easy fridge access! I recently purchased some for our son's 1st birthday party, and they were a HIT! $3.00/set of 2 (Magnetic Freezer pop Cozy's....Lolli Dot)

Number 13:
I just adore Kid-N Around Creations and what she has to offer! She has a great selection of dramatic play toys for children of all ages! I especially like her "Easter Bunny" and "Santa Magic Key" that you can hang outside your door on the BIG night! It's such an adorable new family tradition that we started at our house this past Christmas! I had a hard time picking a favorite toy, but here's one...on SALE now for $10.20 (Breakfast Play Food Set)

Here's another cutie...on SALE now for $5.10 (Pretend Felt Play Food Goldfish Crackers and Bag set of 4)


Last one...on SALE now for $12.75 (Hopscotch Set)

Number 14:
Abby Cove is one of my more recent finds. I ordered this in blue, but I can't wait to get it in the mail...$10.00 (Owl Washcloth Washmitt)

 Number 15:
LilBDesigns has a lot to offer-almost too much to mention-so just go check them out! $18.00 (DINE.n.DOODLE(tm) Chalk Mat-Free shipping) Stash this in your purse and pull out at restaurants! There's lots of cute designs to choose from.

 Number 16:
Lather Soap Co. is rather new to the Etsy scene, but she's the sister of a friend of mine (Jaimee of Bushel + Peck Paper)...Plus, she has some really adorable little basket stuffers! I'll be getting these for Preston! $12.00 (Monster Cupcake Soaps)

 Number 17:
Mama May I is your place to find creative and FUN educational toys! I really had a hard time picking here too. In the end, it was the bird that got me..$19.00 (Chick-A-Dee Play Set in Green)

For a smaller budget...$6.00 (Gumdrop Top)

 Number 18:
Emmie's Designs has some of the cheapest I Spy Bags I've found. They're such a great travel activity and video game alternative! This is one of my favorite fabrics...$8.00 (Wheels-Mini I Spy Bag)

 Number 19:
Angela of Dani Jo Designs is a stay at home mom who pulls triple duty as a child care provider and an Etsy shop owner! Her plate is full, but she never skips a beat, and I just adore this chick! Her designs are ideas that often come to her through her child care charges, and I've been lucky enough to WIN one of her alphabet sets. I can tell you, she cares a lot about quality...$7.00 (Box of 12 Crayons-Felt Set)

Number 20:
Now, we need a place to put all these goodies...Sew Gracious  may be the shop to fill that need! Her designs are both adorable and affordable! Here's a couple...$18.00 each



 So, that wasn'y exactly 20, but I hope you had fun! Don't forget that there's some Easter basket stuffers in my shop too!

 Enjoy your day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Feel Pretty...

Call it a hazzard of the job (my husband's words), or a job perk, but I'm on Etsy a good part of my day. Whenever I need a break, or feel like going through some mad money, I start searching for something new to look at. One of the best things about Etsy is all the eye candy, and that can often turn into a purchase for me (see why those item photos are so important)! Because so many join every day, there are countless wonderful artists and shops just waiting to be discovered! Tonight, I came across one of those gems! Room of your Own is full of all things pretty.

Some worthy of a frame or wall space! Take a look at this...

I'd love to pair this with jeans, a thin tee, my favorite over-sized shades, and a colorful clutch! Love Birds can be yours for $39. I'll admit it's a price my budget-friendly self may wince at, but it's a transitional piece for sure that's classic enough to pair with almost anything!

Here's another wonderful piece. I'll admit this shirt first caught my attention too. They just look so great together...

Carrie Bradshaw Inspired Giant Vintage Cream Pearls is $46, but the "mocha" satin ribbon is a wonderful neutral shade for such a statement piece!

Here's some more pretties...

If you're still reading, and you haven't checked out Room of Your Own yet...What are you waiting for?! Pnina Goldberg lives and works out of Jerusalem, Israel, but her shipping is VERY reasonable! I think you'll be surprised!

Ejoy your day!