Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mod Podge Fun and Poofy Things

I had a wonderfully fun craft day with my friends this morning and I wasn't sure what I wanted to work on, so first I made a tissue paper pom (that would be the pretty white poofy thing in the background of all these photos). It took far less time than I expected, so then I got really ambitious and decided to (drumroll please...) MOD PODGE!

I am something of a Mod Podge virgin, I must admit. But my good friend across the table from me was flinging Mod Podge across her project with abandon, and she made it look so fun I just had to try it. So I did! I grabbed one of my many unfinished goodies from my craft room, in this case a plain wooden box, and started pulling papers and embellishments and stamps and ink and then I just basically went to town, turning a plain little wooden box into a lovely little trinket box. Can you believe it's covered in paper, not paint? I do not know what it is for. But it's cute. So I'm happy.

Yay for Mod Podge! And I got so excited about my little foray into Mod Podge Land that I thought my daughter should join me (and when she got home she saw all my craft stuff still on the kitchen table so of course she just HAD to make something) so we made collages. I call mine, "April Showers."

And yes, that's my pom in the background.

So today I made three things, all of which I think are just lovely, and none of which I have the slightest idea what to do with. But I'm okay with that. :-)

Check out more fun crafty projects at The Shabby Chic Cottage's Transformation Thursday!

Post-Valentines Looooove

Valentines Day is past and Easter is just around the corner, so stores are now trying to clear out the old to make way for the new! Which is great news for us bargain hunters, as it means we will be getting some awesome deals here in the next few weeks.

Today I stopped by CVS and discovered their Valentines clearance for 75% off, meaning that we are now in the "sweet spot" for the after-holiday sales- it's the time when we've moved past the not-so-discounted discounts (think 25-30% off) and we're into the deeper discount phase (75%+ off). Because we're not into the rock-bottom discount phase yet (90% off baby! whoo!!) there is still a good selection in the stores. That's why I consider it a "sweet spot" for finding the best bargains.

I managed to score 3 bags of Hershey Kisses (hey, the wrappers may be pink and red, but that chocolate inside still tastes the same!!) for $0.87 each, two packages of heart and flower shaped marshmallows for $0.25 each, a bag of heart-shaped lollipops for $0.25, and a package of "Lotto for Lovers" tickets (so funny, I just had to) for $0.50.

Post-Valentines clearance is some of my favorite because I can stock up on little love reminders that I can use for my kids and my husband all year long. Love never goes out of season! Also, many of the Valentines clearance items can also easily be used in Easter baskets (especially if your kids are young!) so now is a great time to start thinking ahead.

I'm planning on checking out a few more stores this week to see what else I can score while we're still in the sweet spot!

Have you found any great Valentines clearance deals? Leave a comment and share!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Great Frugal Failure

Here on The Beautiful Thrifty Life I take great pride and great joy in sharing the ways that I find beauty and style in my life without spending a lot of money. But with great successes, there must also come great failures. And last week I had one.

Growing up, my mother had always taken my hair very seriously and had always taught me to do the same. Even when I was very young she would scrimp and save to be sure she could take me to the best salons so that my hair would get the star treatment. As I grew up and left home, I tried to continue that way of hair care, because I liked the pretty salons and my hair always turned out great. I couldn't afford to get it cut often, but I didn't mind. I always requested a cut that would grow out nicely so that I wouldn't have to shell out another $50 anytime soon. I figured that for something I'd be wearing every day for months on end, a good cut was worth the extra cash.

So last summer when I decided to go bold and cut my longer locks, I went to a nice salon that had been recommended by a friend, and I requested something like this:

I was absolutely ecstatic with the results- it was low maintenance, sophisticated yet sexy, cute yet classy. It did exactly what I wanted it to do when I wanted it to do it, and I even had friends say, "You should have always had your hair cut like this! It's so...YOU!" :-)

Well, as the months went by I enjoyed my new cut even as it grew out. It was still cute and manageable, but the longer it got, the less I felt like styling it in the morning. Eventually it was long enough to put it back up in a ponytail, and so that's what I did. Every day! For me, that's always been my red flag- when I'm just throwing it up in a ponytail every day, it's time for a cut!

We've been trying to save even more money lately, and I was really struggling with the thought of shelling out the usual $50 for a snazzy salon. There was a little voice in the back of my head that said, Come on, how bad could a cheap salon be? They had to go to beauty school too, you know. They must know something about cutting hair. Then one day I got a coupon in the mail for a local haircutting place- a cut for only $5.99!! Seriously? I finally decided that for that price I just had to know. What if I had been paying ridiculous amounts of money for something I could get for six bucks??

And so I went. I brought the same photo of Katie Holmes with me that I had taken to Fancy Shmancy Salon the year before, expecting similar results. Instead, I got something like this, minus the bangs:

It would be funnier if it weren't MY hair.

I should have known when I walked into the salon and the lady sitting behind the reception desk just smiled at me, asked me to have a seat (because someone would be right with me) and looked back at her magazine. After a few minutes she glanced up and said, "I would help you but I'm on my lunch break. Just so you don't think I'm ignoring you or anything." Oh no of course not. Why would I think that?

Finally a stylist finished up with her client, an older gentleman, and called me over. She shook off the sheet-bib-cover-thingy and told me to have a seat. She then put it around me and I could see the short white hairs from the man before me clinging to it. Um, gross.
I showed her my photo and she said, "You know your hair won't lay like that, right?" Ummm....why not? I told her that I had had it cut like that before and it worked out just fine. She shrugged and started pulling at my hair. Then she picked up the photo again.

"Is this longer or shorter in the back?"

"It's short."

"Oh, okay."

We went through the shampoo process (no towel under my neck led to drippy water down my back) and when she was through she shook off her hands, splashing water in my eye, and then ran her damp fingers through her own hair. Nice.

Once she started cutting, she asked if I wanted any layers. Umm, duh! How the heck are you going to get that look without layers? I mean, yes, layers please. She chopped away and kind of brushed through it when she was finished. She could have blow-dried it and styled it, but that would have been another five bucks and this was an experiment in thriftiness, so I figured I should keep my five bucks since it was a windy day outside anyway.

When I left, my hair was short and it looked kinda funny, but I figured it just needed some styling, which I'd give it when I got home. I walked in the front door and saw my reflection in the mirror and said, "Egad, must find curling iron!"

Well, I went upstairs and messed with it but to no avail. I am Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

So, the short end of this long story is that sometimes, yes, you do get what you pay for. Which is fine as long as you don't have to live with it on your head.

Have you had any colossal frugal failures? Is there anything that you believe in paying more for? Leave a comment and share!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Help!! I'm being invaded by LOVE BUGS!!!

Don't they look so cute and ready to spread some love? This year for Valentines Day I just didn't feel like doing the little $1/box valentines for my kids to hand out to their friends. There's nothing wrong with them, I just felt like doing something a little different this year! So I decided we should make Love Bugs.

Each Love Bug was made with a clothespin, 6 fuzzy pom-pom balls, 1/3 length of pipe cleaner (bent in half and curled into antennae) and 2 mini googly eyes. They were fairly simple to put together- I helped the kids spread a line of white glue down the length of the clothespin, then they selected the colored pom-pom balls they wanted and placed them on the glue. I bent the pipe cleaner into shape and added extra glue onto it and sandwiched it between the first and second ball, then we glued on the eyes. My only caution- the white glue takes at least 12 hours (maybe more!) to fully set, so give the Love Bugs time to rest!

I included this poem with each bug:

Love Bugs are nice,
I think you are too.
That’s why I made
This Love Bug for you!

He can clip to your shirt
Or keep love notes in place.
But he’s really here to say
Happy Valentines Day!

On the back of each note I simply wrote "To" and "From" and had the kids fill in the names of their classmates. They had fun picking out which of their Love Bugs they would give to each friend.

What I really loved about this project is that the kids were sooooo excited for Valentines Day after doing this! They weren't saying, "Oh, I can't wait to get treats on Valentines Day!" They were saying, "I can't wait to give these Love Bugs to my friends on Valentines Day!! They are going to love them!!"

The other thing I hoped was that the kids who got these Love Bugs would take them home and use them to spread love in their own families. I used some extra materials and made Love Bugs for both kids and clipped them to love notes and put them in their lunch boxes (Starlet claims her love bug ate part of her apple- ha ha!). I also made one for my sweetie and clipped it to his shoelaces with a love note so he would get it when he left for work. :-)

I also had the kids make them for their teachers and we clipped them to their gifts. I personally think teachers probably get more candy and treats than they know what to do with on holidays, so I usually try to get them something different. Socks are always a fun gift for preschool teachers, so here is one Love Bug clipped to a ribbon that I tied around a pair of rolled-up socks (you can get fun socks in sets of 3 for $3 at Wal-Mart or buy each pair separately at the dollar store). My son gave his teacher a necklace and earring set (found on clearance for $3!) which we also attached to a Love Bug.

It was a fun project that really helped us get into the spirit of Valentines Day!! How could you not feel the love with all those sweet little Love Bugs looking up at you?? :-)

Did you do anything special or fun for Valentines Day? Leave a comment and share!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Meaningful Valentine- "Our Love Is" Poem

Ha ha! This is my husband Chad and me inside a hurricane simulator on our Florida vacation last year- it was a blast!

Do you remember my previous post on the "Where I'm From" poems? Well today I had a great brainstorm- why not use that kind of format and create a "Our Love Is" poem for your sweetheart for Valentine's Day?

The composition is simple- sit down and make a list of things that remind you of your partner. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Places- favorite restaurant, where he proposed, where you got married, your first kiss, your first date, your first home, etc. What was memorable about those places? Was it the food, the view, the people? Be specific!

2. Special words- favorite lines from movies, inside jokes, special ways you say "I love you", nicknames for one another, etc.

3. Favorite things- music/songs, foods, clothing, books, events, objects, cars, etc. Again, be specific- include detailed descriptions of size, shape, color, texture, taste, and sound- anything that will bring that memory to life for your sweetie.

4. Memories- Did something funny happen when you were together? Did something happen that cemented your love for and/or trust in one another? Did you ever witness something amazing together? Be descriptive!

Now take all of these places, words, things, and memories and start writing. You can entitle your poem, "Our Love." Then simply begin each line with the words, "Our love is..." and fill in the blank with the things you have come up with.

Here is an example to get you started:

Our love is peanut shells on the floor and talking so much we forgot to order our food. Our love is pulsing lights and music so loud we couldn't even hear ourselves think, but we could feel the comfort in each other's touch.

Our love is an awkward first kiss under a streetlight in the dorm parking lot next to a shiny black Lancer. Our love is saying, "I love you" in a basement room, a sudden nighttime marriage proposal in a Wal-Mart parking lot and then a real, get-down-on-your-knee-with-a-diamond-ring proposal in the crunchy November leaves on the wooded hill overlooking the river.

Okay, there you have it- the story of how I became engaged to my husband! But doesn't it sound poetic? I am excited to work more on this idea- it's something I know he will appreciate and it will be a legacy that our children will cherish.

For more beautiful thrifty Valentines ideas click here.

What kind of meaningful Valentine do you have in mind this year?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Valentines Craftiness!

I was in the mood for some craftiness this week, and I decided that Valentines Day was the perfect excuse to make some pretty cards! I also tried an artsy tag (above) just for the fun of it. I don't really *get* the whole tag-for-the-sake-of-a-tag thing, but I thought it turned out nice!

I wanted all girly for this one!

This one was inspired by the little die-cut hearts- I saw them in my stuff and imagined "sending some love" to someone for Valentines Day!

I went straight pink for this one. I just love pink.

I decided to do something with my tag- I framed it! I happened to have this frame lying around and it seemed like a good fit. Now it's a cute V-day decoration. :-)

Have you been up to anything crafty for Valentines Day? Leave a comment and share!
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