Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An All-Grilled Dinner

This is the perfect meal for a hot summer evening, ok so the BBQ-er may break a sweat, but cooking outside is certainly preferable to heating up the kitchen + house during these late summer days.  I must give my dad credit for this one. All I did was slice the zucchini and sprinkle olive oil and black pepper on it. The rest of the meal included BBQ'd chicken, grilled onion, tomato and tortillas.  And I'd like to admit that the grilled onion was ALMOST as good as battered and deep friend onion rings. Almost.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mason Jar Wine Glass

I spotted this fun gag-gift while in Colorado (visiting Bishop's Castle) and it's totally DIY-able.

Dollar store candle stick + mason jar + glass glue/or hot glue = great gag gift for your favorite redneck! I just might have to work these into our Christmas gifts this year!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Steel Dining Chairs Face-Off

It's been well established that I'm a cheapo frugal, vey frugal. So you can only imagine my excitement when I got slapped in the face today. Started off with a dream session in Anthropologie & Pottey Barn. As fun as it is to walk around there, it can also be a little depressing--a $30 votive candle?? Seriously?!!! I mean sure, maybe it really was made in The Amazon by spider monkeys with precious gold rooted eucalyptus trees....but I just CAN'T do it. So it was off to Cost Plus/World Market, whatever they're name is--don't you wish they would just pick one? And I found the perfect comparison and in-yo-face example of why you must always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS shop around for the best deal on your favorite look.

Tolix™ Cafe Chair

Steel Dining Chairs $245 each @ Pottery Barn

Jackson Metal Tub Chair | World Market

Metal Dining Chair (also sold in Red) $109 @ World Market


Honestly, there were about 50 things I could have compared/contrasted between the stores price-wise. Save yourself from the store-hopping and just hit up World Market! They have awesome housewares in every style, fun jewelry (which we ALL know I'm a sucker for), and fun wines & snacks. What more could you ask from a frugal-mart?!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goodwill Surprises

The Goodwill never fails! I was pleasently surprised with the amazingly useful items I found during my last tour.
Yarn Bin: 79 cents each and the big roll for $9.99
Bowl $9.99

Storage Bins $3.99 and under

Nine more days until the local flea market! I can hardly wait!! I know, I know...I have a problem. At least I can admit it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Christmas in July

Ok so it's August, almost September, but Michael's already has Christmas stuff out! So I snagged some clear glass ball ornaments. Thanks to Pinterest, I will have no shortage of things to try with my 30 blank canvases! Here's a few of my favorites:

I'm thinking these last two would work better with a styrofoam sphere instead...

So there you have it. I have caught the Christmas bug BAAAD this year.  And if you've got it too, check out Michael's project page for endless inspo. They've got plenty of other crafts as well if you're not quite ready for Christmas!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cheap Gift Wrap

The Dollar Tree has always been a great source for basic crafts items. I buy lots of their plain paper gift bags to embellish. Their selection has grown.
Cute, cute, cute. And at $1/10 ft roll it's unbeatable! I want them ALL :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Easy Beginner Quilt

At the family vacation home I spotted an inspiration! I am not yet a part of the sewing world, but I am in the fabric collecting stage. When I saw this quilt, I got a little giddy because it's something a newbie can totally accomplish--at least that's what I think just by looking at it. I haven't yet tried to make one myself so don't get too excited, but take a look and you'll agree that it's pretty much fool-proof. I'm not sold on the red stripe, but like I keep saying, this is SO DO-ABLE!! Two large fabric pieces (possibly 2 flat sheets?) yarn-sewn together and knots throughout the middle to hold the batting in-between.

So here's what I will be on the lookout for to complete this project: two flannel sheets or clearanced fabric, medium/thin batting, coordinating yarn and a yarn needle. Now I've never seen a yarn needle. But with all the millions of craft tools, there's bound be one out there right?? I have yet to decide what weight of batting to use. I don't know how old this blanket is, but it's obvious it's been well loved and the batting is certainly still there. And since I have decided to use flannel, I may not need anymore than the bare minimum batting because flannel is pretty warm all on it's own, especially when you're doubling it up.  Anyone have experience with this sort of project?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Easy Steak Fries

I've gotten a few requests to make my version of steak fries recently, so I figured I should share them with the world! They're super easy to make, and I would love to hear any variations you come up with! Plan to use 1 average size potato per person (think the way you do for mashed potatoes).
Slice potato lengthwise and slice as shown below, varying in thickness (no more than 1/4" otherwise they'll take forever to cook!)

Lay out on cookie sheets, drizzle with oil (I've been loving grapeseed oil lately) and liberally sprinkle with Montreal Steak Seasoning. I usually add a bit more black pepper too, just because I love black pepper!

Bake at 375-425' (higher temperature if you're cooking multiple batches) for a good 20-30 minutes and I usually broil them for a few minutes to make sure they get golden brown--and a few get burnt..I know it's bad, but a few won't hurt me too terribly, right?? Enjoy with your burgers, or steak or really anything. I usually dip mine in BBQ sauce so I can get the flavor overload I crave.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Clearance Couture (Anniversary)

Confession: I spent like 3x more on this dress than on previous clearance finds. Luckily, that only puts me at $15...expect for it was $16 and some-odd cents. Whaddja think? Worth it? I think so.
(from J.C. Penney, made by Olsenboye)

It was perfect timing for our anniversary dinner too! Any excuse for bridle-esque attire. Love weddings. We spent some time at the beach (obviously..) and then had dinner at a local italian restuarant--where we had our rehearsal dinner. So bea-you-teeful! Any of you have anniversary traditions? We don't really have one yet. Well sorta--I always receive some flowers (with sunflowers of course!) and Cody and I share some Arbor Mist, the only wine he can drink (and that's because it's more fruit punch than wine!) But that's the thing with traditions- if they don't make you smile, they aren't worth it! Am I right or am I right? ;)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rustic Elegant Wedding

Three years of marraige + Four years of dating = making it past the so-called '7 year itch'!! We had an absolutely awesome wedding which wouldn't have been possible without our fabulous families and family in Christ. Take a walk down memory lane with me...
Cody proposed atop of Half Dome, Yosemite. So we used this picture (taken about 5 min after the "big question") and made postcard save-the-dates through this site. Very cost efficient since post cards require less postage, you could also use postcards for R.S.V.P.'s in your wedding invitation.
One of our 'official' engagement photos. I included this one because of the boots. We bought them together as our wedding gift to each other.
A dear friend of mine was ever so generous to aid (AKA take over) the ginormous task of floral accents for our wedding. Now, fortunately, I already had ideas of how I wanted my dream wedding to be. The very first bouquet Cody gave me was of sunflowers and roses. He knew I loved sunflowers and added red roses for a bit more romance. I instantly fell in love with the combination so it was a natural choice for the wedding. She & I made the above kissing ball with a styrofoam ball and synthetic sunflowers (hot glue and sewing pins for extra reinforcement). Usually, I'm not a fan of synthetic (silk or not) flowers, but when you've got a wedding to plan, it can be a HUGE help to have at least a couple things done ahead of time. Also, I still have this and always will!! I also purchased synthetic sunflowers and roses to play around with arrangements for tables and bouquets, etc. I'm a visual person, so this was a must-do.
Now, when it came to arrangements with the fresh flowers I was ever so lucky to have a friend with wonderful taste. The day before the wedding bajillions of things were going on and I basically told her this, "You know what I like, I trust you, go for it!" And I couldn't be happier with the results, note that I didn't see majority of the flower arrangements till walking down the aisle/entering the reception! The tall, tin vases I found at a local flea market for cheap and added the raffia, also very cheap. The raffia was tied and hot glued to stay in place and wood blocks + small buckets were placed inside the tin vases to achieve my desired height. I ordered all my flowers here, and have no complaints what-so-ever about the quality or pricing (dealing with Fed-Ex  however was nightmare...)
Couple of things here..1) A close-up of my bouquet, notice the freshness of the flowers! 2) I opted to forgoe the traditional french nail for a color that matched my wedding color scheme. Nothing against french...but I just wanted something different! It was hit, such a small thing, but I got so many compliments on it!

These photos show off the custom arbor my dad and brothers collaborated on for our wedding. Now I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have a handy father & siblings, but I am :) ...and I will (also) have this forever. I can't wait to put it into a permanent spot (like when we are able to afford our own home vs. renting) and make it the focal point of our yard.
Our wedding party was a mixure of cousins and friends.  My bridesmaids held single stem sunflowers with raffia accents. Sunflowers are big enough that one is enough. We played around with 3 stems per bridesmaid, but it was a bit overboard for the look I was going for. 
Absolutely love my dress (still)! I chose to go with ivory, the softer white reallt accented the beading and lace on my dress and gave it a softer feel which I think is much more romantic. My jewelry was a cumulation of gifts from Cody during our dating years (bracelet & necklace). Didn't really do the whole old, blue & new thing. I did have a blue garter... Since my dress had a lot of detail, I picked up plain satin, ivory pumps (from DSW). I accented my low bun with a crystal comb, purchased at Claire's, I'm pretty sure! And my dress wasn't (too) expensive. Ok so it was more than I ever thought I would spend on a single dress (I'm kind of a cheapo, remember?), but it was an 'off-the-rack' from David's Bridal and after all it is a wedding for crying out loud! Oh, here's a big can have a bra sewn into your dress which means you don't have to try on a million bras to find the perfect inconspicuous fit. Go for it!
I opted for a mantilla style veil because 1) the detail was amazing and 2) my grandfather is from Mexico and it was a great oppurtunity to tie in my family history. For my walk down the aisle, I had a seperate veil for my face which as removed by my MOH and added to the flower girls updo. Since I had two flower girls, a second piece was stashed up front to be added to her updo so they both matched and helped avoid any sibling rivalry center stage. And would you check out my bouquet? So lovely.
And now for the reception! Aisle arrangements were moved to accent the head table and bouquets were laid down on the table for further decor. Instead of a runner for our long head table we used napkins to give a coordinateing color accent. To save some floor space we put the head table atop the stage. Behind those curtains (they're sheets from Ikea by the way!) is all kinds of stuff that was usually stored in the reception hall. Usually this hall is a place for casual occasions, as in foos-ball tournaments and the like, so behind those sheets are foosball tables and all kinds of funny stuff! And those tall chairs? Yeah, those didn't fit behind the curtain and they were pretty tall to carry outside the hall, so we improvised and used them as our 'thrones'!
Our red toasting glasses were a clearance Pier1 find, since I only needed two it wasn't too difficult to find the right style!
I put the seating charts in 8 x 10 wooden frames, printed on linen paper purchased from Target. For our guest book we used a coffee table book of black & white photographs of Yosemite (since that's where Cody proposed!) Guests signed the book in silver & gold sharpie and now we have a fun accent to our coffee table. The book was pretty hard to find..and my sister-in-law was the one who actually found it--it even has Ansel Adams signature!
We used a mixture of tables (rounds & rectangles) because that's what was provided. Honestly, it worked out great! It added some great visual intrest to our floor plan. Our table linens & dinnerware were rented from a local shop. We also incorporated floating flowers into many of our centerpieces. They are extremely cost-efficient and they did wonders to the candle lit tables!
For another personal touch, we used names and phrases to describe our lives as a couple (high school sweethearts, root beer floats, etc.) Behind the floating flowers, you can get a glimpse of our favors. We knew we wanted to use something edible and nixed the candy bar idea because we feared the younger guests would go a bit hog-wild at the sight of it. So originally the plan was to give rock candy in our wedding colors. Buuut there was a shortage of rock candy for some reason at the candy company we selected....and I was not informed until I called a couple weeks before the wedding concerned about the status of my order (as in I should have recieved it and I hadn't!)  I was informed that my order would be delivered in a month. Which means it would be about 2 weeks after the wedding. PROBLEM! BIG PROBLEM! Sound the alarm! So my mom and I  hopped in the car and pressed our noses to the glass of a local candy store and waited for them to open. Luckily, the manager was there early and let us in to hear the reason for our desperation. We told her we need candy (lots of candy!!!)  in red and yellow colors and we need it now! So we walked out with cherry heads and lemon heads. Not the original plan. But I'll say I loved it anyway!
Did you notice the disco ball? Yeah, funky. But we made it part of the dance floor, which means it had a purpose (kind of, seeing as it was not a disco party) and it fit in pretty well it didn't stand out terribly.  We did have some great, rustic aritechture in the building..notice the exposed beams! LOVE! Ok so there were ceiling fans too, but hey it was an August wedding!
Cody was amazing about bearing with me for my vision for our magnificent day. He totally did not understand my need for chair covers or wooden chairs, but he went along with it and helped me achieve the perfect chair look (which ended up being wood--cheaper than chair covers & way more timely!) Now for the cake...I had envisioned a smooth, fondant cake with ribbon and floral accents. He vetoed that. Real quick. But the cake he picked out was abosultely beautiful and had a design you wouldn't expect for a wedding; it was covered in white chocolate flakes. Yum.  And we did have a sheet cake in the back to help bring down the size & cost of the wedding cake.The console we used was already in the hall, and since I love (almost) all things old--we used it! We also borrowed Cody's grandparents cake server set for a family touch. The iron & rose candle holder in front of the cake was another flea market find that I continue to use in my own home. The cake stand was rented through the bakery and we decided to 'be nice' with the feeding each other cake tradition! 

We did the set-up & clean-up for the wedding (ok so our families did the clean-up without us...), which is yet another way to curb the budget. We also used the BBQ chain Armadillo Willy's to supply dinner. It was a great accent to a summer evening wedding, and who doesn't love brisket and corn bread? We were also fabulously blessed to receive volunteer aid from our church in serving the food and beverages. We opted to have poured wine and a keg for alcoholic beverages instead of an open bar. We also offered water, lemonade and coffee.  My aunt did a wonder to the bathrooms. Wish I had a picture to show it off. Anyone? She added wicker chairs, a tier of mints and lotion, and sewed an adorable skirt to fancy up the pedestal sink. I purchased the rest of the decor (except for table cloths, dinnerware, silverware, drink ware & floating flower bowls--rented for cheaper than buying plastic by the way!!) So I have lots of candle holders, hurricanes, etc. Which for a candle lover like myself is no problem at all! Plus I'm now finding lots of fun things to do with votive holders (like using them for other parties). I spent A LOT of time price checking items to find the best prices and found that purchasing the decorative accents (for the most part on clearance..just gotta keep your eyes open!) was cheaper than renting.
After lots of dancing, mingling and fun, it was time to see the damage to our vehicle. Luckily the keys stayed hidden (thanks to our minister!) and decor was only done to the outside of Cody's our truck (yeah, what's yours is mine baby!!). Aloha!!

Psst! These photos are a combination from friends and our photographer.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Road-Trip Wrap-Up

36 days
2,693 miles
4 new states visited (NV, UT, AZ & CO)
8 times Cody wished aloud for his dirtbike
78 times Cody thought about having his dirtbike (ok so this isn't 'confirmed' but I'm sure I'm right!)
4 books read (in 2 weeks! Sydney Sheldon....)
1 bad sunburn = countless bad tanlines
2 new motors
1 new radiator
4 boxers (Boo, Daisy, Doc & Tanner)
2 cats (Alex & Ariel/Rapunzel--name changes daily!)
$3.17= lowest gas price (in Payson, Az)
1 game of rummy won
7 games of rummy lost
1 campfire (teeny tiny, just to say we did it!)
106 ' F average temperature
1 transmission (to come)

And in case you haven't seen it, here's the 'mobile home' Cody created for the trip.

Cody built a platform to sit atop the wheel wells giving us an elevated area for sleeping and storage underneath. When we set up camp for the night, all we needed to do was pull off the boxes you see above, as well as our clothes bags, and our bed was ready to go! Easiest camping set up ever. Tanner had full reign of the backseat while driving and also slept there...except for the nights when we had thunderstorms and used the backseat for the cooler & other boxes. He sincerely appreciated it.

Above is a close-up of just one of Cody's genius ideas. We Cody arranged the underbed storage based on what we would need most often. For example, his hair-cutting kit was put far back because he only needs to use it every two weeks or so. But it's relatively small and neither of us wanted to belly crawl our way in there to get ahold of it. Sooo he attached strings & labeled them so you could just pull the string to get what you needed! Brilliant!

And just in case you want more trip's more...

Ha! That'd be a good Srabble or Wheel of Fortune word!
It *only* took me 3 tries to get a picture of this sign (took this standing still on top of Hoover Dam, as opposed to the two failed attempts while Cody was driving)!

Got Arizona & Utah on the first try! Ohhhh yyyeaaahhhh! (Since we flew to CO, I didn't get to take a pic of the state border sign...bum...)
Sidenote: my $2 flea market bangles held up. Although the color totally bled out (not on my skin thankfully) and now they're all silver. Oh well! I'm still good with that!
So talk about cooperation here. These horses were swatting flies off eachother. Pat your back and you pat mine! Maybe all horses do this? First time I've seen it, and I thought it was pretty cool!
The desert. Yes, I took this while Cody was drivin' down the highway. Kinda like it though.
Umm,  how cool is this tree? I mean it has a seat ready & waiting! All you need is a good book! Or maybe binoculars since this was at the Grand Canyon after all.
Some clouds. I swear clouds are a purer white outside of Cali. Or maybe long hours on the road plays tricks on your mind....
The town of Happy Jack, Arizona: gas station, restaurant, post office (that little shed in the middle), real estate office and car mechanic all thisclose together! Talk about a small town! Kinda jealous though, gotta admit...
FEEEEED MEEE!!! At our first campsite in Happy Jack we got to watch (& listen to!) a young family of birdies get fed like 8 million times a day. Kind of cool, kind of annoying.
Yep, that says $3.18/gallon. Payson, Arizona. Cute town! Cheap gas! What more could you ask for?
Ok so as barren and 'dead' as the desert's mysteriously beautiful!!!
This is the slap-you-in-the-face image for how bad our first motor was...
Ashley took us to The Olive Bar, she is a fellow olive-lover by the way. Unfortunately they decided to capitalize on their coolness and dedicate a good portion of their shop to a 'more than I wanted to pay' restaurant instead of the tasting room they started out as. But that's ok! They had some pretty cool combos and I grabbed a cool (free) recipe card for grilled corn on the cob--I will post about that later....
This little chickadee loves to have her hair in her face. She took full advantage of this windows down on the freeway situation.
And he says he hates cats....
The inside of the card says, " If you have the thyme, let's get together!" How cute is that? Ok, so a little corny...but I would fall for it!
So the trio here got themselves barracaded in here for multiple reasons. Lucky for them its too hot in Arizona to simply boot the dogs outside.
Boo was such a motherly figure to Ariel/Rapunzel (her name changes daily). Seriously though, she took great care to guard her from Tanner while he learned to be nice to kitties. Ok so he didn't totally learn to be nice, but he made progress!
Since Kyle & Ashley were SO amazing in aiding us with our truck problems (place to stay & resident mechanic?! yeah they're THAT awesome!) we got the oppurtunity to hang out with their cutie-pa-tootie. We wore her out, apparently...

So in an effort to not be a complete bum, I made dinners forKyle & Ashley while we were stranded at their cute home! By the way, she had some AMAZING recipes! Don't worry, I copied them down and will post with pics! Above I'm browning pork for Chili Verde. Soooo good!
And this is one of the many blue bellies Cody caught in various locations on our trip. Kind of cute, huh?

So that's that. Back to real life....