Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Love A Good Bargain

I mean who doesn’t love a good bargain, right?! And I love a good bargain even better when I’m not expecting it. I don’t know how many of you out there are “thrifters” – aka, people that love to bargain shop at second-hand stores – but I have been on a roll this month! My all–time favorite thrift store is located in Downtown Wichita, KS. I learned about it over 7 years ago when Caton and I started dating and he and my mother-in-law took me there. I tried to look it up online, but I honestly have no idea how to search for it. I have never heard or paid attention to the actual name of the store because I have only known it to be “The Boutique”. It earned its name because, although the rest of store could probably be compared to every other thrift store/DAV store/second-hand store by a passerby on the street, the front of the store has its own special counter and display section called, none other than, The Boutique.
My second favorite (although just recently a favorite) thrift store is new to the Kansas City area. Savers is located in a former Big Lots in Overland Park, so when I first set foot in the store I thought it was going to be just like Big Lots, but I was wrong. It is such a fun, expansive, and upscale thrift store that offers massive amounts of clothing and shoes for men, women and children, a huge housewares and bed/bath section, books, furniture and more. If you haven’t been, I would suggest you check it out!
As I mentioned in this post, I am waiting for some sunnier/warmer/less-windy/less-freezing weather to get my spray paint on in the backyard, and here is a little preview of what I plan to spray spruce up.

Look at all of this stuff! I found these stools (more to come on those later), the amazing white wooden picture frame, the candle sticks, the ceramic cross and the ceramic pot all at Savers over the last few weeks. What a deal!
I found these few great deals at The Boutique when we were visiting the in-laws a few weekends ago and I am still so excited just thinking about it!
Banana Republic sweater.
Forever 21 shirt (that still had the tags on).

And the last, but not least, items I found at The Boutique were this awesome glass vase and this amazing handmade Christmas sign. How cool is that?! Kay (my mother-in-law) and I were doing our last few minutes of searching over by the tablecloths and super discounted holiday décor when I happened to spot the corner of a pained wooden sign. I bent down to the bottom shelf, dug under some Christmas ornaments and garland and pulled out not one, but TWO of these signs with the adorable hooks and glass nobs. The first one I pulled out had music notes all over it and I just knew my MIL had to take it home (she’s an amazing singer and piano player), so I was even more excited when I pulled this second sign out and realized that I would get to take one home as well AND that the colors would go perfectly with our furniture, décor and decorations. They will be so fun to get out around the holidays and have for years to come.
Ok, back to my stools. We love our dining room table. It’s a rectangular bar-height table that has four black leather chairs and is so us, but it creates quite a dilemma when it comes seating family and friends. We have had many instances where Caton and I end up standing around the table to eat dinner or play games with our families because it only allows for four people to sit down. I have been on the lookout for a few years now for simple and inexpensive barstools that will provide us with extra seating that can easily be stored in a closet or the basement when we don’t have company over. I’ve had my eye on these for quite some time, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to pay that much for a couple of stools that will be stored away when we don’t need or use them. So when I found these bad boys at Savers one evening I was beyond excited and quickly threw them in my cart (well, I was able to fit one in the cart and awkwardly carried the other under one arm while pushing the cart with the other) and ran (well, walked as quickly as possible while pushing a cart with one arm and carrying this huge and fairly heavy stool under the other arm) to the checkout line before anyone could try to steal the deal away from me.

And check out that price tag. What a deal!
Now, even though I LOVE the color blue for anything and everything, I wasn’t a big fan of this color combination. I haven’t decided exactly what I will do to fix them up, but I love this! This color would be so perfect for our home and all of our dark espresso furniture. I can’t wait to explore some options for making this transformation before our next family gathering.
So there you have it; my bargains for the month of February! I’ll leave you with a quick breakdown of my total spending for the month. Thrifting sure makes it easy (and fun) to stay within my spending cash budget for the month. Let me know if you want to join me next time!
Bar stools - $6.99 each
White frame - $2.99
Candle sticks - $1.99 for the small and $2.99 for the large
Ceramic cross - $0.99
Ceramic pot - $2.99
Banana Republic sweater - $5.95
Forever 21 shirt (with the tags on) - $3.99
Glass vase - $0.49
Wooden Christmas sign - $4.95
Grand total for February - $34.32
I love a good bargain!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Friday

I just wanted to send out a little message...


Our family just received the wonderfuly-amazing-heart-warming-prayer-answering-smile-inducing news...


More to come later... :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm Back!

Wow! I have been out of the blogging loop this past week. Things have been heeectiiic! We have been busy with...

A trip to Wichita to visit the in-laws that was filled with lots of relaxing, catching up, eating wonderful food, playing card games, thrift-shopping with my mother-in-law (more to come on my great finds at our favorite second-hand store) and just hanging out as a family.

A super-busy work week that had both of our heads spinning (one day last week I forgot to eat lunch until after 2:00 pm in the afternoon).

The start of our new workout routine, thanks to the purchase and delivery of our brand new treadmill, that allows us to get our run on morning, noon or night in the comfort of our own basement (with a TV to provide entertainment, thanks to our Valentine's Day gift to each other). By the way, if you're in the market for a treadmill, we would definitely recommend a ProForm. We have had it a few weeks now and are in love! The size and fold-up design, a 2.25 CHP gym-quality motor and features (including an in-console fan, 12 quick-button workouts, 1-10 MPH quick-speed buttons, iFit workout card technology and an iPod port that plays your music though the in-console speakers) are all perfect for us and have surpassed all of our expectations.

Dealing with our first home owner renter issue when our basement drain started to back up over the weekend. It was a bit of a disaster, and definitely a mess, but we survived and were able to laugh it off since we are renting and haven't yet taken the plunge into home ownership.

Spending time with my family and being super-excited for our son/brother/uncle/brother-in-law to come home from Afghanistan. Yes, that's right! He is getting out of that hell-on-earth and coming back to The States. We can't even wait until he is officially back on US soil (more to come on Jack's whereabouts as he makes his way half way around the world)!

So, that wraps up the last week of our lives. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it, but I have some fun things I want to accomplish in the week(s) to come. Kansas City was blessed with some wonderful 70+ degree weather at the end of last week and part of the weekend, but that came and went in the blink of an eye and they're expecting rain, sleet and possibly even snow later this week. Talk about a tease! Anyway, once we get some of that warmer weather back, I have a few fun projects in store that involve a little bit lot of this:

Until then, have a wonderful week!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Hearts. Roses. Chocolate. Pink. Red. Purple. Valentine’s. Hugs. Kisses. Love.
As you’ve heard me mention a few times over the last few weeks, I love Valentine’s Day! I also love finding out the history of special holidays like this, which you can read about here. It’s a day of LOVE and really, what could be better than a day dedicated to expressing how much you love your spouse/parents/children/siblings/nieces & nephews/extended family/friends?! I’m sure there are many critics out there that are not only annoyed with my love of the Love Day, but also disgusted with the fact that I totally, whole-heartedly, 100% give in to another one of Hallmark’s money-making days. I know… I get it… I understand your argument. But I don’t care. I love Hallmark. I love giving cards to my parents, siblings, grandparents, and parent/sibling/grandparent-in-laws. It’s my thing. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done and will continue to do, hopefully for the rest of my life (assuming I can still continue to afford stamps as the years – and rates – go on and up). I love being a Platinum Card Member at Hallmark and I love walking into that amazing store before each and every holiday, birthday, announcement and event… and sometimes those just-because-you-need-it days. But this Valentine’s Day I’m doing something I’ve never done before…
Yes, I’m still sending cards. But no, they’re not coming from Hallmark. Dun dun duuun!!! This year, I was won over by my beloved Shutterfly. I’m totally guilty of succumbing to the peer pressure of their amazing email discounts. *Side note: Are you a member? I would definitely suggest signing up today so you can start taking advantage of their great online deals and savings (and no, Shutterfly has no idea I’m saying this about them, I just really love them that much)!* Anyway, so I received a great email offer for 10 free photo cards and I knew the second I received it that I wanted to us them as my Valentine’s Day cards this year. Parents and Grandparents love seeing pictures of their children and grandchildren, right?! Plus, all I had to pay for them was the shipping and handling; so I got a killer deal compared to what I would have spent at Hallmark for 10 cards.
Here are the deets. *Another side note: has anyone else started using the term “deets”, as in short for “details”, except add an extra –e and drop the –ails. It makes me laugh every time I read it, and I’ve recently caught myself saying it. Doesn’t it make you chuckle?!* Anyway, here the deets, or details, of the cost breakdown, for those of you that are interested. If I would have purchased the 10 cards from Shutterfly without a coupon, I would have had to pay $2.39 each, plus over $6.53 shipping + handling and tax. If I would have purchased the 10 cards from Hallmark, I would have had to pay $3.00-$6.00 each – we all know how expensive Hallmark cards can be these days, but I still love them! But all of those are a big IF, because after plugging in my handy-dandy coupon code, I paid $0.00 each and $6.53 for shipping + handling and tax. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather pay $0.65 each any day of the week AND have these super-cute cards to send out to our family members!
The front of our Valentine’s Day card:

The inside of our Valentine’s Day card:

So, with a few x’s and a few o’s, I’m wishing you a wonderful and love-filled Saint Valentine’s Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hearty Crafts

No, I’m not referencing Campbell’s Chunky Soup. Although, I will admit that I do love a hearty meal (or bowl of soup) as much as the next person. I’m talking about hearts… love… Valentine’s Day!  I mentioned in this post that I had a few Valentine’s Day crafts I wanted to make at home, very inexpensively, to decorate and spruce up our house for the holiday of love.
My first project was pom pom garland. The entire project cost a whopping $3.00 and maybe 30 minutes. I love it. It is so fun to walk through the house and see the colorful strands hanging in the middle of our dining room.
The next few projects were made possible thanks to one of my favorite places, The Target Dollar Spot. You know the place; those 2 wonderful isles at the front of every Target store that sell some super cute (and some super weird, but we’ll take the bad with the good!) items for $1.00 - $2.50 each. Love! After a trip to Target over my lunch break one day last week, I came home with these wonderful finds.

I used the colorful paper and pink letter stickers to make this Scrabble-like word frame. *Side note: Caton and I (along with other siblings, cousins, and friends that have the iPhone) are officially hooked on the app called Words with Friends. Haven’t heard of it? Check it out. Now! It is so much fun and provides endless hours of entertainment, but at your own speed. You play scrabble on your phone against another person (or multiple people) but each person plays at their own pace. So, if Caton plays a word and I don’t have time to check my phone for a few minutes (or hours) the game will be on hold until I make my next move and it allows him to play again. So addicting and so competitive. * Anyway, so we have been playing this game and it has my mind on letters and words at all times. I have seen a few other people/blogs do things like this with Scrabble letters from the actual game and I definitely plan on taking on that project once I find a super-cheap game or letters for sale at a thrift store of some kind. As for the frame, that was a clearance item that was spray painted black a few months ago that I had laying around just waiting to be used for the perfect project. 

Isn’t it cute?! And yes, it’s totally and completely and purposefully a play on two things close to my heart, the song Forever And Ever, Amen by Randy Travis and the book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. I just love both of these. The 1998 hit by Mr. Travis is a classic; at least it is in my book! It’s still hard to believe I was in 8th grade when this song was released. It has always been a special song to Caton and me. So special, actually, that it was a front-runner for our 1st Dance at our wedding. Ultimately, Cross My Heart by George Strait was chosen as our song, but we still made sure to play Forever And Ever, Amen during the reception and two-stepped to it together. Ah, the memories! And I’ll never forget my Mom reading Love You Forever to us countless times while we were growing up. It is such a special book and message. This post has just turned into a wonderful trip down memory lane, hasn’t it?!
Ok, back to my Dollar Spot finds. I used the large glittery red heart, the foam ‘LOVE’ and the foam heart to make a few more pieces of “heart art”. My favorite thing about these decorations is that they consist mainly of things I already have around our house, which makes it inexpensive and convenient. From the frames, to the patterned paper, to the hot glue, it was all extremely cost efficient.

My last project gift was inspired by my adorable nephew, Scotty, and this blog post. Scotty is obsessed with all things super heroes right now, especially Spiderman. He’s a 5-year-old Spidey wannabe. In the last year we have had a Spiderman-themed Christmas, birthday, and any other special-little-day (or regular-old-day) so I thought why not carry it on through Valentine’s Day?! Here they are in all of their heart-shaped, red-iced, black-webbed, Spidey-loved glory.

They were a huge hit, and pretty tasty as well! Oh, and if you ask Scotty, the 'S' stands for Scotty, not Spidey. Don't mind the chocolates in his mouth or his baby brother, Aiden, jumperoo-ing in the background trying to get our attention.
Well, that wraps up my DYI Valentine’s Day décor. Did you find any heart-shaped inspiration this year? Come up with any fun projects to help celebrate the holiday in your home? Please, share the love! J
I know I’m looking forward to spending Love Day with My Love!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super Bowl Ads 2011

Since I shared my favorite Super Bowl advertisements from 2010 in this post, I wanted to do the same for this past weekend's most-anticipated-commercials-of-the-year. Here is a list of my top three favorite commercials from the 2011 Super Bowl.

Bud Light: Dog Sitter - Maybe it's because I love Bud Light. Maybe it's because I love dogs. Maybe it's because we were dog sitting over Super Bowl weekend. Whatever the reason, I think this is hilarious!

Pepsi Max: Love Hurts - I still LOL.. ROFL... LMFAO... every single time I see this.   

Volkswagen: Young Vader - All. Time. Favorite. This is just adorable! And, did you know he revealed his identity?! The Young Vader child actor was on The Today Show this morning. Could be any cuter?! Seriously love it!

Until next year...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Here is a glimpse of what we're doing around the Walker household this morning...

We're doing a little cooking with a roast, potatoes and carrots in the Crock Pot for our Super Bowl meal with my sister, our brother-in-law and one of our nephews. I can't even wait for the delicious smells to fill up our house all day long. Roast in the Crock Pot has to be one of my all-time-favorite smells in the middle of a cold winter.

We're also doing a lot of this (read: being lazy!) until our guests arrive. And no, we didn't get a dog since the last time I blogged. This is Casey, my parents' lab-beagle mix, and she's spending the weekend with us for a change of scenery. Lucky for her (and us) she loves lounging around on Sundays and will fit in just perfectly since we don't plan to leave the family room, or our favorite couch (for me) and chair (for Caton), for the remainder of the day. I love Sundays!

While I do like watching football, it probably comes as no surprise that this marketing grad looks forward to the Super Bowl for one reason and one reason only: the advertisements! Here is a list of my top three favorite commercials from last year.

Snickers - Betty White - Any commercial with Betty White is going to be hilarious. I mean, who doesn't love her?! But this one is so funny!

Bud Light - Stranded On An Island - The second I realized this commercial was a play on "Lost" I knew I would be hooked. Yes, I was one of "those people" that was obsessed with the Lost TV series. I know, I know, it had the world's worst ending to a series ever. I love the show and I'll even agree with that. But regardless of the fact that it was a horrible ending and still has me questioning the point of the show and the thought processes the writers were going through, I was an avid fan from the pilot episode all the way to the grand series finale. What can I say?! Anyway, this play on the show was hilarious!

Google - French Love Story - Love love love is all I can say!

I hope everyone has a relaxing, fun and amazingly-funny-commercial Super Bowl experience. Oh, and even though I don't care that much about who wins, I'll pick a side anyway. GO STEELERS!

Pom Pom Garland

It may sound (and look) funny, but I promise it’s super-cute and super-fun, and I am super-excited to share this quick, easy and inexpensive addition to your Valentine’s Day décor. 
I had mentioned on this post that I wanted to add some more Love Day inspiration around our house and when I found this idea here, I just couldn’t resist trying it out myself. 
The idea is simple, and so is the list of items needed: a needle, clear thread, and pom poms. I was able to grab a needle from my sewing kit, the clear thread (I actually ended up using fishing wire) from my husband’s tackle box, and the pom poms from Micheal’s. They had a great selection of colors and styles and the price was even better (each pack I purchased was $1.00 or less).
I’m sure this is extremely self-explanatory, but here are my quick instructions anyway. First, I cut five strands of fishing wire, all of various lengths, and tied a knot at the end of each one. Next, I attached a strand to the needle and thread the pom poms on one by one, varying sizes and colors so there was no single pattern or design (I know, totally not like me, but I loved the end result!).
Here are the finished strands.

I loved the look on the Noodlehead blog, but didn’t feel like we have a good window to hang these colorful little beauties. Instead, I chose to hang them from the chandelier in the dining room. I love that it’s a location we walk by multiple times a day and the fact that it spruces up the chandelier (I absolutely can’t stand the yellow-gold finish on the thing, but it’s one of those things we can put up with for a couple  years while we rent). Isn’t it fun?!

So, there you have it; my spin on pom pom garland. Wouldn’t it be fun to do this for other holidays throughout the year?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Blizzard of 2011

Holy Blizzard of 2011!
Wow, we have experienced quite a winter this year, and it’s only the beginning of February. This morning will set a record low in Kansas City with a temperature of 12 degrees BELOW zero. I have to say, it is not fun to turn on the car and see a negative number staring back at you. And that’s not the wind-chill temperature; it’s the actual temperature! I don’t even want to know what the wind-chill temperature is if we are already sitting at a negative number. Ok, I take that back. I don’t want to know, but I really do! I just checked The Weather Channel and the wind-chill in our area is around – 25 degrees. O.M.G. Unbelievable! Can we say BRRR COLD!!!
The snow has been pretty remarkable as well. At the beginning of the year, Kansas City had accumulated 2.9 inches of snow. Since then, we have been hit with 4 winter storms and have accumulated nearly 30 inches of snow. It comes as no surprise that the schools have been closed for a ridiculous amount of days (and are already beginning to dig into their summer vacation as they quickly use up their built in snow days), but it was shocking that so many business were forced to send people home early, and even close completely in some cases. This week’s blizzard allowed the corporate world to finally experience the joy and convenience of the beloved “snow day”. My office started sending us home around Noon on Tuesday (and finally closed for good by 1:30 pm) and we didn’t even open until 10:00 am on Wednesday. It was unreal, but completely necessary and I am thankful they value our safety so much that they allow us to get home safe and sound.
I found this satellite view of the US at the beginning of the week, I believe on February 1st to be exact. Incredible!

I also found this snowfall report on the NBC Action News Weather Blog and thought it was so crazy. Look at all of the snow we have accumulated from Kansas City and across south-central Missouri in the last 4 days.

Our Tuesday snow day was a blast! I worked from about 8:00 am until 12:30 pm and headed for home. Caton has the ability to work remotely, so he worked from home all morning and was such a life-saver with our blizzard preparations. He made a run to the store for the necessities (since we didn’t know just how bad it would get) like milk, eggs, some snack and meal items, and windshield wiper fluid for our SUV’s. By the time I made it home from work around 1:15 pm, he was almost done shoveling the driveway and walkway to our front door… in the snowing-freezing-cold-wind-blowing-so-hard-and frigid-that-it-makes-you-lose-your-breath weather. I married such an amazing man! Once he thawed out warmed up, we climbed in the Envoy and made the two minute drive (it’s usually a one minute drive without the snowy road conditions) to The Blue Moose Bar & Grill for a nice warm meal and a few beers. Surprisingly, they were open for business and there were at least 10 other people in the entire place. After a quick meal, we headed home, got in our comfy clothes and claimed our spots on the couch for an afternoon of catching up on How I Met Your Mother, Season 5. We love that show! Later that afternoon, we hopped back in the snow mobile Envoy and made the five minute drive (it’s usually a two point five minute drive without the snowy road conditions) to my parents’ house for snowed-in evening with the fam. My sister, brother-in-law and one of our nephews joined us for an evening of weather-watching, snow-awing, wine-drinking, spaghetti-eating and card-playing. *Side note: have you guys ever played the card gamed called Nerts?! If not, we would highly recommend it. Caton and I learned the game of Christmas break while we were visiting his side of the family in Wichita and it is a BLAST. Check out the directions here. We prefer to play with at least three teams of two, but can play with even more or less teams/individuals than that. This is the second time our family has played and we are hooked. Seriously, so much fun! As a second side note, I just found out that the game has a few other names, including: Pounce, Racing Demon, Peanuts and Squeal. Just talking about it makes me want to play again this weekend!* Anyway, so we had a wonderful and relaxing evening!
On Wednesday morning my office’s emergency weather hot line said the office wasn’t opening until 10:00 am, so I was able to get a few extra hours of sleep before heading in for a full day of work. Caton worked remotely for a second day and was a super-husband again, re-shoveling the driveway and walkway to our house, checking off countless things on our humongous to-do list, and putting on his chef’s hat so that I walked into the house to a fire blazing in the fireplace and an amazing setup of steak (I still don’t know how he was able to dig his way through the snow to grill up our steaks, but they were delicious!), Caesar salad, asparagus and my beloved Cabernet Sauvignon red wine. It was out-of-this-world-good and perfect for a  freezing cold night after a long day of catch-up at work. I am one lucky woman to be married to such an amazing man!
After 4 long days, Kansas City is finally digging its way out of this “snow-mageddon”, as many people are calling it, and getting back in the swing of things. I’ll wrap this up by leaving you with a few pictures of our Winter Wonderland in Prairie Village.

Here is a picture showing just how many miles this storm covered in a few days. All I can say is WOW!

This last one is a picture that was floating around Facebook and emails the last few days. It brings a good laugh to this bitter-cold week.

I hope everyone has been able to stay safe and warm. Here's hoping we don't see anymore storms like that for the rest of the year! I was about to say "here's hoping we don't see anymore snow...", but they're already predicting more this weekend, so we won't hold our breath on that one just yet!