Yearly Archives: 2012

that’s a wrap.

While the holiday seasons brings forth an abundance of gifts, it also produces a large amount of waste. I am talking wrapping paper, people! According the EPA, the volume of curb-side trash increases by 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

Make this season a little less wasteful (and a lot more environmentally friendly) with these simple gift-wrapping solutions:

newspaper
Good ol’ fashioned newspaper {image via}

map
Outdated maps

music
Old sheet music

brown paper bag
 Paper grocery bags {image via}

lunch sack
Brown lunch sacks

recycled bag
Gift wrap/bags from past holidays
(I am pretty sure my family has been exchanging the same gift bags for years now)

resuable bag (2)
Reusable bags –
my personal favorite!

burlap
Burlap sack
{image via}

towel
A kitchen towel
(two gifts in one!) {image via}

*Other ideas:

  •  Use shredded newspaper as a bag-filler in place of store-bought tissue paper
  •  Adorn gifts with items from nature such as pinecones, twigs or a sprig of berries {example}
  •  Instead of tying boxes with ribbon, use a natural fiber like jute (seen in picture #3 above)
  • Give homemade treat gifts in canning jars or tin buckets that can be reused {example}

Which of these green gift-wrapping ideas are your favorite?

Note: Images without credit are ones that I was unable to find an original source for – all images found on Pinterest!

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DIY details: our wedding

A few months back, I shared with you my top 10 suggestions for being a budget-savvy bride — ultimately planning a wedding with the cost in mind, rather than irrational visions you’ve accrued over the years of your ‘dream wedding.’  A little harsh? Perhaps. But if you follow my tips, then you (and your bank account) just might thank me later! I digress. Back to what this post is about. I had mentioned that I’d make sure to share my various DIY wedding projects when it was all said and done. And so here we are.

The following projects were centered around the idea of saving money and trying to incorporate as many reused items as possible, all while staying in my nature-esque autumn theme. (Not shown: invites, RSVP cards and programs). Check it out:

IMG_0204DIY #1: ring bearer “pillow.” A white spray-painted pumpkin + twine. Too easy!

IMG_1024

Untitled (2)DIY #2: centerpieces. These were made from vases I purchased from thrift stores & garage sales (I never paid more than a dollar for each). I tied the mouths of the vase with twine and filled them with pine cones and sticks from my backyard, plus a sprig of decorative berries from the craft store (now being used as Christmas decor around my house). They were set on top of wood slabs my stepdad cut from a fallen tree. Lastly, I placed tea lights in small canning jars (again, tied with twine) next to the vases for a little romantic ambiance. Total cost for 25 tables? $32.

IMG_1074DIY #3: reserved signs. For the tables that were reserved for immediate family, I bought paper with a faux wood grain look from the craft store (55 cents each), traced “*reserved*” using a pack of letter stickers, and added a few subtle leaf stamps in the corner.

IMG_1031
DIY #4: head table decor. The head table was lined with old-fashioned Ball canning jars (from my mom’s collection) that were tied with twine and holding my bridesmaid’s bouquets. Not pictured: small juice cups held tea light candles that were placed in between the jars.

card box
DIY #5: cardbox. Here I glued together two round cardboard boxes from the craft store and added miniature bunting across the front, lace along the edges and twine on the top. Using the same letter stickers that I did for the reserved signs above, I traced “thank you!” on the top and added a button for the “o,” because just why the heck why not!  Total cost? $12.

IMG_1017 IMG_1015
DIY #6: cake topper. Paper bird cut-outs (hand drawn by a friend) glued onto a stick (from the backyard, of course) sat on top of my birch tree-inspired cake, making this the cheapest DIY project of  ’em all – around 50 cents. (Similar ones on Etsy run between $20-$30).

Untitled (2)

IMG_1109
DIY #7: trail mix bar. While this was the most expensive “DIY” (around $75 because of the cost of ingredients), it was definitely the most worth-while and a huge hit amongst guests! The bunting triangles were purchased from the craft store as well as the letters to trace “trail mix” onto them. I strung them through a piece of twine that was held by two small pumpkins on each end of the table. An eclectic mix of bowls and dishes taken from my mom’s house were filled with an array of trail mix items and set on top of tree slabs.

There you have it! Are any of these ideas ones that you would recreate for a wedding or other event?!

jeanette

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green gift guide.

Thanksgiving has passed and the chaos of Christmas shopping is in full swing. Why not be thoughtful of the environment while you’re on your holiday hunt this year? Simply support local businesses and eco-conscious products! Here’s what made the top ten list for my personal green gift guide:

  1. Jade yoga mat via Moss Envy – Give the gift of zen with this all natural yoga mat constructed of natural rubber (contains no PVC or ozone depleting substances commonly found in standard yoga mats). Made in the USA. Bonus – a tree is planted for every mat sold!
  2. Burt’s Bees almond milk hand crème – This ultra-rich (and delightful smelling) cream helps to relieve harsh hands brought on by old man winter.
  3. Whole Living magazine – Sign someone (or yourself) up for a subscription to get a dose of the latest eco-friendly happenings; everything from sustainable recipes to natural stress remedies.
  4. Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Set – Since cleaning is an inevitable part of life, why not use great-smelling and earth-friendly products while doing it? Enter Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. (I personally love the  holiday seasonal scents: orange clove and Iowa pine)
  5. Aveda limited edition candle – Set the ambiance with a SCENTsesational (couldn’t help myself) candle like this one from Aveda. The glass holder is made from 95% recycled materials and comes covered in hand-crafted lokta bark paper from Nepal.
  6. Night Owl Paper Goods to-do list notebook – ‘Tis the season to make those lists (and check them twice). Do it in style with this sustainably harvested birch jotter pad.
  7. Equal Exchange spicy hot cocoa – A mug full of hot chocolate is the timeless way to warm up on a cold winter’s night. Spice it up with this cayenne and cinnamon infused version for an extra kick! Note: it’s also organic and uses fair trade cocoa — score!
  8. YESto organic chapstick – Ban chapped lips for the arctic-like months with these organic and conditioning lip butters. Paraben, petroleum & phthalate free!
  9. True Food by Andrew Weil – A book of 125 recipes that support overall well-being through the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients. (It definitely has a spot on my xmas list!)
  10. Faribault Woolen Mill Co. wool throw – Keep the chills at bay and support a small business by warming up with a cozy wool throw (made right here in Minnesota)! Eco fact: Since sheep produce a new fleece every year, wool is a great renewable fiber source.

Are these items you’d consider gifting, either for yourself or for a loved one, this year?

Psst – Take your green thumb one step further by wrapping the gifts in newspaper to reduce, reuse, recycle! :-)

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ooh la latte! DIY style.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m a big fan of fancy coffee drinks but not the price tag – something I think most people can relate to. Throughout the years I’ve managed to come up with a few ways to whittle down the cost of my routine coffee shop visits (reference here or here) but all that has recently become a distant memory of the past. Enter Bialetti espresso maker and Aroma milk frother (or better known as  two of the best wedding gifts ever)! Forget going to Starbucks and lose the idea of shelling out hundreds of dollars for one of those high-end espresso makers! When combined, these two products are truly all a person needs to have delicious coffee drinks made right at home! (Am I starting to sound like an infomercial yet?) Yeah, okay… enough.

Ranting aside, my typical morning since getting this perfect pair has been occupied by creating delicious, homemade coffee concoctions like cappuccinos, lattes and cafe con leches. Mmm :)

The moral of the story here is that if you (or someone you know) is an espresso enthusiast, this is an excellent gift idea! (You could even consider adding a personal touch by including some various specialty coffee drink and/or syrup recipes). But gift or no gift, investing in these two products won’t break the bank and will [ideally] prevent those frequent stops at the coffee shop you later end up feeling guilty about.

Do you have any secrets for making fancy at-home coffee drinks? Are these items you’d consider buying?

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budget bride guide.

Did you know the cost of an average American wedding today is 26-30k?! I mean, really think about that number —  that is the cost of a brand spankin’ new car, a down payment for a house, or almost a whole college education… and to think people spend this for one day. I cringe.

My wedding is in one week and since the day of the engagement I had one goal in mind: make this wedding as eco-friendly as possible, both for the sake of my wallet as well as the environment.  Over the course of my penny-pinching planning (tongue twister for ya), it’s an understatement to say that I learned a thing or two about being a a bride on a budget. With that, keep reading to learn how I was able to plan my wedding for around one third of the “average American.”

1) Watch what you say. First and foremost, do not, I repeat – DO NOT – say things like, “I am only getting married once, I HAVE to have it…” or “It’s my special day, I deserve to have everything I want,” or my personal favorite, “But I’ve been dreaming about this day all my life…” Blah, blah, blah! News flash – keep telling yourself things like that and you can kiss your cash goodbye by the time the wedding is all said and done. Which leads me to my next point…

2)  The rule of three.  Pick the three things that are most important to you and splurge on those items only. Is it the dress, food, venue, DJ, photographer? Whichever three you choose, make those your spendy spots and go easy on the rest. (One easy way to decide is to ask yourself, “What will make the day the most memorable?”)

3) Incorporate nature. Whether it’s your aisle runners, centerpieces, or venue décor, using items from nature is not only eco-friendly (and beautiful), but it’s free! A great deal of my wedding décor is made up of sticks and pine cones from my backyard. As I always say – go green, don’t spend green! While we’re on the topic of nature…

4) Keep it natural. Try using as many sustainable products and services as possible. A few examples: invites (like mine) can be made from 100% recycled paper and printed with soy-based ink; look for a caterer who offers seasonal and organic food (if your budget allows); buy farmers market flowers for bouquets (instead of the florist shop ones sprayed with pesticides), the list goes on.

5) Utilize local vendors when possible. Not only is it great to support small and local businesses, but they also tend to be much cheaper than those pesky retail wedding giants. I saved a lot of money by going with small/local places and freelance people such as my engagement photographer, florist, cake maker, seamstress  and hair stylist. The website Etsy is also an excellent source for supporting the little guys, not to mention a wonderful resource for unique ideas!

6) Ask for discounts when applicable. One thing that I made sure to take full advantage of was my fiancé’s military standing; throughout my search for various vendors I always asked if they offered a military discount. In the end I saved hundreds since my reception venue, florist, and photographer all offered one. It never hurts to ask!

7) Do it DIY style. The more you ‘do it yourself’, the cheaper your total bill is going to be. Let me put this in simple terms – you should know your way around Michael’s Craft Store  like the back of your hand and Pinterest should easily become your most viewed websites when planning a wedding. I applied around at least ten ideas to my wedding that I took directly from Pinterest — everything from my cake topper to my card box. While they aren’t 100% the same, here are a few of my favorite pins that inspired a few of my DIY wedding projects: cake toppercake, trail mix barcenterpieces. Bonus – your guests will more than likely be quite impressed with your hard work and creativity!

8) Buy used. One of the easiest ways to save money (plus reuse/recycle) is to buy used items! I managed to get all of the vases for my centerpieces solely from garage sales and thrift stores for $.10 – $1.00/ea. (Much cheaper than renting or buying new, plus now I can donate or sell them to someone else who could use them for their wedding!) Bridal consignment shops and recycled wedding websites are starting to pop up all over so do your research before you buy new.

9) Make sacrifices. This goes back to point #1 – if you get every little thing you want, your bank account will ultimately suffer. Although it may be hard, ask yourself if the item or service is really that important and thoroughly think it through before making impulse purchases (that you later realize you could have easily done without). Think of it this way — what are the things that have the potential to make or break the day? It’s probably not those $200 shoes that more than likely no one will even see (and you’ll wear only once) or the programs that will get thrown out right after the ceremony.

10) Condense the guest list. As tough as it may seem to weed out Great Aunt Sally or your old co-worker, this is the easiest way to  keep your budget in check. A good way to decide who makes the cut is to simply consider the people who are most important in our life and who you want to share in the celebration of your special day. But if you just can’t get over the idea of not inviting every single one of your FB friends, compromise by just having them come to the dance portion of your reception.

So there you have it – my personal top tips for being a budget-savvy bride! Be on the look out for a recap of my wedding and an up-close look at my various DIY projects!

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a breath of fresh air.

Did you know that the air in an average home is anywhere from two to five times as polluted as the air outdoors?  After recently coming across that little piece of information I couldn’t help but put together my top tips that homeowners can implement to keep the air in their home as clean as possible. Read on and breathe easy…

·         Bring the outdoors in. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, consequently improving air quality (read more about the benfits of indoor plants here). Aim for 1-2 plants per room for the best results.

·         Dust it off! Have you swiped a finger along the top of your door frames recently, or how about behind the TV? More than likely there is dust accumulating which can have a negative effect on the air you and your family breathe. Try to dust every two weeks to keep pesky dust bunnies at bay. Also consider washing your curtains every 1-2 months since those can be a hot spot for collecting dust as well.

·         Let in the breeze. Being that outdoor air quality is much cleaner than that of indoors, open the windows to let air circulate throughout the home, weather permitting of course!

·         Stick to soy. I am talking candles! Standard paraffin wax candles emit a smoke which contains carcinogenic toxins and create black soot. And on that note – pass on plug-in air fresheners, too. While they might make your home smell good, they aren’t natural and only raise your electric bill. Opt for reed diffusers with essential oils instead.

·         Focus on floors. Floors in the home, especially carpeted ones, are breeding grounds for all sorts of particles. Vacuum at least once a week to keep floors (and air) clean.

·         Shoes off. This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s definitely a noteworthy item to mention. Think of all the dirt and contaminants you step on when you are out and about – do you really want to track that around your house? Probably not. (You also might want to consider wiping off Fido’s paws regularly for the same reason)

·         Clean with green. Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that are not meant for humans to breathe in. Switch to green cleaning products such as those made by Seventh Generation, Method, or my personal favorite – Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. Even better though is to make your own (easy and cost-effective!)

·         Filter it. In addition to all the suggestions above, it is wise to invest in an air purifier (those with HEPA filters are best for eliminating the most air irritants), especially if you suffer from allergies.

Are any of these suggestions ones that you already implement in your home, or if not, ones that you’d consider?

 

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face to the book.

After toying with the idea for more than a year now, I finally created a Facebook page for SimplyChic! I figure it’s my best bet for getting myself to revert back to creating posts on a regular basis. That said, if you want updates on new SimplyChic blog posts but don’t want to subscribe by email, “liking” my page is what ya need to do! And while you’re at it, you could follow my obsessive pinning on Pinterest for your daily dose of DIY ideas and recipe inspiration (61 boards and more than 3,300 pins – I am not messing around folks) or even take it one step further and follow me on Twitter, too, if you’re a real social media junkie. Just an idea…

Thanks for the support! :)

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progress report: master bedroom

I’m back with another progress report on the house! While there are still a few more things we want to do in our bedroom, we think it’s safe to say it’s made a noteworthy makeover so far.

The first three photos below show the “before” from the way the previous homeowners had the room situated and the rest show the progress we’ve made. Check it out:

masterBEFORE

BEFOREBEFORE

PROGRESS – We ditched the violet/gray sponge paint pictured on the left in favor of a soothing blue as seen on the right. (The color is “Herringbone” by Valspar)

*Items pictured: curtains = Target, table lamp on left = Lowe’s, brick side table = hand-me-down, alarm clock = Target, wall sconce = Target, duvet cover & pillow shams = West Elm, ampersand pillow = HOM Furniture, table lamp on right = consignment store, bedside table = Home Goods, faux fur rug = Target.

AFTER! (well, progress at least!) The room feels much larger now that the windows aren’t being blocked and more natural light can come in. We currently just  have our mattress on the floor but I am planning on putting wood pallets underneath so we are not blocking the heat vents along the wall (but still not blocking the windows, either. I am thinking something like this). We also would like to add a few plants for some natural greenery and eventually install dark bamboo blinds to all four windows.

Where the previous owners had a small jewelry storage table, we decided to put a reading nook to make the space more usable and inviting.

*Items pictured: curtains = Home Goods, hanging lamp = thrift store, throw = West Elm, accent pillow = hand-me-down, chair & ottoman = IKEA, antique side table = hand-me-down, magazine rack = IKEA

Still figuring out what exactly we want to do with that nook off to the right… It would be a good place to tuck away seasonal clothes or linens if we were to come across a storage bin that was sized nicely for the space.

*Items pictured: Mirror = hand-me-down, dresser = IKEA

The dresser still needs a little ‘dressing up’ so to speak; I am thinking a plant and a few antique trays for jewelry and such. As for the short wall on the left, it’s in definite need of a piece of art.

*Items pictured: curtains = Home Goods, wall art = IKEA

The other half of the room. Here you see Mr. Robot, aka our additional heat/AC for the upstairs which I’ll have to figure out how to work around for now, possibly mask it with a large plant… your ideas are more than welcome!

*Items pictured: hamper  & curtains from Home Goods,

So that’s the transformation thus far! Thoughts?

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tarte haul.


When I recently received Tarte’s newsletter announcing their friends & family sale (30% off all items), I reached for my credit card without hesitation. The combination of my ongoing Tarte “want list” plus my weakness for a sale could only mean one thing – it was game on. While I didn’t get everything I wanted (I had to draw the line somewhere or else I’d have bought everything off the dang website), my money was well spent on what I did allow myself to buy. Here’s what I purchased and my [brief] impressions on each item:

1) Maracuja Creaseless Waterproof ConcealerLong-lasting. Full coverage. Natural. Need I say more?

2) Amazonian Clay 12-hour Foundation — You can read my full review about this fab foundation here. And let me just say – you know it’s gotta be good if I, the forever frugalista, have purchased this pricey product three times now.

3) Bambeautiful Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Palette in ‘Shades of Clay’ — The shades in this palette (shimmering buff, shimmering sable, shimmering cocoa and matte coffee bean) are even more beautiful in person than they are in picture. Each shade is perfect for everyday wear (oh, and I’ve literally been wearing it everyday) plus the color payoff is exceptional. And just how can you overlook that chic and  sustainable bamboo packaging?! Gorgeous and green – I’m all for it.

4) ‘Lights, Camera, Lashes!’ Mascara — In addition to Tarte’s foundation mentioned above, this is yet another repeat purchase for me that you can read more about here! (Seriously, if you haven’t tried this stuff yet, you’re missing out!)

5) EmpasEYES Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eyeliner  in ‘brown’ — I initially wanted to buy this item for my wedding-day makeup look (waterproof Adele-inspired cat eye, anyone?) but have surprisingly started using it for my brows with my trusty Sigma E75 brush to add a bit of intensity. So I guess you could say this item doubles as a  two-for-one and that’s what I call a money-worthy purchase!

6) LipSurgance Matte Lip Tint in ‘Envy’ — With fall just around the corner, how could I say no to a product promising a deep berry lip? All self-justifications aside, I now want to buy every shade in the line – no joke. It’s moisturizing, long-lasting, rich in color, and peppermint-infused — far from that of your typical drugstore lip tint/stain. Now how’s that for pigment-perfect pout, people!?

What Tarte items have exceeded your expectations?

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progress report: eat-in kitchen

Hey everyone! Missed me, eh? I’ve been so pre-occupied with moving and getting settled into the new house that SimplyChic has been sitting on the back burner. I did, however, want to whip together a quick post to show you one of the many rooms we are in the process of updating! Check it out:

BEFORE

^This is how the previous owners had the room (I snagged the photo from the orginal online listing.) To me this screamed cluttered, dreary and just plain ‘blah.’  The first thing to do was get rid of that violet/gray sponge paint! (Hard to see in the picture but it was not pretty)

PROGRESS

^ That left wall above the chair rail will soon be knocked down to create a more open kitchen concept.

PROGRESS

^Room cleared, trim taped off and walls ready for paint!

PROGRESS

Fresh paint, wall art, island, bar stools, and a plant make the room feel instantly updated and more ‘at home’ so to speak.

Our next project before we can say this room is truly complete is to install window treatments. I’m thinking bamboo roman shades that match the dark wood floor – thoughts?  Speaking of the floors, I would also love to re-stain them — you can’t really tell from the pictures but the stain that the previous homeowners applied is fading in spots and the varnish is peeling off – wah, wah, wah. I would also love to install beadboard underneath the chair rail. Okay, I could honestly come up with a never-ending list of things I’d “like to do” but I’ll spare you and stop right here.

So long story short, now that I’m in the new house and getting my hands dirty, there will more than likely be many more interior design/decorating posts to come! Stay tuned!

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