Shopping Shopping Shopping

Y’all, there are some seriously important shopping days coming up, so put on your focus pants and listen:

This Friday:  Black Friday.  The famous (or infamous) annual day-after-Thanksgiving event where the masses go crazy, spend money, and save even more (depending on who you ask).  In the past, sales would start as early as 5:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m., but now more and more stores are bumping up the start of their “Black Friday” sales to midnight or even as early as 10:00 p.m., Thanksgiving.  (Honestly, I’m pretty strongly against this last one because it takes people away from their families — and I mean the store associates in this case — but this trend has caught on nonetheless.  Be classy – boycott these Thanksgiving night sales, folks.  As Teresa would say, “That’s just tacky.”)

Regardless of how you feel about it, Black Friday sales really do live up to the hype (especially in department stores like JC Penney and Macy’s).  For a bevvy of Black Friday tips, check out my post from last year: Black Friday Shopping Tips

Moving on.  Small Business Saturday.  Ah, just the name of this shopping holiday brings a smile to my face.  Aaaand it is exactly what it sounds like:  A day to show small businesses a little love by patronizing them (you know which definition of that word I mean) – as opposed to the big box retailers you usually give your money (no judgment, just tellin’ it like it is).  This is a relatively new shopping holiday — in the long history of shopping holidays, of course – so every year it grows just a bit more in scope.  Check out my previous post on Small Business Saturday.  I said so many wise things about it last year, I wouldn’t want you to miss out.  ;)

Cyber Monday:  Oh, how I love online shopping, and oh how I love Cyber Monday even more.  This fabulous event occurs the Monday after Thanksgiving (so this year, it’ll be November 26th, 2012).  For the full scoop, you can read… broken record time… my post from last year… but suffice it to say, it’s a great day to score fabulous deals with many online retailers offering discounted or even FREE shipping.

So yeah, that was a whole lot of review of posts past, but now it’s all in one place for your browsing pleasure.  Wasn’t that sweet of me?  :)

Happy Shopping… and more importantly, my American readers…

Happy Thanksigiving!!! 

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Something Else That Teresa Did

My mother, Teresa — oh, the jokes — is a frequent guest on this little blog of mine, and considering her crafty prowess, this should come as no surprise.  Remember the Statue of Liberty pillow?

Statue of Liberty pillow

Statue of Liberty pillow

Allll Teresa.

And the David Bromstadt inspired painting (that I took a really bad picture of)?

David Bromstad inspired painting

And the antique Singer sewing machine dining room table?

antique singer sewing machine dining room table

All her ideas.

(This post is 100% my mama…  I take no credit.  I just took the pictures and wrote the quasi-tutorial.)

My mother has been dabbling with simple and cost-effective gift ideas because she and some other women from the Lilburn Women’s Club are having a booth at an upcoming craft fair.  All proceeds go to a scholarship fund they’ve created for high school seniors pursuing degrees in the arts.  So, as little overhead as possible is the idea, and today’s idea definitely meets that requirement.

They can be used as a brooch pin, headband charm, or a hair pin:

She uses the pre-cut sheets of felt that you can get at most fabric or arts & crafts stores.  These were 2 for $1.

Of course, you can make your own template, but she found these nesting cookie cutters that were already a great flower shape, so she’s been using those.

She cuts out each layer…

Then stacks them and sews them through the middle:

To cover up the thread and give the flowers a center, she sews on a few beads:

I think they’d be fun for adults, but I especially like them for young girls (I see variations of this same idea on my students’ clothes and hair all the time).

Oooh!  Let’s look at some more…

At $0.50 a sheet (and one sheet can make many petal layers), this is a super cost-effective gift option.

So many pretties…  Isn’t Teresa so clever?

(I know deep down she really loves this picture) :

No-Sew Scarf Tutorial

 

Look what I made!

 

Now ask me some questions.  Ok?  Go!

You:  Courtney, did you have to use a sewing machine to make that fringed scarf?

Me:  Nope.

You:  Did you use a needle and thread?

Me:  Nope!

You:  Did you use… the force?

Me:  Always.

Ok, thanks for humoring me.  You’re too good.

So… If you’re not attuned to magical Star Wars powers, that’s ok.  You can still make this.  Ready?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An old shirt that you’re willing to part with (I used a tank top that had been ruined in the wash)
  • Scissors (for fabric)
  • About an hour of your time (I recommend doing this while watching TV)

1.  Cut off the top, just under the armholes so you end up with a tube shape.

2.  Cut thin and even strips of fringe about a third of the way up the “tube.”  I recommend really taking your time on this.  The first few I did were a little haphazard, before I realized it was not going to turn out well if I didn’t slow down (story of my life).  Cut the fringe all the way around the tube.

3.  Once you are done cutting, twist and pull each piece of fringe (so it actually resembles fringe and not so much cookie cutter strips of fabric).

4.  To get an even more shabby chic, fringe-y look, I recommend hand washing it, then hanging it up and letting it air dry (I wouldn’t machine wash it because then all of the fringe will tangle up).

Then you can wear it!

 

 

This was my very first attempt, and the shirt I used was a ribbed tank.  I think here it’s a little more obvious that it’s a shirt turned into a scarf, but I think it would work even better if it was a thinner cotton material, like the kind that a lot of women’s graphic tees are made of.  In my case, I used a women’s size small, so I’m guessing anything much bigger might be too big (unless you have an extraordinarily long torso).

My favorite thing about this project is that it reuses a shirt that would have been otherwise destined for the thrift store or garbage can.  Or in my case, just another addition to an already large collection of painting shirts (I mean, it’s kind of out of control).

Not to mention, there’s a scarf involved.  I mean, can you have too many scarves?!?!

(No, Josh.  The answer is “no,” you cannot have too many scarves.)

My Ever Growing Crafty To Do List

So, I spent the last week in Atlanta visiting family and friends, and per usual, “visiting” evolved into shopping with my lady family members.  And also per usual, “shopping” evolved into me getting camera phone happy, especially when we were in stores with really great merchandising, design, and decor — typically the boutiques.  Yes, I did some actual shopping — you know, where you exchange currency for goods? —  but mostly I was  window shopping, and like I said, snapping away some inspirational pics.

…Which means my already overflowing crafty to do list has grown a little longer.

On my first day in town, my mother took me to a few boutiques, as well as a really great “designer” consignment shop (where she proceeded to spoil me all in the name of “this is what the Easter Bunny will be giving you”).  Amidst the quasi shopping spree that results when you haven’t seen your only daughter in eight months, I got a few ideas.

My mom and I saw this chandelier in a boutique, and we both got our phones out in unison.  We thought it was pretty picture-worthy.

It’s made from three different circular-wire-metal things with vintage book pages clipped to each circle.  I think this idea would work especially well with old dictionary pages or sheet music.  And I’m guessing the paper is magically flame retardant or the light bulbs are really low wattage?  Not quite sure how to jump this hurdle.  Or the whole finding/making-circular-wire-metal things.  Or finding room for another light fixture in my already crowded shoebox apartment.  Ok… this project might be going to the bottom of the list.  But isn’t it cool?!

While at another boutique, I saw these fun necklaces made from jersey material:

I think I could easily duplicate these by cutting some long strips from old t-shirts (but I won’t tell that to the boutique owners who were charging $30 per necklace).

This same store had more jersey jewelry, including braided bracelets and headbands — but did I take any pictures?  Nope.  But here’s an example of what they looked like from an Etsy seller:

Multi-Color Braided T-Shirt Bracelet - Eco Friendly

{Source: Urban Creatures}

On my Shopping-But-Mostly-Hoarding-Crafty-Ideas Trip Part 2, I went with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to The Avenue, an open-air mall (they feature national retailers, but they also have local places).

At one boutique, I snapped this pic of a glitter tree and a fab dresser:

But more importantly, there was a glitter tree.  I don’t know what I’ll use it for, but I’ll be damned if I don’t make a glitter tree in the year 2012.  I’m pretty sure it will change my life.

Then, my mama-in-law, knowing how I love DIY, gave me a copy of Birds & Blooms, the Backyard Projects publication.  She told me that while she knew I had no backyard, no blooms, and no birds (city savvy pigeons don’t count), she loved all of the upcycling projects and knew I would, too (she was right).

Here’s a great gift idea I found:

{Source: Birds & Blooms}

Again, I have no green thumb, much less a place to plant green things, but I know many a gardener who would love their own plant markers.  (Hark!  Do I hear a holiday coming up on Sunday, May 13th?)

I couldn’t find the rest of the ideas on the Birds & Blooms website, so I got out my trusty scanner and did it up 90’s style.  (I know scanners are still totally practical, but  for some reason they remind me of fax machines, which are undeniably reminiscent of the 90’s).

Here’s a cool idea for a planter:

Again, I’m not going to be planting anything any time soon, but I’m a big fan of mailboxes-used-as-other-things in general:

Josh and I used this in our wedding on the gift table so guests had a place to put cards.  At the time, the handle was completely orange, but over time, the paint has chipped away.  Now it just holds toilet paper and hangs out in our bathroom.

More importantly, you were just privy to a picture of my toilet.  Now I feel so much closer to you…

And continuing my love for DIY lamps, here’s a great bamboo light shade:

I love it the way it is, but I think I’d like it even more if it was a bit shorter.

And, saving my favorite idea for last, here is a bicycle wheel organizer:

It looks like they’ve put some vintage seed packets in the spokes, but I would to-do-list the crap out of this thing.  I love the idea of using orange, green, and turquoise paper to write down reminders and ideas, then attaching them with clothespins.  And best of all, I could spin it!  It’d be like a lazy Susan to do list… I mean, how could that be bad?

And… it just so happens, I recently found a discarded bicycle wheel on the street in Brooklyn.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but I knew crafty inspiration would strike.

Here’s my newly cleaned bicycle wheel, ready for my next project:

Oh boy!  Oh boy!

Happy Monday :)

Wedding Wednesday: Bridesmaids’ Dresses

***Check out the other posts in this series, “Tying the Knot without Breaking the Bank.”

In the balancing act that is wedding budgeting, one thing that you don’t traditionally have to worry about is the bridesmaids dresses (or at least, that’s what Emily Post says).  Of course, this doesn’t mean you should abuse your bridesmaids’ obligation/generosity.  No one likes a Bride-zilla with crazy-town expectations, and since there are a bazillion ways to save money on bridesmaids dresses, there’s no need for this faux pas in the first place.

photo by jk Dallas Photography

In my case, I wanted to find relatively affordable dresses that were unique to each bridesmaid.  Though the whole every-girl-wearing-the-same-dress thing is a long standing and lovely tradition, I wanted a little more variety.  I picked the color and material (a Kelly green silk from Aria Bridesmaids), as well as the length (tea length), but let them choose the style of the dress.  This worked out beautifully because Aria Bridesmaids has many options fitting these parameters (it was also the only dress company of any kind that had multiple styles of dresses in that particular shade of green).  And the dresses didn’t have one of those $800 price tags (I’m thinking of the movie Bridesmaids).

photo by jk Dallas Photography

photo by jk Dallas Photography

photo by jk Dallas Photography

While I highly recommend Aria Bridesmaids (seriously, their dresses are gorgeous), there are also many other ways to save money yet retain the style that you’re wanting.  Here a few tips:

  • If you’re not set on a particular color like I was, then David’s Bridal is a great and affordable stop.  Gone are the days of duchess satin in muted tones (though if you want that, they can offer that too).  Now more than ever, they offer a wide range of colors, materials, styles, and price ranges (though by and large, they are definitely one of the most inexpensive companies out there).
  • Instead of requiring your gals to buy a new dress, just request that they all wear the same color (or a specific pattern, i.e. polka dots, stripes, etc.).  If you’re worried about clashing colors (there are at least 573 shades of red, after all), you can give them a fabric swatch or a paint chip so they have something tangible to compare.  Maybe they’ll already have something in their closet!
  • Don’t necessarily limit yourself to bridal stores.  There are so many other places that carry formal dresses, including mall and department stores.
  • If you’re wanting the all-the-same-dress thing, check out sales at a department store like JC Penney or Macy’s, especially after prom season (Macy’s actually has their own bridesmaids section now).
  • Make them by hand!  I have zero sewing skills, so if you’re like me, maybe you can enlist the help from someone else, like a mom!  And if you buy all of the fabric at the same time and use one of those awesome 50% off coupons from JoAnn or Michael’s, you can stand to save even more money!

Previous Posts in the Wedding Series…

Setting a Date

Finding a Venue

Picking a Caterer

Saving on Invitations and Save-the-Dates

Photography & Videography

The Magic of the Sweater Shaver

If you’ve ever owned a sweater, or even a fleecy jacket, you have probably suffered the wrath of pilling.  You know, where all of the little fibers become obnoxious little fuzz ball things therefore rendering your otherwise fabulous royal blue winter coat a piece of crap (Real Life Example Alert).

However, there’s a fabulous thing called a sweater shaver — have you heard of them? — that helps get rid of all of that… crap.

For those of you who have had a lifelong love affair with El Sweater Shaver, this is not exactly a news flash, but to the few among us who have just discovered it, it’s like manna from the heavens.  Except you can’t eat a sweater shaver.  (Very dangerous.)

So for those sweater shaver newbies (like me), here’s a before and after of my winter coat.

 

Before:

 

After:

It’s like magic, right?  Right?!?!

 

And here’s what the sweater shaver looks like:

Small, but mighty.  And for less than five bucks, you can get one (the kind I have is by Evercare and it’s $3.99 at CVS drug stores).

(And think of all the sweaters and coats that will be saved from the thrift store pile!?!)

Oh, how I love my sweater shaver… Perhaps I’ll write a haiku about it — I mean, it’s the least I can do (I’ll keep you posted).

Other manna-like things you might fancy…

In Praise of Restaurant.com

A Tony Chachere’s Knock-off

Eaaasssy Chocolate Truffle Recipe

Fashion Cupcake

Happy Monday!  Today I have the pleasure of featuring a brand spankin’ new, online boutique:  Fashion Cupcake!

My friend, Amanda officially launched Fashion Cupcake on Valentine’s Day of thiyear.  Check out this blurb from her that explains what they’re all about:

“We are a company that started based on the idea that fabulous fashion should always be affordable AND high in quality… Fashion Cupcake carries anything and everything from cute and feminine fashions to adorable affordable accessories and fun gift items!”

(The keywords I want you to pick up on are fabulous, fashion, and affordable…)

I looove boutiques, but more often than not, the prices are just not within my budget.  However, with Fashion Cupcake, you get the same unique designs and one-of-a-kind touches that you only see in boutique fashions, but for a far more affordable price.  Not to mention, Fashion Cupcake also has a sale section and an “Item of the Week,” both with great deals.  I like it.

Here are a few of my personal faves I found while browsing their selection (click on the image to redirect to the website):

Coral and gold earrings

Pleated orange dress

Gold and pearl ring with elastic band

Gold, orange, pleats, pearls… so many good things going on here :)

Go check out their website for even more loveliness:  ShopFashionCupcake.com.  And while you’re at it, you can check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter (or both) for updates on sales and new arrivals!

***The legal stuff:  I was not compensated for publishing this post, and all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Check back tomorrow for another post in the Craigslist series!