Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bookshelf Lighting

I love the look of a bookshelf topped with lighting, like this:

From Apartment Therapy
But I also like the idea of adding swing-arm sconces to the shelf itself.  Examples:

 I also love the above combination of a library/guest room.

I don't get the collection of mini tables - or are they tiny stools?  I guess everyone collects something.

My favorite has to be this IKEA Billy Bookcases hack - tutorial here.  Total genius!

And I love the adjustable height lamps too.  Total crave!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Illuminated Globe

Last night, I was watching Paris, Texas and loved the illuminated globe in the boy's bedroom.  I would love to get one for my son's room.  Both educational and useful as a nightlight.  Although a gently used one for half of the price would be preferable, here are some of the brand new ones I like.

I like the antique-feel of this Cram Newbridge 12-inch diameter globe for $88.99. 

However, the black looks so sophisticated - Phoenix 12-inch Black Ocean Illuminated Desk Globe for $85.91.  I wonder what it looks like at night.

This 14-inch Illuminated Blue Gemstone Globe with Gold Stand ($129.99) wins hands down for detail and would fit in well with the retro futuristic theme of my son's room.  And it's actually a really good deal, even if it is more expensive than the other two, because it was originally $300.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wisteria Stool

At the moment I'm very much digging Wisteria's Diamond-Pattern Ceramic Stool.

$289 is definitely not in the budget right now, so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a look-a-like bargain.

So far I've found the wood version at Ballard Designs for $199, but I'm going to keep looking.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pottery Barn Coffee Table for Less

Every time I see the Rhys Coffee Table in a Pottery Barn catalog, I remember how much I love it.

And then I remember how much I hate the $600+ price tag.

Overstock currently has the "Norwich" coffee table for $334.99 with fantastic reviews.  So if you're looking for the same coffee table, but want to save some dough, that's an option.  The picture looks black, but many reviewers say it is in fact a dark brown.

Or you could build one yourself, like Georgia from More Like Home did here.  Inspired by Ana White, she drew up plans you can use for free.  She did a more rustic stain, but you could easily stain or paint it any color you'd like.  Her cost: $60 plus hardware.  Totally inspiring.  She also drew up the plans for the matching console table and end tables.  Love!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rent the Runway: Wedding Edition

Have you heard of Rent the Runway?  Instead of buying a black-tie event dress you'll only wear once, you can go through them and rent a designer dress (or jewelry or bag).  Not only do they send you a backup size for FREE so you don't have to worry about the fit, but shipping is included and you don't even have to dry clean the dress before you send it back.

I stumbled across them looking for a prom dress for my stepdaughter and thought it was a great idea.  I haven't used them, so if you have and want to leave feedback here, it would be greatly appreciated.  Today they sent an e-mail out that confirmed for me that whoever runs this business is pretty smart:  rental bridesmaid dresses.

And they're not hideous.  Here are my faves (the prices are for a 4-8 day rental, depending on the dress):

Alberto Ferretti, $250

Badgley Mishka, $50

Badgley Mischka, $100

Christian Siriano (of Project Runway fame), $200

Nicole Miller, $100

Shoshanna, $50

I obviously gravitated toward a one-shouldered look (totally unplanned).  If you're interested in Rent the Runway, you can visit through the link above or this one, which is my "referral" link:  Rent the Runway  And please remember to leave a message if you've used them before - prom is coming up quick!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sale on Steaks

I mention fairly regularly that my mom is a super shopper.  Like, should-have-her-own-show super shopper.  I try to soak up as many of her bargain shopping tips as I can, but I doubt I'll ever come close to her shopping prowress.  Mostly because she puts in a lot of legwork.  Just going grocery shopping with her wears me out.  I am an in-and-out kind of gal; armed with a list and totally avoiding any aisle I don't need to resist temptations.  My mom literally walks down every aisle of every store she goes in.  So far the only store I've noticed her not do this in is Super Wal-Mart, but she went down at least 3/4 of the aisles there - missing mostly the clothes sections.  It's exhausting.  But, she scores most of her best deals by simply keeping her eyes peeled and watching items on sale until they drop to the price she's willing to pay.

Another version of the legwork is her willingness to go to the same store 3 times a week.  It's a small salvage grocery store in the neighborhood.  "Salvage Grocery" sounds pretty scary to most people, and it's definitely a different shopping experience than Target.  But if you're willing to see past the aisle of dented cans and squished boxes, there are very good deals to be had.

This week was a major score on meat.  Since she's friendly with the store owner (and possibly related in some convaluted small-town way), she was alerted on a previous trip that they had gotten a big meat shipment in that would soon be put out.  She stocked up - a lot of chicken tenders for $1/lb. and some others, but the best deal was on a whole New York Strip. 

It kind of looks like this in the bag:

From The Coalition of the Swilling
 Which would be my problem - because I'm not sure looking at it that I would know what it was.  Luckily it was labeled.

Out of the bag, it looks like this:

From Buckhead Beef
 Total out-of-pocket cost:  $54.  Sounds kind of steep?  Well, it made this 15 one-inch thick New York Strips.  That's $3.60 a steak.  Not only much less than we could buy it in a regular grocery store, but the entire lot cost less than what you would pay for two people to eat at a steakhouse.

My mom mentioned that this kind of haul isn't the standard at her salvage grocery - they only get it in a couple of times a year.  However, I learned from this post that you can probably score something similar at Costco or Sam's for a little more money.  Just look for one that isn't frozen so you can cut it up and portion it into freezer bags. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

DIY Portraits

When my son was around 10 months old, we took him to a picture studio to have his pictures done.  In fact, my mother was kind of appalled that it took that long for us to get his portrait done.  We had a fine photo shoot and the pictures are cute, but I've never taken him back.

Portrait studio pictures, although nice, always feel too posed and formal for my taste.  My favorite pictures are done on location.  They feel like the photographer got lucky and caught that special look or smile.  Not "Hold that smile for ten minutes while I fluff the pillow you're sitting on to look more like a cloud."

Our unofficial boycott of portrait studios is a sore spot for my mother.  When I take a good picture, I usually get it enlarged and send them a copy, but I finally figured out that what she really wanted were wallet sizes so she could pass them out to third cousins I couldn't identify out of a line-up and flash to grocery clerks across the land.

So the other day, I took my son on a photography session.  Armed with my cheap Kodak Easyshare camera and a son who luckily likes modeling for pictures (with the bribe promise of chocolate afterwards), I picked a picturesque spot downtown where they had a couple of old train cars parked and started snapping away.

I liked how they turned out - not too posed or formal.  Hardly the professional quality you would get with a better camera, but I liked them a lot.  (They look even better in real life than they're showing up online because of the high resolution).  Next I took them home and loaded them on Picnik for tweaking.

Compare the original (left) to the edited (right):

I think that the left looks more like a nice snapshot, where the right looks more like the real deal.

Another less dramatic sample:

Mostly I played around with the saturation, temperature and contrast until I liked the result.

I uploaded the pictures to and sent away for matte processing (I stopped doing glossy a long time ago) - now Grammy has a handful of wallet sizes she can share to her heart's content.

Green With Envy

My mom's guest room (where I'm currently staying) has dark chocolate walls.  She's chosen to accent it with ivory, pastels, and gold, which doesn't look bad, but definitely is more traditional than I would have done it.

I've been loving the idea of a kelly green dresser and bright white accents to add a modern spin.

From DecorPad

Not Kelly Green, but would work as well:

From DecorPad as well.

From Lonny

I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for not buying a $10 campaign dresser off of Craigslist.  I try to not do a lot of impulse shopping, but I'm still thinking of it months later!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bath & Body Works Deal

My sister received a Bath & Body Works gift card for Christmas, so I told her I would look out for a deal.  It turns out they're having a BIG sale right now.  Many of their lotions, sprays, anti-bacterial hand soaps, and shower gels are on sale for $3.  They're the full-size versions which are usually priced at $9.50 or more each

To make the deal even sweeter, you can combine it with a coupon code (PERFECTGIFT10) online or go here and print off one for in-store and receive $10 off a $30 purchase.

I went ahead and snagged 10 shower gels for only $2 each after the coupon! Score!

Thanks to for the heads up!

I Love Barn Doors!

My parents converted their attached garage a couple of years ago, but they've never truly finished it (runs in the family, I guess).  It was originally envisioned as a master suite, then a family room (it's right off of the kitchen), was used as my grandmother's apartment for a while, and has now become a catch-all room that no one uses.  It's sad really, because it's a huge space.  So I'm trying to help my mom de-clutter, re-organize, and re-purpose the room.

Since it is such a large space and there is a structural beam running down the middle, I love the idea of using barn doors to create a flexible space.  Here are some inspirational pictures I've found online.

From Chic Coles
From AMR Design

The above would probably work best - because (since it was a garage) there aren't a lot of windows and this would let in a lot of light, even when closed.

From Mytchell Contemporary Fine Art

From BHG via Blissfully Domestic

From Modern Prairie Girl

From CocoCozy
Love the blue against the rustic wood!  And the following is probably one of the most featured (blogwise) barn door I found - for good reason.  But wouldn't work at all in my parents' house.
From Southern Living
  Any favorites?