Monday, August 31, 2009

Too much of a good thing

Here's a hint that maybe, just maybe you let your preschooler watch too much TV that afternoon you needed to give the downstairs a deep cleaning:

When she's willing to defend it with her life.

Notice how she's still trying to watch the show, even as she throws her body against the screen.

Me (picking up remote and aiming it at TV): Hey, Natalie, it's time to turn the TV off and go play.

Natalie (emerging from semi-comatose state and leaping from couch): No! Please!

Me: It's time to turn this off. (trying to point remote around her)

Natalie (in desperation): Please! Just one more show? I have to see The Backyardigans.

Michaela Byrd (wandering in from the Kitchen): Yardidans!

Great, now it's two against one.

14 days and counting until the first day of preschool....

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thrifty Treasures: Deals and Dresses to Impress

What time is it?

It's Thrifty Treaures time! If you enjoy the thrill of a bargain hunt, then Rhoda's weekly blog party is the thing for you. Visit Southern Hospitality to see all the fun.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I scored last Thursday at a local consignment sale for children's clothes. I like for my girls to look "put together" (when they're not choosing "ball gowns" out of our dress-up trunk), and I usually make the bulk of their wardrobes up from consignment sales. In an effort to be more frugal, I just can't run into Gymboree and blow $45 on a sweater and skirt when I can find something just as cute (and 14 other kids at Sunday School won't have the same outfit) at a consignment sale or EVEN a yard sale!

To prove that you can find more than vintage Dukes of Hazzard t-shirts at a yard sale, I thought I'd share my finds from this Saturday. One of the high schools in my area hosted a Mothers of Mutiples yard sale in their foyer, and I made sure we were there bright and early when it opened at 8 am.

{Side note: This is after I lost ANOTHER patio set at a sale in my neighborhood at 6:15 in the morning. They say that "the early bird gets the worm." I think it should be rephrased to read "the earlier bird gets the worm." I've lost two patio sets now by mere minutes. So frustrating!}

This indoor yard sale wasn't particularly impressive in quantity of merchandise, but their prices were fabulous!

The little black velvet pant suit was $1.50 and has cute little silver hearts on the chest. I was most excited about the red and green scottie dog Christmas dress. I've got a thing for Scottie dogs. It was $3.00 and in pretty perfect condition.

The best part? I have the same dress in the closet for Michaela Byrd in a size 24 m. It's a hand-me-down from they can match on Christmas Eve!! $3.00 for an adorable holiday dress? I'm sold!
Look at that sweet little detail with the tiny printed scotties.

Aqua plaid knickers: $1.50

Jean skirt: $0.75

Pink turtle neck: $0.75 (will look super-cute under some of her sweaters)

Black, white, and red plaid skirt: $0.75

These are all great preschool outfits!

Last, but not least...a set of canisters for $2.00. I have a bunch of flour now that I'm baking bread, and I needed some extra storage in my pantry so stuff isn't falling out all over the place.

The neat thing about my consignment/yard sale clothes for the girls is that while they might not always be the cutest on their own, I can make a really cute outfit by mixing and matching or using (and making!) accessories at home. That Christmas dress will be adorable with Natalie's black Mary Janes and a beautiful big hairbow that I can try to make at home.

What did you find this weekend?
*Don't forget the Decorating Dilemmas Party on September 9th. The last one was a blast with a very good turn out.
If you didn't have a chance to stop by the first time, this is a party for bloggers to link up with any challenges they have in or around their homes (decorating, crafts, organizing, gardening, construction). Your dilemma can be anything from "Help! My son drew on my walls in permanent marker and I don't know how to cover it up" to "What color should I paint my coffee table?" I also love it when people have great solutions to share. This party is all about being real and helping out our bloggy friends. We're going to have a blast, and yes--there WILL be another Giveaway!

You can click here to see the entries from the last party. Hope to see you there!
{Happy Thrifting!}

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Fun Friday

It's Friday!!

Okay, that doesn't really mean anything to me because I stay home all day with the girls in a neverending monotonouse stream of Fisher Price toys, Max & Ruby, sippy cups, and Goodnight Moon. But sometimes Mimi (my mom) brings pizza over for a little Friday night pizza party, and that breaks up the mind numbingly long afternoons. It's a nice surprise.

I love surprises.

This afternoon, I was suprised to see that Lacey from Lacey in Love featured me in her De-Funk Your Fashion Friday post.

I wrote Lacey once to tell her about my style slump. I spend so much time running around making sure that the girls look cute that there's not much time left over for me. My staple "let's run some errands go to preschool drop-off shopping breakfast at MOPS" look is a dark top paired with dark jeans. Add flip flops in the summer and some cute shoes in the winter. Lots of black...I want to vanish as much as possible.

My mom occassionally *helps* my slump by providing what she deems acceptable "Mommy-ware." Sometimes she'll find a cute piece, but I was once the recipient of a red (non-fitted!) t-shirt with a country quilted star on the front. To use Lacey's words, it looked "like it came from Cracker Barrel." I am twenty-faux, not seventy-faux!

Mom doesn't dress like this anymore since my sister and I forced her to giveaway all of her school teacher pinafore jumpers with the ABCs and teddy bears all over them, so I'm not sure why she thinks I'd appreciate a red t-shirt with a country quilted star on the front. Maybe she remembers other moms dressing this way in the 1980s when she was a young mom?? It's the thought that counts, right?

Well, the thought really counted today, because Lacey was so sweet to put together a Polyvore inspiration board for me. Here it is:

I love everything (!) here.
~The shoes are so cute, and so not something I would have picked out right away because again with the black. Be still my heart!
~J'adore the red top...just the right amount of girlieness and casual for a day around town.
~I dig the sparkes!! The red jewel ring is right up my alley, and the little owl cut out necklace is so unique. I could use a new necklace...don't have many left after the babies rip 'em off me. I also like the simplicity of the earrings.
~It's all in the bag! Cute cute cute handbag. This girl is brilliant. She must have subconsciously (or conscisouly??) known I love big bags. I have a lot of stuff that I tote around.

The only item that makes me nervous is the pair of jeans. Anyone else who is not a size 4 have a pair of skinny jeans? Do you think that a long top would provide some coverage for this Mama? Lacey also suggested some sexy cropped jeans because she is right, those shoes "need to be seen!" I have a hard time finding cropped jeans in a good length, but I am willing to look if I can't pull off the skinnies. Trust me, Amanda and "skinny" have not been together in a long, long time.

The BEST part about this board was that all of Lacey's selections were trés trés affordable! The amazing shoes are only $19 at I've never bought shoes online before, but I just may consider!

Thank you, thank you, Lacey for this sweet little pick-me-up on a Friday. One of my goals for this Fall needs to be putting more thought into the way I dress. I can do better than that black long-sleeved GAP turtleneck sweater!

If you've never been by Lacey's spot, please go and visit. Tell her I sent you. I love reading her blog because she is so much fun. I live vicariously through her pretty young single-chick's fun!

Makes me feel like dancing! But you don't want to see me dance, so I'll give you something else...

Because it's Friday, and I promised Xazmin, and it's my blog after all, I thought I'd leave you with this fun dance video from my favorite Summer show, So You Think You Can Dance. If you missed the fabulosity this summer, it starts up again with auditions at 8 pm (ET) on September 9th. This contemporary piece about two friends who have fallen in love was one of my favorites from this season. It's choreographed by Travis Wall, who some of you might remember as the dancer from the famous, Emmy winning "Bench" dance. The girl, Jeanine, ended up winning the competition. Enjoy!

{Happy weekend, sweet readers!}

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap {25}

*I apologize for the irregular fonts in this post. It seems that blogger truly hates me.

{Hooked On: Dressing 'Em in the Best for Less!}

To see what everyone else is "Hooked On" this week, please visit Julia
at Hooked on Houses. Julia is kind enough to allow other bloggers to link up and share what's making them smile each week. Thank you, Julia!

I've mentioned before that I love to dress my girls. I get lots of compliments on their cute outfits, and it's no secret that I am not afraid of shopping consignment sales. I don't have the money anymore to blow $45 on a size 18m sweater set that may or may not have grilled cheese mashed into it after only ten minutes on Michaela Byrd's body.

Never been to a consignment sale before? Don't be scared. It won't hurt. You can join me on this little tour today!

I should preface this post by saying that you could come by my house on any given day and see one of them dressed like this:

When she's not wearing Bob Mackie-inspired gowns, Natalie wears a wardrobe that comes from primarily one place, and that would be the greatest kids' consignment sale man (or mom) has ever seen!

Y'all know I don't reveal my hometown here on the blog for my family's sake, but if you are anywhere in the area from DC to Richmond, please email me and I will give you the details about this sale's site! For now, I'll refer to it as the WW sale, which is run by two fabulous ladies, V and P.

Because I am brilliant, I volunteer so that I can shop one hour earlier than all of the suckers consignors. In an even larger display of my brilliance, I coerced my mother-in-law to keep both girls so I could shop without hearing whiny, high-pitched voices begging me for toys and crackers.

This is what the line in front of me looked like when I arrived to wait for the doors to open for the "pre-sale." Not bad! It was held in an indoor athletic center this time. V and P put on the WW sale twice a year, in two locations each time. They must be exhausted. I'm exhausted, and all I did was shop!

Note: you know it's a good consignment sale when people bring wagons and rolling carts to store their loot in!

This is what the line behind me looked like. You can't see that it went all the way to the end of the building.

The WW sale is a big deal around here. I overheard people discussing their shopping "strategies" with others in line. The woman who #1 in line arrived two hours early so that she could get in first, run to the toy area and snag a castle play set. She knew that a couple a few feet away was also planning on purchasing the set, and there was no way she was going to let them have it.

This is hard core shopping, people! You could lose an arm or leg, so be prepared to be tough!

V and P came out to greet the public and give us some details on the sale before we would be allowed inside. There are video cameras and a bouncer this year to keep shoplifters at bay!

There were 3 indoor soccer fields FULL of merchandise! This is a shot of JUST the toy/shoe/book area. I've never seen so many light-up/spinning/noise-making baby toys all in one place. It made me feel a little twitchy just imagining all the noise that could be made.

Here's a view of all the strollers, high chairs, and bouncy seats. Reminds me of a Harley convention.

More strollers and all the outdoor toys.

This is my Mecca:

Since I don't look cute in anything anymore, I can just drool over the thousands of kids' clothes on this field!

Racks of clothes stretched on and on as far as the eye could see.

WW does an excellent job of organizing by sex and sizes. They make it very easy to spend money in there. T will thank them later, I am sure.

Zac Efron was there to greet me as I rounded the corner. He wanted to know if I wanted to star in High School Musical 7 with him. I turned him down because of my busy blogging schedule. I know he'll make some 12 year old girl very happy.
I wisely unpacked the double stroller from my car so I didn't have to drag my laundry basket around all over the field. This is what it looked like before I started sorting my purchases.

Let's talk prices and sorting. I always have a list of things I am looking for (winter dress coat for Natalie, some skirts for preschool, 18 m Fall clothes for Michaela Byrd), but I tend to wander aimlessly and just happen upon things. I bet this drives the frantic shopping ladies mad.

If I see something that I think is cute, I put it in my basket. There seemed to be a pretty high percentage of over-priced Gymboree outfits this time. I adore Gymboree clothes, but I am not willing to pay $25 for someone's used jeans and turtleneck. I didn't even bother picking those up.

It pained me, pained me to put a $25 dollar red wool Rothschild dress coat back on the rack. It was such a steal, but I couldn't justify the price because I knew it would be way too big for Natalie this year (and maybe next!).

Check-out was as simple and easy as it gets. Many people were still shopping when I was finished, so I had ZERO wait time. WW is as good as it gets when it comes to organization. They have benches for people who have to wait, and a maze of roped off lines to meander through to get to check out.

Some beautiful sponsors' tables to check out:
I would have liked to get better shots, but the lady behind me didn't seem too pleased that I stopped to get this one. Guess she's never heard of anyone blogging a consignment sale before, huh?

Here's my loot on the sorting table. A worker removes each tag and then counts to make sure the number of items and tags match up. Simple and fast.

On to check out! The neat thing about volunteering is recognizing other workers at each sale. This lovely lady was behind me in line at the Spring sale, and we recognized each other. She made my check-out a breeze!

What did I get???

~A bag full of Fisher Price Sweet Streets toys. It contained the school, the dance studio, and a few other things. It's very small, and the people are Polly-Pocket sized. I might clean it up and put it under the Christmas tree for Natalie. At 4, I highly doubt she will look at it and deem in unworthy because it came from a consignment sale.

~A Melissa and Doug Responsibility Chart for Natalie's birthday. She's actually been asking me for a sticker chart. This one has magnets!

Check out all the neat magnets!

A large, hard cover volume of Beatrix Pottery (my favorite!) stories. The girls will love this.

~Preschool dresses.

Love the detail of the squirrel and the school house on the smocking. Looks very Autumnish to me.

~More preschool dresses

~Scottie dog jumper and Christmas sweater/skirt set.

Isn't it the sweetest?

~Three 18 m sized outfits for Michaela Byrd. Most of the hand-me-downs from Natalie are 24 m, so she needs a few smaller things

Don't you love it?

How can I resist stuff with birds on it for a child whose middle name is Byrd?!

~Carter's rain boots for Natalie, who promptly tried them on as soon as I took them out of the basket at home.
Wasn't that fun? Hope I eased your fears about consignment sales!

Repeat: I do not have to spend $98 on a dress at Janie and Jack for my child to look presentable!

Hit the nearest consignment sale (WW for me!) and find that dress for a fraction of the price.

Hope you're hooked like me!
{Happy Shopping!}

Note: I did not receive any financial or material compensation from the WW sale for this post. I wanted to show how much fun these sales can be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

DIY: Drab to Fab Deck

Today is DIY day at Kimba's A Soft Place to Land! If you enjoy reading about projects that other bloggers have going on, this is the party for you. Kimba hosts it each week, so be sure to check her out!

I've been meaning to share our new deck with you. It is definitely a DIY project, and a work in progress. Lots of pictures today!

I'd love to be able snap my fingers, write unlimited checks, and make my "dream yard" a fast reality, but instead I'll be honest and say that it won't be happening like that any time soon. For now, I'll settle for a spot that we can eat and play with family and friends and maybe grow a few tomatoes while we're at it!

We've been planning on getting a deck put up for three or four years now, but other things (babies, diapers, doctor's bills, etc.) kept getting in the way. Several months ago, I reminded T that my sister's bridal shower would be the first weekend in August.

"Do you think you could have a deck up by then?" I asked. "I'd like to be able to have the ladies outside for games."

"Uh huh. Sure." he replied, his eyes glued to Fox News.

We repeated this conversation several more times until it was two weeks before the shower and the only thing outside my Kitchen window was a red wagon collecting rain water.

"Um, sister's shower is August 1st." I reminded him. "When were you planning on getting the deck up?"

"What?!" He was shocked. "You didn't tell me it was in August!"

Then I said some other things....

T gallantly scrambled to get a rag-tag work crew together, consisting of his dad, his brothers, and three family friends. They were promised, pizza, drinks, and the entertaining company of a three year old and 18 month old.

It pains me to post this, but here is a "Before" shot of the back of our house, last summer before the addition:

I promise we're not white trash...that board up against the house was there while we waited for the contractor to begin the addition last summer. We had some flooding in the crawl space, and needed a "quick fix" for a few days.

The "platform" to the left was what the original house listing referred to as a deck. The "deck" was sloping, falling apart, and had some loose boards. Not conducive to entertaining. You could fit two preschoolers and some animal crackers on that nasty set of boards.

Pretty blah, huh?

Sometime I'll do a post on the addition, but this is what the back of the house looked like just before our "crew" started work:

You can see the addition to the left of the Kitchen window. T blocked off three days over a long weekend to complete his work. Our budget was a small sum of money in an account we'd just been sitting on. It was now or never to get this deck done!

Mr. Lenny, as Natalie calls him, brought some very official looking equipment. I played with it when he wasn't looking.

The foreman, or Foregirl, as she prefers to be called, arrived late but made sure the job went smoothly. She was a harsh task master, only allowing the workers to take short sippy cup breaks when they felt faint from the heat. Here, she inspects a beam to be sure it is level.

Several truck loads of lumber later....

...and the guys had a grid set up.

T did a lot of research to find a deck plan that would work for us. We couldn't afford anything fancy, but still needed something safe and sturdy. Natalie took great delight in pretending to walk a balance beam on the planks.

Uncle Mike took a quick break to have a tea party in the play house. Natalie likes to serve scones that look suspiciously like the sticks from the oak tree. The Foregirl caught him in there. You can see her giving him a real tongue-lashing.

Voila! Finished product!

It's basically a long platform with a step that goes all the way around it. I love it!

The guys finished the top all in one day, and knocked the step out on Saturday morning. I was so proud of their hard work. My mom (Mimi) and T's mom helped us celebrate by putting together a lunch for the guys.

Miraculously, there was money in the budget for a grill, but we weren't able to pick out a table and chairs. For now, T's parents are letting us borrow their patio set, and my mom lent us her umbrella.

Here's my yard sale, pre-lit faux ficus tree that needs to be moved to a new pot. For now, it's sitting in the corner, waiting for the MOPS party to be scheduled.

The girl's love it out here!

The picnic table I stole from the icky house next door sits in our yard, and I ran some leftover burlap down the center when we had family over for an impromptu grill-out.

The deck is a great place to run the bubble machine!

If we run out of seating, the step makes a good spot. At some point, we'll probably add a bench (or maybe a pergola?) to one side, but the step is good for now. My brother, Jamie, and his wife, "SuSu" are hoping T gets the grill heated up soon.

Our friend, Tracy, was in town to see my sister. She and Michaela Byrd got to hang out. Don't you love her sunglasses?

Order up! Leave it to T to figure out a way to do less work. Rather than walk three steps (okay, maybe four) to the door, he figured out that he can just pass things back and forth through the window. I felt like I should be working at Mel's Diner.

Nothing can separate a man and his grill.

These two have their own little table. I love how they like to sit next to each other.

My sister, Jamie, and SuSu all enjoyed dinner, simple as it was.

Does it get any better than hamburgers on the grill with fresh tomato and lettuce, some potato salad, a pickle, and a Coke? I especially like the snowflake pattern paper plate. Sorry, y'all...we ran out!!!

Thanks for reading along about our little transformation. This was really T's DIY project, but he doesn't have a blog! There is a LOT left to do to "prettify" the space (like rigging something up to cover the utility boxes), but I'm just happy to be able to sit and watch my girls play.

{Would love to have you join me on the deck for a drink and a chat!}

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