Friday, March 29, 2013

bennetts back to basics...

it's been an incredibly busy last few months (which i feel like i say all the time on here)... among other things, we took a vacation with some dear friends, i had galbladder surgery, we had a three part family christmas, a new year's party, work got crazy stressful and i hated it, then it got better and i loved it, and i launched my etsy shop!  as much as i'd like to say i'll be updating you about all of those things, i think it's better that i just move forward instead of trying to recap the last five months.  today's post is a bit long and there aren't any pictures, but over the past few months i've had time to reflect and there are some big changes coming, i can feel it coming!

not long after my dad passed away last May, i realized that there are so many things i/we take for granted just because they seem like 'normal' things to have... from big things like an affordable home, good jobs, amazing friends and family to the completely unnecessary things like a big-screen tv, laptops, and nice vehicles.  we even have an abundance of food and clothing, and our relative health (minus a gallbladder issue i had last fall and jhubs' recent cold, we're pretty healthy people).  while my dad was sick, my sister's family and we were blessed to be able to help out by taking meals over, running errands, doing a bit of work on their house to make it easier for dad and even help mom after he passed.  at the time it was a no-brainer, you give what you can, help where you can, step up and do what it takes but, afterwards, i realized how incredibly blessed we are to  have been able to do it and how thankful that i am that our parents raised us to be the kind of people that help other people.

looking back on my childhood, i really didn't understand how hard my parents were working to keep a roof over our heads and food in the refrigerator.  i think that part of the reason i never realized it was because my parents seemed to be the people that were always helping out other people instead of the ones getting the help.  my parents started out their marriage in a very small, subsidized apartment with a seven year old daughter and within a couple of years they had me.  they were making very little money but they were doing the best they could in the early 1980's.  they still managed to make sure that my sister and i had food, clothes, a warm bed to sleep in and lots of love.  i do remember times when we couldn't have a friend stay for dinner because there wasn't enough food to squeeze out another plateful but usually, if someone needed a meal, they were welcome at our table. because my dad could sew, he was constantly doing repairs, minor tailoring or adjustments for friends and family but always refused to be paid for his work with anything other than cookies or a hearty hand-shake.  there would be times that, as a family, we would spend the weekend helping friends with home repairs, or volunteering for our church and by the end of the day be so exhausted that the thought of 'nothing sounds good so lets just go out for dinner' was on everyone's mind but because they couldn't afford it, it wasn't an option, we had to make do with whatever we pull together from the fridge and pantry, even if we were a few days past needing to get groceries.  as hard as they worked for everything they had, the call to help those in need wasn't lost on them and i want to keep that as a focus for my family once we have children.

don't get me wrong, we do help our friends and family when we can and we help with events at church but we've been lacking in the discipline to really do more with less, we're doing more with more in a sense.  we've gotten too used to stopping on the way home for fast-food or buying whatever toys/gadgets/electronics we want, spending way too much time, money and energy on things that don't really matter because of our 'first world problems'.  the way to get us back on track, i think, is my back-to-basics project.

i read a blog post the other day about a family that does a debt-free month (at least i think that's what they called it) where they basically use up everything they have, de-clutter the house and reevaluate their budget to get themselves back on track and had a total lightbulb moment, the project.  There are just a few basic steps:

1.) inventory what we have in the fridge/freezer/cupboards/etc and use up as much of it without having to purchase more than the bare minimum.

2.) pick one room/area a week and spend lots of time deep cleaning, organizing, purging and focusing on just that room

3.) cut down our budget on everything and try to spend as little money as possible while, inversely, saving as much as possible to pay off that last bit of credit card debt and recharge our savings account plus start a discretionary fund for donating to those in need

4.) reconnect with each other by doing things other than watching tv every night; make use of our extensive game collection, pool table, and tackle the projects on our to-do list that we have all of the supplies for but haven't had the time to do them

that's it, really just getting ourselves back on track and trying to live a bit cleaner, happier, healthier.  once we've changed the way we live, we'll be able to put our priorities back in order and focus on the bigger picture.  if you want to join us on this wild ride, be sure to check back next saturday (april 6th) to see what we managed to get done.  i think we're going to start in the kitchen!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

its a thrift shop sort of day...

when my very favorite bloggers, John & Sherry Petersik of Young House Love, offered up their (Completely Unofficial) Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge last Friday, i knew it was the perfect excuse to get back to blogging!  if you somehow missed all of the attention macklemore is getting for 'thrift shop', here's the clean radio edit, (i'd still keep the kiddos out of the room though because the language is pretty easy to decipher)

THRIFT SHOP (PG Radio Edit Clean version) - MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS FEAT. WANZ from Garrett Wesley Gibbons on Vimeo.

my bestie brenza and i had gone on a thrifting binge earlier last week but had to cut our trip short so finishing up today was perfect timing for the challenge.  we went to a local flea-market/garage-sale/antique-mall-esque store called Hart City Supercenter that we love to hit up for totally random items and some really good bargains.  the whole store is set up in booths with different vendors renting each booth so i knew we'd have the most luck and the best variety of random things.  to get started we knew we had to obey the completely unofficial challenge's three rules:

Step #1. Go to a thrift shop with – just as the chorus of the song says – “$20 in your pocket”and take a picture. 

so here's the $20 in my pocket, first rule, check!

Step #2. Spend that $20 any way you’d like and photograph your spoils.

 I figured I'd start with what we didn't buy since the non-spoils are usually the best part of thrifting... brenza said this wedding gown wasn't exactly her style

we where hoping that jhubs would be excited about this vintage silk smoking jacket, but it was $110 so rule two, not-check

the fish in a dress should definitely have come home with us, but at $5 it was a little pricey for a gag-gift in a $20 challenge

we were LOVING this vintage Super 8 video camera for our good friend chris but since the marine corps is getting ready to send him to japan we figured he didn't need anything else to stick in his storage space :(

and these shoes were just plain hilarious, totally the wrong size for both of us

as for what we did buy, i of course had to get some vintage canning jars since i'm totally obsessed... this by far my favorite, its for Jumbo Peanut Butter and has an elephant on it!  the 5 jars were $14

this awesome four-strand pearl necklace that we'll later use to wrap the stems of brenza's wedding bouquet and it was only $3

and brenza got 15 of these awesome (and much needed) drinking glasses for just $3 (our best find of the day!)

after leaving Hart City, totally on a thrifting-high we went to one of our local Goodwill stores and, sadly, didn't find much of anything until we were ready to leave and spotted one, lone glass, that totally matched the others putting us $1 over our $20 budget but it did give brenza a matching set of 16 for only $4, totally worth it...

to see what the other participators found, check out the linky party post here.  thanks John & Sherry for the awesome challenge, we'd love to do it again!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

a quick christmas project...

i have a problem... i like to buy my christmas gifts all year long and then, i forget about them... not all of them,  mind you, i usually go though and figure out what i've got this time of year so i can make my black friday shopping list.  every year though, there are a few things i realize i've missed, or i know i bought and i can't find, or a few things i find as i'm putting away my decorations.  to hopefully combat that though, i've created this nifty list.  so nifty, in fact, i'll let you download the .pdf and print it for yourself!

inventory sheet front
inventory sheet back

the plan is to go through all of my gift storage and keep each person's haul listed together in each box... in fact, for my own personal sheet i added each person's name as a sort-of watermark on each box, super simple! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

farmhouse glam with a touch of urban funk...

quick post just because i need to share.

i took the homegoods stylescope quiz after the fine folks at young house love linked up to it and found out that my style is apparently 'farmhouse glam' with a touch of 'urban funk' which, surprisingly, sounds about right... it definitely gives me a good direction to head in while revamping our very beige living room.  i'm so ready to start playing with more color in here.  i feel like we started so well with our new gallery wall (which yes, is still in progress but getting much closer to finished) but now i'm stuck trying to find ways to bring in lots of teal & turquoise and maybe even some orange for fall. i guess we'll see!  in the mean time, head on over to the homegoods stylescope quiz and see what you are!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

take a seat...

in an effort to keep making positive changes around the exterior of our house i mentioned here, i really wanted some chairs for our front porch.  i've been lusting after these adirondack chair kits at Home Depot but they were around $50 the last time i was looking at them and, as much and i LOVE adirondack chairs and REALLY wanted them for our front porch, i couldn't stand paying that much per unfinished, some-assembly-required, chair.  much to my amazement while i was buying flowers they were marked down to $23 each... less than $50 for TWO CHAIRS!  oh, sorry for shouting :)  

so, what's a girl to do? buy the chairs and rush home to assemble them of course!  jhubs wasn't up to the perceived work since he's usually the point person for assembling everything so we waited until the next day when we got a pleasant surprise... can you tell that they look mostly assembled coming out of the box? that's right, the seat and back slats came already assembled!!!

they're remarkably easy to finish.  you attach the seat supports/front legs to one cross support and then put the seat assembly in...

then attach the back side supports to the seat assembly

attach one cross/back support to the back side supports and screw down the back rest... then attach the arms

in about 20 minutes you can have one chair and in about 35 you get 2!

it took more debate to pick out the stain since i wanted them to coordinate with our front deck but the redwood was the front-runner, it was more about picking between transparent stain and paint

stain was definitely the way to go though and they look great.  we're going to give them one more coat before they hit the porch just to make sure they're good and sealed since they were completely unfinished and we plan to leave them out for most of the year.  once they have the final coat i'll be sure to post.

on a side note, we love these chairs so much i went back and bought 4 more for our back patio.  in case you were wondering, we bought the full gallon of stain (way more than necessary for this project) so that we can re-stain all of our outdoor furniture (two benches you can see on the patio in the initial sprucing up post) and the 8-person picnic table jhubs made for one of the first july 4th parties we had.  more on that to come!

Monday, July 23, 2012

going to the gallery...

another project co-inspired by YHL, our friends that love custom personal art and of course Pinterest that i've been meaning to finish lately is to turn the long wall in our living room into a gallery wall that holds more than just photos.  i love to take pictures of our friends and family and i love to be surrounded by photos old and new (which i mentioned a few posts back) but sometimes the best memories are held in mementos from the trip and those often get tossed in a box or drawer.  in an effort to declutter and not hold onto every bit of paper or postcard purchased i've been working on ways to display those things.  the gallery way is a great rotating display of these places and things.

i started by purchasing prints from some of the artists i've been lusting after on etsy.  from inkofme i bought their teal & white world map made from the name of each country, from StudioSRV  a colorful doberman print looked just like my silly girl, ParadaCreations was gracious enough to make a custom i-heart-chicago print even though that city hadn't been added to her collection yet.   

of course i've been getting some pinspiration for things i wanted to DIY for months too, like the number print containing our important dates, a photo-strip of sorts i created from our new year's photo outtakes and i had postcards and a few odds and ends i wanted to include with some photos taken at our church's fall festival (which i still hadn't put in the frame before snapping this pic.)  i had also purchased a vintage-looking travel poster while i was in A2, the poster from a band we went to see and then stumbled along this beautiful and bright windmill print from Laura Amiss to round out the collection.

as for hanging all of the frames i first layed them out on some brown kraft paper to make an arrangement i liked, started by hanging the large vertical frame and moved my way left and right from there and using the LAR (looks about right) method to figure out where each nail should go.  if you're nervous about that method you can definitely handle YHL's method.  

its funny to me how the wall still looks so empty in photos even though the majority of the prints are 8x10s & 5x7s.

i do have a few small frames to find things to fill that i found in the dollar bin at michaels, which will most likely get filled with the smaller momentos from our daily life like bottle caps and cigar bands.  

the jhubs has recently fallen back in like with smoking cigars on cool summer nights and the band artwork is a special bonus, i'm amazed at the work that goes into such a small detail.  i'll be back with a project showing  the main way we're displaying our growing collection of bands and other small reminders of big fun!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

sprucing it up...

even though we had a few weeks of 90+ degree temps outside i've actually gotten out and spruced up our yard, partially inspired on all of the deck and yard work going on at Young House Love, the way they've transformed their curb appeal over the last year has gotten me excited to make some changes here at home... do you remember when jhubs put in a cute patio for me on our anniversary? i don't think i ever posted the finished product so here's where we pretty much left it three years ago

then last year jhubs removed quite a bit of grass and put down mulch to give our yard a more finished look, and give me a place to plant flowers if i ever decided to... which would be now i guess, the yard is just starting to green back up after the days of 100 degree temps nearly killed it all. the bench is super shadowy in this photo but i'm really happy with how it's shaping up..

we bought five of these beauties, balloon flowers (also called Chinese moon flowers) which i love, they're supposed to come back every year, fill in and bloom for quite a long time.

the mulched area continues along the side of the house and to the front walkway where i've also planted quite a bit and added new solar walkway lights (thanks for having them on sale Target!) and put out two begonias for some color out front. 

all of the changes on this side of the house make me want to keep going and work on the look from the street but some of the big blank areas make me nervous... suggestions for that wall of white between the porch and the guest bedroom windows?