Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tree advent calendar

Telluride Advent Calendar

Pottery Barn Advent Calendar Tree

I'm going to be a copycat!  I have been staring at this cute advent calendar Christmas Tree at Pottery Barn for waaaaaayyyy tooooo long!  It's time I just went and made one. After all, I've taken 6 years plus 3 summer school sessions of sewing all the way to tailoring in college. I surely need to not let my sewing skills die on the vine.

I'm on my way to Joanne's Crafts to pick up some cute Christmas material and embellishments. Next post....my TREE!  Now I just need to get into the mood to put up my REAL tree!  Does anybody wanna come over and help me?  Geesh.  I need some Christmas spirit.....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Backyard Garden

We have seriously neglected our backyard for the last few years. We were busy remodeling a kitchen and basement and bedrooms last year and the previous years. We had to redo floors and paint walls and remodel in the summer. So somethings gotta give, right? Yeah, it was the backyard. I just ignored it and let it grow wild!

Seriously neglected backyard terraces

Terraced  gardens  & grapevines...what a "before" mess! 
Much better Backyard gardens "after" all the work....
The backyard stairs were done about 5 years ago with flagstone. They looked really good the first year, but after that all kinds of stuff grew all around and in between the rocks and it looked awful.

We added Solar Fence Post Caps in copper...they light up at night...super COOL
Then the neighbor's cement fence post fell on it. He was going through some financial woes, so we knew he couldn't pay to have it fixed. Murphy's Law. I knew there would be a reckoning day where from neglect we'd have to do all that WEEDING! And fixing! Oh CRAP! Do I HATE yard work? Yes, I do.
This is definitely the before flagstone steps picture!

Not perfect....but definitely an improved "after" picture....
So anyway THIS was the year we had to do it. Soooooo,  we started on the middle terrace and pulled all the weeds and roto-tilled it, and added some soil amendment to it. Then we started our summer garden after all the snow in May melted. We had snow until the end of May! We had a very late start to Spring this year!
gardening stuff


yEllOw sQuAsH...

GREEN zucchini

First Fruits (and veggies) of the harvest...
 We planted tomatoes, squash, zucchini, bell peppers in green and yellow, onions, and beans.  Oh and the radishes my class did, I brought one home and replanted it.  John got out all his tomato cages from the garage. And of course we had to fix like a GAZILLION sprinklers! What is up with those constantly breaking sprinkler heads? Don't love those things.

We had put in lots of fruit trees years back and they are finally starting to produce....not lots of stuff mind you...maybe a dozen fruits per tree....but it's yummy and very fascinating to watch those trees just do their "thang".

We also have an apple tree, a peach and nectarine tree and an apricot tree.  None of them ever have done really well except the apple.  I think our soil is just too sandy.  We have a pond in the backyard too and it looked just dreadful and it was clogged and yucky.  So we had to redo that too.  And neither one of us are "garden" people.

Ya gotta have some wind chimes.....
 We are lazy weeders.  I just want it to look good and I want to have fresh veggies...... and beautiful things everywhere....but I don't want to worry about it! I don't ask for much do I?

Lilly pads in our backyard pond....and we add 30 goldfish too....There are about 7 left....but they are BIG now!

We added flowers under the deck for he first time too...

The hydrangeas should do well in all the shade that is there...

The garden looks a WHOLE lot better here in the after picture... we've got tomatoes too! 
We repainted the deck. It was quite a sight! We used that new RESTORE paint.

Johnny painting the deck after I pressure washed it...what a stud!
Here's how it looks now....its fun to go out and BBQ again! Woopie!
Here's the other end of the deck where we hang out to tan. My doggie Bruce likes to hang in the shade with us.  We filled a cooler with cokes and it's fun to  read in the lounger.....oh yeah....the life of the summer-off teacher....LOL

I got some tiny chairs for my 3 grand kiddos too... when they come over...

 We fixed up a place down by the jacuzzi for seating too.  It's suddenly become a fun place to hang out again!
Under the deck by the jacuzzi...colored green and blue motion-detection
lighting at night made it more inviting!
looking up from lower yard to the terraces and apple tree....

lower yard...a fun place to lay out and tan....

It's fun to see pay dirt on all our hard work....now it's fun to go outside again!
I think we figured out the secret....just to do a little bit every few days...it was discouraging at first....but seeing it get better over time...(and still a ways to go) has been very rewarding.  And maybe...just maybe I'm not such a black thumb after all!

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Find Great Deals!

My sister-in-law and my husband both told me I should blog about some of the great deals I've found lately. I am a real "hunter" gatherer when I shop. I have all my fav places and I know where the clearance section is in the store for each department. 

Let's start with Kohls.  What they are really good for is linens, bedding, seasonal gifts and baby clothes.  There is a clearance section (usually 60% off or more) in the middle of the linens section you should always check out. I've gotten queen sized complete bed sets with dust ruffle, shams, sheets and comforters for $40 that are very pretty.
GREAT DEALS! Lamp$15,  from T.J. Max, comforter set Kohls $40.00 and the rocker was $25.00 from Walmart after the summer clearance on outdoor furniture. It's a porch rocker! Headboard and dresser are from R. C. Willey Clearance Center $60 for the headboard, I think $125 for the dresser. R.C. Willey clearance center.
They also have good deals on candles and seasonal decs. I usually go look in  back of the rug section against the wall and they will have a clearance section of picture frames, candles, seasonal decorations and you can get things for $1.50 to $7.00 and it can be the perfect little addition to a wall at home or a corner area that just needs something.
GREAT DEALS! These Easter candy dishes I got a year ahead after the season for my daughters in law and daughter 75% off and with a coupon at Kohls.  Check out the seasonal clearance area after every holiday!
 I always find a really good deal on baby clothes on the clearance rack, especially after a holiday. I can get them the same shirt in 3 sizes for my 3 granddaughters the days after Halloween or Easter and then the following year give that for a gift in the correct size. Kmart has deals too on jammies, dresses and things like purses and hats and umbrellas. I got these matching Dora umbrellas after the rainy season a year ahead for just a few bucks and then gave them as Easter gifts the following year.  I think they were $2.00 each. The Easter dresses from T.J. Max were $5.00.
Toy GREAT DEALS I always find at Kohls, Kmart.

Can you believe these dresses were $5.00 each? T.J. Max after Easter Sale.
 It is sometimes hard to guess how big they will be in a year's time though. But I save so much money. I've gotten darling dresses, shirts, beach hoodie towels, costumes, coats and jammies for a few bucks and saved 90% especially when I have a coupon. And who doesn't like to have matching cousin shirts and dresses for a picture opportunity?
I got these matching sets  on a baby clothes sale at Kmart....very good baby clothes deals...
I had my daughter make matching hair bows...so cute!
And on the days they give out $10.00 in Kohl's cash for every $50 you spend? I get $20 to $30 to buy something for myself the next week! Very cool! Get on their credit card, but always pay your whole bill every month. They'll send you a 30% off coupon almost every other month.

I LOVE place mats. I have a selection of place mats for every holiday and 3
sets for Christmas. I am continually updating them. My fav place is Kohls for place mats.  Here are some cute pics of seasonal ones I've bought AFTER the holiday for like $1.00 to $1.50 each.

Easter decs and place mats...Hobby Lobby GREAT DEALS!
 good after the holiday  with a 40% off coupon!
It makes my holiday table to have cute place mats and cute runners.  The runners go fast so I usually use my 30% off coupon on a day that the runners are on 50% off. (quite often!) I shop Hobby Lobby for seasonal decs too.  I get a real good deal that way at the beginning of the season if I want the very best selection.
End tables($59) T.J. Max, Bedding in a set w/pillows $40 bucks!
 Beds we got at R.C. Willey Clearance Center. I think this dark wood set was $90.00. I always go there first. These dining room chairs were $59 each and they gave us a 15% discount because I asked the salesman if he could sweeten the deal. They always do!
These leather and fabric chairs were around $50 bucks at R. C. Willey Clearance Center.
For outdoor furniture and lighting and rugs I like Lowes.  Rugs and lighting I find at Lowes for a fraction of what I'd pay elsewhere.  I just got a 5 x 7 light green remnant rug for a bedroom for $25.00. And the quality of carpet is very nice.

At Lowes these adirondack chairs were $10 bucks at summer's end and the umbrella from Kmart was only $9.00.
The placemats, candle and an outdoor pillow from Walmart were very inexpensive too. 

We had our eye on these copper solar end caps for our deck but waited till summer's end when they all went on sale. Then we bought up the batch and put them on all our deck posts. 

I've gotten all my bathroom rugs and draperies at a great deal at T. J. Max. They always have draperies at $10.00 a panel that are very rich looking with metal accents. Bathroom rugs you can get for $7 to $9 that are very unusual and nice quality and an amazing variety of styles. I bought all my Bear Lake cabin rugs there and they are all unusual and beautiful.

And Target in the back on the end caps in the linens area, lots of times has clearance things where you get the deal of the century. But the key is you have to frequent these places once or twice a month to get the deal. They are gone fast. I've found sheets and mattress pads and curtains and nice decorator pillows for $5 after the season there.
I found the cute fuzzy blue butterfly chair on overstock.com for $24.00 to go with this "Target college dorm" bedding ($9.00 for each quilt). Pretty lamp to match I found at T.J. Max for 20 bucks! It's so pretty when lighted up the brown and blue design shows through.
I've decorated my Bear Lake Cabin with Target and T.J. Max and the bedroom comforter sets were $9.00 and the sheet sets were $5.00. Nicer 400 count sheet sets I found for $18.00 end of summer at Walmart. You just may have to go to several Targets or Walmarts to get all your things matching.
 The "college dorm" stuff goes on clearance end of July or August. Look for lots of deals on bedding at Target then.

Beautiful rug was from Bed, Bath & Beyond for like $75 and I had a 25% off coupon so it was much less. Couches on clearance from Costco. But we had to go to 3 different Costcos to find a matching set. 
Shop in September at Costco for couches and big bookcases and things
when they mark big furniture pieces down. We bought these at the very end of September for a little over $400 each for LEATHER! Coffee and end tables were less than $120 at R.C. Wiley Clearance Center on 90th and Redwood Road. Always ask for a further discount. I always get it.  Check out Costco if you need new big furniture pieces.
I go to Lowe's for all my lighting.  They have stuff on clearance in every type of lighting all year round. I also love Lowes for outdoor furnishings, mirrors and all of our floor and wall tiles. We always find mirrors there for 40 to 60% off. Just check out the clearance mirrors, the selection there is fantastic. I also get coupons periodically if I spend $50 I get $10 off so wait for big purchases to use with a coupon.
 Even our jet skis and quads we bought on KSL used and looked and looked for weeks before we got each and every one. We ended up finding a guy who had 3 on a triple trailer with life vests for $2000. We've upgraded several times since but we enjoyed that original purchase for about 2 years before any upgrades. Our kids have seen the great deals we've gotten on Craig's List and KSL and they all do it too.

T.J. Max has good small mirrors too. I have found cute ones for bedrooms or bathrooms for $15.00!  Occasionally I've found lamp "sets" at Shopko for a great deal, (floor lamp and 2 end table lamps for (35 bucks).  I also love the leather chair and ottoman combo they have there for $250. I've bought 2 sets.

Lowes mirror was less than $20 bucks.

One of the secrets of shopping like a bloodhound is knowing about how much things cost on average before you can recognize a deal. If you know lamps you want go for around $40.00 after looking online for the style you like,
 then when you see one for less than $20 you know you are getting a good deal if you do really like them. I just found some to replace my mismatched ones in the master light blue bedroom above on a great deal at Lowes; $9.00! And these beautiful brown decorative stitched shades were $5.00.
Lowes ceiling fans were bought end of the season I think in September. They were
 $89.00 regular $260 so we got 2 for our great room ceiling.
Same go for ceiling fans. My husband will show me one that he likes for $200.00 and I'll tell him, "lets wait till August when they all go on clearance and we'll see this same one for $89.00 or maybe less."

 I saw a cute outdoor fan that would have been perfect for this year's deck redo that I could have picked up last summer for $75.00  and I let it get away. I just had reached my spending limit. But you can imagine I wish I'd grabbed it this year now that all the outdoor ones are back up to $150 or more. 

John has this one in his office. It was a clearance lamp at Costco, I think it was $60.
Also, go online and type into google what you'd like to buy. Then click on "images" to get a good idea of everything that's out there. Then if you want to know the website the image came from click on that image. You can get educated on all the ins and outs of that item, the low and high prices for it, and how people have decorated with it. 

I got the table for $5.00 at Ikea, regular $20.  the chairs for $9.00 at Target.
We use them for extra seating at holiday dinners. I made the cute Stop sign out of scrap chalkboard wood.  

Bed was from KSL used. We just washed it off and got new mattresses and bedding for it.

The funny thing on this grandkid bedroom is I bought the pictures and "cars" bedding before I knew I was having girls! And I had 3 granddaughters! Too funny. I had so many boys I guess I just assumed I'd have grandsons! But the girls love this room. I'll post more about it later. I'm finishing a giant chalkboard to match. I made the Stop sign out of the remnant chalkboard wood.
Ikea is also good for some things...these cute curtains...the 1, 2 3 boxes both were less than $10.00. This is the grandkids bunkbed room. I got a red metal bunk for $50 on KSL, another good source for used stuff, if you like redoing or repainting.

This is especially helpful if you are remodeling like we've been for the past 3 years. Then go online and peruse Target, Kohls, R.C. Willey and Lowes and see if what you like is on sale. Then go shopping with a clear idea of what you are looking for. You'll find deals here and there if you are willing to wait.



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