Monday, April 30, 2012

My favorite girl has a favorite things birthday party!



This past week, my sweet freckle faced girl turned 10.

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We celebrated with a Favorite Things themed birthday party.
By the time most kids hit double digits, they have a few favorite things.
Here are some of Isabella's.

*fancy dresses
*steak
*our dog Sophie
*chocolate
*friends
*dressing up
*friends
*tulips and daffodils
*friends
*lotions and perfume
*spa days

With those things in mind, we decided to combine as many of Isabella's favorite things as we could.
I sent out the invitations requesting that the girls dress for a semi-formal dinner celebration.

I made an appointment for Isabella and one of her best friends to get manicures and pedicures before the party.  We came home after our girl time at the spa and did updo's and got on our fancy dresses.




The table was set with personalized place cards for each girl



and a favorite things list that would help spark conversation during dinner.


We visited the tulip farm the day before and picked up bunches and bunches of fresh flowers.


Isabella knew she wanted goody bags filled with her favorite things.
Each bag was different, but most were filled with some lotion or perfume from Bath and Body Works, special at home spa treatments, or Target gift cards.  Each bag had lots of chocolate in it, since that is the birthday girls favorite treat!



You can't have a birthday without a banner.
I made this one with circles cut out on my Silhouette machine, decorated with glitter and mounted on (you will never guess!) coffee filters!



Dinner was served by the handsome young men in our family.

To finish out the night, we borrowed a chocolate fountain from some friends and had lots of goodies prepared for dessert.
This birthday girls favorite!

We had a chance to celebrate with friends, family and with our puppy dog.
All of her favorite things in one spot.
What more could you ask for?!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Garage Sale Finds Friday


Welcome to another week of Garage Sale Finds Friday.
Where I share with you my favorite finds from this weeks garage sales.

First up, these cedar boards.
Some are distressed, some are new, but I love the possibilities of what I can do with these.
I picked this whole pile up for $5.


You know how much I love making signs with my Silhouette machine. 


I knew I could do something with the boards.
I have been wanting to make a large ruler for our home instead of marking the kids heights on the wall.
The cedar boards would be perfect for this project.


I also picked up 7 of these pre cut boards that were made for making signs.
They even have hangers already placed on the back.
I paid $5 for all of them.



I could make this
or this
or this

Holy cow, the possibilities are endless.
What did you find this week?


Updating your room in a snap! My kind of DIY

This post brought to you by Leviton. All opinions are 100% mine.
Before we closed on our house I had a friend ask me what the one thing was that I loved most about our new home.
My reply...
The automatic light switches in the master bedroom.
The occupancy sensors (the technical term) are in our master bathroom (on a dimmer) and in my master closet.
I love them.
I mean, who can be bothered to turn on a light?
Not me!
Guess who makes this genius invention?
Leviton
You need at least one in your house, trust me.
You can find out more about the switches here.
A few weeks ago, I saw my favorite TV personality, Nate Burkus (love him!), talking about these Renu snap on light switches and thought they were genius.  Seriously, this Leviton company knows what they are doing!
Renu<sup>®</sup> > Brands > Solutions from Leviton Web Site
Any designer will tell you that color is the best way to update a room.
Our home has several accent walls.
An accent wall is designed to do just that, accent. 
You don't want anything distracting from the impact of the color you are using and the statement you are trying to make, which is why I love this new Renu product collection. 
Let me show you the accent walls in my house.
This is the accent wall in my living room by the fire place.
The fire place is supposed to be the focal point in a room.
Know what's the focal point in this room?
Yep, the outlet.
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This is our dining room.
While one of the outlets is hidden in the wainscoting, the light switches are totally obvious.
The switches are competing with the art I spent so much time selecting to match the color scheme of the room.
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Renu has 20 different colors hand picked by designers to match or complement any color palate.
Leviton Image.png
For my living room, I would choose Prairie Sage.  The color matches perfectly with the accent wall.
For my dining room, I would go with a complementary switch in Walnut Bark. 
Know what the best part about the Renu switches, wall plates, and dimmers are?
They are so easy to install.
They literally just snap on and off.
You can easily clean the switches or change them to a different color depending on your mood.
It's as easy as that!
Your light switch is now a home decorating accessory!
Want to know more about the Leviton's products?
Make sure you "like" Leviton on Facebook so that you get all the latest news and updates.
Leviton is also hosting several upcoming twitter parties.
The next twitter party is on Thursday, April 26 at 9pm EST
or on Wednesday, May 2nd at 9pm EST
Just follow @Leviton and #Renu for the twitter events and participate to possibly win some Home Depot gift cards.

**Leviton is offering 2 sets of Broadway tickets as a grand prize for the twitter party on Wednesday night! Join in on the fun and see if you'll win!**

Visit Sponsor's Site

Start making plans for Cinco de Mayo! Get me a #CoronaRita!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Chili’s Grill & Bar. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you've been reading along with Holy Craft for any length of time you will know how much I love Mexico.

I also love Mexican food.

I recently saw this new drink called the CoronaRita at Chili's.

CoronaRita sm.jpg

Doesn't it look like a great girls night out drink choice?

I love going to Chili's for just that...

Girls Night Out!

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Chili's has the best fajitas (the chicken fajitas are my favorite), yummy salads (have you tried the caribbean salad with grilled shrimp yet?  I haven't but it looks so fresh and amazing!), and a huge selection of drinks, perfect for a girls night out.

One of the drinks I know will be a crowd pleaser for our girls night out on Cinco de Mayo is the CoronaRita at Chili's.  If you love margarita's and you love beer, you are going to love this drink!  The CoronaRita at Chili's is a refreshing mix of Jose Cuervo Especial tequila and Coronarita.  If you love your margarita enough that you want to buy it a beer, this is the drink you should try!

The CoronaRita at Chili's will be the perfect compliment to my chicken fajitas that I plan to celebrate with.  It will feel just like being back on the beach in Mexico!  I can hear the waves crashing now!

Know what else I love about Chili's?

It's the perfect spot to celebrate with girlfriends, stop in for date night, or unwind with family.

Chili's has a warm inviting atmosphere that makes it great for any type of gathering.

The menu has something for everyone.

What's your favorite menu item at Chili's? 

Think you will order the new CoronaRita or will you try one of Chile's other signiture margaritas?

**Remember, you must be 21 years or older to drink alcoholic beverages and as always, please remember to drink responsibly.**

Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Listen to your children





True!

I saw this quote last month and have been thinking about how very true it is.
It's been a great reminder for me, especially with a six year old who likes to ramble on and on and on and on!

Hopefully it's a great reminder for you too!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What I don't buy at Costco

Earlier this week, I told you all why I hate Costco
Yesterday, I shared with you some of the things that I do think are a good value to buy at Costco.
Today, I am going to share with you the things I don't buy at Costco.
Some of them might surprise you.

Samples
It's not hard to make a meal out of the samples at Costco if you time it just right.
Most people stop and try the sample.  If you are shopping with kids, your kids will often try the sample too. I've been amazed at some of the samples my kids have willingly tried.

Samples at Costco are like casinos.  
They aren't losing money on them.
Costco provides samples because people buy what they sample.

It's happened to the best of us.
I've even been coerced by my kids to buy an item that has been sampled because they promise they will eat it.  They usually don't.
Most of the samples that are offered are convenience processed foods. These items rarely make it through my front door.

So while it's nice to try them once in awhile, I usually skip on the sample item.
If I really like the item I will make note of the price, compare the item at my regular grocery store, and if it seems like a better deal and I am still craving that item on my next Costco trip, I will pick it up.
Remember, Costco makes its money on your impulsivity.




Milk
2 gallons for $4.93
I don't know what genius engineer decided to make square milk but whoever it was should be shot.
I had a friend tell me that at her local Costco in the Midwest they offered lessons on how to pour milk from a Costco milk jug.
Really???  If you need lessons, the design is all wrong.
If I buy the milk from Costco, I would venture to guess on the conservative side that at least a quarter of the milk gets spilled while pouring.  While price per gallon it's comparative to our local grocery store, when you spill a good portion of it, it is no longer a good deal.

Eggs
24 count for $2.98
Do a price comparison at your local grocery store.  This isn't a good deal for our family.


Electronics
We rarely buy new electronics, but when we bought our first new TV (we have been married nearly 14 years!...who knew we could go that long without brand new electronics or even a flat screen?!), my husband did his homework.  He compared prices at Costco with those at other big box electronics stores and found the best deal on the highest quality TV in our price range to be had at Video Only.


Cereal
The cereal selection is minimal and it is often times twice the price of what you would pay for cereal at your grocery store, even without a coupon.


Shampoo/Conditioner
Price compare, the shampoo and conditioner costs twice as much at Costco as it does at your local drug store.

Health and Beauty items
Do you really need a 6 month supply of toothpaste?
Or a years supply of soap?
And while you are at it, do you really want to spend twice as much on it, not to mention the cost of storing it in your home.


Paper Goods
While toilet paper and paper towels are usually a staple in Costco carts, I did the math for you and found that buying these items at Costco is not a better deal.
Plates/Bowls
For 12 years my husband and I had the same plates and bowls that we had gotten for a wedding present. 
The plates were starting to get old and scratched, but overall were in good shape.
However, I started getting the itch to buy new dinnerware.
So when I saw some boxes of plates/bowls that I liked at Costco I bought them.
They are the worst!
Most of the dinnerware has ended up like this.
I don't know what they were made of, but they somehow seem so much more fragile than the dinnerware we had for over a decade.  Learn from our mistake.  Skip it!

Remember, the best way to save money while shopping at a big box warehouse is to know your prices.
Know what you spend on the items you regularly buy and quickly do the math to make sure you are getting a good deal, either at Costco or at your regular grocery store.

What do you think?
Did I miss anything?
What would you add to the list of items not to buy?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What I buy at Costco




Yesterday, I explained my love/hate relationship with Costco.

Costco charges a $50 membership fee per year.  It takes discipline (and a little price comparison) to help you recoup your membership fee and save money while shopping at Costco.

I can live without my Costco membership, but when I do find myself with membership card in hand, these are the things that I think are worth buying.

Gas
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**as a side note, on the times when I have let my membership lapse, my membership card has still remained active at the pump.

The first place I stop at when I walk through the doors of Costco is to the produce section.

Not all of the produce is a good deal.  During the summer, most of my produce comes from a local fruit and vegetable stand or from our local farmers market (it's cheaper, organic, and local), but during the other times of the year, when produce prices soar at your local grocery store, you can find some deals worth picking up.

Hearts of Romaine
6 count for $2.99
(That's 50 cents per heart)

Sweet Mini Peppers
A 2 pound bag is $3.79
I use these peppers for everything from sandwiches, in our salads, as stir fry, or just as a snack.
During the winter a whole yellow/red/orange pepper can set you back $1.50 at the grocery store.

Strawberries
4 pounds are $6.49
that calculates to about $1.60 per pound

Bananas
A 3 pound bag costs $1.39
about $.46 a pound
*these are almost always VERY green, so you have to plan ahead

D'Anjou Pears
6 pounds for $3.99
That's about $.67 a pound
*I will often buy this bag and share it with a friend.  The problem with 6 pounds of unripe pears is that they usually become ripe all at the same time.  It's not a good deal if you are wasting half of the bag.

**Produce item prices can change by several dollars in the same week.
I went back the same week that I took these pictures and found that the sweet peppers were now over $5 per bag and the pears were over $4 for 6 pounds.  

Be aware of the prices!

AllerClear
10 mg of loratadine (compare to Claritin)
The price on this allergy medicine continues to go up by several dollars each year. It comes as a year supply (365 tablets-1 per day), and with a coupon this year it cost me $9.99.  It's still a better deal than most other allergy medicines at the drug store, but it won't be for long.  I started buying it when it was only $4 per bottle...a much better deal!


Quinoa
4 pounds for $9.79
Around $2.45 per pound
Quinoa is a super food that our family eats as a substitute for rice.  In bulk at the grocery store I was paying around $4.50 a pound for it.  Thankfully, Costco carries it for almost half the price.  
*Not everyone loves Quinoa though.  It's best to try it before you buy it and get stuck with 4 pounds of something your family won't eat.


Baking Soda
13.5 pounds for $6.16
I know most people will tell you when they had babies, they bought diapers and wipes at Costco.
When I had babies, I bought baking soda at Costco.
I have no experience with the prices of diapers/wipes at Costco so I can't help you there, 
but as a cloth diapering mom, I used baking soda in our dirty diaper bucket to help neutralize the odor and used vinegar in the pre-wash cycle when I washed them.

**This was a purchase I only made as a cloth diapering mom. 
Think about how you use baking soda.  Usually by the teaspoon.  It would take you years to get through a bag this size and by that time, it would expire...and yes, baking soda expires!

Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
7.8 pounds for $6.86
This is one of the "extras" that I buy at Costco, that I could easily cut out of my buying if I had to.
I use a squirt of syrup in my protein shake.  The kids use it on top of bananas for a snack. 


Mocha Frappe Freeze
2.424 pounds for $8.35
I am addicted to this blended coffee.  Have been for years.
You can mix one scoop of mix with one scoop of protein powder when you make a protein shake (on days when I lift weights or am training for a race).
Or for a treat, I mix 2 scoops with 8 ounces of milk and ice and blend it together.
For me it tastes similar to a Starbucks Mocha Frappaccino but costs WAY less and has far fewer calories.


Kirkland Shredded Mozzarella
5 pounds for $9.99
Around $2 per pound
I only buy this cheese in bulk when I haven't found a sale at our local grocery store.  
Over the years it's gone up in price, but it still is a better deal than shredded cheese that isn't on sale.
I will bring this home and put it in separate smaller ziploc bags and freeze each bag.


Frozen peas/corn
5 pounds for $5.59/$5.89
I can find a better deal on frozen vegetables at our local grocery store, but the flavor of these outweighs the better price of the grocery off brand.  It's worth the extra 50 cents for our family, and each bag usually lasts several months.

Kirkland Hamburger Patties
24 count for $17.79
Around $.75 per burger 
I know I could probably make my own hamburger patties for less, but I don't buy many convenience or prepared foods, so for a quick meal that is always on hand, that my whole family will eat, it's worth it for me.


I also always buy the 10 pound bag of chicken breasts at Costco.
It ends up costing around $2 per pound.
I have tried several different brands of frozen chicken breasts and have always been less than impressed.

Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner
4 pack for $6.93-$3 off coupon=$3.93
That's less than $1 per LARGE bottle
*this was a case this month, when knowing how much you pay at other retailers comes in handy for knowing if you are getting a good deal at Costco, especially when shopping with their monthly coupons.

Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I hear this Olive Oil is the best kept secret in the store.
It's $9.99 for 1.5 liters
In recent studies at UC Davis, Kirkland Olive Oil was one of only five of the 19 brands that wasn't mixed with cheaper refined olive oil.  The other four were all high end brands that cost nearly five times what the Kirkland brand cost.  Make sure when you pick it up it's the organic brand.


So, that's what you will usually find in my cart.
I try to steer clear of the front and middle aisles for fear of getting sucked into what I think *might* be a good deal.  All of these items can be found on the far left side of my store.  

It's easy to impulse buy at Costco but when I know my numbers and know what is a better deal at Costco than at other grocery/drug stores, then I can feel confident in knowing that I am saving my family money.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the things I don't buy at Costco.
The list might surprise you!

ps-in case you missed it, I did a series on What Not To Buy at The Dollar Store.
You can read it here