Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The tin man

If you're a thrifter like me, every time you're at the your local Goodwill or Salvation Army you see tons of vintage tins for pocket change! These tins are super cute for holding household items but with a little ingenuity, you can also turn them into some fabulous DIY gifts.

Check out this project from Country Living. With just a couple of extra materials, you can turn those fun tins into useful candles!

And this project is even more simple! Just a few magnets and voila! Instant adorable from Creature Comforts.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Deeply felt

I love the look of felt ... and I love it even more on these awesome DIY projects that are perfect for a handmade and heartFELT gift!

Here are four Christmas-themed projects and four for anytime! Note that the first three don't come with instructions but I think they'd be relatively easy to recreate. Let me know if you pull of the tree skirt! It's $198 in stores! Eeek!


Click on the number for the source!

Heartfelt handmade

For many of us, when we think of a homemade gift, flashbacks of macaroni necklaces for mom and hand-painted "#1 Father" mugs for dad may come to mind. While one of those gifts might not be as graciously accepted now that you're an adult, a handmade gift still has the heartfelt feeling that your macaroni projects did years ago. And now that you're all grown up, a handmade gift can also be a beautiful one-of-a-kind piece that your parents, or any other recipient, will be happy to display.

So this week in my 25 Days of Giving, I'll be sharing my best ideas for homemade gifts that will wow. Break out your macaroni, and stay tuned ...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Add some flare

My last secret weapon store is FredFlare.com. I love this shop for their unique gifts and cute clothes, that are in such variety they can really appeal to anyone on your list. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. For your Christmas-crazy friend: Holiday Scented Pencil Set,$10
2. For the diva with a sense of humor: Puffy the Eye-bag Slayer, $6
3. For your sewing sister: Button-up Earrings, $10
4. For your silly boyfriend: Toddland Moustache Wallet (love this because it includes a mini moustache sticker for your driver's licence).
5. For your organized-chic chick: Kate Spade 2011 Desk Organizer, $22
6. For your artistic kid-sister: Play with your Food Dinner Plate, $18
7. For the life of the party: Wine Monkey, $14
8. For the zombie movie buff: How To Speak Zombie $15.95
9. For the snow bunny: Cozy Creme XL Scarf, $29.99 (love how big this scarf is since it can be a shawl or great travel-blanket all-in-one).
10. For your geeky kid-brother: Build Your Own Kaleidoscope, $14

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In the afternoon

Like Patina, I found The Afternoon while visiting my parents in Minnesota. I love them for their fun gifts and variety of merchandise. Here are a few of my favorite picks for gifts this year:

1. For the jokester, Back At 'Cha Wall Hanger, $69
2. For a little princess, Fairest Wall Mirrors, $22.49
3. For the soon-to-be graduate, Go Confidently Tote Bag, $25
4. For the fashionista, Zad Silver Metal Octopus Hinged Cuff, $18
5. For the bartender wannabe, Mojito Glass Set with Muddler, $35
6. For the fairytale fan, Alice in Wonderland Clock, $29.95
7. For your grandma in Florida, Crab Electric Fan, $89
8. For your friend Matt, Hi. I'm Mat. Doormat, $17.95
9. For the picnicer, Steady Sticks Wine Glass Holder, $9.95
10. For a friend going through a tough time, Boxing Gloves Necklace, $75

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Uncommonly great

Uncommon Goods is an awesome website for finding everything ... uncommon! I love this site for it's huge variety of gifts and guides for everyone on your list. Here's some of my top items from this secret weapon store:

1. For your friend who loves to scrapbook, Memory Quilt Kit, $68
2. For the tea-lover, Mona Teapot, $90
3. For some hot chocolate, Cups with Ribbed Knit Cozy
4. For the stylish new mom, Teething Bracelet, $20
5. For cold, chic feet Mum Felt Slippers, $48
6. For the clever home decorator, Jar Tiles, $28
7. For the world traveler, Scratch-off Where You've Been Map,$24
8. For the kid in your life, Lil' Drum Set, $55
9. For the green thumb, Apple Tree to Be Kit, $22
10. For a runny nose, Paper Pots, $38

Monday, November 22, 2010

A patin-ed secret

One of my favorite stops to make (and my first secret weapon store) when I'm visiting my family in Minnesota is Patina. This shop has wall to wall goodies and I'm like a kid in a candy store every time I go in. Lucky for those of you who don't live in the Minneapolis area, Patina has taken their shop online. Here are a few of my favorite gifts for this season...

1. For the Scottish cook, Green Plaid Apron, $24
2. For the coastal friend who loves to entertain, Yellow Gurgle Jug, $24
3. For the architecture student, FishCondo Fish Bowl, $25
4. For a girly-girl, Sweet Bow Necklace, $22
5. For the math enthusiast, Pop Quiz Clock, $35
6. For your roommate who hates to clean, Green Slipper Genie, $13.95
7. For the gadget-happy chef, Garlic Zoom, $11.95
8. For your sister, Sisters Forever Cuff, $52
9. For your boyfriend's dry hands, Man Lotion, $7.95
10. For the exhausted new parents, Night Owl Snuggle Sack, $34.95

A holiday secret

Welcome to week one of my 25 Days of Giving! Each week I'll be sharing my favorite gift-shopping tips and posting guides for your own holiday shopping!

This week I'm going to pull together guides from some of my favorite secret weapon stores.

No matter how spread across the country your friends and family are, most of them will have, and are familiar with, all the generic "mall" stores you can find in any city in the country. Sure, these stores can be great for gift shopping if you know your recipient has a particular favorite, but you also want to keep in mind that when you buy a gift from a more common store, your recipient may have already seen, or even have, what you purchase.

This is why I love having secret weapon stores - shops that are either only in my city, or online stores that are less well-known. At these places you can purchase a more unique gift that your recipient may have never seen before! These gifts always surprise, delight, and make for conversation for years to come!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Come fly with me

Derek and I are off to Minneapolis tomorrow to start the Thanksgiving holiday. I can't help but stress a little every time I travel. And though I'm entirely grateful for all the work the airports, airlines, and everyone else involved does to keep us safe, I can't help but wish flying was a bit like it was years ago ... when travelers wore their Sunday best to fly and being a flight attendant was glamorous work.

P.S. Don't forget to stop by starting Monday for my 25 Days of Giving!

P.P.S. Check out this post you may have missed on DIY vintage suitcase projects

All photos from here

Thursday, November 18, 2010

25 days

One of my favorite holiday traditions is the advent calendar. Every year, my dad fills a little cupboard style advent with little treats for each day in December for my sister and I - candy, cleverly folder dollar bills, and even bits of jewelry from Forever 21 (yes! all sourced out by Dad himself)!

It's always so much fun to see what surprise is in store, so to share that joy with my readers, I'm announcing my own 25 Days of Giving! Over the next 25 week days until Christmas I'll be doling out my best gift-giving advice, pulling together all kinds of gift guides, and giving tips on wrapping and presentation.

Please check in starting Monday to get in on the giving and gift me with links to your own advice and favorite presents!

P.S. I think I'm going to make one of these fun paper cone advents! They look super easy and I can fill them with suprise treats for my cute roomie.

First image from here, Second from here, Last image from here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing in circles

Inspired by this charming post from Living With Lindsay I set out to make a wreath of book pages akin to the adorable one Lindsay crafted for her home, below.

Lindsay used paint to age the pages she tore from a dollar store romance novel. I set out to do the same, but realized I didn't have the proper colors of paint. What I did have however, was a Cosmopolitan magazine from the 1940s - already aged and with a pretty, newspapery feel. Now before you gasp at the horror of me ripping through a vintage Cosmo, please note that it was already beyond salvaging and I originally purchased it for less than $10 to create some wall art with the intact pages (post on that to come).

So, armed with my ripped apart magazine, and a whole lot of patience, I created the below beauty for our front door (please disregard ugly door color - apartment living does not lend itself to the most aesthetically appealing paint jobs).

I'm so happy with the unique, vintagey result and though I'll be changing it out soon for a Christmas wreath, I plan to hang this baby most of the year round.

Should you want to create a wreath of your own, Lindsey's post has a great video to help you out! Here is the method to my own madness:

1-2 books or 1 magazine (depends on the size of the wreath)
Wreath base (I used straw but Styrofoam would work well)
Hot glue gun

1. Begin by taking out all the pages and rolling them up as you see fit! I rolled mine in various ways, folded some in half, ripped others in half, etc. Get creative!
2. Flip the wreath to the side that will be the back. Begin by making a ring around the back side of rolled-up paper so that when you flip it back over, you will see the rolls sticking out the bottom.
3. Begin working around your wreath, folding a tiny bit of the bottom of each roll to attach the glue to. Glue pieces in random order (creativity!) using the pencil to push each down so you don't burn your fingers.
4. Continue doing this until your wreath is full.
5. Tie a ribbon into a bow around the top or finish it off with any other creative decoration!
6. Use a wreath hanger to hang.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Wedding bells and sleigh bells!

If you've even turned on the news today, you've heard that Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton has been announced. This means that royal-watchers and fans of beautiful weddings alike have a gorgeous and very pricey affair to look forward to this spring or summer.

But why should we have to wait so long!? Personally, I think winter weddings are extremely underrated. Just take a look at some of these gorgeous photos.


Please click on the number for the source!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winter rush

I can't believe how close December is when November seems like it barely just began. Check out these pictures of Victoria Falls in southern Africa. Every September and December, visitors are allowed to swim all the way up to the edge of the falls since the current is slow and a rock wall prevents (most) from going over.

An experience of a lifetime? Definitely.
A risk I would be willing to take? Not so much. How about you?

Found on A Cup of Jo

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An oldie but...

a goodie!

A few month's ago, Derek's dad, Terry, sent him a cookbook pulled together in 1985 by the wives of the St. Louis Cardinals, our hometown baseball team. It's a pretty neat cookbook, made in the very year Derek was born, and signed by former pitcher Bob Forsch.

The funny thing is, while I've always thought of food as timeless, the recipes in this book date themselves with their liberal use of heavy cream, full-fat cheeses, and plenty of mayonnaise - things I don't often see in the healthier living cookbooks that are popular today.

I'm going to challenge myself in the coming months to update some of these recipes to healthier versions, a cooking challenge, since they all do sound quite delicious.

But to kick it off, I chose one recipe that needed no alteration. The result was delicious! A pork tenderloin that was a little sweet with a dipping sauce that had a bite! I served it with mixed potato and sweet potato baked fries and a salad - a very cozy fall meal!

Here's the recipe if you want to try it out! Stay tuned for future recipe makeovers.

Bob's Favorite Pork Tenderloin
by Mollie Forsch

2 pork tenderloins
1/2 cup bourbon (I used 1/2 cup imitation vanilla extract since I had no bourbon on hand)
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tbs brown sugar

1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tbs grated onion
1/2 tbs dry mustard
1/4 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

Mix together the bourbon, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Marinate the pork in it overnight. Bake the tenderloin at 325 for 1.5 hours, basting often with the marinade.

While cooking, mix together the sour cream, mayo, onion, mustard and vinegar and heat on the stove. Serve with the tenderloin.


top image of Bob Forsch's #1 fan, Terry Burke; bottom image from Real Simple

Time to give and get

Starting today and through Sunday (Nov 11 - 14), you can save 30% off all your purchases at Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic (outlets included). With the Gap Give and Get coupon, you'll save big, while sending 5% of what you spend to support Teach For America's mission to ensure all children in our nation have the opportunity to get an excellent education! Click here for the coupon.

Give thanks for what you have this year by helping out a great cause and picking up a cute Thanksgiving Day outfit in the process. Here are my picks from each of the stores, and the totals after the coupon.

And if you really want to spread the holiday spirit, pass the printed coupon to the shopper behind you in line after you make your purchases! Happy shopping and happy (week until) Thanksgiving!

Gap: $120 for the outfit
Old Navy: $83 for the outfit
Banana Republic: $217 for the outfit

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Do you remember the little girls' tent in the movie The Holiday ? It looked like such a magical little place and I wished my parents had let me build a similar escape when I was a kid!

Well if you thought their paper stars were cool, check out this look out pyramid at the top of a Seattle penthouse, spotted on You Are My Fave. The spiral stairs lead to the space -- the ultimate star gazing hideaway and probably equally as magical in a rain storm!

Tent photo from Hooked On Houses
Penthouse photos from You Are My Fave

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Serving up some new decor

As promised, here is a photo of the dish "art" Derek and I created for our dining room! The plates were purchased at Marshall's for $3.50 each on clearance and the frames (with a few coupons) were just $7.50 each at Michael's. While I was hoping to find some sticky plate hangers as described in this how-to, none of our local stores carried them so we went with some more traditional bungee plate holders that were $2 a piece. The small hook that hangs over each plate is far less noticeable than I anticipated and I'm happy with them!

Overall I love how the plates add such depth and texture to our walls. I'm also thrilled that we were able to decorate an entire wall for less than $40!

I thought I'd also share a few details on the rest of the dining area! The kitchen table we purchased from a CraigsList seller for just $75. I was skeptical at first since it's a bit country with tiny chickens (yes!) painted on the chairs, but Derek assured me that it would look more cute than country with the rest of our decor. I was sold on the woven seats, yellow color, curvy shape, and price, so we went for it! I couldn't be happier.

We also found this orange pitcher at Marshall's and I love how it looks as a flower vase and centerpiece.

I hope you enjoy! And please share any inexpensive DIY wall decor you've created!