Saturday, June 27, 2009

Adventures in Car Repair

This morning I tried to resurrect my hubby's Caddy from its dusty non-functional place in our car port, while he is out of town for the week. I checked the fluids, topped them off and even checked the oil. This is a huge accomplishment because prior to this morning I had never even filled the washer fluid on my own car. I scraped my leg and sliced my finger in the process but I did it! The next thing to do was to actually get it running...

So I read up on how to jump start a car knowing the dangers and the damage this activity can cause. I was nervous to say the least.... I hooked up the jumper cables like a champ and started the car, let it run... all that. But alas, when I tried to start the Caddy... poor thing just sputtered and died once more.

It made me really sad for some reason. I was on a roll! I had finished everything I had set out to do to fix up my hubby's car! I had a whole day of washing and polishing ahead of me... If I could just get the car started! I don't know if it was my novice enthusiasm that was crushed by the death rattle of the engine or if it was my whole-hearted determination to see my husband smile at something I had truly done just for him.

It looks like the Caddy will need more than just a woman's touch...
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Invest in your wardrobe

I can not tell you how many times I walk through the mall, or anywhere for that matter, and I see women who look like they got dressed out of a thrift store grab bag, or women who look like girls because they shop the clearance rack at Forever 21. As important as it is to save money, I believe it is so much more important to look polished, stylish and put together (so you don't look broke). This is where investment comes in.

My mother told me (being the perfectly sensible woman she is) that nothing is more expensive than the thing you never wear or only wear once. Think about it... If you bought a blouse that was 50$ and wore it ten times its only 5$ per wear, but if you buy a 20$ blouse that you only wear once, it is more expensive per wear than the 50$ blouse.

Closeup of a copper rivet on blue jeans.Image via Wikipedia

Now I know that I said to never buy anything that isn't on sale.... I know that's really hard for some people or when you need jeans because when you squatted down last night they ripped right up the back. I can totally understand, that's just a commitment I made to myself. I will admit it has not been easy.

Last night when I was getting dressed for my meeting, I slipped into my favorite purple skirt with gun metal zip pockets and closure and gray pinstripes and I thought "I LOVE this skirt!" And I thought about when I bought this skirt. I saw it and I had to have it. I was in a foreign country. I had no idea what the shop girl was saying. I had no idea how much the skirt even cost in American dollars. But it fit so well and the cut was so classic and the color so delicious I had to have it. I have worn that skirt countless times since then and it is such a quality piece it has lasted over six years and it is still my favorite skirt.

So what I'm trying to get at is; if you do splurge on an item, make it a quality piece that is going to last through 58 wears and being washed a lot. Make it a classic piece that isn't going to look dated in six months because the trend has passed... Invest in fewer quality pieces and you won't look like you've been rummaging through the clearance racks, or worse the thrift store dumpster. You will look more polished and put together and you won't be chasing trend after trend and only ending up with a closet full of clothes you hate, looking trendy instead of stylish.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sale Away!

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14:  A shopper walks past ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Don't buy anything that isn't on sale. Period. There is no reason! I bought a ninety dollar sweater yesterday for seven dollars! (yes I realize its almost July) It is totally fabulous, I just have to wait for a few months to wear it! haha Be patient and everything will go on sale...
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Decorate on a Dime

I hate those design shows that have those titles and then have a thousand dollar budget for one room...

For those of us with out 6,000 dollars to spend on decorating here are few tips:

1. Use what you already have.
If you have a chair that has seen better days, recover it. If you have a table that is tired, refinish it or paint it. If you don't like the lamp paint it and find a new shade. Most of the things you have you bought because you liked them right? Invest a little time and paint or fabric into them and it will be like brand new!

2. Make your own fancy art!
Even if you think you can't paint, find something that you like and copy it. Or just move some paint around on a canvas. Get into it! Make it a fun time for you and your kids or you and your husband or boyfriend or girlfriend! There is no reason that you can't make art for your home. This is one of my husband's favorite paintings of mine.

3. Shop around.
Go to thrift stores, junk stores, yard sales and even your grandma's garage for fun finds! You never know what you are going to find and sometimes you get some really great things. Go to the older parts of town for garage sales. I found the most beautiful antique desk from the 1940s at a garage sale for 20$. I did have to refinish the top, but now I have a gorgeous sewing desk. Ask your family if they need to get rid of some stuff. I know my mother is always looking for new tables, for some reason, and she lets me take the old ones off her hands. I also decorated my entire balcony for free with clippings from my mom's houseplants and pots my aunt no longer used.

4. Swap!
I know there are going to be things around your house that you just hate and want to get rid of so ask around if anyone wants to swap something with you. If you've got friends and neighbors, they've got stuff they want to get rid of too. Like my aunt with the pots. They were just piled up behind a bush collecting pine needles. She just gave them to me!

5. Dumpster dive.
This is a little extreme if you are going to drive around town and actually scout out dumpsters and dive on in. My version is a little less extreme. I live in an apartment complex with a very clear view of the dumpster (lovely, I know). But I am usually the first to see what goes into the dumpster and when there are a lot of people moving in and out all the time they tend to leave things behind. The people in my complex are nice enough to leave usable items next to the bin. I'm sitting on a chair rescued from the trash compactor!
All it takes is a little time and imagination!
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Recycled Jewelry

Hello there! Today I'm sharing some pictures of jewelry I refashioned. I had a lot of things laying around that I like individually, but never have the chance to wear because I'm so devoted to my regular bits of jewelry. You know, wedding rings, sterling rings, same earrings... I was in a rut! So here are my odes to the oh-so-chic necklaces I've been seeing in my magazines. Here are some inspiration pieces.

Betsey Johnson
Betsey Johnson
Baby Phat
and I don't really remember...

All courtesy of

Here are my pieces, as modeled by my dress form. Click to enlarge any of the pictures!

I love long layered chains. They are so en vogue now. This one is my favorite so far. I love eclectic finds with strange details that makes you look twice. I love little trinkets that can spice up a plain top. Heavy metal, balanced with a soft satin bow of equal visual weight.
All of these pieces were so not labor intensive. I used the clasps and loops that were already there, which means when I'm tired of that piece I can easily break it back down into its original parts and start over! This is the ultimate in rearranging! Hope you enjoyed!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stylish Coffee for a Broke Girl

A Starbucks coffee shop in Leeds, United KingdomImage via Wikipedia

Today's tip: How to get an iced latte practically free.

Put on your best parched face when you run into your local Starbucks and ask for a venti ice water. Most baristas will give this to you free of charge. Be very grateful and very gracious. A great smile goes a long way. Once you have drank your daily serving of water, go home and make your own iced coffee. It can even be Starbucks brand if you feel guilty. Just reuse your cup. Like I have said before everything has a lot longer life than we tend to give it. Wash and reuse. They can even go in the dishwasher if you don't use a heat dry setting. Stylish coffee, practically free.

Or just flirt with the barista! :D
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Use it again!

Assorted Recycled BeadsImage by ecocessories via Flickr

Today's tip: Recycle!

From aluminum, to clothing and jewelry re-use your stuff! Most things have a much longer life than most of us would realize. So get the most out of your things!

Most recycling places will pay you for aluminum cans, scrap metal, anything you have laying around. This also has the nice effect on the planet (especially that plastic stuff) Plus who wouldn't mind a little extra $$?

Clothing! I mentioned this in my last blog post. Recycle your clothing. Let some one else love an item you loved too. Take it to a consignment shop or a place that will buy it out right or give you store trade. You can do the same with furniture and jewelry.

Shop at thrift stores, sew with "re-purposed" materials, re-use water bottles, don't buy trash bags, wash and reuse plastic cups, there are so many ways to get creative with it. I'll share some in detail some time soon! I've got some fun ones;)
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Clean out your closet!

Today's tip: Clean out your closet!

Go in your room, shut the door, turn on some music and open your closet doors. If you've ever been frustrated at not being able to find anything to wear, it's probably because you have too much in there to see all the good things. It's like when we stress about all the crap in our life and can't step back and see all the great things.

Start at one end of your closet and work your way to the other. Try to organize as you go (Shirts, pants, dresses all together) and try on every single piece of clothing you own and ask yourself three questions:

"Do I love it?"

"Is it flattering/Does it fit?"

"Does this piece of clothing portray who I am and what style I wish to portray?"

If an item of clothing gets a "no" to any of these questions, it needs to go. Even if you love it and it is totally your style, but it no longer fits. Let it go. Don't delude yourself any longer that you are 17 and can fit into that shirt or those jeans that looked so great on you 10 years ago. Everyone changes. So too should your wardrobe.

You can then take your unloved, unflattering, and not so you clothes to a consignment store, a thrift shop or a place like Buffalo Exchange and get cash, trade or just get it out of your life. I recommend a place like Buffalo Exchange if only because they will give you more in store credit and then you can go shopping! Plus they donate what they don't take so your clothes can move on with their life and make some one else happy and you can move on with your life too.

the point of cleaning out your closet is not only to get rid of the train wreck that is your closet (if you're anything like me), but it is also to refine your style, make you look more put together and to make it less of a headache to get dressed in the morning.

A book that I got the three questions from that goes into much more detail on the subject of clearing out the mess and defining your style is called "Nothing To Wear? The Five Step Cure for the Common Closet" I don't remember who wrote it, but I found it on a trip to my local branch library. A good read, but by no means necessary, especially for this step.

If you then find that your closet is missing some essentials, make a list and go shopping! Remember to stick to it though!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Broke Girl's Guide

More time at home has prompted me to start thinking a little more creatively. And remember I have a blog for that very purpose....

So this summer's agenda: The Broke Girl's Guide to Looking Like She's Not.

Today's tip:

- Learn to sew.

Go to the fabric store and riffle through the pattern books, find one you like, look at it very closely. If it seems easy, (i.e. it doesn't have 23 pattern pieces, lapels, buttons, lots of detail) buy it. Patterns are sometimes on sale for $1 each! Just make sure you get the right size so measure yourself first because they aren't returnable. Keep in mind sewing sizes are not store bought sizes. Next go to the clearance fabric section and pick a fabric. You can get some fabrics as cheap as two dollars a yard.

Learning to sew takes time and the first ten things you make you may or may not want to wear outside your house, but practice and you'll be making wonderful pieces in no time.

Being a self taught seamstress I will tell you that you must follow all directions on a pattern to the letter, even if they make absolutely no sense to you. Once they start making sense and all your items are turning out great, you can move on to design your own pieces.

It feels amazing to get a compliment on something you made and then see the look of amazement on that person's face when you say, "Oh thank you! I made this!" And to know that no one else has that exact piece and you probably spent way less money on it.

The great thing about sewing is you get so much more out of it than just an article of clothing. You get clothing that you love everything about because you chose everything AND you get a hobby.
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