Tag Archives: Inspiration

Scrapbook: Christmas Decorations

18 Dec


Little Big Gift Guide: Thrifty Ideas for Stocking Stuffers

12 Dec

Today is the first installment of a three-part series I’m doing on inexpensive, yet still fun and creative and useful, Christmas gifts. The goal is to give items that would be a welcome gift and not just junk that will likely be tossed out at the end of the day. To be included in this gift guide it must be useful, lovely, and budget-friendly. Today, Thrifty Stocking Stuffers, and later this week, Thriftier Stocking Stuffers, and last but not least, Thriftiest Stocking Stuffers.

Instagram magnets: for $14.99 Stickygram will create 9 magnets out of the Instagram photos of your choice. My plan is to do this and split the photo magnets among family members.

Phone cords: for whatever reason, the necessary USB cord for the iPhone seems to always crack and wear, leaving exposed wires that result in a poor connection. I could always use an extra USB cord, and for that matter, extra screen protectors and replacement ear buds (they always find their way to the washing machine at our house) make handy stocking stuffers, as well.

Flash drives: I’m lusting after this key-style flash drive. Particularly useful for students and nerds! Especially useful for nerd-students.

My Etsy shop: Shameless self-promotion time! In my shop I have a number of smaller items that would make excellent stocking stuffers. Support small business and an active reuse market! Also, my thrifting habit.

Books: The thriftiest way to give books is to give away books you no longer want to keep (which I’m cool with as long as the recipient would be interested in it), or to find something while thrifting or at a library book sale. But don’t forget independent book sellers or even mass-market retailers. My dear friend Stefanie loves to give books at holidays and we all look forward to getting them.

Personalized calendar: for as long as my mother has purchased calendars she’s always had a cat calendar every year. Somewhere along the line Anthony and I started purchasing calendars for her as our Christmas present. After a couple years I had the idea of making her a cat calendar using photos I took of her own cats, and she loved it. When Isobel came along we made her cat and granddaughter calendars. She looks forward to this every year.

Shop Etsy faves: If you do happen to have a budget for presents, and the person you are buying for has an etsy account, take a look at items they’ve favorited through their profile for ideas. My friends and I started using Etsy faves as a wishlist and like to buy items off their lists when we can afford it. We know they’ll love whatever we buy them, and since we all know about this idea we include faves at a few pricepoints. We have had the issue of two of us buying the same present for someone only once (since faves aren’t an actual registry, after all) and overall this system works well. I love supporting small biz while making a friend happy.

Magnets: I always need more magnets, Instagram or otherwise, and by this I mean cute magnets, of course.

Gift cards: Gift cards aren’t an usual gift idea, but when times are tough sometimes the best gift someone can receive is a gift card for some much-needed clothes or a luxury they wouldn’t purchase for themselves otherwise. When my cousin had her second child, my Aunt Kay said she’d by her the gift card of her choice: a mani-pedi, a massage, or one month’s worth of a housecleaning service. (For the record, my cousin chose housekeeping. I would have, too!) I like to buy gift cards for iTunes, Target, Amazon, Old Navy, or our local favorite sushi restaurant.

Dishtowels: It’s common knowledge that I’m a dishtowel junkie. They are an inexpensive way add style to a kitchen—a room that’s hard to change without major remodeling. And they fit in a stocking perfectly, too.

Mouse pad: It seems like mouse pads have a short shelf life before they get all faded and gross-looking. Adorable options abound on Etsy.

Photo books: After Isobel was born I scraped together the three brain cells I had left and made a photo book for each Grandmother. I bought inexpensive photo albums at Michael’s and filled them with photos of Isobel, starting with a shot of my giant pregnant belly and ending with Isobel at three months old. In my mom’s book I included photos of her holding Isobel plus other shots of the family, and vice versa for my mother in law. We had these ready in time for Mother’s Day and they were a huge hit. The grandmothers had their books on them at all times so when people asked about their grandchild they could proudly show off their photos. After all was said and done they cost less than ten bucks each. You can always go to one of those photo sites for a more professional looking book, but they loved their albums and still treasure them. I ended up using a photo book service to make a Friends of Isobel book, which we created to help introduce Isobel to our friends that she might not see that often. (You can read about that here.)

Cute socks: Perfect for winter, warm, cute socks are always welcome in a stocking.

Today’s installment was for those of you lucky enough to have a budget, but what if your budget too strict for this gift guide? Never fear, later this week I’ll be coming out with two more gift guides for really-low and even no budget gifts that still meet the lovely and useful criteria. Stay tuned!

Thrifty Living: 12 Creative, Thrifty Ways to Wrap Gifts

6 Dec

Here are my favorite creative and thrifty ways to wrap presents for the holidays. Have an idea? Add yours in the comments.

1. Stock up on thrifted tins. I always check out tins while thrifting and stock up for the holidays. For a quarter I can buy a unique way to wrap a gift that can then be reused and repurposed later.

2. Use colorful paper bags and printable gift tags. When I still worked at the library I did a whole lot of gift-giving: coworkers, office staff, friends and student aides all got gifts from me. The cheapest way to wrap these gifts turned out to be colorful paper bags and ribbon from the craft store plus printable gift tags that I made myself. This was the perfect way to distribute baked goods and they looked so cheerful. Free printable gift tags can be found all over the web, but my favorites are found here.

3. Wrap an ugly box collage-style. I bought a lovely necklace for my MIL one year and of course the only box I could find to put it in said something dumb on it. I used a page out of a magazine to cover the top of the box and glued origami paper to the sides and it was transformed. She ended up loving the box as much as the necklace.

4. Try fabric scraps and yarn. One year I ran out of wrapping paper altogether so I raided my fabric stash and found this vintage green cotton fabric I found while thrifting. I was able to secure this fabric with scotch tape even though it was a decently heavy weight.  Wrap as you would normally for wrapping paper, add some yarn, and you’re good to go.

5. Embellish a plain gift bag. I can’t remember if this bag was plain or if it had a logo in the middle, but either way it benefited from some scraps from my collage file.

6. Reuse a pretty jar. I save jars like this throughout the year because I like to give spiced nuts and candy at Christmas. If your jar is pretty enough, only a ribbon is needed, though you can always paint the lid.

7. Use sheet music instead of wrapping paper. I have lots of musician friends so I had the idea to wrap their gifts in sheet music. I happened to have sheet music lying around, so I made copies of it specifically to use for wrapping. Collage paper, doilies, and some pink yarn finished it off.

8. Wrap with tissue paper and add a colorful bow. Many times the tissue paper is lovely enough to use as wrapping. I keep a few spools of colorful ribbon on hand for wrapping. I get it when it goes on clearance at the craft store.

9. Use a small piece of fancy paper for accent. A very creative friend of mine made me a necklace and sent it to me in this lovely packaging. I like how she decorated a plain box by adding a strip of fancy paper around it. I bet the sheet of paper was pricey, but using it sparingly makes it last.

10. Reuse a gift bag. I saved so many gift bags from our baby showers that I finally had to go through our gift bags and get rid of some. I didn’t throw them out, though! I donated them to Goodwill. Speaking of, you can find all sorts of lovely gift bags at good will for cheap.

11. Just add a huge bow. Sometimes one large statement is all you need.

12. Add a creative card. I don’t recommend giving tequila for every occasion, but in this case a lime made the perfect card.

Thrifty Living: Halloween Decorations

5 Oct

At first I was going to feel really weird about this post. I mean, it’s technically fall, and people are already pulling out their sweaters and knee-high boots (even me), and, until this week, the weather’s been in the mid-90s. I ditched the sweater halfway through the Farmer’s Market and wished I would have left the boots in the closet. Living where I do, in the middle of California, our spring and autumn seasons are brief and our summers linger way after they’ve worn out their welcome. Fall doesn’t really get going until December, and the only way we ever get a White Christmas is if we have a heavy fog.

Nature must have felt my sincere desire for autumn weather, because this week our highs dipped into the low 80s and we actually had cloud cover and a breeze. And a rumor of rain, but hoping for that just felt greedy.

Isobel and I decorated the house together over the weekend, and we had a blast doing it together. I didn’t even bother decorating the house during her first Halloween, and between the kittens and Isobel’s teething, it just wasn’t safe to decorate for her second.

This agate mushroom bookend set is normally in my bedroom, but I pulled it out in the living room along with this candle I found while thrifting. I just don’t think I can give either of them up.  I’ve tried (though, admittedly, not very hard).

By far my favorite decoration this year is my skull specimen, which I put together for under $5. You might remember the cheese dome from the Monkey Giveaway. I found that at a thrift store quite awhile ago, searching for the perfect use for it. Besides displaying monkeys, of course. Duh.

One porcelain skull from my boyfriend’s later, and we have a lovely skull specimen.

Isobel still thinks they are pirates, and she likes to walk up to this one and say, “ARRRRRR!” before giving it a huge kiss.

I decorated the outside of our house, too, but I did a pretty ghetto job. You see that thing under the sign? That’s a Valentine’s decoration I put up nearly three years ago. I just kind of shoved my metal Halloween sign over it.

Our gnome is representin’ the holidays in his costume. I should probably name him. And then give him clothes. Or is that just for House Elves?

The kitchen is coming along. I wanted to take everything off the fridge so I could rearrange things, but Isobel got very upset I moved her Isobel magnets, so I just shoved everything to the bottom. I bought magnets for the Trick/Treat sign so it’s not hanging by ghetto magnet hooks. I really should find my wine bottles for the top of the fridge, too.

I like having a set of holiday magnets. My mom had holiday magnets for my sister and I when we were little, and it was a fun tradition for us.

A little garland never hurt nobody.

And I love my new kitchen towels.

Isobel helped me decorate the sideboard, too. She kept telling me that “the pirates were sleeping,” which was kind of creepy. Yes, they are sleeping. Eternally.

I found these rose-shaped pine cones last year and I’m kicking myself for not writing down where we found them. I’d love to collect more. Dried berries and autumn leaves were also collected last year, because our leaves haven’t even thought of dropping off yet.

I inherited this glass pumpkin from my Nana. I keep thinking of fun things to fill it with: pine cones, candy corn, acorns.

I’m sure everyone’s seen the adorable doilies-as-spiderwebs on Pinterest? I saw them a couple years ago before Pinterest but only recently found doilies. They came already mounted on these lovely metal hoops. I just added the spiders Isobel put in my basket while thrifting. I was like, “High five, kid! I totally needed those.”

I found this owl in a thrift store the day an identical one in my shop sold. The one I was selling was painted a solid, glossy black and I very nearly closed the listing so I could keep the owl and the painted candle sconce for my own Halloween decorations. Part of me wants to keep this guy as is, part of me wants to paint him black, part of me thinks I should sell him because I don’t need another project right now. For the timebeing, at least, he’s part of my Halloween display.

You may have noticed that I don’t like gore or scary decorations. (Though what’s scarier than the skulls and their not-so-subtle reminders of our mortality?) Well, I’ve never been a fan of gore, but I have saved the truly scary, the deeply frighting, absolutely horrifying for the end. Behold! My scariest Halloween decoration of all!

I should do something about that.

After the holidays.

Thrifty Living: The Pantry

12 Sep

In order to spread the love of thrift store shopping, I thought it might be kind of nice to give you a tour of my home in some of the small, simple ways I use secondhand items in my daily life.  While the Thrifted Home Tour featured ways of incorporating vintage decor into a modern home, I hope this series will show you how secondhand items can be both lovely and useful, something I try to emphasize in my shop, as well. It’s one thing to have a lot of vintage items in a home that looks like it was preserved from the 1950s, but what I’m after in my life is blending vintage with items I already own in a way that’s workable and lovely. I don’t think homes are meant to be museums, even if they are very lovely.

Some of my most useful finds are these two, in my actual pantry itself, the chrome napkin holder and the Japanese octagon-shaped vase.  Originally I was going to use the napkin holder for letters on my desk, but its so much more useful holding index cards in my pantry. I use them for quick grocery lists, or if friends are over and we need to make a food run, or to write down ideas as I have them, or sometimes I’ll just grab a card and a pencil while I’m cooking and hand them to Isobel for five minutes of toddler-free cooking. The vase is perfect for holding pens because it’s sturdy and because it’s a vase the sides are tall enough that it’s never fallen over. I like to keep sharpies on hand in this vase for labeling things that go in the freezer.

I love the vintage teardrop-shaped bowl of monkeypod wood and often use it to hold cherry tomatoes. It’s so pretty to use at parties. But what I really wanted to show you in this picture were the tins. I have several vintage Daher tins that I love because they are so beautiful. I keep my favorite teas on hand in the brown tin below (with the rest stashed away in a red tin that used to hold biscuits). The blue tin holds large variety of teas, including teas I’m really not fond of, and this is the tin I get down when I have friends over. It makes me feel like a stunningly capable hostess, and this way everyone gets their choice and is happy. 

I keep a number of vintage tins lying around the kitchen and use them for a rotating cast of uses: homemade croutons keep better in a tin than in a plastic bag, I have one currently holding Isobel’s alphabet magnets, and another filled with beans. I use vintage tins for storage all over the house, and I don’t predict I’ll stop singing their praises anytime soon.

I admit I bought these adorable salt and pepper shakers for looks more than anything else. Instead of shakers I use a salt cellar and two pepper grinders. But since I keep these on the toaster it occurs to me I could fill one with cinnamon and one with sugar for instant cinnamon toast.

This vintage viking jewelry box is actually my salt cellar. I think little ceramic boxes like these make the perfect salt cellars. Whenever I find one  for the shop I always suggests its use as a salt cellar. Mine does its job perfectly.

Over here are my two pepper grinders, one a vintage Peugeot and one from Ikea. My eventual plan is for one to hold regular black pepper and for the other to hold more exotic peppercorns. In front of them you’ll note The Fish, a vintage bottle opener that came from my late Papa and Nana. When we have groups of people over for dinner it’s not uncommon to hear people asking, “Where’s The Fish?” Everybody knows The Fish.

I originally bought this cheerful yellow scale for the shop, but I couldn’t part with it after accidentally setting it down in the pantry and seeing how lovely it looked in there.  Strange how that happens! Salter is a really trusted brand for scales, and I compared it to my digital one and it is right on the money.

I feel that soap dishes often get overlooked in thrift stores. I don’t have an actual need for soap dishes in my house because we use refillable liquid soap everywhere, but I’ve seen such truly gorgeous vintage dishes that they are worth buying and finding another use for. I use this milkglass soap dish to hold our sponge.

It’s lovely and a better alternative than buying something new. Soap dishes could also hold jewelry, business cards, or keys.

I have kind of a Thing for vintage utensils, and not just because many of them are better made than what you can find now (although that’s true), but because everything on this counter came from various members of my family. You could plot my whole family tree just by tracking down the original owners of things found in my kitchen cupboards. This is true.

Giving the utensil bin a cursory glace while thrifting is always worth it, because of the quality of many of the older goods. I’ve seen lovely, solidly built nutcrackers for 19 cents! And look at that potato masher. It doesn’t fuck around. It’s heavy. The only thing to watch out for is rust. You can salvage an item that has a bit of rust if you work out of it, but you never want rust to contaminate your food, so be careful.

I really want to make at least a brief mention of the bowls I keep on my counter here, although I probably should cover them in more detail in another post. Mostly because my sweet potato has sprouted it kind of horrifies my husband. Also the grapes are halfway to raisins and I’ve left all the bottles for my various medical conditions out. There it is, folks. Now you can see what it takes to keep me relatively healthy and in good enough health that I don’t have to bitch about it on the internet all the time. But all these bowls on the counter are thrifted and they play a vital role in my kitchen.

I am lucky enough to have a large counter with bar seating. This means I can stack my lovely thrifted bowls on the counter in a way that hospitably offers snacks of fruit and maybe some nuts to visitors and also keeps vegetables handy so I know what I have to cook with. This set up also encourages healthy snacking in my family.  I have two vintage wire bowls. I am all about these bowls. I had similar heart bowls that were in my shop for awhile.

Well, I think that covers the pantry. As you can see, I use vintage and secondhand items in my daily life all over the house. Not everything you find while thrifting is going to be a huge score, but you might find something that turns out to be so useful it’s worth what little you paid for it many times over.

Thrifted Home Tour: The Nursery

13 Jun

I have put off writing this post for the Thrifted Home Tour for about a year now because of PPD, and although I’ve technically never done the library or the guest bedroom either, the nursery was the room I balked at. For almost two years my sister lived in our guest bedroom so that room was off limits, and our home library has needed a lot of work so I never really took pictures of it to include it in the tour, although I should just for the awesome green vintage filing cabinet alone. I did post photos of the office/library here and you can see years-old photos of some vintage goodness in the guest bedroom on flickr, including the trunk that came over with my family from Sweden. It held all their worldly goods and you can still see the address to “Amerika” carved on the side.  You can read the previous installments of the Thrifted Home Tour here.

(What is the Thrifted Home Tour? I’m glad you asked! I’ve decorated my entire home with vintage goods either passed down from family members or found while trolling estate sales or thrift stores. I am showing off different rooms of my house to display how thrifted items can be worked into the décor to be useful and inspiring items. Partially it’s because I’d love to promote my vintage Etsy shop, and partially because that’s just how I roll. I think more people should decorate their home with thrifted goods. Here’s why .)

I made these curtains myself from Heather Ross fabric I ordered from someplace online. They look horrible, and this is because I tried to make them after I went on maternity, and getting down on the ground with a giant belly to cut fabric was DUMB. Don’t try it at home.

The nursery set got a lot of views on flickr and I still occasionally get emails from people about something that was in the photos or if they can use a shot for something. It was featured on Esty, Ohdeedoh, and Spearamint Baby. I had the most fun creating this room and I can’t wait do to it all over again when the time comes. We had a miniscule budget but I managed to put this room together by shopping thrift stores, Etsy, and my own family’s hand-me-downs.

I guess I should start explaining things now since I’m several photos into the tour. The chair in the photo above belonged to my grandparents, as did the side table next to it. The chair itself is pretty gross one side. All the cats decided it was the perfect scratching post, but I chose that chair not for its looks but for its comfort. I’ve slept in that chair while cradling the newborn Isobel many times, as has Anthony and I think maybe even my sister and mother. The pillow in the chair was an old one I bought for my first apartment at MacFrugals. It is UG-LY, but I bought a ten dollar pillow cover from Etsy seller Lindylou2. I still love it.

The blanket that’s draped over the chair was handmade by a coworker’s mother, and the one draped across the crib was made by Anthony’s Grandma.

I bought some cheap album frames from CB2 and filled them with record album covers from the thrift store with the exception of Sgt Pepper, which was my parents. My mom actually saw the Beatles at the Cow Palace way back in the day and I talk about it at every chance I get. Because DUDE she saw THE BEATLES. The magazine holder next to the chair came from my grandparents and we filled it with storybooks that we now read to her at bedtime.

Anthony and I scored both the bookcase and the dresser from a yardsale from an old neighbor. My Dad painstakingly painted the dresser pink but we left the shelf the way it was. All told I think we spent about fifty or sixty bucks for the set. Our buddy Jose gave us the thrifted “How Things Work” books which are amazing and have since been saved for Isobel for when she’s older. I miraculously came upon some old, hardbound Highlights for Children books at a book sale, and one of the doll’s quilts was thrifted as well.

The vintage print was found in a Costa Rican fairytale book from the library. I made a color copy and framed it an an old frame from an Estate sale. I got the wooden mushrooms from Etsy seller craftsty. Isobel now uses them as part of her cooking set. I got the firefly jar lights from etaknamdoow.

The closet was filled with clothes that were gifts plus a few things I picked up while thrifting or were hand-me-downs. People’s generosity was so overwhelming, it’s bursting at the seams. I decided it needed to be organized so I made these closet dividers for it and I posted a tutorial here.

I created a template for these guys that’s available for free over here.

I still use these to organize Isobel’s clothes, though we’re running to the end of the sizes I made them for. They are really lovely,  but I’m not going to lie–they were a lot of work. But seriously, they are useful, so check out the closet divider tutorial and see if you can streamline the process for yourself.

The changing table we scored for I think fifteen bucks at my favorite local thrift store, and the baskets underneath all came from Target. You can find where to purchase the cloth diaper pail liner here, and the pail itself is actually an unused garbage pail bought new from Target. You can see the lovely pink dresser my dad painted, too.

The cats above the changing table were purchased for fifteen bucks at an antique store, and Isobel used to look up at them and giggle when she was just a few months old. The old hamper next to the changing table (the wooden one) was my grandpa’s and back then I used it as a table to store wipes, powder and other essentials. Once Isobel was mobile enough to get into them I moved them to the dresser. The hamper now stores all of her dress up clothes.

I got a lot of comments on Isobel’s crib, and I wish I still had a link for it. We bought it relatively cheaply from the Babies R Us website. It was a moderately priced crib, so maybe $250? Cute modern cribs were so expensive and after striking out on Craigslist we just went ahead and bought this one. The joke’s on us though! Isobel coslept for all but about three months of her life. Hopefully kid #2 will spend more quality time here.

We ordered the decal off Etsy but I’m not going to post a link. I didn’t have a great experience with that seller so I’m not going to link to them. A quick search for “vinyl decal” or “wall decal” will yield more results than you eve r thought possible, so scour Etsy if you’re looking for something similar.

There’s sweet Peachie, sleeping on the changing table. I miss him and Tinkerbell incredibly.

This butterfly mobile is so gorgeous. It was custom made for us by Etsy seller Khamm75 and in full disclosure I have to say that I adore this seller. We convo’d a bit and she liked my photos of the mobile so much she offered to buy them for use in her listings. I had my eye on this birth date print so we arranged a trade, and now when you click on mobile listing you see my photos. She is super nice, great to work with, and her shop is filled with gorgeous wares.

It looks amazing above the crib next to the mobile.

There’s my sweet Peachie boy again.

I found this vintage owl picture while thrifting and a friend of mine said the owls look really pissed off. I didn’t think that before but ever since she said that, I always think that and it makes me giggle. They do look kind of miffed. It  adds to their charm. Below it is this great vintage brass lightswitch plate purchased from Etsy seller lexigirlcreations. I looked through a lot of light switch covers (so that’s what I did with all that carefree, childless time!) and it was by far the best.

The woodland animal pictures were handmade a long time ago and I found them while thrifting for ten cents each. The first picture is a chipmunk on a mushroom and the second features a fox and some butterflies. I luff them. Below is a yellow thrifted bowl that I keep Isobel’s hair accessories in and a thrifted bowl decorated with babies playing ping pong on it. I use that bowl for storing the rubber bands that I used to keep infant socks together. The light is vintage Irmi from the seventies. It was actually in my nursery and my mom saved it! The gold frame was also thrifted but the adorable ABC print inside came from Etsy seller studiolyon. She was another fantastic seller to work with. I also spent an inordinate amount of time researching ABC prints because I had seen so many fantastic ones featured on design sites and they were all at least $50 before shipping. This one was awesome and nine dollars. I guess sales exploded after I put up the nursery set since it was featured at different places and she sent me an email thanking me. Which is ridiculous, because we should be thanking her for producing lovely art affordably.

I found this frame and the mushroom plaque while thrifting.

This is what Isobel looked like most of the time while in her crib: awake. Here she’s chilling next to some elephants a great aunt made for me as a baby.

Isobel’s closet was ridiculous from before she was even born. We got tons of clothes as gifts but got even more things handed down from cousins and friends. I saved some of the really cute gift bags from her shower and used them as closet organization and storage for things like slings and receiving blankets.

There’s my sweet Tinky, hiding in the closet.

I didn’t get this footstool till later on during a yard saling expedition, but it was nice to have.

And I’m going to end with a photo of Tinky, who probably slept in the crib more often than Isobel.

Little Big Links: Hair Clips

1 Jun

So, I guess I’m still talking about Easter. I guess this is just an example of how busy I’ve been, and how busy every parent must be, for that matter. Anyway, during the Easter holiday I decided that Isobel’s unruly locks needed some cute hairclips, if not to tame it than at least to accessorize it. After an exhaustive search through Etsy I settled on these poppy clips by my twitter friend Emily Bilbrey. I think hair accessories are the perfect sort of gift for a girl’s Easter basket because they are budget-friendly and are a more modern and fun take on the Easter hat tradition. Next year I plan to get my stuff together and fill her basket with handmade goodness.

Here she is modeling the clip while playing her current favorite game: seatbelt. It’s where she takes a cord or a string or a shoelace or a cat toy or anything she can get her hands on (in this case, an actual belt) and makes it into her “seatbelt.” It’s not enough to strap herself in. She’ll attempt to strap every stuffed animal or toy in the nearby radius in with her. This will usually keep her occupied for a good ten minutes.

Also please note her unicorn is wearing pants. If you were to ask, Isobel would tell you that there are two kinds of pants in this world: 1. pants that are pink, and 2. pants that are too tight. She’s pretty much refusing to wear anything that isn’t pink at this point and if you try to even suggest wearing pants that are <gasp> brown, or blue, or any other color but pink, she will emphatically tell you no! Too tight! Pants too tight! PINK ONES! One day Isobel couldn’t decide between #1 pink pants and #2 pink pants so she asked my mom to put the extra pants on Unico2.

We were really hoping Isobel would win the genetic lottery and receive (among other things) Anthony’s family’s thick lustrous hair. No such luck. I’ll forever be apologizing to her for this. She did however get Anthony’s eyelashes, a total win. That’s why she’s wearing two clips–she needs extra clipping power.

I really think Emily’s shop is the best place to find adorable children’s hair clips (and crowns, and other fun things). I searched all through Etsy and it was still my favorite. But I did find several other cute hair clips to share with you.

Poppy Clips: still my favorite.

Felt Owl Clip: Owl lovers, prepare to swoon.

Vintage Button Hair Clips: vintage buttons attached to regular clips. Not just for kids!

Button Flower Clippies: unique and fun without being cutesy.

Crochet Bird Clip: I love crocheted hair accessories.

Polka Dot Clips: Rainbow polkadots FTW.

Ribbon Clips: That color palatte has me drooling.

No Slip Grips: if you have baby fine hair like the women of my family, this is a godsend.

Easter Basket Inspiration

31 May

Here it is, nearly June, and I’m writing a post about Isobel’s Easter basket. I should probably feel ashamed of myself. But I won’t! Because I’m a shameless hussy. I’m hoping that someone will eventually come along and want ideas for a toddler’s Easter basket so I’m posting this in the hopes of finding that person. You sure are special, whomever you are. Plus, I like the photos too much not to post.

In a move that’s sure to spark controversy (which parentning decision isn’t?) I didn’t put any candy in Isobel’s Easter basket. She doesn’t need any and I knew she’d be going to an egg hunt later. Aslo one of her grandmas is a little liberal with the sugar so figured she’d be getting candy from multiple sources and I didn’t need to be one of them. I was right. So right in fact, that we’re going into June and she still has uneaten Easter candy in the cupboard.

For all I don’t agree with giving toddlers candy, it sure is cute to see her eat a piece of chocolate. Before she’s even finished chewing the last ibit she’s already asking for more, face smeared and sticky, lisping through the mouthful of sugar.

 I have a love-hate relationship with children’s gift giving. I love shopping and dreaming up fun things to give her. I hate the inevitable junkpile. Add to that the fact that last year we were so strapped for cash we couldn’t afford to give her toys in her first Easter basket (not even cheap ones) and Easter becomes another guilt-laden holiday associated with presents, hiding its deeper meaning: Cadbury eggs & marshmallow peeps. But I digress. This year we could buy her modest presents, so I did.

 I had a bit of a dilemma with this year’s gifts, as I always seem to do. As much as I abhor clutter I’m not so cruel as to think that my child should grow up without toys. On the whole my philosophy is to get her toys that last, that I don’t feel guilty spending my money on. Of course I’m not the only one buying her toys, but I prefer things that will last, things that will be played with often. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how I agonized over the shovel set. It’s plastic and crappy and obviously meant for a baby. Shouldn’t I get her a metal set that would last? In the end, my concern for her injuring herself or others won out, and I gave her an admittedly cheapie shovel and rake set. The good news is that she’s using the hell out of them, and at least once a day she asks to got outside so she can “dig for wormies.” She’d take them to bed if we let her, and she’s left the house for Grandma’s with those in her hands.

 She loves the butterfly kneeling pad, but she doesn’t understand its true purpose yet. When I sat on it to play with her outside she got pretty upset. It’s for your butt, little girl. Get used to it.

 (Easter is the perfect time of year to practice your power-lifting skills.)

 Plastic plates are truly essential at our house right now, as she’s too rough on dishes to be trusted with dangerously breakable porcelain. She loves this chickie plate and the matching blue gingham bunny plate. I didn’t get a photo of that one because as soon as she found her basket she ate wanted to eat breakfast off that plate. She’s still using them because in Isobel’s opinion, bunnies and chickies never go out of style, even when the seasons change.

She looks like a teenager here. I blame Easter.

Isobel’s Bubble-Themed Party

12 Apr


I have so many pictures and things to say about Isobel’s party I’m going to break it up into two posts to give your scrollin’ finger a break. This first post is going to deal with the nuts and bolts of the party; the set up, our ideas, our theme. If you’re looking for party inspiration or want to know how I narrowly avoided a visit from a clown, you’ve come to the right post. The next party post will focus on the ridiculousness that occurs when you get a bunch of toddlers together, stuff them full of cake, and then let them run around for a couple of hours. In short, hilarity.


If you remember, there was a lot of back and forth discussion in the family about what to do for the party. My MIL loves a good party, and not only that, she loves to throw a good party. I am not exaggerating at all when I say some of the best parties I’ve ever been to where thrown by my MIL. House parties, dance parties, birthday parties, family parties—Anthony’s whole family really knows how to have a good time, and Anthony’s Mom especially, knows how to organize it. And Isobel is just the light of her life. When she thought ‘birthday party’ she wanted to pull out all the stops: bounce house, clowns, face painting, free ponies in the gift bags.


Anthony and I wanted the complete opposite, and besides, we thought she was too young to enjoy such an elaborate party. It was a bit frustrating trying to come to an agreement, but you know, every child should be so lucky to have a grandparent so involved in their life, so invested in their care and happiness, that they would be excited to organize an entire circus around their birthday. And even though my MIL desperately wanted to go all out, she was always respectful to Anthony and me.


We decided to go with a bubble theme, but I use that term very loosely. For example, I looked for bubble-themed invitations, but I didn’t like any that I found. I took some photos of bubbles incase I wanted to turn one of those into an invitation, but ultimately I decided to go with the invitation above, which I made in Photoshop. It doesn’t obviously scream BUBBLES! but I liked it the best. Honestly, we could have gotten really involved in this bubble theme, but we decided that what we wanted most was to relax and enjoy the party. We played fast and loose with the bubble theme and that worked for us.





We hung lanterns and used polka dot tablecloths and streamers to play on the bubble theme. We purchased a bunch of small beach balls online, as well as two large red balls the kids could fit inside of. They were round! Like bubbles! But more importantly, the kids loved them. My MIL also sprung for an inflatable bowling set, which the kids loved but didn’t use as intended. It didn’t match the theme, but we didn’t care.

Anthony’s grandma insisted on cooking the bulk of the meal, even though well over sixty people were there. This is no big deal for Grandma: she can host a party for 100, do all the cooking, and not bat an eye. We were willing to hire a caterer but she wouldn’t hear of it. She made her amazing rice and beans, salsa and condiments, and my FIL cooked up meat for tacos that we bought, preseasoned, from a dive restaurant in Ceres that makes the most amazing food. People would not stop raving about the tacos.

Along with the balls, of course we had to have… bubbles. These were a big hit with all the kids, no matter the age group.

I love that even the very little kids knew exactly what to do.

At one point, Angela caught Isobel with her hands wrist-deep in the bubble solution, pretending to wash them.

We covered one of the tables with butcher paper and my MIL purchased a bunch of paper crowns for the kids to decorate. We had crayons and jewel stickers and adhesive letters. All the kids loved these, even the big kids.

A couple people made crowns for Isobel, which was really sweet.

Here’s another shot of the giant ball.

Everyone loved the giant ball.

The swing set had been installed in Grandma’s back yard as a Christmas present to the kids. We have several young children in the family right now. Party goers took full advantage.

We had ZERO kids throw fits at this party. It felt like a miracle, but I also think it was due to the fact that there were so many different activities to engage them. The only crying is remember is when Noah, a two year old himself, had to go home. He didn’t want to leave the bubble party. How can you blame him?

The cake was a regular sheet cake from Costco. We could have gotten all theme-y with it, too, but we liked the cheerful rainbow on it.

So there you have it: how to have a relaxed, no fuss, lightly themed-birthday party.

Thrifted Home Tour: The Kitchen

3 Mar


I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so in away, we were really lucky that it was renovated by the slightly deranged woman who lived here before we moved in. Lucky in that I’m sure the counters were in terrible condition (plus they were tile) the linoleum on the floor was most likely trashed, and she sprang for a few fancy upgrades: Corian counters and a fancy sink and faucet set by Kohler.

We weren’t particularly lucky in the fact that she chose a color for the counters (speckled navy blue) that I don’t get along with, and if that wasn’t enough, she had the cupboards painted turquoise. The walls were hastily painted the same bright blue color. She added unnecessary hardware to the cabinets and aggressively decorated the kitchen in a theme that can only be described as “Fork and Spoon.” Because she worked a fork and a spoon in everywhere she could, from giant ones on the walls, to very expensive (and very weird) drawer pulls.

Frankly, I’d like to redo the whole thing over again but we don’t have the money and since everything works fine, I could never justify it.

At least we got some nice floors out of the deal. They may be laminate, but at least they aren’t linoleum.


The thrifted touches in the kitchen are subtle, but they’re there. All the way in the corner is the infamous Keep Calm poster, which I scored on etsy for cheap. The frame, for once, was purchased from Target. The giant cutting board is one of my favorite things in the kitchen, but it’s old and beat up and due for some love. It was from a trip we took to Ikea in 2003 when we were outfitting our first apartment.


The two plates you see on the wall were originally a set of three. They are vintage and were given to me from my aunt. Unfortunately, I trusted the also vintage plate hanger on the back to hold them in place, and it disintegrated, and when it fell the plate dashed to pieces. I was very sad about this until recently, when my in-laws gave me a box of vintage treasure that had belonged to a deceased relative. In it was a plate, nearly identical to the one that broke.


All these bowls on my counter are vintage, and I keep them there constantly so fruit and vegetables are close at hand. Oh, wait, I forgot: the black bowl isn’t vintage. The Waltons gave it to me years ago. But everything else is.

This Vogue poster is very special to me. It was one of the first presents Anthony ever bought me. We were in high school at the time, both living with our parents, carless. He walked from his house to the antique store down town. He knew I had my eye on it. So he bought it, and walked from the antique store to my parents’ house to give it to me. Yeah, he’s a keeper.


I used to keep a bunch of terrariums on the kitchen counter, and I’d use that white sake server to water them. (With water. Not sake.) It was a wedding present from cousins. The brown pepper grinder is from our town’s Fancy Thrift Shop, the one I volunteered at, and was relatively expensive since it is Peugeot. Growing up I had a Peugeot bicycle. I didn’t know they made pepper grinders, too. I scored the Viking jewelry dish at an estate sale for $1 and I love it heartily. It’s supposed to be for jewelry but I cleaned it out and it makes the perfect salt cellar. Lastly, we have The Fish. It’s our bottle opener and it belonged to my Papa. It was my favorite thing to play with at their house and is inlaid with abalone shell from Alaska.


I probably should have gotten a better shot of the stuff on top of my fridge, because a lot of it is vintage. All of it is passed down from family, except from the coffee tin.


As you can see we have a glass-top electric range. Most homes in the valley have electric ranges, and I never used a gas range until we stayed at my aunt’s house in Half Moon Bay. Being able to actually smell gas while I cooked, no matter how slight, was very unnerving. I never got used to it.

The tea towels I got from Target. I have a crush on tea towels and found a bunch on etsy that I regularly visit and drool over.

You’ll notice we have two microwaves in our kitchen. One is The Untouchable microwave. It sits, in all its 80s glory, over the stove, and I avoid it like it causes cancer. Then we have our trusty little white duder, a wedding present from Grandma. The one over the stove was here when we moved in and I’ve yet to figure out how it works. I didn’t even bother to clean it out when we moved in. Why bother? I’m never going to use it. The only reason we haven’t taken it down is that it is directly connected to the venting system for the stove.


Above my trusty microwave is a vintage cheese spreader set. I’m kicking myself for not getting a better photo of it because it’s pretty rad. The top is inlaid with a marble tile for resting your cheese on, and the little door slides out to reveal a velvet-lined tray with all your cheese-slicing tools.

The little green dish, sadly chipped, is thrifted as well.


The tea in these containers is almost gone, but I love the tins and plan to keep them out forever. I bought them in Chinatown.


In yet another homage to my heritage, we have two Viking ship salt and pepper cellars. They were my Grandma’s.

Here we have the toaster oven. I couldn’t run a kitchen without a toaster oven. Sure, they tend to break, burn your food, and occasionally catch fire, but damn those things are HANDY. The phone hanging above the toaster obviously isn’t vintage (yet) but it is obsolete. After years of wanting to cancel our land line, we were finally able to. Our wireless phone is now an amusing toy for our daughter.

On top of the toaster we have a vintage tin that I keep tea in (the brown one), thrifted shell salt and pepper shakers, and some 1950’s monkeypod wood bowl. I love to keep cherry tomatoes there when in season.


Lastly, my cat Zorro, who was totally thrifted in that we got him secondhand: from a shelter.

This post is part VII in my multi-part series called the Thrifted Home Tour. I am showing off different rooms of my house to display how thrifted items can be worked into the décor to be useful and inspiring items. Partially it’s because I’d love to promote my vintage Etsy shop, and partially because that’s just how I roll. You can find parts one through six here.