Ikea Kitchens: Worth It?

The store Ikea has always been a “Happy Place” for me. When I lived in California I would go to Ikea when I was sad or lonely for home and wander the isles oohing and aahing at the adorable and perfect displays. The pink walls that I wouldn’t dare to paint, the giant light globes and little square coffee tables. I was surprised that amongst the bargains they had kitchens too. Were they as cheap as the rest of the store? I was hoping that Ikea wouldn’t make flimsy pre-fab cabinets that any Joe could have build with some wood and hinges. But alas, they were amazing cabinets with attachments, and roll out sliding drawers that didn’t slam shut, shiny dent proof door fronts and huge pantries. Of course they can cost a little more than the average cabinet. They ARE more than the average cabinet. Questioning the construction? Check out this Ikea link on Debunking the Myths of their cabinets.

Turn your kitchen old into a new gourmet kitchen.

Their cheapest white sink base is only $53, with it’s little metal feet and basic square shape. That’s cheaper than an unfinished oak cabinet at your local box home improvement store. Their most pricy is around $337 with swing out shelves, faux wood front and silver legs. That’s top of the line, seeing that a 10 linear foot AKURUM kitchen can only be $859. For a new kitchen, that’s a steal. Ikea also has a ton of sorters and organizers to turn the even most basic cabinet into a clean, easy to find machine.

Gorgeous white Ikea kitchen cabinets.

According to reviews on Apartment Therapy, Ikea cabinets are worth the money, and the best looking for a small budget, and after your renovation, you can use the money you save on fantastic Energy Star appliances and stone counter tops. Why not give it a try?

I would live in here in a heartbeat.

I would recommend driving to the Ikea with a friend, and 2 big vehicles to pick out and pick up your goodies. You can meet with a kitchen expert who can help you order your kitchen and all of it’s components. They also offer measurement, delivery and installation services. While you’re there get your kids some stuffed animals, and have some lunch. It’s like a toy store, for an adult.

Happy renovating!


Little Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

I’m always trying to think of how to lessen my carbon footprint on this planet. I was once asked about ways to reduce your carbon footprint and jokingly replied “Have little feet!” I mean I want to make my mark in the world, but not in the way of big carbon footprints. Here’s some things I do to help out, and some things you can do too.

My eco-friendly purchase of the day. Tag reads “Dishwasher safe. Because nobody likes to clean” Ha ha. 

Turn off the lights. I know this is a simple one, but turning off the lights when you leave a room, the house, etc is a good energy saver. Don’t forget that little one above the stove.

Don’t worry too much about night lights. Try to get one with an LED light, which costs about 7 cents a year to run, where an older style bulbed one costs about $2 a year.

Take your own bags to the store. If you can remember, take your own bags to the grocery store, convenient store, or pharmacy. If you are a girl and have a big purse, this helps too. Then you don’t end up with a stockpile of plastic bags. Sure you can recycle them if you have too many, but why start that collection? We use them for little trash cans and whatnot so they can come in handy. And some grocery stores give you a discount for bringing your own bags.

Save toilet water. Did you know that by putting a 1 liter (full) bottle of rocks (for weight) and water in your toilet tank actually reduces the amount of water your toilet uses with each flush, and doesn’t affect the performance of the toilet? Give it a try.

Get an LED TV instead of a LCD. The Light Emitting Diodes are actually more energy efficient than Liquid Crystals.

Re-useable water bottles and coffee cups. I noticed that when I drink something out of a straw, I tend to drink more. (This explains a lot when I go to bars and get a cocktail vs beer…) But it’s good when I’m at work, I drink more water. You save the planet a little plastic, and save money every time you use your own cup at Starbucks. Most coffee shops will even give you a discount when you bring your own cup. Just ask.

Use a dishwasher, when you can. I know washing the dishes by hand can be cathartic, but using a dishwasher saves you more water (37% on average) than when you wash a load by hand, leaving the water running. And try to run the dishwasher when it’s full, not half full.

Look for a dishwasher with the energy star logo, and one with a built in garbage disposal. Less rinsing before hand.

Take a short shower. When I can, I like to take a shower to music, and get out before the third song is done. This way, I save water, and don’t stand there contemplating the universe for 30 minutes, wasting time and money. A 4 minute shower uses 20-40 gallons of water.

Use a paper bag for paper recyclables. We line a can with a plastic bag for bottles and cans, because they can be messy. But we use a paper bag for cardboard and paper recyclables. Hey, you’re recycling the bag with the cardboard, and using one less plastic bag. Remember NOT to recycle pizza boxes with cheese in them though, the cheese jams machines used to break down cardboard.

Un-Plug electronics not in use. Did you know most chargers keep pulling energy from the wall even if nothing is plugged into them? Be sure to unplug phone, computer, and other electronic chargers when not in use. Better yet, keep them on a surge protector, and shut the whole thing off.

Buy Soy Candles. Soy candles not only smell cleaner and burn cleaner, they also burn longer. Soy wax doesn’t emit parrafin (black smokey stuff) into the air like regular candles. Hey, cleaner walls! They may cost a little more, but they last way longer, so it’s a win in the long run.

Soy candles usually come in neat decorative jars. I love the Wood Wick candles, they crackle like a fireplace when they burn.

Daily Shopping Common Sense. Try to buy items made in the United states, because that item most likely used less energy to produce, with less distance to ship. Look for items with less/ and or recycled packaging. Look for items where you can recycle the packaging. Think about impulse items long before you buy them. If you don’t need them, (3 for the price of 2!), save the money, and the waste of packaging by not buying them. Look for items like cleaners and paint that are “organic” or “good for the planet” because they will emit less Volatile Organic Compounds into the air, and into your lungs.

Be a vegetarian! That’s right. I’m saving the animals, AND saving the planet. The meat production industry leads the nation in polution. I don’t want to contribute to that. Plus, I don’t like eating animals.

Walk, don’t drive. We purposly moved into a downtown area so we could walk to restaurants, the gas station for quick items, and the local Shopko for stuff like cat food and dish soap. We are close to a budget theater, mexican restaurant that we frequent, and a few bars for late night entertainment. Walking is good for the body, and good for the planet.

I took this while apartment hunting a year ago. I knew right then I wanted to live in this little downtown neighborhood. This pic is of a historical Hotel that has a restaurant and bar.

Learn to craft & cook. I love to sew, paint, cook, and craft in general. If you can adapt these skills, you can make blankets out of fabric scraps, stitch socks with little holes so you don’t have to throw them out and get new ones, paint a piece of art for the wall, alter a shirt that’s too big, fix the lining of your pocket that has come undone, cook a meal with ingredients from the farmer’s market, and fix broken items with your awesome super glue skills.

Shop at the Thrift store. I shop at thrift stores for clothes, books, home accessories, and furniture. It’s stuff that’s already been loved and around for a while, and keeps me from buying brand new when I don’t have to. I love to treasure hunt at Goodwill and find an awesome new coat or broken in jeans. Plus, that money goes to a good cause.

See! There are SO many things you can do to help the planet. Most of you are probably already doing them, and don’t even realize it! Pat yourself on the back for being a green machine. I don’t know about you, but I want to leave this earth in better shape for my (future) children and teach them about the importance of being earth friendly.

What do you do to help the planet?

Happy tiny footprint leaving!

Stylin’ Glasses for Low Dough

I was in need of some new glasses recently, only due to the fact that i’ve stylishly outgrown mine. So it was more of a want than a need, per say. But I’m in between insurance carriers right now (the way one is between jobs) and a new pair at a store can cost me anywhere between $300 and $500 and beyond for an exam, frames, lenses… so I opted for asking around, and shopping online. I popped into the old eye doctor, and had them write down my prescription for me so I could order online. (NOT telling them that was my intention. I hate to bruise egos.) I found a few really cool sites that you can  choose frames, punch in your prescription, and within weeks, have new frames sent to your door for as little as $15!

Zenni Optical boasts ridiculously low prices ranging from $6.95 and up for frames and lenses. You can add anti-glare coating and clip on sunglasses for as little as $4. You can even get yourself some prescription sunglasses.

There’s a wide selection of awesome and colorful frames.

Here’s a snap of me in my $20 specs.

Warby Parker is another site that offers glasses for $95, and that includes shipping, frames, lenses, and free return shipping in case something goes awry. They also provide a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair they sell. How awesome is that?

They have a neat selection of vintage inspired frames. And by creating them themselves they can afford to keep costs low and save you money.

They are also a Carbon Neutral company. “We actively work to reduce our environmental impact. In fact, we’re one of the only carbon-neutral eyewear brands in the world. We’ve mapped out all of our greenhouse gas emissions from frame production to shipping to warehousing to office work and have purchased carbon offsets accordingly.” PLUS- hold up. They have monocles. What?! I know. Pretty nifty.

There’s also BonLook, an eye ware company that has prescription frames + lenses and sunglasses for just $99. And like Warby Parker, they have free Carbon Neutral Shipping.

They boast of a “Pay It Forward” where BonLook has joined in on the great work of the nonprofit organization Helen Keller International (HKI) by donating 1% of its sales to HKI’s ChildSight® program in New York, which seeks to improve the vision and academic potential of low-income children who have limited access to basic vision care.

Here’s just a few of their stylish looks. Happy glasses hunting! I know you’ll look stunning!

Guest Post: Preparing Your Home Prior to Move

After having planned to move to a new place, you start making preparations for the move. Relocation is a big project, as it is associated with a lot of moving fears. Though you take all necessary precautions to make sure that none of your possessions gets damaged in transit, you seldom think of preparing your new home before you actually move into it.

There are some obvious reasons behind that. Your new home might be at a distant place within your country or you might be moving overseas. It is really difficult to inspect and improve the condition of your new abode, if you are arriving from a far off place. Though, you can always request the landlord or the previous owner to make sure that end of tenancy cleaning is arranged weeks ahead of your moving date.

On the other hand, if your new home is located in your area or in the same city, it becomes easier for you to prepare it for moving, well ahead of moving date. Moving is a cumbersome task, and it can become all the more tiring, if you do not prepare your new home. Checking the property ahead of time and making the changes you want will help you reduce moving stress. Here are a few thing that you must take care of while preparing your new home:

Inspection of the property

No matter, whether you are going to rent a home or are buying one, you must conduct an inspection to make sure that it is ready to be used. If there are damages, deal with them before you actually move into it.

1. Interior: As far as the interior of the home is concerned you may face defects like, dripping faucets, light bulbs that are not working and dirty window panes. You can also hire professional cleaners to clean the chimney or dirty roof. Inspect the roof for any broken shingle and check the bathrooms for fixing plumbing leaks. Similarly squeaking doors can be greased before you actually start using them.

2. Exterior: See if the house needs to be painted. If you have a garden, mow the lawn and clear debris like loose branches. If the shingles need to be replaced, do it before hand. Clean the garage before you start using it. You can always hire handyman if you do not have enough time to do these cleaning jobs.

Contact utility providers:

How does it feel to move in a home without electricity and power supply. It will make you feel more tired. Call the different utility providers ahead of time. You must apply for other connections like internet and telephone well in advance.

Make a design plan of your new home to decide what furniture item should be placed in which corner. Measure the space to avoid confusion when you actually arrive with your bag and baggage.

by Adam Williams. Aussie Handyman Service is based out of the UK.

Contact Adam here. 

Things to Do With Fabric Scraps

If you and anything like me, and love to sew and craft, and a fabric hoarder/ scrap keeper, you have piles of little pieces of fabric lying around and don’t know what to do with them. I work at a design studio that is constantly having discontinued fabric pieces that are little squares, and I love to come up with things to do with them, but sometimes, my creativity is at a loss. Thanks to my new favorite resource Pinterest, I can help myself, and you! There are so many good ideas out there with the tutorials, it’s like being spoiled by the internet, in a good way.

You can create these coffee cup cozy covers. Save a tree, and save some money!

There isn’t a DIY tutorial, but you can check these bunnies out on Harabu House. If you have extra felt lying around, you can create a simple little stuffed bunny. Write a little note to those you love, and stitch it inside the bunny, and send it to a loved one with your secret message.

How about this awesome Shower Curtain? This one was made with fabric scraps and a surger. You can use a simple sewing machine if you aren’t lucky enough to own a surger.

This is a cute little Clutch that wouldn’t use much fabric, and you can mix and match.

Do you know someone having a baby? I do! (I’m going to be an auntie!) You can make so many baby crafts… bibs, blankets, stuffed animals, rags, little pants… The list is endless, and baby supplies are always needed.

I just made a similar Anthropologie knock off clutch using this tutorial. I broke 5 needles in the process, but I used all fabric scraps I acquired and it turned out great! Pics to come.

These cute little boxes by Betty Joy are simple to make, and are great for many things!

How about these little Owl Rice Warmers from Just Another Hangup, you can just throw in the microwave, and soothe a sore muscle? Adorable, and a great Holiday gift!

This is a great place to stash your keys, note pad, and IPod for when you are running out the door.

I like the idea of having somewhere to put my planner, book, some business cards, a pen, and staying super organized. This tutorial by The Cottage Home can show you how to make this little organizer.

All you need is a little zipper and you can make this little pouch for your credit card, driver’s license, and keys.

Now that you have some ideas, get going! Make a ton of little crafts, and set them aside for birthday presents, Holiday gifts, and Hostess gifts. Happy Sewing!

2 Ingredient Winter Soup

The other week the Design team and I went to the bosses house for a wine and TV night, and the boss presented all of us with her favorite soup. After we were all raving about how delicious it was, she shared with us her secret recipe, and we were shocked to find out it only had 2 ingredients! I’ll spill the good news with you:

Step 1: the Soup-

This delicious soup is Organic, and available at local grocers in the organic/ all natural section. I got mine at the World Market in their food section.

Step 2: Add Pesto-

Once you bring your soup to a nice simmer on the stove, you add a few scoops of pre-made Pesto, to your taste specifications. I added 3 small spoon-fulls stirring well after adding. I got this Pesto at the World Market too. This is the BEST store bought Pesto I’ve ever found, and at only $4 it was a steal!

After your yummy soup is all done, you can add shaved italian cheese to the top like a nice parmesan and have some sliced toasted french bread for dipping and you have a delicious gourmet meal right at home. So fantastic for a cold night. We had it last night after we put our Christmas Tree up. What’s your favorite family recipe?

Frugal Birthday Gift Ideas

With my birthday coming up… TOMORROW I wanted to write a post to help others come up with some fun and frugal gift ideas for birthday presents or activities.

Scavenger Hunt: This one isn’t new to many people. If you want an activity that last all day long, come up with a set of riddles and clues, each clue leading to another destination with yet another clue and at the end, a Birthday Present. Or make it a photo hunt. Give the Birthday person a list of photos that must be taken before receiving a prize. The photos could be colored objects, landmarks in your town, or certain people.

Visit Local Spots: Most local places in your town that are entertaining are, you guessed it: FREE! Check out the Zoo, Library (Free to check out books, and Rentals on movies), Museum, Art Gallery, or you can go places that cost little money like the Ice Rink, Budget Movie Theater, or Beaches and Pools. Here are some more “Cheap Date” Ideas that you can do for your sweetheart on their birthday.

Button Making!

D.I.Y. Workshop: Green Bay has a D.I.Y. Shop where you can make presents for people you know. at D.I.Y. Studio and Gifts you can host a party and make things like Lip Balm, Head Pieces, Stamped Metal Art, Screen Printed Items, Jewelry Making, Yarn Making, and many other Crafty items.

Felt hearts filled with rice are great little hand warmers in the winter time.

This is a great idea from craftster.org. 52 things to love about someone.

Making Presents: Felt is an inexpensive and versatile fabric that can be crafted into MANY presents. Here are some ideas I’ve found in the past. And check out Part 1 and Part 2 of old posts I wrote on being your own Christmas Elf that still holds true for Birthday Gift making.

Find out what time your birthday person was born, and make them little gifts to open every hour,  ( for a 12 hour time span) or all day!

Art Supplies: As a child I would have loved to get some crafty items to create things myself. You can go to the Dollar Store first, and see what they have to offer. They could have coloring books, pencils, markers, stickers, and even a basket to put it all in. Then you can go to your local box store (I LOVE Target and Hobby Lobby) to find what you couldn’t at the Dollar Store.

Gift Basket: This one is a given. I love to think of ideas to arrange in a basket, an idea that fits a theme is best. Say, “Italian Night” with pasta, sauce, fabric napkins, a great movie like “A Good Year” or “Under the Tuscan Sun” and some candles, all inside a new colander. Or you can do a Detective basket with a mystery book, magnifying glass, “Sherlock Holmes”, and a pen with a feather taped to the end of it, for some detective note taking.

This would be a great gift for a handy person, father, brother, or new home owner.

Make a Card: You can get some inexpensive paper at your local craft store, probably for the price of a card! And you’ll have paper left to make cards all year long!

Photo Frame with Children’s Book Picture: I did this one year for Christmas, I went to thrift stores, and found children’s books that had pictures or pages that reminded me of certain people. I also purchased frames at the thrift stores. As much as it pained me to cut the books, I took those specific pages that reminded me of people and framed them, and gave them as presents. My dad was a page from “Hop on Pop”.

Pictures: You can go onto webistes like Walgreens, or Snapfish to print some pictures of you and the Birthday Person together, and get an inexpensive frame to share the memories. You can also use sites like Shutterfly to create a special book with your photos.

A memory book like this would take a little more time, but for someone special, would be the PERFECT gift, and cherished for a long time. Via Martha Stewart, the queen of scrapbooks.

Throw a Party! Here are some ideas to throw a last minute party on a budget. You can do a BYOB or potluck to save on money. Why not throw a themed party? Dress like your favorite movie character as a child, or pick a decade, and play themed music along with playing movies in the background from that era.

Hand made invites to a special party!

It’s a Star Wars Themed Party!

Oh, and Don’t forget the Cake. Why not go to the grocery store, get the most awesome cake flavors, sprinkles, icing, candles, and little sugar figurines, and make a cake for that person? Hand crafted is way better than store bought!

Cake ideas from one of my favorite Blogs, Breakfast at Toast.

I hope I can inspire you to create a great birthday for your special loved one! Happy Birthday-ing!