Category: frugal

A January Wedding…

I love weddings, especially when they involve people I care about. One of my oldest and dearest friends is getting married in January, and I am so excited for her and her fiance. We have been friends for about 17 years, and she is one of my favorite people in the world. I’m thrilled to be one of the bridesmaids. She has is one of the most creative and original people I know, so I couldn’t wait to hear about her vision for the big day.

She sent me these pictures to capture her vision of a “Winter Woodland Wedding”. I am obsessed with it. It is so them and just perfect. So, in honor of Marci and Scott, here is a glimpse of their winter woodland wedding fantasy for your enjoyment. I’ve added in the lyrics to The Avett Brothers’ song, “January Wedding” to get us all in a wedding mood. Go listen to it!

January Wedding by The Avett Brothers

She keeps it simple
And I am thankful for her kind of lovin’
‘Cause it’s simple

No longer do we wonder if we’re together
We’re way past that

And I’ve already asked her
So in January we’re gettin’ married

She’s talkin’ to me with her voice
Down so low I barely hear her
But I know what she’s sayin’
I understand because my heart and hers are the same
And in January we’re gettin’ married

And I was sick with heartache
And she was sick like Audrey Hepburn when I met her

But we would both surrender

True love is not the kind of thing you should turn down
Don’t ever turn it down

I hope that I don’t sound to insane when I say
There is darkness all around us
I don’t feel weak but I do need sometimes for her to protect me
And reconnect me to the beauty that I’m missin’
And in January we’re gettin’ married

No longer does it matter what circumstances we were born in
She knows which birds are singin’
And the names of the trees where they’re performin’ in the mornin

And in January we’re gettin’ married
Come January let’s get married…

I’m sorry but I don’t know the source of all the photos, because they were sent to me.

Our wedding theme was a mountain fair and barn dance, with brown and robin’s egg blue as the colors. We had snow cones, a popcorn machine, a photo booth, and a Marble Slab buffet. Our ceremony was in a field and our reception in a barn.
What was your wedding vision or theme?
Or, what is your dream theme?

Hoping for Fall – A Frugal Wreath

Dear Fall Weather,
The good people of the South are pining for your arrival. We are sweating in our jeans in hopes of hurrying you along. All we are asking for is a little cold front, just a taste of things to come. You are my favorite season, after all. This 95 degree with 85% humidity madness has to end.

In honor of the fall weather that I just know is right around the corner, I decided it was time for a little frugal crafting. Hobby Lobby had wreaths and fake flowers on 50% off, so I got a grapevine wreath and a bouquet of sunflowers for under $5. Then I found a fall leaf garland at the Dollar Store. The grand total for the wreath was $6, plus the glue and scissors I already own. I’ve seen a few fall wreaths around that I’ve loved, but they cost $25-$45. Not in the budget…

I wrapped the garland around the wreath, securing it in the back in between the wires of the wreath, securing it with a little glue. I removed the flowers from their stems and covered the backs of them in glue. I wedged 3 of them in a row down into the wreath, holding them in place with pressure until the glue set.

Now I have a little simple fall festiveness to brighten up my front door.

Now if the weather will just cooperate, I will be spending a lot of time here:

Do you like the table Jed made out of our ice storm casualty? It holds a mason jar candle and will soon accommodate my drink of choice as I rock away. The mason jar candles got kicked off the front ledge to make room for the jar in the forefront, a solar powered mason-esque jar. Jed created 4 of them for our front porch. I’ll try to get him to do a tutorial. They are way cool.
Fall is my favorite season. What is yours?

Frugal Friday – Dallas Dining Under $20 Part II – Twisted Root Burger Co.

For the second installment of my Dallas Dining Under $20, we visited Twisted Root Burger Co. on SMU Blvd. It is a full bar and restaurant with a great patio and super fun atmosphere. All opinions are my own and I was in no way compensated for this review.

Twisted Root Burger Co. is a local Dallas mini-chain that rocks. They have specialty burgers for $7.99 and regular hamburgers for $5.49, game meats and buffalo burgers for $8.99, turkey and veggie burgers for $5.99, and a host of great sides for $2.99 and under. Friends of ours decided the new SMU location would be a great place for World Cup parties, and they were right. I had eaten at the Deep Ellum location, but hadn’t visited the new one until the last USA game of the World Cup. We had so much fun and the food was wonderful. If only the USA team had advanced…

Jed had a bacon cheeseburger with fries, and said it was delicious.

I had a turkey burger with goat cheese and a side of fried pickles. The goat cheese was awesome and the fried pickles were perfection.

The Twisted Root Philosophy: Three chefs, sick of eating frozen and factory-fabricated burgers, opened a real burger joint and make everything from scratch. Fresh meat patties, fresh-cut fries and sweet potato chips, homemade ice-cream, homemade pickles and homemade Root Beer…even homemade ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce! It’s slap-yo-momma good!

The price is right and the burgers are tasty. What more could you ask for?

What is your favorite burger joint?

Frugal Friday – Dallas Dinners Under $20 Part I

Since we started our Total Money Makeover one year ago, we are on a strict budget to help us reach our financial goals. We realized that we were spending WAY too much money dining out. This city has a million great restaurants to tempt us, so we had to take control of the situation. We now limit our monthly dining out budget to $150. We could easily spend that on one meal in Dallas, but we try to make it stretch as far as possible. To do that, we have to find affordable fare, and we have. I’ve decided to share our favorite Dallas dinners under $20 with y’all. The opinions are completely ours, and we are in no way affiliated with or being compensated by the restaurants.
Tony’s Pizza and Pasta has been around for a long time, and is located on Northwest Hwy in East Dallas. They advertise that everything is prepared fresh and cooked to order, and the place is BYOB. They brought garlic rolls out before the meal, for free, and I was hooked.

Shrimp Scampi – $8.95
I love shrimp, but Jed is not a seafood guy. I have to order them when we are dining out since I can’t cook them at home. To find a good shrimp dish for under $10 is pretty much a miracle, so I was really excited to try the shrimp scampi. It did not disappoint.

Calzone $4.95
Jed loves a calzone, and we actually tried this restaurant solely because they served them. He let me try one bite, and then took down the whole thing.
Overall we give Tony’s Pizza and Pasta an 8 out of 10. It was not the best meal ever, but it was definitely great for the price, and we will be back. I would say it is better than most Italian chains (Olive Garden, etc), and I prefer local, family owned anyway. If you live in DFW, check it out.
Where do you dine out on the cheap?

Frugal Friday – Saving Vacation Memories

As you have read, we were blessed to go on a fabulous beach vacation to Mexico this summer. It was incredible, and I wanted to find a way to include the memories of this trip in our home decor. I found a 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby when they already had all frames and shadowboxes marked 50% off. Awesome! I saved the free maps and brochures that we collected on our trip to use as a background collage. Using Mod Podge, I attached them to a sheet of cardstock. I added the shells we found while snorkeling, and ended up with a super cheap and easy vacation memory collage. I’ve tried scrapbooking in the past, and always found myself spending way too much money and never finishing the thing. This was much cheaper and I actually completed it in a timely fashion.

How do you preserve your vacation memories?

I’m linking to some great parties. Check out the full list here.

Hodge Podge Friday

> Photobucket

Favorite Things – Key Limeade

I hate drinking water. If I could get away with it, I would be fine drinking nothing but Diet Coke and coffee. I know I need to drink more water, so I’ve tried to find a way to make it more appealing. I love Crystal Light Peach Tea powder added to my water. Jed makes lemonade by adding lemon juice and Splenda to a glass of water. I love it. I decided to try it with my favorite flavor – key lime. Amazing. I can drink it all day long. It is great without the Splenda too. When we were at the beach in Florida, I used this little recipe to save us from the taste of the tap water. Don’t be insulted, Florida friends. We have some areas of nasty tasting water here in Texas (Frisco – I’m talking to you). We didn’t have to buy bottled water, which saved us a ton of money. So, if you are a fellow water hater, try some limeade or lemonade.

For 24 oz of water (the large Tervis Tumbler size):
add 2 packets of Splenda
2 tbsp of lemon or lime juice

Hydrate or die, people. 🙂

A Trio of Burlap and Shell Beach Shadowboxes with Tutorial

We found a ton of shells this summer, so I’m trying to find creative ways to display them. I decided to make these three little shadowboxes for my bathroom. I actually bought the sand dollar and starfish, but found the shell. I was mad because we found several sand dollars (already dead) after I bought this big one. Oh well. I’m sure I will find a home for them too.
I bought three of these 5×7 shadow boxes at Hobby Lobby for $4.50 a piece. They were on sale and cheaper than their friends because they are a weird grey color.
I taped the glass to avoid getting paint on it, and then painted all the wood with antique white paint and a foam brush. I let it dry, and then sanded it to give it a worn, beachy feel.
I cut each piece of burlap to cover the backing from the frames. I tried using Gorilla Glue first, but it didn’t hold. I definitely Gorilla glued my fingers nicely. My friend Whitney pointed out that I should use wax paper next time so I wouldn’t get glue on my fingers. She is a genius. I glued the burlap down with hardcore craft glue, and pressed it with the wax paper. You have to be careful with glue placement, because it may still show once dried.
Once the glue dried, I trimmed the burlap to fit exactly inside the frame. My frames wouldn’t allow me to wrap it and staple on the back, as I had originally planned. Then I centered each shell and glued it down, pressing for 30 seconds.
Then I put the finished product into their frames and hung them in my bathroom. I love the rustic, beachy simplicity. This project was a little time consuming, but worth the effort.

If you don’t have time to make your own, I’m selling these on Etsy, made with found shells only, for $20. Check out my Etsy site on the sidebar.

Don’t forget to link up to the Beach Week party!

I’m linking to some great parties. Check them out here.

Frugal Friday – This is Dallas.

*Image found here.

We moved to Dallas 2 years ago next week. I was immediately overwhelmed by culture shock. In Asheville, most people that we know drive used cars and dress as though they are about to go hiking. Bathing is optional and there are more white people with dreadlocks per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Dallas is all about shiny new cars, high fashion, and looking put together. Jed recently commented that he didn’t feel pretty enough to shop at Whole Foods. He went there during the lunch hour and it was like a singles’ mixer for J.Crew models.
Needless to say, my Chacos, Danskos, and Crocs do not fit in here. There is a saying here that we quickly learned to say when we are shocked by the excess and luxury that surrounds us – T.I.D. “This is Dallas.” Take one trip to North Park Mall and you will say it a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, we love it here. We love our friends and our community, but we are still overwhelmed sometimes by the excess in this town.
The Dallas Morning News (our local paper) is running a series called “Drowning in Debt” that I love. It gives a great perspective on the debt crisis in our nation and in our city. I was not surprised to read that Dallas has the 2nd highest consumer (non-mortgage) debt of any major city in our nation. I think this has a lot to do with the T.I.D./keeping up with the Jones’ attitude. In this town the Jones’ are Jerry Jones and his crew, and there is just no way to keep up.
Here is what the Dallas Morning News had to say about debt in Big D:

For the last four years, Dallas-area consumers have been dogged by debt.
During that period, the area consistently has had higher average consumer debt loads and lower average credit scores than the nation as a whole.
Among the 20 biggest U.S. metro areas, Dallas trails only Seattle in average consumer debt, according to Experian, one of the three national credit bureaus.
Dallas-area consumers in March carried average debt of $26,599 excluding mortgages, compared with a national average of $24,775, Experian said.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area also has had lower average credit scores than the rest of the nation.

To be sure, many consumers find themselves deep in debt through circumstances beyond their control. Many lose jobs and struggle to keep up with bills. For others, unexpected medical expenses overwhelm their budgets.
But personal finance experts estimate that at least 10 percent of debt woes are a direct result of overspending – pure lack of discipline.
“It’s an epidemic in our country,” said Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist and co-author of Mind Over Money. I am finding that people with excessive debt associate money and material things with increased power, status and happiness, thus leading them to overspend.
Experts say several psychological motivators drive consumers’ urge to splurge, including the desire to fit in with peers, the need to relieve stress or escape from problems, and the sense that their self-worth is derived from how much money they have to spend. Sometimes, consumers overspend just to change the way they feel.

We have no debt and plan to stay that way. But, I have definitely made purchases to fit in and dress more like my friends. I shop at a certain overpriced store (that I love) because the clothes are beautiful and even a t-shirt from there is way cooler than the Old Navy version.
After college I bought a brand new car, because I thought I deserved it. I had to sell it one year later for a $3000 loss because I couldn’t afford the payments. That was a BIG mistake.
The debt that we had prior to becoming debt free was almost 100% caused by lack of discipline. We spent more than we made because we wanted more stuff. The difference now is that we have to get past caring about keeping up. I don’t know if we will ever stop caring completely, but I hope the feeling of being debt free will keep us going.
Have you ever bought something you regretted – either to keep up/look cool/because you thought you deserved it?

frugal friday – date night

*photo from shockya

how do you budget for romance?

we are on a budget. we use cash only, and try to stick to that budget like glue. at the same time, we have to carve out quality time in our busy week to spend together, building this marriage and keeping romance alive. to keep the budget in sync with the dates, we have to get creative. our latest discovery is a dollar movie theater about 4 miles from our house. we will never be the first ones to see a movie, but that is ok. we went out to a movie, shared popcorn and a diet coke, and paid less than $10 total. the regular movie theater costs $10.50 per person here in dallas, $13.50 for 3D. that is crazy talk. that means we would be spending $21 for 2 hours entertainment without any snacks. no thanks. i’ll take the dollar theater any day.

here are a few more of our budget date ideas:
share a bucket of balls at the driving rangeoutdoor concerts (bring a picnic)the zoomini golfhikingrent a movie at homebike ridesfield trip to ikea 🙂walking through christmas lights (in dec., obviously)

what are your cheap date night ideas?

frugal friday frijoles – the easiest bean dip recipe ever

my husband is the most frugal man i know, most of the time.
he loves to experiment in the kitchen, and has been known to have a recipe bomb on occasion. it was not the case with this one.
he was craving some bean dip, but wanted to make it on the cheap. he took one can of bush’s chili beans in hot sauce (about $1.50), drained them, and tossed them into the food processor. it tasted great just like that, but then he added a few spices. he put a little bit of garlic, chili powder, and paprika. it was great without the spice, and great with it.
that’s it. one can of beans, one food processor,
press the button, and you’re done.
grab your tortilla chips and dip away.

what is your favorite cheap and easy dip?