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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Cut Down Textbook Costs

Alright you budget conscious college students. Here is the scoop on buying books. If you want to cut the cost of your books in half, listen to me. I've been there done that, trying various ways to save money.

Here is what I spent this semester on books:

My Price = $66.95
Bookstore Price = $256

Here I am so happy because I saved money on my textbooks. Or because I was graduating. Class of 2012 baby.

1. DO NOT BUY BOOKS AT THE BOOKSTORE. University bookstores are really good at keeping prices high, even if they are used. Although the money is sometimes used for scholarships, sometimes donating your pocketbook for these funds isn't worth it.

2. Rent books if you don't plan on keeping them long term. If you are taking a botany class and your degree is in math, you might not need to keep this textbook for future reference. There are many websites you can rent from. I just rented a textbook from which saved me over $100.

3. Used books aren't bad. Used books are usually classified this way if they have been bought and sold. Many students keep their books in great condition or highlight the important stuff. Who wouldn't want highlighted pages?? Bright pink and yellow pages are much more exciting to read.

4. Download eBooks. Not all textbooks come this way, but some do, and since they skip printing costs, can sell them for cheaper.

5. Shop around. It's okay to shop in more than once place for your books. I cut costs by buying all of my books from different websites. There are even websites that compare prices from the web for you. How great is that?? Try

Graduate school is a pain in the butt, but buying your books doesn't have to be. Now I have the money I saved to buy a new pair of shoes. :)

Let me know how you save money in college! I would love to hear.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

DIY Monogram Window

Today's project was super easy, fun, and it turned out to look a lot more expensive that it actually cost. 

I already bought this window frame earlier at DI for $5. It had some beadboard and dried out flowers in it, but it was easy to remove. Old window frames are sometimes harder to find good deals on. My suggestion is to always keep your eye open for one. Some garage sales will have them and sometimes craigslist. The one place that always has them are antique stores, but you have to be willing to pay (usually $50 for old windows). I have even seen people ripping down old homes and putting them on the street for the trash pickup. 

The only other expense was some black craft paint and some brushes. I just used regular thin paint brushes. This was less than $5, so overall it was a $10 project. 

First I cleaned the glass really well with windex. I then took the letter "P" for "Peterson" I already had as home decor and traced it on the front of the glass with a chalkboard paint pen I used in a previous project (check it out: DIY Chalkboard Labels). If you don't have something to trace, you could blow up a print for cheap at Staples (usually under .50 cents). 

I bought these pens at Michael's (they have definitely paid off). I used them since it would be easy to wipe the outline off after painting. 

I then painted the back of the window with a few coats of black paint until the letter was completely covered. 

And now I have a unique piece of artwork perfect for our apartment!

PS Here are two more of the pillows I finished in our bedroom from the pillow making tutorial I posted earlier this week. You can check it out here.

Let me know what ya think!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DIY Clothespin Magnets

Here's an easy and quick project you can do to spruce up your fridge to match your personality. I lucked out and snagged these cute clothespins in the Target dollar bins (my other true love). I just used my hot glue gun and some strong magnets to complete this project. 

If you can't find decorated clothespins, there are a ton of tutorials online on how to spruce them up. Here are a few:
Click Here for the full Tutorial

Buy on Etsy, or be inspired to make your own
The options are endless. You could do any color, pattern, or style you wanted to fit your life and style! 


Monday, August 19, 2013

DIY Pillows for Less than $5

Pillows! I can't get enough of these and Cliff won't quit reminding me of the scene from Along Came Polly. 

So let's hope he doesn't take a knife to these beauties any time soon. ;) (If you haven't seen the movie, get up, and go rent it. You won't be disappointed.)

So in all honesty, I only made one of these pillows... Can you guess which one it is?? I was shopping and buying pillows and after spending $30 on one, it hurt a little. I had purchased fabric scraps with the intention to make pillows, and finally, I sat down with the sewing machine and made one. 

First thing you will need is a pillow or cotton filling to put inside the pillow. I prefer a pillow since it keeps the square shape much easier. I had some already at the house, but if you need to buy some, try finding pillows at thrift stores in shapes you already like and pull off the covers. 

 The next step is finding the fabric you want to use to make your pillows. I hit the jackpot at a craft store where the display scraps were on clearance for $2. These are high quality fabric meant for upholstery. I fell in love with the patterns and colors and knew I would find a place for them in my home. The nice thing about these squares is the edges were already surged and in a perfect sized square for making a pillow. I didn't have to cut or sew the edges.

I then used some basic gray fabric for the back of the pillows I bought at Hobby Lobby. (Don't forget to download the app to get coupons every week. I bought the fabric for 40% off with mine.) I simply laid the black decorative square on the gray and cut the same size square. 

I then put the two right sides together. I used some sewing pins to keep the two squares lined up. 

I lined the edge of my foot up with the edge of the fabric and sewed almost around the entire square.

I left one opening, making sure to back stitch on each edge of the opening to ensure the pillow wouldn't rip open.  

Trim the extra fabric. Unless you are awesome at sewing and cutting and never have excess. Oh and if this happens, call me because I will be impressed.

Next I flipped the pillow to show the outside. Make sure to pull out the corners since they tend to stick. You can even trim the corners from the inside to make it lay more evenly. 

Next you shimmy the pillow in the opening you left. 

Now pull out your needle and thread. (Ug I know. Hand stitching seems to take forEVER).  Simply sew the opening shut. 

And there you go. I think this pillow is perfect for the couch! I love the mix matched patterns and colors. 

Let me know what you think!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Inspiration Friday

Today was a party at Hobby Lobby. I started a few new projects today after my trip to the HL including making a topiary, pillows, and a monogram window frame. I can't wait to share the finished projects. Oh and by downloading the Hobby Lobby phone app I got 40% off the most expensive item. Double bonus!

Today I am just going to share some of the projects on Pinterest that have inspired me this week. 

Shabby Chic Salt Shakers
I have been wanting to add some light blue accents to my red kitchen. I love these antique looking salt and pepper shakers. I am now on the lookout for some for a future project.

Chevron Painting

I am also looking to fill an empty wall in our dining room. I love the accent of bright colors mixed with the gold. I haven't done any artwork type projects, so this would be a new challenge.

Hope you have a happy Friday! I will be going to spend time with my husbands side of the family for my nieces birthday. :) I can't wait to get out of the big city and have a small town weekend.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer Fashion Under $15

These are some of my favorite deals right now for the end of summer style. Vegas is still super hot, so anything I don't have to layer a ton is perfect! 

Forever 21- $12.80
Forever 21- $13.80
H&M- 12.95
Charlotte Russe- $12.50

Let me know of any other good summer deals you have found!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Eating healthy. It's the one thing I think everyone tries to do. Some are better than others at it. We all have our excuses. Eating healthy is TOO expensive, TOO hard, TOO time consuming. What I am here to say it that it is possible. For the past 4 years I have been in college, I have learned a thing or two about how to manage my small budget to make room for healthy food. So maybe my first week I delighted in eating Ramen Noodles and Mac and Cheese, but eventually I wanted some fruit, veggies, and a healthy balanced meal.

So I am here to share my wisdom today on how to make the best choices in the grocery store. These are my top 5 tips on how I eat healthy on a budget.

1. Never grocery shop on an empty stomach. You will ALWAYS end up with extra junk food you don't need. Try eating a hearty meal before you go.

2. Plan a menu. If you take the time to plan meals and what ingredients you need for each meal, you will arrive home with what you really need. The worst thing is opening the fridge full of food with no idea what you can make with all the random ingredients you have.

3. Take a look at the grocery store ads that come in the mail. I know, I know. It doesn't sound like the best thing to do with you time, but trust me. You can find the best deals on items you already need like meat, fruit, veggies, etc for cheaper.

4. Don't be afraid to check the dollar store. This may seem odd, but all items found in the picture below were purchased for .99 cents at our local .99 cent store. The produce selection is limited, but you can base your meals around the food that is cheap and good for you! Also farmers markets are a great way to find healthy food for cheap.

5. Utilize pinterest for menu planning. Pinterest isn't just for pictures of well dressed skinny women and home decor. Pinterest is the ultimate place to store all of your healthy recipes you have always wanted to make. Be inspired and follow people who make healthy items on a budget.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hair Rose Tutorial

So I know this isn't really what I have been posting on the blog, but I know that every girl likes new and creative hair styles that are easy and I just had to share this one today!

I started by parting my hair somewhat to one side. I then did two messy french braids. I didn't bother with specific parting and making everything even since I like to embrace the messiness!

I then took the remaining tails of the braids and wrapped them in a circle, pinning with bobby pins as I went to hold the hair in place. 

I then did loose curls all over the remaining hair.
Yay for selfies!

It's super simple, and super cute! Let me know what ya think!


Monday, August 5, 2013

DIY Dresser Makeover

Oh my goodness I can hardly contain my excitement to share this post with you today! I am going to show you how to turn a bland dresser into an entertainment center.

So my husband and I had been debating whether or not we should spend some of our wedding money and buy a new TV stand. Here is the beauty...
Yes that is New Girl, and no I could not turn it off to take the picture.
Addiction is a scary thing my friends.

We both agreed we needed to switch out of college dorm mode and buy a new stand. (Just look at that dinky thing!?) Our movies were out in the open and half of them wouldn't fit. It also just looked awkward with our TV hanging over the edge of this small stand. We were both ready for a change. We looked all over the internet and stores in Vegas searching for a reasonable stand but we came to the conclusion that most stands still look like college dorm room, or cost $1000+. On our tight newly wed budget, I convinced Clifford to do our first couple DIY project! After bringing him over to the dark side, we were on our search for the perfect dresser. 

We shopped on craigslist since there is always an abundance of furniture posted daily. We searched until we found the perfect piece we both loved. 
So this dresser is hardwood (very solid, and very HEAVY). It also have dovetail drawers which I strongly suggest you look for when you are doing your own DIY project. (Dovetail drawers are very sturdy and will last forever. Seriously. You won't regret it. This isn't cheap walmart furniture). 

Another thing we were looking for in a piece of furniture other than sturdiness and good quality was a dresser that could be converted into an entertainment center. This particular dresser we bought had a cabinet in the middle. We were looking for a dresser we could easily take the drawers out and put in custom shelves for our xbox and dvd or blu ray player. We contacted the girl selling the dresser and had her send us some pictures of the inside of the cabinets which contained more drawers that could be pulled out. Tip: Be PICKY when you are choosing the right piece for your house. It's a lot easier to choose the right furniture for your projects rather than having to revamp the entire piece. 

After bringing this monstrosity home up a flight of stairs in the Vegas summer heat we were pooped. (Ok maybe Cliff and his friend carried it up the stairs). The next decision was we had to make was what color we wanted to paint it. We wanted something that was neutral but very fun and versatile. If you aren't sure what color to go with, check out this post from Craftionary on What color to paint your furniture. We opted for a gray color with white trim. 

Getting started on this project was so fun, but it seemed a little overwhelming when we had a giant dresser taking over our tiny apartment. The pressure was on to get this project done quickly and perfectly.

We started out researching blogs and websites for the best way to complete this project. Here is a list of necessities you will need to redo your beast to a beauty:

  • Krud Kutter- It's only the best degreaser to get rid of everything living on the dresser so you are ready to prime. Oh and did I mention it's eco-friendly?
  • Zinsser Cover Stain Primer- I will expand on this awesome product in a minute... basically it's the greatest thing you will ever buy.
  • Roller foam brush- Easiest way to cover a large surface with paint without those brush lines.
  • Mini foam brushes- Covers those tight corners and spaces you can't get with a roller.
  • Paint- Talk to your local hardware store workers to help you choose the perfect paint for your project. 
  • Wood Putty- This fills any holes or nicks you may need to cover up.
  • Wood Glue- To make the shelves stay put.
There are some other items we bought for the project we will cover later in this post.

The first step was for me to step out in the oven of a place (Las Vegas) and begin working. I started by removing both of the cupboard doors, drawers, and drawer tracks. 

Once the dresser was stripped down to the base, we used Krud Kutter to eliminate any chance of the primer not sticking to the surface. It's a simple spray on, wipe off product that prepped the dresser perfectly. We found it at the Home Depot down the cleaner isle (who knew they had cleaner?). You don't want to skip this step, especially on older furniture since there is usually a large amount of build up of grease and dirt. 

The next step was filling in any holes or scuffs with some wood putty to ensure a smooth surface. We had quite a few holes since we removed the cabinet hinges and hooks. We used Plastic Wood which was really simple. You fill the holes and sand off the excess. In some places where there were deeper holes, we had to put more than one layer of the product. 

So naturally the next step would be to power sand down the whole dresser. In the Vegas heat this sounded like the worst possible thing I could be doing. Hallelujah we live in times where we don't need to sand anymore. We researched quite a bit about different types of primers and we finally found the perfect product. The miracle worker we used was called: Zinsser Cover Stain Primer. $8.88 for a quart at the Home Depot. This was a serious time saver We literally did no sanding (ok there were a few spots that were rough and needed a touch up). Other than that, it was a dream. We used a foam roller brush to apply the primer to all of the large areas and small foam brushes to do the smaller places. The key to finding a primer is one that is a stain blocker!
We gave the whole dresser, including the drawers, two coats of the primer to ensure that it was ready for painting. This seemed a little mundane, but I can assure you that it's worth it in the end to make sure you do it right. 

So remember how we wanted to make this dresser into a an entertainment center? The perfect place to add some shelves was right inside this cupboard. This picture is of the inside before I took out the drawer tracks, but it shows you where we wanted to place the shelves. There are two boards in the front in back that were level where we planned to place the wood shelves. 

To complete this step, we measured the inside of the dresser a little longer than the front opening so we could put the shelf in. Then we went to Lowes where they cut wood for FREE and purchased a precut 1/2 2X4 Birch Plywood with smooth sides. This cost us a whopping $13.67. Buying a smaller wood piece allowed it to be thin enough to not add bulk and not cost a lot of money. We opted for 1/2 since it wouldn't bow. Plus we still had some left over for future projects. 

We primed the shelves and then we were ready for painting. Woot Woot! (Okay don't forget to let each layer of the primer dry completely. You will be in a world of mess if you don't dry each layer before putting more paint on). 

While waiting for the paint to dry (haha) we can talk about the drawer pulls. Cliff opted to buy new handles, but I loved the original ones. I won the battle and with my awesome persuasion skills. We agreed they needed a fresh coat of paint to match the style we were going for. We wanted they white and we opted for a combination primer and paint. The Rust-Oleum painters touch was perfect for the drawer pulls. We painted 3 coats (don't forget to wait inbetween coats), and bam: awesome new drawer pulls without a crazy expense. It was less than $5 to redo all 7 of the pulls. 

Okay, so your primer should be dry and now you are ready to paint. For this project, Cliff and I went into Home Depot with a darker gray color in mind. We searched the swatch bar and found a few that we really liked, but we weren't set on any quite yet. We continued shopping for our other supplies and then Cliff spotted the clearance section of paint. (I'm so proud. Clearance is my middle name!) He found the perfect color in a flat paint that was the perfect type for our project for $2!! Can you say score!? (TIP: You can see the actual color the paint will be on the lid of the clearance cans. Hold them in the lights by the swatches to ensure it's the color you want). We then bought the same quart for our trim in white and we were ready to paint. Home Depot gives away free dropcloth to lay under your projects so you don't spill paint everywhere (Thanks Home Depot!). 

We ended up bringing the dresser in our house to do the painting so we weren't sweating in the sun and to ensure a perfect coat of paint. (Don't worry we cracked the windows and doors). We did the same process using a new foam roller, foam brushes, a paint tray (TIP: line the tray with tin foil and you don't have to wash it out, and it's reusable). We painted two coats and the dresser looked awesome! We also painted the drawers. Sorry about the lack of a picture. The apartment was a little crazy at this point.

The next part was the was the hardest part for me. We had the brilliant idea from the beginning to paint the dresser gray but trim the drawers with white edges. We thought it would look clean and chic. I spent a few hours putting down blue painters tape to ensure a straight edge on each drawer. I then painted with the white paint on the edges using a foam brush. After a few coats, I noticed that the gray we had painted the drawers had got on the sides of the trim and it was impossible to cover up. If I were to do this project again I would suggest priming the edges again and then covering it with the white paint. We ended up priming over the paint and then repainting. (UGGG). 
Finally we managed to get the drawers looking perfect with a few touch up strokes. We then glued the 2 shelves in the dresser after painting them and ensuring they were dry. Cliff also used his manly drill to put a few large holes in the back of the dresser for the cables and wires to plug into the wall. 

Look how custom those shelves look!

Now we have drawers for all my Rom Com's and all Cliff's Action movies!


We are sooo proud of our first project we did together.

We saved so much money to get a custom piece we both love! We couldn't be happier with the way the "entertainment center" looks! Now my hubby is ready for our next DIY project (he keeps talking about refinishing the dresser in our bedroom).

Until my next DIY, BYE BYE!


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