Posted in Deals!, What a deal!

JCPenney Groupon- Family Pictures for $30

Shock Family Photo
Shock Family Photo

There is a Groupon right now on JCPenney Portraits by Lifetouch which offers 3 digital images and one standard print, it cost $30 and we needed family pictures, so why not right?

It is a great deal, but it is helpful to understand how the process works and so you can get the best pictures and not get pressured into buying more than you actually wanted.

My JCP Experience

When you go in, depending on the studio and time of year, you may go in to find a single person running the studio or various employees. I bought this Groupon twice, so the first time I went in, only one employee was there.

She was professional, enthusiastic, and kind. She asked us about the occasion, props, and backgrounds, and then began posing my 1-year-old son. She was interrupted a time or two with a phone call and greeting the customers who showed up just 15 minutes after I arrived. But, I was the first appointment of the day, so I didn’t have to wait much. The reviews I read online beforehand proved to be correct about wait times, as the family just after me ended up waiting about 30 minutes for their shoot to begin. With young children, that could easily be the difference between good and bad photos! So, if choose to use their service, I would say try to be the first appointment of the day.

I have dabbled in photography so I had opinions about what I wanted. She used a lot of her own props and took some pictures with mine-which included a cowboy hat and a wooden horse (probably influenced by my current Heartland obsession). The pictures turned out pretty good, but I do have some regrets. Here’s why.

The Pressure was on . . .

cowboy-one-year-old
Crawling Cowboy

At the end of the shoot, there were really only four print-worthy pictures of my son. He is one after all and several of the pictures she took he had his eyes closed or was taking off his hat, so honestly, four great pictures are a victory in my book. The issue for me was that after the shoot, they had me wait a minute while they loaded the pictures and put a few collages together. Then she took me to the computer to view all the photos and asked which ones I liked. I told her and let her know I had a Groupon. She then broke down several picture packages that could be added on top of the Groupon I purchased.

I clarified with her what mine included and it included 3 high-resolution digital images and a print in the size of my choice. This should’ve been enough for my four good pictures, but as she stood there waiting for me to choose my favorites I was a bit nervous and felt pressure to choose quickly. But what if inadvertently missed a good picture of my son? I wanted to view the pictures on my own and should’ve asked if I could.

But what about the poor family stuck waiting on me to decide? They couldn’t get their shoot started until she finished with me. After offering me other much more expensive packages she offered me a digital package with all the rights to the images for $80. It wasn’t bad, but I had already paid $30 for a Groupon, which in the heat of the moment I forgot.

So I paid for access to all the photos. $80 wasn’t that bad, but I was frustrated realizing that if I had just taken a moment to think about it, and not be pressured, I could have paid $30 and had all the photos I needed.

After knowing the drill, I got a discount on the same Groupon, so we went back for family photos. I am proud to say that for the second round I was strong and just stuck to the package included with our Groupon and you know what? They took pictures of all of us and a few of just my son!

one-year-old-pictures
One-year-old pictures

It turns out if you do family pictures, they will take individual photos of each person, you and your spouse, and even some of just your kids. So, if I were to do it again. . . I would do family photos and skip the one-year-old pictures since they will take individual photos anyway! If you do that, $30 really is an incredible deal! I just assumed there would be extra sitting fees, but there weren’t!

Buy the Groupon & Be Strong!

You can save even more when Groupon runs discounts of up to up to 25% off the purchase of certain Groupons. So if you need family pictures . . . it is a great value! Good luck and happy picture taking!

Have you ever found yourself getting talked into something because of FOMO (fear of missing out) or pressure? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Shock Christmas Family Photos
Christmas Family Photo

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts, Dollar Tree Finds

Farm Chic Berry Flat Spice Rack

A little under a year ago I had just had my son and was cruising Offer Up for used items. I was interested in pallet-based projects but was intimidated by the size of pallets and my lack of tools. At the time I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but was thinking of using them either as shelving, for a spice rack, or even as a mug holder. The plan was to paint them white or grey for a cleaner look.

But as I started working with them and saw the names of the farms on them, I didn’t want to lose that detail. So I decided to sand them a bit, put a few coats of lacquer on them and make them into a cute and practical spice rack.

Along the way, I did have to give up some of my pie in the sky ideas about how it would fit 40 spices and possibly have room to hang items from the bottom. I definitely had to realize that it would also be quite a bit more costly to make then I had previously imagined as well.

I won’t give you an in-depth break down of the process and costs involved in making this, but I will outline a few steps below along with where I purchased the items I used in putting it all together if you’re interested in giving it a go. I hope you can learn from some of my mistakes and make yours even better.

And if you can’t find somewhere to purchase berry flats, the lady I bought them from is still selling them! But if you have to ship them from Oregon it could be a little costly, so you should just drive up here and make a trip of it! Seriously, Oregon really is a beautiful place, and especially green in the winter.

But I would love some recommendations on labels for my spices. I had considered printing my own using my Cricut and vinyl, but with how small I want the lettering, weeding those out would be pretty rough. So do you know anyone that sells cute labels? Any cute ideas on making my own? After all the work I put into this spice rack I really want my labels to be awesome.

Materials Needed:

Rough Breakdown- Making the Spice Rack

I measured the flats to see if they would fit above my stove. Thankfully they are a perfect fit! These flats are 25 X 17 inches and 3 inches deep.

berry flat
berry flat

I sketched an idea of how many spices I wanted it to hold and wanted some of the rack to use magnets to hold more spices. It could potentially hold 36 if you used the top portion, with the spices placed upside down (as shown in the picture below). But without using the top it holds 28 spices.

Sanded off some grime and painted on pre-stain wood conditioner. This was supposed to help give me a universal color as old wood can have inconsistencies from wear and tear. I honestly don’t know if it was necessary but it may have helped.

I painted the berry flat with 3 coats of clear, glossy varnish. I would recommend a matte finish, but glossy is what I had on hand.

It took a week or so for the varnish smell to fully dissipate, so give yourself a little time.

I then marked the flats with a grey permanent marker where I wanted the hooks.

I screwed in bronze hooks. Because the hooks went through the thin pallets and I couldn’t cheaply or easily purchase #4, bronze, 1/4 inch screws, I used what came with the hooks (1/2 inch screws) and just added paint stirring sticks to the back. It’s not classy, but it was less expensive and functional. This made it more difficult to hang later and doesn’t look as nice, but it works! I have a few more pallets if I want to make another.

I screwed in strong magnets that claim they can hold up to 26 pounds each! I’m not sure about that, but they are amazing at holding up my spice jars.

I bought 3 different kinds of jars until I got mostly what I wanted in a spice jar. I bought small mason jars with handles from Dollar Tree, mini mason jars, and wedding favor jars from Michaels although these glass jars from Hobby Lobby Lobby are the closest thing I could find to what I used.

I ended up using the lids from the mini mason jars on my Dollar Tree jars and the small jars for spices and items I don’t use as much of.

I used 8 Command picture hanging strips from Amazon to hang it above my stove. I was very skeptical, but it is working amazingly well. I’m sure with jars and all my spice rack is at least 16 pounds and those velcro-like strips are doing an awesome job!

Don’t forget to give me some suggestions on cute labels for these jars. This project took so much time and effort, I want to finish it off with some cute labels for my spices.