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.

Posted in Apartment Living, Baby Life, Crafts, Seaside Nursury

Ship’s Wheel Clock

Items Needed:

  • 2 Furniture Scratch Markers -Mahagony Colored or whatever finish you prefer- Dollar Tree
  • 8 wood finials, 3/8″ Hole – 15/16″ x 2 7/8″ – Hobby Lobby
  • Tacky glueDollar Tree
  • Polyurethane Varnish: satin/clear Wheeler Dealer or clear Polyurethane Spray Varnish- available at most craft and retail stores
  • Wood clock (9 inches) – Purchase at a yard sale or second-hand store
  • Sponge paintbrush to apply the varnish- craft store
  • Drill
  • 5/8″ brad-point bit (smaller will work if you’re willing to put in extra time and effort)
  • Parchment paper and tape for covering the clock face when painting or spraying

My son’s room is decorated with pirate/ocean decor and I’ve been looking for fun ways to continue to decorate it. But living in an apartment I struggle to have enough room for decorations, so I’ve tried to make decorations which serve more practical purposes. Since I’m not particularly good with dates and times clocks, are especially practical to have nearby. I try to keep one in every room so that I can glance up and know how much time I have before I need to run off to my next adventure.

So when I got the idea to make a clock into a ship’s wheel I matched it to the mahogany-colored furniture in his room. Low on craft money, I used the furniture scratch marker instead of buying stain (although stain would work well too). Then I covered the marker with some varnish I had from another craft project. It turned out even better than I imagined! I colored over a pine finish and it covered really well. The wood finials didn’t match perfectly after being colored with the marker, but after applying the varnish I think they looked great!

Mahagony finish after being colored with the furniture marker
Ship Wheel clock for a seaside nursery

So without further ado here are the steps to making your own ship’s wheel clock with Dollar Tree Furniture Scratch Markers.

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts, Seasonal Decor

Apothecary Jars: 12 Months of Decor- Summer

I love when the sun comes out in full force and it gets my creative juices flowing again! Apothecary jars are a fun and fast way to get your craft on every month for under $5 a month. I fill my jars with items found at Dollar Tree. Take a look at a few summer options below:

For instructions on how to make the jars themselves, follow this apothecary jar tutorial.

For ideas on how to fill them throughout the year check out my other Apothecary Jar posts.

Posted in Apartment Living, Baby Life, Dollar Tree Finds

Dollar Tree Finds: Baby Stuff

Only $3 for all of these incredible baby supplies!
Only $3 for all of these incredible baby supplies!

Our lil‘ Shock is 6 months old and old enough for food! I was thrilled to find some useful baby supplies at Dollar Tree! I purchased this bowl, 12 spoons, and the disposable placemats all for $3 total.

  1. The disposable mats seem like they’d be really handy for when we go out to eat and need something to put our guy’s food onto.
  2. 12 baby spoons will mean I don’t have to stress about having enough spoons for our lil‘ guy.
  3. The bowl suctions to the table so that its harder to push off their tray or the table.

I will get a lot of use out of my $3 worth of baby supplies!

Any other cool baby products you’d recommend for a 6 month old?

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts, Seasonal Decor

Apothecary Jars: 12 Months of Decor-April

Easter is on its way and I thought I’d share what I put in my easy apartment-friendly apothecary jars for April. Check it out!

  • Easter Grass- Green, yellow, pink: Dollar Tree
  • Plastic Carrots with pixie-stick-like candy inside: Dollar Tree
  • Junior Mint Eggs: Dollar Tree
  • Mike and Ikes- Easter Edition: Dollar Tree or Cadbury shiny eggs: Walmart
Easter Apothecary Jars
Easter and Spring Apothecary Jars
Spring Apothecary Jars
Spring Apothecary Jars

Don’t have apothecary jars? Consider filling Mason jars for a similar effect. Want to make apothecary jars similar to mine?

Did you like the look of the Mike and Ikes in the picture above or the shiny Cadbury eggs? Honestly, I was imagining glimmeringly shiny eggs, so the pastel, mildly shiny Cadbury eggs I discovered disappointed me. Ah well! They still tasted as delicious as they always do, so I will enjoy eating them when Easter is over.

Check out what I put in my jars last month for St. Patricks Day.

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts

12 Months of Holiday Wreaths: St. Patricks Day

I love decorating for seasons and holidays. I also love not having to store a ton of decor since I live in an apartment. Pulling out large bins of decorations can be cumbersome so I’ve been exploring ways to keep decor simple.

So behold! This minimalist wreath is simple, fun, and perfect for St. Patricks Day!

Supplies Needed

  • Wreath- $10 at Hobby Lobby in the floral department
  • Coins- $1 Dollar Tree
  • Leprechaun Hat ripped from the top of a green headband-$1 Dollar Tree.
  • Toothpicks- $1 for two canisters- Dollar Tree
  • Low Temp Glue gun and mini glue sticks
  • Green sharpie

Make the Valentines version of this wreath.

I love St. Patrick’s Day decorations, but it got me thinking . . . I don’t really celebrate this holiday. What do you do for St. Patrick’s Day?

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts

Apothecary Jars: 12 Months of Decor Using Dollar Tree Items-March

March- St. Patrick’s Day

March is almost here! For $4 you can fill your Apothecary Jars with festive decor.

I used a bag and a half of plastic gold coins, a St. Patrick’s Day scarf, and cut 2 feet of St. Patrick’s Day Garland, all purchased at Dollar Tree.

Then, either keep the stuff for next March, since it doesn’t take up too much space or donate them and skip the storage. This apartment friendly decor allows you to have fun with something festive without having to store boxes of stuff!

lucky Gold Coins- saving space
Lucky Gold Coins- saving space- just use a small container on the inside of your jar.
Gold Coins- Dollar Tree
Gold Coins- Dollar Tree

These coins are so useful for so many craft projects if you end up with extras. Stay tuned for another St. Patrick’s Day craft I used the rest of my coins for . . .

lucky Gold Coins- Dollar Tree
Lucky Gold Coins- Dollar Tree
Lucky garland
Lucky garland- Cut two feet off of the garland to place in your largest jar.
St. Patrick's Day Window
My St. Patrick’s Day window using the remaining garland and window clings I bought at the Dollar Tree last year.

Click here to find instructions on how to make your own Apothecary Jar.

Does anyone know of any green candies I could use in these jars? Please write a few ideas in the comments below.

I couldn’t find green m&ms, but maybe that is for the best because then I would want to eat them all . . .

Posted in Apartment Living

Three Minimalist Holiday Decoration Ideas

wreath
Valentines Wreath

Feeling any pressure to step onto the minimalist bandwagon? With Netflix shows like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and it’s documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. Being the bargain hunter and crafter that I am, even I’m seeing the value in cutting down on clutter. Recovering from the stress and excess of the holiday season I’ve had minimalism on my mind.

The minimalism documentary was especially impactful. I saw it a few years ago and it changed the way I looked at things like souvenirs. It’s helped me let go of extra stuff I don’t need as I clean. It’s also helping me reconsider the crafts I choose to make.

I live in an apartment and space is valuable. I always seem to be de-junking looking for places to put my stuff. As someone who loves good deals, I’ve learn to be more organilized in order to fit more stuff into less space. As a “maximalist” I often try to get the maxium amount of stuff into my small space while maintaining some semblance of order. Merica!

However, I constantly seem to be reorganizing and decluttering, so I’m trying to be wiser about the crafts and deals I pursue. I look forward to the holidays and decorating for them, so I thought I’d make some crafts that take up less space and contain parts that can can stay up year round, minimalizing the storage aspect of holiday crafts. The crafts I have so far are:

Apothecary Jars
  1. Apothecary Jars- They may have come and gone in popularity, but they are fun to make, don’t take up a ton of space, and fit the bill for allowing me to get excited about each upcoming holiday. It’s fun to find something festive to put into the jars every month or two. Plus, they are inexpensive to fill and the small things I put in them don’t take up much room to store, or I can easily donate the items I used for someone else to enjoy, or give away or eat the candy I often use. Click below to make apothecary jars similar to the ones pictured to the right.
wreath

2. Wreath- They are classy, completely customizable, won’t require storage, (as they stay hanging up all year) and thanks to killer sales at Hobby Lobby, don’t cost too much. Target also carries similar wreaths. Check out CraftyGirl’s DIY on this valentines wreath to the right for instructions on how to make it.

3. If you enjoy decorating with lights, but don’t always want white or multi-colored lights consider using these LED lights that can be changed to multiple solid colors depending on the holiday or event.

LED Lights
Multi-colored LED images from Amazon.com 

I understand that to some crafting and minimalism seem to be at odds, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t find a way to embrace aspects of it. After all as an apartment-dweller extra space is always welcome.