Whoa, guys. It's been awhile. Turns out your early twenties are a busy time in life. In the last year I started school to become a nurse, Brad graduated, we moved apartments, and Brad gained meaningful employment like a real adult that unfortunately requires a bit of a commute. Does this mean we get to sit at the adult table this Thanksgiving? 

Next topic, let's chat about the new apartment. We moved in May (during finals and graduation) to the apartment that is directly on top of our old apartment. It's the same size but it has a different layout and a private entrance through a back patio area. Now, being who we are, we couldn't just move in somewhere that was ready to go. Just throw in a couch and wha-la, apartment! No, that will never do. We enjoy a challenge. "Give us all the old, yellowed, stinky wallpaper you can find," we said. Does it smell like cigars? Is it secretly double-layered? Hooray! We'll take that apartment, pretty-please.

Needless to say, this summer I learned how to strip wallpaper. It wasn't that horrible an experience until we started taking the decorative layer off the bedroom walls. We found long black hairs stuck to the adhesive on almost every panel, sometimes multiple hairs that looked carefully arranged. Loooong black hairs, Cher-length you could say, stuck in between layers of wallpaper from 20 years ago. I don't want to know, but really I kinda do because that is a weird thing to find, right? 

 Why Cher, why?  
The best part about the new apartment is the bathroom. The whole apartment is the same size as the old one, so instead of 2 bedrooms we have 1 bigger bedroom and 1 huge bathroom. The cats are enjoying the Jacuzzi tub, it is a favorite place to sleep so far. I am enjoying having a separate little room for doing laundry and Brad is excited about the sink because he doesn't have to hunch over it. Unfortunately, that means I have to use a step stool or resign myself to splashing water everywhere. Compromises, compromises.

We've taken down all the wallpaper, repainted, and hung a few projects here and there. I hope to post an update with the improvements soon. 

10 Tips to Save Money on Food (For the Busy and Broke)

save money on groceries
If you're like us, a large portion of your monthly income goes to food. When we first moved in together we both had a severe fast-food habit. After being at school all day and then working until 9, it was just easier to not cook. Wrong! This is such a bad habit for your wallet. We were spending way too much money on food each month and really had to take a step back to evaluate where the money was going. Here are a few things we've learned the last few years about saving money when it comes to filling your belly.

1. Limit Fast Food:

  • This is the number one thing that is going to save you some cash. Two fast food meals costs us an average of 15 dollars. Do that three times a week and you're looking at 45 dollars in grease. Do you know how much time and money grilled cheese, pancakes, or omelettes cost? Yeah, not worth it pal. Change your mindset - make going-out special so it will become more enjoyable and you will do it less often.

2. Learn How to Cook:

  • Learn how to cook at least one or two things. Start with something simple. If you know basic cooking techniques, you will feel more comfortable in the kitchen and more willing to try new recipes instead of ordering in every night. You will also begin to enjoy cooking if you actually know what you're doing. I love taunting Brad with French words like roux and Bechamel. So easy, but it sounds so fancy. 

3. Get a Crockpot: 

  • My crockpot is my bff. Throw stuff in it, press a few buttons, do your thing, get home and BAM! dinner. Sigh, I love you crockpot. I am using a cheap model from Walmart that was around 25 dollars so it's not breaking the bank to invest in one. My first crockpot came from Goodwill for 7 dollars and I still use it. See, no excuses. There are tons of recipes out there now for slowcooking, and there is much more variety than soups and stews. If you gather your ingredients ahead of time in a gallon bag and freeze them together, throwing something in the crockpot in the morning is a breeze. Especially when multiple recipes share the same ingredients.

4. Always have something easy on-hand: 

  • This could be anything quick and low-effort that you enjoy. Brad and I like toasted ravioli, Tostinos pizzas, and french toast sticks. Are those good for us? Not at all, but neither is Taco Bell. These are the types of things you have on-hand already when you get home late from work, have 3 hours left of homework, and need to be up at 6 the next day. No matter how awesome you are, you will have nights where you are so exhausted that you don't have the energy to cook. It's okay. There is a significant cost difference between one box of french toast sticks and two fast food meals. The cost of fast food will add up over time so avoid it now.

5. Rice and Beans:

  • As cliche as it is, rice and beans are cheap and easy to prepare. White rice and black beans are two things often included in my meal plans because they are so versatile and can be used in almost anything to add some more oomph. Using a rice cooker makes it even more convenient. 

6. Limit Meat Intake:

  • Now this might not be popular with everyone and that's okay. I have never been a huge meat-eater so this is an easy one on me. We normally limit red meat to once a week or less, depending. We do eat chicken fairly often but I'm not going to add 3 pounds of chicken breast to a recipe for just two adults. If I'm making soup, pasta, salad, or any kind of dish that includes multiple ingredients - I will only use one larger chicken breast for the two of us and add extra vegetables (mushrooms are the best) or substitute a can of black beans. We're still getting protein but I'm not feeling weighed down. And, to be honest, touching raw meat makes me feel icky.

7. Look at Ads:

  • When I'm getting my shopping list together, I usually check the local supermarket ads. My favorite grocery store is Aldis but I usually have to go to one more store to get everything on my list. Checking the ads lets me know in advance what the sales will be so I can choose recipes that incorporate the sale ingredients. 

8. Stack Ingredients When Planning Meals:

  • When planning meals, I like to choose recipes that all use similar ingredients. If I'm buying bell peppers for Cajun Chicken Pasta, then I will also make Sweet and Sour Chicken, Fajitas, or Jambalaya. Jambalaya is a great end of the week meal to use up your leftover meats and veggies. Furthermore, choose meals that allow you to use up the ingredients you already have in your pantry before going to the store.

9. Whole Chickens are your friends:

  • Whole chickens are cheaper than buying chicken breast, chicken thighs, or chicken whatsit. The best part about whole chickens is that you can roast them in your crockpot, remove the good meat, and then make chicken broth from the bones. How awesomely domestic is that? If you're only two people, like Brad and me, then you have so much chicken left over that you can use it for the next few days in things like pastas, salads, and sandwiches. Whole chickens are becoming a Sunday routine around here because they are so darn convenient. 

10. Use Coupons, Maybe?

  • I'm still new to couponing but I did save like 14 dollars last week, so that was pretty cool. When using coupons, it is important to remember that you don't have to use all of them. If there's a $1 off coupon on something you weren't planning on buying or don't need, then you are not saving money - you are spending extra money just because you can get $1 off that box of special new diet crispy-crackers. This is something I have to continually remind myself because my brain sees coupons and then the self-control is gone. 

These are just 10 examples of things Brad and I have put into practice that actually work for us. Another few tips are to sit down and plan your menu for the week or every two weeks. Afterwards you can compile your shopping list easily and mark off what you already have at home. I used to plan meals for a month at a time and do the majority of my shopping for the month on one day. It was stressful and I didn't feel like it was very budget friendly so now I plan two weeks at a time. 

I'd love to know what you are already doing to save money on food and what some of your favorite recipes are. Comment below to let me know!

Embroidered Family Photos Hoop (how to transfer photos to fabric)

Not to spoil the surprise, but for Christmas gifts this year, I've been embroidering over black and white fabric copies of old family photos. They’re a fun way to display those photos that have been sitting in dusty albums or saved in your computer for years. In an added bonus, you have the power to add anything you want to those photos without harming the originals. (With great power comes great responsibility, people.) So go on and impress your loved ones with your needlework skills and wizard-like photo-transforming powers.

Materials Needed:
Freezer Paper (I found it at Schnucks)
White Fabric
Embroidery Hoop
Colorful Embroidery Thread and Needle
Laser Printer
Bubble Jet Set 2000 or other ink fixative if you want your fabric to be washable (I skipped this step because my hoops will just be hanging on the wall)

Cut a piece of freezer paper to 8.5 x 11 inches. This is the size of a standard piece of computer paper.

Cut a piece of fabric to 8.5 x 11 inches and iron to the shiny side of the freezer paper. I iron my fabric to the paper first and then trim to size. (It is easier to iron this on a hard surface, the ironing board doesn’t give enough resistence.)

In your favorite program, edit your picture to the correct size. Keep in mind the paper size and the diameter of your embroidery hoop.  I also chose to change all my photos to black and white. That gives you freedom to go bananas with the colorful accessories and still have some balance. I use picmonkey to balance the whites and blacks and Microsoft Word to change the size and print.

Load the freezer paper/fabric sheet into your printer. You’ll want to print on the fabric side so know which way to load it! Once printed, let the ink set for a few moments and then peel away the freezer paper backing. (My freezer paper was sticky enough to be used twice.)

Put your fabric in the hoop, get out your needles and thread,and get stitchy with it. I used a combination of chain stitches, running stitches, and french knots with bright colors. Need a refresher on different embroidery techniques? Click here. Then just finish the back of your hoop and display!

My favorite part is all the texture and color they bring. So cheery! I think mini embroidery hoop versions as Christmas ornaments would be fun too. Just wrap a piece of ribbon around the top to hang on the tree. 

Industrial Pipe Side-table Tutorial [On the Cheap]

building industrial pipe furniture - the inexpensive way

I love the look of industrial furniture with pipe legs and I've wanted to diy something similar for quite awhile to hold our records. Diy home decor is my drug of choice so, of course, I've clocked in mega hours reading pipe tutorials on Pinterest - but it seemed like the cost of building with piping was really high. Luckily, smarty-pants Brad figured out how to do it without breaking the bank. The results are just as modern, without the "bulk" all that pricey galvanized hardware can add, in our humble opinion.

Want to join in on the fugal fun? Check out the steps below:

pipe table materials
Materials Needed:
  1. (2) boards cut to the width and depth you want your table to be
  2. (4) casters, we got 2 locking and 2 normal
  3. (1) 10 ft at 3/4 in. conduit piping - in the aisle with all the electrical cables, not the piping aisle
  4. (4) 3/4 in. elbows - black iron is cheaper, just spray paint chrome
  5. (4) 3/4 in. pipe brackets
  6. JB Kwik - in the aisle with the stains and glues
  7. Power drill and screws
  8. I in. wood bore drill bit attachment for yo power drill
Galvanized piping can add up, but 10 ft of 3/4 in. conduit piping was like $4.00. Hello, savings, my old friend. Just ask the nice hardware-store employees to cut them down for you. (They will not be able to thread them - keep reading for explanation). You'll need 4 pieces at your height for the legs, and 2 pieces at the width of the wood top for the supports minus about 3 in. to account for the elbow joints on either side. Black iron elbows are cheaper than their galvanized steel counterparts. Grab those suckers and spray paint 'em.

Let's breaka-breaka-breakity break this down. Our dimensions for this project were:

2 boards at 16 x 18 in.
4 pipe legs at 20 in.
2 pipe supports at 13.25 in. = 16 in. board - 3 in. (1.5 in. elbows on either side) 

When built, the table stands about 25 in. tall.
using j b kwik to secure legs

Because electrical piping is thin, it can't be threaded. That's why we're using the JB Kwik to connect the fittings to the pipe. Follow the directions to combine the tubes and then carefully spread on the inside of the elbow joints. Slide the pieces firmly into place and allow to set. You'll be combining what looks like two big U's, with 1 leg pipe connecting to an elbow at the top, connecting to a short supporting pipe, connected to another elbow joint, connecting to another leg pipe. (See the finished picture above for more clarity.) 

Magic! Unless you're especially green when you're angry, there's no way you're separating those pieces.

using wood bore drill-bit

Cool beans, now we're onto some power tool action. On the bottom board only, take your pipe legs and figure out where they'll go, keeping in mind the dimensions of the casters they'll connect with below the bottom shelf. If your wheels have a 2 inch plate on top, you'll want to make sure it won't stick out from the sides. Trace around the legs and using your drill with drill-bit attached, bore out the circle. You want the circle to be tight so the legs won't wibble-wobble on the bottom. 

pipes clamped to table-top

Okay, Let's connect the top piece to the legs now. Lay your board with the top facing down and screw the pipe brackets around the pipe to the board. You'll use your measurement from the bottom board to figure out where they should sit. Make sure your screws don't poke out the top. Also, pre-drilling the holes helps prevent the wood from splitting.

Now that the top part is done, you can screw the casters to the bottom of the bottom board. Use the JB Kwik to weld together the bottom of the legs to the top of the casters and you'll be 1 on-trend industrial side-table richer. Take some glamour shots and share:

styled pipe side-table
Yay! One more we can cross off the list.

table side view
pipe record stand tutorial
This is where it sits in real life in our kitchen/dining room, holding some of our records. (I secretly want to paint the wood coral) I think it's versatile and would make a cute little bar cart too. How do you feel about the pipe-look sans floor flanges (those suckers are like $6 a pop)? Anybody have any ideas for the left-over piping?

Mini Me Pillows

Pillows are fun. You're fun. Why not combine the two? After reading this post on Just Crafty Enough, I knew I had to have little Eileen and Brad pillows. My pillows are tiny, more like dolls really, they're only about 6" tall and 3" round. I would love to see someone make a giant self-portrait body-pillow, that would be awesome.

Here's how I made mine, be sure to check out the original post for process pictures. 

Fabric marker
Embroidery needle and thread
Printed scrap fabric for clothing and back
Solid fabric for body
Fusibile interfacing
Paper and pencil

  1. Draw your person on paper and transfer to fabric using fabric marker. I taped my paper and fabric to the window for easing tracing. 
  2. Cut out your piece of clothing from printed fabric, cut a matching piece of interfacing, and fuse to your person. 
  3. Embroider - I think I used a backstitch but I'm not sure, it was more of a hmmm-that-seems-to-be-working sitch
  4. Trim around your person and cut a matching piece out of patterned fabric for back of pillow
  5. With right sides together, sew up your pillow leaving enough room to turn right-side-out and stuff. Sew gap closed.

Don't trim the fabric until after you've finished embroidery the bodies. I cut my fabric too close and it made it more difficult. Also, leave more fabric around the bodies than you think you need, my head is a little more lumpy than originally planned because I trimmed too much fabric off. 

Done. Aren't they cute? Now I need to make another one of my cat.            

Fluffy Painted Rug Tutorial

Like I told you guys a few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at the newest Pinterest trend by painting a rug for my living room. I loves it. A lot. Maybe too much love for one rug. A good rug brings a room together, but they can be so expensive! Painting a rug gives you the flexibility to choose color, size, and pattern you want. DIY home decor is my best friend. 

Materials for this project are pretty simple. You'll need a rug, painter's tape (I used the blue with edge-lock), paint (I used a quart and a half of Behr's Raspberry Mousse in satin), foam brushes, and textile medium (two 8 oz bottles of the Delta brand).

Then I just taped off my pattern and mixed up the paint. The Delta brand recommends a ratio of 1 part textile medium to 2 parts paint, so check your bottle before you buy. As an aside, I used more paint in my mix, and I think it's fine.

I took a smaller foam brush and took care of the edges first, I made sure to really work the brush into the rug coating all sides of the pile. Then I took a wider foam brush and worked the paint in circles. I just tried to make sure I was getting even coverage and all sides of the "fluff" were painted. My paint took quite a while to dry, some parts were still damp after 24 hours so I recommend putting it somewhere you won't bother it for a few days. The painted parts are a little stiffer but have been softening with use. I wouldn't describe it as hard or scratchy, just "different," really.

I think it brings the whole room together. Check out some other projects hanging out in our living room, like our pallet entertainment center, lyrics wall art, and geometric side tables. Now we just need to finish that gallery wall! 

Cost breakdown:
Rug $25.00, Paint $13.00, Tape $3.00, Medium $8.25 x 2 bottles = $57.50 

What do you think? Would you ever paint a rug? More importantly, would you ever layer a rug on carpet?

Modern Rugs Roundup

Holy Canoli, guys, area rugs are pricey. I've been on the hunt for months, shuffling along all the targets, lurking on all the internets, stalking all the pins - and all to no avail. So, I've taken things to the next level with another diy furniture project and decided to make my own.

To celebrate, here's a roundup of modern rugs that have caught my eye.

1. Seismic Rug by CB2
2. Polygon Dhurrie Rug in Charcoal by CB2
3. VP X Carpet - Verner Panton
4. Jill Rosenwald White Faithful Wool Rug

Which one is your favorite? Do you have a go-to store for affordable rugs?

Stay tuned for more apartment diy, and my rug diy on Friday!