Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $29 Delicious DKNY too!

Today's savvy outfit is brought to you by the thrift store, TJMaxx and Belk's. This is casual and definitely comfortable given the stretch on these jeans! Although looking back at my savvy outfit from just the other day, I can't believe how much dressier this one looks JUST because of the dark wash of the jeans. Dang if Clinton Kelly & Stacy London aren't right once again!

The overall cost of today's outfit is so much less as well given the cost of the overcoat and the purse of the other day so I guess it's not THAT bad, but still! It's amazing how the "extras" can really change the grand total!

The Breakdown.
Ann Taylor brown sweater ($4 thrift store), Sunny Leigh printed button up shirt ($8 Belk's), The Limited blackwash Drew Jeans ($5 TJMaxx), yummy chocolate DKNY leather & suede purse ($8 thrift store), Anne Klein bronze shoes ($4 thrift store). Grand Total: $29

In the last year I have found that I like wearing a collared shirt under a v-neck sweater. It breaks it up a bit and the layering helps in cooler weather. This Sunny Leigh shirt is machine washable too so I'm not spending money at the dry cleaners, which ruins the whole saving time & money thing, you know?

You can't really tell from the main picture, but the shoes are a deep bronze color, more of a brown with a touch of sheen. The thought of wearing bronze shoes never occurred to me until recently when I realized that I can dress rather monochromatic at times and the extra sheen adds a subtlety that keeps the outfit from looking too boring. The sheen also helps when trying to wear different browns together and/or if want to wear them with black.

Like I said, I'm not looking for any fashion award, but I hope what I wear doesn't scream I'm-a-stay-at-home-mom-who-homeschools-her-kids-so-I-don't-have-time-for-myself. The haggard look in my eyes should say that loud and clear...ha, ha, just kidding!

Target Sales 75% Off Christmas 2008

Just wanted to give you Gals & Guys a heads-up. Target just went 75% off of their Christmas stuff today. Some of the toys are 30% off and the Dollar Section is 50%. I did pretty well today, as far as not spending a bunch of money although I admit having a full cart that slowly diminished as I thought through what I really needed versus "kinda wanted". Even though it's a great price, these kind of things are more of a luxury than a necessity.

I got away with spending $3 on some white rope light that I plan on using on the railing of my deck. The great thing about this 25 foot light is that it can be used on top of your kitchen cabinets to add a nice "glow". Plug them in and use one of those "outdoor switches" and you can turn them on with just a touch of a button. I'll do a blog on that sometime soon too. It's awesome!

Speaking of light, I'm telling you, if you want lights or lawn decorations, now is the time to get them. At 75% off they won't last long. I was in the store for about an hour and it was a MADHOUSE! A fun madhouse, but still!

The Dollar Section (now 2 for a $1) was where I scored a bunch of things for Superstar #1's birthday gift bags. When did that start, by the way? I thought the birthday girl was the only one who got things and now my kids get sent away with a bag full of goodies for showing up. That never happened to me as a kid, but given the price I was able to load up on 4 packs that can be divided into separate bags making it even more cost effective and fun. I wish I knew when it would be 75% so I could get them for a quarter each!

I stayed away from toys as I know that in a couple weeks Target will put those extra toys up for 75% off. Last year I used it as a time to buy Birthday Gifts for the year. I'm not kidding! The Dollar Section will also go 75% in the coming weeks. When all that happens I will try to give y'all the heads-up on that because who can't use a little "rewards" for their kids or their kid's classrooms for a quarter a piece?

In the end it was a successful trip to Target. I didn't spend more than $20 and walked away with some things I wanted (the rope lighting) and two beautiful red glass Christmas Trees for a dear Friend of mine who collects red glass. The woman in front of me in line said that the same type of trees were $50 in the Partylite catalogue recently.

Have fun out there, but remember, be savvy about the money you spend. A deal is not a deal if you really can't use it or if it breaks your budget.

Monday, December 29, 2008

How I Spent my Christmas Vacation...

What is it with Holiday vacations? Why can't I be content to sit on my butt and enjoy a cup of good cheer? Why is my idea of a "relaxing" vacation seem to entail tools and/or noxious chemicals? And WHY on earth do I have such a willing accomplice in my Beloved? Isn't it his job to keep me from going nuts with the cleaning and organizing as is inherent in my German/Japanese DNA?

So, what did I do? I helped my husband put shelves in our attic.
Well, they're not technically shelves, but large 4'x8' pieces of OSB (oriented strand board) we had the fine fellows at Lowe's cut in half to fit on the cross beams of the attic. I confess, this was definitely not one of my most favorite projects Being doubled over in the attic is never fun, and NEVER for hours at a time, but this project sure was one of the most practical, and the end result speaks for itself.

You see, before we just stacked things on the studs of the floor of the attic, which in turn flattened all the lovely insulation that is suppose to help keep the house warm/cool. This method of storage also made walking along the center aisle and trying to get to items while not hitting your head on the studs extremely frustrating.

My Beloved was the one who realized that all we needed to do was lay down a board where the crossbeams "crossed" so to speak, and voila, instant shelf! Though the project was relatively easy and could be done alone by a strong man or woman, it is much easier with two people given the size of the boards you end up using. As for tools, we could have done the whole thing with just a tape measure but we decided to increase the storage space by nailing a 2x4 across a couple studs to create another shelf on another part of the attic that didn't have the crossbeams that we could just set boards down upon.

See how we basically just laid down the piece of wood where the cross beams crossed? And because we had an extra small piece from somewhere in the garage, we did a double tier on one side, which although narrow, is perfect for the suitcases of which we have an enormous selection apparently!

Voila! I think what amazes me is that we spent about $25 and about 2 hours on this project (getting the boards, moving stuff, etc.) and just look at the final result. It's beautiful...sniff, sniff...who knew a clean attic would move me so?

Project Breakdown
Three 7/16" x 4' x 8' OSB Boards ($17), box of nails ($3), One 2' x 4' ($3).
Grand Total: $23 End Result: PRICELESS!

My husband said it would have actually cost less than $20 for the whole project if we hadn't needed to replace the floor boards going down the middle of the attic. They were started to give way and since neither one of us wanted to go through the second story dry wall ceiling, we decided to spend the extra $6 for another piece of OSB which pushed it over $20.

A few extra notes on this project. You don't have to use OSB, you can use any sort of plywood providing that it's sturdy enough to bear the weight you intend to load on to it. I'm sure the MDF (medium density fiberboard) would work but it's more expensive and it would weigh a TON.

Also, make sure you get the folks at Lowe's or Home Depot to cut the boards: it makes it easier to carry home (we have one of the smaller vans, an MPV and it was easy to bring home) and unless you have a table saw, it is a pain in the behind to cut yourself. And really why do it when there's no charge to have someone else do it for you?

What if you don't have the same cross beam set up we do because of the architectural style of your home? You can always do what we did for the Christmas tree area on the other side of the attic. This is where the extra 2'x4' we nailed to the vertical pieces studs in the attic and then used that to rest another piece of OSB upon. I think we added a nail here and there for extra stability.

Remember I told you we had two big Christmas trees now? Since we actually use our garage for the cars and we have no outside shed of any sort, into the attic they went. In addition to the tree shelf we pounded in a few long nails into the boards and it's the perfect place to hang all my wreaths for next year where they don't bend out of shape.

This is a VERY easy project that not only helps organizationally and spatially, but it also helps to improve resale value. First because it makes things look more organized, and second, lessens the appearance of cramming SO much stuff in the attic that the potential buyers think "There must not be enough storage in the house!" You laugh, but I hear it time and again on Designed to Sell a great show to watch because it will give you tons ideas of how to make your home look great for a fraction of the cost.

Now all we have to do is get some more insulation to fill up the mushed down insulation from my previous storage methods. I want to make it as nice & puffy and energy saving as possible. Luckily we have a neighbor who specializes in that kind of stuff so you know I will be savvy in that too!

It's such a simple thing, but making the most out of what you have is the savviest way to save. Thanks to my husband's ingenuity our attic is now a source of pride rather than frustration.

Savvy Outfit of the Day $86 - Coach & Outerwear

So, I realize that as we head into winter, the outfits get more expensive, usually by virtue of the addition of outerwear, but I do want to make sure I include it as it shows that you can get great outerwear at a fraction of the price if you hit the thrift store and/or sales at the major department stores.

That said, today's savvy outfit of the day is brought to you by the thrift store, Dillard's, Target, and eBay. Admittedly the jeans are lighter than what I usually wear, but I have found that I've put on a few pounds over the summer and combined with my lack of desire to squeeze into any jean that doesn't have some sort of stretch in it, this is what I came up with. Of course, just changing the jeans into cords would have made this outfit more "dressy" but I was in a casual mood today.

The Breakdown.
Armani Exchange jeans ($4 thrift store), Mossimo black sweater ($5 Target), Joan & David patent & leather ballet flats ($4 thrift store), Coach Bleecker handbag ($48 eBay), Hayden & Harnett leather tassel on Coach bag ($8 eBay), I.N Studio jacket ($17 Dillard's sale). Grand Total:

Once again a little nod to my stylist Clinton Kelly as he continues to tout the ballet flats as a great way to dress up a casual outfit. I LOVE these little flats from Circa, Joan & David! The patent leather detail on the from and back and even the bow (and I am NOT a bow person) is understated but still a little dressy, and for $4 I couldn't resist such a wardrobe staple.

This handbag from Coach was also a little more expensive, but it's a classic that will last for years. As with all my handbags, I pay a price that I know I can recoup should I ever tire of it and want to re-sell it on eBay. It's the best way I know to keep from overspending when it comes to purses/shoes/whatever your particular fancy may be, though it's not a bad rule of thumb to use when considering any items that are trendy. Of course, even if it is a staple item, like this black coat, I like the idea of being able to sell it for what I paid if it's at all possible!

The other thing that I added to this outfit was the tassel on the purse. Hayden Harnett sells them and they are clip-ons. I use this particular tassel on several different purses as a way to dress them up a little or change the look. If you look at the high end Prada and Gucci purses, you'll see that some have a great tassel on it, I thought it would be fun to buy a clip-on and use it to dress up several purses. I've also used them on zip-up purses that have small pulls. It makes opening up a zipped purse easier if you've got a lot of stuff to carry or a kid to hold on to.

These tassels retail for $32 on the Hayden Harnett website. I bought it on eBay. Actually I paid $18 for one, but since they didn't have the color I wanted the seller threw in an extra free tassel so I kind of look at it like paying $9 each.

In the end, as I share these day-to-day outfits, I hope y'all know that they are by no means the most fashion forward of wardrobes, even though sometimes I try to be a little trendy. I really wear these clothes when I run out to the store with the girls to by groceries, though I may not get them on till after noon when the homeschooling stuff is finished.

I just think it's naive to think that how you present yourself doesn't affect the way that people perceive you or how you feel about yourself. If putting on a Target sale-rack sweater and ballet flats means you look more together and you feel more sassy than in an oversized sweatshirt & tennis shoes when you go to Walmart for groceries then why not? With savvy shopping it no longer becomes an issue of cost.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Contact Me

Do you like a certain Savvy Outfit of the Day? Want to share a fabulous find? Or is there something you want to know some Savvy Savings Advice on? Email me and let me know! I love hearing from you.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Buying Mineral Make-up & Skin Care Items Savvy-Style

I don't know about you, but it seems like all my "products" run out at the same time. It started about two weeks ago, I noticed that I was almost out of my foundation mineral powder and my eye liner, not to mention low on my daily moisturizer. I'm always on the look out for my favorite products in the store, whether Kroger, Target or Walmart. I even check Big Lots since they will buy out drug store lots for dirt cheap (I always check out the expiration date). But if I get near the end of a product I turn to eBay.

Oil of Olay Regenerist
I started using the Oil of Olay Regenerist line about 2 years ago after noticing the changes in my Mom's skin. She's 6o-something. It began with the Daily Moisturizer and the Serum, something I decided to jump into when I found them on sale at Target. Apparently the company was changing something on the packaging and they were getting rid of their $18-$25 products for $3.24 each. I bought several bottles of each, including the eye serum. Two years later I am still a fan and rarely (once-twice a year) suffer any breakouts. This from a woman who has a little bit of scarring on my temples from my teenage acne days.

That said, I hate paying full price for it. Costco is still $27 which is a decent price given that it's the industrial size, but I have to say that I've been able to buy the Defense Regenerating Lotion (the one with sunscreen) for less than $10 on eBay including shipping. The least I've paid for it is $5. Considering it runs $17-21 at Target and places like Walgreens and Kroger, it's a whole lot cheaper and like I always say, even better when I don't have to leave the house to get it. The same is true for any of the Regenerist line on eBay, including the Daily Regenerating Serum.

MAC Eye Liner Gel - Blacklight
Next I needed some black gel eyeliner. I had bought it a the Mac counter but only because the guy behind the counter taught me how to do "cat-eyes" and I figured it was the nice thing to do. Having a friend who once worked cosmetics I can't help but do that, it's like paying them for the time and expertise.

If I remember right, it cost about $15. Now that I was almost out and decided the cat eye look was something I wanted to continue, I went online on eBay and found that I really wasn't going to get it for that much less, and in some cases the seller wanted more than what I paid in the store. So, I went with an alternative, Loreal HIP Color Truth. It has a similar enough consistency and I got two containers of it for $13, and each one was twice the size of the Mac container.

Mineral Makeup
Last but not least I needed more mineral foundation. Now my girlfriend works at Bare Escentuals in the mall and though I like the product, it's really just so much more than I am wanting to spend. Thankfully I found a brand on eBay that is comparable to Bare Escentuals, at least what thousands of buyers on eBay have said about it, and I love it. Joelle Cosmetics is the eBay store and though she has her own website, it's less expensive on eBay by a couple dollars.

I bought a "starter pack" for about $40 and received two shades of foundation powder (light, medium), a finishing powder (veil), shine reduction powder, a nighttime skin renewal treatment,
blush, bronzer, both green and yellow color correctors, a concealor powder, 3 eye shadow colors, a large kabuki brush, earth a small/mini kabuki brush and 6 other brushes. I bought that back at the beginning of June, and I'm just now having to buy more foundation and veil. It cost me $14 for one (1) 30 gram sifters of foundation and one (1) 30 gram sifter of veil. Since the first sifter contained 20 grams I imagine this will last me a good long time!

Not all mineral makeup is created equal as those amazing Bare Escentual infomercials say, and it's true with Joelle products. I tried a mineral makeup alternative years ago when it first came out. Maybe Physician's Formula? Whatever it was it irritated my skin, a subtle burn with slight redness. Turns out my skin was reacting to bismuth oxychloride a filler used in lesser mineral brands that is a less expensive alternative to zinc which provides a sheen/glow. Joelle products DO NOT contain it.

I've never had a problem with the product and I love the coverage it gives without looking like I've caked-on make up. Here's the list of benefits Joelle provides, it's better explains why I love this makeup so much.
  • FDA Sun Block Rating of SPF 20 (due to the high Titanium & Zinc content)
  • No BISMUTH OXICHLORIDE in the Foundation Base. It is shiny, and can be irritating to sensitive skin types. Simply mica, titanium dioxide,zinc oxide,and iron oxides.
  • Non-comedogenic, will not block pores. Free of oils, silicones and waxes.
  • No allergy risk. Minerals are inert with no activity
  • SPF 20- Broad-spectrum UVB, UVA & URA protection
  • Anti-inflammatory, helps to calm and soothe irritated skin
  • Very water resistant rating by an approved FDA lab
  • Complete, flawless coverage for skin conditions like acne, rosacea and redness following treatments like chemical peels and laser resurfacing
  • Contains no fillers like talc , rice powders, flours
  • Composed of inert minerals that CANNOT support bacteria
  • Environmentally aware and NOT tested on animals
I've used my own make-up and skincare products as an example of how much you can save by looking to eBay for your needs. Do a quick search today and see what you find. Just keep in mind, the more time you have to a) watch auctions and b) watch new product listings, the better price you are going to get. If you're in a hurry, use the Buy It Now option and you'll still save money. If you can check for it every couple of days, you may get an even better deal by winning an auction. I paid $7.99 total for my Regenerist Lotion but if I had been checking a couple days back, I could have gotten it for $5.99. Yes, $7.99 versus $18 is good, but $5.99 is even better!

Now that I'm all stocked up on my face products, I'm ready for my close-up!

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $40

Today's outfit is thanks to Target, Belk's, For Love 21, Rave, and the thrift store. It's a simple, weekend look that means me and the family are out to see the movies! The Tale of Despereaux is on the agenda; having read it for homeschool we are so excited to see it, although I am already explaining that books don't always translate to the silver screen the way they play out in our mind's eye. That said, I can't wait!

The Breakdown.
Purple Mossimo shirt (Target sale $5), white tank top (Rave $4), Red Camel denim skirt ($7 Belk's sale), Gray/Black tights (For Love 21 $6), Leg Warmer Leather Boots ($8 thrift store), Kate Spade purse ($10 thrift store). Grand Total: $40

Ok, so the boats are rather cool, aren't they? I have no idea what the brand name is, I looked everywhere and couldn't find it, although the 37 size on the bottom means they must be European. Suffice to say the bottom part of the foot is a leather boot and the top is warm scrunchy knit. Yes, it's trendy, so I tried to keep the rest of the outfit classic.

A Clinton Kelly tip in fact. I just turned 40 so trying to follow the trends can make one look I'm trying to hard to look young, so Clinton says pick one thing trendy but make sure the rest of the outfit is more classic. Voila!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Savvy Holiday Savings

Please forgive me my Savvy Friends! Between a new job (a little PR consulting on the side), sickness, my FORTIETH birthday (did I really type that?!) and an unusual amount of business travel by my Beloved I've been totally neglecting you all! But fear not, there is yet time to Shop Savvy this Holiday season!

Outside of the stress of parties, birthdays (my own and the youngest Superstar's, whose we celebrate New Years Day) I do love the Christmas season. I love it especially now that we're in a place where it actually snows (versus my Southern California upbringing). The cold weather adds to the whole ambiance of the season.

That said, if we're "lucky" it may snow 10 inches a year. Because of this, Nashvillians are ill-equipped for the white stuff. We have only 3 snow plows in our county just south of the city and you can bet that the milk and bread will be stripped from the shelves should there be any sort of television or radio forecast where the word "snow" is mentioned. It's crazy, but I love it.

I also love decorating the outside of our house. Truth be told, we're pretty low-key and simple but always savvy.

The Breakdown.
The wreaths we use are almost 10 years old now. I originally bought them at Jo-ann's for $4 a piece and when we moved to a larger home, I bought some garland for $1 a pack to make them a little bit bigger to fit the scale of the house. The red velvet bows were $1 each at The Dollar General Store. I used another package of garland to frame the door and used a $1.99 end-of-season Kroger large light bulb strand to light it up. The plastic snowflakes were $1 each at The Dollar Tree. The 3 sets of bush lights were $2 each, an end-of-the-season Walmart buy, and the red ball Christmas Tree was a $10 find at the thrift store. In all, it's enough to be festive, but simple enough that it takes about 1/2 hour to put everything up and tear it all down.

Next up, a few of my favorite Christmas tips to help make the season savvy and bright.

Suction Cups - I can't begin to tell you how much I love these suckers...ha, ha, ha, get it? Suckers? Ahem...I found a bag of them for $4.99 at the thrift store a couple years back. At the time I hesitated buying them because A) I wasn't sure if they really worked and B) it seemed an awful lot of money (I know I'm cheap) for plastic. Now I am SOOOOO thankful I got them. They are PERFECT for hanging wreaths on outdoor windows, front storm doors and indoor mirrors.

Being the clean-lined person I am, I love that the wreaths seem to just magically stay in place without any extra stuff hanging out and around. And they are strong suckers too! We've been through ice storms with these babies on our windows and the wreaths don't fall off.

I had previously used the itty-bitty suction cups to hang the outdoor wreaths. It took two, one on each window pane, with fishing line between to hang them up. Yes, a pain, but I gotta tell you, they still worked. The big ones are the best though since you need only one. All you have to do is hang out the window a second, stick it on, push the hook down to lock it in place and put the wreath up. No ladders and it's easy to do without feeling like you're going to fall out of the window.

Now that I am using the big suction cups outside, I used the mini-suction cups in a new way to add a some color to one of our mirrors in our living room. It's a simple & nice touch that doesn't leave marks on the surface you use and it took about 5 minutes to gather old cast offs from previous projects to just stick on the mirror. As for price, the large suction cups run about $5 a two pack at Walmart, but I did find a 16 pack on eBay right now, $20, including shipping. Truthfully, I haven't priced the little ones lately, but I'm sure you can get a pack of 5-10 of them at Walmart and even Target for about $5.

LED flicker tea lights & candles. Another great thing to have around the Holiday season or really, anytime of the year. I started using them in jack-o-lanterns at Halloween and I've been in love with them ever since.

This year I decided to use them in a wrought iron Christmas candle holder that I had bought years ago at the thrift store and use to use on my living room armoire. Back then I put the string lights I used on the garland decorating the candle holder, but this year I wanted to use it someplace else, our front foyer, which incidently does not have a convenient outlet to plug in lights.

Six dollars and a trip to The Dollar Tree later I ended up with 4 glass mosaic candle holders and 4 LED tealights ($1 for a two-pack). The mosaic is just opaque enough that it hides the fact that the flickering light is a battery powered contraption versus a candle. It looks pretty realistic, enough so that Superstar #1 keeps sticking her hand in the holders "just to make sure". As for the extra decorating "stuff" around the base of the candle holder - that was some of what I pulled off the wreath I bought and re-purposed for my bathroom!

I used the same technique for a couple of candle sconces in our dining room, one of which is right next to the curtains. For obvious reasons I've not lit the candles and yet given the dark color of the walls, the extra flickering light would add a nice touch. A trip to Kirkland's and two $5.99 candles later I have led pillar candles that look real. The manufacturer even "melted" the sides unevenly and added wax drips so that it looks like a real candle. The vanilla scent is another nice touch. They even come with two "levels" of flicker, one dimmer than the other. Other than the fact that it takes 4 double AA batteries, these guys should last for years as I only use them when we are in the dining room or have guest over.

Having looked on eBay, Walmart, Target, Kohl's and other places I can say that Kirkland's are the cheapest and they look the best.

Stocking stuffers ala eBay. Have I told you HOW much I love eBay? I recently sat through the Magic Worm presentation at the mall and almost walked away with two worms for $20. Seriously. I almost forked over $20 for two little pieces of fuzz and that was their idea of a discount from the $12 for 1. I quickly came to my sense and went home immediately and found the Magic Worm Fuzzle for $2.99 a piece with FREE SHIPPING on eBay. This little guys are going to be stocking stuffers from Santa...since he works in the mall and knows exactly where to get them (as Superstar 1 was quick to point out).

As for my Beloved, he wants some of those slim-line earmuffs that fit behind the head. An off-handed comment about how he thought $15 on sale seemed too much issued with a "if you find them cheaper somewhere can you get them for me?" led me to eBay. I snagged these guys for $3.98 including shipping. Dad's stocking will now have something in it so that he doesn't feel left out should the girls and I have full stockings.

The BEST thing about these little things is that they will come directly to me in the mail - no running to the mall, or 10 different stores, frantically searching for the best price...especially when I'm hauling the kids with me, especially when it's snowing outside, especially when I would rather sit at home with a nice cup of coffee sitting at the computer talking to you guys instead.

Costco Photo Christmas Cards. Last but not least, I love Christmas cards that have pictures. I love getting them and seeing the smiling faces of my friends and family, and I can only hope they feel the same way when I send them out. I usually try to snap a picture of the girls in front of the Christmas tree or some other Christmas-y setting, but I did not have time this year!

Thanks to Costco it didn't take a lot of time or money to put together one of the cutest cards I've seen. Costco unveiled larger and multi-photo cards this year. Using a few of the pictures I had taken throughout the year I finished them in about 15 minutes on my computer and picked them up within 48 hours, complete with silver foil "lined" envelopes. Fifty cards were just $14.99.

So my Friends, I hope you will forgive me lack of blogging. Thank you for encouraging me to write more, some of you have even asked me more about my "consultation" with Clinton Kelly. I promise to post more on that plus a picture or two I took that night. I recently watched a slew of What Not to Wear episodes that I had DVR'd on TV and was reminded all over again about how adorable that man is and how thankful I am for his and Stacie's advice.

Till we meet again, Stay Savvy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thrift Store & Trash Can Holiday Decorating

Yeah, that's right, I wrote it. THRIFT STORE & TRASH CAN holiday decorating. And I want you to know I'm not talking cheap chintzy decor, but beautiful accents that make a house a warm, cozy home while giving you a warm fuzzy feeling because of the money you save.

I'm not an over-the-top person. I like clean lines, simplicity and color. I don't want a bunch of extra knick-knacks all over that I have to clean and I don't have time to change out pillows every time the seasons change. So when it comes to Holiday decorating, I want cheap, easy, but beautiful things in key areas to herald in the season. My main colors for Christmas have always been red/burgundy and gold and I have used the same "stuff" to decorate for years now. This year, however, I tried my hand at some silver and some color!

Recently after scanning through one of those home decorating magazines and seeing all the lovely pictures of wreaths over mirrors, I decided I "needed" one for my bathroom for Christmas, but since I didn't want to spend a lot on a luxury item, I went to the thrift store to see what I could find. I was amazed by how many wreaths there were and all for $1.99. I grabbed one that was closest to the size I needed. It was actually pretty nice but it didn't match the colors of my bathroom so I reluctantly took it apart and put the pieces aside so I could use those later for something else.

Then I dropped by the Dollar Tree and for an additional $4 worth of "stuff" and voila, a custom made mirror wreath for $6! I just love the way it brings the Holiday spirit into a room that is often overlooked in Holiday decorating. Seeing as we will be having my birthday party here in the house in just a couple weeks, I figure as long as the guests are "taking care of business" they should enjoy the view, right? As my Realtor friend says, "The bathroom is the one room that your friends will sit with nothing to do but look at your decorating." Can't say I ever thought of it that way before, but it makes sense to me.

As for my trash can find. I guess it wasn't technically a trash can find, though I have dumpster dived with great success before. This was an castoff of a moving neighbor. She had a HUGE pile of things she was going to get rid of and said I was more than welcome to help myself. I took this wreath and continued my wreath on mirror trend in our dining room. I still haven't finished decorating this little area. I'd love to find a red table runner or something to add a splash of color, but since I'll be using this area for serving drinks during the party, I'm hesitant to spend too much time on something I'll just have to take off and find a place to hide it come party time.

Be resourceful when it comes to Holiday decorating. A couple years back I wouldn't have thought of the thrift store as my first stop. I would have caught a deal at Jo-ann's with a coupon and been quite happy, but who doesn't like saving a little money around Christmas-time?

The Dollar Tree and places like that are perfect for little extra things to decorate with, especially shiny plastic ornaments that look like glass, not only are they cheap but they are also kid-friendly! If you need larger sizes or more assortment, check out Big Lots. Our home is FILLED with tons of the plastic red and gold ornaments, hung off mirrors, the trees, the fireplace, light fixtures - you name it. The great thing about it is that the consistent colors it brings a sense of cohesiveness to the whole home.

But when all is said and done, the best Savvy Saving Tip is patience. If money is truly tight,make do with what you have now and wait till the after Christmas sales to buy items for next year when things are 75% off or more. Earlier this year I bought a $300 dollar K-Mart Martha Stewart tree for $22 - so what if it was February and it went straight up into the attic? Combine that with the Martha Stewart burgundy tree skirt I found for $2, I was one happy camper! (Alas, since my husband has allergies, we have to have a fake tree and burn pine scented candles or oil.) For less than the price of a one-time real tree, we are set for a LONG, LONG time.

Truth is, the tree before that was a $19.99 salvage store tree I bought when we first moved into this house. I went to Walmart and bought $1 a yard fabric to drape around the base for a skirt, I didn't know how to sew at the time, but no one could tell. It may have taken me 10 years of marriage to buy a "new" tree, but the family and I have never cared nor noticed a difference.

You know, I could have probably sold my original tree on Craigslist for $20 and almost broke even in price with the new one I bought, but now I have another tree upstairs in the bonus room and we all LOVE it.

Notice the red "tree skirt"? That's the $1 a yard draped fabric I mentioned earlier. And all those brightly colored ornaments? $13 total at Big Lots with an extra $8 spent on colored lights (the tree is pre-lit but half the tree doesn't light up so with the encouragement of the Superstars I went for color this year!) The star, however, was a splurge at $10. It's LED and it changes color....OOooooooo. The cheapest comparable one I could find on eBay was $25 so I didn't feel too bad. $31 for a "whole new tree" for upstairs works for me!

Whatever you decide to do (or not do) when it comes to Holiday decorating, try not to stress out too much. Like
The Nesting Place blog I like to visit says "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." Life is not perfect and our homes will never be if you happen to have another person in your life, whether it's a spouse, a significant other, live-in parents and especially children. Love is messy, but isn't it worth it?

Savvy Outfit of the Day - $56

Today's outfit is a combination that is a bit different for me. I gravitate toward solid color pairings, but when I had my "consultation" with my stylist Clinton Kelly he put together an outfit that used a bright geometric pattern worn under a coat. As someone who is 5'4" I would be considered petite and usually shy away from such bold patterns, because as Clinton says, "You don't want your outfit to walk into the room before you do."

So I'm happy to say that this works, and it's really basic for something that stands out without shouting out "I'M HERE!" As we head toward Christmas I find I use my red coat more. Guess I'm feeling pretty festive now that all my decorating is finished. More on that in another post...

The Breakdown.
A. Byer multi-colored shirt (Macy's sale $11), American Rag black denim jeans (Macy's sale $14), Bromleigh vintage red wool peacoat ($8), Ann Marino leather black wedge ($8 Parisians - I've been wearing these a lot lately!), MAXX New York black patent purse ($15 eBay). Grand Total: $56

This is one of those outfits that are really easy to toss on. It' s comfortable and looks pulled together (but without all the work). So what if I am a mom with two kids 6 and under whose "fanciest" destination will be the supermarket today. I feel good and my husband thinks I look good!