Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Car Trash Can That is Easy as 1, 2, 3...

I have been SO busy for the last month or two that I have found myself spending way more time in my car than I would like, which also means way more snacks gobbled down when I am running from here to there.  To be honest, it kind of looked like a homeless person was camping out in there.  

I had seen a very simple solution floating around on Pinterest, and decided that I absolutely positively had to steal the idea for myself when I found a pack of three food storage containers at the Christmas Tree Shop for $5.99!

Step 1: Remove large, annoying sticker from the outside and use two smaller containers for cereal or snacks. 

Step 2: Place a regular old plastic shopping bag inside the largest container.

Step 3:  Put that sucker in your car and enjoy not having trash and crumbs floating around.  Woo hoo!

I am downright obsessed with this thing.  I love that the flip lid is easy and keeps all the nastiness inside.  I also love how easy it is to grab the bag out and toss it on trash day.

- Mary

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Pinspiration

I don't know about you, but I am a hopeless romantic.  As in I cry during comercials, love chick flicks and sing along to ballads in my car as loud as I can crank up the volume.  I am not a crazy cat lady (yet) or a weirdo, just smushy!  Of course, I also love Valentine's Day.  In that vein, here are a few of my very favorite Valentine's ideas in case your casa is in need of some last minute Valentine's love.  They are all printables or things you can make by hand pretty easily that cost next to nothing.  Woo hoo!

 - Mary

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day Gifts for Boys

Okay, so I totally realize that Valentine's Day is in two days and that this post is a little late.  BUT it also falls on a Tuesday and I figured that a lot of people will celebrate next weekend when it is cheaper and well, the weekend!  Plus I have been busy.  SUPER SUPER busy!

If you're anything like me you probably think that it is nearly impossible to find a great gift for your guy, especially if you're on a budget.  Here are some of my favorite gift ideas.

52 Reasons I Love You
This little book is made out of a deck of cards, making it both cheap and adorable.  What a thoughtful, personal gift!

{source}                                                         {source}

I just picked up this deck of cards at Michael's today for only 49 cents!  How cute are they?  And not super girly either.  Plus I love that they come in a hard plastic case.  That way I won't have to figure out how to bind them all together.  If I don't have time to make it for Mr. House Fairy this year I will definitely be making it next year.

Candy Grams
These super cute printables are SO easy!  All you do is print it out and attach it to a snack.  What man wouldn't want that?  This would also be very cute to stick in his lunch every now and then just to make him feel good.

Picture Coasters
I LOVE this idea.  It is perfect for Valentines Day, Christmas, Mother's Day, birthdays or any other holiday.  So personal and so inexpensive... they are made with cheap kitchen or bath tiles!

- Mary

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Basement

We moved into our house right before Thanksgiving from a teeny tiny apartment in the city.  Somehow, even though we lived in a few hundred square feet I managed to collect and store quite a few things.  First of all, I am a kindergarten teacher.  I have tons of thematic bins full of books, puzzles and lots of random trinkets.  I can't resist a good deal on ANYTHING that I could possibly potentially someday use in my classroom.  I am also a HUGE holiday person.  I love Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween and every little holiday in between.  Hence MORE bins filled with ornaments, wreaths, wall hangings, holiday photographs and tons more.  This combination left me us with tons of stuff.  Stuff that ALL seemed to end up in the basement.  

Finally last weekend my boyfriend we couldn't take it anymore.  The bins, boxes and bags seemed to be creeping out further and further from their one wall into the center of the basement.  It was ridiculous!  Luckily, the creeping box incident happened during the exact same weekend that Target was having a fantastical shelving sale.  We had researched tons of shelves at every store ranging from Ikea to Home Depot.  We were afraid that wood would sag, plastic wouldn't be strong enough and metal could rust.  Finally, we found coated chrome shelves that are wide, open and super tall.  We liked these ones in black the best.* 

Here is the super scary view of of the gigantic pile.  I sorted and sorted and we threw away/recycled/donated tons of stuff.

Here it is from the side

And here is the man assembling the shelves.  We bought two extra large shelves and one regular sized shelf to fit our space.  The first shelf took about 20 minutes to assemble and the other ones only took about 10 minutes each because we knew where we wanted the shelves and could line them up with the first shelf.

Here it is, all nice and organized!  

On the left, we have my school and teacher things.  In the two grey bins in the middle are seasonal clothes and on the right are holiday bins, wrapping paper and other items.

Here is the whole thing one more time... I just can't get enough!

To prove to you how much more space we have now that the mess is contained, here is a video of Mr. House Fairy channeling Speed Racer on the roller blades that he rediscovered when we organized.  Love it!

*The dimensions listed here say that the shelf is about 50" high, but ours are closer to 72".  I am not sure if this is a typo online or what.  We bought ours in the store.

- Mary

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mr. Clean: The Perfect Man

I am in love. Head over heals. And I am not talking about my fiancee, Nate. While he is wonderful and all, he cannot clean like Mr. Clean. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser has transformed my life. Annoying furniture marks on the wall? Bam! Mr. Clean takes it off. Streaks of dirt that linger your car after every wash? Bam! Mr. Clean has you covered. Leftover plastic sticky-goo from a Christmas Tree Shoppes price tag? Bam! Step aside, Mr. Clean to the rescue!
Mr. Clean really does magically erase anything you want. So far, there is nothing he has been unable to clean for me. When I first saw the commercials for the sponge years ago, I admit that I was a skeptic. I kind of put it in the category of the Shamwow and all those other infomercial products: Restrain from buying, unlikely to work. (Side note: Does anyone else desperately want a Lint Lizard?) Since it was new, along came a coupon in the paper and I decided to try it out. I've been hooked ever since. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not normally a brand snob. The Mr. Clean is my one exception. I have tried the Target and Stop N' Shop brands and they just don't hold up the same as Mr. Clean.

So whether you're a classroom teacher with crayon all over your tables, or a mom with crayon all over your walls, let Mr. Clean bring a little magic into your life.


*This blog is not endorsed by Mr. Clean (I wish) so these are just my opinions and experiences. I'm not getting paid to express these ideas, sadly.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What would Sabrina Soto say?

I love HGTV. I love it so much I ordered a subscription to their new magazine. (It’s in a basket under my coffee table untouched but the intention was there.) I dream of being best friends with Sabrina Soto. I have a file folder chock full of design inspiration. Point being, I respect all things HGTV.
When we moved into our apartment last year I knew I thought it’d be fun to take on a little DIY HGTV project. So after watching approximately 4,523 hours of Design on a Dime I decided I wanted a picture wall.
But, and don’t tell Sabrina this, I knew I wanted to use the frames I already had because let’s face it I’m cheap AND poor. This meant they wouldn’t be just black or white frames. They weren’t going to match. Not only that, I didn’t want to use any newfangled “kit” to hang it. I could do it myself. I mean, I do what I want. Like honey badger. How hard could it be? (It’s not hard if you can’t stand the suspense.)
Anyway. We decided on a picture wall above the desk in our office. (And by “we” I mean “me”.) I’m obsessed with it. I think it looks so good. Thoughts?
(Try to ignore the terrible quality of the picture and my magnet board crap at the bottom.)
Now I’d like to tell you that I rotate the pictures or swap them out at holidays but that would be a lie. Because really, who actually has the time or patience for that? I would much rather be spending that time watching Law & Order while eating popcorn. And I do. And it’s wonderful.
Here’s what I did so you too can replicate my awesomeness if this is your style:
1. Gather up all the frames you already have and aren’t using. Or haven’t hung up yet.
(You didn’t think there were that many did you? Embarrassing isn’t it? Where do they all come from?!)
2. Decide on the pictures you want to print or put in the frames. I always make sure that the frame and the picture go together. I stalked TJ Maxx for a week until I found this frame for my friend’s wedding photo.
*I recommend a blend of both people and places. Sabrina Soto agrees.
3. Once you have all your frames with pictures in them, measure the length and height of the space you have. I measured the same amount on the floor and marked it off with shoes. Very precise.
4. Now the real fun begins. I chose the picture I wanted to be my focal point and just started arranging other pictures around it, spreading them all out over the floor of my bedroom. Play around with the shape of the frames and the spacing until it looks good to your eye. It’s not scientific but you’ll know.
5. Now when you go to hang, you put your focal frame in the middle. You can just free hand the other frames or you can color the back of them with pencil (on the stand part) so that when you place it on the wall where you want it the pencil will rub off to mark the spot for the nail.
*I didn’t actually do it that way it just came to me right now as I was typing this blog. That is probably way easier than doing it free hand and prevents multiple nail holes.
6. Voila! Stand back and appreciate the mastery of your work.

- Kendra

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


For those of you who haven't heard, my boyfriend and I bought a house a few months ago, and moved in right before Thanksgiving.  This weekend, we finally got around to hanging our first picture!  "Why haven't you hung any pictures?" you may be thinking to yourself.  WELL, lovely readers, we are getting insulation blown into the walls in February.  My said boyfriend is CONVINCED that any nails in any pictures hung in any walls of the house will simultaneously FLY out of the walls when the insulation is blown in.  Now, I am no insulation blower, but I am pretty sure that this will not happen, particularly on the interior walls that aren't even being insulated.  But, I know when to pick my battles.  You see, if I gave in on this picture hanging battle I got to pick our new kitchen sink faucet.  More on that later.  Also, we did decide to hang one single solitary picture after all.

 Of course, the man had to run out and buy a stud finder just for this occasion.  Here he is figuring out where the studs are.

 Of course, I had to take a series of awkward photos demonstrating how I would prefer to use a stud finder.  In case you are wondering, all you really have to do is hold it up to your man's chest and say BEEP BEEP BEEP until he tells you to shut it and stop getting in his way. 

 Here is the wall next to our front door looking sad and very, very empty.

And here it is afterwards.  Cute, right?  What is most impressive is that he picked the photos and frame, printed them and wrapped it all up to give me for Christmas.  I may or may not have shed a tear.  I also may or may not be the world's biggest sap.

Here I am posing with our first picture, in my very flattering and sexy outfit of sweatpants and stained sweatshirt.  I also may or may not have showered at this point.  Ain't no shame in my game!

- Mary

Friday, January 13, 2012

DIY Engagement Gift

Kendra got engaged a few months ago, and over Christmas the mothers of the bride and groom threw a surprise engagement party for them.  I was racking my brain trying to come up with a sweet and thoughtful gift for them, since they are two of my favorite people on the planet.  I was thinking and thinking, and kept coming back to the idea that what they really wanted was money to help pay for their honeymoon.  They don't need a lot of "stuff," and if you keep reading this blog you will find out that Kendra HATES clutter!  

I came up with a personalized savings jar to help them save for their amazing honeymoon.

1. Pick out a jar.  I found this one at The Container Store.  You might want to NOT do what I did, and go for a jar that you can actually put change in.  Whoops!

 2.  Print out a photo of the lovely couple and modge podge the hell out of it.  Again, don't do what I did, which was making it too big and creating a weird modge podge wrinkle in it.  Jazz it up with a few ribbons if that's your jam.

3.  Put some money in it!

I kinda sorta love this idea because EVERYONE who is getting married needs money to pay for the wedding, the honeymoon or both.  Why not help them get started?

 Optional step: have an inspector examine it to make sure you didn't miss anything!

On another note, as the Maid of Honor I just want to thank Kendra publicly for not being like this ahemm bride.

"Pinning, pinning, pinning, pinned..."  and "I wanna be swallowed in ruffles"... I die!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Redesign

If you’re anything like me, I’m always on the hunt for a deal, especially inexpensive design ideas because let’s face it, I’m no Kardashian in the money department. Often the things suggested in magazines too are so complicated I lose steam before I even begin! We thought it would be great to highlight a few simple ones each week in this feature, drawing on everyday things that can be repurposed in your home. Killing two birds with one stone, that’s my mantra. (Side note: Be careful how you use the phrase, 5th graders are likely to get upset). This week’s ideas I discovered while Pinteralking (aka stalking on Pinterest) and I couldn’t wait to share.
For $1.99 from Ikea you can get those plastic bag holders and they double perfectly as a quick, easy way to store wrapping paper. You don’t have to do anything to them! Check it out:
I’m not sure if they’d stand on their own. A lot of people say they need to be attached to the wall. I say that instead of screwing them into the wall, you could use the picture holder stuff from 3M (I think?) that pulls right off the wall when you’re done. That way, you could keep them in a closet out of the way if you wanted and still be able to pull the bin out. Or you can keep them along the wall of your craft room if you have that kind of space, which I think looks super cool.
In my office, I’ve always felt torn between wanting a bulletin board or shelf above my desk. This next idea is both (which I guess makes it a belf?) and requires NO effort. Just take a small desk drawer that you don’t need or want anymore and by hanging it up flat against the wall you get both: bulletin board AND shelf. Huzzah!
How magical is that? Wondering where to find a shelf? Don’t just have an extra pile lying around? Well, I have a solution! If you live in a city area, check out the discarded furniture on or around September 1st, some college student is ALWAYS discarding their things as they move out. You can put the drawer up as is or could easily spray paint it to match whatever you wanted. A place like Walmart has cheap contact paper with fun designs you could use to cover the bulletin board area like they’ve done.
This last idea would be a bit more effort but is totally worth it. You can use an old dresser and turn it into a kitchen island. Salvation Army, Goodwill and those types of stores have great, study furniture for such good prices. (Getting it home is another story. May I suggest NOT using a Yaris). You might want to paint it like they’ve done, or if you would a cool old wood one it might just need a bit of refinish to bring out its sparkle. Add a paper towel holder, the kind you’d buy for over the sink, and a few screw in hooks and you’re good to go. This one is on wheels even!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

DIY Meal Planner

I'll be honest... I am not the most organized lady in the whole world.  Kendra is definitely in the running for organization queen, but I am not even close.  Hey, at least I'm not a hoarder!  I am also quite possibly not the best at saving money.  Some of my New Years Resolutions are to save money through couponing, meal plan every week and to be more organized.  Well, this little baby helps me hit on all three!  Meal planning It also jazzes up my stuck in the 50's kitchen a little bit. 

This DIY is so easy peasy that I didn't think I needed to take pictures of each step.
  1. Trim a piece of pretty scrapbook paper to fit inside your frame.  Mine is 8 x 10" (and was bought with a 50% off coupon at Michael's!)
  2. Use fancy sparkly letter stickers to indicate the days of the week.  I simply did M T W T F S S.  Be careful to space them evenly, and make sure that none of the stickers end up under the frame part.  You could also use labels with the days of the week typed out.  I decided that I wanted something subtle and simple.
  3. Put your scrapbook paper in the frame.
  4. Write your meal plan for the week directly onto the glass with a dark colored dry erase marker.  You could probably also use Vis a Vis markers, but they were more expensive.
  5. Hang it up, and start cooking!