Sunday, January 31, 2010

You’ve Got Questions? We’ve Got Your Answers.

Yep, my familia has the stomach flu. It’s almost 4 am & I haven’t been to bed yet. Poor Sassypants. I thought she was feeling better, but she got sick again tonight. So I’m washing all the bed linens, and while I’m waiting, I thought I’d catch up on blogging duties.

During my giveaway, I took design questions that you wanted help with or further discussed. Hopefully, I’ll be able to cover one or two of those topics every week until I get through them. I’ll work in the order that they were received and may possibly cover several topics together if they’re related.

It’s exciting to use my non-Mommy brain again for design (at least occasionally). I’ll do my best to answer your questions. Just remember design/decorating is a very subjective topic and process. My answers won’t be the Gospel and it may not be right, so if you disagree or need further discussion—let’s talk. I’m sure I can learn a little from all of you as well!

Today’s question comes from Insight, Insanity, Imagination. She asks, I would love to hear(read) your tips on how to dress up a kitchen that needs some loving without much $$ to spend!”

First off, that’s an excellent question! As you all know, the kitchen is where we spend about 70-80% of our time when we’re home. Our kitchen serves as our command center. We prepare meals, eat, pay bills, visit with family and friends, and complete loads of other tasks in this workhorse of the house.

Unfortunately, when it comes to remodeling or freshening up the look of your kitchen, it’s the most expensive update you can do. Just think about it, it’s comprised of major appliances, plumbing, and cabinetry and countertops. Even individually, these items are not cheap to replace.

According to “Remodel” magazine, the national average for a mid-grade kitchen renovation is $56,000, and an upgrade renovation will set you back approximately $110,000. Outrageous, huh? But when you start adding up $2,000 for a refrigerator, $2,000 for a range, $5,000 for granite countertops, $1,000 for a dishwasher, it all adds up.

SOOOO, how can you “freshen” up your kitchen on a minimum budget? You may be thinking some minor updates before a party at your house, or you may be thinking of doing the whole sha-bang.

So to answer your question, I’ll be answering it in 2 parts. I don’t want to say things like “Paint your cabinets.” when you need to ask yourself some questions and do research before you start. First, I’ll help you figure out what you need to change, make a plan on how to change those things, then give you some ideas to later implement.

Go get a pen and paper, and ask yourself these things-

  • What bothers me? Is it the cabinets? The inefficient layout? Outdated appliances? The color? The countertops? The floor? The overall look? Don’t think about what “you want to do or update”. Think about what really bothers you.
  • Make a list of what you can “live with”. If the cabinet construction is good, but you’re not digging the oak finish and brass handles, think about painting them & changing out the hardware.
  • Realistically what can I spend? Add at least 15% cushion to your budget. Trust me, things will come up, and those things cost money.
  • Can I break up the projects into stages? For example, one month you may want to replace the flooring with a tile, and the next month, paint the walls. It doesn’t make sense paint first, then have to pull up the freshly painted baseboards to install the tile.
  • How much can I do myself? If you’re pretty handy or willing to research and learn, you can save yourself a great deal of money by doing some or all of the updates yourself. Can’t install a dishwasher? Then call a plumber. But maybe you can paint or rip up tile. These are things that could be easily done in a weekend and put your budget to better use in other areas.
  • Will I be living here more than 5 years? If you’re renting or only planning on living in your house for a year or two, it wouldn’t be wise to sink thousands and thousands of dollars into remodeling your kitchen. At that point you may want to make minimal updates for livability and resale purposes. If you’re living in your “forever” house, then go for the Viking range. If you know you’ll be moving soon, find a more affordable option.
  • Consider organization and functionality as part of the solution. A little over a year ago, I hired 2 professional organizers to come into my house to get things under control after 7 multi-state moves in 11 years. Yes, I the interior designer, space-planner person called in the troops. It’s one of the best things I ever did for myself and my family. Together we came up with great storage solutions for the kitchen. They didn’t just come in, throw away things, stick labels on every non-moving object, and then leave. We thought about my family’s day-to-day activities in the kitchen and referred to #1 above-“What bothered us?” Once we figured that out and fixed it, I found that we didn’t really need a bigger kitchen and more storage.
  • Once you’ve answered all the above questions, make a “Renovation Notebook”. It can be a file folder, a 3-ring binder or a spiral notebook with pockets. Whatever you can easily carry around. I like to get really bright (neon) file folders or notebooks for my ongoing priority project. That way it’s easy to spot if it’s in your car or mixed in the stack of mail. In your notebook, have the following:

~An ongoing “to-do” list.

~Names and numbers of your contractors, etc.

~A copy of your budget

~A list showing the order of your projects.

~Pictures from magazines or websites that show ideas that you like.

~A list of paint colors, materials, etc. you will be using.

You may be saying, “Phew, that’s all too much. I’m newly married/just had a baby/a college student, etc. and I don’t even have $1,000 to fix up my kitchen.” My answer is… still should ask yourself the same questions. Planning is crucial at an step or stage of renovation. It keeps you closer to your budget, keeps your family all on the same page, and really does save you time.

Stayed tuned---I’ll have some money-saving tips, examples with pictures, and more info to update your kitchen on a budget.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And The Winner Is……

A big thank you to all that entered my giveaway. I really, really triple wish I had a skincare set to give to all of you.

I used the Fred Flintstone method of drawing a winner. I typed out everyone’s name, making 2 entries for previous blog followers.

I then folded up the names, put in my trusty bowl, shook it up, and picked the first name my nubby little fingers could grab.

Sweet Caroline is the winner!! 

Please contact me so I can get your mailing address.

Thanks again everyone.  I printed all the design topics/dilemmas you’d like me to discuss. I’m excited, especially since I’ve been struggling for topics. Please be patient, there are a lot of things to cover, and sometimes this mama is slow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My First Giveaway! CELLCEUTICALS!

I’m excited to announce my very first giveaway! First off, I am in no way being compensated or receiving endorsements from Cellceuticals or the developers of their products. This giveaway consists of products that I use regularly and bought myself. I love them so much that I want to share them with a lucky winner.
I did a post HERE a while back describing my skincare regimen. The Cellceuticals system combined with retinoids and diligent sun protection has totally changed my skin! My skin feels healthier at (gasp!) almost 40 years old than it did 10 years ago. I can have rather reactive and sensitive skin. This program has calmed my skin a great deal and it never feels irritated and tight after using it.
Kim Kardashian loves Cellceuticals too. Check out her recommendation.
The winner will receive (1) 5 piece Cellceuticals Skin Treatment System which includes:
  • Extremely Gentle Skin Cleanser- This stuff is the bomb diggity. It never dries my skin out. I use it on my Clarisonic Brush and it cleans like no other cleanser I’ve used.
  • Extreme Defense Anti-Cell Damage Skin Treatment-This is the day treatment. Feels very light and clean.
  • CellGenesis Regenerative Skin Treatment- This is the night treatment. It feels like a light serum and moisturizer mixed together.
  • Bonus size of Ceractive Active Moisture +Barrier Repair Skin Treatment
  • Bonus size Neocell Micro-Resurfacing
Total Value of: $120.00

To enter:
  1. Just leave a comment or question, or let me know if you have a design/decorating topic you’d like me to discuss in the future. This equals 1 entry.
  2. If you are a follower of the blog prior to this contest… get 2 entries. *Just to make sure, let me know that you are a follower in your post.
That’s all! No retweeting (unless you want to), no telling me how much you love me (he he. Unless you want to.), and no becoming a blog follower (even though..I’d love for you to follow). I won’t make you jump through hoops, build a shrine to me, or follow me when you follow 453,832 other blogs.
The winner will be announced Wednesday, January 27th after 12 pm Central Time.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Yes, I’m Still Alive!

I apologize for the lengthy break from blogging. I’ve had several people ask if I’m okay….and yes, I am. I’m still dealing with these debilitating migraines. I’ve seen a new doctor and tried taking an everyday medication. I literally gained 8 lbs. in 2 weeks! I ate all the time, walked around in a constant stupor, and the worst part-headaches are still there.

So yesterday, I started taking a beta blocker. I’m not having good feelings about it. I don’t know about y’all, but I feel the less medicine you take….the better. My next plan of action after I talk to my doctor on Monday: 1) I am going to clean up my eating habits 2) See an acupuncturist and 3)Start getting therapeutic massages either weekly or bi-weekly.


Do any of you have experience with accupuncture or alternative medical treatments?

On a happier note, I’m going to host a give-a-way next week. Stay tuned….details will be posted tomorrow.

Hugs and encouragements!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Latisse Review

IMG_3800I’ve officially been using Latisse for 4 months now. I really wish I had taken “before” pictures, because I can tell a tremendous difference in my lashes. Not only are they longer, but a lot thicker and darker.

Initially, I was a little disappointed because I couldn’t see a a noticeable difference until about week 7 or 8. Then it was like I woke up with Bambi lashes. The only side effects have been occasional itching and redness (which I can’t totally attribute to Latisse) and eyelid darkening. I can handle the darkness, but I’m not digging the purple & pink darkening around the corner of my eyes. I’ve reduced my number of uses now to about 3 days a week & can tell that the pigmentation is fading a little.

Here are some pictures with and without eye makeup. I cannot believe I’m showing pictures without makeup, so excuse the splotchy skin….and for the love of wax….I need to make a phone call to get those man-brow eyebushes waxed.

IMG_3738 No makeup/mascara. I can tell a difference in the thickness here.

IMG_3740 No makeup. You can see the darkening of my lids here. No biggie….kinda matches the eye shadow I wear.


With mascara and eyeshadow. Thank God for makeup.


Side view with mascara, without concealer. You can see some of the pink/purple darkening in the outer corners & lower lash line. IMG_3811

Scary close, huh?

Are any of you using Latisse and what have your experiences been? I have decided I can deal with the side effects to get compliments like “Are you wearing false eyelashes?”

Friday, January 1, 2010

Are You Wearing Undergarments Out in Public?

You might remember a while back, I bought a corset during my Forever 21 buying frenzy. I’ve worn it a couple of times and really like the way it looks and feels. Because of the weather, I’ve been topping the corset with a black boyfriend blazer. Not a biggie, because that’s how I’d wear it anyway. Mama don’t wanna look like a Pussycat Doll.

The funny thing is the last time I wore the corset, I had a woman say, “Wow, that’s creative. I never would have thought to wear an undergarment in public. That’s cute, but I don’t think I could pull that off.” Yes, she went there. No words for lady under a fashion rock.

In salute of wearing girdles in public and panties on your head, I give you these corsets---


White House Black Market -Swirl Jacquard Tank

You can't see the boning in this tank, but it's there.

image enlargement

White House Black Market-Belted Jacquard Tank – on sale $39.99

This one has boning too.


Arden B -Linen Pleated Corset – only a few left


Anthropologie- Needlepoint Corset Top

And my favorite…in fact, I’m ordering one today in black.

Victoria’s Secret Lace Corset Top

If a corset top isn’t for you, take a gander at these accessories.

Lockheart Denise Flap Handbag

Nordstrom-Lockheart Brand “Tied and True” Handbag


Modcloth- Fancy Footwork Heels

Here are some tips on how to wearing a corset top and not looking trashy or like Madonna during her “Who’s That Girl” tour~~

  1. Pair the corset with something masculine like a boyfriend blazer & jeans.
  2. This look isn’t for large breasted women. Too much boobage showing=not good.
  3. Don’t wear the corsets that are cropped and show your belly.
  4. One option is to find a corset fitted at the top with a looser flounced or pleated bottom. See the Victoria’s Secret top above.
  5. Another option is to wear a longer corset belted. This makes the corset seem more like a “legitimate” top.
  6. If you are self conscious about corsets being too low cut, try one that has a straight across bodice rather than a “V” cut one. Again, see the Victoria’s Secret one above. That’s why I like that one so much!
  7. Wear something “prim and proper” with the corset. A very simple cashmere cardigan and longer pencil skirt paired with a corset would look stunning.
  8. Make sure the fit is correct. If the corset has boning in it and is too tight, you’ll feel like you have swords piercing your belly.
  9. If you wear the corset alone and it’s too tight, you will have junk hanging out of the bottom and fatback and fatwings in full force.

Do you girlies wear corset tops? Is it a look you’d try?