Thursday, October 23, 2014

christmas photo ideas for couples

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Last year we were blessed that we were able to use a wedding photo for our holiday card. This year, we'll have to put some thought into a Christmas photo! Here are a few holiday-inspired shoots that say "we are a family of two," well, three plus dog! Cards take a week or two to print and mail (if you're going through sites like minted or paperculture) , and there's another week or two while I address and write notes, meaning we need to do this soon to get them out before the Holidays are over! I'd be so interested to hear what other's Christmas card timeline looks like, so please share! 

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vintage Witch Costume

Thursday, October 9, 2014
This year we decided we were done with either being bored on Halloween or overwhelmed at bars. So we decided to throw a little party ourselves. Since I wanted our party to be classy, and because I know I will be running around before hand, I decided to keep my costume simple and classy. Oh yes, and reusable, meaning I'm not throwing away $100 plus on something I can wear only once. So in the theme of the black and white party I decided to be a vintage witch. All that's needed is a black dress and witches hat. Does it get better than that!?

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

fall harvest

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

We’ve been in our house for about a year and a half (time flies!) and while we’ve had many a parties, we have yet to have an open house where aunts, cousins etc. can visit. No more! We are planning a fall fĂȘte to celebrate summer turning to autumn. For me, hosting seasonal get togethers instead of holidays is far better. There’s no holiday pressure, no scheduling headaches, and you aren’t tied to the calendar. It’s just a relaxed, happy time. 

On the other hand, having a little get-together is a wonderful motivator to get a few of our smaller, already-started projects to the finish line. Our fence has been half stained, our crown moulding still waiting to be installed in the living room, and there’s some small paint touchups required. So we are very much looking forward to checking a few more things off our list. 

Below are a few images we are using as inspiration for next week’s gathering. I’m thinking a pumpkin carving station for kids and adults alike, white and green pumpkins as decoration, butternut squash soup, pumpkin risotto, apple pie, and caramelized onion flatbread. Can't wait to make it a tradition!

Friday, June 20, 2014

city girl in the country

Friday, June 20, 2014
I'm a self-proclaimed city girl - but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the country too. The state of Washington is just amazing, while the Seattle boats and skyscrapers have their allure, the rolling hills and grassy plains have an air of magic to them. We went on a little road trip last weekend to visit my brother. His family moved from Maui to a small farm a few months ago, seeking a slower, organic life. We ate fresh strawberries and spinach from the garden and the meat eaters ate meat they had raised. It’s a delicious life, where 9 to 5 doesn’t rule your life, where family comes first and the dirt never leaves your fingernails.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

garage sale tips and tricks

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
I get a surge of excitement when I spot bright-colored signs at street intersections. Yard sales are the one place left to get amazing deals on used goods. Especially in the Seattle area, as flea markets are few and far between, and thrift stores prices have caught up with their level of trendiness. Here are just a few of my tips and tricks to getting ready for the garage sale season, so you can score big!

----Time it right ----

I start the yard sale season in May when the first few sunny days hit, the spring-cleaning begins. College towns are a treasure trove the weekend after finals week. Students are moving home for the summer, or relocating for work and don’t want to deal with large pieces and clutter. These sales are perfect for finding bohemian home decor and trendy clothing. 

Look for annual community garage sales, and mark them on your calendar. Many communities pull together to do joint advertising and encourage community members to host garage sales on the same day. This means there will be house after house of sales, block after block. We have three annual garage sales we hit every year. We mark off the whole day for them and save up some cash. This makes for efficient garage sailing, but they often attract treasure hunters from across the state, so come early (but don't be an annoying early-bird). 

----Make a game-plan----

...but feel free to stray off course. Before casual garage sailing (note not day-long community sales) I like to start with a route or location in mind. Yard sale treasure map is a cool tool that combines garage sale listings from Craigslist and creates a treasure map route. I usually pick a cluster in a nice neighborhood and go from there. But the older generations aren't too keen on this new fangled technology, so feel free to veer off course when a new sign appears.

---- Location, location, location ----

I find higher quality items in neighborhoods with higher real-estate prices, so that’s often where I start. But be strategic. If you’re looking for kid stuff, try suburban areas. If you’re looking for nice antiques, try the established neighborhoods (which are often in a higher real estate bracket). If you’re looking for art or quirky accessories, try the upcoming neighborhoods that attract the 20-somethings.  

 ---- Haggle ----

Garage sales are the one place I feel comfortable haggling. Think of the posted price as a suggestion and know what you’re willing to spend. The afternoons are the best time to strike a bargain as sellers want to close up and be done for the day. In the mornings, I tend to be a little more conservative. I try not to offer less than 50% of the asking price. If you’re new to this, start by offering to pay 80% of the price. 

If you think the posted price is already a screaming deal (like 10 cents for a book), pay it. If it’s already rock bottom, don’t be rude, you’re both winning here. If you’ve struck yard sale gold and are buying multiple items try grouping together for a lower price. 

Remember, it’s always in your favor to get the seller to identify the price first. If it’s high, counter or put it back down. If it’s lower than expected; you scored! If there's an item you're interested in that's overprices, give the seller your phone number and ask them to call you if it still needs a home in the end. 

 ---- Grab your insurance ----

Did you buy an awesome dresser, but need some time to secure a friend with a truck? Pay for the item and ask the seller to put a ‘sold’ sign on it and a note to serve as a receipt. Before you leave (to come back later), grab a dresser drawer or couch cushion. This way the seller won’t be able to re-sell your item to the highest bidder. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s not unheard of either! 

 ----Come prepared ----

Here are a few items I find essential on the hunt.  
  • A big sturdy bag. This can be a backpack, canvas tote bag or reusable grocery bag. This is VERY important. Use as a shopping basket and with it on your shoulder, you’ll still have hands to rummage. If parking and walking from house to house, this will carry it all. On the bigger, multifamily garage sales, I might even pick up some wheeled luggage (or bring your kid's radio flyer) to tote my wares. 
  • Small bills. Stock a lot of $1’s and $5’s. Because it’d be embarrassing to haggle your way down to a couple bucks and hand the guy a $50. Also, sellers appreciate it. 
  • Cell phone. Did you find that perfect navy blue couch, but didn't bring the truck? This is your life-line to outside help. Often sellers will hold on to the bigger items till the end of the day, to give you time to hunt down transport options. Often I prearrange emergency help before a day of garage sailing. Luckily my family values a good bargain so they will usually do the favor. In addition, cell phones are great maps that help you get orientated in unfamiliar neighborhoods and locate the nearest ATM.  
  • Bungee cords. In case you don’t have nice friends and family with a truck (or own a truck yourself). With enough bungee cords you can put some pretty big items on the top of your car. Just, don’t quote me on that…. 
  • Space measurements. If you’re shopping for larger items, keep a list of what you need, with measurements, dimensions and sizes. That way you won't forget, and you'll know when it’s the perfect fit.
  • Tape measure, to make sure that darling armoire/bench/couch will fit in your house.
  • Fabric Swatches. I typically look for a lot of home decor, so I like to bring pictures of room in progress and fabric swatches. This makes me make smarter design choices. 
  • Water and snacks. Billy will get hangry fast, so we make sure to guard against any problems of the stomach. Sunscreen isn't a bad move either! 
Update (6-18-14): Wear Sunscreen. Lesson learned from a recent garage sale adventure 

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