Monday, November 16, 2015
Living alone for the first time gives you a whole new sense of control and independence. I get to do everything my own way and on my own time. My family has always been a "wait-until-after-Thanksgiving" family as far as Christmas decor goes, and I respect it, but I love Christmas and I just simply could not contain my excitement. I told myself to wait. But how does one not go crazy when you're flooded with Christmas in every store you walk in to? I was drooling when I went in to Target last week.
But unfortunately I've got a sick pup (click here to read more on his GoFundMe) who needs lots of medical attention, which in turn means lots of money, and I also went a couple of weeks out of work, which meant I had to keep my budget super tight.
I wanted so. badly. to buy up Target and HomeGoods and clear them of their Christmas sections, but I'm a lady on an extreme budget these days, so I had to figure something else out. This year I did all of my Christmas decor shopping at, drum roll please, the Dollar Tree.
And the grand total? $31 for all of this holiday gloriousness.
I did purchase a couple other things that weren't photographed, but all in all, I didn't go over $50! The Dollar Tree is your friend! While I was in HomeGoods I also made a few other purchases (a Christmas themed mug that says "Dog Mom" because that's the kind of person I am) and some gift wrap.
The Dollar Tree also provided me with 6 rolls of wrapping paper, however I will say that HomeGoods has amazing prices on gift wrap and you generally get more square feet! And the Dollar Spot at Target is home to many cute glitter mini-trees and festive signs.
Happy budget shopping!
Monday, September 14, 2015
Without further ado, here's the recipe!
- 2 frozen chicken breasts
- 1 can of corn (don't drain!)
- 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can of Rotel
- 1 package of dry ranch dressing
- 8 oz. of cream cheese (or greek yogurt if you're healthier than me)
- 1 teaspoon of cumin (I always go overboard and add a little more!)
- 1 teaspoon of onion powder (I also added a few frozen onions)
- Sour cream (optional)
- Cilantro (optional)
- Tortilla chips (optional)
- Mexican-blend cheese (optional)
- Put the frozen chicken breasts into the crock pot
- Top the chicken with the Rotel, beans, corn, ranch dressing, and all of your spices
- Stir together
- Top with cream cheese
- Set the crock pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours (I cooked mine for 7)
- Stir occasionally to mix the cream cheese in
- Shred the chicken once it's finished
- Garnish with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and crumbled tortilla chips
One of the most painless meals I've ever had. And so good!
I will say that I always add a little extra to all of my spices and seasonings to give it a little more flavor. So if it calls for a teaspoon, I almost always add another 1/4 or 1/2 tsp!
Sunday, August 23, 2015
As much as I grew up on the idea of being non-materialistic, I won't lie to you: I love having nice things. But being that I am 20 years old and a full-time student with only a part-time job, paying rent and pleading with my mom to loan me twenty bucks for gas is a little higher on my priorities list than dropping a couple hundred dollars on the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale or buying a $1500 coffee table. Online shopping consists of hitting the "Shop from: Lowest to Highest" option on the drop down menu. And even then, I have to close out of the tab because I know I still don't need that pair of $5 socks from Forever21 or another coffee mug from Etsy.
About a year back, my parents told me they had bought another fixer-upper house and that once it was done I could rent it from them while I am in college. I was so excited! So excited, in fact, that two days later I went to the animal shelter and adopted a dog, because you can't have a house without a dog, right? My next stop was Homegoods, because I needed some wall art and wine glasses. Definitely responsible purchases.
Fast-forward a year, and the renovations are complete, I have (mostly) finished decorating, and it's finally time to move in! Somewhere along the way I had to realize that I can't spend all my money on wine glasses (bummer) because decorating a house is so much more than I ever imagined. I had to learn very quickly how to put furniture on the floor and art on the walls without winding up on the negative side of my bank account. Here are a few of the tips I learned along the way!
1. Furniture: Shop flea markets, garage sales, and family members homes.
There is not a single piece of furniture in my house that I bought new. Collectively, everything in my home probably cost about the same as one new couch. I got my iron bed frame, kitchen table & chair set and coffee table in Canton at their monthly flea market. My kitchen table and chairs were in a half-off booth and cost only $80. My farmhouse-window-pane-turned-coffee-table cost $40 after a little haggling. My bed frame (my favorite piece in my house!) we got for $125 after haggling it down from $200. Flea markets are also good for finding unique pieces- I guarantee you no one else I know will have the same bed or coffee table. Several of my end tables and lamps came from garage sales, every piece under $10. And there will always, always be friends and family who will give you furniture they are replacing for free. For years my mom has wanted a new couch, so I was the first to raise my hand and offer to take her old one off her hands. Let family know you are moving and in need of furniture, and you will be shocked at the things they offer up!
2. HomeGoods and Hobby Lobby are a Pinterest girl's best friend.
I love to daydream about having a nice house one day that is furnished like the ones popping up on my Pinterest feed. What a cute vase, I think to myself and click on the link. Oh, it's only $450! I don't even get paychecks with those kind of numbers on them. This leads me to why I love HomeGoods so much (almost as much as Target). HomeGoods carries very on-trend decor, very similar to expensive pieces I see online, for so. much. less. I got the gorgeous gold pineapple on my table at HG for only $15! They've also got really stylish kitchen basics (dish towels, silverware, serving bowls) for great prices.
Hobby Lobby is great because the entire store goes on sale for half off every week. If it's not on sale for half off one week, it's almost guaranteed it will be by the next week. I check their weekly ad every Sunday night to see what's on sale and then show up at 9am Monday morning to get what I want. I got all of my wall art (frames included!) for half off and under $16 for each print. My dalmatian pillows were half off for $11, and my dalmatian rug was only $10.
3. The Dollar Tree is your friend.
The Dollar Tree was great when we were five and our moms let us go in and pick out three things and we had to pick really wisely. Should we get a bag of candy, a nail polish, or a new hair towel wrap? The options were endless. And after that age it's almost like we forgot about the Dollar Tree entirely. Bad move: the DT was my absolute saving grace when it came to essentials for my house. I got so caught up in decorating and furniture that I forgot the necessities. I stocked my house with toilet paper, paper towels, plastic kitchenware, cleaning supplies, Kleenex and so much more all for under $30. A lot of times they carry overstock from name brands, too! Before you go breaking the bank on can openers and mop buckets (these things seriously add up), make your rounds through the DT. I can almost guarantee you won't leave empty-handed.
4. Know when things hit the sale rack.
Target, Hobby Lobby, and thrift stores have been my best friends. Not only because they're reasonably priced, but because I know their sale days. If it's not on sale, it's almost guaranteed that I won't buy it. I already went into Hobby Lobby's sale rotation, but a lot of local thrift stores also have colored tag sale days. So if it has a green tag on Monday, it's 99 cents, and so on and so forth. One of my favorite stops in a thrift store is the home section. I always look for photo frames (they're dirt cheap at thrift stores!). Target also has markdown schedule that's important to know. Click here to check out their markdown schedule.
5. Put faux sheepskin rugs and plants everywhere.
And thus I leave you with my last piece of (slightly random) advice.
I don't know what it is about sheepskin rugs and plants, but they just look nice. I bought two sheepskin rugs from Ikea for $30 and one from HomeGoods for $12. My dad was very quick to ask why I had so many. I felt like I didn't have enough. My home is from the 70's, and even after renovating, there's still some blemishes. I threw one down on my stained closet floor and laid my shoes on top and it instantly made it look more chic. If there are any spots in your house that you feel look a little bland, toss a sheepskin rug down. They also look great draped over the backs of chairs.
Plants make your house look and feel more cozy. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. But my house instantly looked more inviting once I had a few plants on the counters, end tables, and one by the couch. Here's the thing with me and plants, though: I have a brown thumb, not a green thumb. I kill plants almost instantly. I try my darndest to water them the correct amount when they need it and give them the correct amount of sunlight, but nothing works. So there's only two real plants in my house (the kind that basically need no attention), and the rest are fake. And they still have the same effect!
And after many months of trying to pinch my pennies and keep my house from representing what my bank account looks like (sad and empty), my house has become a home and it's time to move in!
If you have any questions about where anything came from in the above pictures, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, August 20, 2015
At this point I think you all understand what a fan I am of simple meals that I can conquer in under 30 minutes. It's very rare that I have time to cook an extravagant meal when I'm having to rush to the grocery store after work to get all my ingredients and try to have everything on the table before Rafael gets off work. So here's another 30-minute wonder!
I originally found a similar recipe with chicken, but I chose to do sausage because it's easier and cheaper!
- 1/2 lb. smoked sausage
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese
- 3/4 cup salsa verde (If you use a mild/med this will not be spicy at all)
- 1 cup penne pasta
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- Cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Add the olive oil and sliced sausage to a medium skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside when cooked.
- While the sausage is cooking, in a medium pot, add the whipping cream, salsa, chicken broth, and pasta. Mix together and then bring to a boil. Once it is at a boil, lower the temperature to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes or until the pasta is soft.
- Once the pasta mixture is cooked, remove from heat and add sausage, cheese, and if desired, add cilantro for garnish.
And with those three simple steps, you are done! Quick & easy.
Make sure to let me know if you try it and how you like it! I liked it so much when I made it for myself on Tuesday night that I ate my leftovers for lunch the next day at work and had to make a second batch for Rafael on Wednesday night!
Sunday, June 21, 2015
My blog first started back in the days where Rumi Neely (fashiontoast) ruled the world and bloggers were few and far between. I was fifteen years old and I practically worshipped Rumi and thought what she was doing was the greatest thing since sliced bread (or, in her case, toast). I decided to create a blog of my own (outside of tumblr) and started posting all sorts of things- outfits posts, flat lays, outings and adventures with friends, makeup, Polyvore guides...you name it, I was attempting it.
All of a sudden, blogs started popping up everywhere. Companies would contact me left and right and I was thinking, "Holy crap. This is so. Cool."
I was constantly looking for new things to talk about and to wear, and it was great.
And then I started working every day until 10 pm. And I started college and I suddenly had to start working for my grades (who knew?). My blog posts were dwindling, but I couldn't bring myself to delete it. Just recently I realized what a huge outlet and blessing this blog had been for me and how many opportunities I have been given through it, so I started to get back into the habit of posting occasional outfits and recipes (while not letting it get too consuming).
And I thought to myself, I've been doing this a while. I wonder how long it's been?
Much to my surprise, Blogger tells me I started this old thing in June of 2010. Five years ago.
So I wanted to take this opportunity to post a few throwback outfits and to thank everyone who read my blog 5 years ago, everyone who just started reading it, and the all of the companies and organizations who have collaborated with me to make something great.
I am so very thankful for each and every page view, comment, and email I get from all of you!
Here's to another five years!
Friday, June 19, 2015
I think it's time for me to be put on a Mexican food timeout. I think about chips and salsa all day and I have dreams about enchiladas. And margaritas. Always margaritas. So since I have been on such a Mexican food kick, I decided to start trying out my own (easy) Mexican dishes for dinner! This one was crazy easy and, not to toot my own horn, pretty darn good. I hate leftovers, and I ate all of these leftovers. All. Of. Them.
So like I said...dreams about enchiladas. Except I don't actually want to have to put forth the effort to make enchiladas right now so...an enchilada rice skillet that takes 25-30 min tops? My kind of enchiladas.
- In a medium pot, boil 1.5 cups of water, then then add rice and simmer on low for about 20 minutes (could be different depending on instructions on package).
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet on med. high and add garlic, onion and chicken. Cook until chicken is browned (3-5 min).
- Stir in corn, black beans, rice, enchilada sauces, cumin, and taco seasoning. Let sit on med. low for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until heated through.
- Remove from heat and top with cheese, cilantro, crumbled tortilla chips (optional) and sour cream (optional).
Monday, June 8, 2015
If you live in Texas, you'll know what I mean when I say that the heat is almost unbearable. Jeans and cute airy, lightweight sweaters no longer exist. We throw them out this time of year because we can't even look at something that would make us even hotter than we already are. We fight for the closest parking spot everywhere we go because we don't want to walk more than a few feet in the heat before going inside. Unless we are in a pool, the hours of 12pm-6pm are off-limits as far as being outdoors and we try our hardest to stay inside an air-conditioned building.
Such a drastic change in the weather also calls for a few other changes!
- I almost always live in a maxi skirt and crop top in the summer. It's an easy, lightweight combo that keeps me cool and doesn't show too much.
- I generally lighten my hair a little bit, and being as frugal as I am, I always use an at-home kit. The next color I'm going for this summer is Roma Blonde! I've been wanting something a little bit lighter and not quite as brassy.
- If I'm not at work, I almost never wear makeup in the summer, and I leave my hair natural! I use summer months to give my hair and skin a little time off.
- I stop drinking hot coffee almost entirely (except for maybe a cup in the morning at home) and switch over to a vanilla iced coffee!
- You can almost always find me in a sun-hat. Sometimes I'm just not feeling washing my hair and it's the perfect way to cover up my greasy hair and add an extra punch to what I'm wearing.
- I always keep a spare bathing suit in the car. Something I have learned over the years is that it's never fun to be over at a friend's house and they are dying to swim and you don't have anything to wear. So I keep one in the car now, and it's saved me from having to drive home on several occasions.
What do you you guys do differently during the summer months?
Check out Madison Reed's summer checklist below for ideas!
- Top- Thrifted for $1! (It's a little girl's tank that I turned into a crop top!)
- Skirt- Thrifted for $2.50!
- Shoes- Sam & Libby for Target
- Sunglasses- RayBan
- Necklace- Forever21