Tag Archives: bargain

Mindful Monday: Money Makeover

Happy Monday Everyone! This is by far the toughest day to stay upbeat but whatever you happen to be doing this Monday, try and be thankful in some way. That might help your state of mind. This Monday I am thankful for my awesome new job, the fact that I recently got to hang out with my Australian family for the first time in five years, and the companionship of my lovely man 🙂

Moving on … there were a few friends/patients back in Peoria that I let know about the desperate state of my finances. Some of you may understand: when deeply in debt, you know you shouldn’t run around telling people but the pressure is so intense that you can’t help let it slip to the people you trust.

On this particular occasion, I was glad I did. Candice (the friend) told me of a book she and her husband read. It absolutely changed their financial outlook and within a few weeks it did the same for me.

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Thriving Thursday: Free Makeover?

Caution: Men you may be very bored by this post. Ladies on the other hand, huddle around, it’s story time. Ok, so I was perusing TJ Maxx looking for summer dresses when a woman walked up to me, “I just have to tell you, you have beautiful skin.” Hah! Maybe from over there but get a little closer and you’ll see how wrong you are. “No! You have gorgeous skin!”

This woman was about my age, stunning with a brunette bob and huge almond eyes. And dressed stylishly to boot. And here she was telling me that I had gorgeous skin. I knew there was something wrong with this picture. But I went with it anyway. I was curious where she was going with this. Turns out, she works for Mary Kay. If you provide the location and friends, they will come over and do your makeup for free! Obviously they hope that you buy something but there’s no obligation. So she took my number and promised to call.

I got back to the office later that afternoon and my coworker, Elle, sidles over to me and says, “You’ll never guess what happened to me today. A woman walked up to me in TJ Maxx and said I had beautiful skin…” You can guess where it goes from here. Same woman, same store, different days. And we are coworkers!

So obviously it’s some way for her to make money but at the bottom of the situation there were FREE MAKEOVERS! So we thought it over, we communicated with Emily, our Mary Kay consultant, and we decided that we wanted to get them done before a night out.

photo 3

So a few Saturday’s ago, I cooked up some appetizers and several ladies, including Elle, sat around my dining room table with bare faces. It’s amazing how naked you feel without makeup on, especially around relative strangers. Of course I forgot to take photos when all the food and makeup was on the table but the above photo is us with Emily looking all beautimous.

photo 1

All the significant others sat and watched March Madness while Emily guided us through our makeovers. She gave each of us some great tips and gorgeous makeup supplies. Being the hostess, I got a sweet deal of $75 worth of makeup for $35.

photo 4

After we had finished the makeovers and the men had told us how gorgeous we looked, we went line dancing! It was a fantastic night and so cheap! I love the makeup and face wash I bought and Emily got another party out of it. I highly recommend a Mary Kay Makeover to anyone looking for a fun Ladies Night. If you live in Peoria, let me know and I’ll get you Emily’s contact info.

I hope you’re all having fantastic days. Love and hugs – Ash

ps. I’ll be on vacation in Louisiana this weekend for a good friend’s wedding so no post tomorrow or Monday. Enjoy your weekends!

Friday Design: Spring in My Dining Room

It’s Spring in my dining room! As most of you know, I’m an architect by training. So when we moved into our apartment here, I was SO excited to actually have some space to decorate. I absolutely love bold colors so I was pretty bummed when I realized that we couldn’t paint the walls. Instead, I’ve learned to inject color into a room through wall art, dish ware, rugs, etc.

I found a deal at our local grocery on a dozen roses ($5!) and used them to bring Spring into our home. It’s still pretty cold here but the sun in shining and it’s putting me (and everyone else) in a great mood. Not to mention my Happiness Project is actually working 🙂

photo 2^ Pretty flowers in my new vase …

And, if you’ve checked out my tagline (“braving the world with no money in my pocket and a smile on my face”) you know that we can’t put much money into making our apartment beautiful. So here’s the breakdown:

  • Gorgeous Fire/Water painting – moving gift from a very close friend. You could probably do a simple, impactful painting for about $50. As a word of advice, shower praise on the artists in your life. There’s nothing better than a gorgeous piece of art that actually means something.
  • Table set with cool, high-back chairs (I plan on refinishing this) – Craigslist $80
  • Striped rug – TJMaxx $65
  • Plant – bought it as a seedling – Loews $10
  • Recycled tire pot – Unclaimed Freight Store (check for one in your area) $10
  • Yellow vase – Unclaimed Freight $3
  • Green and blue swirl fruit bowl – hand painted by me! $25 (but worth the experience)

photo 1Everything in this photo= $188

And now we’re at the weekend. YAY. Au revoir until Monday! I hope you all have a relaxing couple of days. Love and hugs – Ash

 

Tasty Tuesday: Roasted Chickpeas

I’ve been keeping a pretty tight watch on Pinterest lately. Yesterday I spent an hour friending people and looking through their pins. It was AMAZING. So many cheap DIY ideas and pretty house stuff. I can only imagine what it will be like when I actually have something to plan for like a new house or a wedding or a baby or something. One question I have, with all the time people spend on Pinterest, do they ever actually do any of the things they pin??

Here the link to my Pinterest if you’re interested in following me.

On that note, Pinterest has become my online recipe book and I finally made something from it on Sunday: Roasted Chickpeas. I found the recipe on one of my favorite blogs: SammieKennedy.com. Here is the link for her post of the recipe.

So I had a couple of cans of chickpeas with every intention of making them into hummus, then I thought, why not fry them instead? These were so tasty warm out of the oven but even better when I toasted them again the next day. So savory with just a little crunch. And actually pretty good for you. And for the financial restricted, they’re cheap too!

RoastedChickpeas-Published

 

Ingredients

  • 2 12oz cans of organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (ok because this will be medium heat only)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas with water. Dry them on a paper towel.
  3. Add chickpeas and all spices to a bowl and stir until chickpeas are covered.
  4. Pour oil in pan then heat it in the oven for a few minutes. Take it out and shake the pan to distribute the oil.
  5. Spread the chickpeas in the pan in a single layer.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes shaking the pan every 3 minutes to ensure the peas don’t burn.
  7. Enjoy!

Tip: These will dry out over night. Stick them in the toaster for a couple of minutes for an even tastier, crispier snack.

Thanks for the recipe Sammie Kennedy! Everyone, please check out her site for more awesome recipes and health info.

And let me know what you think after making these 🙂

 

Friday Fun Times: Ice Skating!

Our lives were becoming stale. Wake up groggy and still tired, go to work, come home and eat dinner, watch tv, go to bed, repeat. It’s even boring writing it! So Mike and I decided to institute date night. For those of you that know us, you know that we didn’t go on our first date until we were 4 months into our relationship and living together. The whole graduation/moving to Illinois thing meant that we did things kind of backwards. SO, we have no idea how to date each other!

Of course, we are very short on money, so we have been exploring Peoria in a frugal way. Last Friday we went out to dinner (ordered only appetizers because they’re cheaper) then went ice skating! I told Mike that he had to arrange this one and, considering that he’s the romantically challenged of the two of us, he did a fantastic job.

There’s a rink right around the corner from us and it cost $6 each for ice time AND rentals. WOOHOO!

 

^ As far as I’m concerned, humans were not meant to have blades on their feet so I stumbled across the ice like a dancing baboon. Mike, however, is one of those people who is good at everything and he jumped on the ice and started skating backwards and doing turns and hockey stops and blah blah blah. I was slightly envious but also very proud of my man 🙂

‘Twas a great way to spend a Friday night. Cheap, cheerful, and sweat-inducing.

What do you do for a cheap date night?

Produce: Where and How…

Happy Saturday! Holy Bajolies this week has been crazy. I seriously can’t believe it’s Saturday already. Saturday morning is my grocery shopping time and I have a full day of work this afternoon so I woke up bright and early (and not too happily), did a quick spot of yoga to loosen up my stiff joints, and headed across the street to Peoria’s best farmer’s market.

 

A few awesome things about farmer’s markets:

1. You know exactly where everything comes from.

2. It’s all fresh.

3. It’s mostly organic too, although you have to check on this one.

4. You’re supporting the local farmers and keeping out the unhealthy, mass farms.

5. You get outside and interact with your community.

6. The food is SO much tastier than the grocery store produce.

7. You’re eating seasonal which varies your diet and provides inspiration in the kitchen.

Some things to be cautious of:

– Keep an eye on pricing, sometimes one or two items can be very expensive.

– Don’t over buy. It can be tempting with all the beautiful colors in front of you. But here’s a tip, go with a certain amount of cash (I take $25) and leave once you’ve spent it.

– Scan the whole spread of vendors before choosing the stands you will buy from, you may get to the end and realize one was much better than another.

Other than that, enjoy! I buy 50% of our fridge stock from our market and it’s made our diet so much better. I’ve come to look forward to it every week.

Check this site out for almost all the markets in the US: http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/

For those outside the US, just google “Farmer market [name of your town].”

^ pretty!

don’t forget —>  🙂

Our Office (corner of the living room)

There is one space in our apartment that, after six weeks, I finally feel is finished. Our “office.” Before we moved in I had three goals for whatever space we decided to put our desk:

1) A library! I think it’s so interesting to look through other people’s libraries and I’m proud of my book collection. Also it really encourages me to read instead of watch TV.

2) Two distinct spaces for Mike and me. We need our space when we’re working and I didn’t want this to be something we resent each other for.

3) A secluded area to focus completely but with enough natural light to stay awake during the day. I do a lot of my real job work at home so it’s important that I feel encouraged to work.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the blank living room corner before we populated it with stuff but I can assure you, it was a definitely a blank living room corner. Our living room is huge (compared to what we’re used to in Boston) so it was the perfect opportunity to develop a little space tucked away in there.

^ It’s in the corner between that wall on the left and the door.

We bought a ton of our hardware and basic needs at Menards. I had never heard of this place until moving to the Midwest but its AMAZING. Its like Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and Best Buy all rolled into one much, much cheaper store. On top of all that, the people that work there are so nice. I think they may actually enjoy their jobs. Its pretty much heaven. One of our purchases there was the shelving. Which cost about $40. It was steep for us but that and the picture frames for our degrees (Menards-$8 each) were the only things we bought for this space!

Everything else:

– Table = My contribution from a previous apartment. Perfect for our two individual spaces. And so easy to fold up and move.

– Plastic drawer set and computer monitor = free from the previous tenant in our last place and free from Mike’s parents!

– Two Red Lights = Free from a great friend of mine who moved to China the same time we moved here. When we finally decided to move, I sent out a blast email to all our friends in Boston asking to check with us before they threw anything away. This particular friend donated almost her entire bedroom. Her stuff is scattered throughout our apartment. They’re plastic too which is extra cool.

Anyway, here are the photos. I’m pretty stoked on the space. Definitely accomplished all our goals for a total of $64. Heck yes.

^ The overall look. I wish that we could afford nicer, matching chairs and non plastic drawers but I think it still looks pretty put together.

^ The “library.” The only negative about this is we want to buy more books! The positive is that if we do we can adjust the shelves and add another one.

^ It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the miraculous folding desk! Love this thing. Expensive when my ex and I bought it back in 2011 but so worth it. Solid cherry, comes with 4 folding chairs that store in the middle, and has wheels. What more could you ask for? FYI, we bought it on Amazon as a Valentine’s day present to ourselves. $300. Thank goodness he gave it to me when we broke up because I’m in love with it and could never afford another one!

^ Just a little detail but makes all the difference. Now my cords don’t get lost when I unplug them from my laptop!

I feel like this post was full of exclamation points but I just love this stuff! !!

Hope you’re all having good days. And don’t forget to smile, they’re contagious.