My New Office Space + Why Patience (& Choosing What You Really Value) Is So Important

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Be prepared for a long-crazy-drawn-out-chatty-post ~ I’ve got so much to say on this one and want to save it all for myself to look back on one day! :)

 

Back in late 2013 when we found out we were moving to Ohio, I was pretty shocked. After working on PPP day in and day out for 4 years at that time, we had just built the office of my dreams, and I was so in love with my little space.

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For a jillion reasons I had some serious emotions tied to our home ~ it was where we brought our youngest child home from the hospital, where all my kids headed off from on their first day of kindergarten, and where we fell in love with a community who so supported us during some very difficult days when my father-in-law was so sick.

 

And beyond that, it was where I started this little penny pinching business, and kind of found myself as a small business owner.

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my makeshift desk at one point during the move – working from the top of a Rubbermaid cooler is not the way to go! :) 

So when we found out we’d be heading to Ohio, I was almost grief stricken (which I totally didn’t expect to be.) 

 

It was so hard. 

 

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Honestly? Watching our kids struggle through the move has been the toughest thing our marriage has faced.

 

So last summer, when we made the move I cried so. many. days. (which is so-not-normal for me), but the best gift my husband gave me was to encourage me to really dream big. 

 

When he found our home here (during the 6 months I stayed in Alabama with our kids to finish out the school year), I was determined to come up with a way to get my office done while they were finishing the new construction on our home. But James kept reminding me that it would be better to wait and live in the space before making any major decisions.

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I wasn’t happy (at all.)

 

But I’m so glad now he encouraged me to just wait. 

So last summer we spent $49 on an Ikea desk, and worked there for the last year which was just tough some days. The space was tiny, the room was kind of a dark pit that just depressed me, and I spent any free time I had perusing Pinterest for design ideas. (You can follow my Pinterest office design board over HERE.)

We had a few cabinet makers come out and talk about building cabinets on one wall, but the room was just dark and dreary, and I knew cabinets wouldn’t really fix the problem.

 

So I scrolled (and scrolled and scrolled) whenever I could on Pinterest, and as my husband and I were driving one day it occurred to me that what I really needed was a window.

 

I looked at my husband and said “could we just put a window in that wall?”  He thought for a second, realized we only had siding on that side of the house, and we knew we’d figured out how to make this room into just the perfect space for me. 

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So we started taping out design ideas on the walls, and James drew up a basic plan of what we wanted. We then contacted a few local design firms as well as My Handy Mate from Columbus, and after talking to Jassen at My Handy Mate we knew he’d work with our space.

 

In May we finally really had the plan in place, and the window went in (although it ended up in the wrong spot initially – but Jassen was amazing and replaced it for us correctly without any questions asked – I appreciated his willingness to make things right so much!) His team began work on our project (despite an incredibly devastating loss of one of his employees during the build ~ my heart just broke for his family.) But they totally gave me the office I’d only dreamed about.

 

When we bought our house we planned a budget for this room and our outdoor space because we knew we’d want them done fairly quickly after moving. And honestly? I almost feel guilty working in such a beautiful space. I know there are so many folks who work day in and day out and I feel overwhelmed and humbled to have this just-so-perfect space.

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But for six years I’ve typed on PPP every single day (I do mostly take Sundays off, but still work about an hour or two on Sundays just to manage emails and Facebook.) The only real days I’ve taken fully off are Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, and when we travel on vacation my laptop always come along with us.

 

And, because we’ve always chosen to live on one income, the money from PPP doesn’t get spent except to donate and save for our kids’ college funds. We have used some of the income for a few specific projects (like this one!), but any income earned goes into a separate account that we try not to touch.

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That means that even though we both (at least for right now!) have fairly successful careers, we still clip coupons, still shop with a menu plan, still try to budget less than $85 a week for groceries for our family of 5, and still rarely eat out at more expensive restaurants. Our kids still wear some Goodwill and Schoola clothes, I still shop Goodwill as often as I can for bits and pieces of furniture, and my lovely Honda has almost 200,000 miles on it. (I LOVE THAT AND AM KINDA PROUD OF MY BEAT UP MINIVAN!) :)

 

I guess I’m sharing all this to let you know that this hasn’t come without a price. We’ve chosen that the things we love for our family are vacations, pretty spaces in our home, and giving to other folks as we’re able. We’ve decided that we don’t love expensive groceries, high end clothes or purses, and fancy cars. And for us, with a lot of work (seriously y’all – a lot) it’s been a crazy fun blessing to watch.

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Okay, enough of my rambling ~ ready to take a peek? Here we go 😉

 

Here were the before pictures . . . 

This is what it looked like last May when we moved in ~ there is a window to the right that you can’t see but that was it.

We cleaned it out and put in my Ikea desk,

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And this was where we taped out the window on the wall . . .

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I can’t believe I don’t have better before pictures – but you can see where James basically taped the vision for the room out around the initial window space in this picture. We did that last December, and basically had a room with a bunch of tape on the wall for about six months (we moved around the tape to devise our plan several time during those months!)

 

And then.

 

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This happened. 😉 

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Here’s Orville from My Handy Mate, who is the nicest guy and did amazing, awesome work every single day. He went way above and beyond (seriously, the guy worked his 12 hour days many days!) to give me the space I dreamed of.

 

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I chose butcher block for the countertop because in our last office I’d spent a ton on granite, and it was always so cold that I could never even use it to type from. In the winter here I knew I’d freeze with granite, so this butcher block was a great (and more affordable) alternative.

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I used a leftover piece from the desktop to make this wooden sign (I saved $65 by making it myself), and am so pleased with the results (just hoping I can convince my hubby to hang it up on the wall for me ~ it weighs a ton so it’s still on our to-do list.)

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I found the chaise at Home Goods for $399 (which was so exciting ~ I’d seen them for $900 elsewhere so I was thrilled at that price!) The small table and lamp are from Home Goods as well, and I think cost around $200.

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And this folks? It’s my new view. :) It’s making the thought of winter just around the corner and snowy days where I’m snuggled inside looking out just a little more exciting around here. :)

 

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If you’re in a place where your finances are overwhelming, or you’re just sad about a difficult situation, I so encourage you to truly dream. big.

(Read more HERE on how to make life more liveable during a difficult season ~ these tips truly saved me last summer!)

 

 

Back when we were first married and really pinching pennies I would never in a million years have dreamed I’d get to work every day from home in a space like this, but almost twenty years of penny pinching and lots of work choosing to wisely use our finances have so changed our family’s financial future. Be encouraged that you are learning something, today, in whatever situation you’re in which will help you reach your next financial goal, and it is so worth it. 

 

Promise.

 

Okie dokie, way more than enough of me chatting :) I’d love to your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

 

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And by the way, I can’t say enough good things about Jassen and his crew from My Handy Mate ~ you can see more of his work HERE and HERE, and if you’re in the Columbus area and looking for a job big or small I definitely recommend giving him a call. 
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

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7 Items You Should Always Look for at Goodwill {Before Shopping Retail Stores}

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Love thrift store shopping? Depending on your area, your local Goodwill store (or favorite thrift store . . . ) probably carries some fantastic savings you’ve never even thought about, and are worth swinging by before paying full retail price.

 

While some things at Goodwill may not be what you’re looking for, you may be surprised with what you find. And, if you go in with an open mind you might just turn another man’s trash right on in to your treasure! Here are the things I watch for every time I walk in the door . . .

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1. Picture Frames

Most picture frames you find at Goodwill probably won’t be for you, but with a little work you may be able to paint it, or just put a new picture in to get a whole new look.

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Last winter I spent a whopping $10 updating two frames I found at Goodwill to use in our home with very little effort. Matching prints would have cost well over $100 in my favorite Ballard Design catalog, so this was a great way to save!

 

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2. Lamps.

Lamps are easy to find at Goodwill, and you may be lucky enough to find one that works just perfectly with only a new shade, or something you can easily spray paint. (Make sure to check and see if the lamp works before bringing it home.)

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I updated these out-dated lamps with some spray paint (it was so easy!), and spent a fraction of what a similar lamp would cost me at a retail store.

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3. Bedroom furniture.

You can easily find bits and pieces of bedroom furniture at Goodwill, especially in kids bedrooms where furniture often takes a beating and may not get seen by anyone all that often. (To pay full price for high end furniture when your kids are little seems crazy to me!)

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And you can find great furniture for just about any room in your house with a little vision. This summer I noticed a slightly beaten up sleigh bed at Goodwill for $48, and was able to easily freshen it up with a little homemade chalk paint. It took me less than an hour to complete, and I absolutely love the finished results!

 

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4. Chairs

Goodwill always has quite a few odd ball chairs which you can usually pick up for $10 or less. 

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I got this one for just $2.50 (my favorite deal ever!) :) and all it took was a little paint to freshen it up.

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5. Glassware & silver platters

Goodwill stores always have tons of glassware, which may be the perfect piece for you with just a quick deep cleaning. I’ve found pieces that are almost exactly the same as what’s at our local Home Goods store for a fraction of the cost.

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You can also often find silver platters & dishes for as low as just $1 (which probably aren’t real silver, but you never know.) Give them a good cleaning and save them to use during the Holidays.

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6. Books, DVDs & video games

Goodwill is a fantastic place to find books on just about anything you’re interested in. Find cookbooks, children’s books, novels, how-tos and more, and be sure to watch for used DVDs and video games as well.

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7. Name brand clothing & formalwear

love checking Goodwill for their clothing racks, where I often find clothes for my kids (and sometimes myself too.) Especially for my high school son, I’ve picked up Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie, and Banana Republic brands all for $4 or less, and after he’s seen the prices on clothing at the mall he’s willing to try them out for me.

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Last fall I found this Ann Taylor denim jacket at Goodwill for just $5, and Lands End sweater for $3. Be careful to watch for stains when you shop ~ I rarely end up buying more than an item or two while I’m there but you have saved a bundle by taking a few minutes to look through their clothing racks.

 

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Update: I found the frame in the picture at the top of the post at Goodwill, brand new from Target, then we used it when we updated our alcove! I forgot to include to watch for brand new merchandise also when you’re there. I’ve found a ton of Target items and even some Crate and Barrel brand new items as well. Definitely worth watching for!

 

What would you add to the list? Leave a comment to share! 

 

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Looking for more ways to save? Here you go . . . 

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The Once A Month Grocery Shopping Experiment Week 4: I Finally Did It!

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After failing a bit last week at our once a month grocery shopping experiment, I’m thrilled that this week was a success! I went to the store just once, and spent just $13.80, well under my budgeted weekly bill of $25 that I’d planned during this month for weekly “extras” like produce and milk that just wouldn’t last the full month.

(Read more on my month long plan over HERE)

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Here’s what our totals look like so far this month: 

 

I am planning to head to Fresh Thyme Market this Wednesday to stock up on more produce (they have watermelons for $2 – love that!) I’m also hoping for a decent sale on chicken, because honestly as long as we have chicken at home (we have completely depleted our stockpile), I think we could go another week or two for the most part just cooking up what’s in the kitchen.

 

I have missed a few sales and may swing by Kroger over the weekend to stock up on those, but in all honesty feel like we’ve spent so much less by having a better monthly plan in place prior to shopping. If you’ve been working to cut your grocery budget I’d love to hear what you’re doing too – leave a comment to share your thoughts!

 

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DIY Butcher Block Sign (Saved $65!)

DIY Butcher Block Sign

 

I saw this sign a few weeks ago at Alter’d State (I love that store and am so glad they opened one in Columbus!) It was priced though at $75 (yikes), and I knew there had to be a way to make it for less.

 

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Well, this week when my office finally was completed (watch for pictures next week!) some of the butcher block from countertop was leftover and I knew I could make it myself. I’d wanted the sign for my office, so this was the perfect way to make good use of what we already had.

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I’ve always loved Proverbs 31, and debated between this and the phrase “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.” (I’m all about grace around here!) But since I struggle so much some days with behaving like a girl who’s clothed in strength and dignity (anyone else?), I chose this one as a daily reminder to myself.

 

I used my Silhouette Cutting machine and some left over paint, and finished it in about an hour.

 

Note to self – what looks easy NEVER is easy . . . I couldn’t believe it took that long!

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I found Silhouette Stencil Material at Michaels this morning (they had it for $9.99 – it’s a little cheaper on Amazon), but honestly I wasn’t all that impressed. It was very hard to pull away from the backing (literally, that took me 45 minutes!), and while maybe I could re-use the stencil again to make a similar pattern somewhere else it just wasn’t all that easy.

(I’ve used vinyl before on projects and it’s worked so well – I’ll use that again next time!)

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But, once that was done it was easy to paint in the stencil, and I couldn’t believe how well it turned out! I spent $9.99 for the stencil material compared to $75 at the store, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Love it!

 

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(I’m still debating furniture in my office and picked up this table and lamp today at Home Goods – that’s why the tags are still there but I’ll share the complete room next week! )

 

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

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How We Saved $10,000 By Doing It Ourselvses

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You guys.

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I’m not gonna lie, saving $10,000 by doing most of this project ourselves was not. easy.

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And I’m also not going to tell you we did it all for $100.

 

Not even close. At all. Crazy.

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But, I am going to tell you that if you’re willing to put in some serious work and researching you can save a bundle by doing home projects yourself.

To make my life easier (uploading these pics separately was nuts!), here’s a video of how the actual fireplace took shape.

A few notes on the video:

  • We saved $500 by pouring the concrete foundation for the fireplace alone – it was a lot of work but took about 2 hours so we figured James and I made a $125 hour rate and a little exercise too.
  • The stone for the hearth was HEAVY. It was a miracle James & Jackson were able to move it into place!
  • The size of the original fireplace was fairly narrow, so James bought $20 in concrete block to beef it up a bit.

 

Last Spring when we moved to Ohio we knew we wanted a pretty patio to enjoy. We love being outside, and have a beautiful yard but missed the outdoor space we’d had in Alabama.

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When we moved, we budgeted immediately some moo-lah for this (backyard living spaces aren’t cheap!) and got a few estimates.

 

Because our kids are getting older (I have a sophomore. in. high. school. CRAZY.) we knew that we wanted the space pretty quickly so that we could enjoy it while our kids were still at home. We’ve always been pretty patient and usually wait several years before tackling major home projects, but since we’d budgeted for this from the day we purchased the home, we knew it was something we wanted to tackle pretty quickly.

 

One of the biggest things I struggled with when we moved is that after 18 years of marriage we’d pinch our pennies to re-do three homes to varying degrees, and I just hated to start again after feeling like our home was almost done. We really planned to stay in our Alabama home forever so the move was tough! When we looked for homes here we made sure we had money set aside for the backyard and office updates which has helped so much. I’m so glad we did because it’s made these updates much more manageable!

So, we got an estimate for the backyard last summer, including the patio, deck, landscaping and a fireplace (knowing that we would likely do some of it ourselves.)

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However, when the estimates all came in between $22,000 and $24,000 (YIKES), we knew we’d be doing quite a bit of it ourselves! Like I shared last week, we did hire someone to put in the stamped concrete patio, but tackled everything else on our own.

 

Here’s the before (remember?)

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And here’s the after . . .

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This is the view from our back porch before . . .
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And here it is today . . .

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Like I said, we still spent a bundle, but saved a ton. There were a few things that we paid more for than we probably had to, but for us they were worth it for the convenience. So, just to be honest with you all, here’s what we spent (which is still so much, but added value to our home and we already enjoy it so much!)

  • Semco Outdoor for Stone Fireplace Kit, Stone Hearth from Lang Stone, Cedar Mantel from Columbus Millwork, and fireplace stone and mortar from Reitter Stucco $6401 (looking back we probably could have done this for less by building the fireplace out of concrete block, but the kit made it much easier to build, which was worth it since it was the first time we’d tackled a project like this)
  • Patio Landscaping – $1954 (included stacked stone around the fireplace, 5 trees, plants, topsoil, mulch ~ I can’t believe this cost that much, but it went up fast!)
  • Poured concrete patio $2800 
  • Stacked stone column $165
  • Total = $11320
  • Savings from $23,000 estimate = $11680

 

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My amazing-fantastic-he-must-really-love-me-a-bunch husband has never tackled a project this large, but did just an incredible job. By working on smaller projects when we first were married he learned the ropes, and got his confidence up for this monster. I couldn’t be more pleased with it!

 

While this was a lot of work, getting what we dreamed of was completely worth it (, and we were able to decide exactly how things would end up. We still have little tweaking to do, but I’m so proud of his work (along with his awesome sidekicks – our kids Jackson and Caroline were an amazing help, and we just paid them in half price Sonic milkshakes this summer!) :)

Have you tackled any major DIY projects in your home? I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

Looking for more landscaping posts? Here are a few: 

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I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

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Our Backyard Makeover Part 2: Deck, Patio, and Flower Bed

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http://passionatepennypincher.com/2015/05/how-to-keep-your-flower-beds-weed-free/

 

After tackling the flower bed on the side yard, our next big goal was to get a small deck added to the back of the house and add a stamped concrete patio. As I shared last time, we did most of the work ourselves, but did hire a company to lay the stamped concrete, as that was too big a project for us to take on ourselves.

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We chose stamped concrete instead of pavers because of the long term maintenance (we didn’t want to eventually have to weed between pavers), and my husband had heard that pavers sometimes shift. Stamped concrete can be considerably less expensive than pavers, so we decided that was the best option for us. (I do absolutely love the look of pavers, but am pretty pleased with the way the patio turned out!)

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After the patio was laid, it kind of looked to me like it hovered too high above the ground and I just wasn’t sold that we’d done the right thing. My (wise!) husband assured me it was going to turn out perfectly (I so didn’t trust him!), but after adding in stone and landscaping, he was absolutely right.

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It took about two days (and a jillion trips back and forth to pick up new stone) for the kids, James and I to complete the flower bed around the patio. Once it was finished, we added landscaping (the difference landscaping made was huge!) and since James and I are both pretty addicted to landscape nurseries, we had the best time picking out the right plants. (See how we’re keeping those flower beds mostly weed free over HERE.)

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Neither of us have any real background in landscaping (other than what we’ve done as we’ve moved from  house to house to update the yard), so this was probably the biggest job we tackled. Honestly, once the bed was done planting it was easy and is one of those things that you can do yourself and feel so rewarded when you’re finished.

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I’m in love with the funky Japanese Maple we found for the center of the back, and we’ve always loved Stella D’oro Daylilies so we picked a bunch of those as well. We both thought the the lavender in bloom was so pretty (see it above), and I’m so pleased that now that the lavender’s no longer bloom those Stellas are taking over. So fun to play with pretty plantings!

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The big project (um, huge) has been that fireplace and it’s almost there. I’m so hoping we’ll have it ready next week to show you (you can keep up with updates over HERE on instagram), and while I totally think it’s worth doing things yourself, this one has been a monster project for us.
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So, there you have it! Can’t wait to show you the final reveal next week . . . so exciting! :)

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Looking for more landscaping posts? Here are a few: 

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

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7 {Saving} Secrets You Need To Know Before Shopping Hobby Lobby

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It’s not secret that I love me some Hobby Lobby shopping. I love their cute home decor, DIY inspiration, and could spend hours perusing their fabric aisle. But did you know there are a few secrets to shopping Hobby Lobby to help you save even more? Check these out . . .

1. Almost always, you can find a 40% off coupon online at Hobby Lobby valid on any one non-sale item.

You can show the coupon on  your Smartphone or print it off in store, and it’s valid for one use per customer per day. You can also use the 40% off coupon on a single cut of fabric or trim. If you prefer, you can use the Hobby Lobby app that includes both their store sales ad and coupon on iPhone and Android.

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2. Certain items at Hobby Lobby go on sale 50% off just about every other week.

If you want something at Hobby Lobby but it’s not on sale, wait a week or two because many items at Hobby Lobby go on sale at least once a month. Here are a few items I’ve noticed pretty consistently on sale 50% off every other week or two at Hobby Lobby:

 

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  • ribbon
  • select scrapbooking supplies
  • glassware
  • home accents
  • floral
  • wood and metal decor
  • small decorative frames (these are almost always on sale)
  • candles

I’m working to figure out the exact sales schedule at Hobby Lobby but haven’t found it yet – if you have any tips I’d love to hear those!

 

3. There are items that just don’t go on sale all that often at Hobby Lobby.

While Hobby Lobby is great about putting some items on sale, there are things that don’t go on sale very often at all (and hardly ever 50% off.) Here are a few items you’ll need to save that 40% off coupon for:

  • cake decorating or candy making supplies
  • stationary
  • kids crafts

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90% off Christmas Clearance by January 15

4. Hobby Lobby deeply discounts Holiday decor and select home accents.

Clearance at Hobby Lobby after big Holidays (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, etc) starts at 66% off. Usually within the next month those items clearance up to 80% off, and then 90% shortly after that. Hobby Lobby actually starts putting Christmas items on clearance in December, and by mid-January everything is clearanced to 90% off. Great way to save if you can hang onto it for a year!

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At the back of the store and around the side perimeters Hobby Lobby has additional clearance. These are typically 66% off, and are worth checking out to see if there are any clearanced items you’ve been watching for.

 

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5. Hobby Lobby has great prices on poster board.

This one may seem a little random, but as a mom whose kids are always up to some project at school, I love this little deal! While the Dollar Tree has white poster board on sale every day 2/$1, their colored poster boards are $.69. Every few weeks Hobby Lobby puts all of their poster board on sale 2/$1 (including colored poster boards), which is worth watching for when you’re there.

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6. Hobby Lobby honors competitors’ sales ads but does not take competitor coupons.

According to their coupon policy, Hobby Lobby will honor a competitor ad if they carry the exact same item. They don’t honor “percent off” coupons though, or special Holiday ads (i.e. Black Friday sales.)

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7. You can request to order large quantities of items at HobbyLobby by checking with the customer service desk at your store.

If you’re looking for a specific item at Hobby Lobby but they don’t have the quantity you need, ask your customer service desk to see if they can order them for you. They are able to order most items, which makes getting large quantities easier for you!

 

Go HERE to read the Hobby Lobby coupon policy, and if you’ve come up with other ways to save at Hobby Lobby I’d love to hear about it! Take a minute to leave a comment to share ~ I love hearing from you.

 

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The 5 Day Teen (Or Tween) Budget Challenge Update

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I’ve been meaning to update you all week on how the 5 Day Tween Budget Challenge went in our home, and goodness I learned so much! My daughter Caroline did a great job handling her budgeted money (she was highly motivated because she knew anything she saved would be hers to keep.) Here’s how she did:

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  • Tuesday – $2.25 at Family Dollar
  • Wednesday – $49.03 at Kroger and Sam’s Club (she cooked Chicken Pot Pie for dinner)
  • Thursday – $0 (she made pizza for dinner)
  • Friday – $15 at Panera (the kids had a babysitter while I worked during the day, and decided to go out to lunch with the sitter), Caroline cooked breakfast for dinner
  • Saturday – $28 for lunch at Culver’s (at her dad and brother’s request)
  • Total = $94.28 (which included a few splurges ~ she could have done it for less and I think would have if she hadn’t had a little peer pressure from her family!) :)

Do you know what I learned from this experiment?

 

Your kids are watching you.

 

(ahem.)

 

My kid is watching me.

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I wish you could have seen my surprise when Caroline walked into my office on Thursday morning and asked for my Kroger password so that she could login and check out their e-coupons.

 

And every time she went anywhere she checked our Entertainment and Enjoy the City Coupon Books to see if there was a deal or two there.

 

And while she was making dinner, she set the table, tidied up the kitchen, and had everyone wash their hands before heading in to eat.

 

Just like I do.

 

That girl is watching me.

 

Yikes.

 

As our kids are getting older (and probably because of the business that I run here on PPP), we talk (a lot) about our finances. But, giving them real access to how money works is new to them, so this has been a huge eye opener for our children. Even yesterday when shopping with my 15 year old, I realized he’s soaking it all in. (The thought of spending $25 on a t-shirt to him was crazy ~ he even made the comment that Goodwill is the best place to shop – ha!)

 

No matter where you are in your finances, your kids are not going to start out with what you have, so teaching them now how to handle their money can shape their financial future forever. I’ll keep you posted on how my son does on the challenge (I’m curious to see myself), but definitely recommend handing your kids the reigns on your family’s budget for a few days if they’re old enough so they can learn under your guidance at home.

New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:

 

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7 Secrets You Need To Know Before Shopping At Michaels

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Love shopping Michaels Craft Store? Goodness, I do too! And I love that Michaels is coupon friendly, so you can save big every time you shop.

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Here are my top 7 secrets you need to know before shopping at Michaels:
1. Use store coupons.

Michaels offers new store coupons that you can find in the Sunday fliers in your newspaper as well as online every week. You can print the coupon or just show them the coupon on your Smartphone.

 

Michaels often randomly offers a very high value coupon for one day only, so watch for those savings as well. When I hear one of these pop up I always post the information here on PPP, so be sure to subscribe to daily emails or follow PPP on Facebook so you don’t miss those savings!

2. Check out Michaels Mobile Alerts & App.

Sign up for mobile text alerts from Michaels by texting the words JOIN2 to 273-283. Standard text message rates do apply, but they send out coupons as often as 8 messages per month.

You can also download the Michaels app to your Smartphone to easily get coupons to show in store. I just checked, and found the following coupons available (which are the same coupons you can find on their website:)

  • 20% off entire purchase (including sale items)
  • 60% off framing
  • 40% off regular price stickers & embellishments by Recollections
  • 40% off regular price stringing, cording and tools by Bead Landing

(These will vary by week and are just an example of what’s currently available) 

3. Take advantage of competitor coupons.

Michaels will accept coupons from the following stores (as long as they’re in your area):

  • ACMoore
  • JoAnne Fabrics
  • Ben Franklin
  • Hobby Lobby

Michaels will accept a competitor coupon up to 50% off any single item, however they won’t allow coupons for a percentage off your entire order (i.e. 25% off your entire purchase.) Depending on the management at your store, you may be able to use a competitor coupon AND a store coupon in the same transaction.

 

4. Don’t miss Michaels special one or two day sales.

Michaels frequently offers special short term deals, which you can find when you check their weekly ad online or sign up for their daily emails. This is a great way to save, and I’ve found fantastic prices on mason jars, canvases, and photo boxes watching for these sales.

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5. Shop Michaels “dollar” bins & big savings aisle.

All Michaels stores have dollar bins (really $1.50 bins) near the front of the store. These often go on clearance, and are a great way to stock up on seasonal decor, cute muffin cups, thank you notes, gift tags and lots more! I always make a beeline for this section of the store as soon as I walk in the door.

There’s also an aisle in most Michaels stores that has special gift items, kids activities, teacher gift ideas and more. I’ve seen these aisles clearanced 50% as well, which is a great way to stock up on inexpensive gifts, birthday treats, cute buckets and so much more while you’re there!

6. Watch for seasonal clearance at Michaels.

Michaels offers huge clearance savings, especially on seasonal decor. I’ve found great deals on Christmas decor, fall decorations, items for Spring and more by taking advantage of their clearance deals.

(Recent video of my clearance savings at Michaels – you can save so much by watching for those clearance sales!)

 

If you watch closely, they often clearance out items that are not specifically seasonal so you can save big on things you can use year round (for example, last Spring they clearanced cute paper straws that work any time of year.) So, watch those clearance bins because you never know what you may find!

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7. Enjoy Military, Senior & Teacher Discounts.

Are you a member of the military? If you have a military ID card you can save an additional 10% off every single day when you shop Michaels. You can also save 10% every day at Michaels if you’re 55 or older.  Love that!

Teachers also save 15% at Michaels every day on participating items.  If you’re a teacher, save 15% at Michaels on products designed for your classroom. See the store management at your local Michaels to find out what’s included in this promotion.

Not sure crafting is for you? Michaels offers classes too!

Michaels also offers in store classes including classes for kids and adults. A few of their classes are free (however you may need to buy supplies), and some of their paid for classes start at just $2 per class. Go HERE to see what classes are offered at your local store.

 

Go HERE to read Michaels coupon policy, and if you’ve come up with other ways to save at Michaels I’d love to hear about it! Take a minute to leave a comment to share ~ I love hearing from you.

 

ikea15

Looking for more free printables? Check these out:

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Our Backyard Makeover Part One (& 5 Reasons Why You Should Do It Yourself)

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I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to share some backyard updates with you all, and we’re finally getting close to the finished results! 

Last summer when we moved from Alabama to Ohio, we were so unprepared for the state of our yard. In Alabama folks live outside just about year round, and we’d spent ten years fluffing up our backyard until it was one of our favorite spots.

(Our Alabama backyard – see more pictures HERE. We loved that yard!)

So when we moved to a new home in Ohio we were shocked at the lack of landscaping (goodness, we had no grass!) for our first summer. For a jillion reasons we were unable to get sod or any kind of green stuff in our yard all summer long. We moved to Ohio in May, and here’s a peek of what our yard still looked like in August.

Crazy.

(In Alabama this would have been unheard of ~ to say it was a long summer for our 3 kids with nowhere to play outside is an understatement!)

But we learned a few things (isn’t there always something to learn?) Many nights we’d head outside, walk around our rocky yard (it was so rocky that you could hardly walk without wearing hiking boots) :) and imagine what we wanted for our yard.

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(this is that same yard in the above picture one year later after grass and we added stone – amazing what a year will do!)

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We slowly started picking up all the rocks that were in the yard (because we knew the landscapers who were handling the sod wouldn’t take care to remove smaller rocks), and ended up with a huge pile of stone that we could work with. Not knowing what to do with all that stone, we decided to slowly create a bed around one of our first flower beds. We didn’t spend a penny (other than our labor), and while it doesn’t look at all like many of the beautiful stone borders I’ve seen, it does look much better than nothing at all (and it was free! I love free . . . ) 

 

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Here’s the view from our breakfast room the day our sod was finally delivered – such a glorious day (no joke!) 😉 

 

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Since last summer we’ve gotten grass (WOOHOO!) and all of our flowers have started to fill in. While we’ve paid folks to have some of the work done we’ve done a bunch of it ourselves, and I’ll be sharing what we’ve finished over the next few weeks.


So what’s the value in doing it yourself? Here’s what we’ve learned (after nineteen years of oodles of DIY’ing . . . )
  1. We care about our own home more than anyone else. While we choose sometimes to pay people for certain projects in our home, no one cares about our home like we do, which means we can give ourselves the very best finished product!
  2. It’s often hard to find good help, and if you’re impatient (like me) waiting for them to get something done can make you crazy. While there are projects that we’d love to pay people for, the fact that I can decide to paint a room, head to my home supply store, purchase what I need, and come home and paint it myself all in a few hours is much more appealing than waiting for a contractor to do the work for me. So, while it may take me some time to do, I’m more than happy to work on it because I’m in control of each project’s time frame!
  3. It’s great exercise. Working in our yard has always been one of my husband’s favorite things to do, because he loves getting the exercise and just being outside. If he paid someone else to do it he wouldn’t enjoy those benefits (and isn’t someone who naturally loves to exercise), so this is an added (free!) bonus.
  4. Doing it yourself gives you a fantastic sense of accomplishment. It’s fun to have a project completely in your home, but it’s so much more fun when you can say you learned how to do something new all by yourself. I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who’s willing to learn how to do just about anything (and frugal enough not to pay people all that often), but we started out just like everyone else and have learned so much along the way.
  5. You will add a ton of value to your home when you do things yourself. The first two homes we purchased were huge fixer uppers, however we spent very little to update them because we did just about all the work ourselves. Doing things ourselves in those early years helped us put basically free equity in our homes, and has increased the value of our home each time we’ve moved.

 

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Here are the basic projects we’ve been working on in our yard (I’ll show the steps over the next few weeks):

  1. Getting grass (this was included in the purchase of our home but didn’t actually happen until almost four months after we moved in. Crazy!)
  2. Stamped concrete patio (we paid someone to do this because it was too big a project for my husband and I to do. I’ll update with pictures next soon.)
  3. Build a small deck off the breakfast room so that we could keep our grill at the top of the steps so we could easily grill outside in the winter time.
  4. Create a flower bed using stone around the patio.
  5. Build a stone fireplace (this is a huge project to tackle, but my husband’s doing an incredible job and we’re saving almost $10,000 by doing it ourselves!)

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Stop back next week to see more updates (above is just a peek), and follow me on Instagram if you’d like to sneak peeks as the work progresses. Such fun!

 

 
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

 

See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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