A Modern Day Fairy Tale: October 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Our Family Photos 2012 {By....ME!?}

A few months back I came to the realization that our last family pictures had been taken over two years ago, shortly before Matt left for his most recent deployment. Of course, we'd had a few snapshots taken here and there- when he returned home, recruiting school graduation, Christmas- but I wanted something nicer! So began the search for a local photographer.

Here's where I have to be honest: I am VERY picky when it comes to photographers! Most of our family portraits have been done by a photographer in Southern Indiana near where my mom lives. He's a wonderful photographer, reasonably priced and most importantly did well with Shaun- letting him take his time each visit to warm up to everything before even attempting to get any photos taken. This is great for kids in general, but especially awesome for a kid with Autism. I've actually been going to him for photos since my junior year in high school. But unfortunately, we just don't have the time to visit as much as we would like, and I just didn't want to wait! (Though I know we'll be going back there again when we have more time!) So I went on the search for someone more local.

Did I mention I am extremely picky? See, while I may not be the best photographer in the world, I do know enough about photography to know what is professional quality. In fact, I've had others ask me why *I* don't charge for pictures, and the answer is simply that I know that they are not up the standards I have for myself to be able to justify charging, so I refuse to do so at this point. Unfortunately, others don't have that same standard and believe a nice camera makes you a photographer (a pet peeve of mine to be honest). Don't get me wrong, I found many awesome photographers in our area whom I would have loved to gone to, but unfortunately those just weren't within our budget at the moment. The more affordable photographers I found, just weren't awesome. Not all were horrible, but they just weren't amazing, and I could not bring myself to pay money for something that I felt I could do an equal, if not better job at myself.

So that's exactly what I decided to do- take my own family photos! It took some convincing on my husband's part, but I finally got the go ahead to give it a try! With the help of my trusty tripod and camera remote (seriously, I'd love to thank whoever invented these things!), we made it work. Now granted, I only got one photo where Matt smiled, though that's typical for him in photos! And not one where Shaun was actually looking at the camera, though again typical- we'll blame the Autism for that one! But overall, I was pretty happy with how they turned out. Not professional quality by any means, but so much better than just a random snapshot.

Here are a few of my favorite shots of the day:

This is one of my favorites, and the only where Matt actually really smiled! Even though Shaun wasn't looking, I love this look of adoration on his face. You can see the love he has for Mommy and Daddy and to me that is better than any photo with eye contact. One hundred percent real family love.

I shared this one yesterday, but I have to share it again because it's my other favorite! The original idea was that Shaun was to cover his eyes and make an 'eww' face. But when does Shaun ever really cooperate so well? At least he was looking down, and I believe had his eyes shut, so it still worked! This was also the hardest to take because I could not see what Shaun was doing, or if the camera had actually snapped! Definitely worth the trouble though! (And in case you Shabby Apple fans are wondering- yes, that is their Aloha dress I'm wearing!)

There is something about this one I really like too, despite Matt looking as bored as I am certain he felt at this point. I'll be honest too, I've never felt that I was that great at black and white photos either (yes, there is more to making an awesome B&W than just turning it to grayscale), but I was really pleased with how this one turned out!

When I redid this frame ages ago, I immediately thought it would be wonderful for photos! Unfortunately, this was the first chance I actually had to use it! I was fairly pleased with how they turned out, but to be honest, I had many more ideas that would have required me to be behind the camera too.

I don't know what was with my hair at that point...must have been either the wind (I was moving hair our of my face all day) or all that running back and forth checking my settings and making sure the camera was positioned properly, but either way, there was something I still liked about this one!

I wish I had gotten more photos with this outfit combination...I loved these colors together (you wouldn't believe how hard it was to actually find outfits for all three of us that coordinated!). Unfortunately, it was cold and windy, and the boys were ready to be done at this point! I did take a few more after this, in a different spot, but I was in such a hurry trying to finish for the boys, that I forget to check and change my settings back (I was doing it right and shooting in manual), and they ended up way overexposed. Well, you live and you learn, right? Next time I'll remember to check every time!

So those are my family photos! As I said, they aren't as awesome as they could be, but I'm happy with them! At the very least, they didn't cost me a dime, and gave me some more experience with posing, etc.

P.S. Don't forget to enter my Stella & Dot giveaway! You seriously don't want to miss out!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Amazing Stella & Dot Review

I usually try to only post once a day, really, I do...but I am super excited to bring you today's review and giveaway as part of my 2012 Holiday Gift Guide that I just couldn't wait any longer! (Plus, I wanted to make sure to give you at least a few days to take advantage of the Breast Cancer Awareness items, but more on that later!)

By now I'm sure most of you have heard of Stella and Dot! If you haven't, where on earth have you been!? This wonderful company has been everywhere lately- TV, magazines and worn by some awesome celebrities too- Katy Perry, Kelly Ripa, Natasha Bedingfield, Debra Messing, Fergie and a couple of my favorites- Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez! By now you might be thinking if the celebrities are wearing it, it must not be affordable  right? Wrong! But before I get into that, here's a quick introduction from our lovely sponsor Independent Stella and Dot Consultant, Erica Anderson!

Hello! My name is Erica, I am an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot as well as a chiropractic student. I became an avid fan of Stella & Dot about a year and a half ago when I ordered my first bracelet, the Bardot Spiral in gold..and totally fell in love. About 6 months ago I became a stylist because I thought it would be a fun hobby with perks!

Stella and Dot, an Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Company, is a San Francisco based social selling company that creates flexible entrepreneurial opportunities for women. Our boutique-style jewelry and accessories line is available exclusively through in-home Trunk Shows by Independent Stylists and online. 

October 1st our Holiday line launched as well as 5 items in support for Breast Cancer Awareness month. There are so many fabulous pieces, I don't even know where to start! With the holiday's around the corner, there is essentially something for everyone! 
My top 5 favorite gifting items Under $100 are:
1. Wesley Pendant: It' s a simple statement piece with some bling, and under $100.

2. Liz Drop Earrings paired with the Suzanne Cocktail ring: Green, gold and sparkle- a perfect mix for the holiday season. Both items come in under $100.

3. Alice Temperley's Queen of Heart Charm Necklace is a fun, playful piece that is perfect when paired with a sweater! This beauty comes in under $50, a total steal!

4. Mercer Zip Wallet in Poppy is full of pockets, with a pretty little leather tassel on the zipper. Plus this wallet has two of my favorite colors- pink and orange! It's a whole lotta wallet that is ready to be a showstopper...in your purse!

5. For the first time ever Stella & Dot has SCARVES! I LOVE scarves! I'm from Nebraska, and have rocked scarves for many years of my life! I have to say, all of these patterns are my favorite! The pink one supports the Noreen Fraser Foundation for Breast Cancer, the blue one reminds me of my sorority- Alpha Xi Delta, the poppy one has my 2 favorite colors (and if your an Alabama fan, it has elephants on it!), the green one is just a different pattern, and the tan one is totally awesome- we all need a little walk on the wild side! 

To show how affordable Stella and Dot can be, Erica asked me to pick my favorite item under $60! What a tough decision! First of all, EVERYTHING in the catalog is absolutely stunning! Secondly, half of it is under $50, and even more under that $60! Erica was kind enough to send me not just one, but two of my favorites: the Bryant Park Scarf in Pink and the Claire Necklace! The first thing I have to mention is the packaging! Each piece comes in adorable boxes with fun messages! Really, you don't even really have to wrap them- add a cute bow and they're already gift ready!!

I've mentioned once or twice (or a million times) that I absolutely LOVE scarves, but I'm also a little picky about my scarves too. I like them long, and wide enough that there are lots of styling options...even though I tend to fall back to the same few styles, I like knowing I have options. I've found scarves like I like to be fairly hard to find, but this one was absolute perfection! It was the perfect size! In fact, it's large enough to make a vest from (using instructions found on the main Stella & Dot Facebook page). It was also extremely soft and a great quality. I am so in love with this scarf that I want it in every single color it comes in!! This particular print though is made even more awesome because it benefits the Noreen Fraser Foundation for Breast Cancer awareness during the month of October! My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last December so this is a cause that is close to my heart, so I love that!! Look cute AND support a great cause? Yes, please! (As Erica stated above, this is only one of the great items supporting the cause this month only, so if you want to order this or any of the others- hurry, hurry!)

See, how pretty is this!? Best scarf ever!
The Claire Necklace- where do I even begin? I really liked this in the pictures online, but in person, it was love! Seriously, I was immediately blown away by how stunning it was! Just putting it on, I felt prettier, and who doesn't like that feeling! I've only worn out a few times, but every time I've gotten compliments on it. What the pictures do not show is the sparkle! This necklace reflects every little bit of light! (In fact, I was wearing it a few mornings ago and the light outside hit it directly...my husband said I was like a walking disco ball with all the lights shining on the wall!) I'm finding myself planning outfits just so I can wear it! As pretty as it is during the day, I found it to be even prettier at night with the street lights shining! I cannot wait to where this over the holidays with all the holiday lights! Like the scarf (and every other Stella & Dot product I've seen), the quality is amazing! In all honestly, I was a bit concerned about the ribbon and how well it would last. Obviously I've only had it for about a week now, but it's evident that I shouldn't have any troubles, it's not a flimsy little ribbon, but a strong, sturdy one. And even if you're not great at making perfect bows (like me), it still looks great! Plus, the ribbon makes it completely adjustable so you can play around with different lengths. This is definitely my new favorite necklace!

These are just a few of the MANY great items Stella and Dot has to offer. Personally, most of my Christmas list this year is made up of items from this wonderful company. The great thing about Stella and Dot to me is not only are the pieces gorgeous and unique, but they're a great quality, especially for the price! Like I mentioned before, half the collection is under $50. And if you're looking for a great splurge piece, they've got some amazing ones too! It doesn't take long to completely fall in love with Stella and Dot, that's for sure! This is the perfect gift for the fashionista in your life...especially if that fashionista loves recreating celebrity looks- with Stella and Dot, they can own the exact same pieces as their favorites!! 

Have to have something now? I love this company so much that I'm having an online trunk show! Go have a look around and place your order!

How I Met Your Father {Show & Tell Monday}

This week's topic for Show & Tell Monday, 'How I Met Your Father' was too fun not to join again! Funny thing is, we spent our weekend rewatching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix...Ha!

1. Tell us about how and when you met your love and what attracted you most to him.

I'm sure I've told this story several times before (after all, it is the story behind my blog title), but I hope no one is tired of hearing it, because I love telling our story. It all started on Myspace (you know, back when Myspace was still cool). Wait, actually let's back that up a bit more, because really, it all started when my church got a new preacher. Our church had hit a rough patch when it came to preachers, but finally we found a great one, and he had a step daughter a few years younger than me, Bethany. At a church lock-in where we were the only two to stay up the whole night, Bethany and I became instant friends. Before long, we were inseparable. I was at her house nearly every weekend, and when we weren't together, we were constantly leaving each other a TON of silly comments on Myspace. Did I mention Bethany had a half brother? Two, actually! The first I ever heard of them was a few months into our friendship when she asked me to pray for her oldest brother who was leaving for his second deployment to Iraq. (I bet you see where this story is going now, don't you!?) Well, that brother, Matt saw one of my many comments to his sister and asked her who 'the cute girl who was always posting on your profile' was. Bethany switched into matchmaker mode, and before long we were chatting on messenger nearly every night. At the time, I was struggling with a lot of self confidence issues and Matt made it his mission to make me feel like a princess. After talking for several months, we officially became a couple, having never even met in person. The thing about building a relationship online is that it forces you to really talk and get to know each other better than you might in a regular dating relationship. You don't have the worries of making small talk or a physical relationship. For me personally, I have an easier time opening up and being myself online because of my social anxiety. It did not take long before we were madly in love, and talking marriage...again, having never met in person!

That first meeting seemed like it took an eternity, but in October 2006, that day finally arrived. I was waiting at Matt's moms (I'd already at that point met the entire family already!). His sister had picked him up at the airport, and we thought was bringing him straight there, but no such luck. He'd made a pit stop at his dad's and would be a while longer...or so I thought. I'll never forget that moment I heard the door open and saw my prince's reflection for the very first time...he was dressed in his dress blues, and carrying a pillow with a single rose and 'glass' slippers. See, I have an obsession with Cinderella...it's one of my very favorite Disney movies, and Matt knew this! It was the most perfect surprise. A few weeks later, he whisked me off to California to the Marine Corps ball (where I of course wore those shoes!), and six years later we are still living our happily ever after! Truly, our own personal Cinderella story!!

2. Show us the very first {or one of the first} pictures you guys ever took together. {Feel free to show us more than one}

This photo was taken on that day we met for the first time! A fairy tale dream come true! (Doesn't he look like a real Prince Charming?) I am shocked at how much younger Matt looks in this photo! I don't think I've changed nearly as much as he has!

And the Ball, because really that was our big fairy tale moment, right?
(And really, we only had just met too!)

3. Tell us some of your favorite memories that you two had together.

Well, of course those two events mentioned above are among my top picks! We've had so many others it's hard to choose! Of course there are the obvious, getting married and the birth of our son.

I always say that as a military wife, though being apart sucks, we also get those reunions that other wives don't typically get to experience! It's a wonderful feeling finally being reunited for this first time in months, and those moment are definitely among some of my greatest memories!

Another great memory for me was going to Disneyland for the first time. Matt had been before, but I think it was even special for him seeing it through mine and Shaun's eyes! And I have to say, Matt is not always the most patient man, BUT he willingly waited in line for 2 hours (I kid you not!), at the princess exhibit so his crazy wife could have her photo taken with Cinderella! Unfortunately, after that long wait, Cinderella wasn't even there, but we did get to see her later in the day, and he willingly waited then too! 

Who looks more excited here? ;)

4. Tell us your favorite qualities about this man, what makes him "the one."
To be honest, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes me love my husband! You know how they say opposites attract? That is certainly the case with the two of us! I'm quiet, he's loud. I'm reserved, he's adventurous. I'm a vegetarian, he loves hunting and steak. I don't cuss, he's a Marine. Well, you get the idea! We're complete opposites, but we even each other out! One thing I will say that I love about my husband is his sense of humor and his story telling...he constantly has me laughing! (If he didn't crack up at his own stories, he'd make a great comedian.) And I love his laugh. People never believe me when I say this, he gets teased about his laugh, but really I love it! He's just a wonderful man, and I love him more every day!!

5. Tell us what your "date nights" typically look like.

What date nights? Seriously, wherever we go, Shaun is always there! We've gone out to eat quickly maybe once or twice in the past five years, but that's about it. The upcoming ball will be our first real date night since Shaun was born! Exciting!

And just because, I'll share a more recent pic...my favorite of our family photos from this weekend!! (I'll post more soon!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Life Via Instagram {10/19-10/26}

I may or may not have gone just a little picture crazy this week. It was a pretty great week:

Well, I figure it's best to start off with the cutest picture of the week! How handsome is my little man!? He thinks so too, after having mommy spike his hair, he couldn't wait to go to school and show it off, and couldn't resist checking himself out in every mirror he could find!! Oh yes, he's a stud!

What better way to start a morning than cinnamon rolls and decaf coffee with pumpkin spice creamer? Have you tried this yet? It's heavenly!

Am I the only one who gets excited when my Diet Coke cans start having snowflakes on them? To me it's a sign that Christmas is getting closer, and I LOVE Christmas!!

Isn't this the most gorgeous necklace ever? This picture doesn't even capture how pretty it is in person either. Stay tuned next week for an awesome review/giveaway from Stella and Dot!!

This was how I spent my weekend! Glamorous, isn't it?
Confession: I've always been scared to clean ovens, afraid I'll do something wrong or mess something up...I'm really not sure why! In our old house, we had a brand new oven, and I was super careful about spills. This house and oven was much older, and truthfully could have used a cleaning when we moved in, but honestly I thought it was just old and couldn't be helped. But at Shaun's birthday party, we had an incident with the meatloaf and a major grease spill. (Note to self: when making meatloaf for a crowd, two smaller loaves are best!) I'd been using my toaster over since, but finally got around to buying some Easy Off and tackling this thing! After letting it sit overnight, it came off fairly easy for the most part!! I did have to spray the worst of it and let it sit for a few more hours, but there was a LOT of grease! Easy Off really does live up to it's name, that's for sure! It looks better now than it did when we moved in! And I'm ready for all my holiday baking!!

Started the weekend off with a much needed commissary trip! Now, I usually hate when my hubby goes shopping with me because he throws things in, while I keep things neat and organized (typically seperated by what I had coupons for and what I don't...makes it easy to get my coupons ready at the end). Well, I hate to say it, but this mess of a cart was all me- Matt was at home! See, not only was the clearance section fully stocked when we arrived, they were still adding things while we were there! Commissary clearance is sometimes iffy- not a whole lot of anything we could really use, but that was not the case on Saturday! Lots of canned goods, and chicken bullion (which is great because I love making soups!), and Pop Tarts (90 cents a box!), and toilet paper...the list goes on! My cart was full and not organized at all!!! Somewhere under that mess of things was my binder! I ended up having to find a quiet corner- which happened to again be the clearance corner- and completely rearrange my cart! But the savings in the end were awesome, so it was a great trip and worth the trouble!   

Shaun was so excited to be able to use his Thomas umbrella earlier this week!! I love how he gets excited over little things like this!

For those who didn't know, I am a consultant for Thirty-One. I don't post about it much because the regulations on social media, blogs is confusing and rather strict, so I try to play it safe (though I do have a link in my sidebar). But I am really excited about next month's special. Not only is it an exclusive product and holiday print, but for each bought, Thirty-One will donate another product to Operation Homefront! As a military wife, this is very exciting to me! I can't post all the details here, but if you want more information about this special or hosting a party next month, leave a comment, or send me an e-mail at randi.amoderndayfairytale@gmail.com

See next photo;)

I have a lot of Thirty-One pictures this week, huh? Well, it was an exciting week for me because I earned this awesome Retro Metro bag for free!! For this month and into next month, every week that a consultant puts in $200 worth of orders in that week, we earn a different product in this exclusive print, with this cute 'Just Believe' tree design as well! I am happy to say, I earned last week's incentive, and am just in LOVE with this bag!! Like I said, this particular print is exclusive to consultants for this incentives, but the purse itself is available, and part of October's special too! Again, e-mail me or comment if you'd like details!

Last night's supper for the boys- chicken and dumplings in the crockpot! The boys were fans, so I'll have to post the recipe later...it was super easy!!

I got this adorable Shabby Apple pencil skirt MONTHS ago, and it's been sitting in my closet since because I haven't been able to find anything to go with it! I've had this top in my closet for a few months as well, and never thought to try them together until earlier this week...I think it worked pretty well! What do you think?

Shaun all snuggled in, ready for bed (though he didn't actually go to bed at the time!)

The weather has been weird this week, a few days of rain like the day I took this photo, then a few really warm, sunny days! Today is cold and rainy again, and next week they're saying we could get a rain/snow mix! Has the weather in Indiana always been this crazy, or had I just been in California too long?

Visiting Daddy and hanging out with the Marines again. (I believe the other guy in the photo had just returned from boot camp too!)

Do you think I have a problem? This isn't even all of it! I'm resisting the urge to buy all the new Fall/Winter scents!! But at least my house always smells awesome!

I posted a few days back about the DIY Infinity Scarf from an old t-shirt I had made, and mentioned I'd attempted a braided scarf too. This is the result of that. The tutorial I found said not to make the strips too thin, since they'd curl up anyway, but I think I ended up going too far in the opposite direction and they were thicker than they should have been...I'm not sure, but definitely not as nice as I'd hoped for!!

life rearranged

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tips for Successful Secondhand Shopping!

As I've mentioned many times before, I am an avid thrift shopper. If I can get something we need used, rather than paying full price, I usually will!  I like to think that I'm actually pretty good at finding great deals, and often have people asking me how I do it! So today, I wanted to share a few tips with all of you!

  • Know your area! Since moving, I've found Goodwill, Once Upon a Child, and Plato's Closet to be the best places for us. In some areas, these places aren't as good. In California, the Plato's Closet wasn't close by nor were the prices as good and the Goodwill was not as nice, and did not price all items the same, so if you found a nice name brand top, you'd pay accordingly. Still better than full price of course, but not as great as they could have been. Even the Once Upon a Child there was not as nice (or as big) as the one here. In California, I turned more towards yard sales and websites like Bookoo, and Craigslist and even Freecycle. Find out if your area has these type of sites too! (If you live near a military base, you'll likely have a Bookoo, though it may not be as active as some areas!)
  • Have time to look around! This is particularly true with Goodwill stores (and other not upscale second hand stores). Let's face it, some Goodwill stores just really aren't that great. We're lucky ours is, but even in the ones that aren't, you may be surprised at what you will find if you take your time to really look. Somewhere between all the outdated, 'who would wear that?' pieces, you might make some wonderful discoveries. In stores like Plato's Closet and other higher end consignment shops that only take newer styles, this isn't as much of an issue but it's still nice to have the extra time to look through everything.
  • Know your discounts! I've mentioned before that our local Plato's Closet offers a 15% military discount (and I believe extend that offer to police officers as well!). In California, the Once Upon a Child offered 10%, here they do not. Available discounts vary by store, but it never hurts to ask. I'm not sure what other discounts might be available, but ask your local stores, you just never know! These discounts make those already low prices even lower...awesome!
  • Speaking of discounts, see if your store offers rewards/loyalty cards! Here, both Plato's and Once Upon A Child do. For each $5 or so spent, you get a punch on your card and when it's full you get a discount. I know for Plato's Closet it's 20% off! It can't be combined with the military discount, but is a better deal than that alone!! Goodwill has a rewards card as well, though I've not yet looked into much to see all the details!!
  • Negotiate. When it comes to yard sales, Craigslist, etc, prices are generally not set in stone. If you find something you love, but don't love the price, consider asking them if they'll negotiate. Most people are willing, at least to an extent. I never considered negotiating prices until I moved to California and saw it in action...it's very common there! In fact, it's so common that if I am selling something, I will usually intentionally price it just a bit higher that what I'm actually willing to take for it, because I know I'm more likely to get what I actually want than if I just priced it at that price to begin with. (Just make sure your items are still worth the price you're actually asking too- not everyone will negotiate and you might just end up actually getting your asking price out of it! Even better!)
  • Barter. I know many of you might be thinking- does anyone actually do that anymore? YES! It's a great way to not only save money, but also clear out things you don't need! Double win! In the past I've traded for clothes, home decor and more. I've also traded coupons in the past, another awesome money saving idea! This is usually done through sites like Bookoo, or Craigslist. Some areas have Facebook groups for selling and trading as well. And if you work in direct sales, do crafts or offer another type of service (photography, house cleaning, etc) you can use those for barter as well!
  • Don't be afraid of free! Freecycle, Craigslist, yes even Bookoo are great ways to find things not only cheap, but free as well. I think many times you expect that if it's free there must be something wrong with it, but that's not always the case! Sometimes the person giving it away doesn't need the money, and would rather just give it to someone who could use it. Sometimes they don't have time to sell or take to Goodwill. They need items gone now. This is particularly true around military bases it seems, because if the moving trucks are coming and you don't have the room for it all, you'll either have to pay if you go over your weight, or pay for leaving it at the house (bulk trash). Seems like a much better option to give it away, right? We did the same ourselves before our move! Sometimes, yes what you get might not be so great, but other times you'll be amazed with your luck! For instance, I once replied to an ad for some free clothes, size small. No pictures, I had no idea what it would be or how many...imagine my surprise to find three trash bags full, name brand clothing, some new with tags, all in great condition and even the jeans were in my size...pretty awesome! Adult clothes aren't as common a find, but kids clothes definitely are! Sometimes they're stained, but a little stain remover can fix that problem, and if not, kids need play clothes anyway! I actually once got a bag of clothes for my niece, and the lady told me she couldn't sell them because they were stained. I opened the bag and the 'stains' were tiny, barely noticeable! Had she not said they had them, I wouldn't have known, and they were great clothes otherwise! Free can be a good thing!
  • See the potential. This is mostly talking about furniture and home decor items. Sometimes things just need a little TLC and they'll be good as new...or better! A coat of paint can make a world of difference! So if you see a piece of furniture that looks old and outdated, but has a great shape, think about how you can give it new life- pieces like that are usually fairly cheap too!! If you're creative when it comes to fashion, you can probably bring some new life into old clothing finds too...I'm not nearly that good!!
  • Know the value. Just because something is used, doesn't always mean you're getting a great deal. This is particularly true on sites like Ebay, and even Craigslist at times. Sometimes you can actually find the same item for cheaper new on sale, so make sure you look around too. I've seen this more with baby and kids items than anything. Sometimes, people really do pay more for an item and the price drops considerably after the fact. Other times it seems people deliberately are trying to overcharge you for it. Not cool.
  • Watch shipping charges. I don't do a ton of secondhand shopping online, but when I do, I'm always sure to check shipping prices first. Sometimes what seems like a great deal isn't after shipping, so definitely take that into consideration as well!
Here are a few pictures of some of my personal deals (that I'd already had uploaded anyway!):

1950's Vintage Apron-50 cents at a yard sale!

This one wasn't technically a yard sale find of mine. My mother in law actually gave me this mirror, but it is an example of what a difference some paint can make!

This one WAS a yard sale find, and just 50 cents! A can of spray paint and some lace I already had, and it looks fantastic, and only cost about $4! This is one of my favorite pieces in my house now!

This shelf was also a yard sale find, at just $5!

This was from my Plato's Closet grab bag event trip! (Any clearance item you could fit in a bag-about the size of a newspaper bag- for $10.) I want to say I had about 40 pieces total, for just $40!! Definitely my best shopping trip so far!

This was another Plato's Trip, and also cost around $40 total...but with three pairs of shoes, still a deal!

Yes, I've shared this picture twice in a week already! But this outfit is a great example of thrift shopping!
Top: $4 Goodwill
Jeans (Banana Republic): $2 Plato's Closet. (These were actually on clearance because something had been spilled on them at the store, I took them home and washed them and they were like new!)
Boots: $12 Plato's Closet.
Total Cost: $18!!

Whew, that's a lot of information there! If you stuck through until the end, I hope you picked up some tips that will help you save some money! Have more ideas? I'd love to hear them! And I'd love to hear about your greatest/latest thrift finds as well!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three Years

Three years ago, I sat in an office at Rady's Children's Hospital in San Diego, waiting to hear the news from the child psychologist that would change our world.

"Your child has Autism."

Going into the appointment that day, I was already 99% certain about the news we would hear. I'd done the research and knew my sweet boy had MANY red flags. He didn't respond to his name, his eye contact was minimal, he'd lost much of the language he'd once had (and what remained wasn't functional), didn't respond to any questions or directions, and didn't play appropriately with his toys. (At that point, he was big into Cars-a shocker if you saw him now, he's terrified- and would group them together by who was together during particular scenes in the movie.) But still, even going in knowing doesn't prepare you for that final diagnosis. In that moment, I went through a large range of emotions. From relief that we had the answer, to fear of what the future would hold, to sadness for the hardships my son would now face, to guilt wondering if it was something I had done, to determination to do whatever it took to give my boy the best future possible. Telling my husband, who was away at training in Oklahoma for 6 weeks was one of the hardest things I've had to tell anyone. I felt very alone and more than anything wished my husband could have been there during that moment. I'll admit I shed many tears over the diagnosis, not because I was upset that I had a child with Autism. He was still the same child whom I loved unconditionally, just as he was. It was more the uncertainty that came with the diagnosis.

Three years later, some of that uncertainty still remains. While I strongly believe my son will do amazing things with his life, and be full capable of living and working on his own, the truth is we really don't know what the future holds. What I do know is that when I compare Shaun today to that little boy that first went in for that evaluation, the difference is astounding! I am daily amazed at how very far he has come. Though simple, and often requiring a lot of effort and patience, I love that I get to have real conversations with my sweet boy. I love hearing him say, 'I'm pretending with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head' (though his play is still not where it should be either). I love hearing him read everything. I love seeing a bit of how his mind works and how incredibly intellegent he is. And more than anything, I love hearing my boy tell me, unprompted- 'Mommy, I love you!' It's the simple things that many take for granted that mean so very much to me.

Like I said, I still don't really know what Shaun's future holds, but I know that he is an amazing little boy and I am daily blessed to have him in my life. Three years from now, I hope to be able to look back at this rough patch we've hit and stand amazed at the progress as I have in these first three years. God has amazing plans for my son, and I know this is still only the beginning of our journey.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11

"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him."- John 9:1-3

Monday, October 22, 2012

Show & Tell {All About Shopping}

1. Tell us your favorite stores to shop at.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of second shopping. Plato's Closet and Goodwill are my go to stores (as long as it's a good Goodwill...we're lucky that both of our local stores have really great stuff!). I don't see the point in spending a ton of money for something when I can get it for less than half the price! Plus, I'll admit, it's kind of a hobby of mine to put together cute, inexpensive outfits. I love when people compliment an outfit and I'm able to share how little I paid- it's always fun to see reactions! And honestly, you'll find the majority of outfits I wear cost me less than $20 total. I may not be the most fashionable person in the world, but I think I do pretty well at least!! If I am going to get something new, American Eagle is probably my most likely choice. I've found their jeans fit me best! I love Gap and Ann Taylor Loft as well, though I hate the prices! And of course, who doesn't love Target!?
2. What are you "signature pieces" to wear.. your go-to outfits?

I have an eclectic mix in my closet, so I'm not really sure if I have any signature pieces. My most worn piece of clothing are definitely my Banana Republic Skinny Jeans (a $2 Plato's find!). I'm loving scarves right now too. Around the house it's usually a long top/dress, leggings and leg warmers.

3. Show us your style through pictures {of you or pinterest finds}.

As I said, I have a pretty eclectic style, though lately I've been living in skinny jeans and longer, flow-y tops it seems. Here are some favorites I've shared in the past!

My newest favorite top- an amazing Goodwill find!
(And these are those Banana Republic jeans I mentioned!)

An around the house look! I love bright colored accessories!

One of my favorite scarves (and those jeans again!)

A casual look, notice the pop of color? I can't do black and white without some splash of color!

Another of my favorites! This top was a Plato's find, and the belt is from Shabby Apple, and my go to belt...I LOVE it!

Lately I've been experimenting mixing pieces I might not have before...like this maxi dress with a flannel shirt and belt. I'm still not convinced it was an awesome look, but what do you think?

4. Show us your favorite celebrity style icons.

Nicole Richie. I just love her, and she always looks so cute! In my dreams I would look like her, seriously!

5. If you had to spend money on clothes or home items, which would you choose?

Oh, that's a tough one! In the past, it would have been more home...specifically things for my kitchen! But now, my kitchen is so full I don't have room for any new kitchen goodies...I barely have room for the ones I have! Right now, I'd say it would be equal between the two. There are a ton of things I'd love for my house (like new furniture!), and several things I'd love as far as clothing goes as well.

6. Show us your favorite accessories.

Well, I shared my favorite belt above, that definitely makes the list. As I said before, I LOVE scarves. And bold colored jewelry. I won't yet share my two newest favorites (but I will say they are from Stella and Dot, gorgeous and part of my holiday gift guide!), but here are a few of my other favorites!

Crocheted scarf. This is so fun and unique, I love it! I love brooches too...am I the only one?

This bright green necklace is definitely one of my more fun pieces. Though I loved it personally when I bought it, I was afraid others would think it was too much but I've gotten a lot of compliments on it as well!

This lovely necklace from Cap Creations is fun too! I also have it in pink!

Shabby Apple Scarf...one of my very favorite scarves!

Lilla Rose Flexi Clips- I don't know how I ever lived without these! So easy for those days I don't feel like doing something with my hair...and it looks cute too!

7. Tell us in one sentence your philosophy behind shopping. {What makes you buy an item}

That's going to take more than once sentence! Though it may seem otherwise from this post (ha!), I don't like spending money! I consider every single purchase in depth before purchasing. I consider the price- if it's not a good deal, I'm probably not going to get it. I consider where else the money I am spending on this could be used for- is there anything we need before I buy? I consider if I really need this item. I've gotten better recently about letting myself buy something even if it's not a NEED, but I still don't buy things I want nearly as often as I could. And finally I consider how much I love something- if I pass it up because I don't need it, will I regret it later? I've missed out on a lot of great buys by second guessing myself!! I'm weird, I know!!