Retail Therapy: Books Worth Buying

I used to read a lot.

Like all summer when I was in junior high and high school.

And then life happened, I went to college, then got a big-girl job and got really busy.

Well recently I have really missed the relaxation and brain stimulation that only reading brings.

(aka I think Real Housewives of Atlanta is killing my brain cells and I need to remedy that ASAP)

So I have been putting my brain to work with few new books.

Here is what I have been reading.

The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life

This is the best book on marriage that I have ever read. And it’s not full of great theological musings (although Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage is great too). It’s just the real story of two people living under one roof, committed for life. You will laugh a lot and cry a little. Melanie Shankle is to me is what I think Erma Bombeck was to my mom.

I am considering gifting it to new brides from now on. Every woman needs to read it. It’s really that good.

(And if you want a real treat -listen to the audio version, I can’t get enough of the author’s Texas accent as she reads)

Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl

My mom gave my sisters and I this book for Christmas.

I read the whole thing in one sitting. I love true stories. And I love reading about the Amish which made this book perfect for me.

It’s unique in that it’s not written about a successful Amish family with lots of land and crops, but its about a simple family struggling to survive during the Great Depression.

I thoroughly enjoyed it (as did my sister-in-law Holly). It would be a great book for the pool this summer.

Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved

My mom also passed this book on to me a few weeks ago.

And while I was home sick from church with pink eye a few Sunday’s ago I read the whole thing.

There were two things I liked about it.

#1. It’s a missionary biography which I have always loved reading

#2.The trial and suffering this lady went through as a child and young adult is amazing. It’s very open and honest.

If you like biographies and need an inspirational book it’s for you!


All of these books are in the $10 range and most have Kindle versions for even more savings.

I hope you have a happy Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

We will be celebrating it at church and with family.

Have a great weekend!

Chic Unique Gift Guide for 2013- under $50 plus two gifts with charities in mind

Present Collage 2013

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

1. I actually saw this jewelry stand in the store and almost bought in on the spot for myself. I think it would also be great to use as displays for food at parties etc. It is BEAUTIFUL!

2.  I have blogged about Old Money Corp jewelry before, but because I am still in love with their products I am featuring them again. I just can’t get enough!

 3. I am always a fan of monogrammed bags as gifts, but these stylized burlap bags personalized with last names are so chic. If you are staying in someone else’s home for the holidays, I think this is the perfect host gift for the family.

4. My niece may or may not be getting several Melissa and Doug puzzles for Christmas this year. This dress-up bear family puzzle is like sturdy paper dolls:)

5. I mean I can’t imagine how many more peas your kids would eat if their fork was designed like a bulldozer!

6. Like I said, I am a sucker for monogrammed gifts. And 24 oz Tervis tumblers perfectly hold ice and one can of my current drink of choice, grapefruit sparkling water with one sweet ‘n low. :) I think these would make perfect teacher/friend gifts.

7. This guitar pick punch is a fun gift for music lovers. You can turn any old credit cards or membership cards into a pick.

8.  My husband spotted these belts at Mast General Store a few weeks ago. He really liked them. We aren’t cool people, but I thought they seemed pretty cool. :) He is probably going to get one in his stocking.

9. (not pictured) Olganna shop has tons of beautiful things. I have ordered from her in the past and am never disappointed.

Two additional ideas:

10. A few years ago my extended family gave eachother a card for Christmas. In each card was a note stating that money was given to a charity in their name. I love that idea because we really don’t need anything. And it was neat to see all the different charities that were given too.

11. If you do like the idea of giving to a charity as a gift, purchasing gifts/gift cards to charity businesses is a great idea as well. And this does not only include thrift stores.

There are lots of new businesses trying to make a positive difference by employing people and giving them hope.


Dewdrop Necklace

Noonday supports entrepreneurship internationally and by doing so helps alleviate poverty in especially poor nations, and their products are gorgeous!


The Open Arms Shop employs refugee women in America a living wage (the baseline hourly income necessary for food and shelter [including housing and incidentals such as clothing and other basic needs]) which typically runs $3-$7 above the federal minimum wage.

And to top it off, all the fabric used in their products is recycled or donated.

Napkins Fall Chevron

Retail Therapy: A Week of Ikea, Lamps for $30 and My Search for a Shade

First of all, I would like to say that I always thought Ikea was for European people who lived in cool lofts apartments, had no children and skied in the Alps for Christmas holiday.

While I am sure that is partially true, I have discovered over the past few years that Ikea is for everyone.

Cool loft or not. Ikea is for the masses, sorta like Walmart but way cooler. :) 

PS. I am a Target girl, myself.

They carry a huge array of basic home decor and staples for setting up house.

And while your house may look like you live in a minimalist Swedish home if you decorate entirely with Ikea goods….

like most home decor stores, a few items will not turn you into a yuppy person who skis in the Alps at Christmas.

Moving on, I blogged about my Ikea trip with my sisters and aunt a few weeks ago.

I just planned to get curtains (which I will blog about soon), but I went a little overboard once I got here.

I swear that place sucks you in.

And you think “Well I am stuck in here anyway, I might as well fill my cart.”

Anyway, I picked up two lamps while I was there.

I was unsure of the quality, but they were so inexpensive I thought it could not hurt.

A work lamp for my husband’s desk.

(Beware, buy the specialty bulbs that go with the lamp. I had to order them off Amazon once I got home and realized the lamp didn’t take a standard bulb)

BAROMETER Work lamp, nickel plated $29.99
Work lamp, nickel plated $29.99

and a floor lamp.

EKARP Floor lamp base, nickel plated, $30
Floor lamp base, nickel plated, $30

Well I have been living with them for a month now and I can’t tell you how much I love them.

Both are a great weight, and are a very high quality. I can’t speak for all Ikea lamps, but these two are winners.

I didn’t care for the floor lamp shades that Ikea had to offer so I perused my local World Market(one of my go to places for great quality inexpensive lamp shades) and spotted this dealio (sorry that it my best attempt at slang).

And I liked the natural cork shade in contrast to the modern lamp.

cork lamp

It was just the right size and had the right internal mechanisms to fit with the Ikea EKARP Floor lamp base. Score at 75% off.


Ikea 003

The floor lamp provides extra light that was needed in one corner of our living room. I could not be happier with it.

Do you have a favorite lamp?

Retail Therapy for Friday: Like Twice Consignment

I have a new-to-me company to share with you all today.

It is basically an online “consignment” store.


One of the reasons I love it so much is that it saves me time driving all over town perusing local shops trying to find good deals.


Click here to go directly to the site TWICE.

They buy and sell gently used name brand clothing for women.

The prices are so reasonable, and they offer free shipping for returns.

There is a coupon code for 15% off your whole order available right now. CASHITIN15

Go by and check them out. It’s a great way to stock up on off-season deals.

And if you have great clothes to get rid off, why not sell them off with this great company. They offer free packaging and free shipping to consignees, and they pay you 25% more if you agree to a store credit rather than cash. What a deal!

Now request a a bag, check their approved brand list, (I already did), and then go clean out your closet!  :)

Happy Friday!

Monday Randomness for Tuesday: Trip to MI and a New Cook Book Giveaway

Well we got back Saturday night from our trip to MI to visit my husband’s family.

We had a great time.

And it was my first long trip with my stepsons.

After the first four hours in the first of our  two 14 hour car rides, I started making mental notes of funny things that were said in the car.

“Jacob, don’t put your foot in your brother’s ear.”

“Don’t mash my bladder.”

“Did the roof bag just fall off the top of the car?”

“Only 7 more hours to go.” (insert sarcastic tone)

The list could go on and on.

We laughed  a lot.

Anyway, this was my first grown up trip to Michigan so I did lots of firsts.

A few of my favorites were the Meijer Gardens, a boat cruise on Lake Michigan (which I swear looks like the ocean!), and lots of shopping of course.

I picked up a new cookbook in Holland, MI called Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes.


It’s my new favorite. I have already made two recipes from it, and I am loving it.

No weird canned soups or processed ingredients.

Just simple slow cooker recipes using mostly whole ingredients.

I purchased the book “for two,” but her other cookbooks look great too.

I love the one “for two” because the recipes are in small quantities unlike most crock pot recipes.

And I love it so much I am going to give one away this week.

But first let me bore you with some vacation pictures.


Someone was kind enough to give us free tickets to the Creation Museum in Hebron, Kentucky (right outside Cincinnati) so on our way to MI we stopped for about 4 hours to visit the museum.

Honestly, I was blown away. One of the nicest museums I have been too in a long time.

And we all agreed that Noah in the Ark exhibit looked a lot like Phil from Duck Dynasty.

If you ever have the chance you need to go visit it.

Well worth the time and money.

If you are interested, here is the website link.

Then we finished the last 7 hours on the road and spent the next 8 days with family.

Kalamazoo River/Lake Michigan boat cruise
River meet Lake
Oval Beach, Lake Michigan
We did a little pond fishing in the country
Transparent Apples (an old Danish variety)
Meijer Gardens
Cocoa Tree (no it’s not lemons, I asked :)

As we strolled through the desert plant exhibit, the kids spotted meercat sculptures and said, “Hey look it’s Poppi.”

The resemblance is uncanny:)

Meercat Chihuahua

Fly Fishing in the Muskegon River

Okay, on to the giveaway.

I will giveaway one cookbook from the Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker series on Thursday.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below or on my blog facebook page. 

I will randomly select one winner on Thursday morning and the winner can select the cookbook of their choice.

One entry per day.

You can enter until Wednesday July 24th at 8 pm.

Your email address will be kept private. No spam. I promise.


An Oldie but a Goodie- Hand Towel Gift Wrap

We are still on the road this week, but I thought I would re-post this simple gift wrapping project I used for the hostess gifts for my wedding showers.

Originally posted here.

Here is the breakdown for each person’s gift:

$13 – Personalized stationery from Naomi Lynn (I highly recommend her).

$6 – Jane Packer’s Guide to Flower Arranging (This book retails for $30 but I found it on sale)

$1.97 – Hammam Stripe Hand Towel from West Elm (These towels sell for $10 online but I found them on sale at the outlet)

As a gift Naomi sent me an extra set of cards for myself. How sweet:)
Towel “Gift Wrap”

Tada! Now I just need to create a cute tag for each gift.
A tip: To make the overall gift package look great, make all the gift components have something in common.
For this gift, I made sure that all the colors were in the same family and intensity.

Gift Wrapping

Have you ever used any usual products to wrap a gift?

Retail Therapy: Anthropologie Candle Sconces And a Craigslist Find

Hello from the road (from somewhere in Ohio, I think).

Just a quick post today on my latest deals.

I have had my eye on these sconces from Anthropologie for some time.

I first spotted them in the store and then have been stalking them online ever since.

They are actually old clay roof tiles turned sconces. Super cute and unique.


I wanted to purchase two of them (for our manly basement overhaul I will be working on later this summer), but was unwilling to part with $60 in-order to have a pair of my own.

Randomly last week I received an email from Anthro with an additional 20% off coupon for sales items.

I quickly went to the site just hoping that my sconces were finally on sale.

They were and I scored them at 60% off!

Tapered Sconce

And it pays to be patient (or so I am learning:).

Speaking of being patient, I have been on the lookout for a leather sofa for sometime.

Like 9 months.

I needed another sofa for my man cave basement overhaul, and my husband had requested a leather sofa.

Well in the midst of packing for another 9 day trip I spotted this gem on Craigslist.

I always pick the worst times to buy furniture (hence the wedding reception set-up Vintage TV Stand)

Anyway wham bam, my brother was kind enough to pick it up for us and days later it is now residing in our house.


Can’t wait to see this basement overhaul complete!

Product Review: Jergens New 3 day Sunless Tanner

Natural Glow 3 Days To Glow Moisturizer, $8.49

I am a firm believer in sunless tanning products, whether it’s spray tans or the do-it-yourself lotions/sprays.

Recently, I came across this new product from Jergens…I am hooked. It even worked well on my face.

They totally remade their original sunless lotion (don’t worry they fixed the smell, too).

And the new 3-day  lotion works amazingly well.

I was impressed after the first use.

So as we embark on this Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of summer go pick up a bottle. You will be glad you did!

For a great tutorial on how to apply the lotion go here.

arrows repeating square

And no, that’s not really an old proverb. One of my decorating clients told me that one time, and I thought it was hilarious.

Happy Memorial Day!


Retail Therapy for Friday: My Thrifty Finds This Week and Tips for Buying Clothes Online

I have been on the hunt for two things for the last three months.

Brown leather wedge sandals that I actually liked, were high quality and comfortable.

And a Dooney and Bourke cross body bag for all our trips this summer.

Well I hit the ebay motherload this week.

I finally scored great deals on both items in one day.

shoes purse

I already received both items in the mail this week.

The shoes were a store display and came in the original box.

They are so comfortable! Feels like I am walking on clouds (like a Philadelphia cream cheese commercial but I decided to skip wearing wings).

And the bag had a little wear, but I don’t mind at all.

Like all Dooney and Bourke bags, it’s super high quality and will be the perfect size to take on all our trips.

While I could have looked in thrift stores and consignments shops for these items I honestly don’t have the time like I used too.

So buying online is now my go-to way to purchase clothing, shoes and accessories.

And it pays to be patient.

Total Savings: $228

Tip#1: When shopping online, buy brands you know. 

Once you know your size in the certain brand it takes away the uncertainty of knowing whether the clothing will fit or not. Because buying a “no returns” item at a great deal may seem like a great idea but if it does not fit it does not fit and that means it was just money down the drain.

Tip#2: Read Customer Reviews

Old Navy is great example of this. Old Navy customers are great about leaving helpful tips about clothing items. ie “buy a size up.” I have taken advice from reviewers and been very pleased with the results. And remember, more unhappy customers leave a review about a product than happy customers do.

If you want some tips for selling on ebay to go this post.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!