ALL the Back-to-School Deals in ONE PLACE!

This isn’t my first blog about the best place to buy school supplies, and I’m sure it won’t be the last! But we’re smack dab in the middle of all of these amazing back-to-school deals and I’ve gone through the top store’s weekly ads and found you ALL the bargains! I literally geek out over school supplies, so please excuse me! Not to mention, I’m a list maker and I go through tons and tons of paper so when I can get a notebook for $.17, you KNOW I’m going to jump all over it.

Target – Weekly Ad

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This week at Target, if you spend $30 or more on school supplies, you’ll get a $5 Target gift card. And if you spend $50 or more on school supplies, you can get a pretty cool $10 Target gift card. Text SCHOOL5 for the $5 gift card coupon or SCHOOL10 for the $10 gift card coupon.

WALMART – Weekly Ad

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I’m going to be honest with you, Walmart is my favorite place to buy the back-to-school basics because they probably have the best deals! I mean, you can get a binder, some binder dividers, a notebook, and a folder for UNDER $3! I use binders and notebooks and folders all the time and I’m almost 30!.. Well, I mean I’m almost 28, allow me to not get carried away!

STAPLES – Weekly Ad

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Office Depot – Weekly Ad

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Office Depot is doing something kinda cool. As long as you spend a minimum of $5, you can get packs of loose sleeved paper for $.01. You cannot beat that!

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You can get TONS of school supplies when there are such great deals out there, but not all kids are quite as lucky. My friend Nick, founder of the non-profit Make Caring Cool, has started a back-to-school initiative where he’s trying to collect enough supplies for all the kids in two schools in the Norfolk, VA area! A lot of the children in these two schools come from low income homes and dont have the tools they need to succeed everyday at school. I’ve attached a direct link to the donation page below where any amount of money you can donate will go to good use and be very helpful to get these kids the supplies they need, but if you’d like to take a look around at Make Caring Cool’s page, you can click right here. You won’t be disappointed. There’s lots of amazing things going on over there!

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Donate to Make Caring Cool’s Back-to-School initiative here!

 

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Cheapest Way to Update a Room

The first time I ever painted a room was when I surprised my mom with a home office a few years ago. You may remember that I blogged about it. If not, check it out here. I swore, after painting that entire room TWICE all by myself, that I’d never paint again. I HATE painting. I’ve already painted our guest room and I knew I’d only need one coat so it wasn’t THAT bad. But when I finally made the decision to paint our dining room, I knew it was going to be a problem.

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Here’s a picture of our dining room right after we moved in. The color was nice but it made the room feel so dark and small. Sam actually liked this color and it truly wasn’t a bad color but I wanted my dining room to be light and airy. So after sampling about 6 or 7 different colors, we finally picked one! We landed on French Beige by Behr.

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I painted the whole damn room by myself. And you know that rickety, old ladder I was talking about in my last post about our office bookshelves? The one I refused to get on? Well guess whose big ass was up on it risking her life to paint around the ceiling. ME! But it came out so nice! We had to spring for the more expensive Behr Premium Ultra Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Extreme paint but it was worth it because I painted the whole dining room with ONE coat and ONE can of paint! Would definitely recommend the Behr Premium Plus Ultra for any tough paint jobs.

The next thing we needed to do was get rid of our small counter height table for two and get a dining room table that would sit more than just Sam and I. I went on Target.com to order a mirror and ended up buying a dining table and chairs. Isn’t that always the way?! But this table and chairs is amazing and I’m so pleased with our purchase.

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Moral of the story is that you can really make a room feel so much bigger, nicer, rejuvenated, etc. with a can of paint and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg! Unless you’re using an old, unstable ladder. Then it might cost you your life! -haha!

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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram! 

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Office: Project Bookshelves!

I have to start by saying, my favorite room in our old apartment was the office! I was able to get things done and it was just a cozy and pleasant place to be. At the end of the day, I could go in there with a glass of wine and to relieve some stress I’d check some emails, browse Pinterest, or catch up on an episode of Kardashians that I may have missed. Don’t judge me! -haha!

When we moved into our new house we knew that the small room in the front of the house was going to be the office. We got a couple desks and set up our computers and monitors and video game consoles and calendars. It was a nice amount of space for an office but it was soooo boring and empty. I knew that I needed some bookshelves because for some reason I feel so much better when I’ve got my books around me (nerdy, I know). But here’s a picture of the office before our bookshelves.

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You see what I mean? It’s almost embarrassing to show. So it was no wonder why I didn’t want to spend much time in there.

Long story short, I wanted to put up some kind of industrial, rustic style bookshelves. At first I was going to put up shelves like this:

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Which look gorgeous but after I found out the price of the galvanized piping, I had to check myself. Not only the price but all the time it would take to screw in all those flanges. So once I found these shelves, I literally jumped for joy!

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I was casually surfing Pinterest, with or without a glass of wine, I forget, but that’s besides the purpose. I came across this blog post over at 7th House on the Left and shed a tear because THIS is exactly what I was looking for without even knowing what I was looking for!

Basically followed the exact same instructions but got longer planks of wood and some different stain.

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I especially loved that she spray painted the pipes in a matte black. I think it really makes everything look so much better! And by the way, you should have seen me sanding these boards outside in like 98 degree heat, COVERED in that sandy wood crap. Ugh!

So after I was done staining and spray painting, I basically just turned it over to Sam to finish the project. We have a really old, really flimsy latter in the basement that I refuse to climb, so it just goes to show how wonderful my husband is that he’s willing to risk his life to put up some shelves for little, old me!

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He’ll kill me once he sees that I posted a picture of him on here, but he’s such a cutie!

Anyways, the outcome of the whole project was insane! Way better than I thought it was going to be.

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Overall, I spent about $250-$270 for all of the materials, which isn’t bad at all. I also have some left over wood boards and stain so I’m thinking about adding some of those to our dining room!

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New Home, New Home Improvement Projects!

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My husband Sam and I just purchased our very first home in Easton, PA! It’s an adorable 100+ year old, 3 bedroom house with an office and a really cute view of the city of Easton. We’ve been here for about two months now and we’re finally starting to make it our own. I think we’re moving a little fast on some of the projects, or at least my bank account is telling me to slow down, but we’re moving ahead full force! It’s so much fun to take a room, or a house for that matter, that feels like someone else’s and make it into a place that feels 100% and completely your own. It’s empowering and scary and expensive, all mixed together!

There wasn’t too much that NEEDED to be done in the house so our projects have been fairly small. But if you consider how un-handy both my husband and I actually are, it might as well have been extremely gigantic tasks. I thought since I haven’t blogged in FOREVER, that I’d start sharing some of the projects and where we got the inspiration and the costs and what not.

The best part about owning a home is just that. OWNING your own home. Also, my puggle Melo really enjoys the backyard. When we were living in our one bedroom apartment, Melo would take his bones and try to burying them in the corners of the couch cushions and we used to be so sad. Thinking that he probably wishes he had a backyard to bury his bones in. Luckily, he’s out in the backyard everyday digging up and burying his bones and it makes us so happy! He also enjoys some #frontporchchilling with us too🙂

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Follow me on instagram for a sneak peak of some of the projects!

7 Things to Do When You’re Snowed In!

I was bamboozled by all of this hype of this historical blizzard we were supposed to get. I was actually a little nervous about the 18-24 inches that they were calling for, but here in Brick, NJ we probably got like 8 inches or so. But being snowed in can be so fun!

Here’s a glimpse into a few things that Sam and I did during our snow day!

1. Have some delicious coffee/tea/hot chocolate

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Sam is a coffee drinker and I’ve never really liked the stuff. I’m definitely a tea kinda gal, but usually I don’t drink any caffeine in the morning which would explain why I’m so tired and/or lazy ALL THE TIME! Have some nice conversations and relax because you’re not going anywhere!

2. Work on a project that you’ve been neglecting! 

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I’ve been working on this gigantic, ugly crochet blanket for like 4 months now and I think I’m on my last roll of yarn that I’ll need to complete it and I’m super excited. It’s just been taking up space on my couch and I really need to just get done with it already!

3. Read a book/Catch up on your magazine subscriptions/Journal your snowed in experience!

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I’m in the process of rereading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the 30th time probably and also I just started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up which is sincerely blowing my mind and I plan on writing a review on it as soon as I’m done! Also, I journaled about my all-time favorite snow day today. It included me and Sam sneaking out of a bedroom window to play in the snow!

4. Make a snow day playlist!

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Or listen to one that Spotify has already created for you here! I decided to dig out my old, dinosaur of an iPod. I put it on shuffle and let it do it’s thang!

5. Have a drink… or two!

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Crack open a couple beers or uncork that bottle of wine and chill out! Today is your day to unwind a little bit and chill out, so do it!

6. FaceTime with friends that are also snowed in.

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We FaceTimed with family in Boston who are also snowed in. They were making some delicious looking food while we chatted and I felt like I was in an episode of Barefoot Contessa! (As a sidetone, if you want to mix a little bit of #5 and #6 on this list, go ahead!)

7. And when all else fails – GO PLAY IN THE SNOW!

I don’t have any pictures for this one but last night I put on a couple layers, wrapped my Uggs with grocery bags and spent a few minutes on my balcony and that was enough for me. It was actually beautiful and it made me feel so alive! Standing out in the quiet, thick winter air makes you realize how grateful you are for a lot of different things (the winter air also smells cleaner and fresher, am I right?).

I was snapping pics all day today and last night too! By the end of today I noticed that Sam was walking around the apartment making fun of me!

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I don’t blame him. I’m sure it was super annoying telling him to freeze so I can try and capture the moment – LOL!

Anyways, I hope that everyone had a great day and that you’re all safe!

Happy At-Least-It’s-Not-Monday Day!

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Blue Apron Review + Special Discount!

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It’s no secret that I’m a below average cook. I’m not sure why either! I come from a family of amazing women that can cook their asses off. I even married into a family of women that can cook really well so I’m not sure where I went wrong. You’re probably thinking, “why do you care if you can cook or not? You have awesome cooks in your family, just let them do all the cooking.” Well, the truth is that I do care and I don’t know why. I’m a pretty creative person outside of the kitchen and I just figured that if I learned a thing or two or tried new things maybe something will click and I’ll turn into this Julia Child’esque chef and never depend on anyone else to make me a delicious meal!

So, with all of that being said, I signed up for Blue Ribbon Apron. I’m not sure why I want to keep calling it Blue Ribbon, but I do. Anyways, it’s called Blue Apron and if you don’t know what it is you can check out their website here. But to make a long story short, they ship you everything you need to make a great meal. They have two different plans. One plan is for two people meals and the other is for four people meals. The cool thing about it also, is that you can skip weeks if you’d like. I don’t want them mailing me stuff every single week so I skip every other week. We get three meals a week, twice a month. Sam and I eat really boring things. I only know how to make a handful of things so as long as Blue Apron doesn’t send us sloppy joes, Old El Paso tacos, chicken pot pie, or DiGiornos pizza, then I’m fairly confident that we’ll be making things that we’ve never tried before. I always see recipes online that I’d like to try but then get discouraged when I see things like sage, turnips, gochujang, gai lan, etc. I don’t even know what those ingredients look like, let alone where the hell I’d find them if I wanted to attempt to make these crazy dinners. So Blue Apron sends you all of that stuff and I don’t have to go to the grocery store and make an ass out of myself looking for them!

My first Blue Apron delivery came this week and this is what I got:

Korean-Style Tteok – w/ spicy pork “ragu” & gai lan

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Chicken Charlemagne – w/ roasted root vegetables & parsnip-potato mash

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Banana Leaf-Steamed Cod – w/ spiced rice, yu choy & coconut

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They suggest that if you receive any kind of fish in your package that you make that first, as it’s the first that will go bad if you keep it for awhile, so we made it on Tuesday. It was actually really good, really easy to make, and definitely something I would have never made if it weren’t for Blue Apron being so convenient. I’m not even much of a fish person and I liked it a lot. Last night I made the chicken charlemagne and I was quite impressed with myself because I’m usually awful at making chicken but it came out really tasty! And the potatoes AND parsnip mashed potatoes? Like, WHAT? Does everyone know about this? PARSNIP in the MASHED POTATOES? Because it was amazing and quite frankly blew my mind.

 So, let’s break it all down. Sam and I have a grocery/food budget of about $300-$350 a month. That includes all of our take-out money and going out to eat money. We only go out to eat or order take out when we want something that neither of us can cook so Blue Apron sends us stuff that we don’t know how to make and teaches us how to make it for only $120/month. Which I think is a fantastic deal and based on the dishes that I’ve made, I’d definitely say it’s worth it so if you were on the fence about giving Blue Apron a shot, my recommendation would be to GO FOR IT!

My first 50 readers get two free meals with their first Blue Apron Box – redeem here.

Happy Thursday/Almost Friday Day!

Travel Fund

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that Sam and I went to Boston for the weekend to visit some family. We had so much fun, even though it felt like it was below zero outside! But we survived and ended up eating and drinking our way through Boston.

Yes, that is our mess. We are pigs!

Yes, that is our mess. We are pigs!

I haven’t shared it on my blog yet, but my father passed away in early November of last year. He was pretty young and I think about him constantly! Anytime Sam and I are planning on going somewhere or doing something I think to myself, “Hmm, I wonder if my dad ever had the chance to do this, or go to this place.” Not sure if that is normal or not but whatever. I made my new years resolution to experience more things and go to more places.

On our 4 hour drive up to Boston, Sam and I decided that every year we want to travel to at least 2-3 places we’ve never been before. Doesn’t have to be to some extravagant place and doesn’t even have to be super far from where we live. Maybe just for a weekend trip or a few days longer, but just somewhere that neither of us have been before. I’m pretty excited to start coming up with ideas of places to go, but thinking about how much money it’s going to take makes me a little nervous. We save a lot of money each month and some of the money we save goes into our “travel fund” so that should help cover our trips throughout the year but I’ve also started doing the 52 week money challenge in order to save money that we can use as spending cash while we’re on one of our adventures. I don’t think people understand how easy it is to save with that damn challenge. I love it!

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Where have you traveled to? Your favorite vacation destination? Favorite weekend getaway location? Give me ideas!

Happy hump day!

Three of My Most Popular Budgeting & Savings Posts!

On Thursday I finally reached 100,000 views on my blog! I was kinda freaking out a little bit! Feels pretty crazy knowing that over 100,000 people have come to my blog at some point for some reason. So thank you to everyone for checking it out!

Anyways, in the past three weeks my views have spiked because at the beginning of every year everyone wants to get their budget in order, along with other things like lose weight, adopt a healthier lifestyle, out with the old and in with the new, and all that good stuff. A few of my budgeting and savings posts from 2013 and 2014 were getting a lot of attention because they’re super easy to use so I thought I’d link you to them in one post so that you can easily find them.

1. Monthly Budget Spreadsheet! – Before you can determine how much money you can and should be saving a month you need to figure out your monthly budget! I promise it’s not as painful as it sounds and doesn’t take too long to put it all together. But honestly, it’s a necessity!

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2. Yearly Budget Spreadsheet! – Once you get your monthly budget together the yearly budget spreadsheet is just a place to keep you on track all throughout the year. It’s also fun to see how much money you’ve saved at the end of the year!

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3. The Revised 52 Week Money Challenge! – It’s not your average 52 week money challenge. Believe it or not it’s actually a little more challenging. See which of the three challenges tickles your fancy!

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All of the links to download the spreadsheets and the 52 week challenges are in each of the posts. I hope they help you and happy saving!

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New Years Project!

I’ve been waiting for the perfect table to come along that I can paint and refinish and I FOUND ITTTTT!

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This is the picture from the craigslist ad and as soon as I saw it and noticed that they were selling for $50, I had to pick it up quickly! The guy that was selling it took the legs off and helped get it in my car because it’s a pretty heavy piece of furniture, so thanks to him!

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As soon as I got home I laid down my plastic and took off all the hardware and just sanded all of the pieces a little bit but knew that I was going to use a primer so I didn’t go crazy.

I was thinking about leaving it white but felt like it would look way too fancy and the room that I wanted to put it in desperately needed a pop of color so I chose to paint it Hawaiian Teal!

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I also left the bottom of all the legs unpainted which I’m currently loving the look of! I took off the hideous, gigantic knobs that were on the cabinet and exchanged them for some glass hardware and they look perfect!

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I also distressed the whole thing and I love it! I really wanted a cabinet just like this but was not willing to pay like $300+ for it. Luckily, at the end of the day this whole table cost less than $100!

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Happy New Year, everyone!

Creating a Home Office/Guest Room!

Well, hello there!

This past weekend I was in Pittsburgh for my little sister’s senior homecoming😦

I can't believe how big she is now!

I can’t believe how big she is now!

Anyways, my mom works from home 95% of the time and every time I come home I have to be quiet during the day and keep the TV turned down because she uses the dining room as her office. I couldn’t stand how inconvenient it was, not only for her, but for me as well. I knew that she was going out of town the first week of November and I was planning on sneaking into town and turning my sister’s old room into a home office/guest bedroom for her. I got to thinking about it and wasn’t sure if she’d actually utilize it or not, so I figured I would ask first – haha.

This is how the conversation went:

MeMom, do you think if I painted Nicole’s old room and turned it into a home office you’d use it?

Mom – *eyes open really wide**chin drops to chest* Are you kidding? Of course I would! Do you wanna do it this weekend?

MeWell I don’t know about this weekend. I might be a little busy getting Nicole ready and doing her make up and stuff.

MomOh, painting won’t take that long, you could probably get it all done this weekend!

MeOk, I’ve never painted a room before but I’m sure it’s no big deal. Let’s do it!

And the rest is history! My mom gave me a $500 budget. I went to Lowes and spent $70 and got some white paint and some supplies and had to paint over dark blue walls that had purple stars painted around the window and the closet! (I really wish I would have taken a before picture! The room was horrendous!) I thought painting would be fun but it turned into the worst day of my life (ok, I’m being dramatic, but holy shit!). So after two days, three coats of paint, and plenty of cursing, I finished the paint job! It was rewarding to basically do most of it myself, with little help from my sister Rachel and absolutely no help from my youngest sister Nicole. I knew after I painted the room, the fun part would begin!

So on Sunday morning I went to Ikea and got a desk, a desk chair, a bookcase along with some drawers for the bookcase, a lamp, and a cart with wheels! In all, I spent $280 at Ikea. When I got home my sisters and I put everything together which was actually kinda fun. Once we set everything up where we thought it should go we knew it was missing some stuff, so we made a trip to Walmart. At Walmart we got new curtains, new comforter, some throw pillows, a dry erase board, small cork board, and some decorations for the walls. At Walmart we spent about $108.

The next day I went to Target because I felt we were still missing some cool knick knacks and a desk lamp. Little did I know, I was about to have the greatest Target trip of my life!

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The cute blue stool thing had a clearance tag on it that said $24.98. The laser cut metal mirror had a clearance tag for $14.98. The small trash can was on sale for $12.78. And the Threshold white lamp had a clearance tag of $17 something. I get up to the register and the girl informs me that everything on clearance was even lower than the tag price. I THOUGHT MY FREAKING HEAD WAS GOING TO EXPLODE! I told her I might need to call my mom and have her pick me up because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to drive home – HAHA! My total for all of the things above was originally $50 and some change but with a mobile coupon for $5 off home purchases, I paid $45. Felt pretty good!

So, if you’ve been keeping track of the totals from all my purchases, you’d see I only came in $3 over the budget for this room! Pretty spectacular if you ask me!

The end result was pretty awesome for one weekend of hard work! So without further ado, here’s the new home office!

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My mom loved it and I couldn’t be happier because she deserves it and so much more! I heard her the next day talking to people on the phone and telling them how she was working in her new home office that her daughters put together for her and how it was the nicest thing anyone has done for her in a long time. It feels great to make someone’s day!

It’s almost Hump Day! Happy Tuesday, everyone!