Cheap Furniture Love with Awesome on 20

New Cheap Furniture

I told you about my sudden compulsion redecorate the house, and we’re focusing first on the living room and the bedroom. We still have a few pieces to buy and plenty of projects to personalize our space, but we have managed to pick up a few bits of furniture without going broke. There’s also a large pile of clutter in the corner that is conveniently covered by some new red drapes. I’m pretending it doesn’t exist for now.

Cheap Furniture Love with Awesome on 20

Buying furniture without owning a car can be a bit tricky, so for the biggest piece, our new sofa, we went to our local discount furniture place and found this small sectional on sale. It happened to be exactly what we were looking for, so we set up a delivery time, paid the inevitable fee, and waited around for it to show up at our house. You’ll have to ask my husband to tell the story about how to remove a sofa from your house that doesn’t fit through your door. Let’s just say one of my old kitchen knives is definitely useless now.

Cheap Furniture Love with Awesome on 20

I also wanted a new TV stand with some storage so I could make space in the living room for a desk. I’m completely over writing all my posts from the couch. Everything that looked perfect was a bit too expensive, so we went to a nearby hardware store and bought a simple, cheap bookcase and a couple of cloth boxes. All together, we paid about $75. Geoff can also tell you a great story about carrying that bookcase home from the hardware store.

Cheap Furniture Love with Awesome on 20

I found this jewel blue throw blanket at Ross weeks ago, and decided that I wanted to do our bedroom in blue and gray. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find gray bedding at a discount store. Eventually we managed to pick some up, and I also found some lovely silver gray drapes to lighten up the room. I’m also excited about finally having a mirror and an electrical outlet in the same room so I can actually see my hair while I’m applying hot metal to it.

Cheap Furniture Love with Awesome on 20

Other than those two pieces of furniture, we haven’t spent more than $20 on any single item so far. There may be some shelf painting in our future. There will definitely be some photograph printing. We might even attempt some art. We also need a desk and an ottoman, but it’s all coming together. We’ve gotten most all our accent pieces from Ross. The trick is to go often and visit different stores if there’s more than one in your area. 

The rooms are already much better. It feels like a grown up space. It may not be as stylish as a more upscale house, but it suits us. And yes, there’s definitely a huge pile of laundry or a pile of shoes just out of frame on several of these shots. It’s real life, my friends. You have to work with what you’ve got.

Awesome Beauty Products Under $10

Awesome Beauty

Everybody knows it’s easier to look good when you have plenty of money. The best skin care, shampoo that makes your hair look like silk, clothes tailored precisely for your body, and anything you could ever want from the cosmetics counter at the fancy department store. If you’re extra rich, you can even pay a doctor to make you look better. It just seems so easy.

My Birchbox subscription gives me a bit of a taste of what it would be like to have rich kid stuff in my arsenal. Look out, shiny hair and radiant skin! But alas, it’s just a taste, and I live in the real world. In the real world, I never spend more than $10 on any given product.

One of the things I can’t live without is rose salve. I’ve had the same little pot for years. I use it for a bunch of different stuff, mostly as lip gloss, but also as a lip moisturizer, on burns, to remove stray eye make-up, and to soothe my red, dry nose when I have a cold. It’s indispensable.

I also love this tinted moisturizer by Aveeno. Again, a little bit goes a long way. I don’t like wearing a bunch of heavy make-up on my face, but I do absolutely positively have to have spf every day. The UV index is outrageous here. Tinted moisturizer is the perfect solution. Okay, so it’s actually $13, but I’ve had the same bottle since 2011, and it acts as a foundation and an SPF moisturizer, so it’s actually two products in one.

I also don’t feel like my face is clean unless I use a gritty scrub on it every other day. Aestheticians are probably having a heart attack right now.  Those microbead products are supposed to be better for your skin, but those little beads are actually made of plastic which end up in the ocean. I stick with good old fashioned apricot scrub. It’s cheap and effective. And it smells good. 

I go out without make-up a lot. I just don’t try hard enough. But I don’t even feel human if I’m not wearing mascara. Loreal Voluminous is the best. I’ve tried a lot of cheap mascaras. Here’s why this one is my favorite. It makes my eyelashes look awesome, it doesn’t smudge all over my face, and it actually washes off without making all my eyelashes fall out. 

My last secret is something you can have for free. The very best way to make yourself look better is to have good posture. Standing up straight makes you look thinner. You don’t have to work out or starve yourself, you just have to lengthen your neck, straighten your back, lift your chin, and go be awesome. It works every time.

Maybe beauty comes from within, but a little help never hurt anyone. And it’s fun, and fun is awesome. Cheap ain’t bad, either.

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 

Awesome Free Apps to Get Your Life Together

Reading Under a Tree in January

We’ve made a bit of a dent in January already, and perhaps some of you have already given up on your resolutions. I know it often doesn’t take me long to realize that all that self-improvement I had envisioned was just way too much work. This year, though, we’re just getting started on improving our awesomeness. Now that the offspring has returned to her other home, our days of gluttony and free spending have finally come to an end. It’s time to get our act together.

My Fitness Pal

After the cheeserific, dessert every day, cookies coming out your ears free for all of the holiday season, we always feel like we could do a little lightening around this time of year. We’re using My Fitness Pal to track our calories. This app allows you to keep track of what you eat, as well as the calories you burn by exercising. My favorite thing is that it has a feature that allows you to scan the barcodes on foods to find them in the database. So easy.

Charity Miles

My husband uses Map My Run to track his running progress. I only run if I’m being chased by a bear, but I do sometimes use Charity Miles while walking. This app uses your GPS to track your run, walk, or bike ride and then donates money to the charity of your choice for every mile. Pretty sweet.

And of course, I have to have YouTube to help me stay in shape. I just recently discovered the feature that allows me to search for a video on my phone, then play it on my TV by sending it over wifi to the YouTube app on my PlayStation. It’s pretty nifty.


Another one of my goals for this year is to improve my blog, which means I need to keep myself extra organized. I mostly prefer good old paper for making to do lists, but I like using Evernote to keep some of my lists, including my grocery list, right on my phone so I’ll always have it. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what this app can do. It’s a great little tool.

Happy Hour Pal

And of course, after all that hard work and dieting, you’re probably going to need to unwind every once in a while. I use Happy Hour Pal to help me find drink and food specials at local bars and restaurants. It’s Aloha Friday, and you know that means it’s time for a little party. But since I’m striving to not break my $20 a day rule, I need to know where I can get a drink on the cheap. 

People often bemoan the change our culture has undergone since the invention of mobile devices, and I can’t say I entirely disagree. On the other hand, they can be extremely useful tools to help us stay on track and make it through the day. I don’t know how I survived without my Android, even if it is second hand. 

I’d love to hear about the cheap or free ways you’re getting your act together for 2014. Lord knows I need all the help I can get.

Awesome Gifts for Kitchen Nerds for Under $20

kitchen gifts

I love Christmas, but I am terrible at gift giving, especially when people aren’t in to books. It’s hard for me to comprehend how that’s even possible. I thought I might slip a few hints to other gift challenged people out there. If you have a hard core kitchen nerd in your life, this stuff is pretty awesome.

Buy your aspiring chef some luxury ingredients. If money is tight, they’re probably not going to be able to afford to splurge on high quality ingredients for themselves on a regular basis. Some vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks are a great option for the poor baker in your life. Chances are, they’ll probably let you taste their creation, so it’s like you get a gift back in the end. Imported, hard to find ingredients like golden syrup are a great option as well.

You can never go wrong with cute kitchen tools like these colorful silicone spatulas, a donut pan, or this rad tornado whisk. They’ll flip out. Trust me. And of course, there’s the totally indispensable but rarely used kitchen scale. It will change your world. I promise.

And let’s not forget the world of the ridiculously sublime. Any true kitchen nerd would love to have these whimsical pieces in their kitchen. There’s something practical and lovely like this aqua rectangular baking pan, or something fantastically silly like a dinosaur tea towel or elephant salt and pepper shakers. Come on, you know somebody who needs this in their life.

I know any of these gifts would be a huge hit under my tree, and their all totally doable. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to let somebody know you care. Mostly, people just want to know you’re really thinking about them. Choosing something that suits their unique personality is always flattering. Amazing gifts for under $20? That’s my kind of Christmas.

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 

Thrifty Halloween Costumes: Margo and Richie Tenenbaum

I am not that into dressing up for Halloween, but my husband seems to love it. I guess costume parties are a regular thing in England, even though Halloween doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. But the spectacle of Halloween in Waikiki is something not to be missed. We also got free tickets to a benefit party for the Make a Wish Foundation. It’s called Crazy, Sexy Ghoul, and it was definitely crazy. We went as Margo and Richie Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums. A few people even managed to figure it out.

Margo and RichieTenenbaum

So I had no choice. I had to have a costume this year. Luckily, we were a bit more prepared than last year when we ended up at Floradec the day of our party, spending a fortune on premade costumes. This year, we had a much better strategy.

Step 1: Decide ahead of time what you want to dress as, rather than waiting until that morning. Duh!

Step 2: Choose a character that’s basically an actual human, real or fictional. This will make it much easier to find costume elements than if you wanted to go as, say, a unicorn or Iron Man.

Step 3: Hit the thrift stores, and give yourself plenty of time to look around.

Step 4: Be flexible on the details. Everything doesn’t have to be 100% perfect. Especially if you choose something from an obscure indie film that almost nobody has seen. If you can’t find a “fur” coat in Hawaii, just make sure you’re wearing plenty of eye liner. Everything will be fine.

Richie Tenenbaum costume

For Geoff’s costume, he wore his own khaki pants and trainers, his Blackburn Rovers shirt, an $8 tan blazer from Goodwill, and a $3 headband he ordered from Ebay. Oh, and he’s been growing his beard for weeks.

For my costume, I managed to find some size 8 loafers at Savers for $9, a blue Ralph Lauren polo dress at Goodwill for $3 (it was half off red tag day), and a cheap blond bob wig for $8, also at Savers.

Margo Tenenbaum costume


My favorite detail is the 39¢ piece of brown felt I bought at the craft store and then turned into a “wooden finger.” I cut a rectangle long enough to go around my finger with a skinny tab on the top to fold over. Then I whip stitched it along the long seam, then used masking tape to hold it in place. It worked like a charm.

There may or may not be a fur coat on it’s way to me in the mail, thanks to Kaleigh of A Rambling Fancy. But it’s really all about the eye liner. I put on more eyeliner than I’ve ever worn in my life, and I still don’t think it was enough.

I felt a lot better about my costume this year since I put a little effort and commitment into it. It’s also totally comfortable.

I can’t wait to check out the utter mayhem and impressive creativity in Waikiki next week. I hope your Halloween is totally awesome!

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