Planning with Polyvore: Online Planning Tools

We have spent the greater portion of the last few weeks playing “drive the husband bonkers by moving every piece of furniture in a 800 sq. ft. apartment”.  If you have never played it is quite fun.   The exasperated looks, the you are crazy glances – all part of the fun.

I haven’t any pictures to share – yet.  Why? Because each room has at minimum two sizable boxes waiting for a donation run to Goodwill and the husband’s truck bed is brimming with snow.  Oh and I haven’t dug my car out of the snow and now packed ice. I had spent a great deal of time planning these changes.  I used my two favorite space planning tools:

Urban Barn’s Make Room : Icovia Room Planner

This is one of the most user-friendly, web-based floor plan tools I have ever come across.  You can use Urban Barn products in your floor plan or a set of generic furniture symbols.  The best part is that it is completely free!

I have been using polyvore forever.  My original polyvore account predates my old blog (My Texas Nest).  I have used the mood board creator to plan everything from parties, rooms, and fashion.  After Pinterest it is my go to for time wasting goodness.   Pinterest is great for collecting inspirational images but Polyvore is great for creating your own inspiration.

Which is something I have been doing the last few days.  Here are the results:

New ideas for my “everything room”…

…and bedroom.

One of the things I love about both of these online tools is that it helps me visualize, work with what I already have, and fill in any gaps –  topics I will try to expand on in a future post.


Thrift Store Tablecloth…or Curtain?

tablecloth curtain

Over the last several months I have been giving life a lot of thought and my purpose and all the things that we ponder after losing a loved one far too soon.  I realized that I was trying too hard, not being myself to “fit into” what was trendy and of the moment.   It was satisfying up to a point but then there was the next trend and I wanted it too…and then entered my quest to thrift or craigslist it.  It was becoming a vicious cycle of discontent.

I am moving toward trying to be more authentic to my own personal aesthetic and less swayed by what others are doing.  Instead of trying to recreate specific looks on a budget, I have set out on a quest to collect things that have meaning to me or that make my heart skip when I cross their path.

This little tablecloth was one of those things.  I know it is just a piece of embroidered linen and has no substantial value besides my own liking.   I unfolded it, expecting to find a stain or a hole and was surprised to find it was in perfect condition.  An image, from a book I once owned that I can’t remember the name of, popped into my head.  It frustrates me that I can’t remember the book but it was similar to this image below (courtesy the archives of Honolulu Star from way back in 1997).

I of course found this image on pinterest after a brief search for “tablecloth curtain”.  Which by-the-by tablecloths are an inexpensive option if you desire patterned curtains but cannot afford lengths of drapery fabric.  They come in various curtain appropriate lengths 95-inches to 106-inches – depending if you prefer  barely skimming the floor or fabric puddles.

on a cloudy day

on a cloudy day – vintage table cloth $4.99 from Arc Thrift

Of course, full length drapes aren’t practical for a kitchen.  This little gem of a curtain is the perfect size for our kitchen window.  For the photo I left the blinds closed to prevent the back-lighting from completely obscuring the embroidery.  Most days, I fully open the blinds and the softest filtered light fills our tiny kitchen.

I realize that the, “Only buy what you love,” mantra is one I have stated before.  The difference is not falling in love with something simply because it is on pinterest 1,000 times over but rather because it truly resonates with your own sense of self.  Which in our consumer driven/image fed world is something that is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between.

Here is some more vintage tablecloth to curtain eye-candy:

dottie angel

a sort of fairytale

apartment therapy

If I ever find a cut-work tablecloth similar to this one (above) I may use this shower curtain idea.



Back to School: Kitchen Organization

School mornings are often run at break-neck pace.  Things have to be organized or else something gets left behind…and I hate packing up and heading over to the school with forgotten lunches, backpacks, and projects.  I likely will hate it more now since we will be dealing with winter.  This is going to be the first year I have to deal with true winter since I was seven years-old.  Back then it is safe to say my only care was the potential for snow-days.  The summer I turned eight we moved to palm trees and sea breeze (where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico and 30 minutes from South Padre Island). Suffice to say, I have a feeling this winter is going to be hard on me…and harder on Steve who has “vacationed” in snow but has never lived in it.

Anyway, I decided that if I was super organized I would at least drag myself out of bed with a little less dread.

Our kitchen is comprised of one wall that contains stove, sink, fridge, and cabinets.  Opposite that wall is a breakfast bar…which is basically a blank wall with no storage just a place for bar stools…and the frustrating thing about it is that on the other side there are places for barstools.  The counter is bar-height and not counter-height so I can’t use it  for kitchen prep either (annoying).

opposite of lunch prep cabinet

I will give you a proper tour someday once I am completely done organizing the entire kitchen, but for now you get to see where I am storing all our “bulk” items.  These are the items that I often buy from the bulk bins at the supermarket or in large packages.   Top shelf is our “oatmeal bar”.  Second shelf is our cold cereal storage and more oats.  Third shelf is pastas and rice in miscellaneous, re purposed, glass container because this was the best place for them, and next to those is our bulk storage crate.

all ready for breakfasts

In more detail you can see I keep our instant oatmeal packages in a basket ($1 at Goodwill) on the top shelf and behind that are five plastic canisters ($1 each at Dollar Tree).  Those canisters contain oatmeal mix-ins which also often get used in school lunches: cranberries, raisins, mixed dried fruit, walnuts and slivered almonds.   Directly above this shelf is our electric kettle which we use to heat water.  I found that not having a kettle on the stove in a small kitchen is a God-send.  Steve can make his coffee while I am at the stove/packing lunches and we aren’t right on top of each other.

Cold cereal is stored in one-gallon Rubbermaid plastic canisters ($6 at K-Mart).  Yes glass is prettier but since this is open storage and I have kids who like to help themselves plastic is the safer option.  Right now we have corn-flakes, organic puffed rice, puffed corn, and Honey Nut Chex. I need more containers for our old fashioned oats and other cereals like Gorilla Munch.  The smaller quart sized canister ($4 at Kmart) usually holds whole natural almonds and I need to restock. ;)

The red bowl ($3 at Goodwill) usually holds potatoes and onions, but was at the moment this pic was taken holding some items that needed “filing”.

That wooden crate on the bottom shelf ($6 at JoAnn’s with 50% off coupon) holds all of this:  baking mixes and stockpiled lunch items.

The shelf itself I got at K-mart for $17.99 on sale.  I actually picked up two of them (the other one sits opposite the oven).

Things I still want to do:  Paint or stain the shelves and crate,  get more Rubbermaid canisters, get proper uniform storage canisters for our pastas, move our coffee/tea storage to these shelves, get a collapsible step stool to store under the bottom shelf. :D

I hope to share more with you tomorrow but for now I am off to make some friendship bracelets with Jade and get some more organizing done. ;)


An Award!

I received an award!  I love awards and thank you Kit-Kat Sisters for giving Casita Vida the Versatile Blogger Award!

The rules state I must nominate 15 bloggers and then tell you 7 things about myself.

I am a rule breaker…I like to live on the wild side…I have a list of 10 blogs that I have recently come across that are quickly becoming favorite reads and a couple blogging friends I have made along the way.  Sorry for not completely adhering to the rules but let’s just count this as one of those life getting in the way of blogging things. ;)  – Thanks!

1. My Serendipitous Life

2. The Ginger Penny Pincher

3. Bliss

4. Evolution of  Home

5. Lush

6. Craftionary

7. Le Zoe Musings

8. Debbiedoo’s

9. Embracing Change

10. Withywindle

Seven Things About Me:

1.  I majored in journalism and have never used it professionally :/.

2. I am hypoglycemic and have to watch my diet closely or my blood sugar drops dangerously low.

3. I follow a gluten free diet to help maintain my glucose levels.

4. I eat a piece of chocolate every day – I might be addicted.

5.  My favorite colors are blue and green.

6.  My dream vacation spot is Ireland.

7.  I change my hairstyle every trip to the salon .


P.S. I tried to email or comment each of you but if I missed you on accident I am sorry.

Treasure Found!

Last night I ran away for some retail therapy at Goodwill.

I am glad I did.  Here is what I found:

$5 Handpainted Gold Leaf Tray

The fruit basket motif was badly scratched up and I really didn’t care for it so I scraped/scrubbed it all off.

scraping tool

I didn’t want to use a razor blade for fear of nicking the gold leaf so I used the blunt tip of one of Jade’s hair clips.  I alternated between scraping and scrubbing with magic eraser to get off all the paint.

This is what it looked like after about 25 minutes:

With no flash – just the overhead lights – super shinny and I loves!

gold leaf mug corral…and some sparkly treasure from Goodwill…

The monogram mugs are an assortment I have picked up over the last year from all over…the most I spent on a single one was $3.50 the least was $.50.   Then there are the cut glass mugs I picked up last night from Goodwill… $1 each for 4.  They will be used for spiced cider and Irish Coffees this winter! I love that the tray’s sides are low enough to see the details on the mugs. :D

While I was loading the cut class mugs in my cart, I spied some wine goblets and they looked more substantial than glass. I picked one up and sure enough it was heavy so for my final test I flicked my fingernail against one and it rang clear like a bell – crystal!   After counting up what was there  – a full set of 8 – I carefully loaded them into my cart.

They were $.49 each…I got 8 crystal wine glasses for $4…say what?!

$4 (set of 8) crystal goblets from Goodwill!

These are probably the best score I have ever had at any thrift store to date!

Happy dance!


The Peaceful Mom: Guest Post!

I am over-the-moon to have been featured in a guest post over at The Peaceful Mom!

Check out my “Back to School: Clothe Your Kids on a Budget” article HERE!

Thank you Kimberlee!

If you are visiting my blog for more tips on how I go about clothing my kids well there isn’t much else on my fledgling blog but I aim to change that in the coming weeks.  I am going to start by giving you a couple free printables to help you create a school clothing inventory (thank you Kimberlee for the suggestion!) and how I grow my stockpile on a budget!

Free Printables Below!

My School Clothes Stockpile Growing Tips:

Once upon a time the largest percentage of my stockpile came from hand-me-downs and gifts from assorted family and friends.   Hand-me-downs are great until your child starts to grow an aesthetic of their own.  My daughter, Jade, age 6, is quite the “fashionista” and is picky down to the softness of her jeans – ugh.

The hand-me-down train has also slowed as my kids get older  but we still get a handful now and again. Most often these hand-me-downs get donated. While some might see that as being ungrateful, I look at it like this:  if we aren’t going to enjoy it but we keep it around we are being wasteful and depriving someone else of enjoying it.


This is where I start first before I ever set foot in a store.

Quarterly/End of season clearance shopping: $20 per child

Monthly stockpile budget: $5 per child

Where I go first:

Target and Kohls

More on budget I try to split it up between the two $10/child/store.   There is of course wiggle room in this sometimes it is $15 Jade/$0 Lucas at Target and then $0 Jade/$20 Lucas at Kohls or vice-a-verse.   I try my best to match these trips up to available store-coupon sales.  (Notice I am off by $5 I will discuss that in a minute)

 Budgetary Warning: Kohls offers their coupons almost bi-weekly – which can be a budget pitfall if you aren’t careful and is why I set a quarterly and monthly stockpile spending caps.

Other places I frequent and watch for clothing stockpile deals:


Leggings are often 2 pair for $12 regular price, their end of season clearance is good too and often it isn’t as picked over as Target and Kohls.  This is where I went this year for cardigans for Jade.  They were already marked for clearance and Kmart recently had a sale for 40% off  already marked clearance price in apparel.  While the cardigans were clearly intended to be worn in spring it is perfect for us. Jade likes to layer, and layer, and layer…and she likes bright colors. Kmart is fairly new on my list as most of their items are very um…Disney.  I don’t hate Disney, but I generally avoid anything character specific for stockpiling because what my kids are into this year/season might be passe the next.

Old Navy (both online and in store)

They have been my go to if both Target and Kohls are a bust (a rare occurrence but sometimes my fellow frugal shoppers beat me to the punch).

Thrift Stores

The no brainer but I go weekly and often come out empty handed…but if I do see something it often comes out of the “cute” jar (will talk about in a minute) and is often a non-basics piece or a statement pieces.  Okay so I know I sound like a fruit loop talking about statement pieces in kids clothes…but sometimes the details, like heart shaped pockets, are what keep your kid’s clothes looking current/trendy/high end and not like you are shopping at a thrift store.  That’s right I use thrift stores to look like we don’t shop at thrift stores…sounds wild I know.

Consignment Stores

Also often “cute” jar statement pieces and where I often find great deals on shoes and jackets.


My last resort and I avoid it like the plague…but I often find “fun” shoes there for $5 a pair.

What of that left over $5 and what is a “cute” jar.  Well I place anything left over from my quarterly and monthly budget into the “when I see something super cute” jar.  It allows me some flexibility in my fruit-loop-arific statement piece shopping ways.

Other tips:

I often keep an inventory (which until now has been handwritten) list inside each kids’ stockpile box and check off what is in the box so I keep a running tally and a mental log of what is left. I try to stick to basics (jeans, t-shirts, etc), seasonal necessities (jackets, sweaters) and will have a few, maybe 5 max, statement pieces.  For my own sanity I don’t get specific until July rolls around.  It is then that I print up an official check list and I do the steps I outline in my guest post on The Peaceful Mom!

If you would like to use a the inventory list that I used in that post well it was specific to my kid but, I created two similar and gender specific inventory lists to help you get started.

 BOY Inventory List | pdf

 GIRL Inventory List | pdf

I included my suggested amount of items that were mentioned in my guest post as well as extra lines in case you have extras (as I almost always do in the t-shirt categories).  There is a check box and a line for notations so you can write price/color/size  or what ever your tracking needs are :D.  I hope you enjoy!

If you have any other tips I would love to hear them!


Welcome and Product Review: Yes To

If you are visiting from ThePeacefulMom, welcome to my new little blog!  Thank you Kimberlee for choosing  my “Clothe Your Kids on A Budget” article as a guest post!  I am super excited!  I am working on a couple free printables to help you create a kid’s school wardrobe on a budget – watch for that later today!

I am a little behind in posting this week and am on a catch up schedule but I hope you enjoy your visit!

Now onto my regularly scheduled product review:

I want you to know right off that I am not getting paid/sponsored/rewarded for this review…I just really love these products.

I was first introduced to, Yes to, by a friend but was hesitant to commit as I have crazy sensitive yet weird combination skin issues.  I hate trying new face products but what I was using (since college) just wasn’t cutting it.  At 32 suffice to say my skin has changed since 22. :/

So I committed as far as  a $2.48 (on clearance) tube of lip tint and I found it light to wear and non-tacky (as in sticky) and generally pleasant to wear.  It soon usurped my previous gloss as my go to staple.

Yes to Carrots: Lip Tint
available here

I still was hesitant to commit money on a new line of facial cleansing products though.  At least I was until Plum District did a fantastic deal…$35 of product for $15.   So I happily gave up my $15 and placed my then $1.75 order for the following:

Yes to Blueberries (age-refresh) Smoothing Daily Cleanser

Age Refresh Smoothing Daily Cleanser
$9.99 – here

Yes to Blueberries Daily Moisturizer with spf 30

Daily Repairing Moisturizer SPF 30
$19.99 – here


Yes to Carrots Daily Moisturizer Body Lotion

Nourishing Body Lotion
$6.99 – here

 A week later I received a package and it was missing the Yes to Blueberries Moisturizer with spf 30.  I am learning to be a go with the flow kind of person so instead of being upset I went into the bathroom and washed my face with the Smoothing Daily Cleanser…and the heavens parted…okay not really but I was amazed!

My skin felt great immediately.  It cut the oily stuff in my T-zone and all of my skin had a subtle glow to it.

That night I used it again and then the next morning I woke up and my skin was still glowing…say what?!?!?!

So I am in love with Yes to Blueberries!

I love the Yes to Carrots Body Lotion too. It isn’t greasy it is light soaks into your skin and after a couple weeks of use my dehydrated skin it was back to its pre-move state.  Note: we just moved from South Texas (sub-tropical climate) to Northern Colorado (in the middle of a drought) and my skin was dry as a desert, parched.  Added bonus: it feels crazy awesome on minor sunburns!

Again it is love!

And of that missing Yes to Blueberries Daily Moisturizer well Yes To called me and apologized but they ran out of stock – that Plum District deal was very popular.  Could I pick another item or two that totaled the same amount.  So I opted for the:

Yes to Cucumbers (sensitive skin) Facial Towelettes

Facial Towelettes
$5.99 – here

and the Yes to Cucumbers Calming Facial Mask

Calming Facial Mask
$14.99 – here

First the Towelettes:

They cut the oil in my T-zone. They aren’t abrasive at all but work great at  light exfoliating and also leave that same wonderful glow.  I use them in the morning now and the Yes to Blueberries at night.   I also let my six year-old daughter use the towelettes at night.  I feel comfortable with this because there are no harsh chemicals in them.  It is also getting her in the habit of caring for her skin now and  an added bonus – she feels so big to get to use mommy’s stuff.

The Calming Facial Mask is great too. It is a once a week thing but it helps reduce the redness (mild rosacia) on my cheeks…again a win!

I have been using the products for two weeks now sans any moisturizer and my skin looks better than it did when I was 22.  I have some fine lines that I didn’t then but my skin has never glowed like this.  I still had some breakouts but three pimples instead of 12 is a vast improvement.  Blackheads are disappearing (aided by pore strips) but aren’t coming back.  It was worth the $16.75.  Orders over $35 result in free shipping and so I felt fine dropping an extra $1.75 on product.

When it comes back in stock at our local Target I am going to snap up the Yes to Blueberries daily moisturizer with SPF.

I would also like to add that the products aren’t wasteful.  It takes a single fingertip of product to wash my entire face.  I found that even with the body lotion less product covers more surface area.  They do have a scent, the cucumber being the strongest, but they aren’t overpowering.  The products are all natural which also makes me feel good about it.  They also aren’t really anymore expensive than any other facial care line out there – especially true of the “age-defying” regimens.

I will add that you might find that, online, these are sold out right now…but Target carries the Yes To line as does Walgreens.  Target’s prices are generally on par with the online pricing, and Walgreens often offers great clearance/seasonal sales on the Yes To line of products.  :D

And did I mention the glow?


As Luck Would Have It…A Faux Bamboo Nightstand

About a month ago I emailed a craigslist seller about this – in all its faux bamboo gorgeousness!

I didn’t hear back and was sad…until today!

 The seller has been out of town and she called me this morning. Can anyone say Happy Dance?!?!?

The hubs will go and pick it up tomorrow evening and bring it home!  Yay!

The next question is where do I put it? It was going to be my nightstand but something else is occupying that space now…hmmm?


Free Haircuts for Kids

We are new to the area and the thoughts of finding a stylist for myself and the kids = dread.  So when I saw this offer, over at The Peaceful Mom

…I called JCPenney and booked an appointment, for Jade, right away.  A huge thank you to JCPenney for offering this deal. It is one less expense right before school starts, when we are already shelling out a ton of cash on supplies, clothes, and all the other back-to-school stuff.  One less thing to work into the budget is always appreciated!

It had been about 10 weeks since my last haircut so while I was on the phone I booked an appointment for myself.   I was very pleased with the outcome and I am thinking this cut is one of the best of my life.   Call it an advertising win for JCP salon – you now have a loyal, repeat customer!

Also, the salon here was getting slammed with appointments and actually hired a couple new stylists to accommodate the extra business.  If you are interested in this, I wouldn’t wait to schedule an appointment. ;)