Let's Talk Nails

I love getting my nails done, just as much as the next girl.  And I feel so much more pulled together with my nails nicely manicured.  And on top of it, my new indulgence is of course, the "gel nails".  But being a young wife and mom, getting my nails done on a monthly basis isn't a priority when we budget.  So going to a nail salon to get them done is now a rare treat, not part of my regular beauty routine.

But of course, that doesn't mean I can't have rockin' nails!  Just the last few months, I have discovered a great top coat polish that makes nails super shiny and is fast-drying (so you can squeeze a manicure in during nap time!).  I have had several people ask me if they are gel nails, but it's just the awesome top coat!  It also helps your nail polish last longer, although the results don't last quite as long as gel nails, they do keep them in pretty good shape for a while!

The top coat is Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat.  I use it over all my polish now!

I bought it at Target, but you can purchase it from Amazon, and I am sure most drug stores and beauty supply stores carry it as well.

Another thing I have learned about doing my own nails, is that there is a huge difference between nail "polish" and nail "lacquer".  I now pay  more attention when I am buying a color that I think I will wear often.  I typically will spend more on a lacquer for a color that I think I will use regularly, and buy the cheaper quality stuff for trendier colors that I just want to try out for fun. Brands like OPI and Essie are nail "lacquers".

Mimosas with Mr. & Mrs.

For example, I own OPI in Mimosas for Mr. & Mrs. and in Lincoln Park After Dark because they are both shades I wear often.  I want to splurge on a coral color for this summer!  I just pick up trendier colors like greens and blues (that I don't tend to wear as often) at the drug store with brands that are less expensive and not usually nail "lacquer".

The reason I love Mimosas with Mr. & Mrs. is because you can wear it so long!  Even if you have a little "wear and tear" on your nails, the color is so natural, you don't notice chipping nearly as easily.

Here is a shot of my toes.  This is a cheapy polish I got for 99 cents, but it looks fabulous with that top coat.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  Very shiny and thick looking.  Looks like a professional pedi, even from this amateur! 

What are some other tips for nails?  I love learning more about what works for other people!


Dining Out on a Dime: Casa Ramos

I had a fun and productive weekend canning!  Hope you had a good one.  I'll show you what we did this weekend, in a future post--coming up soon! 

We love to eat out, but if you aren't careful it can add up fast!  Typically we eat out places that maybe are quicker or don't have waiters/waitresses (i.e., less expensive).  But sometimes it is nice to sit back and have someone continually top off your water and serve you your food!  So when we are in the mood for that, and some good Mexican food, we head on over to...

...Casa Ramos.  It is on Main Street in Mesa.  It is reasonably priced, the staff are over-the-top nice, and it is delicious!  Bonus: It is also open late!

When you are seated, they bring you a bowl of tortilla chips and some roasted tomato salsa.  If you aren't careful, you get full from that!  Because we get the chips and salsa, we opt to share a combo meal (I think we normally get #19).  Our combo meal comes with a burrito, taco, and enchilada (your choice of meat in each--we love their shredded beef!), and a side of rice and beans.  So good!  

Last time we went, we made it out of there for $15, including tip!  Not too bad for delicious Mexican food, and great service where you are seated and waited on.  

Have you ever been to Casa Ramos?  Where is your favorite place to eat out that is budget friendly?  


A Few Links for Your Weekend...

Well I am spending my weekend canning with a bunch of my sisters-in-law, it should be a good time (it always is with them!).  What are your plans?

One fun discovery this week, is that Landon enjoys avocados straight from the skins

Remember my lace shirt, from WalMart?  Well, I loved this post, it has inspired me to "shop my closet" and try wearing it a lot of different ways!

I've been really loving this yoga video to squeeze in a little something on busy days--it is challenging, but I can keep up.  Do it once or several times in a row, depending on your allotted time!

Cracking up at this post that talks about those oh-so-awkward doorstep scenes we all have experienced!  So true, so true...

After reading articles on about how the French do things, it reminded me of this blog post that I read and found fascinating (I kinda want to buy the book on my Kindle)...

Come join me next week, and I will report how my canning weekend went and we will talk about family fun on a budget (including dining out on a dime!).


A Canning Weekend

Look at this beaut...

It's my new pressure canner, and this weekend my little family is heading to my husband's hometown in southeastern AZ for the women to have a "canning" weekend.  So excited!  I used it one time last week, so I am excited to try it out again!  Everything I made last weekend turned out fabulous.  I know that it can be potentially dangerous (although, they are made much, much safer now, than when our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used to pressure can--there are a lot of safety mechanisms in place before it will just blow up), but I feel much more comfortable with it now.

We are going to can chicken and beans this weekend!  Both staples around this house.  Best part is, both of those items are put in the jar raw, thrown in the canner, and come out cooked, tender, and preserved until needed!  There was a sale for chicken $1.69/pound, and so I offered to bring down a ton for everyone to use (since that small town doesn't get many great deals like that).  My parent's extra freezer is filled to the brim with chicken, because they said I could borrow space for a few weeks (well chicken, a bunch of meat from a cow they had butchered, and more Blue Bell ice cream cartons than you'd ever think of!).

Brett and I are slightly worried about how we will take all of the chicken down with us in our tiny car...but I am sure we will figure it out!

I have been scouring Craigslist and price checking for canning jars at all the stores.  I have a pretty decent collection.  Now to start filling them!

I have a long list of things I'd eventually like to can, but I am glad to be starting with these basics.  Have you ever canned or preserved anything?  What was your favorite?  Ever done tomatoes?  They interest me, but seem like a lot of work.  Tell me your thoughts!


Get Your Garden On

Did you have a good weekend?  I hope so!  We grilled for dinner both Friday and Saturday night, Landon played in his little "play pool" for the first time, and I was able to can chicken, beans, and raspberry jam!  This week I will post a little bit on self-reliance.  So to start off...

...do you have a garden?

We planted a small one this year.  I love seeing the tomatoes forming on the plants, and I have already snipped off some fresh cilantro and basil to cook with.  This weekend we used them both on homemade grilled pizzas! 

Next year I have plans to make a much bigger one!  I can't wait to harvest some tomatoes, it will be a seriously fresh and delicious homemade salsa paired with the freshly snipped cilantro.

Instead of planting straight from seeds, we bought some small plants that were already started at Home Depot.  They were just a little more expensive (but not much) than buying the seeds, and it was much more exciting to see quicker growth and progress with our plants.

Our planted garden...

Growing up ranching and farming has it's perks...Brett installed this small drip-line system in the garden in a matter of minutes!

See the drip-line watering...
The hose hooks into a spot, and then we turn it on for a while and it does all the work.  So nice to not have to hunch over the garden box in this hellish heat we call "summer".  

We have our compost pile right next to it (I know, not the prettiest picture!).  We throw our scraps and older produce (that we don't give to the chickens) in the pile.  After a lot breaks down, Brett will combine it well into the soil and we will periodically add more into our garden soil.  It is wonderful!  The bushes on the other side of the compost pile grow like crazy because of it!

What have you planted before?  Have you ever done a garden that was exclusively herbs?  I'd love to try that too!

P.S. If you are interested, here is a link on perks to having a drip line system, and a tutorial on how to make one for yourself!  You could also go to your local home improvement store, and I am sure they could get you going in the right direction!


A Few Fun Links for the Weekend...

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!  Here are a few fun links for you to check out over the weekend...

This is us last weekend on Mother's Day, looking forward to another fun-filled weekend with my sweet family!
Landon's chambray shirt: thrifted (D.I.), bow tie: homemade from scrap fabric, shorts: hand-me-down from cousin 

Remember my post on the printed pants I scored for amazing deals?  Well I love how Liz gave them the spotlight here and here, and I loved seeing Nie Nie wearing them on her European trip! (scroll to the bottom of this post to see her outfit up-close!)

I really hope Hillary reveals what item cost her $1 in this look that is less than $50!

And if you are in the mood for some laughs...for free...check out Friday We're in Love's hilarious YouTube channel for hours of the best clips and videos back-to-back!  It is a date night "in" favorite around our house, since we don't have to sit for a few minutes and think of our favorite clips to look up.  We just sit back, and "enjoy the show"!

I love this post that Kathleen posted on Savvy Ways to Save Instead of Spend!

Can we not all relate to Chrissy's post about her mushy/burnt meatloaf and hope that our significant other reacts the way hers did?

A really simple tutorial for DIY beaded sandals, in case you can't find any you are in love with for the summer that is rapidly approaching!

And my heart was so happy when I read this blog post from a high school friend, who against ALL ODDS, is expecting a bundle of joy!

We have plans to attend a wedding reception, grill pizza on our back patio with friends, and maybe make some raspberry jam this weekend!  Are you up to anything exciting?


Fallas Paredes Women's Finds: 2 Looks under $30 Head to Toe

Remember this post yesterday where I revealed a potential gold mine for trendy clothes and accessories on the cheap...?

Well I promised to reveal a separate post on the things I found for myself.  I must admit, they had me giddy!

For the first outfit, I posted a teaser on instagram, because I knew I would be wondering where someone scored those polka dot pants for $7!

shoes: Fallas Paredes ($9.99)
polka dot pants: Fallas Paredes ($7.00)
lace shirt: Wal-Mart ($9.94)
pearl earrings: Forever 21 ($2.80 for 10 pairs of pearls)

That entire outfit totals for under $30!  I could have accessorized more, but being a mom and with the heat, it was a top-knot, minimal kind of day that day!

The next look is a floral print pant.  I have slowly come around to embracing some comoponents of the floral trend.  And while I feel a little "iffy" about these pants, the print itself was one I felt pretty comfortable with.  I am trying to figure out ways to wear them more!

shoes: Fallas Paredes ($9.99)
floral print pants: Fallas Paredes ($9.99)
gray shirt: Fallas Paredes ($3.99)
pearl earrings: Forever 21 ($2.80 for 10 pairs of pearls)

And again, all came down to less than $30 for the entire outfit!  Not too shabby, especially since all of these were purchased new, not even thrifted or second-hand.

And these are most definitely "mom approved" outfits.  Landon had to be whisked off the lawn mid-photo shoot since he was consuming handfuls of grass at a time.

I also purchased a pair of swim suit bottoms (for $3.99) to go with a swimsuit top I purchased at Wal Mart (for $13).  But I will spare you a picture of that for now.  Maybe some time by the pool I will take a quick snapshot.  

photo cred: my adoring husband Brett.  He said he would charge me $50 for a photo shoot, but I made a counteroffer he couldn't refuse ;)

And you can check out my pinterest board "printed pants" that I am using to help give me ideas on how to style these pants!


Favorite Spots Around Town: Fallas Paredes

I stumbled upon this store in high school and have shopped there ever since!

If you are on the lookout for trendy items on a budget, you should look here first!

I mean, how many stores do you go into that have a sign that says $1.99 and has clothes hanging on the rack below it?  I have gotten a dress here for $1 before!  

This is also a great place to get work out clothes, sweats, and leggings if you are looking to keep your price point low.  They also have a decent selection of plain colored shirts for around $3.

Of course, it is hit-or-miss, but most places are with good deals.  I just pop in here when I am nearby and have a few minutes to spare.

I got some killer cute things there, so tomorrow I will have a feature post on the "women's" things I got.  But here is a peek at what other goodies there are!

I even saw decorative pillows starting at $3.99!  Now that is a steal!

These colored/printed skinnies for little girls are too cute for words.  And for $7.99/piece, I wouldn't feel bad about buying a pair.  It really beats these J.Crew Girl's colored and printed pants starting at $42+ (on clearance) for sure!

They also have a huge baby/infant and men's section as well as a decent selection of plus-sizes!  Stay tuned for my finds for tomorrow.  They are the purchases I've been most excited about yet!  

This store is located on Mesa Dr. and University, behind the McDonald's.  There is another location on Stapley and Southern, in the same shopping center as the Pro Ranch Market.  However, I prefer the one on Mesa Dr. and University.  Happy shopping on a budget!  


Spreading the Love: Camille at Friday We're in Love

I love Camille over at Friday We're in Love!  If you don't already follow her blog, then please do!  She and her husband blog to inspire others to date.  If you are single, they want to help you come up with fun and innovative ideas.  And if you are married, they want to encourage you by going on exciting dates to keep your love and marriage alive and well.  They have a ton of dating ideas, some of which are extremely budget friendly or even free.

She just launched a new series where every 14th of the month, she features a blogger or two that she loves!  It is called, Spreading the Love with Friday We're in Love.  Her goal is to always tell people the positive things she notices, even strangers.  Sometimes it can be uncomfortable or you feel silly, but it can really mean a lot to someone!  She invited other bloggers to join in as well.

I decided to feature Camille this month!  I have to tell you, she is as amazing as she sounds!  I remember knowing who she was at church, years ago.  She was on-the-ball, smart, and dressed to kill.  Little did I really know how much depth there really was to her and what a great friend she is to all those around her!

I have to give her a ton of credit for encouraging me in my blogging pursuits.  She hosted a party, and made a comment about one blog post she really liked in front of everyone.  She sold them on that post!  And although I felt slightly embarrassed at the attention, I mostly felt flattered that she would be so vocal about it.  Because when Camille has an opinion on something, people listen!  When I told her my idea for this blog, she told me that I should definitely start it up.  She has been a great source of advice, both personally and for blogging.

So thanks Camille, for being inspiring and for starting up this wonderful new series!

This is me and Camille at the Easter Pageant with our husbands in 2012
Landon is in my belly, that is why I look ginormous!
You can see a guest post I did on her blog long ago, before this blog was ever even a twinkle in my eye.  Bonus: it's an idea for a FREE date!


Secret Eyelashes

So I have fairly long eyelashes.  But they aren't super thick or dark, so for me, mascara is necessary.

Which meant I was super jealous of the luscious lashes that eyelash extensions gave a lot of women I saw around town.  But let's be honest...my husband wouldn't be thrilled if I thought that spending $30+ a month on my eyelashes was a priority.

One day, my cousin's adorable wife Stephanie, invited me to go with her to the MAC counter in Nordstrom.  It changed my life (Okay, slightly dramatic.  But it was indeed a wonderful secret she let me in on!).

That secret, I will now share with you...

False Eyelashes.

Don't worry!  I had nightmares of ripping out all my own lashes or never being able to get them on the right way.  And while I am still learning things as I go, I can assure you, that with a little help from the MAC people, and giving it a try one or two times, you will be well on your way to beautiful lashes on a dime!  Of course, you have to reapply them every day, they aren't permanent like extensions.  But saving this much money and still looking this good, is way worth it to me!  Once you have practiced, it will be a breeze applying them.

Stephanie is loyal to the Nordstrom Mac counter, she has always had better experiences going there, because she thinks that the MAC training combined with the Nordstrom training gives the best possible customer service.  So that's what I do.  You can go elsewhere if you feel so inclined!

They are great there, at the MAC counter!  They will help you pick out the lashes you want (I love the #7 lashes, and those are what I would recommend for first timers--more natural looking, but still make a statement).  They trim them to fit your eye, and will even put them on for you.

The lashes themselves run around $15, but the first time you go, you have to buy the glue.  The glue is one of the biggest secrets.  It starts out white, but dries clear.  The glue is amazing!  It is $12, but will last forever.  Don't scrimp and buy it elsewhere, or you won't enjoy putting these lashes on and wearing them.  At the MAC counter, they tell you that these lashes will last you 5-6 wears if you take good care of them.  I will tell you they will last you 3ish months, wearing them everyday, if you take good care of them!

So the first time you go, you will spend a little less than $30, but after that, you won't need to buy glue.  So $15 every few months for amazing lashes is awesome and way cheaper than extensions!  Here is another secret...my other cousin's wife, Skye, professionally applies eyelash extensions for other people.  But she wears MAC false eyelashes!  That is how great they are!

Tips for wearing these lashes:

- I put one very light coat of mascara on BEFORE applying the lashes (not after, the lashes won't last long if you put mascara on them) so that my natural lash won't be noticeable since they are light colored.

- If you don't have them trimmed by a MAC person, or they poke you in the inner corner of your eye, trim them down a little more.  I like it when my lashes only cover a little more than 3/4 length of my eye.  Your natural lashes will continue to the inner corner and if you have a light coat of mascara on already, it will look great and they will be much more comfortable!

- The glue starts out white and dries clear.  Apply a thin layer of glue (they should show you this at the MAC counter--I use a toothpick to do it) and let it air dry for a minute or so.  It will turn a slight yellow color, and that is when you should apply it to your eye.  It will be a  little more tacky and stay when applied.

- As long as you see "white" where the glue is, you can continue moving and fixing the lashes in place.  Once the white is gone, the glue has dried and you will probably have to re-apply.

- If you take Sunday afternoon naps and tend to sleep on half of your face (like I do), take the lashes off.  So you don't smoosh them into a weird shape.  It was a sad day when this happened to me!

- When taking the lashes off, they can peel right off.  It won't rip your natural lashes out, I PROMISE!  There is usually a thin layer of glue stuck to the lashes, resembling that of dried Elmer's glue.  Carefully pull it off the best you can, to keep your lashes in tip-top shape for a long while!

Hope this inspires someone to give them a try!  They really are so fun to have and use.  I feel pretty with nothing more than these on and some lip gloss, even at the grocery store with a baby on my hip.


Mother's Day Idea: Instagram Magnets

So, I gave my mom her mother's day gift early, so that I could post this idea for you all to use if you want!

I know it isn't an extremely unique DIY, I've seen it floating around blogland/pinterest.  But Instagram magnets are seriously easy, fun, cute, and most anyone (especially a mom!) will love them!

use them to make a collage...

...they can help you hang up fun things on your fridge...

...or just be there to give you reminders of happy memories all on their own!

I used this tutorial from Megan at And Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson.  I didn't do everything exactly as she did, but pretty close.  I left more white space around each picture, like she wished she had done.  And I didn't use a paper cutter, just scissors to cut the pictures out, because I didn't have a paper cutter handy.  I loved her instructions on making and printing out the collage, they worked great for me!  

While working on these, I made the mistake of stacking them on top of each other.  The magnets sometimes left a little mark on the picture they were sitting on (major bummer, but they still were fine enough to give her!), so that is why, when I gifted them to my mom, I had torn paper in between.  Plus it kinda looked cute that way!

-          small tiles at Home Depot for under $3
-          magnets at Home Depot (and then got smart and ordered a bigger amount off of Amazon for around $5)
-          created the collage on picmonkey (free)
-          printed the collage at Costco (less than $2)
-          mod podge and brushes, already owned
-          glue gun to glue on magents, already owned

Good luck!   It was too hard to narrow down a few, so I made my mom a ton.  She can either rotate them out and change things up occasionally—or just have a fun collage on her fridge, even if she doesn’t need to hang anything up. 

I am working on printing off a collage to make myself a few.  This is a project that comes together quickly, once the collage is printed.  My favorite kind! 

These could also be a fun gift for a dad (either your own dad or husband) if he has a magnetized filing cabinet or something where he works.  I am trying to think of other ways to "back" the tiles (like a heavy duty thumb tack?) so they can be used on other surfaces.  Any ideas?!


Armoire turned Pantry DIY

Well I live in a small house, so you have to get creative with how you use your space.  My friend Julianne told me about her garage sale, and so I hopped on over and got this armoire for $10!

After getting it home, I decided to turn it into a pantry (of sorts) for my kitchen.  I love the concept of open-shelving, but when you don't have double-paned windows, dust is an enemy you are constantly fighting.  No one wants to walk in and see dust all over my food and dishes that they are about to use.  I love the way it turned out!

It had some really cute detailing on it already.  The hardest part was just sanding it down.

Put a few coats of paint on.  Sanded the edges for a more chippy look and to show off the fun details.  (Didn't even glaze this one, since some of the underlying black paint showed through and gave it a glazed look).

Brett (my handyman husband) took a drawer out of the lower half of the top segment, and created a second shelf there--I forgot to take a picture of that before and after).

And of course, I use the top to shelve some of my pretty platters, fruits, and vegetables.  It adds a nice touch and makes it look more like it belongs in the kitchen.

I hope that the next place I live will have a pantry.  If not, I have this!  If there is a pantry, I can use this in a bedroom or craft room for other storage options.  Really, it was a good buy!

Since I have been shopping at WinCo now, and buy more things from their bulk section, I invested in some heavy-duty, plastic canisters from Ikea.  At $3.99/piece for the larger size, the price really can't be beat.  They are perfect for storing pasta, dried beans, whole wheat flour, etc. in my new "pantry"!  The bottom 2 drawers hold tupperware, bibs, dish cloths, dish towels, etc.  I am thinking about using all of my glass baby food containers and turning them into spice jars.  Maybe Brett could install a few spice racks on the inside of the doors on top?   Then I can buy my spices in bulk too.

What do you think of my armoire-turned-pantry?  Have you done anything creative with a piece of furniture, and used it for purposes it wasn't necessarily intended for?


A Few Links for the Weekend...

I love these two, and love the weekends when I get to spend lots of quality time with them!

A few links to check out over the weekend...

and if you go to the Cinco de Mayo community event and there are carnival games, don't blow your life savings only to win a giant banana!

this is a DIY I most definitely want to try soon!  Maybe I can try to find something at Goodwill this Saturday on the 50% off day?

So excited for the AZ Blogger Meet Up this weekend!

Stay tuned for next week...great ideas for Mother's Day Gifts, DIY and more!


Let's Celebrate: Cinco de Mayo

Here in the good Southwest, we take things like Cinco de Mayo quite seriously.  You see, it is a really good reason to eat delicious and authentic Mexican food, be surrounded by bright colors, and spend time with family.

Why not check out the history of Cinco de Mayo and plan a little celebration?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Use tissue paper for decor!  It is inexpensive, and really authentic for this sort of celebration...

These are all easy DIYs, and really add color to your fiesta as well.  

Another fun way to decorate is with the small succulents...

Of course, food is a very important aspect of a Cinco de Mayo celebration...

The food doesn't have to be a full-meal.  I love the idea of a salsa bar or just dessert.  We will probably get some carne asada meat from a local carniceria, and make black bean dip and cilantro lime rice.  Maybe even some mexican corn.  Mock fried ice cream is easy to make in advance--perfect for hosting!  Warm honey and cinnamon together and drizzle it on top for the perfect touch.  If you are hosting, to keep cost low, have everyone bring something!  Takes the stress off of you and your budget.

And of course, get-togethers are more fun with photos, and who doesn't like a few fun props?!

If you are looking for the perfect way to top off the day, try serving some horchata--a traditional Mexican rice drink.  Think rice pudding in liquid form, it is delicious!

I hope this gave you a few ideas on how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year, whether it be a big or small celebration.  Let me know how it goes!