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Cheap & Easy Fireplace Makeover

Our fireplace has been bugging me since the day we moved in... just sitting there, looking cheap and chinzy.  Everytime I looked at it I thought to myself, who thought this looked good??  First of all, the vents on the firebox are brass, who in the 2000's puts brass in their house?  Also, the mantel was small and a cheap light yellow-oaky color, yuck-o. 

Fireplaces are supposed to be beautiful focal points... I love having a fireplace, I love having a mantel to decorate and re-decorate with the seasons, I love snuggling up in front of it with my family and a big bowl of popcorn.  But every time I sat in front of our new fireplace I was distracted by its ugliness.  Something had to be done... pronto.

Now in my dreams I would have loved to rip the whole thing out and build a big beautiful surround with a big chucky mantel and molding that goes all the way up the ceiling, but this blog is called Chic on a Shoestring for a reason. :)  

Time for a Chic on a Shoestring Decorating style makeover: 

First, the yellow oak had to go so hubby and I lightly sanded the mantel and slapped on a coat of white paint.  This was "free" as we had some leftover white trim paint and brushes.

The white paint really made a difference, it made the mantel "pop" from the wall and even made the mantel look a bit more substantial.  But those brass grates.... grrrrr, they are so 1992!! 

Then we spotted this at the hardware store...

High heat matte black spray paint... Brilliant!!  And only about 5 bucks!  We did some googling research and found out that it was ok for fireplace vent grates.  Ya-Hoo!!!  Those ugly brass grates pop right off and my hubby was kind enough to take them in the garage and spay paint them for me.  Easy Peasy!!!

The finished product!

While it's not the huge fancy mantel of my dreams I am so happy with the results!  

I heart comments and new followers! XOXOX

I am linked up to Thrifty Decor Chicks, Between Naps on the Porch, Cottage Instincts, Twice Remembered, and The Stories of A to Z mantel party, & Fireflies & Jellybeans!

The Lettered Cottage

The Pan Controversy... and a Great Deal!

Well, this is kind of a strange topic for my little blog but it includes a super sweet deal so I guess I can make it fit...

I was at K-Mart the other day... you know, I still snicker when I admit I sometimes shop at K-Mart.  If you're a child of the 80's maybe you remember how super-duper uncool it was to shop at K-Mart, it was the worst of the worst as far as stores go in coolness.  Back in grade school/middle school if someone told you it looked like you got your clothes at K-Mart it was the biggest insult ever, like crawl under a rock and die embarassment if it was found out that your clothes really were from K-Mart.  Aahhhhh, memories. 

Anywho, now I actually kind of like K-Mart, mostly for their cheap and cute housewares.  The Martha Stewart Brand usually has some cute decent quality stuff.  While browsing the clearance aisle the other day I came across a set of heavy duty stainless steel pans by Martha Stewart.  They were 75 bucks, that was 50% off, a good deal but I couldn't pull the trigger and passed them up. 

I've been looking for a set of stainless steel pans but didn't want to pay that much because I didn't really need a set of pans.  You see, I have a set of crazy-expensive Calphalon non-stick pans that the hubs and I received for a wedding gift.  I didn't register for these insanely expensive pans but some of my parents friends pooled there money together to get them for us.  Looking back, I should have taken those suckers back and got the $$$, but we thought, jeez these pans will last the rest of our lives, we should be happy we got such great quality pans. 

And, we liked them, they cook evenly and nothing sticks to them.   Here's where the controversy comes in.  It is thought by some that these non-stick type pans can cause cancer, especially if they are peeling.  Also in the gas they produce if on high heat and empty.  Well, I don't have any peeling pans and I don't put them on high heat while empty.  But, my very young aunt got luekemia a few years back and her doctors actually told her to get rid of any non-stick pans.  WHAT?! 

Now, I'm pretty sure the pans didn't cause her cancer and I'm quite skeptical about the whole idea, in the little bit of research I've done the info about it is all over the place- but my husband pointed out that no "real" chef on the Food Network uses non-stick pans, and then I started paying attention... he was right!  (you hear that honey, you're right!)  Iron pans are the best according to the pros but they are just not practical for everything.  Which leads me to stainless steel....

I went back to K-Mart (snicker, snicker) and my Martha Stewart stainless steel panset was 50% off the clearance price, $37 for a 6 pan set- SCORE!!! 

I'm really impressed with the quality, the bottoms are heavy duty.

The best part is they are dishwasher safe (and cancer free wink, wink ;)

So, if you're in need of some pans, check your local K-Mart, you might get lucky. 

I LOVE comments, please leave me a comment and follow me!!  Thanks for reading :)  xoxo

A little more Valentine's Day Decor...

Last week I showed you all my cool non-Christmasey looking Christmas items that I got at Hobby Lobby for 80% off and how I used some of it to make my cheap Valentine's Day wreath.   I also got a cute polka-dot candle and a shiny red candle ring to go with it which I thought would be a cute centerpiece for my kitchen table. 

Here are the non-Christmasey Christmas items:

The shiny red candle ring circle ended up being too wide for the polka-dot candle (I should've noticed that at the store... duh.) so I ended up using it at the base of the pedastal to add some width- I wasn't sold on that when I first did it but now I kinda like it! I took some beads that I didn't use on my wreath and wrapped them around the base of the candle to fill the empty space on the pedastal top.  I already had the pedastal so this centerpiece was super cheap... $2 for the candle and beads and candle ring $1 each. 

I have 2 decorative glass canisters that sit in my kitchen year round, I put candy canes in them for Christmas and I thought I would fill them with candy conversation hearts for Valentine's Day... until I realized how many bags it would take to fill them- maybe about 8, and no one in my family even likes to eat those little hearts.  So, my cute idea is a little too expensive to just throw them out after a couple weeks.  Boo. 

What to do... I couldn't just leave them there empty but I didn't want to buy $20 worth of candy hearts just for looks.  I looked in the bottom of my little "Valentine's Day Decorations" cardboard box and saw that I had one measly fabric heart napkin and one matching heart kitchen towel that I got on clearance years ago.   I decided to stick them in the jars to see how they looked, not bad but maybe not as cute as my little conversation hearts.  Oh well, the price was right.  What do you think bloggy-land friends??

After Valentine's Day I might pick up some different fabric that match the rest of my Valentine's decor a little better.  You could try this too if you have any decorative glass containers around.  You could just buy a little bit of Valentine's themed fabric and it would probably be super cheap!

I am linked to A Soft Place to Land, check it out!

I'd love to hear from you and don't forget to follow me!


Help for Hardwood Floor (Tile & Linoleum too!) Cleaning by Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

I have had a love hate relationship with my new dark hardwood floors.  I absolutely love the looks of them but they show EVERYTHING.  Every little spot, smear, crumb, drip, drool... you get the picture.  I have 2 very adorable very messy eaters that eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day in my kitchen which makes for a icky-sticky messy floor!  Nothing drives me crazy like a messy kitchen floor, if the floor is a mess the whole room looks bad no matter how sparkling clean everything else is.

I had hardwood floors at our previous home and tried many different cleaning products and never really felt like the floor was clean unless I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed it.  The color of our old floor was much more forgiving (thankfully!) so I didn't have to do this dreaded scrub job all too often.  Once we got these new floors and I saw how they showed my mess I knew I was in big trouble.  I was going to be down on the floor scrubbing those things at least once a day... NOOOooooo!

Until I found my new love, (sshhh, don't tell my husband), I'm in love with my new Shark steam mop! HA! But seriously, I really love it.  And no, I'm not getting paid to tell you this.

The Shark Steam Mop satinizes your floor using "super heated" steam, NO CHEMICALS.  Love that since my kiddos play on the floor constantly (and I think they eat off it sometimes too when I'm not looking- yuck! ...but at least they're not eating dirty food with chemicals).  It dries very quickly and leaves the floors very clean.

Besides being chemical free, I also love the fact that the mop uses tap water.  This is sweet news for all you thrifty gals(and guys?) like me.  It also comes with two washable microfiber pads.  No spending big bucks on expensive refills of cleaning products/rags, etc.  And no more hands and knee floor scrubbing.

Now the mop itself isn't too cheap, it runs about $99 but can usually be found on sale at Kohls, Target or somewhere for about $79.  I lucked out and hubby got me mine at a pre-Christmas sale for $52 at Farm & Fleet of all places!  I have never seen it that cheap before or since then.

I'm on a shoestring budget so you won't usually see me dropping big bucks on "luxury" cleaning items (is there such a thing?) if there is something cheaper that works as well.  But because it sanitizes without using chemicals, uses tap water, cleans well, and is easy on the back, this sucker is worth every penny! 

Here's a photo of my love...<3

After a messy clean up...


Please follow me and leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you! :)

I'm linked up to Thrifty Decor Chick So Fresh and So Clean Party.

A Great Sale and a Valentine find...

Hi friends!  For those of you that have Gordman's stores in your area, they currently have 50% off of their clearance prices.  Our store still had a pretty decent selection.  I was able to buy 11 items for less than $25 and I had a $25 gift card!  I got some really cute stuff.  I should mention that I did get 3 Christmas items that were 75% off but still- 11 things!

Check out this Valentine's sign, it was really scratched up and I got it for $1.50. 

I took a black marker around the edges to get rid of all the white.  I then took a fine tip black pen to fill in the scratches on the front, then used a paper towel to wipe off excess ink and lighten it up so it doesn't look like dark black lines running through it.  I think it turned out pretty good for a buck fifty!  Now, where to put it...

Check out this cute little birdcage I got for 4 measley dollars...  four bucks!?  It was originally $30.  Isn't it cute!?  It's definitely one of those things that my sweet hubby will look at and say "what the heck is that thing... is that a fake bird?!" but I think it is darling.  It just looks like spring. I haven't decided on a permanent spot for it but I think I'll put it out with my Easter stuff for sure.

Thanks for stopping by- please "follow me" and come back soon! :)

Cheap Valentine's Day Wreath

Hobby Lobby is one of my favorite stores. They have great clearance markdowns, especially at Christmas time.  This year there were a few things I wanted to pick up after x-mas but I wanted to get it 80% off because it just doesn't feel like a deal until it's almost free.  It's like I have this weird competition with the store - why would I pay this much today (even at 50% off!!), when I can get it 80% off tomorrow? The trick is knowing the day it goes 80% because it gets picked over quick.

If you're the same way, you probably have the same feeling I get when I walk away - waiting for that 80% -  "what if I missed the big one and don't get what I need!?"  I don't have the time to stop in and check every day - and my kiddos and (especially) my husband don't have the patience.

So this year, I call the store to ask - twice.  Because I had some guess-timation of when the next mark down would occur - and because they pretty much know me there by now, I didn't have to bother the Hob- Lobbers too much.

So that would be my tip for today - if you can wait, don't settle for 50% or 66% when you know it'll get better. Also, don't be afraid to call and ask. Might seem simple, but some people I know are hesitant to bother the store folks, but how am I gonna know if I don't call? Finally, get to know the people who work there - even if it's just on a "hello" basis. Sometimes, they'll give you a heads up or be on the lookout for you.

My 80% off after-Christmas gamble paid off this year. I got everything I needed PLUS picked up a few red non-christmasey looking items to try out as Valentine's decorations and I thought I'd share what I did.

Here is a picture of my non-Christmasey Christmas items:

These 5 items cost $10 and some change.  The big splurge was on the crazy looking shiney red "garland" stuff at the top left.  It cost $4 at 80% off!  Kinda pricey stuff but it was going to be perfect for my wreath and very non-Christmasey in my opinion. ;) 

Finally, the cheap Valentine's Day Wreath...

This was so simple and super cheap.  I took an old grapevine wreath that was stuck in my basement and took the old stuff off of it.  I then took my pricey $4 non-Christmasey Christmas shiney red "garland" stuff and attached it to my grapevine wreath using garbage bag twist ties. (I find it easier to work with than wire, no cutting involved, and it holds just as well.) 

After I got all the pricey non-Christmasey Christmas red stuff on it looked like this:

Not exactly screaming Valentine's Day is it?

I then added my non-Christmasey Christmas ribbon...

To add the ribbon I just tucked the start into the back of the grapevine wreath, then I started loosely wrapping the ribbon around tucking it back in where I started.  I'm going to hang this wreath on my front door but I have a glass storm door over it so I'm not worried about the ribbon blowing loose in the wind.  If you are worried about the wind you could use a glue gun and add some glue to the back of the ribbon in random spots on the wreath to make it a little more sturdy.

I then dug out this little heart hangy thing that I picked up at Michaels a few years ago at an after Valentine's Day sale for about $3.

It already had a wire hook at the top so I just used the twisty wire and attached it to the top center of the wreath.

The finished project:

Because I had the wreath and hanging hearts already this wreath only cost me $6. An inexpensive replacement for my hanging center hearts could be hanging heart shaped cookie cutters.  I have seen them in different sizes in stainless steel and I've also seen red and pink metal cutters.  The cookie cutters could be hung on red ribbon at different lengths in the middle of the wreath.  They also have some heart shaped Valentine "ornaments" at Hob Lob that would look cute too.

I hope you like my cheap Valentine's Day wreath.  Come back soon to see what I did with my other non-Christmasey Christmas Valentine's Day stuff.  (Whew!, that's a mouthful!) :)

A Big Thanks to Marla from Always Nesting!

As many of you already know I won the giveaway from Marla at Always Nesting.  Woo Hoo!! :)

I can not thank Marla enough for the $25 gift card to my most favorite store in the whole world, TJ Maxx!!!  This made my day as I am a TJ Maxx-a-holic... seriously!  The people that work there know me and my kids from stopping in so often!  (Is that so wrong?!) ;)

I also want to thank Marla for giving my brand new blog a kickstart.  Imagine my surprise when strangers had already started following me before I had even posted!  All because they saw me over on Always Nesting, what a great way to get my name out there.  Please check out Always Nesting, Marla has great ideas for re-purposing items and is such a sweetheart.

Thanks again Marla!! xoxo

New Bamboo Hardwood Flooring

Well... here goes my first attempt into the great blog-o-sphere (or whatever you blog savvy people call this place) :)  

I love to decorate and I love to bargain hunt. And I mean hunt. I never want to pay full price for anything. I'll look at racks and racks of stuff, just to find the best looking goodies for the lowest price.

Lots of my friends ask where I get my decorating ideas and how I do it, so I thought I'd tell the story of how we're decorating and remodeling the house we bought the summer of 2009 - and how we're doing it on a shoestring. And that's what this new blog is all about.

We bought our new home knowing it needed a little TLC.  It's just a few years old, but the last owners were pretty hard on it... and they had a cat.  Nothing against you cat lovers, but my sweet hubby is SUPER allergic to cats so all flooring had to go (it was ugly anyway). 

Literally minutes after we closed on the house, my dad and uncle came over and tore out every single piece of carpet in the place.  We found out the cat really didn't like it's litter box and went wherever it wanted to go (GROSS!).  My hubby and his dad put KILZ all over the floor boards to seal out any nasty stuff that the cat may have left.

We chose a lusiously dark bamboo hardwood flooring to go in our foyer, hall, kitchen and family room.  (This is one of the most expensive projects I will ever blog about.)  We got a great deal on it at Lumber Liquidators but I wouldn't consider it a "cheap" project.  I got a deal on the installation because I have a carpenter uncle so that helped with the budget a bit.

About the bamboo flooring...

I L-O-V-E love the looks of the floor!  They turned out exactly how I wanted them to look.  The downside is that bamboo is soft and the wood dents easily.  This is not so good when you have little kiddos running around throwing sippy cups and matchbox cars on the floor all the time.  These little dents drive the hubby nuts but I say it gives the floor character.  Wood floors are going to scratch and dent, it adds to their charm. :) 

My biggest pet peeve is that the dark floor shows spills and smears of little hands and feet (and big feet) like crazy!! I have to clean this floor way more than our old wood floors at our old house.  We had sort of honey colored wood floors before and I could go for literally a month or more (sshhhh, don't tell!) without giving that floor a good cleaning, just spot cleaning, and you couldn't really notice!  (I didn't know how good I had it!) Not on this dark stuff, now it's wipe-wipe-wipe, all day long.  Thank goodness they are just so dang pretty.

Here are a few before and after photos:

Foyer "before"

I like that my floor matches my table top. :)

Thanks for checking me out, please feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, I really don't know what I'm doing just yet!  Follow me so you can come back soon to see how I glazed and antiqued my kitchen cabinets.

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