Falling for Pumpkin Spice

It's fall time and that means, for me, that I can finally burn my favorite fall candle - Pumpkin Spice!  I love candles but this particular candle smells so good I almost want to eat it...but of course I don't think wax settles well. 

It's smell reminds me of everything fall brings - falling leaves, red, orange, and yellow trees, apple picking, pumpkins, caramel apples, and everything in between.  Only down here in the south I really latch onto the memories of these things since when I walk outside I'm still blasted by summer.  :)
The best part about my Pumpkin Spice candle though is that it's only 5 bucks at Wal-Mart!  One candle lasts me through an entire fall season and I burn it almost everyday.  The aroma even stays in the air for a good hour after I put out the flame.  (Note:  I've found that the pillar candles Wal-Mart makes in this smell don't burn as well...they kind-of melt away and cave in on themselves after a few hours of burning.)

Oh fall weather, how I miss you!  But, thank you $5 candle for wisping me away into my own 'fall wonderland'.  Anyone else have any favorite fall candles or scents?  I've love to collect more!

'Dirt Art'

So there are lots of different kinds of artists out there.  My best friend is an incredible artist who can work wonders with just a piece of paper and a pencil.  My youngest sister's hair is her medium.  Her hair always looks awesome and I revel in the times when I can get her to do mine.  My other sister is also an incredible artist and great at designing almost anything...I'm thinking specifically of her wedding invitations and the design for them she drew out on a loose leaf piece of paper with a pen.  
That brings me to the title of this post, 'Dirt Art'.  If you hand Anthony a pen and paper and tell him to draw a dog, you'll most likely get an two ovals (head and body), four stick legs, and a little tail...which is pretty much the same thing you'd get from me.  But, if you hand him a shovel and give him a little piece of land, you'll get a perfectly manicured bed.  Throw in some trees and flowers and you'll get an outdoor masterpiece.  Such is the case so far...minus the trees and flowers (they're still up and coming.)  Last week I showed y'all the progress we've made turning our 'weed city' into 'pine straw serenity'.  I also wrote about how we wanted to modify the beds a little and add some more appealing curves.  Well, last weekend my artist went at it.
First, he grabbed an can of blue spray paint we had lying around to mark out where exactly he wanted to add some dimension.  Don't worry, no grass was harmed in this project.  :)

    Doing this gives you a line to follow when you're digging out your bed.  Coloring projects always look better when you stay in the lines.  :)

Then he started making the edge.
   Making a sort of 'cliff' for an edge helps keep pine straw or mulch from overflowing into the grass, maintaining a nice, clean line.  This gives a seamless look to the landscaping.  Many people use brick or plastic edging to separate bed from grass and that works too...whatever floats your boat.

Also, the sidewalk up to our porch lands almost down the middle of our landscaping so to create a continuous feeling, my handsome artist designed the beds to look like they flowed one into the other.  It's kind of hard to explain but let me show you:

In the past two weeks our landscaping has gone from weeds and dirt, to pretty beds, to pretty beds with a little more character, and hopefully next week, to a lush conglomeration of color and definition with curb appeal to boot.  :)

Here's the 'Almost' Grand Finale:

A Bean Review: Number1Direct.com

We're big on reviews:  reading those of others to find out about certain products and, when we have time, writing our own to give our two cents and help other prospective buyers.  Reading reviews can help make or break a decision when it comes to buying almost anything.  Knowing the likes, dislikes, quality, and issues about a product by someone who's already used it or tested it (we love Consumer Reports) is a huge step we don't skip over when it comes to buying appliances and other 'big' things.  In this case, we're going to review a website that sells appliances and other such household items directly from the manufacturer...meaning, a lot cheaper than the big stores.  
If you read about our appliance woes a couple of months ago, you know we recently sought and found new appliances.  After looking for deals at Sears, Lowe's, and some other well-known appliance retailers, we found Goedekers.com.  Their prices were a chunk cheaper and they were running a stainless steel appliance deal with GE - get stainless for the same price as color.  So, after checking out lots of reviews on GE appliances (we decided to just replace everything - fridge, dishwasher, stove, and microwave), we decided to give Goedekers our business.  They had tons of different appliances to choose from, which is awesome but picking which models we wanted (and reviewing particular models) took us a little while.  At the time we order the appliances, they were also running a 'free shipping on orders over $999' deal, which I've noticed they run everyday even though it says it'll end 'tomorrow'.  They also told us at checkout that we'd most likely have our appliances within 7 to 14 days.  Well, two months later, ours came in.  I guess that's the thing with ordering direct, if Goedekers doesn't have the item in stock they'll have to order it in from the manufacturer which adds time to your receipt.  Fortunately for us, the only thing we really needed was an oven since ours didn't work but after saving $500, it was worth the wait.  So, if you're in a hurry to get your appliances, you might want to think about ordering them from this website.  We also ordered 4 appliances so only ordering one might be a completely different situation.  We also had to make a switcheroo on our order two weeks after it was placed and while we were waiting for our refrigerator to get to Goedekers from the manufacturer, which added to our wait time.  We ordered a gas stove and then found out our gas line was too small to run to a modern gas stove...something we should've checked before we ordered...oops.  Luckily, the customer service rep was great when I called her telling her about our mistake and changed our order right away without a problem.
As for shipping, we did read one person's review stating that the appliance he ordered arrived at his door banged up.  We were a little leery after reading that but crossed our fingers and hoped our would be okay.  We also read that you should make sure to check out your appliances BEFORE you sign for them to make sure they're okay to avoid any fees associated with shipping them back.  We took comfort in that and made sure to check ours when they came.  We did have an extra 6 day wait due to the fact that, somewhere along the line, our address was communicated incorrectly to the shipping company.  We're not sure if it was Goedekers's fault or ABF (the shipping company) but we're just glad they got here after being re-routed.  We're pretty sure that's a very uncommon problem though...or we hope.
Throughout the two month wait, we were a little antsy about our order since our credit card had been charged a few days after the order was placed so we made sure to call Goedekers every week to find out the status.  Their customer service was always great and answered every question we had.
So after all that mumbo-jumbo, here are our brand-spanking new appliances all set up, except the microwave which is gonna take a few power tools and some DIY carpentry...not to mention free time which has been scarce in this house lately.  :)

Our final two cents on Goedekers.com:  If you have a little time to wrestle with, it's totally worth the wait ordering direct.  It saved us $500 and our bank account is ever grateful!  We'll definitely use them again if we're ever on the hunt for appliances!

A money-saving/earning side note:  Instead of trashing our old, working appliances, we sold them on Craigslist giving us an extra $200 to put towards the cost of our new ones bringing our total saved to $700!  Now that's what we call a VERY good deal!   

Last Weekend's Project: Landscaping

Last weekend I had a burst of energy and decided I would start landscaping in the front of our house.  Anthony had so much reading to do that he really couldn't help but I decided to go ahead anyway, taking what I've learned from watching him landscape, and revamp some of the beds myself.  Unfortunately, when I was uploading the 'after' pictures I took to show y'all the huge transformation, I accidentally saved them over the 'before' pictures I took.  The transformation was so incredible and I'm so sad I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing but I'll try to describe the scene as it was before my landscaping adventure...and use some old pictures that'll help set the stage.
First of all, down here in the south the popular thing to mulch with is pine straw rather than bark chips or other mulching materials.  For most people, pine trees stand tall in their yards so 'recycling' the pine straw that falls from them is easy and free!  In our case, our good friends have over 8 of them growing in their yard which makes for an abundance of straw.  So, because they love us so much they let me rake their yard Saturday morning.  :)  After getting the 7 1/2 bags home, I started on the landscape bed in front of the brick on our house.  

Here's an older picture showing what it looked like before:
     It's a little hard to see the weeds, leaves, and dirt that made up the bed (directly below the brick and two windows) in this picture but hopefully you get the point.  It was hideous and boring.  The first thing I did was dig out all of the weeds.  Then I dug up and out all of the brick edging.  We're more for no edging, just a clean line between the grass and mulch.  Of course, I had pictures to show the entire process from start to finish but they're in recycle bin heaven.  :(  After I got all of the brick edging out, I took a small, square edged shovel and dug a small trench around the perimeter of the bed so that the mulch would stay in the bed and not wander into the grass.  The extra dirt was thrown on the bed to make a sort of slope away from the house...this keeps water from draining towards your house and foundation.  Taking a break from his studies, Anthony helped me spread the pine straw over the bed and, wallah, we were done...for now.  Plants are next on the agenda but won't be in for another month or so.

Here's our finished, but unplanted bed:
   If we have time, we'd like to add some more 'curves' to the edge but already it looks much, much, much better. 

Now we move to the bed in front of the porch.  While I did this bed, Anthony kept me company by sitting on the porch.  I kept wondering what our neighbors thought...yes, he looked like a slave driver, chilling out while his wife did all the hard work.  :)  Little did they know I was born and raised a farm girl...I might not look it but dynamite comes in small packages you know.  So anyways, I did the same thing to this bed only weeding was much worse.  Here's a picture of what it looked like before (only this picture is older and the weeds had grown in really thick and up to my knees):

So after some sweating and shoveling, here's the new, clean, pretty bed:

Just like the other bed, we still have to get some plants in there.  We're also going to extend this bed around the side of the house and add a tree on the corner so keep in touch.

I'm so bummed all of my 'landscaping tutorial' pictures were deleted but if you have any questions, want landscaping ideas, or want to know how to build a basic landscape bed like ours, please email us and we'll share all we know.  Also, stay tuned for the planting and minor modifications to our beds (and for the story on our FREE wicker furniture).  See you next time! 

P.S.  A BIG thank you to the incredible Johnson family without who's pine straw and love, this post would not have been possible!  :) 

Mirror, Mirror

On the wall...or the table...or the countertop...or wherever your heart desires.  But we'll get to that in a minute.  First, we were handed-down this pretty little mirror.
It's a cute little thing that I decided to display on a wall in our bedroom.  The only issue, it's black and gold...our bedroom is blue and white.  I bet you can guess what comes next...yep, spray paint!

To preface my next spray-painting project, let me just say that (in my area anyway) I see so many mirrors in thrift stores just begging for a little TLC.  Don't be fooled if you see a mirror with an ugly frame...those ugly frames can usually become 'frame-tastic' with a little bit of the magic in a can...spray paint! 
Okay, on to how this mirror-painting project went down. 
I consider myself a pretty lazy efficient person and when it comes to painting the frames surrounding mirrors (or windows for that matter), taping is an extra step I feel is a waste of time.  This is how I do it:

Using the spray paint in a well-ventilated area, our backyard in my case, I sprayed on two thin coats to cover my mirror frame.  Of course, since I didn't tape the mirror off, paint got all over the mirror.  But, not to worry.  After the frame was nice and dry I got out some glass cleaner and a razor blade.  I sprayed enough cleaner to get a thin coat over the entire face of the mirror.  Using the razor blade, I simply 'shaved' the paint right off.  

 For this mirror, it took me about a minute to get all of the paint off.  To tape off the entire mirror would've taken me longer to do and is more tedious (in my humble opinion) since you have to make sure your corners are covering the mirror but not overlapping onto your frame...annoying!  So anyways, here's our 'new mirror' in all her reflective glory!

 Soon-to-be flanked by two identical picture frames (which are still sitting in some thrift store ready to be loved), it's a great addition to our light and airy bedroom and reflects even more light into the space.

Here are some other ways to use mirrors:
1.  As a table centerpiece:  smaller mirrors (or larger, depending on the size of your table) look great lying flat on the center of any dining room or coffee table with flowers in a vase and other decorative items placed on top and around them.
2.  On a bathroom countertop:  they serve as a great way to decorate using pretty perfume bottles or other bathroom-related items - soaps, cute soap bars, a shell or two, some pretty jewelry, candles, etc...  Placing them in a guest bathroom gives a cute space in plain sight on which to place things your guests might need. 
3.  As a memo board:  use erase-board markers on a mirror to write love notes, a schedule for the day, reminders, or welcome notes to visitors.  Hang by the back door, in a guest room, office, or any other space you can think of to get reflection and a notepad in one!

Any other ideas to share?  Have you revamped a mirror and put it to good use?  Show and tell!  Send us an email with pictures showing your creativity at work and be admired on our blog!