Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Free Shipping at Anthropologie! Could it be?

I was very surprised to find the following email in my inbox yesterday:

Since when have they EVER done anything like this??? “Simply link your anthro number to a new or existing online account to enjoy the summer off”! Crazy! Their shipping is always outrageous! (as is J Crew’s but that’s neither here nor there) I am so glad they are jumping on this free shipping bandwagon, even if only for a short while. They are actually offering a pretty good deal here since the promotion runs through September 7th!

Luckily I’ve already got one of those anthro cards but I never really thought it had much of a purpose – until now!

Now if only I had money to pay for the things in my imaginary shopping cart! If I were placing an order today, I would get:Yes, I know that would be one full cart but remember this is just an imaginary exercise!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Product Review: Suave Volumizing Shampoo

I bought this shampoo and conditioner on a whim while stocking up on some things at Ulta a few weeks ago. I was looking for the purple Sunsilk (I think its ThermaShine?) and looked everywhere in that store but they do not seem to carry Sunsilk anymore. I swear I've bought it there before but thats neither here nor there. When I couldn't find the Sunsilk, and armed with a 20% off my entire purchase coupon, I decided to try John Frieda's Root Awakening Shampoo and Conditioner. Over the years, I've tried to save money on my shampoo and conditioner and shy away from the $6 smaller bottles that I feel like John Frieda uses. Once again though, I'd heard something good about this, had my coupon, and decided to give it a whirl.
I really liked this product for the first 4 or 5 uses. The minty aromatherapy bonus was nice too but I felt like it made my hair really flat after the first day. Based on the name, I was expecting a lot of volumizing action but that was not the case. Nor do I think it is actually the point of the product, the name is a little misleading if you ask me. I do not wash my hair every single day unless I work out or am doing something special, etc. My hair is thick, not oily at all, and I don't sweat that much so I'm typically a wash every other day girl. By day 2 with this shampoo though, I was not impressed. (also, do any of you ever read those articles that say that people like Heidi Klum and Giselle prefer their hair when it hasn't been washed for 4 or 5 days? GROSS! I guess maybe they are on to something there because my hair will never look like theirs but if thats their secret you can count me out!)

Because I'd just spent more than I would like on the John Frieda duo I was out for a bargain with my replacements and decided to try the Suave Professionals Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner. And boy am I glad! I think these were $1.99 each and I LOVE it! Great bang for your buck. The website says that the shampoo/conditioner combo is formulated to work as a duo and provide results similar to those achieved with Matrix Amplify Shampoo and Conditioner. I have never tried the Matrix version but this Suave one is great! I feel like the shampoo gets my hair really clean and does not leave any build up and the conditioner isn't too heavy at all. Winner!
I'm all about trying to save where I can these days and while on the Suave website I saw that they also have a clinical strength deodorant. I may have to try this out also because that Secret Clinical Strength is $$$! I'll let you know how it goes...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Review: Change of Heart

It took me longer than normal to get into this Jodi Picoult book - I did read My Sister's Keeper in three days DURING the work week. That was a book I could not put down, I took it everywhere I went and even stopped into Starbucks a time or two when I had 20 to 30 minutes to kill just to read more and see what would happen next. Talk about a pageturner! Sidenote: I don't know about you but while reading My Sister's Keeper I never in a million billion years would have pictured Cameron Diaz as the mom. Interesting casting choice. I guess she's got to break out of those silly, somewhat annoying, 20-something roles sometime. After all, the girl is going to be 37 this year - how is that even possible?? No wonder she needed to go ahead and get a more serious act, I think her days of being able to pull off a "What Happens In Vegas" or "The Sweetest Thing" are definitely over! (and in looking up her age I just realized she has the same bday as my mom...interesting...)

So back to the task at hand, Change of Heart. As I said before, it was a little harder to get into than your normal Jodi Picoult but it was so interesting and so worth it in the end. (And by the end I was rushing home at lunch and after work to keep does she do that EVERY time??) There isnt' a ton of action but in true Picoult fashion, she never diappoints with the twists and turns. This book also had a lot of issues involving law and religion. You could tell she really had to do her homework when writing this one. It left lots of room for discussion and really made you think about how you would react to certain situations.

Last night was our book club meeting to discuss this book. Of course there was not much actual 'book discussion' going on but we did manage to get a little more in than normal. We also surprised one of our book club members with a surprise baby book shower! Two girls in our club came up with the idea and we all thought it was so cute. We couldn't wait to go out and buy fun childrens' books. The hostess, Heather, even got all these fun teddy bear cookies with blue sprinkles and petit fours and pecan cookies with blue icing. She had all of it out on a table where everyone was putting their gifts when they waked in and luckily when the guest of honor, Ali, walked in, she didn't even notice! She was really surprised when we walked her back into the living room for her shower and she realized she'd missed the pile of gifts and blue desserts!

Everyone brought such cute books - it was so fun to see what each person brought and hear about what they remember reading when they were little. This will be a very well read baby boy!

Some of our favorites were:

The book club selection for next month is "Drowning Ruth" by Christina Schwarz. I've got to start that soon...
(I'm taking a break from the house post today - I promise to do the master bath and the recipes from the housewarming party soon!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kitchen and Dining Room!

So today we're moving on to the kitchen and dining you can see in the pictures below, we had quite a project ahead of us!

The picture above is of an island that was sticking out into the kitchen and some cabinets that were above it. We felt like it really closed the room off and decided to take it out and open up the wall a little more between the kitchen and dining room.

And the wall is gone!

We also took down the furdown above the cabinets and redid the entire ceiling to accommodate more lights.

My happy brother aka "the contractor"

All of the wood in the kitchen was stripped and sanded. Then molding was added to the tops and bottoms of the cabinets as well as to the cabinet doors and drawers themselves.

Additional upper cabinets were built around the microwave as well as an additional lower cabinet to go on the other side of the stove.

My brother and dad also built this amazing bar/island from scratch!

This is the view from the inside of the kitchen. This is now my 'party cabinet'. I keep all my fun serving dishes, cocktail napkins and WINE right here! Love it!

Now we've got some color on the cabinets!

It was important to us to keep the island/bar looking like its own special piece of furniture so it was painted black instead of the dark brown and also is supported on little feet instead of being flush with the floor.

Almost done! The backsplash was another great addition that we almost skipped. I feel like it just makes a huge statement now and I love having the under cabinet lighting to show it off!

We've got can lights in the ceiling as well as under cabinet lights and lighting above the cabinets - apparently my contractor has a thing for lights!

This garden window was a real eye sore until we jazzed it up with some fun curtains and bright accessories. Now its just my "fun" window and gives me something cheery to look at while doing dishes.
The truly finished island/bar. We also put special hardware on this piece to distinguish it from the rest of the cabinets. You can't tell in this picture but there are little grape clusters on the hardware.

And this is what is lurking on the other side of the kitchen - the breakfast room! We did reduce the size from the original breakfast room but we gained a much bigger kitchen, more counter space and a much more open feel for the whole layout downstairs. I love the stained glass fixture above the table!

And now we move on to the dining room. As you can see whoever choose this floor was either very creative or very indecisive. We've got granite, marble and bamboo going on here!

As I said before, we opened up more of the kitchen my removing part of the wall in the dining room and creating that island/bar into the kitchen. So now the large green wall that you see in this picture is only about 2/3 of that size.

The window above looks out onto the screen porch and really took up a lot of valuable wall space that was lacking in the dining room.

So we closed it in....also if you look back at the picture above this one, you will see another window to the left looking out onto the screen porch...that one was in a wet bar that will soon be a computer nook so it was a goner too.

Here's a view of the 'after' from the screen porch:
And here's the finished dining room and screen porch!

I love love love spending time out here in the evenings and even occasionally eat lunch out here - it makes me feel like I'm on vacation!

House stuff!

So this weekend I had an unveiling/housewarming party at my house! It was so fun to have people over and show them around and discuss all the projects we took on. I loved getting to play 'hostess' in the new place! The company was perfect, the food was great and we all had a really good time.

I know I've kind of been hinting around about a major before and after post on this house project and today I will begin! I had to do lots of cleaning before having people over so it was a good excuse to take some really good 'after' pictures. I do have to preface these 'before' pics because they are a MESS! The house had been vacant for about a year and was just trashed when we first looked at it. So they're all pretty bad! Makes for quite a transformation though...

I'm going to start with the living room and dining room today and then move to other rooms throughout the week and also post about all the yummy food we had at the housewarming party! I had so much fun cooking and planning everything and it meant a lot to me that my friends gave up their Sunday evening to come hang out and see what I'd been up to with this big project. I can't wait to have people over again!
Here we go!

The pictures above are of the living room "Before". As you can see it was quite a mess! The living room was carpeted and sunken in about 6 inches. One of the first things we did was rip that carpet out and fill in the 'hole' with concrete to make the whole house level.

Big change from before! My brother is quite the handyman and did all the carpentry/cabinet work in the's how we got from the 'before' to the 'after' in the living room...

The stairs were another huge undertaking. We weren't quite sure what we wanted to do exactly but we did know that this was not the look we were going for...(I apologize for the dark picture!)
We toyed with keeping the stairs open but then ultimately decided that wasn't the best idea. We were all really pushing for the stained banisters/wrought iron look but weren't sure how that would work out with the budget. One day my dad just decided to go for it though and we walked in to find that he had removed the banisters!

Not long after that, my brother learned how to build a staircase all on his own and started this huge highly detail oriented carpentry project - lucky for me that is what he is best at!

And finally......TA DA!!!
This staircase really added a big 'wow' factor to the house - I LOVE it!
I think tomorrow I will move on to the dining room and kitchen - we did a LOT of work there!