Archive for August, 2012
***This giveaway is now closed – see who won below!***
Thanks to random.org, the person who’s about to experience $750 worth of bliss is… Eryka (who also finds bliss in clean sheets and sleeping in!). Congrats!
Who doesn’t love a good house splurge? Especially when it’s blissfully free because you win it. This week’s prize comes from Bliss Home & Design, a high-end home furnishings boutique that curates luxurious furniture, accessories, bedding, and antiques that blend old-world craftsmanship and timeless style. Basically, tons of statement pieces that can take any corner of your room and immediately posh it up. And did I mention that they’re giving away a $750 store credit? Not a bad way to get your bliss on if you ask me.
- PRIZE: A $750 credit to Bliss Home & Design
- TO ENTER: Comment on this post with the words “BLISS ME” and tell us…
- BONUS QUESTION: … your idea of pure bliss at home. Is it enjoying a quiet cup of coffee before the rest of the family wakes up? Kicking back with a stack full of magazines in your favorite chair? Snuggling up to watch a movie in the dark with a big bowl of popcorn?
- GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Wednesday, Aug 29th at 8pm EST or at 10,000 entries (whichever comes first)
- NUMBER OF WINNERS: One
- PRIZE SHIPS: The United States (although we do try to wrangle as many international giveaways as possible)
- DISCOUNT: 15% off your first order with code YHLBHD15 (through Sept 30)
- USUAL STUFF: One entry per e-mail address is permitted. The winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Thursday as an update to this post. That’s right, come right back here on Thursday for the announcement of our winner. Good luck…
Remember when I shared our
possessed painting that jumped off the wall cheap painting that we got for $20 at a yard sale…
… and mentioned that we:
- mostly liked the size of it and the chunky frame (which actually came with a little dent in it – a total sign that this guy was a trouble-maker)
- weren’t in love with the art itself (it just felt sort of generic and hotel-ish in person)
Yes? Me too.
And then remember when a bunch of you (seriously, like at least a dozen of you guys) recommended that we do some sort of letter stenciling over it like this genius creation by Emily Von Henderson or this masterpiece by A Beautiful Mess (psst – you can check out other awesome painting-words-over-things art projects here, here, and here).
Yes? Me too.
Well… we were sold. And the deed is DONE! We debated just leaving the letters unpainted and covering the rest of the canvas with white paint, but actually liked the idea of white letters with the painting as the background, so here she blows:
It was actually really simple. Seriously, the hardest thing was deciding what we wanted our dining room wall to be saying to us every day. But we finally landed on an oldie but a goodie: All You Need Is Love. Ain’t that the truth? It somehow has:
- an ode to one of my favorite bands (my dad and I know nearly every word to every album & even watch old Beatles movies together)
- part of our blog name (same last name, haha)
- a positive general message (it’s not a bad reminder for any of us)
- a classic feeling that we hope is timeless (it shouldn’t feel “so last year” like Lady Gaga’s meat dress or The Bieb’s old haircut)
So for all of the above reasons, we went for it. The next step was faking this baby in photoshop first, just to help us picture it. Here’s a quick photoshop rendering that I threw together to see what we liked:
I definitely don’t think you need photoshop to visualize this though. We just had it on hand, but if you don’t I think a free program like gimp could work equally well just for laying type over a basic image and seeing what fries your bacon. Aaaand we’re back to meat.
Anyway, we realized that we wanted each letter to be about 5″ tall and the typeface we preferred was Optima Bold (with a point size of 507 which got it to be exactly 5″ tall). How did we know we needed the letters to be 5″ tall? I just noticed in the rendering above that the stripe of green in the middle of the painting was about the height of those letters on top of it. So I walked over to the painting, asked it not to jump off the wall on me, and very gingerly measured that green stripe. Five inches tall = the answer.
Then I printed each letter out in a very light grayscale ink (to save money/ink) on card stock (only one letter fit on each page, but I saved all my leftover cuttings for Clara-projects so it wasn’t too bad) and I was left with this:
After I cut them each out carefully with a scissors (and an x-acto knife when they had interior sections to cut like the O and the D), they looked like this:
Then I placed them all on my painting so I could figure out the spacing…
… and used a light pencil line traced around each one directly onto the painted canvas.
That way when I lifted them off it was literally just a good old fashioned game of fill-in-the-lines, which I did with white acrylic paint and a small craft brush.
It only took one coat, and that’s all she wrote.
The result = something that feels modern but still has those soft tones and texture behind it. It really is a fun way to update a piece that kinda feels hotel-ish and mass produced. All of a sudden it’s all yours (picking what it says, and even choosing things like the size, the color, and the typeface suddenly makes you feel like it’s sweet and personal).
Oh and I had originally planned to paint the frame white but the wood tones in the frame tie into the exact warm oak-y color of the buffet where the paint is chipping off, so there’s something kind of sweet about leaving him naked. And John was on the No-Paint Frame Train (choo choo) so he further convinced me to leave it be for now. I’m actually loving it as-is.
As for the cost, this update was free (since we just used what we had on hand like existing printer ink, white acrylic paint, and card stock from our stash) and the actual project total was $20 if you include the loot we doled out at that yard sale for the art itself. Not bad for a personalized painting that’s over three feet wide, right? Now let’s just hope this guy doesn’t dive off the wall again anytime soon. I like to think he did that out of boredom but now that he’s more entertained by his outfit it’ll be cool from now on.
This really was an easy, cheap, and satisfying project. So if you have an old canvas, print, photo, or poster that you’re feeling meh about (or you find something ok-but-not-amazing at a thrift store) a $2 tube of white acrylic paint, a small paint brush, and a printer might be all you need to fall in love with the guy. Oh yeah and a scissors. You need those too. And you need a sentence that you like enough to stare at for a while. But that’s the fun part!
What did you guys do this weekend? Is anyone else painting over art? Were you all out yard sale-ing? It rained for about 70% of our weekend, so I totally want a do-over. Who’s with me?
One of the most common questions on instagram/Facebook/Twitter when we share a photo isn’t “what paint color is that?” or “who makes that lamp?” – it’s “where did you get that shirt/dress/skirt?” – and they’re not talking about me (or John)… they’re talking about Clara. Yes, there have been a bunch of requests for a post about how we score deals/save money in the kid clothing department along with where we get her clothes. So whoop, here it is. And thanks to all of those aforementioned instagram photos that we’ve shared, we have a whole bunch of shots to use throughout this rundown.
Admittedly it’s kinda weird to analyze your kid’s clothing in so much detail (she’s two! we just buy things we think are cute and try to save money when we can) but I realized when I was writing this up that we’ve actually learned a decent amount over the last two years of dressing a tiny person. And there are definitely things we wish we had known in the beginning, which would have saved us money and time – so maybe they’ll help someone else out there. So without further ado, the story of Clara’s clothes, as told by our instagram feed…
Most of Clara’s clothing comes from these four places:
- Hand me downs from her sweet cousin Elsa (or the three year old who lives next door)
- Old Navy (usually on the clearance rack or purchased with a coupon)
- Target (always on the clearance rack)
- H&M (they have the cutest stuff, especially summery dresses)
Of course she also occasionally gets things as gifts or we get gift cards to a place like The Gap for our birthdays (and spend the money in their kids department instead of on ourselves). And we’ve also ducked into other stores from time to time, like the Carter’s Outlet near John’s parents’ beach house. But I’d definitely say the majority of her stuff comes from the four sources above. Like the dress in the picture above (from the clearance rack at Target) for example.
It was actually a birthday gift for her from John’s sister Emily, but we love that she knows one of our favorite Clara-clothing spots (I think it was around $6). It’s a size 2T, which should last Clara at least a year (we can add jeggings underneath to carry it into colder temps or to cover things up if it gets shorter as she grows). And it might seem obvious, but we’ve finally realized that dresses are often the most bang for our buck in the clothing department since they’re just one piece (so instead of finding a cheap t-shirt for $4 with cheap shorts for $4, that dress is an entire outfit for $6).
Here is a dress from H&M, which was $12. Initially I thought that was expensive (I’m cheap, so I like things in the single digits – anything over ten makes me flinch, haha) but Clara has worn the heck out of it. Probably at least once a week for the entire summer so far. So by the end of its life I’d guess the cost per wear will probably be around fifty cents. And if we hand it down to a future kiddo it could be even less.
Unlike a Beverly Hills housewife, Clara wears her outfits a whole bunch of times. You might see her petting goats in something one week…
… and playing with Barbies in the same outfit a week or two later.
This is a clearance skirt from The Gap and a white top from Old Navy. I think this outfit total was around $7 ($4 for the skirt and $3 for the top). Basically the top + bottom equation with her is usually: colorful blousey top + basic jeggings/dark jeans OR colorful skirt or pink/yellow jeans + basic top (like this white ruffled tank top). Something sort of classic with something else that’s bright and fun. That way it’s not too boring or too crazy, it’s a little bit of each. And when it comes to trying to “make” outfits from random items that she has in her drawers like a pair of jeggings or a cute t-shirt, I can now make pairings pretty much on autopilot with that general equation. So as weird as it is to have a “Clara clothing formula” it saves us time (and money spent on things that wouldn’t fit in as easily). And she seems to really like her clothes (last night while going to visit her grandparents she said she couldn’t wait to show them her “pretty pretty dress”).
Another great example of that equation would be one of my favorite Clara outfits ever. See how the basic printed t-shirt (featuring a Burger lookalike from the J Crew Outlet) + a girly ruffled soft pink skirt (a hand-me-down from the girl next door) can add up to something playful and sweet at the same time? Especially when paired with a RAD tattoo. Haha.
Another example of this would be one of my favorite shirts (from Old Navy for around $8), which you can see in this picture. It’s blousy and flowy and Clara LOVES it. Everything from the big sleeves with the scalloped trim on the bottom to the colorful flowers float her boat. So we pair it with basic jeggings or jeans most of the time. Just because it’s an easy foolproof outfit. And it keeps me from having to buy more specific bottoms that “match” it (ex: purple pants, orange capris) since we have enough classic items like jeans/jeggings in our drawers that already work with it.
Here’s yet another example of girly/bold/patterned bottoms with something basic on top. This is an outfit I found at the Carter Outlets in Delaware when we stopped there over Memorial Day. I think it was under $10 total for both pieces (total) and Clara has easily worn this at least eight times since then.
When it comes down to numbers, Clara usually has 10-12 “good outfits” in rotation, which is just a number that seems to work well for us since we do laundry once a week and she has some other “messy outfits” that we’ll put her in before doing anything crazy like painting or running around in the mud. So it’s not like she changes clothes three times a day and needs 30 good dresses and pants and tops. I’d say 95% of the time, she wears one outfit all day long. So since 10-12 outfits isn’t really that many, we try not to go for quantity, but for quality. Not by spending a ton of money on the item itself (goodness knows kids get things dirty and grow out of things all the time) but by trying to stay “focused” on things that work well for us (especially Clara) – so she doesn’t end up with dresser stuffed full of mismatched deals with no real pairings or purpose.
We didn’t always follow this technique. When she was smaller we used to go for quantity, so if Old Navy was having a t-shirt sale I’d get three for eight bucks instead of one dress for eight bucks on the sale rack. But as Clara grew we realized that a bunch of clothes that you don’t love (and that you didn’t necessarily buy as an “outfit”) aren’t as easy to use or love as trying to keep your focus and only buying things that you’ll end up reaching for them again and again. One easy question I ask myself before I buy something for her is “will this be something I put in our ‘favorite outfits’ drawer, or will it end up in the middle drawer with a bunch of on-sale mismatched items that she never wears?”
This is a tee we got on clearance from Old Navy with a red skirt from The Gap that Clara got as a gift… wait for it… over a year ago.
So another one of our learned-along-the-way tips would be to ignore the size on the labels when it comes to retiring items of clothing and just go by how they fit. This skirt actually says 12 months in the label, but it still fits her comfortably (and although it’s a little short it has built-in bloomers for toddler modesty, haha). So instead of just stashing it in the tupperware bins in our attic (where we store all of the clothes she has outgrown – more on that here) I’m cool with her wearing it as long as it comfortably fits. We’ve gotten at least one “bonus year” of wear from it already, so I’m psyched. Saves us from buying another one until she truly outgrows it.
Here’s the opposite application of that last tip. If something is too big, you’ll get more wear out of it by figuring out how to get your kiddo into it sooner if at all possible (two summers of use from a dress instead of one = added value). So when I slipped this $8 Target dress onto Clara and it was way too big (the straps were so stretchy the neckline slipped down below her chest), I tried turning it so one of the arm straps went around her neck like a halter. The other strap got tucked into the elastic back of the dress, which doesn’t seem to bother Clara at all, and now she can wear this dress now, and hopefully next year too with her arms where they’re meant to go.
This is another dress from H&M (it was $11). It’s hard to tell from this photo, but it has a pretty eyelet detail on the bottom and it’s a soft blue seersucker material. One thing to notice from the picture is that Clara has a favorite pair of shoes, and it’s her pink Crocs. So those are what she wears 95% of the time.
It has saved us a ton of money to recognize that the girl has a favorite pair of shoes (we used to buy her a bunch of different kinds and she always requested the same ones, to the point that she’d outgrow perfectly pristine shoes without ever wearing them since she favors her Crocs so much). But now we’ve realized that they’re her shoe of choice and we’re ok with pairing them with almost any outfit. Sure, navy shoes might be cuter with this blue dress, but pink crocs send out that “these are the shoes I like” vibe, which we’re cool with.
This dress is from Old Navy. It was $6 on clearance and after stacking additional coupons on top it was $4 at the register. Woot. I always keep Old Navy coupons in a little file folder in my purse (more on that here) so I basically never buy anything there without using a coupon since they pop up in the mail all the time.
In general our theory on dressing Clara is that we want her to be comfortable and cute. We could always spend more, and definitely could spend less, but after two years we think the $6-12 per outfit range is the sweet spot for us. We’ve also finally figured out the stores we like and how things fit her (ex: 3T jeans and PJs at Old Navy fit her like a dream, 2T dresses are better for her from almost everywhere, etc). This is helpful because it saves us money and time (had we invested in three more pairs of 2T pjs without knowing that 3T fits her better, she would have outgrown them faster and we’d be back at the store buying more).
This outfit is all Old Navy. The top was $4 and the jeggings were 2/$7 (so it was $3.50 for this pair). I’d say Clara’s “summer uniform” has been sundresses and the occasional skirt and top, but for the spring, fall, and winter, jeggings and dark denim jeans (along with a few pairs of colorful jeans – in pink & yellow) have been awesome.
And in case you’re wondering, Clara totally goes shopping with us. Her favorite spot ever = the fake family at the front of our Old Navy. She literally runs towards them and says “I see the children and the dog!” and even lifts up the girl’s shirt to look for her belly button.
This is one of my favorite instagram photos ever, and Clara’s wearing a hand-me-down shirt from the girl who lives next door. I thought the checkers on her shirt looked so cute with John’s checked shirt while they were lying in bed, and I’m so glad I grabbed this shot. Makes me melt. And even though you can’t see the rest of this outfit, since Clara’s hair has yet to grow in and she sometimes gets mistaken for a boy, her pink crocs help to add some girl power. Not because we’re weird about gender stuff and covering her in pink, just because we like to throw strangers a bone so they don’t blush profusely after calling her a boy. And Clara actually says “pink and yellow” when you ask her what her favorite colors are. So those definitely get worked in a fair amount when it comes to her clothes.
So that ends our little Clara clothing rundown. I hope our weird analysis of why/what we buy and how many we get/how much we spend somehow helped folks out there who were wondering! What are your favorite kid clothing stores? Do you have any money-saving tips? Or do you have a magic number of “good outfits” that carry you through the week without making you feel overwhelmed (or making your drawers feel overstuffed)?
Psst – I’m obsessed with this beach house. How pretty is it?! Thanks to the sweet reader who suggested the link. I’ve had the page open for days.