Wednesday, March 25, 2015

cannon rebel t5i giveaway with the freckled fox.

today i am very, VERY excited to share the AMAZING group giveaway over on the freckled fox. emily always puts together the best giveaways, and this time, shes really outdone herself! together we have a canon rebel t5i up for grabs, so be sure to take a few minutes to enter to win, as well as say hello to emily and all the other wonderful ladies sponsoring the giveaway!

ill let emily take over from here: 

Hey friends!! It's been many months since we've done a camera giveaway here on the blog, and I have had so many people asking when we'll be doing one again that I couldn't wait to stick on on here. There's one big difference with this giveaway from all the others though, and it's that we're not giving away a Rebel T3i today, we're giving away a T5i!
It's an amazing feeling to send off such an amazing camera to one of you guys, knowing what a massive difference it will make for your blog or shop, or just every-day photography in general:) Even better than that though, is introducing so many of you to this group of such lovely shops, and such hard-working and inspiring woman! I can't tell you how relationships online have influenced my life for the better, so make sure to take a minute and go say hi!
Dressing Dallas      |     Emma Cristy      |     Hello Rigby     |     Dottie Box
I'm so privileged to have the support of such an awesome group! There are so many involved because we wanted to amp up the prize package, so settle in with a favorite beverage or snack and don't miss out on any of the many entries! You never know which one could be the winning pick!! Here we go:

A couple specs about the giveaway:
- the giveaway will run for ten days after which the winner will be selected at random, contacted, and announced via this post, the post of the day, and all social media outlets! Please check all those places before asking weeks later who won? :)
- Again this is open internationally! hooray!
The winner will receive the Canon Rebel T5i in a kit with an 18-135mm lens, a battery and a battery charger, camera case, tripod, SD card, lens cleaner, and lens hood:) 
- Winner's entry will be verified before the public announcement.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

a trip to ikea, a lesson in marriage, and furniture anxiety.

last week was spring break for me, and it could not have come at a better time: ive been (very slowly) recovering from what i affectionately call the eternal cough of death, fibromyalgia and pregnancy have ganged up on me in a ridiculous fashion, alice has been going through an exceptionally difficult phase, and there has been a completely unreasonable and un called for heat wave. 

but im not really complaining, because for the most part (physical unpleasantness aside), spring break was pretty nice. im technically kind of ahead in both of my classes, so i didnt have any school things to think about, so between getting out of class last wednesday and today we were able to: go to the beach, do a craft fair, go out to dinner with jamess mom, go to disneyland, make significant progress on our de-cluttering goals, go to ikea, AND go on our very first mini-getaway as a family for a dear friends wedding. obviously im going to talk more about our trip later, but today i want to talk about our trip to ikea. 

because, as we all know, there is no such thing as just a trip to ikea. 

ikea isnt a furniture store, ikea is a relentless gauntlet that will, given the opportunity, destroy everything you hold dear: your patience, focus, sanity, self control, endurance, memory, pride, reading comprehension, and (should you be brave enough to go with your spouse/children/friends/any number of family members) any and all relationships. and no matter what your original intentions were by going to ikea, ikea will break you, and you will become what ikea wants you to be. if you think im being dramatic, youve obviously never been to ikea. 

now i AM very pleased to say that james, alice, and i made it out of ikea last week not only alive, but also still married, with a variety of household problems solved AND minimal financial damage. 

it just... wasnt the trip we planned. 

see, we planned on trying/comparing mattresses and making sure the bed frame we picked online was what we actually wanted, as well as checking out options/pricing out the pieces that would help with some other assorted household needs. 

three hours and $200 later, we left with very little progress on our bed situation (bed frame we want is out of stock for at least another week, and we cant buy the mattress unless we have a bed to put it on), a huge and completely unrelated home project, a list of things to save up for that was significantly longer than the list we walked in with, and a very, very important lesson about our marriage. 

the lesson: james and i have totally 100% different ways of looking at and solving problems, and that is totally 100% ok. 

im the type that sees an existing problem, thoroughly considers possible solutions, spends a long time thinking/talking about what the best possible solution would be, and then waits until that problem is completely solved before moving on to the next one. james is the type that sees a problem, tries to solve it as quickly as possible, and in the process of solving problem A, proceeds to identify and/or cause problems B, C, and D, and moves on to them before were even able to get anywhere with problem A. 

i went to ikea with the intention of ONLY working on the solution we had discussed for problem A (our new bed), and possibly a few small things (dishes, baking pans, picture frames, etc.). in that process, james managed to (among other things): decide he wants a new couch, find a set of dressers that both match the new bed and would hold our clothes in a smaller footprint then our current dresser, point out that our computer chair totally sucks and we need a new one, suggest that we buy a bunch of shelves because we could probably use some despite not having places or measurements on hand, and notice that an actual dresser rather than credenza or sideboard would be a better replacement for the hi-fi in the living room. 

now i had to be very, VERY firm that NOTHING on that list was reasonable/within our budget for the foreseeable future (except possibly the dressers once we get the bed all taken care of), and basically spent the entire trip being a mean old mom not letting anyone have any fun. we were there to check out our options for the bed and i COULD NOT handle  contemplating/budgeting for/starting any new projects before we even started on the first one without having a total anxiety blowout. i think james sort of understood this and was generally a good sport about my no-saying and note-taking. 

but then we got to the as-is section. and there it was: a white 6-drawer MALM dresser, just like james said would be perfect for the living room, already assembled and $50 off. i said it wouldnt fit in the car and i couldnt deal with doing the living room right this second and we werent planning on buying furniture on that trip. james said he could get it tied to the roof, it wouldnt be that big of a project since we didnt have to build it, and when would we ever have just the piece we need right in front of us for $100 (especially since we had anticipated spending $200-300 on a sideboard) again. 

he pulled the trigger and we bought the dresser. we got it home safely and re-arranged/cleaned out a bunch of the living room, solving an entirely different problem than the one we had planned/talked about/went to ikea to solve. and the bedroom situation wasnt a total loss, since we do now have the shopping list for when the bed frame we picked comes back in stock. 

most importantly though, we really learned something about working as a team. if we had done everything my way, we would have come home empty handed and frustrated. if we had done everything jamess way, we would have come home broke and overwhelmed. but together, we were able to combine our strengths and weaknesses to get some serious work done. and thats what marriage is all about, right? 

now, of course, weve done a huge amount of changing things in the living room that i was not prepared for, within the next couple weeks well get going with the new bed, and now we have dressers on the books for our next big home project. 

and all this change is giving me major furniture anxiety. yes, i said furniture anxiety. is that a thing? im totally making that a thing right now. 

moving and changing so much of our furniture in such a short time is totally freaking me out. nevermind that this is all stuff that weve planned/budgeted for for a very long time. nevermind that we totally need this stuff. never mind that this is literally the first time ever in our entire life together that weve been able to pick out furniture that we actually like. i just cant hang. 

so stay tuned for more breaking news as the ikea trips continue and my furniture anxiety escalates, i promise its going to be hilarious! 

also there may be some fun before-and-after type posts, i know how the internet loves before-and-after posts...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

two years of poverty luxe.

i didnt realize that today was such a significant day. 

i mean, i knew we were going to be trying our hand at selling (rather than just visiting) the silverlake flea market. which, for obvious reasons, i was nervous and apprehensive about. i dont like taking risks, especially financially, and well, this one... im not sure how i feel about this one and how it went. 

i also knew it was pi day, because of all the puns on the internet. 

but then i looked at my time hop app (which, when youve been as active on as many social networks for as many years as i have can be quite entertaining), i noticed that march 14th is actually a day for some really big anniversaries: one year ago today i got my jamberry consultant kit in the mail and took my first steps at becoming legitimately self employed. but more importantly two years ago today i posted the very first blog post here on poverty luxe. 

two years is kind of a long time. especially for someone like me thats not so great at sticking with things. generally speaking, a lot can happen in two years. a lot can change in two years. for me and these particular two years, so much has happened and changed that i almost dont even recognize the person who wrote that first (terrible, terrible) blog post. i mean, i know that i wrote it, i remember writing it, but that person, thats just not who i am anymore. today that hit me like a ton of bricks, and i am so, so thankful. 

two years ago i finally braved the first post on the blogger page that i had set up probably a good year and a half beforehand. i wrote that first post because i was miserable. yeah, you read that right. miserable. 

after barely surviving the first year and a half of our marriage in a terrible town with terrible job situations and being taken advantage of by a very, very terrible church, then crawling back to my hometown with a new baby to start our entire life over from scratch, we faced trial after trial and hardship after hardship and there was not even the tiniest glimmer of hope to be found: i was trying to figure out marriage and motherhood WAY too late because we had started with no legitimate support and the literal worst premarital counseling that has ever happened. james had miraculously gotten a new job that was supposed to solve all our problems, but that was going to take about four years to actually happen. i had a job that i absolutely hated, but because of jamess irregular schedule and the fact that we really needed the money, i was stuck there. we had struggled financially since the day wed gotten married, and still, we were barely keeping the bills paid in our tiny, gross apartment (which i also hated). as a result i had really lost touch with anything even remotely resembling the interests and hobbies and things that i had enjoyed in the past, and everything that i had hoped for the future (going back to school, relaunching my craft business, having more babies), was on hold indefinitely. the one thing i did have going for me though, was that i had gotten really, really good at being poor. that was the closest thing i had to being my "thing". so i wrote that blog post. i couldnt actually make my life the way i wanted it to be but i could find the one thing that didnt suck and focus on being happy about that. and it felt good, so i kept doing it. 

blogging didnt immediately make everything magically perfect. actually, a lot of things got a lot worse before anything started getting better (and frankly blogging didnt have a whole lot to do with that either). but blogging gave me the first positive outlet i had had in a very long time. it gave me a space to be creative when i didnt have the time or the space to make things like i used to. it introduced me to this whole other kind of community where i could make new friends based on mutual interests rather than just being at the same mommy and me class. it helped me see that even though i didnt always feel like things were working, i was, in fact, making it work. it inspired me to do more with what i had and showed me that i could make something out of nothing. 

its been two years exactly and today james and i spent the day vending at one of the biggest craft fairs ive ever done, james and i are able to work on things together, i dont work at joanns anymore, james is more than halfway through those four hard years, were comfortably paying all our bills (even though we do still live in the same apartment), im halfway done with my third semester of fashion school, and our new baby will be born in just a few more months. i am not miserable anymore. things are actually looking up. 

is our life perfect now? no. 

did blogging do all of this? heck no. 

would we have been able to get this far this quickly if it werent for everything ive learned and gained from blogging? probably not. 

i havent built an empire and forged a new career and made all the money from this blog (because i have seen it happen in far less time then ive had here), but still, i am no less thankful for it. heres to the next two years of poverty luxe. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

5 tips for making a grocery list that will actually save you money.

last week we talked about groceries and i walked you through the way we make our meal plans, which has totally saved us tons of money (and time!), which is totally awesome. now what if i told you that just the way you write your grocery list could help you save even more? well it totally can! and as an added bonus, being intentional and methodical with your grocery list will also save you loads of time, and who doesnt like spending less time running errands? 

so, are you ready? lets go!

(again i do feel the need to disclaimer that every single family and situation is different and i can not guarantee any specific results. however, i do firmly believe that these steps really can help control grocery spending)

1. start with a plan. remember last week when i told you how we make our meal plans? you can do that, or you could do whatever works for you. either way, make sure you know what you need. 

2. make it detailed. whatever you do dont make a super vague list that looks like this: "bread, cheese, fish, vegetables", that list is just begging for mistakes. expensive and time wasting mistakes like buying too much of one thing or forgetting another or the wrong kind of another thing. being as specific as possible with the brands, types, and quantities of the foods you need when youre making your list goes a LONG way in making sure that youre getting exactly what you need. 

3. organize it by section. ok maybe this sounds totally OCD, but hear me out: organizing your grocery list by department (meats, dairy, produce, breakfasts, etc.) not only saves you money but keeping you out of sections you dont need to go into, it also saves you time by keeping you from backtracking through the store when you realize that the random thing at the bottom of your list is clear on the other side of the store. its totally worth the ten extra seconds to keep your list organized. 

4. if you use coupons/price matching, pull that out in advance. look, nobody wants to be in line behind that person with the disorganized wallet full of coupons and flyers for price matching all over the place. if thats how you want to shop, get all that stuff together with your list and only go to the store with what you need. im serious, dont even take the extra coupons to the store with you. coupons arent saving you any money if theyre making you buy things that arent on your list. 

5. stick. to. your. list. look, i know that impulse purchases happen and sometimes theres just awesome stuff on that clearance rack. but at the same time, if it wasnt important enough to be part of your plan/on your list, how much did you really need it? yeah... didnt think so...

so yeah, by applying these five steps (and making them a habit), you can totally transform your grocery list from a measly scrap of paper into a magical tool for saving both time and money. how awesome is that? 

how do you feel about grocery lists? do you have anything to add? 

Monday, March 2, 2015

february goal check-in.

happy first monday of march! ive been a big fan of mondays and the fresh start to a new week, and the first monday of every month is DEFINITELY my favorite, since its a new week AND a new month. SO many possibilities for new goals and plans! though this year, i did things differently and instead of focusing my time and energy on small, bite sized weekly and monthly goals, i made big, subtle, long term goals for 2015. and unfortunately, i quickly got discouraged. i didnt feel like i was making "enough" progress, and because i already had goals i was working on, i didnt want to distract myself by making new little goals every week/month. 

but just the other day i figured out a way to combine these two problems into a solution, that, for the rest of the year, should be a big help to keep me motivated and focused on my big goals for the year, as well as to help encourage any of my readers that might also find themselves in a season of slowly working through long term goals: 

at the beginning of every new month (tentatively scheduled for the first monday of the month), im going to check in on the progress we made on our goals for the year, however big or small, and take a minute to share any plans we have for the next baby steps. it may not always be big and exciting stuff, but it will at least be a way to keep an eye on what we have done and the progress we are making, as well as not letting those goals sit around getting ignored because they arent getting "done" fast enough. 

so where do we stand with our big goals? (you can read more about what they are here, here, and here)

blog goals: 

solidify brand and content: this one is actually done! ive been planning and brainstorming and picking over old stuff and i am happy to say: i know exactly where poverty luxe is going from here on out. 

consistently blog through the whole year: eh, i took an unplanned break in january/march, but for good reason as i was working on goal number one. the good news is that ive got plenty of motivation and inspiration to get things moving, the bad news is that i still need to work out finding the right rhythm with my current school schedule. 

plan and write posts in advance: though getting back into writing has been slow going, i am very proud to say that the vast majority of the posts ive posted lately have been planned, written, and scheduled in advance (though, not this one, of course). 

collaborate and connect with other bloggers more: unfortunately, i havent got much done with this one, BUT (another helpful thing about these monthly check ins) now that its on my mind again, im thinking of some new ways to do this. 

shop goals: 

apply for one of the spring patchwork shows: this one i actually changed my mind on, applications havent even opened for the spring patchwork shows and they might be out of my budget. so instead were going to try out the silverlake flea market this month. 

do 2-3 "big" craft fairs: well, this upcoming silverlake market would be #1...

launch kids line and ladies tops: this one is on hold indefinitely while i re-focus the shops branding and transition away from etsy, but hopefully things can get going again by years end. 

family goals: 

go on one "real date" every month: this one didnt go so well. its wintertime, james hasn't been working a ton, and we havent really had much extra date money. we didnt do anything at all in january, though last month we did go see my most favorite band ever (with my sister, so im not sure that counts as a date?). 

schedule family time into every week: lately we have been doing much better about getting out of the house together as a family, im not sure weve done something every week, but im happy to say that there has been much more disneyland days, ice cream dates, and taco tuesdays lately. 

be more consistent with homeschooling: this one has been really hard because while alice is very smart and totally needs more intellectual stimulation, shes also three and totally not ready for the more "traditional" school-type activities. so instead, weve been reading together a TON, and going on more field trips (last month we went to the zoo AND a new museum). next up ill be looking for ALL the free museum day schedules so we can get more trips in (and more family time too!). 

home goals: 

purge and declutter the entire apartment: ive made some serious progress on my closet, but otherwise weve been slacking. on the bright side, we made a big list of bite size pieces to tackle as we can get to them so that way we can get things moving without getting ourselves overwhelmed and just making a bigger mess. 

buy a new bed/mattress: weve researched options and it seems like the most practical option for both bed and mattress are at ikea, but obviously we need to go take a look/feel in person before we commit (so maybe thats our next family outing?). also, i want to get the bedroom completely purged before we bring anything new in, so...

replace the hi-fi with a more practical credenza: im actually having a hilarious problem with this one: theres one from west elm that i LOVE but obviously were not buying it because its $900. ive been looking for a similar (but less expensive, obviously) one and found a great alternative at target. for $300 MORE than the one at west elm. so far ikea doesnt have anything thats really doing it for me so i think a trip to some of the local antique stores is in order. 

financial goals: 

set a reasonable budget and stick to it: wintertime was a really bad time to do this since our income is especially erratic right now, but as things settle down well continue to discuss it. 

improve my credit score and get a better credit card: obviously this is a slow one and i have to wait to open a new card until an appropriate amount of time has passed since getting my first card, but on the bright side, i have found which travel rewards card would be the best fit for us!

get our emergency fund 1/2 way full: again, because wintertime, weve had to take a good chunk of money out, and the credit card has way more on it than im comfortable with, BUT with our tax refund and my pell grant i think we may be at least back to where we were at the end of last year, AND we've planned a no-spend month for march (more on that later) which, coupled with the big raise james just got, should help us jump start getting the credit card taken care of. 

personal goals: 

stay in school and keep getting straight As: this semester, while being much more expensive than last semester (which stressed me out to the point of almost quitting a few weeks in), has actually been much easier than last semester and things are going really nicely, though i am looking forward to spring break in a couple weeks...

maintain a part-time income with jamberry: despite doing basically nothing from november-january, im slowly getting back into booking parties and getting things going again. in other news, does anyone want to host a party? 

try some new recipes: this is the one goal where i really feel like im doing well. ive already tried a few new recipes that im really excited about, and am getting much more comfortable with branching out of our normal dinner rotation. you can expect to hear a LOT more about this soon!

so yeah, even though i dont have big things crossed off left and right, progress is being made, albeit slowly, all across the board. which feels pretty good since we still have ten more months to go this year!

did you make big goals for 2015? how are they going?