Wednesday, April 30, 2014

$10 Happiness: Firefly Tram Tour

A few weeks ago my sister Bekah invited J and I to go along on a firefly tram tour at our local state park. Up until then, I didn't even realize Florida had fireflies! I loved chasing and catching them when visiting Kentucky family so of course I was up for going on the tour.

We all rode around on a tram (think Disney transportation between parking and park) with a park ranger tour guide, who explained all kinds of things about the Florida scrub and stopped where the fireflies were more abundant. We also stopped to see other wildlife that started roaming around dusk.

The adult tickets were $5 each and totally worth it. Well I thought so. J grew up with Ohio fireflies so our little bunches of Florida fireflies were not so impressive to him. He had a good time holding baby J and eventually putting her to sleep.

Sadly our firefly season has already come to an end due to summer starting waaaaay early. But I will keep an eye out next year for more tram tours! What kind of fun nature outings do y'all enjoy? And check out our other $15 happiness posts!

Posh Purpose: Styling a Bud Vase

In yesterday's post on How to Host: Holiday Potluck, I told y'all I made five small flower arrangements using two thrift store bud vases, two promotional glasses that came with some lemoncello I purchased at Christmas, and an old candle jar.  Here's a tutorial on how I made my bud vase arrangements:

- 4 bud vases and one smaller, short container for flowers that don't have very long stems or ones that are broken off.  An old jelly jar or candle jar would be perfect, just scrub off any non-attractive labeling (i.e. nutritional information).
- Scissors for cutting and trimming flowers (I just used some regular office scissors)
- 3 types of flowers - all small to medium sized blooms (one fluffy medium sized, one fluffy small sized, and one non-fluffy bloom)

For the flowers, I went over to Safeway and picked up one bunch of lavender pom poms (fluffy medium sized), pink and white mini-carnations (fluffy small sized), and yellow tulips (non-fluffy bloom).  The pom poms were the base for the flowers and the carnations and tulips were used as accents and fillers.  Although I love big flowers, you are going to have more trouble arranging large bloom flowers in a bud vase because (1) if it's a hydrangea for instance, it's going to take up the entire vase and (2) the weight of the flower might cause the vase to actually tip over.  

You can pick flowers that work with your color scheme in your dining or living room, the theme (i.e. pastels for spring), have lots of contrast (like my arrangements), and you can never go wrong with all white.  Also, look for flowers that will give you the most bang for your buck.  I believe the huge bunch of pom poms was $4.99.  Although I could have bought a ton of mini carnations at about $2 each, they don't have as much volume as the pom poms.  The tulips were the most expensive at 10 stems for $5.99, but they are my favorite flower and I love the contrast with the other two colors. 

Since our event wasn't until Sunday, I bought my flowers on a Friday and made sure to look for carnations and tulips that were still mostly closed.  I wanted to arrange them ahead of time because I found out that Safeway's last shipment of flowers for the week comes on Fridays and since it was Easter, I worried about them selling out of the best looking flowers if I waited until Saturday night.  Ask your florist when their shipments come in so you can always get the best selection, but try not to buy them more than 48 hours in advance of the event.  Also, make sure to arrange them immediately so that the flowers have time to open up and don't get dehydrated.

Beautiful blooms and my two lemoncello glasses to the right

I followed similar steps that I described in my post on styling low flower arrangements.  Start by putting some powdered plant food in each container (flowers usually have a packet attached to each bunch, but you can also ask the floral department for a packet or two if you don't see any attached), but hold off adding water until the end.  Water is much easier to put in than trying to sprinkle the food packet into a vase once the flowers are in it.

I cut the flowers down to fit the depth of the vases and stripped them of all their leaves (leaves below the water line make for short lived flowers and really yucky cloudy water).  For bud vases, it's nice for the flowers to have different heights, so don't cut everything the same length.  Start with your fluffiest flowers first, in my case - pom poms, and divvy them among your four bud vases so that they all appear to have the same amount of flowers.  Obviously some flowers will have bigger blooms, so just counting them out evenly won't work in this situation.  Next, layer in your smaller fluffy flower, I used mini carnations, to start filling in gaps.  Finally, use your non-fluffy flower to add pops of color or extra interest to your arrangement and fill in any final gaps, I used tulips.  Arrange the flowers so the center of the arrangement is the tallest point and it gradually gets shorter on the sides.  For example, you wouldn't want a really tall flower positioned on the wall of the bud vase because the arrangement will look lopsided.  Save tall blooms for the center.  You will probably wind up with flowers too short to fit in your bud vases, so arrange them in your small jelly jar or candle container for a really low arrangement.  This is a really easy way to get one more arrangement and since it is so small, it doesn't take any real skill to arrange it.  For our holiday potluck, I put mine in the bathroom.

Not only do I arrange flowers, I also fold laundry...and then leave it in the background of my styling posts as evidence.

Candle jar flower arrangement using leftover blooms

Bud vases are super easy to arrange, but there are a few things to keep in mind.  For the most part, bud vases look really bad with only a few scrawny flowers in them, so they still need lots of flowers to fill them in.  Second, make sure you have very little stem showing at the top of your bud vase.  It will look more like a professionally done flower arrangement when you place blooms to strategically cover up the stems at both the top of the bud vase and throughout the arrangement to cover up the taller stems in the center.  Also, don't make them too tall, you'll risk toppling them over and if you use them as a table centerpiece it may be hard to see around once everyone is seated.

View from the top...looks like loads of flowers!

After I finished arranging the flowers, I went back and added lukewarm water to the vases (just take your index finger and hold the stems to one side while the faucet is running.  You'll get water all over the vase, but it's much easier to dry it off than to try to find a spot to pour water into each vase.).  You don't want to shock the flowers with cold water, it would be like throwing yourself under a cold shower.   Post-party, keep an eye on your water levels to lengthen the life of your arrangements.  I refilled my vases twice over the past 11 days that I've had them and they are still going strong!

Bud vases are an extremely affordable way to put flowers on your table that still have a big impact.  I only spent $13.74 on these arrangements and I put them all over the apartment to really brighten up the space for our potluck.  I really think it's these small touches that really elevate your party...even if it is a potluck in a young married couples apartment.  It shows that you put time and thought into making a beautiful event for you and your guests to enjoy.  Creating your own arrangements using the containers you already have and using grocery store flowers makes this a super affordable upgrade for any party.  Anyone else tried a bud vase arrangement?  Let us in on any secret tips you have!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How to Host: Holiday Potluck

Mr. 3 and I hosted an Easter Potluck for our young married couples Bible study group.  I like the idea of a potluck for a holiday event so the pressure isn't on just one person or family to supply all the goods.  We invited fewer people to this event  because I wanted to have a place for everyone to sit and enjoy their Easter meal rather than stand around trying not to let deviled eggs roll off their plate.  We also scheduled it for 2 PM so that we all had time to get to church at 9:30 and then go home and finish cooking our dishes.  We had a great time visiting and eating with all our friends!  I think a potluck is great for any special holiday meal.

The Decor

We hosted 10 people so I busted out all the dishes in my cabinets for this shin dig, using my everyday white from Williams-Sonoma and Mr. 3's grandmother's china for the place settings and appetizer plates, my blue crystal from Villeroy and Boch, and some clear pressed glass plates for dessert.  We used navy blue (Williams Sonoma, but purchased at the Leesburg Outlet) and grey cloth napkins (World Market) and I had enough silverware to cover all our needs.  I used a tablecloth from Target in a pretty robin's blue and I used my table throw that I got during spring break to cover the coffee table. 

Mr. 3's Grandma's China

I don't like tons of Easter themed decorations, so I limited myself to one bunny shaped dip spreader and a pack of yellow paper napkins from Sur la Table for the appetizers.  

Mr. 3 and I dyed Easter eggs on Friday night, so I put down a layer of Easter grass in my crystal Tiffany bowl and arranged the eggs for a centerpiece on our dining room table.

I also spent a grand whopping total of $13.74 (!!!!) to make five flower arrangements using the bud vases I picked up from the Fort Myer Thrift Shop a few weekends ago, two promotional glasses I got with a Christmas time purchase of lemoncello, and an old candle jar that I was using to store my makeup brushes (stay tuned for a Posh Purpose tutorial on arranging bud vase flowers).  I place one on each table in the apartment and the candle jar arrangement in the bathroom.  I also lit a grapefruit scented candle and put some pink paper guest towels in the bathroom.

The only decor items I bought for the party were the eggs and food coloring, the Easter grass, the flowers, the napkins, and the bunny spreader.

The Food

Obviously, since this was a potluck there was a whole lot less cooking going on up in my kitchen for this party.  That said, I wanted to make sure that Mr. 3 and I got our favorite Easter foods, so I made a two key lime pies, lemon coconut cake with sour cream frosting, green salad or fluffy stuff (my mama's's the Cool Whip and lime jello kind y'all....not the lettuce and carrots kind),  and deviled eggs.  I kept the appetizers simple, just picking up some pre-made pimento cheese for Ritz crackers and brie from Trader Joe's.

If you are going to host a potluck, I highly recommend that you prepare the meat and the bread.  I certainly wouldn't want to try to transport a turkey, chicken, pork tenderloin, or in our case, a spiral ham, if I were a guest at a potluck.  Spiral cut ham is one of my new favorite entertaining's already cooked so it only requires reheating and you can buy them pre-seasoned like I did so you literally wrap it in tin foil and throw it in the oven.  I would recommend purchasing a disposable aluminum pan no matter what meat you prepare.  You can put the carved meat on a serving platter so it looks nicer and pitch the pan.  We timed it so that the meat would be finished heating about 30 mins after everyone arrived.  Also, I like a nice warm biscuit over a room temp or cold one any day, so I threw some Grands canned biscuits in the oven after everyone had arrived so they would be nice and warm (my great Aunt Margaret who got up everyday on the farm to fix a meal for her family said she started sleeping later once Grands got I figure it's good enough for me too!).

Our wonderful friends brought green beans, asparagus, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, cornbread pudding, and some really cute cake pops in the shape of chicks.

As a final fun treat, I set up a mini candy bar on my bar cart with Peeps, rainbow Twizzlers, easter M&Ms, Sweetart jelly beans, mini Snickers, mini Reese's eggs, and mini Cadbury eggs.  I didn't buy anything for the candy bar besides the candy itself.  I used a bit of leftover Easter grass from my egg centerpiece, I already had the cellophane bags and ties, and the fuzzy chick was in my Easter basket. 

For drinks, I served Simply Lemonade (which is the best kind in my personal opinion), white wine, and beer.   Post-meal I made coffee using my Nespresso for anyone who wanted it.

The Set Up

Because we live in an apartment, I had to get creative with the seating.  I put some guests around the dining table and the rest around the coffee table in the living room.  I managed to put 5 people at each table using my dining chairs and the couch and bench in the living room.  I also put all the food in the kitchen for serving and I used my awesome, truly awesome food warmer trays for the first time (you can read about them here and here) for people to put their dishes on when they arrived.  They kept all the food warm for the whole party!  Like all my parties, I offered everyone a drink when they first arrived, but after that I kept it self service (minus the Nespresso) so I didn't have to play bartender all day.

After people had eaten, I immediately began portioning out the leftover food in some cheap disposable containers from Target and Ziplock baggies.  I loaded the dishwasher as I went.  There was far far less clean up involved with this potluck than our other parties.  Mr. 3 and I were able to clean up everything in about 45 minutes after everyone left.

Tips & Tricks to Take Away

1. Use what you have for decor and servingware.  If you find gaps, hit up Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Target, or World Market.  They have the best prices and the most diversified selection.  If you have time, check out your local thrift store.  My warming trays, table throw, bud vases, and a few pieces of servingware all came from the thrift store.  Also, a lot of stores start marking down their decor items a few days before the holiday, so you can pick up some themed items for much cheaper.  I bought my bunny spreader and yellow paper napkins for 50% off the day before Easter.  Finally, check  your closet for unused wedding gifts.  Now is the perfect time to break them out...didn't you register for them because you thought you might use them for a special occasion one day?  

2.  Use cloth napkins, tablecloths, china, and glassware.  Try to have a seat for everyone because it can be difficult to eat an entire meal standing up.

3.  Put fresh flowers out.  Bud vases are a very affordable way to add some fresh flowers to your table without breaking the bank  (I only spent $13.74!).  You can get creative like I did by repurposing drinking glasses and old candle jar containers to make small arrangements if you don't have bud vases.  I used cheerful spring blossoms that complimented my colors but didn't match anything 100%.  My flowers were still going strong over a week later!

3. Mix up your food.  Signature dishes should be made from scratch (i.e. my key lime pie...which is one of the reasons Mr. 3 fell in love with me), but appetizers and bread can definitely be store bought.  For holiday potlucks, it's important to make the dishes you enjoy and associate with family recipes or childhood memories.  Guests can bring dishes that you don't have an emotional attachment to like sides.  ALSO, be sure to let you guests know (via Evite or email) what dishes you will be making and offer a menu of suggestions so your guests aren't stumped by what to bring.  Be sure to request that they commit to which dish they will provide with their RSVP so that they won't bring the same dish as anyone else.

4. Divvy up your leftovers and send them home with people in plastic containers.  Get those extra calories out of your house as fast as possible!

Don't think this is just a guide for can easily implement these ideas for other occasions.  I think Cinco de Mayo would be super fun or 4th of July.  Why not have a more formal potluck dinner party?  It doesn't always have to be tacos and margaritas or hot dogs and hamburgers served on a paper plate. Anyone else hosting a potluck anytime soon?  Let us know your tips below!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Kombucha: A Weird & Tasty Treat

Sometimes I'm a little behind on the latest and greatest in clean living, organic, natural remedy, sure-to-kill-all-that-ails-you type of trends...and evidently Kombucha is no different.  Kombucha is a sparkling drink made from fermented (with who knows what) tea, sometimes a bit of juice, and sparkling water.  It's supposedly filled with all sorts of probiotic and vitamin goodness that is said to relieve all sorts of ailments.  I actually first read about kombucha in a hilariously funny article from the Huffington Post on "Surviving Whole Foods."  Needless to say, the article's description is not what inspired me to try kombucha nor did it send me running to the store to pick up a bottle.

Mr. 3 and I were at Whole Foods having a glass of wine and I noticed that they carried kombucha on tap.  I asked the barkeep to describe it to me and he described kombucha as "slightly vinegary fizzy drink", which reminded me of my Balsamic Vinegar Spritzer but with more he gave me a pour of the elderberry version and I loved it!

After googling a bit more about it, I decided to pick up two bottles to try from Safeway: Kevita Lemon Ginger and GT's Synergy Enlighted Kombucha in Cosmic Cranberry.  Both were delicious and less than 100 calories for the 16 oz. bottle.  I liked the fizziness and the flavor was really yummy, but yes a bit vinegary...which evidently I do not have a problem with and seem to enjoy.  I could definitely see this being a great car trip treat if I plan far enough in advance or as a daily drink.  I'm going to try a few more brands and see if I have any positive health effects.  I will report back once I've taken it a bit more.

Briana and I are also trying out coconut oil in a bunch of different ways (makeup remover, lotion, bug repellant, etc.) in the upcoming weeks, so look for articles on coconut oil too.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend...and perhaps a bottle of kombucha!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

We're Lovin': J.Crew's Cove Floral Print

The J.Crew new arrivals popped up in my inbox yesterday and when I checked out the new arrivals, I instantly fell in love with the new Cove Floral print!  It's a great print to wear to the office paired with more structured pieces orrrrr you can totally where it on the weekend with pretty much anything.  I especially love that J.Crew made a variety of pieces in the print from all different fabrics.  There are lots of colors in the print that you can play off of, so even if you only buy one piece you probably already have something in your closet that goes with it.  The price points are all over the place $89.50 for cotton drawstring pants to $398 for a dress.  I would wait for a 25% or 30% off deal that J.Crew has been known to run...but J.Crew has been known to completely sell out of an item in the first week if it's really popular.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the collection, but there are more on the website (including girl's clothing!).  I've included some of the materials so you can see how diversified the collection is in the fabric area.

Sleeveless Drapey Top
Image: J.Crew

J.Crew Collection Eaton Boy Short
Image: J.Crew

Drawstring Pant
Image: J.Crew

Merino Silk Panel Sweater
Image: J.Crew

Bandeau Tank
Image: J.Crew
Aren't they great?  J.Crew has styled them all sorts of different ways, but I'm definitely in love with the swimsuit, the sleeveless shirt, and the drawstring pants (how comfortable!).  I also really need to find out where that striped clutch in the first picture came from, because it doesn't not appear to be sold through J.Crew.  

Anyone else loving this print as much as I am?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

$8 Happiness: Coral Nail Polish

I absolutely love our new series $15 Happiness! It was entirely Melinda's idea and I think it really captures an aspect of our Posh Purpose approach to living glamorously within our means. In Melinda's first post in this series, she wrote a great description which you should totally check out if you missed it the first time around.

Now I don't normally wear coral, or really any shade that looks even remotely orange. However, I was drawn in by Essie tart deco at the drugstore by the pinky tangerine color. It is definitely a shade of orange but I was encouraged to try it out because I have a pair of bathing suit bottoms from H&M that is a similar color. 

I am so thrilled that I took a coral risk! I have been admiring my self administered pedicure for over a week. Essie is typically durable on toenails, although I always manage to chip my fingernails very quickly. But no worries there, I don't see myself wearing this polish on my hands. 

Does anyone else have a new favorite summer polish? Melinda and I are always up for a new color. And check out our other $15 happiness posts!

Fresh Citrus Chicken and Asparagus

I'm testing out the waters to see if we want to bring back recipe posts to Posh Purpose. My goal is to use the blog as a way to force myself to get more creative in the kitchen. I am definitely experiencing chef's block, if that is a thing. So no promises on recipes becoming a regular thing, but you should be able to enjoy this one regardless!

I came up with this idea late Sunday night right before falling asleep and cooked it for Monday's supper. It takes advantage of all the wonderful juice oranges we can buy at my local farm ($4 for half of a 5 gallon bucket!) and also went really well with the asparagus I had purchased. For those of y'all who don't know, I base my meals off what I already have; I am not a fan of running to the store for one or two items. If I can't substitute, I cook something else.

Before we get started, I want to share something. While I used freshly squeezed orange juice, I won't judge if you use the store bought variety. I understand that not everyone is lucky to live down the road from orange groves, so if you do purchase your juice you should get Florida's Natural. The oranges are grown all in Florida as a co-op (support the farms!), and quite a few come from my county!

This recipe serves J and I two meals - supper and lunch the next day. Feel free to increase/decrease ingredients according to your guests and hunger levels.

Two chicken breasts (use more if they are on the small side)
One cup of orange juice (fresh squeezed takes about six oranges)
Enough asparagus to satisfy your need for green vegetables (washed and ends snapped off)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Olive oil
Half a tablespoon of butter (for flavor - yum!)
Two cups brown rice
Four cups chicken broth (optional)

1. Marinate your chicken in the orange juice. I let mine sit during zumba, so slightly over an hour.
2. Remove chicken from marinade once you are ready to cook, but make sure you keep the juice! We will be using it later. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You will be adding more salt later, so don't go too heavy here.
3. Heat butter and enough oil in an oven safe pan. I used my all-clad copper core sauté pan. Add chicken and make sure you let it start to burn. The dark bits are where the best flavor is for this recipe.

I flipped the meat back over to get more burnt bits than seen here

4. Once you get your chicken going, start your rice. I cooked mine in chicken broth to add a bit more flavor, but feel free to cook your rice as you see fit. Also preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
5. When the chicken is closer to done than not (about 15 minutes depending on the size), add about one third of the orange juice to the pan and deglaze to get all the delicious flavor off the bottom of the pan. 6. Add the rest of the juice and bring to a simmer so we don't all die of salmonella.
7. Add the asparagus to the pan and stir to get the delicious sauce on all the spears. Make sure you add a bit more salt to the asparagus to help retain the green color
{My asparagus was super skinny so I waited until the chicken was pretty much done before adding the vegetables. I also don't like my asparagus really cooked; I prefer more of a softening rather than a true cooking. If you like your asparagus well done, add it earlier.}
8. Put pan into the oven for 3-4 minutes. When the asparagus no longer looks raw, switch the oven to broil for another 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully because it is very easy to burn at this stage! Lots of experience there..

I arranged my asparagus so that a lot of it was out of the sauce to keep a crispier/less soggy consistency

Once everything is done, plate it up and enjoy! The sauce goes really well on top of the rice and I added balsamic vinegar for even more flavor. J enjoyed it without the vinegar. This meal is really very healthy assuming you control oil usage. It would also go well on pasta by adding white wine to the sauce. If you don't have an oven safe pan, cook the chicken on the stove top and the asparagus separately on a cookie sheet in the oven. I prefer cooking it all together for less clean up, but the flavors should still work out just fine. Let us know how it goes for you!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend! Melinda's brunch was a success, and my family's lunch was absolutely delicious. Later this week, she will be sharing all her secrets. While she recovers from all her hard work, I thought we could admire some thrift store finds from our spring break adventures. All of these items were found in the town to the south. 

This tea set was quite lovely and in great condition. It is perfect f you wanted a special gift to give a bride, yet don't want to spend $100 or more. Just make sure she likes gold, because this set makes a statement!

I love these little guys. I think they are bookends? There were two little ones and two big ones, and all four were quite heavy. I should have bought them! If I remember correctly, the price averaged out to about $7 per piece.

This dress was not priced, but the surrounding clothes were all reasonable. I love the shape of the hemline and the sleeves matched! The color is terrible for me, or else I would have bought it since the dress was in such good condition.

I had to show y'all this piece of furniture with the doors both open and closed. While the color of the wood is not to my liking, everything about this piece was very interesting. And for $49, you (or someone you pay) could totally refinish it to suit your other furniture!

This $20 decanter was really pretty. The store was more of a consignment/antique store than the thrift variety, so less digging was needed to find pretty things. Melinda bought her beautiful floral dish here! I will definitely be going back to this store when I need a bridal shower or wedding gift.

This beautiful coffee set immediately caught our eyes when we walked in the room. The finish is iridescent and in very good condition, although not perfect. There were six coffee cups, which is great! Normally, I see sets with three or five cups due to breakage over the years. This would make another lovely gift for a bride, especially if she isn't into the gold set at the beginning of this post.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Briana's Easter Plans

While Melinda is putting on a fabulous Easter potluck for all her friends, I will be doing the exact opposite. My parents are taking the whole family to the grande buffet at our favorite local hotel. Remember when Melinda  mentioned the best fried chicken she has ever had? Yeah, it is that buffet.

Normally, we have lunch at my parents' house, followed up by a huge Easter egg hunt for all the grandchildren. Last year we deviated slightly by having our local Cuban eatery cater the meal - that was great! Mom didn't have to wake up super early to cook for the great hoard. But since we had to reschedule the Easter egg hunt to a more convenient day, Mom thought it would be fun to eat some fried chicken and, more importantly, skip the cooking/clean up that goes along with feeding my large family.

Last Easter, Baby Jillian was only a few weeks old so she mostly slept. But since she is over one year, she may actually participate in the egg hunt. Little kids and egg hunts are the best!

Mom and Baby Jillian, Easter 2013

Melinda and I hope y'all have a wonderful Easter! See you on Monday!

Melinda's Easter Plans

Well, my Easter weekend is kicking off to a great start with the release of the Washington Post's Peep Show, which is one of my favorite Easter traditions.  Local contestants submit dioramas made of Peep chicks and bunnies for judging.  My favorite for this year was "Everyone Peeps."  Check it out, you'll definitely get a laugh out of some of the entries and I'm always amazed at people's creativity with chemical loaded, brightly colored, sugary treats.

Mr. 3 and I are dying Easter eggs tomorrow night for our date night activity.  I plan on making a bright batch to put out on our dining table which will be a great healthy snack.

On Saturday, I'm heading to Zumba in anticipation of all the yummy food for Sunday.  Later in the day, I'm baking key lime pie and a lemon coconut layer cake (my first attempt at a layer cake!).  I'm also going to devil up some non-dyed eggs and throw together some of my Mama's green salad (jello and cool whip kind...not lettuce and carrots kind).

Mr. 3 and I are going to our usual 9:30 AM church service and then heading home to host an Easter potluck at 2:00 PM for our friends.  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and makes it to church service!  I know I can't wait to see all the children in their dress up clothes!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

$13 Happiness: Jam, Honey, & Butter

I've done a few posts on little upgrades that I've put in around my apartment, but we are starting a new series called $15 Happiness.  If you've read our post on what the Purpose of Posh Purpose is, you know that one of our beliefs is incorporating little bits of luxury into your daily life (you choose how to define what is luxurious to you).  While little upgrades are focused on improvements in housing or decor, $15 Happiness is dedicated to things or experiences $15 or less that make you feel pampered, less stressed...or simply make you smile like this jam jar, honey pot, and butter keeper from Crate and Barrel for $13 that I purchased over the weekend while shopping for a friend's wedding present.

I love the way this cute dishes look together and while they are all useful items, they weren't absolute necessities.  BUT they make me immensely happy and I plan to use them quite a bit for future brunches.  The butter keeper is getting put out immediately at my upcoming Easter Potluck this Sunday (be sure to check in next week for a How to Host post).

Isn't this jam jar sweet?  It makes me happy on the inside every time I look at it.

The honey jar has a removable silicone dipper, which will put a bright pop of yellow on the table.

I just love how cheerful the dishes look together!  While this post focused on material items (although useful!), not all of our $15 Happiness posts will be about items we purchased...for example, when D.C. is blowing nasty sideways rain a $10 cab ride would certainly bring me a lot of happiness over walking. Aaaaand although our Thrift Store Finds are definitely below the $15 mark, we will not be including them as a part of this series.

PS - If you are wondering where I picked up that pretty placemat, you can read about it here and here. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thrift Store Finds: Fort Myer Thrift Shop Part 2

Last week, I blogged about the wonderful Fort Meyer Thrift Shop and I promised to share with you my great finds.  First up, these great pressed glass vases with a bit of gold trim.  I'm not sure if they were trying to market them as champagne or beverage glasses because they had them stuck with some other crystal drinking glasses, but I plan to use them for flowers...and I'm going to get started with my upcoming Easter potluck.  Won't they look great with some daffodils?

$3.50 each...ignore beer in background.  We don't have enough space in the fridge.

You might be noticing my beautiful flower placemat in the picture above.  I got a set of 8.  I think they are linen and each are screen printed with a different flower.  All 8 only cost me $4.20.  Here are a few of my favorites.  Aren't the fringy bits great?  They remind me of the peachy napkins I scored on spring break with Briana that I used at my recent tea party.

I also found this set of sweet jewelry boxes.  I'm thinking about gifting them, but if I can't find the appropriate person, I will probably keep them for myself.  They need a bit of polishing, but the insides are lined in pretty black velvet.

$5.55 for the pair
My final find was this preppy plaid umbrella.  I actually spotted this while waiting in the dressing room for my friends to get finished looking around.  It's right near the check out line and the only reason I spotted it was because a man picked it up out of an umbrella holder (it was the only umbrella) and then promptly put it back.  Upon which, I promptly snapped it up.  It's really nicely built with vents for the wind to prevent it from flipping inside out.  It was a bit bigger than my purse umbrella so I decided to grab it for the nasty D.C. weather we have been having.  I already used it yesterday when D.C. was graced with some sideways blowing rain.  Ick.  So far, it's worked great!

$7 protection against the elements
There you have total Fort Myer Thrift Store Haul.  I will probably head back again sometime this summer.  Let me know if you have any thrift store recommendations in the D.C. area, I'd love to check them out and do a review!

Slight Problem

So I have a confession. I can't stop playing 2048. If you like number puzzles, you should definitely check this game out. The goal is to combine tiles to get one that adds up to 2048.

screen shot of one of my less than decent games
Basically, you shift the tiles up/down/left/right and when two of the same number hit each other, the two tiles combine to show the sum. So if two tiles displaying a 2 hit, they disappear and a tile that has a 4 appears instead.

Every time you shift the tiles, a new tile appears in one of the open spots. Usually it is a 2, but sometimes it is a 4 instead. When the board gets tight, you should really pay attention to how the tiles will shift so that a 2 is always going to be open. Otherwise, your empty slots will start filling up and you lose flexibility and eventually the game.

I played this game during my drying time for my glam thrift store lamp project. Usually I cannot stand waiting for things to dry, but I had to set a timer so I would not forget while playing this game! The game is super addicting for me, so I almost feel irresponsible for recommending it to our readers. 2084 is a true time suck, but you can think about it as brain exercise. That will make us all feel better after spending too many hours to count playing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thrift Store Lamp Restore

Guess what. I actually finished a project. Unfortunately, it was not one of the projects I discussed back in February but we can look past that and just focus on Briana actually completing something in its entirety. Prepare yourself, this post is super long and full of steps within steps. It is a miracle I finished within a few months of purchasing the lamp.

I bought this lamp for $5 at Habitat for Humanity. I really liked the glass base and immediately thought about gold leafing the brass on the bottom. Then I took a really long break and totally forgot about the lamp (J did not). While the lamp worked, it was in rough shape. You can see the rust between the glass and brass in the picture below.

J took the lamp apart for me, thank goodness. I prefer to let him handle dismantling things that eventually need to go back together.

He tried polishing the brass with a brillo pad but it didn't do much good. I upgraded to a sanding block, which made more progress. Melinda finally took pity on my frustrated efforts to sand away the rust and googled home rust remedies. Some internet source said to soak the rust in white vinegar/water mixture and then sand away. It really worked! The rust came off so much easier.

1. Just brillo pad - could not see a difference
2. Sanding block - a lot of the raised up rust came off, but there was still quite a bit
3. Vinegar + sanding block - the rust came off with a lot less sanding on my part, but I still couldn't get everything clean. I finally decided that it was good enough since I had a sealing spray to lock in whatever rust was left.

 Next step was my sealing spray primer. I used X-I-M primer 400 clear, which was recommended to me by my paint store guys. I let the first coat dry for more than a day before applying a second coat, just to be sure that everything was fully sealed. My paint store guys strongly recommended that you seal immediately after wiping down the piece with a dry cloth. And I strongly recommend not spraying primer over the price tag. My fingernails were tacky for days after peeling the sticker off through a layer of wet primer.

Then came gold leafing. As I tweeted a while back, I don't enjoy this task. It requires steady hands and patience, but the final look is well worth it. I ordered this gold leafing set on Amazon because my local Michaels store's only set had broken up gold leaf sheets. There are plenty of online tutorials about gold leafing, so I will just give a brief summary.

Apply the adhesive in a thin coat, but not so thin that you don't get full coverage of the area. The leaf will stick wherever there is adhesive, so stay within the lines! Wait for the adhesive to turn clear (15-20 minutes for me) and apply the gold leaf. I found it was easier to cut the sheets into smaller pieces as they were easier to handle. Move slowly and turn off the fans and air conditioning, you don't want a breeze. These leaf sheets very easily fold into themselves and then you have to start with a new sheet.

in the middle of the leafing step
Once you get all the surfaces covered with leaf (it is ok to overlap), take a dry brush or cloth and rub off the excess. All the bits that are creased or overlapped will flake off and you will have a textured yet smooth to the touch surface. Apply the sealer if you are not using real gold leaf so your color does not tarnish. Let dry, and you are done!

I gold leafed all the exposed metal: the whole base, the center pole that goes through the glass, and the cap on top of the glass.

I went to my local lighting store to finish up my lamp. I bought a shorter 9" harp for $2, a square finial to coordinate with the glass for $11, and an off white silk shade for $42 (on sale 25% off). Overall the lamp cost me $60 plus tax and $11ish for the gold leaf. I had all the other supplies on hand and I used less than three of the 25 gold sheets. I could have saved money on the shade and skipped the finial, but even J said the silk shade is definitely worth it.

I need to touch up the front of the lamp base; I accidentally scraped off some leaf before it fully dried. I recommend you let your project cure for at least a day before flinging it around to a lamp shop like I did. Another note is that the lamp works with our incandescent bulbs but did not work with our CFL bulb.

I'm thrilled with how my lamp turned out! Now I need a break from DIYing before I attack anything else on my long list of thrift store rescues.