Retail Therapy: A Week of Ikea, Lamps for $30 and My Search for a Shade

Ikea 003

First of all, I would like to say that I always thought Ikea was for European people who lived in cool lofts apartments, had no children and skied in the Alps for Christmas holiday.

While I am sure that is partially true, I have discovered over the past few years that Ikea is for everyone.

Cool loft or not. Ikea is for the masses, sorta like Walmart but way cooler. :) 

PS. I am a Target girl, myself.

They carry a huge array of basic home decor and staples for setting up house.

And while your house may look like you live in a minimalist Swedish home if you decorate entirely with Ikea goods….

like most home decor stores, a few items will not turn you into a yuppy person who skis in the Alps at Christmas.

Moving on, I blogged about my Ikea trip with my sisters and aunt a few weeks ago.

I just planned to get curtains (which I will blog about soon), but I went a little overboard once I got here.

I swear that place sucks you in.

And you think “Well I am stuck in here anyway, I might as well fill my cart.”

Anyway, I picked up two lamps while I was there.

I was unsure of the quality, but they were so inexpensive I thought it could not hurt.

A work lamp for my husband’s desk.

(Beware, buy the specialty bulbs that go with the lamp. I had to order them off Amazon once I got home and realized the lamp didn’t take a standard bulb)

BAROMETER Work lamp, nickel plated $29.99
Work lamp, nickel plated $29.99

and a floor lamp.

EKARP Floor lamp base, nickel plated, $30
Floor lamp base, nickel plated, $30

Well I have been living with them for a month now and I can’t tell you how much I love them.

Both are a great weight, and are a very high quality. I can’t speak for all Ikea lamps, but these two are winners.

I didn’t care for the floor lamp shades that Ikea had to offer so I perused my local World Market(one of my go to places for great quality inexpensive lamp shades) and spotted this dealio (sorry that it my best attempt at slang).

And I liked the natural cork shade in contrast to the modern lamp.

cork lamp

It was just the right size and had the right internal mechanisms to fit with the Ikea EKARP Floor lamp base. Score at 75% off.


Ikea 003

The floor lamp provides extra light that was needed in one corner of our living room. I could not be happier with it.

Do you have a favorite lamp?

Home Improvement: How to Give Oak Cabinets and Furniture an $8.99 Face-lift without Paint

When I completed the basement overhaul (click here for the full reveal), I had two pieces of oak that needed a face lift but I didn’t want to tackle painting either one because of time and (let’s be honest) a lack of patience.

So I started searching for options other than painting.

before gel

After lots of reading and researching I settled on this product by General Finishes. It is recommended for wood that has already been stained.

Very light sanding or just a good cleaning is all the prep that is required before applying it.

And it had rave reviews all over pinterest.

Java Gel Stain, 1/2 Pint

Honestly, I didn’t really believe all the hype, but it totally works.

I have read terrible reviews on other brands of gel stain so be aware of the brand that you choose.

I loved the gel consistency, aka no stain drips anywhere.

Both of the pieces that I stained required three coats, but the results are amazing. It completely refreshed and updated previously light colored wood without stripping the old stain off.

basement 4

gel after

I purchased 1/2 pint for $8.99 and even after completing the vanity and the media unit I still have 1/4 can remaining.

Honestly, this is one of the easiest furniture makeovers I have ever done.

Each layer of stain only took about 20 minutes to apply, with a 24 hour drying time in between. I just followed the directions from the General Finishes website.

I am going to apply some kind of sealant to the stain eventually, but it will probably be the same furniture wax (click here for a tutorial by Barb Blair) I used on my painted chest of drawers seen below↓.

Antique Painted Dresser in our Sun Room

What do you think? Would you try it on some outdated oak furniture?

before after gel

Home Improvement: Before and After, Our Chic Cheap Basement Man Cave

First of all, I prematurely posted this before/after post two times.

Sorry about that, it just really wanted to be posted and I was not going fast enough I guess. :)

My goal with this overhaul of the basement/bathroom was not to win any decorating awards.

I avoided Pinterest, decorating blogs or really any other online resources.

I didn’t want these rooms to be overly staged and unlivable because of too many expensive accessories and DIY projects.

I just shopped online, consignment stores, and Target/Ikea to pull things I liked (and that I knew my family would like, ie not girly).

The purpose was to create an inviting place for the my stepsons to watch TV on the weekends…because if they watch TV with us upstairs they usually complain that Joe and I kiss and cuddle too much for their liking: )And also because I could watch 48 Hours about 24 hours a day. The kids can only take so many murder shows I guess. :)

It really did have a castle dungeon-like ambiance going on down there…which is great at Medieval Times.

We just like to differentiate between our home and theme restaurants.

So anyway I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but I did want a comfortable room with meaningful decorations.

Oh and all the guys requested blue walls. Not light blue and not navy blue. Somewhere in between. Apparently they are opinionated in regards to blue.

I think I accomplished what was wanted.


And thankfully I was able to spread the costs over about four months so it didn’t rock our bank account too much.


Basement Before 1
Creamy Yellowy White Walls = gross

Before 3

Basement Before 2


Basement Bathroom


Basement Makeover
Oak vanity before the gel stain treatment



During: We painted, fluffed, steamed, stained, vacuumed, painted some more and then took a nap.

Poppi, the chihuahua, was the paint inspector.
These $13 white roman shades really helped give some privacy to the room.

basement 2

Blue accent wall painted, new mirror and vanity light hung.
final basement 1
Hung new light, and freshly stained “old” media unit in the background


After:   A functional clean room for the kids to hang out with friends.

final 3
The recliner and sofa were both second hand finds in excellent condition.

basement 7

final 6

final 2

final 5
The dark gel stain on the media cabinet really updated it.

basement 10

Basement Bathroom

basement 3
Freshly stained oak bathroom vanity.
basement 5
Modern brushed nickel hardware
basement 7
Love this little owl hook.
The wall art was painted by my husband in elementary school.

Here is the run down of the costs and sources:

Thankfully the tile flooring is in great shape so we could leave it as is, but it did need an area rug to warm up the space. And the rest of the stuff in the room I already owned.

  • 5 pieces of art from my husband’s art class days in elementary school, my mother-in-law let me raid her stash of his old art work when we were in MI at her house in July.
  • $200 (3 years ago), 11×14 sisal area rug was from my old apartment, but fit the shape of the room perfectly.
  • Reused coffee table, lamp and media console that my husband already had
  • $60+$40 (about a year ago) Reused brown velvet drapes from World Market and curtain hardware
  • $40 (5 years ago), Old trunk from Salvation Army as a sofa table
  • Free- Spray paint for a rusty toilet paper holder overhaul

Overall, I am very pleased with how this room turned out. We don’t spend a lot of time down here but when we do it’s nice to have it looking nice:) and not dungeon like.

Honestly the best change for me was getting rid of those creamy yellowy white walls. They were just gross.

And my favorite things in the room are the art we bought on our trips this summer and my husband’s elementary school art. And of course my  $275 Craigslist Haverty’s leather sofa. :)

before after

before after bathroom

What do you think? How did we do with our function cheap chic overhaul?

Retail Therapy: Fall Wardrobe Staples Under $30 (ish)

Are you ready for fall?


Recently I picked up a few things to help out my fall wardrobe.

Just a couple things to give it a little “umph.”

Some of the things I purchased came from the Like Twice online consignment store which I reviewed a few weeks ago. I still LOVE it.

Then I perused the Old Navy website for some dresses.

I purchased this baby.

I love the cut and the zipper. I will wear it with a cardigan while it’s warm and then black turtle neck and tights when gets cold.

And I have an addiction to black and white stripes.

Super cute and versatile.

Women’s Striped Ponte-Knit Fit & Flare Dress, $26

Then I picked up this dress too because I can’t help myself when it comes to polka dots.

Women’s Dotted Color-Block Crepe Dress, $29

I purchased some nude fishnet stockings because #1 I like saying “I purchased stockings.”

And #2 they give an outfit a youthful polish without having to wear actual nude colored pantyhose which I have not done since college and don’t ever plan to do again.

They also give your legs a little color even after the effects of a summer tan have worn off.

The nude fishnets are out of stock online but when I purchased them in the store they had lots in stock.

Fishnet Tights, $10

And while I was at JcPenneys, I picked up a pair of jean leggings and I am loving them!

 I have tried every kind out there and these are by far the best.

They give you a skinny jean look without sucking the life out of you.

Super cute and opaque (unlike the ones in this post and this post).

And they really are classy enough that I have worn them to work (I work in a casual office).

Denim Knit Leggings, $20

I also spotted this blouse at Cost Plus World Market a few weeks ago.

GREEN EMBROIDERED KIMBRA DRESS, $36 plus 15% off coupon

And last but not least I picked up this super versatile top from

Elan Women’s Flutter Sleeve Top, $37

To find any or all of these products online just click the photo.

Thanks for reading and Happy Friday!

Semi-Homemade Summer Party

I had some close female friends and family over for a little get together Monday evening after work.

I promised to serve them some good desserts.

But I didn’t have time to make a ton of fun food.

So I improvised.

A little store bought and a little semi-homemade.

And I proved that you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to host a successful party.

PS. my table “runner” is a fun ladies scarf from Target ($14.99) and I hijacked the palm leaves from a tree in my office for the centerpieces (shh don’t tell).

Dessert Party

dessert party 4

dessert party 3
Click here for info on Cookie Kiln. She ships her cookies all over the US! Tell her Rene’ sent you.

dessert party 5

dessert party 6
I had to take a picture of my cousin’s watermelon manicure. So fun :)


Dessert Pary
Everyone enjoyed the cookies from Cookie Kiln

Here are a few of the “recipes” I used.


Rene’s Semi-Homemade Strawberry Lemonade Cake

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 1 recipe of lemon cream cheese frosting (see below)
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries, frozen (but defrosted) or fresh

Prepare each cake mix according to the box instructions.

Bake in four greased 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. Do NOT over bake.

Once baked, carefully remove the cakes from the pans and place on cooling racks. Let the cakes cool completely.

While the cakes cool, prepare the frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 4- 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix on high until the frosting is completely smooth.

To assemble the cake, place the first layer on a cake stand or large plate. Add 1/3 cup strawberries to the top of the first layer. Place the next layer on top and repeat until all the layers are stacked.

Using all the frosting, ice the cake, starting with the sides and then finishing with the top.


Best if made 1-2 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.

If you are unsure of how to stack or frost a layered cake click here for a tutorial by Real Simple.


Rene’s Citrus-Ade Party Punch

  • 1 lemon, washed
  • 1 lime, washed
  • 1 orange, washed
  • 2 cans of frozen lemonade concentrate, defrosted
  • 2 can of frozen limeade concentrate, defrosted
  • 1 can of frozen orange juice concentrate, defrosted
  • 2 gallons water

Slice all the fruit (discard the ends). Place in the freezer until ready to serve. The frozen fruit will act as “ice cubes.”

In a large beverage dispenser, combine all the concentrates and water. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Once ready to serve, simply stir the water and concentrates and add the frozen fruit.


Variation: Use sparkling water in place of the tap water.


If you like these recipes, please pin the photos on pinterest. It’s like tipping a blogger.:)

Happy Friday.

And have a great weekend!

Link party,

Monday Randomness: Tile, Toddler, and Treats

I can’t believe it’s Monday, and I sure can’t believe it’s August.

Not that I am complaining…come on Fall.

But we had a busy weekend once again.

My 2 yr old niece stayed with us this weekend while her parents’ celebrated their anniversary. My teenage stepsons were a hoot with her. She kept us busy, but it was fun.

twists 022

twists 009

twists 012

I finally finished all the buying for a decorating project for a client of mine. I still need the schedule the install date but at least I have all the accessories and furniture purchased. Wanna hire me? Just contact my at my email address

Currently, I am shedding orange-tinged body dandruff because of sunburn on our trip to MI. Why is it orange tinged? Because I had the bright idea of rubbing sunless tanner on my body in hopes of retaining some of my sun-kissed skin. But instead I just look like a freak show with orange dandruff.

Update on the basement: We still need to put some final touches on the basement overhaul; but thankfully, it’s almost done. Before/after pictures coming.

Sunday, we attended church and then our life group in the evening. I took some of the new buffalo chicken dip that Publix is stocking because let’s face it. I didn’t have time to make anything.

I also concocted a strawberry lemonade cake on Saturday evening because….

 I am having female family over to my house tonight for some summer treats and girl time. I hope I am ready for them by seven tonight because when I left for work this morning at 8 I was not. Maybe a party fairy will come visit the house while I am at work…doubtful, because I don’t believe in the tooth fairy either.

And our bathroom renovation project is moving right along except for the fact that we changed our mind on the color of the tile. So I had to return it all and get a lighter color. Hopefully tiling will be in full swing in the next two weeks….I am not a slave driver I promise.

But I may be slightly crazy, but just the nice kind of crazy.

Happy Monday.

PS. If you have not tried this recipe for my  Brown Rice Broccoli Chicken Cheese Bake yet you should. It’s gone viral on Pinterest and is getting great reviews.

brown rice broccoli 15

brown rice broccoli 18

brown rice broccoli 20

Retail Therapy for Friday: Like Twice Consignment

I have a new-to-me company to share with you all today.

It is basically an online “consignment” store.


One of the reasons I love it so much is that it saves me time driving all over town perusing local shops trying to find good deals.


Click here to go directly to the site TWICE.

They buy and sell gently used name brand clothing for women.

The prices are so reasonable, and they offer free shipping for returns.

There is a coupon code for 15% off your whole order available right now. CASHITIN15

Go by and check them out. It’s a great way to stock up on off-season deals.

And if you have great clothes to get rid off, why not sell them off with this great company. They offer free packaging and free shipping to consignees, and they pay you 25% more if you agree to a store credit rather than cash. What a deal!

Now request a a bag, check their approved brand list, (I already did), and then go clean out your closet!  :)

Happy Friday!

Painting, painting, painting…and a guest blog post.

Well I am knee deep in paint at the moment.

But our cheap chic basement uplift is moving right along.

I can’t wait to share the before and after photos.

But in the meantime why don’t you click over to the Good Life Blog. Check out the guest post I wrote and my $3 desk chair makeover.


Happy Tuesday!


Monday Randomness: Random is the best way to describe it.

Well I got a notion to have a little party at my house in 1 week to celebrate the (almost) end of summer.

Just girls. Mostly family.

It’s just the kick in the pants we need to get a few small projects done just in time to have everyone over.

Oh things like painting the basement and a bathroom.

Framing and hanging a bunch of art.

Installing two new light fixtures.

Planting a few more perennials in the front yard.

Cleaning out the gutters.

Speaking of gutters.

Check out this lovely flower that was growing in them.

gutter flower

Anyway, Saturday my sisters/sister-in-law and I made a trip to Ikea in Charlotte to pick up a few fun things…and we were well overdue for some sister/sister-in-law time anyway.

So we spent the day shopping and eating: things that we do best.

We are overachievers that those areas :)

Well except for my sister-in-law who helps keep premature babies alive.

My little sister who does taxes like a boss.

And my other sister who has raised a child prodigy…I mean my niece can say the alphabet, and knows her numbers in French and English. Can your 2 year old do that?

Okay maybe shopping and eating are only the things I do best…

But we had a great time and even got to meet up with our Aunt Julie who lives in Charlotte:)

ikea 1

ikea 2

ikea full car

When I got home I realized that left me with 8 days to finish all said projects (see list above).

Am I crazy?

My husband would say, “Yes, but you are the nice kind of crazy.”

So I put my crazy self to work.

And the kids even got involved in the painting.

Thank goodness for tall stepsons.


On Sunday morning we attended church.

But before church I prepared my own version of this recipe from Can You Stay for Dinner.

It was hot and ready (not be be confused with Little Cesar’s pizza) in the slow cooker when we got home from the service.

One word describes it: YUM.

I served it with some simple veggies and fruit to make up for the fat laden entree.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Blue Cheese- Can You Stay for Dinner

Then in the afternoon I made a game plan for getting all my projects done this week and how to finish accessorizing the basement.

Before and after post to come. I can’t wait to share the basement transformation.

Wish us luck and Happy Monday.

PS: Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law :)

Retail Therapy: Anthropologie Candle Sconces And a Craigslist Find

Hello from the road (from somewhere in Ohio, I think).

Just a quick post today on my latest deals.

I have had my eye on these sconces from Anthropologie for some time.

I first spotted them in the store and then have been stalking them online ever since.

They are actually old clay roof tiles turned sconces. Super cute and unique.


I wanted to purchase two of them (for our manly basement overhaul I will be working on later this summer), but was unwilling to part with $60 in-order to have a pair of my own.

Randomly last week I received an email from Anthro with an additional 20% off coupon for sales items.

I quickly went to the site just hoping that my sconces were finally on sale.

They were and I scored them at 60% off!

Tapered Sconce

And it pays to be patient (or so I am learning:).

Speaking of being patient, I have been on the lookout for a leather sofa for sometime.

Like 9 months.

I needed another sofa for my man cave basement overhaul, and my husband had requested a leather sofa.

Well in the midst of packing for another 9 day trip I spotted this gem on Craigslist.

I always pick the worst times to buy furniture (hence the wedding reception set-up Vintage TV Stand)

Anyway wham bam, my brother was kind enough to pick it up for us and days later it is now residing in our house.


Can’t wait to see this basement overhaul complete!