How We Pinch Our Pennies

06.27.2013 by Emily |

boxwood clippings_money

One of our main objectives for this little blog of ours is to live beautifully on a tight budget. While we are no experts, we thought it might be beneficial to share a few of our habits now and again that are helping us live a frugal life.

EXPENDITURE LOGS

Just like a food journal leads to a higher chance of success for weight loss, so does tracking each penny. This one principle has completely changed my responsibility over money. While most of us have checking accounts that track our expenses, an itemized list is the only way to get an exact record of that $50 withdrawal from Target. Every item goes into its separate catagory accordingly, food into groceries, that card you bought into the gift category. Tracking expenditures for a few months is the easiest way to set a budget on all variable spending (everything other than set bills such as mortgage, car payments, utilities).

Everyone’s categories will be different, but after a few months of logging each item your categories will become apparent. My main spending is in the following categories: Groceries, Housekeeping, Personal (clothes, make-up, hair etc), and Gifts. I also have a misc category where I track random expenses as well as going out to eat.

MAKE A REALISTIC BUDGET

This seems very intuitive if you want to lead a frugal life but is trickier than it seems. It’s important to start with an expenditure log for at least 3 months and then average out each category of spending to create a realistic budget. Our budgets change from time to time as circumstances change, but a good rule of thumb is to have a tight enough budget to keep excess spending under control, and at the same time feel you have enough of the things you need. Not everything, but enough. To make a budget livable it’s important to include a few things that may not be 100% essential. For example, entertainment and eating out are always part of our budget, no matter how small we make these categories. It’s also a good idea to re-evaluate expenses at least once a year. The potential to save money on things such as insurance, cable, and phone are worth the time it takes to investigate.

.SET GOALS AND REWARDS

Everyone is different and you have to figure out how you can live frugally without wanting to kill yourself. It’s so hard for me just to save and watch the numbers grow, I want to know we are trying to reach our six month reserve, saving for a car, a trip etc. Budgeting is so much harder if you are not convicted on your goals. Setting realistic goals after you make a reasonable budget will help you stick to your plan. The reward is so much sweeter when you have worked hard to make your goal happen.

SHOPPING LISTS

Uggg, shopping lists. I hate ‘em, but they are such a valuable tool for frugal living! Not only do we make shopping lists for the grocery store, we make lists of everything we may need and want. For example, I keep an ongoing lists on my iphone of things I need in my closet, with the most important at the top of my list. If my budget doesn’t allow, it’s easy to look at my list for the next month and prioritize. I also try to have a little money set aside in my shopping budget in case there is a clearance item that is a steal of a deal. It’s hard to part with money when you don’t need something right that second, but you’ll be happy in October when you bought that cute sweater back in April for 70% off.

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SELL AND BUY ON CRAIGSLIST

I love, love, love selling things we no longer need on Craigslist or local classifieds. Having someone come over, and give you cash for your junk is the best feeling EVER! How much stuff do you have laying around your house that you never use? Try selling it! Likewise, if I need large items for our home I am always scouting the classifieds for a while before headed to the store. We have saved so much money doing this.

DONATE

If you have items that you cannot sell, make sure to donate your items to a thrift store. One man’s junk is another’s treasure! It feels good giving something away, hoping it will bring joy to someone else. Another perk are donations receipts, which you can keep as a charitable donation when it comes to filing taxes. :)

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Although money is not always fun to talk or think about, we feel a great sense of satisfaction knowing we’re doing our best. However, we’d love to know more, what tips can you share with us?

Holler Dollar Contest Winner

06.26.2013 by Emily |

A big congratulations to our winner, Terri for her patriotic holler dollar!!!

She purchased three flags for $1 at her local Target and placed them in all her hanging baskets. Aren’t they adorable?! We love how you can decorate seasonally with dollar finds.

WINNER

Thank you to all of those who entered, you truly know how to spend a buck we were so impressed. :)

Worth the Splurge: Guerlain’s Terracotta Bronzer

06.25.2013 by Sarah |

One of Em’s friends we suggested we do a “worth the splurge” post every-now-and-then, we loved the idea (thanks Bethany), so here we are our first recommended splurge…

………………………

This Guerlain’s bronzer was recommended to us when Mum was shopping for a new bronzer, we were sold on the spot which doesn’t happen very often! I’m not kidding when I say, I actually went to the ladies while Mum was trying some on and when I got back my mother looked more fresh and beautiful than when I left. I had to try some for myself, and also instantly feel in love.

$51 is way more than I usually pay for a bronzer, but our generous mummy surprised us with our own…naughty woman!

We each got matched to our shade, and surprisingly I wasn’t the lightest! Mine is 04 Sun Blondes, shown here…

boxwood clippings_guerlaire terracotta bronzer

We’ve had no buyers remorse as this baby has us looking radiant all day. Can you see the difference?

boxwood clippings_guerlaire terracotta bronzer

Picture 11 copy

(It’s even better in person:)

Usually bronzers last at least a year so we figured it’s actually quite cheap when you divide $51 into 365!

Also, (as mentioned before) we LOVE shopping at Nordstrom, especially with new expensive products it’s great to have the guarantee that we can return it at any time if we’re not happy.

On that note, have you local readers been noticing how Fashion Places’s Nordstrom has not been so great lately? We’ve totally switched to City Creek, way better customer service.

Anyhow…do you guys have any splurges we need to know about, do tell?!

Patriotic DIY Origami Stars

06.24.2013 by Sarah |

My nephews have been into origami lately, isn’t it amazing what you can create with a piece of paper? I’ve seen little stars on strings of lights, and after googleing origami stars I found THIS site with very easy instructions for any type of star you’d like. I fell for these 5 pointed ones.

I was playing around with just ordinary white paper while practicing but to my surprise they turned out cute enough to use, and complimented my simple patriotic banners perfectly. Again, I’m loving the not-so-over the top patriotic look. Do you like it too? Or are you missing the red and blue?

boxwood clippings_origami stars

 In a couple I decided to hole punch around the edges.

boxwood clippings_origami stars

A great project to do with bigger kids, or even the little ones could help decorate them once they were made.

boxwood clippings_origami stars

 Can you believe this was the result of 25 sheets of plain paper?

Decorations don’t get thriftier than this!

(Again, instructions found HERE)

 

BBQ Chicken Salad

06.21.2013 by Sarah |

BBQ anything is my fave, so naturally this BBQ Chicken Salad is up there on my regular meal menu.

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boxwood clippings_bbq chicken salad

 

What You’ll Need:

Your Favorite Lettuce  (we use Romaine or Green Leaf)

A Red Onion

Tomatoes

Corn (I love prefer fresh corn on the cob)

Chicken Breasts (I use rotisserie to save time)

Ranch Dressing

BBQ Sauce

Cilantro

Optional:

Grated Cheese

Fresh Pineapple

Black Beans

Directions:

Wash and prep all the veggies. Then top with chicken, lightly drizzle ranch and BBQ sauce and garish with cilantro.

This salad is super versatile so you can decide your quantities and proportions, I tend to go heavy on tomatoes, corn and lettuce and pretty light on everything else. It’s fun to mix it up and add different ingredients here and there. Fresh pineapple is amazing if it’s in season, we like to grill it with lime juice…YUM!

2013 Swim Trends at Target

06.20.2013 by Emily |

It’s time to hit the pool again, yipee! I am ALWAYS on the hunt for a flattering and modest swimsuit and this year I have found zero that have caught my eye for under $150. Really? It’s a swimsuit, not a ballgown! Then, Target came through once again with a fresh take on some popular swim trends with happy price-points too!

#1 The Swim Dress

Modest, flattering, slightly-retro, in this year’s hottest hues.

boxwoodclippings_target clean water swim dress

Swim Dress $39.99

If you favor classic black like us, look how gorgeous this swim dress is…

#2 Polka Dots

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of polka dots!!! Target has lots of dotty suits this year, this one being my favorite.

boxwoodclippings_target polka dot swimsuitPolka dot swimsuit $49.99

Do you have a baby girl? look no further than here!!!

#3 Ruffles

Ruffles are still going strong, especially when they look like they’re from a j crew catalog:

boxwoodclippings_gray ruffle swimsuitgray ruffled swimsuit $49.99

#4 Crochet

Crochet is everywhere this year, love it!

boxwoodclippings_crochet tankini

Crochet tankini $44.98 for top and bottom

What swim trends are you liking this year? Have you found any great deals?

Holler Dollar: Pill Box

06.19.2013 by Sarah |

This pill box in the Target Dollar Spot really caught my eye, and I’ve already found it uber helpful to have in my glovebox. It’s also available in yellow and hot pink, but this teal green was my fave. :)

boxwood clippings_holler dollar pill box

Remember, you still have time to enter the HOLLER DOLLAR CONTEST, where you could win a $20 gift card to the Dollar Tree! We’ve been really enjoying the submissions so far, and can’t wait to see more. Deadline is this Friday (June 21st), to see more details click HERE.

boxwood clippings_holler dollar

 

What can you find for a buck?

DIY Metal Cake Stand

06.18.2013 by Emily |

On my last trip to Ikea I spied a few items to use this idea for Kimberly’s baby shower.

candlestick + hot glue + plate = very cute cake stand

boxwood clippings_diy metal cakestand

boxwood clippings_diy metal cakestand 2

Large Cake Stand: $15 ($9.99 candlestick, $4.99 plate)

Small Cake Stand: $7 ($4.99 candlestick base, $1.99 plate)

These cakestands look great and cost a lot less than buying a comparible sized cake stand. I also bought extra plates to use as magnetic boards on our plate wall. Love Ikea! Have you been loving anything from Ikea recently?

DIY Personalized Sharpie Plates

06.17.2013 by Emily |

I have been dying to get some things up on the walls around here and saw these cute salad plates at Crate + Barrel that caught my fancy. I decided to try making them for our family room wall.

boxwood clippings_diy personalized plates

I bought a few different sized plates from the thrift store, sat down in front of the tv and got to work. I outlined my designs in pencil and then went over my design with a black sharpie.

boxwood clippings_diy personalized plates

This was super quick and easy and if I didn’t like the way it turned out I cleaned the plate with all-purpose cleaner and paper towel and started over.

I read on Pinterest you can bake the design at 350 for 30 mins, but I decided to skip this step so I can wipe off, and change the designs without buying new plates.

I used my handy-dandy command strips to attach the plates to the wall, so I can change the arrangement around without marking up the wall.

Fast, inexpensive and easy, it’s amazing what you can get done while watching tv! I think this would be a great project to do with kids this summer. Have you given sharpie plates a try get?

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

06.14.2013 by Sarah |

Back in high school we used to eat at the Pizza Factory all the time, and I’d always order their chicken caesar pasta salad.

One night many years later I got a craving for it, and thought it’d be super easy to imitate, and it was!

s
boxwood clippings_chicken caesar pasta salad

 

What You’ll Need:

Bow Tie Pasta

Romaine or Green Leaf Lettuce

Chicken (I use rotisserie)

Regular Bread

Caesar Dressing

Tomatoes/Parmesan Cheese/ Pepper/ Salt/ Olive Oil : for garnishing

j

Directions:

Boil water,cook pasta and cool. Meanwhile, chop up lettuce and place in large bowl with cooled pasta. Pour dressing over to taste and mix well. Serve on plate, and top with chicken, parmesan cheese, pepper and a tomato. Toast bread (about 1 slice per serving) under grill with olive oil and salt, when slightly cooled, rip apart and place on salad.

This has become one of our favorite go-to meals because Brock loves it so much. It’s not a guilt free salad, but SOOO yummy and awfully crunchy and perfect for any summertime supper!

 

Method Wood Cleaner

06.13.2013 by Emily |

One of the first things I needed to figure out when we moved house was how to clean my laminate wood floors. I asked a few family members and decided to give this Method wood cleaner a try.

boxwoodclippings_method floor cleaner

It works amazingly well, has a soft almond delicious smell and is non-toxic. I am addicted. You simply squirt a little of the solution onto the floor and use a microfiber mop like this $10 Clorox one I picked up from Target, to clean your floors. I could clean my floors all day long with this, but as they look great for after one brief sweep cleaning is done in a jiffy!

Thanks Mike, Mumsy and Sar! You can buy Method’s wood cleaner at Target for $4.99.

Any great products you are obsessed with? We’d love to give them a try.

Deal Altert: Great Boot Sale Now at Sundance Outlet

06.12.2013 by Sarah |

It’s hard to visualize freezing temperatures in this sweltering heat, but winter once again will show it’s face in just about 4 months (at least here in UT).

Yesterday we purchased these Sorel Boots at the Sundance outlet in SLC for only $45 (including tax), down from $150. The same boots on Amazon are still going for $132 and $89, which confirms what a great deal this actually is!

boxwood clippings_sorel boots

The boots which were originally priced at $150, were marked down to $89.99, then $74.99 and now marked at $59.99, BUT now through the end of June there’s an extra 30% off all their shoes, accessories and men’s clothing, making their final price $44.89 including tax.

If you’re interested, be sure to act fast. The selection was pretty stocked yesterday especically with larger sizes, but it’s sure to dwindle pretty fast with prices like these.

Good luck, and be sure to let us know of your great finds. :)

DIY Fabric Notice Board

06.11.2013 by sarah and emily |

Today we’d like to share how to make these super simple bulletin boards that we’ve had great success with.

boxwood clippings_diy notice board

Here’s What You’ll Will Need:

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

Picture Frame

Cork Board/ Sound Choice Board

Fabric

Batting

Staple Gun

Scissors, Ruler, Exacto knife

Directions:

1. Measure frame and cut board to fit (if the frame has a backing you can trace that size). We buy the 4′ x 8′ sound choice board from the hardware store or cork boards from the thrift store for our board.

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

2. Make sure the board fits in frame after cut, not too snug because the fabric will need to wrap over the board and take up a little space.

3. Use cut board to measure how much padding you’ll need. Cut to same size.

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

It should look like this:

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

4. Staple padding onto board.

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

5. Use your board to measure and cut fabric allowing about 1 1/2 inches on each side.

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

6. Start with a long side and staple back fabric. One staple about every 2 inches.

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

7. Next, staple the opposite side. Be sure to pull it so there’s no wrinkles.

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

8. Now for the edges. Follow these photos…

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

They should look something like this:

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

When you’ve stapled all around your board should look something like this:

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

9. To finish, simply staple to the frame so it’s secure.

boxwood clippings_diy fabric notice board

Playing around with size, fabric choices and nailhead trim to get the exact look and function you want for your space is great. We especially love them in our offices and by our by our entryways. Check out Sarah’s HERE.

We hope you enjoy creating your own boards and loving them as much as we do!

The Best $500 Couch: Ikea Ektorp

06.10.2013 by Emily |

We are always on the hunt for a great couch for clients, family and friends. After searching high and low we have concluded that this is the best around.

Picture 7This sofa is significantly less expensive than any other slipcovered couch we’ve been able to find (we’ve looked…a lot)

It also comes with a 10-year warranty, considerably better than more expensive brands that come with little warranty or none at all.

Not only does this couch beat competitor couches, we think it is also the best value in the Ektorp Series.

boxwoodclippings_ikea ektopr sofa

 

boxwoodclippings_ikea ektorp loveseat + chaise

 

boxwoodclippings_ektorp sectional

The 3-seater sofa is $399, 85″ long, and comfortably seats 3 people. Our favorite sofa is 99″ long, and has a chase which can easily handle 4-5 people for just $100 more.

The sectional is $799.00. It only offers only a little extra seating than our favorite and is $300 more expensive!

Obviously, the size and shape of your room dictate what sofa you need to purchase. But if you have an option, the loveseat + chaise combo is the biggest bang for your buck.

Color is also another huge factor in sofa shopping. Although, I love this gray color, the white is the only color that is machine washable. This was a huge selling point for me. We are hoping for babies and puppies at some point so wanted something that could be thrown in the washer. The white is at least $100 cheaper than the colors, and you can never go wrong with a blank canvas! No matter how much you change up the color scheme, this couch will always work.

We bought this couch and are more than happy with its looks and comfort. It may not last a lifetime, but we are more than happy $500 got us a machine-washable slipcovered sectional with a 10-year warranty!

Have you got a piece of furniture you love that was a great buy? We’d love to hear.

Decadent Strawberry Salad

06.07.2013 by Emily |

Salad season is in full swing so we’ve decided to share a few of our favorite recipes over the next few weeks. First up is this decadent strawberry salad. Our sister, Helen introduced us to this scrumptious salad and it’s been a favorite ever since.

boxwood clippings_strawberry salad

What You’ll Need:

h

Salad Dressing:

1 c Diced Red Onion

2 c Canola Oil

1 c White Sugar

2/3 c White Vinegar

2 tsp Dijon Mustard

2 tsp Salt

Salad:

Spring Mix

Strawberries

1 c Pecans

1 c White Sugar

Craisins

Cucumber

Feta

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Directions:

I usually start this salad by making the candied pecans. You’ll want to warm a frying pan on low/medium and mix the pecans and sugar until the sugar melts. You have to consistently stir or else you will burn both pecans and your pan, so make sure to do this ahead when you can have undivided attention. Once the sugar is melted, you can spread the pecans out onto foil to cool.

Next, it’s time to make the salad dressing. Blend all dressing ingredients together and store in air tight containers in your fridge until ready to serve. This makes a lot of dressing so you usually only need half for a large salad. I usually make a full batch as it keeps well in the fridge for a week, which also means you can prepare beforehand if you like.

When you’re ready to serve layer salad ingredients on a platter, drizzle the dressing and top with the candied pecans. You can play around with amounts of salad dressings to whatever you like. I like lots of cucumbers and feta!

Be prepared to dazzle your taste buds and your guests, this is a winner every time!

A Little Organized Hallway

06.06.2013 by Sarah |

Today we’re thrilled to be sharing a simple organization system over at Live Simply By Annie.

boxwood clippings_a little organized hallway

Annie has serious talent and an amazing blog…do pop over for visit. :)

Holler Dollar Contest!

06.06.2013 by Sarah |

Good morning!!! Today we’re delighted to be announcing our first Holler Dollar Contest, where you dear readers get the chance to win a $20 gift card to the Dollar Tree…whoot whoot!

boxwood clippings_holler dollar

We love sharing our $1 finds, and hope that you’ve been finding some of your own. Well now we’d love you to share, please send us your photos of your best $1 purchases and we’ll pick out our favorite and you’ll win the gift card!

Please send entries to mail[at]boxwoodclippings[dot]com with your name, contact, and product information (photo, price + store ) by June 21st, plenty of time to keep your eye’s peeled, we’ll announce the winner June 26th.

Good luck! We can’t wait to see what you’ll find :)

Great Gifts for Baby

06.05.2013 by Emily |

We are two baby-crazy sisters. We are both dying to be mummy’s and are loving anything small and cute. We’ve been researching so many baby things and have collected a list of favorite go-to gifts for all of the new babies in our lives. Here is our top five:

boxwoodclippings_swaddle designs blanket

Swaddle Designs receiving blankets make our number one spot! We buy them at Nordstrom with complimentary gift wrap for an easy gift, as well as buying them in bulk directly from their website. We always make sure to check for deals in their clearance section here. Nothing is cuter than a baby swaddled up and ready for a snuggle, especially in such a cute blanket.  Everyone raves about how much perfect they are. Learn about the benefits of swaddling here.

boxwoodclippings_ralph lauren baby night gown

We’re obsessed with Ralph Lauren night gowns. Not only are they gorgeous, but the baby can wear these gowns until they are a year or so as opposed to a normal jammies that they grow out of so fast. They also make for a super quick diaper change in the night – so much easier than having to snap all those snappers!

boxwoodclippings_bunnies by the bay bunnies

Bunnies by the Bay: The softest, cutest baby toy you will ever find. Read Sarah’s bunny post here.

boxwoodclippings_manhattan wooden baby beads

Manhattan Toy Classic Toy Beads: Fun wooden toy for baby that can double as a funky bracelet for momma.

boxwoodclippings_baby mocs

We still love baby mocs for a stylish and soft way to keep your babies tiny feet warm.

We hope this gives you a few ideas for next time you are baby shopping. What’s your favorite gift to give for a baby?

Bathroom Countertop Organization

06.04.2013 by Sarah |

Bathrooms are one of those rooms that get messy really fast, especially the counter space. By my having the products I use the most often displayed on the counter, they get put away quickly and still look presentable…

boxwood clippings_bathroom organizing

boxwood clippings_bathroom organization

I’ve never been a fan of bathroom accessories (overpriced and too granny), and prefer to use things from the kitchen. Glasses and plates work double duty in our house.

With products that don’t’ have the best packaging I simply tear off the label to look more uniformed; a little crazy I know, but hey it only takes a second and looks way better!

Do you have vanity tips? Like how to stop your husband from splashing on mirror!? Do tell!

$10 Snapshot Wall (or free with coupons!)

06.03.2013 by Sarah |

It’s been said, that as a people we are taking more photos than ever. As a photographer, I think that’s simply amazing.

I’m a little obsessed with documenting life, and it was that idea that first compelled me towards photography in the first place. After all, a picture holds a thousand words, and for me a snapshot holds a thousand memories.

But with the blessing of digital freedom, many of us are not printing what we shoot. And with that we’re missing out on another layer photography. We went from negatives and prints, to digital files just put away and forgotten.

In efforts to enjoy my photographs more, I’m bringing them out of the digital world to the physical and temporally filling my staircase with snapshots….

boxwood clippings_snapshot wall

boxwood clippings_snapshot wall

I’ve been loving catching a glimpse as I run up the stairs. When I asked Brock what he thought, he said it looks like someone’s facebook page!

boxwood clippings_snapshot wall

boxwood clippings_snapshot wall

I had some free prints coupons to use so all this was free. But even without coupons it’d only cost around $10, which is a small price to fill such a big space.

I made all the prints black and white so they’d be more uniformed. Then once I started taping them on the wall I decided I’d just to the horizontal ones together it looked cleaner! I like order, what can I say?

My wall of snaps make me so happy, it’s a nice reminder of the good things in life!