12.27.2011

Opportunistic Shopping

First of all, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I started to feel better on Christmas Eve, thankfully. I'm pretty sure my husband was extremely relieved to have me back in business so we could properly enjoy the holiday. Poor guy had been taking care of me all week, and that's no fun.

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at our own house before packing up the car and heading to my parents' house, which is about three hours from Dallas. We've been here a couple days and will begin a Griswold-like adventure tomorrow when we pack the car with four people, four dogs, lots of luggage and presents. We're headed to El Paso to visit Scott's family and my brother and his wife. Forgive me for not blogging regularly this week!

For the second year in a row, we decided to make the trek over to San Marcos for the post-Christmas sale on Dec. 26. It's always a madhouse, but we can't resist the lure of a good deal!

The first store we always visit is the Pottery Barn outlet. We've gotten a couple of great things there in the past, and my parents have scored some amazing bargains there.

We ended up walking out with a brand new dining table! This beautiful Montego straight leg dining table was an amazing bargain. Originally priced at $1,699, we bought it for $220. That's about 87% off! They don't carry it on the Pottery Barn website anymore, so I guess they are trying to get rid of the extras. The manager told us that they were shipped a ton of them for Black Friday, and these were the leftovers from that sale.

It's a really simple, classic table that we hope to keep for a really long time. It has two extensions that allow it to sit up to 10 people, which we think is pretty awesome. It is SO heavy. Now there is a massive box in our truck that weighs about a million lbs. We have no idea how we'll be able to unload it once we get it home, but I'm sure we'll figure it out!




Did we plan to buy a new dining table yesterday? Nope. My mom gave me a dining table during my sophomore year of college, so I've had it for at least six years now. It's been painted tons of different colors and has started to wobble a bit. Still, we weren't planning on replacing it anytime soon.

However, we are definitely opportunistic shoppers. I prefer to shop without an urgent need so that I'm not forced to pay full price for something or buy something that I don't really love. When we had the opportunity to buy a really nice quality dining table in a classic form that wouldn't go out of style, we had to jump on it.

We weren't done with our completely random purchases. The husband spotted these huge outdoor umbrellas that were heavily discounted and immediately thought we needed one for our patio. They were down from $349 to $31, so we bought one big one and one smaller one. More opportunistic shopping!

Pottery Barn

Did you join the frenzy of the day-after-Christmas sales? The outlet mall was OVERWHELMED with people and crowds. What bad economy? It seemed like everyone was out shopping!

My parents have recently completed a big renovation on their house in which they knocked down a wall and expanded their house onto what used to be the patio. It's pretty impressive and I hope to have a blog post to share with you about it tomorrow. My mom is an excellent decorator and their house is always beautiful. I shared their New Jersey cottage last year if you want to check it out. It was so cute that it sold for full asking price in its first day on the market!

* Back to the real world... *
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12.23.2011

*Merry Christmas*


* Love, The Happy Homebodies *

PS. This photo was taken in Tuscany, and I had the cards printed by www.Vistaprint.com– very affordable.
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12.22.2011

Randoms: Holiday Cheer

Hi everyone!

Bleh, do I feel sick! I've got some yucky virus that's all sore throat and sinus problems, leaving me a little short on holiday cheer right now. That being said, Christmas doesn't wait for sick people. Presents must be purchased! I dragged myself out of the house last night to pick up some gifts and visit the Anthropologie sale.

True story: I was at the Anthropologie in Southlake (which is a wealthy, ritzy suburb of DFW), when I reached into my purse to pull out some toilet paper. At this point I was out of tissues and had turned to toilet paper instead, carrying a roll with me everywhere. I was pulling the TP out of my purse with my really sad-looking face (to say that my face is red and raw doesn't begin to describe it) when I locked eyes with a nice fellow shopper. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Sorry..." and she said, "You poor little thing!" She had the most pitying look on her face. I don't know why, but it was really embarrassing to find myself makeup-less, desperately clutching toilet paper inside of the Anthropologie at Southlake Town Square. A humbling moment, for sure.

Anyway, back to the Anthropologie sale! If you are an Anthropologie fan, you must visit your local store or go to the website. They are having an additional 50% off clearance, which brings the prices down to TJ Maxx or Target level. Woot woot! I walked out with four cute tops and a 2012 calendar, and I was pretty pumped about it. My local store had a way better selection than the website, so you may want to pay yours a visit. I don't normally buy Anthro stuff because it's so expensive, but this sale brings it down to my frugal level!

I picked up this shirt in black for only $20. It's so comfortable and flattering!


Anthro

There are some real deals to be had in their home section, too. This beautiful velvet quilt (stunning in person) can be yours for only $90 for the twin or $112 for the king.

Anthro





I also love these curtains, on sale for $50. How cute would these be in a nursery or child's room? (Or my room, for that matter! I love polka dots.)

Anthro




This sale is going until Dec. 31, and they're also offering 50% off holiday decor and gift wrap.

What else is cheering me up while I sniffle and cough all day? Online window shopping, of course. It's very easy to do from my perch on the couch.

In addition to the great Anthropologie deals, there is a lot of cute jewelry in the Kate Spade sale section. My best friend got me a black and gold Kate Spade bangle for Christmas! It even has a cute little bow on it. It's awesome. Check out this curling ribbon ring, on sale for $46. I love how Kate Spade's stuff doesn't take itself too seriously.

Kate Spade




These natural-color monogrammable dish towels from West Elm are on sale for $6.40 when you use the 20% off discount (SAVESAVE). I think it'd be a really nice gift. The grey ones are on sale for $8.

West Elm




Things have really calmed down for us this week, thankfully. If I had gotten sick last week when I had so many deadlines, I would have been in trouble!

So, do you have big holiday plans?

We are headed to my parents' house in Brownwood late Christmas day, and then we're trouping over to the mega outlets in San Marcos for some post-Christmas deals. Last year we came home with some great shelves and a desk from the Pottery Barn outlet. Braving the shopping madness has become a little annual tradition for us... My mom and I are warrior shoppers. I just hope I've got this virus beat by then so I can be at full power!

On the 28th we're headed to El Paso to spend time with Scott's family and to see my brother and his wife. I'm definitely looking forward to that! The 8-hour drive will probably be a big adventure with four people, four dogs and a lot of luggage. We'll see how that goes!

Now, a burning question... Do you have a traditional meal that you make for Christmas or Christmas Eve dinner? I'm trying to come up with ideas for a meal I can whip up (easily) that could become a yearly tradition. Right now I'm leaning toward enchiladas since those are my husband's favorite, but I'm open to any and all ideas. Let me know in the comments if you have any great easy recipes!


* Safe travels! *
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12.19.2011

Yummy, EASY Christmas Treats

I like to make edible goodies for Scott's teacher friends for the holidays, especially the ladies who help him out a lot. Last year we made these Nutter Butter santa cookies, which are about the cutest things ever. (Delicious, too!)



I didn't want to make the same cookies again, and to be honest, I didn't want to make something so time consuming. Luckily I now have Pinterest in my life, so there is no shortage of cute and easy ideas. 
I decided to make these two treats: Hershey Hugs pretzel bites and Rolo pretzel bites.

To spice it up, I bought some different flavors of Hershey Kisses, including a mint version and a candy cane version. I had to taste test both versions and wow, SO yummy. The candy cane version has tiny bits of crunchy candy cane inside, and the mint version has a minty filling that just melts in your mouth.

The process is super, super simple. Line your cookie sheet with wax paper and add the pretzel snaps and Hugs. 





Bake them in the oven at 300 for 2-3 minutes until glossy, but don't let them melt all over the place. (Messy!!) When you bring them out, gently place another pretzel on top to make a pretzel sandwich. Throw them in the fridge to cool down, and you're good to go! They basically taste like chocolate covered pretzels but are much less labor-intensive.



The Rolo bites have the same process except you place a pecan or walnut on top instead of another pretzel. 

I used some simple clear bags and craft ribbon to cinch them up, adding gold polka dot gift tags from Hobby Lobby. Easy cheesy!



The husband gladly taste-tested all of the different versions and concluded the Hug pretzel bites were his favorite. Trust me when I say that they are all delicious!

If you're looking for other yummy Christmas treats, check out these promising ideas I saw on Pinterest:


I love Pinterest for so many reasons, but I've gotten the most use out of the food section. I love the simple and easy cooking ideas that people come up with! I've tried many of them and have a lot more on my to-do list.

Have you whipped up any yummy treats lately? Let me know if you have any that you recommend!


* nom nom nom *


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12.18.2011

San Antonio Adventures

We went to San Antonio this weekend. It was awesome! We hung out on the River Walk, toured some really cool caverns, lost our breath climbing back up 18 stories of caverns, watched some volleyball and ate way too much queso!


The River Walk





Dinosaur love.




Cavern nerds.




Natural Bridge Caverms




Biggest volleyball ever at the NCAA VB championship game.




Remember the Alamo!!!




If you ever get a chance to visit San Antonio during the holidays, I totally recommend it. The lights on the River Walk are seriously stunning!

How was your weekend? Do you have your Christmas shopping finished up?


* Queso hangover! *
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12.16.2011

* Happy Weekend *

It has been one CRAZY week. In fact, the last two weeks have been beyond busy. I guess it must be the holidays, right? I had a big magazine deadline at work and spent all of my free time shopping to spend the $2,200 my coworkers donated so that we could sponsor two families from Children's Hospital for Christmas. Let me tell you, with my bargain ways and the low prices on kid stuff (most of it), it was really tough to spend that much! I know that's a good problem to have, but it took me a long time to hunt down entire Christmases for 8 people. In the end, I had a gigantic pile of awesome gifts to drop off for the families, so we were all feeling pretty warm and fuzzy about that.

Anyway, we're off to San Antonio tonight to experience the Riverwalk at Christmas! It's going to be so fun. We're meeting up with some great friends of ours that moved away this past summer for a little grown-up vacation. They're leaving their kids with grandma and we're leaving our kids dogs with the grandparents, too. We're going to watch the NCAA volleyball championship match! I don't know if you know this about me, but I played college volleyball and am a coach in my free time. The two friends we are meeting up with are also former college volleyball players, so we are excited about the game. We'll be leaving the husbands at the hotel, since they would totally cramp our style.

Southern Living


I'm really looking forward to next week, when I think everything is going to calm down a little bit. We have almost all of our Christmas shopping done and I'll be in the lull between work deadlines. The hubs actually has a bit of vacation from work altogether (the perks of being a teacher).

Meanwhile, I wanted to share some deals I've spotted on the web this week. I've done tons of Christmas shopping online this year, and it's the best! If you can get free shipping, why not?

• First of all, I found a coupon app that has been coming in handy lately. It's called "The Coupons App" and it is free! I downloaded it to my iPhone and have been using the coupons ever since. They can scan them directly from your phone at checkout! Not only does it list the latest coupon codes and deals for stores, but it also tells you where to find the cheapest gas in your area. I knew I was going to be buying a lot of clothes for this charity donation project, so I went to Old Navy and used the coupons from this app, include $10 off a $50 purchase, to stretch the donations even further. You can search the coupons by store. It's pretty great!

• Anthropologie is having an additional 30% off sale items. They don't have a lot of sales, so I'm always excited when a discount pops up.

• 30% off your entire purchase in stores and online at J Crew with the code CHEER.

• Another thing I just discovered... You can sign up for text coupons from Target. Just this week I wanted a $10 Merona cardigan from Target, and I had a text coupon for $3 off anything from Merona. Nice!

• Free shipping at Pottery Barn & affiliates with FREESHIP. Looks like it expires tonight! Use WITHLOVE for West Elm.

• 40% off at The Limited- SHOP40

• 50% off everything at NY&Co. No code necessary!

• 40% off your entire order at Lands End. I bought some monogrammed fleece blankets from their as Christmas gifts this year and was very pleased. Plus they have a new Lands End Canvas line that is "younger" and has a modern spin on their normal stuff. 

• 40% off full price stuff at Ann Taylor Loft. SHOP40


* Happy Shopping *
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12.13.2011

Holiday Home Tour

We have decked the halls! Check it out:

This is our wreath year-round, but the big red bow dresses it up for the holidays.


I made these big ornaments last year using Hobby Lobby forms, Mod Podge and wrapping paper.



Part of the fun of shopping the post-holiday sales is that you forget you bought new decorations! That was the case with this wrought iron tree on our dining table. I totally forgot that I bought it last year at the Pier 1 post-Christmas sale. (It was extra cheap because it is missing the star on top.)




See that red hot air balloon ornament? We bought that in Venice over Thanksgiving. Isn't it cute?

Yes, I tied a red bow on our horse sculpture. I needed some antlers and he would be perfect!

Yes, the tree is leaning. Oh well, I tend to think that just gives it character.














These wreaths on our french doors are basically my only new purchase for the holiday decorations this year. They are actually red berry wreaths by Martha Stewart via Home Depot. Love them!

How's your house looking? Are you officially ready for the holidays?


* Ho Ho Ho *


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*Winning*

Hey, guess what? We won* the HomeGoods Tablescapes Contest, hosted by Centsational Girl!




*By winning, I mean that we basically got second place. That's still a victory in my book because we still get a prize– a $50 gift card to HomeGoods! Seeing as that is my favorite store, this is definitely a WIN.

You can view our entry HERE.

I really like the tablescape that ended up being the grand prize winner, so I can't complain at all. They did a woodsy outdoor table, like something you would find in the coziest enchanted forest in the land. Check out the winning entry and all the others that caught the judges' eye right HERE.

So many cool ideas! As one commenter said, "Very pinnable!"


* Second place is the new first place! Haha! *
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12.12.2011

Chalkboard Snowflakes

One of the fun parts of painting the inside of your front door with chalkboard paint is that you can change it to go with the seasons!

I decided to draw some snowflakes in honor of the holidays.





We only have one little smudging problem by the door handle, but that's to be expected. 

 

It's a fun little way to add personality to our home! I'll be back later this week to show you the full holiday house tour so you can see how we have it decked out for Christmas. 

I'm linking up to the Christmas craft party over at Centsational Girl. Come join the fun!


* Let it snow *
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