We’re pretty broke after buying our new home. What are your top 3 tips for DIY decorating on a budget?
Every new homeowner creates a "wish list" a mile long once they receive the keys to the front door. Of course, after watching your savings drain down to nothing, making these wishes into a reality is always so difficult. Don't be crazy and force yourself into debt trying to transform your new abode overnight - instead, think outside the box (actually, to be more precise, think outside the front door). One thing that drives me crazy is how homeowners usually ignore the outside of their new house until the inside is absolutely "perfect." Creating interior perfection usually takes longer than expected, and in the meantime, your front yard (the face of your home!) ends up looking withered and sad. But don't worry - it's nothing a little DIY home decorating can't fix. Start by painting the front door a bold, eye-catching shade. Next, flank the front door or porch with planters filled with willowy, rich and hardy liriope grass or architectural evergreens. Complete the look of homey-ness by adding subtle exterior lighting to infuse the front of your home with a warm glow. Welcome home!!!
What's a quick and easy recipe for your favorite cold weather drink (that I can also make as a mock-tail for the kids)?
I turned 21 on the slopes of snowy Colorado (well, actually more like on a bar stool in snowy Colorado) and my very first legal, adult beverage was known by the locals as a “Smuggler”: hot chocolate mixed with peppermint schnapps and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. What my 21 year-old self didn't realize then is that it’s probably best to stop after two of these deliciously sweet belly warmers, but even now I still love to sip on this rich, chocolatey concoction on cold nights. While I'm far past 21 (what??? Who said that!?), this quick and easy drink always brings back good memories. If you're making them for the whole family, just skip the schnapps and add a peppermint stick and a drop of peppermint extract for the kiddos.
This year's Spring Break is on a budget. What's your best "stay-cation" idea that the whole family will be excited about?
We all lead such hectic lives: work schedules, school schedules, social schedules....ugh!! On top of all this chaos, we have been so conditioned to think that the only way to really unwind is with a ticket to a tropical locale, followed by cabana boys and fruity drinks. NOT SO. “Vacation” is truly defined as a period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, and relaxation. If purse strings are super tight, there is nothing relaxing about spending money you don't have to provide yourself and your family with a getaway. We seem to be so enamored with distant lands that we often forget about our own "hood." This Spring Break, use the internet to scour your area for new restaurants, museums, and other entertainment destinations - I promise there are tons of places you have yet to experience within 50 miles of your own home. Each family member gets a day to plan. Think about unusual restaurants or pack your own themed picnic and head to a beautiful park. Plan a scavenger hunt and invite a few other families for a friendly competition. Become your own mixologist and reveal your new (perhaps questionable) concoctions by throwing a small cocktail party. The idea is not to use this time to pout about your current financial status, but to take a breath and find pleasure and satisfaction in the smallest details. Not only will your budget thank you, but you also might discover something (or someone!) that’s been living right under your nose. And an added bonus to this plan? No vacation laundry!!!
My girlfriends and I all lost our sitters for our usual happy hour this weekend - what's a good way to turn our Friday into a kid-friendly, at home affair?
When I was a kid, my mother had seven girlfriends, who all referred to themselves as “The Hens.” Between these seven women, there were probably twenty kids ranging in age from toddler to teenager, and I can assure you that nothing stopped these women from gathering. There was no nanny, no babysitter, and the dads damn sure weren't hanging around to help out. These women bounced from house to house, kids and booze in tow. Look, before you start preaching about kids and alcohol and responsibility, take a breath. I'm not talking about getting trashed and driving the kids around town. I'm talking about having an impromptu wine and cheese night - who really cares about what the house looks like or how you're dressed? Enlist the older kids to come up with fun activities for the littler ones, and have your gals bring their favorite bottle and put out a few easy snacks. Some of the most relaxing times in my life have been on my Texas screen porch drinking wine with girlfriends while the kids play tag in the backyard. Sounds very Mayberry, huh?
My daughter just turned 13 and all of a sudden despises the way her room is decorated. How can I do a little DIY home decor and transform her room into a teenage hangout for $100 or less?
One thing I've learned from having a couple of teenage nieces is that they LOVE to LOOK at THEMSELVES, more than life itself. An easy DIY decorating idea is to let your daughter select a handful of her favorite candid, digital portraits of her and her friends and frame them for her. There are so many websites out there that offer amazing deals on printing custom digital photos with cool effects: Snapfish, Shutterfly, Winkflash, BigHugeLabs - the list goes on and on. These sites can turn your photos into mosaics, pop art posters, jigsaws, black and white posters, banners, or countless other things your daughter will absolutely adore. The prices vary, but are all very affordable. Your teenager can frame these with inexpensive black or brightly colored craft store frames, and begin art directing her private, too-cool-for-school, keep-out-OR-ELSE, room. Trust me, this will be the easiest dilemma you will face living under the same roof as a 13 year old. Good luck...Q&A