Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Decorating Project

That week just flew by for us! On Monday I was having lunch with a colleague, and then all of a sudden it was Friday night. How did that happen?

I guess the big thing this week was that my friend Joyce and I started brainstorming how to makeover the patio room. This will be yet another transformation out there. There have been so many over the years. When we talked about doing a project together several months ago, I was thinking I'd like to focus on my bedroom. But last week the sofa in the patio room was damaged beyond repair in an incident with the cat, and that made it necessary to concentrate on the patio room first.

After removing the sofa, here's what the room looks like:

As you can see, the kid and the cat currently have the run of the place. I'm not planning on kicking them out, but I do want the room to serve two purposes. First, I want another sofa in the room for a little sitting area. I've decided on the Ektorp love seat from IKEA. I am already planning to replace my living room sofa with the Ektorp sofa. The Ektorp pieces are great because they are slipcovered, and the covers can be washed (and bleached) in the washing machine at home. That's a huge plus for a home with kids and pets. I also think they look nice and fit my style:

So that's my huge design idea for the room. Joyce is really driving the creative end of the project, and she's donating a cute table and chairs so that the room can also be used for dining. Her table and chairs are so nice, and they will give us an alternative to eating in the kitchen. We usually do eat in the kitchen, but it does get hot in there if the oven has been on.

Joyce has the cutest house and a real knack for decorating. She's also very, very thrifty. In fact, we spent some time at the Goodwill earlier this week, and I scored brand new pillows for the sofa and a brand new lamp for about $24 total! You just can't beat that. Then we went over to Hobby Lobby and picked out some fabric to recover two of the chair seats. She reminded me to pull up a Hobby Lobby coupon for 40% off, and we walked out of there with a yard and a half of fabric for under ten bucks.

We are full of motivation and ideas, but shorter on time and funds for everything we want to do. I'm thinking we will finish this up over the next couple of months. I'll be sure to post the after pics!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Family Field Trip

As a teacher, I know the value of learning outside the classroom. And I oftentimes encourage my students to ask their parents to take them to points of interest that are connected to our curriculum. I call these kinds of day trips "family field trips", and at the end of last week we took one with my sister.

Long Beach does have a great aquarium, but I decided we'd visit the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium just a little further up the coast in San Pedro. The Cabrillo Aquarium is free to the public, but they recommend a $5 donation per visitor.

We were a little surprised that they have a late opening at noon, so lunch beforehand was necessary. Ports O' Call Village is just five minutes away from the aquarium, so we pulled in there for some nutrition. Auntie helped us find the right place to eat on Yelp, and some friendly diners helped us decide on what to order. We chose the jumbo shrimp fajitas platter that was served with garlic bread (instead of tortillas). Also tempting was the full tilapia - that's what we're going to try next time, but the fajitas were delicious.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer Shopping

Since I became a mother, there are certain things for Michaela that I make a point of shopping for during my summer vacation.

First, since September and October (and usually November) can have really hot weather here in Southern California, I shop for a new set of summer-type clothes for her. Her shorts are still in good condition usually, but her tops and tanks can be stained and faded from summer activities and washings. Thankfully, some of my favorite places to shop for her will have big sales and clearances on their summer clothing, and I'll be able to update her wardrobe with some cute things for preschool.

Here are some such Gymboree pieces (via Zulily) that I was able pick up deeply discounted in late June:

I probably could have found those items in store had we gone out shopping together, but the convenience of shopping online is hard to beat. I will say that I cross-checked the prices between Zulily and Gymboree for the same items, and Zulily had them for less.

Of course she'll be in need of new sandals and enclosed shoes (a must for school!) when school begins, too. Once again, I have frequent luck on Zulily, but I also like for discounted shoes. Here's what we have stashed in the closet for early fall:

I love a good deal on shoes. I try to find deals between $20 and $25. Michaela has very long and narrow feet, and I've found the brands most likely to fit her well are Stride Rite and Pediped. Sometimes that means I have to spend a little bit more, but I can usually hold out until they are featured on Zulily or find them discounted on

So, as you can probably tell, I am a discount shopper. I do like certain brands, but I will not pay full price. I couldn't care less about designer kids clothes. I like to get Michaela's tops for as close to $5 or less as possible, pants or jeans for around $10, and dresses for about $15. She just outgrows things too quickly to spend more than that. Most of her pieces get six months (or less) wear before she outgrows them, stains them, or the seasons change.

Some of my favorite places to shop for her clothes are Crazy8 and Gymboree - which are part of the same corporation. I like their designs because I think they honor the innocence and whimsy of childhood, and for the quality of their items. In particular, Gymboree has excellent quality and a good resell value.

I'll share more about resell value and shopping for gently used (and new!) clothing for kids in an upcoming post.

(This is not a sponsored or affiliate post.)