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Clearly The Fix

June 08, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  8 responses

Although not a remarkable change to the untrained eye and touch, I finally made some necessary updates to the kitchen. The updates I’m talking about involve my friend water-based Minwax Polycrylic. Hello there, pretty.

Poly, my new best friend in the kitchen.

At just $10 from Home Depot, this inexpensive update will help my kitchen shelving and DIY’ed island table endure some real wear and tear if I decide to get rowdy with my casserole dishes. There isn’t a lot to see, since I’m writing about a process and product that’s semi-glossy and as transparent as can be, but I’ll tell you that I had a really swell application experience, if that counts for anything.

The open shelves that I installed in place of the cabinets get ragged on daily as dishes and colanders and mixing bowls and glasses move around. When they were painted last winter, I did make the effort to seal in the work with a coat of spray gloss but I hadn’t been confident in it as a long-term sealant. It was the middle of winter and my ventilation was limited (I sprayed in the garage with the door open, which was tolerable, but I questioned what my results would be if I used a product with a longer dry time in sub-freezing temperatures). Now it’s warmer, so I took advantage of that and got wild with Poly on the deck. A simple one day project (that really only took about 45 minutes total without dry time). Sort of sounds like Poly has taken on a female persona. Maybe I’ve had too much coffee today.

A fresh coat of the water-based poly on each shelf yielded pure shininess, and the surface seems substantially more durable both to the touch and in appearance; maybe you can tell based on this shiny, shiny photo:

Glossy kitchen shelf.

The kitchen island had actually never been painted officially (shame shame on me); I had only primed it over the winter to seal it up a little bit until I decided on a paint color for the whole base (still undecided). Primer was a little less forgiving when it came to spaghetti sauce and ice cream and coffee stains, so the time had come to give it what it really needed, which was a nice fresh coat of white paint and a glossy topcoat to seal the deal.

Check out this Before + After. Same camera, same table, higher level of semi-glossy perfection.


Kitchen Island: Before. Has a more subtle primer sheen; is wearing down.


Kitchen Island: After. Shiny. Ooh, ahh.

Yay? Yay. All glossy surfaces wipe clean with mucho ease, and I don’t have to be so uptight about the dings and the nicks and the bangs that are inevitable when I’m thrashing around the kitch.

P.S. Once upon a time I heard some great things about an alternative and fume-free product called Safepoly but couldn’t find it anywhere I looked; if you know where I can find it, let a girl know.


Sly Savings Exposed

June 07, 2011   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, Helping The Economy   //  By: Emily   //  16 responses

The kick-off of this whole entrepreneurial venture engages the art of the thrift. My salvage and saving skills are well-honed, if I do say so myself, and while I’m not an extreme couponer, I wish I could be. A whole shelf full of pasta? Unlimited toilet paper? Endless laundry detergent? Dreamy. Maybe someday I’ll commit myself to those efforts for real, but I’m not that good yet.

Plus, I’m building a business and that’s taking up most of my waking hours.

My most noteworthy money-back-in-the-Orla-Kiely-wallet strategies have been in motion for years. And it pays, which is the real reason why I keep on doing it, and am sharing today.

  • Lucky Rewards
  • RetailMeNot
  • Erie County Fair, 2004.
  • Starbucks Gold
  • CitiCards
  • Amazon Prime

1. Lucky Magazine Rewards:

I’ve been a subscriber of Lucky Mag for somewhere around a decade; I lost track of the length of my relationship, but I do know that I scored my subscription at uber-uber-discount years ago, and I think I’m still paid through 2015. The best subscriber benefits is the Lucky Rewards program, which was among the first affiliate programs of it’s kind that I leeched on to. Before I make an online purchase, I’m likely to poke around this site and see if there are any cash-back incentives available, whether it be 1%, 5%, or (and I miss this) 20%, which is what I was getting back from Zappos when I was in college. Order through the link on Lucky Mag, get cash back in your account.

The subscription pays for itself. My Lucky Rewards have redeemed me over $230.00 (Just a brainy guesstimate. I can’t verify with a screen grab, because in 2008 they updated systems and I can no longer access my old reward data.)

The company has an established email marketing strategy, the messages from which I’ve gotten good at deleting without opening so I don’t find myself being tempted to spend, spend, spend to save, save, save (bad news bears in true snowball effect). This week’s is from Lord & Taylor, if you want to subscribe and get all over ordering some fancy sandals and summer dresses.

Lucky Rewards

2. RetailMeNot:

I know there are lots of great coupon code sites out there but I’ve turned to these guys for years now with lots of success . Like Lucky Rewards, I turn to this site to check for codes anytime I’m about to order something online, most of the time finding something, whether it be a discount or free shipping upgrade. Cha-ching! Insta-savings, baby.

3. Snapfish:

I’ve been a Snapfish-girl for 9 years. I loved them way before they were big and all HP’ed-out. I still purchase prints once or twice a year (which most people don’t bother with anymore) because I like the option of framing my pictures and so I select the best of the best just to be able to flip through. Snapfish has also served as a good place to backup photos; I actually wouldn’t have this file of me with the goats at the Erie County Fair if it weren’t for having uploaded it in August of 2004. (Death of a hard drive is a sensitive subject and another topic all together.)

Erie County Fair, 2004.

How do I save money by using Snapfish? Well, it’s cheaper than buying prints from Rite Aid or Target, and I get a really good value by buying prints in bulk from Snapfish in quantities of 250 (for $20). The bulk order discount is substantial, and the credits carry over from year to year if you place at least one order per year. I usually wait for free shipping offers, wink, and save myself a few more dollars.

I’ve also referred other folks and been rewarded 200 free prints over the years. And they also have extremely good customer service in my 9-year experiences; any issues with the quality or mail have always been fixed. I should just be hired for a Snapfish testimonial.

4. CitiCards ThankYou Points:

No one’s a stranger to the concept of ThankYou Points. I responsibly pay everything with my credit card these days. Emphasis on Responsibly. I’m not in credit card debt and keep the card balance at zero by spending what I’m budgeted to and pay off the card before the monthly statement and interest charges have a chance to generate. Free money, no interest fees, free points that accumulate and provide me with precious $100 Marshall’s gift cards every time I’m up to 10,000 credits. It’s a good reward for good behavior. And it’s a happy-dance kind of day when those free gift cards arrive.

5. Starbucks Gold:

We like Starbucks over here. Don’t hate on us for supporting the big guys. I like normal out of the coffee pot coffee just fine, but no one, including myself has been able to duplicate a Venti Peppermint Non-Fat, No-Whip, No-Foam, Extra-Hot Mocha like my very-routined neighborhood baristas. The Gold card is an upgrade from a normal registered gift card, and we benefit from some of the perks. Mostly, a 75-cent savings on my Peppermint Shot but also freebie coupons every 15 card swipes, which happens more than you’d think.

6. Gas Stations.

What? Yeah, this is new and just a temporary promotion, but I’m workin’ it. The Hess Express location nearest my house had a banner inserted above the pump one day that caught my eye; with every purchase of 8+ gallons, get a free water bottle for a penny. Really, this is a penny + 5 cent refundable deposit in NY, but it’s a nearly free bottle of water to consume in my travels. Between Pete and I filling up, I’ve already gotten a dozen bottles of Aquafina.

7. Amazon Prime:

If you find yourself ordering items from Amazon as regularly as we do, you’ll benefit by paying the small monthly fee of $6.59 (it’s a $79/year). In a way, it makes total sense to order more than just special items on Amazon; I just found a great deal on sunscreen and dog treats, both of which were cheaper than retail (considerably) and shipped for free in just 2 days. You can even try it out for one month free right here if you want.

Let the summer of thriftiness and cash-back begin.

And please share your secrets too.

Sugru Cush (For The Win)

June 06, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

How about a totally un-sponsored shout-out to the amazing Sugru today? It came to the rescue again this weekend, so it rightfully deserves a shout-out of televised proportions. If I was on TV.

This is about a TV though.

And for the record, I used white this time around. I also have some orange, green, black, and blue tucked into my kitchen drawer full of all products I need to keep accessible (you know, the Sugru’s right alongside the masking tape, the business stamp, the razor blades and rubber bands, paper clips, and a lint slash dog fur remover).

White Sugru.

You’ve heard me and Pete sing our little hearts out about this maleable silicone product that has made our projects, hacks, and lives much better. You can read some of those previous projects here and here and here and here. Really, we like the stuff. And really, they’re not paying me to show it to you.

Here’s the issue: the TV we installed on the kitchen wall with an amazon-purchased wall mount is perfect. I can extend it outward, face it towards the kitchen when I’m cooking or towards the dining room when I’m working (yeah, we rarely eat in there, especially now that it’s sum-to-the-mer and we can enjoy the deck almost any night we want).

Kitchen view of the new TV!Whoa, the kitch is lookin’ messy in this shot from a few months ago.

I had just one beef about the TV but it’s more about the bracket we bought: When I’m pushing the wall mount back towards to the wall, the elbow of the bracket bangs against the wall. And I’m tired of having to touchup and patch walls these days. The cord actually fell behind the bracket in this picture without me somehow noticing until now, the moment of publication, but that’s not the norm; the hinge usually grinds right into the drywall.

Bracket wall slam in action.

Sugru to the rescue! I used a single packet and divided the doughy contents into three round piles. Molded to fit the aforementioned elbow pieces that are main offenders, I stuck the Sugru straight to the clean metal right where it would help to cushion the blow of the bracket hitting the wall.

Applied the white Sugru to three places on the wall bracket.

And it works!

Sugru cushions in place!

For real – no one here is being paid to endorse the goodness that is Sugru. Just head over to the website and peruse the other hacks that they feature and update so, so often. It’s a global craze!