Gold Dipped Vases

16 Apr

DIY Gold dipped vases -- for weddings or parties

The themes, colors, and “look” of our wedding have been evolving over time. And, honestly, a lot of that is still changing. One color we have decided to include is gold.

Our centerpieces are already designed (and I can’t wait to share them after the wedding!), but we needed other ways to put bunches of flowers around the reception. We’ll have a bar, high tops for cocktail hour, etc, and needed something to jazz those tables up. Open flames are out, so vases with flowers are in.

Second hand glass vases to transform

We started gathering some glass bud vases from second hand stores and have a growing collection. I like having something simple and easy that doesn’t require a huge investment in greenery. However, I was a little worried that these plain vases would look too cheap and too plain. So I painted them gold!

I didn’t want each vase to be entirely covered, so I opted for a dipped, half-painted look. First I used FrogTape (nice painter’s tape) along the lower portion of each vase, anywhere from about one inch from the bottom to four inches up. I painted the bottom portion of my vases, but you could paint the top half instead.

Wrapped glass for spray painting half -- a dipped look

After you have a tape line where you want your paint to go, you’ll need to cover the rest of the vase. I used plastic bags cut in half over the top and secured them with a little more tape. Just make sure there’s no open spots for spray paint to get in.

Once I was certain my lines were right and the rest of the glass was covered, I took my vases outside to spray paint. Since I wasn’t coating the whole object, it was really easy to hold the covered part of the vase while I sprayed on the gold paint. I set each piece upside-down to dry and waited a couple hours. I found that one coat of paint was enough coverage for me.

After the gold paint was set, I carefully peeled off the tape and removed the plastic bags. On one of the vases, the paint had run down a little bit. To clean it up, I used an exacto blade and scratched off the uneven paint.

Gold dipped milk jugs - a DIY paint job

Gold bud vases -- dipped gold color

These vases were so easy and I think they look great.

Collection of half gold painted vases

I can’t wait to see them sprinkled about and filled with flowers at the wedding.

How I can afford to travel

14 Apr

About a month ago one of my friends asked me “how do you manage to travel so much?” At the time I didn’t really know how to answer except to say that traveling is important to me. Often I wish I could visit more locations, but, in all honesty, I do a lot of touring around.

How I can afford to travel // Tips from The Thrifty Ginger

Last year we visited Cape Cod, California, Washington DC, New York’s Finger Lakes (about 3 times), Boston, Rhode Island, and other random destinations. This year we already have trips planned for Italy and Mexico! Our destinations are getting a little more exotic now that we have a bit more income, but we’ve always managed to make travel happen.

Manage your budget
By far the best way to travel (or accomplish any money-centric goals) is to have a good budget. The assumption here is that you can adjust your income and expenses to at least break even every month. Check out my tips for creating a monthly budget and then pop back over here. By setting up a workable budget, you can save every month for vacations. That way you don’t need to cough up all of the cash at once, but can spread out the expenses over time. Ultimately you have to do what’s best for you and your budget might limit how extravagant your trips are. You might need to stick to New York City instead of Milan.

How I afford to travel -- save money on booking vacations

Make it a priority
This may seem obvious, but it’s something I learned a few years ago. Absolutely everyone has at least one category of items that they spend money on. Sometimes it’s clothes, or eating out, or fancy cars. And that’s fine. But most people can’t have it all. Something has got to give in order to pay for what you want.

Our wedding and honeymoon is the perfect example of this. One of the reasons we are having a more low-key and less expensive wedding is so that we have money to go on an amazing Italian honeymoon. It can be tough to keep the wedding on budget while seeing other people with more glamorous events, but I’m sure going to love our 2 weeks in Italy.

Think creatively
A lot of travel can be had if you just think creatively about booking. This past year we were tighter on cash so we mostly traveled to places we could drive to. That saved us loads of money on flights.

I also book lodging that’s as cheap as I can find. I love Hotwire, a service where you “blindly” book hotels, based upon neighborhood, and you find out the specific location after you’ve paid. We also love Airbnb, which is a service that hooks you up with individuals looking to rent their house, apartment, or rooms. Our upcoming Mexico trip was booked entirely based upon an Airbnb listing of this amazing little house with its own kitchen, patio, and private pool. And it’s under $100 a night! For a private yard with it’s own pool! This place is also so inexpensive because it’s outside of the top tourist towns in Mexico. I’m sure the same house in a popular destination like Key West or Hawaii would be a lot more money. We opted to book a little bit off the beaten path to get an amazing place in an interesting town after we found an equally amazing airfare deal.

There’s a lot of choice beyond the traditional hotel route if you do some creative searching and consider new and different destinations.

Affording vacations on a limited budget -- a how-to

Find those deals
There are so many resources online for getting cheap travel alerts. I recently started following a lot of travel blogs, especially those aimed at using airline points systems. I’m still wrapping my head around that aspect, but sites like Travelzoo and FlyerTalk are perfect spots for scoping out good deals. I also have signed up for low fare flight alerts on Airfare Watch Dog, which can be configured specifically for your home airport. Just keep your eyes peeled and be ready to jump on awesome offers.

Have a plan and have fun!
I find it’s easiest to save for travel when I have a destination in mind. This is a useful motivation tool and can help you figure out how much you need to save. Even though this year is pretty busy with getting married and two big trips, I’m already thinking of another amazing vacation (Bali, anyone?). Since it probably won’t happen for another 10+ months, we have time to watch for cheap airfare, do some research, and save up the necessary funds.

Hopefully one day I’ll be even more of a globe trotter, but for now I’m just living my dream one destination at a time.

Surprise Balls | Easter Egg Style

11 Apr

Easter Egg surprise balls | for baskets or hiding

While I didn’t grow up with crepe paper surprise balls, I’ve seen them all over in the past few years. With Easter coming up, I tried a little twist on the ball shape and made egg shaped surprise balls.

Pink and green crepe paper streamer rolls

This project is really easy when it comes to supplies. First you’ll need some crepe paper rolls. I already had pink and lime green, so I went with that.

Chocolate cattor candies

You’ll also need the “surprise” part – some candy or toy to hide on the inside. I used little chocolates that are wrapped up like carrots (although I think they also look a lot like Christmas light bulbs…).

Winding up a surprise ball for Easter

To create the ball, just carefully wind your crepe paper around your treat. You can choose to only put the treat in the absolute middle, or you can keep adding surprises as you wind around. I did a little bit of both to help create an egg-like shape.

When you’re happy with the final shape, there’s a few ways to end the crepe paper wrapping. If you have a pretty piece of washi tape or themed sticker, those would work. I couldn’t find anything suitable, so I just used a piece of double sided tape to adhere my stray end.

Surprise Easter Egg Balls in a basket

Stuffed into an Easter basket with plastic eggs, these certainly look a lot more egg shaped than when just on their own.

Surprise Easter Egg balls -- to hide or to put in baskets

I love these because they slow down the opening of sweets. Growing up we just had open Easter baskets overflowing with candy. Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome. But I bet the excitement would have lasted a little longer if we had to work for our treats a little more. You could also hide these little surprise Easter eggs instead of plastic or hard boiled eggs.

Have fun doing all your final preparations for Easter. It’s just over a week away!

Glittered Plastic Easter Eggs

9 Apr

Glittered Plastic Easter Eggs -- dipped and covered

This has been kind of a “meh” week so far. Maybe it’s because I missed yoga due to a pulled(?) muscle in my back and I never got peaceful. Or maybe it’s because my back has been killing me- I don’t know. Regardless, this is just a quick project to add a little sparkle and joy to my day.

Plastic Easter Eggs to refinish

I was looking for ways to jazz up plain plastic Easter eggs. I have a whole bucket of them, so I knew there was no need to buy new wooden or plain eggs to use in decoration.

Originally, I tried cutting up pieces of Origami paper to Modge Podge on the surface of each egg. Even though it was relatively thin, the paper still didn’t want to lay flat and just looked bad. With a cup of Modge Podge already poured out, I had to think fast on a new way to cover my eggs. As you already know, I decided on glitter.

Modge Podge painting setup

Instead of just completely coating each egg in glitter, I chose to half dip some of the eggs. I liked the light blue and light green color on some of my smaller eggs, so I used those eggs for the half-colored ones. For the dip dye, I literally dunked the plastic egg into the Modge Podge and then coated it with glitter.

Glittered Plastic Easter Eggs

Other eggs I completely coated in glitter. For those, I used a paintbrush to apply a light coat of Modge Podge and then added my glitter on top. I had to touch the eggs up a couple times to cover the plastic underneath. It’s best to wait until the first layer is dry so that you don’t wreck the base layer of glitter.

Glittered Plastic Easter Eggs -- half dipped

That was my last-minute plastic Easter egg covering. I’ve been pinning ideas for eggs, both real and plastic, so be sure to check out my Easter Pinterest board for other ideas.

Reflections on one month of freelancing: a newbies perspective

7 Apr

The end of March marks the end of my first month being a freelancer. And it sure was something! I’m still getting the hang of everything, but here are my reflections as a new freelance writer and web content creator.

Reflections on one month of freelancing: a newbies perspective

I don’t have as much free time as I thought
Anyone who has done full-time freelancing could probably have guessed this, but I had no idea my time would get gobbled up so quickly. When my full-time job was winding down, I had dreams of doing so much more work on The Thrifty Ginger, cleaning house, and knocking out wedding tasks daily. This just isn’t the case. I’m certainly guilty of wasting more time now, I’ll admit. One day I wasn’t feeling well and watched about 3 hours of TV in the middle of the day. But often I’m cruising all day on work and personal tasks, and I just can’t seem to get everything done! Maybe that’s because of my next point, wasted time between tasks.

Wasted in-between time
When I was salaried, I was paid regardless of how much work I had or how much I got done. I certainly tried to be efficient and often worked extra hours. However, I was also paid when I had to drive to meeting, wanted to chat with a co-worker, or needed to do any other mid-day tasks. As a freelancer I’m only paid for billable hours or project deliverables! So when I have to drive around to get supplies or do an interview, that’s just simply eating away at my time. It’s kind of a bummer to see useful time whittled away. (note that I am tracking miles and stuff like that, but time is such a precious resource!)

Work when you want and play when you want
My favorite part of working for myself has been a flexible schedule, which is both a blessing and a curse. I love being able to sleep in a little later than usual and run errands during the day. I can generally schedule myself to do work whenever I want, but it’s on me to make sure I stay on task. However, I’m already seeing some work creep into after work hours. Formerly, I left work at work and could spend my free time however I wanted. Now it’s all sort of jumbled up, with personal tasks throughout the day, and some work on nights and weekends. I’m trying to still spend quality time with George while working, planning a wedding, and seeing friends and family. There’s so much to do!

Reflections on one month of freelancing: a newbies perspective -- my office, aka the couch

So far, so good
I really shouldn’t complain about anything because so far things are great! I certainly saw a dip in my income when compared to my salaried position, but I did make some real cash in this first month. I spend a good amount of my time on wedding tasks, which is priceless. Plus, there’s no commute. Oh, and I work from my couch most days.

I’m hopeful that I’ll keep on growing. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Oh and PS- I couldn’t do full-time freelance work without having a really supportive significant other, both financially and emotionally. Thanks, George.

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