Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thrifting Treasures

The past couple weeks I've been able to sneak away for a bit and hit up some thrift/antique stores in the neighborhood. Just wanted to show you some of the things that caught my eye.

I posted a picture of this cabinet on MLST's Facebook page and you guys loved it! The store where this is(was?) from is called Vintage Kollections. This was the first time I was there, and I was impressed with their selection and prices. (You can "like" their FB page here.) I know I'll be back again.

It's kinda hard to see, but there were several industrial stools there for sale, as well as those garden orbs you see in the background on the left there. I will be getting one of those for our front landscape. I love "mixing it up" with fun statement pieces like that.

I thought this little scalloped bookshelf would look super cute painted and in a little girl's room. Right?? It's so sweet.

And I LOVED this thing. Not sure what you would call it (paper roller/cutter?) but if I had room on my kitchen counter, I would have snatched it up. I like using craft paper as a tablecloth. It's something fun that the boys can color on.

It reminded me of this picture I pinned from a while back with the paper being used as a shopping list.

And this picture taken from the Country Living 2012 House of the Year

(notice the industrial stool!)

I picked up a few things from Vintage Kollections, including these corbels that I had to have. Don't have a spot for them yet, but someday I will!

I also picked up this antique mirror. I love mirrors. Especially old ones.

Which reminds me, I picked this one up a few weeks ago at another antique store. Love that chunky frame. That was at a store called Vintage on Main (here's their Facebook page).

Next on the list--Mitch and I went to a Vintage Sale and picked up this metal wheel thing. We both thought it'd look cool mixed in among a gallery wall (in the boys' bathroom, perhaps?). 

Just the other day I went out with Finn to our local Reuzit where I found this heavy brass/lucite floor lamp. I couldn't pass it up. It even came with a bulb:)

Couldn't say no to this $1 mug holder. It's right at home in my coffee station.

The next two things I  found alongside the road. On Saturday the boys and I were out and about having a great time (the weather was PERFECT) and we passed by a house that had this sitting out in front.

I saw it, passed it, then turned around, got out to see how much they were asking ($25), took a picture, then left. We went to a farm to pick up some milk, and I thought to myself, "For $25, I can't pass it up!" So we went back and I bought it. I'm thinking it's going to go in our mudroom to hold our shoes/random mudroom stuffs. Can you see it?

And last but certainly not least, I was driving by another house when I thought I saw a Campaign chest sitting out with some other random pieces of furniture. I turned around and sure enough, there she was.

Now granted, right now she doesn't look super nice. But you can believe I'm gonna pour some love into this lonely gal. I can either paint her up a bright, fun color like this one (that sold on Etsy for $400)

Or a more subdued neutral like this one

Which look gets your vote? Bold or neutral? (I'm kinda leaning toward bold, baby!)

Have you been thrifting lately? Find anything good? How about yard sales? I know some of you guys are big-time YSers and find some incredible things. What's your latest find?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Out the Window(s)

First of all I wanna say a huge THANK YOU for all the encouraging words and congrats about our last post. Paying off our house was something I definitely wanted to share with you guys, and I'm so thankful that it was well received. You're awesome.

Okay, now...what do you observe from this picture??

If you guessed "that's not Mitch's butt" you'd be totally right. If you also guessed "window replacement"--right again. Yep, all the windows in the "old part" of the house (not the renovated part) are getting replaced. Thanks to Uncle Sam. 

(all the windows on the right side of the house)

From the very moment we walked into our house (over nine years ago), we knew we'd have to eventually replace the windows. We said goodbye to the screens in the three front windows a couple years ago when I finally had had enough of looking at the cat-scratched ones that were there. I ripped them out and threw them away, and we never replaced them. Why buy screens when you're eventually going to replace the window, right? Ugh. We had those little portable screens that adjust to whatever window size you have, do you know which ones I mean? Yeah, those were annoying. So we decided to put our tax return money to good use and get the windows all replaced. We had already gotten two of the worst ones replaced already (a few months ago). Before I show you those, let me show you a before of the front.

This was before we started landscaping and before I removed all the shutters. 

And this is today, as the windows are being replaced. One of the main reasons the windows need to be replaced is because they were NOT energy efficient in the least. You could literally see the curtains swaying in the breeze in the winter. One of the main causes was because there was absolutely no insulation around the windows (as Mitch observed while the old ones were being taken out). Isn't that crazy? 

The new ones, along with being low-E, are also triple paned (excluding the ones in the back. We decided to do just double-paned ones back there).

There's also spray foam insulation around them now. Yay for (hopefully) no drafts!!

Now let's talk about design. First of all, I wanted all the shutters gone on the outside because they weren't realistic-looking. Let me show you the (old) front of our house again. See those three windows in the front? And those tiny shutters on either side? Come on now. There ain't no way (if they were real) that those shutters would cover those windows. And that, to me, is kinda lame. If you're going to have shutters, make them at least somewhat realistic-looking. But we couldn't have just nothing there. Something definitely needs to be there, otherwise it would look pretty bland.

So let me show you some inspiration.

Ya see where I'm going with this?? 

Black trim, baby.

These are the windows that were replaced a couple months ago, on the side of our house. We could have gone with black window frames (which make me weak in the knees...love that look!) as well, but that was an extra $160 per window plus they'd take longer to get in--they'd be a special order item. So we went with just the black trim and white windows...still debating if we want to go ahead and paint them ourselves or just leave them as is. I think we'll wait to see how it looks in the front of the house before we make any decisions.

The black trim adds just enough "punch." We need to do something about those holes left from where the shutters used to be, and powerwash the siding, but I like this look so much better. It's a clean, simple update, don't you think?

 Black trim will also be added to the existing windows (the ones not being replaced). This is our bedroom window.

And trim will be added to all the back windows. There weren't any shutters on these windows and they always looked pretty dinky to me. We will also paint out the trim around the orange door to tie everything together.

Here's a quick inside shot of our new kitchen window (not totally done yet).

Having your windows replaced is definitely a big investment. The total cost to have all ours replaced (10 of them) is approximately $5,350 (ouch). But it's one of those things that just needs to get done, kinda like replacing your roof. If you're local and you need some work done around your house, the guys who are doing this for us are All Star Home Improvement. They're friends of Mitch's (they've played hockey together for years). And we highly recommend them (They've done other odd and end jobs around our house...projects that were a little over Mitch's head.) Tell them Mitch and Kat sent ya!

And sadly, I think (since we're getting such good energy efficient windows) it's soon time to replace our antique front door. So stay tuned to see what we decide with that one! Sheesh, there's always something getting changed around here, eh?


Monday, April 7, 2014

Big News for our Little House

Last week something was accomplished here at the Hertzler house that's pretty dang exciting. No, we didn't finish the boys' bathroom. Actually, it looks worse in there now than it did before. We are making progress though...I think.

It wasn't our family room either...

that room is still a HOT MESS.

Finn, perhaps? Nope. Still hasn't mastered this walking thing. Sure, he's taken several steps in a row (more each day, I think) but the kid still prefers to scoot around like a little army dude. 

So what could our big accomplishment be??

See that piece of paper up there that Mitch is holding? That, my friends, is the last payment for our house. 

Our house is officially paid off.

Not sure if you got that...


Can I tell ya a little bit how we did it? I'm hoping and praying this post doesn't come across the wrong way (like bragging in any way). It's just a huge milestone that we're really proud of hitting and I thought you guys would like to hear about it. 

Let me tell ya from the outset that we're in no way experts when it comes to this whole money thing. We never followed a budget (and all the Dave Ramsey people just fainted). Pretty much because the thought of one put me into cardiac arrest. Basically, here's our secret: we're just cheap. And from the very beginning of our marriage, we've had the desire to pay off our house ASAP. Well, ASAP while living somewhat comfortably. That was a huge stipulation on my part. I didn't wanna "live in the poor house" while paying off our house, ya know what I mean? This girl likes to get her thrift on way too much to pinch every.single.penny.

How we did it

1. Both Mitch and I went into our marriage completely debt-free.
Let me back up--we both graduated from college almost debt-free. Mitch had most of his entire four-year tuition paid his freshman year. (take a sec to process that thought) Yeah. The boy knows how to save. I had one small school loan that got paid off the summer after I graduated. And before you think we have really rich parents, we both paid our own way for college. (we paid for most of our wedding too)

2. We didn't drive fancy cars (until recently when we bought my dream vehicle, our Honda Odyssey. It's true...owning this sweet minivan was my dream...ha!)

It didn't matter to us that we drove beaters. Sure, sometimes it was hard (for me) when pretty much all our friends/people around us were driving brand new/newer vehicles and we'd pull up in our smashed-in minivan. (We literally bought a minivan that was smashed in on the side. I was preggers with Finn and we needed something bigger and that was all we could afford at the time. When we got some extra money, we had the side replaced.) Mitch still drives what used to be my car, from before we were married. 1999 Honda Civic, baby! Still purrs like a kitten...that's dying a slow torturous death. Seriously, Mitch "doesn't hear" bangs, clanks, or rattles. When I ask him, "Hey what's that noise?" He says, "Hey how 'bout them Flyers?! Playin' some good hockey, eh?"

3. We saved up
So not only were we debt-free going into our marriage, Mitch had saved up $30K to put down on our house. Say what??? Told ya the boy can save. And I had saved a measly $10K myself to contribute to our down payment. Also, one thing that we've done over the years is save up for a specific project/item. I remember Mitch worked some Saturdays to save up to buy the wood to finish our stairwell. That money was specifically for that project. He had other jobs (website work) that paid for other projects. Right now I'm saving up to have two chairs reupholstered. I've been saving for two years. I may have gotten side-tracked a time or ten with other purchases, but the thing is, we saved up. (And I finally have enough to pull the trigger on them...unless I buy a rug instead.) I've also sold stuff on Craigslist, at a Vintage Sale, and on Facebook to save toward a project or two.

4. We didn't buy "new"
You guys already know how I love a good deal, thrifting, etc. Well the only way we could afford to renovate our house was to think outside the "box-store box" and buy secondhand. So we scoured Craigslist like it was our job looking for toilets, bathtubs, vanities, pretty much any/everything we needed to complete our renovation on a budget. And ya know what? It worked. Took a bit longer than what the average person might have been comfortable with waiting for, but we completed our renovation debt-free. 

We buy most of our clothes secondhand as well. Growing up, I used to be embarrassed walking into/out of thrift stores with my parents. I prayed that we didn't run into anyone we knew. Now, I can't imagine paying "regular price" for something. I think we look just fine in our thrift store garb!

I also do my food shopping at discount grocery stores. We're blessed to live in an area that has stores where you can get a case of organic yogurt for $2.99. I seriously thank God all the time for BBs, Sharp Shopper, and even good ol' Shady Maple (a few weeks ago I got a case of strawberries--8 quarts--for $3.99. So thankful I can feed my family good healthy food on a budget.

5. We made extra payments
Early on in our marriage when I was working as a Christian school teacher, I decided to put pretty much my whole paycheck toward paying off our home. (I'm sure I saved a few bucks to hit up Goodwill though.) We just kept chippin' away. Obviously it was harder once we started having babies and I stayed at home. Living on one income is tough, there's no way around it. But somehow we've managed to do it, while paying off our home, and even renovating. We've always had the attitude that God will provide. And we can totally attest to that. Guys, it seriously doesn't add up on paper (Mitch does NOT have an incredibly paying job), but somehow here we are. God is good. And has always been faithful to us. We do what we can and He provides the rest. Maybe that sounds like a good luck charm to some, but we've tried to live within our means, and I think God has really blessed us because of it.

6. We didn't buy things we couldn't afford
This sounds pretty logical, but it's amazing to us how many people "live above their means." Our philosophy is: if we can't afford it, we don't get it. I think so many people (myself included) get sucked into the idea of "buy it now!" that we often times forget that we really can't afford it in the first place. 

7. We did without
Sometimes you simply have to "do without" in order to get ahead. About four years ago, things were tight so we looked at getting rid of "extras." Cable TV was the first to go. We realized that the couple Flyers games a week that Mitch loved to watch weren't worth the $100+ a month. I know Mitch misses watching his hockey games, but that was one "sacrifice" he was willing to make to help us achieve our goal (and I'm SO thankful). Also, technology. Mitch's work pays for his phone service, but it would have cost us money out of our pocket if he wanted to upgrade to a smart phone. He held out until just a couple months ago when his company gave him the green light in that department. He now has a Samsung Galaxy. And I only got an iPhone about a year and a half ago. So when everyone else was surfing the web on their phones, we were the ones hoping to not drop a call. Can you hear me now??

We did have help

I'd be remiss to not mention the fact that family has helped us a lot. Mitch and I never took out a house loan through a bank. Instead, we borrowed from family members (we still paid interest on that money, but at the time, it was lower than a bank's rates). 

Also, not to sound morbid, but when one of Mitch's grandfathers died, we did get a little bit of money. We used that toward extra payments.

What now

Even though our house is paid off, we're not completely out of the woods yet. We still owe money on our minivan (our first ever car payment) as well as our kitchen. When we renovated our garage, I convinced Mitch of the need for a new kitchen. But we didn't have the money for it then. We borrowed it from family. (So much for not getting things we can't afford, right? See, I told you, we're no experts here.) In our defense, we felt like it was something we should just go for (a local carpenter made our cabinets for a really good price) since we were already tearing everything else apart in our home, that was the time to "git 'er done."

And of course, you know there's always another project(s) we're working on (like the bathroom, family room, etc.), so now we'll hopefully have a few extra bucks around at the end of the month to help knock those projects off.

We would also like to start giving more. I believe one reason God has blessed us is that we were faithful in our giving back to Him. Some months we had to hold off until later to give our tithe at church, but we always did eventually give. We would love to start sponsoring a child through Compassion International or another such organization. We agree it'd be a great way to teach our boys to show Christ's love to others who are in need. 

So a little over nine years later and our house is officially ours. It's kinda hard for us to fathom. But man...does it feel incredible! Yes, there were tough times...tight times...but I'm so glad we kept our eye on the goal and now we can breathe a little bit easier. And seriously, guys, if we can do it, YOU CAN TOO! Just set some goals and start chippin' away at them. Before you know it, your "little white rancher" can be paid off too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trudy's Treats

Those who know my Mom know one thing for sure--the lady can flat-out cook. I suppose raising six kids means you're in the kitchen A LOT. And with four of those six being boys, um...yeah, she was literally in the kitchen all the time, whippin' up something. 

(Here's Mom with Finn last summer on our family vacay at OBX.)

One thing my Mom (Trudy) is known for (at least in our family) is her Rice Krispie Treats. I remember her making them waaaay back. We'd have them after school, for birthday treats, church potlucks, you name it...whenever Trudy made a batch, they never lasted long. Somewhere along her culinary journey of life (I think it was about 10 years ago or so), my Mom changed something about how she made her famous treats. At first I was VERY skeptical. I mean, why mess with perfection, right? But believe it or not, the change Trudy made only made her famous treats even better. What could this miraculous change be, you ask? Two words: BROWN BUTTER. 

Oh and just for the record, if you make these treats, you better not have a problem with butter 'cause you will be using a lot.  

Paula ain't got nothin' on Trudy.

I've not known of anyone else browning their butter before adding the marshmallows (this is possibly Trudy's amazing secret discovery!) but let me tell ya...it's what makes it. But BE CAREFUL! It's really easy to burn. Think: slow and steady. Low temp. And just cook it. And stir. For like 10 minutes. You'll gradually see it changing before your very eyes. 

See how it's separated? And see how there are little brown pieces in it? That's perfect. You'll be able to tell your butter has reached the perfect consistency when you can smell it. It smells different. Almost takes on a nutty smell. Maybe. Or maybe I'm a little nutty. (I probably could have used a bit more marshmallows, as mine were literally swimming in butter. Oh darn.)

Keep stirring on low heat (I even shut off my stove a couple times to prevent burning)

Stir until everything is incorporated. Oh...wanna know another secret of Trudy's? She adds vanilla extract to the marshmallow mixture.

After everything is all good and mixed, dump in your cereal. (And we always insist that Mom uses the actual Rice Krispies cereal. Can't go generic here.)

(sorry...kinda hard to stir and take pics)

Then press it in a greased 9x13 pan. (adding butter to the outside of a cup and pressing it in)


Then wait...

Once cooled, cut, then go to town.

So, what do ya think? You gonna try it? It's an easy classic recipe with a few tweaks that make it an amazing treat. I can't even stomach the thought of eating one of those prepackaged Rice Krispy Treats...I need butter in mine. Brown butter, baby.

Trudy's Treats
(aka Brown Butter Vanilla Rice Krispie Treats)

1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 1/2-2 bags of marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter over low heat on stove. Once melted, stir occasionally to prevent burning. Cook butter until it turns darker and has a distinct smell (about 10-15 minutes). BE CAREFUL TO NOT BURN! 

Add marshmallows and stir occasionally, turning off heat if needed. Add vanilla. Once all mixed, turn off heat and add cereal. Stir until coated. Press in 9x13 pan. Let cool. Cut in squares.

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