Archive for the ‘budget’ Category

Cheap Couture…kinda

In budget, fashion, Los Angeles on September 9, 2011 at 10:37 am

So this isn’t really couture – that was definitely an overstatement on my part. What it is though is a cheap way to update any piece of clothing! This little tidbit of advice comes from my dear and stylish friend J.R who taught me how to take an average shirt, cardigan, blazer or jacket to the next level.

A few weeks ago I took a trip to LA’s fashion district downtown and spent a few hours perusing shops, finding awesome buttons and just taking in the bustle. I left with about 30 buttons ranging from big silver ones with horses on them (perfect for my blue Express blazer in serious need of updating) to some gold and floral print small buttons that I have already begun to add to an awesome oversized tan blazer I inherited from my mom annnnnnd I grabbed  a blue “silk” (using that term extremely loosely) top that looks super cool with leggings, skinny jeans, tucked into a skirt, shorts, etc.

The top was all of $18 bucks and frankly looked fine but not GREAT. I needed this purchase to look GREAT! So what did I do? I plopped down in a chair, borrowed some needle and thread from my roomie and switched out the buttons (which were 25 cents each – if that). Every time I wear this shirt I get tons of compliments on it.  The simple button switcheroo took this shirt from average to awesome and is now one of my favorite tops!

Try it, You’ll like it, I guarantee it.  What commercial did I steal that from?? Men’s Wearhouse? Who cares – have fun with your wardrobe for next to nothing. Easy, Breezy, Beautiful…Ok I’m done!



running out

In budget on April 5, 2011 at 4:45 am

Do you ever find there are times when you just begin to run out?

Run out of time

Run out of space

Run out of money

Run out of energy

Run out of clothes

you just run out… it’s this insane type of season where I find myself becoming the most creative…resourceful and innovative.

Recently I ran out of space…my closet, jammed packed- with what?? So I began sifting, a tossing and getting down and dirty with these tons and tons of clothing I really had no need or desire for.

They were a) ill fitting b) wayyy out of style or c) completely worn out

So I decided to consign them…and while they didn’t take everything, they took somethings. And the way I see it, I can just keep dragging my suitcase full of abandoned clothes to consignment shops around the city until all of them are gone.  The beauty of this isn’t that I’m able to make money but it’s that now I can see clearly. I have room in my closet, and I actually know what I need to buy! As a matter of fact I made a list, and suggest you do it too if you want to avoid having a closet full of trendy, wear-once, why-in-the-world-did-I-buy-this pieces.

Here’s the deal, I may have cut my closet in half, BUT now, no matter what I pull from my wardrobe, I like it! I really like it!

Ohhhh and for those other ‘run out’ situations here are some quick tips to combat….

Run out of time – Prioritize, manage, and let go. You can’t do it all, it’s a terrible, horrible, anti-Type A concept, but it’s so true. Prioritize and pick the things that matter most, that extra origami class you’re taking – let it go and spend that time preparing for the next day, getting organized, and taking care of the little things.

Run out of money – Three words: Mint dot com. This site is amazing – you punch in your vitals, it creates a REALISTIC budget for you, shoots over an email if you overspend on coffee (yikes) and helps you reach savings goals.

Run out of energy – Rest, eat, exercise. If this is happening then you are:

a) not sleeping enough, it’s simple 7-8 hours of rest folks.

b) not eating enough – here’s the formula: 6 small meals a day, 350-500 calories each, lots of fruits, veggies and minimal bad carbs.

c) not exercising – working out creates endorphins, which is that good, accomplished, I can touch the sky feeling you get post exercise…embrace it, love it, just do it (ha!).

Run out of clothes – It’s time to do laundry.


impromptu and loving it

In budget, for the home, friendship, Good Eats, wine on February 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm

It all started with an impromptu trip to HomeGoods…

I ended up running across about 20 of the most perfect pieces for my anthro-house…which has now taken a turn towards a JA (Jonathan Adler) house. I finally realized that I love the most bold, interesting and eye-catching decor – but with moderation. Adler tends to go all or nothing in his designing – which I totally respect and appreciate, but I’m still a fan for the way my home is designed in neutral colors, chocolate browns, dark hardwood floors, and other than our yam colored dining room the walls are pretty warm and earthy too!

I picked up the two wooden acorns- the taller one in a bright white and the smaller one in a lime green, and repurposed my typical ikea lamp (which now doesn’t look so typical)  and was amazed how that little area alone has added the greatest pop of color/flair to our otherwise bland fireplace. In addition, I took the driftwood that usually sits at the base of the fireplace and moved it into the red ceramic vase (also bought at HomeGoods) for a really modern and eclectic look that I LOVE! To complete this I would love to find a funky white mirror to hang and I may or may not already have my eye on a bright rug from Urban Outfitters.

I got so many cool pieces at HomeGoods it was insane! I found two incredible carved dragon bookends, one in red orange and the other in teal  (sounds crazy – looks great) a bronze elephant, a huge snakeskin round white tray bowl perfect for holding the growing collection of coffee table books and next to it I placed a really neat lacquered red box which has made a gorgeous…remote control holder!  OK so as if HomeGoods wasn’t enough I made my way to World Market – I got new kitchen chairs. I saw them, I loved them, I bought them, and I’m so excited to keep them for a long, long time!  In the dining room I shortened our gathering table to a four top, added the large metal fork & spoon set (found at HomeGoods) and repurposed the Number print from my bedroom for a cleaner more modern look!

So I was looking around and loving the place so much I had to show someone! So I decided to invite my cousins TP and LP over for an impromptu light luncheon!  I only used grocery items I had in the house so here’s how it went!

I put together a simple setting…short glass, wine glass, single fork, plate and  a bright napkin from ikea…

I wanted to create a salad that would be super healthy but really filling, so I chopped and roasted a yellow sweet potato for an hour, thinly sliced an apple, added crumbled blue cheese, arugula and tossed it in olive oil and lemon juice…DELISH!

I accompanied the salad with my version of a flatbread…this was UNBELIEVABLY easy to make! I made a Bisquick pizza dough, brushed it with olive oil, shredded an aged cheddar/gruyere cheese, chopped red pepper, sliced tomatoes, sprinkled it with oregano, sea salt and cracked black pepper. Baked for 15 minutes and voila! SO GOOD!

We sipped on fresh water with lemon, and a surprisingly great bottle (and well paired if I do say so myself) of California pinot grigio called the Naked Grape…you know me – this bottle couldn’t have been more than $6 which means… this was a good get!

Ended the lunch with lots of laughs, story telling and my personal favorite: donuts!

I couldn’t have asked for a more lovely impromptu day.


All photos courtesy of Becky Reams Photography =)

the not-a-cooks guide to gourmet grilled cheese

In budget, Good Eats on January 26, 2011 at 5:01 am

I am not a cook.

I don’t pretend to be.

I am a professional defroster.

A master microwaver.

A wiz at scrambling eggs.

But every now and then I step out of my micro-defrost-eggy realm and create a simple, yet satisfying dish.

My version of a gourmet grilled cheese: sliced pink lady apples, aged gruyere + cheddar cheese, wheat bread and butter.


> Thinly slice 1/2 an apple

> Chop up pieces from the block of cheese…about 1/8th

> Butter both sides of bread…

> Put it all together and place in pan butter side down flipping occasionally to make it look like you know what you’re doing but really you just want to keep checking to make sure you don’t burn it….unless you’re one of those strange people who ‘claims’ to like their food ‘charred’.

>Bon appetit!

Pat yourself on the back and brag to your friends about the rad gourmet grilled cheese you MADE for dinner last night!!


The Anthropologie House

In budget, for the home on November 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

The roomies and I have been combining our different styles: B – Mid Century Modern, A- Clean & Concise, Me…random mix of park avenue chic w/some beachy influence. OK so this crazy cluster of themes has created what our friends have dubbed…The Anthropologie House.

We were pretty shocked…honestly we were thinking more along the lines of The What The Heck House, but after looking at it from an outsiders perspective and comparing it to some of the look books from the store – yeah we do kind of have an Anthro house. It’s a good mix of hip, comfy and well, us.

It started with some paint…3 cans to be exact- some taupey shades for our living room and hallway – dining room = one color: Yam by Martha Stewart – Goodness she’s a genius, the color is orangey, with a hint of yellow and makes for the PERFECT accent wall.  It was risk that completely 100% paid off.

The details…see that picture?? We call that our “modern hippie” painting – $59 at HomeGoods, lamp – ikea: $29 , table – FREE off of craigs list…shelves hand made by B! We’ve stacked some driftwood – also FREE, old wine bottles, a pretty modern white bowl, again from HomeGoods – $12…

More details – scattered tea lights…a mason jar (50 cents…maybe) as a vase to hold fresh flowers- the bookend: $3.99 at Marshalls on clearance, and of course lots of books – old old books – well you remember that escapade (See Post: Accidental Antiquing).

I’ll keep updating this one as we add more – wait until you see our kitchen table : )


Can’t go without my…

In budget, fashion on September 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

blublockers…I am notorious for sitting on, losing, scratching, and abusing my sunglasses – so having a pair that not only look great and cost a little, is a win win in my book.

This aviator style comes in Tortoise Shell, Black or White  – Oh and these are totally unisex, so everyone can share : )

~ j.ayers

Coffee Makes the World Go Round

In budget, Good Eats on September 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Me: Daddy can I have some of your coffee?

Him: You don’t want coffee

Me: Why not?

Him: Because coffee makes your head hard…

Me: ohhhh

I should’ve listened, I should’ve taken heed…18 years later and I’m a cup a daykind of gal…minimum. I used to be fancy with it too – “Yeah I’ll have an upsidedowncaramelmacchiatowithsoyandanextrashot. mmmkay thanks!”

Now – I keep it simple…couple of packets of splenda here, a little soy there and bam! I’m caffeine’d up for the  day hour.  Iced or hot I’m all about it.

Recently, coffee has become quite the accessory…you can’t look through a tabloid without seeing a celeb looking glamorous with their big shades and cup of starbucks. Let’s be honest – for the average person this ‘accessory’  can get a little pricey by the end of the month. So here’s a hint, for the best dose of caffeine get the regular cup of joe. Yup you heard it – ixnay on the $5.00 ‘double shot of this’ drink and load up on that bold roast.

So for $1.50-$2.00 you can still have your uber chic cup of iced or hot coffee – annnnnd at Starbucks you can stay fabulous/awake throughout the day for .50c a refill when you reuse your cup!

yes please.

~ j.ayers


In budget, for the home, friendship on August 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Simple things this week that have caused an influx of laughter, smiles, and general glee!

Sunday evening impromptu dinner with friends

(hint: Big Lots is a great place to buy any kind of glasses, I got this 16 piece set for $10)

(hint: No party is complete without flowers. Spice up a table setting with fresh flowers from Trader Joes, $2.99 a bouquet)


Partaking in America’s favorite past time …for the first time


A new nail polish color!

(hint: Purchase your nail polish from Bed Bath & Beyond and use the 20% off coupons – saves you at least $1.60! )


Trader Joes lunch runs with one of my faves

(hint: Grab a piece of fruit, large bottle of water, and noodle bowl for a $2.60 lunch)

~ j.ayers

“As You Wish”

In budget, Los Angeles, mr. and mrs. pooch on August 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

It doesn’t take much to make me happy, so when my super cool roomie emailed me two weeks ago about this “food truck, movie, outdoor thing” I was buying my ticket within the hour.

One blanket, two tickets and $20 bucks later A.P and I strolled into Outdoor Cinema Food Fest.

5 things that made this night great:

1. Free coffee for everyone  – let me rephrase that…free delicious coffee for everyone.

2.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house because the screen is MASSIVE – not to mention we managed to get a spot front and center.

3. Hawaiian, Burger, Korean, Cupcake, French Fries, Ice Cream, Pizza, Salad Food Trucks…literally something for every palate.

4. Now Showing: The Princess Bride

5. Concessions are $1

One thing we learned quickly was that the trucks can and will run out of food. I mean it’s obvious considering there were 1000+ hungry people in attendance and only so many of these mobile eateries.  Vivid visions of slow roasted beef, pork and chicken, marinated in island sauce lured us to the Hawaiian BBQ truck almost instantaneously. 5 minutes later a guy hops out of the truck and with an indifferent glance at the line, posts a handwritten sign: “OUT OF FOOD”  snapping us back to reality and sending us on a hunt for the next best thing.

No worries, we marched over to the Slice Truck and after about 15 minutes in line (which was no big deal because we could still watch the movie) our order was in:  2 slices of Cheese, 2 slices of Pepperoni.  The wait was about 30 so we grabbed some candy from the concession, water, a coke and proceeded to cheer, laugh and boo with the crowd while we waited. Did I mention we only spent $20 the entire evening?

Oh Em Geeeeee! Delicious, gooey, warm, cheesy, with a little NYC swag…the pizza hit the spot.

Every time I watch The Princess Bride I remember why EVERYONE loves it, action, adventure, comedy, love….and come on what girl doesn’t love it when a guy is cooperative and wonderful and just says “as you wish” and really means “I love you and I would cross the 7 seas, endure the pit of despair, fight oversized rodents, out smart kings, and let you sit on the blanket and stay warm while I wait in line all over again to pick up the pizza for us.”

~ j.ayers

The Accidental Antiquing

In budget, for the home, Good Eats, Los Angeles, mr. and mrs. pooch on August 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm

There is something magical, addictive, and absolutely euphoric about California sunshine. Summer 2010 however, has been straight up stingy with the sun – until yesterday. I’m talking blue skies galore, a warm breeze and sun, sun, sunshine!  The best part about a warm day is a warm night, which in my eyes is cause for an evening out. Confession- I may or may not have used it as an excuse to rock these super cute black dress shorts I’ve been dying to wear but couldn’t for fear of getting frost bite. I digress…so A.P and I headed over to Culver City’s main street where al fresco dining, live music, and prime people watching/eavesdropping take place.

My turn to choose – i pick Akasha – a fabulous restaurant wrapping around the corners of Culver & Watseka with a commanding metal door, long list of  what I assume to be spectacular wines, a menu with dishes composed of locally grown produce and of course the whole “we’re trying to look like we aren’t trying” ambiance to top things off…I adore this place.

After absolutely terrorizing a plate of sweet potato fries (paired with Vegenaise/paprika sauce – delish) we proceed to abandon all attempts at conversation and dive into our entrees. For me: A simple Fig Salad with blue cheese crumbles, walnuts, arugula, light vinaigrette…For A.P:  Flat Iron Steak, parmesan crusted potatoes and a rainbow chard.  (I plan to do a post just on Akasha one day with photos and all of that jazz.)

Because A.P and I managed to eat so quickly (haha) we had some time to walk around main street. We made it about five doors down before we were stopped by little girls screaming: “50 cents! Books are just 50 cents! Come and get them!”  I looked up and realized we were in front of a second hand store – Jackpot.  I tell A.P I’m looking for “really cool hard cover books” for my room. With my vague description in mind the two of us embarked on a quest to find the coolest, oldest, most unique books EVER…

Soon we are sitting cross legged on the floor, passing books back and forth, laughing at the titles, gawking at the print dates, relishing in the feel of the old pages between our fingers, and trying our best to narrow down my increasing stack of selections.

“But what about this one I like the yellow cover – it pops..”

“Yeah, but this one, this one has an awesome title (The Power of Positive Thinking)”

“Oooh! Read the note in this one – it’s signed 1924.”

As I am finalizing my purchase one of those live music bands I told you about earlier, proceeds to come into the thrift shop, not to browse but to take their show on the road; playing their instruments and singing their hearts out as if no one is watching. I grin from ear to ear and cheer them on as they march around harmonizing about the girl in a purple dress next to me. Is this for real?

An hour has passed since we first stopped in. We leave with spirits high, a paper bag of our finds in tow and a receipt for 10 books equaling what would’ve been the cost of one brand new.  As we walk back to the car I can’t help but smile and instantly recall having the same feeling leaving the library as a kid – holding more books than I could hardly manage, bursting at the seams with anticipation, talking a mile a minute about which book I would read first…if I could just get to the car. ; )

~ j.ayers