{The Bouqs} The Most Epic Way to Buy Flowers – But Is It Worth It?

You know I’m all about using my “cents” to live a fabulous life. As I get older, however, I’m feel empowered to define and redefine what a fab life looks and feels to me. One thing that is classic and has always made me feel… well fabulous is fresh flowers at home. It’s something about them that makes me feel very adult and chic, which inspires me to get my house super neat and clean as if Elle Décor was coming through. Being in the event design industry, I am fortunate to see all sorts of beautiful floral from around the world. Being on a financial plan, though, means that it is imperative to find creative yet economical ways to make sure that a simple luxury like fresh flowers is in the budget. Check out what could be one of my new go-to stops for fresh flowers on a budget.

The Bouqs

The Bouqs is a company out of California who contacted me last month about reviewing their product. Prior to that, I had not heard of them (I guess I missed that episode of Shark Tank) . After doing a little digging, I learned that they offer sustainable and eco-friendly flowers that are grown on an active volcano in South America. Have you ever had volcano flowers??? Yeah, neither had I, so I had to >order a bouq (short for bouquet) and let you all know if this is worth adding to your “simple luxuries” money envelope. I went to their website and I was immediately impressed that they had Ranunculus at a time when my floral distributor could not even get them for my brides at work. Swoon worthy right?

While I LOVE ranunculus, I wanted something with a little flirty touch, so I took a chance and ordered their Desperado bouquet. As seen below, the Desperado is comprised of a lovely composition of pink roses and soft purple Dianthus. I thought the colors where gorgeous so I pressed “order” and waited a week. The delivery came as scheduled, but to my surprise, my pink and purple bouquet was all pink. It was not a big problem, but it just wasn’t what I expected… until I looked online and saw the note that stated “Pink Roses with Purple Dianthus or similar accent flowers“. This folks, is a prime example of why it is important to read to the end of the line and the bottom of the page J.

Being that I had these delivered to my office, I had a slew of vases in our floral department to choose from. They arrived in a box so I immediately cut them under water at a slight angle to help them last longer. I also was advised by one of our senior designers at my office to remove all extra leaves and cut them short so that water and flower food is not wasted on foliage. I mixed in the flower food that was provided and started playing with how I wanted to style the arrangement I was making. This was my first arrangement right after I took it out of the box on day one.

Day Three

A Week Later

Bouqs start at $40.00 an order, including shipping, and would be a great option for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, dinner parties or just because. It’s not in my financial plan to get these weekly, but I will definitely take advantage of their concierge service that allows you to schedule floral deliveries to your favorite people. I know I will also use them again because the quality, service, and ability to stay fresh longer than your grocery store flowers makes it worth the money. I will list this as: A GOOD BUY.

 

What’s Your Take on Fresh Flowers? Fab or a Waste of Money

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{Shop Smart} 3 Killer Ways to Get the Best Deal from Flash Sale Sites

092211_0244_TheBenefits1.jpgA few years ago, there were only a handful of deal of the day sites. Today, however, it’s hard not to feel inundated with marketing campaigns targeted to make you spend more money. Who doesn’t love a good deal? A great purchase saves you money. It’s something you can afford, something you will use and something of great quality. Some of my favorite places to shop for everything from fashion, home decor and travel stuff has got be Beyond the Rack, RueLaLa and One Kings Lane. For me, I get double the pleasure from these sites because I love to shop and I love to save. Doing both, spending and saving, is possible when you keep these tips in mind. Otherwise, you risk spending more for a deal than you realized.

Click here to read the full article from Danielle Boler of shemakescents.com

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{Simplify Sunday} Getting Rid of Stuff

I am one of those people who gets excited about buying new cleaning products and cute storage containers every time the season changes.  I get a game plan going and I get to work in hopes of creating a refreshed space that is “magazine ready”. I get so hyped shopping for cleaning supplies and new knickknacks, that I bite off more than can be finished in one weekend.  This folks, is mistake number one since most projects like this take longer than two days. This year,  I am taking another approach to spring cleaning.  Since the start of the year, I have made conscious decisions to simplify my life… including finances, schedule, and home. I have realized that with two dogs and two humans in one space, the magazine ready look that I was once able to keep up might take a little more creativity than before. Before styling my home, I must first simplify.

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Getting Rid of Stuff

Boy oh boy is it easy to accumulate things. Being stuck in the house during the ice storm in January gave me the opportunity to take stock of my stuff and I could not believe just how full my space was. Instead of first going out and spending money on storage solutions, I decided to get rid of 100 things like I did two years ago.  This has led me to adopt a one thing in/one thing out policy so I can truthfully assess my inventory of accumulated belongings to decide if I need or even still want certain items. If I decide to keep something, I am challenging myself to use it! The nice dishes and linen napkins… USE IT! The beautiful LBD that the Mr. got me for Christmas… WEAR IT! That gourmet cooking mix that is sitting in the pantry…EAT IT!  Not only is my plan to get rid of stuff going to help me in my attempt to keep a neat and organize home, but it will encourage me to make ordinary experiences even more fabulous because I am using the good china, wearing the Herve dress, and eating the gourmet food without even spending a dime.  On this Simplicity Sunday, I will be taking a laundry bin worth of clothes to the local consignment store.  I will try to make a little money from them, but whatever they don’t take will then go to the Goodwill or a shelter.  Either way. they will not come back into my house!

What “Stuff” Do You Need to Get Rid of?

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{Style Cents} Best Renovations for Resale Value

This may seem random, but I sometimes read up on home remodeling and staging tips from professional stagers all the time. I’m not looking to sell my home, I just LOVE to see what’s new in home decor trends and how I can make my house even more visually appealing. Below is a cool infograph from eLOCAL to help homeowners and prospective buyers decide which remodeling projects will give the largest bang for their buck in the end.  Even if you are like me and just looking to keep your home looking magazine ready, it’s great to understand the rate of return on your renovation. 

Renovations with the Best Resale ValueSource: eLocal.com

What Improvements Have You Made to Your Home?

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{Happy Monday} Behind the Scenes of SMC

Happy Monday Folks!! Around this time of the year, people tend to reflect on things they want to change. I decided that I would not wait until the New Year and start making positive changes NOW; hence, the new look of the site. In addition to the new layout of SMC, we are getting our offices in order. Here are some offices that are giving me everything I need in terms of inspiration.

Check my inspiration for the new SMC office!


{Neiman Marcus + Target} Preview the Holiday Collection NOW!!!

Words cannot express my excitement over the 2012 holiday collaboration between retailers Neiman Marcus and Target which will launch on December 1st (for more information, click here)! Based off the amount of views I got when I first announced the collaboration, I know I am not alone in my excitement. This is the ultimate shopping opportunity to use your “cents” to live the fab life! Click the picture below for a sneak peek of the goodies to come!

{Looking for Money} Simple Suggestions to Start Saving Money TODAY!

If I walked in a room and asked everyone who is completely debt free to raise their hands and someone did, I would truly be surprised.  It’s not because I’m unaware of the fact that debt-free people do exist, it’s just because I see an abundance of people from all walks of life trying to get their finances in a better place.  I myself am one of those people.  The inspiration for this post comes after sitting down and looking at my finances for this month.  A wrench was unexpectedly thrown into my financial pattern when a mistake was made on one of my checks (hey, it sucks but it happens).  This caused me to take a closer look at my money.  Where is it going and could I save more?

Here’s what I found:

 I started the morning trying to pay a bill online that I have already paid. What can I say, at the point in the day, I hadn’t gotten my Starbucks fix. Once on the site, though I saw something about saving money with a FREE online Energy Audit from GA Power, so I followed the link. It took less than 10 minutes and it showed me how the changes I have made over the past year have saved me money in a monthly comparison of 2011 to 2012. It also provided some suggestions for home improvements that can increase comfort while lowering monthly bills. According to Energy Star, “a home energy audit is often the first step in making your home more efficient. An audit can help you assess how much energy your home uses and evaluate what measures you can take to improve efficiency.”

After the Energy Audit, I checked out my credit card balance (insert sad face).  Just to give a little background, a few years ago I paid off my credit card by paying a set amount ($200 a month) instead of the minimum payment. During that time, I saw the decrease in the balance move rather quickly. Now, after living off of my credit card for  one year + span of not working, then a complete career change with a different kind of salary, my credit card balance hit an all time high. I’ve been working to pay it and the balance is moving in the right direction, but it’s not moving fast enough.  So, I decided to input my information into a credit card payment calculator to find out the timeframe of being credit card debt free.  I added a credit card calculator on the right panel of SMC, but I really like this one from the Consumer’s Alliance because it reveals just how much that credit card is going to cost you, or how you can pay off your existing credit card debt a bit faster.  Now, i have an exact goal date and I understand better how a few dollars can make a big difference in the end. 

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{SMC Experiment} Wall Stencils Instead of Wallpaper

I have been waiting until I completed my stencil project to show you the results. If it wasn’t my VERY FIRST post, it was one of my early ones, Buy vs. DIY: Wallpaper vs. Stencils, where I decided to take on the challenge… and I do mean challenge of stenciling my entire guest bathroom. It almost took me an entire year to do it, partly because I was super busy doing other things like planning other renovations and updates in the house, working, and actively NOT working on the wall. I will say it definitely takes patience but I am happy to announce that I am more than pleased with the results.   

Check out the Guest Bath!!


This was an in progress picture, hence the green Frog tape and blue painter’s tape to keep my pattern in line.

Now that the project is complete I can truly answer the question, Buy v. DIY. The answer may surprise you, though. If you are trying to make this decision on a purely financial basis, you might break even. I spent more money than expected on paint and adhesive. I didn’t realize that the Flash Bronze came pint size, so I found myself going back and forth purchasing small things of paint. Expenses really add up quickly since you have to purchase or make the stencil, base coat paint, paint to be stenciled, brushes, trays, tape, and adhesive spray. I would suggest comparing ALL of those costs to the price of wallpaper.   Would I make the same decision knowing what I know now?  Maybe!  Check back next week to learn my tricks I learned along the way that would make a second stencil project a breeze.

What do you think?  I’d Love to Hear!

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{Every Woman Should Know…} How to Set a Table


The number of twenty-somethings that did not know how to set a table properly surprised me.
I believe that every woman should know how to set a table…point blank and period. That is not to say that men need not learn this skill, it is just to speak to an ability that I believe everyone woman should have in her knowledge base. Whether or not you use this, is up to you, but at least you will know. This knowledge is free…. you should take itJ A friend of my called this a “wifey” skill but I just think this is something every woman should know…

Check out this Table-Setting Cheat Sheet:

Photo Credit: Style Baggage 

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Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

{Every Woman Should Know…} How to Set a Table


The number of twenty-somethings that did not know how to set a table properly surprised me.
I believe that every woman should know how to set a table…point blank and period. That is not to say that men need not learn this skill, it is just to speak to an ability that I believe everyone woman should have in her knowledge base. Whether or not you use this, is up to you, but at least you will know. This knowledge is free…. you should take itJ A friend of my called this a “wifey” skill but I just think this is something every woman should know…

Check out this Table-Setting Cheat Sheet:

Photo Credit: Pinterest

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Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com