Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saving money, one mouse click at a time!

So as you're all well aware of, we're all about saving money. Over the summer, Stephen's sister Jen mentioned that she buys all her household stuff online, so today we tried checking out for our household cleaning stuff (that is, the stuff we don't make ourselves). We thought you might be interested in seeing our savings:

Buying things at Target (based on what we've payed in the past there):

2 Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap: ($3.99 ea.) $7.98

1 Tom's of Main Whole Care with Flouride Natural Toothpaste: $4.25

1 Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Room Freshener: $4.99

1 Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid: $4.99

1 Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Detergent: $4.77

1 Organic Wear Duo Eye Shadow: $9.74

1 Seventh Generation Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent: $29.99

Total: $66.71 plus sales tax = $72.05

Buying it at

2 Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap: ($2.99 ea.) $5.98 (a $2 saving)

1 Tom's of Main Whole Care Natural Toothpaste: $3.99 (a $0.26 saving)

1 Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Room Freshener (instead of febreze): $4.99 (same price)

1 Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid: $2.89 (a $2.10 saving)

1 Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Detergent: $4.39 (a $0.38 saving)

1 Organic Wear Duo Eye Shadow: $6.39 (a $3.35 saving)

1 Seventh Generation Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent: $19.99 (a $10 saving)

And, we got free shipping - hello bonus.

Total: $48.62

And that means that by buying online, we saved $23.43, which in our book is completely and totally awesome. Plus, we got to shop from the comfort of our couch while everything is shipped to our front door, saving energy, time, and gas money. Win.

Do you guys buy anything online? Are you planning on starting? Has anyone switched to organic products lately?

Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya 

Friday, October 21, 2011

So Fresh and So Clean Part 5!

This is one of my favorite organic cleaners, because it accomplishes something that I've always desired - germ-and-icky-free food. That's right, this is your recipe for a fruit and vegetable wash.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash #1
1 c. water
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. baking soda

spray on produce; wipe off after five minutes.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash #2
1 c. water
1 c. white vinegar
1 T. baking soda
20 drops grapefruit seed extract

spray on produce; wipe after five minutes.

Combine the ingredients into a spray bottle, spray the cleaner on any fruit or veggie, and let it sit for five minutes before wiping it off. The first time I tried this I almost cried when I saw all the grossness that came off the apples and bananas I was cleaning. It's always disgusted me that I'm just supposed to eat an apple that's been handled by who-knows-how-many people after going through machinery that hasn't been cleaned in who-knows-how-long-if-ever after growing on a tree. So. Much. Nastiness. And then this cleaner was brought to my attention and sweet, sweet relief for a germaphobe like me! Now, whenever we buy veggies and fruit, I wash them with this cleaner before throwing them into our designated "fresh produce" container in the fridge (a colander). We don't keep it in a drawer because we tend to forget about it, resulting in the delicious produce going bad before we use it. This way, we always see it first thing when opening the fridge. :)

Happy (clean and sanitized) Eating!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Falling Into Place

Today was a typical fall day at Casa Waters. I spent the day cleaning the house and baking while Stephen raked and tended to the yard (we're so 1950's-domestic). We all know he has the worse end of that deal. Wanna see why?

The left side of the fence is the backyard brush and
the right side is the front yard. Keep that in mind for later. 
 The leaf pile is looming.

And the best part is, this is just part of what's left in the back yard...

And here's the tree in the front yard. (Remember, everything on the right side of the fence is from this tree...) 

It's a joke, right? That tree doesn't even look like it's lost any leaves. But, in completely related news, if anyone wants to jump into enormous piles of leaves help Stephen bag all these suckers, well, you know how to reach us. 

Also, Anya wanted to say hi: 

Happy raking! 

Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Les Toilettes

So I'm not 100% sure why this is the third remodeling post we've done, because it was the first room done. But it is, what it is, so let's just get to it.

The Main Bathroom.

BEFORE (aka terrifying):

The floor and the tub give me the heebie-jeebies. 

Okay - the whole bathroom gave me the heebie-jeebies. 

So we thought we could just do cosmetic stuff to fix the bathroom, but as tear-out continued, we realized the bathrooms just needed to be redone completely. 

So Stephen tore it all out - both bathrooms actually - so that at one point you could stand in the hallway and see to the backyard. And this was two months before our wedding. We're awesome. 

Stephen's dad, Richard, doing the plumbing!

I mean, you don't even have to know anything about plumbing and home stuff to know this is bad:

Stephen says there's something like over 120 2x4s in our two bathrooms (which are right next to one another). It's undoubtedly the sturdiest part of our house. We have a constant debate about whether or not we'd be safer in the basement or in this bathroom during a storm. 

And naturally he did all the re-wiring and plumbing stuff necessary for two bathrooms. He also tore out the ceiling to give the bathrooms more height since they're so tiny - that helped immensely. 

It was a good day when the tub walls went up. 

This picture was taken from our hallway probably a month (or less) before our wedding day. 

Thanks to Aaron's help, Stephen was able to get the drywall up pretty quickly. 

And my man is an expert tile-er (Official term? I think not). Seriously, he's good. The tile in that bathroom is perfect. Oh, and we moved the toilet to the other side of the bathroom because this bathroom got small to make room for a shower in the second one (more on that later). 

He ended up setting the toilet the night he moved into our house (Thursday night before our Saturday wedding), and then the bathroom went without a door for probably six months (meh - at a certain point you just don't care about silly things like bathroom doors). But it's been completed now for over a year:

Yes, that is a picture of Carl, Nathan, and I (childhood friends) dressed up when we were young.

The extra lighting Stephen installed definitely helps brighten up the small bathroom. 

And here's our pocket door (which, admittedly, still needs to be painted...). 

And as usual, the before and after shots:



It's nice having a clean, fresh bathroom (especially be the germ-freak that I am). Now I'm just waiting on that second bathroom... ;)

Vanessa and Stephen

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ask Stephen

That's right...we've started a new blog - well, Stephen has. Got questions about purchasing a new gadget? How about that sink drain problem you've been having? Need some advice about cars, tires, GPS, oil, computers, or TVs? He's got your answers. And don't forget to ask about home remodeling and audio stuff - he's really good at that. He can even answer your questions about Russian rockets. True story.

So head over to Ask Stephen, email him (or me) your questions and start getting those nagging questions answered!


Monday, October 3, 2011


For those of you who don't know, I'm becoming mildly infatuated with all things organic. I've always been a bit of a germaphobe, and anyone who knows me well knows that I'm wildly afraid of windex (being confused with powerade) and chemically stuff. And with the new job (and mostly the new paycheck) we've been able to start making the switch to organic products - products that are free from harsh chemicals, man-made chemicals, fragrances, and basically anything that hurts poor Mother Earth. 

We thought you might be interested in knowing what we used to buy and what we now use. 

Household Cleaners

Old: Spic n' Span and Windex

Pros: They worked well. The Spic n' Span especially worked well on grease in the kitchen.

Cons: Super full of chemicals and harsh man-made products. Windex just doesn't work as well as they advertise.

New: Homemade

Our All-Purpose Cleaner recipe can be found here and our Window, Glass, and Chrome Cleaner can be found here

Pros: Homemade. Super cheap. Super awesome at cleaning. The glass cleaner is amazing - streak free and shiny for weeks - I kid you not. They smell less harsh and it's okay to eat off the countertops! 

Cons: I guess I have to spend a few minutes every other month or so to mix them together - but that's way easier than trying to clean and realizing you're out of something and then having to go to the I hardly count that as a con. 

If you read the blog frequently, you know I'm obsessed with this stuff: Dr. Bronner's. When they say Magic Soap - they mean magic soap. It's organic, it's natural, and it cleans everything...from your hair to your countertops. True story. 

Laundry Detergent:

Old: Great Value (Walmart brand) liquid detergent in Lavender Vanilla. 

Pros: It smells awesome and comes in a huge container that lasted us like six months.

Cons: Definitely chock-full of chemicals and left our clothes stiff.

New: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Laundry Detergent

Pros: Our clothes come out so soft and smelling super-fresh and clean. Green! No harsh chemicals.

Cons: It's a bit pricier than Walmart brand. (We buy it at Target)


Old: Clorox - of course, does anyone use anything else?

Pros: It's clorox - it kills everything, and it's cheap.

Cons: It's chlorine bleach - it's quite the icky chemical. 

New: Hydrogen Peroxide

Pros: Cheap cheap cheap, and it's a natural product. It leaves our whites so unbelievably fresh and clean-smelling and soft! And we only have to use 1/4 c. for each large load so it lasts forever. 

Cons: Uh, none? It has all the same cleaning and disinfecting properties as bleach.

Hand Soap:

Old: Softsoap 

Pros: comes in a huge bottle for cheap

Cons: smells boring, always leaves our hands dry, full of chemicals that get washed down the drain

New: Mrs. Meyer's Liquid Hand Soap in Lemon Verbena 

Pros: Smells super awesome, leaves our hands feeling very clean and moisturized, no chemicals!

Cons: At almost $4 a bottle, it's definitely more expensive, but we're hoping to find it cheap online or in bulk somewhere soon. For now, we only have it in the kitchen, not in the bathroom(s). 


Old: Coleate Total with Whitening

Pros: It's toothpaste...the normal pros I suppose, clean breath, good for dental health, etc.

Cons: Toothpaste has always left a bad taste in my mouth (apparently not the case for Stephen) and I really have always hated it - the texture, the smell, the way it makes my mouth feel, etc.

New: Tom's of Maine Whole Care with fluoride in peppermint

Pros: organic, made of natural ingredients (including peppermint oil that leaves our mouths feeling so fresh for hours!), you use very little to achieve the same effect as regular toothpaste, and it's affordable.

Cons: none! 


Powder: Neutrogena SkinClearning Mineral powder
Eyeshadow: Rimmel London Glam Eyes Trio Eyeshadow
Mascara: Maybelline Full n' Soft Waterproof Mascara

Pros: The powder makes my face feel clean and soft and it lasts a long time. It's also fairly affordable. The eyeshadow is the exact color that I like (I worked hard to find just the right shades). And, I've been using the same mascara since I was 16 - I love it; it's waterproof and always comes out super dark and in thin layers. 

Cons: They're all man-made materials/chemicals. Sometimes I forget to wash my face at night and then I break out from wearing it overnight. The idea of having all those harsh chemicals near my eyes sort of weirds me out. It's not natural, but to be honest, it's been hard parting with the same products I've been using for years!

Powder: Physician's Formula Organic Wear Pressed Powder
Blush/Bronzer: Physician's Formula Organic Wear Blush and Bronzer
Mascara: Physician's Formula Organic Wear Mascara in Black

Pros: It's all organic and natural materials in the make-up - nothing bad for my skin or for the environment. It makes my face feel awesome and clean and soft and it comes off easily (especially the mascara). The mascara doesn't leave my eyelashes brittle and hard. I like the colors - they compliment my skin nicely. 

Cons: Expensive. $4 dollars more per container than my old powder, and it's hard to find. I still haven't been able to find the eyeshadow (I may just have to order it online). The mascara burned my eyes a bit the first time I wore it and my eyes watered - but I'm guessing that's because I've been wearing the same waterproof mascara for 7 years and my eyes were like "what is this stuff!?" because it hasn't been a problem since. Granted, it not being waterproof is kindof a bummer, although I'm sure it's better for my eyes. 

So there you have it - those are the products we've switched to using organic in. So far, we love it. Seriously. Stuff is still clean and to me it feels even cleaner because there aren't any chemicals that can hurt us, our puppy, or our home. I mean, it's nice knowing Anya can lick the linoleum without having to worry about if she's licking chemicals.

Do you guys use any organic/natural stuff? Are you planning on switching anytime soon or are we just crazy?

Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya

P.S. Be on the look out for Stephen's up-coming blog...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

From "oh..." to "oooh!"

"Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn." - Gore Vidal

As mentioned previously (in this post), we've recently been finishing our living room, which I have to say, has been a royal pain in the butt. However, it's done, which brings our total rooms completed up to three (main bathroom, dining room, and living room). Yay for that! So here we go...

In the beginning, there was a really depressing living room...

It had grungy, dented walls, matted carpet, and sad, sad plastic blinds. 

And of course you can't forget all of that dark wood (including the low-quality trim).

So we quickly decided to spakle (?), sand, and paint that sucker. 

This was during a time of great chaos in the house (don't forget to check out that low hallway entrance. Weird? I think yes. 

We...well, Stephen, ripped out the ceiling in the hallway, opening it up a lot. 

While I sanded and primed the living room. This picture just doesn't convey the excitement we had comparing the old paint to the primer. 

There were many late nights with generous friends helping us restore our sad, sad little house. 

We also got new windows, which made the house sturdier. I kid you not. It doesn't shake as much anymore.

James helped us pick out paint colors. And paint...and paint...and paint! (Imagine ballerinas painting)

It was exciting when we had the new wall color up and the ceilings painted a bright white. 

But this was when I started panicking because the house still looked dingy, and we were getting married and moving in in less than a week. A WEEK. 

Thank God the new carpet saved our butts. So I put up a Christmas tree (naturally) before we even had a working toilet. 

And our dining room table arrived...with no chairs. 

Nevermind the fact that we hadn't painted the trim around the windows, put up baseboards, trimmed out the large window, put in a closet door even...we had a table, a lamp, and a Christmas tree. Priorities, people.

After the wedding, we were excited to relax in our new home, complete with hand-me-down furniture. 

It was a happy time. 

We couldn't believe how great it was having our own house. Even one that the entire neighborhood could see into due to our lack of draperies. 

So we got on that...and our house stayed that way for a very long time. 

With the addition of a few things, like end tables, games... 

...and two awesome recliners (and homemade artwork - check that wall). 

So our living room was a cozy, mismatched, and crazy room for over a year. 

Until one day this summer, I looked down at a thrift store and saw THIS BABY: 

I'm obsessed with this console. 40 bucks to make our living room a
different, more grown up, room.
Then things got crazy. We added a ton of art in the form of picture frames and meaningful mementos to the entryway wall. (And awesome matching lamps - yay no more college ones! And ottomans)

And Stephen finally finished the hallway. That spot above the hallway may or may not have been primerless for over a year due to an oversight. Meh, no biggie. It's done now! 

And look at those pretty doors and that awesome trim. Stephen's a pro. 

Suddenly, one night while out on date night, we found the most perfect couches for a wonderful deal and BAM the living room suddenly went into overdrive. We moved the plaid couch (which was super uncomfortable) to the basement (which, as a side note, now looks like a used furniture store)...

All so Stephen could finish up the trim in the living room (yes, two years this room's had the original, paint-splattered trim. The reason it was paint-splattered is we thought we'd have time to do that before we even moved in...ha ha ha...good one). 

There was a lot of anticipation for the new couches. 

Except from poor Nonnie...she was very distraught and confused. 

Say one last goodbye to that sloppy trim. 

Okay, one more close up so you can see what we've been dealing with for two years. 

 Oh yeah, did I mention the windows STILL weren't trimmed out? They got covered up with the curtains and all of a sudden we just didn't care anymore. Typical, right?

 Oh, and Stephen painted the closet doors and the front door while waiting for the new couches to arrive. He's sort of the handyman superman.

And Ta Da!: 

Wanna see a before and after? Of course you do. 



Now we can (as Stephen put it) sit in our beautiful living room looking at our beautiful dining room. It's sort of fantastic. Seriously. I must be old to be this excited about a couch and a loveseat...but I mean, come on....check out those before and afters. It's incredible what my husband can do. And yes, he's for hire. (Shameless plug, I know). So there you have it, a majority of our living room pictures and a quarter of our excitement about having this room done (it just can't be expressed through a blog - you'd need to have been there for me to see the couches in the room for the first time...there may or may not have been jumping and squealing).

So, who wants to come over for cocktails in our new living room? 

Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya