Vintage DIY Magnets

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Today I wanted to share a quick DIY project I did with some of my Vintage Market finds.  Remember these fun antique letter blocks I got from Alaska Picker?  They were the perfect size to work as magnets on our chalkboard portion of the new command center.

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The backs were solid blocks of wood so there was a perfect surface to attach magnets.

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I picked up a pack of strong magnets at Michaels.  Other shoppers probably thought I was a nut-job as I tested several packs on various metal items around the store before deciding which option had the best grip.  But I a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do to make sure her project has staying power. 🙂

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I was pretty sure the magnets were strong enough that I could use one per block, but since the pack came with 8 I decided to double them up on each just for good measure.  A little hot glue and we were in business.  It seriously took longer to wait for the glue gun to heat up than it did to glue the magnets down.

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One of the blocks apparently had some paper backing still attached where I added the magnet so it came off, but I cleaned both up and reapplied it without issue.

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And here they are on the chalkboard.  They do blend in a bit with the colors but that’s ok because they are the perfect size for the space.  Once they were up I noticed that having magnets on each corner kept the blocks level rather than having one in the center where the block might get bumped and loose grip, so I’m glad I decided to go that route.

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So what do you think of my new/old magnets? I’d love to see how others have used vintage letter blocks in their décor, so leave me a comment with a photo if you have!

A DIY Command Center

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Containing paper clutter is a constant battle in our home, just as I’m sure many can relate.  Because we enter the house from the garage through the laundry room most of the stuff that comes home ends up dumped on the dining room table or kitchen counters so I figured that was a good place to start.  I decided to create a command center in this little corner where we could write notes, stash important papers and organize the hub’s stuff.

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I started with a small wooden organizer where the hubs can stash his wallet, receipts and notes.  I also found him a small jar with a lid for loose change.  That worked fairly well, but he often had full size papers that he needed handy so I decided to add a wire rack we picked up during one of our trips to Portland.  It had been in the laundry room for a while but never got used there and came down when I did my DIY Ballard Knockoff Décor for that space, so I’m glad it’s found a useful home here.  I used two clear hooks with removable adhesive tape to hang it just under the countertop.  It fits the small nook of space perfectly.

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Originally I wanted to paint the side of the top cabinet to create a chalkboard but the hubs nixed that idea noting that if I changed my mind later removing the paint would damage the cabinet.  What?!  I never change my mind! Well ok.  He might have a point there. 🙂  So I came up with a better idea.  I’d paint a piece of sheet metal and install that on the side of the cabinet so it was both chalkboard and a magnet board!  Of course they didn’t sell a piece that was just the right size so the hubs cut one down for me.

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A couple thin coats of chalkboard paint and it was looking pretty good.  The hardest part was waiting for it to dry in between coats.

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Next I seasoned the chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk over the entire surface and then wiping it down.  This helps prevent things from “staying” on the surface after you wipe them down.

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Since the hubs wanted the piece to be removable I attached it with the same removable adhesive strips I’d used on the hooks for the wire rack.  IF I every change my mind I can start at the bottom and work my way up pulling the tabs to release the adhesive.

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I stuck it up on the side of the cabinet against the trim on the front and top of the cabinet so the edges weren’t exposed.  And as you can see, it works great as a magnetic board too holding our early bird tickets for Junk Bonanza outside Portland in October!

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Things were looking pretty good at this point but I wanted to address the uneven edge of the metal along the wall.  The hubs did a great job cutting the sheet metal, but the tool he used had to take a 1/4″ off at a time so he wasn’t able to match the size exactly.  He was pretty frustrated that it wasn’t perfect, so I wanted to find a way to make it work.

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I tried a few pieces of trim we had on hand but most were too big or bulky.  I picked up a square dowel at Lowes but that was too narrow and too thick, so I returned that.  A few days later I was at Michaels and figured I’d look at what they had.  I’m glad I did because I found a piece of balsa wood that was the right thickness and width for what we needed. At less than $2 plus a coupon it was the perfect solution. I gave it a couple coats of stain to match the cabinet color.  It fit so well that it actually stayed up without any adhesive but I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t get bumped off so I added a little hot glue on the backside before putting it up.  The glue should be easy to peel off if I ever need to.

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Now I needed somewhere to store my chalk.  I originally planned to use colored chalk pens like the yellow you saw above, but they have to be primed and I didn’t want to deal with delays when I needed to work up a grocery list, so I opted for old-school white chalk instead.  I used more hot glue to attach this pull handle upside down to create a cup where the chalk sits.  I did have to reposition the cup due to installing it unevenly, which caused the chalk paint to peel up a bit which caused the bare spot under the holder, but I touched that up with a thin coat of chalkboard paint and it looks fine now.  I still need to touch up the wall paint, but I’ll get to that at some point.

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Since the papers in the rack still looked messy I found these simple poly vinyl folders to clean it up a bit.  I wanted something a little cuter, but apparently mid-March is not prime season for two pocket folders.  Who knew right?!  I’ll keep an eye out when the back to school supplies come out in the fall, but for now these seem like they will hold up pretty well and could be easy enough to add simple decoration to with paint or vinyl designs.  That might just be a future post if I do!

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Total cost for the all the materials came in around $50. Because the extra metal and chalkboard paint can be used for other projects that lessens the total a bit too.  I love it and I’m sure it will be super handy once we start fostering and have kiddo’s school papers to manage.   I’m going to keep an eye out for another wire rack that matches this one when we are in Portland this fall in case we need to expand since there’s still room on the bottom cabinet to accommodate another.

I’d love to hear what you think of our new DIY command center or how you created one of your own, so leave me a comment below.

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TDC Before and After

Alaska Chick’s Vintage Market

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Last weekend I visited a fun Vintage Home Market, which I had been eagerly anticipating for months.  I attended the event last year when it was held at a smaller venue which became very crowded, so I was glad they were able to move to this larger space.  I had a wedding booked that afternoon so I went first thing in the morning, despite the late spring snow storm that had rolled into the area.  Tickets went on sale at 8 am and doors opened at 9, so I arrived a little after 8 to pay and get in line.  The picture above is the view as you enter the building.  On the other side of the entry was this beautiful set up.

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I browsed the front booths from the line, including this double space booth done by the market coordinator, Alaska Chicks.  There were so many great items packed into the space that you had to look several times to see them all.

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They also had this fun photo booth at the front of the line where you could take selfies with the vintage car and model.  It was a great idea to utilize the wait time, which several folks did.

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The line grew as the opening time got closer and eventually filled the whole staging area, with several groups flowing out the door.  I took this shot just 10 minutes before they opened the market with a vintage air raid siren from Alaska Picker, who we bought our windmill art from!

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I was so busy shopping that I didn’t take any pictures once the market opened, but you can see lots of the vendor’s booths and wares on the event page here.  My favorite set up was this rustic truss with moss.

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And of course I found a few treasures to bring home.  The first thing I got was a custom order for a grain sack sham for our bed from this amazing vendor.  I made a beeline for her booth as soon as they opened because that was my one MUST get item for the show.  Across from her space was a vendor with repurposed wine barrel furniture and décor where I found these cool barrel band hearts!  I’d seen some on craigslist back in February and messaged the seller but never got a response so I was giddy to find them here.  Plus they were the same price, just $10 each!  They will be going up on the side of the house when we expand the chicken run later this spring.

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I also found several “little” treasures, including a handmade whale and fun Alaska art print for the foster room, a large ampersand that will be added to the gallery wall soon and vintage letter blocks that I plan to make into magnets for the project I’ll be sharing next!

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This show has me so motivated to start making things for the Junktion Market in July where I’ll be sharing a booth with the gal who does our furniture refinishing, where I plan to do a little browsing as well.  I’ll also be shopping the Alaska Picker Day in June, then hit the Junk Bonanza outside of Portland when we visit in October!  I’m sure I’ll find more rusty, vintage goodness to bring home at each and will certainly share my finds with you all right here on the blog. 🙂

Goodwill Grand Opening

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Last week Goodwill opened a new thrift store just a few blocks from where I work!  Although there are several Salvation Army thrift stores around town this is the first Goodwill.  I’ve had great experiences at their stores in the lower 48, so I was pretty excited to see what it was like here.  I’m happy to say that they met my expectations and exceeded a few too!

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The first thing they did right is choosing a good location.  Not only is it near my work (extra points for that!) the building is massive and has great parking.  It was previously a sports equipment store so the interior is newer and wide open.  They even have enough space to use half of the store as the donation center, which includes a cover you can drive under so you don’t have to deal with Alaskan weather just to drop off items.

I came on opening day, but waiting until lunch time figuring the 8 am grand opening would draw the biggest crowds.  Unfortunately I forgot to factor in that it was spring break that week so everyone was looking for things to do and this was apparently one that many chose because the place was super busy!  Several times I skipped aisles because they were too congested to get a good look at the items on the shelves, but I’m sure that was just because of this was opening day.  I skipped the clothes, shoes and books this visit and instead made a beeline for housewares where I searched for project materials and décor items.

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It was well stocked and the staff were constantly bringing out more items to keep the shelves full.  They also did a great job with creating their employee team because every staff person I encountered as friendly and had wonderful attitudes even as they tried to squeeze around shoppers to do their job.  One gal was cleaning up some broken glass from a dropped item and could barely find room to sweep but it never phased her.  In fact she made it an opportunity to spread cheer and noted that shopper safety was her priority.

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Another thing they did right were the prices.  That’s a big thing here in Alaska, where several of the thrift stores seem to think they can charge a few pennies less than retail on items.  It also didn’t hurt that I had a 20% off coupon thanks to donating before the store opened! 🙂  I ended up finding so many treasures that I had to switch from a small roll behind basket to an actual shopping cart which was mounded over by the time I made it to the cashier line.

Check out was another spot they exceeded my expectations.  They had someone monitoring the line to make sure no one snuck past and went straight to the cashiers, plus they had tech support standing by for any little glitches the new computer systems might have.  And all of the staff on the cashier line were smiling and helping each other out when there were questions.

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With my coupon I ended up spending just over $60 for this haul, which included puzzles, games and stuffed animals for the foster room plus Easter décor, yard art, dog toys, a treat holder for the chickens and several pieces that will become sale projects.  Hopefully this location will continue to impress with good selection, affordable prices and great staff.  If they do, I plan to be a regular!

What great treasures have you found at thrift stores recently?  Leave me a comment to share!

Crafting Organization with Baskets

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I recently added some new organization to my crafting area that I’m pretty excited about.  Although I have tons of storage for tools and small materials in my craft cabinet, I often found that I had larger items saved for projects stashed away in other parts of the house and being out of sight, I often forgot about them.  So when I spotted a simple ladder shelf on the buy/sell page for $25 I jumped on it.

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I knew right away that the wire baskets from the Better Homes & Gardens line I’d been lusting after would work perfectly on the shelves. Unfortunately my local stores didn’t carry the baskets so I had to order them online and wait for them to arrive.

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Once they did, I placed two on each shelf and organized my various project materials in them, leaving the narrower top shelf for my paints and stains.  I also had room to slide a large item behind the lower shelves and rest several flat pieces on the bottom of the shelf frame.

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The baskets are the perfect size to hold all those oddly shaped pieces and the canvas liners keep little parts contained.  They even have chalkboard panels on the front, so I can add labels to them and easily change them as inventory changes.

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This space is still a work in progress, but it feels more inspiring now that it’s well organized with everything ready and available.  And soon that box of barn door hardware tucked next to the cabinet will be installed for a project I’ve been dreaming of since we started construction!  I’ll share the details once it’s complete so watch for that. 🙂

A Simple Revamp with Paint & a Knob

1TopToday I’m sharing a quick revamp I did on a side table with a bit of midcentury mod style.  Here’s how it looked when I spotted it on the buy/sell page.

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It was a good price for a solid wood piece and I knew I could give it a facelift with a quick coat of paint.  I had grey paint on hand from a previous project so I used that. I was pretty happy with how modern the new color made the piece look, even part way through painting!

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Once everything was dry I switched out the futuristic drawer pull for a simpler knob.  I originally wanted to do a farmhouse style pull like we have on the drawers in the office, but since that would require drilling new holes I decided to stick with the single attachment option.  I also added a basket for more storage space.  It’s the perfect size for magazines or a throw blanket which makes the piece very functional in a multitude of spaces.

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I originally planned to use this piece as part of a desk in the foster room but changed my mind as the room came together, so for now it’s acting as a nightstand in the guest room.

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I paid $30 for the table and around $20 for the basket, so the total cost came in just under $50.  Not bad for a quick little project.  I’m currently on the hunt for a small dresser for the guest room so when I find one this piece may find a new home elsewhere in the house.  I could see it working well as a side table in the family room as well.  But if not it should be an easy piece to sell.

I’d love to hear what you think of the transformation!  Leave me a comment below about how you’d use it in your home if you had the chance.

Board & Batten in the Laundry Room

bWhile we were putting up the shiplap wall in the dining room, we also installed a board and batten treatment in the laundry room.  The last time you guys saw the laundry room it was looking like this.  We put up this small coat rack shortly after moving in so our coats didn’t end up draped across the dining room table chairs and island bar stools.  It was functional, but the short width of the rack meant things bulked up in the middle and started to intrude on the walkway.

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Here’s what it looks like now.  With spaced out hooks it’s easier to organize the coats we use daily and they lay flatter against the wall making the space less crowded.

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The process to get this look was minimal and fairly low cost.  We already had the paint on hand, the hooks were purchased with a coupon and the boards were cut down from a single sheet of plywood.  We started by nailing up a header board at the same height as the old coat rack.

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Next we added the vertical boards to create the panels.  We had to piece together a few of the verticals, but since those spots end up behind the door I wasn’t too concerned about it.  We also removed the handle pad on the wall since one of the vertical boards now runs over part of where it was.

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We spackled the nail holes and joints between boards so we’d have a smooth surface to paint.

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It took several coats of paint to get everything covered, and I eventually painted the one trim section of the door casing on either side of the room so it tied in with the new wall treatment.

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The final step was adding the hooks.  I found these on Amazon after seeing them used in a bathroom revamp on one of my favorite blogs.  They didn’t come with screws so the hubs picked up some at the hardware store that were close to the same finish.

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I could have staged the space to make it look even more amazing, but I decided to keep it real for you.  The fact that the coats are hung and out of the way is enough to make me happy!

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I plan to add some sort of artwork or décor on the wall above the top board, but I’ll hold out until I find, or DIY, the perfect pieces. Who knows, maybe I’ll find that this weekend at the local Vintage Market!  But even if I don’t it will be fun to look!  🙂

TDC Before and After

The New Dining Room Sideboard

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Today I’m super excited to share our new sideboard buffet for the dining room, but first you might notice the blog got a little update since my last post.  Hopefully you like the new design as much as I do and the added features make things easier to find.  Now, on to the buffet.  I’m absolutely in love with how this piece turned out!  Here’s how it looked when I spotted it on the local buy/sell page.

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It wasn’t as tall as the one we had before but it was wider and had more storage cabinets which is what I had been looking for.  I was way down the line for dibs and thought for sure it would never make it to me, but a few days later the seller message me to say that I was up next and see if I still wanted it!  We were still in Hawaii so I contacted Anne-Tiques who refinished our hope chest and arranged for her to go pick it up for us even though it was located a ways out of town.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE working with her?!  She’s one of the best small businesses I’ve dealt with in a long, long time.

When we returned from Hawaii we went over to see it in person and worked out the game plan for what the final product would be.  To fix the height problem we decided to create a riser platform that the whole piece would sit on and since it would be enclosed we added an air vent to the front so we could still use the floor vent that is located under where the piece would sit.  Here’s the hubs inserting the vent in the riser before we arranged everything.

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Here’s the finished piece against our new shiplap wall!  The colors are fun yet neutral at the same time and it compliments the grey of the dog bowl stands perfectly.

2Luna thought this was a great new hiding spot for her while I was getting it stocked.  She was not too pleased when I informed her that this was not for her, but for storage.

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The hubs made me this handy shelf for the middle section so I can store a variety of items all within easy reach.

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The cabinet on the left holds our china, antique juice glasses from the hub’s family and the toasting flutes from our wedding.  The other side was perfect for a large platter, chip & dip set, salad bowl, bread basket, condiment server and covered baker.

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S2The drawers above hold our fancy serving utensils, salt & pepper shakers, gravy boat, butter dish and other small dishes we use periodically. Now we just need to get the windmill hung above it! 🙂

We’ve Got Shiplap!

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The first project we tackled after getting back from Hawaii was adding faux shiplap to the dining room.  Although it was high on my wish list I didn’t have plans to get it done until later, but the perfect opportunity presented itself and we decided to make the most of it.

While on vacation I found a larger sideboard to replace the inefficient one we had and made arrangements for my awesome furniture refinisher to pick it up before we returned home.  The buffet we had sold so fast that I had to empty the entire contents on the dining room table, which left the wall empty for about 2 weeks.  Knowing this was a rare opportunity the hubs suggested we just knock it out so it would be done when the new buffet was ready.  I quickly agreed and we figured out what we needed.

We started by locating the studs and marking their location the entire height of the wall so we’d know where to nail the boards in at.  Here’s my stud locating the wood studs.  I helped draw the lines and we recorded the measurement of each from either side of the wall so we’ll know where to anchor the windmill when it goes up later this spring.

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We purchased several sheets of 1/4″ hard oak plywood which we planned to have the box store cut into strips for us, but due to poor training the hubs was told they don’t do that.  So he brought the full sheets home and we ripped them into 8″ planks on our table saw.  Unfortunately, we didn’t notice that the back grip on the guide had come loose and most of our boards were not perfectly matched.  We divided them into piles by width so we could easily find similar sized boards as we added new pieces.  We started at the top and nailed the first board in along the stud marks.

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Once we had the top row done we used nickles to space out the second row.  Eventually we got tired of fussing with the nickles and just eyeballed the spacing, which worked out pretty well.  The process went pretty quickly and soon we were almost done.

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Stoli was quite interested in the process and kept trying to figure out how he could help.  Eventually he decided that guarding dad while he was down on the floor was his best option. 🙂

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The hubs had to cut around the two outlets at the bottom of the wall, which took some measuring but went smoothly.  Another row after that and we had the entire wall done.

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Next we spackled all of the nail holes, let them dry and then sanded them smooth.  Luckily we could find most in a line where the studs were but we had to find the additional nails were the boards joined going across.  We still missed one or two but I figure it adds a bit of character.

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The wood had an orange, almost red tone so we knew it would take several coats to cover.  Here’s how things looked halfway through the first coat.

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Another coat had countered the orange but there was still some bleed through so we opted for a third coat.

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The bright white makes the entire space so much brighter and I love how it reflects the light from the windows in the dining room.  There were a few imperfections, but it fits our rustic style so I let them be.

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The hubs wasn’t crazy about the idea of this project in the beginning but once it was done he stood back and said “Looks pretty good.  I like it.”  I’m glad he does because I LOVE it!  It makes me smile every time I walk in the room and see it. What’s even better is how it works with the new buffet which I’ll share in my next post!

TDC Before and After

8 Tips for Visiting Hawaii on a Budget

Now that I’ve finished sharing all of our fun adventures in Hawaii I thought I’d do a quick round up of tips for those who might be planning a trip to this great destination.

1. Book early or late for the best rates, but also shop around.
The hubs did most of the planning for this trip and scored some great rates on both the hotel and rental car because we reserved them several months in advance.  It wasn’t until after the reservations were made that we realized the weekend we were in Honolulu coincided with the ProBowl, which significantly increased prices due to demand but because we had our reservation in so early the hotel hadn’t yet adjusted the rate and we got a better deal than most of the folks staying there during the same days.  The hubs also found an awesome deal on the rental car by going with a lesser known brand and searching the travel search sites for the lowest price.

2.  Research and read reviews to prioritize what you want to see and do.
We did a lot of research ahead of time to make sure we hit all the things we really wanted to.  I started with a list of things in each area that sounded interesting and ranked them to decide which made the must-do list and which were “if we have time” items.  Online travel reviews were a huge help in weeding out the tourist traps and finding lesser known but more interesting places or activities.

3. Decide what’s worth paying for and where you can save.
Although we’re always on the hunt for a bargain, sometimes its worth paying for an experience.  Don’t skip the once in a lifetime option just because it’s pricey.  Swimming with the rays and the submarine tour were expensive compared to other activities, but both are something we couldn’t do anywhere else we were traveling, so it made the price reasonable.  To balance those costs we opted to enjoy the hotel’s free entertainment options like fireworks on the beach and the garden tour.  Choosing the hotel’s luau saved us additional admission and parking fees required at some of the other local luau shows.  We also found free activities around town such as hiking to the ruins, enjoying public beaches on the North Shore and on the big island, strolling the Swap Meet and the Chinese New Year celebrations – although the last two did lead to a couple of additional well-priced purchases. 😉  And getting up early got us free tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial.  While on the big island we made the most of our minimal park admission fee visiting the lava tunnels, driving the park’s scenic roads, touring the art gallery and museum, attending a volcano presentation and a couple nights of volcano watching.

4.  Don’t over schedule.
Thanks to our research, we were able to plan out what activities we wanted to do each day, but we only planned one or two things for each day so we didn’t feel rushed or stressed to maintain the schedule. We also had a couple of “no plans” days in case weather didn’t cooperate or we just didn’t feel like doing what we’d planned that day which gave us flexibility to be spontaneous.  Having a flexible plan allowed us to be relaxed but still see everything we wanted to.

5.  Plan for traffic.
This is a critical tip if you want to make the most of your time in Hawaii.   Honolulu traffic can be intense and we weren’t interested in spending any of our vacation stuck in traffic so we opted to schedule our plans opposite of the traffic patterns.  Since we stayed downtown we would be heading out of town as the morning rush hour wrapped up and timed our trip back to the hotel to be opposite of the afternoon exodus from Honolulu.  While we still encountered traffic in both directions it was nothing compared to what we saw heading the other direction!

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6. Shop around for souvenirs.
We all end up buying some type of souvenirs on vacation, but you don’t want to pay more than you need to.  We found great deals on some of the same items we’d seen in shops around town at the Swap Meet and the Exchange (PX) at the joint military base had the same food gifts for a third of what the Dole Plantation was charging.  However, that doesn’t mean they have the best price on everything. The Exchange had the same shirt the hubs bought at a hotel shop for twice what he paid! So take your time and don’t feel like you have to buy something right away.

7.  Eat where the locals eat.
Restaurants in the trendy shipping districts are considerably more expensive than some of the local favorites that might be off the beaten path. While we enjoyed Buho, the rooftop Mexican cantina we found in downtown Waikiki, they were definitely priced for tourists visiting the high-end retailers nearby. In comparison, our visits to Nico’s, Teddy’s Bigger Burger and Fatboy’s were just as pleasing to our bellies but did less damage to our wallets. Each of these eateries were in areas where the locals live and work so we had to seek them out but it was worth the little bit of effort.

8. Bring home Costco pineapples.
One of the best parts of visiting Hawaii is bringing home a fresh pineapple. We originally planned to purchase some at the Dole Plantation but their prices seemed excessive so we started searching online to see if there was a cheaper choice. The hubs was concerned that dealing with agricultural customs at the airport would be difficult and wanted to buy pineapples once we got through security (where they check carry on agriculture items) but we heard they were just as expensive there as they were at Dole. Several online sources said the inspection was minimal and as long as your items were free of bugs or rotten spots there shouldn’t be an issue. So we bought 4 pineapples with Dole tags at Costco for less than what we would have paid for 2 at Dole, put them in the branded boxes we bought at Dole for a few bucks each and hand carried them on the plane. At the airport the boxes went through the x-ray machines without issue and even when I asked the agriculture inspectors if they wanted us to open the boxes they said there was no need. Making that stop at Costco saved us more than $60 and gave us a convenient opportunity to fill up the rental car’s gas tank at another discount while we were there so it was well worth the little bit of extra effort.

I hope these tips help you plan a fun and budget-friendly trip to the Aloha state!