Friday, March 30, 2012

Budget bathroom remodel Part 1: Barcelona Gothic Quarter style

True love is the Mr. allowing me to take this perfectly functional bathroom in the house: 

And do something similar to this to it:

And since nothing is more frivolous than a chandelier in the bathroom, this Frivolous Friday I bring you the first installment of our budget (less than $1,000) bathroom remodel!

That last photo was my original style inspiration, although my ideas have since evolved;  specifically I plan on incorporating the dark cabinetry, chandelier and vessel sink, although would like the color scheme to have a warmer Spanish/Spanish Colonial feel to it.  I lived in Spain for four years, and absolutely fell in love with the country.  And when I say "fell in love", I mean, "tried to never leave". And by "tried to never leave", I mean I illegally overstayed my visa on more than one occasion, traded English classes for food and a room in an apartment when things got tight, and tried unsuccessfully to talk a Spaniard friend into marrying me so I could get residency. 

But alas, it wasn't meant to be.  So I've decided to incorporate a little of the Spain that I love so much into my life here in the US.   I'm specifically planning on borrowing from elements found in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona; namely wrought iron and stone. 

Our progress so far is the following:

Purchased Fixtures and Countertop

We found the following vessel sink at Home Depot. Cost: $80 
The sink is even prettier in person (see below), and since this style can easily run $200 - $400, we were thrilled to find one at such a great price.  


I absolutely fell in love with the following sample of granite for the countertop, and was able to track down a slab remnant from a local fabricator, which saved us a significant amount of money.  Cost (edges finished and fully installed): $400

Actual slab remnant: 

We found the following chandelier at a local lighting store. Cost: $200
I was pretty picky about this particular fixture - I wanted something with a gothic feel to it that wasn't too overwhelming or large, but still gave off enough light to properly illuminate the bathroom.  It doesn't look like much in this picture, but when it's wired and turned on, it's absolutely gorgeous.

Total cost so far is $680, and with the $320 left in the budget we need to purchase the sink fixtures, paint, tile for the walls (maybe), a mirror, and a new shower curtain.  It's going to be tight.

Lessons learned so far: 

1. If you're inexperienced with remodels like I am, take whatever you *think* your budget will be and double for a more realistic estimate.

2. Take whatever you *think* your timeframe will be and triple it for a more realistic estimate. 

3. Don't buy anything from a showroom: Check out the "universes" first (, and search through the scrap yards at local granite fabricators and building surplus lots. 

Are any of you in the process of remodeling/updating your home/apartment/etc.? Where do you get your inspiration? Any cost saving tips to share? 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  The Mr. and I plan to spend a good part of it tearing out that tile countertop, and hopefully I'll have more progress to report soon!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Disqus - currently importing past comments

Hi all!  I decided to install the Disqus commenting feature to streamline things a bit, and to enable readers to be notified when I've replied to one of their comments.  Apparently it takes about 24 hours to import all the comments that have been made in the past to this new platform, then we should be good to go.  So don't worry - I haven't erased any of your sweet and thoughtful posts, and they should be back tomorrow!  In the meantime, new comments seem to be appearing normally.

Bargains and bobcats

I took an hour and hit up a couple thrift stores in town this week, and was absolutely amazed at the quality and variety at both!  They were so great, in fact, that I'd feel like a complete jerk for paying full price for anything right now.  Included in my loot was this fully-lined Gianni Bini inverted pleat skirt that was priced at $6.99.

And right before heading outside to snap those pictures, look what casually sauntered through the backyard:

The house backs up to foothills, which turn into mountains, and occasionally the bobcats will come down into the neighborhoods when they need water.  They are beautiful and are really impressive to see, but I'm pretty sure it was this same cat I caught a couple weeks ago trying to sneak up on my three little pups that were snoozing ... fat, happy and oblivious, in the sun just on the other side of that wire. :-S  No more unsupervised outside time for them.

But back to business.  What kind of relationship do you have with thrift stores? Love/hate/indifference?  Any great finds to report?  

Gianni Bini Inverted Pleat skirt (Thrifted - $6.99) 
Top: Black Ruffle tie-front blouse (old) 
Shoes: Jessica Simpson Calie nude pump
Bracelets: Flowered (gift), pearl necklace worn as bracelet
Bag: The Limited faux ostrich satchel

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shop Mapel giveaway winner and modeling Frugal Finds

And the Shop Mapel giveaway winner is .... 

...Turbo (aka Rebecca).

Congratulations!  Thank you again to Staci over at Shop Mapel and to everyone that entered.  I wish I could have given something away to every single one of you, but remember that the "mini20" coupon code is good for 20% off all Shop Mapel merchandise for minimestyle readers through the end of the day, and that shipping (within the US) is always free! 

Methods: Since the entries weren't all necessarily one comment per entry (some had multiple entries per comment), what I did was hand count them (versus randomly choosing a comment) and put everyone's name as many times as you had entries in an excel spreadsheet. Then I applied the random function to scramble the names. Like so:

Then I used to generate the number of the winner.

And I'm sure I've overcomplicated the whole process in just about every way possible. 

So for something uncomplicated, here is the exact same stuff I posted yesterday (frugal finds blazer and bag) except now I'm wearing it. Because I couldn't wait. No. Self. Discipline. But I have mad excel skills, no?

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Blazer: Express Striped Knit Blazer (on sale!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Last call on Shop Mapel giveaway & Frugal Finds

Good afternoon, everyone!  Just a reminder that today is the last day to enter the Shop Mapel giveaway!  Details here

I'm short on time and clad in gym clothes right now, so I thought I'd share a couple items I found on sale and am loving this week. 

J's Everyday Fashion and Lilly's Style have recently done adorable outfits that incorporated striped blazers, so when the following went on sale for half off at Express (plus another 30% off at checkout), I bought it immediately!

Express Striped Blazer - currently on sale for $39.99 (additional discount applied at checkout)
It does run small, so you I'd suggest sizing up a size if you decide to buy it. 

I also found a 40% off Limited coupon floating around in my car, and decided to apply it to this bag, which I absolutely love and will definitely become a staple: 

My grad student persona wouldn't normally consider a $79.90 bag ($48 after the discount) a "steal", although considering the great quality, rave reviews it received, and the use I'll get out of it, I definitely think it was worth it.  In fact, I think it's still worth it at the original price.

Have a lovely afternoon everyone, and I'll be back once I can force myself to change out of yoga pants and white ankle socks. :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

J. Crew Jardin Skirt

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!  I spent the majority of it working, although I did get a much needed dinner party and karaoke break on Friday night with some good friends.  It was so much fun, in fact, that I'm still nursing a pulled muscle in my lower abs and another in my left glut.  The former is due to excessive laughter and the latter is an unsolved mystery. The only possible explanation being that we take karaoke way more seriously than we do the gym around here.

I moved to the desert from the Northeast about a year and a half ago, and I've been slowly trying to build a warm weather wardrobe.  A closetful of wool coats just doesn't cut it in the 115 degree mid- summer heat, so when this J. Crew cotton voile skirt went on sale-plus-an-additional-40%-off last week, I jumped at the chance an ordered it.  It is pretty full and I was worried that the volume and length would be too much, but the petite version hits me just below the knee and is just full enough to give it shape without being overwhelming.  It is very airy and comfortable, and I know it will get a lot of wear this summer.

Are there any warm weather staples you reach for when the temperatures rise in the summer? 

I hope you all have a wonderful week, and don't forget to enter the Shop Mapel giveaway, which ends tomorrow at midnight!

Skirt: J. Crew Jardin skirt (currently on sale, and I snagged it in petite last week with an additional 40% off coupon!)
Shirt: Banana Republic 3/4 sleeve shirt (old - similar here for $15)
Belt: The Limited Obi belt (on sale!) 
Shoes: Zara faux snakeskin kitten heels (old - love these leopard flats for $12.99!)
Clutch: The Limited Cutout clutch (currently 40% off!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Frivolous Fridays

I'm not sure if we have any Hunter S. Thompson fans in the house, but one of my absolute favorite things he wrote is: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” 

That pretty much sums up how I feel every Friday morning. Not because I drop acid or am a masochist or enjoy the figurative self-flaggelation that comes with grad school or that it's a personal goal to completely wear myself out Monday - Thursday. It just inevitably happens.  Every week. Mostly because I may have the worst time management skills ever.

So I've given myself permission to slack a little bit on Friday, and instead of photographing and posting a full outfit, I think I'll share some of the fun little not-strictly-clothing things I've discovered or been loving throughout the week.  So this Frivolous Friday I bring you earrings!

See, normally when I'm struck with inspiration to do something, I find out I'm ten years late to the party.  Like the time around my 15th birthday when I decided I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater.  Or that other time last month when I thought it would be a good idea to start a fashion blog.  Or a couple days ago when I decided to wear these long, feather earrings!

Oohh ... know what would look really natural? If I pretended to spontaneously sniff the one flower I have in my entire desert yard. Ha. See? I made fun of myself before you could. 
I actually think I'm only a year or so behind on the earrings, and I love them so much that I just don't care.  I found these on Etsy through the shop, and would highly recommend this particular seller.  The feathers are gorgeous and her workmanship is pristine.

Earrings: From Wild Spirits on Etsy
Black strapless jumpsuit: ASOS (old - similar and super inexpensive here!)
Belt: F21 double buckle elastic belt

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!  And since the topic of authors came up, have you read anything recently that you absolutely loved?  I finally finished Pillars of the Earth (only 6 years late on that one), and it was really entertaining.  I just downloaded Half the Sky, and I can't wait to start it.

PS - don't forget to enter the Shop Mapel Giveaway!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

J.Crew inspired II

I spent all day oggling the great colored denim looks that Pretty Little Things put together yesterday, and decided to try to re-create the pink pants, striped top J. Crew look she posted.  Affordably.  And this is what I came up with.   

I feel like colored denim is a stretch for me (literally and figuratively), and screams "look how short and pear-shaped you are!", so I tried to avoid adding insult to injury by not visually chopping my feet off with contrasting shoes.  Hence the trusty pair of Jessica Simpson's in "the same exact shade as the sand in my under-construction back yard" nude.

What do you think about the colored denim trend? Yea or nay? Do you think it will last beyond one season? 

Jacket: The Limited Stretch Sateen Jacket (similar at F21 here)
Sweater: Loft Striped Button Shoulder Sweater (on sale!)
Belt: Target (still available in stores, or similar here
Shoes: Jessica Simpson Calie nude pump (similar at Target here)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Transitional stripes

Winter decided to go out with a bang here in the desert, and the weather has been all over the place the last couple days.  Intermittent snow, hail, rain and sun.  And it's going to be back up in the '80s by the end of the week!  So I took advantage of the recent temps to wear layers and boots, which most likely won't be possible again until mid-October.  

Now excuse me while I awkwardly hug this palm tree.

Also, don't forget to enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Shop Mapel here!

V-neck sweater: J. Crew (old - similar here and love this green!)
Belt: Promod (old - similar here
Boots: Aerosoles Ride Line (half off!)

Shop Mapel Giveaway! {CLOSED}

I’m excited to announce that I’ve paired up with the lovely Staci from Shop Mapel to offer one of my readers a $25 gift certificate, redeemable at Mapel's online boutique at! You can read a little more about Mapel in one of my previous posts here Mapel carries a great selection of both well-known and independent brands in clothing and jewelry, including a great assortment of designer denim.  Here are some of my favorites right now: 

Shop Mapel Favorites

Mapel also offers a "Happy Hour" every day in which different items are discounted as much as 40% - don't forget to take a look at the Happy Hour promotion listed on the bottom, left corner of the Shop Mapel website

How to enter this giveaway: 
1. Be a public follower of this blog. 
2. Take a look around at , then come back here and leave a comment about what your favorite pieces are.

(For one optional additional entry each - not mandatory)
3. "Friend" the Shop Mapel Facebook page and leave a separate comment here letting me know. 
4. Share this blog entry on your own Facebook page, and leave a separate comment here letting me know. 

The entry period for this giveaway will close on Wednesday, March 28th at midnight Pacific standard time, and a winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day.

This giveaway is open to all readers regardless of geographic location, but do note that there is a $20 charge to ship outside the US. Shipping within the US is free. :)

Additionally, Staci is generously offering a 20% off coupon code to all Mini Me Style readers which is good for merchandise storewide: just enter the code "mini20" at checkout.  This code will be valid through Wednesday, March 28th. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Snazzy suiting

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend and a fun St. Patty's day. The Mr. and I spent it with friends who made the most incredible corned beef, cabbage, cheesy potatoes, and soda bread that I've ever had.  Ever.  I ate myself into a coma and fell asleep mid-party watching "Leprechaun" before the clock ever struck 9:30 p.m.  Did I just admit in writing how lame I am? In hindsight, I'm pretty lucky that I didn't wake up covered in flour and eggs or Sharpie drawings, considering how freely the Guinness and Jameson flowed throughout the evening.

Today I decided to take a work wardrobe staple ... the black suit ...  and jazz it up a little bit with a sequin tank.  (Not that black suits ever actually form part of my *typical* work wardrobe.  Let's keep it real here).  This outfit was inspired by Sarah over at Simply Sarah, who is the queen of affordable dressing and is the nicest person.  You should definitely check out her blog.

Have a great week, and stop by again soon as I'll be announcing
my first giveaway tomorrow morning!

Blazer: The Limited Stretch Sateen Jacket
Shirt: Banana Republic (old - similar here)
Sequin tank: Express (old - very similar here, similar here in different colors)
Bottom: Banana Republic petite Martin fit
Shoes: Nine West (old - somewhat similar, on sale here)

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