Saturday, March 31, 2012

Meet Michelle from Thrifty 101!

Hi Everyone! I'm Michelle from Thrifty 101 and I'm so excited to be guest blogging at Newcomb home today!

I'm the only girl in a household of boys! (help!) I have 3 pretty cool little boys and a pretty cool husband too. :) My family and I enjoy spending time together and I LOVE finding ways to save money elsewhere so we can travel and build memories together.

I started Thrifty 101 to share money saving ideas like; DIY projects, budget crafts, furniture makeover, vacation planning on a budget, and how to get the most out of coupons and internet deals. Basically, if you can save money doing it, I blog about it. :)

Every Thursday I host the DIY Thrifty Thursday Link party where amazing DIY-ers post everything from home remodels, makeovers, sewing projects, crafts and recipes.

A few of my most popular posts are:

Kitchen Table Makeover

My most recent project was my Bathroom Makeover:

Thank you Katie for letting me share a little of Thrifty 101 with Newcomb Home readers!
Come see how easy it is to live the Thrifty life!

Thanks for sharing your wonderful projects Michelle! Happy to have you! Everyone please stop by Thrifty 101 and tell Michelle hello!
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Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Review and Giveaway

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hi everyone! I was recently given the opportunity to review a new product from Miracle-Gro, Expand ‘n Gro™. I've used their other products before and have been happy so I'm anxious to try this out!

Portland's weather has been... tricky lately. Snow one day, warm and sunny the next. I haven't thought about any new plants yet, but I still have hope that I can continue to revive some plants that were seriously neglected when we moved in. 

Like those hydrangeas. I've never amended the clay soil they're in, I bet they'd do a lot better with a little Expand n Gro! I'm also using the Expand n Gro to perk up my strawberries, which look a little sad after the winter. I can't wait to see them thrive! 

EnG Product Shot.png

The product has lots of benefits, including:
- Up to 3X the Flowers and Vegetables!* *versus native soil
- Significantly improves soil for multiple years
- Concentrated planting mix expands up to 3X when water is added
- Feeds for up to 6 months
- All natural fibers hold up to 50% more water than basic potting soil

I'll have to let you know how the hydrangeas and strawberries look in a couple months, but between more sun and the Expand n Gro, I expect great things! Now if I can only remember to water them :)

Now here's the fun part. I have a sample bag of Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro™ to giveaway to one lucky reader! (Must have a U.S. shipping address.) Please leave a comment by April 15th telling us how you'd use the Expand n Gro to prep your garden for the Spring and Summer seasons! 

Visit Sponsor's Site
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Broken Ground = Tired Hands

Hi Friends! I hope you had a fantastic weekend. Portland is treating us to the most confusing weather… on Thursday we woke up with 2 inches of snow on the ground and on Saturday it was 65 and sunny. Whaa?

But I’ll take it! We got in some back-breaking labor this weekend.

After lots and lots of deliberation, a hard look at our finances, and realizing that we’re both stubborn as all get out (as my dad would say), I took a small step toward our new kitchen and a huge step toward keeping our marriage happy.

I gave in to Matt’s quite possibly ridiculous desire to remodel the kitchen ourselves. Well, mostly at least. I can’t wait to fill you in on all the details of how we made that decision (and what will make us change our mind and call a contractor, stat!). But, my hands are literally too tired to type :) Seriously.

So for now, I leave you with pictures of a giant hole in our backyard :)

Last summer it looked like this.


Then Matt removed the deck.

And we dug. And dug. And rototilled and dug some more.

It doesn’t look like a lot. But that’s a lot of dirt. We have to dig a 8’ x 18’ x 4’ hole. Too much dirt. And yes, I know the rental place up the street could rent us a little excavator to dig out the hole in no time. Please talk to my husband.

Now do you see why my hands are so tired? I’m off to rest and watch Renovation Realities and regret our decision…

What projects did you work on this weekend?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kitchen Pendant Lights (how to find a deal)

We’re still making some decisions about contractors for the kitchen. Matt has started digging a hole for the foundation but until we make the financial decision of who to go with (and how much to do ourselves), I’ve been looking online to get all of our design elements together. 

We’ve decided to go with a downdraft for the island cooktop, so I get to pick out some funky pendant lights for over the island. The rest of the room will be can lights, and we’ll hopefully have some under cabinet lighting, so the pendants over the island are where I can really go wild if I want.

Lighting is such a fun and important item in the kitchen. Of course, first and foremost is the function. Lighting can really make or break a kitchen. Lighting that’s too bright or doesn’t provide enough light (or light in the right places) can make it hard to work in the kitchen. Centsational Girl does a great job describing her approach to lighting function here and Better Homes and Gardens talks about how to best light your kitchen here.

Pendant lights are fairly easy to change out (as long as they’re cheap) so its ok to take some risks, I think! Its also a good place to balance out the room. If your room is more industrial with lots of metal and stone finishes, a pendant with softer materials (like a linen drum shade) would work well.

For me, I know we’re picking pretty neutral colors and design elements for the floor, counter, and backsplash, so I want something funky and fun for the lights. Maybe some color or fun metal accents.

Screen Captures
sources (clockwise from left): Shades of Light, Amazon.comRestoration Hardware,

Once I started searching, I noticed a huge discrepancy in price. And the products look pretty similar.

Check these out.

sources: Shades of Light; Destination Lighting

sources: Restoration Hardware; 

Here are my three tips for finding a good price for the type of pendant you’re looking for:

1. Shop around! Look in stores and on the internet, and in places you may not expect to have good lighting options. I found some fantastic ones on

2. When doing searches, use the same key words used in the descriptions of the super spendy ones. You may find a look-a-like for much cheaper!

3. Decide where you’ll compromise (and when to splurge). Figure out what is most important to you (shape, materials, size) and be willing to compromise (just a little!) on another part. It could save you 500 bones! That being said, sometimes, one just falls absoluely in love with decor and has to have it :)

4. (Bonus!) Check out these
ebay and craigslist tips from View Along the Way. One word: Craiggers.
Do you have a favorite store for lighting? Any tips I missed on finding deals?

Linked up to Live.Laugh.Rowe
*Amazon links are affiliate links.
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Newcomb Home Needs Guest Bloggers!

Hi friends! I hope your weeks are going better than mine :) My works days have been especially long and challenging this week... and sadly it looks like it will continue for a while.

I'm feeling a little whiny like this.


And I feel like offices (all of them! Not just mine) are a lot like this.

One thing I am looking forward to is getting out of the office and heading to training across the country! It will be great to see a new city (Madison) and I welcome the change of pace.

But, it will be busy and I need guest bloggers! Is anyone interested? I'm happy to share a tutorial, room reveal, or just highlight some of your favorite projects.

Please contact me for details, I'd love to show off your blog! The posts will go live the week of April 2nd. And I'm happy to swap posts with you if you'd like. Just email me at newcombhomeblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Happy Wednesday! Is it too early for a glass of wine? :) Pin It

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blog Highlight: Northwest Edible Life

Seems like every time I look at facebook or twitter, I find a new and amazing blog that I can’t stop reading. (No wonder the dishes are never clean!)

Anyway, I’ve decided I’m going to start highlighting these blogs so you all can enjoy them too! I’ll highlight about one blog a month. I’m not going to keep a strict schedule. Despite my loud declaration of 2012 Goals, I’m not very good at keeping a blog schedule.

Anyway. Let’s get down to it. The first blog I want to highlight in NHBH (Newcomb Home Blog Highlight. Of course I made an acronym. I’m a government employee after all!) is Northwest Edible Life.


Erica’s blog instantly won me over because of three things:
1. The first post I read called Escaping the Cult of Busy
2. The second post was titled after a Spice Girls Song
3. She’s in the Northwest!

Okay, the first one. Escaping the Cult of Busy. Go read it. Now. SUCH a good post! Its true for all of us, we need to think of our lives as full, not busy. And if they’re just busy? Well, go to Erica’s post to see what she says!

Erica’s blog focuses on her and her husband’s life on their 1/3 acre plot of land in Seattle where they grow their own food and share all of the great details and how-tos with their readers. Here’s the first line of her about page:

“I grow, I cook, I save and I try to stay slowish in a very fast world.”

(That’s Erica.)

Please go say Hi to Erica at NW Edible Life as she lives life “on garden time in the maritime northwest: growing, cooking, urban homesteading and living slow-ish.”


Stay tuned next month for another NHBH! (The acronym? I'm determined to make it work :)
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Eye Candy: Easter Decor Ideas

I haven’t really planned much by way of Easter, except dressing up my spring wreath.  Mostly because either my mom or aunt usually host Easter. Last year it was my mom’s (and dad’s) turn.

I’d like to share pics of their decor from last year. Their condo is decorated with serene, neutral colors, which are a great backdrop for both natural-looking and bright, fun Easter decor. I loved seeing hot pink and lime scattered in there for the holiday.

The photos speak for themselves. (In other words, I’m not going to babble anymore. Too tired from soccer.) Please remember these were taken with my parent’s camera when I first started blogging, and forgive my sometimes less-than-perfectly-crisp photos.


easter-decor easter-cookies




Sharing at the Spring Mantel Link Party at Fox Hollow Cottage.
PS. My creative cousin Hannah made those cookies. Aren’t they cute?!? You should see the cookies she made for our wedding reception. (Don’t worry, I’ll share them soon-ish.)  

PPS. That blue lamp is made from all recycled materials, such as pennies and old CDs and copper pipes. How cool is that?

Have you started decorating for Easter?
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blogging Trifecta: Update, Tip, and New Way to Connect



  1. A bet in which the person betting forecasts the first three finishers in a race in the correct order.
  2. A run of three wins or grand events.

Hi friends! In case you’re wondering, yes, I absolutely looked that up. I mean, I knew the general concept (three things) but I also knew the actual meaning nuances were escaping me :) Anyway, on to the trifecta. (As you can see, I’ll still continue to use the word incorrectly.)

First, Newcomb Home has a shiny new look!

A friend introduced me to her graphic designer friend, Martha. She designed my new header and button and is really great to work with! She made a header for my friend Rachel’s


brilliant blog too. Martha’s great at blog designs that look professional and clean without losing the blogger’s personal touches. If you are interested in a new blog design, email me and I’ll get you in touch with her.

Martha and I made some other little changes around here. If you’re reading this in your email or a reader, head over to check it out!

Next up, a blogging tip. A fun, easy, FREE way to get a background in whatever color you want.

Go to the Pattern Cooler website. It’ll look like this.

Click on where it says “The NEW Seamless Pattern Background Editor!” or scroll down to see big swatches of the designs. Once you find a design you like, you’re able to click on it and customize the colors for your blog. It’ll then let you save an image file to use as your background. Brilliant! That is how I got the nice hexagon pattern on my blog.

And last but not least, a New Feature! As I’m sure you know, Google Friend Connect will no long work on word press blogs starting… soon? last week? I’m not sure. But soon. Anyway, I know a lot of blog readers and writers are switching over to Linky Followers.

I’m still planning to keep GFC on the blog since Newcomb Home is on blogger. But now you have another option! Linky Followers. Click on the :: Follow Me :: below or in the side bar. I’d love to be your linky follower friend!

Just a reminder, there are many other ways to keep up with us crazy kids over at Newcomb Home. You can subscribe via email or RSS, be our Facebook Friend, or follow us on Twitter. I promise not to talk about my cats too much :)

And that’s it! The blogging trifecta.

Did you switch to Linky Followers? Did you try out Pattern Cooler? Do you want a new blog look by Martha? Let me know!

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Here Comes the Sun (and a New Spring Wreath)

Ahh, the sun! This weekend was delightful in Portland. On Sunday, it was so warm I opened my windows! And we Matt worked outside in the yard.

My BFF and I (you know,
the one who married us) came out of hibernation for a little spring craft. A post we saw on Restored Style reminded me of a project I featured last year, but never completed: a monogram wreath.


Last year I made a sunny lemon wreath for the front door. This year, we went with more of a natural, subtle look with the moss. Alyssa and I create two different versions. She went with the mossy A for her front door.

I made a mossy wreath and combined it with another craft blog trend, a bookpage-covered monogram.


Side note: Matt looked at the wreath when he came home and said, “When are you going to paint the N?”  I guess he doesn’t appreciate the bookpage look :)

You can find directions for the mossy monogram and wreath here. The bookpage monogram was pretty easy. I just took some pages out of an old French dictionary and used mod podge to stick them to a papier mache letter from JoAnns.

Side note #2: I got a smart phone! YAY! I am so excited to play scrabble (I think now in the 21st century they call it Words With Friends), keep up with twitter, and most of all, download coupons to places like JoAnns. And Home Depot. And Target! Oh no.

I love both versions. One things I’m excited about for my mossy wreath is that I can play it up for different spring holidays. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do, but I got some dollar store trinkets for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. I figure it’ll be pretty easy to temporarily stick things to the moss. 

I’m not exactly sure how I’ll incorporate the Easter eggs, but they’re so cute, I’ll figure it out. Plus, they were only a buck!

Also, because I never tire of talking about my cats, here’s a bonus pic of Diego ruining the photoshoot as the sun was going down. (I’m sorry, but its still amazing. He opens the door!)

Are you itching for spring yet? What is your favorite decor switcheroo for the new Spring season?


Sharing at Southern HospitalityHome Stories A to ZThrifty Decor Chick, House of Hepworths, The DIY Showoff, Homemaker on a Dime, and Sarahndipities. Also linked up to the Pinterest Challenge with 
KatieCassieErin, and Sherry). Pin It

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