The Champagne Life on a DIY Budget Since 2007

  • saving on your wedding budget

    Planning a Budget-Friendly Wedding

    I'm just excited that my dear friend Lisa Rowan decided to include a few of my tips in her guide, "101 Creative Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding," this week over on The Penny…

  • life alive copycat goddess bowl recipe

    Meatless Monday: Copycat Life Alive Bowls

    Despite the fact that Austin is the capital of the world when it comes to delicious, healthy food, there's one thing I can't get here that I crave more than anything: Goddess…

  • friluftsliv free air life thrift store art DIY

    TGWIF: Thrift Store Art DIY + Friluftsliv

    A few weeks ago, my sister’s boyfriend — a fellow outdoor lover and former New Hampshirite — shared this article from Mother Nature Network about 7 cultural concepts…

  • real life vs the internets

    Real Life vs The Internets

    Lately, I've been thinking and talking a lot about real life versus the representation of it we all consume daily, hourly, on the internets, and about how much of an effect that…

  • distillery market snake necklace golden globes

    Copycat: Naomi Watts Snake Necklace

    Did you love Naomi Watts' diamond-encrusted Bulgari snake necklace from Sunday's Golden Globes? Then you won't want to miss this vintage "copycat" version from The Distillery…

  • instagram paywithpenny austin shoestring

    Goodbye Etsy & eBay, Hello Penny

    I teased you about reviving the much-loved Stoop Sales online, launching new vintage, handmade & thrifted items from the Shoestring archives for sale. Well, it'll be worth the…

  • melissa secondhand holiday style shoestring 2014

    Secondhand Holiday Style 2014

    With the sparkliest, Champagne-iest, danciest, glitteriest, hopefully most friend-filled night almost upon us, I wanted to share a little sneak peek of the look book that I put…

    TGWIF: Thrifting Austin with Goodwill Boston

    When I left Boston for Austin, my dear friend (and former partner in crafts at DIY Boston) Tara took over my social media partnership with Goodwill Boston, so of course we had to do the full tour of my favorite downtown Austin Goodwill stores while she was here in Texas. (And other secondhand and vintage shopping of all kinds!)

    DIY Lighting Upgrade Swap Out Builder Basics

    DIY Lighting: Swap Out Builder Basics for Under $100

    For my latest collaboration with Home Depot, I shared expert lighting tips I’ve picked up over the years working with renown interior stylists on how to swap out builder basic light fixtures (friends don’t let friends live with boob lights!) Before & after inspiration, easy tutorials for DIY lighting upgrades that can be done in a day, and options for light fixtures that are well under $100.

    pro tips SXSW shopping style 2015

    Pro Tips: SXSW Eating, Drinking + Style

    It’s official: the madness of SXSW has begun! To kick things off, Nordstrom included #ProTips from me and about a dozen other local bloggers/social media experts in their SXSW guide to eating, drinking + style today. Check it out, or in true Throwback Thursday fashion, give these posts from SXSWs past a read.

    goodwill irish fisherman sweater

    TGWIF: Sweaters, Somerville + UNH Skating

    Thank Goodwill It’s Friday! Last night, I made it home to the arctic tundra of Boston, and y’all: They ain’t lying. The struggle is real. Snow is EVERYWHERE. It’s well below freezing with the wind chill. Luckily, I found the most amazing and fortuitous ($4.99) score at the South Lamar Goodwill before leaving Austin: a pure lambswool vintage Irish fisherman’s sweater that is quite literally saving my life.

    ca$h in your life reality show casting

    Cash in Your Life: The Reality Show

    If being a reality TV star is YOUR dream, then you should apply to be on Ca$h in Your Life — a new show “seeking out couples and families for a chance to cash in their lives for a fresh start. Maybe your real calling is to open up a bed & breakfast, a boutique, or run a yacht charter. Whatever your dream may be, we are ready to pull out the stops, appraise your life, and offer you a check to cash in and start the life you have always wanted.”

    how to save dream vacation shoestring

    How to Save for a Dream Vacation

    One of our biggest New Year’s Resolutions is to finally budget time and money for travel, often, and finally take that beachy, romantic vacation of a honeymoon we never got, and SOON. I found this Honeymoon Fund jar at Austin Goodwill for a few bucks and immediately scooped it up, and every time I spot it on the windowsill in the kitchen, I throw in whatever cash I have on hand in my wallet (usually between $5 and $20), and have been re-reading the top tips for saving for a dream vacation I shared with SmarterTravel earlier last spring — trying my best to take my own advice.

    my secondhand style ethical fashion closet thredup

    Shop My Closet on ThredUP

    I hope that in 2015 I can inspire at least a few more people to be a bit more intentional and thoughtful about the way that we shop, and the snowball effect that each purchase can have in a positive way. To kick things off, I wanted to share with you a chance to actually shop my own closet. I recently sent 3 HUGE BAGS of gently-worn and new-with-tags items to thredUP, one of many favorite online consignment shops that are the next best thing to swapping with friends.

    new year's day brunch budget

    My Mama’s Fried Potatoes

    These potatoes were such a treat growing up, something that my mom made for us on special weekends and every New Year’s Day — a decadent little slice of down-home nostalgia that I hope you’ll try out for yourself. Together with my favorite egg & bacon cups, it’s a brunch that costs barely anything at all yet feels festive and fancy, my favorite combination!