Low-Budget Luau

•July 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Well friends, I am pleased to say that my much-awaited luau-themed surprised party was a big hit!  Here are some photos:

The focal point of the party; food table dressed in a grass skirt, plastic tablecloth, palm tree with uplight & festive pinapples both real & fake.

Plastic lei's and pina coladas were promised to each guest.

Tissue paper palm tree garlands were a cheap ($1) and whimsical addition to the decor; hand-cut flowers from construction paper taped to the walls were a simple but effective way to add character to every surface.

As the sun set, a small clamp light positioned behind the palm tree really gave the party some tropical atmosphere; the look was by far the hit of the night.

Homemade tri-colour cake saved some cash and garnered plenty of compliments from the guests-- even my mother-in-law!

The key to my whole look was patiently accumulating the right objects at the right prices… all together it took nearly a month of slowly gathering items from:

  • Dollarama – I hit three different locations to snap up multi-coloured disposable plates & napkins to make cleanup easier and add fun colour, tiki tourches for the balcony, the plastic table cloth, fantastic wooden/plastic parrots for decoration, tissue garlands & pop-ups perfectly in theme, paper umbrellas for the drinks, disposable cake tins, themed mini candles & extra lies
  • Party Packagers – that fantastic grass table skirt was only $10, even it it was a nightmare to get on the table; I grabbed most of the plastic leis for about 17 cents each and one more elaborate fabric lei for the birthday boy
  • WalMart – frozen Bacardi pina colada mix was on sale so I stocked up, and I bought cake mix & icing as well as the food dye for the cake layers, and some utterly fantastic gummy sharks that I couldn’t resist adding to the Hawaiian theme; ham was also on sale so I bought it and froze it until it was time to make the snacks… ham cubes on pineapple was the closest I could get to the traditional luau roast pig!
  • Bulk Barn – spicy plantain chips & gummy fruits are cheaper in bulk, even when you only buy a bit
  • Ikea – that magnificent palm tree was only $15!
  • Rainbow Sushi – delivered a 70 piece maki tray special ordered for less than $60
  • Fortino’s – fresh fruit bought the day of for maximum yummyness– time saver tip, buy the already cored pineapple, it saved me a lot of hassle and it was the same price as the whole pineapples

I also tried to make use of what I already had laying around the house– there was a lot of plastic cutlery leftover from a previous party, and I decided to use the set of Ikea glasses we already had for pina coladas, instead of plastic cups, to avoid a garbage buildup.  I also learned to accept help at this party, asking my friend to come help me decorate after Guy left the house (thank God she did, I never would have done it on time if I were alone) and my brother spent the first hour of the party manning the blender and whipping up pina coladas for everyone.  To make it a party without making it a burden on myself, I only offered one type of drink, in theme, and asked everyone to bring anything else they’d like to drink.  I also set my mind to offering limited food– I always go overboard, and still did– hence the large centerpiece on the table, makes the surface look fuller!  I still supplemented the spread with snackies like the candies and plantain chips, and I don’t think anyone was left wanting.  Several gifted friends also brought elaborate cookies baked from scratch, one kind soul provided homemade guacamole, and lots of people brought extra libations.

I was relaxed, my sweetie was impressed with my ability to throw a great party on a tiny budget, and everyone had a good time!  Tightwad Yuppie success at it’s finest!

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Stay Tuned

•July 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Cheap Yuppie Fans,

Stay tuned & stay patient for an update next week involving a luau-themed birthday party on the cheap.  I’ve picked up some fantastic decorations, most of them for next to nothing, and have my menu all planned out.  I’ll be sure to take lots of photos to show you where I splurged & where I saved saved saved!

Happy Heatwave!

Clothes Horse

•June 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Last night I thought I was going to be giving my notice at Laura, and as my sales have sucked recently and it is just part-time retail work, I gave it a 50% chance that I’d be told to leave on the spot.  That having been said, I arrived an hour early to try on a bunch of things that I’d been eyeing for several shifts– since I’ll be starting a real office job soon, I thought I’d take advantage of my employee discount and shore up my painfully dated and “business casual” at best wardrobe.  After about a dozen outfits I came to the following conclusions:

1) Holy crap my legs are short.  Capri pants from the regular section grazed my ankles; slacks from Petites are perfect.
2) Although still dumpier than I’d like, turns out I’m a few sizes smaller than I thought.
3) Yeah I still can’t pull off prints.

I ended up settling on a cool (as in hue, not fabric or style) grey skirt and a navy blouse thingie, neither of which I had initially been dying to try on.  However I did snatch up the gold-bead-and-pearl cluster necklace that’s been on clearance forever and which I’d been hiding so no one could buy it, and a pair of gold errings just because I have very few gold earrings.  I get a hefty discount (very close to half off) on regular priced items, and 10% on clearance items.  Total damage?  $109.

Just over $100 (with employee discount) from Laura.

Not too bad, right?  At least I got a tonne of compliments on the outfit, and several people asked where I got the necklace.  (Even employees of the store.)

So, after dropping over a hundred bucks on one outfit at Laura, I decided to take a trip to Orfus Rd and see what they had to offer, since I was in the area anyway.  I also wanted to take a look and see what their summer casual offerings were, since I’m getting embarrassed of always showing up in my cotton tank tops and fabric shorts.  Hawaii taught me denim is in style (I was the only girl not changing into her denim shorts after a shoot) and I’ve recently become aware that the cotton tanks I love so much (my upper body’s tan lines perfectly match my cotton tanks) are oh-so-woefully out of date.  Also they lose their colour easily and after a few months of washing, their shape is shot to shit.

…Oh Orfus Rd, with your racks upon racks of $2.50 tops, $5 hoodies, slacks and sweaters, and other glorious deals!  Here’s what about $120 bought me today from the Stitches, Suzy Shier and Bluenotes outlets:

Much more bang for my buck, wouldn’t you say?

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but there are 4 stacks of clothes lined up there.  I got 2 hoodies for me, 1 cropped sweater for the office, 2 fun summer tops, 2 work blouses, 3 dressy tank tops (not the cotton wife beaters!), 2 casual tees, 1 fancy blouse, 1 blazer, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of work pants, 1 summer dress, 1 fall top, and 1 big beefy zip-up hoodie for Guy from Bluenotes.   For about the same price as I paid for the skirt and top up there.  My best deals?  The blazer from Stitches, while totally lacking in structure, was $5.  Same for the hefty hoodie for Guy, which I bought mostly for the BBQ at the farm tomorrow.  Two of those tank tops and both the work blouses were $2.50 each; the most expensive items were the shorts, which were $10 each.

Moral of the story: if you live in Toronto, spend an afternoon at Orfus Rd when it’s time to freshen up your wardrobe.  Leave your car at home if you can (there is a severe lack of parking along this strip) or park at Yorkdale and make the short walk over to Orfus.  Before you go, though, make sure you know your pant/shirt/suit/belt/everything size!  A lot of these stores don’t have fitting rooms, and security will chase you away if you try to see how things fit.  (Even a hoodie; I’ve seen it happen.)  Then go home and gloat about your purchases!

Happy Shopping!

I’m A Little Teapot

•March 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Guy & I both come from households that are big on tea-drinking.  “Do you want a tea?” is the usual comment heard instead of “hello” or “how was your day?” or even “are you ready for bed now?”  In spite of this constant consumption of tea, though, we rarely brew more than one cup at a time, even though we drink several a day– I am a particularly bad offender of using the same weakening tea bag for brew after brew after brew.  I have several tea pots hidden in cupboards, ranging from an antique Royal Doulton taken from my grandmother’s place to an ultra-modern angular piece gifted to us by Guy’s mom not to long ago.

Not so for my BergHOFF glass teapot with a built-in infuser & tealight powered warmer! This attractive & functional baby is always proudly on display, beautifully matching the motif of my stainless steel accessorized kitchen with it’s crisp-yet-gentle stainless steel lid (edged in rubber to create an airtight seal with the glass teapot) and base (vented to help dissipate the extremely effective heat from the tealight placed at the base of the pot) and simple, playfully rounded glass teapot.

glass teapot

BergHOFF Glass Teapot, The Bay/Zellers

Now, the real reason I love this teapot is because thanks to the HBC Rewards Programme, this brand name beauty that retails for a whopping $90 on Amazon.com came my way ABSOLUTELY FREE. Tightwad tip of the day my little stylistas– if a rewards programme is free, you might as well sign up for it.  It’s always a delight to find treats like this nifty teapot, but getting them sent to your nearest store and then placed in your hands just for shopping for other awesome stuff is so, so sweet.  I love getting the VIP treatment by walking out of stores with free groceries, taking in a movie gratis, and getting swag in general.

And since I’m on the topic of good economic sense, I’m going to make this post a two-fer and mention the gorgeous solid marble lazy susan that the teapot is sitting on in the previous picture.  Here’s a better shot:

Marble Lazy Susan, Benix & Co., $8

Second tip of the day: learn to love the discount stores.  I know it’s easy to get caught up in brand names and haute couture home accessories, but who’s going to know?  Really?  I get tonnes of compliments on both these items– the teapot and the lazy susan– and the total cost for both was a grand total of….. eight bucks.  I feel like I should go back to Benix & Co. (where I picked this up) to buy up a bunch of their marble kitchenware and use it to create tiled solid marble countertops on the super cheap.   I don’t think there’s a mall around that is without a Benix & Co that always has ridiculous sales, but if you want a sure thing, hit up Orfus Rd (Dufferin & 401) where not only will you find a large Benix, but several other discount stores for home decor, kitchen products, and of course, clothes.

Happy hunting!

Laplander Love

•March 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Last October my loving and ever-giving Guy surprised me with the purchase of a pretty decent laptop, as we had been sharing his desktop computer for some time and that act was getting old.  While I was (and still am) thrilled with the gift, and use the hell out of this machine, there was one technical catch… where was I to work?  Guy’s desk, while an attractive glass-and-chrome piece of furniture, wasn’t big enough for the two of us, and he was looking to trade up from the high-school era Staple’s desk, anyway.  I had recently forced him to help me sever our L-shaped living/dining area to create an open concept office for him (and his tacky collectible action figures) but it wasn’t very big– maybe 6′ x 9′– and already housed a desk, large desk chair, two small bookcases, spare folding chairs, and that ratty ol’ cat tree.  There wasn’t a lot of room for creativity here.  The challenge was on: find an attractive, unimposing, and affordable desk for yours truly.

As the title of this post may half already let slip, we’re still in the process of looking for The Perfect Desk.  I’ve had a few leads, mostly from independent furniture boutiques on King St West, but my favorites are still several hundred dollars, without a desk chair or any cute accoutrements.  Meanwhile, for “serious” business, I’m relegated to the dining table (which is beginning to lead to scratches on the table.)  But for casual surfing on the sofa, dream-condo shopping before bed, or sitting on the balcony with a Guinness (like right now!) I’ve found this beautiful, durable, multifunctional lap desk:

Laplander Lap Desk, $48, Indigo

Lap Desk, $48

This Laplander Lap Desk was found at our local Indigo bookstore around Christmastime.  It’s a tad pricier than I would usually pay, nearly $50, but like the majority of people I know I had an Indigo/Chapters gift card kicking around my wallet post Christmas which helped me swallow the cost.  However, having now owned and used it for several months, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a really decent solution to overheating laps or computers, or anyone who’s short on floor space.  It has a pretty big surface, 23″ wide at the flare, which allows me to actually use the removable elastic straps to hold things (right now my iPhone’s tucked under one) while using the computer– very useful for when I want to make sure I remember to pay bills next time I’m online– simply tuck them under the computer desk straps!  There’s also an adjustable pillow attached to the wooden desktop via velcro, so you can shift around to suit the computer’s centre of gravity.  Maybe my favorite feature, though, is the nifty handle– makes it perfect for shoving the desk under the sofa when not in use and hauling back out again when you want it.  If I were to have one complaint about this desk, it’s that sometimes the vinyl surface of the lap pillow gets hot & sticky on bare skin (ie shorts) similar to sitting on a leather seat.  Overall though, a definite must-have for the chic apartment dweller; this desk is contemporary looking, very functional, and if you remember to ask Grandma for a small Indigo/Chapters gift card next birthday, way more budget friendly than a traditional table style desk!

Welcome

•March 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to the premiere post of Tightwad Toronto Yuppie!

For awhile now I’ve been thinking to myself, “I love that knitting and crafting is so trendy right now, but that’s just not my style.  I’d love to have some of the things I see on these haute design blogs, but I just don’t have the money!”  I also realized that, well, it’s probably not cool to show off all the nifty home decor/pet/wardrobe/food items I’ve sourced out by posting photos of them on Facebook.  Seems like bragging, kind of snotty, right?  The solution?  This blog, baby.

No apologies for my snobby tastes, no regrets because I usually find what I’m looking for (even if I don’t know I’m looking for it!) for a really good price.  And, I love sharing in my good fortune with like-minded others.  If you’re interested in style, culture & cheapness, visit back soon!

Even Kitties Need Stylish Homes

•March 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

About a year ago, Guy & I bought a two story “kitty condo” from Wal-Mart to celebrate Ophelia’s 4th birthday.  (What?  Yes, I celebrate the cat’s birthday, I’m a yuppie and my cats are my children!)  We did the best we could given that like all cat furniture, the “condos” were covered in carpet of varying colours.  We went with the lest offensive– a bordering-on-shag length tan affair.  It was a huge success.  Ophelia slept in it, played in it, and used it as a scratching post.

Unfortunately, it was also a huge source of carpet bits all over our apartment.  Given that we only paid about $25 for the thing I was never really mad about it, but now that certain parts have been stripped bare of wool, it’s just looking plain ratty.  I never really felt right having it in an otherwise well appointed dwelling.  Which is why I was so happy today to come across this little gem:

Bamboo Cat Condo

Bamboo Cat Condo, Wal-Mart, $15 CND

Purchased to celebrate that Leeloo (pictured in cat condo) has made a triumphant return to health after a vet telling us she was a gonner, this bamboo, sisal & ultrasuede cat condo is beloved by both the cats and their owners.  It comes packed flat in a box, and you assemble it simply by lining up the ultrasuede covered disks that make up the base, middle platform and top of the “condo” with the velcro strips on the inside of the bamboo mat.  Wrap it around and you’re done!  It took Guy some finagling to get the seams closed up tight, but nothing major.  Both the cats can jump around without the velcro giving way and damn if it doesn’t beat the hell out of the ragged carpeted atrocity of the old “condo.”

I’m an idiot and threw away the box for this item (neat freakism is a big part of my yuppiness I guess) but the important bits are that I picked it up at Wal-Mart for $15.  What’s not to love about that?

Bamboo Kitty Condo

Leeloo thinks you're nuts if you don't love this.