A Brand New Bed on a $1,000 Budget

It all started with the mattress. When my husband and I were newlyweds seven years ago, we were just finishing up college and working part-time jobs. We bought the cheapest, most inexpensive mattress one could buy at the Art Van Clearance Center. As it turns out, it's not even a standard full size mattress - my feet hang off the end, and I'm only 5'6".

We finally had enough of that under-sized mattress, and the squeaky metal bed frame that went with it. We were on a budget, and I spent a few weeks researching what I wanted.

#1: a mattress with pocket coils and a pillow top. The pocket coils are supposed to prevent up and down movements being transferred from one side of the bed to the other.

#2: a bed frame with headboard that is actually attractive. Our previous bed frame was a simple, metal frame, and the headboard was attached separately. I think this contributed to the squeaking. I wanted a frame where the headboard was a part of the frame. I also wanted an upholstered headboard with a mid-century vibe to fit with our 1959 ranch house.

#3: everything, the bed including the bedding, couldn't be over $1,000.

#4: everything had to be new. I am all for buying second-hand; accepting hand-me-downs; thrifting, etc.; BUT! Not when it comes to beds. I have heard of way too many people having bed bugs, and it's a risk I'm not willing to take. So new furniture and mattress it is.

I decided on the Stacy Queen Platform Bed in gray*. Most upholstered beds in my price range were a faux leather material that I did not like, and this was one of the few that was upholstered fabric. Additionally, it was gray like I was hoping for, and even the legs of the bed look great with the mid-century feel that I'm going for.

It occurred to me that a platform bed would help me stay on budget, since I wouldn't have to buy a box spring to go with the mattress. The Stacy platform bed comes with 12 slats (vs. other beds that only came with 4 slats), which helps with stability.

This bed frame was $526. I got it for $263 on Amazon*, with $89 shipping.

The next step was the mattress. Many mattresses, even on Amazon, come in a set with a box spring. I did not need a box spring, so that narrowed the search. Only wanting pocket coils also narrowed the search. I picked the Classic Brands Gramercy 14 Inch Hybrid Cool Gel Memory Foam and Innerspring Mattress, Queen Size*. The coils are separated by their own little pockets; it is a 14" mattress topped with 6 layers of pillow top fibers, foam, and cool gel memory foam. It shipped free with Amazon Prime for $549.78. When we tried it out, I couldn't feel any movement from the other side of the bed. Amazing.

Finally, I needed a mattress pad; a comforter; and sheets. I chose the Utopia Bedding Fitted Mattress Cover ($17.99); the 1500 thread count, 4 piece bed sheet set in gray* for $25; and the  Cozy Beddings Reversible Down Alternative Comforter Set, Full/Queen, Green/Sage* for $56.99. I got free shipping on all of these items.

The throw pillow is a cover that I already owned. It's actually my own design, which you can find on Society6 for $20.

The grand total of everything, including shipping, was $1,001.76. I was $1.76 over budget, and I am totally okay with that. This bed is also kitty-approved:

*My Amazon affiliate link.

My Big Secret(s)

For a few days now, I have been teasing a big secret reveal happening this week. Some of it has leaked out already, so some of this won't be a huge surprise.

For over seven years now, I have been blogging at She Makes a Home. This site started when I was 22 years old. I was still working on my Bachelor of Science degree. I was a newlywed, living in a small, one bedroom apartment, and I was working part-time as an office assistant. I had also just started my online stationery shop on Etsy just a few months before that. The purpose of this blog was to document the journey of running an online store; to share what I was learning about owning a business; and to record my adventure as a young adult making her first home.

So much has changed in the last seven years. We've graduated from college; changed jobs; moved four times; had 2 children; and I'll be 30 later this year. While there are some down sides to getting older, I'm finding mostly positives. The most important change in my life has been clarity, especially when it comes to my desires and what I want to get out of life. That leads to big announcement #1:

I'm closing my Etsy shop

Well, almost. The shop will still be there, but I am phasing out my retail stationery lines. I've been making greeting cards for over seven years, and I feel that designing stationery has given me all of the fulfillment from it that I am likely to get.

Until recently, my stationery shop has added so much satisfaction to my life. When I started it so many years ago, I never dreamed that I would work with national retailers; become an Etsy featured artist; be featured in two printed books; an e-book; a magazine; and nationally-known websites like The Huffington Post and Babble.com. It has been an incredible ride and it is a little difficult to let go.

The Ashley Pahl shop on Etsy will remain open to house my original paintings for sale. Eventually, I hope to sell other products there with my original paintings on them, such as prints, pillows, etc. I've started adding my original paintings to the shop, and some of my favorite paper cut cards that are still in stock will remain listed for the time being. This leads me to announcement #2:

I'm painting again

While I made a business out of paper cut stationery, my true passion was always painting. I've been painting for as long as I can remember, but life gets in the way. Things like college; jobs; and children. I never believed I could make a career as an artist, so I never pursued it.

But, here I am painting again. I've actually touched on this a few times on this blog, but I haven't made a formal announcement that yes, this is what I am doing now. I am not limiting myself because I also dabble in charcoal portraits, watercolors, and photography. I think my style is still evolving as I further develop my skills, but I haven't felt this free and inspired in many, many years.

I have opened shops on Society6 and on Redbubble where prints of my work are available, as well as my work on home goods and accessories.

And finally, my last announcement:

I have a new blog

She Makes a Home will not cease to exist. Through the years, She Makes a Home has documented my life as I work, live, and play at home. Indie business tips. Recipes. DIY projects. Decorating my first owned-home. Being a work-at-home mom.

From now on, She Makes a Home will be much more home-oriented, and much less business-oriented. My home is still an on-going project and I have a lot planned for it yet. I look forward to sharing these little transformations with you. I'll still probably share a recipe with you from time-to-time.

My new blog is at Ashley Pahl: art, love, and geology in the Great Lakes. The Ashley Pahl blog (www.AshleyPahl.com) seeks to connect art with nature, geology, and the universe around us. Through my own travel photography; found object inspiration; interesting people and art tutorials, I want to provide readers with inspiration, motivation, and education in art, science, and a love for living life to the fullest. That's my mission statement.

Oh! One more thing

I'm on Instagram now. I feel like I am the last one to the party, but I'm a very visual person, and I'm really excited to be using it now. My handle is @THEAshleyPahl. Hope to see you there!

So that is what I've been building towards the last few weeks. Digitizing my art, creating new websites and social media accounts. It's been busy, but fulfilling and exciting - and that's all I really want out of life right now.

Three Things Thursday: Star Nurseries, Birch Trees, and Instagram

They're the top three things that I love this week. They may be sweet, they may be smart, or they may be just to eat... 

► When I was 13 or 14 years old, I saw the Eagle Nebula for the first time in a magazine. I was instantly hooked on anything to do with astronomy and physics. At that time, my knowledge of the universe didn't extend beyond the solar system, although I knew about comets and galaxies. After reading about the Eagle Nebula - a star nursery - I was introduced to the concepts of star life cycles; black holes; time; and the origin and evolution of our universe. It's the main reason I pursued science in college, despite my lifelong love for art. Now that NASA has released high resolution photos of the Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation", I am feeling more inspired than ever. According to Paul Scowen of Arizona State University, "we have caught these pillars at a very unique and short-lived moment in their evolution." You can read more about this nebula; it's structure; and its destruction on HubbleSite.org.

► It feels odd to jump from the cosmic wonders of our universe to home decor, but I love this birch tree shower curtain* designed by Vermont Greetings. My bathroom is very small, windowless, and painted teal, so I would love a light-colored shower curtain like this one, and its bold design. Vermont Greetings offers this design on other items, like clocks, duvets, art prints, iPhone skins, and more.

► Finally... I just joined Instagram, and I love it. I'm not big on social media, as there are some platforms that I just don't get - mostly Twitter. Maybe it's the introvert in me, but I'm not social enough to make Twitter happen for me. On the other hand, I really enjoy visual social media. Facebook is pretty fun for me, although they are changing the way pages work and I miss a LOT of what I want to see on there now. Pinterest is a lot of fun, but also overwhelming at times. I just started on Instagram last week, but I really enjoy it so far. If you want to follow me, I'm @TheAshleyPahl.

* Disclosure: I am a Society6 curator

Free Valentine's Day Printable: Thinking of Love cards

Update 2/11/15: This post was originally published on 1/31/11 when this site went by the name Indie Pretty Projects! I'm re-posting it now that my oldest is in kindergarten and I get to help her make Valentine's for her classmates. If you're in need of a free, printable option, these "Thinking of Love" Valentines are for you! They're great as-is, but they can be customized by writing anything you like in the blank conversation bubbles. Enjoy!

Martora is offering readers this incredibly cute, printable ACEO sheet. Use them as is; as mini-cards; cut and paste them onto card board as mini works of art; make book marks; punch holes in them and use them as gift tags; use them as special notes to your loved ones on Valentine's Day... the possibilities are endless!

To print: simply visit this link, click download, and print at full-size, in full-color!

About the printable:
Images are 2.5 by 3.5"
6 images on sheet
Sheet is 8.5 x 11”

And please, visit Martora's shop on Etsy! Thank you to Martora for your generosity!

More Valentines:
Printable Robot Love design
Simple Glittered Valentines

Self Promotion for Creators: Love It or Hate It?

Nebula 1: mixed media painting by Ashley Pahl

It's well documented that I'm an introvert, and I think that plays a part in how I feel about self-promotion.

I hate promoting myself. I've never worked in retail, but I have worked in grass roots organizations and canvassing. My worst summer was when I had to go door-to-door, collecting signatures and donations for a cause I really believed in; however, I was terrible at it. I don't like pushing people. I don't like putting something in someone's face that they didn't ask for. I prefer to be quiet and observe, not seek people out and make them notice me.

It is strange, then, that I would become a sole proprietor. Over the years it has gotten easier to share my work with strangers, especially online. But do you know what has not gotten easier? Sharing my work with people I do know. The closer someone is to me (besides my husband and children), the harder for me it is to show them my work.

Mineralogy 1: Green Calcite - mixed media painting by Ashley Pahl

To grow out of this issue of mine, I have been forcing myself to share my paintings on Facebook. I don't have a lot of Facebook friends - I like to keep it to people that I actually know, either past or present. That makes the audience even more intimate, and therefore, I get a knot in my stomach when posting a painting.

I do not expect any attention for it. I don't expect friends and family to enjoy, or have any opinion on my art. It's simply a way to push myself out of my comfort zone, and face a little bit of fear when it comes to my artwork.

So I am curious: how do you feel about self-promotion? Is it easier or harder with people that you actually know? What do you do to get over any possible negativity surrounding it?
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