5 TIPS before your next Furniture Purchase!

The House on High Street

If you’ve been to a furniture store lately, you’ll most likely agree that prices are outrageous! Don’t expect to spend any less than $1,500 for a good quality recliner; or at least $2,500 for an arm chair and ottoman. And, unless you want to sacrifice quality for an inexpensive piece, don’t anticipate being completely satisfied with retail costs.

I’ve recently been asked about my furniture shopping tactics. I learned from an early age to NEVER pay retail prices unless you absolutely need to (which of course, there are times for that). Here are five important tips to review before your next stop at that high-end furniture store.

1.) NEVER skimp on the seating! Think about it. Would you rather have a perfect console table or the perfect sofa to rest your tired feet upon at the end of a long hard day? Your guests will thank you for the extra added support and comfort while dining at your table. So, the tip here is to COMPENSATE! Spend less on everything but seating, and you’ll make out well in the long run.

2.) Always shop or compare on-line first. Whenever Scott and I are shopping in a store; before we buy something Scott looks it up on his phone to see if he can find it for a better price. GET INTO THIS HABBIT. (Just do a google search of the name and item #). You’d be surprised just how much Amazon has these days.  Also, www.houzz.com has an enormous inventory of products from mirrors to dining sets! It’s a great website for design and household product ideas. You can even search for something specific by setting the search fields for everything from size and price, to style and color! Then, after you find what you want (from any website that is) copy and paste the item description in the Google search field. Click on the “shopping” tab. It will show you dozens of dealers that sell that item. Here is where things get competitive, and you can select the best deal for you. Make sure you factor in the shipping incentives, as well.

3.) Make friends with the manager of your favorite (high-end) furniture store! Ask him/her to let you know whenever they are having great deals and/or when they are getting rid of floor samples. I have a few connections with the managers from some of the best furniture stores in our area. Scott and I will stop in once in a while and say something like, “When can we take this off your hands for you?” I’m usually the negotiator, and Scott will make the trip to pick up the item in the store (to save on shipping costs). It’s a win-win scenario. That’s how I got these beautiful skirted chairs from Thomasville for 50% less than the catalog price.

Donna Side Chair with Kick Pleat Skirt by Thomasville.
Donna Side Chair with Kick Pleat Skirt by Thomasville.
We purchased this beautiful mahogany end table and brass lamp from an Ethan Allen store that was moving locations. We saved about 75%.
We purchased this beautiful mahogany end table and brass lamp from an Ethan Allen store that was moving locations. We saved about 75%.
We picked up these dining chairs after they were floor samples at Thomasville Furniture. We ordered two arm chairs at regular price, but still saved a bundle.
We picked up these upholstered dining chairs with brass nail heads (after they were floor samples) at Thomasville Furniture. We ordered two arm chairs, from the same collection, at regular price, but still saved a bundle.

4.) Find out where your nearest auction is! Most people think that furniture auctions have just old and/or damaged things. NOT SO! Some of the merchandise is NEW. Some is in near perfect condition. You will pay 80% less than retail for pieces that you just can’t find at any furniture store. Not to mention, you will find the most unique pieces, that you just cannot find anywhere else!

We got this pair of French Louis XV marble-top side tables for about $400. They are worth at least three times this amount.
We got this pair of French Louis XV marble-top side tables for about $400. They are worth at least three times this amount.
French Louis XV Marble-top Side Table
French Louis XV Marble-top Side Table
A brand new Mahogany High Boy - $200 at an Auction.
A brand new Mahogany High Boy – $200 at an Auction.
We picked up this oak closet-pantry at an auction for thirty-five dollars! Nobody wanted it, but us!
We picked up this oak closet-pantry at an auction for thirty-five dollars. Nobody wanted it, but us!
We purchased this Mahogany Curio Cabinet at an auction for $500.
We purchased this Mahogany Curio Cabinet at an auction for $500.

5.) Make regular trips to garage or estate sales in a nearby, affluent neighborhood.  

We spotted this beautiful red leather chair in near-perfect condition for fifty bucks at a garage sale in a nice neighborhood.
We spotted this beautiful red leather chair in near-perfect condition for fifty bucks at a garage sale in a nice neighborhood.

Well, that should be enough to get you started. Of course there are a lot more tips, such as frequenting your nearby Home Goods from time to time, but I figure that’s one you already know. Besides, the odds in finding something of exceptional quality, for a great steal, at Home Goods are slim to none. (We haven’t found anything exceptional, in a while, now.)

In summary, sometimes the extra leg work combined with a little patience is the best strategy in finding the best furnishings for your home. Not to mention, it’s nice having a story behind your possessions, especially when you do a little more than visiting your nearby Raymour and Flanigan.

Happy Shopping! And, have fun!

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

b. good

Extraordinary Living

Attention LE Woman fans! LE Woman is hosting a Give Away for a $25 Gift Certificate to B. Good Restaurant in Marlton, NJ. The contest begins on Friday 4/10/2016 and ends at 12:00pm on Sunday, 4/19/2016. Good Luck!

Contestants need to do TWO Things for their first chance of entry. Like the status of this announcement (on the Facebook post on LE Woman’s page), AND write your own answer, in the comment section below (on the Facebook post on LE Woman’s page), to this question: What motivates you to be HEALTHY? (i.e. keeping healthy foods in my pantry at all times…) There’s more… For every LIKE that YOU get on your comment, earns you ANOTHER entry. That means, a contestant can earn an unlimited number of entries! Be creative, and try to share something that gets the attention of others. Good Luck!

Here are the official rules: Contestants must be 18 years or older to participate. Contestants acknowledge that this Give-Away is sponsored by LE Woman (and supported by the b.good restaurant in Marlton, NJ). It is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Each contestant’s name will be entered into a random drawing that will take place on Sunday, April 19, 2016, at 1:00pm. The winner will be announced via Facebook messaging or personal email within 24 hours of the drawing. The gift certificate will be mailed to the winner’s mailing address, once provided. The gift certificate is only good for b.good in Marlton, NJ. LE Woman takes no responsibility for lost or expired gift certificates. LE Woman takes no responsibility if the gift certificate is not used for reasons unforseen.

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You haven’t asked how I’ve been doing with my clean eating, lately? Oh, you’re waiting for me to give an update? Welllllll, ummmmmmm, what can I say? I’m doing the best I can. Every day is a new day, and that’s how I approach everything. So, that’s good right?

Of course, it’s always helpful when everything around me offers healthy alternatives. Speaking of healthy alternatives…

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b. good

Last weekend, Scott and I took my niece out with us for the day. Of course, we had to stop for lunch before we went shoppin’ cause I don’t shop on my husband’s empty stomach! 

Anyway, we tried this new joint that Scott recommended called b.good. It was an extraordinary experience. I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

20141019_134046
This is the Marlton, NJ location.

So, I just love the concept of this place. It’s similar to a Chipotle in that it is a cross between a fast food joint and a healthier focused menu kind of a restaurant.

The service is great, but unlike Panera and Chipotle, they bring the food to you. (We waited about 7 or 8 minutes for a burger, a salad, and a Kids’ grilled cheese. This was on the weekend, so I didn’t think it was that bad at all.)

There are only a hand-full of these restaurants along the eastern coast of the US. The concept began with two guys who were friends since grade school. It took them YEARS to open a successful establishment. They have a great story! You can read it here. 

Of course, I love any business that has grass-root beginnings. I love small businesses. I love how hard local business workers get the job done.

I love the idea of b. good. It’s good food. You feel good about eating it. Even better, you feel good after you eat it!

It’s stocked with local farm-fresh food (they work hand-in-hand with nearby farmers). It’s fresh and delicious. It’s healthy. (Not necessarily low-calorie, but definitely a healthier alternative to fried, mass-production, fast food.)

You may think that the burgers are small (to American standards that is) and the prices are high. That’s a relative matter. Scott and I don’t eat out often, so when we do, we appreciate a meal that is as good (if not better) than something we can prepare at home. As long as the portions work for us, and the overall experience is good, it is worth it.

B. good is clean, attractive, and comfortable…enough. (You’re not supposed to sit in this kind of establishment for hours.) The service is good. The staff is helpful and friendly. Last but not least, the food is definitely unique and full of flavor. That’s the beauty of having something prepared in this fashion.

I ordered the Spicy Avocado & Lime Kale and Quinoa Bowl. It was definitely something I would not prefer to make myself. It was extraordinary! It was a big serving size (I would say well over 16 oz.). Even though it had as many calories as Scott’s Goomba burger, I didn’t have to eat the whole bowl. (But, of course I did.)

Spicy Quinoa Bowl with Avocado and Lime. Yum!
Spicy Quinoa Bowl with Avocado and Lime. Yum!

My Kale and Quinoa Bowl had organic quinoa, kale, sautéed veggies, shiitake mushrooms, avocado, black beans, corn, grape tomato, queso fresco, lime, cilantro, chipotle puree, and a smooth red pepper vinaigrette. If you’ve never had Kale or Quinoa, this is the place to try it.

Oh, and the fries were HEAVENLY! They are baked (and so they are more soft over crispy) but the flavor! Oh, the flavor. Lots and LOTS of flavor.

I wish there were more of this kind of establishment around. One can hope, right?

I leave you with a few pictures…

20141019_132134
Scott didn’t want to be in the picture. So, that’s his Goomba burger with my niece, Sarah. Isn’t she beautiful? The burger, that is? ha ha
Goomba burger at b.good & Deliciously baked and flavored fries!
Goomba burger at b.good & delicious baked and flavored fries!
The drinks at b.good are flavored with cane sugar.
The drinks at b.good are flavored with cane sugar.
There's a poster in the restaurant that shares the story on how b.good began.
There’s a poster in the restaurant that shares the story on how b.good began.
Menu Board
Menu Board
b.good location & local farm board
b.good location & local farm board
Fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farm on hand...ready to go!
Fresh fruits and vegetables from a local farm on hand…ready to go!

Thanks to a nutritious and delicious lunch, we had plenty of energy to finish the day with some fun shopping!

Think this chair is big enough for The House on High Street?
Think this chair is big enough for The House on High Street?

Overall, eating at b. good is an extraordinary experience. We will definitely go back for more. Please let me know if you try this place or if you know of a place near you that has a similar concept.

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day...

Extraordinarily Yours, Extraordinary Living

Have you seen this movie, yet? It looks hilarious! Can you let me know if it’s worth a trip to the box office?

I don’t know about you, and I don’t know if it comes off any other way, but I have my share of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. We all have different burdens (a health issue, a sick relative, extreme stress, a failing marriage, a broken heart, a difficult job, etc.) For me, it seems like if it’s not one thing it’s another. Do you feel that way?

My health has a tendency to determine my day. Both my Endometriosis and PMDD symptoms can often take precedence over my plans. Some days, I can manage the symptoms and carry on normally, but at least half of each month the symptoms are debilitating. It can be impossible for me to function “normally”. I’m often resorting to a plan B.

Perhaps I mention it too much…or not enough? But, I just feel the need to balance my posts (which are typically exciting things such as the progress on The House on High Street) with the not-so-exciting things. Remember, I don’t EVER want to come off like, “Look at me! I have the perfect life! I’m the poster woman for living PERFECT!”  I think we have enough of this going around. 

I want to be someone you can relate to, on the good days and the terrible, horrible, no good very bad days. I want you to know that I am right there with you. Sometimes, it helps knowing that we’re in this together!

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Before I go further, I wanted to share that LE Woman will be making a few “adjustments” over the next few months. You may have noticed that I’ve combined the Living Half Healthy page with Rachel Maria’s Randoms. The page is now called Living EXTRAordinary. It’s a more general title, so everything kinda falls in there. I can write about the good experiences and the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad ones, too. Not to mention, living an extraordinary lifestyle in spite of our circumstances is the entire message of LE Woman. I’m pretty excited about the new page, and I hope it encourages you to choose an extraordinary lifestyle no matter what comes your way!

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Speaking of lifestyle; How is yours lately? Let’s do a quick inventory…

Do you have many more good days than terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days?
Are you as healthy and as fit as you would like?
Do you jump out of bed in the morning and/or stay up as late as possibly to prolong your day?
Do you have the kind of relationships that make you want to share your TRUE SELF?
Are you happy with your career, parenthood, livelihood?
Are you living out your dreams?
Is your marriage everything you had hoped? Or, are you hopeful in a GREAT marriage very soon?
Are you spending your time doing what you need and what you want?
Are you bouncing back from the mishaps in your life with hope and new fervor?
Are you growing closer to God over time?
Are you CERTAIN that you are living the life God planned for you?

Well? Did you answer more of these with a YES? Or, a NO?

If it’s any consolation, there are MANY days that I could answer NO to most of these questions. I am often tempted to feel discouraged, confused, and hopeless due to my far-from-perfect circumstances.

I know what you’re thinking. “But you’re a Christian, Rachel! Why would you have days when you feel hopeless and discouraged?” Why would you suffer at all if you have faith in a perfect God who loves us?”  

Please know this. Christians suffer. In fact, the Christians I know who are truly living out their faith (not just using the title for personal convenience)…are SUFFERING. OFTEN. And, yes it feels unfair.

I question God sometimes, “Why on earth are YOU allowing this to happen to ME!? I’m a proclaiming Christian; the kind that WANTS to share my faith with others! How on earth (literally) am I supposed to attract others to YOU if and when they look at my life and think ‘NO WAY! My life is so much better than hers. I have so much more to keep me happy where I am!’?

I actually reread my own post called “Christianity is not for Wimps!” the other day, and it helped redirect me to the scripture I quoted (Romans 3:5) which beautifully explains how our character is refined through suffering. (That’s the benefit in writing, sometimes. You can capture the encouragement and pull it out on a rainy day.)

I don’t just have a bad day here and there. Sometimes I have a series of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

I had an AWFUL week last week. So bad that I’m still recovering. Our bank loan was delayed another week. That makes it almost four months of delay on the house. Scott and I are barely holding on to our momentum. One of my doctor’s gave me bad news (nothing detrimental…just not positive, as I was hoping). My new therapist turned out to be just another so-called professional who knows NOTHING about PMDD. Scott was tired and super cranky. And, I just wanted to be on a beach somewhere sipping mimosas!

If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it here. I hate the symptoms of Endometriosis and PMDD so much that some days I want to literally crawl out of my skin!

The pain of endo is one thing; and even though it feels like someone is holding a lit match on your insides, it’s a walk in the park compared to PMDD. You see, the latter affects your brain so severely that you become paralyzed. You can’t move, think, decide, get up, get ready, get out, or do just about anything without an internal battle. (It’s different for every one-out-of-a hundred lucky woman that have this.) My symptoms are unique, and I like to remind myself how God promises us that He will never give us more than we can handle. Perhaps women with PMDD have amazing brains to begin with?? (sarcasm)

The other day started out terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad! Shortly after I woke up, had my coffee, and did my daily reading, I felt a very dark cloud come upon me. I felt PARALYZED. And on top of that, it’s as if there were voices in my head telling me that I was worthless, my situation was hopeless, and my future was pointless. Have you ever had these feelings?

I felt disappointed in my lifestyle. I didn’t feel healthy. I didn’t feel like exercising. I didn’t feel like making or taking phone calls. I didn’t want to leave the house (condo). I didn’t feel like cooking, cleaning, resuming a house project, or even writing a post. I think I felt more angry than depressed. I was ANGRY at my Endometriosis and PMDD. I wanted to beat the ever-living-$#@% (Rhymes with “FIT”) out of them, both. I just got to that point where I reached my limit.

That’s when I typically end up praying sarcastically. “Um, Gee God…do ya think I can handle anymore over here??” or “God, do you know how LONELY it is living with an illness that nobody seems to understand?” or, “God, if a day to me is a thousand years to you, does that mean if you answer my prayer tomorrow I won’t even get to see it come to fruition?!”  

Do you feel me here?

Fortunately, I managed to call Scott around lunch time, and even though I wasn’t anticipating his intuitiveness, he somehow got me to open up and share how I was feeling. I’ll admit, it is getting harder and harder for me to do this. Maybe it’s because I’ve lost trust so many times in the past.

Scott and I went for a long walk later that day. It felt good to be able to be myself and have a friend to talk to. He made me laugh, gave great advice, took me out for dinner (so I didn’t have to cook), and made me the best ice cream sundae at home, for dessert. (NO. I did not feel guilty!) I was grateful. I realized that God did hear my prayers. He made it possible for Scott to just be there with me. I felt like he and I were in it, together. That meant the world to me.

Before I went to bed, I thanked God for rescuing me from another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My situation didn’t change, and I’m pretty sure I’ll feel this way again soon. But, God came through. I remembered that God has a plan for me no matter what, and all these bad days may be the reason why I have such a desire to encourage others.

LE Woman wouldn’t be here if my life was perfect.

I don’t know if you’re having a good day or a bad one, but please remember that God is a very present help in our circumstances. If you’re suffering, you can CHOOSE to recognize the work that God is doing in you and in your life. Hang in there, today. Tomorrow may be the best and most important day of your life. God wants our faith on the good days and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

If you feel like you’re alone, please remember that I am right there with you. We’re in this together!

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours

 

The Sunroom Project - Part 1

The House on High Street

I’m afraid I’m not going to get the exact number of days right, but the Sunroom at The House on High Street has been built in just a few weeks. I’m sure the great weather and our very skilled carpenter team had a lot to do with it. Of course, the inside needs to be finished with insulation, tile, trim, paint, etc. But, for now, here are some pictures from the first part of The Sunroom Project.

First, came the demo (of the ugly, dark, depressing old kitchen room).

Then came the framing…

Next…Windows, Doors, Steps, and 2nd Floor Master Suite Porch & Walkout.

Here is what it looks like from the inside, both downstairs and upstairs, right now…

And here she is with siding, exterior trim, fiberglass roof, and railings. She’s really pretty, isn’t she? 

Sunroom Project

Sunroom Project

Now, let’s see how long it takes to get it all fixed up on the inside. (Deep breath.)

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours

Chicken Marsala Recipe - By Rachel Maria

Rachel Maria's Recipes

I made this last night. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was doing with 4 boneless chicken breasts. After realizing I had Marsala Wine and mushrooms on hand, I made a delicious Chicken Marsala dish. It’s quick and easy. Enjoy!

Recipe by: Rachel Maria

Ingredients

4 Boneless chicken breasts 
8oz. Package of porcini mushrooms (sliced)
1 Cup Flour
Salt & Pepper

4 T. Butter
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 cup Marsala wine (Or Marsala cooking wine)

1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 cup warm water with 1 T. Flour whisked in
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS

* Pound and/or Slice in half Chicken Breasts. (You want them about 1/4 ince thick.) Season both sides with salt and pepper.

* In a large skillet over a medium-high flame, melt 2 T. butter.

* Saute mushrooms until soft. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.

* Dredge chicken breasts with flour.

* Melt 2 T. butter in skillet (over medium-high flame) and add just enough olive oil just to coat the bottom.

* Fry the chicken breasts on each side for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan. (If you do this in batches, simply melt more butter and olive oil before cooking the next batch.)  Remove from pan and cover with foil.

* Lower the heat to Medium. Return the cooked mushrooms to the pan. Add the marsala wine. Stir for a few seconds.

* Add the chicken stock and parsley. Let this simmer for a minute or two. (The liquid will get a little get a little thicker.)

* Meanwhile, in a cup or small bowl, whisk 1/4 Cup warm water with 2 T. flour until you get a thickened liquid.  Add this to the pan and stir.

* Pour over cooked chicken. Garnish with more parsley.

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours