August 29, 2014

Easy Frugal Fall Wreath

I have a cute idea for an easy to make fall wreath today from Katie Femia who is going to be doing some guest posting for me while I pack up my house. She came up with this clever idea to use a burlap charger ($2) as the basis for a fall wreath!

Super easy to make frugal fall wreath!

Invite the warmth of fall into your home when you craft this festive and frugal fall wreath. Made from just a few dollar store materials, this pretty wreath is a fresh spin on the traditional idea of a wreath. Here’s how to make it.

Materials:

1 burlap covered charger ($2 at local craft store)
Assorted fall foliage and flowers (dollar store)
Mini pumpkins (dollar store)
Fall ribbon of your choice. You will need wide ribbon for hanging and thin ribbon for an accent. (dollar store)
Hot glue, glue gun
Scissors

materials for frugal fall wreath

Directions:
1. Begin by cutting your fall foliage and flowers up into individual stems. This will make them easier to work with. If any of the flowers are large (such as the orange sunflowers we used) you can remove the bloom at the head.
2. Before you apply your flowers, lay out a design. Once your happy with how it looks, apply some hot glue generously to the back of your flower heads. Press them to the charger and hold them in place until secure.
3. Add some embellishment around the flower heads. I used smaller fall mums as well as some mini pumpkins. Apply a generous amount of glue to these items and press them in place creating a cluster. As you can see I created two dominate clusters, but you can arrange as you wish.
4. Finish the front by adding a few small bows, created from your thin ribbon if you like.
5. Cut a length of the thick ribbon to use for hanging. Apply some hot glue to the ends and press it to the back of the charger until secure.

Once your glue is dry, your frugal fall wreath is ready for hanging!

dollar store fall wreath

This  easy fall wreath is perfect for hanging on  a door, mirror or over a buffet. Anywhere you need a touch of fall in your home.  It is sure to make your space look great without spending tons of money!

Katie Femia took a leap of faith several years ago and left her career as an elementary school teacher to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. She now enjoys the day-to-day musings of writing for a variety of websites as a regular contributor. She covers topics such as frugal living, craft projects, DIY projects, money saving strategies, and everything in between!

We Are Under Contract!!

Hi everyone! We got two offers! One we rejected and one we accepted. We accepted an offer from a nice young couple who wrote me the loveliest letter. I think my garden will be in good hands!
zinnias behind a garden gate

The inspection is Monday and I don’t anticipate any problems since we’ve replaced practically everything in the house. But you never know…. It’s never a done deal until you exchange keys

Anyway, closing is in 45 days. We have  to find a new place and pack up this one in that time period!! We’ve been looking but haven’t found anything that will work for us.

So I will be a bit busy in the coming months (as long as everything goes according to plan – knock on wood, say a prayer, send good vibes etc) :)

I will not have any decorating posts coming up as I’ll be packing things up,  which is too bad because fall is my favorite time to decorate. But I’ll be featuring other bloggers fall decor. I’ll also have more recipes (gotta eat no matter what), organizing posts and frugal living/money saving posts. I’m going to have a few people guest post for me as well.

I probably won’t do any decorating until we move to our new place – so I just wanted to give those that enjoy those types of posts a heads up.

I’m sad and excited all at the same time!

Thanks to all my subscribers and all you regulars  that stop by for being so patient with me and I ask that you just hang in there for a while longer. Things will go back to normal after we move and won’t it be fun to have a whole new place to organize and decorate!

 

Getting Out of Debt By Using The Snowball Method

One of the reasons we are so looking forward to moving is that we plan on renting a much smaller less expensive house so that we can throw more money at some debt we accumulated over the past four years  (mostly a loan for private college tuition and a credit card we used to pay for more tuition). Are you  also trying to pay down debt but you’re not getting anywhere? Consider using the debt snowball system to get rid of your debt for good.  That’s what we’ve been doing and its working!

How to use the Debt Snowball Method to get out of debt!

The first time I heard of the Debt Snowball Method was after reading Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  It’s Baby Step 2 (Baby Step 1 is saving $1000 for your emergency fund).  Basically the strategy is that you pay down your smallest debt first while paying the minimum due on your other debt. Then when that debt is gone you roll that payment into the next debt on your list. This way you stay motivated as you see balances go down and debts get paid off!

Some people prefer to start with the highest interest rate debt instead (which some call the Snow Avalanche Method) and I think it just depends on what you find motivating. Some people are more into actual number crunching and some people are more into getting a psychological boost from seeing debts go away. A lot of getting out of debt is often behavior related.

Here’s a quick run down to get you started and at the end is a list of debt snowball calculators.

Dave Ramsey Daily tip - debt snowball method

How the debt snowball method works

#1. Make a List of Your Debts
In order to start paying down your debt via the snowball system, you need to list your debt from smallest to largest. Keep in mind that you’re not worried about any amount of interest at this point. You’ll want to focus on the actual amounts of the debt. I have a sheet in my Budget Binder that I use for this. Here’s my post on how to make a budget binder

#2. Put All Extra Money Towards One Debt
Instead of trying to spin your head and pay off all of your debt at once, you’ll want to put all of your extra money towards one debt. For example: let’s say you have $20 at the end of each week’s pay period or you get a bonus or you sell some stuff. You will want to put that money to good use by adding it to a particular debt. Preferably the smallest debt you have at the moment. The victory in paying off debt this way is you get excited to see one debt gone, one after another, even if they are small debts.

#3. All Money Goes Somewhere
You can’t have a snowball system if you are not telling your money where to go. This is where the zero-based cash budget comes in. Sit down each week/month and plan out where each $1 is going to go.

Paying down debt isn’t easy, but it’s something that needs to be done.  If you feel defeated in the debt paying process, try to celebrate the small victories in this process to keep you motivated.

Do you have plan for paying down debt or are you debt free?

Debt Snowball Calculators

Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball Calculator (free trial)

Crown Ministries Debt Snowball Calculator

What’s the Cost

Google Drive Debt Snowball Template

Debt Reduction Snowball Calculator

Debt Free Snowball App

You might also like:  10 Printables That Can Help You Save Money

10 printables that will save you money

Creamy Chicken Potato Chowder-Great Frugal Fall Meal!

Fall is coming and this creamy chicken potato chowder is the perfect fall meal! It’s easy to make (uses a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store), can feed a crowd, and is wonderfully hardy.

Yummy frugal fall meal - chicken and potato chowder

This is also great for a rainy day!

Take a look below at how to whip up a comforting pot of this chowder yourself. I’m sure your family will love it!

Chicken Potato Chowder

Ingredients needed:
2 lbs. of white potatoes, cleaned and cut into cubes
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 qt chicken stock
¾ cup half and half
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (I like sharp)
1 pound of bacon, cooked crisp
½ cup of chives, chopped fine
2 cans of golden sweet corn
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (or use leftover chicken or turkey even)
1 cup of 2% milk
Salt and pepper to taste

ingredients for chicken potato chowder

Directions:
1. In a large soup pot, add your chicken stock, half and half, and milk. Keep on a low heat.
2. You can now add the potato cubes, and allow them to simmer until softened. A one inch or less cube is the ideal size, as they will cook quickly.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, cook your bacon in another pan, reserving the grease as you do. Set the bacon aside to drain further.
4. Mix the grease and the flour into a gravy before adding it to the soup mixture. This is the trick to some really excellent flavor!
5. Add the corn, shredded rotisserie chicken, and bacon to the soup pot. Continue to heat on a medium heat so the potatoes continue to cook and the ingredients continue to mingle. Continue stirring so the ingredients to do not stick to the bottom of your pot.
6. Add in the two cups of cheese, chopped chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Give the chicken corn chowder a good stir so the ingredients are well mixed.

You can serve your chicken potato chowder with a topping of additional shredded cheese, chives, and even bacon crumbles. This chowder is even better served the second day, when it has had the chance to sit and the flavors have mixed well!

Serve with garlic bread or rolls and a salad.

Give this cheesy chicken potato chowder a try for your next meal and see what a tasty hit it is!

Linking to: Thrifty Thursday

warm, comforting homemade chicken potato soup

 

Homemade Chicken Potato Chowder-Great Frugal Fall Meal!
 
Creamy chicken potato chowder
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. of white potatoes, cleaned and cut into cubes
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • ¾ cup half and half
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound of bacon, cooked crisp
  • ½ cup of chives, chopped fine
  • 2 cans of golden sweet corn
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, pre cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup of 2% milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Directions:
  2. In a large soup pot, add your chicken stock, half and half, and milk. Keep on a low heat.
  3. You can now add the potato cubes, and allow them to simmer until softened. A one inch or less cube is the ideal size, as they will cook quickly.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, cook your bacon in another pan, reserving the grease as you do. Set the bacon aside to drain further.
  5. Mix the grease and the flour into a gravy before adding it to the soup mixture. This is the trick to some really excellent flavor!
  6. Add the corn, shredded rotisserie chicken, and bacon to the soup pot. Continue to heat on a medium heat so the potatoes continue to cook and the ingredients continue to mingle. Continue stirring so the ingredients to do not stick to the bottom of your pot.
  7. Add in the two cups of cheese, chopped chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Give the chicken corn chowder a good stir so the ingredients are well mixed.
  8. You can serve your chicken corn chowder with a topping of additional shredded cheese, chives, and even bacon crumbles. This chowder is even better served the second day, when it has had the chance to sit and the flavors have mixed well.

My Virtual Home Tour

Thought you all might enjoy seeing the virtual home tour our realtor has posted. Some of the changes I made I haven’t blogged about yet. :) You can go to the gallery if you prefer to not watch the slideshow and you can choose the size of your photos.

Virtual home tour

The photographer was really nice and said she could spend all day photographing the yard! She actually wasn’t supposed to photograph the TV Room (I hadn’t even cleaned it or gotten the dog hair off the couch)!

Manuela’s Virtual Home Tour 

Sharing Some Recent Thrifty Finds!

I haven’t done a thrifty finds post in a long time! I’ve been mostly taking things to Goodwill and trying not to go in!  But sometimes the drop off line is long so I let my husband wait while I pop in.

zinnias in a milkglass vase from the thrift store

So this is what I’ve found in the past month or so – not everything though. We’ve found some really great cooking gadgety things that I’ll post about when we try them out!

thrift store milkglass vase

I found a pretty milkglass vase (filled with flowers and apple tree suckers from my garden). I  need more milkglass like I need a hole in my head but most of the vases that I have are the bud vases (which I think I’m going to go through and donate half of them).

organizing bins from the thriftstore

I have found some amazing items to use in organizing! I never thought about getting bins and such at the thriftstore. I’ve always been more interested in furniture and decorative items. But I have scored some really amazing organizing containers lately. Some of which I’ve already put to use. The spice rack pictured had two in the package and I used one on the inside of my kitchen sink door here.

thriftstore wall art

This print is a bit scuffed on the sides but doesn’t look bad. It’s originally from  Big Lots.  My thriftstore gets lots of TJX, Ikea, Target and Big Lots stuff! I probably won’t hang it until we move.

candlesticks found at Goodwill

Lastly, I LOVE these candlesticks I found at Goodwill. They’re not brass – they’re very light weight.  I think they’ll look great painted!

So those are some of my recent thriftstore finds. Definitely check out your local thriftstore for things you can use in organizing your home!

10 Printables To Save You Money

Did you know that simply being organized can be your ticket to saving money in the long run? One of the best ways to staying organized when it comes to saving money is to utilize the free printables that can be found online.

Here are 10 printables that will keep you organized and help you save money!

Being organized with paying your bills, knowing what you need and don’t need at the grocery, planning your meals and being able to find and use your coupons among other things will save you money! Really! Rather than search them out yourself, I found 10 great printables that will help you with this goal and put them all in one post. Consider this your “one stop shop” for free printables to help you save lots of money!

10 Printables to Save You Money

1. Printable Monthly Budget Chart from Raining Hot Coupons

2. Printable Planner for Sales Cycles from Faith Filled Foods for Moms

3. The “Ultimate Grocery List” from The Frugal Free Gal

4. Weekly Meal Planner from Passion for Savings

5. Expense Tracker from Creative Savings blog

6. Coupon Binder Pages from Moms by Heart

7. Printable List of Places Kids Eat Free from A Mitten Full of Savings

8. Stock Up Price List from Couponing To Be Debt Free

9. Annual Bill Organizer from Teach Me 2 Save

10.  Free Printables to use in making a budget binder from A Cultivated Nest

How does being organized save you money?

Linking to: Thrifty Thursday

 

You might also like my post on:

How to create a coupon organizer for the not-so-extreme couponer.

how to organize coupons for the NON-extreme couponer

Dining Room China Cabinet Makeover

I tweaked a lot of rooms in my home for an agent’s open house so I thought I’d share what I did with my dining room china cabinet.

Dining room hutch makeover - soup tureen collection on top of hutch

I have a collection of soup tureens which I keep on the top of my kitchen cabinets. I took a few and placed them on top of this china cabinet. The little soup tureens used to be in my little black china cabient in the dining room (which I sold). So they’ve found a new home for the time being.

Colorful gingham straws in a blue canning jar {china hutch makeover}

Aren’t these colorful gingham paper straws fun!

Mainstays home rooster cups {china cabinet makeover}

The dishes are an old Mainstays  Home pattern which I found at a thrift store many years ago.

aqua vintage look drinking glasses

These vintage looking  aqua glasses and pitcher came from Hobby Lobby (sort of looks like depression glass). I got them on clearance back in April I think. Each glass was originally $7.99 (which I think is a crazy price). I got them for 80% off, the pitcher too. They are food safe so we’ve used them a few times this summer. I really would have liked 6 glasses but they only had 4 blue ones left (the others were clear).

vintage cow print

This vintage cow print used to be in my kitchen.

Colorful cottage style china cabinet

This china cabinet was a present from my husband and it’s one of my favorite pieces!

Dining room hutch makeover - soup tureen collection on top of hutch

Homemade Reese’s Pieces Brownies

Here’s a yummy recipe that uses Reese’s Pieces and butterscotch chips to give a fun fall look to homemade brownies (with frosting). Enjoy!

Contributed by Jill Schultz

Delicious homemade brownies with Reese's Pieces and Butterscotch chips for a fun fall dessert!

Homemade Reese’s Pieces Brownies

Ingredients

¾ C. flour
2 C. semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbs cocoa powder
4 tbs. butter
3 eggs
1 ½ C. sugar
½ C. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Salt
1 C. Reese’s Pieces + more to sprinkle on top of the frosting
½ C. Butterscotch chips to sprinkle on top of the frosting

8×8 or 9×9 baking pan

Frosting ingredients -

¼ C. butter or margarine, softened
1/3 C. cocoa
2 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
3 tbs milk

Directions -

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish with foil and spray with a non-stick spray.

#1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

#2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in 15-20 second increments, stirring until completely melted. Let cool 2-3 minutes.

#3. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add in the melted chocolate mixture and then slowly add in the flour and cocoa mixture and mix well.

#4. Pour batter into your baking pan and evenly spread with a spatula. Sprinkle the 1 cup of Reese’s Pieces into the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Insert a toothpick around 25-26 minutes to check them. If the toothpick comes out ‘clean’ they are done.

Let the brownies cool completely.

Frosting directions -

#1. Combine the cocoa powder, butter, sugar and vanilla. Slowly add in the milk 1 tbs. at a time. You may want to add in more milk depending on how thick you like your frosting. Using a hand mixture, beat on high for 2-3 minutes.

#2. Once the brownies have cooled completely, lift the foil out of the pan (love the super easy clean-up!) Evenly spread the chocolate frosting over the top of the brownies.

#3. Sprinkle the extra Reese’s Pieces and the butterscotch chips on top of the frosting and cut into **12 squares.

*Makes 12 servings is cut into 12 squares – 1 square = 1 serving. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Delicious from scratch brownies decorated with Reese's Pieces for a fun fall look

11 Laundry Room Organization Ideas

I don’t have a  laundry room per se. My “laundry room” is in my garage. It’s more of a laundry area :)  We recently spruced up that area and I was looking at some cute laundry rooms for inspiration and thought I’d share a few laundry room organization ideas with you.

Check out these 11 amazing laundry room organizing ideas!

I’m sure a few of these ideas will make an appearance when I do my laundry room reveal! Here are some great ideas for organizing your laundry area!

Stain kit for your laundry room from BHG

Love the idea of keeping all the stain treating products in one easy to find place. via Better Homes & Gardens

Laundry Room Organization - wall organizer via Small Notebook

Towel racks are inexpensive and look how great they work for organizing a laundry area! via Small Notebook

Back of the door laundry organization from My Sweet Savannah

Using the back of the door is always a smart idea especially in a small space (which laundry rooms usually are) via My Sweet Savannah

laundry closet organization

If you have more of a laundry closet you could add some small shelves on a side wall like these from Waffling

corral laundry items on a lazy susan via BHG

Corraling laundry items on a lazy susan is a brilliant idea. via Better Homes & Gardens

built in DIY drying rack from Me and My DIY

Wouldn’t it be great to have built in pull-out racks to dry your sweaters on!  Me and My DIY has a great tutorial on how to build these.

leave notes on a washer with a dry erase marker via The Paper Mama

LOVE this idea to keep a dry erase marker on your washer to leave special laundry instructions via The Paper Mama

Laundry room organization - pocket finds jar via BHG

Having a separate jar or bin for “pocket finds” is a great idea via Better Homes & Gardens

Laundry Room Organization - hooks on wall via Smart Girl Style

Mount some hooks on a laundry room wall to use for drying items like these from Smart Girl Style

Laundry containers with DIY labels from Simply Designing

Here a pretty way to contain your detergent. You can use jars for powdered detergent and drink dispensers for liquid detergent like these from Simply Designing

organizing a laundry room with baskets via Simplicity In The South

Of course you always need bins and baskets! Love the chalkboard tags on these from Simplicity In The South

Check out my Pinterest Laundry Room Board for more ideas!

My Entryway Makeover

Our house will be on the market next week (I’m exhuasted!) so I can start to show you some of the changes we made and I’ll begin with my small foyer.

Enryway mirror with galvanized tin "Welcome" banner - Entryway makeover

Below is a before photo of my entryway. I tried to make the best of a small space to give it some personality.  Among the many things I sold is my red hall tree (which originally came from Goodwill).

Cute entry way with gallery wall and red hall tree

We packed away all the vintage dog prints and the dog plates except one. We took everything off the walls (opposite the halltree I had a set of three Katie Daisy prints). We had to paint the whole foyer because I had so many nail holes that needed patching!

Entryway makeover - white cabinet from Target

We bought a little cabinet from Target because it fits the space well but I gotta tell you….we’ve had this cabinet for several weeks now and it’s still off gassing. I’m very sensitive to those types of things so I’m glad it’s not in a room I spend a lot of time in!

Spode Woodland Hunting Dogs plate - Golden Retriever

This is one of the Spode Hunting Dog plates we had hanging on the wall around the door. I chose the Golden Retriever one in memory of our Golden Maxie.

mercury glass candlestick and topiary vignette

A topiary that I used to have in my bathroom , mercury glass candlestick (I have a bunch of those) and some candles.

large silver lantern in the entryway

I don’t have an outlet in the foyer so I couldn’t put a lamp on the cabinet, but I found this huge shiny lantern on clearance from TJMaxx! Love it!!

Entryway cabinet decor

I don’t really have anything to put inside the cabinet so I just used the two toile boxes that store my candles in it for the time being. The mirror we had in another room ( TJMaxx or Garden Ridge) and I don’t remember where I got the galvanized tin banner (it was in my stash of banners and worked perfectly here)! You can write on it with chalk!

Of course, the whole thing looks terribly empty and neutral to me but apparently that’s what it’s supposed to look like when you’re selling! I’m sure most people will like the after, I like the before!   :)

More to come….

 

The Perfect Hydrangea – My Fast Growing “Limelight”

Limelight is one of the easiest and fastest growing hydrangeas around! This hydrangea is a truly stunning flowering shrub!  It’s the only one that I have that made it through our unusually cold Georgia winter without any damage. All my other hydrangeas are just leaves with a few blooms (except my Endless Summer ). Here’s why I think this is a must have hydrangea in your garden (zone 3-8).

The perfect hydrangea - growing Limelight Hyrandreas

Hydrangea paniculata  ‘Limelight’  blooms from May into fall and has soft lime green petals. The petal mature into pink in the fall. You can just see a tiny bit of pink on the one above.

Growing Limelight hydrangeas - My Limelight planted with pink zinnias and pink crepe myrtles

Limelights bloom on new wood in the summer which is why this one is doing so well despite our cold winter. You should prune them late in the fall, winter or early in the spring. Although, I never got around to pruning this one and it didn’t seem to mind.

Awesome Limelight Hydrangea!

It is noted for producing large, dense, upright, cone-shaped panicles and is  hardy to Zone 3/4. They can grow to be  8-10 feet tall and can also be trained into a tree shape!

young Limelight Hydrangea blooms

Above is what they look like when they first start to bloom. As they get older and fill out the blooms get ginormous!

Limelight hydrangea planted in 2012

I planted this shrub in the spring of 2012 as you can see in the photo above. That’s it in the pot. The shrub with the white flowers is a rhododendron that died. Just as well-there wouldn’t have been room for both the hydrangea and rhody!

Limelight hydrangeas are easy to grow and grow fast!

That the same little shrub this summer. Limelight is fast growing! This one does get a lot of early morning sun but is shaded by the barn in afternoon.

Limelight hydrangeas growing against a red barn

Limelight is truly a spectacular hydrangea. I highly recommend it especially if you’ve had problems growing other varieties of hydrangea!

Why you should grow Limelight Hydrangeas. They're really the perfect flowering shrub!

Cute Things You Can Make From Placemats

Not only are placemats inexpensive but often they are made from beautiful materials. They are really a great resource for any budget decorator and you’ll be amazed at all the ways you can repurpose placemats!

Placemats are a great resource for the budget decorator. You'll be amazed at the cute things you can make with placemats!

Here are a few things you can do with placemats.

pillow from a placemat

This is such an easy way to make a decorative throw pillow and a great way to use those single placemats that you can always find on clearance See the tutorial at Something Like That Designs

placemat wall art from BHG

Here’s a great idea for some wall art from Better Homes & Gardens

Dollar store placemat made into an outdoor flag by Pretty Handy Girl

You can even make seasonal outdoor flags using placemats like this one from Pretty Handy Girl (she has winter and Valentines Day flags as well)

backsplash made from placemats

I think this idea is amazing! A backsplash made from plastic placemats! It looks really good and I imagine is easy to clean. Perfect for a temporary fix. See the tutorial at Ashley Rowhome

Kids apron made from placemats

This would make a cute gift! Kids aprons made from placemats – from At Home In the Northwest

placemats used as photo frames via BHG

Another great idea from Better Homes & Gardens is to use placemats as photo frames

various clutches made from placemats

Another cute gift idea is to make a clutch from a placemat – from Happy Together

placemat used as a frame

You can use a placemat as a frame like this from The Thrifty Rebel

Coasters made from placemats via Craftionary

These coasters are made from placemats – see the tutorial at  Craftionary

framed placemat art via Thrifty Decor Chick

If you find a pretty placemat you can frame it for some easy DIY art like this one from Thrifty Decor Chick

bedside caddy made from placemats

Here’s a bedside caddy you can make from 2 placemats via Instructables

bamboo placemat vases

You can take some bamboo placemats and make these vases from In This Life

pillow made from a table runner

I’m including this pillow even though it’s not made from a placemat. Instead I used a tablerunner!  You can see more photos here A Cultivated Nest Making My Kitchen More Summery

Hope you found some inspiration!

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