Fabulously Fall Entryway Decoration

One of my favorite little places in our apartment has to be our entryway nook. I already showed you how I went about finding some reasonably priced furniture to hold all of our stuff for the winter months.

Inspired by the tons of beautiful mantle arrangements I’ve been seeing online lately, and because I don’t have a mantle to decorate, I decided to decorate my entryway for the first time. Here’s how it turned out.


Pretty festive, in my opinion.

Not really sure why I never thought of decorating it before. I love that it’s one of the first things guests see as they walk into the apartment, and it’s one of the last things you see before you leave.

A breakdown of what’s there:

The frame was on sale for $5 at Michael’s. The print is a free printable I found here.


The ceramic pumpkin on the right is a candle I’ve had for ages, so we’ll say that one’s a zero cost item. The iron wrought and beaded pumpkin further to the right was a Michael’s purchase. Their fall decor was 50% off, so this little guy rang up for $2.50. The candle was free from Pier 1.


The grapevine pumpkin on the left was purchased at Target’s Dollar Spot, though it did cost $2.50. I had the black and orange polka dot ribbon already.


Finally, the leaf garland is the same kind I purchased for the hurricane candle holder from my other fall decorations post. It was purchased for $1 from the Dollar Store.

I’m really happy that most of these items will stay on that ledge for Halloween and Thanksgiving. I won’t have to change out the entryway decor until Christmas! Who knows, maybe new decorations will even be added. I’m sure I’ll tell you if they are.

Fall Fun Printable

All that apple picking really got me into the fall mindset. Since then, I’ve been thinking about all the fun stuff to do this season.

Because I’m a little OCD, I like writing activities down that I want to do. That way, if we’re ever sitting at home with nothing to do, I pull out my list and we have instant ideas on what to do to fill our time. Also, I find that if I make a list, I’ll start scheduling the activities that require a little planning ahead. With a busy schedule, planning ahead really helps.

I planned on writing down my to do list on the chalkboard we made for the office, but then decided against it. I wanted the list to be prominently displayed along with the rest of our seasonal decorations.

I looked online for some printables of this sort, but wasn’t finding anything that I liked or that suited the activities Dan and I would want to do. So, I made my own.


I’m sure there is a MUCH better way to have created this, but I think it turned out all right in the end.

I started by creating boxes filled with each color in Paint, saving it as a picture.


Then, I uploaded the “picture” to Picnik.com, where I added all the text.


Finally, I saved the photo as a jpeg, for easy printing.

I framed my list in a frame I already had. I put the glass in to create a sort of dry erase board where I can check off the activities as we do them.

I’ve already checked off apple picking with the family, making chili, and making the house smell like cinnamon. I burned a candle that smelled like cinnamon buns last weekend. It went much better than the soy Yankee Candle pumpkin one.

Feel free to print your own copy!

Did I miss any of your favorite fall activities?

Apple Picking

What is a better fall activity than apple picking? One does not exist.

Last weekend, my parents, Dan, and I packed up my family’s five little ones and headed to Wisconsin for a fall day of fun. It’s become somewhat of a tradition that we go apple picking as a family.


The tradition started way back in the day when I was a kid. Apparently, back then, I had quite a penchant for running off, stealing apples from other families, and then putting my two front teeth in them.


Things haven’t changed much, except for the stealing part. That was one of our apples.


We’ve been going with these guys since they were young, even before some of them were born. It’s a fall family event I look forward to every year, and this year was no different.

We started off by walking into the orchard and picking our apples. It didn’t take that long at all, as the kids ran to the trees and were picking apples left and right.


Then came the hay ride around the orchard.


With a stop at the pumpkin patch along the route.


We enjoyed some hot and fresh apple cinnamon donuts, and ended by the kids having a run through the tree maze.


We ended up with a peck of apples. Once we got them all home, I wondered what we should make with them.

This caramel apple cake looks like it would be amazing.


Maybe not as good as these apple pies on sticks.


These baked apple donuts look tasty.


Making apple butter in my slow cooker will definitely make our home smell like fall.


Oh, and I can’t forget how yummy buttermilk apple cider chicken is.

But what if I decide to use some for decorative purposes, not just in recipes that will no doubt lead to weight gain?

I really like this centerpiece and the matching greens in the apples and the candle.


If you cut an apple in half, you can use each side as a stamp and create some pretty fun items like these table linens.


Or this apple print bag.


As always, I’ll fill you in on any great recipes or crafts that these apples become.

Happy fall!

Yankee Candle Fail

I’m a huge fan of Yankee Candles. They are usually the best candles around with their scents being pretty steady while they are lit.

My favorites are the Vanilla Lavender, which is a great scent before falling asleep,


and the Mistletoe, which makes the whole house smell like Christmas.


The Mistletoe candle goes out the day after Thanksgiving and is lit pretty frequently straight through New Year’s. We have a fake Christmas tree, but with this candle going, you would never know.

Last Sunday, Dan and I were home watching football, and I wanted the house to smell like fall. Dan suggested I try out the new Yankee Candle I had bought. It was a new kind of candle I was trying out – a soy based candle that smelled like “The Great Pumpkin.”


I lit it and let it burn for about eight hours. I sat pretty much right next to it and couldn’t smell it at all! What a letdown.

I definitely won’t be purchasing one of Yankee Candles soy candles again. OK, rant over.

Has anyone had better luck with these kind of candles? Did I just get a defective one?


Cheap & Easy DIY Home Items

Sometimes, even my mad couponing skills doesn’t make certain items cheaper than making them on your own.

I came across many tutorials on how to make common household items and even some premiere products. I haven’t gotten a chance to try them all yet, but I thought I’d share anyways.

1. Foaming hand soap from Bath & Body Works.


According to The Frugal Girls, just fill an empty foaming soap dispenser with an inch of regular hand soap and fill with tap water to the top. Mix slowly.

Price of DIY: Hard to judge, since you can make so many bottles of foaming soap from one bottle of regular hand soap, but I’m going to guess no more than $0.10.

2. Wallflower Refillables.


Here’s another Bath & Body Works rip off. I’m a sucker for those wallflowers plug ins, even though the cost adds up. I try to go to their semi-annual sales in June and December, but even then the best I can get is usually one refill pack (with two bulbs) for $5.

Now, I save my Wallflower bulbs and refill them with essential oil I’ve purchased elsewhere. I bought a big bottle of lavender scented oil for $5. It will easily fill at least eight to ten bulbs, which makes the cost of each bulb between $0.50 to $0.63.

3. Febreeze.


Fake it Frugal uses some liquid fabric softener, some baking soda, and warm tap water to create her own Febreeze. She claims it cost about $0.15 per bottle when you make it yourself.

4. Windex.


Stealing another Fake it Frugal idea, you can make your own Windex for about $0.27. She uses ammonia, rubbing alcohol, a drop of laundry detergent, and some water to make her own.

5. Laundry detergent.


Yellow Brick Home makes her own powder laundry detergent and it couldn’t be easier. All you need is a cup of Borax, a cup of washing soda (like baking soda, but its washing soda), and a grated up laundry bar. I believe she said you have enough borax and washing soda for five batches of the detergent when you buy one standard sized box of each. And the laundry bars are only $1 each!

6. Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray.


Huzzah Vintage’s DIY-ness blew me away. With just a little water based hair gel, some epsom salt, and tap water, you can make the super expensive $23 spray made by Bumble & Bumble. I’ll definitely be trying this out next summer to get those lovely beach swept wave look.

Be sure to report back with your results if you do try one of these. Oh, and definitely let me know if you have any money-saving DIY product making tips of your own.

My Best Deals

I wrote a post a couple weeks back about how to get stuff for free. Free things make my day.

Sometimes, getting something for free just isn’t in the cards. But, I still try to buy things for as close to free as possible. I thought I’d show you some of my best deals on nearly free items and tell you how you can get these deals too.

Purchase #1: Kohl’s

Five candles and a pair of earrings.

Grand total: $3.06

How’d I do it?

Each candle was regularly priced between $10.99 and $18.99, however, four of the candles were in the clearance section and cost only between $2.19 and $2.79. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: always check the clearance section! You’ll find great stuff for sometimes up to 90% off of the regular price. Combine a clearance item with a coupon and you are paying next to nothing. The earrings were also a clearance item.

My big splurge was the leaf candle that rang up for $8.54. It was so pretty and fall appropriate though, so I knew I had to have it.

I used a $10 gift certificate emailed to me, a $10 gift certificate that was snail mailed to me, and a 15% off coupon I got online. And yes, I was able to use all three discounts in one purchase.

Purchase #2: Shutterfly

100 prints.

Grand total: $1.07, including shipping.

How’d I do it?

The couponing blogs I follow alerted me to this red hot deal. They gave me a coupon code, only good until midnight of that day. I hurried home, uploaded, cropped, and got my order in by the deadline.

A little over a dollar for 100 prints and I don’t even need to leave my house to get them? Great deal in my book.

I was happy to finally print out my anniversary trip photos from San Francisco. I definitely want to do some craft project to create home decor out of a photo or two, but exactly what that will be is still TBD.

Purchase #3: World Market

Three bags of vanilla beans (six beans total) and a lettuce knife.

Grand total: $3.10

How’d I do it?

With a birthday coupon, of course. I received a $10 off $10 purchase email.

The beans were $2.99 per bag and the lettuce knife was $3.99. Don’t get fooled into buying the vanilla beans in a jar. One bean would cost $2.99. Buy the bag version and you get an extra bean for no extra cost.

I like using the my birthday gift to get vanilla beans each year. The seeds add so much to dessert dishes, but I know I won’t spend the money for vanilla beans if they’re not cheap, which they never are. I stock up with my free $10 gift.

Purchase #4: CVS

Two shaving creams, a salt and pepper combo pack, and a liter of caffeine-free Diet Coke.

Grand total: $2.16

How’d I do it?

The shaving creams were free after CVS having them on sale for $1.99 each, then stacking a -$1/1 CVS coupon and a -$1/1 manufacturer coupon. The combo pack was full price, and the pop was on sale for $0.99.

What was your best nearly free deal?

A Semi-DIY Gift

I strongly believe that a homemade gift or a themed gift are the best kind of presents to give (and to get).

For example, when my friend Margie had her bridal shower, I gave her a set of wine glasses paired with some wines named for the occasion. Nothing says bridal shower like wines named Mad Housewife and True Love.


My friend Kelly lives in Seattle, and when her bridal shower invitation came, I ordered up some champagne flutes that were delivered to her door. I didn’t want her to worry about getting the very breakable glasses home. I wanted her to have something to open at the shower, so I gave her a bottle of champagne that her and her fiance (who was also at the shower) could enjoy here at home while visiting.[[posterous-content:pid___1]]For my friend Lauren’s bachelorette party, I capitalized on her love of popcorn and designed her gift around the theme of a romantic night in. She got a big popcorn bowl, different popcorn seasonings, dark chocolate, a bottle of wine, and a comfy nighty.


A few weeks ago, my cousin had a birthday and I gave her a true baker’s gift. She loves Veruca Salt cupcakes from Bleeding Heart Bakery, so I got her a whole set so she could make her own – a book written by the bakery’s owners that included the Veruca Salt recipe, some cupcake liners, and of course, some Veruca Salt cupcakes themselves.


All of those gifts involved just a little bit of creative thinking on my part to get a theme, and I just went from there. But lately, I wanted to start doing more DIY gifts, where I actually make a part of the gift itself. I gave my first semi-homemade gift to my friend Becky over the weekend.

When I moved into my apartment with my husband, she brought me what she called a traditional Polish housewarming gift which consisted of a bag of coffee, some salt, and a bottle of wine. To celebrate her new apartment, which I was seeing for the first time, I’d give her the same lovely gift, with a couple twists.

I got her the wine, a salt and pepper combo pack, and some Starbucks frappuccinos (that counts as coffee). I also threw in a creamer in the shape of a cow because when we were kids, she collected everything cow-related. I’m sure she’s stopped adding to her collection long ago, but when I saw the cow creamer with its fun black spots, I couldn’t resist.[[posterous-content:pid___4]]

Finally, I DIY’d the tote bag to put everything in to give to her, and the tote bag I knew she would use on her grocery trips and on her walk to work. I took a plain natural fiber tote bag and ironed on an X-Men image. Yep, she’s a big comic book fan. Lucky for me, so is my husband and he helped me out by picking out an image for me to use. I printed it on some iron on paper, then ironed it right onto the bag.


I really liked making it, and even though it was a super easy project to do, I really felt like it added to the gift.


Have you ever DIY’d a present for someone else?