My Frugal Holiday Living Room

I love looking at holiday decor. Store window fronts, festive vignettes, home tours—I enjoy seeing them all. And I would be remiss if I left out the king of inspiration, Pinterest. Wow. There are some really creative minds out there.

Sometimes I think to myself, what could I possibly have to offer that hasn’t already been shared? People are probably tired of looking at Christmas trees and mantles weighed down with boughs of garland and pretty, glittery bulbs.

my frugal holiday living room

If you are of this mind, please forgive me and just overlook this post. However, if you are like me and you could seriously gaze at Christmas decorations until the cows come home, well then, here’s one more room for you.

This is my version of “decking the halls” where the budget is small and the children are many. In other words, welcome to my cheap and kid-friendly holiday living room.

Holiday room tour details

This is the second year that I have purchased a real wreath for my front door. I loved it so much last year that I purchased two this year, one for the front door and one for the inside of my back door which is in my kitchen.

Home Depot runs a special on Black Friday for $5 wreaths and garlands. As I already said, last year I bought one wreath but this year I branched out (pun intended) and bought two wreaths and one garland. I love having the real greenery. Sure, there may be some needles, but I don’t find them overly messy.

The wreaths both came with velvet bows that were somewhat crushed from being packed in the warehouse and were looking a tad pathetic. So I whipped together a burlap and lace bow from my stash and replaced the old bow with this beauty. I love the combination of the two ribbons.

In an effort to not waste and also to just have fun, I stuck the bow on the front of our minivan. (Recycling can be awesome.) The girls were quick to notice the bright flutterings as the walked by the van in our driveway. Who knew that decorating your car to this small degree would bring such smiles?! They loved it.

(Recycling the pathetic wreath bow was perfect for the car, a place where the wind would only continue to destroy it.)

Frugal Christmas details

 

2014 Christmas room tour

But enough about bows, let’s go into our home, shall we?

Holiday Room Tour 2014

Welcome to my cozy, little living room decked out in rustic Christmas decor.

Holiday Living Room Tour

I love it. I am a traditional girl at heart and love to embrace the red and green. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good flocked tree with lots of Christmas whites and metallics. They are beautiful and some day I may try a different color scheme, but for now—for this year—the true colors of the season are what speak to me

Who knows what I may try next year? (And yes, I feel like I say that every year.)

Christmas 2014 Room Tour

My pinecone wreath is still going strong. This was a Smith and Hawken (from Target) after-Christmas clearance from three years ago. I love being able to display it throughout both the fall and winter seasons. Last year I tried hanging it in our hallway. Bad idea. The poor thing got knocked down so many times that it’s a wonder it’s still in one piece.

pretty Christmas decorations

2014 frugal holiday room details

The crystals that lightly frost the entire wreath are probably my favorite detail. So pretty.

Christmas room tour details

Another set of items that get moved around quite a bit are my huge lanterns, also from Target and also a tremendous clearance find. My candles are purely decorational. I pull them out every year. Is it odd that I never burn them?

Perhaps I take my mentality of reusing everything too far. I don’t know.

Christmas living room tour

Here’s a full shot of our little music corner with our eleven dollar artificial tree that we’ve now used for twelve seasons. That’s less than a dollar a year now….not too shabby.

Even Charlie Brown can’t beat that price.

christmas living room decor

My tree is a mix of different ornaments. Some fragile ornaments like these that I bought during Target’s after-Christmas sale (at 90% off) for eighty cents.

I bought this for Nate on his second Christmas. It didn’t have a year, so who’s really gonna know that I didn’t give it to him for his “1st Christmas” other than me? And now you….who?

Nobody. It was a year late, the price was right and the ornament adorable, so I bought it. Nobody’ll know, I promise. One year off is no big deal.

christmas living room

How about nine years late? I also fell in love with this ornament for “Our first Christms”—which obviously it wasn’t. Again there was no year printed on it and I just loved the little guy with his miniture bottle brush tree.

I clearly don’t follow any rules when it comes to ornaments.

living room  Christmas 2014

And if I can’t find ornaments that fit my need, I make them. Here’s Zip’s annoucement ornament from 2008. I’ve made one for each of my children, marking the day that we found out about each new little family member on-the-way.

I have six on my tree now, one for Bunny, Fuzz, Zip, Pop, Van and our sweet little Angel baby.

Favorite Christmas decorations 2014

Ornaments like these make me smile as well. Aren’t kids creations simply the best ones on a tree? I think that my kids would tend to agree with the that statement.

free gift wrap

I’m still in love with wrapping with paper grocery bags and shopping bags. The thickness of the paper can’t even begin to compare with what you typically find on a roll and I rather fond of not spending money on something that my kids (and Hubs and myself too!) are simple going to rip to shreds come Christmas morning.

grocery bag gift wrap

As evidenced in the photo below, I have quite an assortment of printed bags recycled into wrapping paper under my tree. Pottery Barn Kids, Gap, Baby Gap, Trader Joes and Whole Foods Market just to name a few.

(I’ve even started using the paper grocery bags as our “stockings” . We brought four handmade stockings from Pennsylvania when we moved here and I just never got around to making more for our growing family. The bags are working just fine for now.)

frugal Christmas decor 2014

 

There you have it. My traditional and rustically-eclectic holiday living room. I reuse as many elements as I can from year to year. To be honest, there’s something heart-warming and nostalgic pulling out some of those worn, dusty pieces every year—even our old tree. Bunny was really bent on using it for one more year.

 

I was rather fond of seeing it one more time as well. (Initially I wanted to try a real fir tree this year. But not getting one kept our holiday decor cost down to a bare minimum.)

Here’s my cost breakdown. :)

my Christmas mantle

How about you? Are your halls all decked? Do you decorate with traditional colors or have you dabbled with a different colors this year? Ever buy specific occasion ornaments years later?Have one well-worn nostalgic seasonal item that you love? Growing up, it was our old well-loved (read well-played with) and rather chipped nativity scene. It was a favorite. We kids fought over unpacking and arranging the set every year. And I do mean every year. Ahhh, memories of the season.

Thanks for stopping by,

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Week 7: Your Room {HSU Challenge}

Holiday Spruce-Up 2014

 

Welcome to my Holiday Spruce-Up 2014 Challenge. This post is part of my seven week home series dedicated to preparing our homes for the holiday season. Join me every Monday morning for a quick lists of tasks for a dedicated zone in our homes. On the weekends, I’m sharing how I tackled the list in my own home. Sign up here to receive email updates delivered straight to your inbox or follow along on facebook for real time progress, tidbits and more.

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Your Room (HSU)

Mild sickness has hit our little homestead. Tis the season, I guess. Anyhoo, I’m here with the final installment of our Holiday Spruce-Up series. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten things accomplished that I know that otherwise would not have done.  For me and my house, this holiday cleaning challenge was necessary.

Did I get everything done that I wanted?

Absolutely not. (Is that even possible?!)

However, I’m happy with what I completed.

And the things that I didn’t get done, well, that’s what this week is for.

Welcome to the week of grace.

Life happens and I get that. The season is busy and I know that too. That’s why when I designed all of my graphics seven weeks ago, I made the last week’s graphic somewhat open-ended. I’d like to say that it was a just a brillant stroke of thoughtfulness on my part, but it was more than likely that I know myself. I’d need an extra week to catch up on the missed details that I really want to do, the rest of them?

I’m sure that they’ll keep.

Here’s my simple list for this week.

                                                          Week Seven: Your Room List

If you have one room that you’d still like to do and you got behind, this is the week.

Or if your like me and maybe you have a few little things from the past two weeks, now is also the time to do those odd jobs.

Otherwise your challenge is over and  you can just simply sit back to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. ;)

So from my semi-clean home to your sparkling and immaculate house, I hope that you are able to truly rest and relax  throughout the holiday season. You deserve it.

XO,

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Homemade Fudge Brownies (the Best)

best homemade fudge brownie recipe

I have always been a chewy brownie type of a girl. Cake-like brownies are simply okay. In other words, if you offered me a cake brownie, I would eat one.  I mean, I would never turn down chocolate. (Who really would?!) Fudge brownies have my heart though.

Or should I say, my tummy. And my hips.

*sigh*

best homemade fudge brownies

For years now, Hubs and I have been making baby steps, and some larger strides, in our healthy living journey. We have switched to a good deal of organic foods (not all), non-toxic health and beauty items and either homemade or all natural homecare items.

It has been quite the journey. We have learned many things along the way.

best homemade brownies

One of my favorite and most fulfilling moments has been when I rediscover the joy of homemade. Miss Crocker simply can’t compete with the delectable treats that we can whip together in our own kitchen. (Sorry, Betty.)

This brownie recipe was immediately deemed the best ever.

I know, I know. You’re shaking your head about now and thinking, Yeah, right. Everyone thinks that their recipe is the “best” ever. And that’s fine. I understand your scepticism. To be honest, I’ve had those same thoughts myself about various things….until I had these brownies.

best fudge brownies

So good. In fact, good doesn’t even begin to describe them.

I found the original recipe here. Can you guess what it was called? I bet that you’ll never guess. Never in a million years.

Ok, go ahead and try.

Give up?

Best Brownies.

Just like that….”Best Brownies”.

Did you think of that title? Fitting, huh? You want to know what’s unbelievable about them?

best brownies recipe

They truly live up to their name. Seriously. I am not kidding, and trust me, I know chocolate. So do a TON of people. The ratings for this recipe are through the roof. It has been approved by hundreds of thousands of people. You can’t argue with those numbers, right?!

Sometime people shy away from homemade, they feel that making things from scratch is more time-consuming and difficult. Perhaps this is true in some instances, but not with these brownies. My ten year old daughter whipped three pans of these out in just a matter of minutes. They have become her specialty—she is now the brownie queen.

homemade fudge brownies

This easy recipe will make the contents of the red box seem so bland. You really have to try these and I promise, you’ll be hooked on them like we are.

I guess that this can kind of be a bad thing. Well, here’s my disclaimer for these brownies and any future pounds that may result. Always bake with a crowd nearby and never, never leave yourself alone with them.

Bad things can happen…like one less pan for the Christmas social.

*sigh*

Perhaps 2015 should be the year that I give up chocolate.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of me snorting here at the absurd thought of my giving up on this sweet indulgence. I should wash my mouth out with soap for such a riduculous utterance. I could never turn my back on a childhood friend. At least not completely.

homemade brownie recipe

Chocolate and I go way back.

Enjoy.

Homemade Fudge Brownies (the Best)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
This chewy, fudge brownie will become the family favorite and your friends will be knocking down your door for its recipe. You simply can't beat the BEST!
Ingredients
  • ½ c. butter
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅓ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ c. flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt ½ cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in ⅓ cup cocoa, ½ cup flour, slat and baking powder. Spread into pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

 

Ever make homemade brownies? Do you love chocolate too?  Who else needs to join me in a lifestyle eating change soon? I need support here.

Meanwhile nibble on these.

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DIY Five Minute Pom-Pom Garland

DIY 5 minute pom-pom garland

Over the past year, I have been earnestly decorating my older girls’ bedroom. They’ve gotten new bedding, pillows, sheets, artwork, decor. a lamp and as shown in yesterday’s post, a new-to-them vintage dresser.

I’m just having fun putting on the final touches here and there throughout their space. This is truly the exciting part, seeing it all come together.

Today I’m sharing about an insanely easy craft that I just made. It was a DIY five minute pom-pom garland. Really—only five minutes. I was able to knock out this little project during yesterday’s nap time, while watching a show on my laptop. This is otherwise known as downtime for Mom.

During the Black Friday sale at Michaels, I grabbed a bag of pom-poms to make a garland for their room.

It was on a total whim. I’d been wanting to make one for a really long time and it seemed the perfect opportunity to pick up any supplies that I might need.
pom-pom garland

I already had my sewing scissors and a set of craft needles that I had also used for my Pottery Barn poinsettia pillow knock off.

The twine I had grabbed just “to have on hand” for projects such as this from Target for a dollar. This is obviously my favorite price point.

I think that one buck for a card of four different colored sets of twine is a pretty good deal. The pink and white combo was perfect for their bedroom colors.making a pom-pom garland

You will need to thread your twine through a large-eyed craft needle and place a knot where you want the first pom-pom to stop. Do not knot both ends of twine together.

Also keep in mind to place this knot at the other end of the twine, leaving enough “tail” for you to hang the garland.diy pom-pom garland

You also may want to place a knot on one side (or both sides) of the pom-pom as you thread them onto the twine. This will help hold the correct spacing between each pom-pom.

The extra knotting by each pom-pom is completely optional. The twine certainly is thick enough to prevent them from sliding on the fibers. However, I know my kids and that their little fingers like to touch and discover. The additional knots were worth the added time (mere seconds).

If you do choose to add extra knots for each pom-pom, simply nestle them as close to the pom-poms as you can, pulling back the “fluff” if necessary. The pom-pom will then hide your knot. You can see my additional knot in the photo below. (I pulled my pom-pom away from it for visibility. You don’t have to have them show if you don’t want.)
homemade pom-pom garland

I draped my diy pom-pom garland across a little wall gallery that I am forming as you enter the girls’ bedroom. I love the “Imagine” canvas that I picked up from Pottery Barn Kids a while back. It was clearanced at $4.99 (from $25 dollars), and I got it for free with one of my PBK monthly giftcards. The butterfly is also from PBK and came in a set of 5 which, yes, I got with another giftcard. (Due to the gift cards, my children’s rooms have a good deal of Pottery Barn Kids decor, bedding, etc. I love it though.)

Until I decide exactly where I want it hung, I am not triming the excess twine off of the ends. I may need that twine to wrap around something or to add a few more pom-poms if I need to. For now, I’m enjoying pom-pom garland hung here.
easy diy pom-pom garland

I love how the garland turned out and I couldn’t wait for the girls to “spot” it when they got home from school yestereday. So fun.creating a pom-pom garland

I have pom-pom fever now.

Now I want to make another DIY pom-pom garland, this time with primary colors. Or maybe even red, white and green for a Christmas garland.

So many different options for color combinations and hanging choices.

You could drape them across a mantle, a shelf, a picture/or canvas, a bulletin board and/or just simply hang them from hooks on the wall.

Better yet, you could make a really, long string of garland and hang it on the Christmas tree. Wouldn’t that be fun?! 
easy homemade pom-pom garland

The next one that I make, however, will be with my girls. I really want to teach them to sew, just like my mom taught me and my sisters. This involves threading a needle and learning to not poke yourself with it. I think that I’ll call this craft my Intro to Sewing class for my daughters. Ha. We do enjoy crafting together. And making memories.

make a memory, make a garland

This is a great and really simple craft to make with kids. They will love it.

So what are you creating? Ever made a pom-pom garland? If you’ve made a daisy chain in your lifetime, you can certainly master this craft. It is a quick project, for sure.

Leave a comment and tell me what you’ve made recently. I’d love to hear.

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