Decorating on a Dime: Christmas

Guess who’s back?! I know I’ve been away from this blog FOREVERRR!!! I’ve been super busy at work and home and getting ready to start taking classes again! Anyway, I’m ready to get back in the swing of posting here, and what better way to start than with my most favorite holiday ever: CHRISTMAS!

I’ll be honest–my Christmas tree has been up since early November! I get so excited for the holiday season and one of my favorite ways to show it is through my decorations. Below are some of the decking I’ve done around my halls!

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I love the fact that decorating for Christmas (or any holiday, really) doesn’t require a huge price tag. $$$ For the most part, I re-use a lot of the glass containers I have on hand and use for other holiday decorating and just switch out the fillers.

For example, the reds, whites, and silvers found in these candy canes, bulbs, and bows are very eye-catching side-by-side. You could use the same size/shape containers for a more symmetrical look, but I think the different shapes provide some visual interest. This idea came from these gorgeous Christmas apothecary jars. …I really need to invest in some apothecary jars!

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You may recognize these wine glasses and candles from my Valentine’s Day decorations. With some added bulbs underneath and on a pretty platter, they make a great holiday centerpiece for my dining room table!

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Another of my favorite, favorite ways to decorate for any holiday/season is with stacked books. You will see this in several of my decorations. For my Christmas books, I wrapped the books in some pretty wrapping paper and topped them with a figurine or a stand-alone decoration I had on hand.

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For the “JOY” on my wall, I bought a “J” and a “Y” letter from Michael’s and covered them in glittery scrapbook paper with ModPodge. I got the snowflake from Big Lots to use in place of an “O”… very simple way to bring JOY to your wall!

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This year, I tried to create my own Winter Scene in a jar that I found on Pinterest. It is such a simple project to put together and so very pretty. Use an apothecary jar or a jar with a lid (I think the one I got was meant for terrariums–on sale at Michael’s!). Place some snow fluff in the bottom, a small village building in the middle (they have them at the Dollar Tree!), surround with a few trees and sprinkle glitter snow all over the top. It’s so easy!

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Another thing I’m loving about my Christmas decorations this year is my village! This is not necessarily a cheap/easy project, but it can be if you have a lot of patience! This is a new addition to my decorations because I have been slowly getting the pieces together. I got a few of my buildings as Christmas presents last year, and always make sure to scope out the after-holiday sales! The smaller buildings in the middle are some I picked up at the Dollar Tree which are actually quite cute, but I’m using them as space holders until I can get some more larger ones to add to the collection. I’ve always wanted one of these villages and I’m so excited that I finally got a start on it! I’m hoping to get a few more buildings as presents this year so next Christmas, my village will be even more spectacular!

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And finally–my Christmas wreath! I made this wreath around Christmas time last year, so sadly I don’t have a tutorial, but I did closely follow the tutorial for this wreath I found on Pinterest. Basically, I jazzed up a plain pine wreath with ribbons, bulbs, and a few extras. I got the “Merry Christmas” in the center from the $1 ornaments at Wal-Mart and just attached it using hot glue! Very simple!

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May all of your decorating be joyful and bring lots of life into your home! Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

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Decorating on a Dime: Summer

I know I’m a little late on getting this post up, but I want to share some cheap but cute ways to brighten up your home with affordable summer decorations!

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Seashells are one of my favorite ways to decorate for summer because–not only are they beautiful, but–they are so cheap (or even free if you like to collect them on beach vacations!).

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Filling up a vase with seashells of various sizes is one simple way to create a summery decoration.

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Lime green and turquoise are two of my favorite colors to use in the summer. They were my wedding colors and the vase of sand above is actually from our wedding sand ceremony! It would be a neat art project to make yourself, though! Also, the tall glass vases with seashells in the bottom and white pillar candles on top are beautiful ways to bring a touch of the beach into your home.

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One of my favorite ways to decorate for any holiday/season is with books covered with scrapbook paper. You can usually find books for pocket change at yard sales or thrift stores. Use glue or ModPodge to cover with the scrapbook paper, stack them, and place a pretty decoration on top. Again, I resorted to a glass container with sand, seashells, and a simple white votive candle.

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Colored glass bottles is another affordable way to brighten your home. I found these turquoise and lime bottles at Big Lots.

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Another way I like to decorate for each season/holiday is to jazz up my photo coasters. I like my coasters, but I just don’t feel right placing beverages on the faces of my loved ones, so I have never filled them with photos. Instead, I find scrapbook paper to match the occasion, cut out the right size squares, and place them inside! Details, details!

Also, be sure to check out my tutorials for my summer wreath and my seashell votive holder!

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Summer Wreath

Summer is here! Have you shown your front door some summer love, yet? If not, you should really try out this budget friendly wreath!

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-1 Wreath Form (I used a wire one because I had it on hand, but you could use foam!)
-Fabric/ribbon (Use summery colors! My favorites are turquoise & lime green… my wedding colors!)
-Yarn
-Scissors
-Starfish/seashell accent
-Hot glue gun/glue

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If you are using fabric, you will need to cut it into strips probably about 3 inches wide. Wrap it around the wreath form a couple times, using glue to hold it in place. Cut off the excess and use your ribbon in another color to wrap once, gluing in place. Add more of the fabric in the first color, wrapping a few more times and repeating this process until you have about 6 inches left.

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Use your secondary color to fill in that 6 inch space. Use yarn in your primary color to wrap around that 6 inch space just to add some visual interest (also kind of resembles a fishnet!).

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Glue your starfish or seashell accent on top of the yarn, and you’re done! Simple but lovely!

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Tweet me pictures of your wreath! @CaitWithTheFace

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D.I.Y. Seashell Votive Holder

Summer is here! One of my favorite ways to decorate for the summer season is with seashells! They’re cheap (or free if you like to collect them at the beach!) and beautiful. Today, I’ll show you how to make this very simple votive candle holder to add to your summer decor!

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You will need:
-1 small glass hurricane vase (I got mine from Dollar Tree… $1!!!)
-Decorative seashell
-Thin rope/twine
-Hot glue gun/glue

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First, wrap a bit of rope around the bottom of the vase. You can use a dot of hot glue to hold the end in place if needed, or you can just tuck it under the rest of the rope and glue the other end in place.

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Repeat the same process toward the top of the vase.

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Put a drop of glue at the top of and bottom of the seashell, and place on the center of the vase.

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And that’s all it takes! Fill with a bit of sand and add your votive candle! Simple but pretty!

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Come back later this week for more summer decorating tutorials!

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Pinterest Recipe: Creamy Garlic Spaghetti

When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I knew this was something that I needed to try! It’s got 2 of my favorite things in one recipe: pasta and garlic! I’ve made it a few times for dinner, and it’s just as delicious each time!

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Ingredients:
2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 C chicken broth
8 oz. spaghetti
1 C Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 C heavy cream
2 Tbs chopped parsley

Directions:

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In a pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the butter and mix until melted.

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Add the salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.

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At a rolling boil, add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the package.

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Once cooked, reduce the heat to medium and add the Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted.

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Remove from heat and stir in cream and parsley.

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CREAMY GARLIC SPAGHETTI
Ingredients:
2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 C chicken broth
8 oz. spaghetti
1 C Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 C heavy cream
2 Tbs chopped parsley

Directions:
1. In a pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the butter and mix until melted. Add the salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.
2. At a rolling boil, add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions on the package.
3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and stir in cream and parsley.

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The Power of a Porch

One of my favorite places is the front porch on my parents’ house. It was built as an addition onto the house several years ago. Ever since then, I loved to spend my days on that porch. From the front of the house, it overlooks our rural two-lane street with the beautiful landscape of those West Virginia hills in the distance. Just this past weekend as I was home to visit my family, I sat on our porch swing, looking out over the surroundings I grew familiar with over the years, and reflected on my times spent on this porch. With my mother retiring this year, my parents are going to be moving and selling our house, the only house I’ve ever known, along with the very special porch.

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Both ends of the porch.

It’s an experience in itself to just sit in silence on that porch, listening to the birds singing, breathing the pure country air, and watching the hummingbirds dart around their hanging feeder. If you can wake up early enough, the porch provides you with a front row seat to the beautiful sunrise, shedding light over the misty land as fog lifts up from the hills and the crow of the old rooster down the road echoes around you.

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The early morning view from our porch. Photo taken by my dad.

One of my favorite pastimes is spending countless hours over the past few summers reading in our hammock swing on the porch. I would begin early in the morning turning page after page, hour after hour, enjoying the serenity and peace I felt on the porch with a good book in my hands. I would go inside only for bathroom breaks or meals, just to return to the porch and read well until the fireflies came out for the night.

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Just one of many hummingbirds who visit the feeder on the porch.

Nighttime on the porch is a whole different experience in itself. By that time, the traffic on the street has slowed, the lawn mowers have been turned off for the night, and you are alone with nature. The spring and summer frogs sing their choruses as the fireflies are like glitter in the cool night air. The spread of stars across the sky is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and the bright round moon stares back at you.

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A snowy covered porch decorated for Christmas.

Once in a while, you’ll get the unexpected visitor on the porch, though. Like one evening two summers ago when my friend Shauna and I were swinging in the dark and could barely see the snake slithering by our feet! We screamed… and then laughed about it later. Great memories on the great front porch.

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My good friends Kim, Ankeeta, and Leah enjoying the porch. (Leah is in my special hammock swing!!)

Fall has always been my favorite season though. Once I went away to college, I would deliberately make sure to come home around October, just when the leaves were changing color and there was a slight chill in the air. Sitting on the porch and looking over the yard and hillside, taking in the reds, oranges, and yellows of the autumn scenery, and smelling the changing seasons is just one simple joy that I will miss about this porch.

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Dobbie the cat & Sadie the dog like the porch, too!

In my personal opinion, I don’t think a house can be a home without a porch. At least from my own experience, my porch has allowed me to sit and reflect on the beauty of the world around us that usually goes unnoticed. Even when Drew and I are house hunting just for fun, I often find myself saying, “Wow! That house is beautiful! …But the porch is too small.” I know when I finally buy a house, one of my main requirements will be a large front porch. From trick-or-treaters at Halloween to hummingbirds in the summer, the porch on my parents’ house has provided me with some of my favorite memories. When the house finally sells, I know I’ll miss everything else about it, but I guarantee I’ll miss that porch the most! So, if you have a porch that you don’t utilize very often, please don’t take it for granted! Just sit outside on your porch for a few minutes today and find the beauty in the earth that surrounds you.

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Budget Tip: Stock up on Gifts

I’ve said it before, and I still stand by my statement: I would much rather give gifts than receive them. I love, love, love Christmas shopping, but I HATE draining my bank account around the holiday season (not to mention all of those annoying long lines at the mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas). So, one way to save yourself some money (and stress!) is to start your holiday shopping A.S.A.P.! This also works for birthdays and other holidays and events you know will be approaching quickly!

One of my favorite things to do is keep a running list of gift ideas for the people I need to buy for. Pay close attention when shopping with these individuals, as they will often drop hints as they browse: “Oh, I’d like to have one of those” or “Wow, I’ve always wanted one of these” or “I need that!”. Make a mental note of the item and the price, and as soon as you can, jot it down on paper… otherwise you will most likely forget about it later (trust me!).

Use your time to look for good deals on the items on your lists. That way you can get them for a decent price and save them until the gift-giving day arrives! Also, check clearance sections in stores for gift ideas that you may not have on your list. For example, my brother is always the hardest person to buy for when it comes to Christmas presents. So, a few weeks ago when I came across a certain item at Kohl’s I knew I just HAD to get for him, I was super excited. Without revealing the present, it was an item originally priced for $40.00, and I scored it for $4.00! A 90% savings!!! KA-CHING!

So keep your eyes open and prepare to do your Christmas shopping months ahead of time. You’ll be a lot happier with the outcome once the big day finally rolls around!

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