Frugal Living

Welcome to our house!


Why do we all love decorating for Christmas?! I suppose nostalgia has something to do with it. There is also the fact that our homes get a face-lift for free, unless you buy new decorations each year.

I pulled this little wagon out of a dumpster this summer! It is perfect filled with fake presents and a cookie jar on our porch coffee table.


I was thrilled to find this fun Christmas ribbon on sale at The Paul Michael Company while on vacation this summer.


My husband’s childhood sled came to live with us! Oh, if that sled could talk! I’m sure there would be stories it could tell!


I made this North Pole as decoration for the seasonal membership recruitment for my chorus. The flower-pot base worked well with the empty wrapping paper tube I got from a gift shop. A little paint and ribbon and voila! I couldn’t stand to just throw it away, so it found a home on my porch.


Look what I made to go in my fancy new kitchen!!! Well, actually, I made three!


If you look closely…


you might recognize the fabric from another project! I love “free” stuff!





I love my new kitchen!

I enjoy the old things we have, too!


…like plaid Christmas plates


and vintage decorations!




I picked up these “JOY” ornaments at last year’s after-Christmas-sale. I wish they had had all the right letters in the plaid. Oh, well. I like the was the light shines behind them at night.


This great German crate (a hand-me-down from my in-laws) got relocated this year. Skeeter seems to approve.


The gray and red from the kitchen came into the den. I picked up the snowflake pillows on sale last year. I guess that is where I got to thinking about the gray for the kitchen. The sweater pillows came from Goodwill. I couldn’t commit to cutting the pillows just yet. So, these are held together with safety pins.




I truly hope you all can find TRUE JOY this season-which is only found in Christ the LORD!


“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good news of great joy, that will be to all people.” Luke 2:10

Well, I finally got around to putting out some fall decorations at our house. I use many of the same decorations year after year. See some from previous seasons here.

I guess I was suffering from too much Pinterest! Too many cute decorations out there that I had no money to buy! “But wait…,” I told myself, “I don’t need to buy ANYTHING! I have TONS of craft supplies to make my own cute things!” So, I dug around in my fabric stash–pulling out ALL of the fall-colored fabric. I didn’t have a pattern. I did see a picture of a cute little hoot owl wall hanging that served as my inspiration. Sorry about the picture quality.

Hootie wall hanging

I love the hooties! The homespun border is pretty great, too. I didn’t go crazy with my quilting. just some outlining. If the black stitching around the owls looks messy, it’s supposed to! I love how my little wall hanging looks hanging on the inside of our back door. I had fun working on it!

When I was ready to put my cute men’s shirts pillow cases on my porch pillows I couldn’t find them! We had drug all the fall decorations out of storage and the pillow cases were nowhere to be found, along with a few other things.

Well, I just happened to be at Goodwill Outlet store the other day. I ran across a great plaid shirt. I LOVE PLAID!!! (I may have mentioned that a time of two! Like here, here, here and I’m sure a few other places!) I thought I would grab it for crafting something. I also came across a ’90s fall sweater. Sorry, I forgot to take a “before” picture. I loved all those fancy sweaters back in the day! I was an elementary school teacher back then. I guess those sweaters just WENT with elementary teachers! Plus, I have always seen myself as having a bit of a Mrs. Frizzle personality!



I knew immediately what to do with that sweater!

recycled fall pillow

The front of the sweater was perfect for a pillow case!

The back was cute with just a little pumpkin on it. However, I thought it was a little out of balance with the scarecrow pillow. I roughly stitched “Pumpkin Time” on the sweater. The back of the pillows is made from old blue jeans. I had to add the twine ties on one side of each pillow to make a pillow case and not a pillow.

I think they turned out cute. Don’t you like the new plaid shirt pillow case? Pillow cases are much easier to store than pillows!

By the way, I did find my other box of fall decor hidden under a table and behind a box of Christmas decorations.

One more crafty show and tell item…a sweater pumpkin!

sweater pumpkin

This orange sweater also came from the Goodwill Outlet. The leaves were from a moth-eaten jacket that was headed to the dump.

Here is another picture for you to see the size of the pumpkin.

Size of sweater pumpkin

I simply cut a square form the sweater. I gathered the ends together at the top. Before closing the top with a rubber band, I stuffed the pumpkin. I wrapped a little twine around and around the pumpkin to give it the pumpkin sections. Then I tied the leaves on with the same twine. I thought about stitching some veins in my leaves. I still might do that one day. It was quick to make! The front of the sweater had a zipper. I’m not sure what I want to do with the rest of it yet.  For now, I’ll stuff it in one of my craft closets for another time when I need to have something new!

I wasn’t really planning on this blog post today. If I had planned it there would’ve been more pictures! Since this little experiment turned out so great, I had to share.

I had some apples on the counter that were past their prime and quite wrinkled. No one wanted to eat them. I just hated to throw them away. So, I decided I would try to make apple chips!

I’ve tried to make apple chips before. They just never turned out quite like I hoped. I think I just didn’t get them sliced thin enough. Here’s what I did today…

Take five small withered apples  (OK, they don’t have to be small, and they don’t have to be withered.  Any size or freshness will probably work.)

Wash your apples and leave the skins on.

Core your apples. I used an applecorer that I had. Use whatever method you prefer.

Cut the cored apples into quarters. Carefully slice each quarter into about 12 very thin slices.

As I sliced my apples I placed the slices in a bowl filled with leftover Sprite. The citrus in the Sprite helps keep the apples from turning brown immediately. This step is probably not necessary since the apples will brown in the oven.

Spray a cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray. Place the apple slices on the cooling rack in a single layer.

I placed my cooling rack on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. My apple slices filled two cookie sheets with a few leftover for snacking.

Place the apple slices in an oven preheated to 225° for 2 1/2 hours. I rotated my pans halfway through.

The apple slices won’t be completely crispy when you first pull them out of the oven. They will, however, crisp up as they cool. I really hope there are some of these left by the time my family gets home this afternoon!

I love my Silpat baking mat! (No, this is not a sponsored post. I just wanted to share.)

Cookies are easy to remove. No burning. I’ve even used it in the freezer.



I’ve had my mat for a while now. It seems like I got it for my birthday or Mother’s Day or something like that. I also have some off-brand liners that I like as well.

My Silpat mat came in a nice little box like the one above. I used the box for storing my mats in my cupboard. I didn’t want them to get gouged by cooling racks and roasting pans.

As time went on, my nice little box wore down on one of the edges and separated completely. (Sorry, no picture of the dilapidated box.) No problem. A rubber band worked great to hold it together.

When the rubber band gave up the ghost, I knew it was time for something different. Sure, I could have used another rubber band. However, by this time, another edge was almost worthless.


I remembered that I had an old wax paper box in one of my craft closets. Who knows what I was planning to do with it. I just know it had been sitting there, unused, for quite some time.

After removing the cutting blade, the box was the perfect size for my baking mats!

Woo Hoo!

recycled wax paper box

I did a little happy dance! A free-cycle storage solution! The wax paper box fits nicely in my cupboard, too.

Do you use silicone baking mats? How do you store them?

I love fall. I love that fall appeals to all my senses–beautiful trees, cooler temperatures, rustling leaves, burning fields, apple and pumpkin treats!


I enjoy getting out my fall decorations, too.

We usually go to a pumpkin patch for our pumpkins. The summer rains were not friendly to the pumpkin farmers. This year we ended up getting our pumpkins at the Open Arms Pumpkin Fun Run fundraiser.

Typically, I grab some mums at Walmart or Lowe’s to set around with the pumpkins.

After the blooms have died and the cold sets in, I dump the pots in the trash. Yes, I know you can plant them. I never seem to have the time.

Well, last year, the pots never even made it to the curb! Shame!


They have sprouted lovely weeds courtesy of the wind and the birds.

There is another pot, however, that is different.


It decided to root itself through the bottom of the pot!

I have mums and I didn’t even have to leave home to get them!

They aren’t the perfectly shaped kind from the store–that’s okay.

I have not bought any fancy mums from the store yet.  I may let my “survivor mum” have a chance in the spotlight this year!

I have, however,  added a few decorations to the porch. I’ll get around to the inside of the house eventually.

Don’t you love that you get to use your fall decorations for a long time?!

Happy Fall y'all wreath

pumpkins and hydrangeas

old rocking chair

outdoor fall decor

Now, go make some fall cookies or something. Here is an idea–Applesauce Cookies.

I finally made it to the Goodwill Outlet store! I have always been a thrifter. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” really speaks to me. Yes, I have been known to pull things out of another man’s trash.

The outlet store is not on my beaten path. I guess that is why it took me so long to get there. However, it may be soon!

Most things do not have prices on them–furniture is priced. There were more than a dozen rolling bins FULL of clothing, toys, small housewares, etc. I was like a kid in a candy shop!

As I said, most things aren’t priced. You pay by the pound! $1.39 a pound!

I was a little on the cautious side in my shopping. I wasn’t sure what a pound of t-shirts looked like!

Christmas lights in a bowl

Pictured above are the 100+ Christmas bulbs I found rolling around the bottom of one of the bins.

I also picked up the pewter Reed & Barton bowl. It has a little dent in the lip. I figure once I get a flower arrangement in it, you won’t even see it.

Not pictured, but I’m sure I will share eventually:

  • J.Crew leopard belt
  • yellow belt
  • Cabi jacket
  • pleated skirt
  • 22 cloth napkins
  • vintage floral T.V. tray
  • vintage hankie
  • 2 purses
  • 42 cloth gift bags
  • faux gold chain necklace
  • 7 yards of khaki duck cloth
  • plaid cookie tin
  • string of fake apples
  • new package of subject dividers
  • scrap of fabric to use as outdoor pillows
  • 2 beaded valances that I plan to use to decorate my china hutch for Thanksgiving
  • vintage tablecloth

Vintage Christmas bulbs

The duck cloth ended up being the heaviest item in my basket. I almost didn’t get it. It still had the tag from the fabric store on it. Regular price?$31.72! How could I not get that?!

I had so much fun. Dangerous fun!

Several of the ladies I spoke with were regulars–like EVERY DAY regulars! Some of them were standing around waiting to pounce on the fresh bin that was on its way to the floor.

You could tell they knew what they were doing. Many of them wore gloves. I think I will be taking that tip for next time. I left feeling very dirty.

Being an experienced junker/thrifter, I have a couple of tips of my own:

Go early-however,the inventory changes regularly so early may not matter. Go often-The ladies said it was different every day.

Don’t carry your purse. Just put your money in your pocket. Then you are freed up a little more to dig without having your 10 pound purse attack you.

Pack a lunch. My lunch was in the car. I figured I could make two separate purchases if needed.

There was a bathroom there. However, it is outside of the purchase area. Just keep that in mind.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. There is not a dressing room, at least that I saw. If you are brave enough to try on clothes, you want to wear leggings and a thin t-shirt or something else that would work.

Are you a thrift junkie like me? What is your latest score?

Pillowcase from a man's shirt

I hate to throw things away. My Dad’s favorite saying has always been, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!” As a teen, I grew to hate that phrase! Now, as an adult, I embrace it!

Since my husband never wore this plaid shirt, he decided to send it to Goodwill. I always liked the colors of the plaid So, I snatched it out of the donation bag and stuck it in my craft closet. The poor shirt sat there in the craft closet for about two years.  I just didn’t have a plan for it.

Finally, this fall, I took the scissors to it.

Since I had floral pillows on the porch in OCTOBER, I decided they needed a change.

I still like the floral pillows, so I didn’t want to change them permanently. Using a shirt was the perfect solution. Plus it didn’t cost me anything! (Another plus-I didn’t have to find a place to store the floral pillows.)

Measure twice-cut once

Just measure your pillow and add enough for a seam allowance. I think I added a half-inch and had a quarter-inch seam. Then measure that amount on the shirt. Cut. Sew, right sides together. You can even stitch all the way around the pillowcase. Turn the pillowcase right side out through the opening where the buttons are.

Perfect pillowcase!

The floral pillow is still usable!

Pillows before and after

Cute-huh? (I later made another one to cover the other pillow. Sorry, no photo.)

You can always turn the buttons to the back side if you want. You could even tie a ribbon around it for extra cuteness, too.

I was really happy with this little recycle project. It was a great temporary fix for my pillows. I have another recycled shirt project to show you soon. Stay tuned!

I picked up this adorable vintage cream and sugar set at Goodwill this summer. I love the pumpkin spice color! I waited until the weather started to cool off to use them. It just felt like they should be used in the fall.

Pumpkin Spice Cream and Sugar

I didn’t just put plain old cream and sugar in these beauties-oh, no! Well, the cream is plain old whipping cream.

I made Pumpkin Spiced Sugar!

Why I have never thought of this before is beyond me!

All I did was put some sugar in the sugar bowl and mix in some Pumpkin Pie Spice until I liked the look of it.

How easy is that?!

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee

I don’t particularly like the stuff floating on the top. If you think it is too ugly, cover it with whipped cream! That’s what they do at the coffee houses.

Since my Pumpkin Spice Sugar was so yummy and such a brilliant, original, ground-breaking idea (ha!),  I decided to take it a step further.

I had some Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough in the fridge.  I rolled the dough in the Pumpkin Spice Sugar. Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies  were sooooo yummy! Now, yummy I love! Yummy and easy makes me think I have died and gone to heaven! I HIGHLY  recommend making these!

Pumpkin Spiced Cookies

I doubt you’ll be able to find the exact adorable vintage cream & sugar I found. You can at least make yummy, easy Pumpkin Spice Sugar!

vintage cream and sugar


I recently saw an adorable wreath made out of recycled rain boots. You can see the inspiration wreath here.

Since there had been a pair of outgrown rain boots with holes in them on my porch for months, the idea looked awesome to me!

Here’s a little before and after:


I taped off the black part with painter’s tape before I sprayed the boots. I used a paint and primer all-in-one spray paint. Sorry, I don’t remember what brand. Whatever brand they carry at Walmart.

The boots are far from perfect, but I like them. I think they look rather cheery on my porch.

Spring Centerpiece | Pork Chop Tuesday


The Flowering Quince and Forsythia are from our yard. My grandmother planted them long ago.

Flowering Quince | Pork Chop Tuesday

We have had lots of cold, rainy days here lately. These recycled rain boots added just the right amount of “sunshine” until the real thing came out of hiding.


Happy Spring!

I thought I would share a DIY placemat project. I picked up these vinyl tablecloths a couple of years ago on an “after Easter” sale.


They were only 10¢! How could I refuse?! Yes, I bought many more than what you see here.

At least I had a plan for them! Hoooray! Miracles DO happen!

When I got married, my Mom made me these great placemats as a wedding shower gift. I think she got the fabric at Joann or somewhere like that.

Fruit Placemat

They don’t look 20 years old, do they. They have gotten a TON of use. Vinyl is the way to go with kids. Just sponge off the mess and you are good to go.

When my girls were little, I used these placemats to make a cardboard template. I then used that template on some leftover, new, vinyl kitchen flooring. I painted the back side with chalkboard paint.

Guess I was ahead of the trend. That was about 10 years ago. Who knew?

Chalkboard Placemat

My kids never used these much. They don’t like the feel or sound of chalk.

About 6 or 7 years ago, Walmart had some cute fabric-backed vinyl, so I made me some cute new placemats with my same template. That was back when Walmart carried fabric.

Striped placemat

So, here’s the “how-to”…

First make a template.

This was easy for me because I could just trace my existing placemat 1/4”-5/8′ wider to allow for the seam allowance.

Template Size

The long sides are 13 3/4 inches.

The short sides are 7 3/4 inches.

The corner pieces are 2 3/4 inches.

Now, let me just say, I don’t sew a lot. I have to give myself a refresher course every time I use the sewing machine. You may notice a mistake or two. Try to ignore them!

Placemat template

Ok, I’ll point out the first one for you. I should have ironed the fabric. I just placed my template down on a “smooth” part and hoped for the best.

So much for “the best”. I couldn’t stand it! So I had to do something.


Yes, I ironed the vinyl–ON THE BACK! Use some common sense here. Hot iron+plastic=huge mess. IRON ON THE FABRIC SIDE!

ironedTa Da! Now, isn’t that better?

You may have noticed the green Sharpie a couple of pictures ago. I used that to do my tracing. It will be on the inside, so it won’t show. I didn’t use a black because I thought it might show through the white part of the vinyl.

Next, you get out your fabulous box of thread your Mother-in-Law brought you back from Germany. Oh, sorry. Guess that was just me.

thread box

thread candy


Oooo! Ahhhh! I know you are jealous. I’ll quit.

Next, you get some average thread that will match your fabric. ; )

With right sides together, sew around your placemat. Use whatever seam allowance you like. I tend to go with a 1/4″.

See that space where there is no stitching? Be sure to leave an opening, unless you like the cheesy fabric side better.

sew edges together

leave an opening

Turn you placemat right-side out. That is why you left the opening. Sorry, no pictures of me wrestling placemats.

You do want to have nice crisp corners on you placemats. I used this little corner tool. I’m pretty sure you can find them at fabric shops. I have had mine forever. You don’t have to have one. You could use something like a chopstick to push out those corners.

Corner Tool

Now top stitch all the way around the mat. Remember to tuck in the seam allowance on the opening.


I made two rows of stitching around my set. I think it looks a little fancier that way.

corner detail

finished product

Make them all the same or different colors. Give them as gifts or keep them for yourself. Be sure to look for vinyl tablecloths at those post-holiday sales. Maybe you can get a bargain like I did!

(Guess I didn’t get a picture of the place mats in use. I’ll remedy that on Sunday, maybe.)

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