“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it! But what if you do not have a fireplace? I guess you can roast the chestnuts in the oven, but what about the glow of a fireplace?

A few years ago, I turned the TV on to the “UP” station during a family Christmas because it was showing a “Yule Log.” Yep, it was a video of a fire burning with Christmas music in the background.

I pinned a better idea from At the Picket Fence on my Christmas board. The link for instructions led me to redheadcandecorate.com. I love their faux fireplaces, but I don’t have room for one. I decided to fake the look of a gas fireplace that was like a line of fire.

I remembered my CD organizer turned on its side on the piano. The TV is on top and what better place to have a fire/light feature than there! I got out the battery operated LED button lights my niece gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I put one in each box and made my fire/light feature.LED Button Votives "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

I can have the glow during the day or . . .Light Feature as Viewed from my bed "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

. . . turn them on at night.Faux Fire Light Feature at Night "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

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Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound

I reached the age . . . somewhere around 40 . . .  where my arms aren’t long enough to read. The eye doctor said that dreaded word,

“BIFOCALS!”

The top of my glasses is for seeing far away, the bottom for seeing close up. When I recline, the angle has me looking through the bottom of my glasses and I have trouble focusing on the TV!TV on TV Stand "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

David has the same problem. We either prop our head on a pillow or on one arm to look through the correct part of our glasses. Then we would get a “crick in the neck.”

We needed to raise the TV!

We could mount it on the wall but would have to buy a kit. I looked around for a more frugal solution. Then I remembered the hutch in the bedroom with a large mirror set on it.

Hutch with mirror on it "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

We brought it out and placed the TV on it. The height was perfect! I moved a bookshelf under the hutch and set the soundboard on it.TV Raised Up on Hutch, "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Next week is Thanksgiving and I did some serious thinking about after the meal. We eat at noon and my family will usually watch TV. The best seats are on either end of the couch, which has built-in recliners, or in the big recliner. Usually, 1 or 2 will sit in the middle of the couch and the rest will take the chairs which we bring in from the other rooms.

Another problem is we store the toys for our granddaughter in the ottoman. She can’t get to the toys because the one(s) sitting in the middle of the couch have their feet on it. When she is playing, her movements can block the TV. I moved Olivia’s toys to the bookshelf and hid them behind a curtain on a tension bar.

That solved 2 problems!Toys on Shelf Behind Curtain "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

Invariably, I am the last to sit down and the only seat left is next to the TV. Everyone can see the TV, but me!

David hung the large mirror over the couch. I sat down in the chair and said, “Ouch!” I had moved a CD organizer to use as a side table next to the chair. It was too tall and it hit my elbow! It disappointed me that I could not see the TV in the mirror!

I got out a smaller mirror and David moved it along the wall until I could see the TV while sitting in my chair. We tried 2 different mirrors until I could see the entire TV in the reflection. (This second mirror was David’s grandmother’s and recently given to us by his aunt. I love having something of hers in my front room.)TV Reflected in Mirror "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I brought up a white bookshelf to put in the bedroom where the hutch was formerly. It wasn’t as deep and that gave us 6 more inches between it and the bed.Shallow Bookshelf Gives More Room "Surround Sound, Not Surround Sight" frugalfish.org

I wanted to raise the TV in the bedroom, too. I looked around but couldn’t find anything the right size that was sturdy.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Back in the front room, I tried a few side tables, that were 3″ above or below the arm of the chair, to replace the CD organizer and finally decided on a square column. (It was a demo of the four different styles available at the lumberyard where my husband worked. They switched companies and he brought it home.)Column Demo Makes a Side Table "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I started to take the CD organizer back downstairs when I realized it was very sturdy. We laid it on its side on the piano and put the TV on top of it. It worked!CD Organizer Raised TV "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I raised both TVs, and can watch them from any seat, without spending any money! It increased the square footage of the front room because the TV stand was a foot deeper. Between the narrow hutch and the mirrors, my room looks much larger.

This weekend look around your family room. Can you switch pieces and free up some square footage for your family this holiday? How about mounting a mirror on the wall across from the TV to let it be viewed by both sides of the room.

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Using All of the Dress

I fell in love with the dress, a red maxi, when I first saw it. (Red is my favorite color.) It was a designer dress sold for Valentine’s Day. I was searching for an Easter dress when I spotted it on clearance. It was now marked down to $14.97.

I ordered it for a Christmas dress. It is sleeveless, but I can wear a crew neck shirt underneath it or a sweater over it. I am really long-waisted, and to get the waist to fit, I have to order the tall size and cut three inches off of the bottom of the dress. I carefully measured, pinned, cut the three inches off, and re-hemmed it.

I tossed the three-inch strip in the garbage but pulled it right back out. Who knows, I may think of a way to use it. I wore the dress to a country wedding in August with a jean jacket and my red cowboy boots!

Last weekend was our “Weekend to Remember” get away and I took the red dress along to wear on the required date night. On impulse, I tossed in the extra material, too.

As I was dressing for our date, I noticed the ribbons used to keep the dress on the hanger had come loose. I pulled them off because I was afraid they would hang out and show.

Then I did my hair.

My hair didn’t cooperate. I am letting my bangs grow out and they curled down right into my eyes. I didn’t have hair spray with me and I knew my curls cannot be corralled with hairspray anyway. I took those two pieces of ribbon and tied them together. I put them on my head like a headband and tucked the bows behind my ears. It fit perfectly and kept those ornery bangs out of my eyes.Tied ribbons made headband ""Using all of the dress" frugalfish.org

I was so pleased with the effect of the ribbon, I decided to experiment with the extra material. I love those tutorials on how to fold a scarf. I tried a few I was familiar with but didn’t like the result.

Then I decided to tie the ends together making it an infinity scarf! It was so long that I had to wrap it around my head four times, but it covered the area of my neck that I am not fond of. It was high enough that I could still wear the heart necklace, with a rose in it, that was given to me by my youngest son for my birthday. I put on the matching rose earrings, my leather jacket, black pumps, and I was ready for a night on the town.Date at Hu Hot "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

I begged David to take me to HuHot a few times, but he was never interested. It thrilled me when he told me that was where he was taking me for date night! Shopping in the mall in pumps was not as thrilling, but I had a great time.HuHot Food "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

I’ve told you before to keep all ribbon. You never know when it will come in handy!

And learn a few simple ways to fold a scarf! The easiest way to learn is to ask a friend how she folded her scarf and let her demonstrate. There are also many tutorials on Pinterest. There are a few pinned to my Frugalfish Pinterest page on the “clothes” board.

$$$$$$$$$$$$

David: “McDonald’s for breakfast?”

Me: “Only if you serve it in bed!”

(And they call me “Frugalfish.”)

We had homework assignments at “Weekend to Remember” but were so tired the first night that we decided to do our homework at breakfast. We went to Perkins and I ordered Eggs Benedict for the first time. I always wanted to try them. It came with hash browns and a blueberry muffin. David had to help me finish the hash browns and I took the muffin and butter to go.

When we travel, we take a cooler with water, Powerade, assorted crackers, trail mix, and a variety of fruits. David got his breakfast at McDonald’s and I ate the blueberry muffin, a peach, and had a cup of the hotel coffee. He brought me back a fruit and yogurt and that made a filling, but inexpensive breakfast for the second day.Muffin, Peach, Coffee, "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

$$$$$$$$$$$$

“Weekend to Remember” is an investment in your marriage. It is expensive but is cheaper than a divorce! It’s never too late to save your marriage!

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October Birthday Decorations

Adults everywhere dread any birthday ending in zero. You know your friends are going to get you gag gifts, like a cane, or some bring reminders of death: skeleton, coffin, tombstone.

My birthday is in October, and though it is not ending in a zero this year, I don’t want my home decorated with skeletons, bats, coffins, tombstones, and other Halloween decorations. I usually have a few smiling Jack O’lanterns and put up fall decorations.

This year we will be celebrating 4 birthdays because my surgery canceled my oldest son’s dinner, and my husband’s birthday came before we could reschedule. My youngest son was born in early October and we decided to have one dinner for all the guys. They aren’t that big on parties anyway, but they love to eat! I decided to go all out and decorate the house with a birthday theme.

Starting with the wreath at the front door, I covered it with birthday bows and chose colors to coordinate with my October flag.October flag, "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The wreath is between the door and the screen door. It is visible, but out of the wind. I just used packing tape on the back of each bow.Wreath of bows "October Birthday Decorations, frugalfish.org

I used primary colors as my palate for the rest of the decorations. Blue, green, and orange towels were topped with a red washcloth, yellow bow, and tied together with a yellow ribbon. I tied the ends of the ribbon together behind the towels.Ribbon wrapped towels "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The bow is secured with a pearl-topped florists pin that I pushed through the center of it. It is a long pin from a corsage.Florist pin secures ribbon "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The inspirational print was given to me by my daughter-in-law and I chose to display it because of the rainbow-colored font. The red candle, surrounded by corn meal, fit with my color scheme and I left it. The gold trim in the candle holder matched the gold trim in the picture frame.Picture with rainbow colored font "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The same type of font was used on a birthday mug I hung from a hook. It was given to me on a dreaded birthday ending with a zero.Birthday Mug "October Birthday Decorations

The Precious Moments Cup with my name on it is displayed in the china cabinet. The lavender color did not go with my theme!Precious Moments Pam Cup "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

Last month I shared my trick of using the back sides of table runners, see here. I flipped my apple table runner to the navy side, folded a red napkin into the same shape and placed it on top. An orange Jack O’lantern and green pumpkins added 2 more colors of the rainbow. I topped the pumpkin with a yellow bow for my birthday theme.October Tablescape "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The dining table has 2 table runners layered over a red tablecloth. I used white pumpkins here and brought in yellow and green with flameless candles. The centerpiece is a fake angel food cake, see here.October Rainbow Birthday Tablescape "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

I stuck a “Happy Birthday” sign left over from a cake into the center of a decorated balloon weight to balance out the figurine on the other side.Birthday Balloon Weight "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

See, there are touches of Halloween, the figurine is of three children dressed as ghosts.Ghostly kids figurine "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

My children’s Halloween crafts are displayed on the shelf going up the stairs. I loved seeing their work from kindergarten and the clever items my daughter made in Girl Scouts.Children's Crafts "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.orgBlack Cat from crushed pop can "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

There’s another Jack O’lantern on a shelf in the kitchen.Jack O'lantern candle "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

Over the years, I have received some pretty funny gag gifts. These fake balloons were made for me a few years ago. They brought them in holding the balloons up high. It is actually balloons made of card stock. I love a good joke and decided to display them this year.Fake Balloons "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

I didn’t spend any money decorating for Halloween and when it is over, I won’t be looking for Halloween decorations on sale, I will be in the birthday aisle!

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Still Learning from Mom

I almost threw it away several times. It was a wide pink bow with an ivory lace overlay that at one time was attached to a barrette. I probably wore it in my hair a few times back in the 80’s. The barrette was long gone and I put the bow in my bag of miscellaneous ribbons, see here.

Mom called after a disaster with her favorite jacket. She noticed a spot on it and tried to clean it off with a wet wipe. It changed the color of the dye on that spot. She had a rust-colored spot on her tan jacket.Rust colored stain, "Still Learning From Mom" frugalfish.org

She knows I enjoy sewing, see here, and asked me if I could sew a piece of lace over the spot. We went through my collection of lace and didn’t find anything that was wide enough. Then I remembered the pink barrette.

I took the bow apart and removed the ivory lace. I laid it over the buttons on the jacket and found it was long enough. It was also wide enough to cover the discolored spot.

A week or so later, I turned on a movie and sewed the lace on the jacket by hand. I cut tiny slits in the center of the lace at each button and eased the buttons through the slits. I tucked the ends under and that piece of lace was the perfect length. It took me the entire movie to hand sew the lace on and ease the buttons through the slits, but it was a labor of love. After all, she labored to give me life!Tan Jacket with lace accent, "Still learning from Mom" frugalfish.org

I learned to never use a baby wipe or wet wipe on stained clothing! It is better to use cold water or just wait until you get home and can treat the stain properly.

See, I’m still learning from my Mom! Save those pieces of lace! You never know when it will come in handy.

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September Decoration Flip

Derek was not impressed when I got out my flag for September. He was hoping for colorful leaves and pumpkins. He was not expecting the apples!Fall Flag, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

But September is still warm; it was 80° yesterday. Everything is still green and you can run around barefoot.Barefoot girls on Vase, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

It is also when the fruit ripens; pears, apples, and grapes are on sale.Pear Candle, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Rubber grapes make a nice bow on my plain wooden wreath.Wooden wreath with grapes, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Apples and leaves are my themes for this month, mainly because I had a new, flameless candle, embedded with leaves. I set it on my apple runner and put “Apple Salt and Pepper” shakers on each side.Leaf candle with apple salt & pepper shakers, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Instead of putting my decorative dishes in the china cabinet, I put them on the shelf leading to the basement and filled them with apple/cinnamon potpourri.Dishes filled with apple cinnamon potpourri, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Now for My Secrets!

There are three leaf-shaped votive candles on top of wooden napkin rings on the tiny shelf by the door. Underneath, a mug with gold leaves on it.Leaf-shaped votive candles on wooden napkin rings, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

On the windowsill between the kitchen and dining room, I put a plaque and two votive candles.Plaque and candles, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

The candles were not tall enough. I filled the votive holders with cornmeal to raise them up!Cornmeal raises candle, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

On the dining room table, I put a burgundy tablecloth and a red runner for the two different shades of apples. This runner is tone on tone and the backside blended with the tablecloth better. I removed the tag and you cannot tell it is the backside. Apple, acorn, candle, centerpiece, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

A leaf brooch dresses up the towels in the bathroom.Leaf brooch on towels, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Without a washcloth in the color I desired, I used the “spring” washcloth and folded the decorated side over the back.Tuck decorated portion of towel behind, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Those are my “September Decorating Flips:”

  1. Use a napkin ring as a votive candle holder or small pine cone holder.
  2. Use cornmeal, or popcorn, to raise a small candle up to the desired level.
  3. Flip your table runner and remove the tag.
  4. Tuck the decorated side of a washcloth behind to have a plain colored washcloth.

I didn’t spend any money to decorate for September; since I picked up the leaf candle last winter on clearance. You can see different ways I used these same decorations on my Pinterest page!

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Summer Decorating Secrets

Today is the first day of the Iowa State Fair! (Cue the music: “Our state fair is a great state fair…”) I had such a good time last year; I used my “State Fair” cup in my summer decorating! You can see how we saved money at the fair last year here.cookie cutter, cup, and keys

I promised to show you may tricks and secrets on Tuesday. The runner on the kitchen table is actually my St. Patrick’s Day runner turned over.Candle in bowl with flowers on table runner

The runner on the dining room table isn’t a runner at all! It is 2 napkins strategically folded. Another example of using napkins to make a runner is here.2 folded napkins

There is a rose pin attached to the washcloth in my bathroom. The roses in the towels are light pink to dark pink. The pin is actually red!Red rose pin

Colors do not have to match exactly, they have to agree. Another example of decorating with colors that agree is here.

I hope these secrets give you an idea of another way to use a decorative item in your home.

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My Summer Decorations

Last week, I showed you my “Iowa Summer Wreath.” It consisted of the many shades of green in Iowa during the summer. Along with the green, there is every color in the rainbow shown in our flowers. I wanted to reflect both in my decorating.

My kitchen table has a simple green runner with a floral, ceramic, mixing bowl. Inside the bowl are a flameless candle and three napkin rings that have flowers on them. Candle in bowl on table runner

You can see the detail on the on the other two mixing bowls displayed in the china cabinet.Floral Mixing bowls in china cabinet

The dining room table has a butterfly vignette as a centerpiece. There are two plaques with butterflies on them, a butterfly cookie cutter, and a tiny book about butterflies. I put the other three napkin rings in a tiny watering can.Butterfly-themed centerpiece on table runner.

The window sill, between the kitchen and living room, has a small painting of a green, glass vase, full of multi-colored flowers. The glass in the fish-shaped candle matches the vase in the painting. Fish-shaped candle and painting.

I displayed my tiny ceramic pieces on the shelf leading down the stairs. Ceramic garden figures on shelf

Iowa’s state flower is the Wild Prairie Rose. I included roses in the throw on the couch and the matching hand painted pillow.Roses throw with hand-painted rose pillow.

I also used roses when I set out towels in the bathroom. The rose towel compliments the green hand towel with an applique rose. As a final touch, I added a small rose-shaped pin.Pin on towels

Total spent? Zero. Zip. Zilch. (I will let you in on a few secrets Thursday.)

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Iowa Summer Wreath

Usually, after July 4th, I get out my sea shells and other decorations that depict a vacation. But – I live in Iowa and there is no ocean! Iowa has a beauty all its own. In July, there are several shades of green. I decided to decorate with the beauty of Iowa.

I started with my wreath…and it did not go well. I couldn’t find the colors of material in large enough sizes to tie them around the hearts. Finally, I decided to pin them.Material pinned to wreath

Iowa skies are the prettiest blue when the sun is shining. We also get a sufficient amount of rain. Some days the clouds are puffy like cotton balls and on other days, they are wispy.

I wanted to include all the shades of green:

  1. The green corn fields before the tassels appear.
  2. The grassy green of the lawns.
  3. The greens of the clover and alfalfa fields.
  4. The greens of the woods with their evergreens.

I believe I captured most of the shades. I decided to add decorative elements to each heart, to help you tell which green it represented. That meant I raided my decorations from other holidays: corn from Thanksgiving, grass from Easter, and a pine cone from Fall. The most unusual element is a green bee that came from some toy. It must have been from one of the cousins’ toys when they visited because none of my kids could figure out where it came from. I almost threw it away a multitude of times. I’m glad I kept it. It looks cool on the fabric covered with clovers.Iowa Summer Wreath

Next week, I’ll show you the rest of my summer decorations.

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Christmas Gift Projects

Christmas decorations and supplies are in stores. Some are upset and feel like we are rushing the season. But, for those of us who are crafty and make some of our gifts, we are happy to see it.

In May, the rage on Pinterest was patriotic, bandanna wreaths. I wanted to make one using my existing wreath. Imagine my surprise, when I went to Hobby Lobby a week before Memorial Day and found they were out of the red, white, and blue bandannas! I had a red one at home but had to go to 2 different stores to buy blue and white ones.

Don’t let that happen to you!

Christmas is six months away. If you would like to make gifts, now is the time to start! Get supplies while there is a good selection and you have plenty of time to complete it. I spent one Christmas Eve finishing up sewing projects and I don’t recommend it!

If you would like to make gifts, here are a few ideas:

Dehydrated Herbs

Jar of dehydrated parsley

Homegrown, dehydrated parsley.

Individual Freezer Apple Pies

Top of jar

I put labels with the baking directions on top of the jars.

Carved Wooden Statue

Man by carved wood ear of corn

It took one month from start to finish.

Blanket-Stitched Kitchen Towels

2 Christmas towels

The kitchen towels I added blanket-stitch yarn to for Christmas gifts.

Puzzle Board

Board with partially finished puzzle on it

My puzzle board.

Coffee Mug Cozie

Cup with knitted Cozie around it

Coffee Cup Cozie

Painted Picture Frames

Picture with a painted frame.

The pictures third frame

Scarf

Sashay scarves on a table runner

Two Sashay yarn scarves I knitted.

Tee Shirt Quilt

Tee shirt quilt

Tee shirt quilt I made for my son.

 It’s time to go through your craft items to see what you already have on hand.

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