Bargain Alert!

I found a great product, just arriving in The Dollar Tree stores, that won’t last!  And if you don’t think you need them, you may change your mind when you check out the suggestions I have for their use!

What is it?  Large bamboo poles (apx. 5 ft. tall x 1″ – 2″ in diameter).  Although they vary slightly, in height & diameter, I found most of them to be fairly large.  Typically, bamboo poles cost $5-$7 each in DIY, craft or floral supply stores and  make great decorative accents.  At this price ($1.00), they are very affordable and will provide inexpensive inspiration for you!

Here’s what they look like (in the store) to make it easier for you to spot them, or when asking your local Dollar Tree staff where to find them. I found them hovering between the (teeny) craft section and toy dept.

s_reeds_distance_red

Distance photo (for size scale)

s_reeds_closeup_red

By the way,  I didn’t see this item on their website, so it is probably an “in-store” item only.

The first (and easiest!) suggestion I have for you is to place a few inside a large planter, vase or pot to use as a trending, contemporary and nearly care-free decoration (just a little dusting once in a while).  It would look great inside OR (because they’re weatherproof) outside, as seen in one of the photos below:

76118_0_8-8338-contemporary-living-room

Consider a greenery base to avoid dust inside the container

Great with the new, trending Asian decor

The perfect accent with the current, popular trend of Asian decor

Consider adding a light!

Add lighting (in container) for a super-contemporary look

s_vase_1_red

Because they are weatherproof, they make the perfect outdoor accent

Another great idea is to use them to create your own fencing.  There are tons of DIY instructions for many versions of this type of project (on the internet),

from easy to complex!

bamboo bountyfence

Bamboo_fence_backyard xscapes

You could also use them as inexpensive curtain rods, “as-is”, spray painted or bundled!

gardeners cottage blog_curtain rod

photo courtesy of The Gardener’s Cottage.
For a thicker rod, bundle several together & use 2 pre-made finials or unique wine bottle stoppers as finials

etsy bamboo rod

photo courtesy of etsy shop “Copper Bamboo”

And if you’re handy enough to hang a couple of rod holders on the wall, you could use them as a shower curtain rod in a tropical-themed bathroom:

Bamboo-Shower-Curtain-Rod

Create your own floor lamp!  Or cut smaller pieces for a table lamp.

lamp

Or how about an accent to a wedding reception centerpiece?

wedding reception

Need something sturdy to help you support your garden greens?

garden

How about making a DIY frame to hold bamboo creating an inexpensive Privacy Screen… inside OR outside your home?

Adding some lighting creates even more ambiance!

bamboo fencer blog_bamboo-room-divider

OR, do you need a privacy screen from the “Sun”?  Then, use them to create a cover for your pergola.

photo courtesy of Beautiful Bamboo Blogspot

photo courtesy of Beautiful Bamboo Blogspot

Ok, as long as we’re talking back yard, HERE’S a project for ya!  Buy a bunch to create your own Tiki Bar.  LOL 😉

tiki bar

I absolutely LOVE how great they look glued to the back OR front of a mirror to create inexpensive wall art!

[clicking on either of the next 2 photos will open a separate internet window with each of these creative blogger’s free tutorials]
2.15 Mirror 1

photo courtesy of Savvydesignwest.com

photo courtesy of Domestically Speaking blog

photo courtesy of Domestically Speaking blog

And, of course, my favorite…. as part of a fountain… ahhhh serenity!

safaffect blog_fountain

photo courtesy of Saaffect.wordpress blog

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

Cure the Winter Blues with a FUN Snowflake Breakfast!

[As always, CLICK ON any photo to view it larger & in more detail]

With the holidays behind us (booooo), I tend to get a little down 😦 so I came up with a fun, new Winter tradition to pick up mine and my family’s spirits … The Snowflake Breakfast!

cuttersSTEP ONE – look for a metal, snowflake-shaped cookie cutter.  I just found a 4-pack at Wal-Mart for $2.88 that’s probably on sale now (woo-hoo!).  The reason you need a metal cutter is so it can withstand the heat of your frying pan or griddle.

STEP TWO – dust off your favorite recipe to whip up a batch of pancake batter.  Mine is chocolate chip!  🙂

STEP THREE – spray your frying pan or griddle AND the “inside” of a large snowflake cookie cutter with non-stick cooking spray.

s_snowflake cutter_sprayed

STEP FOUR – Spoon some pancake batter into the snowflake cutter, spreading it evenly into each arm of the snowflake.

s_snowflake cutter_with pancake mix

STEP FIVE – Brown the pancake on 1 side and use a spatula and the side of your pan to help you flip the pancake AND snowflake cutter (together) to begin browning the opposite side of the pancake.

s_snowflake cutter_pancake

STEP SIX – While the opposite side of the pancake is browning, use a knife to begin loosening it from the side of the snowflake cutter.

st_snowflake cutter loosen

STEP SEVEN – Gently remove the snowflake cutter, and when done, remove the pancake from the pan.

s_snowflake cutter_removed

STEP EIGHT – Make an inexpensive snowflake tree to use as a centerpiece on your Snowflake Breakfast table!  Gather branches from outside and spray paint them white.  HINT:  Leave any berries or buds on the branches for added texture and detail.  Cut a piece of styrofoam to fit in the bottom of a vase you have on hand.  Arrange the painted & now dry branches in your vase to create a winter tree, using the styrofoam to hold them in place.  Disguise the styrofoam with inexpensive Epsom Salts to simulate fresh fallen snow.

branches in salt

STEP NINE – Hang snowflakes in any windows and on the branches of your new winter tree and place in the center of your breakfast table.

DR_breakfast_closeup

STEP TEN – Years ago, I was lucky enough to find snowflake plates at J.C. Penny (on clearance.. whoo-hoo!) and snowflake glasses at Target, but you can use paper plates with a snowflake theme to duplicate this look on a budget.  I found the over-sized white snowflakes at a dollar store…. they make great place mats!  Finally, I recycled my snowflake pillows, lantern and snowflake candle (used in the family room at Christmas) to create more wintry ambiance on the  side table underneath my window of snowflakes.

s_DR_candle 2

Check out the entire Snowflake Breakfast setting… it’s festive and happy and because it’s “the unexpected”, it will provide everyone in your home with the perfect prescription for the post-holiday, winter blues!!

s_DR full_2

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

12 Gifts for 12 Personality-types for $10… or Less!!

[CLICK ON ANY PHOTO to view it larger]

Still scratching your head for gift ideas?  Well, since we have finally reached the 12 days of Christmas, here’s some budget-friendly suggestions that I hope will help.  Each one is $10 or less and some of them even make terrific stocking stuffers!

mags

For the Reader, Crafter or Hobbyist – a magazine on their favorite topic (there are TONS of new ones out there!)  Simply wrap it around their favorite sipping beverage and tie it closed with a length of ribbon, tied in a bow!

tire gauge

For those who have to spend a lot of time in their car

a Digital Tire Gauge is not only easier to use, but a great reminder to keep their tires inflated, for safety and better gas mileage,

-OR-

a Personalized Car (removable) Decal for their car window.

Consider their Monogram:

initial decal

Tons of these on ETSY

Family Members:

Click on photo for website

Click on photo for website

Or Fill in the Blank to create a Customized Decal:

Click on photo for site

Click on photo for website

For the Gardener – a basket of herbs.  Recycle one of your own baskets & tuck in 3 easy-to-grow, popular herbs.  My favs are Rosemary (Roasting small potatoes in fresh garlic, rosemary and olive oil is SOOO DELISH!), Cilantro & Parsley

Photo courtesy of www.Givingplants.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.Givingplants.com

For the Cosmetic-aholic – I know the store of “choice” these days is ULTA, however… I have found a new, inexpensive brand of make-up in Target, called “ELF” (LOL- this brand sounds as if it might have been made just for me, but actually, it stands for “Eyes, Lips, Face”).  It’s incredibly inexpensive and everything I’ve purchased works just as well, if not better, than the expensive brands!  Some facts I learned about them… they are: eyeliner

  • High quality
  • Hypoallergenic and non-comodogenic and their ingredients are listed, for each product
  • NOT tested on animals nor do they endorse such practices
  • NOT derived nor do they contain animal ingredients
  • Supportive of HSUS and are partners with PETA in the Caring Consumer Project

My favorite is the creme eyeliner and it comes in 11 colors, glides on like butter and stays in place without cracking or smudging.  Best of all… it’s only $3!  Here’s their website for more product review: http://www.eyeslipsface.com.

soap barAnd if you’d like to introduce someone to more natural products, consider a bar of natural soap, or make it yourself.  Once you’ve tried natural soaps, you’ll never go back!

For the Snacker, 2 suggestions (and P.S. – making several of these, at once, is a great gift idea for co-workers, neighbors, teachers, salon employees, etc.) –

Mini trays of either veggies & dip OR fruit & dip OR both!  Who wouldn’t enjoy receiving a healthy snack they didn’t have to make themselves?  And if you choose to give the fruit, don’t forget to try my family’s heirloom Fruit Cream Dip (the “How To” is located under the RECIPE tab on my website).  Party stores have small (condiment-size), lidded plastic containers or ask your local restaurant if you can have or purchase some of these to use with the dip so it won’t spill on the way.

a_veggie tray

If you would prefer to satisfy their sweet tooth, try your hand at making these easy cocoa dippers.  Purchase mugs (Dollar Tree), small box of regular-size candy canes

candy canes semi sweet morsels   marshmallows

peppermint chips

regular-size marshmallows, a bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels and a bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips.mug and cane

Break off a section of the tail-end of a candy cane (so the remainder can hang freely from the  lip of the mugs, with apx. 1-1/2″ to spare, to allow room for the marshmallow). see photo on right for approximate length

Push the broken end end of the candy cane into a marshmallow.  Melt the  mini chocolate morsels and roll one end of the marshmallow in it.

a_cane in marshmallow    a_coating marshmallow

Crush some of the Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (with the back of a spoon).  After dipping the marshmallow in the chocolate, immediately roll the chocolate end of the marshmallow in the semi-crushed chips.

a_crushing peppermints     a_completed

Allow to dry/harden and you will now have the most wonderful treat, when used as a hot cocoa dipper!  Place 1 or 2 in a plastic baggie, use ribbon to tie it closed and tuck it into a mug with a packet of hot cocoa mix.  Wrap it up or give it just like that!

cocoa dipper

For the CookCL mag

the 25th Anniversary issue of COOKING LIGHT just came out, with all of their best recipes, in magazine form so that really keeps the cost down!

Upgrade or replace one of their older cooking utensils, i.e. an ergonomic potato peeler or a sturdy, bamboo wooden spoon or spatula, etc.  Or, introduce them to a new kitchen tool on the market, ldishwasher 1ike a funnier dishwasher alert magnet or unique drink “ice mold”Eek!  Shark Fins! like the shark fin one pictured here. LOL

wine stopper

Target

For the wine connoisseur – Bottle Notes!  This new tool doubles as a bottle stopper and note board (write dates or how the wine tasted to you on this mini dry erase board)

For the Entertainer

Handmade set of Coasters (I love this idea I found on a website called Crafting Green World.com) and I included the link for details & directions:

scrabblecoaster

Click on photo to visit site

For the Organizer – dec hooks

Who couldn’t use a little extra hanging space, but not all of us are handy.  Solution:  look at how beautifully dressy “over-the-door” hangers have become!

baster duoFor the Grill Master –

2-Pack of Basters with reservoirs

grill light

Click on photo for link

Magnetic, battery-operated, LED Grill Light (found this one at Bed,Bath & Beyond for $8.99).

Or, an Apron with pockets for tools AND slots for drinks! (disclaimer: okay, I found this on the internet for $13.90 so it’s a little pricier, but provided they don’t fall over -with the weight- what a funny gift!)

grill apron

For the Designer – a decorative tile featuring their home to display on a stand…. turning it into a design feature!  This is totally do-able if you are artistic.  If not, you can always take a photo of their house and transfer it to the tile (here’s a link for directions I found on whatIlivefor.com: http://www.whatilivefor.net/2010/06/mod-podge-photo-transfers.html).

house tile_a

HELPFUL HINTS:  1)If you don’t have a laser printer, most copy shops do, and 2) be sure to find out the “Year” they moved in so you can hand paint “Established _____” somewhere on the tile also.

batonFor (my favorite) the Sentimentalist –

This requires a little detective work, accomplished by having some 1-on-1 time with the gift recipient so you can (covertly) ask questions & garner “CLUES”about their youth, i.e. favorite hobby, toy, an old skill they have that you didn’t know anything about, etc.  Doing this will give you an idea about something sentimental that you can help them revisit, via a gift.  For example, I just found out (during one of those 1-on-1 times) that a BFF used to be a majorette.  So, I headed to the toy store and brought a $7.99 hot pink baton, which I plan to wrap & give to her as a sentimental LOL.  She’s going to LOVE it!!  And you better believe that I plan to ask for a demonstration of her whirling & twirling skills of old… I can’t wait! 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS and…

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

P.S.  Next week’s blog post... a Yummy SNOWFLAKE BREAKFAST!

How to make – Large, faux CHRISTMAS CANDY Decorations

Every year, pool owners purchase these inexpensive (apx. $1.00 each) 5-foot, foam “noodle” floats.  Eventually, they fade and are, many times, thrown out.   As always, I LOVE to think of ways to recycle and repurpose things (instead of adding to the landfill) and came up with a creative idea, using  retired pool noodles.  Of course, you can also buy them new (on clearance – post summer!) to make this project too.

My vision was to create several large, faux candies (for holiday decorating), mainly because they’re lightweight and won’t weigh down (tree, wreath & garland) greenery … PLUS, they’re inexpensive!

ONE

Begin by deciding approximately how long you would like to make each piece of candy (I chose 9″) and divide that number into the total length of the pool noodle to determine how many you’ll be able to cut from each one.  Mark (that individual measurement) along the length of the pool noodle (using a black marker) and then, carefully cut (using a knife) through the foam at each marking, on a safe surface.  I ended up with six (6) lengths, apx. 9″ each.

TWO

Choose a gift wrap, scrapbook or tissue paper to cover them with and cut pieces large enough to wrap each (cut) foam piece and wide enough so you have extra to fold down at each end of the foam piece (to hide the end of the foam).

To create a neat closure, fold over one end (of the length) and place one foam piece, in the center, at the other end.

Before you roll the foam piece up in the paper, add 3 pieces of double-sided tape along the length of the fold, half on the folded paper and half on the underneath (blank) side of the paper.

Now, when you roll up the foam piece, the tape will automatically secure the paper (closed).  Unless you want to, don’t worry if the pattern doesn’t match up perfectly because that will be the “back side” of your ornament.

Fold down the paper on each end and use a piece of regular scotch tape to secure it.

 

THREE

Repeat the paper cutting process (above), but this time using clear, plastic basket wrap.  This time, however, make sure the length is even longer (by 6″).

Place your gift-wrapped foam length in the center of the plastic wrap, at one end of the width.  Before you roll it up, once again, add 3 small pieces of double-sided tape on the other end (of the width) so the plastic wrap will automatically close, after rolling up the foam candy in it.  Also, try to line up the 2 closures (paper & plastic wrap) and that can be the back side of your ornament.

FOUR

Cut two (2) lengths of ribbon, using one to tie each end (of the plastic wrap) closed, displaying the bow on the front/top side of the ornament.

When you’re done, you’ll have inexpensive, lightweight Christmas candy decorations for approximately 50 cents each.  I found that mine tucked into my holiday greenery easily without the aid of a hanger.  But, if you’re using them to decorate garland, add a length of fishing line (tying it to each end, before adding your ribbon) as an ornament hanger.

I’m excited to share with you how I used mine in one of The Seasonal Home 2012 Christmas designs this year… so stay tuned… COMING SOON! 🙂

And don’t forget to consider this idea for other holidays!

ENJOY THE CREATIVITY!

Eileen

Annual “WELCOME FALL!” Picnic

[CLICK ON ANY PHOTO, for a more detailed & larger view]

This weekend was our Annual “WELCOME FALL!” Picnic at The Seasonal Home… a celebration that I started, several years ago, with the daughters of one of my best friends (who happens to live next door). The first year, it was simply my way of giving her a little parent-break, but has now become an annual tradition. Once my boys were grown, I really missed the creativity of doing fun things like this so now, I’m creating new memories with my 2 sweet neighbors – Emme and Gretta.

This celebration is our way of welcoming in the Autumnal Equinox (a/k/a Fall) and even though it is usually still hot outside, a good fan and our imaginations help us pretend that it’s breezy & cool. Here’s a peek at some of our fun, in case you want to start this tradition yourself.

We always have our picnic first. This year, we decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches (cut into pumpkins), homemade sweet potato fries (Sandra Lee’s recipe, Food Network), and diced apples over graham cracker crumbs with a drizzle of hot caramel (an idea we thought up ourselves). P.S. If you ever want to see a young child have fun, give them some graham crackers in a plastic bag and show them how to turn them into crumbs, using a wooden rolling pin – hilarious!

For dessert, we made a healthier chocolate muffin from a new mix called “Simple Mornings”. They served as our cupcakes, topped with a little homemade cream cheese frosting (Food Network recipe), sprinkles and a small, candy pumpkin.

We had SO much fun making all the food… together!

Of course, we decorated for our picnic too! I found over-sized, felt, fall leaves (in 3 different colors) at The Dollar Tree and we simply used a piece of fishing line to hang them from the pergola beams.

They looked so pretty (moving), when a breeze finally kicked up! Check it out in this short YouTube video I made:

With the addition of a few scarecrows, pumpkins and fall flowers, we were ready to enjoy our “WELCOME FALL” picnic.

And funny enough, every year, we seem to be visited by a representative of Mother Nature. Last year, it was a caterpillar and this year, we enjoyed the company of a beautiful & HUGE Swallowtail Butterfly, who really liked the flowers in my up-cycled wheelbarrow Fairy Garden.

And he didn’t even seem to mind that I was following him around with my camera.

The girls were really hoping he would land on their fingers.

Once he fluttered off, it was time for lunch!

Uhhh… please ignore the well done sweet potato fries – they were the unfortunate casualty of our hectic kitchen preparation.

Once we saw that a few of our fries were slightly overcooked, the girls tried to make lemonade out of lemons by suggesting that “maybe adding some ketchup will help”…. soooooo sweet!

After we ate, it was time for crafts and games! We usually have an apple bobbing contest, but little Gretta is about to lose a front tooth, so we decided to try some new things this year.

So, first up…. a little painting of face masks.

And ta-dum…. the cute, personalized results. Hey, that looks a awful lot like my hair!!

Next, a competitive game of Halloween B-I-N-G-O. Check out the concentration on their faces (LOL).

And last, but not least…. a game of PIN THE HAT ON THE WITCH.

I’m not sure who was the best spinner or worst pin-er, but when you’re having fun, the results don’t really matter.

First up was Gretta….

Hmmm… close! Then, it was Emme’s turn.

In the end, it really didn’t matter who won because I had gathered a few inexpensive, special treats, as a surprise for both of the girls.

I found a cute $1.00 pumpkin box (Wal mart) to place them all in and added a “Happy 1st Day of Fall” note to each.

Once we headed back inside (we had enjoyed the Florida heat & humidity quite enough, thank you very much!), the girls had fun opening their goodie boxes.

Two of their favorite things were the Spider rings, modeled here by Emme –

and a small bag of the newest M & M flavor “Candy Corn White Chocolate”…. YUM!

In the end, we all agreed we had tons of fun and that cupcakes taste even better in air-conditioned comfort! (LOL)

I hope we inspired you to consider starting your own “Welcome Fall Picnic” tradition. 🙂

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

FALL, HALLOWEEN & THANKSGIVING – 3 Looks in 5 minutes or less!

[Click on any photo for a more detailed view]

This may sound strange, but for me… FALL is a tough time of year, when it comes to decorating.  It’s hard to decide whether I want to be surrounded by a Fall, Halloween or Harvest (Thanksgiving) look because I love all 3!  Good news though because, this year, I came up with a solution!  And although I created these looks for my fireplace, I think they would be a great “fit” for a foyer too.

To start, I kept it simple, using…

  • Inexpensive, fall garlands (doubled for a fuller look) with 2 strands of orange lights added-in for warmth & whimsy.
  • (Faux) pumpkins & gourds of all sizes [Hint: I finally own a collection of these because I bought them after they were placed on clearance, and you’ll find small ones at dollar stores]
  • Pumpkin-filled wreath
  • 2 bunches of gathered twigs that I added twine & fall leaves to after spraying them with a Wood Tone Spray Paint (can of diluted, brown spray paint, available at craft stores) by Design Master
  • 2 orange candles on black candlesticks (both found on clearance.  Shop for orange candles during Christmas time & don’t forget, if a bargain candlestick is not the color you need… paint it!)
  • F-A-L-L sign (letters painted on wood blocks).

So, this created a beautiful Fall feel and the base for my Halloween AND Thanksgiving decor too!

A fun whimsical touch that I also added to this look  –  Fall leaves hanging on fishing line, at various lengths, which I taped underneath the mantle to create a “falling leaf” look.  Also in this photo, you’ll spot Brick Clips being used to hang up my F-A-L-L sign, suspended from fishing line.  If you want to hang something from a 2 to 2-1/2″ brick (inside or out), these blend in really well & work great!  You’ll find them in most DIY & discount dept. stores.

The next look is Halloween and I changed or added a total of 6 things to create it:  (1) replaced the orange candles with 2 Spider themed ones.  (Check out my STORE , if you’d like to purchase some of these items)

(2) placed an orange spider web in the center of the wreath…

  (3) exchanged the fall leaves (hanging from the mantle, on fishing line) with black spiders and (4) replaced the F-A-L-L sign with a Halloween one featuring a black crow and the word “NEVERMORE”…

(5) added black (dollar store) crows on top of a few of the pumpkins (a hidden piece of packing tape is your friend here, to keep the crows in place! lol)

and finally… (6) turned around the center pumpkin because it is actually a lighted, faux Jack ‘o Lantern!  For the original Fall look, I wanted to display it as a regular pumpkin, so I used packing tape on the back of a leaf and placed it over the hole (to hide) where the single light bulb is usually inserted (p.s. a leaf lying on a random pumpkin is what actually gave me the idea that leaves should be falling from the mantel and the fishing line idea was born!)

 

For the Halloween look, I removed the Fall leaf, flipped the pumpkin around (to the Jack side), and plugged the light cord into the light strand (already in the Fall garland) –  adding the perfect, final touch to my 5-minute Halloween makeover!

For Thanksgiving, I basically put back the Fall look, but added a Pilgrim couple (also in my store)  in 2 different locations – the center of the wreath and on the mantel, among the leaves.  See which one you like best…

So, there you have it – 3 Fall designs where changing the original won’t take you more than 5 minutes, each time.  Have fun decorating and…

ENJOY THE CREATIVITY!

Eileen

Fall is coming! :-)

Fall 

(a/k/a The Autumnal Equinox)

arrives Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 10:49 a.m.

It’s such a wonderful time of year and so much fun to decorate for, so here’s a little, early “outdoor” inspiration from around The Seasonal Home…

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