Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Owl Fall Yarn Wreath with Chicken Wire and Burlap Flowers

I started this wreath over two years ago before we moved.  We used to live in an allotment, so I had a nice porch and had pretty wreaths.  Now we live in a farm house 0.2 of a mile from the road and I don't have a porch.   That's partly why this wreath sat for so long, but the other part was because I had the wreath yarn wrapped and the felt owl, but it just would not stay glued to the wreath.  I was going to put it right on the wreath, but it kept falling off.  I finally set everything aside until I got another idea.

Since we have chickens now and my 8-year-old absolutely loves them, quite a few chicken decorations have made their way to our dining room.  I was looking around, moving stuff around, and it hit me.  Chicken wire!  Why can't I put chicken wire behind the wreath and attach the owl to that?  So I did.  And here's how I did it.

Owl Fall Wreath with Chicken Wire

I had already wrapped the straw wreath with yarn, so I don't have photos of that.  It's super easy though.  Just tie the yarn around the wreath and wrap it around.  Keep wrapping until your arm feels like it's going to fall off, then wrap some more to finish it.

Owl Fall Wreath with Chicken Wire

I found the felt owl at Pat Catan's.  I didn't know what I wanted to do with it, but I knew that I had to own it.  These are the easy burlap flowers that I made.

The first thing I wanted to do was attach the chicken wire to the back of the wreath.

I just laid the wire on top of the wreath and use wire cutters to cut the chicken wire.

Now I had a problem.  My chicken wire was curved because it's been on a roll forever.  No problem, I'll just staple it down.  Note: you can not staple chicken wire to a wreath.

On to plan B.  Hot glue.

The wire just kept bending again, so what I did was glue a spot and hold it until the glue was cooled.  The wire transfers the heat, so use a pencil eraser to push the wire down.

Once the first spot was stuck, I went directly across the wreath and did it again.  Then I moved around the wreath and glued.  I glued every 2-4 inches and held it down until the glue dried.

Once I had the chicken wire securely attached, I flipped the wreath over and put it on  silicon mat so I could attach the owl.  I glued around the edges of the owl and pressed it down until the glue dried.

Owl Fall Wreath with Chicken Wire

Then I placed my burlap flowers around it until I was happy with the placement.  I used hot glue to attach those too.

Owl Fall Wreath with Chicken Wire

I really liked the burlap, but I thought it needed a little something else.  I grabbed my box of buttons and found some fall colored ones and put them in the middle of the flowers.

Owl Fall Wreath with Chicken Wire

Perfect!  The buttons gave it just the right amount of color.  I added some burlap at the top for some balance and to hang it with.

Owl Fall Wreath with Chicken Wire
This is going to hang in my living room because no one will see it on my door, so I might as well enjoy it myself.  I have owls on my shelves and on a ledge near the ceiling, so it fits right in.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Make Easy Burlap Flowers Without Sewing

This morning, I decided that today was the day I finished my fall wreath that I started two years ago.  Yes, you read that right.  Two years ago!  I had found the most hideously ugly but huge straw wreath at a thrift store.  It was just begging to come home with me for a redo.  I found the main thing I wanted on it, but then I had a road block.  I finally got a great idea, and I made it today.  I'll show you the wreath later this week.  First, I want to show you the burlap flowers that I made.  I've used a couple of tutorials to make itty bitty flowers, but I needed these to be a bit larger.  This technique is so much easier than how I made my other ones, and I think it looks great on my wreath.

These are so quick to make too.  I made 8 of them in under an hour, and that included gathering supplies, letting my glue gun warm up, testing one, photographing one, and making the rest of them.  Once you do on, you could do each one in just a few minutes.  Grab your glue gun and burlap and meet me back here to learn how to make these burlap flowers.  

I used burlap ribbon because the edges are sealed.  You can use a yard of fabric and trim it, but it might shed a little bit.

Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission from sales.  

How to Make Easy Burlap Flowers Without Sewing

What You Need

  • 12" piece of burlap ribbon 2.5" wide (I got mine from Consumer Crafts, but you can also find it on Amazon)
  • Glue gun (having a cute glue gun pad to sit it on helps too)
  • Pencil 
    How to Make Burlap Flowers
  1. Turn over the bottom edge of the burlap ribbon and glue to make a seam.  Since the glue runs right through the fabric, do this on your glue gun pad or a silicon mat.  I started gluing the entire width of the ribbon, but then I started doing half at a time so it was easier to handle.    
    How to Make Burlap Flowers
  2. Hot glue is hot (duh!), so use a pencil or the end of your scissors or a hat pin or something to push the fabric down while it cools.  
  3. Now move to the other end of your burlap and pull the center piece of thread.  Keep pulling it out, working the burlap down as you go.  I started at the top to get a good start and then moved to the bottom.  
  4. Keep pulling until you have a scrunched up piece of burlap.  I didn't make mine super tight because I wanted a pouffy burlap flower.  You can make your as tight or as loose as you want.  
  5. To finish your homemade burlap flower, simply fold the end with the string over and glue it to the other end where you already glued.  Again, use a pencil or something to hold the pieces together.  Otherwise, hot glue could run down your fingertip and under your nail.  That hurts really bad for a really long time, so please use a pencil, k?

Ta da!

How to Make Burlap Flowers

And that's it!  I love these because they are so easy to make and have a large, flat back.  I've made some that have an itty bitty back, and they are hard to glue down.  

What would you make with these burlap flowers?
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

The 65 Best Things to Buy at Aldi (And 9 You Shouldn't)

Before we moved two years ago, we had a multitude of grocery stores to choose from: Giant Eagle, Food 4 Less, Walmart, and several local chain stores.  Then we moved to the country, and there are 4 stores.  Walmart, Aldi, Save A Lot, and a local store that is extremely expensive,  Save A Lot and the local chain are in my town, but thankfully Aldi is only 15 minutes away.  New to Aldi?  Read on for the best things to buy at Aldi!

My Aldi was just redone last summer, and I love it even more.  They added an entire aisle of gluten free and organic products, both of which are are at great prices.  I can feed my family organic for less than non organic at other stores!

We used to live in an area that thought Aldi was only for poor people.  I still shopped there, much to the horror of my friends.  Yes, I did convert them after they tried some of the foods!  In my new area, maybe it's because we have such a shortage of grocery stores, but Aldi is very popular.  The Amish really love Aldi, so it's common to see several Amish women doing their shopping with their buggies parked outside.  Our Aldi is always packed.

I've been shopping at Aldi for 10 years now, and I've seen the quality improve on many items.  Ten years ago, this list would have been very different.  There were some things that we did not like then, but we like their version now.  There are very, very few things that we don't buy there.

If you are new to Aldi, here's my favorite (and least favorite) things to buy there.  I tried to include prices on items, but I don't have prices for everything.  Prices can vary by store, too.  If there are a lot of grocery stores in the area, then prices will be lower because of the competition.  Here are my top 65 best things to buy at Aldi.


Flour $1.39/5 pound bag
Sugar (brown, white, and powdered)
Taco Mix $.35
Brown Gravy Mix
Rice Mixes $.79
Macaroni and Cheese $.39 (our favorite of any brand)
Croutons $.89
Cereal (all varieties) $1.19-2.19)
Oil $2.39
Cream of Chicken, Mushroom $.59 (my favorite of any brand)
Canned Mushrooms $.59
Peanut Butter
Alfredo Sauce $1.69
Spices, salt, pepper
Olive Oil
Syrup (their sugar-free version is very good)
Chocolate Chips $1.49
Potato Gnocchi
Coffee Beans


Saltine Crackers $.89
Peanut Butter Crackers $.89 for a pack of 6
Cheese Crackers
Animal Crackers
Fruit and Cereal Bars $1.79
Tortilla Chips $1.19
Fruit Snacks $3.69 (dye free and HFCS free)
Pudding Mix $.45 (our favorite of any brand)
Graham Crackers


Shredded Cheese (around 25 cents per ounce)
String Cheese (our favorite of any brand)
Parmesan Cheese $2.49
Coffee Creamer $2.19 for a large container
Milk $2.79 AND it is hormone and antibiotic free!
Stick Maragine


Chicken Salad $3.69/lb
Fish (whiting, cod, catfish)
Canned Tuna
Chicken Nuggets $3.99 (these are my absolute favorite frozen nuggets!)
Fish Fillets
Whole Chicken (Price varies, but it's always 1/2 - 1/3 of what you'll pay at other stores)
Spiral Cut Ham (better than our local meat market!)


Vegetables - any
French Fries $1.79
Shredded Hashbrowns $1.79
Waffles $1.29 for 10
Frozen Pizza
Cinnamon Rolls $1.49 (out favorite of any brand)

Fruits and Veggies

Bagged Lettuce
Onions (they are very potent!)

What Not to Buy

Bread - I do buy their bread if I need it, but I try not to.  We don't care for the texture.  It tastes fine, and I would buy it to make stuffing or french toast.

Refried Beans - Sorry, Aldi, but these just aren't good.  I wish they were because they are so much cheaper there, but we will pass on these.

Ground Beef - I'm not a fan of their ground beef.  I do buy local raised grass fed beef, so it's not really a fair comparison.

Applesauce - The last time I looked, it had high fructose corn syrup, so we don't buy it.  I make my own, so I don't even look at it anymore.

Potato Chips - We don't really buy many chips, but I prefers Lay's if I do get them.  I did get the kids the big bags of single serve chips for a treat for lunches, and they liked them.

Tub Margarine - It's OK.  It's not my favorite.  I'd rather pay more and get something that we like better.

Cola - We aren't fans of their cola, but we are hardcore Pepsi fans.  If you aren't brand specific, then you may like their cola.

Salad Dressings - They aren't bad, but we prefer the taste of name brand dressings.  I will buy a lot of their Italian dressing for marinades though.

Orange Juice - Theirs seemed a little watered down compared to name brands.

I will mention that there are a lot of things that I don't buy in the stores.  I don't buy many canned fruits or vegetables because I can them myself.  I have a source for local raised beef and chicken, so I don't buy that in any other stores.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Ultimate School Halloween Party Roundup

I'm not a room mom this year because I'm crazy, but I'm not completely insane.  I did volunteer to help out with the parties though.  After I volunteered myself, I realized that I was fresh out of ideas for the Halloween party because our old school didn't do Halloween parties.  What's a blogger mom to do?  Create a Halloween school party roundup post, of course!

Here are some awesome ideas from fellow bloggers.  There are yummy treats, adorable crafts, and fun games.


Your kid's classmates will LOVE these monster marshmallows and chewy candies!  Both treats are completely homemade, but you can make them ahead of time.  

I love these mummy treats because you can use them for several foods.  She suggests gum or candy, but raisin boxes would look cute too.  This is a great way to use up scrap paper too!

Don't want to give candy at the party?  Try these cute treat holders for Wendy's frosty coupons.  The coupons are inexpensive and 99 cents of each dollar goes to charity!  You're helping so many kids when you buy these coupons.  

This is for the mom who is artistically challenged in the kitchen -! - but wants to bring an adorable treat.  These witch cookies are adorable, but they are easy to make.  
These are awesome!  Use green pudding or dye vanilla pudding green for these Halloween pudding cups.
Here's another take on the pudding cups.  I like these Halloween pudding cups because the kids can take the fruit home with them if there are too many snacks at the party.

Drinks at the party are so hard because you hate to give the kids even more sugar.  My kids can't have red dye or high fructose corn syrup, so I love these printable Halloween water bottle labels.

How cute are these candy corn cupcakes?  I love making cupcakes for school parties because they are so easy to transport.

These ghost decorations can be used to decorate the classroom, hallway, or take home.

This easy rolled paper pumpkin craft is perfect for any age.  You can even adapt this for other shapes, like a ghost.

This craft is really, really cute, but I would probably switch to a plastic container for a school party.  You could make these pumpkin jars with paint or paper.  
This cute fall leaf is perfect for younger kids.  They can cut or tear the paper to make the colors.

I'm a total sucker for keepsakes that come home from school.  My kids always get them at the Christmas party, but this is really cute to have them for the fall party too.  I love seeing how itty bitty their hands were in each grade.  
This pumpkin painting is more for the little ones.  They will have so much fun mixing paint and getting messy!

How cute are these pumpkins?  Use some markers, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes, and you have a pumpkin friend!

This candy corn bunting would be a great decoration for the classroom.  Kids can share plates or do one each to make a longer piece.


When I was a kid, I helped plan a Halloween party.  We did this game with the other kids.  They were so grossed out.  It was so much fun!

I know, I know.  What kids wants to learn when it's time to party?  They won't even know they are learning with this sneaky math game!

This is another game like the coffin guessing game.  It's the same principle, but it's a little easier to put together.  

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Friday, October 10, 2014

How to Take Your Art into the Next Dimension with Cricut

This post is sponsored by Cricut.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Have you seen all of those 3-D paper projects all over Pinterest?  Have you wondered how to make it yourself?  It's easy with a Cricut!  

If you can print it, you can cut it with the Cricut Explore machine. 

Now with the newest feature of the Cricut Explore machine, you can choose your image (either your own or one of 50,000+ in the Cricut Design Lab), flatten the image and then click 'Go'. Once printed, the Cricut Explore machine works its magic to bring your 2-dimensional idea into the 3rd dimension.

Take a look at this super short instructional video (less than 4 minutes) and see just how easy it can be… 

Pretty cool, huh?

Free Shipping Offer: Free shipping on orders $31+ with code HALLOWEEN31 

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Outfit Your Family for Halloween with Costume Express - Save 20%

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links

What are your kids going to be for Halloween this year?  My daughter wants to be a zombie bride, and my boys want to make their own costumes.  I'm not sure what they want to be, but they are very specific in what they want.  They want to piece together different items, and I don't feel up to driving all over town looking for them.  So this year, we will turn to Costume Express!

Costume Express Halloween Costumes

Do you find yourself driving all over town, from store to store, just to find the perfect costumes to outfit your family in for Halloween? If so, now is the time to stop that tradition! Save yourself time and money and check out Costume Express.

Costume Express specializes in outfitting your entire family for Halloween. With thousands of costumes and accessories to choose from, you're sure to find what you're looking for. The most sought-after costumes (Frozen, Batman, Maleficent, TMNT) - are all available for purchase at Costume Express and are quickly shipped right to your front door.

Get 20% off all orders at Costume Express when you shop by October 25th! Just enter coupon code SAVETWENTY at checkout. Halloween just got a little less scary, right?

Costume Express Halloween Costumes    Costume Express Halloween Costumes

Costume Express Halloween Costumes    Costume Express Halloween Costumes
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cinnamon Red Hot Canned Pears Recipe

We moved to a small farm with an established orchard almost two years ago, and I was so excited for the peaches and apples.  The pears, however, had me stumped.  We don't eat canned pears, and I knew we could only eat so much pear jam.  I made vanilla spiced pears first, then my husband wanted me to try one of his grandmother's recipes.  Of course, this was a recipe that she had never written down, so I had to guess on how to make it.

So I experimented last year and labeled each jar carefully.  This is the recipe from our favorite batch.  It's not super cinnamony or sweet, but it has just enough sweetness and cinnamon to give it a great flavor.  We don't even like canned pears, and we eat a quart of these with dinner.  I just serve them as a side dish when I am in a hurry or we need something quick and yummy with dinner.

Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission from sales.

Cinnamon Red Hot Canned Pears Recipe

What You Need:

  1. Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil on the stove.  When it boils, stir it and reduce the heat to a simmer.  
  2. Meanwhile, wash, peel, core, and cut pears.  Pack in to 7 hot sterilized quart jars. 
  3. Pour warm syrup over pears, leaving 1/2" head space.  Remove air bubbles and wipe rims.
  4. Add 10-12 Red Hot candies to each quart jar.  Use half as much for a pint.
  5. Cap with warm lids and a ring.
  6. Process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.  
This is a light sugar syrup because I'm trying to limit sugar consumption.  If you want a heavier syrup, you can substitute your own syrup recipe and add the candies as directed.  

These taste best if they can sit on the shelf for at least a month before you try them  Ours reached their full flavor potential at about 3 months.  These are so pretty that they make me happy just seeing them on the shelf!

Have you ever canned pears?
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