5 Ways to Decorate on a Dollar Tree Budget

The Dollar Tree and I have been best buds lately. There are some gems and there are some definite duds. You have to really think about package sizes and quantity.

1. Cheap wall art! These mirrors makes me happy every time they catch my eye. $1 each and some vinyl from the ol' Cricut Explore.

I wanted something to brighten up this otherwise dull corner. When I saw this mirror at the Dollar Tree, I had to have it. I bought three of them, and after stepping on one, I was left with two...

This project makes me want to hop in my car RIGHT NOW and make it!

 I saved a fortune from a fortune cookie and framed it between 2 pieces of glass. LOVE. It was very hard to photograph without my reflection and that's the best one I got.

2. Cheap decor! Three succulent plants in a row add such symmetry and brighten up a dark area. Instant life. $1 each and I believe it's a seasonal item for the spring. I haven't seen them since.

 3. Cheap vases! All of the vases pictured below came from the Dollar Tree. I taped off part of the vase and spray painted the bottom half gold. It has held up very well considering it was on the dining table all fall. Just don't handle it much, because it would probably scratch easily.

4. Cheap florist materials. It's a little hard to see, but there's moss and other materials to put in the bottom of the vases. I love that section of the store because it changes so much from season to season.

5. Fun beach toys and so much more! I love the beach kits. Instead of Easter baskets, I usually use a bucket for my boys. I also stock up on glow sticks at all times for July 4th, cookouts, birthday gifts, etc.
Happy Shopping,

I'm linking this up with Remodelaholic's Deck the Walls Link Party! There's some serious inspiration over there!


My $16 Sunburst Mirror

I've been longing for a sunburst something for a loooong time. Everyone had one but me, if you believe Pinterest. And I did. I yearned for a mirror in my ridiculously dark living room. I've complained mentioned the dark living room before here and here.

When you have a dark room, add mirrors. This will help bounce around what little light you do have.

I was browsing Hobby Lobby when I decided on a whim to start this project. I do not recommend this method, as that's how this became the 2 trips to Jo-Ann and 2 trips to Hobby Lobby project.

Supplies needed:
1 mirror, mine was 16" $4 at Jo-Ann (60% off coupon used)
6 packs of wooden dowels, 3 of the packs from Hobby Lobby for $3 each, coupons used
gold spray paint, already had on hand, but probably took more than 1/2 the can
glue sticks, already had on hand

Hobby Lobby did not have enough dowels, and I ended up running to Jo-Ann for them. I was so disappointed to discover they weren't exactly the same. They were pretty close, though.

First I used Scotch painter's tape to make a guide.

Then I used a hot glue gun and went to town. I watched a few episodes of my fave show and it went pretty fast...until I ran out of dowels. Three packs got it half done.

Then I ordered a Plate Hanger. Follow the directions, every little direction, before peeking to see if it adhered properly (ask me how I know this!).

The directions say to carefully wet the adhesive and rub it with your finger to bring up the glue. Allow it get tacky for a few minutes and then place it where you want it. It needs to dry for the full 24 hours before you test it.

I did not wait.

It came off partially, I re-wet it, waited another 24 hours. Much better. It hasn't crashed down yet! Any questions? I'll do my best to answer in the comments!

Paint all the things,

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I'm linking this up at Remodelaholic's Deck the Walls Link Party! I'm ridiculously inspired right now. 


Stressed by a Cluttered Room? Undecorate!

I've mentioned before how my living room has been a real struggle. It's dark, serves way too many functions, and has many doors. It's also a clutter hot spot. We dump everything when we first walk in. Sadly, I am just as much to blame.

Shoes, school papers, and toys are everywhere!
I think shoes are mostly under control. School work is too, for the most part. Baskets are a decorator's friend.

But I read somewhere that if you are stressed by a space, un-decorate. How simple is this idea? So that's what I've been doing. Then I ran across this article about the New York Times bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I want to order it soon. I read the huge excerpt on Amazon and it basically says, "Only keep the items that spark joy." If you really think about it and apply it, it's like automatic permission to get rid of things.

This desk will be the death of me. It's just such a flat surface, so ready and welcoming of paper clutter. Ugh.

I've been wanting to rearrange, and after studying where the mess comes from, finally felt ready to tackle it. If a space doesn't have "my" feng shui it unsettles me. I fuss until it's just right. I know I'm not the only one that does this. Amiright?? 

Overall, I'm happy with the changes. This room has too much going on, has too many people contributing to the chaos. It's not this huge transformation that will land me on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens, but sometimes you just need to undecorate!

This could become a series of posts, I'm kind of loving this.


Too Good Peanut Butter Quesadilla

This is an out of the ordinary post, but it was too good not to share! As a full time working mother, I LOVE fast, easy, and delicious recipes. This was one of those recipes.

1 low-carb tortilla (I use Tortilla Factory)
all natural, no sugar added peanut butter
1/3 of a banana
about 20 dark chocolate chips
about 1/2 a tbs. of  butter

Obviously this recipe could be tweaked to your liking. I tweaked it for THM, which is Trim, Healthy Mama. You could use a regular tortilla, peanut butter, and chocolate chips to make it easier. I have been following Trim, Healthy Mama for awhile and I've see great results thanks to the no sugar, low carb lifestyle.

First, spread a thin layer of peanut butter on your tortilla. Then layer in the banana slices and chocolate chips, leaving one side clear. You could make a huge one, but it was just for me and I didn't think I'd be able to eat the whole thing. In that case, you would cover the entire tortilla and put another tortilla on top, like a traditional quesadilla.

Put your skillet on med. to med.-high, and melt half of the butter. You just need a little. Fold over the tortilla with the deliciousness inside.

Cook until browned. Add a little more butter, and flip it over. It browns pretty fast. Garnish with some sliced bananas and chocolate chips. Enjoy! My children wolfed it down and begged for more. Since they shared one that was folded over, I let my 7 year old make the next one. He did a great job!

Mmmmmm. So easy a 7 year old can make it. Yum.

Do you have any fantastic "quesadilla" recipes? Let me know in the comments if you make it! Tag me on Instagram with a pic! @clearcutcrystaldesigns


5 Easy Steps to Make a Legit Wreath in Like 15 minutes

Supplies needed:
grapevine wreath, $5.99
assorted flowers and doo-dads, $9ish
letters, $6ish
paint, already had on hand
very thin dowels, already had on hand
paint brush
wire cutters
jute, twine, or ribbon, to hang wreath

(I used to read blogs and think, I don't have any of that already on hand. I am so excited to be able to say that now. The more you craft, the more you will have for another project. It's so addicting.)

OK, wreaths. For this frugal gal, I just can't see spending $40+ on a wreath that I can make. Except wreaths are intimidating to me. And I don't do cutesy. I know. I feel morally obligated to like cutesy because of the whole blogger thing. I just can't.

But I digress.

So, if you are super lazy AND frugal like me, then you buy a grapevine wreath. It's the secret weapon of easy.
That there, my friends, is a Hobby Lobby haul. That isn't even everything I purchased.

STEP ONE: Buy the wreath, and whatever stuff you want to put in it. Buy a little more than you think you need. You want to look for lots of interesting shapes and varying colors. I picked white pointy flowers and red, round flowers, and red feathery looking things. They are awesome and unexpected. I thought they kind of looked like fire works.

STEP TWO: Use wire cutters and cut off the flowers from the main stem. Try to leave the stem as long as possible. You'll be shoving those stems into the grapevine.

STEP THREE: Shove the stems into that vine! Establish a loose pattern, but you don't have to. It's your wreath. Do what makes you happy.

STEP FOUR: Layer in the next flowers, filling in each empty spot until it looks awesome. I like all my flowers to point in the same direction, almost like a clock hand moving around the wreath. (I really hope that makes sense.) It gives your eye a line to follow. I LOVE those feathery things. Add  whatever doo-dads you like. I had some thin, wooden dowels from another project, so I spray painted them gold and added those too.

STEP FIVE: Hang it up. I literally tied a loop of jute twine at the top and tied it to the picture frame. It's that easy.

 Paint all the things,

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When Work isn't Work

Sometimes I get to play at work. My store is in the awkward teenager stage of it's renovation. The building that I work in has been renovated, but my actual store will not be renovated until next summer. So for now, we have the world's tiniest side window to make room for my new glorious mall-style entrance.

As we gear up for summer camps, a new window was needed. High schoolers come from all over to attend academic camps, so it's not all that rustic or outdoorsy.

I collect ideas on my Pinterest board titled, Ideas. Clever title, I know.

My idea was to make a directional sign, so I naturally headed to Home Depot for wood. Did you know they will make any cuts you need? They are super helpful and they never make me feel dumb. I ask dumb questions all the time.

I white washed the signs and printed vinyl from the good ol' Cricut Explore. This particular vinyl came in a pack of assorted colors for $9.99ish.

I had HUGE logs cut in varying heights to add some interest. I love having something unexpected and maybe even a little weird.

While it's very simple, it turned out great! The backdrop was printed on the wide format printer we have on campus. It's a nice perk to have access to.

It's nice when I get to play at work.

Paint all the things,


Shop Your Home & Revive that Tired Room!

Ever feel like you have nothing to wear?? I used to look into my closet and see the same ol' stuff. Suddenly I hated everything.

Being a Pinterest junkie, I typed "black and white skirt" and got tons of suggestions! Pinterest will give me ideas on how to combine my clothes into entirely different combinations. I usually buy a lot of gray, black, and black/white pieces. While this can be classy or timeless, it usually isn't very exciting.

I have a shirt in that exact shade of teal. This makes me think in new ways about my clothes. I really feel like I'm at a point where I have something to wear everyday. I never look into my closet and think, "I have nothing to wear!"

You guys: this can apply to your house. Shop your home and revive a tired room. It was like a thousand angels appeared singing hallelujah right there in my living room. Not really. But that sounded really cool.

I love my brown leather sectional, but it's huge and dark in an already dark room. No problem.

Do you walk into a room and smile? Do you love the home you have instead of dreaming for a future Dream Home? Love the Home You Have by a fellow blogger has had me really thinking about this a lot lately. I really want to buy it. I just bought it because I've been thinking about it so much.Click the pic to check it out.

 I'll be doing a separate post about another book with the same theme. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up provides some major food for thought. It's like automatic permission to purge the unnecessary stuff in your home. I can't wait to show you guys what I've been doing in my living room!

Does every item in your home bring you joy? Just think about it.

Let's say you paid $150,000 for your home and you have 8 rooms. That's $18,750 per room. Is one of your rooms barely used or full of junk? Did you just pay $18,750 to not use a room? Powerful stuff.

Now to finally, finally finish my living room.



10 Ways I Saved on Vacation

1. PACK SNACKS--Before we left, I loaded up on snacks that were "better for you" options. I didn't want to spend loads of money on gas station junk food, so I hit up Sam's Club. They have gigunda bags of trail mix and peanuts, Gatorade, and individual Pringles. These snacks had to pass the "crunch" test. If you stepped on it, would it crunch into a zillion pieces?? I only brought a few of the Pringles. (I mostly purchased those for school snacks and baseball season.)

2. Do laundry at Grandma's. The first leg of our trip was to Grandma's house. I did almost all of the laundry before we went to the Smokies. This helped tremendously with saving space. I didn't want to pack 11 days worth of clothing for 4 people. Ain't nobody got time for dat.

3. My hubby researched where to stay. It's kind of a no-brainer to choose a hotel with free continental breakfast, a fridge, and a pool. A word of caution, however. By day three, we looked at each other and said, "I just can't do this again." Carb-city. I ate something different every day and they had cute bear-shaped waffles. So there was that.

4. Visit the local grocery store. We decided to eat at least one meal a day in the hotel room. It turned out to be dinner each day. We slept in, ate the continental breakfast, had our fun day with a late lunch, and came back to the hotel to eat dinner. With two small children, this worked perfectly for us.

4a. Research kids eat free nights if you really, really need to eat at a restaurant.

P.S. We just told them this was Lunchables. This fed all 4 of us, no problem. And the fruit was more than half gone at this point.

5. Have movie night with popcorn. This turned out to be really fun. I packed the popcorn, of course. It was nice to snuggle together and watch movies with popcorn. New family tradition!

6. Research your destination. Dollywood currently has it setup that if you come after 3pm, the next day is free. You essentially get 1.5 days for the price of one. Perfect for parents with kids who are still napping. Dollywood also gets you to spend more on food and drink within the park.

7. Know the area! Parking is $12 at Dollywood. TWELVE. If you come both days, you spend $24 on parking alone. My hubby noticed that you could ride a tram in for $0.50/person each way. $2 each way for us, $4 total. Much better. Park at the trolley stop at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge and ride the Pigeon Forge trolley to Dollywood. It drops you off at the front gate. This adds no time and is hassle free. Bring cash.

8. Drink water. Dollywood provides free water at every food stand all day. Of course they also have the ridiculously overpriced souvenir drink cups, as well. This might be worth it if you buy it the first day and share.

9. Skip the buffet $46ish total and get a turkey leg meal $20ish total. We got 2 turkey leg dinners and split with the kids. We even had food left over.

10. Bring your own sunscreen. We did not. $12 Bring your own ponchos in case of rain. $5 each or $1 at the Dollar Tree.

Bonus: You absolutely must try the cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill. We had to wait 10 minutes for it. The four of us devoured 2 loaves in 2 minutes flat. Our fingers were burning it was that good.

Happy Travelin'