Thanksgiving Decorating on a Budget - DIY Tips from the Thrift Store
Thanksgiving Decorating on a Budget - DIY Tips from the Thrift Store
Tips & Tricks
Do you want to decorate your home for the Thanksgiving holiday but can't afford to spend a great deal of money? There are numerous items you can find at your local thrift store that can be transformed into creative autumn decorative pieces. Check out the following quirky Thanksgiving decorating tips to see which ones you can use in your own home.
- Pour un-popped popcorn into the bottom of small glass vases from the charity shop. Nestle tea light candles into the popcorn kernels. Secure a colorful autumn leaf to the side of each glass container with raffia ribbon. Place a series of your newly created decorative containers in a row on your dining room table or fireplace mantle.
- Coffee beans and orange candles make terrific decorative elements. Pour coffee beans into small canning jars and then add an orange tea light candle. Tie off-white lace around the rim of each jar and arrange your jars on a thrift store platter or silver serving tray.
- Creating autumn candles is a fabulous craft to do with your children. Spend time outdoors picking fall leaves that are colorful yet not too big. Using cream colored candles from the thrift store, place a series of leaves around each candle and secure with raffia twine (be sure leaves are NOT too dry). Once your children have gone to bed for the night, use the back of a hot spoon to melt the leaf into the candle wax. Your children will wake in the morning to find their candle creations magically transformed for the Thanksgiving table. Can you say memory maker?
- Another great Thanksgiving craft idea is to make place-mats with your children. Purchase burlap pieces or neutral-toned place-mats from the bargain store. Paint the palm of each child's hand with water-soluble paint and have them place their hand face down on the place mat. Once the paint has tried, you can paint a tiny beak on the bottom of the thumb print and tiny legs on the base of the palm print. Your child can now enjoy their own hand print turkey place mat (don't forget to frame and save after the turkey dinner is finished).
- Thrift store picture frames make terrific Thanksgiving art. Purchase three small wooden frames in different sizes and spray paint them off-white. On colored paper (orange and neutral tones work best), print words like turkey, thankful, or blessed. Place the printed paper inside each picture frame and distress the frame edges slightly with sand paper or steel wool. Hang your new artwork in a vertical row for maximum impact.
Decorating your home for Thanksgiving doesn't have to include a trip to an expensive craft store or big box retailer if you're willing to think creatively. You can find plenty of quirky options at your local charity shop or dollar store. Do you think you will be attempting any of these DIY Thanksgiving crafts with your family this year?
The Butterflies and The Bees: 5 Plants That Will Attract Pollinators to Your Garden
Tips & Tricks
This year you can enjoy a lovely landscape full of blossoms that will lure the most beautiful butterflies and beguile the busiest bees. These five plants will draw pollinating insects to your yard.
1. Milkweed - Milkweed is the perfect plant to start your insect-friendly garden. Both butterflies and bumblebees feed from milkweed's tiny flowers. The bloom season is short for milkweed, but it is especially valuable as a food plant for butterflies. Milkweed provides a prime location for monarch butterflies to lay their eggs. When the larvae hatch, they feed on the delicious milkweed leaves. One of the best species of milkweed to attract monarchs is Asclepias tuberosa, which grows best in sandy soil.
2. Foxglove - Bees love the nectar-rich Digitalis purpurea, a native of Europe. The unique tubular shape of the plant's petals allows bees to land easily on the blossom, crawl inside and feast on the delicious nectar inside. Pets and children should be supervised around the foxglove as the plant is highly poisonous. Foxglove will grow best if it is planted in moist soil after the danger of frost has passed. 3. Monkshood - There are several hundred different species of monkshood and, like many favorite plants of pollinating insects, almost all of them are poisonous. Monkshood requires some brute force to access the sweet nectar within, and fat bumblebees have the bulk to muscle their way inside the delicate purple petals. Several different species of moths also use monkshood as a food source for their larvae. To grow the healthiest plants, cultivate your monkshood in moist, well-drained soil. 4. Dogbane - Called dogbane because of its highly toxic effects on hungry dogs, dogbane blooms throughout the late spring and summer. Also known by its Latin name of Apocynum cannabinum, dogbane is a favorite nectar source of several different butterfly species, especially the American Painted Lady butterfly. Dogbane makes a perfect addition to weedy butterfly gardens where the plants are allowed to flourish without too much interference. Dogbane is drought-tolerant, although it grows best in moister soils. 5. Mexican sunflower - If you hope to attract the beautiful monarch butterfly to your garden, there's no flower more suited to the job than the Mexican sunflower. A native of the butterflies' wintering grounds in Mexico, Tithonia diversifolia provides a familiar sight to hungry monarchs looking for their next meal of nectar. As an added bonus, remnants from pruned Mexican sunflowers make an excellent and nutritious mulch.
Whether you want to catch the eye of a passing bumblebee or attract a brilliantly colored butterfly, these five plants will fill your garden with helpful and attractive insects.
With energy costs on the rise, it makes sense to look at ways to conserve energy around the home. What follows are several simple steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient.
Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights. Compact fluorescent bulbs last longer and use less energy. They cost more than traditional bulbs but have a service life of up to 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs, thus saving you money over the long haul. The savings on your light bill will be more immediate.
Turn off unused appliances. From television sets to computer systems, when you're done with them, turn them off. You should realize that the monitor consumes more than half the total electricity required by your computer. Energy use, wasted or otherwise, all shows up on your utility bills. Also consider installing motion detectors to reduce unnecessary lighting.
Eliminate phantom load. As long as they are plugged in, many appliances continue to draw power, even when they are turned off. It's a good idea, therefore, to unplug these 'sneak thieves' whenever they are not needed. Hooking such appliances to a power bar allows you to disconnect them at the flip of a switch.
Take advantage of your blinds and drapes. In winter, open your blinds on sunny days to allow sunlight to heat your home, then close them at night to reduce heat loss. Reverse the procedure in summer to block out heat during the day and allow cooler air to circulate at night.
Bundle up you and your floors. Wearing an extra layer of clothing is an easy alternative to raising the thermostat during cold snaps. An extra blanket at night serves the same purpose, while using area rugs on cold floors will help keep your feet warm.
Be kitchen smart. Match the size of pot or pan you use to the appropriate heating element. Heating a small pot on a large element is overkill, and a needless waste of energy. When oven heating, turn the oven off a few minutes early. The stored heat should be enough to finish cooking your food and, in the process, you will shave a little more off your energy bill.
Get the most out of your refrigerator. Make sure the door seal is efficient. It should hold a five dollar bill in place when closed. Where possible, fill your refrigerator to capacity, leaving just enough space around food items to allow cold air to circulate. A full fridge has less air volume and, therefore, recovers more easily from temperature spikes.
Retire older appliances. Choose Energy Star certified appliances. These are far more efficient than their predecessors and provide significant savings over their lifetime. Think twice before casting old appliances in new roles. Using an old fridge in the basement, for example, will only drive up your energy costs.
Install low-flow shower-heads. It takes a lot of energy to heat water, and showers account for up to 40 percent of hot water usage. Low-flow shower-heads can cut water consumption by half. For the minimalists among you, consider retiring your hairdryer in favor of towel-drying your hair.
Wash your laundry in cold water. Up to 90 percent of the energy used by your washing machine is dedicated to heating water. Cold water washing is as effective as warm and, as a bonus, helps to keep your fabric colors bright. If you plan to be away for an extended period, turn your hot water tank off.
Turn the heat down when you sleep. Sleeping in a cooler house is better for your health, both physical and financial. In winter, lower your thermostat to 63 degrees Fahrenheit. In summer, consider installing a ceiling fan as a substitute for cranking up the air conditioning on hot days.
So, while the cost of energy might be beyond your control, energy conservation certainly is not. Application of some or all of the foregoing measures should give you greater control over what you pay for your energy needs. You might get a charge out of that.