June 26, 2017

Delicious marinade recipes that are simple and easy

delicious marinade recipes

Nothing says summer like dinner on the grill. While you can grill without a marinade and still end up with a delicious meal, marinading your meat and/or veggies before grilling can amp up the flavor and tenderness of your meal by a thousand (especially if you are buying cheaper, tougher cuts of meat). There are so many easy and delicious marinade recipes available nowadays. So many in fact, that it can actually be overwhelming when looking through recipe forums like All Recipes or Pinterest.

To prevent PMSM, or perfect marinade search meltdown, I have compiled a list of the most popular marinade recipes by food category. I put ** next to the recipes I personally tested and love, but all of these marinades are great for taking more affordable cuts of meat to the next level of yumminess.

Easy & delicious marinade recipes

There is no point in buying inexpensive meat then soaking it in a complicated marinade that calls for a ton of ingredients, or ingredients you’ll probably never use again (candied ginger anyone?).  All of the marinades below consist of six or fewer ingredients and call for everyday items that most of you may already have in your pantry!

Beef marinades

Coca-Cola Steak Marinade

Basic Bulgogi Steak Marinade (Sounds weird, but trust me it’s DELICIOUS)***

Chicken marinades

Sticky Sweet Korean Chicken Marinade***

Honey Balsamic Chicken Marinade

Shrimp marinades

Sriracha Peach Shrimp Marinade***

Honey Garlic Shrimp Marinade***

Vegetable marinades

Balsamic Vegetable Marinade***

Lemon-Soy Sauce Veggie Marinade

Tofu marinades

Tandoori Tofu Marinade

Vegan Peanut Sate Marinade***

I hope these quick, easy and delicious marinade recipes help jazz up your grilled meals repertoire. Do you have an easy marinade recipe that your family looks forward to every summer? If so, be sure share it in the comments below!



April 20, 2017

When GMA calls your house…the effect of viral social media

viral social mediaSo in case you haven’t seen the video about the Starbucks barista who rants against the new Unicorn frappuccino, it’s posted below.  My connection to it? My stepson Braden is the barista, lol. Apparently, the video went viral and was picked up by USA Today off of Twitter and the social media ball just rolled from there. About an hour after the USA Today story hit the internet, people from as far as Ireland started calling Braden asking for radio interviews. A producer from Good Morning America called the home phone to ask him for a statement and his video was aired on GMA the next day, with Michael Strahan saying he was going to watch it again because he’d never seen anything so funny.  Let me tell you, the effects of viral social media are insane people.

My husband is panicking because, like any 19-year-old, my stepson sometimes speaks before thinking. Hence the rant on social media against a product his own employer makes…cough. But hopefully, the increased publicity and increased sales (everyone we know is already planning on hitting Starbucks later to order ten of these…) will be enough to save his job. Starbucks corporate met with him and insisted Braden pull the video from all social media to stop any negative publicity, but it was already out there, already viral, there was no stopping this train… While Braden complained about how hard and messy the drink was to make in his “rant’, he did not bring up the sugar content, which is what most of the backlash against the drink is about.

Being a blogger means I deal with social media all the time, but this viral video is one more example of how powerful social media can be. Should you film some crazy rant about the price of Urban Decay eye palettes while dressed like a pineapple and hope it goes viral? No. But if you are getting frustrated with your results on social media remember that being famous for laughing hysterically like Chewbacca can work for some people, but it’s probably not the kind of attention that will help promote your blog in a positive light. Instead, think about producing videos with DIY instructions or tutorials for things related to your blog. This is what has made people like  Michelle Phan and Bethany Mota attain celebrity status. Still plagued with questions on how to use social media to promote your blog? Check out this article by the Social Media Examiner.

The effects of viral social media

While Braden is a good looking and very personable kid with an amazing heart, we don’t want him to become “William Hung famous” (famous for being a little ridiculous). Advice on how to counsel him about properly managing this sudden attention would be greatly appreciated below!  For any inquiries related to this video, please contact press@starbucks.com.



March 11, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day ideas for food, fun, decor and more!

St. Patrick’s Day used to be one of those holidays I did not pay much attention to. I mean, I dressed in some green to avoid getting goosed at school by a perverted boy, and then later in life by a perverted co-worker, but I wasn’t much for decorating or seeking out green-colored food or decor. Then I married a man who is part Irish, and my whole paradigm on St. Patrick’s Day changed. Now I need to represent yo! But you know me, my darling Faking Fancy readers, I don’t just throw out some green M&M’s and call it a day. Nooo sir. I have to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a fancy way! But I needed  St. Patrick’s Day ideas for clothing, food, drinks and decor that was cheap and easy, like my cousin Cheryl…(Just kidding, she’s married now. And what happens in Lake Havasu…)

Cute, affordable St. Patrick’s Day outfits

First things first I’m a realist..(my blog’s fight song!) and I know that NO ONE looks good in head-to-toe green. I’m also not big on buying holiday-themed” clothing you can only wear one day of the year. Using the pieces below for inspiration, you can get all gussied up for St. Patty’s in style, without purchasing specific St. Patrick’s themed wear.

We all know the St. Patrick’s Day clothing rule, as long as you are wearing something green you are good. I love this outfit inspo collage above from Shoes & Tricks on Tumbler. Her site asked me for a password so I couldn’t get to the sources for each piece. But I found this super cute long sleeve blouse and this flirty cap sleeve blouse, both green and both only $11! If you aren’t going to wear it often try your local Goodwill or consignment store for green clothing that is even more affordable.

st patrick's day

This outfit from Polyvore is St. Patty’s Day perfection to me, minus the Tom’s. I hate those shoes. I’ve got some gray slip-on Vans I’d pair with it instead. Brown riding boots or white espadrilles would look super cute too, depending on your local weather.

Easy St. Patrick’s Day Beauty

Last year I took some green-colored hair powder my stepdaughter had and threw a streak in my under layers. It looked cool, yet totally mom-appropriate. (You can see it in my profile pic on Facebook this month!) If you don’t have green eyeshadow or nail polish on hand don’t sweat, cheap versions of each are found at the Dollar Store or even at Walgreens. If you are doing a green eye keep the rest of your face neutral, no matter how many people tell you a red lip is totally Irish. Unless you are twenty-three and dancing at the Irish festival, it’s just tooo much.

st patrick's day

How great is this Irish flag eye look? If you have hooded eyes like me the look is even more subtle and only shows when you blink or look down. The link went to sunfrog.com t-shirt shop, but the look doesn’t really require a tutorial.

st patrick's day

I also loved this subtle St. Patrick’s eye from iheartmakeupart at makeupgeek.com.  This look is pretty and versatile enough to wear out on a non-holiday as well!

st. patrick's day

With the nail art pens they have on the market now it’s possible to create all kinds of cool and creative nail looks, but I usually don’t have the time for anything too intricate. The fun and sparkly green & gold mani above is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day and doesn’t get any easier!

Quick and Delicious St. Patrick’s Day Food

I’ve never been a fan of the cabbage and corned beef dinner that is the normal dinner fare for most St. Patrick’s celebrations. But I found a few ideas and recipes for meals and snacks that are delicious AND use the same elements found in more traditional St. Patrick’s Day meals.

st patrick's day

Who doesn’t love sliders? These genius little sandwiches from realhousemoms.com look totally amazing, and, if you use potato rolls as the buns, they could not be more Irish!

This recipe for corned beef Reubens caught my eye for two reasons. One, I love Reuben sandwiches! And two, these are made in a crock-pot so you don’t have to slave over a hot stove all day.  An added bonus is the house will smell sooo good all day long!

st patrick's day

Dessert doesn’t get any easier than this scrumptious puppy chow! Just set some plastic cups and a scoop next a big bowl of it and let people scoop their own chow. Less mess and only one bowl to wash!

st patrick's day

Unless you want to hike it on down to McDonald’s sometime after dinner, making your own shamrock shakes is a MUST for St. Patrick’s Day dessert! Add some Irish cream to a separate pitcher for the grown-ups!

Fun and easy St. Patrick’s Day decor

I’m still not big on decorating for a holiday that is celebrated for only one day (versus Christmas, Halloween, and Easter). But I’ll frame some cute free printables like these ones and throw out some easy DIY decor with items. Most of the decor below can be made last minute and with items you probably already have around the house!

st patrick's day

Irish decor doesn’t get any cuter than these beer mug centerpieces filled with gold water gems and mint carnations! Carnations are super cheap and you probably already have the mugs, so the only investment is the water gems which can be found at any at amazon, any craft store and even Walmart.

st. patrick's day

The beauty of pillar vases and candles is you can use a huge variety of cheap items to fit the St. Patrick’s Day theme. The vase filler above is just dried peas, but you could also use green candy or beads. I once filled a couple of vases with coins from our vacation jar and added green candles. You could also grab a bunch of small pebbles from your neighbor’s xeriscaped lawn (shhh) and spray paint them gold. Add some green Dollar Store candles, et voila!!

St. Patrick’s Family Activities

st patrick's day

The Leprechaun toilet visit above is totally happening at my house! My kids are all teenagers but they will still find it hilarious. Check out diyprojects.com for 22 other fun and easy ideas for kid-friendly activities.

st patrick's day

Yep. Again this leprechaun beard game is definitely happening at our house. I don’t care HOW messy it gets. And knowing my stepsons, whip cream is guaranteed to get everywhere. But laughing until my stomach hurts and the resulting photo opportunities will make it well worth the mess!

I hope these fun, easy and affordable ideas help to make your St. Patrick’s Day the best ever!



February 24, 2017

How to have an awesome last-minute Oscar Party!

oscar partyThink it would be fun to have a few friends over for an Oscar party, but you are afraid it’s too late to purchase and/or create everything a glam party like this entails? Fear not my Faking Fancy readers, I’ve got some amazing and affordable ideas for food, decor, AND entertainment that will make your last-minute Oscar shingdig a BLAST. No online ordering and praying your expensively expedited shipment arrives on time; all of my ideas can be purchased at your local drugstore or retail chain store, like Walmart and Party City and Walgreens. Trust a true party planning guru (me!), the only ingredients you’ll ever need for a fab fiesta is yummy food and fun activities. So read this post, follow my ideas and instructions, and get ready to have an awesome last-minute Oscar party!!

Last-Minute Oscar Party Decor

You only have to have two items that are specific to a”Hollywood” or “movie” theme in your overall party decor, the rest of your decor just has to be gold and black or red, gold and black, to fit the traditional “Oscars” color scheme. Buying most of your decor in a non-specific theme allows for leftover items, like cups, plates, napkins, and balloons to be used at a future party, stretching out your cost-per-item and overall party decor budget. The two specific items are an Oscar trophy or cut-out, and a director’s clapboard.

For the director’s clapboard head on down to your local Party City where it is a mere $3. This item is imperative for a fun activity later in the party!  Then hit up Walmart for a small helium tank, two bags of 25 balloons (one black and one metallic gold),  gold curling ribbon, gold napkins and soda cups, and clear plastic champagne flutes. Party City has most of that as well, but it’s much cheaper at Walmart.

As you can see above, the balloons make the decor! Fifty balloons floating on the ceiling with the pretty curled gold ribbon hanging from them turn any normal living room into a glamorous party area! Make sure the ribbon curls are short enough that they don’t block anyone’s view of the TV!

These Oscar party printables are great to place on the tables and tape on the walls around your party area. These 2016 Oscar party printables are cute too, just don’t print the ones that say 2016. If you don’t have a home printer,  you might have to send some of these items to your local Staples or print shop, but be sure to ask around with friends and neighbors before paying to have these items printed, as most people have a color printer at home these days.

Oddly enough, I did not see an Oscar trophy or something similar at Party City, but Walmart has one for about $10. Can’t find a trophy at as nearby store? Click here or here for an easy DIY version.

Last-minute Oscar party food

Of course you need movie theater popcorn and candy! If you are lucky enough to have a home theater popcorn machine, great! If not, you can also just microwave, air pop or buy your popcorn premade at a local popcorn store. Whatever you do, make sure it is nice & buttery, just like you’d get at the movies! The Dollar Store usually has cute little plastic popcorn buckets. If you can’t find any of the reusable plastic ones the paper popcorn bags are cute too.

Hot dogs are also a popular item at movie theaters. Not only does everyone love hot dogs, but they are also they are easy and cheap to make! Heat up the hot dogs and buns about a half-hour before the party, then wrap them in foil and keep them in your oven on warm until guests arrive. Serve your dogs in these cute paper trays just like you get at the theater! (They are also less likely to roll off a plate onto your carpet!)

Theater sodas come in paper cups with plastic lids, but as far as I could tell you have to order those online, and that would take too long, so just serve your sodas in gold party cups. Be sure to get gold sanding sugar when you buy your food items. Use it to rim your plastic champagne glasses for instant glam! Actual champagne can be kind of expensive, so sparkling wine is fine.

Our local Walgreens always has boxes of popular movie theater candy at 4 for $4, so I would grab an assortment (two boxes per guest). If you don’t have this option, Walmart has great prices on candy as well. Don’t forget the tub of Red Vines! The 4lb tubs are available at Walmart, Target and even most office supply stores like Staples.

Want a little fancier dessert without more fuss? Buy a can of edible gold glitter spray paint (it does exist!!) and paint a bunch of Oreos gold, then stack them on a cake plate for an easy but super-glam dessert!

Fun Oscar Party activities

The Oscars can be a bit long if you are just commenting on the attire and speeches. Oscar Party bingo, like the one here and here, is the perfect way to keep everyone entertained during the show! Print out one for each guest (and include yourself!) when you print out the decor above.

This second activity is my favorite! Have each guest recite a line or two from their favorite movie (or they can make it up!) and film the “scene”, complete with director’s clapboard filled out with their info, using a video camera or cell phone. You can do this before the Oscars start or during commercials. At the end of the show do a blind (names in a hat) vote of who had the best scene. Post a photo on Facebook of the winner holding your party Oscar and wearing shades, Ray-Bans are best if you have some! Include the video scene in the post if the winner is so inclined, they’ll be even more famous (at least with your Facebook circle, lol).

You don’t even have to do ALL of the above to have a great party! Throw out some popcorn and candy, play the “film scene” game, and wait for the belly-rolling, “I think I just snorted” laughs to ensue.

And the award formost awesome last-minute party hostess goes to…<your name here!>



February 16, 2017

Romantic vintage wedding dresses under $200!

According to Pinterest search results, the vintage romance theme is very popular for 2017 weddings.  Both girlie and chic, vintage romance is really never out of style as a wedding theme, which is good, because your wedding is the one area where you should stick to the classics (keep the trends to the dessert table or favors).  The color schemes for a vintage romance wedding are normally pastel in tone and often include a soft metallic shade like rose gold or brushed silver. Vintage romance wedding dresses usually include tulle and/or lace and have a less-structured, more flowy silhouette than the traditional bridal ball gown.

I dug around and found some absolutely stunning wedding dresses with a romantic, vintage feel.  Of course, we would not be staying true to our Faking Fancy mission if we listed dresses that were even near the average price range for a wedding dress in America – so all of my picks are under $200.

Thinking outside the box

wedding dresses

The old saying, “Not everything is what it seems” is a good mindset to have when shopping for an affordable wedding dress. My own wedding dress above is actually a bridesmaid dress from BHLDN. Pink is my favorite color, and my wedding colors were “Blush and Bashful” (an ode to one of my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias), so a blush pink dress made perfect sense. (Plus I knew as a 44-year-old first-time bride I wasn’t fooling anyone by wearing white. I’m just saying…) Everyone loved my dress and said it fit my personality to a tee. My point is, don’t be afraid to wear a gown that isn’t technically labeled as a “wedding” or “bridal” gown. Like cakes, party favors and decor, adding “wedding” or “bridal” to the label only makes the item twice as expensive.

Wedding Dresses with a Vintage Romance Vibe

wedding dresses

Enchanting is the first word that came to mind when I saw this $150 champagne izidresssale wedding gown.  While I believe izidresssale is an overseas-based company, I read the reviews for this gown and the buyers all seemed very pleased with the quality of the dress they received.


wedding dresses

I also fell in love with this izidresssale wedding dress. The delicate, lacy cap sleeves and ribbon detailing are so pretty! You can order this in champagne (a medium ivory) as well. Izidresssale gowns are great for “real girl” bodies as their sizes go up to 26W, and they have an amazing selection!


wedding dresses

This ivory, lace and tulle dress from ASA Bridal on amazon is just an absolute dream- and the price is an even dreamier $95! Larger chested girls ( a C cup or higher) should probably avoid dresses with a low V neckline like this one. I am far from being a prude, but it seems to me if there is too much flesh popping out (read: boobies)  nobody notices the dress, and that’s the last thing you want with your wedding gown!


wedding dresses

This ethereal tulle wedding dress from Ikerenwedding through amazon is just $129.00. I did a little research on the company- this particular dress has a three-star rating and overall good customer reviews. Some customers said despite giving exact measurements they had to have it altered, but at $129.00 you can afford alterations and still come in around $200.00.


wedding dresses

This dreamy, lace-tiered Alice & Olivia dress from The RealReal is only $195.00. The photo above does not do it justice at all, I’ve seen it in person and it’s soo romantic and ethereal. If you find your dream dress on The RealReal, but don’t see it in your size don’t panic right away. The RealReal is a designer consignment store, which means inventory changes constantly. I would check back for a few weeks to see if the dress comes in in your size. Or, if you find a dress that is already sold like this one, you can add that exact dress to a personal waitlist & get notified if it comes in again.


wedding dresses

I would take this romantic white spaghetti strap lace peplum wedding dress from BeigeVintage Co. on Etsy and dye it cream or ivory to make it more “vintagey”.  I’ve read you can “antique” white clothing items by soaking them in tea. You can also use taupe colored Rit Dye. Even if you had to pay around $100 to have the dress professionally dyed by a dry cleaner or costume designer, the purchase price of the dress is a mere $80.50. That’s eighty dollars and fifty cents!!! So your total cost for this amazing gown should still be under $200.

About buying online

If you plan on buying your wedding dress from an online establishment (versus a brick and mortar store) be sure to do some research on the reputation and service of the company. Always check customer reviews on product quality, shipping times and customer service. If there are no reviews on the actual dress, as is sometimes the case on amazon, Google the company to see if they have a working website or reviews on their products elsewhere. Also, be sure to confirm that there is a working customer service hotline or email, in case you do have any issues.

Buying or Renting a Used Wedding Dress

Some girls may cringe at the thought of wearing a used wedding dress. But as a serious thrifter, I can tell you a wedding dress is one of best used-clothing purchases you can make. I mean, this is one of the rare occasions that you can almost guarantee the item was only worn once! And if for some unfortunate reason it wasn’t worn at all, don’t worry about bad mojo, the previous owner’s past does not transfer with the item.  Once you step into that dress, you create a whole new magical story for your dress! Places to find used wedding dresses for sale include PreOwnedWeddingDressesOnceWed, and Tradesy.


wedding dresses

The intricate floral lace and delicate beading detail on this Badgley Mischka dress would make a perfect bridal gown for a lux-romance wedding.  This heavenly gown retails at around a thousand dollars, but you can rent it for only $80 from renttherunway! The normal time period for a RTR rental is four days, but eight-day rentals are also available. Side note: RTR always sends your dress in two sizes, ensuring a perfect fit.

Weddings do not have to cost a fortune! You simply have to get creative and look beyond the traditional resources. For more ways to save on your  wedding and reception, check out my posts here and here.



January 15, 2017

Easy and delicious Valentine’s dessert idea!

Okay ladies, I am about to rock your world with the easiest, creamiest, chocolatiest dessert ever. And then to top it off I am going to tell you how you can make this dessert in an almost infinite variety of flavors! This easy and delicious Valentine’s dessert idea came to me a few years ago after making chocolate covered strawberries for my husband as a romantic Valentine’s gesture. I didn’t think they would be that complicated to make, and in a way they really aren’t. But it was insanely messy. I got chocolate everywhere. I needed something quick and simple. (Read: I don’t want to be cleaning the kitchen for an hour afterward..)

delicious valentine's dessert

My solution? A dessert that tasted like chocolate covered strawberries, but much, much easier to make. When I started noodling on this idea, I knew right away I wanted to make a no-bake cream pie. Pies are some of the easiest desserts to make, especially no-bake pies. Below is the recipe for my Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Pie. I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband and I did!

Other easy and delicious dessert ideas

Looking for an easy pie recipe that isn’t chocolate or strawberry? Try mixing lemon curd and Cool Whip and pouring it in a premade graham cracker crust..boom, Lemon Chiffon Pie! Or mix banana pudding and Cool Whip and pour it into a graham cracker pie crust, then top with Nilla Wafers for an easy Banana Cream Pie. The possibilities for a quick and easy pie using Cool Whip and a premade graham cracker crust are almost as limitless as your imagination! Well, maybe not that limitless. Don’t go mixing cut grass and Cool Whip for a Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Pie or anything. But you get what I mean…

See below for the recipe (and printable recipe card) for this delicious pie!

delicious valentine's dessert
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Pie
Print Recipe
A quick and easy cream pie that tastes just like chocolate covered strawberries.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 Slices 25 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 Slices 25 Minutes
delicious valentine's dessert
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Pie
Print Recipe
A quick and easy cream pie that tastes just like chocolate covered strawberries.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 Slices 25 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 Slices 25 Minutes
Servings: Slices
  1. Slice the strawberries and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, make the chocolate pudding according to package directions. Spread the strawberry jam on the bottom of the chocolate pie crust. Top with the chocolate pudding. Top the pudding with the sliced strawberries and drizzle with the chocolate sauce. You can enjoy it right then or chill it in the fridge until it is ready to eat!
    delicious valentine's dessert
Recipe Notes

Notes: You can even buy premade pudding cups and skip all that whisking! Also, I have 3TB of chocolate sauce listed, but I never measure it, I just drizzle it over the strawberries until a lovely swirl pattern partially covers them. To make this pie more "romantic" arrange the sliced strawberries in a heart shape on top of the pie!


Share this Recipe
January 14, 2017

The easiest Valentine’s date night dinner ever!

easiest valentine'sRecently, I was looking up recipes for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with my hubby. Now, I love to cook and bake, but even I panicked at the time and effort involved in some of the recipes I found. Valentine’s Day is on a weeknight this year, which means that even if I am willing to get complicated, I’m not going to have time for some fancy schmancy recipe like Beef Wellington or Steak Au Pouive.  What I need, and what I suppose most women need, are recipes for the easiest Valentine’s date night dinner ever! The recipes need to include few ingredients, be simple to make, and come together quickly. And let’s not forget that even if you are married, avoiding garlic and onions is a good idea! After browsing through hundreds of recipes, I had an epiphany…

Easiest Valentine’s Day dinner idea

My epiphany? Men like meat. (Okay, so it’s more of a realization of the obvious, but whatever, I heard angels singing and I was only one glass of wine in….) Now I ask you my Faking Fancy readers, what’s meatier than a thick, juicy burger? Hamburger also has the added bonus of being one of the most affordable meats available as well. What’s so romantic about a hamburger you ask? Well, if you shape the burger into a heart, draw a ketchup heart on top, and set it on a heart-shaped bun, it’s super romantic! Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the out the heart buns. You can also cut the cheese (yeah, I see what I did there) slices and tomato slices into hearts with the cookie cutter as well. If you have a few extra minutes, grab a paring knife to carve the pickles slices into little hearts as well. Aww….

easiest Valentine's

Hamburgers are one of the easiest meals to make, even easier if your “recipe” is to add a handful of breadcrumbs, seasoning, and an egg to some hamburger (nothing wrong with that!). But if you don’t have a “go-to” recipe, or you want to try something new for this special dinner, look through the mouth-watering hamburger recipes below. I can’t really pick a favorite- they are ALL delicious.  Tasty note: If I cook hamburgers on a skillet instead of a grill, I like to brush one side with liquid smoke when cooking to give them a rich and smoky flavor.

4 Easy & Delicious Hamburger Recipes

Don’t bother with making homemade french fries. Ore Ida makes thin cut fries called, “Fast Fries” that, as the name implies, taste almost like they came out of the fryer at McDonald’s. They will seriously change your life if you’ve never had them. Change. Your. Life.

You see? A lovely date night dinner really doesn’t get any easier than this! And trust me when I say that unless he’s a vegan your man will LOVE this meal! (And if he is vegan by chance, try this black bean walnut burger recipe, it’s actually really good.)

Looking for a crazy easy dessert recipe for Valentine’s Day? That’s tomorrow’s post…stay tuned!




December 19, 2016

Beautiful and affordable gift wrap options


gift wrap

Gift wrap seems to be one product (among many) that is increasing in price and decreasing in quality. A $2 roll of gift wrap doesn’t seem that costly, until it splits and tears as you are wrapping the gift, making you need to roll out twice as much as you need. Below are some beautiful and affordable alternatives to traditional gift wrap. Instead of my normal M.O. of featuring items that are under $50 ( which is kind of silly for gift wrap unless you are using chinchilla fur),  I looked for options that would be less expensive per gift than the average $4 roll of wrapping paper (which wraps about 6 gifts on average).

Kraft Paper Gift Wrap Ideas

Kraft paper comes in much larger rolls than most gift wrap, and it is normally made of much stronger paper as well. Its plain brown appearance can be quite deceiving. You can dress it up in as many ways as your imagination (or someone else’s imagination via Pinterest) will allow!

gift wrap

How adorable is this gift wrap idea from The Shady Acre! The only supplies you’ll need are a hot glue gun and a couple skeins of yarn. As you can see from the simple designs displayed, you don’t need an art degree to successfully pull this project off. I think some of the easiest options, like the initials and yarn tree, are the prettiest!

gift wrap

I love the chic simplicity of this polka dot wrap idea from Stylecaster! My one caveat to this craft is the size of the dots.  If I used something as small as a pencil, I’d run out of patience about halfway through the third first package, so maybe grab a larger circular foam stamper or use something around the house with a larger lid/top to do the stamping.

gift wrap

This idea from On Sutton Place is of my favorites! Just take some red and white twine and/or ribbon, along with some greenery and small holiday themed accessories from the dollar store…et voila- the most charmingly festive wrapping paper ever!

Other gift wrap ideas

gift wrap

I’ve heard of people using old newspaper for gift wrap before, but I never saw the appeal until I came across these sweet examples from Indulgy. It shows how simple, pretty accessories in a specific color scheme can turn non-holiday gift wrap into a gorgeously themed gift assortment.

Even More Ideas!

Other ideas include old roadmaps, paper lunch bags, and mason jars, but only if you already have them lying around. None of these items, with paper bags being the exception, are cheaper than wrapping paper- and you are limited to wrapping small gifts in the latter two.

If you have a creative, non-traditional way of wrapping gifts that is cheaper than traditional store-bought gift wrap please share it in the comments below – I would love to hear about it!



December 15, 2016

Gift guide for those “hard to buy for” people in your life!

I consider myself an excellent “present giver”.  I try to make sure that every gift guide I create contains unique, useful and fun items for a wide variety of recipients. But sometimes figuring out the perfect gift, or ANY gift, is made almost impossible by the following two types of people:

  1. People that seem to have no hobbies or interests. They aren’t a foodie, a sports fan, a gardener, a crafter, an avid reader, a Comi-Con enthusiast, etc…
  2. The people who make more money than God. What the heck do you get these people that they cannot get themselves?

I’ve run into these issues enough times to develop a tried-and-true gift guide that includes items that almost anyone (except dead people, duh)  can appreciate.  Are all these items in this list under $50 like my other gift guides for ladies, guys, and teens? Heck ya they are! Creative, unique gifts for under fiddy bucks? You can thank me by signing up for my Faking Fancy newsletter. Your checkbook will thank you after signing up, so you’ll just be paying it forward…

Gift ideas for “hard to buy for” recipients


Personalized popcorn bowl, $27. EVERYONE likes popcorn, and this personalized bowl makes eating it even more special! The only exception to this rule would be your low-carbing buddies. That’s okay because ALL of the other gift ideas have zero carbs! To “jazz up” this gift I would add some popped corn as filler and nestle a few flavored popcorn salts in the bowl before tying in up in a clear cellophane bag.

Nordstrom Rack Plush Throw $25. You can never have too many super soft, luxurious throws lying around your house. Especially since the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting this winter to be the coldest in a decade. Add a lovely tin of hot cocoa to boost the “cuddle factor” of this already cozy gift.

F in Exams book $10. This hilarious book is filled with actual answers from students who’s incorrect answers on tests were so hilarious it almost made up for the fact that they were wrong. Don’t worry if your picky recipient does not have a sense of humor or eat carbs – you still have many more options to choose from in this list!

Amore Beaute Customized Pillow Case $39.50. This is advertised as a great gift for newlyweds, but you can use other important dates, like a graduation date, prison release date (I’m sure ex-cons like pillows, don’t judge) or even birth dates to make it a great gift for anyone.

Hot Cocoa & Cream Candle $11. I know candles can be a tricky gift because what smells “good” to some people can smell like a dead hamster to others. But, if you know someone who does not like the delicious and homey smell of hot cocoa you should be worried…because that is not normal. Those people don’t really deserve a gift because they also probably don’t like kittens, macaroni & cheese, or chocolate cake. Weirdos.

Other gift ideas for “hard to buy for” recipients

Other great gifts for the person who has everything- name a star after them, or adopt a unique animal like a manatee in their name! The star thing is kind of a scam as about 10,000 other people also have that same star, but I still think they are kind of cool. The recipient gets a print-out of where their star’s constellation is with the star highlighted, so they can look into the night sky and see your gift on any clear sky night -forever!

I hope the ideas in this gift guide help you in your search for the perfect present for everyone on your list this holiday season!




December 7, 2016

Affordable holiday decor- decorate your entire home for around $25!

affordable holiday decorI am going to start this post on affordable holiday decor by saying that it DOES NOT include the Christmas tree, stockings or gifts. When I say you can decorate your entire home for around $25, I mean it is possible to decorate your walls, tables, windows, light fixtures, counter tops, and pretty much every area of your home aside from the tree…all for around $25, which in my frugal living book is still amazing!

To help out on the tree & stocking front I’ve included links to some very lovely and affordable trees (artificial) and stockings.  If you are looking for cool & budget-friendly gift ideas check out my holiday gift guides for men, women, and tweens/teens.

So how it is possible to decorate almost every area of your home with festive Christmas splendor for around $25? My first stop is always the dollar store! My local dollar store is called The Dollar Tree, but there are several dollar stores nationwide including the Dollar General, Family Dollar, and the 99 cents only stores.

Top Dollar Store Holiday Items

The following items offer the most bang for your buck (literally).

  1. Pine tree garland: Nothing says Holiday like pine tree garland! My Dollar Store had 15ft of pine garland for $1. The cheapest I have seen garland anywhere else was $3 for 9ft at Michaels. I bought eight pieces  and wrapped it around my front door frame, balcony, fireplace mantel, living room mirror and window, and stair railing. Cost: $8 (Note: I could not find this product online, but it is located in the Holiday section of the store.)
  2. Holiday ribbon: By “holiday” I mean anything in the colors that match your particular holiday decor color scheme. Gold and silver, red and green, blue and silver… It doesn’t have to be labeled “Holiday” to be festive! I wrapped the 2 yards of ribbon I bought through the garland on my fireplace mantel and balcony to brighten it up. Cost: $2
  3. Holiday bows and assorted decorI picked up some metallic leaf and berry picks during my latest Dollar Store visit and stuck them in the garland on my staircase railing. It really glams up my staircase, which isn’t easy to do as it is covered in a hideous, short gray, speckled berber carpet. Cost: $5affordable holiday decor
  4. Signs and banners: I bought this “Merry Christmas” paper banner below a couple of years ago at a dollar store. I wasn’t sure if it would look cheap (it was $1!) once it was hung up, but it looks so pretty with the garland! Cost: $1affordable holiday decor
  5. Candy canes: While you can often find boxes of candy canes for around a dollar, I figure I’d pick some up while I was there. I tied them to the garland framing my living room window. I’ve also seen people hang them around window frames, like Christina at The Frugal Homemaker did. So pretty! Cost: $1

Paint it baby!

I am constantly amazed at the sort of crappy interesting items people spray paint into something Fancy! From plastic, dollar store storage buckets to tacky, thrift shop porcelain figurines. Check out these incredible decor transformations using cheap trinkets and spray paint!

affordable holiday decor

These beauties from astangelife.blogspot.com are just normal, everyday pine cones covered in Krylon Glass Paint!


affordable holiday decor

Katie at Bower Power Blog took some Dollar Store nutcrackers and completely transformed them with some cheap acrylic paint. The pastel versions look so expensive!


Re-purpose with pride

affordable holiday decor

I found some pretty gold place mats at Goodwill the other day, but I wanted decor I could keep out all season long (and not just one meal where they would be stained by teens with sloppy table habits).  The solution? I draped the place mats over my dining table chairs and tied some metallic gold tulle around them… et voila, glitzy chair covers! Cost $4

Because of the fantastic after-Christmas sales every year, I always end up with WAY more ornaments than I can possibly fit on our one tree. Instead of stuffing them back into the storage box to languish for another year, I thought why not use them for decorating things other than the tree?

affordable holiday wreath

Last year I made an Easter wreath with pastel-colored peeps. While it was adorable last Spring, the peeps are now chipped and faded, so I pulled those little chickies right out of their toothpick perches in the foam wreath and, along with some of the gold and silver leftover ornaments, created the beautiful door wreath above. I had to buy some more glue sticks for this project which made the total cost of the wreath $2.00, but I have seen similar wreaths like this one and this one for waaaay more (sometimes $100 more) than what I spent. Cost: $2

Hang Em High

affordable holiday decor

I took the rest of the ornaments, some leftover metallic ribbon and a couple of strands of tinsel garland to create this gorgeous and festive lighting display on my dining room chandelier. Cost: free.

Being Felt Up

affordable holiday decor

I created this vintage-looking Christmas tree art from a picture frame I wasn’t using and some leftover felt from a puppet craft we did earlier this year. I put the frame glass behind the felt to keep the vintage feel and let the texture of the felt come through. Cost: free.

Mad for Plaid

affordable holiday decor

I also had some plaid Christmas wrapping paper and art canvas leftover from crafts last year, along with some black construction paper. I had seen some cute plaid wall art on Etsy and tried my best to recreate it using the canvas and wrapping paper (and lots of tape). They turned out extremely homemade looking up close, but my husband says that only adds to their charm. Cost: free.

Speaking of wrapping paper- I have seen other people wrap their current wall art and hanging photos with Christmas wrapping paper and it seemed like a super easy way to update my wall decor for the holidays, so I tried it. It IS pretty much the easiest and (if you have extra holiday gift wrap) the cheapest way to create holiday-themed wall decor. Just wrap it in the front of the frame and slap a bow on. Cost: free.

affordable holiday decor

I’m thinking of purchasing cheap wrapping paper with other holiday themes (like Valentines and Easter) so I can transform my wall art into easy holiday decor year-round!

My grand total was about $25, but even if you don’t have any leftover felt, unused picture frames or spare wrapping paper like I did, you can purchase those items for about $5, which means you can still decorate your entire home for less than what most people spend on one holiday wreath!

Want more detailed “how to’s” on any of these affordable holiday decor projects? I would love to share the exact steps for each project and answer any other questions related to this post! Simply comment below and I will respond within 48 hours.



Side note: This post will be featured in the Reviews, Chews and How-tos blog on December 17. If you are interested in more tips and resources for living a great life on a budget- check out this fantastic site!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...