DIY - Bug Repellent Mason Jar Lanterns

Hi friends! Today I have a really easy DIY for the outdoors! Gnats and mosquitoes can really put a damper on outside activities, and bug spray works great for an individual person but I wanted to find a solution for a larger area such as driveway/garage.

I did a bit of research and trial and error, and the results are these cute little mason jar lanterns. They are super easy to make, and extremely budget friendly. I have tested them out myself and can personally say they do actually work, and last quite a long time.

Step by step instructions are below, or feel free to click on any picture to pin this post for later!

First, gather your materials!


You will need:

-A mason jar of any size, complete with lid

-Rope wick

-Liquid bug repellent

I grabbed a few different jars that I had laying around, and then went to Target for the rest of the materials. They are currently having a decent sale on their patio/outdoor items so I was able to pick up the rope wick (came in a package of two) and the liquid bug repellent for under $10 total. I chose the ‘clean burn’ version of the liquid repellent, which has less smoke/flame but maintains the same effectiveness of the standard version. You could use any bug repellent/torch fuel that is designed to be burned in this manner.

Next, its time for assembly!

I had Adam use a drill bit to puncture a hole in the mason jar lid, and fed the rope wick through the opening. You could probably use a hole punch too, but I just didn’t have one on hand. Then I filled the jar about 1/4 of the way and trimmed the wick so it was just a couple inches tall. It took a few minutes for the wick to soak up enough of the liquid to ignite, but once it did I snapped this picture…


I really like that there is no smoke/soot coming from this ‘clean burning’ torch fuel, as that was one of my biggest hesitations to ever investing in the traditional ‘tiki torches’.

Last step…Enjoy!

I made a few different lanterns with a few different sizes and colors of mason jars, and set them out on the front porch when we were out there the other night. Not only did they look cute, but they served a great purpose too!


Quick safety note, these jars do get warm after being lit for a long period of time, so be sure to let them cool before handling them. Also, I like to put them in a metal tray or on concrete (or anything non-flammable) just in case they were to be tipped over.

That’s all I have for you today! I hope you are enjoying those long summer evenings and if you are having a biting insect problem like we were, you might give these lanterns a whirl! As always, thanks for stopping by the blog today!


Entryway Table Refresh

Hi there! I’m writing to you from a cold and rainy day here in Iowa, but it’s just for one day so I can handle it. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I have been stalking my plants to see when they will come out of the ground and they have made some progress the last couple of days! There is finally hard evidence we are at the end of this epic long winter, and all this anticipation just makes it that much more enjoyable. It’s seriously like Christmas for me, I cannot wait until the weather permits me to be outside full time.

In celebration of all things spring, its time to refresh the entryway saw horse table. I’m not sure why I dread styling this table, maybe because it is such a focal point to the interior of my home and I always want it to be perfect. Or it could be that I just need more things in the epic huge entryway so it doesn’t seem like it’s the only thing to look at. EITHER WAY, I tackled it yesterday and wanted to share it with you all.

As you know, I usually divide this long table into sections, which I highly recommend if you are trying to style a large piece. My husband Adam always pokes fun at me moving things around 100x until I get them right, but if I start small and build on it then this usually eliminates at least 50% of the rearranging. Anyway, here’s the first section I completed, which is the left side of the table.


I went back and forth on using books in front of the large spool, a lot, but here’s the version without them. These are all things I gathered up around my house and took out of my decor stash. I am a firm believer that you don’t need to buy new things and spend a ton of money to decorate your home, just collect over time and reuse the same items.


Here we have the right side of the table. I am a huge fan of this vintage birdcage and try to incorporate it into every season’s decor. Check out my post on the DIY clothespins here, if you want to make some of your own.


And here is a photo of the entire table! I moved the copper lanterns down below for this photo, but they are glass and not conducive to being played with by a 1 year old, so they had to be moved out of reach. I am happy with how this table turned out and now I need the weather to cooperate so I can give some spring vibes to the front porch.

Soon. Very soon.

Until then, I want to thank you for stopping by the blog today and I hope you were able to gleam some inspiration for your own homes. I’m off to finish my list before nap time is over!


The Easiest Decor DIY Ever!

Hi there! I’m writing to you from sunny Iowa, and while 40 degrees might not be warm where you are from, it’s certainly a welcomed sight in this region! Today I have a super easy and quick DIY ready for you, perfect for filling in those small spaces in your home.

You will need:

  1. Twine

  2. Clothespins

  3. Scissors

That’s it!

Let’s get to it!

I picked up these clothespins and twine from Lowes

I picked up these clothespins and twine from Lowes

Now that you have everything gathered up, take the scissors and cut a 2 to 3 foot section of twine and begin to wrap it around a clothespin, with no particular pattern. I like to choose varying lengths of twine and make some clothespins ‘fatter’ than others, so they all appear different when piled up together. Repeat this process as many times as you desire, and you can either hot glue the ends or simply tuck them in.

These little twine clothespins are great fillers for any decor, since they are neutral and not specific to a season. Here are a couple photos of how I used them just today.


This project was also very budget friendly, I think the grand total was around $7. For those looking for clothespins, I found them in the cabinet organization section at Lowes (don’t ask me why they keep them there, I never understand how that place is organized).

Well, I am headed back outside now that all of my winter decorations are officially unfrozen from the front porch….it’s time to clean that area up!

As always, thanks for stopping by the blog today!


Hanging Cast Iron Cookware

Hi friends!

Today I have a quick post for all the cast iron cookware lovers out there. We love using this cookware at our home but find it impossible to have enough room to store all of the heavy/bulky pieces. My husband has wanted to hang up a pot rack over the island for years, but I didn’t want all the heavy cookware to block the view of the rest of the living area. Finally, during one of the 800 snow days this month, we came to an agreement on how to hang and store our cast iron pots and pans.

Our pantry was the obvious location, due to it’s proximity to the stove and vast amount of unused space. We also needed the pans out of reach of our 1 year old, so hanging them on the wall seemed to be the best choice. Adam found a barn wood 2x4 in the garage and fastened it to the wall in the pantry, and then added the gas pipe and fittings. For those of you that don’t happen to have a ton of gas pipe sitting around in your garage, you can buy them from any hardware store. We used 1/2in size, but you could use larger if desired. The only downside to working with gas pipe (besides the grease) is all the adhesive and stickers that have to be removed. If you follow us on Instagram, you saw my struggles with this the other night on stories.


Here is a close up photo of the gas pipe hardware. I had some old shower curtain hooks from a previous residence that I used to hang up the pots and pans, but I’m sure you could find something more aesthetically pleasing on Amazon. In the future I plan to hang up another identical rack below this one, and use it for hang baskets for potatoes and veggies from the garden (to get them off of the kitchen counters).


Here is the view from outside our pantry.

While this was a quick and easy project, it really has been a game changer for kitchen storage. For those of you who use cast iron cookware, you know its bulky and some sizes can be hard to fit in drawers and cabinets. This storage solution took five skillets and one large stock pot out of our cupboards, freeing up space for further organization.

I hope this post brought some inspiration to your own kitchen organization! Thanks for stopping by the blog today!


DIY Laundry Detergent

Hi friends! Today I want to share a quick post on my DIY laundry detergent. If you have been following along you know that I love all things budget friendly, and when it comes to cleaners and detergents I prefer as few chemicals as possible for my family. Now I also believe there is a time and a place for bleach, and I am not opposed to busting out the heavy duty cleaners if needed, I just prefer not to use those for laundry.

Let’s get to it! This recipe is SO simple, and makes a large amount!

Here are the ingredients:


8 cups Baking Soda

6 cups Super Washing Soda

2 bars castile soap (grated)

I like to use one bar of peppermint and one of lavender, but this time I only had lavender on hand.

Mix the baking and washing soda together in a large bucket, grate the bars of soap and mix again.

That’ts it! I use 1/8 cup per load. Not only does this clean your clothes and smell amazing, but it also cleans your washing machine! I store my detergent in a large glass jar, pictured below.

I also have been using wool dryer balls for YEARS (in place of fabric sheets) and never had to replace them! I use them with or without a drop of essential oil (for scent) and I have found that the more dryer balls I put in with my clothes, the faster they dry. This saves energy as the machine runs for a shorter amount of time.


This little DIY laundry routine has really cut down the cost of washing/drying laundry in our family, and I hope it can bring some inspiration to yours! Have you tried this homemade detergent? Let me know how you like it!

Looking for the products I used for this post?

These are affiliate links, to see my full disclosure click here.


DIY Candlesticks

Hello! I hope January is treating you well, wherever you are located. Iowa is gearing up for a major winter storm, and while the snow is pretty, it generates some long days and nights of snow removal. If you find yourself snowed in, I have a super easy winter craft to share with you today, and if you are fortunate enough to have great weather then pin this post for a rainy day!

Candlesticks are new to my personal decor, although I have seen people use them for years and always admired their versatility. I had planned on purchasing some the next time I saw a good deal (I never pay full price for anything) but recently I went to a thrift store and saw they had old staircase spindles for $2 a piece, so I picked up a few and decided to try making my own. I think they turned out really well, and I wanted to share how I made them since it was SO easy! Let’s get to it!


Here are the staircase spindles straight from the thrift store, very budget friendly at $2 a piece!

The first step is to wipe them down of any dust or grease, I used a bleach wipe but you could use anything you have on hand.


Next, I used some white chalk paint that I had on hand to paint the spindles, using two coats. Make sure to take a brush and wipe out any excess paint within the details/grooves in the woodwork.

Then, grab a piece of sandpaper and sand down/distress to your taste.

Clean off the spindles using a lint free cloth, and apply a VERY thin layer of wax to seal, wipe off excess with another lint free cloth.


After these dry completely, preferably overnight, cut them to desired sizes. I was able to get 5 different sized candlesticks out of these three spindles.

Now for the fun part! Decorate!

I had fun styling these candlesticks with greenery and even put them in a birdcage that I had on hand. Next fall I plan to use them to hold pumpkins, and maybe even ornaments next Christmas. These are such a versatile piece of decor, I can’t believe I didn’t have any until now, but better late than never!.

My (No-Cost) Holiday Front Porch!

Last week I wrapped up my decorating for the year by completing my front porch, and it was a challenge! If you follow me on Instagram (@aps_design) you already know that I posted the whole process on stories that day, attempting to do the entire porch with items I already had at home, no purchases!

This was a personal challenge I came up with because I know I have a ton of items at home that I should be creative with and use for decorating, but I usually forget to do that and just purchase what I need instead. But, in the spirit of budget friendly, I went with a no-cost front porch this year! Now I will admit, I have a large collection of random items that helped make this task possible, but I did have to get creative in using them and some of these methods could inspire you as well!

Lets get to it!

I worked on the right side of the porch first, collecting items and putting them in a wagon that I found in my garage. I had made some ‘presents’ out of blocks of wood earlier this season and decided they would go well together in the wagon. The crock that is also in the wagon could probably use some greenery but in the spirit of not buying anything for this porch decor, it remains empty.

The large rusted milk jug is a staple piece for my front steps, so it always stays out there in some capacity. This season I gave it some height by positioning it on top of an overturned wooden apple box.

I piled the wood slices up in front of the wagon to add more of a woodsy/rustic/tree farm feel to the picture.

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The left side of my porch was a bit more challenging, as I did not have any Christmas lights on green wire, but in the evening hours when the tree is lit it’s not as noticeable. I simply put the tree in an old wash bin and stacked some wood slices in front of it.

During my scavenger hunt in the garage, I found this beautiful vintage sled and half barn door that I had previously forgotten about. I grabbed a little greenery and tied it to the sled. Ideally, I would find some old ice skates to pair with the sled, if I wasn’t doing a no-cost challenge!

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Here’s the final look!

Again, I would have done things a little bit differently if I wasn’t doing this little personal challenge of not purchasing anything for the front porch, but this did force me to look through things I already had and be creative in using them. I hope this can provide some inspiration with your own budget friendly decorating! Merry Christmas!

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Wrap It Up! An Easy Christmas Wrapping Guide

Hey friends! It’s officially December! the purchased gifts have started rolling in from all those black Friday sales and they are just waiting to be wrapped!

How do you tackle this final stage?

Maybe you are a seasoned professional and have the picture perfect gifts under the tree….?


Maybe you put everything in a gift bag 10 minutes before they are exchanged…?


Maybe you wish to have some cute & matching wrapped gifts but don't know where to start and also don't want to tack on a bunch of expense making it happen…?

Well, I am here today to give you some simple and inexpensive solutions to this gift wrapping dilemma…

Just follow these easy steps!

  1. Choose at least two different papers that coordinate well together. I always go with a simple brown paper and then add in something else with a little color. This year I accented with red, which i normally stay away from during holiday decorating but i gave it a shot! I really like lined paper, as it helps eliminate waste. These are from the hearth and hand collection at target.


2. I like to use a stamp to address the gifts, either with first initial or full name, this cuts down on tag costs and also looks a bit more ‘homemade’. If you prefer tags, these on the right are some cute and inexpensive choices from the target dollar spot.


3. Next, select your gift toppers. This year i gathered up some wooden stickers from the target dollar spot (pictured below) and faux greenery. .


4. Assembly! I went through my craft bin and grabbed a couple different styles of twine, and a mini bell ornament (displayed on the red package).

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That’s it! I really like how handmade these packages look with no fancy bows or glittery ribbon, but that is just my style. your style might look different and that’s ok, this post is just meant to be a guide.

Also, the total amount spent on wrapping materials this year is around $14, which will cover dozens of gifts. Budget friendly and cute!

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My Entryway Sawhorse Table

Hi Friends! I’m slowly getting my home ready to go for Christmas, and I love decorating this fun sawhorse table in my entryway each and every season. My husband made it several years ago, and it continues to be a focal point in our home. I thought I would share what I did with it this year so you can get some ideas or inspiration for your own home!

I had these random steel buckets from a thrift store, a DIY Christmas garland that I made, and some jingle bells and other random items that I wanted to incorporate.

I love this old spool and jingle bells!

I love this old spool and jingle bells!

DIY Fabric Garland, click for instructions!

DIY Fabric Garland, click for instructions!

Here is how it all turned out, I love all of the different textures (metal, fabric, etc) along with the black and white and plaid holiday colors. Can you tell I am loving buffalo check this year??

My Saw Horse Entryway Table

My Saw Horse Entryway Table

Repurposing old items is one of my favorite decorating hacks! These hooks that hold up the lanterns on either side of the table are from an old carriage house/barn that had to be torn down due to storm damage. Just think of all of the horse and carriage equipment that hung on these hooks for decades, now they are continuing their work in my home! (I’m a history nerd, I know!)

Well that is all I have for you for now, stay tuned for the rest of my décor in my personal home as I get it completed!



PS. I put together a simple (budget friendly!) guide to adding buffalo check to your home’s décor, and if you are stumped or need ideas feel free to check it out by clicking here!

(Note: The above link contains affiliate links and you can read my full disclosure here)