20 DIY Projects & Recipes to Welcome Fall

I'm a typical Great Lakes girl who loves having her four seasons, my favorite being fall. To celebrate the beginning of cooler weather and a changing menu of in-season items, here are 15 projects and recipes to inspire you.

DIY Succulent Grapevine Wreath

I wanted to freshen up my front door for spring, but all of the wreaths I had my eye on were a little out of budget. I wanted something simple and organic in style. It was only on a whim while at a craft store that this grapevine wreath caught my eye. I quickly found a roll of faux moss and a few very realistic faux succulents, bringing the total of this project to less than $12!

Price breakdown:

  • Grapevine wreath: $4.99
  • Faux succulent stem: $3.99
  • Faux moss roll: $2.99
It helps that I already had some hot glue and wire cutters at home, but those weren't even really necessary for this project.


  • Grapevine wreath
  • faux moss roll
  • faux succulents with wire stems
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • wire cutters
The first step is to secure the faux moss to the back of the wreath. You can either tie it to a stem, or add a dot of hot glue and attach it.

The next step is to wrap the faux moss all the way around the width of the wreath until you have gone all the way around. Tie off again to attach end of moss roll to wreath, or hot glue the end to the back of the wreath.

This particular moss had thin tendrils hanging off it, which I wrapped around other twigs around the wreath and tied off:

Next, it's time to attach the succulents. 

There are two ways to do this:

1. Cut wire stems off the succulents and hot glue the succulents bases to the front of the wreath
2. Leave the stems on; stick the stems through the front of the wreath and bend them to hold their places. Hot glue the base of the succulent to secure if necessary.

You can add as many or as few succulents as you'd like! I didn't want my wreath to be overstated, so I stuck to just three succulents.  

After all glue is cooled, your wreath is ready for hanging!

Win a Copy of My New Book, Creative Cut Cards!

It's finally here! This was a big project of mine last summer, and it's a thrill to finally hold it in my hands. Creative Cut Cards from Lark Crafts features 35 paper cut greeting card tutorials, including 10 of my own designs! This book is such  rich resource for those who love making greeting cards. The beauty of these particular projects is that you don't have to buy expensive embellishments, stamps, stickers, etc.; most of these cards simply require card stock; paper; adhesive; and a craft knife.

Each of these projects includes full color photos; complete instructions; and real-size templates to help you get a perfect cut!

The best part? I'm giving away a free, signed copy to celebrate! It's really easy to enter:

The giveaway is on my Instagram account. You have two ways to enter, or you could do both to double your chances:

1. Follow me on Instagram and like this photo:
2. Tag a friend in the comments of this photo:

πŸŽ‰It's giveaway time!πŸŽ‰ You can win a signed copy of this book, Creative Cut Cards: 35 card-making tutorials with photos and templates! TO ENTER: choose one method, or both to double your chances: 1. Follow me @theashleypahl & like this photo; OR 2. Tag a friend in the comments below. To win, you must have a U.S. address and 18 or older. Giveaway ends at noon EST on April 5th 2016. Per Instagram rules, I must tell you that Instagram is in no way sponsoring, affiliated with, or administering this giveaway. . . #giveaway #instagramgiveaway #contest #instagramcontest #ashleypaper #CreativeCutCards #makersgonnamake #getcrafty #creativityfound #paperlove #papercutting #greetingcards #diy #win #instabook #creative #abmcrafty #lovetocreate #stationeryaddict #stationery #stationerylove #papercut #etsy
A photo posted by Handmade Paper Goods (@theashleypahl) on

The giveaway ends tomorrow, April 5th. Open only to U.S. residents age 18 and older.

If you don't win, check out Creative Cut Cards on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, now available!

Follow me on Instagram: @TheAshleyPahl

Hamilton Beach Stand & Hand Mixer Giveaway and Review

**UPDATE: two giveaway winners have been chosen - find them announced below!**

It's time for the giveaway you've been waiting for! When Hamilton Beach offered me both a stand mixer and a 6 speed hand mixer to review AND giveaway to my readers, I was barely able to contain my excitement! I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to try these out for myself and treat two of you.

There was no better time than December to try these mixers. Between my daughter's birthday; school parties; holiday gatherings; and family meals, I got to try out all aspects of these mixers so that you know my personal experience with them.

First, a little about each mixer:

Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer: 

I've felt a little behind in the baking world over the last 10 years as every member of my family + every cooking TV show host has obtained a coveted stand mixer. I am thrilled to say that every recipe I tried with my new stand mixer so far has been a success.

With the stand mixer you get:
  • 3 different mixing attachments: a dough hook, whisk, and flat beater
  • A stainless steel, 4 quart bowl which is dishwasher safe
  • A splatter shield
  • Non-slip feet
  • A tilt-up head for easy bowl access
  • 7 speeds for true versatility

The mixer also has a 300 Watt motor for complete bowl coverage and hands-free mixing.

Hamilton Beach 6 Speed Hand Mixer:

This hand mixer was clearly designed for convenience. It has:
  • 6 attachments: twisted wire beaters, a milkshake mixer, dough hooks, and a whisk
  • A snap-on storage case
  • A pulse function for extra mixing control
  • A burst button for peak power

The Review

I wanted to start my review on the easy side of baking. My first test recipe was my daughter's 6th birthday cake. I made a red velvet cake from a box mix, and used the hand mixer.  Simple, smooth, and as expected - my batter turned out well (and I LOVE the detachable storage case for the mixing attachments).

For my next recipe it was time to turn it up a notch: homemade cream cheese frosting. For the cream cheese frosting I used the flat beater because I was working with something a little tougher: butter and cream cheese.

In order to mix the homemade cream cheese frosting evenly, I first blended the cream cheese and butter, and slowly added the milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla.

I can't believe it but I forgot to take a picture of the finished cake at the party. I guess I was too busy lighting candles and singing.

After my daughter's birthday it was time to prepare for Christmas. I always make my homemade sugar cookies and amazing buttercream frosting. It's my most popular blog post by a long shot, so I think most readers agree that this recipe is no joke. You can find the recipe here.

Again, I used the paddle beater to create the dough from scratch. Now this is why I wanted a stand mixer. I love the idea of baking almost as much as I love the end product, but what I don't love is the mixing and mess. Having this stand mixer has already improved my attitude towards baking - making these cookies was a breeze!

For the frosting I thought it was time to try out the whisk. Buttercream frosting does not require a difficult amount of mixing as long as the butter is softened. As always, I beat my butter with milk and vanilla, and slowly added powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. I found that periodically I needed to pause the mixing and scrape down the side of the bowl; however, it's not hard with the tilt-back mixer head.

Finally, I wanted to use the dough hook attachment. During the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve I made 2 loaves of my family recipe for kolache/poppy seed roll.

As with the cookies, I tend to view making dough as a chore, but the stand mixer has changed everything! I used the dough hook to do the work for me: after mixing ingredients, all I had to do was let the dough rise.

Baking for the holidays was never easier.


**This giveaway is now closed! 2 winners have been selected: Amber S. has won the stand mixer, and Brenda C. has won the hand mixer. Please check your email to confirm you are able to accept your prize! Thanks! **

Guess what? Now it's your turn to get cooking!

TWO lucky blog readers will win one of two Hamilton Beach mixers!

Prize #1: a Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer (view here). The winner will be chosen at random from all entries, and the first winner drawn will win the stand mixer.

Prize #2: a Hamilton Beach 6 Speed Hand Mixer with Pulse and Snap-On Case (view here). Winner #2 will be chosen at random from all entries, and the second winner drawn will win the hand mixer.

To win: enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter form below. You may choose just one, favorite entry method, or all entry methods below. You must be a U.S. citizen and age 18 or older.

The winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter, and I will contact the winner via the email they used in the signup form. This giveaway closes at 12:00 AM on 2/2/16.

Okay, now good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Creating Custom Etsy Shop Graphics with Stock Photography

To celebrate the opening of my new Etsy shop, Minted Pines, I am going to teach you how to create and customize your very own Etsy shop kit!

In this tutorial I am using photos from my new stock photography shop, which were all photographed by me, and I am now offering to you as 100% royalty free, commercial and personal-use photography. These photos can be used by designers, crafters, writers, bloggers, and small business owners for any web use, and some print uses.

These royalty-free stock photos can be used an unlimited number of times online, so they are perfect for creating a cohesive visual brand identity for your small business, shop, or blog.

Today, we are using the photos to make Etsy shop banners; product image place holders; and a shop icon/avatar.

I will also be teaching you to use two different resources, which are completely free when you use just their free resources: Canva.com and PicMonkey.com. Let's get started!

1. Making a banner on Canva.com

First, sign-in or create an account at Canva.com. Some of Canva's designs and elements are free, and some are not. I will be using exclusively free layouts and elements in this tutorial.

To start, I selected the "Etsy Banner" project from the home page, and under layouts, I chose "Terrific Terrariums".

The first step in customizing this banner is to replace the photo with your stock photo. Click uploads, and upload your own image. After uploading, drag and drop onto the current image in the Canva design. This will replace their image with your own.

Next, you can alter the image with a filter, or adjust the brightness, contrast, and more. To edit the image in your banner, click on the image; two tool bars will pop up - click "filter" to edit the image, and "crop" to adjust the size and portion of the image in the banner.

In this banner, I want to adjust the transparency of the black box surrounding the text. I like being able to see some of the stock photo underneath. To adjust the transparency, click the black box; click the arrow on the right side of the tool bar that pops up, and adjust the transparency slider until you are happy with how it looks.

Now it's time to adjust the text. Replace the Canva text with your own shop name. Change the font to one you use with your business, or one that coordinates with your aesthetic. You can also adjust the text size and color with this tool bar. Canva also has dotted line guides that will pop up to assist you in centering your text.

Now, just change the name of your file, and download to your computer. The banner is already sized perfectly for use on Etsy.

2. Creating a shop icon and image place holder:

An Etsy shop icon needs to be at least 500 pixels square. To create this, I chose the  square "Album" project from the Canva.com homepage, and selected the "Surf School" layout.

If you already uploaded your stock image for the Etsy banner project, you won't need to upload it again - it should still be in your Canva uploads. Simply select your image again, and drag and drop it onto the layout.

After adding your image, adjust the color of the circle overlay if you like. Here, I chose to change the circle to black.

Next, edit your text. Replace the Canva text with your own, editing the font, size, and color to fit your brand. You can delete any unneeded Canva text by clicking on it, and clicking the trashcan in the toolbar that will pop up with it.

Image place holder ideas include: reserved listings; custom orders; bulk orders; buy-one, get one deals, etc.

Change the title of your design, and download it to save. A square image place holder of at least 1000 pixels wide works well for both product image place holders and Etsy icons. Remember to consider the layout of your image when uploading to product photos, as images will be cropped by Etsy to fit their thumbnail size; however, you will be able to adjust the thumbnail to some extent.

3. Using PicMonkey.com to create an Etsy Banner

In my experience Canva is easier to use as it does all of the hard work of measuring, laying out, and cropping for you. On the otherhand, PicMonkey.com can be more flexible and makes it easy to crop and edit size.

When creating an Etsy Banner on PicMonkey, you must first upload the image by selecting, "edit" on the homepage.

Next, you will want to crop the stock image to 760 pixels wide by 100 pixels tall. Use the "no fixed proportions" on the crop tool drop-down menu to do this. Click and drag the crop grid on the stock photo to get the right portion of the photo you want to feature in your banner.

Next, add an overlay. Click on the butterfly graphic on the left side of the screen. Select "Geometric" from the overlay menu, and click your shape just once. The shape will appear on your banner. Click and drag to place the overlay where you want it on your banner, and click and drag the corners of the overlay to change the size. You can also adjust the transparency of the overlay by adjusting the "fade" slider on the overlay pop up menu.

Now it's time to add text. Click the "Tt" symbol on the left side of your screen. Select the font you would like to use on your banner, and adjust the size and alignment as needed. I chose to center my text on the overlay.
 When finished, click "save", rename, and save your banner at the highest quality image setting.

4. Etsy Product Image Place Holder

Upload your stock photo again on PicMonkey. This time when cropping, select a pre-determined ratio. For an Etsy image place holder, an 8 x 10 (landscape) crop works best. Make sure your image is at least 1000 pixels wide.

Add an overlay, center, and adjust transparency and color however you wish.

Layer over with text that is the same or compliments the text you used in your banner.

After centering text, save your image at the highest quality available on PicMonkey.

5. Etsy Shop Icon

You can use the same open file from your Etsy product image place holder to create the square shop icon.

Edit the text to say your shop name, or use a monogram such as "FT" for FERN Terrariums in this example.

Crop the image to a square with the text directly in the middle.

Save the image at the highest quality PicMonkey allows.

And that is it for a basic Etsy graphics set! You are not limited to just Etsy graphics when you buy commercial-use images from Minted Pines - you can create graphics for your website, blog posts, Facebook cover & buttons, Twitter, Instagram, newsletters, etc. The possibilities are really endless!

Need help with this? If you purchase any of my stock photos, I can help make them into shop graphics for you! Message me on Etsy if you have questions before purchasing. Or, visit Minted Pines now!
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