March-Spring-St.Patrick’s Day-Mantels Decor-2015

     As promised, today I am sharing with you our mantels for March, the month of St. Patrick’s Day, and the beginning of the spring season. (Calendar-wise anyway. God-willing the weather will reflect the same.)   004_March-St-Patricks-Day-Spring-Mantels-Decor-ideas
The decor for these mantels is super minimal and simple. It also features artwork I recently did, 4-Leaf Clover Art, which I blogged about most recently. Visit the link to see more about the inspiration for the piece.  But right now in this post, here are some photos to [Read more…]

Old/Antique Bottles


My family and I live on the south shore of Massachusetts, now. But I (Laura) was born and raised out in western MA, in the city of Westfield. Most times when I go back home to my parent’s house, my father urges me to take anything in the house that I want, for myself. “Anything at all”, he stresses.  I most always dismiss his invitation because, frankly, I want everything to stay there, just as it is.  Forever, really. But at least, for as long as possible.

You see, my mother passed away in 2005.  It’s so hard for me to believe it’s been that long already.  But what’s harder for most others to believe, is that my father has kept everything in the house, just as it was when my mother was there.  He even keeps it clean. Vacuumed, dusted, the dishes done; everything. You’d think she was still there.

It’s a 100 year old 3-story, 2 family house. Walking into that house, [Read more…]

Back-To-School Mantels / Home Decorating Ideas

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There is something about the back-to-school season, that I have always loved.  With all of the fresh new supplies and clothes, and the whole new school year stretched out before us, with so much yet to be learned, it’s just always been an exciting time to me.  Even though we homeschool, and even school right through the summer, we (even the kids) still love the excitement that the start of a whole new school year brings!  All new books, fresh supplies, new experiences, and a new season to grow academically.

It’s that love for all things ‘back-to-school’ that inspired these mantels in our home! It’s a theme that fits just right, through the month of September!
I used [Read more…]

A Christmas Cards Display Idea

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 When the Christmas season arrives every year, and the cards start coming in the mail, what do you do with them?  Do you just put them in a pile and let them stack up? Or do you like to display them somehow, for all to see?  If you display them, how do you manage that? I bet you all have had some pretty creative ideas yourselves.

We’ve had a few solution ideas of our own over the years, for the Christmas cards we gratefully get in the mail. Way back, we just put them in a beautiful Christmas basket. That was kind of sad though, as we know many are really excited about their cards every year, and we’d hate for them to be hidden. Especially the ones with photos of kids and families, or the special notes.
We’ve also just tied a pretty ribbon across a beam in our main living area, and let them hang on that.
Getting more creative still, for a few years, we stood a white folding accordion door in the corner of the room, and the louvers (slats) worked beautifully for hanging cards. Of course, like with the string idea, the vertical cards hung horizontally. It was still a nice way to display everyone’s cards though. 

Last year though, I came up with a new idea, that I think we’ll stick with for some time. It’s very homemade and rustic, and I just love it.
Take a look . . . .

01_Christmas-cards-display-idea What do you think? 
It was actually just a long scrap of plywood we had on hand. (Repurposing at it’s best!).  
This one happens to be about 11″x 76″.   You can use any similar long board though.  You just want to be sure it is thin enough to be able to clamp clothespins on.

03_Christmas-cards-display-idea We also used some rough rope, in which I intertwined some thin satin rope around, just to add some pretty to the rough look.
The roping is mostly for decorative purposes, though. It will hold some horizontal cards well enough, but if it slides, it knocks other down. And that’s just frustrating.
I like the look of the clothespins, and it helps secure the cards of all sizes.

02_Christmas-cards-display-idea So this scrap board was painted white and then rough sanded. I didn’t put a lot of effort into that wood-finishing part at all, because really….I was hopeful that if enough people thought of us whilst filling out their Christmas cards, most of that board would be covered, anyway.  ;)
The scrap blocks of wood (you see) on the back, at the top and bottom of the board, not only add stability to the board for it to sit well on the floor and lean against the wall.  There is a notch cut at the top and bottom of the board, for the rope to wrap around to the other side inset, and then there is hole through the block for the rope to go though and be secured to the other side. It sounds complicated, but it really is simple in design.  Sorry I forgot to get a pic of the back side for you. If you are confused and  have a question on this, go ahead and ask in the comments.
04_Christmas-cards-display-idea Completely optional tidbit:  I soaked my clothespins in tea water overnight, to try and antique them some. It worked; but honestly, it’s too subtle for the effort in my opinion. Maybe I did it wrong?
I think at some point I will take these clothespins, and revert to what always works beautifully for me; a touch of my Annie Sloane Dark Wax. Love-that-stuff!

05_Christmas-cards-display-idea To really dress up the top, I added these large rusted-looking jingle bells, hung with twine. I love jingle bells! 

CONSIDER THIS:  You could use this whole idea, and change the whole style of it depending on how you finish it and what you use as detail elements!
For example: paint a smooth new board with a clean white paint, omit the sanding, putty and paint your screw holes, and use a wide frilly ribbon down the board, with a big fancy bow at the top!

06_Christmas-cards-display-idea But the rustic, farmhouse look suits us just fine.

07_Christmas-cards-display-idea Yes, just another crazy idea, from our house to yours! 
If you love it, bookmark it! You could try the idea yourself this year or some other coming year. Or simply share it with your friends who follow you on your social networks.  They’ll love you for it.
  And hey, while your here, say hello, and share your thoughts.

Hope your homes are feeling a little bit of your Christmas love!
These are the little things that make any house, a home, for the ones you love.
~Laura

Reversible Fall toThanksgiving Home Decor Blocks Craft Tutorial

 I’ve got one last Fall-themed project to share with you this season, before I move on.
You may remember I shared these happy Fall blocks in this post, in which I was giving you a little close-up tour of my Fall mantels. I mentioned that I had made these blocks, that they were more versatile than they appeared, and that I would share why when I got to that project post.

Well this is that post!

01_Fall-Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial Here are the blocks already shown to you.   They were created to look well worn, long loved, and a bit old.
Just how I like everything.  :)

And shown here, are the blocks backsides . . . .
13_Give-Thanks-Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial I made the block to transition from every day Fall, to a Thanksgiving-themed message for those weeks in November.
What do you think?  Nice surprise? Good idea?  I was thinking so!

They are really simple to make.  I just found making these blocks fun and relaxing.
I tend to get a little Zen, working in my studio anyway.
So if you think you’d like to make some, sometime, I’m going to show you just how I did it, right now.

02_bare-wooden-block I started out with 10 blocks, just like these.
Well, actually, I started out with 8 blocks just like these. Then 9. And finally 10. But that is a frustrating story I’ll tell you about later on.   But the project took 10 blocks, anyway.
These simple wooden blocks come in various sizes; these are the 2″ blocks.   I got them at A.C. Moore’s. They are not available at my local Michael’s, anyway.
They are smooth and finished-feeling on 4 sides, except for what I considered the tops and bottoms.

03_brightly-colored-painted-blocks I chose my favorite Fall hues of acrylic paint, and painted them all. They did take two coats.

04 Next I had Michael cut two inch letters out of vinyl, and weeded out the letters.

05 After covering that sheet with transfer tape, I cut each letter block to size.

06 Peeling off the back, I then applied them well to a face of each block, one at a time with a squeegee, and pulled off the transfer . 
It was important to make sure the rough surfaces were not used. The vinyl would work as a mask.

07 I had a pile of scraps that looked like I had been working really hard, so I photographed it, and left it for awhile. :)

08_white-paint-on-paintbrush White acrylic paint and flat brush, ready to go.

09 All painted in.  I think it required two coats.

10 Before the second coat dried all of the way, I carefully peeled off the mask.
Now while painting them was rather enjoyable for me, these next steps are the part I really love to do….
11 But I didn’t really photograph those steps. :/  Sorry!   It’s easy enough to tell you about though. 
I’m talking about sanding and aging the blocks.
To sand, I used 100 grit sand paper on a sanding block. I use the sanding block because it keeps my sanding surface flat and hard, for my uniform sanding.  Also, it’s a lot easier on my fingers, which get torn up very easily.  Where do I sand?  I like to hit the surface, to wear that a little. But I really go at the edges and corners, where they would normally wear the most.
But after sanding, we are left with clean, bare new wood. Not good, for antique blocks. Right?
So next I rub around some dark wax, with an old t-shirt rag.  I-love-this-stuff! It really does age the look of the paint, and just dirty things up just right.
You rub it on and essentially, rub it back off to. While working not as hard to get it off, where you want to leave more.
Make sense?  The stuff is messy, as you might guess from that rag up there. And it stinks to high Heaven. But, somehow I don’t mind it much, working with it. It’s like the smell of creativity, at work!

Here’s a closer look at the effects of my sanding and waxing . . . .
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And now, my blocks all on display . . . .
13_Give-Thanks-Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial Ta-DAAA!!!  I was so happy not to have to put my blocks away, to make room for some Thanksgiving decor.
I’m already pondering making more block sets for other holidays and seasons. In fact, actually, I already have a set for spring (in a very different finishing style and size) I made last year and never shared. I plan to come spring though.
But, back to the here and now.

14_Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial Of course, you can set up your blocks, and utilize them in any way you’d like.  Here is another arrangement I played with.

Because it’s the details I worked so hard for (in a fun/playing sort of way), that make these blocks look like maybe one of our grandmothers passed them down to us, I couldn’t stop photographing them . . . .
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16 Ok enough of that. Now, you can skip this little story-paragraph if you want, right down to after the next photo.
But I’d like to explain the story of the 10th block:  For weeks, I only had 8, and then 9, blocks. Because that’s all there was at the store!  In fact the first trip, I bought none, because there wasn’t enough to spell what I wanted!  I needed 10 to do this project. I inquired though, and the lady assured me that if they were low, more was coming in the next day. So I returned the next day, and there were still only 8!!  So I figured…I need to buy those, so they be sure to get more! (Because supposedly, it’s all electronic.) 
Next trip, the bin there was still empty. I was desperate!! So I plopped down on the floor and pulled out all of the other sized blocks onto the floor, hoping to find some 2″ers  in the wrong bin.
And I found ONE!!  ARRGGG!!  So I worked with the 9 I had. I got those all done, and had enough to make my HAPPY FALL.  But I’d need that last one to complete GIVE THANKS.  
Finally, a new shipment of them came in, and I got my last block, which I did start to finish, all by itself, just in time. It was the “A” in THANKS.

What to do with the other side? . . . .

17 I made an exclamation point!  To use from then on, with my HAPPY FALL(!).  Because if you all know me, you know it’s worthy of an exclamation point.  I do love Fall, that much!

If you love what I’ve done here, believe me when I say, (if you have a vinyl cutter of any kind), you can do this!  And if not, other crafters will love you for sharing the idea! 

So go ahead and PIN the image below on Pinterest!

Reversible-Decor-Blocks-Tutorial
That’s a wrap for projects for this season this year. ( I think. ;)  )   Time to start thinking about Christmas!
Thanks for making my day, and coming by!  Hope you take a moment to share your thoughts, and say hello!
~Laura