A Very Simple Fall Mantel


Decorating the mantel for each season has to be one of my favorite things. It is always unplanned, that is the way I like it, at least at home … grab a few things from around the house and put them together having a good time, enjoying the process and playing, the same way I used to play with barbies when I was a little girl and also later on, not so little. Decorating their houses, mostly made of cardboard boxes and dividers (I think evaporated milk came that way at the time, I think wine comes that way still now) was my favorite activity along with designing their wardrobe, and since we were eight brothers and sisters, there were always plenty empty boxes available to play with. Those dividers were a dream come true, I was able to change the rooms distribution any time I wanted! (designers dream!)


This year I wanted to keep things simple, made a promise to myself about not over thinking so stuff gets actually done!  The problem was when I thought about making a post about decorating the Mantel for Fall, I felt the need to “finish” it, to make it better.  Moving things around I “discovered” I needed to purchase a few items … I don’t want to buy more stuff, I really want to spend more time living and enjoying than trying to make things perfect…good is good enough, right? or at least it should be, so…I didn’t buy anything! (Who am I?!   I don’t know this woman!)

These are some pictures of the mantel with a few variations…couldn’t stop myself from playing with the things and broke one of the candle-holders!  I would had liked the moss balls to be bigger and some of the pumpkins to be smaller… oh well, what a surprise!  Isn’t that the way it always goes for everybody?


Taking pictures with my iPhone is not very professional, I know! the indoor photos look gloomy and colorless and the definition is not that good…This looks so greenish, yellowish, “horriblish”… it looks so much better in person. I promise! perhaps I should upgrade to an iphone 6, just never wanted to do it only because it came out, don’t understand the need to have the latest gadget when I know for sure I barely understand all I could do with the one I already have… that is at least my impression.


The two windows flanking the fireplace are facing north and this particular area between the two of them is a bit gloomy… There is a big mirror on top of the fireplace to bounce the light coming from other places and a light above it, but for some reason it isn’t enough…very unnatural and cold light!   I know I could do better, but since we’ve been almost moving several times… it wasn’t worth the hustle, or so I thought … it is always worth the hustle!


I’ve been in love with old silver forever and always have fun imagining where those old pieces could have been…I am a romantic, what can I say…the images in my head are pretty stunning… extremely handsome, elegant, well spoken gentlemen, walking around trying to capture the glance and imagination of  breathtakingly beautiful women exquisitely dressed and coiffed ….everybody is having a wonderful time, conversations are interesting, intelligent and passionate and ….nobody is texting!  The settings are old hotels with amazing architecture and furniture you only dream of  and old mansions full of history and romance, the kind we rarely see anymore …. and of course, All this VERY unlikely to have ANY relationship with my silver pieces found at second hand stores, flea markets or state sales!  No connection to reality whatsoever! … but hey! It is my imagination, right?! No need to be timid or frugal there… no budget restrains!

Coming back to reality I should say, I like freshly polished silver as well, occasionally I prepare a “special solution” to clean it, mostly around the holidays, you only have to line the sink with aluminum paper, fill it with hot water, add the non toxic ingredients I found on Pinterest and Voilà! Just submerge the pieces for a while and they all come out shining and reflecting light everywhere… brilliant!  (Specially when I didn’t have to polish it!)  Soon I will share the formula, it is like magic! I only want to make sure I know how to properly credit the source.  Did I mention that I have an obsession with light? I need it bad, I love spaces filled with natural light and a great lighting plan, that is a must ! You can lose almost everything you’ve accomplished, design wise if you don’t have the right illumination….


Don’t you think silver pumpkins are gorgeous?! I do, they are just so pretty and elegant!  It’s like they decided they didn’t want to be “loud” like their lovely, more common orange sisters!  These grayish pumpkins are the snobs of the family along white ones! Orange ones are the happy eternal teenagers… Too bad the light didn’t help me here and the gorgeous gray pumpkin  looks almost a shade of one of Pantone’s pastels for 2015…. I had yet to put a candle inside the orange goblet and it was and is bothering me immensely!  Candlelight is so pretty, romantic and soft…. I find it flirty and happy!  Few things can claim they can do for ambiance and mood what these little wonders do!….Contained fire…Do we even realized what we have with candles?! It literally is Contained Fire!!! anywhere we want them, whenever we want them! Awesome! Genius! Priceless! Brilliant! yes, very bright indeed, CANDLES bring magic to every space and make the ordinary look extraordinary!



That branch with the “caramel drops of Autumn” tilted the vase and went too low, wasn’t intentional… looks bad!



This is a small space so I should keep it simple… but Fall makes me feel warm and cozy inside and sometimes has me longing for the cluttered look of lived in spaces… I think it’s the same feeling we experiment during Fall and winter when we wrapped ourselves in soft blankets and cuddle in our favorite chair, sofa or bed (yes, more likely a bed..) and lose ourselves in a book or a movie, even a cheese one, a “chick” movie my boys used to call it … and then they watched it with me and even liked it!   (Omg… those sweet memories … I’m not going to cry!)


I took a couple of things out to create some breathing space, what it’s called negative space, it is as important as all the stuff you want to display, your eyes should be able to rest and travel from one thing to the other with ease, there should be a nice flow and harmony among all the pieces in the composition, here it works because your eyes can take all in without being overwhelmed with too much clutter… almost!


– Not so much here though!


So… this is my mantel for the season, sometimes you should go with your impulse and if you like the result, if it makes you happy, then that’s the right one for you at that particular moment,  if you get a pleasant feeling, go with it!

UPDATE -As the season progressed and the bright days of Fall got darker and bare, I felt the need to add color to the mantel and home to replace what we lost outside. Here are some pictures, that for some reason have better light than the previous ones that look so bad…


That poor pumpkin is dying!…. Hold on baby! Only a couple of weeks to go! You don’t want to be called rotten… do you?…



The leaves outside are almost gone… That makes me sad… everything is turning gray and dark so I needed to brighten up the mantel inside


And that makes me happy!

My entrance table
My entrance table

That was it, I didn’t mean to talk forever about so many different things…hopefully it doesn’t read that way…


I finished the front porch’s urn today.   Perhaps I should have waited to finish the door’s wreath to post this but I’m not sure I am going to make one.  The porch is kind of small and since I made the planter pretty big I don’t want it to look like too much for the space!

I'm not sure it's going to stay like that because it might look too busy or too crowded for me tomorrow. I always need to step back and relax, rest my eyes and then I am able to "edit" whatever I am doing.
I’m not sure it’s going to stay like that, it might look too busy or too crowded for me tomorrow. I always need to step back and relax, rest my eyes and then I’m able to “edit” whatever I am doing.
First I added a few branches I cut from the field behind my house
First I added a few branches I cut from the field behind my house ( the next day they started to die and look bad!) So far for pretending to be Martha! I was feeling so proud and decisive, resourceful and assertive!  I was playing the role of Martha Stewart in my own movie, fake it until you make it! like I knew what I was doing!… Ha! those branches showed me! They bursted my buble.  I didn’t want the neighbors to see!!!  the same ones that approached me the day before enchanted with my creation! I took the compliments graciously!  The next day I was exposed! I’m just a city girl (Girl?… oh well!  why not! you can’t see me from there anyways and that’s the way I feel almost everyday. Almost.) A city girl that ended up living in the midwest, who admires those wonderful master gardeners with their beautiful lush gardens, (they seem to be everywhere here with their additional organic vegetable gardens!)  but who doesn’t know a thing about plants!  I know how to play with them, decorate with them, combine them, create pretty things with  them but It seems I also know how to kill them….Enough said.
I wish I had done something like this...
I wish I had done something like this… When the kids were little I actually took the time and the money to do it, now I just want to be Martha or… why stop at that?! the amazing Carolyne Roehm! Walk graciously through my gardens selecting and picking, ( with no apparent effort and without breaking a sweat) the fruits of my crops and all nature’s bounty that appears to surround them at all times!
Not yet
My gourds, (or little pumpkins thingies) look like duckies or swans! so cute 😉    You see? playing already!
I'm not sure it's going to stay like that because it might look too busy or too crowded for me tomorrow. I always need to step back and relax, rest my eyes and then I am able to "edit" whatever I am doing.
This might look too busy or too crowded for me tomorrow.  It is important to always step back, take a moment or two to relax, rest your eyes, do something else and then you’ll be better able to edit and to judge what is working and what is not. At least that works for me.
Evergreen from the front yard added, check!
Evergreen from the front yard added, check!
didn't wear gloves
I didn’t wear gloves while cutting the evergreen … Oh boy, those needles are nasty and have a kind of glue that stick to your fingers and it’s difficult to clean… All worthy! I love the fresh smell of pine
So cute!
So cute!
Close-up.  Ain’t that pretty? Not bad for a city girl 😉
I know, too many pictures of the same thing... my only excuse is that I've seen other bloggers doing the same thing! I happens when they love what they do and they do it for themselves, just for the pure pleasure of creating something, knowing we are simple people enjoying simple things...
I know ! too many pictures of the same thing… my only excuse is that I’ve seen other bloggers doing the same ! It happens when they love what they do and they do it for themselves, just for the pure pleasure of creating something, knowing we are simple people enjoying simple things… and then, there is the Pros, the ones that really know what they are talking about and are here to teach, I admire them, I love them, I am not one of them.  It takes a lot, I should recognize, to get over yourself and just go for it, accepting your limitations, accepting your imperfections, it is ok to sing out of tune! What the heck… if we don’t, we’ll be missing the pleasure of the experience…. Is it worth it? Who do we want to impress? The only ones worth  the effort is our own selves and our families. That is a universal and eternal truth.   I must say, I’m not completely over my self, I still am self conscious and uncomfortable at times but less than expected. The joys of growing up, growing wiser, growing older and LIKING yourself, doing stuff for the pure pleasure of doing, experiencing, living, just because we can and loving the ride!
The big
The big pumpkin on the left looks devastated! Like it had received the worst news and had gotten depressed… it looks like a flat tire, doesn’t it?! It has the same look my dog has when he knows I’m about to leave, a look of sadness beyond believe, all flat and deflated on the floor, a picture of devastation… he deserves an Oscar for breaking my heart everytime!     Have you noticed the more irregular a pumpkin is, the more imperfections it has, the more appreciated, coveted, sought after and expensive it is!…. I wonder… shouldn’t it be like that with humans too?!


I think I should stop right now and clean up, it's starting to look like a mess here!
I think I should stop right now and clean up, it’s starting to look like a mess here!
I started to take things away....
And a very sweet memory of a long time ago... he is 20 years old now!

Have a great weekend and go somewhere you can admire nature’s ever changing colours….


As predicted I wasn’t happy with the end result, the problem is that having a small space and it feels crowded right away. Pictures were taken with my iPhone kind of late in the afternoon so I didn’t have much light to begin with. Today the branches I added from the field behind my house had started to wilt …. I had to take them out of the picture literally. I decided NOT to make a wreath for the front door this year. I went to the basement to find a simple one I could work with, adding real branches and stuff like that, you know, anything that looks and feels autumn, like pine cones, cinnamon sticks, fall foliage, olive branches…. only to realized I had donated most of the stuff to the local thrift stores…. what to do?… so it hit me.  I don’t have to make everything just because I’m trying to write a blog, it is ok Not to want to work and just curl up with a book and a cup of cocoa and read!  Sounds good, right?  Sadly it only sounded good to me, I have homework to do, MATH homework… I hate math… but I have to do it…

Right then I decided it wasn’t bad to use a wreath I found from when my kids were little, who is going to say anything? and if so… who cares?  Simple, keep it simple… that is something I have to remind myself sometimes… it isn’t that I don’t know it, it’s just that sometimes I feel that I have to do everything from scratch and now I don’t want to. And it is ok.

Here are some pictures of my simpler front door urn. I edited a lot and I feel more comfortable with it. My house is way too simple and small for the first one I made.

I love Eucalyptus, everything about it.
I love Eucalyptus, everything about it.
Another one of the same thing..
Another one of the same thing… the evergreen is coming back, I know, I need to fill those gaps.
How pretty does the little urn look like?
How pretty does that little urn look like?!  Those orange gourds, with long twisted necks and bumpy skin look like swans to me, don’t they?!!!  I feel like a proud mother…
I think I like it
I think I like it, it just needs more eucalyptus as a filler to bring the whole thing together… but that won’t be happening today! I’ll buy it when I get a chance!
Not to disappoint,  I'm adding a couple of pictures of really pretty fall planters!
Not to disappoint, I’m adding a couple of pictures of really pretty fall planters!
Why am I doing this to myself ?! This is gorgeous.
Why am I doing this to myself ?! This is gorgeous. Those master gardeners I was talking about… I’m telling you…
I hear the angels singing !
I hear the angels singing !
I'm done.
Awww!  Now my little display looks almost funny …. I’m done. Happy Harvest xx