A Very Simple Fall Mantel

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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!)

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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….

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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!

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

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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!)

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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!

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– Not so much here though!

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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…

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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?…

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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

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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…

Decorating For Fall ~ Entrance Urn and backyard half Whiskey Barrels

It is hard to let go of Summer’s long, sunny days, specially when here, in Wisconsin,  Winters are so long and cold.  Spring and Autumn are my absolute favorite seasons, sadly they never last long enough!

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The flowers in my living room’s coffee table are still summer blooms and look as lovely as ever, but even though we are getting a few more beautiful sunny days here in this corner of the world, it is soon and almost suddenly going to change..

These come from my backyard

– These came from my backyard

For a peruvian girl like me, who gets the Winter Blues bad, it doesn’t help if those darker, colder, shorter days… would find me still with a few tired summer planters looking sad and old… this week I decided to take action and start my Autumn decorations even little by little so I won’t feel sad when the cold gloomier days arrive…

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This year I will keep it very simple, there are no kids at home any more and I still get emotional thinking about it.  It is a mixture of feelings, the sadness of letting go of spring’s fresh air, green grasses, soft rains and happy blooms … Summer’s long, bright, lazy days, full of bike rides, picnics, lake swims, bonfires, roasting marshmallows, making s’mores  … my kids’ childhoods and teenage years! … and the wonder and excitement of this new season to come with all the beauty and discovery it brings!  Gorgeous crisp, intensely colorful days full of magic, where you can walk endlessly admiring nature exploding on fire!  So much passion… so powerful … Just like summer’s colossal  thunderstorms!   New lives starting for my boys and myself… I have to work on Not letting the tears obstruct the view of all the blessings around me and all the fantastic things to come….

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring breaks and every special occasion just aquired a new brighter feeling about them and became more exciting and joyful than ever! The promise of the boys coming home makes everything wonderful and special!  Now I can just enjoy them and NOT clean after them! at least I don’t mind it anymore!   When they were still living at home, it was an absolute joy when my daughter and my two older boys, who live in Pennsylvania and Florida respectively at the time (everybody is moving now a days!) came home for the holidays, birthdays and graduations !!!  We were crazy excited and overjoyed for days before it happened!  but, being so far away made it difficult to make it home more often, therefore there were many sad moments and endless hours spent on the phone trying to fill in the blanks that their presence would have filled otherwise….

CHANGE … life sometimes doesn’t prepare us for THAT kind of change…. it’s wonderful, it’s good, it’s right… and like the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives, IT’S ALWAYS GOING TO HAPPEN!  All seasons have their own beauty and purpose and definitely they bring their own JOY… It’s just taking me a little bit longer to adjust….

Oh, yes! I was writing this to share my attempts to start my Fall decorations with my entrance urn and the two half whiskey barrels I have in the backyard, even though they are not finish yet!  I still need to go find some branches to add!

I decided to spray paint my urn black, it was a cement color before and it was looking very bla, specially with the white outside my house
I decided to spray paint the urn black, it was a greyish cement color before and was looking rather bla, specially against all the white outside my house. There is no need to buy a new planter each time, sometimes a little bit of elbow grease is all you need and some paint  goes a long way! Ahhhhh! the joys of spray paint!
I bought a few plants, it was hard to decide among all the pretty kale available but it had to be done
I bought a few plants, it was hard to decide among all the pretty Kales available but it had to be done.   Doesn’t that grass look a lot like Cousin Itt in the Addam’s Family?!  Just buy something that makes you happy or all cozy and fluffy inside! Trust your instincts, doesn’t have to be perfect.

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It’s not even necessary to use flowers, sometimes a combination of plants with pretty leaves, grasses in different heights, colors and textures,( vegetables are a beautiful thing to use too!) and some gourds and pumpkins make a gorgeous combination for your planters.

I love the hint of purple in the grass playing with the deep purple of the Kale
I love the hint of purple in the grass playing with the deep purple of the Kale
It was kind of hard to move it to the front of the house but I managed! I need to clean so much around the house, I spent three months in Perú this summer and haven't catch up yet
It was kind of hard to move it to the front of the house but I managed!   I really need to clean a lot around the house after spending three months in Perú this summer! Haven’t been able to catch up yet… In this case I did use mums in my arrangement.

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My backyard half whiskey barrel
One of my backyard’s half whiskey barrels. This time no flowers! It doesn’t mean it’s not going to change… I am always adding and switching things around and it is OK.
I have yet to bring back throws and pillows and all the stuff we decorate with around these days, so I decided to grab anything to take this picture...
I have yet to bring back, throws and pillows and all the stuff we decorate with around these days, so I decided to grab anything to take this picture… Actually most of the books I read now are e-books and I haven’t read Killing Lincoln yet. I’ve read Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus in my e-reader, this is a  book my husband read recently. Bill O’Reilly did an AMAZING JOB with this series!  So easy to read, so many things to learn… I think it’s gorgeous the way it is! those leaves are as pretty as it gets, all the colors of the fall in one convenient plant!
I added another pumpkin to the container for more color and layers
I added another pumpkin to the container for more color and layers, this is the other side planter… see what I meant about the leaves?  I can’t remember the name of the plant but I know I saved the plastic tag with it somewhere.

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– Added another pumpkin to the right side planter too and it’s looking a little better each time.

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– Look at the subtle changes in colors and textures! Perfection! That Kale is beyond pretty, can’t get over the hues!

I just love how much those little pumpkins look like swans ! (Are those called pumpkins too? )
I just love how much those little pumpkins look like swans ! (Are those called pumpkins too? Are they gourds?) I’ll google it sometime…
Now I just need to add some birch branches or anything I can find and grabs my attention!
Now I just need to add some birch branches or anything I can find … that “Cousin Itt” grass is looking a bit out of place in this vignette I think. but I don’t want to let go! It’s so awesome looking in person and makes me smile everytime I see it
I guess it's not going to be as hard to let go... of my flowers or my children's childhoods and youth if I decide to start focusing in this new season of their lives and mine and concentrate in all the beauty it is going to bring.... like Autumn
Is it just me or those flowers are  really ridiculously pretty?!    – I guess it’s not going to be as hard to let go of my flowers… or my children’s childhoods and teenage years if I decide to start focusing on this new season of our lives and concentrate in all the beauty it is going to bring…. Just like Autumn!