Back to School Mantel

I shared this post over at Tatertots and Jello last week and I thought it’d be fun to share here as well. :) Enjoy!

Kicking off the end of summer-hello school I decided to fancy up our mantel a bit.

First it started off with the white frame I used in our Summer “Pure Michigan” Mantel. I wanted to use it for a chalkboard but didn’t want to deal with making the chalkboard. So, I picked up a 1.49 piece of black poster board over at Target and the sharpie paint pen and went to work.


A little Dr. Suess can fix anyone’s mood.

A few boxes of pencils and rulers (which we’ll gift to the school when we’re done with the mantel, who needs 15 rulers unless you’re a teacher? Wait, don’t answer that. Crafters do get crazy sometimes. ;) ha ha!)

I wanted a red apple but wally world was fresh out. Of course, the only time you need a fake apple they’re out of the color you want. I snatched up the last green one though. Is there a fake apple shortage I haven’t heard about?

Some books, blocks, scrabble tiles and a few framed flash cards one from a new set we bought for chloe and one that I took off our Playroom wall and we were all set! I’m loving the feel it gives to the room. It’s a little cheesy, yeah. But, it gets everyone in the mood for school. Plus it’s an excuse to play around with a new mantel theme. I can always do spring, summer, fall, halloween etc. But there’s only a short period of time I can do school themed and have the kids still like it and not moan and groan to not remind them of what’s to come! :)

Saturday Haps’

Happy Saturday Friends. :)

I thought I’d pop in and say hello and share a few fun links. Just because…

I had fun popping over to a little blog this week to share a fun Back-to-School Mantel.. You might have heard of her before… ;)

Tatertots and Jello..

oh ya!

I love Jen, she’s seriously sweet as sugar and I was so excited to be able to go steal her blog for a bit. Fun stuff, for sure.

Our “in house” haha, Vinyl superstar is over at Groupon this week. With 50% off discounts! How cool is that?

One item that’s on sale was made famous on another fun blog recently.

Love that sign!

Another EXCITING thing that happened this week. One that I’m still gaga over! We had our family photos taken by the uber talented Casey Kendrick and I’m seriously.. IN LOVE. She must have sensed my very impatientness because she put a sneak peek on Facebook an hour after our shoot. I can’t wait to get the prints.

My all time (so far..haha) favorite. All centered around Life of course. Couldn’t be a better message.

Anyway, Casey is a super star. You should probably check out her fan page.. Because even if you’re not in Michigan– she’s got plenty of pretty pictures to get inspiration and drool over. :)

Oh and, Michigan’s heat wave finally left! PTL people, hallelujah. It was cool enough for hoodies yesterday. And football was on, did fall just happen? I think it did.

If you’re interested in more everyday pics, you can check the family out on instagram. Fotfblog.. Check it yo.

Summer Mantel

Since it’s over 100 degrees these days I figured it was time to break out a little taste of summer for the mantel. It kind of screams Pure Michigan to me. Now, we just need Tim Allen to say that during these pictures and we’d be all set, no?



I used a print I found on Pinterest, you can get any state for FREE from this fantastic woman. How awesome is that!?



The big piece of art was a knock off of something similar I had seen on an episode of Restaurant Impossible. I think they used yellow though, it was about a year ago but I kept it in the memory bank for safe keeping. :) Word to the wise though, with small star fish like these, they come with a yellow/orange tinge. Not the look I was going for, so I put them in some bleach water which made them fragile as hell. I originally wanted to use pencil starfish but couldn’t find any small ones around town and didn’t want to order any. Next time, I definitely would order them. Not too sure how these will hold up in storage.

A few glass jars and some books and I was all set. Definitely digging the blue and mustard together.

It ties along nicely to the other changes in the living room as of late. :)


Linking up with some lovely ladies.. :)

Beth Tutorials & Tips not to miss

How to make a super cute sign.. two ways!

So, way back when I blogged regularly (I know..I know, we’ll get to that.) I said I’d write about how I made this sign.

Into this sign.

It’s seriously the most simple process ever if you can eyeball lettering..or easier if you can trace.. OR if you’re super lucky and have a Shillouette it’s the easiest project ever. (How many times can I say easy in one post?!) But I don’t and I didn’t have any paper for my printer to trace so, eyeballing it it is. But, first things first.

You saw it on our Christmas mantel, and I adored the rustic vibe it had going on and the faux aluminum letters. But, as much as I loved it we have a small house so things need to have a home or say goodbye. (For the most part) a sign this size fits into that category.

Luckily I applied the letters with hot glue which peels off with little to no effort. And was left with a perfectly good wood planked sign. A blank canvas if you will.

Now, I eyeballed my fonts straight from and just went for it with a pencil. If you’re more of a tracer you could write it out on the computer, print it and trace it on your sign and it’d probably be a lot less shaky like mine and more precise. I like to skip steps personally and I’m okay with a little imperfection. It’s supposed to look worn right? Sure, I’ll keep telling myself that. Ha! Or, you could go a step further and use a fancy silhouette and smack some vinyl on it and it’d be gorgeous. It really just depends on your comfort zone with imperfections and straight lines. :)

As Jami would say, Pray about it. 

Once I wrote it all down with a pencil and decided that it was good enough for my liking I used a sharpie paint pen and went to town. Little by little. What’s nice about the paint pen is that anyone who can color can do this. Then that’s it.

In photos you can totally see the color strokes and uneven-ness so I should probably go over it with some real paint just to even it up. Or I might not. So far it hasn’t drove me crazy. ;) Maybe when the whole room gets done. But either way, It’s a fun sign that was cheap to make the first time around for Christmas and free the second time around.

Now, I’ve been the BIGGEST fan of these signs for the longest time. I’ve seen them floating around Pinterest for ever along with seeing them on a few blogs and such. Nester was the one I believe who found the original artist. Woohoo! However, unfortunately I can’t afford one of her’s right now, so I’m not trying to say “hey, why buy her gorgeous signs when you can make them at home.” I’m not. At..All! Because it’s no where NEAR as good as this artists but, until I can afford hers I’ll rock my little knock off version for the time being. I think she has some amazing talent and her work is definitely worth the cost of such a beautiful painting. Just giving credit where credit is due. If you can afford to buy “legit” haha, then I’d highly recommend it I’m such a supporter of buying handmade and when I can save my pennies to buy the lake painting, consider it mine! But if you’re like me and would love to rock some handmade art and want to try it yourself, I thought I’d share how I made mine. Got it? Everyone agree? Yes. The wide world of blogging is tricky like that. I want to be inspired but not take. That was a lot of rambling and I hope it came out with grace.. HA HA.

Valentines Day Mantel

My most favorite favorite mantel was last years Valentines Day Mantel. I just love it. I threw the aqua in on a whim and it just worked.

I’d totally do it again this year but I used the frames for our cheap bathroom art. ;) So.. Since I didn’t want to make the trip to Walmart today I thought I’d try something different.

Remember the sign that I made for Christmas? Well the fantastic thing about hot gluing letters to it meant that I could pop them off with no damage. Shhcore.

I actually painted this a while ago and then hung it up in our bedroom because I have a few things up my sleeve to show you in there but, I needed something lovey-dovey for February. There’s nothing wrong with stealing from one room to help another out. Nothing wrong with that, t’all.


So.. Ball jars, books and flowers. It’s not great.. Not my favorite. I might change it up a little bit some more but for now, it’s not an empty (faux) mantel above a giant box tv.

And, the best part?

When the rest of the room looks like this..

and this..

The mantel still looks like this..


Did you notice we painted? Again.

*Sigh* It’s a sickness, fresh paint just makes me happy.

Best of 2011

It’s time to wrap up 2011 and take a look at the highlights of the year.. 

One project that we got done this year that I’m super excited about is the…

It was slow and steady that’s for sure but I’m so happy that it’s done and is a nice comfortable room for the girls to play in. Tons of details here, and here.
We did a little magic to the hallway, and even though it’s 6 or 7 feet of space that usually gets unnoticed I love the new closet doors we built.

Definitely better than they were. Plus the white is so fresh and pretty compared to the black.  

I did a quick face lift to the bathroom with some fabric art.

Put a Bird on it. 

Worked on the kitchen a little bit by adding a Chalkboard wall, Kitchen shelves, beadboard backsplash, and some bun feet.

Had some fun in the mantel department

Some favorites..
‘Twas quite the year. I hope you have fun browsing the links and going through the memories with me. :)

And, of course it wouldn’t be possible to run this place alone, and thanks to my ah-mazing sponsors this year.

Thank you ladies from the bottom of my heart.. Thank you!

And, of course there would be NO blog without the love and support from you lovely ladies. Every reader..subscriber..every one of you. You mean more to me than you’ll ever know. Through your encouragement as I fluff my home, mother my children and learn how to make this thing called marriage work. You’re my cheerleaders and there isn’t anything quite like real friends is there? Even if you friends are thousands of miles away. I’m honored to call you friends.

Group hug.

This year was pretty tough for some of us, so I’m praying for us all to have one hell of a 2012. Can I get an Amen?

Love. Just love.

Jen is having a best of 2011 party! Check it!
Lovin’ it over at TidyMom’s!
I’ll be joining Rhoda for her 2011 party!
And, Petals to Picots The best of 2011 party!
Don’t forget My BFF’s partay! 
The lovely Ange is having a best of party too
So much fun going around blog land. 

Christmas tree o’ Christmas tree

Well, I got my cozy red and gray theme goin’ on.



 Basket o’ Christmas books :)

It’s so warm and fun and not the usual gold and white I’ve rocked in the past.

 2010 White, Gold, Sheet music garland and chalkboard ornaments

How about 100 pictures just because? :) Enjoy!

I’ll be back with the mantel and a tour of the whole house tomorrow! :) It’s official.. 
12 days of Christmas ya’ll. Can’t wait! 
ho ho ho

Want to see the rest of the house decked out for the holidays?

Linking up with The Inspired Room’s Christmas tour, ThriftyDecorChick’s Christmas tree party & Nester’s tour of homes!
I am sharing my holiday home decor and cleaning tips for the chance to win prizes from The SITS Girls and Great Cleaners. 

Halloween Mantel 2011

I totally went crazy this year guys.

Just nuts.


Okay, there you go.

When I put everything together Mr. Fingerprints said, “Isn’t that the same as it was last year?” Um.. No! There’s a bird. I put a bird on it. Geesh, Men.


In all seriousness no, it’s not any different from last year because I just love the black and white look. It’s creepy, neutral with a little pop of orange. You can’t really go wrong! Plus I’m on a spending freeze still so that glam-glitter Halloween I pictured in my head has to wait till next year when my money tree is in full bloom.

I got a few emails last year about the bats on sticks, and they’re from Meijer. This year though in my store they have witches! I want to buy some more but I’ll wait until they go on sale because I’m cheap. :) The Happy Halloween sign is also from Meijer (Go grocery store decor!) and the creepy witch picture is something I printed from the internet and seems to be pretty crooked. I’ll get to that, maybe.

The sticks are a lovely gift from Mother Nature and the vase is from the decor hoard stash. Easy peasy.

Are you totally in the Halloween mood now like me? If it wasn’t so blasted dark and rainy out I could finish the pictures of the rest of the house! Maybe tomorrow.

Until next time boys and gouls.. bwaaahahaha. 

Oh! And, I chose a winner via for The Bird’s Papaya giveaway and it was Sarah B. Check your email Sarah! 

Linking up with Beth for her Fall Mantel Party

Fall Mantel 2011

Here goes.

You might recall last years mantel (fantel, if you will) it’s also seen here {squeel!} I had an idea to do something a little more glitzy this year and really work the glitter but, I’m on a tight spending freeze and had to work with what I had. Which is a lot of old books and broken frames. Oh, and three pumpkins. Yes three. Where the heck did the rest go? The pumpkin fairy must have stolen them.

So, it’s simple. Super simple and I liked it even more because there’s no orange. Don’t get me wrong I love me some orange for Halloween but since that’s a while away it’s nice to have something a little more subtle, but still looks warm and cozy.

It’s cozy right? Library chic.
Not to be confused with..Poor girl has nothing else to work with.

Hopefully I can get everything else out and find the missing pumpkins before it’s Halloweens turn to take over and I switch it all. :)

Not to mention figure out something cute for the shelving next to the giant ugly box smack dab in the middle of the wall. Wait, I mean giant ugly box full of fingerprints and smudges. Yeah, that one. Someone come clean for me while I sprinkle some fall around the house, will ya?

P.S! Check out the Michaels Ad on the blog right now! You can get yourself some white pumpkins just like the ones I used for 50% off..Woohoo! Click and print buddies, click and print.

Layla and the girls are having their Fall 2011 party! Woohoo!

The Lettered Cottage

Go party on with Melissa and the crew for the Fall Nesting Party 
And Kimmie’s What I Whipped up

Make a quick wooden frame.

 *Don’t forget to hop by the recent giveaway where TWO lucky winners will get a Creativity for Kids Sparkle 3D paint activity set! Whoop to the whoop!*

Okay, so when I was all gung-ho (gungho?)…All excited about my summer mantel I had just the picture for it. My Ikea print from many a year ago that I didn’t ever put up because apparently when you go to a store thee hours away and buy special sized prints it’s totally natural to NOT buy the frames to fit said prints.

It’s also normal to not buy them the next two times you go.

I digress.

So I wanted to use the prints and had no frame, you get where I’m going. I also decided to do this a few hours before I wanted to write the post. So I did what any average house wife would do and grabbed some scrap wood (from the board and batten project) ebony stain and a box saw. I had about 5 inches left over so I had just enough. Basically the heavens aligned and it was meant to be is what I’m getting at.

Now, this is in NO way the normal way to do things. Not at all, as I go along I’ll tell you how to really do them, but I had a child who was not wanting to run to the store with me so I improvised, you’ll see how, you might laugh too. It’s okay, because you’re laughing with me not at me right?


So I cut all the pieces at a 40 degree angle like so, you could just fix em up square and account for the different lengths, but that always seems like more work to me than mitering and it only takes a few extra minutes for me to do it this way so I did. Then because I didn’t have any staples or wood glue I used my hot glue gun. I know, shield your eyes. It’ll feel super flimsy and well that’s because it is but we’ll stabilize it in a few don’t you worry.

I gave it a nice coat of Ebony stain, and dragged it on and off. If I missed a few spots I wasn’t too worried. Remember, nothing is perfect in my house and I’m a-okay with that.

 Don’t you love the dingy greige color? Total driftwood vibe to me.

Then because the frame was way too wobbly for my liking I just took the cardboard that came with the print and glued it right on the back. Awesome, right? I know. It’s my own little brand of genius. Cardboard and glue. It’s like we’re in elementary again.

Then I just used some double sided tape and taped the picture that fit perfectly into the frame, right on the cardboard. Done and done.

So, if you’re going to make a real frame, get some staples and staple it, or those fancy hooks that hook the two pieces of wood together. You could also seal it really well but for us it’s just sitting up really high where no little hands will be touching it so I think we’re safe. :) Also don’t worry about any imperfections in the wood, it gives it character. :) Love love love it. And, for being free, I love it even more. So does my husbands wallet. :)

The end.

The Lettered Cottage

Weekend Bloggy Reading