Fallin' for my mantel

Autumn is in the air! ... and now it's also in my living room.

Having recently painted (and fallen in love) with our (now) black mantel I could not wait to decorate it for Fall. And yes, I've fallen for it (ha ha, get it). No? Oh. Please just pretend you did (and sorry for the bad joke).

Anyway, here she is all decorated up niiiice (well, I think so anyway but I'm no professional...).

Since it's a bit of far shot and the mirror is somewhat distracting let me zoom in to show the fun Autumnal elements!

The best part (well, in my opinion anyway) is that aside from the wreath which I just made (small supplies cost) everything else was FREE as I already had it on hand. I literally just brought it all out, dumped 'er on the couch and began assembling until I was satisfied!

I got this glass pumpkin a few years back and have always loved it. I designed the mantel with it in mind and chose most of my colours playing off the 'vibe' that Mr. Pumpk was putting out. In the back is an opening for a tea light holder which adds a nice warm glow when lit.

I took some of the moss that I bought for the wreath (tutorial to follow in an upcoming post) and used it throughout the arrangement to tie my little vignettes into the wreath focal point.

I love the cozy relaxed nature that my 'old' and used candles offer. Having been lit in the past, they are all slouchy and organic. I love how they add to the warmth of this whole display.

Here is a close up of the right hand side. Those two frames were given to me by a coworker who was cleaning out her basement and thought I might like them. YES please! I have something in mind for the large one but before I paint it, it was the perfect hue for this display. The smaller bamboo one had no picture in it but I loved the wood that was simply the inside of the back. I left it this way as it added yet another texture. I personally think layering and texture are the keys to an interesting mantel (or any display really).

Here is the focal point wreath I made and as mentioned, I will have a follow up tutorial post. Not satisfied with the standard 'Autumn wreath" (bright orange fake leaves and overly rustic) I decided to make my own! I wanted something simple and graphic and am really happy with how this turned out. And it was SO easy to make. Yay for easy.

Here is close up of the wreath. You can see the moss used here which I mimicked through the candles and other elements.

And here are a few nighttime shots with everything lit and aglow. YAY FOR AUTUMN!

Oh, and it SMELLS like Autumn in here too as these candles have the perfect Fall spicy scent. Love it.


Little Black ...Banisters?

There seems to be a bit of a rivalry going on at my house. Team Mantel vs. Team Bannister. It threatened to get ugly folks... but all is well that ends well.

Here's how it all went down.

Banisters caught wind that Mantel had a painting party... but didn't invite them (oh. oh. Drama). So, after a heart-to-heart (what, you don't talk to your banisters?), I promised Banisters that they too could have a party of their own. And what did they want to wear? Well their LBDB's of course!

Here is how Banisters looked before dressing up...

They managed to put on a necklace had the tape on them already when I snapped these pics.

We have a few banisters like this around our house and I didn't want to hear them whine too wanted to paint them all the same for cohesiveness.

Here is the signature drink that was served at the party, and a party goer partaking in a big sip...

Once drunk painted all the ladies banisters looked fantastic. LBB's all around!

Oh, and for anyone following along, I used the RIGHT paint this time.

After we recently painted the main floor light the banisters just washed into the background. I feel it looks polished now. Black is the new banister.

With all the banisters painted the same way I am happy with how they all work together.  However, Chef Kev isn't sure he likes the white supports. What do you think? Paint them black? Leave them white? Something different altogether? Oh, and if the little coat hooks at the bottom of the stairs caught your attention, you can learn more about that project here.

So there you have it. Team Mantel vs Team Banister living together in harmony. Have you ever had bickering banisters? An ornery ottoman? cranky couch? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Weekend Bloggy Reading



Being a new blogger it doesn't take much to excite me - a nice comment on a post, a new follower, I'm happy. It means that people are liking what they see and for a visual gal like me that's my idea of a good time. And if someone is taking a moment out of their busy day to read what I have to say, then even better. AND if I can make someone chuckle... well then I'm golden (well not officially but it's a saying people).

That being said, imagine my surprise when this picture from my recent mantel makeover was pinned on pinterest! Happy Dance! I feel quite honoured :)

Now, for those of you scratching your head saying "what is Pinterest?" let me enlighten you!

Pinterest is a website that is basically an online file of whatever catches your eye that you'd like to remember for later - use it for inspiration, reference of simply to jog your memory about something you saw. Put your hand up if you have/had a file on your computer full of pics called 'cool stuff'... or a gazillion unorganized bookmarks of things you wanted to save for later.

No more.

Pinterest is is SO cool and slightly (used loosely) addictive. I love how you can add comments about what you see and want to remember (i.e. "great idea for a dinner party"). The other great thing is that the website saves the site that you originally saw your idea from (great if there are instructions or something you'd like to do at a later date - DIY instructions or a recipe for example). You can also 'follow' others who have great taste and see what things caught their eye (chances are you'd like them too)!

The definition on the Pinterest home page says it best: 

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.
How I explain it further is that basically you are 'pinning' something of 'interest' - Pinterest. Here is an example of a 'pinboard'. This one is home decor projects but you can have as many as you want in any amount of categories. You make it how you wish!

So thank you to the person that thought my little mantel redo interesting enough to pin and save for later reference. I'm glad I inspired you :)


Blogland Beauts #3: Subway Art, Blue Pumpkins and... oil!?

There is so much great inspiration out there in Blogland and this week was no exception. Here are some great finds from the past little bit...

First we have this awesome, fantastic, super cool graphic subway art (that I am SO going to frame) brought to us by Eighteen25. Jamie, Jodi and Jennifer are three sisters that have a fantastic and fun little blog. Always inspiring and beautiful to look at it's a 'must read' on my list. Love it. Thanks ladies!

AND, if orange and black aren't your thing, they also have this awesome design in green, purple and (just) black as well. Enjoy!


Since we're on the topic of Hallowe'en check out these awesome blue pumpkins made by Beth over at Home Stories A 2 Z. Simple and easy to make you simply need some dollar store pumpkins, some spray paint and crackle paint medium. Another thing on my list that I must try! I love how she took the typical Hallowe'en 'icon' and switched up the colour palette. The possibilities are endless. Beth's blog is full of great 'decorating on a dime' ideas (her words not mine) but if you ask me her ideas always look like a million bucks!


And to switch it up completely we head over to Delighted Momma where this week Lindsay offers yet another great skin tip (she is a licensed esthetician) to try. Delighted Momma is full of wonderful skincare and health advice and I find it very inspiring. This latest trick is bound to peek your curiousity.... Wash your face with OIL. Seriously. It makes sense. Go and check it out ... I'm going to give it a try!


Thanks ladies for the continued inspiration and great ideas. Love your blogs. And to my readers, hope you do too :)

Like this series? Check out past Blogland Beauts here.


Best Chipotle Chicken Wrap. Ever.

Chef Kev outdid himself with this one. I loved this wrap. The spice was perfect and the secret seemed to be in marrying the flavours. Nothing over powered yet you could still taste each individual ingredient. Wonferfully balanced. Perfection!

Here is how he did it...

Chipotle Chicken Wrap

crushed or canned tomatoes (half of a large can)
1 1/2 chipotle peppers
extra virgin olive oil (1 Tbsp)
2 chicken breasts (diced)
low sodium chicken stock (about 1/4 cup)
heavy cream (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup)
corn starch (1-2 tsp)
black beans (half of a regular size can)
small can corn
1/2 orange pepper (diced)
fresh cilantro
1-2 shallots (minced)

to season:
meat seasoning (Chef Kev uses Rufus Teague Meat Rub)
chicken seasoning (Chef Kev uses Szegeo brand)

to assemble:
tortilla wrap
grated cheese blend - cheddar, monterey jack and colby
lettuce (Chef Kev used a Spring Mix)
sour cream

To begin, combine your tomatoes, chipotle peppers, a scoop of adobo sauce (the sauce your chipotle peppers come in) and olive oil in a food processer. Puree.

Add your pureed mixture to a sauce pan on low heat. Add your chicken breast, a little chicken stock and your cream. Let simmer for 25 minutes or so. Stir often. Season to taste along the way and add corn starch to thicken if needed. Remove from heat once cooked.

Add the black beans, corn and orange pepper along with some some chopped cilantro and the minced shallot. Stir. Let sit.

To assemble add a scoop of your mixture to a tortilla round and sprinkle with cheese as desired. Microwave for 20 seconds. Add some lettuce, some avocado and some sour cream.

Roll and Serve.


Lovin' the Chef? Check out all his tasty creations here.


Fireplace Mantel Déjà vu

Are you ready for the longest fireplace mantel make-over in history? No? Me neither. But that's just what we have here folks.

After we finished repainting our main floor from an avocodo-ish green to a creamy bone colour our fireplace looked a little washed out all alone in the corner.

Don't mind the painters tape, my brain works in weird ways. Take photos before Elaine... take them before. Anyway....

So, a little painting party was in order and black was going to be the guest of honour. My supply pile looked like this:

Some high gloss black paint, a roller brush (for the large flat areas) and an angle brush (for crevices and edging).

The painting party started out innocently enough (do you hear the sinister background music) and I happily painted away. 

One thing I was sure to do was mask really well. I wanted my edges to be nice and clean because let's face it black isn't exactly the easiest colour to hide when if you mess up.

After the first coat it was looking like this. Not too shabby! I could tell I was going to love the finished result at this point. But then something caught my eye - can you see it?

I'll give you a hint. It's GOLD and TACKY...

Oh Madame Golderson - you were SO not invited to the party. I kicked her out took the gold offender out on to the back deck and gave her it a quick sand followed by a few coats of this guy:

Mr. Rust Oleum was a late arrival to the party but boy was he welcome. Thank you Rust!

A quick side note - as I was introducing Madame Golderson to Mr. Oleum my neighbour wandered over, and then another quicky followed suit... "Whatcha doing?" they asked... Fast forward ten minutes and I had two more Madame Golderson's hanging out on my back deck. Everyone loves a quick update! ... and I love the 'Thank You' bottle of red wine that showed up a day later!

Okay, back to this. I removed the gold handles (the curly dangly things in the pic above Rust) alltogether from the mesh 'curtains' as I just didn't like them. Nothing screams "Open me, I'm HOT" to a toddler louder than gold handles. And since this is gas fireplace you don't really need to open the mesh anyway (you still can by just pulling back the curtain - but the handles were overkill). The result is a much cleaner streamlined look (and it's safer).

A few days later I was able to paint my second coat of paint on the mantel and began to remove the tape for my grand reveal (why is the sinister music getting louder)?

Oh right. This is why.

At this point I said something along the lines of "Golly gee willikers, did I paint latex paint over oil based? Well, isn't that just gosh darn silly of me". (I MAY be paraphrasing here).

Are you freakin' kidding me!? Guess which mistake I will NEVER make again. Umm. this might be a good time to mention how to test for oil paint. Rub a bit of nail polish remover in an inconspicuous area. If the paint comes off, it's latex. If it doesn't, it's my mantel. I wish I had tested.

There are no pics of the many hours spent righting my wrong but in a nutshell I used everything from warm water and dish soap, sponges, steam, a scraper, picking with my finger nails and of course a hand and electric sander. If there was a tip out there, I tried it. Nothing was awesome. 

After consulting with one of my neighbours who does quite a lot of painting he let me know that if I had sanded the sheen off my existing fireplace then I would have probably been okay. I continued to remove as much of the old and new paint as I could and even coated the whole thing with some primer that I had left over from another project. At this point I was ready to start again. 

Déjà vu.

But I was too tired.

So I waited a few days.

Then I did the whole shebang over again.

And this time she worked.

The painting party is over.

The longest, lamest, most annoying party ever.

... But the end result is FAB!

Here is the before:

And the AFTER!

SO worth all the blood sweat and tears (okay no blood but I can't say the same for the other two).

I can't wait to decorate it for Fall :)

Oh and here is a close up of the freshly painted grill...

I love how it ties in seemlessly now instead of standing out like... well... a gold fireplace grill from the early 90's.

(No offense Madame Golderson)

This post was entered in a link party. Check it out here.

Weekend Bloggy Reading


Let there (not be) light

Okay, so we've been blessed with awesome neighbours and can safely say we love them. I think I can also say the feeling is mutual. What I can't say though is that they love a good 'peep-show' from us. Yes. I think I can 100% commit to that statement. Not that we've asked... but just saying.

After we repainted our main floor we were left with this...

Holy freakin' light Batman! 25¢ a peek people (and let me tell you we had no line-up and I didn't see any open wallets).

So off to remedy this we must. Pre blinding light was your standard early 1990's vertical blinds complete with faded fabric (a sheen fabric I might add - oooh-la-la), a hideous bowed valance and of course, the clunky weights at the bottom of each shiny fabric vane nastiness. Good times.

We had to remove said hideous bowed valance in order to paint. And in order to get the valance down the whole blind contraption had to come with it (how is that for bad design planning). That being said, there were no tears shed  (except of course from any poor neighbours who may have seen me in my summer nightwear) and I took this opportunity to do a MUCH needed update.

I entertained many options for a replacement but aside from going custom (bank breaker - you may have noticed those aren't really 'standard' window sizes) I didn't have too many options. The rest of our windows have nice white faux wood horizontal blinds so after a lot of searching and weighing our options we decided to go that route for the small window. We couldn't do it in the large window without using multiple packages and I thought it would look messy. Plus that pane on the right opens so that was another issue to work around. And let's be honest, who wants to open three sets of blinds on one window? Not me.

So for the large window we outfitted it with (wait for it) verticals! What? Verticals and horizontals side-by-side? Yes. Let me change you skeptics into believers.

But doesn't vertical = hideous fabric accompanied by clunky weights? Nope! I didn't know that you can now buy faux white wood vertical vanes but guess what? You can. And I did. Goodbye shiny fabric and stupid bottom weights. Hello clean streamlined vanes that match the rest of our windows. Thank you for stopping by.

Here is how Operation-Save-Our-Neighbours-Eyes went down.

We first tackled the small window to the left. Since we only needed a small width (about 21") I bought the closest size to that and had Mrs. Home Depot cut it down for me. Plus side? I didn't have to do the cutting. Down side? I now know far too much about Mrs. Home Depot's personal life. Her grandson is named Charlie FYI.

Next up we installed the two corner brackets. You can assemble these outside the window or inside the window ledge - we opted for the latter. I didn't bother patching the hole from the last set as the new track would cover it completely.

The steps after this were simple - install valance clips onto bracket, insert bracket and close clip. However, we were left with a lot of excess length so this puppy needed a hair cut had to be shortened.

To do this we simply had to cut the strings and remove the unnecessary blinds, and then put it back together again!

The trickiest part was reinserting the center thread through the base. Chef Kev came up with a good idea (old boyscout trick I am told) to singe the end with a lighter. Your unfrayed cord slips right in after that!

The hole on the underside is much larger so no problems there....

Then you trim off the excess 'ladder' (leaving about 2"), twist together and insert into the large hole in bottom. You feed the middle (singed) cord through the supplied plug and close 'er up. From there you tie a knot in the threaded centre cord and snip off any extra length.

Done! This photo was taken before the excess was snipped and of course the base sits on the window sill once completed. Oh, I should also mention that at this point we clipped the valance onto it's clips as well. Super easy.

Before I show you the 'After' let's move onto the newly swanked verticals (aka large window - aka too-much-information-if you-ask-the-neighbours).

Putting the header bracket up in the large window was quite simple as well. Due to the length and weight of this one the bracket required four clips. Different from the small window though, these ones were 'ceiling mounted' inside the window frame (as opposed to side mounted). Again we attached the valance clips onto the bracket and simply clipped it into place. I should also note that you can not cut down this type of window treatment (width wise) like you can with the horizontals. It has a completely different type of operating mechanism. So we were just lucky this fit our massive window. 

The vanes were the real work horse of this installation as they all had to be cut down by hand to fit. To do that you simply measure the depth you need and do a test. Happy with the length you use your test vane as a template and mark up the longer ones so you know where to cut. 

And then you cut. With your basic household scissors! For some reason this impressed me as I thought you'd need a large cutter. And let's be honest, I didn't need to know anymore about Mrs. Home Depot so was quite happy to do this in the comfort of my own (half blinded) home. 

I recommend cutting just above the pencil line so you don't have to go back and erase all your marks.

And what do you do with all the off-cuts? Well you give them to your toddler of course and then snap a picture of his 'redecorating'. See how he started off so organized and then just threw them all in a pile? He gets that from his daddy ;).

Installing your freshly cut vanes is ridiculously simple as you just click them into the clips already installed in your top bracket.

And then you (well your neighbours) breathe a sigh of relief.

So we went from this:
To this.


I have plans to further soften the space with some panelled curtains on either end but for now we're just happy to have some privacy! And no, I don't miss the 1990's shiny fabric verticals. I've sent them away to go and join their cousins rag-wall treatment and decoupage plastic swan. Party On Wayne.

Just look at how nice and subtle the faux wood grain is on the verticals. Fits right in with all the horizontals. Reunited and it feeeels so gooo-oood!

And are you a believer now? Horizontals and verticals working together?

And to the neighbours... you're welcome. But you can still give us a quarter if you want.

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