No I Don’t Want a White Kitchen, but I’ll Take the Farmhouse Sink.

I’ve realized that I rarely use my blog as an outlet for my opinion. That’s because over the years I’ve desired to be a peacemaker, be able to see all sides of something, and even if my opinion differs I don’t tend to make it known as the only opinion. But seriously people, we’ve got a problem on our hands in this country.  I am not talking about the dangerous politics zone, but rather the more poisonous disease of being like everyone else.  I remember the first time I tried to be like everyone else was in elementary school. I went to a private school because the public schools in our area were terrible. My family was not one of great means, and when the most popular girl befriended me the trade-off was that she and everyone else in that school expected you to wear Espirit and Benetton and every other trendy brand of the era.  We crimped our hair and wore side ponytails. But what I really learned in error was that to be liked I had to be like everyone else.  This went against the very essence of my personality because I liked to be unique. Those years I look back on with disgust and breathe a huge sigh of relief that I was released from that when my family moved and I went to a much less catty public school. There was serious damage done and so one of my greatest hopes for my children is that they learn it is okay to be themselves at an early age. It’s already started for my son who is only 6 and came home from school begging me for “tie shoes.” This went on for weeks until I cured him of it by telling him in order to get tie shoes he first needed to put his Velcro sneakers on properly without help, instead of the usual lazy way of shoving your foot in without undoing the Velcro. End discussion about needing tie shoes for sure! Never mind the fact that they don’t make tie shoes in his size in very many brands.

Fast forward to what I consider a pivotal year in my life, where I am about to turn 40 and most of the time don’t really care what other people think anymore.  There is this idea now that bothers me. Where for example all the cool moms have to run out and buy white kitchens with farmhouse sinks and actually your whole house has to white. Dare you like color, you can throw a few accents into the white on white, but not too much.  Scroll through home design on Instagram and all you see is farmhouse style this and that, when less than 1% of these people actually live in a farmhouse.  And seriously, have you ever had an all white anything? Remember that white shirt you loved until you spilled something on it the first time you wore it?  Well your house is only all white for 5 minutes if you really live in it, too.  Our first apartment after we were married had an all white bathroom which no amount of scrubbing the grout with a toothbrush and Kaboom could ever keep white.  And one piece of hair on the floor and your tile looked awful.  It was a lost cause and the very reason that when we redid our bathroom in our own home, I chose a biscuit toilet and sink so that they would hide dirt.  Best decision for sure.

Throw caution to the wind and decorate with what speaks to you, not “everyone” else on Instagram. And then there is my beloved Joanna, whom I feel like I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with and carry on an easy conversation as if we were besties in real life.  I love her presence, her ability to be noble, and most of all her desire to use her business to help others.  But truth be told, I don’t need to be Joanna, and you don’t need to either. Be yourself. Don’t go buy whatever she just put into the latest Fixer Upper just because she put it in there. If you like it, yes go buy it, by all means. I admit I want to make my own pilgrimage to Texas. But don’t fall into the trap of desperately trying to have a home like everyone else’s….or what you think everyone else’s home looks like. 

Instead, my advice on home decorating, and life itself, is to find what reflects and speaks to you.  Don’t care if your best friend hates it or thinks it’s tacky.  It’s your life, your house, your chance to reflect who you are to the world.  We were all created differently, that’s what makes us beautiful, and yet so many times we fall into the pattern of trying to be like everyone else.  And dare I go on. This mentality IS seeping into politics where whatever your opinion is, now some feel the right to tell everyone else they must have the same opinion about everything, right or wrong. 

Don’t go buy a reproduction dough bowl. If you’re going for that vintage look, go buy the real deal.  My love of all many things old is probably genetic. And for me it’s about having a piece of my family’s past that makes me love old things. The stories behind them make a normal every day object have meaning and value.  When I get out my grandmother’s strawberry tablecloth, I’m immediately back sitting at her table as a child.  Most people are knocking down all of their walls for an open concept, and me I am standing my ground on practicality and keeping my dining room wall. Why? One because I like having an actual dining room, and two because practically speaking in my small house I would lose a lot of space if we knocked it down. Our plan instead is to go back in time and add a built-in that looks original and gives us much more storage for a room that is actually my office, our dining room, and often a play area as well. For the love of everything, just be yourself. Simple words, but not so simple to live by.  I don’t want our world to be full of cloned me.  I want our world to be a beautiful compilation of everyone being themselves. Yes, that means sometimes we might disagree. Sometimes I will really not like what a friend says. Sometimes people won’t get me. But I have one life given to be by God. One chance to find my purpose and fulfill it, and by golly I will never do this by painting my whole house white, sticking a Magnolia wreath on the front door, and agreeing with everything you say. You are the only person that can be You, now go do it!


Meet Grown Up Dinner: A Crown Me Frugal Mama Tip

It’s one of those days where I am trying my very best at supermom. The hub’s car didn’t start this morning so he had to take mine, meaning that my one day this week without appointments and therapies for my … Continue reading

Boxed (gasp) Wine: Crown Me A Frugal Foodie

bota box pic


This is a Crown Me Frugal AND a Crown Me Foodie Tip about our “house” wine. I am continuing with my new Crown Me Mama tips. If you missed it, read about my Permanent Packing List here. In the past we would only have wine on hand for a special occasion, because otherwise, we wouldn’t think to buy it.  Ironically, now that we have children we drink wine more often than we used to at home.  It replaces going out because let’s face it, parents of young children don’t really go out.  Further, parents with young children don’t think to buy wine, they just realize they don’t have any in the house and would love a glass. That’s where Bota Box comes in.  A boxed wine for anti-boxed wine people. When you think of boxed wine don’t automatically think it’s awful and only for great Aunt so and so.   Tucked right next to the gross boxed wine section of your store is a section entitled, “Premium Boxed Wine.” Premium boxed wines actually tastes good, in fact great. I would compare it to a house wine at a restaurant or the homes of Italy, and now it is our house wine, too.  It’s not the wine you’ll drink on your birthday (Although you certainly could with dignity), however, it’s a very decent, actually award winning wine.  In a blind taste test, Bota Box has actually won several awards and people thought it was from a bottle. On the box it boasts 47 Gold Medals and 19 Best buys Awards.  Trust me book club will never be the same without a Bota Box on hand.

Here’s why you should buy it (and let me say I’m not famous enough for someone to pay me to say any of this – so this is free advice with no strings attached):

  1. Ever think that once you open a bottle you have to find someone to drink it with you or it will go skunky on you? You can have one glass and not go back another day to a partial bottle of terribly ruined wine. It has a vacuum bag inside the box that keeps the air out and the wine fresh for up to a few months.
  2. It’s in an environmentally friendly cardboard box made from recycled materials. And it’s BPA free.
  3. It has the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine in one box.
  4. They even make cute mini boxes to pack in a suitcase, take on a picnic, or throw in your purse for a BYOB. In other words, you won’t worry that you’ll arrive with a purse full of broken glass.
  5. There are other premium wines worth trying, but this is the brand that made premium boxed wine a Thing.
  6. You like red, your partner likes white? No problem, you can have a box of each on hand. If friends stop by you can offer them either.
  7. And of course, the price is more affordable than buying 4 bottles of decent, not special occasion wine. Depending on if there is a sale, it’s about $20 to $22. So, that’s about $5 a “bottle.” When is the last time you had a $5 bottle of wine that tasted good?

I’ll admit the first time I was offered a Bota Box glass of wine, I was skeptical. But as soon as I took a sip, I was sold. And honestly, besides special occasions, this is what we have on hand. Excuse me while I go have an inch of a lovely 2014 Pinot Noir, yep from a Bota Box.


*I really want to make it clear that if you have a drinking problem, I don’t recommend buying a box of wine (or obviously keeping alcohol in your house period). If you find yourself drinking more wine than you normally would after buying this to an extreme, then perhaps you should think about not buying it again. All of the normal rules apply: don’t drink and drive; please don’t drink when your pregnant even if your doctor claims a glass of wine is fine (it’s really not, I go to trainings on these things); and please don’t drink if you can’t stop. And please make your own opinion, but respect mine.

Crown Me Traveler Tip : Permanent Packing List

I’d like to take my blog in a specific direction for at least the foreseeable future in hopes that I write more often, share my random life hacks, and be more concise. Thus, I present you with Crown Me Tips.  … Continue reading

Perfect Bargain Throw Pillows and The Couch I Almost Hated

Our first couch was a hand-me-down, actually a loveseat left over from my husband’s dorm room.  If that isn’t bad enough, it had half a table top under the cushions holding it up just enough that you wouldn’t end up … Continue reading

Starting Over – A New Adventure

It’s been an emotional week for sure. Downsized is my word of the week – from a job of 7 years. I thought we all left this in 2008, but sadly I add to a number of friends and family I know who have lost their jobs because of the current falsely hopeful economy. When I first got the news, strangely my first reaction was relief. I felt a 50-pound weight be lifted from me.  Sure I am worried about how we will pay our bills, but mostly I’m glad that the crazy treadmill speed I have had to run on is stopping before I just fly off the back and crash.  In this first week, I found myself rushing and rushing around the house, rushing to get the kids dressed, rushing to get to the doctor’s, rushing just like I always do.  Then it dawned on me, I don’t need to rush anymore.  Here I have been rushing around feeling like I can’t possibly get it all done unless I run, for way too long. That feeling gnawed away at me and I knew I had it, but recognizing it out of the daily grind was scary.  It is eye-opening to realize I was feeling that way ALL the time. I was losing that battle every single day!  This morning on the way back from my son’s school I was reflecting and likened it to going back to the factory settings on a computer and starting over.  (and strangely I got home and read a very similar analogy on my friend Mandy D’s blog! When I sense a pattern in my life, that’s when I know I am learning) That’s how I feel, and I don’t really know how to do it. I don’t know which programs to reload, because I don’t know what programs I need and which ones I can do without. I don’t know how to be a stay-at-home mom. I don’t know if that will be for one week, one month, one year or forever.  I do know that it feels weird to be home after I had finally accepted that I was a working mom, and was no longer bitter about not being able to be home with my kids.  Maybe that is the point, who knows.

You see, for months, okay years, my husband and I have been praying nightly for something to give. We accepted at least a year ago that we would not tell God how to answer our prayer, but that we would just pray for him to take over the situation. Since we didn’t know even what to pray for, we just prayed for God to just work it all out. It was all getting to be too much for me to be working a fulltime job, a contract job, and then trying to get my daughter to all her appointments etc.  She was still coming to work with me after a short-lived disastrous stint at a babysitter’s house. Being a full-time employee and a full-time mom was starting to wear on me and my daughter. We couldn’t afford to put her in daycare, but we couldn’t afford for me to stay home.  So, here we are strangely relieved to know that something is happening, even if we have no idea what.  When you ask God to move a mountain out of your way, don’t be surprised when he does.

When my husband accepted a lateral move for the sake of a quality-of-life improvement this summer, we knew it was the start of something greater for our family, but felt like just a glimpse. That is when I accepted that the answer wasn’t going to be that he was going to be leaping to a salary that would not require my income, and that the whole daycare thing would just have to work out some other way. I was okay with that and found that I knew so many others in my situation, working and running all day every day.

So, here on the other side of the downsize, I am trying to learn about this whole stay-at-home mom thing, at least for the time being. Quite frankly, my house is still messier than I like it (except for our bedroom is newly uncluttered and spotless and I’ve reverted to the clean freak I used to be where I don’t like anything left out at the end of the night). When my daughter’s therapists come it is no longer a day that I also work from home.  I can fully be present for her treatment.  I am not commuting 8 hours a week.  I have savored the spontaneous hugs from my son, hugs that someone else was getting every day.

I have acknowledged that I never want to feel that trapped in stress again, feeling like I can’t possibly run any faster before I am thrown from the treadmill in defeat. But what’s next I don’t know. I have a crazy excitement about it. I know whatever it is, it is better than where I am coming from. I am sad to leave this job that I was so passionate about.  It was truly the job of a lifetime, where I saw all of my passions and experience come together.  It was a big part of my life.  It made having my son in daycare feel tolerable because I was doing something to help people that spoke to my heart. If I have to work for a living it has to be something that makes up for missing out on time with my children. I do fear that I will still be stuck making either the choice to take a job that requires me to go back to a crazy schedule, or not doing that and not being able to pay our bills.  I have the potential and skills to work in the corporate grind, but I lack the desire at this threshold.  I am more in the business of helping people, and a non-profit veteran. I know it will be difficult to find that socially-minded job with a paycheck big enough to cover daycare. But maybe that’s not my answer.

I felt that I have been preparing for this season in life for some time. But I’ll save those details for another blog entry for fear of once again being too wordy. I feel God’s peace overwhelm me and hear friends and family sounding more fearful about our situation than I actually feel. To say it feels like a much needed vacation sums it up.  I don’t yet know how to reprogram. I feel like there is some healing that needs to come from all that stress before I can effectively start over. For these first few weeks, I am just going to get up and see what happens (I am a planner so that in itself tells me I am in need of rest).  I do have very part time work at my former company that does give a little structure to my otherwise wandering schedule.  When we told my son that he would have to leave his school, I cried; he cried. We sat down and made a list of things that we would like to do together.  It felt like the right start to this adventure.  It felt good to be able to make plans and know that I could at least start to reprogram there. I can’t help but feel that even though so many of our plans have been turned upside down that I am once again right where I am supposed to be…and back to my word of the year BUILD. I don’t know if that will still include our dream of a fixer upper home for our family. For now, that has to be on hold. I am not sad that our plans are gone because I’ve been here before, right in the place. And this place has always meant that God was about to do something extraordinary.  And these children that I now have the privilege to be home with at least for now, are two of those something extraordinaries. So, knock me upside the head if I forget this perspective down the road, because at this point in my life I have been through enough valleys to know that God always gets me back up on that mountaintop.  And someday soon I’ll be there again celebrating how he rewrote this part of my story.


It is rare that I have a blog title that is one word, because I always have so much to say. Let me take a step back and say that I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions. Partly because they are cliché, partly because I don’t like the idea of setting myself up to fail.  But last year I chose a word instead and stuck with it to change my lifestyle permanently. Simplify.  That word has carried me from a place I didn’t know I was going to a place I crawled through to a place of acceptance and possibility.  This past year was hard and yet easier than it would have been if I hadn’t been working already on Simplifying.  My daughter was diagnosed with some special needs and it has been a year of being busier than I ever thought possible.  We were already busy as all families with young children are. Being a two parent working family means running literally sometimes from one place to another.  It means that at the end of the day there is never any time to just relax before you have to get up and do it all over again.  Sometimes I am in a place of joy and confidence as I soar through all that I juggle on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes I let the enemy win, and that joy is hidden and I feel overwhelmed, flattened, tired of tiring to get it all done.

Simplifying my life started in the beginning of the year when I really had no idea that there would be big changes for our family and our schedules. For me it was really about the realization that I wanted more time with my family that I waited so long to have.  This is what simplifying looked like for me:

  • It meant saying no to friends who asked to go out for coffee, dinner, whatever.
  • It meant no more phones at the dinner table or in hand from when I walk in the door until the kids go to bed. If I am on the phone with someone, when I pull into the driveway I get off the phone. This is time for my kids, the precious little hour as a family of 4 and 2 hours as a family of 3 per day. I will not let go of that for any reason.
  • It meant getting rid of a lot of stuff in my house to make room for the stuff that really mattered. I really don’t own any grown up books anymore because I don’t have time to read them and I need the space for my kids’ books.
  • It meant cooking meals ahead and freezing them.
  • It meant finding ways to spend time together as a family without spending a lot of money. The zoo membership and other experience gifts we gave and received helped with this step. We go to the zoo usually about once a month after church and can be home for nap.
  • It also meant learning to ignore things…gasp! Yes, learning that if there are still dishes in the sink or no clean laundry or a burned out light bulb that sometimes my husband and I still collapsed on the couch for a half an hour or an hour and watched a show on Netflix. Because really this leads into my next step…
  • Self-care. It meant learning to start taking care of ourselves better so that we can take better care of our children. I’ve had to fight a lot of battles to get my daughter what she needs. I loathe confrontation and consider myself pretty resourceful, but fighting against a broken system to get help and answers for my daughter has taken more than I have to give. I have never lost my patience on the phone so much as I have this year with people who quite frankly don’t want to help or don’t really care. On a regular basis all I can muster to say reaching out in desperate prayer is, “Jesus!”
  • For my husband, it meant taking a pay cut to leave a company of 20 + years to make a quality of life switch to a job with much less stress and incredible health insurance. Well, that’s a raise in itself! Going back to self-care, that also allowed him and me to afford to take care of some health problems our old terrible insurance didn’t cover. Taking the time to go to the doctor and physical therapy was tough, but meant self-care for a greater goal.
  • It also meant taking a step back from saying yes and starting to say no when people asked me to volunteer for things. I stopped feeling guilty for saying no as well. I knew that my largest cause, for lack of a better word, is my family.
  • It unfortunately also meant not traveling to see family as much as we would like to.

On the whole, it also meant not being the greatest friend or extended family member, making people mad at me, disappointing others, and coming across as cold or uncaring. But honestly, it was the best thing I could have done in preparation for what was to come our way as a family. I am an open person and have always tried to share what I was going through good or bad with others. Over the years, I have seen that this has been a way I can help and encourage others, from our struggle with infertility, to the adoption journey, to building relationships with our children’s birth families, to budgeting and saving money, and on it goes. *The one area that I have had trouble deciding to share on my blog is my daughter’s health.  It isn’t that I don’t want anyone to know her struggles. It is more so that I feel I have an obligation to let her story be her own to share or not to share as she gets older. Being adopted adds another layer to it because so many people assume that my daughter’s health issues must be a result of something her mother did wrong during pregnancy. News flash – they are wrong! This is all had the same odds of happening to her if she was a biological child of mine. But I think it sounds worse when I try not to share.*

It was in March and April that everything came down on us.  I knew for a long time that my daughter had some delays.  I had mentioned them several times to the doctors but it was just too early to declare something was wrong.  At our nine month visit, I brought them up again and I knew when our very easy going doctor who normalizes everything said yes, let’s get them checked out by both Early Intervention and outpatient specialists, that something was wrong.  The next three months were quite a blur of first getting a generally diagnosis of global developmental delays and then getting more specific diagnoses of hypotonia, ligament laxity and muscle weakness. What that is stemming from if anything, has yet to be determined.  If this is isolated and the infantile version and not associated with anything else, then she with lots of therapy may eventually overcome these things. But there are over 18 different special needs associated with hypotonia.  If it were up to me I don’t really care what anyone calls her special needs, my goal is to just help her reach her fullest potential. However, it has been really important to get her checked out by every specialist under the sun so that we can make sure we aren’t missing something.  In the whole scheme of things her needs are what some would call minor, which is of course a matter of perspective. However, on a daily basis they seem major to me and my husband.  Just simply carrying a 28 pound child who cannot hold onto you and who will fall if you don’t support her is exhausting, for example. I say this not in any way to complain, but to show that God knew I needed to simplify in preparation for caring for my daughter.  He knew that I would be running sometimes literally from work to appointments and therapies, 5 hours now 6 of therapies and treatment, trading off children in the parking lot with my husband, spending evenings split as a family between physical therapy and dinner, and all of the other things that go along with this. Simplify.  Yes, simplify.  I really needed to simplify.  The Veterans of America have received many loads from us and more to come in the coming weeks.  But more importantly than cleaning out our house, we have cleaned out the clutter in our mind, bodies and spirits.

This year I felt quietly that my word might be Build. Then sitting in church last week and hearing the pastor speak and mentioning the word build, I knew it was for sure.  I have a strong desire to find the time to build something with my own two hands physically. We desire to move into a fixer upper and build it into our family home.  I am ready to work on building on relationships with others, building on what we started last year and building up my strength to continue to help my family.  I still have to simplify, that will be a constant process.  But I can now build only because I simplified. Sometimes in the quiet moments – ha no quiet moments in most people’s lives – sometimes in the loudness of your everyday life, you have that ah-ha moment that shapes your year. Even if you have to yell out “Jesus” to make it through your day like me sometimes, I encourage you to find your word. You won’t fail like a new year’s resolution because it is a lifestyle change, and is a process, there is no end to it, only a beginning…

Crown Me Mama has been crowned again! – how we were chosen by a birth mom and had an unexpected twist in our adoption

My last post was April 23 just a couple of days before life changed once again. We got THE CALL on a Friday at exactly noon. I was sitting at my desk at work just as I was for our son’s match. My heart beat so fast as I almost couldn’t answer the phone because I was shaking so much when I saw my adoption agency’s number on the caller I.D. This is the call we had been waiting for. The one where we expected to be told we were chosen and then given the details of who, what, and when. It seemed like a lifetime while I waited for the adoption coordinator to get my husband on the line as well. Just like that I went from a 10 to a 1 in excitement. It felt like there had been some mistake. Our coordinator was saying we actually weren’t being automatically matched, that we actually had to let the agency know if we wanted to proceed. We just weren’t expecting this. It wasn’t actually a warm fuzzy call that we had hoped for. Instead of an automatic match we were told that a birth mom chose us, desperately wanted our family, and insisted that no one else would do for her child, but that it didn’t match our profile for 5 or so different reasons. Therefore, we would have 48 hours to decide if we wanted to accept the match with her.

There was a bit more thinking and praying involved in the situation we were presented with than we expected. Without sharing personal details (and we do this with our children to protect their stories and allow them to tell them if they want to when they are older) there are many items that you decide on prior to match that make it so you are only shown to birth moms that match your criteria. Some of those things include your budget: how much many you have to spend (or borrow), and things like where the birth mom is located: because of legal ramifications and things like that. Those were some of the things that didn’t match with us in addition to a few others. However, our agency didn’t present us to this mom, but our profile could be seen on the internet by anyone. And out of all of the families looking to adopt in the world, she wanted us, and somehow was led to our profile at our particular agency. That is both flattering and nerve-wracking all at once. You have heard me say time and time again that I am a woman of faith in God. I don’t believe that my son is my son by accident. I don’t believe in just drifting aimlessly through life. I don’t believe that we have infertility because of anything we did wrong. I believe rather that our family has infertility because there were children that could simply not come from our biology that were destined to be in our very family. (this is not the reason for all people with infertity obviously those reasons differ) So, all through this process my husband and I have prayed every night that God would help the right birth family find us. I don’t think we quite understood the depth of those prayers. We did however, keep coming back to this prayer when we were considering the situation. There just seemed like so many obstacles in our way and so many things that woudl be more complicated legally and financially if we moved forward.

How did we decide? It came down to this – We knew we would regret it the rest of our lives if we said no. We just simply couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t say yes. We needed to say yes. We had to say yes. We said yes!

As soon as we said yes, all the joy we had hoped to feel when matched poured into our lives! We had just several weeks to prepare for our daughter’s arrival (oh, yes, by the way, she was a she. We had said we were open to either gender). We spent those weeks nesting and running back and forth to visit our daughter’s birth family and start building a relationship with them. I say all this not to make our story sound negative or overwhelming, but rather just the opposite. Here it is just a few months since my last post and I have been crowned a Mama again. That’s just crazy. In a matter of months we went from still waiting to be matched, to being matched, receiving the placement and finalizing our adoption. Lickity split just like that we went from waiting and wanting to home and happy. Expect the unexpected in life. Prepare to be flexible in the adoption process, and certainly prepare to be wowed when it all falls into place in the end.
I won’t say that this family is done, even thought that is how I know we feel. It has been over a 9 year journey to build this family, and certainly we are ready to be done with the baby chase. I will instead say that I am done and if God chooses to bring another child into our family, he’d better just drop him or her off on our doorstep. I am grateful for the Mama God has made me and for the beautiful son and daughter he has given me. I might just have to pinch myself now and then to believe that all my dreams really came true.

My name is Emily, and I have infertility.

My name is Emily, and I have infertility.  Let’s stop making this something people don’t talk about!  Infertility is a disease I didn’t choose. One in eight couples struggles with infertility. What that means is if you don’t have infertility, someone you know and love does.  You might not know it, because society has made infertility something people are afraid to talk about.  I hope that changes. It is a disease like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or hypertension.  The difference is that while you may not tell everyone you have one of these other diseases, most people tell someone. It’s National Infertility Awareness Week and my challenge to those of you struggling with infertility is that you tell someone this week.  Maybe you already have, or maybe you haven’t because you are embarrassed, afraid, sad, still in shock or sick of thinking about it.  If you don’t have any one you trust in telling, I would be happy to listen and hear you out, whether I know you or not.  Know that you are not alone, and that I am holding you in my thoughts and prayers especially this week. 

Spring Mantlescape

A friend of mine calls my seasonal mantle decorations Mantlescapes. I don’t know if this is a decorating term or one she made up, but I thought I would take a break from my heavier adoption process topics and share my decorating on a dime trick for the mantle. I get bored with the same look over and over so I when I came upon a piece of fencing in the trash near my office my brain started churning with ideas. I had my husband trim it down so I could fit it on top of the mantle. Then I secured it to the wall with heavy gauge wire wrapped around a screw that is securely fastened into the masonry. It isn’t budging, so my little guy can safely run by.

Here is my current Mantlescape:


I reused my gardening theme from previous years. The pots are items I already owned mixed with thrift store finds not individually costing more than 97 cents. I owned all of the garden tools as well. I strategically left the dirt on the tools for extra effect. Then I tucked in a little moss that I had left over from a craft and voila….my gardening Mantlescape.


My style is really to have something that no one else has, but that also expresses my interests or a piece of our family. We like to garden. I find it therapeutic to get out there and dig and get covered in dirt, much like I did playing as a child. Only this time the result is something more beautiful than making mud pies. At the end of the day I like to walk around our yard and see our flowers thriving (well most of the time) and know that we managed to make something grow and thrive. It is a sense of accomplishment.

I thought you also might like to see my winter Mantlescape for this past year. It is again was a mix of things I already owned. Giving ordinary items a new purpose is fun and thrifty!


That was the Christmas version.


I replaced the Christmas objects with the repurposed frames I received as a gift from my father-in-law. This one is made from an old fence post. The mercury glass candleholder is another gift my sister brought back from Ireland for me. I printed out the Love saying to make it a Valentine’s theme. Forgive me because I can’t remember where I printed the free print from.