Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration

Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration

Summer Mantel Ideas

Summer mantel ideas and inspiration were on our minds as Sophia and I went to our local Homegoods store.  I asked her to help me find some new items to add to the mantel.  These two large shiny gold pineapples caught her eye.  Yes, I had noticed and admired them but this nine-year-old was adamant that they were the very pieces needed to brighten the mantel.

You might have realized that my style is a little more subdued, as a sweet young woman once described it, ‘quietly elegant‘.  Whether that is true or not, I like the description!  Thinking that the rather large shiny gold pieces might be a little bit of a challenge to incorporate into our muted decor but what the heck!  They were purchased along with a pair of blue glass candle holders.  The blue and gold look nice together and they repeat the colors of a few of the throw pillows we already have.

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Before we left on this little shopping expedition, I had been toying with the idea of using a couple of white lanterns that we have had for a few years.  In my mind, they were larger than they actually are and weren’t quite as tall as I remembered either.  Blue, white, and the shiny gold make a nice color combination though.

The round black clock was the only item which remained for this makeover.  The gold Roman numerals on the clock was another gold element.  Everything else was removed.  The shiny gold pineapples were placed on the fireplace and yes, they were pretty much of an attention getter!  As I looked at the subdued colors of the room, the realization that more shiny gold was going to be needed.

The lanterns were retrieved from the basement, cleaned up a little, and placed on the mantel along with the pineapples.

If you introduce a new color to a room, it looks more intentional and at home, if there are little pockets of that color placed all around the room.  Your eye follows color and you can use that to your advantage.  There is gold in this room but not the bright shiny gold in these pineapples.  The blue glass candle holders were placed on the mantel, too.  No problem there, blue is also on the throw pillows and the blue and white Chinese vases, bowls, and knick knacks.

Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on

At this point, there was a debate in my mind about whether the lantern should be between the pineapple and the blue candleholder or if the candle holder should be in between the lantern and the pineapple.  The easiest way to decide is to do both and take a look.  The straight lines of the lantern between the rounded shapes of the candle holders and the pineapple won out in the end.

Another gold item needed to be placed in the center of the arrangement.  Looking around, the brass pedestal bowl was spotted.  It seemed a perfect centerpiece.Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on

Although I had white candles which were a little taller, these candles wrapped in gold wire carried on the golden theme and seemed perfect.

Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on

Yes, but the brass pedestal bowl seemed to need a little more height.  So, a blue book was placed under it.

Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on

Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on







The blue book adds more of that color to the mantel but it seemed to need more weight, too.  A black book was placed underneath the blue book.  Yes, it needed that.  Then, it seemed something was missing from the ends.  Right?  Something blue to carry the color throughout the whole arrangement was needed.

I recalled seeing two little ceramic blue birds at the local craft store.  That was my plan.  Well, circumstances kept me from getting to that store but I did make it to another and these little birds caught my eye.  At the time, I thought they would have to make do for now.Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on


Well, don’t you know they were perfect?  The little birds not only pulled the blue together but also carried the white throughout the arrangement.  In fact, they seemed to bring it all together and completed the triangular composition.  The little birds also repeat the blue and white patterns of the Chinese vases and bowls placed throughout the room.

Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on

   Using shapes to create a triangle is one of my favorite compositions.  The simplest of all polygons, the triangle base down, gives a visual impression of stability.

   Decorating your mantel can be an adventure.  With me, at least, you can see it is trial and error.  A bold triangular composition was in my mind from the beginning and this time it was also the end product. Fear is a road block to creativity.  Fearlessly plunge into it and see what is pleasing to your eye.  You might be surprised at what you come up with in the end.

Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on


Maybe these ‘Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration’ will help you create a beautiful mantel arrangement, too.

Summer Mantel Ideas and Inspiration on

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Do You Have A Paint Color Mistake? How To Fix It!

Do You Have A Paint Color Mistake? How To Fix It!

April 6, 2017

  Do You Have A Paint Color Mistake?  Have you ever taken someone else’s advice, knowing full well that it wasn’t right, yet you went right on and did it anyway?   In your gut you knew it and as you beat yourself up, you ask, “I knew better.  Why did I do that?”


  Well, I did not follow my own advice when I painted our master bedroom en suite several years ago!  A well-known person with her own signature paints offered chips with coordinating colors on them.  I brought one of them home and decided to paint my ceiling a bold gold color and the walls a green from her color suggestions on that chip.  Even though I had reservations, she was way more famous than I and all of her experts knew better than I, right?

    Don’t get me wrong.  They are both beautiful colors, but the saturation of color in the paint on the ceiling is more than the paint on the walls.   It has always felt a little wrong.  For an earlier post click here► For a foolproof way to choose your Paint colors.  Or click here for another post you might like ►No Fear Paint Selection.

     Seriously, the rest of my home is painted with beautiful colors following this method.  I would not change one of them!  If I have to paint again, I would probably choose the same colors.   Do you love your color choices that much?   If you choose your colors from something you love, how can you go wrong?

     I have loved the way the afternoon sun poured in the half round window at the peak of the vaulted ceiling on the west wall and illuminated the golden color.   I loved the green on the walls more.  It’s kind of like being enveloped in a meadow.

   The two colors ‘together’ have bothered me for a long time!   You could see the ceiling had a lot more saturation of color and at certain times of the day, it was unsettling.  It’s amazing how different the colors on the walls and ceiling look at different times of the day.

      The photo above is a relatively good representation of the gold color.  (It’s hard to get a perfect match with a camera and the computer.)  It is a little garish next to the softer green and the paler color, isn’t it?

   Don’t you love vaulted ceilings?   Physically painting vaulted ceilings is not something I particularly love.   So I lived with it for awhile.

   When we were working on the bathroom/dressing area, I finally decided to fix the problem.  The paint color we chose for the bathroom, Autumn Blond from Sherwin Williams, is the new color for the ceiling in the bedroom and the dressing area, but in a flat finish.  

    You may be thinking that the Autumn Blond color is just a neutral.  It is, but I could have chosen any color on the fan with that same depth of color and it would have looked better than that stark gold.  You can see that the green and the wheat have white added.  They have a softness about them.  Clearly, the gold doesn’t.

 Paint Color Cross-Pollination

    Remember in an earlier post how we cross-pollinate adjoining rooms by painting the wall color on the ceiling of the adjoining room and vice versa?  Please don’t tell me you still have all white ceilings!  If you have color on the wall, you will love the color on the ceilings!  You can paint it the same color as the wall and it will look a shade lighter.

   If you want the ceiling to look even lighter, you can skip up or down one, (depending on your fan), on the same card to a lighter tint of the wall color.


   If you want it to look darker, you will have to skip up or down, (depending on your fan), on the color fan and choose a step darker paint.  If you have tall ceilings and want them to look a little lower, you can visually bring them down with paint.  It will seem a little cozier, especially, if your ceilings are stark white!

    In the picture below, from an earlier post, you can see that the ceiling is the original green color and the walls are the Autumn Blond, which is a color pulled from the new ceramic tile on the bathroom floor.

  Yep, I love the new color!  The garish gold is gone.  I no longer look at the bedroom ceiling and wish I had painted it another color!  The whole house is in color harmony.

    This is an easy way to choose a perfect color for your next paint job.  Would you like more posts on paint and color?  Do you have a paint color mistake?



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Spring Mantel Ideas – Simple and Understated

Spring Mantel Ideas – Simple and Understated

Spring Mantel Ideas – Simple and Understated

March 7, 2017

    Spring Mantel Ideas – Simple and Understated.  Perhaps that is my mantra – ‘understated’.  If it is yours, too,  you’ve come to the right place.  If not, you can always embellish with more.  These ideas will give you a good foundation upon which to embellish.


   Last year, I found this adorable bunny at Hobby Lobby.  I loved it so much, I decided to go back and buy another one.  Wrong.  They were all gone by the time I got there!   Don’t you hate when that happens?


   This year, when I saw these bunnies back again at Hobby Lobby, I purchased another and a smaller version, too.  Aren’t these the cutest bunnies?   I could just imagine them on the fireplace mantel.

    Contemplating removing the clock again, I decided against it.  I love that it is black and loving those little black touches throughout the house, I couldn’t…   (Rationalizing.)  Besides, the tips of the bunny ears show up nicely in front of it.

    After placing the two larger bunnies on the mantel, it seemed something was missing.   They needed something nestled between them.  The thought of a little nest with the antique-looking eggs I made earlier this week came to mind.  A trip to Michael’s and the Dollar Tree was necessary.  Michael’s had the little 7-inch nest and Dollar Tree had inexpensive moss.

    Have you ever heard of ‘reindeer moss’?   Turns out reindeer moss is actually a lichen of the genus Cladonia, which the reindeer eat.  Who knew?   Regardless, I liked the green color of it and picked up a bag for a dollar!


    Although the reindeer moss-lined nest with the eggs looked okay, it seemed to need a little something more.

   So, a couple of pieces cut from a spring floral bouquet were gently bent to curve around the nest.    While that looked nice, the thought to add a little ivy to this to give it a little more interest came to mind.

    You see the workings of my simple mind.  While the flowers added a different color and texture, there was still something missing.  The little pieces of ivy added that little extra understated touch.   Subtle, but isn’t it perfect?


   A few weeks ago, the two orchids in the picture were purchased at the local grocery.  Although they are still blooming, it seemed replacement flowers a little more indicative of the season were needed to welcome spring.

    So at Sam’s Club, there were more orchids but as I was reaching for a white one to put in the cart, the thought of spring tulips popped into my head.  Yes, white or ivory spring tulips just seemed right at that moment.  

   Stopping at two local Kroger stores on the way home and searching in the floral departments, I couldn’t find an appropriate pair of tulip plants.  Where are the tulips now when I need them?  

    Totally disappointed, I headed home.  Looking at the mantel again, I contemplated using a different set of vases.  Setting one on the mantel, the idea of using some of the silk floral stems leftover from the nest came to mind.  

     Isn’t the big vase on the right beautiful?  Yes, but you know what?  I think the smaller vase actually looks a little more delicate and spring-like.  Don’t you?  


   Using little wire cutters, the stems were cut from the bouquet and placed in the vase.  When the stems were first placed in the vase, they were too short.  Wine corks do come in handy.  I just piled some in the vase and voila!  Perfect height!

    Notice that I also switched the birds around.  With the smaller vases, it seemed the one on the right would now draw the eye back to the mantel.  I like the negative space all around the elements.   You can definitely see the triangular composition in this one, which is always pleasing to the eye.

    Notice that in this triangular composition there are multiple secondary triangular compositions, as indicated by the blue and red lines in the picture below.  Although each of these triangular compositions has almost identical items, you could create a similar triangulation with completely different items.

   Typically, liking something a little understated, this is very appealing to yours truly.  More elements could be added but sometimes restraint is a good thing. Don’t you agree?

    Hope this has helped motivate and inspire you to create your own spring mantel decor!  Spring Mantel Ideas – Simple and Understated.





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13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes

13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes

13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes

February 13, 2017

    13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes are simple.  Isn’t there something irresistible about cheesecakes?  It has to be one of the most loved desserts of all time.  


   Surprisingly, my mother and grandmothers did not attempt these delicious perfect endings to a meal.  Here are some of The Secrets For Beautiful Successful Cheesecakes, which I have discovered after baking these desserts for years.

13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes on


   Techniques for making a perfect cheesecake are easy to master, but even as a novice, you can make an impressive cheesecake on your first attempt!


1.  Before starting one of these delicious desserts, make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature.  Aside from mixing together easier, the final cake will have a smoother texture.


2.   Combine the cream cheese and sugar thoroughly before adding flavorings, cream, or sour cream.  Stop the mixer a few times, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and the paddle.  It is impossible to remove lumps after liquid ingredients have been added.

13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes on


 3.  Use the paddle attachment on your electric mixer.  Regular whipping beaters incorporate too much air into the batter and it will result in cracks in the final cake.


  4.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in whipped cream or beaten egg whites if your recipe calls for either.  Be careful not to deflate the volume of the whipped ingredients when combining with the batter.


  5.  Almost any cookie will make a good base for cheesecake.  Many recipes call for graham crackers, but I have even used Oreo sandwich cookies!  The cookie or cracker crumbs are usually mixed with melted butter, sugar, and sometimes nuts.  Even if a recipe doesn’t call for nuts, I sometimes decrease the amount of cookie crumbs and add some ground nuts.

  6.  Crushing the cookies can be done by grinding in the food processor using the metal blade.  If you don’t have one of these, a plastic bag filled with the cookies can be crushed with a rolling pin.


  7.  Although I have never heard of anyone else doing it, I put a layer of parchment over the bottom piece of the springform pan, clamp the outer ring securing it to the bottom.   Once, I had a problem releasing the crust from the pan and this method has worked perfectly for me.  After the cheesecake has chilled sufficiently, the ring is removed and the cheesecake comes off of the parchment easily.  (The cheesecake can actually be lifted up by the parchment, held by the palm of your hand, peeled back one side at a time and placed on the serving platter.)

13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes on


    8.  After the parchment is attached to the springform pan, place two layers of heavy duty tin foil under the pan and pull up around the sides and crush to the edges.  ( You don’t want the water seeping in around the base of the pan.)


   Before or after pouring the batter into the springform pan, place the pan in a larger baking pan.   After the batter has been added, fill with hot water about 1/2 – 2/3 of the way up the sides of the pan.  That is called a bain marie.

Cheesecake is more like a custard than a cake.  The water bath bakes it more slowly and evenly.


    9.  Always Place in a preheated oven.   Make sure the oven is preheated!

 10.  Don’t open the oven door while the cheesecake is baking!  A sudden fluctuation in temperature could cause cracking.  Use your oven light to check until the cheesecake is 5 – 10 minutes away from the baking time suggested.  


  11. Don’t overbake.  The cheesecake should be set in the middle and jiggle when slightly shaken. It should still look slightly moist on top.  The top of the cheesecake should not brown and there should be no caramelization.  


  12.  When the cheesecake is finished baking, turn the oven off, prop the oven door open slightly, and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for about an hour.  Cheesecakes release steam while they bake and cool.  If the steam is released too quickly it causes the top to crack.

13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes on


  13.   Just in case there is still some steam coming off of the cheesecake, lay a paper towel over the top of the cheesecake pan and a layer of Reynolds Wrap to hold it.  Any condensation will be absorbed by the paper towel.  (I don’t know about you, but it sometimes happens that there just isn’t sufficient time for the cake to completely cool before it has to go in the refrigerator at my house!)


   You don’t have to follow all of these steps, but I have found that by doing these things, the cheesecakes made in this humble home turn out perfect every time.  If you are a bit of a perfectionist, (Would you be reading this if you weren’t?) then you understand the motivation behind this!

13 Easy Tips For The Best Homemade Cheesecakes on

    Almond cheesecake.  This was the first cheesecake recipe I ever made.  Isn’t that gorgeous?  It is simply delicious, too!  For more tried and true cheesecake recipes, click here ► Cheesecakes.


   Hope these 13 Easy Tips for The Best Homemade Cheesecakes ever, inspire you to create your own masterpiece!



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Love Balance? Cut Your Table In Half!

Love Balance? Cut Your Table In Half!

Love Balance? Cut Your Table In Half!

February 6, 2017

|   Don’t you love balance? symmetry?  While “Create Balance… Cut your table in half!”, might sound a little contradictory, it makes perfect sense.   On our fireplace wall, we have a beautiful ledge, which holds some decorative items, old books, etc.  The fireplace is a light colored brick and in order to create balance, so the top wouldn’t seem so heavy, the lower wall needed something.

   It just so happened that we had a card table, which we had previously used as a kitchen table in our first apartment.  That table, which was relegated to the basement, gave me an idea.  After measuring it, I found it to be a perfect size.  Fortunately for me, it had a leaf at one time so I did not actually have to cut the table in half.   I merely disassembled it, removed the hardware and created matching half tables for each side of the fireplace.

   I cut a 2″ X 4″ to fit neatly under the table for support, leveled it, and then attached it to the wall.  Using a stud finder I located the studs and made sure the screws were long enough to go into the studs in the wall.  (Holes, a little smaller than the diameter of the screws, were drilled into the 2″ X 4″ to make it easier for the screws to be screwed into it.)

    Then I drilled two holes through the top of the table to accommodate two more drywall screws.  After positioning the table where I wanted it, those screws were screwed through the top of the table and into the 2″ X 4″.  This made the half-table pretty sturdy.

  Don’t have a table to cut in half or disassemble?  Lowe’s and Home Depot have wooden rounds up to 36″ in diameter, which could be cut in half.  (I know Lowe’s lumber department has a huge saw.  They charge a very small fee and they can cut these in half for you.)  They also have wooden legs available.   It would be really easy to just attach the legs and create your own half-tables.

    Next, I made a half tablecloth and coordinating topper.  The table and the fabric cloths created a great foundation for lamps, books and some decorative pieces.  

    Although I made these from scratch, it would be easy to take a regular tablecloth and cut it in half and hem the cut edge.  If you don’t sew, there is fusible hemming tape, which you can purchase at the fabric store. ► HeatnBond.

   For that matter, it wouldn’t have to be a rounded table.  Rectangular pieces of wood could be used just as easily.  A squared off tablecloth would be even easier to make.

    Two matching mirrors were added above the tables and some decorative items along with matching lamps were placed on the tables.

   This display added the much-needed weight and balance on that wall.

    In the picture on the left above, I blocked out the mirror and tables.  You can see what a difference those make on that wall.  They add a layer and depth to that room, which is needed.

    So, do you need matching tables beside your fireplace or your bed?  Maybe you should consider cutting your table in half, or just disassembling it!



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