Can you tell I like alliterations? Well, I like changing up decor too and although we haven't done too much of that with all of our basement work, I did manage to put up some fall decor this year. I may change it in a week for halloween, but I can always put it back up for Thanksgiving!
Last fall we were all about the porch. The porch is like a greenhouse in the summer but when the fall temperatures drop it's the perfect place to sit and enjoy all the new fall colors. The majority of our fall decoration took place on the porch but this year, that's not really an option. For weeks the porch was filled with garage sale items to be priced or waiting until the big day and although I never thought to take a picture, you'll have to trust me: there was junk EVERYWHERE! Also, since we're debating tearing down the porch (more on that later) we're trying to be as minimalist out there as possible, pretending that 'indoor' space doesn't exist. As if those excuses weren't enough, I found out the storage bin with all the porch decorations is buried under our other storage items that will eventually make their way back to the basement - totally inaccessible for now!
Since I couldn't decorate the porch this year, I focused on the dining room since we have two buffet surfaces and a table to decorate!
So, for the dining room decor, I had to work with what I could find around the house or in nature. First, I decided I liked the summer chalkboard so much that I made it again for the fall. I found an autumn subway art image as inspiration and with a wet rag and chalk, this ended up being free and quick! Since the organ sold, the frame is temporarily propped up on our window buffet but we're hoping to include it in whatever art we add on our now empty living room wall.
Source of inspiration picture (right)
The chalkboard is grounded with two real pumpkins and a grapevine pumpkin (from Target) as well as a bushel of 3 Indian corn cobs. The bird flew out of the cage (with it's magical plastic wings) and I replaced it with three pillar candles. The other corner of the window buffet has 6 more candles (the three tall ones were on the organ and the three small ones in a drawer, but all the bases are from Target.) There's something about fall that makes me want to light some candles and start warming up the house with their aroma and flickering light!
The hutch buffet is being watched over by this owl lantern I found on clearance last year at Target. I love how the light shines through him at night! Some acorn tops collected from walks around the neighborhood are mixed with wine corks to create a textural 'nest' for Mr. Owl.
For the table arrangement, I made my only purchase: three gourds. (Until a candle disaster...) At 59 cents a piece, I spent under $2 for the table! I started with three leaf place mats I picked up at Walgreens last year. Unfortunately, before I could even photograph the beautiful table, we had company over and a candle mishap!
So I had to spend over an hour scraping wax from both the leaf placemat and turquoise tablecloth. And then I went and spent $20 for 4 different sized flameless candles from Target. This is the first time I've chosen these over real candles, but so far I'm really liking them! They still have a vanilla scent, are safer for kids (guests, not ours), and I don't have to worry about another wax mess! They last longer too, and I'll be able to use them for other seasons since they're a simple vanilla pillar candle.
I added some wooden pillar candle holders but instead of putting candles atop them, I topped them with two of the gourds and some leftover acorn tops. A lantern got some cinnamon sticks sprinkled around the bottom (which I had a huge bag of from Christmas) and another smaller candle. The squirrel is my favorite addition. I picked up this little fellow from the garage sale and although he was intended as a gag gift, I couldn't let him go just yet!
We want to eventually add something to the now bare wall in the dining room (since the TV has moved to a more normal spot in the living room) but for now, I repurposed a game I made to use at work. I bought scrapbook paper in a variety of colors that matched our living room (browns, greys and turquoise), used three different leaf paper punches to make at least one type of leaf in each design (some papers were reversible with different colors on each side), and laminated them. With my preschool students, I can have them sort the leaves by shape, or by color/design. Since they're laminated, I can also draw letters or shapes on them to make a matching game, or letter recognition game. After using them a few days with my students, I brought the leaves home and hung them with 3M hooks on the wall. It's not something I love enough to be permanant, but for a few dollars worth of paper, and multiple school use ideas, I think it is perfect for this year!
Aside from the dining room, I added a few upgrades to other corners of our house as well.
New owl towels in the kitchen suggest fall with more modern colors. They were $4 each at JoAnne's (with some coupons) and just magically happen to match a notepad that I already had for all our grocery lists!
I also found a new door mat that I had really wanted from Target last year, but was gone before it could go on sale. So, I was delighted to find it in new condition at Turnstyle for $10, half off what it was originally. It's more Halloween than autumn, but I think the 'Welcome' message is neutral enough to have it out all season.
So there you have it, an autumnal abode from the Allens! Have you made any last minute seasonal changes to your home too?
On July 31st Mike and I celebrated our first year wedding anniversary. I wanted it to be special, but with the basement renovation and saving plans, we wanted to set a budget for any gifts. The traditional first year anniversary gift is paper. I easily found something made out of paper which was perfect for Mike - a book! Mike is like a sponge with books and how quickly he reads them and learns the information. (To learn something new I need at least a visual picture, if not someone to walk me through the process more than once!) So I found him a book about Bungalow houses and a camping cookbook which were both in our $30 budget and are two subjects that Mike likes. I wasn't sure what Mike would decide to get me, so when I read that a common modern gift for first anniversaries was a clock, I hinted to Mike that I would love a watch! Well, Mike took my hint and gave me a fun bracelet/watch, but added such a creative and romantic paper gift too: paper flowers!
Mike researched how to make these paper flowers (see, he's such a sponge!) and spent an evening working in the office to pull off four of these beauties. In addition to being beautiful in their simple creative design, these paper flowers have more meaning since we spent days making about 300 flower name markers for our wedding. On our honeymoon, we found a handmade paper flower (with button middle) at a little shop in Stillwater to add to a bouquet of the extra wedding paper flowers in our home. Mike handpicked all the paper for the flowers to reflect things about me or us or our house. He changed the pattern a bit to have four instead of five petals (so he could use just one piece of scrapbook paper instead of two with leftover paper) but you can find a great tutorial to make the five petal version here.
Isn't Mike a sweetheart! And then he went and wrote a surprise post about the yummy wedding cake we pulled out of the freezer to celebrate making me beam with pride and tear up at the same time! So all that to say, we had a wonderful anniversary and celebrated to the fullest with a stay at our favorite bed and breakfast in Stillwater, meaningful but not budget breaking gifts, delicious cake, and lots of love.
I remember the first taste of our wedding cake, how delicious it was and how perfectly it refilled what a long day of heat and butterflies had taken away. So perfect, in fact, that the few bites we took for the cameras weren't enough. We snuck away from the band and the dancing and the laughing to get a second, proper, helping.
It was eerie how quiet the dining hall had become now that the party had moved to another floor, bringing all of our guests with it. It was like the party had stopped, the world slowed down, and it was just us - left to enjoy each other, and of course, our cake. We knew the celebration was still going strong and soon we'd be swept back to the thick of it but we put that out of our minds and savored every last moment and bite.
A full year later life is still moving fast and the celebration raging. Amongst the chaos I love the times when the noise quiets and we're able to savor the moment. You're an amazing wife, friend, and partner. I'm continually surprised at how deep our love has grown and continues to grow. I had no idea love could ever be this strong.
Thanks for a great first year and for the many more to come.