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'Fast, Cheap & Easy': Spellbound Photos

 alright, witches....
here's a 'Fast, Cheap & Easy' TM Halloween decorating tip if ever there was one:

1. grab a bunch of family photos. the more women in them, the better ;0)
doesn't matter where they are or what they are doing.
2. scan them, or take them to the local printer and run copies, in black and white.
3. use a black Sharpie marker and draw WITCH HATS and SHOES onto the women in the photos!
4. frame them in cheap dollar store frames painted black, and hang anywhere.
see how EASY this is?!
you can turn any gathering of girls into a witches' convention!
the photos can be of women at the beach, on a roller coaster, in the pool, on the runway... 
in any era, any decade, any style.
just add hats and funny shoes!
and maybe a cobweb overlay as a skirt or shawl. 
[ black cats, cauldrons, brooms and magic wands optional ]

one important note:
you might not want to use photos of your mother in law for this!
you can also use smaller photos, draw the hats on them, 
then place them into clear glass jars and bottles.
i added printed captions to mine - just funny lines that sort of describe the action in the photos -
and embellished the bottles with black ribbon and silver chains & charms.
 the image on the large bottle here is from an old book page -
i added the black hat and then glued the whole image onto the outside of the bottle.
[ a similar photo of these bottles appeared in PORCH magazine back in 2009 ]

I've got another easy and FUN idea for using a witch hat...
check out this post, too!


Inspired by Charm likes Sweet Sweater Pumpkins!

 in the last few weeks of september, i was on a pumpkin-making mission
(i called it pumpkingeddon!) to prepare products for a huge corporate order.

but it was very 'hush-hush' and i couldn't share what it was for.
so i cut and stuffed and tied and tagged a few hundred pumpkins
and bagged them up in sets of three, one from each color palette (Light, Bright, and Neutral)
it was a special package created just for this company...
loaded them into boxes
and then shipped them off to chicago on a wing and a prayer.

from the corporate office, they would be re-boxed individually 
and sent off to customers who had ordered a 'grab bag' sort of offering.
yes, sight unseen!

i was finally given permission to share the news today:
my Original Sweet Sweater Pumpkins are featured
in Michael J. Wurm's 'Inspired by Charm' October offering for 

Michael and i 'met' when we were both contributing writers for FOLK Magazine
[not in person, just in lots of word-y posts, comments, and emails]
and he has been very generous in sharing word of HOMEWARDfound with his fans.
[the man has over TWO MILLION Twitter and Pinterest followers!]
he's a 'style spotter' for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine,
 a contributor to home decor and design websites and resources, 
one of his bffs is Kim Myles (yes, the DesignStar winner!),
so he's truly a design STAR himself...
and I am so honored that he chose my product for his Lost Crate offering

Thank you, Michael at Inspired by Charm!
Thank you to Jack at Lost Crates!


make a crystal ball from a glass lamp globe!

i'd like to share another of the original projects i created a few years ago: 
A Crystal Ball Lamp

it's made with a clear glass lamp globe (yep, i find lots of things to do with those!)
a 'hurricane' electric lamp with a clear glass base, and some black beaded trim.

i printed the Glam Witch image (without the hat) onto clear acetate, 
then cut out the silhouette to adhere to the lamp itself
 so that it would appear to float inside the globe.
[the globe sits on the part of the lamp where the glass hurricane shade used to sit]
a pleated vintage ribbon and bit of black beaded trim add a nice finishing touch.

i also made some crystal balls that weren't on lamps - 
simply mounting them to a base of crystal, black or white ceramic urn gives them presence
[the image appears to 'float', but is attached to a small  lid sitting low inside the urn]
Crystal ball lamp on left . crystal ball in rear right

like those swanky pumpkins?
i made them from fabric, using the same method i use for my sweet sweater pumpkins
my tutorial is available here


a friend who saw the graphic in my last post ('Witches are just Princesses with PMS')
said that at some point in life, that excuse would run out.... so I added more to it! ENJOY!


Halloween Inspiration: Mad Science

 Welcome to October at HOMEWARDfound!
Let the Halloween Decor Inspiration commence...

I was recently at an local store's event taking photos for a magazine story (more about that in a bit),
and was delighted when I saw the ghoulish Halloween display shown above.
I knew as soon as I saw it that this would be my October 1st blog post,
 because there are so many creative ideas shown here that we can learn from...

This mantel has some terrific cost-effective ideas:

*the taxidermy bat
 it's a primitive DOLL hung on a board! and it looks for all the world like taxidermy because it's ratty, old, dirty, and beat up. ok, so bats aren't MY thing.... maybe they aren't yours, either. but take an old deer or moose mount, spray paint it matte black, then rub some dirt into it, scuff up the nose and antlers, and you have a creepy old animal thing to hang over your mantel. stretch some cobwebs between the antlers, put a few spiders in there.... positively ghoulish.

[i am NOT advocating killing animals. do you know how many dirty old head mounts there are at garage sales, thrift shops, and antique malls? someone else killed them, let's just make use of them.]

*the draping.
simple cheesecloth dyed black - you can buy it at fabric and costume & party supply stores.
it's lightweight, so it can go just about anywhere without a lot of support needed. you can stretch this stuff out, rip it to shreds, and it just looks even better. i'd have taken a length of it and created a ratty scarf for the mannequin, and tucked a bat into it like a brooch!  

*the specimen jars
these are simple big old glass canisters and pickle jars  - stuff you can find at every garage sale, thrift shop, even at Ross and Marshalls stores. gather up a few (and old & dirty is PERFECT for this!), then start working on the contents...

inside the jars, you can have any kind of scary, grotesque specimens you want. the dollar store and Walmart are a great place to grab plastic and rubber spiders, snakes, cockroaches, eyeballs, fingers, skulls, sponges that look like brains....

[ok, I love a good movie reference. and that just made me think of  a scene from 'Young Frankenstein', where Igor tells Doctor Frankenstein which brain he grabbed from the lab: 

"Abby somebody".
"You brought me an ABNORMAL BRAIN???".

so i'd put a sponge brain in a jar with pink tinted water, and a label that said 'Abby Somebody'. that would make me laugh every time i looked at it!

the jars could be filled with cheap plastic bones from the dollar store - femurs, hands, feet - but they don't LOOK cheap because of what you do with them: simply paint them flat white, then use a dry brush technique to smear some flat black paint into the crevices, making the details stand out. take them outside and roll them in the dirt, too, just to make them look like they came out of the ground - then pop them into the jars and close the lid.

a humorous tag will make people smile, too.  
do ya' see what i did there?

over on a cabinet next to the mantel, more specimen jars gather...

*old medical books
used as a base for more specimen jars, this just adds another layer of creepiness to the decor. the whole book doesn't even have to BE a medical journal - just the two pages you have it opened to. buy ONE ratty old medical book or magazine at an antique store, then tear the pages out and glue them into regular dictionaries. (THOSE are pennies on the dollar at thrift shops).

you can also add lettering to the cover and spine of old books, turning a plain old dictionary into a CREEPOLOGIST MANUAL or an EMBALMING GUIDE... just use a black sharpie marker and write right on the cover!

the photos you see above were all taken by me at
Down Home American Country Antiques, located in Orange, California 
it is owned by Peggy and Don Arentz, and Peggy is the mad scientist who thought up this display!


I was FOLKed.

March, 2014
Due to many currently developing circumstances,
I would like to clarify my PAST involvement 

with FOLK Magazine and Ben Ashby.

* NOTE: I am back-dating this post so that it does not go out in my RSS feed. *
The post was written March 11, 2014 
but will appear on my blog dated September 29, 2012, which was when I resigned from FOLK.

My Personal Experience:
Prior to the September 2011 release of the first issue of FOLK Magazine,
my business was photographed at an event for inclusion in the issue.
Ben Ashby contacted me after seeing the photos and what I did,
and asked me to be a contributing writer.
The verbal agreement entered into by myself and other contributing writers
was that when the publication moved into the black, we would begin to be paid for our work.

From September of 2011 to September of 2012,
I was a contributing freelance writer to FOLK Magazine.
My regular column shared my own original content for seasonal decor,
and several feature articles about small businesses were also contributed by me.
I also created many graphics for use by FOLK Magazine online (FB and blog).

In May, 2012, I traveled to Springfield, Ohio
to manage a mini-show of 20 vendors in the FOLKbarn,
a pop-up show located in a barn at the larger Springfield Antique Show.
I booked the vendors, and took care of them during the show.
Ben Ashby was the one who had set this event up with the Springfield show management,
and he alone managed the FOLKstore - a 'general store'-type pop-up shop, located in the same barn.
The only involvement I had with the FOLKstore was to assist in creating product displays,
along with the display of a vintage truck located at the entrance to FOLKbarn.
I did not have anything to do with procuring the products or giveaways during or after the show.
This was my one-time involvement with a FOLK event.

I was a freelance writer / contributor, not an employee of the magazine, for one year.
[There were no employees, just the owner/publisher Ben Ashby and his partner, Heath Stiltner.
All other contributors were unpaid freelancers. All 'staff' members were unpaid volunteers.]
All of my content during that time for the print magazine, and occasional blog posts to promote the print magazine, was submitted freely on my part  - with the verbal promise and understanding 
that when the magazine was 'in the black', contributors would begin to receive payment.
That was expected to happen within six months. It never happened.

The last two freelance feature articles I submitted -
those featuring ReStitched USA and Down Home Country Antiques -
were published in the fall and holiday issues in 2012.
Both issues were released more than a month after schedules indicated, 
which negatively impacted the businesses featured.

I tendered my contributor's resignation in September of 2012.

Since that time, much information has come to light publicly in regard to 
the actions, choices, conduct and activity (both personal and 'professional') 
of Ben Ashby and FOLK Magazine. 
I feel it is my responsibility to speak out about what I know.

At the time of my involvement with the startup FOLK Magazine, 
I was proud to contribute to a publication with the mission 
to shine a light on the small businesses, craftspeople, vendors, small towns and farms of America.

As time went by, it became clear to me that that mission was secondary to making money,
and subsequently that the editor/publisher WAS making money - though he reported that he was not - 
but was not paying contributors, as promised.

Nor was he paying the printer of the magazines.

Nor was he delivering magazines to the subscribers, retailers, and wholesalers 
who had paid for them.
Subscribers received no magazines to read, even though they had paid for them. 
Gift Subscriptions were not delivered.
Retailers had no magazines to sell in their shops - even though they had paid for them.

Then he began NOT printing the magazine, which left advertisers in the red:
no print magazine, no ad, no viewers/shoppers - yet they paid for the ad space.
Excuses given were that the local Post Office 'lost' entire shipments of one issue,
and that the local print shop caught on fire, and needed time to rebuild before printing another issue.

Issues were routinely delivered over one month past the promoted publish date.
When he hastily created digital versions of the magazine, 
he claimed that the exposure provided therein
was what his contributors and advertisers and subscribers had actually paid for.

Meanwhile, Ben Ashby and Heath Stiltner were traveling around the country to events 
and 'shooting stories' and having 'business meetings' - on other people's money.
Ben was giving away free print copies of FOLK Magazine at those events - 
copies that had already been paid for by subscribers and retailers.
He was posting this information on his many social media accounts. 
When caught, he deleted photos and posts on the FOLK facebook page 
that showed him giving out the magazine, and denied he had done so.

In addition, Ben rebuffed the efforts by respected persons in the publishing industry
who stepped in to mentor, assist, teach, and train him so that the magazine could solve problems and be successful. He refused their offers for help - and bragged about it, at least to me personally.

The Facts:
*There are THOUSANDS of people who have purchased ad space, magazines, subscriptions, and products
from Ben Ashby DBA FOLK Magazine (not a licensed business until Fall, 2013).
The vast majority of them never received the product that they paid for,
and have failed to receive a response from Ben or a refund of their money.

*HUNDREDS of bloggers, photographers, writers, and businesses 
contributed to and promoted FOLK Magazine with the promise of payment.
The overwhelming majority of them never received a dime.

*The entire HOMETALK blogging community was promised payment 
for promoting FOLK on their own blogs, and providing content to the magazine -  
and most of them have not received a dime in return for their work.

*Celebrities and recognized personalities in publishing, television, and business
have been used by Ben Ashby to promote FOLK Magazine
most prominently The Beekman 1802 Boys, Matthew Mead, Jo Packham of Where Women Create,
Kim Leggett of City Farmhouse, and Jen O'Connor of Earth Angels Studios.
He even attempted to use Martha Stewart's name and reputation to promote himself,
after he stood near her at an event and had someone snap a photo of them 'together'.

These names, businesses (stores, magazines and events) have been leveraged by Ben Ashby and Heath Stiltner
to promote FOLK Magazine and 'sell' more products. 
[As of March, 2014, they are STILL being used to do so, 
in emails being sent to the subscriber database - which was previously reported by Ben Ashby as 'lost'.]
Of those mentioned above, only the Beekman 1802 Boys have made a public statement
denouncing their previous support of FOLK Magazine and Ben Ashby.

* In an apparent reversal of previous statements by Ben Ashby,
past issues of FOLK Magazine DO exist in print -
but are not being sent to the subscribers and retailers who purchased them previously.
As of March 1, 2014,
those now-available copies are currently being promoted
via Instagram as 'Free with Paid Shipping',
and sent to the new fan base that has been generated via Twitter and Instagram.
Several issues are also listed for sale on the FOLK website - for $99.00 per copy!
All of those copies are pre-sold, to customers who never received them.

 My Opinion:
These actions and practices engaged in by Ben Ashby and Heath Stiltner, FOLK Magazine,
and also as 'Dirty Dukes' men's underwear online and now 'Dear Journal' print Wedding publication,
are illegal, misleading, and fraudulent.
The primary basis of business transactions and publicity WAS facebook, 
but has now moved to Twitter and Instagram to gain new fans and unsuspecting customers.

This method of duping customers will continue unless people become aware of his tactics.
Many of those who have been affected by his scams have had the courage to
stand up, speak out, warn others, and file complaints with the proper authorities.
Despite their actions, it still continues.

By his own admission online and in promotional emails, 
Ben Ashby has hundreds of thousands of 'international' subscribers, retailers, wholesalers, and vendors
who have paid him for subscriptions and copies of FOLK Magazine AND for products from vendors.

If he is lying about how many customers he has, that is fraudulent marketing and advertising.
If he is NOT lying about the numbers, he has raked in far more money than he is admitting -

and is lying about not having the funds to continue printing the magazine for his paid customers.

My Thoughts:
I met many talented, ETHICAL people through my involvement at the beginning of FOLK Magazine, 
and still call many of them friends and professional contacts.
They are good people who contributed to what began as a good cause.

The fact that 'the business of FOLK' quickly spiraled into a fiscal and public relations nightmare 
was distressing to everyone involved - and yet our offers to assist with the recurrent problems 
(including changing processes to meet deadlines for print/publish dates, database control, pre-press proofing & editing, email and social media communications, order fulfillment, and customer service) 
were refused and rebuffed by editor Ben Ashby.  He wanted total control.

When his control slipped, however, and unprofessional situations came to public light, 
he lost no time in throwing volunteers and contributors under the bus and blaming them for the mess.
It is unconscionable and unprofessional behavior, and no contributor (or FRIEND) deserved it.
Just as no customer deserved to hand over their money and get nothing for it.

Ben Ashby has made many claims that others made decisions and took actions unknown by him.
Yet on multiple occasions, he himself stated privately and publicly that FOLK was 
HIS magazine, HIS 'FOLK empire', HIS claim to fame.
Nothing has ever happened within the 'inner workings' of FOLK Magazine
that was not handled or approved or directed by Ben Ashby. 
No one else had any authority, and Ben had access to EVERY area of the business.
He was fully aware of everything that went on, 
and he directed the actions and words of his 'staff' to make excuses to customers and the public.
When I resigned (an unpaid volunteer position), he tried to force me to sign an NDA. HAH!!!!
Ben Ashby alone is responsible for his choices, actions, and behavior
that negatively affected the contributors, promoters, subscribers, wholesalers, retailers, vendors,  
and many others that supported and promoted FOLK Magazine.
It is time to hold him accountable for that responsibility.

If you have been the victim of fraudulent actions by Ben Ashby, 
as a customer of FOLK Magazine or any of his other 'businesses',
you can find more information about how to file a complaint 
against Ben Ashby and FOLK Magazine
on the FOLK Subscribers page on Facebook.
**That page is NOT ASSOCIATED with the magazine, Ben, Heath, or any official person with FOLK.**

Update May, 2016: that facebook page has been closed.
However, information now appears on the 

'Boycott FOLK Magazine' account on Instagram.

It was set up by private citizens to collect information and
so that customers, subscribers, wholesalers, retailers, vendors, advertisers, et al
could voice their concern, opinions, and experiences with Ben and FOLK
and not have their comments deleted - 
which happens whenever someone posts them on the official FOLK Magazine facebook page.
(Yes, Ben hides and deletes negative comments and ANY questions about subscription/purchase fulfillment that are posted on the FOLK fb and IG pages.)

You can read MANY statements of fraud against Ben Ashby and FOLK Magazine 
by other individuals and businesses on that page.

* and NO, I did not set up that fb page or IG account. But I support it. *

Please remember: Even if all YOU lost was a $5.00 subscription fee,
There are THOUSANDS of people who lost 'just five dollars'.
That adds up to a LOT of money.
And there are HUNDREDS of people who lost much more 
in advertising, wholesale purchases, and product purchases 
from FOLK Magazine and Ben Ashby.
By standing up and speaking out and filing a report,
you are helping ALL of the victims of these crimes get justice.
You are helping the legal system find and STOP Ben Ashby from continuing these scams.

My Advice:
Before you have any business dealings with FOLK Magazine or Ben Ashby or Heath Stiltner,
please do your due diligence and learn what their past behavior has been.
It's a good indicator of their future behavior - unless they are stopped. Legally.

Please, get the word out about FOLK Fraud!
 Boycott FOLK Magazine Instagram page

It's not important that a lot of people read this post or hear MY voice,

but to get the truth from many sources out there, so that more people are not scammed.... 
 which is now known as being 'FOLKed'.

please go to the Kentucky Better Business Bureau Page and write a review.
contact the Federal Trade Commission. contact the IRS, someone PLEASE! 

2020: yep. still at it. he's duping a whole new set of celebs, influencers, and 'folks' on IG.
do not give Ben Ashby your money or your support. his track record sucks.
and he has never ONCE attempted to make restitution to the businesses and customers he stole from.
it's been almost a decade. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

2023: you guessed it. now he's selling a BOOK. and tee shirts.
tip: don't reply to any emails he's sending... you'll get nothing from him,
and you'll be on a database of emails he'll likely sell to another con artist.
the guy has no integrity. no class. no business acumen. 

tricks for your treats!

it seems like caramel apples are everywhere this fall...
several magazines have them on their covers (FOLK, Martha)
and a few more have images inside (Country Living, Matthew Mead, BH&G)

well, i'm joining the party ;0) 
i JUST found these images in my files, and thought i'd pop them up here for you
because there are a few SUPER EASY IDEAS shown in them:

1. sit your caramel apples on a bed of raw sugar - and sprinkle a bit on top, too. 
it doesn't melt into the caramel, but it will stick to both the top
and the dripping gooey stuff that ALWAYS seems to slide off the bottom onto the plate.
the caramel apples shown here are lady apples - very small, and very easy to eat!
2. display your caramel apples or cupcakes on a plate, then sit the plate on top of a glear glass vase that has been filled with with fun decor - like these sparkly foam pumpkins [at Dollar Tree, a buck each] or real orange mini-pumpkins, or a few bags of candy corn. you can use several vases of different heights on your serving table for great results AND these are much more stable than a cake stand. 

[Here's a decor tip: you can re-use candy for decorative purposes. you just have to store it in an airtight container between uses. one of my residential decor clients had two HUGE glass vases that she filled up with candy corn every fall - we're talking about five GALLONS of candy corn in them! when i came in to decorate for the Holidays, she'd have me dump that candy into the sealed plastic containers where it was stored all year. it wasn't EDIBLE, but it was re-usable - and that saved her about fifty bucks each year!]

3. serve popcorn or trail mix from a large glass vase - and use regular coffee cups to scoop & serve! you could easily tuck a colorful paper napkin into the cup handle, too. this also works well for serving soups - use a ladle to serve instead, but the cups are a perfect portion size AND easy to hold.

looking at these images of caramel apples and popcorn makes me think of caramel popcorn balls - one of my favorite childhood treats. my mom also made popcorn balls with corn syrup, sugar, and KoolAid powdered drink mix for flavor & coloring. i had four kids, and making popcorn balls just took too long because i was always having to chase around after someone..... so i would CHEAT! i gave them a sweet, fun popcorn treat that was just as good as popcorn balls without all the work.

my 'trick and cheat' popcorn treat:

pop the corn, then pour it into a paper grocery bag
drizzle it with a LITTLE bit of melted butter
mix together a little bit of salt, KoolAid/CrystalLite powdered drink mix & sugar in a mixing cup
sprinkle the mix over the popcorn in the bag
shake in the paper bag to coat the popcorn with the sugar/KoolAid mixture
dump into a huge bowl [or glass vase, as shown above!]
serve to ravenously hungry kids... and adults ;0)  


Art Class #101: The Art of Arranging

 This country-style cabinet in an entryway serves as a perfect place for seasonal decor -
it's the first thing you see on entering this home, 
and it welcomes residents and guests alike every day.
By simply replacing small items on the three shelves, 
a fresh new look is achieved every three months or so.

Ok, admittedly, for ME, this is a simple undertaking.
But I am getting questions from readers asking me things like 
'How do you know WHERE to put things? How do you ARRANGE them?'

well, I am so very glad you asked!
Time for another 'Art Class #101': let's talk about the Art of Arranging

speaking of 'arranging'....
I first heard the term 'L'arte d' arrangiarsi' when I read the book 'Eat Pray Love' a few years back.
 it's Italian. and it means 'the Art of Making Do'
or literally, 'the art of arranging nothing into something'.
sounds a lot like what i try to share here, huh?!
let's take what we have, and learn a new way to 'make do'...
 let's look a bit closer at the shelves in the top photo 
and find some artful components...
the theme is simply autumn, and the subtext of that is nature.
look closely for repetition - in color, shape, texture, imagery, subjects, and number.
 and of course, you'll see balance, scale, and composition.
all of these work together to form a 'still life' vignette in home decor and store displays.

here's how it all works together:
on the top shelf, left side:
* a small print is leaning against the back of the cabinet - this helps bring a brighter color to the dark background, and also reflects the theme of nature. the sunflowers on the table in the print speak of fall.

* three small ceramic bowls in the 'Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf' pattern are lined up in front of the print - using items in odd numbers (quantities of 3 and 5 are most common) are pleasing to the eye. several small orange pumpkins and a grouping of leaves & nuts fill them for the effect of 'abundance' during the harvest season. also, the bowls are small and do not block the view of the print behind them.

[the items in these bowls are cheesy plastic stuff from the dollar store. it doesn't matter - you can't really SEE them, they just add a bit of color and keep the bowls from being empty.]
 on the top shelf, right side:
* you can just see the small print on the left in this photo. at the edge of it, a wood birdhouse has been placed, with a branch of leaves behind it - this hides the right edge of the painting so that it does not appear to 'float' on the shelf. the 'hidden edge' is integrated into the arrangement as it leads off to the right side. the birdhouse speaks again to the 'nature' theme of the display.

* three small Sweet Sweater Pumpkins are placed in a tight group, along with a few more leaves. their rounded shapes echo the bowls, and the odd number of 3 objects is repeated. however, symmetry isn't the goal: if you lined the pumpkins up like the bowls are, this arrangement would be unbalanced to the eye.

* we've created two arrangements on this small shelf, and linked them with the print and birdhouse.
on the middle shelf, centered:
* first, note that this shelf is arranged with a centered placement - different than the shelf up above, which had two arrangements on either side linked by the print in the center. vary placement for interest!

* two sets of four are used here, but due to their placement, they read as two sets of three to the eye - the three ceramic pumpkins on the left and the three stacked leatherbound Bibles are what you see first.

* the ceramic pumpkin plate sits behind the other ceramic pumpkins - displaying objects on different levels and depths adds a sense of movement to your displays, and keeps them from looking like a police lineup.

does anyone out there remember Christopher Lowell? he was always talking about 'lifts, levels, and elevations!' - he was right! stack things up, stand things up, lean them... use all of the 3-dimensional space you have, instead of just sitting things level with one another.

* then your eye travels to the right, where you see the standing wood Bible box and the small pumpkin in front of it - their similar color makes them a secondary focal point on this shelf.
 on the lower shelf, right side:

* you see a repeat of the top shelf's Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf pattern ceramic bowl, just in a larger size, and the orange ceramic pumpkin from the middle shelf, and the trio of Sweet Sweater Pumpkins from the top shelf - this repetition of form and pattern ties all of the displays together.

a vine wreath stands at the back, adding color and brightness to the dark background and height to the composition.

* fall leaves have been tucked into the wreath, the bowl, and under a pumpkin in front - these 'soften' the hard edges of the planter and bowl, and also offer a change from all of the 'round' shapes used here.

* the rusty copper metal planter is a color that appears in the ceramic pumpkin, so we are keeping things in the same tonal family. silver metal wouldn't work here. and gold might be too garish. [speaking of which, the lamp bothers me. the gold IS too garish, the green shade is too vivid, and the light is too bright. however, it's what was available for the space at the time. if we can find another small lamp, we'll replace the green one]

* did you notice that the wreath, copper planter, and bowl make a trio? this is another repetition of three, along with the 3 sweater pumpkins used. also: the three sweater pumpkins and ceramic bowl are NOT placed directly below the ones used on the top shelf. these are placed on the opposite side of the composition - repetition and balance, but not symmetry.

just one last thing to point out:

* the warm wood surface of the shelves and the green stained trim on this cabinet really worked well with the colors used in this season's display. like a frame on a painting, the furniture can set off a composition OR it can compete with it. try moving your furnishings around seasonally.... for instance, in summer and spring, a pale pine cabinet would work very well here to display lighter-toned accessories for those seasons.

OK, now go empty your shelves and start rearranging!!!


simple solutions: easy fall table decor

[photo credited to Chez Fifi http://fabulousfifi.typepad.com/chez_fifi/page/20/
Here's what she said about this and other photos: "I took the photos below at a wonderful press event held this past weekend at Moss Mountain Farm, outside Little Rock, Arkansas, the home of P. Allen Smith (www.pallensmith.com) the fabulous host of the PBS series: P. Allen Smith Gardens."]

if i could choose anywhere to host a fall dinner party or a thanksgiving dinner,
it would be in a setting like THIS one shown above! 
what a delightful way to create a memorable autumn event. 
this is a wall built with straw bales that fronts a party tent. brilliant.
can't you just picture this at dusk, with candles glowing and soft music playing?

oh, sorry... that's not a 'Simple Solution' at ALL, is it?! enough dream sequences...
let's get back to the real world of trying to fit decorating into our already busy schedules!

one thanksgiving arrived and i had been so busy at work that i forgot about the table decor.
that sounds completely AWFUL, doesn't it??? well, life happens sometimes... we've all been there.

after a mad dash through the house ensued,
with me grabbing anything and everything that looked remotely like it would work....
amazingly, it DID work!
 no one ever knew that i threw the decor together in minutes...
here's how it worked:
*used a fabric scarf - very large, almost sari-like -as the tablecloth.
it allowed the golden wood of the table to show, and created a garden lattice effect.
to continue that unexpected 'fall garden' theme, 
*filled some white ironstone bowls and platters with 'natural' elements i had on hand:
a faux acorn vine, creamy white resin and my sweet sweater pumpkins,
bleached leaves, and dried hydrangeas right from the yard.

*white pillar candles placed in tall glass vases added lots of sparkle
AND kept the flame away from little fingers

*place markers are Scrabble tiles arranged on each salad plate 
to spell out the name of the guest who would be sitting there.
the little plate above was for my sweet almost two year old grandson.
no, he didn't eat from it ;0)

after getting rave reviews on the decor, a little light bulb went on:
stop fussing over the table, Deb! keep it simple and make your day a whole lot easier...

the next year, here's what i did on the table for thanksgiving:
*folded a white linen tablecloth and used it as a runner.
*filled some glass italian yogurt jars with water and CHEAP white carnations
*scattered some bleached leaves and votive cups with tealights in them down the runner.
*set placesettings with my white dinnerware, linen napkins, glassware, and silver.

it only took me about FIFTEEN MINUTES to do this whole thing!
the flowers still smelled good, the candles still glowed and flickered warmly...
it still said 'fall' and 'thanksgiving' and 'family'...
it just WHISPERED it instead of shouting.

(and instead of last-minute fretting, fussing and foofing of the table,.
i was sitting in a chair with a glass of wine, visiting with my daughters and grandsons.
now THAT is something to be thankful for!)