Back-to-School Mantelscape

Don’t yell!  I know we are all in full Summer mode right now, but the school bell will be ringing before you know it and we just wanted to share this great idea–originally posted on September 13, 2016–for a back-to-school decorating project that will have you and your kiddos excited for the first day of school! Whether you homeschool or do public school, this is a fun and creative idea.  I might do it myself and my kids are grown–ahh, but I do have grandchildren…

I have never, ever thought much about a mantel-scape.  My house is not brimming with magazine-level decor or “scapes” of any kind, really.

But the thought of having a finite area to decorate kind of appealed to me when I began to mull it over.

And since the hubs and I built a new mantel last year, it really is due for an upgrade in the decor department.  I just threw the look pictured below together quickly to keep it from being naked.  I posted our DIY pic on Facebook and when a former Maven (hi, Kara!) mentioned in a comment that she couldn’t wait to see what I would do with it, I was a little stymied.


What would I do with it?

It was only recently that the idea began to form.  Wouldn’t it be fun to do something different each month?  Nothing extravagant, and mostly consisting of items already in the house.

Yes, that could work.

So, as much as I’d love to jump onto the Halloween theme now (I’ve already been playing with some items for it), I figured September is best pigeon-holed as “back to school” month.

And while we are a homeschooling family with no school bus stops by our driveway, we are “back” at it this month!  So, yeah….I’m lovin’ it.


What you see is mostly items scavenged from around our home.  In fact, why don’t I just list for you the breakdown?

 Found at Home
encyclopedias & books
ruler & pencils in cup
wooden puzzle
chalkboard blocks
clipboard with worksheet
flannel board
 Made for This Project
felt ABC & 123
page bunting
 Purchased for This Project
jute for bunting
artificial apples

Wow!  Just typing it out I’m thinking, “How cool is it that you can pull something together like this with stuff you already have?”  I LOVE IT! 

And really, the basic ideas to keep in mind are:

  • vary the heights of the objects (high and low)
  • balance the colors (sprinkle them throughout and focus on a few colors)
  • balance the “weight” (doesn’t necessarily have to be symmetrical, it should just feel balanced)
  • use pics of other mantelscapes that you like as a guide


I bought the jute for $4 and a bag of fake apples for  $9.99 (but there were 6 in there–and yes I bought it specifically for the mantel but that’s only because my old fake apples from a Thanksgiving arrangement finally bit the dust after too much hot/cold attic storage!).  Pretty cheap mantel!


Now, I have to confess that, never having cared about a themed mantelscape before now, I really didn’t know where to start!  Oh, Pinterest…you amazing idea generator, you!  Yes, Pinterest saved the day.  I pretty much used an image on there for my template and just ran with it from there.  And that’s how I roll, really.  I’m not super great at completely original ideas, but I AM super great at taking an existing idea and developing it.  


The main inspiration image I saw used dictionary pages for the page bunting.  I thought about cutting out pages from a book, but….well, book-lovers just don’t do that!  So, I went online and found images of old pages from dictionaries, school primers, maps, etc., and printed them out.  Then I used a flag bunting template (that I also snagged on Google images) to pencil in the cutting lines on the printed pages.  A quick hole punch through each top corner and they were ready for stringing onto the jute!



I was unsure if mantelscapes would be something I could get on board with.  But y’all, I am loving this idea and can’t wait for October, November, and December!!!

Happy ‘Scaping, Y’all!


Mower Musings #1



You will notice I am not sharing a recipe today–well, maybe not one for food, but maybe for how to enjoy a task you wouldn’t think is all that.

One of my favorite, sort of, things to do is to get on our zero-turn lawn mower and tackle the approximately 1 1/2 acres that is our “lawn.”  You might say that is crazy, but it is actually very cathartic, or Zen or whatever you want to call it.  

I enjoy the  routine of it and it doesn’t require a lot of thought to accomplish the task, other than making sure you don’t make any divots or skids if the ground is a little wet.

As I am riding around, making straight rows up and down or doing diagonal cuts because I alternate the pattern each week during the season (sometimes twice a week if the grass is on a growth spurt)–my mind is presenting a multitude of thoughts and ideas that I hope I will remember when I get back to the house, so that I can write down the ones I want to pursue.  

Sometimes it’s a little tricky trying to stay on one thought. Between the roar of the engine and the sound of the mowing deck, it can get pretty loud and distracting.  And don’t even let me get a tune in my head from earlier because the constant “beat” of the mower just plays that song in a loop in my head and that’s all she wrote.  I am singing it all throughout the cutting.  

Sometimes I have big headphones on that can drown out the clatter, and mine have a radio inside but it only picks up one station and the volume isn’t loud enough–can’t hear the base and that is so annoying.  So I might just not even turn that thing on.  Recently, I wore my workout pouch (I can wear this around my waist and it holds very thin stuff), put my phone in it and used my Bluetooth earbuds to listen to music.  Still couldn’t hear the base, but it was a little better!

Anyway, I share all of this with you to let you know that you can find joy and purpose in the most mundane tasks.

And talk about instant gratification!  When I am done mowing, the results are spectacular and I know that no one is going to mess it up in the next 5 minutes.  You know what I’m talking about. How long do you get to enjoy your clean any-room-in-the-house?

I hope I can write to you about some of the musings I have come up with on my zero-turn mower.  I am working on one about “divots” as life lessons that might be kind of interesting.

Well, we have had what seems like weeks of rain here lately.  I got part of the mowing in yesterday but was afraid I would run out of gas.  I have a new supply this morning, so I am headed outside now to mow to my heart’s content.  Wonder what will come to mind today?