"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told." -Mark Twain


Pheasants and Fall

 Yes, I am totally aware that every single human in all of Blog-o-sphere put up pictures today of their fall mantels. Suffer through one more....(or not)! 
 This is my third fall mantel at this house. None of them were even remotely alike. Who's to say how long this one will last? Fall is a long season in Oklahoma. It just begins to cool down when others are already thinking about winter mantels. 
 But for the time being it stays. I like it because it is simple, filled with nature and although it has a lot of neutral, it also has subtle color as well. 

 I also love it because my Grandmother needlepointed the pheasant picture for me 30+ years ago. 
 At one time, in a different house, this picture and its companion were in our den. Then we (well me actually!) changed the "hunting" theme from our den and these pictures went into the closet. When we moved into this house a couple of years ago, I was reminded of how pretty the needlepoint actually is. 
 I used the two needlepoint pictures in various places in the house last fall and decided to pull them out again. This time, the lone pheasant got top billing and I placed him front and center on the fireplace. 
 I simply leaned it against the big gold frame I keep on the fireplace. Then I took my Pottery Barn wooden box and placed it right in front of the picture. 
 I filled the PB wooden tray/box with pumpkins and pinecones, feathers and fuzzy spheres. Then I took the twig ball that one of my dogs so kindly unwrapped for me and spread it out over the entire arrangement. I almost had to thank the pup, the "unwrapped" twig ball worked out so well!

 I used two rusted iron urns I got at Nell Hills on each end of the fireplace to hold pumpkins. If you will notice I turned them different directions. Yes, I did that on purpose. I wanted the ends to be similar but not symmetrical. *Did you see my arm photo-bombing the pic??
 Of course, I had to include books somewhere in the mantelscape. That is just a requirement. 
 I think a big vase full of pheasant feathers (say that three times!!) would be lovely with the picture. But for now, my three or four feathers will have to suffice. If you look at this picture from this view, you realize how many individual stitches that picture actually is. 
 So my favorite part of this years Fall Mantel?
 Not just the fact that I repurposed every single thing on the mantel....(like the "unwrapped" twig ball), but even the 30-some year old needlepoint picture my Grandmother made for us because she knew my husband loved to hunt birds. 
 I know she would be pleased that we still have the pictures she did. While we don't have it out all the time, when we pull it out, it gets top billing!
 After all, what sounds better than "Pheasants in the Fall"? 
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I've been back in school for a month. 
Actually to be technical...over a month.
We start unbelievably early. (ugh)

But before school started I had my
second annual
Back-To-School Virtual luncheon
for my Kansas teacher friends. 

 And I'm just getting around to showing you. 
 Maybe I thought I had better get the pics off the computer and share the virtual party, because I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Kansas. It was oh-so-great to see many of my friends. 
Last year I did such a fun tablescape and it was hard not to replicate it. So I decided to make this one more black and white (literally). I started with my stash of plastic letters. They have small tacks on the back of them. I got them at a church sale. I have two boxes with various letters. There is not a complete set in either, but it worked. (Kinda. ..I had to use upper and lower case kind of funkily..) But that is okay. I figured it was a nod to quirky penmanship that teachers deal with each day!!  Anyway, I painted a batch of the letters white with spray paint. 

I had a big piece of scrap (very thin) plywood we had torn out of our kitchen. I kept it and pulled it out. I just used my circular saw to cut them down to rectangles (which I had drawn out in pencil). It took a total of about 10 minutes to come up with six placemat/chargers. I then used chalkBOARD paint (as opposed to just chalk paint). I had a can of spray-paint chalkboard paint and I spray-painted the six thin boards. I let them dry then put a little 3-line penmanship chalk line in the corner and tacked each name on the lines....Just as if it had been written on the lines. I seasoned the chalkboards as well. 

 I think those are the cutest placemats/chargers! I can think of all kinds of things I can do with them. I already have BIG plans for them for another tablescape/buffet that I will be doing soon. 
 Here is the table after it is loaded up. Can you guess the theme this year???
 LETTER PERFECT. That is my homage to my teacher friends and all teachers everywhere. 
 I used utilitarian-everyday-silverware for the table. After all, teachers are about as utilitarian as they come. They learn early on to make do with the basics...and make the basics beautiful! 
 Of course I had to include a mini-composition notebook at each plate. ..As well as a piece of chalk. Teachers have to have a piece of chalk. ....Then all is right with the world!! I also used different white dinner plates in each place-setting, to represent the variety of children we teach. 
 I gathered up all kinds of "letter" things from around the house. I tried to stay as close to the black and white theme as possible. There is a little color, but not much. The bottom layer is one of those HUGE spiral note-pads teachers use on an easel at the lower grade levels. It made a nice "runner" for my table. (I'm telling you, teachers are always thinking outside the box!!)
 I included by big lantern that I keep lots of black and white letter balls in. I also included various black letters, like those I used in the names. I put both black and white ones on the table. 
 Here is a close-up of my giant spiral "runner". It worked out perfectly and has found its way into my dish closet to be used again! 
 I included many of my vintage flashcards and my vintage metal letters as well. In one of the pictures you can see my giant metal basket full of metal letters under one of the side tables in the dining room. I love using those letters in all sorts of fun ways. 
 And because it is my tablescape and throw-backs to things I love, I had to include two of my favorite books. One is a big Mark Twain Anthology and one is the (best-book-ever) oh-so-wonderful To Kill A Mockingbird. 
I promise you my virtual guests would be happy with my literary selections as well.  
 I did use the same napkins I used last year. I couldn't help it. They were a perfect match!!!!!!!!!!!  They were made from an Ikea comforter cover last year. 
 ABC's of education....

 I just stuck those big "lettered" napkins in between the salad and dinner plates. That way it broke up the all white a bit. 

 The limited use of color is just right for the table. The color pops in a few places. 

 I miss teaching with all my great Kansas friends. This virtual back-to-school lunch is my way of letting them know I will never forget the years we spent together teaching. 
 Now the challenge will be to come up with another "original" back-to-school-tablescape for next year! 
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If you have not clicked over to last years virtual back-to-school-dinner, you can find it here. 


All Cooped Up!!

 At a cute little barn sale two or three years ago, I impulsively bought a wire chicken coop. 

 In my minds eye I just knew it would look cute above my washer and dryer. We have a big laundry room without a single cabinet....Eight windows (!!!!!), but no cabinets. 
 The coop, while sitting outside at the sale, looked just normal size to me. I did not even question the idea that it might not fit over the washer and dryer. I knew that was a big wall space. I am such a bad judge of character when I see things in wide open spaces apparently! This coop is 59 inches long. Just one inch short of five feet long! Oh my word...it filled up a lot more space than I anticipated!
 On a positive note though, it holds everything! We have quite a selection of laundry detergents and fabric softeners in several of the nesting spaces. Three of the spaces are filled with boxes or baskets that hold extra light bulbs, extension cords and votive candles. One space holds our Christmas jars (where we keep our change all through the year till we gift it anonymously at Christmas time to a family that needs it.) (Those jars fill up quickly if you put your spare change in there each day. You should try it!!) 

 The hole where I presume the eggs would be retrieved (or dropped???) is the perfect size for the end of the laundry and fabric softener dispensers. We just hold the little plastic cup right under the coop. 
 The coop was originally all galvanized. When I bought it, I would say it was mostly rusted, except for the cute little places for tags. I spray painted the cage part a light aqua. I know a lot of people would have preferred the rust, but I liked the aqua. 
I did leave the galvanized plates alone. I like those as is. Yes, I really should come up with some clever tags and put there, but I never have. I wonder what was there in the chicken days. Feeding schedules? Production output? Type of chicken? Name of chicken? (I doubt that one!) 

 This is how it looks from the side. It is made that way, all slanty. Again, I presume so that when the eggs were laid they rolled down that hole into a waiting something or other???? I have no idea. At first I hated that it was all slanty and I wanted my Hubs to "fix it" so that it sat straight. He appeased me and said he would "later". Well it is two or three years later and it is still slanty and I don't even notice it anymore. I do need to put a little shelf across the top of the washer and dryer, but that is something I can do myself. Someday. 
 Then after all that, there is still a basket that sits on top of my dryer. I guess I need to clean out the candles or cords or light bulbs and put this up there. 
 We have the Christmas jar for change and the little basket for golf tee it looks like! 
I did learn a lesson from buying the giant 7-hole chicken coop....Now I keep a little notebook and a mini tape measure in my purse with house measurements. At a glance I can look to see if something fits, so that I won't be bringing home anymore 5 foot long chicken coops! 
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