My Wish for Each of You in 2014

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Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and this is one of my favorite quotes from him.

I felt that it was particularly appropriate to share this with you today.

It's my wish for each of you...and for all of us.

I hope that you have a glorious and happy and creative 2014 that's filled with love...and inspiration...and at least a couple of wonderful surprises!

Happy New Year!

My 2014 Word of the Year: Inspire!

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Over the last several weeks, I've been thinking about my 2014 word of the year. A word that creates a little spark, one that makes me smile...a word that sums up what I'm going to attempt to accomplish this year.

A few days ago, the new PB catalog arrived and I saw the pillow above.

It spoke to me.

It reads:

Inspire: To fill with the desire, confidence or enthusiasm to do something well.

To this, I would add or to TRY SOMETHING NEW! if it doesn't work out, try again.

After all, as a dear friend once told me as I was lamenting being a "beginner":

"Everyone is a beginner at some point. Look at it this way; an amateur built the ark 
                                                                                             and a team of professionals built the titanic." 

It's my hope and my goal for 2014 to inspire you each and every day... have the desire or confidence decorate your home and garden, try something new, or to create something beautiful from reclaimed, re-purposed or found items; 

...and to know that each of YOU inspire ME in some way, every single day!  

Happy New Year!

2013: My Year in Review

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Last year, on New Year's Eve, I announced that my  2013 word of the year would be the word"Do". 

Inspired by the chalkboard wall art that I built and lettered for what was, at the time, my studio, and my favorite Star Wars quote (have I told you lately that I'm kind of a geek?)

Here's what I wrote: "In 2013, I'm going to do more and worry least that's my intent...
A year from now, we'll all see how successful I am."

Well, it has been a year (can you believe it?) Let's see how I did:

Merry Christmas and Thank you. My Favorite Poem.

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My favorite Christmas poem by Helen Steiner Rice. Merry Christmas to each of you and thank you, for touching my life and for joining me here at Serendipity Refined! Have a glorious day!

I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book,
And every now and then, I go and take a look;
And that is when I realize that these names are all a part ...
Not of the book they're written in, but of my very heart.
For each name stands for someone who has crossed my path sometime,
And in that meeting they've become the rhythm in each rhyme;
And while it sounds fantastic for me to make this claim,
I really feel that I'm composed of each remembered name.
Though you may not be aware of any special link,
Just meeting you has changed my life, a lot more than you think;
For once I've met somebody, the years cannot erase
The memory of those pleasant words nor of a friendly face.
So please don't think my greeting as just a mere routine,Your name was not forgotten somewhere in-between;For when I send a greeting, that is addressed to you,It's because you are on that list of folks I'm indebted to.
For I am the total of the many folks that I have met,
And you happen to be one of those I prefer not to forget.
So whether I have known you for many years or few,
In some way you have been a part in shaping things I do.
And every year at this time, I realize anew ...
The best gift life can offer is meeting folks like you.
So may the Spirit of this Season, that ever endures,
Leave the richest blessings in the hearts of YOU and YOURS.


French Country Inspired Christmas Dining Room

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I kept Christmas decorating in my dining room simple this year.  Just a couple of  wreaths, a length of garland, and red ribbon.  It's certainly much more simple than our snowy, winter wonderland dining room decorating from last year ( see more here).

Embroidered Monogram Gift Tags

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Today, I'm sharing some easy Embroidered Monogram Gift Tags. Of course, I'm wrapping. After all, it's one week until Christmas! Can you believe it?! ONE WEEK! How in the world did this happen?!  Honestly, I feel like I barely emerged from my Thanksgiving food coma and suddenly, it's the third week of December!  I'll admit that I've been busy but I seem to have lost an entire Month!

I've finally finished with my shopping (well, most of it) and I'm now in full-on "paper and tape" mode. Of course, I haven't managed to unearth whatever box it is that contains the gift wrapping supplies (are you sensing a theme here!?) but I found the box with my scissors, and embroidery supplies last week so I knew that was half way to tags! I'll admit, in the days after Thanksgiving, simply writing the names on the packages with black Sharpie marker was a possibility. I think that the butterscotch pie made me lose my mind for a second.

These are quick and easy. They can be done while watching television or even in the car on the way to the mall (as long as you go before dark...and aren't the one who's driving!)

The materials are simple: card stock cut into a tag shape and hole punched or pre-cut blank tags, a sharp embroidery needle embroidery floss and a pencil. Sketch the letter onto the tag in pencil then use the needle to pierce the points where the stitching will end. Then stitch the letter. I made two stitch lines for the main parts of the letter and one stitch line for the serifs at the ends.

I'm not tidy when I embroider so to make the back look nice, I glued a second tag to the wrong side of the embroidered one.

Then, because we have duplicate names and initials in my extended family, I stamped names beneath each monogrammed letter. This is optional, of course. I also decided to forgo the "From" on these tags because I'm fairly certain that the recipients are going to know who these gifts came from.

After my embroidered monogram gift tags were complete and since I had my stash of floss all over the kitchen table anyway handy, I also made a few general purpose embroidered holiday gift tags for those gifts that I'm sure that I'll forget about until the last minute.

Please tell me that I'm not the only one who does this....and that I'm not the only one with empty boxes from Christmas decorations still stacked in the hall and the kitchen waiting to be taken to the basement?! Heck, at this point, I'm considering just leaving them...after all, it's only a week and then I'll be refilling them!

In the mean time, I'm going to try to get my wrapping finished that I have cute gift tags to put on them!

Simple, Rustic Advent Wreath

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My advent wreath for this year is different. As my mom would say, it's creative. The foundation of my advent wreath for 2013 is a vintage dough trough and it's sitting in the middle of my dining room table. This year, it's not a wreath at all. It's a wooden oval of sorts, that serves as a simple reminder of

                                                                                                                       the reason for the season.

Rustic Vintage Ski Lodge Christmas Mantel

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This Christmas, my theme is re-purposing.  I suppose that my actual theme is "Let It Snow" (the vintage ski lodge version).  But there's also an underlying theme going on in my life and my holiday decorating this year and it's all about re-purposing.

Before I talk about that, however, I wanted to show you this Before and During photo of the living room. I realize that most people would call this a "Before and After" photo but given that the main portion of the renovation at the French farmhouse hasn't even begun, I'm calling the photo on the right the "during" phase.
I thought that I'd show you how the living room looked in August.

Sometimes I forget that we're still in Phase 1 of this project. I forget how very different things look today than they did just over three months ago when we moved to the farmhouse.  I forget that the cedar paneling above the fireplace was painted green....and pink....and ivory. Or that it took three days to strip.

      I'm probably suppressing those memories.
                                         I think that I read somewhere that people tend to do that with traumatic events.

I also forget that there really wasn't really a mantel above the fireplace. It was just a narrow little ledge above a brass fireplace screen that fell completely onto the floor (and my foot)  when I tried to open the doors.
                                                                                                          I'm suppressing that memory, too.

Today, there's a mantel.  I suppose that technically, it's a reclaimed shelf with a piece of 1 x 10 on top that's acting as a mantel...for now.  The shelf will have another life next Christmas. It will be re-purposed again as a shelf in my new master bathroom.

Oh, and the room where this fireplace is located...the one that's currently our living room? It is going to (hopefully) be re-purposed into our new dining room by next year at this time. Confusing, isn't it?!

The reclaimed wood snowflakes and vintage ski's? Well, they'll probably find a home in my new studio.... which is being re-purposed from the space that is currently the garage.
                                                                                                                  Are you following along so far?

Re-purposing found objects is one of my favorite things to do.  All it takes is a little imagination. In fact, almost everything that I used to create this year's mantel has had a prior life and a different purpose.  The garland was from my 2012 white woodland winter mantel (here). The bows were from my 2012 Christmas tree. Do you remember that tree? It was the 12 foot tall one...with the plaid cardboard star tree top.  I have to admit, I won't miss climbing a step ladder to put the top on our tree this year.

The colored plastic ornaments were re-purposed from the Grinch Christmas themed outdoor decorations that I made five or six years ago. Yes, I know, it's sad that I found an entire huge bin full of plastic ornaments that I had completely forgotten about in the back of the closet when we moved. I swear I'm not a hoarder....I'm a saver.                                        Don't judge me.

At least I didn't find an entire set of chairs in the back of a closet that I'd forgotten about. Although...there was a 3 drawer dresser...
We're not talking about dressers today. Today we're going to discuss the fact that the only truly "brand new" part of this mantel was the letters "S, N, and W." They are cardboard, purchased at JoAnn fabric and painted to look like wood using craft paint and paraffin wax.

Other than those three letters, everything else is either re-purposed, hand made, or re-used.  I made the 2 x 4 stocking holders (HERE) out of wood from the scrap bin at Home Depot and the stockings are made from flannel shirting using my free stocking pattern  HERE.

The tiny tree with vintage ornaments previously belonged to my Uncle.  The tree skirt is a re-purposed vintage kitchen towel.

Of course, the toy truck had another life some time in the 1960's. I suspect that the prior owner loved it almost as much as I do but it was probably loved outdoors rather than in the middle of the family's Christmas Mantel.

Things were a little different back in the 1960's.  Ahem...not that I'd know anything about that.  *wink*

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy December to spend a few minutes with me and to look at my crazy, vintage, rustic, ski lodge mantel.  I hope that it'll inspire you to find a way to reuse or re-purpose a few things around your home.

Did I mention that I'm re-purposing my bedroom into a new kitchen?  No? We'll talk about that soon.

In the mean time, Let it snow!

Wait...Let it snow right after I finish my Christmas shopping!
Sharing at:
Coastal Charm
French Country Cottage
From My Front Porch to Yours
Jennifer Rizzo Holiday Home Tour
Satori Design For Living

Christmas Front Porch and Urn Planter and The First Snowfall at the French Farmhouse

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This year, for the first time in over ten years, I decorated my front porch entry with live greens.  I hung live balsam wreath on the door, added some mixed green garland around the entry and then filled the urn planter outside of my front door with an assortment of natural materials (both real and artificial).

How to Make Easy Wooden Christmas Stocking Holders

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Serendipity Refined Easy Wooden Christmas Stocking Holder Tutorial

Today, I'm delighted to be a part of a group of 30 incredible bloggers who are sharing ideas for creating a hand made holiday in your home.  Yesterday I finally decided to finish decorating our mantel for the holidays.
Yes, I realize that Christmas is only two and a half weeks away...but my sons don't get home from college for another week so if you don't say anything, I won't.

Holiday Home Tour Day 1: French Farmhouse Kitchen

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Welcome to my French farmhouse kitchen finally dressed for the holidays! I've kept my holiday decorating simple this year.

Christmas Chalkboard Wall Art

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You're looking at a photo of  the re-purposed cabinet door panel that I turned into Christmas chalkboard wall art and wondering what this seemingly innocent piece of wood has to do with self-realization, aren't you?

Christmas Mason Jar Hot Cocoa Gift and Printable

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Are you looking for an easy, inexpensive gift for teachers, neighbors or college students?  How about a fun treat to exchange with your girlfriends or people at work? Do you have mason jars in your cabinet (or a box in the basement?)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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As I pause to give thanks today, I wanted each of you to know how very grateful I am that you choose to spend some of your time with me. It's a gift that I treasure each and every day.

To my family and friends, those I've known and those I've yet to meet, thank you, for making my life richer by the gift of your presence. I'm blessed beyond measure.

I wish all of you a day filled with the love and company family and friends; good health, good fortune and many blessings.


How to Make A Christmas Stocking (Free Pattern)

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I've always loved Christmas stockings. Especially when they're home made...and easy!  Don't let these photos fool you.  These stockings are super simple to make and the pattern is really easy to adapt.

Holiday Gift Tag Ideas and Workshop Photos

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Last Sunday, during what may very well go down in history as one of the worst November storms on record in Illinois, I taught my first workshop.  Believe it or not, people still came!

When I arrived at Vintage Charm to set up, it was a blustery, overcast day but the temperatures were in the mid 60's.

Holiday Gift Tags and Bows: Serendipity Refined at Vintage Charm November 17th!

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I'm not sure if I've told you,  but I don't really like public speaking.

I'm that girl at the party who is far more comfortable behind the scenes making things beautiful and ensuring that everyone has enough to eat and drink.
                                                                                     So....I have a favor to ask of you...

DIY Holiday Peppermint Wreath: Dollar Tree Craft

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Nothing quite says, Merry Christmas like a grease spatter screen... truly. When I thought about holiday decorating as I found myself wandering through the Dollar Tree on Monday night, I knew almost immediately that I was going to need a grease spatter screen.

How to Bleach Pinecones

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Have I mentioned that I've developed a wonderful relationship with household bleach since I moved into the farmhouse this summer?

                                                  I have....bleach and I are now best friends.

Pottery Barn Inspired Christmas Countdown Calender Pillow

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Yes, It's November 7th and I'm sharing a Christmas project. Hey, it's not just me!...Pottery Barn's Christmas catalog has been out for a couple of weeks and when I came across their adorable Advent Calender Lumbar Pillow (known in my house as a Christmas Countdown Calender), I knew immediately that I needed one.

Patio and Garden Finds from a French Estate Sale

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Recently, I was allowed to pre-sale shop at an amazing estate sale right here in Illinois. The lady who had owned the house had created the type of home and gardens that I aspire to one day.   From the moment that I walked down the crushed stone drive and through the brick walled gates, I would have sworn that I'd finally made it to France.

There were so many beautiful things that I had a hard time walking away from many of them but these things came home with me for my new yard and gardens before I ever made it to the door of the house or  the coach house!

I fell in love with this 34 inch tall lead pond spitter (above). His base is bent and he'll need some work but he should be able to be repaired by the time that I have a home for him.

This great iron lavabo will surely find a spot in the court yard as will this patio table and chairs.

This tea cart will probably end up on the patio in the rear yard.

and so will this formerly lonely was the only one of it's me, I looked.  I couldn't walk away and leave it all alone after purchasing the rest of the items that were on the patio with it...could I?! Of course NOT!

Even though we'll spend all of next summer under construction, I'm excited to have finally found a few things to add to my yard when I can finally landscape!. Now that the Phase 2 plans are nearing completion, I can begin  collecting the French Farmhouse in earnest but I'm not in any hurry since for me,  the hunt is the best part of the project!  

I've also begun looking into a long overdue trip to France in Summer, 2014! If you have places that you'd suggest that I shop or the name of a host who accommodates private/semi private shopping tours, please message me.

I'll share my finds from inside the estate and coach house soon!