Finding rusty old junk is fun! Nevertheless, I have found that no matter how much "stuff" I find and collect, only God can fully satisfy my heart. Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fabulous Fall

Welcome to my first blog post! For years my family and friends have suggested I write a book about my flea market/ garage sale finds and unique decorating style, so why not blog instead? I decided there would be no better time for me to get started than during my favorite season.

Decorating has always been a passion of mine and fall provides the perfect opportunity to take my second-hand treasures and use them in new and creative ways to invoke a magical mood within my home and landscape. I incorporate many of my cherished antiques and vintage found objects into my seasonal displays each year. I hope you find inspiration for your own home and that you will also share some of your ideas as well. In this blog I have included special memories, cherished photos, and ideas for decorating on a budget. Check back often as I will continue to update the blog.

Never too old to dress up for Trick-or-Treat
The last few days of August had just enough of a chill to justify a trip to the local hardware store to purchase the first round of mums and colorful kale in celebration of the arrival of my most beloved season. Who couldn't love fall, with all of its magic and colorful splendor? And don't forget the hay rides, corn mazes, ghost stories, hot mulled cider, caramel apples, vibrant landscapes and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins! Since I was a child I have been "experiencing" the wonder of fall. My mother used to take me for walks at dusk on leaf covered paths, teaching me to crunch the leaves and breathe in that wonderful smell of autumn. My love of pumpkins comes from her as well. I can remember every year as a child we would find that perfect big fat pumpkin to keep the spooks away on trick-or-treat. She would let me draw a classic Jack face in black magic marker, and when we carved him she would encourage me to dig in the gook and sort out all the seeds, which we would coat in honey or melted butter and salt to be roasted later on in the evening.
 Surely Halloween holds some of my dearest memories of childhood: My daddy taught me to look for the magic in nature, which I could always find in autumn. My best friend and I had the love of fall in common, and every year we looked forward to packing up our summer clothes in exchange for jeans, boots and flannel shirts. My grandparents used to take me on long Sunday drives just to take in the glory of the changing leaves in the Appalachian mountains. And I could never fail to mention that it was the shared love of fall and pumpkins that brought my husband and I together. We had been casually dating for a few weeks, but when he left a carved "I love You" jack-o-lantern on my porch as a surprise, I knew he was a keeper!

The marvelous red Maple in our yard provides a stunning backdrop
for seasonal displays
This little birdhouse was one of the first Halloween decorations my husband and I purchased as a couple

Autumn Kale planted in an ivy path with

Of all the activities within the season, I still find that I enjoy fall decorating most of all. Through decorating I am able to bring the magic and mystery of harvest and Halloween to life for my family and friends. I spend the entire year searching second-hand stores, yard sales, flea markets and antique shops looking for unique items that can be used in new ways in my designs, and I spend as much time decorating outside as I do on my interior displays. Gardening and landscaping become even more enjoyable as the temperatures cool down and the gorgeous hues of the foliage, flowers, and fruits of harvest provide new possibilities for the landscape which can last into late November. Inside and out, I make sure to change things up each year to keep guests wondering what tricks and treats will await them as the pumpkins ripen in the patch and the old harvest moon casts eerie shadows through bare branches on All Hallow's Eve.

A "Toadstool" pumpkin in a .25 yard sale pot

Red maple leaves fall among ferns, azaleas, mossy stones,
and liriope in my garden path
An estate sale urn ($5) is filled with kale, variegated ivy, sweet potato and vinca vines, purple pansies and mini-Lumina (ghost) pumpkins

One of my favorite displays of 2010---A quintet of Lumina (ghost) pumpkins compliments the cool colors of purple pansies and autumn kale. I rescued the shabby chic chair from the back of some guy's truck before his dump run. I draped it with creepy gray cloth for the season.
Witch Way to the Pumpkin Patch?

I love stacking pumpkins and gourds as topiaries. Here I nestled a Jarrahadale Pumpkin (Australian variety) between a small and large Rouge Vif d' Estampess, (The Cinderella Pumpkin) 

 The interesting textures of pumpkins and gourds are sometimes overshadowed by their vibrant hues. In black and white the textures are beautifully highlighted
A collection of "Red Warty Thing" pumpkins (actual name) at
a family owned greenhouse in Kentucky
I have grown to love the green/gray gourds and varieties of
Blue Hubbard Squash which are nicely juxtaposed against traditional oranges

Um, did I mention that I am a little obsessed with pumpkins and gourds????

We picked this 200 pounder from a friend's pumpkin patch. It was a neighborhood
favorite in 2010
 Mums grace our doorstep as they spill out of a French flower box ($7 consignment sale).
A large owl statue ($3 yard sale) guards the entry way. The owl was originally a tacky blue-teal shade but I gave him a sinister, yet classic look with black paint and a bronze aging paint technique

I found this scarecrow at a consignment shop for  $5. I gave him a facelift
with acrylic paint and dressed him with second-hand clothes purchased for $3. I sewed on the
homespun patches for a primitive look. The wagon was found at a yard sale for $ 4.

The eerie interiors of the 
freaky Ferguson home...

My Halloween mantel 2010: dollar store ravens are perched in branches ( I spray painted black) ; a French art noveau "black cat"  reproduction painting (consignment shop $10), vintage clocks from estate sales, homemade  potions, rotten treats and sinful sweets in old spice jars and bottles; mini-cast iron cauldrons filled with dollar store skulls; printed images of Poe and a child Frankenstein in antique frames ( I "antiqued" the photos by soaking in tea and then slightly burning the edges with a lighter when dry); a handmade vintage style tinsel and Halloween postcard garland purchased at my favorite Primitives store for 75% off the weekend before Halloween

Double Double Toil and Trouble....

Look closely for the black kitty sleeping by the fire. He used to be a gray garden ornament but I painted him black to use as a Halloween prop. I bought him at
a large outdoor flea market for .25

A skull and spider brew is simmering atop a set of $3 electric logs found at a rummage sale. Create an effect of "dark
magick" using purple lights beneath faux spider webs. The cauldron, skull,  and webs were puchased for $1 each at the dollar store.
Pick your poison from my homemade collection of potions and magical ingredients (ordinary household and kitchen items in vintage bottles with hand made and computer generated potion labels). A 1960's blow mold witch lamp and candy corn strand lights create a perfectly wicked  ambience

This lovely lady was hiding in the back room of a consignment shop ($10).
I made her a construction paper mask and put her on display for Trick-or Treat

Here is one of my primitive Halloween vignettes. I used an $8 yard sale spooky tree (still
had the $60 high-end department store price tag attached) decorated with grungy/prim vintage
postcard hangtags ($2 ebay), dollar store skeletons, and blown glass candy corn ornaments ($1 yard sale).  Mr. Cat
is right at home on the ledge. I enjoy him so much each year that I allow him to hang around until Thanksgiving

Skeleton Jack is one of my original designs.  I came up with my own pattern and then hand sewed,
stuffed and painted this guy in the
fall of 2008. He was inspired by Halloween decorations from the early 1900's-1920's. I painted him with
acrylic paint and grungied-stained him up with a mixture of coffee and cinnamon.

No Halloween is complete without a plate of imperfectly perfect
sugar cookies decorated by sweet little hands

Estate sales always seem to have something you can creatively use in Halloween decorating. I mean no disrepect, but let's be honest--- the people are more often than not, very old, and very dead. So you can usually find some pretty unusual and creepy vintage things.

I had gone to an estate sale last year and was drawn to some antique pictures, but I kept picking them up and carrying them around for a while, and then I would go and put them down. I thought they were charming but something about decorating my mantel with dead people that I didn't know was messing with me. So I called my friend Amanda Clark and told her to come and check them out. I knew she wouldn't be bothered one bit to use them in her decorating and I hated for such beautiful photos to go to waste.
Blondes have more fun? Nay, black-haired witches have more fun!
Altered image courtesy of graphicsfairy

Amanda (at right) and I

She absolutely loved the pictures, I was glad that she decided to buy them and use them in her house, that way when I visited her I could still enjoy them without the fear of conjuring up spirits in my own home! She was looking for something a little different from her traditional decorations, and she ended up having a stunning mantel display. She placed her collection of homemade potions and ingredients beside the fireplace on an antique writing desk and the whole room seemed to be "alive" with the spirits of Halloween.
Cobwebs quite naturally cling to an antique mirror  (a family
heirloom).  Photographs of souls long departed and large Victorian mansions look
positively haunting, yet beautiful. A vintage black McCoy flower vase holds
a Victorian-inspired arrangement of purple roses and black feathers.
Pillar candles rest on
top of Gothic-style candle stands while a reproduction antique clock counts down
to the bewitching hour. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Holbrook Clark)

Amanda purchased this clock new from a home decorating store, but shortly after placing it on her mantel it stopped working... CREEPY! (photo courtesy of A.H.C.)

Yep, I'm pretty sure this home is haunted by now
(photo courtesy of A.H.C.)
 Amanda used crinkled up wax paper stained
in coffee and tied with jute as lids for lidless jars and bottles
(photo courtesy A.H.C.)

More homemade ingredients (photo courtesy of A.H.C.)
What will she brew up
for 2011?

Amanda is already getting her seasonal decorations out and I can't wait to see all of her pretty-creepies again this year! 


  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your fall decorating Amber!

  2. And welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. Happy to be your first follower!

  3. Thanks so much Joanne. I am enthralled by your blog!

  4. I am your new follower # 2. So glad we have found each others blog. Yours is very nice, the pics are so colorful. I wish you all the very best, I will be visiting often.

  5. I just saw your post on Coastal Charm. What a great blog you have created! Love your fall and halloween decor. I am your newest follower and I hope you will follow me too! God bless!


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