Faux Fireplace + Vintage Mantle

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I’d say 2018 was one of the fastest years of my life.  It literally flew.  I attribute this to the whole home buying process.  The pre-approval process, the house search, countless hours on Zillow, and then of course the renovation.  It really was a great year.  It had some rough points.  But nothing God couldn’t heal.  It’s funny, because if we were to sit down and chat about the worst thing that happened to me in 2018, it would directly lead me to tell you about the BEST thing that happened to me in 2018.  Isn’t that just classic Jesus?  He has this beautiful way of taking a painful mess, and turning it into something beautiful.

2019. Is it really you? I know we haven’t known each other long, but I like you already. 🙂 So far, 2019 has been the year of organizing and goal planning.  Go watch Tidying Up on Netflix. Don’t question it, just do it.  You’ll want to have Marie Kondo as a friend.  She makes cleaning a joy-filled thing and I love that!

God has already provided in so many little ways this month.  It’s cool how He provides even for my insignificant, unnecessary wants.  Like two free mid century dressers from my Grandma-that are both special and my style.  Like, wow! God loves us in ways that are so personal.  He gets us.

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This vintage painting gives me all the Prince Edward Island vibes!

Okay, so now let’s talk about that faux fireplace that I mentioned in the title of this post.  We found this beautiful wood mantle at a vintage store.  It’s from the 1800s, ya’ll.  It was one of those pieces that I knew we would regret it if we passed it by. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

I’ve always dreamed of having a fireplace!  And this mantle made that a reality in a way. It really adds such a cozy ambiance.

I wish I had a lot to say about HOW we did it, but it was pretty simple to install.  (Other than the fact that it was so heavy!) We just used L shaped brackets to attach it to the wall in the studs, then hid the brackets with some bead board.  The bead board also adds a different texture than just drywall.  So it makes it look like its own structure.

And that was it! Now the fun part–I get to decorate a mantle each season! I think it’ll be a fun little space for me to change and refresh throughout the year.  Eventually, I want to get a larger vessel for the firewood, so that it fills the space better. But for now, I’m just using what I have! We also plan on getting some white cord covers to conceal the tv cords.

Got a dream for your space? Chances are it’s achievable with a little imagination and creativity.  Don’t be afraid to do something different. Your home isn’t about achieving Pinterest perfection.  It’s a dwelling you create to bring YOU and your family joy—and that looks a little different for everyone.

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Reading Lately

My! It’s been a minute since I’ve written to you all. Life has been very busy, but very blessed! After a hectic couple of months, Billy and I are homeowners! And that is ALL GOD! Can’t take an ounce of credit for that. He is in all the details. There will more to come on all that soon…

Amidst the crazy, I’ve been reading a lot lately. It’s become a favorite source of entertainment! So, I thought I’d share the past few books I’ve read. I’m thinking of making this a regular series on the blog, once I’ve read some more books. It’s fun to share one’s literary love, isn’t it?

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

With its witty banter, beautiful development of the characters, and sweet romance, you must read this classic. Not going to lie–pictured Kiera Knightly the whole time. I recommend you read it while listening to the movie soundtrack! It makes it a complete experience.

2. The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe

This book read like a movie, which is always so fun. I first saw the Hallmark movie and loved it, so Billy bought me the book for my birthday! It’s set in the Charleston area of South Carolina, which was fun, since I’ve been there. This novel focuses on complicated family relationships, with some romance thrown in! Highly recommend.

3. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

I read this book the week I waited for my next novel to arrive. It’s an easy read that could change your life! Dave Ramsey teaches you why you don’t need credit cards, how to budget, pay off debt, and live with financial peace! Spend, save, and GIVE! You NEED to read this book! And then message me so we can talk about how awesome it is.

4. Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

My Mom got me this cook book for my birthday, and let me tell you: it doesn’t disappoint! Anything Joanna Gaines touches is a delight, just saying. We’ve dabbled in a few recipes already. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is insanely good. What I like about this cookbook, is all the recipes are good olé classics. Recipes you can make over and over again. Like “Fluffiest Pancakes.” Um, YES.


Currently Reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

I’m just about halfway through this book, and love it so far! Very witty and humorous. Oh and the Netflix movie is a must watch. I’ll let you know more in the next “Reading Lately” blog post!

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How to Take + Edit iPhone Photos

I’d say there are two questions I get asked most frequently in this blogosphere: “What kind of dog do you have?” and “Are you a photographer? What camera do you use?”

First of all, she’s a red standard poodle. haha.

Secondly, I am not a professional photographer. I certainly do appreciate many of you thinking so! Lol. I do, however, enjoy photography immensely as an art form and hobby! I’m constantly growing and learning in this arena, and I’m thankful to have a very camera savvy husband.

Let me break this down: All the pictures of me are taken by my husband.  Most of these pictures are taken with a DSLR camera, although some are an iPhone. All the pictures you see of food, decor, flat-lays, etc. were taken by me with my iPhone. Crazy right? The iPhone is an incredible piece of technology.

My iPhone isn’t new.  In fact, it’s an iPhone 6 and still takes fantastic pictures.  (Although, some of the other features aren’t working so great…Sometimes it won’t let me take/make calls! lol.) Eventually I’ll update my phone, but for now I’m working with what I’ve got!

I thought I’d share my (amateur) tips for taking and editing, beautiful, print-worthy photographs.  I’m going to break it down into three categories: Lighting, Framing, and Editing.  Okay, let’s get this photography party started!

Lighting

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This is everything.  If you take a picture in a dimly lit room, expect your picture to look fuzzy and washed out.  Natural light is the key to crisp, perfectly lit, divinely beautiful photos.  However, try to avoid harsh sunlight.  When taking a photo indoors, open all your blinds/curtains and choose a time of day in which sunlight is pouring in.  When taking a flat-lay, take it next to a window or glass door to insure the very best capturing of details.  With natural light, you don’t need flash. Flash will blow out images and cast harsh shadows. Because of this, taking pictures during the day is when your iPhone will best capture the image.

So basically, take your photos during the day, next to a window or outside. Boom.

Framing

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When I frame pictures, I often like to off-center the focal point of my photograph.  This gives negative space.  Negative space is a lovely way to let your picture breathe.  It allows for an airy image that draws the eye to the focal point, without distractions.  Try to keep a simple background.  This will help the subject pop.

Lines are very important.  If there is a vertical or horizontal line in your picture ( like a building or a sidewalk), try to keep these lines from slanting in the image.  This can also be corrected in editing, but I try to take the picture as straight as possible.

Editing

Without editing, your iPhone pictures will look mediocre. The key to editing, is to try to make the picture look how it did in real life.  When you take a picture, it’ll look less vivid, less rich, than it did in real life.  That’s where editing comes in.  Editing also gives your photos an art-like quality.  This is the fun part.

I use an app called VSCO to edit all my iPhone pictures.  For our DSLR photos, we use Light Room.  But today, I’m talking about VSCO.

You need this app.  There is just something about VSCO filters that gives photos such an editorial look.  It creates beautiful depth and richness.

I typically brighten my pictures a tad, add some contrast, and a little grain.  (Grain is used to give your photos a film-like appearance and has a vintage vibe.  If that’s not your thing, skip this.) Editing all boils down to what you want your style to be! Do you like bright and crisp? Muted and moody? Cold or warm? That is for you to decide.

Once you decide on a filter and editing style, don’t change it! Use the same filter EVERY TIME you post a picture.  This allows your feed and photography to look consistent, fluid, and cohesive.  This is the key to an eye-catching gallery.

Here are some before and after editing examples! They greatly showcase the importance of editing!


I hope you all enjoyed this post! It was fun to share my growing knowledge.  What a delightful way to freeze time and encapsulate every day art.

P.s. Don’t forget to get those gorgeous pictures off of your phone, and onto paper! I always use Artifact Uprising to print my pictures.

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