Our Easter Mantel

//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.jsI thought I’d share a few photos of our Easter mantel this year. If you’ve read my past posts then you know that I like to decorate by “shopping” my house for items I can use. I always gravitate towards shopping for items of specific color. This time I was on the hunt for blue.

To see the photo larger, just click on it!

I can’t for the life of me remember where I bought the banner, but I am certain that it was one year after Easter and on discount. Then it sat in a Rubbermaid bin for a couple of years before Samantha and I put it together last year. We stamped “Hoppy Easter” on it.

The blue books on the mantel were easy to collect throughout the house. And well, Ball mason jars are pretty common around here. Let’s just say that I’ve hoarded passionately collected them. I regret every one of them that I’ve sold!

You might recognize the little bunnies from this post HERE. They’re from World Market.

I keep meaning to spray paint that candle holder. Warmer temps are here, so now may be the time!

I am pretty sure the bunnies (one piece) came from Hobby Lobby. The wall color is Danville Tan by Benjamin Moore. It’s been our wall color since we moved in ten years ago, and I still love it as much as I did the first day. It looks different at night than in the day. It’s very calming in person. (P.S. This color looks great in person. It looks totally wonky on my cellphone screen, so keep an open mind!)

Do you remember the barn wood that Ken and I got off of a an old barn/army building HERE? And also used to make THIS?

We used some our favorite pieces to make some free wall art for our mantel. The color is all natural and original. All we did was cut it and attach it together.

The “S” is for our last name. ūüėČ The window was picked up on one of our Craig’s List adventures.

I had fun pulling everything together. Everything other than the fresh tulips and the tiny bunnies on top of the books are things we already had. My favorite kind of decorating…FREE!

If you want to save any of these pictures, just click on the Pin It button and you can save it to Pinterest.


How to Prepare Your Garden Soil for Planting

Yay, Spring! If you missed my last post on my plans for my garden beds this summer, check it out HERE. Before I plant anything, I want to make sure that the soil is healthy for my plants. This will help them to produce the maximum amount of food and keep them disease resistant. Here are a few steps I take before summer planting:

#1 Turn over the soil. 
One reason I like raised beds so much is that if you don’t need heavy machinery to till the soil before planting. When I prepare the garden soil for planting I like to turn the soil over to loosen it up, remove rocks, and also to search for unwanted pests. To do this, simply put in your shovel, dig in, and turn it over. Go through the entire box and dig down as deep as you can. My boxes have been there for several years, so the organic burlap that I laid on base to kill the grass the first year has now decomposed. I am able to reach down and mix in some of the Georgia red clay with the garden dirt.

Here are my 4 – 4×4 garden beds. They are about 12″ deep. I’m in the process of installing garden pavers for a path through and around them, which is why there are 4 random pavers in the middle.

#2 Check for pests. 
As I mentioned above, while you are turning over the soil look for unwanted pests. An important part of preparing your garden soil is to remove these guys. If you dig deep enough and thoroughly, you will be able to see if there are any grubs or larvae. I had a problem with tomato hornworms last year, so when going through the bed I had my tomatoes planted in I was especially vigilant for getting the hornworm larvae out. You can toss out smaller grubs and step on them. The tomato hornworm larvae are disgusting and large, so I take a shovel to them and annihilate them. I can use terms like “annihilate” with them because I hate them. Hate is such a strong word. It works here.

A tomato hornworm larva that I removed from my garden.
They are large, but blend in with the soil. If you find them, remove them and destroy them. It’s much easier to remove them as a larva then after they have changed into the green, destructive pests that will ruin your tomato plants.

#3 Rotate your crops. 
A little advanced planning will help you prepare your garden soil for the next season of planting. You don’t want to plant the same thing in the same spot two years in a row. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the pests that are attracted to particular crops will become a problem. Also, your soil will become nutrient deficient. Some plants use a lot of nitrogen and some feed the soil nitrogen. With quick and simple planning of how to rotate your crops, you will be able to make sure that your crops are actually producing food.

How I plan to rotate my crops over a 4 year period.

#4 Amend the soil.
With raised beds it is easy to forget that you aren’t replacing the soil. Instead you are amending it, adding to it. After the first year you don’t want to just dump bags of garden soil from the hardware soil into your boxes. You want to mix it with the native soil. While I am turning over the soil (see #1!) I will add a bag of compost, some bone meal, some blood meal, and some Epsom salts. If you make your own compost or buy it, 1-2 cu feet of compost per box is a good starting point. Don’t overuse the blood meal and bone meal; a little goes a long way. Blood meal and bone meal are exactly what they sound like, and what they sound like are a little disgusting. But they are good, organic options to fertilize and amend the soil. Preparing your garden soil by amending it will again keep your plants healthy, making them disease and pest resistant and yielding high crops.

Just a side note, the first year you start raised beds you’ll most likely need to fill them up with bags of soil from the store. In subsequent years you might need a bag or two to keepl the soil level up. What I recommend avoiding is completely replacing the soil each year. I don’t think it’s necessary, and it would not be cost efficient. Use these steps to amend the soil, and you won’t need to replace it.

#5 Consider cold weather crops.
Another good way to prepare the garden soil is to plant something in the cooler seasons that will replace nutrients used in the spring and summer. Kale, peas, and many other foods can be grown in the colder months. (I’m in Zone 7; things may be different in your area.)

#6 Consider helpful insects.
If I happen to be digging elsewhere in the yard and notice lots of earthworms, I will take them and put them in the garden. Worms, bees, ladybugs, praying mantis and many other types of bugs and insects are friends to your garden. Consider ways to attract beneficial visitors that will either contribute to the soil or prey on harmful pests.

I hope this is helpful! Enjoy your garden.

Atlanta Fall Bucket List


October, the Southerners’ reward for surviving summer.¬†

I’ve never met a Southerner that doesn’t like¬†love October. Honestly! Would such a person be human? Despite having 31 days, and sometimes 5 glorious weekends, there never seems to be enough October to go around. Unless I schedule our October days to make the most of the cool things happening around town, we just don’t get around to doing it all.¬†
I’ve made a list of some neat things both ITP and OTP (that’s inside-the-perimeter and outside-the-perimeter for all of you newbies) that you may want to take advantage of this fall. Each name links back to a website; Just hover your mouse and click for more details! I’m happy to add to the list. Just leave a comment or shoot me an email.
Now, go forth and get your pumpkin on!

Inside the Perimeter

1. Boo at the Zoo (Zoo Atlanta) – Special activities Saturdays and Sundays, October 18, 19, 25, & 26. 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
2. Ogre-tober and Scarecrows in the Garden (Atlanta Botanical Gardens) РLots of Ogre-tober happenings! Click to check out their calender of events. 
3. Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tour (Oakland Cemetery) – The only time of year when tours are available after dark. Advance tickets must be purchased and sell out quickly!
4. Georgia A-Scary-Um (Georgia Aquarium) – Special extended hours. Kids 12 and under get in free if they dress in costume with each paying adult. Click the link for details!
5. Fernbank Boo-Seum Trick-or-Treat (Fernbank Museum of Natural History) – Lots of un-scary fun for the little monsters on the Saturday before Halloween. Special events throughout the museum from 10 – 2, all of which are included in admission or FREE for members.

Outside the Perimeter (and Beyond!)

5. Stone Mountain Park Pumpkin Festival РTons to do here for the kids. Check out the website! Sometimes tickets go on flash-sale. 
6. Buford Corn Maze РMore than just a corn maze! Hayrides, family activities, and a haunted forest. 
7. Jaemor Farms – Take a drive up to Alto, Georgia. The farm itself is gorgeous, and there are super fun things like apple canons, slides, corn maze, pick your own pumpkins, petting zoo, etc. Even a wonderful farm market with everything from fresh produce to fried pies. This is my fave!!! Click the link for more deets!
8. Gold Rush Days – Dahlonega, GA. Before the California gold rush, there was the Dahlonega gold rush! During peak times to see fall foliage, this should be a blast!
9. Oktoberfest РHelen, GA. The town of Helen is a re-creation of an alpine village, and this year marks their 44th annual Oktoberfest. 
10. Georgia Apple Festival – Ellijay, GA. It’s 43rd year as the Georgia Apple Festival, the town of Ellijay puts out quite the welcome wagon. Fun for the whole family, minus Fido (no pets allowed).
11. Six Flags Fright Fest – Frights by night and thrills by day!
12. The Great Miller Lite Chili & BBQ Cookoff РChili? Yes, please! Held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, GA. 
This is is far from being complete of everything Atlanta has to offer this fall. Make sure you take the time to create some awesome, life-long memories!

Belle & Beau on the Dixie Highway 90 Mile Yardsale

Nothing says “family time” like packing up the kids and dog and heading out to spend the entire day yard sale hopping. Oh, who am I kidding? I forced them to go, all of them. But since I put in almost 5 hours sitting at the ball field for soccer tryouts this week, I figured they could spend 5 hours in the car while I worked had fun searching for inventory.

Diesel’s first time coming “picking” with us, and he did great!

My friend, Kimberly, told me about the Dixie Highway 90 Mile Yard Sale a while ago. But unfortunately for me, it always conflicted with other plans. I was on the fence about going right up until the time we pulled out of the driveway. It’s a really long drive for us to get there, and there is never a guarantee you’ll find anything good. In fact, I was worried we were going to drive all of that way and get rained out.

First things, first. In my world of yard sales, people set up at 8:00 and “early birds” show up at 7:45. With traffic, we ended up not getting to Adairsville (one of the cities on the 90 mile stretch) until 10:30, and people were just then starting to set up. Not sure what that was all about, but I’m glad we got a late start. I would’ve been all huh? and wuh? and “this is a bust.”

Our 9 year old played “photographer” today. And I love seeing the day through her eyes! Here are a few of her pictures. At the bottom you can see a picture of some of the things I ended up buying.

Sweet iron bed. The guy insisted it was a “twin” but I knew better. Smaller than a twin! He wanted $75


Loved this.


Some very cool bottles here. We must be on the right track!



We ended up buying all of the insulators here.


 Here is a small portion of what we ended up getting:

Insulators, camera and case, skates, dolls, milk glass tea sets – one for iced tea and one for hot tea. etc, etc

Best deal of the day: the insulators
Favorite find of the day (that I’m keeping!): jadeite sugar bowl with holly leaves on it. Everything else is for sale.
Should’ve skipped on: antique scale (not pictured)

We had fun and will definitely do it again!

Summer Bucket List & Atlanta Summer Bucket List

We are gearing up for SUMMER! Fall is my favorite season, but summer is close to my heart. It’s my time to spend with my kids — making memories, reinforcing values, focusing on Christ-like behavior and studying His word, and family bonding time.

We sat down the other night and made a list of the special things we wanted to do this summer. Then I put them all together to hang on on fridge.

Here’s our Summer Bucket List:


  • Vacation
  • Sleepovers
  • Catch Fireflies
  • $1 Movies
  • Baseball Games
  • Homemade Ice Cream
  • Night Swimming
  • Play in the Rain
  • Watch Fireworks
  • Water Park
  • Ride Roller Coasters
  • Outdoor Concert
  • Read Good Books
  • Ice Cream for dinner
  • Hikes
  • Go to the Park
  • Play in the Sprinkler
  • Make Lemonade
  • Family Time
  • Build a Fort
  • Outdoor Movies
  • Make Popsicles
  • Bowling and Laser Tag
  • Family Game Night
  • Laser Show

    I also made an Atlanta Summer Bucket List.

    //assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.jsYou can print either of them by right clicking on the picture. Enjoy!
    Happy Summer!

    One for the Books

    I have a love of books and reading that crosses over into my vintage/antique obsession. I devour a good book. A good series of books is truly dangerous. There may not be any clean clothes or meals served until the series is done. Sad, but simply true.

    Sometimes I buy¬†old books¬†because it’s written by a well known author. Often I buy them because the title is interesting. I also buy them because of the color of the cover. I’ve mentioned a few times before in previous posts that I will walk through the house looking for a book of a certain color to add to a holiday vignette that I am working on. There’s something about the smell of old paper that makes an old book holy regardless of the subject matter. There’s something about looking through an old encyclopedia of “modern” knowledge that makes even a young person long for the days of simplicity and ignorance of old. How little we knew. How happy we were.

    Rudyard Kipling is known around the world. This copy of his works shows the once innocent swastika symbol with Kipling’s name on the inside cover. In the Hindu culture of Kipling’s beloved India, this was a symbol of good luck and fortune. Once the Nazi party later began to use it, Kipling ordered that it no longer be used in any of his books. I wonder, one day in the future will people remember that this symbol was not always one of evil and hatred? If books like this are tossed and thrown away the chances of that being known may die with it.

    Not quite as well known as Rudyard Kipling, but symbolic to my home of the metro Atlanta region is poet and storyteller Sidney Lanier. The lake nearest to my home and also our source of drinking water takes the name of Sidney Lanier.¬†Many people¬†are probably unaware of who he even was. This copy of his poems, edited by his wife, also happens to be signed by the author.¬†Lanier was important enough in his day to have a major body of water named after him. Lovely, isn’t it, that a man was appreciated for his artistic abilities?

    Here is a gathering of old hymnals, which is quite appropriate for an antique lover living in the Bible Belt. Imagine the souls that held these hymnals week after week, who sang out and praised God, that begged for his mercy, that felt his Holy Spirit. There’s something about holding an antique church hymnal that makes me feel electrified.

    And here are just a few examples of books that I’ve chosen because of their color or title alone:

    The great things about collecting old books is that they are incredibly easy to find. Buy what you personally like and you will be surrounded by some of your favorite things.


    Spring 2013 Antique Shopping in Georgia

    I’m over winter. Bring on SPRING! Bring on the sunshine! Bring on the warmer temps, estate sales, & antique fairs! ūüôā

    Here are some Georgia shows that you may be interested in checking out:


    8-9, 2013 Peaches to the BeachesGeorgia’s Longest Yard Sale. Thousands of visitors travel the parkway the second Friday and Saturday of March for the annual ‚ÄúPeaches to the Beaches‚ÄĚ Yard Sale in search of antiques, collectibles, and hidden treasures.”

    10 – Greater Atlanta Coin Show at the Hilton Atlanta/Marietta Hotel and Conference Center

    15-17 Southeastern Horticultural Society – 2013 Flower Show & Antiques March at the Cobb Galleria Centre


    13-14, 2013 The Revival of Vintage 100+ vintage vendors, expert-taught seminars, live music, and vintage-inspired food that will make you say ‘Hallelujah!.'”
    20-21, 2013 РHogansville Spring Festival  Antiques, uniques, art, collectibles, arts & crafts, musicians and food vendors.   
    27-28, 2013 Braselton Antique & Garden Festival “Antiques, Collectibles, Local Artists, Primitives, Vintage Tools, Jewelry, Pottery, Iron Works, Gardening”


    4-5, 2013 The Cotton Pickin’ FairReturn to 1910 where the Farmhouse, the Cotton Gin, and the Cotton Warehouse form a unique backdrop for a great day of 21st century fun.¬† Amidst skilled artisans and antique specialists, the Fair shares remnants of farm life in days gone by.¬† New talent keeps the¬† festival fresh and interesting while returning artists welcome loyal customers seeking to add to individual collections.”


    Scott Antiques

    Woodstock Market and Antiques Fair 

    Happy junking to you!
    Abby  //assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js

    Top Romantic Restaurants in Atlanta

    If you’re planning a romantic evening for your special someone, here is a compilation of some restaurants that you may want to consider in and around the Atlanta area. Your evening will be much more memorable at one of these unique establishments than at a big-chain, outside-the-mall restaurant.

    Imperial Fez

    2285 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, 30309

    Their website details your experience as, “traditional food from North Africa in an exotic dining environment. Guests dine on comfortable pillows and enjoy savory food eaten by hand. Shoes are left at the door and guests are magically transported to Morocco. It is a truly unique dining experience with nightly belly dancing performances starting at 7:30 p.m.”

    Fogo de Chao

    3101 Piedmont Road, Atlanta, 30305

    Fogo de Chao invites you to, “an authentic Brazilian steakhouse. In 1979, Fogo¬ģ¬†began sharing the gaucho way of preparing¬†meat in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Today, [their] gaucho chefs still expertly grill each of [their] 15 cuts of meat and offer you continuous tableside service. [They] invite you to enjoy the delicious preparations¬†of our gaucho chefs along with our gourmet salad bar, authentic Brazilian side dishes, and award-winning wine list.”

    Ray’s on the River

    6700 Powers Ferry Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30339

    “Ray‚Äôs on the River has been a beloved Atlanta fine dining tradition since 1984. Situated¬† along the Chattahoochee River, take in serene views and enjoy a menu filled with classic¬† Ray‚Äôs dishes, including fresh seafood flown in daily, prime cut steaks and regionally grown vegetables. [Their] award winning Sunday Brunch includes an array of more than 80 fresh¬† and seasonal items.”

    Sun Dial Restaurant

    210 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, 30303

    “The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View is Atlanta‚Äôs only tri-level dining complex featuring a revolving upscale restaurant, a rotating cocktail lounge and an observatory View Level offering a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the magnificent Atlanta skyline. An Atlanta tradition, thousands of locals and tourists board the scenic glass elevators each year to climb the hotel‚Äôs 73 stories to The Sun Dial for its unbeatable views, classic cuisine, live jazz and relaxing ambiance.”


    4199 Paces Ferry Road, SE, Atlanta, 30339

    “Tucked away along the peaceful banks of the Chattahoochee River, yet conveniently located in the Atlanta community of Vinings lies one of the country‚Äôs most acclaimed restaurants. Balanced by both culinary expertise and natural aesthetics, Canoe offers a rich, flavorful experience for all your senses. One that has garnered numerous accolades, like being inducted into Nation‚Äôs Restaurant News 2005 Fine Dining Hall of Fame.”

    Veni Vidi Vici

    41 Fourteenth Street, Atlanta, 30309

    Hearty portions of handmade pasta, rotisserie meats and delectable desserts are signatures of this chic Italian trattoria. Located in the heart of midtown, Veni Vidi Vici is perfect for pre-theater dining or as a place to unwind and enjoy a relaxing meal. With its warm ambiance and attentive service, Veni Vidi Vici is a classic Italian experience at its best.”

    Swan Coach House

    3130 Slaton Drive, NW, Atlanta, 30305

    Traditionally a destination for lunch, the Valentine dinner with Southern flair is one of the exceptions. Enjoy a romantic and decadent feast in the carriage house of the Swan House estate.

    Calling ahead for reservations is recommended for all of these establishments. 

    “A true man does not need to romance a different girl every night. A true man romances the same girl for the rest of his life.” ~Ana Alas



    How to Start Antiquing

    To me the idea of antiquing is romantic. The process of finding an antique, learning its story, and bringing it home has the antiquarian investing emotions into their find as the wallet is being pulled out to pay for it. People sometimes ask me how I got started in antiques. At the start, at the very beginning, is a love for old things. If you aren’t committed to the idea of having previously owned merchandise in your house, owned by who knows who, then you might not be ready to get started.

    When I first started I made some mistakes and I bought some things that I really didn’t like or need. If you’re interested in collecting and antiquing, I’ve put together a few steps to help you begin your journey.

    What do you like? If you aren’t sure what you like and need help figuring it out, try a few of these:

    • Pinterest. Pinterest is a virtual pin board for anything and everything that you’re interested in. You can search for “antiques” or “vintage” and thousands of pictures come up. Which of these pictures appeals to you? Make a list. Or better yet, pin them to a board.
    • The Library. Check out a few antique price guide books from the library. Don’t worry about the prices for now. Just flip through and see what gets your attention. What do you like in the book?
    • What are your other hobbies and interests? Are you a die-hard baseball fan? Then chances are you’d enjoy collecting baseball memorabilia. Do you knit scarves or sewing in your spare time? The world of vintage and antique linens awaits you!
    • Do you prefer to have a collection to display on a shelf or pieces that can function in your everyday life? If you’re looking to start a collection figurines and pottery might be for you. If you’d prefer to use your collections daily, jewelry or dishes are an excellent option.
    • What would upset you to see thrown away? What item from days gone by would you hate to see by the side of the road or in a dumpster? Chances are that if something comes to mind, that would be a great thing for you to start antiquing for.

    Do a little research. I’m not talking hours and hours of research. But it is a good idea to learn a little bit about what markings to look for and what the going prices are. The average antique dealer knows that their reputation means everything. They are not out to fool or scam you. However as a collector doing a little research means that you know that Pyrex and Py-O-Rey are not the same thing, and their values are drastically different. You’ll be amazed how quickly you catch on.

    Browsing is fun, but having a plan is better. Antique stores can be overwhelming. Many stores rent out shelves or stalls to individual dealers. Those dealers will try to maximize their space, and a lot of merchandise gets packed into tight places. However, if you go to the stores and fairs with a plan of what you’re looking for, those things will jump out at you. For example, let’s say that I decide ahead of time that I need to find a green chair and a pink vintage tablecloth. I’m going to browse thinking, “green, pink, green, pink.” And voila, out of the woodwork comes those items you need, that you already have the perfect spot for. Don’t get overwhelmed. Make a plan.¬†

    You don’t have to buy anything. Did I just say that??? I mean, you don’t have to buy anything unless you’re shopping in a place where I’m selling. ūüôā In all seriousness, just because you go to an antique store or fair doesn’t mean that you have to buy something. If you haven’t found something that you came in looking for or that you are generally interested in, it is okay to walk out empty handed. That’s part of the fun of antiquing. When you finally find something that you’ve been looking for, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and appreciation for that item. Antique stores are full of items waiting to start a new life with their next person. It might not be a perfect match for you.

    Tastes in antiques are like underwear, personal and never shared. Remember above when I gave some tips for finding out what you are interested in? Chances are that your friend, neighbor, sister, son, or daughter-in-law doesn’t have the same taste that you do. Trust me. If you’re going to shop for antiques for others, be very sure of their tastes and needs.

    I hope that this helps you to get started. If you’re ever in the metro Atlanta area check out the antique stores of Braselton. You can find many of my pieces for sale in Countryside Antiques where I have a booth.¬†


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      Belle & Beau take on Lakewood 400!

      Probably not all shoppers go antiquing with a camera, but I just had to take you along on our adventure to Lakewood 400 Antiques Market. We love Lakewood 400! You never know what you’re going to find, and it is always a good time. Don’t miss it this weekend, October 19-21.
      What I love most about Lakewood 400 is that there is a lot in one place. If you plan a day of antiquing with a friend, driving from shop to shop is going to wear you out. But with so many dealers in one location, you can really take your time and find some treasures that you’ll love at Lakewood.
      The whole show is great, but our favorite area is Hall G. On Hall G you will find The Georgia Peach, T and E Antiques and Collectibles, Brown Eyed Girl Antiques, Alluvium Design, and Geppetto’s Closet, just to name a few.

      T and E Antiques and Collectibles has an amazing selection of Jadeite, one of my loves. They also have a large selection of other great finds.

      Not on Hall G, but ones we still love are The Pyrex Chick and Ginny’s Vintage and More.
      The Pyrex Chick
      How lucky am I that I get to spend the day antiquing with this guy???
      Ken checking out the price on a piece of Pyrex.
      A few tips for you from Belle & Beau:
      • Dress comfortably. You’re going to be doing a little bit of walking.¬†
      • Dress for the weather. If it’s cold outside, bring a sweater. Some of the dealers are outside, and the cool air can follow you inside.
      • Always ask if prices are negotiable. Dealers are usually willing to work with you on the prices, especially if you buy more than one item from them. At the very end of the show, prices may be even better.
      • Although prices may be negotiable, this is not a garage sale giveaway. Items are usually being sold for close to what they are worth. Trust me, finding antiques and collectibles is HARD work. Dealers aren’t going to mark items so low that they don’t make money on them.
      • Most dealers take credit cards, but cash is still usually preferred.
      • I like to bring my own shopping bag.
      There is a concession area with yummy food, so you can stay and eat right at the show. Make sure to enjoy yourselves; antiquing is supposed to be fun, you know!
      For more information on Lakewood 400 Antiques Market, check them out on Facebook, their blog, and their website. The next show is November 16 – 18. The show is located at 1321 Atlanta Highway, Cumming, GA 30040.
      ¬†Let us know if you’ve been to Lakewood before, and what kind of treasures you found.