DIY Decor

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Family & Baby


Fall Wreath Round Up

Michigan has had a distinct chill in the air over the last week.  The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, and it smells like Fall.  Also, pumpkin spice is back, if you’re into that sort of thing.  (I’m not.  #sorrynotsorry.)

We have a pretty neutral color scheme in the house, which lets us swap out colorful decor for the seasons.  One of my favorite places to start decorating is the front door.  So today, I’m sharing my favorite fall wreaths – and BONUS, they’re all less than $50!

*This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!

  1. Faux Magnolia Fall Wreath
    This is basically a fall-colored version of the classic Fixer Upper Magnolia Wreath from Magnolia Market.  Full, and so pretty!  It looks like it could also be hung over a fireplace, or bed.

    Source: Pier 1

  2.  Oak Leaf Wreath
    This lifelike beauty from Crate and Barrel looks like real oak leaves, tucked into a grapevine wreath frame.  This would also make a great Thanksgiving decor piece.

    Source: Crate & Barrel

  3. Orange Berry Halloween Wreath
    I know that this has “Halloween” in the name, but it really is a subtle fall wreath.  With the black, yellows, reds, and oranges, this really could be kept up through the entire fall season.
  4. Bleached Wheat Wreath
    This Wayfair find is simple, but the texture of the wheat just screams fall!  It’s actually very similar to a Smith + Hawken wheat wreath that I picked up at Target last year, and currently have on my front door.  This one is even fuller, which I like.
  5. Dried Mushroom Wreath
    I know the name of this one doesn’t sound super-appealing, but just take one look at this stunner in person, and you’ll understand why it is perfect for fall.  The mustard yellow is one of my favorite colors to wear when the weather turns cooler.  The mushrooms are also a really unique texture, which is visually interesting.

    Source: Target

  6. Pumpkin Wood Curl Wreath
    Guys, this really doesn’t need much explanation.  I know it isn’t the traditional wreath shape…but c’mon.  It’s a pumpkin, and totally adorable.  I loooooove this one.
  7. Dried Shola Kadam Wreath
    Another Smith + Hawken beauty.  The simple off-white color of the dried flowers/jute combination, makes for a beautiful piece.

Source: Target

That’s a wrap!  I wish I could buy them all, but unfortunately, I only have two exterior doors to hang wreaths on :).

Would love to hear which ones are your favorites!  Have you started decorating for Fall?

Home Improvement

Fixer Upper Inspired Board + Batten Shutters

Happy Friday!

The end of summer is approaching and I’m 200% ready for fall.  I was still enjoying the warm weather until Jeremy’s grandparents gifted us some mums.

Then suddenly, I was ready for sweaters, boots, bonfires, and cider.  Like right now.  Yes, I know it’s Labor Day weekend.  I’m a little ahead of schedule.

But before that cooler weather comes through, I wanted to get at least one more outdoor project finished.  This one was a biggie, as we replaced something that has been bothering me for YEARS: our shutters!


Not only is the purple color faded and dated, but yellow jackets have taken a liking to building their nests in the slat openings.  It got out of control this year, to the point where they were EVERYWHERE and it was difficult to even enjoy time outside with the baby.  So, they had to go.  Both of them.

I wanted shutters that were more proportional, as our current ones were too skinny/tall, and just didn’t look right on the windows.  I was really inspired by the shutters that Chip and Joanna put together at the “Overgrown Ranch” on Fixer Upper.

Source: HGTV

I priced out pre-made shutters, and the least expensive ones I could find for our nearly 6 foot tall windows were $80 EACH.  With 6 windows, we’re talking almost $2000.  No thank you!  So, after a little bit of research, we figured out that we could easily build these ourselves.

To measure for the correct size shutters, we followed this guide.

Our windows averaged around 42″, so we decided on 3 1×6 boards side by side.  Since 1×6 boards are actually 1×5.5, this gave us a 16.5″ width which was perfect.  We opted for rough sawn, untreated pine boards.  The rough cut is only on one side, so it isn’t visible, and we didn’t need the boards treated since they were going to be painted over.

We ended up replacing 12 aluminum shutters, all 14×72″.

24 1x6x12 rough cut pine boards (untreated)
Chop Saw
Nail Gun
1 1/2″ Finishing Nails (square or hex head)
3″ Deck Screws
2 cans of Interior/Exterior Liquid Nail
Primer: Benjamin Moore Interior/Exterior Primer (tinted gray)
Paint: Benjamin Moore Exterior in Onyx (Soft Gloss Finish)
Paint Brush
Paint Roller


1.  Boards:  18 of the 12′ boards were cut in half to make our 6′ tall boards.

2.  Battens:  6 of the 12′ boards were cut into 16.5″ lengths to make our battens.  If you prefer a narrower batten, buy 1x4x12 boards for this instead.

3.  Prime, then Paint*.  We gave all sides a good coat of primer, followed by two coats of paint.  I went with my favorite black paint:  Benjamin Moore Onyx, in soft gloss.  The glossier finish adds a nice sheen.

*This step will feel like it takes forever.  Be patient, throw on some late 90’s early 00’s jams, and just power through it.  We actually did this and alternated painting and dance-offs to NSYNC.

4.  Assemble!  Lay your three boards next to each other.  Place your battens where you’d like them.  I recommend placing them at least the width of one board (6″) from the end.

5.  Once you’ve decided on placement, put down a good amount of liquid nail down.  Place your batten on top, and press down to get a good bond.

6.  Then finish with your nail gun.  We did about 6 nails in each batten.

7.  Hang the shutters.  We used deck screws (2 at each end) to hold them in place.  Not only are they secure, but the end of deck screws are so much easier to drive in – and when you’re on an extension ladder working on the second floor shutters, you’ll be happy you used these.  Be sure to look for deck screws with a square or hex head.

That’s it!  7 steps.

Our cost was $170 for the wood and finishing nails, and $78 for the paint and primer – for a total of $248.  At $20.67 per shutter, we saved 87% of the cost doing this ourselves…over $1600!  Plus, they give a completely fresh look to the house.

I’ll call it a win!

What do you think?  Have you ever considered making your own shutters?

Family Pregnancy/Baby

Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor – First Lesson Recap

This post is brought to you by Goldfish Swim School.  While I was provided lessons in exchange for this review, all opinions are 100% my own.

Isla is turning 9 months old this week.  Our laid back, easy going baby has turned into a super mobile, energetic little monster!  I wrote recently about how she visited Lake Michigan with us, and went swimming in a pool for the first time.

Since then, we’ve gotten a little kiddie pool set up at home and she loves it.  If it is full and she sees it, she squirms and squeals until we get her in.

This is Bubbles, the Mascot at Goldfish Swim School.

It’s amazing to see her having fun and being so fearless.  But as a mother, having a baby with no knowledge of the dangers water can pose strikes an unbelievable amount of fear into me.  Water safety is so important, and we wanted to teach our little one early.

So we got her signed up at Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor, and were excited to get started!  It’s just a 15 minute drive from where we live in Chelsea, and well worth it.  We recently had her first 30 minute lesson.  Registration was a breeze!

Goldfish offers numerous classes based on age – from 4 months all the way up to 12 years old.  Isla is in the “Mini 1” class, which goes from ages 4-15 months.

There were 2 other babies in the pool with us on Saturday, and 2 instructors – so we really felt like we got some great 1-on-1 time with each teacher.  They were so good with the babies, making sure that safety and fun were the top priorities.

The instructors were amazing! So interactive and cheerful.

The Mini classes are a gentle introduction to the water, where Isla is starting to learn the basics of swimming and water safety.  They also keep the pool at a very comfortable 90 degrees – it feels just like bathwater!  I love the idea that we’re easing her into this, at her own pace.

Conditioning! Getting her used to having water on her shoulders and head.

I got in the pool with her, while daddy watched and cheered us on.  Isla worked on the basic swim stroke, floating on her back, getting used to having water on her head/face, and even a few quick dips under the water!  It’s so amazing how intuitive babies are, and how they reflexively know to blow bubbles and stop inhaling when they’re under water.

Practicing floating. She’s not so sure about this skill yet.

Isla was a little hesitant, but that’s why it’s great we’ll be coming back every week – so we can work on these skills and build on them so she can be safe and confident in the water.

I have to give a special shout out to the staff.  They were so friendly, helpful in getting us checked in, and letting us know where to go.  At the end of our lesson we realized that our car battery had died, and one of the staff members went out of their way to find us and ask if we needed help.  That is sometimes hard to come by in those situations, so thank you!

At the end of our lesson we left with an adorable little baby swag bag, and smiles on our faces.  If you’re looking for swim lessons for your water babies (or big kids), you can find a local Goldfish Swim School at their center locator, and more information below:

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See you next week, Bubbles!

Can’t wait to share with you how our little Goldfish progresses through her next few months of classes!

Have you had an awesome experience at Goldfish Swim School?  Would love to hear your stories in the comments!



Sometimes Life is Scary

Let’s get real for a few minutes here.

Smiedendipity has been silent for a little while now.  As much as I post happy life events and fun projects here, my husband and I are real people, living a real life…and that sometimes comes with real problems.  I wouldn’t be authentic if I didn’t also share our struggles, so I’m writing about this with my husband’s permission.

There has been quite a bit of drama going on in our family over the last year – not between Jeremy and I, but within our larger family circle in general, and it’s caused a TON of stress.  That combined with our full time jobs, and caring for Isla has led to accumulating stress with very little time to address it.

Unfortunately, this caused a small decline in my husband’s health lately.  We’d both wanted him to get in to see the doctor a for a while, he just hadn’t made the time to do it – well, he finally went in.  We really both thought that whatever it was would probably be minor.  No big deal.

Then the doctor threw out a diagnostic guess, with the word “lymphoma” in it.

Lymphoma is a form of cancer.  This is where I fall apart.

Basically there were a few things that it could be, and this was one of them.  Jeremy had some tests run, which led to a completely agonizing wait for the results.  As much as I wanted to be strong for him, I’ve been walking around in a panic.  Thinking about worst case scenarios, and prone to breaking down in sobs at the most random times.  At the gas station, in the grocery store, while changing my daughter’s diaper, even while running.  Jeremy has been so brave, and so optimistic through this whole ordeal – I have always admired his attitude when dealing with the unknown.

I am not as brave as he is, and I haven’t been able to focus on much else other than putting one foot in front of the other as I try to get through each day that the results aren’t in and we’re living in the “what if” zone.

Photo: Heather Jowett Photography

Thankfully, the results did come in.  The diagnosis came back as an autoimmune overreaction, and with a few lifestyle changes – namely, cutting out toxic sources of stress – he’s going to be fine.

My husband is going to be fine.

I’ve never been more thankful for anything in my life.  Even the epidural during my 30 hour labor comes in at a distant second.

We’ve learned a few important lessons through this experience:
Be thankful for your health.  Do what you can to preserve it.
Be thankful for each other.  Time and routine can cause you to forget how lucky you are to have each day.
Be good to yourself.  Don’t sacrifice your own health when putting others first.

Thank you for sticking with me, readers.  My nerves are finally calming down, and I’ll be back to posting regularly very, very soon.

Photo: Heather Jowett Photography

Until then, be good to each other.