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The Great Autumn Mantle Disaster of 2012

If you were anywhere in the southeastern U.S. yesterday, did you feel it too? The Earthquake of 2012?

I’m talking of course about the one that struck just as I finally put the finishing touches on my fall mantle, the moment I was setting up my tripod to take a picture of it for you.

The one that took the decorations on my just-right autumn mantle and turned them into this:

No? You didn’t feel it?

Maybe there was no earthquake. Maybe the sunburst mirror just threw itself off the wall, taking everything down with it.

(The zebra wasn’t part of my fall decor. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.)

Needless to say, it was a great tragedy that brought the loss of several of my favorite decorations. RIP pretty green leaf decoration.
Green leaf decoration
RIP simple white vase and pretty glass compote.

And of course, RIP beautiful autumn mantle that can never be recreated and of which I have exactly zero photos.

Disheartened but persevering, I rehung the mirror – this time with a wall anchor – and scrounged around to create a less-good fall mantle with a few other decorations I had on hand:
Decorating a Mantle for Fall/Autumn at View Along the Way
I bought the art print on the left a while back and still haven’t gotten it framed. (Don’t tell anyone.) I saw it on Wall Blank, and I was thinking: hmm, that’s a nice photo of two leaves by a pond.
Autumn Mantle at View Along the Way, Fall Mantle at View Along the Way
But then I saw the title: “Holding on, Letting go.” Once I saw the title, I got all sappy and emotional about the poor green leaf who was holding on to the brown leaf but knew it had to let it go and release it forever into the water. I seriously crafted this whole tragic Titanic-I’ll-Never-Let-Go-Jack story just from the photo and the title, and I was moved but my own sappy story, so I had to buy it.


I pulled the berries and leaves from the Heavenly Bamboo in our yard and stacked ’em on the books for height. The little white dish thing was TEN CENTS at a yard sale last weekend. I mean really. One tiny dime.
Decorations on a mantle for fall, heavenly bamboo berries
I’ll never have “Fall Mantle 2012, version 1.0” back again, but I guess I’m okay with version 2.0…
Fall/autumn mantle/mantel decorations at View Along the Way

…until it’s time to decorate for Christmas. Or until the next great earthquake.

Have you ever had a decorating disaster like this? There was an earthquake, right? So weird that it hasn’t gotten any news coverage.

P.S.: I’m guest posting today at Design OCD about the biggest bang-for-the-buck projects we’ve taken on. Check it out!>

Let's connect


  1. you tell the best stories… i always laugh over here. how is the zebra though? poor guy. poor you. poor green glass leaf and white dishes.

    version 2.0 looks simple and pretty… i like it!

  2. Kind of… more spice cabinet interior, Ya’ know how there is really only 1 cabinet behind 2 doors with that divider thingy down the front? I had just poured a lovely glass of wine (red) and went to return the bottle to the top shelf (on the left)when I pushed it in too far which forced a repositioning of a full bottle of balsamic vinegar out of the cabinet from the top of the right side to push the door open and make an entry onto the beautiful Italian butter dish my daughter gave me for Christmas that was sitting next to my wine in an antique crystal goblet from my mother-in-law striking the granite counter top and creating a beautiful pool of sugary blood on my white ceramic tile. Hope you never have to clean up THAT combination!!

  3. 2.0 looks awesome, girl! I’m thinking about that scene in Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold can’t get the lights to turn on, and his mom says something like “I can picture it in my mind, and it’s beautiful!” Anyone? Anyone…? 😉

  4. The only thing that would make this mantle better is if you had Leonardo DiCaprio’s signature on that photo. Maybe the earthquake was actually the universe slamming into an iceberg?…

  5. At first I really thought there was an earthquake, since there was one last year haha.

    Your new mantle looks fabulous though! I love the dark flowers and the fruit!

  6. Version 2.0 is lovely… I must admit I was wondering about the zebra in the Fall mantle ;-).

  7. Love version 2.0. Sad tale. Those darn earthquakes, they’ll get ya every time!

  8. I believe I may have mentioned the Great Gallery Wall Tragedy of 2011 (where we hung our gallery wall with double sided tape (renter curse) and it all fell down in the middle of the night, waking us up by scaring us half to death, taking out several of my favourite glass goodies AND a laptop)? Our insurers didn’t even believe us! *sigh* but like you, we bounced back and rehung everything properly (holes and all) and now tip-toe around said wall. Now let’s talk about your mantle – it’s fabulous! Love those pretty berries!

  9. Oh no! That really sucks. At least the mirror didn’t break, I guess, right? The mantel looks pretty now that the shards of glass have been cleaned up!

  10. had it happen yesterday….my living room mantel…pumpkins, black hats and candle sticks…all over the floor! Fortunately, nothing was glass so I’ll be “reassembling” later tonight! I love v2.0 but I’m so sorry about your leaf plate and milk glass. How’s the zebra? xo

  11. Oh no!! That stinks. 🙁 I think version 2.0 looks stunning as everything you seem to do is. You may have just inspired me to decorate my mantle….but the beauty of yours might just scare me away from actually doing it. I don’t like failure. 🙂

  12. Ohhh that seriously bites. Not Mantle 2.0 which is actually really perfectly lovely and simple and one which I would never have considered was anything less that your first fantastic try without the back story.

    2 years ago, we had the Great Dining Room Cat Travesty 2010. We went away on holiday for a week and the cats were being checked, fed & watered daily by my MIL except for the day we were due to return. As luck would have it, the cats, in their boredom no doubt, jumped up on the dining table, pulled down the table runner and took everything with it (kinda like a magician who can remove a table cloth without moving the items on the table except that cats make rubbish magicians, seeing that they have no opposable thumbs). It demolished a 7 candle glass candelabra and 4 glass tealights. (No kitties were harmed in this event, thankfully). When we realised we had not, in fact, been robbed as that’s what it had looked like, we were grateful it was just a few things. It’s only ‘stuff’ after all. However, I have refused to let them try their paws at card tricks for fear of what might happen. xxx

    PS Hope the zebra is okay 😉

  13. Oh man, that really stinks. But version 2.0 really is very pretty!

    PS – Sorry for laughing at your misfortune.

  14. I know that feeling! We have things fall over all the time, except I usually know who is responsible (finger pointing at 3 year old boy)

    🙂 Jessica

  15. 2.0 looks great but that seriously bites!!! So sorry! Isn’t is so frustrating when stuff like that happens?

  16. Nooooo! That’s the worst. We’ve experienced suicidal decor and it’s a bummer. But you bounced back quite well — 2.0 is simple and charming.

    We had an “earthquake” (read: my wildly flailing arm) a few years ago that made for an epic clean up. Our kitchen floor was ripped off down to the subfloor, which consists of 10″ wide boards set diagonally across the joists. There were some gaps between the boards that were big enough to see down to the basement. I dropped a full bottle of red wine that exploded all over the kitchen then flooded the basement. Awesome.

  17. oh Lordy … I’m sure I would have felt the earthquake if I was closer … way to resurrect a mantel even after the storm!

  18. I am seriously happy the Zebra was just an innocent bystander because my first thought was some zoo keeper is gonna have helll to pay!


  19. Thought I felt something over here in Marietta!! Quel domage… but version 2.0 is pretty cool in it’s own right. Those berries are to die for… mind if I pop over a clip a few?
    xo Heidi

  20. Oh noooo! RIP pretty decorations. I hope you find some replacements soon 🙂

  21. oh my! I had an earthquake one day in the summer when I was home by myself! Our clock fell off the mantle and shattered everywhere. Needless to say the 911 operator was not as amused as I was when I realized what it was :O

  22. Why is it always the Zebra that gets it? Hope he is okay. 🙂 Sorry about your losses, esp. that pretty green leaf decoration. Great way to make a come back though, I love the simplicity of your mantle!

  23. At first I was like, “There was an earthquake?!” You got me good. I’m sorry about the untimely demise of some of your favorite pieces. I still think about the pretty green vase I broke a couple years ago. Home decorating can be dangerous and saddening. I’m digging your less-good fall mantel though. And I’m super jealous of your 10 cent bowl. Like, I kind of hate you.

  24. I think version 2.0 turned out very pretty!! You recovered well! 🙂 Kudos to you for persevering! I would have been too frustrated & would have had to walk away!

    Love your sunburst mirror & the fruit in the little white dishes! Very pretty!

  25. So just to confirm… no cute zebras were hurt in the creation of the Autumn mantle?

    I’m sure mantle version 1.0 was good, but version 2.0 is pretty great 🙂

  26. Hi, I stumbled onto your blog from Pinterest (the scallops recipe, yum) and have to say I love it so far! I’m not regularly a blog commenter, but your picture “Holding On, Letting Go” made me think of one of my favorite childhood books, “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.” It is exactly what you imagined – the leaves falling don’t want to go, and the leaves that stay miss them. I hope you enjoy it if you check it out 🙂 Cheers!

  27. Oh no! How discouraging for you 🙁 You certainly made the best of the situation because 2.0 looks pretty darn lovely!

    {Visiting from Serenity Now’s Weekend Link Party}

  28. well that is quite a tragic story, and actually i’m also feeling bad for the “i’ll never let go” leaf, too.

  29. 2nd time around looks great! And I feel your pain. I hung one of my grandmother’s recipes that I had framed and mod podged and stepped back to admire it and got a front row seat of it crashing to the ground and shattering into a zillion pieces.

  30. No, didn’t feel the earth move…but the wind was wicked today! So sorry you lost your first vignette, but the second one looks wonderful!
    Saw you linking at aka designs
    Debbie 🙂

  31. I was totally bummed when I first read this. I’ve had a few unfortunate “earthquakes” in my day too. The pretty white pieces are a sad loss, for sure. And, the green leaf?? I’m crying a little bit! I’m so sorry that happened!!

    But, of course, you managed to pull off a beautiful Fall mantel, in spite of the disaster!! And, I’ll be featuring it in my Fall mantel round-up tomorrow.


  1. […] the INSIDE of the house too?! GIMME A BREAK, you know?Plus the new season FORCED me to make over my mantle like I showed you a few days ago (more on that disaster here): And just look at this. The light […]

  2. […] a pin-nailer and wood glue, under Weston’s careful supervision. After last month’s giant mantle disaster, he made sure to reinforce the back with some wood scraps. And we hung it up! It won’t live […]

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