How to fill the post Christmas decor blahs organically

The dog days of winter are now upon us. As we begin to dismantle the tree, take down the ornaments and un-deck our halls we're left with dust, too many pine needles and a bare, almost solemn feeling. It's cold outside, blustery cold. The trees are bare. The ground is bare. And there's really nothing exceptional about this time of year. We can all feel it. Our steps grow slower and heavier with each and every passing day. It's not even mid-January and we're already ready to trade in our heavy coats and boots for bathing suits and flip flops. A little snow on the ground would be a most welcome sight right now. Snow does not belong in October. It belongs here now. We need to see the big downy flakes fall from the white sky. We need to run out and catch them on our tongues and build snow men and snow forts and make snow angels. We need to bring out the sleds and thermoses filled with hot cocoa (or whatever your pleasure may be!) We need to unpeel our heavy, snow-ladden clothing in the mud room and sit in front of a warm fire places so that our little fingers and toes can start to move and come back to life!

This is my weekend to de-Christmas the house. The children will be sad to have to say goodbye to the Nutcrackers that colorfully welcome visitors on the table in the foyer. They will be sad to have to say goodbye to the ornaments on the tree, the large bowl of glass balls on the living room table, the ornaments and chains hanging from the chandeliers, as will I. I will look for ways to add some winter to our home to fill some of the voids. I will fill these voids with our large collection of pine cones that have been collected over the years by my children and me. We have pine cones of all different sizes. Some in their natural state, some we've dusted with glitter and some we've painted. I think, if we keep away from the reds and greens and Christmas-like colors, we can add some winter decor by bringing the outdoors indoors - something I love to do year round. You can enhance with bundles of twigs and sticks tied up in pretty ribbons. You can enhance with bowls of acorns, some painted, some in their natural state. You can mix the pine cones with rocks and shells. The possibilities are endless. Let's not focus on the void that's left when Christmas goes, but with filling it with other wonderful items of the season. Let's look forward not backwards. Let's move forward, not backwards!

image from

                                                                Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

                                                       Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

                                                       Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

                                          Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

                                                       Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

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Wishing you all Warm thoughts... Spring will be here before we know it!



Decorating Organically: Hydrangea, Pinecones + Acorns and Cranberries + Sugar

How does one chair a decorating committee for a wine tasting event on a very small budget? One must be creative and resourceful and look to nature. How can one make an event look elegant and grand on a shoe-string budget? By focusing where the dollars are spent and looking to nature. Recycling is key. Relying on what we have in our homes and friends homes is key. Working with three creative and talented women is key.

We started planning our event around some dried hydrangea. I simply love these dried flowers. They can go with just about anything. We cut flower after flower after flower and set them out to dry. Our hydrangea were a varied lot. Some were greenish, others blueish and others pink and purple. We had a surplus of acorns and pine cones. Add a little gold spray paint and the three make a perfect set.

Gold painted hydrangeas gently placed in a hurricane vase.
A simple cranberry colored ribbon completes the look.

Unpainted hydrangea a gently placed in a hurricane with some acorns, some painted gold and inexpensive,
gold painted apple ornaments. A simple, sheer white ribbon completes the look.

They compliment each other without being too matchy-matchy

Hydrangea, pine cones and a sheer ribbon strategically placed inside the hurricane

An ordinary glass pitcher becomes extraordinary with gold acorns and pine cones of varying sizes.
A simple cranberry colored ribbon completes the look.

Glass wine decanters filled with hydrangea leaves and simple gold balls individually cut from a gold chain --
Just waiting for more ribbon to complete the look!
More challenging was to figure out how to decorate the Bistro tables. The small table-tops make this tricky since their purpose is totally utilitarian. I was told nothing except candles. Candles were wanted and needed. I tried playing around with the flameless variety but they just looked so very tacky. Looking around I saw some small glass votives that had been used on the school property before. I decided to work with those. Inspired by the cranberry and off-white linens that we chose, and limited in budget I looked around my kitchen for some inspiration... something that would go well with the hydrangea and the pine cones and the acorns.
And there it was. Inspiration. On the counter right in front of me. Sugar and cranberries. Sweet. Simple and sophisticated.  We were getting someplace... but we still had further to go...

Sugared cranberries are a fun way to add holiday flare to your home or event

A canning jar gets a whole new look. Cranberries strategically placed on top of white sugar
to simulate the look of freshly fallen snow. Some jewel toned garland adds a nice finishing touch.

Cheap plastic berries get a new look with a thin layer of gold paint and a pretty ribbon

Among the acorns we found these still attached to the stems. We added some gold paint and tied a ribbon around it.

A hot glue gun secured everything into place to dress up the jar.

My strawberry jam jar gets a whole new look!

I love the 3 small white ornaments tied to the orange ribbon but we all agreed it was a little too
Christmassy for an Autumn Evening of Wine and Food!

Our works in progress... more to come!

Decorating for the change of Seasons, Organically

When the seasons changed my great grandmother promptly got her house ready. She had summer drapes and winter drapes. Summer bedding and winter bedding. Each room underwent a seasonal makeover of sorts. While I would love to swap my linen for velvet, pastels for burgundies and swap out my bone china for heartier, earthier tones I cannot do this. I have neither the funds nor the desire or inclination to do all this work! Your home can transition seamlessly from summer to fall by using a few simple items collected from the garden, backyard or orchard!

I'm a huge fan of bringing the outdoors in. I am a huge fan of decorating with nature and using items that can be recycled. I adore decorating with fruit. I love the bright and vibrant colors and I especially love the fact that, unlike freshly cut flowers, fruit can be eaten and enjoyed. When it starts to wilt it can get recycled into pancakes or muffins or breads or even as an oven-top potpourri. Fruit is inexpensive to decorate with and can be as aromatic as freshly cut flowers.

It is apple and pear picking season here in New England. Most of us pick much more than we can consume. Of course we can bake them, but why hide their beauty. The fall fruits have such wonderful colors -- warm reds, yellows and greens. These fruits should be displayed... and then enjoyed!

Some ideas ...
Nothing could be more simple than placing some apples in a bowl or arranging them on a large platter... or floating them in water. Don't limit them to your kitchen. Display your season fruit bouquets proudly in dining rooms as center pieces, living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms. Really, fresh fruit can be placed anywhere you would place a vase of fresh flowers.

Nothing says cozy and warmth and romance and autumn like these apples that have been turned into luminaries. Again, place these in any room of the house. The same can be done with certain gourds and mini pumpkins. Place a couple in a bathroom when company is expected, or line your walkway with them to light up the path at night. Is your mantel to bare? Too boring? Place these apple luminaries on your mantel for a simple, elegant and festive look. Perhaps red does not go with your decor. Don't be afraid to use red, yellow or orangy apples.

I have always adored these golden pears by Martha Stewart. Lightly brushed with gold powder, these ordinary pears receive a festive sheen perfect for any elegant holiday dinner party.

Look no further than your backyard for inspiration. A vase filled with acorns is so simple and yet so exquisite.

Add some acorns and nuts to a hurricane vase with a white pillar candle and you have something simple, stunning, autumnal, affordable and eco-friendly!

A simple boxwood wreath, a few nuts and a candle. Simple, elegant, festive and pure genius!

I simply adore pine cones. Though usually associated with Christmas and the colder months, simple brown pine cones, of all shapes and sizes look smashing in these apothecary jars... or arrange them casually in a nice off-white serving bowl.

String a few together and you have a festive garland that can last you throughout the holiday season. Simply change the color of the ribbon... start with an orange ribbon for fall and Thanksgiving and swap it out for a red or green one for Christmas.

We love to paint our pine cones. Mix the pine cones on a large platter with acorns and apples, real or plastic for a smashing centerpiece. Some of the pine cones are silver, others are gold, and others are white. The acorns were give a once-over in gold paint as were the plastic apples. I tossed in a few extra ornaments that were lying around with nothing else to do for the final touch. No need to toss the items when the season is over. They will all store nicely in a box or plastic bag.

Image, courtesy Martha Stewart

Perhaps you live in the South where pine cones and acorns are hard to come by. No worries, for this clever idea you have to look no further than your pantry for bags of dried beans and lentils to dress your pillar candles and pumpkins. For this you will need some wide double-stick adhesive tape and an assortment of mixed beans. Carefully roll the candles and pumpkins into the beans. You will need to fill in the holes by hand.
The same can be done with coffee beans, as seen below.

Coffee and candles make a lovely pairing as well!

If you like these ideas, be sure to visit my post on Cranberries. One of my absolute favorite and versatile seasonal fruits ever!

Getting your home ready for the holidays need not cost much and can be done in such a manner than we can all reap the beauty from our backyards!

Decorating for The Holidays with Mother Nature

If you've been reading my blog for a while now you know that I love to bring the outside inside. I love to use nature as a tool and an inspiration to my decorating. It's beautiful and it is free!

A couple of years ago I made this centerpiece. I gathered pine cones in assorted sizes, as well as acorns and painted them gold, silver and white using regular poster paint. I then took a few really cheap plastic apple ornaments that frankly were quite ugly. (My mother is famous for giving me everything she wants to, but cannot toss!) I painted them lightly with a coat of the gold poster paint as well. And finally added a few of the smallest ball ornaments I could find lying around the ornament boxes in the basement.

A few pine cones have broken over the past few years but there were still plenty enough to create a new centerpiece!

If you want to recreate this at home you will need:

* One or two foam paint brushes. These are disposable. I don't want to ruin a good brush on the pine cones.
* A bucket filled with pine cones and acorns of assorted shapes and sizes
* Newspaper to work on
* Gold, silver, white or whatever color paint you desire

Paint your objects and let dry several hours on newspaper.

Find a pretty bowl, platter or large plate and arrange your items to your liking.

And, for my fabulous southern and coastal friends, fear not! I have a delightfully wonderful ornament for you!

This brilliant idea came from my friend Maya at Completely Coastal. I adore her blog and have to see what great things she has on there daily! Maya, in turn, got the idea from The Stories of A to Z... a new discovery for me... I'll be back for more!

I just love this ornament! I have some small pieces of sea glass that my 8 year old collected in Maine last summer. This will be his project for certain!

In order to make this ornament you will need a plain glass ornament, some sand, some shells or beach glass and a funnel to use to pour the sand in to the ornament. It doesn't get easier or prettier than that! (I'm thinking a pretty pink or lavender bow to tie on to the tree!)

Now I am waiting for Maya to come back to me with a creative way to use my 30+ oversized clam shells the kids collected in Newport this past summer! No pressure Maya... I'll wait... and wait and wait and wait! ;)

Don't forget to enter my Holiday Giveaway in the post below!