Natural Thanksgiving Decor

Posted on October 3, 2017 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and if you haven't succumbed to buying faux decorations at the dollar store, fear not. I have a few ideas that make use of nature's freebies. For example, the basket above makes for a great centrepiece or hall table decoration. It's easily made by simply winding together vines. I have a neighbour who cuts down his vines at this time of year and I always get some for decorating purposes. This year a friend of mine put the basket together. He used a wire coat hanger to create frame for the bottom 'wreath' and then built up the handles freestyle. Cost? Just a couple of hours creating.

Something to dress up the back yard. I don't recall the name of this plant - they look a little like tiny pumpkins. I simply plunked a bunch of these twigs into one ofmy vintage sap buckets et voila. 

Light up your hallway table, dinner table or mantel with this garland. String Chinese Lanterns seed pods (Physalis) into garlands instead of traditional autumn leaves. Simple insert a light bulb of string lighting into each lantern and you're done.

They last a long time and work both for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Your welcome. 

Kitchen Table Business - Nature

Posted on August 3, 2017 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

In my last two posts I blathered on about how you can perhaps make some money, even start a home-based business based on paper (and whatever paper you've got in your recycling bin or stashed away in cupboards, etc.). This morning, on my daily walk, I found another resource.

On the grounds of our City Hall that I pass by every morning, I noticed and picked up pinecones and acorns. Then the lightbulb moment came when I realized that resources for starting a crafty kitchen table business are available wherever you look, not just in your recycling bin.

At a local park, I also came across apple trees and rose bushes. The apples were still too small to pick right now, but would make a great harvest soon (apple pie, anyone??). The rose bushes were covered by hundreds of rose hips which can be turned into amazing jelly (rose hips are bursting with Vitamin C!!) and even a healthy tea. I asked the groundskeepers about pesticides and was reassured that none were ever used and that all the produce was free for the picking as long as care was taken not to break or disturb the plants. So there you are - free stuff. If you cook, bake and can preserve, you've got a gold mine here.

Look, the Internet is full of projects and ideas that you can duplicate in your own way if you are truly into starting your own business. Having said that, remember not to just copy someone else's work. Take what you see and like, and find a way to reinterpret it. Something that will make your work stand out. For me, it's taking a process and simplying it. Find your own style and go from there.

With your own kitchen table business, you can work while the kids are in school, for as many or as few hours as you wish and make stuff that someone, somewhere will buy. If you think you don't have the talent to create something, why not sell materials you find. Sell those pinecones and acorns, your old maps and bits of paper, textiles, etc.

Take the time to do some research and to see what is being sold on Etsy and eBay. I was amazed to find that you can sell anything - toilet paper rolls, kitchen towel paper rolls, wine corks, bits of fabric, empty bottles - you name it. Not necessarily creative crafting but if it brings in a few dollars for, say, to pay for supplies you may need for your real craft, go for it.

My point is that materials and resources for starting a craft business are available all over the place, not just in your recycling bin. You can start your own little enterprise at anytime. It just depends on whether you want to put in the work and the time. Stickability is the key. It may not be the way to instant riches, but discovering that it's in your control may bring rewards unimagined.

So as that Nike ad said, Just do it. 


DIY Halloween Leaf Bunting

Posted on October 3, 2016 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I had been out of town for a few days this past week and arrived back on Sunday - the day I take on the little ones in our apartment building. No time to prepare anything (you'd think I'd be more organized by now), so I took the kids out to collect what we could find along the Rideau Canal and Confederation Park. There were, fortunately, loads of pretty fall leaves that hadn't been cleaned up the parks maintenance guys, so, we took a pile home. Now what to do with these? Putting my thinking cap on, I remembered that my friend Colette, who visited me from Germany this summer, mentioning that she likes to paint leaves into miniature 'ghosts' and string them up as Halloween bunting (that's garland to you and me).

So, here's what we did:

First we painted a bunch of maple and oak leaves (back and front) using white poster paint (all I had on hand - and it's easy to clean). As each leaf dried, we added on the eyes and noses with some black paint. When all the leaves were done, we tied the leaves with twine into bunting.

By the way, I covered my table surfaces with brown paper grocery bags and they did not look as pristine as the photo above shows when we were finished.

And here's what we ended up with. Nice.

Christmas Foraging - Into the Woods We Go ...

Posted on October 18, 2015 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I was running around this morning finishing up a few errands when it started to snow. I noticed a fellow across the street from me glance up at the sky and stretch his hand out to catch some snowflakes. We looked at each other and both of us grinned in delight. First snow has that effect. It didn't last, of course; after all, it's only mid-October but it will come and, I'm keeping my figures crossed for piles and piles of this white stuff, especially at Christmas. 

One of the nicest memories that I always associate with Christmas is the scent of evergreen. I can't have a live Christmas tree in my flat as fire regulations and the fact that some people, after the holidays, toss their trees over their balconies to the street below, prohibit the real thing. However, I always have at least one real wreath - one I make myself or buy at the farmer's market.

Heading out into the woods is probably not a reality for most of us but if you can, gather up the kids, the family pet (if you have one), a few baskets or boxes, and get foraging. Let the kids decide what they would like to bring home and be sure that you don't harm any trees or other plants - just pick up what you find on the ground. Once you get home, remember to spread out your finds outside for an hour or two so that any residents inside the finds you brought home have time to scurry out and find new homes!

Below are a few ideas for DIY wreaths that I found online. Some of the things you will need to collect are fresh branches such as willow or grapevine, oak leaves, cones, and evergreen clippings. So get out there and forage.

Bambi Wreath / La Couronne de Noel de Bambi

The gals over at Oui Oui Oui Studio created this kid-friendly wreath with holly branches, oak leaves, tea lights and, of course, a little Bambi toy figure and some white balls. You can easily forage and find oak leaves and willow branches which are flexible enough for the kids to shape into a wreath. If you have any spare round (plastic) Christmas tree ornaments (ping pong balls would also work), get the kids to paint these white. The tea lights are battery-powered so this wreath can easily be one for the children's room.

A Foraged Wreath

This wreath is from a photo shoot at The Marion House. It was one of several wreaths made by Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard for a Chatelaine magazine 2014 article. I liked this one in particular for its simplicity. It looks a bit like the Bambi wreath and everything on it can be foraged from the woods, your backyard, or a local nature park. I pick up a lot of stuff along the Rideau Canal which is close to where I live. I often find acorns, pine cones, twigs and even some evergreen boughs along the path. Of course, it's considered illegal to pick this stuff up but let's that be our secret!

A Traditional Wreath

A simple traditional DIY wreath made using spruce clippings. It's from a posting on Once Wed by photography Laura Murray. Under materials she lists a metal wreath form but as I'm encouraging you to forage, collect some fresh thin branches and wire these together instead to use as the base for your wreath (or you could recycle a wire clothes hanger). Using the branches means you can skip the floral tape, too. Just wire the spruce clippings and cones to the branch base. And skip the glue gun. Oh dear, I think I just completely redid the instructions. Oh, well - frugal me.

DIY Seasonal Wreath

My very favourite wreath is from Treasures and Travels. If I had the wall space, this would be up in a flash. It reminds me of one Christmas when my family and I were driving through Pennsylvania when I spotted a huge rusted barb wire wreath on the side of an old red barn. It's sheer size and simplicity blew me away. Ever since then, I have lusted for a similar (somewhat smaller) one for my home. Somethings, I do believe, are better, bigger.

But I digress. For this beautiful wreath you'll need flexible branches or woody vines (grapevines or whatever is growing in your neighbourhood). If you don't have vines covering your home and a neighbour does, what are you waiting for? 

Yummy Saffron and Cinnamon Wreath

Another traditional spruce wreath posted on a foodie blog and it's owner, Linda, at Call Me Cupcake offers you not only this yummy smelling saffron and cinnamon spruce wreath but an lovely edible saffron bun wreath as well. She jumps around a bit from the real wreath to the bun wreath but it's easy to see how she makes both.

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