Decorating with Autumn Leaves; Door Garland and Candle Jars

 
I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on God’s green earth, who appreciates the foliage that Autumn brings, more than I do.  I am mesmerized by it, from beginning to end.  Ask my kids.  They are often amused at how taken I am, with the beauty of this season.  And they’ve certainly come to understand that I don’t want them to miss one bit of it, any more than I do. I get especially excited when we are driving here and there, which with 4 kids I can tell you, we do a whole lot of.  “Oh!! There’s a tree starting to change right there! Do you see it guys?” And as fall progresses., each week is more full of awe than the last. As we go along, I’ll burst out “LOOK!….at that GORGEOUS tree guys!! LOOK AT THE COLORS ON THAT THING!!”  I’ve startled them. And they’ll be like, “We know Mama! Watch where you’re going!”  It’s true. I probably shouldn’t be driving at all in the Fall. Certainly not during peak foliage week.  There is just a span of weeks in this season, where the trees are all I can talk about, everywhere we go. Sometimes, I feel God made Autumn, just for me. Perhaps not. But gosh, it sure feels like such a gift of love.

The peak beauty of the season, is really all too fleeting for me.  I want it to stay just as it is in those weeks, forever.  At least, I want to save as many beautiful leaves as I can.  But I’ve never found a great way to preserve them for a while, until this year. Oh yes, there was the waxed paper trick but, I heard that never worked all that well.  And besides…..Confession of Domestic Shame:  I really hate ironing.  So when I learned that using Glossy Modge Podge really worked well, I was so excited to try it.  And I immediately started dreaming up a very simple, very rustic leaf garland for my home.

The kids helped me Modge Podge countless leaves they had collected for me, over the weeks.  We had them drying and being pressed between the pages of newspapers and magazines all over the house. I’m willing to bet we’ll be finding several we missed finding again, well into spring.  But I found you can actually Modge Podge a fresh leaf right away, anyway.  I do recommend the Glossy medium. I tried the Matte finish just as a test, and it seemed to strip the color, and not look very impressive once it was dry either. Something about the Glossy really does enhance the color of the leaf, and add lustre.  To Modge Podge (MP) the leaves, we just poured some MP in a non-pourous bowl, and used foam brushes to apply it to our leaves, doing the back of the leaves first.  Then you can lay them on newspaper or whatever, until they dry. They don’t really stick anywhere as drying, because they are not flat or heavy.  MP is so easy to clean up anyway.

I wanted my garland extremely simple and rustic.  Jute was just the kind of string for the job. I love this stuff.

I took 4 pieces of equal lengths of the jute, knotted the ends, and twisted the quadruple strand quite a bit before push-pinning it over the frame of our sun room french doors.

Then, I just stuck my leaves in between the twisted jute string, arranging as I wanted to, all the way across.

There it is. Done in like, . . .a couple of minutes.
And I didn’t fall off while standing on the chair I had to keep moving, even once.
(Although I think I had my husband and kids nervous, because they kept reminding me to be careful. That might have to do with the many happenstances I have had. But not this time!)

Look how pretty!  Honesty….my heart is racing a little bit right now, just looking at them. 
No two alike….such beautiful shapes and colors.

Do you see that long pointy leaf? After being out and about collecting leaves, the kids came running in, so excited to give me that one. They call it my giraffe leaf.  I love giraffes, and they saw a giraffe skin pattern in it. I do too now.  I felt the love, and that leaf makes me smile even more than all the rest now.

I also used the glossy Modge Podge to apply more leaves to jars.  I love that you can just slap that MP all over the jar with a foam (or flat bristle) brush, and everywhere it dries where there is not a leaf, it looks like frosted glass.

Isn’t it beautful?
I’ll warn you that this project took a little more patience than I had anticipated. Certainly not as easy as my garland! It’s worth the little bit of trouble I think though! It’s just that the leaves, which I had MP’d the back of, as well as the jar, don’t want to lay down flat right away. It’s all kind of slippery. It’s only once the MP glue starts setting a little, that is starts sticking as you need it to.  You need to MP over the leaves too anyway, so I kept kind of poking the leaves down where they were sticking up. Once the whole jar was dry, I did one more final coat.  Oh and I just let stems hang free off the glued down leaf. I liked them that way anyway, if they didn’t want to stick.

They give such a warm glow of radiance.

I can see myself doing these same projects with leaves every year, from now on. And other preserved leaf projects I’ll think of I’m sure now too. 
I so enjoyed every minute of working with the leaves, and I am so very happy I found a way to preserve them, and let the beauty live on in my home, as the world around us outdoors drains colorless.

Thanks for coming by, and listening to me go on and on about my love for the colors of Autumn.
It sure was an amazing Fall season this year, and I thanked God for it every day.
Do you get a colorful foliage season where you live, in the Fall? And if so, have you done anything with the leaves?

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Getting Creative with Pumpkins

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On Sunday after mass, we went and picked up our pumpkins, having planned to paint some for our home decor.  It’s such a wonderful and inspiring time of year, and we were really looking forward to this project.

The kids worked together on this white pumpkin, below.  The polka dot theme was inspired by September’s issue of Better Home and Gardens.  The circles were embossed with an plunger-type apple corer.  While the directions instructed to insert the completely cored out pieces from other colored pumpkins into other colored pumpkin’s holes, (which is a great idea), we opted to just just partially carve a circle, and paint it in. We didn’t have enough different colored pumpkins to do the other way anyway. The kids all worked on this one together.

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And it came out great!  So fun and whimsical!!

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I was really excited about a design idea I saw in a magazine last year.  That particular project suggested using paper doilies as a template.  After going to 3-4 stores that were out of doilies completely, or didn’t carry them, I came up with Plan B….have my husband cut some designs out of vinyl, and use those as a template! : )  Seemed like a great idea, but applying a flat piece of sticky vinyl to a very round pumpkin, was a challenge and 1/2, to say the very least.

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I had intended on painting it with some black acrylic I bought, until we tried some gouache markers we had.  They colored in like a dream…the coverage was unbelievably perfect, fast and easy.

pumpkin-masking

I thought this big pumpkin was my own to work on, but soon had begging helpers who got to work with me too. It seemed you couldn’t really make a mistake, so I let them join in.  I was anxious to peel off the vinyl template anyway, so the more hands, the better.

pumpkin-decorating

But I got too excited, too soon. When we peeled off the template, it had really bled (a lot!) underneath the edges of the vinyl.  What a mess. While the designs look pretty dang nice in the end, I can’t tell you how much cleaning up I had to do on the first big pumpkin. (The one we are painting in above.)  I mostly used the edge of an x-acto blade, but also some wet q-tips and a pencil eraser for the light smudges left.  Talk about tedious work.  But it was worth it to me. : )

Just 2 pumpkins took so much longer than I had expected, so after the kids went to bed, my husband and I got to work on the other big one, with acrylic paint and a sponge brush this time.  It went pretty easy still, and came out much cleaner.  Some cleaning up to do still, but not nearly as much.   Then we did the little ones, and I was sad when I turned around and realized we did the last pumpkin!  I wanted to do more!!  I just LOVE them. and can’t decide exactly where to put the 6 we did around our home, because I want them everywhere, in every room!

Below are all of the ones we did. We may do more if we have time this month.  If not, this is a project worth doing again next year.

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Today, the colors of Fall we have seen so far, continued to inspire everyone…..

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We’ve only just begun to enjoy our harvest festivities!  We have so many places we want to go, plans and ideas for creating, crafting and baking, and can only hope we manage to get them all in!  We don’t want to miss a moment of the joy this season brings.

Thanks for dropping in.  Come by again soon.  : )