fa la la la la, la la la la!
Yes it’s merry making time over here. Our house was on the holiday house tour again on Saturday so our home feels spruced up, festive and bright!
On Sunday we celebrated St. Lucia and had breakfast by the fire. We kept the flames going all day while we made cookie dough to be baked later this week along with chocolate covered apricots, a Christmas tradition since I was a girl. We also made beeswax dipped pine cone ornaments. The house smelled divine!
If you don’t know be my now I am a forager. I may have been a squirrel in my past life as I am always collecting from nature. Rocks, twigs, pine cones, antlers and feathers are scattered throughout my home. I forage year round creating vignettes with my finds reflecting the seasons.
My foraging radar is on full tilt at this time of year as I scour for greens, pinecones, osage oranges and magnolia seed heads to decorate with for the holidays. Yes, it may be a lot easier to buy greens at the market but foraging for decor is much more fun and it’s free! Plus there is so much more variety out in the wild and your decor will be much more original. I tend to create decor that speaks the season rather than the holiday which allows for it to last well beyond Christmas.
This past Sunday I taught a workshop called Foraging for the Holidays where I brought in baskets of foraged finds. I had so much fun giving foraging tips and telling stories of my foraging adventures. Everyone went home with a handmade creation from the wild. Below you will find a few of my tips from the class.
Foraging for the Holidays
~Send out an email or Facebook post to friends and family in search of greens. Most people are happy to share.
~Host a greens exchange with friends where everyone brings clippings and finds from the wild or backyard to exchange with one another. Serve cookies and cocoa or even better, wine and chocolate
~Keep supplies in your car at all times. You never know when you will happen upon a foraged jackpot! Sharp clippers and a saw, heavy duty gloves to protect your hands from scratches and sap, baskets for collecting small things like pine cones, a log carrier for larger branches, waterproof boots, and bungee cord or rope for that mother load that may have to be strapped to the roof of your car.
~Starting in November keep an eye out for fallen debris especially after a storm. Be sure to pull over at a safe spot on the side of road when collecting and turn on your hazards.
~If you spot fallen finds on someone’s property don’t be afraid to knock on the door and ask if you could partake. Most people would be thrilled to have it cleaned up.
~Collect foliage with an array of textures, shapes and hues. Aside from green seek out blues, greys, chartreuse and yellow. Mix and match different textures and colors in an arrangement. Add twigs for height.
~Fresh hardier herbs such as rosemary or bayleaf make a beautiful accent to a holiday arrangement.
~Add form and texture with pinecones, magnolia seed heads and osage orange.
~Search out branches with pine cones still attached. They look beautiful added to an arrangement of other greens but also all by themselves hung on a door or window. I like to use them as trellises or stakes in a pot of forced bulbs like paper-whites or amaryllis.
~Wood is a versatile, beautiful addition to your winter decor. Tuck a few candles in little nooks and crannies of your wood pile for your next party. Cut a log into thin disks of wood, drill a small hole in each and string wire through to add to garland or wreaths.
~Create outdoor vignettes with what you have. Pull things from the garden like trellises or oblisk and add to pots of greens for height and dimension.
~Add accents to store bought wreaths and garland. I admit I do buy a few cheap wreaths and simple pine roping each year but then add an array of other greens to add more bulk, color and texture.
~Add greens to store bought bouquets to add height and variety.
~Use foraged greens to fill in eye sores like empty pots, planters or window boxes. String in some twinkle lights.
~Pick spots to decorate that are visible from the indoors. I like to add greenery to my window boxes where I can enjoy the view as I wash dishes or eat meals.
Well October and most of November came and went and with it Halloween and Norah’s 9th birthday. It has been a very sad and emotional time for me but also very peaceful and beautiful. My Pop whom I talk of often here in this space fell ill in the beginning of October. We celebrated his 89th birthday on October 15th and on Halloween we lost the greatest man there ever was. Words cannot express the loss and sadness I feel but also the deep love and appreciation I have for all that he has taught and given to me. He lives on in all of us, his family who he loved so dearly.
I am so lucky to have his beautiful work throughout my entire home as a reminder of how much he loved and cared for me. He is everywhere which makes it hard at times but so comforting.
I will miss his deep voice, his scent of sawdust and salve, his smooth hands, twinkly eyes and smile. I’ll miss making lunch for him, visiting him up in his office, our great conversations, and drawing up plans together for my next project.
I will forever have him in my heart and will never forget to say my prayers and will always strive to love my neighbor.
He was such a good, good man.
You can read more about him here.
Oh autumn how I love thee! Yet another excuse for me to create new little vignettes to reflect the change of season. Like I said before mother nature doesn’t need much help in creating the most beautiful of scenes but I can’t help it sometimes to lend a helping hand.
At this time of year it is hard for me to walk past the many varieties of gourds and pumpkins sold at the market. I like to combine different colors and textures and stack them on top of one of one another and then look for places in my backyard space that could use some height and dimension as well as a pop of color. I choose places close to the house like the patio and by my back door. They bring a smile to my face each time I pass by.
Although there is still much blooming and growing in the garden, I have had to remove a few plants from some pots that have petered out, a perfect place for a few pumpkin towers. I love how they look nestled in with trailing vines and herbs.
Oh and speaking of herbs, head on over to TEND where I write about one of my favorite herbs, Lemon Verbena.
Happy Autumn friends!
I miss this space. I miss the rhythm and routine of coming here.
Our summer was a beautiful, bountiful and busy one full of many new adventures along with much tradition.
I am ready for fall though. It is a time of renewal for me.
I have begun to bring the gifts of this new season indoors to incorporate into our decor. We are eating squashes, brussels sprouts and dark leafy greens and soon soup will be a weekly meal.
We have a trip to the orchard planned to pick loads of apples to turn into sauce to can for winter as well as for holiday gifts.
And soon there will be daily trips to the woodpile.
I feels good to be back.
We have been having such a fun summer full of new experiences along with tradition. We are slowly but surely crossing things off of our summer manifesto and since we still have a few weeks left I am more than confident that we can fully complete it. It’s a simple and achievable list just as manifestos should be.
One of the things on our list was something that Hannah and Norah have been dreaming of doing for over a year now and it was so fun to watch it all evolve and come to fruition this past Sunday.
They have always wanted to create a real live restaurant at our home so on Sunday family and friends came out to 121 Cafe, a backyard restaurant offering homegrown and seasonal foods.
The menu featured pasta dishes made with homemade pesto and tomato sauce, farm fresh salads, breads dipped in herb infused olive oil, peach blackberry crumble, mint iced tea and lemonade. We used as many ingredients as possible from our own backyard as well as our local farm. They worked all week preparing, cooking and gathering.
There were 2 seatings, one at 5pm and one at 7pm where the girls worked as both hostess and waitress for 26 people total. We set a table on the back porch, one on the patio and 2 out on the street for a true alfresco experience.They made their own menus, check slips and even doodle pages for kids to draw on.
Many times throughout the night they kept running in to the kitchen thanking us for helping to make it all happen. We all had a blast and fell into bed that night marveling at and appreciating the many chefs, cooks, waitresses and restaurant owners out there. We definitely got a small dose of how much work is involved!
At the end of the night the girls were thrilled to find that their own hard work had paid off making a profit of $200, half of which will be donated to our local fire company.
It had been almost 13 years since Chris and I have had a little getaway together just the two of us. That was until last weekend when we headed down to the shore room.
As much as we love being together as a family of four it was so lovely to be alone for a few days. We didn’t do much out of the ordinary than what we usually do down at the point. Although while out and about on our bikes we did stumble upon a new vineyard and Chris convinced me into an afternoon tasting smack in the middle of the day. I love totally unplanned adventures.
I think we must have said to ourselves at least 10 times throughout the weekend “and why don’t we do this more often?”
We already have a getaway planned for the fall.
A few days before we left for the lake we had a little “Pie on the Porch” party. I like to host monthly pie parties in the summertime for an excuse to bake with seasonal fruits and to eat it with friends. May and June flew by too fast so before July left us we invited some of our favorite people over to eat peach/cherry crumble and calflouti. Yep no pie. But there was sangria so all was forgiven.
How to host a “pie on the porch party”
Don’t have a porch? No worries! The idea is to get outside on a summer night. A patio, balcony, deck or backyard will suffice just fine.
Don’t have enough time to make a pie? Pie crust just isn’t your thing? Don’t fret! Crisps and crumbles take no time at all and are just as yummy if not more. Or how about a calflouti. a tart, brown betty or trifle? It’s all about enjoying fresh seasonal fruit in some form or fashion so how about just fruit atop whipped or iced cream.
To make things simple serve a featured drink of the evening. Making a pitcher or punchbowl of something like sangria or mojitos can allow the host to sit back and enjoy. Highlight what’s growing in your garden by using fresh herbs like mint,lemon verbena, or basil. There are so many delicious summertime cocktail recipes out there. Ice is key for many drinks so make sure your freezer or cooler is stocked with it!
Serve a few savory things to nibble on to balance the sweet. I made the watermelon-basil-feta cubes I wrote about a few weeks back.
Make a playlist of your recent favorite tunes. Or break out the record player and vinyl.
String some twinkle lights around tree branches to make things a bit festive.Scatter votives about and have a lighter in your pocket ready for sundown.
Keep bugs at bay. Have a few bottles of natural bug spray on hand for guests. Light a few citronella candles. Bring out an oscillating fan. (we have found this to be the most effective way to keep bugs away!)
For the younger folk offer a basket of flashlights for flashlight tag, sparklers, or mason jars to collect fireflies.
At some point in the evening tuck a little pie or crisp away for breakfast in the morning!