Decorating for Fall

Sep
21


I’m on a decorating binge–the autumn extravaganza in which I celebrate my favorite colors (treasure gold, burnt orange, deep-dark green, wine red) in memory of the glory that was summer and anticipation of the splendor that is to come. Then there’s all that other fun stuff: pumpkins and scarecrows, ribbons and straw, gourds and berries. It’s all fodder for home decorating and the great thing about it is that it carries through Thanksgiving. I’m not a big Halloween decorator, so I skip that one completely unless Princess decides to have a Halloween party. She has declared there will be no big party this year, though she may invite over a few of her friends for a sleepover. In that, case, I’m sure there will still be my annual graveyard cake involved.

But for me? What I love?

It’s fall decorating. I stick little scarecrows in everything I can, mostly big pots outside. I use them inside in vases, too. This one is in an old Blenko vase in the garden window in the kitchen.

I love to use home-canned goods in decorating. I enjoy seeing the things I love on a regular basis, not just in the pantry. I love home-canning, and I love the images of ripe peaches on the tree and apples falling on my head and blackberry bushes attacking me that come with seeing the jars on display. I like to put dried goods like beans and pasta in quart-sized jars, too. It makes me think of icy can’t-leave-the-farm days when I’ll cook things I’ve stocked up on and huddle in blankets, watching the snow fall over the hills.

I canned some spiced honey recently, with cinnamon sticks and clove-spiked lemon slices, and it is so good. It will be even better on crisp, cold autumn mornings on toasted Grandmother Bread.

This is a copy of The Farmstead Egg Cookbook, also in my garden window. I put all sorts of seemingly odd things in there that just make me feel good while I’m doing dishes. I love the image of the eggs on the cover. I think of my chickens and the day when I’ll have a full egg basket.

And I just believe in this one.

This is the centerpiece I made for my coffeetable this weekend.

It includes little pumpkins and gourds, pine cones from the old farmhouse, black walnuts from our farm, and a bit of grapevine with dried grapes.

Then I played around with one of the grapevine wreaths I made the other day. The leaf garland cost $1.50 and the scarecrow was $.94. With the homemade and home-grown grapevine, this wreath for my front door cost me under $2.50.

I’ve got a few other things on hand to play with, so I’m not done. I’m also still planning to hunt up some berries and other things to dry for my other wreaths. I’ll post pictures as I put more wreaths together.

So what about you? Started decorating for fall yet? What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate autumn?





Making a Grapevine Wreath

Sep
18


Wild grapevine is an invasive plant, often called a nuisance since it can actually kill trees. If you live in a wooded area, you’ve probably got some right outside your house and plenty of it! I think it’s beautiful and it’s perfect for crafting wreaths and other home decor. I also love how it lends an enchanted, storybook atmosphere to the woods. I can see Snow White running through the forest, grapevines reaching out to grab her– Oh, yeah, back to the wreaths…. We’ve got grapevines all over our farm, so making wreaths out of them is unbearably enticing. By the way, one more side note, wild grapes are edible, and did you know you can even get water out of the vines by cutting them at the bottom and draining them into a container? Just a handy tip for the next time you’re lost in the woods. If I ever get lost in the woods, I’m planning to sit down and cry. But you. You! You can cut down a grapevine and drain out the water and eat grapes.

To get grapevine down, some muscle is handy. 52 helped me drag these vines down. Okay, he dragged them down while I picked out which ones I wanted. I really wanted this one because it still had grapes attached. I called them berries, which drove him crazy. So I called them berries some more.

Then we wandered on down to the meadow bottom so I could look for things to put on the wreaths, at least temporarily, just for fun, because I like to play with stuff. The dogs came along, of course. You can’t walk a step on a farm without being shadowed by dogs. Which is nice, because dogs make any walk into an adventure, especially if one of them is a Giant Puppy and the other one is Mr. Crankypants.

I grabbed some moss and ferns and wildflowers to take home and play with my wreaths.

And Coco ran up and down the meadow 200 times because she was excited.

Then she noticed the creek.

She stopped for a drink–

–then abruptly wheeled around–

–because she had just remembered her new power over water.

So she ran up and down the creekbed 200 times to reinforce her dominion over it.

Dookie: “It’s not my fault this time. I told you the Giant Puppy was trouble.”

Then we hauled the grapevines we’d cut back up the hill to the farmhouse in the truck.

And I proceeded to make a huge mess on the porch while pruning off leaves and stray branches from the vines.

Right after this picture was taken….

….in which, to answer the question, I was not wearing any pants….I stomped my foot and said, “This is too hard! I can’t get it untangled!” (This is why I wouldn’t make it if I was lost in the woods. I’m such a whiner.) And I promised 52 that I would call them grapes from now on, not berries, if he would help me.

We fashioned half a dozen wreaths out of the bounty we’d hauled out of the trees.

I love, love, love the little curly doohickies on the vines.

Coco, back on the job with her goats, enjoyed snacking along with them on the fresh grape leaves we threw over the side of the porch. She thinks she’s a goat, too.

Then I played around a bit, decorating with the fresh things I gathered in the meadow bottom.

I really love the berries that came with the vines.

Berries. Grapes. What’s the difference? :lol:

How to make a Wild Grapevine Wreath:

If you’re using fresh grapevine, the vines will be pliable and easy to shape. If the grapevine has been cut for awhile, you may need to soak it overnight in water to restore flexibility. Using sharp pruning shears, cut off extra branches and leaves, leaving the curls that will add charm to your wreath. If there are grapes hanging off your vine, leave those, too! Start with the biggest end of the vine and form a circle in the size you want for your wreath. Wrap the vine around and around several times then wrap the smaller end to help hold your shape. You can use wire to help hold things together, if necessary. Place centerpieces or candles inside smaller wreaths for table decorations or make straight wreaths to hang over doorways or windows. Let your wreaths dry for a few weeks before final decorating. (They may shrink slightly when dried.) Decorate with dried herbs, flowers, ribbons, or other seasonal items using craft/floral wire or a hot glue gun.

In the coming weeks, after the wreaths dry, I’ll be decorating them permanently in seasonal frivolity for autumn and Christmas. Some will be to keep, others to give away as gifts. (I’ll post pics of the finished wreaths as I get them done.) Grapevine wreaths are fun! You ever made one?



August 21, 2008 - My Secret Garden

My parents had been visiting for two days already when they said, “Where is your garden?” Me: “It’s that plot of weeds we’ve got fenced in over there…….” That’s why it’s my secret garden. It sounds so much more cool when I put it that way, doesn’t it? We’ve had some struggles with our garden’s...
Read More

June 23, 2008 - I Can’t Even Blame the Deer

We think the thornless blackberries, the peach tree, and the grapes are dead. Curses! What is that about? It’s certainly rained plenty. And so we will start again, replanting the orchard. This farming-from-scratch thing is for the birds sometimes! Why don’t I have an abundant orchard already in action? And, oh yeah, a barn. I...
Read More

May 30, 2008 - My Real Garden

I know when I posted pictures of my obstacle garden recently that many of you felt great pity for me, and I feel compelled to confess that that was not my real garden. I was too humble to post pictures of my real garden and I didn’t want anyone to feel inadequate. But I must,...
Read More

May 18, 2008 - Obstacle Gardening

We got the garden plotted out, got fence posts up, started more seeds (for the second time, after the dogs played salad toss with the first batch), and borrowed my cousin’s tiller. Only….. The tiller stopped working. And wouldn’t start again. No matter what we tried. Big, big garden, and sacks and sacks of top...
Read More

May 2, 2008 - Finding and Growing Ramps

When the trilliums bloom, look for ramps! Ramps (Alliium tricoccum) or wild leeks are the stinky springtime treasure of the Appalachian region–the white parts can be used in cooking similar to a strong onion or garlic, and the leafy greens are just as edible. (See Cooking with Wild Ramps.) You can buy ramps–but where’s the...
Read More

April 12, 2008 - I Won’t Have to Worry about Vampires

This garlic came from Faye, via Georgia. You know it’s potent! Ever grown garlic? This is my first time. Supposedly, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants. It’s a lifeform all to itself that divides and clones mini-me’s and consumes itself in the process. Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? I think this is...
Read More