photo credit: grongar on flickr
Friends, meet Lauren. She’s our featured guest blogger who has some really great ideas about decor in your home that comes from outside. I mean, seriously, how easy is that? Dear high end home decor stores: Thank you for your beautiful displays but I can actually get what you’re selling by walking about 5 steps from my front porch. You with me, here?
Fall is the time of year when nature is abundant outdoors. But as the weather gets cooler, you may decide to bring some of the outside in by incorporating nature into your décor in the form of centerpieces and earthy artwork. Here are four ways to bring a little bit of nature into your home this fall and winter.
1. A Centerpiece
Photo credit: Eden Pictures
A centerpiece display is a great way to add a focal point to a room, whether you decide to place it on the fireplace or the dining table.
Fall is full of color and beauty, so your centerpiece should contain a mixture of the season’s most beautiful elements.
Choose a bowl where you can add your favorite pieces of fall. Rustic, earthy colored bowls work well at this time of year, but a see-through bowl is equally as appealing as you will be able to view the contents easily. Then, all you need to do is head out into the great outdoors and start foraging. Look for interesting shaped leaves in stunning colors, earthy twigs, pine cones, conkers and wind fallen fruit such as apples and pears. Arrange your findings into an eye-catching display in the bowl, and then display it proudly for all to see.
You could even scatter jewel-colored leaves down the centre of your table like a runner, and place tealight candles (in holders) in the gaps in between the leaves* for a casual, romantic look.
2. A Wreath
Photo credit: theogeo on Flickr
An attractive, handmade wreath to attach to your door is a fantastic way to make the most of bounty of fall. There’s no reason why wreaths should be reserved just for Christmas.
Making a wreath is incredibly easy. Once you have the basic framework you can make your final design as elaborate or subtle as you like!
Head out toward a woodsy area and gather a good amount of twigs. Choose ones that bend easily without snapping. Avoid any with sharp spikes or thorns. Start with one twig and intertwine it around another. Repeat with each twig, until you create a circular shape. Keep going until your wreath has some bulk and depth to it, and when it feels secure. The hedgerows and trees in autumn are brimming with berries, so add a few berries to the wreath to give it a warming color. Pine cones look amazing nestled within a wreath and don’t forget that ribbons and bows can all be added too!
Photo credit: Tomoaki INABA on flickr
One of Mother Nature’s most splendid treasures has to be fall leaves; the colors are just beautiful. Enjoy autumn leaves inside the home by making your own artwork.
Go hunting for your favorite leaves seeking out maple reds, vibrant yellows and dazzling golds. Press the leaves in the page of a book until they are flat. Next, take a picture frame and carefully glue the leaves onto a white backing, to be mounted inside the frame (similar to THIS). You can hang the leaf pictures in any room of the home, to remind you of this beautiful time of year. As well as using leaves, seek out unusual flowers and seed heads to add to your picture.
4. Fall Bunting
Photo credit: Forest Wander flickr
Fall is a time of celebration. It’s the time of year we are grateful for the gains of the harvest, as well as a time to reflect on the joys of nature that come with the changing seasons.
Celebrate this time of year by creating your own bunting, which you can drape across the ceiling or hang down from a lamp or door (like THIS). Get a long piece of string and carefully attach leaves to the string at intervals, by either threading the leaves through or stapling them to the string. If you’re using bunting bought from a store, then attach leaves to the triangular shapes on either side, by using glue or staples. Hang up, and enjoy!
Lauren is the in-house blogger for www.ashbrookroofing.co.uk. Her favourite season is autumn and she starts preparing for bonfire night in the UK well in advance of the actual day (her Guy Fawkes parties are notorious in her home town!) When she’s not busy imparting roofing knowledge she enjoys running, cooking and reading a good book.
I love planting all my flowers in the spring, watching them grow, and the daily ritual through the summer of watering, fertilizing, dead-heading and pruning. To me, nothing is better than having your hands in warm soil with the sun on your face. But…now the long days of summer have come to an end, and although the turning Fall leaves are beautiful, the chill is creeping into the air and winter will be here before we know it. All my beautiful green stems have turned to sticks, the soil is soggy and all my flowers are dead and ugly.
I have to fess up…I’m a terrible gardener. Once the weather gets that bite to it and my plants aren’t entertaining anymore, I lose interest quickly and my focus turns to upcoming holiday crafting and baking. If not for being plagued with guilt, I’d just tuck my pots full of soggy soil and craggy limp sticks somewhere I couldn’t see them during the winter, let the leaves pile up on the lawn (they’re really beautiful to look at…), and be done with my yard until Spring.
But I can’t. I think back a couple months ago when my lawn was beautiful and green, a cascade of color was spilling from the pots on my deck, and my flowerbeds were full of an interesting variety of herbs and flowers. Damn! I can’t just turn my back on them, but I’ve got holidays to prep for and my sewing machine is calling my name.
So what is the very minimum I need to do to give myself peace of mind that I’ve put my plants and lawn away for the season? Beats the hell out of me – a gardener, I’m not. So I contacted Teresa, an old friend of mine who owns Executive Gardening Services here in Washington. She knows her gardening, and was kind enough to provide the following must-do’s for prepping your yard and garden for winter. Here’s what she wrote…
1. Rake Your Leaves
There are people who don’t mind raking leaves, but a lot of times it’s only for one purpose…so they or their kids can JUMP in them! Who can resist a pile of leaves that are just begging you to do a swan dive into them? I love it too! But after the fun’s over, there the pile of leaves sit. It seems the part of leaf raking that most people dread is the picking up, bagging and disposal. I even know some people who have actually cut down all the trees in their yard just so they don’t have to rake every year. I think that’s a bit extreme, but that’s how deeply some folks detest the chore of raking leaves.
So why is it important to rake and dispose of my leaves?
- If you don’t get the leaves off your grass…they will kill it. If you rake them and leave them in a pile on your lawn, the grass underneath will be dead in the spring and will take months to grow back. Getting rid of leaves is very important for the health of your grass.
So what if you don’t rake them at all and just leave them where they fall?
- The same thing will happen, in varying degrees of die-off. Where the leaves are in a thicker layer, more grass will die-off. Thinner layers of leaves will have less severe die-off, but the grass will still be compromised.
I’ve got pine trees. Will the needles and pine cones hurt my lawn?
- Yes. You need to get all the debris off your lawn in the Fall…that includes pine cones and pine needles. These materials are bad because this type of plant debris is acidic in nature. As they decompose over the winter, they leach acidity into the ground beneath them. If they’re left to decompose on your lawn, that’s not good!
2. Clean out your flower beds and flower pots
There are two types of plants; Annuals and Perennials. One comes back the next year, the other one doesn’t. Which ones do you yank out in the Fall, which do you cut back, and which ones do you just leave alone?
First, let’s talk about Annuals (click HERE for list)…
Annuals are the flowers that grow and bloom for one growing season, last through spring and summer, and then die over the following winter…never to return. When it gets cold, usually around 27 degrees or colder, annuals freeze and die. The whole plant completely dies, including the roots.Those of you residing in southern climates know this is not a hard and fast rule, but it is definitely the case if you live in a state that has four distinct seasons, and cold winters (like where I live, in Washington State).
So, what do I do with my annuals to prepare for winter?
- Once your annuals have lived out their summer life and the Fall leaves have started collecting around them, pulling up your annuals in the Fall is just basic house cleaning for your flower beds or pots. It’s not imperative that you pull them out, nothing terrible will happen if you don’t, but it just makes things look so much more tidy once all that dead stuff is cleaned up and gone.
Now, let’s talk about Perennials (click HERE for list)…
Perennials grow and flower through the growing season, just like annuals. But unlike annuals who die at the end of the growing season, perennials will grow back again the next spring!
Not all perennials bloom, and most do not flower for the whole growing season. Before I go any further, let me explain in a little more detail exactly what I mean by “dying back.” Perennials above ground foliage freezes and dies, but unlike annuals, their roots do not. The roots continue to grow below ground, albeit slowly, over the winter. In the Spring, when the temperature warms the soil and there are longer days with more light, they begin to regrow their foliage. Magic!
Okay, so how do I prep my perennials to return in the spring?
- Here’s what I do. I cut the stems back to a length of about 8 inches and call it good. There’s nothing more to do. Great, right? But here’s where Fall clean up game rules get a little fuzzy. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to do a thing to your perennials over the winter. You can just leave the dead foliage in place, where it is, and forget about it until spring.
What are the advantages, in your opinion, to just leaving them alone?
- Leaving the foliage on creates visual interest in the winter garden landscape. This is especially true if you have seed heads or plants with firm stalks that remain upright and will gather frost beautifully or hold fresh snow on their heads. Lovely to look at in the dreary dead of winter!
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- Leaving the foliage in place also performs a beneficial function, by insulating the base and root of the plant from excessive freezing temperatures. This can kill the plant, especially if we have a winter where there is little to no snowfall. Snow, in spite of being a cold and frozen substance, is also an insulator that provides a ready source of moisture for plants in the late winter before the spring rain.
- The last good reason for leaving perennial foliage in place is what I personally practice in my own home garden. When I’m truly stir crazy and desperate to get outside after months of enduring a long, cold, dark winter, it gives me an excuse to get out in my yard and start gardening before it’s really warm enough to do anything else. Gently pulling off dried leaves, or snipping off dead stalks, is just the ticket if you are a gardener who’s dying to have something to do outside in the early spring.
Are there any advantages to cutting my perennials back?
- Sure! If you cut them back in the Fall, everything is all clean in the spring and you’re ready to go! All you have to do is wait for things to start growing again. How fun is that?
So there you have it. Thanks, Teresa, for the tips! Looking out my office window today, it looks like they may not be kidding about the forecast of light snow next week. Guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. Have you prepped your yard for winter yet?
Cozy hot drinks have been a staple at our house since the colder weather hit. There’s nothing better than snuggling up to a giant mug of festive goodness.
We’ve found a bunch of different pumpkin spice hot white chocolate recipes. We tried a few and just couldn’t land on anything that had the pumpkin spice flavor with a mix of rich chocolate. Even if you use expensive chocolate, it tasted bland.
Then I got to creating my own version. It’s quick, cheap and easy. None of the frilly crap and tons of time. Whip it up, drink it and be happy. After all, it’s the holidays.
We are pinning all of our pumpkin recipes on our Pinterest board “We Love Pumpkin”. Follow us HERE
Summer has come to a close, meaning the problem of mosquitos lingering around will (hopefully) not be as big a problem with fall approaching. But what isn’t seasonal? Fruit flies. Everyone hates those pesky little flies that you’re swatting for days upon days. Knowing the preventative measures to take before bringing your produce home, may keep you from having to fan your face while trying to watch T.V. No worries, I will share preventative measures you can take to avoid fruit flies, and what you should do if you already have a fruit fly problem.
Preventing fruit flies: Don’t invite them in.
- Don’t buy produce from the store that already has a fruit fly party on it.
If you see fruit flies on the produce you buy, there will most likely be fruit fly eggs on your produce when you bring it home.
- As soon as you get home, wash your produce with warm water and mild soap.
As soon as you unpack your groceries, WASH YOUR PRODUCE. You can bring fruit flies into your home unknowingly by the flies’ eggs on your fresh fruit and veggies. This is also a wonderful reason you should wash produce before you eat it. No one wants to eat fruit fly eggs or fecal matter.
- Keep your kitchen tidy regularly.
We all get a little tired in the evenings after a long day and decide to just leave the dishes, pans, or wine glass in the sink to wash the next day. This will actually attract fruit flies from outside your home, and encourage them to come inside your home. If you can bear to stay awake for just a few extra minutes, do your dishes and clean up dinner before going to bed at the end of the night.
I already have fruit flies, so now what?
- Clean vigorously. The more you can clean your kitchen area after the fruit flies have made unwelcome company in your home the better. Clean all surfaces, dishes, rags, dispose of old fruit, and wash all good fruit again. The reason fruit flies become a huge and overpowering annoyance, is because their lifecycle is very short. You need to eliminate all chances of fruit fly eggs from hatching and reproducing again.
- Set a trap. You can trap the living fruit flies by either making a cone cylinder and placing it into a jar, or covering a jar with plastic wrap and poking a few tiny holes with a toothpick or knife. Fill the jar with vinegar, rotting fruit, jam, or wine. Fruit flies are attracted to the smell of fermenting, so you can use anything that is rotting or sweet smelling if you don’t have any vinegar. The trap works because the fruit flies will be attracted to the smell and will find a way to get in, but they won’t be clever enough to get themselves out, and will eventually drown.
- Clean again. Cleaning is really important after you’ve caught all the fruit flies, because you want to make sure there are no eggs in your kitchen waiting to hatch. Keep and maintain a clean kitchen for the next few days, and leave out the trap to make sure you catch the stragglers.
I hope these tips and tricks will help you steer clear of fruit flies who try to make an unwelcome entrance into your home.
Maya Rodgers prides herself as a wife, the mother of two children, a pet owner, and pest control consultant for Terminix. She enjoys sharing her expertise in pest control by sharing useful tips and tricks with bloggers. She also loves writing and living as green as possible.
You can check out Maya’s blog at Pets and Pests for additional tips and tricks for eliminating fruit flies and other pesky pets.
All I can think about is cooler weather, cute sweaters, pulling out those boots, drinking warm drinks and a cozy home. I’m literally sitting in 90 degree heat and can’t wait for it to go away. Ask me how I feel about all this in February and I’ll be begging for the heat.
While dreams of fall are dancing through our heads, we should take advantage of our excitement and get a bit done. You haven’t turned on your fireplace in awhile, your gutters may be all mucked up, your air filters have still been working (even though you may not think much about it) and the inside of your house has started a nice little dust collection in the places you don’t see until company arrives.
Fall preparation includes both indoor and outdoor projects.
Many of the following projects can be completed now or two months from now. Simply download the document at the end of this post, print and place in a visible area so you aren’t too late to complete a project.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Spray off house, patio and/or deck.
- Wash outdoor furniture.
- Clean grill.
- Scrub down outdoor play equipment and toys (prep to cover).
- Drain and store garden hoses.
- Blow out sprinklers.
- Trim back and tend to any outdoor plants and bushes (prep to cover).
- Replace air filters.
- Clean fireplace and chimney.
- Check (test) heat/furnace.
- Clean fans and vents.
- Clean off any spiderwebs and/or cobwebs.
- Touch-up paint.
- Change and replace light bulbs.
- Clean the oven.
- Replace batteries on smoke and carbon dioxide alarms.
- Clean refrigerator (including the coils around back).
- Rearrange cupboards and drawers to place all baking, crockpot and winter-time cooking supplies near the front.
- Clean carpets.
- Flip mattresses.
- Change the candle or wax scents for the season.
- Rearrange closets (summertime clothing in the back and cute winter stuff in the front).
- Clean out toy bins and kids’ play areas. Donate toys.
- Dust like crazy.
- Do an all-over deep clean. This includes baseboards, walls, doors, etc.
Shall we start this party early, friends? I, for one, am in. I am so sick of the same dirty places in my house and am ready to get rid of everything. My house just feels gross sometimes.
Have I said too much?
Follow our free checklist exactly or add projects of your own.
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