Category Archives: Decorating Ideas

Fall Decorating the Natural Way

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m wanting to move toward a simpler, less-cluttered life. And for the fall season, I’m thinking about how I can decorate and still keep things simple. Decorating with natural things is appealing to me because after you’re done decorating, you can recycle your natural decorations in a compost pile. Or you may be able to work it into your decorating for the next season (pinecones, for example, work great for both fall and Christmas decorating).

I made the centerpiece shown above with some small pumpkins and dried hydrangeas–they make such a pretty fall combination! I just placed the pumpkins in a shallow wire basket and filled in the empty spaces with the dried hydrangea flowers. This arrangement can work as a centerpiece. Or display it on a coffee table or sideboard.

As you’re doing your fall decorating, you may be doing a little cleaning, too, like cleaning your windows before the cold weather sets in or cleaning your floors. So here are some tips if you’re needing some nature-themed decorating inspiration and simple DIY natural cleaning ideas:

  • Create a welcoming home entrance by decorating your front door with a wreath made with colorful leaves and/or other fall foliage. Pinecones or gumballs from a sweet gum tree make a nice-looking wreath too.
  • You can also use items from nature (pinecones, branches of colorful leaves, gourds, pumpkins, or pots of autumn flowers) to add a natural touch to your decor throughout your home.
  • Display fresh fruit in a bowl or basket. Apples look great in wooden bowls and this makes a great fall table decoration or centerpiece.
  • Candles make everything cozy and beeswax candles are a good choice because they are long-lasting and burn clean. Soy candles are clean-burning, too.
  • Lanterns also add a cozy feel to your decor, whether you use real candles or the battery-powered ones.
  • Using seasonal pillows and throws on chairs and sofas is an easy way to add an autumn feel to the  furniture you already own. You can carry the “natural look” through by using pillows and other accessories made with natural fabrics like burlap, linen, and cotton.
  • Use a burlap or linen table runner in your dining room and decorate with displays of small pumpkins or gourds, or a “bouquet” of colorful branches of leaves.
  • Wicker baskets add a natural, rustic touch and are great for storing odds and ends or for displaying potted plants in.
  • Use fresh seasonal flowers in a vase or potted flowers throughout your home and on your porch for a punch of color.

  • Use dried herbs and fruits from your summer garden in an herbal potpourri mix to add natural fragrance to your home. In the potpourri shown above, I mixed dried orange slices with cinnamon sticks, fresh rosemary, and fresh oregano. I let the herbs dry right in the bowl, and they still have a great fragrance after they’re dried. You can also create a mix of dried citrus peel from oranges and grapefruit (cut in smaller pieces or strips), cinnamon sticks, and/or dried apple and orange slices. Or mix herbs like dried lavender and rosemary (and some eucalyptus if you have it) and display in a small bowl.
  • Another use for dried herbs–if you have a wood-burning fireplace, you can toss dried rosemary and lavender twigs into the fire to create a nice aroma.
  • Before you add any seasonal window decorations, clean the glass with a DIY vinegar and water mixture. Use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, or for dirtier windows, use equal parts vinegar and water. Put mixture in a spray bottle and shake to mix.
  • For a natural, light, general cleaner around the house (on things like countertops and tile floors), mix 2 Tablespoons of baking soda in 2 cups of warm water. Add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a soft fragrance.
  • Use a linen spray on your bed sheets to add a soft, relaxing fragrance to the bedroom. Just put 1 cup of water (you can use distilled water, too) in a spray bottle and add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil; shake to mix and then lightly spray on linens. Shake this mixture each time you use it (as you’re getting your home ready for fall, you may also want to turn your mattresses and vacuum both sides, just to keep things fresh).

Hope you are having fun decorating for fall! Do you have any natural decorating tips of your own?

Sharing at Happiness is HomemadeThursday Favorite Things,  Inspire Me Monday.

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Autumn Bouquets

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I am such a jar and bottle-saver! I save glass jars and bottles of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I was starting to get quite a collection and running out of space to put them, so I thought I’d make some autumn bouquets to give to my flower-loving friends.

I love the variety of sizes and colors of these bottles! Each one of them had some sort of food item in them–after the contents were used up, I removed the labels on each bottle so I could reuse them as vases and tied autumn-colored ribbons around them before filling with flowers.

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These three glass bottles were all once containers for vanilla, almond, and orange extract.

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These two jars originally had jam in them.

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Another unique-looking bottle and jar: the small clear bottle in the foreground was from Cracker Barrel (it was a miniature maple syrup bottle–the kind they give you when you order pancakes). The larger brown glass jar in the background is actually a vitamin jar. Who would’ve thought it would make such a great vase?

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This vintage-looking soda bottle was from Cracker Barrel, too–they sell a variety of vintage sodas in their country store, and some of them have such great designs, you hate to toss them out!

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This bottle is one of my favorites–it has a long neck and a rounded base, so no worries about this tipping over! This originally had some white wine vinegar in it.

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And this large bottle had some apple juice in it–I love the detail of the leaves at the top of the bottle–much too pretty to get rid of!

Most of my labels came off pretty easily just by soaking the bottle in hot soapy water–I left the bottles in the water overnight. But sometimes I come across really stubborn labels, and on those, I sometimes use nail polish remover. I’ve also heard that Goo Gone works too, although I haven’t tried that yet. If you use products like these, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area.

Are you a glass jar and bottle-saver too? Using them as vases is one way to upcycle them. Do you have other ways of reusing pretty jars and bottles?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy and Show and Share at Coastal Charm.

A Spring Branch Bouquet

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Dogwood trees are starting to bloom where I live and their blooms are so pretty! The Redbud trees are also blooming and their rich color looks so striking against the other trees that are just starting to produce small leaves.

I decided to pick a few blooming branches and make a bouquet–something I had wanted to do last spring, but by the time I thought about doing it, the blooms were past their prime. So here’s how my “Branch Bouquet” turned out–I just combined 2 Dogwood branches with 3 Redbud branches and I think the different blooms look so pretty together! You could use other kinds of blooming branches, too–Forsythias, Pear Blossoms…whatever type of blooming branches that are growing around you. It brings a nice touch of the spring outdoors into your home or office.

You could also use this idea to make a pretty Easter centerpiece for your table!

Do you have any pretty blooming shrubs or trees in your yard?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me Monday, Wow Us Wednesday, Favorite Things Thursday.

Spring Fever

I had to make a quick trip to the mall and ended up staying longer than I intended because I was admiring some pretty Spring and Easter tableware and decor at two of my favorite stores, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma! Teal, light and bright greens, and nature-inspired neutrals seem to be big color themes for the spring season. These happen to be some of my favorite colors–no wonder I was so drawn to the store displays! 🙂 (Photos shown in this post are from Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma)

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At Pottery Barn, I loved all the teal in the table settings displayed right by the front entrance. The tableware looked great with the natural color and texture of woven place mats, along with some burlap and twine accents–so springy and outdoorsy! The inside store display I saw looked very much like the set-up in the photo above, featured on the Pottery Barn website.

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And I thought these bunny cupcake stands were sweet–they also work great for mini pies and tarts or cookies!

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I also liked these nature-inspired basket fillers

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…perfect for creating your own woodland baskets!

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The teal-green-neutral combination also looked great in other home accessories…

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…like this brightly-patterned pillow.

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I thought this embroidered butterfly pillow had a great spring feel, too.

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And I loved all the glassware in spring colors, especially the teal!

img45cWilliams-Sonoma also had nature-inspired designs in some of their spring tableware

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…and they have a new Botanical Citrus Collection which looks very springy.

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You can always find fun baking accessories there, like this Buttercup Cakelet Pan. How cute is that?

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And I saw these cookies later on their website–some great Easter cookie decorating inspiration!

Do you have Spring Fever like I do? Have you found any inspiring Easter and Spring decorating, entertaining, or gift ideas out there?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

33 Different Uses for Mason Jars

I’ve become a mason jar-saver, and I have a small but growing collection of different shapes and sizes that have held jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, and other homemade foods that friends have given me. So I was glad to find a helpful guide at MidwestLiving.com on 15 Ways to Use Mason Jars. Then I found more ideas at a few other sites. These are all great ideas because they’re so simple!

Here are a few from Midwest Living that I plan on using…

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Silverware holders–use each jar to hold a napkin and “silverware setting for one”–the jar can also be used by your guest as a drinking glass. Or organize spoons, forks, and knives in three different jars for a buffet-style arrangement.

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Or you may just want to use the jars for serving your beverages in–they’re great for outdoor parties or picnics because they’re so sturdy!

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Use as containers for forcing bulbs. I love this idea!

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Make an easy centerpiece–just float a pretty blossom in a jar filled with water.

Other Midwest Living ideas include:

Using jars to store dry foods like oatmeal and other grains, rice, lentils, dried fruit, sugar, flour, salt, dried beans, pasta, etc. They come in handy if you buy bulk foods. Add your own homemade labels.

Keep your desk organized–use jars for holding pens, pencils, markers, paint brushes, and scissors.

I found more uses at a site called Care2. They list 50 uses for mason jars! These are the ideas from their list that I use or will use most:

  1. Storing cookies
  2. Storing homemade mixes
  3. Use for “recipe in a jar” gifts
  4. Storing saved seeds
  5. Use as containers for homemade soy candles
  6. Holding sour dough starters
  7. Storing homemade cleaners for the home (make sure they’re clearly labeled!)
  8. Storing cotton balls on the bathroom counter
  9. Storing bulk or homemade shampoo
  10. Storing bath salts
  11. Storing small office supplies
  12. Making sun tea
  13. Use as vases for fresh flowers
  14. Use as containers for homemade candy gifts
  15. Storing sewing notions-buttons and other small items
  16. Use as containers for loose change

These uses are from a site called Keeper of the Home. Here are some ideas I like from her list of 31 uses:

  1. Storing leftovers in the refrigerator–soups, stews, cooked rice, veggies–pretty much any kind of food that will fit in the jar (if you need extra lids, you can purchase some like these).
  2. Store leftover smoothies so you can drink later in the day or take to work.
  3. Keep track of how much water you’re drinking–if you drink from a quart-size jar, you can easily keep track of how much water you’re drinking each day.
  4. Sprouting seeds or grains (you can buy these special lids if you want).
  5. Storing homemade juice or iced tea in the refrigerator.
  6. Keeping herbs fresh in the refrigerator (like green onions, cilantro, etc.) by filling a jar 3/4 full of water, then placing your bunch of fresh herbs in it-the herbs stay fresh longer than if put in the produce drawer.
  7. Storing homemade spice mixes–use the 1/2 pint or smaller jars for this.
  8. Mixing and storing homemade salad dressings, marinades, and other sauces.
  9. Mixing and storing homemade syrups.

And then I found a few more ideas at Yahoo Voices:

  1. Start plant cuttings in jars filled with water (I do this a lot!)
  2. To be more eco-friendly, use mason jars instead of plastic containers for your lunch–they’re a great container for soups and salads.

So all together, that’s 33 different ways to use mason jars–plus all the other ideas at those sites that I didn’t mention!

Do you have a collection of mason jars? What different ways do you like to use them?