Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fall Nature Hunts...for Winter

This weekend was all to gorgeous not to take advantage of the weather. We spent many hours outside on Friday afternoon in and around our yard. First I emptied out all the contents of my car (so we could trade it in towards a new mini-van...psyche!!!) while the girls rode bikes in the driveway. Baby joined us in her car seat on the lawn. The fresh air did her good and knocked her out the entire time we were outside.

Next, we emptied our front stoop of all the fall decor from our first fall treasure hunt. My oldest has trouble getting rid of things and adjusting to change so she was not happy about tossing the pumpkins in the woods. After a reminder of how we have no room for them in the house, an explanation about how pumpkins eventually rot and a few "suck it up and deal with it" pep talks, we finally moved on to our outdoor treasure hunt for holiday & winter decorating. My goal was to clip at least enough greenery to fill the galvanized tin container I keep on the front steps. So I gathered together my trusty little clippers and the new big ones I got at the last yard sale I stopped at:

First I clipped two types of greenery from our yard - one unknown variety and a boxwood. Then we moved along to the local park for some pine and juniper.

Reaching for new heights this year. :)
The kids honestly had no interest in helping me clip branches...

My two year old insisted, "I can do it myself!!!!" and pushed the stroller with the baby and our loot half way home after I was done clipping.

After I was done collecting, I spread out my piles of treasure by my front walkway to see what I had. I like to clip a variety of greenery to get different colors and textures. 

Then comes the fun part of putting together the arrangement.

Front View

Top View
Berry collecting is also usually included in my annual end-of-fall treasure hunt for winter decorating elements. I usually stick with wild rose hips and winter berries because they last all winter. I had already collected enough wild rose hips last month and then I sort of stumbled across winter berries last week. By late November, once all the trees are bare, my eyes just gravitate toward red berries in the woods and on the side of the road. Winter berries can be a challenge to harvest for a few reasons though. One, they often grow in places I just can't get to. I may see them as I'm driving by but after pulling over and getting out of the car, I discover they are growing out of a swamp at the bottom of a 15 foot embankment. Or, they are on private property. I've pulled some crazy and dangerous stunts trying to reach and clip winter berry branches in the past but I won't clip anything that is clearly on private property. Other times, like last year, I visited a few locations where I had struck gold in the past, but someone else had beat me to them - I could tell they had been freshly clipped and there was nothing good left. Big bummer. As a last resort, last year I bit the bullet and just bought a few sprays from a local florist but I vowed not to do that this year...or ever again! 

So, as I was driving home from the grocery store last week I couldn't help but notice a decent sized winter berry bush right on the side of the road with easy access. Be still my beating heart! I turned around and pulled over. I didn't have my clippers with me so I just got busy breaking off lots of branches by hand (as I prayed no one I knew drove by me looking like a crazy woman) until my front passenger side floor was full of crispy bright red berries. I drove home all giddy as if I'd found gold bullion on the side of the road! I left the mother load on a chair on my porch until I was ready to use them.

After I'd filled up my bucket with greenery on Friday afternoon, I was ready to pepper in the berries. Here's my final product (though I still may add a red and white checked bow to the front):

And while I was at it, decorating the front entrance for winter, I decided to take my old sled and skates out of the shed and put those on the other side of the stairs. Not that I want to think about snow.

Our not-so-grande front entrance
Apparently this little cutie didn't mind thinking about snow because this was the shirt she pulled out of her drawer to wear on Friday:

And now we move on to indoor decorating. Not yet sure if this will call for another hunt and gather or not...

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