Home With Nature
Start your next craft project by simply stepping outside
Make the most of nature's bounty by bringing it indoors to create artful accents for your home. In just minutes you can transform those graceful leaves, textured twigs and beautiful blossoms into a keepsake that can last for seasons to come. Here are some easy ways to decorate with elements from nature.
1. Branching Out
Transform a cheap, dorm-style lamp into a sculptural focal point by adorning its spindle base with a collection of cut branches. Gather five or six dry fallen tree branches, cut them with a handsaw to the height of the lamp base and sand the ends. Clean and dry the branches, then apply several thin even coats of paint to each branch, letting it dry between coats. Use a hot glue gun to affix the branches to the base.
2. A Feast For The Eyes
Indulge the foodie in your family with framed images of eye-appealing edibles. Simply snap shots of vegetables, fruits or spices against plain backdrops with a digital camera, upload the images to your computer's photo program and alter them to your taste (such as making them black-and-white or sepia-tone). Print the images and frame.
3. Simple Pleasures
There's no simpler or cheaper way to bring a burst of natural beauty to a room than by cutting a few vibrant blooms from your own backyard and placing them in a small container filled with water. Try flowering bulbs like sunny daffodils or heavenly scented hyacinths in spring. For summer, opt for fluffy hydrangea, which dries out beautifully. Instead of a bud vase, place the blossoms in a decorative drinking glass, teacup or creamer.
4. Teacup Garden
A dash of dirt and a handful of succulent plants are all you need to create a cute, low-maintenance tabletop garden. Using a drill and ceramic bit, drill a drainage hole about 1/4-inch in diameter through the bottom of a mug. Add a layer of small pebbles to the bottom of the cup, then fill the cup 2/3 full with potting soil. Press in a few succulents and add water—you'll have your very own tiny teacup garden for years and years to come.
5. Picture Perfect
Custom frames can cost a fortune, but not a bamboo border. Purchase a 3/4-inch-diameter bamboo pole from a florist. Measure the desired outside length and width of the frame, and cut two pieces to each measurement with a branch cutter. Then mark the ends at 45-degree angles with a pencil. Use the branch cutter to create the angled ends and sand smooth with fine-grade sandpaper. Brush the bamboo pieces with two or three coats of wood stain, letting them dry between coats. Apply wood glue to the cut end of one long piece and one short piece, and squeeze the two pieces together at right angles, holding until glue is dry. Repeat with all other corners until frame is complete. Use a staple gun to secure the corners further by stapling across the seam. Apply more glue between the seams and wipe clean if necessary. Rest a piece of cut glass or acrylic on top of the back of the frame (the bamboo frame should extend beyond the perimeter of the glass about 1/4 inch all around) and place a mat that's been cut to fit on top of the glass. Glue a feather or leaf to the center of a piece of coloured paper cut to fit the frame. Place the paper facedown on the mat and cover the paper with a piece of cardboard also cut to fit (sandwiching the paper and feather between the mat and cardboard). Next, attach the cardboard to the frame with duct tape all around, pressing about 1/4-inch edges of tape along the frame and pressing the remainder of the tape flat along the cardboard. Insert screw eyes in both sides of the frame, attach a length of picture wire to the screw eyes across the back, and hang the artwork on a picture hook.
6. Sweet Sachets
A scented sachet keeps linen closets smelling fresh long after the warm-weather seasons fade. It's also a great gift. To make one, place a dessert plate or anything circular of similar size on a tea towel or piece of linen fabric and trace around the circumference. Cut just inside the traced circle with pinking shears. Place three or four tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves or ground balsam into the center of the circle and then gather the edges of the fabric around the scented herbs or evergreens. Finish by tying it with a 6-inch-long piece of grosgrain ribbon. Attach a vintage brooch and sprig of greenery if desired.
Easy Small Habits That Add Up
Do these little things regularly to save yourself lots of time and effort later
Each day, hang up everything and put away clean laundry. Put your shoes back in their places, straighten stacks, and have a regular habit of bringing empty hangers back to the laundry room. Remove clothing along the way as you decide to donate it, and put it in your "Donation Station," using a paper shopping bag or box to gather those items for goodwill. Twice a year when you organise and change out seasonal clothing, these habits will keep everything more visible and manageable when you are ready to do a bigger project.
Break down cardboard boxes, manage your recycling and trash, sweep excess leaves and dirt to keep them from tracking into the house, and keep a path cleared between the car and the door. Return sports equipment, chairs, and bikes to their racks and shelves. And each time you fill up with gas, empty the trash from your car right there at the gas pump!
Each time you return from the grocery store and put food away, stop and straighten up what's there. Move cans and boxes for greater visibility, throw away containers with only a few crumbs left and check for stale chips. Reclose cereal cartons and cracker boxes that your family has left open and remove excess packaging from large warehouse purchases like soft drinks, paper towels and snack foods.
Entry and Exit Doors
Take shoes back to bedroom closets, put errand items in your car and clear out mail and papers. Hang up coats, put dirty socks in the laundry room and get the kids to handle their toys and school items once a week.