Simple And Natural Holiday Décor

Ever since I can remember the Christmas season was a wonderful time for decorating.  As a child, I can remember watching my mother decorate and then as I got older I enjoyed helping.  Our yard was the source for most of our holiday decorating.  We had a huge Magnolia tree in our backyard that my mother and I used to clip beautiful branches from.  We also had numerous pine trees (we had six planted in the front yard alone – one for each of us siblings) and Holly bushes laden with red berries.  With all of these items collected, we would spend hours decorating the fireplace mantle, the front doors and the dining room table.  I loved all these found things from our yard and I also enjoyed the collecting and decorating we did with them.  But, I viewed this part of  holiday decorating as a quick, simple and inexpensive plan – after all we only needed to step outside to collect natural elements for free!  Once I had my own home I realized that the most beautiful holiday decorating comes from natural and found things.  You sure can’t smell artificial greenery!

Carrying on the tradition

So, throughout the years my home has traditionally been decorated with much of the same things that I grew up with.   Greenery comes either from the yard, leftover trimmings from the tree or from the woods.

When my children were young we used to love to sit in the evenings together watching Christmas specials and movies like “Miracle on 34th Street” while we strung popcorn to use as garland on the tree.  Talk about memory making – a slow, relaxed evening stringing popcorn as a family can’t be beat!  And, who cares how much popcorn you eat along the way!

Year after year my three children traditionally hunted (yes, Sammi did, too) during Turkey and Deer Season.   No holiday season was complete without them returning home with mistletoe they had shot down from the trees for me to hang.  It was a wonderful holiday tradition they enjoyed.  What memories we all have of them bringing the mistletoe home to me and then hanging it in the foyer as a symbol of love in our home.

As you can see, using elements of nature in my holiday décor is important to me.  This makes my home beautiful in a non-commercial way!  And, I love the smells, the freshness and the feelings natural decorating gives to my homespace.  Why not incorporate some natural decorating in your own home this year?

Ways to go natural

Here are some simple suggestions that you can use either decorating alone or making it a family affair for building memories and traditions:

  • Use fresh greenery from outdoors to grace your front door, staircase, mantle, dining table or coffee table.
  • Gather found things in nature like dried pods, dried wildflowers, dried hydrangeas, pinecones and twigs to artfully arrange in baskets or as part of your garlands and centerpieces.
  • String popcorn and cranberries and use as garland to hang on the Christmas tree or as part of your fireplace garland.
  • Decorate lanterns with nuts or cranberries nestled around a large candle.
  • Surround a grouping of candles with fresh greenery with red berries or other found treasures of nature artfully arranged throughout the greenery.  A grouping of candles looks beautiful on a console table, mantle, coffee table or any other space you can safely allow candles to be placed.
  • Make a centerpiece for an occasional table with a small log.  Cut the log in two.  (Plan to use the cut side on the table with the uncut side facing up.) Using a circular saw cut three holes in the uncut side of the log and place small candles or votives in the holes.  Nestle the log on a bed of fresh greenery.
  • Artfully stud oranges with cloves and place in a wooden bowl as a centerpiece for your kitchen table, coffee table or hearth.
  • Hang Mistletoe in doorways or from your foyer chandelier.

Whatever style home you live in, whatever décor you enjoy- you can incorporate nature in your holiday decorating.  Go outside today and pick from nature’s bounty wonderful things to grace your home with.  And while you are there, breathe in the glorious fresh air!

Happy decorating…

Be sure to check out Living in Perfect Harmony’s Facebook Fanpage each day of December from Dec. 1- 24 for daily decorating tips and helpful hints for the holiday.  Enjoy the season!

Home – Through the Eyes of My Son

Ben, three years old

Ben, three years old

Today is my son, Ben’s birthday  (I call him “Bub”)– he is 33 years young.  He is the oldest of my children.  The world totally changed for me the day he was born.  Nobody’s going to tell me there is any real responsibility in life until you have a child.  Everything else is simple stuff if you ask me. As I have often said, you aren’t playing in the big leagues until you parent a child.  Ben put me in the big leagues for sure.

Some days I think he is wiser than I am.  I call him an old soul.  Sure, he drives me nuts at times but most often I enjoy listening to his unique view on life.   He’s a little bit liberal where I’m a little bit conservative and he’s often a little bit conservative where I am a little bit liberal.  This makes for some wonderful conversations! I have even learned to enjoy times of silence with him in the last few years.  I believe it is in these moments of silence together that I learn so much about him – merely through being together.

My Wish for my son

Ben and Kathleen visit Chicago

Ben and Kathleen visit Chicago

Ben married a wonderful woman in 2007. Kathleen and I have a great relationship and have shared many moments of commiserating over his quirks and what I gently refer to as his “issues”.  I always remind her that yeah, I birthed him but honey, you chose him!  Ben and Kathleen got engaged in November of 2006 and married one year later.  I needed every day of that year of engagement as I needed time to prepare myself for the mother-son dance at his wedding.  You see I chose a powerful song by Rascal Flatts, My Wish.  It said so eloquently all that I wanted to say to him.  I literally listened to it every day while I exercised or worked in my garden to prepare to dance with him without crying buckets and buckets of tears.  Seriously, I listened to that song several thousand times.  To this day it still chokes me up as it expresses all I wished for him on that day and every day after.

There are many times in the last 33 years that have been special to me.  There are even a few times I regret the situations we found ourselves in as mother and son.  Forget those – I want to talk about the wonderful ones.

My grown-up son is a little bit Fred Sanford, Archie Bunker and Tim, The Tool Man wrapped all in one with a HUGE heart and an incredible analytical mind.  He loves dark beer, slapstick comedy, Civil War history and anything in nature.

From the time I first explored nature with Ben I saw his love for it.  Searching for rocks, walking in the woods, berry gathering – you name it.  We did it together.  I also loved reading with Ben, hearing about his antics with his imaginary friend, My Friend Monkey, working in the yard (he had his own little lawn mower and would follow behind me) and now as an adult simply spending time together in whatever capacity possible.  He has even unknowingly given me the title for my book I am writing, And so…The Shadow Woman Emerged as a few years ago he gave me a book for Mother’s Day on Native American History.  This book gave me the inspiration for the title of my own book.  Thank you dear son.

So, today is his birthday.  I wanted to give him a gift from my heart so I decided to write about him on my Blog.  I asked him to give me his top five things that are important to him in his home.  I wanted to hear directly from him what they were in order to write a post from his point of view.  What I got was oh so much deeper.  I found a new side of my son.  His words he wrote told me who he is in a way I never paid attention to.  What an incredible gift he gave me.  While reading his top five, I got to visualize him deep in the woods where he finds the most peace.  While reading his top five I felt closer to him than I ever have.  I could hardly read through it all as the tears flowed for this man that my son has become.  What started out as a gift to my son (this post) has turned out to be a precious gift for me.  Clearly, it exemplifies that it is in the giving that we receive the most.

HOME according to Ben

Here are the answers to the question I poised to him the other day of what five things were most important to him in his home.  Except for a few typos he made, I have copied what he wrote word for word.  I hope you enjoy!

  1. Keeping a clean and organized home.  Without that my life outside of home feels discombobulated and stressful.  It is easier to do things when you see them than it is to procrastinate and try to do them all in one day- plus you never know what else will come up.  I try to improve at least one thing in my home each day.
  2. I am not a hoarder, but a bit of a pack rat.  I don’t like to waste things that can be used later.  When I fix things around the house I try to use things that I already have instead of buying new.  For example, my wife and I got a new knife set for Christmas one year and we put the old one deep in a kitchen cabinet.  I decided to sharpen them one day and guess which set we use now?  It seems as though sometimes fewer is better.
  3. Fire.  I love fire.  We have a fireplace in our living room with what I think is a beautiful mantle.  There is nothing better in the winter than a few beers and a roaring wood burning fireplace.  We also have a fire pit in our backyard.  I designed it, dug it and built it myself.  It declines from the front to the back inside the pit and the rock wall does the opposite.  With the absence of very strong winds, it always draws in the same direction.  I specifically planned it this way with both the way it is placed in the yard and the seating around it.  The fire pit always draws a crowd when friends are over but I can also sit there by myself for hours and feed my love for nature.
  4. My garage and tools.  There are few things I enjoy more than tinkering in my garage.  I have quite a collection of tools and enjoy doing everything from hands on tasks to fix up the home to simply cleaning old tools and arranging them in order so I can find them when they are needed.
  5. Guns.  As I am writing this I am sitting in a tree stand in South Carolina with a deer rifle across my lap.  Don’t worry, I am still peeking up every few seconds and scanning the woods with my eyes looking for meat.  I love everything about guns.  How they look, feel and sound.  I have an extensive (probably excessive to most) collection of guns.  Everything from old style black powder rifles to the new stuff you see in the movies.  Each one is special to me in its own way.  I enjoy shooting them in target practice and in hunting, cleaning and disassembling them and taking them apart.  I will never have too many.
Enjoying a fire

Enjoying a fire

Ben (Bub), you already know what my wish is for you today ~ just listen to the song once more.  Happy birthday and love forever and always…

Mom

For any of you reading this today, humor me – google the lyrics to ”My Wish”.  Read the words carefully and then hand them to the universe as a prayer for every person you encounter.  Wishing that life were all that someone wants it to be is a powerful wish.  Reach out and touch someone today with the words of this song.