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!

Adventures In The Great Outdoors – Fall Style

Ever since I can remember, I have loved the outdoors.  Fall was no exception.  I used to beg my parents to go on weekend picnics in the fall.  True, partly I liked the “Live It To Beaver” image I thought a family function like this would bring but mostly I wanted to enjoy outdoor family fun.  Jumping in the leaves that we had to rake on the weekends was fun as well.  I can remember as a teenager dating (yes, we went on dates, we didn’t “talk” as the term is used today) and some of the best dates included riding or walking through the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.  Everyone visited Mabry Mill – it was a sure sign of fall and traditionally everyone went there to view the leaves.

Brynn singing in the rain

Brynn singing in the rain

I have to say my fondest memories; my best times are always when I am outdoors.  And, it was just in the last few years that I fully grasped the healing power of nature.  Sorry readers if I repeat myself in my posts but I have an important point to make.  As I wrote in my posts, Let Nature Restoreth Your Soul (And Your Home) and A Breath Of Fresh Air, nature is a powerful elixir.  It restores you in ways nothing else can.

No wonder that intuitively my whole life I was drawn to nature.  No wonder I felt the importance of teaching a love for the outdoors to my children.  Now, I hope to teach others through my writing and speaking of how important it is to connect or reconnect with nature.  I passionately believe that as part of humanity we must both singly and collectively connect with nature.  We must spend time in nature and then bring it indoors.

Recently I stumbled on a book by Richard Louv.  He wrote a book called, “Last Child in the Woods”.  He also coined the term, “nature deficit disorder”.  Take the time to read his book or certainly take the time to understand what he means by this term.  It is very thought provoking.  I for one absolutely, positively get where he is coming from.  We are seriously becoming a humanity of what I call participants in “man”ufactured fun.  We play indoor games, watch TV indoors, and exercise indoors.  If we spend time outdoors it is still in “man”ufactured ways more often than not.  We play tennis, soccer, go to football games and so on and so forth.  Vacations tend to be in places like Disney World.  Beach vacations are often spent shopping and putting our children in day camps while we play golf and tennis instead of lazing the day away together fishing, swimming, crabbing and walking the sandy beaches looking for shells.  If we do go exotic, we tend to go to tropical resort areas.  If you ask me, these places are just another man-made, “man”ufactured replica of another resort simply plopped down on a different island or locale.  What happened to real woods?  What happened to real lakes, ponds and streams?  What happened to real adventure that only nature can provide for us?

Don’t get me wrong.  I do believe that there is a time and place for everything.  But, as technology (and corporate greed) has grown our distance from nature has grown.  This is not something to be proud of for it is from nature we came and to nature we will return.  Why act unnatural and spend life away from it?

Enjoy nature-made fall fun

The season of fall is a spectacular time of year.  The air is crisp and the colors that burst forth from the changing of the leaves are simply glorious.  Every single day rain or shine is an opportunity to step outside and feel fall.  Weekends can (and should) be spent walking, hiking, biking, apple picking, canoeing or just sitting on a park bench or a fallen tree trunk breathing in the fresh air.

The Mullins kids loving outdoors

The Mullins kids loving outdoors

For both of my sons, fall signals the start of hunting season.  For my sister, Bee and her husband Dave it is another season to enjoy sailing the Chesapeake Bay.  For the entire Balzer clan, fall is a special time for the annual father-child weekend at Hunt Camp.   My David and I recently spent a Saturday in Wisconsin apple picking.  Not only was it fun but we are also still enjoying the “fruits” of our labor every day with the apples we picked.  And even this afternoon after David, Sammi and Ansley finish napping (Sammi and Ansley are visiting) we plan to rake leaves and let “Little Bits” (Ansley) enjoy her first adventure in playing in the leaves.  Talk about fun…  Talk about memory building…

Life is an adventure

Ryleigh and Blake working outdoors

Ryleigh and Blake working outdoors

Life itself is truly an adventure.  Figuratively, you never know what is on the other side of the next hill you climb or around the next bend in the road.  The same with exploring nature- it is one great adventure itself.  Remember one of my favorite quotes in my post, These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things, “And I took the road less traveled by”?  Take the road less traveled by.  Take to nature.  Forget “man”ufactured fun and take part in “nature-made” fun.

Yep, Nature is one great big adventure just waiting for you.  Fall is a perfect time to explore it!  Get out there and explore!  Head for the parks and preserves.  You will be glad you did!

David enjoying the “fruits” of his labor

David enjoying the “fruits” of his labor

To exploring nature this fall…

Check out a full album of outdoor photos sent to me by family, friends and fans on my Facebook Fanpage, livinginperfectharmony.  Feel Free to share pictures of your adventures in the great outdoors on the fanpage as well.  Enjoy the fall!