The Forgotten Wealth of Nature

This Holiday Season Let Nature (and Your Pantry) Provide.

Double-Duty Decor is...

Eco-Friendly; Budget Friendly; Time-Saving and Elegantly Simple!

"We are lovers of beauty without extravagance."


Don't go nuts. Keep in mind that Christmas is right around the corner, so if you're decorating, try to make your Thanksgiving decor do double-duty, whenever possible.

Before you buy anything, look around your house and garden for items that might work well to embellish your home for the holidays. I like to gather bowls made of wood and pottery in rich, earth-tone colors. Heaped with nature's bounty, they serve as unique, eco-friendly centerpieces for the entry, coffee and dining tables. To fill them I look for interesting seed pods and pine cones ( I also recycle those miniature pumpkins I bought from Trader Joe's for Halloween). Remember to look in your kitchen and pantry as well! Nuts, still in the shell, are ideal fillers, as are some types of vegetables, such as hard squash. These make delicious eating but are also charming to look at and quite sturdy, even when left un-refrigerated for a few weeks. The Acorn squash, with its architectural lines, makes a lovely addition to your autumnal decor--it's rich green color pops when you set it next to the yellow-orange Butternut variety. (You could also put rustic items inside a refined silver or crystal bowl--to create a more startling contrast.) The bonus is that you can eat the squash once the holiday has ended! (Bake it for about an hour, add a bit of olive oil or butter, sprinkle with sea salt and you have a delicious treat--but yet again, I digress). Oh, and let's not forget the classic pumpkin! These are lovely for Thanksgiving as well as Halloween. In fact, we buy several smallish pumpkins (these are the sweetest in flavor) before Halloween and leave a few un-carved pumpkins to serve as Thanksgiving decorations for the porch! If you've carved yours, don't despair, as fresh pumpkins are a huge bargain now. For example, the pumpkin patch down the street from us is now selling them for $1 each. Pumpkins are also delicious when cooked. You may bake and eat them (similar to a Butternut squash) or puree your baked, peeled pumpkin--using a food processor or blender--and use it (as you would canned pumpkin pack) to make amazingly delicious pumpkin pie! (It also freezes well.)

Remember to use nature's non-edible bounty as well. Evergreens--snipped from your yard or garden--provide excellent sources for holiday decorating. Some of my favorites are Lemon, Rosemary and Eucalyptus leaves (with the little bell shaped seeds attached). Cedar, Pine, and Juniper all keep their color and shape for several weeks as well.

Choose colors that will blend with your Christmas or Hanukkah decorations, such as cream or white. I like to put a lot of chunky, cream-color candles in tall glass pillars on the fireplace mantle and window sills. Tucked around them (at the base) you'll find tiny white twinkle lights, pine cones, mini gourds & pumpkins, and a few (well made) faux fall leaves for color (authentic leaves shrivel and crumble after a few days--believe me, I've tried them!). When Thanksgiving is over, I simply replace the gourds, pumpkins and leaves with snips of fresh evergreen from our garden & tuck in a few retro style glass balls in silver, blue, and green (securing them so they don't roll). You can use whatever ornaments you have available.

Another last, little trick is to elevate the ordinary--To give a small pumpkin more importance, I place it atop a small urn we had in the garden. This adorns the banister of our porch, along with other outdoor decor. You don't need to have an urn to do this; a terra cotta planter, or even a stainless steel champagne bucket would work as well. As always, the frugal luxury philosophy is one of creating beauty by way of using-what-you-have; being eco-friendly; budget friendly; double-duty; time saving; and money saving. We are, after all, "lovers of beauty without extravagance." (Thucydides).