Harvest (Candy) Corn from Pumpkins & Other Edible Delights...

Harvest (Candy) Corn from Pumpkins & Other Edible Delights!
Not so in the natural world...but in the world of Frugal Luxuries anything is possible!!
See how by visiting !
See Nature's Prettiest Bowls on the same visit!



"The only thing we ever have is what we give away."
--Louis Ginsberg

A Gift Pantry (tm) from our past.
The following is excerpted from Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons,
by Tracey McBride, published by Bantam Books, 2000

The Gift Pantry may become your most valuable tool for celebrating each phase of the year in a joyous, creative, and simple fashion. For those of you not familiar with the concept, a Gift Pantry is a collection of gifts and packaging materials---homemade, home-grown, and/or purchased--kept readily available for future use. By stocking a Gift Pantry year round you may discover, as I have, that you will save time as well as money. Most important, a Gift Pantry greatly contributes to your peace of mind, allowing you to relax and enjoy the festivals of the season.
"The only gift is a portion of thyself"

Although there is no other aspect of the holiday season that creates more anxiety than selecting thoughtful gifts for family and friends, the art of gift-giving need not break your bank account or drain your time and energy. Here are a few ideas to help make your holidays artfully simple.
  • GIFT CERTIFICATES [& CARDS] Gift certificates [& cards) area always a welcome present. Who would not enjoy receiving the promise of a meal to savor at favorite restaurant? Your presentation will be even more creative when you wrap the gift certificate with a menu from the same restaurant! Simply ask for a menu when purchasing the gift certificate [or download and print one out from the Internet].
  • THE GIFT OF MEMORY A loving gift for older or grown children and grandchildren is to assemble a special book, or recipe box, with a collection of all your favorite family recipes. Don't forget to gather recipes from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on. Each year you may add new recipes as well as appropriate sayings and footnotes as to what is most remembered about that particular recipe. This thought gesture will provide a lovely gift that will grow with your children, or offer your grown children a true box of memories from their youth.
  • ADOPT A NEEDY FAMILY If you exchange gifts at your office you might want to start a new tradition. Instead of giving gifts to one another, jointly adopt a needy family. Gifts of donated money, food, clothing, or toys can be presented to the family in need.
  • PRACTICAL GIVING One Christmas, a friend of mine gave her elderly parents and in-laws an emergency kit to keep in the car. It contained a firs-aid kit, bottled water, enough canned food to last one person for two to four days, a flare, and a thin, insulated blanket bout at a camping store. Packaged in a sturdy plastic box, these are the kind of practical gifts that people seldom think to buy for themselves.
  • RECYCLED TREASURES Monogram a set of vintage stemware for a newlywed couple's first Christmas, have a child's name engraved on an antique silver baby's cup or spoon, or delight a friend who enjoys antique books with one she has long appreciated from your own collection. Gifts need not be new, or purchased, to have value. My mother knew a woman who took an antique clock from the wall and gave it as a Christmas gift to a friend who had always admired it.
Taken from Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons, by Tracey McBride, Bantam Books, NY, 2000.


...A Few More Illustrations of Nature's Bounty.

You've probably already noticed that photography isn't really in my skill set.
I was going to post a picture of the full mantle yesterday...
try as I may, I could not get a clear quality photo of the entire vignette.
Today, I gave it another try...sadly...this is the best (i.e., clearest) shot
I could come up with. I added a few close-up shots of the corner areas...
these are a little better than the one directly above...but not much!
Hopefully, I'll have a bit more knowledge of my equipment
when the time comes to photograph the Christmas mantle!




Here are the promised photos of how we implemented
the use-what-you-have philosophy
to create eco-friendly, budget friendly, double-duty holiday decor!
In these photos I've used my favorite Acorn squash;
oranges from my Dad's tree (no-one’s quite sure what variety they are as they are tiny
...a little larger than kumquats);
and a variety of seed pods gathered from the garden!
Place them in wooden or ceramic bowls and use as table centerpieces
(see article below for details & more decorating ideas).
Caution: The candle in the bowl is for LOOKS ONLY!
(Obviously, DON'T light the candle or you'll have a bonfire!!)
The apples were an afterthought...
I couldn't resist the great price...
organic apples on sale for 88-cents per lb at Frazier Farms.
The bowls took all of ten -- fifteen minutes to gather and arrange...
The mantle took about twenty-five minutes due to the twinkle lights.
Spent very little Money (almost none)
Barring the squash ($1.19 each at the farm stand) & apples.
I'll eat them once the holiday is over (cut squash in half & baked with a little butter & sea salt--yumm). The twinkle lights were from Christmas a few years ago.
After Thanksgiving I'll replace the autumn-y colors/things with Christmas ornaments
and fresh evergreens from the garden (such as Rosemary, Eucalyptus, & Pine).
The twinkle lights & candles will remain
(I'll replace the tiny oranges around the center candle with cranberries or??).
Doing this saves time, money and is very very green!


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).


Autumnal Double-Duty Decor

Better Late Than Never...
I should have shown this idea about a month ago,
I'm sorry to tell you it didn't occur to me to share until now!
(Something to file away for next season, perhaps.)
Each autumn I try to do a simple autumn theme instead of a Halloween theme.
For the record, I do put a happy (not scary) jack-0-lantern sign out front
as well as a vintage style jack-0-lantern bucket that we use as sort of luminary...
inside I put about six tea lite candles which are lit on Halloween night.
These two items are taken down on November 1st, but I leave the fresh pumpkins and lanterns up until Thanksgiving. After which I will bake pumpkin pies from the fresh pumpkins (look for upcoming photos and how-to's in ).
I will also leave the lanterns up and include them in our Christmas decor !

The little vignette above is atop a half-moon table on our front porch.
It is so charming when the candle is lit at night,
the window behind it looks into our kitchen and adds a nice flicker inside as well as out.
The little wooden sunflower fell off our door decoration and I thought it was so cute I reused it here.

The above shot is from our porch looking out to the side.
The lantern and the two bird houses stay up year round
while the centerpiece
...a fresh pumpkin atop an iron urn...
changes from season to season!
Easy and double duty.
The Olive Tree in the back ground always wants to join us on the porch...
by growing through the opening!
As well, little squirrels sometimes beg food from the near branches
...yes...we feed them from time to time (it's so hard to say no!).