5 Way to Use Natural Decorations This Winter

Mother holds a child wearing an autumn leaf crown

Finding the best natural seasonal decorations is easy because they are in your own backyard. You don’t need to buy the icons of someone else’s place and culture when you are surrounded by your own.

As it gets colder outdoors, we often bring reminders of the season indoors with us. This could be the end of the Autumn leaves—the bitter end if you just can’t face raking them up—or evergreens if the world around you has turned mostly grey.

The tradition of bringing evergreens into the house during midwinter is a reminder that the green spring will return. The persistence of green through the stark winter warms our living spaces. Bringing evergreen boughs into the house is, of course, the origin of having a tree during midwinter then, later, Christmas holiday season.

What surrounds your house? Conifers, perhaps. If you are really lucky, holly or mistletoe. Bay. Palm trees. Whatever you have can work as a holiday decoration. This might also be the time of year that you realize you want to plant evergreens next year so you will have more green around you all winter.

My clever child, who is consulting with me on ideas for winter decorations, points out that not everyone has a yard. He doesn’t think that a Festivus pole is enough to brighten up the urban home, so he suggests that you go to the park. Another way to find abundant evergreen is to go to sellers of trees. When they trim trees to fit tree stands, they often giveaway or sell inexpensively the bottom branches.

5 Way to Use Natural Decorations This Winter

Trim the Tree
If you are surrounded by pine cones, tie ribbons to them and hang them on your tree. Pinecones and acorns can be used as ornaments all over the house. Put them up high if you have very young children.

String a Garland
Sew through individual leaves to create a hanging garland. I like to use thick, red thread sewn through the dark green, teardrop-shaped leaves of the bush outside my front door. It adds a nice touch of color.

Make a Wreath
Gather evergreen boughs into a circle and you have a wreath. You may need to use string or wire to hold them, but it is very easy to do. Many people put wreaths on their front door. In my neighborhood, people put them over the lamps in front of our houses.

Surround the Candle
Midwinter is the time for lights, for festivals of lights in many cultures. If you make candles part of your winter decorations, surround them with evergreens. Be careful of using dried leaves near candles, though.

Wear a Crown
Decorate the people! My family like wearing crowns: birthday crowns, holiday crown, or just because crowns. Gather up the last of the Autumn leaves or a bunch of evergreen leaves into a wreath that you wear. You probably won’t want to use conifers, since they can poke as well as leaving sap in your hair. Getting sap out of a child’s hair is no fun. At my own midwinter wedding, I wore a crown of bay leaves because there was a big bay bush in my in-laws’ yard where we held our reception.

Don’t run out and buy those holiday decorations. Look around you and see what you can do with what you already have. Stay warm and green this winter.

Image © Evgeniya Uvarova | Dreamstime.com

Keeping your little one Safe from Critters

While this time of year is generally a bit better for pesky insects of one sort or another, as soon as the sun goes down we are still swarmed by mosquitoes and other nighttime insects. I’d thought I’d share some of the hints and tips that have helped us survive this time of year with our 15 month-old daughter.

  • Try to keep baby covered up as much as possible. Dress in a long sleeved shirt, long pants and a hat. Watch exposed ankles!
  • Dark coloured clothing will attract bugs. Dress your baby in lighter colours.
  • Use only unscented soaps and shampoo as fragrances will attract insects.
  • When the bugs are really bad, use an insect repellent that is specially designed for use on children. We like a citronella-based repellent such as Citronella Moisturizing Milk by Druide which is all-natural and DEET-free.
  • Apply insect repellents to a young baby’s clothing and hat instead of directly on the skin. This will prevent absorption, but still deter the bugs.
  • Wash off insect repellents as soon as possible. Avoid contact on hands and face.
  • Watch where baby walks! Remember that insect repellents do not generally protect against most stinging insects such as wasps, bees and fire ants.

I hope a few of these tips will help prevent your little one from getting bitten or stung by bothersome critters this summer!

Enjoying the sun, fresh air and backyard…

We have our first backyard in our new home here in Ontario which has opened up so many new avenues for us. One of my favorite things to do is to hang dry our laundry out in the sun. We haven’t used our dryer for the entire month of May! We are also starting to learn about composting and in another week we will be planting our first vegetable garden. We prepared the soil over the past few weeks, and it’s about ready for us to plant our carrots, beans, tomatoes and whatever else we can manage. If you’ve got a backyard, I’d really encourage you to take advantage of it! Even if you only choose to make one small change, simply hanging your laundry to dry will save you money, save on resources and really is just plain satisfying. Nothing beats the smell of fresh clothes that have spent an afternoon blowing in the wind.

Having lived in a small apartment for the last 10 years with no more than a cement covered balcony, I plan to take full advantage of my new “space”.

Happy Summer!