7 Ways to Decorate with Natural Elements


african-violetsThinking of decorating, one’s mind may jump immediately to fabrics and furniture. However, there are so many natural elements that can bring the outdoors indoors to create harmony.

1. Flowers

Cut flowers can brighten up any space, but don’t overlook the color and drama in flowering plants, such as orchids or African violets. Use your imagination when choosing a flowerpot; just about anything can be repurposed as a planter.

2. Plants

Add color and healthy elements to a room with plants. Group them together using a same-color or same-varietal theme for instant impact.

3. Seashells

Recall your summer vacation with a bowlful of seashells. But don’t stop there, use them to frame a mirror, set them in concrete, or accent a lamp with them. Repeat the theme in your table settings.

4. Food

Food items like a big jar of lemons or limes can serve as a colorful centerpiece. Try any colorful fruit or vegetable, like artichokes, red, yellow and green peppers, or oranges, perhaps.

5. Wood

Reclaim old wood and turn it into wonderful home features, furniture and accents. Driftwood and branches also add interesting architectural elements to your home decor.

6. Stone

stones-accenting-candlesMany homes are built of stone, or include stone fireplaces. Think of new ways to incorporate stone into your decorating as with a water features, a mosaic garden pathway or in vases to hold cut flowers. Polished stone can be used for countertops and furniture surfaces.

7. Found Objects

Nature provides us with a plethora of treasures that can add interest to our decorating. Collect bird nests or egg shells, line a planter with natural moss, arrange several sets of deer antlers, or incorporate pictures of nature in your artwork, pillows or fabrics.

 

 

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Crafty Ideas for a Long Winter | Victorian Crafts | Meredith Sweetpea


Victorian-woman-sewing

Victorian women loved to craft beautiful items

Victorians loved to craft, and often produced fine handiwork. Miss Meredith Sweetpea herself enjoys seeing and displaying items her own great-grandmothers crocheted, tatted, and sewed.

You weren’t able to go into the stores and choose from the abundance of items today, both because they weren’t available, and if they were, families couldn’t afford these niceties.  So women and girls made them themselves.

Some of the types of crafts Victorians enjoyed making include:

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The Victorian Christmas Tree


Around 1841 the Christmas tree was introduced into Victorian society. In that year, the German Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victorian, erected and decorated a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle. He was following the German tradition that had become popular in the 18th century. (Some of the first German settlers also brought this tradition to America with them.) Then in 1846 an illustration of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and some of their children standing around a Christmas tree was published in the Illustrated London News.

People liked to copy Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria was extremely popular, and like today, people were fascinated by the royals and enjoyed copying their traditions for themselves…both in England and on the American East Coast. Therefore, it very quickly became fashionable to put up a large tree indoors decorated with candles, ribbons, and fancy trinkets.

Victorian tree decorations

Some of the items that were popular to decorate with homemade ornaments including glass balls, bead decorations,lead ornaments depicting crosses and stars, paper cornucopias filled with fruit, nuts and popcorn, small sewn pouches containing tiny gifts,and other edible treats. Angles often topped the tree, and later as the English Empire grew, the English flag became the most popular tree topper.

By the 1870s Victorians began to purchase store-bought decorations. Many of those ornaments were manufactured in Germany, and you can still purchase them today in the German Christmas Markets.

Children decorate the Victorian Christmas tree

By the 1890s the tree became high art and was covered with glitter, tinsel and small toys. Today it would be considered “over-decorated.” Then by 1900 tree themes became popular and it wasn’t uncommon to see a ribbon tree, an Oriental tree or tree with a single color theme.

When Queen Victoria died in 1903, it seemed the world went into mourning and popularity of the fancy trees waned. Tabletop trees and feather trees became more popular then.

Make your own Victorian Christmas tree decorations

You can create Victorian-like ornaments yourself very easily.  Try these ideas:

  • String cranberries or popcorn to make garlands
  • Paint walnuts and pine cones with gold or silver paint and dip them into glitter. Attach a bright ribbon to hang them.
  • Create paper chains as garlands.
  • Curl doilies into paper cornucopias and fill them with nuts, dried fruits or hard candies.
  • Recycle your old Christmas cards. Cut out the image and attach a colorful ribbon from which to hang the images.
  • Bake cookies and hang them from the branches.

Not to put a damper on the festive holiday spirit, but Miss Meredith Sweetpea must throw in a warning at this time. Please DO NOT use candles on your Christmas tree. It is far to dangerous to have an open flame around your tree. Please use lights specifically designated for tree decorations.

Making Scented Pomanders | Victorian Crafts


Popular since the Tudor times of England, a scented pomander is easy to make. Once dried and cured, Meredith Sweetpea finds that it offers a lovely scent to freshen closets and wardrobes.

Here is an easy recipe for a Victorian pomander.

Victorian Pomander Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. ground cinnamon
  • 2 oz. ground cloves
  • 1/2 oz. ground allspice
  • 1/2 oz. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 oz. ground coriander
  • 1 oz. ground orris root
  • 6 Seville oranges (unblemished)
  • 4 oz whole cloves

Mix all the ground spices and orris root in a lidded earthenware dish large enough to hold all the oranges. Stud the oranges with the cloves, using a toothpick or large needle to make the holes. Use a pattern if desired.

Roll the oranges in the spice mixture and leave them to cure in the earthenware bowl along with the remaining spices. Cover the dish and place in a warm setting for at least four weeks.

Turn the pomanders daily.

If the spice mix feels damp, leave the lid at an angle to allow the moisture to evaporate.

After four weeks the oranges will have shrunk and hardened.  At this point you can hang attach ribbons and hang them in closets, cupboards and wardrobes for a pleasant scent.

Make a Pomander Ball | Victorian Crafts


Prince William and Princess Catherine’s flower girls carried pomanders instead of bouquets at their April 29, 2011 wedding. What a nice change to the traditional bouquet.

Since the medieval times, people have enjoyed hanging pomanders around their homes, both for their decoration and their delightful scent. And remember, pomanders can also be used as kissing balls.

Make your own pomander with these two easy instructions for a dried flower pomander and a citrus pomander.

Dried Flower Pomander

Materials:

  • 3″ diameter styrofoam ball
  • White glue (Elmer’s-type)
  • Waxed paper
  • Use one or a combination of: dried flowers, lavender buds, calendula, safflower, rose buds, rose petals, baby’s breath
  • Thin ribbons
  • Hot glue sticks and glue gun
  • Silk ivy strands
  • Floral wire
  • Scissors
  1. Place an 18″ length of waxed paper over your work surface. Spread a cup of dried flowers (choose one type or mixed flower)  in a small patch on it to about 1/8″ depth.
  2. Take your styrofoam ball and cover it evenly with the white glue.
  3. If the floral mixture is small, such as lavender buds, roll the styrofoam ball in the floral mixture until completely covered.
  4. If using larger or whole flowers or buds, glue a small surface at a time and place the flowers, positioning them against each other tightly until entire surface is covered.
  5. Allow to dry completely, for about 12 to 24 hours.
  6. Gather 4 pieces of ribbon together and tie a knot in the center of the bundle. Place the knot on the bottom of the floral ball and lift two strands up around the north-south sides to girdle it. Tie those ribbons in a knot on the top of the ball. Repeat with the east-west sides.
  7. Take a fifth piece of ribbon and loop it through the knots at the top of the pomander ball. Tie into a knot near the loose ends to create a hanging loop.
  8. Hot glue larger flowers, rose buds, or embellishments to the top knot.

Citrus and Clove Pomander

Citrus and clove pomanders are often used around the holidays, but can add a delightful decoration and scent any time of the year.

Materials:

  • Clean, dry and undamaged citrus fruit, such as lemons or oranges
  • BBQ skewer or a 2 inch nail
  • Whole cloves
  • Dried spices such as ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg or coriander
  • Zip-top plastic bags
  • Narrow ribbon
  1. First, decide your design and mark it with small holes made by your skewer or nail. Space the holes approximately 1/4″ apart. Any closer and the fruit’s skin may crumble when dried.
  2. Insert cloves into the marked holes. Try to cover the pomander well. The more you cover the surface, the better are its chances of drying properly and avoiding mold.
  3. Strengthen the scent by combining 1 TBSP of ground spices per fruit with 1/2 tsp of ground orris root in your zip-top bags. Add the decorated fruit and shake until covered. The orris root will help speed the drying and enhance the fragrance’s staying power.
  4. As with the dried flower pomander, create a sling with narrow ribbon and form a bow at the top of the hanger.
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