Nature's D?cor for Fall, On a Budget!
By Kathleen Wilson

Fall is my favorite time of year for decorating. Well, ok, so maybe
it's just behind the holidays, but you know what I mean! I think
it's because it represents a time of coming home and cuddling in,
preparing for the long cold days of winter. Cocooning in a home
filled with warmth and personality?mmm, no better feeling,
especially in times when life doesn't feel as secure as it once did
for many of us. How do you decorate your home for the winding down
of autumn when the money's tight? Read this article, and you're on
your way!

Fall is the best time for decorating organically; that is, with
natural elements. Natural ornaments for the home are abundantly
available this time of year, are extremely cheap or free, and give
us a good feeling of grounded goodness from Mother Earth. So get the
kids, and go on a nature walk! Make sure to take a bag with you, and
be sure only to collect fallen items that are not protected, or on
private land. (Don't worry, I'm going to tell you what to do with
all this in a minute!) Everything that appeals to you is fair game
here, and remember to look at texture, color, or even memories an
item brings back for you. Acorns, pinecones, seed pods, sticks or
branches, driftwood, shells, empty wasp nests, bird nests, or
cocoons, pressed and dried flowers, back chunks, even pretty rocks!
And of course, cut and bring in those fall wildflowers! Sunflowers,
zinnias, cosmos, chrysanthemums, even roses all bloom in the fall
and make terrific bouquets. Even dried grasses displayed in a pretty
pitcher invoke those great feelings of autumn on it's way.

Now you're back home with all your treasures, you've started a big
pot of soup on the stove?and you can't figure out for the life of
you what you are going to do with all this stuff? For starters,
consider setting out simple ceramic or wooden bowls lined with a
pretty cloth napkin or scrap, and fill with some of your goods.
Texture abounds with natural elements, and will warm up a
tablescape, a coffee table, a fireplace hearth. Try
getting out the hot glue gun and affixing your items to the candles
you packed away
at the first sign of summer. Small glass jars make great votive
holders when dressed up with a few pressed leaves and acorns. Fill a
bowl or plate with goodies around large pillar
candles and use as a centerpiece. If you can't find enough natural
material near
your home, check out the bulk grain section at your supermarket.
Fall is about harvest, so any grain can be used to add that element
to your home. Even cracked corn meant for the bird feeder can look
great in a jar as a base for a candle.

Lastly, don't forget the front porch when adding the element of
fall! After all, Halloween and Thanksgiving are on the way, it' s
time to think about adding joy to our neighborhoods and communities.
Ask a local farmer or produce stand owner if you can get some corn
stalks, and display them on your porch with a homemade scarecrow. My
kids have been making scarecrows each year since they were little,
and they have a great time! Use old clothing, a little muslin or an
old pillowcase for the face, stuff most of the body with newspaper
or stuffing, then add a little raffia or straw at the sleeve and
neck cuffs. Make the scarecrows representative of someone you know
for fun?one year my kids made our whole family, and if you know
anything about the size of my family, you'll understand it was quite
a job! Draw on the face with permanent makers and craft
paint, and have a great time!

Lastly, don't forget to preserve some of this magical time. Press
fall leaves, take pictures of your kids, and make some really great
new comfort foods to warm your family. Set the stage for a wonderful
place for your family to be this winter!