Sometimes in the busy and the hard days that life seems to throw at us, it is easy to get discouraged and to forget about the beautiful, simple things. These pictures are from an evening last week when we all experienced the simple joy of looking for wild strawberries. I think the pictures speak for themselves. I needed to look at them tonight.
The weather has been so absolutely beautiful the past few days that we have been enjoying a lot of time outside. Today, before supper our little family (Daddy, Mama, three girls, two cats, and a dog) headed out on a walk through our forest in search of our boundary lines that Dan has been marking out.As we walked, we enjoyed the sounds of squirrels calling to each other, the stream gurgling near by, and the branches cracking underfoot. At one point Aneliese stopped to say, “this is so nice, I am just taking a deep breath.”. My thoughts exactly. We are so blessed by this little bit of land that we have been given to care for.
Near one of our boundaries is a bit of a clearing with small “Christmas Trees”. It’s delightful to discover a tree smaller than ones self. These trees are now the girls growing trees. They each chose one and we marked them so as to find them again. And each time we will see how they grow in comparison to their trees. (Kathleen will have to choose hers later!) This simple spontaneous activity today was meaningful to me because it spoke of setting down roots. I have no way of knowing where the future could lead to and we try to be open to anything, but this is the first place in which we have lived that we intend to remain indefinitely. It’s the first place that we have put down roots that did something more than skimmed the surface.
And today we chose trees to grow with…
Confessions; I really, really enjoy decorating. Renovating not as much, but making things look pretty? Oh yes. But, unless it is a permanent fixture, I will rarely spend money on decorating. I always can think of something better that money could be used for.
And then fall colors, I truly love them. We took a drive up the mountain the other day and I could have looked at the beautiful reds, golds, yellows, oranges and even browns for a long time. I have never lived anywhere that had such vibrant autumn colors before and so right now I am drinking it up.
Anyways, to combine my title, my pleasure in decorating, and my love of autumn color; on a whim this morning, I decided to decorate our main entry. It simple, countryish, and so me. With no money spent on decorating purposes (aside for a 4 dollar grapevine wreath from 4 years ago that see multiple facelifts each year) and the morning enjoyment it brought, I would consider this an hour well spent.
Granted, I have no idea how long the vines will last since they have no water source and the pumpkins could end up all over since both girls find great pleasure in moving them to random places; but for now I am enjoying the beauty.
I have seen various ways of expressing the things that we are thankful coming up to thanksgiving; at my parents house, they have little cards which they pass out a week or so before on which every one can write what they are thankful for and then when we gather for our Thanksgiving meal there is a cross in a display that Mom sets up where we all pin our thankful cards. Whatever the way is, I think it is always of value to take the time to write down thankfuls and blessings.
Lately, I have seen thankful trees and I really like the idea, especially this one by Simply Vintagegirl. I love the simplicity of it, but I didn’t really want to get stock paper and I don’t really have any so I did some brainstorming of what I do have. Then as the leaves are just beginning to change here in the valley, I was thinking that I would like to press some with the girls for decorations and I thought, “hey, the Thankful Tree!” So this little tutorial isn’t particularly genius on my part and we will collect more leaves later once they are really changing color, but I wanted to share this now as I know that in some parts the leaves are already changing quickly.
I did this with the girls but some parts like the cutting out of the leaves are a little beyond them; it is an activity that could be geared a little more toward older ones. Although, Aneliese fully enjoys and understands the concept of being thankful and writing them down.
Part One: Pressing Leaves.
You will need:
- newspaper, books, leaves
First you will need to go collect various leaves, ideally colorful ones. It is easiest for little ones to get them off the ground just make sure they are not starting to rot. (Having lived in Central BC and Alberta, I know that there isn’t quite the same variety but get creative, it doesn’t need to be just tree leaves.) Once you have your leaves, place them flat on sheets of newspaper.
Cover with the second layer of newspaper, making sure that all the leaves are covered. Add some heavy books on top, taking care that the leaves don’t shift or curl.
Give them a few days to flatten and dry out. You could check for moisture and turn but while I meant to, I never got to it and they were fine.
Part Two: Thankful Leaves
You will need:
- Contact paper (available at craft, dollar and hardware stores)
- Hole punch (if you have it)
Roll out a length of contact paper, enough to spread your leaves on. If you really want to be specific and use the exact amount of paper, you can lay your leaves out before cutting the length. Carefully peel the paper backing (carefully so that you don’t create wrinkles) from the contact paper and lay the CP sticky side up. Lay the leaves around, leaving enough room between to cut out the leaves with an edge, pat down to stick.
Cut another length of CP and carefully remove backing (you can do this all at once or bit by bit as you lay it over the leaves. Cover the leaves, making sure there are no wrinkles or air bubbles (yes hard to do with small children). Doing this with the girls, I gave them rolling pins to make sure the paper was sticking.
Now you can cut out the leaves, making sure that you leave enough edge that the CP can stick together. Punch a hole however you would like the leaf to hang and add a string to hang it. If you don’t have a hole punch use a needle with the thread attached or a nail to poke a hole.
Part Three: The Thankful Tree
You will need:
- A knife or pruning shears
- Jar or container
- Something to weight inside container (maybe).
Find a branch or two that you like in your yard or your neighbors yard (probably ask them first!). If you are like us, you go for over kill and cut too many, too big branches, use a cart to truck it back when it would be easier to carry it , stop to enjoy some fall raspberries and pick some free growing oregano, drag the branches inside only to drag most of them back out.
Find a jar or container that you like, stick the branches in, using some beans, rocks, rice, popcorn, or whatever as a weight if needed (ours didn’t need it as we used a tall milk bottle and the branches are light), and decorate the jar with twine or ribbon if you like.
Part Four: Being Thankful
You will need:
- prepared leaves
- things that you are thankful for
- Fine point Permanent Marker
On the day that we made this, we wrote a few things we were thankful for and hung them on the tree. Between now and Thanksgiving in October, we will add things as we think of them. Probably it is something we will do after supper so that Daddy can also join us.
Variations: You could skip the contact paper step and just press, string and write on leaves, this just makes them more durable and we can keep them. You could also use a dry erase marker and re-use the leaves. Another way is to use wax paper which requires using an iron so is only really older child-friendly or to do on ones own.
If you can’t get a branch or don’t really have room, you could string the leaves like a garland and hang them on wall, window, or mantle. Or use paper clips or little clothespins and attach them to a paper tree on the wall. I am sure the possibilities are endless. And the main point is, for me at least, as I see the tree with those leaves I just think of more things that I am thankful for.
If you decide to have a thankful tree, I would love to see or hear about what you do! I will also add a better picture when we have more colorful fall leaves to grace the tree with and have written on more closer to Thanksgiving.
Dare I admit it? Oh alright. I had one of those days. With a toddler, we would call it a meltdown. Are mama’s allowed meltdowns? It has been creeping up for the past few days. Now before I go further, I am embarrassed by it and I feel like most other mamas I know handle the day in day out better than I do. Anyways, my meltdown looked like me trying to fold clothes while some liquid stuff rolled down my cheeks and dripped off of my chin. This doesn’t happen with me much so my sensitive husband knew it was time to bundle two little ones off with him while he went to fiddle at the market. I took a nap. Later, we ate strawberries and cream for lunch after which the girls took a nap and I, at Dan’s gentle prompting, a walk. One of the nice (although occasional) things about a work from home husband. And really, the walk is the real point of my post. I walked up behind our property and on a road that our kind neighbors have said we are welcome to walk on. It is beautiful. I can’t infuse the scent of the roses and trees, or play the various bird songs, and I wasn’t quick enough to capture pictures of the butterflies. But here are some glimpses.
And that half hour walk was a refreshing breath. I would never ever trade being home with my girls. I am glad that they need me and I don’t want to miss this time with them. But, the biggest adjustment for me as a mama has been giving up quiet times to just wander. I have always enjoyed walking through the bush looking at plants and flowers, listening to the sounds of the forest, and enjoying solitude.