(Family Features) It's been said that autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. The vibrant colors of the season's blooms are too beautiful to only be enjoyed outdoors, so bring the gorgeous outdoors in. Here are some fun and easy way to enjoy the glories of nature all season long.
Leaves and Grasses
- Fill a shallow bowl with water and add a few gold and crimson leaves. Don't add too many; you want to keep the look simple and elegant. Add two or three small, floating candles and you have an instant, shimmering centerpiece.
- Showcase beautiful leaf and grass specimens by framing them. Use photo-mount spray to mount a single tree leaf or a fan of ornamental grass blades to white or cream-colored paper. Set into a picture frame. You can make one frame to display on a tabletop, or make a whole series of them for a wall full of unique, seasonal art.
- Use freshly fallen leaves as place cards at the dinner table. Write each name on a leaf with a gold or silver paint pen. Set the leaf in the center of each plate; or use a pretty pin to attach it to a fresh pear at each place setting.
Branches and Pinecones
- For the table, put branches with colorful leaves into a simple vase. Make sure the branches aren't too tall - you want guests to be able to see each other. For a more dramatic display on a sideboard or entry table, use longer branches in a taller vase or urn.
- Make a pretty front door display by tying interesting branches together with a bow. Lay the branches flat, then arrange them in a fan shape, crossing the ends. Tie them together with wire, then tie a ribbon over the wire. For an elegant look, use satin ribbon; for a homier look, try raffia or strips of burlap.
- Pinecones look good piled up in bowls or scattered down a table runner. But did you know they can also smell good? It's easy to make scented pinecones. If using pinecones you found, clean them thoroughly with a damp cloth or wash them in the sink with soap and water. (If you wash them, put them on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake them at 250°F for 20 minutes to dry them. Allow to cool.) Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to water in a spray bottle, and spray the pinecones until quite damp. Put them in a plastic bag, seal, and let sit for 24 hours.
Pumpkins and Gourds
- Turn a large white pumpkin into a flower vase. Cut off the pumpkin top and scoop out the pulp. Then fill with your favorite fall flowers. Pumpkins, squash and gourds should remain watertight for about a week. If you want to use your pumpkin vase for longer, put a vase or damp floral foam inside the pumpkin.
- Create a gourd garland for your doorway or mantel. Drill a hole through the center of some miniature gourds. Thread twine through the holes with an embroidery needle. Knot the twine at both sides of each gourd to keep it in place. You can string them close together, or leave about six inches in between each gourd.
- Use pretty pumpkins to spell out a seasonal message. For example, carve each pumpkin with a letter and arrange them so they spell out "Welcome," "Give Thanks," or even your house number. If you don't want to get messy carving, you can paint words and sayings instead.