A Minimalist Nature-Inspired Holiday Wreath

I didn’t think I was going to get around to making a holiday wreath at all this season, but a recent walk in the neighborhood after a snowfall changed my mind. A large fir tree branch had come down, and with it some attractive cones.

So I brought it home.

I used it in some simple front porch decor, which I’ll talk about later, but there was plenty left over for a wreath.

So this is how I made my wreath.

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A Homemade Grapevine Wreath

For the past few years, most of my wreaths have had a homemade grapevine wreath as the foundation.

One of my earlier DIY grapevine wreaths

Grapevine wreaths are so easy to make, and I talk about the process more in this post.  It was time to cut my grapevine back for the season anyway, so I just used the clippings to create a simple wreath to go with the fir greens.

A DIY grapevine wreath and fir tree clippings

The beauty of the grapevine wreath is that the vines are loosely woven around one another, so no wires or strings are needed.


Tuck In The Fir Greens

Then I tucked in the fir greens, winding the stems through the grapevines to secure them.

As you can see, I was keeping it very minimalist.  I wanted the greenery to be only on one side of the wreath.

Add Color

Usually my wreaths cost me nothing to make because I only use greens from my own garden or ones that I foraged on a walk.  But this time I splurged – sort of.  The great thing about procrastinating on holiday decorating is that, by the time I get around to actually needing something, it’s usually on sale.

Like these dried orange slices.

And these faux berries.

I am not sure what kind of berries they are intended to be, but I am guessing they are rose hips – although they look more like tiny pomegranates.

I set about adding the faux rose hips and dried orange slices to the wreath.  The rose hips were on flexible wires, so they were easy to secure.

I had never worked with dried orange slices before, and I learned that they are a bit delicate and brittle. The best way I found to attach them to the wreath was to loop some wire through them – making sure to include the rind since it was more durable than the fruit part.

Adding wire to a dried orange slice before securing it to the wreath

And then attaching them to the wreath.

After I finished the wreath, I gave it a good shake to make sure everything was secure.

The Result

I had originally intended to make an asymmetrical wreath – with the greenery covering one side.  But, once it was finished, I liked it better with the greenery at the bottom of the wreath instead.

So now I have this.

I did a simple satin ribbon with no bow because I prefer it that way, but a bow could certainly be attached as well. Or the ribbon and bow could be skipped altogether.



The Rest Of The Foraged Fir Branch

The fir branch helped me redesign my front porch planters for winter. Last spring, I did a new mixed planting of annuals in the planters. (The details of that project, and the plant list, are in this post.)

The plants did well all summer and into fall.  But, as of about a week ago, the only plants still thriving were the dusty millers.  Apparently they can tolerate some frost and cold.

So I took everything else out of the planters and left the dusty millers. I propped them up with some gold-painted branches that I’ve had in storage for years.

And then I just added the fir branches and some clippings from two different cypress trees that grow in our garden.  I just pushed the clippings into the soil.

Finally, I added a few pinecones and some faux berries from storage.

The planters don’t look spectacular, but it is a nice natural look that will get us through the winter season. And, at a cost of zero, it was a budget-friendly project.

Nature-Inspired Gifts

So if I can make a nature-inspired wreath, why not wrap up a few nature-inspired gifts?

And especially since, often times, natural or eco-friendly gifts are made by small companies of artisans.  I’d be helping to support the “little guy,” and I always love that.

Here are just a few of the gift ideas that have me dreaming today.

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Gifts for Warmth and Comfort

Seeing these comfy-looking organic handmade wool slippers by Haussimple Wool makes me want to curl up with a good book.


Eco Handmade Unisex Organic Wool Slippers House Slippers for Natural Brown
Photo courtesy of Haussimple Wool


I’m guessing even the woman who has everything might not have these natural yak woolen gloves by Handcombed.

Eco gloves; photo courtesy of Handcombed.


An Oatmeal and Honey Deluxe Bath Bomb by CopperCatApothecary would make a fun stocking stuffer for someone who needs a little pampering.

Oatmeal and honey bath bombs; photo courtesy of CopperCatApothecary.

Gifts for the Cook/Baker

It seems embossed rolling pins are everywhere this year.  This “Herbs” rolling pin by MoodForWood is designed and made in Poland using wood from environmentally responsible sources.

“Herbs” embossed rolling pin; photo courtesy of MoodForWood.


These spools of eco-friendly cotton baker’s twine by The StitchinKitchen would make wonderful – and affordable – hostess gifts or stocking stuffers for cooks or crafters. And the adorable wooden spools can be reused after the twine is gone.

Wood Spools of Baker's Twine Colored Twine Craft Twine image 2
Photo courtesy of TheStitchinKitchen


I love the look of BackBayPottery’s four-cup batter bowl, which is handmade in California.

Batter bowl; photo courtesy of BackBayPottery.

Gifts for the Bird Watcher

Bird nesters seem like a great way to attract birds to the garden by providing them with fibers to build their nests.  I love how this llama fiber bird nester by Evergreen Oasis Farm has an eco-friendly grapevine cage.

Alpaca fleece nesting ball Grapevine nesting balls Bird image 1
Photo courtesy of Evergreen Oasis Farm


This hanging wild bird seed feeder by Birdzy Shop doubles as yard art and a conversation piece for bird lovers.

Owl Hanging Wild Bird Seed Feeder Bird Lover Gift image 1
Photo courtesy of Birdzy Shop


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A DIY Luxuriously Soft Coverlet For A Child’s Bed

I love to sew home decor items like curtains, pillowcases, cushions, and tablecloths.  But I keep it simple.  If a project is complicated enough to need a sewing pattern, it’s not for me.

So recently, when I heard that a six-year-old family member needed some new bedding, I saw an opportunity for a fun and simple sewing project.

Below I describe in detail how I did this project.  As my editor (husband) pointed out, it’s a bit long and drawn-out.  So, if you’d rather just see the final result, scroll down to “The Result” near the end of this post.

Choosing The Fabric And The Project Design

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First, I cleared the idea with the youngster’s mom.  Then I started the project the way I begin all my sewing projects:  By rushing off to the fabric store with only a half-baked idea of what I was going to do or how I was going to do it.

What I knew at that point was that I wanted to make a flannel bed cover of some sort with a coordinating pillowcase.  I wanted to use flannel because it’s warm and soft – and it’s usually on sale after the holidays. I also knew that, although I adore quilts, I did not have the patience, skill, or desire to actually make one. I wanted to make something like a quilt, only easier.  So I decided to make a coverlet.

At the fabric store, I carefully selected some adorable, coordinating fabrics that I loved.  Then I put them all back and chose fabrics that this particular six-year-old kid would like.

I came out of the fabric store with planets, kitties, and plaid.  The coverlet would be reversible with planets as the primary fabric on one side and kitties on the other.

I was in love with the white plaid fabic at the top of the stack, but there wasn’t much left in the store.  I bought what they did have and hoped I could somehow make it work.

Altogether, I bought about 12 yards of 42″ wide flannel and about 5 1/4 yards of this 45″ wide batting.  The flannel is cotton Snuggle Flannel from Joann Fabrics.  To me it seems softer than some other flannels.  And, as I learned later, it’s even softer after laundering.  But the patterns are printed on the fabric – not woven in.  So this is not high-end flannel.  And the patterns are not always printed squarely on the fabric. This meant I’d have to do a little tweaking to make the patterns line up and also keep things straight.

This tutorial for making a flannel blanket was a very helpful starting point, and I did end up using most of the tips there. But the tutorial is for making smaller throw blankets (about a 40″ width), and I was going to make a twin-sized coverlet that needed to measure about 70″ X 90″ when finished.

But really how difficult could it be?  We’ll get back to that question later.

Preparing The Flannel

I did a little research and watched videos on how to prepare flannel for sewing.  If you’re planning to work with flannel, I highly recommend doing this.

One important thing to note is that flannel shrinks – a lot.  So I washed all the fabric in warm water and machine dried it so that it would preshrink.  I put a towel in the dryer with the fabric to keep it from wrinkling because the next step is, of course, pressing the fabric.  Flannel should be carefully pressed as opposed to being ironed.

I had yards and yards of fabric, so I confess that I did not press every bit of it.  Placing a clean cotton cloth between the fabric and the iron, and misting with a bit of water first, I just carefully pressed out the main creases and folds.  I figured that would be enough since my final goal was a casual, soft look.

Flannel tends to fray.  It can also bunch up in the sewing machine.  I eased the tension on my machine a bit, and I used a slightly longer stitch length than I normally do.  It is also recommended to use a walking foot when sewing flannel.  I didn’t take this extra step, but I’m happy to say that, in this case at least, I didn’t have any trouble with the fabric bunching.

But before sewing, I squared my fabric by ripping it.  Predictably, the flannel frayed a bit when I did this, but I always prefer to square my fabric before working with it.

The Project Begins

Making a template on the living room floor

Since this was such a huge project, the easiest way I could think of for measuring out the fabric, planning the pattern, and piecing it together was to mark out the finished dimensions on the living room floor.

So, I cleared away and cleaned a large area on my living room floor.  I carefully measured a 70″ X 90″ rectangle and marked the corners and the middle of the rectangle with blue painter’s tape to create a template.  Then I re-measured to make sure I hadn’t messed up.  Since the tape had a one-inch thickness, the inside of the tape template would represent the finished dimensions of the coverlet.  The outside area, although just a bit too wide to represent the coverlet’s unfinished dimensions, would still serve as an approximate reference point.

The biggest challenge of working on the living room floor was convincing our cats that this whole setup wasn’t solely for their amusement.

Every time I turned my back for a split second, something like this was happening.

“The human seems upset. I’m not sure why.”

But the cats were ever so helpful in that they eliminated any doubt that I’d have to launder this project again once it was finished.

Cutting and Sewing The Fabric Pieces

I started with the cat fabric.  The fabric, before pre-shrinking, was only 44″ wide.  I needed a 71″ width.  So I sewed two pieces of the cat fabric together, making sure to line up the pattern.

Then I measured, cut, and sewed together two narrow pieces of the white plaid fabric (just enough for an accent border since I didn’t have much of that fabric) and sewed it across the top of the cat fabric.  I just tried my best to keep the fabric patterns matching and lined up, but it wasn’t perfect.

Then I placed this fabric piece, consisting of the four sewn-together panels, over the template on the floor and, using a large straight edge, I marked and cut the fabric to the 71″ width and the 91″ length that I needed.

Then I pressed all the seams open.

Then, using the planet fabric and the orange plaid fabric, I employed a similar method for what would be the reverse side of the coverlet:  I  joined panels of fabric together and then measured, marked and cut so that I had a 71″ X 91″ piece of fabric.  And then I pressed the seams.

Cutting And Basting The Batting

The batting had a 45″ width so, using a straight edge, I cut two 45″ panels to the 91″ length that I needed and placed them on the template side by side.

I overlapped them in the middle by about an inch and pinned it.  Then, since this would be too cumbersome to push through my sewing machine, I hand-basted the two pieces together where I had overlapped them to create the width I needed.  As you’ll see later, the hand basting was only the first step I would take in making sure that the batting wouldn’t shift inside the coverlet once it was finished.

Then I cut the batting to the 71″ width that I needed.

Pinning It All Together

I carefully placed the two 71″ X 91″ fabric panels, right (good) sides together, flat on the floor.  I made sure to eliminate all creases and wrinkles.  So, I had the two good sides on the inside facing one another.  I placed the batting on top of this, and then I pinned the edges of the three pieces together.

I’m making this sound easy, but this was the most difficult part of the project – pinning these three huge pieces together without anything getting creased.

So, this is a good time to get back to that question “How difficult could this project really be?” At this point, the project seemed doomed to failure.  I was starting to regret ever taking it on.

Sewing The Perimeter

Finally I was satisfied with the pinning and I took this giant project to my sewing machine.  Using about a half-inch seam allowance, I sewed around the perimeter of the coverlet, making sure to backstitch at potentially vulnerable places like seams and corners.  I left part of one side open and unsewn so that I could easily pull the fabric right-side-out later.

Here, the batting is on top and the two fabric pieces are underneath with their “good” sides facing one another. The perimeter of this project has been sewn closed except for the area on the left between the two pieces of blue tape.

Pulling It Right-Side-Out

Then I reached inside the unsewn area, between the two fabric pieces, and carefully reversed the coverlet – pulling the whole thing right-side-out.  Now the good sides were facing out and the batting was inside sandwiched between the two fabric pieces.

Reversing it was like a mini-reveal of how this project was going to turn out.  I held my breath and hoped for the best.  And it actually didn’t look too bad.

Pressing and Pinning

I pressed the perimeter of the coverlet to give the seam a neat look.  When I got to the unsewn area, I tucked the fabric inward and pressed it so that the unsewn area looked neat and finished like the sewn area.  Then I pinned it.

The Finish Stitch

I used a zigzag stitch around the entire perimeter (about a quarter inch from the edge) to seal the unsewn area and as another measure in securing the batting.

It also gave the piece a cute, finished look.

Securing The Batting

This coverlet was going to be for an active little kid, so I wanted to make sure the batting wouldn’t shift.  So I used another tip I found in this tutorial:  Adding hand-tied knots to secure the batting.  Once again placing the coverlet on the floor, I measured out and put a small hand-stitched knot at every share foot.  I used a strand of embroidery floss for this.  I made sure the needle went through the batting and picked up the fabric on the opposite side of the coverlet.

I quadruple tied each knot to make sure it would not unravel.

Once I was done, I could barely see my work in the overall look of the coverlet – which was a good thing.

The Pillowcase

I made a simple pillowcase using this method but with a few changes – mostly for the sake of preference – including making the pillowcase reversible.

Laundering Again

With my heart in my throat, I put the entire finished project through the laundry, this time on delicate because it’s recommended for the type of batting that I used.  I tumble dried it on low and then took it out immediately so that it wouldn’t wrinkle.

It came out luxuriously soft.  The only glitch was a little bunching at the hand stitches that I’d added at the end, but that is barely noticeable.

The Result

I’m very happy with the result.  It isn’t perfect, but I’ve convinced myself it doesn’t really need to be.  After all, it’s just kids’ bedding – not world peace.



It’s reversible and interchangeable for lots of fun options.



But does it actually fit a twin bed?  I tried it out on half of my king-sized bed and it fit well.  So I think it will be fine on a twin bed.


It’s so wonderfully soft that I’m gearing up to make a king-sized version for my own bed.  Just kidding!  I’m pretty sure it will be a while before I tackle such a huge project again.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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Fall Porch Decor With Hop Vines

The hop vines that grow along the south side of our house are both a blessing and a curse.  Every year in late winter, I pull out massive amounts of trailing underground hop roots in the hope of keeping these vines under control.

The vines usually recover quickly from this setback.  Stronger than before and out for revenge, they are soon back to swallowing up the sunny side of our house.

Hops trying to get in through our dining room window.

But the hop cones are such a beautiful, fresh green when they emerge in late summer.  And they are rewarding to work with.

So today, I’m sharing a couple of my recent hop projects.

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A Hop Garland

The hop garland was surprisingly easy to make.

I simply measured how long I needed the garland to be and then weaved a few hop vines around one another until I had a long enough garland.  Hop vines like to wind around each other naturally anyway, and they almost feel sticky to the touch.  So it was easy to get them to stay woven together.

Hop vines naturally wind around one another.

In the few places where I could not get them to stay together naturally, I just tethered them together with biodegradable garden twine.

The key to success is to do this project when the vines are still green and pliable.  It’s no good trying this once the vines have already dried.



Then, using clear fishing wire, Chris and I suspended the garland from small hooks that are already installed on our porch ceiling.

There were a few larger hooks, just above the porch entrance, that also came in handy for hanging this garland.

I weaved in extra clusters of hop cones where needed for a fuller look.  When necessary, I tied them on with biodegradable garden twine.


This was several weeks ago.  Now the cone clusters have dried and mellowed to a soft caramel color.

And we added pumpkin string lights to the garland.


The garland is now brittle to the touch, but it’s holding up very well.  It definitely helps that it is under cover and, for the most part, protected from the rain.

The little hop headpiece that I made for our porch lion looked good at first.

But, since it was not under cover, it suffered in the weather and ultimately had to be tossed.


A Hop Wreath

Several years ago, I made this hop wreath using a metal wreath form as a foundation.

My hop wreath from a few years ago.

It was a fun and exuberant wreath, but now I know how to make an all-natural wreath using no metal forms, wires, or other manmade elements.  The beauty of an all-natural wreath is that, when the season changes and I no longer need it, I can just toss the whole wreath into the compost bin and get on with my life – no need to separate it from a metal wreath form first.

I started by clipping some of the grape vines that grow on our fence and weaving them around one another into a wreath form.  As with the hop vines, grape vines are easy to work with when the vines are still green and pliable.

A wreath form made using grape vines.

I just tucked the ends in until they were secure.  The grapevine wreath form didn’t have to look pretty since it was going to be partly covered by the hops anyway.

Then I cut a length of hop vines.  These vines had woven around one another while they were growing, so they had already done some of my work for me.


Then, for lack of a better description, I just weaved, folded, and tucked the hop vines securely onto the grapevine wreath.  It took a little bit of trial and error, but it was fairly easy.

There is nothing manmade holding this wreath together.  It is just vines wrapped around one another.

The front door is very protected from the elements so, like the garland, the wreath mellowed into a golden caramel color after a couple of weeks.


A Little Viola Pumpkin

This isn’t a hop project, but I thought I’d share another little piece of my porch decor:  This simple little viola pumpkin.

I cut the top off of a sugar pumpkin and hollowed it, scraping out the seeds and some of the pumpkin meat. (The meat I’d removed made a nice side dish with our dinner that evening.)

Then I cut a drain hole in the bottom of the pumpkin.  I planted the violas in a small plastic container and placed it inside the hollowed pumpkin. A bit of moss conceals the plastic pot.

The hollowed pumpkin probably won’t stay fresh for long, so having the violas in a plastic pot will make them easier to remove when the time comes.  I know some folks use bleach or other substances to keep their pumpkins fresh longer but I don’t because (1) I’m too lazy, and (2) I like to compost my pumpkins when I’m done with them, so I want to keep them all natural.

More Fall Porch Decor

The rest of my fall porch decor is not exciting and, as you will see, our porch furniture needs a facelift – badly!  But here it is anyway.




(In case you’re wondering, the white box in the photo above is our Ridwell box.)

Now to plan:  Should I revamp the existing porch furniture or replace it with something new, perhaps one of these looks?

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An Easy DIY Lemon Cypress Wreath

Ever since I made my all-natural, fully compostable fall wreath last year, I’ve been sold on making simple hand-formed wreaths using natural ingredients from my own garden.

They are surprisingly easy to make, and recently I made a winter wreath using this technique.

A DIY Lemon Cypress Wreath

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For my wreaths, I just use trimmings from my garden – plants and vines that I am cutting back anyway.

The Foundation

I still had a few grapevines in my garden that needed pruning.  Most of the vines were a bit brittle by this point, but I found a few bendable ones.

So I simply cut the vines to length and carefully bent and wrapped them together, winding them around one another, to make a wreath form.  I tucked the ends in around the vines as I worked to make sure everything was secure.

It didn’t look perfect, but it didn’t have to.  This would just be the wreath’s foundation.

Note:  For those who don’t have grapevines or other suitable vines to work with, pre-made grapevine wreaths are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.


The Main Attraction

We have a large lemon cypress (or goldcrest) shrub in our yard.  It started out as a little accent plant in a pot on our patio, and I originally chose it for its lovely, groomed shape, its lemony fragrance, and for its fresh, vibrant shade of green.  I always make sure to have a couple of these beauties in pots on our porch.

Fresh colors really pop against our charcoal-colored door, and this plant needed trimming anyway.  So I saved a small branch for this project.

I cut sprigs of the lemon cypress to the length I wanted and then, starting at the top of the wreath and working my way down one side, I just wedged the ends between the grapevines until they seemed secure. No wires were needed.

If a sprig failed to secure, or if it didn’t look right, I just used a different one.  When I had that side done, I started at the top of the other side and worked my way down.

The lemon cypress draped nicely and was easy to work with.  Soon I had the wreath form filled.  I gave it a few shakes to make sure everything was secure.

I was tempted to leave it just like this:  Understated and all-natural.  But it did need a little something.


Accent Pieces

I’ve learned from experience that natural winter berries, at least the ones that I grow in my garden, don’t look good for long.  So I did add one man-made element, which I already had on hand:  Faux berries.

The faux berries are on wired sprigs, but I just covered the wires as best I could with the cypress greenery.

I tried adding a bow and a few other decor pieces, but they just didn’t look right.  Sometimes simpler is better and, since the berries are slightly over-sized for the wreath, they make enough of an impact on their own.


Some of the grapevine foundation is still showing in places, and that’s okay.  Unlike a wire wreath form, the grapevines add a rustic interest.

I think the snappy green of the lemon cypress is a fun departure from traditional holiday greens.  This wreath cost me nothing to make, and making it only took about an hour of my time.

Once the season changes, I can easily remove the berry sprigs and then toss this wreath straight into the yard waste  bin.

Here I must admit two things:

One, since I’ve never used lemon cypress in a wreath before, I have no idea how long it will look good.  I will probably mist it from time to time.  My hope is that it will last at least through Christmas.

And two, our front door is in a protected area.  A wreath like this in a different, more weather-exposed environment, may not hold up as well.

More Fun With Wreaths and Lemon Cypress

It’s fun to use old wreaths in new ways.  A few years ago, before I started making wireless wreaths, I made this wreath from birch twigs.

Recently, I trimmed that wreath down to make it more compact.  I used it, along with lemon cypress cuttings and fresh berry sprigs, to create this very simple and natural look for the pillar near our back door.



Finding Lemon Cypress

Lemon cypress trees can usually be found at better nurseries and garden centers – and from various online sellers, including some on Amazon and Etsy.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.




Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


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Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Two Projects With One Pumpkin

I recently bought a few pumpkins for our front porch.  One of them was this white pumpkin.

white pumpkin

I wanted to use it to create a succulent planter.  But then I noticed that part of it had a funny little “grumpy face” look that I wanted to do something with.

So I figured out a way to do both.


A Pumpkin Succulent Planter

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Pumpkin succulent planters are fun and easy to make.

And I had garden succulents that needed dividing anyway.  This pretty plant, which I believe might be an Echeveria ‘Imbricata,” bloomed so nicely over the summer.

Echeveria 'Imbricata'

But now this “hen” plant was being crowded in the pot by the smaller “chicks” she had since produced.  So I just clipped away the smaller plants, making sure to also take as much stem as possible.

Some of the stems even had little roots on them.

And then I carefully pulled off any dead leaves.

Echeveria 'Imbricata'
Dead leaves have been removed from the cutting on the left.

I had cut the top off of the pumpkin, hollowed it out to about a one-inch thickness, and poked a few drain holes in the bottom.

I filled the pumpkin with moist potting soil, and then I simply poked the succulents into the soil.

It was a lot like creating a floral arrangement.  I used a different variety, a longer-stemmed succulent cutting, in the middle to add some height.

Pumpkin succulent planter


Pumpkin succulent planter

The pumpkin probably won’t last long.  They never do.  But once the pumpkin is past its prime, I will re-pot each succulent cutting into individual 4-inch pots and, since they are not winter-hardy in my climate, put them in my greenhouse to overwinter.  Once in soil, they take root pretty easily.

I do this every year with these succulents anyway, but this year they just made a pit stop along the way to this pumpkin planter.


A Grumpy Face

The grumpy face that I mentioned having seen in the pumpkin was actually on the top – the part that I cut off when I made the planter.  The stem was the nose.  So, instead of discarding the pumpkin top, I just propped it vertically and gave it a little makeup.

Pumpkin halloween projects


And hair.

Live Spanish moss

For the hair, I used my live Spanish moss.  It had spent the summer hanging from branches on the front porch.  I bring the moss indoors in winter, but it should be okay on the covered porch for now.  I secured the moss to Grumpy Lady by tying it in the bow and then using a safety pin to attach the bow to Grumpy Lady.

I put plastic wrap on the back of the pumpkin top in hopes that it will stay fresh longer.

So, Grumpy Lady now sits in a pot in the corner of the porch waiting to be noticed.

And she’s not happy about it!


I really enjoy my live Spanish moss.  It requires a little care, but it is so fun to use in floral projects like this one.   Live Spanish moss can be found at better nurseries and also on Amazon.

To see plants similar to my hen-and-chicks-type succulent, check out these beauties on Etsy.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel









A DIY All-Natural, Guilt-Free Fall Wreath

Fall is just around the corner, and if you have a garden you know what that means:  Fall garden cleanup!   But why not make it fun?  Today I’m sharing an amazingly simple wreath that I made last year using garden clippings that would otherwise have gone into the compost bin.

The wreath didn’t cost anything to make.  I also didn’t need to use wires, cages, or any other man-made materials so, once the season was over, the entire wreath could be composted.

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Creating The Wreath

I’d been meaning to get rid of an overly-ambitious grape plant that I’d placed along a fence.  The fence was not enough structure for the rambling beast to climb on, so I needed to prune the beast back several times every summer.

But then I saw some beautiful DIY grapevine wreaths on Instagram.  Since I had plenty of grapevines, I decided to try making my own.

And it was so simple.


Start With Green Vines

I used freshly cut vines that were still green and pliable.

After removing the larger leaves from the vines, I started by wrapping two vines around each other.

And then carefully forming them into the shape of the wreath.  I just kind of wove the ends around each other and tucked them in to secure them.

Then I wrapped in more vines, one by one, making sure to wrap them around any loose ends that needed to be secured so that the wreath wouldn’t unravel.  To make sure they didn’t snap, I tried not to force the vines or wrap them too tightly.

They were fun to work with.  The tendrils gave the wreath a lot of personality.



I made two of these basic wreath forms and gave one to a friend.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

I put the second one in my greenhouse for a few days until it dried.

What if I didn’t have grapevines to work with?  I’ve been meaning to experiment with other safe, non-toxic green, flexible vines and twigs.  This year I’m going to try making a wreath with the long branches of my butterfly bush – while they are still green and pliable of course.

Add Accent Foliage

The wreath form had dried to a mellow brown color and was very solid.

By then it was time to prune my hydrangeas, so I cut several hydrangea flowers on long green stems and wound those stems through the gravevine wreath – again using no wires.

The photo below shows the back of the wreath, and you can see the green hydrangea stems winding through the wreath.

DIY Grapevine wreaths

I shook the wreath a few times to make sure everything was secure.

I hung the wreath on the door, and the hydrangeas gradually dried on their own.  I’m not sure if every variety of hydrangea would dry so nicely, but I was lucky with this one.


The Result

The wreath looked nice and fresh for weeks.

DIY Grapevine wreaths


DIY Grapevine wreaths

Turns out that stupid grape plant has value after all.  So it gets to stay.


A Holiday Wreath

I could have simply tossed the wreath into the compost bin once the season changed.  But it was still pretty solid.  I was feeling too lazy to create a holiday wreath from scratch, so I just removed the hydrangeas and re-decorated it for Christmas.

For the holiday version, I used Deodar cedar twigs that I’d found on a walk. The long, flexible twigs worked well to wind around the grapevines.

DIY holiday wreaths


But I cheated this time and added wired pine cone springs (which helped secure the cedar sprigs) and a few other man-made materials that I already had on hand.

Not the best Christmas wreath I’ve ever made, but I went with it anyway.

DIY holiday wreaths

You can’t really see the grapevines, but they are under there!

Wreaths are so fun and easy to make.  If you love experimenting with them, check out some of my other wreaths – like my hoppy harvest wreath, my foraged wreath, and the wreath that the storm blew in.


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A DIY Old-World Concrete Garden Trough

I love anything that has an “old-world” look, and I’ve always admired the ancient-looking concrete water troughs that I’ve seen around Europe.  Many of them have been converted into garden art or planters that grace the gardens and town squares of quaint villages.

But, around here, concrete troughs usually have three significant disadvantages:  They are hard to find, they’re expensive, and they are very heavy.

So today, I’m sharing how I recently made my very own “old-world,” lightweight(ish) concrete trough.

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Starting With A Styrofoam Box

This project is not my brainchild.  I found the method years ago in a magazine – most likely Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living.

What I loved about it was that these concrete-wrapped Styrofoam planters were lighter than similar planters made entirely out of concrete.  And it seemed like a great way to repurpose a Styrofoam container.

Back when I first came across the magazine article, I tried the method using a small rectangular Styrofoam box.  After many years, that smaller concrete planter is still holding up very well (although it’s actually too small to be of any practical use and has been relegated to the no-man’s-land behind the garage).

For this recent project, though, I used a much larger Styrofoam shipping box that had been taking up space in our basement for some time.  I’d been saving it because, measuring at 32″ X 13″ X 10″, it was just the right size to serve as the inner core for a small concrete trough.

But it was significantly larger than any of the examples I remembered seeing in the magazine article.

Would the method from the magazine work on such a large piece of Styrofoam?  I was going to find out.

The first step was to clean my Styrofoam container and pull off the strips of tape stuck to it.

Making Drain Holes

Since this cement trough would be used as a planter, I needed to put a couple of drain holes in the bottom.

Wrapping the Styrofoam Box With Wire Mesh

The next part was the hardest and most unpleasant part:  Wrapping the Styrofoam box with wire mesh.

I used galvanized, 23-gauge wire mesh (also known as hardware cloth) with 1/4 inch squares, similar to this product.

Galvanized wire mesh

Wearing heavy work gloves and long sleeves, I cut it to the sizes I needed with tin snips,

And then formed it as tightly as I could against the box, at times pounding it lightly into place with a rubber mallet,

And sometimes using a little wire to loop through and hold two adjoining sections together.

I did my best to make sure that any sharp edges were pointing inward.  I covered the entire box with wire mesh, lining the inside walls with it as well.

This all took a lot of time and, despite all my precautions, the wire did bite me a few times.


Covering The Wire Mesh With Concrete

I don’t remember exactly which concrete mix the magazine article recommended.  I chose to use Quikrete Sand/Topping Mix.  It’s actually meant to be used as a base for laying pavers or patching steps and walkways.  What I like about is that, when mixed with water, it has a smooth consistency.  It is for projects that will be under two inches (but not less than a half-inch) thick.  (For projects under one inch thick, it’s recommended to replace some of the mixing water with Quikrete Concrete Acrylic Fortifier.)

Wearing gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask, I just mixed small batches by hand (more on that below).

I wanted the trough to have a bit of an old-world patina, so I stirred a few drops of the Charcoal Quikrete Liquid Cement Color into the water that I used to mix the concrete.

The mixture looked darker when it was moist.

I applied it to the Styrofoam box with a trowel, making sure to press it firmly through the wire mesh and then cover the mesh completely.  I smoothed it as much as I could with the trowel.


Then I used a small whisk broom to level the concrete.

I followed that up by smoothing the concrete with a large drywall knife (because it’s what I had on hand), and it worked well.

But I was not going for perfection.  I wanted it to look a little rustic and handmade.

So why did I need to work in small batches?  Because the topping mix that I used can only successfully be applied to horizontal surfaces.  So, I could only do two “sides” at a time:  Whichever two sides were sitting horizontally.  And then that needed to sit in place and dry before I could reposition the trough to work on two more sides.

Needless to say, this project took me a few days to complete although, once I had my stride, it was only about a half hour of active time each day.  I covered the entire box, inside and out, with concrete.

At times, the project got messy and seemed to be spiraling out of control.

The bottom of the trough after cement was applied.

I was wondering if it would even hold up.

But it all worked out in the end.


The Result – And A Problem Solved

This new “old-world” trough helped me get a handle on the long-neglected herb container garden behind my greenhouse.

Before: The chaos of my old herb garden.

Many of the herbs had outgrown their containers or weren’t getting sufficient water.  I moved the larger herbs out of pots and planted them elsewhere in the garden. Then I cleaned up with area a little, and my husband Chris and I leveled a new spot for the trough.

And then Chris moved the trough into the area we’d prepared.  He was able to pick up and carry the trough to its new location by himself.  Had it been a solid concrete trough, there is no way he could have done that.

Once in place, we found we still needed to do a little work to the area.  I was able to tip the trough on its end to get it out of the way and then muscle it back into place by myself.

It’s not super lightweight, but it is lighter than it looks.


DIY concrete garden trough

My cement work is not perfect, and the color isn’t completely consistent.  But, to me, these quirks give it a bit of character.  I am hoping that it develops even more of an old-world patina over time.

DIY concrete garden trough
After: A little order in the herb garden.


DIY Concrete garden trough


Different herbs need different soil conditions and moisture.  The herbs I chose for the trough all do well in rich, moist soil.

DIY concrete garden trough

From left to right, the herbs I planted are:  Chives, tarragon, cilantro, Thai basil, and Italian parsley.

How long will this trough hold up?  Only time will tell.  I will count myself lucky if it lasts as long as the first, much smaller piece that I made using this technique.

The good news is that (although I would not advise trying this) just yesterday Chris briefly stood on the rim of the trough to reach something on the top of the greenhouse.

And the trough held up!


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Rustic Torn-Edge Americana Napkins

In my previous post about my adventures in visible mending, I shared a couple of fabric scraps (one from a bandana) that, when combined, had a fun “old Americana” look.


With a few tears of the fabric and some basic running stitches, they became soft and informal cocktail napkins.  In this post, I share how I made them. (Spoiler alert:  It took hardly any time at all!)


Materials And Tools

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Tearing the Fabric

Before we get started, I have to mention that these napkins only measure about 7 inches square.  If you know your napkin etiquette, you know that this is not a standard size.  It’s very small – even for a cocktail napkin.  But I was working with what I had.  So if you try this project, feel free to make your napkins the proper size.

I wanted a rustic look for these napkins – which meant frayed edges.  Of course the easiest way to achieve this is to tear the fabric instead of cutting it.

I started by measuring the length I wanted the napkin to be and making a 1-1/2 inch cut into the fabric at that point.


Then I simply tore the fabric where I had cut it.  (Sorry the photo below is of the second fabric I used.  But I used the same method for both fabrics.)  I was halfway through tearing it when I took this photo.  After I took the photo, I just kept tearing.  I tore quickly and purposefully, end to end.

Then I measured the width I wanted the napkins to be and used the same cut-and-tear method.  I trimmed away any fabric threads that had unraveled as a result of the tearing.

Not only did I have charming frayed edges now, but tearing the fabric made for nice straight lines – perhaps more so than if I’d cut them with scissors.  And, unless something goes wrong, tearing fabric is so much faster than cutting.

Important Note

Here I must mention that not every fabric is conducive to tearing like this – especially along the horizontal grain line.  This is why it’s important to use fabric that is soft enough to tear both horizontally and vertically.  I laundered my fabrics before tearing to make them even softer.

Anyway, now I had a lovely little stack of torn-edge fabric squares.


Stitching and Sewing

Time for the fun to start.  With the leftover bits of star fabric, I tore some two-inch squares.  I used the fabric glue stick to temporarily adhere one of the little squares to each red bandana napkin.

Then I hand stitched the little square to the bandana napkin with simple running stitches using the embroidery floss and needle.

Soon I had a cute little hand-sewn accent on those napkins.

But what about the frayed edges on my napkins?  Cute as they were, would they start to unravel and cause problems?  Probably.  I would need to stitch or sew around all four edges of each napkin to stabilize them.

And why not make the stitching part of the charm?

For the star fabric napkins, I used the same hand-stitched method – running stitches using the embroidery floss and needle.  I stitched along all four sides  – about a quarter inch in from the edge.

In theory, this project could have been done entirely by hand.  But, when I tried hand stitching on the red bandana napkins, I found that I didn’t have the right color of embroidery floss to make them look good.  So, for those napkins, I did a simple machine stitch along each side – again about a quarter inch in.

Because the fabric was soft, it was difficult to get the tension right on my machine.  I just made sure I pulled the fabric tight while I ran it through.

Anyway, all done!

The Result

I doubt Betsy Ross would be very impressed with these, but I like to think of them as my humble nod to the beautiful work she did centuries ago.



How will they hold up?  As a test, I ran them through the washing machine.  But to be safe, I let them air dry instead of going through the dryer.

A few errant threads came from the torn edges but it wasn’t that bad.  I will just trim them away.

I’m looking forward to using these little cuties soon.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


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Adventures With Visible Mending

I’ve never been much for embroidery or mending.  For a long time, I’d been putting off Chris’s request that I mend a torn glove that he likes to use.  But then I came across a beautiful post by Better Homes on the basics of visible mending.  Since we are still largely in stay-home-stay-safe mode here in my area, I had time to give it a try.

But first I would need embroidery floss.  I found a fun collection of vintage embroidery floss at The Swagman’s Daughter on Etsy.  I ordered six colors, and I love the cards they came on – so cute that I almost didn’t want to use the floss.

Vintage embroidery floss
Vintage embroidery floss from The Swagman’s Daughter.

The shop owner included a note with the package saying that she had recently cleared out an old haberdashery warehouse, and now she has a huge variety of vintage sewing items.  I will definitely be visiting that shop again!

Getting Started

I practiced on the glove (which I still haven’t finished) before tackling some other mending projects.  And, if you are new to visible mending and want to try it, I highly recommend that you practice first before taking a needle to any precious antique textiles you might have.

What I love about visible mending is that it doesn’t attempt to be perfect – or to hide the fact that something was mended:  On the contrary, it highlights it.  The mending becomes a sort of folk art – and a way to make a piece look unique and loved.

Here are few of my simple mending projects.

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Edwardian Tablecloth With Holes

Some time ago, I inherited a beautiful Edwardian-era tablecloth.  The fabric is very fragile, and it has a few holes.


I loved that I could use fabric scraps from my sewing room to create patches.

The patch was secured to the underside of the tablecloth using a fabric glue stick.  And then it was pinned.

Then came the fun part:  Choosing the floss colors.

Using an embroidery needle, I created running stitches in a circular motion with a few straight lines added for interest.


For a larger hole near the edge, I used a semi-circle patch of fabric.


There is not as much of the fabric patch showing through as I had hoped, but I think the subtle look works well for this sweet old tablecloth.



Torn Jeans

I went on the prowl for other things to mend.  Both knees were torn on my favorite pair of Levis, so they were fair game.

This time I wanted lots of color, so I used a bright batik fabric and blue and red floss.



I mostly used simple running stitches in vertical lines.  I drew lines first with tailor’s chalk since I didn’t trust myself (and rightly so) to stitch a straight line freehand.  And, although it’s better to do the stitching right-side-out, I discovered that it is impossible (at least for me) when working on knee tears because the inside of the fabric is so hard to reach.

So I worked on this project inside-out, and it turned out okay.

“Ah, there you are, human. Why aren’t you in the kitchen feeding me?” – Eddie.


I do wish I’d used a different color fabric.  The red looks a bit like I scraped my knees.


A Boring Sail Gets An Edge

I was enjoying visible mending so much that I began to look for other things to mend.  But I couldn’t find anything.

However, the sail on the little toy boat that I’d built with my niece was very plain and boring.

So I made a new sail, and I added a few interesting scraps of fabric.  For this project, I used crossed straight-stitches.

Our innocuous little sailboat is becoming a pirate ship.  With a few more tweaks, we’ll be ready to christen it the “Skeleton Crew.”

My method here was not exactly as recommended in the Better Homes post on visible mending.  I was just experimenting.  But I do highly recommend reading the post (and watching the accompanying video) if you are interested in learning some simple techniques.


Rustic Americana Napkins

I found a couple of fabric scraps (one from a bandana) that I thought had a fun “old Americana” look when combined.

With a few simple running stitches, they became soft and informal cocktail napkins.



More on how I made these napkins can be found in this post.


It’s A Gateway Craft

I have been warned that visible mending is a gateway craft.  It can lead to doing things like intricate embroidery.  But I really don’t see myself going down that path.  I’m happy with my basic running stitches and crossed straight-stitches.

And that’s the beauty of it:  Visible mending is as simple or as complex as you want to make it.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
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