Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Simple Side of Decorating for Fall

As much as Autumn decorating is about warm colors, the season is about the warmth of family and friends - the warmth of getting settled in for the chilly winter ahead and the holiday celebrations that are sprinkled throughout the cold.

When I was younger, this was a hectic time - from back-to-school through Halloween and into Thanksgiving and right into the Christmas Season.  By the time January rolled around, I would have exhausted myself, my budget, my patience and my sense of humor.  No wonder January always seemed so bleak!

Now, older and wiser, I decorate with very little: a handful of colorful leaves, a few twigs, a basket of real fruit (good for decor and eating, both), some pine cones from the yard, some Holly sprigs from the hedge.

I don't have to pack away the things that normally fill my home (and I don't have to drag them back out again).

It seems that I have been creeping stealthily in this "minimalist" direction for several years without recognizing  it as a conscious direction at all.  Now that I have arrived, I am thrilled.  It's like "...summertime and the livin' is easy."  I love the way the low, morning sun illuminates the little cluster of Autumn leaves (above) and the fuzzy, warm blanket waiting on the couch.  The aromas of Cinnamon and Cloves rising up from an afternoon cup of Hot Russian Tea (recipe below) reminds me of the times when Autumn arrived with the hectic whirlwind which was a family of eight children.  I miss them.  I miss them not.  They are still with me in so many ways.

They are in every seasonal memory that wanders through my mind.  And they are on the other end of almost every phone call that I get.  They tell me of their preparations and their children's delight and expectations.  They also tell me of their exhaustion and I giggle to myself.  "Take it easy", I say, knowing full well that they won't.  But I know, just as well, that the time will come when they, like me before them, will conclude that less really is more - just as warm and just as welcoming of the chilly winter ahead.

Cold Weather - Hot Russian Tea

Call it Hot Russian Tea or Tang Tea, my kids and I have enjoyed this steamy, aromatic drink since I first heard of it in the 70's. If you've never had it, give it a try. If you haven't had it in ages, now's the time to revisit a bit of the past. Make it for yourself or package it for gifts. I found some pretty little canisters but a jar with a decorated lid works just as well for gift giving.
Mix all ingredients together in a very large bowl. Use 1 or 2 heaping spoonfuls per cup of hot water. Inhale, sip and enjoy.

3 cups Sugar
19 oz. container of Lemonade Mix
20 oz. jar of Tang
3 oz. jar or unsweetened Instant Tea
2 Tbsp ground Cinnamon
1 tsp each of ground Cloves and Ginger

Fall: Decor Made Easy

Decorating for the seasons doesn't necessarily require that we pack away everything that personalizes our home most of the year. After living in Alaska for 13 years, I was so thrilled to return to my home Florida, that my home almost immediately became a collection site for all things "beach". The Gathering Bowl of shells in the living room is one of my favorite things and there was always a bit of regret associated with replacing it with season appropriate decor. Last Christmas I flatly refused to banish it through the winter and tucked bright, shiny Christmas ornaments in among the shells. This fall, I expanded that idea, tore apart the cornucopia that had become an unimaginative yawner and added the plenteous harvest to my precious shells.

I love the look and hope you find ways to incorporate a bit of the "season of the moment" without depriving yourselves of the company of items you truly enjoy.

There is very little new here...4 mums bought early and small @ $2.50 each. Most of the items on my shelf/table were there through the summer and have only been tweaked for Autumn by the addition of the old table runner, a stem of autumn leaves added to the greenery and free pine cones mixed with old artificial gourds set in a rustic ceramic serving tray that was a 50 cent yard sale find years ago. The result is a statement of color and texture acknowledging that we are at least aware and appreciative of the change in seasons.