Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bringing the Outdoors In...

Sinterklaas. Nisse. Father Christmas. Père Noël. de Kerstman. De Goede Sint. Whatever one calls him, however your family celebrates the season, traditions the world over agree that at one point the personage of St. Nicholas did, in fact, exist. It may have been a simple idea of a gift freely given in a spirit of love and peace. It may have been the wonder lighting a child's face with joy and smiles to awaken to a house transformed by the magic of love. It may have been a form of worship or celebration done in secret to protect the lives of friends and family for those who grew up in areas of persecution for their religious beliefs (whatever they may be).
Either way families and children join together the world over to celebrate a spirit of giving and a season of love, hope, peace and joy. These celebrations and traditions are passed down from generation to generation, spreading that spirit and sharing that love.

I remember as a child sitting at my grandparents’ knees where we heard stories of growing up during the great depression. These stories helped spark a desire for learning and reading. Hearing them talk about decorating the house with strings of popcorn or hanging pinecones from the windows gave several childish ideas and questions. Now that I have children of my own and want to share “new-to-us” traditions, I’m pulling old ideas out and throwing in a twist.

This past week we watched a movie about Sinter Klaus. The children received a simple, hand-carved, well-made gift early Christmas morning. Idea: what’s one tradition of decorating that deals with wood? Hand-carving? Not me. Pine cones! There are so many cute crafts available with pine cones – dipping and rolling them in paint, spray-painting them, hanging them from the ceiling or hiding them amidst the greenery. Acorns, leaves, rocks – all the little treasures we like to collect on nature walks. And those ornaments that are just laying around the house needed to be displayed. But how? LB took a glittery ornament and a pine cone, pretending they were balls, and threw them to her seizure-alert dog. Idea!

LB, C-o-M and I took the treasures and compiled them into a clear fruit bowl we had sitting on a shelf collecting dust. There are recipes online for baking the pinecones and acorns in essential oils to make a type of potpourri. We used an essential oil room spray and doused the items before baking in the oven at 250 degrees for 1-1 ½ hours. (Using essential oils, I believe it has to be baked for 3 hours.)

 We put down a bed of leaves and pine straw before placing 5 pine cones into the bottom of the bowl, four around the side and one in the middle. We then put a glittery ornament between each pine cone. Next, we put pine cones on top of the glittery ornaments and put ornaments on top of the bottom layer of pine cones. We put some leaves between the sides and the middle. 
We alternated each layer, interspersing the leaves and acorns, until we had the finished project, shown here:   

As needed, I take the essential oil room spray and touch-up on the pinecones. It brings a little of the outdoors in and helps us to appreciate nature, and the season, more. 

A (no-mess) idea for the glitter ornaments can be found at It's day 14 on the 25 Days of Christmas!


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We are all fearfully & wonderfully made, so let's see how much of that wonderful we can share!