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Thursday, November 6, 2014

DIY Autumn Lantern Centerpieces

Happy November 6th!

It is 21 days until Thanksgiving, and what a beautiful Thursday morning it is! I love Thursdays. It's garbage day on my block, and there's just something so oddly therapeutic about taking out the garbage in your house. It's almost like it's readying you for the week, you know? You get a fresh start. You take all of the trash cans out of your bathrooms, kitchen, basement, and then pile them neatly on the curb. Then some wonderful truck with some wonderful men(or women) come and take away all that you no longer need/want/use. They take out your trash. They ready your home for the new week. Am I reaching? I feel like I'm reaching...

Anyway, it's too early to really plan out Thanksgiving in a huge way(i.e., do any cooking), but you can get ready by planning who will be there, what activities to do, and how you'll decorate. You might even come up with some wonderful new Thanksgiving tradition!

Thanksgiving in your 20s is interesting. I haven't been home for the last couple of years, and this year will be no different. Sometimes spending it with the families of lovers or friends is a way to do it, but why not throw your own "Orphan's Thanksgiving" at your apartment? It can be a pot luck. But since you're hosting, take it upon yourself to do the main course. Everyone else can bring a side, the drinks, the napkins, etc. It can be big or small. But a Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without those in your life you are thankful for.

The first Thanksgiving in the New England colonies most-likely had game birds, eel, oysters, beer, roasted nuts, venison, etc. You can take a nod to them by adding those things to your menu, but most will associate turkeys with the holiday. Plan your menu around your entree, and have fun with it. But today's blog post won't just be about planning; let's have some fun!

I found this DIY project on my Tumblr. I have an abundance of brightly colored leaves in both my front and bac yard, as well as on my walks with Howl. The leaves at Liberty Memorial are my favorite, since the colors just can't be beat...and it's less than a five minute drive from my house. When doing DIY projects, you shouldn't have to spend a ton of money. You can spend the money on fake leaves if you want to, but I choose to use what's natural. So here's an easy centerpiece/decoration idea for your Thanksgiving table, via CraftRiver.com.

DIY Leaf Lanterns
What you need:

  • Leaves of varying colors(real or fake)
  • Mason jars, vases, anything that can hold a candle
  • Mod Podge(you can pick this up at any arts & crafts store)
  • Sponge brush/paint brush**(this is optional, but it makes it easier)
Choose colorful leaves, the bigger and brighter, the better. That is, of course, unless you're doing smaller glass objects. If your mason jars are little, use little leaves. But try to find leaves that are whole and intact if at all possible. You can buy leaves, of course, at the local arts & crafts store, but I find it to be more fun to find your own. Think of it as a fun little scavenger hunt, especially if you have kids for the afternoon! Nothing beats the after-school blues like getting outside in the crisp autumn air, playing around in crunchy leaves! Kansas City has no shortage of foliage, so why not take advantage of it? Rosedale Park also has some great ones, and you can even find a few perfect specimens in the Briarcliff Park, right off of Mulberry Drive in the Northland. The point is to look around and pay attention, really enjoy the autumnal season and be a part of it. Even if you're not an outdoorsy person, you can have fun with this. You can't say a few hours spent outside would hurt someone. Unless they have photosensitivity or lived next door to a pit of rattlesnakes or something. But you don't see a lot of those in Kansas City. 

Make sure you're working with clean jars/vases/whatever. Glue sticks to clean, dry surfaces, and mod podge is no different. Also, it might not hurt to cover your work area with old newspaper, especially if you're working with small children. If you don't want to go out and get mod podge, you can use Elmer's glue, too, but it won't last as long. Either way, prepare your work space.

Using a sparing amount of the chosen adhesive, paint your leaves on. Be random with it. Overlap them. But be sure to leave a little negative space, for the light to go through. This works beautifully on colored glass, if you find a vase at a garage sale that you really like. A green glass or brown glass vase which could use a little revival would be a wonderful vessel for this project. You can even use this technique on the bottoms of glass serving trays or cutting boards, anything that you don't have a problem with. Just make sure it's not going to go on a surface that you'll be eating off of, since, you know, it's actually leaves and glue.

I've noticed that it takes about an hour or so to dry, so just leave them alone to dry before using. You can finish with ribbon, pieces of straw(as pictured) or maybe some rustic-looking straw/string/twine. This can be a great idea for a centerpiece or for place settings. Maybe tiny mason jars with candles in them, with your guests's names tied on with a nametag? Little things like this that only take an afternoon really put a special touch on your evening. Your guests will walk in and say "Holy Pinterest!" 

My friend JJ works at Yankee Candle Company, and suggest spicy cinnamon candles for the insides! Something about cinnamon is homey, and it is considered to be the spice of making friends in India. It also livens up the party instead of relaxes, so it makes it not as easy to go into a food coma afterwords. 

If you give this a try, please don't hesitate to send in your photos! I will reblog them with great pleasure! And make sure to check out Pinterest and CraftRiver.com for more fun DIY projects!

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