Greenery is one of the easiest ways to decorate for the holidays.  We see it frequently in wreaths and garlands.    Here is a guide to common greenery.

Eucalyptus: This is seeded eucalyptus which has more oval leaves and small green seeds.  It makes pretty garlands, wreaths, and filler.  You can also use other types of eucalyptus such as silver dollar.

Cypress:  This evergreen has long branches that drape making it very pretty in arrangements or a wreath.

Cedar/Juniper:  These branches are smaller and fuller.  The are great for filler in vases and arrangements.

Boxwood: This simple stem has dark green leaves.  It is nice for accents, wreaths, and garlands.

Other (not shown):  Holly, Pine, and Magnolia are other common greens that are very beautiful during the holidays.

When it comes to greenery, you can usually buy small bunches at the grocery store.  You may also have a bulk florist nearby to get large amounts.  However, I have frequently taken my clippers outside and pruned some of the trees and shrubs on our property.

Putting greenery together for a table centerpiece is easy:

  • Start with the large pieces, in this case the cypress.  Then add fuller pieces, such as cedar or pine.  
  • Then, add candles, vases, or containers filled with cranberries, etc
  • Use the eucalyptus and boxwood for accents around the focal points. 
One of my favorite ways to shop for Christmas decorations is to shop the after Christmas sales. However, as anyone who has ventured out into the clearance section knows, sometimes the selection can be limited or picked over.  Finding a way to combine the available items into an attractive decor can be a challenge.  Here is how we decorate our stairs.

We combine garland with unbreakable ornaments to to decorate our staircase for the holidays.    We run the garland up the handrail and add gold, silver, green, and red ornaments.

What is your favorite way to decorate for the holidays?

Celebrating our country's birthday.

Merry Christmas everyone! My family is enjoying the holidays by playing games and drinking eggnog. Which, the kids have started calling Yaknog, off of the How To Train You Dragon based Christmas special, Dragons: Gift Of The Night Fury.

Sweet treats, yummy drinks, a warm fire, and lights on a tree make up a lovely holiday. It's a wonderful life! I hope you enjoy your holiday, whatever it may be. Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
We created a birthday party for my son with a Star Wars theme.

A dozen white balloons were turned into storm troopers.  Bottles of soda were turned into "Yoda Soda" .

3 black plastic tablecloths were hung on a large wall.  Then it was covered with stars to create our galaxy.

The R2D2 cake was a simple homemade cake with white icing.  I used a toothpick to trace the shape onto the cake.  I used bowls and other kitchen utensils to get the shapes as straight as possible.  Then I used blue icing to create the outline.

Check out more great Star Wars birthday ideas on Pinterest.
This past week we have been enjoying a fun project, harvesting sunflower seeds! They came out pretty good if I do say so myself.

This is one of our gigantic sunflower heads. It is around four inches bigger then a basketball, but that's just an estimate. On the stem they reached over eight feet tall, and the stem was about two to three inches around. These were the best sunflowers we had ever grown. 

Picking them was no easy task, eventually we got so fed up that we flipped them upside down and beat them on the deck and scooped up the seeds that came out. Which was easy, considering the heads were dry and the seeds were big and loose.

Next we washed them under cold running water, then put down a layer or two of paper towels for them to dry on for three to four hours.

After being washed and dried we set them in a pot of water and half a cup salt, to soak for a day or two.

After soaking we put them on trays, this was a process that required time, each batch baked for one to two hours at three hundred degrees Fahrenheit. A "batch" was a single evenly spread layer of seeds. 

And this is the almost finished project, (We still have a smaller half batch baking.) They taste really good, nutty and natural, and not to salty. We saved some seeds for next year, hopefully we will have this amazing luck with sunflowers again. 

If you enjoy living in the country or have dreams of the "simple life, then this is a good book series for you.  Country Wisdom & Know How covers a large range of topics from animals to crafts to gardening.

Other great books in the series are Garden Wisdom & Know How, Natural Healing Wisdom & Know How, Craft Wisdom & Know How, and Country Wisdom & Know How.   

Catch these great books!