Recently, I wrote an article for The Washington Post on natural craft decorations for Halloween. It struck me afterward you could use a couple of these projects for Thanksgiving as well. Simply remove the ghosts and spookier elements to create nice autumn displays. Here are the basics of what I did.
My pumpkin vase was a fun, inexpensive project. Though the full directions are in The Post piece, I’ll share a bit about what I did to create this. I cut the top off a medium sized pumpkin and cleaned it out. Then I added pyracantha, mums, barberry, and grasses. My goal was to make a centerpiece that was nearly compostable. Outside of the water-soluble glue I used for the ghost’s head and the handkerchief, it pretty much is.
I thought it would be nice to make something with light so I created this candle centerpiece (see above photo). I started with a low basket to which I added black moss grass, gourds, pumpkins, and other assorted plants. I tucked in burgundy oak leaves for color and some structural interest. The prettiest part though was the beeswax candle in the center. Isn’t that fern pattern gorgeous? I love it. A couple in the Seattle area make these candles, which might still be available. Check out their website, Shipwreck Honey.
Natural Decor for the Holidays
These two projects, because they’re made from mostly natural materials, will last indoors for about a month. Afterward, if you remove the candle and glass, you can compost almost all of the materials. That was the idea, to offer an alternative to plastic, store-bought stuff.
Anyway, in a couple weeks, look for my article on natural holiday decor, which will also come out in The Post. Until then, enjoy your autumn!
I just turned in the follow up to The Forgetting Flower to my publisher. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I hope the team greenlights it soon. In the meantime, I’ve thought of several ideas for a new novel but I’ve struggled with which one to focus on next. The ideas are really characters, a main character who might star in my next story, set where I don’t know, in what time, I’m not sure, in what genre, I have only a small clue. All I know for certain is I have these new characters and no story in which to plop them down inside.
Spotlighted People on Display
In my mind, my characters manifest like wax figures in a museum. They stand on a round platform under a spotlight, slowly rotating so I can get a better look at the their faces, their clothes, their accessories. As they move, they’re not real yet, simply statues of potential. They don’t shout, “Pick me!” or flirt or wink. They only stand in silence with a blank stare, waiting to be activated, waiting for me to point at one and say, “You, come with me.” Then they’ll animate, maybe shake their head out of slumber, and step off the platform to join me in the darkness of the story’s creation.
Photographer in Provence
The first figure is a 30-something woman in a thin skirt and flowery blouse and cloggy shoes. Her hair is pinned up because she’s hot. It’s sunny wear she is. She wears sunglasses and a necklace with a special pendant, carries an expensive camera and a backpack full of photography gear. She’s seeking a unique scene in Provence to shoot, a photo that will forward her career, which has been a failure thus far. But what she gets is a different kind of gem. A cognitively delayed teen will change her life.
A Princess in a Plant Fantasy
Second, a young princess stands in a scarlet dress made of leaves. With a green complexion, she stands out among the other people in this magical world. Her eyes are as dark as ebony, her finger nails are uncommonly hard, and her hair, the color of straw, is thick and silky like grass. Her kingdom is in disarray and only she can save it through political and marital maneuvering. That she may have to sacrifice the creatures of her own culture to do it, rips at her soul. But an ancient hidden tree may be the secret to solving her dilemmas.
A Haunted House of Orchids
An eccentric, curly-haired lord waits in a top hat and black suit. With white gloves in one hand and dissecting kit of tweezers, magnifying glass, and scalpel in the other, he stares off in the distance, awaiting a ship to come into harbor. He’s just hired a young governess to care for his three children because he’s about to embark on an exploration of South America. He’s told her she can enjoy his roomy comfortable mansion but must never go into the orchid greenhouse where a dark secret from his past lurks.
The Botany Detective
In the early 2000s, a dashing 30-something detective leans against a post with his linen blazer hooked over a shoulder. He’s handsome and he knows it, appreciates fine wine, cars, and women. But the death of his beloved gardener mum haunts him every day. He uses the plant knowledge she taught him to solve cases and bring justice and closure to victim’s families. He just wishes he could do the same for himself since his mother’s death, which he believes is a murder that’s never been solved.
Botanique Noire in Paris
On a Vespa scooter, Renia and Andre sit. She drives in a tapestry coat, corduroy overalls, and Doc Marten boots. Andre sits behind in his black racer jacket and brown canvas pants, a leather bag slung across his chest, machete in hand. He’s careful to hold on to the bar behind him instead of her waist, though both wish he’d rather not. They’re headed toward a last adventure in Paris that will test their crafty intelligence and strong resolve to protect plants against organized danger.
A Murky Time
While each of these characters excites me, I also feel a terrible angst. I can’t decide who to invite to step off the platform next. Therefore, these riches haunt me. The indecision is agony. There is one character(s) I’m particularly drawn to. I keep stepping around to inspect the person on their platform again and again. But I’m unsure if that choice is the right one. Still, I think about them and their situation often. For now, I’ll leave the wax museum and head to the garden. There I’ll work until I figure it all out.
Does one of these characters interest you more than another? If you have an opinion, let me know in the comments below!