Happy November to the Capper's Farmer family! For most of us, the harvest has been gathered in, and we are completing preparations for the winter that will, no doubt, be upon us before we can blink twice. Hearth and home are true focal points at this time of year as we bring the colors of fall into our homes.
Here at Farm on the Hill in southwest Wisconsin's gorgeous Driftless Region, the riot of fall color we thoroughly enjoyed is but a memory ... grays and browns are taking over, and the smell of wood smoke spices the air as we fire up the wood-burning furnace.
This is the time of year when I begin to think warm and cozy as I walk around the farmhouse, placing extra throw blankets on the couch and easy chairs, and pulling out candles with the warm scents of cinnamon and vanilla.
I love to have my kitchen and dining room tables wear a simple decoration throughout the fall, and then get dressed up for Thanksgiving. And my favorite table decorations come from and reflect the bounty of the fall harvest.
My everyday table is accented with the natural beauty of tri-color popcorn, a canning jar, and a tealight.
As the harvest season progresses, I love to decorate my table with winter squashes. These little decorative ones were super inexpensive at my grocer, but acorn and butternut squashes work just as well, and can be eaten as they ripen beyond their "decorative life." The larger the squash you use, the larger the canning jar should be.
My dining room table gets dressed up for Thanksgiving in much the same way, but with extra candles and the addition of nuts in the shell. While nuts in the jar are expensive, nuts in the shell are purchased in the bulk section of your grocery store, and can be stored in the freezer after they've finished their time on your table, thus being useful for many years. (You'll know when it's time to replace them by their smell ... but mine really do last many years!) I love walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds ... but if you are blessed with an oak tree in your yard, acorns can be gathered at no cost other than a little exercise!
Apples and pears can be easily added to this table decor on the celebration day for an extra pop of color and fun. Small, fallen branches with still-pretty leaves clinging to them or clipped stems of shrubs from your yard can be added. Simply walk around your property ... what looks pretty and won't be a wet or sticky mess on the table do you see? Bring the outdoors in.
Once Thanksgiving is over, place the popcorn into zipper-lock baggies and store in a dry location. (I put it into the drawer where I store my candlesticks and placemats); cook and eat the squashes; and enjoy the fruit if you used it!
Nuts in the shell also go into a zipper-lock freezer baggie (I actually double-bag these to prevent absorption of freezer odor over the years of storage) and then into the freezer. Label the baggie as "Decorative Use Only ... Do NOT Eat!" if you plan to store them for more than six months. Make them easy to find in the freezer ... you can use them again for Christmas, and I'll be sharing more inexpensive holiday table decor inspired by nature come December, so stay tuned!