As the summer fades away and a bleak winter prepares to take it's place, Mother Nature brings us a consolation gift: free art supplies.
All opportunities to lounge by the pool have passed, but you can fill that void with endless hours of manic crafting - for free. Think of how content you'll feel in December when you're bundled up inside with a hot glue gun and dozens of pine cones making a holiday wreath.
In Michigan, this golden window of opportunity falls just between the first days of school and Halloween. If you wait too long, the wind will sweep away falling leaves and the damp ground reeks havoc on sticks, pine cones, and acorn tops.
Throw on a thick sweater and head out to the backyard for an exciting afternoon of artistic scavenging. I know its cold as death outside, but fast forward to three months from today: you will be silently thanking me on Christmas Eve while wrapping your collection of adorable handmade (and virtually free) nature gifts for loved ones. Brace yourself, because you will be amazed at the little treasures just waiting out there to be scooped up and glued together. Seek out vibrant leaves, pretty sticks, pine cones, tiny rocks, feathers, abandoned bird nests, and acorn tops (take only the tops: hungry squirrels need the nutty part). Leave your backyard haul in a warm place for several days to dry out. If you suspect that spiders or other unwanted little creatures stowed away in the stash, arrange everything on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest temperature for 30 minutes or so. Baking the supplies will also dry them quickly.
While you patiently wait for them to dry, check out these gorgeous craft tutorials from creative bloggers on Pinterest and my favorite nature post from the past:
Jewelry Tree (remember this? I loved making it)
Acorn Nest Ornament
Fall Leaf Bouquet
Pine Cone Garland