What can I say? I love doing crafts. Every fall, my aspirations sky rocket and I add more ideas to my list. There is the unfinished throw I continue to knit more on each winter, countless pictures needing to be scrapbooked, flowers to be pressed, a quilt to make, and Christmas gifts to think of. While the others in my family laugh at my over-enthusiasm, I'm too stubborn to quit.
My favorite part about crafts is that I can include my love for gardening with it. I've discovered that growing a garden can spark a lot of creativity. The countless opportunities are really quite inspiring. In hopes that I'm not the only one who enjoys making things homemade, I thought I'd share some of my projects with you.
Anyone who enjoys gardening and/or crafts is probably familiar with birdhouse gourds. They're as easy to grow as they are easy to make. Plus, the birds love them! However, this year I tried something different.
Having grown more peppers this year than ever before, we quickly found ourselves overloaded with all sorts of sweet and hot varieties. Our family prefers sweet peppers so it was no surprise that those disappeared rather quickly. The prolific hot peppers, on the other hand, were quickly growing to waste. After photographing each plant, I decided to do a little experiment with the extra veggies. I would take the Candlelight and Cayenne Long Thin hot peppers and string them like popcorn.
I started by picking bright red peppers on a regular basis and storing them in the refrigerator until I had a large amount. Then I sat down, threaded my needle, and got to work. Since both these varieties are fairly small and slender, they were easy to string. I made each string a different length, but their spicy red statement was the same. Then I hung the pepper strings to dry in my bedroom for a few weeks. It's interesting to see the fresh peppers wrinkle up and turn a dark red. After that, they're ready to use. How? Well, I can testify to them fitting perfectly in any kitchen, adding just the right amount of “spice”. I've also hung them on the wall and across tables. Or if you're looking for a real unique look, replace the popcorn strings on your Christmas tree this year with pepper strings! I'm certainly going to try it!
Just be careful when playing with these hot peppers. Too many times after I've strung Cayenne peppers together I have forgot to wash my hands before touching my eyes, causing them to water and even burn. That's definitely not what you need when working on a project! Wash hands immediately after you're finished.
Another very simple craft is the familiar art of drying flowers. Nearly every month of the year there is some flower, leaf, or even weed that is worthy to be pressed. I usually practice the basic method of pressing cut flowers within the pages of a dusty book. I leave them there for a few weeks until they are completely dry and then I paste them onto blank greeting cards to send to friends.
Other people cut bouquets of flowers in bunches and hang them upside down in a dark, warm room to dry. Last fall I purchased some dried flowers from Rosewood Farms and made flower wreaths for Christmas gifts. That was one of the funnest projects I've tried. You take simple vines, which you can either grow yourself or purchase at Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart, and turn it into this bright, beautiful creation. Almost any kind of flower will work. Lavender, of course, is one of my favorites.
I'll share one other easy project that you can try with the kids. Every year I reserve at least a few raised beds to grow my herbs. While each of them offer their individual benefits, many of them are good companion plants as well. Borage is one of them. It's highly grown for medicinal purposes, but I also planted it to improve my tomatoes, spinach, beans, and strawberries.
The plant itself is quite beautiful with blue, white and pink star-shaped flowers. This is where the fun begins. Since the flowers are edible, I cut a handful of them and brought them inside. They're too small for a vase, so I filled an ice tray with water and then dropped the tiny flowers individually on top. With the borage blooms afloat, I carefully returned the ice tray to the freezer for a few hours. When I returned to check on it later, my little experiment had turned out quite pretty. The star-shape flowers were embedded in the frozen ice. They made a perfect addition to the refreshments at my nephew's baby shower. *Note: If you try this project, just be sure to use edible flowers.
I hope by reading this simple blog that you were inspired to try one of these projects or maybe even invent one of your own. Fall is never complete without a craft or two. Keep your eyes open to the possibilities, grab a friend, and be creative! I think I'll go pick up my knitting needles.