10 Tips for Decorating for Fall

I love to add a few decorations for each season. Autumn is one of my favorite times to add some seasonal décor because of all the rich colors. Only a few additions will make a big difference. Here’s 10 tips for Fall Decorating.

1. Use a tablecloth with Autumn colors such as brown, rust, orange, or burgundy to bring color to your dining area.

2. Make or buy an Autumn centerpiece for your table. Here’s a post on How to Make a Simple Fall Centerpiece that even someone with two left thumbs can do.

3. Use pumpkins, gourds, and pinecones for decoration accents around the house.

4. Use candles and accent pieces with Autumn colors.

5. Glue different color leaves onto a poster board making a collage of color. Then frame it and hang it in a prominent place.

6. Take a hike through the woods and take photographs of the leaves changing colors. Blow up and hang the best photograph.

7. Cut holes in the top of gourds and place flowers in them for unique vases.

8. Attach dried cornhusks to porch posts or set them on either side of your front door.

9. Add a few fall colors to your flower arrangements.

10 Hang an Autumn wreath on the door.

Happy Autumn!!!

Top 10 Photography Tips for the Photographically Challenged

rickMy husband, Richard Kraft, is awesome at photography. The smile gets me every time. Me, not so much. But I asked him to help me so I could take decent pictures for FaceBook and my blog.

I’ve included some of the pictures he’s taken in this post. His picture is to the left. Isn’t he handsome?

He was so helpful that now my pictures are in focus and don’t cut off people’s heads – at least most of the time. I’m even impressed by some of the pictures I’m taking. Even more important, I’m not embarrassed to post them.

Rick 1I asked Rick if he would share some tips on my blog for those of us who are photographically challenged. Here’s the top 10 tips he came up with.

1. Get on the same level as your subject. Dogs, cats, birds, etc. are smaller than you. Be sure to get down with them for your best shot.

2. Get as close to your subject as possible.

Rick 23. Use the rule of thirds when composing your photograph. Your picture will be more interesting if your subject is at one of the 1/3 marks on your camera screen. Look online to see a more complete explanation.

4. Ensure your focus is sharp. You can check your focus if you enlarge a portion of the picture. Look at the eyes or other fine details.

Rick 35. Hold your camera still. Camera shakes when snapping the can ruin a beautiful picture.

6. Pay attention to the light and ensure you don’t have shadows across your subjects face. Light coming from behind your shoulder will ensure your subject is shadow free.

7. Try to capture your subjects when they aren’t aware of you. People, when they are unaware of the camera, provide some of the best shots.

Rick 48. Try to take your pictures with a solid background so your subject isn’t lost in it.

9 If your subject is backlit by the sun or other bright light, use your flash.

10. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can always delete the shots that aren’t any good. And have fun!

So here’s one of my photos I took with Rick’s help. If I can take a picture like this, anyone can.

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Guest Author Jenna Kraft – Top 10 Tricks and Tips for Gardening

JennaJenna Kraft

Hmm, a little about me? Well, I live with my awesome husband and two sweet boys in southeast Tennessee where the ground is made of clay and rocks. I’m a quirky, aspiring author. I love interesting words and long walks in the park. No, really.

I’m currently submitting children’s picture books, while writing a novel, being a mom, gardening, and making jewelry. Since only one of those things has a link you can look at, *Shameless Plug Here* here’s a link to my jewelry work.   www.strandofmemories.com If you like my post on gardening, maybe I’ll visit again sometime with more naturey kind of stuff.

Top Ten Tricks and Tips for Gardening

By Jenna Kraft

I’ve always been enthusiastic about nature and the outdoors. As little girl, I would chase lizards around and play in mud while wearing dresses. As an adult… I don’t think I’ve changed much, but I am more careful about getting dirt on clothes. It has been a joy to introduce my sons to mud pies and Blue-Tailed Skinks, and anytime they find a worm, they plop it right in my garden. That was their first tip on making a garden happy.

Apparently, playing in mud is hereditary, but they’re still cute. ^_^

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Here are some tips for the rest of you:

Jenna 11. Got Aphids? These little buggers are the bane of every rosebush. I was torn between spraying pesticides that would kill the aphids’ natural predators (like lady bugs) and saving my roses, when I stumbled upon this excellent trick. Put your water hose on a higher setting and spray away at the affected areas. While adult aphids can fly, the babies can’t. Doing this once a day for two weeks cleared my bushes for the summer and left the lady bugs to pick off stragglers!

2. In case you haven’t heard, coffee grinds and eggshells are in! While there is debate about the amount of calcium that eggshells add to the soil, they do keep the slugs away. There is no debate that coffee grinds are an excellent source of nitrogen, among other things. I just keep my eggshells until I have about two dozen and a pot or two worth of coffee grinds. Then I put the eggs in a blender until they are in small pieces and sprinkle the mixture on my garden. It gives great results. Also, coffee grinds are slightly acidic, so they work great with plants like hydrangeas. Just be sure to sprinkle, not dump on, the grinds as they can form a water barrier if they are heaped. http://www.sunset.com/garden/earth-friendly/starbucks-coffee-compost-test-00400000016986/

I put mine in a container with a shaker lid for ease.

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Jenna 23. Mulching fertilizes, helps keep moisture in the soil, and helps keep down weeds. It’s a go to for any gardener, but sometimes weeds still stage a takeover. It’s tempting to put down weed barriers under your mulch, but those can prevent nutrients and moisture from reaching your plants. A great way around this is using brown paper bags or newspaper (use more than one sheet for more durability) under your mulch instead. The moisture will still get through, and as the paper decomposes, it adds nutrients back to the soil.

4. Fire ants in a garden have to go, but I have little boys. So, I want to do it in a way that won’t hurt my kids. Diatomaceous earth is perfect. Once sprinkled on an ant nest, it breaks down the waxy coating on their exoskeleton causing them to die from dehydration. Not only is it safe if my kids accidentally get into (it’s the remains of diatoms- chalk basically), people actually consume it in food grade form for digestive issues! It’s an all around great product with lots of uses.

5. When starting a garden, you have to pay attention to how much sun your spot gets and what zone you are in for planting, but there are also micro-climates in regions or even in your own back yard! Where I live in Tennessee is zone 7, but I have sheltered places in my garden where I can get zone 8 plants to thrive. They love the warm stone fJenna 5oundation of my house, and my azalea blocks the direction that the cold winter winds blow. Be aware of your weather. A valley in zone 6 may have a zone 7 micro-climate, or maybe just a nook in your bed does.

My Victoria Blue Salvia is zone 8, but even after a very harsh winter she came right back.

6. This year I had a neighbor’s cat wreck havoc on my ground cover plants. They were dying, and my garden reeked of cat pee. We had tried startling him, but the cat was determined. So, we put out mothballs. The smell is strong for a day or two but then diminishes with the mothballs. They will keep both cats and dogs away, and by the time the mothballs have dissolved, the offending animal will have developed another routine for its business. These however, you will want to make sure that little hands do not play with (sometimes stinky things are intriguing).

The dianthus was his prime target, but it sprang right back.

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Jenna 97. Do you have a toad house? These cute little items are more than just decorative. They offer toads a suitable shelter from weather and predators, and who doesn’t want a slug eating machine in their gardens?

 

Jenna 88. Even though they eat garden pests, it’s unlikely that any of us are a fan of wasps. Can I get an “amen”? However, the vast majority of parasitic wasps are incapable of stinging and are great garden warriors. Scientist have even utilized them in controlling invasive insects worldwide. So next time, do a double take before you squish. It may be a comrade in arms.

9. Did you know that gardening can make you happy? Meet the beneficial bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae. It lives in the soil and gets released into the air during gardening. Once breathed in, it acts as a mood booster. Some studies have even found it as effective as anti-depressants! http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jul/raw-data-is-dirt-the-new-Prozac

Ladybugs make me happy too.

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10. Finally, the last of my top ten tips and tricks: Prayer. My whole life people complimented my mom on her beautiful gardens and ask what her secret was. She would tell them that she prayed every time she planted something (and sometimes a little extra if it was looking sad). She doesn’t do it like a magic chant. She really loves plants and cares about them, so she figures that God does too. I get my love of green things from her, and my gardens get watered in prayer. Now, when people ask me my secret, I tell them that I pray over my plants…though the coffee grinds help too.

This beautiful Tennessee Valley sunset was painted by the same God who cares about you- and your tulips.

Jenna 12