An Unpredictable Mix Of Photos And Chat~

A Fall Dinner With Friends.

Today I'm sharing with you a post script to my last post about bleaching pinecones. In that post I walked you through a loose tutorial about the process and showed you how I used the lovely pinecones in a table centerpiece. If you missed it, please have a look. But today I want to show you the finished tablescape.

Each fall we have the same wonderful couple over for dinner to celebrate autumn and to give thanks for our friendship. It's an evening of lively chat and hearty fare. This year I asked my friend Donna to make us an apple crisp with apples from one of our trees. Although we are having a pork roast and sweet potatoes, I would like to just eat appetizers and fast forward to dessert! What is better than warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream?

Above are a couple of close ups of the centerpiece. I mixed white pumpkins, a bit of grapevine, kraft colored shreds, and my bleached pinecones inside the box Larry made for me out of recycled lumber. To the arrangement I added a small faux bird's nest with a few feathers for texture and interest.

Can you see the little nest here?

To build upon the pumpkin theme, I used mini white pumpkins in champagne glasses to create additional height on the table.

I placed a generous amount of dried hydrangea pedals inside each glass to support the pumpkins.

As an additional touch I added place cards.

Digressing a moment, let's talk table etiquette. Many husbands and wives are polarized on the question of what to pass when someone asks for the salt. I read years ago, Emily Post I think, that proper manners dictate passing both the salt and the pepper shakers, regardless of the request. Like a married couple, they're wed for life. Therefore, no matter which my table mates ask me to pass, I pass the set. 

Larry on the other hand (he's quite the literalist), will only pass one shaker. And yes, that bothers me. However, I think I've created a solution~

I nestled our pretty shell shakers in a little bowl. Hopefully I've conveyed the idea that these two little cuties are going steady. Good idea?

I think this is my favorite of all final touches; a sprig of rosemary tied with a bit of vintage seam binding to a linen napkin. Rosemary is the herb of remembrance. Perhaps that's the reason evidence now suggests that inhaling the scent of this pungent herb each day can help improve memory.

I think the table looks pretty. I love having this element of party prep finished in advance. When I prepare for a party I clean the dining room and set the table first. Then I make sure the powder room has an A+ rating. My thinking is, if everything else falls down around me, at least I'll have peace of mind about the two most important rooms of the evening. But what about the kitchen? you ask. To which I reply, For everything else there's takeout (and MasterCard).

Anyway, I do hope you like my fall tablescape. I got a great addition to my camera lens arsenal this week, and I really had fun photographing the table.

I don't usually talk in depth about personal things such as health concerns. But I'm going to share something that's been going on in my life of late. I suffer with a chronic urinary tract condition known as, interstitial cystitis. If you are unfamiliar with this malady you can read about it here. After enjoying about 18 months symptom free, I suddenly tanked. I was even forced to cancel my scheduled trip to see my beloved St. Louis friends! When a flare happens I do three things. I whine and complain, I begin an intense course of Chinese herbs compounded by my practitioner, and I drive about 40 miles, three times each week, to see my acupuncturist. As a result, and because my life is just generally busy, I have been away from projects and blogging. I love taking photos and writing posts and I resent this unpleasant intrusion and burden to my schedule. But such is life.

I'm only sharing this so you will understand why my posts are so inconsistent, in the hopes that you won't leave me for another blogger. How about if you just think of us as salt and pepper~ mates for life. Very truly speaking, I value highly each visitor to our blog.

Larry has been really busy in the shop and there is some good stuff on the way. In the mean time, thank you sincerely for being here today!



FROM THE PROJECT FILE~ Bleaching Pinecones

An idea came across my Pinterest feed recently that I immediately saved; a tutorial for bleaching pinecones. Do you ever find yourself bereft of new and fresh ideas for seasonal decor? I sure do. I resist the template approach to seasonal decorating; you know, getting out the boxes marked fall for example, and putting each autumn accessory in exactly the same place year after year.

I'm a manic crafter, attracted to new ideas. I like to challenge my creative limits. Therefore, because I've been rooting around for unique fall decor ideas featuring natural materials, this pinecone idea sparked my interest.

The process seemed pretty straightforward so I gave it a try, and I'm happy to share an overview of the technique with you. I had mostly good results. I say mostly because I learned that not all pinecones are created equally. Some are darker, tighter and loaded with more sap than others. These variables affect the bleaching process. So if you decided to try this, remember that your results may vary.

Of course the first step in this fairly easy process is to gather together a few pinecones. Now keep in mind that I live in the Evergreen State and pinecones are pretty easy to come by.

This is what the roadside looks like along my daily walk route with Dallas. Especially this time of year, and during our current stormy conditions, it's easy for me to find pinecones among the blow-down. But you may have to buy them at a crafts store. If you are buying them, make sure they are untreated.

The only things you will need for this project are a bucket (I used a plastic one), bleach, and rubber gloves.

I tried following the Pinterest online tutorial, but after a few mildly successful attempts I developed my own strategy. Here is what to do~ outside if possible.

Mix 2 parts water to 1 part household bleach. I use a whatever dollar store brand because in my opinion, bleach is bleach.

The tutorial said 3 to 1, but I didn't have good luck with a solution that dilute.

-Mix about 2 quarts of water to 1 quart bleach.
-Put about 3 pinecones in the liquid. You don't want to crowd them.
-Weight the pinecones down because they will float to the top otherwise. I used a heavy plate, but          you can also choose to use bricks or rocks.
-After about 12 hours remove the pinecones, but make sure you use your rubber gloves and wear
 clothes you won't mind splashing bleach on if you get a little messy.

I am not what I'd call a measure person. It's really okay to freewheel this project.

The pinecones won't look bleached when you take them out of the water. They will actually close up tight and you might feel disappointed. But take them to a clean spot and lay them out on a towel until they are dry. From time to time, turn them over so that all the water will run off. Your local humidity will dictate drying time.

NOTE: Make sure you change your bleach water after removing your pinecones. I noticed that the water becomes filled with sap and brown pigment, and I was unable to get a second successful bleaching.

I hope, like I, you will be amazed when your cones have totally dried out. Isn't this a beauty?

I know that pinecones have traditionally been reserved for Christmas. But because they are part of our local landscape year round, I am exercising creative license by bringing them inside early.

I combined the pinecones with very white pumpkins in this arrangement. As you can see, you will not get a pure, bright white result from bleaching. The pinecones will lighten up, some more than others. So don't set unreasonable expectations.

Here is an example from an altogether different conifer~

A friend gave me these. Although the brown did indeed lighten up, the red tips actually took on an even deeper hue.

What do you think about using pinecones in October? I'm really enjoying them mixed in with my fall decor. In fact, I like them so much more than the natural dark brown. In my home they look more elegant and provide higher contrast. Your thoughts?

If you try this bleaching technique, please let me know. I'd love to see pictures of your results.

Thanks for stopping by!