Bringing the outside in is a great way to help nurture your soul.
Bringing the outside in with a little bit of nature is a great way to nurture the soul. Each season, as well as each region throughout the world has its own special elements. Mother nature continually provides us with her greatest gifts and many are located just outside your door! You just need to take some time and look around. Even if you can’t get outside for whatever reasons, you can always open a window or door. Bring in the scented fresh air on a warm sunny day or the cooling misty air on a rainy day. Listen to the sounds of nature: birds singing, wind blowing, raindrops hitting the roof, or if you are in the country maybe a cow mooing, a sheep baaing, a lamb bleating, a horse neighing or a rooster cock a doodle doing!
Bringing The Outside In: What?
Living in the northeast, spring and summer are the perfect seasons to bring flowers and herbs inside your home. Whether they are wild or bulbs and perennials that you plant, flowers can be found in every color of the rainbow and the scents are intoxicating. July and August are the typical months when many people take vacations, so if you are lucky enough to visit the ocean, bring home some sand, shells, beach glass and driftwood. Are you more of a camper or a day hiker? Take along a bag and search for goodies near lakes, streams or on a trail. Keep an eye out for rocks in different shapes and sizes. Feathers, abandoned nests and strips of birch bark and fun shaped twigs can all be repurposed in your home!
Autumn is another special time here in the northeast and my favorite season too. Trees like oak and pine drop acorns and pinecones while other trees loose their beautifully colored leaves. Sunflowers are large and vibrant. The harvest is abundant with apples, pears, Indian corn (tri color), pumpkins, gourds and other vegetables. Corn stalks and hay are the last vestiges of the summer farms, but are wonderful items to grab.
Bringing The Outside In: Uses
What can we do with these items?
By bringing the outside in we are hitting on each of our senses. Foremost would be the sense of sight which can make us mindful and thankful of mother nature. Floral displays throughout your home can improve your mood, boost energy and help focus. Even a single posey in a small jar is beautiful in itself.
Creating an indoor herb garden in your kitchen will make the room fragrant and give you quick and easy access when cooking. Herbs and edible flowers have incredible medicinal effects (that’s a post for another day) as well as sparking our sense of taste that can help to evoke pleasant emotions in our brain.
I have placed sand from Cape May, New Jersey in a small bowl with special shells and beach glass. It is soothing to look at while meditating and invokes nice memories. Creating crafty projects with rocks, nests, flower petals, feathers, bark and sticks into imaginative objects like my Indoor Fairy Garden sends energy through the sense touch which then stimulates our imagination and helps create inner peace and boosts our mood.
By bringing the outside in with bounty from the harvest, wreaths and centerpieces made with small pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, leaves, produce and feathers reminds us to be thankful of our blessings. It can stimulate our sense of smell which then activates our memory. Cinnamon dusted pinecones, simmering cider with sliced apples and cinnamon sticks, oranges pierced with cloves, roasted squash and pies all come to mind for the sense of smell.
When our windows and doors are open, hearing the sounds of nature can stimulate our mood giving a calming and restorative effect.
Although technically not inside, we’ll go with close enough, Corn stalks, hay and pumpkins can liven up any entry at this time of year making a festive statement.
Bringing The Outside In: Preparation
How do we prepare our gifts from the out of doors?
- Flowers– when cutting flowers outside, make sure to use a good pair of floral cutters or pruning shears. Once inside, cut the flowers in the sink under running water. Make sure to have a nice sharp cut without jagged edges. I use a paring knife to remove stems and thorns that will be below the water line. Have your vessel near by and filled with water and some flower food. Immediately place the blooms in the vase and arrange.
- Pinecones– There are a couple schools of thought on pinecones. If you have ever picked one up, you already know they are sticky and dirty. Some people don’t mind that and will just put them in a bowl for an all natural look. If this resonates with you, my suggestion would be to place them in a garbage bag and tie it up for a day or so. This will at least get rid of any little critters that might be hiding inside!
My preferred method is to wash my cones lightly with a scrub brush under warm water. Then I place them on a foil lined baking sheet with a wire rack. I bake them at 200 degrees anywhere from an hour to 2 hours. Rotate every so often and check on them consistently so they don’t burn. After cooling they are ready for use!
(I actually just read about bleaching pinecones on the Garden Therapy blog. She has step by step instructions if you are interested in this look.)
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- fruits– Especially in autumn, I love having dehydrated fruits around. It’s as simple as slicing to 1/4 of an inch, placing on a parchment lined baking sheet at 200 degrees or lower. Baking times will vary from 3-6 hours or up to 8 or more. Remember to flip the fruit so the side against the pan doesn’t burn. These will last for months, so essentially the whole fall season you can have dried fruits!
- Rocks, Acorns and Shells– these should be washed with a mild soap and scrub brush. Dry thoroughly if they are going to be painted. Acorns look especially pretty with a plain satin sealer.
- Feathers, Nests, Bark and Sticks- similar to the first method of cleaning pinecones, these items should be placed in a bag and sealed tightly for a day or two.
Bringing The Outside In Notes:
Spending time outside in nature is preferable and extremely beneficial to us. It can help to ground us, heal us and bring inner calm and peace. Get outside to garden, hike, kayak, run around barefoot in your yard, go swimming, have a bon fire. And while you are at it, be mindful to look around for things you can take home. Bringing the outside in can be just as rewarding for those that can’t get out.
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