Get a Fresh Start!
5 Truly Economical Ways to Bring Nature In.

By Cyndy Bolton

If you're like me, this time of year you may be looking for inspiration. The sun feels warmer, the birds are returning, and bulbs are breaking through the winter-hardened ground.

There are an abundance of ways for you to freshen up your living space and not have to spend a cent. So get your jacket and galoshes on. You will also need your pruning shears, garden gloves, a bag to carry your treasures in, and your digital camera.

Designate a time and location for your excursion. It can be to a park, or a lake side walkway. You decide. Slot it in for an hour, half of a day, or make it a full day of exposure to sweet nature. If you live in the city, plan a drive to the country and bring a friend. A country drive can sooth the urban spirit. Pack a light lunch and truly make a day of it.

Here's what to look for:

  1. Interesting shapes and patterns in nature. If you need to dress up your dining table centerpiece, look to the ground for chestnuts and pine cones. Once you get these home you can decide whether to keep them natural, or spray paint them to match your decor. They look lovely all in white in a stainless steel fruit bowl.

  2. Dried grapevine. These cuttings are very versatile. You can put smaller ones in a vase, or shape them along a railing, or into a natural wreath for your front door.

  3. Dried berries. This is the time of year to gather berries that still have their color. If t hey made it through the winter with color, then they should be able to maintain it in your home. Be careful! Your pet or child may tend to nibble on them, so keep them out of reach.

  4. Sit for a moment and look around. Take photos of what you see in order to capture images of the day. You can take a picture of the chestnut or pine cone before you picked it up. This makes a nice complimentary collage - the framed picture and the actual item on display. (FUN!)

  5. If you can't manage to get out to the park, hunt for natural items at your decor store. Items that are made from metal, wood, cloth or stone will suit you just fine. Remember to hunt for the bargains.

Bringing nature in, you will find, can be an experience that creates a memory. It feels good and is fun too! Clean your items before you bring them into your home, and prepare to be creative.

Also, do your research before you go. Check to see if you need permission from the private property owners before you step onto their land. A stress-free visit withthe outdoorsis what you're looking for, and will enjoy the most.