Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall, Preserved

The color is probably at its peak right now, and every walk to school and drive to town has us pointing and oohing at the trees.  Annie and Jemma love to swish through the fallen leaves on the sidewalk and jump wildly into the pile of orange and red that our neighbor raked together for just that purpose.  I mostly, true to form, want to press the pause button and bottle all this color up, so sad to know that in a few short weeks, a strong wind will have sent the last leaf to the ground and we'll be faced with months of grays and browns and whites.  

Yesterday Jemma and I did a fun project that will let me preserve a tiny bit of this riotous fall color.  Every year, I try to bring a few leaves inside - maybe scatter them down the center of the dining table, or tuck a few under a vase on the mantel - but they always lose their luster and crumble after just a few days.  So when I read about this idea, I knew we had to try it.  Here's what you do:

Walk to the store to buy a block of paraffin wax (look for it at the grocery store, near the canning supplies) and one of those disposable aluminum pans (baking aisle).  On your way home from the store, give your three-year-old the task of gathering the most beautiful assortment of leaves she can find.  (Choose some yourself, too, because you can't resist.)  When you get home, cover your kitchen counter with newspaper, then wax paper.  Drag a chair over to your stove and get ready to melt the paraffin wax in the aluminum pan over low heat on the stove, like so:

While you wait for the wax to melt, lecture your three-year-old 45 times about how HOT! the wax will be.  It will be HOT!  Tell her to only hold on to the stem of the leaf.  When the wax has mostly melted, take a leaf by the stem, submerge it completely into the wax, let a bit drip back into the pan, and then lay it to dry on the wax paper.

Let the leaves dry completely, then peel them easily from the wax paper.  When you finish, you'll have dozens of beautiful waxed leaves to use in art projects, put in glass bowls on your dining room table, string up to make garlands, and tuck into vases.  

Jemma and I had fun doing this, and I'm so pleased to have little pieces of fall color to scatter all around my house that will last at least until Thanksgiving.  Because, sadly, the leaf pile outside is going to get sucked up by the city trucks at the curb sooner than I'd like, and then there will be no more of this:

or this:


  1. I LOVE this picture of Jemma in the leaves...and the project is just what I was looking for. We collected leaves yesterday, and I was going to search for something fun to do with them today. Thanks.

  2. Could your girls BE any cuter?

  3. Uh - I don't have ANY idea why it posted me as "Mary" - I don't even KNOW a Mary! Weird.