Thursday, September 23, 2010

An autumn wreath and roasted chestnuts

In celebration of the formal arrival of autumn
The past few days the chestnuts have been dropping from the big tree in the back yard, Keenan and Kaleena have been very excited about gathering these treasures, it is the first thing they do when they wake up and the last thing before going to bed. They have become master tool users in their efforts to free these treasures from their spiky shells
Today we roasted them in the oven, as they do not keep very long unless refrigerated or frozen.
We examined the difference between the chestnut and the buck eye, as the buck eyes are poisonous to eat. When they are in the shell it is easy to tell them apart as the edible chestnuts have very unfriendly shells. The one on the left is the buck eye, they are smooth all around and shinier, the edible chestnuts have a matte finish and comes to a point with a little "tail" on them.
As we are very familiar with these nuts, the children could tell them apart without problem.
To roast them I cut an X with a sharp knife on the flattest side, piercing the shell completely
then I put them all on a stainless steel pan, set them in the oven on 425 for about 30 minutes
then sprinkled with sea salt
the children both really enjoyed de-shelling them and loved the sweet potato taste of the chestnuts
While sitting outside eating our roasted chestnuts I got started with a wreath I have had in mind for a while now. We have been gathering treasures from nature for weeks now, and the piles are growing, so I decided to make a wreath that will serve as the center piece on our dining table. Inside the wreath I will place bees wax candles which I plan to make later this week.
To make the wreath I used a grapevine base and a glue gun, then I simply added any and all the things we had found. I even used the skin of the roasted chestnuts as we were pealing them. I realize that the buck eyes that I added will shrivel up some, but  think they will still look lovely.
I had a general idea of how I wanted the finished wreath to look, but really just allowed the natural flow of creativity to guide me more than anything, and so it actually turned out very different than I had initially imagined.
I  love how it turned out, and look forward to adding it to out table with a candle and a simple cloth under.
~Thanks for stopping over, and may you have a wonderful autumn season~

21 comments:

  1. Your wreath is gorgeous and I love that it will weather naturally as the season progresses.
    We still have a few weeks to go before the real Autumn treasures start to fall, but we will be keeping an eye out for them now.

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  2. I love this! I wish we had more nut trees around here. All we get are ginormous pine cones and teeny acorns.

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  3. What a beautiful wreath! You have inspired me to have a go at making something similar. Thanks.

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  4. Beautiful wreath. We started working on a wreath today too. We love collecting horse chestnuts at this time of year - I think they are the same as your buckeyes. Sadly no sweet chestnuts in our area. Happy autumn!

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  5. It's beautiful Christina. I look forward to making one with the boys, we just don't have much room at the moment. Much love to you and babies.

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  6. Just lovely! Karen
    Sippy Cup Central Mom

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  7. That's beautiful! I've always wanted to roast chestnuts, but I've never seen them around here. We made a similar wreath last year around Thanksgiving with shelled nuts. I saved it in the attic so I'll have to pull it out when it cools off a bit. :)

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  8. oooooooooh these are so great! I have to get cracking on our fall crafts... hard to in Florida... needs to be just a tad cooler... crossing fingers. :-)

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  9. That is a beautiful wreath! My goodness, it is so well-made. I have hoped to make a similar creation for a few years now, but seem to get side-tracked by other projects. Perhaps this is the final nudge to make it happen and if it turns out half as nice, I'll be so happy! Thanks for inspiring me!!!

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  10. Beautiful wreath. We just moved to Asheville at the beginning of August and I remember as a kid in Japan going into the woods for chestnuts. Do you know of any area that I could take my kids to gather chestnuts in the wild?

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  11. Beautiful! You live in the perfect spot for nature gathering, such diversity. I have dear friend who recently moved to your town, so someday... someday...

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  12. What a great platform for autumn's bounty. It will look beautiful by candlelight too.

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  13. this one is gorgeous! Koreans love chestnuts, and we add them to sweet rice desserts with dried Korean dates, and pine-nuts.

    What is the nut shell half that you put on the wreath? To me these look like the end of an elephant's trunk. (Though I imagine in real life these two look very different...) We have these shells near our home too.

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  14. Yasmin, I do not know of any places in the wild around here, I know a place out in marshall, but that's a bit far. We are fortunate to have a big old tree in the yard:)

    Abbie,
    The pretty half shell that to me always looks like a perfect heart is from the black walnut. I keep thinking I want to use these halves to make print with. One of these day. I assume that is the one you are referring to, I used so many different things found all around:)

    Thanks to all you lovely ladies for all the lovely comments!!!

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  15. so nice that you posted this. the chestnuts can be confusing. many commented on eating the buckeyes that i posted about and i intended to clarify, but haven't yet. ;)

    you make roasting the sweet ones look easy. was it? i read that it can be tough to put that little x in there and also to open them afterward. we have these at dandelion hill and i have thought about doing this with the children, but wish for it to be successful! thanks for the inspiration!

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  16. Rae,
    It was indeed much easier than I would have thought, I used a sharp parring knife, and aside for a couple of minor slips, it was rather simple. After roasting it is easy to remove the shell which has become very hard. Both Keenan and Kaleena could do this once they had cooled slightly.
    I think you can do this successfully with with your group:)

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  17. This wreath is irresistible Christina! So earthy with a festive look ... one I would sit on my table ALL year round! As for roasting those chestnuts YUM. We have a chestnut festival in the nearby mountains each May ... so much fun ... ooh my mouth is watering as type! Thanks for the memories.
    Donna :) :)

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  18. Beautiful wreath...and I can almost smell the chestnuts roasting!

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  19. Well, if that wasn't a good substitute for a nice roaring fire on a crisp afternoon, I don't know what is. I've done a wreath something like that, but far less blessed in variety and interest. How cool that you live in a place where you can gather all that stuff. I'd have to use shriveled up pears and plums, box elder wing-nuts and a few sort of wimpy pine cones. I'd tap dance in spandex for a tree that shed acorns - and or hazel nuts - now chestnuts. Blessed you are.

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