autumn

DIY: Pressed-Leaf Greeting Cards

Living in Michigan means we pay a lot of attention to our foliage—specifically around the time of year that we associate with pumpkins, sweaters, doughnuts, cider, spooky stories, and all that jazz. Yes, we’re talking autumn (or as those of us who like to make fun of people when they trip call it, fall).

The surest sign that fall is coming must be leaves! We’ve got our yellows, our oranges, our reds, browns, and even a few purples here and there. The smattering of colors we see across a stretch of woodland this time of year is genuinely breathtaking, and since I was a little girl, I’ve always been fond of collecting the most beautiful specimens for pressing, saving, and crafting with.

Pressed Leaves - S. Hurd

When one has a large collection of pressed leaves, one must decide what to do with them. I love them most of all when I can showcase them, so I generally opt for framed collages, scrapbook pages, and—my personal favorite—greeting cards, which is what this blog is about.

Now when you begin a leaf-pressing project, don’t forget that the pressing process takes a week or so. Once pressed, the leaves pretty much stay in that form indefinitely (I have a shoebox full of pressed leaves and flowers that are probably around ten years old).

You’ll want to start with a thick, hardcover book. Growing up, I always used my mother's copies of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology (fitting for October, don't you think?). I wouldn’t recommend using a book that’s incredibly special because shoving leaves between the pages can damage the book over time causing staining, wrinkly pages, and spine separation. I like to try to put at least an inch of space between each leaf as I fill a book in, and be sure the leaves don’t have any moisture from outside on them.

Pressed Leaves 2 - S. Hurd

The leaves you press should be freshly collected—once they start to dry out and wrinkle, they won’t fully flatten as easily. I usually give my leaves a week at minimum, but you can check on them after a few days and see how flat and crisp they’re looking. Once the leaves have been fully pressed, you’re ready to start crafting!

Greeting Card Supplies:

-       Cardstock

-       Patterned/Scrapbooking Paper

-       Liquid Multipurpose Glue

-       Scissors

-       Colored Pencils/Markers (optional) 

Leaf Supplies - S Hurd

Start with a long rectangle of cardstock and fold it in half to make the card base. Because the cardstock is much thicker than regular paper, I usually use an object, often the long part of a pen or the handle of my scissors, to smooth down the crease where the card is folded several times pushing down hard against the table.  

As for the size of the card, it’s really up to you. I usually just use whatever paper I have lying around, so my sizes always vary. My personal favorite for the base of the card is not actually cardstock, but watercolor paper—it offers nice texture to the card.

Once you have your card base, cut out rectangles of patterned paper to put on the front of the card—one or two layered offers a bit of depth. I usually eyeball the squares and cut them by hand—they don’t need to be perfect in my opinion.  Glue them on by smearing the entire back of each piece with glue and smoothing it onto the card base.

Glue Paper - S Hurd

Once you have your patterned paper on the card, just start playing! Try different leaf combinations and arrangements until you find what looks nice. Sometimes I’ll do a few of the same type of leaf together, sometimes I’ll go for different color combinations, and sometimes I’ll just do one leaf if I’ve really got a showstopper.

Cover the backs of the leaves with glue, and place them on one at a time. Once they’re in place, you can write a little greeting on the front if you like, or you can just wait and write on the inside.

To finish up, take your card, place a piece of paper towel over the top to catch any glue oozes, and stack a few books on top of the card to press it flat overnight. And voilà, you’ve got handmade, seasonal greeting cards!

Greeting Cards - S Hurd

What’s your favorite fall-inspired craft?

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10 Romantic Films to Watch Every Autumn

Two of the things I love most in this world are the month of October and, well, love. When it comes to love and autumn, I would be hard-pressed to find a better way to indulge than by settling down for a few of my favorite lovey-dovey movies each year once the leaves begin to change. If you’re in dire need of some films to get you in the mood for pumpkins, cozy sweaters, scenic walks, and of course finding the love of your life, check out the ones on this list!

1. Love Story (1970)

dir. Arthur Hiller

Love Story is the classic tale of handsome, pretentious, rich guy falls for sassy, smart, working-class girl, with a tragic twist, of course. The film takes place during the Fall Semester at Harvard University where our two lovers, Jenny and Oliver, meet and fall in love. Love Story is recognized as the 9th most romantic film by the American Film Institute, and though I recall watching it as a young girl and thinking it was five hours long, it clocks in at just under an hour and forty minutes. If you’re looking for a classic to really bring out the nostalia of fall, this is your film.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

2. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

dir. Rob Reiner

I won’t pretend that I’m unbiased when it comes to this film. It’s my second favorite of all time, and everyone should see it. Starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, When Harry Met Sally is the epitome of what a rom-com is supposed to be. It has romance, it has comedy, and it feels whole and real. The film primarily toys with the question, “can men and women ever really be just friends?” Set in NYC during the fall and winter months, the film boasts some gorgeous scenery, and the soundtrack by Harry Connick Jr. is warming to the ear.   

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures

3. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

dir. Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron, who wrote the screenplay for When Harry Met Sally, favored a number of ingredients for her films. She loved New York—specifically in the autumn—she loved strong female leads, and she loved for Meg Ryan to play those leads. You’ve Got Mail was made nearly a decade after When Harry Met Sally, but it still has many of those stylistic elements that Ephron is known for—witty banter, love interests that seem to detest each other, and nostalgia. Staring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail is a cute tale about how love always seems to crop up where it’s least expected.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

4. Runaway Bride (1999)

dir. Gary Marshall

This sweet 90s classic is definitely underrated, and if you’re looking for a feel-good comedy that’s certain to have a happy ending (no matter how many escapes-on-horseback it takes to get there), this is the one. The story follows a young woman (Julia Roberts) who has trouble following through on her numerous engagements, and the handsome reporter (Richard Gere) who winds up falling for her. The small town where the story takes place lends itself beautifully to a bit of fall scenery, and the chemistry between Gere and Roberts is always irresistble. 

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

5. Autumn in New York (2000)

dir. Joan Chen

I’ll clarify from the beginning that this film isn’t the best, but would a list of autumn romance films really be complete without it? I don’t think so. The film follows the relationship of a 40-something man (Richard Gere) and a 20-something woman (Winona Ryder) as they traipse around New York and around their own feelings. If you’re in the mood for a dramatic, tragic, winding tale of love where the actors don’t have great chemistry, give this a shot. At best, there are some lovely scenes of NYC in the fall.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

6. The Lake House (2006)

dir. Alejandro Agresti

We all have those movies that we love because we saw them when we were young and impressionable, and when we watch them later in life, they may seem a little cheesy or exaggerated. The Lake House is a perfect example of one of those films (for me). The concept is muddled; two people live in the same house at different points in time, and they write letters to each other through the house’s mailbox while maintaining their existence within their own present. The result is a somewhat confusing, nostalgic, winding love story, but the mood of the film is perfect for a rainy fall afternoon. Plus, who can pass up Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves?

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

7. Juno (2007)

dir. Jason Reitman

While Juno takes place across several seasons, it has a pleasantly reflective autumn segment, and the coming-of-age themes of the film offer the perfect wistfulness for end-of-the-year viewing. If you aren’t familiar, Juno is a story of teen pregnancy, budding love, parental relationships, and adult romantic relationships, all tied together with a fantastic cast. The film made numerous top ten lists by critics the year it was released, and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. If you haven’t seen it, you definitely should, and if you have, you definitely should again. 

Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight

8. (500) Days of Summer (2009)

dir. Marc Webb

Here’s a film that, despite the title, does not take place exclusively in summer. This quirky, not-a-love-story love story has all of the requirements for our list: nostalgic, romantic, set partially during autumn, etc. Staring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, the nonlinear narrative structure of the movie has drawn comparisons to classics the likes of Annie Hall and High Fidelity, and critics were quick to praise the film. The year it was released, I watched it at least once a week, and it makes a perfect annual fall film (though to be fair, you could watch it any time of year and it would seem appropriate).

Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight

9. Submarine (2010)

dir. Richard Ayoade

This is our only film on the list that does not take place in the United States. Considering that we so dramatically associate fall with American foliage and traditions, many of the films that feel so utterly autumn to us are American. This film though, is a lovely little breakaway from that. Submarine is set in Wales in the 80s. It’s a slightly eccentric and artistic coming of age film about an unpopular fifteen-year-old boy who has an infatuation with a girl in his class. The film is full of overcast skies, winter jackets, and wind-swept hair. I would place this as the most experimental movie on the list, but it genuinely has beautiful images and music.

The Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company

10. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

dir. David O. Russell

First, consider the cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Julia Styles, and others. Following the story of a man with bipolar disorder as he tries to win back his ex wife and meets someone new along the way, the film has both intensely funny and seriously heartbreaking plot points. Jennifer Lawrence won an Academy Award for her role, and the general tension mixed with humor that the movie exudes is excellent. And we mustn’t forget that the film boasts some really nice fall features—leaves, football, sweaters (or garbage bags over sweaters), and so on. 

The Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company

What are some of your favorite fall romances?

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