Decorating for Fall with Leaf Pounding

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September 22 marks the first official day of Fall this year (2012).  The weather is slowly starting to cool down here in the South, and I am beyond excited about this!  Fall at our house is full of outside play, hot tea, neighborhood walks, and opened windows.  It is the season that reminds me the most of change, and it's also the time of the year that I do the most personal reflection.  

I used to not do much seasonal decorating (partly because I'm lazy but mostly because I'm cheap frugal).  But last year I saw a leaf pounding project that I just had to try.  We did some leaf pounding as a family, and it was such a rewarding experience.  Take a look at how we did it below.

What you'll need:
hammer or mallet (this year we will be using a mallet)
light colored fabric (we used muslin)
cardboard scrap (or something soft, smooth, and flat)
cross stitch hoop or frame

What you'll do:
1.  Collect leaves from your favorite places.  We collected leaves on walks and drives through our neighborhood and city park.  Make sure you pick leaves of all different colors.  We looked for bright yellow, orange, red, and green.  

2.  Place your cloth on top of a piece of cardboard.  The cardboard needs to be smooth and laying on something flat (it will put holes in your fabric if your cardboard is on a pebbled surface-ahem, we learned this the hard way).  
3.  Arrange your leaves on the fabric and fold one side over so that you can't see the leaves anymore.
4.  Pound away.  Make sure you don't pound too hard or you'll have holes.  Don't forget to let the kids get involved! 
5.  Unfold the fabric and you'll have the imprints of the leaves left.  You'll notice a few leaves still sticking to the fabric; simply brush them off or leave them.  
6.  Pick your favorite section, cut it out, and place it in a cross stitch hoop or frame.  I wrote the year, members of the family, and where we gathered leaves on the inside of the hoop so that we could keep track from year to year.  I actually liked mine so much that I kept it hanging all year long (or maybe I just forgot to take it down).  :) 

Have you ever done leaf pounding and have more tips to share?  Let us know in the comments!  

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