We love fall! The smell of bonfires in the air, the crunch of leaves beneath our feet, & cold weather accessories! I think it’s a favorite time of year for a lot of folks, but growing up in Florida gives you a special appreciation for that time of year where everything goes from green to golden. You don’t get much of a scenic change in Florida from season to season (or get to wear cute fall clothes without sweating lol!), but it is a much different scene up here in northeast Alabama. Mountains covered in rows of trees moving from green to yellow, orange, & red (& mountains of leaves in our yard). Gorgeous, blushing fall sunsets of pink & purple. & lots of overcast skies, which I used to despise, but have been surprisingly comforted by this year.
Fall is a season of change. A time to shed the old away & make room for newness & growth. Change can be a great thing, & is something that we are currently welcoming into our lives with open arms. One of the changes is the fact that our Onyx is not really a baby this year. Even though growing up is always bittersweet, we have so enjoyed sharing this fall with her. While it’s technically not her first fall, it’s the first one that she has been able to get out and experience. To commemorate our fall experience, we are making leaf skeletons! It’s something we have always wanted to try and now we have a good reason.
Feeling crafty? Try it out with us:
What you will need:
-Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (this post is not sponsored by Arm & Hammer)
-A large pot & a shallow baking dish
-A small, stiff, blunt paint brush &/or a soft toothbrush (the soft toothbrush worked best for us)
-Rubber or latex gloves (the washing soda is very drying to skin & can cause irritation) & paper towels
-Some waxy leaves & some patience
Gather yourself some new (yes, new green leaves, unlike the beautifully withering fall ones) waxy leaves. We used wild hydrangea & magnolia leaves because that was what was available to us.
Mix the washing soda & some water in the pot. I have been told to use 4 cups of water & 3/4 cup of washing soda, but I doubled the water & washing soda so we would actually have enough liquid to cover our big leaves. Stir the mixture while heating on med-hi until the washing soda starts to dissolve. Add the leaves & bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
Now, the length of simmering time was an experiment for us since I have read several different methods on how to do this, and each method gives a different suggestion. The suggested cooking times ranged from 20 minutes to 2 hours, so we started with 30 minutes & that definitely was not enough for the leaves we chose. We ended up simmering a full 2 hours (checking them about every 30 minutes) & probably could have simmered them a little longer. Once you feel that your leaves are ready ( I tested ours by gently scooping one out of the pot with a spatula & brushing it just a little to see if any of the pulp moved away), fill the shallow baking dish with about 1/2 inch or so of cool water & place the leaves (we did our one at a time) in the dish.
Get your gloves on & go to work! Start gently brushing the pulp away from the skeleton. When I say gentle, I just mean don’t go crazy! You can actually be a little rougher than I initially thought, but start slow & add pressure as needed. This is where the patience comes in handy, it was a little more work than anticipated (or maybe it would have been easier had we simmered the leaves longer?). Once all the pulp is removed from the skeleton, pull them out of the dish & fill the dish with clean water, put the leaves back in & give them a swish to rinse them (rinsing them under the faucet can damage them, so use caution if you decide to go with that method). Now, you can stop here & go to the drying process if you want black/brown skeletons, we wanted white ones, so after the rinse we soaked our leaves in bleach water until we reached the desired color (several hours).
To dry, pull the leaves out & lay them on layered paper towels to dry. If you want your leaves to be nice & flat put paper towels on top of them as well and set a couple of heavy books on top, we left ours dry like this over night. If you want a more naturally, curly look to your leaves, just leave them out uncovered to dry on the paper towels.
Behold your leaf skeletons! Thanks for sharing this fall experience with us!
Until next time…
With our love,