Advent Decorating Ideas—- Go Native!

Why not use the bounty of our natural Western North Carolina landscapes to bring inside the anticipation and excitement of this special season?

There are so many different plants that work well in vases, on tables, tucked into a wreath, or even above door frames or windows.  Use matte or shiny spray paint as a fixative- clear or a color- they even make sparkly ones 😀 …often I find this to be a more cost effective and time saving solution to specific craft products.

IMPORTANT! If you have small children and/or pets, please review theses items (or any others you are new to) with the Buncombe County Extension Office or the Poison Control Center.  Some berries and leaves may cause serious trouble if ingested. Here is another list for NC

Okay- ready to get creative???

  • Decorate your tree stand: A landscape bucket would work (large enough to place the tree stand inside, or rig a different plan for watering)–spray with spray paint color of choice and attach bark to cover outside….or use twigs to create a vertical emphasis.

** You can also do this to vases or other containers**

  • Deck the Halls: or wherever…. use white pine and other evergreen pieces to create a table topper, runner on a sideboard, or if you are really handy— use heavy duty glue or a glue gun to attach pieces of greenery to a rope or chain, then wind around railings or banisters.
  • Presents! Use small leftovers of greenery with berries to tuck into a bow for gift giving

Here is a list of plants I thought of that are nice to bring in this season: (Ask before cutting!)

  • Ferns
  • Magnolia branches
  • Cotoneaster berry
  • Sumac tree leaves
  • Birch bark and branches or limb pieces
  • Lichen
  • Nandina berry
  • Pinecones
  • Smooth rocks
  • any evergreen
  • Holly branches
  • English Ivy (great way to prune this guy!)

What are your ideas? What plants do you love to use?

Happy Advent everyone!




Post T H A N K S giving Time

This past Thanksgiving time gave me so much to consider.

  • Our family traveled by car, but we created 85% of our food from local, fresh ingredients.
  • We all shared a bathroom, so showers were quick…. but I used shampoo instead of my baking soda hair rinse.
  • We recycled, but did not compost.

We shared our love and ideas, our values and stories…and I even convinced a member of the group to use olive oil as an eye makeup remover!  All told it was one of the best since we were all able to be in the same place.

I wonder about the constant struggle I feel as I am pulled back and forth between being more sustainable and making little effort.  I wonder if this— the transition time— is difficult for anyone else? Do you feel yourself making efforts but feeling random?

As I have moved through small and large changes toward a less consumptive/ more self-produced lifestyle; I have reached this point where some “green” changes are habits, and others seem like they were a crazy idea and I will never. get. around. to making. laundry detergent. (For example!)

There are many resources available out there (most listed in the links block) to help motivate and encourage…. however, my motivation is more in pause than in play.

I am floating on gratitude, I am heavy and pensive with Advent, and I am excited for the Christmas celebrations to begin….. where are you?

Are you on pause? What are you excited about? What sustainable choices are you proud of?

Let me know!



An Additional Advent Resource

Here is a link to the Swords Into Plowshares blog from the PC (USA) website:

They are offering a daily devotion during this season which has a focus on peacemaking and social justice.  It is a blog (Journal) like the ones we use here at FPCA and you can go directly to the devotions using the above link.  If you want to receive email notifications, you may “subscribe” to the blog.

Let me know if you have questions.

FPC Applies for Recertification as an Earth Care Congregation

On December 1, 2010, PC(USA) Environmental Ministries certified our church as an Earth Care Congregation, the first in the Presbytery of Western North Carolina. Earth Care                          Congregation (ECC) churches take the “Earth Care Pledge” and complete creation care activities and projects in the fields of worship, education, facilities and outreach. There are now 59 certified ECC churches in the country.

The ECC program is not a one-time award but is designed to be sustainable – continuous actions to lessen our impact on God’s earth and maintain it for future generations. ECC churches may apply for recertification on their anniversary date and we are in the process of doing that now. We are repeating the same audit we took when first certified to see what progress we have made in the last year.

Our church continued and expanded many of the practices started previously such as extensive recycling,   locally grown flowers in the sanctuary, and use of energy-efficient light bulbs. New in the past year were the many activities associated with our Earth Day observance on May 1: guest earth care speakers, youth recycling and solid waste audits, purchase of locally grown food, a nature walk along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the French Broad River clean-up.

Our selection as a Greener Pastor Church and having Maura Farver as our expert intern moved our efforts forward. An ABCCM invitation to hire their young, low-income Green Jobs-trained workers to conduct home energy audits, and a long-running faith development class on earth care led by D’Etta and Neil Leach involved individuals in the  congregation in personal actions.

To stay on the sustainability track, we will be identifying actions to complete for our recertification in 2012. In addition to continuing what we are doing now, we will finish our 2011 plans to develop a memorial tree/shrub program and recommend a specific solar installation to session.

We are constantly looking for new ideas and new energy. If you are interested in being involved in earth care at FPC or want to join the Creation Care Task Force, contact Jane Laping 828-277-7342 or

ABCCM Green Jobs Program

As a “Greener Pastors Church,” you have a special relationship with us here at ABCCM Green Jobs. We still have a few more of our four-day free weatherization trainings that include job placement assistance. Please send me an email that says: “Greener Pastors” so I can email you details about our program for you or a friend. Thanks! Diane Stanton: (400-4550)