I’ve been decorating for fall since before my phone flipped.

I love it.

My favorite part is shopping the yard.

I cut leaves from the trees and branches from the bushes and pile up pinecones in a wheelbarrow and cut corn stalks from the field across from my house.

All that fall.

All that free.

It’s like nature just wanted my house to be extra cute this time of year.  I’m all about the real just outside my window.  Real bushes and branches and corn stalks and boxwood and magnolia trump faux any time.


Except for the one thing I’ll never shop the yard for again—the day I learned how NOT to decorate for fall.

Several years ago, I decorated the dining room for fall.

The room needed a little festive because friends were coming over later that week for hot dog pot pie and monopoly.

I pulled down two giant glass cylindrical vases and started where all great fall decorating starts….

….the yard.

I cut giant branches of beautiful fall leaves and spindly twigs and tiny evergreen cuttings with the pinecones still attached.

Finally, my wheelbarrow full.  I lugged it all into the house and filled those cylindrical vases with the tall branches.

But something was missing.

Something wasn’t exactly right. The branches kind of fell over to one side and twisted this way and that way and the whole thing looked a little painful.looked like they were trying to escape from the fall table.

And sad.

And lopsided.

Like the twigs were embarrassed to be seen hanging out with the pinecones.

That’s when the brilliant idea struck.


Acorns would be perfect.

I ran out and gathered tons upon tons of acorns and dumped them into the glass jars.

It was a fall miracle.  The branches stood up perfectly.  The twigs gracefully dipped here and there.  The evergreen springs wrapped themselves around the edges of the vase in a fall symphony of perfection.

I was literally the best fall decorator on the planet.

For a week my dining room shone.

The day of the party finally arrived.  I pulled out the monogrammed dishes, dusted off the monopoly game and bought bags of lemons for the sweet tea.

Everything was ready.

Everything was set.

The party was going to be perfect.

And then, as I lined up the silverware on the table, out of the corner of my eye I saw something move in the glass vase.


What was that?  Did an acorn shift?  Did I bump the branches?

I blinked and looked again.  And then?


And ran from the room as fast as my purple toenails could take me.




Wildly, I hopped around with my hands waving and yelled for my husband to help.


I can’t even type what I saw.

I can’t even begin to describe what was in that vase.

I still haven’t even recovered.

All I know is that tiny little white worms had taken over my acorns and were throwing a party RIGHT THERE ON THE MIDDLE OF MY DINING ROOM TABLE.

The centerpiece was gone in 2.8 seconds.

I spent the next 30 minutes bleaching and disinfecting and trying to pretend like those acorns had never been there.

I learned my lesson that day.

Branches?  They are my BFF.

Pinecones? I’d invite them to a party.

Twigs?  I’d open the door if they knocked.

But acorns?  From the yard?  Filling a glass vase?  In my dining room?

I never, ever, ever want to be friends again. 🙂

PS  This is a centerpiece I created for the dining room.

Please notice there’s not an acorn in sight. 🙂

PPS  I wanted to announce the winners of the Linky Party link up.

First prize winner:  Patti from Old Things New.

Second prize winner:  Melissa from Brown Dog Vintage.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Jeanette Jeanette

    You don't have to give up on all that free fall decor...you can debug acorns! Just soak them to rinse off the dirt, drain the water, and spread them out in a shallow pan, and put them in the oven at 200 to 250 degrees for an hour. If the caps come off I just glue them back on,

  2. Image for Tanya Derrey Bingham Tanya Derrey Bingham

    I can completely identify, I have brought teeny spiders in on my hydrangeas which were not discovered until they and their webs TOOK OVER! I shake the heck out of them before they come inside now :) Tanya

    1. Image for christiann christiann

      Oh NO!!! I just stole ( I mean borrowed hydrangeas from my neighbor!) As soon as I go home I am giving them a good shake!!

  3. Image for Patricia Patricia

    LOL. I love acorns too, but baking and then a touch of clear nail polish makes all the difference. I also let all my fresh cut greenery sit in the garage or on the porch overnight. And then shake,shake,shake.

  4. Image for Vicki S Vicki S

    Too funny! I can see this happening! Just finished your book last night! I laughed and cried. What an inspiration. I'm loaning to my daughter to read! Thank you! (from a former Kentuckian - but always in my heart)

  5. Image for Bonnie schulte Bonnie schulte

    Oh my, that is so very very funny...but now that I have read that, I am going "right" now to check the acorns I have sitting (sitting still I hope) in a pretty dish on my little antique kitchen table..Yikes!

  6. Image for Stacey Stacey

    Gross!! Did that ruin your desire for hot dog pot pies? I made the mistake of bringing in an abandoned bird's nest once. The bugs came with it too! Just so you know.

  7. Image for Sharon Sharon

    You just made my day. Your dining room is gorgeous but I can totally understand....I think I may have heard your scream! :-)

  8. Image for Bernadette Bernadette

    OMG I thought this only happened to me! I even made a wreath and proudly hung it on the front door, to my horror it was a small child that pointed out I had worms on my door!!!

  9. Image for Lorie Underwood Lorie Underwood

    Thank you for using orange pumpkins! They are such classic Fall and almost every other blog post I've seen is gilled with white, white, and more white pumpkins. It may be the trend, but it's so nice to know that someone still loves the color of Autumn.

  10. Image for Suzy Suzy

    Oh, my!! Laughing out loud!! That reminds me that I need to bake the pinecones I brought in from the yard! I have to save them since their trees are gone now. :( The pine trees were dying and had to be cut down. I'm still sad about it. They were some that were sold in pots for Christmas trees. Trouble is, since all this global warming thing, they were getting too much rain. They were prolific little pinecone makers, so I have plenty! Just need to bake them. I read your book! I could hardly put it down! It was sooo good!!!

  11. Image for Terri Terri

    ohhhhhhhh my gooooooodnessssssss!!!!! Ummmmm... "Faux acorns" it is for me!!!! :) ... the table is amazing !!!!!! AND BTW... so is the book.... I am at the part about saving the town ... the Great Flood !!!!! Lord have mercy !!! Truly is such a great read... What a story you have !!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing with all of us.....

  12. Image for Jeanne Jeanne

    Wow...good to know. Here's another learned the hard way tip...decorating the house with pussy willows...I was so proud of my find..I was in college and on the walk home to our converted barn/apartment, I found pussy willows by a stream. I gathered up enough to fill two large vases, added water and stepped back to admire my classy decorating expertise.. Two days passed...then the willows burst open and filled the apartment with swirling white puffy willow seeds. :)

  13. Image for Kathleen Stoll Kathleen Stoll

    That's a funny story. I think we have all been there. Pine cones, twigs and nuts from yard should be naked cuz one can have earwigs or worms or bugs. Soak rinse and bake.

  14. Image for Cindy Richter Cindy Richter

    EEW and EEW. I have put acorns in our Christmas tree that I got outside from the ground! Oh my goodness I will never to that again! UNLESS... I use tips from the comments above. You have genius readers!

  15. Image for Jeanie Jeanie

    Thank you for the warning! I had no idea and I was thinking about picking up acorns in the yard for the table. I appreciate the others letting me know to bake them first! I loved the book. Read it in one night. I had to stay up late to get it finished, but it was well worth it!! Love you!

  16. Image for Carol@BlueskyatHome Carol@BlueskyatHome

    KariAnne, sorry to be laughing, but I did something similar several years ago. After the holidays, I saved a bunch of real gourds in our upstairs storage closet. Inside that closet was our cedar closet for out of season clothes. When Sweet Shark started getting out his fall clothes the next year, he noticed little holes in his good suits. We couldn't figure out where they came from. Then when I opened the boxes with the fall decorations, out came all these little flying bugs. They had gotten out and were eating our clothes. We lost a few thousand dollars worth of clothes. Needless to say I've never kept real gourds since.

  17. Image for Vee Muller Vee Muller

    Just read about no acorns on another blog and how not even baking gets rid of everything! Yuk. Wanted to talk about your book. Got it in the mail and it looks lovely but that's as far as I got ... because when I ordered it I said to Hobby " you can give it to me for Christmas". Oh no, what was I thinking!!! Now I have to wait!

  18. Image for Tammy Tammy

    Wow! That's awful ... just fyi - for anyone without access to real acorns - I bought some faux ones sold as vase fillers at Pottery Barn a few years ago, and bring them out every fall. No worms! :) And I'm curious about that hot dog pie that you speak of ... Gotta get my hands on your book, too! Sending love from Ontario, Canada.

  19. Image for Dewena Dewena

    I promise I won't ever bring acorns in my house! And please, don't ever keep Indian corn in the house either because tiny moths hatch out of the corn. Your centerpiece pictured here is stunning!

  20. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    You could pretend it was for Halloween! Just reading the story made me start itching! Love your look this year! Beautiful!

  21. Image for Jessica Graziano Jessica Graziano

    Lol... OMG this same thing happened to me. I thought I was a genius to bring those acorns inside. They were beautiful "FREE" decorations. Until I saw the worms days later. Yep never used them again. And if I use pinecones I bake them in the oven on the lowest setting for a hour or so just to make sure NO critter fools me again!!!

  22. Image for Jane Jane

    The same thing can happen with pinecones. Put them in a ziplock bag and freeze them for a few days before you use them. I do this with bird nests too.

  23. Image for Angie Angie

    Me too!! When my daughter was 4 she collected acorns to her hearts content at my uncles place. We brought them home and the same thing happened. It was HORRIBLE. I learned though that you can bake the acorns and we never had a problem after using that method. I can almost laugh about now, wait. Nope, still makes me squirm.

  24. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Bwhaha, I actually needed this about three weeks ago! I mean, I baked my acorns so no bugs but I didn't get them entirely dry so my vase was one day fuzzy. Each and every acorn had molded. Sigh. It looked good while it lasted...just like yours. Haha, glad I'm not the only one who's acorn challenged!

  25. Image for Debra Matcovich Debra Matcovich

    I had something similar happen to me. When my daughter was younger, she had to do a DIY for school. So she decided to made coasters out of a tree branch. So my neighbor was nice enough to get the power saw out and cut four perfectly cut wood circles. So she proudly brought them in the house and painted them white, and added cute stamped green trees. and snowmen. So we left them on paper dishes in the dining room to dry. A couple of days later I see little holes in the coasters and white little worms came out of them. Out they went. Yuck

  26. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Oh, goodness! I didn't know that about acorns. I had a similar experience with wheat...after I put them away in a closet...upstairs...out of sight. Lesson learned!

  27. Image for Janice West Janice West

    I don't have an acorn story, but I DO have a Christmas tree story. I invited all my co-workers over for a weeknight Christmas celebration and we planned a little contest. They all brought a baby picture, we glued them to a poster board, and the rest of us had to guess who's picture was whose. Well, we put the poster on the floor by the Christmas tree so everyone could go by and look after they filled their plate with goodies. After they all sat down, I sat on the floor by the poster to see who won the contest. Well, I started see a few ants, then more and more. Finally, it was discovered that the trunk of the tree was working alive with fire ants! The kind that sting and hurt like fire! It was quite a scramble for all of us to get out of the way of the little buggers but we all had a good laugh and no one got bitten that night. That tree was on the patio the next day!

  28. Image for Michele (Finch Rest) Michele (Finch Rest)

    LOL. Holy smokes - well let's be thankful you didn't notice DURING the party or it truly and indeed would have been the worst party blunder ever. You poor thing, I woulda screamed too! I didn't know that about acorns - but I have no oaks on my property or see I could've done the same thing......but I have a LOT of pinecones.......be sure to bake them or you will have bugs. Love your centerpiece - you give such a natural and lovely nod to fall,. Hugs.

  29. Image for Emily Emily

    AND ... don't keep for too long one of those lovely decorations that include Indian corn, unless you would like a house full of corn moths and a nice bill from the guy you have to call in to rid your home of them.

  30. Image for Tina Tina

    It happened with our pine cones the first year we were in our house. I had no idea, brought them in, was all excited. Then we had these disgusting stink bugs in our yard that were coming in through window cracks & we were told they were on the pine cones too! Thankfully, we still had the pine cones in the basement and not throughout the house yet. You should have heard me yelling to my husband to please take them back outside!!

  31. Image for Debbie Ashford Klausing Debbie Ashford Klausing

    Same thing happened to us years ago when my young son ( now 40) put his collection of acorns on his shelf. I was gagging when I discovered little worms that had fallen off the shelf onto the carpet! Ugly orange shag carpet. Compliments of previous owners. Now I am wondering if buckeyes do the same squirmy dance? I'll just let y'all do the decorating and I'll just watch.

  32. Image for Julie Briones Julie Briones

    If Yvonne Pratt comments, she'll have a thing or two to say! ;-) She has brought up baking acorns at least twice on DT&T for that exact same reason! LOL! Thanks for sharing... I'm sure I will do that if I ever live somewhere where I can find acorns in my front yard. ;-)

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