Real talk: The children are driving me insane. As I write this, it is 9 degrees. It’s been too cold to go out for longer than a few minutes.  I just go from room to room, picking up toys and laundry, never winning. But we did manage to do this cool project that makes use of things we currently have plenty of: cold weather and dead outdoor foliage. This one makes me think of Bohemian waxwings because they love to eat those berries. The lanterns are beautiful at night and in the daylight. Perfect porch decorations.

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To start, find yourself some plastic containers. It’s important that the center one is a good bit smaller than the outside one. You want the walls of the lantern to be thick. Here we have some I was given by my stepmom Elizabeth, who is an expert lantern maker.

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Next, freeze a layer of ice on the bottom. The idea is that when it is frozen, the smaller cup will sit on it and the top of the smaller cup will line up pretty evenly with the top of the larger container. In weather like we’re having, you can easily do this in the morning and be ready to complete your lantern by evening. (You can skip this step by using stones or marbles on the bottom of your lantern if you like.) Here is a layer of ice on the bottom of my big container.

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In the meantime, gather your goodies. Leo and I took a walk down our alley and collected the lovely items below. Pine cones. Grasses. Old leaves. Seed pods. All awesome. I like color. The red berries work great for that. You can also use herbs.

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Now you want to put your smaller container inside your larger container:

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And now you can add all your natural objects. Stuff them around the sides:

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The objects will naturally float, so you want to stuff them in pretty tight, so that at least some of them will stay low. Now pour your water in around the sides.

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Your cup in the middle is going to want to float. Center it and then find a good weight to hold it down.  I went with a brick. You can use gravel. Beans. A board across the top works, too. Try to keep the middle container in the middle.

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Now just leave it out overnight and forget about it. The next morning, bring it in. (Here is one made with rosemary sprigs.) You want to take out the inside cup first. Fill it with warm water and work it out.

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Then, working quickly, run warm water over the outside until it gets loose. Take it back outside and work it off.

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Voila! Ice lantern. Illuminate with a tea light or, better, a battery-powered tea light and you’re good to go.

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Next, I’m going to try to make supersized ones using paint buckets from Home Depot. Stay tuned…