Are you searching for a last-minute decor idea for your table or tree this Christmas?? Come on by and check out this super easy one that will have your home looking (and smelling) fantastic in just minutes!!

A gorgeous set of orange pomanders

A gorgeous set of orange pomanders

If you haven’t heard of orange pomanders before be assured they are amazing and you’ll love them! I remember seeing them and hearing about them from my Grandma and her friends. I’ve seen gorgeous photos of them all over the web and have always wanted to make some. So this year we decided to give them a try! And they were so easy and fun for the whole family to make!!

The joy of creating!

The joy of creating!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Oranges (clementines, tangerines, etc.)
Whole cloves

orange and cloves

Optional:
Toothpicks or other sharp tool
3 Tbs. ground cinnamon
3 Tbs. ground cloves
3 Tbs. ground nutmeg
3 Tbs. ground ginger
3 Tbs. orris root powder (dried and ground root of certain iris’ used as a fixative)  Although I have a couple sitting in my office that are a couple of years old and had no fixative used and they still smell great!

Directions:
1. Pick out orange with good solid rind. I picked up a bag of Cuties the other day and not only were they delicious but just the right size for little hands.
2. Decide what pattern or design you’d like to make. You can draw it on beforehand or just ‘wing it’ and see where your imagination takes you! (Anyone else like the idea of planning when it comes to crafty projects – but secretly you’d rather just see what happens?) :) If you are going to hang it sometimes it’s easier to attach the ribbon or thread before you start placing the cloves.

Hole poked with toothpick pre-clove

Hole poked with toothpick pre-clove

3. If your orange rind isn’t too tough you can simply push them through the rind by hand in whatever design you like. If it’s too tough or your little ones need some help you can use a toothpick or other piercing device to make a small hole so that the clove pushes in more easily.

Tiny hand pushing in clove

Tiny hand pushing in clove

(or if your kids are anything like my helper, they may just enjoy playing with the toothpicks!)

Concentrating hard on her craft!

Concentrating hard on her craft!

Be careful as the whole cloves can be very sharp. My fingers have built up a tolerance from all of the cloves that we use here in the shop though. Here are a few examples of some designs that the tiniest Spice Grove and I came up with!

4. Step back and enjoy your work!
5. Let the orange dry for 2-3 weeks in a dry place. A sunny window is the perfect place! If you want you can let it dry in a delicious spice mix of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and orris root powder. The mix will add an even more delicious smell to your beautiful orange. If you do this last step, just turn the orange in the spice mix every day or so, so that it gets coated evenly. (Sadly I don’t have any photos of this last step as I was too anxious to get this post done and share it with you!

Pomander display in a deep vase

Pomander display in a deep vase

Have fun with it and get creative! Remember there is no wrong way to make these! They will look (and smell) gorgeous in a simple bowl on your holiday table or hanging on your tree! The beauty is they will last for years!! If you’re really prepared you could have these made up early and give them as gifts for the Holidays. I’d love to see photos if anyone tries these out!

Our smiley face and toothpick pomander!  He may just be my favorite!

Our smiley face and toothpick pomander! He may just be my favorite!

I know there are only 6 days until Christmas – but I wish you peace and joy this wonder filled week before Christmas! Take time to enjoy and see the little miracles!

Blessings friends,

CharlotteCharlotte

Oatmeal Breakfast CookiesIt’s that time of the Season again – to bring out the yummy treats filled with chocolate and candy and all sorts of deliciousness! While we will some some of these treats this year, I’ve tried to find some healthy desserts that we can all enjoy this Christmas! (without the guilt!) :)

Check out these amazingly quick and easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies I found on the MyFitnessPal blog! With only 3 ingredients, they only took me 5 minutes to make and it smelled like fresh chocolate chip cookies baking in the kitchen! Let’s get started…

Ingredients for Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients for Breakfast Cookies

You’ll need:
1 mixing bowl
1 baking sheet

2 medium ripe bananas
1 cup of uncooked Quick Oats
1/4 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

optional:
You can also use 1/4 cup nuts, raisins, or whatever you can think of!!

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
3. Combine oats and bananas in the bowl. Fold in chocolate chips.

Mix all ingredients

Mix all ingredients

Cookies on sheet4. Drop by Tablespoon onto cookie sheet. (I usually get 15-16 cookies)
5. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool and enjoy!! (although they are best warm!!)

Now, I want to be completely honest here – I’m not the biggest banana fan ever. I know they are so good for you, but I really have to be in the mood for one and I really don’t like banana flavored things at all! Imagine my shock when these DIDN’T have an overwhelming banana flavor! The next time I make them, I’m going to try adding some cinnamon – because what isn’t improved with a bit of cinnamon?? :)
Now I’m not saying that these will replace my favorite Cowboy cookies from Grandma’s recipe – but they are definitely something I can have on hand on a regular basis and NOT feel guilty about having a couple! Are you ready for the best part? 2 of them are only 96 calories!!!!!

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

If you are looking for some more Holiday recipes make sure and check out our homemade Cinnamon Applesauce and our delicious ‘Pumpkin Footballs.’Also check out our Grandma’s Potato Rolls recipe that we use to make cinnamon rolls or monkey bread for Christmas morning each year!

Cinnamon rolls rising and cooling

Cinnamon rolls rising and cooling

I hope that this Holiday Season finds you having fun mixing and stirring in your kitchen with your loved ones! Enjoy this new Breakfast Cookie this December and feel good about eating cookies!!

Christmas Blessings to you friends,

CharlotteCharlotte

As we count down to moving day – my time is getting more and more scarce. But I wanted to keep the blog going strong so we are going to ‘recycle’ an older DIY candle post that is perfect for Autumn!! I always seem to have at least a few of these tiny pumpkins on hand this time of year and you have to see their amazing transformation!

Pumpkin Spice Candles

Pumpkin Spice Candles

With only 5 easy steps you can make delicious spiced pumpkin candles out of those adorable tiny pumpkins that you have! Just click HERE to see our Scented Pumpkin Candle post. Have fun and let us know if you try this one out!!

Pumpkin Spice Candles

Now back to packing for me!! But make sure to tune in next week for an amazing opportunity to be an angel to some deserving military families this Veteran’s Day!!

Blessings to you friends, and happy candle making!

CharlotteCharlotte

Looking for any easy/healthy snack the whole family will enjoy? Look no further friends! Check out this amazing applesauce recipe for a yummy treat that even the pickiest eater will enjoy! (this has been adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s recipe which you can find here!)

Our all natural cinnamon applesauce

Our all natural cinnamon applesauce

Ingredients:
~6 lbs. of apples (roughly 18 med. to large size apples of any variety)
~1 cup apple juice or apple cider – (most apple cider is gluten free too!)
~lemon juice from one lemon
~1/2 cup brown sugar – you can substitute maple syrup for a gluten-free recipe.
~1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

(optional ingredients: nutmeg, allspice)

Delicious cinnamon!

Delicious cinnamon!

Tools:
Apple peeler/corer (if desired – it really speeds things up!)
Knife
Big stock pot
Food Processor

1. Core and chop all apples. We used all Granny Smith’s as that is what we picked at the orchard. I do like the blend of a half and half selection though such as 50% Granny Smith’s – 50% Pink Lady (or other sweet apple).

Peel and core apples

Peel and core apples

2. Add all ingredients to stock pot and cook for 25-30 min on medium. Stir often and taste to make sure you like the sweetness.

All ingredients in the stock pot

All ingredients in the stock pot

3. AFTER the apples are soft and COOLED add in 2 batches to a food processor and pulse until the consistency you like! We left ours a bit chunky!

This makes about 6 cups of fresh applesauce

This makes about 6 cups of fresh applesauce

4. Enjoy by itself or on pancakes, fresh bread, ice cream or anything you can think of!! One other nice thing about this recipe is that it freezes very well! (If your family doesn’t eat it all first!) I love that this can be made into an easy gluten free recipe too!

Sometimes it helps to have special helpers!  (who think apple peels are yarn!)

Sometimes it helps to have special helpers! (who think apple peels are yarn!)

Next up tomorrow in our kitchen tomorrow…….apple pie with Grandma’s pie crust!!! (And hopefully on a post coming up!)

Let us know if you try this recipe out!!

Have a wonderful week friends and don’t forget to enter in our HUGE giveaway that ends tomorrow!! Just click here!

Blessings,

CharlotteCharlotte

In keeping with our series theme of “using what you have,” welcome to our autumn DIY post! I hope you’ll enjoy these easy and low-cost ideas for freshening up your Fall table! Read on to see our 5 simple table centerpieces!

1. Use what is in your yard. Since we live in the desert our yard is mainly rock with a few cactus and other desert plants. Our girls are constantly bringing me rocks to add to their collections so one day we decided to see how they would look as a centerpiece.

Rocks
Using the rocks and a few pinecones that I’ve collected over the years we were able to make a simple and rustic centerpiece that was FREE and took only about 2 minutes. (More if you are having fun looking at the rocks with your little ones!!)
Rocks and Pinecones
2. Nature provides us with so much beauty, why not use some of it inside your home? Whether you have a herb garden with some fragrant lavender, some mini pumpkins or beautiful branches lying around your home don’t be afraid to use them!! Get creative and see where your imagination takes you!
LavenderPumpkins or flowersBranches
3. Now as much as I love the branches and pinecones, the desert doesn’t provide many of these naturally so I have taken to using what grows naturally here.
Prickly pear
I found these amazing prickly pear fruit in our front yard and just simply arranged them in this large cylindrical vase. Again, super quick, easy and FREE!! (Important note!!! Make sure you are wearing thick gloves to handle these little guys as they have amazingly small little needles on them!!)

Prickly pearPrickly Pear
4. Another sweet idea is to take a peek into your spice cabinet and see what whole spices you have available!

SpicesThen take the lovely seeds and berries and let them arrange themselves into whatever container or bowl you have available. Now you have a beautiful and fragrant centerpiece that evokes the scents of Fall all found in your own kitchen for FREE! (My favorite Fall scents to use are probably, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, star anise, and rose hips for a splash of Autumn color!) Buying these in bulk or online will save you money if you want to purchase more than just a little bit!
Pinecones and Spice BallsRosemary and cranberriesCloseup pinecones and spice balls
Besides the spices, I also love using some coffee beans or natural herbs from our garden in various vases!!

5. The last idea features one of our rustic spiced candle wreaths. I love that they have four different uses! (candle wreath, napkin holder, flower holder or vase decor) I’ll show you how I used the wreath in a vase decor and flower holder here.
IMG_0079closeup of vase with candle wreath
Now since we don’t have abundant flowers here in the desert I just used some tiny little ‘weeds’ that the girls are always bringing in. They are just the perfect size for the tiny votive candle holder and the yellow looks so pretty with the Fall hued candle wreath!
I also made a tiny centerpiece with just the wreath and the flowers. I know it won’t last long but we loved the understated look of this one. (our household thrives on simplicity and creativity!)
Candle wreath with flowers
I truly hope that some of these easy tips and ideas will spark your imagination and let you come up with some new Autumn decor for your own table! I’d love to see pictures if you do!

Autumn Blessings to you friends,

Charlotte
Charlotte

Welcome to the new blog series titled ‘Use What You Have!’

Use What You Have

I am so excited to share a special collection of all things inspirational for your Heart and Home! This new weekly/bi-weekly series will feature so many wonderful ideas you won’t want to miss a moment! Just some of the ideas I have planned for you are:

~Gorgeous DIY Home Decor Ideas using things you ALREADY have!

~Easy, Healthy Recipes using what is ALREADY in your pantry!

~Inspirational stories and thoughts to uplift your spirit!

~FREE tutorials! (These will make your Holiday parties so special!)

~Amazing guests!

~Festive Holiday ideas and Gift Guides!

~And MORE!!!! (giveaways too!!)

I’m so thankful for all of you and that you took the time to stop by! Do you have a recipe or awesome DIY you’d like to share with us? Just contact us here!! (or leave a comment below)

Have a beautiful day friends!
Blessings to you,

 

Charlotte
Charlotte

anns-herbals-facebook-banner

I am so excited to let you meet my friend Ann from Ann’s Herbals! Not only is she a wonderful, kind and caring friend, BUT she makes the best soap in the world! As you know natural ingredients are super important to us here at Spice Grove Designs which is one reason I was so over the moon excited to meet Ann and her shop! I love that she grows the very ingredients she puts into her soaps and body products so I know they are chemical free. She makes them with such love and care, from the actual product to the packaging to the communication. Each time I order she makes me feel like I am her favorite customer! Plus there’s always a special treat she includes!! (And who doesn’t love a surprise chocolate?) I know what most of my Christmas list will find in their stockings this year!

I have to share that I’ve always had trouble with dry, cracked and bleeding hands, especially in the Fall and Winter. I’ve been buying Ann’s soaps for a while now but only used them in the guest bathroom or for ‘special’ occasions. (I know, I’m silly right!?!) Anyway – I decided I would use them at every sink for a week and see what effect that had on my hands. Within 1 week they were about 60% better and by the end of week 2 they were 100% healed, and softer and smoother (and more pain-free) than they’d been in YEARS!! Amazing!!

I also LOVE the different scents she offers, not just in her soaps but in her lip balms, salves and lotion bars! (Who doesn’t love a mocha lip balm!!) They make such great gifts! Just make sure you buy enough, as my 8-year-old is always running off with my lip balms after Ann sends me a new order!! I just love that they are safe enough to use on my little ones. She even has a new baby soap that I just bought and I can’t wait to try on my 20 month old who has eczema!  She has so generously offered to giveaway one of her Ditch the Itch Soap and Herbal Salve Gift Set!  ($17 value!)  So make sure to enter to win below the feature! Trust me – you don’t want to miss out on this! Now here’s more about Ann in her words.

Tell us about yourself and your products.

I have been fascinated with the healing power of herbs for over 30 years. My whole adult life I suffered from eczema. In the 1990’s while studying Natural Health I decided I needed to find something to help my eczema flare ups. In one course of study the class was to make an herbal remedy from any of the herbs that were covered in the course. It was a perfect opportunity for me to try to “solve” my skin issues. After deciding on the best herbs to use, I went into my backyard and found them all, right there, waiting for me to put them to work. Simple weeds, medicinal powerhouses. Chickweed Calendula and Comfrey. From that moment I made a connection with nature that has never left me. This was the start of annsherbals, my herbal salve. I later changed the formulation by replacing the Comfrey with Plantain and it proved to be equal if not better. From there the inspirations flourished.

My son taught me to make soap. My soaps are not fancy, not pretty colors but they are made from high quality organic plant oils, pure essential oils and organic, wildcrafted or homegrown herbs. They are cut straight from the mold no trimming or polishing just a delightful slice of annmade soap.
I also have two herbal salves that I created, lotion bars, body butters and lip balms. Nothing fancy, my focus is quality and synthetic free. I also have a liniment that I sell locally. A local Physical Therapist uses it when she does massages. I originally formulated it for myself, I was having some leg pain. It worked so well I started letting others try it and by the wonders of nature, it works great!

Ann's Beautiful 'Ditch the Itch Soap and Salve Gift Box'

Ann’s Beautiful ‘Ditch the Itch Soap and Salve Gift Box’

What makes your products different from other similar products?

I have always had very sensitive skin, metal allergies, and some allergies I haven’t even figured out yet. Many many people suffer with skin sensitivities and by helping myself I knew I could help others. My products bring to the customer:
1. High quality oils and herbs.
2. Synthetic and chemical free skin care products made especially for sensitive skin.

What brings you joy/encouragement in your life and in creating your products?

I can’t stress enough the wonders of nature and what nature provides for us. Everything we need nature can provide. I feel joy and great pleasure in using the natural remedies that nature provides. I am also in awe and amazement at their selflessness in providing for us nourishment, medicine and beauty. I am well aware of their gifts; it is the most extraordinary feeling to create something from nature and watch it work. Seeing my salve help a rash, a bug bite, an eczema flare up, diaper rash, a cut or burn and so much more brings me the greatest pleasure and makes me humble at the same time. I am only the vehicle by which nature can fulfill its purpose.

If you had to choose just one of your products as your favorite you’ve created/made which one would it be?

I have to say my herbal salve, it’s my baby, my first creation that saved my skin and helps so many others. It’s sister salve (simple no pimple salve) which is my latest product is amazing too. So I think I will say my salves!

What does a day in your studio look like?

I actually do my best creating at night. Paperwork and promoting is my day job. At night it’s quiet and peaceful and I do my best creating. I have a very long to do list that gets put off by keeping up with current products and orders. I usually prepare the ingredients for a loaf of soap one night and then actually make it the next night. After preparing the ingredients I will make labels, experiment with scents or a new product. I just finished a skeeter spray after working on it for 2 years. I think I finally got a great blend! My next project is a natural deodorant. I would have liked to of started the deodorant months ago but when you are a one woman show wearing all the hats of the business it takes time and patience to accomplish all you want to do. Most nights I lose track of time and it gets into the wee hours of the morning. I have to say though, there is nothing I would rather do. It’s who I am and what I am good at. I admire anyone who sings their own song, whatever that song may be.
I will end with my favorite quote.

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.”

Where can our readers find you?

I have an Etsy shop, annsherbals.etsy.com. I have a website for products I can’t sell on Etsy, Ann’s Herbals. You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/annsherbals or on twitter, twitter.com/annsherbals.

Ann has so graciously offered to give away on of her amazing Ditch the Itch Soap and Salve Gift Set to our readers!* ($17 value + free shipping) So make sure you enter to win below! Thank you so much Ann for sharing your story with us and for being such an inspiration to me!

Blessings to you friends,
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**All opinions expressed are solely mine. I was not compensated for this review.**

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