A little well known fact about me……I LOVE football! Not just watching it because my Hubby or family like it – but fantasy playing, Sunday afternoon watching, ‘good luck shirt wearing’ LOVE it!! I love the fact that it brings me back to my childhood of rooting for a team with my Dad. I love that it means being a fan until the end – win or lose. I love that it’s a common interest for me and my better half. I love teaching our girls about competition and getting to show them how to win and lose.

Wedding Broncos

Even got my Broncos involved on our Wedding Day, much to the amusement of my Cowboys fan Hubby!! In my defense I did get him a Cowboys pillow for a Wedding Day present!

Watching the Super Bowl has always been exciting for me (except that I’m sad that the season is about done!) and this year is no exception, especially since my beloved Denver Broncos are playing!! Since I was born in Denver and grew up in Colorado, it’s pretty much a requirement put on your birth certificate that you will be a fan. (I’m kidding about that part!) But I’ve loved watching them through the ‘Orange Crush’ Defense years, the Elway years and now the Manning era. So many memories! Along with those memories are the ones of the fun parties that we’ve had with friends and family over the years. Yummy food, lots of cheering and general fun!

One treat that has been on the list of my ‘must-haves’ for any football party are my Pumpkin Football’s. Delicious football shaped treats of pumpkin and chocolate they are always gobbled up by hungry Dads, Moms and little ones!

Delicious pumpkin footballs

Delicious pumpkin footballs

These easy to make treats make up fast and are gone just as quickly! I recently had the privilege to share them with Brenda over at STRUCTUREbags where you can find the recipe for these delicious game time desserts. (or a quick breakfast because, let’s be honest, they have pumpkin in them so they’re healthy, right!?!) Head over and find the complete recipe here, along with more about these fantastic little desserts! 

pumpkin footballs

Click here for recipe!

Let me know if you try this recipe. It’s a fun one to make with your little ones too! For those of you who watch the game, have a wonderful and safe time! (For those who don’t enjoy football as much – just enjoy the fact that the season is almost over! hee-hee)

Blessings to you friends,
(and GO BRONCOS!!) :)

A Lifelong Broncos Fan

The best Christmas Present from my Hubby ever!!

Looking for some easy and sweet Valentine gifts that are super sweet and inexpensive? We have some wonderful ones that won’t take you any time at all and will be wonderful memories to cherish for years to come! Come on in!

Handprint Memories

Memories of little hands

Memories of little hands

This first gift is wonderful for your children or loved one to create an instant memory that they’ll treasure for years to come. To make the first one pictured above you only need the following items.

Heavy cardstock – at least 60 weight
Regular paper
Frame (if desired) I used a recycled one I found at Goodwill.

Step 1-
Trace your kid(s) or loved ones hand print on regular paper and cut out.

Step 2-
Trace the hand print(s) onto your felt and cut out. You can use any color(s) you want. I thought the pink and purple were sweet for our two girls.

Close-up of stitching and text

Close-up of stitching and text

Step 3-
Figure out what design you’d like to create on your heavy cardstock. I wanted to emphasize the difference in size in our little ones hands while showing the love between them so I overlapped them and cut out the heart. (I suppose you could trace the heart and make it perfect but I’m more of a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants’ sewing gal so I just did it by sight.) Make sure you leave room for any wording or script that you want to add to your design.

Step 4-
Pick out a color of thread that either complements or contrasts with your felt. Start sewing a basic running stitch around the edge of your cut out hands. It may get a bit tricky as you don’t want the paper to bend, but if I can do this then so can you!

Step 5-
After the hand prints are sewn on decide where and what you want to say. Very lightly write the words or phrase you want in the design on the paper. (If you are more talented than me you can probably just sew the words on without tracing!)

Closeup of signature and stitching

Closeup of signature by my little one and stitching

Step 6-
Now just sew over the writing using the back-stitch until you have sewn over the wording. I used a french knot for the dot on the ‘i’.  So sweet!  Just insert into frame and you are done!!

For an even sweeter gift, have your little ones write the word or phrase on the card stock for a lasting memory of their adorable hand writing.  We did this idea for Daddy for Christmas and it was a big hit!  I love that the kids can help write and sew if they would like to!

Gift for Daddy with the girls' writing and hand prints!

Gift for Daddy with the girls’ writing and hand prints!

Other EASY and cute DIY Valentine gifts!

Last Valentine’s Day I made all of the below for our girls and my family and they loved them.  Some of the ideas I got off of Pinterest and some I just made up.  Hope you enjoy!

Valentine gifts handmade

Some of the sweet gifts I made for my loved ones last year.

1. Date Jar
Supplies needed:
Mason/Ball Jar
Wide Kraft Sticks
Permanent Marker
Remnant Material

A wonderful way to show your loved one how much you value your time with them. Easy to make and really gets your creative juices flowing! Instructions can be found here!

2. 30 things I love about you jar!
Supplies needed:
Mason/Ball Jar
30 Narrow Popsicle sticks or kraft sticks
Paint (if desired)
Permanent Marker
Remnant Material

I was inspired to make this one after doing the first one above for my hubby. This smaller one I made for my eldest daughter. I labeled 30 sticks with things that I love and appreciate about her. That way she could read one each day of the month. I haven’t pulled it out in a while, but I’m sure it would be fun to look at again. After I made the sticks I simply cut out a circle of fabric out with pinking shears and hand sewed a heart to the fabric at the top of the lid. I then added a ribbon to add some ‘girly’ charm to the gift. (she loved this!) I attached a small heart-shaped note explaining what the jar was to the ribbon with a piece of thread.

3. Knit stuffed hearts
I made these little hearts for my girls with some leftover yarn I had lying around. For my eldest I made them into little hanging hearts so she could hang them on her door. For the little one I just made them soft and squishy with no hangers on them. She loves to carry them around even now!  I just kind of made up the pattern, but here is an easy pattern if you would like to try them out!

4. 52 things I love about you!
I love this idea from Pinterest!! The directions are no longer linked to this pin but here’s the link so you can see the picture! You are basically gluing things you love about your loved one that you’ve written or typed to a pack of playing cards. So sweet and such a fun exercise to list all of the things you love about your significant other!  The photo shows the cards tied with ribbon, but I simply used an O ring to connect the cards.

5. Poem with children’s footprints
I first found this beautiful poem on Pinterest as a free printable but the link no longer works so I’m just linking the Pinterest pin for you! You can easily type out this poem yourself and just add the painted footprints to it afterwards. What a wonderful way to tell Dad that you love him than with the little feet that love to climb all over him!

I hope that you have enjoyed these handmade gift ideas for friends and family! Thanks for stopping by and please let me know if you try any of the ideas! I’d love to see pictures!

Blessings to you friends,
Bio Picture

As you all know, being eco-friendly and using natural spices is a huge cornerstone of Spice Grove Designs. This year I decided I’d like to make that more of a goal for our family too. This means I’ll be trying out making everything from laundry to dish soap. Then I thought I’d do some looking around for all natural shampoos and conditioners since I can’t even pronounce most of the ingredients in my store bought ones. I was sure that with all the focus on ‘natural’ and ‘green’ living that I was sure to find someone who made a more healthy product. (My other concern was how much this would all cost!)

WOW!! Was I surprised at what I found!! A HUGE thanks goes out to my good friend Ann Belonger from Ann’s Herbals for being our expert! I invited her by today to show us an amazingly simple routine that will be good for your hair and your wallet!!

Come on and join the ‘Natural Shampoo’ Experiment

Ann, thanks for stopping by! I have a few questions about natural shampoos and conditioners and switching over to a more natural routine.

Ann's Herbals

1. Is there a natural shampoo that is also eco-friendly that you would recommend?

I am not a big fan of even so called “natural liquid shampoos,” they still may contain preservatives to combat bacteria. They may also contain water. Watch your labels. Anyone with skin sensitivities could have skin reactions to these preservatives. Also any time you introduce water into a product, you are faced with bacteria. You then need a chemical to keep the bacteria out. Here is another thing about water in a product, I don’t like having to pay for any product that the main ingredient is water. Why would I? It’s not economical to pay for a product that is mainly water.
With that being said I like to use a shampoo bar, actually I use my bar soap. It’s not specific to “hair” but I use it as a body and hair soap and I’ll tell you why. It contains no water, no chemicals or chemical preservatives. I use rosemary oleoresin in my soaps to keep the oils from going rancid. There is no water so no worry about bacteria in the soap and it has the most nourishing organic oils. Now you can buy soap bars specifically called shampoo bars that’s up to you. I just find it more economical to use a regular handmade soap with rich moisturizing oils. I think I got off on a rant here back to the question. Using a shampoo bar soap is the most economical and eco friendly shampoo you can get. You have no plastic bottle to recycle and handmade soap is a “greener ” product because it is biodegradable. Chemical soaps basically are “detergents” and are not biodegradable. Did you know the same petrochemicals in commercial soaps/shampoos is used to wash your car at the car wash and to degrease your car engine. Amazing!

Ann's Organic Oatmeal Shea Butter Soap

Ann’s Organic Oatmeal Shea Butter Soap

2. How about a recommendation for natural conditioners?

I am a big fan of apple cider vinegar (yay) as a conditioner. You want a conditioner to make your hair soft, smooth, shiny and manageable, that’s what a vinegar rinse will do . It also helps an itchy scalp, opens up pores and lets your hair breathe. I should mention to take care applying the rinse, it can really sting if you get it in your eyes. If that happens just rinse your eyes really well with your shower water.

3. If I’m switching to a natural (chemical free) shampoo, will there be an adjustment period?

There will definitely be an adjustment period of about two weeks. If you have been using a commercial shampoo there will be a lot of chemical build up on your hair. Many commercial shampoos contain petrochemicals. These are the chemicals that make your shampoo foamy and preserve it. Sulfates, parabens and phthalates are all either derived from petrochemicals or contaminated with them. Scary right? This is why there will be an adjustment period to get your hair healthly and to let it breathe again as chemical based shampoos tend to suffocate your hair. When you start using an all natural shampoo you will notice your hair will have a waxy feel to it, this is your new all natural shampoo breaking down all the build up, opening up the pores and nourishing your hair and scalp.

4. Is there anything you’d recommend to get through this period?

The most easy and economical way to deal with this transition period, to me, is to use a apple cider vinegar rinse. Apple cider vinegar is very good at cleaning out the gunk and restoring your hair to a health state. It makes your hair soft, smooth and gives it a great shine. To make an apple cider vinegar rinse you will need a quart jar and a jug of apple cider vinegar. You can purchase a store brand for about $4 a gallon. Add 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar to your quart jar and fill the rest of the jar with water and wallah! there is your new inexpensive hair rinse and conditioner.
I recommend the first time you use your new all natural shampoo and vinegar rinse to run one rinse through your hair prior to shampooing. Wet your hair again and then shampoo. After shampooing run a vinegar rinse through your hair again, working it through your hair and then rinse with plan water. The vinegar smell will go away once your hair is dry. It’s that simple! I keep a gallon jug in my bathroom cabinet and fill my jar prior to showering, once in the shower I add the water.
Oh by the way you can use white vinegar too I just prefer apple cider vinegar. An important thing to note is frequency of shampooing, one really does not need to shampoo every day. I think the shampoo companies drilled that into our heads quite well. After using a natural shampoo your hair will have a different feel to it, not that squeaky clean feel, which actually is the feel and sound of your hair being completely stripped of any nourishment, but a soft and smooth feel to it. It’s an adjustment remember?

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

5. Any idea’s for people with dry hair?

I don’t have dry hair but many people have asked me about it. Again apple cider vinegar is your go to conditioner for dry hair. Isn’t it just the most amazing thing? Big fan! If your hair is very dry you could go one step further and make a vinegar herbal rinse, using some well known herbs that help with dryness. These include sage, dandelion leaves, comfrey, marshmallow, elderberries, burdock root, just to name a few. Here is how you make a herbal vinegar rinse. Fill your jar (a quart canning jar works well) with your selected herb, fill it to the top. Then add your apple cider vinegar filling it up to 1/2 inch from the top and using a knife to work your herb down and release any air bubbles. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the jar opening and screw on your lid. Next you’ll want to label your jar and date it. Place this jar in a cool dark place (I put mine in my kitchen cabinet my house is always cold!) You can place it anywhere that’s cool and dark but also some place you won’t forget about it. For the 1st week, (your infusion will steep for 4 to 6 weeks) shake your jar once a day just to make sure all your herb is being saturated with vinegar. After the 4 or 6 weeks you will strain your vinegar infusion through cheese cloth or a strainer, I use panty hose, you can buy like 12 pair for five bucks and they work great. Strain your vinegar infusion into another container preferable glass and it’s ready to use. Again label your new jar with name and date. Condition your hair once or twice a week with your herbal vinegar, the same way you would with the apple cider vinegar rinse. If you have extremely dry hair you can wet your hair with the herbal vinegar from your jar or use a spray bottle, wrap you hair up in a towel for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse it out. You may need to do the rinse more often or less often depending on your dryness. You know your hair best so you be the judge.

My Conclusion

my hair

My hair! Comparison pic’s to come in 2 weeks!

I have to say I’ve been a HUGE fan of Ann’s handmade, natural soap for a while. (We use it as well as using it on our kids too!) BUT when she mentioned the apple cider vinegar I was more than skeptical! While I was using vinegar to clean our bathrooms and kitchen I wondered, could this stuff really be that amazing?? (It seems to have a wonderful natural use for any aspect of life!) So I started my experiment and was astonished!!!

My hair is very long and thick so I thought I’d really put all of this to the test go an extra 2 days before trying it. I didn’t even brush it before showering which normally is a huge mistake. It can usually take me about 15 minutes just to untangle and comb through my hair after a regular wash and condition.

I was amazed at how clean my hair felt after using just Ann’s bar soap but still unsure of the vinegar treatment. Holding my breath I poured it on just as she recommended and waited about 5 minutes for it to soak in. Stunned, my hair felt smooth and soft as if I’d just used a regular conditioner BUT without the waxy feel! I was so excited but I still had to do the untangling mess to make sure.

5 minutes later I was tangle free and my hair felt lighter and softer than it had in YEARS!!!! I’m on day three since trying this and my hair and scalp aren’t oily or dry just soft and lightweight! Unbelieveable!! I’m so thankful to Ann for sharing this with us. I’ll do an update after the 2 week adjustment period and let you all know how it feels but I’m pretty excited about it!! (My hubby was amazed that the vinegar smell was gone after it was dry!!) Just think, we can do something healthy for ourselves while helping the environment! A real WIN-WIN!

Are you up for trying something new and more healthy this year? Let me know if you try out this formula! I’d love to hear your results!!

**The vinegar can bleed out the color if you have dyed hair as well as affect permed hair so I’m not sure I would recommend the vinegar rinse for that situation.****I was not paid for this post, I was just trying something new and more healthy!! All opinions contained are my own.***

I tried the ‘Natural Shampoo’ and vinegar rinse for the 2nd time today and was just as impressed as the first time! I was left with amazingly soft, manageable and tangle-free hair!! Have you tried it yet?

Blessings to you friends,

Make sure and come by next week for some handmade Valentine gifts! You won’t want to miss it!

Our new Canella berries

Our new Canella berries

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