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!!
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!!
Here’s what you’ll need:
Oranges (clementines, tangerines, etc.)
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!
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.
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.
(or if your kids are anything like my helper, they may just enjoy playing with the toothpicks!)
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!
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!
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!
Today I wanted to share an easy and very inexpensive DIY gift you can make for your kids for Christmas! Or use this as an awesome craft to do with your kids this Holiday Season!
I first found this play-dough recipe over at The Modest Mom Blog. She has so many great ideas for DIY crafts! I wanted to ‘spice’ up the play-dough though as presents for our girls this Christmas, so a few tweaks and I ended up with some amazingly fragrant play-dough! It’s great for all the senses. And I made 2 batches so there won’t be any arguing over the sets!! (fingers crossed on that)
Here is what you’ll need.
~Jars – plastic or glass depending on the age of your kiddo’s. I really wanted to use some recycled glass jars I had, but my 2 yr. old still drops a lot of things so we went with plastic ones this year. Here are some I found at Michaels for $6.99 for a 4 pack. With a 40% off coupon they wouldn’t be bad at all!!
~Labels if desired. These FREE printables were also on The Modest Mom’s Blog or get creative and make some of your own!
1 cup of flour
1 cup of water
1/3 cup of salt
2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 Tbsp. canola oil
Food Coloring (I’d love to try this with natural food coloring sometime but I wanted our girls to get to see that so I’ll save that for later!)
1/4-1/2 tsp. of one or more of the following spices, according to how strong you want the fragrance.
orange peel (dehydrated)
1. Put all ingredients in the saucepan. I added my spices and food coloring after I cooked the initial recipe as I wanted different spices/colors for my little jars but if you are making a big batch I would just add the spices and food coloring in at this point too.
2. Heat at a medium low temperature until the play-dough forms a ball. (roughly about 3 min.) Make sure to stir the ENTIRE time. (This isn’t a ‘walk away’ recipe!! :))
3. Put the ball on some wax paper to cool for a bit.
4. When it’s cool enough knead into a ball (if you already have spices and coloring in it) or divide it into smaller portions for your jars. This recipe made 8 little golf ball size portions for me which fit perfectly into my little jars. If you need some ideas to your creative juices flowing here are some scents and color combos that I did this time!
~red – allspice
~yellow – nutmeg
~green – cloves
~brown – cinnamon
~orange – orange peels and ginger
~pink – unscented
~blue – unscented
~purple – unscented
Have fun and get creative with your spices and colors! Pair the playdough with a couple of cute little cookie cutters for an adorable gift set! I’d love to see pictures if you decide to try this spiced playdough recipe! (By the way it’s really fun to let the kids help with this – I was just making this batch for a Christmas surprise so the girls didn’t get to help with this one!)
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!)
~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)
Apple peeler/corer (if desired – it really speeds things up!)
Big stock pot
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).
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!!)
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!
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.
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!!)
4. Another sweet idea is to take a peek into your spice cabinet and see what whole spices you have available!
Then 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!
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.
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!)
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,
Welcome to the new blog series titled ‘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!)
~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,
Welcome to our DIY tutorial for how to make a beautiful and one of a kind ‘recycled garden!’
Here we’ll go through our easy steps of how we created a stunning garden in no time and with minimal expense!
Decide what ‘look’ you are going for and find pieces/containers that match your style and plants you’ll be planting. Here we were looking for pieces that worked together, but had an old -time feel to them. (I let my girls pick some of the pieces out so it’s a bit more eclectic than I had envisioned! But I love how it turned out! We even found the ‘Reduce, Recycle, Reuse’ sign at a thrift store and added that to the garden!
Check all your local thrift stores and see what treasures jump out at you! Don’t forget to check Craigslist or your local Freecycle page for other local finds. (If you haven’t used Freecycle before I recommend checking it out! I’ve found some amazing ‘junk’ on there and I love being connected with others who also try to recycle things!)
If your containers don’t have holes or a way for the water to drain out the bottom, make sure and drill holes in the bottom of the piece so the moisture has a place to go. (Holes about dime or penny size are good.)
We used a drill and dremel to accomplish this as we had a mix of metal and wood containers to drill. My sweet Hubby was so kind to help us with this task!
Fill your container with good soil. I used an organic, non GMO soil made locally since we are growing edible yummies in the garden and it makes me so happy knowing we’ll have healthy, ‘good for us’ food in a bit!
Plant your seeds or plants in your new beautiful gardens! We cheated this year and bought many of our plants already blooming or started since I was a bit late with this project this year! (Mental note….start in Feb. in the desert as the heat will be on us by late May!) But we did pick out some veggie seeds that will be going into the wooden munition boxes this week so I’ll have pictures of that soon!
Pictured below are some of the flowers that the girls and I chose. The gorgeous footlocker features sweet snapdragons, a geranium, 2 kinds of lavender and my favorite little ranunculus. The tall metal trash can is filled to the brim with a petunia and sweet little viola’s and johnny jump up’s. The vintage suitcase that I fell in love with now holds a strawberry patch on one side and a herb garden on the other! (Can you smell the delicious lemon thyme and pineapple sage from there??) The file cabinets and various recycled pots hold broccoli, yellow and orange peppers, sweet peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers. (Yum!) My youngest just loves the orange marigolds so we mixed those in with the rest of the pansies, violas and johnny jump up’s that we had left. The colander holds 2 adorable marigolds that were so easy and fun to plant. (Note of warning – don’t forget to water this one daily as the water drains so very well!!) One of my favorites was the up-cycled letter holder my Mother in law so sweetly gave me! (Hopefully she won’t mind this use of it!!) We put some ice plants and sweet little lobelia in there and it is just bursting with happiness!
The charm of these types of ‘container’ gardens is that you can make it meet your exact design preferences. If you love rustic designs, you can easily pick out/find older rustic looking containers to plant your garden in. Find old wooden signs and make your own planters from that. How about an old rusty tire rim? (Filled at the bottom of course so your dirt doesn’t escape.) Love the Victorian period?? Find some old teapots or china to use as planters. Or simply go ‘treasure’ hunting and see where your heart leads you!
Our cost so far has been – $60 for the planters. (This would have only been $30 but I found the wooden crates later on and just fell in love with them! The tops of the boxes we took off and they will be used for photo props for Spice Grove Designs!) The plants, seeds and soil cost around $150, but would have only been about $60 if I only had to buy seeds and soil instead of the established plants.
I was so thankful to get to do this with my girls not just to teach them about growing their own food and flowers, but to show them how creative we can be with reusing things!!
I hope you enjoyed a walk through our recycled garden and we’d love to see pictures of your gardens! Let us know what you think! How are you recycling things in your garden?
PS. For some more inspiration from someone who is an actual gardener, make sure and check out our last post from our friend Emily at Fleuropean and the amazing difference she is making with her flowers!
While trying to perfect my latest design for Spice Grove Designs, I found myself in full ‘perfectionist’ mode.
The smallest details that no one would notice but me were carefully corrected over and over. Whether it’s the exact shape of a whole star anise pattern that I’m working with or matching shades of coffee beans, I truly strive to put quality forward with every design that I make. It would be simple to just throw an order in a box and call it good, but I want I want to let my customers know that I value them, so the extra time it takes to neatly wrap and package designs is worth it too me. All of this thinking about how I run my business when no one is looking over my shoulder led me to think of something else…….
….my dirty kitchen floors….
Now, I know this seems like a leap, but hang in there with me for a second! Obviously it’s über important that I take care of the details in my business whether it’s in a design or customer service, I can’t take shortcuts, even when no one is looking. BUT, how am I when no one is looking with regards to my family and home?
Can I tell you a secret? I’ve been better about keeping a cleaner and less cluttered home this year. BUT I am still horrid at mopping floors….so…..when no one is looking I use my baby wipes to get the worst spills and/or stains off the floor! (pausing for gasps, right?!?) Now I vacuum regularly and clean up spills but a good old-fashioned deep clean on the tile floors doesn’t get done very often. I wonder sometimes if it’s just because no one is looking or for my own sanity with the little ones constantly making a beautiful mess…. Maybe, just maybe, super clean floors every once in a while would let my family know how much I value them!!
Sometimes the best things in our lives happen when no one is looking. Like the personal goal you set for yourself to live a more healthy life being achieved, or the deadline that you made (barely), or the 5 star dinner you prepared for your family by yourself, alone without crowds chanting your name…. I started to wonder if we downplay these moments all too often. These moments require dedication and faith that what we are doing is worthwhile. They don’t reward with trophies or even acknowledgement but are so very important in development of our character!
How I think and speak about my family when they are not around affects how I relate to them when they are next to me. If my words and thoughts are kind I have a better chance of my actions mirroring that too. In the same way, if I take the time to clean and take care of my home when no one watches (or notices) with a thankful attitude of service then my actions when I’m not alone will more likely be ones of thankfulness for all that others do for me.
I’ve come to the conclusion that in life as in my business it matters, a great deal how I act and think when no one is watching…..
….now to see if this revelation helps with my kitchen floors! Hee-hee!
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.
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!
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?
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.
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?
Make sure and come by next week for some handmade Valentine gifts! You won’t want to miss it!