Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY Cinnamon Stick Ornaments

With Christmas fast approaching, I wanted to get in just a few more fun, Christmasy posts!  So, I thought I'd share with you how to make some ornaments that have just recently begun to grace our Christmas tree: stars made from Cinnamon sticks!  Not only are they cute and rustic, but they make the house smell nice, too! 

All you need to make these little guys is five cinnamon sticks per star, some scrap yarn, and a glue gun.

Starting with the top point, overlap two of the cinnamon sticks, and glue in place.

Add two more cinnamon sticks to create the bottom points of the star, and glue these points in place as well.

Finally, add the last cinnamon stick right across the top to create the last two points.  Glue these points in place as well.

Although our star ornament is already looking really nice, I did want to make them a little sturdier, so once I was sure the rest of the star was glued in place, I also put a bit in the gaps that occur beneath some of the sticks.  This just makes sure the stars stay nice and stiff.

Finally, tie a piece of yarn to one of the points, and it's ready to hang on the tree!

I hope you enjoyed this little DIY!  These ornaments are incredibly easy to make, and no two will ever look the same!  I love them on my tree, especially since this winter we've had what I like to think of as a "glamorous forest" theme going on, and these add such a nice, rustic touch!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mulled Wine Recipe

This year, I started experimenting with mulled wine a bit, and now that I've come up with a good recipe, I can't imagine this holiday season without this festive beverage.  Since I've come to be so fond of a good mulled wine, I thought I should share my recipe and tips with you.  So, you'll find the recipe below, but here are some of my favorite tips:
  1. For wine, I prefer the Rhubarb/Raspberry Blend from Forestedge Winery
  2. I prefer to use the Christian Brothers brandy above any others
  3. Add in the cloves slowly, these spices can be a bit overpowering to some people
  4. When in doubt, use Agave over honey.  I don't know why, but it just tastes better
  5. If given the choice between cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon, go with the sticks.  They make the wine taste better, and let's just be honest: they look pretty cool, too.

- 1 bottle of red wine
- 1 peeled and sliced orange
-1/4 cup brandy
-18-20 cloves
-1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
-3 cinnamon sticks or 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 tsp ground ginger

All you have to do is combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat on medium until the mixture starts to steam a bit.  Usually, this takes about 20-25 minutes.  Then, you can either strain, or leave the spices in the wine, and serve as is.  Personally, I like to leave the spices in, and allow an orange to float on the surface of each glass as a garnish.  This does leave the wine a bit thicker, but it's a bit like orange juice.  If you like a little pulp, try leaving the spices in; if you don't, I would highly recommend straining the mixture!

As a quick aside, I want to mention that I have tried this recipe with several different wines, and my favorite has been the Rhubarb/Raspberry Blend from Forestedge Winery.  This particular wine may be a bit difficult for some of you to get ahold of, because it's from a teeny tiny town of about 115 people called Laporte in northern Minnesota.  It really is amazing, though, so I would highly recommend at least checking out their website: here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Spiced Apple Toddy Obsession

If you are not a fan of the Spiced Apple Toddy scent from Bath and Body Works, then you do not want to come to my house.  I have had a slight obsession with for the past three years, and my passion for it has not waned, yet.  Which is naturally why I had to write a full blog post about it!

For those of you who haven't smelled this lovely candle, it is described as "the fragrance of a warming blend of apple brandy and spiced plum, infused with mulled cider and tart cranberry."  It smells so spicy and Christmasy, it's truly amazing.  Which is why I had to have it all over my house.  We have a few of the traditional, larger candles sprinkled around the house which is pretty standard for this time of year.

We also have a couple in little votives like the one above.  I'm hoping to do a Christmas House Decor video for you guys soon, and when I do, you'll have to watch for these votives in particular.  There are two of them, and our stockings hang beneath each one!  

But, since candles stay pretty localized unless they're actually burning, this year I decided to take this little obsession one step further when I saw that Bath and Body also had Wallflowers in the scent this year!  We have one in just about every room in the house, which makes it smell lovely all the time, and with the cute, Christmasy bases, they double as decoration!  Personally, we really like the Poinsettia flower for most of the rooms, which you can see in the photo above, and the pine branches in the photo below as something different.  There are a ton of cute options, though!

Clearly, Spiced Apple Toddy is my favorite candle of the season, but I'd love to know what your favorites are, too!  There are so many amazing scents this time of year, whether it's the spicy cinnamon scents like this one or the more mellow bakery scents, etc!  Let me know what your favorite scent is this time of year in the comment section!

Monday, December 1, 2014

DIY Felted Dryer Balls

When Joe and I got married this past October, one of the gifts we were blessed to receive was a set of dyer balls.  If you are unfamiliar with dryer balls, allow me to explain.  They are little wool balls that you toss in your dryer along with your clothes, which act as a natural replacement for dryer sheets.  They have been so handy to have around the house, because the typical dryer sheets you can get from the store tend to leave a greasy residue behind that can really irritate your skin - at least it does for us.  Since these dryer balls are essentially just felted wool, we don't have to worry about that, though.

Another benefit is that they're really easy to make, and having been on the receiving end, I can safely say that it's a great gift idea this holiday season as well.  All you need is some non-washable wool yarn (I used Paton's Classic Wool in Dark Grey Marl and Dark Grey Mix), the leg from an old pair of stockings, a yarn needle, and some essential oil of your choice.  Personally, I think Lavender is a nice, calming scent.

Wrap the yarn into a ball until it is about the size of a tennis ball, then cut the yarn, leaving a long tail.  Thread this tail into a yarn needle, and push it through random areas in the ball to secure the strands in place.  Then, repeat this process until you have your desired number of dryer balls.  You can get about three balls per skein of yarn, which I think is a good number if you're giving these away as a gift.

Once you have made as many balls as you would like, put them in the stocking, one at a time, tying a knot between each ball.  This keeps the balls from falling apart during the felting process.  Then, toss the stocking into the washing machine first, washing the balls on hot.  You can also toss them in with clothes if you would like.  Then, dry them on hot as well.

Repeat these last two steps until the balls resemble those in the picture below - it took me about three times.  They will likely have a "wet dog" smell to them, which is where the essential oil comes in.  Just add a few drops of oil to the balls so that they have a nice, clean scent,  and you're done!

Let me know if you try to make these yourself, and how they worked out!  Make sure to send me a picture either on Instagram or Twitter so I can see your creations!