How To Clean Pine Cones

I don’t know if it was just my upbringing or everyone in the Midwest. But I remember while my my family and I were out camping in the summer months. My mom would tell my brother and I to go pick up as many pine cones as we could! I ended up turning it into a game! Maybe just for myself- I don’t know if my brother ever participated in my crazy schemes for finding the MOST perfect pine cone. And I remember my mom would decorate the house for Christmas with our prize wining pine cones we had found earlier in the year.

Now that I’m an adult myself- I still can’t help but look down when I’m out in the mountains during the warmer months.

Pine cones are a great filler for decorations! You can do anything you want! Make a garland, stick in garland on your mantle, put in a bowl, or you can go down a completely different route! You can- use them for crafts! The possibilities are endless!

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IMG_7835Any craft sell some amazing smelling pine cones this time of the year. But why spend the money when you can make them yourself? And more times than not- the pine cones you find while have fun out in the woods or park are better than the ones you buy!

However; that being the case- these little guys are of nature they are homes of little bugs and etc. You don’t want to spend all this time on a craft and then have little colonies of bugs ruining your Christmas decorations. Or your crafts not holding their glitter or paint because of the little bugs eating away.
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To clean them is super easy! All you need is a third of white distilled vinegar and water in a bowl. Then place your pine cones in the bowl. Once they are saturated run your hands over them to get the rest of the dirt off them. Leave them in the vinegar bath for 45 minutes you will now they are ready when all the pine cones are closed instead of open.

Helpful hint- if you might get sap on your hands. Soap doesn’t always get sap off. The best solution? Use cooking oil as soap and ta da- good bye sap!

Once your pine cones are free from dirt and little insects place on paper towels to dry rotating them every hour to make sure every side is dry. I left mine out for a day and by the next day they were completely dried.

I know waiting for them to dry can be hard- if you want to decorate or craft that day you can put them on a single baking sheet lined with aluminium foil and put them in the oven at 150 degrees for a half hour- but if you want to take that route you have really pay attention to them or else it can be flammable! The best approach? Just be patient and leave them out to dry.

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Once they are dried and clean they are free to be used for whatever you want to use them for weather for a craft or leave them all natural for a more realistic look to them.

Finally- if you pick up anything else on the ground outside such as sticks or conkers do the same thing not just pine cones. And save yourself a little extra cash this Holiday season!

 

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Drying Oranges

I have always seen the traditional dried oranges with pine cones and twine- very rustic and traditional smell and look for the holidays.  And I’ve always appreciated it from afar and always saying- I AM going to do it this year. And while every year it tends to go on the back burner.

However; this year I decide enough was enough I was going to buy oranges and dry them. Now that I’m familiar with how to do it and confident on not burning down my apartment- I can see now that this is going to become a holiday tradition of mine!

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And it’s rather simple to make! I just sliced up some oranges into thin slice, then place them onto some paper towels. And then take some more paper towels and sandwich the oranges and very carefully press your hand over the oranges to get out as much juice as possible.

After that- gentle press more paper towel onto the orange to get out as much juice as possible.

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After pre-drying them with paper towels I laid down parchment paper onto a cookie sheet. Make sure you set your oven for the lowest setting. You don’t want to create weird orange chips.

I will tell you though it does take a bit for the oranges to be completely dried. I stupidly did this around 7pm and I had to end up drying them throughout two days. So heads up- this will take a couple hours to completely dry.

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Once dried they are ready to be used for anything you would like! I have seen- garland, potpourri with cinnamon sticks and pine cones, garland for a tree, and mantle pieces. Get creative! The smell of your kitchen after you are done is amazing! That’s for sure.

I would love to hear- what would you do with dried oranges?

 

Twenty-Four Days of Kindness

Growing up my Mom just did Christmas really well. Every December I got so excited because from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve was filled with something fun and just made it special.

Maybe that’s why I just get lost in the magic of Christmas. And I have a tendency to get carried away with Christmas. I remember growing up my Mom would make each day in December just as fun as the last. I think part of fun is actually the count down to Christmas!

I remember she would hang up a velvet green advent calendar on my bedroom door and every morning I would wake up and I would find either a piece of gum or a candy cane.

Now that I’m out on my own- I was inspired to create my own advent calendar for my roommates and I (because who said adults can’t have some Christmas magic too!) I stumbled upon a cheap but amazing idea here for what Christmas is all about for my roommates.

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Very easy to make and fun to do as well! You can create it anyway you would like! Ken Wingard created it with a picture frame. However; I didn’t have one laying around so I decided to create a “little” Christmas station for it to decorate a wall in the place. First I just hung up some twine parallel to each other.

For the clues I decided to get a little crafty. I just googled Christmas tree clip art and then used that as a stencil on red scrapbook paper. For the count down part of the calendar I picked these little gift tags at my local Jo Ann’s store in the discount stationary aisle (seriously- check it out they have some amazing things!) then just used gold and red paint markers to write out the days. For the clues I decided to write them up with metallic pens alternating between white, silver, and gold. To jazz it up a bit more I bought some bells and glued it on the gift tag.

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To finish it up and wrap it up with a pretty bow I suppose you could say I decided to tie on a mini Christmas ornament between the holes on the gift tag and Christmas tree to ensemble them all together and then just use some clothes pins to clip them onto the twine. And ta-da complete!

Once it was all hung up I realized it still looked a little bare I hung up my Believe banner that I picked up from Target last year. And hung some bells I’ve had my whole life on the end of the twine.

I was really amazed at how well it actually turned out. I’m a little obsessed! I can’t wait for this to become a tradition the older I get- and your clues don’t have to be elaborate or have to spend money on gifts. For this year I did small things that I knew we would love doing together to sit back together as a family and truly treasure the wonderful season we are in and to celebrate the reason for the season by paying it forward.

 

Cyber Monday

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You guys! We’ve entered into my favorite time of the year! The colder darker mornings. The warm nights under my blankets in front of my television watching a Christmas movie with a hot cup of tea while the Christmas tree lights are a glistening! Honestly I love shopping for others and I love the idea of Black Friday. Yet, I am prone to not want to move from my cocoon of Christmas Heaven in my living room. And I tend to be one of those annoying people who is pretty much done with her holiday shopping before November 1st. However; if you aren’t that person- NO FEAR! I got you!

If you are like me- and don’t like big crowds or the whole stress/anxiety levels of Black Friday. Do it all on Monday- online for Cyber Monday! I’m a huge fan of Cyber Monday. I don’t have to leave my place and still get my last minute gifts taken care of.

I tend to do a little bit of research a couple weeks beforehand to see which stores have the best deals on Monday. And I do a little bit of prep beforehand. Such has I write out a list of all the places I normally shop at so for example- Amazon, Etsy, and Forever 21 and I write down the coupon code, the discount, or what to expect to be on sale.

As well as all the research I had just made- I have the list of people I’m shopping for next to me to keep me on track and under budget!

If you just jumped online on Monday and didn’t have the time to do the research or prepare yourself- have no fear! And instead of going to each store’s individual website and you have 101 tabs open. I stumbled upon this website when I was doing my research-here.

Honestly- I’m hooked! Every store you can imagine or service you would like to gift to a loved one is there with a discount. And I don’t know about you but I like shopping when I can save money especially if finances are little tight but you still want to give a little something. 😉

I would love to hear about your shopping experiences- are you a Black Friday fight the crowds kind of person or would rather do it from your laptop on Cyber Monday? I would also love to hear about your treasures!

Happy Shopping!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blessed

“There never was such a goose!” – Bob Cratchit (A Christmas Carol)

Today is Thanksgiving. A beautiful day, an amazing tradition- and a holiday based on slowing down and counting your blessings. It’s hard to get out of the daily norm and see the hand of God work in your life. Life is busy- and time gets away.

I love the holidays. I love the movies, the music, the gifting, gift wrap, the lights, cookies… and and and…  I could keep going. I love the traditions and the togetherness that holidays bring to my world. Bing Crosby said it best in White Christmas- “When you can’t sleep instead of counting sheep- I count my blessings…”

Let’s get to counting:

I’m so thankful of how blessed I am

who I’m surrounded by family that God seemed fit perfectly for me.

Passions that drive me.

Faith that keeps me grounded.

Friends that entertain me.

Likes and dislikes that keep things fun.

Moments that become memories.

New adventures that bring new lessons.

Cups of coffee that lead to good conversations.

Everyday that begins with God’s new mercies- in sunsets and sunrises.

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I grew up watching The Walton’s it’s probably one of my favorite TV programs. I think that John- Boy Walton said it best: “Next to Christmas, I suppose you’d have to say that Thanksgiving was our favorite time of the year. We may have been poor in worldly possessions but, at Thanksgiving, more than any other time, I think we knew, we really knew, how great our abundance.”

Although the times have changed since the time period of The Great Depression that The Walton’s are aired out of. Let us never loose the abundance of gratitude of unbelievable blessings that God has rained down on us this year and every year.

 

 

Fall/Winter Makeup Look

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Now that sweater weather is among us and the days are shorter. I find myself taking a lot longer in the dark mornings spending more time getting ready for the day. I  thought I would write a little post about what I’ve been loving. The last couple weeks I have been loving to rock a deep burgundy smokey eye look. I have a tendency to stick with what I know for face makeup and then play up my eyes depending on the season I’m in. During the summer warmer months I love going a bit more natural with  only light eyeliner and mascara. I have been loving playing up the eye and adding more warm tones with blushes and bronzer. ** Disclaimer I’m not a makeup artist and I don’t claim to be! I’m just a girl who is a little obsessed with pretty makeup things. 🙂

Here’s the products I’ve been using lately.

Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

Neutrogena Skin Clearing Complexion Perfector in “Fair 10”

Revlon Colorstay Concealer in “Fair Clair”

Cover Girl Professional Loose Powder Loose Powder in “Translucent Fair”

E.L.F Contour Palette in “Assorted”

No7 Bronzer in “Caramel”

L’Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Blush in “Barely Blushing”

L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Powder Glow Illuminator in “Rose”

E.L.F eye primer in “Sheer”

Maybelline New York Brow Drama in “Deep Brown”

Mary Kay Cream Eye Color in “Metallic Taupe”

Revlon Colorstay in “Addictive Intoxiquant”

E.L.F Eyeshadow in “Matte for Plum”

Physicians Formula Eye Booster in “Ultra Black”

Mary Kay Eyeliner in “Black”

Mary Kay Lash Love Lengthening Mascara in “I ❤ Black”

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Bigger! Better! Lashes Mascara in “Ultra Black”

L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Sculpt Mascara in “Blackest Black”

Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara in “Blackest Black”

Remember makeup is fun and all. But please remember it’s more about who you are and beauty isn’t defined in how you do your makeup. Have fun and explore! Practice makes perfect!

What is your go to Fall/Winter makeup looks? Do you shake things up seasonal?

 

 

 

Pumpkin Picking

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One of my favorite Fall activities is the classic pumpkin patches. A couple weekends ago my friends and I decided to make the trip and  make a morning of going through a corn maze and pick pumpkins.

When we arrived we instantly were taken back by all the fun activities. A large hay slide, zip line, kid train rides, duck races, play ground, and a hay jump pit! That probably are designed for kids under the age of 7. Yet, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be like kids for a couple of hours.

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We loaded up our car on the last beautiful Fall day. In the low 60’s with a slight wind- what more could you ask for? At this corn maze every year they make a new design. This year it was Frankenstein! I was so proud- we conquered it in less than 20 minutes! What!?

I have so many amazing memories as a kid- once October comes along go to a Pumpkin Patch and picking up a pumpkin, going through mazes, and picking apples! As well as my mom would allow my brother and I to pick up a sweet treat! I remember our favorite were honey sticks!

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After we went down the slide and rode across the zip line we decided to start going through the pumpkin patch. It’s amazing how much fun it is to go through patch after patch trying to find just the most  PERFECT pumpkin! I always think it brings ownership over something when you go out and pick it out. I mean grabbing one at your local supermarket will work but I don’t think it is as much fun as the experience of picking one up at the pumpkin patch is.

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Whether you pack up your car and head to the pumpkin patch or head to your local supermarket. Pick up your pumpkins and let’s get the festivities going!

Do you like to carve or paint your pumpkins?