[Make Your Own] Sparkly + Seasonal Home Decorations


When I was younger, it felt like the holidays would  wait until at least after Thanksgiving to waltz into the world and steal the show.  I don’t know if it’s the awareness I’ve accumulated as an adult, or a fact of our modern reality but the older I get – the earlier and earlier the seem to sneak up into the everyday life.  Little by little,  Mariah Carey and The Ratpack have planted yuletide ear bugs, sweetly serenading me while Christmas commercials run rampant over the airwaves and my visual spectrum becomes inundated with red, white, green and glitter everything.  The holiday season provides a wonderful excuse to spruce up the place and though I’d love to ball out and adorn the apartment with brand spankin’ new holiday decorations, I have to admit that there’s something so gratifying and satisfying about making decorations all on your own.  Last year, I perfected making homemade candles so this time I thought I’d try my luck at something a bit more naturally beautiful.

Just the other day, when I dropped by my favorite local clothing shop – Native Boutique, I caught myself ogling their adorable holiday dresses, toying with the strings longingly as I lazed through the store.   Not only do they have a killer $20 rack outside, but they’ve got a welcoming staff and a stellar selection of clothing for the female young professionals that know how to both work and play hard.  While making my way through the aisles, I noticed they had some beautifully simple decorations lying around on cabinets, tables and cupboards – glittery, shimmery pinecones!

With the amount of camping and festivals that Danny and I have been to over the last three years, we’ve actually amassed quite a number of pine cones that are scattered throughout our place – the coffee table, the alter, and in even in a batch of potpourri that I made out of a bouquet of roses. I’d seen a few posts that detailed painting the cones like flowers, but that seemed a bit much for me – glitter, however, that I can do! It’s the perfect combination of natural and whimsical, while providing the perfect accent to any coffee table, window sill – or even in a bowl of pretty and pungent potpourri.

Supplies:

Instructions:

The great thing about the sparkly, seasonal pine cones is that they’re as easy to make as they sound and the result is beautiful any way you spin it!

  • Start by laying down a protective layer of cardboard or newspaper over the area you’ll be crafting over – that way you’ll keep all the MOOP (Matter-Out-Of-Place) in one area.
  • Gather your pine cones and flowers in a central area for efficient work space
  • In a small mixing cup, add any and all of the different glitters that you’re putting on the first pine cone

  • If you’d like to spare yourself glitter-fingers, toss on a pair of plastic gloves.
  • Shake the can of spray glue and remove the plastic top, spray can on a third of the pine cone and loosely sprinkle enough glitter to cover the glue.  Repeat on the rest of the pine cone.
  • Set pine cone in a safe place to set and repeat steps on other pine cones; allow cones to set over night
  • The next morning, take a blow dryer on the lowest setting and dust off any excess glitter.

Voila! Easy, breezy, beautiful home accents that can liven up any room 🙂


[Kitchen Kitten] D.I.Y. Pickled Veggies

madewithOver (25)I’m officially a week and a half into my ’30 Before 30′ challenge and happy as a clam. After a few days of plodding through bullet points, I separated my list into two partitions; the first, “one time” or “jumping off” points if you will (like camping at Joshua Tree or making my own candles), and the later ended up as a culmination of ideas that I want to spend the year progressively getting better at (reading sheet music, relearning French and my weekly yoga practice).  What seemed like a series of mountains instead of molehills magically transformed into a full fledged plan of attack. First up, something I’ve been itching to try since I started infusing olive oils – making my own pickled vegetables!

One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is combining my love of amazing foods – in this case, all things pickled (cucumbers, olives, mushrooms, quail eggs – you name it, I love chowing down on it) – with my addiction to easy and affordable DIY projects. I sifted through cookbooks and did a fair share of online searching, and there are a gaggle of pickling recipes out!  Take your time and bounce though a few different websites to get your bearings on the matter.  The way I see it, cooking is a lot like art – you can color between the lines and follow the instructions perfectly, or you can think outside the box and create something new. Don’t be afraid to combine bits and pieces of recipes from multiple sources, because that’s exactly what I did and it turned out phenomenally.

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There’s a few different things to take into account as you begin: What type of vegetables are you planning on pickling?  Some veggies – like cucumber and onions – can be tossed into your jars from the get-go; but for veggies that land on the sturdier side (potatoes, mushrooms, carrots), you’ll want to blanch them first so they don’t lose any coloring or flavor. Don’t worry, I’ll explain below! Would you prefer them to be savory and full of dill? Want to kick up the spice and add some chilis? Or, would you rather they land on the sweeter side?  If you plan on using multiple containers, you don’t have to make that decision – which is perfect for someone like me who simply wants it all. Now, you have the luxury of switching things up at the leisure of your taste buds, so get down with your bad self and spice each one as desired.

Vegetables: if you like bar snacks or a heavily garnished Bloody Mary, you might want to get a little wild with this.

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What I Used

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 cup Pearl Onions
  • Israeli Pickles
  • 1 Cup Small, Whole Mushrooms
  • Tunes – this week’s soundtrack comes from Jody Wisternoff of the  Progressive House duo Way Out West.  I’ve been a fan of the group for a few years now but it wasn’t until recently that I was turned onto the solo ventures of Jody or the other half of WoW, Nick Warren.  Whether together or on their own, they provide a beautifully calm soundtrack to your endeavors.

Brine:  You can make as little or as much brine as you’d like, just remember this – it’s a 2:1 ratio of water to vinegar. 

  • madewithOver (23)4 Cups Water (If you local tap water is a little cloudy, use bottled)
  • 2 Cups White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Salt (non-iodized; if you want to get fancy – pickling salt exists)
  • Fresh Dill
  • Mint Springs
  • Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Cup of Garlic Cloves

Tools:

  • 1 large Sauce Pan
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • cucumber peeler 
  • Canning or Mason Jars (old Spaghetti Sauce Jars work, too!) + Lids
  • salad tongs (optional)

After a few trial rounds, I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered the pickle rhetoric and I can fly solo without instructions in front of me. I can’t wait to share, so let’s get this pickle party started!

Instructions

  • Put your basic brine (vinegar, water and salt) into a large sauce pan; bring it to a boil for two to thee minutes as the salt dissolves.  Take brine off of heat and let it cool to room temperature.  As you’re waiting…
  • Wash, slice and dice your veggies to fit your jars
  • Take the sturdier veggies and blanch them for two minutes: heat up some water with a teaspoon of salt, throw ’em in then toss them into an ice bath when you’re done.
  • Add your spices to the containers, then layer your vegetables on top; you can make each jar unique, or you can make them splash with color and mix them all together. Make sure to leave about 1/2 an inch so the brine can cover them completely!
  • Once the brine has cooled, pour it into your jars and shove them to the back of your fridge.  Depending on how impatient you are (or how much of a flavor fiend you fancy yourself), you can let them sit for anywhere between 10 hours and 2 weeks, depending on how long they fermented you can keep them for a month (quick brine) or four.

[Weekly Dose of Wisdom]

I’m only five days into my ’30 Before 30′ challenge and rewarding has never felt so exhausting and amazing at the same time!   After a brief hiatus, I started running again and afterwards, instead of ‘stretching’ – I’ve been getting down on some yoga and meditation (#12) .  I wanted a way to quantify my efforts and figured a great way to measure my yoga growth was to master a new pose a week.  That way, I can grow my repertoire of poses and incorporate them into a weekly yoga routine.  First up, Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana);  it’s been a bit of a battle, but I’ve truly enjoyed  putting in the daily work and seeing results.  What started as an absolute joke (I might have almost fallen on my face….several times), has turned into a full three or four deep breaths on each leg before I teeter-totter myself back to stability.  At the end of the weekend I hope to have a picture or two to show for my efforts, but beggars can’t always be choosers.  What’s even better is that I’ve been able to knock an item off of the bucket list!  I pickled some cucumber and mushrooms (#7) the other night and my word, they are delicious and that was easier than I thought. With the long weekend ahead  and so much I want to accomplish – I thought getting a little perspective and wisdom under my belt would be a perfect way to kick things off on this beautiful Friday in LA; enjoy!

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