Category Archives: tutorials

December 11, 2013

orange peel star garland :: tutorial

orange peel garland :: circle of pine trees blog

orange peel garland :: circle of pine trees blog

orange peel garland :: circle of pine trees blog

orange peel garland :: circle of pine trees blog

orange peel garland :: circle of pine trees blog

We have a box of beloved Christmas decorations all ready to be brought down from the loft when we decorate the tree – I am making the boys wait until next weekend, much to their annoyance! In the meantime, I conceded that we could prettify the mantelpieces. Cranberry garlands are an annual feature in our house, but this year, I decided to also have a try at making an orange peel garland, having seen a few on Pinterest. It was such a speedy and satisfying little make, and it had the added bonus of scenting the house too.

This is how I did it…

You will need:

3 large oranges

a small sharp knife

thread {I used gold beading wire} and a needle

small star cookie cutter

 

Carefully cut the peel from the oranges in large segments, about four per orange, depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

Place the segment onto a hard surface and push the cookie cutter into the peel until you have pushed through and cut out a star (this can be a bit tough on your hands!)

Using the needle, thread the stars onto the wire, pushing the needle through from one side of the star to the other.

When the garland is threaded, you need to allow it to dry. You could do this naturally, but I popped mine into the oven on its lowest setting and left it for an hour. I then turned off the oven and left the garland in it as it cooled, filling the kitchen with an orangey aroma. (Do not use your oven if your thread is flammable or could melt, e.g. plastic!)

Once the stars have dried, your garland is ready to be hung…

Joining in with Lou for Nature in the Home: Christmas

November 13, 2013

pinecone firelighters :: tutorial

pinecone firelighters tutorial :: circle of pine trees blog

When we’re out on a walk, the boys are very fond of collecting things. Sticks are a given, but pine cones are another favourite of theirs. A couple of years ago, when we found a particularly large haul of pinecones, I started using them to make pinecone firelighters. It’s such an easy and satisfying task that I have made a couple of batches every year since. With the weather turning colder, and a pile of pinecones once again accumulating by the back door, it seemed the perfect time to begin.

What I used:

* Pinecones

* Wax from about 10 tealight candles (with the metal casing and wick removed)

* Essential oils  (clove, black pepper and orange)

* a glass bowl and a saucepan of water

* some baking parchment and a cooling rack

pinecone firelighters tutorial :: circle of pine trees blog

pinecone firelighters tutorial :: circle of pine trees blog

The pinecones that we find are usually closed up. To open, they require warmth. Bringing them inside the house does the job eventually, but to speed things up, I put them on a baking tray in a very low oven (about 50 c or gas mark 1). This takes two to three hours, during which time the kitchen has a lovely pine-fresh scent to it. They will need a shake every hour or so.

pinecone firelighters tutorial :: circle of pine trees blog

Once the pinecones have opened, I shake out any dirt or pine needles.

I heat the wax in a double boiler (a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water) until it has melted. I then add the essential oils. I stir in a few drops of orange and a couple of shakes each of black pepper and cloves for a lovely spicy, festive aroma.

pinecone firelighters tutorial :: circle of pine trees blog

I remove the wax from the heat and allow it to cool for a few moments. It can take a little trial and error to get it the right temperature for dipping the pinecones. It is ready when it is cool enough that it doesn’t burn my fingers and when I swirl the pinecones in it, they become immediately frosted with a white coating. If the wax goes on clear, it is not yet cool enough. If a skin starts to form on it and large lumps of wax stick to the cones, it is too cool and needs to be heated up again slightly.

Once each pinecone has been liberally frosted, I place it to cool on a sheet of parchment paper over a cooling rack.

pinecone firelighters tutorial :: circle of pine trees blog

I keep the pinecone firelighters in a wooden bowl on the mantelpiece. When lighting the fire, we throw in a couple of pinecone firelighters with the kindling. As they burn, they scent the room beautifully.

In previous years, we have packaged some up to give as Christmas gifts, and I suspect that this year will be no different…

pinecone_firelighters-9

Joining in once more with Lou for Nature in the Home.