Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas from the Hearth


      Finding the right gift to give for the right person may seem difficult at times, but here is an idea that you may have not thought of and it is easy to make.  Christmas from the hearth is about giving a gift to someone for their fireplace that will take it from cozy to the focal point during the holiday season.  Using branches, twigs, herbs, and pine cones with a little bit of creativity can create wonderful fire starters that add a visual effect, serves a purpose , and infuses wonderful scents throughout your home.  Gather together kindling of various shapes and sizes.  Old bark that has fallen off of stored fire wood ignites a fire pretty quickly.  It also can be used to make attractive mulch, but that is another story.  Pine cones are a must.  Twigs can be cut into uniform pieces and bundled with ribbon will be an attractive addition to your basket. Be sure to soak them in fragrance oils before wrapping them.   I used red ribbon here to secure it with, but raffia would probably a better choice.

 White birch logs bundle together also add a dramatic effect and can be found on Etsy for about a mere $ 20.00.  You can also find them at Amazon in varies sizes and amounts.  Their wood products under a Dry Kiln process that sterilizes, wicks out moisture, prevent mold and mildew, and ensures no bugs.  This process also preserves the integrity of the bark.  Not only that but the cut ends are sanded and smooth for a clean look.  The recipient of this gift may opt to use it in other decorations.  It will give your basket a nice clean look.  This light colored wood will give a nice pop of contrast to your basket.  I just love making these for my family.  You can substitute other logs if you can't find these.  Most retailers and even some convenient stores always have a small bundle of firewood that you can pick up for a few bucks.

     Next you will want to gather up pine cones.  These you can find anywhere especially this time of the year.  Make sure that you get the biggest ones with little or no damage to them.  Like the twigs you will want to bring them in and clean them in a bucket of water to remove debris and insects.  You can then lay them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil to catch the sap at 200° for 30 minutes to dry.  As they dry they will open their petals.  This is where the fun really begins.  You can mix up different chemicals in water and soak the pine cones in for 8 hours and let them dry again.  This will cause them to burn in different colors.  Here is the recipes listed below.

Flickr/Martin Cathrae

  • Yellow - 1 cup of table salt to 1/2 gallon of hot water
  • Yellow/green - 1 cup of Borax to 1/2 gallon of hot water
  • White - 1 cup of Epsom's Salt to 1/2 gallon of hot water
  • Green - 1 cup of Boric Acid to 1/2 gallon of hot water
  • Red - 1 cup of Strontium Chloride to 1/2 gallon of hot water

   The latter one can be found in pet stores in the aquarium isle.  It is important to completely submerge your pine cones in the solution for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight.  After removing, place pine cones on a newspaper to dry for at least 3 days.  This is what makes the gift so special.  Separate each set of colored pine cones and wrap them in cellophane  with the same color ribbon the the flame will display.  You can expect this effect.  Another idea is to buy some paraffin wax, candle coloring and candle fragrance and mix  melt in an old tin can in a double broiler.  Colors perfect for this basket would be blue and white.  When the wax melts using tongs dip the pine cones in the colorants and lay out to dry.

     Other items that you will want to include in your basket can be found at your local florist.  Fragrant pieces such as lavender and rosemary stem can be bundled together.  Bay leaves , lemongrass, mint, dried sage, and rosemary are just some examples that you can add in your basket.  These spread a wonderful scent throughout the house.  Dried apple and orange slices can give off a sweet scent and they burn very well in the fireplace.  Save lemon and orange peels to make a small potpourri and best of all tie a bundle of cinnamon sticks together for an extra special aroma.

     When you have complete these steps find a large wicker  basket to display your gift.  Don't forget to add a big box of wooden matches or a grill lighter.  If this gift is for a couple you might want to toss in a bottle of fine wine and a couple of wine glasses.  It is for a family a nice decorate jar of coco and marshmallows will add the finishing touch.  Wrap the finish product up in a large piece of clear cellophane and put a large ribbon around it keeping with your theme.  This is an inexpensive gift that can have a million dollar look if done right.  If you make one can you leave a comment or pic below so we can see what your imagination brings to light.

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