Simple Terrarium

It is a shiny new year here at share a bit of love!  I thought I would share a gift that I made for a gift exchange this year in case your new year’s resolution is to give a little more, make the world a greener place, or to spruce up your home or office.

I made this simple terrarium (two actually) for under $10 with some help from mother nature.Terrarium6

Here is what you will need:

  • Clear glass vessel
  • succulent plants
  • moss
  • potting soil
  • activated charcoal
  • gravel
  • rocks & sticks for added decoration

1. Start layering in this order: Gravel, charcoal, & potting soil.

2. Plant succulent in soil.

3. Pat in moss around to cover- You can skip this step, but it adds nice texture.  I managed to peel some moss from our front yard. (thanks Pacific Northwest!)

4. Add stones/sticks (I used drift wood from a girls weekend at the beach a few months back, and stones collected from a camping trip)

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Hunt & Gather Wreath

As you may have noticed, I love living in the Pacific Northwest.

There is endless nature to be discovered, scenery as far as the eye can see, and gifts only the cool damp weather can bring.

With the holidays in full swing, I thought I would gather a few pieces of my favorite place and put a wreath together. I chose to hop over to my favorite green belt and pick up the left overs from a recent wind storm. It was a win-win.

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Here is what you will need:

Florist Wire

Wreath form (I used a maple branch)

Various Evergreen Boughs

Patience

Start by forming your wreath by bending the branch into a circle. Wire together tightly.

Grab about 4 boughs at a time, laying them on the wreath form, and tightly wrapping with wire to secure them. I used several pieces of wire instead of continuously wrapping. Continue around the entire wreath form adding different sets of boughs for different textures.  Wrap a hanger to the main circle of the wreath.  Tuck in a garnishments-holly, pine cones, or as I did, curly willow branches.

Give to your neighbors- hang on your door- share a bit of love.

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Homemade Gifts- Industrial Candles

It is the season of gift giving. Around here we don’t do a lot of shopping, but instead, do a little supply gathering. Our family LOVES to do homemade gifts for the holidays.  Today I took to some candle making supplies to test make some unique industrial candles. A quick trip to the hardware and craft stores and I was ready to go!

Here is what I used:

  • Galvanized Pipe Caps: 2 inch, 1 1/2 inch, and 1 1/14 inch sizes
  • Beeswax Pellets
  • Essential Oil (Sweet Orange)
  • Long wicks

In a double boiler, or in my case a regular pot of water with a heat safe bowl on top, heat the wax and about 40 drops of essential oil until fully melted. While you wait, glue the wicks to the bottom inside of your galvanized caps.  Pull the wicks to one side, pour hot wax into each cap.  Using skewers, prop your wicks up to keep them out of the wax. Don’t worry if the tops are a little rough, you can clean them up using a hair dryer and a skewer to smooth things out.  When everything is set, cut your wicks down and viola! A custom set of candles ready for gifting. Total estimated Cost: $16.00

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Plum Fresh

Or should it be more appropriate to call it “Fresh Plum” today?share a bit of love DIY Plum Sauce1

I obtained a large basket of perfectly ripened Italian Plums this week from a colleague. To avoid the inevitable fruit flies that have run havoc around my kitchen this summer, I opted to make plum sauce.

Plum jam was really on my mind, but then I realized I was plum (ha!) out of my main canning staples. Enter Plum Sauce.  It just sounds decadent over vanilla ice cream, cheesecake, scones, goat cheese toast, or even as a glaze on a slow roasted turkey breast- doesn’t it?

Here is what is needed:

  • 4 cups of washed & halved Italian Plums
  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon/lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice

In a large non reactive sauce pan, pour plums, sugar, spices and lemon juice. Simmer on low-medium for about an hour and a half while stopping to stir and to make sure the mixture doesn’t over boil.  220 (f) degrees should probably do the trick.  Your house will smell amazing. Meanwhile, prepare your jars for canning.  While the jars are still hot, spoon the sauce into each jar, and process using a water bath. Lick the delicious leftovers off the spoon and swoon at the late summer taste of beautiful Italian Plums.

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Fresh Eggs

We have this saying around our house that has us always in project mode- “why not?”.

We’ve had this corner of our suburban yard that has long housed a large purple rhododendron that was adored by me and despised by the Handsome. An agreement was made that it could be removed upon the addition of something really cool that doesn’t require pulling weeds.  Enter the chicken coop. (Why not? Remember?)

Crafted with our own four hands and a bunch of amazing reclaimed fence materials, in three (maybe 4) weeks after work and on weekends, we made this little gem.  It houses nesting boxes for three chickens, a roosting ladder, a window, garden space, and a small, self-contained chicken run. A friend had more than her share of mature hens and was happy to re-home three lovely ladies.  I will be introducing them in the future, one by one, as they allow me to hold and take their photo.

After getting them settled last night, we woke up to a beautiful brown egg this morning, only to be followed by two more by noon. We can’t wait to see how we do on the daily with this backyard flock, but if the eggs keep looking this beautiful, I think we will all get along just fine. Why not?

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In the Garden

I have this little piece of paradise. It happens to be in my very own backyard. It is so peaceful and calm- in the middle of the Suburban west. Slug destruction aside, this is a quiet little delicious sanctuary that I take pride in every time I clip a leaf of kale for salad or pull a carrot fresh from the soil.

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Sweet Tooth

Our house has always embraced the old fashioned, outdated qualities that slow living provides.  I love technology in so many ways, but really admire the classics and the quality and pride of making something for yourself.

I recently had an ice cream making experience with my favorite ginger that was so successful we were trying to figure out ways to bring the “left overs” home more than a few hours away. Afterwards,  I scoured the web for my own little piece of ice cream history.  I found my very own antique maker thanks to In the Top Drawer via etsy.  After gathering my favorite (and locally sourced) ingredients, we were on to our frozen kitchen adventure.

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The Must Have:

    • Plenty of Ice & Salt for the bucket
    • 1 1/2 Cup half & half
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1 Cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
    • FLAVOR: Fresh Strawberries (you can really add anything here

 The How To:

1. Heat the half & half in a sauce pan over low heat.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and sugar.

3. Slowly add the egg and sugar mixture into the saucepan.

4.Continue to cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon.

5. Add heavy whipping cream to the  mixture.

6. Pour everything into the metal canister and secure the lid.

7. Insert canister into bucket, surround with crushed ice, add salt, and crank it for almost 30 minutes or until there is resistance in the cream.

8. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze over night.

9. Scoop and enjoy- even for breakfast.