Posted in Lifestyle

Decorating Ideas for a Rustic Christmas Tree

Our Log Home Rustic Christmas Tree
Our Log Home Rustic Christmas Tree

A tradition in our house every year is to start decorating for the Christmas season on the evening of Thanksgiving Day (yep, though we can barely move because we feel like stuffed turkeys ourselves, we manage to drag out the numerous storage bins of Christmas collections from years gone by!) A major part of this decorating tradition is the family decorating the Christmas tree. Though I know of people having several trees that they decorate for the holidays, in our home, we only decorate one. For this reason, I put a lot of thought in to specifically what “style” of tree I want each year.

Burlap and Pine Stocking Ornament
Burlap and Pine Stocking Ornament

Since moving in to our Log House a little over a year ago, I have settled on a Rustic Style theme for our tree to compliment the rustic decor of our home. I continue to collect rustic trimmings throughout the year, as I see something that I think would be a perfect fit for my rustic theme. Now mind you, this has meant us pretty much purging our entire decorating theme from our tree when we moved from our farm house! I was ready for something that had rustic flair. Here are my decorating tips for a Rustic Christmas Tree.

Choosing the Tree for Decorating

Though I find “real” trees to be absolutely gorgeous, we chose to use an artificial tree that looks realistic. Simply due to our hectic work schedules and our pets, we find that an artificial tree suits our needs best. For our Rustic Style tree, I chose a flocked pine tree. The waxy needles and “snow” lined branches remind me of a walk through the forest at winter, and serve as the perfect backdrop to our decorations. I also like that the branches have some space in between, because this just gives me more room to tuck and stuff my own branches of berries and twigs in between to give extra texture and fullness.

The tree we use comes pre-lit with basic white lights, though we have a few back up single strands on hand in case we experience any burnouts. We also added some red light strands to coordinate with the red accents in the berries and bow. For a rustic motif, I find multi-colored lights to be too “busy” in my opinion, and the white and red lights give a nice glimmer on the white “snow” and accentuate the family heirloom decorations without competing. Now that we have our blank canvas, it is time to decorate our Rustic Christmas Tree!

Wooden Snowflake Ornament
Wooden Snowflake Ornament

Tree Decoration Ideas

Disney Cruise Line Heirloom Ornament
Disney Cruise Line Heirloom Ornament

On our tree, we mix two different “categories” of decorations. One set of decorations includes our rustic-style decor that go along with our log cabin woodsy theme. The second set of decorations are more meaningful, as we try and collect ornaments from all of our travels. This way, year after year, we are reminded of family trips and time spent together from years gone by.

Frosted Berry Sprays
Frosted Berry Sprays

A base for our rustic decor are berry sprays and picks. I find that the red berries mirror perfectly with the flocked pine branches, and add a punch of color to the tree. The sprays are placed sporadically throughout the tree, and serve to fill in the “gaps” and add extra fullness while adding the punch of red color. I use both plain and frosted berry sprays throughout our tree. For additional rustic flair, I add additional decorations that include: pine cone picks, wooden snowflakes, ornaments with burlap accents, and pretty much anything else I can find that feels woodsy to me!

Rustic Wooden Red Snowflake
Rustic Wooden Red Snowflake

In addition to the frosted and berry picks, I chose really large pine cone picks as well that I found at a local crafts store. The bulkiness of the pine cones make them visible on the tree from a distance and also add extra “fullness” in between the pine branches.

Extra Large Pine Cone Picks
Extra Large Pine Cone Picks

 

Twine Rapped Christmas Ball Ornament
Twine Rapped Christmas Ball Ornament

Topping the Rustic Christmas Tree

Once we are finished with adding the rustic decorations and the heirloom ornaments from our family adventures, it is time to add the finishing touch. Instead of a “traditional” tree topper star or any other that perches on the top of the tree, I prefer to top my trees with big bows! After watching many YouTube “how to” videos on making bows, I finally got my bows to the point of a step above mediocre wink, wink. What better choice for my rustic tree than a large Plaid bow! For this year, we decided on a red and black plaid wired ribbon with snowflakes (I like wired ribbon because this allows me to shape the bow and for it to actually maintain its puffy shape). I also like to leave long tails to my bows so they can drape down the tree to tie everything together and add extra color.

Black and Red Plaid Christmas Tree Topper Bow
Black and Red Plaid Christmas Tree Topper Bow

I hope you got some inspiration for decorating your next Rustic Christmas Tree! I had so much fun shopping for decorations that gave me the sense of woodsy and log-home living. This tree would also be perfect nestled in a corner of any vintage-styled home. The warmth and coziness of a Rustic tree is sure to please and give the sense of “welcome.” Happy Holidays! xoxo

Now that you have finished decorating your lovely tree, how about a quick yummy snack! Check out my posts “Easy NuWave Air Fryer Cheesecake Pockets” and “Easy to Make Caramel Apple Slices” for some quick recipes that are sure to please!

PIN ME: Decorating Idea for a  Rustic Christmas Tree
PIN ME: Decorating Idea for a Rustic Christmas Tree

 

Posted in DIY, Lifestyle

DIY “Live Edge” Hickory Wood Kitchen Island Top

A while back, I shared our “Give Your Kitchen a Face Lift for Less” post, showcasing our MUCH needed DIY kitchen do-over in our log house. Though we absolutely love the results from our low cost kitchen renovation, we wanted to take the “magic” one step further. Adding some extra spunk to our kitchen island was the ticket. I absolutely LOVE all things reclaimed!¬† When I was given the opportunity to take a tired workbench and re-purpose it for my kitchen island, I jumped at the chance. However, something was missing. That island still needed a little more work to make it just right for our “new” kitchen.

Kitchen Island "BEFORE" Refinished Top DIY Project
Kitchen Island “BEFORE” Refinished Top DIY Project

When we purchased the kitchen countertop wood from a local sawmill, I fell in LOVE with a vertical cut Hickory log that was laying in the sawmill yard. I knew I just had to have it! My favorite part was that a majority of the “live edge” bark was still in tact. From what I am told, this was a rare find. That Hickory log became my inspiration for our kitchen island top rehab. Now rest assured, I really had no idea exactly how we were going to work with such a large wood slab to complete this project. But, with a little elbow grease and a big imagination, the finished product for our DIY Live Edge Hickory Island Top was exactly what our kitchen needed. Not to mention I really grew tired of tripping over the log laying in the center of my garage ūüėČ

Turning the Large Hickory Slab into Workable Sections

Hickory Slab Live Edge
Hickory Slab Live Edge

As I had mentioned, the vertical cut log was rather large — about 12 feet long and 16 inches wide. The log had previously been cut lengthwise to make it more manageable. This left only one edge “live.” I knew that I wanted the live edge on both sides of the island, so we cut the the long log into two equal desired lengths.¬† When put back to back, I would have my live edge on both sides of my new island top. Furthermore, the log wasn’t the same thickness due to the way it was rough cut at the sawmill. This presented some extra work and challenges for us. However, it was nothing that I knew we couldn’t tackle with a little determination. We had some further preparing to do of the Hickory slab, but my vision started to take shape.

Time to Plane and Join the Hickory Slab Sections

Now that we had our two slab sections with the live edge on one side, the first thing we needed to do was plane the slabs down. Planing would ensure that our island top was of equal thickness all the way through. Well, this gave us yet another challenge. The slabs were still too wide to fit through our planer! Rest assured, Mr. Fix-it (well, most of the time, LOL) had an idea! Let’s cut the slabs lengthwise again so that we ended up working with four sections instead of two! I was hesitant at first, but then it made sense. Having the four smaller sections would make it MUCH easier to work with. Brilliant!

We laid the four slab sections on top of our island as a trail run for positioning. Then, I penciled in left to right the number 1 through 4 so that we knew the proper orientation for assembling later (taking a bow, LOL). Next, after cutting the two slabs into four sections and numbering, it was time to plane the wood. During the process, I was extra careful to preserve the live edge bark. I was adamant to have that bark on the finished masterpiece! We planed the four slabs so that all four had equal thickness. We settled on approximately 2 inches thick for our island top. Once the planing was completed, it was time to run the slabs through a joiner to give the cleanest connecting edges possible. The planed and joined pieces looked absolutely beautiful, and the Hickory grain really started to shine through.

Assembling the DIY Hickory Wood Kitchen Island Top

After removing the slatted boards that were on the original reclaimed workbench, we found there were already several cross support boards underneath. SCORE! We decided that we could use these to attach our Hickory sections to our base, and found these to be perfect for our cause. We started to carefully place our planed and joined Hickory sections to the top of our workbench, in the numbered order from our trial run for proper orientation.

Since the workbench was reclaimed and not perfectly square, a few hidden shims added here and there underneath the Hickory sections made for a level surface to line up the seams. Once lined up, we fastened the sections down to the workbench using screws through the cross supports on the underside so that no screws or screw holes were visible on the top of the island surface. The only thing left to do now was to fill the seams, stain and seal the island top!

 

DIY Kitchen Island Top with Filled Seams
DIY Kitchen Island Top with Filled Seams

The Finishing Touches for the DIY Hickory Wood Kitchen Island Top

With our island top in place and fastened down, it was time to add the finishing touches. We filled the seams with wood filler that can be stained. Then, we sanded the filler once dried with fine grit sand paper for blending. Once sanded, we wiped on our desired stain color, then added a second coat once the first coat dried to give us our desired color depth.

The final step, and what I feel to be the most important, was applying multiple coats of high gloss polyurethane. The key is to lightly sand between coats, which allows the second coat, third coat, and so on to properly adhere. We also added several poly coats to the live edge for preservation. My husband even considered doing an epoxy finish to the island top (which he still may do since he still hasn’t put the idea to rest), but I am pleased with how our DIY project turned out. Off to the next project……DIY style!

DIY Hickory Island Top Finished Product
DIY Hickory Island Top Finished Product

 

 

 

Posted in Food, Lifestyle

Easy NuWave Air Fryer Cheesecake Pockets

 

NuWave Air Fryer Cheesecake Pockets
NuWave Air Fryer Cheesecake Pockets

I LOVE cheesecake! However, I have to admit that I am a bit intimidated by the time it takes to prepare your “conventional” cheesecake. I have also yet to figure out how to use those fancy cheesecake pans that look good in theory, but for me I am clueless with those pans. So, what a better alternative to cheesecake than a recipe that is SUPER easy, and SUPER fast!?!? Not to mention, I get to use my favorite kitchen “appliance” to make them — my NuWave¬† Brio Air Fryer!

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I am sure this recipe will work in other air fryer brands, but after trying a competitor, I am a 100% hands down fan of the NuWave Brio version. Ready to start enjoying these scrumptious cheesecake pockets? Well, here is what you will need and step-by-step instructions for preparing them. Have fun and Happy non-Frying!

NuWave Brio Air Fryer 6 Quart
NuWave Brio Air Fryer 6 Quart

Ingredients/Items Needed for Easy NuWave Air Fryer Cheesecake Pockets

  • (1) Container 24 ounce Philadelphia Ready To Eat Cheesecake Filling
  • (1) Package (approx. 20 tortillas) Small Flour Tortillas — any brand, just be sure flour and not corn
  • 1/2 cup Cinnamon/Sugar for Topping
  • 1/4 cup melted Butter or Margarine — I prefer the taste of Margarine but either works fine
  • (1) NuWave Brio Air Fryer — or comparable, but after trying a leading competitor I find the NuWave Brio 6 qt. to be my favorite and offers more options
Small Flour Tortillas
Small Flour Tortillas

Preparing the Easy NuWave Air Fryer Cheesecake Pockets

  1. Preheat your NuWave Bio Air Fryer to 400 degrees.
  2. Warm your tortillas in the package for 30 seconds in the microwave. In all honesty, this makes the tortillas easy to fold and bend when wrapping your pockets.
  3. Lay one tortilla out on a flat surface and scoop about 2 tbsp of Cheesecake Filling in to the center of the tortillas.

    Scoop Cheesecake Filling into Center of Flour Tortilla
    Scoop Cheesecake Filling into Center of Flour Tortilla
  4. Fold the tortilla sides inward so that you are forming an envelope/pocket. First, by folding the left and right sides in, and then following by folding top and bottom in to overlap.
  5. Lay your folded pocket fold-side down in your Air Fryer basket. This will serve to keep your pockets together during the “frying” process (I find that I can fit 6 pockets comfortably in the basket in my 6 quart NuWave Brio).
  6. Fry at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Once fried, carefully remove the pockets with kitchen tongs and place on a plate.
  7. Brush your fried cheesecake pockets with melted butter and sprinkle/turn in your cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Finally, it is time to ENJOY your yummy cheesecake pockets (makes approx. 20 pockets)! These are great served warmed or chilled and even BETTER with a scoop of ice cream and your favorite chocolate or caramel sauce!

Yummy Air Fryer Cheesecake Pockets
Yummy Air Fryer Cheesecake Pockets

Aside from these cheesecake pockets being so easy to make and really tasty, one of the best parts is that the clean-up is even easier! Furthermore, the basket insert for the NuWave is dishwasher safe, and the bottom tray easily wipes clean and is ready for the next use (which I am not exaggerating when I say that is practically every day in my house).

Want to get a NuWave Brio Air Fryer for yourself or for someone who you know would love the healthy alternative to fried food? Click HERE for the 6-quart version (which is what I have, and it works perfectly for my larger family size of 7). On the contrary, if a smaller version is what you prefer, try the 3-quart version HERE.

Stay tuned for more delicious and easy air fryer recipes. Another great recipe that gives all the flavor punch without the mess is my “Easy to Make Caramel Apple Slices.” Be sure to check it out!

Pinterest Easy Air Fryer Cheesecake Pin
Pinterest Easy Air Fryer Cheesecake Pin