Tag Archives: gift giving

Scented Waxed Pine Cones

Contributed By Pamela Roller

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, consider making scented waxed pine cones to use with your kindling to start your fires. When burned, the cones send a delightful scent throughout the room. Create for your personal use or give as a lovely gift.

Gather together:
–Pine cones—size doesn’t matter as long as they can be totally immersed in the melted wax. The usual size is three to five inches.
–Three or four bars of paraffin wax (available at craft stores) – see the notes at the end of this article about the use of paraffin wax.
–A double boiler (or an empty metal coffee can large enough to dip the pine cones in
–Wax candle coloring agent (available at craft stores)
–Essential oil of choice. Be sure you are buying a genuine essential oil or you won’t have much scent.
–Waxed paper

1. Melt wax in the double boiler or empty metal coffee can placed in a pan of simmering water on LOW heat (the can is preferable because you can just throw it in the recycle bin when you’re done and the wax has cooled).
2. Add the wax candle coloring agent until you get the color you like.
3. Add one or more droppers of desired essential oil until the scent is to your liking.
4. Using tongs, dip each pine cone into the wax to coat. Lift the cone and allow it to drip off excess. Place upright on waxed paper and allow to dry. Drying completely will help the next coat stick to it.
5. Dip repeatedly, drying between coats, until you are satisfied with the thickness (usually three or four coats will suffice). Too many coats will make the pine cone lose its detail and it may end up looking like a waxed lump, so use your judgment on thickness.
6. When completely dry, place the cones in a basket by the hearth or give as a gift.

Notes and hints:
Wax must remain completely melted during the dipping process or it will cause a dull, lumpy finish on the cones.
Leftover wax may be reused—just cover the can with a lid or foil when cool.
Paraffin wax is flammable. Keep the heat low, check the simmering water often, and don’t allow wax to drip onto the burner. In case of fire, turn off the heat and then place a wet, wrung-out cloth over the wax container. DO NOT throw water on the burning wax.
When using the cones in the fireplace, place a screen in front of the fire.

Suggested colors and scents:
Red wax with cinnamon oil, clove, or cranberry
Green with oil of balsam
White with vanilla oil
Pink with rose oil

©Pamela Roller

Easy Liqueurs for Gift Giving

Contributed by Pamela Roller

For a lovely homemade gift, consider giving a liqueur or cordial. Below are recipes for various liqueurs. Click here for cordial recipes. At the end I’ve listed hints for packaging ideas.

To sterilize glass bottles, wash in warm soapy water and then dip in water mixed with a little bleach. Rinse thoroughly.
Scotch Liqueur (Make one to two weeks ahead)
2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. anise extract
1 pt. Scotch

Heat water and syrup to boiling in medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and cook until mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour syrup into a sterilized quart-sized bottle. Add anise and Scotch. Swirl gently and place a tight fitting lid on it. Allow mixture to age in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks. Makes 32 ounces.

Galliano Liqueur (Make two weeks ahead)
2 cup sugar 1 cup water
¼ cup anise extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 drops yellow food coloring
1 fifth vodka

Heat water and syrup to boiling in medium heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and cook until mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pour syrup into a sterilized quart-sized bottle. Add anise extract, vanilla and food coloring. Swirl gently and then add the vodka. Allow mixture to age for two weeks. Makes 32 ounces.

Crème de Menthe (Make ten days ahead)
4 tbs. fresh mint leaves
1 fifth vodka
4 cup sugar
2 cup water
10 drops peppermint oil
2-3 drops green food coloring (optional)

Crush mint leaves in a mortar and pestle. Place in a glass jar and pour vodka over them. Cover and let sit for ten days. Strain, discard mint. Heat the water and sugar mixture on low heat in medium heavy saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool. Add syrup to the mint-flavored vodka; add peppermint oil and food coloring; stir. If liqueur is not clear, filter a second time. Keeps for one year. Makes 48 ounces.

Chocolate Liqueur (From Busy Cooks at About.com)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. chocolate extract
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup vodka
Combine sugar and water in medium heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in chocolate extract, vanilla and vodka. Pour into a sterilized glass bottle with tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dry place. This can be used as a substitute for Crème De Cacao. Makes 1 pint.

Packaging ideas: Include liqueur glasses in the gift package.· Packaging depends on the color and type of liqueur. Carefully arrange glasses with the bottle in a basket or flat box surrounded by fresh fruit and color-coordinated tissue or other filler. Tie with ribbon. Green and gold packaging works well with Crème de Menthe, as does either silver or gold with the chocolate liqueur. Tiny flowers such as dried baby’s breath complete the ensemble.

©Pamela Roller http://www.pamelaroller.com/