Homemade Raspberry Jam

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Summer is coming! We honestly could not be more excited. With summer comes berries and with berries come all our favorite berry recipes — ice cream (if you haven’t seen last week’s post on homemade blackberry vanilla bean ice cream, definitely check it out), pies, and of course, berry jam! This week, we decided to share our favorite homemade raspberry jam recipe with you all. From morning breakfasts with toast, brunch with croissants and brie, or tea with scones, this jam is a staple item in our diets.

Whether you want to add a little something extra to your meals at home or you need the perfect summer gift for your friends, this jam is your answer. It’s surprisingly easy to make your own jams at home and delightfully better than anything you can buy at your local grocery store – guaranteed!


Ingredients/Materials:

  • 1 lb raspberries
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle
  • Candy thermometer
  • 5 8oz. mason jars
  • Twine
  • Labels

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Wash your berries well before you begin.

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Combine sugar, raspberries, and lemon juice into a large saucepan over high heat.

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Stir continuously until mixture is brought to a boil.

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Insert a candy thermometer and keep stirring and skimming foam from the surface (as needed) until the mixture reaches 221˚F.

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To test if the mixture is ready the be jarred, scoop a small amount into a bowl and place into the freezer for 3 minutes. If the jam has a gelatinous consistency when taken out, you’re ready to proceed.

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Using a ladle, transfer the jam from the saucepan into the mason jars. Seal and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours for best results. If you are gifting the jam and want to add an extra touch, create labels and attach to the jar with twine. Enjoy!

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** Note: in the interest of time, we did not go through the canning process. This process is not necessary unless you plan on storing the jam over a period of months.**

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Happy jamming!

– Kirby and Michelle

 

 

 

Homemade Blackberry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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Alas! Summer is near and our favorite foods are once again returning to our daily lives (watermelon, gazpacho, peach cobbler, rosé anyone??). A few weeks ago when the sun was out and early signs of summer were wafting throughout the air, we caught the ice cream bug. A little too chilly for sorbet, but warm enough to daydream of tropical fruit and juicy, plump berries, we settled on this recipe. This homemade vanilla bean ice cream with fresh blackberry swirled throughout is such a special treat and one that really makes it feel like summer is just around the corner.


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 small container of blackberries
  • 1 lemon

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Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large mixing bowl with water and ice, then set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, half & half, and 2/3 cups of sugar. Split the vanilla beans in half and carefully scrape away the seeds into the pan. Simmer over medium heat for approximately 12 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved.

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While that simmers, whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until slightly frothy.

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Remove the cream mixture from the heat and slowly pour 1 cup of it into the egg mixture, continuously whisking until smooth. Pour the egg/cream mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes, constantly stirring, until you have a creamy custard.

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Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it into a fine sieve, using a spoon to press it through.

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Place the bowl of strained custard into the ice bath and allow to chill until completely cool.

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Meanwhile, place the blackberries into a small sauce pan, along with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Cook on medium heat, occasionally stirring, for about 15 minutes, until the berries have broken down and the sugar is dissolved. Don’t be afraid to mash the berries as they cook.

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The result should be a thick, ruby red sauce filled with seeds.

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Press the sauce through a sieve to remove those pesky seeds.

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When the vanilla custard has cooled, pour it into the ice cream maker (or any tupperware container if your don’t have one). Turn the mixer on and allow your ice cream to freeze until it is the consistency of soft serve. Then gently pour your blackberry sauce into the ice cream, folding it a few times. Be careful not to overfold or you will lose the pretty red swirls and it will just turn pink.

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Place the ice cream in the freezer and continue to chill until it hardens to your desired consistency. Then serve with fresh blackberries!

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Happy one month until summer!

-Kirby and Michelle

My Mom’s Deviled Eggs Recipe

Deviled eggs LA (20 of 22)Deviled eggs were one of those foods that as a kid, I decided I hated (despite trying them), and very adamantly stuck to that decision. I thought they were so gross, and I never understood why everyone flocked to them at family gatherings, gobbling down one after the other. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was working in a restaurant and I had to taste everything on the menu, that I tried my first deviled egg. And I fell in love. Silly child me.

Although a bit fiddly, they are so simple to make, and everyone somehow has their own version of the recipe. In my family, my mom makes the most amazing deviled eggs and everyone knows it. They are a bit tangier and spicier than most – just the way I like them. A few weeks ago my boyfriend Alex and I (and our dog Lola) drove to Santa Fe to visit my mom. We had the most incredible visit filled with delicious food, cozy movie nights, and board games on the patio by the fire. It was perfect. I took advantage of the trip to get her famous deviled eggs recipe to share with you all. They go great with margaritas 😉

Happy belated Mother’s Day to my incredible mother Jody, the strongest, most inspiring woman I know.

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Ingredients: (yields 24 deviled eggs)

  • A dozen eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons mayonaise
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard or dijon mustard
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sieve
  • Piping bag or plastic ziplock bag
  • Star shaped piping tip

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Fill medium pot half way with water and bring to a boil. While the water heats, prepare an ice bath in a casserole dish or large bowl. Gently place the eggs into the boiling water and allow to cook for 11 minutes. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon

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Place the cooked eggs into the ice bath and leave them there until they are completely cool.

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Gently peel away the shells, careful not to peel away and of the egg whites. Discard the shells and rinse the peeled eggs so that no remaining shell bits are stuck to the outside.

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Cut each egg in half.

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Carefully pop the yolks out of the egg whites and place them in their own bowls.

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Mix all of the ingredients except the salt, pepper and hot sauce in with the yolks. Throughly mash with a fork to get rid of any lumps. Spoon the mixture into a sieve. Using the back of a spoon or your clean hands, press the yolk mixture into the sieve and into a bowl beneath it. This will give you a perfectly creamy consistency. And yes, I now realize I need to buy a new sieve.

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The mixture should be smooth and lump-free. Now you can add the salt, pepper and hot sauce to your liking. You can adjust the recipe at this point to however you like it. If you prefer it a little tangier, add more vinegar and mustard. If you want it creamier, add butter or mayo.

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Once the filling is exactly how you like it, spoon it into a piping bag or plastic ziplock fitted with a star shaped tip. Pipe the eggs full of mixture. Don’t be afraid of using too much because you won’t run out – remember you’ve added a bunch of stuff to the yolks!

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Finish by garnishing with paprika and/or dill.

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Serve with cornichons on the side. Margaritas are optional – but highly recommended.

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Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

-Kirby

Pressed Flower Bookmarks

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My mom, sister, and I have totally been obsessing over the countless girl thrillers hitting the stands over the past couple years. Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10 — you name the book, chances are we’ve not only read it, but devoured and thoroughly discussed it. In a way, these books have been something for us all to bond over. With us all living in different cities, doing our own things, we always make time to call each other and discuss the characters and crazy plot twists in our “book of the month”.

I’d been brainstorming for the perfect Mother’s Day gift for months when it hit me, pressed flower bookmarks! While we are all pretty avid readers, we struggle with the same problem of finding something to mark our place after a good reading session — I guess you could say the apples don’t fall far from the tree. 😉 While napkins and old receipts do the trick, there is something about having a handmade bookmark that makes the experience that much more special.

These pressed flower bookmarks are so cute and personal, and the perfect gift for the resident bookworm in your life. Even more, it’ll go great with our newest book of choice, Paula Hawkin’s (author of Girl on the Train) newest thriller, Into the Water!!


Materials:

  • Flowers
  • Parchment paper
  • Heavy books
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Twine
  • Iron and ironing board (optional step)
  • Lamination pouches (optional step)

This past weekend, I was home in Half Moon Bay visiting my parents. I found these beautiful flowers along the coast one day while taking my dog, Noodles, for a walk — perfect for the pressed flower bookmarks I had been imagining. I went for small, vibrant flowers that would easily mount onto small, bookmark-sized paper, but feel free to go with whatever flowers you desire.

Next, I lined a page of a book with parchment paper and carefully placed the flowers inside. It’s important to make sure to arrange the flower petals carefully as they will be permanently frozen in that position. Close the book shut firmly, and place under the weight of several books or other heavy objects. Ideally, you will leave the flowers for seven to fourteen days to see the best results.

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However, not all of us have the time required to completely remove the moisture from the flowers. If you don’t have that time, don’t fret! There is still a way to make this craft work for you. Rather than placing the flowers and parchment paper inside a book, place them underneath an iron instead. Hold the iron (silk/light settings) in place for fifteen seconds before removing and letting cool for the same amount of time. Repeat this process until the flowers are completely dried out, but be careful not to let them burn!

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Once the flowers are completely dried, I arranged them onto the bookmark-sized paper. Secure the flowers to the paper with glue. I found that because the flowers are so small and delicate, it was easier to tack the flowers down with glue and a toothpick. A little bit of glue really goes a long way and it’s very easy to overdo it.

FlowerBookmarks (7 of 17)FlowerBookmarks (8 of 17)FlowerBookmarks (9 of 17)The next step is completely optional, but I decided to laminate the bookmark. This step will protect the flowers from any wear-and-tear long-term, but it is by no means is necessary!! Once the bookmark is to your liking — laminated or not — punch a hole at the top of the paper. String twine through the hole and tie the ends together to hold. I found that this addition nicely complemented the rustic charm of the presse.

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And just like that, your pressed flower bookmarks are finished and ready to use!

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom — I love you!!

– Michelle

Homemade Sugar Cube Tins

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Is there any time in a day more important than coffee time? When we’re moaning and groaning at 6:30 a.m., hair in a nest on our heads, drool still dried onto our faces, the only thing that gets us out of our warm beds is the comfort of the glorious coffee maker.

This craft makes that coffee time a little bit more special (it’s true, that is possible!). We made our own sugar cubes and decorated little tin cans to put them in. It is pretty enough to set out on the counter and we don’t know why but for some reason sugar is much more exciting when it comes in tiny cubes! We made one batch plain and one with cinnamon and cocoa. In the future we’ll try out some new ideas such as raw sugar or adding dried mint leaves for tea.


Materials

  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon and cocoa (optional)
  • Sugar cube molds

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Succulent Pots

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In case you couldn’t tell from some of our previous posts, we’ve been really into succulents lately. It seems like over the past year succulents have become all the rage in Los Angeles, and we can definitely see why! While very cute and trendy, their low-maintenance tending requirements are perfectly suited our busy schedules.

The other weekend some of my roommates went to the Brentwood Farmer’s Market, something I definitely recommend checking out if you have the chance to go. From locally grown fruits and vegetables to freshly baked artisanal breads to mini succulents, farmer’s markets are always a great way to spend your Sunday (especially when you find cool new ways to spruce up the apartment)! When Maddy came walking through the door — succulents in hand — I immediately jumped at the opportunity to turn the pot-less plants into our newest craft on the blog.

This craft is one of my new favorites in the effortless way it enhances the ambience of the room. These succulent pots are a very affordable way to express your creativity and add a little character to your desk, coffee table, etc. Read on for more!


Materials:

  • Succulents
  • Mini terra cotta plant pots (we got ours here)
  • White acrylic paint
  • Gold leaf pen (we love this one here)
  • Paintbrush

After carefully peeling off price stickers from the pots (we soaked them in hot water with soap for a few hours to ease the process), generously apply white paint directly onto the terra cotta. Let dry and touch up as needed.

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Next, we took out our gold-leaf pen and doodled away. You can decorate each pot the same way or create a new design for each one — this is the part of the craft where you can really let out your inner-creativity!Plants (12 of 27)Plants (16 of 27)

Finally, we carefully potted our succulents into their new homes! Plants (27 of 27)Plants (25 of 27)

Happy potting!

– Michelle

Decorative Letters

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Throughout our college careers (as is the norm for most college students), we’ve constantly been on the move — in and out of dorms, sorority houses, apartments. Each new school year comes with a new place and new people to call home. While definitely exciting as each place will inevitably bring new memories with our friends at school, it makes it a little harder to create that “home away from home” feeling.

When we moved into Towngirls (the 4-girl room in our sorority) together sophomore year, we decided to make a little housewarming gift for our roommates to brighten up the standard white walls and grey carpets of our room and make the place feel a bit more lived-in. Since then, it has been a tradition to begin each school year with this housewarming gift for our new roommates.

This craft is unbelievably easy to make (you’ll be surprised) and can be tailored to each person’s favorite color, pattern, etc. These letters make the perfect housewarming, birthday, holiday gift for friends and family — really, it’s great for any occasion!


Materials:

  • Cardboard letters (we got ours on Amazon, here)
  • Acrylic paint/paintbrush (you can also use spray paint)
  • Decorative paper (we got ours at the Paper Source, here)
  • Modge podge
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

After carefully peeling off all the price stickers from the cardboard (you want to begin with as smooth a surface as possible), we began to paint the letters completely. Two layers ensured a rich paint color. Let dry completely before moving on!

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Next, we flipped the letter upside-down and traced onto the matching decorative paper with a pencil. It’s really important to make sure you are tracing the letter backwards onto the back side of the paper — we don’t want to pull a Karen from Mean Girls!!

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Then, carefully cut out with scissors. Make sure to stay as close to the pencil line as possible so that the paper lines up with the letter so there is no excess or shortage.

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Finally, we painted Modge podge onto the front side of the letter so we could attach the decorative paper. Carefully lay the paper onto the Modge podged surface so that there are no wrinkles. Press down firmly to secure.

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Now you’re ready to keep ’em, gift ’em, hang ’em on a wall – whatever your heart desires!

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Happy Modge Podge-ing!

– Kirby and Michelle

Coconut Macaroon Birds’ Nests

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We hope everyone has an amazing Easter this upcoming Sunday! We will both be spending it the best way possible, with family. This is one holiday that, although it was a blast as a kid (who doesn’t love a good Easter egg hunt?), it is still just as special as an adult. Maybe it’s the fact that the weather is nice, family and friends are around, or that it always is on a Sunday, but neither of us can remember having a bad Easter. Plus, the Easter candy selection might be the best of all the holidays. Hard to compete with that.

This past week we tested out some coconut macaroons as a sweet treat to contribute to our Easter parties. Instead of traditional coconut mounds, we shaped them into nests that perfectly fit three little cadbury eggs in the center. The result is an adorable Easter themed treat that tastes like a dream.


Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (1 14 oz bag)
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A bag of cadbury mini eggs

Preheat the oven to 375º F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In our test run, the cookies stuck a little bit so next time we will grease the paper as well just to be careful. Mix together the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla until well combined.

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In a separate bowl, use and electric mixer to whisk the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks.

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Carefully fold the egg white mixture into the coconut mixture.

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Use a spoon to form a heaping mound of mixture onto the baking sheet.

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Then use your fingers to press down in the center to create a “nest” shape. You might want to test the size of it with three eggs to make sure that they will fit. Repeat this until you have used all of your mixture.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges are golden. Then allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, fill them with mini cadbury eggs and you are done!

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Lola thought they were pretty tasty, too hehe.

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Happy Easter!

-Michelle and Kirby

Flower Tea Cookies

_MG_7094Alas, Spring has sprung! There are daffodils beaming in the garden, birds and squirrels scampering about, driving Lola (my cocker spaniel) mad, and my favorite summer wardrobe staples creeping back into my closet. However, I often find myself confused with the weather this time of year. I think that I forget Spring is not Summer. I expect the sun to be full blast and for ice cream to be present every evening. Even here in LA, it is still a little bit chilly, which I feel guilty saying because I know that if California isn’t hot right now, the East Coast much be worse. In fact, my mom called the other day from Santa Fe, NM where it was snowing. Yikes.

So, long story short, these sugar cookies are a great transition to Spring. They are bright and floral, but can be enjoyed with a nice hot cup of tea. With a little nook cut into them, they rest effortlessly on the side of a coffee cup. You can make them with any shape, really, and I look forward to making a festive batch in the distant holiday season when hot cocoa comes back into my life.

P.S. Michelle and I just got home from Thailand! It was the most incredible adventure and I fell in love with Asia. We’re already daydreaming about how to go back. Stay tuned for content about our trip and our favorite crafts that we stumbled across in the colorful, vibrant markets.


Materials

  • Sugar cookie dough and royal icing (recipe here)
  • Food coloring (I used purple and orange)
  • Plastic ziplock baggies or piping bags
  • A round glass (or circle cookie cutter)
  • A knife

Follow the recipe on my older post to make your sugar cookie dough. Roll out your dough onto a floured surface until it is approximately 1/4 in thick. In order to save money I used a glass to cut the round shapes rather than buying a new cookie cutter. Continue rolling and cutting until you have no dough left.

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Using a knife, carefully cut a slanted rectangle out of your cookie. For this step it’s probably best to just follow my picture because I realize “slanted rectangle” might not make any sense.

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Place the cookies onto a greased baking sheet and bake in a 400º F oven for 8 – 10 minutes, until barely golden brown on the edges.

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While the cookies are cooling, make your royal icing. Divide the icing into 2/3 and 1/3. Mix the color that you would like for the petals  into the large half and the color for the flower centers into the small half. I used purple for the petals and orange for the centers. Divide the large half of icing (in my case, the purple) in half and mix a tiny bit of water into one of the halves in order to water it down.

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Spoon all three batches of colored icing into separate ziplock baggies or piping bags. Cut a small hole in the corners.

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Using the thicker purple icing, pipe the outline of the flower petals. Then allow to harden for about ten minutes.

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Next, fill the outlines in with the runnier purple icing. Fill it as much as you can without it spilling over the edge.

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Finally, pipe the orange icing into little dots in the center of each flower. Allow to dry and serve!

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Happy Spring!

-Kirby

Hedgehog Match Holder

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We love candles – who doesn’t? There is at least one scented candle in every room, and that number continues to grow every time we step foot in Anthropologie (anyone have any good self-control tips??). One idea we’ve been obsessed with lately is placing a cute ceramic container full of matches next to your candles, rather than hiding them away in a small cardboard box. We began hunting online for the perfect container and we came across this adorable miniature hedgehog flower pot.

Rather than use it as a planter, we opted to fill it with matches so that we can have them on display next to our candles at all times. We even glued the striking strip to the back so we can light the matches on it, too! The funniest part is this little hedgehog now has the best pink hair-do.


Materials:


Because this little hedgehog is meant to be a planter, he cleverly has a hole on the bottom so that water can drain out. This hole isn’t so clever though when you’re trying to use it to hold your matches. We placed a paper towel inside to block the hole and prop up the matches since they were too short for the container.

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Cut off one of the striking strips from a box of matches.

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Carefully (yes carefully… fingers were accidentally glued together at this stage!) glue the strip to the back of the pot.

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If your matches are attached to the box that they came in like ours were, cut them out.

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Neatly arrange them in the pot, starting from the inside out. They can be a bit tricky to manipulate but as it gets fuller, they get easier to handle.

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And that’s it! So simple, but so cute. We guarantee you’ll get a few “awww”s out of it.

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