The Most A-Maze-ing Thing Ever: Roasted Pinecones!
As I headed out for a run in my neighborhood Thanksgiving weekend (needed it!), I noticed that the fall season, ornamental kale at the base of my boxwood planters was dying.
So I went to my favorite floral supplier -- Mother Nature -- to find their winter replacement.
I made a bee-line to my local pine tree, where I picked up a handful of pinecones. Spied a few more and soon my arms were full. So I put them all down, took off my jacket, loaded it with even more pinecones, tied it up like a package and headed home with my treasure.
Back at the house, I cleaned out the kale and hardy ivy under the boxwoods, happily replacing them with the freshly harvested pinecones.
Of course I could have used some of the pinecones in the four large Tupperware bins in the garage, gathered in years past. What can I say? They're beautiful, they're on the ground, they're from nature and they're free! My favorite. You should see my rock collection.
That done, my hands, arms, jacket and pants were sticky with resin. I threw the clothes in the wash, then went looking for the Goo Gone to clean off my hands and arms (better than the Phelps naptha my mother used to use for this!).
Problem was, the remaining pinecones were still sticky and I wanted to use them on holiday wreaths and other decor for inside. I had to find a way to get rid of the sap!
So I dumped them in a bucket of water for safe keeping and Googled it. Several sites recommended baking them (oops!), so after two days of soaking, I drained and shook them off, then spread them out on cookie sheets.
I started with the oven at 200 degrees. Nothing. Upped it to 300, a little better. Finally increased it to 350 and after 20 minutes they started opening up. The sap melted like a glaze and the pinecones themselves turned a dark, walnut-y brown. I think they were so full of water that they "roasted" evenly.
Once cooled, they had a shiny, rich patina -- and the sticky was gone! The sap had crystallized and I had created a thing of beauty!
To illustrate what a difference the process makes, in the photo below you'll see a year-old pinecone from the same tree (rescued from the garage bin) with a sort of Swedish white-wash look, a fresh one from this year that hasn't been roasted and the shiny, toasted version that looks French polished. Ha! My college study of historical architecture and design pays off again!
I had to bring them in to Maze and share my discovery. Look what I found!
So far we've put them on wreaths, wrapped teeny, tiny gold ribbon around them to create ornaments and simply put bowls of them out for display. I can't help but touch them! Next project: an entire wreath made out of these beauties. They almost look edible.
Meanwhile, back at the house, my front porch is now fully decked out for the Christmas holidays.
I put the pheasant feather and magnolia leaf (fronts green/backs tan suede) wreaths up for Thanksgiving but I thought they looked great with the Christmas colors. The magic of decorating with natural elements; they all work together! The reindeer (covered in pinecone "petals") are a nod to the countless deer roaming our neighborhood.
For the big planters, I love to mix different types of evergreen boughs, red dogwood twigs, pinecones (surprise!) and winter berry.
Even a touch of snow from our first dusting this year!
Sometimes it's the little things that bring the greatest joy. Here's hoping you find lots of little -- and big -- things to celebrate this season.
Wishing you all the best for the holidays!