Make Your Christmas Tree Smell Amazing

One of the things people love most about a fresh Christmas tree or wreath is the amazing scent.  We don’t have a fresh tree or wreath so far this year, but I do happen to have a bottle of Rocky Mountain Oils Spruce oil so I just put about ten drops of the oil all along this little pine cone and nestled it among the branches of the tree.  I don’t recommend placing essential oils directly ON your artificial tree branches, as they might melt your needles.   Pine or fir oil would be wonderful, but I don’t have those on hand so spruce will have to do.

Right now I am diffusing 3 drops of the Spruce oil and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract– yes, just the regular real vanilla baking extract I get in a big bottle from Sam’s Club.  (Disclaimer–don’t do this if you are worried about voiding your diffuser warranty.)  Mine is long expired, so I walk on the wild side.

I figure I will need to refresh the pine cone every few days to keep it smelling amazing.

Do you have any tips on making your tree smell “real”?


Little Christmas Village

Years ago, my brother-in-law and his wife gifted us a little ceramic Texaco station for Christmas.  They gave us two more over the years, and since you can’t have a village composed solely of filling stations, I had to get more little houses.   I added one or two little buildings each year until they outgrew my display space.

Here’s how I set up a very simple village display on a buffet in our living room.  One tip for a nicer display is varying the heights on your houses.  You can use anything underneath, but I use the foam packing boxes that the houses are stored in.  They are white and sturdy.  I have twelve buildings so I put six foam inserts on the back of the buffet.

Then I set all the houses in place on the buffet.  They all have light bulbs that go inside so I have to get the bulbs and cords arranged.  I put the houses on the floor in order, then lay out the cords on the buffet with bulbs in place.  If you have at least five houses, I highly recommend a multi bulb string so you don’t have so many cords to plug in.  I have two 5 bulb strings and use a 2 bulb string to get the last couple of houses.  I fiddle around with this until it makes sense.  Tip:  check your bulbs to make sure they all work at this point.  These generally take a 4 watt bulb.  I use a power strip to light the village because I need at least three outlets and you can easily switch the whole village on and off.  I store it with the village so there is no hunting it down every Christmas.

Christmas villages must sit on a blanket of snow (it helps hide the cords!), so I use a length of cotton batting.  You can find these with the Christmas decorations or get some from the fabric or craft store.  There are different thicknesses available.  The one I have now is on the thin side but it works.  I would love to create a Styrofoam village base at some point, but this is not the year for that project.

Once the cords and bulbs are in place, I drape the “snow” over them.  At this point I used scissors to cut little slits so the bulbs will fit through them and carefully worked the bulbs through the “snow”.

Next I placed the houses in their spots, putting the light bulbs in the houses as I go.  Some fit through the bottom and some go through the back.

Once they are in place, I add little goodies like figurines, trees, and firewood.  I made a little pond from an old locker mirror with some cotton around the edges.  The tiny “logs” are maple branches I cut up with pruners.

All done!

Here are a few close ups:



O Christmas Tree


My sweet husband brought all the Christmas boxes upstairs for me AND put the tree together before he had to head out on a business trip, so I was able to get the tree decorated and set up the Christmas village, etc.  Now the house is mostly done inside.

Last year we went to Sam’s before Thanksgiving and took a little detour down the Christmas decor aisle…just to see what they had.  I found some LED lights that (wait for it)—change from warm white to multi-colored!!!  Of course we had to snatch some up to put on the tree!

I personally like warm white lights on a tree.  The men who live here all prefer colored lights though, so a few years back we got some colored LEDs.  Because I love my family.  I was never really in love with these lights—anybody else get a weird “Ahhh, my eyes, my eyes, those blue lights!” thing from LEDs?  Maybe it’s just me.  Anyway, finding these lights that SWITCH BACK AND FORTH and also have a twinkle setting for each colorway, and don’t blind me with the blue bulbs…was like. Christmas. in. October.  I can have my simple white lights, they can have the festive colored lights.  Win-Win!

My clever younger son decided on a system of even/odd with white on even days and colors on odd days.  He got up every morning and switched them over.  Not happening this year, he is a real live teenager now that he’s sixteen, and he prefers to sleep in.

Our tree is old.  Many years old.  But it gets the job done and I think when it starts looking super tatty I might try a DIY flocking thing on it to get a few more years out of it.  As I gaze at it from my spot at the dining room table, I notice that it is listing ever so slightly to port.  Let’s assume that makes it more realistic.

I don’t know if these particular lights are available anymore.  I looked at Sam’s Club online and did not find them.  I haven’t been to stores, but with all the places selling Christmas lights, there’s a good chance something similar can be found if you like the option of switching back and forth.

When installing these lights, I go from the bottom up and drape the string in and out on each branch.  More or less.  I try to keep all the little control boxes in a similar general area so they can be found easily for switching back and forth.  There are six strings on the tree, so six little boxes are all in a cluster on the back left side of the tree.  Five are always easy to find, the sixth is a struggle.


The topper is a big paper snowflake that I made because I haven’t found what I really want to top the tree yet.  Last year was a big old shiny gold bow with long streamers, but I just wasn’t feeling it this year.  The search is on for the perfect tree topper.  I might have to make one…


Coming soon, putting up the Christmas village and other Christmas-y things inside and outside…and a tutorial on the little felt snowmen on my tree.

Which lights do you prefer on your tree?


Unique Gift Ideas


Photo courtesy of via Flicker CC BY


Tired of shopping at the standard retail establishments for your Christmas gifts?  Consider supporting small business owners instead!  I will feature some of these entrepreneurs from time to time here at HoI, and my first one is Julie Siess.

Julie is the mother of two adorable girls, married to a wonderful husband, with a very energetic dog named Danny.  She lives in Missouri but can ship to you.

Julie runs two businesses aside from her day job.  The first, Absolutely Brilliant Jewelry, has stunning bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.  Her gallery is on Facebook on the page Absolutely Brilliant Jewelry.  Here’s the link to the page:   Right now she has a Christmas special on some of her pieces, silver plated earrings are $5 each or 2 for $10.

Swarovski Woven Bracelet in a teal blue, sized medium, with Tierra Cast toggle clasp $35
Picture Jasper and Swarovski Crystal necklace $60
Swarovski Crystal earrings on sterling silver $20

As you can see, these are intricately crafted and are made of high-quality materials.

Below are a few more examples of her work…my December favorites are the little crystal Christmas trees.


This is just a tiny sample of the things she makes, go take a look at her FB page to see more.

Julie’s other business is Mary Kay.  She is running a personal Christmas special of fuzzy socks (black, gray, hot pink, purple, orange, turquoise and lime green socks available) and Mint Bliss lotion…gift wrapped for $15.  She will ship for an additional $5, but if your purchase is over $100, shipping is free!  Mary Kay orders over $100 will get a 15% discount.

To get these deals you need to phone her at (314) 398-5002 or email .  It’s not available on her website, which is here, if you need other Mary Kay goodies: 

Happy unique shopping!  I have to go light up my tree.

Time to Decorate for Christmas…



Wow y’all.  It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving.  In the past 8 days, I have cooked THREE turkeys for three different Thanksgiving events (one for church, two for family) and so to say I am turkey-ed out would be an understatement.  This year I did finally pop for a shiny red electric roaster and was not disappointed.  It was great, my oven was free, and it cleaned up easily.  I also learned a valuable lesson: do not try to use an oven bag inside an electric roaster.

Today the temperature here is 72 degrees with a 22 mph south wind.  I just stuffed all my fall decorations back in the basement and am trying to work up the energy to shove the Christmas boxes up the stairs.

I have found that no matter how reluctant I am to get the Christmas decor up, I ALWAYS feel much better/relaxed/festive/whathaveyou once they are in place.   Psychoanalysts say people who put up that tree early are happier than those who do not (tap into that inner child!), and there is an actual study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology that shows people who put up outdoor decorations are perceived as more friendly and approachable.

Whatever, I need to get it done!

Last years Village setup



Well, here goes…

Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma looking stunning with fall color this year.


I am starting this blog to share recipes, DIY and craft projects, tips, travel stories, photographs, and whatever else happens to sound good at the time.


The old barn at my mother-in-law’s farm



Double Knockout rose in November



A glorious Oklahoma sunset