DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters

I tend to have bazillions of lists of crafts, projects, or recipes that I want to create. Out of those lists some things will be created and finished. Other projects won’t get that lucky. They will become half-finished projects, waiting to receive some love, so that they can come to life! Today’s DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters is one of those projects. I told myself this year, that I would push myself to finish some of the projects that have been left hanging for months.

Now that I have basically finished this project, I’m actually really excited to share it with you! Let me also point out that these DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters would make a super cute Valentine’s Day gift for your special someone, or any of your friends! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner after all! If you’re not really into V-day, that’s OK too. This would make a cute and inexpensive gift any time of the year! What else do you want!?

DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters

Two summers ago, we removed a pine tree from our front yard. It wasn’t a very healthy looking tree, and I felt that its shadow made our home even gloomier than it already was (and trust me, I love my sunshine!). Plus, the needles that it constantly shed had a high level of acidity, preventing anything from growing underneath it.  So we decided that it had to go.

Kevin climbed up a ladder and used a chain saw to cut it down. My job was to pull as hard as I could on a rope that had been tied to the tree. Oh, this was done to encourage the tree to fall in my general direction. Obviously we did it in a way so that it wasn’t supposed to fall on me. Or was that actually the plan? Kevin!?

The sad part was that I lost all the little friends that were living in that tree. The bark on the tree was so textured and bumpy, creating shapes that I imagined to look like faces. There was a cat face that was always staring at me while working on my lap top in the living room. Yeah, sometimes I am a little strange, and I’m OK with that. 

DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters

Speaking of being hit by trees, I do actually have a story of where I was barely spared. I used to work at a day care that was in the same building as the University that I attended. On this particular day we had taken the kiddos outside to play in the playground.

I was standing with my back leaned up against the building (this part of the building was a long narrow hallway, leading to the gym), when suddenly a tree branch came swinging over the roof and landed literally right in front of me! I was SO shocked, but luckily not hurt, since I had been standing right against the building.

The maintenance guys had been cutting off some large branches on the other side of the hallway, when I guess they lost control of where the branch was heading. They immediately came running our way though, to make sure that nobody was hurt.

DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters

OK, lets actually get to the point now. When we cut down the tree in our front yard, I had asked Kevin to cut a thick branch into thin discs for me. I knew I wanted to make either these DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters, or some kind of ornaments out of them. So I left them to dry in front of our house. They were resting here for a long time, along with some hopefully friendly spiders and their spider webs.

Eventually, when I thought they were dry enough, I took the nicest looking ones inside. Some of them had cracked or the bark was no longer intact. I later talked to a lady who is really good at this kind of wood work, and she said the trick to avoid cracking, is to dry the wood slowly. I would also recommend using a saw that actually cuts the wood smoothly. We just used a chain saw, which left the wood pretty jagged. So, if you want to know how to make these rustic wood coasters, continue reading mate!

DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters

DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters

You will need:

  • a thick branch (about 3 inches in diameter, or however large you want your coasters to be)
  • a chain saw or a hand saw
  • 60 grit sand paper
  • a pencil and an eraser
  • a wood burning kit (something like this)
  • a water-based, non-yellowing, satin clear wood finish (I got this kind, except an interior one)
  • obviously a mug filled with hot chocolate, tea, or coffee!!

DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters

Instructions:

  • Begin by sawing the branch into 1/4″-1/2″ discs (or desired thickness).
  • Allow the discs to dry slowly.
  • Sand the wood until you reach the desired smoothness. 
  • The pine tree wood was very porous (perhaps because it was cut with a chain saw?), so after sanding it I took some of the saw dust, and smoothed out the little holes with it, hoping that the sealer would hold it in (I avoided blowing away the dust).
  • Using a pencil, lightly write the words or design of your choice directly on the wood. 
  • When your wood burner is hot, using the instructions, slowly trace the outlined words.
  • Using the eraser, erase any pencil markings.
  • Finish off with four coats of the satin wood finish, following the instructions on the can. You could also opt for a glossy or semi-glossy finish, if you prefer more of a shine.

DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters

And that’s it! Your DIY Rustic Tree Branch Coasters are ready to be used! I have to admit my project isn’t FULLY done, as I still need to seal my coasters with the wood finish. I’m hoping the finish will seal in the loose saw dust that I filled the holes with. If not, they will still look great, just with a little more texture than I would have prefered. The reason why I didn’t finish, is because I wanted to post this project for you peeps today, and therefore didn’t have the required time to let it dry.

I hope you get creative the next time you find the perfect tree branch. Do you folks have any other tree branch craft ideas? I would love to hear from you! Enjoy your weekend!! 🙂

 

De Cuba, con amor

Hello my lovely readers! Today I will take a little bit of a break from our West Coast trip, and share some, or should I say A LOT of pictures from a recent trip to the beautiful Cuba. My mother-in-law, Helene, took us to Cuba for Christmas as a family (thank you so much!). Let me just say, I miss it so much already, and I would go back in a heart beat! Here are some pictures of our time spent in Cuba. But first, here is some Cuban music for you to listen to while you’re looking through the pictures. Enjoy!

Starfish Varadero Resort & Beach

We spent most of our time in Cuba at the resort relaxing, reading, soaking up the sun, riding the waves, eating, watching shows, dancing, sleeping… and repeat.

Cuba definitely has one of the most beautiful beaches that I’ve ever been to. The water is so clean with a vibrant aqua color, and the light colored sand is so soft. The setting sun always gave way to the ever soothing pastel colors. It was truly beautiful.  

We were really impressed with the evening shows. The dance performers were so incredibly gifted!

And food… well, fresh ripe papaya beats them all. I ate so much of it! Some other favorite foods of mine were the breaded fried fish, burgers, sea food paella, cookies, bread, and of course the piña coladas! We also enjoyed a special Christmas dinner, as well as a Cuban and Italian a la carte. 

Another highlight, coming from an animal lover, were the cats and dogs that we kept on seeing at the resort. They were clearly well socialized, as one of the cats jumped on Kevin’s lap, and the other one eventually joined in and got comfortable on my lap, as Kevin’s lap was already taken.

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My cousin (through marriage) Madeline designed and made this super comfy and cute dress for me just before leaving. Madeline is an amazing model, as well as a very gifted designer and seamstress. You can follow her on Instagram here, and see what she’s up to next. 🙂

Havana Cuba

We went on a one-day trip to Havana. Someone had recommended a Taxi driver that they knew to Helene ahead of time. Lisandro Hernandez and his driver Geyder ended up picking us up in a beautiful old car. I loved this experience so much! The smell of the car somehow reminded me of the smell of my grandparents’ old car. 

We stopped at the bridge of Bacunayagua, which is the highest bridge in Cuba (110m above the valley). What a beautiful stop! From there we continued on to the city of Havana. Lisandro and Geyder took us to some iconic places, such as the John Lennon Park, the Che Guevara Revolution Square, the National Capitol building, the Great Theater of Havana, El Floridita fish restaurant and cocktail bar, the Almacenes San José artisans’ market, and La Casa del Café store.

I was absolutely smitten with the old cars and old buildings, not to mention how colorful everything was! I could photograph in this city forever! 

By the way, if anyone is planning on going to Cuba and you need a taxi driver, I would highly, highly recommend Lisandro Hernandez and his team. It was a pleasure to spend the day with them. Not only did we get a ride in an epic car, they were also very informative, and fun to hang out with. I have his contact information if you wish to contact him in advance to make plans (comment below if you’re interested in more information). 

Bacunayagua Bridge (above)

John Lennon Park (above)

Che Guevara (above)

Revolution Square Cuba (above)

The National Capital building (above)

The Great Theater of Havana (above)

Ernest Hemingway eavesdropping on the customers at El Floridita fish restaurant and cocktail bar (above)

The Almacenes San José artisans’ market (above)

La Casa del Café (above)

Lisandro Hernandez and Geyder standing in front of our awesome ride (above)

Here’s another Cuban song for you to listen to:

Ecological Reserve in Varadero

A double decker bus comes by the resort every half hour. We got on board and toured the surrounding resorts and then went to Varadero’s Ecological Reserve. We enjoyed a short hike through the jungle. The jungle was very different from what I would have imagined. First of all, there are no dangerous animals in Cuba, even though it is in a tropical climate. Secondly, never did I expect to see cacti growing in the jungle. These were no average cacti, however. They were huge, and with age they seemed to lose their needles, and grow a thicker skin, like tree bark.

The rock was very porous at this location, meaning that you had to watch where you were walking, as some holes looked pretty deep.

We also saw huge termite nests bulging out of the trees, we found some snake skin that had been shed, and we saw so many air plants, growing in their natural habitat. But perhaps the coolest experience of all was the cave that we went into. The entrance was very low to the ground, so we had to crouch quite low in order to get in. Inside we met many cute bats hanging off the rocks. They were so tiny and cute, cuddling up to their buddies. I doubt they thought the same about us, as we were disturbing their sleep.

Varadero Town Centre

We very briefly went to the town of Varadero. We mainly went to the market, and explored the streets a little. I’m sure there are great restaurants to eat at, and other fun things to do here as well.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading along!! 🙂

 

Credits: The cute green dress (pictured further above) was made my Madeline

Photo credits: If I’m in the picture, it was taken either by Kevin or Melanie

Eggnog French Toast with Roasted Coconut and Almonds

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Hello my lovely readers! I hope everyone has had a fantastic weekend! I had fun working on a new recipe yesterday, and would love to share it with you! 

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Winnipeg has been having such a beautiful and mild winter. Like seriously it’s December and we’ve been having above 0 temperatures during the day, and a lot of the snow has melted. I’m definitely not complaining! 

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All the festive things have started up. Our Christmas tree is up, my students are playing Christmas music, people are sending their love through cards, there are pretty lights everywhere, I sense a spirit of generosity, our windows have different frozen patterns on them in the mornings, we have enjoyed walks through the sometimes soft and sometimes crunchy snow, Christmas concerts are happening, and… oh right! EGGNOG! We can’t forget about the delicious, creamy, and smooth eggnog! Which brings us back to the recipe I was going to tell you about! And don’t worry, it was approved by my taste tester (aka my husband). 

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In the past I found an eggnog cookie recipe on pinterest, which I really enjoyed, so I decided to try and make an eggnog french toast, just in time for your Christmas brunch! Of course you’ll be in your cozy pajamas, perhaps while listening to some Christmas music, or while watching your favorite Christmas movie with your loved ones! Right? Or maybe not. But seriously, what are some of your Christmas traditions? Please do share! I’ve been asking myself what kind of traditions I want my little family to continue or start. Do you plan for traditions? Do traditions evolve on their own? Any ideas or advice?

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This eggnog french toast is really simple to make. You’ll just need some whole-wheat sliced bread, eggs, some Christmas spices, eggnog, of course, coconut oil, almonds, shredded coconut, maple flavoured syrup, bananas, and coconut whipped-cream. 

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Begin by whisking 4 eggs, along with 1/3 cup of eggnog, and a pinch of each: salt, black ground pepper, and cinnamon. Next, melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a non-stick pan, heated on medium, and roast 5 tablespoons of sliced almonds, and 5 tablespoons of shredded coconut until golden brown. Let this mixture cool off. 

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While the above mixture is cooling, start making the french toast. Heat a large non-stick pan on medium heat. Add coconut oil as needed. Empty the egg mixture into a plate and dip the first slice of bread into the egg mixture, flipping it so that it soaks up some of the mixture on both sides. Then fry it in the pan until it’s golden brown on both sides, and the toast feels spongy and springs back slowly when pressed. Repeat this process with the rest of the bread. 

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Now all that’s left to do is slice up some bananas, get your coconut whipped-cream ready, warm up some maple syrup in a small pot (to which I decided to add a pinch of cinnamon, cloves, and all spice), and don’t forget your roasted almonds and coconut!

Time to assemble (if you can wait!) your brunch! You may try stacking in the following order: french toast, whipped-cream, french toast, bananas, whipped-cream, roasted almond-coconut mixture, and warm syrup. OK! Dig in already!! If you want to add MORE sweetness, definitely consider drinking some cold eggnog with it! 

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May you all experience God’s love, peace, and joy this Christmas season! Cheers!!! 🙂  -Erika

Eggnog French Toast with Roasted Coconut and Almonds
Serves 4
Delicious Christmas brunch!
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Ingredients
  1. 4 eggs
  2. 1/3 cup eggnog
  3. pinch of each: salt, pepper, cinnamon
  4. 7-8 slices of whole wheat bread
  5. 5 tbsp sliced almonds
  6. 5 tbsp shredded coconut
  7. 1 tsp coconut oil (and more as needed)
  8. 3 bananas
  9. Gay Lea Coconut Whipped Cream
  10. 2 cups maple-flavoured syrup
  11. A pinch of each: cinnamon, cloves, all spice
Instructions
  1. Begin by whisking 4 eggs, along with 1/3 cup of eggnog, and a pinch of each: salt, black ground pepper, and cinnamon.
  2. Next, melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a non-stick pan, heated on medium heat. Add 5 tablespoons of each, sliced almonds, and shredded coconut and roast, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Set mixture aside and allow to cool off.
  3. To make the eggnog french toast, heat a large non-stick pan on medium heat. Add coconut oil as needed. Empty the egg mixture into a plate, and dip a slice of bread into the mixture, flipping it so that it soaks up some of the liquids on both sides. Add to the pre-heated pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides, and the toast feels spongy and springs back slowly when pressed. Repeat this process with the rest of the bread.
  4. In a small pot, warm up the maple-flavoured syrup, and add a pinch of cinnamon, cloves, and all spice. While the syrup is warming up, cut the bananas into slices.
  5. Assemble in the following order: french toast, whipped-cream, french toast, sliced bananas, whipped-cream, roasted almond-coconut mixture, and warm syrup.
Sweet Blooming Roots http://www.sweetbloomingroots.com/

DIY Geometric Nail Design

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I’ve really been loving all the splashes of gold that are trending in both fashion and home decor. So, here’s an easy DIY geometric nails tutorial for you guys, with a little triangle of gold! 

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You can wear these nails any time of the year, cause who says you can’t!? 😉 But I think the colors would look particularly great for fall and winter.

Supplies:

  • Quick- Dry Base/Top Coat
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Flat Brush (I used the brush from this Nail Art Tool Kit)
  • Nail Art Striping Tape
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Purple Nail Polish (I used Orchid by Joe)
  • Black Nail Polish (I used Jet by Joe)
  • Gold Glitter Nail Polish (I used The True Gold by L’oreal) 

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Begin by applying a quick-dry base coat to protect your nails. Then apply two coats of purple nail polish. Let each layer dry before adding the next.

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When the purple layers are completely dry, use two strips of the Nail Art Striping Tape to create two small triangles, like shown in the above picture (you will need one longer, and one shorter piece of tape). Make sure the tape is evenly and tightly pressed against your nails. Trim the tape with a pair of scissors, making sure you leave some extra tape at the end (so you can easily pull it off with your tweezers later).

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You can now begin by painting the larger section black, staying within the lines of the tape. Do the same with the gold glitter (you might need many layers of the gold glitter to fill it in well).

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As soon as you’re done painting, remove the tape with tweezers. 

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Once the nail polish is completely dry, finish off with a quick-dry top coat. There you have your beautiful nails, with a splash of gold!

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Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to share this tutorial with your friends!