Erin Fox explains how to get inventive this winter
With the winter chill creeping up this month, a blazing fire is a warm welcome to the cold evenings. Pine cones are brilliant for getting a fire started; they smell great and make a pleasant crackling noise when burning. They also make interesting decorations as there are so many ways you can play with them. Pine cones are free for picking so get out into the forest and collect as many as you can before they become hidden by the fallen leaves.
To keep your bedroom clean and fresh, you can make your own air freshener. Use essential oils or some ground spices for this. Pop a few pine cones into a zip lock plastic bag. Add a few drops of scented oil of your choice, seal the bag and then leave overnight. The next day, shake the pine cones out into a basket or glass jar and place in your room. You can make this air freshener all year round; alternate the scents throughout the seasons. Use lemony scents for spring, lavender for summer, eucalyptus oil to help a stuffy nose at night time during the harsh winter months, and cloves, cinnamon and orangey scents around Christmas.
You can also use pine cones to make a natural bird feeder. All you need is a pine cone, peanut butter, string, scissors, smooth peanut butter and bird seed.
Cut a long length of the string to hang the pine cone bird feeder. Tie the string in a knot around the pine cone near the top (the top is the pointed end). And tie a knot in the end of the string. Using a knife, spread peanut butter inside the pine cone and all around the edges. Sprinkle some bird feed onto a plate and roll the sticky pine cone in the feed. Hang the bird feeder in the garden and the birds will come flocking in. If youíre lucky you might attract a squirrel!
Miniature Christmas tree
Save some pine cones from your collection to use next month too. Spray them gold, silver or green, and make a star to put on top and youíve got a miniature Christmas tree. Add them to wreaths, line them up on the mantel piece, and string them up on the Christmas tree.
There is loads more you can make with pine cones such as a pine cone pet, using scraps of fabric, feathers or leaves for the features.