Tag Archives: helpful hints

Balsam Hill iPad in the kitchen
Balsam Hill | Balsam Hill Editors

My Balsam Hill Home:
5 Smart Gadgets for Your Kitchen

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Cooking is a fun but tiring process. It can take hours and a considerable amount of energy just to create a heart-warming meal for the family. Luckily, there are gadgets that can help home cooks and amateur chefs with their culinary creations.

Synchronizing your kitchen with these apps and gadgets yields a number of benefits. First, these handy helpers assist users in organizing their space and managing their tasks, such as preparing multiple dishes at the same time and keeping track when an ingredient is running low. Second, they provide users with new recipes. And finally, they help with the more mundane tasks, such as measuring or portioning. Balsam Hill recommends five smart gadgets that can elevate your kitchen experience to new heights:

1. The Perfect Portions Digital Scale

This sleek gadget is perfect for bakers and health buffs because it works as a weighing scale and a nutritional calculator. Versatile and accurate, the device comes with a database of more than a thousand kinds of dishes. Users can also enter recipes that are not in the system.  With just the touch of a few buttons, this handy appliance breaks down the dietary details of any plate of food, giving home cooks the option to adjust portioning sizes.

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Jessica | Balsam Hill Designer

Mixing Old and New Holiday Decorations

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Having the same old Christmas decorations year after year is a recipe for holiday doldrums! Seeing the dusty and tattered garland on the mantle doesn’t exactly bring feelings of excitement for the holidays. But some of those old decorations hold memories, and we want to incorporate them into our newer, fresher Christmas decor.

Below are some tips to help you mix old and new holiday decorations:

  • To create a smooth transition between old and new holiday décor, use colors from the same family. Repeating the hues bring a sense of cohesiveness and unites the elements in your holiday decor.
  • Use everyday items to showcase your older, smaller decor! Apothecary glass jars and tumblers are excellent table centerpieces when filled with holiday items like colorful antique Christmas ornaments, or put a smaller, special Christmas knick-knack in a jar to display its uniqueness.
  • Salvage old greenery and use them to embellish lighting fixtures. Tie them to wall sconces, lampposts and chandeliers with colorful ribbons for a nice accent to your lighting scheme.
  • Old Christmas cards from loved ones can be turned into ornaments (laminate, punch a hole in the top, and tie it to the tree) or cut up and made into a beautiful collage.
  • The kids’ holiday artwork can be upgraded to feel like the real thing:  Highlight Suzy’s 4th-grade nativity drawing with a snazzy new Christmas frame. Group together a few drawings from over the years, and this is a lovely way to incorporate the old decorations into something new.

Sometimes you want to keep that Santa rag doll from your childhood, and those sentiments make Christmas special. It’s easy to update your favorite older decor with something fresh with an eye for repurposing, and making sure that the decorations are in keeping with your home’s style.  Happy decorating!

Jessica | Balsam Hill Designer

Should Your Tree Wear a Skirt?

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Choosing accessories for our Christmas trees is very important. With the right trimmings, a Christmas tree can really dazzle!

One of the most common Christmas tree accessories is a tree skirt, and it’s a traditional choice for many. If you’ve never dressed up your tree with one, here are some reasons that might change your mind:

  1. A tree skirt makes a Christmas tree look complete. It pulls together the ornaments, the lights, and the other Christmas decor in the room. Choose a style in keeping with your decor and let the skirt dress up your Christmas tree.
  2. It provides a beautiful backdrop for gifts.  On Christmas morning, the tree is all lit up, the presents tumble from underneath it to spill across and over the tree skirt… When the presents spill over the skirt, it creates a look of abundance, and is picture-perfect.
  3. Tree skirts conceal unsightly tree stands. Tree stands are utilitarian, made of metal and have screws protruding from their sides. Your artificial Christmas tree is a thing of beauty; the two don’t aesthetically harmonize! Hide the stand with a gorgeous tree skirt, and voila – all beauty, all the time.
  4. They can be heirlooms. Many Christmas tree skirts are handed down as heirlooms from generation to generation. This year I receive the red flannel skirt that my mother bought during my first Christmas. Although it’s inexpensive, it holds years of memories for my mom and me. Heirlooms carry family history, and immediately evoke memories and “remember when” stories. These are precious, and I’ll pass them along when I have children.

The uses for a Christmas tree skirt are many, so to answer the question, “Should your tree wear a skirt”, we say “Yes!”

Jessica | Balsam Hill Designer

Evergreen Everlasting: The Differences between Fir, Spruce and Pine

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With so many artificial Christmas trees available on the market, it’s difficult it is to tell each one apart. How’s a person supposed to tell the difference between a Norwegian Spruce and a Balsam Fir? And often, we want to make sure that our trees look like their Natural namesakes.

Fir, spruce and pine are three of the most popular Christmas tree varieties, and have their own characteristics that make them special. If you were to look at the real trees, here are some things you would notice. Use these distinguishing characteristics when you shop for artificial Christmas trees, to make sure that yours looks like the real thing:


Fir trees have individual flat needles attached to the stem. The needles grow in a spiral on the tip and lay flat, and this kind of display gives fir trees their full look. The shape of a fir tree is bushy and full, which doesn’t leave much room for ornaments and is perfect if you like a less-decorated tree.


Like fir trees, spruces have single needles connected to the stems. However, spruce tree needles are sharp and square-shaped. On a real tree, spruce needles easily break apart if you bend them. As a whole, spruce trees sport the traditional full Christmas tree shape, thanks to their upturned branches. Their strong branches can hold heavier ornaments, so load them up with your biggest ornaments with confidence!


Unlike the fir and spruce trees, a pine tree has needles that grow in bundles — you can see three to five needles bunched together on a pine tree branch. Pine trees have fewer branches, so they tend to look sparse with their upturned branches. However, this leaves lots of room to hang ornaments at the back and middle of the branches, allowing you to hang all of your favorite ornaments.

With the pointers in mind, you can easily find the perfect Christmas tree!