33 years & when your people come through

My birthday was yesterday. I have to admit that I was cringing at the idea of my birthday this year. Not the aging part – 33 is a cool number and a favorite Smashing Pumpkins song (1996 4eva!). But as I’ve been trying to eliminate extra STUFF in my life, and move toward an eco lifestyle, I was afraid that birthday gifts would throw me off track.

I was worried that I’ve failed to convey my zero waste goals to my immediate circle. I talk about it here and Instagram about it occasionally. I am walking that line of always wanting to start up the conversation with people without seeming abrasive or superior or like a weird hippy. I want to be an example, but I don’t want to come across as inflexible or ungrateful! I don’t want to make people feel guilty. Ever. And so, with a birthday looming, I didn’t want to suddenly have to tell people how to shop (or not shop) for me. The idea of that was just too weird.

Well, my family and friends were amazingly gracious, and I should have known. They could write a guide – all my gifts were nearly zero waste! I received Amazon gift cards (so I can buy things I need and download books for my Kindle), beautiful potted flowers, a mason jar mug, a hand crank butter churner, hand crocheted dish cloths and Swiffer duster covers, cloth napkins, a metal tiffin, a hanging fruit basket (from my Pinterest wishlist), and a wooden sign for my garden. Most of my gifts were unwrapped. My sister-in-law wrapped the metal fruit basket in a cloth scrap from her fabric bin. The crocheted goodies were given to me in an upcycled gift bag.

Amazing, right?

Everything is functional and infinitely reusable. Thinking about how grateful I am that my people *get me* makes me a little weepy. A bit silly, I know. But I just appreciate them so much! ❤

organic calendula face bar recipe

I will occasionally find myself doing the hippie-dippiest things and it makes me ridiculously happy. The other day while Hannah was napping, I was making my own face soap. With Calendula petals I dried myself. From flowers I grew in my garden. From seeds. That I obtained from an organic seed swap.

ImageI’ll let you digest all the crunchy goodness of that.

Calendula is awesome for the skin – it brightens and protects it from blemishes. It also fights infections and encourages collagen production. I wanted to share the recipe for this really easy soap. Everything in it is super good for your skin.

ORGANIC CALENDULA FACE BAR

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2lbs Castile soap base
  • 1/2 TBS Shea Butter
  • 1/2 TBS Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 TSP Vitamin E Oil
  • 1 TBS Organic Raw Honey
  • 6-8 TBS dried Calendula petals
  • 20-30 drops essential oil (optional). I used Wild Lemon.

Here are all the ingredients gathered up.

ImageDIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut Castile soap base bars into small chunks (about 1″x1″). Place in microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat soap pieces in microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between, until melted.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour into your mold of choice. I used a cleaned half &half container with the top cut off because I like the idea of small, perfectly square soaps. You could also use a greased muffin tin, silicon soap or baking molds, or silicon ice cube trays for small soaps.
  5. Let the soap sit for at least 12 hours. Remove from your mold and cut into bars. Package any way you like. I like to wrap soap in parchment paper and add my own labels with the ingredients printed, especially if I give them away as gifts!

Here’s the soap poured into my fancy mold. A lot of the petals floated up, giving the top of the mold the most organic matter in it.

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Here’s the finished product. Cutting about 1 inch thick slabs, this made 8 bars. I gave most away as gifts, but had a couple leftover for myself. It smells so good!

calendula soap

PS: You don’t have to grow your own Calendula to make this; you can find anything online. I like Majestic Mountain Sage and Mountain Rose Herbs for all the supplies I use (in addition to the grocery store, and DoTERRA for the essential oils.)

DIY gifts & a lip balm recipe

Last year I made some lotion and lip balms to give as gifts to my sisters-in-law, and they were a big hit. This year we drew names for gift-giving with my inlaws, so I decided to DIY a few other fun treats for gift purposes, this time to the gals I work with. I LOVE handmade gifts, especially when they are made with good ingredients, so I hope the recipients feel the love behind these! Look at this assortment of goodies!

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In the picture above I have all my gift items ready to hand out – lip balms, castile bar soaps, hand creme (yet to label!) and lavender eye pillows. I wanted to first share the super simple lip balm recipe because it’s fast and fun and there’s still plenty of time to get everything and make some of these for the holidays. And it’s made with all kinds of good-for-you stuff as opposed to chemicals and it’s fun to make your own flavor combinations, so even if you just want to make yourself a huge supply, I’d totally recommend it!

DIY Beeswax Lip Balm

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS + 1 TBS filtered beeswax (either use pellets or grate a large piece into the appropriate measurements).
  • 1 TBS Shea Butter (or another butter of your choosing – Almond, Avocado, Cocoa, etc, are all good options)
  • 3 TBS Sweet Almond Oil (or another carrier oil of your choosing – Olive, Jojoba, etc)
  • 1/4 TSP Vitamin E Oil (helps preserve)
  • 15-30 drops essential oil* or flavor oil

Materials:

  • A double boiler (or makeshift double boiler like I use, in the instructions below)
  • A silicone stirring instrument
  • Small containers (I got these .75 ounce tins from Majestic Mountain Sage)

*Note: Remember you’ll want to use oils that are tasty, since this is going on the lips! I’ve suggested some below.

Directions:

  1. Using a double boiler (I use a Pyrex measuring cup in a pan with a couple of inches of water in it) heat up the beeswax, Shea butter, and Almond oil. Stir constantly until it’s all melted into liquid.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in the Vitamin E oil.
  3. Remove the top container from the pan of water and let the oil sit for a couple of minutes to cool down a bit. (Adding essential oils to very hot oil will make them less potent.)
  4. Stir in your essential oils til you achieve desired scent.
  5. Divide mixture evenly among several small containers. Let them cool completely before putting lids on the containers. The mixture will harden to a perfect lip balm consistency upon cooling.
  6. Enjoy!

If you are using flavor oils, go crazy and use whichever you’d like. But if you are using pure essential oils, you may need to consider some tasty combinations. Here are a few good options:

  • Orange, lemon, grapefruit etc.
  • Orange + Clove
  • Cinnamon + Clove
  • Orange + Cinnamon
  • Peppermint

You can also use a dab of cocoa powder in your mixture if you want something chocolatey. That would be delicious when mixed with peppermint or orange essential oil. The possibilities are endless!

Here I made two with flavor oil from Bulk Apothecary, Coconut-Lemongrass and Brown Sugar & Vanilla, and another lip balm with doTerra Sweet Orange and Clove oils. The essential oil balm is by far my favorite because it doesn’t taste artificial. The others are still great, but there’s a big difference in the quality, in my opinion.

To prettify these for gift giving, I printed the flavor and cut out each in a small circle with a craft punch. I Mod Podged a small circle of scrapbook paper to each lid, then added the circle label to the center. I Mod Podged the whole lid and let dry for an hour or so before stacking them away in a box.

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These match the handmade soaps I also made as gifts – here’s a closer peak at those. I will add a tutorial on making the soaps shortly, as well as the hand creme in the above picture.

IMG_1979Are you making any gifts this year? Do you love receiving handmade gifts as much as I do?

DIY sugar body scrub

File this under.. why didn’t I try this forever ago?!

This weekend I whipped up the sugar scrub recipe from The Bust DIY Guide to Life.

I just finally picked up a copy of this book, and I LOVE it. Mostly I love it because it reminds me of being in college. I LOVED BUST Magazine. This book has lots of easy DIY tips and projects that aren’t fit for Pinterest fame or Martha Stewart Living, admittedly. It’s just good-old-fashioned fun. I needed to be reminded that not everything you make has to be a Pottery Barn copycat to be cool.

Anyway. Back to the scrub. I made a Whole Foods run this weekend (it’s a 30 mile journey ;)) and picked up all the supplies. Which are:

  • Raw sugar (1 cup)
  • Pure almond oil (1 ounce)
  • Vitamin E oil (1/2 tsp)
  • Cocoa butter (a “dab”- not required)
  • Essential oil (up to 6 drops – I used vanilla)

The instructions are ridiculously simple. Mix the sugar and almond oil in a bowl. Add the vitamin E oil and cocoa butter (which you will need to microwave in a small bowl – it’s a solid). Add a few drops of essential oil and mix again. Store in a jar.

I used some jars I had on-hand that once had things like pickled jalapenos and kalamata olives. I spray-painted the lids lavender and used scrap-booking stickers to label the jars. I covered the stickers with clear packing tape. (The collage-y look of this is SO 18-year-old me.)

The scrub smells sooo good, and would compete with any you could buy. Now that I have all the supplies (I would have to buy more sugar is all) I could make up tons more of this for Christmas gifts, which I just might…!

christmasy-type stuff

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger, enjoying lazy winter evenings and plenty of fun winter/holiday activities. I hope everyone’s in the home stretch getting ready for the holidays!

I already told you my house was decked out, but I’ve been up to other stuff, too:

  • Shopping is done. Done! In November, no less.
  • I was charged with planning my company’s holiday party, which was last weekend, and it was a success! But I’m so glad it’s over. Go hug your corporate party-planner today because they deserve it. It’s a royal pain.
  • Made a little advent calendar to count down the month, with a Christmas-y activity to do each day… then promptly got sick and lost steam to do much at all! I just painted a plain canvas brown; the “tree” is made with ribbon and baby clothespins I painted green. I will use it next year…

  • I ordered a print-your-own calendar from this Etsy shop {looks like that one’s no longer available but there are about a million other cute ones} and made up little fridge calendars for the gals in my family. I have 3 sisters-in-law, 2 almost sisters-in-law, and 2 moms and wanted to get them a little something just for being awesome. For a $5 download, paper, ink, and a few CD sleeves, these gifts were less than $1 each. Don’t worry, moms get a “real” gift, too. 😉 Here they are packed in their CD sleeves.

I wrapped them in a brown paper lunch bag {just slide in and fold down}. I clipped on magnetic bulldog clips to the bows and tags to hold the calendar on a magnetic surface.

  • Got myself a Christmas present early this year – some nice snow boots! I ordered these from Zappos and have yet to wear them {except around the house} because it’s been rainy rather than snowy here in Utah, but I am sure the time will come. I need to make friends with the winter because I hate it! These little beauties will help. PS, I am LOVING Zappos! They rock.

  • Made some homemade marshmallows and hot cocoa for a few co-workers. These made a sticky, gooey mess and were entirely too time-consuming, but they ARE pretty neat. I used this recipe but added some peppermint extract and some swirled-in red food coloring. I haven’t packaged up the gifts cuz I am out of tissue paper, but I got cute stoneware mugs to package the mix and ‘mallows in.

  • This upcoming week’s task is to finish planning a little cooking get-together with my favorite Vegans for next weekend. On the menu is a Christmas nut loaf, mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and for dessert… roasted chestnuts and soy-nog! We are also doing a Secret Santa gift swap of cooking-related gadgets. Very excited about this one.
  • I’ve been working on my New Year’s Resolutions already. I put a ridiculous amount of thought into this each year. It’s my favorite thing!

What’s everyone else doing to get ready for the holidays?

some sugar and spice

Congrats to my good friend, Alicia, on her new {perfect} baby, Jenna Ruth. The proud parents are 3 for 3 on uber cute kids.

I whipped her up a couple gifts {to tuck in with the Target swaddling blankets and binkies}. First, some framed buttons in perfectly girly colors. This is about a 5 minute project, but super cute.

Second, some scrappy embellished onesies. The ruffle on the pink/gray onesie was once a too-small A&F t-shirt {thrifted}. The other, just decorated with some Amy Butler fabric scraps that were too cute to not make something with. Onesies always make me go “ahhhhhhhhh.”

Congrats, on your pretty little girl.

birthday wish list

I have a birthday coming up in a month and I’ve been asked for gift ideas. I really {really!} don’t expect much. My perfect day would include: take the day off work. Get myself a giant vanilla latte. Work on craft projects, look at magazines and books, and sleep in the sun all day. Have dinner cooked for me {at home, not at a restaurant!}. And might include a cupcake, bonus if it’s a super cute one.

Buuuut, since I was asked what might tickle my fancy, here are a few things I sure wouldn’t mind getting. (:

1. Kitchen goodies. A food processor or a panini press and grill.

2. A cute lil dress. Like this or this.

3. Cool colored boots that will extend the birthday cheer til Fall when I can actually wear them! Love these ones. Or some go-with-everything black wedges for the office. The perfect ones allude me so I don’t own any, but I neeeeeeeed some. These are pretty cute.

4. Amy Butler fabric to spruce up the kitchen and bedroom. How do you narrow it down, though?

5. Some Keen hiking boots. So practical, but these would be awesome to have.

What’s on your wish list right now?