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.



  • 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.


  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.


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.)


31 Day No Spending Challenge – Challenge Recap

Wow – what a long month! The No Spending Challenge is officially over tonight and I am so glad. I will admit now that I was so far from perfect – it wasn’t the success I’d quite hoped for. But it was definitely a good exercise nonetheless. Being hyper-aware of all those little expenses and impulse buys is a good thing for the budget, even when I justified some of them. I still could not justify many, many little things I wanted to purchase, so lots of items went back on the shelf. Also, I realized I use shopping as entertainment sometimes. I never really realized that was something I could say about myself – I think of myself as someone who dislikes shopping because I avoid malls. But this month made me realize my bargain thrift shopping scores and home improvement project purchases still add up, even though they are much easier for me to justify than dropping $100 on shoes at the mall.

Disclosure time. I spent. I mean, I actually brought quite a few items into my house (and camping trailer) this month. I already disclosed the canning jar purchase, but justified it as part of grocery expense and I FILLED THEM this month. So, totally justified. But I also made THREE separate thrift store trips, spending $39 total. What did I haul home for $39? You know I’m going to list it for you πŸ™‚thrift

  • A really great, perfectly-sized Sakroots crossbody bag for $1 (def. in my top 10 scores ever).
  • 12-15 clothing items for Hannah for fall/winter (shirts, tunics, cardigans, hat, shoes, sunglasses).
  • A few camping and road trip toys to keep Hannah busy for our Yellowstone trip (a toy car, a new baby doll, a ball, a cookie sheet for magnets and 4 books).
  • A few divided toddler plates to keep in the trailer (so I don’t have to keep bringing Hannah’s dishes back and forth between trips- not that big of a deal but for $.25 it makes a lot of sense!).
  • A few misc. baskets and bins to organize the trailer cabinets.
  • 2 tiny pieces of pottery and one pretty plant pot I absolutely did not need, but could not leave without. (I will be planting succulents in them).
  • 2 big baskets for produce-picking in the garden (these have made life so much easier!) plus a plastic basket I can rinse veggies in right over the dirt in the garden.

Continue reading “31 Day No Spending Challenge – Challenge Recap”

late summer garden

IMG_0969I don’t think I’ve done any garden posts since the spring planning post, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t do at least one (for my own purposes later!) so here it finally is.

This is our first year the grapevine has produced grapes! They are delicious (and tiny), and tart. I need to figure out a way to use them up before the birds get to them all. Hannah loves them and will eat them (halved) pretty much as long as I’ll let her. They are taking over the arbor I put them on and finally beginning to stretch and wind along the garden fence. I think they make the garden look so beautiful!

Hannah is such a helper in the garden. She’s “helping” me pick kale here. πŸ™‚ The kale is out of control. I’ve made a few batches of kale chips in the dehydrator and snuck a bit into sauces here and there, but haven’t used it like I should. It is prolific and I think it came back from last year (I can’t be sure). In the same bed beyond the kale are a couple beets – I harvested the majority and canned pickled beets. My fave! I can’t wait to dig in this winter. I left a few for juicing the rest of the summer. Mmmm. The small bed behind Hannah is the grape, and some carrots. The one in front of that is ginormous and completely wasted cauliflower I need to dig up. It just got too hot. 😦 I’d never attempted cauliflower before and grabbed the plants on clearance close to the end of planting season just to try it out. Better luck next time.

IMG_0967What you can’t see is my mint, rosemary, oregano, eggplant, comfrey, and onions. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s all there.

I have a second garden space in the RV pad, and I planted all the sprawling plants like zucchini, pumpkins, cucumbers, and tomatoes, rhubarb, plus a few pepper plants. The pumpkins are super cute. I’m getting lots of zucchini and cucumbers (I’ve canned pickled versions of both). The peppers have done only ok, and the tomatoes are getting a late start, but there are plenty of green ones out there. I need to prune them all back so badly. I should have done so before taking pictures but if I waited for garden perfection I’d never get to post!

IMG_0975More of the RV pad garden. This is all obscured from view by our camping trailer (unless we take it somewhere of course). You can see the drip system in this photo. It’s not fancy but it does the job without having to hand water or use more water than needed. Mulching the entire bed with grass clippings helps keep the water use down and weeds down. These killer tomato plants were sent to me as babies from Seed Savers Exchange. I had really high hopes for a big harvest, but it’s been a weird year for Northern Utah gardens. Warm/dry winter, rainy summer. It’s kind of perfect for my own personal comfort, but apparently it’s not great for growing. Bummer! Still time for a bumper crop I suppose.

IMG_0974This is the back of the house garden – and all of this was just planted in the Spring! It’s filling in so well. I have hostas, coral bells, ferns, violas, thyme, columbine, and coleus (the coleus is the only one that won’t come back next year). All are shade loving and drought resistant. The blue pot is now empty but not long ago was home to a beautiful blue hydrangea. I’m a hydrangea-killer! 😦 The geranium in the black pot isn’t doing so well, either. Perhaps it needs more sun. In a year or two, this space will be crazy-pretty. I love gardens along a patio.

IMG_0972Here’s a view of our huge expanse of lawn from the vegetable garden. My brother-in-law’s family brought in the giant swing-set. Mowing around it is the bane of my existence, but I like the idea of taking up some lawn so if/when we get one, I’ll absolutely be putting a large rectangle of bark around it. The plants under the deck are filling in the space nicely, too. The shady areas were the hardest for me to plan initially, but they’ve become the prettiest and lowest maintenance areas of the yard! Around the Aspen trees is my herb garden.

IMG_0971We planted four trees this Spring – two apple trees and two flowering pears. The pears for (eventual) privacy along the back fence, and the apple trees in the side yard near the swing-set. You can see one of the pears in this picture. They are still tiny, but in a few years it will really help obscure some view from the back neighbors (gotta love the ‘burbs).

It’s been a great August, with few days in the triple digits. I love spending time with my girl and my plants. The front yard needs a lot of work this fall – mostly it’s an overgrowth/neglect problem. I’ll give it some proper attention in the coming weeks and try to post on it. A before and after would probably be in order.

Hope you enjoyed my little garden tour!


happy earth day!

IMG_1730Happy Earth Day, everyone! I went to my town’s Earth Day celebration last Saturday with Hannah and my parents and it was really fun. That’s Hannah and her grandpa enjoying the weather at the Ogden Nature Center for the Earth Day celebration!

Today I will be celebrating this lovely planet in a laid-back way; taking Hannah for a nature walk along the river trail, taking some photos, getting the hummingbird feeders ready, and making a yummy vegan feast (sweet potato and chick pea curry).

I may even work in an eco crafty upcycle if I find the time. I was inspired by these posts: 100 Ways to Repurpose Everything and 221 Upcycling Ideas That Will Blow Your Mind (I love a good round-up).

And since I have been thinking earth-y this week I rounded up some of my favorite ways to be eco. πŸ™‚ Hope you think it’s fun, too.

earth day faves1. Reusable shopping bags. These are the best because there’s obviously less waste than plastic bags, but they hold WAY more stuff, so there are less bags to carry in from the car. I have been using the same set of 6 Envirosax for many years and they hold up great and are machine washable.

2. Composting. Between cooking, gardening, and feeding a toddler (who likes to throw things on the floor), I generate a lot of scraps. Hardly anything gets thrown away: it either goes to the dogs, the chicken scrap bucket (they eat all the veggie peels) or the compost bin.

3. The local library. Checking out books, music and movies at the library reduces our consumption as consumers (and saves us money). We go every week or two and Hannah gets a stack of books, I get a couple books and cds, and we rent a movie or two to watch throughout the week after Hannah’s in bed.

4. A nice recycle bin is awesome, because you can keep it conveniently in plain sight so it’s not a chore to separate and hide recyclable items. My brother-in-law built me this one for Christmas a few years back and I love it!

5. Mrs. Meyer’s (Basil) and Dr. Bronners (Almond) are my fave green products. I use them for so many things!

6. Cloth diapers. YES they are more work, but I love saving all the money and landfill space by using (mostly) cloth diapers. BumGenius are the best. We also love our toilet-mounted diaper sprayer. It makes it really easy, so it just fits into the day like it’s no big deal.

7. Gardening. It makes organic food cheap for the family, it provides exercise and therapy and fresh air for me, and it’s good for the planet.

8. is my favorite shop. I want everything. I love my Neverland crops and Earth Medallion tank and all the other things I’ve purchased from Soul-flower. It’s all eco and fair trade and great quality.

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

welcoming spring. daily routines.

ONC viewEven after what’s been a really mild Utah winter, I’m anxious for springtime. I love summer and fall, but I still think spring is my favorite because the winters just drag on for me. By February I’ve had *just* about all I can take, and then suddenly and mercifully there are signs of spring and I snap out of my funk. I love the chilly-but-sunny days, the beginnings of gardening, and feeling like I can once again be a part of nature. Hannah and I have been enjoying daily walks. She loves to look at animals, and our neighborhood is smack in the middle of farm country, so there are nearby horses, chickens and cows to visit. We also just got a family membership to our local nature center (ONC), which is definitely going to be a weekly adventure. We went last week and Hannah LOVED it! And so did I. Even though things are only *just* greening up here and there, it was still beautiful and peaceful. Insta ONCAs Hannah gets older it will be so fun to take her to the nature center for the kids camps and crafty events, but for now we just enjoyed wandering the trails and seeing the birds and deer.

ONC pathAround the house, I’m switching up the baby-proof surfaces with some spring-time touches. I finally got the mantel stained, and put out some random spring-y objects I could find around the house. Plants, flowers, butterflies and birds are kind of a theme around the place right now. I’ve also been able to have the windows open for part of the day. Fresh air and natural light makes such a difference to my mood.

Spring mantel

I got a couple new pillow covers at IKEA – I love the biology textbook-style birds and bugs. (I’ve had the green pillow for years).Spring pillowsAnd the IKEA Varde shelf got a little switchup from the pink-and-red Valentine’s Day decor to some green {and my eating’s been greening up with more vegan recipes in the mix}.

Spring ShelfMy stack of reading reflects the season quite a bit, too. Some gardening magazines of course, and two new books I really recommend. Mindfulness and the Natural World is just one woman’s philosophical view of nature from a “you aren’t in nature, you are nature” kind of standpoint and I am really enjoying it. And mindfulness is the other theme right now, because I’m also enjoying implementing a daily yoga practice (only about 15 minutes during Hannah’s nap time, but it’s really helping me feel better); I really like the book OM Yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice. There is a short practice for each day of the week, and they are challenging enough for me that I am getting something out of just the short stints. Getting back into yoga has been so long overdue! I used to think to do yoga I had to go to a studio for a class or at least follow a video in its entirety. Silly right? The idea that it’s something you can do anywhere at any time, for any length of time is so freeing!

Spring readingIt’s not much, but adding a few routines to my day (a walk, some yoga, and a bit of inspiring reading) has been good for my soul and my sanity and I’m feeling like myself again! Seed-starting is on my to-do list this next week, and I am vowing to get some time outside in the garden just to start cleaning it up and prepping the beds with compost. What’s everyone else got planned for spring?

thinking about planting

My garden looks like this today:

snowy dayThe last snow before today was on Christmas, so it’s been a really bizarre Utah winter. I generally am not a winter person, and was hoping that by March we could forgo snow in the valleys and just get a lot of spring rain to make up for the lack of moisture. No such luck, but at least the snow makes everything beautiful!

Since I start a lot of my plants from seed, it’s time to start thinking about planning my garden this year, which to be honest I’ve been doing for a month. I just get so excited about the possibilities, and I love to grow things. I feel like little sprouts and baby plants indoors kind of connects me to nature even when I’m inside. greenhouse

For the last couple years, I used a PVC grow light system Jonathan and I made. It took up a large table in the basement and was perfect because I wasn’t limited by space. This year we have other plans for the basement so I needed something with a smaller footprint to keep upstairs. I purchased this 4-tier greenhouse, which was fast to assemble and only takes up a footprint of 19″x27″. It fits fairly unobtrusively in the bay window of the kitchen. And though it’s not beautiful, I know that once things are growing in it I will find it more charming. πŸ™‚

I will be using some simple fluorescent lights hanging from chain and S-hooks above each shelf. Grow lights are just one cool bulb and one warm bulb – nothing complicated. I will use the timer we use last year so we can change the length of time the bulbs are on easily and not have to worry about turning them on and off each day.

In terms of what I’m planting, I have a lot of space to fill. In addition to the raised beds in front of the shed, I have a large L-shaped section of garden to work with in our RV pad, which is at least 300 SF. I could carve out more space at any time, but I like the manageable size I’ve got for now. The larger plot in the RV pad is perfect for plants that just tend to take over like squashes and tomatoes – they get huge and require a lot of room. That plot also happens to get a lot of sunlight. The raised beds are perfect for more compact things like greens, root veggies, onions, and plants that grow upward on trellises.

Continue reading “thinking about planting”

This is 29.

I can’t believe it’s June. I know I say that all the time, but this time more than ever time has really gotten away from me! Here’s a quick recap on the last month or so.

I finished my last class for my MBA in Mid-August! SUCH a relief.


Sorry about that.

But. I’ve not properly celebrated yet. The immediate weekend after the semester ended I wanted to jump into some projects and began an early AM workout schedule (which for me, is a big deal, waking up extra early). But by the next Tuesday (yeah, day two of my school free existence) my plans were foiled due to a series of unfortunate events. First a throat infection, then an eye infection (that had me stuck wearing outdated glasses for a week). Then the best of all, I somehow tweaked my lower back swinging a sledge hammer at concrete last weekend, and as I’ve been coughing so violently I kept aggravating it. To the extent I was unable to walk on Saturday. I am that awesome at life right now. Three doctor visits, four prescriptions, and one shot in the hip later, and I’m on the road to recovery and I’ve been able to do some work from home. But seriously. Let me recap this for you. At the apex of this really fun ailment combo, I had 90 year old smoker voice/cough, swollen red eyes, glasses I can barely see out of, no makeup, could barely move, and when I did have to walk, it was a 3-inches-at-a-time hobble. Oh, and my back is shaped like an S now. So that’s awkward looking. Not how I pictured my last month in my 20s. I should be out finishing my list, or at least making lots of bad decisions to blame on my youth before it’s too late.

What I’ve actually been doing in my down time is less than exciting, but I’m sharing anyway.

  1. Collecting shiny old things via Ebay. Search “vintage estate jewelry lot” or “wear and repair jewelry lot” and you’ll find tons of great things for next to nothing. Getting an 8lb box of weird and broken mismatched earrings, buttons, brooches and chain is my idea of a great time. IMG_1570
  2. Watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. That Damon. Rawr.
  3. Also watching Dive!, a decent documentary by dumpster diving hipsters who delve into America’s food wasting problem.
  4. Reading A Discovery of Witches. I hope it gets better because I do love a good series. Except when they end and you feel like you’ve lost a part of your life and can’t remember what you did before you began them.
  5. Trying out Jamberry Nail Shields. Not toxic like nail polish or as spendy as a manicure or pedicure, they are pretty fun! They take a while to apply, but there’s no dry time like polish so I think it’s a wash. They have some really cute designs. I don’t recommend the glitter styles though – they are thicker and don’t lay flat and bond as well as the others seem to. IMG_1625
  6. Tending the garden. I haven’t spent the time I’ve liked out there, but it’s coming along nicely for early June. The lettuce, kale, peas and turnips especially are taking over the place. I picked my first strawberries today and pulled up about 15 decent-sized radishes!IMG_1626

There’s still time (barely) to work on some other items on my before 30 list and I feel okish about my progress there. Right now I am just trying to get better and start my 30s better than I ended my 20s!

What are you all working on/reading/watching/making these days?

deck season.

Being someone who can only tolerate temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit and higher, I feel like the year is really divided into only two seasons: deck season, and no-deck season. As soon as the snow is melting and the sun is out, our deck becomes another room of the house. For eating, for studying, for wine-sipping, for cooking… for basically anything that doesn’t require privacy.

Though nothing fancy, the deck was my favorite aspect of this house when we were putting an offer on it (this is two years ago, pre-lawn).


Well, the girl is getting fancier this summer. We are in the process of building it out about 3 feet, and painting it up to match the house. I’m so excited!!! So much so that I can’t stop thinking of how I’m going to prettify it once it’s done. Here’s my Zen-space mood board for the new-and-improved deck:


Mostly DIY here, but I definitely want to paint up the dining table/chairs, add some additional seating, and add some decor to make it lovelier and nice for entertaining.

We’ve got a LOT happening in our yard right now and I can’t wait to mind the details.Β Some more outdoor living space inspiration from Pinterest:

49ad90c88647f409645b2bc1f444b6c8The stained glass! The jewel tones! This is so pretty.. and actually attainable. Source.


I love everything about this, and it is super low-maintenance. Source.


I think I have blogged this picture 3 times now! Everything looks good with a coat of teal and that door is insanely beautiful. Teal has got to be my favorite color {if I were forced to choose}, and I love the look of it against bright green foliage. Dig the global vibe, too. Source.

So… what are you working on/planning for spring/summer??

healthy pesto

I love this time of year because it means all that work in the garden really starts paying off. Then it’s work in the kitchen!

I have an insane amount of basil growing – I keep giving it away but I simply can’t keep up with it. In the next couple of weeks I will start drying some.

But today, I made a couple double batches of my favorite – pesto! Garlic and basil are probably two of my most favorite things, and it will be a treat to get some garden pesto out of the freezer this winter.

To make a double-batch (which yields about a cup) you will need the following..

  • 2 cups of basil leaves
  • 2 palm-fulls of chopped walnuts
  • 6 tbs of lemon juice
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced (I like mine garlicy)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste

Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and whirl til smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl periodically. Put the pesto into small freezer containers and freeze!

I know lots of pesto recipes call for pine nuts, but walnuts are cheaper and just as delicious. And I omit the cheese and include lemon juice so it’s healthier.

Besides putting this on pasta, you can use it to make panini sandwiches, bruchetta, mix into a marinara sauce, use as a pizza topping, mix into a pasta salad, or stir a little into tomato soup. A little goes a long way so you can chisel a few tablespoons out of your frozen pesto at a time if needed for any of the above ideas. Have you ever made your own pesto? What kinds of good stuff are you getting in your garden (or at farmer’s markets) this summer?

PS: Look how cute my apron is. My sister-in-law Chalese gave e this for my birthday and I wear it nearly every day and it makes me feel so 1950s housewifey.

2012 ogden valley garden tour

Inspiration overload at yesterday’s Ogden Valley Garden Tour. This year’s tour featured homes in Eden/Huntsville/Liberty, Utah. It’s beautiful there.

A few things I found particularly inspirational:

These pretty raised beds created a mini-garden, with varieties of herbs and cherry tomatoes.

I loved this stacked-stone curbing. We are going to do something like this in our front yard eventually.

This walk-out basement was pretty. We are eventually going to do a walk-out basement under our deck. I like the idea of a retaining wall of rocks like this one.

We are talking about keeping chickens next year, so of course I had to snap a picture of this cute red coop. Seriously – how cute is this?! We’d have something way, way smaller, but I loved this.

This yard felt very broken up into individual “rooms” and I loved it. You can’t go wrong with little cozy spaces. This one incorporated veggies, herbs, flowers, cactus and succulents in a tiny area and didn’t look crowded at all.

This yard below was my favorite of the 9 homes. It’s just so pretty and layered. It’s about the depth of our backyard and they did such a good job pulling it in to make it feel cozy by putting in layers of beds and paths. This is definitely something I think we could do in our yard.

This is another view of the same yard as above. Cute little ornaments like this everywhere.

A fun feature of the tour this year was the Stonyfield Farm in Eden, which is an all-organic farm where you can go pick your own produce. I wanted to live there and hang out with chickens and bunnies all day long!

This was their pet pig, napping in the sunshine. D’ahhhhh.

So fun, seeing all those ideas and touring a new-to-me area of the state. And unlike seeing a bunch of ideas in magazines and on Pinterest, I can see what plants and trees will withstand the climate I actually live in, which is awesome for a rookie gardener like me.