Monthly Archives: November 2010

How to Make an Easy Winter Hand Salve (aka Eczema Fighting Lotion)

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My new e-booklet is just out:
Simple Handcrafted Body Care.
If you like this recipe, you’re going to love the booklet!

About three weeks ago our daughter (still so strange to say ‘daughter’ after 6 years of having only boys!) started developing eczema, just like our boys did as babies. Our oldest didn’t have it all that bad, just around his ankles and elbows, our second son had it much worse. He had it all over his face, arms and legs. I tried everything for him and what worked best was my homemade lotion. Strangely enough what cured his eczema for good was going to Kauai and taking him off cows milk during the trip. I had read that cows milk sometimes either causes eczema or worsens it and I’m sure the humidity of the Hawaiian islands helped a lot. Even though our Sonoma air is quite arid, his skin has remained clear. Now, though, the thought of taking a five hour flight with three kids just to cure my daughters poor skin condition seems a little excessive, so I turned back to lotions.
My homemade lotion hasn’t been helping her quite as much as it helped my son. The doctor suggested either Vaseline and hydrocortisone lotion for the worst parts. I don’t know, I wasn’t happy with either of those suggestions, so I searched for something more natural to slather her with. I have a jar of shea butter in the cupboard for my homemade deodorant, so I scraped some out, warmed it in my hands and put that on her poor little face. That seemed to really help, however it was a pain to warm up and spread on her. I searched for an easy to make and easy to spread Shea Butter lotion recipe and did some research on some eczema fighting ingredients and came up with the recipe below. While I can’t claim that it has cured her eczema, it certainly has helped her poor face, chest and arms. It also makes a great hand salve for me too during these cold, dry days.
Shea Butter Lotion Recipe

How to Make Homemade Hand Salve (aka Eczema Fighting Lotion)

2 oz Shea Butter
.45 oz Avocado Oil
4 Vitamin E tablets (or .025 oz)
All three ingredients help with eczema, however if I could have waited a few days for a Mountain Rose Herbs order to come through, I might have tried Sea Buckthorn Oil in place of the Avocado Oil. I may still try it in my next batch, it sounds like a wonder ingredient (update: I tried the sea buckthorn oil, it stained her poor little skin and clothes orange!). I did know I could pick up Avocado Oil at Whole Foods that day (though it is cheaper at MRH), so I went with that. Like I mentioned before I had the shea butter and Vitamin E Tablets on hand for my deodorant.
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First, I measured out the shea butter and avocado oil on my digital scale then put them in my trusty Pyrex measuring cup. I put that into a pot of simmering water and let them melt together. When they were completely melted and mixed, I took them off the heat and added the Vitamin E, then I let it all cool to room temperature.
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The next step is to whip it up into a meringue like consistency. I did this by putting the soon-to-be-lotion into a bigger bowl and setting that bowl into a bowl filled with ice water and blending it with a stick blender. It must be cool to be able to whip up correctly. I then finished it off with a hand whip until it looked like meringue.
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I put that into an old lotion container and I store it in the fridge. When I need it, I pull it out and scrape off a bit with the back of my fingernail. It almost immediately melts with the heat of my hand and it’s so easy to spread on. I’ve been putting this on her about 2-3 times a day, sometimes alternating with my other lotion or with straight coconut oil. This recipe is indeed fussier than my homemade lotion recipe, however I think it’s worth it. The total cost for making it is about $2 and it does such a nice job on her skin (and my hands) that for me it is worth the extra effort.
Shea Butter Lotion
Do you or your kids have eczema? What have you done to help fight it off?

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so much to be thankful for!

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…Leaf garlands that kept the boys busy for hours hung all over the house…
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…green in the garden…
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…purple and red in the garden…
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…pulling the kafir lime tree inside just in time for last night’s frost…
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fig forests to play in which are even better than playgrounds…

….and thankful for you who stop by and read our little blog! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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See, We Do Still Have a Garden

Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I wrote all about how it was getting cold here and the down and wool were in use, the weather started heating up. It’s strange this warm weather, with a warm, leaf blowing wind. Both neighbors and strangers have greeted us this past weekend with a ‘Incredible weather, isn’t it? It’s earthquake weather.’ Luckily no earthquakes yet but the garden is happy with this warm sunshine.
Lettuce
We have all sorts of things starting up out there, lettuce, chinese mustard, dinosaur kale (oh boy, the boys are super excited about that)….
Broccoli Raab
….broccoli raab, spinach, snow peas….
Peas
…and shelling peas, watermelon radishes, regular radishes, cilantro, radiccio, treviso, diakon radishes, leeks and a few other goodies which are escaping our mind right now.

Our garden in late summer/early fall always looks so dry and brown as the squash and watermelon vines die and wither away, that its refreshing to see some bright green popping back up out there.

What’s growing in your garden?

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Sonoma Wool

Hallett's Ledge
I know, I know I had promised to take you out into the garden for my next post, but when I was doing my morning blog reading some of my favorite blogs were all posting about wool (Soulemama, Farmmama & Beauty that Moves). Since I had just uploaded some new knitting projects to Ravelry, I thought I’d follow along.

It is now just started to get cold here. We just vacuumed out our ancient gas floor heater of dust and turned it on, the down comforters just got spread onto the beds, and we’ve just started to break out the wool sweaters. This sweater is one I just finished. I was obsessed with knitting it at the very end of my pregnancy right on into my hospital stay, it’s all I did apart from eat and sleep. Luckily it fits great (well, it will fit even better once my body returns to it’s previous state) and wearing it feels like a hug.
Hallett's Ledge
The weather does get cold in the winter here in Sonoma, yet it stay warm enough for year round gardening. I’ve always seen that as sort of a curse and blessing at this time of year. On one hand, how lucky we are to head out into the garden at the end of January for some fresh greens. Yet there is a part of me that wishes that we could just cover the garden with mulch, let the snow fall blanket it and stay inside with a fire and a cup of tea and only daydream about next summer’s garden. Typically we strive for a happy medium and plant a humble winter garden, big enough to keep us fed, but small enough not to warrant too much cold weather work.
Tomten
Last year I learned about Elizabeth Zimmerman and made the boys each a Tomten jacket. I just love how they turned out. If you are new to knitting, this is actually a very easy sweater to begin with, I think anyways.
Boating Sweater
This is another Elizabeth inspired sweater using Peace Fleece’s Volgasippi, an inspiring yarn and company. I knit this while pregnant and now that I’m not, I see some problems with the fit (I didn’t use a pattern). So I’m debating unraveling the whole thing and starting over. The buttons are from our cherry tree.
This is not a maternity sweater.
I told you I was obsessed with knitting while I was pregnant. This is yet another sweater I made while pregnant. I loved it, but even after my belly went down I knew it was always going to be just a little too tight. Rather than unravel this one, I gifted it to my beautiful and thinner-than-me friend at BellaMadris who is just the right size for it.
Norwegian Baby Cap
Lastly, I am also a big fan of keeping baby’s in hats. I think mainly because my babies have always been nearly if not completely bald and they’ve been so little during their first winters. This little hat was made for a friend, but modeled by our daughter. The advantage to starting babies off in hats is that when they grow bigger and you want them to wear the cute little cadet hats you’ve made for them, they are used to having that warmth on their heads and will wear it. Well, most of the time that is…
Wool Caps for Winter Boys

Here’s to staying warm!

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The Beauty You Can Find When You Look Down

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Just wanted to pop in to share with you this incredible wonder we found growing under our cedar trees. A puff ball mushroom that hatches out of a dark, truffle looking egg into this beautiful star. When you squeeze that ball in the middle a little puff of ‘smoke’ comes out. Nature never ceases to amaze!

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