Thank you for all your entries, but this contest is now closed.
We try our best to keep things rather simple around here. If it’s one thing I’ve realized over the years is I have a rather low tolerance for busyness. Too many activities packed into one small time frame make me frazzled. Things can’t always be simple and this week feels like a culmination of extra busyness. I’m having a hard time keeping my head on straight. I’m sure you can relate! So I’m going to use this space to show some gratuitously calming photos and to focus us all on good things. Like a giveaway.
As I mentioned a post or two back, this month marks five years of blogging for me. Which is a long time! At least a milestone worth celebrating. So I’ve teamed up with Mountain Rose Herbs, my go to company for buying my oils, butters, herbs and spices, and we’re going to give one lucky winner a free copy of my e-booklet, Simple Hand Crafted Body Care along with a $50 gift certificate! Yippee!
While all this busyness has been swirling around I’ve started to make a mental note of a new box of items I want to order from MRH. We place one big order about three to four times a year. They have such great customer service and run their zero-waste company right in my alma mater town of Eugene, Oregon, which makes my faithfulness to them all the stronger. If you haven’t bought my booklet now, hopefully you will get the chance to win and if you don’t, we’ll continue to celebrate on Friday by having a 50% off sale. How does that sound?
(this a picture of the body butter from the booklet, we use this every single day!)
I’m thinking for my next Mountain Rose Herbs order I need to stock up on both cocoa butter and shea butter to make some more deodorant and I want to learn more about carrier oils. Typically I use olive oil, grapeseed oil or safflower oil for my lotions, but there are so many out there that I want to learn about. I’m thinking that might be interesting to you too, if I made up a bunch of lotions using different carrier oils to see how they felt. I also want to try some new essential oil combinations, so I’ll most certainly add a few to the order. And, if you know Scott, and have seen our entire cabinet devoted to herbs and spices, he’ll fill up our order full of culinary goodies.
So leave me a comment expressing your interest and I’ll call a winner Thursday evening around 9pm Pacific time. If you tweet or share on facebook or ‘pin’ the top image you can get the chance to enter again, just leave me a separate comment for each social media share you used. Much luck to you all! Closed! Thank you for all your entries!
Category Archives: Body Care
Thank you for all your entries, but this contest is now closed.
Though we held off for a bit, we now have all the holiday decorations out. This weekend was filled with an invitation to an ornament decorating party, a holiday ballet performance, hot chocolate and ornament making and hanging. I hung my little collection of Swarovski snowflakes across my south facing kitchen window this year. My uncle gave these to us each year for Christmas. He passed away quite young and unexpectedly this past spring. It is a beautiful thing to walk in and see hundreds of tiny rainbows all over our kitchen each morning.
I did a little holiday making today too (from the book of course!). As we’ve increased our children count over the years and they in turn have grown older and busier, my handmade Christmas gifts have decreased. As much as I love the idea of making my loved ones all handmade gifts, time is so limited, I try and keep it as simple as possible. There will be many years ahead of me for hand making. These years are about simplifying and enjoying amidst the December madness. Yesterday as we finished decorating the tree, I sat on the couch reading my new issue of Taproot and sipping my hot chocolate while the three kids danced like crazy to Dr. Demento’s Christmas album. It was loud and chaotic, yet cozy and Christmasy at the very same time. Welcome Holidays!
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! We had a very nice long weekend and I was so touched by all the ebooklet orders and the sweet emails that came with them. Thank you! Since I’ve been on a body care making kick I have a few things that I want to share with you this week. The first is about preservation.
About this time of year my Hand Lotion post becomes very popular for the DIY Christmas crowd. And for good reason, it’s a great lotion and so easy to make, don’t you think? However because of it’s relatively short shelf life, I started to research preservatives. And I found one that so far I like. Potassium Sorbate. But let’s back up for a moment. There are, as I have learned, three things that can go wrong when you mix water and oil. Yeast, mold, and bacteria can form. None of them are things you want in your lotion and especially on your skin.
To keep your lotion making as sanitary as possible you want to use clean measuring utensils. You want to use pure water, either well water, rain water or distilled water. You want the container you store your lotion in to be as clean as a whistle. Preferably just out of the hot dish washer.
As you go about using your lotion you want to scoop it out using clean dry hands. Even better, keep this lotion in a pump bottle. Store it in a cool place, preferably the fridge. Now personally, if I keep lotion in the fridge, I’d rarely use it as it would surely be hidden behind a jam jar and forgotten completely. So I keep it on the counter top during the winter, and during the summer, I still keep it out, but I make half the amount, so I use it faster.
I’ve found that this lotion stays stable for me for a good three weeks, however it doesn’t hurt to go an extra step and add a food safe preservative if you are giving this as a gift. Potassium Sorbate is an effective preservative against molds, yeasts and aerophile bacteria. It’s cheap (this bag cost me less than $4), it is easily soluble in water and you only need 1/4t. per lotion recipe. I would say that this extends the shelf life of this lotion to about 3 months.
How to Make Homemade Hand Lotion with Preservative
1 1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup emulsifying wax (Don’t use beeswax, here’s an easy homemade beeswax lotion recipe)
1/4 cup olive oil (I’ve been using grapeseed oil lately for an even lighter lotion)
1/4 teaspoon Potassium Sorbate
24-36 drops essential oil
Then heat water to approximately the same temperature as the oil (again about a minute in the microwave). Then add 1/4 t. Potassium Sorbate. Stir well.
Pour it into a decorative pump bottle, let it cool and you’ll have a beautiful, longer lasting lotion to enjoy!
I’m so happy to share with you my new (and first!) e-booklet called Simple Handcrafted Body Care! This was such fun to make, from recipe creation to packaging to photography to book design. I enjoyed it all. And I hope you will enjoy it as well.
So what’s in it? Well, there are five easy to make and basic body care recipes in here. There are no fancy, unheard of ingredients nor is there a long laundry list of things you need to buy. In fact most you can find in your local health food store and I don’t think there is any recipe that call for more than five ingredients. Each recipe comes with tips on how you can customize the item to your lifestyle, needs and budget. This booklet is for the beginner and for the experienced. I also created this with gift giving in mind, so there are packaging ideas along with labels that you can print out.
Included recipes are:
- Honey Kissed Lip Balm – I know I’ve already posted a ‘chapstick‘ recipe, but this one trumps that, I feel. With only three basic ingredients, this feels so luxurious. I put it on every single day and not only does it keep my lips smooth and moist, but it smells and tastes just like honey!
- Body Butter – This was a fun one to figure out too. I took the basic Beeswax Lotion recipe, which you are familiar with and with one extra ingredient turned it into a sumptuous body butter. Making it into a butter and using safflower oil instead of olive oil, it becomes lighter and less greasy. Now I use it as a daily face cream and when my hair get frizzy I can even use it to tame fly-aways. I also discovered on Halloween, when I went a little overboard with the eye makeup, that you can use it as cold cream! It took every last smudge of sparkly eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara off my eyes.
- Spicy Aftershave – A few years ago I tried making an aftershave for Scott that called for rum as a base. Not only did he walk around smelling like a drunk pirate, but he said it was sticky. This does not call for rum nor will it make the man in your life have a sticky face. Instead it will make his face feel refreshed after shaving and he’ll smell darn nice too. I’ve included two different aroma combinations with inspiration for creating your own.
- Bath Salts – Have you tried bath salts before? Boy do they make the bath a whole different experience. This recipe makes the water just a bit effervescent and you step out of your bath with softer skin and smelling oh so faintly of a flower garden. Lovely!
- Microdermabrasion Facial Scrub – A handful of years ago I bought a microdermabrasion facial kit that cost $50! It made my face feel soft, but it smelled of chemicals and for a little tube, it seemed pretty expensive to me! This facial scrub is every bit as good, but it smells of honey and lavender and my face really seems to glow after I use it. This recipe makes enough to use about a dozen times. I bet you have the ingredients to make this in your kitchen right now!
You know we have three kids and we have to be out of the door, breakfast eaten, lunches packed, early in the morning. To have these things on hand in the bathroom makes those circus-like mornings a bit calmer for me. And I hope they will for you too!
Unlike my previous recipes I am asking for a nominal fee for this booklet. But I also worked to make this an easy to use and beautiful pdf booklet that you can download immediately. With labels included, you can get your holiday gift giving made easily and economically!
Click the button below to get your copy!
While I sit here next to the fireplace, working on the Handmade Body Care booklet I’ve promised you and waiting for the furnace repair man to come, I thought I’d show you a few photos from this morning. We had an eventful week as a team of men came and laid down the most beautiful Marmoleum floor in our kitchen, the color of water. Another team of very generous and helpful men came to move an impossibly heavy butcher block from Scott’s childhood home into our kitchen. We scurried to finish painting while the appliances were scattered all around the house and this kitchen is another few steps closer to feeling just like home.
The last bit of stolen sweetness that has been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks is finally draining on the counter top. Scott’s off for a day of clamming/crabbing/fishing with friends, the kids are in school and daycare. All’s quiet and cold. I hope to be back very soon to share news of a finished booklet for you!
It’s been raining off and on the past couple of days and we couldn’t be happier. What’s made this knitting mama even happier is that, thanks to knitting lessons in school from another knitting mama and friend, the boys are hooked on knitting! I’ve walked past their classroom to find them sitting around their teacher giving a lesson, with them all knitting and listening. So sweet. However they are seriously raiding my yarn stash, I may have to establish a Little Boy Yarn Stash for them to work freely from. No more turning my Peace Fleece into a mile long finger knitting chain!
Scott hung up his fishing pole as salmon season ended. He did great this year, filling up our freezer with salmon fillets, smoked salmon and he even dabbled in making caviar too! Who knew you could make caviar. We felt quite indulgent and elegant while eating it.
In other news, during those two weeks of havoc, I also learned what happens when you spill coffee and cream on your lap top. First your ‘L’ key stops working. Then the next day it starts spontaneously ‘L’-ing all over the place. A few days later everything returns back to normal until, when you think you are in the clear, your hard drive begins to corrode away. While my poor laptop was at my trusty Mac Doctor, I missed out on a very limited opportunity to take part in Rosemary Gladstar’s video courses, which John Gallagher of Learning Herbs put together. Rosemary formed Traditional Medicinals many decades back in neighboring Sebastapol. I am a big fan of that line of teas. Especially Mother’s Milk, which I drink when nursing or not. They’ve put together something like 23 videos on how to make different herbal remedies and recipes along with tours of her herb gardens and a two hour class on woman’s health.
At first John only opened the course up for about three days and closed it and I stewed all weekend about how I didn’t get to sign up. However John opened it up for two more days. He’s closing it back down Thursday, Oct. 25th at Midnight. Want to take it with me? Click here to sign up. Let me know if you sign up, I’m going to tonight!
The days around here have been non-stop the past two weeks. The Littlest got sick, then the Biggest, followed by the Middle one. The Middle one had a birthday, which he was sick for, the next day the Biggest broke his toe at TaeKwonDo practice. After a full afternoon at the Doctors getting x-rays and waiting for hours with a potty-training, non-napping two year old alongside, we were told there is nothing you can do about a broken toe. So we went home. The next morning I took the Middle one back to the Doctor for an eye exam to find he needs glasses. ‘Oh good!’ I said excitedly, ‘We’ll be twins now!’ Eager to pick out some adorable little boy glasses we headed to the kids glasses display where the Littlest had a potty training accident right there on the carpet and then immediately spilled her apple juice that the seemingly well intentioned nurse gave her. What followed was a classic body twisting tantrum of epic proportions. We couldn’t pick out frames fast enough and get out of there!
Through the chaos, we’ve been able to gather together the past two weekends as a family for harvesting walnuts. It’s a pretty nice few moments, after a whirlwind week, to work together under shady trees finding and hulling walnuts. Walnuts usually lead to picking tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, squash, one thing leads to the next.
And of course a bit more honey. These couple frames of honey tastes so much different from the last. It’s strong in flavor and we are in debate about whether we like the taste at all. What have they been feasting on the past couple of weeks?
(Honey laden beeswax for the girls to clean off and lavender stalks for the bees to perch on for drinking water. All in my new top feeder)
Luckily the days have slowed down back to their normal pace. The toe is almost back to normal, the glasses turned out to be cute as a bug on him and the Littlest one is back to napping. The potty training is going pretty well.
I’ve gotten back to work on some more body care recipes I can’t wait to share with you. I’m hoping to develop five solid recipes into a little booklet with labels to print. Hopefully it will be perfect for Holiday present making. How does that sound? I have a new lip balm recipe that only calls for 3 ingredients and I’m seriously addicted to! It’s really incredible. I’m putting the finishing touches on a face scrub that has my skin feeling like silk and I figured out how to turn my trusty Beeswax Lotion recipe into a body butter that goes on just like, well, butter. And there is a little something for the men in our lives I’m trying to perfect too. I’m excited about all of them. I’ll keep you updated!
A while back I posted that I had deemed that this summer I was going to experiment around with more homemade body care & natural cleaning recipes. My first move was researching, which found me with two very promising books from the library: Clean, Naturally and Soap Book, both by Sandy Maine. They both looked so promising at first, full of interesting essential oil blends, nice layouts, easy instructions. I was motivated to start experimenting.
Being that our house was being invaded by ants that week, I set out to make an all purpose soft soap that was advertised to keep bugs at bay. I carefully grated a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender soap, softly boiled it with a mint tea I made from our garden, added in some baking soda & borax, and completed it with a few dashes of tea tree oil. I stirred it gently, so pleased with the lovely smell and the alchemy that was simmering away on my stove. I promptly cleaned all the kitchen counters with it that evening with gusto, so happy to hopefully have found a solution to our ant problem.
The next morning I woke up and not only were there many more ants crawling around our counters, but the ‘soft’ soap I had made turned rock hard. How I’m going to ever get it out of that jar is beyond me. I quickly deemed that recipe a failure.
Moving though these two books, I soon became concerned that every single soap recipe calls for Crisco and that almost all cleaning recipes called for sodium lauryl sulfocacetate. Now I know that there are worse chemicals on the market than SLS, but why use it if there are so many natural cleaning concoctions that don’t call for it. And why Crisco, when you can use a variety of so many other good oils?
So I moved onto a lotion recipe that used both beeswax and honey. It was called Queen Bee Lotion, a great name! I’ve learned in my experimenting over the years that it’s very important to follow the recipe as written the first time through. Then should I feel good about the results, I can start getting creative. And it’s also a good idea to half the recipe amounts, so as not to waste expensive ingredients if things should go wrong. Very luckily I halved this recipe because look how it turned out. At first I became alarmed because it never set up, it stayed very liquid. And then the next morning I woke up and found it full of mysterious white dots! Would you want to rub this into your skin? No thanks!
With three strikes against these books, I returned them, thankful that I didn’t buy them. Very luckily though I quickly followed up with a body butter recipe from a book I did buy, Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homeade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin & a Vibrant Self, and I have to say it’s divine! The best lotion I’ve made to date. But I’m not ready to share just yet. Now that I’ve followed the recipe exactly, it’s time to get creative and put my own spin on it and then I’ll share it with you.
Let the Summer of Alchemy continue!
This summer, for me, it’s going to be all about experimenting. I received a fun package full of goodies from Mountain Rose Herbs plus a few new books to get me started. My thoughts are of finding the perfect herbal iced tea, making variations on my favorite lotions and maybe making a fantastic smelling household cleaner. Note the very large box of Peace Tea, summer vacation for the boys started last Thursday…I will be needing this! It actually is good to have them home and not have the pressure of quickly making lunches and getting out the door in the mornings.
We have so many calendulas growing here that sometimes I think we should go into the calendula business. Until then, I dry as many petals as I can to infuse into oils for lotions and soaps. My method simply is to fill a canning jar with a heaping handful of dried calendula petals along with my desired oil, cover and set out in full sun for an entire day. Then strain and store.
Calendula petals are also good for adding to tea blends. This one is a custom blend I made with helichrysum, rose petals, nettle, and fennel pollen. This mixture of herbs (minus the fennel pollen, which I just added for taste) was recommended to me by a friend who’s an herbalist to infuse into oils for making eczema salves. (more on that later)
It too spent a few hours out on the back deck and then into the fridge to cool. It tasted just great, the key was in the fennel pollen. Yesterday I sat out another jar of this with a jar of Peace Tea, they chilled overnight and today I’ll see which I like better.
It’s fun to experiment. In my school days, I never did have a head much for the sciences, but as an adult, playing around with lotions and melting points and infusions and herbal properties and natural dying makes me feel like a mad scientist!