Category Archives: Holidays

How to Make 10 Easy Body Care Recipes

Each year I think people are going to get tired of getting my homemade lotion concoctions. And maybe they are, but many are nice enough to say that they enjoy them. They are so darn fun & easy to concoct that I keep making them year after year. It just feels part mad scientist, part baker, part, mystical herbalist, and part artistry rolled into one project. It’s fun. I thought I’d do a big post to show you a list of all the things on this blog that make great & easy gifts.

These things for the most part, whip up in a snap. You can make them up to a few weeks to months in advance and usually, if you are like me, you can whip them up the night before you see your intended and loved giftee. The best part about these recipes is that you can keep them as simple as you like. Make them simple just like the recipe states, or you can get creative. Infuse oils with herbs, add as many different essential oils as you can imagine.  Experiment and have fun!

My only advice I suggest you follow is to use sterilized or new containers to keep your handmade body care items in. Dirty jars will make all sorts of uglies breed in your beautiful lotions. Don’t worry though, keep it clean and you’ll have nothing but success.
First up is the most popular:

This is a great ‘intro’ recipe if you are new to lotion & potion making. It comes out perfect every time and takes literally seconds to make. Printable labels are below the instructions.

Chapstick is a great stocking stuffer!

When I need a thicker lotion and don’t have enough time to make a body butter (below) I whip this easy beeswax lotion up. Some call it a lotion, some a cream, others a salve. It is what you make of it. This makes an excellent base recipe if you are curious about exploring with adding other ingredients. Try adding a little shea butter or cocoa butter. Maybe substitute a little jojoba oil for the olive oil. Maybe almond oil, maybe a mixture!

If you have a loved one with eczema or severly dry skin, make this whipped eczema lotion for them! This makes a perfect present for someone with chapped hands or scratchy elbows.

I have been wearing this deodorant everyday since 2008 and it hasn’t failed me yet. This is a great gift for those seeking an alternative to chemical laden deodorants.

Next up are the items from my little booklet Simple Handcrafted Body Care. The aftershave my husband has been very happy with. He’s used it for the last year and has been asking me for more. The bath salts are a favorite among my bath taking children. It does wonders for softening up my poor daughter’s tough, dry skin spots.

This body butter, from the book, I use daily. It’s my very favorite lotion to use after a shower. It keeps my skin super soft and I love being able to be creative with the ingredients. It’s a more involved item to make than my lotions but it’s very much worth it! You will love it.

The microdermabrasion facial scrub is awesome! I use it all the time. It really does do fantastic things to your completion. Best of all, the base ingredients I always have on hand in my kitchen and it’s easy to customize with scent.

This lip balm, hands down, has made me happier than anything I’ve ever bought. Really, and I’ve bought a lot of lip balm in my day! I use this daily too. It makes a perfect gift for pretty much everyone you’ve ever thought of giving a gift too. They’ll appreciate it, I can pretty much guarantee it.

Need some Christmas canning jar labels? I’ve got those. Click on the graphic to download the pdf:

I hope this gives you some inspiration for making a few gifts this season!


Filed under Body Care, Holidays

A formal kind of day


This kitchen received a workout the last few days. But it was a well thought out cooking plan this year which resulted in lots of time spent talking, playing bocce ball and going for an after dinner walk.

We went all out this year and waxed the furniture, polished grandma’s silver, starched her napkins and reached up to the top shelves to bring out her china. This year we went formal.

Today we’ll keep our wallets in our pockets and instead head out to the park with our turkey sandwiches to meet with friends.

There was so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I hope you had a fantastic day too!


Filed under Holidays

Winter Hibernation

We didn’t plant a winter garden this year. Not a thing. Not even an attempt at our usual broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower. In fact we didn’t even so much as put a kale seedling in the ground. With having our summer garden go in late and our harvest extending much later than usual, we were wiped out. To tell you the truth, when we’ve wimped out on our winter garden it’s come with a lot of guilt. Where we live, we really can garden almost all year round, so the pressure is on to take advantage of that.
However I believe there is great benefits to a period of hibernation, both for the soil and for the soul. This year we didn’t allow ourselves to feel guilty. We had done enough last spring and summer, it is time to rest. And I have much suspicions that having the garden, and the gardeners, rest for the winter is going to create an extraordinary spring garden. Because now that the holidays are good and done with we are all chomping at the big to get going again.
This past weekend we were all out there in force. Weed whacking, trench digging (for new irrigation), hand weeding, mulch moving, rock hauling. All of us eager workers. The seed catalogs are worn with near constant browsing. The garden books are showing up more frequently on the coffee table. While we aren’t ready to fully give up our winter garden hibernation, spring is looking oh so sweet to us.


Filed under Holidays, State of the Garden

Christmas Gifts to Make (with Christmas Label Download)


Each year at Christmas time I enjoy making a few things for friends. Many times it’s cookies, but after experimenting with so many lotions and potions this past year, I thought it would be nice to group them all together (with a new label, of course!) into one place. In this thrift store found basket that I lined with a red cloth napkin, I placed a jar of my August made applesauce, a jar of home made hand lotion, a tin of homemade deodorant and a bottle of baking soda hair rinse. All easy and thrift things you can make in your kitchen.

The hand lotion and applesauce are bottled up exactly as I previously wrote about. The hair rinse is a ratio of 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 cup of water. You can read about how I use baking soda to wash my hair. And the deodorant is the same recipe as I posted, but I split the recipe in half and poured it into these adorable 2 ounce tins from Mountain Rose Herbs.

It’s my guess that you already have olive oil, baking soda and cornstarch (and applesauce or other summer canned goodness) in your kitchen, so the only other ingredients you need will be listed below. I roughly estimate that if you buy all the listed ingredients it should cost about $28 and you can get about 6 batches of deodorant and 15 batches of lotion from them. My guess is that if you made about 6 baskets, it would cost you less than $5 per basket. Not bad for such a cute gift!


The label design is inspired by my love of all things Scandinavian at Christmas time. I just love the simple white and red and that folksy cross stitching is so sweet. On the Christmas Label Download Page there are two sized labels, one for wide mouth canning jars and one for small mouth jars. Print them out at full size (Adobe Reader tends to shrink things slightly, so double check in your print window that it doesn’t reduce your file.) on Avery Sticker Project Paper. Cut them out and you are ready to adorn your gifts. Enjoy!


Filed under Holidays, In the Kitchen, Recipes

Starting the New Year off Right

Nectarine Branches

This year, we have decided to start the New Year off the right way. This year, we are heading out on New Years Eve to the last place in the states to ring in the new year, Kauai. I’ve never been anywhere tropical before. I’ve always thought that hooded sweatshirts and wool socks were typical beach wear. So the thought of sipping Mai Tai’s on warm sandy beaches and swimming in warm ocean water is delightful.

In the meantime, we will return to see these cut nectarine branches in bloom (hopefully), our annual cover crop sprouted (which we just now finally planted!), and the excitement to start a new year. This year will be a good year, I can feel it. I have a lot of fun ideas for this blog space for when I return. Have a very Happy New Year. I’ll drink a mai tai for you all!


Filed under Cover Crops, Fruit Trees, Holidays

Merry Christmas to You All

Merry Christmas to All!
Oh sure, we don’t do snow much around these parts, but we do make a mean snowflake waffle in our kitchen.
Here’s to wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!


Filed under Holidays, In the Kitchen

Any Norwegian Readers Out There?


This past weekend my sister called the ladies of the family together for a Lefse making party. Lefse, a potato based tortilla, has always been a staple at our annual family Christmas get togethers, but for years now, since my Norwegian grandmother became older and then passed away, we’ve only had store bought from Nordic House in Oakland. Store bought lefse are pretty awful when you compare them to homemade. The flour-y, potato-y smell of a fresh grilled lefse is such a familiar and comfortable smell to me. Spread it with butter, roll it up and enjoy.


With my father recruited to watch all the little grandchildren we mustered up every last cell of Norwegian blood we have left in our bloodline, got out the funny looking lefse rolling pin, rolled up our sleeves, covered ourselves in flour and got to work.


After you roll them out, you need a this special flat lefse stick (this one my father crafted) to slide underneath, lift it up and lower and then roll it onto the griddle.


A stovetop griddle is far slower than the hearth top cooking that my dad remembers as a kid, but we built up a nice little pile of lefse. And the joy of getting together as a family over the holidays to carry on a family tradition that almost got lost was priceless. There are so many traditions associated with the holidays, new ones that my little family have created, ones that I remember from my childhood, but to participate in one that has been in our family line for generations upon generations was very special. Thanks for getting us all together, Marga.

Although, contrary to the family history, we decided to skip the Lutefisk.

Do you have any long lived holiday traditions in your family?


Filed under Holidays, In the Kitchen

‘Tis the gift to be free

Holiday Performance

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

No, this post doesn’t have anything to do with gardening or food or any of my normal topics, but when my four year old filed into this soulful theater with the rest of his little schoolmates singing this it made me all teary eyed and I thought I would share. We send him to a Montessori school in our 100 year old community center that places strong emphasis in developing each childs true sense of being, something that is very important to Scott and I. We hope in this big world full of commercialism and keeping up with the Jones’ that both of our boys figure out just who they are and find the place that is just right for them.
Holiday Tea

May we all find the place that’s just right for us.


Filed under Holidays, Life in Sonoma, Musings

Slowing Down in December

'tis the season
I’ve had such a hard time putting words together on screen lately. Thoughts have been rushing through my head like wild fire and I’ve composed entire posts in my head while waiting to fall asleep. I’ve even imagined clicking ‘post’. Have you received those insomniatic posts on your RSS feeder? Those are always the good ones, the ones virtually written in the wee hours of the night without a pen in sight. This week, I hope to actually get them to you.

Each year in December I try to inject a little more meaning behind my Christmas decor and take out some of the glittery lamé. While I’m not quite ready to sign us up for a No Shop Christmas or anything drastic, I do what I can to slow Christmas down, to be actually be present in the season, and I avoid shopping centers at all costs. And maybe it is an overly romantic idea, but I try to keep the consumerism down for my two young boys to a minimal level. We don’t show them cartoons that show commercials and we make doubly sure that this doesn’t happen at this time of year. I’ve found that filling our house full of things that remind me of the true merriment of the season helps focus me.
apples in december
Last year I read about how in Germany, at the begining of December they take a pruning of their apple tree, put it in a vase inside and in about 20 or so days it will be in full bloom…just in time for Christmas. It just so happened that the day I read that article, Scott happened to be pruning our dormant apple tree so I took a few branches and put them in a tall vase on our mantle. With a healthy dose of scepticism but with my ever ensuing hope, I kept the vase full of water. And wouldn’t you know? Right around Christmas Day it burst open with little pink blooms. I was all ready to show you how we did this this year, but it was such a warm fall that our apple tree is still full of leaves. However if its been cold where you live and the apple trees have lost their leaves, give it a try. Seeing those little pink flowers during the longest, darkest days of the year is a welcome sight indeed.

This year, however, I bought this Swedish welcome star (pictured at the top). And I just love it. I’ve never been to Sweden, but I’ve read that they place these in their front windows to symbolize light in the long dark days and to welcome visitors to their house. We don’t have a front window to place this in, but I put it in front of this old mirror in our family room and the beautiful light gets reflected all over our living area. Sitting next to the music box angel that I inherited from my grandmas house makes it even more meaningful.

What do you do to celebrate the holidays that’s a little more natural and a little less consumeristic?


Filed under Holidays, Musings