OK...It doesn't matter that they spelled my name wrong, I'm still getting a kick out of the label "Fiber Artist"...who knew?
A couple of months ago Susan sent me an email that had a big impact one me. In it were photos from the Hungry Planet project. I was stunned by the massive amount of food families in "developed" countries consume in one week. I was less interested in the dollar amounts (because that's all relative) as I was the quantities of processed foods versus fresh fruits and vegetables and the consumerism in general. I'm not standing on a soapbox over here. You regular Kitchenettes know that I do a fair share of shopping and consuming myself.
A few weeks ago I thought about the coming New Year and of what my resolutions would be. Usually they have something to do with self-care, losing weight etc, but this year I wanted to try something different. Not only do I want to buy less, consume less, use less energy etcetera, I also want to take advantage of what I already have. Do you know that we have over 1000 books in this house and I have more craft/art supplies than I'll ever use? I don't need to buy any books or "get involved" in any craft projects that require purchasing new materials and that's for sure.
I took a look at my kitchen cupboards and realized this is another area that needs improvement. I don't waste meat because of the whole animal "gave up its life" bit, which I think deserves some respect, but in spite of many efforts to make change, we still throw away half eaten bags of chips, stale bread and less past its prime produce than we used to, but still way too much. I have enough canned goods and staples like beans, rice and lentils to get us through a Depression. Though in my defense, all the food in our house would fit on a dining room table as opposed to the food for one week like in some of those photos.
As you all also know, weight is my main issue over here and in spite of being one pound away from my goal of under 200 pounds at the start of November, I didn't make it through the holidays unscathed and my weight shot up. If you're a thin woman and you gain holiday weight I daresay it feels less like failure than if you are already overweight to begin with. I'm disappointed in myself, but instead of the normal routine of clearing the house of all the culprits (I've actually thrown away perfectly good dessert food to avoid eating it) I think something different is in order. I'm less worried about my weight than you might think...I know myself well...it'll come off in time, but I am worried about what I see as a trend over here in the Little Orange Kitchen.
I appreciate good food and quality ingredients, but there isn't enough reverence for food over here. I decided (in addition to the resolutions I've listed below), to try something new. Instead of my usual stock the house with healthy foods for the New Year tradition, I'm going to use what we have. I've decided that with the exception of eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables that I will not grocery shop in January. I will use what we have.
This isn't about deprivation, but about cooking creatively. I'm sure that I can prepare healthy and satisfying meals for one month with what we have in our house right now. I can't get behind deprivation and enormous sacrifice (it seems pointless to plan to starve), but I can get behind using up the rice, beans, soups, sauces, baking supplies and even the pre-packaged "Health Foods" that line my cupboards.
On January 1st or 2nd I plan to post a list of all the food we have in the cabinets and fridge. Janet will no doubt keel over at the volume, while many of you might think it sparse. I'll admit I'm already a bit defensive over it looking like there's a lot, but I'm posting it anyway.
I'd love to live in an area where we could shop daily for our food and wander market stalls choosing only the nicest produce and freshest of meats and breads. I've always loved the whole European market idea, but alas, it isn't so easy in our area and even if it were, I'd still want to use up what we have here now.
It's my January project, but I hope it'll help me throughout the year, plus we'll even save money and that's good news after the holidays.
Aside from the food project, here are my 2008 resolutions:
All of this is doable and I decided to keep the usual lose weight off the list for once.
It's funny, my mother and I laughed about how this was the year that we, as a family, were going to cut way back on Christmas and while we did, it still looked like some sort of present extravaganza over here. Though, the gifts were thoughtful, many were handmade and some were thrifted or re-gifted.
Here are some favorites, and if I get a chance...I'll post about Kelly's thoughtful handmade gift of the highest order soon.
I'm off to bed, but not before pulling a Nigella...well, actually it's not really a Nigella since I put my treat on plate and am not eating in front of the fridge, but you know what I mean. A late night snack ...my mother's homemade crepes with almond creme filling (courtesy of Julia Child). It's a tradition and one of my mom's specialties...My mother in-law has a few specialties of her her own, but I didn't take enough pictures of the amazing spread she put out for us last night including at least six varieties of her cookies.
I'm ending what has to be the biggest blog posting jag I've been on in awhile with hopes that all of you are feeling peaceful and content...at least for the moment.
Sweet Dreams Kitchenettes.
I find it very interesting that two of my friends, who happen to be polar opposites in many ways, had similar mindsets when it came to the gifts they gave me this year. Each of them filled a "container" (Janet a light blue backpack and Janice a colorful felt clutch) with thoughtful treasures.
From Janet, were gorgeous red poppy seeds, retro dessert plates, children's books and a blank canvas (literally blank-she's an artist and she'll make me a painting as soon as I settle on a color for my office walls and she gets the feel of what will be good for the room).
From Janice, a gorgeous faceted amethyst bead, a pyrite abundance disc, a turquoise bead with scalloped edges (unusual on a bead), gorgeous earrings and a whole assortment of other pretty baubles each individually wrapped and with significant meaning.
Then, each showed their generosity of spirit in a similar yet entirely different way. Janet created a Wish Jar (pictured above) and filled it with little slips of paper each identifying something she wished for me or something that she appreciated about me as a friend. She's hoping I'll add my own wishes to it as well. I had a bad afternoon the other day and it was so much fun to sit down with the jar and read about all the good things I have coming in the future as well as how great I am now! :)
Meanwhile Janice was eight states over putting her wishes for me in a teeny tiny little small wee petite almost invisible abundance capsule! Scented with essential oils including frankincense, clove, ginger, spruce, orange, patchouli and myrrh
How two friends who are so different had such a commonly themed idea is beyond me. Though, they're more similar than each would think in one way. I was thinking about it and realized (this is going to sound odd) each is very linked to animals. Janice's cat Tiki is the reigning king over there and drinks his water from a goblet while Janet spends more time cooking and making food plans for her animals than herself ( I once asked her what she was making and she said, "chicken and rice". I said, "Sounds good! Good for you for cooking!" Then she said it was for Aero...her dog!" Both value nothing more than their pets. It's a funny similarity, but one I just realized.
Thanks for the wishes guys!
A few favorite images of the season from blogland...I have so much to post about and will be trying to take pictures (in natural light) today...Janice: I can't post the beautiful fairy because it won't let me save it to my own computer...please post her on yours soon.
From Beauty That Moves
From Java Jibber
Trust Nancy to come up with not only a great post title, but something chocolate and previously unheard of over here at Little Orange Kitchen. Chocolate pasta shaped like chocolate curls! She not only makes the best spicy Mayan hot chocolate you've ever had, but now she's off scouring the peninsula for more treats like this!
I was thinking something desserty---like a raspberry chocolate sauce thickened with a little marscapone...but Nancy suggested perhaps a cold pasta salad dressed with fig vinegar would pair well. Now that's a suggestion I can get behind! Nancy??? Are you there? What else did you suggest?? Please put it in the comments. Inquiring minds want to know. I ate an uncooked one just a minute ago--very rich and bitter---not sweet at all---this bodes well for getting the deep flavor of chocolate in any dish.
Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Five posts in two days....YIKES!
As you can see, my pattern of making a huge mess while wrapping presents in my studio still stands...I
can't won't be contained! However, at least it cleans up easily...20 minutes later:
Besides, I have plenty of prettier patterns to balance things out:
Hard afternoon over here. We're snowed/iced in and I can't run all the errands I'd planned. Plus, even though my brother Adam and I live in separate states geographically, we're apparently a lot closer when it comes to our mental states. Both of us take things to heart and feel pressure to make sure everyone's happy, especially this time of year. Just as I came out of the bathroom (having been hiding out for a half hour in tears) he called me in the same overwhelmed condition...both of us basically OK ourselves, but feeling tremendous responsibility for everyone around us. Yes, we both know it's not our responsibility to manage everyone's emotions, but old habits die hard. It was good to talk. Both of us need to relax, plus we also share the same tendency to not get enough sleep at crucial times. I need a nap. :)
On a more pleasant note...Janet and I exchanged gifts this morning and I CAN'T WAIT to show you the thoughtful gift she made me...pictures soon, I promise.
OK, off to breathe and clean up in the kitchen. But first, this may not be the usual Christmas carol fare, but a little Natalie always gets the mood boosting job done around here. Whenever she's on Letterman, Dave calls her lovely and always seems quite smitten with her. Dave likes smart quirky women and I like that about him. The word lovely is high praise in my book. It describes her well.
We've all seen her more recently with her long straight hair, red lips and skirts, which is a fine look, but does anyone remember the harsh criticism she received about this performance for her dancing and nursery frock? Hey, the joke's on them...really...she's got every man on the stage entranced, amused, seduced, enthralled and in awe all at the same time. I love reading about how so many of the men she's worked with have fallen nutso in love with her and admire her in a big way. The musicians say she's amazing to watch and work with...This video makes me laugh because she's clearly being herself in public in the same way I am in the living room...and I love watching her go. It gives me hope for the self conscious part of myself.
I think I'll be posting a lot of short posts between now and Christmas. Probably fairly photo heavy...Tomorrow night I'll take a picture of the full tree, but here are a few of my ornaments. I decided to break with tradition and not do a mermaid tree this year, but I did use my mermaid tree-topper and hung my very favorite ornament (Above-a handmade glass mermaid).
Anne Boleyn...I got her in England and even though she looks a little apprehensive, she's safe with me. Not unlike Laverne De Fazio, she's partial to her initial.
I made these about fourteen years ago and thought Martha would come calling because of my brilliant idea to use brown rice for the hair. Martha never came.
P.S. The Soap Nuts work very well!
P.S. Double S: I cheated and used a Gluten-Free mix for the cookies in the last post, but added nutmeg, an extra tablespoon of butter, orange extract and hazelnut extract...Plus, I baked them longer than was suggested because the sugar slightly caramelizes, giving them an extra rich flavor.
Sweet dreams all...I'm off to bed.
I've always loved the Three Graces, and this year I'm using these graces as inspiration. After all, what could represent beauty, charm and joy more than a small batch of Gluten-free hazelnut butter cookies lightly dusted with nutmeg?
I'm back from a quick and safe trip to Chicago. I was dreading the trip, but am glad I went. Spending time with my grandmother isn't always easy, but we had a great time and she stayed on good behavior. She likes to steal sugar packets, napkins, butter, little jelly packets and even steak knives from restaurants, so keeping an eye on her can be a challenge. This isn't a new habit developed in her old age...she's always done this.
When my brother and I were little she'd take us to the drug store and take two ice cream bars out of the cooler for us to eat as we trotted behind her looking at the various products she'd dismiss as "outrageously priced". As soon as we innocently finished our ice cream, she'd usher us out the door.
I knew what was happening, but liked the idea that if we got caught we might go to jail and have a real adventure for a change, but my conscientious little stress-ball brother put an end to it on one trip where he loudly announced "Grandma, IF WE DON'T PAY IT'S STEALING!" She paid, but told us afterward that we both needed to learn how to have a little fun.
I took her seriously and because I was deprived of the much anticipated trip to the clink decided that maybe telling my parents would be the second best kind of fun. I was six and knew it was cut-rate drama, but drama none the less, so I told my dad all about it. So much for the free ice cream trips. These days she denies it ever happened, but I know what I know.
I'll be posting over the weekend and if all goes well, you'll see our tree! I hope to get one tomorrow. Last night I made 50 of these scrap paper covered clothespins. They're great to have in the kitchen when you need to close up
chips, cookies, sugar, marshmallows, candy bags organic walnuts. A bag of 50 for $3.49, some scrap paper, a glue stick, and some Mod Podge. The truly crafty could do a better job, but my friends will appreciate something so practical (if not perfect) adorning their gifts. I did 50 in about an hour and a half.
I'm having a hard time leaving comments on some of my favorite "Blogger" blogs. It seems a Google account is now required, which I set up, but now my comments appear from Little Orange Kitchen instead of Laura. The nickname option isn't working and I prefer to use my name, not my blog name as a link. Any ideas?
Here's an imperfect picture of an early present from my grandmother. I was there and made sure she paid for the purchase, though she ate at least six of the cookies the consignment shop owner had out on a tray.
CAUTION: Profanity Ahead
I can't believe it's past the middle of December. I had such high hopes for this month. The decorating, baking, thrifting, making of handmade gifts...not to mention my hopes of posting a tutorial every other day on one skin care product or another. I don't know what happened.
I did manage to take a picture of the little gift package above (both the felted mushroom and the felted soap were featured in previous posts) and the rick-rack is vintage (I used to abhor that stuff, now I love it). I haven't even put up my tabletop mermaid tree or anything! One elf in a bowl of oranges and one wreath. That's it.
I'm leaving for Chicago until Wednesday, so I'll have to hold out hope that I'll get some decorating done a few days before Christmas.
I've had some computer issues slow me down a bit, plus I've been working like mad to get wallets made. I'm completely finished with orders and moving into the the next phase. I have great news! The wallets were accepted and I'll have a booth at 2008 Arti Gras! YAY! (I know it's yeah, but it never looks right)!!
I got my slides and application in on the last day allowed, crossed my fingers, didn't hear anything, assumed the wallets didn't cut the mustard and moved on. Then the envelope arrived! Woo-hoo! I'm going to be a wallet making maniac in order to get ready. Janice put on her professor hat and helped me map out a reasonable work schedule. I'm six wallets behind so far, but I'll catch up.
Speaking of wallets. I change purses and wallets every few days. Any wallet that doesn't turn out becomes mine to use, so believe me...I have lots of choices. However, one of my all-time favorite wallets is one that someone else made.
People are often surprised that Pulp Fiction is one of my favorite movies. I guess there's something about me that rings Anne of Green Gables and not "brain detail" violence, but I loved that movie. Actually, I found much of it hilarious. My favorite scene was the "tyranny of evil men" scene at the very end with Jules. It begins with the whole Bad Mother#$%#@$% part, which is kind of funny in context of the movie.
I wanted my own for the longest and last Christmas Mark indulged me. I'm not schoolmarmish or super innocent looking, but there's something just wholesome enough about me to cause double takes at the checkout when I pull this out of my Tinkerbell purse:
If you've seen the movie you'll know why it's funny when Mark gets on my nerves and I say ,"Look, I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd". If you haven't seen it or if you did, but found it repulsively violent and lacking in humor, then this post takes the bloom so far off my rose you may never come back.
Yep. it's sad. Other people are posting bowls heaping full of vintage glass ornaments, snowmen, gingerbread houses in the making, Christmas carol lyrics and handmade Santas while I'm over here tree-less, but still feeling like a bad ass because of my Arti-Gras coup and my wallet. Sorry folks, it's the best I could do.
See you in a few days and cross your fingers that some halls will have been decked by then.
I realize I could be pushing it with this post. You guys were great about the fudge cheese, but this might be the product that officially tips the scales in the other direction.
Soap Nuts. Yep, soap really does grown on trees. I saw these the other day and while I'm very open to new things, I hesitated. Could this really work? To be honest...I still don't know. I haven't tried mine yet. My main concern is that they work and are as economical as they're touted to be. I don't have to be sold on the chemical-free all-natural aspect. I'm in already on that because both of us have sensitive skin over here.
I don't want to jump on the bandwagon until I'm sure that two nuts really will do a whole load of warm or hot water wash. I saw a large box for $9.99 and while it was a better deal, I opted for the sample size. I don't use fabric softener ever, so reading that these little nuts are also fabric softening was appealing.
Apparently, using them in cold water is a bit more of a process, but they still work. You can read the F.A.Q.s here...Try not to be immature and tee-hee when you see the "my nuts are all sticky" dilemma. I'm bound get a few more readers from Google searches from that line!
I'll keep you posted. Let's cross our fingers because they're 100% natural, free of anything even remotely harmful and if they work...extremely economical.
Oranges and elves go together so well don't you think?
I say he's happier here....
than he is here. It's the original Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.
Here he's quietly contemplating his role in life now that the North Pole has officially begun laying workers off on account of the Handmade Holiday craze. He's wishing he'd supported the Union. North Pole Workers Unite!
I can honestly say that when I look over my Self Improvement
500 page notebook list I can't find a single line having to do with "learn to give or appreciate more". It's the one thing I feel very good about.
I love to give and I am a fairly good receiver. I used to not be. I always gave (often in inappropriate quantities), but had a very hard time opening gifts in front of people. It felt like pressure. I've learned to give without anxiety (my gift is too much, not enough etc) and in time I've learned to be a good receiver. I open gifts enthusiastically and love doing it. I'm also good at giving less tangible things things like my time and I give to various social causes as I'm able.
Exchanging gifts can be fun, but really...does there always have to be an exchange? My friend and I just had a discussion about this because things are tight financially for both of us. She suggested that perhaps we just do cards. My heart sank. She's someone who truly appreciates the fun in small presents and giving to her is a pleasure that I've been preparing for. I get so much joy from sending her a small holiday box that the thought I might not is very disappointing...though I do see her point.
I just sent her a message urgently explaining that exchanging isn't necessary. More than likely someone will drop off a present for me this year unexpectedly. When this happens, I will not scramble frantically to find something to give back or make an excuse about how I feel bad or say "I didn't know we were exchanging" etc. I'll open it happily. I give to people because I want to and not because I have to and I expect people to feel the same about me. I certainly don't want obligatory "Gotta get something for Laura" gifts. However, I never want to make someone feel uncomfortable or bad like in the case of my friend. She knows me well enough to know how I feel about such things, but she thought we should broach the topic. Plus, I receive from her by way of support at 2 am when I'm franticly trying to get an order filled and realized I made a mistake on pricing! She can trust me (and she knows this) not to secretly wish she had sent me a box too. Plus, she's given to me spontaneously many time...my all-time favorite tea mug is a gift from her.
Now, having said that. I am all for simplifying and it's funny how in the midst of blogland and all this talk of handmade holidays, it looks might complicated out there. Everyone is trying to get things sewn, glued, baked or knitted. It's exciting to watch and while most of the gifts I'm giving are handmade or handmade by someone on Etsy, I do have a few store bought staples that I make no apologies for.
Look at this organic chocolate from Theo Chocolate's 3400 Phinney line. The art on the wrapper is a gift in my opinion. Look at the colors!!! I love it. I'm not as big a chocolate nut as some women, but I like it in small amounts. Theo is located in Seattle. You people in Seattle have it made in the shade (except for recently with the flooding. Really, it's a disaster for some)! I wrapped these bars with paper scraps, vintage ribbon and bias tape. Who wouldn't love to receive one?
Then we have a pair of Divine's Fair-trade bars. I love how pretty these look.
I love good quality incense. I burn a lot and cannot deal with overly synthetic headache inducing scents, so I really appreciate Shoyeido. All the scents are soft and in every package there's a tiny ceramic tile burner. Plus, there's no wood stick. Just pure incense. If you purchase a gift set, you can break it up.
These are from their Angelic Line and even Mark can handle the scent (he hates incense and smoke with a passion usually reserved for people who harm children, animals and the elderly).
All these little gifts are under $6.00 and I have no problem giving someone a beautifully wrapped candy bar as a sole gift. It's simple and to the person who follows my written instructions (that it be enjoyed slowly, privately and in its entirety) to the letter, will be left with an energetic imprint of ecstasy that will last a lifetime.
Know your audience of course. Some people just can't get behind the Dark Chocolate & Bread Bar.
"An innovative twist on a traditional pairing, featuring dark chocolate with buttery, toasted artisan breadcrumbs and the perfect amount of salt."
Or maybe they could have if I hadn't already used it to give myself the energetic imprint of ecstasy! It's called self-love people and I'm so damn in love with myself I might have to divorce Mark!
By the way...the designer of those chocolate wrappers is Zaara (Márta Windeisen)at Kittenchops. I love her work.
This is going to be a jam packed post...we have St. Nick's Day, a tag, calendula oil, felted soaps and I'll be closing with a link to the best centuries old Italian Easter Bread recipe in the world.
When I first moved to Wisconsin I was completely unaware of St. Nick's Day. My mother in-law insisted it was a holiday children celebrated everywhere and I felt extremely duped by my parents. However, I've since learned that while it's celebrated all across Europe, in the United States it's more of a Midwestern thing or a tradition carried on in areas where there are lots of Germans. This is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:
"Saint Nicholas Day is a festival for children in much of Europe
related to surviving legends of the saint, and particularly his
reputation as a bringer of gifts. The American Santa Claus derives from these legends. "Santa Claus" is itself derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas".
Every year Mark and I exchange small gifts. For example this year I presented him with a small pottery bowl filled with Reese's Peanut Butter Trees and he gave me (I chose) these:
There's no way to describe these wonders made by Leah over at Homework. My bars (one for me-the other two are gifts) arrived today and I wasn't sure what to expect. Wow! Olive oil soap completely encased in its own felted wool package and ready to accompany you into the shower or bath. It's a gently exfoliating washcloth and soap all in one! Use for 3 months and then you're left with a little felted ball. They're in her Etsy shop at $15.00 for three bars. Plus, if you're lucky enough to live in the Seattle area, she does workshops in her home and will show you how to make these little wonders. That's the generous of spirit kind of blogger I like!
I have to give myself a pat on the back for the photo. You regular Kitchenettes know my photo taking abilities are often in question, but I love how the one of the soaps came out!
I made calendula infused oil the other day. This is an herbal infused oil that's an excellent soother of all irritated skin (even diaper rash). In fact, it's especially good for skin issues like psoriasis and eczema. Once made, it may be added to any skin care product you make or you may use it straight out of the bottle to treat minor cuts.
I make it because in the winter I tend to get these little dry irritated patches on my face. Also, if you know anyone with psoriasis, you'll do them an enormous favor by making them a bottle.
It's simple and calls for the following:
It is important to note that most recipes call for olive oil, but I got to thinking about how the vivid orange of calendula and the bright yellow of sunflowers go so well together. I decided that a little color therapy was in order and that these two would probably be friends in the field so why not the bottle too?
I also left out quantities...Just cover whatever amount of flowers you use with oil. The flowers are absorbent, so you'll find they soak up a lot of oil. I used eight ounces of oil and two cups of flowers. I mixed and mixed so the flowers would be coated and floating on half an inch or so of oil. How many times did I just type oil?
Here is the important part. You can let it steep in a crockpot or a saucepan on low for two to 12 hours. If making a baby bottom oil, just do two hours. If you're making it for someone with psoriasis or eczema, the longer you steep it the better. Two hour oil has a light herby scent and is light in color. Twelve hour oil has a deep strong scent that you may or may not like.
You must let it cool before you strain it (use a fine mesh strainer-and squeeze all the oil you can out of the flowers) into your favorite jar. Not only to protect the jar, but also to prevent burns. It's hot oil!
As a word of caution...please do not leave the house with the crockpot turned on thinking you'll come home to perfect oil. Your brand of crockpot could be better than mine and maybe your low is still hot enough to begin burning the flowers. I have slightly
burned toasted the flowers before, but the resulting oil was extra rich even if a little strong smelling.
Add your oil to any salve or balm you want. It's good stuff. If you decide to order some Calendula, keep in mind that it's light. The bag in the picture above is only four ounces and its bulk could easily fill a large mixing bowl.
You can also make strong calendula tea and store it for a week or so in the fridge to mist on irritated skin as needed.
My pictures of the straining process were horrendous. I'm sorry. This site provides some interesting information on the folklore of Calendula. It, like rose, is linked with the Virgin Mary. I may not be religious, but I love symbolic religious associations.
OK. Now for the tag! I was tagged by Susan in a Seven Random Things tag! OK, let's see if I can keep it short and sweet.
I love writing about myself (in case you haven't noticed), but I know some people prefer not to be tagged...If you want to participate, just post seven random things about yourself on your blog and that you were tagged by me. Then tag a few more blogs and let the blogger know that you tagged her (or him). Attention: this is a choice...no hard feelings if you don't respond to a tag!
Janice: Check out her dad's recipe for the Italian Anise bread pictured at the top of this post.
Christine: I love the snowflake card.
Judi: She's a new blogger, go say hello!
Leigh: Because she and I are the last to know about the whole ironing napkins onto cardstock phenomenon.
Sarah: Because I like that she says this: " I don't have a book, shop, manuscript in production or line of anything, this is just a blog, about me and my life."
Mary Ellen: I like the crushed velvet strawberry ornament tutorial.
OK. I hope I haven't worn out my welcome with this long post!
I had to get this game as soon as I saw it at St. Vincent's because of the cute junior executives on the box. It was especially fun to note that if this wallet deal doesn't work out I can always look into my other options:
I've written before that I like to seal little symbols of prosperity within the wallets under the folds where the owner will never see them. I get a kick out of knowing the wallets are imbibed with good wishes and I'm always on the lookout for new things to include. Vintage play money is my newest addition. There's nothing like a little old money to make me feel like everyone's taken care of!
I love the new "little guys" ...they won't be working their way into the shop because they're for a special order, but next week I'll have the shop fully stocked! Finally!
I wasn't at all sure about this pattern, but I think it turned out well.
Now that my two large orders are done I feel like I can get back into the kitchen! Tomorrow I'm making calendula infused sunflower oil...A must have for all skin types! Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here's one of my favorite blogland holiday photos. I'm horrified to say that I can't reference the source because last year when I saw it I immediately saved to use as a private meditation photo and never saved the blog name.
Please, if you recognize your tree, don't be outraged...I always give credit where credit is due...just message me and I'll link to you right away! Seriously Kitchenettes, it makes me feel so peaceful. The lights are bright, but I imagine them softly illuminating the whole room (looks like an old city apartment to me) and put myself there on a comfy couch, in total silence (maybe the occasional siren since it's the city), with a cat, snow coming down and more visible through the window because of a streetlight and maybe it's two a.m. and I've decided to just fall asleep on the couch. Who needs Shakti Gawain? (Just kidding Shakti!).
First let me say I just noticed a typo on one of my little ingredient signs...Hell's bells!!! Oh well, I forgive myself and I'll move right along...nobody click to enlarge the picture!
People often associate the scents of baking during the holidays and while I love nothing more than the scent of spicy cookies just out of the oven, it's also uplifting to walk into a house fragrant with citruses and florals from a morning of natural cosmetic making.
I'm an aromatherapist and used to hold workshops on making your own products and I taught classes to introduce people to ingredients, essential oil safety and the basics of skincare in general.
Aromatherapy is a subject I'm passionate about, but I'll try not to get too preachy or go on for two hundred paragraphs. Notice I said I'll try...not that I promise!
Renaissance is one of my favorite products even though it isn't that pretty. It's a great facial softener and the glycerin draws moisture to the skin. If you're familiar with Lush's Angels On Bare Skin, you'll note the similarities, however I use ground lavender and this darkens the scrub a bit. I'm a Lush fan, but am annoyed they haven't caught on how sharp the ends of dried lavender can be. OUCH!
This recipe can be halved or quartered easily and while I tried to give accurate measurements, I make these things rather intuitively (Have you ever watched Nigella cook? You get the picture.)
Renaissance Facial & Body Scrub
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add glycerin a little at a time and work in with a spoon...this may require your hands...I like to knead it in. Add more clay if you need to. After some vigorous work, you should have a mound with a play-dough- like texture and you can turn it out onto the counter or a breadboard. Note: Kaolin clay can be dusty as you work with it...don't include the children at this stage because breathing in Kaolin can irritate new and sensitive noses!
I wasn't lying when I said it isn't pretty! The little brown flecks are just that...flecks of almond skin, not chunks. You must be diligent if you choose to grind your own almonds rather than use these:
Protecting your skin is crucial and you don't want to have any sharp bits of almond doing damage.
Now you can add your essential oils drop by drop directly on top of the kaolin mixture. Give the mixture a few moments to absorb the essential oil before you begin kneading it in. Use any combination of the oils you feel pulled to (40 drops total). The oils I've listed are considered safe, however, pregnant women should probably avoid rose...it's a wonderful oil, but in quantities far greater than I've suggested, it's been known to stimulate contractions...better safe than sorry.
Once you've kneaded the oils into the scrub it's completely done and ready to store in an airtight container until use. Directions coming soon...But first, here are a few suggestions:
Shape and roll in flower powder, crushed herbs, almonds or even poppy seeds (no poppy seeds if you use it as a facial scrub-they're too abrasive for facial skin).
Or do as I do...shape into into a log, roll in gorgeous bright orange calendula flowers and slice:
Package for yourself or gift giving in any way that suits you. Renaissance doesn't need refrigeration and will keep for about one month in an airtight container.
I love giving it away in little gift bags or just looking at it in my prized mini-cast iron tub!
Try using pretty muffin papers, little tins or jars. I made the box based on a candy box I once had.
Before I give you directions that you can copy and include with gifts, let me explain a little about the dangers of over-exfoliating. When you exfoliate for the the first time your skin always feels so incredibly soft that you just can't keep your hands off it! A few days later the newfound softness seems to disappear, so we feel the need to try it again. Most women scrub too hard...this creates a skincare nightmare from hell because without even realizing it, we abrade our skin.
It feels soft at first, but then the abraded skin (usually unnoticed) heals a little tougher than it was originally. We feel dry, crave the softness, so again...we pull out the scrub and the process begins again. Each time we do this, we damage our skin and it heals a little rougher...Over time we actually damage our skin and it can be impossible to ever get that first time softness again. You must not rub any scrub (sugar or salt included) into your skin...Gently press and smooth it over your body. Vigorous rubbing of a scrub over your hips and thighs will cause you to lose softness and worse...damage the texture of your skin.
How To Use Renaissance Scrub
Take an olive size amount and rub it between your palms under warm water. This will distribute it evenly in your hands. Bring palms to face and lightly press...do not rub. Start at your forehead and work down to décolleté (avoiding eye area). Rinse thoroughly and follow with your normal skincare routine.
Press a plum sized amount into a flat disc in your hands. Wet with warm water while in the shower or bath and gently press and roll over skin. Rinse and follow with your favorite lotion or body oil.
National Association For Holistic Aromatherapy
Visit This Site For Great Recipes:
Indie Beauty Network
Visit This Blog For A Homemade Linen Water Tutorial:
The Scent of Water
Ever since I first discovered blogs (I still say blog is an ugly word) and began reading them regularly I've been drawn to one thing. December posts.
When I find a new blog to love, I pour through the archives hoping to get a real sense of the blogger (usually women). December is always the month I begin with. There's just something about seeing how other people celebrate (or not) that intrigues me.
I'm not religious and belong to no organized faith, but I've written before that I consider myself to be very spiritual...or I contemplate my own beliefs quite a bit. Our family celebrates Christmas, but as a secular holiday and we have another side that also celebrates Hanukkah. I mark the solstice and have been known to make a yule log or two in my time, but I think more than anything, my mother helped me view the season as a time for celebrating the birth of the magical child.
Now, this may offend people and this isn't my intention, but I mean the birth of Jesus as a symbol of the magical child in us all. Can you imagine how different the world would be if every single child born on this planet was treated as a potential savior? What if we dropped to our knees at every single birth announcement and what if each of us had been treated with such care in our own childhoods?
I didn't have best childhood and certainly didn't have the worst, but I made it through. Holidays used to depress me and I found myself wishing December would just be done quickly. The days were stressful and I seemed to pick up on everyone's hopes, fears and disappointments. In time, it's become easier and the whole celebrating the magic has become fun for me (for the most part). I like to take the time to do fun things and making skin care products to give away is one of them.
I plan to post a lot this month and the picture above is a preview of what's coming tomorrow. A fantastic facial and body scrub I call Renaissance. It can be made into any shape you desire...even cut out with cookie cutters and it is 100% natural...no artificial colors, preservatives or fragrances.