Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Make your own body lotion and hand cream!


OK, I was going to keep this idea under wraps since I'm planning on giving them as holiday gifts this year. But, I just can't keep it to myself. It's too good - I must share!

First of all - a confession: I've been addicted Burt's Bees body lotion and Neutrogena hand cream for years. Problem is, they are expensive, and often when something is expensive I begin to wonder if I could make it myself somehow (i.e. candles, soap, etc...) Often I feel like a complete nut as I know most normal people don't think that way. :-)

Anyways, I came across a neat blog recently - A Sonoma Garden (I added it to my blogroll on the right) that had recipes for homemade body lotion and hand cream. I was fascinated. They seemed easy enough- so I gathered my supplies and couldn't wait to get to work.

So, last night, I tried my hand at making the body lotion and beeswax hand cream. I cannot BELIEVE how wonderful they are. While they were still warm, I slathered them all over and was quite impressed. They felt clean and moisturizing. When I went to bed, I coated my hands and even my eye area with the beeswax hand cream. I woke up nice and moisturized. Be forewarned that the beeswax cream is super rich and goes on greasy, but absorbs quickly.

And they couldn't have been easier to make! Super quick, hardly any mess -I easily whipped up a half batch of each in less than 10 minutes (I did half batches just to see how I liked them).
I do like a scented lotion, so I made both with lavender essential oil, which is one of my favorite scents on earth. You can scent them with anything you like. I think I'll try a citrus blend next. The beeswax cream actually smelled sweet like honey and didn't really need any additional scent.

With no preservatives, they do have a short shelf life, so if you are giving them as gifts, just make them right before you give them and tell your recipient to use them right away.

Here are the links for both recipes:

Body Lotion

Beeswax Hand Cream

I ordered my emulsifying wax, beeswax pastilles, and vitamin E oil from Brambleberry. I just used Costco's organic extra virgin olive oil and the organic extra virgin coconut oil that I had on hand. I purchased half pint wide mouth canning jars to put them in. The lotion recipe fills approximately 2 of those jars, and the beeswax hand cream fills approximately 1.

P.S. I'm on Pinterest now! It's SO much fun. Let me know if you need an invite!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Great deal on gift wrap for the holidays!

When I was a little girl, I loved going to the department store gift wrap department with my mom. We would shop at May Company, or Sears, or Montgomery Ward, and when my mom bought a gift we would take it to the gift wrap department, come back in about 10 minutes, and they would present us with a masterpiece. As a young girl I thought this was magical.

I would become quite enamored by all the gift wrapped boxes on display (remember that they were numbered?) and how amazing the package looked when we picked it up. Always totally "pro" with perfectly tucked in edges and dreamy big bows. I aptly observed that they were nothing like the packages my mom attempted to wrap at home (maybe that's why she took her purchases there). Ah, those were the good old days. I distinctly remember deciding that when I grew up, I would be a gift wrapper at a department store. It just seemed like the most fun anyone could have for a job.

Well, that never happened, but I still like to wrap packages. I have a thing for Kraft handled bags, gingham tissue and raffia bows. I like polka dots and stripes. I love packages that look like they came out of Country Living magazine. I guess I'm kind of old fashioned when it comes to how I like my packages wrapped. I don't like glossy paper, shiny silver or gold anything, but rather a simple package tied with twine and a piece of pine is right up my alley. And I adore organza ribbon.

Just thought I'd share a website that I love for wrapping supplies. They have the best deals on bags, ribbons, and such. I like to keep my wrapping supplies well stocked with a selection of all types of ribbons, assorted handled gift bags, cello bags, and tissue paper. It's much more economical to buy this stuff in bulk online instead of at retail stores, and once you stock up you are good for a long time. You really do save yourself both time and money in the long run. I was looking over my stash recently and realized my supply was getting low and that I needed to get stocked up for the holidays. So I went to my favorite site, Nashville Wraps and did some shopping. Check it out!

Also, on a different subject, but appropriate for the upcoming holidays - I just made these Oatmeal Cookies today and they are the bomb. I have been using a different recipe for years, but lately I couldn't seem to get them right and I was getting very frustrated. I heard someone rave about Ina's recipe and decided to give them a try. WOW are they good. I omitted the pecans and substituted chopped dried cherries for the raisins. I can't wait to let Drew try them, as he loves oatmeal cookies. I'm so excited to have this recipe! They came out beautiful and delicious.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Place Setting & Pumpkin Spice Granola


We hosted my side of the family (and my sister's husband's side as well) for Thanksgiving dinner last Saturday.

I wanted to make the tables festive (we had 18 guests - I did two long tables). I bought some fall flowers and added some of my roses to make low floral arrangements, and simply added tall crystal candlesticks and some medium size white pumpkins. I like little favors at each place, and first thought of a mini pumpkin but that seemed kind of redundant. I also didn't feel like buying 18 mini pumpkins only to throw them out the next day to make room for Christmas! I will roast the sugar pumpkins and make pumpkin puree but the rest go into the big green bin when the Christmas box comes out. That's just the way it is.

I came up with the idea of tweaking my favorite granola recipe and adding a few spices to go with the season. I put one cup portions into cello bags and made round labels to seal the bags. I think they turned out kinda cute, and the granola is amazing with the addition of warm fall spices! (Why didn't I think of this before?) I added a fall leaf to each plate and voila - an easy place setting.


Can you handle just one more recipe from me with the words "pumpkin spice"?? I promise this is it. :-)

Pumpkin Spice Granola

3 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups chopped unsalted nuts of your choice (I use walnuts and almonds)
1 cup shredded or shaved unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine oats, nuts, and coconut in a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt coconut oil with brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, and spices. Pour over dry mixture and stir well to coat.

Transfer mixture to two ungreased baking sheets and bake 1 hour or until golden, stirring every 20 minutes. Cool completely and store granola in airtight container.

Makes about 8 cups.

*note - you can easily double the recipe and bake on 3 sheets. Increase baking time by 5-10 minutes.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub


P.S. Little update: I used this in the shower and my skin was so soft afterwards! It scrubbed away dead skin and left a nice olive oil coat behind. Make some soon!!

I came across this yummy recipe online and just had to make some. It couldn't be easier, and wouldn't this make a great fall hostess gift? You can use it in the shower or even for your face or hands. To get these printable labels click here.


Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. sunflower oil or vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)

In a large bowl, mix sugars and pumpkin pie spice together to dissolve all lumps. Add oil and mix until blended (I found it needed a little extra than called for). Spoon into wide mouthed jars and label.

Makes four 8-oz jars

An easy variation is Vanilla Brown Sugar Scrub. Instead of the pumpkin pie spice, substitute 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Soap Preview


It's almost soap time! Here is what is on the curing rack right now:

Goat's Milk Soaps
Oatmeal Lavender
Green Clay, Clary Sage & Lemon
Peppermint Swirl
Grapefruit Ginger

All-Vegetable Oil Soaps
Cinnamon Latte Kitchen Soap
Orange Spice
& Calendula
Rosemary Lemon
Oatmeal Citrus

Key Lime


Soap goes on sale on
Monday morning, Dec. 5th at 7:00 a.m. (PST)
here on the blog!

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Verdict Reached!

Hello everyone, it's sure good to be back. We reached a verdict last Friday on the case I was on, and therefore I concluded my Jury Duty! It turned out to be 21 days of actual service, but we had a bit of a delay last week and didn't go in for 4 consecutive days. I was technically under obligation since September 27th, which seemed like a long time!

I have to say, though I didn't enjoy the "workin' woman" schedule and lifestyle, I really had a great time being on Jury Duty. Yes, some days were long, and some parts were tedious and dull, but for the most part, the case was very interesting and I enjoyed seeing our justice system in action. I also enjoyed hanging out with my fellow jurors. We all got along well and had a great time together. And the greatest thing was being treated to lunch with Rich almost every day! We had a great time exploring some fun downtown eats. I think I spoiled him a bit by being there every day. :-) My favorite spot we hit was Ginger Grass. We also enjoyed some rockin' Korean BBQ, a great torta at Grand Central Market, the Friday Farmer's Market, and of course, Phillipe!

The case involved a 20 year-old who died suddenly of complications of Diabetic Ketoacidosis, a condition that can occur when a diabetic's glucose levels go unchecked and skyrocket. This young man and
his family did not know he had developed diabetes, but he was taking a mental illness drug by the name of Zyprexa, which has direct links to diabetes. The family claims that there was not sufficient warning about this link in their literature (product label) or in the information the company's sales reps presented to physicians, and that their doctor wasn't negligent but simply uninformed, and/or negatively influenced by Zyprexa's sales reps trying to downplay the serious side effects of the drug. We heard from many doctors, experts, and witnesses, including the parents. It became clearly evident that this young man's doctor fell very short of giving him the care and progress monitoring that was necessary when on such serious drugs. He had him on 8-9 drugs off and on (including 2 other anti-pyschotics), with no monitoring of his progress or side effects. Add to that, parents that failed to recognize his illness signs and you have a very tragic situation.

The parents were suing the drug company, Eli Lilly & Co., because they believed the use of Zyprexa caused their son's diabetes, and therefore, his death. The jury was almost unanimous in concluding that there were multiple factors contributing to his death that the blame could not solely be placed on Zyprexa. In addition, after much evidence we felt that the drug warnings were sufficient, and were such that a doctor would recognize the dangers of using it. We sided with the defendant and awarded none of the $40 million the family was seeking.
Here is an article about my case, if you are interested.

I had many thoughts about this case. It was a sad case. Really, the beginning of the tragedy for me was the fact that the parents divorced when their son was only 5, and because he was also Autistic, this was especially difficult for him. His parents' divorce was very unfriendly and they didn't speak nor were they united on his care during the remainder of his life. As he grew older, he got worse and worse in his violent condition until the mother (without the father's knowledge) turned to anti-psychotic drugs to control his aggression. And, unfortunately, she chose a doctor (and stayed with him for 4 years until her son's death) who provided sub-standard care. There were many tragic elements but I couldn't help think that the beginning point was the breakdown of the family. How much our children's stability, well being, and health depends on the strength of our marriages! This case was a sober reminder of that. I firmly believe that if the boy had had a stable family, with both parents working together for his good, that there might have been a better outcome.

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