The Best Intentions Don’t Always Count
I have to say that the best types of Holiday gifts are handmade. The thought, the time, the creativity put into them brings to fruition a tangible object to remind you of that person’s caring and presence in your life.
So, another year has gone by and I do not have all the hand-made gifts prepared for my family.
What is that saying about the road being paved with good intentions?
Well, I wouldn’t say I’m going to hell, but – me in a nutshell – I have all this ambition to do wonderful things, but in the end they just never get done.
I have all these wonderful ideas saved on Pinterest, bookmarked on my web browser, and even printed out and left getting crinkled and stained on my kitchen island at home. All these ideas, collecting dust and becoming tarnished in the back of my mind – it’s no wonder I always feel like I’m forgetting to do something.
This year, I had it in mind to create something wonderful for everyone in my family from herbs and plants I grew in my very own garden. However, the rainy summer season didn’t leave me with much to use. Not to mention, what little time I had when I wasn’t working was used for harnessing my writing, raising my children, and trying to keep that one scrap of energy left for my wonderful, loving, partner in crime – husband.
One of my favorite places for herbal remedies and creative ideas is Mountain Rose Herbs. Not only do they give you recipes and ideas, but they even have most of the ingredients. Remember that quality and standards are always important as well. The herbs you get from Mountain Rose Herbs are grown by them and/or ethically sourced, not farmed in some 3rd world country with children harvesting and fertilizing the products with their tears….(shivers down my spine).
If you can’t find supplies there, you can find them on Amazon, sometimes even cheaper. Things like fancy jars, droppers, decorative ribbons and such are easily found on Amazon.
Here are some gift ideas I had for this year that never came to be.
How to Make Natural Fire Starters
Possible herbs, spices and resins:
- Organic bay leaf
- Organic cinnamon sticks
- Organic sweet orange peel
- Organic whole cloves or powder)
- Organic star anise
- Organic rosemary leaf
- Organic cedar leaf (or dry wild-harvested evergreen leaves)
- Organic eucalyptus leaf
- Organic lavender flowers
- Frankincense resin (or powder)
- Copal resin
Other supplies and ingredients:
- Cupcake Papers
- Beeswax (2 cups of beeswax pastilles or about 230 grams will make about 12 fire starters)
- Candle wick or string—12 pieces cut to about 4 inches
- Parchment paper
- Begin heating beeswax in a double boiler.
- Place cupcake papers in a cupcake pan.
- Fill cupcake liners 1/4 to 1/2 full with herb mixture of choice. (You’ll want to reserve your more beautiful herbs for the topping, so I like to use evergreens, herbal powders, resins and orange peel in the bottom of the liners).
- Once beeswax is melted, dip your wicks to lightly coat with wax and set aside on parchment paper.
- Begin pouring rest of melted wax over the herbs in the cupcake liners until it just covers the material (about 2-3 tablespoons each).
- Using a cinnamon stick or chop stick, push a wick down to the bottom of each cupcake paper OR create a U-shape with the wick and stuff both ends all the way down. You can then snip after drying to create a double-wick for faster burning.
- Add your more decorative ingredients on the top and allow to fully cool.
- Snip your wicks to about 1 inch.
- Pouring three fire starters at a time makes it easy to check on them as they begin to dry. Sometimes the wicks need rebalancing.
- If your mixture dries before you can add your toppings, you can pop the cupcake pan in the oven on the lowest settling to melt the wax.
- Cleaning a beeswax mess is always a common question! The best way is to melt the wax on your utensils or cupcake pan and then wipe away with a disposable rag or paper towel. Then you can wash it with soap and hot water.
- You can fill the cupcake papers all the way if you’d like, but they take much longer to burn and if you’re looking to get your fire going faster, I recommend only filling to the 1/4 or 1/2 mark.
Living in the North County, upstate New York, a lot of my family members use wood heat, so this kind of gift would be ideal…
Another homemade gift idea for some relaxation, and “me-time” for my loved ones, would be a fancied up recycled jar with bath bomb “yummies” inside.
Fizzing Lavender Bath Bomb Powder
Makes enough for one bath.
- 3/4 cup baking soda
- 20 drops organic lavender essential oil
- 1/4 cup non-GMO citric acid
- 1 Tbsp. organic lavender flowers (optional)
- 1 tsp. organic jojoba oil
- In a bowl, combine baking soda and lavender essential oil and stir to combine.
- Add citric acid, lavender flowers, and jojoba oil. Mix thoroughly.
- If making ahead, store in airtight container in cool, dark area away from moisture and out of the reach of children and pets.
To Use: Pour the mixture in the bath after the tub is filled to take full advantage of the fizz
HECK! I MIGHT EVEN JUST MAKE THIS FOR MYSELF (said in a Harry Caray voice – you do remember who Harry Caray is, right?)
So I guess the next couple of weeks are going to involve the usual scrounging to buy gifts for everyone….wish me luck!