DIY + Holiday Spa Bath Gifts

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It’s Christmas time!!!!

It’s official, Starbucks has put out their holiday cup, Target is a mad house on the weekends, and the radio stations are playing nonstop Christmas music. Yep, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Have you watched Love Actually, brought back the elf, or put up the tree yet? You have? Welcome to the elite team of holiday overachievers. I’m just picking on you. Maybe you have it all together or, maybe you are the one waking up in the middle of the night because, CRAP! you forgot to move the elf again!!! No matter what side you land on, most if not all of us, will be on the hunt for gifts. And while Amazon gets a good workout around this time of year at my house too, I wanted to give some sustainable gifts as well.

After Halloween, I roasted and pureed our ol’ Jack-O-lantern since I didn’t want to waste that beautiful pumpkin. That left me with an abundance of pumpkin puree. Not a bad thing since I froze a good portion to use for Thanksgiving, but I was still left wondering how I could use it all. That is when I remembered that pumpkin is full of wonderful enzymes that are great for the skin. And who doesn’t love pumpkin everything, right?

Below are two recipes that I whipped up.

I think they would make great sustainable gifts.

Spice Milk Bath

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Supplies:

1/2 cup oatmeal or oat flour

1 cup powdered milk

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (I make my own with this recipe)

What to do:

The first thing I needed to do was to make oat flour. This is as easy as can be. I added 1/2 cup of oatmeal to a food processor and pulsed until it was a fine powder.

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Next, add all ingredients into a jar and shake it all up. You can always leave the milk bath in the jar that you used to make it. I found milk bottles at the Target dollar spot for $3 for a pack of two and thought that was a nice touch. This recipe filled up one and a half of the bottles.

Pumpkin Pie Body Scrub

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Supplies:

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sugar

Oil (I used coconut oil, almond, and vitamin E oil but you could use any natural oil)

What to do:

The exact measurements of sugar and oil are not necessary. I mixed the sugar scrub to consistency. Add the sugar first, then pumpkin, spices, vanilla and lastly, add the oil a little at a time. You want the mixture to hold its form when you grab a spoonful and put it into  your hand. Add more sugar if it is too oily and more oil if it is too dry.

I had to double the recipe to almost fill this giant jar that I found at the Target dollar spot.

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I am going to tell you to be prepared to make an extra batch of both of these for yourself. It is hard to resist a hot bath on a chilly winter night. And when you come out smelling like pumpkin pie, you will be hard to resist too.

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Me being a little ridiculous with the pumpkin from head to toe, literary. Pumpkin hair mask, pumpkin face mask, and later a pumpkin foot mask.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Are you ready for the holidays? Have you decked the halls? Tell me how your holiday season is going for you.

Also, let me know in the comments if you are interested in the other pumpkin recipes that I tried out.

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DIY + Zero-Waste Thanksgiving Centerpiece

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I’m learning that the holidays are going to take a little extra creativity if I want to keep my commitment to a  zero-waste home.

That’s ok, I like a good challenge.

With Thanksgiving only days away, I wracked my brain for something sustainable to decorate the dinner table. With  a eucalyptus tree growing in the back yard and the leftover mini pumpkins from Halloween, I whipped up something simple and easy.

Because this time of year does not need anything else to add to the complication. As I’m sure that we can all agree.

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DIY + Teach Your Baby To Read

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The kids have gone back to school. The lunches are packed, first day photos have been posted and moms everywhere let out a sigh of relief as they no longer need to plan activities to occupy their children’s days.

I have a few years before I will need to start back to school planning, but I thought this would be a wonderful time to start a learning routine of our own. Now at 7 months old I know that my little guy is learning and growing every day. In fact, studies show that 60% of all the energy that an infant will expend is concentrated in brain development. This means that if a baby’s body grew at the same rate as their brain, then by one month of age they would weigh 170 pounds. Yikes!

With this information, I thought it was a good time to start using flash cards to help my baby’s brain development. These flash cards are similar to the flash cards that I remember using when I was learning to read. However, starting when your baby is between 6-9 months old greatly improves the chances of having an early reader. This makes sense since children’s brains have formed 1000 trillion connections between neurons by the age of 3.

So pull out your ruler, glue stick, and scissors (assuming you could find any along the barren school supply aisles) because it’s time to get a little crafty.

 

You will need:

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  • Cardstock – I used 140 lb. weight
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Self-adhesive laminate sheets (optional) I found them at target for under $7 a pack and needed two packs.
  • Printable ABC’s – click here and here.

Now the easiest way to create these cards would be to print the images directly onto the cardstock. I found that my printer would not take the thicker cardstock that I used. I simply printed the ABC’s on printer paper and cut them out. Then I glued them onto the cards.

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1. Cut out your cards.

Measure your cardstock (or eyeball if you like to live dangerously) and draw lines where you will cut out your cards. Cut the cards out.

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2. Paste

Glue the ABC’s to the card stock. Letters on the front of the card and pictures on the back.

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3. Round the corners

Optional: round the corners and laminate the cards, then cut the cards out of the laminate sheets. I used a bottle cap to trace half circles to round the corners. I didn’t do this at first but after realizing that my 7-month old wants to eat everything I went back to the craft table.

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4. Admire your work

This is a pretty simple DIY as long as you don’t get frustrated with the laminating sheets. Follow the directs for your sheets carefully and work with half of the sheet at a time, pulling the backing apart slowly.

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When it’s time to learn, Bronson and I sit on the floor with the cards, a few books and toys. We aim for a 30-minute lesson depending on his attention span that day. As I flip through the cards I start with the letter side first and pronounce the letter and word slowly a few times. Then, I flip the card over to show him the picture side and pronounce the word again.

We have been practicing baby sign language so as I show the picture side, I also do the sign for that word. I keep my phone close by in case I need to look up a sign that I haven’t memorized yet. After we are done with each card I hand the card to him so that he can explore it. Once we have finished with all of the cards I scatter the deck so that he can play with them. I also say and sign any card he picks up.

 

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Do you have any fun games for teaching your little one? Have you ever tried baby sign language? Comment below and tell me about your experience or ideas.

DIY Charging Station

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I am sure that you know what it is like… Device after device with no real home. Every outlet in the house has a charger with something plugged into it. As time goes by we end up collecting phones, tablets, laptops and all the combinations in between. For me, the final straw came when my husband’s new job gave him both a business cell phone and a tablet. Great, something else that needs a plug.

I made this DIY when we still lived in our tiny apartment in D.C. As you can imagine space was precious and I didn’t enjoy fumbling or tripping over cords.

So let’s get started, shall we?

You will need:

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  • A shoe box
  • A surge protector/busbar/power strip/does anyone know what these things are actually called?
  • Contact paper. I’m loving the marble trend and I found my paper here, but I like this one more.
  • A craft knife
  • Your chargers and devices of course

 

First, cut holes into the box where you will want the charger cords to go. I used a bottle cap to trace circles on the bottom of the shoe box.

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Next, measure the shoe box and cut the contact paper. Simple enough right?  Cut the paper so that it is at least a half inch longer than the sides of the box. You will fold the edges into the box.

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Apply the contact paper to the box. I centered the box on the paper and folded up the long sides first. I worked from one side to the other removing the backing of the paper a little at a time as I went. It is not wise to remove the whole backing at once. You will regret it if you do, trust me. Then, I cut the corners so that I could fold the short sides like a present

Then, fold the extra top pieces down into the box.

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Go ahead and stop here since your children will need you for something. Note: Do not leave craft knife unattended. The kids will smell it out.

After you have folded the contact paper edges into the box, you can now cut out the circles. I did this by holding the box up to the light and then cut an asterisk. Then fold the triangles inside the box. I needed to add a little extra glue to hold the triangles down.

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Once you have cut out the circles you can decorate the box however you like. I used a gold paint pen to outline the edges of the box and the circles.

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Plug-in chargers and insert the power strip into the box. You have the option here to use the lid of the shoe box and cover that with paper too. Then you would cut out a circle for the cord to the power strip. I lost the lid to my shoe box so I did not do that step. I also tied the charger cords with twist ties.

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Pull charger ends out of the box. Plug in every device in your house that needs a new home. I’ve been stacking the tablets under or on top of the box while charging.

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Smile and admire your hard work. It’s not easy completing a DIY project with little ones running around. Pat yourself on the back and eat some chocolate. Cheers!