We Deserve This

Beating the Winter Blahs

January 18, 2011

The grey of winter has settled here in Northern Colorado, and the kids and I are doing are best to stay warm and cozy. This is always the time of year when I find myself in need of self-care and nurturing, heading into the herb closet to make salves, soaps and bath remedies.

Over the past few days, a lot of lotion bars have been made, wrapped, stored and gifted. In anticipation of a new little one, diaper ointments and baby oils have been thoroughly researched, and the kids and I have found and modified our favorite recipes.

Lotion bars are one of the true great inventions. A solid bar of beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter and a touch of lavender makes these smell great, and are a fun way to get the nutrients that the skin needs with out the worry of the kiddos spilling oil all over the floor.

Made into a massage bar form, these are a great gift for just about anyone, and are always part of our Valentine’s Day gifting to friends and family. I am sure that there are tons of recipes for many different types of lotion bars, but our favorite has been a quick and easy combo of oils and beeswax that gives the bar a solid texture that melts to the warmth of the hands.

4 oz of beeswax
4 oz cocoa butter
4 oz shea butter
2 oz Jojoba oil
10-15 drops of lavender essential oil
Melt everything together in a double broiler and pour into ready made molds. Allow to harden for 24 hours, remove from the molds and allow to harden for another 24-48 hours.
Enjoy!
To combat colds, flus and the general blahs of winter, the boys and I try to do steam inhalations as often as we need, especially living at above 5000 ft where the dryness is about more than you can take in the winter months. We have an endless combination of dried herbs and oils that we use, but lately we have been loving a combo of peppermint, spearmint and ginger root. 
A few tablespoons of your favorite herbs, a few essential oils (if needed), some hot water and a towel can make any winter day a little bit easier. I have been surprised by my kids love of steam, and their willingness to stand over a bowl of hot water, taking deep breaths, for a good 20 minutes. It really does help to alleviate many of the issues that we see during the winter months, and no matter what, it always feels a bit relaxing as well. 
The winter months can be rough, but I always feel like a few home remedies can make the devastating effects of the weather a little bit easier. 

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In late December, as the Sun had just completed it’s shortest day, one of my girlfriends (who I adore, just so to be clear) remarked to me, “You must have a lot of free time on your hands to do what you do”. She was referring to the Solstice Mat that I had made for the boys, and she had a complete look of perplexity on her face as to what in the heck it was that she was holding.

Okay, we can go with free time.

I remember feeling a bit ticked off at that remark. Free time. As in time that is just my own? I am not even sure that I would truly know what that looks like anymore, but like I said, we can go with free time if that is how she sees it.

That is the notion isn’t it? That if you craft, if you create, if you enjoy such things as art, music, and the natural world, you must have a lot of “free time” to be spending. We live in an age where art and music are the lowest of priorities in education, and their benefits constantly questioned. We live in a time where legislation is being passed to regulate the handmade industry, and it’s safety questioned (I am still trying to figure this one out). In hearing such a statement as the one my girlfriend uttered, it begs the question (at least to me), where are we finding the beauty that as human beings, we so desperately need?

As it turns out, I don’t have a lot of free time,  just a lot of insomnia. The snack mat in question was made at 4 am, while I was waiting for my children to wake back up to go to a drumming circle on the Solstice. It was done somewhere between the Lunar Eclipse and the rise of the sun, and I was craving something special to mark the occasion.

One of the biggest compliments that my kids could give me is that I made their life more beautiful. That somehow the small mama made treasures that they have been given made a difference, and a positive one, in their lives. That may never happen, I may never hear it, but I can certainly wish. The appreciation that they show to those who create leads me to believe that children understand the work that artists put into their craft., and that if fostered, they too will believe that expressing themselves through creativity can and will make the world a more beautiful place.

About 90% of what I make everyday is purely about function. I make baby clothes for the wee one, new jammies for the boys, reusable grocery bags or library totes, etc. It serves a purpose that my family needs, it connects me with the millions of women who have come before me, and it makes me feel a sense of self-worth about the joys of being female in today’s mass produced world.

It also makes me feel like my world has just a little bit more beauty.

The handbag, made from a few favorite scraps,  that I stitched up for New year’s Eve that made my pregnant and swollen belly seem less pronounced, and me feel a little bit more like a woman, rather than a whale at the sea park.

The small floral change purses that carry everything from my pens to my change that I could buy at the store for 1/2 the price and the time, but that always bring a smile to my face for when I grab for them.

The old placemats that I loved so much, but that needed a new life. They went from my table to my luggage as durable shoe bags.

The small cup that I eat every bowl of yogurt in, and that gets my morning off to the sweetest of starts.

None of these projects are mind-blowing, but to me they just make the everyday seem a little sweeter, and less mundane. Life is hard, no question. There is tragedy everywhere and anywhere you look, but there is beauty too, and I am coming to realize that we can’t just be content with trying to seek it out in the obvious places: A baby’s smile, the sunset, etc. We have to be willing to create it, and with our own two hands.

Do I think that a Solstice mat will solve the problems with world peace? No (although how cool would it be if it could?). Do I think that by being able to create, or honoring the creativity in others, that somehow the difficulty of the world will not find me or my family? Absolutely not. I just want to believe that by making beauty a priority, somehow I might lessen the pain that life can bring. That in the face of difficulty, we might be able to find some meaning. I don’t want to have to seek out a sunset or a baby’s smile to do that, I want to find it right here in my home, in our everyday.

I also do not believe that we have to live a life where we sew, knit and do yoga everyday to find these things. It is simply the value of beauty that we have to hold in order for us to see it, to find it. Choosing to use our best plates, to cook a pretty meal, to play soft music does the trick. We don’t have to make everything we wear or create our own line of jewelry to find beauty in our homes, and in the everyday.

If I am wrong, what have I lost? At least my shoes were well protected, my handbag was cute, and my pencils were organized.

That’s something.

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