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Warmth — Page 2


Chocolate Warmth

August 28, 2009

I got you on the title, didn’t I?

I know what you are expecting, warm chocolate cookies, banana and chocolate bread. Nope, sorry. Today is warm chocolate lavender oil.

When I had my first son, infant massage was on it’s way back as a method to calm and soothe babies (and I think their parents as well). Jacob and I would always end our evening with a bath, and he loved to float with his ears immersed in the water (they say it replicates the sound of the womb). Before we would get into the tub, I would plug my heating pad in and place it under two towels to warm them up. As soon as we were out we would dry him off, and then place him on one towel, with the other over top. My husband and I took a class right after he was born, and we had our nightly list of massage techniques to use for different issues that might be going on at the time.

Jacob loved it, and to this day he will not go to bed without his massage (“Mama, don’t forget the chocolate oil”). Obviously as children get older, the way that we massage them becomes very different, but some warm oil on the boys backs before bed, or on their tummies when they are not feeling well, or a good head massage when the day has been a bit overwhelming always seems to work.

I love anything having to do with a spa, but not being able to afford going much leaves me with the need to try and recreate it myself. My mom and dad still tell the story that growing up, I loved candles and bath salts like most women love shoes.

Colorado, for all of its beauty and fun and adventure, has the disadvantage of being insanely dry. Oils, lotions, and heavy moisturizers are a daily part of life, and a few years back I was trying to find an oil that would really work for the winter months. I decided to just go ahead and experiment with different types of heavy moisture protectors like shea and cocoa butter. What resulted was a very simple, but delicious oil that makes our skin feel so yummy in those dry months.

I really like having home made oil in the house, mainly because I think that the cost of bath products is crazy, and also because I want to know where something is coming from that I am putting on our skin. I am sure that there are 1000’s of recipes that can be googled for making your own, but I thought that I would share one from our family that always seems to make everyone smile.

Chocolate Lavender Healing Oil
Equal parts of avocado, jojoba, apricot and grapeseed oil
4-8 oz of cocoa butter
3 oz of shea butter
1 large scoop of dried lavender, chamomile, and calendula
Vitamin E

Using a mason jar size of choice, add your oils and shea butter. Cocoa butter can be hard to extract, so if needed, use a double broiler method to soften the container, then cut the cocoa butter into small pieces and add to oil.
Add the herbs, stir to combine, and either place the jar in a crock pot of hot water on high over night, or in a pot of simmering water for 2 hours. If using the stove method, please do not allow to boil.
Once the jar is cooled, strain the oil through cheese cloth, bottle it your desired way, and top with 6 drops of Vitamin E.

My dear friends and family are always in search of more oil every once in a while, so we make up a big jar a few times a year and then give them away as birthday party favors, or stocking stuffers. Having said that, your oil will only last around three months, so using the size jar that works for you is best.

Infants skin is so delicate, and their little pores can become clogged very easily. For our little ones, we used a combo of apricot, olive oil, and the herbs above, and then steeped it the same way. We did not introduce the heavy chocolate oil until they were over a year.

Using massage has become a great transition tool for us in the evenings, and it just feels cool to know that they love their “chocolate oil” so much. I have to say, it makes the room smell amazing, and I use it as much as they do.

I hope you enjoy

Tomorrow we are joined by Shelley Caskey for our artisit at work series. Monday the Vintage Swap will be up, and I am so excited to get that going


A Remedy

August 26, 2009

OK, now I know that I have mentioned this a couple of times over the past few months, but the weather that we have had here has just been strange this summer. Colorado is normally a very hot and dry place to be between June and September, and this year it has been wet, flooding and humid. Now I am originally from Boston, so I know humidity and rainy weather, but this is just getting ridiculous. As I sit here typing, I have the fireplace on, the heater turned up for the first time since May, and I am knitting socks. This just does not seem right. No wonder I have made so many posts recently on the coming of Autumn.

Last week my husband came down with a nasty cold. It started off normally enough, but it has since descended into his chest and seems to be taking up personal residence. He came home from a business trip at about 2 am on Wednesday morning, and I was pretty sure that we might be making an emergency visit to the local hospital.

I love being married. I really do. I married my high school boyfriend, I could not imagine loving anyone else, but I gotta say, on those days that my poor husband is ill it takes all the strength I have not to throttle him. I know, it is weird, I mean when someone is sick those are the moments that you should be taking care of them unconditionally. I, of course, realize this, but you see my husband will tell you that he is sick every 36.2 seconds of the day, all day. I am not sure if he fears that I am not comprehending the situation, or if he just thinks I can’t hear him, but no matter, he will still tell me. In order to control my incredible need to duck tape his mouth shut, I cook (this also seems to keep him quiet for a bit, which is helpful).

I grew up with the same motto that all of you did, “chicken soup is the best remedy for a cold”.

I love chicken soup, any kind, almost any time. When anyone in my household gets ill we whip some up and serve it in special bowls, normally in the covers, and with a special spoon. It is a sure fire way to cure any ailment (or at least make it feel better for a while). As I think I have mentioned, I am one of those people who will just use what we have. In these kinds of situations, I am not keen on running out to the store, which always keeps the soup interesting. Potatoes, rice, zucchini, kale, chard, onions, celery, spices. What ever is here, we use. Last night, it was carrots, onions, zucchini, thyme, rosemary and oregano from the garden, and celery, chicken and rice added to it. I like my soups thick, hearty and steaming hot.

I also was lucky enough to have just finished a set of place mats for Autumn (see, there I go again). I used the pattern in Amy Butler’s book In Stiches, and they turned out pretty well. I like the sturdiness, and the stripes on flowers are always a favorite. Soup served on new place mats, good timing.

Now, yesterday I also did something I almost never do (it has been three years in fact). I made homemade bread for my husband. My husband does not always eat gluten free (although he really should, because he has the antibodies for celiac). When he eats food that the boys can’t consume, it is almost always outside of the house. He travels every week, and right now he is just finding it to be too big of a challenge to stay on the GF diet.

I was always a bread maker, I just grew up that way. Weekly bread making was a part of life, and it is something that I certainly carried into my marriage. When we first arrived here in Colorado, I was not exactly aware of how to adapt recipes to a high altitude, so I went straight off to the culinary school in Boulder and took a class. When my oldest was diagnosed with Celiac, out went the flour.

My mom and dad live right down the street, so on the very rare occasions when I make something with regular flour, it is done (graciously) in their home. So, off I trotted to make my husband his bread. On the advice of Bernadette, I used the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. All that I can tell you is that if you bake bread of any kind, run, do not walk to get this book. I thought that it was a joke, or a stupid gimmick, but I do not think that I could have been more wrong. Just trust me, you want this book.

All of us gluten free eaters, no fears, because the same authors are coming out with a book in October called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients. I can not wait!

So, the soup was served, the book was brought, the blankets and pillows fluffed, and I had a happy husband (of course, he had to do all of this in the guest bedroom, because he could not get gluten anywhere that the boys would be. As I said, bread making really not worth it if you have GF family members, but I gave in just this once).

As an extra measure of precaution, fresh mint tea was the final closer on the meal. I have no idea what it is about mint, but I just feel that it is always an appropriate drink to serve. I grabbed some fresh orange mint from the garden, and called it a day.