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December 2017

Ten Minute Gift Idea

 

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This time of year I love giving little homemade gifts to friends and neighbors. This year I made peppermint sugar scrubs and packaged them in the empty Oui yogurt jars that I'd been saving over the summer and fall. The lids were ordered online here and were the only real expense I had for this project. I already had everything I needed - the coconut oil, sugar and essential oils. The candy canes were left over from my gingerbread houses and the greens were from my yard. I calculated that each little filled jar cost just under $1.75 to make. They were quick and easy and I was able to whip up a batch in just a few minutes and the best part was I already had everything I needed.

Here's how I did it.

Combine 2 cups of granulated white sugar to 1/2 cup of softened coconut oil. This time of year the coconut oil is pretty solid so I microwaved it for about 45 seconds to get it to a liquid state. To that I added about six drops of peppermint essential oils (you can substitute lavender, lemon or any essential oil that you like). How much oil you add is up to you, but peppermint is a strong fragrance and I find I get a nice effect with just a few drops. Definitely add more if you want. Once the three ingredients are thoroughly combined, spoon into clean, dry jars and cover with tight fitting lids. Embellish and label as desired. You can even tie on a tiny spoon if you want.

That's all there is to it. So easy and sugar scrubs are great to exfoliate dry winter skin, either in the shower or bath. The coconut oil leaves your skin super soft, smooth and hydrated and the peppermint is a refreshing, festive touch. I even exfoliate my face with it.   

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I popped some broken candy cane pieces in the top of the jars just for fun.

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If you want to make them extra Christmassy,  you can color half of the sugar mixture with two drops or so of red food coloring then alternately layer the mixtures in the jars for a candy cane effect.

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Pinterest has lots of ideas for making sugar scrubs using lots of different fragrance combinations.

I love quick, inexpensive projects like this. Don't you? I hope you'll try it - your friends will love you for it.

Encourage one another,

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Making a List, Checking It...

 

I've been working on my 2017 Holiday Bucket List and checking things off as I go. I must say that list helps keep me focused and on track. Last week I did something new for me, I hosted a Gingerbread House Decorating Party. Well, technically a Graham Cracker Decorating Party.

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We recently had some California friends visiting so I thought the littles might enjoy "gluing" candy to graham cracker houses. I still want to make a real gingerbread house from scratch but thought these would be a better idea for a group of smaller children. Turns out I was right. Cry

As with all things unfamiliar  I started my research on YouTube and Pinterest. After watching this video I thought, how simple, piece of cake! Right?

Umm...not so much. Although I followed the instructions on the video pretty closely, this knowledgeable gentleman failed to mention one important fact. Fresh graham crackers break when you try to saw them with a serrated knife! So I thought, what would happen if you softened them a bit in the microwave?

Helpful Hint: Warm graham crackers in the microwave for 20 seconds, wrapped in a damp paper towel. Then immediately cut before they cool. This tip saved my bacon (and our party)!

I preassembled the houses a few days before the party.

Prep

Made cake stands out of plastic plates and cups, then topped them with doilies,

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covered the table (and chair seats), then arranged the candy.

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William Sonoma has some fun small sized candies that are perfect for tiny houses and cookies.

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In the video, the gentleman talks about the royal icing and how it needs to be stiff to hold the houses together and while his recipe worked great for the construction, it was a bit too thick for decorating. This is where my inexperience came in. Next time I will make the icing less stiff for decorating, but we muddled through and it really was kind of fun.

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These little houses were a great excuse to pull out all those tiny embellishments I've been saving for years. Everything looks better with a plastic reindeer and flocked tiny trees. Don't you agree?

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Gummy house

The older girls meticulously applied their candies

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with precision and patience.

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while the younger ones enjoyed sampling their candy choices as they worked.

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I just wanted to share our experiences with you all here and to encourage you to think about hosting a house decorating party. With a little planning and prep work, it can be lot's of fun and relatively stress free .

I hope you are enjoying your holiday. I'll be back next time with a quick and inexpensive gift idea using those empty Oui yogurt jars. 

Encourage one another,

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