lifestyle

Last Minute Christmas Gifts: Homemade Body Butter

body butter gift under the tree, the artyologist

Is it really only one more week until Christmas?

I read a while ago that this year has kind of been like Rip Van Winkle and, for me, I would agree. While my daily routine has definitely slowed down, time seems to be rushing by, and it all feels a bit surreal. While we’ve already passed the halfway point for December, it still feels like this year has gone by so slowly. In some ways it does seem like I’m sleeping while the world continues spinning by…

Well, in case time has gotten away from you too, and you need some last minute gifts, today I am sharing a zero-waste inspired Christmas gift you can easily make in a few hours. The great thing is that it mostly uses items you might already have around the house! This is a bit different than the topics I usually discuss here, but I kind of like branching out into new topics, and this definitely fits into the “lifestyle’ category.

I don’t know where I found this recipe- I think from a zero waste blogger or Instagrammer, but you can easily find these sorts of recipes with a quick google search of “diy natural body butter”. This is just the one I make because I bought a huge pail of shea butter several years ago, and I am trying to work my way through it (slowly!).

Easy Homemade Natural Body Butter

1 part coconut oil

1 part sweet almond oil (or light olive oil)

2 parts shea butter

Optional: essential oil of your choice

I usually make this recipe with sweet almond oil, but since I used up all of my almond oil while making soap, I couldn’t find any more! Usually I would get it at the health food store, but they didn’t have any. After a bit of research it appears that light olive oil works as a substitute, and it seems to be working just as well. I would definitely recommend light, not regular oil, so there isn’t a strong olive smell.

Also, I used lavender essential oil, but you can definitely make it unscented.

I also saw several other recipes used cocoa butter instead of shea, so you could probably try that too. Basically the most important part is that you need to have equal parts oil to butter.

Heat your oils and butter in a double boiler until it is completely melted, then place in the refrigerator to cool. I forgot to take any photos of this process, but it is pretty straightforward. Once it has solidified (several hours depending on how much you have made), then take it out and immediately whip with a blender until it is white and fluffy. It’s like magic how quickly it beats up! Then add some essential oils, 4-5 drops, if desired and mix in completely.

I am sure there is a shelf life on homemade body butters (probably a few months?) but to be honest I haven’t had any problems with it going rancid. I keep mine in my nightstand drawer, and I have had this last batch for probably 9 months, and I’ve never had any bacteria growth or funky smells or anything. This is a very moisturizing (albeit greasy) body butter, perfect for winter dryness; I use it on my feet, or as a lip balm.

Once you’ve whipped up the butter, then you are ready to decant it into jars.

I have been collecting these face lotion jars for the past few years, because I hate throwing things out, and I was sure I could find a use for them, even if for just organizing/storage. However a few months ago, I thought of an even better use- to repurpose as gifts (a zero waste win!). I used nail polish remover to take the labels off, and then sterilized the jars by running them through the dishwasher and heating the lids with boiling water.

They worked perfectly to hold about 3 tbsp of body butter- the perfect amount to try it out, without having to commit to using for the next few years! Any small jar would work great, maybe a small spice jar? Or a tiny canning jar?

I also decided to include the recipe in with the gift. I purchased this recipe card printable in the spring from local-ish artist Jenni Haikonen, as it’s so nice to give people recipes written on a pretty card, rather than any old paper, isn’t it?

I wrapped the gift up in some brown paper bags I have had for years, tied them with some recycled ribbons and twine (I always save ribbons and string whenever I get a package etc. in order to reuse them) and added some homemade Victorian Christmas tags. And there you have a lovely little gift for friends, coworkers or anyone else you want to give a gift to this season!

Well, I hope you enjoy making this recipe, if you decide to, and also hope that you have a very Merry Christmas season!

A New Month, A New Space and New Beginnings

I’ve spent the past month leaving a job that was dear to me, which means that my January, a month that usually feels like a fresh new start and a new beginning, has instead been wrapped up in finishing something.

My “new year” this year, feels like it’s actually starting now…in February.

After a bit of rest and recharging, I’ve decided it’s time to focus on my art again, and see where it leads. I’ve got a new dedicated space (I just moved my desk in front of the window, where there is good natural light), I’ve now got time, and I’ve got some ideas floating around in my head. It’s now just a matter of picking up my pencil and my brush and making those discordant ideas come together into something… now that it’s a new month, it’s time to start.

Minimalist Christmas

berry and branch christmas bouquet

There are only 8 days left until Christmas!

Does it seem like December has been going by quickly? It definitely doesn’t feel like it’s the middle of December already…

I decorated early for Christmas this year. Well, early for me, at least. For some people, “early” would mean the beginning of November. For some, it would be any time before December. For me, it means I decorated the last weekend of November. Usually I wait to decorate until the first weekend of December, but this year I was gone that weekend… so November it was!

white berries and branch bouquets in milk glass and miniature evergreens

I don’t have much room to display things and decorate in this apartment, so I went for a very minimal Christmas decor this year. I already tend towards natural, minimal holiday decor for all seasons, so I focused on natural and simple elements to decorate with. I kind of want my decor to look like it was gathered while on a walk in the woods; which a bunch of it actually was! I added evergreen bouquets, berry and branch bouquets, a garland, pinecones tucked in amongst pictures, and fairy lights to create that cozy Christmas feel in my apartment. I wasn’t able to pull out my vintage ornament collection this year, since I just don’t have any place to display them because of the way this apartment is set up.

I did pick up a few new items (the perils of working at a decorating store!) but they are items I am going to be glad to use for years to come. The red berries really added a nice pop of colour to my branch bouquet. I tried the bouquet without the red berries, and it was just a little too boring. Also you may recall, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, that I used this vase (which is actually a candle holder) last year with an evergreen bouquet in it. Well, that was a mistake. I lined the vase with a bag, then filled it with sand and was able to keep the branches watered and alive for several weeks with that. However, in January, when I went to empty it out…when I pulled out the bag, all of the silver paint came off the glass too! I was left with a clear glass vase, that looked quite terrible. Fortunately I do have some old silver glass paint I bought years ago for a project, and was able to repaint it over the summer. Thus- this year was a branch bouquet that didn’t involve any water!

miniature house in a glass cloche

I also found this tiny sparkly wreath and fell in love with it (even though it’s not “natural” in any way) so that one had to come home with me too. And, the little cloche, which I picked up a few months ago (I do have a weakness for cloches…) originally had a miniature crown under the glass, but I got it with the express idea of making a little house to display under for winter. I like that I can use it for all seasons, so it’s been quite versatile that way.

I’ve really been trying to cut down on my spending and collecting, and have been on a total minimalism kick lately. I’m nowhere near as minimalist as some people are- I still love my decorations and books and pictures and “stuff”, but I’ve really been thinking about how much decor I want to own and store, especially because I’ve moved so many times in the past couple of years (and moving is hard, when you own lots of stuff!). I’ve decided that I will only have two boxes of seasonal decor…and deciding this in the past few weeks has actually helped me a lot of avoid some really cute holiday decor impulse buys!

I would still like to find a nativity, but I haven’t found one yet that I really like. I’ve been looking in the thrift stores for the past several years hoping that someone will have decided to part with a nice, simple ceramic one like my mom has…but so far I haven’t found anything. Oh well, one day I will find a set!

wooden christmas garland

wooden slice christmas garland

I wasn’t sure at first how I was going to decorate my place for Christmas, since I don’t have a buffet, or mantle or anything like that to decorate and briefly debated whether I should decorate at all, but I’m so glad I decided to dig my boxes out and put a bit of festive decor up, because it certainly brightened things up and added some lovely holiday cheer. I honestly don’t love living in this apartment, but decorating and making things look nice can make such a big difference to the atmosphere of your home, don’t you think?

Do you like to decorate for holidays? Are you a minimalist when it comes to decor, or do you like to go all out? And what is your favourite Christmas decoration?

cloche filled with pinecones and fairy lights

evergreen christmas bouquet

Give Me Plants and Books and Tea…

house plants, the artyologist

It seems a little strange to be sharing a house tour today, since I’m not living in this apartment anymore! I took these photos a week before we moved out, fully intending to blog them, but when our whole housing situation became a housing fiasco, I didn’t really feel like sharing them. It’s been a few months now though, so I can look at the pictures without nostalgia: I do miss the way we’d decorated it, but a few months later, I don’t miss living there! There were things I really liked about living here, such as the neighbourhood, the view from our living room window and the amazing amount of closet space (seven closets in 800 sq.ft!). But there were definitely things I didn’t like: the noise between the apartments, the terrible bathroom, and the extreme heat in the summer. So, all in all, I’m not sad to be out of this place, but I’m glad I took some photos before we moved to remember it by.

bookshelf

First the living room. This is my trusty old IKEA shelf, that perfectly fit on the only wall that didn’t have a baseboard heater. Someday I’d love to make or get a wooden shelf, but until that day this one does well. (Although every time I move, my brother and Dad would say they’d like if that day came sooner: this one is awful to move, since it has to go in one piece!)

plants-and-books, the artyologist

You can quickly tell after entering our house that my sister and I have two great loves: books and plants! (hence the title of this post) We’ve completely filled this shelf between the two of us, and have even more books hiding behind the first layer, and on other shelves! The portrait in the top right shelf is my “Georgian novel hero”. I bought it as a gift for my brother, and then ended up keeping it for myself, as the portrait just seemed to belong amongst the Classics section.

This is my favourite chair that I found in a thrift store, back before “vintage” furniture got expensive. It’s surprisingly comfortable, and still in quite good condition. And, this little hot air balloon just hangs out in the fig tree. I got this tree for free when my church moved buildings. For some reason they decided that they didn’t want it in the new place, which didn’t make any sense to me, but I was more than happy to adopt it and bring it home! Until I find a more permanent place though, I’m going to leave it at my family’s house, as it’s not happy to be moved a lot.

You might recognize that I have several iconic IKEA pieces, including my borrowed sofa, and my striped rug. As much as I love my rug, it is horrible to keep clean, so I would probably not purchase it if I’d known that back then. I love a lot of the pieces that IKEA comes out with each year, but I am always hesitant to buy them, as they are so recognizable that I don’t want my house to end up looking like a catalogue!

The decor in our living room is quite bright and punchy, and it is not anywhere near what I’d like to have someday. Red is my least favourite colour, but since I am borrowing the sofa from my parents until I find one of my own, it will have to do. I’d eventually like to get a cream and mustard floral or brocade settee, but haven’t found just the right one yet.

gallery-wall

One of the problems I have with decorating is that I have too much artwork and too few walls. We did a gallery wall in the living room to help with this problem. This also worked well, as there were a lot of nail holes in this wall from previous tenants, so I didn’t feel bad adding a few more. It also worked to cover up all the holes, so we weren’t stuck looking at them. We did a black, gold and cream theme, which I liked since it looked cohesive, yet still had variety. (I also noticed, after I took these pictures, that I never centred the photo in that large white frame-oops!)

books-and-tea

Here is the aforementioned “tea” alongside the plants and books in the title. I couldn’t happily live in a house with no plants! At last count I have twenty-two plants (not counting my sister’s)!

dining-room-2

This is the view from the kitchen, to the dining room/office/art room. The living room is to the right of the picture (where the wall jogs in on the edge of the photo). I didn’t take a photo of the kitchen, since there really wasn’t anything interesting about it. It had cabinets from the 70’s and no place to hang artwork, so it was quite boring and un-photogenic.

dining-room-1

This is my sister’s china cabinet in the corner, which holds our collection of blue and white china. We inherited many of these pieces from my Gramma, and some are pieces I’ve purchased along the way.

desk-1

Here’s the art desk in the dining room (that I actually didn’t do too much art at, unfortunately.) Quite a few of the furniture pieces in our place were borrowed from my parents. It’s always nice when your parents love antique furniture and you get to put it in your place 🙂

bedroom-1

And lastly my bedroom, which was a very small room, and had just enough room for a walkway around my bed. It had two closets though, which was absolutely lovely for all my hats!

bedroom-2

Hang vintage fashion artwork in your closet and dresses on your closet doors- it makes it so much prettier!

bedroom-3

Well, that’s it!

I do love decorating, and the thing that I love about decorating my own home is creating my own personal style. I don’t like to follow trends or styles too closely, and while I might incorporate a few here and there, our place doesn’t fit into any one “niche”, but is mostly made up of collected pieces we love. I think it has a rather eclectic vintage feel- what do you think?

How do you like to decorate your home? And does your decorating fit into one specific style, or a mix of many?