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!

Strawberries and Sundresses

strawberry season, feature image

Summer is out in full force, which means that the garden is growing nicely, we’re beginning to harvest already… and I am ready for falltime! I am definitely not a summer person; when the temperatures start rising, I start looking for a cool, dark place to hide.

picking strawberries

Anyways, I mentioned in one of my previous posts, that I was really starting to run out of clothing to wear for casual days at home, and with the advent of summer, I was really lacking on clothes to wear for these hot summer days. This fabric has been sitting in the stash literally ever since I was a child-  my mom received it from my aunt when I was little. I had always planned on making a long, dirndl style dress with it. I envisioned something like Molly’s blue dress from “Wives & Daughters”. Well, after about five years of that plan, I decided it was about time to sew the fabric up, and into something I could actually use and wear “now”. A peasant style dress is one of the easiest styles of dresses to make, and is so perfect for hot days, especially when it’s made out a lightweight chambray like this, so after managing to squeeze all of the pattern pieces onto the fabric I had (with only a few small scraps left over) I went ahead with the plan.

vintage colander filled with berries

harvesting strawberries

This dress is made off of a pattern from an old dress I had.  I have made it before like this, but this time around I wanted to try and make it similar in style to this dress I used to have (sadly the fabric on that one wore out). I at first sewed up the dress with a drawstring waistband, with the idea that it could be loosened or tightened for comfort. Well…that didn’t turn out so well. It ended up veeerrry frumpy, and the shape it gave was certainly not an elegant “Jane Austen heroine” one. So, I had to take it back apart and then, after tossing about several ideas, settled on putting in a waistband, but sewing elastic channels in the back to give it a shirred look. This ended up with exactly the shape I wanted. It fits perfectly and the little bit of elastic makes it super comfortable! The dress pulls on over the head, and the neckline is gathered with a drawstring, rather than elastic, for a more historical look. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, and I definitely plan on making up another version of this dress. I’ll just plan to put a waistband in rather than try something new, next time. If it works, don’t try to reinvent it right?

back detail of peasant dress

Of course, when your new dress is covered with a pattern of strawberry vines, you have to take photos of it in the strawberry patch!

We’ve had a lovely abundance of berries this year, though we’ve lost some some to the voles, and some to mould (because we’ve had so much rain this year). But, there have definitely been enough for treats and fresh eating, and even some to freeze for winter- aren’t fresh strawberries in July the best?

How has your summer been so far? Do you have a garden; either a plot or a pot? What do you like to wear during the summer?

holding vintage colander of berries in the garden

handful of strawberries

strawberry picking

in the strawberry garden

picking berries

walking in the garden

bowl of berries

That Fresh Hair Feeling

There’s nothing better than a fresh new haircut, is there? OK, well, yes there are plenty of things better than a new haircut…but when you’ve been waiting patiently for four months, it’s a lovely thing to walk out of the salon with significantly less hair on your head!

I got my hair cut into a fresh bob on Tuesday, and my hairdresser also added in some colour to blend out my platinum, which was starting to look rather brassy and harsh. Growing out platinum is hard, but at least this looks a bit softer. I keep saying that I’ll never dye my hair again, but I probably will again someday- it’s a lot of fun while it lasts!

I don’t have much else to say about these photos except that this is the last of the lilacs. We didn’t get a very good show of them this year. I think that it was maybe too cold earlier in the spring, and the buds got a bit too cold with frost. It’s really too bad, because usually this hedge is just covered, and I love to do photoshoots with it as a backdrop. At least we did still get some blooms, and I got these photos before they all faded away.

What have you been up to lately? Are you long overdue for a haircut, like 99% of the population? Have you ever tried to grow out dyed hair?

And this is what happens when you take photos in the wind!

Days Like These

sitting and looking out of the window

I think we can all agree that 2020 hasn’t really turned out the way any of us thought it would. When we celebrated the return of the “Roaring 20’s”, on New Year’s Eve, I don’t think this was quite the kind of turbulence we were anticipating.

It’s been a rather strange year so far for me in other ways too; losing one of my jobs (before the pandemic even came into view), switching to working only at my work-from-home job, moving out of my apartment and back to the country with my family, and then, of course, the pandemic which put a stop to everything else….and here we are already in June. My lifestyle has dramatically changed in the past six months.

It’s been a bit of a strange time fashion wise too, switching from a job where I worked in a boutique and wanted to look put together every day (of course with my own vintage twist!) to now working strictly from home, at a desk job. I’ve always loved fashion, so curating a “work/social” wardrobe over the past couple of years was a lot of fun, but now with the pandemic putting a halt on going out in public, I really have had no reason to wear many of those clothes, except for my own enjoyment. Most of my days for the past few months have been spent at home; this is a situation I am sure many of us have found ourselves in this year?

at home outfit details and houseplants

I was scheduled for a haircut back in March, but my hairdresser closed their salon one day before my appointment…so it’s now been 4 months without a cut or colour. (In hindsight, choosing to go platinum blonde in February was not a timely decision.) Not getting my hair touched up has definitely saved money, and it’s not as though anyone is seeing my grow-out line, but all I really care about is getting a good haircut! It’s grown so long and uneven that even styling it can’t fix it!

All this to say…it has been a challenge some days wanting to look nice while at home, but then not having a lot to wear that is practical, comfortable and stylish. A lot of my everyday clothing had started getting really worn out (un-mendable holes etc) and with all the shops sadly closed up, I haven’t been able to fill those gaps in my wardrobe. The result has been quite a few boring and repeat outfits over the past few months.

I’ve also realized that I am quite lazy when it comes to dressing for myself. Even though I could wear my dressy clothes at home, I apparently don’t want to, which is a rather ironic thing for a fashion blogger to say, isn’t it?

Upon further thought, though, I think the problem is not so much that I don’t want to dress up, but that I don’t have a lot of clothes that are good for the kind of life I am now living day to day. I don’t like days when I don’t dress nicely, as they always feel unproductive and messy, but it’s been a bit hard getting out of that rut. Its kind of crazy how much of an impact your clothing can have on your outlook, isn’t it?

days at home, polka dot plant

I suppose one good thing that has come out of this period at home, though, is that I have had the time to do a really good evaluation of what is working well in my wardrobe, and what is not. I’ve been meaning to go through the book “The Curated Closet” for while, and decided that this was as good a time as ever, especially considering the drastic change in my lifestyle. I have been taking the time to evaluate why I don’t wear some of the items in my closet, what pieces I do really like and what styles I need more of.

I’m realizing the need to evolve my closet into something that suits how I actually spend most of my days- not how I wish I was spending most of my days. As much fun as dressing up to work in the boutique was, I need to be dressing for my life at home now, and comfort is really key for me. I don’t want to look like a mess, but I also don’t want to wear clothing that is too fussy or precious. I have been working on creating a more defined vision of personal style that suits my lifestyle, and hopefully I’ll have more to share on the process I went through in the next while.

Anyways, things are starting to open again. Here in Alberta, we are three weeks into our reopening. I am so thankful to live where I do, since we have not seen the numbers of cases that other places have seen. (In the area I live in, there has been zero cases of COVID.) Hopefully I will be able to get out and do a bit of clothing shopping soon, to fill in those holes in my wardrobe. And I’ve finally got a hair appointment this week, so this is the last time you’ll see my hair this long (thankfully!)

Even though my wardrobe isn’t at a place at the moment that I find particularly exciting, I wanted to take a moment to document these days, before everything changes again.

How has your lifestyle and wardrobe evolved in the past few months? Have you kept things relatively the same, dressing as you always have, or have you had to make some changes? Do you dress differently at home than you do out of the home? What are your thoughts on dressing up for your everyday?

sitting and looking out of the window

naked sage moonstone earrings

Earrings by Naked Sage Jewellery

reading a book