Thursday, February 19, 2015

Easy Homemade Lip Balm

We have been having such a cold winter around here that we've been going through a lot of this stuff. So, I thought I would share the recipe for my Homemade Coconut Oil Almond Lip Balm.  It's really easy to make and makes a great small gift for friends and teachers.

Here's what you need:

4 tablespoons of beeswax - grated (you can find it in the candle making section of most craft stores)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (available at the super market)
5 drops of essential oil (I like to use almond - but others would be fine too).
2 teaspoons honey
containers or tubes to put the balm in. (I ordered tubes here.)

My 6 year old helped grate the beeswax.
grated beeswax

Before you start: prepare your containers by setting them upright if you are using tubes like I did, or put them on a tray that will make them easy to move out of the way while cooling.

I set my tubes up in a silicone ice cube tray.

First: create a double boiler by adding a few cups of water to a sauce pan and place the grated beeswax and coconut oil into another container (a glass measuring cup works well because the spout makes pouring easier when you get to that step).  Melt the beeswax and coconut oil over medium heat stirring often.

Second: remove the melted mixture from the heat and immediately add the honey and almond oil and stir until everything is mixed and dissolved.

Honey added.  It must dissolve fully or the balm won't solidify.

Next: pour hot mixture into prepared containers and leave untouched until they cool completely.

I added printed labels with ingredients listed to the tubes and that's it... Done, and ready to use!  And let me tell you, this stuff is great.  Tastes yummy, but not candy sweet and does a wonderful job moisturizing dry chapped winter lips.  I hope you like it!

*I had to scrape some of my tubes with a knife once they were cool because some of them overflowed when I was pouring.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Our living room evolution

Our house is very open.  It's one of the things I really like about it, however, it makes it hard to rearrange furniture and redecorate.  We have lived in our house almost 6 years and after numerous times redecorating I am starting to learn to love what we have right now.  It finally feels cozy.  Aside from the giant leather sofas - which I still hate.  We bought them for our first house and they fit much better, but in an old farm house they just seem oversized and out of place.  But, they are durable and withstand abuse from children and pets, so we can't seem to part with them yet.

Here's a look at the evolution of our living room:

This is what the house looked like when we came to the showing:

The previous owners had a loveseat and chair which was a much better fit for the size of the room.  I think the smaller furniture made the room seem more open.  I have had my eye on a few new pieces for this room....someday.

This is what the room looked like for quite a few years after we moved in:

It was too much going on for me.  We were trying to utilize things from our old house and it just never felt right to me.  And, yes we had the world's tiniest TV. I think that is part of what made the room feel strange, but since none of us ever really watched tv we didn't feel like splurging on a big one yet.  This was also a time when we had a small baby and a 3 yr old, so we needed a lot of toys easily accessible.

Here is what the room looked like after I decided I needed to add some color:

I liked the way the black and white rug made the room feel and the bright colored pillows, but it really didn't jive well with the rest of our house, so it only stayed this way for about a year.  I am still looking for a place to repurpose that rug!

AND....Here is how the room looks now:

I hope to paint the whole room someday, but since I can't decide on a color, it has stayed yellow.

The colors are a bit more simple and cohesive with the rest of our house now, and after Christmas this year we checked the sales and finally got a new tv.  The kids love it.

I decided on a light colored wool rug from Target to help brighten the room up, since it is so dark, and the ottoman was on super discount at Homegoods. I have been told many times by Ken that he "loves it".  It serves as extra seating too.

There used to be a window above the brick "bench" but we had to take it out when we did our bedroom addition.  So, now it just served as a place to sit and warm up by the wood stove, and it also holds wood and kindling.

We recently set our fish tank up again after disassembling it when we moved.  We have some very cool is a blueish purple gourami named "Sparkle."  We needed something sturdy enough to hold the tank so Ken built the pipe table with pieces of zinc pipe and 2x8's from Lowes.  It was a super quick project and I would like to build a big one for the patio some day.

Since we moved in I have been debating on and off whether or not to paint the paneling.  I am still not sure what to do, but I am leaning towards doing it.  Any opinions on painted paneling vs. natural?  (I know everyone is painting paneling right now, and that is one argument for me against's trendy).

We found this Jotul wood stove on Craigslist.  We had been looking for one for a while.  The old stove was gas, and it really didn't do much in the way of warmth... it was really more for looks.  This one on the other hand, puts out a lot of heat for such a small stove.

I hope to redo or remove this bookcase in the very near future.  I love a built in bookcase, but it is not really accessible because of our giant loveseat.  If we take it out, we want to put a window in (there was one there originally) to gain more light and a view of the front porch.  We would build a new built in bookcase on the other side of the room near our desk area.

As you can see in this picture, the house is very open and we have a lot of sofas.  I am still working on the finishing touches of the adjacent sitting room (the shaker rocker kit just came the other day and needs to be built, and the tall cupboard needs to be painted, but I like how it is looking so far).

Overall, I love our home.  I would love to someday figure out how to instill some brightness and "modern farmhouse" feel into it, but for now it works.

So here's the final Before and After:

When I look at these pictures side by side I realize it really doesn't look like much has changed, but this room really has gone through an evolution for me, and I am sure it's still not done.  What do you think?

Friday, February 6, 2015

A place to rest

I hate clutter.  Clutter makes me feel sick and constricted and anxious.  However, I don't really want my house to feel sterile and devoid of feeling either.  So, how can I find the balance between crisp and organized and completely minimal?  I think the key is is "resting space."  That is - planned empty surfaces which create a place for your eyes to rest.  It's like the difference between a salon style art gallery and a modern one.  If you give the things you love space to breathe, I think they really show off.  

Here are some examples I found that seem to me the perfect blend between cozy and crisp/uncluttered.

This kitchen is perfect to me.  The colors and and crisp white counters make the space seem light and airy, while the wood beams and table and slip covered cocoa colored stools seem warm and cozy.  Tonal white dishes help the space feel uncluttered.


This sofa area seems like a place I could sit down with a good book.  I like the muted color wall with the pops of red and brown and green.  The mirror collection seems carefully chosen and makes a simple gallery statement.  The rich colors in this space feel so much more cozy to me than bland grays and whites.


Although this space is mostly white tones, the rich wood table, floors and railing really warm the space up.  Industrial style stools help give the space a not too serious feel.


This bedroom has everything I love.  White-washed paneled walls, spool bed, beautiful cozy textures and patterns and muted tones. So perfect.


More muted tones, carefully curated objects, pops of warm color all make this space seem both pristine and comfortable.  I also like the idea of bookcases that display other objects besides books.


The more I find images like these, the more I realize what I truly want to feel when I walk into a room in my home.  I hope as I am working to de-clutter and simplify my own home I can use inspiration like these photos to help keep the coziness too.

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