Love & Joy

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Just like our holiday card mailing list, the blog is getting our holiday wishes a little late, too. The holidays were really great this year, but I have to admit the amount of House Love work I had to get done did cast a tiny shadow on some of the festivities. I hope that next year I'm able to manage my workflow a bit better! I am finally catching my breath and hoping to take a week or two off after finishing up some orders this weekend.

This year, we continued many of the family traditions we've established over the years, including little gifts of homemade peppermint bark for teachers, friends and family. This year, we included a bar of Sweet Mint Soap made locally by Biggs & Featherbelle, too. And for the very first time since having Fiona, we have an official family holiday card! So sweet, right?

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I printed out Phoebe's illustrated gift tags from the Taproot Blog and used Whole foods bags as wrapping paper for many of our gifts. They turned out so cute! The kids had a lot of fun distributing our cards and little gifts to friends and neighbors.

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I hope you all enjoyed your holidays! Here's to 2014.

if you were there

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Thanks to some late night crafting, the kids found these heart pocket necklaces waiting for them this morning. I filled each with chocolates (which might have been their favorite part! Hah!). And yes, my kids had chocolate for breakfast.

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To You

I think I could walk

through the simmering sand

if I held your hand.

I think I could swim

the skin shivering sea

if you would accompany me.

And run on ragged, windy heights,

climb rugged rocks

and walk on air.

I think I could do anything at all,

if you were there.

~Karla Kuskin

Happy Valentine's Day, my wee ones. I am a bigger, better and braver person because you are here.

homemade matcha gift set

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My brother recently spent four months in Japan. We all missed him terribly, but adventures are important, and exploring the other side of the earth on your own is nothing short of a great adventure. Of course, if he moves there, I most likely will have a complete big sister I won't allow it and I'm in charge, did you forget? freak out. Until then, I am quite supportive of his adventuring. :)

I had planned on getting Eric a specific book for Christmas until my mom informed me that he just ordered it for himself! I was glad to know that I knew him well enough to buy him something he would actually want, but that left me giftless. Something health related? Something inspired by Japanese culture or food?

And then I thought of it! A matcha gift set. (And I do think I'm quite clever to have come up with this little set!) I had seen a link to this video tutorial for Matcha Salt on Angry Chicken a couple weeks before and thought it would be perfect. Then I consulted Organic Body Care Recipes and a few online resources and put together my own recipe for Matcha Sugar Scrub. I gave him the salt and scrub along with a new tin of Matcha.

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Matcha Sugar Scrub

1 cups granulated sugar

1/8 cup coconut oil

1/2 tablespoon matcha green tea powder

1/2 tablespoon vitamin E

Place everything in a bowl and mix it!

This recipe will fit in a 1/2 pint mason jar perfectly. I decided to also give this sugar scrub to all the ladies in my life who I knew liked body products and made many batches over the course of the holidays.

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The Matcha Salt also turned out really well and we were able to put it on our eggs on Christmas morning! Isn't it pretty? (For this recipe, and for everyday use, we use Real Salt.)

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I think this set makes such a nice gift! Is there anyone in your life who might enjoy this set?

from the kids

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According to Fiona, this was the most "elf-like" activity of all our holiday projects. She loved coating the little jars with the watered down glue (half water, half elmers glue), sticking on the pieces of ripped up tissue paper, then giving them another coat of the glue mixture.

These candle holders were Fiona's gifts to Daddy, who made his own stained glass pieces in a past life, when he had time to do such things. I thought these were very reminiscent of stained glass, so would make a special gift from the kids.

I had originally thought about using a metalic sharpie to draw lines between the colors to enhance the stained glass quality of it, but never did get to it. Maybe I still will. If it turns out well, I'll let you know!

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They turned out really pretty and looked great on our Christmas table.

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Elijah and Fiona both filled in bare books with their own stories. Elijah's book was a gift for his Mom, Stepdad and sister, Sylvia. His was one cohesive illustrated Christmas story. For Fiona's book, she drew whatever popped into her head and dictated a story to me that I then recorded.

I think these books are such a great way to preserve a child's artwork and imagination from a specific moment in time. Plus, the kids really work at their drawings since these very official feeling books are so special! I have several more blank ones stored away for another inpired afternoon.

Tomorrow, I have a post planned that I'm really excited about. For my brother, I made a matcha green tea gift set. I'm sharing my own super easy recipes, too! Come back to check it out!

kitchen elves

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Fiona's fascination with all things Santa carried through the whole holiday season, so any time we were making anything Christmas related, we were playing the parts of little elves. Much of the elving happened in the kitchen, as usual. Some edible, some not.

This Candy Cane Playdough is SO cute. We followed Jean's directions in her e-book, The Artful Winter. The directions are also on her blog here. The best part of the recipe is that it includes peppermint essential oil, which really adds to the experience of making the dough. It just smells so good!

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Fiona and Elsa were both able to help mix, knead and add the natural food dye and glitter. I think these little playdough sets would make cute Valentine's Day gifts, too. This project reminds me of another playdough idea on Sew Liberated where she mixed in googly eyes. Love that!

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This is the second year in a row of using this recipe for peppermint bark. So, so yummy. I think this tradition is sticking around. After it had all been given away or eaten, I had a couple evenings in a row where I had a lingering feeling that something was missing... then I realized it was the peppermint bark. Wah! I had made such a nice, sweet bite before bed.

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Then, of course, sugar cookies. They were originally meant to be brought around to some of our neighborhood friends, but then Fiona got a diagnosis of pneumonia (you may remember I had it a week or so before she did), and since she had taken such a huge role in making the cookies, I decided we'd keep our germs to ourselves. It worked out alright, though. More for us! ;)

But phew, I have to admit to being kind of relieved to have less sweets in the house after all that holiday feasting. Anyone else feel kind of bloated?