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Making beeswax and honey lip balm

Making beeswax and honey lip balm

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I am making my own lip balm this year as part of my homemade gift basket. This sounds much more insane Pinterest-mom than it is – I promise. I spend much more time sourcing appropriate containers than anything else, and that’s my favourite part. I mean, containers!

As a beekeeper, I also have access to a good chunk of beeswax, should I want to do the messy work of rendering it down.

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A word about beeswax: know your source. I know you can buy those beeswax pebbles on Amazon and Etsy, but please, go to your local beekeeping association and get your wax through an actual beekeeper, and ask them how they manage their bees. As you probably know, keeping honeybees is a difficult job these days for a number of reasons. Plenty of beekeepers choose to fight off the many diseases by giving their bees medicines and antibiotics every year. These substances build up in the wax, which you are then putting on your lips. You don’t need to ask for organic beeswax, just say you’d like beeswax from someone doing natural beekeeping without medications. Small-scale beekeepers are more likely to work like this. Beekeepers are a funny lot, but most are happy to help you out, especially if you come with cash in hand. This is a good time of year to get it, too. I didn’t know anything about this until I started beekeeping myself.

On to the rest of it!

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I bought empty lip balm tubes as I don’t like sticking my dirty fingers into a lip balm pot while out and about, but if you prefer that kind of container, there are lots out there. For decanting into your container, try using a [amazon_link id=”B00MH7SDS0″ target=”_blank” ]children’s medicine syringe[/amazon_link]. You can find them at most pharmacies, and it makes things much less messy, especially for decanting into the tubes.

Basic lip balm recipe ratios
Makes about 15-17 lip balms in tubes

40g coconut oil

20g beeswax

1-2 tsp honey

  1. Melt the beeswax with the coconut oil. I do this in a mason jar sitting on a jar ring in a pot half-filled with water over medium-low heat. Whatever vessel you melt the wax in will become hopelessly covered in wax, so use something you can dedicate to the purpose. The pot will get a bit of wax scum on it too, fair warning!
  2. Once everything is melted, add the honey and stir to combine. Test the consistency of your lip balm by taking a small amount out on a spoon and letting it cool. Test it out! Too greasy? Add a bit more beeswax. Too stiff? Add a bit more coconut oil. If you add too much honey, it won’t mix in with the wax mixture.
  3. Get some tubes gathered together and standing upright. Whisk your wax mixture vigorously, and then pull some into your syringe and fill tubes madly to the top. Once the first round of tubes are filled, you will need to add a glob of balm to the top of each one. Pop on the lids and label them up.

A note on honey separation: I found that when I added too much honey to my mixture, when I filled the tubes, the honey would sink to the bottom. It’s easy to roll the lip balm out of the tubes and into your melting pot, and then wash the honey out of the tube (or, er, dip your finger in it and then wash it out with hot water…). You can remelt this lip balm as many times as you need to get the ratios right. The whisking before pulling up the melted balm helps distribute the honey as well, but some batches just wouldn’t come together for me.

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Our favourite homemade bubble mixture

Our favourite homemade bubble mixture

blowing bubbles

The internet is full of homemade bubble mixture recipes, and to be honest, they are all very similar. It irks me to pay for this stuff in a store, and I don’t want to be more annoyed when the container gets knocked over (because it always gets knocked over). So we make it at home.

This recipe is the most reliable I’ve found so far, but still requires some sitting time, so make it the night before you’d like to use it.

2 cups warm tap water
2 tbsp Dawn dishwashing soap
2 tbsp glycerin (available in the pharmacy, look for the shelf by the rubbing alcohol)
1 tbsp sugar

Mix gently, and then leave to sit in an open container overnight. Sugar makes the mixture a bit more robust, but also stickier. Our house is always vaguely sticky due to beekeeping activities, but if yours is cleaner, you might want to stick to outside bubble blowing with this one.

 

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Playdough impressions game

Playdough impressions game

playdough titles

We stumbled on this game by mistake, but it occupied my 4 year old for an hour – I don’t think he’s wanted to play any game for an hour before! Make your own play dough or use store-bought, it doesn’t matter. I also love that this game just uses things you have lying around, there’s no fancy equipment. In fact, all you need is play dough and some things to press into it, like chopsticks, utensils, lego, small figures, toy cars – that kind of thing.

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Directions
Shape the play dough into a large pancake, about an inch thick.

All other players close their eyes, while the first player picks two objects and makes impressions of them in the play dough.

When they’re finished, they ask everyone to guess which objects made the shapes – players are encouraged to try making impressions with objects to see what looks like the original.

You can either leave all the possible objects on the table, or for older children, put away the objects and have them guess with no help.

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Fizzing dirt and dinosaur discovery

Fizzing dirt and dinosaur discovery

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The reaction between baking soda and vinegar is eye-wideningly exciting, and here you can combine it with digging up dinosaurs too. It’s a relatively cheap re-use for toys you probably already have lying around. Here’s how to make it:

You will need:

  • 2 boxes of baking soda
  • Cocoa powder
  • Water
  • Small plastic dinosaurs
  • Large bottle of white vinegar
  • Squeeze bottles
  • Large slotted spoons and tongs
  • Small plastic bin or large plastic bowl
  • Drop sheet
  • Water

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1. Empty all the baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in cocoa powder a tablespoon at a time until the colour looks enough like dirt. Add water a tablespoon at a time until you have a crumbly dough.

2. Pack half the baking soda mixture into the bottom of the bin. Spread out the dinosaurs, and then bury them with the remaining baking soda mixture. Decorate the surface with LEGO trees and rocks if you like. Leave overnight to dry.

3. Put the bin on a drop sheet, as this can get messy though it is easy to clean up. Fill squirt bottles with vinegar and let your child squirt it on the baking soda, which will start fizzing and dissolving. Use the slotted spoons and tongs to fish out the dinosaurs, and the squirt bottles to clean them off. We found adding some water after awhile made a nice, squishy mud to play around with.

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Quick ideas for beautiful yet inexpensive gift wrapping

Quick ideas for beautiful yet inexpensive gift wrapping

presents

I love wrapping presents.

I start thinking about it in early December, I’m that into it. But I have to tell you I don’t spend a fortune on materials, it is only wrapping after all. I’m sure most of you know at least some of these tricks to making your presents look beautiful, but I thought I’d share anyway.

Use plain kraft paper. You can buy a roll at a craft store, or even the post office. From here, you can potato stamp it all over, get your kids to splatter paint it in the garden, or use it plain.

Make a gift bag for those awkward shapes. Forget buying these things, making them is not hard. I love this tutorial that has you half wrap a couple of books for the shape. Kraft paper is great for this, or even that pile of nice wrapping paper you hoarded from last year (is this just me?). I don’t even use tissue paper to stuff them, but baking parchment. Cheap and looks lovely against brown kraft paper.

Invest in fabric ribbon, a hole punch and a pair of decorative scissors. These are things I will spend some money on. Try a fabric store before a craft store, and look for real fabric, not poly blends. These drape beautifully and make any present look incredible, even if all you do is tie a bow. Often people will return your ribbon to you, or maybe it’s just me. Ha. Decorative scissors work well on the top edge of those gift bags you whipped up, or evening out a small piece of wrapping paper that looks ragged.

Use greenery. A quick walk outside with some shears should provide a fistful of nice green bits – you’re looking for evergreens, as they will keep their shape for a day or two outside of water. Even a few snips from the back of your (real) Christmas tree will work. Tuck underneath a bow for a spray of natural beauty. If you’re really without any trees, try the grocery store or plant area of a big home improvement store: rosemary or bay sprigs look lovely and smell incredible, or a twist of ivy wrapped around a ribbon.

Keep leftover cuts of wrapping paper. Colour blocking looks deliberate when you actually ran out of a patterned paper, especially paired with plain kraft paper (see how handy it is?). Cut strips of beautiful paper and layer under ribbon. Make snowflakes with it and paste against a plain background.

Happy wrapping!

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