Gifts To Make

November 2015

When the cooler temperatures come (if they ever do), the feeling of fall settles over me (even without the leaves changing colors), and I start to think of Christmas.

My sisters and I started a tradition a long time ago of “sister gifts”: a special token, remembrance, a thoughtful reminder that each is special, even though they all get the same gift. When my sister Susie was alive, she found exquisite tree ornaments that I wouldn’t dare put on my tree with little hands that would touch. Another sister gave painted snowmen on canning jars filled with snowman 'poop' (a real hit with my boys).

Each year, throughout the year, we look for that special gift that tells them they are thought about—even when we don’t write or call.

One year I gave tea cups filled with assorted tea bags and invited them to enjoy tea at a certain time for a tea party. I was mortified when a friend called to ask how it went, and I had forgotten to sit and sip tea at that time—you know how easy it is to lose track of time with babies and toddlers!

The crunch time comes and here we are again with nothing but ideas.

I share these ideas with you to perhaps spark your creativity to be able to present your own meaningful gifts for those people that are special to you.

If you’re like me, you don’t have time for a soak in the tub, and even if you did, you couldn’t stay in there long enough for the water to cool. (My husband has scrubbed the tub, arranged it for me to relax indefinitely and kept the boys away so that I could…and I lost interest after 5 minutes.) But anyway, the following ideas will be useful for those who love baths, and for those who don’t, some of these ideas can be used in the shower.

I was surprised how much I liked the facial scrubs. They take no more than a few minutes to use, I leave it in the shower to use once a week. They invigorate, refresh and allow me to remove the grime of more than the physical dirt. (But I haven’t personally tried all of these recipes, yet.)

I’m surprised at how often my boys will soak in the tub, rather than take a quick shower. Don’t eliminate this gift idea for those men in your life. (Of course, my husband takes a 3 minute shower and is ready for the day; soaking would be a weakness for him.)

Hope you can find something for those people who are special for you. But also try it for yourself, because you’re special, too.

1. Packaging

My sister-in-law can make a simple gift look elegant just by her gift wrapping.

Me, I use butcher paper, and looks like the fat that we cut off the side of beef, no matter how much I try to make it look special. Packaging does make a difference…but I must accept what I can and cannot do.

Pretty jars can be found in thrift stores. I sometimes hesitate with glass because it is in the bathroom with little children…so plastic bags for minimizing postage expense and for safety may be more practical.

Try printing nice labels. See sources for some printable labels.

2. Recipes

Bubble Bath
1 c mild, unscented baby shampoo
1/3 c glycerin (found in health-beauty section)
2 T water
Essential oil

Body Wash
Lavender Body Wash
1 part Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile Soap (can also use unscented)
1 part water
1-2 T almond oil
(If use unscented Castile Soap, add 20 drops of favorite essential oil)
Optional: Coarse sugar to make exfoliating scrub
Mix in bottle. Shake gently.

Shower Gel
½ c unscented mild shampoo (like baby shampoo; I've tried liquid baby soap)
¼ c water
¾ T table salt
10-15 drops of essential oil

¼ c distilled water
¼ c liquid Castile Soap
½ t oil (grape seed, or jojoba)
Will be thin. Use in pump dispenser.

Facial Scrubs
Facial scrubs start with a basic recipe, adapt for seasons, and specialty scents.

Lemon Scrub
5 T sea salt
1 T olive oil
1 lemon
Mix oil and salt. (Once salt is coated with oil, lemon won’t dissolve it.)
Cut lemon, squeeze over salt and oil.

Rosemary Mint Sugar and Salt Scrub
1 c sugar
1 c Epsom salts
Fresh rosemary, chopped (use as much as like)
¾ c oil (like sunflower, grape seed, sweet almond, or light olive)
Rosemary essential oil
Peppermint or spearmint oil
Use on dry hands or as a body scrub.
Can make shower floor slippery, not recommended for shower for that reason.

Warm Vanilla Body Scrub
16 oz Epsom salt
¾ c oil (like sunflower, grape seed, sweet almond or light olive)
3 t vanilla extract
Mix. If you like a finer mix, blend. Seal in jars.
Can use salt or sugar in place of Epsom salts but this relaxes muscles,
sugar can irritate those with candida issues, and is more coarse than salt.

Pepper and Mint Body Scrub
2 c Epsom salt
1 c oil
Ground pepper
6 drops peppermint essential oil
Mix. Adapt to liking.

Sugar and Olive Oil Scrub
3 T oil
2 T honey
½ c sugar
Mix in that order. Mixing using chopsticks may help.
Do not refrigerate. Will solidify the honey.
Use once a week.
Can be used other areas, like feet and elbows.

Sugar Scrub
1 ½ c sugar
¼ c olive oil
Massage oil for scent. (Use a lemon for a different scent)
Mix. Enjoy.

Brown Sugar Scrub
2 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1 c oil (sunflower oil has no scent)
I T pure vanilla extract
Mix. Seal in jar.

   (includes labels)
   (includes labels)   (labels for bubble bath)

Creamy Garlic-Parmesan Chicken
Panfried Fish (Keto)
Philly Cheesesteaks
Poorman's version of 
Philly Cheesesteaks
Calico Beans
Green Bean Salad
Cranberry Tea
Hot Apple Cider
Hot Chocolate Mix
Chai Tea Mix
Spiced Cranberry Cider
Cucumber Limeade Punch
Gammy's Shrimp Salad
Pound Cakes
   7 UP Pound Cake
   Lemon and Blueberry
Zucchini Recipes
Zucchini Pie
Mexican Squash
Cheesy Squash
Stir Fry Zucchini
Zucchini Bread
Squash Boats
BBQ Squash
Squash Pickles
Thanksgiving Recipes
Turkey, falls off bone, juicy
Butterhorn Rolls
Frozen Cranberry Salad
Sweet Potato Crunch
Christmas Breads
Lemon Bread
Pumpkin Bread
Banana Bread
Cranberry Nut Bread
Glazed Lemon Bread
Pistachio Bread
Poppy Seed Bread
Zucchini Bread
Dill Pickle Soup
Potato and Hamburger Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Soup
Ham and Hash Brown Casserole
Sausage and Hash Brown Casserole
Egg Bite Mold
   Egg Bites
   Pancake Bites
   Pineapple Upside Down Bites
   Cheesecake Bites
   Brownie Bites
   Keto French Toast
Main Meals
Mexican Spaghetti
Party Time
   BBQ Beef and Cheese
   Sloppy Joey
Dan’s Grilled Chicken
BBQ Meat Balls
Cowboy Caviar
Camping Tin Foil Recipes
Ham and Pineapple Sandwiches
Philly Beef and Cheese Sandwich Loaf
Chicken Mexican Style
Pizza Burritos
Omelets in a Bag
Campfire Cones
Bananas in a Boat
Campfire Popcorn
Ice Cream in a Bag
Snacks and Appetizers
Rosemary Nuts
Bacon Wrapped Kielbasa
   Soft Carmel
   Peanut Butter
   Sour Cream and Onion
   Nach Cheese "Dorritors"
Sugar Cookies
Poppy Seed Nut Slices
French Butter Wafers
Benne Cakes
Need Cookies Fast?
Lemon Cookies
Butter Cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cake Box Cookies
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Dumpy Cake
Pineapple Cake
Making Mustards
Dijon-style Mustard
Spiced German Mustard
Need Soap
Gifts to Make
Bubble Bath
Body Wash
Shower Gel
Facial Scrubs
   Rosemary Mint Sugar and Salt
   Warm Vanilla
   Pepper and Mint
   Sugar and Olive Oil
   Brown Sugar

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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