I just had to share with you this little miracle that happened over Christmas. It’s not earth shattering, or life changing but it is filled with love, grace and thoughtfulness. It shows that God doesn’t just hear our ‘BIG’ dreams but our little ones too… It shows what can happen when we really love each other and hear what our families hearts are saying. I hope you enjoy and are encouraged by this little tale!
This is the sweet gift of love that my family gave me for Christmas.
This is my ‘new’, old vintage box filled with beans, alphabet soup, noodles and faded wallpaper that is just longing to be useful again.
(A useful piece of information to insert here: we did much of our Christmas shopping this year at Goodwill as it was a great place to find ‘like new’ things at an affordable cost while helping not create more ‘stuff’ to go into landfills. It was wonderful to let our girls age 2 and 9 search for the perfect gift for each other and Mom and Dad without worrying they would break the bank or something in the store!)
Little did my sweet Husband and girls know that I had held this little piece in my hands about 6 weeks before they touched it!! I even put it in my cart! I really wanted to get it and fill it up with new spices and give it a new look! But as I went to check out I decided that the time to buy myself a little something was not while I was shopping for gifts for my loved ones. So I gently set it back on the shelf never expecting to see it in a million years!
When I opened it on Christmas morning they didn’t understand my tears or silence, but once I explained the story we were all hugging and laughing about our Christmas miracle! My eldest even told me she thought I’d like to put my ‘Spice Grove’ spices in just like I had pictured in my mind! Amazing! I am so very blessed!
I know that this little tale won’t bring world peace, solve global warming or erase epidemics from the map….but my hope is that it will encourage you today that miracles DO still happen. Love is the power that moves them forward…
Blessings to you friends and thank you for taking the time to read this!
Today I wanted to share an easy and very inexpensive DIY gift you can make for your kids for Christmas! Or use this as an awesome craft to do with your kids this Holiday Season!
I first found this play-dough recipe over at The Modest Mom Blog. She has so many great ideas for DIY crafts! I wanted to ‘spice’ up the play-dough though as presents for our girls this Christmas, so a few tweaks and I ended up with some amazingly fragrant play-dough! It’s great for all the senses. And I made 2 batches so there won’t be any arguing over the sets!! (fingers crossed on that)
Here is what you’ll need.
~Jars – plastic or glass depending on the age of your kiddo’s. I really wanted to use some recycled glass jars I had, but my 2 yr. old still drops a lot of things so we went with plastic ones this year. Here are some I found at Michaels for $6.99 for a 4 pack. With a 40% off coupon they wouldn’t be bad at all!!
~Labels if desired. These FREE printables were also on The Modest Mom’s Blog or get creative and make some of your own!
1 cup of flour
1 cup of water
1/3 cup of salt
2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 Tbsp. canola oil
Food Coloring (I’d love to try this with natural food coloring sometime but I wanted our girls to get to see that so I’ll save that for later!)
1/4-1/2 tsp. of one or more of the following spices, according to how strong you want the fragrance.
orange peel (dehydrated)
1. Put all ingredients in the saucepan. I added my spices and food coloring after I cooked the initial recipe as I wanted different spices/colors for my little jars but if you are making a big batch I would just add the spices and food coloring in at this point too.
2. Heat at a medium low temperature until the play-dough forms a ball. (roughly about 3 min.) Make sure to stir the ENTIRE time. (This isn’t a ‘walk away’ recipe!! :))
3. Put the ball on some wax paper to cool for a bit.
4. When it’s cool enough knead into a ball (if you already have spices and coloring in it) or divide it into smaller portions for your jars. This recipe made 8 little golf ball size portions for me which fit perfectly into my little jars. If you need some ideas to your creative juices flowing here are some scents and color combos that I did this time!
~red – allspice
~yellow – nutmeg
~green – cloves
~brown – cinnamon
~orange – orange peels and ginger
~pink – unscented
~blue – unscented
~purple – unscented
Have fun and get creative with your spices and colors! Pair the playdough with a couple of cute little cookie cutters for an adorable gift set! I’d love to see pictures if you decide to try this spiced playdough recipe! (By the way it’s really fun to let the kids help with this – I was just making this batch for a Christmas surprise so the girls didn’t get to help with this one!)
I am so excited to let you meet my friend Ann from Ann’s Herbals! Not only is she a wonderful, kind and caring friend, BUT she makes the best soap in the world! As you know natural ingredients are super important to us here at Spice Grove Designs which is one reason I was so over the moon excited to meet Ann and her shop! I love that she grows the very ingredients she puts into her soaps and body products so I know they are chemical free. She makes them with such love and care, from the actual product to the packaging to the communication. Each time I order she makes me feel like I am her favorite customer! Plus there’s always a special treat she includes!! (And who doesn’t love a surprise chocolate?) I know what most of my Christmas list will find in their stockings this year!
I have to share that I’ve always had trouble with dry, cracked and bleeding hands, especially in the Fall and Winter. I’ve been buying Ann’s soaps for a while now but only used them in the guest bathroom or for ‘special’ occasions. (I know, I’m silly right!?!) Anyway – I decided I would use them at every sink for a week and see what effect that had on my hands. Within 1 week they were about 60% better and by the end of week 2 they were 100% healed, and softer and smoother (and more pain-free) than they’d been in YEARS!! Amazing!!
I also LOVE the different scents she offers, not just in her soaps but in her lip balms, salves and lotion bars! (Who doesn’t love a mocha lip balm!!) They make such great gifts! Just make sure you buy enough, as my 8-year-old is always running off with my lip balms after Ann sends me a new order!! I just love that they are safe enough to use on my little ones. She even has a new baby soap that I just bought and I can’t wait to try on my 20 month old who has eczema! She has so generously offered to giveaway one of her Ditch the Itch Soap and Herbal Salve Gift Set! ($17 value!) So make sure to enter to win below the feature! Trust me – you don’t want to miss out on this! Now here’s more about Ann in her words.
Tell us about yourself and your products.
I have been fascinated with the healing power of herbs for over 30 years. My whole adult life I suffered from eczema. In the 1990’s while studying Natural Health I decided I needed to find something to help my eczema flare ups. In one course of study the class was to make an herbal remedy from any of the herbs that were covered in the course. It was a perfect opportunity for me to try to “solve” my skin issues. After deciding on the best herbs to use, I went into my backyard and found them all, right there, waiting for me to put them to work. Simple weeds, medicinal powerhouses. Chickweed Calendula and Comfrey. From that moment I made a connection with nature that has never left me. This was the start of annsherbals, my herbal salve. I later changed the formulation by replacing the Comfrey with Plantain and it proved to be equal if not better. From there the inspirations flourished.
My son taught me to make soap. My soaps are not fancy, not pretty colors but they are made from high quality organic plant oils, pure essential oils and organic, wildcrafted or homegrown herbs. They are cut straight from the mold no trimming or polishing just a delightful slice of annmade soap.
I also have two herbal salves that I created, lotion bars, body butters and lip balms. Nothing fancy, my focus is quality and synthetic free. I also have a liniment that I sell locally. A local Physical Therapist uses it when she does massages. I originally formulated it for myself, I was having some leg pain. It worked so well I started letting others try it and by the wonders of nature, it works great!
What makes your products different from other similar products?
I have always had very sensitive skin, metal allergies, and some allergies I haven’t even figured out yet. Many many people suffer with skin sensitivities and by helping myself I knew I could help others. My products bring to the customer:
1. High quality oils and herbs.
2. Synthetic and chemical free skin care products made especially for sensitive skin.
What brings you joy/encouragement in your life and in creating your products?
I can’t stress enough the wonders of nature and what nature provides for us. Everything we need nature can provide. I feel joy and great pleasure in using the natural remedies that nature provides. I am also in awe and amazement at their selflessness in providing for us nourishment, medicine and beauty. I am well aware of their gifts; it is the most extraordinary feeling to create something from nature and watch it work. Seeing my salve help a rash, a bug bite, an eczema flare up, diaper rash, a cut or burn and so much more brings me the greatest pleasure and makes me humble at the same time. I am only the vehicle by which nature can fulfill its purpose.
If you had to choose just one of your products as your favorite you’ve created/made which one would it be?
I have to say my herbal salve, it’s my baby, my first creation that saved my skin and helps so many others. It’s sister salve (simple no pimple salve) which is my latest product is amazing too. So I think I will say my salves!
What does a day in your studio look like?
I actually do my best creating at night. Paperwork and promoting is my day job. At night it’s quiet and peaceful and I do my best creating. I have a very long to do list that gets put off by keeping up with current products and orders. I usually prepare the ingredients for a loaf of soap one night and then actually make it the next night. After preparing the ingredients I will make labels, experiment with scents or a new product. I just finished a skeeter spray after working on it for 2 years. I think I finally got a great blend! My next project is a natural deodorant. I would have liked to of started the deodorant months ago but when you are a one woman show wearing all the hats of the business it takes time and patience to accomplish all you want to do. Most nights I lose track of time and it gets into the wee hours of the morning. I have to say though, there is nothing I would rather do. It’s who I am and what I am good at. I admire anyone who sings their own song, whatever that song may be.
I will end with my favorite quote.
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.”
Where can our readers find you?
I have an Etsy shop, annsherbals.etsy.com. I have a website for products I can’t sell on Etsy, Ann’s Herbals. You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/annsherbals or on twitter, twitter.com/annsherbals.
Ann has so graciously offered to give away on of her amazing Ditch the Itch Soap and Salve Gift Set to our readers!* ($17 value + free shipping) So make sure you enter to win below! Thank you so much Ann for sharing your story with us and for being such an inspiration to me!
*Giveaway open to all US residents only. Thank you!*
**All opinions expressed are solely mine. I was not compensated for this review.**
To see ALL the amazing Giveaways from our ‘Week of Inspiration’ just click here!