Summer Resources for the Southern Hemisphere

Tired of reading about winter when it is summer where you live? This round up of summer ideas is for you! :: www.nurturedmama.netI’ve been writing about winter stuff a lot this month because I’m all up in the middle of it. But I know some of you live in the opposite hemisphere, so I wanted to share a bunch of links to articles that are more relevant for you this month. Enjoy!

The Taste of Summer

Getting Outdoors

Self-Care in the Summertime

Crafts and Outdoor Play

Do you have other resources for summer fun? Share them in the comments below!


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Preparing to Conceive After A Miscarriage

Ways to help your body and soul heal after a miscarriage before you decide to try to conceive again. :: www.nurturedmama.netI originally wrote this post in 2013 for Modern Alternative Pregnancy, where I was a contributing writer. I wanted to share it again here, because I think these healing steps are so important (and often overlooked). 

This summer I sat on an exam table in an ER in Denver and heard a phrase I had hoped never to hear: “I’m very sorry, but we can’t find a heartbeat.”

I was in the ER after a car accident, where they confirmed that I was only bruised, not badly injured, but that the baby I was carrying had died perhaps a week earlier, at nine weeks gestation. The doctor called it a “missed miscarriage,” which is when the fetus has died but the mother’s body hasn’t yet shown any of the usual signs of miscarriage such as cramping or bleeding. My body still felt pregnant, but the baby was gone.

I declined the Misoprostol and D&C and flew home to let my body complete the process naturally. It took another couple of weeks, a round of acupuncture and Chinese herbs and a dramatic onslaught of bleeding before the fetus finally passed from my body.

Several months have now passed and I have learned a great deal about how to heal both the body and the heart after the loss of a pregnancy.

If you find yourself in this lonely and tender place, I hope the information in this article will help support you in preparing to conceive again.

Support Your Body In Healing

Miscarriage is a traumatic experience for the body, as well as the heart. In my case, I experienced labor-like contractions for several days before the actual miscarriage, during which I had significant blood loss. I then had follow-on complications which required medical support, including a round of heavy-duty antibiotics.

After a miscarriage you may feel surprisingly postpartum, with extended bleeding, a roller coaster of hormones and emotions, and bone-tired exhaustion. You may have night sweats or other trouble sleeping. It can be beneficial to supplement with additional Iron and Vitamin D and may also be a good idea to take extra Vitamin C and Echinacea to ward off infections. It is a good idea to stay hydrated and eat protein-rich, healthy and simple foods. Check with your doctor to see what he or she recommends for your particular situation.

Let yourself rest as much as you need to – your body has been through a lot and is in recovery. You may need to sleep longer and nap or sit down more often. Too much strenuous activity will wear you out quickly and may increase your bleeding significantly. You may need some extra help during this time to keep up with household obligations. The six-week recovery period recommended for recovery after birth very much applies after a miscarriage.

During those six weeks, take precautions to avoid an infection. My doctor warned me against intercourse until the bleeding subsided, but other sources also warn against hot tubs, douching and even baths. Even if you follow all of the precautions, as I did, your body may retain some tissue that could trigger an infection. Watch for the warning signs, which include cramping or tenderness in the uterus and abdomen, fever, or foul-smelling discharge. See a doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Ways to help your body and soul heal after a miscarriage before you decide to try to conceive again. ::

Process Your Grief

After my miscarriage, I felt angry for a long time before I felt sad. I worried that I was somehow at fault, that I had done something or failed to do something that put the pregnancy at risk. I was ashamed that my body had failed to keep this baby alive. I worried that I was too old to have another viable pregnancy. I was afraid I might not want to try again and risk another loss. I pulled away from my partner and grew impatient with my toddler daughter. I was angry at my body for the complications and how long it took to heal. It took several months for me to feel like myself again.

The grieving process looks different for everyone and in every situation. There are several things that may help:

  • Talk to people who have been there. When I miscarried I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who had experienced this kind of loss. But when I started talking to my friends about my experience I found out that several of them had recently miscarried and I never knew. Not only did those conversations help affirm my feelings, they brought us closer as friends.
  • Create a closing ritual. Whether your loss was very early in the pregnancy or there was a tiny body to bury, give yourself the gift of a ritual to mark your loss and remember your baby. You may want to plant a tree, choose a name for your baby, or create some other memorial.
  • Find someone to talk to. Talk to your partner about your feelings. He will be processing his own grief and sharing your sadness and healing will support for both of you. You may also find support from family, a grief councilor or other therapist, or support groups and forums for women who have experienced loss.
  • Treat depression if needed. If you or people close to you are worried that you are showing signs of deep or ongoing depression, seek treatment. Untreated depression can be dangerous, especially once you conceive again.
  • Give yourself time. Grief has its own timeline. It doesn’t end just because you want it to, or your husband is ready to try again, or your friends think you should be feeling better by now. Allow yourself to feel what you feel for as long as it takes. Be prepared for sadness to come up again at milestones, such as your expected due date, or the date you found out you were pregnant, or the anniversary of the loss.

Try Again When You are Ready

Different practitioners offer varying advice on how long to wait before conceiving again. Some say it is safe to try again as soon as the bleeding stops. My OB recommended two months and my midwife suggested three. The main reason for waiting is to allow your body to have at least one normal period before conception, which will allow clear dating of the next pregnancy.

My acupuncturist’s perspective on the healing process was this:

  • The first month allows the body to clear the pregnancy tissue and hormones.
  • The second month allows your cycle to regulate.
  • The third month is for your heart.

In my experience it really does take this long, if not longer, to grieve and recover, so this advice makes a lot of sense to me.

Talk to your own practitioners and your partner to determine what is right for you both physically and emotionally.

Ways to help your body and soul heal after a miscarriage before you decide to try to conceive again. ::

Prepare For Pregnancy

If you have had repeated miscarriages, it may be a good idea to talk to a professional about testing to identify potential causes of your losses. However, if this was your first miscarriage, the odds are good that you will conceive again easily and have a healthy pregnancy.

Preparing your physical body to conceive after a miscarriage is no different than preparing to conceive at any other time: Eat well, take prenatal supplements, avoid smoking and alcohol, track your cycles so that you know when you are most fertile.

Preparing your heart may take a little more effort. Even if you have made peace with the actual miscarriage, being pregnant again will likely bring up fears and tenderness for you. Many women say that their fears tend to ease after they pass the milestone of the previous loss, but some women experience anxiety all the way through subsequent pregnancies. Talk about your feelings with people you trust and seek help if the anxiety or sadness feels out of control.

Conceiving again after a pregnancy loss takes great courage and faith. These things will be most available to you if you have allowed both your body and your heart adequate support and time to heal.


If you have experienced a miscarriage, what did you find most useful in helping you be ready to conceive again?


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Survival Strategies For Winter Blues

Winter Blues are rough, but there are some straightforward things you can do to help yourself cope and even feel good in the winter. ::

Original image by Volkan Olmez.


I have written here before about how winter often brings along Winter Blues. Even when I think I should be feeling fine, because my home and relationship are great, and the sun is shining and the beautiful mild place I live is being beautiful and mild, the winter months stretch forever. I sink into my personal combination of depression symptoms and every year I’m convinced I’m never going to feel normal again. I always do, but I always forget that I do.

After this last year of illness and recovery, my reserves are especially low. I’m struggling. A swift downward spiral hit me hard about a week before Christmas and I’ve been limping along ever since. In spite of California’s drought (which means endless sunshine in January), I’m still having a really rough winter.

It is really easy to beat myself up about feeling bad. What right do I have? My life is great! Being depressed is so selfish! What is WRONG with you? In fact, when I start hearing that refrain in my head, it is my first warning sign. That’s when I need to start paying attention so I don’t fall even deeper into depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, (often called winter blues, though for some people it hits in the summer) is an official disorder and described in the DSM. I’m seeing more and more people talking about how they deal with their own versions of winter blues, which I think is wonderful.

If this is something you struggle with too, here are some things that help me nourish myself deeply so I can keep an even keel until spring:

Go Slow

Winter is my molasses season. Have you ever tried to pour molasses out of the jar on a cold day? My thoughts move like that in the winter. My body moves like that in the winter. I need more sleep, more time to get from one place to another, more time to get from one thought to another.

So I go slow. And when I feel the need to go faster, I remind myself that there is plenty of time and just keep on going slow.

Going slow also means embracing the things that take time. I knit more in winter, and enjoy the process of one stitch after another sliding along my needles. I cook long-simmering stews and I bake bread. Slow can be cozy and wonderful.

Where in your life could you nourish yourself by going more slowly?

Edit Everything

All that slowness takes time. So I give myself more time. I schedule fewer things. I go to bed earlier. I don’t try to do all the things (even though new things are jangling at me from every direction in January!). I don’t even think very hard about any goals for my life or business until at least February. I don’t take on new clients or projects. I keep our weekends unscheduled as much as possible.

In addition to making time, I give myself physical space, too. I recently read about a study that linked home clutter with depression. It goes both ways – clutter can increase stress hormones, which trigger depression, and when someone is struggling with depression, cleaning up their stuff feels overwhelming. Clutter in my home raises my anxiety. So I use my higher-energy moments to pick up one room at a time to keep it under control.

What can you edit to make yourself some extra time or space?

Winter Blues are rough, but there are some straightforward things you can do to help yourself cope and even feel good in the winter. ::

Get Outside

Exercise, fresh air and sunlight are all recommended to counter the effects of SAD. Get them all at once by stepping out your door and going for a walk outside. If your winter weather doesn’t allow that as easily as mine does and you need a lot of extra layers to get outside or you need to get your sunlight through a window (or from a light), try to get a little of each of these things every day. Even a tiny bit will help, I can attest.

Have you been outside today?

Watch What You Eat

When the weather is cold my body craves sugar. Sugar in the form of bread, starchy foods, and straight up sugar (Have you tried the almond biscotti from Trader Joes?). I also want to pour myself a glass of wine in the evening, or put some brandy in my last cup of tea in the evening. None of these things are helpful to my emotional state. Carbs make me bloated and foggy. Sugar gives me a brief high and then a deeper crash. Alcohol is a depressant and I know I don’t need any more of that. When I drink a cup of coffee in the late afternoon because I’m dragging, I sleep badly that night and am even more tired the  next day. That’s a vicious cycle!

When it comes to eating in the winter, I have to override my first desire almost all the time and make a healthier choice. That means keeping healthier choices at hand and keeping the bad choices out of the house so I don’t have to depend on will power to overcome them.

I’m not advocating a January diet, a juice cleanse or anything else drastic. I’m just saying pay attention. If you eat that cookie and then you feel bad afterwords, don’t make it worse by beating yourself up about it. Just move on, and maybe skip buying the cookies next time so they aren’t tempting you.

What food makes you feel good that you could include in a meal today?

Winter Blues are rough, but there are some straightforward things you can do to help yourself cope and even feel good in the winter. ::

Add Supplements

I am not a doctor and please do not take any medical advice from me without consulting with your doctor, but I have found that taking non-prescription supplements has helped me manage the symptoms of SAD. There are a number of supplements recommended for depression support (both with and without scientific evidence).  What has helped me personally is an increased dose of Vitamin D in the winter, and in years when I’m especially struggling, a few weeks of St. John’s Wort. If you are already doing all the things I’ve suggested above and are still feeling really bad, talk to your doctor about what supplements make sense for you. And if you are feeling severely depressed or thinking about harming yourself, get help now! Prescription anti-depressants can be a life-saver.

The most important thing I do is listen deeply to my needs in this season, and in each moment. When I’m feeling off center I take a moment to check in with myself and ask, “What do I need right now?”

Often the first answer is something true but not necessarily useful (“I want a cookie! And I want someone else to be the mom!”). But if I keep listening, the true and useful will bubble up. Often it is simply that I need to take a break. I really want to sit down and read a few pages of a book. I want to color. I need a snack. Sometimes is is acknowledging that I’ve been really bad about getting enough sleep and I’m so very tired. So I promise myself an early bedtime. Sometimes it is setting aside the work I planned to do during my childcare hours and doing something that looks a lot more like radical self care instead. Sometimes it is throwing over the menu plan and texting the LHM to meet us for dinner at the neighborhood sushi joint so I don’t have to cook.

How do you feel in the winter? What other survival strategies can you suggest?

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5 Ways To Nourish Your Skin In Winter

Even though I live a bare mile from the ocean and tucked up under a ridge that pools the fog around our house nearly daily, in January my skin is totally parched.

When dry winter air leaves you parched, here are 5 ways to quench the dry and nourish your skin. ::

It isn’t just my skin. I feel emotionally parched in winter, too.

But first, the skin. While we think of dehydration as a side effect of hot weather and sweat, it is also common in winter. After all, up to 60% of our body weight is water, and it only takes a 1-2% drop to cause dehydration.

Dry forced air heating and wood burning stoves suck the moisture from the air in your house, and excess water being flushed from your system while your body trys to stay warm work together to dry you right out.

When dry winter air leaves you parched, here are 5 ways to quench the dry and nourish your skin. ::

Here are a few ways I fight dehydration and nourish my skin in the winter months:

This post contains affiliate links.

When dry winter air leaves you parched, here are 5 ways to quench the dry and nourish your skin. ::

Drink Up

Cold water may not be so appealing in frigid weather, but you still need the liquid. Hydrate up with warm drinks and water-rich foods (fruit and soup). A common rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces. Limit caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which are both diuretics and will cause your body to flush even more water out of your system. Hot herbal tea is my friend in the winter. Lately I’ve been loving this chamomile-lavender blend from Traditional Medicinals.

When dry winter air leaves you parched, here are 5 ways to quench the dry and nourish your skin. ::

All-Over Moisture

I apply an all-over moisturizer right after I get out of the shower. Whatever body lotion you like is great, but I’ve really become partial to a very rich whipped lotion I made myself. You can find a really straight-forward recipe here (and a less oily version here). This stuff is seriously rich, and my skin just soaks it up. Making my own in small batches means I can scent it with whatever oils appeal to me, which changes with the season.

When dry winter air leaves you parched, here are 5 ways to quench the dry and nourish your skin. ::

Baby Your Face

A few years ago, after dealing with mild but persistent monthly acne for ages, I tossed out all of my facial cleansers and started cleaning my face with oil in my morning shower instead. It sounds weird but it works. The breakouts ceased and I never looked back. While this simple skin care regime keeps my face clear and baby soft most of the year, I need an extra boost in the winter. So I’ve started using the Regenerating Serum from Frangipani on my face in the evening, too. it smooths out the rough itchy spots that I feel by the end of the day and also it smells great!

When dry winter air leaves you parched, here are 5 ways to quench the dry and nourish your skin. ::

Feed Your Feet

The skin on my feet is my dehydration bellwether. When my heels get dry and itchy, I know I need to take action quickly or the rest of my body is going to be dry and itchy by the next day. I use two heavy hitters to care for my feet in winter: A rich shea-butter based lotion, and a daily sugar and oil scrub in the shower.

My favorite foot lotion is Bee All Natural’s Intense Hand & Foot Salve. Thin hand lotion just doesn’t seem to make a difference on my feet. This salve is thick and greasy, so slather it on and then put socks on!

I make my oil shower scrub, using this recipe. It is simple to make with ingredients I already have in my kitchen and it is very effective.

When dry winter air leaves you parched, here are 5 ways to quench the dry and nourish your skin. ::

Stay Kissable 

I love lip balm, but I’m also so picky about it. It has to smell good, have just the right texture, and not have any scary ingredients in it. My current favorite is this Roseberry Dogoba Chocolate Lip Balm. Yum.

Whatever you use, keep it where you’ll use it. I keep one in my bathroom, one in my purse, one on my desk, and one in the drawer of the table next to the couch. Anytime my lips are dry, I’m sure to have a tube of balm right near by!

Staying on top of body and skin hydration is just one way to keep your whole self nourished in the winter. I’ll be back with more winter-time soul-care ideas in a few days.

What’s your favorite lotion, salve or balm for winter skin care?

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Taking Stock in January

Taking Stock in January ::

Taking Stock in January ::

Taking Stock in January ::

Taking Stock in January ::

Taking Stock in January ::

Taking Stock in January ::

For more photos like these and the stories that go with them, join me on Instagram.


I had thought this would be a monthly feature, but it looks like quarterly might be a better rhythm for me. Here’s what’s happening for me right now:

This post contains affiliate links.

  • Making: Things with yarn. Two cowls down and a shawl in progress. (Also sorting out all my half-finished projects).
  • Cooking: Soups for us and meals for friends who need a little extra support.
  • Drinking: Lots of hot herbal tea.
  • Reading: I just finished The Best of American Travel Writing compilation from 2010 (I loved the long piece on a road trip through Siberia), and am starting The Orchardist. I’m diving in to Goodreads this year to track my reading, connect with me there!
  • Wearing: Layers and layers as I’m all the time cold. I’m loving these Hue leggings that I wear under everything.
  • Feeling: Relieved that we found Bean a great new preschool, but still sad that we had to leave her previous daycare and the best teacher ever.
  • Needing: More sleep. Always more sleep.
  • Listening to: Bon Iver and the Bloom True playlist on Spotify.
  • Saying yes to right now: Going slowly, making only short lists.
  • Saying no to right now: Trying to do all the things. Especially anything that starts with, “I should do….”
  • Thinking about: What I want to create this year.
  • Worrying about: Whether I need to have another surgery this spring.
  • Noticing: The magnolia trees in crazy early bloom around town.
  • Working toward: Plans for new products and an actual shop for this blog.
  • Pinning: Lots of coloring pages and old posts to this Creative and Intentional Living board, which is my new favorite.
  • Favorite thing Bean’s been doing: Giving me lots of kisses. She also blocks doorways and tells me I need to give her 66 kisses to get through. However many I give her, she always requires two more. Also, she been calling polka dots “poppa dots.”
  • Least favorite thing Bean’s been doing: “I’m just going to do this very quickly…” while I’m trying to get her to do something else (she absolutely got that phrase and habit from me, so I’m working on cutting it out of my day, too.
  • Finding most nurturing: Knitting in front of the fire in evening with my man at my side (and usually a cat between us).
  • Dreaming about: A possible trip to Bali next fall.
  • My favorite thing last month: That there are new episodes of Downton Abbey to watch!
  • What I’m grateful for right now: That Bean had two years with Ashley. I realize how rare it is to find a truly exceptional teacher and I’m so grateful we connected with this one.

Want to play along? Copy my list and fill in your own answers or just pick a couple of categories that jump out at you. Post in the comments or share a link if you post it somewhere else. I want to hear what’s up with you, too!

You can find the rest of the Taking Stock posts here.


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Soothing Colds With Lemon And Honey

Soothe sore throats and aching bodies with the age-old remedies of honey and lemon. ::

photo credit: desegura89

Honey has been used in health care for hundreds of generations. It is mentioned in historical writings as far back as the Sumerian gets from the 21st century, B.C.

Honey is a humectant, meaning it attracts and retains moisture, and an anti-irritant. Medicinally, honey sweetens and smoothes the swallowing of bitter herbs, as well as providing its own healing powers. Honey salve was historically applied to cuts and wounds. Recent studies have proven that the high sugar concentration prevents bacteria growth and that wounds treated with honey heal faster.

My family uses two honey-based treatments to take care of a cold, one a simple lemon tea and one a treatment for sore throats.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will earn few cents from the sale at no additional cost to you. This income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

Mom’s Magic Throat Coat

When I was little and had a sore throat, my mother would heat up this thick and sticky throat treatment in a small bowl and give it to me with a tiny sugar spoon. The high acid content of the lemon (sometimes she used cider vinegar), means it can only be consumed in tiny sips The honey coats the throat to ease discomfort and also reduces bacteria. My sore throats always cleared up fast and now I make the concoction for my own family.

1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
1 Tbsp raw honey (local honey is best, but if you can’t find it, here is a source)
juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon (as tart as you can stand it!)

Melt butter or oil in a small pan and add the honey. Heat until liquid and combined. Remove from heat, mix in lemon juice and allow to cool just enough not to burn.


Lemon Honey Tea

This soothing cold-care recipe is especially good with Meyer lemons. I drink this a couple of times a day from the first onset of a cold until the symptoms pass. The steam and heat of the tea loosens sinus pressure, the honey helps soothe a sore throat, and and the lemon juice and rind provide a little extra Vitamin C to boost your body’s natural immunity. If you add a half shot of whiskey to a cup of this tea drunk just before bed, it is a pretty decent replacement for over-the-counter nighttime cold treatments.

1 lemon, washed and cut in half
1 tsp raw honey, or to taste (local honey is best, but if you can’t find it, here is a source)
boiling water

Juice the lemon into a large mug and drop one half of the lemon rind in, too. Add honey and then pour in boiling water. Mix to combine and serve.


What is your favorite lemon or honey treatment for a cold?

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The Best of 2014

The best of self care and creativity posts from 2014 on Nurtured Mama. :: www.nurturedmama.netOh what a year 2014 has been. I’ve had some really lovely highs and some very low lows. I was sick for several months between two surgeries and two rounds of pneumonia, but have worked my way back to health again to meet the end of the year. I have traveled a bit, taken some amazing classes, read a lot, and started painting again. My girl is closing in on 4 and is more independent than ever, which means I have more and more space and energy to follow my own heart again. I feel like I’m entering a new season of motherhood – no longer in the baby years, but not quite big kid either.

I wrote about creativity, self carecooking and coloring. I gave ideas for morning routines, living passionately, and finding grace on hard days.I shared some DIY posts and wrote a fun Pinterest series for Liz Lameroux‘s blog. I put together some of my essays on parenting for the Mothering Moments ebook (free for  newsletter subscribers). I wrote for Natural Parents Network, Bay Area Parents, and Sorta Crunchy. I also was interviewed on The Home Hour podcast by Meagan Francis.

I sold a popular Welcome to Summer Packet and ran the 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday ecourse, but had to table a lot of other products I was planning to launch (look for those in 2015 and get on my mailing list if you want to hear about them first!)

Everything has doubled around here in 2014 – subscribers, page views, and social media followers – so I thought it would be helpful to those of you who are new to see what was popular this year.

Best Posts Of 2014

Most Popular Posts Overall

Thank you for making 2014 a great year here on this blog. Your comments and emails always mean so much to me. I’m very much looking forward to some fun project in 2015 and I’m glad you are coming along for the ride!

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5 Ways To Find More Energy When You’ve Hit The Wall

5 tips for finding more energy when you need to power it up. ::

Background photo by Martin Wessely

Wintertime is my least energetic time of year. I want to curl up under a blanket, in front of a fire, and read or knit or nap.

As much as possible I do those things. My natural cycle is to be slow in the winter and active and productive in the warmer months. I try to honor that.

But some days I really need to get a bit of hustle on and get things done. On those days, I’ve learned a few tricks to wake my body up and dig deep to find more energy.

If you are feeling sluggish and need a move on today, here are five ways to get yourself going.

1. Move Your Body

It is the last thing I want to do when I’m feeling sleepy, but getting your body moving is the easiest way to wake up. Have a five minute dance party, go for a quick walk, or just do a few yoga stretches (this site shows 10 two-pose combinations that are great energy builders).

2. Drink Some Water

Adequate hydration supports good circulation and efficient muscle function. If you are feeling sluggish, drink a glass of water to help your body function in top form, which will help you feel more energetic.

3. Reduce Stress

While reducing stress is generally not something you can fix quickly, there are ways to help you feel less stressed in the moment, which will give you focus and clarity to get things done. Do a brain dump, clear a few things from your calendar, or spend just five minutes meditating.

4. Eat A Healthy Snack

I crave cookies when I’m dragging, but cookies are counter productive – they just make me sleepier! Instead, make yourself a nutrient dense snack that will give you fuel to burn for a few hours. A good rule of thumb is a combination of healthy carbohydrates and protein – apple slices and peanut butter or crackers and hummus. This article has a few good suggestions for energy-producing snacks.

5. Change the Scenery

Sometimes fatigue is more situational than physical. If you’ve been concentrating on one task for a long stretch and are flagging, get up and do something  else for a while. Engage your brain in a different way for at least 15 minutes before you return to the task at hand. It will help, I promise!

What tricks do you have when you need an energy pick-me-up?

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10 DIY Gifts You Still Have Time To Make

Welcome to the December 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Greatest Gifts

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have suggested go-to gifts and gifting experiences for the holiday season for all your loved ones.

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. ::

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will earn few cents from the sale at no additional cost to you. This income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. ::

photo from

Coffee Cozy

For the coffee-drink lover in your life, give the gift of warmer coffee! This cozy is knit or crocheted, but you could also cut one out of beautifully dyed wool felt and some funky buttons.

Fleece Slippers

If you have a little sewing skill, kid-sized fleece slippers come together really fast. I’m making a pair of these to go in a box with special Christmas jammies. I love these bunny ones (though my girl would want them to be cats),  but the best instructions are at this site.

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. ::

photo from

Clay Pendants

Polymer clay is great because it is easy to find, easy to work with and simple to cure (though I’d recommend opening a window while it bakes!). This tutorial has a simple list of materials and very clear instructions that will leave you with a really nice result!

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. ::

photo from

Chalkboard Coasters

I found some tile pieces at the ReSTORE in my neighborhood and I’m turning them into these chalkboard coasters.  This is a fun craft to get the kids involved with, as it is so simple!

3 DIY beauty supplies made from coconut oil. Make facial cleanser, foot scrub, or shaving cream. ::

Sugar Scrub

Sugar scrub is one of those mind-boggling simple things to make that is so very nice to give and use. Start with this Brown Sugar Foot Scrub recipe and adjust by adding different essential oilsdifferent sugar, or a different kind of oil. Great for the whole body, not just your feet!

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. ::

photo from

Lip Balm

Lip balm is also shockingly easy to make, with ingredients that are easy to find. This yummy rosewater balm recipe makes a very simple but sensual balm.   You can also dress your balms up with color or get fancy with your packaging.

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. ::

photo from

Chai Tea Concentrate

I love drinking chai tea on cold days. The combination of warm tea and warming spices just makes me feel so cozy. This is my favorite recipe, but if you are shipping a gift, you might want to try this dry mix.

Photo Bookmarks

I came across this idea a few months ago and fell in love with it. If you have a photo printer in your home, you can make these in about 5 minutes!  Make sure you get a photo where their little belly is showing, because that’s the best part!

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. ::

photo from

Photo Magnets

Here’s another super simple photo gift. This tutorial includes a photo shop template, but you could really just print out small square photos and go from there. So cute!  If you like the idea of magnets, but not photos, think about recycling other items, like costume jewelry or matchbox cars by gluing a strong magnet to the back. The possibilities here are endless.

Do you want to make some handmade gifts this year but think you don't have time? Here are 10 easy and fast ideas for DIY. ::

This photo from (find the recipe for this amazing cookie there, too.)


One of my favorite things to receive as a gift is something baked by hand. Christmas cookies are such a classic gift that we almost don’t even think of them as a DIY gift. In one afternoon, you can whip up a couple batches of cookies and make a whole bunch of people happy. Check out my sweets and treats board on Pinterest for some great cookie and sweet bread recipes, great for holiday baking.

For even more “hand made” (but not crafty) gifts, check out this great gift guide on Zen Habits.

What handmade gifts are you making this year?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Natural parent’s baby shower registry — Since she had everything already for baby #3, Lauren at Hobo Mama is amusing herself by building a list of essentials and a few fun fripperies for a natural-parenting nursery.
  • Gifts of love — Charlie at PeelingClementines recalls her favourite Christmas gift of all time and thinks about how to add this magic to her little one’s first Christmas.
  • The Gift of Letting Go — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has discovered that when you’re a perfectionist, sometimes the best gift is simply releasing yourself from self-imposed expectations.
  • Montessori Inspired Gifts for Babies and Toddlers — Rachel at Bread and Roses shares gift ideas that were a hit with her son last year and what’s on her wishlist for this year.
  • Giftmas Ideas for KidsMomma Jorje offers an original gift idea that hasn’t been overdone and is good for the kids!
  • Favorite CDs for Babies and Toddlers {Gift Guide} — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s favorite CDs for babies and toddlers, some of which were favorites of her children and are now favorites of her granddaughter.
  • The Birthday Turned Christmas Wish ListThat Mama Gretchen forgot to share her birthday wish list this fall, but she’s still wishin’ and hopin’ a present or two will arrive for Christmas!
  • 8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby — Is your family asking for hints for presents to give baby? Moorea, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, offers this list of ideas that won’t overwhelm your little one with toys.

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Creating Meaningful Family Traditions

What holiday traditions do you practice in your family? Are they purposeful or do you do them out of habit? Click through to learn how to build deeply meaningful holiday traditions for your family.

This post was originally published on Modern Alternative Mama last year. 

Are your family holidays full of meaningful traditions? Or do they feel weighed down by things you do by rote, or worse, expectations that leave you drained or fighting with your family members?

This season is supposed to be a special time, a time to connect with family and loved ones and to celebrate the winter holidays. Family traditions can make this time more fun, add a deeper meaning and can also help strengthen family bonds.

But if your traditions aren’t doing those things, consider changing them up. Let some go, adapt them, add some new ones. Here are some questions to consider when thinking about family traditions:

  • What is meaningful for your family?
  • What one or two values do you want to focus on at Christmas time?
  • What kinds of activities are reasonable to repeat every year (and not make mama crazy)?
  • What is your cultural background?
  • What traditions does your family look forward to most each year?

The answers to these questions will help guide you in determining what traditions to repeat or add and which to let go.

Whether you have a new baby, young children, are blending two families or just wanting to change it up, here are some fun family traditions for you to consider.

Holiday traditions you can do with a baby

  • Make an ornament with a hand or footprint.
  • Make or buy an ornament with a recent photo of your child. Add a new photo ornament each year.
  • Take a cute photo for your holiday card. (Qho doesn’t love a baby in a Santa Hat?)
  • Make or give a special new stocking for the newest family member.
  • Gift a Christmas music box with a favorite carol.
  • Write a letter to your child (and do it every year).
  • Start a Christmas scrapbook.
  • New Christmas jammies or a blanket.

Holiday traditions that involve bigger kids

  • Make a batch of ornaments (grandparents love these) and keep one for your own tree.
  • Leave your shoes out on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th).
  • Give a special ornament to each child. When they eventually move out, they can take that collection with them to decorate their own tree.
  • Make cookies, have a cookie decorating party or a cookie exchange party.
  • Count down to Christmas with a themed advent calendar. Make it a craft advent, a family activity advent, or a book advent.
  • Wrap up “Christmas Eve in a box” with new pajamas, cosy socks, movies, hot chocolate and pop corn.
  • Drive around looking at Christmas lights.
  • Volunteer together (adopt a family, staff a food kitchen, support a cause, donate toys, food or warm clothing).
  • Go to a Christmas tree farm to cut down a tree and decorate it as a family.
  • Have special books or readings that only come out at this time of the year.
  • Practice giving: Help your kids make gifts for other family members, choose a special toy to pass on to a sibling, and help wrap gifts for others. Some gifts kids can make themselves are coupons (let them pick what the coupon can be traded for!), craft projects, handmade ornaments, those cookies you made together, or writing letters to soldiers or others who are far from their families.
  • Make a “wishmas tree” and decorate with wishes for other people.
  • Go caroling in your neighborhood
  • Attend the late service at your church on Christmas Eve, even if it is way past bedtime.
  • Go to a Christmas music concert.
  • Leave cookies for Santa (and then leave Santa evidence around the house for the kids to find in the morning).
  • Create a scavenger hunt for special presents.
  • Take turns opening presents so everyone gets to see all the gifts.
  • Make gingerbread houses (or cardboard houses if gingerbread and icing is too messy for you).
  • Have silly Christmas Eve fun, like having a themed dinner, have your kids put on a show or have a family-wide talent show.
  • Take the same picture each year of the whole family.
  • Write a love letter to your kids or husband.
  • Take the kids on a surprise adventure, like this Minivan Express.

Remember that an activity can be fun and still be full of meaning, especially if you talk to your kids about why you are doing something and why it is important to you to do it every year. Don’t forget to get the kids involved in deciding what traditions to repeat or not. You might be surprised at what means the most to them at the holidays. It might not be the presents!

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

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