Tag Archives: Gifts

Making Soap and Lotions

Yay, I’m 30! My birthday itself wasn’t too special. My husband had to work, so he came by to take me home on Monday evening. First, we stopped by the “electric kettle shop”, ie. the electronics store, to get me an electric kettle. We had one already, but you couldn’t take off the kettle so had to fill the whole thing while it’s in the power socket. I also didn’t like its size. My husband bought me a 0.8l kettle.

I loved the week-end before my birthday, however. My sister and her boyfriend came by on Saturday. They gave me a shower gel, shampoo and pure lanolin. Lanolin is used in creams and lotions as an emulsifier. They didn’t know when they bought these gifts that I plan on making my own body creams and lotions, so it was a wonderful coincidence.

Lanolin

The best gift I got for my birthday was however a gift I gave myself: a starter kit for making your own melt and pour soap. Melt and pour soap is made by cutting pure soap into small chucnks and melting them in the microwave or au bain-marie in a soap kettle or pan. I made my first soaps at day activities and we renamed one of the smaller pans the soap pan, because you’ll never get the soap taste out of it once you’ve used a pan for soaping. My art therapist, who also works at day activities but not that particular day, hoped it wasn’t the milk pan. I think it was.

Soap

Once the soap is melted, you pour it into a measuring cup and add colorant and scent. For my first soap, I used red colorant and coconut scent. You stir to make the colorant and scent blend with the soap. Then you pour the soap into a mold. I had a bit too little soap to fill the mold, so my first soap is a bit thin. I chose the heart shape to give to my husband. Now that I’ve made some other, more well-formed soaps, I’m getting queries from everyone asking me to make a soap for them. Most so far don’t want anything I haven’t tried yet, but one woman wants a pink one. That will be a challenge. I’ve already made a green one by mixing blue and yellow colorant, but am not too sure how I’ll make pink with just red, yellow and blue colorants. I don’t know what type of colorant is used in the starter kit, so I can’t buy new colorant and see whether they have a pink one yet.

I also just today bought myself some tools and materials for making lotions. You make a lotion by melting lanolin and a plant-based oil, such as sweet almond oil, making sure they’re well-blended. This is the oily component. Once it’s melted, you need to add the water component, which consists of distilled water, herbal tea or a hydrosol (floral water). You can also add aloe vera juice to the water component. You need to add the water component drop by drop while constantly stirring. Then, let the lotion cool off to at most 30 degrees Celsius before adding essetial oil or fragrance oil. My husband thougth that essential oils are skin irritants, because the packaging said so, and so you cannot add them to lotions even when diluted. I have yet to ask whether this is true in one of the safe essential oil use groups on Facebook, since I’m pretty sure that, if diluted to at max 3%, you should be safe.

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December 2015 Goals

Wow, it’s December, the last month of 2015. Last Thursday, when my husband and I got the keys to our new home, we had to pay the rent for the rest of the year. It’s amazing and shocking at the same time how we have only less than 31 day sleft till the end of 2015. Today, I’m going to list some goals I have for this last month of the year.

1. Blog at least twice a week on each of my blogs. I have restarted my Dutch blog (again!), which means I now have to divide my blogging attention between two blogs. It’s not much if you see how many blogs I’ve created over the past years, but the fact is I’ve never kept up with more than two, so this is hard enough. I am terrible at dividing my attention, so I hope that this time it’ll be a success.

2. Not put on any weight. I’m not going to aim for weight loss in this festive month, because I know that’s just not going to happen. However, last week I was at the exact point weight wise I was last March, which was the heaviest I’ve been ever. It’s only a bit heavier than where i was in September of 2014, but it’s still significant that this is my heaviest weight. I just can’t keep on cutting mysef slack, because then my BMI will be over 40 in no time.

3. Finish at least one of the books I started reading earlier this year but haven’t finished yet. I’ll probably go for Girl in Glass by Deanna Fei.

4. Spend at least one week-end at my new home. I’ll most likely have no difficulty reaching this goal, as we’ll have to hand in the key to our old apartment on the 18th.

5. Buy my husband and father their birhtday presents. My husband had his birthday in mid-November, but he wants a tree for in our garden. I really do hope we can still plant it. My father has his birthday in mid-January, but I want to be early.

6. Not end up in crisis. December is one of the hardest months of the year for me, because the staff are often busy with holiday preparations and stuff and the whole unit is decorated and furniture moved. I have been in crisis each December since being on this unit. Since my medication can’t be increased any, as it was last year and in 2013, I just hope I won’t end up in crisis.

I really do hope I’ll be able to enjoy the holidays some, but that’s going to be hard. I am already thinking of what to buy myself for the holidays (or for any occasion). Last week, I bought myself some products from The Body Shop and I won’t promise there will be no more spending on gifts for myself this month.

St. Nicholas

I am still having difficulty getting inspired to write regularly on this blog. Ironically, I wrote six posts for my Dutch blog this week. Writing those posts gave me one idea to write about here – books I’ve read in 2014 -, but I’m too lazy to write that post.

I went on the SITS Girls website and looked at the prompts for December. Yesterday’s prompt asked if we celebrate with Santa Clause. Since St. Nicholas or Santa Clause is a particularly Dutch (and somewhat Belgian) tradition, at least in its most well-known form, I thought I’d write about that. A day late – or two, since the St. Nick’s celebration is on December 5 here -, but who cares?

St. Nicholas in some ways is like Christmas in the U.S., in that we swap gifts, there’s an old man with a white beard and a red coat involved and we eat lots of candy. There are specific St. Nicholas candies. For example, people often get a chocolate letter.

We used to celebrate St. Nicholas with my family rather than Christmas. At school, we also celebrated St. Nicholas in additon to Christmas. A tradition in many homes and classrooms is to package your gifts in a surprise package and to draw names to determine who has to gift to whom. Of course, you always thank “Santa Clause” and in some cases, who really gifted you will remain unknown to you forever. Like, I never found out who’d gifted me some chocolates packaged in a box that was made to look like a laptop in seventh grade.

At our home, we usually gave each of our family members a present, at least from the moment we were old enough to have some money for it and not believe that Santa Clause existed anymore. I hated the name-drawaing, surprise-gifting process and to my knowledge I managed to persuade (or tantrum) my parents into never adopting that tradition.

Another tradition which I couldn’t keep my parents from adopting was the Santa Clause poem. The most boring kind goes along the lines of “Santa thought long and hard what to gift dear Edward”. The best ones have some kind of moral advice in them and if they’re really good, they’re humorous too. It was usually easy to tell who had gifted me something by the quality of and tone in the poems. My mother was the one with the hugely moralizing poems, my father incorporated humor and some advice, and my sister would make up words in order to make the words rhyme. I hardly ever wrote poems and hated having to read the ones I got aloud. In fact, I hated the whole pretend play involved in Santa Clause once I was old enough to no longer believe he existed. I never went along with it.

Nonetheless, I liked celebrating Santa Clause, though possibly more for the gifts and a bit because we’d always done it this way than for any other reason. It did sadden me that we stopped celebrating St. Nicholas once I got into the psychiatric hospital. Now we visit my parents every other year for Christmas instead.

Birthday

My birthday is over. Now I’m 28 and it’s back to normal life I guess. The entire week was really largely about my birthday and the memories it triggers for me. That’s why I’m linking up with Word of the Week with my word for this week being “birthday”.

I wrote already earlier this week that it’s 28 years since I entered the world and the neonatal intensive care unit. When they came to visit today, my parents gave me a CD by Jan Henk de Groot with music on it about the singer’s son, who spent a large part of his first year in hospital because of a birth defect. My mother said it’s appropriate, and I agree. Incidentally, a few days ago I saw there’s a group for PTSD related to NICU experience on Facebook. It’s for parents, of course, and, while I applied, I may’ve been denied.

My sister already visited last week and brought some nice presents: a T-shirt, storage bins and bottles. The bins were intended for herbal tea, but I stored cereal in one of them, then the bin fell from a shelf and my entire floor was covered in cereal. The bottles are for blending massage oils or lotions in. I have a collection of essential oils already and got sweet almond oil, which is a carrier oil, from my sister, too. In addition to the CD, my parents gave me a nice collection of glass beads for my jewelry-making.

My birthday itself was largely a day like any other. At the acitivity room, I made a collage with butterflies, hearts and flowers, which are both things that make me happy and symbolize things I wish for myself for the coming year: love, transformation and bloom. My husband came at 3:30 PM to pick me up and drive us to the city, where we went shoppping for a skirt for me and went to eat out. I can judge from the skirt size that I’ve gained a lot of weight lately. Not good. I really need to look back at my theme for this year, which was self-care, and make sure I start eating more healthfully. Tomorrow.

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