Category Archives: Holiday Love

Homemade DIY Body Butter - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

DIY Homemade Body Butter

Homemade DIY Body Butter - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

I saw this recipe last year for homemade body butter, and it’s so beautifully photographed on this blog, that I just couldn’t wait to do it. My plan was for this to be a 2011 project, and since plans were meant to be procrastinated-on, here I am one year later, finally getting around to it!

The recipe calls for “100% Pure Unrefined Organic Raw Shea Butter“. But, since I made this on a whim the other day, I didn’t have time to wait for the delivery of “100% Pure Unrefined Organic Raw SHEA BUTTER”, so I went to the health food store and bought a container or regular old shea butter, and lo and behold, it worked fabulously!

Homemade DIY Body Butter - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

I didn’t have a double boiler, so I just put two pots together. Make sure to skew them a bit so the steam can escape.

It ran me about $75 dollars for the supplies and the jars, but I ended up with 9 little jars, so for 9 presents, $75 isn’t so bad! Plus, I bought WAY more almond oil, coconut oil and essential oils than are needed for the recipe, so I have leftovers to use on myself :)

Here is the recipe, found on

DIY Homemade Body Butter
Makes 2½ to 3 cups whipped butter.
  • 1 cup Organic, raw (I used regular, and it was fine) shea butter
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup almond oil
  • Several drops of your favorite essential oils. I chose Lavender, Frankincense and Lime
  1. Melt shea butter and coconut oil in the top of a double boiler. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in almond oil and essential oils of your choosing.*
  3. Place oil mixture in freezer or outside to chill for 20 minutes.
  4. Whip until a butter-like consistency is achieved.
  5. Place in clean, glass jar and enjoy! A little goes a long way.
  6. *Not all essential oils are skin friendly or child friendly. Please do your research before adding.
  7. Tips:
  8. You can use what ever oils you wish, just make sure you keep the ratio 75% solid to 25% liquid.
  9. The chilling step is crucial. If you don’t chill it properly, it won’t whip or stay whipped. About 20 minutes in the freezer usually does the trick for this batch. Make sure you scrape down the sides before mixing.
  10. Since this recipe does not contain any water, it will not mould. You should keep in a cool place but it does not have to be refrigerated.
  11. I do not know the exact shelf life but I know it will keep at least a few months, plus.
  12. The body butter melts as it goes on and gets a little oily but absorbs beautifully, quickly and leaves your skin very soft.


This stuff feels amazing on your skin, and really gave me a boost on a cold, rainy Connecticut day. It’s also a really nice texture for a nice back rub with your favorite back rub provider.

I made cute little labels, which you can print for your own gift-making awesomeness!

Homemade DIY Body Butter - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

There’s one which lists the fragrance, if you choose to use the same oils I did, and a generic one in case you want to experiment with your own combinations.



DIY Homemade Body Butter - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

Homemade DIY Body Butter - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

Here’s a link to the type of jars I bought, which I found at my grocery store (Stop and Shop):

Happy holidays, enjoy your gift giving and receiving!!!

xoxo, Mere


Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

Smooshing Some Dough

ments - Yin Mom, Yang MomIn an effort to increase that loving feeling that is just so needed in this complicated world, I’ve been spending more time lately doing crafty stuff with the kids, for two reasons:

1. Cold weekends are a huge catalyst for cabin fever, (kids bouncing off walls, making mischief). Crafts contain the mess to one room, and give the kids something to do for at least an hour.

2. Crafty time forces me away from the distractions of the computer, to spend quality time with the kids, really joke around and talk to them, give each other compliments, etc.  It’s good old fashioned family time, something that’s too easy to forget to do when you’re busy working hard to get things accomplished all the time.

So, this weekend we decided to make some of the pretty white DIY ornaments that I’ve been seeing around Pinterest lately.  These are so much freaking fun to make.  One of the main ingredients is corn starch, and I don’t know if you’ve ever made oobleck, but if you have, you know that corn starch is seriously awesome to play with.

While I mixed up the dough, I just gave Brooke a plate of it to dip her hands in, and she loved it!  It’s got such a groovy, smooth texture, and it feels cold.  She preferred to to call it corn syrup, and said it feels like metal.  OK.

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

Brooke wanted to wear a crazy scarf around her head. I think it gave her a certain, mushroomy quality!

I found the recipe on a great blog called The Woodside Kitchen

Snowy White Dough Ornaments
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ¾ cup water
  1. Stir ingredients together over medium-low heat until the dough thickens up. You'll know it's ready to remove from the heat when it's the texture of soft play-doh. Remove from heat and allow it to cool a bit before kneading it out.
  2. You can sculpt it, roll it and cut it with cookie cutters, make thumbprints, handprints footprints. Use the end of a paintbrush to poke a hole for hanging on the tree.
  3. To dry the ornaments, place them on a pizza stone or on a pan covered in parchment paper, then cook in a 175 degree oven until they feel hard. Basically you don't want to take them out until they feel hard and brittle. If there's any softness, keep them in there. For thicker ornaments, this could be up to 2 hours. Thinner ornaments harden up in about an hour.


Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom


This dough is SO fun to play with (again, cornstarch is awesome).  It’s easy to roll out, is extremely smooth, and stays VERY white.  The finished ornaments almost look a little sparkly, like snow. It’s lovely.

We made the cute little mitten ornaments we saw on My Buddies and I, and we also did some fun stuff with cookie cutters.  Brooke had a cool idea to layer 3 thin stars together, and it created a cool effect.

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

I used the last remnants of the dough to make some simple little thumprint ornaments, because I need some smaller, filler ornaments to sprinkle throughout the tree.

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

This was such an amazingly fun project for us, and I’m pretty excited to make more of these really soon.  This could just be a year-round kind of project for us.

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

The finished product!

A Little Extra Thoughtful Gift Giving

Yesterday we had a kid birthday party to go to.  I was expecting to run to the toy store at the last minute (like I usually do) to pick up Legos, or some such age-related plastic, which, after a busy week trying to juggle full-time work with school conferences, 3 days of early dismissals and 2 days of missed daycare due to a vacationing  provider, paired with being down 1 vehicle , I wasn’t exactly experiencing that thoughtful, generous feeling.

Brooke came to me, and showed me a Play Doh heart she’d made for the birthday guy.  Sweet, but not exactly socially acceptable as a birthday gift.  I told her we can give him that, but we should also get a toy.

She says she wants to find one of her toys that’s “boy-ly” (boyish?) to give him, ie: a regift.

I must have really been wiped out, because I found myself saying “Brooke, in this society that we’ve found ourselves living in, it’s generally expected that we buy something new for someone’s birthday”.

Then I stepped outside of myself for a minute, and slapped the realization back into my brain, that my daughter is offering to give him something of hers which she treasured (if only for a day or so), which is thoughtful, and isn’t that real point of gift giving?  And my kinder, gentler, liberal, non-consumerist spirit kicked in to gear, and I actually got excited for the kid birthday party!

She picked out this cute little alligator, which could be considered boyly, and was only played with once or twice, and in excellent shape.

Next up was the issue of wrapping paper.

One thing that presents a continual challenge throughout my adulthood, is gift wrapping.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that my sister Allie is a serious, gift wrapping champ.  Her gifts are impeccable.  There is usually some element of surprise, such as your name spelled out in tiny little stamped letters in gold ink on some stark white, heavy stock, with perfectly rustic twine or some shit tied into some kind of weird but amazing bow shape that you’ve never seen before, pulling it all together, perfectly. There is never more than 3 pieces of tape involved.  It’s special, beautiful, thoughtful, and therefore feeds my self consciousness efficiently!

Well, not anymore, because I love myself, and my sister loves me too, so what’s the fuss? And, last year, a good friend taught me something that has forever cured my wrapping related self loathing (thank you, Cindy).  Hand painted gift wrap!  Here’s what’s so great about it:

1. You don’t have to wrap the present perfectly with this paper.  It’s made by kids, therefore it’s crinkled, sloppy, and sometimes a little ripped.  THAT’S THE CHARM!

2. You can make it the day of the party, which keeps the kids occupied, so that they’re busy, instead of asking you 25 times if it’s time to go to the party yet.

3. It’s special, because it’s hand made. So, if you don’t have appropriately themed paper, it’s OK!

All we had on-hand, yesterday was this cheap tissue paper from the dollar store.  Add some white paint and it’s a work of art!  Plus, I had a chance to sit at the table with my beautiful daughter and teach her how to make a five pointed star.  There are few things I love more than sitting down at the table with a cutie pie and some paint, and in this over-scheduled world, when there’s an opportunity to bond like this, it’s just the nicest feeling!

So the moral of this story is that you don’t have to be perfectly neat to be cool, thoughtful and memorable.  If your inner self is a little sloppy, embrace it!  If your inner self is perfectly neat, embrace that too!

Either way, when you get creative, you end up with something extra special that feels good to share with someone you care about.

xoxo, Mere


For more inspiration, here are a few more cool examples of kid-make-able wrapping paper for you and your little ones!

Pom Pom Wrapping Paper – Housing A Forest

Wrap it up | In Stitches – A Subtle Revelry

Lego Print Wrapping Paper – Mamalibrarian

DIY Wrapping Paper Tutorial - Sugar Bee Crafts


Girly Party Package Giveaway!

We’ve hit a major milestone, and reached 200 posts on Yin Mom, Yang Mom! Allie and I have learned so much about life, support, community and artistic expression in the last 10 months.  This blog has been an adventure for us both, and we have so many more milestones that we’re looking forward to reaching.

As a special thank you to the amazingly supportive, friendly and sweet people who have followed us on this journey, we’re offering a big, amazing giveaway!

One lucky reader will receive……


Here’s what’s included:

1. You’ll receive this absolutely adorable, gorgeous, sassy and sweet tutu (size 2-5 years), hand crafted by Whitney at Little Dreamers Tutus. My daughter sported one of her beautiful creations on her 5th birthday in June, and she was such a shining star!

Pink Poetry Tutu:

2. You’ll also receive 2 dozen custom cookies, made by the cookie genius herself, Yin Mom, Yang Mom’s own ALLIE!  If you haven’t checked out her Flickr stream yet, you’re missing out, here it is:  She offers an assortment of flavors and can do any design/theme you’d like, which you can discuss during your consultation.  Please plan for a 2 week lead time + 2-day shipping on your order.

Allie made beautiful cookie’s for Brooke’s birthday, and since they were gluten, dairy, soy and nut free, everyone got to have a very special day.

3. And lastly, 1 custom designed party invitation made by moi, Mere!  Here is an example of the invite I designed for my Brooke’s 1st birthday, but we can figure out the details as far as colors, theme, etc. during our consultation.  Once the design is ready, I will provide you with the final artwork files in digital PDF format.  Please plan for a 2 week lead time.

Here’s what you need to do in order to enter:

1. Please click here and Like us on Facebook, or Follow Allie and/or Mere on Twitter (click here for Allie) (click here for Mere).  Also, please be an email follower of this blog.

2. Please Like Whitney’s Facebook page for Little Dreamer’s Tutus:

3. And lastly, please visit Little Dreamers Tutus Etsy Shop, and then come back over here, and leave a comment on this post letting us know which one of her creations is your favorite!

One winner will be picked at random, and all of the steps listed above must be followed to qualify.

One entry per reader, please.  This giveaway closes September 7th, and the winner will be picked at random.
Best of luck! xoxo!

Celebrating a Beautiful Little Person’s Birth

We recently threw a birthday party for Brooke.  This is my second attempt at a kid birthday party since becoming a mother 5 years ago.  My first attempt was when Brooke was 1.

Every new mom is pretty much obligated to throw a first birthday party for their first child.  Some decide to continue to regularly throw birthday parties after that.  Others, like me, decide that it’s a ridiculous amount of effort to put forth for someone who doesn’t understand any of it and would just as soon chew on a stick as appreciate the the sentiment.

She really did have a nice time.

Don’t get me wrong, Brooke’s first party was adorable, the food was wonderful, and lots of beautiful friends and family turned out and brought tons of love and cheer to the day.  However, I spent at least $500, and it poured buckets of rain for hours, mid-way through.  Did I mention it was an outdoor party?  I was pretty over it when it was all said and done.

Since then, I vowed only to throw birthday parties for people who specifically asked for them.  Here we are 4 years later, and Brooke took her cute little blonde head out of the sand and requested a Care Bears party.  Ironically, the new Care Bears series premiered on the day BEFORE the party. Thus, there was not a single Care Bear licensed product to be found in all the land.  In two weeks, there will be a Care Bears extravaganza for all to enjoy at every iParty in the world.

But, we made do with what we had, and some very special ladies in my life came through with Care Bears support.

Allie made absolutely gorgeous and delicious cookies, which happened to be gluten, dairy, nut and soy free, which our allergic friends really appreciated.  Brooke was overjoyed.

My mom brought my old Care Bears toys from back in the day to decorate.  It was neat to see my 5 year old playing with toys that I received on my own 5th birthday.  Crazy!

And our friend, Miss Dawne, who owns this amazing place called The Bright Spot, created a Care Bears craft for the kids.  They made their own Care Bear bellies!  Such cuteness!

And yes, this time around I had the party at a facility rather than open my home to a bajillion (lovely and well-mannered, but young) children.  This was a lifesaver.  It was so nice to show up at this place, have another person handle the ins and outs of the day, plan activities for the kids, make sure everyone is fed and happy, while I mingled with my parent-friends and took pictures of the kids.  I actually got to enjoy my own (I mean my daughter’s) party. I wish Dawne could clone herself because she’s so amazing with kids.  Literally, there were many moments where parents were tearing up because she was creating such a magical time for them, and their little faces were completely lit up with joy.  What a beautiful thing.

Lit. Up.

So all in all, this party made up for all the crap that went wrong in my first kid birthday party experience.  A good time was had by all, and I left feeling extremely grateful for my family and all of our beautiful, intelligent and most importantly, good looking friends. ;)


Meal Planning – Kid Food!

Today is my Brookie’s 5th birthday!  Most people would say 5 years flew by, but I think it felt like 5 years.  Brooke is a beautiful fairy sprite, and I am completely head over heels in love with her.  She came into this world and completely turned mine upside down.  Being her mom has taught me so much about patience, and for that I am truly grateful.  I look at Brooke, and I see pure joy, love and wonder in her eyes.  If everyone took a page out of her book, the world would be a truly magical place.

On that note, in honor of my sweet girl, I dub this week Kid Food Week.  Every dinner will be easy, and kid friendly, hurray!!!
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Oh My God, It Is So On.

Looks like it’s time for another Supermom Cooking Challenge (eyeroll).

I’ve been holding off on showing my kids the photos of Allie’s cakes, because I knew it would mean trouble for me.  I thought they’d be really sad about having to miss the party (we’re going to Florida soon, so we couldn’t do a PA trip).

Once they saw the cakes (kind of by accident), they both got excited, and said they wanted cakes like that on their birthdays.  I laughed, and told them that I don’t think mommy is capable of all of that, but I’d make them nice cakes that are more simple.  Leif shocked me, he just burst right out into the saddest-sounding cry. He was deeply hurt by this.  I instantly felt sorry for him and blurted out, “It’s OK, I will make these for you!!”.  What the hell?  The eff?  Oh lordy.

Eff you, cakes.


Birthday Love

33!  Did I mention 3 is my favorite number?

I’ve been so behind on my blog-postin’, but it’s been a great few days filled with lots of birthday loveliness.  My kids, Brooke especially, get so excited when it’s someone’s birthday.  They bring so much energy to the day, and I love it.  Jared let me sleep as late as I wanted on Sunday.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and my little birthday fairy kept coming into the bedroom, bringing me cards.  She was so excited to have something to give me.  Later, she got all dressed in her pretty tutu (for me!).  She said, “I just want to be all pink”.  She kept whispering about the cake.  She asked, “what kind of cake do you want?”.  I told her I like chocolate, but she said “I have a idea, how about a shawberry cake with pink woses!?”.  That went on a few times, and finally I said “You know what I want? I want a strawberry cake with pink roses”, and her face lit up with joy.  It was delightful.

A vision of pure femininity.

I also rang in my 33rd with some new yarn!  It’s Malabrigo Rios in Piedras.  It’s so soft and pretty.  I’m making a scarf. I really love kettle-dyed yarn, it might be my favorite.  I might be tempted to do some of my own dying this summer. I was going to do some kind of new knitting fancy technique, but quickly realized I’m not really up for a challenge right now, which is fine, so I’m making the old standby.  I’m really going to love wearing this in the fall.


Sadly, Jared had to fix our busted faucet for most of the day Sunday, but I did get one delightful moment from that, Leif decided this was a perfect time to fit in some snuggling.

This is how it’s done.

On Monday, Jared and I played hooky while the kids were in daycare, and it was such a perfectly warm, springy day.  We spent almost the whole day lounging around the backyard reading, talking, knitting, and chopping wood.  Yes, my manly man chops wood for fun.  It was a lovely day and I feel very grateful for all the awesomeness around me.  I don’t even mind being a year older, bring it on!

Holiday Backlash

I did not eat hash browns today, winning!

As some of you know, back in November I made a big huge life change and started taking really good care of myself.  I had just found out that I had thyroiditis, and I wanted to make sure I took care so my thyroid wouldn’t burn out and make things much worse.  I was doing so good for a month or so, but then something terrible happened, the holidays.  They completely threw me off.  Fatty food, travel and wine were pretty much the culprits.  My symptoms quickly crept back, despite my efforts to pretend they were gone.

Luckily, New Years Eve was around the corner, right?  My resolutions would fix this.  No big deal.  It would just be two weeks of weakness, and then I would be back to normal.

Well, turns out New Years resolutions fall at the worst possible time for a person to realistically carry them out. Why do we think we could suddenly go from indulging every craving, to complete restriction?  That’s just a recipe for self-disappointment.

So, one month AFTER New Years Day, I’m finally starting to make a little headway.  It’s amazing how hard it can be to make yourself take vitamins after holding off for 6 weeks, but today, I took them. The thought of swallowing pills made me gag a little, but once I did it I was so glad I did.  I haven’t really made it to the gym in a while, but I am trying to do exercises at home throughout the day, so that’s something.

As far as indulgences like fast food and wine?  My husband put it well, taking care of yourself shouldn’t be a punishment.  So basically, if I really want it, I let myself have it, and take care to notice how I feel afterward.  Eventually I get tired of feeling poopy, and gradually I indulge less and less.

Basically, I’m making a movement to change the due date for New Years resolutions.  Let’s shoot for mid-February, is that realistic?

Darn Doll, Making Me Look Bad.

Despite my effort to stop, I can’t help but keep thinking about the starving children in the world.

My little girl asked for a Lalaloopsy doll for Christmas. She also asked for about 100 other things, so it was a little difficult to weed through it all and get her the things that she’d really love the most.  We don’t go overly crazy at Christmastime, I try to keep it at around 5 or six presents each, which for some may be a lot, but compared to my Christmas’s growing up, is relatively small.  I figure they’re so young, they get overwhelmed with too many things, and then it’s money and clutter for us.

So, I opted not to buy Lalaloopsy this year, because I only heard her mention it once or twice, but other things she was a little more obsessive about. Christmas came and went, and the kids were thrilled with their gifts.  Until, I heard her sweet little voice coming from the potty after a morning spend opening and delighting in all the presents, in the saddest, most melancholy tone: “I guess Santa Clause didn’t bring me a Lalaloopsy doll….”.  Sigh, whoa is me, I am the saddest little pitiful girl.  Poo.

I was a little crushed.  The sadness in this poor child’s voice, how could I underestimate her desire for this doll?  What is wrong with me?

We helped her kind of get over it, joking that maybe Santa left it on the roof, and if not I’d have to give him a call and find out what happened.  It hasn’t really come up again since, so she’s OK, but it keeps lingering in my mind.  And the question keeps popping up, “should I just go get the darn thing for her?”.

This doll is actually really cool.  I’m kind of driven to buy her one now, because I actually kind of want one.  I’m slightly conflicted though.  We spent a decent amount of time and money to give our kids a nice Christmas.  What kind of message does it send a kid if they receive so many toys (from us, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, etc) over a 4 day period, and when they’re slightly disappointed they didn’t get one. more. thing., I just run out and buy it for her.  I don’t want her to take gifts for granted.  So, I feel like there should be reason to buy the Lalaloopsy other than just pure whim.

Or, am I just being uptight, the child is four, she’s delightful, and who cares?

No really, I’m asking, am I being uptight?