Peppermint Cocoa Lip Balm Recipe

It seems like ages since I posted a bath and body recipe, so I decided to share my Peppermint Cocoa lip balm recipe. It takes no time at all to whip up, and it smells divine.


You need:

1 oz Beeswax

2 oz Cocoa Butter

.5 oz Olive Oil

.5 oz Avocado Oil

Few Drops of Organic Peppermint Essential Oil

Lip Balm Tubes or Pots


Add all the ingredients except the peppermint oil in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 15 – 20 seconds, stir, and repeat until melted*. Mix in a few drops of peppermint oil. Don’t go crazy. A little goes a long way. Pour into your tubes or pots. They are ready to use as soon as they’re cool. 

All done!

*I’ve never tempered my cocoa butter for this recipe, and I’ve never had trouble with crystallization, but if you want to, you can heat this up very, very slowly in a double boiler until it’s melted. 

Photography – Take your Camera off Auto

I’ve been lazy lately and simply switching my camera to auto instead of manual. I don’t know why I started, but my photos have suffered for it. As I was browsing through my recent pictures, feeling very discouraged, I vowed to avoid auto from now on.  My photos are all slightly blurry, and the camera always seems to focus on something other than my subject (you can really see this in my last post).

To brush up on my camera settings, I visited my very favorite camera tutorial, Exposure Made Easy, at I’ve read a lot of books and articles, and watched several videos on photography, but nothing ever made sense the way this tutorial did. I really recommend it.

Ellie and I ventured out to see if I could remember how to take a decent photo. I’m happy with the way they turned out! I tweaked the color a bit with Perfect Effect, but nothing major. The important thing, to me anyway, is the focus is pretty sharp. You can fix color and contrast, but you can’t take a blurry photo and gussy it up to make it pretty. You just can’t.

Ellie Girl f/4.5 1/800 s iso 200
Ellie Girl
1/800 s
iso 200
Aperture: f/5 Iso: 180 Exposure: 1/800 sec.
Tired Puppy Aperture: f/5
Iso: 180
Exposure: 1/800 sec.

Go take some pictures!


A Girl and Her Dog

We’ve had Ellie for almost two weeks! It’s crazy how fast it’s flown by. She’s the softest cotton ball I’ve ever seen–a cotton ball with teeth. She’s ornery…oh my, is she ever. She’s also sweet. And smart…too smart at times, but that goes back to her being ornery.

GirlandHerDogWe spent our first weekend with her reinforcing our back fence. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but if she were clever enough, we’re pretty sure she could have gotten out.


Here Ellie is, supervising.


Then resting in the shade…

FixingFence3Here she is a few days ago checking it out. She walks around the whole thing two or three times a day.

FixingFence4Can you see how much bigger she’s gotten in just a week and a half?

And look, it’s spring! I love the view from our backyard.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Rifle, Colorado

















Check out the photo prompt here.

Quick Quilted Tote Purse

Last Thursday I got together with my mother-in-law, Pam, to make her a quilted tote purse. I had made myself one  a few months ago because I need something large enough to carry my Kindle and school books with us when we went out.  She needed something large enough to carry her laptop and tablet.

She picked out her fabric, and this is what we ended up with:


It turned out very cute, and now I want to make myself another one!

To begin, we drew out a simple tote bag pattern. Basically a large, rectangle with three inch squares cut out of each bottom side. Here’s a picture to give you an idea.


Then we laid out the fabric for the inside of the tote (right side down), smoothed some quilt batting over the top of it, and then laid our decorative outer fabric over it (right side up). Just like you would do with a quilt). Then we safety pinned the whole thing, and then cut out two of our rectangle pattern pieces.

After that, we quilted it, and then serged around each piece. Pam wanted some pockets, so we made those and added them to the inside of one of the tote rectangles before we stitched them together.

The binding got a little off on the inside, but it looks perfect from the outside so we left it. Now that I see it in the picture, I think maybe I will fix it…

To sew the bag together, we stitched up each side and then along the bottom (don’t sew the small square edges). Then we opened up the bag and, matching the side seams to the bottom seams, stitched up each square.  This sounds confusing, but it makes sense when you do it.

Since the back of the quilted fabric is the inside of the tote, we didn’t have a lining, so we finished the top with binding (just like a quilt. Last we added a magnetic clasp and some straps.

Quick and easy!

What to Wear to a Wedding?

My cousin is getting married in June! I’m so excited for her and her future husband. We were able to meet him last spring, and he’s very nice.

Weston’s going to be a ring bearer and Chelsea’s going to be a flower girl. The last wedding Chelsea was in, which happened to be my other cousin’s, she didn’t exactly stick to the plan. By that, I mean she stole Weston’s pillow and ran down the aisle waving it in the air. She did it perfectly at the rehearsal. Yup. This time will go better.

I’ve been looking at dresses, getting ideas on what I might wear to the wedding. Dallas weddings aren’t exactly what they are here in my little corner of Colorado. They’re all fancy-like. That’s only sort of a joke. Weddings around here seem to be pretty casual–which is sad if you like to dress up. And I do.

Unfortunately, I’m not loving the dresses I’ve seen in the stores.  Either the fit is all wrong or I don’t like the fabric, the zippers are in the wrong place or the neckline is too low. I might be picky.

I’ve decided to make my dress. That’s more fun anyway. Good thing too, because it’s rarely cheaper. I’ve found a few patterns I like. I’m not going to buy one yet, because I have a few-ish pounds to lose. Or a lot-ish. Whatever.

Here are the patterns I’ve been looking at:

Vogue Pattern 8788

What I like about this pattern:

1. I love the bodice, and you can’t tell from this picture, but it has a nice conservative back as well.

2. The poofy skirt. Um–yes. I love the poof. There is something so feminine about a 50’s style skirt.

What I would change:

1. I would shorten the skirt to just above the knee, and add a contrasting lining that peaks out underneath.

2. I would add a nice bright belt to match the lining.

3. And last–this isn’t actually about the pattern–I would use a different fabric. Something summery, something light, something not…that.

Vogue 1223

What I like about the pattern:

1. I love the pleats on the front. I think it would be even more striking in a fabric that wasn’t quite so busy.

2. This pattern, like the one above, has a conservative back.

3. It’s light and summery.

What I would change:

1. I’m not sure about the neckline. It might be a little too low on me.

2. I’d go with a thicker belt–in fact, I think I would choose a simple fabric and let the accessories, including the belt, make the outfit.

Vogue 2960

What I like about the pattern:

1. I like the button up bodice.

2. I like the poofy skirt. Of course.

3. I like the neckline. It feels very summery to me.

What I would change:

1. Like the first pattern, I would shorten the skirt to knee length.

2. Hmm…not sure I love the tiny cap sleeves. I might alter the pattern and omit sleeves altogether.

3. I’d add a belt!

4. I’d, ahem, choose a different fabric pattern.

The wedding is several months off, so I have plenty of time to decide. And a little time to lose some weight…

Which one do you like best?