Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes Uncategorized

Indoor Kitchen Projects

Don’t open the back door!

We are finally enjoying a true blizzard in our new home!  Fluffy white drifts tip into the house each time I open the front door.   I’m excited to play in the snow – my first priority is sledding or cross country skiing down Mt. Philo.  I think I’ll wait, though, until I can confidently get back up the driveway when I return.  In the mean time, here are some fun indoor projects that are perfect for a snowy day:


Soothing salves


Homemade crackers



Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes

Busy in the Kitchen for the Holidays

Between special meals and homemade gifts, we’re busy in the kitchen this holiday season. Click on photos below to read more about the recipe behind the image.  Happy Holidays!

homemade granola




Read More!  Check out the following past posts to learn how to make these yummy homemade goodies yourself:


Children and Nature Musings

Winter Play: Recommended for all ages

Wonderful winter hiking: the trail up Camel's Hump
Wonderful winter hiking: the trail up Camel’s Hump

Happy Snow!  Finally, we got something to cover up our icy playground.  Yes, the ice was fun to slide around on, but we were all craving the multitude of opportunities snow offers:  forts, snow people, snow angels (or butterflies), sledding, and yes, probably some refreshing snow eating.   It’s a joy to see what a group of children come up with when presented with a yard full of fresh snow!  For more snowy play inspiration and instructions to cut a six-sided snowflake, check out this past blog post.

Adults should remember to take time to play outside in the winter too!  We went on a wonderful winter hike up Camel’s Hump last weekend – just don’t forget your microspikes.  I still remember the feeling of skating across Lake Champlain last winter.  It was very magical to glide for miles over one of my favorite lakes – one that is over 400 feet deep in the middle!  Though the lake isn’t frozen (yet!) this winter, there are always rivers, ponds, and ditches to provide skating opportunities.  We loved visiting the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area last weekend.

Skating on Dead Creek
Skating on Dead Creek

Snow also offers the opportunity to investigate the creatures that live near our schools and homes.  Tracking is a great winter activity for children and adults.  Check out some of the animal signs we found on this walk up the Lewis Creek and through the woods.  The thrill of this outdoor detective work is infectious – who doesn’t love finding clues along a trail and solving mysteries?  To read more, check out my post about Encouraging Curiosity and Problem Solving with Animal Tracking.

And if the cold temperatures and dry winter air chap or crack your skin, try making your own salve.  It’s quite simple, is a good indoor project for sub-zero days, is a great thing to have around the house, and makes the perfect homemade winter present!

Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes

Making Soothing Salves

Vermont’s cold dry wintery air has never been a friend to my hands.  Every winter I rely on salve to keep my finger tips from cracking and my knuckles from getting chapped.  This year, I discovered how easy it is to make salve myself!


Ingredients: Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, beeswax , and essential oils
Materials: Small microwavable bowls, measuring spoons, and small jars


I couldn’t believe I had almost everything I needed right in our kitchen!  I used olive oil from our cupboard and beeswax candle stubs we’d saved over the past year.  I decided to make two varieties – lemon and lavender.  After buying essential oils at our local health food store, I was ready to go.

1) Heat beeswax in microwave: My goal when making the salves was to not over-heat my olive oil or essential oils.  Liquid oils go rancid easily, especially when heated to high temperatures.  Therefore, I started by heating beeswax, which I knew would need high temperatures to become liquid.  For my 4 oz. batch, I used  1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of beeswax.  The wax  turned to liquid after several sessions of 3 minutes in our microwave,.

2) Measure oil: While waiting for the beeswax to melt, I measured 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of oil into a second small microwavable bowl.  I then warmed the oil briefly in the microwave.

3) Combine ingredients: Using the oily measuring spoons, I added the liquid beeswax to the oil (residual oil made it easy to wipe off the remaining wax).  The wax hardened in the oil, so I microwaved my combined ingredients until everything was liquid again.  I then added 6 drops of essential oil and stirred.

4) Test:  I dipped my finger in the warm liquid and brushed the oil onto the back of my hand to test the smell and feel.  I decided to add one more drop of essential oil.

5) Spoon into containers: Using my tablespoon measure, I carefully spooned my warm liquid salve into small containers and set them gently aside to cool.

6) Enjoy!: I plan on using my calming lavender salve at night and my next batch – uplifting lemon – during the day.  These little jars will also make great gifts.