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A natural approach for good health – for Mama & baby

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Creative Gifts for Creative People – All Sorts of Handmade Gifts to Inspire You! by Natural Health Mama

Still stuck for ideas?  Here’s a selection of handmade gifts that have been made by or for me.


1. Homemade Lamp


All you really need is an old lamp, either that you have lying around or you can easily find one in a charity shop.  To personalise it you just need to get your creative head on as to how you want to make the lamp-shade.

The base and bulb-fitting I took from an old lamp and made a few adjustments.  I used wooden skewers and twine to form the box shape.  I stretched material from an old top around each side, and then sewed the edges together down each corner.




2. Notice Board


I made this for my husband (who is an author), designed to stand up on his desk so he can arrange his notes for writing.  I fixed pegs to this one, which suited the way he arranged his notes at the time, but have since removed them so that he can use it with drawing pins instead.

It’s actually pretty easy to make – thick cardboard cut to the size you want, then I firstly stretched a piece of a quilted mattress-protector over it, and then secondly stretched a piece of old blue curtain over the top.  This meant that it was squashy enough for pins to be stuck into it.  For the border I cut rectangular ’tiles’ out of thick card, then wrapped each one in nice paper, and used a glue-gun to stick them around the edges.  The hinge was made from obscure bits and pieces, but if you wanted to make one with a hinge, just buy a door hinge and either superglue it on or screw it on!




3. Board Game


I made this for my brother a few years ago, based on a series of detective stories I used to write for him when we were young.  It’s soooo much fun to make these, and all you need is card, nice bright colouring pens, a fine black marker, and sticky-back plastic to cover it when it’s finished.  You can even make game cards and counters… get as creative as you like!




4. A personal painting or drawing


I painted this for my Auntie quite a long time ago – she is a violin player in a folk band and adores violins and treble clefs!  (Something about the shape of them…)  So I decided to do her a textured painting – the treble clef is made out of modelling clay, glued onto the canvas and then painted over the top.  The sheet music I printed out and stuck on, with paint over it.  I used acryllic paint and scratched into the surface… I just kinda made it up as I went, and think it turned out pretty well!  But the point is, if you make something personal for someone, they will want to keep it forever.




5. Vanity case filled with handmade natural beauty products


See yesterday’s post for details of the items included in this.




6. Mobiles and wind-chimes


There are so many ways you can make these. using all sorts of bits and pieces.  This one is made using shells, with tiny holes made to thread the string through, and a simple wooden cross shape to hand them from.  It sounds lovely in the breeze!




This one was made for me by my sister.  She bought it plain and then hand-painted images onto it.  I love it, it’s so personal and special.




7. Bookmark to accompany a book you’ve bought


This bookmark was made for me by a friend when I was a teenager, and I still have it all these years later.  It’s such a good idea – a simple lace with wooden beads, and it makes a really good bookmark!  A hand-made bookmark gives a nice touch to a bought book I think.




8. Knitted gifts


If you can knit, your friends will never be short of a good gift!  There are so many things to make, such as the following:

A tea-cosy knitted for me by a friend (this is in the shape of a sheep as I am originally from the Yorkshire Dales, England)




Fingerless gloves, also knitted for me by the same friend




And my same good friend made this gorgeous blanket for my new-born baby




Cardigans… This was knitted for my baby by a friend of my Mum’s




9. Homemade toys


I made this for my son using one of his organic cloth nappies!  I wanted something made from organic material that would be okay for him to chew when he started teething.  So the white body & head is made from a Disana nappy-wrap, and the coloured parts I made from an organic hat he grew out of.  I put a couple of bells inside it so it jingles when he shakes it.  I’m happy to say he plays with it a lot!




Yep, any excuse to get a photo of one of my cats in…




10. Rain sticks/Jingle sticks


I am yet to do a post on how I made these, but the idea of rain sticks isn’t mine so you can do a search online for other people’s instructions.  Most instructions I found made these with nails or tacks, but if you’re making them for very young children like I have, then I’d say use something less sharp, like split-pins.  They are lots of fun to play with and a relatively quick thing to make… a guaranteed hit for a child you have no idea what to buy!




11. Hand-painted clothing


My sister bought plain white baby vests and painted these wonderful designs onto them for my baby.  But this idea isn’t limited to babies – you can make adult versions too by painting onto plain t-shirts, skirts, hats, scarves, whatever.  Just make sure to use fabric paints!




13. Recipe books, notebooks, etc

These can be made very simply.  This is a quick one I made – squares of different coloured card with holes punched through one side, and ribbon threaded through to hold all the pages together.  I then printed out recipes and stuck them onto the pages.  You can spend more time making the cover look really nice, but this is just to give you an idea!




14.  Homemade edibles

You can’t go wrong with homemade goodies in hand-decorated jars or boxes.  You can make chocolates, truffles, cookies, pastries, loaves… anything you want!  These are just a few examples of my own original creations…

Hazelnut & Brandy Truffles, Fruit & Nut Truffles, and Sweet Cinnamon Oaties




Mini Blueberry & Wheatgrass Honey Cookies




Goji Berry Heart Honey Cookies




Sweet Potato and Cacao Swirl Pastries




15. Personalised ‘Memory’ Pictures

This is a gift I made for my husband when we lived in Connemara, Ireland, each image in it symbolising something important to us about the area.  This I called Our Connemara World (of many stories).




If you enjoyed this post, please follow me for more seasonal crafts and healthy recipes throughout December!


Many thanks.


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Homemade Gift Idea – Vanity Case Filled with Homemade Natural Beauty Products by Natural Health Mama



Buying a basket of beauty products makes a lovely gift, but making one yourself is even lovelier!  Plus this way you know exactly what ingredients are in the products – meaning you’re not only not harming your loved-ones with toxic chemicals, but your homemade products will be healing.  The best part is that these products can be tailored to suit the intended receiver’s individual natural beauty.  For example, hair rinses that enhance specific hair colours; moisturisers that suit either dry or oily skin; different essential oils in the deodorant to be more ‘flowery’, more ‘earthy’, more whatever… The options are endless and so is the creative enjoyment in putting this together!


Some of the items included in this vanity case I have done previous posts on, so have included links to the posts for you to see the processes of making them, and for additional information relating to the ingredients.  None of them are particularly difficult!  Then you can either buy a vanity case to put the items in, or they are often to be found in charity shops, or if you can’t find one you can put all these things into a gift basket or box instead – perhaps packed decoratively using tissue paper, tinsel, foam peanuts, cellofane and ribbons.


1. Moisturiser 


For how to make it, please see my previous post here.


This is a very easy and simple moisturiser anyone can make at home, using ingredients you can easily obtain at your local chemist, health food store or online, and cost a fraction of what you’d spend on commercial beauty products… I love this moisturiser as not only does it leave your skin  feeling soft and nourished, it’s also easily absorbed, and smells amazing due to the cocoa butter!


What you will need:
2 tblsp cocoa butter, 2 tblsp shea butter, 1 tblsp coconut oil, 1 tsp vitamin E oil, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp aloe vera.


I then decorated the container using tiny glass beads and a glue-gun, and a hand-made label covered with sticky-back plastic.





2. Nourishing Hair Rinse


For how to make it, please see my previous post here.


Our hair is able to condition itself with natural oils secreted from follicles, yet when we use shampoo these oils are stripped away and not only dries our hair out, but harms our scalps as well… This hair rinse will be suitable for all hair types, so you can  try it out and then adjust the ingredients or quantities if you want to.  It’s worth spending a bit of time researching, as there are so many possible ingredients to use, which will enhance your natural colour as well as taking care of your scalp.


What you will need:
2 tblsp dried chamomile flowers,  2 tblsp dried calendula petals,  1 tsp dried sage,  1 tsp dried rosemary,  1 tsp dried thyme,   2 tblsp apple cider vinegar,  2 tblsp witch hazel,  1 tblsp aloe vera.


You can hang something decorative around the neck of the bottle for a nice finish.





3. Healing Conditioner


This is great for anyone with dry or damaged hair, as not only does it not contain any of the harmful chemicals that will further damage the hair, but the natural ingredients it does contain will help heal the hair and scalp.


What you will need:


5 tblsp plain natural conditioner, 2 tblsp dried chamomile flowers, 2 tblsp dried calendula petals, 1 tblsp dried sage, 1 tblsp dried rosemary, 1 tblsp wheatgrass powder.


I make this in a similar way to the hair rinse above – First I put the dried herbs together in a jar and cover with boiling water.  Allow to brew for at least 30 minutes, then strain into a bowl through cheesecloth or old stockings.  Mix in the natural conditioner and wheatgrass powder, and then pour into a suitable bottle (using a funnel helps for this part!).  I then put a hand-made label onto it, covered with sticky-back plastic, and a ‘necklace’ of tiny glass beads around the neck of the bottle.




4. Stick Deodorant


For how to make this, please see my previous post here.


A very effective non-toxic and non-sting deodorant that takes care of your skin with all-natural ingredients… Commercial deodorants and antiperspirants usually contain a concoction of harmful carcinogenic ingredients, including aluminiun,  parabens, triclosan, talc, propylene glycol, steareth-n and many others.  These toxins are particularly harmful to women who shave their armpits, as skin is damaged and so procures a higher exposure.  Also, as with any chemicals applied topically, they are absorbed into our bloodstreams and can cause any number of mild to very serious diseases.


What you will need:
2 tblsp shea butter,   1 tsp coconut oil,   5 drops vitamin E oil,  30 drops tea tree essential oil,   1 tsp aloe vera,   3 tblsp arrowroot powder,   4 tblsp Diatomaceous Earth (food grade).


All I want to say – this is my favourite deodorant EVER.  It really is extremely effective!





5. Herbal Bath Bags


These are like tea bags for the bath!  Not only do they smell wonderful, but they are great for the skin, the body (as the medicinal properties of the herbs are absorbed), and mental health too as these herbs encourage relaxation.  They are very easy to make, taking only a few minutes.


What you will need: (makes 2)


1 large piece of cheesecloth, 6 tblsp dried chamomile flowers, 6 tblsp dried lavendar, 4 tblsp dried marjoram, string or ribbon to tie.


Fold the cheesecloth in half lengthways, then cut in half so you have 2 squares of double-layered cheesecloth.  Put 3 tblsp of chamomile, 3 tblsp of lavendar and 2 tblsp of marjoram into the centre of each square, then gather up the edges and secure tightly using the string or ribbon.  Easy!  Then to use simply pop into the bath along with yourself, and you can soak there together 🙂  The cheesecloth can be re-used many times.




6. Homemade Candles


I recently discovered just how easy candle-making is.  A friend bought me a starter kit a few years ago and I only just got round to using it!  It contains candle wax, wick, dye, and candle moulds.  But if you’re unable to get a kit like this, just buy some wick, and you can melt down old candles – pour them into silicone muffin cases or jars, and they make lovely handmade gifts for people.  I thought they would make a nice addition to the vanity case, as they can be burned whilst the person is enjoying a relaxing soak in the tub.




7. Homemade Hair Band


I made this using an old ski-snood I never used, and I took the elastic part from anther worn-out head band.  I cut a wide strip from the snood, folded it lengthways and sewed the seam.  I then attached by sewing each end to the ends of the elastic part, and hey presto!  You can also make even simpler versions of these by using stretchy material from old tops, leggings, stockings, even socks!  Anything stretchy.




8. Facecloth


This isn’t homemade obviously, but I did tie it up with a ribbon myself!  It needn’t cost much, but a soft facecloth made from natural materials makes a nice addition to the vanity case.




8. Cactus Body Brush

This is a long-handled brush from the Body Shop, perfect for dry-skin brushing (but it can also be used in the shower/bath).  Dry brushing helps remove dead skin cells, unclogs pores and encourages the skin to release toxins.  It softens skin, reduces cellulite and improves circulation.




9. Small Mirror


I bought a cheap simple mirror, then painted and gave it a coat of glitter for a nice hand-finished touch.  If you have more time, you could buy a basic mirror and hand-make a frame for it yourself, using things like drift-wood, shells, dried & pressed leaves and flowers, wooden beads… anything you can think of!






If you enjoyed this post, please follow me for more seasonal crafts and healthy recipes throughout December!


Many thanks.


All photos in this post are my own original.



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Simple Homemade Wreath Part 2 – Making It! by Natural Health Mama



Part 1 was about gathering and preparing the fir cones and evergreens, and so now in part 2 we can put it all together!


I’m not one for rules and absolute perfection, but prefer instead to have a go and find my own ways of doing things.  I used to look up online ‘correct ways to do this, that, and the other’, and half the time the method sounded so complicated that I’d decide I couldn’t be bothered.  I’m sure there are particular methods and ‘proper’ ways to make wreaths, but making it without any guides worked for me!  So if you want to make one but don’t have this exact thing or can’t do it this exact way, just make your own adjustments and as long it doesn’t fall apart, it’ll be fine!!!  This is my first ever homemade wreath and I enjoyed it so much I’m going to make one every year for sure.


I just needed one last essential thing from the forest – sticks to make the frame.  You can buy wire wreath frames, and I do actually have one, but I think making it from sticks is part of the fun and it feels so satisfying to know you made every last bit of your homemade wreath!


So, back out into the forest I went (on a dry day of course, I didn’t want damp wood)…




And again I was joined by Happy Monday…




No surprises there was an abundance of sticks on the forest floor – I tried to get the bendiest ones I could find as in my experience now that’s the key to a successful frame…




I was happy to find some dried woody vines that are perfect, as they come in long pieces and already have a lovely twisted effect going on…




I bent one of them round into a circle (ish) shape and used garden wire to secure it…




I then took another piece and wove it around the initial circle…




And then it’s simply a case of weaving more and more sticks in and out, posting bits into gaps and securing bits with garden wire to hold them in place and get the shape you want.  It’s not hard, it’s just a little time-consuming, but enjoyable as it’s actually pretty therapeutic…




You could keep going and make the frame as thick as you like, but I decided this was thick and strong enough, ready to add the evergreens and fir cones…




layed all my bits and pieces out on the table, and then simply posted branches of all the different evergreens into the frame.  My method was to do the whole lot of one type, and then the next lot of a different type, as I decided this would help it to be evenly arranged.  I suppose it may look a little lop-sided if you accidentally end up with too much holly on one side or something!  I also used garden wire where needed to hold bits in place…




Once my evergreens were all woven in, I then moved onto the fir cones.  I wound garden wire around the cones, and then twisted the wire around bits of the frame or evergreen, anywhere is fine as long as it’s fastened securely onto something…




I found using fir cones not only help it to look lovely, but they’re great for filling in gaps…




I then fastened a long length of garden wire to the frame to enable me to hang it up.  You can leave it very plain and natural looking like this if that’s your preference…




But I decided a splash of red gives it that finishing festive touch!  If you don’t have a ribbon you can use red berries (real or fake), red fir cones (bought or painted yourself), red bells, anything you can think of really, it’s in your creative hands 🙂




If you liked this post, please follow me for more seasonal healthy recipes and crafts throughout December!


Many thanks.


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Simple Homemade Wreath Part 1 – Gathering and Preparing Fir Cones & Evergreens by Natural Health Mama


One of my favourite ways to get the house feeling festive is to bring the outdoors in.  Luckily, living on the edge of a forest makes this pretty easy!  If you live in the city you might have to drive into the countryside to do your gathering – alternatively you can order evergreens and fir cones online, just do a simple internet search for what’s available for delivery to your local area.

A couple weeks ago I took advantage of a dry and sunny afternoon – armed with a basket and a garden cutters.  As I said, i live on the edge of a forest in County Donegal, Ireland, and my garden literally merges with the forest so all I have to do is walk out my door and into the trees 🙂



The first thing I spotted that I needed was fir cones, just lying there on the forest floor for me to gather.  One of my ‘forest cats’ Happy Monday came to see what I was up to…




Then I started to cut bits of holly, which grows in abundance here.




As it had been very stormy a few days previous I noticed branches from an evergreen tree were lying there on the ground, so I thought why not use them too?




Ivy – a beautiful yet destructive plant that wraps around anything it comes across.  I cut a few bits from the base of my favourite tree that is outside my bedroom window… Not wanting to sound crazy but I do get the impression She is a she, and somehow is aware of me too!




Once I’d gathered enough cones and bits of greenery, I brought the lot inside to sort out.




The evergreen cuttings can simply be hung up somewhere dry.  I just wrapped bits of garden wire around the stalks and hung them from a string line I put up in the spare bedroom.  They have been hanging for about 3 weeks now and they haven’t rotted or become mouldy, so as long as the place you hang them is dry there should be no problems.




With the fir cones I first picked all the ‘bits’ that were stuck to them…




I then cleaned them by soaking them in a basin with half water, half vinegar, for about 20 minutes, giving them a swish around every now and then…




I then lined a baking tray with foil and put the fir cones in.  I then covered them over with foil and popped them into a hot oven (about 200 degrees Celcius) for about 1 hour 30 minutes.  When fir cones are wet they are closed like this, but when properly dry they open up.




When the fir cones have dried and opened up, they are ready to use for whatever crafty things you want.  You can paint or spray them different colours, varnish them, or simply leave them natural as they are.




In part 2 I will be demonstrating how to make the wreath from all these bits we’ve gathered and prepared, so please stay tuned!


If you liked this post, please follow me for more seasonal healthy recipes and crafts throughout December!


Many thanks.


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Winter Solstice “Return of the Light” Countdown Calendar – An Original Homemade Creation by Natural Health Mama

What has creativity to do with health, you may wonder?  Well… a lot!  Creativity is about expressing something of yourself, it can be done as a shared activity and so is a good way to be social, and it can be very therapeutic both in company or if done alone.   Throughout this month I will be sharing seasonal crafts as well as recipes, and hope you enjoy them!






I have just finished making this – an alternative to the popular advent calendar.  I love the festive season but much about it has become too commercial, and so I like to create my own traditions that feel meaningful and real.  The focus of my celebrations: people I love, nature’s provisions, and creative expression.  My thinking behind this piece is that one purple segment is pulled back each day until the Solstice on the 21st, and when the final piece is pulled back we have a complete sun: this symbolises how the winter darkness gives way to the sunlight.  We will then light the candle in the centre and celebrate the return of the light.

Winter Solstice is a very simple tradition which looks forward to the returning sunlight and longer days.  Many people burn a Yule Log, light candles, gather with friends around a fire… all sorts of light-focused symbolism. You can read more about it here if you wish.

I know the Return of the Light is a pagan tradition, but I’m not a pagan.  I was raised Christian – I even did a degree in Christian Ministry & Ethics – but these days I feel I can no longer assign myself to that or any other religion.  At the core I guess I’d be Taoist, but I don’t even call myself that… I don’t think in terms of labels and boxes.  Truth is truth is truth, no matter who said it or what religion/way it ‘belongs’ to.

Since becoming a mother I give much consideration to what values I want to nurture. Only in recent years did I even hear about this idea of celebrating the return of the light, and I thought – what a lovely thing: to honour the sun that is absolutely essential to our very existence.  Taking the time to appreciate something that isn’t about man or material.  I don’t know what I think about advent and the nativity anymore, but I do know that I’m very thankful for the sunlight.  So it seems to me celebrating the return of longer days is a wonderful tradition, centred around gratitude and love – and away from presents and gorging on rich food!  I suppose my family traditions are a bit mix-and-match now, as we will celebrate Christmas day as well as the Return of the Light, but to me that’s part of a spiritual connection with the wider community – sharing in the unavoidable atmosphere of merriment this time of year, and smiling at the smiles of strangers.  It’s all good 🙂

Also having something to ‘countdown’ means my son isn’t going to miss out whilst other children are counting down with their advent calendars.  The Christian Christmas, or indeed the commercial Christmas, isn’t the only way to bring excitement into the season.  When I was pregnant I had a conversation with a friend about Father Christmas – I was saying that I had no intention of pretending to my son that this character exists, as it’s not truthful.  But she seemed to be of the opinion that this would deny him some of the excitement of Christmas, as Santa is an important part of childhood experience.  But honestly I don’t agree at all.  I think excitement comes from the traditions you create together as a family, the time you spend with each other, and having the experience of something you feel is special and important.  To me, the festive season is a time for expressing what we carry in our hearts the rest of the year.

Anyway, in case any of you like my calendar enough to make your own I will show you, and it really isn’t difficult.  This is something children can help to make too with adult’s help.


What you will need:


Thick card (eg taken from a fruit & veg box)

Bathroom tissue

PVA glue


Stanley knife or strong scissors

Paint – gold, yellow, red, blue


Candle (I got one in a gold tin with a lid)

Fir cones (either bought or prepare your own)

Small cable ties

Snowflake or stars stickers

Glitter – red and gold




Cut out two circles of the same size from the thick card.  I drew around a 9″ cake tin, but the size isn’t too important.




Divide one of the circles into 24 equal segments, and cut using a ruler and stanley knife or strong scissors.  Sounds odd, but discard 3 of the pieces (or keep as spares).  Once the pieces are covered in paper mache, they will be larger and I found that doing this left me with the perfect amount of space for 21 segments to ‘open’ from the base.






In a suitable container mix together 2 parts PVA glue to 1 part water, I don’t know the exact quantities but you’ll need quite a bit!  You can always mix more if needed.  Tear off strips of bathroom tissue and dip into the glue mixture, and cover all the cardboard segments and the other cardboard circle.  Once dry this will make all the pieces nice and firm and textured.  Leave to dry somewhere warm – mine took about 2-3 days to dry, but it will depend how warm your house is (mine is cold!)  I used an old dish-drying rack to stand the pieces up in.






Once the pieces are dry you can now paint them.  I half-mixed gold, yellow and red paint together (I like a bit of streakiness).





At this point I decided I wanted the circle more textured, so I got my PVA glue and bathroom tissue again and formed a spiral.  I painted the circle the same colours as the segments, and left them all to dry for another day.





Now for the final bit of painting – neatly paint one side of the segments a ‘night time’ colour, I mixed gold, blue and red paint together which gave me a lovely shimmering midnight-purple colour.  I did this one evening and they were dry by the following morning.




Place your candle in the centre of the circle (unattached so it can be replaced), and around it firmly glue on the fir cones using a glue gun or super glue.  Maybe let the adults do this part, as super-glued or glue-burnt fingers is no fun!




Now to attach the segments: I used a screwdriver to push small holes in the bottom of each segment, and in corresponding places in the circle base.  Using the cable ties, secure the segments to the base.  Don’t pull them too tight – they need to be able to move freely outwards as the ‘sun opens up’.  Tape the cable ends underneath the base.




I then mounted the whole thing (using superglue) on yet another thick cardboard circle, a little bigger though, and I spread PVA glue around the rim and sprinkled with gold and red glitter.  I also glued snowflake stickers on the purple side of the segments, as this is the ‘winter sky’.  I had intended the segments to rest straight up against the candle, but they naturally fell to one side, giving a lovely spiral effect.  It looks way better like this!

Now it’s ready to use as a calendar!








If you enjoyed this post, please follow me for more seasonal crafts and healthy recipes throughout December!


Many thanks.


All ideas and photos in this post are my own original.


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You can also follow me as Natural Health Mama at

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