- A tree jewelry stand. I got mine from Urban Outfitters
- Sculpey Clay, which you can find at any hobby or art store, or by clicking here
- Simple wire to create the hangers
- Letter stamps and permanent ink from a craft or stamp supply store
- Oven for baking the clay
Combine the following in a saucepan:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter (must be actual butter)
1 cup agave nectar
1 cup heavy cream (plus 1 more cup of cream to be added once it is boiling)
Cook together until it boils. Once it boils, slowly add 1 additional cup of cream. Turn heat down so that it boils gently, stirring every three minutes until it is a caramel-y color, about 30 minutes. If you stir it constantly or cook it for too long, the caramels will be too hard.
After 30 minutes at a rolling boil, remove from heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla. Pour in a buttered loaf pan. Let set and cut into squares. I have had to make these several time to get them to be just the right texture. Experiment a bit before you plan to give them as a gift.
The type of stove you have will effect the cooking time of the caramels. I have a gas stove and it takes 30 minutes. Try cooking them for 30 minutes the first time and you will know whether that is too much or not enough. If it is too much the caramels will be too hard (like lozenges) and if it is not enough they will not set up enough to cut and serve (except in a spoon). You can reheat those that are too soft and cook them a bit longer in an effort to reach the proper caramel consistency. These are not the easiest things to get right but once you do, they are the BEST!
Washing cashmere: Even though the care label reads "dry clean only," it is best to hand wash cashmere. In fact, it will actually make it softer over time. Use a mild detergent like Woolite or baby shampoo. Press out the excess water, but do not wring the sweater. Instead, lay it flat on a towel and reshape it as it dries. It takes days to dry. To lessen the time, you can spin off excess water by putting the sweater or scarf into a large salad spinner.
Storing cashmere: Never hang a sweater (of any kind) on a hanger. This creates shoulder dimples and distorts the overall shape of the sweater due to gravity. Instead, fold it nicely in a drawer. Because moths love to eat cashmere, like they do wool, throw a cedar disk into the drawer. You can purchase cedar disks at Bed, Bath and Beyond or Target.
Wearing cashmere: There is nothing quite like cashmere. Unlike wool, it does not itch or irritate the skin. Instead, it is very soft and luxurious. You can wear cashmere casually with jeans or to an elegant event with a velvet long skirt.
Enjoy a touch of cashmere today and purchase a striped one-of-a-kind, made-to-order recycled cashmere scarf or Beaute Neck Cashmere Sweater from Beckons.
Do the holidays stress you out because you are trying to get the perfect gift for everyone on your list?
A short time ago, I stepped away from the madness of standard gift giving. I made a commitment to give only consumable gifts and then, chose to do my best to make them. At present, my cousin (front row on the left) and I (one in sunglasses with crazy hair, blowing in the wind) create our Christmas gifts together. We assemble gift bags of our favorite things for our favorite people; personalized just enough to make it extra special. This year the bags will include:
Homemade tomato soup which we canned when tomatoes were in season
Blackberry jam that we harvested from our backyard bramble
Spiced and roasted almonds
English toffee and buttery caramels from Grandma Leila's famous recipe
and our best gift yet: a one-of-a-kind recycled Comfort & Joy cashmere scarf.
The crazy photo above was taken last weekend at our family's craft retreat in Wyoming. This year, Cousin Kris and I set out to make cashmere scarves for everyone. We raided all the Goodwills and ARCs in Denver for cashmere sweaters, cut out all the 10" stripes we could and created piles of colors. We let everyone choose 12 stripes (with design assistance) and then, sewed them together. All the women above are pictured wearing the scarf they designed and we made. It was the funnest Christmas gift creation we have ever done. Below is a photo of the stripes in piles ready to be put together.
DIY or click here to BUY
Want to make your own? Here's how:
What you need:
6-8 cashmere sweaters
rotary cutter, ruler and cutting pad (from a hobby or sewing store)
or sharp scissors and 10" wide cardboard rectangular patterns (templates) of various lengths
1. Go to the local Goodwill or ARC and buy bright cashmere sweaters in the colors you want for your scarf(s). I recommend 7-8 different colors per scarf though you will want 12-14 stripes of color in each scarf (there should be some repetition). If there are holes in the cashmere, just cut around them. Usually, the store will give you a good discount if you find holes in the sweaters, so it is not a bad thing.
2. Wash the sweaters in warm water and dry them in the dryer. You DO want them to shrink (or felt) a bit. This makes them super soft and cozy and removes stains and dirt. NOTE: cashmere does not shrink as much as wool.
3. First, cut off the ribbing at the bottom so that the sweater lays flat.
4. Then, cut 10" wide stripes out of the body of the sweater as long as you like or can get. As you can see from the above photo, I am cutting two stripes at a time 5" long toward the bottom and two more 7" stripes above that. You can open up the sleeves and usually get at least one 10" wide stripe out of each sleeve. You will want to cut stripes wherever you can find a 10" wide piece of cashmere to cut, hopefully without holes. You want the length of the stripes to vary so that you have variety in the scarf. There are quite a bit of scraps with this project, which you can use for future projects or to patch holes you did not see until the scarf was done.
5. Arrange the stripes in the order you want them to appear in the scarf and pin the stripes together, making sure that the right sides of the cashmere are pinned together.
6. Using a regular straight stitch on your sewing machine, stitch the pieces together, making sure to backstitch for 1" on each end because you will have to trim off some of the edge. Because the stripes are all different colors, we picked one thread color to use throughout the entire scarf. The contrasting thread is fun.
7. Once all the pieces are stitched together, lay the scarf out and find your narrowest piece. Trim the edges of the other strips to match the narrowest piece. We have had to cut off up to 1" before, so do not worry.
Because cashmere does not typically unravel, you do not have to finish the edges and your scarf is complete.
If this sounds like too much work, we can make it for you. Click the above "CLICK HERE TO BUY" button and we will make your one-of-a-kind Comfort & Joy cashmere scarf. In the "comments" section of the check out page, give us three to five colors you would like to see in the scarf and perhaps colors to avoid, and we will make one up in plenty of time for Christmas. We are low on greens and will do our best to follow your color choice. These scarves are supremely soft and beautiful, versatile and warm. Price: $63.00.
By Becky Prater (Adapted by Peyton Prater to use a whole regular size can of pumpkin, which is 1.75 cups)
Cream together well:
7/8 cup of butter
1 ¾ cup of sugar
Add to the above and mix well:
1 can of pumpkin (1.75 cups)
Then, add the following:
3 1/2 cups of white flour
1 ¾ tsp baking powder
1 ¾ tsp baking soda
1 ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp of salt
Heat oven to 375. Drop spoonfuls onto an un-greased baking sheet. Bake until lightly brown about 10 minutes.
When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting:
In a food processor, combine until smooth:
8 oz. of softened cream cheese
¾ stick of butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups of powdered sugar
When I was in high school, I met a great man named Dr. Earl Reum. Dr. Reum gave inspirational speeches at schools and leadership events, impacting people at this critical juncture in their lives. I was intrigued by what he said and diligently went through the workbook he handed out, filled with self-discovery questions. The things he said perfectly matched what I knew to be true and the process of writing, based on the self-discovery prompts he provided, changed my life. I now realize that I can trace my confidence and path in life, back to the personal writing work he inspired and nuggets of advice he shared, including the following:
“Wishing will not bring success, but planning, persistence and burning desire will accomplish anything.” —SUCCESS by Barbara Smallwood & Steve Kilborn, 1981.
Through his self-discovery writing prompts, I defined my self. I developed a great appreciation for who I was and clarified what I wanted to do with my life. Not that my life has been constantly glorious since, but that process sure helped. People can do this at any stage of life and revisit the self-discovery process many times through out life. We are constantly changing and getting better so how a person answered these questions at 17 is very different from how one would at 47.
Now, it is time for you to begin writing. Write about yourself. It is you who identifies who you are and where you want to go with your life. No matter where you have been, who you grew up with, what your circumstances are or were, it is YOU who can stand strong and move forward any way you choose. Identify your dream or perfect life; write it down and define it physically, and then spread the word about your new self and intention. Really own it. Define. Refine. Move. Announce. Continue reading
When I was in 6th grade, my "boyfriend," Bob, gave me a diary with a key and birds on it. Adorable! I loved it and promptly began writing about all my troubles. Imagine what they must have been back then. Here is my first entry:
"January 1, 1979. Today was a pretty bad day. My grandparents had to leave and my dad has been yelling at me all day. I can't wait until Monday 'cause school starts again."
Forty-six journals later, I am still writing. Just so you know, my dad is fantastic, and some years I went through more than one journal. Writing has been my method of working through ideas, problems, decisions, and challenges throughout my life. There are many ways to work through life's challenges and decisions but this is a no-cost method that tends to not offend anyone, provided no one else reads it (remember Bridget Jones and Mr. Darcy?) Below is a short list of reason to write.
Twelve reasons to journal:
By Becky Prater
He writes, "It is possible for me, and not unreasonable, to love everyone with equal intensity and still have all the love energy I have ever had. There are a lot of miracles to being a human being, but this is one of the greatest miracles." (Love, 1972). Meaning, you can love all people and never run out of love or the capacity to love.
February is the month to show people that you appreciate them and that they are special in some way. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that without spending much money: Beckon Yoga Clothing Hearts of Wool
1. Make 3-D hearts out of old clothing. My super talented intern, Maggie Aldworth, created these hearts from old clothes headed for the Goodwill, which she plans to give to each of her friends at school. You can fill them with lavender to be used as a sachet. These will help their high school backpacks smell great.
2. Write a note to someone special that is about the love of or importance of their friendship or support. Remind them how wonderful they are and thank them for their positive, supportive attitude. People do not send cards or letters in the mail much these days. Sending a note via snail mail will have a significant impact.
3. As in the first photo, find a rock (it does not have to be in the shape of a heart) and on it write "you rock," using a Sharpie. Place the rock somewhere your loved one will find it on Valentine's Day morning. If you are going to mail it, just use a flat rock. Who wouldn't love to get that in the mail?
4. Celebrate by putting a chocolate heart (a wee bit materialistic) on your child's pillow so that they find it when they go to bed that night or in the mailboxes or on desks at work. Teachers do this stuff all the time. I can assure you there is not a place of business where people wouldn't be thrilled to receive the tiniest reminder that they are special.
5. On a piece of notebook paper, hand write:
You are special because . . . (fill in this blank).
That's it. You do not even need to include your name. Just make someone's day by acknowledging them in this small, personal, thoughtful way. Even those people who might not be your favorite in the workplace have some redeeming quality you can celebrate on this special day.
"I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy," states Buscaglia (Love, 1972.) It seems like we are apathetic about others because we are so busy all the time. A simple act of kindness will remind people that we are grateful they are in our lives.
"What good is love that is not freely given? Love is always an active sharing. If one has love to give, he may impart it to all in the world and he will still have the same love he started with. We never lose anything by sharing it, for nothing is ever solely ours to start with. In fact, love acquires meaning only if it is shared." (Love, 1972)
Does this seem impossible to you or very unlikely that you will reach out to people in this way? When times are tough and we get frustrated with our lives, this may be the last thing we want to do. However, by sharing love with others we tend to feel much better ourselves. Just do this for one person in your life and see what happens.
This is an old family favorite from the kitchen of Leila Boddicker. I believe the original recipe probably came straight from Hershey. Nothing says, "Happy Holidays," quite like a warm cookie with milk.
- ½ cup butter (no substitutions)
- ¾ cup all-natural peanut butter
Add to the above:
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbs. milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Add dry ingredients to the above mixture:
- 1 ½ cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
The mixture should stick together pretty well and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, add a touch more flour so that you can easily work with the dough.
Roll the dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 365 degrees for 10 minutes or until cracks form on the top of the cookies.
Immediately place one Hershey’s Chocolate Kiss in the center of each cookie while they are still warm.
Share with others.
Children receive an unprecedented amount of gifts for Christmas these days. Why would a non-materialistic mom want to add 24 extra gifts to the madness with a treasure-filled advent calendar? The initial calendar was given to me by my Grandma Boddicker and Aunt Beth. It was filled with small toys and candy. The kids loved it so much that we could not stop the tradition once it began. So we had to make it serve a greater purpose. We have since given these treasured calendars to all of our family and friends with children so that they can enjoy the tradition.
During the holidays kids need several things like a new outfit and shoes for the school program or to wear to church on Christmas Day. We would simply place a note in the box that read, "Today we shop for a new Christmas outfit." There is always a great holiday movie that comes out that you will be taking your kids to anyway. "Going to the movies," would be in one box. We always provide one awesome Christmas-themed video and a book among the 24 days. Lastly, on Christmas Eve the note sent them on a scavenger hunt to find their new pajamas to wear on this special night. Basically, the treasures in the box are things you would do or purchase with or without an advent calendar.
To make it extra special, we included activities like "Today, let's bake cookies." or "Let's do something special for Dad today."
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