by Cindy Pantea
The Keep Akron Beautiful – KAB staff had a lovely holiday lunch party. For Paula, Elaine, Jacqui, Bill, Tim and me, it was great to see Polly and William, Chuck, and Tim from our seasonal staff, our Educational Specialist, Pam, and Pat, our retired Administrative Assistant. It was fun to share a lunch and talk about our holiday traditions…and then…PRESENTS.
While some of us handed out the made-with-love cookies and candies and other crafty, practical gifts like a homemade microwave baked potato bag, others gave beautifully scented talcs and candles and still others gave delightful keepsake ornaments. However, we could not stop talking about the great gift ideas that were natural and/or eco-friendly – calendula salve, homemade vanilla, and Skoy cloths.
Polly Kaczmarek, Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscape Director, gave homemade calendula salve, which is wonderful on minor scrapes, dry skin, diaper rash and more. After researching online, I found that there are several recipes that are all similar, and it is fun to make as a family. Below are a couple of sites that have nice instructions to follow. Notice that they add lavendar essential oils – I also found that you can substitute rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and other essential oils, too:
Jacqui, Keep Akron Beautiful Program Director, made homemade vanilla, which is 5 whole split vanilla beans soaked in 8 oz. of 35%+ alcohol for 8 weeks. Vodka, is most commonly use, but rum, brandy or bourbon can be substituted. Unlike store bought vanilla extract, there are no imitation flavors or chemicals, and, as Jacqui put it, it is the gift that keeps on giving, because you can keep replacing with more alcohol as you use the vanilla. Here is a good site to keep for your homemade gift giving file: http://www.beanilla.com/blog/homemade-vanilla-extract.
We all had to rave about Elaine, Keep Akron Beautiful CFO, though, who gave this practical and eco-friendly present as part of her gift. She gave the 100% biodegradable and natural Skoy cloths. One of these cloths saves 15 rolls of paper towels, they are reusable and machine washable and each can absorb 15 times its own weight.
I don’t know about you, but I am stealing some of these ideas for gifts throughout the year. Meanwhile, I still may have a couple days to find some Skoy cloths for an added Christmas present and/or for stocking stuffers.
Have a joyous holiday from the KAB staff.