With Mother's Day fast approaching I wanted to take a moment to praise all the Mums out there. Yes, it is one of the hardest, sometimes thankless (yet always rewarding) jobs out there, but we Mums love our children unconditionally and always aim to do right by them even though a lot of the time we feel like we are not doing enough because, well, it never feels like enough when our kids are involved, right? But something I have learned along my 4-year rollercoaster ride of a journey is that just being present, attentive, and committed in their world is often enough (well apart from things like, you know, food!) and that is what forms the bond that will stand the test of time (also know as the teenaged years)!
My own Mum is very special to me.
This woman has always been there for me, even when I may not have deserved it. Or thought I didn't deserve it. She was there during the angry teen years, through the heartbreaks and pain of 'first loves' and periods when my close friends (Frenemies really) had all turned on me because they didn't like whom I was dating at the time (as teens we are so dramatic) and I became so stressed and anxious that I ended up with (and still struggle with to this day) IBS. Through all this and more, she was there for me.
I remember as a child, the complete and utter comfort I got whenever she was with me. She was (and often still is, at least in part) my safe space.
To be quite honest, my father wasn't the best. He would be away for months at a time as he would travel to Egypt regularly leaving my Mum to raise 5 children (all girls) by herself (it is only now that I am writing this all down that I realise how hard it must have been for her to have to manage a house with 5 children and very little money). But she never seem to complain and just got on with it. I am so thankful for all she has done for me and my sisters which for the most part she did alone.
I can also imagine that sometimes when my father was around it was more like having 6 kids! He wasn't very good at looking after himself leaving Mum to take care of all of us. You see, my dad grew up in a small village in Egypt. The eldest son of a family with 4 sisters and a brother, he was treated like a King by them, never having to lift a domestic finger. He carried the expectation of this privilege into married life, leaving my Mum to pick up where his family left off.
That being said when forced to do things alone he wasn't bad at it at all. I remember a time when I was 14 he and I went to Egypt for a Father-Daughter holiday. One morning I awoke having started my period AND I had a bad case of food poisoning (fun times, eh?). He took care of me and even went to the store to get my sanitary towels. That was definitely a Super-Dad moment, and despite the discomfort at the time, one of my fondest memories of him.
When he was present in our lives, (and not in his home country) my father was quite strict (OK, VERY strict!) but my Mum was a lot less controlling and relaxed. She would let me go to sleepovers (and as I got older, to parties) as long as she knew where I was and that I was safe. She gave me the freedom to find myself and become independent.
When I was 19 my father passed away suddenly. A few months later we lost our childhood home. My mum managed to keep a roof over our heads and keep us together in any way she could. She found a hostel for us to stay in and even though we were all crammed into the same room at least we were still together (my youngest sister was only 5 at the time it was so very important for my Mum to try to maintain a semblance of stability).
Times were hard but we got through it thanks to her resilience, resourcefulness, and determination. She never stopped fighting for us (and I know never will). But I had to grow up pretty quickly as I was the second oldest of my sisters and my older sister had already started her own family.
I always tried to help as much as I could and Mum would always make time for me and we would go for walks and chats together whenever we could. She taught me how to knit and crochet and always fueled my creativity. Whenever she could get me a gift, such as birthdays or Christmas, she would stay clear of the classic "girl toys" and opted for art sets and craft packs as I showed more of an interest for these things. To be honest, I don't think she ever got any of us 'girly' toys unless we specifically asked.
Even with having little money and less space, our home would often become a haven to various strays, both animal and human! Several cats and a whole string of my sister's wayward friends would end up staying at ours, often for months at a time! My Mum never thought twice about welcoming anyone that needed a place to stay and would provide for them whatever she could. She would never ask anything in return or even expect money from them, despite feeding them; to her, they were people in need that she could help. And that is my Mum, such a kind, caring, and patient woman.
And after my daughter was born she didn't think twice about helping me whenever she could; she allowed me to nap when Mia after a rough night or when Mia refused to sleep in the day, cooked for me, cleaned for me, made the endless batches of formula, and even took an entire 'night-shift', allowing me and my partner a full(ish) nights sleep!!! My Mum and my youngest sister help me whenever and however they can, and have been (and continue to be) such a wonderful presence in my daughter's life that I am so grateful for them and feel genuinely blessed.
So this year I wanted to make something really special for my Mum (not that anything can express how grateful I am to have her in my life but I feel gestures are important) however she is very hard to make for!
Simply put, anything I can make, she can make better. She is a genius at anything needlework related so I had to find something else to make. Time to get super creative!
I decided, after MUCH thought, on 2 gifts, and as usual, I aimed to use the materials I already had at my disposal.
Gift number 1: A night cream
Gift number 2: A picture frame with a picture of her and my daughter (My Mum doesn't often pose for photos so this one is really nice and really rare!)
The Night Cream
For this, I made two pots (ahem, yes, one was for me! Hey! I'm a Mum too!). Both my Mum and I have sleep apnea and treating this sometimes involves wearing a mask while you sleep that is attached to a machine that forces air into your lungs if you stop breathing during sleep (it sounds way scarier than it actually is). But it can be like having a strong wind blowing on your face all night, so it can dry out the skin pretty badly, so to help protect from the elements I added beeswax to provide a barrier. This however is completely optional.
Also, a thing to keep in mind is that anything with water as an ingredient does go moldy over time so I have added a preservative to slow this down.
And while most people use a thermometer throughout the cooking process I don't and all was fine. (I try to make things as simple as possible for myself).
So here goes... Ingredients- full disclosure, there are some affiliated links but these are products I have used Camomile tea bags 2 tbsp Shea butter- https://amzn.to/3LkBlRQ 2 tbsp Cocoa butter - https://amzn.to/3upUJG3 3 tbsp Coconut oil - https://amzn.to/3Iui1j7 1 tbsp Beeswax (optional) - https://amzn.to/3wusHvZ 1 tbsp Emulsion wax - (sadly the one I used is no longer available) 20 drops Sweet orange essential oil (or preferred scent) - https://amzn.to/3JAMBJv 5 drops Preservative - https://amzn.to/3D5Ez8Q 1 Glass Jar (I used a pickling jar as it was quite nice looking) - https://amzn.to/3LaMmoU Acrylic paint pens (optional)- https://amzn.to/3ujTrg4
Diamond glaze (optional) - https://amzn.to/3wAQ1Ii A wooden spoon
A chopstick A double boiler (if you do not have one you can make your own by using 2 saucepans as long as one is smaller than the other. The smaller one sits inside the larger one which is filled with water. The ingredients are then placed in the smaller saucepan.) 1. Set up the homemade double boiler as stated above. (unless you have one)
2. Add cocoa butter, shea butter, and beeswax to the smaller saucepan and put on medium heat. 3. While waiting for the ingredients to melt make a cup of camomile tea and leave the teabag to brew for about 10 min. 4. Once the butter and beeswax have melted add the coconut oil and emulsifying wax to the pan until they have also melted. stirring everything together. 5. Remove from heat. 6. Add the essential oils and preservative and stir again. 7. Remove the camomile tea bag from the cup and stir the liquid into the melted oils. 8. Keep stirring until fully combined. 9. Pour into the jars and allow them to cool fully. * The mixture may seem thin but will thicken as it cools * The mixture may also separate while cooling, if this happens just give it a stir with a chopstick or something of a similar size. 10. Lastly, use acrylic paint pens to decorate the jar.
The Picture Frame
For this, I got my daughter involved.
When I told her what I wanted to do at first she said (with an eye roll) "another picture frame?" (Spoiler Alert for another craft project coming soon!) quickly followed up by "can we make a car instead?" (that girl loves her cars!).
So we compromised.
This also proved to be a great learning exercise as lately we have been trying to teach Mia about compromise as she kept saying "let's compromise" which she actually thought meant "let's do what I want to do"!
So our compromise was to make is to make a picture frame shaped like a car.
Full disclosure, I basically made the picture frame by myself as she lost interest some 3 minutes in and spent her craft time making this lovely picture for her Daddy as a surprise gift for when he got home (which he loved!).
Keep in mind this is a very free-flowing craft project and can be made any way you wish. I will note which parts of the instructions are versatile and which are necessary.
For the frame...
Cardboard (cut from an Amazon box).
Corrugated plastic board (I had A3 size but it was no longer available) https://amzn.to/358WwH0
Craft knife https://amzn.to/3iAE9OA
Cutting board https://amzn.to/3JS8DY0
Clear liquid glue
Rubbing alcohol https://amzn.to/3iCqpTq
Diamond glaze https://amzn.to/3wAQ1Ii
An old but clean makeup brush you don't mind getting ruined (or repurposing for art projects only)
A variety of small buttons and beads ( these can be obtained at any haberdashery but I find the best ones are in a market, pound shops, or The Works)
3D Puff-Paint; ideally one with a small spout opening (bought from The Works)
If you need to draw circles on your frame, a Compass, or a simple cup, bowl, or jar lid (we used an espresso cup to draw the wheels of our car).
Something to use as a Picture Cord to mount the frame onto the wall (We used a chain coat-loop but even basic twine or thick wool can be used).
In the centre of the cardboard, draw around your photo/photos (Since we were making a car frame, we made the photos the windows).
Draw around your cup where the wheels would go.
Draw a car shape around this (it doesn't need to be perfect but if you are unsure it helps to use a picture of a car to trace).
Once you have your desired shape place it atop the cutting mat and use a craft knife to carefully cut it out including photo windows.
Stencil this frame onto the corrugated plastic and cut it out of the plastic in the same way above, however, this time do not cut out the photo windows.
Next, we glue on the buttons and beads!
This part is completely versatile and completely up to your own artistic vision! The buttons can be uniform or haphazard, the same colour or random! Using your Clear Liquid Glue, grab your buttons and beads and go wild gluing them to the cardboard frame cut out! And please feel free to take inspiration from our frame in the pictures below. We used a uniform pattern of buttons and used our smaller beads to fill in any gaps. Just make sure to glue onto the side of the cardboard that will be facing up from its plastic counterpart!
Putting it all together!
Leave to dry fully.
Once dry use your 3D Paint to cover any gaps between the buttons and beads.
Again leave to dry.
In the meantime take the plastic frame and glue your photos in place with a very thin layer of liquid glue.
Leave to dry.
While this is drying, you can glue your chosen picture cord in place on the other side of the plastic frame with your strong glue.
More drying (you can see now while us crafty folk are such big tea drinkers!!)
Take the cotton bud and dip it into the rubbing alcohol and carefully clean any paint or glue that may have gotten on the buttons or beads.
Using the glaze and make-up brush paint a coat of glaze on everything and, you guessed it, leave to dry!
Once dry, use the strong glue to stick the 2 parts (cardboard and plastic) of the frame together, making sure the photos are showing through the photo windows. And leave to dry.
So there you have it, I hope you all have a great Mothers Day and treat your hard-working amazing Mothers like queens (and if you are also a Mum, are treated like royalty yourself!).
And please, if you make this project please send me some pictures as I would love to hear from you all and see what you made!
Please like, share, and stay safe out there.
I mention The Works a lot.
It is one of my favorite shops, but I am aware that it is a UK-based chain, and friends from across the globe may not know what I mean or have access to one. It is a Hobbycraft type of shop selling artist supplies, books, and a range of odd little knickknacks. I include a link to their website below but most art supply shops would have most of the items mentioned.