On our homestead, Valentine’s Day is a family affair full of special traditions, healthy treats and fun crafts like homemade Valentine’s Day cards and this homemade natural moon sand. This recipe has no flour, no powdered drink mix dye and no yucky ingredients.
A Family Valentine’s Day
The history of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to ancient Rome and the festival of Lupercalia which was altered to fit the holy days of the emerging Christianity. St. Valentine became known as the “friend of lovers” as he defied Roman Emperor Claudius II’s edict forbidding marriage for his soldiers. Valentine believed so firmly in the holiness of matrimony and stood for families everywhere as he secretly married young couples, which eventually lead to his martyrdom at the hands of Rome. The truths and details of this ancient story have become lost to the centuries but I love the Catholic (and Protestant) tradition of the celebration of St. Valentine. I’ve come to think of this day as a celebration of family!
Modern marketing has taken this holiday to new and unnecessary heights, in my opinion. Instead of the grandiose gifts and couples activities, I like to make this a family celebration for all of us in the true spirit of St. Valentine. The following are some of the ways we celebrate this family holiday.
Family Valentine’s Day Activities:
- Set the table with a red tablecloth, special dishes and some homemade place cards. We usually either have a fancy breakfast or a fancy dinner together.
- Perform a simple service project for a neighbor or friends. This can be as simple as inviting over your girlfriends who might be feeling lonely this holiday to do these Chocolate Covered Strawberry Face Masks from Pistachio Project and watching Jane Austen movies. Find someone who’s feeling alone and make them not alone. Amen.
- If we have some extra time, we will host a Doll’s Tea Party, ala Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions – this is one of my favorite books on family holidays!! We have family friends who hold a Doll’s Faire every year, ala Tasha Tudor, and it’s such a lovely event with homemade doll concessions and carnival rides.
- Our family likes making our own Valentine’s Day cards, especially for each other. We have a small wooden mailbox that we put out on our holiday table once February starts. We slip homemade cards and notes in when no one is looking up until our Valentine’s Day family meal. At the table, we open the box and distribute the notes. I always double check to make sure no child has been left out, especially as my kids get older. Sometimes busy teenagers need reminders about younger siblings whose eyes might fill with very real tears if there’s no special Valentine’s note addressed to them from Big Sister or Brother. Every now and then we run out of our Valentine’s Day scrap paper stash and have to make more.
Family Valentine’s Day Crafts:
- For a tutorial on how to make a Feed Sack Valentine’s Day Garland, as well as Borax Valentine’s Day ornaments, please visit our guest post over at Hobby Farms.com – click here.
- I love these Waldorf-inspired Valentine’s Fairies from Magic Onions. I can’t help myself when it comes to felt!
- As an official herb girl, I love these Dried Herbal Valentine Projects from Timber Creek Farm. These would be lovely for neighbors, I think. She’s got printables and wooden template suggestions and burlap bunting ideas, too.
- My children are home-educated so we don’t always need 50 valentines for school friends and teachers. However, sometimes parties are attended and we have to come up with small, non-food gifts in bulk. These seed packet Valentines from Arts and Crackers are right up my alley. You could also make these Seed Bomb Clay Medallions from us here at Homestead Lady, or these Seed Paper Hearts from JaMonkey.
- For a few more natural, homey craft ideas you can visit Rooted Childhood below. Her monthly subscription always includes scads of stories, poems, crafts and even recipes. For February, she has candle making and a felt garland and even quilling, among a bunch of other crafts. We get her packets every month and love them – we even use them for school!
Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats:
When I say we eat a “fancy” meal together, I don’t mean that I spend a lot of time on meal preparation. No one gets the day off work for Valentine’s Day so we’re just as busy as we normally are. Dinner is usually a baked chicken and some winter veggie like squash or early asparagus. The treats I spend a little more time on. See below for a few healthy recipe ideas for this special day.
- These Cacao and Damiana Rose Chocolate Hearts from Nitty Gritty Mama are tasty to eat while being good for your heart – click here.
- Try Stuffed Cheesecake Strawberries with Chocolate from Savoring Today – a little extra work but, wowzers!
- For a special breakfast, try the Heart-Healthy Cranberry Pancakes plus so many other cranberry recipes – click here.
- And, of course, there’s the classic Chocolate Covered Strawberry (although this one from Simply So Healthy is low-carb approved).
For more homestead family inspired holiday ideas be sure to sign up to be among the first to learn about the release of our newest book, Homestead Holidays. Full of information, history, crafts, recipes, DIYs and tutorials this book is designed to strengthen family ties on the homestead through fun and frolic. When you sign up you’ll also be privileged to recipe special discounts, coupons and freebies.
Homemade Natural Moon Sand Recipe
Moon sand, or sensory table sand, is a manipulative akin to play dough, but made from sand. When you pick it up and squish it, moon sand keeps its shape. You can build and squish and build and squish and generally make a delightful mess with it. My little one was asking for some but the craft store is an hour away and I couldn’t justify the expense. So, we figured out how to make our own.
Ingredients for Natural Moon Sand
- 1/4 C Tbsp Water
- 8 Tbsp Corn Starch
- 1 1/4 C Sand*
- 1 tsp oxide powder for color, optional
- 1 Tbsp light oil like avocado for “dispersed teaspoon” of color, optional
Directions for Mixing Natural Moon Sand
- Put the water and the corn starch into a medium sized bowl and mix thoroughly. Let sit.
- If you’re using a natural pigment like oxide, place oil into a ramekin and add the oxide powder. Mix well. In DIY cosmetic and soap recipes, this is called a “dispersed teaspoon”. In these photos, I’ve used iron oxide powder (red) and chromium oxide (green). See notes below for information on staining and washing up.
- Add the pigment to the corn starch mixture.
- Add the sand. Mix well until completely blended.
- If the mixture is too wet, continue to add corn starch by tablespoons until dry enough to stick together when squeezed in your hand. If the mixture is too dry, add a teaspoon of water until the moon sand is wet enough to hold together.
- Store in the refrigerator for longer life. If you’ve used commercial play sand, this should keep pretty much indefinitely. If you’ve used naturally harvested sand, you might notice some mold or off smell after some time. This comes from the microscopic amounts of organic material still left in the sand after washing it. The heat from the oven should help kill that off, but you never know.
*What Kind of Sand Do I Need for Natural Moon Sand?
If you’d like to purchase sand for this moon sand, simply look for “play sand” at your home and garden center. It will be very light and very fine grit. Again, my closes Home Depot is an hour away, so that wasn’t happening. I do have a creek across the road, though. If you have access to fine natural sand, here’s how you process it for Natural Moon Sand.
How to Process Natural Sand
- With a small shovel, clear away the larger grit from the creek bed or sand bar to find the under sand, which is much finer. Shovel a bunch into a bucket.
- Return home and cover the sand in water. Allow to soak over night if the sand had previously been dry (as on a sand bar).
- Using a nut milk bag or a large piece of muslin pour the sand into the cloth and allow the water to drain away.
- Secure the sand inside the bag or cloth and run water over it until the water runs clear. This takes a bit of time and some manipulation of the sand inside the bag. Massage the bag of sand as you move it under the water. You can do this in the tub or out by the hose in the garden. Harvest the run off water for the garden, if you don’t want to waste it.
- Once the sand is clean, spread it evenly on a jelly roll pan (or any large pan with sides) and put it in an oven on its lowest temperature setting.
- Periodically rough up the sand on the tray to expose more wet areas.
- Once the sand is dry, allow it to cool before you use it in this moon sand recipe.
Notes on Homemade Natural Moon Sand
You DO NOT need to color your sand with anything, if you’d prefer to keep it natural. Using something like a dyed, powdered drink mix will add color which may or may not stain skin and surfaces. Using powdered tempera paint will have a similar effect.
The oxide pigments are typically used in cosmetics and have the same colorfastness you might expect from something like lipstick. That is to say that the moon sand dyed with these pigments cleans up easily with soap and water, including off of skin. Depending on the color, the oxide pigments may leave some color behind until a second wash, similar to heavy lipstick. Your kids will make a huge mess of their hands and work area while they’re elbow deep in natural moon sand, but it will all wash off.
I recommend putting down newspaper or cardboard on your work surface before you begin playing with the natural moon sand. Have everyone wear an apron. Do not use the red especially on a white, porous surface like chipped ceramic as it may leave behind some color. It’s usually the red I have these issues with, FYI. If you run into a problem, try rubbing some of the oil into the surface to remove the pigment.
I love mess and fun and don’t worry too much about it all. If you’re different from me, take extra measures to keep things tidy. You know what drives you crazy.
Garland photo gratefully attributed to Olivia Mckay Photography.