BEAUTY WEEK: Homemade Bath Bombs

One of my absolute favorite things to do is relax for the evening in a nice, hot bath with a therapeutic and yummy-smelling bath bomb! If you’ve never experienced these glorious creations, do yourself a favor and make them, and see for yourself. These guys fizz in your tub and release yummy smells, oils, butters, skin softeners, and sometimes even colors that make any ordinary bath tub turn into a luxury spa. I used to sell them for $7 a pop, but now I can tell you that you can make your own, and it is so worth it!

You’ll need:

Baking Soda

Citric Acid

Witch Hazel, in a spray bottle

Essential Oil (or Fragrance Oil)

I used my KitchenAid stand mixer for these and it worked beautifully. Once you mix the baking soda and citric acid together, be very careful not to get the mixture wet! It will start fizzing and we really want that to wait for the tub! Gently stir in the essential or fragrance oils- it shouldn’t be enough moisture to cause a reaction.

Once the oils are dispersed comes the hard part! With your witch hazel in your spray bottle, spray the mixture TWICE, and mix with your hands. Repeat this until the mixture starts to clump together in your hands when you squeeze it. Overspraying will cause fizzing, so be very thorough!

When you’ve got your mixture to the clumping phase, mold into any shape you like. I like to pack into cookie cutters, or try to roll them into balls. You could also use soap molds, plastic easter eggs, or even Christmas ornaments that come in half! This is your chance to be creative.

Now, let stand on your counter overnight to dry! Only remove from molds when you are sure that they are hard throughout. If you remove to early, though, you can still throw it in the tub!

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my last batch- vanilla with honey granules mixed in!

Once you go through the original recipe process once and are comfortable with it, you can start to experiment with mix-ins. the key is to add as many therapeutic ingredients as possible (like salts) while still holding the bomb together! It takes practice, but the results are beautiful. See what you can come up with!

OPTIONAL MIX INS:

Food coloring

Sea salt or Epsom salt

Honey granules

Milk powder

Lavender buds or rose petals

…really, anything you want!

Well friends, I am taking next week off from blogging to celebrate Christmas with family and friends! We are spending the next few weeks in Florida with Matt’s family and visiting friends in South Florida- and recording our first official Five and Dime album! We are incredibly excited!

Have a blessed Christmas!

Karli

BEAUTY WEEK: The Full Facial Treatment

This is one of my absolute favorite ways to treat myself!  When I first started working for LUSH, I probably used a face mask every single day, and my skin loved me for it!  Well, I cant exactly afford that anymore, but I’ve learned how to get the same results at home, and ever kick it up a notch.  Give yourself 45 minutes tonight and indulge in this at-home mini facial!

 

PART ONE: DIY MICRODERMABRASION

This is as simple as getting out your box of baking soda.  Microdermabrasion is one of the most expensive (and, admittedly, effective) spa treatments out there.  It involves slowly exfoliating the skin with a diamond-tipped rotary device that sort of feels like sandpaper, but makes your skin glow afterwards for the low low price of $150+ per session (6 sessions usually recommended).  I had microderm three or four times when I worked for a spa, and it really is nice.  But baking soda is just as effected and a billion times cheaper.  See for yourself!

Take a tablespoon of baking soda and splash in just enough warm water to make into a paste.  Smooth it over your skin and gently exfoliate in circular motions, focusing in areas that are problematic, dry, or scarred.  Take your time, enjoy it!  Your skin will thank you.  Massage your face and rinse with warm water.  Admire.  You can stop here and apply a moisturizer and be done.  OR…

 

PART TWO: DIY HERBAL STEAM

This is the fun part because you get to just relax!  Boil some water, and while you’re waiting, fill the bottom of a glass bowl or a stopped sink with any of the following:

Lavender buds

Strips of basil

Rose petals

Chamomile buds

Rosemary needles

Green Tea

Any combination is fine, too!  Whatever you have on hand.  Pour in the boiled water (allow to slightly cool) and then add any of the following:

 Tea tree oil

Lavender oil

Eucalyptus oil

Chamomile oil

Again, whatever you have on hand!  Now, throw a towel over your head, drape it over the bowl or sink, and make yourself a little tent.  Seal the edges. Breath.  Enjoy that lovely herbal steam soaking into your pores!  Continue until your mixture ceases to steam.  Now, you can finish with a moisturizer and be done.  OR…

 

PART THREE: DIY FACE MASK

Here’s the really fun part.  What do you have in your kitchen?  Honey? Bananas? Yogurt? Avocado?  I’m sure you have something.  Finish with one of these on your face!

Banana (great for sensitive skin)

Oatmeal (raw oats mixed with some milk, gently heated)

Honey (mix with cinnamon and nutmeg for acne scarring!)

Yogurt (great for brightening skin)

Crushed aspirin and lemon (again, brightening, good for problem skin/swelling)

Avocado (moisturizing)

Slather on, relax for 20-30 minutes, and rinse with warm water.  NOW you can finish with a moisturizer or, like I do, a little bit of coconut oil!  Be sure to moisturize lightly around your eyes to prevent aging lines 🙂 Enjoy your fresh holiday face!

BEAUTY WEEK: Healing Scalp Treatment

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You guys, truth be told, I have had some serious scalp issues already this winter. I’m thankfully not someone who suffers regularly from dandruff, but from time to time my scalp will dry and get itchy, which results in me wearing my hair back for days. Anyone who has seen me recently probably hasn’t seen me without a topknot. Thank God it’s fashionable right now!

Usually I just tough it out until it gets better on its own, or begrudgingly use some terrible dandruff shampoo to clear it up. However, I started researching and I found out that these shampoos are full of nasty chemicals (of course) and that scalp treatments are a really easy and enjoyable way to treat acute cases of dry scalp at home!

Even if you don’t suffer from the dreaded flakes like I do sometimes, a scalp treatment feels great and boosts your hair growth and body. It’s just really fun.

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You’ll need:

A cheap toothbrush (you could use a used one but it skeeved me out)

Coconut oil

Rosemary oil

Tea tree oil

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Melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil until liquid, and mix in 4-5 drops each of tea tree and rosemary oil (these are soothing and cleansing oils that work to heal the scalp). Part hair, dip toothbrush in oil, and scrub the scalp with mixture. Repeat all over your head, exfoliating as much of the scalp as you can! Then, let the mixture sit on your scalp for 15-20 minutes. Yes, your hair will get oily, and will be full of skin flakes. Yes, it is kind of gross. It’s better than a constantly flaky scalp so deal with it for a few, nobody’s gonna see you!

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yes, your scalp may look like this. But it won’t soon!

When time is up, rinse and SHAMPOO OUT in the shower. Rinse well! Note: if you made the shampoo from yesterday’s post, this is not the time to use it. Way too much oil in your hair! I did that the first time by mistake and my hair was oily for four days. Use whatever other natural shampoo you have.

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much better!

Enjoy your flake-free head! Whenever problems start to creep up again, repeat as necessary. I actually scrub my scalp with just the toothbrush before every shower and it seems to keep the flakes at bay!

BEAUTY WEEK: DIY Shampoo!

Hello again, friends!  I am really enjoying this beauty week experiment- I really hope you are, too!  If you have any beauty product you’d like to see me try to DIY, let me know- I’d love to do a Beauty Week Pt. 2!

Today’s beauty item is a little more mainstream- I mean, not everyone is a scrub-a-holic like me and exfoliates in every shower, but pretty much any person reading this blog uses shampoo in some form.  For the past four or so years, I have refused to use anything but natural products on my hair- and I must say, my hair has never been better.  However, those products have come with a price tag- sometimes as much as $30 a bottle for shampoo.  I found myself thinking- if all this stuff is really natural, can’t I just make it myself with a little effort?

Now, I have done most of the popular shampoo experiments- no-poo (where you literally rinse your hair daily with water, and that’s it), baking soda only, apple cider vinegar.  No-poo was great after I shaved my head, but after a while I really noticed the grease, and I know that others could, too.  I’m not the type of person who religiously showers daily- maybe if I was, then no-poo would’ve worked.  But only using water on my hair every other day at best just didn’t look great on me.  Baking soda actually worked really well for a long time, but it was difficult to get out of my hair, which has a lot of texture, and only got worse as my hair grew longer.  Apple cider vinegar, using the raw kind that you really are supposed to use, was just too expensive for my budget- though I do know people who use regular ACV from the store and enjoy the effects.  All this to say, I tried all these things, and they weren’t for me.

I have previously extolled the virtues of the LUSH Shampoo Bar ($10 for about 4 months of use) but even they have drawbacks.  Really, I’m just a curious person.  I wanted to see if I could make my own shampoo.  I scoured my natural health and beauty books, various magazines, and Pinterest pages, and this is the simplest, easiest recipe I’ve found:

You’ll need:

1/4 cup Coconut Milk

1/3 cup Castile Soap (we use Dr. Bronner’s in peppermint)

10-20 drops Essential Oil

Other Oils (optional- start at just 1 teaspoon)

Simply mix together and use!  Make sure you shake before each use, too, as sometimes the coconut milk will separate.

Just the basic ingredients of Coconut Milk and Castile Soap are really what forms your shampoo.  My husband actually uses castile soap exclusively on his hair, but I find it a bit too drying and don’t care for the texture in my hair.  The coconut milk smoothes and moisturizes the hair, while castile soap cleans and shines!

You can add other oils in to suit your hair needs- olive oil or coconut oil to moisturize, or certain essential oils, like rosemary for scalp issues. My final product- coconut milk, castile soap, a tiny bit of olive oil and rosemary oil, felt like washing my hair with fresh snow- it smelled so wintery and clean!

BEAUTY WEEK: Skinny Dip Coffee Scrub

I’m doing something a little special with the blog this week!  I’ve been really into making my own bath and beauty products and treatments lately, and I want to share them all with you, so get excited! It’s the very first FEED DIY BEAUTY WEEK!

The great part about this is that all of these things make spectacular Christmas gifts if you’re a bit behind in your shopping 🙂

The first thing I want to share is one of the first things I ever whipped up in my own kitchen- the Skinny Dip Coffee Scrub.  It’s an anti-cellulite and skin smoothing wonder that I absolutely adore, especially during the cold months!  Be careful, though, it’s pretty messy- this is a good one to use in the shower so that it’s easy to wash out.  It would definitely make coffee in your bathtub soooo you should avoid that if possible.

Ingredients:

Fresh coffee grounds (used is fine! I use the grounds from that morning’s coffee)

Olive oil or other oil of your choice

Cinnamon

Ginger

Cayenne Pepper

Lemon Juice (optional)

 Take a few tablespoons of coffee grounds and place them in a small Tupperware container (don’t use anything breakable in case it slips in the shower).  Add in three or four shakes each of the spices- I like to go heavy on the cinnamon because it smells so nice.  Add in enough olive oil to make a liquid scrub, but not too much- maybe a few tablespoons.  If you’d like your scrub more soupy, though, by all means add more!  It is yours, after all.

If you’d like to add in lemon juice, do so right before use.  Lemon juice has a great skin-brightening effect that is a nice addition to this scrub.  Overall, you are not only getting rid of all that rough dry wintery skin, but increasing circulation and detoxification from the spices!  Your legs should feel smooth, silky, and warm when you are done.

This scrub can be used over your whole body, but be easy on sensitive parts, as the coffee grounds can sometimes be harsh! Also, if you plan on shaving your legs during the same shower, do so AFTER using the scrub.  If you shave first, you will positively burn your legs because of the lemon and cayenne.  Ok, you wont burn them, but it won’t feel nice at all!

Once you rinse, pat dry with a towel and you’re done!  You shouldn’t even need a moisturizer because of that silky smooth olive oil.  Enjoy!

READ THIS: Better World Shopping Guide

My staple tools of being a socially and environmentally conscious individual are the Better World Shopper listings.  If you have never been exposed to this educational wonder, head on over to their website immediately and figure out where your favorite products lie!

Available for personal use via their website (limited products), book (great but will need to be updated eventually) or smartphone app (best), this is a resource that you can use for just about anything.  Ellis Jones has compiled countless hours of research on different companies and ranked them overall according to human rights, environmental issues, animal protection, community involvement, and social justice.

Companies are divided into categories, like “clothing”, “fast food”, “retail stores”, or “frozen dinners”, and then ranked A-F according to the research done by Jones and his team.  Each category is also given a Best and Worst, and some specific reasons as to why they are awarded that title.  For example, did you know that Back to Nature, a staple in many supermarkets natural food aisles, is actually owned by Kraft, one of the worst companies in America?  Back to Nature gets an “F”, though its store placement might suggest otherwise.

I love this guide because I can use it when I am grocery shopping- I whip out my app ($1.99) and I can see what brands of cereal are better, or toothpaste, or almond milk.  I now appreciate some well-known brands a lot more (IKEA for example) while not totally loving others that I used to trust (like Kashi).  I have also been introduced to many new brands that I has never heard of, but now have grown to love and respect.

On the whole, even if you just visit the website when necessary, this is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to make their purchases consciously.  Check it out, and tell me what you learn!  Were you surprised by anything?  I know I was…

Foods You Never Knew You Liked: Mate

So, it’s pronounced “mah-tay”.  And it just might be your new favorite thing.

I was first introduced to the wonder that is Mate in college by several friends who were introduced to it by a lovely classmate who was originally from Argentina, as is Mate itself.  The drink was taking my friends by storm, and I just couldn’t understand what all the fuss as about- until I tried it.

Mate is not just a drink- when done well, it’s an experience.  Mate is a loose herb that is traditionally packed into a dried gourd in a special way that I have yet to master- then drank out of a special straw called a bombilla that filters out the herb and just gives you the mate tea.  Mate is also traditionally consumed in a communal setting- the host, who prepares the mate, drinks the first cup, then fills the gourd back up with hot water and passes it to the next person, who drinks and then fills for the next person, and so on.

The beauty of mate is the focusing and awakening properties of the herb- it is a stimulant much like coffee, but has no addictive properties nor will it give you jitters.  When lots of people are together and sharing mate, hours of great conversation can pass and seem like minutes because of how engaged and attentive you become.  It is also renown for boosting the immune system and high antioxidant content.  It can be an excellent coffee substitute in the morning, or a surefire cure for the afternoon sleepies at the office.

While it may sound like I am talking about some type of cult experience or illegal substance, I assure you that mate is available at your nearest grocery store, and now even comes in teabag form for you to enjoy in your own individual mug or loose in your French press!

If you ever want to try it the traditional way, we would love to have you over and show you.  Just be prepared for the conversation part! 🙂 The brand that we use is called Guayaki, and it comes in a yellow bag that you can find at Giant in the natural foods section.  You can also purchase delicious, beginner-friendly Mate blends and gourd/bombilla sets at Teavana.

The ‘Bunny Spice’ Smoothie

Are you in the full-on winter blues yet? I am. One of the really cool things I’ve learned about creation and food is how the Lord really has equipped us to take care of ourselves by eating seasonal foods. It’s no coincidence that things like citrus, pumpkins, and carrots all come into season in late fall, and are full of the Vitamin C and Beta Carotene we need to support our immune systems through the winter!

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This smoothie is one that I adapted from a great book, Raw Food Real World- though they use fresh almond milk instead of yogurt. Either way, it’s a great one for the fall and winter, when we should be consuming as many ‘orange’ foods as possible- boosting our immune systems and restoring the vitamins that we often lose without the abundance of fresh produce that summer provides. Play around with this recipe until you find what suits your tastes- some people prefer to highlight the sweetness of the carrot, others the spice of the ginger. Make it yours!

1 cup fresh carrot juice (or from a health food brand, like Knudsen’s)

Fresh juice from a 1-inch ginger knob, or 2 teaspoons powdered ginger

1 banana

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg

1 6-oz container vanilla yogurt

OPTIONAL: ice

Combine everything in a blender and serve! Some people prefer this one thickened up with some ice- I can take it or leave it. I like to sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice on top as a finishing touch. Using fresh juices in this one really makes a difference, so pull out that juicer if you have it- but store-bought juices are a fine substitution as well. Enjoy, little bunnies!

Quick and Easy Lunch: Cran-Lentil Salad

Happy Monday, my friends!  Are you staying warm? Christmas is coming so soon- just two more weeks!

Believe it or not, I actually adapted this week’s lunch recipe from one that I found in a Panera Bread email a few years back!  I simplified it a lot, and I love to make it the night before for work, or even as a quick supper.  It’s very high in protein and fiber, and the pepitas add great boosts of iron and zinc! Lentils and dried cranberries are great pantry staples that make this recipe full of flavor and easy on the budget.

 1 cup cooked green lentils (or whatever variety you prefer)

¼ cup dried cranberries (Craisins are perfect)

¼ cup either black peppered  or regular feta cheese, or blue cheese if you’re really bold

¼ pepitas (dried pumpkin seeds) or slivered almonds

Salt and pepper to taste (especially if using plain feta)

OPTIONAL: 1 T olive oil, citrus-based salad dressing, or 1 T orange juice: makes the salad more moist, adds a pop of flavor, and reconstitutes the cranberries a bit

This is easy- combine everything together!  I think this is another salad that is better the next day, after the flavors have time to really meld together.  I prefer it cold, or at least room temperature. Make it the night before and keep it in the fridge for the perfect lunch!

WATCH THIS: No Impact Man

One of the very first documentaries I viewed after getting Netflix a few years back was No Impact Man.  Recommended to me at work by a fellow health nut, I was surprised and challenged by this family’s brave quest.

The premise of the documentary (and corresponding book of the same title) is that the Beavan family (husband, wife, and child) attempt to live with no environmental impact for an entire year- while residing in the middle of Manhattan.  Many challenges arise, from transportation (bikes become a favorite) to food sourcing (how can you eat locally?) to what to do about toilet paper (do they ever answer that one?).

The participants are very honest about their feelings during the experiment, and how it affects them in life afterwards as well.  It’s quite entertaining to see the whole family stomping laundry in the tub, or experimenting with ancient preservation techniques in lieu of a refrigerator.  They even go to visit the farms (just outside of NYC) where most of their food was coming from.   There is great dialogue interspersed about different industries (dairy and “organics” being two big ones) that may change the way you think about things, too.  This film changed that way I view “antibiotic free” labeling.

While I know that not everyone can live like this family, I love that they inspired little changes in my life, and caused me to question what I could do differently to lessen my environmental impact.  After seeing this, Matt and I started walking to the grocery store when we could, and using cut up old tees instead of paper towels for small messes.  We also made use of power strips so that we can turn off unnecessary electronics when we are gone for an extended time.  We might not live without refrigeration, but we certainly were moved to make changes where we could.  If you have a free night, I highly suggest watching this film- you wont regret it!

Lessening impact alongside you this weekend,

Karli