Do It Yourself This Holiday Season

As hard as it is to believe, the holiday season is upon is, and it’s time to decorate, compile gifts for loved ones and cook up a storm of perfectly spiced treats. If you’re anything like me, you’re looking to save some money–and make something unique and meaningful–by creating things yourself this year.

From decor to gifts, the DIY trend has made it easy to get inspiration from the internet and whip together something truly delightful, creative and one-of-a-kind. Check out our list for links to some great ideas for do-it-yourself creations to help spread the holiday joy:

Holiday Decor:

Homemade Gifts:

Mouth-Watering Recipes:

Happy DIY-ing!

Have You Completed Your Summer Bucket List?

While the weather may suggest otherwise, the dog days of summer have come and gone, and many kids have retired their swimsuits for back-to-school clothing. With less than a month until the season officially ends, let’s reflect on everything summer of 2012 had to offer: sweltering heat broke records, the presidential campaigns began to dominate the news, and the Summer Olympics captivated our imaginations.

I know I haven’t made it to the pool as many times as I’d like or read as many page-turners as I’d intended, but all in all, the past few months have been filled with enough warm nights around friends, weekend getaways and family cookouts for the summer to be a success in my book. What about everyone else?

Until September 21st, when fall officially begins, are there any last activities you’d like to fit in? Check out the below summer bucket list for inspiration. Happy (almost) September, everyone!

2012 Summer Bucket List (Raleigh-Durham Edition! Explore comparable activities in your area):

Have you…

  • Judged a book by its cover, checked it out from the library – and ended up loving it?
  • Swam the length of the pool in one breath?
  • Tried grilling fruit?
  • Toured a local brewery? Big Boss Brewery recommended!
  • Visited a lake and gone fishing?
  • Caught up with a childhood friend and reminisced about summers past?
  • Built something from scratch (a set of shelves, cupcakes, a website, or whatever else!)?
  • Learned a completely useless fact?
  • Checked out the delicious food from a food truck?
  • Created your own DIY Salt Scrub – and gifted it to friends?
  • Visited a cool museum? NC Museum of Natural Sciences is free!
  • Roadtripped to a new location, however mundane?
  • Enjoyed live music & beautiful weather at a fun outdoor venue?
  • Watched an old movie? Charade is my absolute favorite!
  • Spent an entire day just wasting time?

Frazzled From Summer Travel? Bounce Back with DIY Treatments

Via: thewanderingwanderluster.com

Via: thewanderingwanderluster.com

 

I just returned from a wonderful, fun-filled and entirely draining week in the beautiful city of Chicago. While I enjoy the kind of vacation involving beachside napping as much as the next person, I also love the hectic exhilaration of spending days on end sight-seeing, flavoring new foods, catching a live show and browsing hole-in-the-wall boutiques for the perfect surprise presents to bring friends back home.

We usually envision ourselves returning from vacation rejuvenated, ready to tackle the piles of work that have stacked up in our absence, with slightly fewer bags under our eyes. Of course, after running around the city under a blazing sun for a week, compiled with the joys of public transportation and navigating O’Hare airport, I’ve naturally returned more frazzled than before I left. And I’m just going to guess that it was some sort of city toxin/airplane dryness combination that has left my skin dull and hair frizzy.

Are you feeling the effects of mid-summer skin, hair and body stress? For me, it’s the perfect time to treat myself to a night of all-natural DIY beauty treatments (while doing loads and LOADS of post-trip laundry, of course). Here’s what’s on the menu:

1.  Carrot & Honey Face Mask

  • What it does: This mask is perfect for rejuvenating tired skin since carrots are full of antioxidants that help fight free radicals (think: city smog) that cause your skin to look less radiant, and honey is a great natural antibacterial cleanser and moisturizer. This easy recipe also includes witch hazel (tones and cleanses pores), cucumber juice (soothes irritation) and lemon juice (contains vitamin C; plumps skin), which all work together to help your skin rebound from post-travel dullness.
  • What you’ll need: 1/2 cup cooked mashed carrots, 1/4 cup honey, 1 teaspoon witch hazel, 1 tablespoon cucumber juice and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • What you’ll need to do: Find the freshest ingredients possible; this will ensure that they’re full of the powerful antioxidants you’re after. Start by mashing the carrots (bring water to a boil, reduce heat and add carrots, and allow to cook covered for about 20 minutes or until they are tender; then simply mash the carrots into a smooth consistency). Next, combine ingredients in a bowl and mix together until consistency is thick and pasty. Massage and layer it onto skin and allow for it to sit for 25 minutes or longer. Rinse off and follow with a non-alcoholic toner (witch hazel is great as a toner by itself!) and apply a light moisturizer.

2.  Rosemary & Lemon Foot Soak

  • What it does: For all of us who strongly regret our footwear choices after extensive walking on trips, this soak can be a lifesaver. The rejuvenating properties of lemon, combined with the soothing and calming qualities of rosemary make for the perfect (and aromatic) foot soaking experience. This recipe also includes oat flour, which reduces inflammation, rashes, and works as a powerful moisturizer.
  • What you’ll need: 2 drops lemon essential oil, 2 drops rosemary essential oil, and 4 tablespoons organic oat flour. Note: Essential oils can be found at most whole grocery stores or health food stores.
  • What you’ll need to do: Add ingredients to a warm water foot bath. (It doesn’t have to be fancy! A small plastic tub would work). Soak feet for 15 to 20 minutes. For added moisture, rub on some hand or foot cream afterwards (or alternatively, have someone nice massage it in).

3.  Coconut & Avocado Hair Mask

  • What it does: Both coconut and avocado are full of fats needed by hair to look shiny, soft, bouncy and healthy. When applied from roots to ends, these ingredients can help smooth hair at the cuticle and repair the appearance of split ends.
  • What you’ll need: 1 large avocado, mashed; 1 tablespoon solid coconut oil (I get mine at Trader Joe’s); 1 tablespoon aloe juice; and 1 teaspoon jojoba oil.
  • What you’ll need to do: Combine ingredients with either a spoon, or for a smoother consistency, with a food processor. Apply to damp hair from roots to ends as evenly as possible and cover with a shower cap to avoid too much drip-age. Let sit on hair for 30-45 minutes and rinse, wash and style as usual.

4.  Vitamin E Cuticle Soak

  • What it does: This one is simple. As you probably know, vitamin E is fundamental in delivering smoother, healthier skin, and cuticles are no exception. Combined with a powerful hand lotion, your nails will be looking great in time for the weekend!
  • What you’ll need: A few drops of Vitamin E, which is available in most grocery stores.
  • What you’ll need to do:  Simply add a few teaspoons of the oil to a warm bowl of water and soak your hands for 10-15 minutes. Shea butter is also great for rough cuticles, so try finding a hand lotion containing this ingredient for maximum soothing power.

Happy summer travels, everyone! Do you have a trick to help you recharge after a tiring trip? Let us know!

10 Spa Treatments Made from Around Your Kitchen

Via: glamour.com

Via: glamour.com

Let’s face it, spa treatments can be expensive, time consuming and full of chemicals. You may even find that these work better than your favorite expensive brands. Get your girls together, and have a spa day this summer. These ten are made from around your kitchen at home:

BODY

Brown Sugar Lemony Body Scrub:

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 tbsp of honey
2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp of your favorite essential oil (bergamot for energy, eucalyptus or spearmint for stress relief and lavender or jasmine for something relaxation)
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until it turns into a paste
Apply to moist skin in circular motion using your fingertips to help skin cells slough off faster
Rinse off with warm water
Apply your favorite moisturizer
Results: smooth, soft glowing skin.

Milk Foot Soak:

Add 4 cups of warmed whole milk
2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt and 6 drops of your favorite essential oil
Soak for 20 minutes.
Use the Brown Sugar Lemony Body Scrub to remove dead skin on feet.

Invigorating Coffee Scrub:
Coffee contains Magnesium and Vitamin E. It also acts as an antibacterial, exfoliating and stimulating agent:

Brew a fresh pot of coffee
3 tablespoons of the fresh grounds
1 tablespoon of salt
Mix in a bowl
Scrub mixture over body within 20 minutes of brewing (before oxidation occurs)

HAIR

Avocado Conditioning Mask:

Mash an avocado (two for long hair) in a bowl with a fork until it is a thick, rich paste
Add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance (optional)
Spread the paste on the hair from the root to the ends
Leave on for 20 minutes
shampoo out and rinse out
Results: shiny, smooth, stronger, moisturized hair and added vitality to dull, dry hair.

Olive Oil Deep Hair Conditioning Mask:

Beat two eggs (three for long hair)
Add in three tablespoons of olive oil
Add your favorite essential oils for fragrance (optional.)
Apply a liberal amount to hair from root to tip
Wrap hair in warm towel and rest for about 30 minutes
After you rinse, you will notice how soft, shiny and manageable your hair will be
How Often? Do once a month (twice for dry hair)

Natural Blonde Highlights:
For natural blonde highlights:

Add 1/4-cup lemon juice (natural bleach) to 3/4-cup water and
Rinse your hair with the mixture
Apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner
Sit in the sun until your hair dries
For maximum effect: repeat once daily for up to a week.

TEETH

Strawberry Bleach Mask:
This natural mixture will remove any stains and discoloration on your teeth:

Crush one ripe strawberry
Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Apply the mixture on teeth with toothbrush,  let it set for 5 minutes
Brush with your regular toothpaste
How Often: Once a week.

FACE

Honey Oats Face Scrub:

Combine 1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon finely ground almonds
2 tablespoons dry oatmeal and some lemon juice (or yogurt to a luxurious and exfoliating facial scrub)
Massage mixture gently onto face
Rinse with warm water.
Afterwards: Use your favorite moisturizer.

Yogurt & Honey Mask:
This mixture moisturizes, hydrates and soothes the skin. Honey can be used as a minor acne treatment:

Mix 1-part plain yogurt and 1-part honey
Apply to clean, moist face
Let it set for 10-15 minutes
Rinse well with warm water.

Banana Facial Cream:

Mash 1/2 of a ripe banana until creamy
Apply on face – leave for 15-20 minutes.
Rinse with warm water and cold water to close pores
Pat dry

DIY: Salt Scrub

I’m sure you’ve seen jars of salt and sugar scrubs regularly available at anywhere from Target to high-end spas and have been tempted to try out their exfoliating powers. But why spend upwards of $30 on a jar of commercially made scrub when you can create your own using easy-to-find ingredients?

I’ve searched the web, tried a few of my own batches and come up with a recipe that should yield you a salt scrub moist enough to hold together, but not too oily, and perfect for beautifully exfoliated arms and legs.

Perfect Exfoliation Salt Scrub Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oil. This could be sweet almond, grapeseed, jojoba, or any light-textured massage oil (don’t use cooking oil, as it is too heavy).
  • 1 cup fine sea salt. Regular iodized table salt is too harsh for skin. Try using sugar for sensitive skin.
  • 5-15 drops of your favorite essential oils. Choose whichever scent you like best! Try experimenting with different batches and combinations of scents. **Alternatively, if you prefer fresh citrus scents, try adding the zest from a lemon, lime, or orange

Preparation:

  • Place salt in a small mixing bowl.
  • Mix in the oil with a spoon or wooden stick, making sure ingredients are fully blended. You can adjust the salt-to-oil ratio for preferred consistency.
  • Tap in drops of your chosen essential oil and mix well.
  • Store in a cute, air-tight jar and enjoy, or package as a homemade gift for a loved one!

Tips:

  • Don’t over-exfoliate your skin. Once or twice a week should be plenty.
  • Don’t use this formula on your face; an exfoliant for your facial skin should be extremely gentle.
  • Try substituting sugar for salt for a gentler exfoliant. My naturally extremely-attractive-to-bugs-of-all-types skin is better suited for salt, but many prefer the finer grain of sugar.
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Try using twine, raffia, or ribbon to spruce up cheap jars for easy gift giving

Enjoy your creation and let us know how your batch turns out!