Rejuvenating Bath Oil Blend

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I know a little about some of the health benefits of essential oils, so I was really interested in reviewing a new book called The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness (Robert Rose, softcover). As the book mentions, essential oils … Continue reading

Autumn Bouquets

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I am such a jar and bottle-saver! I save glass jars and bottles of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I was starting to get quite a collection and running out of space to put them, so I thought I’d make … Continue reading

7 Anti-Aging Foods

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I saw an article at Sharecare.com about seven foods they refer to as “anti-aging powerhouses.” These foods may also help cut your risk of heart disease and cancer when incorporated into a healthy diet. So if you’re interested, here’s a condensed list of the seven foods–you can … Continue reading

Exercise Your Face: Tips from The 5-Minute Facial Workout

lrbkcoverWe all hear a lot about how important it is to get enough exercise, right? But I hadn’t heard much about the idea of exercising your face, which is also referred to as Facial Gymnastics. Now I know much more, thanks to the review copy I received of  The 5-Minute Facial Workout by Catherine Pez. The book explains that there are more than 50 muscles that make up the structure of your face and you can tone these muscles just as you tone other muscles in your body. Facial exercises can benefit both women and men, and this book says you can see improvements just by doing them 5 minutes a day. Another nice thing is that no special equipment is needed and you can do these exercises anywhere and anytime (although you probably won’t want to do them in public!) :D

Here’s some interesting info about Facial Gymnastics:

  • Working the muscles in your lower face helps lift your features, refine your skin, sculpt your cheeks, plump up your lips, and firm the skin around your neck.
  • Exercising muscles in the middle of your face improves facial structure, pulls up the cheekbones, rounds out the cheeks, and prevents the formation of crow’s feet and nasolabial folds (also called “laugh lines”).
  • Working on the upper face helps to relax your eyelids, prevent frown lines, and support the skin of your forehead and temples, which is essential to maintaining muscle tone in all of your features.

There are 30 facial exercises in The 5-Minute Facial Workout, each with clear instructions and color photographs demonstrating the movement, so it’s very easy to follow. I received permission from the publisher to share two exercises from the book, one for lips and one for the forehead, so here they are!

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Images courtesy of The 5-Minute Facial Workout: 30 Exercises for a Naturally Beautiful Face by Catherine Pez, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

 

It certainly makes sense that if you tone your facial muscles it will help improve those wrinkles! Have you ever tried doing facial exercises? Is it something you may start doing?

 

33 Different Uses for Mason Jars

I’ve become a mason jar-saver, and I have a small but growing collection of different shapes and sizes that have held jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, and other homemade foods that friends have given me. So I was glad to find a helpful guide at MidwestLiving.com on 15 Ways to Use Mason Jars. Then I found more ideas at a few other sites. These are all great ideas because they’re so simple!

Here are a few from Midwest Living that I plan on using…

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Silverware holders–use each jar to hold a napkin and “silverware setting for one”–the jar can also be used by your guest as a drinking glass. Or organize spoons, forks, and knives in three different jars for a buffet-style arrangement.

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Or you may just want to use the jars for serving your beverages in–they’re great for outdoor parties or picnics because they’re so sturdy!

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Use as containers for forcing bulbs. I love this idea!

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Make an easy centerpiece–just float a pretty blossom in a jar filled with water.

Other Midwest Living ideas include:

Using jars to store dry foods like oatmeal and other grains, rice, lentils, dried fruit, sugar, flour, salt, dried beans, pasta, etc. They come in handy if you buy bulk foods. Add your own homemade labels.

Keep your desk organized–use jars for holding pens, pencils, markers, paint brushes, and scissors.

I found more uses at a site called Care2. They list 50 uses for mason jars! These are the ideas from their list that I use or will use most:

  1. Storing cookies
  2. Storing homemade mixes
  3. Use for “recipe in a jar” gifts
  4. Storing saved seeds
  5. Use as containers for homemade soy candles
  6. Holding sour dough starters
  7. Storing homemade cleaners for the home (make sure they’re clearly labeled!)
  8. Storing cotton balls on the bathroom counter
  9. Storing bulk or homemade shampoo
  10. Storing bath salts
  11. Storing small office supplies
  12. Making sun tea
  13. Use as vases for fresh flowers
  14. Use as containers for homemade candy gifts
  15. Storing sewing notions-buttons and other small items
  16. Use as containers for loose change

These uses are from a site called Keeper of the Home. Here are some ideas I like from her list of 31 uses:

  1. Storing leftovers in the refrigerator–soups, stews, cooked rice, veggies–pretty much any kind of food that will fit in the jar (if you need extra lids, you can purchase some like these).
  2. Store leftover smoothies so you can drink later in the day or take to work.
  3. Keep track of how much water you’re drinking–if you drink from a quart-size jar, you can easily keep track of how much water you’re drinking each day.
  4. Sprouting seeds or grains (you can buy these special lids if you want).
  5. Storing homemade juice or iced tea in the refrigerator.
  6. Keeping herbs fresh in the refrigerator (like green onions, cilantro, etc.) by filling a jar 3/4 full of water, then placing your bunch of fresh herbs in it-the herbs stay fresh longer than if put in the produce drawer.
  7. Storing homemade spice mixes–use the 1/2 pint or smaller jars for this.
  8. Mixing and storing homemade salad dressings, marinades, and other sauces.
  9. Mixing and storing homemade syrups.

And then I found a few more ideas at Yahoo Voices:

  1. Start plant cuttings in jars filled with water (I do this a lot!)
  2. To be more eco-friendly, use mason jars instead of plastic containers for your lunch–they’re a great container for soups and salads.

So all together, that’s 33 different ways to use mason jars–plus all the other ideas at those sites that I didn’t mention!

Do you have a collection of mason jars? What different ways do you like to use them?

Three Green Tea Toners

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We’ve all heard how healthy green tea is, with all those antioxidants! So I’ve been drinking it more. But I didn’t realize until lately that it’s also good for your skin, since it has vitamins C and E in it, and makes a great skin toner. I’ve tried making it several different ways, and they’ve all worked well for me. My skin tends to be on dry side, so if you have very oily skin, I’m not sure how well these recipes would work for you. But it’s worth a try–the cost is so minimal to make these, you really don’t have anything to lose! And I like the idea of making my own natural, chemical-free, preservative-free skin care products when I can.

You do have to keep the toner refrigerated, and you can use it for up to 7 days before you need to toss any that’s leftover and make a new batch. That may sound like some extra work, but green tea toner is so easy to make, it’s really no trouble at all! These recipes call for 1/4 cup water, which may not seem like much, but it’s always been more than enough toner for me for one week. You can always double the recipe if you think you’ll need a little more toner. Also, the toner will look cloudy once it’s refrigerated, but that’s just what the tea does–it’s fine to use!

I keep the toner I make in a small (4-oz.) brown glass bottle that used to have Vanilla Extract in it–I saved the bottle and removed the label, and it’s the perfect size for my toner! Even a 2-oz. bottle would probably be big enough. My 4-oz. bottle takes up very little room in the refrigerator and it’s a very handy size to hold as I’m applying the toner.

Here are the three green tea toner recipes…

BASIC GREEN TEA TONER by NancyCreative, adapted from howstuffworks.com 

  • 1/4 cup water (use filtered if you have it)
  • 1 green tea bag, preferably organic (or 1 teaspoon organic green tea leaves)

Bring water to a boil (I just boil it in the microwave in a microwave-safe measuring cup–that makes it easier to pour the toner into the bottle I store it in). Remove from heat.

Place the tea bag or tea leaves in the boiling water, and steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove tea bag (or leaves) and let tea cool.

Pour the tea into a small bottle with a tight-fitting cap or lid, or pour into a small spray bottle (if you want to use it as a spritzer). Refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, wash your face with your favorite cleanser and pat dry. Apply green tea toner generously on your face with a cotton ball, or spritz it on. Let the toner dry on your face–don’t rinse off. Follow with your favorite moisturizer.

Use morning and night. Keep toner refrigerated and use for up to 7 days before making a new batch.

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GREEN TEA LEMON TONER by NancyCreative, adapted from justapinch.com

The lemon juice and witch hazel make this good for oily skin

  • 1 organic green tea bag (or 1 teaspoon organic green tea leaves)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water (you can use filtered water or mineral water if you have it)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons witch hazel (optional–this is good to add if you have oily skin)

Bring water to a boil, and remove from heat.

Place the tea bag or tea leaves in the boiling water, and steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove tea bag (or leaves) and let tea cool.

After tea has cooled, add the lemon juice (and witch hazel, if using), and mix ingredients together.

Pour the tea mixture into a small bottle with a tight-fitting cap or lid, or pour into a small spray bottle (if you want to use it as a spritzer). Refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, wash your face with your favorite cleanser and pat dry. Apply green tea toner generously on your face with a cotton ball, or spritz it on. Let the toner dry on your face–don’t rinse off. Follow with your favorite moisturizer.

Use morning and night. Keep toner refrigerated and use for up to 7 days before making a new batch.

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TEA TREE AND VITAMIN E GREEN TEA TONER by NancyCreative, adapted from glowingskintips.com

The tea tree and vitamin E oils make this good for dry skin. You’ll need an eyedropper for adding the oils to the toner.

  • 1 organic green tea bag (or 1 teaspoon organic green tea leaves)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 drops tea tree oil
  • 1 drop vitamin E oil

Bring water to a boil, and remove from heat.

Place the tea bag or tea leaves in the boiling water, and steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove tea bag (or leaves) and let tea cool.

After tea has cooled, add the tea tree and vitamin E oils. Mix ingredients together well.

Pour the tea mixture into a small bottle with a tight-fitting cap or lid. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, wash your face with your favorite cleanser and pat dry. Apply green tea toner generously on your face with a cotton ball (shake bottle slightly before using). Let the toner dry on your face–don’t rinse off. Follow with your favorite moisturizer.

Use morning and night. Keep toner refrigerated and use for up to 7 days before making a new batch.

Have you made your own toner before? Do you have a favorite recipe for it?

Orange Vanilla Coconut Scrub

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I love orangey-scented things, so I thought I’d try making a scrub with epsom salt. Not long ago, I did a post on Peppermint Tea Tree Bath Salts and mentioned some of the health benefits of epsom salt. I thought they would be great to use in a body scrub, too. This scrub is thick, like a paste, and is scented with orange essential oil and pure vanilla extract. It smells so good and makes your skin really nice and soft!

ORANGE VANILLA COCONUT SCRUB by NancyCreative

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 8 to 10 drops Orange essential oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small or medium-size bowl or other clean container, combine Epsom Salts with coconut oil using a spoon or spatula (Note: If the coconut oil gets much above 76˚ it can turn into liquid form–so if yours is liquidy, refrigerate your coconut oil until it solidifies). Add orange essential oil a few drops at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the vanilla extract last and blend everything well. Store in a shallow jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. You don’t need to refrigerate this scrub unless the temperature in your home gets much higher than 76˚ (or when you notice the coconut oil turning to liquid form), because then the mixture will be more runny. You can use this scrub 1 to 2  times a week to keep extra dry or rough skin areas smooth and soft.

When using, wet your skin all over in the shower and massage the scrub into your skin. You don’t need to use a lot–just pinch up about 1/2 teaspoon at a time from your jar or container–a little goes a long way! This is great for rough skin areas like knees and elbows. Don’t use on face or other sensitive areas. Also, be careful when using, because the oil from the scrub can make your shower or tub a little slippery. If you want to use this on your feet as a foot scrub, it would probably be safest to give your feet a separate foot scrub/bath while you’re sitting down using a small plastic tub; that way, you don’t have to worry about slipping in your bathroom tub or shower.

It’s fun making your own bath and skin care products, and so much cheaper, too! I think they work just as well as any you can buy. Have you tried making any for yourself?

Upcycling: Clever DIY Decor

I saw some very clever DIY decor projects at Country Living recently. They look pretty easy, too. There are lots of ideas, and I’m sharing a few of my favorites! Visit CountryLiving.com for complete directions.

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If you like quilts, here’s a framed quilt design made out of paper! It’s a great way to use your paper scraps from other craft projects. This design was made from four different patterned papers, and they’re just glued onto an illustration board with a glue stick. Add a frame and you have a great quilt wall hanging with no sewing involved!

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I thought these Lampshade Tables were a great way to upcycle old lampshades–maybe you have some in your attic you can upcycle! Or maybe you’ll find a really unique shade to use from a flea market. All you need is a little spray paint for the metal lampshade wire, the right type of glue, and a round-cut piece of glass for the top!

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I love this pillow made from an old sweater–another great upcycling idea! It sounds pretty easy to make this–just cut two square pieces from an old sweater and sew together–you’ll need a pillow form, too. The flower is a bit more involved, but it’s a really cute touch!

Hope these ideas give you some upcycling inspiration! Are you working on any fun DIY projects of your own?

Peppermint Tea Tree Bath Salts and 25 Other Uses for Epsom Salt

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There’s nothing like a relaxing soak in the tub with bath salts to make you feel revived and refreshed! The challenge is finding the time to do it! I decided a few months ago to start making time, at least … Continue reading