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?

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

Decorating with Fall Foliage: Part 2

I have found so many creative Thanksgiving and autumn decorating ideas on the web and posted some of those yesterday. This is a continuation of some of the inspiring things I found. The ideas and photos I’m posting today are from Better Homes and Gardens. You just may get motivated to try out some of these really easy projects for Thanksgiving!

Here are some ideas using a variety of vases and containers (you can click on an image if you’d like to see it larger)…

Row 1: (1) Display pears, apples, or other autumn fruit in a large apothecary jar; (2) Fill vases with branches of colorful leaves and bittersweet berries; (3) For larger open spaces, fill tall vases with long stems of colorful foliage…a great idea for an entry way!

Row 2: (1) Display cattails in several tall glass vases, anchored with nuts or acorns; (2) Display cattails or branches of leaves in a vase filled with birdseed to give them support…tie some raffia around the vase to add to the natural look; (3) Use a butternut squash as a vase by cutting off the top of the squash, scooping out the flesh, and filling with water and colorful autumn flowers.

Row 3: (1) Arrange autumn flowers and berries in glass jars or vases and fill with water…for a pretty centerpiece, line up a variety of these along the middle of your oval or oblong table (or cluster them if your table is round); (2) Arrange small pumpkins in a rustic basket, tie a bow on the handle and use as a centerpiece or decoration in your living room; (3) Put freshly fallen or pressed leaves in small glass vases (old lab beakers are used in this photo)…put around your home or arrange them together as a centerpiece.

Note: an easy way to press leaves is to place them between layers of newspaper, under a heavy stack of books. Let leaves dry for a few days. To enhance the color of the leaves, iron them between pieces of waxed paper–use a cloth in-between the iron and waxed paper to keep wax off the iron.

Hope you get to try some of these out! You’ll find many more ideas at www.bhg.com!

Decorating with Fall Foliage: Part 1

I love the season of autumn, but when it comes to decorating my home, I really don’t have many store-bought fall accessories to work with. I have a wreath for my door and some autumn candle holders, but that’s about it. I really don’t want to buy a lot, though, because then I’d have the problem of storing it…and I just don’t have the space! Besides, I really like using elements from nature when I can, like pretty fall flowers, gourds and pumpkins, apples and pears, and rich, colorful leaves. And when you use natural things, you don’t have to worry about storing them…you can just put them in your compost bin! The other benefit is that many of the natural things you can decorate with are inexpensive or free–you can find pretty leaves, dramatic branches, and acorns or other nuts on a walk in your neighborhood or local park.

I’ve seen so many great natural decorating ideas for Thanksgiving and fall on the websites of some of my favorite magazines, so I thought I’d share some with you. Even though we’re pretty well into fall, you may find a few things you want to try from now through Thanksgiving.

Here are some creative tips (and photos) I found at MarthaSewart.com. I love this autumn planter (pictured above)…just use one of your unused flower planters from summer, and fill with gourds, small pumpkins, Indian corn…and fill in any extra spaces with leaves, moss, or other natural filler.

These gourd vases are another great idea…

I actually still have a few daisies blooming in my garden, so I could use them for this! Just cut the tops off of the pumpkins, squashes, or gourds you want to use and scoop away the inside pulp with a spoon; then fill with fall flowers (mums would work great) and add water…these natural “vases” should be watertight for about a week. Or you can use dried flowers, which won’t need any water.

There was a similar idea to this over at RealSimple.com…for their pumpkin centerpiece, they suggest arranging fresh flowers in a water-filled jar (instead of putting water in the pumpkin itself), and placing the jar inside the pumpkin. That sounds like it would work really well. Here’s their photo…

And another RealSimple idea and photo…use a wooden salad bowl as an autumn “vase.”  Place a shallow glass or plastic container in the wooden bowl, fill with water, and arrange cut carnations, mums, or other autumn flowers in the container. The stems only need to be about 3 or 4 inches long.

The richness of the wooden bowl makes it perfect for a fall centerpiece!

I’ll post more natural fall and Thanksgiving decorating ideas soon…stay tuned for Part 2! :)

Linked to Favorite Things Saturday.

A Surprise in my Garden

Now that we’re well into fall, I’ve been getting the garden ready for winter little by little. As I have time, I trim and clear the flower beds of dried stems and leaves so they’ll look a little neater over winter. As I was clearing one bed recently, I saw what looked like part of a cantaloupe under the leaves of another bushy plant. How would a cantaloupe get in my flower bed? I wondered. When I cleared away some of the growth covering this strange object, I discovered that it was indeed a nice round little cantaloupe still attached to the vine! I didn’t plant any cantaloupe seeds in my garden-I actually have tried to grow melons before, but with no success. So it must have grown from seeds in my compost pile. All year long, I continue to add coffee grounds, fresh fruit and vegetable scraps (including seeds), and plant clippings to the compost pile in my yard. This spring, I had a nice amount of rich, moist compost to spread around my flower beds. And without me realizing it, this cantaloupe vine had started growing in one of the beds, mostly hidden by other bigger plants. What a fun surprise! I felt a little sense of accomplishment as I picked the melon off the vine in my garden, even though I hadn’t really done anything to cause it to grow. So, I am resolving next year to try growing melons again!

In case you’re wondering what those other cuttings are in the basket, they are blooms from my garlic chive plants that are in the process of drying out. In the fall, I collect the seeds from the dried chive blooms. I plant these the following spring to grow more chive plants and also give the seeds to friends who plant them in their yards. Chives are so easy to grow and it’s great to have them growing all summer long so you can use them fresh when you cook and bake things! Finely chopped chives are also good mixed in cream cheese or scrambled eggs. Here’s a close-up of the chive bloom–those little black rounded shapes in the upper right of the photo are the seeds…

I haven’t cut open the cantaloupe yet…I want to admire it a little longer before I do! :)

The Amazing Cucumber

I found out some pretty interesting things about cucumbers from a blog called Stir, Laugh, Repeat. For instance, did you know that cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day? One cuke contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Zinc!

It’s amazing how good cucumbers are for you and all the different things you can use them for–and now when cucumbers are in such abundance, it’s a great time to try these tips:

FOR PERSONAL USE:

  • If you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, snack on a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and carbohydrates that can provide a quick pick-me-up. They’re also a good snack if you are having the “munchies”–a cucumber will help curb your appetite until mealtime.
  • To help reduce stress, cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water. The chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber react with the boiling water and are released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma.
  • For reducing the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite, rub a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes–the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite and wrinkles.
  • If you’ve had a spicy meal and are out of mints, take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath–the phytochemcials in the cucmber kill the bacteria in your mouth that cause it.

USES FOR YOUR HOME:

  • To keep your bathroom mirror from fogging up after a shower, rub a cucumber slice along the mirror to eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.
  • Use cucumbers to polish your shoes! Rub a freshly–cut cucumber over your shoes; you’ll have a quick and durable shine that also repels water.
  • If grubs and slugs are ruining your planting beds, place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans, but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
  • If you’re out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge, just take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge–the squeak will be gone!
  • Here’s a “green” way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel: take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean. It will remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won’t leave streaks and won’t harm your fingers or fingernails while you clean.
  • If you’re using a pen and make a mistake, take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing. You can also use this on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls. :)

Hope you find these tips helpful! I’ll need to add a few more cucumbers to my shopping list!

Starbucks: Grounds for Your Garden

I’ve known about Starbucks’ Grounds for Your Garden for about three years now. But a lot of people don’t know about it, so I thought I’d mention it because it’s such a great idea! Starbucks actually started this program back in 1995, offering customers complimentary five-pound bags of used coffee grounds that they could use for their gardens, as part of their corporate effort to recycle and reduce waste. And they’ve continued doing this each year since…when spring comes around, you’ll notice bins filled with free packages of used coffee grounds in most Starbucks coffee shops. Each bag of grounds has a sticker attached that gives directions on how to use them–either by adding directly in the garden or in a compost pile.

Coffee grounds add valuable nutrients like nitrogen and potassium to your garden (other nutrients include phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and copper). You can mix coffee grounds into the soil or sprinkle them around any flowers in your garden as an extra fertilizer; they work well especially with acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, and magnolias. Or you can sprinkle lightly around vegetables in your garden. Don’t apply too thickly; the grounds applied directly to the soil should be less than 1/4″ thick to avoid the growth of certain fungus.

I read on the About.com website that coffee grounds can help control some bugs. They say that, supposedly, ants hate coffee–so you can try spreading the grounds where you have ant problems.

If you want to start composting at home, you can fill a wooden or plastic bin in your yard with a mixture of leaves and other yard trimmings; then mix in coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps from fruits and vegetables (do not add any scraps from animal products–that will contaminate your compost pile). Keep the materials in the bin moist and mix every so often to encourage the composting process. The compost will be ready to use in your garden when it fully decomposes into a dark rich soil-like material. You can layer on compost about 1/2 thick in your garden beds–it’s a great fertilizer and it discourages weeds and helps keeps plants moist, so you don’t need to water as often.

So try using some used coffee grounds in your garden–your plants will love it, and it’s a great way to help the recycling effort! It’s also a good excuse to stop by Starbucks and treat yourself to a yummy Frappuccino® this summer!

(Frappuccinos® pictured above are from the Starbucks website)

Linked to Anything Related Tuesday and Outdoor Wednesday.