Category Archives: DIY Home/Health/Beauty

Black Tea Window Cleaner

Black Tea Window Cleaner @ NancyC

Who would have thought that black tea could be used as a window cleaner? I think it’s a great idea–so many people drink it, so they have it on hand, and it’s a great eco-friendly alternative to conventional chemical-laden cleaners. I didn’t come up with this idea myself–the tea experts at Choice Organic Teas, makers of organic, fair trade certified teas, told me about it and sent me some samples of their black tea to try it out! They sent me their Classic Black, English Breakfast, and Wild Forest Black teas–any black tea should work for making the window cleaner.

I used the Classic Black tea and found that this window cleaner is really easy to make. I was also surprised at how well it cleaned my windows! Here’s how you make it:


What you’ll need:

  • a clean, empty spray bottle
  • 3 tea bags of black tea
  • 1 cup of hot water

Directions: Steep tea bags in 1 cup of water for 4 to 5 minutes; remove tea bags and let brewed tea cool. Pour the cooled tea into your spray bottle. Spray on windows and mirrors and wipe thoroughly with a paper towel or cloth.

That’s all there is to it! it’s nice to be able to clean your windows using natural ingredients instead of chemicals, isn’t it? This sure comes in handy for spring and summer cleaning! Have you ever tried making your own window cleaner?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me Monday.

Nourishing Banana Face Cream

Nourishing Banana Face Cream @ NancyC

One of the things I love about this DIY face cream is that it’s so simple and easy–and has just 2 ingredients that just about everyone has on hand–a banana and some milk! I found 510skQgPAgL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_this recipe in my review copy of The Complete Guide to Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments (Robert Rose, softcover). This book includes 175 easy-to-follow recipes for a variety of skin and hair care items. And all the ingredients in these recipes are chemical-free, using natural ingredients like aromatic and medicinal plants, flowers, fruits, and essential oils. For example, there’s a Rejuvenating Bath recipe that includes dried sage, thyme, and eucalyptus leaves, along with patchouli and sandalwood essential oils. And a Lemon Hand Cream that’s made with shea butter, apricot kernel oil, castor oil, and lemon essential oil.

I decided to try the Nourishing Banana Cream for the face because it was such a simple recipe that we all could try without having to buy any special ingredients. This is actually more like a mask than a cream, because you just keep it on for 3 to 4 minutes. It really does make your skin feel nice and soft after you wash it off–it felt so refreshing, too! If your skin is dry, you’ll probably want to apply your regular moisturizer after you rinse this banana face cream off.

Here’s what the book says about bananas: Bananas are good for beauty, both inside and out. They contain a host of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamins A, C, and E and potassium. So pamper your face and try this out when you get a chance!🙂

NOURISHING BANANA CREAM from Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments

Makes 1 application – works best for normal skin

  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 3 Tablespoons milk

Slice banana. In a small bowl and using a fork, mash banana with milk to form a paste (I actually found it easier to mash by putting the ingredients in a baggie and mashing it with my hands)

Using fingers, spread banana mixture over face and neck. Let stand on skin for 3 to 4 minutes.

Rinse off banana mixture with lukewarm water. Gently pat face and neck dry with a towel.

Isn’t that easy? I used a medium-size banana and it made plenty of “cream” to apply; in fact, I had some extra. So I saved the rest and used it in a smoothie!

Have you made any DIY beauty products with simple, natural ingredients?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.


Olive Oil Soap


Photo courtesy of The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Have you ever made your own soap before? I really like the idea of using homemade soap with natural ingredients and have been interested in trying to make some myself. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to review the new book, The Best Natural Homemade Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps (Robert Rose, softcover). 

UnknownThe book starts off by sharing some interesting history about soap making. In ancient times, soap mainly consisted of a mixture of boiled fat and ashes. The first people to make olive oil soap were the Syrians, several thousand years ago in the city of Aleppo. “The women of Aleppo realized that by adding ground bay leaves to soap, skin infections were reduced considerably; the leaves from the bay plant possess an extraordinary natural antiseptic.” And other soap-making discoveries continued over the centuries.

This book also includes preparation tips and utensil and ingredient guides so you have everything you need to make your own olive oil-based soap. The step-by-step instructions seem easy to follow and include information on therapeutic qualities of the natural soap additives in each particular recipe–additives like essential oils, beeswax, cocoa butter, kaolin clay, seaweed, and goat’s milk. Some of the 40 different soap recipes include Kiwi Soap, Lavender Soap, Marigold Soap, Seaweed Soap, Green Tea Soap, Chocolate Soap, Coconut Soap, Cinnamon Soap, Rosemary Soap…and many more great-sounding versions!


Image from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

I was going to try making the basic Olive Oil Soap recipe. The ingredients are simple and basic enough–mineral water, lye (caustic soda), and extra virgin olive oil. However, I wasn’t able to find lye in any stores near me, so I guess I’ll have to order some from a soap-making supplier (there’s a list at the back of the book). In the meantime, I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe with you! Note: You’ll need safety goggles, a large saucepan, and a kitchen thermometer to make this soap.

OLIVE OIL SOAP from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

  • 7.5 oz. mineral water
  • 3 oz. lye (caustic soda)
  • 1.5 lbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Scent (optional), store-bought or homemade
  1. Wearing gloves and goggles, pour mineral water into a large saucepan. Add lye slowly, stirring gently until it is dissolved.
  2. Using a thermometer, monitor the temperature of the lye mixture until it is between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil to between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  4. Remove olive oil from heat. Add lye mixture to olive oil, stirring slowly and trying not to splash.
  5. Stir occasionally, every 15 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and congeals (it will have a texture similar to that of light mayonnaise).
  6. Stir in scent (if using). Stir for 1 minute with a spoon (or with a whisk, taking care not to create foam).
  7. Pour into a greased or paper-lined soap mold. Gently tap mold to remove any air bubbles.
  8. Cover with a blanket or towel and let stand for 2 days. Uncover and let stand for an additional day if the mold is very large.
  9. Turn soap out of mold. Wait another day, then cut into bars as desired.
  10. Dry bars for 1 month, turning occasionally to ensure they are drying uniformly.
Soap recipe from The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © Reprinted with publisher permission.


This sounds like a great soap for your skin! Homemade soap is a great DIY gift idea, too! Do you use or have you made any olive oil-based soap, or any other kinds of soap?

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things.


Rejuvenating Bath Oil Blend


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 UnknownComplete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness (Robert Rose, softcover). As the book mentions, essential oils are described as the “life force” or “essence” of plants and aromatherapy is a method of using essential oils to protect, heal, and beautify our bodies. Often used in massage, essential oils can be used in many other ways to support your health. They are one of nature’s most potent forms of healing–for everything from arthritis to high blood pressure. And in addition to their therapeutic qualities, they can also be used to create natural personal care and home cleaning products that promote a healthier way of life. All in all, this handbook includes more than 450 remedies and uses for essential oils.

The book begins with a helpful introduction to what essential oils are and different ways you can use them. The other 4 sections of the book include:

  • Part 1: The Oils (detailed properties of 109 essential oils and their uses)
  • Part 2: Remedies (a section filled with recipes for easy-to-make home health remedies using essential oils and other natural ingredients)
  • Part 3: Aromatherapy for Daily Living (a section with recipes for skincare, hair care, and body care; also includes recipes you can use to make natural cleaning products for your home–things like air freshener, furniture polish, glass cleaner, and more).
  • Part 4: Practicalities (information on equipment you’ll need and how to measure and store essential oils)

I thought I’d try one of the body care recipes–the Rejuvenating Bath Oil Blend. It sounded like the perfect way to pamper myself after a busy week. And since the recipe happens to include some of my favorite essential oils, I had all the ingredients on hand to make this! I think it works best for normal to dry skin; my skin is on the dry side, so this oil blend mixed in the bathwater felt wonderful! The scent of this bath oil is very rejuvenating, and after soaking in it for 30 minutes, I also found it very relaxing!

REJUVENATING BATH OIL BLEND from The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook

  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grapeseed or sweet almond oil (I used grapeseed oil)
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil

Fill tub with warm water. Meanwhile, in a small non-reactive bowl, combine grapeseed oil and lavender, rosemary and peppermint essential oils (I used a very small glass jar for mixing my ingredients-see photo above). Stir well. Add to tub and agitate to thoroughly disperse oils, then soak for 30 minutes, massaging any floating droplets of oil into your skin.

This really is a rejuvenating bath and the scent of all these oils blended together is wonderful! Do you use essential oils often?

Linked to Fiesta FridayInspire Me Monday, Wow Me Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Let’s Get Real Friday.


Lemon-Rosemary Exfoliating Cleanser


Here’s a DIY skin cleanser that I made for myself a few months ago and I’ve really liked using it. This easy-to-make scrub is an inexpensive, natural way to exfoliate your skin on both face and body. Baking soda is the main ingredient and I like to add Lemon and Rosemary Essential Oils to give it a great scent. If you are on a tight budget or don’t have any essential oils on hand, you can just use the baking soda and water–it works just as well that way and some of you may even prefer it unscented. Use this 1 to 2 times a week to exfoliate (just once a week for sensitive skin)–your skin will feel so soft and smooth after using this! And exfoliating helps give your skin a healthy glow, so it’s worth it to take the time to do this.


Makes 1 cup (16 [1-Tablespoon] applications for face; 4 [1/4 cup] applications for body)

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 4 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • 2 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
  • water, as directed

In a small bowl, blend baking soda with the Lemon and Rosemary Essential Oils. Place mixture in a glass or plastic jar or container with lid that you can keep near your sink or on a bathroom shelf. If you have an extra Tablespoon-size scoop, keep that in or near the jar–it comes in handy when using the scrub.

FOR FACE: When ready to use, first splash your clean face with warm water to dampen skin. Then scoop out 1 Tablespoon of the baking soda-essential oil mixture from your jar and put in a small container or in the palm of your hand (I just use the palm of my hand). Add about 1/2 Tablespoon water to the baking soda-essential oil mixture and blend with your finger to make a smooth paste. Apply this paste to your face gently and in a circular motion, avoiding eye area. Scrub gently for 2 to 5 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

FOR BODY: Use 1/4 cup baking soda-essential oil mixture for an exfoliating body scrub. Blend 1/4 cup (or 4 Tablespoons) baking soda mixture with 2 Tablespoons water in a small container to make a paste. In your shower, dampen skin, then turn off water in shower as you apply the paste to your body in circular motion and scrub gently for about 5 minutes. When finished, turn shower water on again and rinse paste off completely.

This is a nice way to pamper your skin and it feels so refreshing! Plus it’s so affordable to make! Do you make any of your own skin care products?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy and Show and Share at Coastal Charm.


Autumn Bouquets


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 some autumn bouquets to give to my flower-loving friends.

I love the variety of sizes and colors of these bottles! Each one of them had some sort of food item in them–after the contents were used up, I removed the labels on each bottle so I could reuse them as vases and tied autumn-colored ribbons around them before filling with flowers.


These three glass bottles were all once containers for vanilla, almond, and orange extract.


These two jars originally had jam in them.


Another unique-looking bottle and jar: the small clear bottle in the foreground was from Cracker Barrel (it was a miniature maple syrup bottle–the kind they give you when you order pancakes). The larger brown glass jar in the background is actually a vitamin jar. Who would’ve thought it would make such a great vase?


This vintage-looking soda bottle was from Cracker Barrel, too–they sell a variety of vintage sodas in their country store, and some of them have such great designs, you hate to toss them out!


This bottle is one of my favorites–it has a long neck and a rounded base, so no worries about this tipping over! This originally had some white wine vinegar in it.


And this large bottle had some apple juice in it–I love the detail of the leaves at the top of the bottle–much too pretty to get rid of!

Most of my labels came off pretty easily just by soaking the bottle in hot soapy water–I left the bottles in the water overnight. But sometimes I come across really stubborn labels, and on those, I sometimes use nail polish remover. I’ve also heard that Goo Gone works too, although I haven’t tried that yet. If you use products like these, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area.

Are you a glass jar and bottle-saver too? Using them as vases is one way to upcycle them. Do you have other ways of reusing pretty jars and bottles?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy and Show and Share at Coastal Charm.


DIY Moisturizing Night Cream for Dry Skin


I told myself when I ran out of my last jar of moisturizing night cream, I would try making my own. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I was ready to try this DIY recipe I had found at The Lady Prefers 2 Save. It’s supposed to be similar to Oil of Olay Regenerist Face Cream, and since I have dry skin, that’s exactly what I needed! The original recipe uses Lavender essential oil but I used Tea Tree essential oil instead since it is so good for your skin.

This homemade night cream isn’t quite as smooth and creamy as the night cream you buy and it has an oilier feel to it, but it does feel great on my face at night! It’s definitely best for those of us who have dry skin–it would probably be too heavy of a moisturizer for normal skin. And it’s definitely for nighttime use. I’ve been using it for about a month now and since it’s so easy to make, I plan on continuing to use it. There’s something nice about making your own skin care products–you know exactly what’s in it and all the ingredients are natural and healthy! You do need to keep this night cream refrigerated, so keep that in mind.

DIY MOISTURIZING NIGHT CREAM FOR DRY SKIN adapted from The Lady Prefers 2 Save

Makes enough to fill a small 2 or 3-ounce jar

  • 1/4 cup Aloe Vera Gel (you can use purchased gel or use right from an Aloe Vera plant)
  • 1 Teaspoon Jojoba Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon (or 6 capsules) Vitamin E Oil
  • 3 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil

Stir the Aloe Vera Gel, Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, and Vitamin E Oil together, gently. Add the 3 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil, one at a time, stirring after each drop. Let the cream rest for 10 minutes. Put cream in a small jar (similar in size to a baby food jar), then refrigerate. The cream will last for six months in the refrigerator.

Apply nightly on clean, dry skin, avoiding eyes and mouth; also apply to neck in an upward motion.

Note: Here’s a helpful tip I got from one of my readers, Mary T.–Whip the ingredients with a hand mixer for 10 – 11 minutes on high before storing it in small jars. Whipping the mixture makes it a little lighter in texture.

There are other DIY skin care recipes I want to try–it’s great when you can make your own natural products and save money, too! I still use the Green Tea Toner I posted about a year ago. Have you ever tried making any homemade skin care products?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy and Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner.


7 Anti-Aging Foods

I saw an article at 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 visit for more details!

  1. Berries–They lower your disease risks and also help prevent memory loss. Eat 1 cup of any kind of berries, fresh or frozen, at least 3 times a week.
  2. Salmon–A good source of omega-3 fatty acids, it helps fight heart disease and is also good for your skin. The article recommends having two 3-ounce servings per week.
  3. Nuts–Although they’re high in fat, it’s heart-healthy fat; and nuts are also good sources of protein, magnesium, and B and E vitamins. Eat a 1/4 cup serving of almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pecans up to 5 times per week.
  4. Dark Leafy Greens–Spinach, romaine lettuce, collard greens, kale, and chard are good sources of fiber, vitamins C and K, folic acid and lutein. They also contain lots of vitamin A which helps keep your skin soft and supple. Two servings per day are recommended–and a serving is 1 cup cooked greens or 2 cups raw greens.
  5. Whole Grains–Referred to by Sharecare as a “nutritional powerhouse,” whole grains–like brown rice and quinoa, to name a few–can help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. Try for 3 to 6 servings a day. A serving might be one slice of whole-grain bread, 1/2 cup cooked grains, or 1 cup whole-grain cereal.
  6. Yellow and Orange Vegetables–Think carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and other deep yellow and orange veggies. They can lower your cancer risk and help protect you from colds, infections, and sun damage to your skin. Two 1/2 cup servings a day are recommended.
  7. Yogurt–Plain, low-fat, or nonfat…all are good sources of B vitamins, protein, and calcium. Look for yogurt with active cultures–probiotics–which also help fight against disease-causing germs. Have at least 4 cups a week if yogurt is your main source of dairy.

Hope this is a helpful reminder for you to work these into your diet! I like all the foods on this list, so I just need to remember to eat enough of them each week. Do you eat many of these healthy foods already?

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!)😀

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!





Images courtesy of The 5-Minute Facial Workout: 30 Exercises for a Naturally Beautiful Face by Catherine Pez, 2014 © 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?



Love Bulk Foods and Celebrate Earth Month!


In a little over a week, April will be here already and April is Earth Month (Earth Day is April 22). It’s a great reminder for us to do what we can to care for our environment…we can all do something, whether it’s recycling, composting, reducing waste, using environmental-friendly cleaning products…things that a lot of you probably do already! I’ve been much more conscious myself about recycling and trying to cut down on unnecessary waste these past few years. And a really simple way that anyone can help reduce paper and packaging waste is by buying natural and organic foods from bulk food bins available at various grocery stores, health food stores, and natural food co-ops. I usually buy things like peanut butter, almond butter, and different granolas from the bulk bins, but I’m realizing now that there are many other things I could be buying!

lovebulkbuttonThere’s a non-profit organization, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG), that is dedicated to promoting the environmental and economical benefits of using natural and organic bulk foods. To help celebrate Earth Month this year, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is challenging consumers to “Love Bulk Foods.” And they are offering you the chance to win a prize pack filled with some great products to help you start creating your own pantry of eco-friendly bulk foods. The photo above shows what’s included in the prize pack–a starter kit of popular natural and organic bulk foods that can be found in most bulk bins at natural food co-ops and grocery stores from these brands: SunRidge Farms, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Lundberg Family Farms, and several other bulk brands…organic and natural foods like granola, whole grains, spices, trail mix…lots of yummy and healthy things! You’ll also get two really nice 100% recycled glass storage jars to keep some of your bulk foods in and a handy canvas “Love Bulk” tote to use on your shopping trips!

To enter the drawings for the prize packs: The Bulk is Green Council (BIG) will have a drawing each week in the month of April–you just need to take the pledge to Love Bulk Foods at the BIG website, agreeing to purchase natural and organic bulk foods once a week during Earth Month–and you’ll automatically be entered for the drawings! You can read more about this and take the pledge by clicking here at the Bulk is Green website.

Here’s some helpful information about the benefits of buying natural and organic bulk foods and some shopping tips:


I had no idea so much landfill waste could be prevented by purchasing bulk foods! I know I’m going to make an extra effort to buy what I can in bulk. Earth month in April will be a great reminder for me to do that!

Do you like the idea of buying bulk foods and what kinds of foods do you buy? Do you plan on taking the pledge to “Love Bulk” in April?

I received a complimentary bulk foods prize pack to sample and write about, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own.