Homemade All Natural Soap

As you may have noticed in my oil pulling posts, I struggle with some skin issues- dry skin, psoriasis, and occasional breakouts. So when I got the opportunity to partner up with Stephenson Personal Care, I jumped right on it. Knowing exactly what I’m putting on my skin seemed like a good idea, and making homemade soap? SO FUN. Seriously.

I decided to ease in to DIY soap making to get a feel for it before I get too fancy, so my first soap is pretty straightforward:

stephenson personal care diy soap homemade

 

  • I used this melt and pour base, chosen because it has all sorts of natural & organic ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons of honey, bought at the local dairy farm and from a local town
  • a handful of mint leaves, grown in my garden last summer then frozen
  • soap mold and microwaveable container (something with a spout is particularly helpful

Putting it all together was a lot less intimidating then I thought it was going to be and only took a few minutes:

how to make homemade soap

 

  • I made 4 bars of soap, so I used half a container of Stephenson’s melt and pour
  • Cut the soap base into 1 inch sections using a butter knife (serrated probably would have been easier though)
  • Melt the soap in the microwave for a little over a minute, make sure to cover it in plastic wrap
  • While it’s melting, grab your mint leaves and chop them up- we want them to go right down the drain during use, not clog it up
  • Once the soap is melted pour in your honey and sprinkle in the mint leaves, then GENTLY wisk. We’re aiming for as few bubbles as possible here
  • Pour SLOWLY into the soap base, and if you do have bubble spritz them with some rubbing alcohol, then pop in the fridge to harden

organic soap how to

I wish the mint leaves were fresh so they’d be a nice green color, but you know- it’s April in New England and it snowed earlier this week. Freshly thawed will have to do!

Matt and I are out of town this week (in New Orleans!!) so I thought this would be the perfect thank you gift for the people we lined up to help take care of our pets.

all natural home made soap

I cut out the thank you tag on my Silhouette with some construction paper, then wrapped the soap in saran wrap and tissue paper. Super simple, but a nice touch to let people know they’re appreciated. Henry sure is happy someone’s stopping by to feed him all week :).

home made soap

 

Have any questions? Suggestions? Leave them in the comments!

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Oil Pulling – One Month Review

After my first week of oil pulling I posted a day by day run down, which you can see here. I thought I’d check back in now that it’s been a month to review it again.

Before I get into the review though, it’s important to note 2 other health-related things I’ve been doing as well, because maybe they’re all working together:

  • I have been getting 3 allergy shots a week since January. If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw this picture back in December that basically showed I was severely allergic to all the things.  I’ve been told it’ll take about 6 months before I really notice a difference. My husband thinks he notices a difference already, I’m not so sure myself.
  • In addition to the shots I thought I’d try a more holistic approach too, so I started taking Juice Plus in January. It’s organic, vine ripened fruit that is basically dehydrated then crushed down into a capsule with a little added fiber- more of a booster then a supplement or vitamin I guess. I absolutely have noticed a difference in my energy level and immune system since I started taking it.

oil pulling how to introduction to oil pulling

As far as the oil pulling itself:

  • Swishing for 20 minutes a day is no problem at all. The texture doesn’t bother me at all anymore- I’ve only missed one day in the whole month and I felt strange not doing it.
  • I 100% feel like my teeth and gums are stronger. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but they just feel more grounded in my mouth? That sounds weird, but it’s true. I flossed after not having done so for quite a while (sorry, dentist) and there was no bleeding or swelling.
  • I also feel like my nails are stronger (maybe part oil pulling and part Juice Plus).
  • My complexion is noticeably better– no more breakouts and in addition, the dark spots from old breakouts are starting to go away too. I have maybe had 2 pimples in the past month, which is amazing.
  • It has done nothing for my scalp psoriasis. I even tried rubbing the oil directly on my scalp for a few days because I got desperate. This is kind of a bummer because it’s the result I was hoping for the most.

 

So overall, I absolutely recommend giving it a try. For me it hasn’t been the miracle worker some others have claimed it to be, but there are absolute benefits. Also, I still brush my teeth as normal. I just felt grossed out by the thought of no longer doing that. It’s also recommended that you oil pull in the morning, on an empty stomach, but I don’t have time then so I do it in the 20 minutes before I settle down for bed instead.

My biggest tip: for the love of God, do not sniff that jar you spit the oil out into. Just don’t. You might be tempted to, but trust me. It might be the worst smelling thing in the entire world. (You can’t spit it out down the drain because the oil hardens at temperatures lower then 76*.)

 

Have you tried it yet?

A little more on the Cloffice

A few days ago I posted all about how I turned my guest room closet into a built in office (here), and I wanted to pop back in with a few details on the “stuff” today.

First, I already changed the desktop around a little bit:

built in desktop floating desktop

The painting was done by my Nana and I hadn’t found a spot for it in this house, but I love how the orange in the tree looks with the teal bulletin board. So I lose some work space, but I don’t think I mind because the layered cozy feel is really something I was going for and it felt a little stark without it.

floating desktop

The bulletin board was sprayed with a few light coats of Rustoleum paint. The color is “Jade,” and it’s actually a can from 1998 that my Nonna gave me when she cleaned out her basement. I can’t believe it still worked! I let it cure for about 48 hours, but it’s been fine. The color seems similar to Behr’s Mermaid Song, if you’re looking for a match.

The canister set is Liberty of London for Target and used to live on my kitchen counter as a command center, but the center is no longer needed since I’ve got this space now. The wood slice under it is just from Michael’s and I added a little felt on the bottom so it wouldn’t scratch. I sprayed it with a clear sealing coat so it wouldn’t flake.

quote wall

I wish I had added a little curve to the quote so it wouldn’t look as harsh, but it’s too late now. I made the stencil for the quote on my Silhouette, cut it out on while vinyl, painted a thin coat of white paint over it, then a thin coat of black paint, then a thin coat of gold craft paint. The black shows through in some spots and darkens the gold in others so it looks really multi-dimensional, which is kind of neat.

built in desk Under the desk my Silhouette is stored on an old shoe rack, and some other supplies are in a rolling cart I got on Amazon. The cart is AWFUL and I literally had to attach the shelves with embroidery floss because there were no other parts and no instructions. Ugh. That’s my lesson to listen to the reviews.

 

So what do you think?

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Stay in touch in between posts!

How to Turn your Closet into an Office

I am super excited about today’s post.  I recently gave the guest room a bit of a facelift with some paint and art. My next step was to turn the office into a built in workspace… on a budget of $0. :: Challenge Accepted ::

Here’s the before:

closet to built in office

 

And the glorious after:

DIY closet office

And here’s a little instagram recap of how it all went down:

how to make a built in desk

This project was actually much easier then I expected it to be, and I am very serious when I say if you have the right tools literally anyone can do this. I used a power drill, jigsaw, and palm sander and didn’t have any problems. And it is a one person job if you want or need it to be. In more detail:

  • Remove the closet doors, the track, and the clothes rack. This took about 15 minutes, and I used a power drill on the track because the screws were really in there.
  • The doors I had were only sort of hollow, they had what look like 2×2’s running in a zig zag in them so they were pretty sturdy. Using my jigsaw I cut one door down into cleats and the other into the length of the desk. I was lucky that even though the front of the doors had been painted white, the backside was still stained wood.
  • The stain color that was already on the doors was extremely orange-y and had a few old paint marks on it, so I used my palm sander and 60 grit paper to dull it up. Then with a sanding block, I used 100 grit then 120 grit paper. I didn’t get it down to completely raw wood, but it turned out fine.
  • I used a “stain and finish” on the door that became the desktop, in two thin coats, then let it dry for 24 hours. While drying, I installed the cleats. To figure out the height of the cleats I just measured the height of my husband’s desk, then mimicked it. I used wood glue on the cleats, then a power drill and wood screws to secure them to studs in the wall. One long cleat along the back wall, then smaller ones on the side. I would have done long ones on the side of the wall too, but there was only one stud on each side.
  • I painted the wall with 1 coat of primer to seal in all the discoloration, then 1 coat of Sherwin Williams paint + primer (non tinted, just pure white)
  • Using a rubber mallet, I tapped the desktop into place. It left a few small marks on the walls, but nothing big and easily touched up. Then, for a more finished look, I caulked all the cleats (for the top shelf that was already there and the desktop)

Whew! That’s a lot of words. Here’s some glamor shots:

multi purpose room

desktop left

That cat picture is a card from one of my friends. On the front it says “Taco knows how long it’s been since you washed that bra you’re wearing” and on the inside it says “You disgust Taco.” 🙂 don't quit your daydream

The quote on is one I first read at The Lettered Cottage and just felt it was perfect so I stenciled it directly on the wall.

built in desk

The bulletin board is spray painted and you can read about the chair redo here.

desktop

 

This desktop makes me infinitely happy. All the plugs/cords/electronic accessories are stored in those cute Liberty of London for Target canisters.

DIY closet turned office

The top shelf is where all the pictures and books from the bookcase are now, and the bookcase is no longer in the room (which free up A LOT of space, because this is not a big room).

DIY closet office

 

Come back Friday for some extra info on how I graffiti’d that quote on the wall & painted the bulletin board, as well as a source list on everything else!!

 

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Be sure to follow along in between posts!

Bathroom Vanity Organization

I posted about our bathroom upgrade already (how I painted the tile and made a geometric wall pattern), but I thought I’d do a quick post about the vanity organization today.

My vanity has always been a place where old, saved makeup goes to die. When we upgraded to one with more storage I didn’t want to just fill it up with more stuff so I spent about $20 on organizers– everything from dollar store desk supplies to kitchen containers, to I don’t even know what it was but it was $5 at the Habitat Restore. Let’s get into it.

bathroom organization

For the top draw I decided that any makeup I hadn’t worn in a week could either be thrown out or live in the towel closet (“special occasion” make up, you know- like waterproof mascara and colored eye color since I usually stick to beige). I spent a whopping $3 on this drawer: the circle containers came bundled and the rectangle ones were sold separately (all at a dollar store):

vanity organizer, bathroom organized

 

The bottom draw of our vanity actually has a trick toe kick that pulls out as part of the draw so it’s really deep and offered a lot of space for all my hair stuff, of which I have far more then makeup because New England weather requires different supplies with each season:

unlabeled- bottom draw.jpg.jpg

 

The wooden divider ($5!) holds travel sized toiletries: hand cream, conditioner, soap, body wash. You can see it also holds nail polish and my makeup cleaner. What, you don’t take all the toiletries from your hotel rooms and save them just in case?….

In front is my Juice Plus (you can learn about it here), blow dryer, hair sprays (one for each straight hair days, wavy hair days, up in a ponytail hair days).

Then to the right I have 3 containers from the kitchen section at Marshalls (about $12 total). One is for straighteners and curlers, one for brushes, and one for miscellaneous sprays/gels/etc.)

So the moral of the story– look at things not for what their labeled use is, but for how it can help you overall. Those tin desk organizers are AWESOME at all sorts of things, and the long skinny kitchen containers are the perfect size for all things hair.

How to do you keep your beauty supplies organized?

High 5 for Friday

Man, I have posted one of these in a while but thought I’d hop back on it today (you can read more about them here @ The Lauren Elizabeth).

 

Here’s my top 5 highlights from the week:

1. I got assigned 3 classes to teach throughout summer & fall which I’m super excited about. I love teaching! I have a full time day job as an advisor at the college, but teach adjunct  whenever I can.

work tips batman job comic

2. We’re going car shopping for Matt this afternoon… and we are going to pay in cash. Holler. NOT GETTING ANOTHER LOAN. It feels good to be able to do that, and I want to do that more often please.

made by me!

made by me!

3. Vacation is only a few weeks away. NOLA HERE WE COME! Can’t wait to spend a week away, see some family, and basically have an awesome time. Matt & I have never really taken a vacation together before and we’ve been together almost 5 years, it’s always been for an event or a group trip, so this is a pretty huge deal. We bought tickets to see the house band at Preservation Hall this week.

new orleans

via

4. I’m only working until noon today because I had night presentations Monday and yesterday. WOOT WOO. I’m excited for a sunroof open/loud Rob Zombie ride home. Loud music and an open sunroof make me very happy.

5. The weather is finally starting to warm up and I was able to dump some leaves and do a little yard clearing this week. Looks like lots of my plants are coming back in!

3 Easy Pasta Recipes

I’m all about pasta recipes. I could eat it literally every single night- and pretty much used to until I moved in with Matt and he made me eat other things. Here’s a few so easy anyone can make them!

easy pasta recipes 3 three easy

One quick go-to of mine is Breadcrumb Spaghetti, because I always have the ingredients on hand. You can see the full recipe here. I posted it 2 years ago and it’s still something I make regularly.

easy pasta recipe breadcrumb spaghetti

 

Last night at the allergist’s office the Pioneer Woman’s show was playing and the recipe was so delish I had to go home and try it myself… good thing they make you sit for 30  minutes so I had time to see the whole thing! Her recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Pasta is here.

My version of her recipe, recreated for 2 people:

  • While your pasta water is boiling, chop up 3 cloves garlic and put them in the blender with a medium jar of roasted red peppers
  • Put the blended mix in a lightly oiled skillet (I use extra virgin olive oil) and add in Adobo, basil, and parsley to taste. I used about 4 leaves of dried basil and 3 sprigs of parsley (which I had frozen from my garden last summer)
  • Add half cup chicken stock, half cup whole milk, and 1/4 cup Parmesan to the skillet
  • Bring it to a low boil while your pasta cooks, and once it is cooked and drained put it in the skillet with the sauce for a few minutes to stew/absorb
  • ENJOY! BECAUSE IT IS DELICIOUS! My sauce came out a little watery, so if you prefer a thicker sauce I recommend cutting the chicken stock in half.

Tip: To measure out pasta amounts I put our serving sized (uncooked) on our plates, taking into account pasta swells when cooked, and then just dump that into the pot. 🙂

 

We also recently tested out Chickpea Lemon Pasta after I saw it on Living Well on the Cheap and it was also really light and easy. The original recipe is here

 

Here’s my version:

  • Salt your water and bring it to a boil. Separately, melt about 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add about half a cup of breadcrumbs to brown, once browned put in your (large) serving pot.
  • Now that the skillet is empty, add in a little extra virgin olive oil and 2-3 chopped cloves of garlic. Let cook for about 2 minutes then add in a can of chickpeas (do not drain). Bring this to a low boil while adding in lemon, salt, and pepper to taste. I used about 2 tablespoons of lemon and thought that was a bit much.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add to your large serving pot. Add your chickpea sauce and stir, then add Parmesan or mozzarella to taste.

 

What do you do to spruce up your pasta?