Homemade Lavender and Vanilla Scrub Soap

I recently gave homemade soap making a 2nd try and decided to get a little more bold with it. For my first soap (which you can read about here) I played it a little simple just to get an idea of how the product forms and how everything interacts and blends. I learned that just adding mint leaves did not in any way give the soap the mint smell I wanted, so this time around I got myself some essential oils and went heavy on the scented ingredients.

home made soap ingredients


  • 1/2 container of Stephenson Personal Care Melt & Pour Soap Base chopped up and melted via a microwave in a glass container
  • 1 tablespoon organic coconut oil with 10-12 drops of lavender essential oil (I know that sounds like a lot, but this was for 5 bars so it’s really only 2-3 drops per bar)
  • chopped vanilla bean (I used leftover sticks from my DIY Vanilla Extract)
  • 1 cup sugar

And here’s a few things I learned:

  • I cut up the soap base with a serrated knife this time and microwaves in short increments, whisking lightly between each one. This helped to reduce the amount of bubbles that formed
  • I added the essential oil to the coconut oil, then stirred them into the soap mix together. Sometimes essential oils can irritate the skin, so using them via a “carrier agent” is a big help
  • The vanilla bean is super thick. I sliced it long ways to release the scent, then put it into my electric chopper to do the rest. It stayed a little chunky, but that helps with the scrub part of the soap
  • 1 cup of sugar is hefty, pour it in slowlyyyy and if you want to use just 3/4 cup that would suffice

Instead of using the soap mold I have I used a silicone mini loaf pan instead and it was awesome because it’s bendable and I got nice little rectangle soaps that were really cute:

lavendar and vanilla scrub soap

I LOVE this soap, and I gave out a few bars as mother’s day presents as well. The sugar works great as a scrub, the lavender scent is prominent but not overwhelming, and it lathers up really nicely. The melt & pour soap base makes this process so simple and fun that I if you measured and chopped ahead of time you could get kids in on it and create it together. I tried to use cookie cutters to impress a monogram into the bars, but even after just 30 minutes in the fridge they were already almost solid so I’ll have to try again next time and get to it sooner.

soap scrub recipe

What do you think? Have you tried making your own soap yet? I’m thinking of some fun beach-y summer-y themes for my next batch!


Disclosure: I received the Stephenson’s Personal Care soap base for free but paid for the other ingredients and create the recipe myself. And as always, this is something I’d love doing, and recommend to you, with or without the partnership.


On Life and Growing Up

In a few months I’ll be turning 25 for the 5th time (ok, FINE- I’m turning 29! But I’m not happy about it!) and it leads me to all these random thoughts I keep having, so while this post has literally nothing to do with DIY or home decor I thought I’d share anyway. Because maybe you feel some of this too and you needed to hear it from someone else.

  • There is no real point where I have felt like Ok! NOW I’m an adult! I got my Master’s four years ago, I bought a house three years ago, I got married one year ago and I’ve been working as a professional in higher education for over 7 years.  Problems and situations have gotten more difficult, my thought process has changed, but I generally just feel like I’m playing one giant game of pretend.
  • I have no freaking clue what to wear anymore. My clothes for work are separate from my clothes for going out which are separate from my clothes for hanging around. All I want to do is wear ripped jeans and a beater every day (is beater a Massachusetts thing? An Italian thing? It’s a white ribbed tank top in case you don’t know). I clean up real nice for work but the second I come home that goes out the window. Sometimes I start taking off layers in the car because I can’t wait another minute.
I just want to wear this everyday, minus the beefaroni "blood and guts."

I just want to wear this everyday, minus the beefaroni “blood and guts.”

  • It’s a lot more effort to maintain friendships now, and it’s important to decide who is worth the effort and who isn’t. When you’re younger and in school and before people get married and have kids and/or grow in their profession you are just constantly surrounded by everyone you know. Now, we’ve split ourselves up throughout the state (throughout the country, really), and it’s hard. I’m a natural introvert… which is probably why I blog. It takes a lot to get me to leave my house, but when I do I usually have a great time. I’m not the best friend I could be to a lot of people, but I think about a lot of people all the time.
  • I care not what people think of me. As a female teenager and younger 20-something this seemed so important for so long. Now? Whatever.  This thought continues to refine itself too… it now goes for both friends and family. I have made extremely deliberate choices in my life that left me feeling strong and confident. If you don’t want to fit into that, or you don’t want to at least try to understand it, then I really don’t mind. This is a hard thing to learn. I shed a lot of tears while I learnt it. But now that I have, it’s extremely freeing.


  • I can pretty much do whatever I want all the time. This is another thing that used to plague me, but now frees me. I have spent my whole life fine tuning who I am and what I stand for, and now I’m old enough to be who I am and express what I stand for. That’s a BIG thought. It can be crippling… until you decide to own it. Once you figure out who you are, and start doing what you truly want to do, there’s no reason to be nervous or apprehensive or defensive about it. Unless what you want to do is you know, sell crack. 🙂 I want women to feel empowered and strong, I want animals to be treated kindly and to be protected, I want people to care about what technology is good and what technology is bad.

be realistic


What do you think? What are your big, grown up thoughts? Currently, mine is that hitting “publish” on this post is kind of scary but I’m going to do it any.

High 5 for Friday

 photo H54Fbutton_zps973d26e1.png

Another week all wrapped up- and this one was a doozy. Particularly yesterday. I really needed to reflect on some good things, so here’s my high 5 for the week:

1. Sunday Matt & I took our nephew out for a little bit in the morning and it was so much fun. He’s such an easy, happy kid. We took him to get a haircut, for a little shopping (he said “stores! aisles!”), then to an ice cream place that has some farm animal you can visit (sheeps! goats! dada cow! baby cow!).

uncle and nephew

2. Matt wrapped up his 2nd and 3rd Master’s classes this week and I am so proud of how hard he worked this semester, taking classes while in his first year as a teacher himself. Way to go Matt! xo.

3. I got rid of the chalkboard wall, which I had been dying to do for a while, and hung up so really neat and very “us” art. I’m excited about how my style is growing and expanding.

Can you paint a thermostat? Because I kind of want to.

4. We went to the dairy farm last night and picked up some good, organic local food: free range eggs, grass fed beef, and fresh milk. Now that I’ve had the real stuff, I hate when I have to get these things at the grocery store. The taste difference is amazing.

farm fresh, organic, grassfed beef, local

via my instagram

5. We’ve been listening to a LOT of K-pop lately. A lot. It’s almost unhealthy. But I dare you not to be mesmerized.


How to Get Rid of a Chalkboard Wall

I know many of you are still dying to get on the chalkboard wall train, but I am so excited to have hopped off it. The previous owner of the house put up ours and it was crooked, off center, and just made so. much. dust. For someone with severe allergies, it was just a bad idea.

I hate this wall so much that the most recent photograph I could find of it was from October 2012.  Maybe I should have photographed it before I took it down, but sometimes you just need to take a hammer to a wall RIGHT NOW and can't wait to get your camera first.

I hate this wall so much that the most recent photograph I could find of it was from October 2012. Maybe I should have photographed it before I took it down, but sometimes you just need to take a hammer to a wall RIGHT NOW and can’t wait to get your camera first.

Getting rid of this thing was a beast. First, I used a hammer to rip out the (crooked, unpainted) trim that was installed around it. Next, I patched a zillion nail holes and wall dents (how did they dent the wall? HOW?!) Then I washed it like crazy and let it dry. Once it dried, I went at it with a palm sander. Then a sanding block. Then I washed it again. Then I repeated the wash/palm sander/sanding block routine about 4 more times. Eventually I gave up on getting rid of all the dust so I just sealed it in with a few thick coats of Zinsser primer.

how to get rid of a chalkboard wall

I was actually really impressed with the whole painting process- the chalkboard is black and our front entrance and landing are white so I thought I’d need a zillion coats. Instead, I did 2 coats of primer and two coats of paint (White Truffle by Behr) with just a few touch ups to make things blend easier since I just painted the chalkboard area and not the whole wall all over again.

sorry for such a strange, shadowy picture- it was nighttime and overcast when I got this done.

Sorry for such a strange, shadowy picture- it was nighttime and overcast when I got this done.

The art I hung there was purchased for the living room (it’s an original silkscreen piece by Pippin Frisbie-Calder that I picked up in New Orleans), but the scale was perfect here so I’m on the hunt for something else for the living room. The frame was $10 at the Habitat Restore and needs a fresh coat of black paint to clear up some of the dings, but otherwise it was an amazing find.

Can you paint a thermostat? Because I kind of want to.

Can you paint a thermostat? Because I kind of want to.

You can see a version of the print here, though mine is in different colors. It’s super weird and creepy and I’m very much in love with it. I can just picture my mom coming in and saying “Oh… that’s… different.” I’m also really trying to bring more color into the house, which is pretty much gray and white. But I want  color to just sort of exist here, not pops of color all over the place (yellow blanket! aqua bird! pink pillow! …vomit) so I’m working on learning what that means. In the words of Nate Berkus, “pops of color have popped.” Tips on layering in color are much appreciated!

small entry way

I love how sleek this area looks now and it coordinates really well with the dining room, as well as providing extra storage and a display spot for some sentimental pieces and interesting things.

inexpensive entry way

The art was not cheap, but since everything else was I was able to get it. Save where you can so you can splurge when you’re in love! Also, maybe dust the spots between furniture before you take a picture… whoops.


Like this post? Then you  may like:

how to remove wallpaper - a step by step tutorialDIY sharpie stencil wallhow to paint perfectly crisp lines on your walls

DIY Wood Shim Frame

Three years ago when we moved into this house there was some drywall that needed to be patched in the basement, and for some reason we bought a giant bundle of 3-4ft long wood shims to help with the repair… at the time I didn’t know you could buy neat little packages of 4 inch wood shims. And it’s a good thing too, because I’ve used them for a ton of stuff around the house (like this sunburst mirror).

A few days ago Brave New Home posted about her DIY Faux Pull Down Map and it re-inspired me to get cracking on my long forgotten giant wall map. It had been hanging in the guest room with push pins, but was so heavy it fell down, at which point it got shoved in the back of a closet (for about a year, whoops) until I could think of a plan.

Well- the plan has been thought of and executed:

DIY wood shim frame how to

It’s a little crude, but it works. Basically, I took 4 of my leftover wood shims and cut them down to size (just used a miter block for this since they’re so thin, it took about 10 minutes). Once cut I stained them to match the top of my cloffice desk. Then came the tough part, attaching the map. Here’s some tips:

  • Use painters tape to secure the map how and where you want it, then flip it over slowlyyyyy
  • Check that your staples aren’t too long, and if they are you can try hot glue instead (that’s what Brave New Home used and hers held up fine)
  • Make sure to smooth it out constantly as you’re stapling so it sits tight on the shims

Once I stapled the map to the 4 individual shims, the corners needed a bit more support so I used some teeny, tiny nails to secure wood scraps along the edges and to the top center. The sawtooth hanger on there is from a pack of about 10 that I got for $2 at Michael’s, they’re one of those things I always keep in my hoard.


wood shim frame diy easy


I think it looks great against the gray walls and really helps to warm up the room a bit.

easy DIY frame

The edges butt up against each other almost perfectly but unless you’re really picking it apart you can’t really tell where it’s imperfect. And I kind of like the imperfectness anyways, it looks a little rustic.

DIY framed wall map

Dutch is a big fan. He’s already planning some wordly travels.

DIY large frame

And here’s your pinnable image. 😉


I think I want to do something similar with the “You Can Go Your Own Way” art that’s next to it but um, I sort of spilled the rest of the stain on my sunroom floor and it was a discontinued color soooooo I need to hunt down something close. Whoops.

What do you think? Any questions?

High 5 for Friday: VACATION EDITION

Happy Friday, all! Instead of a round up of the 5 best things from this week, I thought I’d do a quick vacation must-have round up because we just got back from a week in New Orleans.

This was actually our first real vacation, and we’ve been together almost 5 years. WOAH. It was way overdue. We stayed from Sunday-Saturday and did about a zillion things a day.

As far as travel goes, these were my top 5 must haves:

vacation collage must have travel toiletries

  • Comfy age-appropriate tops: Here’s the thing, I could have easily just worn an old t-shirt every day. I have a million of them. But I knew we’d be taking  pictures and, ahem, getting drinks, and I just didn’t want to look like I was 14. So I bought some nice Mossimo sheer tanks at Target that I can also wear to work and it was super worthwhile to feel like a grown up out on vacation and look nice while still being comfortable.
  • Victoria’s Secret Make Up Spray: New Orleans is hot. We were out from about 10am-11pm every  day. I needed me a make up finisher and this was perfect– it’s actually the same one I used on my wedding day and I love it.
  • Colgate Wisps: These little guys are the best for on-the-go tooth brushing, especially at the airport. It really helps to be able to brush your teeth when you’ve been sitting in an airport, eating airport food, during a day of travel.
  • Denizen Cropped Jeans from Target: I am 5ft tall and have never, ever, ever found cropped pants that actually fit.  Until now. These jeans were an awesome fit, had a comfortable stretch to them, and looked great. (Note: they fell about 3 inches lower on me then they do on the model above. Darn short legs!)
  • Something different: I think vacation time is the perfect time to try something out of your comfort zone. You’re in a new place, with new people and you’ve got nothing to worry about. For me, it was red lipstick. I never, ever, ever wear lipstick because it intimidates me so while on vacation I put on a bold red lip every night before we went out. I loved it!


What are your vacation must haves? I’d love to know!

One Year Update: Faux Tile Backsplash

I painted a faux back splash in my kitchen about a year ago and thought I’d give a quick update on it.

After one full year with the back splash here’s where I’m at:

  • It is still one of my absolute favorite projects, and I’m so glad Beth from Sawdust and Embryos posted an awesome faux tile tutorial I fell in faux tile love and copied it immediately.
  • It has held up so well and I didn’t even seal it. My counters go up about 3 inches on the wall which has probably helped with the not sealing, and I also tend to do most of my prep work at the part that juts out from the wall, so if you’re nervous I’d recommend a coat or two of polycrylic (not poly-A-crylic… that one can yellow!).
  • Using colors from the rest of my house was key in making this work and keeping costs down. I’m  a sucker for a yellow kitchen, and the rest of my house has grays and dark blues so it really helps tie things together (we have an open concept floor plan).

To read all about how paint a faux tile back splash, check out the original post. It’s so so easy and anyone can do it.

Here’s the before:

And here it is today, still looking fly:
kitchen-faux-tile-backsplash diy painted backsplash

This project is not difficult, just time consuming. The tape itself took about two-two and a half hours and the painting probably another three. This is not our forever home, so a bigger money kitchen reno (even a few hundred for real tile) was just not worth it… but a weekend paint job totally was! What do you think?

And if you’re in the market for a  couple more budget kitchen projects, here’s 4 more: