Amigas

Francis & Sammy

Last weekend one of my greatest friends came to visit me from up north. It was her birthday weekend. We didn’t go out on the town or have a big party, but rather we visited the beach and spent our days catching up. We reminisced on days gone by, and planned for the days to come. I’ve known her since the 3rd grade, and we’ve been through a lot together. From childhood fights to high school skits. From a period of time when we lost touch to reconnecting and building a true and lasting friendship. We’ve laughed together, and yes, we’ve cried. But on this day, we discussed the hopes and fears of turning a year older; future vacations we will take together; and how far we’ve come. Getting older can be daunting, but I’m glad I have someone I can share my journey with. I am truly blessed.Clouds

Sunset

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It’s in the Bag!

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I love giving gifts… but what I love more is gift WRAPPING! Is it just me? And I don’t just wrap the gift with colorful wrapping paper and call it a day. Oh no. Wrapping a gift is an arts and crafts project that usually takes me a few hours. I know! It’s crazy. But I love it.

The one thing I don’t like about gift giving are gift BAGS. Yes, gift bags have come a long way, but I feel like I didn’t put any effort in the presentation of my gift when I use a gift bag. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many occasions when I’ve used gift bags. Mostly, I use gift bags when I purchase a gift with awkward packaging, ie. not a box.

I recently went to a baby shower and the gift I got came in that awkward, plastic packaging that is impossible to open. So, a gift bag seemed appropriate. However, I had major plans for this gift bag.

I began with this tutorial from The Elli Blog. You can find the complete how-to guide and template here. Below is a summary of how I did it.

IMG_0330I used a glue stick instead of a glue gun because I wanted to make sure this project was kid friendly. After I printed out the template, I cut out all my petals.

IMG_0333I cut slits into the large and small black circles, then curled them up.

IMG_0335Glue the little circle inside the large one. Cut two slits on the end of all the petals and curl the edges.

IMG_0336Glue 3 petals together to create a cup. Then glue the last four petals in the same way to create a slightly larger cup.

IMG_0337Glue the smaller cup inside the larger one, then glue in your circles in the middle.

IMG_0347I glued all my flowers onto my bag and added a few leaves I cut out.

IMG_0348I think with practice I can get these flowers to look really great, but for now, this will do. What are your thought on wrapping and gift giving?

5 Step Skin Care Routine: Step Five – Sun Protection

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Sun protection should go hand in hand with moisturizing. Most mosturizers already have some level of sun protection. However, relying on these moisturizers on days when our sun exposure will be high is not enough. The sun’s rays will make our skin thicker, darker, dryer, and more prone to irritation. It can even affect our immune system. However, we don’t want to avoid the sun completely. The sun is our major source for vitamin D. Lack of vitamin D may influence in the development of autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowl disease, type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis (Heller et al. 2007). A light tan will maintain healthy levels of vitamin D.

Sunscreens help protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Mineral sunscreens, such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide are the best way to naturally protect our skin from the sun. Use them alone or add them to your moisturizer. The only down side of these minerals is that they leave a white film on your skin…. not pretty.

So remember, get some sun, it’s good for you, but  remember to protect your skin. Use a product with a minimum of 30 SPF.

5 Step Skin Care Routine: Step Four – Moisturizer

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I find it surprising how many people don’t use a daily moisturizer. I’ve heard a lot of excuses, but the most common is “I have oily skin”. Moisturizing is so important, not only because it moisturizes, nourishes, and hydrates the skin, but also because it balances the natural oils the skin produces.

Having dry skin simply means that your skin isn’t producing enough sebum to keep the surface moist. This produces dry, itchy, tight skin. Everyone has dry skin at some point. Whether it’s because you have naturally dry skin, harsh detergents in our soaps, or simply because it’s cold outside, dry skin is very common. Moisturizers help supplement the moisture the skin lacks.

Oily skin, on the other hand, produces too much sebum, which makes our skin look and feel greasy. Having oily skin may also make us more prone to acne. However, not using moisturizer is the worst thing you can do when you have oily skin. Usually we try to dry out our oily skin with harsh soaps and skip the moisturizers. This causes our skin to produce an over abundance of oil to relieve the dryness. And then again, we dry out our skin and skip the moisturizer… It becomes a vicious cycle. STOP! Applying moisturizer will tell your oily skin that the skin is already moisturized and there is no need to produce more oil. If you’ve been spinning on the vicious cycle for a while, it may take some time to get your skin balanced again. Be sure to use light, natural moisturizers which can be absorbed easily by the skin. Or, you may add water to the moisturizer you already have to lighten it up. You don’t want to use a heavy hand with your moisturizer on your oily skin… a little is all you need.

So lets keep our skin balanced and looking great. By moisturizing everyday, day and night, you will accomplish this… Your skin will thank you for it!

Green Tea Toner

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When it comes to making home-made toner, I keep it very simple. Just a few ingredients is all you need for a really good toner. I don’t usually like alcohol in my toners because it dries out my skin too much, but when I do use alcohol, I use a grain alcohol like vodka or sake. Summer time is a great time to use a bit of alcohol in toners because skin tends to be more oily during the warmer summer months.

However, for every day toning, I like to use green tea. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. These keep our skin looking young and blemish free. Adding a little bit of fresh lemon juice will also help get rid of blemishes, as lemon juice is a natural antiseptic. Lemons also contain vitamins C and B. Using it in your toners will give your skin a healthy glow.

Try this simple toner:

1 organic green tea packet
1 cup hot water
Juice of half a lemon
Essential oil of choice
 

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Steep the tea bag in boiling hot water. Add the lemon juice. Wait until the mixture is completely cooled and pour the mixture in a spray bottle. Add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil to add fragrance. I used lavender. To use, after cleansing, saturate a cotton ball with the toner and swipe it all over your face.

Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

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5 Step Skin Care Routine: Step Three – Toners

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Many people skip toning altogether, they don’t really think it’s a necessary part of cleansing. But toners are designed to remove the last traces of dirt, cleanser residue, and surface skin cells from the skin. It is the last defense. A good, natural toner will moisturize, prevent acne, fade dark spots, and refresh and sooth the skin. Many men use toners as an aftershave.

Many toners on the market today claim to shrink pores. However, our skin is a very complex organ, one that is not easily modified, especially by a simple toner. Pore size is hereditary, and therefore, cannot be made smaller or larger by a toner.

There is nothing complicated about toning, it is a very simple and quick step, only taking a few seconds. Just soak a cotton ball with the toner of your choice and swipe it all over your face… You’ll be glad you did.

I’ll show you how to make a home-made toner on my next post. Stay tuned!

Avocado Mask

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Masks are easy to make. You can use fruit, vegetables, eggs, yogurt, mayo… the list goes on and on. I love mixing natural clay masks with oils and flower waters to amp up the clay. Clays or “mud masks” can be used on your entire body, even your hair. As it dries, it draws out oils, dirt, and dead skin cells, leaving the skin soft and smooth. You can purchase natural clays at a natural food store or pharmacy.

When I don’t have any clay available, I love mixing up a simple avocado mask. Avocados are rich in oils which makes them excellent moisturizers. They’re also rich in vitamins A and B, and they contain more protein than any other fruit. Honey is an antibacterial, which helps sooth and heal blemishes. It’s also one of the best humectants, which holds in moisture. Finally, vitamin E is an antioxidant, which keeps the wrinkles away.

1/2 ripe avocado
1 tsp honey
1 tsp vitamin E oil
 

Mash the avocado. Mix in the honey, and vitamin E oil until smooth and creamy. If you find that it’s not as smooth as you would like it to be, due to a very large avocado, add some avocado oil, one teaspoon at a time, until you achieve the right consistency. Apply the mask to your face and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

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If you run out of your favorite mask try mixing up a batch of this nourishing avocado mask and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Sugar Scrub

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I prefer using sugar or almond scrubs on my face rather than salt scrubs. Salt scrubs tend to be more drying and harsher on my skin. But remember, whatever you choose to make your scrub, make sure it’s mild and doesn’t irritate your skin.

I use my Homemade Facial Scrub on a regular basis. It is my favorite. You can find the recipe here. However, I’ve been trying a new scrub and I think I’m starting to love it just the same.

1 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup sweet almond oil
1 tsp. vitamin E
1 tsp. vanilla extract
 

I love using organic brown sugar in my scrubs, and adding vanilla gives this scrub a sweet scent. Almond oil is an excellent moisturizer and it has a high content in fatty acids, which mimics our skin’s sebum. Finally, vitamin E is an antioxidant. It nourishes the skin and helps heal wounds.

Apply the scrub to a clean face using circular motion. Be gentle and avoid the eye area. Rinse well with warm water and pat dry. Remember, do not use a scrub if you have acne, any irritation, or a sunburn.

Give this scrub a try to and let me know if you love it as much as I do. Enjoy!

5 Step Skin Care Routine: Step Two – Exfoliation and Masks

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Exfoliation & masks is step two in our 5 step skin care routine. Even though we should only do this step once a week, it’s a very important and powerful step.

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Since our skin cells are constantly regenerating, dead skin cells sometimes build up on our face and body, causing our pores to clog. Exfoliators are mild abrasives that help remove the layer of dead skin cells, allowing the new skin cells underneath to benefit from the moisturizers and masks you apply. Sugar, salt, finely ground nuts, and grains can all be used as natural exfoliators. You should always use a gentle touch when exfoliating, it should never feel painful. If you have any acne, inflammation, or a sunburn, you should never use an abrasive scrub on your skin. This will irritate your blemishes, cause more breakouts and bruising. You also want to avoid the delicate eye area. Before purchasing a scrub, test it by squeezing a small amount of it and rub it into your hand with light pressure. Is it too rough? Remember, this is going on your face. A body scrub can be a little more abrasive, but again, you don’t what to irritate your skin.

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There are many different types of masks. Clay is the most common. Masks are great not only because they remove the dirt and grime that’s deeply embedded in our skin, but also because they sit on your freshly exfoliated skin and infuse your skin with vitamins, minerals, and moisture. You can make masks from almost anything… fruits and veggies, honey, eggs, oatmeal, even yogurt. Your skin will soak in all the good stuff these ingredients have to offer. Masks usually sit on your face for 10-15 minutes, then are removed with a warm wet cloth.

I’ll introduce you to my favorite homemade scrubs and masks in my next few posts. What are your favorite DIY scrubs and masks?

Olive Cleansing Oil

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Olive Cleansing Oil

There are several all natural/organic cleansing oils on the market today. Trevarno, and Laventine are recommended brands. However, cleansing oils are easy to make and use. Use this simple recipe as your Step One in your five step cleansing routine.

2 oz Organic extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp vitamin E oil
1 drop chamomile essential oil
 

Combine all the ingredients in a pump or dropper bottle. Mix well. If you have blemishes or acne, you may substitute the chamomile essential oil with tea tree or geranium essential oil. Use this oil as described in Step One.

I’d like to hear your feed back on this DIY oil cleanser. Let me know how you like it or if you have your own recipe… I’d love to try it. Enjoy!