Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DIY Canker Sore Relieving Cream

I know this is often said- but this may be my easiest DIY of all time. So easy in fact- there's only one picture.
If you've ever gotten a canker sore then you'll understand how annoying and painful the tiny little beasts can be. Generally I only get them when my immune system is super stressed out. In our tiny office, one co-worker has bronchitis and another has pneumonia. And of course- we constantly have ill patients coming to see us. I'm guessing that's why I woke up with not one, but two canker sores on Saturday. (also I was hosting a bridal shower that morning... but more on that in another post!)
Anyway, they stink and I wanted fast results so I googled natural remedies. I saw this article from EVERYDAY ROOTS  (which looked awesome and you should also read). I didn't really have enough on hand to make one of the recommendations that looked best, but I thought maybe I could combine two ingredients from two different remedies and see how it went.
It went very well! If you've ever used one of store bought pain relieving gels then you will love this. I always appreciate their ability to numb the pain, but the film they leave on top of the sore is nasty, plus I'm leery of what goes into them. This little cream will immediately numb the pain without that gross film! AND it makes your breath fresher in the process :)
All you need is some coconut oil and high grade peppermint oil. Make sure your peppermint essential oil is safe for consumption, such as the one I used from Young Living.
Let your coconut oil warm up so that it's more liquid than solid. Mix one teaspoon of coconut oil with 7-8 drops of essential oil (you can add more if this isn't strong enough). Once it's very well mixed, pour it into your container of choice. I save makeup sample containers for things like this. Lastly put it in the fridge to harden back up. You'll want it to be mostly solid.
Use a clean cotton swab to apply a small amount directly to the sore. It will immediately melt, but don't worry- it's still effective!
In my experience, the relief lasts for a few hours but as you continue to apply the cream you will need it less and less. I applied it every few hours on Sunday, but only needed it twice on Monday. And today- though one sore is still in full swing (the other is gone!), it isn't really painful at all anymore. I'll probably apply it before my next meal. This is miraculous as mine routinely last for 1-2 weeks.
So next time you have a canker sore- give this a try and let me know what you think!
We finally (finnalllyyy) finished our kitchen and I can't wait to show you! The total DIY cost was $600 including furniture, and when you see how the kitchen looks now compared to what it was when we moved in ... yikes! SO look for that soon!
Thanks for reading

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Does it Come in Pink? (Spring beauty worth spending money on)

We are finally (finalllyyyy) moving toward Spring which means evaluating my wardrobe, our home decor and the general palate surrounding me.  Of course, instantly seas of pink in shades of blush and ballet slipper come to mind, but also happier smells and bright cheery colors and flavors and joy abounding! Spring is a promise of renewal and refreshment, and I am so glad it is here.    
 (I really hate winter) 
SO in honor of these sentiments, and because sharing is caring, here are some products worth buying to brighten up your world and help you get into the step of Spring and out of the glum of winter. 
I brought the Mia 2 on sale from Macy's due to outdated packaging (thanks, Christmas!). People had been recommending it for years and the deal was too good to pass up. I'm not sure if it does everything it promised to do- and really am not certain if it's worth spending that much money vs. something cheaper from Target (such as the Olay version), but it's awesome. I've seen a noticeable decrease in my brow wrinkle and it feels like an amazing little massage at the end of the day. If nothing else- that minute of spa greatness in the comfort of my own bathroom is a gift in and of itself. But I really do think it works. My skin feels clean and it allows me to get away from using makeup removing pads which are bad for the environment and the pocketbook. And it's pink.
I was warned by several people that my skin would breakout for the first few weeks of usage, but that wasn't the case at all. Not a single blemish the entire time, so clearly that isn't true for everyone and shouldn't deter you. There are many comprehensive reviews out there about the Clarisonic, and if you're interested in the product, you should google them (specific to your skin) and give it a real look. I don't regret mine at all.
These three shades are my go-to for lips ranging from subtle to serious. The Burt's Bees tinted lip balms will go down in history as my favorite beauty item of all time. They require no mirror and really do feel as light (and not as waxy) as lip balm. I have Red Dahlia, Rose, Sweet Violet and Petunia. At once. Always. And I've gone through SEVERAL tubes of each. Their lip shimmer is also incredible but not as low maintenance. It still feels light, but goes on heavier and more noticeably than the balm. It's much more lipstick like, but doesn't require a mirror. Lastly, these Tarte lipsticks (literally) have major staying power and very vibrant colors. I have Fiery and Lively- and they most definitely live up to their names! Lively is such a powerful hot pink punch- and perfect for Spring! They claim to be moisturizing which has never been the case for me, but they do last and last. Worth the buy- especially if you do any performing (Fiery was purchased for ballet purposes) or have a special event coming up. Lively photographed beautifully in our outdoor wedding session.

Ok, so it isn't super Spring- but this Face N' Earth moisturizer is AMAZINNGGG. I haven't been able to successfully use a moisturizer without breaking out in like 15 years.  Or maybe ever. My skin is extremely sensitive and most of the organic and natural choices contain a slew of ingredients that leave my skin supple but not NOT smooth. However, this glides on like velvet and while it FEELS luxurious- it doesn't make me breakout at all. Not even a little bit. And it makes my skin so happy during drying Michigan winters. If you have dry or combination skin that's picky- this is worth giving a shot. There are no words for how fantastic the texture of this product is. Every time I use it, it's impossible to imagine this could be oil free. But it is- and even if you don't have finicky skin, I'd still recommend it as a wonderfully effective moisturizer and natural product.
While the company is called Avalon Organics, the product isn't completely organic (or even natural, IMO)- but it is much better than most items you'll find on a typical store shelf. And the smell of this face wash is SO orange and citrus-y, it will make waking up a refreshing experience. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be a good idea (clearly), but it smells good enough to eat. This is the wash I use with my Clarisonic and it works well to lather and remove all of my makeup without staining the brush. And again, it smells like an orange grove.
ALEXplusMAE is a new line of jewelry from designer and creator Jessica, named after her adorable twins, that is quickly sweeping Pinterest, Etsy and style bloggers nationwide. People- she is talented. I received two pieces from her in the mail this week (full disclosure- I won one bracelet in a contest and purchased the other) and they are gorgeous, well constructed and made from high quality materials. She recommended the three stone bracelet for me after winning the contest and I LOVE it. Her entire collection is delicate, simple and classic. I have a pair of rose gold druzy earrings on backorder from her and already have another post lined up based on a collaboration she's doing with a wonderful charity. If beautiful, minimalistic jewelry is your thing- Jessica is your designer. Another plus? If you're a woman with an unusual wrist size, Jessica is happy to size based on your measurements. My wrists are small and finding appropriately sized (read: won't slide off) jewelry is basically impossible in store. But Jessica made these perfectly to fit! She also carries an array of earrings and necklaces.
I like food.
While these silicone pancake molds have NOTHING to do with beauty, they totally deserve an honorable mention for practicality and all around quality of life improvement. That praise is too strong, but hear me out. I grew up with a dad who made pancakes every Sunday morning.  Mouth watering, fluffy, perfectly shaped pancakes.
In every way I am his child.
But definitely not that way.
I cannot... can NOT make pancakes. They are thin. They are flavorless. They are boring.
Enter the pancake mold. These were hanging by the cereal in an aisle at Meijer for $1.99 (the linked version is more expensive, but Meijer isn't a nationwide chain) and we snapped them up. I don't even know how it's possible but they changed everything about my standard pancakes and made them not only LOOK uniform and tall, but taste a million times better. We use these every week. Butter the pan, set the mold(s) in, fill 3/4th's full with batter and let them cook for 3 minutes. Remove the mold and flip for another 2.  Done. Delectable. Delicious. You are now a pancake hero.
Ok so now we're ready for Spring! I hope your winter starts to take a turn soon. There are rumors of snow returning in Michigan, but I refuse to believe them. We lived in a sub-zero state for weeks and I will enjoy this forecast of 40's blissfully until said snow returns. Or doesn't.
And I'm hoping for doesn't.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

DIY Spring Wreath Inspiration

It is really flipping cold in Michigan. Negative temperatures abound, and today I have to go out in them in a *LEOTARD* because it's dance day.
Let's all take a moment and say a prayer for a full tank of gas, because if I have to pump with a tights-covered booty in this weather my brain will explode.
Ok, so indulge me. We're doing some early Spring decor in order to make the snow and frigid temperatures seem less real. Plus it's a great reminder that we're almost through the crazy.
kind of.
Also, my front door is so much happier with a wreath! And the Christmas wreaths all had to come down.
In this post there are about a zillion simple wreath layouts. If you've never made one before and feel a little unclear about it at the end of the post, you may want to check out one of my Christmas Wreaths for a little more clarity. But those are clearly wintery and I can barely even bring myself to link them. NO MORE SNOW!
Some simple supplies from Michaels, the wreath was $4.99, "welcome sign" came from their dollar section, the wooden letters are $1.49 and the blooms were $6.99. Everything was on sale,  so in the end I paid less than $15 for all of it.
Remember to bring coupons, and to wait for stems to be half off.
I removed the heads of the blooms from their stem by first cutting through the plastic with scissors and then using a wire cutter on the center. Remove the leaves as well (if you're using them) and band them together with a little floral wire.
This is now my base wreath. Floral wire wraps around the flowers and attaches them to the wreath. Alternatively you can use a glue gun, but I don't think those hold up too well on outdoor projects.

After you have the base done (or before, if you aren't certain about any aspects), start playing with your different components. The pieces in the center were intended to possibly be hung with ribbons or wire, the pieces on the wreath would be hot glued.
I wanted a little shimmer on my wreath, so I added some Tulip Fabric Spray glitter. Originally it was only going on the leaves and flowers, but I ended up doing the entire wreath.
Hurrah glitter!
You can also use regular glitter spray paint. 
Above, I hot glued the "welcome" sign into the top of the wreath. And there's a close up of the shimmer since it doesn't show too well on camera. 
After my wreath was done, I removed the welcome sign to play around with the K instead. In the process I broke the sign, so that was probably a bad idea.
For more uses with a letter, use a small drill bit to add a little hole on the top. Thread it with floral wire (or ribbon) and you can hang your monogram. This works a million times better with symmetrical letters, the K doesn't hang very well.  
 Floral wired into the side of the wreath, resting on it as well.
 Floral wired to the actual wreath holder rather than the wreath. I thought this hid the wiring better.
Floral wired to one of the blooms, but you could actually just glue it in this instance. Though the wire holds up better.
I'm clearly going to have to repair my welcome sign now so that I can put this bad boy back up. Or else, come up with a new scheme! This one is super girly and the flowers were MUCH larger than I intended them to be, so there will be a new (less feminine) wreath in the summer. My poor spouse.
I hope you're having a wonderful finish to your winter! All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Place Mats, Blanket Holders and Kitchen Racks- Oh My!

So... here are a million little things!
I'm almost done with the kitchen (down to counter tops!) and ballet studio (just a few more accents!) and then those will be post-able. When we moved in, I thought everything would be ready in a month- tops. Isn't that cute? Such a little blind optimist.
Anyway- these big projects are consuming all free time, but here are a million little things I've done around the house in the last couple of weeks. Or so.
1. Place mats

Ok, so we needed place mats and for some reason rectangular or square place mats just don't do it for me. I found these super cute striped mats at IKEA for  $1.49 each. And guess what? They're easily cut-able. A giant lid for a hatbox, sharpie and kitchen shears did the job in less than 2 minutes. They have a wide selection of colors, and I thought this could be a fun project to get any shape you'd prefer. Say- hearts for Valentine's Day? Or perhaps just something fun for the little people in your life. You can always use a projector to trace any shape you'd like on to the mat and then cut them, or use a stencil... or some other object around the house like I did.
Along the same lines- I recently realized we didn't have any cake circles to use for my niece's birthday cakes. I had to transport them by car to her party a few hours away and really needed cake circles for the job. Using an upside down cake pan traced on to cardboard (we always keep good cardboard here!) and covered with aluminum foil (because cleanliness!) worked well. Done!

2. Blanket Rack
Ok. I am anti pallet furniture. It's so true. I hate it. But we needed something to hold blankets and blanket ladders are kind of expensive considering how little goes into them. But... we had a free pallet, and it was of the SAFE VARIETY so it was the best option. We sawed it in half (or rather, my super awesome cousin Gabe did!) to get the proper shape first.
Then we knocked off a couple extra boards with a hammer  to make it more ladder-esque. Can you tell that I'm trying to hide my super ugly basement? Michigan in the winter is NOT a good time to do projects like this. You have to do them indoors... and hide your ugly basement. One thing at a time, and the basement is definitely last priority.
And painted it white.
And lastly, glued some rug-stop matting around the rungs because they were really sharp and would chew up our blankets.
I like it- but I'm toying with the idea of using it on our garden instead, so you may see it there in the Spring :)

3. Kitchen Racks
These are also from IKEA. We have three of these racks, and purchased them 5 years ago. They were ridiculously cheap ($15, I think) and so convenient. However, they're all a really standard dark gray which was depressing in our kitchen. I spray painted them a metallic silver (Rustoleum brand) and they look a million times better and happier in the kitchen now! I don't have a before picture because... ew. But trust me. Much better.
I just looked at the website and apparently they don't sell these anymore. So sad! I bet they're lying around in millions of households looking really ugly and dark though. So perk them up!
PS- do you see the little wall plaque? It was a Valentine's Project last year,  and still makes me happy to look at. We do marriage well in our family!
I've been posting little things on my IG account (aunak) and our Facebook page more often than the actual blog due to the content. So make sure to follow along there for more of what's happening on a smaller scale :)
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!