Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DIY C.O. Bigelow Inspired Rose Water Tonic

I've been meaning to write this very simple tutorial for...evvv...errrr (Sandlot, anyone?). Probably a year or two.
I used to love this stuff when I was a teenager. I loved C.O. Bigelow in general and it inspired many a trip to Bath and Body Works (especially during sales!). Their peppermint infused lip gloss made a gobby, sticky mess out of me... but I reached for those tubes *every time*.
Anyway, a quick glance at the ingredient list inspired two thoughts, a) ew... I don't love that being on my skin and b) I could totally make this.
Based on those two reactions, this recipe is altered a bit to include some more friendly ingredients and leave out the harmful ones. That being said, you'll need to keep it refrigerated and make small batches, I don't know how long it will last. Probably not more than a few weeks.
Start off with rose water. This is a very simple way of doing it, and there are more detailed versions on the internet. If you're committed to purity, google a version for distilled rose water and then come back when you've got your rose water. If you're looking for a the fast route, read on!
 Start with some roses! My cousin gave me these GORGEOUS roses for my birthday last weekend. I absolutely loved them, and once they were bloomed and starting to wilt, I wanted them to live on as rose water. These were a little too bloomed, you probably want the roses to be more fresh, they're more fragrant then. Also, if you can use wild (read: chemical free) roses, that is much better. If you have a friend or family member with a rose bush, perfect!
 Remove the petals from the stems.
 Rinse the petals under cool water to remove any chemicals, dirt, buggies... whatever.
 Crush up the petals, I used a combo of hand torture and a potato smasher to do the job. You need them to be bruised up and damaged to release their goodness.
Add just enough water to barely cover the petals, you don't want to dilute the rose water.
 Simmer the petals just until they lose their color, not any longer.
Strain out the petals and place in the jar (or spray bottle!) of your choice.
Once the rose water is done, the rest is super easy. Add in 1 tablespoon of high quality witch hazel for each 1/2 cup of rose water produced.
5 drops of chamomile essential oil for each 1/2 cup will keep this recipe close to the original, which also includes chamomile. To round it out, remove the added perfume in the original which does nothing for the skin and add in some great essential oils instead. They will add lovely scent and provide other benefits. I recommend a few drops of lemon + grapefruit if you have oily skin. To punch up the rose scent, you can add rose oil. All skin types generally benefit from rose hip oil, too. A few drops per 1/2 cup is sufficient, but you're welcome to add more as long as it doesn't irritate your skin. Remember to always use high grade essential oil, too!
That's it! To use, apply with a cotton ball or pad. Remember again to store it in the fridge and discard after a few weeks.
I've been field testing some different ways to wash hair naturally without store bought shampoo OR baking soda. I used to be a big fan of washing hair with baking soda, but I'm reading that it's a bad idea long term. If you're interested or have any suggestions- let me know!
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Very Gatsby Anniversary Party

My parents celebrated 35 years of wedded bliss yesterday.
Their marriage and life have both been an inspiration to many. Marriage isn't easy, and as more and more end in divorce, it's astonishing and exciting to see couples that really do last for the long haul. It's even more admirable when the couple is still in love.
That is without a doubt the case for my parents. They honestly adore each other and if they had to, they would marry each other all over again. My dad wrote this to my mom yesterday...
"35 years ago, two kids (and I mean kids) affirmed their love for God and each other and set off to conquer the world, together. Well, the world is still as crazy and more so, but these two altered their world forever (she rocks mine), building a life that most only dream about. Sure there were scrapes and scratches. Any piece of art, any fine sculpture, gets many rough edges chiseled off, while the creator does his work. The end result is timeless. It endures, as has this union. Along the way, we've added kids and grandkids that anyone would be proud to call their own. I love you, Vicky and always will... And our world continues to turn.... stay tuned."
So sweet, right? 
Anyway- in celebration of their marriage, my parents had a roaring 20's anniversary party! As usual, my mom basically made and did everything herself, and so I wanted to share the DIYness with you!
But first, let's start with what I did. 
These shoes used to be forest green, but I didn't want to buy another pair of t-straps when these were already laying around and I NEVER wear them. They were leather, so the idea of spray painting them was very distressing- but it totally worked! 2 coats of outdoor metallic gold spray paint later- they were party ready. 
 My mom also asked me to make a couple of signs for her (house rules + photo booth). I designed the house rules sign and had it printed at Staples (6.99 for an 11 x 17). I wish we had gone larger, but with the schematics, we couldn't. Next, I bought some black foam core from Hobby Lobby and cut it in half.
Using mod podge, I coated the edges and then covered them in fine gunmetal glitter (also Hobby Lobby).
After the glitter dried, I used 3M spray on the backs of the posters and then stuck them to the glittered foam core. 
I also did a few props for the photo booth. My mom bought a circus set of props on clearance, but some of them didn't fit the theme. The ones that didn't work were re purposed! I traced out bow tie and cupid's bow lip shapes on to the backs and cut out the shapes. Next I mod podged glitter on and allowed it to dry. Afterwards I used 3M spray on the fine glitter (bow ties) and another coat of mod podge on the thick glitter (lips) to seal it on. Otherwise it wouldn't last the night of abuse from a photo booth! Lastly, I reattached them to the old sticks with hot glue. You can also make these from scratch with wood skewers and card stock. 
 I really didn't want to spend money on a new dress, and I had this one from my bachelorette party. It was too short for the time period, so I just added a little fringe to the bottom.
Finding a shade of pink to match would have been WAY too difficult, so I went with a nice gold that would tie my shoes in as well. Simply pin the fringe to the hem of your dress and either stitch it or hot glue in place. You can add fringe to the bottom of basically any loose or drop waist dress and make it more 20's inspired. My aunt went to Salvation Army and found a dress there, added fringe and had basically the same effect as mine!
For the rest of my costume, I hot glued a hair clip on to the back of a broken bow broach my mom found. I used used the pearls from my DOWNTON ABBEY post a while back, and some other pearls as well.
Men's fashion hasn't changed much, so for John we simply used a summer suit, bow tie and suspenders. Easy.
Makeup-wise, they wore a LOT of it then, but I couldn't bring myself to have a strong smokey eye, bright cheeks AND dark red cupid's bow lips. I went with just a really dark eye and bright cheeks paired with a raspberry lip balm. 
On to the party! We started with a nice, empty space and went to town. My mom had three card tables set up with period correct card games. She also rented 2 pool tables and bought a third pool table that was child sized for the kids. There was a silent movie set up on a giant theatre screen (which we ended up not playing) and a photo booth. I didn't get everything pictured, but it was there!
My dad is a radio guy, so he used this equipment from the 1920's . It couldn't actually provide enough sound for the space, so there's a bose system underneath playing the top 100 hits from the 20's. 
Even though it was THEIR party, they were the ones giving out the gifts! On the gift table, my mom placed a box of chocolate cigars. She made these herself with a chocolate mould and then covered them in dark foil. I believe she printed out the cigar labels and then cut them out and glued them on.
The gift bags contained candies and items from the era as well as bookmarks that you can insert photo booth pictures into. 
She had lots of the dancing silhouettes all over the room too. There was one very art deco silhouette with missing faces for guests to pose with as well. 
She brought her own props for the photo booth as well. Lots of props on sticks as well as boas, hats, masks, faux fur shawls (which she made herself), stoles and more!
She set up this little tribute to her own grandmother (who was an actual flapper!) which I found really sweet. Actual mirror, hand mirror + brush from the 20's, my great grandma's handkerchief, cloche hat, watch, perfume... all of it. And of course, a picture of the lady herself adorns it. 
The guests were awesome and totally got into the theme! Nearly everyone chose to wear a costume, and they seemed to love the chance to dress up. In the above picture, my cousin Ruby is eating a chocolate mustache. I forgot to mention that my mom made those. She also shaped a cookie cutter into a saxophone for sax cookies! There were cookies with edible images of flappers on them as well. Oh! And a bartender who mixed 5 family friendly drinks from the era. Some of them were really, really delicious! 
The happy couple! Congratulations, Mom & Dad! I pray you get *at least* another 35 beautiful years together. Thank you for your endless support, love, pride, advice, help and example. I love you to pieces and am so thankful you found each other. 
Ps- my mom made her own head piece too. It's incredible. I may do another follow up post with specific details about other things, but this is enough for now! All the best, and as always, thanks for reading! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Knotted Back Sweater Refashion

I have a sickness. An illness. An obsession.
Ballet clothes.
In fact, I build my ballet wardrobe the way most women build their work wardrobes. Whether DIY'd or purchased, I love adding to my stash of practice attire.
So even though I had recently purchased a new sweater for ballet (so cute, with thumb holes!), when the idea of changing this one up to use in class came, it had to be done immediately.
However- it isn't just for class! Paired with a high waisted pencil skirt, or over a bikini, this is fantastic option.
It started as a sweater purchased second hand from an online ad. I didn't get to try it on before buying and afterwards it fit awfully.
It was a high-low sweater and just ... way too high and way too low!
Here it is pre-refashion. If you don't have a hi-lo (high-low?), that's fine. It will work with a regular sweater too. OR you could cut your sweater into the proper shape, just be sure to turn the edges in and hem them. Remember that it will be tighter where the knot is than it was before.
Lay your sweater on the ground and cut a slit up the backside. You can choose how deep you'd like it to go by trying it on first and marking the spot on your back. In hindsight, I should have made my cut much deeper.
Next you should hem. You can choose to turn your edges in for a cleaner look or leave them raw like I did. I don't think you can see the stitch, but it's merely a tight straight stitch starting at the bottom of one edge, going up, around and down to the other edge. Remember to backstitch at the start and finish!
Lastly, knot! I chose to leave a little keyhole shape, so I tied the knot toward the bottom and haven't any hanging bow. You can knot it at the top instead and have more edges. The deeper the cut, the longer the ends will be.  So easy, right?
Voila! The perfect hip-exposing sweater for class... also great with high waisted pencil skirts and as a beach cover up :) Excuse the messy bun...  as you can see from the header pic, we were literally on our way to the studio when taking these pictures!
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

DIY Customized Celtic Knot Headband

It has become somewhat of a habit for me to make the hairpieces that accompany our costumes in ballet.
This year our costume came with an especially unappealing scrunchie.
Yes- you read that right.... a scrunchie.
I thought those died out with the 90's?
I have a serious dislike for scrunchies that dates back to middle school when I was given a scrutinizing look for having one on my wrist and asked, "umm... why is your scrunchie brown when your outfit is pink?"
That was the last time I used one.
SO I was super relieved when the word was given to make something else! Originally we were going to do lace crowns, but one of the girls suggested something based on one of the headpieces worn by an olympic ice skater.  The piece was way too complicated for me, but the idea could be used. I subbed in a celtic knot because our song has Irish roots and here we are! They were super easy to make, can be color customized and cost about $1.00- $1.50 each.
First I picked up some ribbon from Hobby Lobby. The spool was $1.99 for 15 feet, but you can get it on sale. I followed the instructions to make a celtic knot from THIS SITE (thanks to INSPIRATION & REALISATION for sharing the link!). It was easy to understand, but I recommend using a pin to hold the end of the ribbon rope in place. I used 3.5 feet of length for these knots.
Next, I bought some elastic from the sewing section (also from Hobby Lobby- $1.29 for 3 yards) and cut lengths that measured the circumference of my head. I painted them with standard gold acrylic paint and then topped with some gold fabric glitter spray.
After they dried, I knotted the ends (pull very tightly!) and cut off the extra hanging pieces.  So easy right? And you can customize the color with any color paint you'd like! The ribbon also came in other colors.
I realize it's a little late, but these would be fun for Saint Patrick's day. They're still festive without the standard green or shamrock.
Happy belated Saint Patrick's day! All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Life Hacks: Part 2

I did a LIFE HACKS post a while back and promised to make it a regular thing. Then forgot.
Today, we're bringing it back!
The idea is that these little tricks are too small for blog posts, but still things I wanted to share, so here are 4 more! Enjoy!
Light up your night. Install touch lights on the underside of bookshelves. John wakes up a couple of hours earlier than I do, but we still like to go to bed at the same time. Since I then stay up later reading, we stuck small LED lights (HERE) on the underside of the bookshelf next to my side of the bed. I really love having a bookshelf next to my bed, PS. The shelf that is level with the bed has an alarm clock, lip balm, collection of hair ties, glass of water and other necessities. The rest of the shelves are storage.
The light is so useful for reading at night after John has gone to sleep. I also use it to find my eye mask, water or anything else during the night. The picture is taken in the middle of the night so you can see how bright it is. Multiple are installed, but I only have one lit up for the picture.
Stamp pad revival. I hadn't used this black stamp pad in over 4 years. It was totally dried out, as you can see from the photo on the left. One spritz of water from a spray bottle and 30 seconds later, it was totally useable! If you spritz it and then let it soak in for a few minutes and then test it, you'll be able to see if it needs a second splash of water.  You don't want to overdo it.
Save on greeting cards. Cards are expensive. Instead of buying a million birthday/thank you/shower cards at $5 each, I buy packs of inexpensive standard cards. The kind that are sold at Michael's in the dollar section. Next, I use alphabet stickers to personalize them. This particular card is for a baby shower (the baby to be is named Piper). Where it now says "Piper", it originally said "thanks". The alphabet stickers were $1 for 160 letters at Target. It's much cheaper to buy a 10 pack of cards and personalize them with stickers, and it's also more fun!
Stabilize hunger. I have blood sugar issues and constantly need snacks between breakfast and lunch to stave off the shakes. I've found that adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to my coffee keeps me going! John has been trying it (with a tablespoon) since he works 6 hours between breakfast and lunch and is constantly ravenous. It works really well for him, too! If you struggle to make it to lunch, give this a shot. I have a lot more energy and feel satisfied for much longer. I'd recommend a nice cold pressed, organic coconut oil, but this is what we had on hand.
Spring is just around the corner, and I can't wait to get back to creating and refashioning clothes for the warmer weather. I hope you're excited for the new season! All the best, and as always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

More InstaProject Ideas!

I'm running out of prints to even make all of these projects!
If you missed my other two instaproject posts, they were DOLLHOUSE FRAMES + also embellished MAGNETS. I have one more big idea, but haven't purchased all of the supplies for it yet. The rest of them are compiled into this massive posts!
Ready for more uses? Scroll on.

Stickers: The stickers are $10 for 252 from Printstagram.
Cell Phone: I created this very simply by lining up the stickers and then covering them with a layer of packing tape. I cut the tape down to size first, and then trimmed the edges with an exacto knife. Cheaper than paying to have a cell phone cover made from instapics- and I can change them out at will.
Stickers on Envelopes: Sealing the back of your Save the Dates or wedding invitations with a photo of the two of you would be super fun!

Present tags/Labels: How exciting would it be to use these to label presents at Christmas time? I always say that kids LOVE seeing their little faces. You could also use them to label items for children who are too small to read and that would make it easier for small children to play "Santa".

Stickers to mark personal effects: This is super dorm-ish, but if you own multiples of a product, you could always label which one belongs to each person using these stickers.
On bottles of nail polish: I love JULEP polish for being less toxic than other brands. I thought it would be fun to customize bottles as a present. You could use stickers that remind you of the colors (such as the ballet slippers and flowers on the above bottles), or you could use stickers that represent the season, lastly- what about pictures of you + the recipient/your adventures together? This color reminds me of the time we (insert nonsensical activity here). It would make great bridesmaids gifts!
On your resume/folder: I always deliver my resume in a folder with my name on the tab. I think adding a (much more professional picture) to the tab is a fantastic idea. The interviewer/HP rep can remember exactly who you were and it adds another layer to set you above other candidates. You could also add a sticker directly to your resume as well.

Large prints (squares): These are available in packs of 24 for $12.
Mostly, I like Squares for framing. I had considered sending them as postcards, but they don't meet the requirements. They're too small at 4"x4".
Children's Puzzle: Trace a puzzle shape on back of the print (depending on the age of the child) and cut it out for a fun little puzzle! You could laminate it first, or double it up on card stock (use 3m adhesive to attach the two for a seamless bond) before cutting out the puzzle to make it more durable.

Minis: Mini squares are slightly larger than 2 inches square and are 48 for $15.
Bookmarks: You can either laminate them or use contact paper. I used contact paper since we haven't got a laminator.
Grab some contact paper and draw a straight line down the center of it. Peel off the backing and place your photos right against the line, one on top of the other. Fold the other half of the contact paper over the photos. Seal well. Trim the edges.
Garland: This is similar to the greeting card holder from Christmas, only I used mini clothespins (Hobby Lobby- they don't go on sale so bring a coupon) and painted just the top part light pink, and will probably go back and paint the bottom part white. For more instructions, see the greeting card post HERE. Switch the pictures out as often as you want!
Hopefully I can finish the big one soon! Have a great day, it's paczki day for us and we *will* be enjoying some high fat polish donuts. All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!