“What’s in Your Facial Wash?”

Just like the barbaric vikings in the Capital One commercials ask “what’s in your wallet?” have you ever stopped and asked yourself, what’s in your facial wash?

About two months ago I stumbled upon this blog. If you are trying to go all natural, this is pretty much the holy grail. It’s a lot to work through, but it’s chocked full of amazingly valuable information that your mama or grandma probably didn’t even know about.

It took me a little while to work up the, erm, courage, I guess, to try this new facial regimen, but I’ve fallen in love and am now attempting to convert everyone who will listen. My skin has never felt to amazing, or looked so good. There is also the added benefit that I’m not scrubbing my face with toxic, harmful, and potentially, cancer causing chemicals.

* Yes, I researched this. I looked up the ingredients in Clinique Liquid Facial Soap (a supposedly popular choice according to my searches). The first ingredient listed is purified water. Um, okay. Why would I pay $15 for a little bottle of something that consists mainly of water? Second ingredient, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), which is often used as a engine degreaser. It surrounds hair follicles and can prevent hair from growing as well as make hair fall out. It keeps children’s eye from developing properly. If used in toothpaste it will weaken enamel and cause cavities. SLS is considered very abrasive. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as a probable human carcinogen and it is classified in the state of California to cause cancer.

Awesome-sauce. If that doesn’t make you go running, I don’t know what will. 

There were three other ingredients listed that are harmful and/or are known or probable carcinogens. I also checked my bottle of Mary Kay Velocity facial wash and again, first ingredient water, next two, probable carcinogens. 

Sweet… I’m going to officially start freaking out now. And we wonder why cancer is on the rise. Sheesh! 

So what do I wash my face with?

Honey.

Yes, I said honey. You know, that stuff that comes from bees. Often used to sweeten tea or added to toast or biscuits. Yes, that stuff.

Turns out, it incredibly beneficial to your skin too. No harmful chemicals needed.

Honey is antibacterial and antimicrobial. A.K.A. it says adios to anything trying to create pimples in on your skin. I’ve seen a great improvement in how much clearer my complexion looks. I haven’t really battled acne for a while now, but overall I just feel like my skin looks better.

Honey is drying, yet moisturizing. This is probably my number one reason for loving washing my face with honey. Honey will slightly dry your skin, which will help dwindle down a pimple’s hopes of thriving. It’s also moisturizing, in a good way. I’ve always had this dry/oily skin battle going on. My skin is more on the oily side, however, especially in the winter, it feels dried out, especially on my forehead. I would smear layers and layers of moisturizer on my face, only to still have dry, flaky patches. Why? Probably because those moisterizers just sat on top of my skin and did nothing more than clog up my pores. Honey actually sinks into the skin and gives it true moisture. The issue of dry patches is completely gone, and I find I need to little to no moisturizer now.

It also has awesome enzymes (great for anti-aging), is great for all skin types, and has healing qualities as well (probably one reason why my skin looks better too).

I mean really, what can beat that?

Um, nothing.

Now I do like to pair my honey with my friend baking soda. (Which you saw in the picture at the beginning of the post and probably wondered how it would come into play.) Baking soda makes a great microdermabrasion, for cheap! And to think I used to pay Mary Kay thirty-something-dollars for a microdermabrasion full of chemicals?! Seriously, my skin feels better after my cheap-o baking soda scrub than the expensive, bad-for-ya one.

So here’s what my facial regimen looks like right now.

*If you need help selecting honey to use visit the Crunchy Betty site for a guide on selecting your honey. I’ve been using the “no-no” store bought honey so far, but I’m going to be looking for a local, organic supplier of raw honey soon.

Everyday, twice a day, my face gets washed with honey. I prefer to dampen my face ever so slightly, then with dry hands, massage a bit of honey (about a teaspoon amount) into my skin for 1-2 minutes. Then I rinse it off with warm water and I’m done. If I feel like I need to moisturize I use a tiny amount of the Melaleuca Co.’s Renew lotion with a little extra melaleuca oil added. Most the time, I don’t feel I need to though.

*I don’t use a lot of heavy make-up on my skin, just a light brushing of mineral powder foundation. Because of this, I just use honey to wash it off. If you use heavier foundations on your face, you’ll want to follow below to remove it. Mix it on a washcloth and use that to wash your face.

If I am taking a shower, then I replace one of those plain honey washes with a honey and baking soda wash. I mix in a little bit of baking soda in with my honey and mix it into a thick paste in a little bowl (condiment cups work great). I rub this into my face and then let my face soak in all it’s goodness while I shampoo, shave, etc. Then I gently scrub for 2-3 minutes in a circular motion and rinse.

Try it and tell me your skin doesn’t feel amazing after that! No really, I dare you to toss all your store bought cleansers in the trash and go for it. You probably won’t even have to go out and buy anything. It’s probably in your kitchen right now.

So go do it and no longer fear what’s in your facial wash.

*This post could also be titled “the post in which I use a lot of asterisks with italics.” 

Edited to add: I washed my face with a commercial cleanser the other day. My skin felt like it was burning and also felt super dry afterwards. I had to moisturize. Now that’s saying something.

Homemade Christmas: The Epic Play Castle

I was back this year with my traditional, mostly homemade Christmas gifts. Although actually this was really a birthday gift, the birthday boy’s big day is two weeks before Christmas, so he (along with the two other December birthdays) usually gets his gift on Christmas day.

Back in the fall I started looking around for gift ideas. I wish I could tell you how I landed on this persons Etsy page, but I can’t. All I know is I saw this awesome wooden modular play castle, thought it was pretty epic, and then texted my other half to ask him how easy it was to make. His response was “piece of cake.” Don’t ask him about it now.

(Search on Etsy for Modular Wooden Castle for the original product)

I would have bought the original from the source, however it was quite out of budget and hey, it’s way cooler to be able to say you made it yourself anyways.

We started back before Thanksgiving thinking “look at us getting a head start and all so we aren’t stressed out about trying to finish such a large project days before Christmas while simultaneously trying to finish about 20 something other gifts.”

(That’s foreshadowing by the way in case you didn’t pick up on it.)

Our first step was a run to Home Depot. We used a 4’x8′ piece of Birch plywood. Supposedly they are only suppose to make minimum cuts of something like 12″, but we managed to get the guy to cut the piece down to 6″,7″ and 8″ widths. If you decide to make this, hopefully you’ll be able to talk them into the same, because it did save us a ton of time and trouble. Tommy, using is mathematical genius, determined how many of each width we needed based on the templates I had drawn up.

Next step was to take all the pieces and cut them again. Depending on the piece, some were cut into the heights, while some the widths. Again, Tommy and the table saw were the masterminds behind this.

And that was the last time anything was easy. Tommy’s plan was to use a router to cut the notches in each piece used to slide them together. Because of the way it fits together you want at least half of your pieces to be flat on both sides so you can flip them upside down (confused? Look at the pictures to follow). So logically he started off on our short plain pieces… and then the router broke and everything came to screeching halt.

The end result was putting it off until a week before Christmas, then struggling through about half the remaining pieces with a semi-broken router and then finally purchasing a new router. All a week before Christmas.

Tommy did all the detail work (zig-zag tops, doors, and windows), but with my lack of woodworking knowledge and the fact that I was not present when he did it, I have no clue has to how exactly he did it. All I know is he did it, and that’s all I really cared about at the moment. Our original plans also included some pieces with square notches, however the points were much faster to make so with the time crunch he just did all of them that way.

While he was finishing with the new router, I sanded my heart out and then we both finished the last 20 or so pieces. We finally finished around 2am on Wednesday the 21st (yes, 4 days before Christmas).

Of course, despite the fact that it was 2am we had to put it together.

Yup, pretty epic!

The sets I had seen online consisted of either 18 or 28 pieces. Ours came to a grand total of 60 pieces. Yeah… little overboard, but that’s how we roll. I wish I had taken a picture of all the different style pieces stacked up, but unfortunately I didn’t. Sorry.

I finished each piece with a beeswax and olive oil polish (recipe here) which took an alarming four hours to do, but was worth it because it gave the pieces a nice smooth finish and feel and deepened the color a bit. After I finished I sat them all up to dry for 24 hours and then wiped off the excess.

The sealed pieces are stacked.

I also added two “draw bridges” from scraps of wood and used my wood burner to add the details.

I even (badly) burned our initials and the year into one of the tower pieces.

The last touch was some grass and the moat from inexpensive, silky fabric from JoAnns which I hemmed on my sewing machine.

Some play castle characters were also added to the mix. And voila! An epic play castle.

It was a big hit Christmas day, with at one point, all 6 of the nieces and nephews in it. The two oldest (7 and almost 7) enjoyed helping to build, while the two middle ones (pictured above, the birthday boy who turned 3 and his cousin who is 4 1/2) played in it the whole time it was up and cried when it had to be put away to go home. The two youngest (who are 2 and 13 months) were still a bit too young to really enjoy it.

While the project wasn’t necessarily difficult to execute, it was time consuming and you’ll need a basic knowledge of woodworking as well as quite a few tools. But overall it was a fun project (okay in the middle of it I probably wouldn’t have said that) and the results were awesome. Which is why when we gave it away, we actually stated that when it’s life with them was over, we wanted it back!

Beg and plead all you want, but we have zero plans of making these to sell. One, because it’s not our original idea so that wouldn’t be right, and two, it’s just way to time consuming to be worth it, at least to us. Tommy vowed “never again!” when we finished, which again, is why we asked for it back one day.

Ugly Sweater Christmas

This was Tommy and my “Christmas card” this year. I didn’t actually get it printed, instead I just posted it to Facebook. However, I’ve so gotten many requests from people who want to be able to put this photo on their fridge, I’m getting actual prints made now.

The fabulous sweaters were made by my boyfriend using various thrift store finds and some scissors and thread. The beard thing going on isn’t his usual, don’t worry. He always does “No-Shave November” and then shaves it into something ridiculous on December 1st.

Now I just have to figure out how we can top this for next Christmas.

This post is part of a I Heart Faces photo challenge. To see other entries visit iheartfaces.com

Eye Make-up Remover Wipes

First, let me just say how much I love Pinterest. If you aren’t a member, please feel free to contact me and I’ll send you an invite. It seriously makes doing and planning almost any and everything easy. I find myself searching Pinterest more than Google now days if I want to know how to do or make something. Yeah, it’s that amazing.

Anyways, about a month ago I stumbled upon an awesome tutorial for making wipes. I also saw some tutorials for making eye make-up remover and kind of morphed them to my own-ish recipe. My favorite part – it’s cheap, of course! There is nothing I love more than something that used to be expensive for cheap. The fact that it’s pretty natural too helps too.

Eye Make-Up Remover Wipes

Roll of paper towls

Large sealable container (the 7 cup round container from Ziploc works)

Coconut Oil

Soap of Choice (I used tear-free baby soap, but this will probably change next batch)

2 c. Water

Cut your paper towels in half, using a sharp, non-serrated knife. It does require a little elbow grease, so you might want to delegate this to a strong boyfriend, husband, or son if you have them available. I cut it myself, it just required some effort and patience.  Place the paper towels in your container.

Measure out your 2 cups of water in a measuring cup. Add to that your (melted) coconut oil and soap. I used approximately 2 tbsp. of coconut oil and about 1/2 tbsp. of soap. So far so good, but I might experiment a little in the future. (That’s just what you wanted to hear in a recipe isn’t it.) Mix well and slowly pour over your paper towels. Then smash the container lid on (unless you have a container that actually fits the roll completely). Flip back and forth slowly a few times and let it all soak in. Open it up, pull out the cardboard center, and pull the paper towels from the center. Voila! You just saved yourself tons ‘o’ money! 

So far, so good. I do find that it requires a little bit more effort that what I was using previously, but not enough to make me go back to buying eye make-up remover. I find that gently wiping my lashes first and then the rest of my eye before washing my face works best. It does remove my water-proof mascara too.

As far as cost, gosh it’s hard to break down, but I’m going to assume it’s probably not much more than $1 for the whole container. My roll of paper towels had 154 sheets, so that’s not even a penny a wipe.

Test it out and let me know what you think! I just made some antibacterial wipes today, so I’ll share that recipe after I test it a little.

Update: I’m still on my first container, and yes, I still like them. However since posting this, I’m become more aware of the harmful chemicals in products, like the tear-free baby shampoo I used in this recipe. I haven’t quite figured out an good alternative to this. I’m trying to stick with all-natural ingredients so if you have a suggestion let me know. It’s up to you if you’d still like to use this recipe, but if you’d like an alternative, here is a recipe for a liquid version

Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me – Part 2

Wow, so good job if you made it through my extremely haphazard part 1 post that makes me look like a complete ADHD freak. Here’s the part you really want: the finished product.

Need a little more work with my embroidery unit as far as getting things lined up and such.

So here are the nitty-gritty details for those who are going to ask.

Block pattern: Shoo Fly Variation (Pattern found here)

Size: Ummm, didn’t actually measure, but it’s on a double bed above and just barely hangs over the sides. I adjusted the pattern from being 6 squares x 9 squares to 7 squares x 8 squares because it had me making 56 square but only using 54. I wanted to use every single one of those darn squares. Each square is about 9 inches give or take a little so that’s about 63 inches (or 5.25 feet) x 72 inches (or 6 feet). Yes, plenty big to snuggle up in.

Cost: About $100. I didn’t keep track real well so that’s approximate. But I would expect to  spend at least $75-$100 on a quilt this size if you are doing it all yourself. Some people like to send it away to be quilted, so expect to spend a good bit more if you are one of those people.

Time: Oh gosh, I always try to keep track of this too and fail. My estimate is somewhere around 60 hours. Yes, quilts are a labor of love as well. You have to be really high on my “people I love” list to receive on of these bad boys.

How easy is this block pattern?: I would say intermediate. The pattern isn’t really forgiving and no matter how careful I was, I still ended up with things like this:

I don’t really know how issues like that happened and sometimes I feel like I need to join a quilting guild or something. Yes, I know it will be all these little old ladies, but they’ve all been there and done that and maybe someone would have some advice on how to avoid and fix issues like that.

If you follow the exact pattern it’s also quite large and I would say it would be a little overwhelming for someone new to quilting, but especially sewing. The block pattern is fairly straight forward and easy to put together however, so I would definitely recommend  just scaling it down a little if you’re a complete newbie.

Did you do the actual quilting?: One, for money sake, I do my own quilting, but also because I like to be able to say I made it all by myself (yes, I know, I sound like I’m five). I “free motion” quilt which I’ve learned is really quite simple, easy, and forgiving. Technically I don’t have a “free motion quilting foot” but I find that the foot that I use for embroidery works just fine. All I have to do is drop my feed dogs and I’m good to go.

Quilting something of this size took me about 7-8 hours and made me really, really want a long arm sewing machine. I strongly recommend doing something along the size of a baby quilt when you give free motion quilting a try for the first time.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me – Part 1

My sister had been wanting me to “sew” her something for a while, so for her birthday I decided to make her a quilt. Knowing I couldn’t hide it from her, I simply told her that it was for someone else.

I found the block pattern here after spending forever searching for the “right” one. I had chosen more vintage looking fabrics so I wanted a classic looking block that was also a bit modern looking too (yes, I wanted it all). This was perfect. It also required no fancy cutting or piecing, which I was all about.


So off I went. With my cat’s help of course.

I cut for what seemed like forever. Over 500 squares!

And then the “fun” began of piecing it together. I can’t lie. It was sheer agony at times. I had a deadline I had to meet so I was basically forcing myself to do it.

Fifty-six squares later I was ready to piece the whole thing together.

My faithful assistant kept an eye on my progress. Although in reality, she was plotting this:

Note the innocent looking face. NOT!

You can see here how she had a blast running across our living room and sliding around on the squares.

Luckily I’m an Instagram addict and had posted this picture earlier in the day used it to re-piece together the squares. This time I decided to stack it up.

I wanted to use the embroidery unit on my machine to embroider a little “To/From”‘ and date in one of the squares. I also had yet to find a backing for the quilt I liked. So I left off the last row when I gave it to my sister.

She turned 21.

Surprise!

Oh and I should note for historical purposes, we were getting ready for Hurricane Irene to hit us. She hit us mostly between the evening of Aug. 27th (my sister’s birthday) and morning of Aug. 28th (my boyfriend’s birthday). We also experienced an earthquake earlier in the week.

Yes, we like to keep in real in Baltimore.

Flooded river with a kayaker near my boyfriend’s.

Checking on a road block by his house.

Anyways…

So after that the quilt topper was set aside for a while. I had completed it in less than a week and honestly didn’t really want to look at it for a bit. I was also still having trouble finding a backing I like (and wasn’t a million dollars). I sat for about 2 months before I finally went back and finished it…

Stay tuned for part 2.

 

Comeback Kid

Wow, it’s been over a year since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I’ve decided to come back for a couple reasons.

1. I’ve noticed, thanks to my “how to make your own blog header post“, my blog has been getting at least a 100+ hits a day. If you Google variations of “how to make a blog header” my post is somewhere between 3rd and 5th in every search I did depending on how the search is phrased. WOW! Some of these people are hanging around and subscribing, so I thought maybe it was time to come back.

2. I’ve had some things I’ve made/done/etc. that I want to share or write more about. It’s hard to do via my main online social outlets like Facebook. I sort of abandon this blog because I felt I couldn’t keep up. I felt like I should be posting content all the time and was stressing about doing so. However now I plan to just post when I want to with the hope that it is more manageable.

A lot has happened since I abandoned this blog over a year ago so I’ll try to catch everyone up.

– Last fall I completed my final semester of college – full-time student teaching. I have no idea how I managed between my two-hour daily commute, basically working full time (for free), and completing my final portfolio which was a full time job in and of itself. It completely boggles my mind now so I can only say by the grace of God I made it.

– I spent January and February just hanging out, doing nothing, and being 110% broke.

– The extra time did allow me to go snowboarding more and I completed one of this year’s goals of being able to link turns.

– In March I got a call from a school one afternoon needing a sub for a special educator – starting the next day and for the next week. They hinted that it might become a long-term position and by the Tuesday of the next week I knew I’d be there for at least 6 more weeks. Well 6 more weeks turned into the rest of the school year and I “officially” became the 1st/2nd grade special educator. Not having a degree in special ed. made it challenging at times, however, sadly the special educator was not doing her job, so just as long as I actually showed up and serviced my kiddos they were happy. I learned a lot from the experience, as tough as it was, and made some dear teaching friends who I miss everyday.

– I spent the summer as a nanny (as per usual) and praying for a job. The job did not happen.

– I did travel a lot this summer, which I hadn’t done in a few years and I loved it. One of my trips was going away to camp with my younger brother and his Young Life Capernaum club. Hanging out with hundreds of special needs teens and young adults was more fun than I could have ever imagined. This fall I joined the leadership team for our county’s club and I love it!

– I’m currently working on becoming a substitute in the county I live in to eliminate the longer commute (a.k.a. save money) to the county I student taught in and long-term subbed in.

– While I have been enjoying my time off, I’ve still be struggling with the reality of not getting a full-time job. Teaching is what I love and what I want to do. Until then I’m trying to amuse myself and spend my time being crafty.

Hence the blog comeback.

So sit, stay. Have a cup of coffee. I’ll see you around.