Category Archives: DIY Home/Health/Beauty

Fall Decorating the Natural Way

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m wanting to move toward a simpler, less-cluttered life. And for the fall season, I’m thinking about how I can decorate and still keep things simple. Decorating with natural things is appealing to me because after you’re done decorating, you can recycle your natural decorations in a compost pile. Or you may be able to work it into your decorating for the next season (pinecones, for example, work great for both fall and Christmas decorating).

I made the centerpiece shown above with some small pumpkins and dried hydrangeas–they make such a pretty fall combination! I just placed the pumpkins in a shallow wire basket and filled in the empty spaces with the dried hydrangea flowers. This arrangement can work as a centerpiece. Or display it on a coffee table or sideboard.

As you’re doing your fall decorating, you may be doing a little cleaning, too, like cleaning your windows before the cold weather sets in or cleaning your floors. So here are some tips if you’re needing some nature-themed decorating inspiration and simple DIY natural cleaning ideas:

  • Create a welcoming home entrance by decorating your front door with a wreath made with colorful leaves and/or other fall foliage. Pinecones or gumballs from a sweet gum tree make a nice-looking wreath too.
  • You can also use items from nature (pinecones, branches of colorful leaves, gourds, pumpkins, or pots of autumn flowers) to add a natural touch to your decor throughout your home.
  • Display fresh fruit in a bowl or basket. Apples look great in wooden bowls and this makes a great fall table decoration or centerpiece.
  • Candles make everything cozy and beeswax candles are a good choice because they are long-lasting and burn clean. Soy candles are clean-burning, too.
  • Lanterns also add a cozy feel to your decor, whether you use real candles or the battery-powered ones.
  • Using seasonal pillows and throws on chairs and sofas is an easy way to add an autumn feel to the  furniture you already own. You can carry the “natural look” through by using pillows and other accessories made with natural fabrics like burlap, linen, and cotton.
  • Use a burlap or linen table runner in your dining room and decorate with displays of small pumpkins or gourds, or a “bouquet” of colorful branches of leaves.
  • Wicker baskets add a natural, rustic touch and are great for storing odds and ends or for displaying potted plants in.
  • Use fresh seasonal flowers in a vase or potted flowers throughout your home and on your porch for a punch of color.

  • Use dried herbs and fruits from your summer garden in an herbal potpourri mix to add natural fragrance to your home. In the potpourri shown above, I mixed dried orange slices with cinnamon sticks, fresh rosemary, and fresh oregano. I let the herbs dry right in the bowl, and they still have a great fragrance after they’re dried. You can also create a mix of dried citrus peel from oranges and grapefruit (cut in smaller pieces or strips), cinnamon sticks, and/or dried apple and orange slices. Or mix herbs like dried lavender and rosemary (and some eucalyptus if you have it) and display in a small bowl.
  • Another use for dried herbs–if you have a wood-burning fireplace, you can toss dried rosemary and lavender twigs into the fire to create a nice aroma.
  • Before you add any seasonal window decorations, clean the glass with a DIY vinegar and water mixture. Use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, or for dirtier windows, use equal parts vinegar and water. Put mixture in a spray bottle and shake to mix.
  • For a natural, light, general cleaner around the house (on things like countertops and tile floors), mix 2 Tablespoons of baking soda in 2 cups of warm water. Add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a soft fragrance.
  • Use a linen spray on your bed sheets to add a soft, relaxing fragrance to the bedroom. Just put 1 cup of water (you can use distilled water, too) in a spray bottle and add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil; shake to mix and then lightly spray on linens. Shake this mixture each time you use it (as you’re getting your home ready for fall, you may also want to turn your mattresses and vacuum both sides, just to keep things fresh).

Hope you are having fun decorating for fall! Do you have any natural decorating tips of your own?

Sharing at Happiness is HomemadeThursday Favorite Things,  Inspire Me Monday.

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Black Tea Window Cleaner

Black Tea Window Cleaner @ NancyC

Who would have thought that black tea could be used as a window cleaner? I think it’s a great idea–so many people drink it, so they have it on hand, and it’s a great eco-friendly alternative to conventional chemical-laden cleaners. I didn’t come up with this idea myself–the tea experts at Choice Organic Teas, makers of organic, fair trade certified teas, told me about it and sent me some samples of their black tea to try it out! They sent me their Classic Black, English Breakfast, and Wild Forest Black teas–any black tea should work for making the window cleaner.

I used the Classic Black tea and found that this window cleaner is really easy to make. I was also surprised at how well it cleaned my windows! Here’s how you make it:

BLACK TEA WINDOW CLEANER

What you’ll need:

  • a clean, empty spray bottle
  • 3 tea bags of black tea
  • 1 cup of hot water

Directions: Steep tea bags in 1 cup of water for 4 to 5 minutes; remove tea bags and let brewed tea cool. Pour the cooled tea into your spray bottle. Spray on windows and mirrors and wipe thoroughly with a paper towel or cloth.

That’s all there is to it! it’s nice to be able to clean your windows using natural ingredients instead of chemicals, isn’t it? This sure comes in handy for spring and summer cleaning! Have you ever tried making your own window cleaner?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me Monday.

Nourishing Banana Face Cream

Nourishing Banana Face Cream @ NancyC

One of the things I love about this DIY face cream is that it’s so simple and easy–and has just 2 ingredients that just about everyone has on hand–a banana and some milk! I found 510skQgPAgL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_this recipe in my review copy of The Complete Guide to Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments (Robert Rose, softcover). This book includes 175 easy-to-follow recipes for a variety of skin and hair care items. And all the ingredients in these recipes are chemical-free, using natural ingredients like aromatic and medicinal plants, flowers, fruits, and essential oils. For example, there’s a Rejuvenating Bath recipe that includes dried sage, thyme, and eucalyptus leaves, along with patchouli and sandalwood essential oils. And a Lemon Hand Cream that’s made with shea butter, apricot kernel oil, castor oil, and lemon essential oil.

I decided to try the Nourishing Banana Cream for the face because it was such a simple recipe that we all could try without having to buy any special ingredients. This is actually more like a mask than a cream, because you just keep it on for 3 to 4 minutes. It really does make your skin feel nice and soft after you wash it off–it felt so refreshing, too! If your skin is dry, you’ll probably want to apply your regular moisturizer after you rinse this banana face cream off.

Here’s what the book says about bananas: Bananas are good for beauty, both inside and out. They contain a host of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamins A, C, and E and potassium. So pamper your face and try this out when you get a chance! 🙂

NOURISHING BANANA CREAM from Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments

Makes 1 application – works best for normal skin

  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 3 Tablespoons milk

Slice banana. In a small bowl and using a fork, mash banana with milk to form a paste (I actually found it easier to mash by putting the ingredients in a baggie and mashing it with my hands)

Using fingers, spread banana mixture over face and neck. Let stand on skin for 3 to 4 minutes.

Rinse off banana mixture with lukewarm water. Gently pat face and neck dry with a towel.

Isn’t that easy? I used a medium-size banana and it made plenty of “cream” to apply; in fact, I had some extra. So I saved the rest and used it in a smoothie!

Have you made any DIY beauty products with simple, natural ingredients?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.

Olive Oil Soap

OliveOilSoap2

Photo courtesy of The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Have you ever made your own soap before? I really like the idea of using homemade soap with natural ingredients and have been interested in trying to make some myself. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to review the new book, The Best Natural Homemade Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps (Robert Rose, softcover). 

UnknownThe book starts off by sharing some interesting history about soap making. In ancient times, soap mainly consisted of a mixture of boiled fat and ashes. The first people to make olive oil soap were the Syrians, several thousand years ago in the city of Aleppo. “The women of Aleppo realized that by adding ground bay leaves to soap, skin infections were reduced considerably; the leaves from the bay plant possess an extraordinary natural antiseptic.” And other soap-making discoveries continued over the centuries.

This book also includes preparation tips and utensil and ingredient guides so you have everything you need to make your own olive oil-based soap. The step-by-step instructions seem easy to follow and include information on therapeutic qualities of the natural soap additives in each particular recipe–additives like essential oils, beeswax, cocoa butter, kaolin clay, seaweed, and goat’s milk. Some of the 40 different soap recipes include Kiwi Soap, Lavender Soap, Marigold Soap, Seaweed Soap, Green Tea Soap, Chocolate Soap, Coconut Soap, Cinnamon Soap, Rosemary Soap…and many more great-sounding versions!

OliveOilSoap1

Image from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

I was going to try making the basic Olive Oil Soap recipe. The ingredients are simple and basic enough–mineral water, lye (caustic soda), and extra virgin olive oil. However, I wasn’t able to find lye in any stores near me, so I guess I’ll have to order some from a soap-making supplier (there’s a list at the back of the book). In the meantime, I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe with you! Note: You’ll need safety goggles, a large saucepan, and a kitchen thermometer to make this soap.

OLIVE OIL SOAP from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

  • 7.5 oz. mineral water
  • 3 oz. lye (caustic soda)
  • 1.5 lbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Scent (optional), store-bought or homemade
  1. Wearing gloves and goggles, pour mineral water into a large saucepan. Add lye slowly, stirring gently until it is dissolved.
  2. Using a thermometer, monitor the temperature of the lye mixture until it is between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil to between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  4. Remove olive oil from heat. Add lye mixture to olive oil, stirring slowly and trying not to splash.
  5. Stir occasionally, every 15 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and congeals (it will have a texture similar to that of light mayonnaise).
  6. Stir in scent (if using). Stir for 1 minute with a spoon (or with a whisk, taking care not to create foam).
  7. Pour into a greased or paper-lined soap mold. Gently tap mold to remove any air bubbles.
  8. Cover with a blanket or towel and let stand for 2 days. Uncover and let stand for an additional day if the mold is very large.
  9. Turn soap out of mold. Wait another day, then cut into bars as desired.
  10. Dry bars for 1 month, turning occasionally to ensure they are drying uniformly.
Soap recipe from The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © http://www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

 

This sounds like a great soap for your skin! Homemade soap is a great DIY gift idea, too! Do you use or have you made any olive oil-based soap, or any other kinds of soap?

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things.

Rejuvenating Bath Oil Blend

ncRejuvBathOilnm

I know a little about some of the health benefits of essential oils, so I was really interested in reviewing a new book called The UnknownComplete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness (Robert Rose, softcover). As the book mentions, essential oils are described as the “life force” or “essence” of plants and aromatherapy is a method of using essential oils to protect, heal, and beautify our bodies. Often used in massage, essential oils can be used in many other ways to support your health. They are one of nature’s most potent forms of healing–for everything from arthritis to high blood pressure. And in addition to their therapeutic qualities, they can also be used to create natural personal care and home cleaning products that promote a healthier way of life. All in all, this handbook includes more than 450 remedies and uses for essential oils.

The book begins with a helpful introduction to what essential oils are and different ways you can use them. The other 4 sections of the book include:

  • Part 1: The Oils (detailed properties of 109 essential oils and their uses)
  • Part 2: Remedies (a section filled with recipes for easy-to-make home health remedies using essential oils and other natural ingredients)
  • Part 3: Aromatherapy for Daily Living (a section with recipes for skincare, hair care, and body care; also includes recipes you can use to make natural cleaning products for your home–things like air freshener, furniture polish, glass cleaner, and more).
  • Part 4: Practicalities (information on equipment you’ll need and how to measure and store essential oils)

I thought I’d try one of the body care recipes–the Rejuvenating Bath Oil Blend. It sounded like the perfect way to pamper myself after a busy week. And since the recipe happens to include some of my favorite essential oils, I had all the ingredients on hand to make this! I think it works best for normal to dry skin; my skin is on the dry side, so this oil blend mixed in the bathwater felt wonderful! The scent of this bath oil is very rejuvenating, and after soaking in it for 30 minutes, I also found it very relaxing!

REJUVENATING BATH OIL BLEND from The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook

  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grapeseed or sweet almond oil (I used grapeseed oil)
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil

Fill tub with warm water. Meanwhile, in a small non-reactive bowl, combine grapeseed oil and lavender, rosemary and peppermint essential oils (I used a very small glass jar for mixing my ingredients-see photo above). Stir well. Add to tub and agitate to thoroughly disperse oils, then soak for 30 minutes, massaging any floating droplets of oil into your skin.

This really is a rejuvenating bath and the scent of all these oils blended together is wonderful! Do you use essential oils often?

Linked to Fiesta FridayInspire Me Monday, Wow Me Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Let’s Get Real Friday.