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How to Revive Tired Skin for Summer

How to Revive Tired Skin for Summer

Summer in Ireland can be very deceptive. Just when you think you are safe to dry clothes outside or plan a weekend in the outdoors, the clouds darken and the rain ridicules you for being so smug. As I am writing this I am curled up in our armchair watching the torrents batter the window and the wind is howling. Hello June!!

 

Those little pockets of sunshine may be few here but when the clouds do decide to part, the heat can be a shock to the system. My skin definitely suffers as a result of the ever-changing weather; my skin loses moisture, my lips crack and my forehead does this lovely thing of breaking out in lots of wee spots. To try and combat this I have ramped up the beauty routine (which is pretty non-existent to be fair) and introduced some homemade products using ingredients I know will help soothe my skin and bring it back to life.

 

I have written about my love of natural products before, especially when it comes to skincare. And although there are a plethora of organic gems available for not-so-horrifying prices,  there is something to be said for whipping up your own creation with ingredients just hanging out in your cupboards. Good products should only require a handful of ingredients and I have found some great recipes that will surely brighten up any weather-beaten body.

 

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Lemon & Lavender Sugar Scrub

I use lavender essential oil religiously for lots of homemade recipes like this room spray which I spritz on clothes, curtains, my car, gym bag, bed pillows. Basically anything that I think can delay washing for another few days! The combination with lemon creates the most incredible smell that is so summery – just don’t be tempted to eat the scrub because it doesn’t taste as good as it smells!

 

The scrub contains coconut oils which will inject some much needed moisture in to that tired skin. I make a batch and keep it next to the bath for those days when a good soak is the only cure for a hectic day. If you want to feel like a proper princess then add a few drops of lavender oil to the bath while you’re there and put on your favourite podcast – heaven!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 15 drops essential oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lavender buds (optional)

Method

  • Melt coconut oil at high temperature in microwave
  • Add sugar, lavender oil and lavender buds
  • Place in pot and enjoy!

 

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Lip Scrub

Those little peckers can get a rough time between seasons with the summer making them especially vulnerable. Use this scrub to remove the dead skin and the coconut oil will give them that wee bit of nourishment that they are craving. Follow up with this lip balm and you will feel instantly renewed (and no longer resemble a scabies victim.. Just me?).

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 5 drops vanilla extract

Method

  • Heat coconut in microwave and then mix in the rest of the ingredients
  • Add to small lip pots

 

Green Tea Face Mist

Making your own face mist may just be the most decadent thing you do but my goodness is it refreshing. This mist is best left in the fridge and then spritzed on a make-up free face on a hot evening. It’s also a life saver when travelling on a plane to help awaken tired skin.

The green tea acts as a natural soother and is packed full of those infamous antioxidants that will give your face that summer glow (and not the sweaty kind). I also add a little Vitamin E oil to help soothe and moisturise the skin that bit more.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of green tea
  • 1/2 cup of distilled water
  • 10 drops Vitamin E oil

Method

  • Boil the green tea and leave to stew for an hour
  • Mix the tea with the distilled water and vitamin E oil
  • Add a spray bottle and give a good shake
  • Leave in the fridge

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Homemade Lavender Spray

Homemade Lavender Spray

It’s funny how the sun can completely energise us and we suddenly remember all of the projects we abandoned during the winter. These last few days of sunshine and blue skies has awakened the creativity I thought had disappeared completely and I have a whole bunch of crafty things I want to make over the next few weeks (or until the notoriously short Irish summer ends).

 

I decided to start with a super quick and manageable project that I could do after work in the evening and a room spray was just about the simplest thing I could come up with. It’s a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a while not just because our living room smells like a Victorian basement (drying clothes indoors = lovely damp aroma) but also to help quickly lift anything that might not be smelling so fresh e.g. gym bag, guddies (do people still say guddies??), car, curtains, boyfriend.

 

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Lavender was the choice for the spray because it’s my go-to summer scent. It takes me back to our holiday in Croatia last year where the markets would be teeming with little bags of this floral deliciousness and I bought as many as I could to take home with me. I still have a little left that I keep in a drawer but I hijacked a few sprigs to use for this spray. It smells wonderful and I’ve been spraying a little on my pillow to help sleep through these warmer nights.

 

If you don’t feel like whipping together a spray then you can introduce lavender essential oil in plenty of other ways. It really is an all-rounder essential oil; it’s antiseptic (great for wounds or scars), a sleeping aid, a muscle relaxant (a few drops in the bath will have you chilled out in no time), a pain reliever and can be used as a topical treatment for skin issues like eczema. A bit of an over-achiever really.

 

And if lavender isn’t your thing then you can create your own bespoke concoction that feels like summer to you. Like…

Cypress, Lemon & Rosemary

Orange, Lime & Spearmint

Sandalwood, Grapefruit & Orange

 

The options are endless! So here’s to bringing in the smells of summer and fingers crossed this sunshine sticks around for us to enjoy this weekend!

 

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Lavender Room Spray

What You’ll Need

  • Bottle with mist nozzle
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Dried lavender
  • Distilled water
  • Vodka or gin
  • Measuring cup

 

Method

  1. Clean out your bottle
  2. Pour in your distilled water first (I used a 6:1 ratio of water:vodka)
  3. Then about 25-30 drops of the essential oil (I used the maximum because my sense of smell is pathetic)
  4. Pour in your vodka or gin
  5. Give the bottle a good shake (with the lid on folks)
  6. Cut a few sprigs of lavender just short of the length of the bottle and place inside.
  7. Spray around the house like you’re a domestic goddess

 

Treat Yo Self: 4 DIY Face Masks

Treat Yo Self: 4 DIY Face Masks

Oh Friday, you took a while to get here. Even though I was off on Monday (damn cough can get the better of me at times) it still felt like Friday would never arrive. Yesterday my head felt like it was ready to spin off my neck; my brain was fried and my body was tired. In spite of being ready for bed as soon as I woke up, I managed to take myself off to the gym after work but the world is cruel and I got stuck in the worst traffic I have experienced in months. It took me an hour and 10 minutes to travel 5 miles and when I arrived late to my PT session I nearly cried. Actually feel teary writing about it so yes, I am more than ready for the weekend.

 

This weekend I am ready to treat myself and so should you! A wee pamper session is great for the soul especially in this inbetween-y time of year when our skin can be a little more vulnerable to change. I notice my skin suffers in between the seasons, especially my face that seems to get dull and tired (and makes the need for make up that more necessary). Face masks are a great way to bring my skin back to life and it feels like such a treat when I’m in my PJ’s on a Friday night with my fluffy socks on and a big fat glass of wine in my hand – yes I know I am a rockstar. 

 

It’s so easy to go straight to cosmetics when looking for a decent face mask but it can also mean spending more cash than we can afford. This week, instead of turning to my very shallow purse I thought I’d turn to my kitchen and research if anything in there would do me any good. I have tried introducing natural ingredients in to my routine before and I saw the benefits then so I thought creating my own face masks might do the trick. And they did!

 

If you’re like me and have sensitive skin then give some of the below combinations a whirl. Reducing the amount of chemicals, artificial colours and fillers in our beauty regime will help relieve our skin of irritation and not only that, it will reduce the environmental impact we have on this lovely planet of ours – win win!!

 

Before you prepare for your cosy night in this Friday, I do have a few words of caution:

  • Be prepared for mess – do not wear your posh PJ’s because you will more than likely get drippage. Best to wear your old t-shirt and lie flat while the mask dries!
  • Be careful with the turmeric – this stuff stains like a motherlover and you should definitely NOT wear white.
  • Have a bath while it’s drying – not just because it’ll help you feel even more rejuvenated but also because of the drippage and you might get the odd bit of honey in your hair. I prescribe some bath salts, your favourite podcast and some candles because you’re fabulous.
  • Some of the masks serve as a handy snack while you’re waiting for them to dry – you’re welcome.

Enjoy your masks and let me know if you have any natural recipes your own – lots of room for inspiration over here!

And have a lovely weekend 🙂


4 DIY Face Masks

Avocado, Honey & Yoghurt Face Mask 

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tbsp raw honey

Avocados are great in this transitioning time as they moisturise the skin and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids – fancy pants. Also, yoghurt is a gentle exfoliant and honey is a natural antibacterial so all of the good things are in here.

Mix the ingredients together, slap on your face for 10-15 mins and then wash off with warm water. Ta-da! Use this method for all your masks, there’s no real science to it.

 

Oatmeal, Cucumber, Honey & Lemon Mask

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 tbsp ground oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

This mask is full of goodness – oatmeal to exfoliate, cucumber to rehydrate, honey to kill off that pesky bacteria and lemon juice to brighten the skin. It might not look pretty but your skin will thank you for it.

 

Brown Sugar, Turmeric & Honey Mask

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp turmeric

Another exfoliating gem that will brighten that skin right up along with a bit of turmeric thrown in to help with inflammation. This was my personal favourite because it made my skin feel silky smooth after – just watch the flippin’ turmeric for stains!

 

Coconut Oil & Honey Mask

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp raw honey

Super simple yet super effective. Both ingredients act as antibacterial shield and the coconut oil moisturises the skin better than any artificial product. This mask is also great for your hair if you fancy a deep treatment!

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20 Ways To Be Creative

20 Ways To Be Creative

I have never thought of myself as a creative person because I have always associated creative people with having masses of talent, high above the consistently mediocre folk like myself. Growing up I was average at most things but never outstanding and felt inferior when it came to any occasion where real talent was required. I can’t sing (although give me a few glasses of wine and I’ll crow my heart out), play an instrument, speak a second language (I can ask to go to the bathroom in Gaelic and little more) and I am definitely not an athlete by any means. What I have realised as I have gotten older though is that most people who can do all these things have had to hone this talent over years and practice over and over again. No one is born with these skills and so why should I rule myself out from learning them?

 

Over the last few years I have slowly allowed myself to unleash whatever creativity I have within me and appreciate that some things take longer to learn than others. While I find making my own products very easy, knitting on the other hand I have found a little trickier. The beauty about being creative is that you can take as much time as you need with it because it’s the enjoyment that you’re doing it for. Those quiet moments that we so rarely get to ourselves are some of the most important of the day and by flexing our creative muscles we are making that crucial time a priority.

 

Everyone can be creative – you don’t have to Van Gogh or Laura Marling to make or create things of your own. All it takes is a little time and patience, to live in the moment and enjoy every second of doing something just for you. Here are a few ideas to inspire you…

 

1 Try a New Recipe

I know I rotate a lot of the same meals now and then which can zap me of all inspiration but I get the most enjoyment out of cooking when I’m trying something new. How about dusting off those cookbooks that sit unused on your shelf and challenging yourself one evening in the week? Make sure you have all the ingredients you need and enjoy making a mess for once!

 

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2 Make a Playlist

When you have a little time one evening how about making a playlist of all the songs you used to listen to as a teenager? I recently did this for a friend’s hen party and laughed so much as I kept finding more and more terrible/amazing songs from my younger years. This is the perfect playlist for a day when you feel a little low and need some cheering up – if R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition’ doesn’t have you beaming from ear to ear then there is something truly wrong.

 

3 Learn to knit

Or sew! I bought a knitting kit last week and have been trying my hand to make some booties. Turns out my Granny made it look easy and I have the coordination of a T. Rex. I’m trying not to rush it though and enjoy the process even though I have images of jamming the needles in my eyes. Those moments pass though and I’m sure I’ll make a lovely pair of booties in the next few years.

 

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4 Write a Letter

Receiving mail other than bills has to be one of the nicest surprises. I wrote a post about how we should all write more and to be honest I need to start taking my own advice. Taking the time to sit down and write down words you know might make someone smile is such a rewarding thing and so much better than sending a meme.

 

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5 Start a Garden

It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular but even growing a few pots of herbs on the windowsill can plant a seed (GET IT?!) of creativity. Start with something non-threatening like basil or rosemary and go from there.

 

6 Take a Class

This takes a little more effort but the impact could be even greater. There must be something that you have been hoping to learn more about but never have had the courage to just get up and do it so you know what – do that shit. There’s no time like the present so start that pottery/acting/clown class, leave all your insecurities at the door and expose yourself to not just a new skill but some new friends too.

 

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7 Move 

You might not think of yoga or exercise as creative but you can inject a little creativity in to your normal routine. Take your yoga mat somewhere different or plan a new route to jog. Make it your own and fun.

 

8 Start a Blog!

Hey, if I can do it anyone can. If you feel you have stories or ideas that you’d like to share, then bite the bullet and create your own space to do this. The hardest thing is to share the first post for fear of what people might think but people can actually be lovely and it could be one of the greatest things you do.

 

9 Make Your Own Products

This is such a simple way to not only save money but also educate yourself on what’s good for your skin. I have been trying to introduce essential oils and natural ingredients in to my skincare routine for a while and the easiest way to do this is to make my own products. If you need inspiration, you can check some of my previous posts here and here.

 

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10 DIY

When Andrew and I first moved in together, I had such a ball restoring and painting our Gumtree furniture. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on new things so we had to make pre-loved pieces our own. I borrowed a sander, took the tables and chairs out in the back garden and spent the best March weekend being a wee DIY-er. Your first project should be something easily achieved in a day so you’re not tempted to stop half-way. How about some new shelves or a spice rack? You’ll be a regular handy-andy in no time.

11 Paint

This is a tough one if art isn’t your thing but there are plenty of Youtube classes where you can learn the basics of watercolour. The kids can even get involved in this one in case you want to make it a family activity with the best pieces getting framed on the wall. Just don’t get angry if your child is more skillful with the paintbrush than you are.

12 Arrange Flowers

Seeing flowers throughout my house can bring my spirits up on the rainiest of days. I like to get a bunch on the weekend and then distribute them in different jars and vases. You can be even more creative by getting lots of individual stems from your local florist and designing your own bouquet as a gift – or for yourself obviously.

 

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13 Colouring In

I got an adult colouring book and I am not ashamed to say that it’s the best thing for winding down after a crappy day at work. It’s the one thing that really switches my brain off yet I’m able to use colour and imagination while doing it. Don’t bag it out as a trend but give it a go and let your inner child chill the feck out.

 

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14 Scrapbooking

I have started scrapbooking all the photos I have taken throughout the year as a way to archive all the memories that can get trapped on social media. It’s a great way to look back on all the happy times and serves as a reminder that things are pretty damn good. When you’re gluing in all your photos, try and write little stories to along with them and any tickets or receipts that you might have kept. It will be a much better way to hang on to the memories.

 

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15 Photography

With everyone having iPhones now there’s no excuse to not take advantage of having a decent camera in your pocket. For those who know me, I am always expected to take a photo at every possible opportunity which I can sometimes be a little conscious of. Having a love of photography means that you are constantly looking for the beautiful things in life, the small things that many take for granted. What I recommend doing is taking a long walk on your own, snapping anything that inspires you and then keeping them for your next scrapbook. Allowing yourself to be inspired is one of the best luxuries.

 

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16 Bake

Baking is a little different to cooking because your creativity is a little more controlled. There’s less opportunity to ‘wing it’ but when it comes to decoration, you can go wild. Next time there’s a birthday or special occasion coming up, how about offering to bake the cake? Spend an afternoon covered in flour and finish it off with a bit of bowl licking. Sure that’s why we bake anyway.

 

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17 Learn an Instrument

Could be something a little tricky like the guitar or go back to your primary school roots and pick up the recorder again. Making music doesn’t have to be intimidating but instead can be the chance to encourage a little confidence. Just don’t play ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ on repeat or your neighbour/housemate/partner may murder you.

18 Start a Journal

Starting a journal can be difficult because it’s hard to know where to start. There’s no point putting a lot of pressure on it but what you can do is carry a notebook in your bag and jot down any thoughts that come in to your head that day. Maybe start with a few lines in the morning describing how you’re feeling, some lyrics you heard on the radio or an idea you had in work. Journals don’t have to be that teenager epic with every emotion painfully analysed but can just be a log of all your wee musings of the day.

19 Bring Nature In

On your next adventure in to the wild/local park how about taking a few things home with you? You could collect some holly to decorate your fireplace, some shells from the beach or some berries for your dining table. Bringing nature inside allows us to appreciate the beauty of each season and all the colours that come with it. I even made myself an autumn wreath which I was really chuffed with which you can see here.

 

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 20 Try a New Hairstyle/Make-Up Routine

We can all get a little repetitive with our hair and make-up but how about spicing it up with something other than a messy bun? I’ve been wanting to learn how to do a proper crown braid for ages so I plan on sitting myself down in front of the mirror and taking the time to finally do it. Surprise your work mates with something new or at least get a laugh out of trying!

 

I hope these tips can encourage your inner creative to come out a little and that there a million ways to do it. Take the time to learn something new and above else, have fun doing it 🙂

 

A DIY Christmas Hamper

A DIY Christmas Hamper

There were a few days this past week where it felt that the sun had done a runner and left us in a perpetual state of dusk. Not seeing an inch of blue sky can definitely have its negative affects so I’m already feeling a little cheerier when I can see the low winter light streaming through the window, even if it’s just for half an hour!

 

Things have felt very busy this week and my bank account has taken such a battering in the last two months with trips away and now presents to buy that I’m afraid to even look at my statements! There is huge pressure to buy the most expensive gifts and not only that, pressure to have the house decorated, visit all our relatives and friends and drink our body weights in alcohol. Luckily there seems to be more and more people championing the simpler Christmas which I think helps to encourage less money spending and more thought.

 

In the spirit of this, I have decided against the usual mad rush of buying anything I think will do for my extended family in favour of making my own Christmas hampers filled with homemade products I think they will appreciate much more than a bottle of wine or another pair of gloves! I chose simple products that wouldn’t stress me out too much and I have staggered out the crafting process so I don’t feel overwhelmed and can actually enjoy it all.

 

I will list out a few of the things I’ve chosen to make however the gift of this is that you can be as flexible as you like and keep it minimal if it’s all you can manage.

 

ROSE PETAL BATH SALTS

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What You Need:

  • Petals from 4 roses
  • 20 drops of vanilla oil/essence
  • 3 cups of Epsom salts
  • Mini bags

These salts were embarrassingly easy to make and took all of about half an hour to make 18 small bags!

  1. The week before making them I bought a bunch of red roses when I was doing my groceries for £3 and enjoyed them until they were starting to wilt.
  2. When I knew their days were over, I took the heads off and sprinkled the petals in my Nutri Bullet. After a quick blitz the shredded petals were the most beautiful shade of crimson and the smell was A-MAZING.
  3. I added the petals to 3 cups of Epsom salts that were already in a bowl and added my vanilla drops.
  4. After thoroughly mixing through and feeling giddy with the pretty colours, I added them to the bags I had found on Amazon and they were good to go!

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CHRISTMAS SOAP

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What You Need:

  • ¾ Melt and Pour Soap Base Clear
  • Silicone Mould
  • 100 drops Orange Essential Oil
  • 50 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil
  • 20 drops Clove Bud Essential Oil
  • 3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • Pyrex Jug

This was a little trickier than the bath salts but well worth the smell it created in the kitchen I promise!

  1. First of all I cut the soap base in to cubes that would fit in to the moulds so I could guess how much I would need to melt.
  2. I then put the cubes in to the jug and placed in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so until the base was melted.
  3. Once fully melted I added my oils and ground cinnamon and mixed well.
  4. After this I poured the mix in to the moulds CAREFULLY because I wanted the top of the soap to be smooth and not pouring over the edges (not so pretty). I
  5. I placed the moulds on a tray to keep steady and then in the fridge to cool for 1-2 hours.
  6. Once they’re solid you can pop them out and then dress them up any way you please!

 

CHRISTMAS CANDLES

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What You Need:

  • 1kg soy wax flakes
  • 3 Jam Jars (or whatever you have – I keep Bonne Mamam jam jars for my candles)
  • 3 wicks – I got mine here
  • 20 drops of Orange Essential Oil per jar
  • 40 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil per jar
  • 15 drops Clove Bud Essential Oil per jar

I play it a bit fast and loose with making these so the guidelines are pretty rough but easy to follow I hope! What’s handy is that you have similar ingredients to your Christmas soap so you can make your candles while your soaps are setting in the fridge (I paint a very calm picture don’t I?!).

  1. I placed my jam jars in a big pan filled about to about 2 inches deep of boiling water and then scooped about 18 tablespoons in to the jars. Make sure and take time when adding the wax as it reduces down as it melts so you will have to add them gradually.
  2. Once all your wax has melted and your jars are almost full, take the jars out of the pan and then add your essential oils.
  3. The final step is to place one wick in the centre and make sure it sticks to the bottom of the jar by using sticks to hold it in place (I laid kebab sticks across the jar and placed the wick in between so it didn’t fall away from the centre). This is the trickiest part and might take some patience!
  4. Wait for the candles to set and then cut your wick down to an appropriate length et voila!

 

LAVENDER HAND WASH

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What You Need:

  • Soap dispensers
  • Jug
  • 2 cups of castile soap
  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 4 tbsp sweet almond oil
  • 4 tbsp vitamin E oil
  • 20 drops of Witch Hazel
  • 40 drops of lavender essential oil

This recipe allowed me to make 4 of these bad boys and it took all of about 10 minutes #winning

  1. Using your jug, pour in your water first and then castile soap (prevents lots of bubbles) and then your essential oils.
  2. Give it a good shake around and then you are done!

 

WHIPPED SHEA & OLIVE OIL BODY BUTTER

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What You Need:

  • 1 cup shea butter
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 30 – 40 drops of vanilla essential oil
  • 2 x 500ml glass jars

This is a fairly messy process so one tip I have is to wash your utensils straight away after using!

  1. Scoop your shea butter in to a pan and gently melt.
  2. Gradually add your olive oil
  3. Add essential oils and remove from heat
  4. Once cooled, place the pan in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until the mixture has almost solidified
  5. Using a hand held mixer, whip the mixture until you get a light, airy texture.
  6. Spoon the mixture in your containers and they are good to use for a few months.

 

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I hope this provides a little insight in to how easy homemade gifts can be to make. All it takes is a little preparation and motivation on these dark evenings but the outcome is so worth it! Make sure to add some little Christmas themed sweets or crackers to try and beef out the box a little otherwise you can use some more of my crafting recipes here and here to help inspire you a little more!

 

Happy crafting x

Homemade Autumn Wreath

Homemade Autumn Wreath

I have heard that the eskimo have many many words which can be translated as ‘snow’. This is something that we Irish can identify with since in Ireland there are about a million different kinds of descriptions for rainfall. Lying on the edge of Europe has left us vulnerable to the elements, the Atlantic battering us with whatever remnants she has left of a forgotten hurricane or storm. We are at her mercy and as a result we have rain in our blood and in our conversations as our lives and decisions are so determined by the presence and absence of it.

 

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The different kinds of rain can be welcomed or dreaded depending on the time of year or the character of the rain itself. There is the torrential sun shower which is revered since it breaks up a rare stint of solid sunshine that is at first embraced by everyone but is soon complained about because “it’s almost too hot, you know?”. This kind of rain falls fast and hard but it is fleeting like a first love, the perfect kind of rain really and if you’re lucky there might be some thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure.

 

Soft rain is probably my least favourite for it is incessant and soaks through slowly. My Mum would always say it’s the most dangerous since it can fool you in to thinking you’re not actually all that damp. This rain reminds me of the days I used to play camogie because it would never be enough to call off a game but yet the hurl would be slipping through my fingers constantly making it even more difficult than usual to play (I was never that good).

 

There is also the horizontal rain that is usually accompanied by gale winds that will practically lift you off your feet and make going outside feel like preparing for an expedition. There’s the rain that that doesn’t leave for days and makes you forget what the sky looks like. The rain that leaves a welcome chill in the air. The rain that makes it more humid and sticky than before it came. The rain that threatens for hours to come and will the moment you decide to leave the house.

 

Autumn brings with it all kinds of rains and although I’m sad that the weekends where every moment can be spent outdoors are more than likely over, I secretly love that I am now having to be a little more creative with how I choose to spend my precious days off while the rain is insistently persistent outside. My crafternoons are a selfish joy of mine and even though I’m not artistic in any way, I love creating things that I can display or give as wee gifts.

 

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I’m a Pinterest fiend (you can follow my boards here) and saw someone posted an Autumn wreath that looked amazing but easy – right up my alley! So last Saturday I took myself off to Holywood for a browse through the florist and picked up some eucualyptus, a chrysanthemum and some wire for my own wreath. That evening I sat at the table waiting for dinner to cook with some friends, and some wine of course, and made it all on my own! I was relieved at how easy it was – and how great it looked! – and it’s now sitting proudly above my fireplace.

 

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Yes the rain is here and yes it might stop us from exploring the places we want go at times but instead of complaining I plan on taking advantage of the days to be spent indoors. I might get plenty more projects on the go. I might bake more. I might even start knitting. Or I might not do any of those things except just sit by the fire, wrap myself in a big blanket, keep an ear to the window and listen to the rain. No matter what kind it is.

 

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Autumn Wreath

  • Few long branches of eucalyptus
  • One chrysanthamum
  • Few wires

There is not much in way of method here except just bind the eucalyptus and wire around each other in a circle! I used a few lengths of wire and curled the ends behind leaves to disguise them but using a few wires helped bend a little better. I just cut the stem a couple of inches below the flower at an angle and poked it between a section that looked a bit bare. I dipped the stem in sugar in the hope it might help the flower stay alive a little longer but I’m not sure if this actually works or not!!!

 

Happy crafting!!

Pre-Wedding Care Package

Pre-Wedding Care Package

This weekend I will be flying over to England to watch my dear friend Rachel make the promise of a lifetime to the love of her life. Weddings are incredibly special and to be asked to be a part of someone’s day is always lovely since it means such a great deal to the people involved.

 

Rachel and I lived together along with two other girls throughout the four years of university in Edinburgh. These years were formative for me when I look back on them because I had so much to learn on my own and they watched me fail quite a lot. Failing at making it to any morning lecture, failing to be sober for more than a few days, failing at making any meal that didn’t involve spuds. Honestly it’s still a mystery how I managed to get through those years!

 

It’s so great to still have these friendships now that we’re a little older and not much wiser. Unfortunately we’re scattered across the UK and Ireland which means when these lovely weddings do take place, it’s not always kind on the pockets. I’ve written a blog post before on how to afford the difficult wedding season at an age where it seems your entire Facebook clan are getting hitched (see that post here) and unfortunately I had to make the decision not to attend Rach’s hen party because I couldn’t afford it and the wedding together.

 

The guilt when you have to let someone down is awful but a fair few of us have to make these tough choices. As a way of letting her know that I was thinking of her in the lead up to her special day, I decided to make a little care package for her. I’ve witnessed the stress some brides feel in the days before so I thought a wee parcel filled with some light-hearted gifts might make her smile.

 

This gift box was focused on thoughtfulness rather than a big budget and I wanted to include things that I could relate to her wedding. After some brainstorming, I came up with these treats…

 

  • Cosy socks – for the unlikely chance that she may get cold feet
  • Mini bottle of Prosecco – to calm the nerves over breakfast
  • Pretty tissues – to help dry her eyes and keep her make-up in tact
  • Homemade Lavender Pillow Spray – to make sure she gets a good night sleep
  • Homemade Lip Balm – to keep those peckers altar-ready (find out how to make your own here)
  • Homemade Lavender Soap – just because they’re pretty and they smell nice (and again, learn how to make them here)

 

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I really loved putting this together and it’s made me think that it would be a great idea for a different time of year that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet (it rhymes with Shishmas). Crafting your own little presents involves so much more thought than just buying a 2 for 1 out of the shop down the street and I reckon it makes the gift giving that wee bit more special.

 

Good luck to Rachel & Heather on their wedding day!!

Homemade Lavender Soap

Homemade Lavender Soap

Before we flew to Croatia for our summer holiday this year, I had read that the islands we were hoping to visit grew lots of lavender and that you could take excursions to the farms to see them in peak season. Now, I know full well that visiting lavender farms wouldn’t have been high on Andrew’s priority list, or most people’s, but I had this image of us driving a scooter around the island with the smell of lavender in the air, purple hills rolling in the distance, Yann Tiersen playing in the background, that whole European cinema vibe thing.

 

When we got to Hvar I found out we had just missed the lavender season and that they had celebrated the big lavender festival in late June – gutted. Despite my disappointment, and Andrew’s relief, there was still so much to buy because the crops had just been harvested. There was still that smell in the air that I had daydreamed about when we walked past the market stalls and of course I bought as much as I could.

 

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Now that I’m home and I have given most of the lavender away to a few bewildered family members (I don’t think anyone seems to appreciate lavender or its smell as much as I do), I’m left with bags of the stuff that will more than likely sit in our spare room alongside our other souvenirs unless I think of ways I can use them.

 

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I’ve been planning on making my own soap for a while and have had molds and goat’s milk base waiting patiently to be used for the last number of months. Having an abundance of lavender seemed like the perfect opportunity to create something lovely with my lonely apparatus and it turns out that it is embarrassingly simple!

 

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I chose to use a little lavender oil, some honey and lemon zest with my fresh lavender to bring out as many good smells as possible (my sense of smell is shocking so I need to double the quantities of recommended servings of essential oils in order to smell anything)! The recipe only requires a few things you might not have lying around but I got base and molds from Amazon so it’s not too difficult!

 

I plan on giving these out to friends at a dinner party this weekend. I love that when I say dinner party it sounds like a sophisticated gathering but really it’s just a bunch of girls drinking wine and talking about their dogs. Speaking of, I’m the only one without a dog and this weekend we’re looking after my sister’s Cocker Spaniel, Bella, who I hope will win Andrew over and make him realise that dogs are just about the best thing that can happen to anyone!

 

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I hope the girls will like them because I’ve been loving the smell they have brought in to the house. I still have lots of lavender to use though so next up I think is Lavender Pillow S

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Homemade Lip Balm

Homemade Lip Balm

Ireland is an island of many seasons and these constant changes can cause havoc with our skin. We all endeavour to protect our skin during the summer with plenty of SPF and exfoliation but our lips are often ignored. The weather here is so changeable that our peckers can become chapped and dry, traits which just aren’t attractive for our smiles.

 

I was looking around for recipes for homemade lip balm because I only wanted to use natural ingredients. I’m trying really hard to cut down on all the chemicals I use on my skin and face so when I find myself needing a remedy for my body, I’m looking more and more to products that aren’t harsh on my skin. I found a really simple guide to making homemade lip balm that nourishes lips and keeps them lovely and moisturised (and glossy!) and decided to give it a whirl.

 

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The recipe can be modified any way you like so you can include different essential or flavour oils although I chose vanilla extract because it reminds me of summer! I also ordered some cute labels from this Etsy shop so I can give some of my homemade products to friends and family – maybe one day I might even sell them!

 

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp beeswax pellets
  • 750 IU Vitamin E
  • 20 drops of vanilla extract

You’ll also need some small containers for the balm – I ordered some of these from Amazon.

Method

In a microwave proof container with a spout, heat the pellets and the coconut oil together 30 seconds at a time until the mixture is completely melted. Add the vanilla extract and completely mix through. Pour the mixture in to the containers and leave to set for half an hour. You’ll find the mixture sets really quickly so make sure to move fast! I got about 400ml out of this recipe, enough to fill 40 containers – lots to give out to friends!

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Vanilla & Coconut Oil Body Scrub

Vanilla & Coconut Oil Body Scrub

We’re well in to our summer here and we have been lucky enough to enjoy a lot of good weather recently i.e. more than 2 consecutive days of sunshine! People in Ireland tend to shed their clothes and sun bathe in temperatures most other countries wouldn’t even consider shorts but the sun has been consistent and there are fewer pasty bodies about Belfast these days.

 

It’s great to see freckles appear on my face and a real life tan developing naturally but with tan comes great responsibility. Peeling skin ain’t a good look for anyone and I’ve discovered how important exfoliation is in maintaining (i.e. clinging on to) this tan for as long as I can. By giving your body a good scrub, you’re exposing newer skin cells that are better at absorbing the sun and keeping the tan. Just make sure to keep moisturised and your skin protected!

 

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I decided to make my own body scrub because the 3 ingredients I needed didn’t require me to leave the house – win!! It is also very easy to make and it’s a great idea to give as a gift to anyone who might be heading away on holiday. It’s inspired me to make mini versions for lip scrub as well!

 

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If you want to have a whirl at making your own body scrub just follow the below instructions…

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of solid coconut oil
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extra

 

Method

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use a hand mixer to whip up the ingredients so they look creamy
  • Make sure not to whip for too long or the mixture will separate – if this happens you can pop it in the freezer for a bit
  • Pop the mixture in to your containers
  • Et vóila! Get to scrubbin’!

 

Seriously it is that easy. And surprisingly tasty! Although try to save it for your skin 😉

 

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