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and other joys in life

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It’s the Season of Gift-Giving: Think Outside the Christmas Box

Christmas is just around the corner!  It’s that time of year to start buying gifts for loved ones.  I love giving gifts.  However, I really hate it when you don’t have an awesome gift for someone and end up getting them something just to get them something.  That’s pretty silly, right?  I mean, sure it’s the thought that counts.  But, why waste your money if the person will never use your gift?  And don’t you feel especially loved when you know someone really thought about your gift, and personalized it to your taste? 

I’d rather not receive a gift than receive one that I can tell someone just randomly picked up to fulfill the obligation of getting me something.

I challenge you this year to give meaningful gifts; ones that will be used and not wasted.  There are some people that are easy and fun to shop for.  Maybe they give you a specific list, or perhaps the person has similar taste as you (like my sister).  There are others that seem to have everything (like my parents), or are really picky (like my husband). 

So my gift to you- a few ideas for gift giving.

Homemade- if you know someone that shares the passion you do regarding what goes in or on their body, make them something like lotion, bath salts, body scrub, body wash, brownie mix, pancake mix, the list goes on and on.  Check out Crunchy Betty and others’ blogs for ideas.  This link takes you to her kid’s list, but you can easily find other ideas for women and men.

Herbal Bath Sachets from Crunchy Betty.

Herbal Bath Sachets from Crunchy Betty.

Local- if you don’t have the time or energy to make something, look local.  Local food- coffee, brews, bread, tea, chocolate, etc.  Local products- candles, bath and body, etc.  A few examples:chocolate

  • Askinosie Chocolate: a local chocolate factory in Springfield, MO that builds relationships with cocoa farmers and produces the most delicious chocolate ever!  They are very picky throughout the process, and each chocolate bar you buy tells you the name of the farmer and where it came from.
  • Heroes Coffee: Wake Up. Do Good. Repeat. That’s their motto.  These folks are super-duper awesome, recognize people and organizations that ‘do good’, and roast ridiculously good coffee (and they sell tea, equipment, and more). 
  • Mother’s Brewery: Craft beer made with mother’s love.  What more can you ask for?  They brew love… enough said. PS- Winter Grind (and Mr. Pumpkin in the fall) is my favorite.

And if you have that person that wouldn’t appreciate homemade lotion any more than a Walmart brand, or doesn’t relish good food, why not give a gift in their name?

A little girl receiving her health kit from Food for the Hungry.

A little girl receiving her health kit from Food for the Hungry.

  • Kiva gives loans out to people around the world for personal and business costs.  The person then pays you back, and you can give the money to someone else.  My sister got me a gift certificate a while back, and I’ve helped out a few farmers in various countries, and most recently a Palestinian man buy medicinal herbs for his shop!
  • Food for the Hungry has a gift catalog where you can purchase a gift of water, animals, school supplies, pastor training, healthcare, and many other things- to help people around the world.
  • Or be original, and give a goat.  Chivas Goat Milk Skin Care has partnered with The Nomad Foundation to donate a herd of goats to the nomadic Tuareg people of Niger.  When you purchase the gift ($52), a goat will be donated in the recipient’s name to the tribe.  And, the recipient gets a gift box with goat milk bar soap.

So this year, think outside the Christmas box.  Think jars, bottles, and food for the hungry!



Apple Cider Vinegar for Beautiful Skin (and hair)

I think I’m on a train to hippie-ville.  If I keep it up, I will be making all of my home and body products (with the exception of makeup, hairspray and toothpaste) by the end of the year.  Or sooner.

I love the oil-cleansing method; it worked a serious miracle on my skin.  However, my complexion still isn’t perfect.  It’s still just a bit oily, and I have red spots from acne scars and such.

That’s when I decided to make my own toner.

Have you experimented much with apple cider vinegar (ACV)?  I’ve always loved it for salad dressing and to catch gnats… but never thought of it for beauty.

ACV is supposed to balance the pH of your skin (and hair), which is naturally slightly acidic.  For skin, it helps balance complexion; your skin can find that happy place between oily and dry.  It helps to soften skin, and reduces red marks and blemishes.  ACV absorbs oil and kills bacteria (making it a great acne treatment).

ACV helps to soften and smooth hair (by closing the cuticle), and detangles.

And perhaps best of all- it is INCREDIBLY cheap and easy.

Be sure to get the good stuff- organic, raw, and unfiltered- to enjoy all these benefits.  Even the high quality ACV is just a few dollars.  And since you dilute it (always dilute it!), a bottle will last you a while!

I just started a new hair routine, which uses ACV as a rinse.  Since I’m not sure the outcome, and will be experimenting- I’ll share it later.  But in the meantime here is what I do for my skin.  Brace yourself…

1 part ACV

2 parts distilled water

Mix them and apply to your face with a cotton pad or washcloth.

Think you can handle that?  Keep in mind that you may need to dilute it a little more, depending on your skin type.  You can also use an herbal infusion for water (e.g. chamomile tea), or add anything else (e.g., tea tree oil).

Side note- check out the other health benefits of ACV when consumed- it is believed to reduce sinus infections, balance high cholesterol, fight allergies, strengthen immune system, increase metabolism, prevent UTI… and the list goes on.


Natural Living- Wash your Face with Oil

I’ve found myself becoming more and more interested in making products for home and body.  It started out as a simple all-purpose cleaner to save money, and after falling in love that turned into window cleaner, laundry detergent and wood polish. 

My sister told me how great the ‘oil cleansing method’ is (for your face).  I’ve always had super sensitive skin, and battled with breakouts.  I thought, “no way am I putting oil on my already oily, acne-prone skin!”  Well… I tried it.  And. I LOVE it!  It gets rid of makeup, and leaves my skin healthy feeling- not stripped.  It makes me angry at commercial products and medicine for failing me all these years… but that’s a whole other conversation! 

Now, I don’t like to reinvent the wheel.  So instead of writing much about specific things I’ve made, I will lead you to some people who have lots of information and recipes.

The best blog I’ve found for all things homemade- for home and body- is Crunchy Betty, You have food on your face.  She has a great post on the oil cleansing method, along with many others.

Here is a great article on what the oil cleansing method is, how to do it, and why it works.

Everyone is different, but for my sensitive, oily but can get dry, acne-prone skin… I use about 60% castor oil, 40% sunflower oil, and tea tree oil.

Let me tell you, this seriously is a miracle for me.  I’ve been using clindamycin (topical) and prescription Retinol for the past year.  It worked okay at ridding the acne… but my skin was still irritated and sad.  Also, I always knew it wasn’t a ‘forever’ fix considering the toxins I was putting in my body.  When I started the oil cleansing method I planned on continuing the prescriptions for a while.  However after seeing such wonderful results, I’ve quit using them altogether.  In the past 4 weeks (since beginning the oil cleansing method), I’ve had 2 pimples.  Two very small pimples, that were gone within 1-2 days.  The hubs even said my skin looks good.  Score!

Everyone’s skin is different, so I hope others have the beautiful experience I have with the oil cleansing method.  Have you tried it?  Or, what else do you use to clean your face?