Friday, June 29, 2012

DIY Beauty: Olive Oil Eye Makeup Remover

For years I have used olive oil as skin lotion and as a dry hair treatment. After months of getting traditional eye makeup remover in my eyes, I was on a mission to come up with something natural that would do the same job as the unnatural. I grabbed my little squeezy bottle of olive oil and and put a few drops on a cotton ball, VOILA! The eye makeup and water-proof mascara came right off! So here's how I did it.

olive oil
cotton ball
travel size bottle with lid

Step 1: Fill a travel-sized bottle (I found one at Target for 88 cents!) with olive oil. Make sure the lid fits securely so that oil does not leak onto anything if you decide to throw the bottle into your makeup bag. Note: do a skin allergy test with a drop of olive oil on your wrist before applying it to your eye lids.

Step 2: Apply a few drops to a cotton ball and wipe eye lids. It may take a few swipes of the cotton ball to get lids and lashes clean depending on how much makeup you are wearing. Wipe excess oil away with cotton ball.

Now you've got beautifully, naturally clean eyes ready for your next night out!
Happy beautifying,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DIY Chef: An Easy Appetizer

I love Caprese salad! Caprese is a simple Italian salad comprised of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and seasoned with a balsamic vinegar reduction, salt and olive oil. Since I like experimenting with ways to prepare foods I love, I decided to change-up my Caprese salad recipe. Instead of basil, I substituted a yummy avocado and used smaller roma tomatoes. Here is how I did it.

large plate or serving platter
sauce pan
olive oil
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1 Roma tomato
1 avocado
whole mozzarella (not shredded)
sea salt

Step 1: In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium/low heat. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until balsamic has reduced to a glaze. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Allow to cool. Note: DO NOT leave pan unattended, balsamic vinegar reduction will turn into an ooey-gooey burned mess!

Step 2: Slice mozzarella into about 1/2" thick squares (or circles, depending upon the shape of your mozzarella.) Arrange mozzarella pieces on serving plate. 10 pieces will feed 2-3 people.

Step 3: Slice tomatoes about 1/4" thick and place on top of mozzarella.

Step 4:  Slice avocado and place on top of tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction over entire salad. Sprinkle sea salt over top and enjoy!

Now you have an easy and super delicious appetizer for a summer party or a weeknight dinner.
Happy cooking,

Monday, June 25, 2012

DIY Chef: Date Night Popcorn

Some of our favorite dates have been at home, sharing a movie and a snack. I threw together this delicious and low-fat popcorn mix that includes, roasted almonds, dried cranberries and popcorn. Make it for your next family movie night or an at-home date night. Here is how I did it:

measuring cup
air popper or deep pan with lid and handles
pop corn kernels
Canola oil
popcorn salt
dried cranberries
dry roasted almonds (we love Emerald)
large serving bowl

Step 1: Using an air popper: pop kernels per poppers directions. 
Using a deep pan: coat bottom of pan with Canola oil, usually 1 Tbsp is enough to coat large pan. Note: using too much oil will make your popcorn heavy, chewy and oily!

Step 2: Put pan on high heat, place one kernel in pan. When kernel pops, you can then add 1/2 cup kernels to hot pan. Cover with lid. Using pot holders, grasp pan's handles, gently shake pan back and forth so kernels will not burn. DO NOT leave pan unattended, popcorn will burn!  Note: a ½ cup of unpopped kernels will yield about 4 quarts/16 cups of popped popcorn. This will serve 2-3 people.  

Step 3: After popcorn has popped, remove from heat. Pour into serving bowl and sprinkle popcorn salt throughout. Be careful not to add too much salt. (I've ruined many a perfect bowl of popcorn with way too much salt, so taste testing is highly recommended!)

Step 4: Add 1 cup almonds and 1 cup dried cranberries to popcorn. Mix thoroughly. 
Note: For a chocolatey version, add 1 cup m&m's to your almond, cranberry & popcorn mixture :)

Now you have a yummy snack for a fun night at home!
Happy popping,

Friday, June 22, 2012

DIY Inside: Table Scape

If you know me, you know of my love for hosting. I will find any excuse to have a dinner, bbq, or a party because I love to cook and decorate! First and most importantly, I make sure the food is the center piece on a beautiful table. Today, I have created a "girlfriend's lunch" table scape. A table scape sets the mood for your event and lets your guests know that they are important and loved. Use 3 elements to inspire your table: fire, water & earth. Here is how I did it:

Fabric (cut to length of your table)
mason jar filled with water (water element)
fresh flowers
tea light candles (fire element)
books and/or favorite knick-knacks
treebranch or smooth stones (earth element)

Step 1: Measure your table's length. Purchase enough fabric to cover length of table. I purchased this chevron striped material at Hancock fabrics for about $2/yd. Fabric should measure about a yard in width. Fold fabric so that it is 1/3 the width of your table and position in center of table.

Step 2: Purchase fresh flowers at your local grocer's or cut from your own garden and place in mason jar filled with water. This will be the center piece of your table scape. Cut a pretty ribbon and tie around your mason jar vase.

Step 3: Gather items you love. Since this scape is for a girlfriend lunch, I chose books that I loved as a little girl. I added small vintage glass jars & vases that belonged to my grandma. I cut flowers out of a greeting card and glued them on to toothpicks for one of the small jars. I placed a tealight candle in a small globe beside books. Arrange these items on one side of your fresh flower center piece.

Step 4: Add a few small meaningful items to the other side of the center piece. I found some pretty stones and wrote the words, "beautiful, strong, and determined" on them. My daughter picked some small cloves, so I put them in a vintage tincture glass bottle alongside the stones.

Step 5: Arrange place settings, silverware and food around the table scape. Now you are ready for a perfect afternoon of food, conversation and friends.

Happy scaping,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DIY Chef: Iced Coffee

One of my favorite summer time indulgences is iced coffee. It's so easy to make and is a refreshing pick-me-up on hot days. Here is how I do it:

instant coffee (I like Starbucks Via individual packets)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder (gives your iced coffee a mocha flavor)
2 Tbsp non-dairy creamer (I use Coffee Mate lactose/gluten free non-dairy powder)
1 Tbsp honey (optional)
ground cinnamon
tall drinking cup
coffee cup 

Step 1:  In a coffee cup, combine instant coffee packet (or follow directions on instant coffee label for 1 cup of coffee), dash of ground cinnamon, 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp non-dairy creamer powder (you can substitute liquid non-dairy creamer), 1 Tbsp honey (for sweetness).  Add hot water to cup and stir ingredients.

Step 2: Allow brewed coffee to cool for 10 minutes. Pour cooled coffee into a tall drinking cup filled with ice. Stir and enjoy!

Happy Summer,

Monday, June 18, 2012

DIY Special: A Sentimental Souvenir

My husband and I spent a wonderful weekend camping and hiking at the river. We were celebrating our anniversary, so it was a special trip full of great memories. While we were on the rocky beach having a stone-skipping contest, I found a pretty, smooth, heart-shaped rock. I put it in my pocket and thought about how I could make it into a keepsake to remember this special time. So here's what I did:

-a pretty memento like a shell, rock, beach glass, acorn...etc.
-magnet (strong enough to hold your object)
-acrylic paint (choose colors that you love!)
-hot glue gun & glue gun sticks
-pan for paint (I like to use the styrofoam pans that portobello mushrooms are sold in)
-paint brushes
-fine tip sharpie (optional)

Step 1: Find a small memento during your trip. It should be light and thin enough to be used as a magnet.

Step 2: Pour the colors of paint into your pan that you will be using on your souvenir. 

Step 3: Paint your memento. Make it special like a scene from your trip or the name of the city you visited. I used a fine tip Sharpie to write letters on my rock.

Step 4: Let paint dry before attaching magnet. Attach your magnet to the back of your souvenir with hot glue. Let glue dry for 10 minutes before using. Note: Keep hot glue gun out of reach of children and pets!

Now you can enjoy some memories every time you pass the fridge!

Happy memories,

Friday, June 15, 2012

DIY Chef: Almost Homemade Salsa

I never tire of salsa. I like it on salads, chicken, chips, name it, I'd probably eat it with salsa. I enjoy making homemade salsa with fresh ingredients like tomatoes and cilantro from my backyard. But one day, on a whim I decided to experiment with my salsa recipe and use pantry items. It turned out very tasty and I didn't spend 20 minutes chopping veggies! Warning: I don't like to measure, so excuse my overuse of "dashes", "shakes", and "squeezes.". So here's how I did it:

Blender or food processor
1 can Rotel
1 can diced tomatoes
lime juice
garlic (cloves or powder)
purple onion (optional)

Step 1: In a blender pour in Rotel and canned diced tomatoes.
Step 2: Add lime juice (squeeze of 1 lime or 1 Tbsp of bottled lime juice)
Step 3: Add 2-3 shakes of garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic
Step 4: Add fresh cilantro to taste. (Add as much or little as you like. I like 3-4 pinches from bundle.)
Step 5: Add salt to taste. I like 3 dashes, but adjust to how salty you like your salsa.
Step 6: Dice half of purple onion and add to blender. (3-4 dashes onion powder can be substituted.)
Step 7: Pulse 4 times (Pulse longer if you like smoother salsa.)

Serve with chips or top chicken dishes with this tasty salsa!
Note: For a slightly sweet salsa, add 1 Tbsp honey or Agave nectar.

Happy almost cooking,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DIY Beauty: Shimmery Shadow

Recently, I've had a lot of people ask me about my shimmering eye shadow so I thought I would do a tutorial on it so everyone could have sparkly eyes! Here is how I did it:

Eye shadow brush
Eye shadow primer
2 metallic eye shadows
Highlighting (lighter) eye shadow
Dark eye shadow

Step 1: On a clean eyelid, apply eye shadow primer. I love Too Faced "Shadow Insurance"($18 at Sephora.) Primer is expensive but it keeps your eye shadow on all day long and it also brightens eye shadow color.

Step 2: After blending primer onto lid, I apply concealer to lid (with finger) to even out skin tone.

Step 3: Apply a base layer of metallic shadow, stopping before brow bone. I like Color Tattoo (cream shadow by Maybelline $7 at drugstore) in Bold Gold, but use a metallic color that you like best!

Step 4: Apply a highlighting (lighter) shadow to brow bone

Step 5: Choose another metallic shadow. I like Wet'n'Wild trios ($2 at drugstore). Apply on lid up to crease.

Step 6: To add depth and make your eyes appear larger, apply a dark shadow to crease only. Again, I used Wet'n'Wild trios in a dark purple.

Step 7: Add eyeliner and mascara to finish your look. Now you have a pretty, silver & gold shimmery eye that's great for an evening out.

Before and After

Here are some bright & bold ideas using more of the Color Tattoo by EyeStudio cream shadows.

Happy creating,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DIY: A Father's Day Gift

My husband is somewhat hard to buy gifts for. He is very particular about clothes and cologne, gadgets and music. But over the years, I've realized he really enjoys homemade gifts. It can be anything from cookies to a painted wooden box to keep guitar picks in, he truly loves ideas from the heart. My girls and I spent the morning crafting a sweet little photo project for their special guy. Here is how we did it:

Marker or pencil
White cardstock ( I used 11x14" whiteboard from Target $2)

Step 1: You will be drawing and cutting out the letters "D" and "A" to spell the word DAD. You will only need to draw and cut out one "D" and one "A". Using your ruler, draw letter "D" with pencil or marker onto cardstock.

Step 2: Cut "D" out.

Step 3: On a separate piece of cardstock, draw letter "A" and cut it out.

Step 4: Photograph your children holding the letters. Get creative and remember it doesn't have to be a perfect shot!

 Step 5: Print your photos and frame them. I printed (3) 4x6's at Walgreens for 52 cents!

Now you have a beautiful and meaningful gift for the hero in your children's lives.

Things to remember:
-I gray-scaled my photos, but feel free to keep them colorful.
-White letters will have the most contrast in photos.
-Choose a pretty or interesting background to photograph in front of.
-The letters do not have to be perfect, it is made to look like your children cut them out. If they are old enough, let them do the tracing and cutting themselves.

Happy gifting,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DIY Health: Relaxation

For me, a long hot bath is the perfect ending to a stressful day. Since I like to make my own beauty products, I ventured into spa territory for some worthwhile "me" time. Here is an easy step-by-step recipe for making your own spa salts. I realize that some people prefer long, hot showers vs. baths, so this recipe is also great as a foot soak! 

-A glass or plastic container that has a lid. Container will be used to store spa salts, so it should not be re-used for food storage.
-Measuring Cup and Tablespoon
-Sea Salt
-Epsom Salt
-Essential Oil

Step 1: Purchase ingredients from your local grocer. Essential oil can be found at natural foods stores. Prices range from $4 and up for a bottle of essential oil.
Step 2: Test your essential oil (1 drop) on a small area of your skin to rule out allergies. Oil scents range from invigorating to calming, so depending on how you want to feel, choose the oil that you like best!
Step 3: In a glass or plastic container, mix:
 2 Tablespoons sea salt
1/2 cup epsom salt
3-8 drops essential oil (more than 8 drops could overwhelm your senses, so adjust accordingly to how strong you want the essential oil aroma.)
Step 4: Stir ingredients until mixed well (with utensil that will not be used in food preparation.)
Store with lid on tightly in a cool place.

Yield: This recipe yields one bath or foot soak.

How to use: Pour spa salts into running bath. Go grab a book, light a candle and put island thoughts into that stressed-out noggin'. Enjoy.

Note: Ask your doctor before using essential oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Keep oil out of the reach of children and pets.

Happy relaxing,

Monday, June 11, 2012

DIY Style: How to Wear Colored Jeans

I love the colorful jean trend, but I've noticed it can be worn in unflattering ways. I think the biggest mistake women make is pairing the colored jean with brightly colored tops and shoes, turning themselves into a walking rainbow.

For this tutorial, I created the two outfits below on polyvore. Polyvore is a great online tool that allows you to put outfits together virtually...and watch out, it's addictive!
When putting an outfit together, I like to include 3 elements:
1) texture
2) color
3) pattern

Here are five steps using the 3 elements to make a colored jean flatter you.
Step 1: Choose a jean that fits your body type. A boot cut jean suits most body types, while skinny and straight-leg jeans accentuate how large or small your upper-body is.
Step 2: Pair a neutral top with your colored jean. A looser top pairs well with a skinny-leg jean while a fitted top pairs best with a boot cut or flared-leg jean.

Step 3: Choose a shoe that gives a textural element to your outfit. 
Step 4: Accessorize your outfit with a patterned scarf, belt or handbag (but not all three together.)
Step 5: Your colored jean is your color element, so wearing large colorful pieces along with your jean will make the pieces compete against each other making your outfit appear confusing to the eye.

Happy styling with these 5 easy steps!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

DIY Inside: A Housewarming Bouquet

Flowers are a great symbol of a new beginning. So, I like to give flowers (and receive them) as gifts. I prefer homemade arrangements vs. stylized floral shop versions. Here is a simple but beautiful yard bouquet, perfect for a housewarming gift. Since our yard has a variety of flowering plants, ornamental grasses and evergreen trees, I like to cut the arrangement from my own flowers. But, if you don't have your own flowers, purchase a loose bouquet at your local grocer and arrange them with this tutorial.

As a general rule, I like to arrange a bouquet with three elements. 
1) a greenery base 
2) focal piece 
3) accent piece

After I have collected these three elements from my yard, I then arrange them by height. 
greenery= tallest
focal pieces= medium 
accent pieces= shortest 

Choose a vase that is appropriate for the height of your arrangement.
For vases, I like to repurpose vintage glass milk bottles, wine bottles, glass soda bottles, and mason jars. The vase I used in this demonstration is a vintage glass milk bottle that I found at a thrift store for around $2.

Tools you'll need: Gloves, gardening shears or scissors, vase, (ribbon and paper optional.)

Step 1: Collect your 3 elements from your yard or grocery store bouquet.
-Greenery base (ornamental grasses, evergreen branches, or any non-flowering green plants)
-Focal pieces (these are large bright colored flowers)
-Accent pieces (smaller sized flowers, berries on vines, or interesting twigs)

Step 2: Arrange your elements from tallest to shortest. Greenery, focal, then accent pieces.
Step 3: Add a pretty ribbon to your vase and Voila! Now you have a beautiful, personal and easy housewarming (or anytime) gift for someone special.

Step 4: Add a message like "Welcome to the Neighborhood" to vase to make your gift more personal.

Happy creating!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

DIY Style: T-Shirt Necklace

I found a great Pinterest tutorial on t-shirt necklaces and decided to try it myself. 
I love how it turned out! So here's how I did it. 

Step 1: Get an old t-shirt (you will be cutting it up, so the only thing that matters about the shirt is the color you want) I bought 5 tees at my neighborhood thrift store for $1 each.
Step 2: Cut Shirt width-wise, trimming off stitched edge at bottom of shirt. (You will need a sharp pair of scissors to get through t-shirt fabric!)

Step 3: After stitching is cut off, cut shirt width-wise creating a long continous ring of fabric. Each ring should be at least 1/2" in width, the wider the fabric, the thicker your necklace will be. Cut as many rings as you like. More rings will make your necklace appear larger and bolder. Fewer rings will give you a more delicate looking necklace.
Step 4: Stretch your fabric rings. Stretching will make rough scissored edges disappear!

Step 5: Gather your rings and double them over. This creates a shorter, fuller necklace. 
Or, wear this sweet necklace as long rings for a bohemian look.

Here are a few examples on how to wear your new necklace!

Happy styling,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DIY Chef: My Favorite Salad Dressing

A delicious Honey Balsamic vinaigrette from thekitchenista.comGreat on salads and chicken!

• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
• Sea salt
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Tools and Equipment
• Bowl
• Measuring cups and spoons
• Whisk or fork
• Spoon (for tasting)

Add ingredients to bowl and whisk together.

Makes about 3/4 cup of dressing (enough to dress a large salad or several smaller salads, possibly with some leftover)

Note: Sometimes I do not add the mustard due to some family members not liking dijon. Even without the mustard, this dressing is still delicious! To serve, I use a creamer pourer or a clear plastic squeeze bottle. I perfer to use raw honey and pure olive oil with the balsamic, but I think any flavor honey or olive oil would taste great :)

Happy cooking,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DIY Style: Tattooed Nails

I love experimenting with my nail polish. So one day, when I found some of my four year old's temporary tattoos, I had an idea. I placed the tattoos on my polished nails and had a fun design on them for a week. Thinking I was a genius, I researched the idea of using temp tatts for nail art and it turns out many people have done this and get gorgeous results. You can purchase a sheet of temporary tattoos ($2) at your local Dollar General or big box store. Personally, I like the  temp tatts on that look like Henna designs ($1.50)

So here's 4 easy steps to designer nails:
Step 1: Cut tattoos to fit your nails.
Step 2: Apply a base coat polish to nails (lighter color for dark tattoos, darker color for lighter tattoos)
Step 3: After base coat is completely dry (1-2hrs), place tattoos on nails and follow tattoo skin application directions.
Step 4: Apply a clear top coat to seal on tattoo.

Now you have beautifully designed nails that you created yourself!

Happy designing,