Clean + Natural Skincare Favorites on Etsy

I've gotten really into skincare. I blame winter and the fact that there are so many great brands seemingly available everywhere. Let's just say I have a nice long list going of items to try. Etsy is still one of my favorite places for online shopping. It has a nice sense of community and the sellers are friendly and there are so many items. And seriously, who doesn't love falling down an Etsy hole? I'm telling you, it is worse than pinterest. 

So here's a little round up of some fun skincare and beauty products on Etsy that check boxes for eco, organic, green, clean, vegan, small batch and natural. Enjoy!

 This shop is beautiful. If I had a bath tub, I'd scoop this right up. Chamomile, rose and honeysuckle sound like the perfect combination with a warm bath.  Epicurean Bathing Tea, $35

This shop is beautiful. If I had a bath tub, I'd scoop this right up. Chamomile, rose and honeysuckle sound like the perfect combination with a warm bath. Epicurean Bathing Tea, $35

 Finally think I found a gentle, chemical free makeup remover. Love the idea of aloe, coconut oil and witch hazel.  Make up Remover, $18

Finally think I found a gentle, chemical free makeup remover. Love the idea of aloe, coconut oil and witch hazel. Make up Remover, $18

 It's apple scented lip balm. Love it. Comforting Organic Lip Balm, $5

It's apple scented lip balm. Love it. Comforting Organic Lip Balm, $5

 Not sure how I wouldn't just drink this toner. It could be the missing step in my skincare regime.  Exfoliating Strawberry Toner, $24

Not sure how I wouldn't just drink this toner. It could be the missing step in my skincare regime. Exfoliating Strawberry Toner, $24

 Not a skincare item but I would light this while I'm going through my nightly skincare routine and love it.  Evening in Paris Soy Candle, $24

Not a skincare item but I would light this while I'm going through my nightly skincare routine and love it. Evening in Paris Soy Candle, $24

 My mind was really blown with this one - it's a lip scrub in a tube! So easy and tidy to apply.  Lip Polisher, $10

My mind was really blown with this one - it's a lip scrub in a tube! So easy and tidy to apply. Lip Polisher, $10

 It looks so inky and intense. I see tiny, clear pores in the future.  Activated Charcoal Mask, $14

It looks so inky and intense. I see tiny, clear pores in the future. Activated Charcoal Mask, $14

 The perfect little multi-tasker that will give  little rosy glow to lips or cheeks in 4 shades. Lip + Cheek Tint Plant Makeup, $16

The perfect little multi-tasker that will give  little rosy glow to lips or cheeks in 4 shades. Lip + Cheek Tint Plant Makeup, $16

 I've demanded a back massage for my birthday and the vanilla hibiscus scent of this oil sounds like a dreamy massage oil option.  Vanilla Body Oil, $27  

I've demanded a back massage for my birthday and the vanilla hibiscus scent of this oil sounds like a dreamy massage oil option. Vanilla Body Oil, $27  

 We are a soap obsessed household and we love handmade soaps in new scents. Pick 5 from the list of unique scents.  Natural Soap Gift Set, $20

We are a soap obsessed household and we love handmade soaps in new scents. Pick 5 from the list of unique scents. Natural Soap Gift Set, $20

 Lots of fancy oils in this hydrator. I like to use oils instead of creams at night, especially in the winter. My skin just drinks it up.  Hydrate Face Oil, $30

Lots of fancy oils in this hydrator. I like to use oils instead of creams at night, especially in the winter. My skin just drinks it up. Hydrate Face Oil, $30

 How badly do you want to slather this all over your face and let slough off all those dead skin cells?  Exfoliating Pumpkin Face Mask, $12

How badly do you want to slather this all over your face and let slough off all those dead skin cells? Exfoliating Pumpkin Face Mask, $12

 This shop is full of soaps that are too beautiful to use.  Tonka Bean Lime & Coconut Soap, $6.50

This shop is full of soaps that are too beautiful to use. Tonka Bean Lime & Coconut Soap, $6.50

Ready for Fall?

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Happy Fall! Autumn is officially on but the weather, at least in NYC only just started to agree. Meaning, I wore sandals to work last week and I wasn't the only one. I usually don't fall into the 'I can't wait for Fall!' category but at 75 degrees in mid October, I'm starting to feel for a cozier, sitting in front of a fire under a soft blanket with my loved one drinking cocoa while knitting time of year. I love cozy time. 

What are you most excited about for Fall? Here's a little list of a few fun things: 

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Apple Picking

Getting out of NYC and wandering around an apple orchard or pumpkin patch is usually the first thing I do when I'm in the mood for Fall. Ideally,  there's a farm store where I can stock up on treats. 

Desserts!

Apple, pumpkin, pear, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla - all those types of flavors that previously felt unseasonal. Try this, this or this

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Autumn Leaves

Driving through upstate NY, basking in all the Autumn leaf glory. Especially the Hudson Valley with all of its sweet little villages to stop at and explore. 

Layers!

Bundling up in big scarves, sweaters, leather jackets or my coziest grey sweatshirt. Who doesn't love layers? I pile 'em right on. 

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Knit a blanket

A giant blanket. I've ben slowly working on this one at a snails pace all year. If you want something fast but impressive, this arm tutorial and this giant wool will do the trick. 

Hot beverages

Toddies, hot apple cider, chai. Yes! I can't wait to take a stroll through the greenmarket next Saturday with a cup of hot apple cider and a doughnut to dip into it. 

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Using the Oven Again

It's not 9000 degrees in your apartment anymore so take out whatever you were storing in it and replace it with a yummy slow cooking braised dish. Meat people, try this or this. Vegans try this

 
 

Candles

 I don't have a fire place or wood stove to gaze into so instead I light a bunch of candles in different glass vessels that create a beautiful, warm glow. Everything is cozier by candlelight, yes? 

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Clean Beauty Favorites

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I've been working on swapping out my regular skincare and beauty products for clean ones. Eco friendly products work just as well as their chemical filled counterparts. It's important to me to find products that are cruelty free. It can be a challenge but I've found a few good ones. 

Before I purchase, I read reviews and double check ingredients on the ewg website. Here are my favorite items so far:

Schmidt's Deodorant for Sensitive skin  is the best natural deodorant I've found so far. It smells great and works as an anti perspirant. There is also an unscented if fragrance isn't your thing. 

Simply Sooney Tooth Powder is weird stuff but I love it. It's a tooth powder so you just dip your wet toothbrush in the cup and start brushing. I love this company. It's very difficult to find truly non toxic, safe tooth pastes that are made without carrageenan, glycerin, sulfates and fluoride but this powder doesn't have any of those things. (I really can't believe all the toxic stuff that's put into even 'natural' toothpastes.) This one is made in small batches and has a short, sweet ingredient list. My teeth feel great - super clean with happy gums. I have the cinnamon clove flavor but peppermint might be a good training wheels flavor if you're new to tooth powder. 

I also just realized that the toothpaste in the photo, which is out back up toothpaste, sadly has so many lame ingredients in it. Glycerin, SLS and carrageenan. Ugh. I just looked it up as I realized the ingredients are not listed on the tube. It photographs better than the Sooney Powder. Just an FYI. 

Mascara is a terrifying product to research. First, find a company that does not test on animals, that is vegan, doesn't use a long list of chemical based ingredients and actually stays on your lashes the entire day. Pacifica Stellar Gaze Mascara fits the bill, strengthens lashes and costs less than almost every mascara at sephora. 

If Biossance sent me a t shirt, I would wear it. I've been using the Biossance Eye Gel for about a month and my fine eye wrinkles have started to disappear. Mostly I like it because it feels moisturizing and refreshing when I put it on so I'll consider the above a bonus. The big ingredient is plant derived squalene which is naturally high in antioxidants and promotes cell regrowth. 

In the colder months, I like to use Radha Rose Hip Oil instead of a night cream. It smells great and smoothed out my skin. I like that it's organic and can also be used in my homemade DIY beauty recipes. If you want something in a spray bottle, Nourish Organic Rose Hip Oil Mist is for you. I use it in place of body lotion or a tiny bit on the ends of my hair after straightening to smooth it out and fight frizz. 

I love dry brushing. I bought this inexpensive natural dry brush when I was having some unhappy lymph node issues and they cleared right up after a week of dry brushing. Right before I shower, I brush from my feet to my chest then from my fingers to my heart with small, circular strokes. It's a rush, like an electrical current or fire all over your body. So damn invigorating. 

I never thought this stuff would be as good as it is natural but it is. Cameron and I both use Dr. Bronner's Shaving Soap. It's a thin liquid that lathers up like crazy and gives a close, smooth shave. I like the lavender scent but there is also peppermint and unscented. 

I run a quarter sized amount John Masters Organics Rose Hair Milk through clean wet hair to moisturize and protect it from heat styling. It's smoothing and has a light smell. 

I tried a sample of Mineral Fusion Foundation over the summer and will be purchasing a full size when my current one runs out. It has a similar texture to Mac Studio Fix Liquid but without the icky chemicals. The foundation is part of an entire line so you can also find primer, blush, brushes, everything for your whole beautiful face. Packaging could be updated but that's my only complaint. I have the powder compact and it's great. 

I'll post again as I find and try other clean products but in the mean time - How about you? Any clean, green, eco friendly, cruelty free, vegan products you're smitten with? 

DIY Makeup Remover

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I really don't have a good nighttime skincare routine. I'm really more of a morning person. My new thing is once I know I'm home for the night - which is usually when I get home from work and any additional errands - I wash my face. It goes like this: I walk in, take off my shoes, kiss Cam and Chibi and go wash my face. If I don't do it then, it just won't happen. Yes, I'm that lazy. Look, what can I say? You get to a point in life where you know how you are and have to work around it. 

Most makeup removers bother my eyes so I decided to make one myself. This DIY version whips up in about 2 minutes. You'll spend more time digging through the pantry for rosewater than actually making this. It takes make up right off, is chemical free and smells great. 

This is an oil based remover so it will leave an oily residue that will either need to be followed with a warm washcloth or a cleanser. Your skin will feel nice and moisturizer afterward. 

I made my own reusable cotton rounds which was super easy and very satisfying. Any time I get out the sewing machine, locate the foot pedal that I store in a different area of the apartment and re learn how to thread the bobbin always leaves me with a probably not completely deserved, very good feeling of accomplishment. You can make your own, purchase them on Etsy or Amazon, or use disposable cotton rounds. 

Makeup Remover

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons tap water

1 tablespoon witch hazel

1 teaspoon rose water

14 reusable cotton rounds

To Make: Warm oil to liquid state. Blend all ingredients. Transfer to clean jar. Add stack of cotton pads. Press pads firmly into make up remover. Flip and press again to make sure all have absorbed some of the makeup remover. 

To Use: swipe pad all over dry skin, massage into skin with pad. Follow with cleanser of choice. Gently pat dry and follow with toner, serum and/or face cream. 

DIY Reusable Cotton Rounds

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I hate creating waste. As you might recall from posts Kitchen Detox and Reusable Replacements, it's important to me to be mindful of what goes into the garbage bin. This is why we use cloth kitchen towels and napkins, totes instead of plastic shopping bags and now these cute little cotton rounds instead of cotton balls or cosmetic rounds. I made 14 so I won't run out. (I can't go longer than 14 days without doing laundry - I'll run out of the socks I like.) I would've made more but I ran out of the thread colors I wanted to use. Make as many or as few as you like. The instructions work for any amount of rounds.  

Supplies:

Cotton fabric

thread

pins

scissors

rotary cutter

cutting mat

paper

pencil

sewing machine

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Instructions:

Wash, dry and iron fabric. Find something circular that is just over 3 inches across. I used a drinking glass from Ikea. Trace the form onto a piece of paper and cut out with scissors. Make two or three of these - you may end up needing them. Lay fabric out flat on your cutting mat. Place the paper pattern you just made on a corner of the fabric. Hold in place while you use your rotary cutter to cut out the pattern.

Continue until you have two circles cut out for every cotton round you wish to make. I made 14 rounds so I had to cut out 28 fabric circles. If you accidentally maim your pattern - use one of the backups. When al the needed circles are cut out, take a moment to clean them up. They do not need to be prefect but try to get rid of any jagged edges. 

Line up one circle on top of another, with wrong sides facing each other on the inside. Right sides will be facing out. Secure with a pin. 

If you have a serger, serge the edges together. I do not have a serger, just a regular sewing machine so I did a little faux serge by selecting the zigzag stitch and sewing off the edge. Use a piece of scrap fabric to try the technique first. Once you get the hang of it, move on to the prepared pieces. 

Line up your pinned round so the edge is in line with the middle opening of the presser foot. Sew a few sitches, back stitch a few stitches and go around twice with the zigzag stitch. You want one side of the zigzag to land on the edge of the fabric and one side of the zigzag to land off the edge. Once you've made it around twice, back stitch a few stitches and cut. Repeat until you've gone through all the prepped rounds. 

Trim any loose threads. 

DIY Aged Terracotta Planters

We have a pretty good amount of plants in our apartment. It's so good to have plants around and plants seem to do better when there are other plants around so that's how we've gotten where we are. The fact that I've gotten better at not killing every green thing that comes into the apartment might also have something to do with it. Rosemary is the exception. I cut myself off after the third poor, poor helpless rosemary plant I killed. If someone knows the secret to talking those things down - please leave a comment! 

Several pf these plants are living in glasses of water or the original, flimsy plant pot they were born in. I decided that these little things need a proper home. I found a small stack of terra-cotta pots hiding in a cupboard and decided to try to dress them up a bit. 

I know if you really want to distress a terra cotta pot, you make a paste of garden lime and water, paint it on the pot, let it dry and spray it with a sealer. I don't have garden lime or sealer. I also really didn't want to go all the way down to the garden store and then be married to an eight pound bag of garden lime that I would probably end up moving with. 

Oh, white acrylic paint. It solves so many problems for me: strangely colored picture frames, end tables I've gotten rid of, Branch jewelry holder DIY, spice jar tops, actual paintings... In this case, a simple squeeze of paint in a splash of water. They look great - a nice refresh from their original look. 

You can see from the photos that I did not clean my pots out from the last time I tossed whatever rosemary plant probably died in it. I also didn't clean them before I started painting. It was fine - what's a little dirt? 

Supplies: 

terra-cotta plant pots

white acrylic paint

water

paint brush

a cup for mixing 

paper for your work surface

How to:

Mix about 1/2 a teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of water in a cup.  I like to soak my brush in the paint mixture and cover the pot with it, sometimes adding just water or more extra paint to the brush and using that here and there. You don't want it to look uniform. You can always wash some of it off with water or add more paint to areas that need it. Play around with it. After the first one, you'll get the hang of what works for you. 

Let the pots dry before cleaning up as they change a lot from wet to dry. Once dry, add your plants. 

How to Sleep Better

Are you a troubled sleeper? I've always had trouble sleeping until I recently changed my work schedule - switching from late night bartending to a 9 to 5 type of thing. I've also take sleep very seriously in regards to my health. I make sure I go to bed early and thoughtfully schedule my wake up times 8 hours from when I go to bed. I also stopped snoozing. Alarm goes off and I get right up, go to the kitchen and drink a small glass of water.

Analyzing my sleep behaviors and developing a sleep routine that works for me has changed so much. I get sick so much less often and my overall mood and patience has improved. Also, I have more energy.

I wanted to share some of the tips that worked for me: 

1. Blackout drapes or a sleepy eye mask

I have the blue one above - it has little hidden pillows on the underside that block out light. I use the mask when I travel or when Cam wants to read with a light on before sleeping. Otherwise, it's no mask and we just close the blackout drape on the window near the bed, which leaves the room quite dark at night but light enough in the morning that I can wake up. 

2. White noise machine

 White Noise App, App Store, Free

White Noise App, App Store, Free

I read somewhere relevant that white and pink noise helps the brain quiet down. Most of the time, when I can't sleep it's my brain's fault. It just won't shut up and let me zen out so the subtle sounds from a noise machine, app, fan, air purifier or ac unit is a welcome sleep inducing distraction. 

3. Pillow mist!

Aromatherapy is real, people! I keep on little bottle of this sleepy smelling stuff on my nightstand and give a little spritz when I get into bed. It's nice when things smell nice. Think lavender, chamomile and ylang ylang.. 

4. Consider a Natural Supplement

Cameron swears by the Mercola Melatonin spray. I like the brand and used to use the B12 spray. It tastes good and gets you nice and sleepy. Another natural sleep aid I've used is Bach's Rescue Sleep Liquid Melts. They also make a spray.  They are little spherical capsules that melt under your tongue. Super calming. 

5. Deep breathing

Breath is one of the most powerful tools we have in our control. Breathing gets me through tough workouts, calms me down, lowers occasional Still's fevers or peps me up all depending on the style of breathing, The 4-7-8 method is very popular and I use it anytime I'm feeling like I need to slow down. It's easy. To do it,  take a deep breath in through your nose of 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat 3 times or more. Dr Weil, how developed the method,  has a video describing the method

6. Sleep Schedule

If at all possible, try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Try to make the wake up time 8 hours after your bed time. Your iPhone is happy to help you out with this. The clock utility has a bedtime function and will also send you reminders to go to bed. 

7. Exercise

I mostly use exercise to regulate my energy levels. I work out in the morning. Very early in the morning actually since realizing that working up a sweat before I start my day makes me happier and gives me more energy throughout the day. I set out my exercise clothes and make coffee the night before. Then all I have to do is get dressed and reheat the coffee. 

8. Get in Bed and Try

Just try it. It could work, right? Even if I'm not tired but it's time, brush my teeth, hide the electronics, put on pjs and get into bed. I'll read, snuggle chibi or just turn off the lights and try to sleep. Maybe it's like going to the gym and getting there is half the battle?  Probably not but at least I'll be conveniently in bed when sleep takes over. 

9. Write It Down

Is your mind racing? Take some time to write down what's on your mind. Make a list of what it is and what you're going to do about it. Done. Set it aside and try to sleep now that you know you have a plan. Keep a pen and notebook near your bed for when you need it. Let the notebook be exclusively for this purpose. 

10. Lower the Lights

As it gets closer to bed time, we start turning off or lowering different lights around the house. We will start our chill out sofa time with string lights, a paper lantern and table lamp on. As it gets later, we turn one of and another one a bit later. This really tricks my brain into thinking it wants sleep. 

What else?  Got any tips or tried any of these? Leave a comment - I'd love to hear!

Hera Ceramics - Etsy Shop

My Etsy shop, Hera Ceramics, was way over due for some love and attention. I had posted smudging bowls a few months ago and after those sold I really neglected updating with new pieces. 

So, I took advantage of the long weekend to use Sunday to be productive. If you care to take a look, I've updated the shop with a small collection. 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/HeraCeramics

xo. 

DIY Rosewater Lotion Bars

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Pssst! Mother's day is this Sunday and what could be a better gift than something you made for her? Or even made with her? This is a great quick, easy and customizable DIY. 

Lotion bars are so convenient. It's lotion in a hardened form made with beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter and an essential oil of your choice. I used a mild rose water which is great for skin and I like the subtle, floral scent. If you prefer a stronger scent - use 15 drops of any essential oil. 

These will melt with heat so don't leave them in a hot car or anywhere too warm. To use, either smoosh (yes, a real word) a bit onto your hands, rubbing together to melt or pick the bar up and smooth over skin. My legs always seem to be a bit scaly and dry but a few swipes from one of these and they're much better. Let the moisturizing begin!

Measure all of your ingredients except rosewater and oils by weight for accuracy. Use organic ingredients. For sourcing: I found organic shea butter and organic cosmetic grade beeswax pellets on amazon; organic unrefined coconut oil at trader joes and rose water at whole foods. 

Makes 4 bars. 

DIY Rosewater Lotion Bars

2 oz coconut oil

2 oz shea butter

2.15 oz beeswax

2 teaspoons rosewater

Add coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax in a clean glass jar. Place in a sauce pan filled with water. Water line and ingredients lines should be roughly the same. Bring to a soft boil.

While everything is working on melting, prep your molds. I placed 4 muffin liners in a muffin pan but you can use a silicone mold or pour directly into a cosmetic compact or tiny jar. 

Melt all ingredients to a liquid state. Stir. Remove from heat and stir in rosewater or essential oils. Pour into prepared molds and let cool completely. Speed up the cooling process by placing them in the fridge. Once completely cool, they can be popped out of the molds and are ready for use. 

Reusable Replacements

While I love a good feng shui purge but I really hate throwing things out. Not that I mind parting with things - I just don't like to create waste. It's guilt. I feel guilty and enviornmentally irresponsible. 

To avoid this feeling, I'm going to start with looking for replacements of disposable, single use items. Specifically, non recyclable plastic items. I really don't like using plastic. Especially single use plastic items like zippy or produce bags that go straight into the trash. It's too wasteful for something with such a short lifespan. I've found a few great replacements in my search and wanted to share. 

1. No more zip lock bags. I carry veggie snacks to work everyday and wanted something that once empty, would be flat. These reusable, silicon versions seem like a good fit. They can be rinsed in the dishwasher. 

2. I've always found cotton balls to be wasteful. Instead, cut up an old cotton t-shirt into squares and store in a pretty jar in the medicine cabinet. When I'm done removing my makeup or swiping on toner, they just go into the laundry hamper. I'm going to cut little rectangles, fold then in half and sew them. The double layer will make them more absorbent. 

3. Replace produce bags with thin muslin bags like the ones below. They are easily found on online or would be a quick way sewing project. Just don't make them too heavy if you're going to be weighing you produce in them!

4. Plastic water bottles. I say just don't buy them. Don't support these companies. For many reasons. Don't support these companies, the plastic bottles, the privatization and commoditization of water or the chemicals used in the process. Use the tap and a refillable bottle. 

Of course, all the ones I like a pretty expensive but I only need one so I might as well love it, right? 

5. Carry a hanky instead of a pack of tissues for your coughing, sneezing and nose blowing. Did I lose you on this one? People seem to find this one very off putting but I don't see the problem,. The hanky is prettier than a tissue. I wash it. I carry a clean one. It does not pollute the environment with more trash. Get over it and use a hanky!

6. Replace paper coffee filters with reusable cloth or metal ones. These are probably not the worse things on the list but it's still something I throw out everyday. I don't like sooty coffee like the last bit out of the french press or coffee made with a metal filter so I was happy to find cloth filters for my Chemex. These are cheap and work just like the paper filters. 

 Chemex coffee filters (2) by CoffeeSock, $12.99

Chemex coffee filters (2) by CoffeeSock, $12.99

7. Skip the bagged tea for loose leaf teas made with a tea infuser or teapot. I've been drinking a lot of tea lately and it's another thing I throw out everyday. I don't know what these little bags are made of. I always assumed natural fibers but these heat sealed baggies must be something synthetic. Also, who hates teapots? I love them and their little tea infuser relatives. 

8. Never buy another box of dryer sheets because I have these cute little felted wool dryer balls instead. I've been using these for a while now and love them. I use six for a normal load of laundry. I add a couple drops of essential oil to each, put them in the dryer with the wet laundry and dry as usual. They laundry smells nice, is soft and takes less time to dry. They are chemical free and will last for years. 

9. I've said this one before in my kitchen detox post but here it is again: Swap cloth towels for paper towels. We have a big stack of 20 and use them for everything. You can even buy different color kitchen towels and use them for different tasks: blue for cleaning, green for food, pink for dining. 

10. I've said this one before too but it's important! No more plastic bags. They're terrible in every single way. I've put thin, rolled up canvas totes in all of my purses and car so I always have one with me. It's also a lot easier to carry a couple totes packed with groceries than the 6 tiny double bagged bags every grocery store in Brooklyn loves to send people on their way with. 

Thanks for reading!

xo Mea

Lavender Chamomile Pillow Mist

I didn't think I was a pillow mist person but then I made this stuff and it pretty much follows me around the house. I definitely don't need it - I typically fall asleep around 10pm without fail because I'm old/boring and prefer to get up very early - but I like it. It smells good and is super calming. It's also non toxic, safe, natural and homemade. 

This pillow mist smells great. It's super calming thanks to chamomile and lavender. You can also use this as a face mist, which is what I've been doing. Throughout the evening, I'll give myself a little mist just because of the lovely scent. Ah, aromatherapy. So great. 

Super Calming Mist

2 oz witch hazel

1 chamomile tea bag

about 20 drops lavender essential oil

Add tea bag to witch hazel and let steep at room temperature of 24 hours. It should be very fragrant at this point. Discard teabag. Add lavender oil. Feel free to add more drops as needed - you want a nice balance of both chamomile and lavender. Pour into a mini spray bottle and spritz away. 

Recipe Cards

I made you something! Printable recipe cards. I picked up a Polaroid Snap Touch camera a few months ago and have been using it to print out little business card photos from my phone. It connects with blue tooth and works like a portable, wireless mini photo printer. I love it. The backing of each photo peels off and becomes a sticker if you want. 

I want. I realized I could print food photos from my phone and stick them to recipe cards. I love recipe cards but didn't find any that had space of a photo so I designed these and thought I'd share. 

For printers, you do not need the Polaroid Snap - you could use a Fuji Film Instax Camera, HP Sprocket, Zink Happy Printer, Polaroid Zip, Kodak Mini Mobile or small photos printed from your printer. 

Click on the buttons below to download:

How to Drink More Water

Are you drinking enough water? If so, you deserve a medal or golden chalice. We are supposed to be drinking at least half an ounce of water for each pound we weigh. That's a lot. Personally, I hate drinking water and have come up with a handful of tricks to help get all those ounces in. 

Most important thing to remember - You need it! How are you supposed to be your best self if you're brain and body are struggling for something it needs?  The more hydrated you are, the better you will feel: less frequent headaches, a stronger immune system (less colds!), a strong sense of mental clarity, less weight gain, energized body, less wrinkles, and happy bladder, kidneys and colon. All important things, right? Right.

1. H20-lympics! When I was a bartender we would make things a little competitive by each filling up pitchers of water and try to make progress through out the shift. It's silly but there's no better way to get that determination going than with a little competition. 

2. Buy a quart sized container and fill it up with water twice throughout the day. Something with a nice, big mouth is better than a sports cap since you can take giant, satisfying gulps and chugs. Yum. I've found this to be the best, most reliable method. I drink one quart water at work and then another when I get home. 

3. Flavor your water! Add some fruit, mint, cucumber, citrus slices to those water containers you're filling up. It tastes better and adds health benefits. Just keep in mind that drinking lemon water throughout the day is not great for your tooth enamel because of the acid so mix it up. 

4. Drink out of an eight ounce cup so you can count your cups consumed each day. You'll need to drink about 8 of them. I do this all the time at home and Cameron thinks its funny but it works! I keep an actual measuring cup by the sink just for this - accuracy is important to me - just don't lose count.  

5. Set reminders on your phone. There are apps for this or simply set a few reminders on your phone to pop up throughout the day. 

6. Consider starting a health journal  with a water log. This way you will be able to see how wonderful you feel as a more hydrated person - or if you forget, how tired and icky you feel. 

Here are some safe, non toxic, bpa free water bottles - each holds 32 ounces and features a different size top.

 32oz glass water bottle at  Nordstrom , $45

32oz glass water bottle at Nordstrom, $45

 32oz stainless steel bottle at  Bed Bath & Beyond,  $32

32oz stainless steel bottle at Bed Bath & Beyond, $32

 32oz stainless steel, insulated water bottle at  REI , $40

32oz stainless steel, insulated water bottle at REI, $40

Now, who's thirsty? 

DIY Ombre Watercolor Dry Erase Board

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I love making lists. I'm visual and need to write things out and have a list or notes to revisit when I need. It's so satisfying to accomplish tasks or goals and cross them off. So great. I have about 10 lists in the notes app of my phone that I'm currently using.

I also keep a big dry erase board in the kitchen. I made it from a huge, cheap white frame found at Ikea. I painted the board backing with white acrylic paint, let it dry and assembled the frame as usual but instead of displaying art, Cameron and I use it to note groceries, things we are out of, things we might want to cook, our to do lists...anything. We just write on the plexi with a thin dry erase marker and wipe it off with a towel or hand when done. It's great on Sundays when we're cooking and have 3 different dishes to make. Just scribble down what needs to be done and start cooking. (I'm a bit of a control freak, if you couldn't tell.)

The best part is that it's temporary. whatever I write down can just be wiped off. 

I thought I'd show how to make a pretty one with a simple monochromatic ombre watercolor background. You can use any color you like, just consider what color dry erase ink you will be using. There will need to be enough contrast to keep the writing legible. 

I used command strips to hang this. Have you used these things?  If you follow the directions exactly, they are great. I prefer to use these to nails or tacks - no holes in the wall! 

Supplies:

a large frame with glass or plexi - 16" x 20" or 18" x 24" are good sizes

watercolor paper that matches frame size

watercolor paint - color of your choice

large watercolor brush 

rag or sponge brush (to wet the paper)

cup of water

dry erase marker

command strips or hooks to hang your completed project

Instructions:

Wet entire surface of paper with a sponge brush. It needs to be wet so the watercolor paint can blend and flow when applied. Once wet, stir a few drops of water directly into your watercolor paint using the watercolor brush. Saturate the brush with paint. Start at the top of your paper, painting with long, horizontal strokes, side to side. Add more paint to your brush as needed. Keep painting until the top quarter of your paper is saturated to your liking with paint. 

Do the same to the next quarter section, just mix a lighter saturation of paint - more water to pigment than you used before. Wash the color on as before, dabbing more water or paint as needed. Watercolor is very forgiving and mistakes can be corrected easily with more paint (darken)  or water (lighten). 

Complete the remainder of the piece as the other sections. Adjust as needed with more paint or water. The last quarter might now need any paint. 

Let dry completely - it will be dry to the touch and will not feel cold. Frame and hang!

DIY Beauty Mask

How's your skin doing? Mine has been crazy lately - bumpy forehead, dry parts, oily forehead. What's going on? I think it's the weather.

I knew a mask was just what I needed. I waited until Cameron left the house and raided the fridge and pantry for a quick DIY homemade face mask to help get my skin back in order. 

This one is a winning combination. It has an egg white, honey and rose hip oil. Simple! The egg white  will make your pores happy and tighten your skin. Honey is a natural humectant and has antibacterial properties and is full of antioxidants. It's great for acne prone skin, too.

Rose hip oil gets it's own paragraph because it is my new favorite thing. I bought this one because it's pure, organic and not treated on animals. It has really changed my skin. Each day, once I know I'm home for the night, I wash my face and rub about 5 drops for rose hip oil into my skin. It's helped my forehead be less oily and bumpy. I think it's also helping with any old pimple scars - generally my skin seems very happy since I've been using it. Rose hip oil is bright orange but it will absorb into your skin and does not stain. It's full of fatty acids and a natural anti aging product. 

Makes enough for two masks. 

DIY Beauty Mask

1 egg white

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon rose hip oil

Whisk egg white, honey and oil together. Apply to face, avoiding eyes, nostril and mouth. After about 5 minutes, when it begins to dry, apply a second coat. Get comfortable and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with mild cleanser and water. Pat dry and moisturize. 

DIY Branch Jewelry Organizer

I made one of these years ago and always meant to post a tutorial. It's a simple organizer for jewelry or keys made from a found tree branch. I painted mine white but you could customize yours by painting it any color, leaving it natural or even dry brushing different colors. 

Supplies:

a dry branch, bark removed

1/2" or 3/4" brads (length and quantity depend on branch size)

white acrylic paint

paint brush

cotton kitchen string

scissors

hammer

Instructions:

1. wipe branch with cloth to remove any dust or dirt

2. Use hammer to add brads as you like. (Placing a folded towel between the branch and your work surface helps absorb some of the blow. 

3. Once all brads are nailed in, paint white. I used two coats. Let dry. 

4. Once dry, experiment with different hanging styles. I like a bit of string wrapped around each end and then each side it hung on the wall with it's own nail.  

Detox That Kitchen!

I read a lot about healing, healthy practices like green beauty, clean diets and detoxing our bodies but what about the kitchen?  The kitchen is where we prepare the food we are eating so it makes sense to have a clean, green, detoxed kitchen. I have good intentions and thought I was doing a great job but when I take a good, honest look at things - there's much room for improvement.  

Here's a few simple steps I'm taking to detox my kitchen:

1. Replace my plastic food storage containers with glass ones.  I say I don't reheat in plastic but sometimes life happens and I do. Sigh. We all know the horrors of cooking in plastic. Storing food in plastic isn't good for us either. Here are some sources for glass food storage containers:

2. Use green, environmentally friendly cleaning products that are safe for you and your pets. This includes your hand soap. One of my favorites is Common Good - they make lots of different types of green soap products and have these great refilling stations that you just bring your bottle to and fill up - so much less waste!  Other favs are below!

3. Switch our your sponges on the 1st and 15th of the month. Sponges get gross and need to be changed regularly. Creating mini schedules for simple tasks make it more likely you'll remember to do it. I use this 1st and 15th of the month trick for a few things around the house. It really helps. 

4. Use re-usable produce bags and shopping bags.  This isn't so much about our personal health but the environment's health. It will also help you declutter - I bet you have hundreds of pesky plastic bags crammed under your sink or between your fridge and the wall. Not a bad idea to carry a little portable bag with you so you're always prepared. Did you hear that NYC is now going to charge you for those plastic shopping bags - just another reason to bring your own.

5. Add a plant! Plants do a lot of great things.  Consider adding one that purifies the air like a spider plant, something with medicinal properties like aloe vera or simple fresh herbs for adding to your cooking. 

6. Clean your vents and filters regularly. There's a filter in your dishwasher that needs to be cleaned. It can collect mold which is not what you want all over your dishes. Here's a great way to naturally clean your whole dishwasher.  Don't forget the vents over your stove or any heating ducts - they need attention too. 

7. Remove your non stick, Teflon cookware. It's toxic. Consider ceramic, cast iron, copper or stainless steel pieces. Don't bother with a whole set - think about what you cooked in the last month and what pans your used. For us, a 10 inch skillet, a wok, 3 quart saucepan and a 6 quart stock pot are what we use almost all of the time. 

8. Use cotton towels instead of paper towels and napkins. Years ago, Cameron and I picked up about 25 cotton rags/teas towels and we still use them all the time for cleaning up spills or drying our hands - we have a handful that we use as napkins as well. Find some you like, pick up 20 of them and ditch your paper towels. The earth will thank you. 

9. Brew your coffee with a french press or pour over method because your basket or pod coffee maker is probably full of mold and bacteria. The chemex (a manual pour over style) is my favorite because I feel it makes the best tasting cup of coffee. Also, it's easy to clean and there's nowhere for mold to hide. 

What about you?  Any tips?  

4 Long Books

I love to read and go through a lots of books.  I thought I'd share four books I've read that I feel are great.  All of these were very popular books recently so you might have already read them but if you haven't - give them a go.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

Well, it's New York in the 70s which is always enough for me but if you need more there's conspiracy theory, murder, drugs, art, relationships and intertwined character plots.  A girl gets shot on NYE and the book follows a handful of characters whose related stories spider web from the shooting.  Hallberg writes of a world that doesn't exist anymore but luckily, I can experience it in his writing.   

The Magus by John Fowles

It just doesn't stop with this one - prepare yourself for many, many twists.  It will turn you into a very curious and untrusting reader.  The plot follows a young man coasting on a teaching assignment in a lonely island in Greece. His boredom is soon interrupted by a mysterious and wealthy resident of the island. 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I don't think I went out much while I was reading The Goldfinch - I couldn't put it down and just wanted to be home reading. (Very nerdy but I don't care - I love a good book!)  It's about Theodore Decker who survives a terrorist attack at The Met and takes a painting with him as he escapes. You read as his unravelled life passes into adulthood full of complexity but still haunted by the goldfinch painting. I spent a long shift at work casting a movie version of it with coworkers.  (I work with a lot of actors. It's a favorite game.) If you've already read this one try her other book Secret History.  

Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

I just read this one on our beach vacation. There are flaws but it is so entertaining and the main character is incredible. I was sad when it ended - ready for more of her story of farmer to circus performer to courtesan to prisoner to nun royal maid to opera singer to... you get the idea. It's a fun ride. 

Beach Vacation Getaway

It's that time of year!  Every year, right after the holidays, Cam and I book a beach vacation.  This year we are heading to Mexico.  It's the best - it gives me something to look forward and obsess over though this chilly winter season.  I've been working out, eating well, doing everything not to catch the office cold like making sure to get enough sleep and researching all the fun things we're going to do.  I REALLY like planning.  For me, it's almost as good as the vacation itself.  Do you know what I mean?  It's nice to be really excited about something.  

In addition to planning, I've also been on the hunt for some new beach vacation clothing and accessories.  Here's a few that I think anyone else heading to warmer places might like too:

1.  Travel Journal.  Cam and I started bringing one on our trips and it's really fun to write and sketch about how we spend our beachy days.  I love this mermaid one.  So pretty.  

2. Turkish Towels because then you don't have to subtly kidnap your hotel bath towel on your adventures beyond the resort.  It's also nice to have a towel for your beach lounger and one for drying off.  A turkish towel rolls up super small so it's easy to pack and doubles as a wrap for the pool and a blanket for the plane. 

3. Caftans!  This blue one or this white lace number because they are the best.  So comfortable and everyone looks great in them.  A nice step up from my usual (and beloved!) black yoga pants.  I'd wear the hell out of that white one once the weather warms up back here in nyc, too. 

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4. Simple, comfortable sandals for daytime.  These are classic and go with everything. Easy to get on and off is key here.  

5. Something a little more striking for when you change for dinner. I'm always partial to anything with a stud or jewel, like these.

 

6. Instant gratification with this cute camera.  Capture all the beautiful and interesting situations you find yourself in - just remember to bring enough film. 

7. A big sun hat because when else do you get to wear one? This one sends the right message. 

8. Beach bag.  I'm that person at the airport, using my beach bag as a purse, wearing socks under my sandals.  This blue striped one is made with responsibly sourced materials.  This one has a great tassel.  And this one I would add my own tassel to. 

9. Very moisturizing hair mask because your hair is going to sizzle and the hotel shampoo/conditioner doesn't care. This one is made of natural ingredients and smells great. 

10. A new bathing suit.  Apparently, we're all wearing one pieces now.  I love the tiny straps on the back of this one and this one for running down the beach in slow motion.  Really though, my heart belongs to this scalloped bikini.  

Goals

2016

Happy 2017!  While I don't exactly make New Year's resolutions,  I do believe in living a conscious life with purpose.  At the beginning of every year, I make a list of goals, returning to this list throughout the year for motivation.

Here are my goals for 2017:

1. Challenge myself at work

2. Continue to grow Meats and Sweets

3. Stay healthy

4. Take more photos (and print them!)

5. Learn to play the ukulele 

6. Give more time and money to charity

7. Be kind

2016 was a great year full of fun times and major life changes.  I hope all of you feel like you are living a rich and beautiful life.  I'd love to hear what your goals are in the new year.  If you're up for sharing - leave a comment!

xo. Mea