I love using kitchen ingredients as personal care and beauty products—corn starch as dry shampoo, diluted apple cider vinegar as a facial toner or hair conditioner, coconut oil as a moisturizer or makeup remover, coffee combined with honey for a face scrub. In the kitchen, I use honey as a healthier alternative to sugar; in the bathroom, I use the coffee and honey scrub every week or two and regularly wash my face with it—just honey and warm water for a gentle cleansing. As it’s antimicrobial, I also apply it to minor burns and cuts.
I stock up on honey from the local farmers’ market and favor it raw and unprocessed. Recently I tried a couple of lip balms offered by two honey vendors and—bingo!—they’re the best. Each is beeswax-based with healthy oils and honey and they’re super-moisturizing. Because I like a bit of color on my lips, I took some of the balm from the one in the pot and blended it with two of my favorite lip colors—Illusive lip2cheek by RMS Beauty and Strawberry Lipstick by Logona—for my own DIY tinted lip balms.
My love for the great outdoors is deep and eternal, but the threat of bug bites is a constant and nagging concern. I’ve tried a lot of the DEET-free insect repellents on the market and found many to be effective, including non-toxic and better-for-you bug sprays made by Badger and All Terrain. Most natural insect repellents use essential oils I already have, so I started experimenting with making my own by consulting different DIY homemade recipes found online—often bending over bottles in my kitchen laboratory while repeating “I’ll get those mosquitoes!” My preferred bug repellent spray is made with apple cider vinegar diluted with distilled water, a combination of essential oils, and vanilla extract. For each cup of the diluted apple cider vinegar, add approximately 50 drops of essential oils and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
DIY Bug Repellent Spray with Apple Cider Vinegar, Vanilla and Essential Oils
Fill a bottle with:
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup distilled water
15 drops citronella essential oil
15 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops rose geranium essential oil
5 drop grapefruit essential oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Tip: In addition to putting this natural bug repellent in a spray bottle, fill a travel-size perfume spray bottle to pack in your bag when you expect to be outdoors (especially during the evening, when mosquitoes like to feast).
This & That (& Green): New finds and old favorites I’m loving right now. A combination of vintage or second-hand items; beauty products and other goods made responsibly with better-for-you, non-toxic ingredients; and DIY creations.
Spring’s arrival in Southern California is never as dramatic as in other regions, but we still welcome its arrival with the sights and sounds—birds chirping, springtime flowers blooming, and the extra light. It’s only natural to favor lighter, brighter colors and embrace floral patterns this time of year.
Camellia flower in bloom.
New spring wardrobe staples—all from thrift shops—include a bright and multi-patterned Antik Batik scarf I scooped up during a lunch shopping spree with friends last week. The vintage bucket bag is from the Original Earthbags by Fred Salerno line (and it was only 10 bucks!). Because I suddenly have no interest in wearing any of my black or dark denim jackets, this fitted Esprit jacket in faded blue is going into heavy rotation.
Jewelry for spring: Bangle bracelets with floral patterns, both vintage and second-hand. The earrings and necklace are DIY creations: I made the earrings with peach glass beads from a rosary and the bird charm on the necklace is actually an old button.
Bring on the butterflies! We have milkweed plants in the yard to attract monarch butterflies and it’s always a thrill to watch the caterpillars grow—and to see butterflies in the yard. I also picked up this seed packet to attract even more.
Photos of clover: around the pink flamingo in the yard, in the Santa Monica Mountains, and in the house.
The Irish Claddagh ring is a recent thrift store find. I love the design to represent love, loyalty, and friendship. Tradition holds that it should be given as a gift, but I didn’t want to pass up the bargain—only $6 and sterling silver—so I brought it home and told Mr. MVP he could give it to me (and he happily obliged). It is shown here on a vintage handkerchief embroidered with shamrocks, given to me by my mom.
The rosary beads—another thrift store find—are wood with shamrocks all around the beads. I’m a collector of rosaries and often find them rusty and broken; repairs are easily made with a pair of small pliers, and I like to use some of the beads to make upcycled earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.
This is a sugar-free version of granola that’s easy to make and delicious. I use a combo of walnuts and almonds and mix it up with the dried fruit (blueberries and apricots are favorites).
2 cups oats
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
3 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tbsp. fresh orange or tangerine juice
1 tbsp. flax seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. zest from orange or tangerine
1/4 cup dried fruit
Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Melt coconut oil on low heat and add vanilla before tossing with the dry ingredients. Spread on baking pan and cook, stirring every 10 minutes until it’s golden brown (about 40-50 minutes). Cool and toss with dried fruit of choice. Yum.
I like to reuse and repurpose as much as possible, which makes this DIY coffee and honey facial even better. I simply take used coffee grounds and add honey, then gently pat the sticky mixture on my face and let it sit for about five minutes. Over the kitchen sink, I then gently massage with two fingers using a circular motion on my cheeks, chin, and forehead, avoiding the delicate eye area. When washed off, skin is soft and glowy.
On a quest to find vintage china to use when we’re feeling fancy, we found two almost complete sets at a thrift store with complementary gold and silver accents. That meant an abundance of tea cups we won’t need. This one is filled with small rocks on bottom (so roots won’t rot), soil, and cuttings from succulents growing in the yard.