In our last blog, we crafted a facial scrub. Well, we went back at it a few nights ago, this time our creativity was provoked by neglected, winter-chapped lips and decided to try our hand at a lip scrub.
We loved it, enjoyed spending more time on a common hobby and it was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO …………..easy!
Here’s what we did.
Using what knowledge we already have as “experts” in the skin care and DIY arena, we challenged ourselves to whip up something that would help heal and moisturize our lips that anyone could create using common kitchen ingredients.
On came the aprons. Kaley’s is a rich salmon color littered with gingerbread men and saddled with lace. Mine is deep purple and boasts a large floral print. Both have two deep pockets we love to collect and carry things in.
Out came the latex free gloves and up went the hair and off to work we went, laughing and making jokes as we pulled various things from the cupboards.
By the end of this fun exercise, we settled on a few simple ingredients that are common to most kitchens.
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Quick Dissolve Sugar (We would have preferred Caster Sugar but were out and it’s not as common – regular sugar will work but is more course)
Fresh Local Organically Grown Lemon
Local Pure Honey
If you’re using this recipe, it is important to remember that lemon should NOT be used on damaged lips that are already cracked or bleeding. It does, however, work wonders on lips that are dry and chapped.
We chose organic extra virgin olive oil because it is common and is the best choice due to its high concentrations of healing antioxidants and works well to moisturize quickly.
We chose quick dissolve sugar because it isn’t as abrasive as granulated sugar and dissolves rapidly when wetted, so rinses off easily. It makes for a much more gentle scrub on delicate lips.
We chose lemon because ….well, to begin, we had too many. Secondly, it just works by performing the following “miracles”
1. It gently exfoliates to help clear dead skin cells and other impurities.
2. Citric acid and the acidic natural of lemon help to clear germs.
3. The rich content of vitamin C in lemon will help reduce melamine production and make your lips shine with their natural color.
4. It heals chapped and dry lips.
We chose raw, local honey because honey has extra ordinary hydrating powers.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang!
Four powerful lip perfecting ingredients right there in your kitchen!!
And here you’ve been spending all that hard earned money on over the counter products with ingredients you can’t pronounce….
To create this lip scrub at home, you can try the following recipe, on us!
1 tbsp. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Quick Dissolve Sugar (We would have preferred Caster Sugar but were out and it’s not as common – regular sugar will work but is more course)
1/4 tsp Fresh Local Organically Grown Lemon
1/2 tsp Local Pure Honey
1-3 drops pink or red food coloring (not too much – it can stain your lips!)
It is important to start with the sugar. Next, add the honey and lemon juice. Mix these with fork. Then slowly add in half of the olive oil. If you’ve reached the desired consistency, you are good to scrub. If it looks dry at this point, add small amounts of the remaining olive oil until you’ve formed a good paste. You don’t want it too wet or too dry. The results will differ slightly based on what granule of sugar you use.
Because these are fresh ingredients, you will only want to make small amounts that you can use in a two week period of time. Remember, fresh ingredients go bad. You can store your scrub in your refrigerator between uses to prolong life, but really, two weeks is the maximum we recommend.
April and Kaley
-Post written by April
Kaley will be a senior this year and is gone most of the summer on some pre-college /family visit adventure or another and so we had to schedule her senior photo shoot early………..smack dab in the middle of the worst heat wave our area has experienced in two decades. The day of her outdoor shoot it was 93 degrees with humidity levels of 86%.
Kaley rarely wears make up but the heat triggered her rosacea and acne and out came cover up and other camouflages. Before long she was all gussied up and looking like a super model! Here’s one of the pictures I snuck in during the shoot. Isn’t she stunning?
Anyway, we were both pretty worried her make up would melt and/or that oil would be out of control. A simply solution to this would be oil blotting sheets. If only we had some!
Time to get creative!
I thought about what those products really are- tissue paper and powder and set out to create my own with only 5 minutes to do so before we had to leave.
Off I lept into the attic where I found plain white tissue paper left over from Christmas. Down the stairs I ran to my office where I cut the tissue into small sections with a paper cutter. Up the stairs I ran again into our supply room where I grabbed the arrowroot powder and placed 1/4 teaspoon into a sandwich sized ziplock bag with the cut sections of tissue paper and shook like a woman possessed.
One minute later I had home made, shamefully inexpensive blotting sheets.
They worked like a charm! Picking up oil but not make up. The arrowroot powder matted the shine between sets and according to the pictures, it looked like a fresh spring day!
Check out the pic below for supplies and the end result.
Goodbye, Razor Burn! This DIY Shave Butter Hydrates Skin Without Nasty Chemicals
Feeling the burn or have dry, flaky skin? When those little red bumps appear on your freshly-shaven skin, this is your body’s way of saying it needs a little attention. The skin is our largest organ and it absorbs everything we put on it—even shaving cream. That’s why we researched, explored and ultimately crafted a DIY shave butter that uses gentle yet nourishing ingredients like hydrating coconut oil and shea butter and we want to share this amazing game changer with you!
Kaley and I ran out of shaving cream and per our promise, modified a recipe to craft our own and the results were SPECTACULAR!!
This one isn’t something you can whip up from kitchen, but is something you can purchase low-cost materials for on Amazon with enough supplies to last MONTHS.
This recipe replaces shave creams and pricey butters and is suitable for both men and women.
Instructions for crafting:
Step 1. Gather your ingredients
Step 2. If you opt to use an Aloe Leaf, you will need to get the gel out of the leaf. Here is a great How-To video for that.
Step 3. Add the shea butter, coconut oil and aloe to your 2 quart sauce pan or double boiler.
Step 4. Melt the shea butter, coconut oil and aloe vera gel over medium heat. You don’t want to rush and scald the liquids. You can also use a double-boiler.
Step 5. Add your essential oils into the melted liquids in the sauce pan or double boiler and stir until thoroughly blended.
Step 6. If you used an aloe plant or fresh leaf and there are any chunks of aloe in your liquid, you will need to strain those out in a cheesecloth into a mixing bowl. If you used pure aloe gel, you can pour your melted liquids into your mixing bowl.
Step 7. Place in your refrigerator and/or cover and leave to harden. It’s actually better to let it naturally harden on your counter than to use the fridge because the cold temperature of the refridgerator makes the next step more difficult. The refrigerator is the faster of the two methods, however. It takes approximately one hour to harden in the fridge and about three on your counter.
Here is what it looks like when it’s ready to move on to step 8.
Step 8. Whip the solidified mixture for 5-10 minutes using an electronic mixer on high-speed until white fluffy peaks form. When it is ready, it will look like this:
Step 9. Scoop your completed shave butter into a glass jar or jars. We got two full 8oz containers from this recipe for the total cost of roughly 8.00 in supplies.
Happy crafting – April and Kaley
PS. Please check out the link below and help Kaley pursue a dream!!!
Our followers (all 13 of you lol) should know by know that Kaley and I really believe in what we do and take our responsibility to this planet seriously. If you’re following closely, you’ll know that we are slowly switching over common, household products to hand crafted, natural products that leave minimal impact on the environment and have joined the Zero Waste movement to the best of our ability.
If you’re not familiar with Zero Waste – here’s a quick explanation from zerowasteworld.org:
“Zero waste means setting a new goal for how we live in the world – one that aims to reduce what we trash in landfills and incinerators to zero.”
It also means that discarded materials become resources for others and so it is extremely important to use only fully recyclable and/or reusable packaging and containers and NO containers whenever possible.
The end goal is to turn garbage into a renewable resource.
Anyway, back to our endeavors.
As we run out of common household products that create garbage and/or are not made with sustainable technologies or from responsible companies, we replace them with products that are or that we can manufacture ourselves, typically at much lower costs.
This week we ran out of laundry detergent and our adventure in creating our own began. We have a front load HE energy star machine and decide to use a powder recipe.
Please note – If you try this recipe and have a front load machine, you will want to dissolve your detergent in 1/2-1c hot tap water and place it in the drum before adding dirty laundry to the drum to ensure proper cleaning of cold cycles. Option b is to place the dissolved powder into the detergent well. Either works in any temperature wash.
To challenge ourselves a bit and to make sure any of our readers can recreate this recipe, we opted for ingredients that can be found locally – in this case – our local “pocket” Walmart. (It’s a somewhat hidden and really small Walmart)
Here’s what you’ll need:
• 1 Castile soap bar (Walmart carries Kirks in the soap aisle in 3pks for 3.18)
• 1 c Borax (Walmart carries a large box in the fabric softener aisle 4.47 65oz box)
• 1 c Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (also in the fabric softener aisle at Walmart 3.47 5lb box)
• 20 drops essential oil of your choice (Our Walmart had two scents that smelled like laundry for 5.00. /1oz in the candle and essential oil section – one was called Lavendia and the other Geranium. Both had bergamot added in but any you like will do)
How to make you’re low cost detergent:
Step 1. Finely grate your Castile soap bar using a food processor or the smallest side of a cheese grater. (A food processor is way faster and far less messy.)
Step 2. If you used a food processor, empty the reservoir and switch to the regular mixing blade. Next. Add the borax and super washing soda into the grated Castile soap in the food processor and mix for about 2 minutes until the mixture looks like fine particles.
Step 3. While the processor is still running, slowly drop in your essential oils to ensure they do not clump in one spot.
Step 4. Empty the contents into a glass reusable jar.
That’s it. You’re done!
You now have several dozen loads of laundry detergent ready for use and way more back up supplies to make more. I estimate these products will last about 6 months.
I bought 2 – 3pks of Castile soap and my grand total was 19.30 before tax. With tax, my purchase came to $20.53…….
…….for an estimated 6 month supply!!!
That is $3.42/month
That is less than .12c a load.
With my store bought brand, I have been paying .30-40c/load.
So I’ve cut my costs in half and will eventually burn the empty boxes to eliminate trash.
The glass jar I will keep and reuse over and again.
We’ve already washed four loads with our detergent and it cleans well. I’m still using dryer sheets for scent though. I’m a huge fan of fresh scented laundry and the essential oils aren’t strong enough to linger on the load. We will probably experiment with increasing the amount in our next batch as well as explore reusable dryer balls to continue on our mission to eliminate waste.
Here are a few pictures for your reference.
This is what your detergent should look like when you’re done with it.
This is the size jay we bought in relationship to a coffee mug.
These are the laundry smell oils we found at Walmart. Definitely not the best oils out there, but they met our challenge goals.
In close, we do hope you try this and share your results!
All our best,
April and Kaley
At the tail end of 2017, Amazon introduced an exclusively hand-crafted marketplace called Amazon Handmade. Not seeing the growth we desired from our webpage and Etsy shops, my daughter and I decided to take the invitation we were provided from Amazon and became official Amazon Sellers in January of 2018.
Wow! What a ride we’ve been on since!
Unlike Etsy and our ecommerce platform, Amazon’s back end is complex and difficult to navigate, even for a seasoned warrior and well-versed “techie”. It took a month to just get the lay of the land: which was to understand how to properly create inventory items and to get a basic understanding of how payouts worked.
Over the first month, our sales grew.
February was spent gaining a deeper understanding of shipping expectations and performance metrics as we embarked upon an Amazon Prime “trial” period. If you’ve ever seen Free Shipping offered without the Prime badge, that is likely, someone like us, on a Prime Trial period. This period lasts for either 50 orders or 90 days and they are STRICT! This is a good thing. They are protecting their Prime brand and the overall satisfaction level of their customer. Make no mistake though, Prime does not mean Amazon fulfilled as my husband seemed to believe.
When I learned that Prime sellers were mostly assuming the costs and/or splitting the cost of shipping with their customers and taking lower profits, my perspective changed. No longer do I whimsically order items thinking I can easily return them because I now know that this places an undo cost burdens on small businesses, like mine. Please keep this in mind when you are shopping! Yes, Amazon Prime gives you that option but please, don’t buy unless you mean it and don’t return unless there is a real problem.
The whole Prime experience was a nightmare to learn. I kept watching my metrics and could not understand why one of them was shamefully low where the rest were perfect scores of 100%. That is when I discovered that although I kept my end of the bargain and prepared my packages on time, including delivery to the post office, my local post office did not keep theirs. In fact, out of 48 orders, 2 away from the completion of our Prime trial in late February, I wrote Amazon Support for help, frustrated with this. They were very professional and helpful and actually helped me in areas that I wasn’t aware I needed help with at the start of our call. What we discovered together is that the postal service failed to scan in my packages on the day I dropped them off in those cases. The rather chipper gentleman helping me told me how I could contact the performance metrics team and generated a report where I could detail each instance of delivery prior to the expected delivery date, but shipping a day past the expected ship date. So I did exactly that. I did not expect the Metrics Team to give me a “pass” but did expect a method I could redo the trial and reapply for Prime status in the future.
Much to our delight and surprise, Kaley and I received an email a week after our plea to the metrics team thanking us for exhibiting exemplary customer service and for staying atop of our performance metrics and taking them so seriously. In lieu of the perfect scores we had gained in all other metrics and the honesty we had provided in our detailed accounting of what transpired, including two orders where we did actually miss the ship date in the first week of the trial due to misunderstanding of the process, we were granted the Prime Badge.
In February our sales grew more.
Come March, we had this whole shipping thing figured out and started to dabble in advertisement. Amazon has two options for this. The first is to create your own targeted campaigns and the second is to let them do it for you. We tried both. The one we came up with failed miserably while the Amazon campaign brought in sale after sale. We had a few hiccups along the way the week we were converted to Prime, however,
Man alive, the two day ship option is EXPENSIVE! The default Nationwide Prime shipping template is set up for Two and One Day shipping options all over the country, however, Prime sellers are only required to offer free standard shipping. Not knowing when Prime would be “turned on”, we weren’t ready with our templates and lost a good chunk of cash in the learning process of this. We went Prime literally overnight and woke to a Two-Day order across the country. One would think we would be thrilled with the sale, right? Not in this case. The sale cost us twice as much as we earned due to the inordinate cost of shipping. Worse, I’d just had laparoscopic surgery and was unable to move and my daughter could not figure out how to adjust the shipping templates without me. We were forced to turn off Prime for a few days and sales came to a screeching halt.
When I was feeling up to it, I corrected that version of our shipping template, but I’d failed to correct the other templates and as more orders came in, more money was lost.
It took almost two weeks to sort the shipping and adjust inventory to pricing and options that allowed for a satisfying customer experience.
Have you ever seen items priced all over the place on Amazon? I know I have and now I know why!
Here’s an example. I was looking for Super Washing Soda to craft a Zero Waste Product at home. If it were in stock at my local Walmart, it would have cost me 3.47. But it wasn’t, so we checked Amazon. I found the following pricing for a .55oz box weighing 3lb 7oz:
6.63+ 4.98 shipping (11.61) – seller either is new, unaware of how to obtain Prime status, doesn’t want Prime status or failed Prime trial
11.98 + Free Shipping – seller is new and on Prime trial
11.00 Prime – Standard Shipping Only Option – Seller has passed Amazon’s strict trial
25.00 – Prime – Two Day Ship Option – Seller has passed Amazon’s strict trial
As you can see, all of these end up costing about the same except for the Two Day option. This is due to the increased cost of shipping. In this case, however, the seller is providing a customer experience option. Should someone need this item in two days, they can have it so long as they are willing to spend more to expedite the shipping.
Now, imagine I return this item because Walmart restocked it the next day. This poor seller is now out more than they made. Here is how that would look:
In this example, we are assuming that the seller bought the Super Washing Soda at a slightly discounted price of 3.00.
Cost of item: 3.00
Item Sold for 11.00.
Shipping Cost (Standard – 3lb 7oz) 5.00
Total cost to seller – 8.00
Profit – 3.00.
Now I return it. The seller assumes the cost of the new 5.00 label.
New profit – (-2.00)
This example is not taking into account Amazon’s monthly fee of 39.99 to use its platform for sales nor it’s per transaction fee that varies from item to item, but ranges between 15-30% of each sale.
Amazon takes a big cut for the use of its brand.
So is it worth it?
In March, our sales grew even more. In fact, we were offered an entire year free of the monthly service charge of 39.99 so long as we stayed below 50 orders between the first and last day of each month. As of April 1, we are no longer complimentary users.
Does it take work?
Lots and lots of it. Amazon is very good about providing the tools to succeed. You must be equally as good in taking them. Each week they send helpful insight specifically targeted to you.
Etsy is by far the easier choice and is less costly. However, our growth there was stunted in comparison. We’ve ceased advertising on Etsy for now because we are a small, growing business with a very limited marketing budget. It is our hope, however, that the large craft fairs we have scheduled, combined with the new and repeat business we are getting through Amazon, will ultimately drive traffic to our website and increase our revenues to the point where we can advertise on both platforms; Etsy and Amazon.
So there you have it. An inside look at what it takes to be an Amazon seller. It is certainly not for everyone but it absolutely working out for us!
Thanks for reading!
-April and Kaley
I tell you, twenty years ago I wouldn’t have known what zero waste meant but my young woman, headed to college in just over a year for a career in environmental studies, has opened my eyes and changed my life in the most wonderful of ways!
Not only has she instilled her profound respect for our planet, but she has taught me so much about responsible shopping to ensure that I leave the smallest footprint I can in terms of damage to the planet. Reciprocally, I have taught her a bit about damage to the body and together we have explored reducing damage to the skin and all the amazing benefits of essential oils.
This passion of hers became something we share together and was ultimately launched into our mother/daughter bath and body business, Stripped Sugar Scrubs. More-so, it created a time bond between us as we explore together, ways we can reduce our environmental footprint and concoct products in our own kitchen over harsh chemicals packaged in containers that will end up in a landfill.
This week we are focusing on Zero Waste product replacements as we use through our store bought brands. The first to try is dishwasher detergent.
We went through recipe after recipe and read a multitude of reviews. Ultimately we settled on Super Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) and white vinegar for a rinse aid. Our first run of dishes will go through tonight. I’ll post some feedback as we explore this rather inexpensive replacement product, also chosen for its versatility since we can use the component in our next replacement; laundry detergent.
Kaley found a recipe for shaving cream using products we have a stockpile of for our business needs and so we will explore that too and store the reserves in glass containers that can be reused time and again.
I am very much looking forward to these changes and will sleep peacefully at night knowing that I am helping to keep this world we live in beautiful.
I hope some of you follow along and try these techniques and recipes for yourselves. We will do our best to provide simple, step by step guides that are easy to follow. You are welcome to ask questions any time as a comment on a post.
Wish us luck!
– April and Kaley
The pictures posted below were added the day after this blog was written. Look how clean those dishes are! Best part? It cost is far less per load and is ZERO WASTE to the environment.
Of late, my daughter and I have been experimenting with face masks. We have two very different skins types so are looking for masks specific to our types but that can also work on sensitive skin because whatever I’m using, my 16 year old daughter naturally wants to try.
We will start with my skin. I have large pores, some hyper-pigmentation, am cursed with hormonally induced adult acne and of course, am starting to develop fine lines and the dreaded wrinkles. My skin is prone to being oily, so much so that make can slip off inside of two hours if I don’t set it. My skin is tough though. Next to nothing bothers it.
Then there is Kaley. As a teenager she is afflicted with localized acne that flares with hormonal changes. Add to this the complication of extremely sensitive skin and a splash of rosacea and she has to be very careful of what is applied to her face. Luckily she doesn’t have my oversized pores or ruddy complexion, but she struggles far more than I do for sure.
With these two very different skin types and conditions, we are challenged to create products that work for both of us. This one worked great!
It is a Cocoa and Coffee Bean Mask that we tweaked slightly for each of us.
For both we used:
1.5 tbsp organic cocao powder
1 teaspoon fresh very finely ground organic coffee beans
For Kaley’s dry skin we added 2.5 tbsp organic local honey
For my oily skin we added 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice and 1 tbsp distilled water
These ingredients were mixed in two separate bowls and applied with clean fingers like any other mask. We let the masks sit for about 15 minutes and rinsed.
What we got was amazingly tight and refreshed skin. Kaley got added moisture and I got excess oil removed.
It was wonderful and barely cost us a thing. Furthermore, we enjoyed the craft experience and time spent pampering our skin together.
Kaley is a little camera shy so requested I not out her face directly out in all my photos so that request is going to be honored until she tells me otherwise. As for me, I am who I am; a 40 something woman intending to defy mother age and gravity for as long as possible.
I actually started writing this a couple of weeks ago and have since tried a few other DIY masks and other products. More blogs will come as we review the good, the bad, the outright hysterical and how you can have amazing skin using organic and natural products on a budget.
April and Kaley
Post written by April
Let’s face it. Today’s society is centered on vanity. We must look our best, feel our best, be our best. Billions of dollars fly through the health and beauty aisle as we are left to drown in choices.
Chuck it all, I say! Show me a product on a shelf and I can craft something similar or better myself using natural ingredients I don’t struggle to pronounce and the results will be the same. And guess what? In many cases, so can you and we’re going to teach you how from time to time through our blogs.
This evening we were on the hunt for a hair restoration mask for Kaley, who has been struggling with hair follicles over producing oil. This causes her gorgeous blonde locks to look dull and lifeless. So out came a few things from our kitchen and within minutes, Kaley’s blonde tresses were being cleaned, nourished and …………green!
We whipped up a homemade, nutrient-rich hair mask in just a few minutes and the results were FABULOUS!
I wish we’d thought to take before pics but we weren’t really planning on blogging the experience. It just kind of happened.
So how did we turn her dull, greasy hair into bouncy and vibrant in 20 minutes?
It was pretty easy really. We took
1 ripe avacado
1 ripe banana
And mashed these up to a pulp using a fork and a little elbow work. Then we added
1 tbsp organic coconut oil after we’d warmed it to the point where it melts (76 degrees in this case) and mixed this into the mashed items above with the same trusty fork.
Voila! Green hair goo.
To apply it evenly on the ends of her hair and be mindful not to come within two inches of the roots, we used a hair dye applicator brush we picked up at Sally’s for a few dollars the day before. It worked like a charm and we laughed while the green sweet vegetable smelling goo was worked into her tresses.
Once that was done we waited about 15 minutes and off she went into the shower where she rinsed out the mask and followed with her usual haircare regime.
Minutes later, when her hair was cleaned and dry, the dull lifeless locks were gone, replaced by pretty blonde highlights and a smile.
We had some of the mask left over and so dated it, placed it in a container and shoved it in the freezer. Although fresh is best, we will give this another go in a week.
Why not try it for yourself and feel the savings both in your wallet, and on your environmental footprint?
-April and Kaley
Some people plan their visits to the grocery store and stock up for the week. Some zip through the aisles like they just won a timed shopping spree, while others dawdle through, overwhelmed by the choices. I don’t fall into any of these categories and I hope you don’t either!
I may well be the world’s slowest shopper and I’m proud of it! I don’t dawdle but I do read every label before a product goes into my cart. If I don’t recognize an ingredient, out comes my phone and off I go on a Google adventure so that I can decide if I want that unknown thing in my or my family’s bodies.
If I am buying fish, I want to know where it came from. Is it farmed, previously frozen or wild? If I buy it, am I damaging some eco system somewhere? Again with the Google adventure.
In short, I am an educated shopper and I encourage you all to be. Paying attention to what you put into and on your body is empowering and helps one become aware of the world around you. This awareness increases the likelihood of making cleaner, healthier choices for yourself and your loved ones and ultimately serves to protect the planet we inhabit.
Take a chance. Schedule some extra time on your next shopping trip to stop and smell your labels.
Written by April
Is waking to a sunrise full of promise and hopeAfter a day full of frustration and angst that was my yesterday, I am grateful to have witnessed this spectacular view and for the wisdom to pause and enjoy it.
Take time out of your days as often as possible to enjoy the things that bring you happiness and fill your soul. Life is too often riddled with stress and turmoil. It is a winding road full of potholes and crevices so enjoying the simple pleasures offered along the way is a must.
Featured image taken several months back from the air. The last time I caught a sunrise.