Ditching Toxic Chemicals – One by One

I’ve taken a break from my blog over the past year – as I was finishing up the last year of my MBA.  Now that I’ve got that under my belt, and have more time to jot down my thoughts (and make crafty tutorials!), I figured it’s about time that I pick it back up where I left off.  My journey for wellness through oils has only expanded since the last time I wrote and I’ll tell you a little bit about why.  I’ve been continuing to rid our house of toxic chemicals.

Toxic Chemicals in personal care

I’ll be really honest with you.  I never used to think twice about the products I used. Whether it was personal care products, household products such as laundry detergent and dryer sheets (Yikes! Switch to DIY Dryer Balls) or household cleaners.  I assumed that everything was SAFE.  After all, there had to be regulations – right?  Wrong!  You can not assume the products available at the store have been tested for safety – because they haven’t been! Many products have toxic ingredients with long names that you can’t even pronounce.  When looking at personal care products, the US only bans 11 ingredients.  Learning this was a complete eye-opener to me!  Europe, in comparison, bans over 1,400 ingredients.

Over the past 2 years, we have been on a journey to get rid of the toxic chemicals in our house – and we are getting close to completely switching over to safer products in all aspects of our life.  It’s what inspired me to start this blog in the first place.  We ditched the candles (AND my Scentsy! Oh, this one was so hard for me to stop using!), began diffusing essential oils, and using them for wellness, and now we’ve expanded to safer personal care products and household cleaner products.  It’s a complete wellness journey and it definitely didn’t happen overnight.

Getting Rid of Toxic Chemicals Takes Time

It all happened in baby steps.  As we ran out of a product, I always looked for safer options.  Some other products I dropped cold turkey – like the dryer sheets.  Once I learned what was in dryer sheets, I could not continue to use them. Others we switched over more recently – like deodorant without aluminum and shampoo.   If you are looking to ditch toxic chemicals in your house – my advice is to take baby steps.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  You probably shouldn’t throw away everything you own at once – although after reading ingredients and gathering this pile of cleaning and personal care products with toxic chemicals – I’m a little bit blown away and wanted to do just that.  I thought I had gotten rid of most of it in the past 2 years – but it turns out I hadn’t.

Trade Secrets Are Hiding Ingredients

One fact I recently learned.  Did you know that if a product has “fragrance” in it it is a trade secret, so they do not have to reveal what is in that fragrance?  That’s right – there could be 100’s of toxic chemicals in the fragrance, but they don’t have to say because it is a “trade secret.”  To me that is maddening.  This is why in the past 6 months, I have turned to Beautycounter for safer personal care items.  Whether it be shampoo, moisturizer or cosmetics, Beautycounter has safer options for you and your family.

If you take anything away from this post it is this: nobody screens the products you buy to put on your skin and clean your house for safety.  Read the ingredients label and avoid the ingredients that are known to be hormone disruptors, linked to infertility and cancer.  Ignorance is not an option.  Some day I hope that I don’t have to worry about the things I buy at the store.  For now, it looks like for now that burden is on me.  Luckily there are tools to keep me aware so I can make good choices.

xoxo,
Jess

DIY Foaming Hand Soap with Essential Oils

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

Do you love foaming hand soap?  I know that I do!  I used to get every scent under the sun at Bath and Body Works before I realized all the chemicals that were contained in the fragrance of the soap.  No more!  But i still use the cute foam soap pumps I got…like this pumpkin one!

DIY Foaming Hand Soap with Essential Oils

Ingredients for one bottle of soap:

It’s as easy as mixing all the ingredients in the foaming hand soap bottle and shaking it up.  You may be wondering why I like to use Thieves oil.  If you check the Essential Oil Starter Guide you can learn more about Thieves and the fact that it has anti-bacterial properties that make it great for soap. That’s all you need to make your very own hand soap, for just pennies!

What are your favorite oils to use in your DIY foaming hand soap?

Enjoy!

xoxo,
Jess

How to Make Your Own Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls are not a new concept.  You can buy them online, and in many stores…but why not make your own since it is so easy to do?

DIY Dryer Ball Tutorial

You may be thinking, what are the benefits to dryer balls?  I love to use dryer sheets!  

There are many!  Some of the benefits include: reducing the chemicals you use on your clothes, reduce the drying time in your dryer, reduces static in your laundry and prevents wrinkles!  For me, that was enough to try them out…and now that I have, I can add another benefit to the list, they are pretty sitting in this cute little basket on top of your dryer. 🙂

I have to admit, it’s only been in the past year that I have truly paid attention to the chemicals that are in the products we use for skincare, cleaning, laundry, etc.  It’s been eyeopening to realize the chemicals that are in the things we use every single day without thinking about it (and how bad they are for your!)  These wool dryer balls are just another of the many ways that I can put my essential oils to good use.  

How to Make Wool Dryer Balls

DIY Dryer Ball Supplies

Supplies Needed:

  • 100% wool yarn (1 skein makes about 2 dryer balls slightly larger than tennis balls)
  • Pantyhose
  • Crochet hook
  • Essential Oils (click here to learn more about the essential oils I use)

1. Start by wrapping the yarn around your index and middle finger approximately 10 times.

DIY Dryer Balls

2.  Slide the looped yarn off your fingers and wrap yarn around the center of the loops to start to form the ball.

DIY Dryer Balls

3. Continue to evenly create the ball.

DIY Dryer Balls

4. Once the ball is the size you desire, use the crochet hook to pull the end of yarn through the ball to secure.

I prefer a dryer ball to be slightly larger than a tennis ball, but it is completely personal preference.

DIY Dyer Balls

5. Slide the yarn balls into your pantyhose and tie them very securely into a “caterpillar shape.”

Note it is very important that you tie it securely.  I did not do this on one of my sets, and it came completely unwound in the washer.  I definitely learned my lesson the hard way!IMG_4208

6. Wash your dryer balls in the hot water setting, and dry them in the hottest dry cycle to “felt them.”  Take them out of the pantyhose.  You only need to use the pantyhose the first time to fuse them.

7.  Add a drop of essential oil to each dryer ball before you use it.  I love to use lavender!  Just toss them in the dryer with your clothes.Wool Dryer Balls

A little more info on these wood dryer balls.

  • They last for years!  You can reuse them over and over and they only become more felted, which is good!
  • You need 2-4 for small loads and 4-6 for large heavy loads (such as jeans or towels).  Generally speaking, the more you use, the more it will speed up the drying process.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you have any questions about these in the comments.  I hope that you love these wool dryer balls as much as I do!

xoxo,
Jess

 

 

Homemade Sugar Scrub Recipe

Homemade Sugar Scrub

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a good homemade sugar scrub.  In the past I have spent big bucks on buying this exfoliating product that leaves your skin feeling oh so soft.  Typically the brands I used to buy were $30-40 a jar!  What if I told you, you could make the same thing for just a few bucks, in BULK!?  These are perfect for gifts and you can make them with your favorite essential oils.  Are you interested in learning more about essential oils?  Check out this page for more info!  You can use any essential oil…I’ve tried Peace & Calming, Lavender and Orange – all are awesome!

You may be wondering…can you use salt for the scrub too?  You certainly can, but sugar is less abrasive on the skin, so I would recommend the sugar scrub, rather than the salt scrub

Homemade Sugar Scrub Recipe

What you will need:

  • 2.5 cups of sugar
  • 8 oz of grapeseed oil (or almond oil)
  • 30 drops of your favorite essential oil – lavender is my favorite!
  • 4 half pint mason jars
  • Wooden Scoops – perfect for scooping out your salts when you want to use them!
  • A cute label for the jar 🙂 – always a cute touch if you are giving them as gifts!

1.  Mix all the ingredients in a big glass bowl.

2.  Adjust the ratio as needed.  If you would like your scrub more “liquid like” add more of you carrier oil.  If it seems too “liquid like,” add more sugar to thicken the mixture.

3.  Give as gifts or pamper yourself!  This homemade sugar scrub is a great exfoliator that is just like what you are used to buying in the stores for a fraction of the cost!

What essential oils do you like to use in your sugar scrubs?  Comment below, I would love to hear from you! 🙂

xoxo,
Jess

Easy Geometric DIY Canvas Art Tutorial

Do you ever have blank spots on your wall that you are just dying to fill?  I definitely do. Which is why I started to think up ideas for DIY canvas art for my brand new craft room!  But, if you’re like me, you don’t want to fill them with just anything to use the space.  I always like to find things (or make things) that are meaningful to me.  When I finished my renovating my craft room at our house (future blog post to come on that project :)), I had a bunch of very purple and very empty walls to fill.  I wanted to make sure that I started filling it with pieces that meant something to me, rather than just finding a good deal on something I sort of enjoy.  That is where the idea of this DIY canvas art came from.  This is another one of my thrifty DIY projects!  You can make this DIY canvas art, for just about $10 in any size or color to match your decor.

Geometric DIY Canvas Art


Supplies Needed:

  • Blank canvas in the size of your choice (mine is 12″ x 12″)
  • Exacto knife
  • 1 piece of 12″ x 12″ cardstock in the color of your choice
  • A stencil for the shape you want to cut out
  • Paint & paintbrush if you want the canvas to be a color other than white
  • Glue

1. Pick out the pattern/shape you would like to cut out

I found this fun geometric pattern and thought it would pop really well with the contrasting colors.

2. Create a stencil to use as a guide

I used my Silhouette Cameo to create a stencil out of cardstock.  You don’t need a Silhouette to do this project.  You can always find a stencil at the store or make one yourself by cutting a shape of your choice out in cardstock.

3. Use the stencil to trace the shape you want to cut out on the back side of the canvas

4. Cut out the stenciled shape with the exacto knife

5. Optional step – paint the canvas the color of your choice

6. Paste the colored cardstock on the back side of the canvas

7. Hang your DIY Canvas Art on the wall of your choice!

That’s it!  You’ve got yourself a DIY canvas art piece for under $10, and an evening of cutting.  You can find a design that is as intricate or not as you want.  This is about as complicated as I decided to go.  If you look close, the cuts are not perfect, but it definitely makes a statement on the wall regardless.

xoxo,
Jess

Easy DIY Citronella Candles


DIY Citronella Candles
I am not sure about your backyard, but ours is FULL of mosquitoes as soon as the sun goes down.  It’s downright uncomfortable to be outside.  I’ve always used citronella candles, but I have never made them.  While these DIY citronella candles might not completely get rid of all of those pesky mosquitoes, they are a huge help!  You can use this same recipe to make other candles with any essential oil you have, it doesn’t need to be citronella!  I think lavender or orange might be the next DIY candles I make…

Citronella Oil

I just got this Citronella oil  last week…it has been out of stock for months!!  As soon as I got it, my wheels were turning on how I could use it, and this was the perfect way to try out Citronella with an EASY project!

Supplies Needed:

DIY Citronella Candle Supplies

 

  • Mason Jars – I like the fun colored ones from Joann’s
  • Floating wicks (I got mine on Amazon – see link.  I looked at Joann’s and Michael’s and was not able to find them there.)
  • Water
  • Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil
  • Citronella Oil – Or any essential oil of your choice (learn more about the oils I use here)

Steps to make Easy DIY Citronella Candles

These candles are so easy, they literally take 5 minutes to make.

1.  Pour in water, but leave about 1.5 inches from the top of the jar

2.  Pour about 1/2 cup of oil in a separate container with 10 drops of Citronella Oil, stir it up good.

3.  Pour the oil on top of the water.  Don’t worry about it mixing with the water, it will naturally float to the top of the water in the jar.

4.  Put your floating wick on the top of the oil layer.

5.  Light your candle, and keep the bugs away! 🙂

Have you tried any other essential oils in candles?  I’d love to hear how you’ve used them with candles in the comments!

xoxo,
Jess

 

DIY Outdoor & Camping Spray with Essential Oils

I absolutely love spending time outdoors in the summer.  There is nothing better than a summer evening sitting by a campfire with family and friends.  Except for the pesky bugs that tend to interrupt an otherwise peaceful night outside.  I can’t stand using those other sprays with DEET and other harmful chemicals.  Not only do they not smell good at all, they are just not good for you!  I never thought that it was possible to have an outdoor spray that actually smelled good!  Lately, I’ve been asked what is that smell??  Everyone (including me) is very surprised at how good an outdoor spray can smell and actually work to keep the bugs away!

I highly recommend you try this out for your next outdoor adventure.  It will keep the pesky bugs away, and won’t break the bank.  I love finding new ways to use essential oils, and I can’t wait to share this recipe with you.  The best part is…all three oils come in the Premium Starter Kit!  If you haven’t started your oily journey yet and would like some more information on essential oils, check out how you can start on my team and get the Premium Starter Kit thru Young Living here!

Ingredients Needed to make DIY Camping Spray with Essential Oils:

DIY Outdoor Camping Spray

Mix together all the ingredients above and pour them into the glass bottles using a funnel.  That’s it!  You’re ready to enjoy the outdoors without being bothered by those pesky bugs! 🙂

xoxo,
Jess

 

Modern Square Burlap Wreath Tutorial

I have to be honest. I’ve never really loved or gotten into the “burlap craze.” When I was planning our wedding last year, it seemed liked the fad for the year was rustic weddings with burlap EVERYWHERE. While it is cute, it really just isn’t my style.  I have to admit, it has grown on me. Still, after seeing many different burlap wreath examples and tutorials, I felt as though I had to put a modern twist on it. Check out this simple tutorial for a modern square burlap wreath. It’s about a 90 minute project, and costs just about 15 dollars per wreath. Can’t beat that!  Remember Katie, from our old blog…Thursday Night Threads?  She and I made this together, and had a blast doing it! 🙂

Modern Square Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Supplies Needed:

  • 14 ” Square Floral Wire Wreath (got it at Michael’s for about $3 with my 25% off coupon)
  • Floral Wire – you don’t need a lot.  (under 5 feet)
  • Twine (about 4 feet)
  • Pins with the pearlized heads
  • 1/4 yard of purple burlap (or another color of your choice)
  • 1/4 yard of teal burlap (or another color of your choice)
  • 1/4 yard of white burlap (or another color of your choice)
  • A few scraps of felt (to glue the burlap on to make the flowers)
  • 2 rolls of 5″ wide burlap “ribbon” (about 15 meters per wreath is needed.  The needed amount depends on how loose or tight you want your burlap loops)
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors

1. Attach Wire to Burlap “Ribbon”

Square Burlap wreath attach with wire

Weave the floral wire on the end of the burlap “ribbon” to have a method to attach the burlap to the metal floral wreath for the first time.

 

2. Attach the End of the Burlap to the Floral Wire Wreath

Attaching Burlap to Wire WreathI wove the wire around one of the crossbars on the wire wreath.  You want to make sure you secure this tightly so that it stays attached as this is really the only way your burlap is going to stay attached to the wreath while you are weaving the loops of burlap through the wreath frame.

 

3. Start your First Loop

Square Burlap Wreath burlap loopOkay, ask Katie…this part was FILLED with frustration.  Starting this wreath is frustrating for us perfectionists.  You just have to trust me when I say, start a few “rows” of loops and it will all turn out.  I got hung up on the first few loops for awhile, until I decided to move on and trust that it will turn out, even if the first couple of loops aren’t perfect.  When you thread your loop between the wire bars, twist it afterwards to ensure that it stays in place.

 

4.  Feed the Burlap Under the Wire Bar to Make Your Next Loop

Looping burlap on Square Burlap wreathOnce you loop it through the bars, be sure to twist your second loop so that it stays in place.  I kind of lightly held the loops as I progressed along.  I will be honest, it is really hard to show this in pictures.  The one thing that seems kind of weird as you start is that you’re not actually covering up the wires.  Trust me as long as you push the loops close together, they will “fill out” the space and cover all of the wire completely.

 

5.  Repeat the Looping Process Until Your Wreath is Complete

unnamed

unnamed (2)Completed Square Burlap Wreath

 

6.  Start Making the Burlap Flowers for the Wreath

I made 9 flowers for the wreath (3 of each color of burlap), but it’s really up to you how many you want to make (or have the patience to make! 🙂 ).  I cut strips of burlap 1.5″ wide and of varying lengths.  I wanted to create different sized flowers, which is why I did all different lengths.  I cut strips anywhere from 12″ long for the small flowers, to 30″ long for the larger flowers.

Start of burlap flower
Fold the burlap strip in half for the center of the flower.
burlap3
Roll the burlap a few times around
Center of Burlap Flower
Once you get the center of the flower how you want it, take the remaining burlap (unfolded now) and twist it around the center of the flower. There is no right or wrong to this
Burlap Wreath Flower
This is how the flower looks as you twist the burlap around the center.
Attaching the burlap flower to felt
Here is a finished flower glued to felt for stability.
Back of burlap flower for Square burlap wreath
Cut off the excess felt
Finished Flower for Burlap Wreath
Completed burlap flower

 

7. Make the Bow for the Wreath

I cut a strip of purple burlap out 3.5″ x 21″ for the bow.  You can really make it however big or small you would like it.

Top of Bow for Wreath
Glue the ends of the strip together to make the bow.
Bow for square burlap wreath
Gather the center of the bow
Tying the bow for the square burlap wreath
Tie the gathered center together with twine

 

8.  Make the “Ends” of the Bow

I cut out 2 strips about 10″ long and 3.5″ wide for each ribbon end.  I cut a “V” out at the end of each to dress up the ends.

 

9.  Glue on the Bow and Flowers

I used hot glue and some of the floral wire to attach the ribbon to the top left hand corner of the wreath.  I hot glued the flowers in a random pattern at the bottom right hand corner of the wreath.  This is where you can get creative and arrange things however you would like!  Once you have the flowers in place, put the pearlized pins in the center of the flowers to give them some added “sparkle” and character.

That’s it!!  You have made your very own Modern Square Burlap Wreath! 🙂  We hope you have fun making your own!

xoxo,
Jess & Katie

 

Modern Square Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Front Door Welcome Post Tutorial

Welcome Post TutorialMy husband, Joe and I bought a house last fall, and we are constantly working on projects here and there to decorate our new place.  I’ve always wanted a more welcoming entrance, which is why I’m always making some door decoration or another.  I decided it was time to expand beyond the door decoration, to this cute front door welcome post to hang seasonal signs!

Materials Needed: 

  • 4 x 4 (I got an 8 foot piece, so that it could make 3 posts)
  • 1 x 4 (I got an 8 foot piece as well, so that it could make 8 signs)
  • 1 x 6 (this is used to create the base and top of the post)
  • Oil rubbed bronze hook
  • Black spray paint
  • Off white spray paint
  • Screws
  • “Welcome” stencil
  • Foam paint brush
  • Outdoor black acrylic paint
  • Wire to hang the sign
  • Tools – drill & saw

 

1. Cut out the pieces for the welcome post

 

IMG_1550

As I mentioned in the materials list, I bought enough to make several posts.  Here I’ll let you know what you will need for just one post.  For the 4×4, I made it 32″ tall.  This can definitely be suited to your preference, but it was the height that I thought looked good at my front door.

This project definitely needs some serious power tools (ie. a table saw).  I supposed you could use a circular saw or something more portable, but the table saw was nice for cutting the squares.  I had my dad do the cutting on the table saw. 🙂  Each post has 4 squares for the base and the top of the post.  2 are 5.5″ x 5.5″, and 2 are 4.5″ x 4.5″.

The sign itself was made out of the 1″ x 4″ and I made it 12″ long.  I bought a 8 foot board, as I plan to make signs for every season (yes, that means more tutorials to come!! 🙂 ).

 

2.  Attach the squares on the top and bottom with a couple of screws

Here is a close up of the base of the post with the squares attached.  The base and the top of the post are identical.

 

IMG_1552

IMG_36063. Paint the welcome post and sign

 

I just used spray paint to paint the sign and the post.  I used Krylon Paint + Primer to make sure that it will be able to withstand the oh so variable Minnesota weather.

IMG_3610

4.  Attach the hook to the welcome post

 

5.  Make the sign – this is where you can get creative!!

I used my Cricut to make the “Welcome” stencil with cardstock.  I took a sponge paintbrush and “dobbed” the black welcome on the off white sign.  I drilled 2 holes near the top left and right corners of the sign and attached the wire to hang the sign.

FullSizeRender

I just LOVE this welcome post project.  I love decorating for holidays, and this will allow me to have many different signs for the seasons of the year…I think it’s time to start thinking about fall and Halloween signs!  Stay tuned!!

 

Chalk Paint Restores Your Old Furniture!

Okay…have you heard of chalk paint?!  This is one of my most exciting crafty discoveries in the past few months.  It can completely transform your old furniture into something new and spiffy.  It’s so easy than ANYONE can do it (and I mean anyone 🙂 )!  Have I caught your attention yet?!

Late last year, my parents bought a cabin and we have been working on all kinds of projects to renovate it.  One project that we just started thinking about was the vanity in the bathroom.  This is what it looked like to start with.  It had an equally hideous mirror to match the vanity.  Clearly we HAD to do something to jazz it up.  The oak looked very grimy and the knobs were corroding.  We decided to transform the vanity with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

Before the chalk paint transformation

Supplies Needed:

  • A paint brush with natural bristles (We used a Purdy brush from Menards
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – we used Paris Grey (check out all the awesome colors available)
  • Soap and water and a rag to clean up the existing wood (you may not need this if your furniture is already clean)
  • Wipe on polyurethane (we used this kind) or the Annie Sloan wax
  • That’s IT!  NO SANDPAPER NEEDED!! 🙂

Steps to complete your chalk paint transformation:

1. Use soap and water to wipe down the furniture piece.  All you are doing here is making sure that it is clean.

2.  Take off the doors, hardware and hinges to make it easier to paint.

3. Start painting with your chalk paint!  It really is that easy.  This is where I was not a believer to start.  I truly did not think that there would be a way to refinish furniture without sanding off the layer of poly on the top.  You really do not have to sand the furniture first.  Why did I not know this 6 months ago when I sanded down over 15 cabinets and doors to revamp my craft room?!!  The best part is, you don’t have to be very particular or paint it any certain way. Just cover up the old finish!

4.  Once you have painted a coat, let it dry and paint a second coat.

5.  Once the 2nd coat of chalk paint has dried you have a couple of choices.  You can use the Annie Sloan Wax to “seal” the chalk paint, or you can use wipe on polyurethane.  We went with the wipe on poly.  Mostly because it’s cheap and we already had it from previous projects.

6.  Attach the hardware and put the furniture piece back together. (For our project, we still need to attach the drawer pulls at the bottom, but then it’s done!)

After chalk paint

 

WOW! I am truly amazed at how easy it was to completely transform a furniture piece that we wanted to throw away before.  It really looks great now!  I can’t wait to start tackling some other furniture.  Perhaps a headboard for our guest bedroom?  🙂

You have to check out chalk paint for your own project!  It will completely amaze you how you can take an old furniture piece from trash to treasure.  I would love to see and hear what you transform with chalk paint!

Jess

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