Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Decadent DIY: Spa Products You Can Make

photo by The Exo Guy/Flickr

Homemade oils, creams, and other products can be just as luxurious and fragrant as anything you can buy at the store. As a bonus, they’re simple to make, can save you a ton of money, and are much more natural and eco-friendly than conventional products. Most beauty and personal care products contain phthalates, formaldehyde, parabens or other chemicals that have been linked to reproductive, neurological and endocrine problems. Not exactly beautiful, huh? While most of my personal care products are still commercially made, I’ve been experimenting with some beauty care recipes and wanted to share three of my favorites with you. Packaged in lovely reusable bottles, these make decadent gifts for anyone you want to indulge.

Eye Make-Up Remover/Moisturizing Eye Oil
I use this one daily for removing eye make-up, including waterproof mascara, and I love how it gently removes everything and nourishes the eye area at the same time. It’s full of antioxidants and has a luxurious, relaxing scent. Take care not to get it IN your eyes though!

  • 3 tsp castor oil
  • 4 tsp sweet almond oil
  • 4 tsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil
  • 60 drops pomegranate seed oil
  • 0 drops pure lavender oil

Mix together and store in a dark bottle. Use a bit on a cotton ball to wipe away eye makeup and moisturize the eye area. Used in the evening, it’ll soak in overnight and won’t affect make-up the next day. Makes a little more than 2 oz.

Soothing Clay Mask
I use this once a week to draw out toxins and impurities in my skin. The recipe is based on one I learned at a natural spa on the island of Dominica.

  • 1 cup Bentonite clay
  • 30 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 30 drops pure lavender essential oil
  • 20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1 tsp jojoba oil

Mix well and store in a waterproof container — I reuse an old body butter jar. To use, mix with a little water, smear on your skin (works fabulously on the face and neck) and allow to dry for 10 minutes, then rinse well.

Relaxing Linen Spray

  • 8 oz bottle with sprayer (I prefer a dark glass bottle)
  • 2 tbsp vodka (cheap is good)
  • Distilled water to fill
  • 20 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 30 drops pure lavender essential oil
  • 20 drops rose essential oil

Mix together and store in a cool dark place. To use, shake gently and spritz on pillows, bedding or towels. I keep one on my nightstand, and I take some whenever I travel to freshen hotel rooms.

Do you have a favorite homemade spa concoction you’d like to share? A favorite beauty secret or personal care product you like to make? What DIY products are you experimenting with?

4 Ways to Free Up Time and Energy Before the Holidays

To Do: Everything

Photo by john.schultz/flickr

The holiday season is descending upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you might be feeling overwhelmed and at the end of your rope. Do you know the feeling of biting off more than you can chew, getting neck deep in too many projects? I do. Now is the perfect time to cut back, to simplify your commitments and your schedule. By finding ways now to create space in your life, you can create a happier, more joyful holiday as well. Here are 4 suggestions for freeing up time and energy.

  1. Reign in the crazy. My friends and I have a phrase we use whenever it looks like one of us is getting in over our heads — we tell her to reign in the crazy. This phrase most often creeps up when one of us is planning a child’s birthday party, but I think it’s the perfect mantra for the holiday season. While the holidays seem to be all about excess, they don’t have to be. Do you usually buy tons of toys for your kids and extravagant gifts for friends and family? Do you make mountains of food that ends up going in the trash because everyone is too stuffed to eat any more? Do you decorate every nook and cranny of your house, only to dread the part where the season’s over and you’re forced to take all of it down again and store it in too little space? Do you have to do any of that? No, you don’t. Take a hard look at your “usual” holiday habits and figure out which traditions mean the most to you and your family, then cut the rest out. Reign in the crazy.
  2. Say no. Of course, that’s the first thing all the books tell you to do. Just say no to as many of those extra tasks that creep up day to day as you possibly can. Evaluate all requests as to how they fit in with your goals before you commit, particularly in this busy season filled with parties, shopping, traveling and other holiday events. Be just a little selfish — stick to just the events and commitments that mean the most to you and let go of the ones that don’t.
  3. Trim the to-do list. My to-do list is crazy. I’m one of those people that writes every little thing down, just because I’m afraid I’ll forget something I “wanted” or “needed” to do. Take a look at your to-do list. Are there tasks listed that you don’t really “need” to do? Tasks that could be simplified, delegated or even eliminated? Get in the habit of using the words “I could” or “I’d like to” instead of “I need to” for all tasks that aren’t urgent or important. You can always create a “to-do later” list separate from your daily to-do’s, so tasks are noted but not staring you in the face each day.
  4. Do it little by little. I have a tendency to procrastinate on projects that I think may take a lot of work or that I just don’t want to do. The easiest way to handle those big projects, especially the dreaded ones, is to break them down into smaller tasks and do just a bit at a time, instead of trying to tackle the whole thing at once. It’s just too overwhelming. Instead of “decorate the house for Christmas,” try “decorate the mantle with stockings,” then “set up the Christmas tree,” then maybe “put up holiday lights on the porch.” It’s a lot easier to tackle one of those smaller tasks than to be faced with the open-ended prospect of decorating a whole house.