D.I.Y. Anti-Aging and Brightening Face Mask

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So, I’m turning 40 in 2 months! I’m super excited, because it puts me into the masters division for racing, but what I’m not so excited about is that I’m starting to look my age!  The fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage, etc. sneak up on you like a little skin ninja!  On a super good day, I can still look like I’m in my mid 30’s, but on a bad day, it looks like I magically aged a decade or so overnight, and am 50 something!

About 5-6 months ago, I started looking at different all natural facial skin treatments on Pinterest.  Most of the ones I found are for those in their 20’s, aimed more at acne than at anti-aging or hyperpigmentation.  However, I started to research some different ingredients, and trying different concoctions, and I came up with one that is great for someone that is looking for something effective, all-natural, and good for people with maturing skin.

To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to post this, because I was a little nervous about putting pictures of my face in all it’s naked glory when I’ve just woken up in the morning on here, but I love this mask so much that I knew I had to share!  I use this mask once or twice a week, and it never fails to make my face feel all soft and bright.  I also love it, because it is ALL NATURAL ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about any of the nasty chemicals that are in store-bought face masks, or chemical peels/masks that you get at the spa. Plus, um, it’s SO much cheaper!

There is a good chance that you already have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen, which is another plus.  There’s just four simple ingredients, and all of them have great health benefits for the skin!

Avocado: High in Vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and omega-9 fatty acids, which makes the avocado provide the following skin benefits:

  • Anti-aging: reduces sun damage, smooths fine lines and wrinkles,
  • Protects against environmental damage
  • Improves skin tone and appearance
  • Boosts collagen

Coconut Oil: Coconut oil has too many good things in it to list, but here are several of the skin benefits it can provide:

  • Delivers moisture to dry skin
  • Reduces undereye bags
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Antibacterial properties that aid in reducing and preventing acne
  • Cleanses skin and pores
  • Great for eczema and other skin conditions
  • Natural SPF of about 4

Nutmeg: Nutmeg has long been used as a medicinal herb when it comes to the skin.  Some of the benefits it provides are as follows:

  • Helps to reduce/eliminate the appearance of scars from blemishes
  • Reduces inflammation and irritation of the skin
  • promotes hydration of the skin
  • smooths appearance of the skin
  • brightens and evens skin tone

Turmeric: Contains curcumin, curcuma, powerful antioxidant and antibacterial properties giving it the following skin benefits:

  • Lightens and brightens skin tone
  • Treats acne
  • Soothes skin inflammation
  • Reduces redness
  • Helps prevent and reduce scarring from acne

Like I said, I came up with this mask by trial and error.  What prompted it was that I was using a sun screen that was really thick, so I decided to mix a small amount of coconut oil with it so it would spread on better, and I started to notice an improvement in my skin.  After that, I decided to make a coconut oil based mask, and the other ingredients are the ones that I’ve found to be the best for my needs.  It is my favorite for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, providing moisture, and brightening and evening my skin tone.

Okay, so here’s the part I was hesitant about – my before, during, and after photos of this mask:

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These are completely makeup free and un-retouched, not to mention they are from when I’ve just woken up in the morning, so you can see all my imperfections…but hey, we’re all perfectly imperfect, right? 🙂  Anyway, let’s get up close and personal, so you can really see that the mask does make a difference in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as brighten the complexion.

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You can see a slight reduction in my lines and wrinkles on my forehead and around my eyes and mouth, and the brightening effect is obvious.  Of course, it’s not a miracle worker where it just takes everything away completely in one application. However, I’ve been using this about 2 times per week over the past 4 months or so, and I’ve definitely noticed a difference that is just as good, if not better, as the results I get from store-bought masks (and WITHOUT the chemicals – this is SO important to me), so I give it my stamp of approval!

ANTI-AGING AND SKIN BRIGHTENING FACE MASK

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 organic ripe avocado, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. organic, unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. organic nutmeg
  • pinch of organic turmeric (don’t overdo this ingredient, otherwise, you may end up with a yellow face for a day…I learned this the hard way 🙂 )

Directions:

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash the avocado.  Mash in the coconut oil, and mix in the nutmeg and turmeric. Apply to face, and leave on for 15 minutes.  Rinse with warm water, and pat dry.

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Give it a try!  You’ve got nothing to lose, but the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots!  Enjoy! 🙂

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Super Easy DIY Silver Polishing

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Pinterest win!!!  I’ve been on a minimalist kick lately, so am trying to get rid of some things.  As I was going through my jewelry to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, I came across some of my silver jewelry (including my favorite bracelet) that I would totally wear, but they were a bit tarnished, because it had been awhile since I last used them.

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I decided that I wanted to keep these pieces, but I would need to get some silver polish…then the light bulb in my head went off, and I thought – PINTEREST!  Sure enough, there were tons of DIY silver polish tricks and recipes.  They all were a little bit different, but it was the same main idea. I decided to try a little bit of each of them to come up with my own process.

I don’t mean to brag, but this little concoction/procedure turned out FANTASTIC!  I’m pretty sure Harvard will be calling soon in hopes that I will accept an honorary P.h.D. in Chemistry, but I probably won’t accept.  Hey, I’m just a humble gal trying to salvage some of her favorite jewelry pieces!

The great news is that all that you need to clean silver is probably in your kitchen cupboard, and oh my gosh, guys – this stuff WORKS!  I was skeptical because it seemed so simple, but by golly, it worked!

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It’s completely safe and non-toxic, and the way that I did it keeps the mess to a minimum (I read a lot of posts on Pinterest that complained of the mess of adding baking soda to boiling water – don’t worry!  The way I did this will keep that from happening).

It doesn’t just work for jewelry either!  You can use it for silverware, silver figurines, etc…plain and simple, it works!  Seriously, guys – you need to try this stuff!  You will feel like a mad scientist in your kitchen as you watch the tarnish magically disappear, and you will be left with beautifully shiny and brilliant silver!

DIY SILVER POLISH

Materials Needed:

  • A large bowl (big enough to fit whatever you are cleaning)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 1 Tbsp. Baking Soda per 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 tsp. salt per 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • boiling water (enough to cover whatever you are cleaning)

Directions:

1.) Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.  While the water is heating up, line your bowl with aluminum foil.

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2.) Place the baking soda and sea salt in the bottom of the lined bowl. Slowly add the vinegar and watch it bubble and fizz – this is where you will feel like a brilliant chemist.  Once the water is boiling, add enough of it to the bowl so that whatever you are cleaning will be completely covered.  Once again, embrace your inner chemist and watch as the baking soda and salt that hasn’t yet dissolved in the vinegar magically dissolves completely.

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3.) Gently drop your silver into the bowl.  You will see the tarnish just melt away – it’s really quite neat!  Let the silver soak for about 10 minutes.

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4.) Carefully use a spoon to take the silver out of the bowl, and use a rag to dry off and remove any spots that haven’t come off yet.

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5.) If it is not yet as pretty as you would desire, you can repeat the procedure to get it even cleaner, but my guess is you won’t have to!  I’m still shocked at how well this worked and how easy it was!

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AMAZING!  IT WORKS!!!  Enjoy! 🙂

Garden Vegetable Egg Breakfast

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Guess what?!  I have a new favorite, and it’s this breakfast!  I’ve fallen in love again, and I may have to marry this stuff to make an honest woman out of me!  I don’t know if I could find a more nutritious breakfast that tastes this good!

If you have followed my blog at all, you know that I am always trying to make sure that I get plenty of veggies in at breakfast time.  Well, there is a reason for that!  As a matter of fact, the following pin links to a site that explains 5 benefits of of eating veggies for breakfast!

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Not only are those 5 reasons for eating vegetables for breakfast fantastic, but there is also the advantage of making sure that you get your daily dose of veggies out of the way right at the start of your day!

In general, the recommended daily amount of veggies is 2 1/2 cups.  Personally, I always aim for 5-8 cups of veggies per day.  Not always easy, but I find that there are little things you can do to get more in, such as cooking your veggies, adding them to smoothies, etc.

At any rate, if 2 1/2 cups is the bare minimum, this breakfast takes care of that in one meal!  Pretty awesome, right?  Plus, there is an egg and some greek plain yogurt involved providing a nice punch of protein to keep you satisfied and strong right up to lunchtime!

If you’re still not convinced that this is probably one of the best breakfasts ever, then I challenge you to try it once!  The taste alone will have you hooked!

GARDEN VEGETABLE EGG BREAKFAST

Ingredients: Makes 2 servings

  • 2 eggs
  • 4-5 cups mixed greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard)
  • 1 Tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (julienned)
  • 1 cup yellow squash, finely chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic granules
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1.) Place the mixed greens into a steamer, and steam until slightly wilted, but not all the way wilted.  Set aside.

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2.) While the greens are steaming, prepare your other veggies.

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3.) Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet.  Add the green onion and cook for 1 minute.  Add the zucchini and yellow squash, cook for 2 minutes.  Add the carrots, garlic powder, and lemon juice.  Sprinkle with sea salt and cover.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.

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4.) Remove from heat, add the wilted greens and the tomatoes, then put on a plate.  Set aside.

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5.) In the same pan that you cooked the veggies, fry your eggs.  Break into the pan over medium heat.  Cook on one side for 1 minute or 2, then use a spatula to flip the egg over and cook on the other side for 1 minute or 2.  Place the eggs on top of the veggies.

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6.) Do this with both eggs, then top with a dollop of plain greek yogurt, and season with sea salt and pepper.

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Just look at that!  You can practically taste it just from the picture!  SO YUMMY!  Enjoy! 🙂

Sweet Potato Oatmeal

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Alright, my favorite vegetable of the moment is SWEET POTATOES!  I am falling more and more in love with these guys!  Want a salty snack?  Whip up some sweet potato fries or sweet potato chips!  Want something sweet?  MAKE THIS OATMEAL!  There’s just so much you can do with this scrumptious veggie, so it is quickly becoming my favorite of the moment!  Not only is it super versatile in terms of what it lends itself to, it’s also ridiculously good for you!

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Seriously, you can’t go wrong with these yummy yams!  Alright, so let’s get to this oatmeal!  As everyone knows who has even visited my blog once, I am obsessed with cramming as many veggies into meals as humanly possible!!!  My newest way to sneak some veggies into a dish that you wouldn’t normally think about adding veggies to is this sweet potato oatmeal!  Oh my gosh, it is so good, and of course super good of you too!  It makes for an awesomely filling breakfast that is an absolute treat to start your day with!  Are you sold yet?  Trust me, you gotta try this stuff!

SWEET POTATO OATMEAL

Ingredients

  • 1 small/medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup plain almond milk
  • 1 tsp. raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • raisins and chopped pecans for topping

Directions

1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Peel your sweet potato and cut into small pieces.  Place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes until tender.

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2.) When the potatoes have about 10-15 minutes left to bake, put your oatmeal and water in a sauce pan and simmer over low/medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the water is absorbed in the oats.  Remove from heat and add the chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey.

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3.) When the sweet potatoes are done baking, place them in a bowl and mash them up with a fork.

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4.) Add the sweet potatoes to the oatmeal and stir to combine all the ingredients.

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5.) Transfer to a bowl and pour the almond milk over the oatmeal mixture.  Top with pecans and raisins, if desired.

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Now get ready for an amazingly yummy and healthy breakfast that will definitely leave you satisfied!

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YUM!!!  Enjoy! 🙂

Sweet Potato Fries

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I’m pretty sure sweet potatoes may be one of the most versatile foods ever.  They lend them selves to both sweet and salty dishes, and they are so so yummy!  Best part is that they are really great for you!  you may be familiar with the cons of regular white potatoes…well, the good news is that sweet potatoes are a completely different story – all the nutrition, none of the cons!

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And, personally, I really like the taste of sweet potatoes better than white potatoes!  So, when you think of potatoes of any kind, one of the first yummy foods that comes to mind is FRIES, and that’s exactly what we’re looking at here – sweet potato fries!  I love these things!  They’re super easy to make, taste delicious and can serve as a side, a snack, or as the even as the main part of a meal depending on what you top the with!

This recipe is just a nice basic recipe for sweet potato fries.  I really enjoy them dipped in plain greek yogurt, but they would also taste great with ketchup, ranch, or many other typical fry dipping sauces!  You could also get creative and top them with cheese, chili, onions, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

SWEET POTATO FRIES

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. garlic granules
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Plain greek yogurt, for dipping

Directions

1.) Preheat the oven to 380 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Wash and slice your potato into fries.  Place the fries on the prepared baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic granules and sea salt.  Toss to coat and spread out evenly.  Bake in the oven for 35 minutes at 380 degrees.

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2.) Transfer to a plate, and season with more sea salt if needed.

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Serve with a dollop of plain greek yogurt on the side, or another dipping sauce of your choice.  They also stand alone just great too!

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FRIES!!!  You’re never know how good they are for you!  Enjoy! 🙂

Gluten Free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

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Okay, I get excited for just about any gluten free muffin recipe, but the fact that this recipe has some veggies in it as well has me beside myself!  These are SO good for you, and they are DELICIOUS!  They’ve got a perfect light and fluffy texture, and they have the perfect taste!  YUM!

Like I said, these guys have the added benefit that there are veggies in there – namely, carrots and zucchini!  The following pins show some of the health benefits of these two powerhouse veggies.

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You will think these muffins are too good to be true considering the fact that they have all these health benefits and they taste like a treat!

I am also including a little recipe for an almond lemon frosting.  This is optional, but it does go perfectly with this muffin!  I used goat cheese in it, but that’s because I really LOVE goat cheese!  You can use cream cheese, or you can leave the cheese out all together.

Alright, without further ado, here is the recipe, folks!

GLUTEN FREE CARROT ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

Ingredients:

For the muffins:

  • 1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder (aluminum free)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp. alcohol free vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

For the frosting

  • 2 Tbsp. goat cheese (or  3 Tbsp. cream cheese)
  • 4 Tbsp. smooth almond butter
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. alcohol free vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. honey

Directions

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin with coconut oil.

2.) In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

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3.) In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients (eggs, honey, almond milk, coconut oil, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar)  and the shredded carrots and zucchini.

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4.) Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

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5.) Fill your muffin tin with the batter (2/3 of the way full for each cup in the tin).  Place the muffins in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

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6.) While the muffins are baking, put your frosting together.  Place all of the frosting ingredients in a bowl and mix until completely combined and smooth.

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7.) When the muffins are done, remove from the muffin tin, and allow to cool.  Place a dollop of frosting on each muffin, if you are using the frosting.

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Yum, Yum, Yum!  You are going to love these!  Enjoy! 🙂

Homemade Pain Relieving Gel – Safe and Non-Toxic

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Last week, I woke up and realized that I am getting old!  Somehow, I managed to sleep wrong (is that even a thing?), and I woke with a major kink on the right side of my neck/trap muscle.  OUCH!  I tried stretching it, heating it with a grain bag, massaging it, etc. but it just wouldn’t give!

Because I had a busy day in front of me, I knew I needed something that could dull the pain while this thing calmed down.  I don’t do pain relievers such as ibuprofen unless it is a dire emergency, so I tried to think of something to use that would help throughout the day.  Icy hot/Ben Gay came to mind, but I wasn’t sure about the ingredients in them.  Thankfully, I knew about the EWG (Environmental Working Group) website.

The EWG website’s skin deep cosmetic guide is a great tool to figure out if any beauty product or ingredient is safe.  The following pin gives some useful facts and links to the website.

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I hopped on my computer and within a couple of minutes, I discovered that those Icy Hot/Ben Gay products aren’t too great…I’ve seen worse, but I knew I could do better.  I looked at the main ingredients, and saw menthol and camphor as a common ingredient.  Both of these have an excellent safety rating on the site so I figured why not make my own pain relieving cream/gel with these as my main ingredients?

Guess what?  It worked!!!  Both in that the recipe turned out great – it’s safe and non-toxic, and it helped to relieve my pain throughout the day as long as I reapplied as needed.  I am also happy to report that the kink finally let up a few days later, and I’m doing much better now.  I’m so glad that I now have this cream/gel recipe on hand for any future incidents that may arise!  It is perfect for runners as it will soothe away any soreness after a great workout!  Heck, it’s perfect for anyone that gets minor aches and pains here and there!

HOMEMADE SAFE AND NATURAL PAIN RELIEVING GEL

Ingredients (I made a small batch since I knew I would only need a little bit.  This recipe makes about 2 ounces of gel, but you can easily double or even triple the recipe to make more):

Directions:

1.) In a small sauce pan, completely melt the coconut oil and beeswax pellets over medium heat.  Remove from heat and add the camphor oil, eucalyptus oil, and menthol crystals.  Stir till completely dissolved. Pour into a glass container.

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2.) Allow to sit until it solidifies (About an hour or so).

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Rub into those painful areas an get ready for some sweet (and safe) relief! Enjoy! 🙂