Why Pinterest is the Place To Be if You’re Crafty

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I won’t lie, I truly adore Pinterest and spend far too long perusing all the pins on numerous topics and subjects! I find it the best form of inspiration and instruction to satisfy my creative tendencies.

So if you are of the crafty persuasion and love nothing more than turning your hand to things why is Pinterest the place to go?

Pinterest is pretty much a  virtual cork board / recipe / scrapbook that you can ‘pin’ anything on the internet that interests you, to a single account. It saves you from having to take further measures as you would normally, to save the information (such as emailing it to yourself or bookmarking the page to your browser).

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You can install the Pinterest ‘button’ to your web browse so that when you come across a web page you would like to look at in more detail later on, you click the button on your browser and it will automatically save it to your Pinterest account. It really is that easy!

You can also search for specific topics through the Pinterest platform itself and being very visually orientated you will find just how quick and easy it is to find what you’re looking for.

You can search for pretty much everything from DIY crafts, to beauty tutorials, clothes, home improvement, photographs, news articles- you name it and I’m pretty certain Pinterest will have a whole library of content for your perusal! You can also invite and follow friends, family and like minded individuals to really create a sense of community where you can share boards and pins with one another.

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Still interested? Good! So how do you get started?

Katie Kavulla on She Knows has created a very simple ‘How To’ guide on getting up and running on Pinterest and she advises the following:

How do I get started pinning?

The first thing you’ll need to do is get a Pinterest account. You can go to the Pinterest website.

Once you’re on, the next thing you’ll need is the “Pin It” button installed in your browser toolbar. This magic little button is what allows you to pin things online. Installing the button is very easy — when you’re in your Pinterest account, look to the upper right-hand corner and hover above “About,” then click on “Pin It Button” and follow the directions to drag the button into your toolbar.

Or instead of using the “Pin It” button, you can also copy and paste links from sites you like, and it will search for photos from that page, which you can then pin. You can also upload photos from your computer.

What am I suppose to pin?

Here’s the great thing about Pinterest — you can pin anything you want! Everyone uses it for different things — from saving recipes that you want to make to saving articles that you want to reference later (we can, ahem, certainly suggest some you should pin!) to all of the shoes you’d love to add to your closet for spring — so Pinterest can easily be whatever you want it to be.

As you start pinning, create “Boards” that categorize your pins, making them easy for you to find later. Pinterest suggests some to get you started, but usually you’ll want to create your own to fit what you love to pin. It takes a while to get the hang of creating boards — they need to be the perfect combination of general and specific — but we promise that the more you pin, the better your boards will become.

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the “Repin” function on Pinterest! Once you’ve added friends to your Pinterest account — you follow them as you follow Facebook or Twitter friends — you will have a customized feed where you can see all of the fantastic things that they’re pinning too. See an idea you love? Just hover over that pin in the feed and click on the “Repin” button to add it to one of your boards.

Once you have your account set up you are good to go!

 

Enjoy!

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A Beginners Guide to: Essential Oils

Essential Oils- Explained perfectly by wikipedia as “”essential” in the sense that it contains the “essence of” the plant’s fragrance—the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived”.

With so many versatile uses and just as many health benefits it is easy to see why they are loved by all DIY Beauty Crafters- myself included!

Now as a novice in the art of using Essential Oils I have come to realise that with so many oils out there it is very difficult not to get confused as to which oils go with what, what their benefits are and how they can best be used.
This is why I thought it would be a good idea to make a post for all beginners out there looking for some information to give them a head start on using essential oils without the science.

Oils and their Benefits

Starting out in soap making it became clear to me very quickly that different oils had different holistic benefits and if I wanted my ingredients to compliment one another, I needed a guide to instruct me on the benefits of each of the oils I was using.
I have to admit I spent a while looking around the internet trying to find a user friendly guide and the table below was by far the easiest to understand. I found it on The Aroma Blog, an aromatherapy blog by a woman who really knows her stuff!

Essential Oil Benefits

 

If you find this table as useful as I did, you can download a PDF version from The Aroma Blog.

Once I had the list above all I needed to know was which oil combinations provided the best compliment so that I could tailor my combinations to maximum effect scent- wise and benefit wise.

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21 Things You Should Know About Essential Oils

The below list is taken from Crunchy Betty and I found this very helpful, informative and easy to understand. It offers useful advise and guidance on how to use Essential Oils and how not to use them.

  • Essential oils are not really oils. They do not contain the fatty acids that constitute what we would consider an actual oil. Valerie Gennari Cooksley, author of Aromatherapy: Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate and Heal defines essential oils as “highly concentrated plant constituents possessing potent medicinal and cosmetic qualities.” However, I think Stephanie Tourles nailed it in Organic Body Care recipes when she said, “I consider essential oils the life forceor the soul of the plant.”
  • Most essential oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties: This makes them an excellent addition to your homemade cleaning preparations. Oils that are best for cleaning are: Lemon, grapefruit, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary.
  • Essential oils are miniscule in molecular size, which means they are absorbed well by the skin – making them perfect ingredients in personal care items intended to heal, soften, and nourish. However, they do not accumulate in the body over time – they simply offer up their healing properties and then pass on through.
  • Scientific studies have shown that rosemary essential oil helps your brain perform.Specifically, smelling rosemary essential oil helps memory recall and performance on tests. Interestingly, this study also showed that groups that inhaled either rosemary or lavender essential oil felt much more relaxed than those who inhaled no odor at all.
  • Fragrance oils and essential oils are NOT the same thing. As a rule of thumb, if you see the word “fragrance” or “fragrance oil” or even “perfume” on anything, you can assume this is synthetic and NOT natural. (Even if it says natural fragrance.)
  • Essential oils are wholly natural and cannot be patented; which means that you’ll never see an essential oil in a pharmaceutical drug. As such, you can expect that the vast majority of mainstream healthcare practitioners will never recommend essential oils as therapeutic alternatives to drugs. More importantly, because essential oils cannot be patented, drug companies will not waste money studying them. This limits our scientific knowledge of essential oils GREATLY, and the majority of what we know about them are things that have been passed down through thousands of years of personal use and experimentation.
  • Enormous amounts of plants are needed to produce essential oil. In fact, on the extreme end, it takes 4000 pounds of Bulgarian roses to produce 1 pound of essential oil. Other plants like lavender only take 100 pounds of plant material to produce a pound of essential oil. Still, can you imagine how concentrated essential oils must be, in light of how many plants are used to produce them?
  • Most essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin. Instead, they should be combined with “real” oils (called carrier oils), waxes, butters, alcohols, or other diluting measures. Because they’re so concentrated, if you don’t dilute, you may end up with an unfortunate reaction (and unhappy skin).
  • There are a few essential oils that are generally recognized as safe to use undiluted. Of course, there has to be a few exceptions to the rule. Again, in Organic Body Care Recipes, the author points out that the only essential oils that are widely acknowledged as safe to use undiluted (sparingly) are: lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood, and rose geranium.
  • Never use an undiluted essential oil on a baby or child. Children have much thinner, more delicate skin than adults have, and tend to be very sensitive to the potency of essential oils. In fact, even if you do use essential oil in a recipe for children, only use half of the essential oil recommended in the recipe. That’s all they’ll need, anyway. (Here is a list of 19 essential oils that are safe for babies and children.)
  • Avoid the following essential oils while pregnant or nursing (and skip EOs completely in your first trimester): Aniseed, cedarwood, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, ginger, jasmine, lemon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage (this is only a partial list of some of the more common essential oils – view the full one here).
  • To test if you’re sensitive to an essential oil (which is probably best to do before using it in a skincare preparation): Combine one drop of essential oil with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (like olive, jojoba, or sweet almond). Rub this on the inside, upper portion of your arm and wait a few hours. If no redness or itching develops, you’re most likely not sensitive to that essential oil.
  • Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children – and avoid contact with your eyes.This is just standard safety precautions, but must be mentioned.
  • Do not take essential oils internally, especially oils like wintergreen and eucalyptus.While some essential oils may be used well-diluted in something like toothpaste with safety, it’s generally recognized that there’s no need to take essential oils internally. In fact, there are several toxic essential oils that should be avoided even through skin contact. Luckily, these are NOT common essential oils, and most of them you’ll never find in the store.
  • Not all essential oils are created equally, nor does more expensive necessarily mean “better.” There are certain brands I will use in a less therapeutic fashion (like for cleaning), because they’re far less expensive than their counterparts. When you see a wide fluctuation in price between, say, lavender essential oils, you can bet that the far less expensive one is likely lower in quality. However, a small variation in price differences on the higher end will NOT mean a better essential oil. It will just mean a higher price. (A little birdie also told me that there are also only a handful of essential oil distilleries in the world, which means that most essential oils come from the exact same places – thus there is little difference in quality between the more “typically priced” EOs.) What I’m saying here is: Understand that you DO have to pay for quality, but that if you’re just using essential oils in non-therapeutic fashions, it’s okay to use less expensive oils (like the Beeyoutiful ones pictured at the top of this post, or NOW brand essential oils). But if you want high quality, I suggest using Mountain Rose Herbs or another ethical supplier that offers organic essential oils (grown without pesticides or toxic fertilizers).
  • To test your essential oil to see how “pure” it is, put a single drop of it on a piece of construction paper. If it evaporates quickly and leaves no noticeable ring, it is pure. If you have a ring left, then it is likely diluted by the manufacturer with an oil of some sort (this test will not work for myrrh, patchouli, and absolutes).
  • Essential oils will last for at least 5 years (if not 10), so one bottle could literally last you a decade. Hopefully that thought will help mitigate the cost involved in purchasing some essential oils. Because they are SO concentrated and only a tiny amount is needed in anything you do, they’ll last you a very, very long time. The only exception to this rule is citrus oils, which will see a reduction in potency after a year or two.
  • Store your essential oils in dark glass bottles (which they were probably packaged in) and out of direct sunlight. This is simply to help preserve their potency.
  • Remember that what you’re allergic to in food, you will be allergic to in essential oils.So if, for some reason, you can’t eat sage without breaking out in a rash, steer clear of sage essential oil (or any product containing it).
  • Use Essential Oils to Help Your Mood. Lavender, peppermint, grapefruit, chamomile, lemon, ylang-ylang all help produce happy, joyous moods. Clary sage helps with PMS (although there have been reports that overuse of clary sage can lead to intoxication). Rosemary increases focus and concentration. Don’t forget the mood benefits of essential oils. Here’s an information packed aromatherapy reference chart to refer to.
  • The recommended usage of many essential oils is hotly contested throughout the aromatherapy profession. The majority of oils you find in the supermarket are absolutely safe (though you should research them before using them); however, once you start digging into the world of essential oils, you’ll find that professionals – even within the same organization – debate extensively over the use of certain oils. If you’re ever unsure about an oil or its use, do the research you can, and if you still cannot make up your mind as to its safety – avoid it. But, by all means, do NOT be afraid of essential oils. Just use them with care and respect, and all will be fine.

If you found the above helpful and wish to know more, I would strongly recommend visiting The Aroma Blog and Crunchy Betty to learn more about Essential Oils.

 

Melt & Pour: Lemon and Poppy Seed Soap Bar

Poppy Seed


 

Smells great, looks great and leaves your skin feeling soft and sparkling new.


The Lemon and Poppy Seed Soap Bar- I personally can’t get enough of this one and use it all the time. I just love the smell and feeling of my skin after using this and I am excited to see what else I can do with this Lemon and poppy seed combo!

As with my previous post this is another Melt & Pour recipe however this time using white beeswax instead of the Goats Milk Soap Base – Just thought I’d mix things up a little- as beeswax has many beneficial properties that I felt complimented the other ingredients too well not to be included.

Ingredients

Lemon Rind:Containing vitamins, minerals and fibre, it brightens the skin, can whiten your nails, lightens age spots and softens dry skin.

Poppy Seeds: Fantastic agents against Eczema they boost anti-inflammatory  properties while moisturising and clearing the skin of dirt and grime to leave it radiant.

Shea Butter: Fantastic against blemishes and skin conditions, Shea Butter leaves the skin feeling moisturised, soft and smooth.

Coconut Oil: Acting as an exfoliant, Coconut Oil softens and smooths dry skin while helping to repair and protect it.

White Beeswax: A fantastic aid against allergies, beeswax contains non-allergenic properties that helps to protect and moisturise the skin. It also proves effective against stretch marks and dry skin conditions such as Eczema.

Goats Milk Soap Base: I think the most important point to using Goats Milk Soap Base is that it isn’t a chemical counterfeit. It delays the signs of ageing by working with the skin rather than against it. It also has anti inflammatory properties and can help treat acne.

Method

Melt equal measures of the beeswax, Coconut Oil and Shea Butter gently in the microwave along with double the measure of the above, of Goats Milk Soap Base. Make sure to melt gently in twenty second intervals and stir in between. Once melted together pour your mixture into your soap moulds.

Then mix as much (or as little) Lemon Rind and Poppy Seeds together before adding to your mould. Mix into the mixture and then leave it to cool completely in a cool place.

It usually only takes a few hours in a cool place to set however I usually leave it overnight just for good measure.

Once they have completely cooled and solidified enjoy the health benefits of your Lemon and Poppy Seed Soap Bar.

 

 

Melt & Pour: Epsom Salt Scrub Soap Bar

Moisturising Salt Scrub Soap bar


The Epsom Salt Scrub Soap Bar is an incredibly easy item- perfect for the Beauty DIY Novice like myself- to make and with so many health benefits it will make you wonder why you never tried making these before.


Perfect as a quick crafty project with the kids or as a gift in a home-made hamper this healthy alternative to shop bought produce not only leaves your skin feeling rejuvenated and new, but the health benefits from all the ingredients really do make this soap bar worth giving a go!

 

Ingredients:

Epsom Salt: Known for its relaxing properties Epsom Salt can cure skin problems, soothe pain and aching limbs and draw out toxins in the body.

Shea Butter: A fantastic moisturiser, Shea Butter can help cure numerous skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema and help treat skin allergies from insect bites, stings and sunburn. It can also help circulation which can reduce the look of ageing in the skin.

Coconut Oil: The Jack of All Trades in skin care, Coconut Oil can be used for many different things from skin care products to a healthier option to fry your food in.the healthy properties present in coconut Oil allow it to be a fantastic moisturiser and skin softener, it is claimed to help with some skin conditions and even makes a healthy alternative to the commercial make-up removers.

Goats Milk Soap Base: Goats Milk Soap is fantastic at reducing the signs of ageing in the skin and boasts anti- inflammatory properties which help sooth and calm dry / damaged skin.

 

Method:

Take equal measures of the Shea Butter, Coconut Oil and the Goats Milk Soap Base, and melt gradually in the microwave. Once it has all melted and mixed in with one another pour into your moulds.

The amount of Epsom Salt you use is entirely up you depending on the result you want.  I filled my moulds between 1/4 and 1/2 full so that one side of the soap would be the scrub and the other the lotion but it is all based on personal preference.

Leave your soaps to set somewhere cool until they have hardened completely- I left mine overnight just to make sure.

Once they have fully set you are good to go.

Easy Peasey Lemon Biscuits

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Fluffy, crumbly and flavourful lemon biscuits that fill a hole and are so simple to make, there really is no reason not to give them a go!


So this week I decided to bake some lemon cookies with my partner’s daughter.

Erin loves lemon flavoured things so this was an easy, obvious choice. It was also the perfect way to spend an hour or so!

After looking on Pinterest (the ultimate ‘go- to’ place for fantastic baking ideas) and the internet, I finally found a recipe that was designed for us brits (measurements being in ounces/ grams and not cups- Note to self, buy some Cups!) on the Good Food Channel page.

These biscuits really are incredibly simple and came out looking (and tasting!) lovely!

I would definitely recommend these to anyone with a small amount of time (and ingredients) that are looking for fantastic results for very little effort. These Easy Peasey Lemon Biscuits really are a tasty, beautiful biscuit!


Easy Peasey Lemon Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 17 g plain flour
  • 1 lemon, grated zest only
  • 110g soft butter
  • 50g sugar

Icing

Icing sugar
Water

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.

2. Put the flour and lemon rind into a mixing bowl and rub in the soft butter.

3. Add the caster sugar and bring the whole mixture together to form a stiff dough. Do not add any water, however tempting.
Erin and I made the decision to add the juice from half the lemon and added extra flour to ensure the consistency remained the same.

4. Roll out the dough to about ½ cm thickness and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.
For this Erin and I decided to make them about 1/ 1.5 cm thick and we found they made a much more substantial biscuit, allowing the flavour of the lemon to really come through. Obviously this is all dependant on personal preference but worth making a note of depending on the subtlety of the flavour you are going for.

5. Place carefully on a greased baking tray and cook in the oven for 6-10 minutes until pale golden.
We found that despite having a really good oven, we had to cook them for closer for 15 minutes which I attribute to having a chunkier biscuit. The key is to wait for the pale golden appearance.

6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

7. Once properly cooled, decorate and enjoy!
For this part, Erin and I made a simple icing by mixing together icing sugar and water until it reached the right consistency. We then separated the mixture into 5 and coloured them using different food colourings. Putting out different cake decorations I then left Erin to her own devices as she loves the decorating bit the most.

The Man That Saved My Life

So my first post isn’t going to be the originally intended post as I had some news the other day that I really must share. It also does that fantastic thing of closing one huge chapter of my life and opening a brand new one- rather fitting for a new blog I think!

When I was 11 I was diagnosed with Crohns Diease and for 8 years I was taking a minimum of 10 tablets a day. When I was 19 the medication stopped working and for the next 5 years I had to have 4 operations to remove infected parts of my bowel and take two years off sick in order to recuperate.
After the last operation they found pre-cancer cells and after another three months it had developed into Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

I was put on an intensive course of chemotherapy and over 1000 mg of morphine a day for over 9 months to keep the pain at bay. I lost far too much weight (dropped down to 6 stone) and lost all my hair- did mean I could stop worrying about shaving my legs however- not that it was a major concern at the time.
Due to the location of the cancer I was unable to sit and lie on my back for about 8 months and with the chemotherapy taking everything out of you, I was pretty much bed bound for the duration of that time.

Five years on and I can happily confirm that the treatment worked and not only that, after several years of getting my health and life back, of being jobless and unemployable, things are finally all fitting together. This year has been the year with a lot of positive changes- I am at full health, I’ve begun a fantastic new job with the NHS and am the proud owner of a truly wonderful, decent man..

Compared to my life five years ago my life right now is perfect and all I can see are the positives! Short of winning the lottery I couldn’t see how anything could make me any happier.

Unbeknown to me however, I went to my very last ever oncology appointment.

As per usual I’m sat waiting to be seen, surrounded by people dealing and coping with the different stages of cancer ranging from treatment to after-care.
One woman almost made me cry as she came back into the waiting room with a huge smile on her face saying “It’s gone”. I remember that realisation as if it were yesterday and my heart truly went out to her.
It’s not just the realisation that you are going to live but that you can get your life back, your hair, your appetite. You can get back to being YOU again.
Its shocking to think just how much of a person a life threatening illness and its treatment can take away from you, and its easier to understand why some people cease treatment. Living and surviving really are two completely opposite sides to the same coin. Being able to make your own choices, that simple expression of independence really does make all the difference.

It is amazing just how much perspective and humility going through that kind of trauma can give you. I get frustrated with myself sometimes as I forget and find myself being bothered by the silliest most insignificant of issues. I had hoped that the perspective of a life altering illness would stay with me 24 /7 but you realise that as ‘everyday life’ becomes normality once again, so you forget the bigger picture.

So anyway, back to me sat in Outpatients being humbled by the reminder of what I went through, what everyone in this lobby is going through and I finally get called in. For once it wasn’t one of my oncologists junior doctors, it was actually him. It was really good to see him again and we had a nice chat about how I was getting on and how life was etc and after having a check of all my lymph nodes he then announced that he never wanted to see me again… unless in a social aspect.

I believe my reaction at the time was to just sit there and blink while I waited for my brain to start working and catch up with the information it was being fed.

So that was it… I had finally reached the finish line.
No more repeat appointments.No more blood tests. No more being in “remission”. I was free.

It seems strange to be so affected by something that doesn’t change your current situation or state of health, but I was overwhelmed with the implications of this.
Cancer is no longer a cloud hanging over head- I’m free of the imminent threat of its re-occurrence.It is also the first time in over 20 years where I haven’t had repeat hospital appointments for something.

Illness may have been a major part of my life for the past two decades but as of last week it no longer has a place in my life.

This feels like the beginning of a whole new exciting chapter in my life.

Health, love, career… Life.

I am finally free to just be me again… and I really cant explain just how exciting and uplifting that feels!