Benefits of Aloe Vera

Published July 9, 2014











Aloe vera is one ingredient we probably think we know everything about, especially around this time of the year. But, this plant’s legacy is quite long and celebrated — and not just for being a sunburn savior. The ancient Egyptians actually deemed this guy “the plant of immortality” and would use the leaves’ secretions to treat wounds, burns, and fevers. Aloe was also consumed to promote healthy digestion and relieve joint pain. Another interesting fact? Aloe is actually the only known remedy for radiation burns.

But, this miracle plant does more than just take your burn from blistering to bearable — it’s actually key when it comes to skin care in general. “It creates a protective barrier for the skin to allow for healing, and it helps the skin replenish and retain moisture,” says Madison Ruggieri, creator of Buckler’s Remedies skin-care line. She says aloe contains two hormones — auxin and gibberellin. “This duo reduces skin inflammation and promotes speedy healing to acne without scarring,” she says.

3 Tips For Creating The Ultimate Homework Station

Published July 8, 2014

Help kids concentrate on their homework by creating a stylish and streamlined space for all their studying needs.

Choose the right-size work surface.














“The desks I make for kids are 28-inches high, almost adult height but not quite,” explains Roberto Gil of Casa Kids, a company that creates custom kids’ rooms and furniture.. “That height ensures your child won’t outgrow it, they could use it until they head off to college! If it’s a little too tall initially, use an adjustable chair.”

Make it easy to go mobile when needed.











“Sometimes kids want to do homework at the kitchen or dining room table. For easy clean up, stash pens, pencils, crayons or whatever they need in a supply caddy. I really love the I Could’ve Bin a Art Caddy ($22; Land of Nod),” says Barbara Reich, a professional organizer and author of Secrets of an Organized Mom . “It’s easy to put everything away and stick it in a cabinet.”

It’s all about routine and organization.















“Make every morning easier with repetition,” says Reich. “Every night homework and papers should go right from the backpack to the table, from the table back into a folder, then back into the backpack. No more frantic searches for papers and it develops great habits that will last into adulthood.”  “Use a no-frills file box for keeping tests and unit assignments organized by subject. It gets kids prepped for mid-terms and finals and lightens the load they’re carrying around daily.” Having a trash can next to the desk makes it easy to throw away garbage and odds and ends. If kids have to get up to get rid of their trash, it ends up accumulating on the desktop,” says Reich.



Easy DIY Lip Balm

Published July 3, 2014













With just a few simple ingredients, you can make your own moisturizing lip balm in under 5 minutes. You can also add a hint of color with leftovers from your favorite lipstick or blush! After you give this DIY a try, you’ll never go back to buying name brand lip balm again.

There are two primary components to our DIY lip balm: Beeswax & Coconut Oil. You can choose to just use these two ingredients and end up with a great lip balm on its own (just mix 1 part beeswax with 2 parts coconut oil). Or, you can get creative and add in other essential oils (like Vitamin E), honey, and even a flavoring like peppermint.


  • 1 tsp. grated beeswax (packed down) or beeswax pellets
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 4-5 drops of Vitamin E oil
  • 1/2 tsp. honey

•Optional: for colored lip balm, add in remnants of a favorite blush or lipstick – as little or as much as you desire!

This recipe will make enough to fill a couple of small lip gloss jars or tubes. Feel free to double the recipe or stick to the ratio of 1 part beeswax to 2 parts oil to make as much as your heart desires!


1. The easiest and fastest way to make this lip balm is to mix all of your ingredients together and heat in 10 second increments in the microwave until the beeswax is melted into the oil. If you are opposed to microwave use, you can heat your ingredients slowly on the stove using a double boiler. Either way, make sure you stir your mixture periodically throughout the heating process.

2. Once the ingredients are heated and mixed together, immediately (& carefully) pour into your desired storage vessel (see below for container ideas).

5 Scents for Improving Productivity

Published July 2, 2014










Some may call it dubious, but I truly believe in the power of aromatherapy. Whether it’s for creating a mood with a candle over dinner, or producing a sense of calm with a little aroma-based wash in the bath, our sense of smell is an incredibly powerful tool for setting our mood…especially in our home office.

While most people think of aromatherapy as a tool for managing stress and creating a relaxing environment, selected scents can also be used to create a more creative and productive environment.

Here are five scents to help improve productivity:

1. Cinnamon: This spice is actually a stimulant and perfect for the time of year too. It’s known for creating a sense of alertness, which can help to improve focus.

2. Mint: Even just throwing a piece of peppermint gum in your mouth can be enough to wake up the brain. The scent is known for boosting attentiveness, which makes it great for group brainstorm situations.

3. Lemon: Lemon is an incredibly strong smell, which jolts the mind into action when detected. It’s also very polarizing, so test a small amount of the scent in a space before fully committing to it.

4. Orange: Similar to lemon, this scent is bold and fresh. It’s often combined with cinnamon in many candles and essential oils, which is a nice alternative if plain orange is too overwhelming.

5. Rosemary: There’s something really beautiful about rosemary, because research report after research report shows that the oil helps people be quicker and even to some extent, smarter, in tense situations. In one study, people were able to answer questions on a test more quickly after smelling the oil.

To activate the oils in a space, try candles, oil burners or drop a few droplets of the essential oils into a bowl of hot water for groups of people. For individuals, a small candle or personal inhaler is a quick method for getting a boost.


Benefits of Cranberries

Published July 1, 2014












High in vitamin C, these hard, tart berries are grown in bogs in colder regions of North America and Europe.  Cranberries contain a powerful cocktail of protective phytonutrients; plant chemicals that contain protective, disease-preventing compounds (flavonoids and phenolic acids) that act as antioxidants in the body.

Cranberry extracts have been shown to inhibit the growth of oral, colon, and prostate cancer cells, in addition to battling breast cancer cells. Phytonutrients in cranberries may also be involved in inhibiting the spread of cancer cells throughout the body.

In addition to its anti-cancer properties, cranberries may also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol, inhibiting LDL oxidation (one of the first steps in the progression of coronary artery disease), lowering blood pressure and inhibiting the formation of blood clots.

How to Choose Cranberries
Look for firm, brightly colored berries; the lighter, paler ones are generally too sour.

How to Store Cranberries
Tightly wrapped, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month or in the freezer for up to a year.

How to Prepare Cranberries
Pick the berries over, discarding any that are mushy, wet, discolored, or shriveled; then wash and dry.

How to Use Cranberries
Combine with sweeter fruits to balance the tartness: Pair with oranges for relish and muffins, or add a handful of berries to apple pies.

4 Beauty Uses for Baking Soda

Published June 26, 2014












Baking soda has been a kitchen staple for generations, but it’s also a major player in the beauty realm. The inexpensive product is amazing for tons of DIY beauty and hair treatments. Here’s how you can put it to use:

Prevent Sweat Stains and Body Odor
Mix baking soda with a little bit of water to turn it into a moist paste, then apply it under your arms for an all-natural deodorant.

Clarify Your Hair
Every now and then, hair needs some relief from product buildup. Add a small amount of baking soda to your shampoo, then use it as you normally would. It will give your products a fresh slate so they can work the way they’re supposed to again.

Whiten Your Teeth
“To make a teeth-whitening solution, mix one tablespoon of baking soda and five drops of hydrogen peroxide in a small container until a consistent paste develops. Add a few drops of water if necessary,” says Dr. Jessica Emery, owner of Sugar Fix Dental Loft Chicago. Apply the solution to your teeth evenly with a toothbrush, and let it sit for five minutes. Then, brush it off with normal toothpaste and rinse thoroughly with water. For best results, repeat this process once a week. “If you’re not satisfied with the results, leave the mixture on for 10 minutes at a time,” says Emery. “No more though, because you may get an uneven application and your teeth may get sensitive.”

Revive Your Cuticles
Have you been getting way too many gel manicures? Are your cuticles looking like they’ve been through a war? Create a paste out of baking soda and warm water, and rub it on your cuticles to soften the skin. If you have enough, you can also treat the rest of your hands.

Easy Eggplant Recipe

Published June 25, 2014

For a fun alternative to salsa or hummus, serve this dip made from roasted eggplant, onion, garlic, and parsley.



  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 1?2 pounds)
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped (1?4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (optional)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • Pumpernickel bread and cut-up vegetables, for serving


  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes.
  2. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, oil, vinegar, mayonnaise (if using), ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mix to combine. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve with the bread and vegetables, if desired.

4 Sneakers for Your Summer Workouts

Published June 24, 2014

Whether you’re looking for a shoe for cross training, power walking, or even crossing that half marathon finish line, these soles will have you inspired to get moving, ASAP.

Asics GT 2000 2 Running Shoe (Women), $119.95, available at Nordstrom.









So, you’re pretty serious about running. You may even want to do some kind of race or half marathon in the future. But you (of course) don’t want to sacrifice style while you’re hitting the pavement. Well, these lightweight, supportive ASICS shoes are the ones for you!

New Balance 574 Sneaker, $74.95, available at Nordstrom.









These street sneakers are stylish and sporty at the same time. They’re better for brisk walking than cross training or intense cardio, and they will go great with your favorite loungewear.

Nike Free 5.0 TR Fit 4 Training Shoe (Women), $100, available at Nordstrom.









As if the lime green-light-blue color combo wasn’t enough, these Nike Frees are perfect for indoor cross training or a boot camp class on the beach. They will give you support and allow you to be flexible during weight training workouts.

.PUMA FAAS 100 R Running Shoe (Women), $89.95, available at Nordstrom.









These bright orange, lightweight running shoes are great for both brisk walking and jogging. And they’re equally as cute if you’re just running around town in your workout gear.




Easy 4th of July Crafts

Published June 19, 2014

Decorate in patriotic red, white and blue this summer with these cute and easy 4th of July crafts. Avoid buying pricey decorations and make your own with our easy step-by-step craft projects.

Star Spangled Sparklers
Give guests a sweet surprise by crafting candy-filled firecracker favors from mailing tubes.


  • Mailing tubes and plugs in assorted sizes (
  • Red, white and blue construction paper
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Silver tassels
  • Star-shaped paper punch
  • Assorted ribbons and rickrack


1. Cover a tube in construction paper, using glue to secure

2. Use scissors or a knife to carefully make a small slot in one plug. Thread silver tassels through opening and tie in a knot to secure.

3. Decorate by gluing star-shaped cutouts and ribbons on tubes as desired. If you want to use them as party favors, fill with candy.

Recycle in Red, White and Blue
Dress up an old tin can to give it a new life as a centerpiece-worthy vase.
  • Empty tin can
  • File
  • Red construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • 2 sheets of 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper, in red, white and blue patterns
  • Pinking shears, optional
  • Double-sided tape
  • Medallion ornament
  • Hot glue gun


1. Wash and dry can; file down any sharp edges.

2. Cut construction paper to the height of the can, and about 1″ longer than needed to wrap around it. Cover can with paper, and seal edge with glue stick.

3. Cut 2 strips of scrapbook paper to desired width, about 1″ longer than needed to wrap around the can. Apply 1 strip by upper rim; seal edge with tape. Repeat for lower rim.

4. Using pinking shears, cut a contrasting piece of scrapbook paper to desired width, about 1″ longer than needed to be wrapped around the can. Center strip on can; seal edge with tape.

5. Adhere paper medallion ornament onto blue strip with hot glue.

6. Add water and flowers, being careful not to get the paper wet.

Decorate the Doorway
Welcome guests with an eye-catching wreath that celebrates the day.


  • 18″ green Styrofoam wreath
  • 4 yards of 1 1/2″ wide ribbon
  • 12″ x 12″ sheets of scrapbook paper
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Bone folder or metal ruler
  • Double-sided tape
  • Assorted star stickers
  • Hot-glue gun


1. Cut a sheet of paper into 6 pieces, each measuring 4″ x 6″, for large medallions. (To create a medium-size one, use 3″ x 6″ sheets, and for the small size, use a 2 1/2″ x 3 1/4″ sheet.)

2. Fold each piece of paper widthwise in 3/8″ wide accordion-style pleats. Use a bone folder or the edge of a metal ruler to sharpen creases.

3. Fold each pleated piece of paper in half and tape inner edges together. Gently spread pleats apart. Arrange three fanned pieces together to form a circle, and join with tape. Add a star sticker to center. You will need approximately 40 of these medallions to create the wreath.

A Quick Tip for Healthier Plants

Published June 18, 2014










If your plants look like they need a boost, change how you water them.  Real Simple suggests that filling your watering can with bottled club soda can give your plants a boost. Apparently unlike tap water, club soda is stocked with minerals and  nutrients that enrich the soil that promote plant growth. You just have to make sure that you let the soda water go flat first otherwise the bubbly carbon dioxide will stunt a plant’s growth.

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