Archive of ‘Natural Living & Beauty’ category

Pamper Your Skin for Spring

Thanks to Biore for sponsoring this post. All views are mine.

Spring skincare

Spring is coming which means we can finally get away from that dull, dry skin. What a relief! When temps get a touch nicer, I always feel like revamping my life including my beauty routine. Here are some ways to get your skin feeling fresh as a flower.

These are some of the pretty spring flowers I see on my daily walks. Take a walk with me through this post and we’ll visit some new skincare products along the way!


I notice that while I’m at home I sometimes get so busy working on projects that I forget to drink water. This can leave skin dry and lifeless, so figure out ways to fit in an extra 8 oz. during the day.

Use charcoal in your routine

Charcoal has been creeping into beauty products lately, and with good reason. Its clarifying properties are fabulous for drawing impurities from the skin. Both products in this post include charcoal.

Try a mask

Once or twice a week you can pamper your skin with a mask to combat blackheads and blocked pores! Bioré Self Heating One Minute Mask comes in a box with individual packets for easy use. It heats up gently to purify pores better than a basic cleanser in just one HOT minute! It really only takes one minute–leaving more time to go smell the flowers (with a nose full of clean pores, of course).

Bioré Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strips  work in a similar fashion, with individually wrapped strips that you place on wet skin and leave on for 10 minutes. Follow me on Instagram and check out my Instagram stories to see them in action.

Get ’em at Target and Amazon. 

5 Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper Ideas

5 Ways to Make Recyclable Gift Wrap

This holiday season, you may be wondering: is wrapping paper recyclable? Before you wishcycle it, you should know that no, most gift wrap is NOT recyclable. But if you do want recyclable gift wrap, or to wrap gifts in something that’s reusable or reused, look at these five ideas.

Brown paper bags

Reuse parcel paper or paper shopping bags by wrapping your gifts in them. Add a sprig of greenery and scraps of ribbon if you’re craving something decorative. Here’s a closer look at how you can wrap packages with recycled paper.

Old maps

Reuse old maps by turning them into gift wrap. Yours will be the most unique one under the tree, guaranteed. I added scraps of yarn and sprigs of greenery for an extra touch. And just like brown paper bags, this gift wrap is recyclable and compostable.

Fabric bags

Reusable cloth bags are a gift unto themselves. I know some people sew their own to use as gift bags. I didn’t have the time or patience to fight with a sewing machine so bought a few at a craft fair. This is the most popular zero-waste way to wrap presents this season!

Newsprint and old books

Ok so you know how I found a source for free antique books, right? Well I got a few that were totally falling apart beyond repair. I thought the pictures might be good for collages, and it turned out that for small gifts the pages could be used for gift wrap! I absolutely love the look of these. If you don’t have any books beyond repair, try the pages of a newspaper or magazine for a similar look. Again, this gift wrap is recyclable.

Old wallpaper scraps

This one is at the end of the list because who even has old wallpaper scraps? But I did find some at the local ReUse center, so I guess I do. All the ribbon in the picture below came from the there too. Design studios donate all their old fabric and trims to keep it out of the landfill, and people like me can use it!

What are you doing this holiday season to live more sustainably? Check out ways to decorate with books to see my New Year’s Resolution!

In Praise of Old Books

Appreciating the many uses for old books

I didn’t choose the old book life, the old book life chose me. It all started when I found a monthly community book fair that liquidates its leftover merchandise–for free. I love a good Little Free Library, and this was like a Big Free Library. So I checked it out. There were childrens books, novels, non-fiction, business books, art books, travel guides, even media like VHS tapes (which in case you were wondering, weren’t exactly flying off the shelves).

I gravitated to the shelves of old, vintage and antique books. I started collecting them not for the content (I haven’t even read one yet) but for their visual value. The leather covers, torn and stained. The imprinted letters of the titles and the rough, uneven cut of the discolored pages. Each book is one of a kind, not something that can be ordered on Amazon. Each copy of one of these books could be the last ever in existence, you never know.

So I have a generous collection now–some might say too generous. So here’s how I’m putting them to good use.

Decorate with antique books

These books can be used as a display item, on a mantle or coffee table. They’re more than just books–they’re a little piece of the past. Plus it makes you seem highly cultured to have some distinguished volumes on the shelf to balance out those copies of Bergdorf Blondes and The 4-Hour Body or even How to Build a Car. Not that those are real titles I just saw on the shelf or anything. Hm. Moving on, here are some displayed on the mantle above the fireplace. Right now, the heavy volumes are actually playing a nice role holding up Christmas stockings.

Antique books for event centerpieces

I coordinated a wedding this fall at the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul, and the couple used old books to create centerpieces! It went nicely with their Beauty and the Beast theme, with a little Chip teacup perched on top of the books!

Find old, vintage and antique books

In addition to used book sales, I’ve also seen older books pop up in Little Free Libraries from time to time. You just have to be in the right place at the right time. Most of these old books come from people’s personal collections, so hit up estate sales as well.

And of course, my all time favorite online shop for handmade and vintage goods, Etsy! (affiliatel link)

New Year’s Resolutions

Appreciating the decorative value of decades-old books has helped me with my goal of living more Eco-conciously this year. By rescuing these old books from going into the landfill, I also gained something that can’t be bought at the store. So if you’re looking for a sustainability-focused New Year’s Resolution, try this: This year, I will strive to use something already in existence instead of buying new. Even if it’s just once, it’s a fun thing to try.

Other New Year’s Resolutions to check out

I’ve linked up with some other websites to share more ideas for eco-centric New Year’s Resolutions.

Green Sustainable Resolutions

Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions

DIY New Years Resolutions

Zero Waste Home

16 Ways to Save Money Every Month 

12 Sustainable Goals for the New Year

4 Simple Ways to Decorate with Squash and Gourds

Eco holiday decorating

Every year I seem to have a few more squash from the garden than I know what to do with! They end up inside as decorations, which is okay with me. After all, nothing says fall like a bowl of heirloom squash and petite gourds on the counter. It’s an eco-friendly and incredibly easy way to bring a little autumn to any house.

An easy to make fall centerpiece

One thing I love doing with squash is making a centerpiece, as seen above! You can add votive candles and pinecones if you wish, or just use the pretty fruit itself. Decorating, done.

A variation of that, below, is to set the fruit on some pine branches, eucalyptus or other greenery.

Painted pumpkins

This was a fun, easy DIY. Just add metallic paint and glitter to a small gourd for a little shine around the holidays. This will render it inedible though, so save your best pie pumpkins for glitter-free decorating.

Put a bow on it

I had this beautiful black watch plaid ribbon, which totally seemed like fall! So I tied it on the stem of a squash and a little decoration was born.

Outdoor fall decorating

Spruce up the front step with a little display of your squash crop. It’s seasonal, decorative, and totally eco-friendly.

Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite way to display fall’s garden harvest.

I originally published these photos on Midwest Living.

Check that site out for more fall decorating ideas and see what my fellow bloggers have planned for holiday decor, including:

Here’s how to have a minimalist Christmas

How to cure your own olives

Mason jar recipes

Holiday garden gifts

Make a holiday sign with scrap wood



How to swap plastic beauty products for bamboo

I switched to bamboo beauty products. Here’s what happened.

Why use bamboo beauty products?

So why bamboo? It’s a sustainable resource that grows easily in poor soil–no need for fertilizers or pesticides. At the end of its life I can compost it, keeping it out of the landfill completely. Plus bamboo just feels luxurious. It’s fun to use these high-quality products knowing that I’m doing something good for the Earth.

Four Eco-friendly products to switch to right now

This year I discovered that many everyday products we all use that can be found in bamboo instead of plastic! So I switched to a bamboo comb, bamboo hair brush, even bamboo toothbrushes (and more!). Here’s what I used and what changes they resulted in for me.

I’ve linked to the products I use below, using affiliate links. There are tons of other brands that are probably just as good, these just happen to be the ones I used and liked.

1. Bamboo Comb

This comb is super affordable online (I paid twice as much for it at my local food store). Unlike plastic, bamboo combs have less pulling and no static. That makes it better for your hair, especially if you comb while it’s wet. I honestly can’t go back to using plastic combs anymore! They just don’t feel as sturdy when I comb through my thick, knotty hair.

2. Bamboo Toothbrush

From a friend who runs a Facebook group about zero waste living, I learned there is such a thing as bamboo toothbrushes! I’d never thought much about it before, but if you use 3-4 toothbrushes in a year, that amount of plastic adds up. So I decided to try a bamboo handled brush.

I ordered this 12 pack linked below for $10.50, which is easily the cheapest toothbrush option out there. I was a little concerned that the description said they were for “orcal care,” since I don’t have whales. But despite the sketchy copy editing, it seems like a decent product and you can’t beat the price. I will definitely order these again. The bristles are gentle and my teeth feel as clean as using any other toothbrush. No better or worse, just a good solid alternative to a plastic handled brush.

3. Bamboo Hairbrush

Also cost-effective, a bamboo bristle hairbrush should last you a long time! Like the bamboo comb, it’s anti-static and feels great on your scalp. If your hair is hard to brush through, thick or tangly, a brush like this is a must have. It’s supposedly gentler on hair and leads to less hair loss. It helps keep hair shiny and manageable, two things for which I will take all the help I can get! The only downside is that it’s a little more difficult to remove hair from the bristles of the brush.

4. Bamboo Straws

Refusing plastic straws is the way to go these days, since growing concerns about them littering oceans have made major media outlets. Once you’ve seen the video of what plastic straws can do to sea turtles, there’s no going back. Luckily, there are these reusable, sustainable alternatives to plastic straws. You may have heard that drinking tea and coffee through a straw helps prevent tooth staining. Bamboo straws are ideal for this because you don’t have to worry about the straw melting!

After each switch to a bamboo product, I can honestly say I can’t imagine going back! I personally think the products are well made as well as sustainable, and work just as well if not better than their plastic counterparts. What do you think? Is using bamboo beauty products weird or inspirational?

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