Two great DIY books: Stunning Braids and Bath Bombs, Salts, and Scrubs

For someone who loves playing with makeup, I am not much of a do-it-yourselfer. I can’t get into scrapbooking, I’d rather buy a jar of tomato sauce than make my own and my Pinterest boards are full of projects I know I will never undertake. But I was sent two books that inspire me every day to do something with my hands, and my little projects always turn out great.

Stunning Braids

Stunning Braids

Stunning Braids:  Gorgeous Hairstyles for Any Occassion from Work to Weddings ($17.95) was written by Monae Everett, a fabulous hairstylist/blogger who has worked on lots of celebrities and has been featured in major publications like the Huffington Post and Redbook. Her book is fantastic for those just experimenting with braiding, although seasoned braiders will find lots of great styles to try as well.

Stunning Braids

Stunning Braids

The book starts with the basics, including specific product recommendations for everything from hair spray and serums to flat irons and hair dryers. Monae starts with braiding prep, and includes tips for creating styles like loose romantic waves and flat iron curls. Then she gets down to braiding business.

Each style has a large photo of the finished product, step by step photo instruction, plus additional tips and tricks. It starts with the basic three strand braid, ‘the mother of all braids’, and goes all the way through complicated knotted updos. It also has a great section for African-American hair.

This is one of the best braiding books I own. It’s amazing for working on someone else – my poor daughter is my guinea pig way more often than she would like – and it’s clear and simple enough for working on your own hair.  Stunning Braids is a great staple book to keep right on your vanity.

Bath Bombs, Salts, and Scrubs

Bath Bombs, Salts, and Scrubs

Another super fun book that I don’t use daily but that makes for some awesome weekend fun is Homemade Bath Bombs, Salts, and Scrubs ($14.95) by Kate Bello. This book has 300 recipes for luxurious soaks. While you might have some ingredients around the house like baking soda, coconut oil, and cornstarch, there are other ingredients to plan for like essential oils, Himalayan sea salt, rhassoul clay and flower petals.

Bath Bombs, Salts, and Scrubs

Bath Bombs, Salts, and Scrubs

There aren’t pretty pictures inside, but there are tons of easy to make recipes that address ailments like fevers, asthma, and cystic fibrosis. There is a section of recipes for skin and beauty concerns like acne, oily skin, and sensitive skin; plus recipes to use for meditation, chakra cleansing, and aphrodisiac baths. There are even recipes for men and for pregnancy, plus a cool section with recipes for baths from ‘around the world’. Here is one that I have made several times that I just love:

Clary Sage Uplifting Salt Soak

2 cups Himalayan salts

1 cup of coarse sea salts

1/2 cup of baking soda

1 cup rhassoul clay

5 drops of clary sage essential oil

5 drops lemongrass essential oil

2 drops of benzoin essential oil

I get a lot of my ingredients, including essential oils, from Whole Foods. Another great online source is Mountain Rose Herbs. I tend to go for the bath salt mixtures, but there are also great recipes for bath bombs and scrubs in this book as well. All of the creations make terrific gifts and Kate has suggestions for packaging and storing your creations as well.

Both of these books are terrific fun and I highly recommend them! They are published by Ulysses Press and can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Pick them up for some DIY that you will actually enjoy!   – Lisa

*received for editorial consideration

Giveaway alert! Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar

gettyimages.com

gettyimages.com

November always makes me a little panicky. I know that the holiday season will be here in a flash and with my son in college, the expense of gifts is especially daunting. This year I am focusing on DIY gifts and with our Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar giveaway you can too!

Nielsen Massey Sugar

Besides the fact DIY gifts are pocket-book friendly, they are also so much more personal than a gift card. Nielsen-Massey has truly beautiful vanilla products that aren’t just yummy, they make perfect ingredients for beauty treatments that are so easy to make! I love their Vanilla Body Scrub recipe that uses Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar (Nielsen-Massey sent us the product to test).

NielsenMassey Vanilla Scrub

Vanilla Body Scrub

1 cup Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 or 2 drops of an essential oil such as lavender, eucalyptus, etc.
Decorative, waterproof container

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

Spoon into a decorative, waterproof container.

Wrap in decorative paper.

Instructions for use: Apply a small amount to damp skin while in shower or bath. Gently scrub skin with a soft washcloth. Rinse thoroughly.

This is a heavenly body scrub that leaves skin wonderfully soft and smooth. My favorite essential oils to use are either lemon or jasmine.

beautiful packaging!

beautiful packaging!

Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar is awesome for baking

Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar is awesome for baking

Of course, the Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar is also a great gift just by itself. It’s a combination of gourmet baker’s sugar and Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract. Use it as your sugar in baking, sprinkle it in your coffee or hot cocoa, or sprinkle it on some fruit for a delicious dessert. It comes in a beautiful 8.5 oz. glass jar, and it is all sorts of yummy!!

Here are some more great packaging tips from Nielsen-Massey for personalized handmade gifts:

  • Package homemade biscotti, cookies, or even body products in vintage tins or jars. A beautiful container is an additional gift that the recipient can keep long after the handmade gift is gone.
  • Instead of using traditional wrapping paper or gift bags, wrap boxes in craft paper and decorate with pens and markers. Wrap jars and bottles in fabric, burlap, or a pretty kitchen towel and secure it with colorful striped baker’s twine.
  • Attach a Christmas ornament to the outside of the package in lieu of a traditional gift tag. Ornaments can be treasured for years to come.
  • Include a hand-written note or card with the recipe for your gift – it is the gift that keeps on giving!

individual-recipes-banana-bread-pudding

Check out the Nielsen-Massey website for more product information and additional recipes, including more DIY gift ideas such as:

  • Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
  • Decadent Holiday Fudge
  • Cinnamon Vanilla Candied Almonds
  • Gourmet Blueberry Vanilla Granola
  • Sweet and Spicy BBQ Rub
  • Chocolate Coffee Biscotti

And don’t forget to visit the Nielsen-Massey Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NielsenMasseyVanillas and Twitter at https://twitter.com/NielsenMassey.

Enter our giveaway today and you can make a Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Body Scrub or your own DIY holiday gift!

This fabulous US giveaway runs through November 11/23/14 at 11:59 p.m. (If comments aren’t open please comment on our Facebook page or email me at marciaandlisa@gmail.com). — Lisa

*giveaway prize courtesy of Nielsen-Massey #NMVHolidays

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