Too Easy Homemade Makeup Primer

1920s-flapper-makeup15Do you use makeup primer? You know, the stuff that you put on after your moisturizer, but before all the other crap that’s supposed to make you look young. A few years ago, I noticed that when I would on my concealer, I started showing wrinkles under around my eyes. THE. HORROR. The point of concealer is to make me look refreshed after my boy child wakes me up in the middle of the night. It is NOT supposed to accentuate those fine lines that nobody wants to see.

I don’t remember who I talked to about it at the time. I was quite sleep deprived, so it could have been the dog. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the dog,  because whomever it was told me I needed to use makeup primer. And my dog slept a lot, negating any help looking refreshed. Whomever the human was who told me about primer swore it would change my life and get rid of that nasty look of my mineral powders mixing with my concealer and settling into those fine lines. So off I went to the mall to pick up some, post haste.

And you know what? It worked beautifully! It was like a magic face lift AND my makeup stayed on all day. That was a bonus. But then, I ran out. I bought another brand, but wasn’t crazy about it. And then my boy child started sleeping again and I didn’t seem to need it as much. So to cut expenses, I stopped buying it.

Fast forward a few years and I turned 40. Guess what that means? Sleep is no longer a factor. I just have wrinkles. I needed the primer again. I, of course, realized this the night before my sweet husband and I were whisking away for a weekend trip to Chicago, SANS CHILDREN. I wanted to look my best for that man of mine, but I certainly didn’t have time to go to the store. So I did what I normally do, I looked on Pinterest for a recipe to make my own. If I could find one that was all natural, even better.

The more I looked at recipes, the more I saw one common ingredient – aloe vera gel. None of the other ingredients were even remotely similar, which led me to believe the active ingredient was really the aloe. Well, I just happened to have about three gallons of the stuff on-hand (if you taught as many demo classes as I do for natural products, you’d have that much, too).

So on my way out the door to Chicago, I put a fingertip of the gel on my face and spread it all over. THAT’S ALL. Just a fingertip worth. I spread it over and around my eyes, on my forehead, and everywhere else, let it dry, and then added concealer and mineral powders. It completely did the trick! Let me just tell you, this is so, so, SO inexpensive and completely natural. What more do you want? I’m pretty excited, so I thought I’d share the secret with you. It’s not often you find a one-ingredient-wonder. Now, go forth and be wrinkle free, or at least look it. I’ll give you some more recipes later for what you should do with the rest of that aloe vera gel.

Not Messy or Melty Natural Deodorant

SmellingArmpitsOkay, so there has been some odd behavior going on since I made my latest deodorant recipe. Those who have used it have been going around asking people to smell their armpits. It’s one thing to smell your own pits, but it’s quite another to encourage your friends to literally stick their noses where they do not belong. You know who you are. (Cough, cough, LizaBeef.)

Why, do you ask, would these otherwise beautiful and upstanding women and men of the community run amok with such potentially gross behavior? Partially because it’s not gross. Their pits smell, well, delightful! That’s a stretch for pits. Okay, we’ll go with nice. Their pits smell nice. But here’s what has really encouraged their Neanderthal ways….they’ve been using my homemade, all natural deodorant. And quite frankly, they’re amazed (and a little off their collective rockers).

I know you guys have been asking for this recipe for a while. But I did not create it myself. I took what I liked from a few different recipes and made a version I liked. Then I had to have others try it out to see if it worked for them, too. Now, this is not an antiperspirant. But I will say that my normally sweaty-pitted husband (I love you, sweetie!) actually sweats less with this solid, stick deodorant than he does with store bought brands. Oh, and did I mention it’s super easy to make and doesn’t melt? You’re welcome. Try it for yourself. But please, just TELL others about it. No need to SMELL others about it.

Crazy Wholesome Deodorant


  • ¼ cup organic coconut oil (solid) – the base and so healthy for your skin and body. Any major grocery has this.
  • ¼ cup aluminum-free baking soda (Arm & Hammer is aluminum free) – absorbs moisture & alkalizes your body. You can find this almost anywhere.
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour – absorbs moisture. Organic section of grocery store or here.
  • 2 Tbs. bees wax pastilles – emulsifier. Get them here.
  • 15 drops Young Living Purification oil – for the stink. Get it here.
  • 15 drops Young Living Sage oil – for the sweat. Get it here.
  • Empty solid deodorant container. These are by far the best and a bit bigger than most. Get them here.

*This recipe makes just a little more than one container can hold. I always triple the recipe and get at least one more stick out of it, equaling about four.

Simple Instructions

  1. Melt coconut oil on low heat.
  2. Add dry ingredients. Stir continuously.
  3. Add bees wax. Stir continuously.
  4. Remove from heat. Let cool.
  5. Add oils.
  6. Pour into containers. Refrigerate ~30 minutes.

Detailed & Verbose Instructions

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a pot on the stove at a medium-low heat. If you have non-stick or aluminum pots, don’t even get me started. That’s a discussion for another day. Just trust me, for now, throw them out and go get a cast iron enamel pot. Your body will thank you.
  2. When the oil is melted, add the dry ingredients, stirring continuously until all the lumps are out. Sometimes it’s better if you sift it, but that’s a personal preference.
  3. When that’s all smooth and melty, add your beeswax pastilles. Stir continuously, once they begin to melt. These take a painfully long time to melt when you are an impatient person, which I most assuredly am. But, I choose to suffer through it because keeping this at a low heat protects the healthy properties of the coconut oil. I suppose you could use a double boiler, but I always have to jimmy-rig one together since I don’t own a proper double boiler. And that’s just one more step for me.
  4. When your beeswax is all melty and incorporated into the rest of the ingredients, it serves as an emulsifier and keeps it all together nicely. Pull that pot off the heat now.
  5. Letting it cool. I am very precise with everything I do. (Ahahahahahaha!!!! JUST KIDDING!) But you need to let this mixture cool just a bit before adding your essential oils. You don’t want to diminish all the good stuff in them with the heat. So here’s my precise test: when you can stick your finger in the mixture and it’s still liquidy, but you come out with all of your skin still on said finger, add the oils. Use a stainless spoon to stir them in nicely. Purification has citrus oils in it and those bad boys will just suck those toxins right out of your plastic/silicone spoon and deposit them in your mixture. Kinda defeats the purpose.
  6. Lastly, just pour into your containers to the top, cap them, and pop those bad boys in the fridge. They only need to stay in there for maybe 30 minutes. Just so they’re good and solid. From that point on, keep them in your drawer or cabinet.

And that’s it. Let the armpit sniffing begin! (No, seriously. Don’t do that.) Have you tried my recipe? Let me know what you think!

Natural Laundry Tabs – Borax & Fels Naptha Free

laundryOn my journey to eliminate as many unnecessary chemicals as possible from our household, last year I made my own laundry detergent. It’s the same recipe you’ve probably seen a hundred times by now – Borax, washing soda and Fels-Naptha. It was a bit messy to make. When I attached the canning jar to my blender, as the blogger suggested, I didn’t realize the rubber gasket had fallen out. Let’s just say my kitchen got reeeeally clean after that – mostly because it was covered in gloppy laundry detergent. But less than $20 in ingredients made enough detergent to last this family of five a full year! Totally worth the mess.

But then, I found Thieves Household Cleaner. And it cleans SO MUCH BETTER. My whites are so much brighter and the stains actually come out – even grease! While I would love to use solely Thieves Cleaner for my laundry, it’s not in the budget quite yet. I set off to find a detergent recipe that included Thieves, but I didn’t really like what I found. So I took several recipes, mushed them together, took things out, put things in, and came up with this (which I think works pretty well)….

Homemade Laundry Tabs


  • 1 bar castile* soap (4 oz) I used Kirk’s Castile. Swanson’s has the best price will give you $10 off a $20 order if you click here.
  • ¼ cup aluminum free baking soda (Arm & Hammer)
  • ½ cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (baking soda will not work)
  • ¼ cup citric acid, which you can get here.
  • ¼ – ½ cup distilled water or Thieves Household Cleaner*
  • 5-10 drops of essential oil of choice for scent


  1. Grate bar of soap and add to large bowl. Use a fine, hand grater for best results, but you can totally use the food processor if you a crunched for time. It doesn’t grate so much as shred, so you have bigger pieces that may leave a few small lumps in the laundry sometimes. But no big deal.
  2. Mix the grated soap, baking soda, washing soda, citric acid and oils together in bowl.
  3. Slowly add the water or Thieves Cleaner, a little at a time, mixing until it starts to clump and is easy to manipulate. (To make powdered detergent, skip to alternate directions below)
  4. Press into ice cube trays or silicone pan shapes. I fill each shape ½ to ¾ full.
  5. Set the trays out to dry for at least 12 hours in a dry, warm area.
  6. When you use the tabs, add them in with the load and not in the separate area for detergent (if your machine has one). They won’t dissolve properly without enough water.
  7. Store in a mason jar or air-tight, dry container of your choice.

Alternate Directions for Powder:

  1. See step 1 above.
  2. See step 2 above.
  3. See step 3 above.
  4. Let dry in bowl for at least three hours.
  5. Break up and clumps with hand.
  6. Let dry at least three more hours.
  7. Store in a mason jar or air-tight, dry container of your choice.

Yield: ~ 30 loads

*To purchase Thieves Household Cleaner, go to If you are not already signed up as a member, please SIGN UP HERE.

**works well in HE machines also

They Want Dinner EVERY Night!: Simple Gluten Free Meals

We have a newish babysitter and she’s not had to do dinner with our kiddos before now. As a 15-year old, I’m just not going to put the responsibility on her to properly get it all together for the crazy food family. So in preparation, I had made spaghetti sauce and grabbed a bag of organic brown rice spaghetti (found at Trader Joe’s for $1.99 for a pound) and called it dinner. And guess what this sweet teenager announced when she walked in? “I’ve just been diagnosed gluten intolerant! I can’t eat anything my parents make!! Help!!!”

Well sweetheart, you came to the right house. I told her to snoop around and eat whatever she wanted, spaghetti dinner included.

Let’s face it, there are very few of us who enjoy making dinner nightly – especially when you eat gluten free and can use very little (while unhealthy) convenience foods.  But as the now-famous meme reminds us, it has to be done. So let’s make it simple. Here are a few things I cook for dinner. My sweet sitter, this is dedicated to you and your overwhelmed mama and daddy.

dinner every night

Simple Spaghetti

  • 1 lb. ground turkey or organic ground beef
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs. fresh garlic (and by fresh, I mean the big jar of minced garlic)
  • 1 jar organic spaghetti sauce (I use Trader Joe’s or Simply Organic from Costco)
  • 1 can of organic tomato sauce (15 oz.)
  • 1 Tbs. oregano
  • 1 lb. organic brown rice noodles ($1.99 at Trader Joe’s)
  1. Boil a pot of water in preparation for your noodles. Throw in a dash of olive oil so they don’t stick (GF noodles tend to stick way worse than wheat).
  2. Brown your ground meat in olive oil for turkey, no oil needed for most beef. While browning, add in onion and 1 Tbs. garlic.
  3. When nice and brown, add spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, oregano and the last tablespoon of garlic. Let simmer.
  4. Drain noodles, pour on some sauce, and you have dinner.  Now you should have about half the sauce left. Pour that in a container and freeze it for when you need a quick dinner and always keep the noodles on-hand.

Crockpot Pulled Pork Tacos

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 jar of organic chunky salsa
  • organic taco shells* (super cheap at Trader Joe’s again)
  • 1 can of organic pinto beans or black beans
  • taco toppings – cheese, avocado, lime juice
  1. Place tenderloin in crock pot.
  2. Pour jar of salsa over tenderloin.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. Shred with fork and put on taco shells with desired toppings. Serve with beans. In fact, I load my taco up with the beans and all of the toppings I mentioned above, with the limes squeezed on top.

*If you can’t have corn, just serve on it’s own with the toppings. You don’t have to put it on something to eat it. Except a plate. I do suggest a plate.

Standard Dinner

  • chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle GF bar-b-q sauce of choice (most are GF)
  • frozen broccoli
  • 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 8 organic red potatoes
  • 1 Tbs. “fresh” garlic
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Place chicken breasts in crockpot.
  2. Pour bar-b-q sauce over chicken.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. Wash and cut potatoes into cubes.
  5. Toss with garlic, olive oil and sea salt.
  6. Spread on cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400○.
  7. Place broccoli in microwave steamer bag with suggested amount of water and nuke it for approximately 8-11 minutes.
  8. Toss broccoli in bowl with mustard and butter.
  9. Plate it all and eat up, knowing you’re serving a healthy, gluten free meal!

White Chicken Chili

  • 2 cans organic navy beans
  • 2 cans organic great northern beans
  • 1 cup of canned or freeze dried chicken
  • 1 cup organic chunky salsa
  • GF chicken broth (I use Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken Broth – the others are not GF, even the Natural.) Amount various on how thick you like your chili.
  • 8 oz. jack cheese, shredded
  1. Pour beans, chicken, chicken broth and salsa in a pot and heat until warm. You may also put it in the crockpot for the day.
  2. Add cheese when ready to eat.

These are just a few meals that are simple to get you started. What is your favorite meal that you’d like to replace now that you’re gluten free?

My Favorite Foods – 2014 Update

I did a post a few years ago about My Favorite Things, but times (and products) have changed, so I felt it was time to update the list. I try to do as many things as possible from scratch.  But as we all know, it is much easier to cook healthy when you’re at home and not at work.  Go figure.  Anyway, we do buy a few process foods, though we still don’t use most of these on a regular basis.  If you live in the South, the store suggestions may apply to you.


  • Sandwich BreadFor the Kiddos: Rudi’s – $3.50/loaf on sale or with coupon.  This brand, according to my single gluten-consuming child, tastes most like regular wheat bread.  It also goes on sale a lot and often has coupons.  It is available at Kroger (organic freezer) and Earth Fare.  Dairy free.
  • Sandwich BreadFor the All of Us: Udi’s – $5.99/loaf at Kroger, $6.99 for a loaf that is twice the size of a regular loaf at Costco. Well worth the $50 membership fee to buy bread all year. We buy a bunch and freeze* it.
  • Hot Dog & Hamburger Buns – Udi’s, Rudi’s, Kinnikinnick – various prices.  All have been about the same and pretty good overall.  Kroger (organic freezer) and Earth Fare.  All dairy free.


  • Toaster Waffles – Trader Joe’s brand Wheat Free Waffles – $1.99/box of 8.  While they are not certified GF, my children are some of the most sensitive I have ever met when it comes to cross contamination and have not had a single problem with these.  They are dairy free, as well. Do not, I repeat DO NOT buy the TJ frozen pancakes. They are mush in the middle.
  • Toaster Waffles – Van’s GF Waffles – $3.25/box 6.  If you are not lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, fear not.  They have a pricier, certified GF, equally yummy version at Kroger (organic freezer) and most other big chain stores.  Also dairy free.
  • Cereal – Chex has lots of yummy flavors like cinnamon, chocolate and apple spice – $3ish/box.  You can buy Chex almost anywhere these days – Target, Kroger (organic section), Wal-Mart.  Just make sure you don’t come home with Wheat Chex.  The others will say “GLUTEN FREE” in reeeeaallly big letters across the front of the box.  Get one of those.  Oooo, and you can usually find COUPONS for Chex!
  • CerealEnviroKidz – $3/box on sale.  They have lots of varieties like the Gorilla (much like Kix), Leapin’ Lemurs (peanut butter and chocolate), Panda Puffs (peanut butter), and the really special treat, Koala Krunch (much like Cocoa Krispies).  You can find these at Kroger (organic section), Trader Joe’s, Earth Fare, and sometimes even at Wal-Mart.  Also available on They are made with a lot of corn, so not especially good for you, but they’re yummy!
  • OatmealBob’s Red Mill GF Oats – $4+/32 oz. bag.  We make our own little oatmeal packs now with these fabulous oats (check back for recipes).  In fact, we go through a case of this stuff a month!  While you can find it at Kroger (organic section), Earth Fare, and even at Big Lots on occasion, the best price is still at  I use subscribe and save (for obvious reasons), making it about $4/bag.  When Girly Girl II’s tummy will tolerate nothing else, she does very well with oatmeal.
  • Oatmeal – Again, Trader Joe’s is the place to be. They have a big bag for $3.99.


  • Sandwich Cookies – Glutino, Earth Fare brand and K-Toos – various prices.  All of these varieties come in both chocolate and vanilla.  You can find both the moderately priced Glutino and the really pricey (but dairy free!) K-Toos at Kroger (organic section) and Earth Fare, and by the case at Amazon.  Obviously, the Earth Fare brand is only available at Earth Fare and they truly are the best price when you get them on sale.  Heck, the sale price is almost the price of normal cookies, so stock up* when that happens!
  • Brownies & Place and Bake CookiesFrench Meadow Bakery – $6/box.  These brownies and cookies are absolutely delicious – almost gourmet!  Look for them at Kroger (organic freezer) and Earth Fare (freezer near ice cream).  Bonus: they are also dairy free (which is hard to find in these particular desserts)!  You can go to their website to get coupons, as well.


  • Carol’s All Purpose Pastry Flour (Gluten Free) promises to be “the best gluten-free all-purpose flour you have ever used or your money back!”  Well let me just tell you, I am broke from giving Carol all of my money for her amazing flour and it was worth every penny.  Nothing compares to this flour, but it is $20 for 5 lbs., so don’t waste it on just anybody.  Save it for special occasions.  You can only get it through her website.  For those non-special occasions, use one of the suggestions below.
  • Williams-Sonoma’s Cup 4 Cup – This GF flour is so yummy, it’s worth the $20 price tag for a 3lb. bag. Carol’s is still better, and less expensive. But if you’re in a pinch, you know it’s close by.
  • King Arthur has always made high quality wheat flour and their GF flour does not disappoint.  You can find it next to their regular flour at Kroger.  It runs about $7/box for 24 oz. (1.5 lbs.)
  • Gluten Free Bisquick works well, especially when mixed with something yummy like a pancake mix.  It is next to the regular Bisquick at Kroger and is priced about $4/box.
  • Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend – Full disclosure: I’ve not tried Pamela’s flour, but everything else she makes is so good, how can this be bad? I just checked and it’s less than $12 for a 4 lb. bag on Even less if you buy it through Subscribe and Save! I guess I’ll be trying this sooner than I thought. You can get it at Kroger (organic section) for around $18/bag. And unlike some of Pamela’s other products, no almond flour!


  • Pamela’s mixes are always really delicious.  But often an intolerance to almonds goes hand-in-hand with Celiac disease.  Pamela’s uses a lot of almond meal/flour (that what makes it so good).  They are a bit pricey, but worth it.
  • 1-2-3 Gluten Free brand is also incredibly delicious and incredibly pricey.  Available at Kroger, Earth Fare and Amazon.
  • Bloomfield Farms has the best cornbread mix on the market – gluten-free or gluten-full.  They also have wonderful pancake mix and seasoned flour.  They are only available online at Bloomfield Farms.
  • Betty Crocker offers cookie, cake and brownie mixes at Kroger, Earth Fare and Amazon.  They are a great price and make really good products.  But don’t look for them in the organic section.  The Betty Crocker brand likes to place its products next to its regular products.


  •  Kinnickinnick  – Say that three times fast. Or at all! I’ve tried this pizza crust myself and love it. Bonus – it’s the least expensive I’ve found, as there are 4 personal sized crusts to a pack for about $7. Found in the organic freezer section of Kroger.
  • Udi’s – A great brand with good pizza crust that is always good. Available at Kroger (organic section) and Earth Fare.
  • Trader Joe’s – Do you see my love for this store? They have an absolutely delicious, thin crust, four cheese pizza. A whole, entirely made, just heat in your oven pizza for …..are you ready….$4.99! Beat that. I dare you.


  • Mac & CheeseAnnie’s GF Rice Pasta & Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese – $2.50+/box. Again, your best deal is on, but they also have it at Kroger (organic section) and Earth Fare.  We don’t eat it often because of Boy Wonder’s milk allergy and Girly Girl II’s severe lactose intolerance.  But they did like it until reactions set in.
  • Pasta – We go between Quinoa pasta, which contains corn, and rice pasta. Both are really delicious, but I prefer Quinoa myself. It’s more like wheat to me. Tip: cook with a little olive oil in the water. They both cook fast and stick easily. Both available in the organic section of Kroger and at Earth Fare.


  • Doughnuts and Muffins – Three words that will change your GF life: Katz Gluten Free. This is a Kosher bakery in New York, and it’s certified Gluten Free! Need I say more when it comes to yumminess and perfection? I’ve not tried all their products yet, but I’m committed to try.
  • Chips – Fritos & Lays Potato Chips.  I have found while we have had great success with store brands of Fritos, such as Ingles and Kroger, if you want regular potato chips, you HAVE TO buy Lays.  Just read the ingredient label on the store brands of the chips and you will often become physically ill, especially anything Wal-Mart brand.  I never, EVER buy anything Wal-Mart brand.  Let’s put it this way, I was reading the label of their lemonade mix (yes, you have to read even that) and it said it was processed near wheat, milk, and what was that other food….oh yeah, TALAPIA!  As in the fish!!  Lemonade processed near fish.  Gross.  Just gross.  Do yourself a favor and never buy Wal-Mart’s brand of food.  I’m off my soap box for now.
  • PretzelsSnyder’s of Hanover GF Pretzel Sticks – $3/bag.  These are the best pretzels you will EVER eat, gluten or otherwise.  I served them at a birthday party to a bunch of normal-eating people and they all demanded to know where I got these fabulous pretzels.  Score 1 for gluten free!  You can score a bag at Amazon, Earth Fare, Benefit Your Life or The Market (Maryville).
  • Graham CrackersSmorables by Kinnikinnick – $4.30/box.  These are available by the case on Amazon, which is how I buy them.  You can get them in a few speciality stores for a higher price, but buying only one box at a time.  Benefit Your Life stocks them, but I believe they are seasonal at Earth Fare.  Kinnikinnick, while having a virtually unpronounceable name, has wonderful products.  You can find many of their other items at Kroger in their organic section.
  • Animal Crackers – Annie’s GF Bunnies – $3.75/box.  Annie’s makes a variety of flavors of animal crackers: chocolate and vanilla, snickerdoodle and ginger snap.  All three available at Amazon and Earth Fare.  Kroger only stocks the regular variety, though I’ve begged them for a year to get the GF kind.  They obviously don’t fear me…yet.
  • Animal CrackersK-Kritters by Kinnikinnick – $4/box.  There’s that funny name again!  These “crackers” are more like traditional animal crackers in taste.  Available at Amazon and Earth Fare.
  • Granola BarsEnviroKidz Crispy Rice Bars – $3/box of 6.  Let’s face it, there are very few healthy granola bars.  I’ve made lots of versions of homemade granola bars and the only one my trio of children can agree on is, well, none of them.  They love these though and I save them for special occasions.  They are available at Amazon, Earth Fare and Kroger.

*Always keep your current loaf in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it longer. GF items go bad quickly on the counter. I’m sure by the time I post this I will have thought of about 10 more things I should have added, but this will have to do for now.  I have found my kids don’t care as much as I do about the “quality” of most mixes.  But since I’m eating most of it, too, I am a bit pickier than if I were just shopping for them.  I want my food to taste really good, gluten free or otherwise. What are your favorite Gluten Free pre-made suggestions?

How I Knocked the Elf Off the Shelf

The extent of my creativity - he's sitting in a window.

The extent of my creativity – he’s sitting in a window.

It’s that time of year again! Time for parades and nativity pageants and driving around to see the lights, and oh, no. Oh, CRAP. It’s time for that stupid elf to come back. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that makes Pinterest blow up this time of year with his ridiculous antics and parents find yet another way to compete with other parents and themselves. It’s time for the Elf on the Shelf.

I resisted the elf for a long time. One of the reasons is, it started from someone’s family tradition and then was marketed throughout the U.S. I find nothing wrong with that for anyone who wants to participate. But I really don’t want to purchase my family tradition, especially when everyone else has the exact. same. tradition. That kinda takes the special right out of it, don’t you think?

And then it happened. My beautiful, independent, overly imaginative and sometimes obsessive 8-year-old daughter came home in tears because we were the only family she knew that an elf didn’t want to come live with during the Christmas season. Fabulous. Now I have to keep up with a stupid elf. I didn’t have to do it, really, but she has a great love for fairies and elves and magical (fictional) creatures. She reads a lot. Plus, we tell her “no” so often, that I just really wanted her to have a “yes.”

So despite my reservations, I gave in to the elf. But I did put my own spin on it, of course. As I said, I didn’t want to purchase our new tradition, so I asked my grandmother if she still had any of the elves that used to sit on her mantel during Christmas. And wouldn’t you know she had three? Perfect, I thought! I will rotate them so they are all special to the kiddos, and when they’re parents, each child can take one to pass along to their own children. Our elf didn’t come with a book, but with a note that said he was Grandmommy’s elf (true-ish) and was old (very true) and near retirement (about to become the gospel).

Now, I’m pretty sure I mentioned that our Girly Girl I can get a teensy bit carried away with these fictional, yet imaginative creatures. We have fairy houses made of molding cardboard all over our yard to prove it. She leaves notes for the Tooth Fairy with an expectation that this time she’ll receive one in return. She still believes in Santa. She’s 10 now and no end is in sight.

Priss Pot and her sibs have loved the elf, whom they named Pepper (short for Peppermint) for two seasons now. Great. Have fun with it, love it and I might just remember to move it before 6 a.m. and occasionally (once) do something creative with it. But this year, when the notes to the soon-to-return elf began in November, I was done.

I decided this year that, while the elf is sweet and fun, it was time to keep the fun and silliness, but dial back on the elves and Santa. At ages 10, 8 and 5, I don’t mind my children enjoying Santa and the magic he brings, but if they are going to be obsessed with something during Christmas, I want them to be obsessed with Jesus. After all, we wouldn’t have Christmas without Christ. So I scoured the internet for ideas of how to OFF the elf. Since they love him so, I didn’t want to do away with him completely, but I didn’t want him to be the focus either. I decided that he and his buddies (who never even got to make an appearance in our house) are retiring this year, but they’ve recruited some friends so the kiddos can continue to have a little fun.

Enter the Wise Guys. This year, instead of an elf getting into everything at our house (not that ours ever really got into much), we have three little toy Wise Men who are on the hunt for Baby Jesus. Each night, while we sleep, they will search the house trying to find him. And on Christmas morning (I’m taking a little liberty with the actual-factual story here), they will find him in his little manger, under our tree. I was fortunate to find wise men who were fun, poseable and inexpensive, as our Little People Nativity Set just wasn’t going to do the trick. I’ll let you know how it goes, but I think the trio will be excited about it. Our elves are going to make an appearance with a note, explaining that they will be hanging out on the mantel all season (just like they did when Grandmommy was little), enjoying retirement.

If you like Elf on the Shelf but would like something different, I encourage you to come up with your own fun tradition to do with/for your children. Or if you’re just sick of the elf, find a way to retire that cotton-headed ninnymuggins!

Acne: It’s Not Just for Teenagers Anymore

Acne. A woman’s best friend. Well, less like a best friend and more like an annoying wannabe friend. You know that girl who thinks if she gives you more and more attention, eventually you’ll like her? Only you don’t. You could handle seeing her in small doses, once or twice a month. But no. She can’t do small doses. She wants to go to lunch, talk on the phone, text you everything that happens during her day, and well, be your best friend! I didn’t have this problem in high school. I was blessed with occasional bumps, but nothing major. Fast forward to the age of 23 and that acne chick became so very present in my life that I had to begin daily meds to try to get rid of her.

I don’t know about you, but as much as I hate pharmaceuticals, I hate acne more.  Well maybe not more, but I’m willing to take something, even on a daily basis, to get rid of it. Acne is gross, it hurts, and let’s face it (no pun intended), it’s just not pretty. I’ve tried every product – OTC and prescription, ProActive, Arbonne, Obagi – you name it! The only thing I adamantly refused was Acutane. Some products worked great…and then they changed the formula and they didn’t work at all. Other products didn’t work at all from the beginning. Most worked okay, but didn’t make my face clear.  But after 15 years of going on and off daily meds, I was over it. But there was another problem…

During the times I have gone off of my acne meds, my oily hair went into overdrive. We’re talking hair that needs re-washing a mere 2 hours after the first wash of the morning. The meds not only controlled the oil on my face, but on my scalp, as well. Makes sense, but I could never find a product to control my scalp as well as the acne meds.

Ebeth and Amy Two have been telling my for a year about blogs they have read about oil cleansing. So I read up on it and it scared. me. to. death. Add more oil to a face that is already so slick my makeup slides off some days? Um, no thanks. And keep in mind, they don’t have acne-prone skin, so they had no reason to try it for themselves. But finally, I couldn’t take the the chemicals anymore. The thought of what years of all these various medicines have done to my body and still left me fighting, well I just decided I had nothing to lose.

So I read the blogs…again…and they suddenly made sense. The theory behind it is that conventional cleansers strip your skin of natural oil, resulting in your skin overcompensating for the lost oil and producing far more than what is needed for healthy skin. So I planned a date. I needed a specific date to begin this journey when the least amount of people would see me and I wouldn’t need to wear a lot of makeup to cover what was surely to be a full-on outbreak. So I chose the second week of summer, beginning the day after my 20 (gasp!) year high school reunion. And if you don’t think God has a way of convincing you that you’re doing the right thing, even with your little, vain hopes and dreams, then you are dead wrong.

The two weeks before “the date,” my face looked like I was covered, COVERED in measles. I almost wish I had a picture. It was the worst it has ever been IN. MY. LIFE……EVER. And I was still on an oral prescription, as well as a very expensive topical 3-step system. So obviously, I had nothing to lose. I went to my favorite store,, and ordered organic jojoba oil. And since we all know how my hair was going to react, I went ahead and threw in all natural shampoo and conditioner for oily hair.

Here’s what I did. I soaked a wash cloth in steaming, hot water, removed my eye makeup with coconut oil, then put a quarter-sized amount of jojoba oil on my hand, rubbed my hands together, then generously applied to my face. Please note, I did not remove anything but my eye makeup before this step. Then I took my steaming washcloth and just let it lie on my face a few minutes before gently using it to rub down my face once, taking my makeup with it. I rinsed and did it once more for good measure, and I was done. No need for moisturizer after that.

Now here’s the hardest part. The next morning, knowing the jojoba oil would cause any makeup I would apply for the day to instantly disappear, I didn’t wash my face. I merely let the hot water run on it in the shower. Now, you want to know what happened? My acne began clearing up! Here’s the truly unbelievable part is how quickly it happened. I could see a significant difference within 24 hours! And within a week, my face was COMPLETELY CLEAR! No one was more astonished than I. As for my hair, you’ll have to wait for another blog about that. I’m just too long-winded to get it all in one post.

But here’s what I want you to know: you CAN have clear skin without the use of chemicals. Don’t be afraid. Give it a try and let me know your results.