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valentine's day dressFloral Maxi, Vivacious Lace-Up Sandal, Red Clutch, Tassel Bracelet

I’ll be honest, if something is too fancy I usually don’t even give it a chance. I may admire it from afar and on other women, but truthfully, I feel a little uncomfortable in something so dressy.

This magnificent dress was no different. I admired it when it was first unpacked at Maude, then again as different women tried it on. But then one night, after everyone had gone home, I decided to try it on. I luvved how feminine and fun it made me feel.

I understand when women feel uncomfortable in dresses or certain outfits because I feel that way in something as extravagant as this dress, but it’s always fun to push yourself out of your comfort zone and give it a try. You may luvv the results!

Valentine's day dress

valentine's day dress with red clutch

valentine's day dress, tassel bracelet

valentine's day dress-vivacious heel

valentine's day dress

Have you ever pushed yourself and luvved the results?

darcy-sig

Hi, little Luvvies!

Since Melinda is about to have sweet baby Oliver any day now (!!!), she asked me to help you out with your Valentine’s Day sweet treats. My name is Hannah Lavender and I own a home-based bakery in Little Rock (Sweet Lavender Bakeshop//insta:@lavenderbakes). I was so excited when Melinda asked if I could bake something up this week, but it was awfully hard to decide what type of pretties to make. I finally decided on cupcakes, because seriously…who doesn’t like cupcakes? These are some of my very favorites to make for Valentine’s Day. They’re super simple to decorate (and extremely cute, duh!), and even more yummy to eat.

I decided on devil’s food cake with cream cheese icing; it’s not too terribly sweet, has the perfect amount of chocolate flavor in the cake, and is topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting.
Yes, please!

RED DEVIL’S FOOD CUPCAKES
(makes 24 cupcakes)

INGREDIENTS
1 stick Unsalted Butter
2 cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup warm water
2-3 drops red food color

DIRECTIONS

In a medium size bowl, mix your flour, cocoa powder, soda, and salt and set to the side.
Using a stand or handheld mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg, then add vanilla & food coloring.
Add buttermilk, alternating with your dry mix.
Add warm water to smooth out your batter and mix for about 15-20 second to make sure your batter is all good and evenly mixed.
Line your muffin tins and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.

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CREAM CHEESE ICING
1 8oz block of cream cheese
1 stick butter
dash salt
powdered sugar

Okay, I’m not going to lie to you…I NEVER measure my powdered sugar when I make cream cheese icing. I go by taste and texture when making my icing. Usually I use a little over half of a bag of powdered sugar (roughly between 4-6 cups). That’s usually the perfect amount of stiff, sweet & tangy!

Once your cupcakes have cooled, it’s time to decorate!

valentine's day cupcakes, valentine's day, valentines, sweet lavender bakeshop, devil's food, devil's food cupcakes, cream cheese icing, chocolate piping, romantic desserts, sweet desserts, homemade cupcakes,
Melt some chocolate in a bowl and put it in a piping bag (or you can use a ziplock bag, but I honestly never have much luck using them..I think I’m too messy for them). Pipe some hearts, X’s and O’s on parchment paper (or any other cute mushy words you desire) and then place it in the freezer. Once they dry & you take them out, they’ll still be a bit fragile..I always have a couple that end up breaking on me!

I use a piping bag to decorate my cupcakes, but you can do it however you please! I bought some cute sprinkles at Target to go along with my piped chocolate. If you want to make the top of your cupcake flat, just pipe a big dollop on it & use a knife or offset spatula to flatten it & then roll the sides in sprinkles.
valentine's day cupcakes, valentine's day, valentines, sweet lavender bakeshop, devil's food, devil's food cupcakes, cream cheese icing, chocolate piping, romantic desserts, sweet desserts, homemade cupcakes,

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with whomever you choose to celebrate with & make some sweet treats for!

Happy baking!

Luvv,
Hannah

red peplum, SheIn, valentine's day style,

red-ruffle-peplumRed Peplum Top, BC Vivacious Heel, Denim Available at Maude Boutique

Last week I touched on how I was feeling romantic, but it was really about romancing myself. I wanted to indulge in the things that make me feel happy—buying myself flowers, old records and sitting in cafes for tea and macarons. And this week, I’m still feeling the same way. I found this (in my opinion) dreamy ruffle peplum and knew I had to have it. It is a dramatic piece of clothing but I luvv it so much. I paired it with high-rise denim and lace-up heels to keep it fun, casual and a little bit undone.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, luvvies!

darcy-sig

February is for luvvers. Especially this coming Sunday, which (according to the ungodly amount of heart-shaped boxes in the “Seasonal” aisle at Kroger) is Valentine’s Day. People hate on V-Day, but I actually kind of love it. I get to dress up and go out on a grown-up date with my husband, then come home and stuff myself with chocolates.
Valentine’s Day is also a great excuse to rock a “fancy” hair style, which brings me to today’s tutorial.

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For this Dutch braid/bun combo, you’ll want to start with day-two hair. Use a comb to create a wide side part (I use the arch of my eyebrow as a guide). Make sure to continue your part down the back side of your head, keeping it as straight as possible.

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On the heavier side (with more hair), use a clip to secure all the hair.

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Now on the side with less hair, you’re going to start a Dutch braid, which is exactly like a French braid except you pull hair under the center piece rather than over.

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As you work, pull the braid tight back toward your ear. Once you’ve braided behind your ear, stop and secure the end of your braid with a small clear elastic.

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Gently pull on the loops of your braid to give it some volume.

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Now that your braid is done, we can work on the other side of your hair.

Take the heavier side down from your clip and use a comb to section off the hair from your ear forward. Use a curling iron to curl the hair in this front section, (which I actually split into two smaller sections), then use clips to pin those curls up.

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This step not only ensures the prettiest, bounciest curls for the front of this look, but it also gets this front section of hair out of the way so you can work on twisting the back section into a bun.

With the remaining hair at the back of your head, you’re going to create a simple twist bun. Gather all your hair like you’re going to put it into a low ponytail, but instead twist it over itself.

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Use bobby pins to secure your bun.

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Now slip the clear elastic from the end of your braid, then gently wrap the tail-end of the braid around your newly-secured bun. Use bobby pins to secure.

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Once the bun is taken care of, it’s time to take down your front curls! This look is sort of a reverse mullet: business in the back, party in the front!

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You’ll want to give your curls a little bit of a back-comb before spraying them with some strong hairspray. I always spray my curls along the bottom so they will stay bouncier.

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Smooth out where you teased your front curls and you are good to go!

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This is such a pretty, edgy, fun Valentine’s Day look. It may seem slightly complicated because of all the steps, (and this photo-heavy post!), but I promise it isn’t difficult to pull off at all.

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The bobby pins keep this look in place all night, and the braid gives it just enough structure to hold up through date night, while still being a total show-stopper.

 

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Have a happy Valentine’s Day, luvvs!

katie-sig

 

 

As Galentine’s Day approaches it’s time to get serious about where you and your gal pals are going to spend some much needed girl-time. If you are located up in NWA, look no further. We have found the dreamiest spot around. If you are in Central Arkansas, don’t fret. We have some awesome suggestions for you below.

Located on the quaint Fayetteville Square, Alchemy offers a wonderfully French experience. The macarons are vibrant in both color and flavor options. I chose the rose one and it was perfection. Just enough sweet and the perfect hint of rose.

Alchemy also boasts a stunning selection of teas, both herbal and classic. I went with a garden herbal tea which paired nicely with my rose macaron. It was a floral flavor explosion to my heart’s content.

Oh, and have I mentioned that the owner is actually French? I feel like this makes it all so much more authentic. Oui? She is also absolutely darling in case you were wondering.

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alchemy macarons fayetteville arkansas

alchemy macarons fayetteville arkansas

alchemy fayetteville arkansas

Alchemy Macarons Fayetteville Arkansas

Alchemy Macarons Fayetteville Arkansas

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Ooh la la!! Doesn’t it just have that je ne sais quoi? Too many stereotypical French phrases in one post? Oui? Non?

Okay, I’ll stop now. :)

If you are located in Central Arkansas, there are truly some awesome places to spend that special gal-pal day. We highly recommend:

“Beer and Beads” event at Flyway Brewing in North Little Rock. Sample some of Flyway’s best brews while crafting with your best babes! More info here.

“HeART of the Bar” shop-and-sip (this weekend!) at South on Main in Little Rock. Try a luvvly cocktail while browsing the wares of dozens of local makers and artists! Read all about this fun event here!

 

darcy-sig

It’s the Superbowl this Sunday, which happens to be one of the best days of the year for snacks! I mean, the football is ok, the commercials are good, but it’s the food that keeps me excited. For this year’s Superbowl party, I’ve decided to have a SNACK-OFF. Which team will have the better snacks? I’m bringing you two dishes inspired by the fair of the state that the team represents.

In one corner, with have the Broncos. Colorado is known for its beers, and one of my personal favorites, New Belgium beer, calls it home. For their dish, I’m bringing you a Fat Tire Chex Mix. fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50

In the other corner, we have the Panthers. North Carolina is known for lots of delicious food, but one of the standout foods to come from there is Krispy Kreme donuts. For NC, I’m showing you how to assemble a donut dessert nacho bar.fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50

Question is, which snack will be the better one??  Show up repping your team not only with your spirit, but also with your food choice!

NEW BELGIUM CHEX MIX

fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50

Ingredients
1 cup of New Belgium Fat Tire
1 cup of Smokehouse Almonds
1 cup of Honey Mustard Pretzels *I added in extra normal pretzels as well.
4 cups of Rice Chex
4 cups of Wheat Chex
6 tbsps Butter
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon of Salt
fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50
First, you need to turn the Fat Tire into a syrup by reducing it in a pan while on low heat. While it simmers into a syrup, you can gather together all of the other ingredients except the butter into a bowl.

Once the beer has turned into a syrup, add in the butter.

Next, pour the syrup mixture over the bowl of ingredients. Then lay out over a baking sheet.

Lastly, cook at 250 for an hour.

Make sure you store it an air tight bowl! fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50

KRISPY KREME DONUT DESSERT NACHOS
fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50

Ingredients
Krispy Kreme donuts
Whipped cream
Chocolate syrup
Sprinkles
Nutella
Peanut Butter
Coconut
Fruit (bananas, raspberries, strawberries)

fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50

Gah, these are indulgent, but DANG they are sooo good. For these, you will set up all of the ingredients into different bowls and then let everyone pick and choose their toppings as they want. These desserts nachos are incredibly customizable, and also probably my new favorite thing.

I laid out nutella, peanut butter, syrup, whipped cream, berries, bananas, coconut, and sprinkles with the donuts. I chose to buy some raspberry filled donuts because I love them, however, you can choose whatever kind of Krispy Kreme donut you want. If it’s not the Superbowl, you can obviously choose whatever kind of donut you want. In this case, we’re rocking the Krispy Kreme for the Panthers.

Cut up the donut pieces and then layer whatever other ingredients you want on top of it. fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50 fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50 fat tire, fat tire chex mix, chex mix, trail mix, donuts, donut dessert nachos, krispy kreme, nutella, syrup, superbowl, superbowl snacks, superbowl sunday snacks, denver broncos, carolina panthers, superbowl 50

Which food do you think will win the snack off? Enjoy your Superbowl luvvvvs!!

Happy Eats My Sweets,

melinda-sig

Oh.Wow. This weekend was incredible! Were you able to get out and enjoy the amazing weather? I don’t know about you luvvs, but it left me feeling re-energized and motivated for the month ahead.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge Valentine’s Day person, but there is something about starting the month of Feb. that gives me all the feels. Maybe it’s the looming sense that Spring is getting closer, but while I may not care about the commercial holiday, I start feeling more and more romantic. I want to buy bouquets of flowers (for myself), burn French Lavender candles, have coffees at sidewalk cafes and wear feminine, romantic outfits like this one.

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This striped peplum paired with denim and bright red bow pumps are just what I needed this weekend. I love how feminine peplums are, and by wearing it with simple denim I can throw in a bright red pump with fun detail without anything feeling over the top. It’s simple, chic and romantic just the way I like it.

Does February give you the feels too?

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Happy February, luvvies! Today’s post is all about using green color correcting concealer to make your skin look flawless. This tutorial is both exciting and terrifying, as I will be sharing photos of my (mostly) naked face and talking about some of my skin insecurities.

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The ironies of being a 31-year-old beauty blogger are not lost on me.

I realize that my skin is not perfect, and that those imperfections (dark circles, fine lines, redness, etc.) are a natural hazard of aging.
I also realize that using any kind of heavy editing, photoshopping, blurring, teeth-whitening, or face-tuning filters would be somewhat misleading in the world of beauty blogging for real women. My unspoken pledge to you, dear readers, has always been to “keep it real” throughout my various makeup and skincare experiments, while still illustrating the power of cosmetics to improve upon one’s real beauty.

This brings me to today’s topic: covering up red spots.

 

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My desperate need for a color-correcting product came thanks to broken capillaries on my cheek and around my nose. These reddish spots are more noticeable on my skin in the winter when I’m at my palest. After slathering on regular skin-toned concealer for a few months, I finally admitted to myself that it wasn’t enough coverage to even out my skin tone.

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Having never purchase green concealer before, I went the drugstore route and picked up this Anti-Redness Primer from Loreal.

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To use the color-correcting concealer, squirt a small amount onto the back of your hand (as opposed to squeezing the product directly onto your fingertips); this will allow you to apply a very tiny amount of the green primer at a time. And trust me– a little goes a long way. If you use too much of this product, you’ll wind up looking sea-sick.

Using your fingertip, dot the primer over any areas of redness and remember to be delicate– you can always go back and add more if you need to.

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Use a makeup wipe or washcloth to wipe your fingers, then gently go about blending in the green concealer.

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Now it’s time to cover the greenish tint with your normal concealer. For this tutorial I’m using my Fix It stick from Dior.

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Use a beauty sponge (or your fingertips) to blend out your skin-toned concealer. All redness should be successfully concealed! And since the formula for this particular anti-redness primer is especially light, it shouldn’t feel caked on.

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You can always top this expert color correction job with your favorite BB cream, foundation, or powder to really set in the coverage. The beauty of color correction products is that they allow your skin to look its best in photos and in real life, without the need for a heavy foundation (or heavy IG filters).

Have a great week,

katie-sig

 

Sitting in the doctor’s office at 11 weeks pregnant, my husband looked at me and said “Are you sure you’re excited that we’re having a baby?”

This question left me stunned. Of course I was excited to have a baby, why did my husband think I wasn’t? When I stepped back and reflected over the way I acted in those few early weeks of pregnancy, I could see why my husband felt the need to ask me this question. He could see, even before I saw it in myself, that I was forcing some enthusiasm, that I was masking some sadness.  It turned out, my feelings about becoming a mother ended up being way more complicated than I had anticipated them to be. As I approach motherhood, only two weeks from my due date, I wanted to share with you the highs and lows that came with accepting this new part of my identity.

First, a little background about me. I had a very complicated family life growing up that left me desiring to know the traditional parent-child relationship, so a part of me always felt a certain yearning to experience said relationship. That, paired with the constant mom-ing I already do to every person in my life (sorry friends!), made me feel like I am built to be a mom, like I wouldn’t be the fully realized version of myself until I had experienced that part of life.  The motherhood fever was REAL, and the baby fever was REAL. The intense desire to become a mom, to see my husband as a father, and to hold my own baby in my arms was so acute that it hurt.

Well, a few years into marriage and few years into my profession, Thom and I felt ready to make the jump.We made the leap of faith that we were ready and then boom we were fortunate enough to become pregnant.

My instant feeling upon finding out was elation! I remember thinking, I can’t believe we can actually have a child! After wanting it so badly, I figured it would be so much harder for me than others. That somehow my desire to be a mom would be the very thing that kept me from getting to become one. After elation, fear quickly snuck up on me. Now that I had gotten what I wanted, surely it wouldn’t last…

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I lived in fear of a miscarriage everyday. I thought I could let it go, but I couldn’t. Even now at 38 weeks, I’m still fighting off the feelings of something bad happening. I imagine that’s something that won’t go away with motherhood, but rather the worry will be a permanent fixture, at least for this anxiety-prone momma.

While fear was the emotion that followed elation, it wasn’t the fear that ultimately led to my twisted feelings about pregnancy. I say this because it was easy for me to dismiss my sadness at first as just the product of fear.  That it was holding me back from being thrilled. Turns out, it was a beast of a whole other nature. A beast named grief.

On that day when my husband asked me if I was sure that I was excited about having our baby, I, of course, gave the instant canned response of “Yes! Absolutely!” I didn’t quite know how to put into words the part of me that wasn’t excited. I didn’t know how to admit that to myself, let alone to admit those feelings out loud to another person. After being asked that question, I knew I really had to face myself, had to face whatever it was that kept me from feeling that pure excitement about becoming a mom. As I tried to put a name to the feelings, it all boiled back to grief.

Once I knew that it was grief I was feeling, everything else I was struggling with started to gain clarity.

What is there to grieve for when you’re pregnant? Turns out, at least for me, more than I would have expected.

I had to grieve for the loss of a part of myself. I would no longer just be totally whoever I wanted to be. I would have to be able to make my decisions not just from the Melinda lens, but from the momma lens as well.

I had to grieve the changes that would come to my relationship. It’s not just going to be Thom and I sleeping until way too late in the morning spending the time doing whatever we wanted, going wherever we wanted.

I had to grieve the loss of my body. Everything about my body and choices became dedicated to my baby. Even after delivery, my body will still be sacrificed to my baby, and will, honestly, never be the same again (I’m looking at you, stretch marks!).

I had to grieve what it would mean to be a mom in my profession, in my hobbies, in my friendships, and so on. There would be no part of my life left unchanged.

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These are all sacrifices I thought about before I became pregnant, but once I was actually pregnant, the weight of them became so different. It was a reality I didn’t expect, and it was a reality I didn’t want to admit aloud. I didn’t want to seem like a bad mom before my baby was even here and that’s exactly what that grieving process made me feel like. I would think to myself, how can I be a good mom if I’m selfish-ly feeling all of these doubts?

Now that I’m on the other side of that struggle, I think experiencing that grief and doubt while pregnant is actually going to make me a better mom. By being honest with myself and others about these feelings, I’ve saved myself from internalizing them. I’ve saved myself from hiding them and letting them rule my world and from letting them potentially damage the relationship I will have with my son. I’ve saved myself from resenting myself and others because of this change. I’ve accepted that to grieve on the precipice of a major life shift is just a part of being honest about those changes and a part of honoring their reality.

None of this is to say that I have my emotions figured out. I’m sure when Oliver graces us with his wonderful presence I will feel some or all of these feelings again and new ones as well, but at least now, I’m ok with that. That’s why I wanted to write this. To say to all of you fellow pregnant moms, it’s ok if you’re not as excited as you thought you’d be, it’s ok if a part of you feels sad about pregnancy. It doesn’t mean you will love your child less. It means that you acknowledge that with this momentous change, you will lose a part of your self. You can say goodbye and mourn that loss, and you can acknowledge with that loss comes a double gain. You will gain a new part of your identity, and you will gain a child.

Your whole world will change, and that’s heartbreaking. However, just as with any other life change,  the new adventure that comes in its place is so worth all of the tumult; it will heal that heart right up and make it stronger.

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Sincerely,

melinda-sig

As the first month of 2016 winds down, we luvvies here in central and eastern Arkansas have been treated to several inches of snow. I was glad for it, (hey, who doesn’t love a snow day?), but also dreading the drying-out of my skin. By mid-January I was already feeling kind of scaly, and the blustery arrival of last Thursday’s snow left me in desperate need of a full-body exfoliation. But lest we forget– I’ve been snowed in. Time to DIY the easiest body scrub EVER.

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So of course I went to my pantry and — after digging through the cookies, chips, and other snow day essentials — grabbed the holy grail of all skin-savers: coconut oil. Duh.
The magic ratio for any at-home scrub or exfoliator is 20% oil to 80% scrubby material, which in this case is brown sugar. To make it smell even yummier, I also grabbed my vanilla extract.

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Start by scooping out your brown sugar into a bowl. I used 3 packed tablespoons.

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Next add one heaping scoop of coconut oil. (ICYMI: coconut oil is pretty much the nectar of the gods. You can cook with it, put it in your coffee, use it as a natural moisturizer for skin, lips, and hair, make dog treats out of it, apply it over makeup as a highlighter… the list goes on and on.)

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The coconut oil and brown sugar should already be smelling pretty sweet together, but the added drops of vanilla make this DIY scrub a total joy to use in the shower. Plus it leaves a light vanilla-sugar fragrance on your skin. Only add a couple of small drops, though; too much vanilla extract will mess with the consistency of your scrub.

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Now use a fork (or your fingers) to combine the mixture. Because the coconut oil is essentially solid, you will most likely still have small beads of white oil mixed in with your brown sugar. Do not worry about this– when we heat the mixture up, those beads will melt into the sugar to create the perfect scrub consistency.

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Go ahead and move your scrub into a microwave-safe container (one with a lid, so you can seal up your mixture in between uses!).

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You could use the scrub as-is: the larger granules of brown sugar will make for a more intense exfoliation.
Or you can pop your mixture into the microwave (lid OFF) for around 15 seconds to fully combine the oil with the granules of sugar and also soften the brown sugar just enough.

The end result is not only the easiest DIY scrub ever, but also the most effective for dry, patchy wintertime skin.
I stand by this DIY, luvvies! I was dealing with some grody dry patches on my arms and legs, and this scrub not only smoothed out those dry spots, but also left my skin feeling super hydrated and glowy. Thanks, coconut oil!

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Have a great week, luvvies– and get ready for all the exciting things we have cookin’ up for February!

katie-sig

 

 

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