Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to School Spa Party for Girl Scouts

Back to school mean added stresses; so it's time to destress with a girls-only DIY spa party!DIY spa party ideas for a sleepover party or Girl Scout troop meeting. Most items are simple to find in your garden!

We treated the girls in our Junior Girl Scout troop to a back to school spa party for their first meeting. It was a low-key way to start off the year and subtlely talk about stress!

A back to school spa party can be as elegant (and costly) or inexpensive as your troop's budget allows. Here's what we planned for the girls - and most of the ingredients for our spa recipes came from our garden:

Our troop kept the spa party low-cost without losing the experience; we used bandanas for head wraps to keep banana out of the hair; we took cucumbers and the dill for the nail soak from the garden. 

We did treat the girls to a mini bottle of nail polish for their own pedicures if they remembered the Girl Scout Law.  All told it was less than $15 for the meeting.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bug Fest is today!

Bug Fest is today at Southeastway Park (5624 S Carroll Rd., New Palestine, just southeast of Indianapolis). Hours are 1 to 5 p.m. The event is free but parking is $5. We went a few years back and the children truly enjoyed it!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Whole Foods Rebates and Gift Cards through Ibotta

I confess: I am a huge fan of the Ibotta app. It allows you to easily get rebates on grocery purchases or other online purchases and cash in for a gift card. Whether you're thinking it's an easy way to save for Christmas gifts (free Starbucks or Barnes & Noble cards) or a way to get a little extra grocery money (Whole Foods gift cards), Ibotta is really easy to use.

ibotta app - get rebates on groceries and cash in for gift cardsI'm happy to say that in the month or two I've used Ibotta, I've found a number of items I could easily get rebates on, including milk and eggs. But there are also gluten-free, vegan and organic products also available. Some of the brands you can currently get rebates on include:
  • Tom's of Maine
  • Beyond Meat
  • Enjoy Life
  • Runa Tea
  • Celestial Seasonings
  • Burt's Bees
  • Plum Organics
  • Little Moon Essentials
  • Earth Balance
  • Little Duck Organics
  • Health Warrior Chia Bars
  • Goddess Garden Organics
  • Herbal Zap
  • Ocean's Halo Seaweed Chips
To get the rebate, you simply scan in the barcode of the item and upload a copy of your cash register receipt. Once you've accumulated at least $10 in rebates (which is very quickly done) you can begin cashing out for gift cards.

Ibotta works with more than 80 national retailers. Local chains represented on Ibotta include Whole Foods, Target, Kroger, Meijer, Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens.

Disclosure: This post does include a referral link, which helps supports this blog. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dealing with depression: The battle never ends

For as long as I can remember, my husband has been a huge fan of Robin Williams. I've surprised him with two shows (a huge feat, considering both were in Indiana!) and we've seen practically every movie he's made.

The news Monday of Robin Williams' death hit hard in our home. But not for the reasons you might imagine.

For nearly a year (officially) but longer in reality, we have dealt with the roller coaster of depression.
The reality is, no matter how hard we try to control it, depression is an illness. And like any other chronic condition like diabetes, some days are better than others. And like any other chronic illness, depression can have its ups and downs, regardless of you being faithful to your medication or treatment.

In the months since my husband began medication therapy, we've had my husband slowly return to "normal." But the reality is there is a new "normal.' He's never truly returned to his "old self." Instead, we've learned to love him and his new temperment -a little quieter, a little more resigned - but continue to embrace the man who loves his family with all his heart.

We've dealt with a stretch of lows - a string of down weeks, peppered in with what we call "bad days." Being injured with a rotator cuff injury didn't help it. Being limited physically easily impacts your emotional health, especially if you have someone as independent in spirit as my husband. I can so easily see how someone with a chronic health problem - such as recovering from heart disease, such as Robin Williams was - could be brought down by the realities of their physical health.

I have no great answers for those who love people who battle depression on a daily basis. Simply pray. Pray with them, pray for them. And open your hearts and arms to them, even when they say they don't need it. Because as humans we simply do.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Scout Spa Day Test: DIY Nail Soak

What's a spa day without getting your nails done?

Unfortunately our school dress code means no nail polish, but that didn't mean the girls couldn't pamper their hands a bit.

Instead, we turned to the garden for a quick and easy nail soak, taking advantage of the random dill that had sprouted in my garden from seed this summer.

I got many of the ideas for the spa party from an old book I had, "Natural Beauty for All Seasons: More Than 250 Simple Recipes and Gift-Giving Ideas for Year-Round Beauty." In it, we found seasonal ideas for homemade spa products - many of them right from the garden.

DIY Nail Soak from the Garden

1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried dill or one small bunch fresh dill (leaves, flowers and stems)

Boil water and pour over the dill.  Allow to steep until cool. Strain the dill and use as a nail soak. 

The verdict

The girls thought it was fun to soak their nails, though they said it smelled like pickles. (Having the cucumbers there too probably did not help!)

I did notice after soaking that my nails were shinier.

This DIY nail soak  was definitely replicable for the troop!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Scout Spa Day Test: Jello Foot Baths

For our Girl Scout spa party tests, one of the funnest activities but least repeatable with a large group was foot baths and pedicures.

I found this quirky recipe in an old book I had, "Natural Beauty for All Seasons: More Than 250 Simple Recipes and Gift-Giving Ideas for Year-Round Beauty." In it, we found seasonal ideas for homemade spa products - many of them right from the garden. Well, this one wasn't. It was for jiggly foot baths made out of none other than Jello.

How to do make it:

You will need one box of Jello and container per girl. Mix up the Jello with more water than typically called for in the box directions - approximately 4 cups water to a 3 oz. box of Jello - and let set for multiple hours.

Yes, mom dutifully followed the recipe. And we rolled it out to our girls -- outside -- to see what they thought on the hot afternoon.

The verdict:

They loved it. More giggles ensued. They squished and played in the Jello for a long time.

But here's why I wouldn't necessarily do it with a large group:

  1. As you can see, it takes 9x13 baking dishes or large tubs. Which means a large organizing effort or buying a lot of unnecessary tubs to pull this off.
  2. (Mom answer.) Not the cleanest project to pull off. I foresee Jello all over our meeting space, whether intended or not.
  3. The red Jello we bought tinted the girls' feet red for a few days!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Scout Spa Day Test: DIY Kids Facials

What is a girl's spa day without a facial?

If you want to give your girls a facial without putting harsh chemicals on their tender skin, there is a way to do it!

For the facials, I referenced an old book I had, "Natural Beauty for All Seasons: More Than 250 Simple Recipes and Gift-Giving Ideas for Year-Round Beauty." In it, we found seasonal ideas for homemade spa products - many of them right from the garden.

But one of the easiest ways to give a "facial" was to use mashed banana. (Even Dr. Oz is touting it these days.) Many recipes include mixing yogurt, honey or other ingredients to the mashed banana. For our test though, we simply mashed a banana and let the girls put it on their face. (We figured this was a project that wouldn't last long, anyway.) The girls giggled as they wiped banana on their faces, and we let them enjoy their "facials" outdoors a few minutes until they were ready to wash them off.
diy kids facials with food from garden

Count on, in general, one banana for three girls.

We also let the girls use the all-too-common cucumber slices on their eyes. They got a kick out of it, but really wanted to munch on the cukes instead!

Verdict: Girls loved it. Cost-effective (especially if you have cucumbers in your garden). Easy to pull off.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Scout Spa Day Test: Make Your Own Cocoa Lip Gloss

Our Junior Girl Scout troop is kicking off the school year with a Back to School Spa Party. Two reasons for it: I overheard more than one girl stress out already about fourth grade (and it hasn't even begun yet!) and, frankly, pampering yourself is just plain fun.

Make your own cocoa lip gloss
The key is finding a blend of natural - yet mostly inexpensive - items without busting the budget. So, we have opted for a number of DIY projects and spa pampering ideas.

Luckily I have an in-house tester (and a BFF) who can help me test these projects out before we try them out before a dozen girls. This week, I'm sharing some of the spa successes and failures for you to try, whether for a mom and daughter day, a Girl Scout troop meeting, or a girls spa sleepover party.

Today's test: Make your own lip gloss.

I've seen dozens of ideas on Pinterest on "DIY lip gloss." Often it involves two products: Vaseline and Kool-aid packets. Sometimes, they get a little more involved, like edible glitter, etc. 

If you are just going for the basics and don't want the sticky sweet fruit punch flavor, you can also try a brown tinted cocoa flavor. Here's how to do it:

You will need
Empty clear plastic cosmetic containers (I just bought them in bulk on Amazon, these directions are for 5 gram containers like these)

For each container: Melt 1 teaspoon Vaseline in the microwave. (This will take a 1-2 minutes, stir occasionally.) Add 1/4 teaspoon cocoa, adjusting for color/taste. Stir until dissolved. Cool slightly, then pour into cosmetic container and use.

The verdict: Easy to pull off. Easy to use. Girls liked.