Page 82: How To Clean Your French Press

My friends. I tell you, I thought I was the only one with this problem because I’ve never heard anyone else complaining about it.

One quick Google search proves that not only does everyone else have this problem, but so many of you guys have just accepted that this pain in the hiney is just a part of life. But I have found a hack! I found a life hack that has made cleaning my French press so gosh darn easy.

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Page 54: The Holiday Gift Guide–Dangerously Last Minute DIY Edition

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been fully adoring the exceptionally warm weather this winter. Thanks El Nino! Sixty degree weather got me driving with my windows down, belting out Adele songs (yes, still) and ordering iced lattes.

And then one day it got a little chilly. We pulled out our coats, looked at our calendars and much like the McCallister family who suh-suh-slept in (!) we all realized at once that Christmas is in, like, FOUR DAYS! Like, Christmas is soon enough that we might not even have time to order things from Birchbox or Sephora for our mothers and our sisters and best friends. The horror! The horror!!

Oh, but my friend. I’ve got you. What I have for you is not one but two glorious DIY’s. A very easy one and an even easier one. Are you ready??

First things first, the easy one.
A decadent Vanilla Brown Sugar Lip Scrub:

Ingredients:
1 Part Olive Oil
2 Parts Honey
2 Parts White Sugar
2 Parts Brown Sugar
A smidge of vanilla or a little bit of scraped vanilla bean seeds

Method:
Mix all of this together in a bowl and then disperse into little jars. In fact, I’ll recommend tiny jars. I used small jars but judging about how little you use each time you use a lip scrub, this small jar will last for decades. I’m not exaggerating.

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It should be very thick and sticky when it’s through.

I’ve used homemade lip scrubs in the past. I’ve decided that I really don’t like coconut-oil based products for this because coconut oil is so persnickety as far as temperature is concerned. This olive oil based lady maintains her texture over time.
Just scoop out a tiny bit, rub it into some damp lips and rub and rub and rub. It feels so good and I love it. And if you swallow some, you’re fine. You don’t need to call poison control.

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Pro tip: If you can, try to gift this along with a glorious lip balm. I recommend this Mango+Ginger balm from The Grove Collective which is accessible through ePantry.com or this delicious TokyoMilk Femme Fatal Dark Salted Caramel Bee Balm and Jasmine Lip Balm that I got from Birchbox (but, again, if you’re working on a strict time-budget, just tell your gift recipient to finish up with a lux balm for best results.)

Second things second, the even easier one that may not even require a grocery trip.
A Sweet, Dirty Hands Scrub:

Ingredients:
3 Parts White Sugar
1 Part Dish Soap (I used that pink kind that has Oil of Olay in it to keep your hands nice and pretty but I’ll bet that Miss Meyer’s Basil Dish Soap would be so incredible, too, especially for gardeners.)

Method:
Dump it all into a bowl and pour it into medium-size jars.

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This is so, so great for people who get exceptionally dirty hands. I intend to give a jar to my brother who works on his car a lot and a jar to my mother who spends a good amount of time in her garden. But it’s also really, really nice if you just really want to get down with a good hand-scrub. It’s relaxing and really does an excellent job of exfoliating.
If you can, pair it with a delectable lotion that is good for sensitive skin–time allowing, of course. I, personally, don’t have any recommendations for this as I am constantly on the hunt for a lotion that will not only not set my sensitive skin on fire but will also keep me from feeling greasy. Now accepting suggestions in the comments section.

And now, a few photographs that I took and want to use even thought they didn’t necessarily fit:

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Do you have any go-to last minute gifts?
Do you have a suggestion for a lotion that will keep me feeling like a human?
What do you think of DIY gifts? Are they cheap and unwanted or are they extra thoughtful and delightful?

I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Maybe even a couple’a holidays. I’ll see you after the new year with my very, very exciting list of New Years Resolutions! Twenty-Sixteen is full of so many exciting things that it hurts me to not tell everyone about it right now but let’s keep you guessing.

 

XOXO,
LIB!!

PS! If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m hosting a giveaway on the XOXO,Lib Facebook page with the support of R&R Roasters (a company that you have heard me rave about in the past and will continue to hear me rave about in the future–speaking of last-minute gift ideas, did you know that you can order a Coffee Subscription. Do it! Do it! Do it!)

Page 53: The Holiday Gift Guide–White Elephant Edition!

The holiday season is well upon us, my friends! And along with that comes parties. And along with THAT comes at least one White Elephant Gift Exchange. Some people call it Dirty Santa or Nasty Christmas or Yankee Swap?

I remember my first White Elephant Gift Exchange. In college, I got an invitation to a party. The invitation said that the party would include a White Elephant Gift Exchange and I had no idea what that meant. My friends tried to explain it to me, “You just bring something funny.” Okay, well, this was not very helpful. And I was a college student living on about $64/ mo so I had to get really creative. I was overwhelmed and went to the thrift store and found a stuffed Gizmo from Gremlins. Surprisingly, he was a hit!

I always have a ton of fun at these parties though they do come with their own levels of anxieties. It’s always so much fun to see what everyone else brought but there’s so much pressure to impress with your gift! It has to be funny and something that would appeal to everyone since anyone could end up with your gift! And when you’re talking about, say, an office Holiday party—there could very well be a large cross-section of the general population represented in that group and sometimes humor is just not a universal characteristic. With so much pressure it’s easy for your mind to go blank. But don’t give up! Let me help you with some ideas. Try one of these out and let me know how it goes!!

1. DIY is an obvious way to keep costs low but what if you kind of half-assed it? Give an incomplete DIY project. Knit half of a mitten, frame a ½ finished paint by number, or wrap up a bottle of Elmer’s glue, a bag of popsicle sticks, and some printed instructions on how to build a bird house.
2. Go big or go home, go way overboard in the DIY department! Take on a very simple project and make it a big friggin’ deal. Transform an ordinary photo frame into something covered in feathers, glitter, and crystals. Go further and include a photo of yourself.
3. If you’re like me and it pains you to give a useless gift, look to the internet to find a silly version of something useful. A few years ago, my best friend gave us a pair of wooden spoons that looked like drumsticks (my husband is a drummer). Another time, my sister in law gave me a set of measuring cups made to look like Russian nesting dolls. Here’s a link to the Fred and Friends website which is chock-full of silly versions of useful things. Including my favorite, the Pizza Boss 3000.
4. A big play on an inside joke. If you’re close with all of the people at your party (if it’s with a group of close friends or a class or office party), odds are pretty good that you all have an inside joke or two that would be funny to bring up. Maybe you can cross-stich a sampler with an oft-quoted phrase amongst your group.
When my older brother worked for a company in town, they held Christmas parties where the employees went all out for their White Elephant gifts. My brother took this very seriously and one year he created an entire new-hire manual that looked past all of the obvious how-to stuff about work and, instead, focused on the things that you learn after time at your new job. Things like, I don’t know, who is the one who always tries to leave early, catch phrases, and hilarious tricks for maneuvering the social landscape of the workplace.
5. The ultimate, classic White Elephant gift is an awesome thrift-store find. Something that is heinously tacky but so perfect that you can’t ignore it. And for this example, I will share the best gift anyone in my life has ever received. This gift was won by my sister at last year’s office party. I give you The Backstreet Boys Clock:

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BONUS IDEA: Have you ever thought of just giving a White Elephant? Here are a few to consider.

I hope this helps! Let me know what you think. Have you ever gotten or given a White Elephant gift that you’ve been really excited about??

XOXO, Lib

Page Nineteen: Homemade Dry Shampoo

This morning, without any context whatsoever, I asked my boyfriend, “Does my hair smell like chocolate?” He sniffed me, said “nope” and went on about his business.
This discourse makes me wonder what on earth it’s like to live with me if “does my hair smell like chocolate” doesn’t garner any further questions.

But I asked because this morning I decided to take my homemade dry-shampoo on a test run and, believe it or not, chocolate is a main and delicious component of this product.

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I’ve spent an entire day with my unwashed, dry-shampoo’d hair and the results are in. The results are that I don’t notice any difference whatsoever between what I’m wearing right now compared with what I have been using. And the ingredients, all together (which will probably make enough DP for one person to use over the course of an entire year), costs a lot less than anything you can buy in an aerosol can at the drugstore.

The only difference is that an aerosol can, can spray right into your roots without having to pay much attention. You have to apply this stuff with an old make-up brush but it’s perfectly easy.

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So what’s in it?
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 T. baking soda
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
And that’s it!! I sifted the ingredients together onto a piece of parchment and then scooped it into a small jar.

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It was so easy. It was so cheap. I sense zero difference… why would I ever buy this stuff again?

But, your head might not smell like chocolate. Which is a small disappointment.

Page Fifteen: Organize This!

I might be the only person who doesn’t know what to do with a four-day-weekend.

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Due to the fact that the Fourth of July was on a Thursday, most places in town decided to just give their employees and extended weekend. That included my place of business. I was so excited for it! But once we were done celebrating, I just had no idea what else to do with my time.

So I joined one of those community Buy Sell Trade groups on Facebook and listed a couple of pieces of furniture that did little for my home save provide a place for me to stack piles of things that I didn’t know what to do with.  Oy! And I am never doing that again. Don’t get me wrong, I think that for the right kind of person, this is an extremely effective way to get rid of your stuff. And I did get rid of most of the stuff that I listed. But not without heightened stress levels and annoyance to the nth degree! It was frustrating for me to be tethered to Facebook in order to answer peoples’ questions about my stuff and then being tethered to my home, waiting for the takers to stop by to pick up their new home goods (you know, when people actually did show up). It’s over, though! Like I said, I did get rid of a lot of stuff that I haven’t been using at all and certain parts of my home feel all light and airy rather than weighted down with excessive, unused furniture and mess.

So, the organization bug bit me and I decided to tackle a project that I’ve been meaning to get taken care of for nearly a year. I re-organized my coffee bar (I’m in the market for a new descriptor, since this is neither a bar, nor solely dedicated to coffee. Leave suggestions in the comments.).

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In this before photo you’ll see an honest look at what this spot looks like all of the time. I have America’s dinkiest kitchen with limited counter space (usually occupied by dirty dishes and a fruit bowl) and a single electrical outlet. So if I ever want to have toast (and I do), I need to find a new spot for the microwave, coffee maker, and espresso machine. Is it necessary to have both a coffee maker and an espresso machine? In short, of course it is.

What we have here is a lovely print fabric ruined by all manner of coffee stains, an unsightly Rubbermaid tub stuffed to overflowing with boxes of tea, a can of coffee, generic garbage, and a 2013 Nice Jewish Guys calander. Unseen: dust, gunk, grime.

IMG_3752I went to the fabric store and wandered around in the clearance isle before settling on this striped number. I like it because it’s got a Mexican vibe to it (which I’m very into these days) and it’s, I don’t know, maybe summery? Maybe it’ll freshen up the joint when wintertime comes around. We’ll see.

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The main thing that I did, here, was to incorporate this tiny little shelf that I bought before I even moved into this place (three years ago) but haven’t figured out what to do with it. I just could never get rid of it on account of the cuteness. I painted it blue a few months ago but that didn’t help me figure out it’s purpose. This is what it’s been waiting for. If I didn’t have plaster walls, I would have hung a shelf or two a long time ago. But not only are the walls plaster, they’re also rented. If they were my walls I wouldn’t mind experimenting with shelving but I really don’t want to turn a little whim into a deposit-eater.

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I also took all of my teas and put them into jars that I’ve been collecting specifically for this project. I spray painted (most of) the lids white so that it would have some cohesion and I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out.

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Coffee and Espresso have had their own jars for a while, now. I stuck some letters on there in order to help differentiate which is which–not that it would be difficult to figure out eventually but pre-coffee brain is so different than coffied brain.
Not pictured: I have a wide-mouthed jar in which I keep all of the espresso machine accouterments.

How do you spend an extra-long weekend? Any easy-peasy projects that you’ve been putting off for no reason at all? ALSO, what should I add to this situation? I’m hoping to hone my espresso skills but I’m never sure what I should have in my arsenal.