DIY: Eco-Friendly Handmade Gifts

DIY upcycled sweater stockings

Are your fingers feeling itchy to craft? Then get those digits to work!

To get your creative juices flowing, I’ve assembled my all-time most popular DIY tutorials for you to peruse through. Click on any of the photos below to read the full set of instructions on how to make these practical and design-savvy eco-friendly gifts for the holidays.

After all, nothing’s more festive and heartfelt than something that’s handmade with love!

dit printed eco gift wrap

diy orange spice face scrub face scrub

diy upcylced sweater leg warmers

homemade cheek and lip stain

embellished heart elbow patch sweater

diy sweater bracelets

Giving Thanks

Giving thanks on instagram

Fall is, hands down, my favorite time of year. The changing foliage, chillier temps, and pumpkin-laced – well, everything – makes it a time to indulge in all the little wonders of life. Autumn also offers the promise of Thanksgiving, the best holiday of them all! Gathering with loved ones to share and reflect on all the good things the year has offered makes it my favorite celebration.

To get my “attitude of gratitude” warmed up for the season I’ve decided to post a daily thanks to my Instagram each day of November. Whether it’s for specific people, things or circumstances, I’m thinking about all the blessings in my life, big and small, and sharing them with others through the site.

Consider joining me in this season of giving thanks – and start sharing something you’re grateful for every day on your own instagram account! Be sure to tag your posts #givingthanks so that we can all share in your thanksgiving reflections!

What We Save Saves Us

what we save saves us by rob jones

Maybe it’s thanks to my recent trip to Starved Rock National Park – but something about this beautiful art print by Rob Jones has my mind racing. Such a simple message, such an elegant design, and yet, there’s so much more that can be read between the lines and layers of the sketch.

Conservation, environmentalism, green living – all of these are ways we describe an ethic, a lifestyle, in which we aim to protect the natural world around us. We try to advocate for the planet, for creation, for all the beautiful things within it. We attempt altruism – but in the end – it’s not just saving for saving’s sake – it’s also about saving ourselves – isn’t it?

But then again, maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones that drew me to this image. The thought of bringing a babe into a world fraught with poisons, pilfering, pollution and social injustice is enough to make any parent’s head spin. And add to that the very tangible fear that the welfare of future generations is literally at stake – and boy! Do you have one worry-warted mama-to-be!

Maybe I’m drawn to this print  because I’m in the midst of reading Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded, a book that calls us to arms to change the current state of global politics and infrastructure to preserve the planet for future generations.

And yet, maybe it’s something else still. Maybe it’s the hopeful message that resounds in this piece that elevates my spirit. Maybe it’s the reminder that we’re all in this together – whether bi-pedal, bark-laden or microscopic. We’re all connected and the reminder of this brings me hope. Seeing the stacked layers of a tree’s lifespan fills me with a wonder and awe – and propels me to want to make a difference.

And what do you think? How does this art print speak to you? Do you find the message to be inspiring, discouraging or a mix of both?

Starved Rock Babymoon

Pierogi Picnic: Starved Rock Babymoon

Things have been really quiet on the Pierogi Picnic website as of late as we eagerly prepare for the arrival of our very first little bundle. Between battling all-day-sickness, doctors visits, and nesting, we’ve been quite the busy bees these last six months – which is exactly why it was high-time to get away and recharge. So this past weekend David and I embarked on a low-key babymoon.

Pierogi Picnic: Starved Rock BabymoonWhat’s a babymoon? It’s the latest trend in pregnancy, encouraging the parents-to-be to get away one final time as a twosome before the babe’s arrival. When planning our getaway we knew we wanted it to be as close to home as possible, while still allowing ourselves to be immersed in nature and the outdoors. And with it being October – camping was off the list – so the choice was easy: Starved Rock State Park.

Nestled between miles of farmland and the Illinois River, Starved Rock was the perfect place for us to get out for some fresh air while disconnecting from all the hub-bub of home. Less than a two hour drive from Chicago, this picturesque preserve was one of the nation’s first sanctioned national parks, adding a rich history to the already spectacular forests and cliffs of the region.

Pierogi Picnic: Starved Rock BabymoonWith the confetti like fall foliage, deep earthy smells, serene visage and winding trails, we were able to hike all our anxieties about the coming bebe away. Having the opportunity to slow down and reflect on this coming new chapter, all while surrounded by the gold and amber hues of the changing season, was the best possible way for us to celebrate and prepare for our little human.

So should you be in Chicago, and looking for a way to at once connect with nature and unwind, let me be the first to recommend Starved Rock and all its glory. You won’t be disappointed!

Pierogi Picnic: Starved Rock Babymoon

Vegetarianism & Variety

Beet & Goat Cheese Jewels

Beet & Goat Cheese Jewels

Vegetarianism is no longer the obscure lifestyle choice it used to be 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. With campaigns such as Meatless Monday and protein alternatives abounding in grocery stores, the choice to abstain from meat is one that’s much more mainstream than in years gone by.

Which is probably why I’m always caught off guard when confronted with the “oh – you’re vegetarian” face. “Don’t you get bored with only eating vegetables?” Is a commonly asked question. As is, “How do you get all the protein you need?”

Well I’m here to say, once and for all, that there’s no lack of variety or nutrition in a vegetarian diet!

Veggie BBQ Bowl

Veggie BBQ Bowl

David and I have been meat-free since we exchanged wedding vows in 2006. We made it a gradual shift, first choosing to only purchase ethically raised meats. Then we shifted to no meat at home – but eating it at restaurants. After three months of this gradual decline in consumption, we completely eliminated all meat from our diets. “We don’t eat anything that has a face” is the way I once explained it to my dad. And do we suffer, even a bit, since making that decision over 8 years ago? Not one bit! We couldn’t be happier, healthier, and more satisfied with the food choices we make each and every day.

Brussels Sprout & Avocado Rolls

Brussels Sprout & Avocado Rolls

Whether you have an octo, lacto, raw or vegan preference, are doing it for reasons of ethics, sustainability or faith, choosing to eat compassionately is not only good for you, it’s also good for the planet and all the creatures in it.

So for those of you who still grapple with  going vegetarian, thinking it will subject you to a life of bland palettes or nutritional deficits, cast those fears aside! There’s way more variety and health benefits out there than you can ever imagine! Give it a try for a day, a week, and then a month, and you’ll see that there’s nothing forlorn about living this compassionate lifestyle.

And should you need inspiration or a place to start, check out this Pinterest board which includes some of my all-time favorite veg-head recipes.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Is there a blog or website that you love from which you like to collect vegetarian recipes? If so – share the link in the comments!

Healthy Hippie Bowl

Healthy Hippie Bowl

 

DIY: Homemade Cheek & Lip Stain II

coral cheek and lip stain 2

One of my all-time most popular DIY tutorials is my homemade cheek and lip stain that I put together years ago after discovering the Cosmetics Safety Database. Looking up product after product within my cupboard I had discovered that many were laced with ingredients that were toxic to my health.

This led me to do a total purge of all my make-up, including my most prized product, Benetint. After searching store after store for a natural alternative, I decided to make one up myself using basic kitchen ingredients. And the result? Perfection! My DIY stain was toxin free, easy to make and created a picture perfect come-hither glow.

Fast forward and I’ve found myself once again drawn to Benefit products – this time a pretty coral stain. But rather than compromise three years of skin detox, I decided to give my original recipe a twist and create a pretty tinted concoction that I could use all summer long. The main ingredients? Beets and carrots.

step 10 done!

Saturated in pigment and easily pliable, both of these root veggies make a perfect base for a cheek and lip stain that will give you a rosy blush to go with your summer tan. Don’t believe me? Follow my directions below and you too can opt for a  homemade lip and cheek hue that will make you glow from the inside out.

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Inspiration: Live Simply

live simply by the painted arrow

As another Mother’s Day sneaks up on us with Memorial Day on its heals, summer, outdoor adventures, traveling, vacations and more soon after it, I find it’s a good time to stop and reflect. To try to minimize the static. To simplify. And to each individual that means something different.

To some it may be cutting back on the shopping, collecting and gathering (definitely my recent vice!). To others it may mean slowing down and enjoying life moment by moment. And yet to someone else it may mean taking a big step back and seeing the bigger picture. 

No matter where you’re at, and what you’re planning for the coming season, keep this thought in mind: Live Simply.