Rub-A-Scrub Scrub (coffee scrub)

Summer time is coming (finally) and I need to get my skin summer ready. I just made this coffee scrub in 5 minutes. This normally will cost $20-$25 in stores and I made it for pennies.

Project difficulty: 1

Ingredients: Coconut oil, Vitamin E oil, granulated sugar and coffee grind.

  1. Find an empty jar. I used an old candle jar. See how to clean out used candle jars here.
  2. Combine equal parts of coffee grinds and granulated sugar.
  3. Scoop 1/2 the amount of coconut oil as the dry ingredients in the jar (make sure the coconut oil is not hot and runny but soft and pliable).
  4. Add one tablespoon of Vitamin E oil. If you are making a small batch, use less.
  5. Use a fork or spoon to combine the ingredients together. 
  6. Try it to see if you like the texture. You can adjust the texture by adding more dry ingredients if it is too liquidy or add more coconut oil if it feels too rough. 

And you are done! Put it in your shower and use as needed. Happy scrubbing!

What do you do to get summer ready? Share your ritual.

Tell me your success story please!

I am hoping you can share your story with me and give me the ‘Ah-ha’ moment I need to figure out what my next steps should be. I’m a 30 something woman who works in the marketing department in the print industry. The industry is shrinking drastically with all the free contents online. And quite frankly, I do not want to sink with the ship.

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I want to help people!

j0321063When I ask myself what I want to do, I do not have an answer. All I know is I want to help people. Any shape or form. Doesn’t have to be helping people directly like a doctor or teacher. I just want to make a difference somehow (and I already volunteer regularly at Meals on Wheels).

What’s my passion?

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If I do not end up with a job that helps people, I am thinking at least I should do something that I am passionate about. So what am I passionate about? I don’t know either. Yeah, I’m not a lot of help to myself. I have this conversation with myself and others regularly and nothing comes out of it.

If you build it, they might not come

j0289379I love success stories and always wish I can be one of them. I read $100 Start up and all the success stories reminded me of what I learned in marketing class. It is better to sell something that is in demand than producing a product and then try to sell it. It is especially true when I am the worse sales person on the planet. I don’t even know how to bargain! So what kind of success story can I make for myself?

How did you figure it all out?

AA002733So what do you do for a living and how did you figure out that is what you wanted to do? What steps did you take to figure that out? What questions did you ask yourself? What is your personal success story? Let me know.

Thank you everyone. Looking forward to read your stories.

All you need to know when travelling to St. Maarten

I am writing this as I am on the plane travelling back from SXM to YYZ.  I had a wonderful time at SXM and was glad my friend’s a regular there. She knew where to go and what to do. Not that it is hard to figure out, but it is always nice to not have to worry or do in depth research.

We booked a flight with Air Canada Rouge. Rouge does not have personal in flight entertainment. They will ask  you to rent an iPad from them for $10. So be prepared. You can download their app ahead of time and use on your personal device.

We rented a car from Dollar Rent a Car. I highly recommend renting a car if you are staying on the island for more than a couple of days. It makes getting around very easy and you do not have to rely on taxi service.  We took a small vechical and was quite happy we did.  It made parking and maneuvering the streets of St. Maarten very easy. There are no traffic lights in St. Maarten, just round abouts. It is very easy to get around town because there are only a few main streets. It is very hard to get lost.  Motocycles will vear in and out of traffic but we felt very safe driving in St. Maarten. No international license needed.

We booked our hotel on the Dutch side of the island. Festiva Atrium Hotel and Spa is located in Simpson Bay area. It is super convenient. The beach was right at the back of the hotel with a bar, pool area and a restaurant. Show the bar your room key and you can get two for one drinks during the weekdays. They also provide beach towels daily. Wifi is available but not on all floors. Lobby is your best bet. The rooms are big and we got the oceanview. But La Bamba bar is right around the corner. The music can be heard in our room. So if you are not a party animal, you might want to ask for a different room. The hotel is walking distance to restaurants, bars, grocery stores and liqure stores. One drawback of the hotel…the toilet. It isn’t the cleanest. I don’t know how to explain it but there were things floating around even after you flush.

The club scene in St. Maarten is pretty much set. However, I didn’t club so the only two nights I know of is Tuesdays at La Bamba and Fridays at Soggy Dollar. Everyone from the island will show up to these clubs on those nights. Just ask around and the locals will let you know where to go.

The reason why we chose the Dutch side of the island was because the Dutch side is more lively. Maho is where you want to be. But Simpson Bay is only a 10 minute drive to Maho. The only draw back is the bridge. The bridge goes up for the boats to cross every hour. So if you stay in Simpson Bay and try to cross to Maho, beware of the bridge, it takes about 10 minutes for all the boats to cross. Maho is where the airport is and where the famous Sunset Bar resides. Right next to the bar, there is a beach where everyone gathers and watch the planes come in and take off. What is so famous about that beach?  The planes’ back face the beach and when they take off, the wind from the engines are so powerful that they literally blow the on lookers into the water! Watching the planes land is also a sight. The planes decend soooo low that you can particularly touch the plane.

The beaches there are amazing. The beige sand, the clear blue water and the moutains as a back drop…breath taking. There are a few places to enjoy the beach: Simpson Bay, Mullet, Maho, Orient, Philipsburg. Out of all those I liked Philipsburg the best (15 -20 minutes drive from Simpson Bay). The water is calm, no seaweeds and no sudden drop offs. Philipsburg is where all the cruise ships dock. And there are restaurants and vendors all around. Make sure you bargain with the locals. Don’t ever pay full price unless it is in an actual store. Even getting beach chairs and umbrellas they will try to get a few dollars more out of the tourists.

We also ventured out to Marigot, the French side of the island. We drove around the area and found the French side a lot different from the Dutch. Although we did visit the tourist area which is very much like the dutch side, the drive felt like we were amonst the locals. We got to see the streets of where the locals live and it was very different from where we were staying. The houses are old and run down. Not a place where you would want to live in if the same conditions applied in North America. As two female tourists, it was not a place where we wanted to stay.  We took their new bridge that cuts across to from Maho to Marigot but we learn that it is not the best way. Traffic jam all the time! The best way to get across is to drive the coast. You get the most beautiful view and no traffic.

Unfortunately we did not visit Orient Bay. My friend tells me at Orient, there are a lot more activities available besides the normal snorkling, skidoo and scuba diving. Perhaps next time I will check it out.

As for restaurants, the best place we ate at was Charter House. It is a steak house and they cooked our steaks to exactly what we asked for…which is really rare even in North America. One thing I noticed about St. Maarten is when you ask for red wine…it comes chilled. Unless it is Sangria, that is not how I want to drink my reds.

Best drink I had in St. Maarten? BBC -Banana, Bailey’s and coconut water. We drank those everyday. We plan to make them when we return home.

Wifi is everywhere on the island. All you have to do is ask for their passcode. We were able to use the wifi even on the beach. Makes Instagram-ing much easier. 😁

That is all I can offer you about St. Maarten. You just have to go and experience the island for yourself. Next time we go, we will definitely visit the neighbouring islands. They are only a 20 minute plane ride. Hope you will visit St. Maarten soon. If you have been to St. Maarten already, let me know if you share similar experiences or if you have more tips for us!

Displaying seashells from vacations

I just came back from St. Maarten last night. While in the water, we collected some shells. I came home and was not sure what to do with all the shells.

I found a small glass jar so I bottled up the tiny shells.

There aren’t many in the bottle now but I do plan to collect more in my future travels. I can then add to my collection.

I then surround the jar with the larger seashells and put then in my existing display box. While searching for shells, I also found a broken piece of a large shell. Wish I have the whole thing. 

If you know what it is, please let me know. I then put the broken piece on top of the display box. Who says you need to put everything inside the box?!

I am sure the broken shell will be a conversation piece. And since the display is by the front door, if guests miss it coming in, they sure will see it while leaving.  There you have it, this only took a couple of minutes to do. And now I have a display of my new seashell collection.

What did you do with your seashells?

Design inspiration from Chile

I was recently invited to visit Chile and of course I jumped at the chance. I had no clue what South American had installed for me. Upon arriving I was taken to this local market in Santiago. Local artisans selling their crafts in tiny store fronts.  The breeze and shades made the hot summer weather in Santiago very enjoyable. We were invited to a relative’s house and I got to see how South Americans decorate their homes. I admired their outdoor living space. Luscious greens at every corner. The cross breeze from the open windows and doors was refreshing. There were no flies, mosquitos or bugs. This was heaven! The white kitchen was definitely my favourite. The grey and white checkered tiles were carried outdoors to the patio, the pots and pans on display and the fruits…oh the fruits. Those would have all disappeared if I lived there.  Everywhere I turn, I see wood panels.  The wood panels were painted white or left in its own natural state.

We went to Vina Del Mar and Valpariso for the day. I capture this beautiful view of Valpariso. And look at these beach condos in Vina Del Mar. In between each condo, they had vehiculars elevators to take you up to your level. There also were stairs but thought the vertical elevators were more fun. These amazing beach condos faced the ocean, I wish I can wake up every morning to this view. We flew down south to see some volcanos and stayed at another relative’s home. He had an array of antiques. This fireplace kept us warm at night. The south was a lot cooler than Santiago as it is closer to the South Pole. I left Chile and realized I am in love with natural wood in my decor. Natural wood floors, tables and cabinets are things Chile and I currently have in common in my home. Where have you travelled to and was inspire with their decor?

Scratch map decor

I love to travel to different places. There are places I return to year after year. Like on Tuesday, I will be returning to St. Maarten! Cannot wait!

I know I really should travel to new places to experience different cultures. But how do I turn down the caribbean sun? This is when I bought a scratch map! By looking at the map, I realize how many countries I have not been to.

Where do you want to go next?

DIY Yarn ball pendant light 

A while back I saw a yarn ball pendant light and thought it was really neat. Then our TV team did a DIY version of it so of course I tried it out.  Worked like a charm!

Project difficulty: 5

The best thing is you can customize the colour! After watching the video I bought the yarn,  fabric stiffener and a beach ball. And that’s all you need. Just follow the video and it will work out perfectly.

Don’t try all the Pinterest alternatives like using Modge Podge or starch paste. They do not work! I tried them and this is how they turned out.

Not very strudy. Spend the extra buck and buy the fabric stiffener. You won’t regret it.

Easy DIY customized photo canvas

This project is quick and easy. The hardest part is to figure out which picture you want to use.

Project difficulty: 2

For this project, you will need:

  • Photo
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Black poster paint
  • Paint brush
  • Blank canvas (I got 8″X10″ and 9″X12″)
  1.  Print out photos either at home or at photo developer. I got mine at Walmart. I printed 8″X10″, 5″X7″ and 4″X5 3/4″. It all depends on if you want a boarder or not.
  2. I learned each canvas was slightly different size.  So I placed the photo on top of the canvas and trimmed off the excess. 
  3. Paint the whole canvas black. Make sure to paint the sides of the canvas and let the paint dry.
  4. Once the paint is dry, dilute the glue with a little water. Then paint the back if the picture with the glue solution. Place it on the canvas, then paint the whole picture with the solution. 
  5. Let the glue solution dry and you are done.

Spring Cleaning Part II. Organize: Documents, nicknacks & stationary

Now that you have purged and cleaned up your wardrobe, it is time to organize your mail. Surprisingly, in this day and age where technology is taking over every part of our lives, we are still receiving physical mail.

Documents & Letters

Sort them into different piles – bills, taxes, personal, shred pile (whatever categories suits your need). 

  photo copy

Once you put them in the piles and decide which ones you need to keep, put them in different boxes. No decorative boxes on hand? Use empty shoe boxes, cereal boxes or even magazine holders. Don’t put them all in one box. You’ll just have to sort them again later or dig through the other ones to find what you need. Putting them in different boxes will make it a lot easier to store. And with proper labeling, gives you easier access if you also sort the mail by date.

  Box

Even if you already have them in boxes, it is a good idea to go through them again. Unless you are very organized, you most likely didn’t throw out old bills and documents during the year.

If you do not own a shredder, remove your name, address & account numbers and tear it up. I usually dump it in two different garbages. This is to prevent identity theft. But think about investing in a shredder.

Nicknacks

Beside files, we put a lot of nicknacks and stationary on our office desk. I want to say most of the nicknacks are my husbands. He is a hoarder but I think I am slowly getting to him. How? By asking questions again.

  1. Do you even remember owning this?
  2. On a scale of 1- 10, what kind of sentimental value does it have? If it is below a 6, it is gone.
  3. If it is a 6 or above, ask where are you going to put it? If the answer is ‘I don’t know’, figure out a place to keep it or it goes to storage. But by the next purge, if you still do not know where to put the piece, consider letting it go.

Pens and other stationary

We all have a collection of pens that we collect from gifts, trade shows, hotels etc. And we often just put them in a jar and forget about them…until the day when you need a pen and 5 out of 10 of them do not work. But you still put them back into the jar! Sound familiar? I don’t do that myself (ok…maybe a few times) but my husband does. photo So, take the time to go through each pen/highlighters/Sharpies and toss out the ones that do not work. Make room for a new batch of pens!

More to come. Stay tuned… How do you start your spring cleaning? Share your tips and tricks.

Spring Cleaning Part I – Purging your closet

Tips & Tricks on what to keep, give away and donate from your closet.

It is spring cleaning time already. Feels like yesterday we just did the last one. It is a daunting task but it must be done. I love how ‘light’ the home feels when it is all complete. The purging, organizing and cleaning is satisfying. But before that, things will get a little messy. Yes, even messier than it already is.  You have to ignore the extra mess and look toward the finish line, it is worth it.

Clothes & Accessories

I usually start off with the closet. I go through all of my clothes and see what I want to keep and what I know for sure I won’t wear. It’s not easy to decide what I should get rid of. Here are a few tricks I learned. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. When was the last time I wore this? If it is more than a year ago, perhaps it needs to go.
  2. Does it fit me still? If the answer is no, then do not hang on to it. You might lose that few pounds in a few months, but if you do not, it is just a reminder that you didn’t. Let’s treat yourself when you do lose those few pounds by buying a replacement outfit.
  3. Is it still in style? If it isn’t, the chances of you wearing it is quite slim. Put it in the donation pile.
  4. If you are still not sure, then use the backwards hanger method. Hang the piece with the hanger backwards. If you wear it before the next purge, you will hang it the right way. If the hanger is still backwards in the next few months, it is time to donate the piece.

Put all the clothes for Salvation Army donation in a pile. I like to put it in a room that is used often…just in case you decide to stop the cleaning and leave the pile in the corner for another few weeks. By having the pile in a high traffic area, you will be more likely to take it to donate in the next few days as it will be an eye sore.

You don’t have to donate everything. Just make four piles: Donation pile, Friends & Family pile, Selling (online / consignment) and ‘This cannot be saved’ pile. The ‘This cannot be saved pile’ can be anything from clothes with holes to intimates. Not even donations will take your clean undies.

Once the clothes are complete, I continue with shoes, purses and accessories. Use the same method as above. Ask youself when you last wore it and if it is in style.  

More to come. Stay tuned…

How do you start your spring cleaning? Share your tips and tricks.