Janice Cox

Natural Beauty with Coconuts

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This year I was lucky to visit the island of Kauai where “Tropical Ingredients” are easy to find and use.  One morning, my husband and I went for a walk along the beach and we found a coconut that had just fallen to the ground.  He peeled the outer husk off (which was not easy) and then we drained out the coconut water and cracked the nut open.  There is nothing like a fresh coconut to start your day!  Coconut is one of my favorite beauty ingredients the oil which is made from the nut flesh can be enjoyed head to toe and the coconut water which I love to drink is also a toning tonic for your complexion.

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The nice thing is today you don’t have to travel to Hawaii to enjoy coconuts they can be found in almost all grocery stores and coconut oil has become a cooking oil staple.  Many people use coconut oil today in place of butter in cooking and baking.  When I first started using this exotic oil I used to have to purchase it in asian markets today it is easy to find even Costco stocks huge jars!

Coconut oil is a solid white oil at room temperature than melts easily and is wonderful massaged into your skin after bathing to lock in moisture.  Some women even use coconut oil in their hair as a simple conditioner.  Also many body butters, lip balms and sugar and salt scrubs are coconut oil based.

Here are a few of my favorite coconut inspired recipes for you to try at home:

Coconut Almond Lip Gloss

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon almond oil

1 /2 teaspoon grated beeswax

Mix together the oils and wax and melt gently in the microwave or stove top.  Pour into a clean container and let cool completely.  To use: rub into your lips and enjoy

Yield: 1/2 ounce

Coconut Body Oil 

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 /2 Tablespoon grated cocoa butter

2 Tablespoons castor oil

Mix together all ingredients and heat gently to melt, stir well.  Pour into a clean container and let cool completely.  To use: massage a small amount into warm skin after bathing.

Yield: 2 ounces

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Coconut Water Skin Tonic 

1 /4 cup fresh coconut water

2 Tablespoons witch hazel

Mix all coconut water and witch hazel and pour into a clean container.  To use: Apply to your skin using a clean cotton ball.

If you have a favorite way of using coconut, coconut water or coconut oil let me know and I will share!

ALOHA

Janice

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Upcycle your Citrus Peels

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Whenever I use an orange or lemon in the kitchen I never discard the peel – I save it to use in my favorite DIY Beauty recipes.  Citrus peels make highly effective facial and body scrubs.  All of the essential oils are contained in the peel.  Dried peels can also be purchased in the spice section of your grocery store but it is so much easier (and more cost effective) to just make your own!

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Here is how easy it is:

Remove the colored part of the peel; this can be done with a zester or sharp paring knife.  Dry the peels thoroughly; this can be done four different ways:

  1.  Lay the peels on a rack to air dry near a sunny window.
  2. Place the peels in a microwave safe ceramic bowl and microwave on low until dry (about 5 to 6 minutes) allow to cool completely.
  3. Arrange the peels on a cookie sheet and place in a low temperature oven (150 degree) for several hours or overnight (remember to turn the oven off when you are sleeping).
  4. Use an electric food dehydrator and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for drying citrus peels.

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Once dry you can coarsely grind in a food processor or clean coffee grinder until they’re the consistency of coffee bounds or fine cornmeal.  Place the group peels in a clean bowl.  Leave out to air-dry further if they are not completely dry after grinding.

Use the ground peels mixed in equal amounts with water, plain yogurt or your favorite cleansing product.  Other cleansing grains such as oatmeal and cornmeal can also be added to the orange peel for extra cleansing power.

You can also add the dried peels to sugar and salt scrubs and bath mixtures.  Here is a simple DIY recipe for Citrus Honey Bath Salts:

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Enjoy!

Janice

Heal, Balance, Restore – So Hum Meditation

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Om Shanti Shanti Shanti — Shanti means peace and that is how I feel right now after learning more about the power of Meditation.

Meditation is a state of “restful awareness”  through meditation we create our own reality and calm both our bodies and our minds.  A regular practice of prayer or meditation will improve your health.  By reducing stress you can improve your circulation, digestion, mood and improve your physical health.

I just took a short class at The Chopra Center at Lacosta in California and this is what I learned:

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So Hum Meditation

  • Sit comfortably where you will mot be disturbed, and close your eyes.
  • Take a slow deep breath through your nose while thinking the word, “So”
  • Exhaled slowly through your nose while thinking the, “Hum”
  • Continue breathing easily, silently repeating “So …. Hum” with each inflow and outflow of your breath.
  • Whenever your attention drifts to thoughts in your mind, sounds in your environment or sensations in your body, gently return to your breath, silently repeating, “So…Hum.”
  • Continue this process for twenty minutes with an attitude of effortlessness and simplicity.
  • When the time is up, sit with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes before resuming your daily activity.

I learned it takes a bit of practice and I actually think it is easier to do on your own than in a group environment.   I think for most of us quieting our minds and is hard but with practice and time you will find yourself letting go of thoughts and stress and finding peace.

Here are a few benefits that were listed in my class:

  •  Lowered blood pressure and hypertension
  • relief from stress, depression, and anxiety
  • Decreased cholesterol levels
  • Reduced production of “stress hormones” including cortisol and andrenaline
  • Increased gray matter in the hippocampus, a brain area important for memory and learning.
  • Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
  • Improved immune function
  • More restful sleep

I would take any one of these benefits!

Namaste

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xoxo Janice

Pumpkin Body Mask

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This has always been the time of year for fresh pumpkins and pumpkin products but it seems like we have all gone even more pumpkin crazy lately — pumpkin is not only for pies and jack-o-laterns anymore — Pumpkin is the new black !

I appreciate pumpkin as a beneficial beauty ingredient.  Pumpkin contains fruit acid enzymes that work like alpha hydroxy acid.  The real plus is that these enzymes remove dead skin cells with less irritation than commercial products.  The lovely orange pulp also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it naturally soothing.  this treatment is well suited for all skin types, especially sensitive one.

Fresh Pumpkin Body Mask 

Ingredients: 

3-4 cups fresh pumpkin flesh with seeds

In a food processor, process the  pumpkin flesh for 1-2 minutes until you have a smooth, grainy puree.  To use: Standing in the tub or on an old bath towel, massage the pumpkin mixture into your skin starting at your feet and working your way up.  this mask is mild enough to be used on your face.  Let the mask rest on your skin for 5 minutes.  Then rinse your skin in a warm bath or shower and pat dry.  You may keep any leftover mask in the refrigerator or frozen for future use.

Yield: 16 ounces

Happy October and I will share a few more of my favorite “pumpkin” DIY beauty recipes this month.  I would also love to hear any recipes that you use, leave me a comment and I will share.

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Happy Day,

Janice

Aloe Vera Beauty

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Aloe vera is a popular succulent plant that has been used in herbal medicine since ancient times to treat and soothe the skin.  It is often marketed as having rejuvenating and healing properties.  It is a popular addition to skin and hair care products because it is a lightweight, and non greasy.  It can also be used by all skin types without an allergic reaction and is even gluten-free.

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You can purchase small plants at most garden and home improvement centers and they make very nice indoor plants.  I bought one this summer at my local home depot and it grew super fast!  The simplest way to use aloe vera gel is straight from the plant.  Simply cut open a thick leaf and squeeze out some of the thick clear jelly onto your skin.  These plants grow from the inside out so pick the outer leaves closest to the soil.  It is especially soothing for small cuts, scratches and insect bites.

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The use of aloe vera gel as a skin beautifier can be traced back to ancient times.  According to numerous ancient writings, Cleopatra herself attributed her clear complexion to the use of aloe mixed together with a bit of olive oil.

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Simple Aloe Cleanser

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons aloe vera gel

1/4 cup light olive oil

2 Tablespoons rosewater (you can also use distilled water)

Mix together all ingredients and pour into a clean container.  To use: massage into your face and neck and rinse well with warm water.

Yield: 4 ounces

Aloe vera gel is soothing to your skin because of it’s high water content.  It also helps protect and soothe dry lips.

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Aloe vera Lip Gloss

Ingredients: 

1 teaspoon fresh aloe vera gel

1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

1/8 teaspoon vitamin E oil

mix together the aloe gel and oils, and stir well.  Pour into a clean container or small jar.  To use: Apply a small amount to your lips using a clean fingertip.

Yield: .5 ounce

Aloe vera gel is especially soothing to troubled or sunburned skin.  This is a soothing lotion you can easily make at home that also contains chamomile tea which is also soothing and has anti-inflammatory properties.

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Soothing Aloe Lotion 

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup aloe vera gel

1 Tablespoon chamomile tea leaves

1 Tablespoon vitamin E oil

2- 3 drops essential oil of peppermint (optional)

Mix together the aloe vera gel and the chamomile tea.  Heat gently, but do not boil for one minute in the microwave or on the stove top.  Let the mixture cool and strain off any solids.  Add the vitamin E oil and peppermint oil to the mixture and stir well.  Pour into a clean container.  To use: Massage into clean skin.

Yield: 4 ounces

Enjoy your day and if you don’t already have an aloe plant in your home or yard.   Now you can see what it is often called “The desert wonder”

xoxo Janice

Autumn Beauty

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Today it really is starting to feel like Fall!  After a hot and smoky summer (we had a lot of forest fires) the temperatures have cooled and the leaves are starting to change in color.  I find myself cutting back some of my summer flowers and wanting to buy pumpkins and gourds in the market and decorate with leaves and acorns.  There are also some awesome fall beauty ingredients available this time of year. Quince, apples, pears, nuts, figs, persimmons, pumpkins ….

With the weather changing and cooling it also means drier air which can affect your hair and skin.  Use more oil rich products to help lock in moisture.   You may also want to use a good allover body scrub to help even out a fading summer tan and get your skin super soft and clean.  Fall nuts are perfect for this simply finely chop or grind in your food processor or blender and massage into damp skin.  If you want a bit more scrubbing power apply with a loofah or mix in a bit of cornmeal.

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Keep you hair fully hydrated too and easier to manage .  My favorite simple hair conditioner is honey.  It does wonders for dry, damaged hair and washes out easily.  Simply massage a tablespoon or two into damp hair before washing and let sit for fifteen to twenty minutes, then shampoo as usual.  Honey does have a mild bleaching effect over time so if you have very dark hair, you can use molasses or maple syrup.

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Persimmons are one of my favorite fresh fall fruits.  They are common fall staples in the southeast but today you can find fresh persimmons this time of year in most markets.  Persimmons contain the same acid level as normal, healthy skin and make an ideal simple facial mask for deep cleansing all types of skin.

Simply mash the persimmon into a smooth consistency.  Spread the mixture over your clean face and neck.  Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or longer and then wash off with warm water.  If you have oily skin you may want to add a little cornstarch or egg white and if you have extra dry skin, mix in and egg yolk or some walnut oil.

Happy Fall Y’all!

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Oh it is also starting to be gift giving season — here is a cute packaging idea I like to do and so easy — simply fill a ball canning jar with epsom salts or your favorite bath salt and then top with some cute paper and a drawer pull  you have or buy at your local hardware stores. (screw the pull right through the lid top)

xoxo Janice

Baking Soda Beauty

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Look inside your kitchen cupboard and chances are you will find a box of baking soda.   Baking soda as we know it comes from the mineral “Natron” which contains sodium bicarbonate, i.e. baking soda. It has been a part of our everyday lives since ancient times as the Egyptians used it as a simple cleanser and soap. Today it is a household staple with hundreds of uses from cooking to home remedies. There are few commercial products that can compare to baking soda effectiveness and versatility. It is also a simple and effective beauty aide that can be used head to toe to keep your skin and hair looking and feeling it’s best.   It is a mildly abrasive which makes it a gentle cleanser for your skin, hair and teeth. Baking soda neutralizes acid keeping your bodies natural pH level in check. It is also a powerful deodorizer, which you will see featured in many commercial products from foot powders to deodorants. Here a few simple and easy ways to use this natural beauty ingredient:

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Baking Soda Hair Rinse

This simple rinse will get your hair squeaky clean and remove any hair spray or styling gel residue from your hair. If you color your hair many professionals recommend a baking soda rinse, so your hair is super clean and will absorb the color more effectively.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon baking soda

1 cup distilled water

Mix together the baking soda and water and stir well. After shampooing and as a final rinse pour the solution over your hair and massage into your scalp. Let sit for one minute then rinse out with warm water followed by a cool water rinse.

Yield: 8 ounces, one treatment

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Baking Soda Tooth Powders

Tooth powders may sound a bit old fashioned but they are popular today because they are not as abrasive as many commercial toothpastes and do not contain any additives such as sudsing agents (hard soaps and detergents), binders, and artificial flavorings. They are also very inexpensive to make. Try to brush your teeth for at least two full minutes – place an egg timer next to your bathroom sink to keep track of the time.

Classic: Baking soda is the classic basic tooth powder because it is a mild abrasive in cleaning the teeth and gums. Dip a damp toothbrush in a dish of baking soda and massage your teeth and gums.

Baking soda and salt: Mix together equal amounts of baking soda and sea salt to create a gentle cleansing tooth powder. Salt alone can be too abrasive, especially for sensitive teeth and gums but a powerful antibacterial ingredient.

Sage: Sage is a natural tooth whitener. Mixed with baking soda and salt, this powder will keep your whole mouth fresh and clean. Mix together a teaspoon each of dried sage leaves, table salt, and baking soda.

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Super Soothing Soak

This is the perfect bath after a day of strenuous physical activity or when you just need to relax. You can feel your whole body releasing tension and your muscles softening as you soak. This bath can be drying to your skin so make sure to moisturize afterwards with a rich body lotion or natural oil.

Ingredients:

1 cup baking soda

1 /4 cup sea salt

1 /2 cup Epsom salts

Mix all the ingredients together. Fill your bathtub with warm water. Pour the mixture into the bath slowly, allowing the mixture to dissolve completely. Step into the bath and soak for at least 20 minutes but no more than 40 minutes.

Yield: 12 ounces

Dry Shampoo: Sprinkle some baking soda onto your scalp, massage in and comb out as a simple dry shampoo. This is effective when you can’t shampoo to freshen your hair.

Combs and Brushes: Keep your combs and brushes super clean by soaking them in a solution of hot water and 1 /4 cup baking soda once a month.

Facial Scrub: An effective and gentle facial scrub can be made using baking soda. Simply mix a teaspoon or two in the palm of your hand with water to create a paste and massage into damp skin. Rinse well with warm then cool water.

Sunburn Soother: Soak in a warm bath with a generous amount of baking soda (1 to 2 cups) added. Baking soda can’t reverse the effects of the burn but it can take some of the heat and discomfort out of it.

Deodorant: Baking soda can be sprinkled or patted on as a simple deodorant. It contains no other chemicals so is comfortable to use even right after shaving under your arms.

Powder: Make your own body powder by mixing together equal parts cornstarch and baking soda. You can also sprinkle this mixture inside your shoes to keep your feet cool and dry.

Nail Care: Clean your nails with a bit of baking soda on a small nail brush. This is especially helpful after working in the garden or other messy jobs.

Rough Skin: For classic rough skin spots such as elbows, knees and heels massage a paste of baking soda and lemon juice into your skin then rinse off.

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Ok I need to stop haha but as you can see I love using baking soda and it is one of my “must have” at home ingredients.  For more ways to use check out the Arm and Hammer website.

Enjoy!

xoxo Janice

Natural Soap Alternatives

 

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Many of us grew up using “soap and water” to cleanse our face and body and this works for many of us — it is simple and easy!  However if your skin is taught and dry or super sensitive you may be using too strong a soap or cleanser for your skin type.   There are several natural ingredients that can be used in place of the traditional bar of soap to get your skin clean and glowing and with beautiful results.  Here are a few of my favorites:

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Oatmeal:  This common breakfast grain is probably the most popular non-soap cleanser around.  It is gentle and mild and can be used by all skin type, especially those with dry and sensitive skin.  To use, simply grind whole oats in a food processor, blender or clean coffee grinder until you have  fine powder.  Mix this with a little water to form a paste and massage this mixture into your skin with a warm washcloth.  You may also add 1/2 cup of ground oatmeal to a warm bath to treat and cleanse your whole body.

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Sugar:  Granulated sugar works well as a gentle skin cleanser and scrub.  It is not at all dehydrating and is perfect for dry skin types  Mix one teaspoon with a bit of water to forma paste and massage into wet skin with a warm washcloth or your fingertips.  Sugar is gentle enough for your face and whole body.

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Honey: Use as a skin beautifier since Egyptian times, honey is an excellent skin cleanser. It can be used alone or mixed together with a bit of lemon juice for oily skin types.  Simply massage into wet skin as you would any liquid soap or cleanser and fine well.

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Milk:  For clean healthy skin, milk is an instant beautifier both inside and out.  It is rich in protein, natural fat, and lactic acid, all of which help clean and detoxify your complexion, leaving it soft and smooth.  Make sure you rinse your skin well after cleansing.  Other dairy products such as sour cream and plain yogurt also work well as natural cleansers.

Many of us wash and shower in the morning to wake up, which is a great day to start the day.  But your mother was right,  “Never go to bed with a dirty face”.  Bedtime and nighttime is the best time to cleanse your skin as it gives it a chance to rest and rebuild while you sleep.  Always follow up any cleansing regime with a light moisturizer or natural oil to help lock in moisture and keep your skin fresh and glowing.

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For more cleanser recipes and ideas check out my book Natural Beauty at Home

You are beautiful!

Janice

But first, Coffee…..

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Hello!  I don’t know about you but I really can’t get going in the morning without my cup of coffee – in face my husband knows that he really cannot discuss anything substantial with me until after at least my second cup.

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I also love to use coffee in DIY beauty recipes.  Coffee and caffeine are popular ingredients in skin lotions, creams, masks and body scrubs.  When applied to the skin, coffee is useful as a cleanser and an antioxidant and diuretic.  A popular use of ground coffee beans is as a body scrub to reduce cellulite.  The caffeine in the coffee dehydrates fat cells by energizing the, which in turn affects the sodium potassium balance in the cells in a way that allows the cells to eliminate a buildup of excess wastes.  That is a long explanation for sure — bottom line: You cup of Joe could slim your thighs and energize your complexion!

Here are two of my favorite DIY coffee recipes for you to try  — Enjoy!

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Coffee Body Scrub

This scrub is a great way to boost your circulation and exfoliate your whole body.   The massage action is what does the trick so make sure you a good, brisk circular motion and really energize your skin and body.

Ingredients:

1 cup freshly ground coffee

1 /2 cup brown sugar

1 /2 cup sea salt

1 /2 cup almond oil

Mix all the ingredients together and stir until well iced.  Spoon into a clean jar with a tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dry spot.  To use: Massage into clean skin in a circular motion standing in the tub or shower.  Use strong, flowing strokes for at least 5 minutes to boost circulation.  Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.

Yield: 16 ounces

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Mocha Facial Mask

This mask contains two of my favorite ingredients coffee and chocolate.  The milk and coffee contain naturally occurring acids that help condition, soothe and perk up your complexion.

Ingredients:

1 /4 cup finely ground coffee

1 /4 cup cocoa powder

1 /2 cup whole milk

Stir all of the ingredients together until smooth.  To use:  after cleansing sprad the entire mixture over your face and neck, avoiding the delicate areas around your eyes and mouth.  Leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse well with warm water and apt your skin dry.

Yield 4 ounces

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Have a beautiful day and Let’s do coffee soon!

Janice

Create your own Wellness Retreat

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This summer my daughters and I took a mini vacation.   We liked the idea of booking a wellness retreat for a long weekend.  However, we could never find the perfect spot, time or schedule that worked for all of us.  So we decided to do our own!  It was actually pretty simple and we all really got into the spirit –even calling our kitchen “The spa cafe”  and organizing yoga classes by the pool.  We knew we were on to something when one of my friends commented on my instagram photo “What resort are you at?  I want to go there.”

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I studied the schedules and wellness offerings at some of the local resorts for inspiration.  We had a weekend and three busy schedules to work around but once we started planning and all agreed on a date it was actually very easy.  I found an amazing house to rent on AirBnB but you could also do this in your own home (just don’t tell anyone you are home).

It is also important to have a talk with your friends and family before your retreat and get an idea of everyone’s goals — both of my daughters really wanted to unplug and eat healthy.   I wanted to catch up on some reading and also kick start some healthy exercise.   This was our schedule, once we were all together things did get changed around a bit and that was OK — all part of unplugging and going with the flow.

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Friday Evening 

Arrival and VIP Greeting with Mocktails and light snacks

After a busy week, we all just need to get comfy, talk and unwind

Saturday 

Healthy Breakfast at “The Spa Cafe”

We found that focusing on making super healthy and pretty food was very satisfying for both our bodies and mind.

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Morning exercise and Relaxation — Everyone wanted to read and stretch after a busy week.  We also found time for some DIY beauty.  This clay mask is so simple to create using powdered clay and some almond milk or spring water mixed in to form a smooth paste.  Of course fresh cucumber slices over your eye are a spa must.

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Lunch

Afternoon Yoga session – my daughter is a pro and was the leader for all of us.  You could also bring a book or watch a DVD for some new moves and positions.

Pool time

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We made sure we drank tons of “spa water” — simply add fresh fruit, veggies and herbs to ice cold spring water so refreshing.

Sunset Celebration and Dinner

Evening Gratitude Session and herbal tea — this was my favorite part of the retreat,  as we all came together at the end of the day and really talked and connected.

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Sunday

Breakfast at “The Spa Cafe”

Creative exercise — Doing something creative is very relaxing for your mind.  We made floral collages and it was fun to watch them change through out the day as the wind and sun rearranged and dried them out a bit.

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Morning urban hike

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Lunch

Afternoon relaxation and pool time – we let my husband crash this part of the retreat and he really got into doing cannon balls haha

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Sunset Celebration and Dinner

Evening Gratitude and Goodbyes

I hope this inspires you to plan your own retreat for a day, weekend or a week — It is so relaxing and a great way to re-connect, recharge and refresh (I know that is a lot of “R” words)It was such a wonderful and special time and just writing this I am refreshed all over again and wanting to plan our next DIY wellness retreat.

Namaste

xoxxo Janice