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 Beautiful!

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 Fall 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

Natural Beauty with Lavender

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My lavender is blooming and that signals the start of lavender season!!  I love this peaceful and tranquil herb because it is so easy to grow and also can be used to calm and clean both my body and my home.  It also signals the start of Summer !  Plan a visit to a local lavender farm or plant your own.   I like to think of myself as a “Lavender Farmer”  I don’t have a huge farm but the plants in my garden provide myself and my friends with a years supply of lavender.  I use my lavender in creating bath and body products, sachets for my home and in cooking.  Lavender is perfect for scones and added to coffee and lemonade.

How I “harvest” my lavender flowers is simple –I know a lot of people tie them up into cute bunches and hang them from racks and I love this idea but I don’t always have that kind of time.  Here is what I do:

I lay a cotton tablecloth on the grass next to my plants and cut off all of the flowers after they have bloomed but before they are totally dried out.   Cut just above the green leaves and you will even get a second crop in many parts of the country.

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I then let my lavender dry in the sun — if it is windy where you are you can also do this inside.  I then sort of “Pat down” the lavender stalks and collect all of the fragrant flowers that have fallen off.  You can also save the stalks they make lovely fragrant “fire starters” when bundled up.

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Once you have your dried lavender you can use all on their own or mixed together with other ingredients.  IMG_7863

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for you to try:

Lavender Body Mist 

When you are feeling stressed this is a light fragrance you can spray around you or even on your sheets before going to bed at night to help you sleep.

Ingredients: 

1 cup witch hazel

1 tablespoon lavender flowers

2-3 drops essential oil of lavender (optional)

Directions: 

Mix all of the ingredients together and let sit overnight.  Strain out the lavender flowers and pour the liquid into a clean spray bottle or container with a tight fitting lid. To use: Spray onto your skin or air around you.

Yield: 8 ounces

 

Relaxing Lavender Bath 

A lavender bath is not only relaxing it also has skin soothing and healing properties.  Lavender is a natural antiseptic which makes it an ideal bath for calming a bad rash, sunburn or insect bites.

Ingredients: 

1 cup dried lavender flowers

2 cups oatmeal

1 /2 cup baking soda

Directions: 

Place all the ingredients inside a food processor or blender.  Grind until you have a smooth, fine powder.  The powder should have the consistency of whole grain flour.  Pour into a clean airtight container or a resealable plastic bag.

To use: pour 1 /2 cup into your bath as you fill the tub.

Yield: 28 ounces

 

Lavender Mouth Rinse 

Lavender freshens your breath and cleans and disinfect your whole mouth.  This is a mild, almost tasteless mouth rinse that has an airy, floral fragrance.  You can also use this as a skin freshener.

Ingredients: 

1 Tablespoon lavender buds

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons rosewater

Directions: 

Place the lavender buds in a glass bowl and pour the boiling water over them.  Let the mixture steep until cool then strain.  Add the rosewater to the lavender water and pour into a clean container.  To use: Pour a small amount into a clean glass and rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth and gums.

Yield: 8 ounce

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For more recipes check out my book Natural Beauty at Home.

Have a beautiful day!

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

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

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

Pineapples and Pedicures

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Summer is over but that does not mean that you can ignore your feet.  In fact taking good care of  them with a weekly pedicure will enhance your overall health.  Wasn’t it President Abraham Lincoln who said “If my feet don’t feel good, I don’t feel good” such wish words in the history of the pedicure.

Pineapples are also a well known beauty secret when it comes to softening and cleansing your feet — especially after a summer of going barefoot .

Fresh pineapples are rich in the enzyme, bromelain.  This active ingredient cleanses and freshens the skin by removing dead skin cells and other surface impurities.   You can also use the tough outer rind as a skin scrubber on your heels and soles to get them super clean and soft.  If you don’t have access to fresh pineapple you can also used canned but may want to add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar as when the fresh juice is canned the heating process kills all of the active enzymes.

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Giving yourself a pedicure at home is super easy and you only need a few items:

Large bowl, sink or tub

scrubbing tools – pumice stone, loofah, pineapple rind

q-tips or orange wood sticks wrapped in cotton

natural oil or good foot cream

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Here are the steps I follow:

Ultimate Home Pedicure 

  1. Remove all old polish using a mild polish remover
  2. Fill a large bowl or basin with warm water and add some fresh acidic fruit such as pineapples or lemons and any other flower or herbs you have on hand.  (I just love to use fresh herbs and flowers in my beauty treatments).   Soak your feet for at least 10 minutes (15 is even better)
  3. Scrub rough skin spots with a natural pumice stone, loofah or bit of pineapple rind.  Keep soaking for another 5 minutes
  4. Apply a bit of natural oil to the base of your cuticles and gently push them back using a cotton swab or orange stick covered in cotton.  Be gentle.
  5. Clip your nails straight across to avoid ingrown nails.  Do this step after soaking as wet nails are easier to cut and you get a cleaner cut.
  6. Rinse your feet and massage a rich natural oil or foot cream into them.  Give yourself a bit of a foot massage too.

There you are healthy and happy feet!

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Have a beautiful day!

xoxo Janice

Here is a behind the scenes shot I had to include as my cat seems enchanted with the pineapple foot soak – it does smell amazing!

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