Happiness is Homemade


To say I am obsessed with cold brew coffee is an understatement.  When I learned about this tasty beverage a few months ago, I was making daily trips to Starbucks.  I did not care that I was spending about $35 a week on my addiction.  And then… the idea of making my own came to me when I was strolling through the Gilbert Farmer’s Market yesterday.  I bought a cup of homemade brew and thought “I need to make my own, too!”.  I am currently sipping on my first cup out of my own stash and I have to say, it is amazing.  AND, I poured it in the comfort of my own home within minutes of stumbling out of bed.  Not having to get in my car, drive to Starbucks, and shout out my order to a way too perky teenager on Sunday morning is priceless.

Fun Facts about Cold Brew

  • It is approximately 67% less acidic than hot-brewed coffee.
  • Cold-brewing leaves behind some bitter-tasting components found in coffee.
  • The high levels of heat in hot-brewing coffee are suspected of damaging positive properties of the coffee bean.
  • Environmental benefits of cold-brewing include less energy consumption since you aren’t using a coffee machine!

*Visit Coffee Brew Guides for more information about the cold brew process

So, here is what you need:

  • ground coffee – I am using Kona coffee (also a new obsession).  You can use any kind you want or grind your own.
  • a storage container – I found a french press at Ross for $4.99.  If you don’t have one, you could use a mason jar, pitcher, etc.
  • mesh strainer (if you are not using a french press) – you will need it to filter out the grounds, come pouring time.
  • Spoon (or anything you can use to stir with)
  • OPTIONAL – your choice of spices.  For this batch, I used 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.


Cold Brew Small Batch Process:

  1. I used a 1:4 ratio for my batch – 1 cup coffee, 4 cups water.  I dumped the coffee in the french press first and then added the 4 cups of water.
  2. If you’re using spices, add them next.  I dumped them right on top of the mixture.
  3. Stir it up!
  4. If you’re using the french press, put your top on but DON’T push it down.  If you’re using any other type of container, you’re done for now.
  5. Place in your refrigerator for at least 12 hours (I let mine sit overnight).
  6. When you’re ready for your coffee – push your strainer all the way down on your french press and pour your cold brew over ice OR place your mesh strainer over your glass of ice and pour your cold brew.
  7. ENJOY!

New Year and a Natural You – DIY Shampoo

diy coco shampoo

New year, new goals, new projects!  Let me first start out by saying I have totally slacked on my blog… but that happens when your 9-5 becomes a 6 – 8 and all you want to do when you get home is eat and sleep.  But, that is going to change in 2016… I WILL make time to be crafty and I WILL be sharing my creativity with the world🙂

So, my first order of business for the new year (like many) was to get back on the healthy lifestyle track.  After all, I have to fit in the wedding dress of my dreams in 308 days!  Along with my eating habits, exercise plan, and vitamin routine, I decided to add in a few more changes to the mix.  For the month of January, my goal is to get rid of at least 3 chemically-filled products that I use daily in my bathroom and replace them with my own, all-natural concoctions.  The first one to go is….. my shampoo!  Seems weird, but for me, it’s totally logical and I’ll tell you why.  Growing up, I had the thickest hair imaginable.  Over the last few years, I have noticed not only how thin it has gotten, but that I also have to part my hair different just to hide how thin it is around my crown!  I have tried expensive salon shampoos that guarantee thicker hair.. I take Biotin.. I’ve done crazy Pinterest deep conditioning wraps on my head.  But I want more… and I want to know it’s something I can trust and be comfortable with.  And let’s be honest, none of us know what half of the crap in our shampoo bottles is!


Ingredients list in shampoo from store

**essential oils plug now joining the conversation**

Another goal I have for this year is to indulge in as many of my essential oils as possible.  I will admit, I am a collector of things.  So, my oil cabinet is stocked with over 50 different oils (and that number is always rising), but I tend to favor certain ones.  I did some research for my shampoo recipe and found out I have a ton of oils that help promote hair growth by helping to improve blood circulation in the scalp and stimulating the hair follicles*.

Knowing this, I went to Pinterest to find some different DIY ideas and I came up with a combination that seems to be working so far.  Oh, and did you know how beneficial coconut milk is for your hair?!  Not only does it help replenish the moisture, but it also nourishes and helps stimulate growth!  AND, how about almond oil.  It is rich in calcium, zinc, and magnesium – all important minerals for healthy hair.

It wasn’t hard saying goodbye to the Herbal Essences after I made my new, all-natural shampoo!  Here’s what you will need:


  • a container to keep the shampoo in.  I just reused an old bottle I already had.  **quick tip – if you want to get label residue off of old shampoo bottles, put a couple of drops of grapeseed oil and a couple of drops of lemon on a cotton ball and scrub away!**
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk ( I got mine at Sprouts, but you can get it anywhere).
  • 2/3 cup of unscented pure-castile soap
  • 2 tsp. vegetable glycerin
  • 1 tsp. of almond oil
  • 15 – 20 drops of essential oils (your choice, your combo.. I’ll list what I used below).

Are you ready for how easy this is?  Add the coconut milk, castile soap, vegetable glycerin, and almond oil to your container.  Mix it up (or gently shake).

Add your essential oils.  I used 4 drops Rosemary, 4 drops Clary Sage, 4 drops Lavender, 4 drops Cedarwood, 2 drops Sacred Frankincense, and 2 drops Eucalyptus.  Shake/stir some more.

Now you have your own, all-natural shampoo.  And guess what, I bet you can pronounce everything in it🙂img1452379601395.jpg*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

Holiday Stress Away

Over 2 weeks since I’ve posted… why?!  Work!  And with all of these hours, I decided I need to share my secrets of avoiding stress.. especially during the holiday season!  Some of us (including myself) can’t make weekly trips to the spa… but bringing the spa into your home can be affordable!

I’m going to give you 3 different ways to spoil yourself, using one of my favorite oil blends from Young Living and household items you probably have in your kitchen and/or bathroom right now!  But first, let’s talk about Stress Away.


Stress Away Q&A

What oils make up the Stress Away blend? 

Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea, and Lavender.

How can this blend be used? 

Aromatically, topically, and dietary!*

But what does it do? 

It helps relieve daily stress and nervous tension.  It can assist with normal, everyday stress and also help promote relaxation.*

Does it have any other benefits? 

It can assist in calming anxiousness, help promote healthy sleep, help to uplift and unwind, and aid in restoring equilibrium.*

Should I try it?


Spoil Yourself – Stress Away Edition

The blend sounds like magic in a bottle, right?  I’m telling you from experience, it is… and I never let mine run out!  So, let’s talk about what you need – go and grab the following:


  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • A carrier oil (grapeseed oil, liquid coconut oil, olive oil)
  • Epsom salt/bath salts
  • Cotton balls
  • A couple of glass jars (re-purposed or mason jars)
  • YL Stress Away

The easiest (and most convenient) way to use this oil is aromatically.  But, I’m not just going to say “take off the cap and inhale” (although, you can definitely do that too!).  I have a couple of DIY ways to keep the aroma of the oil around a little longer.  First, you can use the cotton balls as a make-shift air freshener.  Put 2-3 drops on the cotton ball and place it near you OR in a vent (car/home) to get a diffusing effect.  I have also had great results with putting a few extra drops on cotton ball and placing it in the boxed fan in my room and desk fan at work.  Easy, right?


Another way I love to relax and unwind with this oil is to take a bath with it🙂.  3 steps is all it takes – 1.) pour bath/epsom salt into glass container 2.) put desired drops of oil into the salt (I use about 6-8) 3.) let salt absorb oil (I usually let it sit overnight).  And now you have a Spa quality bath soak you can use in your own tub.


And finally, who doesn’t love making their own sugar scrub?  My recipe includes minimal ingredients with awesome results.  I try to stay consistent with my ratios so the concoction doesn’t get too oily: 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup carrier oil, 20 drops of Stress Away.  (Optional – you can add some of your epsom/bath salt to the mix if you want an extra grainy texture.)  Mix it all up and you’re good to scrub-a-dub!


1 hour at the spa, plus enhanced therapies for a sugar scrub and aromatherapy can run you at least $75 (and that was the introductory price I found).  All of the ideas I shared with you here amount to roughly $18.67, all materials and drops of oil used included. And, keep in mind, you can use the bath soak and sugar scrub more than once…

Saving money and keeping stress away one scent at a time🙂

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.


2 Step Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Hi, my name is Nicki, and I’m a pumpkin addict.  Ask anyone and they’ll tell you my obsession is out of control.  But, I can’t help myself🙂  Being that I am addicted, I’m always looking for new pumpkin goodness to try… and tonight, I found another!  (I will add, if you’re looking for a healthy treat, this may not be the best option).  The ease in which I made these cupcakes was impressive and satisfying, seeing as it is Sunday night and I had time to try it out AND blog about it.  Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 1 box of cake mix (I’m using the Spice Cake Mix, but there many varieties you could
  • 1 can of pumpkin (make sure it’s actually pumpkin, and not the pie filling).
  • Optional: spices and/or oils, and pumpkin chips.  I chose to add a little extra kick to my cupcakes (and don’t forget my obsession, hence the pumpkin chips), but the cake mix and pumpkin would still make a delicious treat.

That’s it!  Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and put your cupcake liners in the tin
you’ll be using.  Then, pour the whole box of cake mix and your entire can of pumpkin
into your mixing bowl.  I used the #2 setting on my KitchenAid, so I’d say beat the mix together at a medium speed.

While you’re mixing, you can add your optional ingredients (if you’re choosing to use
them).  If you go with the spices route, I recommend 1/2 – 1 tablespoon, depending on your preference.  If you are using the oils, I’d say 1-2 drops of each, also depending on your preference.  I also used about a 1/4 cup of the pumpkin chips.

Once your mixture is ready, spoon it into your cupcake liners.  Note: I made these huge so I got about 15 total cupcakes.  You could easily get 2 dozen if you fill each liner about a half full.  Let them bake for about 13-16 minutes.


And that is it!  Easy, right?!  Feel free to top them with any kind of frosting you’d like… I’m going to be using cream cheese frosting (just store bought) once they are done cooling.  These are perfect for a last minute treat, potluck contribution at work, your child’s snack at school, or to win brownie points with your boyfriend’s work friends🙂


Enjoy!  Nicki

Thrift Pick: Baking Soda

cattLet’s talk about my cat, again.  Whether you’re a feline owner or not, I think it’s safe to say we all know that litter boxes are a smelly inconvenience.  In the past year, I have tried everything from the pine-type litter to the scented “litter sprays” they sell at Pet Smart.  They’ve worked for about a day or two, at best.  And then one day, I read somewhere (on Pinterest, probably) that people get great results with litter box odor by using baking soda in the bottom and mixed throughout the litter.  Light bulb!  I decided to mix one of Young Living’s oil blends (Purification) with some baking soda… and Cat and I haven’t looked back since.

And then my thriftiness went to another level… why not use that perfect little, amazing deodorizer for other things in my home?  It would save me money, it’s chemical-free, and it would save me money! (see what I did there?)  So today, I’m going to share with you 5 different ways you can use the SAME deodorizer mixture you create… all for under one whole dollar.


What will you need?  A glass jar/container of any kind (preferably, with a lid).  And to stay on the thrifty theme, I’m telling you, don’t go out and buy a jar!  Go to your refrigerator, see what’s almost gone… and eat it.  Then, let the jar sit with (you guessed it) baking soda and hot water overnight. Wipe it out and you have yourself a place to store your deodorizer.  Seriously, anything like these will do:


If the lid with your jar is metal, get creative.  You’ll want holes in it so you can use it as a shaker.  The handy man in this house used a drill bit.  If you’re using a mason jar that has the little metal, removal disc in the middle, you can either put holes in that OR replace it with a piece of scrapbooking paper.  Simply trace the disc out on the paper and cut it.  It will fit right into the lid.  Once you have it on the jar, you can poke as many holes as you want through it using something sharp.


Baking soda.  Cheap and easy to find.  If I’m looking to buy it quickly on the run, I’ll head over to the Dollar Tree.  They sell it there for $0.59 a box.  But, if you know you’ll be using it for countless projects, then you can save one more penny per ounce and get it at Walmart – where it’s $2.24 for 4lbs.

Your optional choice in this project is the essential oil.  Baking soda already neutralizes odors on its own.  I add the Purification blend because it can help with cleansing and disinfecting* AND I just love the way it smells.  (If you are opting to use Purification and need some direction on how to get it, let me know!).


Have everything?  Great!  You’ll need 1 cup (8 ounces) of baking soda and 10-12 drops of oil (if you’re using it).  Pour the drops in and stir really good, making sure the clumps are gone.  And put your lid on.  Note: you can use other essential oils besides Purification.  I have used Thieves and Lavender, as well.


Now you can get to shaking!  Here are my 5 favorite ways to use my universal deodorizer:

  1. Cat’s litter box.  Every time I clean it out, I sprinkle it across the bottom before adding her litter.  Then, I sprinkle it on top the litter and mix it around.  I like it, she doesn’t mind, and it’s safe for her.  Winning.
  2. My boyfriend’s work boots and my tennis shoes.  I have no shame – my feet can STINK sometimes, especially after working out.  I’ll sprinkle the deodorizer in the bottoms of the shoes at night.  And sometimes, after taking my socks off, I’ll rub a little on my feet too.
  3. On our mattress.  I always wash our sheets and blankets… and when I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll even vacuum the mattress before putting everything back on.  But now, I take a quick extra step and do a quick sprinkle too.  It’s game changing.
  4. The carpet before vacuuming.  No more buying Febreze Carpet Deodorizer.  Again, this is cheaper and safer for the whole house!
  5. In the sink and garbage disposal.  Sprinkle it around (like you would with Comet or something similar) and scrub away.  Get some down in the disposal, too.  Let it sit for a while and then run the hot water.  I’ll repeat it – cheaper and safer.

Let’s break down the costs and compare.

1 16 oz. box of baking soda from the Dollar Tree comes out to $.04 per ounce.  At 8 ounces, that’s $0.32.  If you’re using Purification, the cost comes out to $.06 per drop.  At 10 drops, you’re at $0.60.  Your universal deodorizer is $0.92 with Purification and $0.32 without.  


  • Cat Litter Deodorizer – I’ve seen it at $6.99 at PetSmart.
  • Odor Eaters Shoe Deodorizer – at Target for $4.29.
  • Febreze Hawaiian Aloha Room and Carpet Deodorizing Powder – $5.99 on Amazon.
  • Comet – at Target for a low price of $0.99, but it is also to be kept out of reach of children and pets and could be harmful if swallowed.  You’re DIY deodorizer is safe and chemical free.

By using the universal deodorizer you make, you would potentially be saving $17.34!  I call that a win, too.

“I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake…”🙂  Nicki

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Fiesta Friday Feature: LIME!

img1446773722999 (2)Hola, my friends!  It’s Friday!  And it feels like a good day to share one of my favorite (and very versatile) oils… Lime!  It can be used in a variety of ways, including a FREE GIVEAWAY!  After you learn a little bit about this amazing essential oil, be sure to comment with your favorite “fiesta food” to be entered for your chance to win your own 15ML bottle.


Want to know some fun facts about Young Living Lime essential oil?

  • Its pleasant, citrus scent may help promote mental clarity*
  • The energizing aroma encourages creativity*
  • Topically, it provides antioxidants to the skin*
  • It supports a healthy digestive system and may aid in weight management*
  • You can use it in place of limes in tons of recipes.


Yes, Lime (and other essential oils) can be used in your favorite recipes!  And because it’s so concentrated, you don’t need to use a large amount which can end up saving you some money in the long run.  If you think about it, you probably use 1/2 to a full lime in guacamole – give or take.  That will cost you around $0.23 per lime.  A 15ML bottle of Lime (at wholesale cost) is $12.25… which means it will cost you about $.04 a drop.  A lot of times, the equivalent of using the juice from a lime is 1-2 drops of the essential oil (depending on your taste preference, of course).  And, this math can apply to more than just guacamole… think about all of the recipes you use limes for!

I’m sure you’ve already figured it out, but I’m kind of an Instagram fanatic.  I started following an awesome woman who takes some of the best pictures I have ever seen on social media! @ashleymartinessentials shares similar interests with me, including a passion for essential oils… and Lime!  She was also willing to share her amazing guacamole recipe.  I tried it out with and without lime juice and found that I enjoyed the latter.  It’s all about preference, though!


What you will need:

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 a diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 a diced small white onion
  • 4 drops of Lime essential oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • **optional – you can still use a little bit of the juice from a lime for a thinner consistency, if you want**


That’s how the saying goes, right?🙂 And guess what… it works!  It’s also the perfect addition to a cold Corona.  I use one drop in mine and am able to skip the messy, “squeeze the lime in then put your finger on the hole and flip it upside down” nonsense.  Trust me, you don’t want me trying that around you (or any electronics).  I have also used the oil in salt FOR my margaritas.  Yes – simply add 8-10 drops of Lime EO to a 1/4 cup of fine sea salt.  Store it in a glass jar with a lid and bust it out for your fiesta occasions!  (FYI – it tastes pretty amazing on tortilla chips, too).

fiestaAnd keep in mind, there are other uses for this amazing little bottle.  I add it to my water, diffuse it when I’m looking for a pick-me-up, and sometimes just take the cap off and take a whiff because it smells that good!  Want one of your own to whiff with me?!  Comment below naming your favorite “fiesta food” and you’ll be entered for a chance to win one from yours truly!  I will pick the winner on Wednesday, 11/11/15 at 5PM.  Will it be you?

Adios!  Nicki

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

shoplocalI’m not sure why it took me so long, but I have recently become obsessed with going to farmer’s markets.  And after going to my first one, I realized it was about more than good food and pretty flowers.  There is something so genuine and inspiring about each and every interaction you have there, you find yourself never wanting to leave.  After going to one of my favorites last weekend (Gilbert Farmer’s Market) I thought, “I hope other people in the world get to experience this at least once” – I was referring to both being at the market AND to the amazing green chile pork hand pie I was eating from the AZ Food Crafters booth.

But really, as great as the experience is, it’s even better when you leave knowing you are supporting your local farmers and businesses.  Not only are you contributing to the community, you are able to make healthy, conscious choices while doing it.  I’ve been doing a little research on these benefits and I thought I’d share a couple – well 10, actually – with you.

Top 10 Reasons to Support Your Local Farmer’s Markets

  1. You can find a variety of fresh, organic produce at more affordable prices than in a supermarket.
  2. You know where your food is coming from!  Meeting and talking with farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced.
  3. You can connect with your community.  Shopping at a farmer’s market is more of a pleasure than a chore AND for every $100 spent locally, $68 goes back into your community.  If you spend it at a national chain, $43 stays in the community; If you spend it online, NOTHING goes back in.  (check out the 3/50 project to learn more).
  4. You have access to what is in season.  Supermarkets may highlight this for you, but at the farmer’s market, you know you’re getting it fresh and with the truest flavors.
  5. You are promoting humane treatment of animals.  The meats, cheeses, and eggs are from animals that are raised without hormones or antibiotics; they have grazed on greet grass and eaten natural diets; they have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical in animal agriculture.
  6. The food and products you are getting are generally safer.  Things like E. coli outbreaks happen mostly in large industrial settings, where businesses mass produce food, preserve it, and bag it in mass amounts.
  7. The nourishment of yourself and your family.  Most food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. These practices may have negative effects on human health. Most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable techniques.
  8. Variety – you’re going to find things you don’t usually get the privilege of seeing in the supermarket or shopping centers.  From watermelon radishes to pumpkin spice soap, you get to experience an above average consuming experience.
  9. You get access to ideas and recipes from vendors and other farmer’s market customers!  Does the cashier at the supermarket chat with you for 20 minutes about the 10 ways you can use that garlic?
  10. You have the opportunity to have a new tradition, whether it be for your “you time” or an outing for the whole family.  A fun, relaxed, local tradition.

Where Is Your Heart?

My heart is in Arizona (and Wisconsin – forever a cheesehead), so I thought I’d let fellow blog readers in on some great places to get a farmer’s market experience in those areas.  I’d love it if you would comment with where your favorite farmer’s market is in your city, state, and/or town!  You never know where you may end up and personally, I’d love to add some extras to my bucket list.

All Arizona markets are open!  Click here to find one near you.

Don’t worry Wisconsinites – Winter’s farmer’s markets are in full swing.  Click here to find one near you!  (And here’s your summer listings).

Happy shopping!  – Nicki