Bags to Have and the Stuff to Put in Them

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One bag doesn’t fit every occasion. Sometimes you require only small purse or wallet for those few basic essentials and other times you find you need a mammoth tote so you can be prepared for every situation. Whether you’re bag of choice is small, medium or large, following are a few of my recent favorite purses and bags along with a selection of some go to essentials to tuck inside.

Fabulous Handmade Bags and Purses for Women on Etsy1. Small Waxed Canvas Cross Over Bag from Cloth & Ink / 2. Medium Cosmetic Zip Pouch from MinneBITES / 3. Large Blue Floral Kallia Hobo Purse from milloo / 4. Large Mint Green Organic Cotton Canvas Satchel from Handmade Therapy / 5. Leather Black Cat Bag from Pelle Volare

Natural and Handmade Beauty Essentials for Your Purse1. Pink Folded Leather Coin Purse from La Lisette / 2. Vegan Peach Mango Lip Balm from The Gnarly Whale / 3. Patchouli Rose Perfume Oil from Scent By The Sea / 4. Coconut Shimmer Salve from Good 4 You  / 5. Natural Ruby Lip Tint from Phoenix Botanicals

Stylish and Fun Handmade Handbags, and Backpacks and Purses for Women on Etsy

1. Burgundy Zig Zag Leather Saddle Bag with Tassels from LaLisette / 2. Multi-color Chevron Stripe Backpack from BagyBags / 3. Handmade Watermelon Leather Bag from LaLiseette / 4. Red Herring Waxed Canvas Backpack from Wooly Bison / 5. Large Yellow Handbag from Hashibags

Must Have Items For Every Woman's Purse1. Fresh Lemon Hand Sanitizer with Vitamin E from Pegasus Soaps / 2. Coral & Mint Travel Tissue Holder from Marine Parents / 3. Travel Comb with Mirror from Estee Lauder / 4.Nikon COOLPIX S3500 20.1 MP Digital Camera from Amazon / 5. Zen Green Tea & Mint Lotion Bar from The Pig and the Peacock

According to a recent survey on women’s favorite purse size, 22% of my readers said they preferred a small bag, 22% preferred a large bag and 22% said the size of bag they preferred to carry depended on the situation. 34% of readers chose a medium sized bag as their go to purse size.

As for must have essentials to keep inside, the majority of my readers had to have a lip gloss or lip balm and a lotion or cream at all times. Next up was mascara, a brush or comb and sunscreen. And a slim margin of readers always carried hand sanitizer, q-tips, lipstick, soap and perfume. What is your favorite bag size and what items do you always carry inside other than your wallet, ID and money?

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas – Birch Box’s New Limited Edition Superwoman Beauty Collection

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Cleopatra TOCCA Crema da Mano Luxe Hand Cream - Natural Beauty and Skin Care Hand Cream with a Fabulous Light Grapefruit and Cucumber Fragrance - Perfect for a Mother's Day GiftRecently I decided to give Birch Box a try. Based out of New York City this amazing company is perfect for anyone who loves trying out new bath and beauty products. I’d been wanting to try a sample box subscription for some time, but so many of them were out of my price range or required paying for three months or more up front. Birch Box is different. For $10 a month, billed monthly, you received a fabulous box of beauty, grooming and lifestyle samples each and every month. Samples include fragrances, skin care and bath products, cosmetics, even teas and snacks! What has me really excited about this sample program is that it includes high end brands I ordinarily wouldn’t have the chance to try due to budget restrictions. It also offers the chance to try “green” brands that are just launching.

I haven’t received my first sample beauty box yet – it’s set to arrive on Thursday – but I did order the limited edition From the Garden box they offered. It’s sold out now, but you can buy the products that were included within the box individually. My favorites from the box were the Tocca Crema da Mano Luxe, the Lafco Little Luxuries Candle Tin and L’occitane’s Thé Vert & Bigarade fragrance.

I received the Cleopatra Tocca Hand Cream (pictured above) which is a fragrant blend of grapefruit and cucumber. I immediately fell in love with the fragrance. It’s lightly scented, but smells quite lovely – crisp and fresh. What I really liked about this hand cream was that it absorbed quickly and left my hands feeling soft and smooth – almost silky in the way baby powder makes skin feel to the touch. It’s made with a combination of moisturizing oils including avocado and coconut oil, and also contains shea butter and chamomile extract. Tocca offers this cream in five signature fragrances – Cleopatra (as mentioned), Stella (blood orange), Giulietta (pink tulip and green apple), Bianca (green tea and lemon), and Florence (bergamot and gardenia). I pretty much want to try them all. Plus I love the packaging. And with Mother’s Day coming up I think these would make an excellent Mother’s Day gift as well.

I did some looking around, and Birch Box pricing is pretty much dead on with other retailers who offer their products. Minus the extra benefits that come with shopping Birch Box which include free shipping, free samples and offers from their Bonus Shop, and their rewards program.

Mint Scented Lafco Candle Tin with Matches that Fit Neatly Into the LidOne of the other products I received in my limited edition From the Garden Birch Box was this Lafco Little Luxuries Candle Tin in Mint. My favorite thing about this container is the tin it comes in. While the fragrance I received was mint, it really did not smell so much like straight mint to me, rather more of combination of mint and pine. My boyfriend thought it smelled more like pine than anything else, which was fine by him, seeing as how he prefers a more masculine scented candle so this scent made a nice compromise. Made from soy wax, this small candle has a burn time of over thirty hours. But what really does it for me is how lovely the tin itself is. Not only is it pretty to look at, but the lid has an indention on top that hold a box of matches. I thought it wa pretty genius to pair the two together. This is one tin I’ll definitely be re-using and re-purposing once the candle is gone. I may even put another candle it since I’ve been dying to try my hand at candle making at some point.

L'OCCITANE La Collection de Grasse - Thé Vert & Bigarade FragranceI also really love the sample of L’occitane’s fragrance Thé Vert & Bigarade that I received. It’s part of their new line of fragrances, La Collection de Grasse, that was inspired by its namesake town in the south of France. The four fragrances within this line are Jasmine & Bergamote, Vanille & Narcisse, Magnolia & Mûre, and Thé Vert & Bigarade. Thé Vert & Bigarade is a blend of blossoming green floral notes with earthy wood notes that reminds me of tradition. It’s not overwhelmingly floral and is almost crisp in nature. For me, it’s what a “toilet water” should smell like. That beautiful, yet expensive perfume that you coveted from your grandmother’s dresser. Traditional in a way that is classy, sophisticated, understated and timeless.

Mother's Day Gift Idea - A Fabulous Limited Edition Beauty Birch Box -  The Superwoman CollectionWith the From the Garden Limited Edition Birch Box now sold out, Birch Box just introduced a new limited edition box for Mother’s Day. Named the Superwoman Collection, this new beauty collection includes $190 in products bargain priced at just $58 with free shipping. (Plus you can score some sweet extras with it at no charge from the Bonus Shop.) As this box had so many intriguing products I really wanted to try, I indulged and purchased one for myself. Though you could always buy one for you AND one for mom. This box includes the following full sized products: 29 Preserves I-Block Grape Seed Age Protecting™ Estate Collection Eye Shadow – a four shade collection of shimmery ivory, creamy pink, rich espresso brown, and a warm cinnamon infused with antiaging grape antioxidants, a Le Métier de Beauté Dualistic Eye Pencil, a Le Métier de Beauté Anamorphic Lash Waterproof Mascara, and rms beauty™ Living Luminizer. You also receive a travel size Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask and Molton Brown Heavenly Gingerlily Moisture Bath & Shower along with a super cute Chambre de Sucre’s Macaron Limoge Trinket Box. In addition to shipping for free I was also able to choose a sample pack with two samples at no charge – I chose the Weleda Pomegranate Firming Night Cream & Archipelago Pomegranate Body Soap – and a free sample of Benefit BADgal Lash Mascara.

I can’t wait to receive to my first Birch Box shipment – I’ll be sure to fill you in on what’s hot and what’s just, well, not. And I’ll also be sure to give you feedback on the new Superwoman Collection! If you’re interested in trying Birch Box for yourself, you can sign up here. In addition to their sample box program, you can also shop for any of the full size products they carry. Birch Box products of the month always ship free no matter your order size. Other products ship free with a $50 order. Plus you earn points toward free products with every purchase! You can also gift a women’s subscription to Birch Box just for Mother’s Day for 3, 6 or 12 months!

Teroforma Whisky Stones® MAX - Great Gift Idea for Father's DayAlso, new to Birch Box are subscriptions for men. My boyfriend said he didn’t think he was really interested in a subscription for himself, but he did enjoy the purchase I made for him from the Men’s Birch Box Shop. I bought him the Teroforma Whisky Stones® MAX – as whiskey is his favorite drink – and a container of Mr. Natty Presents Frank’s Beard Elixir. I also chose the Birchbox Man Pick Two Sample Pac (Free with $25 purchase) which I received free with my purchase and I added the Birchbox Koozies (free with $30 purchase.) Plus it shipped free!

Father's Day Gift Idea - Wood Grain Beer Koozies with ZippersThe Birchbox Koozies, which I wasn’t expecting to be that great since they were a free product, are actually really cool. They look so much nicer in person and have that awesome wood grain motif that’s currently trending. They also have zippers on the back to zip the koozie snuggly around your beer or beverage.

Have you ever tried a sample program – either Birch Box  or another company? What was your take?

A Handmade Christmas All Wrapped Up! Onto Valentine’s Day!

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With Christmas all wrapped up, it’s time for me to start thinking ahead to the next “gifting” holiday – Valentine’s Day! Of course, I haven’t forgotten New Year’s, but I ate so much over the past few days I’m not sure I want to think about another carb filled party just quite yet. I’ll let that one sneak up on me. Valentine’s Day, however, I do like to plan for. I love finding unique, handmade treasures for my sweetheart and I enjoy making them! But first I want to share a few of the handmade finds I gifted for Christmas.
For Christmas I gave my sweetie a handmade guitar wallet from Found. As you can see from comparison it was greatly needed. Scott’s old Family Guy wallet was in such poor shape it had a huge hole in the middle. Regardless, he was very reluctant to let it go. The wallet from Found was the perfect replacement. It was hand crafted from remnants of leather hides and upholstery samples and has a spot inside not only for money and cards, but also a guitar pick. (See photos.) Perfect since Scott is both a bass player and guitar player. Where the guitar pick goes, rather than putting a traditional pick in that space, I included a hand stamped guitar pick necklace for him from Wyoming Creative. He was very excited by these new gifts. However, I still had to be the one to throw out his old wallet. For anyone who has ever been married it was sort of like tossing that old, holey t-shirt he still wears when he’s not looking. There’s that sort of mock devastation.

And, just for fun – because all sane men love bacon – I gave Scott some handmade Crispy Sizzling Bacon Lip Balm from Soap Art. Not only was he a huge fan of this very bacon smelling lip balm, but my dog Jasper wanted a lick too!
Now that all of the Christmas gifts have been opened, I’ve been working on some love inspired soaps for Valentine’s Day. The soap log pictured above was just unmolded today and sliced into bars with my handy Chef’s knife. It’s a cold process soap made with a combination of olive oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, rice bran oil and others and is scented with a Red Velvet Cake fragrance and a Red Currant scented soap heart center. Once it’s been exposed to air for a bit, the entire bar – minus the red soap heart – will turn a dark, chocolatey brown the same as the edges. I’m still working on a name for this one though, so if you have any ideas feel free to share them! I’ll also be introducing a White Chocolate Raspberry scented soap for Valentine’s Day as well.

Customize Your Handmade Soaps, Lotions and Potions with Free Printable Labels

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What’s more fun than making your own bath and body products? Why labeling them, of course! Even if you haven’t quite mastered the skill of handcrafting your own handmade soaps, lotions and potions, you can still give store bought products your own special touch for gifting them on holidays and special occasions. Customizing your products and gifts is as simple as packaging them in a special way. Whether by wrapping them uniquely or just adding pretty labels! Following are a few free printable labels perfect for your apothecary bottles, handmade soaps and lotions.

D.I.Y. Vintage Apothecary Bottle Labels from Eat Drink Chic

These free printable, vintage apothecary labels from Eat Drink Chic are great for labeling bottles with or without product and giving them a retro look.

Bottle Labels for your Apothecary Products from WorldLabel.com

These fun printable apothecary bottle labels available for free download from  WorldLabel.com were designed by Cathe Holden of Just Something I Made Blog. They are available in a colored version (pictured above) and in cream only. Even better, the downloads allow you to change the font size, type and color as well as create your own custom text. This makes these labels perfect for customizing for wedding or party favors or marking a special holiday.

Printable Vintage Labels from Miss CutiePie

I’m also a fan of these round, vintage style printable labels from Miss CutiePie. They’re perfect for labeling bottles, packages and round soaps.

For more links to free printable labels, visit my Printables Board on Pinterest.

Coconut Body Whip Recipe – Things You Can Make with Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil is an amazing product. Not only can you use it for cooking – like in this great recipe for homemade, organic Elephant Ears – but it’s also perfect for bath and body products. In soapmaking, coconut oil helps to create a fluffy lather; in skin care products it lends its moisturizing properties.
Coconut Body Whip from Phemomenon Blog
If you’re looking to make your own bath and body products using coconut oil to give this oil a try, you may want to start with the Coconut Body Whip Recipe from Phemomenon Blog. The recipe yields a 1/3 cup of lotion from a coconut oil base and serves as a great recipe for beginners as there are no advanced techniques. Just melt, mix, and strain. Keep in the fridge after making and enjoy it on your sunburn as an after sun lotion.