Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Homemade Beauty Gifts

I’m a huge fan of homemade gifts and luxurious DIY beauty treatments. Combine them, and you have the perfect holiday present.

These homemade beauty gifts are easy to make and are made with easy-to-find, natural, sustainable, safe ingredients. No mysterious ingredients or harmful chemicals here.

Another reason I love making little gifts like these is because they are easy to scale up or down and make as many as you need. I’m also a sucker for anything in a cute jar.

Easy Homemade Beauty Gifts

Homemade beauty gifts - homemade shea butter and coconut oil body butter-homemade-shea-butter-and-coconut-oil-body-butter

Coconut oil and shea butter body butter

Infused bath salts

Homemade Beauty Gifts - DIY Tinted Raspberry Lip Balm from Hello Glow

Photo courtesy of Hello Glow

Naturally-tinted raspberry lip balm

Face mist

Conditioning anti-frizz spray 

Grapefruit rosemary bath salts 

Homemade Beauty Gifts - Herbal Sleep Balm from JJ Begonia

Photo courtesy of JJ Begonia

Calming sleep balm

Solid perfume

Peppermint + lavender headache balm

Homemade Beauty Gifts - Four holiday body scrubs from Hello Glow

Photo courtesy of Hello Glow

Four holiday-scented body scrubs 

Dry shampoo spray

Vanilla body spray

Sore muscle salve


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make some of these for myself.

12 Must Have Vegetarian Fall Recipes

Fall has shaken me out of a bit of a food rut. It’s so easy to get stuck eating pasta a couple nights a week and a soup the rest. But fall doesn’t have to be boring. These vegetarian fall recipes are healthy, quick, and delicious. All of the recipes can easily be made gluten-free and/or vegan.

Did I mention they are also easy? I can’t stand recipes with endless instructions and ingredients. Nor do I care for things that have to be made exactly the right way or they fail epicallyThese recipes are perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a cozy weekend meal. All of them are recipes I have made multiple times and still love.

And to be fair, most of them would be great year round. These are just the recipes I reach for when it’s cold and I’m already hungry.

calafia cafe buddha bowl-skin-cleanse skin cleanse

Vegetarian Fall Recipes: Dinner

1-Pot Kale Sweet Potato Curry

If you only make on dish off this list, it has to be this one from Minimalist Baker. I cannot shut up about it. So easy. So filling. So satisfying. It’s my new go-to “stew.” If you don’t like sweet potato, a squash or really any vegetable would substitute well.

Enlightened Miso Power Bowl

This bowl is straight out of the Oh She Glows Cookbook. I love bowls, especially when someone else is going to make it for me. This one feels filling and interesting without forcing you to cut every vegetable in the market and cook it separately. I’ve made the Orange Miso Dressing (swapping olive oil for the toasted sesame oil because it’s not my thing) to use on other dishes. Oh, and it has 20.3g protein in each serving. Score.

1-Pot Vegetable Penne Pasta

For those lucky enough to live in California and still have ripe cherry tomatoes, this one from Love and Lemons is golden. It reminds me of the frozen Trader Joe’s pasta dish my roommates ate nearly daily in college, but it’s even better. I overload it with vegetables so I don’t have to feel guilty for not making a side dish. You seriously just throw everything in the pot, wait a few minutes while it cooks, and devour.

Gnocchi With Pomodoro Sauce

This recipe from Foodie Crush makes me make Homer noises. My boyfriend and I have made this recipe so many times that we don’t need the recipe anymore. To be fair, it is simple with only a few ingredients. We don’t do the cheese or broil – who can wait that long!?! (It’s only an extra eight minutes, so totally feel free to complete the recipe as written.) We made it with a bit of mozzarella once and it was good, but for my dairy-hating stomach we just sprinkle on a bit of aged parmigiano-reggiano afterwards. I also frequently just make the sauce to use over pasta or another dish. It’s that good and stupid easy.

Miso-Kale Noodles

I am head over heels for miso. The salty stuff makes my heart beat a little faster (and it’s not the extra sodium). To make this recipe I start with Veganomicon’s Udon Recipe. Due to dietary constrictions I now make it with zucchini instead of the mushrooms, garlic olive oil, no onion, and rice noodles instead. It’s a forgiving recipe and I just want to drink the broth anyway. If you don’t have to eat low-FODMAP, the original is great.

Butternut Squash Kale Risotto

I’ve only made this recipe once, but it seemed like a sin not to include a butternut squash dish. The recipe turned out pretty well, but there was a bit too much liquid and I had some trouble cooking the squash evenly. Next time I would roast the cubed squash while I made the rice and cut out a time-consuming step.

Vegetarian Fried Rice

Fried rice is of course a great idea year round, but it’s also a nice way to use up leftover rice and make a fast hot meal when you don’t feel like cooking. You can really use any vegetables that sauté well, even a frozen medley. I use this recipe from The Kitchn as a guide, and I highly recommend opting for the fresh ginger.

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Tacos are a year-round staple around here, but there is something distinctly fall/winter about this dish for me. It’s hearty without being heavy. You can easily swap in rice for the quinoa, just be sure to check the water ratio and increase the cooking time.

Polenta Bake with Feta and Tomato

This dish is another one where you can pretty much add what you like. It makes a great base for just about any veggie. It’s also really quick.

Veggie Bowl

There isn’t really a recipe for this, and that’s why I like it. But here’s the basic principles: 1. Roast or sauté whatever vegetables you want. 2. Make or use leftover rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, etc. 3. Put it in your bowl. 4. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or add whatever sauce you want. 5. Completely cover in parm until you can no longer see the contents of the bowl (optional).

Vegetarian Fall Recipes: Breakfast

Let’s be honest, I eat toast 95 percent of the time. Usually with butter and sunflower seed butter. But when I don’t eat that (or eggs), these are my favorites. Did I include this section just so I could talk about waffles? Yes.

A photo posted by Kate (@cookieandkate) on

Easy Gluten Free Oat Waffles

I would happily eat these every day. Breakfast, snack, you name it. They are incredibly filling because they are made with oat flour – not to mention nutritious and protein packed. I thought the texture would be dense, but I was so wrong. This recipe by Cookie and Kate ruined me for waffles. I only want these ones… okay I’ll eat a different one if it really came down to it.

Quinoa Oatmeal

Thug Kitchen is a staple in my family. I always have at least one jar of this oatmeal in my freezer. Between the quinoa and the steel cut oats, it’s packed with protein. When it isn’t berry season, I stir in some frozen fruit. My absolute favorite way to make this is with an entire can of full fat coconut milk. It keeps me full longer and the flavor is subtle. (It ends up being close to two cups and I just add water to get the full four).


Still hungry? I have tons more recipes here.

What’s your favorite fall recipe or ingredient?

Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide

You don’t need caustic chemicals and piles of cleaners to effectively clean your bathroom. This simple bathroom cleaning guide will show you how to clean your whole bathroom with safe, sustainable cleaners. The best part? You can have the room clean, top to bottom, in 15 minutes or less.

Bleach, ammonia, and other harsh chemicals are damaging to the environment and you. Bleach can burn your lungs and your skin as you clean. Other cleaners are full of chemicals that are known to cause reproductive or developmental problems and cancer. Most companies do not put their full list of ingredients on the label.

There aren’t laws that require cleaning products to be tested for health or environmental safety. These toxic chemicals not only leave behind residue in your home, they are washed down the drain where they cannot be pulled out by most water treatments. Instead, they end up in our waterways.

While you can look up the safety of your products here, the homemade cleaners and castile soap I recommend here are safe for you and for the environment. They also work just as well (if not better) as what you can find on the store shelves.

Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide-Simple-bathroom-Cleaning-Guide-minimalist-cleaning-natural-non-toxic-sustainable-environmentally-friendly

What You Need

Microfiber Cloth
These things are pure magic. While I wish they were made from natural materials, I think their longevity and their cleaning power more than make up for it. I was gifted some of my mom’s microfiber cloths when I went to college, and they are still going strong. My mom still uses the same ones she bought more than 10 years ago.

Microfiber cloths can be used for just about anything. They won’t scratch the surface or leave behind lint. I use them to remove hard water, clean the glass shower doors, and just about everything else. I use microfiber cloths for their scrubbing power and their antimicrobial properties. They can cut through thick soap scum better than most cleaners.

If you are really against microfiber, feel free to use a cloth towel or any rag, but be prepared to put more muscle into it.

Toilet Brush
The one you have is the best one to use. If you are looking for a new one, consider going for sustainable materials (like this one) or one where you can just replace the head of the brush (like this).

Castile Soap
I use liquid for convenience, but you can also use a bar. It is a safe, non-toxic cleaner, and I swear it cleans better than most conventional cleaners on the market. You don’t need bleach to safely clean your bathroom.

Small Towel
An old kitchen towel, t-shirt, or just about any other absorbent rag will work. You just need something to dry the top of the counter and any fixtures.

Reusable Gloves
Totally optional, but I use an old pair of dish gloves. I bought thick gloves that last really well. They are years old at this point and still work great.

Simple Bathroom Cleaning Guide: Mirrors/Glass

What you need:
– Warm water
– Microfiber cloth
– Small towel

All you need is water to get a streak-free mirror. Simply wet the microfiber cloth in hot or warm water and wring it out until it’s mostly dry. Wipe down the mirror or glass surface, and dry it quickly with another microfiber cloth or a small rag towel. The microfiber cloth works great for cleaning the glass because it doesn’t hold too much water or leave lint behind. However, if you are trying to stick to only natural fibers, a cotton cloth would work just fine.

Bathroom Sink and Tub

What you need:
– Liquid or solid castile soap
– Microfiber cloth
– Optional: small towel to dry

A half teaspoon or so of castile soap will do the whole sink. Wet the rag and squirt your castile soap straight into the plugged sink or onto the rag. Scrub and then rinse down the rag and the sink.

For the tub or shower, wet the surface slightly before squirting some castile soap into the bottom. I usually use as little as possible (about a teaspoon full) and squirt more if I need it. Then scrub the tub with the soap and the moist microfiber cloth.

I rarely, if ever, need anything other than the microfiber cloth and the castile soap, but if you have soap scum or mildew that just won’t budge, you can shake a little baking soda on the surface. It will not only help physically scrub the surface, but it will help break up the soap scum.


What you need:
– Liquid or solid castile soap
– Microfiber cloth
– Toilet brush

Squirt a little bit of castile soap (less than a teaspoon) into the toilet bowl and scrub down the insides with the brush. When you are done, use the damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the toilet. Start with the seat, then wipe down the rim to the floor.

The castile soap will take away water marks, mildew, and discoloration. You might have to scrub a little harder if it’s really on there or let it the castile soap sit for a bit after you scrub some to get it all off.


What you need:
– Microfiber cloth
Homemade floor cleaner

Start with a damp rag and spray down the floor as you clean it with the floor cleaner. I like to work my way towards to the toilet (cleanest to dirtiest), but if that’s not possible, work your way out to the doorway.

Order of Operations

Before you get down and dirty, you need a game plan. I safely and effectively clean my whole bathroom with one or two rags with this method.

1. Mirror. Use a fresh microfiber cloth and clean your mirror.

2. Sink. Use the same rag and some castile soap to clean the sink.

3. Tub. Once the sink is wiped down and the rag is rinsed out, move on to the tub.

4. Toilet. As the dirtiest thing in your bathroom, this gets the last cleaning. When you are done, so is the rag. Do not use the rag again after wiping down the toilet.

5. Floor. New rag! If I am tag teaming the bathroom cleaning, the person who cleans the sink usually does the floor with the same rag while the other person washes the tub and toilet.

6 DIY Cleaning Recipes

I’m in a huge cleaning mode right now. There’s something about the warm weather that makes me want to open all of the windows and scrub until it shines.

While I’m one of those people who enjoys cleaning (I’m a sucker for instant satisfaction), I can’t stand excessive scrubbing or time wasted. I’m very conscious of the chemicals that I bring into my house. The cleaning products we use end up rinsed down the drain and flushed into our oceans, bays, and rivers. Sewage treatment plants cannot pull the bleach and other caustic chemicals out of the waste water before it is discharged into the environment.

All of these DIY cleaning recipes are effective and safe for you and the environment. They will help you clean your home from top to bottom!

DIY Cleaning Recipes

5 DIY Cleaning Recipes

Homemade Stain Remover
Remove tough stains from your laundry, carpet, and upholstery with this two-ingredient recipe.

DIY Castile Laundry Soap
Use your food processor and have six months of laundry soap done in five minutes. If only you could do the laundry the fast.

Hardwood Floor Cleaner
All you need is this easy spray and a microfiber cloth to make this effective hardwood floor cleaner. The cleaner removes dirt and grime without harming the finish of the wood. You can use any flat mop or even re-use an old Swiffer mop.

Homemade All-Purpose Spray
From counters to sinks, this cleaner cuts grime just about anywhere. I mostly use it for sticky bits on the counter and tough grease on the cabinets and stove-top. It’s also great to disinfect the counters before making jam or rolling out cookie dough on them.

Castile Soap Toilet Bowl Cleaner
There isn’t much, if anything that I won’t clean with castile soap. A teaspoon or two is plenty to clean even the dirtiest toilet. You can clean the whole bathroom with it! For a sparkling toilet, squirt a teaspoon or so of castile soap into the bowl before scrubbing with a brush.

Smelly Shoe Spray
Goodbye, stinky shoes! Beat the feet smell with this easy spray. Use it after each wear to keep your shoes and feet fresh.


Paper towel alternatives

Cheap and effective dorm cleaning

Do you know what’s in your cleaner?

Homemade Stain Remover

Life is messy. I am messy. My roommates are really messy. Needless to say this homemade stain remover gets used frequently. From removing the tomato sauce I exploded on my favorite light purple sweatshirt while cooking to pure mud from hiking to the chocolate my roommates ground into the cloth napkins, I have had my fair share of tough stains.

This homemade stain remover is powerful without all of the nasty chemicals. It also won’t bleach or discolor your clothes.

Homemade Castile Soap Stain Remover

Homemade Stain Remover Ingredients

2-5 teaspoons liquid castile soap
1-2 cups of water

I love simplicity, and the two ingredients in this stain remover certainly fit the bill. Castile soap is heavily concentrated. When diluted with water, the soap is easy to apply without overdoing it. I also love that I can buy it in bulk. Our local Whole Foods and a few smaller grocery stores in the area let you refill your bottle. I make my homemade stain remover in a small spray bottle so its always on hand and easy to use.

To be fair, I don’t usually measure my ingredients when I make this castile soap stain remover. Typically I squirt some of the soap into the spray bottle and add water. If it’s too much soap (I base it off the color of the stain remover and how sudsy it comes out) I add more water once there’s room. Not working as hoped? I add a little more soap. It doesn’t take much to create a powerful stain remover, so err on the side of less soap to begin with.

Best Uses for Homemade Stain remover

I have some pet peeves and some constantly-dirty items. Here’s my list of all of the things that get a thorough spray before hitting the wash:

1. Not so white socks (AKA the reminder to mop more often)
2. Grimy sleeves – sweatshirts are my worst offenders. I blame the gym.
3. Sunscreen marks
4. Armpits and collars of white shirts
5. Food stains
6. Dirt, grass, life stains
7. Blood stains
8. Light colored sports bras (they get a general all over spritz to keep them looking bright and clean)
9. My workout shirts – where I wipe my sweaty face and anywhere that spent time on the floor (sit ups anyone?) to get out the extra oils and dirt
10. Makeup marks (not common for me, but the stain spray has taken it out in the past!)

Zero Waste Trail Mix

Snacks are my biggest barrier to being zero waste. I stopped buying chips and crackers to try to reduce how much processed, packaged food I eat, but I rarely make it from one meal to the next without a snack and my lack of snacks was becoming a huge problem. No snacks is a really bad thing. In an effort to stop scaring people while eating healthier and reducing my waste, I made myself delicious, hearty trail mix.

Zero waste trail mix is so easy! I brought empty jars with me to the grocery store and came home with a killer snack. The bulk bins were full of fun ingredients, and it was great to be able to just get as much as I wanted instead of trying to shove pumpkin seeds into everything I eat before they go rancid. I also got ideas for things I wouldn’t normally put in my trail mix.

zero waste trail mix-zero-waste-trail-mix

Nut-Free Zero Waste Trail Mix

Raw Sunflower Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Dried Cherries (unsweetened and unsulfured)
Unsweetened Coconut Chips
Chocolate Chips

All of my ingredients were organic and local if possible. You can leave out the chocolate chips to cut the sugar, but I fell prey to peer pressure and I can’t say I regret having them in there.

Once I brought home my bounty I just poured it into a quart-size jar and shook it up. Done.

zero waste trail mix-zero-waste-trail-mix

Now instead of constantly cramming my face full of (delicious) chips, I am eating nutritious seeds that are full of protein and magnesium. While you won’t find me on a cool trail anytime soon, this is my new go-to snack.

I pop it in a small, reusable container to take it on the go or straight into my hand for convenient snacking sans dishes around the house.

6 Healthy Cookbooks

These healthy cookbooks were a breath of fresh air and a fun way to try new recipes. I am on a major crusade to add more vegetables and nutritious foods of all kinds to my daily diet. To get inspiration, I have been checking out loads of cookbooks from the library after reading Skin Cleanse  – I had 10 at home at one point. From a couple of my old standbys to new goodies, I highly recommend them all.

6 Healthy Cookbooks-6-healthy-cookbooks

6 Healthy Cookbooks

1. The Oh She Glows Cookbook
I loved this book. Every recipe is stuffed with vegetables and whole foods. I made the miso orange bowl that was ah-maz-ing. More please!

2. Thug Kitchen
I can’t get enough of this cookbook. It makes me laugh every time I flip through it or make a recipe out of it. Thug’s blasé approach to cooking is refreshing and makes my time in the kitchen so much less stressful. No other cookbook has ever encouraged me to take a break and check my Tumblr while I waited for something to cook. My mom gave this to me a couple Christmases ago (you heard me), and I’m still discovering new recipes out of it. I can’t recommend it enough.

3. My New Roots
The pictures in this book are stunning. It felt full of light and the seasonal recipes were a fun way to remember that nature takes care of variety for us. Some of the recipes had a few more ingredients than I usually use, but for the most part they are straight forward. I saved quite a few recipes to whip up sometime soon.

4. Superfood Smoothies
I wanted to love this book. I really did. But I just couldn’t. It was a great introduction to a lot of new ingredients and it definitely encouraged me to open my mind at least a tiny bit about what I can put in my smoothies. But a lot of the recipes just didn’t suit my taste. Totally worth a perusal regardless of how you feel about vegetables in a smoothie.

5. The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon
I do wish these recipes had fewer ingredients and overall less sugar, but I do love me some bowls. I really enjoyed seeing so many different takes on one of my staples. Bonus, the photos are gorgeous.

6. The Homemade Pantry
Sometimes you just need to step up your snack game and kick the packaged stuff to the curb. I’ve written about this one before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. If you want to get a little more in tune with what you are eating and you love snacks, this one is for you. It’s also great if you are hoping to be zero waste (or just have fewer chip bags in your trash).

Is anyone else hungry now?

More Books: You can see all of my recommendations here.

DIY Shea Butter and Coconut Oil Body Butter

I have been making my own body butter for years, and my skin has never been happier. This shea butter and coconut oil body butter recipe only has two ingredients, and it’s so versatile! I put it on after I shower on my whole body, my hands and feet before bed, and on my the back of my hands throughout the day. It soaks in fast, and it leaves my skin feeling moisturized all day.

homemade shea butter and coconut oil body butter-homemade-shea-butter-and-coconut-oil-body-butter

Body Butter Ingredients

1/2 cup fair trade shea butter
1/2 cup organic, unrefined (also called virgin) coconut oil

I tend to do a straight 1:1 ratio on my body butter, but you can use more coconut oil for a lighter, faster absorbing oil or more shea butter for a richer, more moisturizing oil. In the winter I add a touch more shea butter.

You can also add a couple drops of essential oils for a nice scent. I don’t typically do this, mostly because I like the simplicity of the body butter as it is. Without essential oils, the body butter has no scent once it is rubbed in and absorbed.

homemade shea butter and coconut oil body butter-homemade-shea-butter-coconut-oil-body-butter-ingredients

How to Make It

Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together in a microwave safe container. Typically one to three minutes is plenty to get them completely melted. Stir the oil together to make sure they are mixed well. Pour it into a container and let harden on your counter or in the fridge.

How to Use and Store Your Body Butter

Scoop out the body butter and apply like you would lotion. A little goes a long way, so be sure to start with less than you think you might need. I typically apply it when I get out of the shower, and by the time I’m done drying the shower it is soaked in enough for me to get dressed.

If you feel like it’s not soaking in fast enough, you can try using less or reheat it and add a bit more coconut oil. I also highly recommend slathering your feet and putting on a pair of junky socks for 10 minutes or so if you plan on putting it on before bed. This protects your sheets and makes sure your feet get all the goodies.

homemade shea butter and coconut oil body butter

In the summer or warm temperatures, the butter will melt a bit. You can absolutely use it like this, or store it somewhere cooler. I don’t recommend the fridge, however, or you will be trying to cut it like cold butter before giving yourself a bit of a cold-lotion-torture-treatment. If it separates a bit, simply give it a stir.

Since you are dipping your fingers in and out of the jar, be sure to wash your hands first. If you don’t use it frequently I would recommend making a smaller batch so you don’t have to worry about it going bad. However, the coconut oil, a natural antibacterial, should keep the butter pretty stable and safe for a while. I make myself a new batch when I run out every couple of months.

Want it to be more of a lotion? This whipped body butter works great and can be pumped out of an old lotion bottle.