Freebie Saturday: DIY Body Scrub & Printable Label

Ok, so I know that I’ve told dozens of stories here about how I was “into” certain things “so long ago” and I sound like either a snob or a hipster or some odd combination of both.

I swear, that’s not my goal! I just find it so amusing that things that were “so weird” back then, like quinoa, almond butter, whole wheat pita, and whatever the heck else I’ve waxed hipster about. And now, here I am on Freebie Saturday waxing hipster about some other thing that’s über-trendy right now that I’ve been “into” for so very long.

The summer I turned 17 (this was 1997 people!) my mom bought me a massage and “salt glow” at my still-favorite day spa here in Chicago, Urban Oasis. I remember a few distinct things about that day: 1) I had never had a stranger give me a massage before, and it took me far too long to enjoy it. 2) The salt glow treatment made my skin feel better than it had EVER felt, and 3) Taking a rain shower afterward was life-changing.

So, in 1997, not long after that spa treatment, and long before the days of searching Amazon for the odd products you can’t find anywhere else, my mom and I searched high and low for salt scrubs. For a mere 3 months, Origins sold one, and we stocked up and used it through the winter. It was gloriously orange-smelling, and super-moisturizing. Fast forward to 2013 and now, salt and sugar scrubs are EVERYWHERE. There are expensive ones, cheap ones, delicious-smelling ones, weird-smelling ones… but they have a few things in common: oil, scent, salt or sugar.

DIY Lavender Coconut Body Scrub-2 copy

I wish I’d known when I was 17 that making my own darn body scrub was this stinking easy. I did a little online research and asked at the craft store about ingredients to use, and the general consensus is that coconut oil is the best base for dry skin. It’s been a long winter and my skin is beyond dry, so that’s what I went with. The craft store had some delicious-smelling lavender essential oil specifically for soap and scrub making, so I went with that as well. I used a 3/4 : 1/4 mix of sugar to salt, and a 2:1 mixture of salt/sugar to oil.

DIY Lavender Coconut Body Scrub-1.jpg

I’ll include what I did for my scrub, but feel free to play around with it to match your needs. Different oils work differently, but few are solid at room temperature like virgin coconut oil. I can’t wait to experiment with different scents, but I’m looking forward to smelling like a tropical lavender field for as long as this scrub lasts.

DIY Salt & Sugar Body Scrub

  • 1 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (for a coarser scrub, use sugar in the raw)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (feel free to use all sugar, or more salt, for different levels of exfoliation)
  • 15-20 drops essential oil of your choice (I used lavender)

Heat the coconut oil in the microwave for about 15 seconds so it’s slightly melted and easy to mix. Add in the sugar and salt and stir until combined. Add the essential oil, stir again, and store in a sealed jar in the shower.

To use: Scoop out a small amount and rub into skin. Rinse thoroughly, then rub the remaining oil into your skin after your shower. Use soap when rinsing if you don’t want to rub in the oil. Be careful in the shower too, since oil makes the floor slippery!

I used a cute jar from the craft store, but a regular mason jar or even an empty peanut butter jar would work, as long as you can get your hand in the opening.

DIY Lavender Coconut Body Scrub-3.jpg

Conveniently, last week’s Freebie was a scrubbie, which combined with the body scrub, would make a wonderful gift for most anyone! If you’re gifting your scrub, I’ve made a printable label for you to use. It would look adorable printed on card stock and tied on with some raffia.

Download the printable here

salt and sugar scrub.jpg

So, that’s your Saturday Freebie! Check out all the other Freebie Saturdays!

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What I Love Wednesday



I truly cannot believe that the school year is almost over. It feels like just yesterday that I was saying goodbye to my last group of Duckies and getting ready for my 10th year of teaching. Now, here I am at the end of the year, saying goodbye to another group of 8th graders who I’ve known since they were in 6th grade. Crazy I tell you! Some things I’m loving this week:

1. These beautiful hand-painted stones. I’m thinking they’ll be inspiration for one of the many nature walks I plan on taking this summer with my future Duckies. I love having them find things and then use them in  unexpected ways.

2. 30 Places I’d rather be sitting right now. Seriously, I’ll take any  (or all) of them.

3. I now have a mission in life: tiny tiny tiny crocheted things.

4. This is truly incredible. You’ve probably seen it already, but I still had to share.

5. We can all text “Red Cross” to 90999 to immediately donate $10 to the Red Cross for emergency relief in Oklahoma. There are dozens of other ways to help as well, including all of these and all of these. Keep in mind that two elementary schools were completely devastated, and those teachers will need to start from scratch. Consider giving to to help them out.

6. Because I’m a Spanish teacher nerd, here’s a list of fun Spanish words to try. Current favorite: tiquismisquis (fussy or finicky)

7. John Krasinski and Jimmy Fallon did a Lip-Sync-Off. I laughed way too hard.

8. Harry Potter in 99 seconds. Yep. Still a nerd.

9. I’m kind of obsessed with the monthly sample boxes that a lot of companies have these days. My current fave is Ipsy. Every month, subscribers get a makeup bag, 3-4 full size items, 2-3 samples, and coupons, all for $10.

10. Another funny t-shirt that I just can’t justify buying… both Chicago and Spanish in one!

And, because I love you, here’s a dog and her pet ducks:

This post has been shared on What I Love Wednesday

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Smoky BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

The time has come in the school year when there are a whopping three things on everyone’s minds:

  • How many days are left in the school year (11, not that I’m counting)
  • There are only ___ days left in the school year.

In relation to the 2nd thing on the list, my school building is very distinctly both air conditioned and not air conditioned. I really can deal with the temperature in the building, even in the non-air conditioned classrooms (like mine) because I get used to it. But, when I get home, the very last thing I want to do is turn on the oven to make dinner.

So, thanks to a suggestion from my oh-so-wise, and oh-so-heat-hating husband, this pasta salad was born.

smoky bbq chicken salad

The ingredients for this perfectly delicious pasta salad actually came to me as I was walking through the produce section of the grocery store. I thought about what makes a pasta salad one that I actually eat, rather than one that I pick the noodles out of. I can’t STAND celery or carrots in pasta salad. They’re too crunchy, in my opinion, for something like pasta salad. I love when there’s “surprises” that kind of get hidden in the noodles, like cheese, crunchy bits, peas, corn… And so, with the realization that I had chicken and charcoal at home, this salad was born and subsequently devoured.


As with any pasta salad, you can adjust the ingredients to your own tastes, but unless you’re vegetarian, I wouldn’t recommend it. The balance was perfect. However: it makes a TON. I’m talking my biggest Pyrex bowl, full to the top, and I’d call it at least 15 servings. So I suppose you could reduce the recipe, but again, I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll want that much.

This can, of course, be made with leftover diced chicken, but since I had to cook the chicken fresh, I included those instructions as well.

Smoky BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

by What’s For Dinner?

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: grill simmer entree chicken pasta

Ingredients (12-15 servings)

  • 1 pound whole wheat noodles
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 ounces smoked gouda cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen is good!)
  • 1/3 cup toasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup milk


First, cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Drain, and run under cool water to quickly cool the pasta, then place it in a large bowl.

Add the cheese, tomatoes, corn, crumbled bacon, and sunflower seeds.

Toss well.

(You can skip this next part if you’re using leftover BBQ chicken, or just cooked chicken tossed with BBQ sauce)

Grill the chicken breasts until nearly done, about 6 minutes per side.

Brush liberally with BBQ sauce, then grill another 2 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.

Dice the chicken and allow it to cool.

Add the cooled chicken to the pasta mixture.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour the dressing over the pasta mixture.

Toss well.

Chill for at least an hour, then serve.

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I enjoyed my hefty portion of pasta salad with a cold Samuel Smith organic Cherry Ale. I can already tell that both of these will be making regular appearances throughout the summer!

Just checked…there are still 11 days of school left.
See? Teachers count down as much (if not more!) than the kids do!
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Saturday Freebie: Funky Peony Scrubbie Crochet Pattern

One of my favorite things about springtime is the sudden and overwhelming appearance of peonies. When I was growing up, I knew the end of the school year was coming close when, out of nowhere, the two peony bushes in the back yard exploded into bloom, and we’d cut big bouquets of them for our teachers. We’d wrap wet paper towels around the bottoms of the stem, dunk the blooms in water to kill the ants that LOVED them, and then happily walk to the bus stop, flowers in hand.

The problem with peonies is that their season is REALLY short. Like, three weeks and they’re done short. So, when I saw a crochet pattern for a small ruffly brooch that looked like a peony, I immediately wanted to make one.

But rather than making a brooch (because honestly, I stick one brooch to my coat at the beginning of winter, and half of the time it doesn’t make it all the way through) I wanted to make a “full size” peony something. And so, the peony scrubbie was born.

peony scrubbie

See, the thing about crochet is that it can be very multi-functional. Need a blanket? Crochet. Need a toy? Crochet. Need a new dish scrubber? Crochet. The only thing that changes is the fiber of the yarn. For household things, such as scrubbies, pot holders, trivets, etc. it’s best to use all cotton yarn. I like the Sugar ‘n’ Cream yarn by Lily. It’s thick enough to be substantial, but still manageable and not bulky.

untitled shoot-016.jpg

For this peony scrubbie, I used the hot pink, white, and mod green, but you could use any combinations you like. The stem/leaf/loop combo is completely optional, but I think it adds a nice touch.

This pattern is extremely simple, believe it or not. It contains only single and double crochet stitches, worked in the round, and a tiny bit of sewing for the loop. I used an H-size crochet hook, or 5.0 mm. If you’re worried about difficulty, I’ve been doing a similar pattern on the ends of scarves for approximately the last 15 years, or since I was about 16. Its really easy, I promise.

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You can view the pattern below, or download the free PDF, your choice!

Peony Scrubbie Pattern PDF

This is an original pattern for a cotton peony scrubbie. Feel free to make as many as you want, and sell the final products, just be sure to credit What’s for Dinner? (Mara Rosenbloom) as the pattern creator. Happy crocheting!

Supplies needed:

* 3 balls worsted weight cotton yarn (like Sugar ‘n’ Cream brand) in the color of your choice for the main flower color, edging, and stem

* H-size (5.00 mm) crochet hook

*Yarn/tapestry needle

This pattern is worked in the round. It starts at the center and will expand outward, ruffling as you go. The more rows, the deeper the ruffles.

Stitches used: (U.S. Terms)

SC – single crochet

DC – double crochet

Hdc – half double crochet

Sl St – slip stitch

CH – Chain



Round 1: CH 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Pull the tail to close the hole

Round 2: 3 DC in each SC around (18 DC), sl st in the top of the first DC

Round 3: CH 2, 2 DC in first DC, then 3 DC in each DC around (54 DC)

Round 4: CH 2, 2 DC in first DC, then 3 DC in each DC around (162 DC)

Round 5: CH 2, 2 DC in first DC, then 3 DC in each DC around (486 DC)

Round 6: SC in each DC around (486 sc)

Finish off, weave in ends


Row 1: CH 35

Row 2: ch 1, SC in each ch (35 sc)

Row 3: ch 1, SC in 20 sc, then (1 sc, 1 hdc, 3 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc) in next stitch, sc in next 14 st.

Join two ends together with a few stitches, then sew to the center of the peony.

Fluff the “petals” and use to wash your favorite dishes, or use in the shower. This is machine washer and drier safe!

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{Photo Shoot} Taylor: Senior Photos

Way back in December, my friend Joanne asked me if I’d be able to take her stepdaughter, Taylor’s, senior photos once the weather got nicer. The winter dragged on, and on, and on, and it never seemed like the weather would get nice. Finally, Spring decided to arrive, and Joanne and I set up a time for us to do the photo shoot. We chose a day that was supposed to be beautiful, and our expectations were more than met!

I met Taylor at Deicke Park in Huntley, IL for her shoot, and I was blown away by how lush and green everything was. Taylor was a sport and put up with my odd requests, and in the end, the photos simply show off what a fun-loving and sweet girl she is.


UntitledTaylor and I joked that I should put her name really big and glowing in one of the pictures…so I had to!

I had so much fun with this shoot, and I’m loving the trend of more casual Senior Photos instead of the stuffy portraits with the laser background from when I was in school! Thank you Taylor, for the opportunity to capture your last weeks in high school.

I’d love to hear your opinions on these!


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Posted in Photo Gigs, photography, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments