DIY College Survival Kit

As the only child of two adults who never obtained a higher education (they started their own business instead), I didn't have even the slightest taste of college until I was unpacking my things and settling into my dorm room as a freshman. I brought countless "college essentials" that year, including a curling iron holder and multiple (yes, multiple) shower caddies, and yet there were still a few things that I probably could have used that first semester...or any semester, actually.

A lot of these items that I've now deemed must-haves, I never would have boughten for myself or even have thought I would have wanted...

And that's where this college survival kit comes in. It's a great gift both from parents to children or from friend to friend. And the best part? It's super easy to put together. Here's some ideas to get you started:

1. Face masks & Bath products

Most students won't hesitate to tell you that college can be stressful, and pampering products such as individual face masks and bath salts can make all the difference after a long day of classes. Try to choose certain scents and ingredients that promote relaxation and/or sleep for an added bonus!

2. emergency chocolate

Everyone can use an emergency chocolate bar, right? 

3. TRAVEL MUG

Coffee might be one of the only things that gets college students through those nasty 8 a.m.'s, so a travel mug is an absolute essential.  

4. fuel gift card

Between classes, sports teams, student organizations, etc., there's a lot of running around at college. Plus, staying on campus 24/7 can be quite the bore. That's why any college student with a car will appreciate a Fuel Everywhere Visa gift card. This is a great way to help out practically and make sure you're adding something to your survival kit that's a true necessity. You can pick up these fuel cards from Gift Card Mall at your local grocery store or online at www.giftcardmall.com!

5. PROTEIN BARS

Like coffee, protein bars can give a much needed boost during an early class or late night of studying. Not to mention, these snacks will be even more appreciated as the semester wears on and students tire of the dining halls. 

6. mini dry shampoo/cosmetics

Ever pulled an all-nighter studying? Most students have, and let me tell you...it does not look cute. Travel-sized cosmetics and dry shampoo might not feel like essentials at first, but they can be total face savers when you've spent days without leaving the library or showering. 

What would you put in a college survival kit? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! 

P.S. Don't forget to head over to Gift Card Mall to shop that Fuel Everywhere Visa gift card along with many others!

 

This post is sponsored by Gift Card Mall. As always, all opinions are my own. I would never jeopardize my reader's trust by representing a brand I didn't truly believe in. Thank you for supporting the brands and businesses that keep The Blonde Chiffon's doors open!

Best Summer Drink Recipe: Strawberry Coconut Water Lemonade

Though I've gotten much better at getting in my daily 64 oz. of water, there are times when cravings for sweet and playful beverages hit me like a ton of bricks. For one, I love lemonade. Always have, always will. It's the first thing I look forward to at any festival or carnival I hit up, and I don't allow myself to feel guilty for these sugary indulgences since they are so few and far between. Festival lemonade also gleefully reminds me of being a kid again, so sipping on it every once in awhile is a tradition that I'm all too happy to keep going, no matter how many delightful grams of sugar are involved.

That being said, I also like to have DOTW (drinks other than water, ha!) on hand regularly...they just aren't as sugary and disruptive as carnival lemonade. Unsweetened iced tea and seltzer water are usually enough to quench any DOTW craving, but last week I had a major urge for some strawberry lemonade. There was no way in hell I was going to buy any of the super processed, high fructose corn syrup doused store-bought brands, so I thought I'd give making my own a whirl.

And guess what? It was a smashing success. 

By incorporating just four natural ingredients, I was able to make a healthier and more hydrating version of strawberry lemonade than if I had gone to the store to purchase some. Not to mention, it tasted much better since it was so fresh.

INGREDIENTS:

- 20 strawberries

- 6 lemons

- 1 box coconut water

- 2 tbs. agave nectar (or preferred natural sweetener)

DIRECTIONS:

- Juice the 20 strawberries and 6 lemons

- Add all ingredients to a pitcher and stir/shake/mix

- Enjoy!

Here are a few things to know about the ingredients in this recipe: 

Strawberry Juice: According to this source, strawberry juice contains several nutrients (namely vitamin C and folate) that can help promote long-term health and reduce the risk of cancer. The high vitamin C content in strawberry juice also aids in boosting collagen production, which is great for both healthy, youthful skin and the overall strengthening of tissues in the body. 

Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is a great ingredient for balancing the body's pH, and also offers loads of vitamin C and potassium. The pectin found in lemon juice has also been shown to aid in weight loss struggles (source). 

Coconut Water: Coconut water is a great low-cal alternative to sports drinks, and does an excellent job of hydrating the body (source). It also contains antioxidants and cytokinins, which may help to slow down the aging process. 

Agave Nectar: Agave nectar is 1.4-1.5 times sweeter than sugar, so you'll need less of it than traditional sweeteners. It's also naturally gluten free with a low glycemic index. However, it's not necessarily more nutritious than sugar or honey, so do your research and decide which sweetener you're comfortable using in your kitchen. This is what I had lying around, but there's plenty of options out there! The point of making your own lemonade at home is not only because it tastes better, but also because you get to choose what goes in and what doesn't. 

Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments below! Is anyone else obsessed with traditional carnival lemonade like I am? #guiltypleasure

Also, don't forget to stay tuned below for more behind the scenes access and exclusive recipes! 

Happy monday!

xx,

Holly 

How to Create the Perfect Nighttime Skincare Routine

It wasn't until very recently that I enacted a nighttime skincare routine. Ain't nobody go time for that, right? Until recently, my evening ritual simply involved steaming in the hot shower until I felt like I was going to pass out, and then maybe, on a good day, following up with some moisturizer. How can I even be considered a beauty blogger with a "routine" like this? I don't know, but hopefully ya'll can take a page from my book and avoid some of the beauty and skincare mishaps that I have. 

Needless to say though, this non-routine didn't work out. When I started having some random acne flare-ups this summer, I decided to get my a** in gear and really figure out a nighttime skincare schedule that worked for me. And now? My skin's never been quite so flawless. After all, our skin is the largest organ (yes, organ) in our body, so why neglect it?

Here are a few easy-to-implement tricks to help improve your skin and establish a luxe nighttime routine you'll love:

Benefit-Face-Mask

invest in a quality face mask

Face masks are great for a few reasons. According to Elle Canada, they're the most concentrated, and results driven products for your skin on the market. There's also a never-ending list of probs that masks can be used to combat, such as dry, oily, acne-ridden or aging skin, just to name a few. 

Not sure what you're even looking for? A great place to start is with a detoxifying mud mask. There's so many pollutants in the air, and let us not even mention the chemicals found in many makeup and skincare brands, so a good detox is pretty safe bet. Otherwise, look for a mask that can specifically target issues you're having with your skin. This one is perfection if you're having a bad skin day and experiencing some random acne like I was.  

| SEE ALSO: | DIY Chocolate Face Mask |

MORE MASKS: 

utilize bath bombs & salts as more than a relaxation tool

I'm a huge, huge, huge fan of bath bombs (as you can tell from here). Of course, they can be super pretty and fun to watch dissolve, but they're also beneficial to your skin and overall nighttime routine. A lot of bath products contain moisturizing elements that can work wonders, as well as essential oils that can aid in relaxation and sleep (which are just as important of a nighttime beauty practice as topical treatments, if not more). Just make sure you're checking the ingredients of the items that you do decide to use, since there can be a lot of junk in bath and beauty products nowadays! 

DIY TIP: It's also super easy to DIY your own relaxing salt soak! Just add 1-2 cups of epsom salt to the tub along with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. 

MORE BATH PRODUCTS:

GET IN THE HABIT OF DRY BRUSHING

I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it again...and again, and again. Dry brushing is amazing. Not only does it slough off dead skin, but it can help to improve circulation and even reduce the appearance of cellulite. I've been saying that I'll do a full in-depth post on dry brushing forever, but until then just know that it seriously is incredible for your skin. I was absolutely skeptical at first, but now find myself practicing it religiously pre bath time. Just remember to work from your feet upwards, in a circular motion, moving towards your heart. You can also apply a scrub like this if you'd like to expedite the exfoliating process. 

DIY TIP: There's tons of DIY sugar scrub recipes you can make at home to avoid splurging...

| 3 Ingredient Brightening Honey Lemon Sugar Scrub | The Best 5 Minute, DIY French Vanilla Coffee Body Scrub

MORE SCRUBS & BRUSHES:

use an in-shower moisturizer

Has anyone else noticed that the beauty world is completely and utterly obsessed with coconut oil right now? It's for good reason. There are so many uses for this natural gem, but one of my favorites is as an in-shower moisturizer. I swear this has improved my skin by a tenfold, and has also helped me reduce costs of buying other moisturizers that don't even work as well. I typically use this ingredient in body scrubs (like this one), but you can also use it alone.  A lot of beauty experts will recommend applying coconut oil post shower, but I'm not a fan because it's literally oil. Therefore, it's going to be greasy #nothanks. Instead, try lathering up with coconut oil in the back of the shower (or while the water's off to conserve some energy). Let it soak for a few minutes and rinse it off right before you hop out of the shower. You should still feel moisturized but avoid the greasy residue. 

splurge on a face serum

Not everyone understands the power of a good serum. In fact, some don't even know what they really are. Serums are extremely potent skincare products that are designed to be applied after cleansing. They have the ability to deliver super powerful ingredients to the skin and combat a vast array of skincare woes. Though they can run a little bit on the pricier side, you don't need to use very much to see results. It's definitely something worth looking into if you're interested in giving your skincare routine a big boost. 

I'm currently using the Nora Bloom Botanicals Revitalizing Pear & Rhubarb Serum*, which contains ingredients like citrus (brightens), plant collagen (plumps), organic pear juice (speeds up cellular turnover), and rhubarb (improves circulation). I would definitely recommend, especially since the ingredients are organic and the brand focuses on holistic beauty. Got to love that!

Do you have any nighttime skincare tips/tricks? What's your essential nighttime beauty product? I'd love it if you let me know in the comments, so I can try 'em too! 

xx,

Holly

How to Make the Best Healthy Froyo Pops (Without Popsicle Holders)

Maybe you've already guessed by my favorite heart healthy brownie recipe or my three ingredient peanut butter cookies, but I'll wholeheartedly admit that I have a sweet tooth. 

Okay...a major sweet tooth. This is troubling for a variety of reasons (i.e. I just had a cavity filled last week #sadface), but mostly because it completely conflicts with my beliefs about nutrition and beauty. While I absolutely condone treating yo' self every now and then, I hate getting in ruts where I continuously cave to my sugary cravings. It doesn't make me feel good, and it also doesn't make me look good, because it usually means I'm avoiding all of the amazing superfoods that are so potent in natural beauty practices. Ugh. 

Last week though, R's younger sister (who requested to be referred to as 'The Little Chiffon' on the blog -- ha!) introduced me to a new totally guiltless treat to add to my growing arsenal of healthy, yet satisfying sweet snacks. 

Froyo pops. 

healthy-froyo-popsicle-ingredients.jpg

And guess what? You don't even need to invest in those stupid popsicle molds: 

INGREDIENTS

♥ 32 oz Greek yogurt

♥ 2 cups almond milk

♥ 6 cups frozen fruit of your choice

OTHER

♥ Paper cups

♥ Paper straws

I love this recipe because it's just so darn easy. Three ingredients? You really can't beat that. Plus, there's lots of room to get creative with different flavors of yogurt and varieties of frozen fruit. I also imagine there's many other add-ins you could do to make these pops even more nutritious/delicious! Don't be surprised if you see some follow up posts here or on social media (Insta, FB) as I continue to experiment. 

Another thing that I love about this recipe is that it is so packed with protein. You never have to feel guilty about starting your day off with one of these treats, even though it does taste a bit like dessert. These pops are also perfect post workout snacks and a great alternative to processed protein bars and powders. And though you can play around with which frozen fruits to use, load up your popsicles with raspberries and blackberries like I did in the photos for lots of anti-aging and skin boosting antioxidants!

So, here's exactly how to make these deliciously nutritious snacks:

DIRECTIONS

♥ Add yogurt and milk to a bowl and stir

♥ Mix in fruit

♥ Pour about one cup of mixture into each paper cup

♥ Store in freezer for about 15 minutes

♥ Make sure the pops have hardened a little bit, and stick the paper straws in 

♥ Let sit in freezer until frozen solid, and enjoy!

TIP: Rip and peel the paper cup off instead of trying to pull out the popsicle by the stick. You'll avoid accidentally ripping only the stick out and leaving the rest of the pop in the cup. 

Have you ever tried popsicles in a cup? Anything you would add to this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

xx,

Holly

4 Ingredient DIY: Hydrating Watermelon Toner

Nothing says summer quite like a sweet, juicy slice of watermelon. Though this refreshing fruit is nearly 92 percent water, these melons are soaked with nutrients including vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as other nutritional benefactors such as lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids (source). Watermelon is also a powerful tool that can help achieve healthy, glowing skin, due to its hydrating properties and high levels of antioxidants. Love, love, love

And what's more? Chowing down on a few hearty slices of this sweet and delicious fruit isn't the only way you can reap the benefits of this nutritious and beautifying summer snack. Check out this easy at-home toner to start incorporating watermelon into your beauty routine out of the kitchen: 

4 ingredient watermelon toner

One of the greatest things about watermelon as a natural beauty product is that it can be used on its own as a toner. Yup, that's right. One ingredient; DIY beauty has never been easier. That being said, I do have just a few things that I like to add to this hydrating natural toner for a little boost in relieving acne and other skin woes. Here's the sitch:


INGREDIENTS:

♥ 1/2 cup watermelon juice (you can run it through a juicer or a handheld press, like shown here)

♥ 1 tbsp witch hazel 

♥ 1 tbsp water

♥ Drizzle of honey

DIRECTIONS:

♥ Juice the watermelon

♥ Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir until blended

♥ Store in the fridge for up to five days


Do you like, or do you love? I've been obsessed with this toner, just because it's so dang easy. Not to mention I can make it at home and know exactly what I'm putting on my skin. 

Let me know what you think in the comments and how it goes if you try it at home! 

xx,

Holly