March 30, 2015

DIY Pedicure.

I'm not a big fan of going to get a pedicure. I know that most likely makes me the minority here, but it kind of drives me nuts to pay someone to do something I can easily do myself. Plus, I feel like a captive when I'm in the chair. I usually opt to do my own. I get compliments (of course this is by good friends... so they could just be flattering me) and my pedis last.
① Make sure you're starting with clean tools. Lay all your equipment within arms reach. Remove nail polish if you have it on already. Trim your nails to the desired length. Then file to the shape you like best. I use a coarse file first and then a finer file to finish. Make sure to file dry so that you prevent splitting or peeling.

② I sit on the side of my tub and fill the bath with enough warm/hot water to cover my feet. Add a handful of epsom salts and a few drops of essential oils and soak my feet for at least 2 minutes. You can skip this step if you have just taken a shower or bath. * you could use one of those plastic tubs instead of your bathtub.

③ I grab my foot scrubber and give my feet a good once over. I dip my Ch├ęci callus file in a nice salt or sugar scrub and go to work on my heels and balls of my feet all the way to the pads of my toes in a circular motion. I have been using this file for years and it's my favorite. It doesn't remove too much and it has a nice angle so you can really get the dry skin off. Rinse.

④ I put my finger in the salt/sugar scrub and rub it on my cuticles. Then I take a washcloth and wipe it off. I then rub the orange stick or cuticle pusher along the sides of my toe nails to remove any loose or dry skin and push back my cuticles. At this time I also clean under my toe nails. Rinse.

⑤ This is the most important step if you want your pedicure to last (goes for manicures too) apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton square and clean your nails. This removes oil/dirt and makes sure your polish sticks.

⑥ Put on your toe separators. Apply base coat. I set a timer for 3 minutes between each coat because I find it takes less time overall to dry if I do this.

⑦ Apply one or two coats of color with the same 3 minutes between each coat. If you mess up wrap a bit of cotton around your orange stick and dip in remover then use it to clean up your mess. Or use your fingernail to scrape it off or wait until the next time you shower and scrub it off your skin. Ladies choice.

⑧ Apply top coat. After you cover your nail with the top coat make sure your last swipe is going horizontally across the tip. I also find this makes my pedi last until I remove it.

⑨ Work at your desk or make dinner while they dry.

Last tip. Even using regular (even cheap) polish I've had good results and I walk and run a lot. I think that investing in a good base coat and top coat is important. Although I have become a convert to three different nail systems (scotch, l'oreal, formula x). I find that these nail systems will make even a manicure last up to 10 days. 

Do you have any tips? I would love to hear them.

March 4, 2015

Moroccan pouf, or is it a floor cushion?

I have been trying to hunt down the perfect square floor cushion ever since Zeke (my dog) decided he loved Jamie's perfectly understated indigo pouf. Of course I asked Jamie where she got it and of course Tori brought it back from Morocco.

I have had this conversation with several friends.

Me: Of course it's from Paris, Italy, Morocco, Mexico City.
Them: It seems like you should be able to find it here.
Me: Is it really that much cheaper in (fill in the blank)?
Them: I know.
Me: Why the hell isn't the person selling this in (blank) online or at least on eBay (see my kilim pillow collection)?

Well my friends. I haven't made it to the Rose Bowl Flea Market since I've been looking, but as of right now I'm not seeing anything that speaks to me online either. I did come across Le Dreamers and she has a nice where to buy for rugs in Tanger. I went to the website of the rug dealers, but it wasn't loading correctly. I'll have to check it out again.

If you have any tips let me know. Also I would love to hear about things that you were wanting, but not willing or unable to travel to purchase, that you found.

February 3, 2015

Cozy Winter.

I love to get cozy. It hasn't been very wintery here in Southern California this winter, but it hasn't stopped me from snuggling up. 

I invested last year in some really nice bedding and I've been so glad I did. It's amazing how great it feels to get into bed in between crisp sheets. Mostly my routine has been to light a candle, get under my softest throw with my perfect little lap warmer (Zeke), grab a good book, and a nice cup of herbal tea. After I'm all settled, don't even think of bugging me for at least a couple of hours.

Anyone have any new rituals that you have been getting cozy with?

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

January 23, 2015

Essentialism, Minimalism, and Life.

OK, mostly this has to do with my reading and listening list lately. It all started with wanting to cull down my wardrobe, which was spurred by an email from Jessica containing a link to Into-Mind. I sent her a text the next day and I was giving away bags of clothes. I have zero regrets. I have less stuff, less stress when dressing, and I have continued to hone in on what I want. It has really curbed my inner want monster.

That changed my view of a lot of things. I realized I had been on this path for some time. I've picked up some old books on my shelf and reread a couple, listened to Essentialism (and bought the book), started reading Tidying Up. I feel like I've learned so much. It's been one aha moment after another and it really comes down to priorities and how you want to spend your time.

I have so much more perspective on how and why when I spend my time on my top priorities (myself, family, friends) I feel so much better. Things get easier. My business goals flow better. Taking care of myself and family feels like less of a chore. I can take a big sigh of relief.

This journey has brought me into an awareness practice that I hope I never exhaust.

I highly recommend the following if you have been struggling with being distracted, accumulating too much crap, saying yes to things only to dread doing them, finding yourself busy and still not accomplishing the things you want to do.
I have always prided myself on being a yes person. I want to say yes to life. I'm in the affirmative, but I have come to realize that saying yes to everything has lead to me having to say no to things that I would rather do. I am so much happier now that I'm slower to yes and quick to no.

Anyone else been down this path? Lessons learned?

image via: Jan Erik Waider


December 31, 2014

Happy New Year.


I'm pretty excited for the New Year. The end of this year has been great. I've been relaxing a lot, thinking, dreaming of what I would like 2015 to look like for me. While doing said lounging I came across these beautiful minimalist planners. Aren't they pretty? I already have a datebook for this year, but if I didn't I would be ordering those now.

The quote above really fits my state of mind right now. I am full of optimism and possibility, but narrowing everything down I would like to do and work on feels a little impossible. Then again who am I to say what is possible and what is not?

Here's to growing and sharing another amazing year. Chin, chin.

December 14, 2014

DIY Cider Fire Water.

I just started making Cider Fire Water this year and I'm addicted. So is anyone else I've given it to. I have had good results from avoiding colds to getting rid of bloat from overindulging (hello holiday eating).

It works because the raw apple cider vinegar extracts all the goodness from the 12+ veggies, fruits, herbs and spices you put in it and shake for 3-6 weeks and makes a perfect antibacterial, antiviral, immunity-boosting, congestion ridding cocktail.

I take it by just shooting it. Sometimes I take a little water after I shoot it, but I don't mind the flavor. In fact some people make salad dressing and marinades out of it. It's in short supply over here, so I haven't used it to cook with, but people do.

I have used the recipe from here with a couple adjustments. Also this is a great video showing a variation of the cider fire water. If you don't want to wait the 3-5 weeks you can order some here. It's a little pricy, but so are all the ingredients you have to source. There's no shame in outsourcing.


try to source organic whenever possible. makes about 16 ounces.

½ cup peeled and diced horseradish
½ cup peeled and diced garlic
½ cup diced onion
¼ cup diced ginger
¼ cup peeled and diced turmeric
1 habanero chile, split in half
1 orange, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
½ lemon, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
½ cup chopped parsley
2 T chopped rosemary
2 T chopped thyme
1 T rosehips
1 t black peppercorns
2 to 3 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
¼ cup raw honey, or more to taste 

Place all of the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices in a clean 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vinegar, covering all the ingredients and making sure there are no air bubbles. Cap the jar. If using a metal lid, place a piece of parchment between the jar and the lid to prevent corrosion from the vinegar. Shake well.

Let the jar sit for 3 to 6 weeks, shaking daily (or as often as you remember).

Strain the vinegar into a clean jar. Add honey to taste. You can refrigerate, but I go through it so fast that I don't.

Some additions or substitutions you could make:

Star Anise
Coriander Seeds
Schisandra Berries
Beet Root Powder
Habanero Powder
Bird's Eye Chili Powder
Whole Chili Peppers

Let me know if you make it. Or better yet take a picture of your process and tag me on instagram @desimckinnon I would love to hear your results.

October 28, 2014

DIY Basic Kombucha with a Second Fermentation.

Let's just say I have a few fermentation books. Wild Fermentation, Nourishing Traditions and Mastering Fermentation. I think I've even gotten rid of a couple. Plus there's other cookbooks that have sections on it. So when I saw Fermented: A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foodsat the library I flipped through it, checked it out, but didn't think I was going to learn that much.

I was WRONG. I love this book. Might even buy it, but for now I'm just really enjoying fermenting out of it. Jill Ciciarelli, the author, really breaks stuff down into information my brain has been able to absorb. As a result I was finally able to brew kombucha in my little kitchen without issue and get bubbles. Not just some bubbles, but effervescent like GT's bubbles.

This is huge for me. I have quite a kombucha habit. I use it as a reward for going and braving the crowds at Wholefoods. Or for a pick me up. I think it costs me about $20 a week. That adds up friends.

Hopefully I can share what I have learned.


Get one from a friend ( thx Shelly ). Or purchase a Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Kit.

Starter Tea
You need a small about of kombucha to brew a fresh batch. Hopefully your friend gave you some with your SCOBY, but if they didn't get some plain kombucha from Wholefoods or some other retailer. I would suggest getting GT's original in the brown containers.

Glass Jar for Fermentation
From 1 quart to a gallon. If you are local you can grab a one gallon jar from the Fermenter's Club or at Peoples. You can also order online.

Almost any tea will do, as long as it's actually tea from the Camellia sinesis plant ( with rooibos being the exception ). I will suggest that you start with black tea to build your confidence. Black teas are great. Assam, darjeeling, ceylon. Green Tea. Oolong Tea. White Tea ( I wouldn't use this until you are ready to go pro ). Rooibos Tea or Red tea. Unflavored is best. Try to always use organic teas because the pesticides from conventional teas can mess with your SCOBY's ecology and frankly your body's ecology. You can get nice quality teas online or from a local retailer.

Plain, ol' white sugar works nicely, but if that gives you the creeps, use organic raw cane sugar. I use organic raw cane sugar and so far, so good.

Cover for Jar
You can use coffee filters, thin dish towels, old handkerchiefs, muslin, or linen napkins. Just don't use cheesecloth because fruit flies are bastards and they will mess with your Mother. Don't mess with Mom. Secure cloth of your choice with a rubberband.

I use old GT bottles because I have them and they are easy to clean. You might like flip-tops. I like 16oz bottles because the serving size is just right for Josh and I.

Funnels, Straws and Juicers
Funnel for bottling. Straws for sipping to see if your brew is ready. Juicers for well... juice. All of these are nice for obvious reasons, but not necessary.


1 gallon of filtered water
⅓ cup of loose-leaf organic tea or 6-8 tea bags
1 scant cup of sugar
½ - 1 cup of starter tea

1. Heat water to just shy of boiling.
2. Brew tea. Usually 3 to 5 minutes, but it depends on your preference and the type of tea you are using. Remove Tea.
3. Add sugar and stir until it's completely dissolved.
4. Cool tea to room temp. ( your tea needs to be cool or it will kill your SCOBY )
5. Pour the tea into glass jar.
6. Add SCOBY and starter tea to tea sugar mixture. Secure cover with rubberband.
7. Put jar in a well-ventilated, warm ( 70ish degrees ), dry place that's not dark. Light and warmth will aid the bacteria and yeast in their sugar eating dance.
8. Let your kombucha sit out for anywhere from 5 days to a few weeks to ferment. I start checking at 5 days. I taste to see if most of the sugar has been eaten and if it's tart enough for me. You can also test with ph strips and when they read 4.0 to 5.0 it's done.
9. Bottle and reserve a cup of tea to start your next batch.


Doing a second ferment will enhance the flavor of your kombucha and hopefully give it some fizz. You can add another ½ teaspoon of sugar or the equivalent of 2 grams of sugar in juice form to 16 oz of finished kombucha. For instance 2 teaspoons of raw orange juice or 1 tablespoon of pear juice. This is where you get to be creative. Leave out on the counter for 3-5 more days. Refrigerate. Enjoy.

Be careful opening after a second fermentation because pressure can build. You can open over a sink to be on the safe side. I haven't had one explode, but I don't want to have it happen either.
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