DIY Sudafed Shower Soothers

A few years ago I tried an amazing product by the makers of Sudafed called Shower Soothers. These awesome little disks got me through so many sinus infections! One little disk in my shower completely cleared my nose, let me breathe, and helped all the gunk drain from my sinuses. They worked better than any antibiotic or over the counter medicine ever did. And then one day suddenly they were gone from the shelves at every pharmacy! You can occasionally find them on amazon for nearly $50 for 3 disks! WHAT?!

 

I figured there had to be a way to make them myself, but I didn’t know how to go about it. Then I found this great little tutorial by Frugal by Choice and all hope returned and just in time! My boyfriend, Patrick, has been feeling slightly under the weather and we have a wedding party get away to attend this weekend in the Dells. So perfect time to try these babies out!

While Frugal by Choice’s tutorial is a good one, I did have to make some changes here and there to make these work for us, and I did make one mistake that I will definitely be changing in the future. But all in all I’m very happy with the results!

What you’ll need

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  • Baking Soda about 1 1/2 cups
  • Water about 2/3 cup
  • Essential Oils: Rosemary, Lavender and Eucalyptus, which I purchased at my local VitaminShoppe
  • A large mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • One table spoon for scooping
  • Muffin tray and liners

First, preheat your oven to 350F. By the time you’re done with the other steps, your oven will be good to go!

Then I added my Baking Soda to the mixing bowl and slowly added my water. The original tutorial called for 1 cup Baking Soda and 1/3 cup of water, but I found to fill the muffin tray completely I needed about 1 1/2 cups of soda and 2/3 cups of water. Add your water slowly. The consistency should be like pancake batter. Once you have a good mixture stop adding your water and stir to thicken up the mixture.

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Now, scoop your mixture into your muffin tin, using one table spoon scoops per disk. Make sure you are using liners around your disks, otherwise getting these babies out won’t be easy! Here’s where I would do things a little differently next time! I used paper liners, like the ones that decorate your cupcakes. I found that once these baked up and cooled, some of the paper stuck to the bottom of the disks. Not THAT big of deal, I will just have to make sure they don’t go down the drain once these have dissolved in the shower If you can find the thicker metallic ones that have the wax paper liners, I would recommend using those. But they may be a little more expensive.

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By this time the oven should be heated up and ready to go. Place your disks in the oven for 20 minutes.

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After your 20 minutes in the oven, remove the disks from the heat.

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Add a few drops of each oil rosemary, eucalyptus, and lavender to each disk. If your disks are still piping hot from the oven you may notice some steam or “smoke” come off of each one when you add the oil. This is fine, it won’t affect the out come.

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Now, let your disks cool before removing them from the liners. I put mine in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until they were completely solid. Once they have cooled, pop them out and store in a plastic or glass container until it’s time to use them. Just toss it on the shower floor and get ready to feel amazing!

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These are even great if you aren’t feeling under the weather, but want a little “spa treatment” at home. They can irritate the eyes a little so be sure to avoid standing directly over the vapors.

I hope you found this tutorial as easy, fun and useful as I did! If you have any other suggestions for how to make these better, please feel free to leave me a comment!

🙂 Mandy

NiteDreamerDesigns

Handcrafted Swarovski Jewelry

Jewelry that Makes a Difference

 

Spring is in the Air and in Fashion!

Spring time is the best time to reinvent your style with the latest trends and colors. Make sure your jewelry keeps up with the latest trends as well. This year the color pallet created by designers includes turquoise, violet, tan, and coral. I’ve been hard at work to bring you all the perfect colors and styles for spring. Here’s a peak at what I’ve been up to!

The Turquoise

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The Emma- Light Turquoise Swarovski Crystal Stretchy Bangle Cuff

– Made with all Swarovski Crystals in Light Turquoise rondelles and opaque matte finish turquoise bicones. These crystals are all woven together along three stretchy bands.

 

 

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The Carrie- Deep Turquoise Swarovski Crystal Sex in the City Inspired Necklace

-Made with Deep Turquoise Swarovski Crystal Rondelles and sterling silver chain, this necklace is inspired by a piece worn by Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw on Sex in the City.

 

The Violet

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The Sophie- Sterling Eiffel Tower Charm and Purple Swarovski Crystal Heart Charm Necklace

-This necklace is perfectly stunning with its sterling silver Eiffel Tower Charm and Swarovski Crystal Heart along a sterling silver chain.

 

 

 

 

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The Amelia- Violet and Sapphire Swarovski Crystal Woven Bangle Bracelet

-Made with Swarovski Crystal Bicones in Violets, Whites and Sapphires to blend together into a perfect color gradient.

 

 

The Tans

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The Zoey- Turquoise and Chocolate Swarovski Crystal Flower Tennis Bracelet

-Made with Turquoise AB2X and Chocolate Brown Swarovski Crystals accented with metallic copper seed beads.

 

 

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The Lily- Topaz Swarovski Crystal Flower Ring

-Made with Smoked Topaz AB2X bicones and Topaz rondelles all accented with copper seed beads.

 

 

 

The Coral

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The Maddy- Deep Coral and Siam Red Swarovski Crystal Rivoli Ring

-Made with Light Rose, Deep Coral AB2X and Siam Red Swarovski Crystal bicones all wrapped around a crystal Swarovski rivoli.

 

 

 

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The Elizabeth- Indian Pink Swarovski Crystal Pillow Top Ring

-Made with Swarovski Crystal Indian Pink bicone crystals and sterling silver rounds.

 

 

Make this spring bright and colorful!!

🙂 Mandy

NiteDreamerDesigns

Handcrafted Swarovski Jewelry

Jewelry that Makes a Difference

Care Packages!

BkLCSG3CMAAJhSM.jpg largeAs some of you know, I recently moved to a new town in Glendale Heights, IL. I’ve decided to send out some care packages to get to know some of the local businesses in the area and introduce myself and the business. So I’ve been busy putting together some fun spring inspired samples, because we Chicagoans are SO READY for spring! Here’s an example of one of the care packages I’ve put together and will be shipping out this week.What do you guys think? What do you do to connect with people and businesses in your area?

If you know of any businesses that showcase local or independent designers and artists please let me know, I’d be glad to get in contact with them. Or if you run a business and are interested in networking, again, please contact me. I’d love to branch out some more!

Happy shopping everyone!

🙂 Mandy

NiteDreamerDesigns

Handcrafted Swarovski Jewelry

Jewelry that Makes a Difference

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Last Chance Before the Abby Goes Back into the Jewelry Box!

Last Chance Before the Abby Goes Back into the Jewelry Box!

This is your last chance to own the Abby Swarovski Crystal and Pearl ring before it returns to the jewelry box 3-30-2014! Hurry before times runs out!

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The Lily Flower Crystal Topaz Ring

The Lily Flower Crystal Topaz Ring

Topaz Swarovski Crystal flower ring, the PERFECT spring time accessory. Available at http://www.NiteDreamerDesigns.Etsy.com

Coming Soon! Like Tomorrow!!

I wanted to give you guys a little preview of some of the pieces I will be posting to Etsy here in the next few days. I’m hoping for them all to be posted tomorrow, but the boyfriend and I do have plans that will keep me out of the house for a bit tomorrow so I can’t PROMISE anything! But I will certainly try my best!

ImageMeet the Zoey. This first piece is made with all Swarovski Crystal Elements (like all of my pieces! :p) in Turquoise and Topaz with Copper seed bead accents. I love the color combination for spring. Turquoise is one of my favorite spring/summer colors! This bracelet ends with a dark copper lobster claw clasp and a couple of little crystals dangle off the clasp for a little added cuteness. 🙂
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Next up is the Maddy. I love with cute fashion ring for spring. The flower pattern to it makes it the perfect weekend out with the ladies accessory. This sweet heart pink ring is made with Swarovski Crystals in light rose, deep coral and siam red. These bloom around a white rivoli crystal center. The band is made of sterling silver beads on a stretchy band, so it fits perfectly regardless of which finger you want to wear it on! Super cute, super chic, super shiny!

 

So guys that is a taste of the pieces coming up in the next few days! Be sure to check them all out at http://www.NiteDreamerDesigns.Etsy.com

Happy shopping everyone!

🙂 Mandy

NiteDreamerDesigns

Handcrafted Swarovski Jewelry

Jewelry that Makes a Difference

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Sharing the birthday love today with a nice discount

Hey Everyone! Today is my 27th birthday (yay) so I thought I would pass a little deal on to everyone this year. Today and tomorrow save 27% off your entire purchase at www.NiteDreamerDesigns.Etsy.com with coupon code BDAY27Image

Happy shopping everyone! 🙂

NiteDreamerDesigns

Handcrafted Swarovski Jewelry

Jewelry that Makes a Difference

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Custom Jewelry for the Perfect Holiday Gift!

We’ve made it to November-already somehow! If you’re anything like me, you have NO IDEA what you’re going to do for your loved ones this holiday season. I have a couple of ideas for people this year, but no real ideas that have really struck me yet. I try to shop small during the holidays. It’s easy to go to a big box store and get meaningless gifts for everyone on my list in one trip. But it’s never really what I want to do for those I love during the holidays.

Thankfully, there’s Etsy and so many mom and pop stores locally here that I can find items that will really mean something and have a lasting impression for years to come. If you can, try to shop small this holiday season. You’ll be surprised how cost effective shopping small can be and how much of a difference you’ll make in the lives of small businesses/artists when you do. Also, you’ll be giving a gift that is unique and special and actually says “you mean something to me.”

Many Etsy stores take custom order requests. but during the holiday season make sure that you give the artist time to create your piece and get it shipped to you in time. Last season I had a customer contact me on December 23rd and wanted to know if they could get a custom created piece to them before Christmas day! SERIOUSLY?! I try to work with my customers as much as possible, and the holidays are no exception, but it just wasn’t possible! I felt terrible, but there was just no physical way to make that happen.
This year, I am requesting that all custom pieces be placed with me before or on December 1st to guarantee completion and delivery prior to Christmas. I will still take custom orders year round, however I may not be able to have the item to you if an order is placed after the 1st. I try to plan for USPS taking up to 2 weeks for domestic items during the holiday season. I have yet to run into an issue with USPS, however I hear so many horror stories from so many others! I’d rather be safe than sorry! :p

Shop Small! It really means a lot to everyone involved! I accept a number of payment methods including: personal check or money order; credit card payments via Paypal and Etsy Direct Checkout; I am now accepting Etsy Gift Cards as well! Stop by and share the love this season!

Happy Beading Everyone!

Mandy of NiteDreamerDesigns

NiteDreamerDesigns

Handcrafted Swarovski Jewelry

Jewelry is More than a Pretty Piece

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Know Your Camera to Make Your Jewelry Pictures ROCK!

So you’ve made a stunning piece that you need to photograph, but the pictures just don’t do it justice. Why not?   

A lot of people jump to the conclusion that the problem is the camera itself, it’s too old, it’s not expensive enough, the lens isn’t good enough. I beg to differ. Chances are  it’s not the camera, but the settings on the camera that haven’t been adjusted for the piece.

Initially I thought as most people did: My camera just sucks, I need a new one! Luckily, before I shelled out another $200.00+ on a new camera, I decided to browse the Etsy blogs to see if there were any tricks I needed to try. I am so grateful to those that took the time to post their tips and saved me the extra money! So I’ve complied my favorite tips here so hopefully others can run with these and take great pictures too!

LIGHTING– While I was reading through the Etsy tutorials on photographing, one thing everyone seemed to agree on was use of a light box, a daylight bulb and a pleasing background. So after seeing CRAZY prices for a light box, I decided to create my own, as I wrote about in my blog post.

If you’re not working with a stable lighting source, like a light box, it’s time to invest in one. I created mine for less than $10.00 and took less than an hour to put together! It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to work!

MACRO MODE– Macro mode is your best friend when photographing anything up close. “Macro” actually means large, so it’s unusual that you’d use a “large mode” to photograph something small and up close. However, what this mode is doing is it’s allowing the smaller objects you’re photographing to come into a larger scale.

This setting can be found in a number of places depending on the make and model of your camera, however, it is always designated by a flower symbol (pictured). Most cameras will have it along some sort of dial option, or else listed under settings.

Some older or cheaper cameras won’t have a macro mode. Now a days though, you won’t really find a camera that won’t have this option somewhere, even most camera phones have them now. My Android does, it’s actually my back up camera for when my Nikon lithium battery dies!

WHITE BALANCE– The white balance option on a camera allows for the camera to adjust the color contrasts in a photo. Most cameras now will have specific settings depending on the type of light: night time, daylight, florescent, etc. If you’re working with a light box and have purchased a daylight bulb, you may wish to set you camera to daylight.

However, I recommend that with any piece, set up you photo first using the positioning, background and lighting that you will actually be shooting with. Then turn on your camera and look through your view finder or screen while adjusting your white balance settings. You want to chose the setting with the LEAST amount of yellow tinting. You’re colors should be crisp and clear; your whites should be WHITE, not yellow or cream. If you cannot find a white balance that is completely color balanced, chose the best one, and you can edit it later using Photoshop or another photo editor.

PHOTOSHOP– Photoshop is your BESTEST friend in the business. I used to think that editing your photo in any way was sort of cheating. However, as I’ve begun to use Photoshop, I realized how great of a tool it can be to making your jewelry really pop and giving your photos that finalized professional look!

If you’ve never used Photoshop it can be a little intimidating. There’s so many settings it can get confusing! So here’s all you really need to know:

1. Adjusting your Levels. You’ll find this option under IMAGE>>ADJUSTMENTS>>LEVELS

2. With Levels open, you’ll see a mountain type arrangement showing your spread of black and white levels- Foreign language? All you need to know is the little white triangle (marked in red below) under the right hand side of the mountain needs to be moved until it is under the right hand side of the black mountain.

3. You’ll notice that you’re image has brightened up by a decent amount. The more you had to move the white triangle, the greater the different will be in your photo.

4. Now that your levels have been adjusted, it’s time to adjust the sharpness. Go to FILTER>>SHARPEN>> UNSHARP MASK.

5. Your amount should be set to 120%; Radius to 5.0 pixels; Threshold 8.0 pixels. You’ll get a preview of what your photo will look like after the sharpening has been applied.

6. Apply the changes by hitting OK.

7. If your photo isn’t as white or bright as you wanted it, try adjusting your levels one more time. You may also play with some of the brightness and contrast settings until the photo is exactly the way you like it.

I hope some of my tips and tricks help all my crafty beader friends in their journeys to creating better photos to really wow the crowd this holiday season and make the most out of your online store! Remember that while your pieces may be stunning in person and sell like hot cakes off your wrist, it’s harder to imagine the piece as YOURS when you view it online. Your photos need to tell the story of your piece and create an emotional connection with your buyer that makes them go “I NEED this!” Make your store stand out with stunning photos that speak volumes about your pieces.

Happy Beading Everyone!

Mandy of NiteDreamerDesigns

NiteDreamerDesigns

Handcrafted Swarovski Jewelry

Jewelry is More than a Pretty Piece

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DIY Chalkboard

Ah thrift stores!! I am absolutely in love with the new Savers that’s in town. We found fantastic pieces there, including our new couch for $24.99 and an awesome vintage distressed coffee table for $11.99.  So when I decided to make a chalkboard for our new kitchen, there was no doubt I was headed for the thrift store.

I found a great- and by great I mean GAUDY AS HELL- vintage frame at Savers for only a couple of bucks. It was an antique gold that had begun to flake and peel. But the designs along the edges were ornate and the the size was perfect. So we picked it up and headed to Walmart for the chalkboard paint. This was the most expensive part at $3.97.

I began by painting the frame with this lime green I already had on hand from another project some time ago. This color went perfectly over the gold of the frame, I am so happy with how it turned out! It took a couple coats to get the frame the color I wanted. I left it out overnight to dry before attempting to work on the chalkboard itself.

W..a..i..t..i..n..g… is the most horrible experience for any DIYer! It’s so hard to not rush through just to get it done and enjoy it NOW.

The next morning, the frame was dry and the perfect shade. So I decided to tackle the chalkboard. I taped up my frame and was on my second coat of chalkboard paint over the smooth glass top when everything went wrong. 😦

The paint was drying on the patio, I had JUST sprayed and stepped back inside when my neighbor in the unit above me decided to clean out her pots and dump soil ALL over our balcony! It destroyed the glass top because now everything was covered in soil which stuck like glue to the drying paint.

I was not about to give up on this project however. I decided to take off the back of the frame and use the board backing for the chalkboard instead. I must admit that I stabbed myself with a few of the staples as I was pulling them out of the frame. I also noticed a crack beginning in the glass, so out of this mess up, it probably saved us a bunch of broken glass all over our kitchen floor… again. (Kitty broke my serving plate yesterday!)

So I flipped over the backing, sprayed a few layers of the chalkboard paint and again w..a..i..t..e..d.. I finally got to place the board back into the frame and secured it with glue around the edges.

I love creating these projects but OMG do I hate the waiting! I always feel like I’m in the JGWentworth commercials when I’m doing these projects because it’s my project and I need it NOW! But I must say it is well worth it, if you can just get over the waiting period. 🙂

Happy Beading Everyone!

Mandy of NiteDreamerDesigns

NiteDreamerDesigns

Handcrafted Swarovski Jewelry

Jewelry is More than a Pretty Piece

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