Easy DIY Soap Favor

I have been scouring Pinterest for an EASY DIY Soap Favor for months… I never really decided on a recipe so I just settled on buying some organic soap at the Dublin City food co-op and attempted to melt it down in the microwave.

Let’s just say that did not work….And I got that brilliant idea from Pinterest. I figured hey, if this could work with a bar of Ivory, it should work with this good-for-you organic stuff.

Wrong!  It just got burnt and smoked. ha. So I gave it up until I was stateside because you can’t get melt-and-pour soap across the pond very easily.  There aren’t any good craft stores over there.  I am seriously going through withdrawal!

There is no such thing as Michael’s! How can one survive??!! I’m really not sure.

So today I’m sharing the EASIEST DIY Soap Favor ever.  You could simply large batch this for a wedding or shower favor, and your guests will love it!

I spent only $19 on all the stuff from Michael’s and that was without one of their coupons.

Easy DIY Soap Favor 1


  • Goat’s Milk Melt and Pour Soap Base
  • Soap Mold (I got a cheap one from Michael’s but Etsy has some AWESOME ones too.)
  • Dried Lavender
  • Essential Oils (You can use essential or fragrance oils…I used doTERRA essential oils because they’re currently my new obsession)
  • Glass Bowl
  • Spoon

Easy DIY Soap Favor 2

Step 1: Decide how much soap to use and chop it up using a sharp knife.  The melt-and-pour is already scored so it was super easy.  For the 4 bars I made, I melted 12 ounces of soap.

Step 2: Put the soap into a glass bowl and melt it in the microwave at 30 second intervals until it’s a liquid consistency. Stir in between intervals.

Step 3: Use the calculator below to determine how much essential oil to add.  The possibilities are endless…

I used doTERRA Lavender and On Guard essential oils.  Lavender is calming/moisturizing to the skin and On Guard is a blend that kills germs and is great for cold and flu season. You can determine how much essential oil to use in your recipe by clicking this link for a calculator. I liked this calculator because it gave me the amounts for a light, medium, or strong scent.

Easy DIY Soap Favor 3

Step 4: Measure and dump in your ingredients… For the dried lavender I just eye-balled it.

Step 5: Stir it all up.

Easy DIY Soap Favor 4

Step 6: Pour the mixture into the mold and allow to cure for about 60 minutes or so.  If you’re unsure if it’s done, you can leave it overnight (that’s what I did).

Easy DIY Soap Favor 5

Step 7: Flip the mold over and press the soap out carefully.

That’s it!  I think these would look great wrapped in kraft paper and tied with ribbon or baker’s twine in the color of  your choice.

You can see more DIY projects here.

Are you into DIY projects and looking for a wedding photographer?  We might be an awesome fit;)Drop me a line here.

I’m so excited to share these Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos of Bridget and Brian with you!!

The last month has been crazy! My mom visited us in Dublin, we traveled to Donegal and Barcelona, and then I made a trip to Chicago to second shoot for my friend Sarah.  But before second shooting I managed to go shopping, visit with my girlfriends (soul food, seriously!!), and shoot an engagement session.

I first met Bridget when I worked as the speech pathologist at Audubon Elementary School before I got married (2008, but who’s counting…yikes!). Bridget is one of two preschool teachers and her classroom was right down the hall from where my office was.

Bridget is caring and laid back and the kiddos love her.  I always loved the opportunity to work in her classroom or with her kids because she made it easy for me.  And since I had a lot of preschoolers on my caseload, I had the joy of seeing her often.  Let’s just say she’s one of my favorite teachers:)

When I saw the news of her & Brian’s engagement pop up on Facebook, I was secretly pining for an email about shooting her wedding…but I didn’t want to seem like a stalker so I just waited to see if she would contact me. haha. And when she did I was super honored and So SO excited!

Brian is a really ambitious and hard-working guy who works as a Chicago Firefighter and I couldn’t wait to spend time with them at Montrose Harbor and talk all things wedding! The day’s weather called for 0% chance of rain but as our meeting time grew nearer, the clouds rolled in.  I secretly said a prayer and crossed my fingers and we were lucky because the rain held off!

I can’t wait to document these two as they tie the knot in January at City Winery!! Anyone that knows me knows I LOVE wine AND weddings.

Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos

These two made it easy… They were naturals!

Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos
Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos
Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos
Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos

I loved that Bridget decided to have her hair and makeup trial before our session. This gave her a chance to see how her look will photograph prior to the big day.  Plus she just looked awesome too:)

Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos
Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos
Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos

I loved how Bridget and Brian coordinated their outfits! And I couldn’t get enough of Bridget’s colorful scarf and moto-jacket! Brian is looking quite dapper himself.

Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos
Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos
Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos

The colors were FAB at Montrose Harbor this year!!

Montrose Harbor Engagement Session Photos

When the lights came on, we decided to head back over to the skyline for one last shot and I’m so glad we did!!

Are you engaged and looking for a wedding photographer? Drop me a line and let me know how I can help.

And as always, feel free to leave these two some love in the comments!

Today I’m sharing a really unique and awesome Vendor Spotlight with you!! I first met Carlene of Naturally Yours Events when I was second shooting for my friend Julia. Carlene coordinated a gorgeous wedding at the Chicago Yacht Club and what really impressed me was her ability to coordinate a “green” environmentally friendly wedding, without compromising style and vision.

I can be the first one to admit that I probably had too much of many things at my own wedding and the help of a planner would have guided the decision making process regarding what was really needed and necessary.

Carlene is just the person to help coordinate your day while leaving a smaller imprint on the environment, which I love…especially since I’ve been super into recycling and being “green” over the last couple years!

In the words of Jack Johnson, “We’ve got to learn to reduce, reuse, recycle”. If you’re thinking of hiring a wedding coordinator, consider dropping this Chicago Green Wedding Planner a line!!

All images from this post were provided by Tuan H. Bui Photographer.

Chicago Green Wedding Planner Carlene

Tell me about your business- what do you specialize in? We are anything but cookie-cutter planners and think outside the box to create unique and memorable events. We specialize in planning eco-friendly events and can help couples create their special day with less waste and a smaller carbon footprint. This is more than choosing like-minded vendors but also about the way you think about planning. It can be anything from choosing reusable soy-based candles to planning escort cards that double as favors, to using vintage pieces for decor. We have all the greener tips!

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How did you get started? I have always been obsessed with details — whether planning birthday parties at 10 years old, organizing huge trips to midnight showings of super geeky movies, or helping family and friends plan their most important life moments— and I was quickly known as “the planner” among those around me. It wasn’t until after earning a degree in advertising, working for a prestigious wedding photographer, and moving to Chicago that I had that “ah ha” moment: I love to plan events and I rock at it! Pairing my personal and professional commitment to the environment with a passion for details, Naturally Yours Events came into fruition. Now my team and I work with some truly amazing vendors to create unique and stress-free events that are absolutely fun!

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What’s your favorite thing about working in the wedding industry? The wedding industry here in Chicago has some of the best and most hard working people I have ever met. It is full of creative energy and this “do-what-you-love” mentality. Some of my good friends are my competition and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a supportive and warm industry to work in.

How would you describe your business’ style? I would say I am pretty accessible and down-to-earth. I am easy to talk to and get along with but I really get shit done! My clients and I have been known to have a beer or a glass of wine during meetings and generally have fun together.

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How far in advance should clients book your services? I have had clients book farther than a year out and even some as soon as a month out from the wedding day. I would recommend that clients look at booking a planner about a year out. If you are looking for full or partial planning coverage, it is great to work with a planner before you book your venue so we can help you select the perfect one. If you were looking for a day-of coordinator, I would still recommend booking a year in advance. This will allow you to take advantage of all the great tips we provide and our online planning tool.

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Where does your inspiration come from? All over! I really love pairing natural elements with industrial elements and a splash of romance (or whimsy).

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? I love to bike everywhere, try new craft beers, and watch movies at the Music Box with my boyfriend.

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What is one piece of advice you think all couples would benefit from knowing? For those couples who want to be a bit “green” we suggest reducing waste. This can also save some green too! For example, don’t waste money and trees by having multilayered invites with RSVP cards, accommodation cards, activity cards, maps, tissue paper layered upon tissue paper etc. Put this information online on your wedding website! Cut back on waste by not including favors as a lot of guests do not even take them home. No matter how cool they are, we end up packing a ton left over at the end of the night. Go simple with décor and choose elements that can be reused and incorporate those into your centerpieces. Finally, less is more for dessert. You do not need passed petit fours, a candy bar, and wedding cake with ice cream. That’s way too much! If you want a cake, don’t feel like you have to have a piece for each person, some guests won’t even take a bite.

How can clients connect with you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naturallyyoursevents
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nyeventschicago
Instagram: http://instagram.com/nyeventschicago/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nyeventschicago/
Website: http://naturallyyoursevents.com/
Blog: http://naturallyyoursevents.com/blog/

9 Tips for Getting Rest the Night Before Your Wedding

As I was doing my weekly let’s face it, daily “Blog-a-holic” routine (where I scour the internet through a million and one wedding blogs because I’m addicted to all things pretty), I came across a really interesting article on The Knot featuring 9 Tips for Getting Rest the Night Before Your Wedding.

Photo Credit: Grace_Evangeline via Flickr

Well since I’m so calm and not type A, I’m sure you’ll be soooo surprised to learn that one thing I struggled with the night before my own wedding was getting a good night’s sleep. I was so excited/nervous that I just could NOT get decent shut eye!!

Where was this information when I needed it?!  In honor of one of my favorite past times (napping), I’m sharing this article with you today so you can wake up rested and feeling fab on your big day!

My two favorite tips of the 9?

6. Pull the Plug on Your Electronics

For some of us, the blue light found in tablets and phones actually signals daytime to our brains, says Dr. Jordan Stern of The Comprehensive Sleep and Snoring Center in New York, NY. Disengaging from social media, emails and text messages will also draw your mind away from the types of thoughts that can jolt you back into a state of anxious wakefulness. “The idea that one can go from working and doing things to immediately falling asleep is fraught with problems,” Dr. Emsellem says. “It’s really hard to switch modes directly from awake activity to sleep.”

8. Write Down a List of To-Dos

“Our minds are very powerful and if you’re drifting off to sleep, but you start to think and worry, your heart rate goes up, your respiratory rate goes up, you sweat, you get anxious and all of those things are counter-productive to sleep,” says Dr. Emsellem. If your mind is still racing as you’re hopping into bed, get out a pen and paper and write down the list of things that are keeping you up with potential solutions. “One thing I have my brides do the night before the wedding is write down a list of all the things they have concerns about, then jotting down a quick solution,” says Dr. Breus. “The solution could be as simple as calling your planner to deal with the situation in the morning.” As long as your brain feels like you’ve addressed the problem, and created a solution, you have a good chance of letting it go. “The fact of the matter is that you can’t do anything about it at night except worry.”

I always FAIL at pulling the plug on my electronics but once I do, I always end up falling asleep faster and sleeping better.  And my favorite thing??!! A to-d0 list.  Not only does it keep me organized but writing things down allows me to forget about it until it’s time to tackle that specific task.  Keeping a to-do list keeps my anxiety levels to a minimum when I have a lot going on.

Head over to The Knot to check out the other 7 tips for getting sleep the night before your wedding.  The advice is really solid and can help calm a busy mind so you wake up looking like you just had a facial;)

7 Reasons to use a Chicago Wedding Planner

I know what you’re thinking… “I don’t need a wedding planner, I can do everything myself”. Well that’s what I thought too.  And then I became a bride! I was the bride who wanted to be in control and know every little detail about everything that was going on while I was wedding planning. I even went as far as making a huge custom cutting order at the Paper Source because I wanted “Pocket” invitations, and I couldn’t find the ones I wanted anywhere.  So I scored, folded, and put together every single one…All 200 of them.  And then Jon helped me stamp our monogram on what felt like a million little squares.  This was just the beginning…lol.  Let my hindsight be your gain!

Today I’m going to share 7 Reasons to use a Chicago Wedding Planner:

7. You deserve everything to be fabulous on such an important day. Using a wedding planner alleviates you from dealing with an unexpected crisis… and there’s always at least one (Our trolley never showed up and my Dad had to deal with it).

6. A Wedding Planner has several local vendor connections.  The Chicago Wedding Industry in particular is a very supportive and close-knit group.  Using a planner will allow you to take advantage of their personal professional network of trusted vendors, all of whom have fabulous reputations.  Your wedding planner will have the perfect set of vendors to align with your wedding vision.

5. You have a vision for your wedding day and a planner will bring that vision to fruition.  We all have an idea of how we WANT something to look, but making it happen is another story. A great example of this is my website.  I FINALLY hired a designer to bring my vision to life because I was really having difficulty making it happen… and now I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

4. A wedding planner will help plan your timeline for the day, coordinate with the other vendors, and help keep things on schedule so the ceremony is on time, meals come out hot, there’s enough time for photos, and your guests aren’t kept waiting.

3. A wedding planner can offer their advice.  This isn’t their first rodeo.  They know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to weddings.

2. The dreaded budget… A planner will make sure you stick to it by tracking everything and they can often times negotiate deals with other vendors for their clients because of their relationships.

1. STRESS!!! Having a wedding planner makes the experience so much more enjoyable! My personal experience planning my wedding was super stressful because I was so into the details and completing so many projects on my own… it totally took over my life. Guest lists, table planning, favors, paper suites, linens, flowers, etc.  I had a hand in all these things.  It would have been SOOO nice to have a consultant help me bring the day to life rather than do so much myself. I also really relied on my mom and aunts a TON on the wedding day and it would have been really nice if they could have just enjoyed themselves.  Instead my aunt was trying to get the linens company to iron all the table clothes because they were so wrinkled, they looked like someone threw them in a ball on the floor.  She even went as far as ironing them herself.  I was very thankful for the help, but wish she wouldn’t have had to do all that. She was almost late for the ceremony because of it.

Investing in a wedding planner is one expense you won’t regret because of the many benefits you’ll receive!!  Know someone planning a wedding?  Share this post with them:)

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