Sugar & Salt Scrub – Essential Oils

I had some mama friends over the other night and we made some sugar and salt scrubs with coconut oil and essential oils. We had an evening together in sharing a meal, conversation, encouragement, stories, prayer and making little essential oils items for everyone to take home. I wanted the mamas to take something home that would be nourishing for their body so we made these scrubs with a mix of sugar and salt. I find salt by itself is just too course and sugar is not course enough. When combined with coconut oil it keeps your skin moisturized after the graininess has been rinsed off. And of course using pure essential oils is a major plus when putting it on our skin as it not only benefits the look and feel of our skin but our health internally and well being.

I had left over jars from our mama night so I had my two younger ones help me create a larger batch and they got to help measure, mix, pour and count. Hmmm, could we count this as school? I don’t see why not!

The oils I chose were Balance, Bergamot and Peppermint.

I chose Balance because it’s the grounding blend. I could have also used Adaptiv which has very similar affects as Balance. The other day my right eye had a visible twitch under it so I grabbed out Adaptiv, rubbed a drop behind each of my ears (on those little protrusions behind the ears), took a deep breath and you know what happened? The twitching stopped! Seriously, it was pretty instant.

The next oil I chose was Bergamot. It is a mix between a lemon and orange so it has those uplifting benefits as well as being able to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. And because Bergamot is a mix of citrus it is beneficial in breaking up congestion and phlegm.

The third oil I used was Peppermint. I love peppermint and use it for so many things but it can be overwhelming if there’s too much so I wanted to make sure I used enough but didn’t go overboard. I used my nose to determine what the best ratio was for this one. I find peppermint and orange to be an amazing combination. Peppermint clears the airways, can boost focus and energy, relieve headaches and reduce fevers.

If you’d like to purchase your own oils you can find them on My Essential Oils Site. There’s other resources there as well. If you’re looking for more personalized direction then you can schedule a 1 on 1 Consultation with me. I won’t try to sell you anything, I just want to help you figure out what could benefit you and your family.

Are you ready for the Sugar and Salt Scrub recipe? Here you go!

You’ll need:

A large mixing bowl. It’s nice to use a glass bowl you can see through so you know that you’ve mixed everything thoroughly.

1 & 1/4 cups Sugar (we used organic cane sugar)

1 & 1/4 cups Salt (we used fine pink Himalayan salt)

1/2 cup Fractionated or Cooking Coconut oil. You can use any cooking oil that you prefer.

50 drops of Balance

35 drops of Bergamot

25 drops of Peppermint

Stir with a fork

Scoop out the mix to fill 7 jars that are 4.0z each or you can use larger jars if you don’t want to fill as many.

Wipe the rim of the jar clean and then put on the lid.

Tie with a ribbon or piece of twine or jute. You can also add a little label on top, bottom or with the jute.

I call this a scrub for the hands and feet but you can use it on your body as well. It would probably be a bit harsh for the face though.

Have you made your own scrubs before? What oils do you love using?

Note: because Bergamot is a citrus oil you might want to use this in the evenings as citrus oils can make your skin more sensitive to the sun so it is recommended to use in the evenings.

Let me know if you make this and what you think!



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Non-Profits to Know

Does anyone know who coined “Giving Tuesday” into a thing? I don’t remember hearing about it growing up. Typically it was just Black Friday that everyone waited for. It was quite fun actually. A lot of it was like a game of chance trying to get the limited deal. I know many friends who had a tradition and would split up in teams trying to hit as many stores as possible. I only participated in that chaos a few times and it was usually for something extra special.

My very first film camera was from a Black Friday deal that my dad gave up sleep just to wait in line and get for me. Seeing as he was working two jobs at the time I think that was a pretty amazing sacrifice.

I personally think Giving Tuesday should be the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Before everyone goes shopping for all the things, so there’s more in our pockets to actually give. Giving shouldn’t be an after thought, right?

I think it’s nice that we actually have a charitable day but most non-profits stay afloat from continuous monthly contributors.

I want to share some amazing non-profit organizations that might touch your heart. And if they do, I encourage you to partner with them not just once but throughout the year.

Just click on the organizations logo or link to go to their website and learn more about them and donate if you feel called to.

Oh and just so you know, none of these organizations asked or even know that I’m sharing about them. This list is a compilation of organizations I gathered from friends and ones that our family has supported as well.

Helps children and
families break out of the cycle of need into success and
self-sustainability. Southern California
Exist to identify, interrupt & restore those affected by trauma.
Transforming lives, restoring relationships, changing communities together.
We partner with mission organizations in approximately 40 nations.


Christian law firm that take up religious Liberty issues at no cost

His Channel

They started out as trying to set up an orphanage to help rescue kids in Thailand. Once they started working over there, they realized that many children in orphanages had families, who had given them up because they were unable to feed for them, or provide. Their model shifted, and is now to educate and support families, to keep families together. Many women have never learned basic information about their bodies, and so the Charis Project teaches classes on birthing, breastfeeding, infant care, and gentle parenting/ attachment parenting. They have classes to teach basic financial skills and saving, and business classes. They have set up a huge number of savings and loan groups, where groups are able to learn how to save, hold each other accountable, and reach financial goals. They are radically changing lives. Their model differs from so many other organizations that come in to “help” these people, but end up doing more harm than good. People *want* them there. They hire locals, many former students, and have plans to keep expanding. There is more demand for their classes than they can fill! They also provide food for families and expecting mamas.

Not technically a nonprofit but they give portions of their proceeds to conservative causes and they were even at school board meetings to fight against some of the nonsense going on in schools.

Makes life-changing rehab and fitness accessible and affordable to individuals living with paralysis

Essential Oils – A Medicine Cabinet that Smells Good and Promotes Health

I’ve been using essential oils for my family for almost 11 years now. Friends and family will text me asking which oils to use for something specific or if I can make them a roller since I typically have the necessary oils on hand.

Some of my oils knowledge has come by trial and error (quite a bit actually) and a lot of research and reading. There have been times where I reach for the wrong oil or forget I have peppermint on my finger and rub my eye. Yeah… try not to do that. But really, it comes down to knowing what properties the oils have individually and what they can be beneficial for. There are a lot of oils that overlap each other in their uses but because our chemical make-up is so individual sometimes it does take some trial (and error) to figure out what works best for you.

My kids have their own rollers that they use for specific purposes and a couple have even used the oils like an inhaler to open up those airways when they’re not at home. That was super helpful for my daughter when she was busy with theatre with all the jumping, kicking, dancing and singing she was doing.

The kids know the oils help support their body and promote healing and I feel it shows them how to listen to their bodies and take responsibility for their personal health.

Our bodies are taxed constantly and there are so many homeopathic and natural things available to us but essential oils are one of those things that can move into the cells of our bodies and like I said, promote healing and homeostasis. 

This is also why it is important to get pure quality oils that are not filled with “fillers” and tested in small batches to make sure they are pure because if the oil has a pollen or pathogen attached to it… we don’t need that getting into our cells.

Do you use essential oils? Are you interested in learning more about them? Does it seem overwhelming to you? I’d love to help!

Schedule a 45 minute personalized consultation

I am a minimalist at heart so I’m not going to recommend 20 different oils if you really only need a handful.

But once you start using oils, you’re going to notice the difference.

Can’t wait to help you get started on supporting your body from the inside out!



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Essential Oils

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Homemade Paper – Handicraft (Homeschool)

If you’ve ever been part of the Charlotte Mason homeschooling community you’ve heard of Handicrafts before. They are not cut and paste type of crafts but something that requires a learned skill that is useful and can be built upon with attention to detail, practice and perseverance.

Here’s a post from our local Charlotte Mason group that shares about their bi-annual Handicraft Fair and What a Handicraft Is as well as the Ambleside Online post on handicrafts.

This year we’re working through The Precious People curriculum by The Peaceful Press which focuses on ancient world history as well as their cultures. This is part of what we do during our morning time together (ages 4, 7, 10, 13, 15 & 17). As we were studying Egypt we learned how they made paper from the papyrus plant which made us want to explore how we can make paper with what we have available to us.

During one of our morning times we watched some tutorials on how to make paper from recycled paper strips. A few days later I set the task for my 15 year old to make the mold and the deckle with supplies he found in our garage. He pulled out the saw and table and set up the umbrella for some shade (that’s what you call working smart).

On a side note, while we were looking up how to make paper we found someone who made paper from grass, that’s a neat idea.

Here is the finished product using scrap wood, screen and staples. He measured and cut everything on his own. Though he did let the younger ones help with the stapling under his supervision.

We took an old sheet and cut it into strips slightly bigger than the mold. You need one for every sheet of paper you make.

First you shred and soak the paper and then you blend it to create a pulp. You put the pulp into a bin of water and getting the right consistency takes practice. Our first go at it was more successful than our second so we’ll have to persevere and keep practicing.

Sponge the excess water off of the screen so the paper sticks to the sheet.

Here’s a video to show our process and the fun personalities I get to enjoy each day. 🙂

We set heavy things on the sheets because we didn’t want the breeze we get in our backyard to mess up our sheets up paper as they were drying.

The final sheets of paper that we then put between some heavy books to press down and flatten.

Our sheets are thicker because of the screen we used (it’s not a fine screen) which is what we were going for. We want them to be more for water colors/painting.

The kids plan to fold the papers in half and sew them together to make journals to sell and give as gifts.

There you have it, our homemade paper that didn’t cost us anything because we already had the supplies!

I’m excited to see how the final product will look and I’ll make sure to update this once they’ve finished their journals.

What have been some handicrafts that your family has enjoyed? I’d love to hear!

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Wedding Planning – Lets Get Started (Southern California Wedding Photographer)

Yay you’re engaged! Let’s start wedding planning! Where do you start?
The first thing I want to encourage you and your new fiancé to do is sit down and figure out your budget. Yes, I know this is not a super exciting step but it is an important one. If your realistic budget is less than you had in mind, you won’t look at things you can’t afford and will be able to steer clear of major disappointment.
A beautiful wedding can be accomplished with ANY budget. You don’t want to start planning and blow all your budget in one area and have nothing left for something that is really important to you. Hence, the first step of setting a budget, which also leads me into the second step of, listing in order what is important to you.

What’s most important???

If I was able to tell myself almost 19 years ago (actually 20 years ago is when we got engaged) what I know now, the first bit of advice I would give myself would be to hire an amazing wedding coordinator. Because I seriously had no idea what I was doing! My husband and I didn’t have friends getting married at the time. We were the first, other than my brother and sister in law who got married 5 months before us. It’s nice to have someone around that knows what they’re doing because right now is when everyone is going to give you advice about “what you should do…” for your wedding.
You can look through Pinterest or wedding planning websites and they’ll all give you a list of what you shouldn’t forget, which is usually a list of details and people or things you have to find. It will have items such as, colors, season, location/venue, flowers, food, invitations, cake, dress, rings, DJ/MC, photographers, favors, shoes, jewelry, etc.
So now you’ve set your budget, then decide to hire a planner (how much they are involved depends on the package you choose) and now you need to look for a location/venue and a photographer. Yes, pretty much at the same time and no, I’m not just saying that because I’m a photographer (though I might be a bit bias with how important photographs are of your once in a lifetime amazing day!). The reason is, both the photographer and the wedding venue reserve dates a year or more in advance a lot of times, so getting those two things set early on in your planning is important. You want to make sure you are able to choose the venue you envision your day taking place at and are also able to hire the photographers that you are confident will be able to document your day perfectly. Their style should reflect your personality and they should be professional and someone you feel really comfortable with and gets excited about the vision you have for your wedding.
Another bit of advice I would give myself is, don’t worry about everyone else. Maybe that seems harsh, rude, self centered, a bit bridezilla-ish but let me tell you, it is not (unless you go around shouting “It’s MY wedding and I can do what I want”). It is your and your future spouse’s day. Don’t choose the season, date or location for the convenience of others. I wanted an outdoor wedding up in the mountains and thought it would be too inconvenient for family. Maybe I didn’t think they would come. That was silly really. Looking back I’m pretty sure most of them would have made the trek to celebrate our special day. Why? Because they love us and would want to be present for this beautiful day!
The colors, flowers, food, invitations, cake… these are wonderful details… but they are not part of your love story. They play a supporting part… they add beauty, they help tell the story of the day you will make an amazing promise to the one you love, your best friend. (Side note: I will say if you’re wearing your mom’s wedding dress or your husband’s grandma’s wedding ring those type of details are indeed part of your story.)
So don’t get caught up with the details. Focus on what matters and by that I mean, think about, What will you have left after your wedding day? What will you have that will remind you of the butterflies of excitement you felt putting on your dress. Or how you felt walking down the isle surrounded by loving family and friends. And then that moment you locked eyes with your soon to be spouse. The amazing reaction your fiance had the first time he saw you. The elation after you were pronounced husband and wife. The sticky cake cutting kisses.
These moments are why I am a photographer. I want you to remember those feelings of joy and excitement, love and tender touches. I want your children to see where it all started.
(shameless plug) If you love my work and want to get together I would love to meet with you and talk about your dreams for your wedding day. All of my wedding packages a customized so you’ll receive a quote that is just for you and your needs. My style is photojournalistic and editorial which combined I can create a collection of photographs that tell the complete story of your wedding day, down to the very last detail.
Alaina Nunez Photography
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Cleaning Bathrooms and Other Life Lessons

How do you get everything done?

I don’t!

Imagine how much sleep I would get if I got everything done? That’s right, none!

As mothers of many we might have the appearance that we have it all together but let me set the record straight… if all my kids have socks and shoes on (even if they don’t match) I call that a win.

My job isn’t to do everything, my job is to teach my kids how to be proficient at cooking, how to come to the Lord with all their needs and desires, how to love like Jesus, how to grocery shop and budget, and how to do basic “chores”.

In our home we call them “responsibilities” because that’s more what they are. We are all responsible for picking up after ourselves. I am totally fine with messes, ask my kids, there has been more than one dirt ball fight in the backyard, even so there is the clean up that needs to be done after, that is the doer of the deeds responsibility.

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Proverbs 14:23

A couple years back I was teaching the kids how to clean the bathrooms. And I mean actually clean the toilets, in, on and around. The response I received was, “that’s gross!” So I told this quick one, “Yes, well then, maybe you should aim better.” That might seem a bit rude but there comes a point after height and enough practice where it’s just laziness. I am happy to report that after consistency (and I’m sure better aim), I don’t feel the need to apologize whenever we have people stop by that need the restroom. There are only minor things that I have to say, “do that again” to and it is definitely not every time.

Home responsibilities are not limited to household work. We have other responsibilities such as treating others how we want to be treated, showing gratitude when someone is kind, bringing meals to another family, following through on our word, giving respect, watching out for one another and speaking truth in love.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”

Ecclesiastes 9:10

I think, it’s essential to train the older children well because then, when your hands get fuller and you have more children or more tasks to do, then they will be your extra set of eyes, ears, and hands. You’ll get to hear things like, “mom, they used the bathroom and didn’t wash their hands!” or “make sure to hold the knife down” and the funny “whoa, whoa, whoa… [silence], that’s not what those are for, you’re going to hurt yourself.”

Like I said, making messes is fine, life is messy! But learning to take responsibility and ownership of the mess is where the character building comes in. Strength and perseverance. And sometimes it’s not your mess (I’m sure we’ve all heard, “but I didn’t do it!”), yet that’s where a servants heart can be nurtured. Even the Lord Jesus was willing to wash feet.

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”

Colossians 3:17

Thank the willing as well as the unwilling helpers. The job might take longer to get done because it takes extra time to show them, but in the end, many hands make light work. And it’s pretty amazing to get the house clean in 30 minutes as oppose to many, many hours on my own.

Oh and did I tell you, I rarely do laundry anymore? Yep! Now that’s what I call #winning

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

Blessings to you mama as you train and raise up your children! Keep it up!

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A bit of Before and After – Maternity

I thought it would be fun to show you the before and after edits.

After we have our session together I go through the images and put together a proof gallery so you can pick your favorites for the collection you want. The collection you choose will depend on if you’re into albums, wall art, gift prints or digital gallery.

These proof galleries are not edited except for the few I tend to convert to black and white. Other than that, they’re straight out of the camera, exactly how I captured it.

From your proof gallery you will choose your favorites and the amount will depend on the collection you choose. I will artistically edit those images you have chosen to keep from your gallery.

Once I’m all done and happy with how the images look, I will order the prints &/or products you have chosen and then I will deliver them to you after I have received and inspected them.

It’s important to have your images professionally printed because color calibration is different for each lab.

After I receive your prints, if I am not happy with how the color or finishing turned out, it will be re-ordered before it’s delivered to you.

So that is what happens after our session that goes with hiring me as your photographer when it comes to portrait sessions.

I want the whole process for you to be relaxing and enjoyable from start to finish and that includes looking at the final product hanging on your walls.

Contact us today to reserve your session!

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Are you well adjusted?

I started taking my family to Dr Cece at the beginning of last year. She is an awesome chiropractor in Seal Beach who specializes in women and children and follows the Webster techniques.

Initially I started with my oldest daughter and had her evaluated, then a couple more and then the other 3 and finally I figured, I need to practice what I preach and lead by example. So I started care myself.

I love the poster Dr Cece has up in her office where is show’s different parts of the spin correlating to various organs and then learning how when our bodies are not in alignment it can affect our emotions as well.

I’ll share with you a few things we saw a major change in when we started care.

My oldest has awful allergies. Literally blowing her nose all day long and even more when we would go on nature walks or when the weather changed. This also caused all day grumpiness because when you don’t feel good… I would have to say within the first 2 weeks of care under Dr Cece we saw a change in allergy issues. They was less nose blowing, more smiling and laughing again. It was amazing! My girl no longer has to carry a box of tissues with her everywhere she goes and I’m not constantly applying lavender essential oil on her numerous times a day.

Another had some major grounding troubles and now that one skips and jumps and runs down hills and even climbs up ladders without trembling in fear. So so thankful!

Asthma and breathing troubles minimized and if we had any stuffiness or post nasal drip going on she knew what type of adjustment to do to help our bodies heal.

One major thing for me was the range of motion in my neck. I could not fully turn to by left and it was super uncomfortable when I did. Now I can look over my shoulder without any pain.

I just so love how God provides for our every need and He brings some neat people into our lives.

We are not created to do life alone, we were created for community and to support one another with our gifts, knowledge, abilities and strengths.

Below is a video I put together while I was at Simply Well Chiropractic recently.

Karine is the smiling face that greets you when you walk through the doors.

My family is so thankful for Dr. Cece and Karine!

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MaternityWise Intl Doula Training Online and Workshop Certification

Doula Certificate

My labor doula certificate arrived and so did some of my new cards!

A little over a year ago I started my journey in my doula education.

It involved reading, workshops and hands on experience over the whole 2021 year. Yes, I could have gotten everything done sooner, but I’m thankful for the extra time to learn, absorb and apply what I learned and already knew.

I sent in all of my paperwork in January which was perfect timing to be allowed to accompany one of my mamas into the hospital to support her as protocols had just changed to 1 support person and 1 certified doula with the birthing mother. God’s timing is always perfect right?

I have loved being able to support mamas with not only the images I’m capturing during the birth of their little love, but with words of encouragement, hands on help and an extra support for dad as well.

There is a reason it’s called a birth team and I am always so honored and thankful that I’m part of the team for so many mamas and families.

I just wanted to share my fun news with you.

And if you haven’t seen my resource list, I encourage you to take a look at it. There are so many great professionals and resources for the expecting and postpartum mom. I’m constantly updating and adding to the list as I learn more and meet more amazing professionals in the area.

So if you are an expecting mama or know an expecting mama looking for birth photography and/or birth doula I’d love to hear from you. Contact me through the form or feel free to email, or call 562-400-2579.

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MaternityWise Intl Doula Training Online and Workshop Certification

The Mess

Random thoughts while I take a break from cleaning…

Do you ever notice that the mess looks way worse than it did before you started cleaning?

Such is life right.

The mess is staring you in the face, the outcome looks bleak, the frustration, overwhelm and anxious feelings start creeping in.

Throw in the towel now or press on and make progress, even if it’s just in baby steps?

Really the choice is ours. The choice has always been. We were given this gift of free will yet a lot of times we resent this gift. Why? Is it because we don’t want to be responsible for our actions?

Just like this mess that I’m cleaning up. It didn’t just appear (though that’s how it feels), the items that are strewn about were intentionally opened, scattered and then left. Maybe this should be a habit we start working on with the kids. Putting stuff away when we’re done. Finishing what we start. Taking care of our things. Being good stewards of our time, space and things. Wow, I need to work on ALL of these myself!

Back to the mess.

I will carry on and complete the task even if I know I will have to do it again. There’s just something about organizing and throwing things away that is both overwhelming and yet so freeing.

Which makes me think, do I do this cleaning so that I can feel good about myself? I haven’t ever received a gold star for my efforts. Maybe it’s a form of self care? Or maybe mental care? I would definitely agree with mental care.

I have seen some pretty amazing miracles happening around me lately and it’s pretty awesome to witness. I hear of things happening that is just a mess. The outcome looks bleak. Yet in my heart and my mind I think, “But God.” He works in the darkest moments. When everyone else has given up except the prayer warrior who has worn out their knees. But God. The One who spoke life into nothing. The One who is not restricted by the laws of man. But God.

Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3)

Do you believe in miracles? I’m sure you’ve seen some pretty amazing miracles in your life. Not coincidence. Not lucky. No, the universe was not on watch duty. The Maker of heaven and earth, that is Who causes miracles to happen.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)

Alright! Let’s do this!

Back to the messy mundane that I am so blessed to call my home and that I pray feels like a haven to any and all who enter, but especially to my family.

These are my random yet not so random thoughts for today.

The mess.


A blessing.

I hope I am always able to look at the mess as a blessing.



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