Posted in More Than A Mom

F is for…Facial!!!

I love a good facial.  I could seriously have one every single week.  Alas, since I don’t have a money-sprouting -tree in my backyard (so sad *snif*snif*), I had to find other ways to bring happiness to the sensitive skin on my face.

The last time I had a facial was on my birthday.  My wonderful husband booked one for me (as well as a mani/pedi and a massage – you see, this is one of the many reasons I married him – so thoughtful!).  The esthetician (is that even a word in English?) I had was passionate about her job (and took a scary amount of pleasure in torturing me removing my blackheads).

While we were chatting, she mentioned that she took the time to pamper her face weekly.  “You might say that it’s part of my job to have clear skin, but I do it for me more than I do it for the expectations of the job”, she said.  When I told her that I didn’t really see how I would have time to take better care of my face she started talking about her masks: “I’m doing the dishes, I have my mask on;  I’m folding some clothes, I’ve got my mask on; I’m cleaning my house, I’m wearing my mask.  One time, I went to Tim Hortons and people were looking at me funny.  I realized I’d forgotten to take my mask off before leaving the house!”, she concluded.

Multitasking?  I can do that!  I mean, it’s not like I have to stay perfectly still and do nothing while a mask is working its magic, right?  Before leaving, I asked if she could recommend a good cream for my face, bought it and went back home.  The next day, I was researching home facials.

Through my research, I figured that I would need an exfoliant, a mask and a hydrating cream.  Since I already had the cream, all that was left was to find the other two ingredients.

Here’s my happy face routine (I try to do this every Friday as soon as all the kids are in bed)

Step 1: Open up those pores!

I start off with a washcloth that I dip in hot water.  Then, I sorta wring it out and put it over my face.

Step 2: Dead skin cells, be gone!

I then put a bit of exfoliant in my hand (pssst…by this time, my washcloth is off my face ok?) and massage it into my face (pro tip: eyeballs do not like to be exfoliated, I know this from experience!) to exfoliate and remove the dead skin cells.  Then, it’s time to wet that washcloth again to remove the exfoliant from my skin.

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I love this scrub!  It’s gentle enough to be used every day and works wonderfully.

Step 3: Schlop some mud on your face

I’ve tried a few combinations since starting my weekly facial routine, this is by far my favourite:

  • 2 tsp moroccan red clay powder
  • 1 tsp orange blossom floral water
  • 1 tsp rose floral water

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I mix the ingredients together to form a paste and spread it on my face.  Then, I let it sit for 20 minutes as I do something productive like fold some clothes, do the dishes or take up my crochet hook and watch something on Netflix (hey, that’s productive, right??.

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Smells so good!

Step 4: Clean and moisturize!

Now is the time I remove the dried clay (this is when my face thanks me as it is able to move again).  I usually hit the shower to do this, but sometimes, I just remove it with some water and a washcloth.  All that’s left after is to apply some moisturizer to my face.

Step 5…(optional but oh so satisfying)

Wait, I lied, there’s another step.  Usually, the following day, I can’t stop touching my face because it’s so soft.  Think, baby skin soft.  Yeah, it’s freaking impressive!

Do you like facials?  Do you have a happy face routine?

Posted in More Than A Mom

Whose Glass Is This? (Aka: Glass Markers)

Sometimes, the best ideas are the ones that come to you in the spur of the moment.

We recently had some friends and family over for my sister-in-law’s birthday.  As is customary when one has guests, we offered drinks as they arrived.  In a very short amount of time, there were glasses everywhere and we quickly lost track of which glass belonged to who.

Since we don’t have an unlimited supply of glasses, we ended up washing them before supper.  Not that it’s a big problem, but, y’know, who likes to do the dishes when it can be avoided?  So I thought that there must be a solution.  I mean, wine glass markers have existed for years, but I’d never seen something to help identify regular glasses (though I’m sure something must exist, I didn’t want to spend any unnecessary money).

And then, I saw my table centerpiece and knew that I had found a solution: stained-glass paint.

The next evening, I grabbed all of our glasses (all 9 of them!) and fetched my paint kit downstairs.  Then, selecting 9 of the 10 available colors, I painted the bottom of each glass a different color.  I even had some fun and painted a smiley face on the bottom of three of the glasses, because, well, why not? 😉

P1000912There, problem solved.

Posted in More Than A Mom, Parenting

Feeling Fallspired – Part 2

Continued from part 1

The Burlap

After doing some research on the different ways I could cut my table runner down to size without having to deal with fraying edges in the near future, I settled on two options:

  • Using a mixture of 1 part mod podge and 1 part water
  • Using some double-sided tape

Since I didn’t have any double-sided tape, but I did have mod podge (well, sort of) I decided to start off with testing that.  I put my burlap runner down over some wax paper and mixed some school glue and water together in a 1:2 proportion (accidentally making mod podge in the process).  Then, using a small sponge, I applied a generous amount of the mixture across my burlap (I made sure to saturate the fabric so that I didn’t have to turn it over and apply on the other side as well.  After that, I hung my runner on the clothesline to dry.

You know what?  It worked! ❗ (to my surprise)

Then, it was just a question of measuring out the length of burlap that I wanted and starting over with the mod podge before cutting it down to size.

Enter Pinterest

Of course, no decoration project is complete without the collaboration of Pinterest.  So off I went in search of a manageable Autumn wreath to make.

And then, I saw this:

Not exactly a wreath, but oh so cute!
Not exactly a wreath, but oh so cute!

I immediately knew that I had to make this.  I also knew that following its confection, one of 2 things were going to happen:

1.  It would become a super cute decoration that I could reuse year after year.

2.  It would be relegated to the cemetery of Pinterest Fails

I started out by finding buying the required amount of canning jar rings, 25 to be exact (ok, truth: I only bought two packs of 12 ’cause I had one ring lying around at home) and a pack of cinnamon sticks.

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Then, I cut out a long piece of sting and strung my rings (all facing in the same direction) onto my string before trying to tie it.  The moment of truth was about to be revealed, I crossed my fingers for it to work.

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Imagine my surprise when it worked!  On the first try!  (Notice the piece of string still attached to the ring.  Though the original tutorial call for cutting it, I suggest keeping it attached to aid in the next step).

Once my pumpkin shape was finished, I fished an old can of spray pain from my art supplies.  I’d bought a black chalkboard paint aaaaages ago and thought that the matte black finish would look great.  I went out on the balcony, held my art project by the string and spray painted it.  Then, I made good use of my clothesline once more to let the paint dry.

Once dry, it was time to add the stem (a bunch of cinnamon sticks) and the leaves and showcase it on the shelf at the top of our entrance stairs.  (The pumpkin has since been replaced by a butternut squash as it is now in this pie).

I’m thinking that this pumpkin craft could be fun to do with little (but not too little ones).  Perhaps, the canning jar rings could be replaced with a slinky.  Hum…will have to give that a try.

It felt so good to get involved in an art project again.  It seems that in the process of building a family, I have somewhat forgotten myself.

Are there things that you loved to do pre-kids and haven’t taken the time to do in too long?  What is the last Pinterest project that you have tackled?

Posted in More Than A Mom

Feeling Fallspiried

Though I am a rather artsy person, I’ve never been one to decorate my home.  I’ve just never found an interest in it…until recently.

Now, I don’t know if it’s because Fall has settled early here (some may say way too early, but hey, I won’t complain as I love the season), because I’m on maternity leave and need to feel as though I am more than an all-you-can-eat milk bar or if it’s the hormones, but I decided that I wanted to decorate the house a bit for Fall this time around.

I first ventured downstairs to rescue some art supplies and different sized mason jars (left over from the previous owners) from the abyss that is the cupboard under the stairs.

Sorry Harry, there ain't no room for you here.
Sorry Harry, there ain’t no room for you here.

Then, I gathered my stained-glass paint and painted my canning jars red, orange and yellow.

Initially, I was planning on adding a bit of pzazz to them, but I’m actually really pleased with the result and decided to keep them like this.

While the jars were drying, I decided to go out and fetch two missing ingredients to complete my Fall dining room decor: a burlap table runner (I’ve been wanting one of these suckers forever) and some pumpkin spice scented candles.

To my amazement, I found both!

There’s just one slight problem: the burlap runner is too long (we’re talking 10 feet long!).  I need to cut it and find a way to make sure the edges don’t fray.  I’m too lazy to get the sewing machine out from under the stairs and figure out how it works, so sewing is out of the question.  Perhaps a diluted solution of glue and water would work.  Or…maybe some no-sew glue or clear nail polish… Hum, it’s long enough that I can run a few tests before cutting it to the desired size, but if anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

I guess you will have to wait until I’ve figured out how to manage my table runner before seeing the final result!  😛

What’s your favourite season?  Have you been inspired by Fall?

Posted in Blogging, More Than A Mom

Vote For Me! Please?

Ok, full disclosure:  I’m going to be doing some shameless self-promotion.

About a month ago I saw an interesting post appear in my reader.  Pat, from The Ranting Chef, was looking for entrants for a dessert competition.  His goal: to pit 16 different dessert types against one another to find a favourite among his readers.  I love to bake and I love dessert so I thought to myself: “self, you should give it a go!” and so I did.

I was both surprised and thrilled when I received word from Pat that I was in.  I mean, I don’t have a cooking blog and there were only 16 spots available.  He assigned me the chocolate cake category.

Now, this is where you come in.  I made my cake and it is now time to vote.  Yesterday, my competitor’s Jell-O dessert, the Strawberry Jell-O Shot Cake was presented and today my Oreo Cake has the spotlight.  There is a voting period that is open until next Wednesday (April 2nd).  Every vote counts, so if you think my dessert looks good, please go vote for it.  Of course, if you think the other one looks better you can vote for that one instead, no hard feelings ;).  If my dessert wins, I go through to a second round and will be pitted against another type of dessert.

So who wants a slice?

 

Posted in Blogging, More Than A Mom

Stuffed Bite-Sized Choux Pastries (Non-Dairy)

In trying to keep up with my sweet tooth despite taking dairy out of my diet for my son’s sake, I’ve been experimenting with some classic recipes and using alternatives to the typical dairy products used to complete them.

Today, I tackled choux pastries and decided to make a couple of fillings to stuff them with.  Yum!

Bite-Sized Choux Pastries

Ingredients (yields approx. 35 mini choux pastries)

  • 75mL (1/4 cup) almond milk (or any other dairy alternative)
  • 75mL (1/4 cup) water
  • 30mL (2 tbsp) coconut oil
  • 2.5mL (1/2 tsp) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125mL (1/2 cup) flour
  • 2 medium sized eggs

How to make

1. Place grill in center of oven and preheat to 190 C (375 F).  Place a silicone mat (or parchment paper) on a cookie pan.

2. In a small saucepan, bring almond milk, water, coconut oil, sugar and salt to a boil.  Remove pot from the heat and add the flour.  Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mix forms a ball that detaches from the sides of the saucepan.

3. Set the pot back onto the heat source and, on low heat, continue to cook the dough for a minute or two.

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat source and let the dough cool down for a few minutes.  Add the eggs, one by one, and beat with an electric beater (or, if you’re feeling brave, beat vigorously with a wooden spoon) until you obtain a sticky, homogenous paste.

5.  Spoon the paste in a piping bag (or in a ziploc bag with an end cut off) and pipe onto your baking sheet, making sure to leave about an inch between each puff.  Note that the puffs will approximately double in size once cooked.

6.  Stick in the oven for 35 minutes or until they’ve reached a light golden color.  Turn off oven and leave them in the oven with the door slightly ajar for another 10 minutes.

7.  Admire your masterpiece.  (BTW, at this point, these suckers can be frozen for up to a month).

Now, you could stuff these suckers with pretty much anything as they have quite a neutral taste.  However, I decided to stuff mine with some sweetness!  So I’ll give you the recipe for the two fillings that I made.

Dairy-Free Carob Custard

Ingredients (yields about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 cup rice milk (or another non-dairy equivalent)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (or 2 lightly beaten egg yolks)
  • 1 tbsp carob powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

How to make

1. Have eggs ready in a bowl, and set aside where it will be within reach.

2. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together rice milk, sugar and cornstarch.  Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally to prevent corn startch from clumping.

3. Remove from heat.  Use about 2 tablespoons of the hot mixture and whisk into eggs.  Slowly whisk egg mixture into saucepan.

4. Return pot to heat and whisk gently until custard thickens or about 2-3 minutes.  Do not allow to boil.

5. Remove saucepan from heat and add vanilla and carob powder, mixing well.

6. Pipe custard into puffs.  (Note: it is rather runny so it’s better to pipe from the top so that it actually stays in).

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Sweet Pecan Butter

Ingerdients

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened grated coconut
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp almond oil

How to make

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process to death (ie: until you obtain something close to a homogenous paste).

2. Pipe into puffs.

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Of course, all you have to do after is set the stuffed choux pastries on the table and try not to eat them all before you take a picture.

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ENJOY!

Posted in More Than A Mom

Key Lime Cheesecake – Sans Fromage!

You know how it’s always when you can’t have something that you want it the most?

You see, I’ve been craving cheesecake recently.  I mean, really craaaaaaaaving.  Of course, I can’t have any because I have taken dairy out of my diet for my son.

Or can I?

I remembered how I’d gone to a vegan restaurant with my little sis a couple of years back and they had cheesecake on the menu.  Of course, it wasn’t real cheesecake but it was real good!

I can’t say I rock enough to have invented the recipe, but with the help of a few key words in Google, and a hop on Pinterest I found two recipes that looked good and merged them.  I took the recipe for the crust here and used the one for the filling that I found here.

Would you like to know what’s in it and how to make it?

Of course you do!

What’s in it?

P1030376For the crust (left)

  • 8 medjool dates, soaked and pits removed (I let them soak as I measured out the other ingredients)
  • 1 cup of mixed nuts (mine contained brazil nuts, pecans, almonds and cashews)
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 tsp cinamon

For the filling (right)

  • 3 cups raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup key lime juice
  • 3/4 cup raw agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil (unbleached and unrefined)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Now, for some reason, I did the filling first (must be mommy brain) which meant that I had to pour the filling in a bowl as  I mixed the ingredients for the crust.  Don’t be silly like me, make your crust first.

What to do?

Crust

  1. Mix everything but the dates until the mixture is reduced to a coarse meal.
  2. Add the dates and keep blending until well blended and sticky.
  3. Press the mixture in a pie mold.

Filling

  1. Put all ingredients in food processor (if you’re smart, unlike me, you’ll make sure the food doesn’t go past the max food level).
  2. Pulverize until the mix has a smooth texture.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust.
  4. Place in the freezer for 2h.
  5. Eat
4.  Key Lime Cheesecake Sans Fromage
4. Key Lime Cheesecake Sans Fromage

And, just because I had time and my son was being quiet, I actually pressed my key limes.  If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, I would suggest you just buy some ready pressed, because it took 2lbs of them to get a cup of freshly pressed lime juice!  (But it was TOTALLY worth it because I absolutely LOVE key lime).

Posted in More Than A Mom

DIY Soothing Skin Salve

We’ve been contending with eczema pretty much ever since my son was born.  It comes and goes but we have to cream my son up daily.  Of course, we tried a few products: aveeno baby, aveeno eczema, plain old vaseline… our pediatrician even wrote up a prescription for a cortisone cream when we had our 4 month appointment.

Though these products did work, I wasn’t entirely satisfied.  For starters, when my son started putting his hands in his mouth, I was reluctant to use anything that was…chemical (for lack of a better word) on him.  As for the cortisone cream, though it worked wonders, I have only used it a few times sparingly because it thins the skin (not something you want with a baby whose nails seem to grow even as you trim them…).

And so, the search for a good DIY cream began.  I first found this recipe for a simple beeswax lotion and immediately fell in love with it.  Encouraged by the simplicity and effectiveness, I began researching other combinations of ingredients.  This is what I came up with for my latest batch.

DIY Soothing Skin Salve

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Honey, coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, beeswax and vitamin E tablets.

What’s the deal with these ingredients?

Olive oil: used for its anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties, plus it doesn’t clog pores.

Coconut oil: is an awesome moisturizer and, much like olive oil, it doesn’t clog pores.  But the best part?  The smell!

Almond oil: it’s a great sun protector, acts as a moisturizer and reduces skin irritation.

Cocoa butter: another great moisturizer…that smells great!

Honey: used for it’s natural ability at absorbing and retaining moisture and anti-microbial properties.

Beeswax: it is protectant, acting as a barrier (to drool, for instance) while still allowing the skin to breathe and has natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral benefits.

Vitamin E oil: it helps the healing process if applied topically because it speeds up cell regeneration.  It is also offers protection from the sun.

What you need to do

1.  Measure out your ingredients:

  • – 3/4 cup olive oil
  • – 1/4 cup almond oil
  • – 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • – 1/4 (or about 0.5 oz) cocoa butter
  • – 2 oz beeswax (pellets melt faster, but I bought a 1lb block from a local beekeeper)
  • – 2 tablespoon honey
  • – 5 capsules (or about 1/8 tsp) vitamin E oil.
*Tip: coat your spoon in oil before pouring the honey into it.*

2.  Stick everything but the vitamin E in a large sterile canning jar and stick that in a pot filled with water that reaches up to at least 1/3 of the level of the canning jar.

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3.  Bring up to medium heat and stir occasionally until completely melted.

4.  Remove from heat and stir in the vitamin E

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5.  Let cool at room temperature or in the fridge stirring every quarter hour.  Or be lazy like me and pour it into some small tins that you’re certain won’t break if you drop them (not that I’d ever drop a glass jar or anything…)

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6.  Apply on dry skin and keep this recipe to yourself, letting everyone else keep buying their overpriced moisturizers ;).

Posted in More Than A Mom

Tom Kha Gai – Oh So Much Yummy!

When Little Dinosaur Baby shared this recipe on her blog a couple of days ago, I just could not wait to try it!  So today, I went out and bought the ingredients to pull it off and seriously, it’s good!  No, not good, out-of-this-world-yummy! 😀

The recipe called for just a couple of ingredients that I just didn’t have near the suburb in which I live: namely galangal (which, I found out resembled ginger) and fresh kaffir lime leaves and so I substituted both with fresh ginger and the zest of two limes respectively.  Furthermore, because I wanted my sister to be able to taste it, I used shrimp instead of chicken as she is a partial vegetarian and the only kind of meat she eats is fish and seafood.

I really loved this!  The coconut milk made it nice and silky, the lime juice made it tangy and it was slightly salty.  Now, I don’t know how authentic it turned out to be taste-wise (I guess I’ll have to try and find a good Thai restaurant to compare), but boy was it good!  I am definitely going to make this again.

My bowl of Tom kha gai just before devouring it!
My bowl of Tom kha gai just before devouring it!

I’m always up for a new culinary adventure!  Any suggestions as to what I should make next?

Posted in More Than A Mom

More Than A Mom! – A DIY Mother’s Day

For years now I’ve been crafting the gifts I give.  Whether it be for Christmas, a birthday, a baby shower or which ever other occasion, I have fun trying to find something that I will have fun making and that the person receiving will enjoy having.

This year, for Mother’s Day, I went all out and dove into the world of DIY skin care products.  With my sister’s and sister-in-law’s help, we crafted a multitude of creams and lotions for our mothers.

Below, are pictures of our creations.  If you want to know how to make a certain product, you need only click on the image and follow the link in the description section.  Below the pictures, you will find more information on each individual product.

  1. Homemade Hand and Body Cream: We made this for my mother-in-law who has fibromyalgia.  We used lavender, German chamomile sweet orange and lemongrass.  The mix of essential oils are meant to be good for the challenges she faces.  For instance, lavender is great for pain relief, stress/anxiety, peaceful sleep, for a feeling of harmony & safety and for headaches.  German chamomile, is also good for pain relief.  Sweet orange works to help with stress/anxiety and lemongrass helps with pain relief and increased circulation.
  2. Beeswax Body Butter: If you are looking for the recipe to this one, I encourage you to purchase the ebooklet that you can find on A Sonoma Garden’s blog.  The author has put together five beautifully simple recipes and the ebooklet is very nice.  What I will say is that I used a mix of peppermint, ylang-ylang and sweet orange in my body butter recipe.
  3. Easy Beeswax Lotion: This one is the very first lotion I experimented with.  It has an awesome texture and smells great without adding any essential oils.  I use this rich lotion on my son and it does wonders to his eczema (in my opinion, it works better than the store bought Aveeno lotion I’d been using with a prescription cortisone cream).  I also made a batch with lavender essential oil for my grandma.
  4. DIY Foot Scrubs: From left to right: coconut, peppermint and sweet orange foot scrubs.  For the coconut, I used coconut oil and raw plantation sugar.  The peppermint is made with white sugar, avocado oil (hence the greenish color) and peppermin essential oil.  The sweet orange is also made with white sugar, but I used olive oil and sweet orange essential oil.
  5. Honey Kissed Lip Balm:  This one can also be found in the ebooklet found on the A Sonoma Garden Blog.
  6. Homemade Chapstick: This stuff smells awesome!  If I were to redo it, however, I would probably add a tiny bit more beeswax just to make the balm a tad harder in our stuffy summer weather.
  7. DIY Massage Oil: The possibilities for massage oils are endless!  We used sweet almond oil and ylang-ylang.
  8. DIY Bath Bombs:  For those of you who need an English translation, see below.
  • Ingredients:
  • – 2 tablespoon Citric Acid
  • – 2 tablespoon Corn Starch
  • – 1/4 cup of Baking Soda
  • – 2 tablespoon of a carrier oil (we used canola)
  • – Your choice of essential oils (optional)
  • Instructions:
  • – Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl.
  • – Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to obtain a paste that is thick enough to retain its form once held in your hand.  Adjust the consistency by either adding more baking soda (for a thicker paste) or oil (for a thinner paste).
  • – Form ping-pong sized balls with the paste (we put them in mini muffin moulds)
  • – Store in airtight container and have fun in the bath!

If you’re looking to buy some containers and/or ingredients such as beeswax, citric acid, cocoa butter and the like, you can find them here (Canada) and here (US).