My husband is Armenian. In his case this means beautiful luscious black hair, eyelashes that women would kill for and unfortunately for my cheeks, rough bumpy nose skin. Although he exfoliates, inevitably the roughness is back again the very next day. His exfoliant of choice is Burt’s Bees Willowbark and Apricot Scrub. I once thought that Burt’s Bees was an awesome, forward thinking company and I purchased their products regularly. I’ve since learned that although they started out using all natural ingredients in Maine 30 years ago, they have since sold their company to Clorox for 900+million and their integrity has started to waver. Mass production has diluted the quality of their products and now you may find pesky chemicals and preservatives where wholesome ingredients used to be. This is understandable for products that are expected to sit on a hot shelf for months, possibly even years. Understanding aside, I refuse to put that crap on my largest, most porous organ.
Here are the ingredients that I take issue with,
Sodium Borate- This is essentially Borax. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a chemical compound that is regarded as a ‘natural’ cleaner. It can be used for bleaching clothes, cleaning toilets… I personally use it as ant poison. Sound like something you want on your face? Didn’t think so.
Fragrance- Fragrance, huh? Ambiguous much? I’m just assuming they aren’t using organic essential oils to make their scrub fragrant.
Glucose Oxidase- This is a ‘natural’ preservative. It releases hydrogen peroxide which is harmful to bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide can also create free radical damage to the skin. According to MSDS sheets, it is also an eye irritant, a skin irritant a lung irritant and “prolonged or repeated exposure may lead to irreversible damage to health.” Lovely. Why the hell is it in this face scrub Burt’s Bees? Oh yes, because you are now Clorox and aren’t afraid of nasty chemicals.
I decided that after doing my research, my hubby would no longer be slathering his sweet face with this stuff. I went to my laboratory AKA, kitchen counter, and got to work on making something superior. This scrub smells like a lemon bar. I kinda have a problem not eating it. Although many ingredients in it are edible, Willowbark wouldn’t feel very good going down, so I stop myself… just barely. After using my creation, the hubby proclaims it works way better than his ‘Burt’s Bees’ scrub. Take that Clorox!
Willowbark Face Scrub
- 1 cup dried Willowbark
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unmelted coconut oil
- 1 tbsp rose hip seed oil
- 1 tbsp carrot seed oil
- 20 drops lemon essential oil
- Grind Willowbark in a clean coffee/spice grinder until a rough powder is formed
- Empty ground Willowbark into a medium bowl
- Mix in all other ingredients together with a spoon
- Store in a airtight container for several months
- Use a clean spoon to dip into the jar for each application to extend shelf life
- Enjoy your soft smooth skin!
Today, I had a flash back of a really sweet moment in my childhood. I was 8 maybe 9, sitting at our dinner table with my brother, 6 and sister, still in diapers; chocolate smeared our faces as we chugged down ice cold milk. The milk was always ice cold in our house. My mother insisted it be so. Although I don’t drink cows milk anymore, I’d still have to agree with her; milk tastes best just before it freezes and accompanied by chocolate. Always.
In this instance the chocolate that lined our smiling mouths was frosting from a chocolate cake. This seemingly insignificant memory danced around my head all morning. I could smell the frosting, I could feel the crumble of the cake in my mouth. It was slowly driving me mad! I knew I had to make one.
The cake of my memories was a boxed Betty Crocker creation, no doubt. My mama was never much of a baker. I was inspired to create my own take on the delicious yet overly processed box version. It had been awhile since I used butter and sugar to create anything. In the interest of health, I’ve been going for coconut oil in lieu of butter and honey or maple syrup to substitute granulated sugar when baking. Although I believe the flavor rarely suffers with these substitutions, the texture inevitably does. Sugar and butter can create a more tender, moist baked good. For this cake, I wanted to create something as close to the original as I could get while using organic whole foods to make it happen. I think I succeeded. Here’s what I did,
(Recipe adapted from Tasting Table)
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- 1 cup cacao powder
- 1 cup filtered water
- 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
- 2 cups gluten free all propose flour (I made my own using 1/2 cup potato starch, 3/4 cup white rice flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour and 1/4 cup teff flour)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 sticks grass fed butter, kerrygold is my all time favorite.
- 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
- 5 eggs
- 3/4 cup goat milk
Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- 8 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
- The cream from one can of coconut milk, refrigerated overnight or frozen for a few hours
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup cacao powder
- 8 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease two 9-inch cake pans with oil or butter of choice and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.
- In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder with the water until you form a paste.
- Using a double boiler or a small glass bowl atop a tea kettle, melt your 12 oz total of baking chocolate
- Mix flour, baking soda and salt together well in a large bowl
- Using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until smooth.
- While still beating, add one egg at a time to butter and sugar mixture.
- Lower beater speed and add cacao powder paste and melted chocolate
- Add flour and milk a bit a time to ensure mixture doesn’t get too chunky and combines well
- Place batter evenly into greased cake pans
- Place in middle of oven for 30 minutes
- Meanwhile make frosting – Take can of coconut milk out of fridge/freezer and scoop out the separated coconut cream from the top.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the coconut cream and sugar, stirring often until the sugar dissolves, about 2 to 3 minutes
- Place the remaining 8 oz of chopped chocolate in a medium-large bowl.
- Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes or until the chocolate begins to soften. Whisk until smooth and allow to sit for another 5 to 7 minutes to cool slightly.
- Whisk the coconut oil into the chocolate, adding 1 tbsp at a time and whisking until it’s blended in before adding the next.
- Let frosting set in the refrigerator for an hour or so before taking out and adding cacao powder, milk and vanilla.
- Using an electric beater, mix cacao powder and milk into frosting until it becomes thick and creamy
- To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers bottom-side up on a cake plate or platter. Using an offset metal spatula, ice with about 1 cup of the frosting. Place the second layer, also bottom-side up, on top of the frosting. Spread the remaining frosting over the sides and top of the entire cake.
- Dig in! Preferably with a cold glass of milk, I prefer the almond variety. 😉
Diaper rash sucks, plain and simple. To watch your sweet little girl endure a red, inflamed, bumpy rear end is just no fun. Sucks, sucks, sucks I tell you. I let her run around most of yesterday without a diaper on to allow her skin to air out. This led to many pee soaked towels… Nothing I can’t handle. The big poo we had to remove from the kitchen floor was my favorite part though. Hey, if she had gone in her diaper we would have had to scrape the smashed poop from all over her butt cheeks, so maybe we were given a gift this time. No one ever said being a mother was glamorous, no one.
You don’t need to have wee ones to find benefits for this balm. It can be used as a calming salve for skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, to treat minor scrapes or rashes, soften cuticles or simply to moisturize chapped skin. If you do have little ones I would say this treatment is hands down the best way to soothe diaper rash. In the 21 months that I’ve been a mama to my Marvel she has gotten maybe 4 or 5 diaper rashes. She’s one of the lucky ones, that’s for sure. When a rash has flared up in the past I have used arrowroot powder, shea butter or even an organic store bought butt paste. This method has proven more effective than all of them. I whipped this up quicker than you can say the ingredients out loud, slathered her irritated bum with it and within a few hours it was a few bumps away from being completely cleared up. I wish I would have gotten a before and after picture for you but it totally escaped me in all that bodily function cleaning mayhem.
All you do to make this is mix 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil with a 5-10 drops of tea tree and/or lavender essential oils. That’s it. For reals! Totally effective, all natural rash soother. Like I said earlier, this mixture would be wonderful for healing minor cuts, scrapes, burns, bug bites, chapped skin, the list goes on.
Coconut oil is incredible. It contains lauric acid, which kills harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi. Breast milk is the only other natural source that contains such a high concentration of lauric acid. So unless your boobs are secreting this miracle liquid, get yourself some coconut oil. It’s a hippies Neosporin – but you can eat it and it smells like a tropical vacation. It rocks my proverbial socks off. If you don’t keep coconut oil in your house at all times I would strongly suggest you do. It’s awesomeness knows no bounds! I get mine from Costco. The brand they carry, Nutiva is organic and responsibly farmed. It’s the cheapest organic coconut oil I’ve found at $28.00 for 78 oz. Killer deal!
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! Colorful lights are twinkling, the smell of pine is all around, there is an icy chill in the air and my skin feels like an old leather boot. Nothing like a drop in temperature to dry out my already scaly skin. Unfortunately for me, nothing ages you more than dry skin, well aside from smoking and tanning booths maybe. 😉
What to do when your thirsty epidermis needs a drink? Don’t look to those store bought body creams. They are laden with chemicals that will do more harm than good. All you need to nourish your flesh is likely already in your home. Coconut oil and Shea butter are powerhouses of moisture. Coconut oils is high in saturated fat or tryglicerides. When applied topically these fats help keep skin feeling silky smooth by retaining the moisture content of the skin. Shea butter also high in fatty acids is an incredible moisturizer as well. Not to mention effective in healing eczema, stretch marks, dandruff and psoriasis. I used Shea butter throughout my pregnancy and even though stretch marks run in my family, I didn’t get one… And I stretched quite a bit . 😉 I added a few other goodies to my homemade body cream but they are completely optional. You will need some type of electric mixer to whip your oil and butter to create the fluffy finished product. An electric hand mixer will do fine or better yet, use a stand mixer if you have it. The faster the speed of the mixer, the lighter and fluffier your butter will be.
Because we are not adding any preservatives to this homemade cream, you’ll want to take a few precautions in order to extend it’s shelf life. First, you’ll want to use a clean scoop to administer the butter at each use. If you dip your fingers in it, you will likely contaminate your product with bacteria and spoilage will accelerate. Another way to keep your butter fresh longer is to keep it in a dark, relatively cool place. I keep mine in my medicine cabinet in my bathroom. Sunlight and heat will shorten shelf life as well. Also, make sure that any utensils, storage jars and surface you are using are sparky clean and dry. Water will contaminate your product quicker than anything else. Another useful tip, make super small batches. The less you make, the quicker you’ll use it and the less likely it will just sit around and possibly turn sour. Smell your homemade product before each use. If it smells funny, throw it out!
Alright, now on to the fun stuff! Here is my super quick recipe for amazingly luxurious homemade body butter,
Whipped Body Butter
- 1/4 cup organic coconut oil
- 1/4 cup raw organic Shea butter
- *5 drops of organic rose-hip oil
- *5 drops of essential oil. (I used ylang ylang)
- Combine all ingredients in a clean medium sized bowl
- Using sparkly clean mixer, whip butters and oils together for 7 minutes on high
- Using clean utensil, transfer whipped body butter to clean airtight container and store in cool dark place.
Enjoy your decadent body butter. Your skin and whoever has the privilege of caressing it thanks you!
Coffee. You beautiful temptress. What can’t you do? I’m starting to think there isn’t much. Studies have suggested it can help fight depression, lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and stroke; it contains antioxidants and may reduce cellulite when used topically. Don’t even get me started on the smell… Oh that intoxicating smell. Yesterday, we brewed some heavenly french press coffee. This is what I did with the left over grounds,
Making your own body scrub is easier than getting in your car, going to the store and purchasing your own. Plus, it takes quite a bit less time. You likely have these ingredients in your kitchen right now.
Coconut Coffee Sugar Scrub
•1/2 cup coffee grounds
•1/2 turbinado sugar
•1 cup coconut oil
• 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil* (optional)
*eucalyptus has anti inflammatory properties so it is wonderful for relieving sore, aching muscles
Simply mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the fridge. I used my hands to mix so my body heat would melt the coconut oil a bit.
This scrub smells… Well, like coffee. Enough said right? Coffee and coconut with a refreshing little zing of eucalyptus. I am immediately transported to some far away place when I use it. It leaves your skin super smooth, like silk, like baby skin soft. I’m totally hooked.