Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year from Chic & Green!


My final post of the year...and I wanted to wish everyone a VERY Happy New Year! I am making up some appetizers right now (my friend Angie's "hammies" and a pot of Cheddar Beer Soup) and thought I's pop in and wish you all a very Happy New Year!

I also wanted to do a little business update. My 2009 return from vacation has been delayed. There are 3 reasons. As you know, I have been in the process of going much greener, and I finally have made my decision on bottles and jars--amber glass for pretty much everything. I was going to wait to finish the few plastics I have left, but am going to sell off my plastic supply and start off 2009 being even greener.

The second reason is the fact that I have been very slow at working on my website. I plan to get it finished over the next couple of days. I will then have to take some new product photos in the new bottles with the labels I still have to print out :)

Lastly, I have been enjoying every second of this much-needed time off, so I haven't done as much work as I should've and need to make new batches of almost everything. Nick will return to school on Monday and I fully anticipate everything being ready to go by the next Monday.

You can check out my new site for updates on NEW products, including my new Bee Glowing products. Bee Glowing products will feature royal jelly and locally harvested honey. Product descriptions can be found on the main page. Please excuse the site's appearance--I just started working on it!

Again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tomorrow, I will be back with new Etsy Love and much more!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

REWIND: Deborah's Shaved Chocolate Cookies

While I am talking about The Genesee Country Inn, I must mention Deborah's (the innkeeper) Shaved Ghiradelli Chocolate Cookie Recipe! I am very much looking forward to eating about a dozen of these tonight. This is another "REWIND" from a couple months back.

You'll need to cream the butter and sugar.

Adding in 2 eggs

Some delicious batter. A word to the wise--if you eat too much batter you'll get a tummy ache. I speak from years of experience!

Ben waiting eagerly!

Inside the oven

Fresh from the oven

My expert cookie taste testers




You may recall me talking about the wonderful weekend away Tom and I shared at an area bed & breakfast, The Genesee Country Inn, back in August. The innkeepers, Richard and Deborah, truly have special place.

We had a magnificent time. You may also recall me telling you how I ate more than my fair share of Deborah’s homemade shaved chocolate cookies.

Deborah sent me home with her recipe and I have since made the cookies twice.

Nick was feeling a bit down today--his goldfish, Goldie, literally jumped to its death last night. We don’t know how exactly, but when we went to feed both fish yesterday, only one was in the bowl. Goldie was later found nearby in the boys’ tool bench. Needless to say, Nick wasn’t happy.

When he asked me to make him some cookies today, I happily obliged.

We made them together this afternoon. This recipe will yield 4-5 dozen small cookies, depending on how much batter the chef eats along the way (Would I do that?):

(Recipe by Deborah Stankevich)


Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons real vanilla

1 cup shaved semi-sweet chocolate


Preheat oven to 375ยบ F. Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Beat until smooth. Add flour. Stir in shaved chocolate. Drop by teaspoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack. Store in an airtight container.


NOTE: I used 2 cups of all purpuse flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour. I also used Ghiradelli bittersweet 60% cacao chips, which I loosely chopped in my mini-chopper.

REWIND: Live Simply, Laugh Often, Love Much


The front door of the inn

It's our wedding anniversary today! Seven years ago this evening, we were married in front of the beautiful fireplace at a B&B in Savannah, Georgia (we lived there then). How quickly time flies, and how different things are now.

We're going to a local bed and breakfast and I thought since I made a post about this lovely place the last time we went back in August, I'd tell you about it again as part of my REWIND series.

Here it is:


I have a sign on my porch when you walk in with this exact phrase. I have always liked the meaning behind it, and try to live by this, especially the "Love much" part.

Over the weekend, Tom and I went to a beautiful bed and breakfast in Mumford, New York, which about 35 minutes away. We went away so we could enjoy some time together as Tom and Karley the couple.

You see, 99.9% of time we're Tom and Karley working, raising two young boys, answering phones and ringing doorbells, making and delivering local orders, doing the Etsy thing, walking a barking dog, going to Wegmans....you know what I mean--life's daily events when you're a married couple with an almost 5 year old, a 3 year old and an 85 pound dog.

Do not get me wrong. We love our life. We love our boys more than anything in this world. I love that I can stay at home with them and also do something I enjoy on the side. I love that Tom has a wonderful career with a great deal of flexibility, where he can attend preschool events and pediatrician appointments and work from home a good part of the time. I love the life we have created and that we focus our lives around our family. We eat dinner together as a family 7 nights a week, whether it be at home or on a picnic, at a restaurant or with our neighbors on a Friday. That is just our family policy.

By the time our day to day tasks are over and the boys have finally fallen asleep, we're both tired. I usually do some work and then Tom and I will watch the Yankees play before we head to bed around 11.

Our time just being together without a time schedule seems rare. This is one reason we went away without the boys. First of all, Nick and Ben had a blast and were angels the whole time we were gone. Even though it was just for a weekend, it's one weekend that taught us so much.

Other moms, if you are reading this, take note:

First of all, it is OK to leave the kids. It is OK to go away and be "selfish" and spent time as a couple with the one you love. It is OK to go away to a lovely place to, in a way, remember who you are and remember quite quickly all the reasons you fell in love with your mate in the first place. GO. It is just a weekend and it will do you wonders.

Deborah and Richard Stankevich are the innkeepers of the Genesee Country Inn. Let me first say that Deborah is the epitome of a B & B owner. Did you ever walk into a home and just gets a sense that the home was loved and well-cared for and that, in return, the homeowner was taken care of and loved by home itself? This would describe the relationship shared between Deborah and her lovely B & B. The home is so loved, well cared for, and brought back to all of its splendor. Deborah and Richard put so much love and sweat equity into the beautiful inn and you can sense the love and warmth the moment you step through the door.

We hadn't been to a B & B since we were married at Claudia's Manor in Savannah. Sadly, Claudia and Larry Collins closed their inn, but it was a lovely, warm place. I've always loved B & Bs. The first one I stayed in was while visiting my brother at Princeton University, and it is called The Peacock Inn. Other B & B stays when I was younger were in Eureka Springs, Arkansas when my father was working in Missouri, and a B & B in Lawrence when I toured the University of Kansas. A large chain cannot beat the warmth and charm of a good B & B. There are several inns in the Rochester area from which to choose. This one was chosen because it was close, yet far enough away from home, and because it seemed so inviting.


We walked in and were immediately pleased. Not only is the large cobblestone home gorgeous, it is on a beautiful property with lots of walking and pretty scenery. Every detail of the decorating inside was exquisite. The room we stayed in, The Garbutt, was very lovely. We opened the door and I was greeted with a bouquet of 25 yellow roses. We had 5 large windows in our room and had views in 2 directions. I enjoyed looking out at the bright and cheerful Cosmos, as well as the lovely pots of flowers Deborah planted.

Deborah was welcoming, and the love for her inn radiated with every word she spoke. I believe it is a gift to have a "job" that doesn't feel like a job, something you look forward to every single day and have invested in with your heart and soul. This is the impression I got after spending time conversing with Deborah. She truly has a passion for what she does, and that is why she is so good at every single detail.

Just after we set our bags in the room, Deborah brought out a pitcher of her freshly brewed iced tea. She had a jar of her homemade Ghiradelli chocolate cookies (with chocolate shavings rather than chips) and it only took me a few hours to nearly empty her jar...which was refilled very early in the morning. We spoke about her use of local vendors for coffee and the local honey from another tiny town called Nunda. It was as though we had known Deborah and her husband for quite some time, because they were easy to talk to and so warm and welcoming.

Deborah's breakfast was heavenly. I cannot even narrow down my favorites. Perhaps the oven-baked pancake with homemade apple cider syrup...or the different quiches...or the different types of bread, everything made with love and from scratch. Everything was just perfect. We even got to meet Alison Arngrim, the actress who played "Nellie Oleson" on Little House on the Prairie, as she was a guest at the inn and happened to be there for the weekend at the Genesee Country Village as a special guest. As a child who watched Little House every Monday night at 8pm until it went off the air, this was a real treat for me to meet her.

Aside from meeting some great people and staying in an absolutely beautiful inn, the best part was the time spent with Tom. The sign on my porch describes our weekend perfectly. Everything was simple, as we didn't have to follow any kind of schedule. We took a quiet walk listening to the water. We walked far enough to peer out over a creek to see cows in the distance. It was so peaceful and serene. We took a walk down 2 blocks to a quaint primitive and antiques shop. We drove with the windows down to dinner singing and laughing as though we were back in our college days.

We were carefree, without plans or details to iron out or something to pick up at our third trip of the day at Wegmans. We talked for hours on end, laughed together even more than we normally do, and fell even more in love than we already were.

There is something to be said for living simply, laughing often, and loving much. Not much on earth is better...Our weekend could not be beat....at least not until we walked back in the door Sunday at noon with our boys yelling "Mommy!" "Daddy!" with big smiles on their happy faces.

We all had such a great weekend that we already reserved our room in late December for our anniversary and if we have a chance, we'd like to head back in October.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It is now December and we're headed back! I cannot wait!

Friday, December 26, 2008

I thought I'd have a chance for an after-Christmas post, but alas, time has slipped away quickly today and we have company for a while this evening.

I will be taking a blog break until January 1st, but will sneak in when I can!

Tom and I will be away celebrating our anniverary, and we have lots of fun things planned with the boys this vacation as well.

See you in 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas to you and yours from Karley at Chic & Green.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What's In It Wednesday: Red Velvet Cupcakes


Yes, it's time for an all-new edition of What's In It Wednesday, when Chic & Green takes a hard look at the nasty and harmful ingredients in some of the most popular beauty products on the market.

Today we will take a serious look at what I baked for tonight: RED VELVET CUPCAKES.

Filled with white flour, red food coloring, white sugar and more, I am sure that this dessert is not so good for you. That's my bottom line....and I pretty much guarantee that this recipe may just increase your bottom line :)

All kidding aside, I am going to share a simple, delicious recipe for these lovely treats! We're skipping the beauty products this week and focusing on baking.

I normally substitute natural applesauce for oil, wheat flour for the white, and natural colorings such as beet juice and elderberry...however, it's Christmas Eve, so I'm not doing so with this yummy one!

This is loosely based on a Paula Deen recipe. I've modified it because there was so much oil in the original, and not enough cocoa powder to suit my own tastes.

Enjoy!

This recipe will yield 8 to 10 cupcakes.

Please note that I have no patience for piping the frosting onto my cupcakes...I can't make gorgeous cakes and pies, but these will taste yummy for sure! If I have time, I'll post pictures of other things I am making for tonight, including chocolate toffee bars and homemade marshmallows.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the following dry ingredients in one bowl:

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

Set aside.

In another bowl, beat one egg. Add in 1/2 c. vegetable oil. Then add 1/2 c. buttermilk, 1/2 t. of distilled white vinegar, 1 T. vanilla extract and beat together. Add in 2 T. red food coloring. Blend. I am using a wooden spoon because Tom is using the mixer with the boys for their Sponge Bob Squarepants pineapple gingerbread house now. Now blend the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly.

Pour into greased muffin pans or into muffin paper liners in a muffin pan.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Let cool.

While cooling, let's make a super yummy cream cheese icing!

Mix 1 (8 oz.) package of softened cream cheese with 1 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar, 1 T. vanilla and a stick of softened, unsalted butter. This I am using the mixer for since Tom and the boys are done using it for the icing of their gingerbread house. I am mixing on medium for about 90 seconds.

Ice the cupcakes and eat! Or save them for company....or both! I have eaten one already this morning.


Merry Christmas to All!

 

Chic & Green will return Friday! Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy this magical time!!! 


Moms and Dads--remember that all day today and into the evening, your children can "track" Santa Claus! Just go to the NORAD Santa site!


In 1897, this letter appeared in the New York Sun. The letter from Virginia O'Hanlon was answered by Francis P. Church, a veteran newsman. It's always been a favorite of mine to read!


"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. 
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. 
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' 
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. 

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 BEST IN GLOW AWARDS






It's time for Chic & Green's First Annual BEST IN GLOW AWARDS (as in glowing skin without parabens). All have been tried and tested by yours truly and get my seal of approval! All contenders I consider to be of the highest quality and can recommend them. Some categories were harder than others when it came to choosing a favorite (especially the shampoo category), but I am happy with my choices. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS!















Best Overall Soap 

By a landslide, this award goes to Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soaps on Etsy. Nancy's soaps make your skin feel comforted and soft. The lather is so creamy and gentle and the quality is top notch. From Pink Peppermint to Lemongrass Sage, Nancy offers consistently wonderful bars of nourishing soaps without palm oil. The ingredients are great. She offers a plethora of choices and I have never bought one that I didn't love.

Best Soap Scent

This was tough because I love the Apple Spice and Peppermint Cocoa bars so much from Aunt Nancy's (these get my 2nd and 3rd choice picks in this category), but I have to give the soap scent award to Cocoa Pink for the Original Cake on Mondays. This is an incredible scent and I adore it with all my heart! The soap is rich and creamy and I just love this scent. It lasts and lasts and is just wonderful. It smells so warm and delicious in the shower when layered with cinnamon, egg nog, gingerbread, almonds, vanillas and pumpkins.

Best Shampoo

This category was divided among my 3 favorite etailer shampoos and was perhaps the most difficult category to judge just because all 3 are absolutely wonderful. It was so close because they all have their pros and cons while still being top notch. 

The winner of this category is Lady is a Shamp from Starring...! Fragrances. I'll be honest--I didn't love it at first. It seemed thin and almost watery. The first of my 3 bottles was thinner. I didn't shake it...I knew enough to shake it up and let it cure a week more and then I was in love. This isn't as thick as other liquids, but it also doesn't have a bunch of artificial thickening agents, so this isn't a bad thing at all. It lathers nicely, rinses very well, and comes in several dozen WONDERFUL blends exclusive to Ashley's company. I particularly adore the Vanilla Custard Creme and Renaissance Marchpane! The ingredients are fantastic in this one, and that is one reason I love it so much. Let's read about my 2nd and 3rd favorites.

2nd Place: Shampoo That Rocks from In a Lather is also nearly perfect. It is a dome shaped bar and lasts a long time. It lathers quite well, makes my hair look and feel fantastic and is just wonderful! I truly prefer a bottle to a bar, though, when it comes to my shampoo, and the scents are very limited. I do like Lemon Curd, though! I will buy this again.

3rd Place: When it comes to Cocoa Pink Squeaky, I like the consistency--that is truly perfect. I love the convenience of the bottles, as well as the scent choices, especially Signature White and Sweet Pumpkin. This cleanses gently and effectively, rinses clean, and is really great to use every few days as a clarifying formula. If your hair is dry like mine is, you really will want another formula in your hair care arsenal, but this really is a wonderful shampoo!


Best Conditioner

Best overall hair conditioner without a doubt is JojoElle Hair Conditioner.

This conditioner is gentle, nourishing, and the scent selection is incredible. I use this often and it is a perfect conditioner for daily use. The texture of this recipe is outstanding. I prefer this in the cooler months when my hair is a bit more on the dry side. It tames flyaways and leaves my hair soft without weighing it down.

I am going to buy this next in Cremasse. I am using it right now in Iced Pumpkin Cupcakes, Iced Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes, Chocolate Framboise, and Chocolate Boheme. You're able to get this formula in any of the scents offered by Jo and it is just a high-end quality conditioner.

Second place in this category goes to Soul Mate from Cocoa Pink, a wonderful deep conditioner to use once or twice a week. It is great after coloring your hair and will add a great sheen. It has a bit of silicone in it, which I try to avoid, but for limited use, I highly recommend this! I am really liking it in Signature White to go with my Squeaky shampoo and in Cake on Mondays, my favorite Cocoa Pink scent.

Third place was so close to being second. It is a GREAT conditioner and I love it in the summer when my hair isn't as dry. This is True Lustre Conditioner from Crater Lake Company.
It's chock full of aloe vera and other beneficial ingredients, comes in so many great scents from Sharonn, and is a great lighter conditioner. I adore it and so will you! I recommend this in Coconut Bavarois, London Lemon Curd, and any of her vanilla blends.

BEST SCENT in an Eau de Parfum of 2008

So many wonderful scents...could it be Cake on Mondays? Or Chocolate Boheme? Jo's recipe for Cremasse? Sharonn's delicious Halloween blends? Judy's summer hit Pink Satsuma? There are just so many decadent scents out there right now that I use and love and it was really close! I actually think the winner could be Cremasse, Jo's custom version at JojoElle. I have only tried this in a body scent, not perfume (although I just ordered a bottle), so I can't say how it is for certain in an EDP.

In my opinion, the best scent I have tried in 2008 goes to Crater Lake Company's Coconut Bavarois. It is heavenly. Perfection in a little bottle. 

Second, trailing very closely behind, is JojoElle's Chocolate Boheme. Yum--a decadent blend of dark chocolate and gingerbread. It's divine.

In third place is another fabulous scent--ImPeached by Starring...! Fragrances. I am not a big peach fan. Aside from Victoria's Secret Peach Hyacinth, the only other peach I've loved has been Life's a Peach, also by Starring...! and available in the fall of 2006. This is a lovely, wearble bakery peach and has quickly become a favorite of mine.

I adore all 3 companies for high-end quality, expertly blended Eau de Parfum. It takes a special nose and creative mind to come up with blends that smell as good on the skin as they appear in a scent description, and I believe that Sharonn, Jo, and Ashley are true experts at this craft. You will not be disappointed!

BEST FOAMING SCRUB

After trying several foaming scrubs now (and I still prefer a non-foaming), the last one I tried is actually the best. 

Whipped Bubble Scrub from JojoElle Whipped Bubble Scrub is the winner for me my a landslide. It exfoliates gently, has a light lather, and rinses clean. This is the most moisturizing of the bunch. You must, must, must try this in Red & White Peppermint Cake!!! It is so good.

Second place was Sugar Cloud from Crater Lake Company. This was the creamiest of the bunch while remaining scrubby, plus it lightly moisturized and rinsed off well at the same time. I needed a bit more of this one that the others, but it is still a great product.


So Broke Sugar Scrub from Cocoa Pink was my third place winner. This was the scrubbiest because of the dermabrasion crystals. This scrub rinsed well, scrubbed effectively and made my skin clean without drying it out when followed by lotion or cream. This would be tied for second, but the ingredients list on all of my jars has propylene glycol pretty high up there on the listings (which is different than the listing on site right now), so it moves into third.


BEST SUGAR SCRUB (NON-FOAMING)

No one selling scrubs makes a better one for dry, winter-ravaged skin like Sue over at Mad City Soap. Her Whipped Sugar Scrub is second to none. I have tried many scents, given many to friends, and you just cannot go wrong. If your skin is parched this winter, go grab yourself a jar and scrub the flakes away. Sue's scrub will leave your skin so nourished that your arms and legs will feel like silk and you may just be able to skip the lotion afterwards! Scent recommendions--Lemon Meringue split with Italian Cream Cake is my old stand by. I also love her holiday scents, Thin Mint Cookies, and a new scent I ordered for my mom that will be out soon in her shop!

Sue doesn't offer this scrub in the summer months, so my go-to favorite creamy sugar scrub is Creamy Dreamy Scrub from Judy at Cleanse Your Soul. It's not as nourishing as the MCS, but this makes it ideal for oilier skin types, or for everyone in the humid months. It's another winner! Try it in Lemon Buttercream Sables!


BEST LIQUID BODY WASH


The winner is clear in this category: Cleanse Your Soul Oil-Infused Creamy Body Wash.
Not only is this paraben-free product chock full of natural oils and gentle, sulfate-free cleansing agents, it is incredibly reasonable compared to others. I love Let Your Heart Be Light and a yummy butterscotch blend called Butterscotch Sugar Custard.

I ordered 3 on sale and they are creamy, nourishing, highly scented and get my skin clean without drying or irritating my sensitive skin. Even better--these have so far been non-irritating on the boys when I pour a tiny bit in their tub.

Second choice in the category is a dead heat, so I'm declaring it a tie between Coconut Hut Surf's Up Body Wash and Bath and Infused Tea Infused Body Wash. Both are of very similar consistency. They are lightly scented, cleanse effectively without drying normal or combination skin types, and are both better used with a loofah. I like both as bubble baths. 


BEST OVERALL TARTS

This was hard. I have 2 tart sellers who share this award: Starring...! Fragrances and Candles from the Keeping Room.

Both are two of the more affordable options on the market without sacrificing quality. You'll get 2-3 burnings from each tart, scent throw is wonderful, and the scents are true to their description. I love the fact that Starring...! tarts are 100% soy. I like that fact that she provides wonderful tarts from $1 each (and at 2 ounces, this is a steal). That being said, my first tart orders (when they were smaller) were more strongly scented and lasted longer. 

Don't get me wrong--they still smell heavenly and I will continue to buy them because they're truly better in green terms for our home.

If you're not choosy about paraffin vs. soy, then the strongest and truest ones on the market are Candles from the Keeping Room. Highly scented, you only need 1/2 a tart in the burner and that tart will last you 2-3 days and fill the whole downstairs as well as a good portion of the second floor. I am torn here because I love, love these tarts, but know that the fact that they contain paraffin can't make them my clear cut winner (this is a green-focused blog, remember).

Second place in this category goes to Cocoa Pink. Their tarts are smaller than the first two, but the scent throw is nice and they're renewable soy.

BEST TART SCENT I'VE TRIED in 2008

My most favorite is no longer available. This was Fruity Funnel Cake from Starring...! Fragrances and I loved it soooo much! Since this isn't made any longer, I had to choose a new BEST scent, and that prize easily can be awarded to Candles from the Keeping Room for Carol's Vanilla Iced Cinnamon Rolls scent. It smells exactly as the name implies, lasts a good 3 days, and is just exquisite!


HONORABLE MENTION

Some great items didn't have a category perhaps because that item was the ONLY one I liked in the category, or simply because they might not be things I use all the time. These great products deserve to be mentioned, though!

Bathed and Infused Scrub Bar in Cremasse--this rich cocoa butter scrub bar melts right into your skin as it scrubs away the dryness. The scent is divine as well! It's the only scrub bar I have ever really loved!

Bathed and Infused The Pin Up belongs in its own special category. In all fairness, I adore bakery scent blends, rich vanillas, and other gourmands. In the summer, though, I am known to stray and wear some gardenia blends, as this floral note (along with tuberose) is my favorite to wear. I may not be able to fairly judge this right now because when it's snowy and frigid in Upstate New York, the last thing I spritz on is a floral. That being said, this scent has cured beautifully since it arrived in my mailbox earlier this month and it will be a must-have for me in the spring and summer. I don't generally like musks, but this gardenia is blended exquisitely with a hint of musk and is a gem!

Cleanse Your Soul Creamy Oil--a simply fabulous very light summer moisturizer! Try it in Coral Sugar or Pink Satsuma for a hot and humid day!

Cocoa Pink Junket Creme Conditioner--I am just trying this over the past few days and love it thus far! A rich textured conditioner which helps soothe fried ends without weighing down the hair.

The Coconut Hut Big Kahuna Body Butter--scented in White Chocolate Dream Cake -- you just need to try it!

Another thought...I am impressed with so many great products out there today and applaud those companies who've chosen to completely eliminate parabens (and those who've begun phasing them out) and other harmful ingredients. Bravo to you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Michigan Indie Finds


Let's Open the Package Together!






Thank you, Deanna!

I know I have about a dozen Michigan readers, all in various parts of the state, so I hope some of you are near these two great finds!

My lovely friend, Deanna, sent me a package which arrived earlier today. Deanna is a regular reader of Chic & Green, and she is a Michigan resident. She and I both love handmade goods, and she sent me some wonderful things local to her. Deanna, thank you so much for this gift! I love it!

I opened up the box and first came upon some Lemon-Dried Blueberry Biscotti from Way North Foods.  The ingredients are wholesome, and unliked the pre-packaged biscotti in many grocery stores, this is just chock full of great ingredients, from wheat flour to lemon zest.

I then found a classic holiday tin (which I love) and inside it was a glass jar from Le Cocoa Bee--delicious smelling Lemon Whipped Honey. There isn't a website listed on the jar, but this is a wildflower honey with lemon oil and comes from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

I am actually going to try these in a few minutes. It's been snowing on top of Friday's massive snowfall, so school is closed today. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, as tomorrow is the last day before break and Nick is excited about his kindergarten Christmas party.

Nick, Ben, and I all woke up with colds and sore throats today and as of noon, I am setting a record by still sitting in a robe drinking tea. I am brewing another cup right now (Teaman on Etsy's Chamomile) and I am waiting to add some of this Lemon Whipped Honey to the cup! I bet this will soothe my throat and add a beautiful flavor at the same time.

I can't say "thank you" enough to Deanna! She and I haven't known each other that long, actually. She was asking me a couple of product questions on Etsy and we hit it off right away and became fast friends, emailing often. Thank you, my friend, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

My Michigan readers--if you're in this part of Michigan (not far from Detroit), please try out these great local to you finds!

Lolli Lovelies: A Gift for a Friend


I feel so blessed to have the gift of friendship in my life, and what a wonderful gift this would be for that special friend in your life.

I found this pretty collage over at Kathy Jacobson Designs on Lollishops.

It's perfect for that special friend in your life who shares your love of all thinks pink and Shabby Chic. It's adorned with a silk bow and sells for $18.

ETSY LOVE: Custom Ballet Flats


I have never had shoes customized, but these comfy-looking Vegan ballet flats from Hydra Heart are made just for you for $38.

The shop, of course, is closed for holiday shipping right now, but what a treat to give yourself as a little gift! This newer Etsy shop also has kimono flats available right now. I am really looking forward to seeing what other fabrics are offered in the New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rewind: Strawberry Mask


Note: This DIY recipe is part of my REWIND series and originally was published in August.
Chic & Green will have new pieces again tomorrow.


You'll need 3 berries & the white of 1 egg




2 teaspoons of your favorite honey




Mix egg white into the honey




Stir in berries and blend until frothy



Today we're going to make a simple facial mask. This isn't a paste or a hardening clay mask. It's going to be a bit messy, but the results will be worth it!

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits to use in skin care. Not only does the fruit of the berry contain more vitamin C than oranges, the leaves alone contain 4 times as much vitamin C! Strawberries also contain salicylic acid, also know as beta hydroxy acid, which is oil-soluble, meaning it can penetrate into the pores and help "de-gunk". I'm going to touch upon a condition called Keratosis Pilaris (KP).


I have found 2 completely natural treatments for my own KP. Your results may vary. I use coconut oil (virgin 76 degree) every single night on my arms faithfully. Coconut oil has been used for many years to naturally treat various skin conditions, and it truly has helped my Keratosis Pilaris. With the coconut oil, I also used the recipe I am going to share with you today. The salicylic acid from the berries helps, in my case, to treat the Keratosis Pilaris naturally. Again, I am not a doctor and your results may not be the same as mine.

I use this messy mask often. I have battled Keratosis Pilaris (those pesky little red bumps on the backs of the arms for me...on arms, legs and other areas for many as well) for more than 10 years. KP is caused by the skin producing too much keratin, which then traps the hair follciles in the pores. Even though KP is a harmless condition, I know from my own experience that it can cause self esteem issues. Before I had my KP under control I wouldn't wear sleeveless shirts. Sometimes I would be asked, "Did you know you have a rash on the back of your arms?"



I went to my dermatologist years back who told me to apply Am Lactin or Lac Hydrin. Neither worked well and smelled heavily of ammonia. She advised me to avoid mechanical scrubs, as they would only further aggravate the problem and cause scratching and bleeding. This was very true in my case. Once I stopped trying to scrub away a skin problem that cannot be scrubbed away, the redness did tame a bit.


I found great help in Paula Begoun's 2% BHA and her AHA products. When used together faithfully, my keratosis pilaris diminished by about 80% in a couple of months. While I am thankful to have found relief, I am not crazy about the ingredients in either product. Both contain potentially irritating ingredients and parabens and are full of silicones.


Stopping my Paula's Choice regimen was hard because that meant I had to find other avenues of treating a skin condition that never really is cured if you stop treating it.

So let's make my messy berry mask! Please note that it is a very thin and frothy mixture. Many recipes are more like a paste because they contain cornstarch or baking soda. I find that neither are necessary and can be a bit harsh on your skin. Even though it's a bit messy, it is very effective!



You will need the following ingredients:


*3 medium sized strawberries (rinsed)
*1 egg white
*2 teaspoons of your favorite honey


Step 1: Put your honey in a bowl. Add the egg white and mix it with the honey.


Step 2: Mash strawberries with a fork or chop in your food processor. I also add the leaves for added vitamin C. Mixture will appear slightly frothy.


Step 3: Since this is so messy, I brush the mixture on to my skin. Leave on 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.


The mask works especially well on oily skin. I use it on my face a couple of times a week in the summer when my skin is more on the oily side. As I said earlier, I use this faithfully several times a week on my KP and use it in conjunction with coconut oil. I never scrub the area, and I follow with a fragrance-free goat's milk lotion, because I find that the natural lactic acid in the milk also helps! You need to keep up with this on a regular basis, as Keratosis Pilaris is a chronic condition.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back on Monday

The boys' snowman "shrunk" with the new snowfall.


Chic & Green will be back on Monday. We had a bit of a snow storm here and my mom was stranded with us. She came to babsit Ben so we could take Nick to have some testing done at an audiologist, and ended up having to stay another night because of the incredible snowfall.

Nick's been having some issues hearing in his left ear for the past several months. We're trying to get to the bottom of it, but have had to go through red tape to get him evaluated at age 5 rather than waiting until the standard age of 7.  Yesterday morning he had a lengthy test done  and will go back after the holidays for the second test with the diagnosis and treatment plan being presented to us at the end of next month. Seeing the difference between his right and left ears while having the testing done was of great concern and having a treatment plan and diagnosis can't come soon enough.

Tom ventured out for some Christmas shopping today (ahead of his typical schedule) and my tired boys are actually resting right now...I'm not allowed to call it a "nap" with them or they get upset, but they are both having "rest time."

I can't wait to share my BEST IN GLOW awards with you on December 23rd! 

I am sorry to be ignoring the blog a bit, but I am just enjoying this time with the boys and trying to get all of the last minute holiday items done.

See you on Monday!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chic & Green Rewind: DIY Foaming Bath Whip & Foaming Scrubs

Rewind continues...here is an easy and fun recipe which I originally posted September 10th. These make great gifts as well...

Start with Foaming Bath Whip base

I use Vanilla Essential Oil to scent

White sugar works well in a foaming scrub


The Chocolate Mint Scrub contains cocoa powder

This is the amount of suds I am getting just from rinsing the bowl I used in running water!

The finished Chocolate Mint Foaming Scrub

The finished Vanilla Bath Whip

The result of the 20 minute DIY Project!


Today for DIY Wednesday we're going to use 1 base to make two different products.

This is a very simple project and you will be able to make 2 products--Foaming Bath Whip (cream soap) and a Foaming Sugar Scrub--in about 20 minutes start to finish!

Let's talk about our supplies. I am using CRAFTER'S CHOICE FOAMING BATH WHIP BASE from Wholesale Supplies Plus. I have a one gallon bucket. This will cost around $30, but will make many large jars for you to make as gifts or just for some at-home pampering!

You'll also need some carrier oil. I like GRAPESEED OIL because it is a very non greasy oil. SWEET ALMOND OIL is also great in this. Buy these at your favorite natural foods store or even at some supermarkets. Wegmans has both oils.

I am also using VANILLA ESSENTIAL OIL, COCOA ABSOLUTE, and PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL for the scenting of these items.

A good organic cocoa powder and plain white sugar will be used in the scrub.

Lastly, you'll be whipping these great items up with a hand blender.

We're going to make the FOAMING BATH WHIP first. This is a rich and thick bath cream or cream soap. It is perfect for shaving your legs!

I am making a simple vanilla bath whip with Vanilla Essential Oil.

Start with 8 ounces of bath whip base. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Blend for about 5 minutes with your hand mixer. Make sure you scrape the sides of your bowl so you incorporate everything. Fold in several drops of vanilla essential oil, or scent of your choice. If you are using a synthetic fragrance oil, use 2-3%. I recommend gently folding the oil in with a spatula.

If you only want to make the bath whip, place in jars and you're done!

If you'd like to make a scrub, then leave half of it in the mixing bowl. My scrub will use that vanilla foaming bath whip. Add in 4-6 ounces of sugar to your vanilla bath whip and gently incorporate into your bath whip. It looks like a great deal of sugar, but do not worry!

Add in 3 T. of cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is loaded with antioxidants and contains copper, so this delicious smelling baking staple is also beneficial to your skin! Now I am adding in about 8 drops of peppermint essential oil and 6 drops of cocoa absolute. Gently fold in again.

Now you have a creamy chocolate mint sugar scrub that will foam right up!

When placed in the jars, it'll look like you have 2 dishes of ice cream. If you want to be fancy, you can add in mica, liquid colorants or even sprinkles. You can also pipe the bath whip like a cake icing if this is a special gift.

If you have a lot of product left (dependent on jar size), just place it in an airtight container. I have a Tupperware container of bath whip in my cabinet.

Note: If these are for you or someone you know will use them fairly quickly, you don't need to add a preservative. If you plan to sell these or store them for any length of time, you absolutely need to add a preservative. I recommend Optiphen, which is paraben free, making sure to follow the manufacter's guidelines.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Huge Soap Deal at Aunt Nancy's


Nan over at Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soaps is having a fantastic deal right now, TODAY, to get 6 bars for the price of her great 5-soap deal with FREE SHIPPING and delivery by Christmas! Yay!

I don't need more soaps for our family, and I already have several set aside for gifts, but that doesn't mean YOU can't click the link over to Nancy's Etsy store and take advantage of this great deal! You really cannot beat this deal--you'll be getting 6 bars for $25 including shipping AND get a free handmade lip balm too. Her soap is top-notch. This deal is done after today, so check it out! What great stocking stuffers her soaps will be!

DIY Wednesday REWIND: DIY Fragrance 3 Ways

*This is part of my "It's almost the holidays and Karley is on vacation" REWIND series featuring my favorite posts from throughout the life of Chic & Green. This DIY feature was originally posted in August.



The Oils We're Using: Day Star "The Original Vanilla Bean" and "Hey, Sugar!" as well as Wholesale Supplies Plus Amazing Grace type


EDP Supplies: Perfumer's Alcohol, Bottle and Fragrance Oil



Sweet Almond Oil and Fragrance Oil for the Roll On



Now we have 3 new fragrances!



LET'S MAKE SOME PERFUME!

Making your own fragrances is one of the easiest things you can make once you have the right supplies.

With the wonderful companies out there providing the public with fragrance oils ranging from apple to marijuana (if that's what you'd like to smell like), the options are endless. Almost every fragrance oil supplier also makes "Designer Duplications". These are, in many cases, knock offs of designer and high end fragrances. Some smell identical. Some do not. You really have to buy the smallest bottle first, sample it, and then decide where to order from.

Many people ask "Why not just buy the real thing?"

This is a valid question. I know I prefer to buy fragrance oils to make designer duplications at home because I can then make matching hair care items, lotions, etc. with that oil and not have it full of parabens and other nasties. I also like the price--you can make several items from one small bottle of fragrance oil. Making perfume is also fun!

Here are my most favorite fragrance oil suppliers for body-safe scents (in no special order):

Day-Star Candle & Soap Supply
The Scent Works
Just Scent
Wholesale Supplies Plus
Sweet Cakes
Flickers Fragrances

Today we're going to make 3 types of fragrances: Eau de Parfum, Perfume Oil Roll On, and a Dry Oil Spray. I have chosen 3 fragrance favorites for this project: a duplication of the discontinued Bath and Body Works Vanilla Bean (not to be confused with the popular Vanilla Bean Noel), a duplication of the Bath and Body Works Hello, Sugar! fragrance, and a duplication of Philosophy Amazing Grace.


VANILLA BEAN EAU DE PARFUM

Let's start with VANILLA BEAN EAU DE PARFUM. There are many places on the internet from which to buy supplies. I get my perfume bottles at The Scent Works. I just like the classic square shaped bottle with silver cap. My fragrance oil for this is from Day-Star Candle & Soap Supply. They recently came out with a duplicate oil of my favorite vanilla scent that Bath and Body Works discontinued several years ago. Day-Star calls this one "The Original Vanilla."
I am so picky with my "dupe" oils and this one smells identical to the original once it has cured for a few days.

You'll need to choose your perfume base. I like Artisan's Alcohol from Snowdrift Farm. It is free of isopropyl alcohol. It is, in my view, the best alcohol to use for making perfume. That being said, I am all out of Artisan's Alcohol, so I am using Perfumer's Alcohol, which I am also nearly out of. Perfumer's Alcohol seems to be the most popular.

If you have pipettes handy, please use them. They will aid in adding your oils to any bottle with a narrow opening. If you don't, it is OK right now.


I am making a 1 ounce glass bottle of perfume. To do this, follow a simple ratio. I usually add 50% fragrance oil. 40% is fine for much stronger oils, but not most vanillas. Anymore than 50% is generally too harsh on the skin. With this vanilla, you need the full 50%, so my oil to alcohol ratio is 50/50.

Add your two ingredients to the glass bottle. Tightly close your cap and put the overcap on. You can shake this to blend, but I prefer to gently rock it back and forth like I do my nail polishes. Gently rock the bottle back and forth to blend a bit.

You have now made Eau de Parfum. Just remember to mark which scent you have put in, because once you make your first perfume, you will undoubtedly be making many more!

I find that Eau de Parfum can take at least a few days to "cure". Let the oil blend with the perfumer's alcohol and the scent will reach its full potential. I actually make my perfumes and put them in a dark, dry cabinet for 2 weeks and "forget" about them. When I take them out, they will smell much more delcious!


HEY, SUGAR PERFUME OIL ROLL ON

"Hey, Sugar!" is what Day-Star calls their version of Hello, Sugar! from Bath and Body Works. This is another fragrance oil from this supplier that smells just like the original.

I like perfume oils. Most times I wear oil blends made only with essential oils. Some days, though, I just want yummy bakery scents. I prefer perfume oils over their alcohol cousins because they're non-drying, they last along time on your skin, and they are the more natural alternative. I have about 30 roll on perfume oils that I have made just for me, let alone my other favorites from some of my etailer friends (I love Crater Lake Company's Touch Ups in the sweet almond oil base).

You can use any carrier oil in a perfume oil. I prefer jojoba oil or sweet almond oil. Jojoba oil has a very, very long shelf life. Either will work well and neither have a base smell of any kind like alcohol can. You can purchase these oils at your local natural foods store or in some large supermarkets. Online suppliers also carry these.

Today we're going to use a 0.33 ounce roll on glass bottle. You can buy some at Elements Bath & Body Supply at a very affordable price. This is a fantastic bottle supplier as well.

Today we are using Sweet Almond Oil because that is what was the most handy. Add 50% sweet almond or other carrier oil to 50% fragrance oil. Push the roll on tip firmly and add the cap. Now you can roll/shake gently. Voila! Now you have your own Perfume Oil.

Dry Oil Spray

Dry oil sprays are fun because they add a silky sheen to the skin and you will glisten, plus you'll geta fairly long-lasting fragrance. I am making an Amazing Grace type fragrance in this one today. I have tried Amazing Grace type fragrance oils from many suppliers and the two that smell the closest and do not turn on my skin are from Wholesale Supplies Plus and The Scent Works.

For this you'll need cyclomethicone, which is a dry oil (a silicone). You can find many on the internet. I buy this at  Wholesale Supplies Plus. 

There are several ways to make a dry oil spray. You can simply use cyclomethicone and fragrance oil if you'd like. Why not? I like using grapeseed oil in mine. Grapeseed adds moisture and will nourish a bit more, but is still non-greasy. Shea oil works well, too.

I am using a 2 ounce PET plastic bottle for this. I use a ratio of 50% cyclomethicone, 25% grapeseed oil and 25% fragrance oil. I am using the Amazing Grace Type fragrance oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus today.

First add the cyclomethicone.

Now add your grapeseed oil.

Add the fragrance.

Shake!

Now you've made your own Dry Oil Spray which is a nice all over body spray!



Now That You're Done

You now have your own perfume creations! You can get fancy and label them with pretty labels that you make or print out. You can decorate them, tie them with ribbon and give them as gifts. I just mark the scent on mine with scent labels because I remember what I have made for myself.

If you like blends, start experimenting. How about one of my favorite Vanilla Bean Noel blends which I call RICE FLOWER & SHEA NOEL? It is 40% Wholesale Supplies Plus Vanilla Bean Noel Type, 40% Scent-Works Rice Flower & Shea BBW type, and 20% Day Star Matin Calin Sugar Milk type.

The possibilities are endless!


A Look Ahead


In the coming weeks, we'll make a foaming sugar scrub, a salt glow body rub, and tinted lip glosses.