Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons real vanilla
1 cup shaved semi-sweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 375º 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.
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
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
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.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Best Overall Soap
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
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
Thursday, December 18, 2008
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
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!
The Oils We're Using: Day Star "The Original Vanilla Bean" and "Hey, Sugar!" as well as Wholesale Supplies Plus Amazing Grace type
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
Wholesale Supplies Plus
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.
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.