Archive | February, 2013

The DIY Life: Homemade Lotion Bars

25 Feb

I know I’m not the only one suffering from dry winter skin. Between the constant hand washing, hot showers, and the furnace sapping the moisture out of the air, my skin is THIRSTY!  I always apply lotion when I get out of the shower, and in the winter I will use coconut or body oil since it seems so much more in need of the additional moisture! I’ve been seeing lotion bars popping up everywhere – at beauty stores, online shops, and make your own recipes floating around on the internet. Since I’m more of a DIY girl, I figured I would just make my own! These were so simple to make. I did a total of 6 bars with shea butter and olive oil on the first batch, adding a little bit of lavender essential oil to half of the batch as a nice little bonus since I was gifting them. For my 2nd batch, I did a combo of shea & cocoa butter mixed with coconut oil. They smell lovely! I love these lotion bars. Rubbed directly onto the skin, they offer soothing, much needed moisture. They are all natural, so it’s nice knowing there are no weird additives or chemicals in them that can give my sensitive skin a reaction. I hope that you enjoy these as much as I do!

lotion bars unmolded

Homemade Hard Lotion Bars

The formula for these is very simple – equal parts beeswax, a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut, and shea or cocoa butter. When using shea butter, be sure to add this last since if you add it with the beeswax and carrier oil it can turn grainy, which would be gross.

Here’s the process.

I made a double boiler out of a pot and glass bowl, filling the pot up about halfway with tap water.

Add in your beeswax and carrier oil. It took about 20 minutes for the beeswax to melt for mine, but I was using chunks of it and did 12 oz of each item for this batch so I could have 1/2 dozen 2oz bars.

Once your oil and beeswax are combined, add in your shea or cocoa butter, stirring until dissolved. Once all the ingredients are combined, immediately put the mixture into molds. I used square silicone muffin molds which made them easy to pop out and gave them a cute little shape. If you want to add any essential oil, you will need to do it at this stage – add a few drops of the oil of your choice, using a toothpick to incorporate. Don’t wait too long since the mixture cools rather quickly and this could affect the look of your lotion bars.

Once the bars are totally set, pop them out of the molds and store them in a container for easy use. I packaged up a few as a gift in a clear bag with a cute little tag and bakers twine. The ones that were left for myself I stored in a wide-mouthed deco mason jar so they were easy to get to.

lotion bars packaged

The Shea and Cocoa butter as well as the beeswax I used were raw and unrefined, purchased through some great sellers on Etsy. I have a tub of organic unrefined coconut oil on hand at all times for all kinds of uses which I purchased at a local health store. The olive oil I use is purchased right from the grocery store! Links listed below if you need somewhere to get the ingredients that you can’t just walk into the grocery store and purchase!

raw, organice unrefined shea butter

raw, unrefined beeswax

raw cocoa butter

essential oils

Boring lunch fix! Spinach & Cheese Toasts!

19 Feb

I’m in a slump. A winter time lunch slump. I also think I’m, for lack of a better term, bored. I hate the word bored, but I’ve been finding things for myself to do. On a whim I colored my whole brunette head a bright red. Because I finally found a shade of red that said HEY! PICK ME! You’ll look fabulous!!! I love it.

red head girl

But back to the lunch slump….I’m trying to avoid eating overprocessed deli meats….and to be honest I’ve burned out a little from sandwiches. Remove the deli meats and you are left with a cheese sandwich, pb & j, tuna or chicken salad…you see where I’m going. BORING. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some pb & j, especially when the J is homemade strawberry jam. But, well, it’s still boring. Monday – Friday, I’m a working stiff and I have got to eat lunch. My coworkers do not deserve to be subjected to me being hangry.  On the weekends, it’s not a requirement for me to eat lunch since I usually whip up a substantial breakfast. But I’ve certainly got a better set up at home for making a meal than I do at work. At work, we’ve got a toaster, fridge, and microwave. That limits my lunch choices. Since I’m trying to eat healthier, incorporate more veggies, and really stick to eating whole grain products as much as I can, the Spinach & Cheese Toasts lunch was born! It’s a pretty simple set up – whole grain bread, baby spinach, cheese & pepper. Yep. That’s it. And damn…it’s GOOD! I’m getting some veggies into the meal, the whole grain (whole grain as in I can SEE the grains. Not “whole grain” where everything is milled into a fine dust of submission) helps keep me full, and the cheese makes me feel like I’m eating something bad for me, but I’m getting a serving of dairy. To round this out a little and make it feel more like a meal, I have some marinated mushrooms along side it. Next up, I’m going to quick pickle some shrimp and have those with it for an added boost of protein and yummy, citrus laden refreshing flavor! (yes, I’ll post the recipe if my quick pickling tastes yummy like I envision it will!)

spinach & cheese toasts

So, here’s the “recipe”

2 slices whole grain, crusty bread – toasted

1/2 cup baby spinach

2 slices good deli cheese or enough slices of block cheese to cover 2 slices of bread

Put a layer of spinach on each piece of toast, topping with your cheese and a sprinkling of pepper. For optimum results, place under a broiler for a few minutes to get the cheese nice and melty, wilting the spinach a little. If you are limited and only have a microwave, zap is for 45 seconds to melt the cheese. Enjoy!

Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Bacon & Onion

11 Feb

Hello my sarcastic followers! I’m not sure why, but I’ve been on a cabbage kick recently. Maybe it’s because of my Slovak background and I’m getting hungry for halushki. Maybe it’s because it’s cold out and since the chickens have limited access to greens, we always have a few heads of cabbage around so they can have a treat. Maybe it’s because I just spent a week in Las Vegas and ate and drank so much not so good for me stuff that I need a bodily reset back to healthy eating habits!!! Who knows. But I was wanting to come up with a way to eat cabbage that was healthier than good old-fashioned butter laden halushki, and tastier than steamed or no butter added sautéed cabbage. And the roasted cabbage wedge was born! It’s a very easy side dish to make. It’s relatively healthy (2 tablespoons of butter divided by 6 servings!). And even the leftovers are great. We ate this alongside a marinated pork tenderloin that cooked in the oven on the same baking sheet as the cabbage. Dinner was ready to eat in under an hour, including prep work and cook time. I would actually be perfectly content to eat these cabbage wedges on some egg noodles and have that as a meal. A lower fat sub for halushki!

Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Bacon & Onion

1 small head cabbage, cleaned and trimmed of any wilted leaves

2 tablespoons melted butter (do not use margarine!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 slices precooked bacon, chopped

1 small Vidalia onion, sliced into half moons

kosher salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut cabbage into single serving wedges, coring out the hard stem section. You should have about 6 wedges. Place them on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt your butter. To that bowl, add the olive oil and stir to combine. Using a pastry brush, brush each wedge of cabbage, focusing on the top parts since the butter/oil mixture will pool underneath the cabbage wedges.

Distribute chopped bacon and onion moons over each cabbage wedge, then sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.

Place in preheated oven and let cook for 35-40 minutes, until cabbage is cooked and getting nice and roasted. Onions will be brown/charred. Serve and enjoy!