Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kitchen Facials by Request!!!

That's right this is my first request from a gaggle of Momma's in Mountain Home, AK who have now been nicknamed my Bifocal Beauties! One of these ladies suggested I give some advice towards creating a spa facial for yourself with easy to find ingredients right in the comfort of your home.  NO PROBLEM!!!  Like anything worth while, a little prep work and some dedicated time, will take this DIY mini spa treatment up a notch!  

Since the Bifocal Beauties are rounding second base and turning fifty, which of course is the new twenty-five, I thought I would focus this first kitchen facial on dryness.  Let's exfoliate, soothe, and hydrate that skin.  Before you know it you'll be doing weekly facials and kicking yourself for not doing them sooner!  

This might be a great girlfriend project so you don't destroy your computer leaning over it trying to read what to do next with a wet face! So grab a gal-pal, share the costs of the ingredients and don't forget that magazine so that while one momma relaxes the other catches up on the latest chick gossip!  Go Girl Power!!

Okay let's get excited and get our gear! 
gentle eye makeup remover and cotton pads if needed
3 washcloths rolled in a microwavable bowl half full of water and covered with a kitchen towel 
a creamy, plain cleanser (no foaming, refining, exfoliating, or gritty cleansers)*
1/4 cup of regular refined sugar in a small dish
1 washcloth soaked and swimming in bowl of whole milk or buttermilk at room temp
2 large bath towels or 1 towel and 1 blanket
1-2 pillows as needed
relaxing music (optional)
1 cup of good quality Aloe Vera gel in a small dish
1 fresh super ripe, awesome smelling orange or tangerine, peeled and peels set aside in a dish
kitchen timer (optional)
a gentle alcohol free toner, rose water, or 1 bag of steeped green tea left at room temp applied with cotton pads
1 box of tissue
a good quality moisturizer or night cream*
eye cream, lip moisturizer (optional)
16 oz glass of filtered water
   * If you don't use or know what to use, go to a drugstore and get Aveeno Ultra-Calming products or Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser/Moisturizing Lotion as a start. Don't forget a good chick magazine while you're there!  

Step 1: Prep
Decide where you are going to be doing your main face washing: bathroom, kitchen sink. 
From there find a cozy place not too far away and lay a bath towel or blanket on the ground and a pillow for under your knees, add more as needed. This will be where you relax while you're masking. Remember half the yumminess of the spa is the relaxation. This also benefits the skin, so don't skip this step!!!

Once that is set up, take the rest of your gear to your main hub. Place the sugar next to your cleanser. Place the milk dish behind that. Twist a little orange zest into the aloe and place the aloe next to the milk. Set your toner (seep your green tea bag now), cotton pads, tissue, moisturizer, eye cream and lip moisturizer next to the aloe. Set your large bath towel next to the sink. Place your bowl of wet washcloths in the microwave for 2-3 minutes keep covered with dry cloth and when done carefully set on other side of sink.  

Step 2:  Cleanse
Tie back your hair. Wash your hands. Gently remove eye makeup and lipstick with remover and cotton pads if needed.  Turn the water to a nice warm temperature NOT HOT and splash your face 2-3 times to moisten skin. Take a half dollar's amount of cleanser into your palm and add and lightly mix in a Tbsp or so of sugar. Then cleanse your entire face in upward, circular motions using your three middle fingers.  Once you've applied your cleanser take a minute to cleanse deeper by gently rubbing little circles into the face, neck and decollete if you feel like it.  Start under the neck, go up to the chin, around the the mouth and those laugh lines, circle out from those lines to the cheeks, then back the nose and get into the creases, on top of the nose, gently around the eyes making sweeping figure eights, eyebrows, and finally the forehead. Make sure to get into the hairline!  Quickly grab one warm washcloth from the bowl and gently remove cleanser in outward sweeping motions.  If needed, splash face with lukewarm water to remove excess cleanser. Then, Pat Pat Pat dry with your bath towel.  Feel your skin. Does it feel smooth and clean like it can breathe a little bit more?  If so go on to the next step. If it still feels dull and heavy, repeat this step before moving on.  

Step 3: Exfoliate
Grab your milk bowl. Lightly ring out the washcloth and gently pat the milk into your skin, over the sink. Do this for a few minutes so that all of the face and neck receives a good coating of milk. Be gentle around the eyes but feel free to pat them too.  Use this cloth to rub your mouth to help remove any chapping.  If there is any extra milk in the bowl, splash it onto your face. It's okay if you get it in your eyes. This is a gentle exfoliation. Think of Cleopatra when you do this.  She used to bath in milk!  Do not rinse the milk.  Just pat dry under the chin if drips.

Step 4: Steam
Pull out your large bath towel.  Turn your sink water on to HOT. Place your towel over your head and make a tent with your towel over your sink to steam your face.  Try to manipulate your towel so that the hot steam gets trapped inside and doesn't leak out. Be careful not to burn your face on the faucet or lean in too close that hot water will splash your face.  When leaning over the sink, try to stick out your butt and make a L shape with your legs and back. Now with your arms stretched out over the towel continuing the L shape, feel a long stretch in your spine.  Take deep breathes of this warm steam sauna-like air and feel it healing your skin and soul. Take a few minutes to meditate on all you have to be thankful for, including this opportunity to take care of yourself.  These thoughts are cleansing to the soul, mind, and body!  Stay here as long as you can enjoy the steam but not exceeding 15 minutes.  When done, take one last breath, bend the knees, and grab a warm moist towel from the bowl and very gently remove any milk that may be left on the face.  Then, pat pat the skin with the bath towel but keep the skin damp.  

Step 5: Hydrate and Relax
Grab your aloe bowl. If you haven't already twisted some orange peel zest into your aloe do so now.  Take some extra peel and twist it onto your decollete for an uplifting aroma.  Now gently apply the aloe mask in a thick, even coat to the neck and face.  Get close to the eye but don't get into the eye. Feel free to coat the lips of the mouth as well.  Once mask is well applied, find your resting place.  Turn on music if you'd like and a timer for 20 minutes if you think you might fall asleep.  Otherwise, lay down slowly, place the pillow under your knees.  Try to broaden your chest pulling your shoulder blades back towards each other and down the spine creating more space for deeper breath and a more comfortable neutral spine position.  Take a deep breath into your back and enjoy the uplifting aromas of oranges.  Try to let every muscle in your body relax and grow limp from your forehead, eyes, cheeks, and jaw all the way down to your knees, ankles, feet, and toes. Once your body is relaxed, let your mind relax.  Take another moment of thankfulness and then let your mind fall silent. This masking meditation should last at a minimum of 5 minutes and at a maximum of 20 minutes.  Enjoy!!! (This step should not burn or feel "spicy" to the skin.  If so, remove promptly with cool water. It  may be too much moisture for extremely dry skin. Continue with the relaxation with a nice cool washcloth on the face.)

Step 6: Finish
I know! Drag yourself back up to standing. Shake the body out slowly.  Grab your bowl of wet towels.  If they are ice cold place in microwave for another minute.  If they are warm go ahead and gently start removing the aloe mask from the face.  You may need to run the wash cloth under warm water if the mask if really dry on the face.  Remember to sweep upward and outward.  Take your time and remove all the product.  

Next grab your toner or room temp tea and with a cotton pad wipe the toner into the skin.  Lightly coat the entire face.  Your face should just be moist not wet.  If it's wet, use a tissue to blot the moisture.  

Apply a DAB of eye cream around the bone of the eye NOT any closer!!! Too much eye cream can lead to puffy eyes and teary ducts!!!! Apply a lip moisturizer if wanted.  

Now, take a deep breath, and apply the face cream. Rub it into the hands and pat it into the face with the whole palm of your hand, starting from the neck up to the cheeks and outside of the face, to the interior of the face and up to the forehead.  Pat in until the entire face is well coated with a refreshing moisturizer. This should feel like a good coat of moisture but not super heavy or greasy.  Make sure it is soaked into the skin and not sitting on top.  You should feel like your skin is bit plumper, lighter, hydrated, and at least breathing!  Feel free to do this every 3-4 weeks or when feeling dry, tight skin.  Aaahhh! How do you feel?

Congratulations! You just gave yourself a spa worthy mini facial!!  Thank yourself for the time, your girlfriend if you teamed up for being such an awesome chicka, and those lovely Bifocal Beauties who suggested this little luxury!!!  Now sit down and chat with your girlfriend or if solo read that magazine while you drink your water and snack on some yummy ripe oranges!  Remember to take good care of yourself mind, body, and soul and have a great rest of your day!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gotta Eat This! Yummy Yellow Vegetable Soup

I stumbled across this recipe last fall and it became an instant hit!  People in my family are already asking if it's cool enough outside for some of that yummy yellow vegetable soup!  Yellow because I have a huge jar of turmeric and if I can find a recipe that will gladly welcome the flavor I add it!  Plus, the benefits of turmeric far outweigh the "different" yellow color it adds to the dish. I think of it as a true fall soup.  For a list of the twenty awesome benefits of turmeric check this link:  But, my favorites are that it has potent anti-inflammatory properties, natural painkiller, and help boost depression. No wonder this has been used for hundreds of centuries in India and Asia.  All that makes me feel even better about serving this dish knowing everyone will feel so satisfied with a full belly of body boosting yellow vegetable soup! This recipe needs to jump right into your cookbook! Secret tip: make a little extra and keep it in a freezer proof jar/bag.  Then, thaw and mix this with some chicken, cheddar, and cream as your base for an awesome chicken pot pie!!! 

Yummy Yellow Vegetable Soup:
4 tbsp good olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (about 3-4)
4-5 cloves finely minced garlic 
kosher salt
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (about 2-3 large)
2 cups fresh celery, cleaned and diced
2 cups golden potatoes, cleaned and diced (don't bother pealing or use peeled russets)
2 cups fresh garden peas OR 1 16 oz bag of frozen organic peas, thawed and drained
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth, good quality or homemade!
4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes OR 1 32 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, crush with hand (good quality)
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed OR 1 16 oz bag of frozen organic sweet corn, thawed and drained
1 16 oz can navy beans, good quality, rinsed and drained
ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh Italian parsley (make sure it smells good and save some for garnish)
1 to 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 tbsp ground turmeric, make sure it's fresh
2-3 tsp of each dried thyme, basil, and oregano 
1 good quality hard cheese rind optional (I save my parm reggiano and Gouda cheese rinds and drop into soups and sauces just make sure you peel all wax off before dropping in or make sure you pull out before serving!!!!) 
shaved good quality Parmesan Reggiano for garnish 
optional: add swiss chard, quinoa, other beans

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, celery, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Add the carrots, potatoes and cook 4 to 5 more minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add the stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, turmeric, pepper, thyme, basil, oregano, and cheese rind (don't add more salt at this point it will make the beans tough!).  Stir and reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from heat add fresh parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  When serving garnish with fresh parsley, shaved cheese, drizzle with olive oil, pepper, and serve with fresh crusty bread or day old bread rubbed with a garlic clove, drizzled with olive oil and baked till crispy. YUM YUM!! Freeze the leftovers in a doubled freezer bag or freeze proof jar. And the love doesn't stop there...

Leftover Easy but Yummy Chicken Pot Pie:
Thaw frozen bag of Yellow Vegetable Soup all day
1 large or 2 medium grilled/sauteed chicken breasts, diced
1/2 c medium cheddar, cubed
1/4 c heavy whipping cream, warmed in pan with 1 tsp butter
homemade pie crust OR 1 package of pie crusts
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease pie dish and line with pie crust, prick and cook for 10 minutes. While cooking, saute chicken breasts. Let pie crust cool for a 5 minutes. Cube chicken when done.  Warm cream and butter in pan.  Add soup to cream mixture to warm.  Add cheese cubes and chicken to soup till blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour into pie shell and top with pie crust.  Make sure to add slits or a design on top. Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes on a cookie sheet for dripping.  Serve with crusty bread or rolls.  Ummm boy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I am pretty sure I am behind on this monkey chain but, I guess better late than never and thought I would spread the word just in case you are super out of the loop as well.  Needless to say with all the concerns about BPA, and they are worth being concerned about, a mini plastic phobia has spread through our house.  I even get freaked out about yogurt cups and plastic bags now! I thought I was proactive, responsible, and supermom worthy when I recycled all of our plastic ware and purchased Sigg bottles and porcelain dishes to replace them.  I found a great site that had all models of Sigg bottles even the older designs and purchased a few; specifically the dog one we lost to whale watching! Feeling like I had one less thing to worry about, I moved on and of course ran smack into this recall. You really can never win!! I checked our Siggs' immediately and of course three of our new ones (which I guess were actually older ones) have the copper liner with BPA in it. So I am glad I ran into this and am glad I can send it back for new ones at just the cost of shipping! So check your Sigg bottles today and make sure you have light yellow BPA free lined bottles!!! Here's how to get your new Sigg bottles:

Exchange Program

August 2009
UNITED STATES [for CANADA, please see below.]

(USA) – If you are concerned about your bottles with our former liner, SIGG is happy to offer a voluntary exchange program.

Bottles containing our former liner can be exchanged for SIGG bottles utilizing the BPA-free EcoCare liner.

First, determine which liner you have. You can see pictures here -

Download the following shipping documents and box up your bottles with the former liner.

1) USA Shipping Label - please place this on the outside of the box:

Download the USA Shipping Label Here.

2) USA Return Form - please fill this out completely and place it inside the box.

Download the Return Form.

Please note that you will need to pay to ship your bottles inbound to SIGG for replacement as this is a voluntary program - not a recall. 

You may keep the tops/caps of your current bottles as they will serve as handy extras when you choose your replacement bottles.

SIGG is not offering refunds. This exchange offer is available through October 31, 2009.

After your bottles are received at our warehouse, you will be contacted directly with regard to your replacements. SIGG changes its bottle designs every year, so exact replacements are not always possible.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Woes of Rhumatoid Arthritis

It's that time of the year again when the warm sunshine of summer simmers into a cool, damp fall.  This time of transition signals lots of new beginnings some comforting like warm soup and some frustrating like sore, creaky joints!  This year has been a bad year for my psoriasis and arthritis. But it's allowed me to get to know my body a little better.  I am constantly trying to find out what works and what doesn't.  As I wake up this morning with a super sore, swollen  ankle I want to kick myself for eating what I did yesterday. My fault again!

I have however found a few things that seem to consistently really help! Like a weird little miracle I started drinking hot water with fresh squeezed lemon every morning and it seems to make a difference in the level of discomfort in my swollen joints and seems to help keep the swelling at a minimum. YEAH!!! Plus, it helps my energy level dramatically! I would suggest this for any person! It's a nice soothing way to start your day!

I have been monitoring all sorts of foods I eat to see what the effects are on my arthritis.  I have found that black, good quality coffee seems to help my arthritis.  I am not sure if the extra energy just gets me moving more which in turn helps or if the coffee's natural antioxidants help. But in the mornings when I start with a nice cup of lemon water and follow with a rich cup of fresh brewed coffee, I feel like a champ.

I have also been drinking more milk.  Psoriasis is linked to a vitamin D deficiencies and I used to take vitamin d drops which helped a lot. Of course, I am out. So, I have been trying to drink a glass of milk everyday and it has kinda helped.  The yummy cookies that go with it make an impact too!!! This goes hand in hand with calcium deficiencies because woman start processing it less effectively as they get older, which is the big deal about osteoporosis in women. So my next test will be a combo of vitamin d drops and calcium supplements. I will keep you updated on how that helps my arthritis.

Lastly, I found that beef, pork, lamb, and some chicken completely lead to irritated joints. After any dinner with red meat I get swollen ankles, toes, and fingers for two to three days.  It's brutal the morning after! I know! I am sad too!  I am not going to stop eating meat. I just might have to really balance out my meat intake during the week and save it for special occasions, like In-n-Out Burger in San Fran or Lamb chops at Vios in Seattle.  I have been trying to eat more fresh fish, pastas, rice dishes, and salads. 

With all that said, I am only beginning to understand my body's needs regarding my arthritis. If you have any tips I'd gladly accept them. My goal is to not get back onto crazy medications so any natural methods are my first choice. We will see what happens.  Until then, I am going to keep drinking my lemon water, yummy coffee, milk AND cookies, and eating my veggies and fish.  Hip, Hip, HURRAY!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Beauty Buzz: Bottom of the Bottle Breakout!

Every year or so, the planets align in the right way and all of my beauty products seem to go empty around the same time.  This phenomena I call the "Bottom of the Bottle Breakout" which to me means all that extra oxygen mixing with the 1/2 inch of makeup, cleansers, or lotions starts to turn the product a little funky and full of potential free-radicals, bacteria, or just plain old inert stuff working against, instead of with my skin.  This BOTBB always starts me on a quest to seek out something better or more advanced on the market. Inevitably, I start over exfoliating my skin, using too many strong ingredients, causing a complete barrier chaos of teenage acne prone skin!!! It's not pretty! Then, of course I start decreasing all my new finds and heading back to basic, basic stuff to bring my skin back into balance! Nod your head if this ever happens to you so I don't feel so alone!!! Thanks! 

So, with this year's solar eclipse, I have found one product that has really helped me get through the chaos.  It has been on my shelves for years and has found it's way back into my life with open arms; that is Aveda Acne Balancing Infusion in the little teeny brown glass jar.  Whenever I break out I usually use Retin-a Micro which I got from my dermo. It usually helps in a pinch and when applied lightly can do the trick without too much over drying.  Unfortunately, with the BOTBB causing so many blemishes this stuff turned my skin into a red, flaky, irritated mess.  Again, not pretty; especially for someone in their thirties!!! SO, I used basic cleanser, toner, lotion, and spot treated with this balancing infusion at night. This instantly took away the sore, tight feeling in my breakout, helped decrease redness, kept any neighbors from popping up, and helped heal the blemishes from the inside out so there were no super gross exploding white head days I always dread with any bump on my face!!! The healing process took a little longer but with such less damage-no post acne hyper-pigmentation, scarring, flaking, or expanded pores! Plus, as an extra bonus, the aromas especially the lavender in this product, be it strong, helped soothe me into a deeper, relaxed sleep.  Aveda Balancing Infusion you have made it to the front of my medicine cabinet! Congratulations and Thank you!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

GOTTA EAT THIS!!! Awesome Avocado Salad!!!

I LOVE Ina Garten, otherwise known as the Barefoot Contessa! I love watching her calmly and lovingly prepare meals for friends and loved ones on the Food Network.  I love flipping through her cookbooks which are loaded with beautiful photos of her simple yet elegant food! Most of all I love trying out her recipes because every time I just can't get enough of her flavor combinations and everyone else raves about the dishes!  Her food is intuitive, fuss free, casual and familiar, yet grown up and sophisticated enough to impress any foodie. 

I recently went to a BBQ and brought along an AWESOME Avocado Salad of Ina's that I just have to share with you because everyone at the party requested a copy of the recipe on my way out!  It is a simple, chop only, salad using fresh in-season ingredients.  It paired nicely next to dogs, as I am sure it would taste yummy with any protein: grilled chicken, salmon, flank steak! I added some ingredients that I just can't live without in the summer like cilantro and corn. Otherwise her recipe is spot on! Try it out and let me know what you think!!! 

Prep Time:10 min Serves: 6 servings


  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup small diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers, seeded (2 peppers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced
  • I added: 1 bunch of fresh cilantro chopped
  • I added: 1 can (15 ounce) organic sweet corn, rinsed and drained
  • I added:  1 red and yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced as well


Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. Toss well.

Just before you're ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad. Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature. (Keeps well in fridge for a few days). Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Role Playing

Finally, we are organized enough to get out of the house!  Diaper bag packed with tantrum controlling snacks. Boys dressed in stain free clothes. I don't smell. Eric looks relaxed.  We are off to have an adventure, which will defiantly include a really good cup of coffee.  But on my way out the door, I am stopped, literally, by my three year old son.  

Mid stroll, looking over his shoulder....
"Okay Momma, see you later!"

"What? I am coming with you!"

"Nope.  You stay here. Do the dishes and clean the house. The boys go bye-bye and have fun."


"How old are you?"

"Silly Momma. Me three."

"Where is this coming from? You want me to stay here and clean while you go play with "the boys"?"


"And what do I get for doing all this cleaning?"

"Umm. Me give you money."

"Really, you'll pay me money? How much?"

"Umm. Two Dollars!"

We usually refer to money in quarters. So dollars, not to mention two of them is big time!

"You are gonna pay me two dollars to stay here and clean while you go out and play?"

"Yup. A Deal?"

"Umm. Nope!"

That was the first time! Since this CRAZY interaction, that makes the feminist in me want to throw a punch, Jake has brought up this same conversation three times.  I don't know where, how, or why he is processing this distinct "Role" allocation.  I am totally thrown aback by it!! Eric and I play fairly tradition roles in our marriage RIGHT NOW, but I take pride in knowing that I am valued as an equal in our relationship and am by no means a slave to the methods of the old world!  I am a self directed, free choosing, "traditional feminist", okay with cutting wood to make my own fire  and enjoy wearing heels to regain my inherent feminine power. I don't push gender roles on my kids nor do Eric and I ever discuss these roles in front of  our kids.  This is something my son has concluded all on his own in his extremely intuitive being.  I am amused and awestruck.  This kid is something else! To boot, lately he has been picking every flower, and I mean every teeny flower, he finds and gives it to me because Momma's like flowers! For the first time since becoming a parent I really have no clue what to do with this one! Until I figure it out, I guess I will enjoy the flowers and my new allowance for services rendered!