Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Oil Cleansing: The Good, The Bad, and My Skin

Most of my life, I have suffered from acne. I have had oily, large pored, discolored skin with tons of scars. Without makeup on, you can see the war zone that my face has been.

I wish I could go back in time, take my younger self by the hand, and show her the way. I'd tell her to ditch the harsh cleansers. I'd tell her to wash her face EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and to NEVER apply new makeup over day-old makeup (facepalm). I'd tell her to stop using benzyl peroxide, to always moisturize, and to clean up her eating. I'd tell her to stop touching her face with her filthy, bacteria laden hands.

I'm not crazy enough to believe this time travel would change my skin completely (genetically, I am predisposed to bad skin) but I'd love to have started better habits before scarring my face as badly as I have. I know a million posts have been done about the Oil Cleansing Method by now, but I just wanted to post a realistic review of it from a convert.

(after 8 months of OCM and zero makeup on...ignore the dirt smudge on my nose please)

I love OCM. I LOVE OCM. I have been doing it for approximately 8 months now. Is my skin magically clear? Have my scars faded drastically? Have I forgone makeup because of my glowing facade? No. None of the above. Some people have that relation with OCM and that's great and I'm kinda jealous, but it's just not me.

But, what I can say about why I love OCM is that...

I feel like I finally understand my skin. I have learned what it wants and needs and rejects. I am more in tune with my body after oil cleansing.

I enjoy washing my face. I have never washed my face regularly. For me, I'd put it off until my mascara was too cakey to apply a fresh coat or I needed a shower. I hated it and I hated looking at and touching my drab, mountainous skin. But now, I actually look forward to washing my face every night. It's a moment I take for myself almost every evening to breath and be in touch with my body.

My skin feels fabulous. Seriously, my skin feels awesome. I have to resist the urge to touch my face all day long.

My oilyness is under control. I will always have skin prone to oil, but I have realized that my skin needed more moisture so it was over producing. Now, I rub good oils in daily and don't feel my makeup sliding off my face mere hours after putting it on.

I need to exfoliate less. I have unnaturally fast cell turnover on my face, that mixed with my oily face, meant a good scrub down every time I washed my face. While I still exfoliate more than the average person (3-5 times a week), I don't get flaky anymore.

And yes, I do have less breakouts. My skin has cleared up by about 40% though I do feel as though I get more blackheads (something I hadn't struggled with too badly before OCM). But my skin tone seems more even and my breakouts are fewer.

So there you have it, my take on OCM. The reasons why I love it, even though it doesn't make me have skin like I had when I was nine. And, as a treat, the recipe I use to daily cleanse my face.

If your skin is oily and acne prone, I would highly recommend trying this recipe! I use basically the popular 1:3 ratio recipe. Once I switched to using organic oils only, and even more so once I switched to this recipe, I felt like I was finally loving OCM. I do this every night since I wear makeup, but others might not need to. 

I start with 2 parts Castor Oil because it's a good "cleaning" oil

Then I add 1 part Tamanu Oil (Tamanu oil is a thick oil that smells strongly of walnuts and is basically God's gift to earth. Read about it at mountain rose herbs or click my Women's Cure- all Soap listing to the left to learn more) In the picture below do you see that dark shadow sitting on the castor oil? That my friends, is tamanu oil.

10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil to fight bacteria and acne

10 drops Lavender Essential Oil to fight inflammation and redness

Give it a good mix (the Tamanu Oil doesn't mingle well and will take a few shakes) and learn to love your skin!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dried Herbs from My Own Little Garden

In preparation for the cooler months, I decided to harvest a bit of the mint that I had been growing all summer. I cut off some of the longer vine-y pieces that were starting to climb out of the pot, tied them together with some string, and attached them to a cooling rack for about four days.

After they had been drying for a few days, I cut them off the cooling rack, and cut the string off that held the herbs together. 

I then proceeded to crumble the dried leaves off the stems, being careful to pick out any stems that fell in with the leaves. 

After I did this to all my dried mint, I ended up with about 3 Tablespoons of crushed, dried mint. I know it's a small harvest, but I've only had the plant for three months so I think she did pretty well!

I put it in a small jar to store it and plan on mixing some organic black tea leaves with it so I can have a homemade mint tea.

P.S. I also recently purchased some lavender and had a pretty advanced sprig compared to the rest, so I trimmed it off and dried it too. Still trying to decided what to do with this tiny herb...

This blog post featured on Frugally Sustainable!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Gardening

Today is one of my days off of work and the weather is simply glorious...

I am sad to see that summer is leaving me, but I do love the way the air isn't suffocating every living thing. The sky is breathing again and everything feels the release. 

I ran to the store this morning and picked up some broccoli, lettuce, and sweet peas to help my container garden grow. Though I'm considering putting these additions in the ground, if I can find our stupid shovel!

It's one of those beautiful days where you just want to enjoy the simple things in life. Like iced tea, open windows, and a clean kitchen (still working on that last one...)

I'd better run since I have to plant these beauties and load the dishwasher before I succumb to lounging in the backyard, sipping some more tea. 

This blog post featured on Frugally Sustainable

Monday, August 6, 2012

Christin + Lars: Wedding Cake

A very good friend of mine got married this weekend. We met less than a year ago at work, but a crappy job has bonded us like sisters. When she asked me to make her wedding cake, I was thrilled! She wanted it to be simple and rustic and, of course, delicious.

She decided on a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, and a raspberry filling.

I used my very favorite vanilla cake recipe, courtesy of iambaker (the recipe below is almost word for word hers, I don't claim it as my own!)

Basic Vanilla Cake

2 large eggs separated

1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour

2 tsps baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup room temperature butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Take out all needed ingredients and let them come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8in (I used 9in) pans.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites into a large bowl and the yolks into a smaller one.

Put sifted flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of sugar (reserving the rest) and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Now add egg yolks, one at a time, until completely incorporated. Add vanilla extract until combined, about 30 seconds.

Starting with the flour, add 1/3 of the mixture and mix until incorporated. Now add 1/2 milk mixture, mix until combined. Add half the remaining flour, combine. Now add the rest of your milk and combine. Add remaining 1/3 of your flour mixture, and go ahead and mix until combined. This whole process should take less then 2 minutes, as you do not want to over beat the batter. I have done this before and trust me, it makes a yucky cake, so work fast!

In a separate clean bowl with clean whisk attachment, whip eggs whites until foamy then add the cream of tartar. (I did this on medium speed) Beat until soft peaks occur, and then gradually add in your remaining sugar. You will want stiff peaks, which took me about 3 minutes. Now, take your rubber spatula and fold your eggs whites into your cake batter. Make sure they are fully incorporated, but do not over stir the batter, as you do not want to eggs to deflate.

Put batter into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cakes are done when an inserted tooth pick comes out clean or with very few crumbs. At this point iambaker suggests placing the cakes directly into the freezer and leaving them there for at least an hour. This locks in moisture and also makes it easier to frost. I have had great success with this.

After this I whipped up some raspberry filling. I read several recipes and threw some things together so I can't really credit anyone with this recipe.

Raspberry Filling

3 C fresh, washed raspberries

1/2 C sugar

3 T cornstarch

juice from one lemon


Put all ingredients into a medium pan and bring to a boil. Stir and lower heat. Let simmer for about 2 minutes, or until mixture begins to thicken. Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature before using.

Then I whipped up my all-time-favorite buttercream frosting, and did a crumb coat. After I let that sit for about 20 minutes, I did the final frosting layer, minus some detailing that couldn't be done until it was on the cake platter.

Congratulations Christin and Lars! I am so happy for you two and excited to see you guys fall even more in love with each other. <3 <3 <3

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How-To: Wedding Garter

Today I will be sharing a How-to on making your own garter!!

(My wedding photos courtesy of Michelle Lee Photography, officially the nicest, bestest photographer EVER.)

After a lot of searching and grimacing on my part, I finally realized that buying a garter for my upcoming wedding was out of the question. I refused to pay $50 for elastic and hideous lace. I just don't see why it is so difficult to produce something cheap and sexy. A garter is supposed to be sexy. You don't even have to work that hard.

Anyway, I made my own and I'm gonna show you how you can too!

Inspiration first struck when I came across these lovely garters from jenaeb (and  this one too!) on etsy. These are super pretty! But, I'm exceedingly poor and vaguely handy with a sewing machine so I figured buying a garter was beneath me.

Good Lord.

Then I came across these headband and flower making kits at A. C. Moore.

Blue elastic! That's not a funky bridal blue! And pretty, elastic lace! Perfection!

Honestly, these practically make themselves.


-Length of elastic long enough to fit around your thigh (you want it a little smaller so the elastic can stretch and hold it up, but not so small your leg looks like it's having its circulation cut off.)
-Length of lace, preferably stretchy, that is three times as long as your elastic piece
-Matching thread
-Any embellishments desired
-A sewing machine or a good pair of hands (latter not recommended)

First, measure your thigh where you want your garter to go. Cut and sew together. Fortunately mine fit perfectly and didn't need this step. Sorry, no pictures!

Second, pin your elastic lace to your headband. Like so...

Next, begin sewing and bunching your lace as you go. This will create a ruffled effect and allow room to stretch. 

After this step you should have something resembling this...

As you can tell, straight lines are not needed. You also don't need a ton of sewing experience. This was maaaaaybe my third project. It was pretty easy and turned out great!

Unfortunately I ran out of elastic (my ruffling was a tad overzealous). But with my handmade embellishment...

...You can't even tell. 

If you are making this for your wedding, make a second "Toss Garter." Slap these babies on and love the fact you made two for $10 (with leftover supplies for several more). 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Recipe Box: Sick-Day Soup

Ok, so I'm sick. Some sort of head cold and maybe a little bit of strep thrown in (we'll have to wait and see). Basically, just sick enough to feel miserable constantly but not sick enough to feel like it's acceptable to lay around all day being lazy.

I don't know about you, but when I'm sick, soup hits the mark better than anything. But I get tired of traditional chicken noodle, and soggy noodles (from forgetting about the soup while blowing my nose) are hard to keep down when I already feel gross. So the other night I whipped up a super easy, very delicious, healthy soup.

It was really fast and easy to make because I already had the homemade chicken stock in my fridge, the broccoli, green beans, peas, and celery in my freezer, cooked shredded chicken in one cup increments in my freezer, along with some cucumbers pre-sliced for quick snacking. So the only thing I really had to do was make the rice, dice the garlic, and combine everything. PREP YOUR FREEZER FOR DAYS LIKE THIS!

Sick-Day Soup
makes about 4 servings

1/2 C Rice
3/4 C Homemade Chicken Stock
2 C Homemade Chicken Stock
1 C Cooked, Shredded Chicken
1/4 C Frozen Broccoli
1/4 C Frozen Green Beans
8 Cucumber Slices, halved
2 Stalks of Celery, cut in 1/2" pieces
2 Cloves of Garlic, diced
3 T Frozen Corn
1 t Oregano
Salt and pepper to taste (I added a lot of pepper, maybe half a teaspoon or more)

Prepare rice according to package instructions, substituting chicken stock for the water called for.

While the rice is cooking, combine chicken, chicken stock, all veggies, oregano, salt, and pepper. Put this in the microwave for about 10 minutes. Half way through, stir and then restart microwave. 

When rice is finished, stir into soup. Heat more if necessary. 

Take to bed with you and eat it all day long so you don't have to move (it's even good once it cools down!). This would also be a delish summer dish. 

I'll post the chicken stock recipe when I get the chance because that's where most of the flavor and healthyness of the soup comes from. There are some serious sick-fighting factors to consider when deciding to make your own stock.