Delicious Legs 

Unfortunately ladies, until winter is in full swing, we have to shave our legs regularly. But there is a way to make it easier, more effective, and last longer!

Shaving is much better with exfoliated skin. When you shave without exfoliating, you’re simply shaving off a layer of dead skin rather than getting actual hair (this also causes ingrowns.) But if you exfoliate first and then shave, you get straight to the matter at hand, the hair, and the result is a super silky smooth “like a baby’s behind” leg. 

This easy DIY scrub takes to it a completely new level and is made with ingredients you have around the house. And it’s not just for women, men can absolutely benefit from soft exfoliated skin. 
 
Simply take 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup coconut oil, and the juice of one lemon and mix them together in a bowl. Scrub onto to your legs, shave, and rinse. For extra smoothness, apply scrub once more after shaving and your legs will be so slippery smooth you won’t even be able to cross them! Happy exfoliating! 

Roast Chicken 

 
Some (especially Ina Garten’s husband Jeffrey) would argue that there is nothing more comforting than a roast chicken with vegetables. After smelling my house while this was in the oven, I’d have to agree with them. Sure, you can buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store but it’s just not the same, and not nearly as delicious.

So I implore you to try this simple recipe and you won’t be sorry. Feel free to make it your own, increase the quantity of ingredients to feed a larger crowd or add different veggies, slices, herbs, etc. Let’s get started!  

INGREDIENTS 

  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes (about 15)
  • 1 pound medium carrots (about 6)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 3 ½- to 4-pound chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Place the butter on a plate and set it aside to soften. 
  • Heat oven to 425° F (I used the convection setting and it worked beautifully) and begin preparing the vegetables. Scrub the potatoes. Peel the carrots, halve them lengthwise, and cut them crosswise into 2-inch pieces.
  • Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan or baking dish and toss with the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  • Remove the neck and the bag of giblets from inside the cavity of the chicken and discard them. (Thankfully, my chicken didn’t come with any of these but just in case…)
  • Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
  •  Prick the lemon several times with a sharp knife and place it in the chicken along with the thyme.
  •  Rub the outside of the chicken with the softened butter and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  • Tie the legs together with kitchen twine or a handy reusable silicone kitchen tie like I have, found here. Place on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. It should look like this!Like my roasting pan? It’s Rachel Ray stoneware, get your own here!
  • Put the chicken in the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender, the chicken is golden brown, and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork, 65 to 75 minutes. (If you use an instant-read thermometer, it should register 165° F when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh.) 
  • Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.  
  • Serve & enjoy!  

Suds are for duds…

Growing up there was nothing better than a head full of suds paired with a bubble bath beard and a good ‘ol rubber ducky. But those “suds” were actually completely unnecessary and drying out your skin. It’s due to a chemical called Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), a detergent found in many personal care products like soaps, shampoos, toothpaste etc. SLES is an inexpensive and very effective foaming agent that, unfortunately, causes skin and eye irritation for many humans and animals. I was one of those humans and could not believe how many products list SLEA as its second or third ingredient. (I dare you, look through your grocery store’s soap aisle or even your own bathroom and count how many times you see it.) My skin and scalp were begging for a healthier more moisturizing cleanser so I went searching for one. 

The solution? Castile soap! Castile soap is unique and different from other soaps in many ways. This is a completely earth friendly, biodegradable soap which contains no harmful chemicals like other average soaps. Castile does not require any animal products like tallow which is widely used by regular branded soaps. Rather, Castile soaps are made from 100% pure plant oils. This is a revolutionary soap in the industry and can be considered as a true soap which contains no chemical detergent.

In earlier centuries, an all-vegetable based soap was made in the Castile region of Spain from local olive oil. By the turn of this century, “Castile” had come to mean any vegetable oil-based soap, which is distinct from animal (tallow) fat-based soaps which can be extremely drying.

Although Castile soap does produce a foaming lather, this comes from it’s high coconut oil content, which makes a more luxurious and richer lather than any detergent could ever create. “Pure-Castile” is your guarantee that what you are using is an ecological and simple genuine soap, not a complex blend of detergents with a higher ecological impact due to the waste stream created during manufacture and detergents’ slower biodegradability. Unfortunately, many synthetic detergent blends are deceptively labeled as “Liquid Soap” even though they contain absolutely no soap whatsoever.

This soap is available in bars, flakes and liquid form. Liquid is my favorite, as it is much easier to mix and measure. Castile soap is famous for its affordability, simplicity, and it’s variety of uses. I used to buy mine on Amazon but now you can find it at Target and I’m sure other stores as well. 
It’s also an all purpose household cleaner. The cool thing about it is that you can experiment using different essential oil herbal infusions to the soaps to diversity and customize your Castile experience. You might feel like a scientist testing out with various products and with different results each time. It’s fun! (Well, at least my idea of fun, I have to do something to make cleaning more fun…) Maybe you prefer lemon blossom to your floor, and orange on your dishes. Some prefer lavender in their laundry and lemon in their bathrooms, the choices and possibilities are endless and you can try something different every time to add more “fun” (again, playing fast and loose with that word here) to your life.

Here are ten ideas on how you can use the Castile soap…

   
1. Shampoo- Mix it with some almond or avocado oil. Add a little peppermint essential oil for a tingly clean! 

2. Laundry Detergent- You can make yourself a chemical free, safe laundry detergent with simple, common ingredients. Mix your soap with hard water to the ratio 1:3 and there you go. This way you can save loads of money and helping the environment in the process. Use lavender or citrus scented soap to give your clothes a pleasant (but not overwhelming or chemically…I know I know, it’s not a word) smell.

3. Dish Soap- Take half a cup of castile soap and mix it with half cup of water and vinegar. Put the whole mixture in a plastic squeeze bottle, shake up well and you have a high quality dish detergent. You can even use it as a hand wash.

4. Dog Shampoo- What’s good for you is also good for your pets, use the same ratio that you use to prepare your body wash to create an awesome dog shampoo. I put lavender in mine because it has a calming effect and anything to help calm Raven down from the torture that is bathtime, I’ll take it! 

5. Car Cleaner- Take one fourth of a cup of Castile soap and mix it with hot water, it will work wonders to remove stains from cars and keep it clean.

6. Use it as a Floor Cleaner- Use castile soap to mop your floors, all you have to do is add one eighth of a cup of castile soap and safe ratio of vinegar and mix it with one gallon of warm water. A few drops of lemon essential oil and your whole house smells divine.

7. Household Cleaning Spray- It is a great way of cleaning your regular household items; mix with water to dilute. 

8. Carpet Cleaner- Castile soap could act as a great carpet cleaner, mix one fourth of a cup of castile into one cup of water. Blend the solution and stir until it forms a stiff foam. And you get a nice solution of eco friendly carpet cleaner that really works! 

9. Body Wash- Use castile soap as a body wash with your choice of essential oil. You can directly buy the Castile bar soap which is available at all retail outlets or you can mix the liquid soap with water in the ratio 2:1. I prefer the liquid. It’s great for shaving too! 

10. Scrubbing Solution- Make toilet soft scrub with the help of baking soda and castile soap. Fill a spray bottle with soap and water in the ratio 1:3. Spray the area you want to clean with the solution, and then add baking soda to it. Rub it with a sponge and watch the stains disappear, it also works on ovens, stovetops etc.
* it should be noted that I’ve also read castile can be used as an insecticide for indoor and outdoor plants buuuuuut….since I don’t have a green thumb and haven’t tried this myself I decided not to list it as number eleven. 

Who knew you’d learn so much about soap today and I never thought I’d say the word “castile” so many times in one post! 

Super Smooth Summer Legs

I have gotten so many comments and testimonies from my “Mascara Saver” post that I decided to do another beauty secret. In the summertime, whether we like it or not, we have to have freshly shaved legs at all times between shorts, capris, and the inevitable swimsuit. One thing that helps me bare my legs with confidence is making sure they’re tan using my favorite trusty self tanner (which I shall feature on the blog very soon). But self tanner can be tricky if your legs aren’t exfoliated properly, it will cling to every spot of dry skin or unshaven bit. In fact, shaving itself is better with exfoliated skin. When you shave without exfoliating, you’re simply shaving off a layer of dead skin rather than getting actual hair (this also causes ingrowns.) But if you exfoliate first and then shave, you get straight to the matter at hand, the hair, and the result is a super silky smooth “like a baby’s behind” leg. But this easy DIY scrub takes to it a completely new level and is made with ingredients you have around the house.

20140728-122807-44887641.jpg
Simply take 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup coconut oil, and the juice of one lemon and mix them together in a bowl. Scrub onto to your legs, shave, and rinse. Repeat once more and your legs will be so slippery smooth you won’t even be able to cross them!

That’s My Jam

In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a good ‘ol BLT. The savory saltiness from the bacon, the light crunch from the lettuce, the juicy freshness of a ripe tomato, tiny tang of mayo, all sandwiched between two slices of a carbohydrate lover’s dream, lightly toasted of course. But I felt the BLT could be improved just a teensy bit more. I know, I know, I sound crazy. But hear me out. What’s the secret to the deliciousness of kettle corn, chocolate covered pretzels, and sea salt caramels? It’s the combination of sweet and savory! So although the BLT is deliciously savory, it’s a bit lacking in the sweet department. But after being inspired by a jar of tomato jam at our local farmers market, I decided it would be the perfect extra touch to the sandwich and set off to making my own batch. Before we get too much further into the details, let’s discuss this whole jam thing. What’s a jam and what’s a jelly? I mean botanically speaking, a jelly is based with fruit juices– no seeds or pulp. A jam would be the opposite, having seeds and/or pulp. (join me in going “yuck” to pulp, in OJ at least…) Since we all know (right?) that a tomato is technically a fruit and not a vegetable (should we petition for an aisle change at the grocery store?!), and we know that they certainly have seeds, of which we will be leaving in our concoction, we will call this a jam…of sorts, even though Aunt Della (the lady who’s recipe I used, which you can find here) calls it “tomato preserves”. I made a small batch (using the yummy tomatoes and lemons from the local farmers market) but you can adjust the serving size on the website and make a whole gallon if you want to! After that it’s time to prepare your sandwich, including a small dollop of daisy…er I mean jam, and enjoy!

20140501-115603.jpg

Greek Quinoa Salad

Try my Greek quinoa recipe for a healthy and protein packed yet delicious side dish or add some chicken for a complete meal! If you’ve never tried quinoa it is a super food and one of the best things you could eat. Read a little more about it here. The recipe is so simple…

This easily serves 4-6.

1 pkg quinoa (most are apx 8-12 oz)
1 Small carton of cherry/grape tomatoes cut in half
2 cucumbers quartered
Juice of 1 lemon
A few tbs good olive oil
Handful of fresh mint leaves chopped
1 pkg feta cheese
Salt & Pepper

Prepare quinoa according to package directions with either water (or chicken broth for boosted flavor. When cooked. allow quinoa to cool slightly. Combine all ingredients and add lemon juice, olive oil, & salt & pepper to taste. This can be served warm, room temp or even cold the next day, either way it’s delicious!

20130821-220326.jpg