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! 

Pumpkin Paradise

  
These days, way before you smell the crisp fall air, see leaves turning, or start wearing long sleeves, you are smacked in the face with the arrival of the pumpkin. This popular gourd signals autumn before anything else whether it be in lattes, baked goods, or home decor. But who’s complaining?! 

The thing that immediately comes to my mind though, is always, pumpkin pie. (And pumpkin soup, but that’s another post for another day.) 

Baking and family history are two of my most favorite things so I’m elated today to combine the two with this delicious pumpkin pie recipe, made in my husband’s late great aunt Louise’s pumpkin pie dish. It’s so seasonal and so simple you’ll love it. The men in my life wouldn’t even let it cool before they dove in; the (homemade, anything else is just a sin) whipped cream was melting all over the top. I prefer it a little more room temp but either way, it’s pretty delicious. Here’s the recipe.

Beauty & The Butcher’s Pumpkin Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can organic pumpkin (make sure you get plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie mix that has all kinds of seasonings already in it)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (I like to use Pilsbury pie dough and form in it in the pan myself but you could use a pre-baked pie shell, ooh graham cracker might even be good!)
  • Whipped cream (I’d say OPTIONAL but it’s really not, what’s pumpkin pie without FRESH whipped cream?! If you’ve never made your own it’s very simple, just mix about 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream with 1/3 cup powdered sugar and with a whisk attachment beat the daylights out of it until it’s firm and full of little peaks. But don’t over mix, that’s how you get butter!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, sugar, and spices. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  • Pour into pie shell.
  • Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F; then bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours (or two minutes in my house) Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before devouring…er, serving. 

I’m going to be honest, yours might not taste quite as good as mine unless you also have an heirloom pumpkin pie dish and a crate & barrel plate that says “easy as pie” to serve it on. But you can certainly try! 

dead ant, dead ant, dead ant dead deat ant…

That’s what the Pink Panther said when he stepped on an ant. Ha! Get it?! If not, read it again, really fast. And if you still don’t get it, or you don’t know who the Pink Panther is, take your right hand, slowly raise it about 3 inches from your cheek and then smack your cheek as hard as possible. Thaaaast’s it, you got it. 

Around these parts, dead ants are actually a good thing. Those ambitious little pests can really be a nuisance in your home, especially in the summertime. But fear not! I have a quick and easy solution that will make them virtually disappear! 

First you’ll need Borax. Never heard of it?
Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a mineral and a salt of boric acid. Powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water. Borax has a wide variety of uses. It is a component of many detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. It is also used as a fire retardant and as an anti-fungal compound.

The term borax is used for a number of closely related minerals or chemical compounds that differ in their crystal water content. Commercially sold borax is partially dehydrated and used in various household laundry and cleaning products, including the “20 Mule Team Borax” laundry booster and “Boraxo” powdered hand soap. It’s even used in some tooth bleaching formulas! 

There are all sorts of household uses for the powdery white compound, but today we’re focusing on those pesky little ants. 

Simply take 4 Tb of borax, 4 Tb of sugar and mix them together with 1 cup warm water until they dissolve. Then take cotton balls, soak them in the solution, and place them in the spots where you’ve seen the ants, most importantly the spot you think they are coming from. 

WARNING: You will see a LOT of ants! This is good! The sugar is drawing them out. (Also another warning, don’t leave this stuff lying around because it’s clear liquid and somebody could accidentally ingest it. I mean I don’t know who just randomly picks up a container of “water” that’s sitting out on the counter and drink it but apparently it happens….reminds me of a story my friend told me once where he slept over his friends house and didn’t have his contact case so he put his contacts in a glass of water. The next morning the glass was empty…turns out his friend’s grandmother had gotten thirsty in the middle the night and drank his contacts! so apparently people do just pick up a random glass of water and drink it…anyway back to the ants…)

I was spurred to do this post due to some little ants I found in our bathroom (of all places). So when I saw all the ants coming out from behind the tiny little opening on the floor behind the cabinet, I panicked a little bit but then realized they were all just clamoring to get to the sweetly poisonous cotton ball. Getting easily distracted as I tend to do, I watched them for a while then left and didn’t return to the crime scene until the next morning. To my surprise, all the ants were gone! I guess I assumed they would eat the solution and die right there on the spot. But apparently they take it with them back to their home first?  

 This made me feel a little bad, I’m not gonna lie. I could just picture a daddy ant proudly bringing back some “candy” for his kids and them all huddling around it excitedly only to drop dead a few hours later…But not bad enough to want them in my bathroom! And at least this was a natural diy solution and some chemical laden awful storebought solution. So that makes me feel a little better…I guess. 

vegan fiesta!!!

  
So yesterday I shared with you the story of the Sanibel Sprout and the delicious meal I had prepared by the chef & owner, Nikki. She told me that she is a firm believer in seasoning. I agreed with her wholeheartedly, I’ve always said I feel that anything can taste good as long as it is prepared and seasoned well. 

(Some people prefer a little too much seasoning, and salt my food right in front of me…eye roll…no comment…)

Nikki’s taco salad with walnut “taco meat” was so very flavorful that when you took a bite you tasted cumin, chili powder, and sea salt, not walnuts. It actually tasted like ground taco meat. But lighter and more heart healthy. But the cashew “queso” topping? That really blew my mind, I had no clue how it even existed and I decided I had to try making it for myself. I did a little research and experimenting and came up with my own concoctions for both. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures as I went along, sorry, but trust me it’s really easy. But there are pictures of the finished product! 

First, the taco meat.

Ingredients

  • 2 C whole walnuts (if you only have chopped on hand that’s OK just don’t pulse them as much in the food processor so that they don’t get too fine…like Brad Pitt)
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder (all spices are to taste; you may want a little more or a little less…as I tasted I felt it couldn’t get enough cumin so I kept adding until the flavor was just right)
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tb olive oil (I omitted this when making it for friends who are not eating any kind of oils, I just put a little water in instead, but I do think the oil is helpful in binding the mixture together and enhancing the flavor.)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until it’s the consistency of ground meat.

Taste test, and add more spices if you’d like.

This is totally optional but I think totally a must to a) feel like you’re eating taco mea and b) completely fool your butcher husband…Heat mixture in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Your house will smell like you’re having a fiesta!  

  
 
I love a colorful salad so I out all sorts of toppings out; black olives, red & yellow bell peppers, fresh diced tomatoes, shoestring carrots, seasoned kidney beans, sunflower seeds, organic blue corn tortilla chips, and, my personal favorite, big hunks of avocado!But the real star of the dish and the perfect finishing touch? The cashew queso! Which, by the way, also doubles as a dressing for the salad which was especially nice for our non oil eating amigos. I’m really getting into this fiesta thing now! 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours, drained, and rinsed.
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast…(I had to go to the health food store to find this…it smells awful and I don’t know why it was necessary but it just was. Note to self: do more research on nutritional yeast and follow up with blog post about said ingredient) 
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender until smooth and queso like. Make sure to scrape down the sides and that it’s really blended all the way through, you don’t want any little cashew chunks.  This makes about 2 cups and the queso sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 You could just spoon the sauce over your salad but where’s  the fun in that?! Or….you could put sauce into a ziplock bag, snip the tip, and artfully pipe over your salad for a beautiful finish to the meal. There was plenty of queso left over too, so we took some of those beautiful organic blue corn tortilla chips and dipped them right in there. Take that nacho cheese!  

The butcher and I aren’t quite ready to go completely meatless or dairy free yet, but we are definitely cutting back and making better choices. This dish is so delicious it doesn’t even feel like a sacrifice! Taco salad for all!

   

Salt, salt, salt! 

  Last week I did a post about natural Castile soap and it’s many uses. Although I am by no means a certified health expert or what I consider to be “granola” (I won’t be wearing Birkenstocks or using a crystal under my arms any time soon), I do appreciate using products that are good for my body and as natural as possible. I got a lot of positive feedback from the soap post so I decided to do a similar post today, but this time, about Epsom salt. 

Epsom salt is a major staple in my house. I keep a giant glass jar of it next to my bathtub and generously sprinkle it in the water every time I take a bath. I initially started doing it because I had heard that it helped soften the skin. Which it absolutely did. But I also noticed that it made my soaks so much more relaxing. Upon further examination, I discovered why. Magnesium! 

Let’s take a little detour to talk about magnesium and some of the things I’ve learned about it. Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth, and the third most abundant in sea water. More importantly, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and it is necessary in over 300 reactions within the body. Translation? It’s pretty important and you are most likely deficient in magnesium. I certainly realized I was after discovering I have almost all of the following signs of a magnesium deficiency…

  • Inability to sleep or insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Mental disturbances
  • Anxiety, depression or restlessness
  • Muscle soreness or spasms
  • Infertility or PMS
  • High levels of stress
  • Headaches
  • Heart “flutters” or palpitations
  • Fatigue or unusual tiredness
  • Coldness or tingling in extremities
  • Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Lack of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Body odor
  • Bad short term memory
  • Poor coordination
  • Insulin resistance
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Constipation
  • Frequent cavities or poor dental health (usually caused by frequent use of antibiotics which deplete magnesium from your body)
  • Gut disorders
  • Kidney stones
  • Thyroid problems

What are some factors that cause this depletion of magnesium?

  • Consumption of caffeine
  • Consumption of sugar (It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single glucose molecule! source)
  • Consumption of processed food
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Consumption of produce from depleted soil
  • Drugs like birth control pills, hypertension medicine, diuretics, insulin, and certain antibiotics (among others) deplete magnesium levels. 
  • Sweating often from exercise or other causes can also deplete magnesium.

So now you know what it is, that you’re probably deficient in it, and how you got that way. But what does magnesium actually do, and why is it so good for you?

  • Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
  • Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
  • Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Helps prevent congestive heart failure
  • Eases muscle cramps and spasms.
  • Decreases insulin resistance
  • End cluster and migraine headaches
  • Enhances circulation
  • Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Treats asthma and emphysema
  • Encourages proper elimination (it helps you go poo)
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Proper Vitamin D absorption
  • Aids weight loss
  • Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
  • Emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers

Man that sure is one helpful element off the periodic table! But how do we get more of it? Well unfortunately, magnesium is often not well absorbed by the digestive tract, and is even more difficult to absorb if you are deficient or are low in vitamin D, have poor gut bacteria or suffer from a number of other conditions. On top of that, most foods are depleted of their natural magnesium levels and the water supply is lacking also. But there are some things you can do…

  • Eat lots of leafy greens especially sea vegetables like kelp and nettles. 
  • Use a topical magnesium spray as it can more quickly enter the blood and tissues of the body since you don’t have to digest it.
  • Use Epsom salt, which is rich in magnesium! 

Whew, it was quite a detour but we made it back on course to our topic at hand, Epsom salt! Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, it has numerous health benefits as well as many beauty, household and gardening-related uses. Studies have shown that magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin, making Epsom salt baths an easy and ideal way to enjoy the amazing health benefits. 

The wonders of Epsom salt have been well known for hundreds of years and unlike other salts, Epsom salt has beneficial properties that can soothe the body, mind and soul. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body. One of the simplest ways to ease stress and stress-related problems is to soak in a tub full of hot water with a few cups of Ultra Epsom Salt. 

Here are some great home uses I’ve tried (and a few I haven’t but I’m sure they’re effective)  for this magnificent “salt”…

  • Relax in the tub! Add at least 1 cup of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. This can help relieve sore muscles, soften skin, absorb magnesium unti skin, and encourage a good nights sleep. Try putting it in your child’s bath at night to relax them before bed. 
  • Splinter Removal- Soak in concentrated epsom salt water to pull out a splinter.
  • Better Vegetables- Add a tablespoon of epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth. (this is obviously one that I have NOT tried…sorry dad)
  • Heal minor cuts & infections- ever get an infected earlobe from a cheap earring? Soak a cotton ball in warm water and Epsom salt, hold it onto ear for several minutes, and voila! 
  • Facial Wash- Add a pinch of epsom salt to your usual face cleaner (or to your oil cleansing routine) for a skin exfoliating magnesium boost.
  • Tile/Grout Cleaner- Mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and epsom salts and use to scrub tile and grout. Rinse well for a streak free shine.
  • Homemade Sea Salt Spray- Make your own sea salt spray to add texture and volume to have “beach hair” whenever you want! 
  • Volumizing Hair Mask- Combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair. (Yeah my hair is thick enough but I’m sure this really works to add volume of you need that kind of thing!) 
  • Foot Soak- For a concentrated magnesium boost, add 1 cup of epsom salt to a hot foot soak and soak for 20 minutes. This works wonders on yucky calloused heels like mine! 
  • Laxative- For occasional constipation, a teaspoon of epsom salt dissolved in water can help. 
  • Headache relief- There is evidence that soaking in a soothing epsom salt bath may help relieve headache.
  • Smooth skin- Mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
  • Itchy Skin or Bug Bites- Dissolve a tablespoon of epsom salt in to 1/2 cup of water and cool. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
  • Minor Sunburn Relief- Use the same ratio in the itchy skin relief above and spritz on to minor sunburns to help soothe them.

So there you have it! If you don’t have any Epsom salt at home, go get some right away, it’s super inexpensive! 

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! 

Pie Paraphernalia

IMG_4442.JPG
Baking and family history are two of my most favorite things so I’m elated today to combine the two with this delicious pumpkin pie recipe, made in my husband’s late great aunt Louise’s pumpkin pie dish. It’s so seasonal and so simple you’ll love it. The men in my life wouldn’t even let it cool before they dove in; the (homemade, anything else is just a sin) whipped cream was melting all over the top. I prefer it a little more room temp but either way, it’s pretty delicious. Here’s the recipe.
Beauty & The Butcher Pumpkin Pie

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs
1 can organic pumpkin (make sure you get plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie mix that has all kinds of seasonings already in it)
1 can evaporated milk
1 unbaked pie crust
Whipped cream (I’d say OPTIONAL but it’s really not, what’s pumpkin pie without FRESH whipped cream?!)

Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, sugar, and spices. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; then bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours (or two minutes in my house) Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before devouring…er, serving.