• The 1 Cent Baking Soda Facial

    I have an interest in baking soda that kind of borders on obsession.  I guarantee this isn’t the last time you’ll see it appear in my blog!  It has so many practical purposes for cleaning up around the house and for beauty.  It’s a fantastic all-natural and inexpensive solution to a host of problems.  Regarding beauty, I recently discovered that baking soda makes a great gentle exfoliant, especially for those with dry or sensitive skin that don’t want to use other harsh products.  Alisa at Spalon in Houston gives the the most amazing microdermabrasions but times I can’t get in to see her or need a little pick me up in between visits, I make a scrub with baking soda.  This is also a fantastic scrub to do when your bank account is feeling a little deflated as all of us are probably feeling with the holiday season having just passed us by.

    To make the scrub, all you do is simply make a paste by mixing baking soda (about 1 tablespoon) with a little bit of water.   A ratio of three parts baking soda to one part water seems to work pretty well.  The more watery the paste is, the less abrasive the scrub will be.  Then rub it on your face and neck in gentle circular motions.  Do this with a light hand until you’re more familiar with how your skin will respond.  This is a great way to give yourself similar results to a facial and nearly everyone has baking soda on hand.  The same scrub can also be used on the body.  Baking soda can also help remove built up styling products from your hair so I will often just bring the box in to the shower with me and add a little bit to the shampoo in my palm (1 teaspoon) on the days I do the scrub.  Have a glowing new year!

  • New Beginnings

    a haiku

    Cold December rain,
    Wet windows blur wistful gaze;
    Cat stretches and sighs

  • Dry Body Brushing

    Body Brushing<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Dry body brushing is an excellent way to exfoliate the skin and stimulate circulation.   It increases the elasticity of the skin and has been touted as a way to reduce cellulite, cleanse the lymphatic system, increase immunity, energize the body, and tone and tighten the skin.  <br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />It&#8217;s best to do your body brushing just prior to showering or bathing.  Brush in the direction of lymphatic drainage, towards the heart in long, sweeping, brisk strokes. Brush in counter-clockwise strokes on the abdomen.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />You can find a body brush at a health or natural store for $15 or less.  I found mine at Whole Foods.Dry body brushing is a wonderful way to revitalize your health.  Skin, of course, is our largest organ. One of its functions is to help us get rid of impurities.  Dry body brushing can eliminate some of the dead skin cells that might be clogging our pores and reducing skin’s ability to rid itself of waste material.  The dead skin cells can also prevent our new fresh skin cells underneath from being visible, so brushing helps to keep the skin looking youthful and healthy as this fresh layer is revealed.


    In addition to dry body brushing’s ability to tone and tighten the skin through phsycial exfoliation, it also helps to activate circulation.   It does so by getting the blood flowing to the surface of the skin.  Because of this stimulation of circulation, the skin’s appearance improves and it is also energinzing, much the way a brisk walk would be.

    One of the most amazing things that dry body brushing does is to stimulate and aid the lymphatic system, which has the function of transporting waste and toxins from the cells.  As a result, it helps to increase immunity and fortify the body’s defense against toxins. Read more

  • Caramelized Onions Recipe

    Caramelizing onions is one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to dress up a meal.  Caramelized onions have a nutty, rich and savory flavor.  The act of caramelizing them removes any pungency and sharpness and instead provides a subtle sweetness.  You can transform a simple piece of grilled meat or a burger or sandwich really easily and give it gourmet flair.

    Often times I will buy a bunch of yellow onions and caramelize them all at once and then freeze a portion.  The one down side is that it does take a while, so it’s not the best thing to do when you’re trying to cook up a really quick meal.  It’s a really simple process, though, so it’s good to do when you’re hanging about the kitchen one day.  Then on the days you’re rushed, you can use your prepped onions.  It’s an easy thing to do when multi-tasking or just having a chat and glass of wine.  Lots of times, I will tend to them as I watch Chief cook our actual meal, ha.

    Caramelizing onions is something good to do if you have invited someone over for a meal.  Even if you are just grilling a piece of meat, it makes the house smell like you are cooking up a storm.  I will usually get about 4 medium-large size yellow onions to do this recipe.  The only other thing you need is clarified butter and/or olive oil.  I like to use a mixture of both.  I have probably been too in to butter these days after reading about all its health benefits in books such as Nourishing Traditions, but adjust the fat to whatever you think is best for your body.  So really, all you do is as follows:

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  • Hydrating Oatmeal Banana Mask

    My skin was really dry the other night so I created a mask using some of the good hydrating items I had at home.  My skin looked incredible afterward and I promise I didn’t lick any off my face while I was in the bath 😉  This is a great mask to use in the winter to counteract chapped skin or skin that has been exposed to overly dry indoor air.  There are also some great ingredients in here that help acne-prone skin.  Sometimes even blemished skin is dry from the use of harsh products.


    • 1/2 banana, mashed
    • 1/2 packet Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment
    • 1 Tbsp honey
    •  2 Tbsp full fat plain yogurt or 1 Tbsp whole milk

     Mix together in a small bowl and apply to a clean face for approximately 15 minutes.  Remove gently with warm water and moisturize afterward.

    This is a good way to use up a banana that has just turned over-ripe. The Aveeno bath treatment is just colloidal oatmeal so you could also mill 1/2 cup rolled oats in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle.  If you have blemished or problem skin, try using the manuka honey I referenced in this post. 

    Bananas are moisturizing.  Honey is a humectant and has antibacterial properties.  The oatmeal helps to soothe the skin and also exfoliates to get rid of any flaky skin or dead skin cells.  Yogurt and whole milk both have lactic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid.  This is a very gentle acid which helps to exfoliate the skin and reveal new fresh skin underneath.  The live bacteria cultures in the yogurt keep the bad bacteria that lives in your skin in check and really helps brighten up skin.

  • Emily the Strange – My Lame Adventures In Introversion

    We sit in the loft of my parents’ Minnesota lake cabin circa 1987, the old box fans covered in wet towels and lazily steaming out the hot air of mid-summer.  My best friend and I are sitting on one of the twin beds covered in a peach-colored comforter.  Our bare legs are tan from a day swimming in the fresh algal-smelling lake, rocking on an oversized inner tube to see who would crash in to the water first.  It was a wonderful day punctuated by padding up the pine steps for red Kool-Aid and Wheat Thins covered in Easy Cheese.

    Our conversation carried on as it had all day, incessant talk of the best way to get tan, which boys might be in our class the following fall and our grand plans for working on the fort in the mosquito-infested woods behind the cabin.  And then a familiar feeling began to rise in me again, like a yellow rubber duck in a quickly overfilling bathtub – smiling happily at me in the face of a grave threat.  For no discernible reason, I didn’t want anyone to talk to me anymore.  I wanted her to let me be before the fatigue of interacting with someone threatened to defeat me.  I wanted to be left alone with my thoughts.  I wanted to revert in to my own world with my books and daydreams.  I wanted to run, alone, in silence along the gravel road.  I made a hasty excuse and climbed down the ladder and made a nervous lunge at my mom, beseeching her with my eyes.

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  • I am the captain of a ship of souls

    I am the captain of a ship of souls.  It is wearying to keep these souls safe on a stormy sea.  The boat is built to handle the worst of conditions.  The lifeboats should be there if they need them. They should use their own common sense to determine if unsafe conditions are on the horizon.  And sometimes they do.  I know they rely on me though.  It doesn’t matter that I am smaller.  It doesn’t matter that exhaustion occasionally turns my head in to a dark puddle of inky consciousness, as bottomless and murky as the deep waters this boat crosses.

    I am always awake and always take the night shift, as the souls that inhabit my boat shift restlessly in their beds.  Every now and again, one of them can’t sleep or has a nightmare and comes to me unbidden in the dark of the night.  I say unbidden, but perhaps the softness in my eyes invited them.  Perhaps the way my lips turn up as I grimace in to the salty wind was mistaken for a welcoming smile.  Maybe they know that because I am a captain, I have probably heard it all.  They know listening has weathered my soul.  Somehow, that obliges me to deem their bidding.

    When the sea is uncertain, and the only ground beneath you is watery and rolling, the spirit drifts about in one’s body.  They find the hidden corners where all the soul’s doubts are held.  In these corners rest their flaws and weaknesses along with their most latent desires and shocking failures.  Every now and again, the skin can’t contain this restless spirit and one of them wanders up to me on the deck.

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  • Reaping What We Sow

    Plant CeremonySometimes we have a lousy year or we want a mulligan in life.  There are times we just need to release or start over.  What follows is a story about a clever little ceremony my friend conceived of on my birthday three years ago today to do just that.  Besides a birthday, I also think it would be a really good practice to perform at New Year’s, or I like the idea of fall being a time for renewal, as Victoria Smith blogs about in this post on Corbae Café.  This would also work really well after a break-up, after a recovery, or any time you are committed to turning over a new leaf in life.  In some years, I have decided to consider the Chinese New Year as my time to “start fresh.”  Immediately after the holidays, it can be really hard for us to plan for and implement a change due to the exhaustion that goes along with December.  There are bullets at the bottom detailing how this can be done.  Please feel free to read the meat in the middle about how it worked in my life.

    My 31st year had been a tough one.  There was a marriage separation and there was a move.  I wasn’t myself – I was feeling physically and mentally exhausted and mildly depressed. I didn’t know how my career was going to suit my new life.  I was lonely.  I was set to pass in to my 32nd year with no real plans.  After this year of seclusion and putting up walls in an attempt to go within and “find myself,” and shed some things from my past, my friend base was scarce and I had no family in town.  Just as I was beginning to anticipate the birthday blues, I found out a friend of mine, Karoun, was going to come in to town and was wondering if she could crash with me.

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