Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Personal Care Products That I Use

I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite personal care products. I am going to split it up into three categories; skin care, hair cleanser, and perfume.

I hope you find this interesting! :)

Skin Care:

A skin care product that I use all of the time and find makes a positive difference in how my skin feels and looks is a luffa sponge. I use very few skin products, but I consider having a luffa sponge to be a worthwhile purchase.

I usually pay around $1.50-$2.00 for a luffa sponge. I can sometimes find them for the $1.50 price at Big Lots and closer to $2.00 at Walmart. The most recent one I purchased was actually 25¢ at a garage sale, still in the original packaging! (I wouldn't have been interested if it was not brand new, gross!) I was really excited to find such a good deal on something I consider a luxury item.

Luffa sponges are actually not sponges at all. They are part of the cucumber family! The sponge part of the luffa is from the inside of the squash-like fruit. The sqaush is dried and then the inside is harvested. It is a light, rigged, porous substance.

Luffa sponges are great at exfoliating the skin. The scrubbing action can stimulate blood flow, which is great, because your blood is how your body carries nutrients and oxygen to your skin. This makes your skin healthier. And healthy skin is beautiful skin!

I replace my luffa sponge about every six months. It starts to get dark spots, which I believe to be mold growth, at around that time. I will sometimes soak my sponge in vinegar to kill the mold, but eventually it needs to be replaced. Another thing I try to do to extend the useful life of my sponge is let it dry between uses. I try not to store it in the shower where conditions are always damp and moist.

When it is time to replace my luffa sponge I throw the old one in the compost. Luffa sponges are 100% natural and biodegradable.

I wear lipstick from time to time, but I wear either A+D ointment or lanolin on my lips all the time. Both products are not exactly marketed as lip moisturizer.

A+D ointment is found in the baby care section of stores next to diaper rash cream. A+D ointment is a very good diaper rash cream. It is also a good healing ointment to put on minor scrapes and cuts. It also makes a good lip moisturizer and gloss.

Lanolin is also sold in the baby department of most stores. It is next to all of the nursing supplies. Lanolin is know for being a soothing, protective saav to use on dry, cracked nipples. Lanolin is safe to be consumed by the baby and that makes it great for nursing mothers. Lanolin also makes a really good lip moisturizer and gloss, as well.

I usually carry Lanolin in my purse and A+D ointment stays in the bathroom cabinet. Both products are pretty inexpensive and have multiple applications. I use such small amounts that each tube will last for several years.

Hair Cleanser:

I use a cleansing conditioner as my only hair product.

I used to do the no shampoo method with just baking soda and vinegar. (I even wrote a blog post about it here.) I did that for well over a year. I started running into problems with my ends getting really brittle (pH imbalance?) and really gross grease or mineral (or both) build ups matting my hair.

I discovered Renpure Cleansing Conditioner about a year ago. The product is made in the United States and contains zero sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and propylene glycol. It comes in four scents, that I am aware of, Rosemary Mint, Vanilla Mint, Lavender, and Sweet Pomegranate.

The product is kind of pricey. A 16 ounce bottle is almost $7.00 at Walmart. One bottle lasted me exactly one year, though. For us, $7.00 a year for hair care products is affordable. Keep in mind that how long a bottle of shampoo will last has a lot of variables like your hair type, hair length, frequency of washing, ect. My hair is a little dry and course and frizzy. It is down to my waist. And, I only wash it every 5-6 days.

I have really enjoyed using the Renpure Cleansing Conditioner. The Conditioner does a really good job at keeping my hair clean and hydrated. The product is designed to be used in between washes with real shampoo. The suggestion on the bottle is to wash your hair with shampoo every sixth wash or so. The brand also has a shampoo that is sulfate and paraben free.

With my particular hair type I have never felt the need to use a shampoo at all while using the Cleansing Conditioner. I liked the Rosemary Mint scent. The new bottle I purchased is the Vanilla Mint scent. They are both nice, but I like the Rosemary Mint best.


I started wearing perfume a year ago. My husband and I went to a 18th century historical reenactment of life in a French and Native American fort in the wilderness last October. At the reenactment there were vendors or "suttlers" who sold period supplies and such. One of the suttlers was an appothecary business from Wisconsin. Here is a link to their Etsy store. They sell many different authentic personal care products. Some of their perfumes are made from actual recipes from the 1700's and others are just made with techniques and ingredients from the time period.

The LCC Historical Appothecary sells an Austin (as in Jane Austin) perfume collection. Each scent is named after one Jane Austin's famous heroines and is formulated to accentuate her particular characteristics. After sampling the perfumes we settled on"Jane", which is very fitting in many ways. (Those who know me closely will understand. 😁) The perfume is very floral with notes of rose, Lily, and jasmine.

When sampling a perfume it is important to actually put it on your skin. The various chemical make up and oils of your skin can make the perfume smell different than it does in the bottle.

After coming home with my very first perfume I wanted to make sure I used it properly. I read several helpful articles on line that gave some guidelines and tips. I also learned that wether a scent is called a toilet water, perfume, or cologne is based solely on the concentration of the fragrance, and not on the gender for whom it is intended.

These are the guidelines I follow when applying my perfume.

1. Always apply perfume to clean, dry skin. I apply perfume every time after I shower and have thoroughly dried off.

2. Apply a small amount of perfume on three areas of the body. Your scent should not be wafting off of you in your wake. The scent should be something that only people who are very close to you might smell, like when you give a loved one a hug.
I usually apply perfume at the base of my neck, under my ear, and at my collar bone.

3. Allow your perfume to dry on you skin before dressing to avoid your clothing crushing the scent. You do not want to rub your perfume into your skin. That can diminish the more delicate notes of your scent.

I have really enjoyed getting to wear perfume. It is one of those things that makes me feel grown-up and sophisticated. I, also, really like how Mr. In The Mid-west notices my perfume. :) He loves it and always tells me how nice I smell. :)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"More Cookies, Please!"

Over the past month I have been a "Cookie Jar Mama".  What is a "Cookie Jar Mama"? It is just what I decided to call those kind of mother who always have a full cookie jar and let their children (or grandchildren) have free range of the cookies.

I don't actually have a cookie jar. What I did was bake a couple batches of cookies and put them into containers in the freezer. Boy In The Mid-west knows where they are located. He can open the freezer by himself and get cookies whenever he wants.

I have not had the heart or resolve to stop him. He doesn't spoil his appetite with cookies before meals. Nor does he pig out on cookies. So far, I have no problems with him helping himself to cookies.

Most nights he wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to the kitchen to fetch a cookie as a midnight snack. I really think it is kind of cute. :) He is just two years old, but he toddles in there, opens the freezer, and pulls a cookie out like a tiny grown-up.

The night before last we were out of cookies. BMW didn't know what to do. How could we be out of cookies?! I told him we would make some "tomorrow".

Yesterday I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies to restock the freezer.

While I was taking cookies off of baking sheet, BMW was sitting across the counter from me eating a chocolate chip cookie. He looked at me with a smile on his chocolate-y face and said, "Thank you for make cookies!"

Awww. "You're welcome, Son!"

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 
Matthew 7:11 (KJV)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Little House, Does Anyone Remember This Picture Book?

During our weekly trip to the library I found The Little House and checked it out. 

I remember this picture book from my childhood. I loved the story. The very nature of the tale evokes nostalgia.

For those who are unfamiliar with the book I will give you a short summary. I will share some pictures, too, hoping not to violate copy right laws.

The little house was a sturdy home built out in the country a long, long time ago. The man who built the house said that the house could never be sold and his great-great grand-children's, great-great grand-children would live there. The seasons came and went. The children grew up. The apple trees died and had to be replaced. Way off in the distance the little house could see the glow of the city lights at night. Sometimes she wondered what it would be like to live in the city.

Very slowly the city was built up around the little house. First came automobiles, then the road, then neighborhoods, then shops and tenement houses, and eventually the subway and El train. The tenement houses were torn down and skyscrapers were built. The little house was very sad and lonely. No one lived in her any more. She missed living in the country. She missed the field of daisies and apple trees and seeing the stars at night.

One day the great- great grand-daughter of the man who built the house walked by the little house. She didn't rush past. She stopped, and said, "This looks like the house that my grandmother grew up in."

The great-great grand-daughter had the house moved way out into the country. Once again the little house was lived in, and she could watch the seasons change. And they all lived happily ever after.

Well, that turned out to be not such a short summary. I hope that I have conveyed the charm of The Little House. 

We never owned this story when I was a child, and we never checked it out from the library. This was one of the books in the Dr.'s office waiting room. That is where I read The Little House. Every time I was in the waiting room I remember finding that book to read.

Do you remember this book from your childhood? My husband did. I was pretty excited about it when I got home from the library. In my enthusiasm I was like, "Guess what I found at the library, The Little House!" Mr. In The Mid-west had fond memories of the book, so he shared in my excitement.

For those who would like to find out more about The Little House here is the publishing information:

The Little House
Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
Copyright 1942 by Virginia Lee Demetrios
Copyright renewed 1969 by George Demetrios
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company

Monday, September 25, 2017

Gluten Free Brownies With Masa Harina Recipe

I adapted this recipe from a recipe I found on Yammie's Gluten Freedom blog. You can see her recipe here. She has a ton of gluten free and allergy sensitive recipes. My sister is the one who told me about Yammie's blog. She has followed her for several years now. Yammie's main blog is called Yammie's Noshery where she posts not only gluten free, but all kinds of delicious recipes. She takes many enticing photographs of her foods. They make your mouth water. :)

Here are some changes I made to the original recipe:

#1. The original recipe calls for brown and white sugar. I only buy white sugar (well actually it is a minutely less refined, non-GMO, cane sugar) so I added some molasses to the recipe to make up for the lacking brown sugar.

#2. I added a pinch of salt.

#3. I added masa harina. The original recipe doesn't call for any kind of flour and I felt like I would like to have a little filler ingredient in my brownies. Masa harina is a prepared corn flour commonly used for making corn tortillas. I usually have some on hand. It is sold it the Mexican food section of grocery stores. Our Aldi even carries it!

#4. I omitted the chocolate chips and nuts in the original recipe. I'm sure they would taste good, but I didn't have any in the pantry. I think the brownies turned out great without the nuts or chocolate chips. I couldn't tell I was missing anything. :)

Gluten Free Brownies With Masa Harina

1 cup sugar
1 heaping teaspoon molasses
Pinch of salt
3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 TBS.) vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1/2 masa harina
3/4 cup cocoa powder

In a mixing bowl combine sugar, molasses, salt, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whip with a whisk on high speed for 2 minutes or until mixture is glossy.
Add masa and cocoa powder, and stir until combined.
Pour into a greased 8"×8" pan or 7"×9" pan.
Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven for 25 minutes.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Kale Chips, I'm Not A Fan

I made some Kale Chips a few weeks ago. I followed some guidelines I read online for making sure your Kale Chips turned out nice and crispy.

Tip 1. After washing make sure your kale is dry. You don't want the extra water to steam the the leaves in the oven.

Tip 2. Take the tough center stem out. You don't have to use a knife. You can just grab hold of the stem in one hand and then, with the fingers of your other hand, strip away the leaf from the stem.

Tip 3. Don't put any liquid flavorings (like vinegar, soy sauce, or liquid smoke) on the kale before roasting. That could make it soggy.

Tip 4. Do use a little oil. Don't use a bunch of oil. About 1/2 TBS. on enough kale to fill a sheet pan.

Tip. 5 spread them into one layer on the sheet pan. Don't over lap the leaves.

I washed and dried the kale, de-stemmed it, rubbed it with oil and seasoning, and spread it onto sheet pans.

I followed the ladies baking instructions. You can see them here.

My kale chips turned out with a super dry, crisp crunch, which I was very happy with.

I thought that the seasoning we're good.

The only problem: the flavor of the kale. I just didn't like it. It had a strong brown, roasted type of flavor.

I am not sure if the flavor of the kale would be better if I had used younger more tender leaves. Have any of you made kale chips? Do you know if the age of the leaf makes a difference? Please let me know!

I was really looking forward to having kale chips. It seemed like the kind of food that was right up my alley. I was quite surprised at how much I didn't like the flavor of the kale.

I didn't want to waste all of my kale chips. I decided to crush them up, and I have been using the crushed leaves in soups. The spices and seasonings add some good flavor and the kale is not as noticable.

What do you think of Kale Chips? Let me know in the comments section. :)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fun Project, I Made Real Croissants!

Here is a link to the recipe I followed. That way you don't have to read through my long-winded explanation to get to the recipe. :)

It took me some searching to find a recipe for real croissants. I knew that true croissants have butter laminated into the dough and multiple folding and rolling sessions to create the flaky buttery layers.

I was shocked to discover that the crescent roll recipe in my America's Test Kitchen (who I consider to be a very accurate and reliable source for good cooking information) cook book was just an ordinary dough recipe cut into triangles and rolled into crescent shapes! Surely they knew that a real croissant was so much more!

With every Google search for, "Crescent Roll Recipe," I was equally disappointed. All the results were for recipes of ordinary dinner roll dough baked in crescent shapes.

And then it dawned on me, There must be a difference between Crescent Rolls and Croissant Rolls.

I didn't know how to spell Croissant. I couldn't even get close enough for auto correct to help me. I ended up having to use the 'speak to Google' feature on my phone.
Sure enough, by saying, "French croissants," several real croissant roll recipes popped up.

As this recipe says, croissants are a great recipe for anyone to try because they don't require any special equipment or ingredients. They just require technique and time.

And, by 'time', I mean three days worth.

On day one, you make the dough and then it needs to rest overnight in the refrigerator.

On day two, you laminate the butter into the dough. The butter is first encased in the dough. Once sealed, the package is rolled out and folded in thirds,... and rolled out and folded in thirds,..... and rolled out and folded in thirds. Resting for 20 minutes in the refrigerator in between each rolling. When the rolling and folding in done put the dough in the refrigerator overnight.

On day three, you get to shape the croissant roll and bake them.

The croissants turned out picture perfect! And, according to Mr. In The Mid-west, they were flaky and delicious.

I expected the whole process to be quite arduous and difficult, but I am happy to say that it really wasn't that hard and the dough was really easy to work with. (The new marble rolling pin that my mom sent for my birthday, might have been what made the dough so easy to work with. "Thank you, Mommy!" I may give it it's own little post.)

I think I will definitely be making croissants again. I'm sure I won't make them often enough for them to lose their 'treat' status, but they will be something I enjoy creating instead of a chore. If you like eating croissants and baking I encourage you to give this recipe a try. 
I am just leaving a link for this recipe, instead of posting the whole recipe, because it is so long. Maybe I will post the entire recipe on my blog someday so that I can find it quickly, but for now I will just bookmark the page.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Story And Cloud "Bread" Recipe | Gluten Free, Grain Free, And Very Low Carbs

This bread has given me a sandwich experience back!

I did a very restrictive elimination diet for six months, for health reasons. When I started to re-introduce foods again I had a bad response to wheat and wheat products. I tried several times and each time I had terrible stomach pains within a few hours. It was so bad that I decided I would not eat wheat any more. The short pleasure of cake or bread was not worth the amount of pain I would have in the next hours.

I even tried eating properly prepared sourdough, the kind with only wild caught airborne yeast. I thought that process would make the wheat easier to digest. It gave me just as much pain as the other wheat products.

For the unforeseeable future cinnamon rolls, fresh yeast bread, real pizza, and normal sandwiches are just going to exist in the form of memories for me. I have still been baking breads, and the aromas are quite satisfying, even if I must resist tasting.

I was relating this development to a lady a church. She asked if I had tried Cloud Bread. She said she would bring me a recipe. She had made it because she has diabetes and wanted a low carb bread, but she said it should be good for me since it has no grains of any kind.

This Cloud Bread is not a good replacement for all of the things you would use regular bread for, but one thing it does well is hold a sandwich together.

During the whole time of being on the elimination diet I never looked for bread alternatives. It really wasn't possible. All grains, seeds, nuts  and legumes were off limits, as well as, eggs and all dairy products. I did miss bread, but I didn't realize how much I missed having a sandwich.

Sandwiches are delicious! Having meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickle, mayonnaise, and mustard all smashed together in one bite is delightful! I feel like a person that has lived where sandwiches don't exist and now I am trying to describe them to my fellow country-men. :)

Here is the recipe for Cloud Bread.

Cloud Bread

3 eggs, separated
1 packet of stevia (you could use 1TBS. of honey)
3 TBS. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Separate eggs.
In a bowl mix yolks, cream cheese, and sweetener.
In another bowl combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Mix at high speed until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold egg whites into yolk mixture.
Grease a large cookie sheet. Spoon batter onto the cookie sheet making hamburger buns shapes.
Bake at 300°F. for about 30 minutes.
Remove from cookie sheet and cool.
Place in an airtight container and wait until the following day to eat them.
 These freeze well.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Chicken Armenian Recipe

This is a pretty simple chicken recipe. It is a recipe I found in my early days of marriage, you know, back in those days when you are figuring out what will be the staple ingredients in your husband's and your kitchen. Things aren't the same as your mom's kitchen any more, and you have to learn your husband's tastes and figure out your(plural) "go-to" meals.

Anyway, this recipe is really tasty and uses cheap ingredients, but dresses up really well and would make a good company dish.

The chicken pieces get browned in a skillet before being transferred to a baking tray.

The recipe calls for two fryer chickens cut into pieces, but I use chicken legs or thighs. A lot of the time I use a package of chicken quarters and then cut them into leg and thigh pieces.

The sauce is poured over the chicken and then it goes in the oven to bake.

Chicken Armenian Recipe

1/4 to 1/3 cup butter
2 broiler-fryer chickens (about 2 1/3 pound each)  cut in 4 pieces
1 large onion, think sliced
1 clove garlic (I use at least 3) minced
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
2 TBS. wine vinegar
1 tsp. paprika
1 1/4 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large frying pan and fry the chickens on both sides until light brown. Place skin side down, side by side, in a large shallow baking pan or broiler pan.

Fry the onions in the remaining butter, adding more if necessary, until limp and golden; add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, and paprika to the pan; and heat just to the boiling point. Pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake uncovered in a 400° F. oven for 45 minutes or until light reddish-brown, turning the chicken at the end of the first 20 minutes. Baste with pan juices several times during the last 25 minutes of cooking. 

Serve with rice if desired, spooning some of the pan juices over the chicken and rice.