Creativity during a pandemic
During the pandemic with endless days of solitude, I’m increasingly grateful that I discovered a passion for painting. I immerse myself in the vibrant colors and create art that continues to surprise me. Hours melt away….
Clearly I’ve been obsessed with the tiles I’ve been painting with alcohol ink, as evidenced by recent posts. I wanted to share a few of my favorite artistic endeavors in this post; all are alcohol ink on Yupo paper.
My Experience with HelloFresh
For those following this blog you know I love to cook. I have my Doctorate from the Food Network (okay I’m making that up), dozens of cookbooks, numerous Pinterest foodie boards and an overall obsession with great food. I was aware of these meal services – HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef – but felt they weren’t for me.
Until a week ago…..
Having passed the one year mark since losing Spence, I started looking at these meal services through a different lens. Cooking for one with a love of food but a small appetite, I’d been finding that food was going to waste – especially produce. Cooking for one, I rarely try new recipes and was in a bit of a rut. I checked out several sites and for me it came down to looking at the meal choices. HelloFresh had me at “Hello” (random Jerry McGuire reference).
The smallest commitment, two 2 serving meals per week (from a choice of ten) made sense for me. There’s no contract and you can skip a week(s) or quit anytime, flexible and hassle free.
Via text updates, I knew my shipment would arrive on Tuesday via UPS. Everything was well-packaged and super fresh, a huge re-usable cold pack inside and the box was lined with a cooler-type insert.
My chosen meals were Lemony Cheese Tortelloni with Pancetta, Peas and Zucchini and Pan Seared Duck Breasts with Duck-Fried Potatoes, Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes.
I made the Tortelloni first, using half the ingredients which were more than ample for a single serving.
I made the recipe exactly as written, making any notes on how I’d enhance the second portion later in the week. I’d add toasted pine nuts, a pinch of red pepper flakes and shave Parmigiano Reggiano over the top adding both texture and flavor.
I love duck and when I see it on a menu I order it – but I’ve never prepared it. HelloFresh gave me a fool-proof recipe and opportunity to try something I’d never done. Count me in…
The Pan Seared Duck entrée was…..perfection! I savored every bite and I can’t wait to make the second portion in the future. I don’t think I’d change anything!
There are lots of enticing first-time offers by these meal services that ultimately make your first order inexpensive and with no long-term committment what have you got to lose?
DIY Bath Products – part six – Body Butters
Over the weekend, inspired by my recent Girl’s Day of making bath products, I got out ingredients to make body butters. Using Pinterest as a resource, I decided the two recipes below. The Creamy Body Butter is a lighter consistency, the Whipped Body Butter is thicker and richer. Both are very moisturizing which is great for dry skin, especially in the winter. I did add essential oils to each of these for fragrance, only to find that the cocoa and shea butters seem to be the prominent scent. You can always take a scoop and use a couple drops of your favorite essential oil before applying to your skin.
Creamy Body Butter
- 1/4 c coconut oil
- 1/2 c shea butter
- 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
Using a double boiler, melt the coconut oil and shea butter until liquified. Remove from heat and stir in olive oil. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes until partially firm. Using a hand mixer, whip until it is the consistency of soft whipped cream. Scoop into jars and store in a cool place.
Whipped Body Butter
- 1 c cocoa butter
- 1/2 c coconut oil
- 1/2 c almond oil
Using a double boiler, gently melt cocoa butter and coconut oil until liquified. Remove from heat and stir in the almond oil. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes until partially firm. Using a hand mixer, whip until it forms white peaks. Scoop into jars and store in a cool place. (I added a drop of red gel food coloring to this one so that I could tell them apart plus it looks pretty)
Girl’s Day Project – Bath Products
If you’ve followed this blog, you may recall my five part DIY Bath Products series from late 2015 when I made them for gifts – and for myself. Throughout the year – typically on rainy/snowy days, I’d haul out my supplies and expand my bath products repertoire and inventory. Working with essential oils is not only fun but the house smells pretty amazing.
My lifelong BFF and I had discussed doing a Girl’s Day of making bath products for the last several months. To her credit, she set the date and a plan to make: 1) room and body sprays 2) foaming liquid soaps 3) facial sugar scrubs and 4) foaming bath salt scrubs. The coldest day of the year thus far with bursts of snow and wind, it was a good day to be indoors Shortly before I arrived, she’d texted me a “how about some homemade soup?” to which I quickly replied “Yes!”.
After a very satisfying and delicious lunch (completed with veggies, dill dip and Pinot Noir) we set to work. Since the wine was opened, we felt it would be wasteful not to finish it off. This served to enhance our creativity (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). When you’ve been friends since you were two years old there’s a history of hilarity, silliness and laughing till you’re crying (or snorting) that is tapped into. For several hours, we embraced our zaniness as we worked on our fragrant endeavors, measuring and blending away like we were chemists. Or stand-up comics. Or both.
Easy Upcycle DIY
Being a foodie, I have countless bottles of herbs and spices. The other day, having emptied a bottle of Trader Joe’s red pepper flakes, I soaked off the label and thought hmmmm….this could make a cute little bud vase.
With the holes in the plastic top, I arranged some of the short stemmed peonies from the garden – perfect.
Today, I replaced the spent peonies with the newest garden blooms, my sweetpeas. With their thin stems, the little holes hold them upright making a petite and pretty bouquet.
DIY Bath Products – part five – Homemade Shower Disks
Let me start by saying I’ve never been particularly crafty. My creative outlets have been cooking, gardening and photography.
Retired and with an addiction to Pinterest, I’ve started to look for “recipes” in which I could make things using my essential oils.
For this project, I made these amazing shower disks. These can be placed on the bottom of the tub while showering, releasing the scent of the oils in the steam.
I plan to also drop them into baths. I love a good soak in the tub while reading, meditating or enjoying a glass or wine – or sipping a shot of liqueur.
Homemade Shower Disks – makes 6
1 cup baking soda
1/3 cup water to start, be prepared to add more
essential oils – I choose eucalyptus, lavender and wintergreen
Mix baking soda and water until it’s thick like a paste. I used a silicone muffin pan (spritzed with olive oil) Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off. Remove and add your essential oils to each disk; I chose 3 drops eucalyptus, 2-3 drops lavender, 1-2 drops wintergreen onto each disk – it absorbs quickly. Put the pan back in the oven to let them “cure” or dry a bit longer from the residual heat.
Store in a glass jar or in a ziplock bag.
DIY Bath Products – part four – Orange Honey Lotion Bars
The Michigan winter and forced air heat is drying and hard on our skin. I started using coconut oil on my skin and recently to condition my hair but always wished it smelled a bit better. I’d been given solid lotion bars as gifts before – solid until they melt against your skin. I’ve always wondered about making my own.
Fast forward to Pinterest where I discovered this “recipe”(courtesy of Thank Your Body). It’s bitterly cold in Michigan so today’s the day. I’d purchased organic beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil and sweet orange essential oil as well as a silicone mold recently. Today, I dug out my trusty double boiler and am ready to roll – or melt.
1 1/2 Tablespoons of raw honey
2 ounces organic beeswax
2 ounces organic shea butter
2 ounces organic coconut oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 drops of organic sweet orange essential oil
1. In a double boiler, melt together the beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil until they become liquid.
2. Turn the heat off and add the olive oil, honey, and essential oil drops. I warmed my honey first – make sure that it’s fully melted into the mix as it is the thickest component.
3. Pour liquified mixture into the molds.
4. Allow to set in a cool place for 7 to 8 hours, or pop in the fridge to speed up the process.
Not feeling 100% confident as to how these will turn out, I cut the recipe in half except I did use the full amount of essential oil. It made 4 bars in the mold shown above, though I didn’t fill the molds to the very top. The orange fragrance is very subtle even though I used the amount for a full – not half recipe. Want a more scented bar? Simply increase the amount of essential oil.
To store these, keep them in little plastic containers in a cool place. When you’re ready to use, rub a bar between your palms to soften with body heat then massage into your skin.
DIY Bath Products – part three – Bubbling Bath Salts
This is my latest bath product creation – Ocean Breeze Bubbling Bath Salts. Not only do they smell fabulous but they are the prettiest color.
It is my favorite creation to date. I’ve added the recipe below!
- 6 cups Epsom Salt
- 3/4 cup Suave Ocean Breeze Body Wash
- 1 T Almond Oil
- 5 drops each of lemon, sweet orange and grapefruit essential oils
Stir together, spread onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and allow to partially dry over 48 hours. Stir again and spoon into wide mouth 4 oz mason jars. Makes 8 jars.
This has a fresh scent and leaves your skin soft after bathing.
DIY Bath Products – part two
Today’s project involved Bath Salts, Fizzing Bath Salts and my second and seemingly better attempt at Bath Bombs.