Friday, August 27, 2010

Easy Bake

Chocolate. Cookies. Cakes. Baking!

(Photo courtesy of
Seriously, though.
Last week we were walking the aisles of a local grocery store in search of a yummy snack.
I wanted sweet, preferably chocolate...and wholesome. That is, I don't like a lot of chemicals and hard-to-pronounce ingredients in our goodies.
PS: I ended up leaving without said snack because I just couldn't find anything that fit the bill.
In a pinch, I will settle for Pepperidge Farm...and I've never met an Oreo I didn't like...But those are our occasional splurges. Time and again, I always go back to baking.
For me, it is just the best way to go.
Tonight, a sudden craving for brownies led me to this recipe.
It does not get much easier than this and the plus side is you'll know
every ingredient that went into your treat!
Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"August creates as she slumbers..."

After all the traveling around here and there and living out of our suitcases this summer,
it has been so relaxing to finally be home for a chunk of time.
We have been enjoying these days as summer (sadly) winds down.
The change in light and the air especially in the evenings is already noticeable.
Here is just a little bit of what we have been up to:

While on a picnic at our very special place...
Not to mention some very exciting outdoor concerts
including KC & The Sunshine Band!

Granny hangers for me & my girl...
A great way to cover those ugly ones from the dry cleaners.
I'm making this one for my future sister-in-law to hang her wedding dress on.
I've been working on a basic shawl in black and adorable shrug for the fall.
I'm hoping to eliminate the confusion I often feel when trying to buy something
to wear during transitional, in-between weather!

Fingerless Gloves & matching headband for a girl who is turning 7
and has a style all her own...She LOVES black, too!

Lots of vegetarian and Indian, as usual... I am very proud of this
Aloo Paratha, which is an Indian flatbread stuffed with potatoes and spices and is
one of my favorite things to eat for lunch.
After many attempts over the past months, I finally have the dough spot on!
(Thank you, KitchenAid.)
I go to my favorite Indian "Auntie" for my virtual cooking classes.
I wish Manjula lived next door to me! I am such a fan.
She is one of those people I would love to just hang-out and cook with, too.
She has taught me everything I know about cooking
delicious homestyle Indian food, my favorite!

I hope everyone is having a healthful, happy, blessed
SUMMER...enjoying each day to the fullest!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today You Are Six

I can't believe how quickly a baby grows into a six year old little girl.
I have an ongoing joke with my little one...I say, "Okay, so what did you
do with the baby???" And she just laughs and says, "MOM..I AM THE BABY!
(Yes, my sweet girl, you are growing up.)
I am happy and a bit sad, too-
because life goes by so quickly, and I never truly internalized that
until I had my daughter. I'm just savoring every minute of her life; taking it all in and enjoying
the blessings of watching a human being evolve-From the blip on the sonogram when I first saw her, discovering I was now and God willing beyond...I'd gladly take forever if I could...
Josette, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, You make me happy
when skies are gray..."

I discover new things about you every day and they are all AMAZING!
I can't believe I created you...with God's help, of course!
Happy Birthday, Sweet One.
I can't wait to see what SIX brings...xoxo

It was a very nice few days, indeed. A couple of parties, friends, family, pizzas, ice-cream, a movie, a walk along a rainy beach, new earrings, a special memory necklace for a
"Big Girl," and lots of clothes with a smattering of books, dvd's and toys.

This birthday marked the start of my using handmade fabric gift bags instead of wrapping.
I have finally made the transition and LOVE IT.
As fun as it is, I just can't do the paper anymore.
These make so much more sense to me...and we get to save them throughout the
years and make them special!

What a wonderful 24 hours it has been celebrating
my girl.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

DIY: Rare Earth Daily Cleanser and a little background...

My love of Kiehl's first started when I was eleven and went to visit my best-friend from summer camp who lived in Ohio, and while visiting NYC was staying at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
My grandpa, (who passed on his love for all-natural products to me) picked me up from my city weekend and brought me down to the lobby, where they sold Kiehl's. I remember picking out little samples of egg and herbal shampoos...Hey, it was the 70's!
I was hooked.
Years later, when I was in my early thirties, I lived a block away from the famous Kiehl's store in NYC.
Me and my boyfriend at the time were addicted to a couple products, primarily the Pour Homme shower gel and body lotion, which to me was the perfect unisex fragrance to share.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of strolling around downtown with my girl and what do you know...I found myself right in front of the shop. Well, Pour Homme brought back fond memories, but I had no interest in wearing them! I ended up purchasing one of Kiehl's original fragrance oils in Cucumber. It was the perfect quirky spring fragrance and I love it.
(I read somewhere Bjork likes it, too.)
Things apparently changed at Kiehl's because they are no longer as "generous" with the samples as they once were. Everyone knew you only had to purchase a little something to take home a hefty smattering of their famous samples.
This time, I found myself practically begging for a sample of facial cleanser and only after taking what felt like an oath that I had combination skin! Ugh. Anyway, that is how I found Rare Earth facial cleanser and my skin fell in love with it.
The End...
Not really. See, this Mama is on a tight budget. It is also empowering to make my own (and almost always) BETTER products using the original as an inspiration for my homemade creations. And not that I'm knockin' them, but there are a few (or more than a few) suspicious chemicals, additives, and ingredients in their costly products.
So, I took the key players from the Kiehl's version, mainly the clay...and I created something that makes my skin feel even cleaner and softer, than the "OG!" Sorry, Kiehl's.
I still love you...

My Rare Earth Facial Cleanser
3 Tablespoons Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons French Clay
1 Teaspoon of Sugar (for exfoliation)
1.5 Tablespoon Oatmeal
Put the above ingredients in a blender or other blending device. I used a coffee bean grinder I have and it worked splendidly!
Give it a few whirls until everything is ground up fine.
Careful when you open the lid. You don't want to breathe in clay powder!
Put your lovely facial cleanser in a jar or other air-tight container.
To Use: Place about a teaspoon of cleanser into the palm of your hand. Add a tiny bit of hot water, enough to mix a paste. Gently rub around your entire face, focusing on the oily areas.
You can even leave this on for a few minutes as a mask, if desired.
Rinse and pat your beautiful face dry.
I promise, you will love the way your skin feels.
Hope you'll try it.
***Stay tuned for my tingly deoderant/foot powder recipe!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dear Summer,

I am unabashedly relishing all of the delights you have offered me!
(Staten Island, NY)

There have been few free moments, but all have been memorable.
(Movies at the Brooklyn Salt Marshes)

You have given us sunshine, water, peace, beauty, lots of fun,
and the love & company
of our wonderful family & friends.

(Westhampton Beach, NY)

Thank you for being so very good to me & my girl.
Love Always,