Thursday, March 28, 2013

Inspire Me Thursday

Happy Thursday! This is an extra special Thursday because I'm posting this from The Farm!  It's been far too long since I've smelled the fresh country air... 

Love Desiree

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Journey to Wellness: Beauty Discoveries I Found In My Kitchen!

I have not been this passionate about something since I don't even know when so you're going to have to put up with this blog taking a serious turn to green!  Some of my favourite discoveries so far have been found in my very own kitchen cupboards! These are my top 4 but I'll keep em coming as I find more...

1. Organic Coconut Oil - There is a reason this is number one. This stuff is AMAZING!  Thank-god for coconuts! I use it for cooking, I use it as a dry scalp treatment (by heating some up and rubbing it into my scalp and leaving it on for as long as I can stand it before washing out and it's been the only thing to clear up my unsightly flakes), a moisturizer for my hands, feet, and body, a cheek highlighter (it makes them shimmer better than any highlighter cream I've tried) , and most recently a facial cleanser! Yes, you heard me correctly.  I cleansed my oily skin with oil last night.  It was scary and I was skeptical but I think I may have discovered that oil cleansing is going to change my life.  Maybe. The verdict is still out so I'm not going to make any rash statements here but I'll let you know how it goes... It's definitely a great eye make up remover though, so get rid of the stuff you're currently using... like now.  It likely contains carcinogenic chemicals and endocrine disruptors.  Thanks again Lancome!  Really appreciate it.

2. Raw Organic Honey - Hmmm…it's not just delicious, it's also antibacterial and great as a face wash!  It's not going to take any makeup off, you'll have to do that first but it's lovely for a gentle morning cleanse or a weekend face mask.  Just wet your face to open up your pours and rub a tbsp of honey in your hands and then massage it in. It smells incredible and I like to lick my lips the whole time.  I even added a little bit of baking soda once to give it some exfoliating suds and my skin loved it.  This is where I got the idea and I trust anything these women say.  I'll say it again…. No More Dirty Looks changed my mother f$%&^ing life! Why do we use harsh chemically filled cleanser to strip our face of all it's natural oils only to put the oils back onto our face with moisturizer that also contains toxic sludge? Why not skip the harsh cleanser?

3. Aloe Gel -  It soothed my itchy scalp and calmed my frizzy hair... It's a miracle plant with so many uses...everyone should have one.

4. Corn Starch - A natural dry shampoo that works just as well as the toxic store bought ones.  This stuff is key in my routine! I think it actually works better than my Klorane Dry Shampoo (that by the way has propane in it which isn't even the worst part).  I'm trying to limit my hair washing to a couple times a week and this stuff really makes that possible.  I sprinkle it all over my roots..rub in, and brush…  Instant shine, no grease, and a volume boost!  I experimented with the "no 'poo" method of washing with water and baking soda and rinsing with apple cider vinegar and I think it was a good thing to do for a few weeks as a sort of detox for your hair but I like shampoo too much to cut it out altogether. Not a big fan of the scent of vinegar in the morning... There are lots of clean shampoos out there but make sure you read the ingredients cos a lot of them aren't what they claim to be…even at health food stores I've seen 'parfum' or 'fragrance' on the label which is often just a code name for a hundred toxic ingredients that they won't disclose. SHAME! You'd have to call the manufacturer to be sure...but I just avoid them cos I'm too lazy to make the call and if you're keeping ingredients from me I'm not interested in your product.

So much fun right? Right?? I love sticking it to the man! The cosmetic industry would never tell you that you can get the results that your hundred dollar face cream gives you with a jar of coconut oil! Give some of these a try and let me know how it goes… : )  Do you have any natural remedies we should know about??? Post them in the comments below. : )

Thanks for reading... : )
Love Desiree Pin It

Inspire Me Thursday

Happy Thursday you beautiful people!  I am sooooo sorry to have failed you last week… I was incapacitated I swear or I would have come through!  I didn't have just one flu…I had TWO flus!  WTF right? I felt like the sick sister in 'Little Women' fighting for her life.  Thankfully I am back!  After a week of quarantine I have reentered civilization to find that it's still effing winter!  COME ON ALREADY!  I thought I had slept through the final days of this hellish season but after a walk in -10 degree weather today I am well aware that I most certainly did not!  So it's with a little frustration that I come to you today with my inspirations….I do take comfort knowing that spring could happen at any moment now...maybe even tomorrow, so lets keep our heads up.

Oh my god I cannot wait for Lilacs.  I'm going to try and make some floral essences this spring so I can hold onto the scents of spring flowers a little longer...
I love it that there used to be a magazine devoted to watching women...this one seemed fitting to share on the blog... : )

The shock of women wearing shorts. Men are pigs. : ) Sorry guys but you know it's true.

My newest crafty endeavor! Making my own scents!
On the hunt for bottles...

My newest value village score...
Outdoor dining!
 Cool idea...window screens from old lace curtains...

Finally... Have you guys ever heard of the Creaclip? I've read a bunch of reviews that rave about this thing and since I hate the hairdresser and all the products they use I refuse to go back.  I don't have a creaclip and they're kind of expensive so I tried to rig one up last weekend with an embroidery hoop.  Not quite the same thing.  I didn't have the courage to take off more than a couple millimeters so I don't think that's going to work.  What do you think?

 What's most inspiring me right now is my shift to clean living as you may have already read about here and here but I'm also reading all about Eastern Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine and that's really inspiring me too. Lots of learning going on over here.... : )

We are sooo close to the weekend I just can't wait!

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Journey to Wellness: My First Steps to Clean Beauty

When I first decided to go clean with my beauty routine my first worry (because worry is my first response to everything!) was that I'd look like crap. The chemicals in cosmetics are what make them work right? WRONG!  Thank-god! I'm so vain!

So the first thing I did was search the internet to find out where I could buy organic makeup in Toronto.  I didn't want to spend one more hour with this dirty crap on my face but I definitely did not have the confidence to go to work bare faced so I needed to find some cover up STAT! I found Pure and Simple, an all organic skin care spa that also carried Jane Iredale, a brand of mineral foundation that came highly recommended on lots of websites. I jumped on the street car and headed down to King and Shaw immediately. (I'm not exaggerating...I got up from my desk, grabbed my coat and was gone.) I came into this calm little shop and was greeted by a sweet girl with perfect skin who colour matched me and gave me a good how-to session on how to apply the stuff properly.  I won't lie to you...I spent an obscene amount of money.  A compact of mineral foundation, a blush, and an eyebrow pencil ran me close to a hundred bucks but it was definitely worth it for the piece of mind of knowing I was not wearing any hormone disrupting chemicals. I'm disrupted enough thank-you very much! She also let me take a sample of any of their other skin or hair care products so I grabbed a couple shampoo and conditioner samples to hold me over while I decided on what to do about my hair.  (More on my hair later)

What I needed more immediately was a mascara…and a cheap one preferably.  No More Dirty looks suggested the organic line of Physicians Formula so I popped into Walmart and grabbed a mascara for 12 bucks and it works perfectly fine. In my opinion an eyelash curler is more important than the mascara anyway.  It will run on the first sign of water which is to be expected with natural products but it doesn't burn which seriously makes me wonder what in the world was making my eyes burn by the end of the day with my old stuff.

Next up: rouge!  After all, it is kind of my trademark and I think people at work were starting to worry I was dying after a week of seeing me without mascara or a red lip. After experimenting with beets I decided that was NOT going to cut it despite my high hopes and I started searching the web for lipstick reviews. I found Ilia came with some high praise and lo and behold they carried it at a shop minutes away from my work called The Detox Market.  It's like the Holt Renfrew of clean beauty.  I bought the Ilia tinted lip conditioner in crimson and clover and it's the best lipstick I've ever worn.  My lips feel great, look great, smell great, and even taste great.  Worth the ummm...26 bucks!  Fak! I also broke down and bought the un-concealer from RMS beauty because the Jane Iredale just wasn't enough to cover up some unsightly blemishes I was dealing with at the time. I won't even admit to you how much I spent on that.  But you know what? I don't even care, it's the best thing ever. I also splurged on some Infinite Love by Lotus Wei which is pretty awesome but not essential...but I felt like after the winter I've had I was in need of some serious love.

So ya, that was my big splurge for a clean makeup bag and I've not looked back once…my skin looks fantastic. I might try another kind of mineral makeup next time around just because I'm intrigued by Vapour cosmetics but all in all I am absolutely thrilled with my new stuff!

 I'm having a hard time not buying more but I need to stop! There's so many cool companies out there making really great natural stuff, it's very tempting.  Also tempting to start making my own! There's also this website that has all the best stuff and it's based in Toronto so the shipping is cheap and quick.  I ordered some shampoo and conditioner from them (shhh) and it arrived the next day!

I hope this has been helpful...I'm always searching for advice on what to buy so maybe you are too.   Check out No More Dirty Looks Blog for more advice on clean beauty.  I love those ladies way too much.

Next up on the wellness posts will be my adventures in skin care found in my very own kitchen cupboards so stay tuned!

Lots of love,
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Good Eats: Braised Lamb Shanks with Spiced Butternut Squash

The dinner I made last night was so good that I had to share it with you immediately! I'm still thinking about it and I so badly wish there were leftovers for lunch!  My Mom and Dad sent me the best care package ever a few weeks ago filled with locally raised organic meats from Niagara and with it came a couple shanks of lamb straight from the family farm.  Dad's lamb does have a reputation as being THE BEST so I wasn't too surprised to find the statement to be completely true once I had it... This recipe was delicious and pretty darn healthy had I not ate enough of it to feed a small family… : )

Here's the recipe.  Inspired by this one:

What you'll need:
7 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
A couple good glugs of olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 lamb shanks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4″ dice
1 medium onion, diced
1 can tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
1 cup robust red wine (i used Organic Fusion)
2 cups beef stock
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 butternut squash on the large side
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

What to do:
-Preheat the oven to 375 F.
-Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook the shallots, stirring frequently, until they are soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
-Heat another glug of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb shanks for 2 to 3 minutes per side; Remove to a plate and set aside.
-Reduce the heat to medium and cook the carrot and onion, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, wine, beef stock, salt and pepper; add the rosemary and thyme and return the lamb shanks and shallots to the pot.
-Cover the pan with two layers of foil and put in the oven at 375 for 2 hours.
-While the lamb is braising cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and lay flat in a baking dish with a tiny bit of water and cook for 45 minutes.
-Once cooked, scrape the flesh of the squash into a pot,  add 1 tbsp butter and spices mash until smooth. Keep warm until the lamb is ready.
-Take out the lamb. Using a fork, shred the meat away from the bones and discard the bones. Remove the thyme sprigs from the liquid in the pan and ladle enough of the sauce over the lamb to moisten it.
-Divide the squash between plates and spoon the lamb, with any extra sauce if desired, over the top and serve.
I also served this with a Marinated Fig Salad which was also amazing… I was really on my game last night. 

All I can say is that a happy lamb must make for a tasty one! You can check out how well these lambs are cared for over at The Farmer's Blog.

Thanks for reading!

Love Desiree Pin It

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Inspire Me Thursday

Hello lovelies...hope you're having a good week... I won't lie to you...I'm struggling.. It's gloomy and damp and I feel like I'm coming down with a cold.. BOO!  

Here's some inspirations for the week....:)

And a few from the archives....

This weekend I'm getting into some serious DIY beauty projects... I'm excited to share with you some of my discoveries! 

Happy weekend and don't forget to SPRING AHEAD on Sunday!

Thanks for reading...
Love Desiree
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