Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Summer Garden Facial Cleansing Bar (for any time of year)


This is what friends do, they tell each other about neat stuff they find... like a shoe sale, a cool band, or a great recipe. Well, I've been remiss in telling you about the Cleansing Bars I made from LisaLise Natural Skin Care. Please forgive me! Lise's blog is full of recipes for making all sorts of your own natural skin care and cosmetics at home, but it was her soap-less facial cleansing bars that were on my mind (and my to-do list) for a long time. I knew I wanted to make one, it just took me a while to get around to it. 

Curious about cleansing bars.
If you're unfamiliar with the idea of a Cleansing Bar, it's a semi-solid blend of butters, oils, clays and more, that cleanse and moisturize your face in one easy step. Absolutely brilliant, right? ...but I didn't need another face cleansing method. After all, I was content with what I'd been using.

If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
I am the type of person that will happily stick with something for a long long time... so long as everything is running smoothly. I've been using the Oil Cleansing Method for quite a few years now and couldn't be happier with it. Occasionally I will do a honey-wash, just to change things up, but then it's right back to the OCM. It works great for me, but....

Change when there is a need.
The one thing that the OCM doesn't do is exfoliate, and whenever my face is in Seasonal Transition Mode, it can get dry and flaky (or apparently worse). That's when I need some mild exfoliation and a heavy dose of moisturization. Rather than adding another step to my routine, Lise's Cleansing Bars are a one-step wonder: they cleanse, gently exfoliate, and moisturize.

Late last fall, I finally made Lise's Rose Clay & Oat Cleansing Bar. A version of it anyway. A few ingredient substitutions were necessary (only because once I had decided to make it, I wanted to make it right away... no time to stop and shop first). The result? I absolutely loved it!

I call my version "Summer Garden" because the lavender and rose remind me of just that...  even though they're dried and you can make this (and use it) at any time of year...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Carrot Cake for People Who Don't Like Carrot Cake

I know I promised you Cleansing Bars in my last post, but I just made this cake again and realized that I hadn't blogged about it yet. I forget sometimes that I've been a little absent around here for the last couple years. I'm working on that though.

So, on to the cake. I've actually made this cake at least four times, maybe five, in the past two years... and it has, along the way, become my "go-to" cake. The kind of cake that still turns out and tastes great even when you are sure you've blown it somehow. I like that kind of cake. I like it a lot. And more importantly, everyone who's tasted it seems to like it a lot too.

Some people don't like carrot cakes, probably because they tend to be quite dense, rich, and are packed heavily with carrots, nuts, and raisins. I quite like those cakes actually. But this cake... this cake might make converts of the carrot-cake-hating folks. This one is light, flavorful, not too sweet, and there isn't a walnut or raisin to be found within it's sweet confines.

The frosting I like to use with this cake is good and easy, maple-y sweet, and can optionally be loaded with chopped walnuts or pecans. Just don't do what I did the other day and try to use YouTube-inspired DIY powdered-sugar in your frosting. Just don't. Please promise me you won't.

I'm giving links to the recipes here because I didn't change a dang thing in either of them. They are perfect as is (and I am grateful to these ladies for sharing these tasty treats with us)!

Sigrid's Carrot Cake
by Ree Drummond on Food Network
...and also on page 110-111 of The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year Of Holidays 

Maple Pecan Frosting from Darla at her sweet blog Bakingdom
The frosting with the carrot cake recipe is very similar to this one but calls for cream cheese which I don't always have on hand. Also, I think the maple in this frosting tastes really really good with this particular cake!

...a coffee-flavored icing might be nice too.... hmm...

Note: The recipe for calls for baking this cake in a Bundt pan but you can do it in classic layers, sheet pan or muffin tin even. If you use any other shaped pan, just be aware of the baking time and check it before you think it'll be done. A shallower pan will take less time to bake than a Bundt; so will cupcakes.