Candy Cane Foot Soak

I count myself lucky that I don’t have to hit the malls at Christmastime to shop for gifts. To be fair, I do contend with my fair share of shopping centre parking insanity (thanks to my gym being in the mall itself) but I’m not waiting in lines, bags and boxes in hand, anxiously watching the seconds left to wrap and tag my purchases slip away while crotchety so-and-so in front of me tried to price-match her blender (not that I’m speaking from experience, of course…).Instead, I can quietly slip in and out of a secondary entrance and save my energy for when I get home to the endless gift boxes I give as gifts in lieu of purchased trinkets.

Candy Cane Foot Soak

Whether we’re spending the holiday week (or so) trekking the markets for the latest toys or gadgets for those on your list, in the kitchen cooking up batches of cookies, tarts, muffins, freezer meals and cakes, or hitting the gym because we finally have a few moments to ourselves (what?) our poor feet definitely take a beating this time of year. Throw in the high heels from holiday and New Years parties, stray bits of Lego, beads and bells underfoot and the occasional runaway ornament, and our soles will be beyond done come January 2. While we can’t always prevent tired tootsies this season, luckily it’s beyond easy to whip up a big batch of this sweet, minty, relaxing and detoxifying Candy Cane Foot Soak and keep it in the bathroom cabinet for whenever the need arises. If you’re feeling particularly Saint Nick-like, pass along a jar to a shopping buddy. That way, you’ll be ready to hit the Boxing Day sales (or the Resolution Rush at the gym) and your toes will smell fabulous too!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Candy Cane Foot Soak
Makes ~6 cups
4 cups Epsom salt
1 cup coarse sea salt
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tbsp pure peppermint extract
leaves from 1 peppermint tea bag (I used Candy Cane Lane Green Tea)
1 tsp red food coloring

  1. Place half the salt, sugar and peppermint extract in one bowl, mixing well to disperse extract. Set aside.
  2. Place remaining salt, sugar, peppermint extract, peppermint tea leaves and food colouring in another bowl, mixing well to disperse colouring, extract and tea.
  3. Layer scoops of coloured and white salt mixture in jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place.

To use:

  • Add 2 tbsp to a foot bath or basin of warm water and soak your tired feet for 10-30 minutes. Dry well and moisturize.

Gluten Free Playdough

Today I have my first of many teaching exams,which is comprised of creating an activity and “teaching” it to one of my instructors. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Montessori method, the learning is experienced through the use of “materials” (like sandpaper letters or the infamous Pink Tower) across a variety of subject areas (such as Practical Life, which this exam was for). I came up with something that was only natural for me as a bakeaholic – rolling out and cutting “cookie dough”! Of course, the “dough” had to be reusable, long lasting and safe for kids, so I broke out my inner child and made my own playdough.

GF PlaydoughWe were a homemade playdough family growing up. My sister and I would beg my mom to break out the saucepan and cream of tartar at least once a month so we could have a fresh batch in a new colour to play with. My favourite part was handling the barely cooled dough – for some reason I had (and still have) a super-high tolerance for heat. Good training for falling in love with cooking, I guess! I definitely wanted to make my own playdough for this exam – partially because it is a lot cheaper to make your own and so that I could have a version that was wheat free and so wouldn’t irritate my skin when I was handling it. Commercial Play-Doh is made with standard wheat flour, and while you can find Gluten Free Playdough on Amazon, it’s not exactly an easy to get, inexpensive plaything.
Red and Blue
I scouted around for a recipe that used what I had on hand (with the exception of Cream of Tartar, which I knew I’d have to get) and found what looked like a winner on Celiac Family. It’s almost on a par with my mom’s recipe in terms of ease and convenience – I mean, what grocery store doesn’t have cornstarch, and most even have rice flour these days. What I did find as I was making the mixture was that it needed a lot more cornstarch to come together, but luckily it’s easily fixed (and when I added a bit too much on that end, a drizzle of water made a perfect “dough”). I would suggest making it at least a few hours before really “playing” with it, since while it’s sticky in a warm state after being wrapped and left to sit a little bit the liquid distributes more evenly and it’s more user friendly.

Stained

Now, I’m sure you are way smarter than I was and realize that if you want tinted dough (I highly recommend using a paste or gel colouring so you don’t liquefy your dough), you will need to knead it in while wearing gloves. Well, unless you don’t mind looking like the Purple People Eater (I did red and blue) or worse, like you have gangrene all over your hands and nails!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

Gluten Free Playdough
Makes about 3 cups
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup cornstarch
½ cup salt
1 tbsp cream of tartar
1 ½ tbsp canola oil
1 cup + 2 tbsp hot water
gel food colouring as desired

Too Tired to Cook

I can’t seem to shake this drowsy, dopey feeling I’ve had since yesterday, so I’m opting too not use any sort of implements that could catch fire to anything today! Instead I’ll pass on some awesome recipes for things you can’t eat, but that are super-easy to make. These colognes are so yummy-smelling, and I have to say that in a decorated glass vial they are a beautiful gift! I’m going to be making these for Christmas gifts, and since they take about 5 weeks to “marinate” I’ll just make sure I store some of my garden’s herbs!

I can’t even decide which of the two scents I’m making are my favourite, since I’m very “bi-polar” when it comes to things like jewelry and scent! Andrew will tell you that anytime – I’m either very bohemian with wood, beads and natural, “hippie” clothing all the way, or I’m classic, refined and simple with very little (if any) in the way of jewelry or adornment. I call it flexibility, he calls it impossible! Either way, these are two very different but equally natural scents that are a treat for anyone.

What’s your favourite smell? A perfume? A baking loaf of bread? A savoury, simmering stew or roasting chicken? Or even something as simple as the pages of an old, cherished book? Feel free to let me know in the comment field!

Earth Element Cologne
Makes 2 cups worth
A spicy and “grounding”, let lightweight scent that blends comforting vanilla, spices and bay leaves for an exotic, alluring aroma.
1 whole vanilla bean, scored
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 tbsp grated orange zest
5 bay leaves
2 cups plain vodka

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar.
  2. Cover and shake well, then leave for 4-5 weeks. Shake daily.
  3. Strain and bottle for gifts, or keep all to yourself!

Water Garden Cologne
Makes about 2 cups
Wonderful for those Summer days, or when you want to have a fresh aroma without smelling “perfumey”. The mint helps cool you off while the lime zest and lavender add a subtle fragrance.
Grated zest of 2 limes
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 cup lavender flowers (dried or fresh)
1 cup fresh peppermint leaves, torn
2 cups plain vodka

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar.
  2. Shake well, cover and store 5 weeks, shaking daily.
  3. Strain and bottle

A question on the topic of citrus – has anyone noticed a lack of bottled lemon juice in the stores lately? Andrew just stopped by drop off the last two bottles of the stuff that he could find anywhere in the Durham region! The shelves are wiped clean, and I go through about 2 bottles a week (I like my tea)! What gives? If anyone knows why that is can you please drop me a comment? I’d love to know.

Too Tired to Cook

I can’t seem to shake this drowsy, dopey feeling I’ve had since yesterday, so I’m opting too not use any sort of implements that could catch fire to anything today! Instead I’ll pass on some awesome recipes for things you can’t eat, but that are super-easy to make. These colognes are so yummy-smelling, and I have to say that in a decorated glass vial they are a beautiful gift! I’m going to be making these for Christmas gifts, and since they take about 5 weeks to “marinate” I’ll just make sure I store some of my garden’s herbs!

I can’t even decide which of the two scents I’m making are my favourite, since I’m very “bi-polar” when it comes to things like jewelry and scent! Andrew will tell you that anytime – I’m either very bohemian with wood, beads and natural, “hippie” clothing all the way, or I’m classic, refined and simple with very little (if any) in the way of jewelry or adornment. I call it flexibility, he calls it impossible! Either way, these are two very different but equally natural scents that are a treat for anyone.

What’s your favourite smell? A perfume? A baking loaf of bread? A savoury, simmering stew or roasting chicken? Or even something as simple as the pages of an old, cherished book? Feel free to let me know in the comment field!

Earth Element Cologne
Makes 2 cups worth
A spicy and “grounding”, let lightweight scent that blends comforting vanilla, spices and bay leaves for an exotic, alluring aroma.
1 whole vanilla bean, scored
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 tbsp grated orange zest
5 bay leaves
2 cups plain vodka

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar.
  2. Cover and shake well, then leave for 4-5 weeks. Shake daily.
  3. Strain and bottle for gifts, or keep all to yourself!

Water Garden Cologne
Makes about 2 cups
Wonderful for those Summer days, or when you want to have a fresh aroma without smelling “perfumey”. The mint helps cool you off while the lime zest and lavender add a subtle fragrance.
Grated zest of 2 limes
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 cup lavender flowers (dried or fresh)
1 cup fresh peppermint leaves, torn
2 cups plain vodka

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar.
  2. Shake well, cover and store 5 weeks, shaking daily.
  3. Strain and bottle

A question on the topic of citrus – has anyone noticed a lack of bottled lemon juice in the stores lately? Andrew just stopped by drop off the last two bottles of the stuff that he could find anywhere in the Durham region! The shelves are wiped clean, and I go through about 2 bottles a week (I like my tea)! What gives? If anyone knows why that is can you please drop me a comment? I’d love to know.