Tag: DIY

Classic Cocktails: Dirty Martini & Cosmopolitan

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Since the holidays are now in full swing, I wanted to share some basic cocktail recipes with you. I mean, until now, I don’t believe I ever really knew how to properly prepare either of these. Maybe I’m behind in my mixology and cocktail knowledge, but c’est la vie. So, I went into the kitchen trying to figure out the best recipes for two of the most classic cocktails — the Dirty Martini and the Cosmopolitan. I rarely drink hard liquor because I’m ALWAYS drinking wine, so this was a fun exercise for me. I should forewarn you, though, cocktail trial and error can be both fun and intoxicating. I’m glad my boyfriend was there to “supervise” my foray into mixology because by the end of “Dirty Martini Night No.1” experiment, I was spilling olive brine everywhere and chasing rolling olives to prevent the dogs from grabbing them. 😉

Here’s what I learned:

  • Start with quality ingredients
  • Savory cocktails need “rest” time just like sauces and meats
  • Shaken vs. Stirred does matter in the overall mouth feel of the drink, depending on the ingredients (i.e. sweet v. savory) Stir the savory, shake the sweet.
  • Serve it “up” (without ice) in a martini or stemmed glass to keep your hands away from heating it as you sip it
  • We should all get dressed up like it’s the 1950’s, sip martinis, and chat with friends

I shall leave you with two of my favorite martini recipes. I promise I tried and tested proportions for a week to the point that I have no more Vodka left. 🙁

Dirty MartiniWith the dirty martini, I added blue cheese stuffed olives for a little extra flair. You can purchase them at the store or simply mix blue cheese, a little cream cheese, salt and pepper in a Ziploc bag. Mix ingredients by kneading them around in the bag, and then smush all the cheese down into one corner of the bag. Cut of the tip of the corner and fill your olives with the mixture as if you were frosting a cake.

Cosmo

I used Triple Sec here. You can also use Cointreau. Grand Marnier is another option, but I’d avoid it in a Cosmo because it’s heavier than the other two, and this cocktail is meant to be light and airy. Also, the absolute key to this cocktail is the freshly squeezed lime juice. You can use the bottled kind, but it doesn’t taste nearly as nice. All in all, having this Cosmopolitan made me feel like Carrie Bradshaw for just one minute. It’s like a pillow of sweet fresh joy. It barely tastes like there’s alcohol in it, so be careful!!

If you like these recipes, please leave a comment below so I can do more if you’re interested. Hope you all have a very happy and safe holiday season! Don’t drink and drive. Get an Uber, a Taxi, or a sober friend!

xx,

Candice

 

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DIY Brightening Face Masks

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Hello! We are back with part 3 of 6 of the DIY face mask series, and today it’s all about brightening. I love brightening masks because over time they aid in evening out skin tone, lightening dark spots, and giving skin an all over glow. Just as in the other posts, you’ll find masks for sensitive skin, normal skin, and oily skin. But don’t forget, if you are allergic to any of these ingredients when ingested, then you will also be allergic to them topically. If you aren’t sure, do a small test patch for 15 minutes to be certain! So, let’s get to it!

Sensitive Basil

Ingredients

  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Muddle basil in the squeezed lemon juice like you would in a cocktail. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle (which I don’t), use the end of a spatula or wooden spoon. Apply the mixture to the skin and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.

Benefits

  • Basil — Basil is great on the eye area as it aids in reducing inflammation, prevents infections, and soothes stress-induced fine lines. It also helps to prevent the appearance of blackheads, and improves skin’s appearance by evening out skin tone.
  • Lemon Juice — Filled with citric acid (an alpha-hydroxy acid), lemon juice serves to lighten skin while simultaneously exfoliating the top layer. Interestingly, lemon juice works in the same way a low-level chemical peel does. Plus, it has Vitamin C, which serves to aid in reversing damage from free radicals to improve tone and texture.
Tip: If you have super dry skin, add a tablespoon of honey to this recipe to combat any dryness the lemon juice may cause!

sensitive papaya

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup pureed papaya
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Directions

Cut papaya in cubes, and pulse in a blender or food processor for a few seconds until it’s almost the consistency of a puree. Combine papaya, honey, and grapefruit juice. Apply to skin for 15 minutes. Remove with warm water.

Benefits

  • Pink Grapefruit — Like lemon juice, pink grapefruit has loads of Vitamin C and citric acid, which are both great ingredients for skin brightening and helping with collagen production. (We need healthy collagen production to keep skin looking plump and youthful.) But grapefruit also contains lycopene which is an amazing antioxidant (also why the fruit generally has such bright color). Lycopene improves cellular functions in skin cells on a DNA level which means that the body doesn’t need to use its internal repair system! Lycopene helps protect from overexposure to UV light (naturally has an SPF of 3! How cool!) and aids in blocking the enzymes that break down your collagen supply.
  • Papaya — Also a great source of lycopene, papaya contains the enzyme called papain, which helps heal skin by removing dead skin cells without harming healthy skin cells/tissue, which gives skin a healthy glow while improving texture. It also contains Vitamin A (an alpha-hydroxyl acid for exfoliation) and has a “low sodium content” which means it helps skin retain moisture. If you are most concerned with brightening/whitening of skin or pigmentation spots, be sure to choose a green (unripe) papaya because it has more papain than ripe ones.
  • Honey — Honey naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and packed with antioxidants, so it is fabulous for moisturizing as it opens up pores to help unclog tired or angry pores. It’s also  a natural humectant, it helps the skin to attract and retain moisture. Honey is great for sensitive or oily skin, so for this recipe, it helps to balance out any potential dryness caused by the citric acid in grapefruit.

Substitutions — you can substitute papaya with cooked and cooled tomatoes, watermelon, cooked and cooled asparagus, mango, or carrots (but as you progress through this list of substitutions, the amount of lycopene drops).

Normal Kiwi

Ingredients

  •  2 slices kiwi, peeled & muddled/mashed
  • 1/4 avocado, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Directions

Peel and slice kiwi, place in bowl. Peel and slice ripe avocado, place in bowl. Mash and/or muddle kiwi and avocado together. Add in fresh squeezed orange juice and mix thoroughly. Apply to skin for 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Benefits

  • Kiwi — Kiwi is a lovely skincare ingredient because it does so many things. With the Vitamin C, it helps brighten skin and aid in collagen production to keep skin looking youthful. It also contains high concentrations of Vitamin E, which is great for hydration and helps natural regeneration of cells. Kiwi also has Omega-3 fatty acids that are wonderful in decreasing inflammation and reducing the risk of acne occurrences. Also, when kiwi is mixed with a citric acid (like orange, lemon, or grapefruit juice), it will control any excess sebum/oil production on the skin. It’s also high in amino acids, which help fight harmful sun exposure, thus preventing sun damage. Kiwi contains enzymes that help exfoliation of dead skin cells. Last, but certainly not least (I could go on and on about kiwi), its like a transporter of nutrients, so it basically functions as a conduit for nutrients to the dermal layers of your skin (and it’s generally pretty difficult for anything topical to reach those layers).
  • Avocado — loaded with monosaturated fatty acids for moisturizing, nourishing, softening, regenerating damaged skin cells, and reducing irritation
  • Fresh Orange Juice — oranges have massive amounts of Vitamin C, which helps to brighten your complexion, fade dark spots, and bring a general glow to the skin.

Oily

Ingredients

  •  2 tablespoons fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 banana, mashed or pureed
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Mash or puree banana. Mix pureed banana with honey and grapefruit juice. Apply to skin and leave on for 10-15 minutes

Benefits

  • Pink Grapefruit — Like lemon juice, pink grapefruit has loads of Vitamin C and citric acid, which are both great ingredients for skin brightening and helping with collagen production. (We need healthy collagen production to keep skin looking plump and youthful.) But grapefruit also contains lycopene which is an amazing antioxidant (also why the fruit generally has such bright color). Lycopene improves cellular functions in skin cells on a DNA level which means that the body doesn’t need to use its internal repair system! Lycopene helps protect from overexposure to UV light (naturally has an SPF of 3! How cool!) and aids in blocking the enzymes that break down your collagen supply.
  • Banana — Bananas are high in Vitamins A, B, C, and E, so they are great for hydrating, brightening, and exfoliating. They are also great at reducing inflammation and itching. High concentrations of manganese protect the skin from damage of free radicals, and the Vitamin B6 helps in keeping skin’s elasticity in check. Vitamin A keeps skin look bright as it helps combat dull sallow skin, and of course, the Vitamin C helps to brighten!
  • Honey — Honey naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and packed with antioxidants, so it is fabulous for moisturizing as it opens up pores to help unclog tired or angry pores. It’s also  a natural humectant, it helps the skin to attract and retain moisture. Honey is great for sensitive or oily skin, so for this recipe, it helps to balance out any potential dryness caused by the citric acid in grapefruit.

That concludes the brightening episode! Please let me know if you try any of these, and which ones you’ve liked best so far!

Stay Glittery, Beauties!

xoxo,

Candice

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DIY Exfoliating Face Masks

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Welcome back to the DIY Face Mask series. This installment will cover exfoliation, which is an important part of any skincare routine to remove dead skin cells and increase natural cell turnover. Proper exfoliation helps ward off blackheads and blemishes, as well as reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. As with all of these recipes, know your skin! if you are allergic to any of these ingredients when ingested, you will be allergic to them topically. If you are uncertain, do a small test patch for 15 minutes to be sure! Happy Exfoliating!

DIY Sensitive exfoliating

Ingredients

  • 5 drops lavender oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Mix all ingredients together fully. The consistency of this will be more liquid than a paste. Massage into skin gently for sixty seconds. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse off residue with warm water.

Benefits

  • Lavender Oil — never apply essential oils directly to skin without a carrier oil (i.e. olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc.); when used topically, lavender oil helps to decrease inflammation, kills bacteria, reduces scarring, soothes pain or irritation, cleanses skin, and helps prevent acne.
  • Brown Sugar — brown sugar is a great gentle exfoliant that contains glycolic acid (natural alpha hydroxyacid aiding in cell turnover) that slows the aging process; also helps with sunspots; brown sugar is also a natural humectant, which means it deposits moisture into the skin and protects skin from toxins
  • Raw Honey — naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and packed with antioxidants, honey helps unclog tired or angry pores, and as a natural humectant helps retain good moisture; in this recipe it is a booster for the exfoliating ingredients
  • Olive Oil — filled with Vitamin A and Vitamin E, olive oil is a great moisturizer and environmental damage preventive; it penetrates deep into pores, so when combined with an exfoliating agent (here: brown sugar) it allows deep and thorough cleansing of bacteria, dead skin cells, and unnecessary oil; helps reduce the signs of aging leaving skin plump and glowing

Tip: This exfoliating mask works very well as a body scrub too. Just multiply the recipe accordingly. I gave these out as Christmas gifts and put them in small 8 oz jars, which allowed me to multiply the recipe times 

DIY Exfoliating sensitive 2

 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coffee grounds (you can use dry or used; I prefer used because they contain more antioxidants)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions

Mix ingredients together fully. The consistency will be quite oily. Scoop out of container used for mixing and massage into skin for 60 seconds. Let sit on skin for another 60 seconds. Rinse off with warm water.

Benefits

  • Coffee Grounds — filled with antioxidants, coffee grounds are great for gentle exfoliation, making the skin appear younger, and aid in reducing the size of pores, while the caffeine helps to reduce inflammation
  • Olive Oil — filled with Vitamin A and Vitamin E, olive oil is a great moisturizer and environmental damage preventive; it penetrates deep into pores, so when combined with an exfoliating agent (here: coffee grounds) it allows deep and thorough cleansing of bacteria, dead skin cells, and unnecessary oil; helps reduce the signs of aging leaving skin plump and glowing

Tip: This can also be used as a body scrub, because coffee also helps to temporarily reduce stretch marks (for about 3-4 hours), which is great for a date night or a beach afternoon.

Normal (2)

 

Ingredients

  • 1/8 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Water until it forms a paste

Directions

Mix Greek yogurt and baking soda together, adding in water as necessary until it forms a gooey paste. Massage into skin for 30 seconds, and rinse with warm water.

Benefits

  • Greek Yogurt — loaded with natural lactic acid (an alphahydroxy acid), Greek yogurt helps to exfoliate, rejuvenate, and aid in preventing wrinkles
  • Baking Soda — good as a gentle exfoliant and contains antiseptic properties, but there is a lot of information out there as to whether baking soda is good or bad for the skin because of its alkalinity. Compare these two articles: for baking soda and against baking soda if you’re interested in what people are saying. I’ve used it, but I’m no scientist, and I want to ensure you have all the information to make your own skincare decisions. That said, you can always substitute brown sugar in this recipe.

DIY exfoliating Oily

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cucumber, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Drections

Blend ingredients together in a blender. Scoop out mixture and massage into skin for 60 seconds. Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove with warm water.

Benefits

  • Oatmeal — oatmeal is widely used as a gentle exfoliator with skin calming benefits and is one of the few skicnare ingredients given great rank by the U.S. FDA; great for moisturizing and exfoliating, oatmeal is also known for its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties; it helps to restore the skin’s normal pH levels and soothes irritated skin
  • Agave Nectar — very similar to raw honey, agave nectar has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, it also helps to brighten skin and remove pigmentation spots
  • Cucumber — known for its calming and soothing properties, cucumber reduces inflammation and because it’s high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin A it will help fight dark circles and hyper pigmentation; the B-5 in cucumbers aids in moisture retention while the silica aids in fighting wrinkles because strengthens connective tissues
  • Fresh Lemon Juice –contains loads of citric acid and Vitamin C, which is great for toning, evening out dark spots, and aids in controlling unnecessary oil; lemon juice is a natural exfoliant and helps target and prevent acne

That concludes the exfoliating installment! If you haven’t already, check out the hydrating installment here! Please let me know if you try any of these! If you have any exfoliating DIY skincare recipes, put them in the comments below! Next up in this series, we will have a look at DIY recipes to target brightening the skin to make it appear glowing!

Stay Glittery, Beauties!

xoxo,

Candice

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DIY Hydrating Face Masks

 

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Welcome to the DIY Face Mask Series! All of the masks you will see in this series use ingredients straight from your kitchen or pantry, and they are all super easy to make! This series will include 6 posts on different DIY masks to achieve different results — hydrating, exfoliating, brightening, pore-clearing, calming, and aging. Further, each will feature recipes for each skin type, so there will be something for everyone in this series! (Can you tell I’m excited about this one!?)

I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes with you. First, know your limitations and allergies. If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients when you eat them, you will have a reaction on your skin too. If you aren’t sure, do a small test patch on your hand or wrist before applying. I should note that I have dry sensitive skin, so my repertoire is going to be a little fuller in those areas. Plus, the sensitive skin masks will be safe for all skin types. In fact, most of these are great for any skin type, so feel free to experiment. Due to the nature of the ingredients, they are all more sensitive than chemically-driven face masks.

Keep in mind that many of these natural ingredients serve many different functions in skincare, so feel free to mix and match as you think it suits your needs. For each mask, there will be a recipe plus the reason each ingredient was included.

So, let’s get started!!

Sensitive skin avocado greek yogurt lemon

Ingredients

  • 1/4 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 2 tsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions 

Mix all ingredients into a creamy paste. You want the consistency to be something that will smooth onto the face like a thick cream. Apply to face and let sit for 15 minutes.Rinse off with warm water.

Benefits

  • Avocado — loaded with monosaturated fatty acids for moisturizing, nourishing, softening, regenerating damaged skin cells, and reducing irritation
  • Greek yogurt — loaded with natural lactic acid (an alphahydroxy acid) which helps exfoliate, rejuvenate, and aid in preventing wrinkles
  • Lemon Juice — contains loads of citric acid and Vitamin C, which is great for toning, evening out dark spots, and aids in controlling unnecessary oil (be careful, don’t use too much lemon juice in this recipe, too much can be drying, so start with a small amount and if you need more, you can add it later)

Sensitive skin avocado banana honey

Ingredients

  • 1/4 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 banana mashed
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. The consistency should be that of a very thick creamy-paste. Apply to skin for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.

Benefits

  • Avocado — loaded with monosaturated fatty acids for moisturizing, nourishing, softening, regenerating damaged skin cells, and reducing irritation
  • Banana — filled with loads of Vitamins C and B6, it deposits necessary minerals into the skin for rejuvenation, and because bananas are 75% water, they are great for hydrating the skin to prevent drying and peeling
  • Raw Honey — naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and packed with antioxidants, honey is fabulous for moisturizing as it opens up pores to help unclog tired or angry pores, but because it is a natural humectant, it helps the skin to attract and retain moisture

Normal skin

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup steamed and mashed carrots
  • 1/4 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1/4 cup raw honey

Directions

Boil or steam carrots. (I prefer steaming so it doesn’t eliminate all the nutrients through heat). Mash carrots and allow them to cool. (Tip: on a night you’re cooking steamed carrots for dinner, reserve enough for your facemask and keep it in the refrigerator).

Mix all ingredients together well. This one is going to be thick and somewhat goopy in its consistency. Apply to face for 15 minutes. Massage as you rinse off with warm water. Wash face well to ensure egg yolk doesn’t stay on the face. You’ll know it’s time to take this one off when the egg dries to the point your face becomes tight when you smile.

Benefits

  • Carrots — rich in several vitamins and minerals, the potassium in carrots can lead to replenishing skin’s natural moisture, and the high content of Vitamin A helps to heal skin conditions (i.e. rashes, dermatitis, etc caused by Vitamin A deficiencies)
  • Avocado — loaded with monosaturated fatty acids for moisturizing, nourishing, softening, regenerating damaged skin cells, and reducing irritation
  • Egg Yolk — contains Vitamin B3 which boots circulation in the skin making it appear healthier; also helps to treat breakouts
  • Lemon Juice — contains loads of citric acid and Vitamin C, which is great for toning, evening out dark spots, and aids in controlling unnecessary oil (be careful, don’t use too much lemon juice in this recipe, too much can be drying, so start with a small amount and if you need more, you can add it later)
  • Raw Honey — naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and packed with antioxidants, honey is fabulous for moisturizing as it opens up pores to help unclog tired or angry pores, but because it is a natural humectant, it helps the skin to attract and retain moisture

Oily skin

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice

Directions

Place coconut oil jar in a sink or bowl filled with very warm water for 5 minutes to liquefy. Combine liquefied coconut oil and fresh squeezed orange juice. Massage into skin. Leave on for 20-30 minutes. Gently remove using warm wet washcloth.

Benefits

  • Coconut Oil — You may be concerned that oil on oily skin is NOT OK! Don’t worry, coconut oil is great on oily skin because it’s anti-fungal, antimicrobial, and actually works to pull out the bad oil production from oily skin. This helps balance oily skin while infusing naturally necessary moisture to the skin cells. Think of it this way — with natural oils, it’s Like Attracts Like! So, coconut oil on oily skin is really quite fabulous! I could go on and on about coconut oil, but I won’t! If you’re interested in all the ways coconut oil is great for skin, check out my previous post on the 8 Beauty Uses for Coconut Oil for more detailed information.
  • Orange Juice — oranges have massive amounts of Vitamin C, which helps to brighten your complexion, fade dark spots, and bring a general glow to the skin.

That concludes the hydration episode! Next up is exfoliation, and I’ve got some fun ones for you! Please let me know if you try any of these. If you have a great DIY hydrating face mask, PLEASE leave it in the comments below! I want to try the ones that are working for you!

Stay Glittery, Beauties!

xoxo,

Candice

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Constructing the Perfect Cheese Plate

constructing the perfect cheese plate

We all love a good cheese plate, and I make them often for dinner parties or when guests come to visit. Here are some tips on constructing the perfect cheese plate! First, determine how many people you will be serving and whether your cheese plate will be an appetizer or an addition with after-dinner aperitifs. If its an appetizer, you’ll need about 1 oz. of cheese per person/couple. If the latter, then you can go a lighter on the amount because people will have eaten.

cheese and wine
Saint Andre Brie, Cabot Cheddar, Blue cheese, Soppressata, and wafers.

 

Types of Cheese:

Now, you want to pick anywhere from 3-5 cheeses. Do not overdo it. You really don’t need as much as you think, so keep each cheese at around the 1 oz./person level. Next, these 3-5 cheeses should be diverse. And by diverse, I mean that the plate should include any of the following: fresh, semi-soft, soft-ripened, surface-ripened, semi-hard, hard, blue, and/or washed-rind. For those of you that now think I’m speaking a whole different language, I’m going to break it down.

  • Fresh, well it’s fresh, and will include the likes of cheeses that are ready to eat and require zero aging.
  • Semi-soft generally includes cheeses that are slightly aged.
  • Soft-ripened is where you are probably going to recognize what you’re looking for: this includes Brie, Camembert, and triple creams! (*!yummy!*).
  • Surface-ripened refers to the dryness or flakiness of the interior, and the molds are usually specific for aging.
  • Semi-hard cheeses are aged, but can range from hard to somewhat soft; think Gouda or Cheddar here.
  • Hard, is, of course, hard. This category is where you will get your grainy cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano; i.e. grate-able cheeses.
  • Blue, well, that’s self explanatory.
  • And, last, washed-rind has a visibly darker rind and a lighter interior. This category includes things like Muenster.

So now, that you know what your categorical choices are, let’s look at accompaniments.

cheeseplate
A cheese plate my friend Emily constructed for a girls night in included olive oil with herbs, bread, crackers, prosciutto, and an assortment of cheeses.

 

Accompaniments

Accompaniments are where you can really play and get creative. This, for me, is the fun part. Bring in any of the following:

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You can also make little cheese hors d’oeurves or amuse bouches to accompany your cheese plate.

 

  •  fig jam
  • quince
  • honey
  • pesto
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • pears
  • grapes
  • baguettes
  • raisin bread
  • crackers (different sizes, shapes, and grains)
  • vegetables/fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, and arugula are great here)
  • prosciutto and/or soppressata (or any charcuterie of your choosing)

If you’re worried, try your pairings at home first, and if you like them, then it’s game on! Pairing things, especially cheese, accompaniments, and wine, is something that should be fun and exploratory. Do not let anyone tell you that there are rigid rules. If they do, give them a big smile and respectfully disagree, or just hand them a cracker and tell them to eat. They will figure it out at some point (we hope!). For example, I stumbled upon a sample of artichoke pesto with fresh mozzarella on cracker at the grocery store, and loved it! The mozzarella helps to cut a little bit of the garlic in the pesto. Here’s where you can find that artichoke pesto, locally made in Louisiana by Geaux Gourmet, if you’re interested.

Here’s how my favorite cheese plate tends to look:

  1. Delice de Bourgogne – France, cow’s milk, triple cream, buttery, nutty, milky (Delicious with grapes! Also pairs great with fig jam, green apples, and almonds)
  2. Chevre – goat’s milk, creamy, and a little tart (pairs great with the fig jam, pears, and honey)
  3. Cheddar – English aged cheddar (nothing fancy, just some good cheddar)
  4. Manchego – Spain, sheep’s milk; slight hint of creaminess; nutty (pairs amazingly with quince)

Constructing the Plate:

You always want to situate your cheeses clockwise from mildest to softest. This means you would have a soft at 12 o’clock, semi-soft at 3 o’clock, hard at 6 o’clock, blue at 9 o’clock…you get the point. This makes for an easy progression on the palate.

cheese plate with labels

Sometimes you aren’t using a lazy-susan or a round plate, so in that case, get creative! You can use small decorative bowls to hold the accompaniments, and label them for the guests. Put flags on each cheese so your guests will know what they are choosing. On each flag, I usually suggest an accompaniment. For example, the Manchego flag usually says “Manchego: Spain. Pair me with Quince Sauce,” and with the Chevre, the flag says “Chevre: France. I love Fig Jam and Pears.” This way, you give your guests instructions, encourage them to try new things, and it’s a fun and interactive eating experience.

Afterall, dinner parties and similar gatherings all about trying new things, enjoying the food, and relishing in the company!

Bon Appetit! Be on the lookout for my next post where we pair wine with the cheeses featured in this post!

Here are a few additional resources, and are those which I consulted for this post:

http://laurawerlin.com/about-semi-soft-cheeses

http://www.foodandwine.com/creating-the-perfect-cheese-plate

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/food/perfect-cheese-platter-10000001580273/index.html

What are your favorite cheeses? Let’s chat about it!

Stay Glittery,

xoxo,

Candice

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Easy Customized Gift Wrap

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This is the simplest DIY project ever! And it’s perfect for the Christmas season! Customize your wrapping for the recipient with their favorite colors!

All you’ll need:
blank paper
paint
wine cork (you can also use a pencil eraser for smaller dots)

Let your creativity run wild! Just wrap the gift and then use the cork as a stamp, and let dry for an hour. Add ribbon. Voilá!

IMG_5766.JPG

If you create one, please tweet/tag me on social media! I want to see your creations!

Stay Glittery!

xoxo,
Candice

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8 Beauty Uses for Coconut Oil

coconut oillogo

I’m constantly raving about all the ways you can use coconut oil in your beauty regimen, so it’s about time I gave y’all a run down of all the ways I incorporate it. I’m certain there are many more ways to use coconut oil than I list here, so if you have more to offer, please leave them in the comments! I love learning new ways to use it!

Basic Coconut Oil Info:

Before we get into the uses, let’s talk a little bit about WHY coconut oil is so awesome. First, it occurs naturally and is made directly from the “meat” of a coconut. It contains medium chain fatty acids which are healthy fatty acids easily broken down by the body in digestion.  The active ingredient making coconut oil great for skin and hair is called lauric acid. Lauric acid is good stuff, and breast milk is the only other place where such high concentrations of lauric acid is found.

Lauric acid converts to monolaurin which is why coconut oil has antiviral, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal, and antifungal properties. This makes it great for use on cuts, scrapes, diaper rash, athletes foot, nail fungus, dandruff, ringworms, eczema, etc. In addition, for skincare purposes, coconut oil functions as an antioxidant which combats premature aging. (Skin naturally oxidizes the fats in skin cells, which is how it ages, and coconut oil fatty acids work to replace those fats.) Basically, the natural fatty acids in coconut oil are like food for your skin.

It comes in a solid form, so you do have to go through a few extra minutes to get it to liquefy. To do that, just place the jar in a sink full of hot water, and within minutes it’s liquefied. Once it cools again, it will return to its solidified state.

Coconut Oil -- solid in the jar
Coconut Oil — solid in the jar
Coconut Oil -- solid scooped out
Coconut Oil — solid scooped out

Now that you know some cool facts about coconut oil, let’s talk about the stuff you came here for….beauty!

1. SCALP & HAIR MASK

Because coconut oil is antifungal and dandruff is generally due to a fungus, the hair and scalp mask is fabulous! It’s also great for deep conditioning hair, leaving it smooth, soft and silky! Here’s how you do it:

  • Place your jar of coconut oil in a sink full of warm water to liquefy it.
  • Take a small amount of the oil and massage it into your scalp and hair.
  • Pin your hair up for 30 minutes (you can let it stay on longer, even overnight, but it’s oil so it will stain sheets and pillowcases, so prepare accordingly)
  • Shampoo out as normal.
This was a photo from earlier this week right after I did the hair + scalp treatment. All I did was blowdry it.
This was a photo from earlier this week right after I did the hair + scalp treatment. All I did was blowdry it.

2. BATH OIL ADDITIVE

Since coconut oil increases the lipid content in your skin, it’s a great addition to your bubble bath. I usually put about 1/4 cup of coconut oil in my night time bubble bath. It doesn’t leave your skin oily or greasy, either!

3. HOT OIL FACIAL TREATMENT

This is probably one of my favorite at-home facial things to do. Friends with oily skin, don’t worry!! It’s perfectly okay to put coconut oil on your face. “Like attracts like” so certain kinds of oils are actually good for oily skin to help rid the skin of bad oil and aid in balancing natural production of oil. So, here’s how you do it:

  • Place jar in a sink full of warm water to liquefy.
  • Remove makeup and wash your face as you normally would.
  • Coat your face in coconut oil.
  • Using a washcloth, wet it with the hottest water you can stand.
  • Drape the washcloth over your face to steam until it cools.
  • Repeat the previous step anywhere from 4-10 times.
  • Use the cloth to wipe your face clean.

This will deep clean your pores as well, and any residual makeup you missed in your regular cleansing will come off onto your washcloth.

4. EYE MAKEUP REMOVER

I make my own eye makeup remover using coconut oil and Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo with filtered water. You can find the full tutorial here.

5. BODY MOISTURIZER

When I have really dry skin in the winter, I put coconut oil on my entire body as a moisturizer. It’s great and seems to absorb fairly quickly. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to leave my skin oily or greasy as you might expect. I have friends who use it on their babies as a moisturizer, for diaper rash, and to treat eczema.

6. SHAVING CREAM

Because coconut oil is a natural moisturizer, it makes for a great shaving cream for women and men alike. It leaves a nice smooth finish post shave, conditions your hair follicles, and moisturizes your skin simultaneously!

7. SUNBURN HEALER

Coconut oil is a great way to feed sunburned skin to aid in the healing process. (Of course, you should always wear sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher!) You can put the oil directly onto sunburned skin or you can do this:

  • Wet a washcloth with Apple Cider Vinegar and rub lightly on the sunburn to help with stinging. (This part is a God-send.)
  • Follow up with coconut oil.

Easy, right!? I’ve noticed a drastic difference in healing sunburns using this process!

8. ANTISEPTIC/ANTIBACTERIAL FOR CUTS AND SCRAPES & ANTIFUNGAL FOR NAIL FUNGUS

Just apply coconut oil directly onto the cut, scrape, or nail at issue. The monolaurin contained in the lauric acid disrupts the lipid membranes of bacteria, viruses, and fungus thereby helping to destroy them.

I know there are thousands of other ways to use coconut oil. But I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about coconut oil and how I have learned to incorporate it into my beauty regimen.

Please let me know if you try any of these and how it worked out for you. If you’re on social media, tag me in your pics when you do one of these!

Stay Glittery, Beauties!

xoxo,

Candice

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Technique Tuesday: How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes Properly

Cleaning Brushes

I get asked this question a lot: How do I properly clean my makeup brushes and how often should I clean them?

First, you can spot clean in between uses with a brush cleaner. I generally use the Sephora or MAC one, depending on which one I have in stock at home.

However, you should clean your brushes thoroughly somewhere between once a week and once every two weeks depending on how much you use your brushes, how often you wear makeup, and how many different colors you use from day-to-day.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

1. Cleanser — I use Cetaphil, but I’ve used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (No More Tears) in the past. I find that Cetaphil is gentler on my skin and on the bristles of the brush so it works for me.

2. Tepid to warm water from your sink. Hot water IS NOT good for your brushes, as you risk melting the glue that holds the fibers of the brush together within the ferile.

3. Clean washcloth and Clean hand towel for drying.

OVERALL TIPS:

  • Always place the brush brush-side down when cleaning. You don’t want to risk getting water up under the bristles into the area of the brush where the glue holds the bristles and the brush together. (This is called the ferile.) And it’s the most delicate part of your brush, the part worth keeping in tact since you’ve spent hard earned money on these brushes.
  • When drying, you can invest in some brush covers for drying if you so choose. I don’t use them, but I’d like to order some soon. They are designed to hold the natural shape of your brush better than just lying flat to dry. You can find them here.

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1: Wet the brush with your water, under the sink. Make sure to get the entire brush nice and wet, and keep the brush facing down.

Step 1: Wet Brush
Step 1: Wet Brush

Step 2: Put a dollop of Cetaphil (or chosen cleanser) in the palm of your hand.

Cetaphil Cleanser. Available at Drugstores $5-13, sizes vary.
Cetaphil Cleanser. Available at Drugstores $5-13, sizes vary.

Step 3: Swirl your brush in the palm of your hand coating the brush with all the cleanser. Swirl until the bristles return to their normal color or you feel most of the old makeup is gone.

Step 3: Swirl Brush in Hand
Step 3: Swirl Brush in Hand
Step 3: Swirl Brush in palm.
Step 3: Swirl Brush in palm.

Step 4: Squeeze the soapy mixture out of the brush from root to tip.

Step 4: Squeeze soapy mixture out of brush from root to tip.
Step 4: Squeeze soapy mixture out of brush from root to tip.

Step 5: Rinse the brush until all cleanser and dirt is removed from the brush.

Brush Cleaning Step 5

Step 5: Rinse brush thoroughly.
Step 5: Rinse brush thoroughly.

REPEAT STEPS 2-4 AS NECESSARY

Step 6: Squeeze excess water out with a clean washcloth.

Step 6: Pat out excess water.
Step 6: Pat out excess water.
Step 6: Pat out excess water.
Step 6: Pat out excess water.

Step 7: Lie flat to dry overnight.

Step 7: Lie Flat to Dry
Step 7: Lie Flat to Dry

Hope you enjoyed Technique Tuesday! If you have any questions or comments, please let me know!

Stay Glittery,

xoxo,

Candice

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Technique Tuesday: How to Make Your Own Eye Makeup Remover

DIY Eye makeup remover

I feel like we all struggle to find the perfect eye makeup remover. For me, it can’t be too oily, leave a residue, and it must remove all makeup, including waterproof or long-lasting formulas. That’s quite a bit to live up to for any remover. I have tried many different DIY recipes, and this one is, by far, the best one I’ve found. It’s great for any skin type and doesn’t leave an oily residue behind.

Ingredients

Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil. $11 available at local grocery store or organic market.
Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil. $11 available at local grocery store or organic market.

1. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil (unrefined and expeller pressed) $11/jar.

  • You can find this stuff at your local grocery store or organic market. It’s normally in the olive oil/cooking oil section.
  • Coconut Oil is amazing stuff!! It serves many beauty uses, as it is very moisturizing for dry skin and conditions lashes and brows. This jar will last you a good 6-9 months, depending on how often you use the coconut oil. My first jar lasted me 7 months, and during that time, I made eye makeup remover two or three times, and used the jar for countless other beauty tricks.
Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo
Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo. $1.99 available at local drugstores.

2. Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. $1.99 -$2.50.

  • Available at any drugstore or grocery store
  • If you don’t use this stuff regularly (aka you don’t have kids), one full size will last you over 7 months if you are just using it for eye makeup remover recipes.

3. Filtered water. $1.50 or free.

  • Any filtered water of your choice will do. I use what I have on hand, which can be a bottle of water or water direct from my Brita filter.
Container of Your Choice
Container of Your Choice

4. A container for your mixture. I just use an old empty bottle from another eye makeup remover. Whatever you have, find, or buy will work.

Recipe/Instructions

1. Place closed jar of coconut oil in a bowl (or sink full) of hot water to melt it down into a liquid form. This only takes about 5 minutes, at most. So, I generally use this time to turn down the bed, light a candle, and pull my hair back.

2. Pour your liquified coconut oil into your container. I usually use what is close to a 1:1:1 ratio. So, I fill the container up a little more than 1/3 of the way.

3. Pour in the Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo. Same thing as  Step 2.

4. Fill the remainder of the container with filtered water.

5. Shake it up.

6. Pour on cotton pad, and lightly press against it against a closed eye for about 30 seconds. (This allows the coconut oil to penetrate the makeup, making it come off easier and with the least resistance on the skin.)

7. Repeat on the other eye.

Daily Use Tips:

Because the coconut oil will tend to go back to its more solidified state, so you will have to put your container in some warm water for a few minutes each night before use. Admittedly, sometimes this is inconvenient, but the alternative is a crappy eye makeup remover that you spend just as much time rubbing off your eye makeup as you did in this whole process, or not taking your eye makeup remover off at all. (NO NO!)

Hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know if you try it and how you like it!

Stay Glittery, Beauties!

xoxo,

Candice

 

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