Agave Oatmeal Moisturizing Face Mask

This mask might look a little more like breakfast than a face mask. Funny thing, it tastes a little like breakfast, too. It only has two ingredients, agave nectar and oatmeal. Oatmeal is one of my favorite skin care concoctions, it's moisturizing, calming, most people have it on hand, and its oil free, which is important to people who have dry skin that is also prone to acne. So, like most of my homemade beauty products, there's one isolated key ingredient in a food that makes its efficacy measurable. (I've been watching a little too much Bill Nye Saves the World.) That ingredient in oatmeal is, beta-glucan

"Beta-glucan has the unique properties of being able to form a fine film on your skin as well as being able to penetrate deep into the skin. Thus it provides a protective layer while also providing much needed deep moisturizing to your skin. It also enhances wound healing and shallow abrasions, and naturally stimulates collagen deposition and activation of immune cells within the skin." Poppy Soap, Co. Blog

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Agave nectar's benefits are similar to those of honey being that it is a humectant, which means it seals in moisture, and has light exfoliating properties. This means, that it helps skin retain moisture while also helping to remove dead skin cells, without scrubbing. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of oat flour or pulse a little bit of oatmeal in the blender 
  • 2 Tablespoons of Agave Nectar

Directions:

  • Mix both ingredients together.
  • Apply generously with fingertips to face and neck. 
  • Leave on for 20-30 minutes, rinse with water and scrub gently for added exfoliating benefits. 

Homemade Black Cherry Soda (No Sugar Added)

Things in my life have been moving a lot slower as of late, and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. I actually think that is something that I have deliberately moved towards. I think sometimes I just don't know how these things will feel when they happen, when life starts to feel a bit more organized, and dust settles, and things make sense. I think that might be mindfulness, and while I think I've taken deliberate effort towards the slowing down and being more creative in all aspects of life, there's also a bit of me that's craving change. That might just be the ebb and flow of life, craving peace with the active desire for change. 

In this process it also becomes easier for me to take better care of things, and make soda that can actually be somewhat good for me... somewhat, good for me. This recipe calls for xylitol. An interesting thing I heard about xylitol on this podcast I was listening to is, it can help remineralize teeth. I always try to research these things through medical resources just to double check, because yeah not everything gets published in a national magazine, BUT if there's even a chance that xylitol is remineralizing people's teeth, I'd bet money that someone with an advanced degree has studied it. So it turns out someone has, and it does have significant benefits for your teeth, while also tasting like sugar. 

As far as what is xylitol is, "Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar alcohol compound. Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol. They are carbohydrates that resemble sugar, but without the harmful effects of sugar. They can occur naturally in plants or can be manufactured from sugar and starches. Xylitol is not an artificial sweetener, but a crystalline carbohydrate which looks very much like sugar. It is a natural dental antidote for sugar. It can be derived from fibrous parts of plants, vegetables, and berry-type fruits such as strawberries and raspberries. These naturally sweetened fruits give all the taste benefits of sugar without its many drawbacks." RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine)

So, I couldn't find any info for the actual remineralization benefits, and it doesn't have any significant source of minerals in it. What I did find was that the special chemical compound that is described above keeps bacteria from sticking to your teeth, and is something naturally produced by our own metabolisms (which will always fascinate me,) and is absolutely safe, unlike artificial sweeteners. Also note, there's nothing artificial about xylitol

"Xylitol is a normal part of everyday human metabolism. Our bodies make up to five to 10 grams per day in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this process occurs in the gut, so it does not deliver any oral benefits. Since our bodies produce xylitol and the enzymes to break it down, there is no chance for any adverse reaction from eating products containing xylitol." RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine)

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So even though xylitol might not be a cure all for tooth decay, if used frequently and consistently can really make a big improvement, and it is absolutely worth trading up from sugar, help over hype, you might say. Every little change matters. 

On to more fun topics, these adorable coasters were a birthday gift (specifically for this blog I'm obsessed with) from my friends Celina and Tamer, who I still owe a home cooked meal. I also love these coasters and have to share, even though I don't have them, someone should. These cups are actually jam jars with lids, and I love them. These striped rice bowls are new too. 

Here's what you'll need for 4 servings: 

1 cup of xylitol

1 cup of frozen sweet dark cherries

1 cup water

32 oz sparkling water

Directions: 

Add one cup of water and one cup of frozen cherries to a sauce pan on medium heat.

Cook down for 5-10 minutes. Its pretty flexible, but with frozen fruit it takes a little bit longer. 

Add xylitol and stir another 1-2 minutes, or until fully dissolved.

Set aside too cool. 

Yields approximately 1 cup

Divvy into 4 servings, add ice and 8 oz of sparkling water and serve. 

Flower Love

This post is basically made up of all of the flower pictures that didn't make it into the Monrovia post, earlier this week. I conveniently remembered my camera, but forgot the memory card, this happens more than I care to admit, but I had my phone, so not all is lost. I rarely take pictures on my phone, I'm definitely more of a lug around a giant camera kind of a girl. But here is my ode to spring via my handy iPhone. 

Shop: Cactus

Planting Succulents

This post was sponsored by Monrovia, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting TFS. 

Plant shopping is easily in my top 5 favorite things to do. I got the chance to pick up a few new plants at Lowe's and of course I had to look at each and every one of them, before picking up what I wanted. I settled on these two succulents, the first one, the flowering one, I spotted right away and picked it up because it was the only one. It's called a Torch Cactus.  It felt like a pretty obvious choice, and it definitely started a few conversations. The other one I picked out is an agave, I may or may not secretly harbor hopes of making tequila out of it someday. Apparently these plants take about 12 years to mature, but I mean, I can wait. 

I got a few pups off of my new plants too, and put them in separate containers to keep growing. They'll most likely be a gift. 

So, I have a few tips on getting these plants out of their containers. I have hurt myself many a'times playing with cactus. 

Here it goes:

Get gloves, leather ones

Cut the sides of the container so you don't have to pull the plant directly out. To do this make 4 cuts around the side of the plastic container, cut down as low as you can and pull the plastic back. The plant should lift out from there. 

Use cactus soil. It makes a difference. 

If your plant has pups, they usually come off easiest if you twist them slightly to loosen them off of the plant. 

Put a few rocks at the bottom of the planters, this keeps soil from leaking out of the bottom. 

 

I got these terra cotta planters at Lowe's too. I'm also a very big fan of these planters on Etsy. I was tempted to paint in the engraved parts, it'll probably happen one of these days but for now I like them how they are. I'm honestly really happy with how these turned out, and they really brighten up the space. I love going to look at the flowers on that Torch Cactus, those flowers bloomed so fast too. It was amazing. There were two bulbs that bloomed overnight into these pretty impressive flowers. 

Each of my plants was about $25, but you can get coupons for signing up for the newsletter, also check out Morovia's #growbeautifully campaign to get even more ideas on indoor or outdoor gardening.  

I hope you can draw some inspiration from my gardening experience. :)