Mother’s Day Gifts: Herbal Dynamics Beauty Gift Sets

We have reached the end of the pre Mother’s day gift guide posts. While there are many more things available than what I have listed, I have listed a few that caught my eye as I was doing my own shopping. And for my final one I am listing Herbal Dynamic Beauty and their gift sets.

Oh before I forget they have a 25% off code: MOTHER25. You can use that on the gift sets or on regular purchases.

Last year I tried the Herbal Beauty Cacao and Chamomile Clearing Mask and fell in love. They make other really great products, but oh that mask…

I know this is about gift sets, but really I would be remiss if I did not suggest that mask as a possible gift idea. It is just such a fantastic mask to have in your skincare arsenal. It feels good on the skin and when you use it, you skin feels fantastic. However the real magic comes later. the mask works to draw out deeply clogged pores and bring them to the surface so you can clear them out. This means the day following the mask use you end up with more break outs that need to be cleared away. I like to use this a week before I need my skin to look it’s best for an event. I’ll take a weekend home, use it on a Friday afternoon and spend the weekend clearing away what gets drawn to the surface and then hit the following week with extra fabulous skin.

While it is an amazing gift, there are skin care gift sets for mothers day as well. One of my favorites is the set of Hydrating Recovery essentials. Usually $74 it is currently on sale for $54, It includes: YOUTH REFRESH® HYDRATING STRAWBERRY ANTIOXIDANT CLEANSER, CLEAN & CALM® COOLING CUCUMBER EYE CREAM, and YOUTH REFRESH® HYALURONIC ACID & OAT OVERNIGHT RECOVERY MASK.

I would purchase this solely for the Hyaluronic Acid and Oat Overnight mask.  No shade to the other products (as I haven’t tried them) but that overnight mask is fantastic. I applied it over night and the next morning my skin was hydrated and many of my fine lines flitted away in the night. Admittedly you have to keep using it or the wicked little lines return, but it was a nice way to wake up.

The second set I would look into is the Anti Aging Heroes set. I know, getting someone something called anti-aging as a gift might send the wrong message but these are really nice products. Maybe you could just term it The fabulous skin set instead if you choose to pick this one up. Usually it retails for $66 but is now on sale for $55. It includes the YOUTH REFRESH® HYDRATING HYALURONIC ACID SERUM, YOUTH REFRESH® PRICKLY PEAR ANTIOXIDANT DAILY FACE MOISTURIZER, and the VIVID REVIVAL® VITAMIN K CONTOURING EYE CREAM. Of these three the only one I have tried is the Hyaluronic Acid serum. It is something I have purchased at least twice since I first tried it. It is a fabulous addition to any skincare line.

Whether you are looking for sets or singular items, Herbal Dynamics beauty is a great place to check out for Mother’s day gifts. And don’t forget, you can get 25% off with the code MOTHER25. Happy shopping.

Herbal Dynamics Beauty

Mother’s Day Gifts: Botanical Interests Gifts for the Garden

As this is the season where gardening sort of takes over my life for a while, I know you have heard me mentioning my planting. Gardening is a family passion shared by generations of my family. Growing up we moved around a lot. Some of the places we lived were houses and had spaces for gardens and others were apartments. All of the apartments had window boxes and hanging plants in any window that could catch the sun. My grandparents sacrificed part of their back porch to build on a green house. So in my family plants and gardening supplies are always good gift ideas and this year Botanical Interests has several that are well worth taking a look at.

The first that caught my eye is the Microgreens collection. Priced at only $18.50 this collection includes: Microgreens Ciao Bella Basil Blend Organic, Microgreens Jazzy Mix, Microgreens Mellow Blend Organic, Microgreens Sunflower Organic, Microgreens Upland Cress. Whether you grow plants just to have something green and growing in your space or if you use them for cooking, this is a very good collection to have on hand and a great gift. As I often find it difficult to find cress at my local grocery store, this is one that I would defiantly look at picking up. At the moment the Ciao Bella Basil is actually planted out in my garden. It is a good grower in both the garden and in containers.

Speaking of containers…

Botanical interests has a gift set specifically for container gardening. It is unsurprisingly called the Container Vegetable collection (retail $21). It includes: Bean Bush Contender Organic, Carrot Tonda di Parigi, Cucumber Spacemaster 80, Kale Dwarf Blue Curled, Lettuce Romaine Little Gem Organic, Onion Bunching/Scallion Tokyo Long White, Pepper Sweet California Wonder, Spinach Lavewa, Squash Summer Emerald Delight, Tomato Cherry Falls. Last year we grew the little Gem Romain and I have to say I felt very fancy when making my salads. It is small enough that each head is a single serving so you can make some restaurant-y looking plated really easily. Which I know sounds a little bit extra but I sometimes find that when trying to stick to my diet, if i make the plates look a little prettier then i feel like I am getting something extra special which keeps me from adding on calories later to ‘make up’ for the salad heavy dinner. the bunching scallions we grew the summer before last (I forgot to re order last year) and they were very drought tolerant as well as delicious. Both are in the garden this year again.

And for those who have mothers who just aren’t interested in herbs or vegetables, they have several gift sets for you as well. One of my favorites is the Florist Cutting Flowers collection. (retail $22). After all why simply buy one bouquet when you can make up your own all summer long (and often for years to come). This collection includes: (A) Amaranth Love-Lies-Bleeding Coral Fountain, (A) Ammi Dara, (A) Aster, China Aster Blend, (P) Celosia Pampas Plume Blend, (P) Craspedia Drumstick Flower, (P) Dahlia Decorative Double Blend, (A) Orlaya White Lace, (A) Sunflower Goldy Honey Bear, and (A) Zinnia Cut and Come Again (A=Annual P=Perennial Pt=Tender Perennial). where I live the Love-lies-bleeding in various shades seems to be really popular. Once it gets going you can walk through the neighborhood and see it decorating a number of back fences and garden gates. It is absolutely gorgeous in the garden and would look spectacular in a vase, especially in a mix with other cut flowers.

Botanical interests is a seed/garden company I have always had really good luck with. Their seeds have always reliably sprouted and I usually like what becomes of the plants. Many of the seeds I repurchase annually. While these are three of my favorites, they have many more collections for mothers day including container and garden plants, herb and vegetable collections and a host of butterfly and bee encouraging collections. If like my mother, yours enjoys gardening, this is definitely a list to check into. The link below will take you to their full mother’s day collection. Happy shopping.

Mothers Day Gift Collection from Botanical Interests.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas: Molton Brown Gift Sets

I’ll admit, I have a weakness for Molton Brown Bath Products. I absolutely adore their shower gels and the wide array of fragrances available. I love that there is a scent for everyone too. Want something fresh and Fruity? Try Rhubarb and Rose. It’s floral that is well balanced with a bit of a tart note that keeps it fresh and not to heavily floral. Looking for something costal? Try out the Costal Cypress and Sea fennel. It has the fresh scent I always think of when I think of the sea side. Looking for something a little bit spicy? Then Pink Pepper may just be for you.

And those are just a few of the scents. Every time I am on the site I find new scents that i just want to try. The descriptions draw me in just as much as perfume descriptions do and I often find myself wanting to try them all. (which tends to be why I order the sampler set for myself during Black Friday. It’s my reward for having gotten all of my gift shopping completed).

And as my Mother introduced me to the brand, you know I couldn’t let a mother’s day pass without including something from Molton Brown on the list.

This year there are two items I think are well worth picking up. The first is the Floral and Fruity shower Gel Gift Set. It includes: 3 x 10fl oz in -Delicious Rhubarb & Rose Bath & Shower Gel, Jasmine & Sun Rose Bath & Shower Gel and Orange & Bergamot Bath & Shower Gel.

I love the formula of the Molton Brown Shower Gel. It has a really rich lather that rinses off cleanly without leaving any filmy residue on the skin. In addition,. while the scent in the shower is intense and sort of fills your shower with utterly delicious scents, once you towel off the sent fades back to barely a whisper against your skin. It was one of the things I was concerned about when i first used it. The scent in the shower was kind of strong so I assumed it would mix and mingle with every other scent I attempted to put on. It doesn’t. It is a soft scent of clean skin and is very light. I have to say, I chose this because these scants are exactly the ones my mother likes. I know she loves the Rose and Rhubarb, but I suspect that is only because she has never tried the Orange and Bergamot.

You know me, I am not a bergamot fan, in fact i think I might be slightly allergic to it. My mother on the other hand loves it. I am pretty sure that if she could submerge herself in essence of Bergamot while sipping Earl gray tea she would. So I know this set would be a big hit for her.

The second item that tops my charts is the Worldly Traveler Drawstring Travel Pouch. I think what draws me to it is that it is a sampler kit, which you know i love. And the scent’s draw me to it. It includes: Vetiver & Grapefruit Bath & Shower Gel 3.3fl oz, Coastal Cypress & Sea Fennel Bath & Shower Gel 3.3fl oz, Re-charge Black Pepper Bath & Shower Gel 3.3fl oz, Geranium Nefertum Bath & Shower Gel 3.3fl oz, Tobacco Absolute Bath & Shower Gel 3.3fl oz, Purifying Shampoo With Indian Cress 3.3fl oz, Molton Brown Drawstring Travel Pouch

I know this is much more of a me gift than it is for my mom, because these are scents I tend to gravitate towards. But I thought I would mention it in case like me, your mother isn’t always drawn to florals.

I really like the wide array of products and gift sets that are on the Mother’s Day list for Molton Brown. There are the shower gel options or hand care options. There are even perfume options. And of course sets that include all three (Hand lotion, shower gel and perfume). And while there are a lot of floral options the scents are varied so you can indulge in just the right one for your mother.

Molton Brown (US)

Mother’s Day: igourmet gift boxes

Ah mother’s day is fast approaching. Have you picked up a present yet? well if you are still looking for that perfect something, igourmet has some wonderful gift baskets this year. This link will take you to the full Mother’s day line up of gift baskets and specialty products. Personally, there are two that stand out for my list. The first is the Gift of Tea and Honey Gift basket.

Given some of the things I’ve mentioned about my mother this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. She is a huge fan of tea and long ago gave up most sweeteners. Except for honey.

Honey is put into her tea, drizzled on the oatmeal and added in all sorts of other places. In her pantry she has an entire shelf of honeys. I think that part of that is because of potential stick factor. she lined that shelf with easily wipeable waterproof liner and only puts honey on the shelf even if she only has one jar. Usually she has about three going at a time but there are always the additional ones she just can’t rest. In this gift basket there are several that look simply fantastic.

This tea gift contains two wonderful honeys and three distinctive teas to warm and soothe the body and soul.

  • Raw Italian Honey by Mitica: Award-winning beekeepers, Fabrizio and Pierpaolo Cazzola of Apicoltura Cazzola have been producing honey at Altedo in the province of Bolognia in Emilia-Romagna for over 20 years. (4.23 oz)
  • Beekeeper’s Daughter Honey: Beekeeper’s Daughter travels up and down the east coast, following the blossoms as the seasons change. Her honey is amber in color and has a sweet, floral flavor. (2 oz)
  • Honey Spoon: This 18/10 stainless steel honey spoon balances on the edge of a honey jar, tea cup, or mug.
  • Japanese Green Tea: Made from deeply steamed tea leaves that are grown in Japan’s premier tea region, located in the foothills of Mt. Fuji. (16 bags)
  • Pickwick’s Flavored Black Tea: A staple of Holland’s cafes and breakfast shops, Pickwick’s Flavored Black Tea turns a traditional taste into something truly fresh. (20 bags)
  • Highland Blend Black British Tea: This brisk black tea is a great way to begin your day, or as an accompaniment to a full British breakfast. (25 bags)
  • Bewley’s Pure White Tea with Cranberry: Since Charles Bewley first imported tea in 1835, Bewley’s of Dublin, Ireland, have been carefully selecting leaves from the world’s finest tea gardens to achieve impeccable quality and flavor. (25 bags)
  • Effie’s Tea Biscuits: These biscuit are the perfect complement to a cup of tea at any time of day. (7.2 oz)
  • Gift Presentation: Hand assembled in a black gift crate, this basket is finished with an elegant ribbon.

The second gift basket that caught my eye did so not only because I know my mother would adore every item in it, but because on Mother’s day there are always loads of people in and out of the house. While it would make a nice gift to give, it will also make a nice assortment to have on hand for when others drift in and out. This is the Mother’s day Grazing board.

Show all the moms in your life just how much they mean to you with this elegant selection of meats, cheeses, and accompaniments. There’s something for everyone, with nibbles that range from savory and spicy to downright sweet. It arrives ready to display and serve, complete with a slate cheese board. Just add Mom. 

Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board – This all-natural slate is sourced from Brooklyn Slate Co.’s family quarry in upstate New York. It’s dishwasher safe, comes with anti-slip padded feet, and features a rustic natural edge. 

Greek Fig Salami with Pistachio & Cinnamon by Hellenic Farms – Hellenic Farms is a woman-owned business that specializes in classic Greek flavors and inventive new products. This salami is made with all-natural Greek figs, cinnamon, and pistachio for a taste that’s sweet, nutty,and perfect with salty or creamy cheeses. 

Snowdonia Cheese Company Truckle – This North Wales cheese company creates beautiful, award-winning cheeses that add both flavor and fashion to your cheese board. Fun fact: The cylindrical shape of the cheese is called a truckle!

Mt. Vikos Taverna Meze – These Greek appetizers are loaded with the briny, salty, and savory flavors of the Mediterranean. They are perfect spread on small crunchy toasts or eaten by the spoonful. Close your eyes and you might hear the gentle waves of the Aegean as you bite into this little piece of Greece. 

Les Folies Fromage Fruit Spread for Cheese – This quartet of French fruit spreads is made by Guillaume et Lesgards in the heart of the French Pyrenees mountains. Each spread is infused with specific fruits and spices that are specially designed to go with a different cheeses for a cheese plate that’s bound to impress. 

Castelvetrano Olives by Bono – Established in 1934 as an olive oil company, Bono brings these fruity green olives straight from Sicily to you. They are firm, juicy, and the ideal olive to round out your cocktail hour. 

Tour de Paris Brie Wedge by Henri Hutin – The main man when it comes to cheese, Henri Hutin, founded his cheese-making (and now exporting) company in 1922. This brie is creamy and soft, with sweet and nutty hints that are complemented by fruity jam and jelly.

Petits Poivrons (Sweety Drop Peppers) by Trois Petits Cochons – These picture-perfect teardrops were originally cultivated in the Peruvian Highlands. They are a hybrid of jalapeno and cherry peppers and are sweet, spicy, and pleasantly tart. 

Citterio Prosciutto & Mozzarella Cheese Rollino – Citterio is an Italian, family-owned company founded in 1878. These days, the prosciutto is dry-air aged in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains before it’s wrapped around fresh, creamy mozzarella cheese. The perfect bite. 

Spanish Cocktail Snack Mix by Mitica – Transport your appetizer hour to the streets of Barcelona with this traditional Spanish snack mix filled with nuts and crunchy legumes. 

Taralli Crackers by Mitica – This classic Puglian snack mix takes your standard cracker game to the next level. These crunchy crisps are made with extra virgin olive oil and white wine. They’re perfect with dips, cheeses, or just as is. 

Organic Pitted Medjool Date Snack Pack by Joolies – Joolies runs an organic date farm in California and delivers the softest, sweetest dates that nature can offer.  Dates are naturally packed with nutrients like potassium and are delicious with creamy or sharp cheeses. 

Mini Toasts by Les Petits Cochons – You say cheese, we hear crackers. These crackers are extra crispy and thick enough so they won’t break when you swirl them into creamy brie or sticky fruit spreads. 

This sort of gift basket is not only great for a gift as itself, but as a gift that means any drifting company can be taken care of without Mom having to worry about a think. Personally these are the two I would purchases for my mother, but thee is a long list of items availale, from the large gift boxes to a single bottle of Orange Blossom Honey or an elephant tea canister of English breakfast tea.

Sometimes it is nice to simply pick up something that can be shared and enjoyed. It lets you celebrate the day together and not worry about having items to offer those who will drop by. Plus in my family the Mother’s day meal is almost always picnic like. The weather has turned warm and the local park near my mother’s house had picnic tables placed by the lakeside. \

Providing there is no rain, foods will be loaded into picnic baskets and taken over. Especially since it is an out door space that allows for plenty of social distancing while gathering. I’ve got my fingers crossed for good weather.



Mother’s Day: Chi Mother’s Day Bundles

Let’s face it, hair is often abused in the name of style. It is dried, curled, flattened, twisted and tied up. It is used and abused and often needs just a little TLC. Often called the crowning gory it sometimes needs a little help to shine.

This Mother’s day Chi has you covered. They have bundles that will have your mother’s (or yours) tresses looking tip top for spring. And you can even get 25% off with the code CHIMOM. While they have several available here are my two favorites.

The first of these bundles is the Chi Infra-Thermal Care Kit bundled with the Original Digital Ceramic Hair Styling Iron in Ruby red. I actually picked up this Infra Thermal Care Kit during the black Friday sales. It includes the CHI Infra Treatment 6 fl. oz., CHI Silk Infusion 6 fl. oz., and the CHI Infra Shampoo 6 fl. oz.

The shampoo not only lathered nicely and cleans the hair without tripping but it removed a lot of build up other products left on my hair. The Infra Treatment was the most amazing conditioner and gave my hair body and shine. Then there is the silk infusion.

I routinely buy the silk infusion on it’s own. A little drop put on your hands and added to wert hair is fantastic. it made my hair feel like silk. There were no tangles, no snags and it just made my hair look and feel amazing. And when the central heating caused my hair to be a little dry over the winter I just put a tiny bit on my hands and ran my hands over the top of my hair and it smoothed down frizz and fly aways.

This set comes with the Original Digital Ceramic hair styling Iron in Ruby red. This is a really good flat iron. It was large enough for me to use with long hair. I could use it both to flatten and curl my hair and the digital read let me know that I wasn’t getting too hot and risking frying my hair. As I am not always the best gauge of that I really appreciated the digital numbers. they were easy to read and really helped keep me in check.

I actually lost this flat iron because it was packed in luggage that got lost. I was more upset about it than the clothes in the suitcase actually. I’ve been trying other tools lately and missing it more and more to be honest. I am debating between reordering it and ordering the Chi Spin and Curl in Rose Gold.

I have never used the Chi Spin and Curl but it just looks like it would be absolutely fantastic fun to try out. I just find it mesmerizing. If I do end up picking it up I will most certainly review it for you. And actually this might be the time.

The Chi Spin and Curl in Rose Gold is bundled with the Biosilk Irresistible Trio for this second Mother’s Day bundle. The Trio kit includes: 1 BioSilk Silk Therapy Irresistible Original 5.64 fl. oz., 1 BioSilk Silk Therapy Irresistible Shampoo 7 fl. oz., and1 BioSilk Silk Therapy Irresistible Conditioner 7 fl. oz.

I have used the Biosilk Shampoo and conditioner and really enjoyed them. I have not tried the therapy but it is described as having a ‘Jasmine & Honey Scent is a weightless leave-in silk replenishing and reconstructing treatment that helps repair, smooth and protect all hair types.’

And really that sounds pretty good to me. While I haven’t tried the Biosilk treatment, I have used the other two items in the bundle and several other Biosilk products over the years and my hair has always loved them. It is a very good line of hair care products. This Jasmine and Honey scent is light but not overpowering. The honey actually balances the floral so neither is overpowering. The scent is strongest in the shower, but as your hair dries the scent fades to a very light barely there scent.

This mother’s day if you are looking for hair care themed bundles , these might be two that you want to look into. As for me, in addition to gift giving it might be time for me to decide if I want to replace my super fabulous Chi Flat iron or if I want to try out the Spin and Curl. Decisions decisions…



Mother’s Day Gifts: The Art of Tea Sampler Set

Today we are continuing with our Mother’s day (or any holiday really) gift ideas but we are taking a bit of a break from bath, body and skin care products. Admittedly this Art of Tea Sampler set is still in the realm of self care.

Growing up my mother was always an early riser. She would get up before anyone else simply so she could brew a cup of tea and sit out on the back porch. There she would sit composing her thoughts, planning her day and enjoying the morning before everyone else was up and demanding her attention. She claimed that having that small time to herself helped prepared her for the day and when she missed it the entire day felt rushed and off balanced.

While she would switch to Earl Gray when we all sat down to breakfast (and for her tea needs throughout the day) the morning cup was varied and she liked to experiment with all different varieties.

This is why one of the items on my list of potential gifts is The Art of Tea’s Sampler pack. They have a six and a nine pack version. The teas come in a beautifully rich, leatherette box with an assortment of delicious teas packaged in eco-friendly teabag sachets.

the individual sampler pack

This set includes 6 teabags of each of the following popular teas and tisanes*: English Breakfast, Green Pomegranate, Mint Green Tea, Earl Grey Crème, Happy, Orchid Oolong, Dark Chocolate Peppermint, Egyptian Chamomile, Sencha Green.

I’ve purchased individual packages of the Earl Gray Creme and the Orchid Oolong for her and she has loved them both so I think this would be an excellent selection for her, or any tea lover to try out.

the matcha set

They actually have many fantastic looking gift sets for tea lovers, including a tea of the month club. The Art of Tea has a small sampler box if you are uncertain how well some of the teas might be received. Taste can be very subjective. My mother has a group of friends who all get together for tea and if there is something she isn’t fond of, she puts it into the trade pile so she and her friends can switch and swap. I did once get the Individual sampler box do see if these sorts of teas were the sort she liked. It contains one sachet of the different teas in the sampler box ($20). She loved it so I now just periodically pick up a bag that I think she will like from The Art of Tea’s website.

They have a wide array of tea themed products from mugs and filter bags to ceremonial matcha sets and canister sets along with a wide array of sampler sets so that you can pick up just the right product for your favorite tea lover. You can check out their gift sets here but don’t forget to visit their home page to see what seasonal and limited time treats they have available. If your mother, or anyone in your life loves tea, this is a great site to bookmark and return to through out the year.

Mothers Day – Zents Gift Sets

Best Sellers Gift Set

Hello my darlings. Mother’s day is one of those days designed for pampering. It is easy to fall into the trap of getting the same gift year after year, so from now until the end of the month I am going to be posting a few ideas to get you inspired and thinking about a few things I’ve found. If you are thinking about an at home spa experience, Zents is a great brand to look into and right now they have a new Best Seller’s Gift set available.

Set contains: ORE EAU DE TOILETTE (Gentle Uplifting Aroma, 1.69 oz / 50 ml0, EARTH LOTION (Shea Butter Lotion, 6 fl oz / 180 ml), MANDARIN SHAMPOO (Balancing Shampoo, 10 fl oz / 300 ml and SUN BATH TRUFFLE (set includes 2 truffles – Silky Soft Body Treat, 2 oz / 57 g each)

I was first introduced to Zents through their Bath Truffles. My Aunt went to a Spa featuring them and was so impressed she picked up products for everyone. I think i found three of the Bath Truffles in my Christmas stocking that year. And it is easy to see why she liked them. they are among my favorite and the ones that i compare other bath products to. In addition to the Shea Butter softening, they have the Epsom salts that soothe away muscle aches. They are both luxurious and excellent after a strenuous work out.

I am not surprised to see two of them in the Best Seller’s gift basket. In fact I would be shocked if they weren’t there to be honest. I would also be shocked if the Mandarin Balancing Shampoo was not in the basket. I tried this (along with the Water Conditioner) and absolutely loved it. You can read my full review here. I was amazed at how little product I needed to make my hair clean and fabulous. The scent is lightly orange (as the name Mandarin implies) but it is a gentle citrus scent that fades as the bubbles wash down the drain. The soft scents are something that Zents is known for. All of their products are designed for people who are sensitive to scent so they tend towards the lighter side.

One of their Eau De Toiletes, Ore is in the Gift set as well. I sampled the Ore scent when I worked my way through Eau De Toilette Samples collection. I highly recommend that to anyone who wants to try out their scents. In the case of Zents it is extra informative as they feature collections of the same scent.

I have not tried out their earth body cream, but did love their earth scent. While I think this Gift Set is a lovely option for mothers day Zents offers a variety of Gift Sets and Duos that would also make spectacular gifts. This link will take you to their selection. There is a little something for just about everyone.

While the Best Sellers Gift set provides a variety of scents it is very easy to choose the one you love and go from there. Last year I sent a set of the Petal Bath Truffles to my mother for her Birthday and she absolutely adored them. Regardless of what you choose, you can’t go wrong with the Zent’s products. They are pampering and luxurious. It is a great way to get a spa feel at home.

And if you use the code ZENTSMOM you can even get 20% off your purchase.

Use code ZENTMOM for 20% off site-wide! Shop now!

Starting 2022 off on the right foot…

Good morning my darlings and welcome to the first post of the new year. well my first post of the new year. I’m sure others were more on the ball and woke up early on January first to get things started as soon as midnight flew past. I’m not that organized. But I hope to be a little better organized in the coming year.

Every year millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. This is the year I am going to lose weight. This is the year I’m going to start…eating right…taking better care of myself…saving money…writing my great novel. Everyone always has something they want to do better or more of or try in the new year.

Personally I love this. The turning of the calendar year gives us all a fresh page. It is hard not to look at a brand new calendar filled with twelve months of days that have yet to be filled by the actions of daily life and not feel like this is the year where you can do anything.

One of my grandmother’s favorite phrases when i was little was. “If wishes were horses even beggars would ride.”

This always made me laugh as she was also deathly afraid of horses so I knew even if she had an entire stable filled with the finest horses she would choose to walk instead.

But the the truth is that a resolution without a plan is just wishful thinking. And planning sometimes involves picking up the right tools for success. I have many plans for 2022. Some large, some small, and some that are simply things I think i could do better in the upcoming year. I even have a few habits I’d like to build or leave behind.

I know that waking up on January first and starting every new habit off with a bang isn’t going to work. If I actually remember to do what I planned, and stick with it, then in a few weeks time fatigue will set in and chances are the plan will fall to the wayside. Instead I phase my plans, roll the new in slowly, building the habits over the coming months.

Think of it like training for a marathon. You don’t wake up on day one having never run anywhere in your life and suddenly decide to run twenty-six miles flat out. You have a plan and slowly build up to marathon level. You train. I tend to take this training into other arenas as well.

For me, organization is something I want to work on in the new year. I want to be able to find the things that I want to use easily. I want to be able to go through products, like sheet masks in a timely manner. I know that saying I want to be more organized isn’t really going to cut it, so I made a plan to deal with some of my worst offenses.

One of the things that makes me feel disorganized is having lots of little things floating around everywhere. Like hair pins and elastics. So I picked up a couple of jars to help contain them.

Putting my sheet masks in a drawer where they were laying flat made them easy to ignore. It also made the drawer somewhat messy and when I went into the drawer I just felt like I was digging through an overstuffed drawer no matter how many or few items were in there. So I picked up a small plastic bin where I can set the masks upright. Not only can I see them but I can flick through them easily to find the one I am looking for.

I also picked up a three drawer unit. The drawers have frosted plastic fronts so I can sort of see into them but not completely. I don’t need to have everything displayed as that would kind of bug me, but I can see enough to know what type of items the drawers hold. I have also divided the items up by category. Hair care products are in one, skincare products are in another.

None of these items were very expensive. I thing the three drawer unit was the most expensive of these items and it was less than $30. But each of them will help me be better organized. Does this mean that because I start off with it organized at the beginning of January that it will stay that way? No.

But in my planner, I have scheduled a time to put things away and to make sure they are in the right drawer. Do I hope that I can teach myself to put things back where they belong after I use them so things remain tidy? Yes. But I also understand that life happens and I may not put things away right after using them. So on my schedule every Friday I have written ‘Tidy up Beauty items.’

I scheduled it right before my Friday Face Mask. This way I stop what I am doing and get into the habit of putting everything back where it belongs, then I feel rewarded by having my relaxing face mask. I find a little positive reinforcement doesn’t hurt when trying to build a new habit. So while it may get messy during the week, I know that Friday it will all reset. The goal may be to get myself to remember to put things back where they belong each time I use them, but for now I will settle for the weekly tidy instead of waiting until things get so messy that I can’t find a single thing I was looking for.

There are of course other organizational issues I want to tackle this year, but this is my first step. As it becomes habit and no longer something I have to think about, more steps will be added making my world run just a little bit more smoothly and turning some of my wishes into reality.

Three Easy Make Ahead Valentine’s Day Desserts

Nothing says Valentine’s Day like sweets for you and your sweetie.  Here are three deserts that you can make, pop into the fridge and forget about until after the big Valentine’s dinner.

  • No Fail Stupid Easy Caramel Sauce
  • Quick Fruit Tarts
  • Chocolate Mousse

The No Fail Stupid Easy Caramel Sauce

I know you’ve heard horror stories about the difficulties of making caramel, but this quick caramel sauce is easy to make, requires only five ingredients and can be used in a variety of ways from topping ice cream, drizzling over freshly sliced fruit, to topping chocolate cake and pairing with shortbread cookies.  The hardest part is leaving it alone to set up before putting it to use.

Ingredients

 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter

1 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

Measure out all of your ingredients before you start and place them within easy reach of the stove as this goes pretty fast. 

  • Put the stick of butter in a medium sauce pan. 
  • Set the burner on medium low heat and let the butter melt. 
  • When the butter has melted add the sugar and stir for two minutes.  It will be mostly combined but you may see a little ring of butter around the outside, that’s okay.
  • After two minutes add the cream and stir gently but constantly for two minutes.  At first they won’t look like they are mixing but by the end of the two minutes they should be melding into one sauce. 
  • After two minutes take the caramel off of the heat and add in the vanilla and salt, stir until it is incorporated and pour into a clean glass container. (it will look very liquid-y but it thickens as it cools.
  • Let cool on the counter. When cool, put the lid on the jar and put it into the fridge overnight.  It will thicken as it chills, but never really go solid.
  • Drizzle over anything your heart desires.
Sauce in a jar: and yes it is a reused sliced jalapeno jar well cleaned

Technically the sauce will keep about a month in the fridge, but we’ve never had a jar that managed to stick around for more than a week. While this is the basic recipe, you can play around with flavors.  Any flavors you want to mix into your caramel would go in at the stage where you take it off the heat and add the vanilla and salt. I like you add a pinch of cardamom sometimes.  Occasionally I will add a pinch of cayenne to make a spicy sweet treat.  The above recipe is just the basic one, feel free to play with it and make it your own.

Quick Fruit Tarts

Ingredients

baked tart shell: cooled before filling

Tart shells (you can use store bought pie crust cut into smaller rounds, premade tart shells from the freezer section of your own favorite pie dough recipe)

¾ cup granulated (caster) sugar

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

3 oz box of jello in the fruit flavor of your choice

Fruit of your choice (I went with raspberry for this one)

Whipped cream for topping (you can buy the can or whip up some cream fresh at home as is your preference)

jello cornstarch mix
  • Prebake your tart shells as per the directions and let cool.  For me that meant docking the bottom (poke it with a fork to prevent bubbles), cover with parchment paper, fill the shell with pie weights or beans and then bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.
  • In a sauce pan add your cornstarch and sugar.  Mix with a fork and then set it on medium heat.  Add your water and stir constantly until it comes to a boil.  After it comes to a boil keep stirring for two more minutes or until the slurry starts to thicken.
  • Once it starts to thicken take it off the heat and pour in the jello packet of your choice.  Stir to incorporate it all and then put it in the fridge for 20 minutes (It will thicken in the fridge but not go solid.)
  • Put fruit into your cooled tart shells.
  • Pour the jello mixture over the fruit in the tart shells.  In mine the raspberries were taller than the shell so they stood up more.  Your look will depend on what fruit you use.
  • Put into the fridge and let sit over night to set fully.
  • When you take them out, top with whipped cream and serve.
tart before chilling in the fridge.

I like this because you can alter it based on what fruit you have on hand.  You can also mix and match flavors.  Kiwi slices and strawberry jello work well.  You can also doctor the jello with some zest if you would like to punch up the flavor.  I tend to use a tsp of zest in the fruit flavor (orange zest for orange jello, lemon zest for lemon jello), the combinations are dependent on your palette.  My babydoll loves raspberries so I went with that. Oh and as a fun aside, these tarts freeze really well.  I freeze them on a tray and once frozen wrap each in plastic and put into a larger bag. It is a great way to use up extra fruit when it is in season.

Chocolate Mousse

This is the full recipe below. It makes on large trifle or four decadently large deserts or eight regular deserts. Think about how much you need before you make it and scale it appropriately. This recipe takes well to scaling. And even though it requires three bowls, it is a fairly simple recipe. Just measure your ingredients out before you start, remember to get three separate bowls (one for heating chocolate, one for mixing egg whites and one for mixing cream) and take your time folding things together.

Ingredients

1 2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp kosher salt

4 egg whites

½ cup castor sugar

6 oz dark chocolate chips

egg whites are ready when the mixer leaves marks that don’t go away or you can turn the bowl upside down without spillage.
  • Melt chocolate and let cool slightly.  I like to do this in the microwave.  I put the chips in a microwave safe bowl, heat on high for fifteen seconds, stir, heat, stir and heat until they are completely melted.  Always stir between each fifteen second heating as it distributes the heat through instead of leaving you with one hot spot.  If you don’t stir it can easily burn.
  • Put your heavy cream, vanilla and salt into a bowl.  Whip it until stiff peaks form. Set it to the side.
  • In another, larger bowl take your four egg whites, whip them to soft peaks. When they are at soft peaks, add in your sugar and whip into stiff peaks.
  • Slowly fold your chocolate into the egg whites. It is okay if it looks a little marbled.
  • Once the chocolate is in your egg whites, fold your whipped cream into the chocolate egg whites.  It is okay if it isn’t perfectly uniform in color.  You don’t want to knock out all the air you added by whipping the whites and cream. It tends to deflate less than other recipes because both the cream and whites have air so you start with double the air for your mousse.
  • When as combined you want, spoon into serving dishes and move to the fridge for anywhere from two hours to overnight.  If leaving overnight, cover with plastic wrap.  If only leaving a few hours you don’t need to cover it.
mixed together

This recipe makes four large and super decadent deserts or eight regular sized deserts. It can easily be cut in half or even in fourths depending on who you are serving and how large you want your deserts to be.  I left the measurements as the full sized recipe so they matched the photographs.  While some will be eaten here, we needed extra so I made the full batch. It is a very scalable recipe and rather forgiving if you are still learning your folding technique.

Top off with whip cream and chocolate shavings and you have a truly decadent desert. You can also play around with this one as well, adding a Tablespoon of instant coffee crystals to make it mocha flavored. I like replacing the vanilla with ginger syrup.  I have also filled the serving glasses half way and added a layer of raspberry coulis before topping them off with more mousse. 

Again the recipe above is the basic one and you can easily play around with it to suit your palette.  Just try not to add too much liquid and add your flavorings to the cream instead of the egg whites or wait until the mouse is formed and just layer it with other flavors using the chocolate as the base.

These three desserts are favorites around my house and my favorite part is that they not only can be made early, but they mostly require you to make them early.  I love that they can be made ahead of time and stashed away in the fridge while I concentrate on other things. It is one less thing to worry about as the last second and they all taste great.


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Three Steps to a Stress Free Valentine’s Day

Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

Here are three simple steps you can take to make your Valentine’s day as stress free as possible.

1.Planning

One of the good things about Valentine’s day is that it always arrives on the 14th of every February. There is no guesswork, the date doesn’t change. Knowing this lets you plan your course of action in advance. Do you need to pre order tickets or a special gift? What groceries do you need to buy to make that special meal? Whatever you are doing, planning it out in advance can keep the stress level from rising and you from scrambling to implement last second ideas.

2. Prep Work

When Valentine’s day arrives, you don’t want to wear yourself out getting everything together, remember this is your day to enjoy too. Whether picking up gifts or doing an early load of laundry so you can make the bed with fresh sheets, getting things done in advance is key, no where is it more important than in the meal. If you are cooking at home this Valentine’s day think about make ahead dessert items like chocolate mousse or fruit tarts. Making them the day before means you don’t have to stress about them, you just have to bring them out of the fridge at the appropriate time. You can do the same with much of your prepwork. Take a look at the meal you have planned (if cooking at home) and see what can be done the day before. Then work through as many items as you can early so on Valentine’s day all you have to do is assemble and create the finished product. The same approach goes with many other items from picking up a special outfit from the dry cleaners to cleaning out your car. Do what you can do early so on Valentine’s day it isn’t one of the elements you feel rushed to get ready.

3. Perfection

Many of us go into Valentine’s day thinking that everything must be absolutely perfect. If your hair isn’t fixed just so the day will be a disaster, if there is a grain too much or too little salt on the potatoes everything is ruined, if traffic makes us late for our reservation the sky is falling, if it is raining then even the fates have turned against us.

It can be overwhelming. So take a deep breath and let it go.

The perfection of the day is spending it with someone you love and doing something special to mark the occasion and celebrate your love. Yes you want everything to go well and be as perfect as possible, but sometimes life just isn’t like that. So what if you accidentally splash a little sauce on the table cloth? Is it the end of the world? No. Will your beloved think you don’t love him anymore if the decoration on the top of your tarte is not ready to be on the cover of Bon Appetit Magazine? I doubt it. And no matter how in control and on point you are, you can’t control everything. The weather will be what it is going to be, as will traffic and a host of other things you just can’t control. You can try for perfection, but just remember that sometimes things happen. It doesn’t make your love any less and it doesn’t make anyone love you any less.

Remember always that Valentine’s day is a celebration of love. Whether that love is for someone else, yourself or a combination of the two, you deserve to enjoy the day and let go of the stress.


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