Monday, April 30, 2012

Paper Crown

That's the name of a clothing line I like, but today, I'm really referring to the tissue paper floral wreath I made for Hayden out of items found in April's Eco Emi box. As you know, I've gotten in the habit of using the decorations and packaging from my past Eco Emi shipments for DIY projects (here's January, February and March), so this month was no exception.

Initially, my April Eco Emi box appeared more challenging than the rest (in terms of DIY inspiration). What was I to do with something that looked like a nest?

Turning it into a decorative nest to hold some of my small beauty product samples or accessories seemed too obvious. Instead, I went with the festival trend, transforming it into a fun, floral head wreath.
First, I formed the "nest" into a narrow strip, long enough to wrap into a wreath shape to fit the top of Hayden's head. Then, I used some copper wire (I had it with my jewelry making supplies) to wrap around it, securing some paper flowers (I made them out of green and blue tissue paper, also from my April Eco Emi box) along the way.

When I was finished, I attached both ends together with some more copper wire, making sure to tuck the end of the wire inside the wreath, so it wouldn't poke Hayden. Here's the finished floral wreath on her head.

She pouted for me at first ...

 ... but in the end, she thought
her paper flower crown was beautiful :-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

From a girl & from a boy

First I'll tell you what I got from a girl. Of course, it's Eco Emi time again, so Hayden and I made a video to share what Christine (Eco Emi's founder) selected for the April 2012 box. You can watch the video and/or find out more about the products below, quoted from Christine's monthly information card (which also mentions Mr. Ellie Pooh; you must check this out) and followed by my initial thoughts.

Baby Me Ultra-Moisturizing Goat Milk Soap by Alabu Skin Care: "This is a fabulous vegetarian soap. Unlike most soaps which strip your skin of its natural oils, this actually moisturizes your skin as you use it and contains no artificial colors, preservatives or fillers - ever! Great for all skin types, especially for anyone with extra dry or sensitive skin."

Heads up to my vegan readers, this is only vegetarian and not vegan due to the goat's milk. Since I'm not in an entirely vegan household, this soap will not go to waste. I'll have to ask my hubby what he thinks of it.

Lip Shimmer in Plum by Burt's Bees: "Burt's Bees Plum Lip Shimmer is the perfect choice when trying to create a simple laid back or sophisticated look without too much effort. Shea butter and antioxidant-rich fruit oils moisturize, nourish and soften lips naturally and lovingly. Burt's Bees lip shimmers are available in 12 shades including three fresh new colors: Cherry, Plum and Strawberry!"

 As I've said in the past, I tend to venture into "bee-gan" territory sometimes, using items that contain bee products. Burt's Bees is one of those lines I've made exceptions for in the past. I happen to like the lip shimmers, which tend to come in perfect colors for me. They leave just a sheer shimmer of color. Although I love this plum one, I let Hayden have it this time.

Enchanting Chai Line Gourmet Enhancers, Finishing Sugars and Spiced Chocolates by Catalyst Gourmet: "Catalyst Gourmet specializes in vegan, artisan, antioxidant-rich products that lend a delicious, healing and transformative experience to your favorite foods and beverages. This month's box features a selection of their Enchanting Chai line.

"The Gourmet Enhancer will bring a captivating flavor and aroma to your drinks and meals without the need of sugar. For a sweet treat, the Finishing Sugar is a divine combination of the Gourmet Enhancer and all natural, raw sugar. Finally, satisfy your chocolate craving with their antioxidant-rich Gourmet Spiced Chocolate."

OMG! My reaction to the scent of these flavor enhancers would make my hubby blush. Oh how I love chai! I can't wait to try all of these :-)

Natural Toothpaste by Dr. Collins: "Dr. Collins Natural Vegan and Gluten Free Toothpaste features the finest ingredients found in nature with a delicious Vanilla Mint & Goji Berry flavor. Superfruits, antioxidants and vitamins support optimal oral health while Tea Tree Oil and Magnolia Bark work as natural antiseptics that fight bacteria and freshen breath. No preservatives, artificial ingredients, fluoride or sodium lauryl sulfate."

I'm still loving the fluoride-free toothpaste Christine sent me last month. This flavor sounds just as delicious. I know I'll be a fan of this one, too. 

Seaweed Body Wash in Eucalyptus and Peppermint by The Seaweed Bath Company: "Natural Seaweed Body Wash with Eucalyptus and Peppermint combines the naturally nourishing properties of seaweed along with all-natural ingredients, including Kukui which is a potent natural moisturizer and Neem Oil which is known in India to be rich in emollients that help to protect and moisturize your skin. Great for anyone, especially sufferers of dry, red, scaling, flaking or rough skin."

I've seen this brand in one of my Vital Juice e-mails. I've been curious about it, so I'm excited to have the opportunity to try it.

Bronzer in Golden by Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques: "This is the time of year I search for a bronzer to help me achieve a beautiful sun-kissed glow, and Lauren's golden bronzer is a must in my makeup bag. I love that it is light and airy, and does not turn orange or feel too heavy. This color works great for creating sun-kissed looks on pale skin, a warm glow for natural skin tones and a beautiful highlight for dark skin."

These Eco Emi boxes have really turned me into a Lauren Brooke's fan. I still can't believe I got an eyeliner in my January box when I was in need of a new one. Just the other day, I was thinking about purchasing a bronzer, and voila, there's one in this box. The shade is just right, too. 

Whipped Shea Butter with Kalahari Melon Seed Oil by Shea Radiance: "I am addicted to body butters and I especially love whipped body butters! The whipped butters have a very light and fluffy consistency and Shea Radiance has created a magical recipe containing melon seed oils which quickly absorb into the skin. Rich and easily spreadable, but not at all greasy or heavy. The scent is an amazing blend of essential oils and cozy Indian spices like anise, clove, cardamom, vanilla, and black pepper. Meant to give a warm and sweet comforting smell."

This smells nice and spicy. It also has an amazing texture. It is really whipped and creamy. Love it!

Tropical Lime Tea by Mate Factor Tea: "Tropical Lime Yerba Mate Tea Bags contain 100% organic ingredients including sun-dried lime, hibiscus flowers and green yerba mate. Each bag is double the size of most tea bags and is naturally high in vitamin C, resulting in a fruity tropical blend that is not only refreshing hot or cold, but is an amazing booster to your body's defense system."

I'm a tea drinker, so of course, I was happy to receive this. I especially like teas with hibiscus. So good!

Organic Raw Fair Trade Honey by Wholesome Sweeteners: "A thick, creamy honey with a warm butterscotch essence. Blended from multi-floral nectar collected on fair trade certified cooperatives, this yummy honey is never heated and pairs perfectly on warm biscuits, in salad dressings, with yogurt or hard cheeses."

I don't usually consume honey, but when I do, I like it to be organic, raw and fair trade like this one. That "butterscotch essence" description really got my attention.


And now to what's from a boy. Can you believe Hayden got this Lily of the Valley from a boy at story time yesterday? So sweet :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Pickle Mashup

Yikes! Forget about that title for a second. What happened to my Blogger posting/layout page?

If you don't use Blogger like I do to blog, than you'll probably have know idea what I mean, but if you do, you may have noticed the new set up. As I type this, I think they're going for a new look just to confuse me a bit (okay Blogger, it's working; can we go back to the old look?). Let's hope I can still navigate it (so far, I'm getting a little frustrated with the photos, spacing, font size, etc.).

Anyway, back to the pb, pickles and cupcakes, oh my! Now that's an interesting combo, which has the taste round of "Cupcake Wars" written all over it. In fact, it was a cupcake baked up by one of the contestants on last Sunday's Roller Derby Dolls episode, where the challenge was to make a tasty cupcake out of some insane flavor mashups. Most of the combos included some kind of animal product, like caviar and sweetbreads (please don't let the name fool you on that one), so pb and pickle seemed to be the best bet.

The judges were pleasantly surprised, and since my sister used to eat peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, I figured I should try this combo, too, with my Rawdorable spin on a cupcake. I went straight to my kitchen, finely diced some cucumber (saving a slice for the garnish), and let it soak in some raw apple cider vinegar, dill and sea salt.

When the fresh cucumber pickle relish was to my liking, I made this cupcake:

Rawdorable PB Pickle Cupcake
*my Rawdorable take on the Peanut Butter Pickle Cupcake made by Rebecca Zukowski of Blondies cupcake bakery in Catasauqua
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cucumber pickle relish (finely diced cucumber, marinated in raw apple cider vinegar, dill and sea salt, to taste)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. date paste
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh cucumber pickle juice (leftover from making the pickle relish)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • dash of sea salt
  • *"Butterdream" mixed with natural peanut butter, to taste, for frosting
  • *peanut butter drizzle (natural peanut butter mixed with thinned out date paste or other liquid sweetener, to taste)
  • *reserved crumbs and one fresh cucumber pickle slice for garnish
In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds (you can also substitute some of the almonds for leftover nut pulp from making nutmilk to result in a lighter cake texture) and cashews into a crumb. Remove up to 1/2 Tbsp. of the crumbs to reserve for garnish.

Add the cucumber relish to the crumbs in the food processor. Process enough to incorporate them into the now flour-like consistency, and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the date paste, fresh pickle juice, vanilla and sea salt. Whisk to combine (a whisk helps keep the "batter" fluffier). The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).

Form the batter into a cupcake shape, using a reusable silicone liner or small ramekin. Frost the cupcake with "Butterdream" icing mixed with natural peanut butter to your liking (I had planned on using the ratio from this cupcake, but Hayden insisted we add a lot more peanut butter this time). Then, sprinkle the top with the reserved crumbs, drizzle with the peanut butter drizzle, and garnish with a fresh cucumber pickle slice.


I know it sounds wacky (Rebecca Zukowski actually refers to her cupcakes that she makes with vinegar and baking soda to replace the eggs as "wacky cakes"), but that cupcake was really good. I just might have to make it again :-)

On another note, happy belated Earth Day everyone! I'm so excited to say that my kids and I won "The Lorax" prize pack a while back from Girlie Girl Army (Hayden is wearing the yellow mustache we received, along with a Lorax t-shirt, three truffula tree pencils, some Seventh Generation cleaning products and a Fandango gift card), and were able to go see the movie. We loved it and highly recommend it. Thanks Chloe Jo and Universal Pictures!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pink berry popcorn

Last Friday, I was checking Lauren Conrad's usual list of Friday favorites (yes, I follow her website) and spotted this old fashioned pink popcorn from the Cooking Classy blog. It was so pretty and looked like a fun snack to have with the kids.

Although actual popped popcorn is not something I would have posted on this site in the past, I have to admit that we occasionally eat it around here (as I said before, we are not a 100 percent raw household). It's not very often (actually, I can't remember the last time I had it), and when we do, I tend to stick with the plain, organic air-popped corn, which we later add our favorite flavors.

This was the case with the pink popcorn. The original recipe started out with plain popcorn, but since I wasn't very fond of the idea of using the corn syrup and food dye, I opted to make a simpler pink berry version.

Basically, I popped the popcorn, and while it was still warm, drizzled it with melted coconut oil and tossed it around in some freeze-dried strawberries ground into a powder. The results were pink and "berrylicious." Yum!

If you must make a high raw version, you could always substitute the popcorn for fresh cauliflower floret pieces. I haven't tried cauliflower coated in strawberry myself, though, but it reminds me of something I saw about how a little sugar or sweetness can teach some people to eat their veggies. Luckily, I don't need that trick in this household.

Oh, and a note about the popcorn, it is not recommended to give popcorn to children younger than 4 years old, although I'm not the first mom to break that rule. It is a choking hazard, so I made sure Hayden (who will be turning 3 in August) was seated and supervised. She also does a good job of eating one piece at a time and not all in one bite.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Lollipop, lollipop" ...

... "oh lolli, lolli, lolli, lollipop! Ba boom boom boom." Hayden keeps singing this song around the house lately. She seems to think it's pretty catchy. I actually used to sing it all the time when I was a kid, although it's from before my time, too.

Since we both have lollipops on the brain, we made some fresh strawberry and kiwi pops, just for fun. Kiwi slices are the perfect round toppers to place on lollipop sticks, along with strawberry sliced hearts. These disappear rather quickly, so I find myself replacing Hayden's eaten toppers with new slices quite frequently.

In the summer, it's fun to freeze the fresh fruit pops to make them last longer, much like a real lollipop (melon balls are perfect for this, too). I guess you could also dehydrate them, too, like Rawkin Mom Samantha of Color Wheel Meals does for her kids (love her rainbow of flavors).

If you really want your lollipop to last, you can make a cute lollipop-inspired necklace to wear around your neck. Although not edible, it is a lot of fun.

I had seen Rachael Ray sporting one around her neck the other day on her show. It wasn't the first time I'd seen one of these lollipop necklaces, but it got me to look them up online to see how much they cost. Honestly, they are a tad pricey ($100-$300, but at least some of the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society), so I opted to make my own version out of items I had in my house.

I found an old gold chain from a necklace I haven't worn in years, a swirly bead that reminded me of some kind of butterscotch or butter rum candy I had as a child (or Jupiter; it does kind of resemble Jupiter), an open jump ring and an eye pin (similar to a head pin, but with a loop on the end) for jewelry making, as well as a plastic hollow lollipop stick.

Assembly was quick and easy. First, I cut the lollipop stick into the desired length (I cut mine slightly longer than an inch in length).

Then, I used my jewelry-making tool to attach the jump ring to the eye pin. I threaded the bead, followed by the piece of lollipop stick onto the pin, and created a loop at the bottom to secure them in place.

Finally, I put the finished lollipop charm on the chain
and tried it on my neck.

What do you think?

The kids knew right away that it was a lollipop. Love it! <3

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yo Gabba Gabba!

Hayden is a big "Yo Gabba Gabba" fan, and also loves to watch "Cupcake Wars" with me (we even play "Cupcake Wars" with her toy cupcakes and baking sets). Therefore, it's no surprise how excited the two of us are to watch tonight's episode of the Food Network show, which will have a "Yo Gabba Gabba" theme.

In preparation for the big show, we made our own Rawdorable "Yo Gabba Gabba" cupcakes with fruity Foofa and Brobee faces on top. They are Hayden's favorite characters, so we had to make both.

To make these, you can use whatever Rawdorable cupcake base you like, but we selected our basic spice cupcake, which works well for most decorative cupcakes (the ones where the attention is focused more of the decoration rather than the flavor; they tend to be the most kid-friendly). However, we did fill the Foofa one with strawberry puree mixed with date paste and the Brobee one with kiwi puree blended with date paste, as well.

The tops are frosted with some leftover whipped coconut milk "cream" from our last post, because I didn't want to waste it. Otherwise, I would have used the "butterdream" in the freezer.

To decorate the Foofa cupcake, we used a large strawberry half for her face. Then, we cut a chunk out to be her mouth and added another piece of strawberry to be her nose.

I had hoped to leave the green leaves on to represent Foofa's petal collar and use an actual strawberry flower to place on top her head. Since I didn't have a fresh strawberry flower, I opted to use almond halves instead for both, with a golden raisin in the middle of the flower. Lastly, I piped on the dots in her eyes and lashes with some leftover quick and easy chocolate icing, from the last post.

Brobee was decorated in a similar fashion, using a kiwi slice for his green face. The other details were made out of cut strawberry pieces, almond halves and more leftover quick and easy icing. Isn't he cute?

I wonder what tonight's contestants will whip up. Here are some of my other ideas for "Yo Gabba Gabba"-inspired cupcake flavors:

Rainbow Cupcake
(there are some crazy colors on that show)

PB & J Cupcake (Use this cupcake base and fill it
with your favorite pureed fruit mixed with date paste.
It would be so adorable topped
with the flying toast from the show,
who looks like a flying sandwich)


Other fun ideas I found online:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cherry blossoms for me

Just the other day I was talking to my Granny (my mom's mom, who is pictured below with me on Easter; we all wore the tie-dyed shirts we made at my mom's birthday party last September, as per her request) about the lovely cherry blossoms in bloom right now. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is scheduled to take place this weekend, but the trees started blooming early this year. I guess their blooms definitely won't be around for my birthday (April 30th; I can't believe I'm turning 36).

When I was little, I thought cherry blossoms were my birthday flower, due to the beautiful photo of them on a calender my Granny had on her desk. Certainly, if the cherry blossoms were featured on the month of April, they must be my birth flower.

Later, I discovered that my real birth flower is a sweet pea (so sweet; love those, too), and that the cherry blossoms were no longer blooming by the time I'd be celebrating my birthday (although my hubby jokes that I like to celebrate my whole birth month). Still, I feel connected to the pretty pink (my favorite color to this day) blossoms.

So, if I am going to celebrate my birth month, I thought a cherry blossom-inspired Rawdorable cupcake would be the perfect way to start. To infuse it with a sweet cherry flavor, I'd substitute the date paste for cherry paste (like when I swapped the date paste out for sun-dried tomato paste in this pizza cupcake).

Lately, I've been referring to my cupcakes as Rawdorable cupcakes, which refers to my personal style of unbaking. Sometimes they are raw and other times include non-raw elements. No matter what, they are delicious and fun to make.

Today's cupcake is more of the hybrid variety (a mix of raw and non-raw ingredients), due to my spontaneous decision to make it. I had hoped to pick up dried cherries at the grocery store. Unfortunately, there weren't any, but Hayden found a package of a brand I wouldn't normally purchase with the word "cherry" on the front.

At closer inspection (when I already purchased them and brought them home), I realized they were actually dried cranberries flavored with cherry juice. Determined to still make my cupcake (I'm a Taurus, so I'm determined, although most people would refer to us as stubborn), I soaked a large handful of the dried berries in water for a couple hours (reserving the soaking water for another step), in hopes of blending them into a paste after picking Jacob up from the bus stop (I know better than to get too involved in these things right before bus stop time).

When Jacob got home, I blended the soaked berries in my Magic Bullet blender to a slightly chunky paste, which speckled the formed unfrosted cupcake. So pretty.

As for the icing, although I did have some "butterdream" leftover in the freezer, I opted to use some whipped canned coconut milk instead. I happened to already have a can chilling in the fridge (I was going to use it to make one of Chef Chloe's recipes), so I opened it, took a couple spoonfuls from the top (when it sets unshaken like that in the fridge, the "cream" rises to the top) and whipped it up in my Tribest personal blender. I guess I could have added some sweetener, rose water and/or vanilla, but I thought it was perfect as is.

It was a lovely canvas for my cherry blossom decorations made out of dried cherry cranberries, large coconut flakes soaked in the leftover cherry cranberry soaking liquid and a quick and easy chocolate icing piped branch. If you didn't follow all of that, here's the recipe:

Cherry Blossom Cupcake

*Makes one cherry blossom-inspired cupcake
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. cherry cranberry paste (dried cherry-flavored cranberries soaked and blended into a paste; can also use plain dried cherries to make the paste)
  • 1 tsp. rose water
  • dash of sea salt
  • *"Butterdream" or whipped canned coconut milk "cream" for frosting
  • *quick and easy chocolate icing (cocoa powder mixed with pure maple syrup or liquid sweetener of choice to create a quick and easy icing) for piping a branch on top
  • a few dried cherry-flavored cranberries or cherries, and large coconut flakes soaked in the cherry cranberry soaking liquid for garnish
In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds (you can also substitute some of the almonds for leftover nut pulp from making nutmilk to result in a lighter cake texture), coconut flakes and ground ginger into a flour-like consistency, and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the cherry cranberry (or just cherry) paste, rose water and sea salt. Whisk to combine (a whisk helps keep the "batter" fluffier). The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).

Form the batter into a cupcake shape, using a reusable silicone liner or small ramekin. Frost the cupcake with "Butterdream" icing or whipped coconut milk "cream" (allow a can of coconut milk to set unshaken in the fridge until chilled and the "cream" has separated to the top. Remove the "cream" and whip to a fluffy consistency). Then, garnish with a piped quick and easy chocolate icing branch and cherry blossoms formed out of dried cherry cranberries (or just cherries) and large coconut flakes soaked in the cherry cranberry soaking liquid. Pretty!


Speaking of pretty, did you notice the cherry blossom art in the background? Hayden and I collected a bunch of petals on our walk back from the bus stop to make this project. When I was little, we would make cherry blossom pictures with tissue paper flowers, but I just had to use fresh petals when I saw the ground covered with them, as they fell like pink fluffy snow from the neighbors flowering tree (that's about the only kind of "snow" I can expect to find on my birthday, but I do remember it snowing once or twice in the beginning of April).

To make this project, all you have to do is draw or paint some bare branches and then glue on some fresh pink flower petals to look like cherry blossoms. As I mentioned already, you could use pink tissue paper instead, but I prefer this more natural technique.

I also remember making these with black or brown construction paper cutouts shaped like hands (trace around your hands or your kid's hands and then cut out the tracings) to represent the branches. Too cute. I should have done that with Hayden and Jacob. There is still time.

To make the picture extra special, we made this one on Melissa & Doug picture frame paper. It comes in a large pad with a variety of printed on frames. I selected the mock cherry wood frame, which was just right for this project. What do you think?

Anyone going to see the cherry blossoms or have gone to see them in the past? They really are gorgeous :-)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Flowers in her hair

In case you missed it, I posted about my March Eco Emi box last week. Just as I did with my January and February boxes, I decided to do a DIY accessory project with the confetti decorations found inside (I refuse to waste anything from these boxes; I even reuse the tissue paper), this time being cute little flowers.

At first I considered attaching them to a headband, but in the end, I decided to use them to decorate some old school ribbon barrettes. My mom would make them for me when I was a child in the 80s. I think I had a pair to match all of my outfits.

Now I have my own little girl to make these barrettes for, but with a special twist. I made them with some scrap ribbon, that wasn't quite as long as my mom would use to leave extensive pieces hanging from the ends, so I twisted the much shorter ends to go along with Hayden's messy waves.

Here's a link showing how to make these ribbon barrettes, as this blogger probably explains it better than I can (although I start mine from the opposite side; I like the ribbons to hang toward the back when the barrettes are placed on the sides of the head). I also want to make this post short and sweet, so I can spend more time with my kids, while my son is off from school for Spring break this week.

I thought the addition of the flowers to these barrettes really was perfect for Spring. I just glued them on at the end. Here's how they looked when finished.

Hayden loves them and had to wear them right away. I wish I had gotten to work on them before the Easter egg hunt at church yesterday (they hunt for the same plastic eggs every year that they turn in for a candy-free goody bag at the end), but she still looked adorable.

Here's a pic of Jacob and Hayden getting ready to go search for Easter eggs. They wouldn't stop to pose for the camera. When they're ready, they're ready, and they are ready for me now.

Hope you're enjoying Spring break, too :-)

Past Easter/Spring-related posts: