Saturday, September 22, 2012

music + muffins

These lightly sweet cranberry corn muffins may not be traditional, but that doesn't matter when they are so tasty! I bet they're even better while listening to good music. . .

Song No. 1 "Lulu" by Beatbeat Whisper:

Song No. 2  "Tortoiseshell" by Oweihops HERE

Song No. 3 "Pretty Girl" by Romeo + Juliet:

Song No. 4 "Animal Tracks" by Mountain Man

Song No. 5 "You're Not Free" by Ora Cogan

Ok, here's the muffin recipe, enjoy!

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dried cranberries

makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tin.

Mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the eggs, milk, and butter. Stir until almost combined, add the cranberries, and finish stirring until just combined. It's ok for the batter to be lumpy.

Fill the cups mostly full and bake for 18 to 20 minutes until they are lightly golden.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Think I'm Having An Art Attack No. 2

This time it's because of you, Francesca Woodman . . .

I remember when I first stumbled across her. In college I worked in my school's library, which is really one of the most enjoyable low-paying hourly wage jobs there are. I would sort returned books in the back room and allow myself to take frequent breaks from call numbers and read whatever books interested me (which was most of them). So on this particular afternoon I came across a small stack of Woodman's photography and stopped in my tracks. I didn't have a choice about whether or not I was going to read those books, they just absorbed me. I was sucked into a sort of trance, completely captivated by Woodman's over-exposed, ghostly, and beautifully lonesome images. 

Of the 800 or so photographs Woodman produced during her brief lifetime only about a quarter of them have been seen by the public. Most of her photographs are black and white and often feature a female nude (commonly self-portraits, but not always). Her environments are seemingly timeless: the decaying ruins, crumbling empty houses, and unpopulated landscapes deny the viewer a sure sense of time. (I might add that her wardrobe, when there is one, is lovely.) Slow shutter speeds lend her subjects a haunted, apparitional quality. The female figures seem to be the only things moving in their lonely landscapes as if they are spirits unable to be suspended in time. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Solid perfume

So it turns out that it is REALLY easy to make your own all natural and fully customized solid perfume. You need some beeswax, a carrier oil, essential oils, and ideally an adorable little container to keep it in.

Take some time dreaming up your essential oil blend. It's nice to blend top, middle, and low aroma notes which will give your perfume a complex scent that develops during the day as you wear it. As a rule of thumb a well-balanced blend will be about 55% top notes, 30% middle, and 15% low notes. Ok, cool. But what does that mean?

Top notes are generally what you smell first and are the quickest to fade. They are fresh, uplifting scents like citruses, lavender, bergamot, chamomile, or spearmint. Middle notes can range from the high to low-ish ranges and add body and warmth to your blend. Middle notes can by woodsy, floral, spicy, or herbal and include clary sage, jasmine, bay, clove, rosemary, cypress, dill, fennel, thyme, ylang ylang, geranium, and pine. Low notes (also called base notes) are the longest lasting and only a small amount is needed to influence your aroma blend. Base notes are grounding and earthy including patchouli, frankincense, myrrh, vanilla, sandalwood, balsam peru, and vetiver.

That said, experiment with different essential oils and come up with something you love. I cheated too- I skipped the middle notes and used two high notes (sweet orange and lavender) with a low note (balsam peru). I was pretty heavy-handed with the balsam peru because 15% just wasn't doing it for me. And you know what? It smells fantastic.

This recipe is sort of footloose. The amount of oil and beeswax you use depends on the size of your container(s).
  • 1 teaspoon beeswax
  • 1 teaspoon carrier oil (jojoba, sweet almond, or olive oil)
  • essential oils (Roughly 15 drops per teaspoon of beeswax/oil blend. So for this recipe I used about 30 drops total, which makes a fairly potent perfume.)
Using a double boiler, melt the beeswax. When the beeswax is mostly melted, add the carrier oil. When everything is completely melted, remove from heat and swiftly add your essential oils. You might consider mixing your oils ahead of time, although I did not and had enough time before the wax solidified. Stir in the essential oils well and pour perfume into a clean container. Let it cool and solidify for about twenty minutes before using.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

soothing homemade lip balms, two ways

Here are two lovely lip balm recipes, one tinted and the other not. 

Ingredients for tinted lip balm:
3 to 4 tablespoons almond, jojoba, or castor oil (castor oil will be the glossiest)
1 tablespoon beeswax
2 teaspoons honey
20 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil
1/2 tube of an all-natural, synthetic-free, generally happy lipstick (I bought mine from Honeybee Gardens)

What to do:
In a double boiler, warm the beeswax. As it begins to melt, add the oil of your choice and honey. When the wax is completely melted, add the lipstick and stir until just melted. Remove from heat. Add the essential oils, combine, and carefully pour into your containers. This recipe will fill at least ten lip balm tubes. I used a combination of old tins, glass containers, and plastic lip balm tubes.

Note: This makes a softer lip balm. Using 4 tablespoons of oil is better suited for a tin or glass container that you would apply with a finger, while using 3 tablespoons will make a firmer balm that will work better in a roll up lip balm tube. Feel free to add even more or less oil to create the consistency you want.

Ingredients for protective citrus lip balm:
1 tablespoon beeswax
1 tablespoon almond, jojoba, or castor oil
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
1/2 teaspoon honey
10 drops sweet orange, lemon, or grapefruit essential oil

Melt the beeswax and oil of your choice over a double boiler. Meanwhile, in a separate container, stir together the vegetable glycerin and honey. When the beeswax mixture  has melted, remove from heat and quickly stir in the glycerin/honey mixture, followed by the essential oils. This will solidify in no time, so be sure to have everything ready to go. Pour into containers of your choice and allow to set for about 20 to 30 minutes before using.