Friday, March 30, 2018

Easy Peesy French Bread

We are a low-carb family, but I make a loaf of this bread once or twice a month because sometimes you just gotta have fresh-made bread! Even if you work full-time, you can have a yummy loaf of bread ready with your dinner within an hour of walking in the door! Try it soon - I don't think you will be disappointed!

The basic recipe is from My Mundane and Miraculous Lifebut I have tweaked it over time to make the most perfect loaf of bread for our family!

Here is her recipe with my tweaks in red.

1-1/2 cups warm water (use a thermometer and make sure it is 110°F)
1 Tbl honey
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbl active dry yeast (or 2 of those small packets)
3-1/2 to 4-1/2 cups flour

1. Combine the water, honey, salt and yeast in a glass bowl. Let sit for 5-10 mins. until there’s some bubbling, foam stuff on the top. (I combine the water, honey and salt first. Then I add the the yeast on top and make sure the yeast is wet. I let mine sit for the full 10 minutes).

2. Next, add a bunch of flour. I used just regular white organic flour. You want your dough to be sticking to itself, not your fingers. So, keep adding flour and keep kneading until that happens. (I start off with the 3-1/2 cups of flour. You want as little flour as possible in order to make sure it isn't too dense once baked. I have left it a bit sticky on my fingers and all has turned out well. ).

3. Form the dough into a loaf shape. Cover with a towel and let sit on the counter for 20 mins. This is the time to set the oven to 400 degrees. (I put my dough in the oven on the Warm setting instead of letting it sit on the counter. I seem to get a bigger loaf this way.) You can shape this into a typical French Loaf oblong shape if you prefer. I am going to try to cook this in a loaf pan next time!

4. After 20 mins., cut slits in the top and bake for 16-20 mins. (I do not cut the slits in the top and I do check the loaf with a quick knife stuck in the center to make sure it comes out clean. I cook mine for 18 minutes turning the oven to 400°F while letting the bread cook while the oven comes up to temperature).

Julie's Notes: "I’ve started adding garlic powder to the dough and sprinkling the top with oregano and some small pieces of butter to melt all over during the baking. Oh. My. Word."

I love being creative!

I really enjoy not working so that I have lots of time for my creative outlets. I love crochet, but I also enjoy cross-stitch and papercrafting. This year, I have a plan to learn embroidery and how to work with felt. I have to say that I have not been crafting to the seasons or working on my study of hygge as planned, but there are still nine months left in the year, so no worries!

I have worked on 3 baby blankets this year. I have only finished one and gifted it already. I made this for one of my husband's co-workers who is expecting her first grandbaby in a few months. It is the 6-Day Kid Blanket made of Lion Brand Mandala yarns.

I still need to add a border to this one and will be working on that within the week. It is a simple V-Stitch blanket made with some Mandala yarn as well. I love having this blanket on hand because it doesn't have to be a baby blanket ... I could gift it to anyone!

I have made this baby blanket for a past co-worker of mine expecting a girl. I love the way it looks when combining two yarns together at the same time!

I have to admit that I have a TON of yarn ... it's like a mini yarn store! I've been wanting to make a sort of scrap blanket, so got out a bunch of coordinating Papatya cakes from and a few Lion Brand mandala cakes to work on a simple stitch pattern. I am loving the result! I know who I want to gift this to, so will finish it in April as well.

I also have plans to make at least 3 more blankets this year - one for my son, finish one I started for my husband last fall and a blanket to coordinate with a quilt my mom made me last year and that will be used in my son's room (soon-to-be guest room) once he graduates college and moves out on his own. I've been working with this square called Painted Roses for the guest room blanket.

I do believe that I will have time to finish a few more crochet projects by year's end as well.

I also spent a little time this month making some cute Shrinky Dink stitch and hook markers for some online crochet friends. They came out great! I had so much fun repeating a craft that I enjoyed so much as a child.

An embroiderer I follow posted about two weeks ago that she is starting a Stitch-A-Long for The 12 Days of Christmas. I have been absolutely drooling over these patterns (order here on Etsy) since I stumbled upon them last year. They are gor-ge-ous!!!

So, I have purchased almost all of the supplies to make these beauties and will start on them next week. Look at the stunning stack of felt fabric that I ordered. Of course, I had to order more sets of colors than is needed for this project because it is soooooo pretty! (Order the felt needed for this project here.)

This may be an adventurous start for a new embroiderer, but I'm up to the task! To help me, the creator of the patterns has put up a very helpful webpage with lots of tips! After reading this page, I am sure I can do this even though it is my first embroidery/felt project.

The hard part about having a creative streak is that there are definitely more projects I want to complete than time available to do so! Almost daily I add crochet projects to my Ravelry favorites or I admire a beautiful item in an Instagram post. I probably just need to quit visiting these sites and spend more time creating!

The best part about being a crocheter is when new "squishy" mail arrives. Some new beautiful yarn arrived at my home this week! These are King Cole Curiosity (first 3 pics), James C Brett Northern Lights and then all 15 colors of the beautiful Scheepjes Our Tribe yarn. I have ideas for all of them ... just gotta find the time to work on some new projects!



So, it looks like I have a pretty busy spring & summer planned when it comes to my crafting. I sure hope I end up making a lot of pretty things this year! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Taking Care of My Skin - HydraFacial, SkinPen and MyChelle Dermaceuticals

I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I took a bit of a break, but I have a lot to share so will be playing a bit of catch up for the next few weeks!

One of my goals for 2018 is to make sure that my skin is being well taken care of. I must admit that I haven't maintained the best skincare routine over the past few years. I started off the year with a HydraFacial. It felt great and really made my skin feel different. My skin felt softer, looked brighter and the texture was better. My aesthetician and I had discussed last year what I wanted to do for my skin this year, so the next step was treatment with the SkinPen. I set up my three appointments with the first one to be in March.

I had two months between the facial and first SkinPen treatment, so I returned to using the skincare line by MyChelle Dermaceuticals that I had started using three years ago, but had been neglecting. Because I know that skin is our largest organ, I also know that it is important to use the best products on it because we don't want to add toxins to our body! From the website, "All MyChelle Dermaceutical products are Vegetarian, Cruelty-free, and Free of Phthalates, Parabens, Sulfates, Ureas, Artificial Fragrances and Colors, Petroleum, GMOs, and Gluten." You can read what they recommend for beauty regimens on their website.

I use their exfoliator (twice weekly), eye creams, several serums, Vitamin C Peel (once weekly), moisturizers and SPF lotions - I use most of their products for anti-aging. The difference in my skin from using the MyChelle products in the past two months is absolutely AMAZING! MyChelle is always running a sale on their products and they offer free shipping on purchases and returns if you aren't satisfied. You cannot go wrong trying them out. They have special prices on bundled items as well. I will continue using their products as long as I'm seeing results. MyChelle is also available at Whole Foods.

Then it was time for my first SkinPen treatment "Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is a minimally invasive skin rejuvenation procedure that helps minimize the signs of aging, improve the appearance of acne scars and rejuvenate aging skin." My main purpose in having the SkinPen procedures done on my face and neck is to induce collagen production. Numbing gel was applied and allowed to dry, but honestly I don't think it helped much. The procedure did hurt, I won't lie. I looked like I had a really bad sunburn afterwards.

My face felt so warm! I drove with the AC vents pointed towards my face to keep it cool. I was given some HA5 moisturizer to put on whenever my skin felt like it needed it, which was often! It didn't sting and relieved the tightness. I was also given a peptide mask to use the first night and it really helped my skin feel better before turning in to bed. I was still very red the next day and kept applying the HA5. The redness was gone on day 2 post procedure, but I had started peeling around my mouth. This peeling would eventually extend to most of my face. You can see the beginning peeling above my mouth below.

You can also see the condition/texture of my skin in the above photo. It is kinda bumpy/not smooth. This is one thing I am hoping to see improvement in once the SkinPen treatment is completed.

I waited until the 4th day post procedure to return to my skincare regimen and begin wearing makeup again. I am now one week post-procedure and most of the peeling has stopped. I have one area that was still peeling this morning. However, my skin is sooooo soft and smooth, especially my neck which had a lot of  "chicken skin" texture to it before.

It takes at least 14 days for the induction of collagen production. I am having three treatments one month apart. Once that is completed, I will assess the end result and decide what to do next. SkinPen is not permanent and maintenance treatments of every 4-12 months are recommended depending upon what the patient desires.

In doing my research on how to take care of aging skin, I have read the recommended list of items to use regularly to continue a collagen stimulation program at home.

- SkinPen is recommended at least every 12 months.
- Growth factor serum: My plastic surgeon recommends TNS Essential Serum. It is expensive, so
  I buy mine new from eBay. I have just started using this, but will report back my opinions once I
  am through the first bottle.
- Retinoid: I used the retinal products from MyChelle - Remarkable Retinal Serum, Night Cream and     eye cream
- Anti-oxidant serum: I use the Vitamin C products from MyChelle - right now, I am using the
   Perfect C 12% Lotion. I will move up to the Perfect C 17% serum next and then the Perfect C Pro       25% serum.
- Hyaluronic Acid moisturizer - I will continue to use the HA5 moisturizer and will also buy it at a        discount online.
- SPF of at least 30 - I use MyChelle's Sun Shield Liquid SPF 50 Tinted

Currently, I use an Estee Lauder foundation that I have used for many years because I like a matte finish. I am not sure if I will continue to use it once it is gone so will be on the lookout for a matte foundation that doesn't contain toxic ingredients. I use Bare Minerals makeup, except for my mascara. I will pop into Ulta and get a sample of the Bare Minerals foundation to try when it is time.

I still am not happy with the condition of the skin under my chin and on my neck. Here are two pictures showing that area.

The CoolSculpting got rid of a lot of fat, but I still have a double chin and I hate it. So, I am looking into a neck lift and will have two consults done this summer to determine if I am a candidate. I know I sound vain, but I don't want to live the second half of my life hating my neck. It just isn't worth it to me. I am waiting to see if the SkinPen has any effect on the appearance of my chin/neck before I make a final decision. If I have a neck lift done, I will share it here just as I did my tummy tuck.

So, that is an update on what I am doing to take care of my skin! If you have any questions about the procedures/treatments I have had done, I'm happy to answer any questions ... just leave a comment!