Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Changing Weather, Changing Skin

One of the downsides to fall is the changing temperatures.  Something that I've noticed is that, as the temperatures change, so does my skin.  Now, understandably, that also has to do with aging and hormonal processes.

I used to have really great skin.  REALLY great. I hardly ever broke out, even in high school, when that tends to be the norm.  When I was pregnant with both of my kids, it still looked good...

Now, however, for some reason, not so much.  I wash my brushes regularly, I switch out my makeup sponges, clean my phone and phone case, and I still break out.  My skin has gotten much more oily - and not just in the usual T-Zone area.  So.  I've been in search of a good facial... store bought, homemade, doesn't matter.

After doing some reading, initially, there were several articles that said I needed to use a clay based facial, because it would absorb the oil.  Well, wouldn't that just cause my skin to make more oil?  So, I tried a St. Ives brand clay mask.  It was okay.  Wasn't great, and my skin felt incredibly dry after doing it, and I didn't leave it on over the amount of time suggested.

Next, this evening, I decided to go the "natural" route and used a recipe that I found on  This was a simple Banana facial.  I actually found this one to be better than the St. Ives product.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 very very ripe banana (think what you would use to make banana bread
1 tbsp (or a substantial squeeze from a squeezy bear)
Squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange juice

Mix well, apply to face.  It will have a soupy consistancy, and I used cotton balls to apply it, and used several coats.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Then wipe off with a really warm, wet washcloth.  It's been about 3 hours since I took it off, and so far so good.  I doubt that I'm done trying home facials, but I do like this one and will certainly do it again!

Need a recipe for another skin type, or maybe just a refresher?  Check out this site! has a bunch of different recipes for homemade facials.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It's Recipe Day!

Okay, so in celebration of my favorite season... and that I like making winter food SO much better than making summer food, here are two recipes - one that I've had for nearly forever (cut out of The Oregonian years ago) and is my very favorite fall recipe and the other began life as a Vegan Black Bean soup recipe.

Alright, number one...

Pumpkin Banana Bread
(Makes One 9x5" loaf... trust me, double the recipe)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup shortening (if you want a richer flavor, use the butter flavored variety)
2 eggs
2 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I like to do half wheat/half unbleached)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I usually just put a bunch in...)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350, and grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan
In a large bowl, mix sugar and shortening, then beat in eggs, bananas, pumpkin, and vanilla - mix well.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and nuts.  Add to pumpkin mixture.
Spoon batter into pan and top with halved walnuts or pecans.  Bake for 55-65 minutes, and let cool for 10 minutes.

Notes from me... I don't usually put the nuts in.  I pop in some dried cranberries or raisins instead.  We aren't huge nut fans in breads at our house, or I will only use 1/4 cup and chop them very finely.

The next one is a Black Bean Chicken Chili... this started life as a vegan black bean soup (many thanks to Kala from for the original recipe!) and is awfully tasty as that, but my family are "meat-a-voires" as my nine year old says...

Vegan Black Bean Soup/Black Bean Chicken Chili

The basic recipe:
2 lbs dry black beans
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa
1 tbs crushed chilis (I used the green ones for flavor without the spicy)
1/2 tsp black pepper (I think I used more)
1 medium bell pepper - chopped
1 large onion - chopped
4 cloved of minced garlic
3 tsp salt
9 cups water

Place in Crock Pot and cook on high for 6-7 hours.  Voila! Done!  Tips:  If you want it soupier leave out 1/2 of the black beans.

Add ons to make it into chili!
2 cooked, diced chicken breasts
1 large can of tomato sauce
1 palm of paprika
1 envelope of taco or fajita seasoning

Add into the soup near the end of the cook time, and there you go!  Top with some cheddar cheese and serve!  Also, there are members of my crew who like things extra spicy.  We usually tend to go for chipotle seasoning, so the Tabasco brand of Chipotle sauce is a great addition for a yummy, smokey flavor.