Monday, 23 May 2011

Limoncello Update

If you read my previous post about making homemade Limoncello , I am here to give you an update.  After 23 days of resting in a cool place, out of the sun, my husband and I did a taste test of the vibrantly yellow, clear liquid.  Since you need only 1-2 oz. to taste, we have PLENTY left over for apres dinner sipping on hot summer nights.

The taste test results:

The limoncello remained very clear, with a nice strong yellow colour.  Upon opening the bottle, a lovely, refreshing citrus (yet very alcohol smelling) scent wafted out.  At first taste, it a had a very smooth flavour which was thoroughly infused with the lemon without being overwhelmingly citrus.  However, it is upon swallowing you really get the full flavour of the liqueur.  There is a lovely warming sensation that follows the taste, as well as a residual essence of lemon left in your mouth (when I talk of the lemon taste, its more of a spiced, mellow lemon flavour which is really lovely, rather than a pucker-worthy citrus taste).  While the liqueur is essentially pure vodka, it has an over all sweet flavour which, I am told, gets sweeter the longer you leave it "curing". 

All in all, I am VERY happy with the way the Limoncello worked out; I would DEFINITELY recommend that you try making this at home, as the taste is DEFINITELY worth the work, and the wait!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Rescue!

In our hometown we have a store called the "Architectural Clearing House" which is a compilation of reclaimed building parts from houses and buildings that have been demolished.  There are rows upon rows of old doors, plumbing pieces, handles, old porcelain toilets, windows, the list goes on and on.  In an attempt to get people to reuse these items that would have normally gone to the dump, they are offered at very low prices...like a whole window for $15.



My husband and I bought a house that was built in 1968, and thus, had the interior of a house built in 1968.  The previous owners (an older couple) left it in its original format, in all its' retro glory.  When my husband and I moved in, we gave the house an overhaul, but parts of the old form still remain, waiting patiently for their turn to be updated.

Having an eclectic style and a knack for DIY projects, my husband decided that this weekend it was time to tackle the dreaded diamond divider.


While a nice piece in its day, it no longer fits into our plans for the house as WE see it; this is where the Architectural Clearing House comes in.  In our meandering up and down the aisles of this junk wonderland, we happened across a rustic old window painted a fascinating green on one side, and a demure brown on the other:


My husband, being the handy guy he is, cleaned the window with vinegar (worked like a CHARM!), removed the dreaded diamonds, and worked some sort of system to suspend this window in their place.  The result was a fun new look for our divider!  The green is an accent colour in other aspects of the house, so it adds a nice punch of colour to the area. 


All in all it was a simple, successful update to our dated divider, and we were able to rescue an old window from its landfill demise! 

What do you think of the update?  Have you done any upcycling DIY projects in your house?  Share below!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Wordless Wednesday! --Wind Edition

In honour of the windy day outside my window, a picture of our trip to Scotland and how they use the wind to their advantage!


Monday, 9 May 2011

Radiance Mineral Cosmetics Giveaway **CLOSED**

Radiance Mineral Cosmetics was created by Leigh Polidoro in Beaumont, Alberta, Canada.  As an aesthetician and makeup artist, Leigh had always had an interest in the health and beauty industry, but never pursued any of her ideas until she experienced trouble with rosacea and adult acne in her late 20’s.  Leigh began experimenting with different brands of mineral makeup and loved it, but found she was still experiencing breakouts and irritation.  When she started to research mineral makeup, she discovered all the hidden chemicals, preservatives, and cheap fillers that many companies use.  Deciding she could create her own affordable, 100% pure mineral makeup, Radiance Mineral Cosmetics was formed in the fall of 2007.  Originally experimenting with eye shadows, Leigh created her first (and most popular) shade, “Fairy Dust”; the line has since grown into 9 foundations, 4 blushes, 25 eye shadows, 6 lip glazes, and more.

Radiance Mineral Cosmetics are made with all natural 100% pure minerals.   The products are free of all parabens, synthetic fragrances, filler, and chemical dyes, all of which are all irritants, and things that you should avoid putting on or in your body.  Since minerals are inert, microorganisms are unable to grow in these cosmetics, which means reduced cross contamination of powders.  All Radiance Mineral Cosmetics are oil free as well, which means they don’t clog pores.  This is GREAT for acne prone, oily skin like mine.

Leigh has ensured that Radiance Mineral Cosmetics are free of fillers like talc, cornstarch, and Bismuth Oxychloride.  All of these fillers can clog pores, and Bismuth Oxychloride, which is a by-product of copper and lead refining, can irritate and cause itchiness to the skin and thus should be avoided.  The three main ingredients in these cosmetics are: Titanium dioxide, Zinc oxide and Mica.  Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide are both natural sun protectors and provide the makeup with approximately SPF 15-20.  These two minerals also have natural anti-inflammatory properties, making this makeup ideal for people who have acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.

As I learned when testing this makeup, Radiance Mineral Cosmetics can be used wet or dry to achieve a variety of looks.  The powdered minerals can also function as liners, or added to clear lip gloss or nail polish to find that perfect colour.  Since it can be mixed with water, or other gels and fluids, Leigh even suggested mixing the powdered foundation with a medicated acne cream as a quick blemish concealer.  It is very very versatile stuff!

It’s Radiance Mineral Cosmetics' goal to provide their products (foundations, concealers, blushes, bronzers, primers, veils, eye shadows, lip glazes, and facial spritz) at a price everyone can afford.

As someone who has used the SAME liquid foundation her entire life, and has never really 1) thought it worked well or 2) been good at applying it, Leigh’s suggestion that I try her mineral makeup came as a new adventure.  As I said before, I have struggled with oily, acne prone skin my whole life, which makes wearing makeup vital at times. 

Leigh hooked me up with a very generous starter package including: a Radiance Mineral Cosmetics Exfoliating Cloth, foundation, blush, 2 eye shadows, and facial spritz.  




As soon as I applied the makeup, I could feel the difference between this and my old liquid foundation.  The mineral makeup felt light and breezy on my skin, and it was very easy to brush on using a large makeup brush.  The foundation covered REALLY well, and blended in really nice into the skin on my face and neck.  I also used a damp Q-tip to apply some of the powder directly on blemishes which pretty much made them disappear instantly!  (I seriously cannot stress how exciting this was, for someone who has had so much trouble with acne!).  After laying down the foundation, I gave myself a quick brush over with some of the blush which was a gorgeous rosy colour, but I learned that less is more, as you don’t need much to cover the apples of your cheeks!  At this point I gave my face a spritz with the facial spritz to help set the mineral makeup, and then I put on some of the gorgeous "Brown Sugar" eyeshadow for a perfectly put together look that I felt SO comfortable in.  I also experimented with mixing the "Brown Sugar" and "Cafe Latte" eye shadows I received to create different varieties of colours.  The mineral eye shadows have such a gorgeous sheen to them that they reflect many different colours at once, which is REALLY beautiful.  I think I'm in love.  After experimenting with eyeshadow I dabbed on some of the mineral lip gloss which was SO shiny and rich on my lips, and I was ready to head out for anything!  As I wore the makeup throughout the day, I also noticed that it didn’t start to slide around on my face like my old makeup.  After a week of wearing it, I noticed that it did not clog my pores, or have any poor results on my skin, which means that this is the makeup I plan to keep using from here on out! 




Radiance Minerals Cosmetics and Skin FX have been kind enough to offer the same makeup set to one lucky reader (2 eyeshadow, 1 foundation, 1 blush, 1 lip glaze, 1 facial spritz, and 1 exfoliating cloth ($117.00 value))

We also have a promotional code for you to use at http://www.skinfx.ca/ if you would like to purchase some products for yourself at a 10% discount.  The promo code is:
WHOLESOMEABODE

Please read the rules and regulations of this site’s giveaway policies here and then start entering!
This giveaway is open from May 9 to May 26, 2011.
This giveaway is open to THE USA & CANADA only.
PLEASE ensure you have a valid email address entered on EACH comment.


To enter
MANDATORY ENTRY:  -“Like” Wholesome Abode on Facebook and visit www.skinfx.ca and pick one product or product colour you like and mention it in a comment below.


Extra entries
-Follow @skinfxinc on Twitter
-“Like" Skinfx on Facebook
-Purchase something on www.skinfx.ca using the promo code WHOLESOMEABODE (5 entries)
-Follow @wholesomeabode on Twitter
-Become a GFC follower of this blog

-Tweet this contest and tag @wholesomeabode (max. 1 tweet per day). Leave the permalink in the comments section. (1 entry each tweet) You can use the following tweet:

Win a set of 100% pure mineral makeup valued at $117 from @WholesomeAbode 

http://bit.ly/lUqQFn (ends 5/26) #makeup #eco #green #giveaway

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Success! Maybe?

This is what I awoke to today.


Now, as this is my first year of gardening, I can't tell if this is actually sprouting from my seeds (this seems to have happened much faster than I would have expected) or if it's some sort of weed that was in the soil already that has now decided to grow. 

Regardless, I am very excited that ANYTHING is growing, and hopefully it truly IS my lettuce!

Anyone have experience with lettuce?  Would it be starting to grow after only 5 days?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A Word Addition to Wordless Wednesday...

By special request for Stacey, here is the recipe for the Cranberry Lemon loaf seen in the picture.  As the recipe seems to change every time I make it, I hope it works for you!

Cranberry Lemon Loaf 
This will make 2 loaves.  This recipe can be halved if you only want to make one loaf.

Butter/margarine      1/2 cup
Sugar                          2 cup
Eggs                            2
Lemon juice                 ~1 cup plus some extra splashes

Flour                           4 cups

Baking powder           3 tsp
Baking Soda               1 tsp
Salt                             1 tsp
Fresh or frozen whole cranberries  3 cups (about 1 bag)


Combine butter, sugar, eggs and beat until smooth, add lemon juice and stir until homogeneous.

In other bowl measure flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in cranberries and then add this mixture to wet mixture and stir until JUST moistened.  (sometimes, depending on the "extra splashes" of lemon juice, this seems to be a drier, chunky mixture, but the end result is still tasty)



Scrape into greased pan or parchment paper coated pans.  Bake at 350 degrees F for ~1 hour (I usually add about 6 minutes but generally just keep it baking until it gets the desired texture/brown-ness on top)



Sorry for the unprecise-ness of this recipe, as I say, it changes every time I make it, but always find it delicious!  This is a lovely tart loaf that goes nice with a cup of tea, or for breakfast on the go.  Use freshly squeezed lemons for a REALLY lovely taste.

A Tasty Wordless Wednesday!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Shorten your shower, get your groove on!

If you're anything like me, you might find it hard to keep track of time once you get into that glorious shower.  Limiting your time in the shower can greatly decrease the amount of water that you use though, and so it should be a goal of each of us to try and keep our water use down.  Without a water-saver shower head, up to 159L (42 gallons) of water can be used in one 10 minute shower!  This is an INSANE amount of water waste.

Because of this, there are a few simple steps to take to ensure you still get your bathe-on, without wasting ridiculous amounts of water.  Consider the following:

Get yourself a low-flow shower head.  This can decrease up to HALF the amount of water used (depending on the model).

Another easy way to decrease your water use is to simply decrease your shower time.  Aim to take a 5 min or less shower to IMMEDIATELY halve your water usage.  Sometimes it's hard to keep track of how long you've been in the shower, so help yourself out...set a timer!  Or better yet, I pick my favourite song, start is as I'm about to get into the shower, groove to the tunes while showering, and then get out when the song is over.  I have found this to be the most effective way to limit my shower time.  Plus a good beat helps speed you up on those early mornings.

This is my favourite choice for a morning shower song; clocking in at 4:41, it's the PERFECT length!



Hope you found these easy tips useful, and I hope it helps you cut back on your water consumption!  What do you do to limit your shower time?  Got a favourite tune?  Comment below!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Make Homemade Limoncello!

I love a little after dinner treat, and when my husband and I were recently in London we discovered Limoncello at a cute Italian restaurant on the Thames.  We split a couple 2 oz. servings and were HOOKED!

When we got home, we discovered that it is quite an expensive alcohol, not to mention there are various ways it can be made, so some types are more sugary than others, whereas others are significantly more bitter.  Since I have been on a bit of a roll for taking on new projects and trying new things lately, I thought to myself "Why not try and make your own limoncello?"

I was very interested to learn that there is NO lemon juice in limoncello, only the peel of the fruit.  The alcohol becomes infused with the essential oil found in the lemon skin, and the colour and flavour of the drink are imparted from this.

I used a combination of recipes, tips, and information from various people and sources on the internet, and here is the breakdown of how MY version of Limoncello came to be.

Limoncello

-Purchase 12 large (or 14-15 small) organic lemons and 1 lime

-Using a scrubbing brush, wash the lemons and lime thoroughly

-Zest the lemons and the lime into an airtight container.
IMPORTANT: avoid getting the pith into the zest as this will cause a bitter flavour in the limoncello.

-If you are in a country/area where 100 proof (50%) vodka is available, add one bottle.  In my case I just used one bottle of "regular" 80 proof (40%) vodka.

-At this point, leave this mixture of zest and vodka for 30-45 days, or until you notice that the colour of the liquid is no longer becoming deeper and more yellow.  Its fascinating to see how quickly the liquid begins to take on a yellow colour from the peel.  Don't worry if the liquid looks cloudy on top, this will be removed in the filtering step.



-Once you think all the essence has been taken up by the alcohol from the peels, filter the mixture through a #4 coffee filter


-Once filtered, make and add simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves).  For my batch, I used a 2 cup water : 2 cup sugar ratio

-Heat the sugar/water on the stove until the sugar fully dissolves.


-Add this to the mixture, and then add one more bottle of your favourite (80 proof/40%) vodka.  This should make ~2  750ml bottles.  Aliquot into airtight bottles, and let sit for another ~45 day.  Apparently the longer you leave it, the better it is!  Some people even make it in the winter and let it sit until the summer...but as this is my first batch, we will be cracking it open in July for a taste!


Enjoy!  Comment below if you have tried limoncello, make your own, or use the recipe!