For a good night’s rest…

My bed is old. Well, specifically the mattress.

We bought it when I was pregnant with Eva and still living in Switzerland. It is a dense foam mattress from IKEA and was a step up from the one Nil was using. On hindsight, I should have settled for a spring mattress. They last way better and are much more firmer. These days, I can feel myself rolling in towards the center – a sign that it’s time to replace this.

I saw some pretty good ones from www.tranquilitymattress.com and wonder if I can get anything similar here for a decent price. While I can still sleep pretty okay on this, I have a strange feeling that if I continue using this, my back will start to go!!!!

What about you? What sort of mattress are you using?

Continue Reading

Calendula Frosting (Whipped Shea Butter)

Calendula Frosting (Whipped Shea Butter)

Chamomile Frosting (Whipped Shea Butter)
Contents | Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Calendula-infused Sunflower Oil (Helianthus annuus) and Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Calendula Powder

I had to be very careful when formulating this as this is for Noah and meant to replace his current calendula cream. He has eczema, if I haven’t mentioned it before so I can’t just put in anything I like. It could just cause a flare-up and I definitely don’t want that. So I settled with what he has been exposed to – Shea butter, sunflower oil and so forth.

I left this unscented so the only scent I get is from the calendula – I used dried calendula petals and ground them up as finely as I could before adding them to my shea butter. Then I added in a calendula oil infusion – basically calendula petals soaked in a blend of sunflower and sweet almond oil. I made this infusion a few days ago and it sat in my slow cooker for over 12 hours before cooling down and sitting in the oil for a further two days.

Why these three oils?

Well, I read that Shea butter has anti-inflammatory benefits and can aid in cell regeneration, healing as well as offers some degree of protection against the sun’s UV rays, while sweet almond oil is soothing, easily absorbed and gentle, making it suitable for babies or adults with sensitive skin. Sunflower oil contains high amounts of Vitamin E, fatty acids and antioxidants and is non-comedogenic.

You may not be able to see it here but the texture is very much like the previous frosting I made for Eva – very fluffy and airy. The picture you see is the frosting fresh from whipping – it needs to set for at least 12-24 hours before first use but I couldn’t resist. Hehehe.

Like the previous frosting, it is a rich cream and I hope will do wonders for his dry and flaky skin. The lotions I have been using for him don’t last long – I reckon they are just too light – and I find myself putting more and more each time. I didn’t make much; just enough for a 150ml container. As usual, I didn’t have any on hand and used two 110ml glass hermetic sealed jars I bought earlier.

Can’t wait to try this on him tomorrow! Hopefully his skin condition will get better with frequent use of this! *keeps fingers crossed*

Continue Reading

Updates on Chamomile Frosting

Chamomile Frosting: After setting

About 12 hours later, this is how Chamomile Frosting looks like.

It’s a little softer than pure shea butter and definitely airy – I could hear the air pockets going squish as I tried to spoon it out. I might put in a little bit more carrier oils to make it softer but overall, I like this formula. Melts on the skin immediately and no grains!

I am so tempted to buy some unrefined and/or luxury butters and play around with the mix but I have a funny feeling that Nil isn’t going to be all that happy with me adding more to my soap stash! Anyway, this – if stored and used properly (no water or dirty fingers) – should last for at least 3-6 months.

Continue Reading

Chamomile Frosting (Whipped Shea Butter)

Chamomile Frosting (Whipped Shea Butter)

Chamomile Frosting (Whipped Shea Butter)
Contents | Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Chamomile-infused Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Macadamia Nut Oil (Macadamia ternifolia), Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Grapeseed Oil (Vitis vinifera), Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus armeniaca), Rosemary Oleoresin (Rosmarinus officinalis, Oleum), Chamomile Powder, Essential oils (Geranium, Chamomile, Lavender).

I have been spending a bomb on creams since I arrived here, namely for myself and the kids. With Noah’s sensitive skin and eczema flares (now under control thanks to some calendula cream), Eva’s dry skin coupled with my own increasingly dry skin, we can spend up to €50 on creams every two months (at this rate, I’d be spending enough to buy e-readers (anyone looked up the kobo ereader reviews?)). Noah’s concoction, especially, isn’t cheap since I can only get it from organic stores. After taking a look at the ingredients list and discussing with my hubby, I decided to dig into my soapmaking supplies and see what I could come up with, especially when my calendula petals arrived in the mailbox today.

After scouting the Internet for ideas and techniques, I finally decided on a formulation for Eva. She has been using my soaps so I know it’s safe to make a butter with the same oils I use in my soap since she hasn’t shown any reaction to it. My recipe is loosely taken from a few formulas from the Internet, which include this one here and here. It took me about half an hour to 45 minutes to whip up some lovely body butter – I made enough for a 250- or 300-ml container. My pot can only take up to 200ml of butter so the remainder went into a glass jar we used for storing homemade jam (that is another story altogether – homemade jam beats commercial jam ANY TIME!).

I tried it on my skin immediately and I like how it feels, very moisturizing and rich. Scent-wise, I love it. I mildly scented this with some of my favourite essential oils and two hours later, there is still a slight lingering geranium scent with a lavender & chamomile undertone. Very relaxing and soothing!

I don’t think it’ll be suitable for use on her face though – could be too heavy – and I don’t want to make an emulsion (oil and water) because emulsions need some form of preservative (that have to be anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant). Too much work, too many steps – they require more time for me to research, digest and more materials/packaging to buy.

Anyway, up next will be some creams for Noah since I’m fast running out of the calendula balm that I’ve been using for him. I’ll be adding in infused olive oil together with some calendula powder – all homemade. I could add a few other oils (I order 10ml bags of different oils for making butters and pots) but I’ll need to do a patch test to see if he has an allergy to them. Will definitely see how it goes when that happens.

Looks like I’ll have plenty of handmade Christmas/birthday/baptism/whatever gift ideas! Hehehe.

Continue Reading

Sinful-ness!

Sinful (Pork) Meatballs

I had a massive craving for pork meatballs the other day and decided to act on it. It was the first time I deep fried anything since coming to France – my mum deep frying during my confinement is not the same thing. Since my move to Switzerland, I don’t really eat a lot of deep fried foods at home (in Singapore, it’s different because you can BUY deep fried stuff – bad though). It’s messy to clean up and well, the whole house stinks of oil after you’re done.

But I was craving for some yumminess and decided to get my once-in-a-couple-of-months oil intake in the form of these meatballs. Think of it as a form of food gifts to myself! So after some prep time – I cheated using a food processor and made my own pork mince on top of the veg (carrots, spring onions, green apple and mushrooms) – and an hour of frying (GAWD), I had A LOT of meatballs to chow down on. Even had enough to make a meatball pasta sauce for the next day.

However, I had enough of the frying – the clean up is terrible (I still have that pot of oil lying around and mind you, I used like 1 liter of oil just for this!). So am definitely going out to get myself a gadget like the Phillips AirFryer. Seb has something similar to the Tefal ActiFryer but I read that it’s fragile and after a while, is prone to catching fire. So far, no such news with the Phillips model. It’s much smaller than the Seb one (max is 800 gms while the Seb has 1 kg and 1.5 kg models) though. But yes, it is a definite buy, especially when I’m making my own meatballs.

Continue Reading

Summer Strawberry Cake

Summer Strawberry Cake

Deb from smitten kitchen calls it a strawberry summer cake; lack of brain cells resulted in me calling it a summer strawberry cake. Same but different.

I took the shortcut way out and cream butter that came out straight from the fridge with brown sugar. The trouble with the sugar I use is that it takes forever to “melt” so every time I do any creaming with butter, it either takes forever or it clumps up – no matter how soft or hard my butter is. As such, the resulting batter was a little bordering on soft cookie dough which resulted in some addition of milk just to make it a little bit more fluid and easy to pour into the pan. Still, it was a super thick batter – I might just revisit this recipe again and tweak it a little.

I also cut back on the sugar – using about 3/4 cup of brown sugar instead which made for a not-too sweet cake. I reckon this would go great with some hot ginger tea or even cool ice lemon tea, if you like. My hubby would have it with his morning coffee. Eva enjoyed downing a slice for breakfast – it wasn’t too dry and the strawberries on the top gave it a nice visual effect. All in all, a good outcome for this recipe. If anything, the fact that I have about one quarter left within 24 hours is a good indication that everyone likes it although it’s not exactly fab for the waistline (time to dig out my yoga mat bag and get cracking again!)!

Summer Strawberry Cake
From Smitten Kitchen’s recipe here

Ingredients

1/2 cup gms butter
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
450 gms strawberries, hulled and halved

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a 9″ DEEP cake pan.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder together in a small bowl until well incorporated. In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined before adding the flour/baking powder mix gradually.
  3. Mix until just smooth (take care to not overbeat – it’ll result in a dense cake).
  4. Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer before sprinkling some sugar over the berries (optional).
  5. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 170°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 55 minutes.
  6. Cool in the pan on a rack. Once ready, cut and serve on its own or with some whipped cream – if you’re all for indulging in a sinful treat!

Summer Strawberry Cake

Continue Reading

A simple meal…

Stir fried glass noodles with egg omelette strips

When I’m having one of those crazy days, I whip up one-pot meals in the form of either fried rice or noodles and garnish them with some salad leaves or strips of egg omelette. Yes, I have become that un-adventurous and mayhaps even lazy when it comes to cooking. Ohhorror. I have taken to surfing my favourite cooking sites just to get an idea of what to prepare for lunch and dinner.

The shortlisted recipes include the following:

  • Turkey meatloaf – recipe here
  • Pasta e fagioli – recipe here (this looks extremely yummy!)
  • Warm lentil salad with sausage – recipe here (I might make this tomorrow since I already have the lentils. I have some sausage but will check with Nil if I can use those instead of smoked sausage.)
  • Strawberry summer cake – recipe here (tomorrow’s dessert…since we have strawberries!)
  • Roast chicken with dijon sauce – recipe here
  • Meatball subs with caramelised onions – recipe here (looks awesomely yummy!)

I seriously need to be inspired to cook. Funny how I have no issues being inspired to make soap. Hai.

Continue Reading