crafting, recipes

Nearly-Edible Beeswax Lip Balm

lip balm

Did anyone else go through a real obsession with diy beauty as a teen? For me it started with teen magazines. they were full of the standard recipes: avocado face mask! egg hair mask! (gross) soothing oatmeal bath! (always resulting in massive cravings for oatmeal afterwards). One time I found a recipe for lip balm that was basically just beeswax and olive oil. And it turned out amazing!

I used to use the beeswax you can buy as candle making supplies at any craft store, and that seemed to work ok. This time I lucked out when my parents asked their beekeeper friends if they had any spare beeswax and they did! So not only is this the purest beeswax I’ve ever used, but I basically know the bees who made it.

I‘ve played around with different colours and flavours over the years, but since my aim in this is to make something super natural and almost edible, I wanted to avoid anything too chemical. After all, isn’t there a statistic that women consume something like four pounds of lipstick in their lifetime? Gross.

One of my early attempts at flavouring was adding pixie stix to it, which was good in theory (and still edible!) but very gritty in practice. The lip balm is actually lovely with just beeswax and oil, it has a slight honey flavour and smell to it. This time I used a bit of peppermint essential oil and it’s quite nice and not overpowering. That, by the way, is a direct quote from my dad, who is obsessed with my lip balm and sent me numerous harassing emails demanding I make him some more!

lip balm 101 lip balm 101

lip balm 101 lip balm 101

Nearly-Edible Beeswax & Coconut Lip Balm

Melt in a double boiler:

  • 8 teaspoons coconut oil (or olive oil)

  • 4 teaspoons beeswax (as finely chopped as you can get)

When it’s melted down to a liquid, add 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil. Pour into tins and allow to harden.

Reusing old lip balm containers will work fine, but if you really want to up your adorableness game, you buy these adorable metal tins here. So cute, right? If I was craftier I would have designed a label for them, but alas, I don’t even own a printer.


Shutterbean’s Sweet Pea Pasta

pasta post

Because Will works much later than I do (and has an extra long commute to boot), we usually have dinner around 7:30 or 8. And by that time I’m usually starving and I’ve passed the point of no-return with my hunger. You know, the point where you’re too hungry to cook so you end up like, eating cheese directly out of the fridge or ordering a pizza out of desperation? The key that I’ve found to surviving this is to make dinner as much ahead of time as possible (that, and snacking excessively when I get home from work). Casseroles are good for this, but I also like the kind of meals where you can do all the prep work ahead of time. This pasta is a perfect example of that: you do all the chopping and measuring and grating ahead of time and then the dish comes together in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta. Delicious!

I added some spinach to Tracy’s recipe, partially out of a desire to eat more vegetables and partially because I had some spinach slowly wilting in the fridge and I felt quite sorry for it. I also subbed the mint for basil because it happened to be what I had in my tiny herb garden.

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Shutterbean’s Sweet Peas and Shells Alfredo (original recipe)

Serves 2.

  • 2.5 cups dried shell pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1.5 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup chiffonaded basil
  • fresh pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, adding the peas within the last two minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, gather the other ingredients. Once the pasta is drained, add the butter and cream to the pot and cook over a low heat until slightly thickened. Add parmesan, lemon zest, basil and pepper. Once the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick, add the drained pasta and peas. Add the spinach and stir until it wilts. Serve with more fresh ground pepper and parmesan.


Eating Granola in Your Happy Place

granola 101

Last week I had my very first MRI. No need to panic you guys, it was for a psychology study that an internet acquaintance was recruiting for. One of the first questions on the questionnaire to qualify was, “Have you ever been claustrophobic?” and my immediate response was “Pssh, no! I love small spaces. I’m like that cat that hides under the bed when it gets scared.”

But it turns out that MRI’s are a whole new ballgame in terms of inducing claustrophobia. For one, you’re basically strapped onto the bed. Logically I know this was so I wouldn’t move and blur the images, but it just made me instantly anxious. How was I going to get out if there was like, an emergency? And then it’s also VERY VERY LOUD. Picture construction noises, but happening all around your head, for 10 or 20 minutes at a time!

The MRI technician was definitely more of a researcher than a clinical psychologist and I just didn’t find him particularly reassuring. I confessed that I was finding it more nerve-wracking than I initially thought it would be, and his response was just, “Oh are you? Hmm.” like I’d just been sharing my weekend plans and not the fact that being in the MRI was making me feel crazy. As they set me up for my second session, he said, “Are you going on any holidays this summer? Maybe concentrate on that.” And since I’m not going on any holidays, I decided to think about my favourite thing. And what immediately came to mind was… grocery shopping. I knew I would have to stop for groceries on the way home, so I mentally walked the aisles of a grocery store, thinking about what I’d like to get for dinner and what I should cook for my first post here.

My love of grocery shopping is probably partially an appreciation for order and routine, but I think a big part of it is based in nostalgia. Going to a rural high school meant that I took a two hour bus ride home every afternoon, except on days when my mom came into town to get groceries. Those were my absolutely favourite days; to be rescued from the nausea-inducing gravel roads was one thing, but then to get some delicious snacks out of the deal, the best! And my mom was really good at grocery shopping. Unlike my dad, who preferred to assign everyone one item to ostensibly speed things up (“You! Orange juice. You! Hamburger buns! Meet at the cash in five minutes!”), my mom knew that you needed to go down every aisle, in order.

So as the MRI buzzed and clicked and hummed around me, I thought about the produce section. I pictured bags of fresh cherries and stacks of fuzzy peaches, rows of Ontario asparagus soaking in water. I decided I needed to make something that would complement the fresh fruits that are just slowly coming into season here. And I knew it was time to make some granola.

granola 101 granola 101
granola 101 granola 101

granola 101

Pamplemoussi’s Granola

Officially this is my mom’s recipe for granola (but “Pamplemoussi’s Mom’s Granola” just doesn’t have the same ring to it). I have tweaked it a bit though. For instance: she loves raisins, I do not, so I used currents instead (although I only added them after baking so I could keep half the granola current-free).

Preheat oven to 325°. Combine in a bowl:

  • 3 cups oats (quick cook and regular oats both work)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup almonds (although any combination of nuts will work here. Pecans and macadamia nuts are particularly delicious!)

Mix together:

  • 1/4 cup melted butter (or coconut oil, canola oil, etc if you want to be vegan/healthy about it. This time I did half butter and half coconut oil which really adds to the coconutty flavour)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Pour the liquid over the oat mixture, stir until coated. Spread out on two cookie sheets, and bake for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. If you want to add raisins (yuck) or dried fruit, add them once everything else is cooked. Voila! My favourite thing to eat it with are fresh peaches, but these Ontario strawberries were pretty darn good too.