Pumpkin Ice Cream to die for…and awaiting the results of Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

Spending a warm, Saturday afternoon making use of two leftover apples in our fridge.  We are watching Anchorman on TV as the Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake from Pinch of Yum has twenty-five minutes left on the timer.  It smells amazing so I will advise of the results shortly ♥

Earlier this week, in celebration of my visiting Mom, I made Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from Chef Nick Holcomb on the Food Network website.  Hugo, Mom and I ate several servings (a day) of this delicious recipe and I am happy to report this just might be the best ice cream I have ever had.  I used Pacific Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree, rather than fresh pumpkin, and it turned out beyond perfect.  Not only did it check the ‘festive’ box, in honor of Halloween this week, but it hit a delicious, perfectly spiced note in our hearts.

Although my Dad doesn’t make too many super sweet desserts anymore, after developing type II diabetes and drastically altering his diet, I carry on his love of cooking, baking and preparing food for the ones you love with your bare hands.  I love the process of baking, love the sweet smells emanating from the kitchen through the entire house and love even more the feeling of making Hugo’s belly full and pleased.  And that is all sure to be accomplished just as soon as this apple cake comes out of the oven.

Glowing skin

One of my favorite daily rituals (that sometimes occurs several times a day) is washing my face and caring for my skin.  My process begins with removing my makeup, if it happens to be the end of a long work day, by way of a cleaning towel or makeup remover.  Then, I scrub my face with whatever cleanser I happen to have in my rotation that month.  I tend to buy different cleaners, from either Origins, Whole Foods or Amazon, but they always fall under the same category of being chemical-free and possessing as many organic ingredients as possible.  I am always sure to thoroughly read the ingredients on every label, as well as the fine print.  This is an important step that I feel a lot of women tend to overlook since they may be more concerned with a desired outcome, such as anti-aging or acne, than what is actually in the product.  My philosophy has always been to value the quality of skin products just as highly as you value the quality of the food going into your mouth.  After all, your skin is your largest organ so it should be treated with love and respect.

After cleaning, I pat my skin dry and sometimes (yes, only sometimes), I use a light toner to remove excess dirt and grimy makeup residue.  Then it’s on to my favorite part – moisturizing!  I can’t tell you how many times, especially in recent years, I have found myself yelling to Hugo in the house about how much I am enjoying applying moisturizer to my face and neck (I will get back to the importance of moisturizing your neck in a minute).  There’s just something so enjoyable about cleansing and properly moisturizing a clean face that brings joy to my heart ♥  It makes me feel refreshed and beautiful – who couldn’t ask for a better way to start or end every day.

Keeping up with my healthy skin regimen really improves my glow and overall complexion.  Over the past month, several women that I work with have told me that my skin is glowing and it looks beautiful.  It feels really nice to be told that and I normally attribute my clear skin to what I am eating (organic, balanced diet) and my skincare regimen.  But tonight it occurred to me, I have been doing one other little thing that I completely forgot about – using argan oil mixed in with my moisturizer.

I bought a little bottle of organic argan oil about six months ago, after hearing about its beneficial applications for skin, hair and nails.  At times I will rub a few drops in my palms and finger-comb it through my hair, rub it over my eyebrows and massage the rest into my hands and fingernail beds.  It feels nice but it makes you look as if you have super oily, un-showered hair.  That’s normally alright though because I will just do it right before bed and then wake up to shower it out.

Since I have had this same bottle of argan oil hanging around on the bathroom counter for months, slowly chipping away at it, I decided to start mixing it with my tried-and-true Alba hawaiian facial moisturizer.  Hugo and I have been using that face cream for years and it is truly fabulous – lightweight, clean and refreshing.  Now, I cranked it up a notch with a few drops of argan oil and the results have been noticeable to those around me.

Final note – always moisturize your neck!  I will never forget reading a short article years ago about the importance for women, and men for that matter, to always give love to their neck skin throughout their lives.  Point being that we tend to give a lot of attention to our face in general, eye area and crows feet, and mouth and smile lines, yet the neck sometimes get forgotten.  Then, in later years, there may be a stark contrast between the face and neck skin.  I am firmly committed to always thoroughly moisturizing my neck and I am sure to remind Hugo that one day in the future, when I am a svelte seventy-five year old vixen, my neck will be flawless to match!

Pound cake for Tootie

I picked up the remains of Kaiser today and brought him home.  His ashes, tucked safely away in a little wooden box, sat quietly on my front seat – one last car ride together as I sobbed uncontrollably.  When Hugo came home from an early morning fishing trip, we hugged and sobbed once more together.  Prior to his arrival, I set the bag from the vet, containing Kaiser and his clay paw print, down on the rug in our living room right where he used to lay.  This spot was loved by Kaiser, where he routinely lied down and flipped over onto his back, by gripping the side of the couch with his strong paw and leveraging his body weight to flop over into his most favorite, comfortable position.  Anyways, call me a little crazy, but it felt right to set him down there for a few minutes.  Nala came over and smelled the bag intently – she knew it was her old pal.  He had come home.

For some reason, I wanted to do a little baking this afternoon, almost as a final gift for Kaiser to celebrate how much we loved him.  I am not sure if that makes sense and quite frankly, I don’t really care.  We had leftover buttermilk that didn’t have a use to us, after Hugo bought it for cast-iron pan cornbread last week (absolutely delicious).  A quick Google search produced this gem of a recipe – Buttermilk Pound Cake.  I sliced some strawberries and dusted our slices with powdered sugar.  Hugo and I ate two fat pieces each and didn’t have one guilty feeling between us.  We cheers’ed with our fork and spoon, as a nod to our beloved Tootie (Kaiser’s silly nickname), and I gave Nala a tiny morsel so she could partake in the happy moment.  We decided that the pound cake satisfied our dinner void and called it a night.

Doing a little cooking in between tears

In between fighting the nauseous feeling in my belly and the ball in my throat, I made this yummy Herbed Gnocchi and Mushrooms recipe from The Kitchn last night (no, that is not a typo).  I know that intro didn’t sound very appetizing but believe me, that meal tastes better than I have felt over the past few days.

Hugo and I are venturing out to the beach tomorrow morning, for some sun and relaxation with Nala despite the sad events of the past week.  I am really looking forward to it.  Especially after the somber afternoon I just had.  I had a lengthy conversation with our gardener Jose, who is a staple in our small neck of the woods.  Jose has cared for the livestock, and the ranches they live on, in our corner of the canyon for many years, meaning he knows everyone’s story.  We are currently putting in some fresh new grass in our backyard citrus garden so he stopped by the house around 4pm today to drop off the organic topsoil and grass seed.  We stood in the shade of the house, within feet of my husband’s sleeping bass boat, and discussed the sadness in the air.  I told him about Kaiser.  He nodded and paused, acknowledging exactly what I was saying and feeling with his limited English.  He didn’t have to say much but yet I knew that he completely understood.

We had discussed Kaiser’s health last week, as Kaiser greeted Jose through the fence.  Jose has always been scared of our Rottweilers, based solely on his overwhelming fear of dogs in general, however, last week was different.  I don’t know if it was because Kaiser’s energy was deteriorating but there was a calm sense of understanding for the first time between the two.  Kaiser wasn’t flipping out at him through the fence and Jose wasn’t retreating in fear.  The three of us just stood and talked, enjoying the company and sunshine.

During the rest of my afternoon chat with Jose, we also talked about my ailing neighbor Mark as well as two additional cancer diagnoses in the surrounding hillsides and subsequent deaths.  It was sad, depressing and maddening.  Illnesses are far too common and devastating to everyone they touch.  I concluded the exchange by reminding my friend to count his blessings.  I am not sure if he understood what I said exactly but he felt my energy.

As I am sitting here solo on a Saturday night, as my husband works a sixteen hour shift, a Clear The Shelters show was on TV.  I just watched a few light-hearted videos of rescue animals, some of which were from The Dodo and all of which distracted me from the melancholy in the air.  Check out their videos, hopefully they will warm your heart as they did mine.

Better late than never

After a short four-day hiatus from writing, here I am!  Back and better than ever.  I didn’t really go anywhere, just didn’t have too much to say.  That’s fair, right?

So after my lengthy, 96-hour break, some of which I spent debating whether or not to return to school, transcripts have been ordered, degree programs have been explored and decisions have now been made.  My final decision is to enroll in an online bachelor’s degree program in the very near future.  I have wasted the past fourteen years debating it so I decided, enough is enough.  There is no better time than now.  Plus, I found an outstanding online degree program through National University that works very well for working professionals.  It is 100% online and you only take one intensive class at a time, with classes only lasting a month.  I like the sound of it so I am getting pumped to begin.  As of right now I intend to major in Homeland Security (that just sounds bad ass, right?), but that may change as I iron out the final details this week.

As the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards are about to start, this little scholar is typing away as Hugo makes sausage and shrimp paella.  Another outstanding Chef John recipe that is worth checking out.  Needless to say, the house smells amazing.  He has made this recipe before and it never fails to impress.  What a lovely man he is.  Feeding someone you love is a beautiful expression of selfless caring.  I am a lucky girl.

 

Two things I love on this Saturday afternoon: Sex and the City & Infrared Saunas

How is it that I have watched the Sex and the City movie, as well as years of episode reruns, over and over again, yet when it is on TV, just as it is right now, I can’t help but watch it once more!  It is just that good.  I just found myself standing in front of our television, lovingly staring at our eighty inch screen, as Miranda and Steve reunite on the Brooklyn bridge.  Those ladies give me laughs and give me hope; laugh if you want but it’s true.

And that leads me to the second thing I am loving right now: infrared saunas.  After discovering our new local sweat spot, the Organic Sweat Shack, I have now fallen in love with climbing into a small cedar room and sweating my ass off.  Literally.  Outside of sweating and shedding a few pounds during a session, the additional benefits are worth exploring – detoxification, cell growth, improved circulation, and relaxation just to name a few.  My hope is to aid my knee in healing and to drop a few pounds while doing so.  Plus it feels great to sweat again, as I slowly transition back into an active lifestyle.