Sunday, December 30, 2012

Inexpensive Indulgence

Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other. 

-Henry David Thoreau

In an effort to beat the "post-holiday season slump," I decided to treat myself to an afternoon at the spa...right in my very own home! I've been reading an array of recipes about DIY beauty treatments so today I thought I would give a few of them a try. In the process, I came up with a few concoctions of my own. I set up my room with a few candles, some soothing music (yoga workout radio on Pandora!) and I sipped on a glass of homemade "spa water" (water with lemon and orange slices). This afternoon at the spa cost me just under $5.00; that left plenty in my budget to give my beautician a nice tip (hehe).

Here are the treatments I tried:

  1. Dr. Oz's Teeth Whitening Treatment
  2. The "Lemon and Honey" Blackhead Mask
  3. The "Egg White and Tissue" Tightening and Cleansing Mask
  4. The "Brownie Batter" Body Scrub (my own creation!)
  5. At-Home Manicure
The best one, by far, was the "egg white and tissue" mask. Not only did it leave my skin feeling rejuvenated and super clean, but it was actually really fun to do. As it dries, it gets so incredibly tight that you can barely move your face, which I found to be quite entertaining. 

Here are the recipes:

Dr. Oz's Teeth Whitening Treatment 
( taken from

  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
  1. In a small bowl, mix a little bit of baking soda with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon. The mixture should bubble slightly.
  2. Using a cotton swab, wipe saliva and excess plaque from your teeth before brushing on the mixture. 
  3. Leave the mixture on your teeth for a minute before gently brushing it off with a toothbrush.  Don’t leave the mixture on your teeth for any longer than a minute; the acid can erode tooth enamel.

A word of caution, I did this without measuring and my whitening solution turned into what looked like a fifth grade science experiment. Definitely take the time to measure these out. 


Lemon and Honey Blackhead Removing Mask

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  1. Cut a lemon in half.
  2. Take honey and smear on the open face of the lemon.
  3. Rub the honeyed lemon all over your face and leave on for five minutes.
  4. Rinse the mix off with warm water and a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil. 


Egg White and Tissue Cleansing Mask

  • one egg white
  • a splash of milk
  • 2 pieces of a two-ply facial tissue

  1. Take your egg white and splash a bit of milk into a small bowl. This mask is best applied with a small make-up brush, so have one of those on hand.
  2. Peel apart the layers of your tissues and rip them into small rectangles and squares. (This is something I didn't do before attempting this mask and I definitely made a mess!)
  3. Brush the egg and milk mix directly on your skin; it will stick just fine.
  4. After applying a few layers of egg white, take the squares of tissue and gently stick them to your face. Apply another layer of the egg white mix over top of the tissue.
  5. Let the mask completely dry; the place where I read about this said it would take 15 minutes but mine took more like 30 minutes. 
  6. Once you are totally dry, peel the mask off your face and wash with warm water and a gentle cleanser. 
Another word of caution, this will make your face extremely tight. The tightness will make you laugh which will be slightly painful. I recommend refraining from looking at yourself while waiting for this to dry; it is really hard not to laugh if you peek. Don't try to peel off the mask until it is completely dry or you will not see the results. If you wait it out, you will see all the dead skin cells on your mask; gross but atleast you know that it worked! 


Karen's Brownie Batter Body Scrub

  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cocoa power
  • 1 drops of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of olive or almond oil
  • A few drops of water
  1. In a small glass bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  2. Next, pour in the oil, vanilla, honey and a couple drops of water.
  3. Apply all over body, massaging in small circles. This is used best in a bath tub because it can be quite messy. 
This scrub smells just like brownie batter which is amazing! It leaves your skin moisturized and refreshed; I would recommend that if you have acne prone skin, omit the oil and use a little bit of water instead. 


To end my afternoon at the spa, I did a manicure on myself. I used the leftover brownie scrub and throughly scrubbed my hands, then pushed back my cuticles and applied the Orly Base/Top coat. I finished my mani off with a fun glittery design on my ring fingers! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Momma's Rum Cake

The holiday season is all about the sweets in my household. My mom has a fantastic recipe for rum cake that I thought I would share with y'all. I'd consider it "semi-homemade" because it calls for a box mix but you could certainly substitute with a real deal recipe for your favorite yellow or butter flavored cake. This is a super simple and insanely delicious cake!

There is something so comforting about using a rustic looking recipe card...

What you'll need:

1 box of butter cake mix (yellow works fine too)
3 eggs
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of white or golden rum (we use Bacardi Gold)
1/2 cup of water
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding mix
1/3 cup of chopped pecans (or walnuts)

1 stick of real sweet cream butter 
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup of rum

Putting it all together:
  1. The most important part of this entire recipe is to grease and flour the bundt pan extremely well. Take this from my own experience, your cake will forever rest in your pan if this is missed! This step becomes crucial during the "big reveal" aka the flip at the end of your baking journey. 
  2. Next, prepare your dry ingredients just as would make a normal box cake. Don't forget to add the box of pudding mix! It makes the cake incredibly moist; it is definitely the secret weapon of this recipe. 
  3. Once your cake batter is all mixed up, take your nuts and sprinkle them evenly around the bottom of the pan. They will form a nice looking crust at the top your cake!
  4. Pour the batter evenly into the pan and place it in the oven at 325 degrees for approximately 50 minutes.

Creating the Glaze

Important: You want to glaze your cake while it's still hot so you should start making your glaze just as your cake is about 1-2 minutes from being done. The glaze is really simple and it is actually quite versatile too! You could really use this on any cake. 

My mom and I had a bunch of oranges so we thought it might be nice to add in some fresh orange zest and a splash of orange extract. You could easily swap this out for flavors like lemon or almond. The cake tastes awesome regardless!

  1. In a sauce pan on medium heat, drop in your stick of butter, 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of rum.
  2. Bring the butter, sugar and rum mix to boil and stir continuously for two minutes (no more, no less- this is just how it is!). The mix will bubble and steam so don't be alarmed! 
  3. Once you have boiled and stirred for two minutes, pour the glaze first around the edges of the cake in the pan, working your way toward the center. 
  4. After the cake has settled and cooled for twenty minutes, it will be time to do the "big reveal" aka the flip!
Drum roll please... 


 The final product! I must say, this cake is equally as delicious served straight from the oven as it is the next morning with a warm cup of coffee. Breakfast of champions, my friends!

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Sometimes in life, we find inspiration in the most unexpected places.

I was watching the local news a few days ago and saw this  story (Adam Lumpkins Story) about a little boy in need of a miracle. Adam, a precious five year old fighting a form of leukemia, is in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant. His loving and admirable family arranged a bone marrow drive in our area in hopes of finding a donor. I felt compelled, as a healthy twenty one year old, to register to be a marrow donor. It is my sincere hope that this event has found a match and will fulfill the greatest Christmas wish of all for this wonderful family.

Driving up to the firehouse, I was incredibly pleased to see the parking lot overflowing with cars. I was left speechless when I opened the door and saw hundreds of people waiting in line to register and get tested.

I have never felt more at home in a room full of ‘strangers’ than I did today. Standing in line, I fought back the urge to cry; I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of what I was witnessing. As I looked around the room, I couldn’t help but feel the love of each and every person in that firehouse.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines community as “a group of people with common interests living in a particular area.” Today, I learned that the true definition of community reaches far beyond this. Community is taking time to remember that you are not alone in this world. Community is treating strangers as friends. Community is faith through unity. Community is a solid foundation built upon the generosity and love of neighbors. Community is a bond that cannot be broken.

I felt the power of community today and that power has inspired me to take more time to give back to those who have given so much to me. The great Martin Luther King once said, “You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato or Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” 

I not only saw but I felt the “heart full of grace” and “soul generated by love” of Southern Maryland today. 

I have always been incredibly proud to call this place my home and this experience has renewed my appreciation for the community that has shaped who I am. Today, I have discovered that my life has been built on a solid foundation of generosity and love of my neighbors; a feeling of extreme warmth and comfort accompanies this discovery. I will rest easy tonight knowing that I am a part of something so indescribably powerful.

I would encourage each and every one of you who may come across this post to register to become a bone marrow donor.  
You can find more information about registering here:

I leave you with a great song by John Mellencamp.

Thanks for reading!