From Cupcakes to Traditional Korean Food and Everything in Between

My Top 5 Beauty, Health and Wellness Tips and Secrets

I truly believe in the old adage that real beauty comes from within, do you?  I’m approaching my big 3-0 and when I reflect back on my journey, I realize that I’m happier today than I ever have been and I feel lighter because of it and find myself carrying around a big smile {the best accessory, in my opinion}.  I still get carded at the market, if that convinces you that the following beauty/wellness tips I want to share today are winners.  I half kid, but seriously, these are tried and true tips I swear by.

  1. Drink and eat your water.  Meaning, consuming hydrating foods is just as important as drinking fresh water.  By eating your water, your cells can retain it better since it brings in other nutrients that the body needs to absorb as well.  Don’t forget to supplement your water intake with whole, raw and organic foods like watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes too.  If plain water gets too boring, try an infused water.  My favorite at the moment is a mixture of fresh ginger, cucumber, lemon, and mint.  It’s thought to help boost your metabolism and provide a burst of energy as well.  I also like to inject in a variety of other drinks throughout the day like Korean roasted barley tea and my powerhouse kale berry smoothie.  Both tout antioxidant properties that will make your skin glow.
  2. Get outside!  I know that we live in a time when the sun is shunned for being just awful but the truth is, whenever I spend a little time outdoors, I have more energy and feel happier.  Think about it, the sun is the center of our solar system lending energy to the Earth and all its inhabitants and has the power to be a healing source.  Not to mention, it boosts your vitamin D supply which is essential for a healthy body.  Since I love to DIY, I also whip up an easy homemade sunscreen made up of coconut oil, raspberry oil, and non-nano zinc oxide that I can do a video for if you’re interested.
  3. Oil pulling.  I’ve been oil pulling for the past 2 1/2 years and have really noticed a huge difference.  I became an instant convert when I saw that I was no longer experiencing sensitivity in my teeth.  I was having a difficult time enjoying hot or cold foods and since oil pulling, it has not only gotten rid of that, it’s made my teeth a more polished white and my dentist has even commented on my good overall oral health.  If you’re not familiar with oil pulling, it’s simple in that you take a couple spoonfuls of coconut oil and swish it in your mouth for 20-30 minutes.  It helps pull toxins and when you spit it out, you brush and floss as your normally would.  I like to oil pull 3-4 times a week and love that I can maintain yet another use for my homemade coconut oil.
  4. Skin care.  Since your face is the first thing people usually see, I think it makes sense to prioritize its care.  Not to mention, if it’s the first thing to be exposed, it’s generally the first visible area of aging.  For the last decade or so, I’ve solely gravitated towards more homemade, natural skin care solutions.  I use apple cider vinegar for everything from using it as a toner to a hair rinse.  For moisture, I rely pretty heavily on coconut oil {and lately, I’ve been getting into Argan oil} but suffice it to say, I keep it pretty minimal and basic.  Recently, that’s changed since my mother gifted me a line of products from Glow Recipe, an all natural Korean skin care company.  She got me the face lotion, eye essence, and moisture pack and of all the things I’ve used, I am most enjoying the overnight moisture pack.  Until I figure out a way to DIY it, this will definitely be my my go-to product of the moment.
  5. Finally, my last tip is the one that’s most important to me.  It is to maintain a mindset of gratitude.  It’s definitely easier said than done but once you soak it in, it will forever change your outlook and in turn, you will be happier from the inside out.  No amount of money, expensive cosmetics, or beauty regimens can ever compare to the glow that manifests outwardly from within you.  When I used to go on different commercial sets, I would meet so many beautiful girls.  However, there were some that were just plain nasty in the way they interacted with people.  No matter how beautiful they were to look at, nobody wanted to be around them and the vibe they generated was toxic.  A genuine smile from a sincere heart can light up the eyes and lift you up in a way that nothing else can.  This is why I believe that beauty truly comes from within.

This was a completely different video for me to shoot but I really enjoyed it.  I hope you did too!

No Bake Bars – 2 Easy Ways

No Bake Pies

We seem to be experiencing a heat wave and what better way to cool off but still whip up a homemade treat?  No bake desserts!  Today I’m going to show you just how quick and easy it is to create both a sweet and tart lemon bar and luscious chocolate ganache bar with a buttery 3 ingredient crust as the base.  And, if you’re all about shaving off even more time, I highly recommend making just the crust which can be served as yummy little shortbread cookies.  I’ve been known to indulge in them from time to time and since it only takes about 45 seconds to make, I probably enjoy them more often than just time to time.  Who am I kidding?

Both the chocolate and lemon bars only require less than 4 ingredients for the fillings, most of which you probably already have on hand and if you can work a whisk and a microwave, you’re just 5 minutes away from having not just one, but two types of yummy bars.  There’s just no need to slave over a hot oven when it’s 95+ degrees out.  Seriously.  On those 100+ degree days that I was without AC, I really could’ve used both a lemon and chocolate ganache bar to cheer me up.  I can’t really say which one is my favorite.  The lemon bar is just so alluring in her bright and refreshing way but the chocolate bar…he’s so tempting with his deep, dark nature that satisfies with the intensity of chocolate like nothing else can.  Why bother choosing?  Have both.  I insist.  The hardest part of it all is waiting for it to cool but then again, I’ve also been known to gleefully alternate my spoon into the warm lemon custard and fondue-like chocolate sauce.  Anyway you look at it, you just can’t go wrong with these.

5.0 from 3 reviews
No Bake Bars - 2 Easy Ways
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Author:
Serves: 6 Heart Molds {holds 3 tb each}
Ingredients
Crust {for both}
  • ½ c unbleached flour
  • 1½ tb powdered sugar
  • 3 tb melted, salted butter
Lemon Bars
  • 2 tb fresh lemon juice + zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 tb sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tb melted, salted butter
  • Optional: 1 ts unbleached flour {for a thicker consistency}
Chocolate Ganache Bars
  • 4 tb semi or bitter sweet chocolate
  • 3 tb sweetened condensed milk
  • Optional: pinch of fine salt and instant espresso
Instructions
  1. For the crust, stir everything together until just combined and press into a microwave-safe mold/pan. I used a microwave-safe silicone mold but you can also use a microwave-safe pyrex dish or something similar.
  2. I used a microwave with 1.45 kw. It took me 40 seconds for the crust to cook. Set aside.
  3. For the lemon bars, whisk everything together and heat in 30 second intervals, whisking constantly. Mine took about 3 minutes until it got nice and thick. Strain if desired but if you whisked voraciously, it should be silky smooth.
  4. For the chocolate bars, stir everything together and heat until just melted. You don't want to scorch the chocolate so allow lingering heat to melt everything through by stirring.
  5. Spoon each mixture into each mold and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until set.

 

If you enjoy no-bake desserts, check out my playlist!

Milkshakes – 3 Easy and Delicious Flavors!

I’m back!  And with 3 yummy milkshakes.

Milkshakes

We’re finally settling in from our move and boy was it an adventure. We had a gamut of modern day human necessities go awry from the move-in date getting mixed up, the internet not working, to the air conditioning breaking down.  First world problems, eh?

I’m just happy we live in a world where there’s ice cream.

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I mean, after a few 100 degree days without AC, the reverie of ice cream was pure, unadulterated hedonism at its best.  I may or may not have sat on the cool kitchen tile with reasons to retrieve something or another from the freezer, sipping on my cold beverage like a mad woman.  Ice cream is great but sometimes, you just need something cold to sip up faster than you can scoop up more ice cream for me than you ever have for anyone else.

May I introduce you to the strawberry cheesecake, salted caramel nutella, and cake batter milkshakes.  The strawberry cheesecake tastes like a thick and creamy pink berry spiked shake that’s a hybrid of ice cream and cheesecake.  What makes it even better is that it doesn’t require an hour of baking, cooling then chilling.  It’s instant satisfaction and who doesn’t want that in the midst of a hot sweltering summer day, even if you do have fully functioning central air?  The salted caramel nutella is crowned with the glory of homemade salted caramel.  And did I mention that it’s my recipe for 3 minute salted caramel sauce?  Softened ice cream gets blended with rich and indulgent nutella then gets generously laced with the salty sweet bite of luxurious caramel sauce.  Finally, the cake batter milkshake tastes like birthday cake in a cup.  It’s fun and sassy, making you feel like you have something to celebrate.  That is, besides just being generally awesome.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Milkshakes - 3 Easy and Delicious Flavors!
 
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Author:
Serves: 1 serving each
Ingredients
Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake
  • ½ c cold, whole milk
  • 1 c soft vanilla ice cream
  • ¼ c soft cream cheese
  • 1 ts pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
  • ½ c frozen strawberries
  • Optional: whipped cream, crumbled graham crackers and fresh strawberry garnish
Salted Caramel Nutella Milkshake
  • ½ c cold, whole milk
  • 1 c soft vanilla ice cream
  • ¼ tb nutella
  • Salted caramel drizzle
  • Optional: whipped cream
Cake Batter Milkshake
  • ½ c cold, whole milk
  • 1 c soft vanilla ice cream
  • ¼ c dry funfetti cake mix {recipe below}
  • 1 ts pure vanilla extract
Homemade Funfetti Cake Mix
  • 4 tb unbleached flour {or almond meal}
  • 3 tb sugar
  • 2 tb dry milk powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1 tb rainbow sprinkles
Instructions
  1. For each milkshake, blend, pour, and enjoy!

 

Homemade Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil

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I love coconut oil.  For me, it’s simply magical.  I’m constantly piping in with “coconut oil is great for that!”  On a daily basis, I use it for removing makeup, as a leave in conditioner, and to oil pull.  Greater still is the fact that as a domestic engineer {haha} I find so many uses for coconut oil that it’s probably easier for me to compile an inapplicable list.  When J’s had a long day, it works wonders as a massage oil, especially when spiked with a few drops of frankincense and/or lavender essential oils.  As a baker, I can appreciate it for the fact that it mimics butter so well that I can use it for my cookies, scones, cakes, etc.  As a cook, it’s just as impressive as its high smoke point lends itself well to stir fry dishes too.  Although once demonized, recent studies have shown that coconut oil is mainly comprised of medium chain fatty acids making it a healthier and more versatile choice due to its long lasting, heat stable qualities that are also unlikely to degrade into trans fats when cooked.

A quick peek into my video history will also echo my love for coconut oil.  I’ve created fun DIY’s for everyday items like lip balm and body butter or candles and soaps.  The best part of these recipes are that they only require 2 or 3 ingredients and one of them, you guessed it, is good ole wholesome coconut oil.

Here are some other amazing things coconut oil can do:

  • Emulsified into tea or coffee for a boost of energy. It’s also high in lauric acid and MCFA content to help boost metabolism
  • Used as a yummy tropical body scrub {I like it with raw sugar/honey, and lime}
  • Used as an spf 4-6 sunscreen, reinforced to a greater spf when combined with zinc oxide and raspberry oil
  • Can soothe sunburns {I love this one even more since we moved to the beach}, regular burns, scars and stretch marks {because hey!  I have those too}
  • Can season cast iron skillets
  • Creates a better chocolate “magic shell”
  • Used as a shaving butter
  • Turned into a simple toothpaste of coconut oil and baking soda that freshens your breath and whitens your teeth {I use this occasionally and oil pull regularly and it’s done a fabulous job of whitening my teeth}
  • Pat on hair to not only condition it and tame frizz it but some also swear by it for making their hair grow.  I’ve been using it on my lashes and can see a difference.  In any event, it makes a wonderful oil for scalp massages.
  • Used as a cutting board polish.  Coconut oil deeply penetrates the wood to prevent brittleness.  {Is said to also be a good leather polish}

There are so many more uses but these are ones I’ve personally tried and tested.  Cold processed virgin coconut oil has been a jack of all trades and a solid all purpose life saver in our household.  I hope you’ll give a few of these a try and enjoy my recipe for homemade coconut oil.  This is a cold pressed method that better maintains the integrity of the fruit and retains more of the vitamins and antioxidants.


5.0 from 3 reviews
Homemade Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: About ½ cup
Ingredients
  • 3 mature, brown coconuts
Tools
  • Cleaver/screwdriver/hammer
  • Food processor or blender
  • Unbleached cheesecloth/fine mesh strainer
Instructions
  1. Pop a hole into 2-3 of the eyes {depressed circles on one top of the coconut} and drain out the water. 1 of the eyes will be softer and easier to work with.
  2. Crack open the coconuts {as demonstrated in the video} and obtain all the meat. You can do this by either wedging something blunt in between the shell and meat and carefully wiggling it out or by directly scraping it out.
  3. In batches, blend the meat with clean water {using a 1:1 ratio}. You want to finely pulverize the meat.
  4. Pour into a large bowl and use your hands to squeeze the pulpy meat for 20-30 minutes. This step is just as important as the next strain through cheesecloth/strainer. As a bonus step, you can leave this mixture to sit for a few hours.
  5. Collect all the pulp {again in batches} in a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer and squeeze {with all your might!}. The goal is to leave behind bone dry flakes and extract all the liquid into a bowl. What you essentially have here is coconut milk.
  6. Cover this bowl and allow it to sit, undisturbed in a dark place for 1-2 days {1 if you're in a hot environment if it's too hot, it will become sour}. I kept mine in the microwave for 1.5 days.
  7. Afterwards, you can chill it to faster solidify the layers. The bottom will be murky water, the middle layer will be the coconut oil followed by a top layer of cream or curd.
  8. Skim off the top layer of curd/cream {this can be used for coconut cheese}.
  9. Spoon out the floating oil and at this point you can either filter the oil through a clean cheesecloth then allow extra moisture to evaporate by covering with a bit of plastic with a hole for air to escape or use right away.

A last few notes to mention: as a by-product, you can drink the milky coconut water fresh from the cracked coconut and you can grind dried coconut flakes to make homemade coconut flour or use as nourishing compost.  I’ve also used the pulp with coconut oil and sea salt to make a delicious body scrub.  The uses for the humble coconut are endless and magical.  Just one humble coconut can produce coconut milk, water, flakes, oil, coconut cream {homemade coconut whipped cream is to die for}, flour, or vinegar {coconut nectar, sugar, and amino come from the plant itself} plus so much more, so enjoy!

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

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