A family of six and their fearless journey through life, love and the pursuit of all things yummy

Getting Wild With a Papaya Mask May 27, 2012

Filed under: Stuff for your Face & Bod — Brandi @ 2:10 am
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Anytime I can get my hands on a ripe papaya (that doesn’t cost a King’s ransom), I snatch it up and take it home, slice it and put it in the fridge. Between using the seeds in salad dressings and putting the flesh in salads and smoothies, I also use it on my face. Papaya is insanely rich in anti-oxidants and vitamin C. It has a knack for getting rid of those McNasty free radicals. Since I quit smoking and just turned 40, Mumsy needs all the help she can get! Don’t use it everyday, but this recipe will last three days out of the week.

For this mask, I used:

3 cubes of papaya (mashed)

1 T. fresh plain yogurt

2 T. ground almonds (or raw oatmeal)

1 T. honey (SUPER moisturizer)

Mix thoroughly and smear on your face, avoiding eye area. Let sit for 10 minutes and then rinse off with tepid water. Your skin feels radiant. No joke. Sweet papaya lovin’!


Update on Using Soap Berries/Nuts May 26, 2012

Okay, gave my natural soap a try as a bug repellent on my plants in the yard. I had a pot of annuals come back to life. Now, there is SOME nibbling going on, but I’ve managed to keep my pots, grape vines AND veg on the right track. Just cook down a batch of 5 soap berries in about 5 cups of water. Let cool and put into a clean spray bottle. Spray the leaves AND underneath. Yeah! No chemicals! Oh, and I’ve been spraying the elixir on my body and the twins…no bug bites yet. I love stuff that has a million uses. Thank you mother nature…you truly are the bees knees. Here’s the link to get your own soap berries:

p.s. Here’s a shot of my stainless steel fridge – the soap cleaned it beautifully and prevents greasy finger prints and my house is full of greasy little fingers.


Beef at Its Best – “Bollito” May 25, 2012

Filed under: Food, Wine, and Nummies — Brandi @ 1:49 pm
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I snagged this beauty from David Rocco. It is truly one of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever tried. Next time, I’m going to do some crusty French rolls so we can really soak up the broth! As my daughter Alberta says, “Tummy yummy!”

Bollito with Salsa Verde and Chili Sauce

8 cups (2 L) water
2 lb (1 kg) stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 carrots, halved
2 celery stalks, halved
1 onion, quartered
1 garlic clove, crushed
salsa verde*
chili sauce*


To start your Bollito w/ Salsa Verde & Chili Sauce:

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add beef, carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook for 2 hours or until meat becomes tender. Remove meat from the pot.
Serve the boiled meat with the salsa verde and chili sauce or on a bun as a sandwich.
*See David Rocco’s Dolce Vita recipe for ‘Salsa Verde Sauce’ and ‘Chili Sauce.’


Hair 911! May 16, 2012

Filed under: Stuff for your Face & Bod — Brandi @ 4:54 pm
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Okay, since having the twins, my hair is bonkers and it’s doing the same to my mental well-being. It feels like hay and no matter what I put in it, it STILL feels like hay.

I googled some dry hair tips and am going to give olive oil a try.

1/2 cup olive oil

Heat it up in a pot or microwave and “paint” on to hair with pastry brush. Wrap in a plastic grocery bag and let sit for 30-45 minutes. Shampoo.

Supposedly, it makes your hair soft and shiny. I’m in desperate need of soft and shiny. I’ll let you know how it turns out, but until then, any suggestions? I NEED TO TAME THE HAY!

p.s. My hair is curly and fine.


The Great Grape Vine Experiment May 13, 2012

In my quest to bring France to my little spot in Kansas, I decided to build a trellis and grow my own wine grapes. At first, my husband thought I was completely wacko, but we both know that with any wine, the grapes make the difference. The surroundings, the soil, the love…it all goes in to making a great wine. The vines are more like children than plants because trial and tribulation grow the best grapes.

I found a nursery in Iowa that specialize in cold-weather grapes to make a tasty Bordeaux. I contacted the good folks at and ordered 8 plants. My super stud hubby and I went to the hardware store and bought the goodies to put together a grape trellis. We found a great video on how to build your own so that you have a sturdy structure to support your growing vines. It was some work, but not as difficult as we had thought. Even without the vines visibly growing, the trellis really makes our back yard look as if we’re in California or Burgundy, France! If you’re interested in building your own trellis, check out this link:

Violet and I planted these little babies, watered them, spoke to them and then named them. So say hello to Suzy, Wilbur, Tootsie, Larry, Paula, Honey, Ted and Ginger. They are now part of our clan and we’ll give them all the love we can muster. Hopefully in two to three years, we can have the grape-stomping party I’ve dreamed about and then I’ll know that France really has arrived in Kansas.

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Quick and Probiotic Facial Cleanser May 12, 2012

So easy, so refreshing. Use it either as a morning cleanser or a mask at night (leave on for 10 minutes…no more!) I love this one.

2 T. ground almonds (make your own in a processor – MUCH more affordable. Keep rest in ziplock in freezer)

1 tsp. honey

1 egg white

2 T. plain yogurt (make your own by heating 1/2 gallon whole milk to 90 degrees, let cool. Add 1/3 c. plain yogurt. Cover and let sit for 24-36 hours. Voila!)

Mix together. Store in airtight container in fridge. Stir before using. Will keep for one week in fridge.


Making My Own Laundry Soap/Cleaning Solution/Shampoo

Filed under: Stuff for the House — Brandi @ 3:44 pm
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What the bleep?! Making my OWN? It’s sounds nuts, but soap nuts/berries have been used for millenia and I discovered this from fellow blogger, She’s doing amazing things with old techniques like fermentation…anyway. Jumped on the soap berry bandwagon and began my experiment this morning.

Soap berries can be used for laundry, shampoo, cleaning supplies, natural pesticides for plants and veg, pet shampoo, etc. The list really is endless. But I mixed up a batch for laundry, shampoo, plant spray and cleaning supplies. There isn’t a product more green than this people! Here’s what I did.

I ordered a 2 lb. bag of the nubbies from and went to work. I boiled two handfuls in about 10 cups of water for 60 minutes. I strained them off into various containers: two for the fridge and the rest into ice-cube trays to freeze for future use (thanks real food lover!). There are obviously no preservatives, so it has a short shelf life. I made just enough to cover us for the week. There’s six of us and between shampoo, baby wash, laundry, cleaning and dishes, I think I made just the perfect amount.

A note about the shampoo – Violet and I add orange blossom water to make it smell dreamy! Next time we’re adding a concoction of steeped herbs. We’ll let you know how it turns out! 

Between being totally green and saving you a rear end load on soaps, cleaners and shampoos, soap berries are the way to go. No school like the old school!