3 in 1 DIY Facial Toner

DIY Toner RecipeOne of the things I removed from my skin repertoire many years ago was store bought facial toner. Number one, it’s an extra step. Number two, they are often filled with icky things I’d rather not be putting on my skin…like alcohol, preservatives and other chemicals that I can’t even pronounce.

But one day, while fiddling around trying to create my own make-up setting spray, I realized my new little product could work as a great toner as well. I’ve been using it ever since and see the difference when I don’t.

The best thing about this DIY toner is that it is fully customizable to your skin and the seasons. I make it a bit differently in the winter than in the summer. It’s also totally chemical free. It’s also cheap to produce. You can also use it as a make-up setting spray AND skin refresher spray (hence the 3 in 1). I definitely take advantage of it mid day if I’m running all over the place.

You DO need to get a spray bottle for this though…trust me. I love and use Infinity Jars for my cosmetic stuff because their glass jars filter out ultraviolet light and help preserve whats in them. My go-to jar for the toner spray is their 30ml Fine Mist Spray bottle – works like a dream for this purpose.

I spray it on my skin when damp. This helps hold in moisture due to it’s ingredients.

Here is my current toner recipe. I am going to break down the benefits of the ingredients below, and also give you some variations you can try with your own skin.

3 in 1 DIY Facial Toner Recipe

In a 30ml glass bottle add:

  • 22.5ml Orange Blossom Water (easily available in the International isle of many supermarkets and health food stores).
  • 6ml Distilled water
  • 1/8 tsp Vegetable glycerin
  • 5 Drops of lavender essential oil – use a good quality EO here…I like oils from Aroma Foundry.

Shake well before use.

Ingredient Break Down:

Orange Blossom Water is super gentle for sensitive skin and has a beautiful light smell. It’s moisturizing properties and soothing effects on sunburn make it a good choice for the summer time when our skin gets more sun exposure.

Alternative: Rosewater – has anti-inflammatory properties as well as controlling excess oil.

Vegetable Glycerin is a non-negotiable ingredient in this toner. This natural triglyceride has a wonderful way of moisturizing skin and also acts as a humectant, which means it preserves and pulls in moisture. It has a sweet taste – you can eat it (but why?), and is water soluable even though it’s texture is almost oily. If you have oily skin though, don’t let this scare you…it’s small amount in this batch will help your skin, and won’t clog pores.

Lavender Essential Oil is my favourite essential oil in the whole Universe! I could smell lavender all day every day. Besides that, lavender oil on skin has soothing properties to heal and reduce irritation and redness.

Alternatives: 

Dry Skin

  • Rose
  • Chamomile
  • Neroli
  • Geranium
  • Lavender

Sensitive Skin

  • Basil
  • Rose
  • Chamomile
  • Neroli
  • Lavender

Oily Skin

  • Geranium
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Lemongrass
  • Clary Sage
  • Bergamot

To your beautiful skin!

Brooke Simmons

Banana Lavender Muffins

 

I think when it comes to anything lavender, you either love it or hate it. I am obsessed with it. Lavender everything please. The colour. The smell. It runs in my diffuser constantly. So one time at an event, I ate something with lavender in it. And I was hooked on now baking with it.

Since we’ve had the usual long, cold grey winter here in Canada, now that the temps are starting to rise, and the sun is starting to shine again, I feel like I should bring out all of my summer things! And heck, why not get eating it again.

Lavender is one of those things where a little goes a long way. You don’t want to pile a whole big mountain in your food to have it end up tasting like a bar of French milled soap. Having a subtle hint of this flower adds a lovely, floral, bougie, maybe even slightly peppery flavouring. Especially to sweets – which sounds weird but it actually works.

I found lavender flowers in the tea section of my favourite local organic supermarket. You can also obviously use fresh from your garden if you have. And yes, this makes a lovely lavender tea as well, perfect for pre-sleeping:

Lavender flower tea

Back to these muffins, a friend of mine who is notoriously cranky about food, came over after I had made a batch of these. 3 were gobbled up in one sitting which to me confirms that they are deeeeeeelish.

Also, if you have bananas on hand but they aren’t soggy ripe like they should be for baking, try Jill’s hack here by ripening them in the oven. Works like a charm!

Print Recipe
Banana Lavender Muffins
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Cuisine Summer
Prep Time 20 Minutes
Cook Time 20 Minutes
Servings
Extra Large Muffins
Ingredients
Course Breakfast, Snacks
Cuisine Summer
Prep Time 20 Minutes
Cook Time 20 Minutes
Servings
Extra Large Muffins
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Line or grease a muffin tin. Either a large 6-spot muffin tin, or a smaller 12-spot muffin tin.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly mix together half of a tablespoon of lavender buds and a teaspoon of sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a food processor or large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
    Banana lavender muffins - mix the dry
  5. In a separate bowl mash the over ripe bananas.
  6. Combine all of the other wet ingredients.
  7. Pulse or fold in the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Mix well until all ingredients are combined.
    Lavender banana muffins - stir well
  8. Divide equally amongst cups. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. When the muffins come out of the oven, sprinkle with the lavender/sugar mixture. Set on a wire rack to cool
    Lavender banana muffins cooling
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Enjoy these and the taste of warmer weather!

Read With Me!

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/59043211-brooke-simmons

I’m not sure if i’ve told you this or not, but I do love a good book. I love to learn. I’m curious about a lot of things. This is where my book addiction comes into play. Now, I’m not the fastest reader on the planet. I’m not one of those people who can polish off a book in an afternoon. Some books I read faster than others – especially books I can’t put down which become my all time favourites like this one, this one and this one.

Over on Goodreads (my profile is here, let’s be friends), I have set a goal for myself to read 18 books in 2017. (I’m on #5). I’ve decided to start posting my book reviews here. Bare with me…this isn’t something that comes naturally. The first one will be a little thin. But hopefully I will get better at it.

Have you set a reading goal for this year? Have any book selections? I’d love to hear them.

Welcome, Goober!

About a month ago, we added a new member to our family. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve been bombarded with pictures and videos of our new little adorable dirt taxi. I introduce (duh da da dahhhhh)….Goober:

 

Goober was a rescue. It’s clear he had a home, likely with children based on his reaction to them (he loves them on TV and in person), and I would bet someone in his family owned a diesel truck. No one claimed him despite many, many efforts for a long time. He was alone in a lonely shelter, that also doubled as a fire hall in the middle of nowhere. It makes me sad to think about it actually.

Goober is my third lifetime rescue, and after a few experiences, I would honestly not do anything else. They may come with a small amount of baggage, but they love hard and are very appreciative of a warm, snuggly home. After casually looking at the PetFinder ads for several months, I knew Goober was meant to be ours when I stumbled upon his ad. I felt the same way when I found Charles:

Charles the Rescue Dog
Charles was an older dog we rescued and he passed away in 2014.

 

If you are considering your next fur-family member (of any sort) I would definitely urge you to start with considering a rescue. They are often wayyyyy less inexpensive than “buying” a dog, usually have a vet check done (not in Goober’s case, but I was ok with that to get him out of there), and if you are willing to put some time and effort into basic training, make amazing family companions. PetFinder is a great place to start.

Love from Goober…and

 

Boundaries and Difficult People

Boundaries and Difficult People

Recently, I’ve had a few instances in my life, that (in my head) go like this:

Me: Puts up a fence to protect time/space/work/family/etc. etc..

Random Person: Acting kerfuffled, starts up a bulldozer and immediately bulldozes the fence down.

Me: Picks up lumber, resurrects fence.

Random Person: Throws a temper tantrum and fires up their bulldozer again and demolishes the fence.

Ok, it’s dramatic, but it’s a funny scene in my head and really a metaphor for what some people do with other people’s boundaries.

Essentially, boundaries are the roped off areas in various facets of our lives, or distances we set to protect our well being. They are not walls. You are not blocking anyone or yourself.

You are simply stating, “please don’t step on the grass”.

Boundaries are as unique as we are. When communicated clearly, they teach people how to treat us, and how we expect to be treated. They protect our time, energy and our lives.

My fiercest boundary right now is surrounding my time. It’s a daily issue as I have multiple balls in the air every day. I have to make time to be a mom, a lover, a collaborator, a friend, a healthy person, a fur-child mama, someone who has enough sleep (…or else cray cray), a business owner, a client partner, a creator, a sales person and etc. etc.  Also – if I don’t get unstructured free time away from my laptop and phone, my creativity shits the bed – so add in “nothing time”.

You get it. You are busy too.

So basically, time is very, very important to me.

I feel like communicating a boundary clearly to other people (and even ourselves) from the get go is the easiest, (but not always possible) solution. At home for my teen, I set out a list of behaviours that won’t be tolerated without serious risk of losing privileges. At work, I set out some clear guidelines in a FAQ document and communications guidelines for my clients.

When a boundary has been crossed without the pre-communication, sometimes its best to gently let the person know. People don’t know what they don’t know. Reasonable people will totally respect your wishes without a second thought and they probably didn’t mean to overstep on purpose.

Difficult people may put up a fight.

Or they may pull a guilt trip, or throw a reverse psychology nunchuck at your head. Sometimes they will punish you in silent ways. Difficult people may also apologize when they’ve crossed the line, but continue fire up the bulldozer over and over again.

Dealing With Bulldozer Drivers

My first course of action with bulldozer drivers is distance. They get less of my time, energy and resources. This is not coming from a bitter place, but of a place of efficiency and self care. My life needs to happen, and drama and bulldozed boundaries tend to fuck up my day and could jeopardize my work.  Sometimes I let them back in little by little and give them small pieces. If it’s repetitive, it’s time for a good ol’ 5 steps back, and an unemotional evaluation of the relationship. Is it time to peacefully end? It may be. Sometimes people just won’t care. No matter how much we have faith that they will. And that is something that needs to be looked at, because continually feeling like your boundaries are disrespected will get exhausting.

Other times it’s impossible to end a relationship, at least immediately, and this is where some real tenacity and loyalty to yourself plays a big role. My suggestion is to not stir the pot, but also assert yourself where you need to. And also remember you may need extra energy when dealing with certain people or situations…so be kind to yourself.

Setting Boundaries

Boundaries that are clearly communicated to other people should not be threatening or manipulative.

“If you don’t to X then Y will happen to you” or, “if you don’t conform to my demands then I’m not going to help you with X”. Those two statements have nothing to do with boundaries and everything to do with control. The boundary differs by saying “I really want to help you, but you aren’t really respecting me (my time/my energy/my home/my love) right now”.

If we’re going to be honest here, then I need to say that I have also inadvertently stepped on other people’s boundaries. Being late is one that comes to mind.  While sometimes unavoidable, it does send the message that my time is more important than yours. It sucks to wait for people…I understand. I’m aiming for better.

I’m aiming to be more self aware and curious as to how my behaviour could be affecting other people’s boundaries.

Creating boundaries is not the most difficult thing to do, it’s enforcing them and having to have conversations that could bring up emotions in yourself or others that is tricky. But it’s something that is so needed to maintain a healthy, busy, abundant life.

I have some questions for you to ponder:

Where are you feeling that boundaries need to be made in your life?

Where are you feeling that you may be pushing other people’s boundaries?
Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

Flourless Black Bean Fudgy Brownies

Ok, chocolate much?

I know…that’s all I have been posting about lately. Last one. Promise. (For now). But seriously, who doesn’t love a rich chocolate treat? The thing I love about these flourless black bean brownies is a) they’re flourless, b) they’re full of fiber, c) they’re pretty close to a non-guilty treat when you are having an intense chocolate craving that only gooey, rich, chocolaty things can satisfy.

I know. They’re perfect.

Don’t let the “black bean” title send you into envisioning a boring bean salad at the company picnic. The beans really do make a good brownie that doesn’t taste like…well…beans. They add lots of lovely fiber (which to me, makes them goooood for you, ahem), and they are gluten free (see this note here though...), which appeals to many for various reasons.

I feel like I should warn you though…don’t eat them all in one sitting. By yourself. Trust me on this.

Print Recipe
Flourless Black Bean Fudgy Brownies
An oooey-gooey fudgy flourless brownie, that won't leave you feeling guilty.
Prep Time 20 Minutes
Cook Time 28 Minutes
Passive Time 30 Minutes
Servings
Brownies
Ingredients
Icing
Prep Time 20 Minutes
Cook Time 28 Minutes
Passive Time 30 Minutes
Servings
Brownies
Ingredients
Icing
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x9 pan with coconut oil.
  2. In a food processor, add in all of the ingredients up until the baking soda. Process well, until everything is smooth and blended together, stopping to scrape down the sides if need be.
  3. Once all mixed and smooth, add the baking soda, vinegar and sea salt.
  4. Pulse a few times to incorporate them into the mixture without over mixing it.
  5. Pour mixture into the pan, and bake for 20 minutes.
    Black Bean Brownie Mixture
  6. Since oven times vary, check on the mixture at 20 minutes - give it a shake - and if it's still a bit jiggly, pop it back in the oven. Check on it in intervals - I used 4 minutes, and it was perfect at 28 minutes.
    Black Bean Brownies Cooling
  7. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before icing.
Icing
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil and pour in the cream.
  2. Once heated, but not boiling, whisk in the sugar and cacao powder. Whisk until thickened and well blended.
  3. Remove from heat. Let cool.
  4. Once both the brownies and the icing are cool, ice the brownies and enjoy!
    Icing for Black Bean Brownies
Recipe Notes

Note: I use both almond milk and cream in this recipe. I always have cream on hand for the richer things that I make, but you can substitute for almond milk (or something similar), but you may have to add in a tiny bit of corn starch the thicken.

If you have celiac disease or an extreme gluten sensitivity, please read this note about beans.

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Happy chocolate craving!

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

Treat Yo’self – Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Protein Shake 31 Ways to Sunday

I’m on a chocolate kick this month. In February, it seems appropriate somehow. Valentines Day and doubling down on the last of the hibernation-induced calorie hoarding. And even if you’ve still spent the winter in the gym, sometimes you just have to treat yo’self, yo. My go-to is my Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake – post gym. But feel free to indulge post-whatever you’ve done today.

It’s not as terrible for you as it sounds.

In fact there is some good stuff in here.

Like whole flax seeds (ground by you…only buy them whole), for a boost of Omega-3; plain greek yogurt as a protein and probiotic source; cacao for antioxidants and serotonin support; banana for sweetness; and organic natural peanut butter for a fat boost and extra fiber (yep, PB is a fiber source). Go natural with the PB though, skip the Skippy. And a hit of chocolate protein powder for extra chocolate and protein.

 

 

Print Recipe
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake
Prep Time 5 Minutes
Servings
Serving
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 Minutes
Servings
Serving
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add all of the ingredients into a large or single-serve blender + grind until blended.
  2. Because of the cacao powder, you may have to scrape the sides once or twice for even blending.
  3. Pour into a glass and enjoy.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts - Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

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Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

Gluten-Free Triple Chocolate Mini-Cheesecakes

Although today is Valentine’s Day, I certainly don’t need an excuse to eat chocolate. There is nothing like triple chocolate gluten-free cheesecake to satisfy an insatiable craving. I love the idea of mini’s because you can throw these puppies in the freezer and take them out for individual cravings or if company just randomly shows up. The stress isn’t there to eat a “whole” cheesecake, before it “goes bad”.

I use quotes here, because I have heard of this happening. Chocolate Cheesecake

Heard.

Swear it’s true.

Tonight I am making dinner for my teenaged daughter and her boyfriend. Lasagna. Garlic Bread. Cesar salad. No one will be making out tonight. NO ONE!

There is a hint of natural orange flavours in this recipe. If you want to amp up this flavouring, add in some of the orange rind to the crust for an extra burst. I also use cacao powder here – simply because I had it on hand…feel free to use cocoa powder if you don’t have cacao.

Print Recipe
Gluten-Free Triple Chocolate Mini-Cheesecakes
Course Chocolate
Prep Time 45 Minutes
Cook Time 24 Minutes
Passive Time 3.5 Hours
Servings
Mini-Cheesecakes
Ingredients
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cheesecake Crust
Cheesecake Filling
Chocolate Ganache
Course Chocolate
Prep Time 45 Minutes
Cook Time 24 Minutes
Passive Time 3.5 Hours
Servings
Mini-Cheesecakes
Ingredients
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cheesecake Crust
Cheesecake Filling
Chocolate Ganache
Instructions
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cheesecake Crust
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350.
  2. Line a 12-spot muffin tin with muffin liners.
  3. In a food processor, add the dry ingredients.
  4. Pulse in the butter until mixture is moist and grainy.
    Gluten-Free Chocolate Cheesecake Crust
  5. Scoop the mixture evenly into the muffin liners and compress with the back of a spoon.
    Mini-chocolate cheesecake crust
  6. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove when done.
Cheesecake Filling
  1. Add the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar and cacao powder to your food processor. Process thoroughly until everything is mixed together (you may have to scrape the sides down with a spatula a few times and continue mixing).
  2. Squeeze in the juice from the orange and Grand Marnier.
  3. Pulse a few times until just mixed.
  4. Scoop the filling evenly into the toasted cups.
  5. Bake for 14 minutes - or until the cream cheese portion is set. (Jiggly-firm, not runny).
  6. Turn the oven off, open the door and let cool in the oven for about an hour.
  7. Once it's time to remove from the oven, it's a good time to remove the muffin liners. You can put the cheesecakes in the fridge now for another hour or so. In the meantime, prep the ganache.
Chocolate Ganache
  1. Chop up chocolate into small-ish pieces.
    Chopping Chocolate
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, bring cream just to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add the chocolate and turn off the heat.
  4. Whisk the chocolate in so it melts and becomes smooth and shiny.
  5. Once smooth, add Grand Marnier and salt, and whisk a few times to combine.
  6. Let sit for 10 minutes and spoon on cheesecakes.
  7. Let cheesecakes sit overnight (or for at least 2 hours) in the fridge.
Recipe Notes

**If you would like more orange flavour, consider adding grated fresh orange peel to the crust.

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Have a happy and loving Valentine’s Day!

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

My 2017 More/Less List – No More New Years Resolutions

More Less New Years Resolutions

Happy 2017 my lovelies. I’m a bit late getting on this blog (I’ve been putting a lot of time in over on my business blog), but I really want to write more here this year. How are your New Years resolutions going so far?

I’m sharing again with you, my More/Less list. It’s something I compile every year, (I share 2015’s here), separate from my specific personal and business goals (which are solid, recorded and measurable), but in lieu of New Year’s “resolutions”. Resolutions never quite sat well with me as they are vague goals…my more/less list are things (and actually more along the lines of habits) that I would like to do more of, or less of. Have more of, have less of. Make more of, make less of. You get the idea.

There is no failure if I want “more abs” but in March I didn’t do one single sit up. I’m simply aiming to be better, do better, have more of that. There is space to try again. There is space for forgiveness – on both lists.

Here is my 2017 More/Less list:

More

  • Blogging
  • Writing
  • Videos
  • Fairness
  • Intuition
  • Adventure
  • Travel
  • Sleep
  • Gym Time
  • Abs
  • Gardening
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Unconditional Love
  • Sex
  • Consciousness
  • Compassion
  • Creation
  • Reading
  • Expansion
  • Decorating
  • Mountain Biking
  • Growing food
  • Self-care
  • Mid-week adventures
  • Vacations/Time Off
  • Abundance
  • Giving
  • Serving

Less

  • Alcohol
  • Complaining
  • Gossiping
  • Stress
  • Sugar
  • Gluten
  • “Shoulds”
  • Facebook
  • Comparing
  • Accepting less than
  • Excuses – for me and other people

Easy peasy…I’ve put these in my Bullet Journal for constant review. Something that I think is important to keeping on top of what you want to get or achieve.

What do you want to do more or less of this year? Do you create New Years resolutions?

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday