21 January 2014

Scrumptious!

Star Cookies.



Yep.
I made, homemade, cookies.  



No box.  



No bag.  



No dough 
...that's perforated and ready to lay out on a cookie sheet.



Flour {White Lily, of course.}, sugar {Dixie Crystals, of course}, pure vanilla bean {from Mexico, of course - and I'm almost out of the delicious stuff - got to go south of the border and get some more of this nectar}, and butter {unsalted, of course}.



A rolling pin!
 I have not used a rolling pin in more than a decade.  Oh, except to roll out Play Dough with my little boy about three years ago when I think was when he last played with Play Dough.

'Found this recipe in a holiday issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine and because of its very few ingredients {any more than five or six, I forget about it in the kitchen} I was intrigued enough to give it a try over the holidays.



YUM.
Made the batch twice!



Once for Santa with my son and one of his little buddies on Christmas Eve...and they did not look so good - the cookies, that is.  We cut them into snowmen, candy canes, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, and smothered them in rainbow coloured icing, but Santa ate them anyway and we ate what he and the Elves did not.  {I did not even make a photo of these cookies - they were so pitiful looking.}



Then had to do it again.
We enjoyed them so much that just my son and I made more cookies for our very own New Year's Celebration.  
Stars.
White sparkling stars.
Like fireworks they were gone in a moment.
We ate them all.

Perfection.  Not one broken cookie.  Layers of buttery, vanilla-y goodness.  
Not too sweet.  
Almost shortbread, but also a hint of sugar cookie...just yum.  
{I even had one or two with my coffee for breakfast a couple of times that week, when the others in the house were not looking.}

Since this recipe is not top secret and was published I can share {although my secret is the Mexican vanilla}, if you want to try them for yourself, you may get the recipe directly right here.



'Loved them so much that I am going to make hearts for Valentine's Day for my loves.

As always, thank you for your visit.

Enjoy the delicious-ness in your day today.

Ciao amici,
Suzanne

16 January 2014

Loving What You Do

Finding files of old photos is always an adventure down memory lane for me.



I am sure many of us do this - we download photographs from our cameras onto our computers and often times say to ourselves, "we'll edit them later."


I found this collection of photos stashed in a file labeled, "Savannah Details."  I made these photographs four years ago and until last week, really had not given them a second thought.  {And I noticed that I have many more files to filter through, but that is for another rainy day.}

The image of this gorgeous vintage French crystal chandelier against the softly distressed plaster wall stirred a thought in me.  


It's not always about the light...


 ...or what type of equipment


and/or other programs you choose to utilize to make your photographs.


It's about loving what you do.


I love making beautiful photographs.  
I always have.  

{I will be offering these in my Etsy boutique very soon, along with some other photographs of vintage relics filed away in my photo archives that stir up memories.}

Love what you do today and as always, thank you for your visit.

Ciao amici,
Suzanne

08 January 2014

The Essentials ~ Natural Skin Care

A couple of months ago I taught a small class of fellow gardeners how to make my "Sugar Scrub for Southern Gardeners."  This is a concoction that I have been making for myself for many years and I LOVE it.  The winters in the South are so dry.  Cold and dry.  Very different from the same winter months in California, which my body is still used to even after all these years.  My skin just does not like these Southern winters. 



So, instead of purchasing expensive sugar scrubs in fancy jars with pretty names and labels {which are also filled all kinds of stuff in addition to the "sugar" that none of us can pronounce} to exfoliate and moisturize my skin, I have created my very own semi-organic sugar body scrub that is simply delectable.  I liberally use it from head to toe nearly every day and my skin is as smooth as silk {just ask my husband...and he uses it too}.



 It's such a simple recipe with just a few ingredients that you can make your very own too - delicate grape seed oil, superfine sugar {or "Dixie Crystals" as they prefer here in the South}, and whatever essential oil you desire.  



The essential oils I used for my Garden Club were peppermint and rosemary - a fabulous marriage of scents and perfect for gardening hands and tired feet.  For the holidays I offered an additional fragrance of French lavender, which is wonderfully relaxing to use in the evenings before bedtime.

Here are just a few of the benefits of the essential oils I used...


Rosemary Oil
Can clear toxins from the body - it can detoxify the body when used as a warm compress applied to the liver area.

Is good for cellulite - by improving circulation, the appearance of cellulite diminishes.  {Use sugar scrub in the shower or bath all over your body.}

Warms up cold feet - the skin absorbs the oil long after a bath or shower and it has a strong warming effect.

Aids mental clarity - it stimulates the central nervous system and is a rejuvenating tonic for both the body and the mind.


Peppermint Oil 
Soothes respiratory infections - inhaling the oil helps clear the respiratory system.

Can help with nausea and headaches - the cooling and anti inflammatory properties aids circulation, fights inflammation, and relieves headaches.  Inhaling peppermint oil can eliminate the effects of nausea and motion sickness.

Relieves indigestion - peppermint oil relaxes the muscles of the GI tract and can soothe abdominal pain.

Reduces nail infections - the anti fungal properties in peppermint oil when topically applied can reduce the chances of nail fungus infections.



Lavender Oil
Soothes away aches and pains - use lavender oil in the bath with Epsom salts and soak away the tension.

When used as a moisturizer or cleanser it helps rebalance the skin - lavender oil is one of the most valuable oils for the treatment of acne

Calms headaches - massaging lavender oil into the forehead, around the temples, and the nape of the neck reduces the symptoms of headaches.

Induces sleep - used in a bath or even placing a few drops of oil on your pillow will help you sleep better and be more alert during the day.  {I have even placed a petite lavender plant by my bedside on occasion.}


Not to mention the benefits of grape seed oil, with all its inherent antioxidants and moisturizing properties.

You want the recipe?  Here it is...

2 Cups of Superfine Sugar
1 Cup of Delicate & Pure Grape Seed Oil
About 20 Drops of Pure Essential Oil {Rosemary and/or Peppermint or Lavender}
Freshly Crushed Rosemary Leaves or Lavender Leaves* 

*I grow these herbs in my garden so I had them available.  Not to worry if you do not have fresh herbs.  You will still get the benefits of the scrub using just the essential oils.



Mix together the sugar and oil until evenly blended, then add the drops of your favorite pure essential oil.  When all is blended well and smells good, add about a handful of freshly crushed and chopped rosemary leaves or lavender leaves, depending upon which fragrance you chose to use.  The grape seed oil makes a beautiful pale green tint to the scrub and with the fresh leaves blended in, it looks beautiful in a jar and smells even better.

That's it!  




My sugar scrub was such a success that I ended up taking dozens of orders for it during the holidays for teacher's gifts, hostess gifts, gardener gifts, and girlfriend gifts.  The key of course, in making it a beautiful gift to give is all in the packaging {which we all know}, and which I love to create.  

If you would like to package it for a pretty gift for a friend or someone special, this is how I did mine...

I chose generous 16 ounce traditional wide mouth Mason/Ball canning jars with the silver lids for my containers.  {That's a lot of sugar scrub...but if you use it like I do, it may only last about a month or less!}  I foofed it up with a pretty silver paper doily on top {I had used a white doily for the Garden Club, but thought the silver was more festive for the holidays}.  

I finished the jar with a beautifully printed label {the border design/frame I used was royalty free artwork} and then I did the appropriate typesetting based on the fragrance on the front of the jar.  




To make it gift worthy, I packaged it in a clear cellophane bag and tied it with a simple soft creamy white bow.  The final touch was a personalized tag attached to the bow with "Ciao" printed on the front  {which you may recognize from the top right corner of my blog} and then some details of the scrub on the back of the tag.  No gift bag or wrap necessary!


{front}


LUXURIOUS SUGAR SCRUB
Enjoy & use head to toe!
Hand made in small batches
by
Suzanne MacCrone Rogers
{back}

{But I'll tell you a secret...when I make it for myself and use it in my shower, I just put it in a plastic tub and scoop it out generously as I wish - not so pretty, but the same good stuff.}

I'm already working on a special Valentine's Day recipe.  Thinking wild rose and geranium and bergamot...I'll let you know what I do, and will use a label with my own artwork this time.  Maybe this pen and ink sketch I did long ago might work...



Hope you will try this - it's fabulous, not only in the winter months {especially during our Polar Vortex}, but all year long.  I know you will enjoy using it.



As always, thank you for your visit.

Ciao amici,
Suzanne

01 January 2014

New Year's Wishes

Wishing you a New Year that is JUST PEACHY!

 Hope all of you have had a blessed Christmas season and...


that spirit stays with you throughout 2014.

Happy New Year Friends
and
Felice Buon Anno!

Ciao amici,
Suzanne
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