Lavender and Vanilla Sugar Scrub of the best things about Southern California is our ability to grow ALL YEAR.  When the sun is shining bright in the middle of everyone’s typical Winter cozy time, I remind myself that my tomatoes are still red.  Lavender is an easy-going plant that doesn’t demand very much water.  It’s perfect for the desert landscape we live in here so I grow it all around our property.  It’s the closest I’ll get to an English garden.

I love to use lavender in my cooking and when I create my body care products.  You can’t beat those freshly harvested scents!

Scrubs are a SUPER important part of my skin care routine.  Extra bonus points for homemade scrubs because they are inexpensive to make!  I use a scrub once a week on my face, which exfoliates it amazingly well.   I keep one jar in the shower and one next to my bathroom sink.  The dead and flaky skin is removed by the sugar, the coconut oil puts moisture back in, and the lavender and vanilla scents relax and bring on a wee smile.  When applying the scrub to your face, move your hands in small circles, applying slight pressure and avoiding the eyes. Lightly rinse, just until the sugar is removed, leaving as much moisture behind as you can.  Sugar is just gentle enough to get the job done, but not irritate your skin.  I also use scrubs on any other dry area of my body, like elbows, hands, and feet.  Really, you can use them anywhere.

My favorite recipe below is for a Lavender and Vanilla Scrub.  I made the recipe image using my HP Sprout.  The computer is a whizz at scanning 3-D objects (say what? We can do that now?!).   Moving the scanned objects, creating text, and even handwriting are a breeze.  Once you learn the Sprout, you can have an image created (like my recipe below) in less than 10 minutes.  If you’ve ever made a collage online, you know this timeframe is AMAZING.  This time-saving feature alone is making the Sprout a must-have for creatives.  So cool, right?

Set aside a few minutes this week to make a scrub like this and take care of your skin! copyagoldenafternoon.comThis post is sponsored by HP, but all opinions are my own.  Authenticity is important to me and I do not write about anything that I don’t love.  Thanks for reading, friends

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Cranberry Gin Gin Cocktail


For those lovely people who’ve been waiting, here is the recipe!

Cranberry Gin Gin Fizz
•2 oz. gin (my fave is Old Grove from Ballast Point Brewing)
•1 oz freshly pressed lemon juice
•1 oz cranberry ginger syrup (recipe below)
•Ginger beer (Fever Tree, Maine Root, or Bruce Coast. NEVER EVER use Reed’s because it will mess up the flavor!)
•Rosemary or juniper for garnish

Stir together first 3 ingredients in your cocktail glass. Add ice. Float with some ginger beer and add garnish.
For syrup: Combine 1 cup water with 1 cup organic sugar, 1 ginger root (few inches long and wide), and 1 cup cranberries. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and the ingredients are boiling. Continue cooking on low for 20 min. Cool, strain, and you’re ready to go!

Writing a Book with Kids (and 3-D scanning!)

Have you ever wanted to see your very own book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble?  I’m sure most of us would squeal.  In some kids, that dream can spark before hitting junior high.  I want my kids to get a little taste of what it feels like to see their own words in print.

HP recently gave us their new Sprout computer to play with.  We are so excited to have a computer for school projects!  The Sprout is brand-spankin’ new technology: an all-in-one immersive creative space, which also happens to be a fully-functioning PC.  To me, the most amazing thing it does is to scan 3-D objects.  Wow.  I know you are probably thinking about 100 different things you’d like to scan and play with, right?  Watch this video here to see so many crazy options.  I was actually really surprised at how amazing it is.  I immediately thought of making Lego creations come to life in a book!

Jack seemed like he was in need of some Mom time (middle child), so I picked him.  We started by writing the story together with words and Lego creations.  We chatted about setting, characters, grabbing attention with color, and each page contributing to the point of the story.  He dictated the words to me while he built and staged the story’s “pictures”, which we would 3-D scan later.  I did this mostly because he’s only 7 and I wanted him to have his plot, captions, and wording worked out before he built the story on the Sprout.  It was his idea to add bubble captions, which I thought was cute! then moved to working on the Sprout.  Kids learn technology so fast and he even reminded ME of a few things I couldn’t remember fast enough. Ha! He concentrated so hard through the whole process.  I loved seeing his determination and focus.  The workspace is designed so that once an image is scanned, you can move it around with our fingers until it’s just right, like it’s no big deal.  Then, you can add text or even write text with the stylus or your finger.  Jack then moved all of the text and captions where he wanted them and chose the color and size.  So cool to watch him create!

Here’s the finished pages of the book! All were designed, written, “illustrated”, and created by Jack.  I only helped him learn the Sprout.:

jackstory Invitations? Illustrations?  So many options, right?

This post was in partnership with HP, but all opinions are obviously my own.  I NEVER write a post just to make money and I share only what I love.  Thanks for reading, friends!

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List-Making Tips and Homemade Gin!

agoldenafternoon.comI don’t know about you guys, but I keep a list of food and drinks I’m inspired to make.  I’ve used Evernote to hold my notes (thanks for sharing, Erin! ;)) for a few years now and LOVE it.  It has a login so the information can never be lost if something happens to your phone.  You can download it here.  I no longer use my iPhone “notes” after having several years worth of lists lost twice (mysteriously not backed up).  Now, I keep notes for EVERYTHING in Evernote, especially inspiration from magazines and books, including:

Places to eat in San Diego

Places to visit in Italy/Sicily/Switzerland

Things to read/look up later

Inspirational quotes to remember

Books to read/Books for Faith to read

Natural health recipes

Everyone’s birthdays

Hiking spots

Cocktail notes

Things to buy/Gifts to buy

About this time of year, I pull out my Evernote list of gift ideas I gathered from magazines over the last several months and start making decisions for Christmas gifts.  I am so excited for Christmas, aren’t you?!  It’s so close!  This year somebody is getting some homemade gin after Uncommon Goods sent me this “Homemade Gin Kit” to try!  Yay!  I already gave one bottle away last week.  I also got to cross “making gin” off my list of things to try.   This gift works two ways:  you can give the kit itself or you can make the gin yourself and give it away.  Hostess gift, anyone?

I said yes to partnering with Uncommon for this post because I am a customer of theirs already.  Most of Uncommon’s products are made here in the USA, HALF of those products are made by hand, and 1/3 of them are recycled or upcycled.  Now, that’s a company I like to support. They have such unique and fun gifts that you KNOW you can’t find on Amazon.  I would suggest starting in the under $50 gift section here, because they are always spot on.  Also, I’ve found a few last minute gifts in the men’s section before here. ;)

Have you guys started Christmas shopping yet?  Go check out Uncommon first and keep notes in your Evernote!

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Bear & Bordeaux the beginning of the summer, we had dinner with our Pastor and his family.  He was about to go hunting for bear.  Yes, I said bear; think large, furry, and black.  A few glasses of wine into the night, we decided we should have a bear feast!  I agreed to cook the bear and my husband decided to throw the 1983 Bordeaux that we were gifted.  That bottle should have been opened a few years ago, but alas, we kept putting it off for a truly special occasion.  Apparently, eating a bear is a special occasion.  Thus, we gathered for the first ever Bear & Bordeaux feast.

I love to try cooking new things but this one made me particularly nervous because what I read suggested black bear caught at the beginning of summer will mean a lean, grisly piece of meat.  Nobody wants to eat that!  So, after much deliberation and maybe a bad dream about cooking inedible bear, I decided to go for a classic recipe: beef bourguignon or now, bear bourguignon!

I was only able to take a few little bites (trouble digesting meat), but it was tasty.  The bear ended up perfectly tender, after simmering for several hours.  I was so relieved.

The Menu:

Bear Bourguignon (Julia Child’s recipe, sub beef for bear)

Mini Caesar Salads with Anchovy Dressing (Thomas Keller’s recipe)

Extra Creamy Mashed Potatoes

1983 Grand Vin Chateau Bellegrave Pauillac

2009 Duckhorn Howell Mountain

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