February 24, 2019

No Flour Playdough

Avoiding wheat flour requires diligence, because wheat is in everything. Not only can it cause problems when ingested but it can also be absorbed through the skin, which rules out Play-doh for people with severe gluten allergies.

But Gluten Free Play Dough is the easiest thing in the world to make! (And an excellent project for snowy winter days in the Midwest.)

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
Combine the first three ingredients in a pot over medium heat and stir until it forms a ball.

It can't get any simpler. It takes about 5 minutes of constant stirring. You can feel it thickening at the bottom, then all of a sudden it's hard to stir, then it clumps into one big ball and you're done.

Divide into portions. Dab some paint (we used Crayola washable) on each (1/2 tsp makes a nice pastel color). Fold the paint into the dough and knead to incorporate. (This was Babs' favorite part). Once the paint is incorporated and the dough is cooled, the paint won't come off on your hands.

Store in airtight bags. If it dries, it'll form a crust on the outside. You can fold this back in and knead it until the dough is pliable again. But I find after a couple weeks, the dough is spent. It becomes either brittle and crumbly or moldy and stinky. In either case, chuck it and start again! Making it is part of the fun!

February 12, 2019

Spice Mixes Are a Scam

Buying pre-made spice mixes from your grocery store can be convenient for people who don't have a lot of spices already in their pantry. But the markup for that specific combination of spices is nasty. Not to mention they usually have sneaky ingredients added in (like my nemesis processed sugar or more salt than a person should consume).

Save money and know exactly what you're putting on your food by blending your own mixes. It's EASY!!

1. Taco Seasoning

2 TB chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 pepper

It's mild, for the babies in the family. Kick it up a notch by adding another 1-2 tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes and another 1/2 tsp of pepper.

The recipe makes about 5 TB of blend. I use 1-2 TB per pound of ground meat.

2. Garam Masala

1 TB cumin
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp cardamom
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg

This is an easy, mild Indian spice mix, typically found in curries and the like.

3. Italian Seasoning
Most Italian seasoning blends contain thyme, which I despise, but feel free to add in 1 tsp if that's your thing.
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp sage

4. Pumpkin Pie Spice
The following blend from The Pioneer Woman is super easy. I don't normally have ground ginger or allspice so you know what? I just leave them out and it's still delicious.

3 TB cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger (optional, imo)
1 1/2 tsp allspice (also optional)

These are some of my favorites, but over at Wellness Mama you can find recipes for your own Curry Powder and tons more. Herbs and spices are paramount for delicious variety in your cooking. Jazz up boring vegetables in a million different ways!

Side Note: I'm a big Costco fan, even more so since they added pantry items to their online store, and recently bought truly ridiculous-sized barrels of my most-used spices. I highly recommend it. Go in with a friend or two and split them!

February 7, 2019

Best Travel Skin Care Products

You don't want to bring your 5 oz. bottle of facewash when you're traveling. First of all, there's no space. Secondly, when flying, you don't want to check a bag if you don't have to. So how do you keep your skin clear for all those vacation photos?

These three skin care products are perfect for traveling:

Best Acne Prevention and Skin Care Products for Travel - The Go Family

I label this as "Travel Skin Care Products" but I use these at home too, because it's easy and fast. I'm a mom, I don't have time for clay masks and cucumber eyes.

Everyone's skin is different. Honestly, everyone's skin is different on different days. The monthly changes in hormone cycles and lifelong changes make it difficult to find one skincare routine that works.

Real Talk: I have supremely oily skin. In the morning my face is so shiny you could see your reflection on my forehead. My acne was never really bad, but I always had at least one big zit on my face. And not the fairly benign surface-level whitehead, oh no. The deep, painful boil type that emerged from my face like a volcano. If your skin is similar, this may work for you too.

These Yes facial wipes have 1% salicylic acid, a good chemical for combating acne. It also removes makeup pretty effectively. (I use a different wipe for mascara and save these wipes for my T-zone).

They are perfect for travel (especially camping and van living) when access to water for face washing is spotty or inconvenient.

After washing your face with your preferred method, if you live in a dry climate you'll want to moisturize. But what lotion can moisturize without adding oil, plus give you a boost in fighting acne?

Enter Neutrogena Rapid Clear Lotion:

With 2% salicylic acid as the active ingredient and no oil to weigh down your skin. Plus it comes in a conveniently travel-sized 1.7 fluid ounce bottle.

To skimp and make the small bottle last, only use it on your problem areas and use a different lotion (I like Gold Bond) for areas not prone to acne.

But arguably the best product for saving my face has been this Neutrogena Light Wand:

Yeah I definitely brought it to Spain with me for 2 1/2 months. And I used it, too. It's small enough to fit in my cosmetic bag and is powered by one AAA battery.

You have to catch pimples early for this to work, though. Once it develops a head it's too late for you and may god have mercy on your soul. As soon as you feel that tenderness under your skin, zap it with this bad boy.

It blasts light under the skin to kill bacteria, stopping the zit before it blows up. It's important to wait for the entire 2-minute light cycle to finish. Use it on a clean, lotion-free skin for best results.

There you go! Small products that are effective, convenient and good for travel. Happy trails!