Kitchen Pick-Me-Ups

image1I looked at the calendar this morning and it occurred to me that in less than two weeks, I will be heading back to work. The dog days of summer are slowly coming to an end; there are back to school commercials on every channel, the sun is setting earlier, and I’m harvesting veggies from my garden- all signs that it is early to mid August. Soon, my cut-off shorts, t-shirts, make-up free face, and two-day, unwashed, top-knotted hair will no longer be my signature style and I will have to return to the reality of looking somewhat polished and put together.

I could treat myself to an afternoon at the spa or pick up some fancy creams and scrubs from the drug store to help kick start my beauty regime but I have come to realize that some of the best beauty treatments can be made right at home with ingredients you already have. I love these because they are quick, easy to make, can be done during nap time, and cost you next to nothing.

-When we were kids, my mom used to rinse our hair with beer once a week to reduce build up and to make our hair shine. Sounds weird right? Believe it or not, it works! I simply shampoo and rinse, pour the beer on my hair (let it sit for a couple of minutes to let it work its magic) and rinse, then I add my conditioner to just the ends of my hair. The result is shiner and lighter hair.
-Is your hair super dry and fried from chlorine and the sun? Just add mayo. Yup, mayonnaise will nourish your hair and make it super-soft and hydrated. Simply coat your unwashed hair in some mayo, wrap with plastic wrap, wait about twenty minutes, rinse, and wash your hair like you normally would. Voila! No more dry hair.

-For as long as I can remember, I have used egg whites on my face to get rid of excess oil and to reduce the look of pores. Mix an egg white with a zip of lime or lemon juice and apply to the face. Let it sit for 20 minutes or so and rinse off with warm water. Your face feels tighter and so much cleaner.
-I don’t often get many blemishes on my face but whenever I do, it’s always at the worst possible time, generally before a huge event that I want to look my best for. Just add toothpaste! I can’t even believe how well this trick works. After I wash my face before bed, I dab a little bit of toothpaste on the blemish and by morning, it is significantly smaller and the redness is gone.

-The sun, sand, bare feet etc. can take a huge toll on your skin during the summer. The fix? Mix equal parts of olive oil and sugar together and apply all over your skin. When your finished, jump into the shower to rinse and wash as you normally would. The sugar exfoliates any dead skin away and the olive oil hydrates leaving your skin feeling super-soft.

Try some of these during nap time or when you catch a few minutes to yourself. The results are awesome and are just the pick-me-ups you need to get back on track after a summer filled with fun in the sun.









Natural Healing


For years, I have been deemed ‘the hippie’ by my family and friends. From fashion choices, to my love for the outdoors, to running the eco club at my school, to canning my own foods, my passion for human rights etc. etc. Hey, if the shoe fits, right? I guess it may be somewhat true. I mean, if I could chose to live or be anywhere, it would be in the middle of nowhere and somewhere totally off the grid. Seriously! A little wooden cabin on the top of a hill with a wrap around porch, in the middle of a meadow, surrounded by wildflowers and trees. We would live off of the land, make everything by hand, and totally embrace the simplicity of it all. So if that makes me a ‘hippie’, I’m cool with it.

Until I can cut ties with modern society and move to my idea of perfection (and convince my partner and daughter to come with me), I try to find as many ways to live a simpler, more natural lifestyle. I am still in the beginning stages and am in no way, shape or form a perfectionist at my craft but I am starting to learn the value and the power of using more natural ingredients when it comes to day-to-day tasks and routines. Cleaning with vinegar and lemon, using homemade soap and face oils, eating more whole foods, and using essential oils are the changes I am  the most proud of so far on my journey.

Essential oils and herbs has been my recent fascination. I have become very intrigued with the idea of healing naturally. As someone who very rarely takes any medication (maybe a couple Tylenol a year and only if I am in really bad shape), I loved the concept of using plants and herbs to heal wounds, combat sickness, clear the mind, and energize. So far, I have had excellent results with some of the DIY’s I have tried with the oils.  Here are some of my go-to’s…

Coconut oil and lavender essential oil- I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this combination. A few drops of lavender oil into a little bit of coconut oil has helped take the itchiness out of cuts and scrapes and has helped battle the irritation from a sunburn.

Peppermint essential oil/ peppermint sprigs- Get in my belly! Well, in my water then into my belly. I love the taste that peppermint gives to my water which makes it much easier to get in those 8 glasses of water a day. Peppermint naturally aids in digestion and helps to curb your appetite (helping to avoid those mid-afternoon chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate chip cravings.. mmmm chocolate). It also acts as an amazing pick-me-up. Whenever I am feeling a little sluggish, I open my oil, close my eyes, and take a few deep breaths. It instantly revitalizes me and helps rid the grogginess away.

Frankincense essential oil- One of the key ingredients in my fav face oil. A few drops on the face helps reduce the look of aging and it also works as a great toner too.

Chamomile- Not just to help get you to sleep (although I love it for that too). When used on the skin, chamomile is awesome at reducing swelling and puffiness. Have a hot bath with some dried chamomile flowers when you are feeling stressed or under the weather and you will instantly feel relaxed.

These are just a few of my fav’s so far. I am forever reveling the benefits to family and friends and continue to research and experiment with new ways to heal naturally. Give it a shot! You won’t be sorry.

Much love,




Remember to Eat your Veggies


If I had a dime for every time I heard the phrase, “Eat your veggies”, I would be a millionaire. No seriously! I used to think my parents and my friends’ parents held secret midnight meetings together to come up with catch phrases to use on us kids. No matter where we went, we were always told to “Eat your veggies.” Now, as a mom in my thirties, I truly understand where the parents were coming from.

I have always been a lover of veggies. As a child, I would opt for veggies and dip opposed to chocolate and sweets (I know, crazy right?). Growing up and working in the restaurant industry forever, you learn quickly what foods to avoid (hello deep-fried everything), what foods to eat in moderation (a little bit of deep fried), and what foods your body will love you for (sadly, no deep fried). Working in a Greek restaurant, in my teens and twenties, introduced me to the Greek salad that I will always have a love affair with.

When my little one was just about to board the ‘real food’ train,  I became obsessed with what types of foods we were buying and consuming. I opted to make my own baby food and I wanted to be sure I was giving her the best possible nutrition. I read countless articles, watched all sorts of documentaries, and started talking to my friends and colleagues about what foods they give their children. Organic, non-organic, GMO’s, growth hormones, free-run, chemically induced and grain fed consumed my brain. I didn’t know where to begin, what was right and what was wrong. Just when I thought I had my mind made up as to what was best, I would hear or read something that would make me change my mind again. With so much controversy regarding food, I just knew I had to make the right choice.

It took me some time but ultimately I came up with the greatest advice I can pass on… You have to decide for yourself. You are the only one who can decide what best suits you and your family. Educate yourself by reading up on it and by discussing it. For us, the importance to buy locally trumps all. We try to support the small and local businesses before we head out to the big name, corporate supermarkets or stores.

There are so many farmers in our area and they produce such beautiful and tasty foods for a really great price. Just today for example, we decided to take a walk to our local Farmers Market. We purchased  a quart of blueberries, 4 beets, a head of lettuce, a basket of peaches, one bunch of green onion, a half-a-dozen corn, and 4 huge tomatoes for under $20. Not only did I walk away from the market with a huge smile on my face and a belly full of peaches but I was able to speak to the farmers who actually grew the produce. I found out where their farms were and how to pick out the best corn. I also spoke to some of the ‘regulars’ who visit the market regularly who guided us to which vendor had the better deals and who had the best tomatoes. I quickly learned my market works more as community and I love it!

We have also began the practice of growing some veggies of our own. I have no luck with seeds… in fact, I tend to drown them. So for the last few years, we buy some seedlings in the spring to plant in our backyard. It takes a lot of patience, a lot of water (thanks to the summer we are having), and some time weeding but it is totally worth it. Teaching my daughter how to water the garden has been a highlight of mine this summer. She could care less that the kale is the size of my head but she is showing an interest in learning what it takes to grow things and so far, she knows they need water. #momwin #teacherwin.

Regardless of where you get your produce, remember to eat your veggies 🙂

If you are in the Hamilton area, be sure to check out one of these Farmers Markets. You won’t be sorry 🙂






My Soap Obsession


Oh soap! I am obsessed with making soap. I am constantly thinking of new recipes to try and different mixtures of oils to use. I research relentlessly on the benefits of different types of oils, essential oils, and herbs. There is something so satisfying about watching the oils melt together and watching your ideas come to life. I LOVE crafting SOAP.

How did I get into this? This is a common question I am asked whenever I share my creations with others. Pre-baby, I never would have even thought about making soap. Why make it when you can buy it in a million different sizes, shapes, colours, and scents? For me, my call to the craft was after my daughter was born.

As a new parent, you obsess about EVERYTHING. I mean it, EVERYTHING. Even if you don’t think you will- you will. I had her room perfectly decorated and fully stocked with clothes, diapers, wipes, blankets, toys, and baby products. I was ready! That was until we began to notice little red bumps and dry patches on her skin. Like every first-time parent, we caught our breath from a near panic attack and called the doctor. Sure enough, our baby girl had eczema.

“Avoid everything with scents.” Easier said than done. Take a look in the baby isle. Every baby lotion and body wash contains some type of scent, not to mention a list of ingredients a mile long with a ton of big words that I would never be able to pronounce. We spent so much time and money looking for a soap that was unscented, natural and something that would not be harsh on her skin. We came up empty handed. Unscented meant lots of unknown ingredients and I wasn’t cool with that.

Enter soap making. I was scrolling through the internet one day and came across a local company that makes soaps in Hamilton. I emailed the owner and she told me of an upcoming class she was hosting at a local wellness center. Once I had the tools and the know-how, there was no stopping me. I have created several different types of soaps using different oils, scents, and herbs and have made one specifically for my daughter which works wonders on her skin. I love that I can make something, using natural ingredients, which my family and I can use and I am not afraid about what chemicals or hidden scents are lingering in the finished product.

With this in mind, I created Edna Mae’s Homemades so other people can find a product they are comfortable using on their family’s skin.

Have a beautiful day,

Quality time with a toddler

monkeyIt’s summer. It’s hot. You don’t want to go outside because you will melt. What do you do with a toddler? Here are some pretty simple and easy ideas.

Finger Painting
This is my FAVOURITE!!! I love finger painting and Memphis does too. I usually set up or studio on the kitchen floor because it is easy to clean and is near the bathroom so it is convenient for a quick bath afterwards. We made our own paints using 2 Tablespoons of sugar, 1/3 cup of flour and 2 cups of water. Put all ingredients into a saucepan and stir using a whisk on medium heat until the mixture becomes similar to a paint like thickness. Pour mixture into different dishes and use food colouring to mix your colours. Let mixture cool or use the freezer to help quicken up the cooling (I did this because I don’t have the greatest of patients lol), and start painting. I always have an extra canvas around the house so I usually let her paint on that but you could use any type of paper you have. We always have a blast! She generally uses her entire body as a paintbrush and we generally both covered in paint. Once you’re finished, you end up with some pretty cool art to hang in her room.

Everyone knows the benefits of reading to children and why it is important which is why I do it so often. Another reason is because it offers a great opportunity for us to have quality time. Once a week, we go to the library and pick out a bunch of different books to read at home. This breaks up the repetitiveness of always reading the same books on her bookshelf and it acts like a little adventure outing for us. I let her pick out whatever books she wants (thank goodness you can get nearly a zillion out at a time).We read all the time and always at night before bed, cuddled up on the couch all comfy in her pjs and under a blanket. I take my time reading books adding in different voices or noises where necessary. I also point out different objects as we read and she is doing so well pointing out known objects. Objects she doesn’t know, she points to it as if to ask for clarification. Recently, she has begun to pick up books and ‘read’ on her own. I nearly cried the first time she did this because I was so proud and my heart was so full.

It has become a custom in our home to have music playing when we are busy in the kitchen making dinner. As I chop away, Memphis is ‘helping’ by opening every cupboard, banging on pots and pans, and twirling in my not so large kitchen. As a huge Elvis Presley fan, my station of choice is the Elvis station, which plays lots of Elvis and other classic artists such as Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly etc. I have often been known to throw on the ‘Dirty Dancing’ or ‘Footloose’ LP as well:) Before long, I have Memphis is my arms and we are dancing around the kitchen. She loves to dance and laughs and smiles as I twirl her around and rock her back and forth. When a good power ballad-comes on, we each have our microphones (silicone basting brushes) and we take turns singing. Dinner time at the ‘HJ’ household is definitely entertaining and it generally takes way longer to make anything but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cuddle Time
We have gotten into a pretty normal routine when we wake up in the morning. Bum change, turn the coffee pot on, ‘bubba’, momma gets a coffee and then we have cuddle time. For about half an hour every morning we snuggle on the couch side-by-side, talking, reading, watching some cartoons and obviously giving her lots of kisses and tickling her until I hear that adorable little laugh.

These are just some of the things I do with Memphis that we look forward to. I’m sure there are a million others that you can do but these are just some of the ones that I have done. After I do any of these with her, I feel immediately calmed and relaxed and I have a huge smile on my face because even for just a few minutes, I know we spent some good, quality time together:)

Strawberry Heaven

On the weekend, my gorgeous little family and I embarked out to the country in search of some delicious strawberries. Living in Hamilton, we are blessed to have a large rural setting just 15 minutes outside of the city so finding a U-pick berry place was relatively easy to find.

Rewind… For weeks I had been stressing out LARGE that strawberry season had come to an end and I didn’t get to make my yearly supply of strawberry jam. I know what your thinking, “Richelle, they sell that in a million different varieties at the store.” I know, I know but the taste and the fact that you created something from just 3 ingredients is magical.

So on Sunday, the last day of my partner’s week-long vacation from work, we decided to hit the farm to pick some berries. There is something about being in the country that just brings balance to my life. Being a momma, a partner, a sister, a daughter, a full-time teacher, and an aspiring mompreneur- life is crazy but when I am surrounded by wide open spaces and can breathe in fresh air, it’s a total energy boost.

My 2 year old does not share my love of berry picking-yet. She picked one berry, got her hands dirty, and proceeded to protest until it was time to go home. My partner, being born and raised in the city, does not necessarily share my love of the great outdoors, however is a great sport and ended up doing the majority of picking while I dealt with the diva.

Ok, so why do I bother making jam? It’s simple- it makes me happy and it’s what I know. I grew up with my parents who always had a large garden. My dad would spend hours toiling and tampering with his fruits and vegetables to ensure they turned out perfectly (or he may have been avoiding any confrontation that living with a wife, three daughters, and one bathroom can bring. Nonetheless, his garden was perfect). When it was time for harvest, my mom and dad would set up a make-shift assembly line making homemade salsa, tomato juice, tomato sauce, pickles, etc. for days. Our basement shelves were always stocked with homemade deliciousness to enjoy for the winter to come.

My grandmother was also a huge influence in my love to create things from scratch. Having been born in 1916, she lived through wars, the great-depression, and several other experiences which would be hard to a farmer’s family. She grew up utilizing EVERYTHING. Nothing ever went to waste when grandma was around. You ate everything on your plate and you never threw anything out. My mom had the same mentality so it is natural to me to utilize the ingredients I have to make things instead of being dependent on running to the store to buy everything.

So, there you have it. A glimpse into my strawberry heaven. Equal parts strawberries to sugar, and a quarter-cup of lime juice for every 4 cups and you can have your own strawberry jam too.



Love me some vinegar

Vinegar, Vinegar, VInegar. Where would I be without Vinegar. It has seriously become my go-to ingredient for cleaning. I know, I know… the smell. I quickly got over the smell once I realized how great it cleans. Now when I smell it, it has the same effect that bleach once had with me before… clean!

Once my daughter became too big for her baby bath, we began giving her baths in the bathtub. It had been a week or two of our routine baths when I noticed a film had built up around the edges of the tub. I used my hand to wipe it away when it dawned on me- whatever isn’t getting rinsed off during my cleaning is going directly into her bathwater. Obvious I know, but as a first time parent you panic over the smallest of things.

Needless to say, that was it for me!I began researching a long list of natural commercial cleaners and I wasn’t satisfied with any of the ones I had come across until I read one that used vinegar. I remember my mom and my grandmother using vinegar for a variety of things around the house and we always had the biggest, most industrial sized bottle of it and now I know why.

I use it primarily as an all-purpose cleaner by just putting some in a spray bottle with a little sea salt. As a heavier cleaner for dirtier jobs like the bathtub, I spray the cleaner on and sprinkle baking soda on top of it. Remember when you were a kid and you made volcanoes in science class and you would make the lava out of vinegar and baking soda? Same thing only skip the red dye. Surprisingly enough, that ‘lava’ works wonders on tough cleaning jobs. I like to let mine sit for a few minutes before I start scrubbing. Just be careful with this cleaner on certain surfaces as it could damage the surfaces. Try a small test spot first.

I also use vinegar for killing weeds in between my patio stones. Just spray the all-purpose cleaner on the weeds in the morning and let the sun do its work. By late afternoon, you should have dead, brown weeds that are easy to pull out. I tried this method last summer and my patio stones were weed free for weeks!

Another great use for vinegar is using it as a fruit and veggie cleaner. Sounds kind of strange-I know but it works great. When I bring my produce home from the grocery store I fill up my kitchen sink with cold water and dump a cup or so of vinegar right into the water. I dump in all of my produce and let it hang out for a while. I rinse the produce again before putting it away with just plain water and it seems to work wonders. My produce seems to be lasting longer and I feel better knowing that I have cleaned it thoroughly before eating it.

Lastly, my best friend just enlightened me on this next one the other day. We fight some pretty ugly colds in this house during the winter. I was complaining to her that during this time the house just ‘smells sick’. In the dead of winter and I don’t want to open up my windows and doors to air out the house so she had mentioned using vinegar as an air purifier. I tried it and it worked wonders. I put small bowls with about a 1/3 cup of vinegar around my house ( 1 or 2 per room) and it seems to be making a huge difference so far.

These are just some of the ways I have used vinegar in my home. I will keep you posted if I find anymore awesome uses for it.

Until next time,