Autumn Layers | Anthropologie, Free People + Block Shop Textiles

Autumn Layers | Anthropologie, Free People + Block Shop Textiles - offbeat + inspired

If I have any say in this at all — fall has arrived. It’s decided! This morning, I woke up at 6AM and it was perfectly chilly outside. My sisters and I had plans. We were going to eat spiced pancakes, drink hot coffee and watch the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls while the sun came up. We did, and it was wonderful.

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Clean Eating | Spiced Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Clean Eating | Spiced Sweet Potato Oven Fries - offbeat + inspired

I’ve got a Whole30 update for you! It’s been a little over a month since I “started” the detox. I put that in quotes because I kinda sorta maybe cheated for the first week straight. Oops. But after that, I dove headfirst into it. I started cooking every night, stopped having frozen margaritas every time we went out for dinner (my weakness, especially at Pepe’s and Le Deauville…), and basically followed every rule I was aware of consistently for the last month. Here are my most notable results, 3 solid weeks in:

Fatigue – I had been having regular fatigue and a really hard time getting to sleep at night prior to W30, but now I have energy all day and I’m sleeping much better. I first noticed the change when I didn’t have my usual late-morning crash — the one after the coffee and breakfast wear off and all I want to do is crawl back into bed and pass out for 3 hours. There’s also much less tossing and turning at night which makes a world of difference.

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Samsung Living Atelier Recap + “Risotto Style” Pasta Inspired By Chef Eric Frechon

Samsung Living Atelier Recap + "Risotto Style" Pasta Inspired By Chef Eric Frechon - offbeat + inspired

The NYC trip last week was a huge success. I had so much fun at the #SamsungLivingAtelier event with the Club Des Chefs and walked away truly inspired. The highlights of the trip for me were so many, but I’ll focus on my top 3:

1. Meeting the Samsung family and getting to experience their creativity up close. When I was invited to attend the launch of Samsung’s “Chef Collection” range of kitchen appliances at their NYC showroom (aka, the Samsung Living Atelier), I was a little intimidated. That’s a massive company. I didn’t know what to expect at all. To my pleasant surprise, I arrived at the Atelier last Wednesday and was instantly blown away by how welcome I felt. The space was big and light with kitchen setups everywhere. I wanted to drop everything and start cooking. The people were all smiles and excitement. The room was buzzing with anticipatory chatter. We couldn’t wait for the chefs to appear and for the new collection to be unveiled.

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The Wake-Up Bar | Don’t Judge A Soap By Its Color

The Wake-Up Bar | Don't Judge A Soap By Its Color - offbeat + inspired

Over the last few years, I’ve watched plenty of food documentaries and read dozens of articles devoted to the study of things we put into and onto our bodies every day. These videos and articles were what originally inspired me to make my own soap. I wanted to undo some of the brainwashing that had me convinced that my shampoo had to smell like candy in order to get my scalp clean, and that if a cupcake tasted like banana, it had to be yellow. As nonsensical as it sounds, the mindset runs deep!

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A Recipe for Cafe Soap

We had a soap party last weekend! A few friends came over and we spent hours melting, mixing, pouring, and having a blast. Coming up with soap recipes and creating them with friends are probably the 2 most enjoyable things about soaping, other than using your very own homemade bar for the first time!

One of the new recipes we tried out was for a coffee soap with jojoba oil. This soap is made with a double-strength coffee base instead of water, used coffee grounds as an exfoliant, and jojoba oil for its great nutrients and skin conditioning properties. We cut the bars last night and now we’re impatiently counting the days until they’re finished curing. We’re really excited to gift these when they’re ready – that is if we don’t end up hoarding them all for ourselves…

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Cold Process Soap Making for Beginners!

About 2 years ago I went on a skincare health kick. I don’t remember exactly what set it off, but it was probably after watching some doomsday documentary about the monsters living in our moisturizers. I’m pretty gullible when it comes to stuff like that, but I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry! I started off by cross-checking almost every bath & body product I was using on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This is a great resource if you have a favorite product and want to know its potential hazard rating. I only felt comfortable using products with a rating lower than 4.  As helpful as this was, I started feeling less trusting of the companies behind the labels. The cosmetics industry does have certain standards to live up to, but you can never know for sure if a label is completely honest! I know this mindset can send me off the deep end where I move into a tree house and eat leaves for the rest of my life, so in the interest of REALISM, I decided to take on a new hobby: SOAP MAKING!

The idea of knowing exactly what was going into my most frequently used bath product was definitely appealing, to say the least. I set out on a mission to create a moisturizing, cleansing, fragrant, all natural soap with quality ingredients. It also doesn’t hurt that quality handmade soaps make WONDERFUL gifts!

There are a few different methods of soap making, but the one I ended up loving was Cold Process (CP). This method has a short prep time and a long cure time.  The cure time (4-6 weeks) is frustrating if you’re in a hurry to use your soap, but a long cure is necessary to produce the best quality. Making a batch of Cold Process Soap takes 1-2 hours initially and then an additional 4-6 weeks before you should use or gift it. This is how long it takes for the water to completely evaporate, resulting in a harder, longer lasting bar of soap. One misconception about CP cure time is that the soap is unsafe to use within the 4-6 week time frame because it hasn’t “saponified” yet. Saponification is the chemical reaction between fats, lye & water that produces the substance we call soap! It actually only takes about 2 days for saponification to complete. So technically, you can use your soap after 2 days, but it will be very soft and will most likely fall apart in the shower. “Aging” your soap is definitely encouraged! The long wait was annoying at first, but it allowed me to walk away from the project for a while, thus avoiding burnout (which I am 100% prone to) AND giving me something to look forward to!

Researching a topic like this can be extremely tedious, so I’m hoping to save budding CP soapers a little bit of trouble by consolidating everything I learned into this post. By the end, you will be equipped to try your first batch of CP soap!

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