Bath soak for dry or sunburnt skin

I was recently over excited by the prospect of sun and happily sizzled and fried to the point of no return and am now suffering the after effects, as I basically do every year. Normally I’m in Spain and just buy diaper rash cream (true story) and suffer it out. This time, I’ve decided to take a more holistic approach. I recently made a body butter for sunburns, whilst it has helped, it didn’t reverse my stupidity entirely. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way, even if it means learning the same lesson every year and somehow seem to unlearn it over the next 10-12 months.

I am trying a serious variety of DIY sunburn stupidity fixers, I opted to try a oatmeal soak bath. I’m really not into baths, at all. Its one of the key signs that I’m sick actually, it’s the twice a year phenomenon when I say ‘I want to take a bath’ and that’s it, showers otherwise for me. I just hate the idea of sitting in your own muck, eugh, it doesn’t agree with my germ OCD. Clearly it means I’m sick enough that I don’t care. 

So when all else fails, aloe vera and body butters aren’t providing the instant healthy brown glow (I live in a fantasy world of false hope), I decided to go for a bath, because I mean I’m already every shade of red and in pain, chances of a bath killing me are slim and I can shower afterwards = win win.

DIY Bath soak for dry or sunburnt skin

Makes: 4 – 1/2C portions Prep time: 10 mins

  • 1 C (125g) Dried whole milk
  • 1/4 C (45g) Baking soda
  • 1/4 C (25g) Ground oats
  • 5 tea bags of 100% Chamomile tea
  • 1 teaspoon (5mg) of sweet almond oil
  • 3 drops of Lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops of Tea Tree essential oil

Now to make this happy healthy skin bath soak:

1. Using a coffee grinder (I have one specifically for my DIY body stuff), open your Chamomile tea bags and pour them into the grinder. Grind it down until it no longer breaks down the Chamomile, I found it ground about half the mixture and the rest were still whole size. Add in your oats to the ground Chamomile and grind until a fine powder.

 

2. Next take your essential oils and mix them in with your sweet almond oil. Once this is stirred together, pour it into your baking soda and mix it well, you are rubbing the oils into the soda to give an even mixture. I would suggest you do this in a separate bowl, I did it in a tiny bowl and made a horrific mess.

3. It was at this stage that I realised my tiny container wasn’t going to be anywhere big enough to hold the mixture (which is over 2 cups). I transferred the mixture to a Tupperware container that would allow me to properly mix and then added in the milk powder. I then put the lid on the container and shook it until it was completely mixed.

4. To use, add 1/2 cup of the oatmeal milk mixture to warm water and stir to dissolve. This will give you murky water. Soak in the bath for a minimum of 30 minutes to get the benefits of this mixture. You will need to rinse yourself and the bath off after the soak, as you will have bits of oatmeal and chamomile on you and can you can see, the bath gets  covered too.

 

My skin did feel better after this soak, however, this wasn’t quite the sunburn remedy that I had hoped it would be. I think when you’re red, in pain and utterly impatient in general, you hope for miracle cures and sadly this wasn’t one of them. I absolutely believe there are benefits to this bath soak, its just not a instant remedy for sunburn.  I think this is probably more of a winter dry skin soak, to help beat winter dryness and I would recommend it for that.

Facts that make this soak great:

  • Dried milk provides moisturising and softening benefits for skin
  • Both oatmeal and baking soda reduce inflammation and soothe the skin
  • Chamomile and tea tree essential oils are anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial.

I’d like to add that I’ve now also tried a bath with apple cider vinegar, not going to lie, it smelt horrific, it did sting and another remedy that didn’t quite live up to the internet speculation of sunburn cure.

Day 3, Im slowly starting to turn a shade of brown but still very much so have red painful to touch areas. Sadly my face has also started to peel, urgh. Im going to carry on with my regime of lotions, potions and soaks but I think the answer is… time. The body needs to adjust and heal naturally.

I feel like over the last 3 days Ive debunked a number of internet ‘answers’ to sunburn, none of which provide an instant cure, sadly.

The burn – sunburn, whipped body butter for sunburns

I am what is called a sun worshipper, give me any excuse to lie in the sun and catch a tan, I’m all over it. Theres something about Casper the Ghost white that’s just not for me, understandable for the winter months but not in Spring/Summer. Yes, I know that skin cancer is a real thing and that what I do is dangerous, this is not lost on me and I would encourage everyone to use high SPF levels of sunscreen whilst out in the sun. Naturally, this means that Im a do as I say, not as a do kind of person.

The weather in the Netherlands has been AMAZING this week, which is rare, unusual and unprecedented, which means that I naturally had to take advantage of it (I can’t begin to express how happy that I am winter is over and hopefully all the grey with it). It started out with a farmers tan, sitting in the back garden with the cats whilst reading, if the cats are happy in the sun, then I’m happy in the sun.

I had a light bulb moment of realising that I’m not far from the coast or the beach, hooray! Given that the hottest day of the year to date was being predicted, I decided to take advantage of it and go to the beach, that’s probably where I should have realised it was a bad idea and I would have been better in the garden with the cats.

I am a pampered princess, I can’t deny it. I’m a creature of luxury and camping or roughing it in any form has never been for me. My mother taught me at a young age that ‘camping’ was staying in a 2 star hotel or a motel and this is something that has been ingrained me in since a young child, which probably explains a lot about me.

I opted for what is considered to be the most popular beach near Amsterdam, Zandvoort aan Zee. I have to say that I was disappointed because it just wasn’t as nice as I was expecting. I understand that after spending a lot of time in Spain, its clean beaches and nice pools have ruined me. I just wasnt expecting dog excrement amongst the debris on the beach, it just added an extra level of grossness for me, which then heightened my germ OCD. I spent a few hours at the beach, quite literally sizzling like bacon in the sun and long enough to be utterly covered in sand, despite never leaving my blanket. I havent been quite so happy to get home and take a shower in a long time.

On the way home I was feeling ‘warm’, my skin was starting to feel more tender than wagyu beef and a tenderloin put together. I hoped that it was my skin turning into a healthy brown glow… no, no it was not. By the time I got home, I realised that I needed to start applying moisturisers and lotions and basically anything that would make it less ouchy (technical term). I decided to have a look too, you know, in the mirror to see how bad it was…. So I did my own version of The Scream by Edvard Munch and realised why it hurt when I sat down, because my legs (and all other areas) were various shades of red. I can already tell that I’m going to peel, which does not give me something to look forward to.

 

Sometimes aloe vera isn’t enough and that Id decided to make a body butter specifically for sunburns. Heres my body butter for sunburn, whilst it did help, it sadly wasn’t the overnight remedy I was looking for. I’m currently on day 2 of rubbing various potions into my skin to make it better. Yes the red is less, which is good but it does still hurt to sleep/lay down/move or wear any form of form-fitting clothing. Best decision made on the day was not to opt for the nudist beach because quite frankly, no one needs burnt bits!

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DIY Whipped Body Butter For Sunburn

Makes: 240g(ish) Prep time: 5 mins Cooling time: 3+ hours Overall time: 4 hours minimum

  • 1/3 C (75g) Shea butter
  • 1/3 C (75g) Cocoa butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) Mango butter
  • 1/8 cup (25g) Coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Sweet almond oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Castor oil – I use camomile infused version that I’ve made myself
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Advocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Apricot Kernel Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (this takes out some of the greasy feel but not entirely)
  • 3 drops of each of the essential oils– Peppermint, Lavender, Tea tree, Frankincense, Eucalyptus and Lemon
  • Clean pots to put your product into or when all else fails, Tupperware!

How to make this burn healing body butter:

1. Over a double boiler combine the shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, mango butter, sweet almond oil, castor oil, avocado oil and apricot kernel oil. Once its all completely melted, combined and no lumps at all, remove from the heat.

2. Allow your mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. Once it has cooled down, add in your essential oils, vitamin e oil and cornstarch (you may want to sieve this in to avoid any lumps or beat very vigorously until they have all been mixed). If you add the essential oil whilst your butters and oils are melting or still very hot, they will be damaged by temperatures in excess of 100F (38C). This can result in reducing their therapeutic value and may cause skin irritation.

3. Now the waiting game starts, you need to wait for the mixture to cool down to the point that it has solidified before you can start whipping it. For me, this literally took HOURS (and given that I was feeling the burn, it felt much longer!). You want the mixture to be more of a solid and have no liquid like texture, so when you put the beaters in your mixture, you can visibly see where the beaters touched. Once it is good to go, use your hand mixer and whip it good! I whipped mine for easily 5 minutes but probably closer to 10, you want medium peaks but not soft floppy peaks.

4. Now to take your whipped body butter and put it in a pot and label them. I made two pots of 60g and one pot of 120g. When putting it in the pot, you will need to tap the air out of the pot where you’re putting it in the pot. I lightly (or not so lightly) tap the pot against a counter top to release any air bubbles in the pot, yes, this does make the lotion slightly less airy but not enough to make a difference and it ensures you fill your pot entirely.

 

Why I used the essential oils that I did?

  • Peppermint: is a natural painkiller and helps soothe burnt areas by providing a cooling sensation.
  • Lavender: reduces the sting of burns and reduces redness. Due to its antimicrobial properties, it’ll speed up healing, allowing your body to recover faster.
  • Frankincense: helps to rejuvenate the skin by hydrating and providing the necessary moisture (and is generally awesome for skin).
  • Eucalyptus:  it numbs the pain, has antibacterial properties that protect the sensitive, sunburned skin from infection.
  • Lemon: speeds up healing
  • Tea tree: has anti-inflammatory properties which help to prevent infection and swelling following a sunburn.

Honestly there are tons of other essential oils that you could add, so you can play around with it and swap out different oils if you wanted or didn’t like the scent of a specific one.

*Notes: you do not have to whip this body butter, you can use it as is once it’s solidified, however, whipping it gives it a fluffier and lighter texture. This body butter does have a greasy texture

*When making body butters, potions, lotions, soaps or any body product, always make sure that the equipment, spoons, bowls etc you use will NEVER be used for edible purposes again and are only used to make body products with.

*When using any essential oils directly or indirectly on skin, ensure that you stay out of sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after application. This might sound quirky but as per this article, the combination of sun and essential oils can cause the skin to severely burn and blister.

Remember to share with friends or just keep it all for yourself! 🙂

Loaded chocolate chip cookies

I honestly believe in starting off the week right by taking sweet treats to work on a Monday, true story! Mondays are pretty awful and anything you can do to make them better, do it! Ive been doing this for years if not well over a decade now. British colleagues thought it was great and never questioned the motive behind the baked good because well free baked goods. Dutch colleagues, this is a different matter and every week they ask me if its my birthday, as apparently you only bring something to the office if its your birthday. I find this entire concept strange, bringing in your own cakes for your birthday, I dont know, it seems slightly usual and kind of cruel. I think I will soon quit explaining its not my birthday and just say ‘yes’ every week instead.

Whats the difference between a biscuit and a cookie? This is only ever a question asked in the UK and possibly Europe but absolutely never asked in the States. Cookies are soft and slightly fluffy, generally melt in your mouth when you eat them. Biscuits (I refer to the British edible) is a very hard cookie that you are forced to dunk into tea/coffee to make it soft enough to chew without damaging any dental work. Given that my childhood was in the States, I prefer cookies and find British biscuits, well, sad.

I happened across these cookies and kind of feel in love with them, they are fully pimped out chocolate chip cookies that are over loaded everything but the kitchen sink.

Overloaded everything but the kitchen sink chocolate chip cookies

Makes: 25 cookies   Prep time: 15 mins Bake time: 12 mins per batch Total time: 60 mins approx

Required Ingredients:

  • 1.5 (195g) cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) Caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups (265g) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1.5 cups (135g) old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cups (60g) toasted coconut
  • 3/4 cup (95g) chopped pecans
  • 1 box (4oz/113g) Reese’s Pieces

Now to make these super delicious cookies

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a baking/cookie sheet with parchment/greaseproof paper.

2. In large bowl or kitchen mixer, beat your room temperature butter until soft. Gradually add in the sugars and mix until light and fluffy. (this is me forgetting to take a picture when between putting in the caster sugar and the brown sugar)

 

3. Add in the eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix until fully combined. Technically you should add in the eggs one at a time but Im lazy and think its easier just to chuck them all in.20180415_150537

4. If using a kitchen mixer or electric mixer, switch over to a wooden spoon at this point. Stir in the flour and salt until just combined ( I forgot the cinnamon in the previous step, hence the extra brown colour). You NEVER want to over mix a cookie dough, as this can create hard cookies (or the ultimate insult, it can your your cookie into a biscuit, OH THE HORROR).

5. Stir in chocolate chips, oats, coconut, Reeces Pieces and pecans. Mix until just combined and no more (see note above).

6. I use a medium sized ice cream scoop for cookie portioning, as this allows for each portion to be roughly the same weight and size. Otherwise use two large tablespoons and place cookie dough 3 inches apart on baking sheet. The dough is super wet/sticky, so dont try rolling it between your hands, you’ll just make a mess. I do also flatten the tops slightly with a spoon. As you can see Im rather heavy handed with my scoop and rarely are my cookies ever the same weight/size/shape etc, I like to think they are all unique differently with a homemade look about them.

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7. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. The middles should appear slightly under done. Remove cookies from rack to cool.

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These are the super delicious overloaded everything but the kitchen sink chocolate chip cookies. I have to say Im kind of impressed with myself and these cookies. My colleagues and friends also liked them, so Id say these are a bit of a success.

Notes: I dont use baking powder or baking soda in my cookies, as this makes them too fluffy and more cake like than cookie like. You can also make an adult version of this cookie buy mixing in 1 shot of espresso into the batter, which will enhance the flavour. You can substitute peanut butter chips for the Reece’s Pieces. You can basically throw in anything you like to this recipe, such as dried banana chips, chopped up pretzels, or even mini marshmallows.

Remember to share with friends and enjoy! 🙂

 

 

 

8 months in…

… and I’m still not entirely convinced. Every week my mother asks me vaguely the same four questions: Am I settled? Do I miss the UK? Do I consider the Netherlands home? and lastly, am I dating anyone? – for the purpose of this blog and much like every time she asks this question, I’ll avoid giving any response and change the subject.

Am I settled? I think so? I’ve most certainly created a life here, have met great people and created a incredibly varied social circle. I’ve had experiences here that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.  I was quite anti-social in the UK, as I already had the social circle, a routine and I never needed break outside of that. Where as here, its starting from scratch and being more social in the last 6 months than I had been in the last 10 years. I host local social gatherings, dinner parties, coffee and chat, give baking lessons, and everything in between that means I’m now very approachable (I’m not always sure about this) and social. It’s very different for me and some days I do feel like I spend half my day on Whatsapp but its fine and its nice to be needed. I purchased a museum card which gives me access to over 400 museums across the Netherlands and I’m enjoying it, seeing all the culture that the Netherlands has. I guess one of my quirks is that I have 4 boxes in my bedroom that I refuse to unpack, yes, over 8 months in and I still have boxes unpacked. I refuse to unpack them on the basis that once its done, theres no going back and its official that I’m here, making it a done deal. Theres just something monumental about these last four boxes and I refuse to cave in. It probably helps that I don’t need/use anything that’s in the boxes.

Do I miss the UK? No. There are elements of the life that I had in England that I miss but they could easily be replicated anywhere. Honestly I’m surprised that I don’t miss it more, having spent the last 16 years there, I was expecting more attachment to it. For me Brexit changed everything and I now see a country that I dont recognise. It has changed as a whole and not for the better and it’s not a country I want to live in. The irony is that Im in the Netherlands on a British passport and based on current discussions I would have to return to the UK, as my EU residential status would no longer exist. This is something that absolutely concerns me on many levels but worrying about it wont change it (quite the bold statement for me) and its something that totally outside of my control. Provisionally in my head, I’ve decided that if the worst happens and I go back, that I would relocate to Scotland. Plan B sorted.

Do I consider the Netherlands home? No. It’s absolutely where I live, work, socialise and have my life but it absolutely misses the ‘home’ feel factor for me. I will most likely always be a foreigner here, that’s not a problem. It’s a feeling that I’m familiar with and have no matter what country Im in, even the ones that I hold passports for. The Dutch are also not keen on their citizens holding multiple citizenships, if I wanted to eventually apply for Dutch citizenship, I would have to renounce of my other citizenships and thats not something Im ok with or agree to. So for me, the question is can a country be considered home that I could never be a citizen of? Im going to say no. Watch this space, lets see how I feel about this in another 6 to 18 months time.

Whilst I have many complaints in my daily Dutch life, I also know that I’m incredibly privileged within my life and I don’t have to worry about female rights, religion limiting  what individuals are allowed to do, or famine and war. I live in a country that is safe, considered to be incredibly weathly (I wont comment on my 54% tax rate) and where people are happy.

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When the sun is out, its a truly stunning country.

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