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I have food on my face. (Mocha-Frappuchino Facial Mask)

I may have mentioned that Crunchy Betty rocks.

Today, since I had the ingredients all in my fridge, and since I was going to work from home this morning anyway, I decided to try her Mocha-Frappucino Facial Mask.  My face has been getting sort of dull and oogy, and since ditching most of the commercial products I haven’t really settled upon anything new to keep it life-ful, so I figured what the heck. So here I sit, with a sort of odd mixture of coffee grounds, cocoa powder, yogurt, and honey on my face. Feels sort of weird, but no weirder than any other mask I’ve ever used–what’s more bizarre is the delightful smell surrounding me–yes, this is food I’m wearing on my face.  It’s scary-easy to make, just mix equal parts (I honestly made way less than her recipe) coffee grounds, cocoa powder, and plain yogurt, with half-a-part honey (I did a teaspoon each of the first three and then half a teaspoon of honey, which was plenty for my face for one use), schmoosh them up good, and smear them on your face. Wait a bit, rinse off, while gently rubbing the coffee grounds around to exfoliate. Which I’m going to do now…hang on for a few minutes, okay?

VERDICT: Holy ever-loving Mother of God. I mean, with full out Hail-Mary-full-of-grace-thank-God-for-my-amazing-feeling-face.  (I don’t mean to take her in vain or anything–I’m sure if she had access to this facial mask she’d be just as blown away.) Wow, I totally didn’t expect it to be this unbelievable.  It took me longer than I expected to get back to my computer just because I was standing up there just sort of touching my skin for a few minutes, not quite believing what it feels like. Pores closed up, nice and smoothly consistent all over, no scary tingles or burny feeling or anything. Just plain…lovely.

A couple of notes: First of all, I didn’t take Betty’s advice on two fronts: one, she said if one is going to use recycled coffee grounds one should use ones that were very fresh, like within 20 minutes of brewing. And that due to mess, one should probably rinse it off in the shower.  I did not take these pieces of advice for one basic reason: I didn’t want to try this while my family was home, and sit there with a brown lumpy face at breakfast while I drink my coffee and have them give me crap over it.  So I waited till they were gone, then used the grounds, and washed in the sink.  I do not feel particular caffiene jitters at the moment, and I did not make a huge mess in the bathroom…but one of these days I should try it with non-used, freshly ground beans instead and see what comes of it.

All my friends whom I love–the next time you feel tempted to go out and buy some expensive facial mask or wash or whatever, please, please try this first! Do it when your loved ones aren’t home, you don’t have to tell anyone, just give it a shot. (Er…make sure you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients first, okay?)  It’s incredibly cheap, is ten times better than any store-bought mask I’ve ever found, and believe me I’ve found a few, and it’s AMAZING.

Okay, time to start working. With this lovely smell of chocolate still all around my face…

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Un cafe, s’il vous plait! (that’s French for “I love my French Press!”) (Sort of)

I think I’ve mentioned before that I love coffee.  A few dozen times I might have mentioned this.  When I was a kid my mom let me drink coffee, heavily sugared and diluted in milk.  (I’m 5’10”.  If the tales of coffee stunting one’s growth are true, my mother may have utterly ruined my chances of a future with the WNBA. On the other hand, I’m a klutz whose finger jams whenever it even looks at a basketball, so probably not.) I don’t drink it for the caffiene, I drink it because I think it tastes really nice and it’s a socially acceptable morning ritual.  I have to curtail myself on it because if I have caffiene after 1pm I don’t sleep at night, which stinks, but that’s life…

(And before you even say it, decaf is the pits. I can smell decaf coffee about as easily as I can detect “seriously you won’t be able to tell it’s low fat” “chocolate” cookies. If it’s not the good stuff, what’s the point? I’d rather have what I like in small quantities than a bad imitation in plenitude. Accept no substitutes.)

I, like much of America, have “run on Dunkin” for the past few years–mostly because they make better coffee than I do, it’s fairly inexpensive, and if I order a small it comes in a cardboard cup instead of the styrofoam the medium and large come in.  And I’ve felt a little guilty about it, because I’m still spending discretionary income on COFFEE, for God’s sake, and still generating more garbage.

A couple of months ago I dug out my old Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker, determined to make it work. (This is after two or three failed attempts to just stop drinking the stuff.)  I tried, but the coffee the thing made was desperately unfulfilling, even when flavored with eggnog instead of cream.  At some point I sent out plaintive and wistful wishes for my own French Press, even while admitting I really didn’t need one, and Santa Claus (alias my mom) obliged me with my very own single-use French Press coffee maker. It says it makes “three cups,” but it means three cups of 4 oz. each, which by American standards is more like one cup.  Or to say in another way, “one person’s total coffee intake for the morning.”  (Even in France, people order more than one, right?)

As I’ve said in the past, I am not generally a “product placement” kind of person.  But MAN, this thing makes good coffee.  Heat the water in the microwave, pour it into the beaker, let it sit for a few minutes, press down the grounds, and there’s this delicious lovely coffee–good enough that I could drink it black and still love the flavor. (I don’t, though. I still do milk and sugar.)

Because the thing is, what I never quite thought of from the name of the “French Press” is that with it I’m making coffee pretty close to what I used to order every day during that lovely week I spent in France 10 years ago, in another life.  What I used to get in a lovely small heavy white ceramic cup at the corner cafe when I’d go in in the morning and say, “Bonjour, Madame! Un cafe, s’il vous plait. Et un pain au chocolat aussi, si’l vous plait.” (I spent that week walking about 6 hours a day. I lost not a pound.  It was the pain au chocolat, I’m sure, though the crepes au miel didn’t help.)  This French Press makes the kind of coffee you make real cafe au lait out of–half coffee, half milk, and it’s still plenty strong. So, yeah, three cups from that coffee maker is pretty much right, assuming you’re doing 4 oz. each of milk and coffee.  And it tastes an awful lot like my memories of those cafes, where I was always served by staff that gave the lie to all those rumors about how “rude” the French allegedly are. I found everyone I met, except the folks at the airport, to be absolutely lovely.

Heating water by microwave is a fairly efficient way to heat water (an electric kettle is even more so), and the Press uses no additional power, and with the small coffee maker you have very little waste. And it takes up almost no space on the counter and is easy to clean.  What’s not to love?

Creamer Woes

Okay, I didn’t quite think it would be this big a deal.  But here I am in another greenage dilemma.

The initial motivation: now that I’m sort of drinking coffee again (I know, bad, but I love the stuff), I had been buying it at McD’s or D&D’s, spending money I didn’t need to (two bucks a day, 20 days a month, not chump change when you do the math!), and drinking all the high-fat creamer and sugar they pump in there. And throwing away a non-biodegradable plastic cup when I’m done.

(By the way–at McDonalds, if you order their iced coffee, you can specify how much cream and sugar you want in it, and I always do, because the way they make it it’s almost undrinkably sweet for me. I usually ask for two cream and two sugar, which means two big pumps of each from their machines.  I think if you don’t ask, they give you four.  I’m sure they have calorie and fat counts on their website somewhere.  If you look, please don’t tell me.)

My office has a Perpetual Coffee Machine. There’s always hot brewed coffee, and it’s not bad.  But I still like cream and sugar in it.  I don’t want seriously perishable stuff like plain half and half, and I would love to be able to get sugar and cream in there together.  So I went looking at those flavored liquid creamers at the grocery store. (I already figured the powdered ones would have too much gross stuff in them, but maybe I’ll check those out next time.) I did a comparison of “French Vanilla” flavored ones.

Big mistake.

Coffee-Mate: first ingredient sugar, second ingredient partially hydrogenated oils.
International Delight: first ingredient sugar, second ingredient palm oil (at least not hydrogenated–palm and coconut oils are more solid when cool), third ingredient corn syrup.
Lucerne: pretty identical to the Mate–sugar, partially hydrogenated oils.

It’s been so long since I deliberately went looking for a processed convenience food that I forgot people still actually sell the hydrogenated stuff.

So finally, cringing, I picked up the little carton of Silk French Vanilla creamer to check it out. (I don’t like soy milk.  I’ve tried, really, I just don’t care for it.)

First ingredient: soy milk. (Promising.)
Second ingredient: cane sugar (not unexpected)
Third ingredient: Palm oil (also not unexpected)
After that, a bunch of thickener things like carrageenan and tapioca startch. Also half the calories of any of the big famous ones.

I bought it. It’s not half bad. Pretty good, actually.  And in this office, no one’s going to be swiping it even if I keep it in the general fridge, because soy milk still has a bit of “ick” factor around this barely-even-recycling, chop down the healthy tree because we don’t like the way it looks, pump-the-a/c-down-to-72 office.

Silk. It’s not just for crunchypeople any more. 🙂
–J

Oh, and P.S.–I also looked at the fat-free Coffee Mate.  First ingredient sugar. Second ingredient–you guessed it, partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  How can a “fat-free” product have oil as its second ingredient?

EDIT: Okay, fewer calories it may have, but it takes like a quarter cup of Silk creamer to give your coffee any sense of “light” at all…which sort of negates any caloric advantage…