Redesigning my Etsy Shoppe

In October I opened an etsy shop called Lavender Beauty Co. The inspiration for the shop and its name came into being for a number of reasons.

First of all, when we got married, Dane and I had a pound or so of dried lavender flowers left over. They were used for the flower girls to throw as they walked down the isle and for guests to throw at us during the send off. But I’d slightly overestimated how much we’d need…

Our little flower girls with baskets full of lavender.

Our little flower girls with baskets full of lavender.

I started exploring different ways to put it to use. I began making scrubs with lavender, aromatherapy pillows filled with lavender, and even used it for baking making lavender lemon bars, vanilla lavender muffins…however most of what I made were beauty products. This led me to explore other beauty products I could make. Around this time I realized that a lot of the time there is gluten in beauty products. It is often disguised as the fragrance, or as proteins. As many of you who have read my blog know, I have pretty severe celiac disease. So I was reacting to gluten in my make up and shampoos, causing me to break out, have itchy, red skin, and so on. In the process of finding gluten free beauty products, I also started experimenting with making homemade lotions and lip balms and was actually really happy with the results.

I wanted to start sharing my products with others so I decided to open an etsy shop. I couldn’t come up with a name. I am terrible at naming things. It can take me months to come up with a satisfactory name for anything. However, I was overly eager to get this etsy shop started, so I settled. “Lavender Beauty Co”  became the name, because the whole thing was inspired by lavenders, and it was beauty products, so it was just obvious and made sense. For the time being it worked.

Whipped Body Oil

Lavender Scented Whipped Body Oil -made with coconut oil, almond oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, and lavender essential oil.

However as time passed, I had trouble coming up with a design that fit well with the theme that the shop name implied. I wasn’t connected with the title of the shop or with any of the potential labels, logos, and so on that I was coming up. Uniformity was lacking in my shop. I wasn’t connected to the shop, I was even starting to lose interest in my own shop. I could imagine how boring it must have been for the people looking at it.

As an aside, I am very interested in conceptual, minimalist art. The art that I make tends to reflect these interests. The problem with my shop was that the design did not align with my artistic interests. Even this blog you are reading right now reflects the concepts of design (and art) that resonate with me: simplicity, minimalism,  no fluff. But my shop was messy, and its appearance a compilation of a bunch of failed attempts that kind of looked ok together, but did not reflect me. It wasn’t my shop, I wasn’t attached to it.

One of my latest conceptual paintings.

One of my latest conceptual paintings -made with oil paint and turpentine on canvas.

As I realized this I tried to come up with ways to truly personalize my etsy shop. My thought process was: if the shop design is an accurate expression of who I am, then I would have less trouble with maintaining a clear, uniform, and consistent appearance. This would also mean I would actually like my shop and like how it looks. All of this in turn would be more attractive, rather than confusing to potential customers, and provide them with a streamline and concise experience.

So I decided it was time for a remodel. I was going to redesign my shop! I am really excited about this process. Step one was coming up with a name that actually meant something.

As I mentioned, I am really really slow at naming anything. So I started with talking to my husband and sister, to bounce ideas off of them. This process started in December. They responded by asking what was the philosophy behind my shop, or what was I even trying to express in a name? This got me thinking. I wanted to express the idea of minimalism. I make my products with very few ingredients because I want to showcase how amazingly beneficial particular ingredients can be. For example, my lip balm recipe contains nothing more than some high quality coconut oil, local beeswax, and essential oils for scent. The people who have used this lip balm have all told me it is the best lip balm they have ever used, and I agree! These testimonies go to show how the use of a few, quality ingredients can have remarkable results. So I wanted this philosophy of quality, simplicity, and minimalism to be part of the inspiration behind the name.

Meanwhile, my husband (who is a major math nerd) was dragging me to our little white board every night to show me cool equations he’d learned about that day in school. Generally everything he showed me was way over my head (math is just not my forte) but occasionally I was truly intrigued. One day as we were discussing potential names for my etsy shop he referred back to something he’d recently shown me- natural log e. Natural log e equals one. It is represented by “ln e”. I immediately knew that was it. It was simple, it represented the number 1, what could be more perfect?

So came the name. Once I had the name, the design was the next step. I toyed with the idea of making the shop super mathematical in design, but I soon realized that I was likely to make up things that made absolutely no sense, and anyone who knew anything about math would spot that immediately. Also, this would once again lead to the problem I’d run into before- this would just not be me. I would be constantly depending on Dane to help me with this sort of design (and let’s be honest-that’s not really how he wants to be spending his time). So I backed away from that idea.

It all came down to choosing a font. Ever since watching this documentary, I have loved the Helvetica font and have wanted to use it for something significant. I decided rather than to have a logo or something, I would just simplify my design to the name and the font. It ended up working quite nicely I think.

Lip balms from my shop with the new design!

Lip balms from my shop with the new design!

The shop is all pretty much set up with the new design. Check it out here. I’d love to receive any feedback!

 

etsy banner

 

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Giant Breakfast Banana Muffins! (gluten, dairy, refined sugar, soy free)

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Every so often I really want a banana. Then, instead of just buying one, for some reason I always buy an entire bunch. Soon enough though, they are overly ripe and turning brown, so I have to use them asap or they’ll go to waste.

This recipe was formed when I found myself in this exact scenario last week. The result: the perfect, delicious way to use up bananas in excess.

The intention behind this recipe was to be a healthy, on the go breakfast option. I try to always have bread, granola, muffins, bars, or something, baked at all times for a quick on the go breakfast. Dane and I leave the house by 6:45 every morning, I for work and he for class, so having something quick, tasty, nourishing, and filling enough to hold us over till lunch is important. Hence I made these muffins giant, rather than the normal-cupcake-size. If you’d rather use these as a snack for in between meals, definitely try them out in a smaller muffin tin.

Below is the recipe for the perfect breakfast banana muffin. It’s high in all sorts of good things such as potassium (bananas), antioxidants (coconut oil), protein and good fats (almond, eggs, and coconut oil), fiber (coconut flour, buckwheat, almond), and more! What’s more is they’re naturally sweetened by the bananas and the small amount of honey, so they won’t cause the highs and lows in your blood sugar levels and mood swings that muffins made with refined sugar will do. The sweet flavor is contrasted with the spicy notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

Enjoy!

Giant Breakfast Banana Muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 4 very ripe medium size bananas
  • 1/3 cup pure honey
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal*
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

*note: as a simpler option, I have made these muffins with almond meal only, rather than the mix of flours listed above. To Both are delicious, so I encourage you to try whichever you prefer, if not both!

Directions:

Puree together the bananas (peeled), honey, coconut oil, and eggs in a food processor or blender.

Add the spices and baking soda and salt.

Add the flours one at a time, mixing well in between. If you are using  blender, this process might start to clog it. It might be better to pour the mix into a bowl at this point and sift in the flours by hand.

Pour the batter into 6 large sized prepared muffin tins or silicon muffin cups.

Bake at 350F for 30-40 min or until just beginning to brown on the top.

Makes 6 large muffins (If you prefer to make regular sized muffins it will make more than six. In this case, also shorten the baking time to 20-30 min)

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Gluten Free Strawberry and Peach Cobbler (6 cartons of strawberries continued)

So remember this post when I told you all how I had 6 cartons of strawberries? Well….I must admit that I just now got to that final, sixth pack. No worries…I checked, each, individual strawberry to make sure there was no mold, they didn’t smell, etc. It must have not been a very ripe batch when I bought it cuz most of those strawberries were still good. 

Anyway, I had strawberries and a bag of peaches my mother in law had given me a week or so before. Similarly to how I am bad at actually eating sufficient vegetables each day, so also I am bad (if not worse) at ever eating fruit. I love starchy things: nuts, breads, etc. That’s why I juice, or have smoothies, nearly every day. All this to say, I had all this fruit in my fridge that was very very ripe, so I decided to bake a pie.

Then I remembered how as a child, peach cobbler was basically equivalent to heaven in my book. I’d lamented when I first was diagnosed with celiac disease that I’d never get to eat my mom’s amazingly delicious peach cobbler again. However, what’s to stop me now from trying out a gluten free one now? Nothing. So I did. I spent (too much of) the afternoon looking up several gluten free cobbler recipes, and below is what I came up with. 

All this to say, not a single carton of those original six went to waste, and neither did that bag of peaches. Yay.

Please enjoy:

Strawberry and Peach Cobbler

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups, 1/2 strawberries and 1/2 peaches
  • 2 tsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbs pure honey
  • 1/2 cup sorgum flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 6 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pure honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups dairy free milk alternative (I used unsweetened coconut milk)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F

Chop up the fruit, add them to a pan, add the tapioca starch, then the honey. Heat on low for 10 minutes.

Whisk together the flours, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, and xanthan gum. 

Next mix that with the coconut oil, honey, almond extract, egg, and milk. Whisk just until smooth.

Pour the fruit mixture into a baking pan greased with coconut oil.

Drop the flour batter by large spoonfuls evenly over the fruit mixture.

Bake for 25-30 min.

Recipe adapted mostly from here.

 

Carrot and Spinach Coconut Cream Soup

This recipe is reminiscent of the Roasted Asparagus Coconut Cream Soup recipe that I posted about a month ago. The main difference is basically just different vegetables. This just goes to show that this is a flexible recipe that can come in handy whenever you have a fridge full of veggies that you need to use up asap, as was the case for me.

I made this Sunday evening, when Dane and I, still not too hungry from having had a large lunch, wanted something light for dinner. The cool, evening breeze made soup a good option, even for summer.

Recipe adapted from here.

Carrot and Spinach Coconut Cream Soup

Ingredients:

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  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable, low sodium & gluten free)
  • 1 large carrot, sliced (comes out to about 1 cup)
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • cheese for topping (optional)

Directions:

Add olive oil to a medium sized soup pan, heat on medium low, and add the onions and salt. Let sizzle stirring occasionally until slightly brown.

Next add the broth, spinach, carrots, and spices. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Turn off heat. Using a spoon with holes in it, scoop out all the veggies and add to a food processor, leaving the liquid from the broth in the pan*. Pulse until pureed and smooth. Return the puree back to the soup pan and stir to mix.

Finally add the coconut milk and the lemon juice, stir and serve with cheese chunks sprinkled on top.

Delicious with bread or as a side to a meat entree (we shared a leftover pork tenderloin). Enjoy!

*This is so that the liquidy soup doesnt explode all over the kitchen, as I learned from experience. If using a blender instead, or if your food process doesn’t have problems like mine, this may not be necessary.

Pizooki’s! (kind of) and Reflections

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The first time I ever saw a dessert recipe with garbanzo beans as the replacement for flour, I was skeptical. That was when my friend Ali posted this recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Since then, that cookie recipe has become an all time favorite in this house, and every person who’s ever happened to be over when I made them was totally impressed and really enjoyed them.

I think that a lot of times people treat recipes kind of like how people treat traditions. You don’t want to change them because…well this is how it’s always been done. The first example that popped into my head actually, was how so many people within churches don’t want to see change in the structure, music, etc., believing that the way things are done (and have been done for the past 80 or so years) are biblicly based. Sometimes upon deeper reflection, it becomes evident that the basis is less Scripture, and more tradition.

So anyway, the point of that silly analogy is this: I’ve come to realize, through my eating restrictions, that I am not actually at all restricted. There are limitless replacements for all the basic staples of baking: flour, eggs, sugar, and milk to name a few. Nearly every plant can be dried and ground to make a flour. There is corn flour, potato flour, garbanzo flour, coconut flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, and more. For every recipe, refined sugars can be replaced with honey, palm sugar, date sugar, coconut sugar, etc. And any visit to the grocery store will reveal the every expanding variety of dairy free milk alternatives.

Discovering I had so many food allergies was one of the most devastating things to ever learn, initially. Yet so much good came out of it. I was forced to get creative, forced to try things I would have never even been interested in, and as a result, my eating habits became immensely, if not extremely, (not to mention accidentally) healthy.

This month is one year exactly since I’ve gone gluten, dairy, soy, and refined sugar free*. I was reflecting on this last week and I realized that these restrictions were ironically liberating. I used to hate food/eating because it was my enemy, I was sick after nearly every meal I ever ate. It is amazing because soon after I found out about my dietary restrictions, I started writing my thesis paper for my undergrad degree on food as a gift. What followed was a major paradigm shift. The synthesis of studying food theology, philosophy, aesthetics, and sociology, while simultaneously in my day to day/meal to meal life practicing new eating habits, I was beginning to have a new experience with food. Food no longer made me sick. Food still actually tasted good. Really healthy food could be more tasteful than anything I’d ever eaten before. (I didn’t actually even set out to eat healthy initially, I just set out to eat something out of all the seemingly “nothing” that I was aloud to eat.) Eating was not only enjoyable, but was right. Humans are made to enjoy this gift.

All this to say, today I came across another desert recipe with garbanzo beans. Desserts like this sound “gross” to some people…which inspires me all the more to make it. It was a recipe for a pan chocolate chip cookie “pie”, but I tweeked it a lot to make it double chocolaty aaaand added “ice cream” to go on top because then it’s like a pizooki! And I haven’t had a real pizooki in like 6 years.

Below are two parts to this post, one with the pan cookie recipe, and the second with the banana chocolate ice cream/cold frosting thing. Enjoy!

*(I’m not actually allergic to refined sugar, so when I’m out and there are allergen free food options with refined sugar ingredients, I do eat them. I just never bake/cook with it.)

Part I: Pan Cookie

Double Chocolate Chip Flour Free Pan Cookie

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cans (15oz) garbanzo/chickpea beans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used flaxmilk)
  • 1 tbs almond extract
  • 3 tbs oil (I used coconut)
  • 6 tbs pure honey
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup coco powder
  • 1 cup oats (certified gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a food processor, blend the garbanzo beans, applesauce, milk, almond extract, oil, and honey and blend until smooth.

Next add the baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder pulsing the food processor between ingredients so as to ensure it is well mixed.

Add the oats and coconut and process again until mixed. Lastly add the chocolate chips and mix.

Scoop/pour mixture into a prepared baking dish (I used a square 8×8 one, but I actually recomend using a slightly bigger one so the cookie batter can be spread thinner, and the final result is more like a cookie and less like a brownie or cake in thickness) and bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

When it’s finished let it cool for at least 15 minutes so it can set.

Part II: Banana Chocolate “Ice Cream”

There is nothing icey or creamy about this recipe really. I’ve been seeing all these pinterest recipes lately for these easy ice cream or milk shake recipes involving bananas and cocoa powder. While I was making dinner, I thought about how I should have bought some frozen yogurt to go with the chocolaty dessert that I could smell cooking in the oven. Then I remembered that I had two very ripe bananas in the freezer that I’d frozen a few days back to keep from going to waste. There was the answer: the time had come to try one of those pinterest recipes. However, I was too lazy to try and scroll through all the photos, compare recipes, and find the one I had all the ingredients on hand for. I’ve read them plenty of times anyway…so I made this one up and it turned out delicious. Unfortunately, and as per usual, I didn’t really use measuring tools while throwing this together. So in the recipe below I’ve estimated the measurements to the following ingredients.

(Note: In order for the ice cream to be ready in collaboration with the pan cookies, I recommend starting it as soon as the cookie goes in the oven or even before making the cookie)

Banana Chocolate “Ice Cream”

Ingredients:

  • 2 very ripe bananas (frozen or not-this will just affect how long it has to be frozen afterwards to set)
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used flaxmilk)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend well until smooth. Pour into a bowl and put in the freezer until firm.

Scoop out like normal ice cream and enjoy over the pan cookie recipe above, or just by itself.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls Made From Coconut Flour

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Yesterday was a long day. Dane and I were both pretty exhausted and I, being indecisive as always, was debating what exactly to cook for dinner right up until dinner time. On top of that, I had a late lunch, so when dinner time rolled around I wasn’t even hungry at all. Dane however was starving, and even though I wasn’t hungry, I’d been wanting something chocolatey and sweet for a few days. So, while Dane snacked around in the fridge, I procrastinated making dinner….by making cookies.

Dane ended up doing most of the work though, because he really wanted to help me…

Now is confession time: I love love baking and cooking in the kitchen. It is relaxing to me, a time of quiet solitude to combine ingredients, colors, and textures, and making something healthy, and tasteful. I love working on a meal, then when its finished it all gets taken out to the table and people, whether its just Dane, or Dane and some guests, delight over it. Cooking is a fulfilling and creative outlet for me. The thing is…I like to do it alone. When other people “help” me, it usually stresses me out: whether its their not knowing what to do, questioning what I’m doing and how, or just making loud exclamations and noises. Anyway, I know that I get annoyed, grumpy, and stressed WAY too easily, so this time I really wanted to accept Danes help and try to keep myself calm…he wanted to spend time together after our long day, relaxing in the kitchen, and of course I wanted to spend time together too.

This might have been one of our most successful collaborations in the kitchen ever. I only got a little bit annoyed, and then got over it really quickly. Dane stood by the mixer, measuring and adding the ingredients while I read off the recipe and brought the ingredients to him. Then he rolled the first half of the batch onto the cookie sheet while I cleaned, until, being a perfectionist, he was driven crazy by rolling these perfect little balls of dough and we switched tasks. While they baked, Dane seared some meat on the stove (Dane is the BEST at searing meat) and I threw together a salad. By the time the cookies were done, dinner was done, so we went out to our back porch and ate, then came inside and watched a (really disappointing  movie over cookies and milk. At least the cookies were awesome. And the evening was slow and relaxing, in the company of each other- just what we needed.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pure honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup dairy & soy free chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F
In a mixer or a large bowl, add the eggs and mix, then add the coconut oil, honey, and almond extract and mix again.
Then add the dry ingredients: coconut flour, shredded coconut, and choco chips.
Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on a prepared baking sheet.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
Remove from oven, cool, and enjoy with dairy free milk alternative (we had it with flaxmilk)

ps-the recipe was adapted from here