Photography by Jeff Coulson Image by: Photography by Jeff Coulson
Photography by Jeff Coulson Image by: Photography by Jeff Coulson
Here's how to make your own shower bomb with essential oils for a whole new level of relaxation.
If you enjoy a hot shower or bath to help you relax at the end of a stress-filled day, you'll love these quick DIY shower bombs that allow you to add a soothing essential oil blend to your shower's steam. Essential oils have long been used to aid everything from sleep to energy.
Now Solutions created this recipe to help you get the benefits of essential oils through inhaling the scented steam of your shower—it's like your own home spa treatment. When these scents are diffused through steam, they reach the nerves in the olfactory cavity, which go right to the brain, so you're likely to feel the calming effects right away.
How to make your own shower bomb
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a mini-muffin tin with foil liners. Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of water to form a thick paste. Pour by tablespoon into the mini-muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Top with several drops of essential oils.
For a shower bomb that will help you relax and unwind, Now recommends a blend of one drop of chamomile oil, two drops of lavender oil and two drops of sandalwood blend oil. But you can make your own blend, too. Clove essential oil is also soothing and comforting, as is ylang ylang. Or, if you're looking for a pick-me-up to start your day with, basil essential oil is known to be energizing, and bergamot and lemon are both uplifting scents.
When your shower bomb is ready, place it on your shower floor and enjoy the relaxing vapours.
Want more ways to destress? Check out these eight stress-busting habits.
Olsen's latest cookbook reveals her secrets for baking success—and it starts before you even preheat your oven.
For pastry chef Anna Olson, the beauty of desserts lies in the ingredients—the humble beginnings that, through the craft of baking, come together to make something that's more than the sum of its parts. When looked at as simply flour, sugar, butter and eggs, even the most magnificent cake or pastry is achievable for novice bakers. Perhaps it's that simplified approach, in combination with her stunning confections, that makes Olson so widely appealing. In her latest cookbook, Bake With Anna Olson, she shares more than 125 recipes from her popular Food Network Canada series of the same name—and she doesn't stop there: The Atlanta native, who spent her childhood in Toronto and now lives in Welland, Ont., also gives readers the know-how needed to truly hone their baking skills. After testing out a few desserts from the book (find the recipe for one of our favourites, Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies), we caught up with Canada's baking sweetheart to talk ingredients, kitchen tools and technique.
Jennifer Bartoli: When it comes to selecting baking ingredients, what items are worth splurging on?
Anna Olson: Good-quality vanilla extract and chocolate. Vanilla is a flavour builder; you notice it in your baking if the quality is there. I find that you need less of the good quality than the cheap and cheerful, so you're not actually spending more money. Good-quality chocolate is also really worth it; your desserts will only taste as good as the chocolate you're using, and good cocoa powder counts just as much.
JB: One ingredient that bakers use time and time again is butter. What are your tips for working with this must-have?
AO: To soften butter, cut it into small pieces and scatter them on a plate. They will come to room temperature within half an hour. If a recipe calls for room-temperature butter, your eggs should be at room temperature as well. To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, immerse them in a cup of hot tap water for two minutes per egg. If you need three eggs, for instance, immerse them for six minutes, changing the water halfway through, and the eggs will be ready.
JB: Baking can be finicky. What's one mistake novice bakers tend to make at home?
AO: People think that when they set their oven to 350°F and it beeps, the oven is at 350°F. An oven thermometer costs about $7, and that's money well spent, as you'll know for sure what temperature your oven runs at; if it's off by more than 10 to 14 degrees, call someone to calibrate it.
JB: What other baking tools do you use regularly?
AO: One is an offset spatula; mine is an extension of my hand, and I'd be lost without it. I use it for anything from lifting warm cookies off of a baking sheet to frosting and decorating cakes. The second tool would be a plastic bowl scraper; I use it to fold cream into melted chocolate when I'm making mousse, and to incorporate egg whites into cake batter, but you can also use it to scrape out batter [from a mixing bowl] so you don't waste a single drop.
JB: Many home cooks shy away from rolling out dough. What's your best tip for working with pastry dough?
AO: If you're rolling out pie pastry that has no sugar, pull it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to roll it. You're often told to avoid letting the dough warm up, but if it's ice cold, the butter inside will be solid and the dough will crack. If it's a dough that contains sugar, you can knead it a little bit to soften it. A wooden work surface, like a cutting board, usually works best for rolling out dough; it holds an even temperature.
An avid locavore, Anna Olson shares a few of her favourite food destinations in Ontario's Niagara Region, where she resides with her husband and fellow chef, Michael.
Bremfield's, Port Colborne, Ont. "This family-run bakery and café offers fantastic baked goods, as well as wholesome lunch offerings that erase any guilt about eating that lemon square or butter tart," says Olson. "Fruit pies abound, but you have to get there early, before they sell out!"
The Kitchen, Ridgeway, Ont. "This little gem is located in a quaint hip town between Port Colborne and Fort Erie. It's the best place for a super sandwich on rustic homemade bread or for sweets and treats made using local fruit. The owner, Jenn Wilkinson, even carries on her grandfather's tradition of making pulled saltwater taffy."
Welland Farmers' Market, Welland, Ont. "This market runs year-round, and I rely on it for my local fruit and vegetables," says Olson. "In the wintertime, root vegetables and apples are predominant, but be patient; asparagus season is only a few months away! You can also rely on the market for fresh eggs—hen, duck or quail—as well as meats and cheeses."
In this excerpt of her new book, Arianna Huffington explains how getting enough rest is a must—for long-term health, yes, but also for keeping the weight off, doing well at work and even for better skin.
It is industrialization, for all its benefits, that has exacerbated our flawed relationship with sleep on such a massive scale.
We sacrifice sleep in the name of productivity, but ironically, our loss of sleep, despite the extra hours we put in at work, adds up to more than eleven days of lost productivity per year per worker, or about $2,280. This results in a total annual cost of sleep deprivation to the US economy of more than $63 billion, in the form of absenteeism and presenteeism (when employees are present at work physically but not really mentally focused). "Americans are not missing work because of insomnia," said Harvard Medical School professor Ronald C. Kessler. "They are still going to their jobs, but they're accomplishing less because they're tired. In an information-based economy, it's difficult to find a condition that has a greater effect on productivity.
Sleep disorders cost Australia more than $5 billion a year in health care and indirect costs. And "reduction in life quality" added costs equivalent to a whopping $31.4 billion a year. A report, aptly titled "Re-Awakening Australia," linked lack of sleep with lost productivity and driving and workplace accidents. In the United Kingdom, a survey showed that one in five employees had recently missed work or come in late because of sleep deprivation. The researchers estimated that this is equivalent to a loss of more than 47 million hours of work per year, or a £453 million loss in productivity. And almost a third of all UK employees reported feeling tired every morning. Yet, though awareness is spreading, few companies have given sleep the priority it deserves, considering its effects on their bottom line. In Canada, 26 percent of the workforce reported having called in sick because of sleep deprivation. And nearly two-thirds of Canadian adults report feeling tired "most of the time."
It turns out that women need more sleep than men, so the lack of sleep has even more negative mental and physical effects on them. Duke Medical Center researchers found that women are at a greater risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and depression. "We found that for women, poor sleep is strongly associated with high levels of psychological distress, and greater feelings of hostility, depression and anger," said Edward Suarez, the lead author of the study. "In contrast, these feelings were not associated with the same degree of sleep disruption in men."
As women have entered the workplace—a workplace created in large measure by men, which uses our willingness to work long hours until we ultimately burn out as a proxy for commitment and dedication—they are still stuck with the heavy lifting when it comes to housework. The upshot is that women end up making even more withdrawals from their sleep bank.
"Let's face it, women today are tired. Done. Cooked. Fried," wrote Karen Brody, founder of the meditation program Bold Tranquility. "I coach busy women and this is what they tell me all the time: 'I spent years getting educated and now I don't have any energy to work.' "
Just as sleep is universal, so is the belief that we don't have enough time to get the sleep we need. But we actually have far more discretionary time than we realize. The key is taking an honest look at how we spend it. In her discretionary time, for example, Sherry Turkle, professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, has been using TV as a reward, letting herself watch shows such as Mad Men, Homeland, and The Americans after working on her book. "I felt like I earned these elegant treats," she told me. "I remember saying 'Orange Is the New Black is mine' after I finished the 'Friendship' chapter of Reclaiming Conversation. As I worked on the 'Romance' chapter, it was House of Cards. I wouldn't have said, 'I'm prioritizing television drama,' but what strikes me is that I never said, 'I'm prioritizing sleep.' "
That's the case for millions of people around the world, despite how high the costs of sleep deprivation are. The incidence of death from all causes goes up by 15 percent when we sleep five hours or less per night. A 2015 CNN.com article based on the latest findings by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, provocatively titled "Sleep or Die," discussed the connection between lack of sleep and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. In other words, getting enough sleep really is a matter of life and death.
And even when it doesn't kill us, sleep deprivation makes us dangerously less healthy. Dr. Carol Ash, the director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health, points out that even losing an hour of sleep per week—which many of us do without a moment's thought—can lead to a higher risk of heart attack. Even the switch to daylight saving time can temporarily disturb our sleep patterns.
A lack of sleep also has a major impact on our ability to regulate our weight. In a study by the Mayo Clinic, sleep-restricted subjects gained more weight than their well-rested counterparts over the course of a week, consuming an average of 559 extra calories a day. People who get six hours of sleep per night are 23 percent more likely to be overweight. Get less than four hours of sleep per night and the increased likelihood of being overweight climbs to a staggering 73 percent. That is due in part to the fact that people who get more sleep produce less of a hormone called ghrelin—the "hunger hormone," which increases our appetite. The sleep-deprived group also had lower levels of the hormone leptin, the "satiety hormone," which lowers our appetite. In other words, cutting back on sleep is a fantastic way to gain weight. Other research points to the role of sleep in the production of orexin, a neurotransmitter that normally stimulates physical activity and energy expenditure but is reduced when you are sleep-deprived.
The bottom line? When we're not well rested, we're not as healthy. And it shows. In a Swedish study, untrained participants were asked to look at photos of both sleep-deprived and well-rested people. Participants judged those in the sleep-deprived group as "less healthy, more tired, and less attractive." An experiment in the United Kingdom tested the effects of sleep deprivation on a group of thirty women. Their skin was analyzed and photographed after they slept for eight hours and then again after sleeping six hours for five nights in a row. Fine lines and wrinkles increased by 45 percent, blemishes went up by 13 percent, and redness increased by 8 percent. In other words, we wear our lack of sleep on our faces.
The Sleep Revolution, $35, by Arianna Huffington.
Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins
Photography by Mark Burstyn Image by: Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn