Styling By Skin Tone

Welcome!

You know I love fashion, I love shoes, and I love wearing black. I wore black as my only colour for years due to insecurity with my weight and not understanding what colours fit me Shopping in the same stores my friends did I rarely found shades I felt confident in, so I hid under my black dresses and shirts. As I got older I realized that I was shopping in stores that had strong summer themes, which lead a lot of their clothing to be in warm tones, which just don’t suit me! I changed where I shop and suddenly I can find just about anything in a flattering shade, and when I can’t, I’ve learned how to adjust my look to wear it better.

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While skin tone does influence which colours look better naturally against your skin tone, they don’t have to limit you. Today we are going over how to determine your skin, eye and hair tone as well as what colours match well with them. After that we are going to get into how to adjust your make up and hair style to wear colours that aren’t as naturally suitable for skin tones.

Determining Tone

It is important to check your tones under natural lighting, indoor lights will skew results. (This also comes into play with dressing rooms with fluorescent lighting).

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Skin Tone

The quickest and easiest way to determine your skin tone is to look at your eyelids and wrist for your veins. If you see them as purple or deep blue, you are cool toned. If they are a blueish green, you would be a neutral tone and if they are olive or green you are warm toned.

In my case I have very purple veins showing around my eyes and deep blue on my wrist. This leaves me as a cool toned individual.

Eye Tone

Eyes are interesting as blue can sit in any category. If your eyes could be considered “ice blue” or a deep blue without yellow tint, they are cool. Other cool colours include grey and deep green.

Neutral eyes includes dark brown and blackish eyes.

Warm eyes include blues that have a tint of yellow or a brightness to them that would be reminiscent of water. Warm also describes mid to light brown as well as hazel and light green eyes.

I have a Scandinavian looking ice blue eye with a dark band around the exterior, leaving me in the cool category once again.

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Hair Tone

Hair tone doesn’t really have a neutral but it is very easy to see if your hair is warm or cool. In the case that you have matching tone for your skin and eyes, it is recommended to dye your hair in the same tone. It isn’t necessary, and even as this sounds contradictory, dying your hair to match your other tones looks more natural.

Hair tone is most easily seen in the undertone of the colour. Cool hair will have blue, silver, ash or violet undertones where warm hair will have red, brown or yellow undertones.

I have dark blonde hair with no real hue, but seems to be cool. I do have lighter blonde balayage that I have to use purple shampoo on to keep it cool. When it becomes yellow the colour looks odd framing my face but lends well to why warmer toned shirts.

Matching Tones

A good rule when it comes to tones when shopping is to hold the fabric directly against your jawline. If your natural skin tone seems accentuated by the colour, it likely matches you, if you wind up looking ill or natural beside the colour, it isn’t a good match.

Something to be aware of is the trend of clothing tones changing depending on the season. In the spring and summer months you are much more likely to find a plethora of warm toned clothing whereas in the winter months you are more likely to find more cool toned items. Autumn tends to be a fairly even mix of the two. When in doubt, navy looks good on everyone.

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Cool Tone

Cool toned skin looks marvellous paired with jewel toned colours. Bright blues, emeralds, deep purples, ice blues, true pink and the good old white and black. For metallics, cool tones can wear gold as metallic surfaces reflect their tone onto what is around them. A gold metallic shirt would reflect warm tones onto your face, warming you up (in order to make this work the best, warm up your eyes with red or yellow toned colours). Gun metal and silver metallic work well with cool skin tones without adjusting warmth in the face.

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Neutral Tone

Neutral toned skin can play with both warm and cool colours without it looking off. Faded blacks aren’t a good match with neutral skin, so make sure to protect your blacks when being washed. Dark denims, shades of brown and mustard yellows can really compliment this skin tone.

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Warm Tone

Warm toned skin pairs nicely with rich ruby reds, blush pinks, pastel colours and leafy greens. Floral designs often look very nice on warm toned skin as they often have a combination of the above mentioned shades. Rose gold and gold looks lovely paired with warm skin and gun metal can be used if you cool down the eyes with greys, blues and purples.

Adjusting To Other Shades

Colour against the face

Separating colours that don’t match your tone with white, black or neutral tones can help you wear the colours you love without looking off. A white collared shirt with the collar popped over the sweater that doesn’t match can change the whole look. Using a scarf can have the same effect.

Warming Up Or Cooling Down The Face

Warm toned skin compliments gold naturally, but metallic shades can be used to change the appearance of tone on the face. A cool skinned individual who wants to wear warm toned clothing could use a gold highlighter and yellow toned brown shades round the eyes.

For a warm toned individual who wants to wear cool toned, try using a more purple hued blush and blue, white and purple tones around the eyes. Also using a matte finish foundation will help keep the cool toned look.

Clashing Hair colour

In the case that you hair tone does not match the tone of the top you are wearing, separate them. An up-do will separate the two tones that are clashing. Another option if you really love warm toned clothing but you are cool toned is to balayage your hair. If the top is cooler near your face and the bottom is warmer where it would rest against clothing, it can help pull it all together.

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Weddings and Confidence

While it is generally easier to wear what matches you, it isn’t always what you like or what you have the opportunity to wear. Weddings can be the most problematic as bridesmaids don’t often have a lot of control over hair style or dress colour, but you can always fake a different tone for a day with neutral foundation instead of your cool or warm tone and use a little highlighter to warm you up if you need it.

The most important thing I want to say about all this is that while there is colour theory and everyone has good and bad shades on them, the most important part of pulling off any outfit is confidence. Don’t let your clothes wear you, make sure you wear them. Pull your shoulders back, straighten your back and walk with the knowledge that you can do anything.

As always I really appreciate you coming here and spending some time with me. I love hearing back from you guys so please let me know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Quick Buttery French Buns

Hey there,

This week we are doing buns! The best part about these buns is how quickly they can be made. I’ve tweaked and fussed with this recipe for a while now until I could make it just right. These buns are excellent to pair with soup, use for sandwiches and as a breakfast with butter and jam. So here it goes, my recipe for the perfect chewy buns.

I will point out this recipe requires a heat source to speed the rising of the yeast. If you do not own a tradition oven+stove with heat coils and a vent out of the oven, you may need to wait longer for rise times.

Total Time : 95 minutes Yields : 8 Large Buns / 12 Medium Buns

Eva Blakeman – Buttery French Buns
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tbsp instant dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 – 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3-4 tbsp salted butter
Eva Blakeman – Buns Before Being Brushed With Butter

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F
  2. Mix 2 cups of warm water, yeast and sugar together in a large, heat safe bowl.
  3. Place the bowl beside the vent for your oven (hover your hand above the elements of your stove after you have been pre-heating for a few minutes. One of them should have a steady amount of heat coming from it venting out from the oven, you will want to place your bowl beside the element, not on top of it). Let the bowl sit there until bubbles form on top of the mixture.
  4. Mix in the salt and flour one cup at a time. I would recommend stopping at 3 1/4 cups and kneading more flour in as needed later down the line.
  5. Place the bowl back beside the vent for 15 minutes or until doubled in size.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes or until the dough has become smooth and is no longer sticky. Avoid adding large amounts of flour.
  7. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and pull the dough into smooth balls. Place them on a baking sheet covered in aluminium foil and greased with butter. Place the baking sheet on top of the oven and allow 15- 30 minutes for the final rise.
  8. Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the oven a few minutes before putting in the buns. (The humidity will help form a better crust).
  9. Bake the buns for 18-25 minutes. Do not open the oven for the first 15 minutes or you will lose humidity. They should have a hard crust and light brown colour on the top.
  10. Brush the buns with warm butter (this will soften the crust) immediately upon removing them from the oven.
  11. Buns can be enjoyed warm after a half hour of cooling or can be stored in an air tight container after they have cooled to room temperature.
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I hope you enjoyed the recipe! If you tried this recipe, please let me know! Tag me in pictures of your baked goods with @evablakeman on Instagram.


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Eva Blakeman – Quick Buttery French Buns

How To Deal With Combination Skin

Hello,

As you guys know I have combination skin. I tend to be very dry on the chin and around the mouth but oily on the nose, cheeks and forehead. I often have acne on my cheeks and jawline and black heads on my chin and nose. After seeing a dermatologist and trying many products, I have managed to put together a routine that keeps my skin pretty clear.

I should point out, I am not a dermatologist nor a doctor, so all of this is based off my own experimentation with products. If you also have combination skin and have found other products work really well for you, please let me know so that I can try them too!

Daily Use Products

Micellar Water

I use micellar water every morning and night before any other product. It’s able to lift dirts and oils from the skin and doesn’t need to be rinsed off. If I’ve been sweating I use it to remove the sweat from my face to reduce the bacteria from trying to move in. I love using it to remove eye make up as well as it is very gentle around the eyes.

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Salicylic Acid

While this solution does contain alcohol which dries the skin, it is able to penetrate lipids and disinfect. It kills the bacteria both on and in your skin, treating acne. I use the Clean and Clear Astringent because it’s inexpensive and it works. This is a morning and night daily product for me.

I also use this salicylic acid moisturizer to help reduce bacteria on my skin throughout the day. While it does leave my skin feeling hydrated, the hydration is short lived. This moisturizer is more of an anti acne product that it is a hydration product. Nonetheless I like it and have found it to be very useful.

Hyaluronic Acid

This is an acid naturally found in the body and it helps keep moisture in the skin. I love using it after my acne treatments to hydrate the skin. It’s also thin enough to be used for facial massages. Most evenings when I apply it I massage my skin with it thoroughly, reducing stress in my jaw muscles and the underlying muscles on my forehead.

Tea Tree Oil

I use this night mask from the Body Shop for two reasons. The first being it has visibly decreased acne, the second being it’s a little sticky which helps me not touch my face. It has a strong scent at first but dissipates quickly after applying it.

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Bi-Weekly Products

Benzoyl Peroxide

While this product is drying to the skin, I love it. I use it as a mask a couple times a week in the evening. It is also capable of penetrating the lipids so using it as a mask allows the product time to really get in there and kill bacteria. The formula is use is also a Clean & Clear product and I find after using it as a mask, a lot of my dry skin sloughs off with it when I remove it using a face cloth. I should warn you that this product will bleach your wash cloth and towel, so either use white or commit one face cloth and towel to your benzoyl peroxide days.

Microneedling

I use the derma roller twice a week before applying my hyaluronic acid. You can read here about my experience with the derma roller. You do have to vie very careful with disinfecting both the skin and the tool or you can risk infection in the skin. It’s important not to use it near the eyes, but when properly used it allows for much deeper absorption of products applied. I would recommend this tool to any adult who wants to hydrate, reduce acne scarring and help the collagen production in their skin.

Collagen

Photo by Nika Akin on Pexels.com

I use the Mario Badescu Super Collagen Mask. While it has a whipped rubber texture, it dries into an incredibly tight chalk like mask. I’ve noticed improvement in over all pigmentation after use.

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Exfoliation

I love my Mary Kay microdermabrasion product. I use it once or twice a week as an exfoliator. The particles in it are small enough that I have never torn my skin with it, but sturdy enough that my skin feels incredibly fresh after use and I can see no dry or dead skin left on my face.

Lifestyle Changes

Hydration

As we all know, hydration helps skin. Drinking enough water helps my skin and removing coffee and other caffeinated beverages from my diet has helped keep me hydrated as I am no longer ingesting diuretics.

Daily Bathing

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

I take a bath nearly every night, which gives me time to relax, but more importantly in this case, gives me a good amount of time to invest into my skin care. It also ensures that the sweat and dirt of each day gets removed from my entire body each night. I used to shower every two to three days, and I found my face and back had more acne at the time. I can read a book while masks dry or medicated masks do their work, allowing me relaxation and productivity at the same time. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

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Establishing Routine

Skin care routines only work if they are routines. Establishing one can be difficult, especially if you have a partner or children, as their needs may need to come before your own. This is why establishing a routine daily is important. If everyone knows it’s your time to take care of yourself, you are more likely to be able to commit to it. Whether that means waking up earlier than others in the home or taking a daily bath, without consistency a routine won’t work.

Cutting Out The Junk Food

We all know nutrition and skin health are linked and a lot of people notice changes in their skin when they remove something from their diet. In my case, removing dairy and greasy foods leads to better skin. All in all, a healthier you will have healthier skin.

Thank you for being here today and taking the time out of your day to read this post. As always I love being able to talk to you through the comments on on social media! My links are in the bar below and I hope to hear from you soon.

Going Caffeine Free

Hello!

Like most western people I am guilty of having a dependance on caffeine. A couple months ago I decided to cut it out entirely in order to help me reach my weight loss goal. I am a wimp with black coffee and I always add honey or sugar to my tea. So in order to cut down calories, I cut out caffeine.

Was it easy?

Not at all. My head ached with a dull and persistent heartache for days. I craved iced coffee more than I ever had before in my life. I was outwardly very moody and I felt mean during the first three days. I felt finicky with my moods and couldn’t focus on anything for the first while. Considering how bad the withdrawal was perhaps it was a good thing I decided to remove it from my diet. It’s been months and I’m still getting used to the fatigue I feel in the morning. The fatigue isn’t new, but without coffee and tea to dull it, it’s much more difficult to ignore and work past when I’m already grumpy first thing in the morning to begin with.

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I still find it difficult to avoid drinking coffee as my fiancé drinks it every morning and for years he’s been bringing me coffees to cheer me up on bad days. He knows I am avoiding it so he doesn’t bring me treats which is good for my diet, but I do miss the little things like a coffee or a Thirsty Buddha that showed he was thinking about me. Getting an apple just doesn’t feel the same.

In a way it’s good I did this during a non-social time, as we aren’t going out for dinners with friends or having get togethers at home, as the temptation would be much stronger if we were. I do wonder if my resolution will hold when the world re-opens.

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How have I been dealing with it?

A lot of water. Hydration helps reduce fatigue, not to mention just about everything else in your body. Now I do not love drinking water all day so I use Mio to flavour my water when I can’t stand the idea of drinking it. I love the lemonade and black cherry flavours. I’ve tried flavouring water with fruit but since I always use my Contigo water bottle (as seen below) having the fruit can gum it up. I have also taken to drinking a glass of Tonic Water before bed even though I cannot stand the taste of it as it can reduce leg cramps. I often wake up very dehydrated after a long night of sleep because I can’t sleep without a blanket over me, so I sweat out all night. Due to the dehydration my legs often feel cramped in the morning. I have found the glass of tonic to help reduce the discomfort until I can rehydrate.

Eva Blakeman – CONTIGO Water Bottle

Better nutrition has also done a lot to help me keep me energized. By changing my diet and cutting out junk foods I have had more energy. I’ve switched to a lower calorie diet with a lot of chicken for protein and rice for carbs. I’ve found that by reducing my sugar and fat intakes I don’t have sugar crashes, which has made it a lot easier to stay productive throughout the day and avoid reaching for a tea to perk myself back up.

Going for a daily walk has also done a lot to keep me going. It’s no surprise to anyone that daily exercise helps improve mood, heart health and reduce the risk of a lot of diseases, but I’ve also found that the walk helps me refocus and gives me an energy boost for a couple hours. I find the actual walk to be helpful to give my mind time to wander. I think in giving my mind time to relax for a half hour or so helps me refocus with more motivation.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Baking has also helped me a lot. While I am choosing not to eat bread, my fiancé loves fresh buns and I really enjoy making babka and buttered buns. The exercise of kneading bread and scrubbing dishes also increases my daily activity which is good for me. I think taking the time to do something I really love also helps keep me sane during this time.

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I have also been following the mental health recommendation of daily bathing. I usually shower every two days, but I’ve switched to daily baths. I find taking the time to soak in the warm water while I do my skin care routine helps relax my muscles and unwind. I sleep better after a nice long bath and I feel healthier for it.

On that note, sleeping more! I used to sleep around six hours a night but now that I am not relying on caffeine I am sleeping between seven to eight hours a night. My theory is that with the increased physical activity and lack of caffeine combined with sticking to a rigid wake up time, my body is settling into a better sleep routine.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Would I Recommend It?

Yes I would. While it’s an uncomfortable transition, I believe it is worth the discomfort. While caffeine has been proven to increase the basal metabolic rate of adults and can increase muscular strength it does have some less than lovely side effects. It can worsen the symptoms of asthma, negatively affect gastrointestinal processes and in the case of postmenopausal women, it can rapidly increase bone loss. Not to mention the increase in dehydration by drinking diuretics.

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I think kicking caffeine has improved my quality of life, but I don’t know if I will remain caffeine free forever. There is a time and place for everything, and should I really need to stay awake, I know it’s there. I don’t think returning to a dependance on caffeine would be the healthy choice for me so I hope to continue with this lifestyle.

I won’t claim to know more than medical professionals and caffeine has been proven to help with certain medications, so if your doctor recommends you use caffeine, please follow your doctors counsel.

My Favourite Shoes

I’ve been sinking into some YouTube holes lately and one lead me to some old videos I absolutely loved when I was younger. I ran into Grav3yardgirls channel, more specifically her old shoe collection videos. I spent many years trying to get my hands on a pair of Jeffrey Campbells because she talked them up so much. Because of her videos I decided to film one of my own and write this post at the same time.

Eva Blakeman – My Shoe Collection

Jeffrey Campbell – Litas

Jeffrey Campbell Litas

While these shoes are absolutely beautiful, they usually come with a price tag. $220-ish in CAD. I managed to get them brand new at just under $60 which was such a steal. They may be a little intimidating to look at but they are incredibly easy to walk in and the break in period is really short. I love them because they are a closed shoe and they lace over the ankle. With such a high heel and platform it’s important to me to have that ankle support just in case I run into an incline or slippery floors.

Le Chateau – Unknown

Le Chateau Heels

Once again a steal! I got these around $30.00 and have been wearing them for years. They have a very structured toe and lovely detail work. While I have had a couple pair of Le Chateau shoes fall apart pretty quickly, these have never let me down. The rear heel is just starting to show some wear and I don’t think I’ll invest much in keeping them going but they were certainly a good purchase. They wipe clean really easily and the zipper has gotten a little sticky this last month, but I think that’s more so due to me getting some leather treatment in the zipper than anything else.

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Jeffrey Campbell – Litas

Jeffrey Campbell Litas

Oh Lita number 2. I got these second hand for around $50. Though they were previously broken in they fit very nicely. These are an older pair than the white lace ones so they are actually a little shorter in the platform and the heel. They came with a couple scuffs but I couldn’t be happier with them. Such a sturdy shoe, very structured and once again, very easy to walk and run in.

Steve Madden – Booties

Steve Madden Booties

You might notice immediately that these are in shabby shape. I have owned them for 6 years and admittedly I didn’t take the best care of them for the first two years. I wore them daily for a couple years and took them in twice to have the heels fixed due to wear. They are a very comfortable shoe due to the thick heel and structure in the arch. I wish I had been kinder to them as they were in the $220 range. That being said, they took years of winter melting agents, heat, cold and running through downtown very well. The overall style and quality is remarkable and if I ever found another pair I would buy them in a second.

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Doc Martens

Doc Marten Sneakers

These were purchased to replace my much loved Nike Greco Supremes. When they went out of production I bought two pairs but when they finally died, it was time to find a new casual daily wear shoe. These were fairly reasonably priced at around $120 new. Once again they lace over the ankle when I need them to, but in this case I nearly never tie them up. They are incredibly comfortable to run around in and pretty comfortable to wear with wool socks in the winter. I have been vigilant with treating them often and I think they are ageing well. I’ve been wearing them as my daily sneakers for around 3 years and they are just starting to show wear on the soles and in the back of the heel. A supremely good purchase.

Leather Treatment

I prefer leather shoes as they have more longevity and I feel they are a better investment. Leather can be treated at home to protect and restore it whereas synthetics cannot really be “fixed”. Before treatment I use Saddle Soap to clean the shoes. Saddle Soap is a soap designed to clean leather without stripping it. I use a beeswax protectant on most of my leathers with the exception of my leather work boots who generally get a good soaking of mink oil before beeswax to make them more flexible and stop them from making my feet bleed. Using mink oil on heels isn’t recommended as it does shorten the life of the leather, but for work boots I would rather have them live a little shorter and not bleed my way through breaking them in.

Getting leather to absorb oils requires heat but you have to be careful not to melt or burn the shoe. You can use a hair dryer to heat leather before and after smearing the treatment or you can do what I do, which is set my oven to 175 F and put my shoes and boots in for a few minutes before and after. I do the oven method because I like to treat all my leather at once and because it’s easy to keep them warm as I layer treatments into the leather. It’s very important not to let your shoes sit in there too long, especially if you have any plastic on them as they will melt. Be very careful touching them when removing them as any metal will burn you. If this method sounds a little questionable, use the hair dryer method. There are great YouTube videos to follow for restoring shoes if you are interested in trying it yourself.

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Eva Blakeman – Shoe Collection

Why Trying New Recipes Is Important

As you guys know, I love working in the kitchen. A group of my friends and I have been planning a “baking day” where some of the men can learn some new skills and us girls can drink some wine and teach them. We can’t do it right away but I’m hoping in a few months we’ll be able to get together to do it.

I think sharing skills and taking the time to help others learn is incredibly important. Though in this day and age we don’t often have canning days, I think getting together to help each other and to enjoy food and drink is essential. I would encourage everyone to try this whether you are the host, the teacher or the student. Please let me know if you have or will be doing this in the comments!

I’ve been thinking of how to teach when I realized that teaching how to make a recipe is not the issue. Teaching how to change a recipe to better suit you or the environment you are cooking in is. I thought about how most of the recipes I have written in my book aren’t actually how I make the food. As I work with a recipe I adjust it to better suit my taste, my kitchen ware and how I want the final product to come out.

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Minor changes are cook times and temperatures, but changing the process for Babka dough to make it fluffier or how to make a chunky chocolate spread into a smooth and creamy one can change the entire product.

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So I started asking myself how I learned to manipulate recipes to suit me better and I realized it came from trying new recipes so often. With each new meal, new cultural dish, new process comes more knowledge to draw upon. To be the best home cook requires stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new dishes. Experience also helps. You learn from your mistakes and most recipes don’t include a “absolutely don’t do this” section.

One of the simplest lessons I learned was not to fold warm chocolate into whipped cream as it ruins the texture. You have to let the chocolate cool before folding it in! My first time trying it the whipped cream became a soupy mixture that just wasn’t visually appealing. Lesson learned. Also learned that day that id you sprinkle a mixture of powdered sugar and cocoa powder over a complete chocolate failure, it hides it pretty well even though it can’t fix the texture problem.

The first time I made Babka, a chocolate bread dessert, I just couldn’t figure out why the bread was so dense and chewy. I saw the yeast bloom, I kneaded it for 15 minutes by hand, I did a twelve hour cool rest and I rolled it out evenly. The second time I made it I increased the temperature in the oven from 375 to 415 and the difference was incredible. I didn’t change anything else, just the temperature, but the bread was risen with a better crust and it both tasted and felt better.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

I think being able to trouble shoot your own cooking is important. Being able to look at what you don’t like in your finished product and be able to fix it makes you a better cook. Google can often help if you can figure out the specific issue, but it can be tedious to try and find the right answer online, whereas experience and dedication to bettering your skills can lead you down new roads.

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I don’t claim to be the best home cook. I still have a lot to learn and I look forward to a lifetime of experimenting and expanding my wheelhouse. This year I have focused more strongly on desserts. I learned how to Deep Fry Oreos, make a Cadbury Egg Cheesecake and how to make a selection of chocolate breads and dessert buns. Last year I focused on broths, steaks and perfecting roasted vegetables. I don’t know what will catch my eye this upcoming year, but I look forward to seeing what will catch my fancy.

Going back to the baking day we have planned I figured out what I’m going to do. I ‘m going to teach a N0-Knead bread recipe that can be customized to each persons preference that relies on the maker being attentive to humidity and dough moisture. I think this bread is a good starting point as it doesn’t require hand kneading (none of us own stand mixers) but does require adjustment which teaches flexibility in baking. I also want to teach how to make Babka, a more finicky dough that will render your wrists into angry stumps by the time you’re done kneading. This one will be to teach technique as well as how to roll out doughs nicely and how to seal the dough as not to let out the filling. The last items will be standard cup cakes with buttercream and whipped cream frosting. We’ll go over how to make the cup cakes, mix and colour the icing, how to load the icing bag and how to use different tips to create different effects. I would also like to show how to bake, stack and decorate a cake that we can all share. In the end, everyone will get two loaves of bread and a dozen cupcakes to take home (and possibly left over cake). For some of my friends this will be more instructive than for others, but it gives those who know more about baking the opportunity to help the others as we all work together to create a small feast.

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I hope it will be a good day for everyone and while I am a little more experienced than most of my friends, I think they’ll have their own cultural ways of preparing basic foods. As our group is culturally diverse it’s likely most of us grew up with different methods of doing things so we’ll all get to learn new techniques. Personally I have a French background which shows in my food.

I’ll write about it once we get to have our baking day and I hope it will go well. I would love if you would tell me about your own stories in the kitchen.

Walking My Way Through Depression

Though parts of the world are opening up, cases continue to increase, so social distancing and taking precautions is still very much required. This has been and still is a scary and saddening time in our history. Personal health has become an issue for a lot of people, especially mental health.

I can’t pretend to be an expert on mental health, nor am I a doctor, so this is based on my own experiences.

I am prone to both seasonal depression as well as the garden variety depression. I have always lacked Vitamin D, which has been linked to my depression by my doctors. Vitamin D production requires sunlight. I have worked night shifts for a good portion of the last couple years and I live in Canada, a country where our winter long outlasts our summer. Sunlight hours are short in the winter and cloud cover is common. For all these reasons I take Vitamin D supplements to help fight my bodies reluctance to provide me with it naturally.

On top of that, I have been unemployed for some time, which has left me a lot of time to spiral internally without distraction and nothing to wake up to do. No purpose to fill my days and no income to provide the ability to be financially stable. As you can tell at this point, negative things seem to be pilling up when it comes to my mental health.

So how have I been fighting my depression?

In the past when I would sink back into the darker parts of my head, I would sleep 16 hours a day to shorten the time I needed to be conscious and aware of my life. I would eat terribly, gain weight, feel worse about myself and drink perhaps a little more than I should have. My hygiene would decrease and my willingness to talk to anyone would fade away.

I know that story isn’t unique. Most of the behaviours I displayed were common for people with depression. Chances are if you have been depressed, you understand the mindset I was in.

This time around I decided to fight it.

To those who have tried to fight their depression, you have my sympathy. I know it’s incredibly hard to try and fight your brain that keeps trying to pull you under. You aren’t weak if you get pulled under, but you need to keep kicking to breathe again.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy. It’s exhausting, painful and I don’t wish it on anyone. I feel like curling up in bed all day, I don’t want to leave my house, I don’t want to call anyone or drink water.

Then I started to walk. I put in my headphones and just walk. I think a lot about the life I want to live, the person I want to be. I forced myself to smile at the elderly gentlemen watering their flower gardens and day by day it has become less forced. In the beginning I had to wrestle with myself to get out the door, but now I look forward to my walk. It gives me time in the sunlight. It lets me move my body and force some endorphins. If nothing else, walking gives me time out of my apartment.

I call my family at least once a week, and while I’ve been receiving a lot of bad news, it feels better to be in contact than to hide from them. Just hearing the voices of people who care about me changes my day.

The rest of my day still feels slow and without purpose, so I get myself to write, bake and read. These are things I normally love to do, but don’t find as much joy in these days. Nonetheless, doing them helps me feel normal. Even if my writing is less inspired and I’ve re-read the same four books for weeks, I feel more like myself.

It isn’t easy to force myself to do these things and my enthusiasm has disappeared, but I wake up at seven every morning instead of sleeping my day away. I have been losing weight by keeping an eye on my food and haven’t let myself dive into food as a coping mechanism. I drink water all day, no coffee, no tea and no alcohol. It feels forced, but I’m not drowning this time. It feels like I’m treading water. I can breathe, but I’m not walking on dry land.

I didn’t think I could do this. Every time I’ve fought my depression I failed. I would wait until I had purpose again and obsessively throw myself into things to stay stable. I didn’t think I had the strength to stop myself from sinking, but as it turns out, I just needed something more important than my depression. I’m not saying this is the way for everyone, I don’t even know if it’s the healthiest reason to fight, but I realize now there are people in my life that I can’t disappear from. I am running out of time with my grandparents, my parents are isolated, my friends are scared of the pandemic and my fiancé needs someone to come home to. I can’t fall apart anymore. I need to be there for the people who love me. I need to be there for the people who have saved me from drowning.