homemade sugar scrubs

Due to the advent of Spring and my general OCD-ness, I have been on a cleaning and organizing rampage.  Aside from the construction zones, things stay pretty clean around here, but periodic de-cluttering is necessary even at my house.  No drawer or cabinet is safe.  My baking shelves in the pantry were first to get ransacked, and I found all kinds of stuff I had forgotten about.  I planned to make a gift for my friend’s birthday, so finding lavender buds, two containers of coconut oil, and more mason jars than I know what to do with was a pleasant surprise.  My afternoon had a new purpose, and it didn’t involve yard work.  It was gonna be another great day after all.

Homemade scrubs are so easy to make, the scent combinations are endless, and you can quickly whip up a batch from ingredients probably already in your cupboards.  All these smell super yummy, and are a delightful treat for your skin.

Let’s start with my favorite, which also happens to smell like a cupcake!

vanilla bean coconutVanilla bean coconut
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/3-1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp vitamin E or grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, scraped



 Lemon & lavender
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vitamin E or grapeseed oil
juice and zest from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp dried lavender buds



vanilla latte scrub

 Vanilla latte
1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp coffee grounds
1 Tbsp cold espresso, or coffee extract
1/3-1/2 cup vitamin E or grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract



Simply stir all the ingredients together in a bowl, then transfer to a jar or other airtight container until use.  Adjust amount of sugar or oil, depending on whether you prefer your scrub thicker or runnier.


vanilla bean custard ice cream

Yes, I’m aware that Summer is over, but since moving to Portland, I’ve learned not to wait for the sun’s permission to do anything, especially eat ice cream.  When a craving strikes, I go into black-bear-approaching-hibernation mode.  Though my stores are plentiful, I reason the gluttony by reminding myself (and those who try to judge) that a bowl of ice cream is really just a glass of milk.  And it is almost Winter…

This ice cream begins with best custard I’ve ever had.  Ever.  Not just because it’s my mom’s unscripted, going-off-memory, over-the-phone recipe, but because it’s rich, creamy and dispels the myth that vanilla is “plain.”  Only five ingredients, a little swirling of the whisk and patience will take you far.  No restaurant or dessert shop I’ve visited makes it better.  Sorry, fancy school-trained pastry chefs, my mom– despite her antipathy of my dark hair and wardrobe– is, indeed, better than you.



Materials  (makes about a quart and a half)
1 cup half & half
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup flour (omit in ice cream)
3/4 – 1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or paste (or all of it!)
6 egg yolks
1/4 tsp coarse salt



1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat yolks until light and fluffy, and set aside.

2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat half & half, cream, sugar, salt, flour (if making custard), vanilla bean and scraped “caviar” on medium heat.  Stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture is hot, but not boiling (about 5 minutes).  If making custard, the mixture will get thick because of the flour.

3. Remove from heat, and temper the yolks by slowly adding about a 1/2 cup of the cream mixture to the beaten yolks and whisking to combine.  Do this twice, and then pour the tempered eggs into the remainder of the cream mixture.

4. Return the saucepan to medium heat, and cook for another 7-10 minutes or until custard coats the back of a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stirring often to prevent custard sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.  Again, do not let boil.

If you have a thermometer, make sure the temperature of the custard reaches and remains between 175 and 180 degrees F.  Custard is fully cooked at about 176 degrees, and too much extra heat will curdle and cause separation of components.  A few seconds won’t hurt, but a minute will.  If you don’t have a thermometer, remove custard from heat as soon as it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (this is the 7-10 minutes, but it may be only 5).

5. When done cooking, dip the pot into a bowl of ice water to quickly stop cooking; then transfer to a bowl.  Remove vanilla bean, and allow custard to cool at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator.  Cover with a piece of plastic wrap (to prevent a “skin” from forming).

6. To make it into ice cream, simply pour chilled custard into a pre-frozen ice cream maker bowl, and process according to manufacturer’s instructions.

The toughest part of this process is not eating the whole tub on your own.  My best advice: tell someone you’re making it, so that you’re forced to share.  Or not.  Your secret’s safe with me.