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Mary Helen
Austin, TX
I can Haas Avocado?
Interests: Mary Makes Good is a lifestyle blog featuring whole food recipes, DIY projects, natural beauty, and a parenting diary.
Recent Activity
I'm probably not the only one whose most ingrained memories of the holiday season revolve around food. There are certain recipes that bring me right back to a lifetime of crowded Thanksgiving tables and bustling Christmas Kitchens. My Grandfather's lobster bisque, my Mother's eggnog sugar cookies, and my Dad's Belgian waffles are just a few that come to mind. It's not just the memories, or even the flavors that designate certain recipes as holiday foods. It's also the time and care involved in the preparation of these treats. It's not everyday that we spend hours working on a meal for our loved ones. (At least it isn't for me.) In a world where almost anything can be delivered to your door the act of cooking something from scratch is truly an act of love. That's what the holidays are all about, right? Over the years I've noticed a few new recipes making it into the holiday rotation. I guess that's a sort of rite of passage in our family - making your own mark on the family table. I wonder which recipes my son will remember when he grows up? Maybe his mama's Almond Cake? Nut cakes, like this one,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Anyone who has ever lived with a puppy or a kitten knows that all that cuteness comes at a price. Baby animals are high energy, often destructive, and almost always extra messy. Don't get me wrong, a lifetime relationship with a companion animal can be something really special - but it requires a level of attention and sacrifice that isn't always possible. When my husband, Scott, and I adopted our dog, Gracie, we were in our early twenties and pretty much overwhelmed with the most basic aspects of adulting. Things like paying bills on time, grocery shopping, and changing the oil in our cars took up the majority of our brain power. When we decided to bring a dog into our lives I knew right away that a puppy wouldn't be the best choice. Instead, we opted for an older dog. Gracie was about three when we adopted her, and even at that age she still very much a puppy. We had a hard time keeping up with her needs for the first two years, but after she turned five she started to mellow out and become a really great dog. Five year old Gracie could go off-leash without pulling... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by The National Honey Board Oh pumpkin, Autumn's most delicious siren, calling hordes of sweet-toothed revelers into the arms of caffeinated beverages and spiced baked goods everywhere. Sometimes I think that pumpkin is downright devilish, but the truth is she's not all that bad. In fact, pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps forms and maintain healthy skin. To me, all of that Vitamin A has the words "facial masque" written all over it. I decided to use some fresh roasted pumpkin puree to moisten a simple besan facial masque using chickpea flour, plain yogurt, turmeric, and a spoonful of honey. You might notice that I use honey in most of my skin care recipes, and there is a good reason for that! Honey is a humectant - a special kind of moisturizer that works by drawing moisture to the skin. Adding a few drops of honey to fresh recipes like masques, scrubs, and lotions, can help to enhance and extend their moisturizing benefit. Pretty neat, huh? Besan facials are always a treat but this particularly recipe left my skin feeling extra smooth and soft. There must be... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
I was co-working with a friend the other day and she dropped a term that really resonated with me: serial entrepreneur. If ever there were a label for my very specific affliction this would be it. I am an idea girl at heart, and have a tendency to spend more time daydreaming about businesses than actually starting them. As such, I know that I've said this before, but THIS TIME I really do mean it. I'm starting my own business! Make It Good Apothecary will be a shop and educational hub for DIY beauty. I'm starting off by selling copies of my book, a small selection of DIY kits, and hosting in-person workshops in Austin, Texas. Our website is already live and ready to take orders! We also have our first workshop series scheduled for December! I'm hosting a three-part workshop series on crafting handmade bath and body gifts - perfect for holiday or year round giving. You can join us for just one workshop or buy tickets for all three! Students will go home with samples of the goodies we made and even one full sized product in each class. AND, to make your holiday gift crafting experience super... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
It seems the more complicated things become outside of the kitchen the more I find myself craving simplicity within its walls. Cooking has always been calming to me, but now my floors are constantly sticky and my counter tops seem to be forever piled with madness. My little hideaway just doesn't promise the same meditative quality that is once had. In those rare moments when I do actually clear the counters, empty the sink, and pull out my chef's knife I am often way too exhausted to consider making anything more complex than a a bowl of cold cereal. Such is the state of things that roasted vegetables on a sheet pan is now a grandiose task. A few minutes slicing up brussel sprouts (though I would have gladly purchased these pre-shredded had the stars aligned to make it so), a quick toss in a bowl with some diced butternut squash, oil, salt, and pepper, and into the oven it goes. My weekday masterpiece! I hope you'll enjoy this too. For all of you out there with toddlers I encourage you to go ahead and buy your squash pre-diced and your sprouts pre-sliced. Those of you without kids had better... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
When CC was an infant I would sometimes wake in the night with my heart pounding out of my chest, overcome with the pure and undiluted anxiety that I imagine all mothers must taste at some point or another. Those were the times when I thanked goodness for the invention of our co-sleeper, a device that allowed my baby to remain within touching distance throughout the long nights of his infancy. I would reach out, lay my hand on his sleeping belly, wait breathlessly, and finally exhale when I was rewarded with some small sound or movement. During the years I waited to become a mother there were countless emotions that I had come to expect. I knew I might feel inexplicably sad at times, and profoundly happy at others. I thought I might catch myself in moments of insecurity or even jealousy as I found my place in the world of parenthood. Of course I anticipated exhaustion and love, but there was one feeling I was surprised by. I had no idea how vulnerable being a mother would make me feel. Here I was, having just gone through a seriously traumatic physical event and suddenly saddled with the enormous... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Roasting and pureeing your own pumpkin is an easy, but essential step in making any delicious or nutritious pumpkin-flavored recipe. It even freezes well, so savvy pumpkin lovers can keep an eye out for low prices, roast up a huge batch all at once and store their bounty safely in the deep freeze until it's time to party. Start off by picking out a good-looking pumpkin. You don't want a massive Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin for this purpose or any kind of frilly decorative gourd. While those pumpkins might work in a pinch, or in some cases even be superior in flavor (see: cinderella pumpkins) what we are going for in THIS recipe is a classic pumpkin flavor and an easy method. Look for pumpkins called "pie pumpkins" or "sugar pumkins". They should be around eight to ten inches wide and eight to ten inches tall. How to Make Pumpkin Puree Preheat the oven to 350F. Set the pumpkin sideways on a cutting board and slice off its stem. Use a sharp knife and remember to keep your fingers out of harm's way. This part is a little dicey. Next, set the pumpkin upright, on it's little pumpkin bottom, and slice that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
I hope that if you are in Austin this weekend you can make it out to one or both of these fun (and free) events. I will be out there spreading the natural beauty goodness and it would be wonderful to see you! West Elm Pop-Up Saturday, 10/03 | Noon to 4pm 1011 West 5th Street Austin, TX I'm going to be hosting a free DIY besan facial bar at West Elm's Pop-Up shop this Saturday. Stop by to say hello, maybe grab a copy of my book, or a kit from my newest project, Make it Good Apothecary. I'll be in good company. Other artists attending include Julie Ahmad Art, The Crunchy Hive, Judith Poe Jewelry, Little Lessons, and local photographer, Philip Rogers. Natural Beauty Solution Demo at Texas Farmers Market Mueller Sunday, 10/04 | 11am to 1pm 4550 Mueller Blvd. Austin, TX I'll be whipping up big fat batches of fresh herb facials at The Texas Farmers Market at Mueller this Sunday! Swing by to take home a facial made with fresh local ingredients, check out my book, and say howdy. With so much local goodness in abundance you'll be glad you did. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Would you believe me if I told you these were fifty thousand dollar cookies? It's OK. I probably wouldn't believe me either, but stay with me here. You haven't heard the whole story yet. It all started back in 2011 after Japan was struck by a devastating tsunami. A handful of home bakers and food bloggers felt for the people suffering in the wake of this natural disaster and put together a massive citywide bake sale to raise money for their relief. I was still pretty new to Austin so I thought volunteering at one of the sales might be a good way to meet new people while helping out a good cause. This was one instance where I really struck gold. I ended up meeting several people that day that are now among my closest friends in Austin. But the bigger picture went far beyond me and my social circle. Austin Bakes has since continued to raise funds for disaster relief, growing from a few tiny tables to an event that spans our entire city. This plucky little band of volunteers has helped out people all over the world and here in Texas. Since their first bake sale in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Who's got two thumbs and is feeling the love so hard right now? This girl. The Natural Beauty Solution Blog Tour is just wrapping up so I thought it might be fun to take a moment to thank all the wonderful bloggers who participated and to share a little bit about each of their posts. It Takes Time | Rosemary Pale Ale Shampoo Bars Andrea kicked things off by trying out my recipes for hand-milled shampoo bars. Her soaps looked gorgeous! Andrea contributed one of the book's "Ask a Natural Beauty Expert" segments. I asked her to share some tips on keeping up with a natural beauty routine and she shared some sage advice. "Transitioning to natural beauty care is truly a journey. Because everyone is unique when it comes to body chemistry and preferences, my suggestion is to embrace the process and keep trying until you find something that works. There is an element of perseverance that is required when it comes to natural beauty care." - Andrea Fabry Too true! The transition period can sometimes be harrowing, particularly for hair care. Like most changes that are truly worthwhile it does take some time and effort, but the payoff... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
This is what happens when husband and wife start competing over the waffle iron. My dear hubby has been on a waffle kick lately - stuffing everything imaginable into the sizzling jaws of his new favorite small appliance. You wouldn't believe the kinds of things this guy wants to waffle. Things like meatloaf - I kid you not. His man-waffle obsession inspired me in a different direction. This shredded veggie waffle uses the same recipe I shared a while back for Japanese Okonomiyaki, a simplified spin on the veggie pancakes I used to enjoy in my restaurant days. It isn't super crunchy, but the texture is fun and serves as an excellent vehicle for Sriracha. What more could you ask? More Mary-inspired waffles are on the way. I'm thinking crab cakes next, or maybe pad thai? Scott Bobleo insists on keeping his own waffle recipes top secret for now. Don't ask me why. If I told you I would have to kill you. Okonomiyaki Waffles Makes about 3 waffles, enough to serve six These simple vegetable waffles are made with an easy, flour-based batter and a cup of shredded vegetables. I used a mix of carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
The only thing stopping me from being the perfect parent is having a kid. Before CC was born I had lot of ideas about how things were going to be. For one thing, he was NOT going to go around man-handling my cell phone. My brilliant plan to stop this from happening was just not to ever give it to him. Duh, right? I mean - come on. It's not rocket science. Fifteen months later this is one battle that I have clearly lost. I can't even share a photo of him fondling my cell phone since I'm too busy trying to stop him from destroying the blasted thing. How often is that? Let's just say that CC has a whole telephone routine worked out. It goes something like this "Dada?! Dada!! Mwah heh ya ya ya no nonono." He throws his head back and laughs as if he were the villain in some eighties ski mountain movie. You know - the guy with hair like a Ken doll and a sweater tied across his chest? I call him "Blaine". So if you ever call me and ask to speak to "Blaine" he will gladly oblige. By the way, this... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by The National Honey Board I love toner. I love the look of it, the feel of it, and most of all, the ritual of it. Soaking a little cotton pad with a magical elixir then dabbing it onto my face is simply a lovely feeling. The slight tingle and refreshing touch of moisture always makes my skin feel extra fresh and happy after a good scrub or oil-cleansing. Apart from feeling nice, toners can help balance skin's pH. Depending on what you add to your toner recipe they can also help soothe, moisturize, or even battle harmful bacteria that can cause acne and redness. This particular recipe uses a combination of apple cider vinegar to help provide balance, chamomile tea to soothe and calm sensitive skin, and a honey to provide a moisturizing boost. Honey is a special kind of moisturizer called a humectant which draws moisture to the skin. The addition of honey to a toner, like this one, can help your skin maintain moisture. That's pretty much always a good thing - but it's especially helpful during extremely hot or cold weather when the air tends to wick extra moisture... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
After I had CC I was blessed to be surrounded by friends and family bearing delicious baked goods. If you've never gone through it, let me tell you, birth is utterly exhausting. It wipes you out - and for most mamas it is just the beginning. From there it is a long and arduous (though in its own way magical and wonderful) season of life. And I do, literally, mean season. The first three months of life with a baby is pretty intense. Whether you are breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or feeding through a combination of the two, your body and soul needs tons of support to make it through in one piece. Enter the lactation cookie. These little nuggets are meant to combine nutrition and pleasure into one pretty little snack. I ate quite a few different kinds of cookies while I was postpartum (no big surprise there - hehehe) and this recipe was created using my favorite parts of each one. I opted to make these into bars instead of traditional drop cookies seeing as they were exceptionally thick and hearty. Plus, to me, a bar feels a little less like a dessert and a little more like a power... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Do you know what the very best part of blogging is? Is it the free samples? The psuedo-fame that comes with mediocre success? The passive-aggressive satisfaction of delivering news to your spouse via his co-workers who happen to read your blog? Nope, it's none of those things. The best thing about blogging is other bloggers. Some of my best real-life friends started out as blog-friends, and these connections have helped me in more ways than I can count. Blog-friends support each other, share each other's posts, cook each other's recipes, and cheer each other on. In Austin, this kinship goes even further. Thanks to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance we are closer than ever - sharing our skills and experience among a vast and varied group of folks who might otherwise remain strangers. Image courtesy of @LocalSavour When I started planning promotion for my book, The Natural Beauty Solution, I knew right off that bat that I would be leaning on my fellow bloggers for support. These lovely people agreed to check out my book, try out some recipes, and then share that experience with their own readers. How sweet is that?! You can read about each recipe they tried... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
I have this friend who goes through couches at an alarming rate. Not only does she have a keen appreciation for a good looking sofa, she also has a soft spot for naughty rescue dogs. The two things put together have her buying a new piece of furniture every few months. She and her husband recently had a beautiful baby boy. I knew from the start that they would be incredible parents. Anyone who can forgive their dog after the tenth or eleventh couch is more than ready to face life with a small child. Kids and pets push your patience to the limit. They destroy your possessions, dirty your floors, and commandeer your time and attention with their constant needs. From the outside looking in someone might wonder why on Earth anyone would ever choose to saddle themselves with anything as troublesome as a child or a puppy. But there is something those on the outside don't know, and may not really be able to understand. That's the deep, soul-quenching joy that comes from living with your family. Whether your family is furry, covered in cheerios, or both, you know that you wouldn't trade them for a clean floor,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
This is a heavy one, folks. I debated whether or not to share this story - my story of loss, but after finding comfort in the words of other bloggers I felt that I should try. For those of you who would rather skip the emotional stuff please feel free to scroll on past. If you do want to hear about something very sad, you can read my story after the jump. I didn't plan on getting pregnant but by the time I was twelve weeks along I was more than used to the idea. I was looking forward to meeting my second baby, to sharing him with my son and husband, and getting to know whoever they turned out to be. I was thinking of names and imagining what he or she might look like. The idea of the baby was turning into reality in its slow and steady way - like babies do. After struggling with years of infertility the last thing I expected was to have a surprise pregnancy. It didn't feel like an accident though - it felt more like a miracle. When the bleeding started I held my breath, hoping against reason that it would... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
CC has always been an inquisitive child, but lately his curiosity has really taken off. He inspects everything with such scrutiny. When he discovers anything resembling a switch, button, or dial he becomes obsessed. Scott and I decided to create a little busy board for him so that he could push, pull, turn, and jingle to his heart's content. We bought a large circular hunk of wood to use as the base, then filled it up with odds and ends from the hardware store. The hardest part was probably drilling out hollows for the light switches to sit into. Otherwise it was just a matter of drilling small holes and screwing in screws. We cut small pieces of wood to create little doors complete with tiny hinges, knobs, and fasteners. I hid stickers behind the doors to make opening them up a bit more fun. All in all we probably spent too much on the project - around forty dollars. In hindsight, we could have saved a bit of cash by using a plain piece of plywood for the backing or picking up more of the hardware at a dollar store. We did get one portion of the project for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Definitely check out Rotterdam while you are in the Netherlands. It is very close to Amsterdam and has some really cool architecture. It's just a pretty place to snap photos and wander around. Eat a stroopwaffel for me! I'm not entirely sure how it is spelled but it is basically a caramel sandwich made with two very thin and crispy waffles. My Dad brought them back for us whenever he visited when we were kids. Yum.
I had never really heard of black eyed peas until I moved to Texas. I guess my childhood in the northeast left my bean horizons sadly unexplored. I'll have to lodge a complaint with my parents for stunting my bean education so badly. Lucky for CC he is growing up in Austin where no variety of produce goes unsung. So what's up with black eyed peas? These starchy little beans hold up quite well in hot weather, making them a staple in gardens throughout the southern states. Even I couldn't kill them! Black eyed peas have a very mild flavor and a pleasantly tender bite, and they are as easy to cook as they are to grow. My favorite way to enjoy black eyed peas is in a simple cold salad called Texas Caviar. It's quite similar in nature to a Three Bean salad - dressed in a sweet and salty vinaigrette and tossed with veggies. Texas Caviar adds a pinch of heat though, and depending on which family recipe you are using, it often includes an unexpected ingredient like jicama, sweet corn, or in this case, mango. I really love the combination of sweet and spicy flavors in my... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Oh my poor abandoned blog. I feel awful for the way I've let the old girl shrivel up lately. It's just that life has been particularly overwhelming these past few months. CC has finally reached the age where getting anything done with him underfoot is totally impossible. I try to cook and he climbs the stove. I try to clean and he commandeers the vacuum cleaner - saddling it like a noisy stallion as he gallops along his path of destruction. In short, he's a handful. So, it was with teary eyes and mixed feelings that I dropped the little tyke off at baby school yesterday morning. He'll only be attending three short days a week but to his mama that eighteen hours feels like an eternity. I came home to an empty house and wondered how I would make it through the day without someone trying to feed me his pre-chewed cheese sticks. I spent most of my freedom worrying about whether or not CC was equally distressed at my absence, but did manage to get some much-needed work done before picking him up in the afternoon. It turned out that he hadn't missed me much at all. In... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
I have two very different classes going on Saturday, August 8th in Austin, Texas. In the morning I'll be leading a free workshop on DIY natural beauty at Whole Foods Domain. Later that day I'll be at Faraday's Kitchen Store teaching a hands-on class on rolling sushi. It's going to be a busy day but I'll be doing what I love best - making beautiful, delicious, and things with my hands. DIY Natural Beauty at Whole Foods Domain 11920 Domain Drive Austin, TX August 8, 11:30 - 1:30 pm This free demonstration-style workshop will include demos on four recipes from my book, The Natural Beauty Solution! Learn to make a healing facial masque, a rich and creamy body lotion, whipped body butter, and a fresh almond yogurt body scrub. Books will be available for purchase and signing after the event. Pick up a copy of the book and ingredients to make your own batches of fresh beauty products at home. This class is free, but seating is limited. Sign up for tickets right away! Hand-Rolled Sushi at Faraday's Kitchen Store 12918 Shops Parkway, Suite 540 Austin, TX August 8, 5:00 - 7:30pm Class will start off with garden salads topped... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
At long last my book has arrived. At this very moment copies of The Natural Beauty Solution are shipping out to all corners of the globe. Today I shipped books to Australia, Spain, Belgium, and the UK! I shipped books to strangers in Montana and friends in Connecticut. Books are making short trips across the city of Austin and long journeys to places like Colorado and California. It's a simultaneously terrifying and marvelous feeling to know that something you've written is about to be read (or at least skimmed) by so many people. I can't thank those of you who placed pre-orders enough for your support over the last year. Each order was like a little vote of confidence - and that momentum carried me through so many moments of self-doubt. I really hope that you will love the book and enjoy the bonus goodies that are headed your way. Now that the book is out there it's time for the fun stuff - demos, book signings, parties. Woo hoo! My release party was rained out so this Saturday I will be doing my first official book promotion at Faraday's Kitchen Store in Austin, Texas. I will be giving a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Do you know what I miss most about growing up in the Northeast? I miss the bread. The bagels, the hard rolls, the pretzels! It's just not the same anywhere else. Actually, I take that back - at least partially. I did encounter the same kind of bread outside of the tri-state (CT, NY, NJ) area once. It was during my trip to Italy - where I often turned a corner to discover a scene that could have been mistaken for my childhood in Yonkers. I'm not Italian by blood, but I am fairly certain my heart was adopted by way of my stomach long ago. Anyway, bread. Oh bread! It's a wonder how the simple combination of flour and water can be transformed into so many amazing variations. It seems like the tiniest variance in recipe or technique results in a completely different product. Take pretzels and bagels for example. They are both simple yeasted breads that are boiled before being baked - yet they are each utterly unique foods. The following recipe uses a soft pretzel to pay homage to its marvelous cousin, the Everything Bagel. (Don't get me started waxing poetic over Everything Bagels. I could go... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2015 at Mary Makes Good
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by The National Honey Board. Oh honey. It's sweet. It's golden. It's a natural gift thanks to its marvelous versatility and seemingly endless list of benefits. When it comes to natural and DIY skin care, honey is an ingredient that I reach for again and again. Honey is a special type of moisturizer called a humectant. Humectants, like honey, draw moisture in and keep it there, which can help enhance almost any homemade beauty recipe. While nutritive oils and butters, like sweet almond oil or shea butter, condition the skin beautifully, pairing them with honey can help lock that moisture in making your natural skin care recipe even better. I learned a lot about honey and its many virtues while touring with the National Honey Board last month. We visited three cities, spreading the joys of honey to local media and honey enthusiasts. During each event I helped guests whip up DIY salt scrubs using honey, fresh grapefruit juice, olive oil, and sea salt. You can check out the recipe that I used for that demo at I thought it might be fun to elaborate on the recipe a little showing how... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2015 at Mary Makes Good