Beauty

The week of the balsamic chicken

The only thing better than an easy, quick (literally 5 minutes to assemble and 20ish to cook), delicious and inexpensive meal is one that also continues to feed for multiple meals!

This weeks recipe is Balsamic Chicken. Note that you can make this with chicken breasts, thighs, etc. The amounts are guestimates as well, add or reduce an item or swap out with something similar if you don’t like one. Cooking should be creative!

You can also add potatoes into this dish, just use a large baking dish and add a little extra of everything aside from the chicken. Sometimes I do this and even add a little onion, because who doesn’t love gorgeous roasted onion slices!

It looks basic but it’s delicious. I am NOT a huge chicken fan unless it is hidden or cooked perfectly. So many times it is dry and bland and I just can’t have that. This recipe has yet to fail me (even if I overcook it by accident…come on I have a 1 and 2 year old, it happens).

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • Balsamic vinegar reduction (you can also use regular but I like how the reduction is less acidic and a mlre rich flavor)
  • Seeded mustard (works with anything but I like the texture of the seeds)
  • Fig jam (honey could also be used)
  • Minced garlic, aprox 6 cloves (make life easy, buy it minced)
  • Rosemary, dried
  • Salt and pepper

Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 bake
  • Put your chicken in an oven safe casserole pan and sprinkle it heavily with rosemary

  • Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top

  • Add the mustard and fig jam equally and then add the garlic. You should be adding enough to spread over all the chicken.

    • Add salt and pepper and bake about 20 minutes or until the chicken is done. I use a meat thermometer.

      The last picture is blurry and I apoligize, I just couldn’t wait to dig in.

      :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

      Leftovers!

      This week we had leftovers (I always make leftovers) but that is about all we had. I wanted it for lunch but it felt more dinner like, so…

      Invention 1: Roast chicken and spinach tortilla. I added Simply Mayo Mustard Dressing as well. Amazing. Ignore that the spinach is on top, it was an after thought!

      Invention 2: Roast chicken and cheese tortilla with the same mustard dressing. I ran out of spinach or I probably would have used that too.


      I cannot stress how much I love this chicken. The possibilites are endless and you cannot mess it up. I tried several pinterest recipes and adapted them eventually to use my favorite combination of ingrediets, which I now pass to you. I hope you like this quick, inexpensive, simple and delicious dish too!

      Beauty

      Reuse

      I am loving decluttering, loving it. But, I cringe everytime I throw out a paper towel or kitchen sponge. I have a thing about germs and surfaces not having marks (when I finally get the clutter off), but I HATE buying paper towels. With a 2yo I go through a LOT.

      So, I decided to go old school and obtained some good ol’ fashion dish cloths. I also bought a big pack of reusable cleaning cloths. Not only do I feel SO much better about going through a boatload a day but I am enjoying the different colors and patterns! And…they are super easy to store…unlike those jumbo rolls of paper towel that seem to always fly out of the closet at my head.

      You can see a sampling here as I prepare them for storage. Luckily, I have a wonderful aunt who likes to make dish cloths so I have some really pretty ones. I also bought some on etsy with hearts and flowers.

      Between the colors, patterns and different textures I really enjoy these more than the sponges which I felt just grew bacteria despite a good dishwasher so-called sanitize.

      So while some of mine have had better days and faded, they have probably been through 100 washes in the machine, smell great, are soft and best yet are thrown in the laundry daily. 

      The cleaning clothes are no where near as fun or pretty as the dish cloths…although of you search on amazon you can find other fabrics, colors and probably patterns too. I chose white so I could easily bleach them though. They are nothing fancy but they work. I can clean the whole kitchen with just 1 or 2,  but if I need more I dont care because I just wash them with the next load and they are back!

      So while this seems silly, this switch has really made a difference in my life. I no longer buy a TON of paper towel, I no longer get clocked with rolls when I open the utility closet and I can spend the money on something else or salt it away. Also, I know that my dishes are being cleaned without any bacteria harboring in a sponge. Now that makes me happy and makes me feel better. Simple.

      Consider joining me in saving the planet, money and killing bacteria. If interested I can find links for the etsy and amazon purchases, just leave me a note!

      Beauty

      Simplicity

      My goal this year (sort of a new years resolution) is to simplify. My primary goal is the house but it doesn’t stop there. I not only want to become more minimalist in the home but also learn to live with less clothes, less food in the cupboard, etc. My only problem is that I love to try new things…makeup, soaps, cleaners, etc. So, this isn’t am easy task. But I feel less stressed when things are simple and that makes me happy.
      So, a handful of goals for the short term to try to achieve simplicity and a stress free happiness are:

      1. Begin clearing out my house. 1 trash bag a week of stuff. 

      2. Clean out our dining room so that it is no longer the off season decoration zone, the kid art storage center or the land where everything that ‘I dint know what to do with’ dies. Keep an eye out on this one, a friend and I are going to do a challenge!

      3. Streamline my closets. Yes, closets. My room has 2 mini closets instead of a real one. Is so odd. This also applies to those damn underwear and sock drawers that always drive me crazy. 

      4. Hang pictures on the walls in the bedroom and hallway and get the frames out of the dining room! Oh, and put pictures in the frames too, haha.

      5. Learn as many easy, semi healthy, very tasty plus quick meals that I can in prep to go back to work. These must be loved by both myself and my husband, bonus if my daughter will eat them too (if they aren’t too spicy)!

      So, that’s just a few things to come in the upcoming weeks. Please join along in simplifying…share any tips or questions you have and come on this journey with me!

      Side note…if there are any products you want me to try and review please leave a comment to request!

      Beauty

      Soap cleans…

      Having had a baby with a very rare syndrome I have learned I need outlets to stay sane. While everyone is at work and my baby is asleep (something he does a lot of somedays) I decided it was time to fix up this house we moved into 5 years ago. Reality is we will need to move, but I don’t want to do that before we ever move in. So, clean out, organize and decorate were my plans. I’m still in all stages 😂

      I also decided to get back into products and reviews. I was on a lucky streak and found some great products but I also fell prey to some too recently. Im starting the blog again so I will start positive.

      About 2 years ago one of my SILs gave me some Chegrin Valley Soap and Salve products for Christmas. I ended up researching the company a bit and decided I could support them (aka I didnt feel like it was a scam or sketchy…sophisticated eh?).

      So far (and I haven’t tried many yet) my absolute favorite is the Lavender Oatmeal Spice bar soap.

      I use this as a facial soap and have never been happier. It not only smells *amazing* but it cleans away all makeup in seconds and doesn’t dry my skin out at all. And if the makeup removal wasnt already awesome it also lasts forever (I am going to guess 6 months) and I have NEVER had such clear skin…even when i was going to a dermatologist on a regular basis.

      I cannot wait to order more products from Chegrin Valley Soap and Salve. Shipping deters me so when my husband goes back to Ohio I am going to have him pick me up some more products. I will say my least favorite item so far was a pumpkin lip balm, I just didnt like the taste and felt it disappeared too quickly. Hopefully that was a one off!

      Beauty

      Back in the game…of critiquing, that is

      This morning I considered closing my account…then saw that folks are still reading, especially reviews. So…I’m back! Now… recently, after becoming a mom and realizing I still need to really watch the products that I use, I started to try to pick products that were cleaner. Below is a very random assortment of reviews!

      Novena Maternity Organic Fruit Facial Cleanser

      starstarstar

      novena fruit cleanser

      I picked this product because it’s developed for pregnant women and therefore I figured it would be most clean of any products I could find in the store. The product is 88% Organic, 99% Natural and 100% Vegan. It also states that it removes makeup as well.

      I ordered this and was excited to receive it. The product, for me, gets 3 stars.

      Price: $19.99

      Look: OK, look doesn’t really apply here but I am going to twist this category. The bottle is a plastic bottle with a label wrapped around it. The silver top is simply a silver piece around the stem of the bottle, which came off as soon as I took it out of the package. Does this affect the product? No. Does it annoy me? Yes.

      Performance: Good. It states you only need a very small amount, but this was not the case for me. I had to use about a silver dollar amount in order to get the makeup off. I’m OK with this, but not at the price of $19.99 for 3.5oz. My face is clean afterwards though, and this is a very gentle cleanser.

      Overall: Because I have to use so much and go through the bottle so quickly, I have to take away 2 stars. If I were one of the celebrities using this product and had unlimited funds, sure, I’d keep buying. But, I just don’t know if I will go back. I may stick with the Willa wash that I loved, which is half the price and lasts about 3x as long.

      Side note – do not buy the sampler. The sampler was $3 and included enough product to try each item once. To me, that doesn’t give me anything more than an allergy test… you get better samples at Sephora, which I’m sure you can find a product just as good there.

      Hobbies

      whipping coconut oil?!

      Enjoy the use of coconut oil but hate that you have to scoop it out of a jar, warm it up in your hands and then apply it? Or, balance it on the shelf of the tub or in the corner of the shower so you can let it warm up and melt before applying it? Well, let me rock your world with Whipped Coconut Oil.

      Recently, when I ran out of coconut oil that I previously put in the jar in my bathroom I decided I’d give whipping it a try. I had read that you could do it and people liked it, but never actually wanted to put the effort in. My skeptical husband and his brother watched me as I scooped out the oil and put it in the mini food processor. I turned it on and let it go for a minute and poof – creamy goodness! Even they made comment on how it whipped!

      The consistency is very smooth after whipping – very light and fluffy. It isn’t liquidy but it isn’t solid either. I thought after it cooled down from the whipping process it may solidify a little more but I was wrong. This stayed light and fluffy even after I transferred it to my jar and put it back in the bathroom. I will say that it has more of an oily consistency but then again, it’s oil. It immediately melts in your hand and makes applying extremely easy. The only downside is I need to scoop more often as when you put some in your hand it’s very liquidy so you don’t get as much. Bottom line – I’ll continue to whip it, it just makes it easier!

       

      food and recipes, Life

      hot or not

      A few weeks ago a friend made some delicious kale chips which even my husband raved about – and to date he “doesn’t like kale”. Well, I guess it was more like he didn’t like when I made kale. So, I decided to peruse the website which these were made from, A Spicy Perspective. As I did this I became addicted and found about a dozen meals that I wanted to make for dinner right then and there.

      Today, a friend introduced me to Popsugar, where I’ve been addicted to reading the latest and greatest on entertainment news, mom stuff, food, etc. I became addicted to this quickly too and downloaded the iPhone app.

      So, this post is to do nothing more than rave and share these new favorite sites with you. But, after all look at some of these recipes from both sites and tell me you don’t want to go check out more?! Yup, I didn’t think you could… Now I have to run off and read all about Kate Middleton and the royal baby!

      Quinoa Burrito Bites

      Best Homemade Waffles - Yogurt Vanilla Bean Waffles #breakfast #waffles #giveaway

      Yogurt & Vanilla Bean Waffles

      Beauty, Hobbies

      One great, one not so great, product

      Browsing through Sephora I decided to ask the rep about their more “natural” products as I knew I needed to replace my beloved Clinique Even Better Moisturizer (which I must say that I LOVE!) solely due to baby and my not being able to use the active ingredient. I have been using Coconut Oil, which is great for a moisturizer, but unfortunately if it gets near my mascara it makes it smudge too easily. So, the venture for a new lotion was started.

      Call me skeptical, a pain in the butt, whatever you want but I grabbed a few samples based on the rep’s advice and then researched them. The one I ended up thinking would be the best to try was Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Mattifying Fluid:

      Caudalie - Vinosource Moisturizing Matifying Fluid -  Grape water, Flax powder & Grape-seed polyphenols

      This stuff uses Organic Grape Water…which apparently is filtered rain water which then goes through the grape plant. It supposedly decreases skin sensitivity and improves hydration. I don’t know if this is true, nor do I really care, because the lotion is great. It’s not a heavy winter moisturizer at all but it’s great for skin that is a little dry or tight but not flaking or cracking. I haven’t broken out at all, I don’t get shiny and it smells great and spreads super easy like water (go figure). I typically use this during the day, then the coconut oil at night (if needed).

      On the flip side, I found one product that I will recommend you stay away from if you use makeup. Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Cleansing Milk seemed like a great idea. It’s a milk, which is usually more moisturizing, it smelled fantastic (I have a thing for citrus smells!) and it was organic and inexpensive.

      I will start by saying this is gentle, smells great and does leave your skin more moisturized than a lot of cleansers I’ve used. But, this doesn’t take off makeup very well at all. Each night I end up with raccoon eyes and I get my towel marked with mascara and then need a tissue to wipe the circles off of my face. Product fail. Maybe that’s the trade off for it’s benefits but I’ll finish this up as a morning cleanser in the shower and will continue on my search for a new cleanser…after I scold Target for discontinuing to carry my favorite facial wash. And fantastik. The nerve…

       

      fashion, Pinterest

      Winter style blues

      In the last 7 months of pregnancy I’ve missed a few things – sushi, wine and shopping. But, I think most of all, shopping and fashion. Yes, maternity clothes have come a long way and can be cute but lets admit it, the variety will never rival my pre-prego closet. And while I’ve tried to fulfill my desire to shop with updating costume jewelry, handbags and shoes, it’s just not the same.

      If you follow me on Pinterest you may be aware, I haven’t pinned anything maternity, but I have plugged on pinning clothes for post baby 🙂 Yes, some may not be realistic right away but here are some of my favorite style pins from the past few months.

      I can’t wait to get back into real clothes! I also can’t wait to get into a bathing suite – yes, bathing suit. Although this summer I think I may opt for a one-piece!

      heather, mint, gold

      cozy day inside

      Jeans & Lace

      winter

      comfy  cute...over leggings with boots

      so pretty

      Adorable black lace swimsuit

       

      Hobbies

      Checklist Challenge Recap and lessons learned

      Finding time to do the items on a ‘to do’ list can be a challenge in it’s own. The list I set out to accomplish earlier last year has had it’s up’s and down’s. Here’s a recap on the projects, the progress made, challenges encountered and most importantly…lessons learned for the pending 2014 list!

      List of success!

      1. Make a shower curtain to fit my very odd sized shower.

      This fell to the bottom of my list as the bathroom wasn’t painted and I lost those pesky sewing machine instructions. I eventually ended up making this and it was quite easy! Accomplishing this did require me to take a day out of work, but it was worth it. I felt like I not only accomplished something, but also learned!! Now you’re probably asking what I could have learned from making a shower curtain? I learned to plan a project every other month that required the sewing machine. This will eliminate the stupid mistakes and reduce my project frustration!

      2. Paint the master suite. All of it – bedroom, walk in closer/sewing room, bathroom and hallway.

      Yeha, we went from yellow sponge paint and a pinkish brown wall to a serene gray palate. I was worried that gray was going to be blah, but I learned to accessorize for color, which conveniently is a very easy and cheap change to make when I get off of my aqua whim and move onto something else…

      5. Make a beautiful twist/braided pearl necklace for summer.

      OK, I did this but I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. I thought you threaded a few strands, attached those to the clasp and poof, necklace! This required measuring strands for the beads, determining how many beads were needed for each strand based on the mm size of the bead, and then getting my husband to help me do the “twist” part to put it all together. In the end, I didn’t any $ and definitely did not save any time!

      6. Read more blogs, a newspaper or watch the news for at least an hour during the week and an hour on the weekends.

      Ding ding ding, I accomplished this one! Making a conscious effort to get home earlier I get to turn the news on. I have discovered that the news repeats over and over and over again though. Boring. But thanks for all my fellow bloggers, I’ve had a delightful time reading blogs this year!

      7. Building myself a shoe closet.

      My husband bought a saw and I came home to a shoe closet ! Yes, it still needs to be painted but at least I’ve got shelves!

      9. Create some sort of a picture or piece of wall art for the dining room.

      Hm, we didn’t do this but we did get a huge Dell’s Lemonade canvas for the kitchen. That wasn’t anticipated but extremely needed so I’m going to allow for the swap 🙂 Plus, my in-laws bought us a pretty cool fish sculpture so that filled the need!

      10. Create a “regular post” of something.

      I did this with my bedroom makeover but unfortunately the challenge I picked I found not to work at all. I did learn that I just need to plan out my projects and spend some time at home to accomplish them. Home sweet home!

      List of ‘I didn’t do so well’:

      3. Make a piece of clothing for myself.

      Well, this didn’t happen. I did hem/fix a bunch of clothes that I already own though, so now I can actually wear them. Maybe in 2014 I’ll aim to make something for baby!

      4. Gut and design a new half bath/laundry area.

      Designed yes, started the project, no. I realized that projects involve a lot of think ahead planning and coordination! I never realized you had to order sinks and toilets 6-8 weeks before the contractor needed them! But… item’s are ordered and on their way, so that’s a plus!

      8. Make pillows for the living room.

      Um, no. I actually found some really cool ones at Home Goods so I’m crossing this off the list!

      11. Make curtains for the living room.

      OK we haven’t gotten to the living room yet. It needs paint first, but my husband insists this is after the baby’s room is done so we’re looking at late 2014, hah!

      12. Make curtains for the office.

      See #11.

      13. Redo the guest room.

      In progress. As I learned with the bedroom makeover, plan plan plan. Step 1: Convince hubby as to what needs to go to the donation center! (done). Step 2: Somehow convince husband to paint the room when he paints the baby’s room. Hm…

      so my biggest takeaway from 2013 is to make realistic projects and plans, plans, plans! Also, take more pictures and be better at posting updates. Maybe the posting of 2013 projects will be a 2015 goal!

      Hobbies

      A whole new batch of January product reviews!

      Why is it that you always want what you can’t have? These past few months have been interesting. Being a first time mommy-to-be but no one else knowing, it’s been hard to switch products or try new products without letting on. It’s also been interesting trying to find ‘healthy’ product options and giving up tried, true and oh so loved products that I’ve used for years! But, I will admit sometime nature needs to take a backseat for happiness…so not all these are ‘healthy’!

      Maybelline Soft and Full Waterproof Mascara

      This past Thanksgiving, I found myself laying down at my in-laws thinking of my pending trip to the Bahamas. At that moment I realized I didn’t have waterproof mascara thanks to the failure of a ‘waterproof’ mascara I tried when I went to St. Lucia. So, I began googling. I then began pulling up website recommendations on Amazon to read buyer reviews. I settled on a few, depending on what Target had in stock. I bought the Maybelline Soft and Full Waterproof Mascara.

      Having used the regular version of this in the past, I knew I liked the product just didn’t love it. But as long as it was waterproof and I wouldn’t look tired on my entire vacation, I was game. I bought it the next day. Fast forward a few days and I was in the Bahamas, contemplating if I should wear it on a snorkel/swim catamaran trip. I tried it on, washed my face, rubbed my eyes. So far so good. I decided to try it, but tell my husband he had to tell me if I looked like raccoon eyes! I put on oil free sunscreen, swam, rubbed my eyes, etc. It never budged. In fact, the only time I had mini-raccoon eyes was after washing it off with soap, which a second application of soap fixed. Verdict? Great buy!

      Price: $5-8 depending on store

      Look: Mainly darkening. It didn’t add much length but with the fat brush it did reach all of my lashes! I only found this in Black, but I didn’t find it to be harsh.

      Performance: Really good. Lasted through swimming, needed a double soap application to remove. Left lashes soft.

      Overall: I will use this as my summertime mascara when going to the beach.

      Palmers Body Butter

      After I told people I was expecting, I received a lot of comments about stretch marks. Now, I’ve read that they’re hereditary so no cream will really save you but I a) didn’t want to take a chance and b) was experiencing the New England beginning of winter itchy, dry and tight skin. So, I bought the butter. I slather this stuff on like it’s going out of style, but it lasts a long time.

      Price: $6 for the 3.5oz jar

      Feel: In the jar, this is tough to get out…especially the first ‘scoop’. It’s a solid (not a cream) and very thick. It requires you to scoop some into your hands and then rub your hands to melt it. Once on your body it creates a very silky, almost oily look. It’s smooth as butta 😉

      Performance: Works so well to keep your skin hydrated. I could get away with applying once a day, but I love it too much that I do morning and evening. Instantly your skin feels hydrated and soft, even if before you applied the butter it felt like alligator skin. If I could I would melt this and take a bath in it. Seriously.

      Overall: Love it for a moisturizing agent, not just for pregnancy. It does smell like a burnt coconut which I have a love/hate relationship with (love coconuts, hate burnt) but it works so well and the scent isn’t overpowering that I just don’t care. I’ll buy this again and again…especially now that they have a paraben free one (works just as well, I have that too)!

      Shea Moisture Body Wash: Olive & Green Tea

      Price: $8.99 for the 13oz size at Target

      Consistency: A liquidy gel and yes, it really is a green/yellow color, very similar to olive oil color!

      Performance: This stuff suds up like a kids bubble bath! I drizzle it over my body pouf similar to how they drizzle caramel sauce on top of my Starbucks latte and it’s plenty for a shower! It’s very light feeling and the suds wash off very easily. It really does seem to be hydrating though, which I noticed after using a while that one of the first ingredients is coconut related – and you may know how I back coconuts!

      Smell: This is a very mild smelling product. It doesn’t smell like olive, green tea or avocados, it actually doesn’t have much of a smell at all. This is the only dislike I really have for the product as I really love a great fresh smell in the morning.

      Overall: Really good product. It’s natural (woohoo!) and works really well from lathering to cleaning/hydrating and it’s cheaper than many other natural products. I wish the smell was a little more fresh (maybe more green tea?) but in no way shape or form will that keep me from buying another bottle! It will replace my Cetaphil bar (sorry Cetaphil, I loved you as a winter soap for a couple years but this is natural!).

      Maybelline: Color show #300 (Fuchsia Fever)
      Price: $4.29 from CVS
      Color: The color in the bottle is great. It looks glossy and is a bright purple. I was excited to try this as a fall/winter/early spring color.
      Performance: Awful. I didn’t expect a flat color. I want to know where the shine went as soon as I put it on my nails?! Also, the color isn’t incredibly thick so it takes a couple of coats. I would have been OK with the extra coats if there was a shine to the product.
      Misc: This is formaldehyde, DBP and Toluene free.

      Overall: Extremely disappointed. I haven’t used this again and won’t buy another in any other colors. While I love that it’s formaldehyde, dbp and toluene free I can’t get past the horrible lack of a sheen in the finish or the fact that it was so thin.

      NOW…I know I already did a post on Coconut Oil, BUT, I keep falling in love with this product more and more so I have to mention it again.

      I’m truly amazed by this product. Yes, it started as a search for a facial moisturizer but it quickly amounted to more. The hydrating powers of this stuff is amazing, really. I got pneumonia a week or so ago and could barely stand up so a lot of things were pushed by the wayside. I continued to use the coconut oil on my face but that was all I could muster the energy for. Two days ago my hands were red and scaly, like a poor fish fin. I finally sucked it up enough to get to the bathroom and get the oil. One application overnight and no more redness. Another application this morning and boom, almost back to normal. I’ve also noticed (because there’s not much else to do when you lay in bed 24 hours a day) that my nails are in the best shape ever, including cuticles. My husband even comments on how soft my skin is… a first in the 6 years I’ve known him (and at my oldest!). I don’t understand the magic of this stuff but love it. And if you google it you can even read on WedMD or other websites the many different uses such as diaper rashes, for your hair, psoriasis, mouth cleanser, etc.

       

      Beauty, Life

      Coconut craze

      About 6 months ago my investigation on coconut oil began. I read about it, figured it was too good to be true and passed it off. It wasn’t until December hit and my incredibly dry, itchy, cracking skin was driving me crazy. I would beg my husband to lotion my back immediately after exiting the shower but still I wanted to take a bath in lotion. But I was weary…being pregnant and not wanting to use my always relied on Cetaphil cream because of parabens and other nasty additives I started to research again. Coconut oil came up again. I dismissed it again.

      Then baby decided to wreck havoc on my skin and I started breaking out like I did in college. I’d had enough. I researched and found a lotion designed for pregos but it was $28 for a small tube. I had it in the online shopping cart.

      Then a light went on in my head…I own coconut oil, what’s the risk of trying it? Certainly not $28 and waiting a week for delivery. So, I tried it. I put it all over my face before going to bed that night. I fully expected to wake up in a rash. In fact I checked in the mirror when I got up in the middle of the night. So far, so good. But, wouldn’t the oil make my skin worse?

      A couple days in my skin was so soft. Ok, so I Googled uses for coconut oil again. Stretch mark prevention. Hm, vs $10 a jar of belly butter? Ok I’ll try that too. Wait, dry skin on legs which made it unbearable to wear legings? Ok why not try that as well! I mean I have a whole jar! Actually, let me warn you, this is what it looks like, although it melts VERY easily!

      Now…after trialing it for a couple weeks I decided to make the call. L. O. V. E. It’s been about a month and the only downside I’ve seen so far is that my skin shedded at one point. But I think it was balancing itself out and wasn’t worse than the dry flaking peeling of winter and at least the oil moisturizes it!

      In the end I’m not greasy. I’m not dry. I not itchy or cracking. My face has cleared up, my lips no longer chapped and I barely ever use lotion during the day on my hands anymore. I don’t get how one natural oil has turned my body around like this. But I also don’t care how it works.

      All I know is that it’s natural, smells good (ok like a Mounds bar!), works wonders and is relatively cheap! So I needed to let you all know but didn’t feel a product review would nearly do this justice. I can’t thank the girls on The Bump enough for mentioning and recommending coconut oil. Without you all I would be miserably crackling and looking like a teen!

      Next up? I think I need some Coconut Sugar Scrub for the shower!

      I previously raved about Tree Hut scrub and I have to admit that I DO love it so much…but I am intrigued by how easy DIY scrubs should be so now I need to make some. Plus, it would be a LOT cheaper and I do love a good deal!

      Do you have any uses for Coconut Oil that you love and want to share?

       

      Hobbies

      my favorite things of 2013!

      Instead of doing a December/January product review post I have decided to compile a listing of my favorite things that I have found during 2013. These are products or just ‘things’ that I do not want to live without, and may actually cry if I ever thought that I had to!

      Let me just remind you…I don’t work for any of these products, I don’t get paid to try or endorse any, etc. I just like to buy and try products. And the fact that I go on kicks such as buying natural or being addicted to sephora’s website, well, it makes it easy but it’s also a problem. So these are the items that I fell in long-term love with and don’t feel the need to trial others because right now, I can’t imagine loving anything more!

      1. Willa Foaming Facial Wash

      This stuff is just purely awesome. It is already foamed when it comes out so it requires very little effort and takes off makeup without any trouble. It also smells wonderful. I was scared this would be a ‘teen’ product but have fallen in love with it. Thank you Target for carrying this product!

      2. Benefit’s ‘They’re Real” Mascara

      Benefit Cosmetics - They're Real! Mascara

      Talk about fooling people that they’re real…but without the spidery look. I fell in love with this when I got the sample in my birthday pack from Sephora in February. I longed for the full size tube and ever since buying it, I’ve fallen even more in love with it. It’s nice to get compliments on your eyes even when you feel like you look like you just woke up from a hibernating bear’s nap…

      3. Starbucks Iced Caramel Macciato, made with half the syrup

      OK, this may be the biggest score of the year. This drink is absolutely addictive. It’s winter here in New England and I HATE the cold, but I still LOVE this and will still order it. I will bundle myself up in a down coat, scarf and mittens and be found drinking this!

      4. Coconut Oil

      spectrum organic coconut oil

      My fellow bumpies had recommended this for trouble skin while pregnant. My alternatives were $25 bottles of lotions or try some coconut oil which I already had in my baking cabinet. Being hesitant I did some research and read that organic coconut oil is naturally antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, and antimicrobial. It can also be used as a natural diaper rash remedy and *many* other uses – just google it! So, I tried it figuring I didn’t have much to loose and I ended up loving it. It has made my skin so much better (baby to be, take that!) and while it’s oil it’s not greasy at all and doesn’t need to be applied multiple times a day. LOVE love love this!

      5. KitchenAid – Ice cream attachment

      Typically I just buy my splurge foods as trying to make them never turns out right. Except for this one. Home made ice cream. By far the best food I’ve made this year and will continue to make. So simple, so fresh, so good. If you have one of these, try the strawberry ice cream I just made (and devoured)!

      6. Boscia BB Cream

      I can’t believe I found a BB cream I actually like. I love the light coverage that hides imperfections. The minor shimmer it adds just makes me feel like peaches and cream… well, almost.
      These may be my favorite vegetable. The grilled flavor along with the garlic and lime juice it’s just SO good. I could eat them for every meal. In fact, I’ve had multiple AS my meal!
      8. Hunter Rain Boots
      I never posted on these but am in LOVE with them. I actually enjoy the days where it pours outside and I get to wear them. I have to thank my wonderful hubby for buying them for me…along with the cozy socks that go inside of them! It’s nice to feel a little stylish pickup when it’s gray, wet and raw outside.
      9. Clarisonic Mia

      Clarisonic Mia Honestly, I thought that this was going to be the biggest crock of a product and I expected to have to return it. Shockingly, I really love this product and can’t even do without it for an overnight. I am actually so in love that I’m trying to get my husband to use it too. I’m still shocked that I like this so much. Also, if you’re considering purchasing, go with the Mia, you don’t really need the bells and whistles of the higher priced models!

      food and recipes

      Strawberry ice cream, please!

      If there are two things baby to be loves its strawberries and ice cream. Lucky for me I over bought strawberries and as they started to over ripen if wanted to not waste them so I decided to use the ice cream attachment my kitchenaid mixer for the first time!

      So, I began google searches and pin different recipes. I wanted something with milk so it wasn’t too creamy (I’m more of a gelato girl) and something that didn’t have a ton of sugar in it. I nixed the recipes with sweetened condensed milk, threw out those with just cream and finally arrived at one which seemed pretty natural.

      The following is a recipe that my husband says tastes like strawberry whipped cream. I’m very happy with that…

      • 2c fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into pieces
      • 3/4c 2% milk
      • 2/3c granulated sugar
      • 1.5c heavy cream
      • 1.5t pure vanilla extract
      • pinch of salt
      • ice cream machine

      1. Cut the strawberries into small bite size pieces. If you wish, puree a little in a blender or mush them on a cutting board to disperse throughout the ice cream if you don’t just want chunky pieces.

      2. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.

      3. Add the berries into the bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2+ hours.

      image

      4. After the 2+ hours, add the ice cream to your ice cream machine and follow your machine’s instructions. My kitchenaid took about 20 minutes to turn this into a softserve!

      image

      5. Transfer the ice cream to a container and store in the freezer. Depending on the depth of the ice cream it may take between 2hours to overnight to make this a hard solid. Then, serve and enjoy the heck out of it. Try not to eat in one sitting.

      image

       

      I really can’t say enough good about this recipe. So easy, so tasty and so nice to know what’s in my food. I’ll be converting to making ice cream instead of buying it after this!

      Future ideas:

      -Macerate some berries to have more than just strawberry chunks

      -Try it with 2% milk and light cream for a more gelato consistency

      -Reduce sugar or vanilla to make it less sweet…although this is by no means overly sweet

      Some stats for y’all:

      Prep time: 10 minutes

      Rest time: 2+ hours for batter, 2+ hours for hard ice cream

      Machine time: 20 minutes

      Ease of recipe: Extremely easy

      Taste of recipe: Divine!

      food and recipes

      Bark? Well, if in a Salted Caramel/Chocolate Pretzel form, ok!

      Why is it that getting up to go to the copier is such a task? Well, last week I had to and on my way I ran into a very nice surprise. Someone coming down the hall handed me some Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark. It was delicious so I had to ask for the recipe. Normally, I probably would try to abstain from making sweets but being the holidays, I used one of many excuses and made a batch with modifications, of course (I can’t just do anything the easy way).

      So, since I loved this SO much, I wanted to share my modified recipe. Which by the way was so easy and quick that when I returned from making it my husband asked “I thought you were going to go bake something?”. I responded “I did” and took my seat back on the couch 🙂

      • ½  bag of mini pretzel twists
      • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 cup total)
      • 1 cup of light brown sugar
      • 1 bag of dark chocolate morsels (2 cups)
      • Sea salt

      Step 1: Put your oven on 350 bake.

      Step 2: Combine butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and put on medium heat.

      Step 3: While the butter/sugar is melting, dump half of a bag of mini pretzel twists on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment or aluminum, please) and arrange in a single layer.

      Step 4: Stir the butter/sugar mixture as it begins to boil. As the ingredients incorporate together they will become thicker, but not as thick as a full caramel. This may take about 5 minutes. Once thick, pour over the pretzels. Note: You do not need to worry about covering every pretzel, when you put them in the oven the caramel will spread out.

      Step 5: Remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips or morsels over the pretzels and put back in the oven for 1 minute.

      Step 7: Remove from the oven and with a spatula spread the melty chocolate over the pretzels and then sprinkle with sea salt.

      Step 8: Let cool for a few minutes and then transfer to the freezer for about 2 hours. Once frozen, break it up into bark and keep frozen until ready to devour.

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