Monday, September 30, 2013

September Empties


My product usage has finally slowed down. But everything featured in this empties post are also favorites of the month. The skincare bits are a bit pricey, but that is where I choose to splurge because your skin should be cared for. When you have great skincare products, you really only need to use smalls amounts making them last a long time. I really think these items will be repurchases for many many months to come!

Skintimate SkinTherapy Moisturizing Shave Gel for Sensitive Skin - $2.64 at Walmart
I am not loyal to shave gels, but this one is really nice. It is really thick and you only need a tiny amount to do one leg (knee to ankle). It doesn't have a heavy scent, but I do really like the no-scent scent...how many times can I say scent in one sentence! My legs feel moisturized and smooth with this, so it is great for the cooler months. Not much else I can say about a shave gel...

Lush Ultrabland - $29.95
I am currently on Claravis (generic form of Accutane) and if you have been on this or know anyone who has, you will know how DRY your skin gets. I decided to try this cleansing balm after watching a YouTube video about products to use when on Accutane. I love Lush anyway, so it didn't take much convincing! This balm is SO gentle and has no scent or color. It is a bit like rubbing lard into your skin, but it doesn't irritate my skin at all and doesn't leave me with that tight face feeling. I do plan to repurchase this. I think this cleansing balm would be fine for any skin type, and I do plan to use it after I am done with Claravis.

Lush Celestial Moisturizer - $24.95
When I popped into my local Lush store to purchase the Ultrabland cleanser, I was given the sample of Celestial moisturizer. I had to admit I was a bit skeptical about their moisturizers even if I do love their products. But this smells of almonds, and I can't not try something that smells of almonds! It is a medium weight cream with a very light scent, and it is meant for sensitive skin. I decided to try it at night after using the Ultrabland because right now my skin can handle even the heaviest of moisturizers. I LOVED this stuff! I plan to repurchase it as soon as I can get to the store (who wants to spend $6.00 on shipping - sorry Lush...I still love you). The tiny little pot lasted me almost a month even with every night use. It is a pretty heavy moisturizer, but my skin really got on with it! It smells so nice and cozy - perfect for nighttime use, and when I woke up in the morning my face just really looked amazing. I use this after my Khiel's Midnight Recovery Concentrate.

Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment - $25.00
What can I say about this stuff...it's ah.mazing! I was given their regular lip treatment as a gift last year and just fell in love with it. I had a few other lip balms to use up after that, but as soon as I did, I was ready to repurchase. I know it is ridiculously expensive for a lip balm, but it really is the best of the best. I was kind of leery about trying this advanced therapy version, because I am always afraid that the formula will be different, but this is just like the original. I love the smell, the packaging, and the results. I just love this stuff! But right now, my lips are so freakin' dry with the Claravis that I can't afford to use this exclusively. I am instead using the Nivea lip balms as a second choice - which is really nice, but just not quite the same. However, if you can't spring for the Sugar version, the Nivea is a good budget option!

Random Empty & Favorite

Harney & Sons Royal Wedding Tea - $12.00
My sister sent the Mr. some tea for his Birthday this year and included a few samples in the package. This was one of the samples. She sent us 2 sachets and I used them both! I was instantly hooked and placed my order. I went through this tin (how darn cute is this tin - by the way, I will be re-purposing) in a month - having drank a cup a day. It is a white tea, but has plenty caffeine to get my going. I have mine with agave nectar and plain almond milk. The website says there are almond and coconut extracts in, but I don't taste the coconut (I don't really like coconut.). I LOVE this stuff and I will be repurchasing it in the 50 sachet bag. So so good!

What were your favorite finished products of the month? I'm always on the lookout for new things to try!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hot Cookin': Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples


Yeah, yeah...I know...another recipe I found on Pinterest. It really is the best place to find new recipes to try. You can see what I've been pinning here.

I saw this recipe after we went to the apple orchard last weekend, and knew it was one I wanted to try this week. My husband loves cooked apples in any form, so I thought this would be a winner. I was right! He said this was a keeper and that he'd serve this to company - high praise from him!

In fact, this recipe does look impressive enough to serve to company, but it is super easy - even for the most kitchen illiterate.

Ingredients

  • 4 Bone-in Pork Chops
  • 2 Land o'Lakes Garlic Herb Sauté Express® Squares
  • Chopped Sage
  • 3 Apples, Peeled and Sliced
  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Apple Cider
  • Heavy Cream

Directions

  1. Melt the Sauté Express® Squares in a large skillet over medium heat until it bubbles. Pat the pork chops dry on both sides. Add the meat and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until browned. Turn and cook the other side until browned and the pork is cooked through.
  2. In another skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar to the butter and cook for 1 minutes or until it begins to melt. Add the apples and saute over medium heat until the apples are browned and tender. May take 10-15 minutes.
  3. In the pan with the pork chops, add the apple cider and cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by about half. Add the cream, bring to a boil and allow it to bubble for a few minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Sprinkle with fresh sage.
  4. Spoon the caramelized apples on top of the pork and serve.


My pork chops were pretty thin, so they didn't take long to cook. Although I used bone-in chops, you could use any kind and I think it would turn out just as good.


I used some of the apples we picked at the orchard last weekend and they were perfect. Use any sort of apple you have around.

You could serve this recipe over anything from potatoes, to rice, to pasta - I had a basic rice pilaf on hand, so I used that.


Of course, I couldn't be happier when a recipe leaves us with 2 full meals for another time. Why does this make me so happy?! We have a soccer game to go to this weekend, and these leftovers will come in very handy so we can eat before we go to the game...No one wants to spend an arm and a leg for crap food at concession stands when you could have this readymade!

*Recipe is a modified version of the one I found here.*

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: Leftovers


Breakfast

I go in and out of love with fruit, yogurt, and granola. I had some fresh cut up pineapple in the fridge and we just got this Pecan Praline Granola from Trader Joe's, so I decided to go for it! I used low fat vanilla yogurt, but you could use any combination of fruit, yogurt, and granola to get the desired flavors. Super quick and easy breakfast...not to mention fairly healthy! Lord knows I need more healthy in my life.


 Lunch

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...I love leftovers! We had ground turkey tostadas for dinner last night and there was plenty left to have for lunch. I had refried black beans, medium salsa, light sour cream, and lettuce on mine. Yum! With everything made the night before, it came together in no time...and because most of my lunches are working lunches, that is important!



Dinner

As you can see...I almost forgot to take a picture! My oldest son and I settled in to watch the very last of the Harry Potter movies (we've gotten into it just a bit late), and I completely forgot about taking a picture of my plate! *gasp* I made Trader Joe's frozen Mandarin Chicken tonight. I love this stuff, but always feel like it needs some veggies, so I steamed some broccoli and added it to the mix. Put that over rice, and you've got dinner!

A pretty boring food day if you ask me, but it was a cheap food day...and there were leftovers from tonight's dinner too!

How do you feel about leftovers? What is your favorite meal to eat the next day?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Annual Apple Picking Tradition Continues


Every year we've made the trek to a local orchard to pick apples. We just can't miss an opportunity to bring home apples fresh from the tree! This is the place we've visited 2 of the last 3 years; Millstone Creek Orchards. It's a cute little place in Ramseur, NC. They have pick your own and pre-picked apples, as well as seconds (slightly bumped and bruised, but are still great for some applications) if you are looking for them. Their store carries all sorts of homemade apple treats including cider, cakes, and ice cream to name a few!

The Mr. and I have made our own applesauce with the apples we've picked each year, and seem to have come up with a winner of a recipe. We used to jar it and sell it at small craft fairs, but it got too difficult to keep up that sort of thing with two kids. Now we make it and give it as gifts around Christmas time instead. This is a much more realistic goal!

Anywho, we had amazing weather this past weekend when we made the drive to Millstone Creek. The season for the apples we wanted opened Saturday, and they were already pretty picked over by the time we got to them. My oldest son was fine with that, because it meant he got to climb up the trees to grab the best ones left at the tops (Climbing the trees is not permitted, but we were super careful not to damage anything!).


And because everyone needs a job, my youngest son had basket duty!


How darn cute is that! However, Daddy did have to help once we got a few apples in there...


It was a great Fall family outing, and we came home with enough apples to try all sorts of new recipes and one tried and true - with a few left over for eating...What do ya think?


When the weather starts to feel like Fall, I always get excited for our trip to the orchard. Is there a tradition you have for the start of Fall? I'd love to know!

Apple Recipes on the Agenda:

Place to Visit:
Millstone Creek Orchards

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hot Cookin': Pumpkin Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup


I found this recipe on Pinterest last week and knew I had to try it. It was all the things I love about Fall in one dish! Plus it didn't hurt that I had all of the ingredients on hand...Well, last night seemed as good a time as any to give it a go.

The waffles came out perfectly light and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. My kitchen smelled like Fall and Christmas wrapped into one with all of the spices in this recipe. The syrup was sweet and spicy, but still had a crisp flavor from the cider.

For anyone that likes pumpkin and cider...you can't go wrong here!

Ingredients

Waffles:
  • 2.5 cups Flour
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Clove
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • .5 teaspoon Salt
  • .25 cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1.25 cup Canned Pumpkin
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 4 Eggs, Separated
  • .25 cup Butter, Melted

Syrup:

  • .5 cup White Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Apple Cider
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoons Butter

Directions

  1. Preheat a waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, clove, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin, milk, and egg yolks. Whip the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form (or your arm falls off, whichever comes first).
  3. Stir the flour mixture and .25 cup melted butter into the pumpkin mixture, stirring just to combine. Use a whisk to incorporate 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, stirring gently. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Cook waffles according to manufacturer's instructions (I recommend using cooking spray for these waffles.).
  4. To make the syrup, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Stir in the apple cider and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil; boil until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of butter until melted. Serve warm.

Because the process of making the waffles from scratch was a bit longer than using something like Bisquick, I made the syrup first and let it sit on my stove top at extra low heat. If your stove doesn't have an extra low burner setting, I'd just set it aside and try to keep it warm until the waffles are made.


This syrup is seriously yummy, and I think you could find many uses just for this! I'm thinking it would go great drizzled over your favorite vanilla ice cream with some candied nuts crumbled on top...*drools*


These were the leftovers...after 2 adults and 2 kids had a dinners worth of waffles. I let them cool fully and then put them in the freezer just like this until they froze through. They are now in a baggie ready for any day of the week when you'd feel like a toaster waffle - move over Eggo! There was plenty of syrup left too, so I put that in a squirt bottle and popped it in the fridge.

So there ya have it, a perfect Fall breakfast for dinner with a ton for the freezer. We loved this. Let me know if you try it!

*Recipe is a modified version of the one I found here.*

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner


Breakfast

Today was the coldest morning we've had, so far, at 50 degrees - so I went with comfort food...I had a plain bagel with a wedge of Light Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese, half of a pear (my 3 year old had the other half), and a cup of tea. I am really loving the Harney & Sons Royal Wedding Tea with agave nectar and a splash of almond milk. It has an amazing almondy (yeah, it's a word...now) vanilla flavor - perfect for the Fall!



Lunch

Can I just say it...I love leftovers! And what's not to love? You save money, save time, and there is usually even more yummy-ness to a dish after it sits (in the fridge, of course) overnight! Last night was a rice pilaf with chicken and veggie one pot deal. It wasn't anything fancy, as you can see, but it represents all the food groups and wasn't too bad. I paired it with Lemon Muller Frut Up yogurt (These things are soooo good! It tastes just like lemon meringue pie - sans crust.) for that little something sweet and called it Lunch!



Dinner

When in doubt, have breakfast for dinner...right?! I decided to try out a recipe I found on Pintrest recently; Pumpkin Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup (I will do a separate post on the recipe.).

The syrup was what made this dish! I instantly thought of half a dozen other things that it would be great on *ahem* ice cream. Due to my love for all things pumpkin, the waffles were a hit too. There were tons of leftovers...no store bought frozen waffles in this house! And because I live in a house full of boys, we threw in some bacon for good measure. This was Fall on a plate!

Did you try a new recipe today? I'd love to hear how it turned out!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What I Found In My Bag: Post Summer Edition



The weather has started to mellow, thankfully! So, I decided this was as good a time as any to change out my bag for the upcoming Fall. Truthfully, I just REALLY needed to clean out my bag...as you can probably tell.

Yeah, yeah I know...what a mess right! But I'm cleaning it out now...















The bag I've been using is the Leather Satchel from Sabina. I was given this bag from Urban Outfitters back in 2008 as a gift, so sadly, it is no longer available. Pooh, right?!

I love yellow. This bag is yellow. Therefore, I love this bag.

It is genuine leather with an orange satin lining. But because it is leather, the bag is hella heavy! Perfect for beating down those potential muggers - who needs pepper spray! This thing will last forever if you take good care of it. Mine, however, is obviously used and abused on the regular...

Anywho, let's get to the fun stuff...What I found in this bottomless bag of tricks:

  • Up & Up Travel Size Facial Tissue
  • Vera Bradley Mini Notebook in Watercolor (Summer 2011 Collection)
  • Boogie Wipes
  • Ice Breakers Wintergreen Mints
  • Always Radiant Panty Liner Sample
  • Vera Bradley Ball Point Pen in Blue Lagoon (Spring 2011 Collection)
  • 2 Empty Apple iPhone Earbud Cases
  • Trident Layers Grape Lemonade Gum
  • Loose $0.50 (Which was given to my 3 year old to put in his piggy bank, but never made it there...until now!)
  • Purell Sanitizing Hand Wipe from Chick-fil-a
  • Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Rose - Sample Size
  • Loose Hair Band
  • Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Polarized Tortoise Shell Sunnies with Case
  • A Business Card for a Natural/Organic Store I Visited Over the Summer
  • Cherry Jolly Rancher Stix - Probably from last Halloween...but not yet expired!
  • 2 Recipts
  • A Check I Already eDeposited
  • An Expired Cheesecake Factory Coupon
  • A Print Out of my Ulta Rewards Card
  • 1 Used (Not THAT used!) and 5 Clean Loose Tissues
  • Vera Bradley Business Card Holder in Island Blooms (Spring 2012 Collection) - Containing Business Cards
  • Vera Bradley Wristlet Wallet in Viva la Vera (Summer 2011 Collection)



I also had this "Walking Pharmacy" (Thanks Jen of OrganizedJen for making this a thing!) in my bag. The little blue bag was one from ipsy earlier this year. It was the perfect size to carry around random beauty-ish items, so that is what I did with it. This is what I found inside:

  • Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens
  • ChapStick Lip Shield 365
  • 2 Bath & Body Works Pocket Backs (Island Margarita and Island Nectar)
  • Another Hair Band
  • 2 Massive Bobby Pins
  • Fortune Cookie Soap Solid Sunscreen in "...Where the Sun Don't Shine"
  • a Bandaid
  • Sample Sized Neutorgena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock in 70 SPF
  • Fortune Cookie Soap OCD Hand Sanitizer in Dirty Hoe

Normally my iPhone lives in my bag too, but due to technical difficulties with my camera, I had to use my iPhone to take the pictures for this post.

Well there ya have it...I'm not quite sure how half of my worldly possessions and 3 hand sanitizers ended up in my bag over the Summer, but what do you do. I've cleaned out the mess and switched all of the "necessities" over to my Fall bag which I'm sure will be just as exciting at the end of this season! I can now count my day as productive.

What oddities have you found in your bag?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Morning Skincare Routine - Accutane Edition


I have been on Claravis, a generic form of Accutane, for about 74 days. If you know anything about the drug, you will know that skincare becomes your best friend! It does take some working out to come up with the right routine and product combo for your skin, but once you do, you hang on for dear life!

I'm wont go into my Accutane story in this post, but I will do that at a later time. This post is just going to take you guys through my morning Skincare routine and the products that I have found to work best for me. This may not work for everyone, but it has worked for me.

When I first started Claravis (Accutane), I was hesitant to wash my face twice a day because of the extreme dryness, but once I found the right cleanser, washing twice a day wasn't a problem.

I start with the Lush Ultrabland Facial Cleanser. It is a cleansing balm, so you massage it into dry skin, then use a washcloth or muslin wet with warm water to rub it gently off your face. Yes, it feels like you are rubbing lard on your skin, but with the almighty dryness, this is welcome.

Next I use an eye cream. I like the Origins GinZing Eye Cream. It is moisturizing enough and also brightens. This isn't a huge deal, as you will already have what my dermatologist calls the "Accutane Glow". I like Origins products because they don't irritate my super sensitive skin.

Follow up with a good, bland moisturizer that has SPF in - I use Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer. It does the job, and again doesn't irritate my skin. I don't wear much makeup on the regular, so a thicker moisturizer is fine for me. However, if you are wearing makeup daily, you may want to go for a lighter formula.

You will definately want to find an AMAZING lip product as well. I use Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream to condition my lips, then follow up with Fresh Sugar Advanced Lip Therapy. It doesnt have any SPF in, but I don't go out much during the day since I work from home. If you are in the sun I'd get one with SPF.

So, that's my morning routine done. It takes all of 5 minutes, and the only thing I need to top up during the day is my lip balm. I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by!

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