Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Empties


Happy Halloween! My treat for you; an Empties post!

I don't know about you, but I love to find out what people have loved enough to finish each month. These type of blog posts and videos tend to be great honest reviews of products that were used up. I hope this post will be the same.

You will probably see a trend of moisturizing and Fall like products from here on out since the weather is now starting to change and my already dehydrated skin is really starting to let go of any of the moisture it may have had in it's stores!

Without further ado, here is what I finished up this month!

Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Fortifying Conditioner - $4.29
This massive bottle of conditioner lasted absolutely forever! I can't take all the credit, since my entire family helped to use it up, but I did use enough to be able to report back to you on it. I'm not generally too fussy with my shampoo and conditioner, but right now my scalp and hair are both super dry due to the Accutane and I need a really good conditioner to help combat it. This one was ok, but nothing spectacular. It is a bit heavy for fine haired people, but anyone with normal to thick hair would be fine with this as an everyday conditioner.

Simple Moisturizing Facial Wash - $6.99
I wasn't as big of a fan of this as the original Simple cleanser. It leaves a strange film on my skin that I just didn't like. It is gentle and didn't irritate my skin, but I just couldn't get over the weird film. I did finish it because it didn't really bother my skin - and I hate wasting products I spent good money on!

Nivea A Kiss of Milk & Honey Lip Care - $2.99
I spoke about this in my Evening Skincare Routine post, so I won't go into too much detail here. If you'd like a more in depth review, take a look at that blog post. I have already repurchased this lip balm; just in a different flavor. This is probably going to be my lip balm of choice this winter...unless, of course, I am gifted with Fresh Sugar Lip Therapy. *wink wink*

Bath & Body Works Pumpkin Apple 3-Wick Candle - $20.00
I. LOVED. This. Candle! It is a Fall must have. I will never go another Fall without it in my stash - unless they discontinue it. Please don't do that Bath & Body Works! It is the perfect scent for this time of year. I also have another more in depth review of this candle in my Favorite Fall Releases post. I burned this in about a day and a half because I just couldn't get enough of the smell. Trust me, go have a sniff!

Skintimate Skin Therapy Lotionized Shave Gel Sensitive - $2.44
Shaving gel is shaving gel, right? That's what I used to think until my skin started to dry out as I got older. In the last few years, I've started to realize that I have quite sensitive skin - even on my legs. Again, I've never really been fussy with shaving gel, always just buying what I had a coupon for or what was on sale. I still do that, but when I can, I do prefer to purchase this Skintimate Skin Therapy. It is very thick, and more like a creamy lotion than a foamy gel. I feel like it provides a better barrier between the razor blades and my skin. I have to shave my legs every other day, and this gel keeps me from getting the dreaded 'ashy leg' look. On and less technical note, the smell is lovely too!

What products did you go through this month? What was your favorite?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Evening Skincare Routine - Accutane Edition

 

Finally, I'm here with my evening skincare routine!

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am currently on Claravis (generic form of Accutane) 40mg twice a day. Because I am on this medication, my skin is like the Sahara Desert! I've had 4 months to find the right products to keep my skin hydrated without irritating it, and I think I've finally done it. I have 1 month left on the medication and however long it takes for my skin to go back to normal. I'm not sure how these products will work with my post-Accutane skin, but they are working for me now!

So, without further ado (listed in order of use)...

Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash - $21.00
I received a Belk gift card for my Birthday in April, and used it to purchase a bunch of beauty products that I had been eyeing up for some time. This happened to be one of them. Pre-Accutane I experienced oily skin with patches of dryness, but was also sensitive to cleansers that left me with that tight stretched feeling. This cleanser had been said to cater to those with that oily/dry skin without leaving skin parched. I figured if it did what it said, I'd be golden. I think this is a great cleanser and I really like Origins as a brand, so although at the moment my skin really needs something very moisturizing, I can still get away with using this. I even like the minty smell of this super creamy and SUPER foamy product.

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate - $46.00
As far as dry facial oils, this one is a cult favorite, and for good reason! Because I've always had oily/combination skin, I was scared to try anything with the word 'oil' in the name. When I received this as a gift, I knew I was going to be put on Accutane so I held onto it for use while being on it. I use this every single night. It says to use 3 to 4 drops, but I use it quite liberally since my skin can handle it right now. It smells very herbal and calming which is great for using at night, and it doesn't irritate my skin at all. I never feel greasy and my skin feels so much more hydrated the next morning. I believe I will still use this after Accutane, but in a smaller quantity.

Nastassja Skin Natural Beauty Age Defy Eye Cream - $40.00
This eye cream was part of a sample kit that I purchased after getting their skin peel in a Glossy Box ages ago. I apologize that the writing has come off the little white pot, but I assume their full size product has much nicer packaging. This is marketed as an Age Defy product. I can't attest to its anti-aging properties as I don't have much in the way of wrinkles or crows feet, but it is a nice thick eye cream that is great for those of us suffering from extreme dryness. It also doesn't irritate my under eye area, which is uber sensitive at the moment. Though I probably wouldn't purchase this eye cream again, I don't have anything against it, I just think there are so many nice ones to try that I don't want to lock myself into any right now.

Lush Celestial Facial Moisturizer - $24.95
I found this product by accident, and am so so so glad I did! I popped into my local Lush store to purchase the Ultrabland Cleanser and was given a sample of this when I told the sweet shop girl that I was on Accutane and needed super gentle products for my extremely dry skin. I'd never heard anything about it before so I was happy to try it (I'd happily try anything Lush is willing to pass my way.). I took to using it after my facial oil to lock in moisture overnight. First off, it smells AH.Mazing! It's like almonds and vanilla and feels so good on the skin. You need the tiniest amount of this stuff. Seriously, the sample pot was a bit smaller than the white pot of eye cream in the above picture, and it lasted me for about a month. When I woke up the next morning after my first use of this moisturizer, my skin looked like I had never had a day of acne in my life! Ok, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it looked better than it had ever looked. After a week of this stuff, all of my Accutane scarring was gone, and my doctor even said my skin looked 'like porcelain'! No one has ever used those words to describe MY skin before. If I was sold before, I was really sold now. When I finished the sample I was without it for about 2 weeks. I thought, well maybe it was just that the Accutane was finally kicking in. I went back to another night cream that I had been using prior and well, let's just say I threw that one out and placed an order with Lush post haste! My skin broke out again and I started getting dry scaly patches that turned into raw spots...just not good. I got Celestial in the mail and within 2 days it was back to the glorious 'porcelain-like' state. SOLD! I will not be using another night cream again...maybe ;)

Nivea A Kiss of Milk & Honey Lip Balm - $2.99
Although I swear by the Fresh Sugar Lip Therapy, I just can't justify $25 a pop twice a month right now. I have heard all the talk about the Nivea lip balms and decided to give it a try. My local Target had this one and I grabbed it. It's a great balm! The feeling is very much like the Fresh Sugar, but is a bit harder which I think makes this product last longer. Fresh is so soft, you just blow through it when you are in need of lip balm 24 hours a day like you are when on Accutane. The Nivea lasted me almost a month, so I grabbed another one when I went to the store the other day. They only have the A Kiss of Mint & Minerals, so that is what I'm using now. Both are great, the formula is the same, so whatever one is available in your store will work just fine I'm sure. I am sure I will continue to re-purchase this lip balm. It does the job and makes my lips feel super soft. Plus you just can't beat $2.99 for the quality!

Those are my evening skincare items sorted. I think I like the process as much as the products. It helps me relax and with a few extra minutes to really work the products in...it's like having a mini facial before bed!

Have you tried any of these products? What are your favorite nighttime skincare items?

*You can also check out my morning Accutane skincare routine here.*

Friday, October 11, 2013

Favorite Fall Releases: Bath & Body Works Candles

 

This time of year is my favorite for new releases from some of my favorite brands.

Bath & Body Works always puts out their seasonal 3-wick candles early, and I couldn't be happier! I really could burn these scents year round. All have are in a similar scent family (think cinnamon, apples, pumpkin, etc...), but each has its own appeal. I have my absolute favorites shown above - excluding one that I didn't have on hand - I burned it :( sorry... These are the ones that I repurchase every year and will continue to repurchase as long as they don't discontinue them - and they better not!

*Scent descriptions come from the Bath & Body Works website.*
  • Leaves - Celebrate the brilliant colors of autumn with this rich blend of golden nectar, red apple and spiced berries.
  • Pumpkin Apple (Doesn't smell like much in the jar, but once burning it's amazing!) - Experience the blend of your two favorite fall scents - apples and pumpkin - enhanced by notes of cinnamon and clove.
  • Cider Lane - As sweet as a trip to the local apple orchard each year, a delicious fall blend of mulled cider, warm caramel and sweet cinnamon.
  • Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin (not shown) - Celebrate Pumpkin season with this inviting mixture of harvest pumpkin, sweet vanilla cream and fall's rich spices.

I keep an eye out for the 2 for $22 deal that Bath & Body Works does occasionally for these 3-wick candles and stock up then. This is the best, and really the only time (If I'm honest.) to buy these candles. Who doesn't like a 2 for the price of 1 deal!? The reason I choose to purchase them only during these deals is because although the candles smell amazing, and really fill a room with fragrance, they just don't last all that long. Granted, I do tend to burn them about half the day when I light them. I've already gone through a Leaves, Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, and this Pumpkin Apple candle and it's only October 11th!

If you are in the market for a great smelling candle that will make your house feel like Fall, these are the ones to get. Don't buy them though if you are looking for subtlety. I don't fuss around with other candles since I've found these. You just can't do any better than the best if you ask me! I noticed they have the 2 for $22 deal on for a limited time right now, so get on over there and snatch them up! I see they've already put out the Winter scents too. *makes mental note to get some*

What is your favorite Bath & Body Works candle scent for Fall?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: Clearing Out the Fridge

 

Breakfast

So...this is what happens when you have a doctors appointment and most of your energy goes toward getting your 3 year old ready to head out the door. Oh, and did I mention it's raining today??? I only mention that because it adds that extra bit of chaos to an outting. I am having one frosted cherry Pop Tart (my older son had the other one for his snack last night). I am trying out a new morning drink. I saw this at my local Walmart over the weekend, and thought I'd give it a try. It's the Oregon Cafe Vanilla Latte Espresso Concentrate. You use 1/4 cup of the concentrate and mix with 3/4 cup milk of your choice (I use almond milk.) then heat. It's ok...but is just way too sweet for my taste! It is really easy to get ready in the morning, and should fufill the cafeine need - just with LOTS of sweetness.



Lunch

I hate wasting food...could be why I love leftovers so much. So when I had kale left from when I made soup last week, I wanted to use it up. I decided to boil it with some bacon, chicken stock, and garlic powder the other night. Now I need to finish that off too - hence a big bowl of kale for lunch! It's not Gramma's kale, but it'll do in a pinch. For some additional protein I had these Italian meat and mozzarella wraps - one of each pepperoni, prosciutto, and soppressata. It's so cold and yucky out today, I could really do with a big cup of hot tea...but I don't have any tea in the house...guess some ice water will have to do.



Snack

Snacktime! I was hungry, so I had a Muller Frut Up to tide me over until dinner time. This is my favorite yogurt at the moment, obviously.



Dinner

I know it's not glamorous, but with such cold and rainy weather comfort food was the thing to do. I had some dried beef and rice in the pantry, so I made Creamed Chipped Beef with rice. I've never made it before now - can you believe that! I've eaten it plenty of times, but never made it. It's super quick and easy, but lacks something green, so I made some peas to go along. It was yummy and filling - what more can you want from dinner...

What is your favorite way to use up what you have lying around in the kitchen cabinets?


Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall Trader Joe's Haul


What spurred me to go to Trader Joe's was the Pumpkin Croissants - well wouldn't ya know - they were out! What a bummer! Obviously, I didn't let that keep me down though, and I bought up all of the remaining pumpkin treats I could get my hands on. Here is what I got:

Organic Frosted Pumpkin Toaster Pastries - $2.49
I must admit that I didn't eat any of these. They are basically Trader Joe's answer to the Pop Tart. The Mr. eats these in the mornings. I assume they are a win since he asked that we buy more...always a good sign!

Pumpkin Cranberry Scone Mix - $3.69
We made these scones for breakfast this weekend. They were easy to throw together (just add melted butter, milk, and egg). They are not quite as dense as some scones I've had, and the flavor is decidedly lighter than I would have expected, but they were really good. They go great with a cup of tea.

Pumpkin Spice Rooibos - $3.99
This stuff is super yummy! It is rooibos, so it has no caffeine, but if you are ok with that I'd highly recommend this. I take mine with a bit of agave nectar and almond milk - Yum! It just tastes like Fall, and what is better than that I ask you!

Big Boss Harvest Time Spiked Pumpkin Ale - $8.99
What signifies the start of Fall more than the arrival of pumpkin flavored beer...We picked up this one because we'd never tried it before. It is very good. It's surprisingly light, but with plenty of flavor.

Organic Canned Pumpkin - $1.99
Sure you can get this anytime from anywhere, but it's pumpkin-y and fit in with the rest of this haul!

Have you tried any of these? Did you get your hands on the Pumpkin Croissants??? Where they yummy?!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hot Cookin': Applesauce 5 Ways


Here it is...our applesauce experiment.

This year we decided to take a step away from our usual and well liked cinnamon applesauce, to try something new. Or rather 5 somethings new.

We started with the standard start of our usual applesauce (with the exception of the roasted applesauce) recipe and then split it into a few variations. I will put our recipe (if you can call it that) below and then explain the variations later.

All of these are super easy and just require some time to cook down and a fair amount of kitchen space to spread out...but don't feel like you can't try it if you have a small kitchen! When we first started making applesauce 12 years ago, our kitchen was the size of a large closet!

Ingredients
  • Apples of Your Choosing (We use a mixture of Red Winesap, Red Stayman, and Golden Delicious because we've found over the years that it gives the best texture and most amazing mouth feel!)
  • Brown Sugar - To Taste. Some apples will need more or less.
  • Water
  • Lemon Juice
  • Lemon Zest
Directions
  1. Peel and core apples. Place in pot on low heat.
  2. Add water just to keep apples from burning. (We used maybe a cup for a 24 qt. pot.)
  3. Add brown sugar to taste. (We added about a cup to the 24 qt. pot at the beginning, but you can certainly add more later if you find it is needed.)
  4. Add the zest and juice of as many lemons as you think you need for your bunch of apples. (Again, we used about 2 lemons for the 24 qt. pot.)
  5. Let cook down on low heat until the apples have broken down to mostly mush. Use an immersion (stick) blender to burr down to as smooth of a texture as you prefer. We like ours super smooth, so we added a bit more water (just eyeball it) and brown sugar to taste, then blended until the consistency of baby food.
  6. At this point, you can either package up and refrigerate, or can/jar it. We did a bit of both. If you make enough to eat in a short period of time, by all means just throw it in the fridge once cooled. If you made more than you think you can eat in a week or so time, I'd can/jar it. There are no preservatives in this applesauce, so it will not last as long as store bought when placed in the fridge.


Roasted

Like I said earlier, the roasted was the only variation that was different than our standard start. For this applesauce, we cored and chunked up the apples - leaving the skin on, and threw in some thick strips of lemon zest. It was all baked in the oven in a dutch oven. When the apples had broken down they were cooled and then burred up with the immersion blender with some water and brown sugar. The flavor of this roasted applesauce is super concentrated and lemony.


Vanilla

I think this is my favorite variation...I am a bit of a lemon fanatic, so the roasted really called to me, but anything that has vanilla bean in it tends to steal my heart. And when it has lemon AND vanilla - *gasp*. I just can't resist seeing the little bits of vanilla throughout the applesauce. I just can't...ok! I mean look at this:


I dare you to not think that looks amazing!

So yeah, this variation is cooked down with brown sugar, apple cider, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a whole vanilla bean (split in half with the seeds scraped into the pot). Once the apples are cooked down, remove the vanilla bean pod and add some water then burr up to the desired consistency.


Cranberry

We love cranberries in this house. At Thanksgiving we make our own cranberry sauce...that will have to be another blog post all together! Craisins are always on hand - we buy them by the 10 lb bag (really only 48 oz, but that's a lot of Craisins)! So we decided to throw about a cup of these sweetened dried cranberries in with the apples, brown sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice as they cooked down. The cranberries plumped up and gave the applesauce a red hue. The finished product tastes like a smooth cranberry sauce with a hint of apple. We left this one less sweet so that it had that sweet tart flavor. It would be great paired with a turkey and stuffing dinner!


Spice

Forgive the messy pot, but this is real home cooking here! In addition to the standard recipe, we threw in some spices for applesauce that smells AND tastes just.like.Christmas! We went heavy on the ground cinnamon and a bit lighter on the ground cloves and ground nutmeg. Seriously, this would be amazing during the holidays. Add some balsamic vinegar and use it as a glaze on pork - Yum! We left this one a bit more textured, but again you can take it down to whatever texture you prefer.


Clockwise from Top: Cranberry, Roasted, Vanilla, Spice, and Plain

To be fair, the Mr. did the majority of the labor this year. I was chief burr-er and taste tester - not a bad gig if you ask me. We were very happy with the results of this experiment. Seriously girls, forget going after men with money - a man who can cook is where it's at!

Which would you like to try?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday: Trader Joe's & Garlic

 

Breakfast

This morning I went for the unhealthy option of 4 Atlanta Bread mini pumpkin muffins that the Mr. picked up from Sam's Club earlier in the week. They are ok, but I'm positive I could make something better! I had a bowl of our homemade vanilla applesauce - you can read about my obsession here. And for the Trader Joe's contribution to this meal - their Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate. You mix it one part concentrate to 2 parts hot water or milk and you've got a good cup of coffee! I really like how quick it comes together, because who wants to spend 10 minutes waiting on or making a cup of coffee in the morning?!



Lunch

For lunch I wanted to use up the remaining Roasted Garlic Hummus I had from Trader Joe's. So I had it with some Pretzel Slims...also from Trader Joe's. I swear this post is not sponsored by them! I rounded out my somewhat healthy lunch with a Muller Lemon Frut Up and called it done.



Dinner

Tonight we had roasted chicken with sweet peas and Garlic Potatoes with Parmesan Sauce from...you guessed it, Trader Joe's! Roasted chicken is an old standby for us most weeks and we just change up the sides. I had a bit of Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce to dip my chicken in. It's not a requirement, but sometimes it's nice.The potatoes from Trader Joe's were frozen and I chose to bake mine. They were awesome and crispy! I will definitely be purchasing them again.

Another pretty boring food day brought to you by Trader Joe's and Garlic...We won't have any vampire's hanging around this house tonight!

What is one of your weeknight go to dinners?