Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Tried it Tuesday- DIY Mask

***This post is dedicated to my cousin Ashley, who was always my mask parter in crime!***

This horrible summer weather has been taking a toll on my skin. It has been dry, flaky, and tired looking. While I really believe that how my skin looks depends more on what I put in my mouth more than what I put on my face, but no amount of water, fresh fruit or multivitamins were helping! I remembered a DIY face mask that I read about a few weeks ago, and decided to give it a try.

The recipe:
1 T olive oil
1 T honey
1 t lemon juice (I used the kind in the little plastic lemon, fresh would probably be better)

Mix all ingredients. If it's not mixing well warm the olive oil up a bit (not too much, it has to go on your face!). Put it all on your face. Wait 10 minutes, then rinse it off.

My review:
It was a lot less messy than you would think, but I did get some olive oil splatters in the bathroom sink that were difficult to clean up (hint: try a kitchen cleaner, cuts through the grease better than bathroom cleaner!) but once it was on my face, it didn't run or drip at all. It also took some serious scrubbing to get it off, I had to wash my face three times! I recommend washing it off in the shower, it would take FOREVER in the sink, and I wouldn't really want to get olive oil on a washcloth. But it WORKED. All of my flaky skin was gone, and I had a nice glowy look for a few days. And it was super cheap! So if you don't mind a little mess, and have a few ingredients to spare, I do recommend it!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

PS, I Love You

I have been trying to be more consistent about posting the last few weeks, and the best way for me to do that is to write a bunch of posts when I have the time/have a few ideas/feel like writing and then schedule them to post later.

Usually I only write a day or two in advance, but I was thinking today, what if I got really ambitious and wrote thousands of posts and schedule them months in the future. And then someday I die in some freak accident and then my posts will speak from the dead.

It would be PS I Love You all over again! Except I wouldn't be giving Steve tasks to complete. And he hopefully wouldn't go back to my hometown in Ireland and fall in love with my best friend...

PS This is not a death wish. I hope to live a long long time and have my posts speak from the living not the dead!

Oh, and PS-I Love You ;)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stealth Veggies

I have a love/hate relationship with stealth vegetables. You know the kind, where you're having a delicious meal and then the cook casually mentions that she put 13 heads of lettuce in the main dish and you had no idea.

On one had, I love it. Eating more vegetables is a good thing! And getting picky eaters (children or husbands!) to eat them can sometimes be difficult. And I would love to feel like I was getting something good for me when I eat a whole pan of brownies by myself (not that I have ever done that...).

But on the other hand, do you really need to trick people into eating something good for them? There are tons of studies out there showing that people tend to like the food they are exposed to. So, if we give kids/husbands broccoli, the first second or third time they might only have a bite or two, but the fourth, fifth, or 100th time they will dig right in (this of course is not true for every food. I grew up hating hot corn meal cereal, no matter how many times my mom made it!). And wouldn't it be better to teach someone to like a real veggie then to trick them into thinking that brownies are good for them? What happens when you are not there to stuff a vegetable into everything?

I am (obviously) conflicted about this, so while I make up my mind, try out this recipe for stuffed meatloaf. Tons of good for you spinach, but you can totally see it, so it's only semi stealth! Also, a great way to use up spinach that's a little too wilty to put in a salad but still good enough to eat.

Spinach and Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

1 pound ground turkey
2 egg whites (or one whole egg)
1/2 cup oatmeal (you can also use bread crumbs)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 oz shredded mozzarella
2 cups fresh spinach

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the turkey, egg whites, oatmeal, onion, 1/3 cup of BBQ sauce, and spices in a large bowl. Spread half of the turkey mixture in a bread pan. Layer cheese and spinach on top (trust me, put the spinach on after the cheese, it's much easier to spread the rest of the meat on!). Layer the remaining meat on top of the cheese and spinach. Cover with remaining BBQ sauce. Bake for 1 hour. Cut into 6 slices, and enjoy!

Nutrition: Calories: 262, Fat: 12g, Total Carbohydrates: 10g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 28g

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Tried it Tuesday- Almond Milk

Let me start this post by saying I love all things dairy. A PB&J just isn't complete without a cold glass of milk, I could have ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I never met a cheese I didn't like. So I never felt the need to try any milk alternative products, since the real stuff was obviously amazing. But when I got hit by a nasty bug at the end of May, I had to lay off the dairy products until it cleared up. And when it finally did clear up, I was out of the habit of drinking milk. After pouring yet another sour half gallon of milk down the sink, I decided it was time to try something new that didn't go bad quite as quickly. Enter almond milk.

I bought the unsweetened unflavored store brand almond milk, nothing fancy. It was about the same price as a half gallon of milk.

My review:

Good and bad.

Good: Almond milk is great for putting on cereal. It has a really nice almond-y aftertaste, but other than that, I couldn't tell a difference. It is also good to bake with if you are using it as a moistener and not a thickener (muffins are a big yes!). It has less calories, but the about the same amount of protein as milk. Lasts longer than regular milk.

Bad: It is NOT good to drink all by itself. A little chocolate syrup will fix it right up though. It also is not good to use as a thickener in place of milk because, well, it doesn't thicken! It also is not good to use in savory foods, since it does have kind of a sweet flavor.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Garden Update

Bad news. It turns out that going on vacation for a week and half without getting someone to water your plants will kill them. Who knew?? So my first gardening experiment has come to an end. We did get about 5 tomatoes, and tons of fresh basil and rosemary. We also learned that when cilantro flowers, pinch the flowers off or it will die.

We have more potting soil, so I am getting ready to try again. I am thinking about growing the plants from seeds this time instead of buying seedlings.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to Save on Your Grocery Bill (Without becoming Crazy Coupon Lady)

If you have read/listened to/watched the news lately, it's obvious our economy is not in the best shape. The stock market is up, no wait, it's down, it's a double dip recession, no, it's a recovery. It all makes me want to hide under the covers!!

So I don't go crazy, I am trying instead to save money where ever I can. You can't really control the cost of rent, and hello it's 104 degrees outside so I am keeping my thermostat right where it is, thankyouverymuch, so I see the grocery bill as the easiest place to cut costs without cutting the quality of my life.

While I am super interested in the whole couponing craze that is going around, who has time to do that?? And who really wants to be the crazy lady who hoards toothbrushes just because they were free?? Not I!! I also don't think that couponing lets you eat the best foods. I have never seen a coupon for lettuce or apples!!

So if you are, like me, trying to save money on groceries without eating a steady diet of chips and Oreos, or without becoming the crazy coupon lady, these tips might help!

1. Make a list of meals that you eat often. Try to come up with 15 or so. It can be hard just to sit down and list out 15 meals, so think of what you have eaten in the past week. If you still can't think of anything, open a cookbook or google some recipes that you would like to try. Come up with a list of the main ingredients for all the recipes.

2. Each week, look at the sale papers for all the stores in your area. That means the hippie shop down the street, the Mexican market across town, the Super Target where everything is twice as much, or anywhere else that you have access to. If the sale ads don't come in the mail, look them up online. Most places will send you a weekly email if you sign up, which will save time. It sounds like it takes a long time, but it doesn't once you learn where to find everything. Make a note if there is anything for sale that is on your list of ingredients. If you see a great deal on canned tomatoes, or BBQ sauce, or anything else that you know you will use, put it on the list!

3. Make a menu of the things you are going to eat that week. Write it down on a calendar, put it in your phone, or tape it on the side of the fridge. Just don't lose it!! Try to plan your menu around the sales that week, especially for fresh produce.

4. Go shopping. Go to all the little stores that have the great sales on one or two things and DON'T BUY ANYTHING ELSE THERE but DO STOCK UP on what you will use. Get as many cans of crushed tomatoes for $.45 as they will let you have! Yes, it will take more time to shop in four different stores, but when you are only getting 1-2 things there, you wont be there long. And most likely, you wont go to each store every week. If all the stores in your area have that great of sales, please tell me where you live. I want to move there! Yes, you can go to Wal Mart and they will price match, but I try to stay out of Wal Mart as much as possible since it kills my soul to go there. Also, don't you want to support local business?

5. Go to your regular grocery store and get everything else you will need for that week that wasn't on sale.

As you continue to do this, you will start to find that your weekly list at your regular grocery store gets smaller and smaller. Pretty soon, all you will be buying is produce and the occasional special ingredient along with all your sale items. For example, there is a store in town where antibiotic and hormone free chicken breast go on sale for $1.77 a pound! Every time I see that in the add, I go and buy 8-10 pounds. Steve packages it up into one pound portions and we freeze it until we want to use it.

If you still feel like you are spending too much, here are a few additional tips:

1. Pack your lunch. I know this is so obvious, but it still is a mystery to me how people I work with can complain about not having enough money and then go spend $8 on lunch. Hello! That's $40 a week! $160 a month!! For a not so good lunch from Subway!!

2. Eat less meat. I know. I live in Texas where meat is the main dish, side dish and sometimes dessert. But trust me, you will not die if you do not eat meat one or two days a week. If this is hard for you, try starting with Mexican food. Somehow a bean burrito or cheese enchiladas seems less 'meatless' than veggie lasagna or bean soup. Or maybe that's just me...

3. Make it yourself. Instead of buying bread, make a loaf! Instead of buying cookies, make a batch! It's a lot cheaper (I figured once that it cost me less than $1.00 to make a loaf of whole wheat bread) and it's also better for you.  It wont take as much time as you think it will, I promise.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Tried it Tuesday- Deep Conditioning

Every time I watch Tangled I get the urge to grow my hair out. Sadly, summertime has not been kind to my hair, and my first thought is to chop it all off!! So when I heard that Fantastic Sams had deep conditioning for $10, and used Redkin products, I knew I had to try it! I went to the nearest salon, where they sat me in a chair, washed my hair and then put a mixture of deep conditioners in it. I sat under a dryer for 15 minutes, and then it was rinsed out.

My review: The salon was not fancy AT ALL. If you like full service, this is not the place for you. I left the salon with dripping wet hair! But it was only $10, after all. While the service wasn't the best, the product was great. My hair was (and still is) silky smooth and much more manageable, and I think I extended the time between haircuts at least a month, maybe two. If you want a good, cheap deep conditioner, and don't mind a bare bones salon experience, I highly recommend it!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Turning 'Have To' Into 'Want To'

I have been in a bit of a slump lately. I don't want to get out of bed in the morning, I don't want to cook, I don't want to do laundry. I just want to lay in bed! As nice as that sounds, my job would stop paying me if I stopped working (they are SO picky about stuff like that!!), and I would run out of things to eat and clean clothes to wear, and let's face it, it would get very boring!

But thinking about all the things I 'have' to do was overwhelming and depressing. In the spirit of trying to change my poor attitude, I decided to think about the benefits of the work instead of the work itself. And right away, everything turned into a 'want' to!

I do not HAVE to do my laundry. I WANT to have clean clothes to wear.
I do not HAVE to go to work every day. I WANT to earn a paycheck.
I do not HAVE to cook dinner. I WANT to save money and eat more healthily.
I do not HAVE to read my scriptures or say my prayers. I WANT a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father.
I do not HAVE to do the dishes. I WANT to have a clean house.
I do not HAVE to practice piano. I WANT to improve my talents.

Just a small change in my thinking has already made a huge difference!