Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Current Faves

Is anyone else (stupid question already) SO EXCITED that spring is (pretty-much-but-still-debatable-where-I-live) here?!?!  I've got my windows open - still no screens on them, ha - and we had our morning snack on the porch today and it was glorious.  I'm sure I would take it for granted if I lived in a warm climate, but I can't help but think how amazing it would be to never have to put on winter boots, scrape your windshield (with a CD case, in my experience) of ice and snow, to be able to walk outside in whatever you're wearing with no thought to the temperatures....

I may not experience that this side of heaven but it sure is nice to dream about :)

In honor of my fantastic mood I thought I would share some of my favorite things right now...

//Short Hair Don't Care//


After yesterday's hideous pictures of my skin situation I figured I would post one where I don't look so atrocious.  Anyway, my lob (long bob) as they call it is growing out and I'm actually really loving it.  It's so fun to do messy waves, spray in some Kenra 25 and go.  I'm torn if I'm going to go shorter now that it's gotten longer...especially because even though Brad never makes me feel badly about my choices, I know he prefers my hair long.  BUT after 10+ years of long hair and five years of marriage, I figure it's my prerogative.  Right???

//Entry Way//



This is our mostly-finished entry way and I love it.  Love it, love it!  I still want to put a few pillows on the bench to shorten the distance between the pictures/mirror and the bench, but other than that it's all done.
I think my favorite piece is the shelf that Brad built using the piping.  It's a trendy look that's popping up all over Pinterest and the blogs, and I'm not sure it will look quite so cool in a couple years....but for now I love it and think it looks so fitting in our slightly-modernized entry.

//Hadley Kate//

I am always lovin' this girl!  She's been so fun lately and is blowing me away with how dang smart she is.  Disclaimer, I have no idea if it's considered "on milestone" or not, it could be completely normal - but there's something about seeing your own child soaking in and retaining information that is just amazing.  But anyway, the girl knows all her colors and shapes, definitely knows her alphabet and we're working on counting to 20 (she's got 1-15 down solid).  She's in the cutest phase right now where if I do anything at all, like give her food/a drink, pick something up for her, wipe her bottom (ha), she'll go, "Thank ya, momma!" Tickles me every time.
It does not tickle me when I have to tell her forty-seven times to pick up a toy or come back here or don't ride your bike into the wall.  We're working on listening the first time and it's been a little tough on both of us...but I'm believing it will pay off in the end :)
And also...even though that hair gives me grief pretty much on a daily basis, I love it.




//Cookouts + Campfires//

Once springtime hits, Brad and I are total outdoor people.  We grill out as often as we can, and now that we have a big 'ol house, we're planning to have lots of people over for cookouts and campfires!  We're starting tonight by having a big group of family over for a cookout since Brad's brother is in town from North Dakota.  We're grilling up brats and burgers and I'm making a big batch of Texas Caviar, and everyone's bringing food and drinks....it's gonna be good!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Rosacea Sucks & An (UNPAID) Review of Rodan + Fields SOOTHE

So.  This is what my face suddenly looked like one day last month:



I've always had a naturally redder complexion, but this was way redder and bumpier than anything I had ever experienced.  Also, the bumps weren't like acne bumps, they were more like a rash.  I tried eliminating a few things from my diet, thinking it was maybe an allergy, but nothing helped.  I was SO puzzled and frustrated cause it literally happened overnight and I had no idea what to do about it.

I did some Googling and saw that Rodan + Fields carried a line called "SOOTHE" that is intended for people dealing with redness.  Taken from their website, it is "clinically proven to reduce redness and irritation in as little as five minutes."  Plus there's millions of reviews (c/o, I might add) online that say it worked SO well to reduce redness and irritation.

I bought some immediately.  And let me tell ya....this stuff ain't cheap.  But I figured it would be worth the cost to try something specially formulated for what I was dealing with.

The regimen for Rodan + Fields SOOTHE is to use the face wash followed by a Sensitive Skin Treatment, and then a Moisture Replenishing Cream.  And finally, in the morning you're supposed to follow up with Step 4, which is a sunscreen.  This is the whole line here:


The upside of using this product is that it didn't ever burn or irritate my skin further; it does seem to be very gentle.  It also made my skin softer and made it appear a little healthier in the places it wasn't so red (which was mostly my cheeks).

But - I tried it for three weeks and the bottom line is that it didn't work at all for me.  My skin was just as red and bumpy when I stopped using it as when I started using it.  So based on that, I'm not sure I would recommend it for others dealing with redness.

Since the Rodan + Fields didn't work, I was fortunate enough to be going home to Illinois, which is where my best friend lives.  The really great thing is that my best friend is a Physician's Assistant, so if I'm home and I need a diagnosis for something (like an ear infection for Hadley or whatnot) I can usually have her call in a prescription.  She looked at my face and immediately said that it was probably Rosacea.

Rosacea, in case you didn't know, is one giant pain in the butt.  It tends to appear in your 30's and there's no cure for it.  It also seems to be triggered by certain things, like alcohol, temp changes or the sun.  It tends to flare up at different times, as well.  I have no clue what triggered mine.

So, point of the story is that Steph (best friend) saved the day by calling in a prescription for Metronidazole 0.75%.


Literally with one day my skin was clearing up.  After using it for two weeks, I'm happy to report a HUGE difference.  Here's a little side-by-side:


I'll be honest, I'm a little worried because the Metronidazole (as with any rosacea medication) tends to lose effectiveness after a while, but the good news is that I'm really only using it every other day, once a day, and it's still working well, so I suppose I could just increase my usage if it flares up again.   Or try a different prescription...but since we don't have prescription coverage (self employed health insurance FTW!) I'm not sure how viable of an option that is, as these scripts all tend to be pretty pricey.

If anyone else has any great tips and tricks to help deal with rosacea, send them my way!!  

And I should add about the Rodan + Fields: I realize that my facial redness was probably due to something entirely different than what it claims to help.  But my opinion is that redness is redness, and it really didn't do anything at all to help with mine, even after reading different accounts online of people with rosacea using it successfully.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Going Home

Since we began renovating homes in the last year, I've been making quite a few more trips to Illinois to visit my family.  Mostly because the name of the game in house-flipping is "Get it done ASAP" and that typically means that Brad is working lots of long hours.  A work day for him usually is 7-7pm, Monday through Friday, plus a full day on Saturday.  If I'm being really honest, it's super stressful for me because Sunday ends up being the only day we really get to see him.  I guess the upside is when you sell the home and make a little money?  We're still working out how to make this whole flipping thing sustainable for the long-term.  I think finding a balance with Brad's hours is the biggest factor.

Sooo....all that's to say is that he works a lot so I survive it by taking trips to visit family.  Hadley and I stay with my dad and are able to visit with my aunts, uncles, cousins and my best friend, and it's really the best time.  I'll take Hadley to the mall to play at the play area, we'll go to some really amazing indoor playgrounds, go to parks and pools when it's nice, and just visit with my favorite folks.

The one downside for me is that it's a money trap!  When you live in a small town whose dining options are limited to McDonalds & Dairy Queen, bar food and a Tex Mex restaurant, it's amazing to get around sushi, Thai food, real Mexican...shoot, even Chilis is exciting.  And there's always the shopping - or really just Target :)

Anyway, I'm at home for a couple weeks and it's really great.  There's something about your own family that is so comforting.  I love my circle of friends and being near Brad's parents but being in your parent's home, in the town you grew up in, is something really special.
We don't have much planned on this visit except that I'm going to see Eric Church in concert next week.  That was a last-minute decision my cousin and I made and I gotta be honest, I'm so, so, SO excited.  He's one of my favorite musicians and I've heard that his Outsiders Tour is an amazing live show.  I'm really disappointed that I won't get to see him with Brad, but it'll be a fun time with my cousin.






Hope everyone is having a great Monday!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Musings

// sick days //

So our family spent the last week or so knocked out with the flu.  Or a really awful cold, not sure what it was.  At any rate, it hit Brad on a Thursday night and by Saturday afternoon all three of us were laid up on the couch.  Coughing, fever, chills, aches...Brad even had a stomach bug to his, poor guy.  I'm just thankful that Hadley really didn't seem to get too sick at all, she just had about a day and a half of being feverish/coughing.  And also need to say that there should be some law that moms aren't allowed to get sick, especially if the kids are sick.  There is nothing worse than feeling like you want to die....and then having to get up and tend to your fussy, (understandably) whiny 2 year old.

// essential oils //

Lately I've really gotten into the essential oil fad.  Just callin' it what it is :)  I definitely believe in their effectiveness and I love that I have an alternative to synthetic drugs/chemicals to treat things now.  I mean, I'm still gonna give Ibuprofen when Hadley's running a high fever - mama don't play with those fevers, sorrynotsorry - but when we were all sick I was using DoTerra Breathe and OnGuard (blends that respectively promote chest congestion relief and immune support), putting Lavender in Hadley's bath and diffuser, and wiping surfaces with Lemon and OnGuard.  I've also been using Melaleuca (aka Tea Tree Oil) for facial cleansing and putting Lavender on some red spots on my cheeks.
My next project is to make some essential oil-infused body butter (using Shea Butter and Coconut Oil) and lip balm.  I've discovered I love making all natural bath products - recently made Lavender Bath Melts and they were amazing!

// foodie //

I've always enjoyed cooking but lately I've been on a cooking rampage.  I don't know if it's cause we got rid of our microwave (I just don't like the radiation aspect...yes, where's my tin foil hat, ha) but in the last month I feel like I can't get enough of cooking new recipes with fresh ingredients.  This recipe for Pasta with Butternut Squash, Spicy Sausage and Spinach is a favorite.

// gratefulness // 

If I had to pick a negative word to describe myself, I could easily say "complainy."  I am just a complainer.  If it's too cold, I'm unhappy.  If I want something I can't have, I'm unhappy.  If a restaurant gives me the wrong food, I'm unhappy.  If someone says something I don't like, I'm defensive and...you guessed it...unhappy.
One of the ways I'm trying to get better about this is by finding things to be grateful for everyday.  Even if it's in small things like, the sun is out!  Or Hadley didn't ask to watch TV for an hour straight! I'm just trying to find the good in my simple little life.  Obviously I'm always so, so thankful for the big things - like our health and a roof over our heads and food, etc - but I'm learning that changing your attitude often means finding contentment in the little tiny things and turning them into big things, you know?
Like right now I'm drinking a Diet Coke after not having one for the last week or so - trying to cut back - and it's really, really making me happy.  And for that I'm thankful :)




Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Fave Daily Beauty Products

I thought today I would share the beauty products that I use on a daily basis.  I'm not a huge makeup user.  As I get older I've decided that less is definitely more when it comes to makeup.  Too much makeup and it just ages you, in my opinion.  So I have my 4-product routine that I love and think works really well for me.  (Side note, not long ago a very popular blogger did a post about her "daily makeup" and no lie, it was 13 products.  Thirteen! No thank you)

A few things about my favorite products - one, I pretty much only shop the drugstore/Target makeup.  Mostly cause I don't live anywhere near a Sephora or Ulta and I personally believe that you can get the same quality items at Walgreens/WalMart/CVS as you can the high-dollar stores.  Secondly, I use a beauty blender that I bought at WalMart and it makes all the difference in the application of the moisturizer.  I'm sure the original beauty blender is amazing....but my $5 one works pretty darn well, too!

So, jumping in!



Sonia Kashuk Radiant + Tinted Moisturizer 

This stuff is amazing for a tinted moisturizer.  I've used a couple different kinds - most BB creams - but when I tried this one I loved it immediately.  It has really great coverage for being a tinted moisturizer but feels really light on your skin.  It leaves a bit of a glow, which is a plus for me.  You also only need a teeny, tiny bit if you're using a beauty blender.

Revlon Highlighting Palette, Rose Glow

After applying the tinted moisturizer I use this stuff on the apples of my cheeks.  It basically gives a light rosy glow.  I use a fairly large blush brush to apply.  On its own it's so pretty but really light.  (I also can't wait to use this stuff once I have a tan!  Think it would be killer with some color)

Maybelline Fit Me Blush, Medium Pink

I follow up the Revlon blush with this Maybelline one.  The reason being is that it creates what I think to be a perfect imitation of Nars Orgasm blush.  Seriously!  It's kinda amazing.  I just put a tiny bit on my cheeks and boom, a $27 blush recreated for less than $10 (and you're getting two separate products.)  Try it and see!

L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara

I discovered this mascara last year and it is crazy good.  Mascara is one of those things that I do think spending a little bit extra can get you some amazing mascara (loooove Benefit They're Real! and Dior Show) but if you don't want to spend the extra cash, there's still some really great drugstore options.  This is one of them!  It separates the lashes, never clumps and lengthens them.  I'm sold on it.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment

So this is my one $$$$ item.  My sister gave me a tiny tube of it a couple years ago and I.loved.it and it lasted forevvvvver.  It's basically like a clear lip gloss but here's the deal with this stuff - it will make your lips so, so soft.  And being that I live in an arctic climate, I have dry and chapped lips pretty often.  I can put this stuff on twice in a day and the next day my lips feel great.  It spreads super well so you only need a teeny bit.  I can justify the price of it because it will seriously last forever, works well on chapped lips and also important, leaves a pretty shine.


And there you have it!  These are my staples....at least until summer and I get in a rut and decide to change it all up ;)



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema

I made the fish tacos I talked about yesterday and they turned out pretty dang good!  We typically do chicken tacos, which is honestly what I prefer.  But it's nice to switch things up every now and then, right?

I gotta brag on myself and say that I can make some pretty amazing tacos.  Sounds dumb, how can you make amazing tacos when they're just meat, shells and toppings?  But the kind of meat, shells and toppings you do are the keys to awesome tacos.  I used to buy whatever corn taco shells I could find, but now I only buy these:



La Tortilla Factory Green Chile tortillas.  They are uuuhh-mazing.  For Brad I will deep-fry the shells (bad, I know...but tastes.so.good) and warm them on a flat pan for myself.  They're worth spending the extra dollar.

And for toppings, I always do the standard lettuce/tomato/cheese, but when we do chicken tacos I'll serve up some cilantro and chopped jalapenos with it.  For the fish tacos I added some purple cabbage that had a lime squeezed on it.  Trust me, these little additions will make your tacos taste so fresh and like something you'd get at a taco stand!

So - my fish tacos.  I ended up using cod because it was the only wild-caught fish at the store.  It wasn't bad but it wasn't my favorite.  I marinated it for about 20 minutes in a little bit of lime juice, fresh garlic and cayenne pepper.


 I cooked it in the stove for 20 minutes at  425degrees.

Then I made the Avocado Crema, which I was super excited for.  It did not disappoint!  I tossed an avocado, sour cream, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and salt/pepper into my food processor and blended her all up...



I chopped up all my toppings....



And we were ready to eat.  I was pretty happy with how it all came together!  I had a guilt-free (for me) dinner and something that Brad (and Hadley!) really liked.



Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema
1 lb of white fish (any kind will do but preferably tilapia or mahi mahi)
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 Crushed garlic clove
Dash of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix together lime, garlic and cayenne in a shallow baking dish or large Ziploc bag.  Marinate fish for 20 minutes.  Transfer to baking pan and cook fish for 20 minutes or until it flakes apart.  When fish is done, flake it apart with forks.  

AVOCADO CREMA 
(Adapted from the Skinnytaste cookbook)
1 Hass Avocado
Handful of cilantro
1 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/4C sour cream
1 Garlic clove
1T lime juice (or just squeeze half a lime)
Salt
Pepper

Serve fish in soft tortilla shells with variety of toppings and enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2015

This and That

Hope everyone had a good weekend!  We had a pretty darn good one.  Mostly cause the weather here lately has been SO mild (thank you sweet baby Jesus) that we can actually get out and do things.  And even if you're not doing fun things outside, just being out and about is pretty enjoyable.  The last two winters up here have been absolutely, completely horrible, weather-wise.  So we're taking it!

Jumping in....I have about 40 pictures on my phone that look like this:


Yep, we're mattress shopping.  Or rather, I am mattress shopping.  Brad could sleep on a board and get a full night's rest, no joke.  

All I gotta say is that mattresses are expensive and I could wring the neck of the sales people that make you lay on the really nice, comfortable beds (which equal $$$$).  I was telling my best friend that I would have no problem buying a cheaper mattress if I hadn't laid on any of the goods ones.  But since I did, I've now been trying to finagle how I can get discounts on the one I want (which happens to be the one in the picture above.)  And this bargain online-shopper is having no luck.

So here's my daughter, sweetly painting a picture with her washable paints....


....the same washable paints that have left very faint stains on the carpet in her playroom.  I honestly have NO CLUE how she got into them.  But then on the other hand I can't for the life of me remember where I had put them!  So I'm guessing that was a mom fail and I put them somewhere she could access them.

She also left a drawing on her built-in drawers.  Thankfully it came up.  Still not sure what to do with the paint stains in the carpet.  I've tried Resolve and they ain't budging.


I took this picture today during our daily morning snuggles...


Funny story, the girl has been obsessed with rubbing her belly button since she was about a year old.  If she's drinking her milk in her sippy cup then she's rubbing her belly button.  If she's falling asleep, she's rubbing her belly button.  It must be a comfort mechanism.  I think it's the cutest darn thing (and when she wears her button down jammies - I feel bad putting her in zip-up jammies cause she can't reach it - we always leave a button undone so she can get to it, ha!)

And finally....


My constant companion in the kitchen.  I definitely cook more now than ever and this girl loves to help.  She was dying to play with the lemon/lime squeezer so I gave her a discarded lime and a baking sheet and she squeezed to her heart's content.

Speaking of cooking, I've been making some really great recipes lately that I'm hoping to share!  I'm thinking tonight's dinner will be fish tacos, which is good but kinda plain.  I've got some leftover avocados to use up so I think I'm going to make an avocado and jalapeno crema for them.  Sounds so good, doesn't it??  I'll let you know how it turns out!