Thursday Tip- Waze Mobile App

There is nothing quite like cruising along the highway, then suddenly finding yourself in the midst of a raging traffic jam.  How long will I be stuck here?  What’s causing this mess?  Is there an alternate route that would get me to my destination faster?

Waze can answer all of these questions.

Waze is an ingenious app that offers real-time traffic data, allows users to report incidents, offers turn-by-turn GPS directions, and will re-route you if it finds a faster way to get you to your destination.  It also warns you of hazards like if there’s a car on the shoulder or bad weather ahead.

Mind = blown.

I used this app for my big trip to Atlanta last weekend.  We hit some traffic in South Carolina and I pulled the Waze app up on my phone.  It took me off the highway for a few minutes and had me merge back on the highway a few miles down the road, past where the traffic jam was.  I utilized it again when we reached the outskirts of Atlanta and its nightmarish rush hour traffic. Every minute saved when you have a ticking time bomb in the back seat is priceless.

I highly recommend downloading the app to your phone and trying it out!

Thursday Tip- Brie Cheese Appetizer

So, here’s my thing.  I like having people over, but I don’t want to be running around finishing up appetizers as people are arriving or fussing over a complicated meal (which unfortunately has happened before).  I want to enjoy my guests.  So I try to stick for uncomplicated, quick, easy, but also delicious recipes for having people over.

I discovered this recipe after having it at a friend’s house.  If I’d just seen it online, I probably would have passed it over because it sounds like a weird combination, but it’s actually delicious (probably could have eaten the whole thing myself, but I refrained because I have manners).  After a little digging, I found a recipe here.

Brie Cheese Appetizer

Ingredients

1 wheel brie cheese (about 18 oz)
3 tablespoons apricot preserves (you can also try other flavors like raspberry)
1 container of Pillsbury crescent rolls (I think the recipe I found calls for puff pastry, but crescent rolls work for me)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a cookie sheet

Do not separate, but spread the crescent rolls out on the cookie sheet flat.

Slice the cheese in half so that you have 2 separate layers of cheese.  Spread preserves on one half of the cheese then put the other layer on top (like a sandwich).  Place the layers of cheese and preserves in the middle of the crescent roll dough and wrap the dough so that it completely covers the cheese.  Flip so that the “seam” of the dough is on the bottom.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.

Serve with crackers.

 

Thursday Tip- Tips for Glowy, Healthy Skin

So, the other day my friend, Rachel, and I were discussing our daily skin and makeup routines.  I was super flattered when she complimented my skin, because I’ve made some changes in the past few years and was glad someone else noticed!

I’m going to share my healthy, glowy skin tips with a disclaimer:  Everyone’s skin is different, so these tips won’t work for everyone.  I have combination, sensitive skin.  I can get super oily in the summer, super dry in the winter, and harsh products can really irritate my skin.   Your skin may not be exactly like mine, but hopefully you’ll find something that helps you in at least one of these tips!

1. Keep your skin care routine simple

I’ve tried various skin care products that promise to make my skin flawless.  What I’ve learned is that all the nasty, chemically stuff you put on your face is only going to make things worse.  If it fixes one problem, it’s probably going to cause another.  After testing about a zillion different products, I decided to go back to basics.  I use a gentle, natural soap that I bought at our local Farm Market (I call it my hippie soap).  I wash my face once a day (in the evening) and I use oil free lotion in the morning and at night.  That’s it.

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2. Tinted moisturizer is the best thing ever

I have to give Rachel credit for this one.  She taught me this trick a few years ago.  When you’re applying your usual moisturizer in the morning, blend in a dab or 2 of tinted moisturizer.  I absolutely ADORE this trick.  It evens out my skin tone and works as my substitute for foundation, which saves me a step and leaves my skin looking fresh and natural instead of matte and overworked.  I like Aveeno Positively Radiant because it’s oil free and has SPF in it.

IMG_14613. Mineral powder is the second best thing ever

Similar to the tinted moisturizer, I turn to mineral powder to give me a natural, glowy look, rather than made-up.   I like Physicians Formula, which made me look fresh, even at an outdoor wedding in July.

942710_10151580872831630_181589613_n4. Eat right for health inside and out

I honestly believe the first step to healthy skin is to take care of it from the inside out.  Hydrate!  Drink plenty of water, which is a highly underrated health and beauty tool.  Also, eat plenty of fruits and veggies.  Thanks to my mom, I now have a juicer which allows me to cram a ton of fruits and veggies into my diet in a way that’s both tasty and allows my body to process everything efficiently.  Anything green is great for your skin (think spinach or kale), cucumber is great for inflammation, and I turn to carrots and apples for a good base that will sweeten it up.  It may look questionable, but it’s actually delicious.

IMG_14535. Switch from dairy milk

I kid you not, this is by far the greatest thing I’ve done for my skin.  About 2 years ago, I started getting really bad breakouts.  Like, worse than I’d ever had in my teen years.  It was embarrassing and frustrating having such awful skin in my late 20’s and not know how to get it under control.  In a moment of desperation, I tried Proactiv, but all that did was dry out my skin and make the breakouts worse (see #1).  After a bit of research, I learned that studies that had shown that hormones in dairy milk (even organic milk) were shown to cause breakouts.  I realized that I’d drastically increased my milk intake around the time that my breakouts had started, so although I was skeptical, I decided to give up dairy milk.  My skin almost instantly cleared up and has been nearly flawless since.  The great thing is that there are a ton of tasty (and healthy!) alternatives. Soy, almond, and rice milk- just try them and see what works for you.

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Here I am, proudly rocking the no makeup look.

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Thursday Tip- Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

Happy football season!  This is one of my Pinterest faves (original recipe here).  It’s perfect for having people over to watch a game since it doesn’t require a ton of work (especially after I cut out a few steps… I’m lazy like that).

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
(Serves 4-6 people)

3.5lbs of beef chuck roast

I.5 cans (16 oz) beef broth

1 can (10.5 oz) french onion soup

6 oz red wine

1 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

6 french rolls

6 (or more) slices of provolone cheese

Trim excess fat off of beef roast and season meat with salt and pepper.

Pour beef broth, soup, red wine and garlic powder into slow cooker with beef roast.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Slice or shred beef

Lightly toast the bread.  The easiest way to toast the buns is to set your oven to broil, spread the buns out on a baking sheet, and broil for a few minutes.  Seriously, only 2-3 minutes, though.  They toast FAST.  I nearly burned down my kitchen toasting buns one time.

Serve beef on rolls with cheese and spoon beef juice into individual bowls so each person has their own dip.

If you’re serving it to a group, you can just do chips or something easy like that as a side, but when I make it for JD, I like to make homemade sweet potato fries.  To do those, just preheat your oven to 425 and cut an uncooked sweet potato into individual fries, then  place in a lidded container with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (another thing about me- I generally just eyeball things when I cook instead of measuring things out exactly) and seasoning of your choice, to taste (I like McCormick’s Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning).  Shake the container (make sure the lid is sealed tightly!) to coat the fries in the olive oil and seasoning.  Spread out on a baking pan and bake for at least 20 minutes, flipping once (cooking time will vary based on the size of fries you cut).

P.S.  The original plan was to have pictures of this recipe by the time I posted it.  Obviously, that didn’t happen.  I did my shopping at Target instead of my usual grocery store, so the selection was limited and our meal plan for the week changed.  Anyway, it looks like beef on a bun with melted cheese, if that helps 🙂

Thursday Tip- Maternity Tanks from Target

This time last year, my belly was really starting to pop out, and I was investing in maternity clothes to fit my ever-changing body.  Here I am at 20 weeks, right after we found out we were having a girl.

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These tank tops from Target were by far the greatest investment of my pregnancy. They lasted from the beginning of my pregnancy through my third trimester and beyond. Confession: I actually still wear these tanks. The material is durable and stretchy, so I can wear them to yoga even today because they haven’t lost their shape. Since they’re maternity tanks, they’re nice and long (plus the ruching is flattering), so they’ll keep my belly covered during a yoga session, which has always been a problem for me because of my long torso and larger chest (now even larger, post-pregnancy).

Here I am early in my third trimester and the tank is still going strong.

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Pregnant or not, I recommend these tanks for workouts or to wear under sweaters and stuff. They’re the best!

Thursday Tip- Timi and Leslie Diaper Bag

Of all the baby products we registered for, bought, and were given, the diaper bag is what turned out to be the greatest dilemma.  We originally registered for this Eddie Bauer bag.  I thought we were being smart by getting this bag because it wasn’t too feminine so JD would be okay carrying it on days he had L.  It didn’t take long for me to be frustrated with this bag on multiple levels. First, I was disappointed in the quality because we’d only had it a few months before a few tears appearing in the lining.  It’s not like we toss it around or mistreat it; with a brand name like Eddie Bauer, you expect better quality.  Also, I didn’t like that the bottle pockets were on the outside, but that’s personal preference, and not really my main point.

My main issue was I found it really annoying that I had to take the diaper bag AND my purse whenever I went somewhere with the baby.  The diaper bag was stuffed full, so there was no way I could fit my stuff in there with the baby’s stuff.  Plus, there weren’t a lot of pockets on the inside, so stuff would just be in there haphazardly, making it difficult to find.

I turned to my friend (and experienced mama), Jen, for advice, and she really came through.  She recommended something from Timi and Leslie, who make gorgeous diaper bags that don’t really look like diaper bags.  I was immediately in lust; the bags were so pretty, I forgot I was shopping for a diaper bag.  I settled on the Annette in pewter and we had our solution.  The Eddie Bauer bag would be on-hand for JD days on baby duty and drop offs at the babysitter’s house, but I would keep the Timi and Leslie bag more lightly packed for evenings and weekends, so I could throw L’s stuff and my stuff in one bag.  And if you’re wondering if it’s annoying to have 2 separate bags?  No, because I keep each bag packed and ready to go, but again, that’s personal preference.

Not only does the bag work for all our stuff (plenty of pockets inside and out!) but it comes with a TON of accessories.  The changing pad is nice because it folds neatly shut and is secured with Velcro, plus it has a mesh pocket to keep a small pack of wipes and a diaper or two handy.  The bag comes with a long strap to carry it as a shoulder bag, or you can use the smaller straps as a hand bag, OR you can use stroller straps to strap it to the back of your stroller.  There’s also an insulated bottle carrier (with it’s own strap to keep handy on a stroller handle), a key clip at the top of the bag so your keys don’t sink to the bottom and get lost AND my favorite part- a mini purse for mom.  When we went on vacation, I just brought this bag to carry our stuff throughout the week, and then when JD and I had a date night, I just pulled the mini-purse out for me.

 

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Disclaimer: I originally had the thought that I might have JD take cute pictures of me with the mimi mom bag, but then I decided the mom purse doesn’t go with yoga pants.
And since I’ve generally changed into yoga pants 60 seconds after walking in the door from work, I resorted to lame picture of diaper bag accessories on bed.  You’re welcome.

Thursday Tip- Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

So, I decided that I’d like to use each Thursday to post something I recommend, whether it be a recipe, baby product, or mommy product.

For my first Thursday Tip, I’d like to share an awesome recipe for vegetarian chili, made in the slow cooker.  With football season right around the corner, this is the perfect time to start thinking about some chili!!

Side note: I should probably take a moment to share that I’m actually a vegetarian (aka hippie, as JD likes to call me).  Not all recipes I post will be vegetarian (while I was pregnant with L, I craved meat like it was the only acceptable food for baby-growing), but this one just happens to be.

Reasons why I adore this recipe:

  1. It’s hippie-friendly, but even my hard-core carnivore hubby loves it
  2. It requires minimal effort (I really don’t like cooking)
  3. It’s cheap, but makes a lot
  4. It’s healthy
  5. It’s perfect for a cool fall or winter day
  6. It’s easy to alter and make your own; the way we make it is slightly different than the original recipe

INGREDIENTS

1 can black bean soup (19oz)
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz)
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz)
1 can vegetarian baked beans (16oz)
1 can chopped tomatoes in puree (14.5 oz)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained (15 oz)
1 can green beans, drained (15oz)
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil

INSTRUCTIONS

Throw everything into the slow cooker and cook for at least 2 hours on high (although we usually cook ours for 4 hours or so).

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Serve however you like your chili.  JD likes his over rice, sometimes I’ll put crushed tortilla chips in mine, and there’s always, ALWAYS cheese involved.

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Since we’re really only cooking for the 2 of us (L doesn’t count yet), we always have plenty of leftovers, so I’ll put enough in the fridge to have leftovers the next day and freeze the rest for a rainy day.

Enjoy!