Retail Therapy: Summer Hair Products

I usually avoid hair products like the plague because I don’t like the build-up on my hair, but summertime I make an exception because-

HUMIDITY.

Do I need to say more?

And these products are helping me tame my mane this summer.

(click the photo for the link)

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Most of the texturizing sprays I have used in the past are VERY oily and require extreme measures when trying to rinse them out of your hair, but this sea salt spray adds just enough body to style wavy or curly hair without being heavy; oh and it smells great.

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I LOVE this hair spray. It’s a light hold, but it lasts all day. And it does not feel like 1950’s helmet head hair spray.

It has flexible staying power.

I really should aspire to be more like it. Let’s call it hair spray with good character qualities.

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And my hairstylist suggested this to me on day 2 or 3 after I wash my hair, especially after working out.

She said, “Flip your hair over your head, and blow dry to eliminate any moisture (sweat). Then lightly spray the dry shampoo at the roots of your hair to wick up any oil and give body to limp hair. Style as usual.”

It’s working because even though I am working out 4 days a week, I still only have to wash my hair every 3-4 days.

And I still swear by this shampoo.It has totally transformed my hair (and my husband’s, but don’t tell him I put that on the internet).

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Home Improvement: The Before And After Front Porch Project

House 2012

This project initially started March 2013.

We knew the house was lacking in curb appeal, but it took us a while to figure out the face lift.

We could have paid mega $$$ to have professionals come in, but we like to use cash so we completed projects a few at a time.

This is what we have completed since March 2013.

Removed the front hedge

Painted the shutters and front door

Replaced front door hardware

Updated the exterior light fixture

Removed and trimmed back part of the side hedge

Removed the yellowing garage window panels

Added perennials and shrubs to the empty flower beds.

And just recently removed a large dead tree. 

Saturday 7Front Porch 2013

While we painted the front door and shutters and generally spruced up the front yard March 2013, we still had a big problem.

Our front porch made of decking material was sinking and was completely rotted through in some places (and had termites we found out later).

So we decided that spring 2014 we were going to tackle this area.

If you have followed this exciting project (sarcasm) you know we got quotes for composite decking, regular decking and then brick work.

The brick work came through as the winner.

So Joe and the kids demoed the old porch and got it ready for the masons to come in and do their thing.

Front Porch 2014

So once the deck and shrubbery were gone we were ready for the brick masons.

Mason Work

Thankfully the new brick was a perfect match to the existing brick on our foundation.

And the masons did a great job. Quick, on time and on budget.

Once the final concrete was poured, Joe started making the (non-weight bearing) posts.

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We choose to build the posts because we really wanted a fat post with detail, and Home Depot was lacking in the nice looking post department.

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Once Joe installed the main pieces of the post he added all the trim detail, caulked, and painted.

I added two palms for $10 each planted in two large baskets from Ikea for $30, three pillows from a local textile outlet $5 each, and a $5 wood bench from the Picken’s Flea Market.

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Joe still has to reposition the awkward gutter set-up.

And once the weather cools off again we will be doing some more work on the flower beds, but wow have we come along way.

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The before and after is pretty amazing.

Before During After

Monday Randomness: The Truth About Our Juice Fast (we ate BBQ)

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So today was(supposed to be) the last day of our juice fast.

After the first 36 hours, I took another expensive trip to the grocery store for more produce.

And during that trip, I almost passed out while pushing my buggy around the aisles.

At that point I decided that juice fasting may not be for me.

So I caved and had some salmon and kale for dinner.

And then the next day I had some delicious blueberry peach cobbler that someone in our church group made.

And then the day after that I had a Chickfila sandwich….and Icedream.

And then I had a burrito bowl on Wednesday for lunch.

And Friday I had BBQ for lunch with my sister and niece.

But I did drink juice.

Mostly for breakfast and/or lunch.

And I never passed out, and I even lost 3 lbs (probably water weight, but who’s counting).

But I will say that I have no idea how my husband juice fasted for 60 days.

I have a much greater respect for his discipline (and lack of passing out).

Happy Monday!

PS. My favorite juicing combo is 3 sweet potatoes, 2 nectarines, and 1/2 a bag of spinach.

Recipe Review: The Only Creamed Spinach Recipe You Need

I have always been a huge fan of creamed spinach.

I will also admit that my first experience tasting it was at a Boston Market.

…but the last time I ate it was at a Ruth’s Chris which keeps my foodie image intact.

I have experimented with 5+ recipes with sad results.

But I came across this recipe from Huffington Post last week, so I decided to give it one more try.

My verdict is that it’s perfection. So simple and tasty! And just dying to be included in your next steak dinner…

Or chicken dinner, or whatever floats your boat.

But I adapted a few things for ease.

Enjoy!

Simple Creamed Spinach

Simple Creamed Spinach

adapted from The Only Creamed Spinach Recipe You’ll Ever Need

serves 4

  • 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • dash of salt

Once the spinach is defrosted, squeeze out the excess water from the leaves. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet (I used a cast iron skillet). Add the garlic and onion, and cook until just soft. Add in the flour, stirring it together to form a paste. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened. Stir in the parmesan, spinach, pepper and salt.

Once the spinach is heated through, serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. This recipe can be made 1 day in advance. Reheat uncovered for 30 minutes at 325°F.

Click here for the printable recipe.

 

Monday Randomness: Juice Fasting and I Might Punch Someone in the Face

So yes.

We are juice fasting for 10 days.

And I don’t think I will punch anyone.

But don’t cross me.

Apparently I like food too much, especially sugar and bread.

And not having it causes me to want to harm anyone that annoys me.

Annoying me could simply involve breathing too loud while being in the same room with me.

So yes, my husband’s life could be in danger.

But since the rest of you are eating like normal sane people I though I would post a few recipes I have tried out in the last couple weeks.

(click on the photo for the full recipe)

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Roasted Corn Salad

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Original Recipe: Thai Chicken Salad

 

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This is the kind of lunch I would like some one to serve to me while I am at the pool.

Cool, light, refreshing, savory, sweet and so tasty.

Thai Chicken Salad

Serves 2-3

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 package broccoli slaw mix
  • 1/3 cup peanut vinaigrette (or Asian sesame dressing)
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Place chicken breast in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with s/p. Bake for 40 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool, chop into bit size pieces.

Place broccoli slaw mix in a large serving bowl, add the chicken and all the remaining ingredients except for the seeds. Then toss, cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

When ready to serve, garnish with the seeds. Enjoy!

*This recipe keeps up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

 

Click here for the printable version of the recipe.

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Recipe Review: Blueberry Almond Crisp From Bon Appetit

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Blueberries are definitely my favorite food. I eat them like candy.

So I am always trying to incorporate them into recipes.

And this blueberry crisp I tried out recently is just so good I had to share it.

Go here for the super simple recipe. I reduced the amount of sugar and ate it for breakfast. YUM.

 

Retail Therapy: Wedges, Maxis, and Earrings

While I have not been doing much shopping in the last few months, I have purchased a few things to get me through the summer.

I found this dress online through Target and I can’t get over how cute it is.

Mossimo® Women’s Strapless Maxi – Black/White Stripe

It definitely runs large so size down, and if you are short like me you will have to hem it.

I also love this dress which I also should have purchased but didn’t.

Merona® Women’s Knit Striped Henley Dress

Dangle Earrings – Gold/Coral $7.99

Earrings Cluster Drop – Gold/Blue $7.99

I bought both of these pairs of earrings. They dress up any sun dress, and I love the color combos.

FACTORY 7″ CHINO SHORT $21.00

I kept reading about these JCrew chino shorts online, but didn’t believe the hype. Well that and the fact that I have not purchased shorts since 2007.

But I took the plunge and tried them out in the 7″ inseam. I LOVE them. And they actually fit. I went up a size so that they would be a little roomy.

Tight shorts + thunder thighs = not a good look

Right now they have all the colors in all the inseams in stock on the JCrew Factory Outlet site. Totally worth $21!

And last but not least I purchased these fun wedge sandals that should also be a good transition shoe into the Fall.

Minnetonka Ashley

Have a happy 4th of July!

 

 

Monday Randomness: Nothing Exciting Happened

Hello, I can’t say I am glad it’s Monday, but I am glad that we survived the weekend without any major home catastrophes (see last week’s post).

And just to inform you of how traumatic our plumbing problem was I dreamed that we woke up Thursday morning and it was all clogged again. And then Joe and I just cried. And then I woke up and was so happy to hear my dishwasher still working.

I may never recover from the trauma.

I am happy to report that I am really enjoying my Saturday morning pool time, probably more that I should.

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But most Saturday mornings, it’s quiet and calm.

On Thursday, I ran by Lowes on my way home from work and scored two patio trees at 70% off. I am hoping these will survive the heat because my last one got fried.

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On Friday I made a big batch of slow cooker Honey Sesame Chicken and this new-to-me rice recipe (I used less butter and replaced the beef stock with chicken stock).

It was tasty!

Saturday, I woke up with a migraine that didn’t go away until sometime late on Sunday afternoon.
Oh and randomly a tree guy stopped by our house in the afternoon and offered to take down the dead tree in our backyard. We agreed because every time we have a bad storm we are sure its going to fall on our house.
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So that’s one less house project that we have to do.
I will be impressed if anyone actually read this far down in this incredibly riveting post.
Happy Monday!

Original Recipe: The Best Baked Spaghetti

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I made this simple dish for my husband’s out of town family while they were here for my stepson’s graduation.

And my father-in-law made me promise that I would post the recipe.

So Will, this post is all for you (and Marsha).

It’s actually a recipe that my mom has made for years, but with my own tweaks.

This dish can definitely be frozen for up to a month. I like to make one batch divided in two smaller baking dishes so I can freeze one for a busy weeknight.

I think it tastes best if you make it a day in advance and then bake it right before you plan to serve it.

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The Best Baked Spaghetti

serves 8

  • 1 lb whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • ½ lb Italian pork sausage (removed from the casing)
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 jar marinara
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the sausage, drain and then set aside. Add the ground beef, brown and then drain. Add the marinara to the Dutch oven along with the pork and beef. Set the stove-top to low and allow the sauce to simmer.

In a mixing bowl combine the cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, garlic, egg, Italian seasoning and s/p. Set aside.

In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil. Follow the directions for cooking the pasta. Drain and had half of the pasta to the baking dish. Layer half of the cottage cheese mixture and half of the sauce over the pasta (similar to lasagna). Add the remaining pasta, and repeat the layering. Top with 1/2 cup of cheese.

At this point you can cover the dish and freeze for later or bake it for 30-45 min at 350° or until bubbly.

Click here for the printable version of the recipe.