March 23, 2015

monday musings | 115


>> I decided to start numbering these Monday posts and when I went back to see how many I'd done, I was pretty amazed that this is number 115. That is a whole lot of random coming at you on Mondays.

>> On the first day of Spring, we got 6 inches of snow in New Haven. Like legit cover the ground, cars sliding off roads snow. And Saturday morning, we woke up to more snow. Luckily, it's melting really fast but it's not warming up much at all. For someone who enjoys the seasons, I'm just ready for Spring. If it doesn't get here fast we'll just skip it all together and go right to summer.

>> After watching come of Amelia's videos, I was intrigued by this new-to-me line called Kiko. I had never been into the store and didn't know anything about the brand so I was excited to pop into the new one in New Haven. I picked up a cream highlight/blush stick, an eyebrow kit, and a liquid lipgloss (um $1.90!!). I really like the products and love that the whole line is so affordable. I'll report back on how I get on with the products.

>> I'm REALLY trying to use up a whole bunch of products and I'm collecting a whole bag of things to go through in a post. Knowing that I need to have a bunch of stuff to write about is definitely motivating me to use stuff up.

>> I made this salad two times in a row for dinner guests and it was a HUGE hit. Even with the guy who strictly eats meat and potatoes. Getting him to eat kale and have a second serving feels like a pretty big win.

>> I've really been loving the FitStar Yoga app. For whatever reason, once I get home from work, it's really hard to get the motivation to leave the house again. Being able to do yoga at home and actually get a decent workout is awesome. I like the variety of sessions and that you can customize it based on your level.

March 17, 2015

the easiest meal plan: food for the week with one slow cooker recipe

I'm currently head over heels in love with this new-to-me blog Hello Natural. I think I've pinned every single post since I discovered it. Last Sunday when I sat down to do our meal planning for the week, I pulled up this post for some inspiration. We have been really loving the slow cooker (except for a few recipe duds) and I especially love using it on Sundays. 

Meal Plan Outline: Pulled Pork
This base of these meals is the pulled pork that you'll make on Sunday and let cook all day. I knew that most of my other recipes were going to have "mexican/bbq/savory" flavors so I chose a "spicier" blend. Here's the basic recipe that I used. 
  • 2 - 2.5lbs pork shoulder (When I bought it, it weighed over 4lbs. By the time I had trimmed it, it was more like 3lbs. Additionally, you could also use pork butt. I think our pork shoulder cost somewhere around $15 so that's a great deal for so much meat. You could also use chicken here - thighs or breasts just use bone-in ones for more flavor.)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup beer (Could also use wine or broth)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • lots of salt and pepper
Directions: 
Pat pork dry and rub spices, salt, and pepper all over. Heat some oil (I used grapeseed) in a large pan and sear the pork on all sides. Add onions and garlic to the slow cooker. Transfer meat to slow cooker. Pour beer in bottom. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours until meat is fork tender. Remove and shred. Place in an airtight container. Will keep for 5-6 days. 


Recipes
Naturally, since it was a busy week, I have exactly zero pictures of how these turned out but take my word for it, I wouldn't post about something that wasn't delicious! 

#1 Sunday Night
I kept it simple and just drenched the pork in our favorite BBQ sauce (you can get it at Whole Foods) and served on toasted rolls with roasted kale sprouts. It was delicious. 

#2 Lettuce Wraps
It may seem weird to use pork in lettuce wraps but this totally worked and it was delicious. Used this recipe as inspiration.

Tzatziki Sauce
  • 1/4 cup finely diced cucumbers (try to use the seedless ones)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • lots of salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Warm pork slightly on the stove in a bit of oil (or bacon fat!). Arrange romaine lettuce leaves on a plate and add some sliced cucumbers. Fill each lettuce cup with pork and top with sauce. Devour! 

#3 Carnitas Tamale Pie
I can't take any credit for this one because I followed this recipe to a tee. The only difference is that I put the enchilada sauce on top of the pork since my pork was a little dry from being cooked in advance. This turned out AMAZING and I'll definitely make it again. To make gluten-free, just sub AP flour for whatever GF blend you like. This also re-heated really well which meant it served as lunch or dinner for a couple days. 

#4 Thai Peanut Stir-Fry with Cauliflower Rice
This recipe came together totally by chance. I invented this on Saturday night realizing that we had a little more pork to use up and some other random ingredients in the fridge. As I was serving it, I told C that if it was horrible, we'd just order pizza. To both our surprises, it turned out great! We'll definitely make this again. C actually completely forgot it wasn't rice. This is a great low-carb meal option.

Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups leftover pulled pork
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 cups tuscan kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
That Peanut Sauce
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp red chili paste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
Directions: 
  1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat. Whisk until everything is incorporated and sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and set aside. 
  2. Place cauliflower florets in the food processor and pulse until it looks like rice. Melt coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add kale and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat and let cook for 2 minutes. Add cauliflower rice and garlic. Stir to combine. Let cook for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally. 
  3. Add pork to a separate pan. Pour some of the peanut sauce over pork and heat through. 
  4. To serve, portion cauliflower kale mixture into bowls. Top with pork and a little more sauce. For crunch add shredded cabbage and/or chopped peanuts.

March 16, 2015

monday musings.


>> I kind of love that is rained all day Saturday. Something about it felt so cleansing! The streets, sidewalks, cars...and everything are just so dirty and I felt like the rain was washing some of that away.

>> I've been desperately trying to track down this magic product since I read a post about it here. I'm so curious to try it and I'm even more interested in the eye liner/lash serum thing it comes with as well. I went to two different targets yesterday with no luck. Have you heard of it?

>> My cousin, Holly, sent me some sample of doTerra essential oils after we had long conversation about how they've changed her life. They just arrived and I'm so excited to start using them. I'd heard so many great things and I think they will be an awesome addition to my life. If only so that I can at least try this trick. Also, they came at just the right time because I had an allergic reaction to a face mask I made last night (I think it was the cinnamon) and the lavender oil was just the thing to soothe my scorched face.

>> I made my own face wash last week and I'm SO loving it. I'm planning to do a full post soon on my current skincare routine as well as the natural products I've been loving but so far this face wash is a definite winner. Also, did you know that Trader Joe's is now selling manuka honey? Day. made.

>> I've been trying to clean house and use up a bunch of products before buying new ones (so hard for me). I've been storing the "empties" in hopes of doing a full post on the products I've finished. Would that be interesting to any of you?

>> It was a fun surprise when this book that I had pre-ordered so many months ago arrived on my desk. I love everything she writes and I'm enjoying the daily devotional style of this book. One thing though, I can't figure out if the writing is original? Some of the excerpts that I've read sound really familiar, like I've read then in her other books...


>> Mini Cadbury eggs. Enough said.

March 12, 2015

review // influenster Xo VoxBox

Awhile back I signed up for this site, Influenster, where you have the opportunity to participate in different campaigns and try out products for reviews, thereby influencing your community. The more influential you are, the more things you get to try and review. 


SkinFix Hand Repair Cream
I've seen this new brand at my local Target and thought the packaging was catchy. I have SO many hand creams because I cannot stand the dry feeling you're left with after washing your hands. I thought this one was fine, sinks in easily, but definitely wasn't anything special. It's a bit expensive for what it is. I just think there''s a lot of better options out there.

John Frieda Frizz Ease Smooth Operator
I haven't tested out the shampoo, conditioner, or frizz primer mostly because I like saving stuff like this for travel when the small sized packages are key. I'm also trying to limit the amount of chemical laden products I use so I may just keep these in my samples bucket for guests. In my experience, stuff from the John Frieda line has been decent.

Tide Pods
These 4 in 1 pods have such a strong smell. I picked one up out of the bag and now the scent is all over my hands. They claim to have 4 different uses: detergent, stain remover, brightener, freshness.In general, I do like and use pod-based laundry products and currently use the Honest Company pods that have the same 4-in-1 benefits. C has really sensitive skin so we can't use detergents with dyes or fragrances. I'll probably donate these to the communal laundry dungeon in our basement that all the tenants use.

Colgate Express White Toothpaste and Optic White Toothbrush
Ok so I totally saw and add for this toothbrush and was super curious. I haven't used it yet but I'm really curious if it's all just a gimmick of if it really works. I'm planning to use it soon with the toothpaste so maybe I'll take some before and after pictures to see if I can really get glowing white teeth. Also, I probably sound like a hypocrite because so many chemicals in this stuff but I'm trying, one step at a time.

There were also two other things included in this box: a coupon for AdoreMe (lingerie subscription) and a Lands' End coupon. I don't plan on using either one. The Land's End one was actually a nice surprise until I realized you had to spend over $100. No thanks.

Interested in signing up to be an Influenster? Click here and get ready for free stuff!

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

March 9, 2015

monday musings.


>> Hi. How is it March? And Daylight Savings? It's been a crazy past few weeks and I have a bunch to catch you up on. We're having a "heat wave" here in CT and it was a balmy 45 degrees yesterday. Melt snow, melt!

>> We just got back from our little spring break trip to Turks and Caicos. We spent a week at the stunning Parrot Cay by COMO which is situated on a little private island. It was such an amazing week and I feel very fortunate that we were able to take this little hiatus. Full blog post on that to come. 

>> Before we left, when it was still February, we celebrated my 27th birthday in a variety of ways including dinner at Caseus with my mom, an Oscar watching party on Sunday, and my college bff came to spend the night on Monday. It was all such a treat and the perfect way to spent a birthday, lots of little, special moments with people I really love. 

>> Lizzie and I watched The Last Five Years while she was here and concluded that it was not very good. I love anything Anna Kendrick but this just didn't work for me. I like musicals too but they literally did not speak once in the film. I also saw Wild on the plane and was not blown away by that either. Again, Reese is my girl and I really liked the book but the movie fell short for me. Last night, we watched The Theory of Everything and while I thought Eddie Redmayne was amazing, the content of the movie did not suck me in. So basically three movie flops for me... Have you seen any of these? What did you think??

>> I received my first Petit Vour box and was kind of disappointed. It's a "green beauty" sample subscription and they partner with a lot of brands I already know and love which is what excited me. But this box had TWO rose scented perfumes which were horrible. I did however like the full size mascara. We'll see what this box has to offer. 

>> I think I struck foundation gold with the Clinque Even Better foundation (I have shade Alabaster). It's a great color match, awesome coverage, but super lightweight. I'm still working on ironing out a full skincare and makeup routine for my beauty page but you can bet this will be included. 

>> We took this sunscreen along with us to the beach and it was AMAZING. The oil-based formula is not greasy at all and you don't feel like you have to dry after application. It was so hydrating for the skin which is a big plus after a day in the sun. It honestly feels amazing and is well worth the money.

>> Dani very kindly sent me one of these wraps just before our trip and I was super pumped to give it a try. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do it until Saturday afternoon and ideally you'd do it 3-4 days before your trip so that you have plenty of time to hydrate. Full disclosure: I didn't have as dramatic of results as I was hoping but I sort of knew this was going to be the case since I wasn't able to drink as much water over 72 hours. I'm definitely planning to try it again.

So tell me, what movies are you watching? Any fun trips to warmer climates for anyone? 
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