Friday, January 30, 2015

Superbowl - Buffalo Dip

This gooey, cheesey, delicious  dip is what I always bring  to Superbowl parties as it's always a crowd pleaser! In the past I've used Morning Star Farms chik'n strips or Quorn chik'n cutlets but neither brand makes those anymore, so I've listed some alternatives below. Whatever imitation meat you pick up, just make sure it's not breaded. However it's not really necessary to the recipe, just gives the dish some more protein. Trust me you'll want to try this unique, melted, spicy delicious dip! You can double the recipe for more.

  • 1 package of vegetarian chick'n strips (either Lightlife Smart Strips Chick'n style or Morning Star Grillers Chik'n Veggie patties cut into strips) 
  • 8oz packages of reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat ranch salad dressing
  • 1/3 cup Frank's hot sauce
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 1 celery stalk
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1 tomato


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Heat olive oil in large skillet. Stir in celery; cook until soft. Mix in the cream cheese, blue cheese dressing, and ranch dressing. Cook and stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in the shredded chicken and hot sauce. Spoon mixture into an 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
  • Bake in preheated oven until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
  • Top with diced tomato and cilantro.

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    Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    How to stop makeup FLASHBACK

    Has this ever happened to you? Makeup that didn't photograph well showcasing obvious under eye concealer. Well it's happened to me and looks like I'm in good company, looking I put my makeup on in the dark. lol 
    This phenomenon is called a "flashback" and it happens when light  flashes back off of your face making your face look lighter than you body because of reflective formulas in your makeup. Your  makeup looks perfect in natural lighting so you're horrified to see how you look once the flash hit you. The two photos below were taken the same day, makeup was not refreshed because I have an aversion to doing so and always make sure to set it right the first time around, hence I tend to have a heavy hand applying makeup. I can go to work with my whole face done in the morning and still look exactly the same for happy hour. I will only drink out of straws during the day to not mess up my lipstick. lol I know the the lipstick looks different in the pics but I always wear the same shade and had not eaten prior to these pics and actually stopped carrying my lipstick in my purse because I never remember to reapply so I thought why do I keep carrying it out? lol So I don't know how the different in the pics other than lighting.
    I'm addicted to watching makeup how to videos on youtube and it seems like everyone is wearing false lashes which I think look fabulous on the right person. I used to wear lashes for special occasions like NYE but I guess I stopped because my natural lashes are pretty long and with the advent of women wearing lashes daily I feel its cheapened the look of special occasion lashes. I absolutely love the way KimK's lashes look so I thought I'd give it another try. I bought some human hair eyes lashes for $12 (one pair), don't judge but hey I wanted the best on the market! lol I feel false lashes look best with full face makeup so I started wearing under eye concealer which is not really my thing because I feel right now I'm lucky enough not to have an under eye problem. But I thought I'd use it to get a more uniform look. In the daylight it looked just fine but with flash, holy moly look at the half white moon affect under my eyes!

    The ingredient to look out for is your concealer/foundation/powder is titanium dioxide/mica, but only when they are active ingredients (meaning in high concentrations). So I looked up the ingredients for all of my concealers, interesting enough that many brands do not list it on their website, and sure enough everything I own has it. So the trick is to cover your concealer with powder that does not contain that ingredient. Mineral makeup does not contain it. MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural is a good option.

    But if your makeup containers SPF that is made up of Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide particles, these are pure white and they certainly show up like that on camera. if you're thinking you'll be able to get away with using your everyday moisturizer packed with SPF underneath your makeup without it showing through; think again. Skip HD. Remember that HD (high definition) makeup doesn't mean you'll photograph well. Some HD products photograph beautifully in flash photography but we must remember that HD makeup is designed for on film makeup (think TV Shows, Movies, Etc) not necessarily flash photography. Most HD makeup contains silica which can photograph white so it’s best to skip HD makeup just to be safe. 

    This is probably something you never thought of, but it's now a priority to me to make sure my makeup looks flawless and photograph well when I go out at night.
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    Monday, January 26, 2015

    Winter Reading List

    The theme for these books are books that are being turned into movies in 2015.

    Serena (P.S.) - Ron Rash

    The novel is set in the mountains of North Carolina in 1929 during the Great Depression with the young timber baron Pemberton and his new wife Serena set forth to create a timber empire. She prefers pants instead of dresses and demands to be treated as an equal to the men. As the female heroine of the book she can be described as brutal, ruthless, uncompromising, beautiful, cruel, power hungry, ruthless, greedy and a revengeful character.

    Each chapter is narrated by a different character, one being Rachel Harmon, a young girl who was pregnant by George Pemberton before Serena came into his life. Both Serena and George immediately made clear to Rachel that neither she nor her son Jacob will ever get anything from them. The Pembertons  remove anyone from their path that bothers them, by death. 
    The author paints a vivid picture of the hardships of the lumber camp with so many trees falling on workers.  The chapters written by the lumberjack employees were hardest to read especially with the local dialects and not being able to remember which character is which since none of them had been given any distinct personalities.  

    The book had a slow start for me,  but it quickly become my nightly read before I went to sleep. The writing is beautiful as if he was writing poetry in the beauty of the descriptions. If you like dark  novels where almost nothing good happens this is the book for you. The movie comes out March 27 and you can watch the trailer here

    The Light Between the Oceans - M.L. Stedman
    I absolutely loved this book! I finished it in 4 days! The vivid descriptions in this book describe things like blue starfish and how a lighthouse works. The complex, rich characters are developed very nicely and I thought it was a great story that the author told very well. Steven Spielberg is turning this New York Times bestseller into a movie this fall. 

    The book centers around Tom Sherbourne who returns from WWII to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an isolated island. The supply boat comes once a season and Tom's allowed to return to shore every 3 years. Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
    Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a "gift from God," and against Tom's judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them. My favorite quotes from the book are:
    "You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day."
    "I've learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you've got to give up hope of ever changing your past."

    Zookeepers Wife - Diane Ackerman
    When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes. 

    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs only $4 on amazon 
    As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age. 

    Dark Places - Gillian Flynn  only $3 on amazon and #8 book on the top sellers list. This thriller is from the author of Gone Girl and tells the story of Libby Day, whose mother and sisters were murdered at the family's farmhouse when she was only 7. Her testimony sent her older brother, Ben, to prison for life, and 25 years later, Libby decides to meet with the Kill Club, a group of crime enthusiasts who investigate the case and force her to rethink what really happened. This is a dark, twisted book that you shouldn't in the dark.

    Brooklyn - Colm Tóibín
    Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. 

    Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future. 

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    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Innovative Products

    Keysocks $12
    These no show socks are an awesome alternative to footies that always slide off your feet.  Now you can wear socks with your favorite flats or heels without having to adjust every five minutes.
    They use a revolutionary process that converts coffee residue into an eco-friendly, soft fiber. How cool is that?!

    They cut-out at the top of the foot so you still get that no sock look yet at the same time keeps your leg warm during this season. The only thing I didn't like about it is that there's a blue cross on the back on it so if your pants aren't super long, it will be seen. I bought my pair off of amazon.

    Bluapple Ethylene Gas Absorber- 2 Apples 2 Bluapples $10
    I put these in my crisper drawer which had a bell pepper in it. It kept my bell pepper fresh for weeks! I eat them regularly and find that they don't last that long in the fridge so I'm really impressed with this product. Like your Brita filter these last for 3 months then you switch out the absorber refills to prolong the freshness of the storage life of your fruits and vegetables. You can find them at Bed, Bath and Beyond, it's half the price than on amazon.

    Crazy Creek Chair $15
    It's a revolutionary lightweight, portable chair with back support that holds its shape and you can use for outdoor concerts where you're sitting in the grass, football games, or canoes. Basically anywhere you go where you'll be sitting and need a light portable chair that provides back support. I love my chair! 

    Sephora just released their Spring Favorites boxes. It's a collection of their top selling products at a fraction of the price. These limited edition boxes are a real steal and they sell out. 

    Beauty Closet $99 ($298 value) which includes some of my favorites: Anastasia Beverly Hills Mini Clear Brow Gel, BareMinerals Mini READY Touch Up Veil, Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil, Ole Henriksen truth serum collagen booster (which I reviewed here) to name a few.

    The Great Cleanse $46 ($126 value)
    It was created to let you try all the newness and innovation in cleansing by offering some of the very best products. Featuring makeup removing cleansers, cleansing water formulas, cleansing oils and powders, and an exfoliating Konjac Cleansing Sponge (which I reviewed here), this set includes all your essentials to perfectly clean, refreshed, and hydrated skin. 

    Shoes to Shiraz | Two Teens and their Mama | A Lovely Little Wardrobe | R Squared 
    Confessions of a Frumpy Mommy | Family Love Inspiration Education  
    The Mishaps and Mayhem of Solitary Life | The Blondissima Positively Learning | Quilty Joy Joy
     Daily Style Finds | Sheila's Potpourri | Puppies and Pretties She thought She could Foxy's Domestic Side | Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After | Sprinkled Just Right


    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    MAC Cosmetics haul!

    I haven't bought MAC makeup in awhile as the last thing I bought was the Rihanna collection. I've given up sunless tanning to not clog my skin so I needed to refill my basics in lighter colors, so this is what happened. I was at the MAC counter and an hour later I found the right products and colors for me after some trial and error. Here's what I got:

    Mineralize Foundation/Loose $32 in Light Plus
    I'm not a foundation kind of person, I like to see my skin especially since my skin is clear. But I wanted something to give my skin a more finished appearance when I do my evening makeup looks. I also wanted something without mica in it so I can set my undereye concealer with. This foundation gives sheer to medium natural looking coverage.  Loose powders tend to contain less oils than the pressed ones so it's good for oily skin. What makes mineral makeup different from traditional makeup is what's left out of the ingredients including preservatives, parabens, mineral oil, and fragrance so it's good for sensitive skin. Although some companies do cheat with the label so you still need to read all the ingredients.  The cons for this product is that as a  loose powder it's messy to use and thus not portable, but again since I will only use this at night there's no need to reapply. I apply this with a big, fluffy kabuki brush.

    Pro Longwear Concealer $20 in NW25 (it looks much darker in the container than it applies)
    This provides a medium to full coverage with a matte finish and lasts 12 hours. It dispenses through a pump which I think gives out too much for your under eyes. To prevent it from creasing, first I prep my eyes with MAC's eye cream to moisturize the skin, then I apply the concealer with the 286 brush. Then I do a second application for buildable coverage. Next I set it with loose powder. I picked this color instead of a more yellow tone one because pinks neutralize blue areas on your face such as dark circles.

    Brush 286 $32
    I picked out a new MAC brush and I should say that all my brushes are MAC and have lasted over 10 years now. Ask any makeup artist, brushes are your most important investment. I use this brush to apply my concealer  instead of my fingers which allows for more product to stay on and get evenly blended.

    Prep + Prime Natural Radiance $41 in radiant pink
    I finished my old bottle of the regular Prep + Prime and when I went to get a new one I discovered they changed the formula. This goes on top of your moisturizer, blots away excess oil and improves the application of powder on top to help set your makeup. It gives your skin a dewy and glowy look. Tip: after you put on your moisturizer, dab some Finishing Powder  on your oily spots before you apply this primer.

    Prep + Prime Lip $16
    Better than chapstick which you have to keep applying because it actually works against you. I don't know how my lipsticks would go on my dry lips if I didn't have this. This winter regular lip balms just haven't been doing the job for me. It definitely prolongs the wear of my lipstick.

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    Monday, January 19, 2015

    Matcha Green Tea Face Mask

    I hope you've been enjoying your 3-day weekend, my was filled with yoga, birthday parties and brunches. A long weekend is the perfect time to do a face mask. Matcha powder is loaded with antioxidants to nourish your skin and protect against sun damage and it is also gently cooling and anti-inflammatory. I make banana smoothies with it, drink green tea lattes and now my love of matcha continues with this rejuvenating mask. Matcha basically means finely grounded green tea leaves, you can tell the quality of your matcha by how radiantly emerald green it is. I bought this high quality matcha powder from amazon for $22.

    You can make this mask by simply adding water to the powder, but you can take it to the next level by adding one or any of these ingredients: virgin coconut oil, raw honey, aloe vera juice, baking soda and jojoba oil. You can expect this mask to smell amazing!

    Coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory too, it's a great moisturizer, and it has natural anti-bacterial properties that will help keep your skin clear and fight aging. Honey, jojoba oil and aloe vera juice are all amazing natural moisturizers for your skin. Baking soda is a natural skin scrub that will exfoliate your skin when you remove the mask. The matcha will stimulate your dead skin cells and fight bacteria (if you're prone to breakouts).

    • ¼ tsp Matcha Green Tea Powder
    • 1 TB of baking soda
    • 1 tsp of virgin coconut oil

    Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and apply to your skin. Leave on for 15 minutes and remove with a warm washcloth and water. Follow up with a moisturizer.

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    Friday, January 16, 2015

    Why I Joined a Book Club

    I'm a voracious reader (as evident by my book posts), often borrowing more books from the library than I can read in a 3 week time. I get most of my reading done either in bed or on the stationary bike at the gym during my lunch break (gotta do something since I bring my lunch to work and it's too cold to go outside).

    I had always enjoyed Oprah's book club selections back in the day when she would select a new book for her viewers to read and discuss each month. I have a friend in a book club who says that it's in name only because no one actually reads the book when they show up and the books selected are cheesey. But I've been part of lifegroups at church where we discuss a personal development book for a semester such as The 12 Traits of the Greats, so I thought I should explore some local book clubs to see if it might be a good fit for me.

    I joined 3 book clubs, not that I plan to read their monthly selection, but just so I have a rotation to pick from. These book clubs have exposed me to books I wouldn't have normally read and made me aware of popular books. Being in a book club has encouraged me to read more regularly (because of the deadlines), and if you think about it reading is an inexpensive hobby that also increases your vocabulary. I've also benefited in spending time with interesting people that I might develop friendships with. Plus some books need to be discussed so it's fun to chat which in turn sharpens my public speaking and communication skills. 

    I went to my first two book clubs in the past week where we met in restaurants and these were the selections:

    The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

    Brown is  a leading expert and researcher on shame, authenticity, and belonging, and shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

    My key takeaways from this book are that:
    Perfection is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. We adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish. Perfectionism is other people focused – what will they think?

    The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites. ie. I’ll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds. Overcoming self-doubt is all about believing we’re enough and letting go of what the world says we’re supposed to be and supposed to call ourselves.

     Brown said that "every person she interviewed who described living a joyful life actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice. Happiness is tied to circumstance and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude."

    She also said that "we spend most of the hours and the days of our lives complaining or worrying about what we don't have enough of:  exercise, work, profit, power, weekends, of course we don’t have enough money ever. We're a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude." Brown explains that the things we were working toward (more money, bigger house, acquisitions) do nothing in terms of making our life fuller.  Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be happy, and nothing you can buy can bring you that.

    "Comparison is the thief of happiness." – Laura Williams
    "Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are" – Marianne Williamson

    Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
    It was only $3 for the kindle version on amazon, reason why, it's a New York Times bestseller and will be released as a movie in August. I have to say the cover does not do the book justice, I would have passed on it by how boring the cover is but the book is a beautiful story. I truly got invested in the characters and learned some touching, heartbreaking lessons. I finished it in 3 days because I couldn't put it down. This was one of those books that I wish could wipe from mind so I could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time. 

    The book takes place in the British countryside with Lou, a small town girl caught between dead-end jobs and Will, a high-profile, successful man who becomes wheelchair bound following an accident. Will has decided his life is not worth living until Lou is hired for six months to be his new caretaker. They are two people who wouldn't have met and who didn't like each other at first. But Lou was determined to prove to Will that life is worth living as they embark on a series of adventures together while Will shows Lou that her life is too boring and encourages her to chase her ambitions and not settle. Neither of them realize how much they are going to change the other. The writing was amazing, the characters are real and the emotions the book makes you go through are incredibly moving. Here's my favorite quote from the book:

    Yes Please by Amy Poehler 
    This is the next selection for one of my book clubs and I just got the book from the library which has lots of color photos. The book was just published 2 months ago by the SNL alum with a  collection of interesting stories, jokes, and advice from the funny girl. On Amazon's top 100 books its #6.  Number 7 is a book I recommended that's now a movie - Wild.
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