Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - Organix Brazilian Keratin Line

My Sophistication Muse, Audrey Hepburn
Photo Source

Sophistication Sunday revolves around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

A few months ago I wrote about my love for Organix's Moroccan Oil. At that time I could only find this product line in Walgreens but it seems to be at all the normal stores now (Target, Walmart, etc). I love Organix because it is reasonably priced and I've never been disappointed with any of their products I've tried.

Today I wanted to mention my new favorite line within the Organix family:
Brazilian Keratin Therapy

Photo Source

Right now I'm loving the Brazilian Keratin Therapy Anti-Breakage Serum and the Brazilian Keratin Therapy Flat Iron Spray.

First let's talk about the Anti-Breakage Serum.
The first thing you'll notice about this serum is that it smells AMAZING! Seriously it is so delicious, but don't eat it ;) I usually interchange this product with the Moroccan Argan Oil but find that this works best for battling frizzies. It's also supposed to prevent breakage and help strengthen hair. Who doesn't like the sound of that? I just apply it to my damp tresses and let the blow dryer get to work.

As I've mentioned before I'm not one of those lucky ladies who can blow dry and go. I have to straighten or curl my hair after I blow dry it. Yes that means even more hot tools on my hair. This is where the Flat Iron Spray comes in.

Once again the smell is heavenly and I love how it lingers on my hair afterwards. I just spray it through my layers and get to work straightening or curling.

They have a few other products in the Brazilian Keratin Therapy line are the Shimmering Keratin Oil and the Hydrating Keratin Masque.

Have you tried any of the Organix products?

Have a great week.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chicken Scallopine with Portobello Mushrooms, Peas, and Asparagus

This is a great summer meal that is low calorie and has lots of fresh veggies. It's all cooked on the stove top so you won't have to heat up your oven on these hot summer days.

First, assemble the ingredients:
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 ounces of sliced Portobello Mushrooms
4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup (1-inch) sliced asparagus
1 cup fresh or frozen petite green peas, thawed
1/4 cup whipping cream

To start, place each chicken breast in a plastic bag and pound down to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin (or if you are like me and have neither, a rubber mallet.)In a bowl mix flour, salt, and pepper.Lightly cover chicken in flour mixture.In a very large sauce pan, melt butter.When butter is melted, brown the chicken on both sides.While the chicken is browning, cut up all your veggies andpour yourself a glass of sherry and sip it while cooking the rest of the meal. Once chicken is browned, remove from pan and set on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.Since you have the sherry bottle in hand, use it to deglaze cooking pan.Pour chicken broth into the pan with the sherry.Add your veggies to the sherry and chicken broth in the pan. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes).When the sherry liquid had reduced down, pour in your heavy cream and stir.Add you chicken and cook till sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through. It takes about 5-8 minutes.Once the chicken is cooked, plate it up and serve it to your hungry family.Enjoy!

The Skinny:
Serves 4 @ 352 calories


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - Foundation Primer

My Sophistication Muse, Audrey Hepburn
Photo Source

Sophistication Sunday revolves around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

As many of you lovely ladies have probably noticed primer has taken the makeup world by storm. Once a product only found in more expensive/high end makeup, you can now buy primer in most drugstore brands. Today I will review 3 primers I've tried. I know there are SO many more out there so if you use a different kind (that is reasonably priced!) please comment below and help a girl out :)

First off, if you haven't heard of primer or don't use it here is a little synopsis: primer goes on after the lotion and before your foundation (or mineral powder or what have you). Like priming a wall for painting, primer creates a smooth, even surface and extends the life of your makeup. If you haven't used it give it a try and I bet you won't go back!

When I went out to find primer I was looking for something that was inexpensive but worked. I read good things about Rimmel's primer so decided to give it a shot.

Rimmel Fix & Perfect Foundation Primer is relatively low-priced (sorry I can't remember what I paid for it!) and you can find it at most drugstores (target, walmart, etc). This primer comes in one shade called apricot. Evidently it isn't supposed to matter what your skin tone or complexion is; it's supposed to work for everyone. It looks a little orange coming out of the tube but it doesn't go on orange and blends well. I liked the fact that evened out my skin tone (something clear primer doesn't do) and created a smooth palette for my makeup application. Cons: I didn't feel like very much came in a tube. I've used other primers since and I seemed to go through this one much faster than any other. I also felt it was a little heavy. Primers I've used since this kind were lighter and didn't feel as thick.

The second primer I tried was ridiculously expensive:

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer. I was lucky to have it in a smaller size as part of a Sephora promotion. There is no way I would use it otherwise! It retails for $48 a pop - EEK! Sephora users give it rave reviews and say it is the best primer out there. I was hoping with the name of it that it would help minimize shine. Although I liked the application (smooth, light and fast absorption) I missed the tint that came with Rimmel's primer. The tint of Rimmel's enabled me to use the product not only as a primer but as something quick to throw on my face if I was running out to the store. This primer is "colorless" so aside from that downside I did enjoy how fast it absorbed into my skin. I didn't feel like it helped control shine though and I felt like I went through the bottle rather quickly. So for this price I wouldn't buy it again. One last note: I hear it is comparable to Sephora's primer.

Most recently I took a chance and purchased E.L.F.'s Mineral Primer.
The primer is $6 (actually pretty spendy for an E.L.F. product!) and so far I'm happy with how long the product has lasted. One pump covers my entire face where I would sometimes have to 2 pumps of Smashbox primer. The application is somewhat in between the first two. It is thicker than the Smashbox primer but much lighter than Rimmel primer. Again it doesn't have the color so I'm missing the tinting aspect. I haven't noticed it's helped control any shine but I would say it works very well for creating a smooth, even base for makeup application. I will probably stick with this one until (or unless) I find a reasonably priced alternative that controls shine and has a tint.

So do any of you use primer? If so, what is your favorite kind? I still don't feel like I've found my favorite so I'd love to find one to add to my regular routine. I've been think about trying Physician's Formula primer. And I've never ventured to green primer (to correct redness) - have any of you? I'd love to hear your feedback!

Have a great week :)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Making Homemade Pickles in a Crock

A few weeks ago I scored these awesome old 2 gallon crocks at an auction for $5 each and didn't have a clue what do to with them. I know people used them to make wine, sauerkraut, and pickles but I wasn't sure when I would have time to do either.
So, last week when my mom dumped an entire bag of cucumbers from her garden on me I thought it would be a perfect way to try it out. As you can tell, the one holding my magazines has a crack in it, so it won't work for pickles, but the other one is perfect. I looked up directions online and found a very easy tutorial from and decided to give it a try.

First, I had to assemble my ingredients:
- 1 old 2 gallon crock
- a bunch of cucumbers
- 2 garlic cloves (really I would just use 1 next time)
- 1 gallon of spring water
- 2/3 cup of pickling salt
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- red pepper flakes
- a bunch of dill

Now to start off, wash off your cucumbers and slice them all so they are about the same size. I think if you kept the big ones whole that they would pickle at a different rate so it might not work so well.
In a very large bowl, mix together vinegar and spring water.
Pour in the pickling salt.
Stir, stir, stir until the salt is well dissolved.
Break off the dill from the stem and peel the garlic.
Put half of your cut cucumbers in the bottom of the crock.
Pour half of the vinegar salt mixture on them and top with dill, garlic, and red pepper flakes. You can use as much as you want of the red pepper flakes. Next time I will make mine extra spicy!
Add remaining cucumbers, vinegar mixture, dill, garlic, and red pepper. Your vinegar mixture should cover the cucumbers completely.
You don't want the cucumbers to be above water so I suggest putting something on them to hold them down. I used two of my little plates and that worked pretty good.
Place the crock in a warm, dry place, and cover wtih a towel.

Now at this point, Picklefreak says that after a few days you will get a scum that forms on the top and to scrape it off. I did not have any of this, so I didn't need to do that. Also they said to leave there for 3 weeks. I also didn't do that. I left them there for about 5 days and checked them. I was wanting more of a half-dill pickle, inspired by the half dills we had at Katz's Delicatessen in New York City and they tasted great after 5 days. (Side note: My garlic turned blue! Yes, I know that is strange but I looked it up and it happens when garlic is picked very young. It's a chemical reaction in the garlic with the vinegar and totally edible.)

Since I liked the pickles, I decided to store them in the fridge and they can be kept there for a few weeks. Since I don't know how to can yet (an adventure I plan on tackling with my mom next week) I went to World Market and picked up a very large jar with a seal on the top. Not only is it super cute, it looks so cool with all the pickles in it.

The pickles taste delicious and they are so fresh tasting! They were a little heavy on the garlic, which I love garlic so I am ok with that, but others might think it's too much so next time I won't use as much! I keep the pickles in my fridge and eat one almost daily. If I still have a ton in a few weeks, I plan on using them to make Christi's Pickle Chips recipe!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - E.L.F. Cosmetics

My Sophistication Muse, Audrey Hepburn
Photo Source

Sophistication Sunday revolves around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

As a newlywed couple on a budget (and starting out in this fabulous economy) we love a good deal! So today I'm writing about one of my favorite cheap thrills: E.L.F. Cosmetics.

No not that Elf...

THIS E.l.f.

A few months ago I watched a video from one of my favorite you tube "vloggers" and was eager to try winged eyeliner (some people have a knack for it but it seems daunting to me!). So I went off to Target looking for some black gel liner at a reasonable price. While perusing through the aisles I happened upon a gel eyeliner by a brand called E.L.F. (eyes lips face). I was drawn to the sleek, black packaging and then I looked at the price. WOW. Is this real?! The products ranged from $1 - $3 a pop. I was skeptical and kind of wrote it off as being poor quality. Wet-n-Wild and N.Y.C. are two well-known inexpensive beauty lines but I am often not impressed with their products. I decided to give E.L.F. a go and I am so happy I did! It is my new favorite cheap thrill!

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I am extremely happy to report that I'm pleased with the quality of almost every product I've sampled. You can find E.L.F. at Target and one day I randomly found an E.L.F. kiosk in one of our grocery stores as well. If you can't find E.L.F. in your area they have a fantastic website that offers even more variety to choose from and near-constant daily deals and coupons. A girl can't lose with this! I can actually afford to try these beauty products (and tools!) without worrying I'll blow our monthly budget. Talk about the best of both worlds for a "recessionista" :)

The other thing I really love about E.L.F. is that they offer a lot of products that usually take awhile to make their way to the regular drugstore brands like Covergirl and Maybelline. Products such as matte finisher clear nail polish, eyebrow gel and powder set, and makeup setting spray just to name a few. On top of this they really offer a plethora of products to choose from. Aside from the plethora of makeup there are fantastic makeup brushes, tools and bath/body products.

Let me be clear here, I am in no way affiliated with E.L.F. I'm just so happy with this find that I wanted to share it with all of you. And just to give you a taste of their products I'll give you my 5 current faves:

1. Studio Eyebrow Kit
This kit comes in light, dark, ash or medium. It has a slanted brush for the pigmented wax (on the left) to whip your brows in to shape while the other side fills in brows with powder.

2. Mineral Blush
Joy (mauve lilac)
I adore this blush! It is a little more expensive but coming in at $5. (still pretty cheap though, right??) It only takes a tiny amount of product to flush your lovely apples and the product stays put all day. This made me extremely happy because so often my blush fades by midday. I haven't had a problem with this fading and have barely made a dent in the product. I have a feeling it will last quite awhile! I purchased this blush in "rose."

3. Professional Studio Endless Eyes
Pro Eyeshadow Palette

This palette is amazing and is only $10! It features 100 different eye shadow colors. With this affordable palette I have virtually every color at my fingertips. Sometimes more is more :)

4. Essential Mechanical Eyelash Curler

Eye Lash Curler
I've been through many eyelash curlers over the years and this one is by far my favorite. It is only $1 and it works so well! It doesn't pinch my eyelids and the design of it is so much more user friendly.

Okay I know I mentioned this briefly in a previous post but I had to mention it again. It is my absolute favorite for combating midday shine. Because of it's fabulous price I keep one in my makeup drawer, one in my purse, and one in my desk. Have I mentioned I love this?


So have you seen E.L.F. in any of your stores or have you given it a try? Will you try it? I'd love to hear your feedback!


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