Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The s word

I have a legitimate phobia of spiders. I know most people don't care for them, but for as long as I can remember I've been horrified of them.

I'd like to say I've got a little better with age... I'm now able to spray them with just about anything, as long as I can kill them while staying at a safe distance. 

Yesterday was a different story. And it's the kind of thing that happens when you're by yourself, so no one believes how big the spider really is, and they just think you're being dramatic and crazy. 

I had gone into our basement to print something and as I was coming back up the stairs I see it... the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life. At least in person. Or at least in a lot of years. (I do have some pretty bad spider stories from camp.)

Anyway, I went into complete panic mode. I called my husband and started crying, I'm talking red and blotchy kind of crying. After I calmed myself down with some self-talk techniques, I realized it's ridiculous to be that scared of a spider. 

It took a lot of building myself up but eventually, with my husband on the phone so I didn't feel totally alone,  I was able to use our swiffer to smash it. There may have been a lot of screaming and more tears involved, but I was actually embarrassingly proud of myself when it was over. 

(I apologize for the poor grammar of this, but it was too good not to share)
On the bright side, along with this fear, I've developed a lot of compassion for others when it comes to their own fears. Sometimes I think it's an important lesson or reminder in never discounting someone else's feelings. 

How do you deal with your phobias? Is anyone as scared of spiders as I am? 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup

Happy Tuesday everyone! September is just flying right by, isn't it? I'm here with a recipe post today and am linking up with Emily & Mary, so make sure you check up their linkups for more great recipes!  

I actually made this soup for the first time on a rainy day back in August. It was the week after our vacation and I was in need of some kind of a comfort food. I came across Robin's recipe on pinterest and it was just what I was looking for so I gave it a try!

I cut the recipe in half because my husband usually isn't a fan of white beans, but even he really enjoyed it & I imagine it would freeze well.

2 15.5 oz can of white beans
1/2 red pepper
1/2 sweet potato*
1/2 jalapeno (seeds or no seeds depending on your heat preference)
1/2 yellow onion
2-3 cloves garlic
~2 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin

*I should have used a full sweet potato but I was having the most difficult time chopping it, so I ended up only using half. 

The above ingredients are what I used to make half of the original recipe. I will also add that I ended up just using minced garlic you find in the spices aisle because my hand hurt so much from chopping everything else by that point. A food processor would have really come in handy! I poured enough broth in to cover the bottom while I added in the ingredients I was chopping. At the end I added in the white beans and then poured in enough broth to cover the entire mixture. I ended up going back about an hour later and adding a second can of beans since I didn't use as much sweet potato.

You're instructed to dice up the ingredients-- going back to the fact that I don't have a food processor and I hate chopping things, my version of the soup was more chunky; I liked the added color!

Robin used dry beans in her recipe but I wasn't able to find the ones I needed at the grocery store so I just used canned and it worked out fine. If you use dry beans make sure you soak them for at least 24 hours in advance!

The directions are simple-- you just dice/chop everything up and add it into the crock pot and it's ready in 4-6 hours.  [see the original/full recipe here]

While we're on the subject of soups. I also made this potato soup recipe Katie posted last year. I've tried quite a few different potato soup recipes and this is the only one that actually turns out! I made this again a couple of weeks ago and it was just as good. The only changes I make to the recipe is I use southern style hash browns (the little squares) instead of shredded & when I make it again I think I'll use cream of celery instead of cream of chicken. I would go as far as to say it's a pretty good copycat recipe for Panera's potato soup.

What are some of your favorite soup recipes?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Post About Skincare

I've struggled with my skin basically my entire life. I think I've had about five thousand visits to the dermatologist but I never really found a product, medication, or routine that seemed to really make a difference. With that being said, as long as my skin isn't a major disaster, I'm generally pretty happy and it doesn't bother me as much as you'd think.

This spring I did a little experimenting with limiting dairy in my diet because I thought it was having negative impacts on my skin. At first I thought it made a difference but after a few weeks I realized it really didn't have an impact at all. The change I was seeing was due to the change in the seasons, and the fact that I was finally getting a little bit of sunlight after what felt like eight months of winter!

My skin type has always been oily, acne-prone, and sensitive. In the past year my skin has been far less oily and I really think a lot of these things have helped with that. My forehead is still really oily, especially in warm weather, but it's no longer a major concern for me.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser: I have to thank Katie for the CeraVe recommendation. Back in January my skin was probably the worst it had ever been-- I had been using way too much benzoyl peroxide, and not moisturizing, so my skin was so horribly dry it was a mess. This is for dry to normal skin, so I thought about switching to something else once my skin was out of the dry phase, but I like it so much I've been using it ever since. This is also the cleanser I use with my clarisonic.

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer: This is another product I picked up during that dry phase. At first I wasn't sure how much it actually helped with reducing redness (which is its main claim), but I think it does help over time and I like how gentle and lightweight it is, and it contains SPF.

Clinique Dramatically Different Gel: This is another favorite moisturizer that I can't say enough good things about. It's light weight and very gentle on the skin. In the past I've used moisturizers that feel like they just sit on top of your skin- this one sinks right in, so you don't have to wait forever to start applying your makeup in case you're in a rush.

Neutrogena On-the-Spot: I've talked about this a few times on the blog before, but this is really the best spot treatment I've ever used and I've tried everything from Proactiv to Clinique to Philosophy. It has just the right amount of benzoyl peroxide to be effective without being harsh on your skin-- and it blends into your skin so you can wear it under your makeup. For me, benzoyl peroxide works really well on any hormonal or under the skin acne.

I find that charcoal or sulphur masks work the best for my skin type. Most of them double as an overnight spot treatment which is a nice bonus. The Mario Badescu Drying Mask and the Origins Clear Improvement Mask are two of my favorites.

My Clarisonic Mia 2 is also essential to my skin care routine. I've had it for a year and a half now, and I've gone through periods of not using it as much, and my skin definitely appears happier and healthier when I use it regularly. The Mia 2 has two speeds, but I really can't tell a difference between the two. Because I have sensitive skin I use the sensitive skin brush heads, and I use it 2-4 times a week.

My skin is not perfect, and as you would expect, when I'm eating better, drinking water, and exercising, my skin is in a lot better shape. I'm always on the hunt for a new product, but these are a few that I find work well for my skin.

What are your favorite skin care products? Do you use a Clarisonic? 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dumbarton Oaks (Washington DC Travel Post)

I have to start this by saying that my pictures do not do the beauty of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens any justice. You will seriously feel like you were transported back into a magical time inside of a secret garden. This is easily one of my favorite places to visit in all of DC.  

This is a location that is a bit tucked away in Georgetown. When I think of Georgetown I think of crowded sidewalks, the waterfront, shops, and restaurants. It's not in that part of Georgetown but off R St. NW. It's a beautiful walk from the main area as you get to pass by so many beautiful homes. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

August Favorites

I hope you guys all had a wonderful long weekend! We spent Labor Day weekend in New York and had an amazing time. It is easily my favorite city in the US, and no matter how many times I visit, the first sighting of the skyline, and again for the statue of liberty will never get old. (A few pictures here, here, and here.)

Anyway, I'm sharing my monthly favorites with Mia and Kelli today! Make sure you check out the linkup to see what everyone else has been loving lately.

NYX Frappucino Lipstick: I've had this for quite some time and have never really used it for some reason. I've been going through all of my makeup and tossing older items and I decided to try this and was IN LOVE. First of all, it's the perfect nude for my skin tone and is definitely a my lips but better color. The formula is also amazing, it's really pigmented and creamy. I believe NYX now has their butter lipstick & matte lipstick line so I don't think the round lipsticks are as easy to come by, but I would image the butter line is similar, and I definitely want to try more.

I think I was the last person ever to try these hair ties, and they are worth all of the hype in my opinion. My mom gave me one while we were on vacation and I'm still using it because it's the only hair tie I own that will actually hold all of my hair without it either feeling way too tight or sliding right out!

I'm pretty picky when it comes to conditioner for my hair, but I love when I find a really great drugstore product. The L'Oreal OleoTherapy conditioner is really nice and an amazing value. In the past I've found other L'Oreal conditioners to be too heavy, but this one is really nice and light while leaving my hair soft.

For months I had wanted to try something from the Alba line at Target, but it's a brand I didn't hear much about and I didn't want to be stuck with something I couldn't return if I didn't like it. On a whim one day I picked up the acnedote face & body scrub, because I had some annoying bumps on the back of my arms. There were scrubs from Sephora and Ulta I wanted to try but they were $30+ so I figured I'd take a chance and I was pleasantly surprised!

The scrub has a very pleasant peppermint scent to it, and is lightly coarse. Appearance wise it reminds me of coffee grains, which could be kind of weird, but it doesn't bother me. I swear after using it one time the back of my arms looked and felt better. I haven't used it on my face, but I love it for my arms, neck, and back. It does contain salicylic acid so it might dry you out, just something to be aware of.

I hate lotion, as in I never wear it, and didn't even own any proper lotion until I got this Vaseline Spray & Go in aloe fresh a few weeks ago. It has the nicest scent, plus goes on really nice and quickly absorbs into your skin. My skin tends to be easily irritated, so the fact that this didn't bother my skin at all is impressive as well!

Have you tried any of the products? What are some of your recent favorites?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Post Where I Talk Too Much About Eye Shadow

If anyone knew the amount of time I spent googling eye shadow swatches yesterday they would definitely judge me. I haven’t been wearing eye shadow very often, but earlier this week I went really crazy (sarcasm) and used two shades: naked lunch & satin taupe. Two of my favorite shades…however, for some weird reason they were showing up REALLY silver on me and I didn’t like it-- which is weird because I typically love both shades. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The beginning of the fall wish lists...

I think I went through all of last year without really buying very much as far as clothes and shoes go. My mom did get me a really great pair of black Steve Madden booties. The reason I say that is because my other boots are in a bit of rough shape so I needwant a pair or two this year.

I love booties, but the thing is, I know tall boots are a bit more flattering on me because I have short legs-- this also means booties with heels are going to be more flattering on me, but flat shoes are more practical.

I say all of that but I still can't stop dreaming of a few of these boots with a slight heel or wedge. The black rag & bone pair are a complete splurge that will never happen but I liked them too much not to share. I was kind of obsessed with every single rag & bone pair I came across on Nordstrom.

Are you looking forward to the change in footwear for fall as much as I am? Do you have a bootie/book preference? What are some of your favorite shoe brands or places to shop?