"Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding". Prov.4:7(NKJV)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hair and Beauty Products Haul: Take 2

It’s that time of the year again. If you’ve been a reader for a while you’ll remember I shared before that I do a BIG purchase once a year for my hair needs. During this time I purchase things from Amazon or local store sales I’ve been wanting to get but have had to put off until later. Some of my favorites get bought over again each year along with new things I’ve had only my list to try. I have also shared my staple products and hair care regimen if that’s of interest to you. So what did I get this year? Continue reading as I tell you about each one.

Hair products~2015In this picture I have all the recent items I purchased for my hair needs. As I get to know my hair I add to or change up on my staple hair products. There are a couple of things in this pic that are favorites that I buy regularly. They are:

* Aloe Vera Gel (1oo% pure)
* Queen Helene Cholesterol (I switch up between using this and Hollywood Beauty Olive Oil Conditioner as a deep conditioner)
* Aussie Moist Conditioner~ the big pump bottle (I LOVE this stuff! I co-wash with it, condition with it, and refresh my wash~n~go with it)

Now let’s talk about the new stuff. Walgreens had a BOGO 50% sale for several weeks in a row on hair products. I had planned to buy my favorite line (Shea Moisture). I was upset I didn’t get to take advantage of the BOGO Free sale they had in Jan. That’s the best time to stock up on this brand. While I was trying to decide among all the new ones available I looked down and noticed Cantu’s natural hair line was on sale too. I had heard of it before but never tried it. The price was more of  bargain than my favorite brand so I thought I’d go ahead and try it out. I bought:

* Complete Conditioning Co-wash- Love the feel and the slip I get
* Cleansing cream Shampoo- I have not tried this yet.
* Conditioning cream Hair Lotion- works okay…have to keep using it for a more thorough opinion.
* Coconut Oil shine & hold mist- If you don’t love the smell of coconut don’t buy this. It’s a potent smell which love. I also like that it lasts most of the day.
* Leave-in Conditioning Cream- Works the same as their regular leave-in conditioner IMO.
* Coconut Curling Cream- The smell is like the shine and hold mist. I used this to set my twists after washing my hair. I didn’t like it at first but liked my results when I re-twisted my dry hair for the next day.

I also bought some African Pride Olive Miracle Silky Smooth Edges. I’m new to using an edge gel. So far I’ve used it along with some Eco Styler gel to wear my hair up in a bun. It helped my hair to hold much better than the gel alone. Whenever I do a blow out I’ll see if it works to slick back my edges.

From Amazon I bought some more lavender, tea tree, sweet orange, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils. This are the ones I use the most so I needed more. I also purchased some lavender scented black Jamaican Castor Oil. It smells pretty good. I use it for making homemade hot oil treatments, as well as in my hair and body products.


Beauty Products~ 2015In this picture I have all the recent items I purchased for my face and body.
Things I purchased from the store are:

Carmex: I have been using this stuff on my lips since I was a teen. I don’t know why but I can’t replace it with anything else. I buy this every time I get low. It’s my go to lip moisturizer.

Walgreens also had a sale on Shea Moisture bath/body products. Hubby picked out the Lavender and Wild Orchid Bath, Body and Massage Oil w/Shea Butter. I rub this on immediately after taking or as a moisturizer after cleansing my face. I smells so good. He also picked the Argan Oil and Raw She Hand and Body Scrub w/Frankincense and Myrrh Extract. It’s anti-aging and softens the skin. I use it once a week. I love the way my skin feels so soft after using it. Cleaning the tub is a MUST after using this.

I’m not a lipstick person but I love using lip gloss. I own 1 lipstick and it gets used every once in a blue moon. I don’t care for the way it makes my lips feel. Whenever I want to add some color I like to use matte lip crayons. They had Wet n Wild ones on sale for $2 each. The colors I got are Fashion Dancing and Plumgenue. The way I apply it may be different for most women but I don’t like anything drying out my lips. First I put on a thin layer of plain Carmex. Next I apply the matte color of choice. Last I shine it up with a touch of lip gloss.

I also got some Hair, Skin, and Nails vitamins. I did not buy these to grow longer hair or nails. My hair grows just fine as well as my nails. I did buy them for my overall health and to cut down on the amount of vitamins I was taking. I take these along with a women’s daily vitamin pack. Since my surgery last year I’ve been taking HRT, a women’s daily vitamin (whole foods), and a basket full of other vitamins. It gets costly so I’m trying to see if I’ll save more money. I don’t know how the HS and N vitamins are working because it’s only been almost 2 weeks.

From Amazon I purchased:

* Extra Virgin Coconut Oil~ I run out of this a few times a year. It gets used on my face and body (sometimes a get extra to use for cooking).
* 2 lbs. Raw Unrefined Shea Butter (Ivory)~ I buy some every other year for making my homemade hair and body products. I add essential oils to it to enhance the smell and for added health benefits.
* Ylang ylang Black Jamaican Castor Oil~ I bought this along with the Lavender one (sold as a double pack)
* Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay~ 100% natural Calcium Bentonite Clay. I bought some clay before and used it for my hair and as a face mask. I’m trying this one out for the first time later on this week. I read great reviews about it.

That’s all for this year’s hair and beauty haul. I plan to come back and post an update on how everything is going with the use of the new stuff. Thanks for stopping by Smile

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Steak and Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

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Steak or Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless beef (cheap cut) or chicken breasts (see note below)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
2 bell peppers (use 2 different colors of your choice) sliced into thin strips
1 clove garlic, minced
Fajita seasoning (homemade or use a store bought packet if you want)
2 Tbsp. lime juice
8 Burrito size tortillas
shredded Mexican Taco blend cheese
Optional toppings: sour cream, salsa, guacamole

Directions:
Wash meat of your choice and drain. Cut steak or chicken into small strips. In a skillet heat 1 Tbsp. oil on med. high heat. Cook meat until no longer red/pink. Remove meat and let sit aside while you cook veggies. In same skillet heat the rest of the oil. Add more if you think you need it. Saute peppers, onion, and garlic to your desired doneness. Add meat back to skillet and season with your choice of Fajita seasoning. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in lime juice and turn off heat. Now it’s time to build your quesadillas. On a sprayed heated griddle or clean skillet place a tortilla in. Sprinkle some cheese on top. You don’t need much. This is just to help it hold together. Next spoon some Fajita mixture on top. Don’t over fill or spread to the edges. Keep it all towards the middle with 1” left around the sides. Sprinkle on more cheese (as much as you like) and top with another tortilla. Cook 3-5 minutes then carefully flip to other side to cook 3-5 more minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it has browned a little. Keep repeating these steps until you have used up your filling. Cut into wedges (fourths) to serve. Serve with optional toppings of your choice. I also like to serve with it a simple green salad and sweet corn with butter, a little sprinkle of chili powder, cumin, and lime.

Note: My hubby loves to use the Steak-umms that you find in the freezer section when beef is too pricey for our budget. It works just as well. He uses about four pieces which divides into 8 thin pieces. As it cooks just break apart so it looks shredded. In his words “this stuff is the bomb!” If you like both chicken and beef you could use 1/2 lb. of each in this versatile recipe which I know most men like my man would like ;-)


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Homemade Bone Broth

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Crockpot Homemade Bone Broth

Ingredients:
Turkey carcass or 2 chicken carcasses (see note below)
8 cups of cold water (can use more or less)
2 big carrots (unpeeled)
2 celery stalks
1-2 large onions
1 Tbsp. garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. ACV- apple cider vinegar (optional: see note below)
2 Bay leaves (whole)
1 tsp. oregano, basil, or any herb of choice
salt and pepper to taste (optional: see note below)

Other supplies: big canning jars, soup ladle, good size strainer w/handle, bowl/container (that can handle hot liquids) with big opening, and plastic bags from the store (to discard what you strained).
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Directions:
Wash and cut your veggies into big chunks. No need to peel the carrots. Just wash the outside well. Don’t throw away any of the celery. The leaves and all is good for this recipe. Take the outer skin off the onion and leave the rest on. Leaving these parts on the veggies may sound strange. It’s not a big deal because it will all get strained and discarded once your stock is finished cooking. In a 6 qt. crockpot place your carcass, chopped veggies, herbs, seasonings, and ACV. Pour in your water and cover. Cook on LOW 12 hrs. You can stop here or give a good stir and cook again for another 12 hrs. on LOW. It’s up to you if you want to do 12 or 24 hrs. I’ve done both and was pleased either way. Turn off and let cool down for about 30 minutes before you start handling it.

IMG_20150217_160713Sit out 2 big and 1 medium size canning jars (or I just use clean jars I have sitting around from some Classico pasta sauce I bought from Costco). In a container with a wide opening place your hand strainer over the top. With a soup ladle carefully pick up the broth, bones, ect. from the crock pot and pour into strainer. I use the strainer to catch the bits and pieces I don’t want falling into my stock. These pieces get dumped into a plastic bag I have handy. This stuff is still hot so be CAREFUL. Use tongs to pick up the bones if your strainer is small like mine. Continue until you have enough liquid to pour into one of your jars. Do not fill it all the way up. Leave an inch or two room so the the fat can raise to the top. Let jar sit on the counter uncovered to cool down. Once it is no longer piping hot put top on and let cool down to room temp so you can put it in the refrigerator. Repeat the steps until you have no more stock in your crock. I let my stock sit over night in the refrigerator so the fat can rise to the top.

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The next morning I open it up, scrap the fat off top, and throw in the trash. The stock gets put into a set of ice cube trays I’m not using and I let freeze for a few hours. Once frozen I pop out the cubes and place into a labeled and dated Ziploc bag. Whenever I need some broth I just use however many cubes I need. 8 cubes = 1 cup of broth.

Note: I stopped buying store bought broth/stock several years ago. I did not know it was so easy and cheap to make your own. You can make a simple broth with just the meaty bones and water or you can make it more nutritious and flavorful by adding cut up veggies. Making it yourself is healthier because you know what you put in it. During the holidays when I cook a turkey, I never throw away the carcass. I keep it and any bones from other parts of it (legs/wings) in a gallon size Ziploc bag in the freezer until I’m ready to make bone broth with it. When I cook a whole chicken I keep the carcass and any other bones in a Ziploc bag. Once we eat a second whole chicken I use them both to make a bone broth. Bones from other meats like Beef, Lamb, or Pork can be used to make broth too so save those bones! Bone broth is great to have on hand to replace water for making soups (especially when someone’s sick), cooked rice, gravies, or anything you need broth for. Now that I make my own I have broth all year long instead of waiting until the holidays to stock up on them when on sale.

Another note: You may be wondering why my chicken stock looks so dark compared to the clear broth you buy in the store. Depending on what my chicken was seasoned with I may get a lighter colored or dark looking stock. My stock tends to be more liquid looking if I don’t use the ACV which helps to make it more gelatin like (plus easier to put into ice cube trays to freeze).  I do make clear broth sometimes by using skin on/bone in chicken breasts. I just cook them in plain water until done. I take out the pieces of chicken and lay aside to cool down. I strain the broth and let cool to refrigerate or use right away in a dish I’m cooking. As for the chicken I pull off the skin and bones and put in a Ziploc bag and freezer to use for a new batch of bone broth/stock.  I chop or shred the meat and divide into quart size Ziploc bags to use for meals like casseroles, fajitas, tacos, burritos, ect.
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Crockpot Cranberry Chicken

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Crockpot Cranberry Chicken

Ingredients:
4 chicken quarters.(can replace with 8 thighs or 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts)
8 oz. Catalina or French Dressing (I’ve tried both and couldn’t tell much difference)
1 15oz. can of whole berry cranberry sauce (I used the jellied one)
1 package dry onion soup mix (I made my own)

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Chicken reday 2 cook w/everything dumped on top.


Directions: 
Wash a drain chicken (If using quarters you can cut them into legs and thighs or leave whole). Put in a gallon Ziploc bag with the rest of the ingredients poured on top.  Squeeze bag to make sure everything is mixed in good (I was lazy this time and just dump everything into the crockpot).  When ready to cook spray crockpot with cooking spray and pour chicken with sauce in.  Cook on LOW 6-7 hours for chicken with bones and skin or 4-6 hours for boneless chicken breasts.

*Since I did not mix everything first in a Ziploc bag I ended up turning my chicken pieces halfway through cooking time and it still came out good. Serve with rice and a green veggie or salad. This time around I served it with cauliflower rice and sautéed cabbage and spinach with onions and garlic.

*For a freezer meal leave in Ziploc bag. Press as much air out as you can, close, and freeze to use later. Thaw out in refrigerator overnight when you are ready to use.
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Monday, February 2, 2015

Crockpot Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

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*If you are looking for some comfort in a bowl on a cold winter day, this is the soup for you. If you love stuffed bell peppers be sure to stock up so you can try a bowl of this yumminess.

Crockpot Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 bell peppers cut into cubes (I use a mixture of different colors)
1 14.5 oz. can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. Worcestershire or steak sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups chicken and 2 cups beef broth)
1 cup water
2 cups cooked rice
cheese to sprinkle on top

Directions:
In a skillet brown beef and onions. I like to throw my cut up bell peppers in right before all the meat has browned but you can just add them raw to cook with the other ingredients. In a 6 qt. crock pot add all the other ingredients except the rice and cheese. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours. I used some brown rice I had already cooked in some broth but you could add a cup of uncooked rice in the last 30-45 minutes of cook time if you prefer.

To serve place a little warmed cook rice into bowls (if prepared separate) and pour your desired amount of soup over the top. Sprinkle on cheese of your choice and enjoy!
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