Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Staying Connected


I officially tapped out yesterday.




You know that school has begun when your little munchkin comes home one evening and says, "Mom, I have a sore throat." You immediately groan in your head and think, "Here we go." My family has been relatively healthy all summer, so I kinda had a premonition that some illness was lurking around the corner.

Oh, how right I was. Since last Wednesday each member of our family has been picked off one by one by this illness - Grandparents included. Some had it worse than others, but what I didn't expect was that I would make like a tree on Ax Men and go down fast and hard. I almost literally did just that while helping my baby in the bathroom yesterday. Luckily, I kinda guided myself down, and didn't officially pass completely out. When my hubby came home, I didn't move from my bed all evening. He came in to check on me later and started laughing.

Quick piece of advice for you men out there - never laugh at your sick wife.
This is what he found so funny..


I had every gadget known to man in bed with me. I had:

iPad
Phone
Kindle
Remote control
Cell phone
&
What really worried him was he also spotted my wallet which meant there may or may not have been some shoe shopping going on. I'll never tell.

So, basically the whole point of telling you this story was to make you feel sorry for me. Just kidding. I want to pay tribute to the wonderful minds that have come up with all this awesome technology. If I was a sick Momma 25 years ago I would have been stuck in bed with the television on the same channel all day because I was too sick to get up, walk across the room and change it to one of the other two channels that we picked up with our antenna. I might have been able to answer the phone if the cord stretched far enough. I would have been alone, trapped in my room .....with nothing to do ...all by myself ...resting ......wait a minute here. All of the sudden, that doesn't sound so bad.

So, here's to you, oh geniuses of technology:

Thanks a bunch for helping me stay connected to the world through my illness!

And

Thanks a bunch for helping me stay connected to the world through my illness. (sarcastic version)



Have A Happy, germ free Tuesday!
Love,
Val

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pumpkin White Chocolate Pancakes

I am more than ready for fall so, the other morning I had a craving for something "pumpkiny" and comforting. This is what I came up with. They are so simple it's just silly, I hope you enjoy them!

Pumpkin White Chocolate Pancakes
 
 
 

Here are the ingredients you'll need...



Take 1 Cup of baking mix (I happen to use Jiffy, but you can use Bisquick as well), 1/2Cupmilk,1 Egg, 1/2 tsp of vanilla, 1 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice...



and 1/3 Cup of canned Pumpkin and mix until it all just comes together.





Oooooo...it smells soo good! Now, open your bag of white chocolate chips and eat a few ...then add 1/3 Cup of those delicious little morsels to the pumpkin mixture and fold it in.

Use a 1/4 Cup ice cream scoop and dollop in a well heated and oiled griddle or skillet.



Note! These are a thicker consistency than regular pancakes so they take a little longer to cook, because of this, only use medium heat and let your pan preheat very well. You don't want the outside to burn before the inside is done! Also, they do not "bubble" like regular pancakes do when it is time to flip, instead wait until the top of the pancake starts looking dry and it is brown around the edges.


You're either gonna love me or hate me. Okay, you'll love me, but your jeans will hate me. I figure if my jeans hate me, yours should too. I love consistency.

Have A Happy Sunday!
Love,
Val

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Birchbox August

It is August 25th and I am finally getting to post about this month's Birchbox....woo wee! August has been a wild ride to say the least.

This month's Birchbox is all about Beauty School!


I was kinda excited to see this since the theme is right up my alley.
The pink card that you see above came with all kinds of beauty tips on it. For a Cosmetologist, it wasn't anything new, but to the average person, I am sure it was very helpful.



Let's get to the good stuff..

First Up: Beauty Fixation Tinted Lip Conditioner,full size $5



Let me say that this sample is awesome since it came with 24 applications! I have never seen anything like it..


When I pulled the weird pink Q-tip out, it was kind of creepy, like I was going to have some dental work done or something. I then read the directions and snapped the end off that had the little red line on it and watched in awe as the liquid inside moved down to the cotton tip on the bottom.



Wow. I applied it to my lips and have to say it feels nice. I think the best thing is that you get a new applicator every time you use it so it keeps bacteria at bay. Jury is still out on how well the lip conditioner works, but the packaging and application sure got my attention.


Next: Caldrea Hand Soap $10.50 full size



Both scents smell wonderful. It cleans your hands. It's cool. I don't really know what else to say about hand soap. PSA: wash you hands to stop the spread of germs! Amen!.....that was a little confusing.


Moving On: Blue Copper 5 Firming Elasticity Repair, $60 full size



I must confess I haven't tried it on my face yet, only my hand, but it does smell rather refreshing. The fact that it has Copper in it is a bonus because Copper is known for stimulating collagen production. It is a very light moisturizer which is a plus since I find that most anti-aging creams are too heavy for my skin.


Up Next: Viva la Juicy La Fleur by Juicy Couture, full size $70



I liked the smell, but I don't think I could wear it. It is very floral and I am not a big fan of that. If you are someone who loves floral fragrances, then this is for you.

Finally: Schick Hydro Silk Razor


When I first saw this I thought that my hubby had tampered with my birch box. He didn't, but it did cross my mind that he put this razor inside so I would shave my legs a little more often. He's such a lucky guy.

Umm...I'll be honest, this thing scares me. It has like 18 blades on it for cutting down forests.



  I think I should have someone in the house with me whenever I use it in case of emergency. It says that is has a water activated serum that moisturizes your skin as you shave. I'll have to get brave and let you know how it works. Right now I am going to go buy a lot of band aids. If you have any forests that need cut down, then this razor is for you.

Well, that is it for Birchbox August, I am going to go enjoy my plump lips, super clean hands and wrinkle free skin while I smell like a flower shop.... and if you happen to see me, try not to notice the band aids.

Have A Happy Saturday!
Love,
Val


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Free Friday

I deemed last Friday, "Free Friday" to celebrate the last weekday of freedom before school started on Monday. I took my two boys and my nephew to the local county preserve to have a picnic and go on a hike.

Okay, actually after the 10th time I yelled, "Quit wrestling on the furniture!!" I decided it was either: A) take them somewhere or B) go find the duct tape. I thought about it and realized that duct tape probably wasn't a viable option, so off to the park we went.

Part of the fun was that I let the boys pick whatever they wanted to eat for lunch from the grocery store. I tried desperately not to cringe as the first stop in the store was the donut case. Then, I tried not to cringe as I picked a donut out of the donut case. (Hey, we were hiking, the calories don't count when you're doing something healthy to offset them.) I told them that anything goes, as long as there is some sort of "lunch type" food involved. I don't do this...well, ever...so my guys thought it was really something special.

We soon arrived at the park and unloaded our treasures and began our feast. Did you know it is a rule that all picnics must include Combos? No? Well, consider yourself informed.


The cutie pie on the right is my baby and cutie pieon the left is my nephew Gabe. My baby is olfactory gland oriented, especially when a sugar coated donut is involved. Poor Gabe!



This is my oldest, Ben. I'm not sure what this face is all about, in fact, I probably wouldn't understand if he told me. Mom's are weird that way.


Then I lost their attention for a few minutes...we had a White Tailed Deer spotting, a momma and two babies, so that was all we could talk about for a little while.

I'm not sure if you can make out the deer, but I tried to snap the pics with my phone..





There are certain rules that boys have ingrained into their DNA, ....a couple of them include..

#1 If there is a stick...you must use it as a sword.

#2 If there is mud anywhere in a 50 foot radius of your being, you must go get in it....No matter what your Mom is yelling.


another one that has no picture to accompany it is..

#3 IF there is a rock, you must throw it....no matter what your Mom is yelling.

 
After lunch, the march through the woods began..

There is a wonderful observation tower that is quite a climb, but we all made it up to the top. What a sight, you can see clear over into Indiana for miles..
 
 
Proof we made it..


The next leg of our journey, I did not photograph, mainly because it would have been a lot of pictures of me sweating and making terrible faces. Let me explain..

After we climbed back down the tower, we ventured on down the trail to the river. We had a fun time looking for critters and ...looking for critters, boys tend to do this a lot. When we decided to go back to the picnic area, we had to go back up the trail...with the keyword being "up".
My baby decided to revolt..
and sit...
and whine..
and sit.
  So, being the svelte, in shape Momma that I am, (quit laughing) I threw him up on my shoulders and started hiking back up. About halfway back up, I am pretty sure I started hallucinating, it was excruciating. I have now decided that this should be a leg in the Iron Man competitions. I could just hear it now..
"And..next up, everyone grab a 3 year old and start climbing the hill..." I think we could make some grown men cry with this..I'm definitely on to something here.

After I made it back up the hill..and I finished crying.. we went and played on some playground equipment for a little while. Then, it was time to go back home, so we loaded up and headed out.

The best part..when we got home, not one boy was energetic enough to wrestle anymore..in fact, no one moved off the couch for quite a while.

The worst part...Iwasn't energetic enough to wrestle anymore..in fact,I didn't move off the couch for quite a while.

Have a Happy Wednesday!
Love,
Val


Monday, August 20, 2012

Why I Hate Pantene:Beauty Q & A

First, let me start by saying that this post is really about the difference in over the counter haircare products that you would find at the drugstore versus haircare sold in salons. I am not just picking on Pantene, but it will have it's moment of reckoning, so hang in there for a few minutes.

Here's a little story for you...it's not real, just a story, so I am not referring to anyone I know, just in case you were worried.

Jane went to Macy's one afternoon because they were having a blow-out sale. She had been eyeing this beautiful silk blouse all summer and it was finally going to be in her price range. She swiped her credit card so fast it would make your head swim, and headed home with her new treasured piece of wardrobe.
She has worn it a total of 4 times since she bought it and every time at least 3 people compliment her on her blouse, saying how great it looks on her. Jane knows that this splurge is going to be in her wardrobe a long time and is truly going to take care of it. Then, because it needs a little freshening up, Jane decides it's time to clean the blouse, so Jane wads it up and throws it in the washing machine on the regular cycle with a 1/2 cup of Tide.

I'll give you 2 guesses on what happened to Jane's coveted blouse, and the first one doesn't count.

This story, to me, is the equivalent of a someone going into a salon, spending their hard earned money on a fabulous hair color service and then going home and using drugstore brand shampoo. Most women spend anywhere between $50 - $250 on their hair color every 4 to 8 weeks, but then those same women will turn around and use a shampoo that costs $7 at Wal-Mart...hmmm.


Now, your question is, so what's the difference that makes it such a crime against humanity to use OTC shampoo on my color treated hair? The answer can be found in any high school chemistry class across the country, and that is .... pH. Most services performed in a salon that use any kind of chemical are typically very alkaline on the pH scale. Color, perms, retexturizers...they all fall on the alkaline side, some more than others. The thing is, that after we perform these services, the main goal in keeping your hair color looking great and lasting a long time, is to get the pH back to neutral, or as close as possible. So, most salon quality color care shampoos and conditioners are acidic on the pH scale in order to counter balance that, thus helping your color stay beautiful and stay put longer.






This is the key behind all the hype of "sulfate-free" shampoos. Sulfide is used as an emulsifier, or "sudsing" agent, in most shampoos. The problem is that sulfide is very alkaline, so it can actually speed up the process of fading. THe sulfate-free shampoos are very acidic, which of course, is the best choice for color treated hair.


Another big difference in salon haircare is concentration. Salon shampoo, conditioners, and styling products tend to be very concentrated, so it actually takes a lot less product to achieve the same result. Many studies have been done and many have found that the price per use of drug store products versus salon products are not that far off...just something to think about.

One more point to be made is this...if you received a color and then went home and washed it in Prell (yikes!) and then noticed the color looks faded and flat, is it the salons fault the color didn't hold? Hmm...I would have to say no, if your colorist did recommend that you use salon products. Some salons even have a disclaimer that says they can't be held responsible for chemical services if you do not use their recommended products. I find this a little harsh and don't use a disclaimer, but I do make sure all of my clients are well aware of what they should be using before they walk out the door.

Now, this leads me to Pantene..ugh.

We all know the ads..the girl with beautiful, long, flowing, shiny hair, smiling and frolicking around. It makes you want that hair, total brilliant marketing at it's best. Here is the problem. Pantene Pro V has an ingredient that is called Polyquaternium 10. This ingredients is used to get the slick, shiny feel that Pantene is known for. Unfortunately this ingredient builds up on the hair over time and can cause a barrier effect. It is hard to color, perm or even highlight through this once there is a significant build up on the hair. I personally have had perms not take at all because someone was an avid user of Pantene. Color can actually wash right off the hair because it wasn't able to soak into the hair strand and be properly deposited. In general, it's nasty stuff, and it takes a long time to remove it. I beg of you to not use Pantene if you are having chemical services done to your hair.

Now that I've said that, if you are a person who doesn't do any chemical services to your hair, or a guy with inch long hair all over your head...use whatever you want. You can use bar soap for all I care, it really doesn't matter. But, if you have invested your hard earned cash and time in a great color by a great colorist...please protect that investment and use what your stylist or colorist recommends..your hair will thank you.

Have a great, Pantene free Monday,
Love,
Val

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Goat Cheese & Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

It's Sunday, so it's recipe time. I came up with this easy pasta salad one day when I had a ton of cherry tomatoes coming out of the garden. It's super simple, just a few ingredients, and great for a pot luck. I hope you enjoy it!

Goat Cheese & Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

First, begin to prepare about 1/2 of a box of linguine according to the directions on the box.
In the meantime, cut in half (or thirds depending on size) some cherry tomatoes until you get about 2 cups and set aside. Then crumble about 4 oz of goat cheese. Next, chop about 2 heaping Tablespoons of fresh basil leaves and 2 cloves of fresh garlic.

Put the crumbled goat cheese and garlic in the bottom of a large bowl..

Then, drain your pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water, and place the hot pasta on top of the cheese.

Tip: Not a fan of goat cheese? ...or simply haven't ever experienced the joy that is goat cheese? ...well, there is no help for you. Just kidding! First of all, goat cheese is quite tangy in taste, so if you find it a little overwhelming, just use 2 oz of cream cheese with 2 oz of goat cheese, or completely substitute it altogether.

Next, layer your tomatoes and basil on top of the pasta...


...and add a squeeze of lemon.




Combine everything together by stirring slowly. The hot pasta has melted the cheese by now and you should have a bowl of creamy goodness. If you find the mixture too thick, add a few splashes if the pasta water to loosen it up until you get the consistency you want.





Generously add salt and pepper to taste and let stand for a while to let the flavors come together.
This dish is best served at room temperature, making it a great pot luck dish. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!




Have a great Sunday!
Love,
Val



Friday, August 17, 2012

closet organization idea

The closet organization idea is coming up, but first, as promised, I am going to share with you what I did with my creative chalkboard project from Wednesday. Like I said in Wednesday's post, I took photographs of my son for his 6th birthday...





The chalkboard is clearly out shown by his cuteness!



Oh, that face! Momma just wants to squeeze it...
and give him a smooch...
and make him roll his eyes...
because he's six now..
and clearly to cool for that stuff.

I say, "Too bad, buckaroo! I carried your 9 lb 6 oz. baby behind around, labored for 12 hours and delivered you unto the world." That means I get kisses whenever I want, right? Right!

I also took some without the chalkboard






While I was at it, my good friend and long time co-worker wanted me to take some pics of her little ball of cuteness...


So sweet!

So I think the chalkboard efforts were worth it, don't you?


And now for my closet idea..

I have a six year old that loves to dress himself. Which is great!.....Unless we have to be somewhere. Then people tend to wonder why I dressed my son in green shorts and an orange shirt. Then, I have to explain that I have a six year old that loves to dress himself.
It's a vicious circle.


So, I have decided to hang all of his school "outfits" together. Now, all he has to do is take the hanger out of the closet and on it, is the entire outfit for the day. It takes the guess work out of matching the shorts to the shirts. Then, because I'm obviously a genius, (you can quit laughing) I got the bright idea to take some clothes pins and do this with them..




(I had to redo the Monday & Wednesday pins because I realized that they were upside down.)

Now, on Sunday evenings, we will go into his room, and he will pick out his clothes for the week by placing the clothes pins on the hangers. It will (hopefully) take some of the "time-killing" decision making out of the rush of our mornings and give him the independence he craves. There is also a rule that once he puts the pins on the clothes and closes the closet..that is it..no playing switcheroo on Thursday morning because he changed his mind. The only exception is weather. So, we will see how this works for us since Monday morning is the first day of school.
Yikes!
Have a Great Friday!
Love,
Val