My Go-To Smoothie Recipe 

BlenderI don’t have a cutsie name for the green smoothie I start my day with every morning but I would describe it as well-balanced and tropical.  It’s made with spinach, pineapple, orange and coconut.  The spinach is packed full of vitamins, the fruit adds sweetness and potassium, and the coconut milk adds plenty of fat to keep me full.  I usually have this with eggs for breakfast but will sometimes just take the smoothie alone to go.  No, I do not have a Vitamix.  I use this blender by KitchenAid.  I would recommend this blender because it’s only $100 and has never given me any issues.  I make a big batch of the smoothie, pour it into silicone ice cube trays and freeze.  When I want to make a smoothie I just blend a 5 cubes with a half cup of water. Surprisingly to me the cubes keep their flavor for well past a week in my freezer.  I love making the smoothie with frozen cubes because it creates a refreshing, slushy effect and the smoothie will stay cold for a long time on the go (I love Working Glasses because they are inexpensive, durable, and easy to clean).

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Weekly Recap – March 4, 2017

Material

what I wanted
Glossier

I’ve read so many glowing reviews of Glossier products that I finally had to try some myself. I opted to try out two of the brand’s most popular make up items first: Generation G lip color and Boy Brow. So far I’m pretty impressed. I love the lip color, I ordered Cake and I love how natural the color looks and the soft formula. Boy brow so far seems very similar to Mac Brow Gel. I like the small tube because it’s great to throw in a bag. I would buy both products again but I think they should be at a lower price point considering the amount of product. Glossier did throw in some swag with my purchase – a sheet of stickers, a plastic bubble envelop make up bag, and a poster.

Various Keytags

I keep seeing these everywhere. I’m in love with the minimally designed, sassy key tags. The simple look of the key tag keeps the focus on the humor.  If you just glanced you wouldn’t notice the words on the key tags but the words are what make it so clever.  I’m probably going to order this one

Various Projects can also make custom key tags and I’ve seen some pretty great ones on Instagram.  I also appreciate that the e-commerce platform that is Apple Pay friendly.  Apple Pay is so easy to use that it makes me instantly more willing to buy something.

Media

entertaining things


Big Little Lies on HBO 

I’m sure the book is better, I haven’t read it yet, but I’m absolutely addicted to the TV series Big Little Lies.  The A-List cast delivers episode after episode.  There’s mystery, glamour, petty drama, beautiful sweeping views of Monterey Bay and all set to melodic, beautiful music – everything I want in a TV show.   It’s HBO’s classy, socially acceptable version of Real Housewives.  Read more about Big Little Lies in this great piece on the show from The New Yorker.


Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Cathy Heller 

This podcast offers great inspiration on turning a passion into a paycheck and practical advice for dreamers from people who are making a living doing a creative job. The author is a singer/songwriter who discovered she could make a living of music if she focused on licensing her music instead of pursuing a record deal.  Even listeners who aren’t interested in quitting their 9-to-5 will appreciate the interesting stories in each episode.

Kitchen

what’s cooking


Swedish Mazariner 



I’ve been interesting in baking something with frangipane (almond pastry cream) for a long time and this week the stars finally aligned.  Earlier in the week I stumbled upon this recipe for Mazariner and on Saturday I ate a blueberry frangipane tart from my favorite coffee shop, The White Rabbit Café in Greensburg.  I used the recipe but instead of making mini tarts I just made a full-sized tart.  I loved this recipe for the wonderful flavor – the frangipane has a perfectly balanced amount of almond – you can taste it but it was not overwhelming.I loved the cardamom in the crust and the orange in the glaze. The texture of the frangipane was very nice – sort of a creamy spongey and very moist. Mine baked kind of unevenly but I’m almost sure it’s because of my oven temperature was off or uneven. If I did it again I would add orange zest to the glaze, add cherries to the frangipane and top the tart with sliced almonds.  The tart paired perfectly with an almond milk cappuccino.

 

Week in Review

This Week

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This week I thought a lot about working on building my capsule wardrobe with quality basics. I’m also looking to upgrade certain pieces with a more polished-looking grown up version. I’m trading in my well-worn Minnetonka moccasins for these beautiful loafers from Everyone.  While I have never bought anything from Everlane I have heard glowing reviews from friends and I admire their business ethics.

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Whole 30

A few words on my experience with Whole 30

A little two years ago I started hearing a lot of buzz about a diet called Whole 30.  Well, diet is the wrong word.  Whole 30 is less of a diet and more of a reset button on eating habits.  This reset button comes with non-scale victories like clearer skin, better sleep, more energy, etc.  After researching the diet I decided to give it a try.  After all, it’s only 30 days.  My boyfriend and I were looking for some antidote to months of feeling pudgy and sluggish. I won’t go over all the specific rules of the diet, because all the information is available on the Whole 30 website.

At first I tried to do it without eating meat – only limited fish – but quickly caved and started to add some meat to the diet.  This was tough for me because I have avoided meat for the past several years of my life.  The key thing for me was that the diet embraces responsibly sourced protein which I feel less guilty about eating.  The main reason I stopped eating meat was because I do not believe in factory farming because of it’s negative effects on the environment, the animals, and the people working in that industry.

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Day One 2 allowed me to track my experiences with Whole 30.  I can’t say enough about how easy and convenient it was to use.

On my second go around I feel much more prepared and I know how to combat the obstacles that make this diet difficult.  I recommend doing Whole 30 with a buddy.  It is nice to be accountable to and share meal ideas with someone.  Another thing that helped me was keeping a journal of my experience.  I used the App Day One 2 to track my meals, moods, sleep, and how my body was responding the the changes in my diet.  I tried to take a picture of every meal, snack, cup of coffee, etc. that I ate.  This was great because if I didn’t know what to make myself I could just flip through my pictures until I saw something that looked good.  And the essential thing, I found, to successfully completing this diet is planning and cooking in advance. Cooking Whole 30 compliant meals can be tough.  There is a lot of chopping, marinading, roasting, shopping, prepping involved in cooking all fresh foods.  Last but not least: guacamole. on. everything.

The best unintended result of Whole 30 was that it helped me develop my cooking skills.  Cooking has probably become my favorite hobby over the past two years and this really pushed me outside of my cooking comfort zone.  I saw it as a challenge and found the constraints helped me be even more creative.

A typical day.  

I usually start my day with an egg, a salad of mixed greens dressed with salt, pepper, and a small drizzle of olive oil, and a smoothie (they say not really to have smoothies but I think mine is okay!) of spinach, coconut milk and a few pineapple and orange chunks (I think the smoothie is acceptable because it is mostly spinach and the coconut milk is my breakfast fat).  Once I got sick of eggs I started making coconut-almond crusted chicken nuggets to have with salad for breakfast.  Sometimes I also ate diced roasted potatoes or other vegetables on the side like peppers and onions or something.  I also always have at least one espresso or cup of coffee to start my day.  I’m absolutely not ready to ditch caffeine.

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Breakfast today: one egg, a salad of mixed greens dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper, a small smoothie (spinach, coconut milk, a few cubes of pineapple and orange), an espresso, and a large glass of water.

Eating lunch and dinner at a regular time can sometimes be difficult because I typically work from 1-10.  Usually I pack lunch and dinner eating lunch at 3 and dinner around 6 or 6:30.  This is usually some combination of salads, protein, soups, fruit, and vegetables which I prep ahead and take.  Usually I eat the soup at 3 and eat the salad, protein and fruit during the evening break.  I definitely mix it up and bring a ton of food to work so I’m not tempted by break room snacks or baked goods at coffee shops.  Here are some of the meals I packed:

 

Dinners at home I tried to make fancy and fun whenever I had the time.  This was great and the meals were some of the best dinners we ever made.  My favorite was probably salmon with a side salad – simple but delicious.  We also made a great dish with cod, steak and potatoes, and hamburgers without the bun.  Whatever we had time to cook.  Here are some memorable dinners:

While it could be challenging at times, I ate some of the best food of my life during Whole 30.  I’m so excited for my second time around this month.  I’ll continue to post updates, tips, recipes, etc. during this month.  If you want even more content on my Whole 30 follow me on instagram (@ingeboooo) I post each meal to my Instagram story.

 

 

Herbivore Botanicals Mask Review

Herbivore’s Pink Clay Hyaluronic Acid Mega Moisture Creme Mask ($48)

 

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IMG_0657I bought this mask last September from Sephora and only really used it twice. This is totally out of my own laziness and not a reflection of the quality of the mask at all. I bought this for two reasons: I wanted a hydrating product for winter and the gorgeous packaging (is that bad? I’m just being honest). Initially I was VERY turned off by the separation of the product. I even considered returning it when I saw yellowy goops of oil bubbling between gobs of pink gooey clay. Also, I think the product leaked and the box had an oil stain on it. But that stuff is just a mark of a genuine small-batch, independent beauty company. Speaking of small batch, I don’t think this product is available anymore. That doesn’t mean a true Internet-sleuth couldn’t dig up a jar, it just means Sephora isn’t selling it.

I admire Herbivore Botanicals for their commitment to using high quality ingredients when formulating products. They make a variety of face oils. The most popular on Sephora.com is the Blue Lapis variety, but they have specialized oils for cell rejuvenation, youth preservation, and hydrating glow oil. A short aside on the topic of face oil: I’m a firm believer in face oil, I love layering the stuff all over my face before I go to bed and waking up to baby-soft skin and how smoothly my make up goes after applying it. Oils have become an essential step in my skin care routine. Anyway besides oil they sell facemasks, soaps, lip moisturizer, mists for literally everything, and bath salts.

On to the mask I bought. I am somewhat of a mask-hoarder. I love trying different skin care products and my biggest weakness is a great mask. It’s so fun to see your face transform after slathering on a mask. I like brightening with minty green algae masks and pore vacuuming with charcoal. Masks also deliver amazing results that are both instant and lasting. I am all about a great mask.   Herbivore’s Pink Clay Hyaluronic Acid Mega Moisture Creme Mask, which I promise I will never write out again for the rest of this review, is hydrating without leaving my skin feeling oily. That’s my key takeaway. I like that my skin feels soft and smooth and clean but not, well, too oily. My skin just feels clean and hydrated and nice. Applying the mask is a little messy. I wouldn’t do it without the provided spatula and although some things I’ve read online call it “pre-mixed” I absolutely recommend thoroughly mixing it before use. I let the mask sit for about 20 minutes and it does not ever dry out like other clay masks (probably because of the oils in it) so don’t wait for the mask to dry into a hard layer. I just splashed it off with warm water and then pat my skin with a towel to dry.

Is this the absolutely greatest mask I have ever used? Probably not. It’s better than average and because I admire Herbivore Botanicals I will buy their products again. I mainly bought this mask to support a good company and try out their line. I really want to try out their charcoal products, texturizing hair spray, and lip products.

 

And just for fun and a good laugh, here is my Snap Story quick take of the mask.

Useful Links:

Herbivore Botanicals

Herbivore at Sephora

 

Potted Herbs

Potted herbs for our window sill
Potted herbs in the window sill

The days growing longer and buds popping up on trees and blooming into bright leaves inspired me to add some fresh herbs to my bedroom.  So far the little guys have endured pretty well on my window sill.  I love the way they look and smell.  The pots come from a little flower shop in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood called Toadflax.  The store offers fresh flowers, luxury beauty products, and chic home goods.  It’s an endless supply of perfect hostess gifts- the shop is packed from floor to ceiling with things like gourmet chocolates, jams, and teas, candles, beautiful cashmere socks, home decorations, and specialty one-of-a-kind teams.  It’s the kind of place that sells natural bristled tooth brushes and Marvis Toothpaste, which I reviewed awhile back, you can read about more about the toothpaste here.

At Toadflax the pots were displayed empty
At Toadflax the pots were displayed empty.  They might make nice bathroom or kitchen organizers.

I walked by these charming pots sitting in the window of Toadflax a few times before I bought them.  I love how they look a little lopsided as if they were actually hand crafted.  They are made by a California company called HomArt.  Unfortunately I’m not sure how they could be procured online (but I also have not put a lot of effort into it).  I thought herbs would be a good filler and the green leaves of Rosemary and Sage would look nice in them.  As a nice bonus the herbs add a nice fresh smell to my room.  Because there is no opening on the bottom I added rocks to the bottom before transferring the herbs into the pots.  So far I have been really on top of watering them and I hope they last at least through the summer.  I’d love to use the Rosemary for cooking.  Right now I’m just really please with how they look.

 

 

 

Here is a picture of the plants potted out on the deck.  I also took some pictures of the pots on the window sill but the lighting does not do them justice.

 

 

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I am absolutely not a gardener so if anyone has advice about how to keep these alive please let me know!

 

 

Jerome, AZ

View from the MountainLast year I visited Phoenix, AZ and one of the more memorable day trips was to a little old mining town called Jerome.   Location wise Jerome is Southwest of Sedona and Flagstaff but directly North of Phoenix / Scottsdale.  The drive, like anywhere in the American Southwest, is stunning.  Cactus-lined roads wind up and around mountains trails and bright cerulean skies pop against the rocky terrain.  I’m from the midwest and am used to flat fields as in all directions so to me Arizona is practically another planet.  I’m grateful my hosts drove, allowing me to gape moronically at the striking natural beauty that never seemed to end.

A big J marks the side of the mountain you drive up to find Jerome, I guess this is an old Southwest tradition. While scaling the trail we stopped and pulled over to check out an old car abandoned in a ditch. I’m not skilled in dating old cars but it looked at least 60 years old. This was the first forgotten old thing of many we saw that day.

Here's the car we saw in the ditch.
Here’s the car we saw in the ditch.  Who knows how long it has been there just covered in rust like that.

The actual town of Jerome is just like any other old, rural town in America. Relics of the past are not pristinely kept for the sake of preserving history but rather survive because of a, “if it ain’t broke” mentality. We drove past old saloon and shops, an ice cream parlor, police station… the staples of any small town, and kept on up the hill. At the very top we stopped at one of many local haunts, the Jerome Grand Hotel.

The Hotel has been the big draw since the being featured on an episode of Ghost Hunters or something like that. During it’s past life the hotel served as a hospital for the miners and surrounding town. It was considered a good hospital with modern technology but the death toll is massive, averaging out to at least one per day for the about twenty years it operated. The death count, an the original Otis elevator, and years of rumors have won the hotel a spot on the list of the country’s most haunted places. We asked politely and were given some keys to go exploring. I didn’t get the haunted vibe and none of my mirror pictures had orbs. But I don’t know if I’d want to stay there overnight.

The next stop on our trip was the old ghost town. The town is really just an old junkyard with some buildings and just a few residents. I have no idea what the few people who do live there do other than charge admission to look at an old one-room school house and gas station. We met a man with a little dog who was using a machine to saw logs I think. The dog was friendly but the guys living there were not—there were a lot of threatening signs to back my theory.

Jerome is a memorable and worthwhile trip. The drive from Phoenix is beautiful and the old town is definitely an interesting slice of life in the old Southwest. While the haunted aspect might be a little blown out of proportion but the town is definitely full of antique charm. We didn’t stop for dinner or drinks but there are plenty of places for that, too.

 

Spring Beauty Favorites

I’ve been looking ahead to spring and rocking a no make up, natural look.  Here are my go-to products to achieve a fresh looking spring face.

Hot Chocolate

ImageWhen the weather looks like this (my actual back yard) and people are throwing around terms like Polar Vortex nothing is more appealing than a little hot chocolate.  Now I can’t hate on Swiss Miss too hard, but, Parisians are the true masters of Le Chocolat Chaud.  Powder packets are a staple in American “rip and dump” cooking.  But you know what tastes better?  Actual melted chocolate.

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1 c. Milk

1/3 c. Chocolate Chips

1/2 tsp. brown sugar

Let me talk about the milk situation for a second.  People are really weird about milk.  I’m team skim milk and it’s honestly the only milk I’ve ever known.  Now I understand that sometimes for cooking skim is not ideal but I usually just use it anyway.  The milk isn’t really the star of this recipe, now is it?  Just use whatever milk you have and I’m sure everything will be fine.  I’m sure a heavier milk would make this taste better but it’s fine with skim milk.  When I want to get fancy I might do like 3/4 skim milk and 1/4 half and half or whatever.  I’m sure almond milk would also be pretty awesome here.

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Anyway the direction is pretty simple.  Just throw the milk in a little sauce pan (it’s better if it has a pseudo spout on the end for the sake of pouring) and put it on medium-lowish heat.  It shouldn’t boil.  Now I chose to get fancy and use two milks here but again the milk thing is really not a big deal.  Whisk that milk until it’s a little foamy looking.  Here’s an action shot.

Now turn the heat down a bit and slowly pour in the chocolate chips and brown sugar.  The brown sugar is critical, it makes the stuff taste like a cookie.  I caution the chip pouring because of the splash factor.  This hot chocolate is so good you won’t want to waste even a single drop.  When you pour in the chips stir it up until it’s all melted and the mixture is a really nice rich brown.  Now it isn’t going to look dark enough but as the chocolate melts the color deepens so just be a little patient before dumping in more chocolate (I’ve made this mistake).

And that’s it!  This is really strong so serve it in an espresso cup.  It’s not a lot of effort and usually the ingredients are on hand but it’s way more impressive than powder packet hot chocolate.  A little suggestion, if I may: skip the marshmallows.  This is super sweet and it doesn’t need anything add ins.  I know mini marshmallows would look adorable in this mini cup of hot chocolate, but it would just be a mistake.  You have to be strong and resist.

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MAC Addict

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A few days ago I splurged a little bit at the MAC store.  Instead of keeping the joys of my custom eye shadow palette or obsession with Fix+ to myself I decided to write about it.  During my visit I picked up a custom eyeshade palette, the MAC 217 brush, Brow Set, Fix+, Cremesheen Glass, and a bottle of Snob.  I’m going to talk about the eye shadow and Fix+ spray.

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Making a custom eye shadow palette was an impulse decision.  I’m a big fan of the Naked 2 (and who isn’t?) but I wanted something small for on the go.  My heart was set on picking up one of the Yves Saint Laurent quads.  The beautiful packaging and shimmery pigments compelled me on Sephora.com, but in person I found the sets lackluster.   At MAC I realized a better move was creating my own palette with four perfect colors.  The artists helped me pick a good combo that was pretty close to the colors I use most in the Naked 2 palette (Bootycall, Tease, Half-Baked, and Suspect). The colors here are Naked Lunch, Haux, Wood Winked, and Mulch.

The way that MAC custom palettes work makes so much sense to me as a consumer.  The palette itself is made to last.  The eye shadow pans are magnetized and can easily be changed.  So if I run of out of one color I easily can buy a new pan and replace it instead of having to wait until all the colors are used up.  Another perk—if I get sick of a color I can just change it out.  The palette costs $9 and each eye shadow pan is $12.  Individually packaged eye shadows (not pans but full containers) cost $15 for the same amount of product.  To complete my on the go kit I also grabbed the 217 brush because it can be the only brush I need for basic eye.

I love shopping at the MAC store because I learn something new every visit.  I picked up a great tip about wetting a synthetic eye shadow brush with Fix+ and using it to get a much bolder eye color.  Fix+ is basically a miracle product.  I was reluctant to buy it because it seems like a $21 bottle of water, but honestly it’s so much more.  It can be sprayed on the naked face as a skin refresher, used to set color, and in the words of Beyoncé, “it makes your skin look like skin again” after putting on make up.  (You know that icky look of foundation on skin?  When you can totally tell someone is wearing make up because of that weird, unnatural texture?  Yeah, Fix+ takes care of that).  I love everything about Fix+ its light, clean scent and it’s incredible result.

Here is a swatch of Urban Decay’s Chopper applied with the Fix+ trick and without.  I’m pretty impressed with the result—perfect for some bolder going out type make up.  With Fix+ on the brush the color goes on more like paint.  Something I really like about this is that no flecks of color stray off the eyelid (does anyone else have this problem?  I always get shadow on the side of my nose).

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