(Ok, so there are two, but I’ll talk about my Ninja another time.) The kitchen appliance we use every single week, without fail, is our slow cooker. Heck, we love using a slow cooker so much that we have 2!
Our first one is a secondhand 4qt (?) that some friends gave us when they were moving. We don’t know how we survived so long without one. Look, I can follow a recipe like any other competent human being, but Jeff is definitely the cook in our household (I’m sous chef!) because he actually enjoys cooking. Regardless, neither of us feels like cooking during the week after working a full day and commuting, so we meal prep lunch and dinner on weekends. We struggle to find recipes that:
don’t have a lot of time-consuming prep work
aren’t a total calorie bomb.
It’s a tall order to fill, but we’re slowly building a collection. For lunch, we’ll usually try to do something that’s a meat and veggie all-in-one, like a chili or a hearty stew (minus potatoes). Trying to prep 10 servings of something like that all at once is how we ended up with our second slow cooker. We were trying a new chili recipe, and realized in the middle of prepping the ingredients that our little slow cooker wasn’t going to be big enough. We had to find something we could pick up in a store that day, so we ended up ordering this 6qt for pick-up from Target:
We absolutely love it! You can program it to cook based on the temperature reading from the detachable meat probe, which is perfect for things like roasts. We tend to program the time, instead, and it will automatically switch to “Warm” mode when the timer goes off. If we hadn’t been under a time crunch, it would have been nice to get a slow cooker with a delay start feature and/or Wifi capability, but since we use it during the weekend, this is great, and it was reasonably priced. We always use a slow cooker liner, so cleaning up is super easy. Being able to run both slow cookers at once, one for lunch and one for dinner, is such a tremendous time saver. The hard part is done before the week even starts, so it eliminates the classic “It’s been a long day, and I don’t feel like cooking, so let’s just pick something up” excuse.
For dinner, we’ll usually do some sort of meat entrée and then just steam fresh veggies each night, since that’s super easy and quick, and the veggies are never as good reheated. Again, it can be difficult to find a recipe that meets all of our criteria, so we get excited when we strike gold! This week, we tried a new recipe, and it’s definitely one we’ll be using again:
It makes 6-8 servings; by making 8 servings using a 3lb pork loin roast, low-sodium Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar with no added sugar, the nutrition facts according to the Recipe feature on MyFitnessPal came out to:
Keep in mind that those numbers include the sauce that you make at the end and pour over the roast, which you don’t end up eating most of. We sliced the roast prior to cooking to make it easier to portion out, and we cooked it on high for 6 hours (we’d probably do 5 next time) so that it came out tender but not completely falling apart. Jeff was concerned that the vinegar taste was going to be overpowering because of how much it calls for, but the honey complements it really nicely and balances the flavor out. I definitely recommend it!
Do you have a slow cooker? Where do you find tasty healthy recipes? Which kitchen appliance can you not live without? Leave a comment, and let me know!
Sunday is my day to prepare for the week ahead, both literally and mentally. We get our grocery shopping done on Saturday so that we can meal prep on Sunday. Any last-minute laundry gets done. Basically anything that we won’t have time to do during the week gets taken care of.
My favorite part, though, is a ritual I started for myself a few months ago: Spoil Me Sundays. I’ll do whatever beauty treatment(s) my body needs that day, whether it’s a mask (or two), a hair treatment, a mani/pedi, or anything else. It’s about taking the time to fully charge myself for the week ahead so that when I walk into the office on Monday morning, I’m on my A-game, ready to roll.
This week I used a few products; some are new, others are tried-and-true favorites. Let’s dive in!
KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub with Chemical + Physical Exfoliation
My workout this afternoon was a low-impact HIIT that had me sweating like crazy. Before I turned on the shower, I hopped in and rubbed this on my arms and legs to exfoliate off all the grime, which felt fantastic. I use it about once a week to help prevent the Keratosis pilaris (KP) that I get on my upper arms. The consistency reminds me of buttercream frosting with large sugar crystals mixed in. It feels great and leaves my skin noticeably smoother. One thing to note: the active ingredients in this product can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so don’t forget your SPF!
16oz is a good amount of product, especially considering how long it lasts when you only use it once a week. Before sales tax, the price comes out to about $2.88/oz, which isn’t awful, but there are other so many other exfoliants at different price points to choose from. Full disclosure, I bought this during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty back in September, so I paid half price for it. I really like it, and I’d buy it again if there were another sale, but I’d be hard-pressed to pay full price when there are so many other body scrubs out there to try.
Silicone Pack Brush
This little tool is such a simple concept that I wish I’d thought of it! It’s just a little spatula that you use to apply face masks. It reduces messiness, and it helps me use less product because it doesn’t end up all over my fingers. It’s a little tricky to get an even application around the nose area, but it comes with practice. I definitely get more precise application so it’s easier to avoid my hairline and eyebrows.
My only complaint is that I wish the handle was a little longer. Measuring from the top of the silver portion to the end of the handle is only 3″ long, but it’s incredibly easy to clean, and I use it for every single mask I apply, regardless of whether it’s a thinner consistency peel-off mask or a thicker clay mask.
7th Heaven Black Seaweed Peel-Off Deep Pore Detox Mask
from Montagne Jeunesse
My first mask of the day was a new one I’d never tried before. I got this as a stocking stuffer from my mother-in-law for Christmas. I really enjoy peel-off masks for a couple of reasons: 1. I enjoy the exfoliating properties and how it leaves my skin feeling fresher and brighter. 2. The act of peeling it off is so ridiculously gratifying!
This had the typical consistency of a peel-off mask; it had some fragrance to it, but it wasn’t overpowering. Using every last drop in the package, it’s still never going to look like it does on the woman in the picture as far as coverage, but oh well. I didn’t apply it as evenly as I had thought, so some parts hadn’t dried completely when I started to remove it. I got impatient and washed the remaining bits off.
Overall, I think it was fine. I’m not generally a fan of single packet masks because it seems less environmentally friendly, and it makes it a little more difficult for me to be able to see at a glance what products I have in my arsenal. Not to mention, you get more product for your money when it comes in a tube. With only .3oz in a packet, this one comes out to $6.64/oz, while Formula 10.0.6’s Get Your Glow On Peel Mask (I’ll post about it another time) comes out to $2.06/oz for a 3.4oz tube. I probably wouldn’t get this one again, but I can say I’ve tried it.
Rose Gel Mask
from Trader Joe’s
I received this as part of a 3-mask set from my Secret Santa at work this holiday season. Apparently this was a limited-time offer from Trader Joe’s just for the holidays, but at $6.99 for the set of 3, it’s definitely affordable, and it smells lovely, if you like rose scented products. If you’re interested in trying it, you’ll have to keep an eye out to see if they bring it back at a later date.
It has a gel consistency, but it’s not a peel-off mask. After doing the black seaweed mask, this one felt calming on my skin. I enjoy it, but it seems to take awhile to dry (maybe that was just me being impatient again.)
Nail Polish in “I Love My #Selfie”
from Trust Fund Beauty
I first learned about the Trust Fund Beauty brand when I got a bottle of their nail polish in my June 2017 ipsy bag, and I loved it! The colors are vibrant, the staying power, even on my toes, is fabulous, and the full-size bottles are HUGE (.57 fl oz)! Considering that I don’t think I’ve ever used up an entire bottle of nail polish in my life (they usually go bad first), I really like that they also offer sets of 6 mini (.1 fl oz) bottles for somewhere between $28 and $32.
This color came in one of those sets and is just a gorgeous classic red. I tend to go with reds, pinks, and plums on my toes, but since the company I work for has rather conservative views on nail color, I’ll sometimes go with a flashier pedicure like gold or blue. Today felt like a good day for a classic pedi, though. This color goes on very smoothly, it’s not streaky, and I don’t need more than 2 coats to get the deepness I want. I can sometimes go as much as 2 weeks without my pedi even chipping, which is quite a feat, considering that I have to wear close-toed shoes 5 days a week.
Color Dip Nail Polish in “Female Phenom”
from Red Carpet Manicure
I’ve never been great at giving myself a manicure because I get impatient waiting for the polish to dry, and since I’m constantly working with my hands, professional manicures at regular intervals seem like a waste of money. I had tried at-home no-light gel kits before, but I’d still manage to smudge my nails before they completely dried. Needless to say, I was super excited to try Red Carpet Manicure’s Color Dip powder gel polish. Up to 3 weeks of wear, and no smudging!
Their normal starter kit comes with the color “Contract Please,” which is a sheer pink. I wasn’t paying attention and accidentally bought their holiday kit instead when Ulta had it on sale, which came with “Red Carpet” (a red glitter) and “Dream Girl Gold” (a gold glitter). Neither of those are technically something I can wear to work, so I picked up “Female Phenom,” which is a sheer pink. They call it a shimmer, but it’s really more of a pearlescent finish. The whole process is a lot of steps: buff, base coat, color, base coat, color, activator, base coat, buff, activator, two layers of top coat, but there’s no wait time. Worth it!
I never managed to get the glitter ones to last more than a week and a half, but maybe this one will be different, since it’s not a glitter. For some reason they would always start to peel up at the base of my nails–I might not have roughed them up enough with the buffer. I used the one that came in the kit, and it didn’t hold up very well–it was worn out after 2 manicures. I’ll keep you posted on how this color holds!
That concludes my first Spoil Me Sunday of 2018! How do you get ready for a busy week ahead? Have you tried any of these products before? Leave a comment, and let me know!
For the longest time, my beauty regimen was minimal: face wash, toner, acne spot treatment, moisturizer, sunscreen, eyeshadow primer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, done. I might do a clay mask every once in a while, but most of them would dry out before I got around to using them up. I was a Beauty Insider at Sephora, but I basically only shopped there when I ran out of eyeshadow primer or to pick up my free birthday gift. I grew up doing ballet and dance team, so I was no stranger to makeup–I just had little patience for it, and it didn’t really bring me any joy. I did the absolute minimum to (mostly) take care of my skin and to look awake when I showed up to work. I did some research when trying to find the best tattoo coverage method for my wedding (if only I knew what I know now!), but I was functional at best when it came to beauty in general. Everything changed when my husband bought me an ipsy subsription in May of 2017.
From there, I was hooked, and I quickly dove head-first into the world of beauty and self care. I started following some of the ipsy creators on Instagram and Youtube, which led me to other beauty gurus on Youtube; I joined the Ultamate Rewards Program at Ulta (and went Platinum in less than 6 months–oops!), and I stepped up my beauty game, like whoa. I cleaned old, expired junk out of my makeup armoire, started experimenting with new cosmetics and skincare products, got over my aversion to liquid foundation…it’s been a journey already, and I’ve only scratched the surface.
By the end of summer 2017, I felt inspired to work on uncovering my best self, both inside and out. I was soaking up all the beauty knowledge I could, so surface beauty: check. My husband and I already ate healthier than the average American (most of the time–this is all about balance, right?), so eating well: check, but there’s always room for improvement. I wasn’t working out as regularly as I should because I always felt strapped for time and having a back injury made high-intensity workouts nearly impossible–I was also good at coming up with excuses, can you tell? If I left my workout until after work, I’d manage to reason my way out of doing it by the time I got home. So to eliminate that temptation, I decided to start getting up at 4:15 every morning to do a Yoga or Pilates video on Youtube. After just one month, I could feel my back getting stronger, which meant I could start pushing myself to do more challenging exercises. I even managed to start jogging again without being in excruciating pain the next day. Since August 14, 2017, I have worked out every. single. day. Some days that’s a HIIT workout, and other days that’s just a deep stretching session, but I can feel the difference. (My Move Streak on my Apple Watch is a huge motivator–I want to close all the rings every day!) So being active: check.
Between the beauty gurus promoting more products than you could ever use (or afford), the diet “experts” promoting the latest miracle food plan, and the exercise know-it-alls promoting the latest workout regimen that will help you drop 10 pounds in 2 days, it’s an overwhelming amount of information to sift through and assess. Being an expert in any one of those fields is literally a full-time job, and my full-time job isn’t in any of them.
I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I’m willing to share what I learn, and I’m hoping to learn some things from you. Let me tell you about things I’ve tried and love, others I’ve tried that weren’t worth it, and–even more exciting–things I can’t wait to try! Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to introduce me to my next favorite thing that I never would have heard of otherwise! None of us have it all figured out, but let’s see what we can come up with together.