One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta

One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta

cheesy pasta
Photo Credit: RiverBender.com

Cheese.  Sausage.  Pasta.  All in one pot. Ingredients I usually have on hand at all times.  Easy weeknight meal with no prep whatsoever.  Yeah… we eat this quite a bit.  Good thing it’s delicious 😉   This is also a flexible recipe.  I’ve used all shapes and kinds of pasta from farfalle to rotini to whole grain pasta-it all works.  Out of shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese?  No problem!  Use whatever shredded cheese you happen to have on hand.  I adapted my recipe from one I found from RiverBender.com.  You can check out the original here!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Smoked Turkey Sausage, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen diced onion (fresh is fine, too-I use frozen to save time)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about two fresh cloves)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Chicken Broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
  • 8 oz dry pasta (any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, for garnish

Directions

1. Add olive oil to a 4-5 quart saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, pasta, and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
3. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover for about five minutes to allow cheese to melt. Top with sliced scallions and serve.

I typically use a lot more cheese than a cup, because… cheese!  This is a recipe everyone loves.  You can customize it to your taste by using your pasta and cheese of choice, omitting chopped scallions or using green onion, and the list goes on.  I hope you enjoy this one!

Great Exfoliators and Moisturizers to Beat the Dry Weather!

Great Exfoliators and Moisturizers to Beat the Dry Weather!

I meant to write this one before winter began, so I’m a little late on this one.  Hopefully there are a few products here that make the rest of the dry winter months a little more tolerable.  After all, you can only drink so much water in a 24 hour period to try to keep you hydrated!  Moisturizers are great, but exfoliating allows moisturizers to do their thing, so I’ve thrown a few of my favorites in as well.  Let me know what some of your favorites are!

Exfoliators

Soap & Glory Flake Away Body Polish

flake away
Photo Credit: Target

We’ll start with a great body scrub.  I’ve tried numerous body scrubs from those with crushed walnut shells, salt scrubs (yeah… don’t use those if you plan on shaving… you know, the phrase “don’t rub salt into the wound” should tell you why this is a bad idea…), and scrubs that I have no clue what they contain.  This one is hands down my favorite.  Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever tried anything by Soap & Glory I didn’t love.  This scrub contains moisturizing shea butter, sugar, and peach seed powder to naturally exfoliate.  The scent of this scrub can’t even be described-one of my favs!

PMD Beauty Personal Microderm & PMD Clean

pmd
Photo Credit: Sephora

Alright.  Another Facebook ad made me do it.  I had seen ads for Personal Microderm for what seemed like months and as my skin ages and becomes dryer, uneven toned, and hyper-pigmented in areas, I decided to check out the reviews, which surprisingly were mostly positive.  I’ll spare you the details and I’ll post an entire review of the system after I’ve been using it a little longer than four weeks.  I will say in the short term I’ve loved the system as an exfoliator and my skin has never been this smooth and even after using the microderm every week the PMD Clean twice daily when cleansing.  All products seem to absorb much better because of this system.

e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator

lip exfoliator
Photo Credit: Target

Cheap.  Effective.  Look no further.  Seriously!  That’s about it for this one.  This exfoliator is a little more coarse than most I’ve tried, but it’s by far my favorite.  It absorbs well, exfoliates well, and the sugar crystals dissolve well.  Perfect for matte liquid lipstick obsessions.

 

 

Dr. Pedicure Foot Exfoliation Peeling Mask

mask
Photo Credit: Amazon

This one is by far the strangest in my lineup.  It’s a mask… for your feet.  Not kidding.  The package contains a set of plastic booties you put on your feet, secure them with tape so they don’t leak, let the chemicals do their thing, and in about a week or so all of the dead skin on your feet peels continually until it’s completely removed.  Disgusting?  Yes.  Effective?  Also yes.  Soo… whatevs.  If it works it works.  And it does work.  I don’t think any pedicure could’ve given me softer feet than this did.  Now I just do maintenance by using a natural pumice stone.  If my feet ever are in dire need again, I’ll definitely be grabbing another pack of these babies.

Moisturizers

Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter

righteous butter
Photo Credit: Target

Probably my favorite on this list.  Your skin will thank you every time you use this magical body butter.  I’m not exaggerating.  I have yet to find something more moisturizing and longer lasting than this stuff.  Amazing.

 

 

Soap & Glory Heel Genius

heel genius
Photo Credit: Target

Yep.  Another Soap & Glory product.  I’m telling you… they’re so effective, have such an amazing scent, and are so long lasting that I have yet to find anything that tops their products.  I’m able to maintain well manicured feet with this product alone as long as I apply it every night in the winter months and after showering in the summer months.

 

 

 

LilyAna Naturals Eye Cream Moisturizer

eye cream
Photo Credit: Popsugar

I know this isn’t necessarily a full moisturizer, but it’s awesome if my skin needs a little more moisture on dry days.  I use it as an eye cream twice a day, then on other areas of the face as needed and it does the job.

 

 

 

Organic Fractionated Coconut Oil

coconut oil
Photo Credit: Amazon

Coconut oil has always been suggested to me for dry skin, but alas, I can’t handle the greasiness that comes along with it.  So, I did what I usually do: search Amazon for a solution.  What I found was fractionated coconut oil that isn’t “greasy”, but is definitely oily (it’s an oil… so, duh).  In the winter months I put this on my hands, rub it in as much as possible, then apply O’Keefe’s Working Hands afterward, which seems to seal the moisture in.

O’Keefe’s Working Hands

working hands
Photo Credit: Amazon

I use this during the day when my hands become really dry because it’s not greasy, absorbs well, and keeps moisture in for a long time.  As I said before, this works great after applying fractionated coconut oil before bed to lock in the moisture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Holy Grail of Beauty Products. You. Need. This.

The Holy Grail of Beauty Products. You. Need. This.

Foundation?  Nope.  Mascara?  Nope.  It’s not even a makeup product… it’s a makeup REMOVAL product.  Yes.  Micellar Cleansing Water.  There are more uses for it than just removing your makeup.

So, how does it work?  ***CAUTION:  MAY CONTAIN SCIENTIFIC CONTENT.*** . Micellar water contains electrically charged particles called micelles.  Micelles attract dirt and makeup while acting like a solvent to gently remove dirt and makeup that otherwise clog pores.  See?  Not so sciency.

Now, although micellar water is the best makeup remove I’ve found yet, it does have other uses.  I had no idea my trusty micellar water had so many other uses!  I found all of the following uses from Mixed Makeup.

Double Cleansing

What… clean twice?  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Honestly, you do.  All you need to do is wipe makeup, dirt and oil away with a cotton ball or pad soaked with micellar water, then clean with your normal cleanser.  That’s it!  No… seriously.  If your cleanser contains an active ingredient such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid, cleansing with micellar water beforehand actually increases the effectiveness of those ingredients.

Fix Makeup Mistakes

I can’t liquid eyeliner.  Like, at all.  My saving grace?  Micellar water.  You can really use it to fix any makeup mistake since it acts as a solvent.  Lipstick mishap?  No problem!  Q-Tip soaked in micellar water to the rescue!

Makeup Brush Cleaner

While I’ve never tried cleaning my brushes this way (I use my tried and true African Black Soap as a brush cleaner), I”m sure it would work great since micellar water attracts dirt, oil and makeup.  You can add some micellar water to a bowl, swish brushes and let air dry or soak a paper towel with micellar water and rub brushes and let dry.

Fragrance Remover

If you’re like me and not a huge fan of perfume, you may find yourself wanting to remove what you’ve already applied.  Soak a cotton pad with micellar water and rub over the area where perfume was applied.  It will help remove the perfume oils and most of the fragrance as well.

Fale Eyelash Remover

I can honestly say I’ve only worn falsies a handful of times in my life (thanks to my dance team days with “show” makeup…), but I do remember having to pull false eyelashes off after a long day.  A safer way to remove false eyelashes is to soak a cotton pad with micellar water, hold it on the eyelashes for 15-20 seconds to dissolve the glue, and remove the eyelashes.

Freshen Up After the Gym

Dirt and oil can cause breakouts if your skin isn’t cleaned immediately after a workout.  Sometimes you don’t have time to cleanse your skin immediately after the gym.  Solution?  Quick swipe of micellar water on a cotton pad and you’re good to go!  You can even use it on underarms… your friends’ noses will thank you.

Clothing Stain Remover

No stain remover handy?  Blot the stain with micellar water on a cotton pad and it will lift the stain away or significantly lighten the stain.  Coffee drinkers, rejoice!

MIcellar WaterMy favorite brand of micellar water is Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying.  It cleanses and removes makeup gently without drying.  The low price tag doesn’t hurt either.  If you don’t have micellar water in your beauty arsenal, jump on board on this one.  It guarantee it will quickly become one of your favorites!

Brick Hearth Baby Proofing Hack

Brick Hearth Baby Proofing Hack

img_5480Pool Noodles.  The end.  No, I’m totally serious.  Cut a slit down the length of a hollow pool noodle (don’t use the solid kind… they won’t grip the edge of the hearth).  Place the pool noodle on the edge of the hearth and BAM!  Instant noggin protector.  I searched and searched for options for our brick hearth, but everything was minimally protective, hideous, and so, so pricey.  Well, of course the cheapest trick worked!  It’s not the most attractive option, but you could even cover the pool noodle in fabric if you really hated the color.  Sometimes the cheap tricks are the best tricks!

Amazon Fire Kids 7” Tablet Regularly $147.93 for $49.99!

Amazon Fire Kids 7” Tablet Regularly $147.93 for $49.99!

Thanks to a friend of mine, I came across her Facebook post asking parents for recommendations on tablets. I immediately thought, “Nah… our son doesn’t need a tablet. He uses my iPad. That continually runs out of space. Ok… maybe a tablet is a good idea.” So, I read down the feed and parent after parent suggested the Amazon Fire Kids. They said it was durable, easy to use, you can set time limits, and most said it was affordable. Ok, sounds alright. Then my friend posted a link stating that you can get one for $49.99 shipped from HSN. Hmmm… surely they can’t give a better deal than Amazon, right? Wrong! The same tablet is $99 on Amazon.

After reviewing the tablet it sounds like a decent buy. There is a 2 year guarantee from Amazon, a very durable case, and you can add pretty much any app. There are also parental and time controls available.

I checked out the website and the deals listed and the $49.99 (code 187109) is after a $20 code using MasterPass. Well, I’m not signing up for MasterPass, BUT there is a $10 off coupon code for new HSN users. So, $59.99 shipped (code 10NEW) is still a great deal. I’ll post a review when the tablet gets here. This will be a great Christmas gift!

Want a New Keurig K-Cafe for $121.91? Here’s How!

Want a New Keurig K-Cafe for $121.91? Here’s How!

k cafeI saw a commercial for the new Keurig K-Cafe the other night and decided I HAD to have one.  I mean, it would SAVE me money, right?  Lattes, cappuccinos, you can stick the milk steamer in the dishwasher, and you can use NORMAL K-cups?!  SOLD.  So, naturally I whipped out the old Google only to find out they’re normally $199.99.  Well, to be honest, I didn’t think that was too terrible of a price, but the thrifty side of me said no way… I can do better.

Well, I headed on over to Amazon (per my usual deal finding routine) and their deal wasn’t terrible-$179.99 for the system itself or $199.98 for the system in addition to a 24-pack K-cup sampler.  Ok, cool, but still not good enough for me.

I asked my sister-in-law if she had seen them and being a coffee-holic like me I knew she’d have to have one, too.  She sent me a text back and said “they’re $219 at Kohl’s!” and I thought, “Dang, Kohl’s… you usually have great deals! What gives?!”.  Then, it hit me.  Well, it took a while… it hit me at 3 am, but it hit me.  Kohl’s currently has 30% off online.  Free store pickup.  I’m sure there is also a miscellaneous $10 off for some reason or other.  Are they doing Kohl’s cash right now?!  Does RetailMeNot have a rebate?!  The possibilities are endless!!!!  So, here’s the breakdown:

RetailMeNot

Sign up for a RetailMeNot account if you don’t already have one.  They typically have rebates on all major retailers for some purchase or another.  Yes, even Amazon!  When you sign up with your account, look up Kohl’s on their website to activate their $10 cash back on $110 or more online purchase option.  I’ve had great luck with these cash back deals lately.  I redeem mine via PayPal.  They deposit it right into your account so you can use it on a future online purchase or you can choose to have it direct deposited to your bank account.  Sweet.  Deal.  Next, head on over to Kohl’s.

Kohl’s Deals

Now you’re ready to pile on the savings in your Kohl’s cart.  Add the Keurig K-Cafe to your cart.  Next, apply these deals:

  • APPLE30 -30% off your purchase with a Kohl’s charge
  • NOVHOME10-$10 off home purchase of $50 or more
  • Select store pickup to receive an extra $5 in Kohl’s cash
  • You’ll receive $10 in Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent, so you’ll receive $20 in Kohl’s cash

Alright.  There you have it.  Your grand total will be $156.91, $10 cash back rebate from RetailMeNot, and $25 in Kohl’s cash for a grand total of $121.91.  You’re. Welcome.  Now, if only all of my good ideas would come at a time more convenient than 3 am… I’ll work on it.  Go make yourself a latte!

Update!

Looks like Kohl’s has some competition with Best Buy! Best Buy now has this machine with a bonus of 24 k-cups for $179.99 and a $30 Best Buy gift card with purchase. Score! Either way, you can’t lose. By the way… I’m pretty sure if I had bought as many lattes as I have already made with this thing from Starbucks it would have paid for the machine 😉

I Tried a Few More Pricey Skincare Brands So You Don’t Have To!

I Tried a Few More Pricey Skincare Brands So You Don’t Have To!

I have tried it all.  I mean ALL.  I had flawless skin my entire childhood and nearly through my teens.  I started having acne problems around the time I became a sophomore in college.  Great.  I think I would rather I had suffered from acne in my teens than in college.  Nothing I tried worked.  I went from dermatologist to dermatologist and nothing worked.  Some things worked for a bit, most things dried my skin out like crazy, and others made my skin even oilier.  I wouldn’t say I have oily skin and I wouldn’t say it’s dry either.  I tried diet changes, I tried not wearing makeup, I tried wearing more makeup, I took every over the counter cream, every oral antibiotic, and even… Accutane.  Accutane, guys.  You know, the medication that has too many lawsuits against it to count?  Sure, it promises that if you take it for a few months you’ll never experience acne again.  That worked for a hot minute, then bam.  Back to my normal breakouts.

I had given up all hope and just tried random face washes and topical creams suggested by friends to no avail.  I switched makeup brands now and then and just accepted my fate.  After having kids my skin is all over the place, so every now and then I try different products to see if a miracle will happen.  Here are my reviews of the Dermalogica MediBac and Rodan + Fields Unblemish lines.

Dermalogica MediBac

Dermalogica

Expensive?  You bet.  I sprung for the kit and bought it at Ulta without a discount ($40 and usually a free gift is given online).  I shopped around a bit and found that the full trial kit is about the same no matter where it is purchased.

It is typical to wait a period of 4-6 weeks to determine if a product is working on adult (30-something) skin.  I used the products for around 2 1/2 months or so.  Here are some things I liked about this system:

Pros

  • My skin felt extremely clean after cleansing-very smooth, not oily, but it didn’t seem excessively dry as it does with some other systems.
  • This system uses salicylic acid, so it won’t stain clothes or towels (oh, the horror of benzoyl peroxide…).
  • It is targeted toward adult acne.  Unlike most systems, this is formulated for ADULTS.  Adults get… wrinkles.  Other systems don’t really take that into consideration.  This system does.
  • I liked that this had a night clearing lotion as well as a lotion formulated for day.  The night clearing lotion was targeted toward fighting acne while the day seemed more important to keep my skin moisturized.
  • There weren’t a million steps-just wash, put on a lotion.  It did come with a mask that they suggest using every few days, which I did like.  It was the first mask that I felt actually did anything for my skin.  It felt smoother, my pores felt smaller, and my skin didn’t feel completely dried out like it can sometimes.

 Cons

  • Price.  Each tiny bottle of this stuff runs around $50.  I did however manage to purchase from Target online at a discount (thanks, gift cards from diaper purchases!!!) as well as a discounted price from Nordstrom thanks to Nordstrom Note rewards.
  • The moisturizer doesn’t contain an SPF.  I felt this was rather odd since this system targets adult acne problems.  Most adult systems contain an SPF moisturizer to combat and prevent signs of aging.
  • It didn’t eliminate the core problem I was having: acne.  The system began strong, so I purchased full versions of each item in the system (ouch… that was a mistake).  This was so disappointing when my acne started to return after around 8-9 weeks.
  • It didn’t seem to reduce old acne marks or redness, which was a major reason I purchased an adult acne kit.  For some reason I now have more red pigmentation in my cheeks than I used to.  This product seemed to increase this problem.

Overall this system made my skin feel great, but it didn’t fix the problem: acne.  It seemed to for a while, but then kind of went in reverse, which is what always seems to happen.  After purchasing each pricey item, it all quit working.  Talk about disappointing.  Reluctantly, I moved on to Rodan + Fields.

Rodan + Fields Unblemish

RF

Ugggghhhhh… you guys.  Believe me when I say I did NOT want to have to resort to this.  Why?  I want to walk into a store (ok… really I want to just go on Amazon, but you get the point…), grab whatever product I need, and go, WHEN and WHERE I choose.  So, naturally, I went to Amazon.  Alright, Amazon is charging $190-something for this crap.  NEXT!

Ebay.  Ebay!  I forgot about Ebay! Found the entire kit brand new, sealed and in its original sealed box for $125-woo hoo! Yeah… I know, that’s a discount… insane, huh?

My Unblemish Routine

I modified the Unblemish routine a bit for various reasons.  First of all, the system says to use it once a day until you know how it will affect your skin.  I have a fairly greasy T-zone, but the rest of my face tends to dry out very, very easily (especially in the winter months).  I figured I might be sticking to the once-a-day instructions for this system since benzoyl peroxide can be very drying for skin.

Using the system once daily seemed to work nicely with some dryness, so that’s what I went with.  Here is the routine I’ve been using for the past few months:

Morning

In the morning I wash my face with Cetaphil daily cleanser.  This is a mild cleanser and I figure since I’m not wearing makeup at night it is sufficient to eliminate any oil my face has produced overnight.

cetaphil

Next I apply the Unblemish system’s Step 4 moisturizer with SPF 20.  This moisturizer is very light and helps to repel harmful UV rays while keeping your face matte.  Overall it is a pretty good moisturizer, but I wish they provided the kit with a larger size, especially since all of the other products in the system are significantly larger.

eye creamI follow the moisturizer with an anti-aging eye cream because, well, aging.  I love this moisturizer I found on Amazon.  It has amazing reviews and seems to be helping keep any signs of aging far away.

Night

micellarI use almost the full Unblemish line nightly.  First, I remove any makeup I’ve been wearing that day with Garnier Micellar water.  This product definitely won’t remove any stubborn waterproof makeup, but I’ve found it useful to help get any daily makeup off before washing my face.

Next, I wash my face with the Unblemish Step 1 sulfur wash for at least one minute.  I’ve read that the longer you leave a sulfur product on your face, the better the results.  A full minute is about as patient as I get, which probably isn’t a good thing.

After the sulfur wash, I apply the Step 2 toner.  This is basically like any other toner and I apply it with a cotton round.

Next, the Unblemish Step 3 is a dual pump with what seems to be a benzoyl peroxide product that you mix with a moisturizer.  Since this step contains a moisturizer and I won’t need an SPF product at night I omit the Unblemish Step 4 from my nightly routine.

Lastly, I finish with the anti-aging eye cream that I also use in my morning routine.

Pros

  • My skin feels much smoother and seems to have a more even skin tone.
  • My acne seemed to decrease around my forehead area.  However, I did seem to start getting breakouts on my upper neck, but it resolved itself within a few days when before any breakouts I had would last for at least a week.
  • Because the products are so expensive I FORCED myself to be extremely consistent.  This has also seemed to help my skin improve.
  • I love the convenience of just having a few different steps to the system that are very consistent.
  • I was able to make the product last much longer than the 60 day claim (score for my wallet!) because I only used the system at night and the moisturizer in the morning.
  • It seemed to diminish any fine lines I was beginning to get, which was a very unexpected benefit.

Cons

  • Consultants.  I repeat, CONSULTANTS.  If you love being a consultant and love your product, awesome-you do you, boo boo, but count me out.  I don’t want to have to go through a consultant EVERY DANG TIME I have to order something.  I’m I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T do you know what that mean, man? Now I got the song stuck in your head, didn’t I?  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, climb out from under your rock… here you go… you’re welcome.
  • This stuff is EXPENSIVE.  I mean insanely expensive.
  • The sulfur wash smells.  Horribly.  It makes your face smell like a stink bomb kids used to break in class in elementary school.
  • Benzoyl peroxide stains (bleaches) clothing, towels, and pillowcases.  BUT… I actually haven’t noticed it staining anything, which is odd.
  • It does dry my skin out a little, but moisturizers work fine to combat a little dryness.  We’ll see how I hold up through the dry winter months.  My guess is I’ll need a little more help in the moisturizing department.
  • The one component I was looking forward to the most was a TINY trial size.  Yep… the moisturizer with SPF was tiny.  I guess I could always purchase a similar moisturizer, but if I’m going to commit to something I would like to be consistent and use all of the products, since I’m guessing they work together best.  On the bright side I have found that you can purchase Step 4 on eBay and there seem to be fairly good prices whenever I check.

Final Verdict…

As much as I hate to admit it, I think the Rodan + Fields Unblemish system is the ultimate winner.  I started the system in August and it is now November and I’m still not out of product, which is fantastic.  I do only use the products at night, so I know this has contributed to the longevity of the system.  My skin has never felt smoother or more primed for makeup application without being flaky, oily, or uneven.  It hasn’t completely eliminated my acne, but at this point I’m not expecting any product or system to do so.  I think it’s probably a mixture of genetics, a hectic lifestyle, and stress all rolled into one.  I think these products overall control major breakouts and make the best of acne marked and aging skin.  For now I’m sticking with the Unblemish system and will be finding ways of purchasing the kit from eBay or Amazon.  Yes, I know… I’ve heard all of the horror stories about why I shouldn’t purchase beauty products from such places, but I’m taking my chances.  The first kit I purchased from eBay was sealed in the box, not expired or close to expiration, and was the real deal, so I’ll take my chances.  Hope my honest reviews helped you choose what to purchase so you don’t have to waste money to find something that works great for your needs!