Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy Friday!

It's Friday, you guys!

Loving the short week, this week, with Monday off. Woohoo!

AND, it is supposed to be, like, 90 degrees all weekend! Hello beach and pool!

I'll be here, if you need me ;)

Click for LIVE Beach Cam:

To celebrate Friday, I am linking up with the adorable Whitney from I Wore Yoga Pants to Work for, wait for it,... #backthatazzup Friday!

You guys! I was sold as soon as I heard 'hashtag'. Plus there's music!

"The purpose: To start our weekend with some fantastic jams.
The station that inspired it: "Back That Azz Up" on Pandora Radio.
The rules: Link your jams up and have a jam sesh with all of us!" - Whitney

Amaze-balls. Love it.  I am so excited for my very first Link Up to #backthatazzup Friday!

So here are a couple jams I have been listening to lately.

Lady Antebellum by Downtown on Grooveshark

Howlin' for You by The Black Keys on Grooveshark

Check out her Friday Post to meet lots of other new friends with more #backthatazzup tunes for your listening pleasure!

Have an awesome, sunshine-y weekend!

So There.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jan Marini Skin Research Products

I was given the opportunity to test out a couple of products by the Jan Marini Skin Research Company.

Jan Marini is a recognized leader and innovator in skin care that is committed to continually expanding and improving the professional skin care market.

JMSR products and its award-winning Skin Care Management System are used and trusted by physicians and skin care professionals worldwide to ensure optimum results for their patients and clients.

This highly regarded skin care line is available online, or can be found at spas and dermatology offices throughout the country. To find products near you click here.

A couple locations in South Orange County are:

Spa Alana

34179 Golden Lantern Ste 101
Dana Point CA 92629

skinfinity spa - I have heard great things from friends about this spa in particular!!
18021 Sky Park East, Suite N
Irvine, California  92614

Angela Fikany - Business/Esthetician Sales Rep for all of West LA Territory

The products I checked out were the:

Age Intervention Enlighten Plus, a lotion to improve skin uniformity, and

Daily Body Protectant SPF 34, a high quality sunscreen.

The skin brightener reduces sun and age spots, creating a more youthful skin appearance.
This product seems like a great night cream to use, especially around the eyes.

The sunscreen has a mellow scent and goes on easily. 

To determine which products would be best for your skin needs, check out this consultation quiz! (Who doesn't love a good quiz? Takes me back to my teen magazine days!)

Jan Marini Skin Research is a quality line of products, and would be a great addition to your beauty regimen.

So There.

Disclosure:  I received complimentary products to review on behalf of Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Amy’s Best All Natural Cleaning Tips

I am so in love with Pinterest, but sometimes I forget all the great tips I have pinned, even though there are in one place. 
I decided to compile this straightforward list of all the best Natural Ingredient Cleaning Tips I want to remember to use.  I have tried most of these and they work great!

I have this list printed out on my fridge as a reminder!!
You should do the same.

Click here for a Printable List

So here we go:

Amy’s Best All Natural Cleaning Tips:

Prevent Mold, Remove Pesticides and Wax - Soak fruit, berries, veggies in 1:4 ratio of vinegar and water + salt.  For up 15min. to an hour, or more for non-organic apples.

Remove Rust from Knives – Soak in Lemon juice, scrub with scrubby side of sponge

Clean rusted cookie sheets – soak in thick layer of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for over an hour. Scrub off.
(I need to try again, it didn’t work that well)

Clean Reusable Straws – run homemade felt on a string through straw, soaked in hot water, dish soap, and 1 tsp bleach. Rinse well.
See my blog post for detailed instructions on how to do this!

Sanitize Cutting Board - Vinegar

Remove and Prevent Water Marks - Rub faucet with waxed paper

Household Cleaning:
Vinegar for counters and floors.
Hydrogen peroxide for windows and mirrors.
Use the above + sprinkle with baking soda in salt shaker for bathrooms.
Rubbing Alcohol for carpet stains.
Olive oil for fingerprints on stainless steel appliances.

To Keep bugs away – Spray window sills with Peppermint oil

Natural Bleach Alternative for Laundry Whites or Cleaning 12 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
Mix. Add 2 cups per wash load or put in spray bottle and use as a household cleaner. 

DIY Window and Glass Cleaner Recipe Ingredients
2 c. water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

I put leftover orange, lemon or lime peelings in a mason jar.  Then I add vinegar to fill up the jar. Let it steep for 2 weeks. Take the peelings out with tongs.
You have citrus smelling cleaner.
*Ants hate vinegar, so it works well for counter tops in the summer.

So there.

Monday, May 27, 2013

7 Layer Greek Dip

Hummus  and veggies are a great snack.
For parties, on days like Memorial Day, I like to transform this snack into a crowd-pleaser Seven Layer Greek Dip, served with pita chips!

Just like with this simple lentil appetizer, all these ingredients can be found at Trader Joe's.

16oz container of hummus - any variety (by all means, if you have more time, make your own!)
1 english cucumber, finely chopped 
1 red bell pepper (or tomato), finely chopped
12oz Tzatziki sauce (*see note 1 below)
3/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 container feta cheese - about 1 cup
3 Tbsp balsamic glaze (**see note 2 below)
drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Start with an 8" x 8" serving dish.

Layer the ingredients in the order above.
Drizzle with the balsamic glaze, olive oil, and sprinkle a few fresh dill sprigs on top.
Serve with pita chips.

That's it!
So simple!

Now for some tips:

*note 1: Tzatziki is a Greek yogurt dip with cucumber and dill. Very light and refreshing.  Makes a great dip, or serving sauce with lemon chicken, too! Trader Joe's sells a good, ready made Tzatziki dip.
But you can make it yourself so easily, and all you really need is the leftover fresh dill from above, and another finely chopped cucumber.  Buy plain Greek yogurt (please, not vanilla!), and mix in fresh dill and cucumber.  Add some black pepper and a bit of salt. Done!
Great to make the day before you need to use it.

*note 2:  Balsamic vinegar is great in a salad dressing.
Balsamic glaze is great on ANYTHING!  You can buy this pre-made (which I recommend) at Trader Joe's in the salad dressing aisle.  It is just vinegar and sometimes a bit of apple juice, cooked down and slowly reduced, until it becomes a lovely, sweet, rich syrup. YUM.

All packed up and ready to go!

Hope you all have had a great long weekend!

So There.

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Very First Conscious Box Delivery

So, a few weeks ago I won a giveaway from a fellow blogger, Along Comes Mary!

(And yes, I've used this same clip in the past. Deal with it. It is a good one. ...and somehow always applicable!)

I won three months of home delivery from Conscious Box, which is a monthly mail order program that sends a box packed full of healthy and earth-friendly goodies!
Even the actual Box is made from 100% recycled materials, Ink from veggies, and a BPA-Free label.

It is such a great, and super fun!, way to discover new healthful food, beauty, and home products.
I couldn't wait to open my package, when it arrived!!

This package was filled with tea, seasoning salt, an electrolyte powdered drink, granola-type snacks, a couple relaxation items: a tea and drink, all natural toothpaste and sunscreen, and dishwasher detergent.

I love the Gatorade alternative of the electrolyte drink, Ultima Replenisher.  It is more healthful and tastes great!  It contains no artificial sugars or food coloring; only natural, replenishing ingredients and a bit of stevia.

This Earthpaste toothpaste by Redmond Trading Company is made from natural clay and salt, with essential oils.  "Food Grade Redmond Clay® is a polishing cleanser with antibacterial properties that has been used for centuries to promote digestive health."  

At first, it is super weird to use a toothpaste without that well-known foaming agent added, and without the bright white or blue artificial coloring. But the wintergreen taste is refreshing, and it seems to do its job just as well as any other common toothpaste.  It is also 100% safe to swallow, so is great for kids, as well.  They even make an especially kid friendly lemonade flavor.

I am really excited to try these dishwashing detergent tabs, and I have been researching (read: Pinterest) how to make your own organic and natural dish soap lately and this seems much more natural than my current brand.

I also can't wait to try out this natural sunscreen this summer! Mainstream sunblock always seems SO full of chemicals.

I wish there were a couple more food items to try out, but overall I was super impressed with this company and get to be exposed to all these natural and interesting products in a convenient sample size!

So There.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Things I Love Thursdays: Kitchen Tips & Some Cocktails

Happy Thursday, guys!

So, My favorite new tip is using a terra cotta disk in my jar of brown sugar to keep it soft.

 I have heard of using  a marshmallow, which does work, but I was looking for a non-food and gelatin-free alternative.  Enter:  The Terra Cotta Disk!  This thing is great.  I bought it on Amazon HERE, for a whopping $3.49.  You soak it in water, dry off, then toss into your brown sugar container.  When it dries out again, you just rinse and repeat (literally, bahaha).  Such a great idea!

You guys!  Bet you didn't know we have been cutting up orange slices wrong all these years!
Check out the "correct" way to cut an orange

Speaking of oranges, I am dying to try this Citrus Green Tea Sangria!  How refreshing does that sound?!

Photo & Recipe by: Lizz Delicious

This Grapefruit Margarita sounds amazing, too!
Photo & Recipe by: Sweet Life

If you are on the Gluten Free bandwagon, or if you're not and just want to try out these new types of flour and a great recipe, check these out! I have heard Alton Brown's are the best!

Best Chewy, Chocolate Chip Gluten Free Cookie

Check out my new favorite little blog I stumbled upon:

Sunkissed Tangles by Christiana.  She has done some great beauty product reviews!

If you are planning an outdoor event or dinner party, might I suggest the cutest plastic utensils ever?

Check out these tree branch utensils!

That is all for today! Hope you enjoyed a look at some of my favorite things!

So There.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lentil Pie plus a Great Appetizer

So, this one time, I tried lentils...and fell in love.

This little legume has so many health benefits, and is very high in protein and fiber.  As someone who eats very little meat, I am always looking for new high-protein foods. It also is high in B-vitamins, iron, folate and magnesium.  
They come in several different color varieties.  I buy them dry, in bulk, like non-instant rice.

Side note, as a treat, or great start to an appetizer, Trader Joe's sells pre-cooked lentils in the refrigerated aisle. 
** If you also buy their refrigerated bruschetta mix, and feta, goat, or mozzarella cheese, mix, and top with balsamic and some fresh basil, you've got yourself a super delicious and easy appetizer dip or salad.**

Anyway, back to the recipe at hand.  Lentil Pie.
Kind of quiche-like. Very easy and delicious!

Lentil Pie recipe from Everyday Vegetarian

When you buy lentils, you must rinse them in a fine mesh strainer, and pick through for any loose pebbles.
OK, hard part over!

Cook the lentils in water according to the package instructions, very similar to rice. (see note below)

Mix the cooked lentils with:
a giant handful (1 cup or 2, depending on how many cups of lentils you made) of shredded cheese
chopped onion (for a milder onion flavor, cook the onions in with the lentils and water above)
salt, pepper, and other herbs or spices you'd like

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Press mixture into a greased baking pan, I used a bread loaf pan. You could also use a more shallow 8x8 cake pan, or casserole dish.

Top mixture with more cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Let cool for about 10 minutes, and slice like you would a meatloaf.
I like to serve with sour cream, and a green vegetable or salad.

 Lentils. So There.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cake Batter Fudge

So...this happened.

I mean when you see "funfetti cake batter 10 minute microwave fudge" on Pinterest, how can you not try it out?!

Photo & Recipe by: Baked From a Box

This Cake Batter Fudge from Baked From a Box was literally so easy to make.

You mix cake mix, butter, milk, and powdered sugar together in any microwave safe bowl, and microwave  
for 2 minutes.

Remove and stir immediately, then press into a pan to cool.

Yeah, you're done. That's it! Except the letting it cool and set up a bit part. (Optional if you aren't serving this to guests...bahaha. No, I didn't just eat this with a spoon right from the pan...yes I did.)

Now, I will say this is very rich, so when serving I would recommend cutting the fudge into very small pieces - maybe 1" cubes?  Not applicable if you ate with spoon...

So There.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hoisin Glazed Brown Rice Mochi with Roasted Edemame

Thanks to Alicia Silverstone's amazing and enlightening site, The Kind Life, I have discovered several new-to-me super foods and health tips.

One of my new favorites is brown rice mochi.

This is much different from the soft, fluffy mochi usually seen as a frozen yogurt topping, or wrapped around ice cream at Japanese restaurants.

This Mochi is a gluten and dairy-free, riced-based puff pastry, made from sweet rice that is pounded into a paste that is molded and cut.

It can be baked, grilled, boiled, steamed, or fried.  When baked, it is crisp and brown on the outside, and chewy on the inside.

Take the sheet out of the packaging, and cut mochi with a sharp knife into 1" or 2" squares, and bake on non-stick cookie sheet or Silpat-lined sheet.

For a great dinner, I baked some mochi squares in the oven, than glazed them with a mixture of hoisin sauce and soy sauce.

I also tossed some frozen shelled edemame in olive oil, salt, pepper and roasted them on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees until a bit browned and toasty.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

$250 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Hey friends! So, a bunch of us are helping my friend Lisa over at Wine & Glue celebrate her Birthday!
One of our awesome readers will win a $250 Amazon gift card! 
And you can buy anything on Amazon!! My Pinterest page is full of items I have been wanting to buy from Amazon: brown sugar preserver, matcha green tea powder, the new Michael Buble cd, and more!
There are some really great blogs here, so check them out, and enter the giveaway below for a chance to win! 

Image Map
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Visit to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach 2013 @ToyotaGPLB #TGPLB

For the first time, I had the opportunity to go check out the races at the Grand Prix in Long Beach.



This was the 39th Annual Toyota Grand Prix.  The Grand Prix is held in the Streets of Long Beach, and is America's #1 Street Race.  Instead of a traditional race track, they block off a course through the town.



Photo Credit: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Instagram

Photo Credit: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Instagram

Photo Credit: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Instagram

Photo Credit: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Instagram

Click Here to view the Fan Guide Brochure with all the details.

It was a beautiful, sunny day out.  I packed my camera and had high hopes of capturing some great shots of the cars.  I told Mary at Let's Play OC all about the great day I was going to have, and how I could blog all about it.

I had every intention of taking some exciting action photos, and getting to check out my good friend's Mazda RX-7 which was on display at a booth.  Plus, I really wanted to have my photo taken with me in that driver's seat!  Don't worry, it was off, and parked inside, I didn't plan on racing.  Although a ride along someday would be amazing and fun!

But, then...this happened.

Limo...champagne...and a big group of rowdy people who had no interest in actually seeing the car races!

We spent a lovely day in Long Beach, drinking at bars and hanging out on boats...(must have been awful, you're thinking, I know.)  It was fine...I saw more champagne than I had seen since New Year's Eve; but I wanted to see the RACES!! Hmph.

I caught a quick glimpse or two of the cars zipping by, and could hear them several more times that day. It really was exciting just to be there, even if I wasn't up close to the track.  The cars look like they are going so much slower on tv, than when you actually see them fly by in person!

I snapped one picture.  Yay, Long Beach.  Boo, nothing to do with the races.

Luckily, my friend, I told you about earlier, Kevin Madsen got me some of his professional photos from the weekend! It was so great to see him (wuah, wuah, we took no photo together, ugh!), and hopefully next time I can actually go check out his car!


Kevin Madsen is a National Champion Road Racer,
Stunt Wheelman, and Test Driver.
I know...I have cool friends!
Photo Credit: MadsenMotorsports

Check out some of his racing highlights here:

Kevin had one of his cars, an RX-7 Mazda, on display at the Grand Prix; car #82!

Photo Credit: MadsenMotorsports

Photo Credit: MadsenMotorsports

I definitely recommend you check out the Grand Prix in Long Beach next year, and I will definitely be back next year, too! ...Armed with a much better game plan!

So There.

Photo Credit: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Instagram