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Tuesday Q&A With the Chick; What Do You Like to Read, Lady?!

So, I don’t talk about this often but I am (at the ripe old age of 39) about 9 months out from getting my Bachelor’s degree- it’s been a long road and I frequently feel burned out BUT I am almost finished so there’s no giving up now, right?

Right?!

As such, I often am too mush-brained to get on here and blog so sometimes in the next few months there will likely be long pauses- if you start to miss me too much to carry on with your day feel free to reach out to me either here or on our FB page and I will at least say hello.

My most recent reader question was sent to me via FB messenger and it was a question about my reading habits.

Read on to learn what this Chick loves to read when I have the time!

Dear Chick,

I really enjoy your writing! I am always looking for new authors to read or book recommendations and I’m wondering what you enjoy and who your favorite writer is?

Also, I loved that gyro soup! Are there any more posts like that one coming in the future? Thanks!

Grace, Barnstable, MA

 

Hi, Grace!

First of all, thank you so much for that! I love writing almost as much as the most valued elements of my life- it can be hard to make time for it when so much of that energy gets devoted to the papers I write for class but it is very nice to know that when I find time there are people like yourself who are enjoying what I do here!

Aaaaah, that gyro soup blog- who would have expected the popularity of that post?! I certainly didn’t. It is absolutely delicious and while I can’t promise you will love any of the recipe posts I do in the future in quite the same way, I promise I will keep posting recipes to introduce you folks to the deliciousness that gets made in our house quite often and hopefully you find more beauties to add to your arsenal.

I read a great deal of different types of authors;

I enjoy Nora Roberts, Sara Shepard and Sophie Kinsella (there is much more to her collection than just the Shopaholic series- ‘Remember Me?’ and ‘The Undomestic Goddess’ will make you howl with laughter).

Elin Hilderbrand also writes phenomenal fiction- she explores the nuances of relationships unflinchingly; if you haven’t read her writing ‘The Castaways’, ‘The Rumor’, ‘A Summer Affair’, and ‘Here’s to Us’ are just a few to get you started (‘The Rumor’ is delicious summer reading).

Christopher Moore, whose books are filled with dark humor; ‘Bloodsucking Fiends’, ‘You Suck’, and ‘Bite Me’ all 3 with the subheading ‘A Love Story’ are all very morbid and funny if you like that kind of thing- as is ‘The Stupidest Angel’, which I can give you nothing about without spoilers and it’s too good so check it out.

Joe Hill is another favorite of mine- I read his debut novel ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ when it first came out and it’s fantastic, as is ‘The Fireman’, which I just finished. He is good at painting that creepy, something-is-coming-down-your-hallway-but-you’re-too-scared-to-run-vibe that I love. I think he got that from his father, who is Stephen King.

Who is my all-time favorite author.

Stephen King was the first author whose books I gobbled down whole- no matter how creepy, off-putting the subject matter or the sometimes disgusting detail he writes in. I started reading his work at 9 years old after watching ‘Stand By Me’, and sought out the story that inspired the movie, ‘The Body,’ which is in his collection ‘Different Seasons’.

By the time I was 14 I had read everything he had written up to that point.  I think I can credit him for my love of beautiful language usage in writing, my vast vocabulary and my reading comprehension. When my parents made the agreement with me that I could read his books so long as they didn’t scare me too much I don’t think any of us expected I would emerge with such a love of reading, of his work and for writing itself. He is credited as a master of horror but anybody who pigeonholes him as such hasn’t read much of his writing- he does write horror splendidly but his stories are always about so much more. The tenderness in the conversations between Gordie and Chris in ‘The Body’ are raw and embody how many preteens feel about their relationships with their parents. Every time I read the scene where Gordie breaks down and tells Chris he feels deeply that his father hates him, and Chris tells him in an adult tone that his father just doesn’t know or understand him, it gets me right in the feels.  Always has.

*Update; In the 30 years since I last read ‘The Body’, my brain had scrambled a few things, and after re-reading it now, I have to correct myself. The scene where Gordie breaks down over feeling as though his Dad hates him isn’t in the novella, only in the movie which I have watched more times than I can count. In the short novel, Chris does make it clear that he has noticed the apathy from Gordie’s Dad that is projected at Gordie which strikes a chord and embarrasses him that it’s so clear to others. Still beautiful and poignant, made more so by the book version of Gordie’s stoic response; he doesn’t burst into tears, but he also doesn’t knock his friend a solid one to the jaw for pointing out his parent’s shortcomings, which King notes would have been the expected response in that era.

I recently reread ‘Different Seasons’– the first story in the 4 part collection is ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’. Yeah, I know. Everyone has seen the movie and they did keep somewhat true to the bones of the novella that inspired it but nothing beats the gorgeousness of the writing in the short novel. It is conversational, quick moving and engrossing even if you know how it ends- I had forgotten how much I like Red and Andy Dufresne’s world. It is compelling for a place you never want to actually be yourself. Watching Red try to figure out how Andy made things happen from his perspective, where he was kept largely in the dark, is fascinating. And if the last  lines of the story don’t move you, I don’t know what will. Read it. Just do it. You won’t be sorry.

And then if you decide you want the creepy stuff it’s all there waiting for you as well- just read ‘Bag of Bones’ and tell me I’m wrong.

Thank you for reaching out to me, Grace!

I hope you find something good to read!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

Monday Q&A With the Chick

Of all the questions sent my way in the last few months, the most common ones from you ladies tends to be in regard to skin care.

I get it.

I worry too about what the future will bring with my skin and often want to try and make the future a more attractive place in my beauty routine- while I am good for common sense advice, when we start into areas such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels and what the difference between them is (or, even, what they are) I am out of my element as I’m not a professional.

Have no fear!

Last week I sat down with Debra Powell Adkins LE  of Miracle Salon and Medi Spa in temperance, MI to get the real skinny on skin care routines, procedures to rejuvenate skin and her suggestions for sun protection.

Chick: Hello, Debra! Thank you for sitting down with me today.

Debra: It’s my pleasure!

C: Please tell me a little about your background; when did you become an aesthetician and what drew you to the craft?

D: I was a massage therapist for 10 years and although I loved my job I have always had a passion for helping women look and feel their best so I went back to school 4 years ago to become an esthetic Ian.

C: Wonderful! Please tell me a little about the menu of services a client can expect when they come to see you.

D: I am so fortunate to work at a medi spa so I am able to combine amazing skincare modalities with medical procedures such as IPL laser, laser hair removal, microneedleing and an amazing medical grade peel called The Perfect Derma Peel.

C: That sounds marvelous! And also is a perfect segue into my next question, which is about chemical peels and microdermabrasion; what is the difference between the 2?

D: Microdermabrasion is what we refer to as mechanical exfoliation as opposed to a peel which is a chemical exfoliation. Microdermabrasion can be a little too harsh for mature skin. It tends to break capillaries when skin is starting to thin a bit. A peel is a great alternative for women 35 and up.

C: That is amazing! How invasive or painful are these procedures and what can a client expect in the first 24-48 hours in regard to discomfort?

D: Microdermabrasion basically has no downtime. At the most you may be a little pink after the procedure. There are different strengths of peels. A superficial peel has no downtime possibly some residual flakiness at the most. A medical grade Peel on the other hand such as the perfect derma peel goes three layers deep to the trans dermal layer and definitely has downtime. After a medical grade Peel the first three days you’re just a little pink by about the fourth day you really start to peel and continue to peel for approximately four more days. It can be intense but the results are amazing it can totally refresh and revitalize your skin.

C: That sounds very rejuvenating! How well do these procedures help with reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles?

D: Peels are kind of the gold standard for helping with fine lines and wrinkles. As we get out of our 20s our cell turnover slows way down and we get a build up on the surface of our skin , which causes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. When we do superficial peels on a regular basis or a medical grade Peel a couple times of year we remove all of the dead skin cells and we help our body with cell turnover which gives us a more youthful appearance and definitely helps with fine lines and wrinkles.

C: Perfect! What is your basic daily skincare advice and wisdom that you want to pass along to readers?

D: Home care is huge. If you only do procedures or facials, say once a month you will get improvement but the the real magic is caring for your skin daily. Depending on your age you need a skincare program designed for you, but the basics are a gentle cleanser, a serum, eye cream and a good moisturizer. The most important ingredients to look for in your products are Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, peptides and retin A. I am a little different than most aestheticians when it comes to sunscreen. I am not a big proponent of chemical sunscreens I prefer a mechanical sunscreen because of the toxic chemicals used in the regular sunscreen. I also believe that it is very important to get vitamin D from the sun not during the hottest part of the day but either earlier in the day or later in the evening.

C: That’s very different than what we usually hear, although I have been hearing a lot about the terrible chemicals in sunscreen. Can you explain mechanical sunscreen? I’ve not heard of it and am very interested.

D: A mechanical sunscreen contains ingredients such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide which creates a barrier on top of the skin to deflect and scatter UV rays as oppose to a chemical sunscreen that uses dangerous , possibly cancer causing chemicals to prevent sunburn. One of the downsides of a mechanical sunscreen is that it can have a slightly chalky look, but for me it’s worth the trade off to not expose myself to dangerous chemicals. Also it is important to remember we have an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency because we have overused sunscreens. We need to be wise when it comes to sun exposure but we do need about 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure to our entire body during a time of day when the UV rays are not at a dangerous level. Usually earlier in the day or later in the evening.

C: This is all very useful information! What brand of mechanical sunscreen do you suggest?

D: That’s an excellent question because although many brands contains zinc oxide some of those brands contain other toxic chemicals. Two of the brands that I consider very clean are Badger and Mexitan. I used to recommend Aubrey but that brand now contains paba Esther which is a petro chemical.

C: Which is scary as people don’t always understand how scary petro chemicals and parabens and all the nasty elements are that find their way into products can affect their long term health. My last question is about diet; How much does diet affect skin health? What kinds of foods keep skin glowing and beautiful?

D: Diet is huge! I can’t emphasize enough that if you don’t have a good diet you are not going to have beautiful skin. Many skin conditions have to do with food intolerances. When someone comes to see me and they have a problem with acne or rosacea my first question is always,”do you have stomach issues”and invariably the answer is yes. My recommendation is if someone is having serious skin issues they do an Elimination diet to find out what their food intolerances or allergies are. If someone does not have serious skin issues and they are just looking to keep their skin healthy and beautiful a diet that is high and fresh fruits and vegetables and lean grass fed non RB GH meats is ideal. Also drinking water to keep your skin hydrated. If you are healthy on the inside it will definitely show on the outside.

C: That is extremely sound advice! Thank you again, Debra, for taking the time to talk to me today! Where can people make an appointment with you if they are interested in the services we discussed?

D: It was my pleasure. I am at Miracle Salon and Medi Spa 6634 Summerfield Rd. Temperance MI 734-847-3700.

So there you have it, folks!

Procedures are great for that little something extra but consistent home care and maintenance and a healthy diet are the keys to staying beautiful.

Thank you again, Debra!

As always, we love comments! Let us know what you think in the comments section below or on our Facebook Page!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

Thursday DIY; That’s My (Tomato) Jam!!!!

I have this very talented cousin who loves to grow food.

She is so good at it that she took her education and her talent and her extremely sweet personality and, for a few years, taught children in the great state of Arkansas how to not only grow their own fruits and vegetables but also how to incorporate a more plant-based food philosophy into their everyday lives.

The times we were able to get together were always fun and on one of her visits she brought a bunch of canned goodies to share with us and my grandparents and I loved everything I tried- her talent at canning her own foods is what started my own canning obsession.

There is nothing I have tried that I loved more than her tomato jam- so much so that I had to give making it myself a shot.

My cuz directed me to a site with so much great information called Food in Jars for their tomato jam recipe as that’s the one she used- they have one sweetened with honey and one sweetened with regular granulated sugar.

I have made both and will tell you a bit about each experience.

I didn’t think to take pictures of the honey sweetened tomato jam but I did take a few of the granulated sugar sweetened jam (be forewarned- it was nighttime when I took the pictures so they’re a little bit dark and if you view this post on a smartphone my pics will be sideways. Yes, I’m aware of it but, no,  I don’t know how to fix it.)

What You Need;

5lbs of tomatoes, finely chopped (food in jars advises against peeling the tomatoes which is great because that’s a lot of work)

Either 2 1/2 cups honey or 3 1/2 cups sugar (do not modify sweetener amounts, the sugar aids in shelf life and stability)

1/2 cup bottled lime juice

1T sea salt

1T freshly grated ginger

1T red chili flakes

1t cinnamon

1/2t ground cloves

Put all ingredients in a wide shallow pan and cook until it ‘s reduced, sticky looking and jammy- as she says in her instructions when your spoon leaves a tunnel where you can see the bottom of the pan it’s ready to ladle into prepared canning jars.

The jam will take about an hour to reduce in the pan so while it’s doing that, when you’re nearing the end of the line in the cooking process get your canning jars ready.

Once you’ve ladled the jam into your prepared jars and have the lids with the screw bands on fingertip tight (meaning don’t crank them on like a bodybuilder) lower them back into the boiling water and process for 15 minutes.

Remove using either metal tongs or a canning jar lifter with rubber grips (I recommend the latter- mine cost 9 dollars locally so they’re very inexpensive and a much safer option) and set the jars on a wire rack to cool overnight.

They should start to seal right away, but if within the hour they have not you should refrigerate and use immediately any jars that didn’t seal properly.

The popping sound when they seal is my favorite part of the process!!!!

The only differences in the honey sweetened and the sugar sweetened tomato jam was a difference in color and an ever so slight difference in flavor.

The honey sweetened came out a little darker in color (I use very dark, local wildflower honey from Storm Honey Farm here in Mountain View) and had an earthier flavor.

The granulated sugar sweetened had a cleaner flavor and was a little bit of a prettier jewel-tone red.

I like them both and intend going forward to use what I have on-hand- when my honey gets grainy, I will use it and when my honey is brand spanking new and I want it for tea I will use the sugar.

They’re both viable options and delicious on anything you would put ketchup on- I use it mixed with a little apple cider vinegar for a glaze on meatloaf and sometimes I just eat it on crackers.

Whatever’s clever.

You have to try it.

What kinds of jams, jellies, condiments and pickles are staples in your cupboard and refrigerator?

Let us know in the comments section here or on our Facebook page!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

 

 

Wednesday Recipe Corner; Gyro Soup

Winters where I live are not necessarily cold- not like some of the Michigan and Illinois winters I’ve lived through (and that some of my friends and loved ones are currently enduring), but it does get chilly.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, does grey, overcast and foggy quite like Arkansas does in the winter- it makes most days perfect for staying in with your loved ones under a fuzzy blanket, watching creepy movies or ‘Coraline’ and having bowls of steaming soup with homemade bread on the side for dinner.

Mmmmmmm, soup.

I have always been a fan of soup even in the hottest months of the year- it’s simple to throw together and you can eat it for several days, plus, if it’s a clear broth soup it’s likely a fairly healthy meal option.

My hubs puts a ban on soup in the house from April until the first cold day of fall- no soup, no chili.

Stew?

Don’t even ask.

So I have been slyly (OK not too slyly) trying to milk the cold days and make soup as often as possible without getting asked what our other meal options are.

I have been fairly successful and the Chef even made a huge batch of game chili a few weeks ago, enough to eat for a few days and also freeze for another time (which, to me, is a huge win, especially when it’s ladled over Nathan’s hot dogs and sprinkled with cheese).

But a girl can only eat so much chicken noodle or chili before we go on the hunt for something different, with a lot of flavor and that could preferably all the ingredients could be dumped into my Crock Pot and cook without my help for the next 7 hours.

We’ve already talked about my love of recipes from Taste of Home; aside from America’s Test Kitchen, I really do find the home cook recipes from TOH to be the most reliable out there.

Flipping through the February issue of Country Woman magazine, which is a sister publication to Taste of Home, there was a recipe for Gyro Soup which was a crock pot recipe that I had most of the ingredients to make on hand.

Whoot!

It’s delicious, guys; it has all the flavors of a gyro that I grew to love when eating at the Coney Islands back home but without the expensive airfare it would take to get there (and without my beloved, carb-y pita bread).

If you love gyros and soup you have to try this!

Gyro Soup (Taste of Home)

Prep Time; 25 minutes          Cook; 6 hours

Makes; 6 Servings

Ingredients;

2lbs Ground Lamb (I’m sure beef would stand in in a pinch)

8 cups of water (the recipe says 5 but it wasn’t enough)

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

(I added 3t beef Better than Bouillon for flavor)

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup red wine

6 garlic cloves, minced

3T minced fresh mint or 1 T dried mint

1T dried marjoram

1T rosemary, crushed

2t salt

1/2t pepper

Optional toppings;

Plain Greek yogurt

Crumbled Feta cheese

Brown the lamb in a skillet and once it’s done throw it into the Crock Pot with all the other ingredients on low for 6-7 hours while all the flavors meld into gorgeousness.

We crumbled feta over ours and it was delish!

We’re finishing our leftovers tonight with homemade bread.

You can view the original version of the recipe here.

Thank you, Bridget Klusman, from Otsego, MI!!!!

What’s your favorite winter meal on a cold day?

Let me know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Until next time!

Love, The Chick and her Chickadee

 

 

 

Tuesday Beauty Talks

So, I admit it . . .

I’m a little bit of a fragrance junkie.

Actually, that’s not true- I’m a lotta bit of a fragrance junkie.

I could say I don’t know where that started but then I would be lying and the basis of a strong friendship is trust soooooo . . .

When I was about 12 years old I would steal the perfume samples out of my Mom’s Avon catalogues and try on the grown up scents and feel like an adult (or an old lady, depending on which scent I was trying out).

Mind you, she had bought me my very own bottle of the very age appropriate classic Sweet Honesty and I liked it well enough but I was mature for 12 (or so I thought with my NKOTB obsession and huge pink glasses, so stylish) and yearned for something that would make me feel like the tiny adult I fancied myself.

I’ll never forget the moment when I peeled open a sample of Avon’s Night Magic Evening Musk (which they still make and I still, occasionally, buy)- I thought it was the loveliest scent I had ever smelled at the time.

Soft, mildly sweet and musky (but a white musk, fresh, not a dirty musk) I was hooked- when I dabbed it on I felt at least 14 years old.

I loved it and had to have it.

This was the beginning.

I have had a lot of loves since then; a stint with Biagiotti’s Venezia (that crashed to a halt when it was discontinued), a brief dalliance with Lagerfeld’s Sun, Moon, Stars (that also ended in a discontinuation of the scent), a 2 year love of Mugler’s Angel (that ended when a brutally honest friend told me that it made me smell like her granny’s house), and my dearest love for quite a long time- Dior’s Addict which I simply wore for so long that I don’t like it anymore.

My taste has evolved to include a great deal more florals (when they’re done right- to me this means light and fresh not heavy and old school) but I still love my heavy, spicy perfumes although I live in a rather unseasonably warm place so I don’t wear them as often.

So this is what my scent evolution has brought me too, 27 years after smelling the perfume that made me fall in love with the idea of a signature scent.

My top 5 favorite scents in my wardrobe right now in descending order of frequency of wear;

The Body Shop Red Musk

I had been on the hunt for something new and different- over the vanillas and the floral notes I wanted something clean and spicy and free of sweetness and flowers- but still feminine.

I know. Tall order. But when I typed pretty much those exact words into a Google search Red Musk by The Body Shop was one of the first things that came up to pique my interest because almost everyone who had tried it liked it (if you read fragrance reviews regularly you know that is actually quite rare).

I blind bought this scent when The Body Shop was running a 40% off sale with free shipping and I was pleasantly surprised by how spot-on the reviews and description is- it has cinnamon, tobacco and white musk as the notes and they all come across beautifully in a scent that is spicy and sexy but whispers where it has the potential to shout.

Plus, one of my dearest friends wears The Body Shop White Musk- the addition of that is so recognizable to  me that I feel like I’m hanging out with her when I wear it.

Miss you, girl!

Sparkling Limoncello (Bath and Body Works)

For quite a long time I had backed off Bath and Body Works- not for any particular reason other than in my devotion to them over the years I got bored and decided to give them a rest (because with their buy 3 get 3 revolving sale it takes a long time to work through your stash).

Around Christmas I went in to get the Chickadee some Pink Chiffon lotion (my daughter has, it seems inherited my love of scents that smell like frosting) and since there was a massive sale going on I scoped out a few seasonal scents for myself.

Have you ever taken a 3 year old girl into a BBW?

The wonder on her face and the 8 arms she sprouted were what stands out the most about the visit- and the look on her face when I pulled the Sparkling Limoncello lotion off the shelf for her to smell.

She got this dazed “oh my that smells delicious” look on her face that was so blissed out that I snapped up some lotion and a spray figuring if I didn’t love it when my nose cleared she would use it.

It really is delicious; lemon, sugar, orange blossom and just enough vanilla to make it sophisticated.

This has been one of my favorites in the last year- I just hope they don’t change it or discontinue it anytime soon.

Pacifica Tahitian Vanilla

I know.

I know I said I was off vanilla for the time being, but here’s the thing- this is not a sweet, cupcakey vanilla.

Pacifica’s Tahitian Vanilla is just a different animal altogether.

This is vanilla mixed with a little jasmine and black tea and this is one of the lightest, most wearable vanilla scents I have ever come across- plus the perfume solid pictured above retails for $9.

Not bad when you’re trying something new, am I right?!

Somerset Meadow (Crabtree and Evelyn)

If pressed I would have to actually declare Somerset Meadow by Crabtree and Evelyn my favorite perfume currently- it is fresh and soft, green without being sharp and has just enough blackberry in it to sweeten it and keep it out of the old lady camp without doing a herky jerky into smelling like something a teenager would wear.

It reminds me of my beloved Eau D’Hadrien by Annick Goutal which I love but is far too pricey for it’s lack of longevity- I have owned a single bottle in my adulthood and at almost $100 an ounce, it is beautiful but should last longer.

With Somerset Meadow I get a similar feel but much better longevity at a better price tag- there is a reason this scent is award winning.

The only reason it doesn’t claim the top place is that I don’t wear it every day- I wear it often but it is always sold out so I don’t want to run out suddenly and then not be able to get it for a bit.

I was wearing this when I got married. 🙂

Southern Girl (Siren Soap)

Anybody who knows me knows how I love Etsy- perusing a marketplace filled with handmade goods is right up my crafty alley and I have purchased plenty of jewelry (including my wedding band) and my fair share of scents from individual shop owners.

Around my birthday I stumbled into a shop called Siren Soap and it’s phenomenal; the owner Jessi is as sweet as they come and makes everything from whipped soaps to body scrub to perfume oils in an array of scents.

There is something for everybody in there and if you haven’t gotten acquainted with her shop yet I highly encourage you to do so- you won’t be disappointed.

When I saw Southern Girl and the description of white chocolate, whiskey, mandarin and cedar notes I knew I had to have it for myself.

It is light, sweet, sassy and sexy and as I write this I am steadily working my way through my second bottle of this delicious brew- if this sounds like something you would love, it probably is and you should go meet Jessi and find something pretty to dab behind your ears while you’re there.

You’ll never be sorry you did.

 

What kinds of scents do you reach for day in and day out?

Let me know in the comments section here or on our Facebook page.

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

 

 

 

Monday Q&A with the Chick

Good morning and Happy New Year everyone!!!!

I hope this blog post finds you all happy, healthy and thriving on this gloomy Monday.

There is a notorious lack of involvement with readers around these parts- and although we just celebrated our one year anniversary of being live on the 1st of the year we did so without a single reader comment!

Whoot!

I do, on occasion, get messages on Facebook asking questions and the hubs suggested I answer the pertinent and pressing questions publicly- I like this idea so much that Mondays going forward will be devoted to doing just that.

So, without further adieu, welcome to Monday Morning Q&A with the Chick!

Dear Chick,

You mentioned in a post that you’re 39 years old. I am too! I’m looking for a good anti-aging cream and would love any suggestions you can offer me. My skin is on the dry side.

Thanks!

Jane, Crisfield, MD

 

Hi, Jane!

I am 39! Skin is funny as it begins to age, am I right? Suddenly, what always worked no longer does and while it’s tempting to run out and invest a lot of cash in products that will slow or diminish the ravages of time on our skin, I take umbrage with the term “anti-aging”. Nothing, unfortunately, will stop skin from aging completely. The good news is that there are a few ways to keep skin looking great and, while I am certainly not a dermatologist, esthetician or expert by any means, here are my personal tips for slowing down the hands of time as they tick.

Right across our faces.

Sunscreen;

I have always slathered my face, neck and decolletage with sunscreen before leaving the house.

My current favorite is Coppertone Clearly Sheer Sunscreen which has a SPF 50- it is lightweight, doesn’t clog pores and doesn’t disrupt foundation and make it greasy if you’re rocking a full face of makeup.

It’s a bit of an underrated rock star, honestly.

It is perfect for manically combination skin like mine.

It’s economical too, retailing at $11.49 at Walmart.

Stay Hydrated;

I don’t know about anybody else but, for me, when I’m dehydrated my skin is the first place I really see it.

Water is not, perhaps, the most fun thing to be sipping on all day but when we’re hydrated from the inside out we give our skin what it needs to rejuvenate- this becomes even more important as we age because our skin has a hard time producing collagen and can look dull and gritty at the drop of a hat.

Make it easier.

Drink plenty of water.

Don’t Sleep in Your Makeup;

I know this is common sense but I still have to remind myself that, if I cave to my laziness and sleep in my makeup, in the morning my skin will be red and my eyes puffy.

It’s not worth it, guys.

Take off your makeup and if you’re in for the night and not going anywhere until tomorrow slather with a rich, long-lasting moisturizer or cream that will pamper your pretty face.

I really like Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizer; it keeps me smooth and hydrated while I get my beauty zzzzz’s and is also economically priced at $9.99.

If You Live in a Really Cold Area;

I know sometimes we need a little something extra when it’s frigid and the combo of chilly winds and indoor heat wreak havoc on our skin.

In those moments I have always kept a bottle of L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Glow Renewal Facial Oil on hand; a few drops will absolutely smooth out dry scaly skin, flaky, peeling noses.

Pretty much anything you got.

Be forewarned that it can make foundation a bit of an issue; do some extra blending and use a light hand when applying and you should be good to go.

Exfoliate.

Just do it.

Honorable Mention;

I know that in the vein of an anti-aging cream I have read a lot about amino-peptides and how effective they are in at least making skin look more youthful.

Olay has a whole fact page about their anti-aging line that you can check out here; if you try them please let me know what you think!

I do know a few folks who are skin care professionals- I could, potentially, have them do a short Q&A as well on skin care regimes and anti-aging products if anybody is interested in that going forward.

Thank you for reaching out, Jane!

It was awesome to hear from you and I hope you are having a prosperous and beautiful New Year!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

 

 

 

I’m So Jelly!!!!

The days are still fairly warm here in Arkansas, even if the evenings and mornings are chilly- I keep waiting for colder weather to get here, but last year it never really did (save for a few ice storms and then immediate warm weather that followed which is manic and kind of cool- snow boots one day, flip flops the next, literally).

On cold mornings my favorite thing to do is cuddle under a fleece throw with the chickadee while I guzzle a hot cup of coffee and start my day as she wakes up to some Doc McStuffins- although she is outgrowing both the show and the practice of an early morning cuddle.

I’ve taken to perusing sites on boondocking in your RV (which is off the grid RV camping) and Pinterest for jelly recipes for my new canning obsession.

Since last we spoke I have successfully made tomato jam (which was excellent and we have blown through all 4 jars of it, using it in place of ketchup and also i have started eating it on crackers- I’m making more today and will document the process for you), the apple butter I posted about, and finally hot pepper jelly.

Getting to the point where I could say I successfully made jelly was a process, guys.

I started with that coffee jelly recipe I mentioned in my apple butter post; excited, because my love of coffee is deep and real and because the poster made this sound so divine I assembled everything I needed and followed the instructions to the letter.

I poured what I thought would be my first successful attempt at making jelly into the prepared canning jars I had out on my counter and processed them in a canning bath for 15 minutes- then removed them one by one, thrilled that every single jar sealed properly.

I left them alone overnight, thinking, you know- they will do their thang and in the morning I will have some delicious coffee jelly to put on anything toasted I see fit.

Nope.

When I came downstairs in the morning I found, to  my dismay, that the jars were still filled with liquid.

It didn’t set up or gel at all- not even a soft set.

I was disappointed but followed the instructions the poster included to get the jelly to set up if the first attempt failed- that also didn’t work for me (which could be my inexperience working against me), and by the time I was done trying to fix it the coffee jelly mixture had charred and smelled awful.

At that point, even if it had set up, I don’t think I would want to eat it.

I plan to try that again but have not- in the meantime, the best advice I received from an experienced jelly maker was to follow a recipe included in the Sure Jell leaflet as those tend to be foolproof and get some experience with a jelly that is going to set so when I go to make the coffee jelly again I will know if it’s working.

My next stop in the adventure was hot pepper jelly, using this recipe from Sure Jell– I chose this for 2 reasons;

  1. The ingredients were super inexpensive.
  2. I love hot pepper jelly and hate spending over 4 dollars a jar on it at the store.

So armed with everything I needed I got to work; it seems the key to getting jelly to set is getting the pectin in the Sure Jell powder to release in the hot liquid.

To do this, I had to have everything ready; all the ingredients for the jelly itself in the pot of course, plus the recommended amount of sugar measured out in a separate bowl and the Sure Jell at the ready.

If you tend to be the kind of home cook that preps as you cook (which is my thing) when you’re making jelly is not the time to stick with that tradition- have everything ready to go because time is of the essence.

So you get your peppers, pectin (Sure Jell) and apple cider vinegar into the pot and get the heat under it- medium high heat works best.

Within a few moments you should achieve a rolling boil- this means that you are getting bubbles in the liquid that don’t stop when you stir it; when you reach this stage let it boil for 60 seconds before you add the sugar.

It’s that time frame in the boiling liquid that helps the pectin start releasing, which will give you a set on your jelly.

After the 60 seconds is up, you pour in your sugar- and when it returns to a rolling boil let it boil for exactly 60 more seconds and then kill the heat under it.

Ladle into prepared jars and leave alone overnight.

Now, at this point I had never heard about throwing a little jelly on a chilled plate to see if a set would be achieved- I realized mine would set because I was one jar short on my prep and therefore put the remaining jelly in a clean plastic container and tossed it into my refrigerator.

An hour later, when I went to get the Chickadee some milk, it was already setting up.

But just in case you are forward thinking enough to process an adequate amount of prepared storage jars, this is the chilled plate test;

You chill a plate while you’re preparing your jelly.

When you are about to start ladling your finished product into jars, ladle just a little on the chilled plate.

If it is going to set, it should do so immediately- drag your finger through to see if you can leave a “tunnel”.

If so, you’re in business and should proceed- if not follow manufacturer instructions in the leaflet describing the best way to fix the set before you process in the jars for long-term storage.

This jelly can be stored in a cool, dark place for one year.

It’s delicious- tangy, spicy and sweet.

quick_easy_hot_pepper_jelly-2

(Photo courtesy of The Comfort of Cooking.)

I love to put a little of this goodness over cream cheese on Flipsides crackers from Keebler (you know the ones- pretzel on one side, townhouse on the other, perfect for people like me with a decision making disorder) for an easy appetizer or on half a toasted bagel.

Yum!

It’s sweeter than you would expect and I did find a low sugar version in my America’s Test Kitchen Foolproof Canning Cookbook that I am anxious to try- I will let you know how that works out when I do.

Who out there loves to can?

Whether it’s jam, jelly, veggies or pickles let me know what you love to “put up” for your family when you have a little time on your hands!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and Her Chickadee

 

Tuesday Beauty Talks; How to Actually Get Henna to Cover Gray Roots

So awhile back I told you guys about my forced pixie cut and a quest to revitalize my chemically damaged hair (and possibly scalp?) by quitting chemical hair-dye cold turkey.

The plan was to either grow out my gray and be a little more “authentic” or switch to something more natural to cover the silver that (to me) is such a problem up against my remaining dark hair, simply because it makes me feel as though my gray gives the illusion of baldness and also because the difference is so striking that when my new growth gets long enough it is all I see when I look in the mirror.

I opted to forego growing out my gray for the time being- I’m not ready for the big gray grow-out, which left me to consider my options when choosing a less toxic type of hair-color to get the job done.

There are a few chemicals- resorcinol and ammonia in particular that I was trying to avoid and in my research I found a few really good products that are free of those 2 chemicals- they are free of parabens as well.

There are a few options when it comes to more natural hair color- some I have tried and some I have not.

naturtint

Naturtint. Sold online and at Whole Foods (at least it was when I shopped there last which, admittedly, has been awhile) Naturtint touts less harsh chemicals overall (no resorcinol which is linked to a host of cancers) and more health friendly ingredients. It does, however, contain propylene glycol which is one of the ingredients in traditional perfumes that made me stop using them and peroxide- which is common even in the most “natural” of home hair-color options as it helps develop the color. I have personally not used Naturtint but I do know people who have and have been happy with the results- if you’re a Naturtint user please tell us about your experiences or offer any advice below!

herbatint

Herbatint. Also ammonia free and very low in harsh chemicals, Herbatint is another great, cost effective, option for home hair-coloring. It also (like Naturtint) has a whole host of colors to choose from and very high customer satisfaction ratings. The one thing that stands out for me about Herbatint over Naturtint is the range of colors- Herbatint has a level 2 color, which is close to my natural where Naturtint skips straight from a 3 or 4 to a 1. So you other dark haired mamas, there you go- otherwise, there are plenty of options available between these 2 more traditional hair color options.

henna

Henna. In the world of henna hair color you would be amazed at the options you have available to you; there are a lot more colors available than in the past (although if you’re looking for the traditional gingery/orange typically associated with henna, it is definitely still around) and plenty of formulas as well. Powdered from Henna Color Lab, a solid block form that is mixed with cocoa butter from Lush and even some pre-mixed liquid formulas that I have found on Amazon (but not tried) there is bound to be something for you, even if it’s your first time using henna. There are a few things to know about henna should you choose this route, however;

  1. It is messy. Really messy. Even if you manage to keep it on your head, it looks a little like mud so pick up your bathroom rugs use a t-shirt you don’t mind getting stained (as you would with traditional hair-dye).
  2.  The smell is unusual. It smells like tea and Earth and cooked spinach; it takes some getting used to, however, I think it smells better than chemical hair-dye ever will. The smell of henna will never make your eyes or throat burn even if your husband and toddler will tell you your henna smells bad. Whatev.
  3. It is a real commitment. There is no removing henna from your hair. It coats the hair strand instead of being deposited in your broken hair cuticle so removing it is almost impossible. If you don’t like it you will have to either wait it out while it fades or cut it out or do a different, darker shade of henna. And if you do go to your hairstylist after you henna please be honest with them- you might get an answer you don’t like but it’s better than sending them in blind and then being upset with them when something bad happens, like a bad reaction that leaves your hair fragile and slightly melted. Take responsibility and be honest so they can assess their next step in the most educated way possible.

So the method I chose was powdered henna from Henna Color Lab, a mix of Natural Black and Dark Brown using what’s referred to as a 2 step process. If this is what you decide to do, here is what you will need;

cool-whip

An empty clean non-reactive bowl (so nothing metal). I use a clean cool whip container.

haircolorbrush

A hair color application brush like the one pictured above; I got mine from Sally’s for only a few dollars and have had it for like 6 years. No lie. If you rinse it well with hot water and let it dry completely before putting it away these suckers last forever. Best investment in hair care, ever- I have also used this to apply deep conditioner all over my noggin.

old-towel

An old towel that you care nothing about. In my experience the watercolor style of stains that transfer to the towel after you rinse the henna out of your hair do wash out of the towels, however, why take the chance? Use a dark or old towel to wrap around your shoulders and to towel dry after you rinse out the henna. But we’re not there yet.

rachael-ray-whistling-tea-kettle-54934

Hot water- not to boiling, but hot enough to mix the powdered henna into a paste with a whipped cream or spreadable frosting consistency. It will cool down considerably by the time you go to apply it.

old-t-shirt

An old t-shirt you aren’t worried about getting stained.

So once you have everything you need assembled;

  1. Wash your hair with a shampoo that is either all-natural shampoo (I love the lavender geranium one from Henna Color Lab; bonus? They have a very inexpensive trial size of all their liquid shampoos) or at least a shampoo that isn’t oil based- oil based shampoos will keep you from getting the most out of your development time with the henna. After you rinse your shampoo you will skip conditioner for now. Towel dry gently and carefully comb your hair out.
  2. Gather your non-reactive bowl, hair color application brush and get fire under your water. Work quickly so your hair won’t dry- henna is meant to be applied to wet hair.
  3. Once your water is hot enough (about 150 degrees Fahrenheit- use a kitchen thermometer to determine or just wing it this is really not hinging on your water being exactly the right temp) begin to add a little water to the henna you have shaken out into your container. For the first application of the 2 part process you won’t need a whole lot of henna- you are only applying to the roots of your hair. Once you have reached that frosting-like consistency you’re ready to go.
  4. Take your bowl, gloves and cap (the gloves and cap are included in the package if you buy from Henna Color Lab) and apply it all over your roots. When you have an even application leave your gloves on and scruff the henna down into your scalp the way you do when your shampooing. This will get the henna down into your scalp and ensure that good root and gray coverage you’re looking for.
  5. Cover your head with the included plastic cap.
  6.  Set your timer for 1 hour.

When the hour is up you are going to rinse your hair in hot water- and nothing else. The henna should break up easily under your hands and the hot water and rinse right out. Rinse until water runs clear.

Next, repeat steps 2-5 using an adequate amount of henna according to your hair length- you are going to reapply to roots and coat your hair from scalp to tip on this application. Even when my hair was past my shoulders one package was enough.

Set your timer for 2 hours this time.

Now when you go to rinse out you are going to use conditioner or, my favorite, conditioning balm like this one from L’Oreal; massage your scalp until you can feel the grit breaking up and the water runs clear- at this point your hair should feel clean and back to normal (or better!).

When you step out of the shower and towel dry you should then blow dry your hair (when I henna is now the only time I ever blow dry my hair). Whatever color your hair is will continue to morph as it dries and over the next few days achieve the color you wish.

Do not wash again for 72 hours and no oil based shampoos for 2 weeks.

My hair is a whole different animal now than it was 2 months ago when I started this journey- it is healthy and growing quickly and not thin and breaking. My hairstylist is shocked at the kind of shape it’s in now as opposed to the Kentucky Fried Mess it was when I asked her to cut it all off.

As a bonus the 2 step process covers my gray way more effectively than traditional chemical hair dye ever did and doesn’t leave my hair thin or my scalp burning- it may not be for everyone but henna has definitely been a lifesaver for me.

So there you have it! The 2 step process it takes to successfully cover gray hair with henna!

Let me know your favorite hair colors and home dyeing tips in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

 

Know Where Your Apple is Buttered, Buddy

Guys . . . it’s October.

I have taken a second to marvel at this every morning for the last few days and I just get overwhelmed with excitement when I do because October is, hands down, my favorite month of the year (yes, I am one of those people who would gladly use Halloween decorations as household decor year round- no, I feel no shame or weirdness about this and I do think “sparkly pumpkin” could be a personal style of decorating).

I just love fall, don’t you?

The turning of leaves, milder weather (although here in Arkansas tomorrow’s high temp is 82- not really “fall-like”) and the seasonal food.

Sure, pumpkin everything is great- I just finished a box of Pumpkin Spice Life cereal and don’t care how “basic” that makes me, but my biggest fall food obsession has always been apple butter.

applebutter

On toast, biscuits or a really big spoon, I think apple butter is one of the most delicious and underrated things on the planet.

It’s sweet, a little tart and a lot spicy- it is also, as I found out this weekend, extremely easy to make yourself.

Anybody who follows me on Pinterest (and there are a lot of you, despite how notoriously quiet and bashful the crowd around here is) knows that I have an entire board, currently under construction, that has loads of pins devoted to canning, jarring and homesteading.

Call it antiquated or fussy, I just think there is something to be said for at least a little self-sufficiency and in-home preparedness, even in modern times when everything is at our fingertips.

It might not always be and during times where severe weather is a harsh reality (like right this moment in Florida) it’s good to have some prepared foods on hand in your cabinets and freezer for a rainy (or snowy) day.

That being said, I wanted a super simple recipe for apple butter that had 3 elements;

  1. I didn’t want it to call for 12lbs of apples- this is a first run and the worst thing I could think of was making oodles of apple butter and then having a shortage of available canning jars.
  2. Simple and sparse, but good, ingredients- the best things in food are mostly recipes without a great deal of fancy ingredients. Where the good food quality really lies is in cooking techniques, which is something I learned from my husband who is a chef; make sure things are cooked properly and cooled down then stored appropriately and you’re always eating well.
  3. I wanted to be able to cook it in the crock pot.

So with those elements in mind, the hubs helped me find one from the food network that we adapted and threw in the crock pot over night on low.

In the morning when I woke up?

Oh the glorious apple cinnamon-y smell that filled the house, wall to wall.

I almost didn’t want to do anything aside from let it keep cooking down and make a new batch when it needed to be thrown out, but you know.

That’s wasteful.

Now you can take the cooked down apples and liquid out with a ladle and run it through your blender or food processor, or leave it right where it is and use an immersion blender, which was what I did.

Either way, I was left with a batch of apple butter that was sweet, tart and spicy and a gorgeous red brown color.

Win!

Next was the part I was most concerned about since this is my first time canning anything- the actual canning portion of the program which ended up falling on my husband’s mighty shoulders (thank you, honey!) but I paid close attention so I could lose a little bit of my fear.

I will get into the specifics of safe canning in another post, but know this- there are tons of sites where you can get that information in the meantime, like this absolutely awesome one foodiewithfamily that has a great canning project I’m going to test next week for you.

My biggest concern was how I would know when he pulled the jars out of the water after boiling for 15 minutes if they had sealed- if this is a concern you and I share, please allow me to set your mind at ease.

You can tell.

As my hubs began setting the jars on a wire rack, one by one, they began to emit a single, unmistakable pop.

“That’s how you know,” he told me, “but also if you’re not sure press the lid. You will know if it’s not sealed properly.”

They are still sitting on the counter and will be, per the Chef’s request, until he gets home today at which point I will label the jars themselves with painter’s tape (no residual goo when you remove and want to reuse the jar) with what’s inside and the date.

So that’s it!

With the next project I will include photos of the process!

In the meantime, what’s your favorite canning project and do you have any tips for a novice?

Let me know here or in the comments on the ChickandChickadee Facebook page!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

Things to Be Thankful For . . .

Today is my 39th birthday.

I know.

Getting older is scary (although not quite as scary as the alternative to getting older) and I am not ashamed to admit that this past week I was a little bit pensive; I caught myself thinking about the things I haven’t done or don’t have, I felt a little resentful and unhappy.

Then I caught myself and had to snap out of it; I could make the choice to feel woe and fear at getting older, or I can just enjoy the ride- I choose the latter of the two, and the best way to celebrate that today is to tell you a few things that I’m very grateful for.

My family.

I have a super duper cool toddler; she is gorgeous and smart, and a total handful that I waited for and pined for and was in love with long before I ever got to be her Mommy. Every single day with her and her Daddy, my amazing, handsome husband, is a precious gift no matter how much stress and brouhaha goes into having this family that is my everything, and I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything.

The rest of my family;

My Mom, Dad, other Mom (that I call Nan), my brother and his wife and kiddos and so on and so forth. There are a great many people I call my own and I love them all; whether they are blood or have married into the family, they are all special to me and even if I don’t go out of my way to tell them how much they mean to me often enough it is very true. I’m a lucky girl to have all of them in my life.

My friends; whether we are friends in real life or only on Facebook, I absolutely love anybody who truly loves me. Period. We don’t have to see eye to eye on everything, nor do we have to see each other all the time in real life. If you want me in your life and want to be in mine and have made that choice, I love you and accept you as your are, the same way I assume you love and accept me. Even if that is only on social media, it counts- don’t ever let anybody tell you it doesn’t.

That I can, at 39, have dinner with my grandmother and grandfather every week; some people are reminded, often, as kids that their grandparents are a gift we don’t get to keep forever and some people don’t have to be reminded- some never get to know theirs at all. So to be at this point in my life and still spend time with them is an amazing blessing, and while I miss the grandparents of mine who were called home already I absolutely love getting to see my grandmother every day and watch her have this special relationship with the Chickadee.

It is overwhelming and cool and very, very precious.

Being able to start being serious about working out and getting healthy at this point in my life while I am still enjoying the miracle of good health; I was at the doctor a few days ago because I’ve been battling a sinus infection and general feelings of ickiness and the nurse was surprised by me- I have healthy blood pressure and am on no medications. She was very quick to tell me that this isn’t the case with many women my age and that I should be thankful, which I am because right after I had the Chickadee this was not the case for me either (due to some complications that people close to me have heard plenty about). I don’t take a second of feeling well for granted, and never will.

I’m grateful for my stinky dogs.

I just love them.

I had a whole other long list that had things on it like mojospa, and Nook books and Cheetos and macaroons (particularly the vanilla or pistachio ones) but I think some of the silly first world pleasure ones I will just keep to myself.

Just know that on the long list of blessings for which I am very grateful, anybody who stops by to read about me and The Chickadee is on that list as well and I am a happy, happy girl who is very fortunate.

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and Her Chickadee