Thursday, June 11, 2020

Strawberry lemonade

Between the heat, its 95 degrees here in Orange County right now, and the boy having dental surgery there hasn't been a whole lot of cooking going on around here. I went for a hike yesterday and drove by a strawberry stand. Strawberries are by far one of my favorite foods and they had full flats discounted to $20. So its strawberry everything right now.  Friends of the family gave us some lemons from their tree and I just knew that I had to make strawberry lemonade.

I juiced the lemons, their tree gives huge lemons so 3 gave me almost a cup and a half of juice. I made a simple syrup with half that amount of sugar. I cut up a handful of strawberries and let the strawberries float in the syrup while it was hot for a few minutes. So it would pull out some of the color and flavor a little faster.  Then I mixed it all together and topped the pitcher up with water. I used a 2 quart pitcher. If you want to serve immediately fill the pitcher up with ice before adding the syrup, lemon juice and water. Then mix the same.

1 1/2 cups lemon juice
3/4 cup of sugar
1 cup water
handful of strawberries sliced

Juice lemons. Place sugar and water in pan, heat and stir until sugar dissolves completely. Add strawberries to simple syrup. Add to pitcher top with water and stir.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Thai Tea

I love Thai food and one of my favorite things to get when I get Thai food is Thai tea. It's sweet and delicious and has the beautiful orange color. I just love it. I decided to look up how to make it and it is based off of a drink mix. Pantai mix seems to be one of the more popular options so I found it on Amazon for $7.40/lb. 

There are instructions on the back that are very simple, add to boiling water, strain add dairy of choice. I searched online for how long to let it sit and discovered that there's a little bit more to making it right than the back seemed to imply.

The secret is to boil the water, add the mix and sugar and allow to boil for 3 minutes, then steep for about 30 minutes. I made four cups of tea so I needed 1 cup of mix and about 3 quarters of a cup of sugar. The ratio is four tablespoons for each 8 oz of water. 

After it had set I strained it through a strainer several times, first I poured some from pan into measuring cup, then again through the strainer into a glass, one more time through the strainer back to the measuring cup and then poured into a bottle. If you have cheesecloth you can do one pass but there hasn't been any noticeable sediment. 

I usually would use sweetened condensed milk as my dairy of choice but I didn't have any on hand so I used a small amount of cream. 

All that's left is to stir it up to create that perfect orange color. It tasted just the restaurant I was super excited that I decided to figure out how to make this. Its so much cheaper than getting it out and now I can have it all the time!! 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Sausage and Pepper Pasta

I made Red Beans and Rice a few days ago I just made a small portion because the boy had never had it and I didn't know if he'd like it so I had some smoked sausage left over. It's not something that I usually use in my cooking so I had to come up with something to do with it. I decided pasta sounded good. So I came up with this pasta with bell peppers, onions, smoked sausage and some mozzarella. Italian sausage would be just as good in it if you have that on hand. Really any kind of sausage would work well.

I wanted a good bite to the pasta so I used penne.  Rigatoni, medium shells or bowties would also work well, whatever you have on hand. I like to have as many shapes of pasta as possible because I'm a crazy pasta lady. I measure out my pasta by putting a serving in the bowl I'm going to use. You want to have half as much dry pasta in the bowl as you want cooked pasta to eat.  I made enough to have leftovers for lunch so I used what was left in the jar. Salt your water with about a tablespoon of salt and add a few drops of olive oil to the water and then cook according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking chop up bell peppers I had the little baby ones on hand so I used those the package comes with yellow, red and orange, but green peppers would be tasty in here if that is what you have.  Chop the onion and the sausage as well. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil add the veggies and let cook down. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste I usually do a light sprinkle across the top of the pan. Add the sausage and the fresh herbs. I happen to have fresh herbs growing outside if you don't that's totally fine the dried stuff works just as good.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan. Stir everything together until combined. Add the pasta sauce. The amount of sauce you use is totally up to you if you want it saucier add more sauce. I'm not the biggest fan of tomato sauce so I want it very lightly coated. If you love the marinara or are looking to cut fat then stop here this is a lovely pasta. Add just the cheese if you want. I add the cream to the marinara to cut the acidity cause it messes with my stomach and gives the boy terrible heartburn. Add the cream and the mozzarella and stir to combine.

My pan here was clearly too small. Save yourself the hassle of catching pasta that falls out while you try to mix and use a bigger pan. Remember all the things have to fit in there including the pasta. Be better than me. Serve and top with parmesan. I had left over biscuits so I added one. Garlic bread would be delicious and a nice salad to help round out the meal.


pasta (penne)
3 small bell peppers diced in medium sized pieces
1/2 medium onion diced in medium sized pieces
salt, pepper to taste
garlic powder 
1 sprig fresh rosemary 
4 leaves basil 
1/2 smoked sausage 
marinara (approx 1 cup)
cream (approx 1/4 cup)
1/2 c shredded mozzarella 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Tea Club

I'm a huge fan of tea. I really enjoy a nice hot cup of tea but this time of year I drink most of my tea iced. I'll brew a pot of tea let it sit on the counter and pour it and a little simple syrup over ice and sip on it all day long. I usually get my tea from The Tea and Coffee Exchange. Its a little shop in Lake Arrowhead, California. Their Lake Arrowhead Chai is so unbelievably good I have to have it in the house all the time. They do online orders and a while ago they would sell single ounces of tea so I would order a few bags of stuff that I knew I liked and toss in a bunch of single ounces of things I wanted to try since a three ounce bag is a lot of something you don't know if you like. I ran out of a tea I liked and went to reorder and was really sad that they didn't do single ounces anymore.

I wanted to get varieties of small amount of loose teas so I searched around to see what I could find and I found The Tea Club. They give you samples of tea that will brew two to three cups and their introductory subscription is 3 flavors for a dollar. There's a shipping charge of I think $4 so it ends up being more than a dollar a month but that's life. You can add an infuser, tea bags and honey sticks for additional costs. They sell the full sized bags in their online store for around $8. Seemed like it was what I was looking for so I gave it a go.

I just received my first order and I was super excited to give the tea a try. They sent Wedding Cake, Mocha Roca and Peaches and Dream. I ordered an infuser, but I also received a tea bag and a honey stick in the pouch. Unfortunately my honey stick burst and was empty when it arrived. Oh well it was free anyway. I love peach and fruity teas so I brewed Peaches and Dream and put it over ice with a little simple syrup. Oh it is delicious light and peachy a little creamy its so fresh and flavorful. It's made of apple, rosehip, hibiscus, peach pieces and camomile.

I was really impressed and wanted to share for those of you who like tea.

LUSH saved my face!

I first went to LUSH because my sister wanted to try a bath bomb. I picked out the Dragon's Egg, found it interesting and loved the smell but decided it was an experience I didn't need to pay for again. But I kept being interested in it and looking at their catalog and stuff. I learned that it was a company from the UK and thought they might actually have products that were designed to help reduce the redness in my skin. I went in to the store and talked to them and they listened to my concerns and recommended a variety of products to help my situation I asked if they had samples cause my skin is stupid and hates everything I put on it and they totally hooked me up. My addiction began in that exchange. The idea that I could try out a beauty product before I bought it made the idea of shopping for things so much more interesting. I have always had a full shower and under sink of products that I don't like but can't make myself throw away. That was 2 years ago and I've never looked back. I've been converting everything I use over to LUSH now and my skin, and my hair have never been happier. So here are the magical products that have saved my face.

Fresh Farmacy

This product used to be in a large bar of soap that was cut to order and now it is pressed into individual portions with a cute little design on top. I was scared to order this new version because many of the reviews were poor and said that it had changed and didn't work the same. That has not been my experience. I ordered my Fresh Farmacy  online in mid March and I get plenty of lather from it and the same results. This a soap designed for sensitive skin. Fresh Farmacy  has chamomile, rose and lavender, tea tree and calamine powder. Its designed to calm, soothe dry patches, and keep skin clean and clear. It does exactly what it promises. My skin is never happier than when I use Fresh Farmacy  in my daily routine. I struggled to use it at first because I don't like wetting my face to wash it. I learned to wet my hand and then rub the soap on my hand and put the lather on my face and it works much better for me that way. I then wipe it clean with a wet washcloth. The skin feels a little bit  tight immediately after washing but that's what moisturizer is for. I prefer to use this soap in the morning. In the shower I will use Aqua Marina in the winter and spring and Herbalism in the summer and fall as my skin is more acne prone in the warmer months and drier in the cooler months. If I'm washing my face at the sink at night I will either use Fresh Farmacy or Sleepy Face.

One of the things that people don't realize is that when they switch to natural products there can be a period of purging of the skin while it acclimates. When ever I stop using Fresh Farmacy and start up again I will see a few blemishes, when I first started using it I noticed that the redness was gone and my skin looked better even though I was getting lots of zits. I read online and discovered that this purge was a thing and decided to stick it out I am so glad that I did. It's totally worth it. 

Tea Tree Water

This is a toner designed for oily skin. I've always been fond of toner as I have stupid combination skin that is super dry and yet oily and acne prone at the same time. After using LUSH's moisturizers though I've discovered the true godsend that is Tea Tree Water. After washing my face I put a few spritzes of this on my face and then I can use the most minimal amount of moisturizer to actually work on my incredibly dry face. So not only does it help to balance my skin and keep my acne at bay but it lasts for a good 6 months or so and works to make the moisturizer last longer saving me money at the same time. Thank you Tea Tree Water you do so much for me.

You may have noticed that my bottle has a white sprayer. With all the things that LUSH does incredibly well the spay nozzle is not one of them. So I swapped it out with the sprayer from and old bottle of All Nighter Setting Spray from Urban Decay. (Another love of my life, and godsend product)

Grease Lightning

This is a gentle spot treatment that works to reduce acne without drying your skin out like salicylic acid and it doesn't discolor everything it comes in contact with like the benzoyl peroxide stuff. It works really well.  Its a thin clear gel made of thyme, tea tree and rosemary. It also has aloe vera and grape juice in it. I swipe it across my whole chin and then spot treat any other problem areas like my temples.I use it everyday in the morning because I can't stop my self from resting my chin in my hand no matter how hard I try to be aware of it and I always break out like crazy from it.
The pump on this is super sensitive and just a tiny bit of product goes a long way give it a really, really gentle pump to get just a little bit out. If you press it all the way down you can cover your whole face and share some with a friend.

Imperialis/ Skin Drink

My skin is finicky it likes to pretend that its dry and dehydrated af (no matter how much water I drink) but if it gets too rich of a moisturizer in the spring/summer it'll go into grease overload and I'll break out. So I have two regular moisturizers in the fall and winter I'll use Imperialis in the morning and Skin Drink at night. In the spring/summer I just stick with Imperialis for both am and pm. 

Imperialis is a medium weight moisturizer designed to soothe the skin. Its designed for most skin types to ease and soothe irritations. It has lavender to help balance the skin and orange blossom water to brighten dull skin. It smells lightly floral but not overwhelming and I'm super sensitive to floral scents. This is a great moisturizer and it really helps to balance my skin.
Skin Drink is LUSH's richest moisturizer and is totally amazing for dry skin. My mom has the worst dry skin and she loves this product so much. It has rose petal extract, avocado and aloe vera to moisturize skin. Evening primrose, neroli and rose oils help with skin texture and make you glow. It has an earthy almost tahini like smell but it doesn't linger after its on. I swear by this in the winter but as soon as the California heat cranks up my skin is like nope now I get super oily and I switch back to the Imperialis. 
I mentioned when I was talking about the Tea Tree Water that it helps me to use the smallest amount of moisturizer. I simply take two fingertips on each hand and lightly dab them onto the top of the lotion then I rub it on my forehead and down my face. I might need a second dab around my cheeks and that's it. My sister always complains that their moisturizers go to fast but I get a good 6 months or so out of them with the way I apply it. 

You may have noticed my Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF 50 in the picture. Since LUSH doesn't do sunscreen in the US and I'm terrible about applying sunscreen to my face cause I hate the feel and it makes me break out like crazy I decided to try these out. I got it at Ulta (after searching for the link it looks like ULTA doesn't carry it any longer) its pricey but it lasts a while I don't know if I'll rebuy or just try and get over my sunscreen issues. This is an ultra thin, concentrated sunscreen that you can add into your moisturizer I will add a drop onto the moisturizer on my fingertips and rub them in together on my face. They seem to work cause I don't burn when I use it. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Easy Pink Sauce Pasta

 I adore pasta and I eat entirely too much of it. This is one of my favorite easy pastas to make for lunch or dinner. I'm not the biggest fan of marina too much tomato bothers my stomach but sometimes I just want to have that marina flavor. Solution? Pink sauce. Pink sauce is an amazing combination of alfredo and marina that cuts down on the acidity of tomatoes. Even the staunchest tomato sauce haters in my family enjoy this sauce. You can make it on any type of pasta you like. One of my favorites is bow ties. I decided to have spaghetti today. This it totally flexible so I'm not going to include a lot of measurements just ingredients and instructions. Best part is you can make it one pan and there's no time consuming thickening of the alfredo.

Select your pasta of choice and make an appropriate amount for who ever is eating. I had about a quarter box of thin spaghetti in the pantry so that's what I used today. If using long noodles I usually do about a quarter pound per person, you can also use the large hole in the middle of the spaghetti scooper to measure, but I find that pasta amounts are not quite enough or all the pasta in the world. Cook according to package directions in water that has about a tablespoon of salt in it and a small amount of olive oil. Strain pasta and set aside.

In empty pan place butter I use about a half tablespoon per person. Add the drained pasta. Add a tablespoon or two of Parmesan cheese, the Kraft stuff works perfectly fine. I just happened to have the shredded one on hand. I used a bit more cheese than I normally would but it was what was left in the container. Then add heavy cream. Its somewhere between two tablespoons and a quarter cup of cream you want enough to cover the pasta but not drown it.  As shown in the picture below.

Now turn the stove on to medium heat and stir like hell. If you're using fresh Parmesan it usually clumps into a sticky mess on the spoon so scrape that goo on the side of the pan and then work it back into the pasta. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. I usually just do a light sprinkle across the top of the pan. Now you have super easy alfredo. I totally make my pasta like this all the time. It cuts down on the amount of cream and sauce that is used and I don't feel sick like I do if I get alfredo out and there's a lovely lake of cream in my bowl. Obviously this isn't low-fat by any means but its a little bit better of an option than it could be.

To make pink sauce add three to four spoon fulls of marina sauce, more if your a big sauce or marina fan, when I make it for my good friend I always add some extra sauce for him cause he likes things super saucy.  I usually use a tomato basil sauce if I don't have any homemade on hand. Bertolli makes a pretty decent sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and some fresh basil if you happen to have some on hand. When I make this for dinner I usually will add some Italian sausage. I use about a quarter pound of sausage for two people or one link. Spread the sausage out when you cook it so its in small chunks and stir it in between the white and marinara sauces. It makes a freaking awesome dish. Serve with garlic bread and a salad for a complete meal. 

LUSH Flight bath bomb review

I love, love, love LUSH's bath bombs the smells are enveloping and the after effects in the water are great but my favorite part is the show when the colors are swirling into the bath and developing. I've been ordering online during the pandemic and its taking about 3 weeks to get an order. They go through phases where lots of things are out of stock and then they will come back in. You can submit your email to be notified when your product is back. I had to do that with the Twilight body spray I bought and when they notified me they had a bunch of bath bombs back as well.  Since the bath is my happy place I've been indulging a little more to get me through this time.

I tried Flight for the first time. I don't remember seeing it in store and I usually don't buy things I haven't smelled but unique times are making me try new things. This bomb is beautiful in color with swirls of purple, blue and green and some salt flakes on top. I love multicolored bombs cause they usually give a great show. Its highly textured and of moderate size. The smell is described as citrusy-sweet its made up of Sicilian red mandarin and bergamot oils. I tend to really like bergamot so I figured this would be a safe bet. There is a hint of geranium oil as well but it is in no way overpoweringly floral. I don't really like the floral scents and try to avoid them. There is also coarse sea salt to help soften skin. The smell was gorgeous and lingered in the bathroom after my bath.

The show was very pretty with blue, purple and green swirls. The foamy color didn't cover the entirety of the tub but it was decent sized and it left the water a beautiful bright blue with sparkles.
I always video the bomb when I put it in the water I find watching the videos so relaxing and I can go back and remember which ones I really like. Of course now that LUSH released so many new bath bombs I can keep trying new ones without having to repeat. I still get a few old favorites some times like Intergalactic or Dragon's Egg. Which were some of the first ones I got and totally fell in love with. 

 When I get the heavily glittered bombs I love playing with the water after and watching the glitter swirl and move in the water. The absolute best bath bomb I ever had for glitter in the water was one they released for Mother's day this year Blazin' Bad Zula it was yellow and purple spotted and it left the water this amazing deep, dark purple with gold glitter swirls. I loved it so much I bought two more afterwards. I might write a review about it but its currently unavailable and might not be coming back since it was seasonal. So hopefully it returns and I can share the magic with all of you. But this pretty blue and silver glitter was pretty fun as well. My favorite part is even though there is clearly so much glitter I just have a quick rinse in the shower after and I'm never noticeably sparkly like if I were to use a glitter lotion or anything.