My guilty pleasure is reading what other people use and love, pretending I can buy everything they recommend, adding it all to my virtual shopping cart, leaving it there, and then suffering through endless reminder emails like, “San Diego Momma! We noticed that everything Sephora sells is still waiting for checkout” and “This is Anthropologie. Are you planning to buy the $500 Aphrodite Parisian poncho that’s been in your cart since September?” Although I cannot truthfully say I haven’t run out to order something that looked great on someone else, put it on, and thought, “Maybe I should have noticed they were a size 2 when I am a size 2 on Mars where there is no gravity.” But still, it’s good to dream. And remember those Tory Burch boots that’ve languished in my Nordstrom fake shopping cart since late 2012.
Either way, I’ve decided that I’d make my own “favorites” list because there are some things I truly do love and didn’t copy from someone else and perhaps you’ll want to add them to your own imaginary shopping cart in the sky.
Here’s what I’ve used and dug in the last few months:
Christine Shampoo and Conditioner
About a year ago I decided to ditch all sulfates in my shampoos. My hair is as thin as the day is full of 24 hours and responds poorly to drying, stripping ingredients. In fact, I couldn’t get my hair to grow past my chin without breaking into a million little pieces, and I resigned myself to living with hair that looked like Dolly Parton’s under the wig. Then, I tried an argan oil-based, sulfate-free shampoo and noticed my hair had some life in it after all. It felt moisturized but not heavy and better yet, it grew, which when you have thin hair is akin to saying you just lost 20 pound in your sleep.
About six months ago, I began trying the Christine line of sulfate-free products and my hair literally bounced. BOUNCED. Which if you have thin hair, is akin to saying Anthropologie called and wants to give you all the stuff you fake-placed in your daydream shopping cart. I especially love the Christine conditioner and have found that even if I have to resort to the subpar shampoo I make my kids use, the conditioner erases all its effects and makes my hair still look fluffy in the good way.
Illuminare Mattifying (Ultimate All Day) Mineral Foundation
Disclaimer: I’m the sort of person who likes to cover her skin because: oily, adult acne, and uneven tone. In high school, I used this medicine that was flesh-colored and smelled like sulfur and applied it to every square inch of my face, making me look like I had just pulled panty hose over my head. I’ve since moved on, and now use actual foundation instead of benzoyl peroxide as makeup.
I love Illuminare because it goes on fluidly, gives great coverage, and keeps me shine-free all day (a feat, I swear). It also is mineral-based, so I don’t break out while using it and it provides natural sunscreen, which is nice because I usually forget to apply actual sunscreen.
Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go
Last weekend, I decided to maybe go paleo. The problem is, I really dislike meat, but I’m sure I’ll find a workaround. I tend to be quite a healthy eater and love my beans and quinoas and raw soups, but have noticed lately that my system seems to be reacting to something. In fact, the big toe on my right foot is tender and painful, my gastrointestinal track has been uppity and crampy, and I feel nauseas more often than is preferable. My doctor suggested I go off gluten (which I have tried before to no result) because that dietary change could reduce my obvious inflammatory response. (Aside: I’ve tested positive for lupus twice with an ANA test, but further testing has been negative.) On Saturday, I decided to stop with the gluten again and can tell you I noticed an immediate difference – although I know it doesn’t work that quickly – right? Regardless, I’ve felt better and so decided to possibly try the paleo way of eating for 30 days to see if that makes a further difference. I spent a lot of time browsing the cookbook above and found the recipes to be approachable and easy. Most call for less than 10 ingredients and there are plenty of vegetables I can incorporate to throw off the taste of meat. That said, I ate 12 pieces of bacon yesterday, so the meat dislike comes and goes. (The 12 pieces of bacon is not my typical hyperbole and comic exaggeration and can be independently verified by my children who witnessed me baking the entire package and giving them one piece each while I dispatched the rest.)
My Crock Pot
I’ve been making several meals a week with my crock pot and it is a lifesaver in the evenings when I’m in no mood to prepare a real dinner after homework battles, practices, and freelancing. I don’t enjoy my crock pot per se and need a new one, but crock pot cooking in general is easier and tastier than traditional cooking for me. Many days, I throw frozen chicken thighs in the crock, pour over a sauce (Cost Plus has some great simmer sauces), and leave it all to cook for hours. Then I cook up some rice (or most often, don’t) and serve it up. I made the below crock pot pea soup last week and even the kids liked it:
1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed
2 medium carrots, peeled and medium dice
2 medium celery stalks, medium dice
1/2 medium yellow onion, medium dice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 meaty smoked ham bone or 2 ham hocks (about 1 pound)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (1 quart)
2 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
Arrange the split peas in the slow cooker in an even layer. Arrange the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley, and bay leaf over the peas in one even layer. Place the ham bone or hocks on top of the vegetables. (At this point you can remove the insert from the slow cooker, cover, and refrigerate up to 12 hours until ready to continue.)
Pour the chicken broth and water into the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the peas are very soft and the meat is falling off the bone, on high for 5 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours.
Remove the ham bone or hocks to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, place the meat back in the soup (discard the skin and bones), and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
When I was feeling especially gastro-intestiney last week, someone recommended I take some Bio K to load my system with probiotics. I did, and after about an hour, my system settled down. This is dairy-based, so won’t be a part of my perhaps-paleo diet, but it did the trick when I needed it. I plan to give this to my kids if they start feeling sick because probiotics strengthen the immune system. (I got it at Sprouts.)
Now you! What are you loving? Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.
To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.