Sample review 1

I LOVE samples; and by “love” I mean, I have a basket that is overflowing with samples that I have collected over the last few years. If a company gives it away as a sample, I probably have it or have gotten it in the past. With my overwhelming abundance of these samples, I have decided to do a review on them. 

My first sample is the Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion*. 

  
I have a bad habit of forgetting to put lotion on after getting out of the shower so I thought, “why not just put it on while in the shower!” 

Pros and cons of this sample. 

Pro – my skin was softer than usual after getting out of the shower. 

Pro – very light scent, if any at all. 

Con – I think this particular sample was made for someone who is 5’2″ and 90 pounds; I am around 5’8″ and 150, so needless to say there wasn’t much to go around. 

*Note: I am not paid to endorse this product, I am just giving my opinion of it. 

Christmas gift boxes

I am a huge addict of Pinterest, especially when it comes to Christmas gift time; and every time I’m on there I see all of these wonderful gift box/basket ideas. This year when it came to gift giving time at work I decided to do gift boxes for the two ladies that have been my friends for the last 6-7 years, so here goes. 

I started with a collapsible box from Walmart for both, I then added things that I thought each of them would like. 

Box 1: 

  
Collapsible box, blanket, box of tea, a teapot/mug combined, fuzzy socks, bubble bath, lotion, face mask, and a bar of chocolate. 

Box 2: 

  
Collapsible box, blanket, Epsom salts for aches and pains, candle, fuzzy socks, a Japanese washcloth, face mask, lotion, and a bar of chocolate. 

Later on I also received a huge box of Garnier Millecular Cleansing water and Garnier Clearly brighter moisturizer, so I added one each in both boxes*.  

  
*Note: I did not receive any endorsements for this. 

Below I have added pictures of the construction of each box. 

   
    
 
 

Reading list 2015

I have decided that my New Year’s resolution each year will be to read more books than the previous year, my list last year included 24 books read; and this year I was only able to read 22, even though I had an original goal of 30. To track how many books I read in a year I use the Goodreads yearly reading goal. I used the “pick-and-read” system that I began using last year to determine what book to read, I revised it to include the type of book I should read instead of just picking the title of book.

2015 was the “year of the series”; meaning that I read more books that were part of a series than standalone books, not that I minded.

Here is a list of the books I read in 2015 and my thoughts on each.

I have also added the number of stars 1-5 (*-*****) on my rating of each book.

All books with a √ are my favorite books that I read.

 

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien – I began this series in 2014, and knowing I had to finish it I decided to start my year with book two. The longer I read this series the more I appreciated the avid fans of it. *****
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien – Finishing this series was heartbreaking, I really wish Tolkien had written more books in this series. I would have loved to have known if Frodo got married and started his own Hobbit family. *****
  3. Atonement by Ian McEwan √ – A BOOK WITH A ONE WORD TITLE – I am huge fan of this movie, and found that the book and the movie mirrored each other fairly well. I loved this book so much that I ended up reading it in two days. *****
  4. Persuasion by Jane Austen – I found this to be very slow all the way through; for being such a short book it took me a long time to read. **
  5. Naked Heat by Richard Castle – A BOOK BASED ON OR MADE INTO A TV SHOW – Having read the first novel in this series last year I knew I wanted to read more, so that is why I picked it when I drew the strip. ****
  6. The Gift by Danielle Steel – A BOOK THAT CAME OUT THE YEAR YOU WERE BORN (1986) – This was actually a reread for me, I didn’t mind though. I have probably read this Danielle Steel book more than any others of hers. ****
  7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon √ – When I drew this book I didn’t realize what I was getting into. This series was INTENSE! I could not get enough. The relationship between Jaime and Claire to start their relationship was wonderful. I loved going back in time to Scotland. *****
  8. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 2 in the Outlander series started out slow, but once I got into it, it turned out to be a wonderful book. *****
  9. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon √ – Outlander book 3 was one of my favorites in the series. *****
  10. Bossypants by Tina Fey – A FUNNY BOOK – I ended up reading this in the middle of the Outlander series because I was having to wait on book 4 to come up on my OverDrive app. This was a lot funnier than I thought. Highly recommended. ****
  11. Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 4 was worth the wait. The way it showed the relationship of Brianna and Roger was one of my favorites in the series. *****
  12. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 5 of the series took me to historical places I had only read about in history books, and I loved it! *****
  13. A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 6 took the series to a whole new level. *****
  14. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon √ – Book 7 had many ups and downs, I almost couldn’t keep up, not that I minded. *****
  15. Written in My Own Hearts Blood by Diana Gabaldon √ – I was really sad when I finished book 8. Book 9 is being written, and I wanted to read it immediately after I was done with 8. *****
  16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling √ – A BOOK THAT WAS MADE INTO A MOVIE – When I picked this slip, I figured why not reread the HP series. This is one of my favorite series to read, as it is one of my favorite series to watch, *****
  17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling √ – Harry Potter, need I say more? *****
  18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling √ – Sirius Black = best godfather ever; after he was found innocent of course.
  19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling √ – My favorite movie, and my favorite book. *****
  20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling √ – I wish I were a witch so I could have a group of bodyguards like the Order. The death of Sirius hurt me just as bad as the first time I read it. *****
  21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling √ – As this series comes to a close I always get a little sad because I begin to fall in love with all of the characters. *****
  22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling √ – When I get to the final book in the HP series, I want to relish it and read it very slowly. I wanted to do it this time, but I also wanted to finish the series before the end of the year. This is another series where I wish there were more to it, I would love to know what happens to the original characters’ children while they’re at Hogwarts. *****

 

I have included my reading resolution lists for 2016, that I can add to my “book tribute” bucket. In 2014 I found a wonderful idea of picking a book out of a hat, or in my case a Tide Pods container (see last year’s book blog); I then took an old envelope and put all of the books I picked in it, I wrote on the slip when I started the book and when I finished the book. I also put each book I finished on the back of the envelope; in a separate notebook I put my list to keep better track of what I read.

 

I read most of my books on the Overdrive library app, it is the perfect way to read books if you have a library card.

 

I hope you can find a great read or two on my list.

See you in 2016!

 

book 1book 2book 3

Cheesy taco pie

My grandma used to make a similar recipe to this, except it was from one of those boxed meals from the grocery store; so when I found this recipe on The Country Cook’s blog I thought I would give it a try. 

This is great for when you don’t have a lot of time; so here goes. 

1 pound ground beef (I’m sure you could use ground turkey or chicken also)

Taco seasoning

Flour tortillas 

1/2 cup salsa con queso (I eyeballed it) 

Shredded cheese

Brown meat in a pan, drain grease. Sprinkle seasoning on meat. Mix in queso until combined. 

Spray a round baking pan. Place tortilla on the bottom. Layer meat and cheese on tortillas in three layers. 

Cook for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Enjoy! 
Here is the link to the original recipe: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/A0IJgwAQgEsDtTC4FToAAAA/  

    
    
   

Banana Boom!

I found the perfect Fourth of July dessert. I am calling it Banana boom, because of the explosion of flavors that mingled on my tongue.

Ingredients:

– 1 banana for each person

– Toppings, such as:

  • Chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows
  • Nuts (I used walnuts)
  • Fruits
  • Coconut

Instructions:

Place banana so it curves upwards, slit peel open, slit banana open without going all the way through.

Stuff with toppings of choice.

After you fill your banana, wrap it in foil and place on grill (medium heat for 8-10 minutes); or in oven/toaster oven (400 degrees for 15-20 minutes). Unwrap all of the gooeyness and enjoy!

Banana will be soft and toppings melted. It is okay if the banana peel is black.

P.S. This would also be really tasty with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

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Slow cooker chicken spaghetti

I love pasta, so I thought I would try something a little different for dinner this week. My granny makes a baked chicken spaghetti, but I thought I would do mine in the slow cooker. This is actually one of the easiest recipes I have done.

Ingredients:

1-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (I like a lot of meat in my pasta)

3 cloves minced garlic, I used a pinch of minced garlic in the jar

salt & pepper, measure to taste

3 cups chicken broth added with the chicken; 1 cup with noodles and cheeses

16 oz spaghetti noodles

8 oz cream cheese

2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar, because that is what I had on hand)

Instructions:

1. Add the chicken breast, salt, pepper, and broth to the slow cooker

2. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low

3. Shred chicken breast and return to cooker (I shredded mine while it was in the bowl, to me it was easier)

4. Break uncooked noodles in half and then add to cooker with both cheeses (next time I will put the cream cheese under the noodles and the shredded cheese on top of the noodles)

5.  Stir and replace cover, let it cook for another 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your slow cooker. You can add more broth if you need to during this time.

6. Make sure everything is mixed together and serve.

You may want to stir it while it is cooking in the last 30-60 minutes.

ENJOY!

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Better than Chef Boyardee slow cooker ravioli

I found an easy slow cooker recipe that was as quick as it was tasty, and I was told it tasted better than Chef Boyardee.

Ingredients

1 25 oz bag of frozen ravioli (I used cheese)

1 jar of pasta sauce of your choice

1 cup (or amount of your choosing) mozzarella cheese

Instructions

1. Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with bag of ravioli, and pour the remaining sauce over the top. Stir to coat evenly.

2. Cook for around 1 1/2 hours (the original recipe said 2 1/2 hours, but my sauce began to burn after about 2 hours). After 1 1/2 hours, top with cheese and cook until cheese is melted and bubbly.

This was a big hit with in my house!

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Quote of the day 5/14/2015

  

Quote of the Day 5/2/2015

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. It’s a world of hopes, and a world of fears. –It’s A Small World

CrockPot chicken fajitas

At work this week I decided it was my turn to make an awesome lunch, I tried to find the easiest recipes I could think of; none of them seemed to jump out at me, so I went to my trusty website Pinterest. When I find recipes on Pinterest, I always tweak them to make them my own, just as I did with this one. This recipe called for seasonings (cumin, paprika, and coriander) that I didn’t want to buy or try to locate in my spice basket, so I used what sounded good in my head (ground red pepper). I just want to say that these turned out to be such a big hit, it could have been a two outs, bottom of the 9th grand salami! So here goes!!!

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes with green chilies

3 bell peppers julienned (I used red, because they were on sale when I was shopping)

1 yellow onion, halved and sliced

1 tsp minced garlic

2 1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground red pepper (the original recipe called for 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp paprika, and 3/4 tsp ground coriander)

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (I used the cute little lime bottle)

1 Tbsp honey

Flour tortillas, cheese, sour cream, salsa, or any other toppings you might enjoy

Directions

Pour half of the canned tomatoes into the bottom of a slow cooker and spread into an even layer. Top with half of the peppers and half of the onions. Sprinkle in garlic. Top with chicken breasts.

In a bowl whisk together chili powder, salt, black pepper, and seasonings of your choice, in my case the ground red pepper. Evenly sprinkle half of the seasoning over chicken breasts then flip chicken and sprinkle in remainder. Top with remaining half of the tomatoes, then layer in remaining peppers and onions.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-8 hours, until chicken has cooked and through and veggies are tender. You can either take out the chicken at the lower point of cooking and slice it, or wait until you’re ready to eat and the chicken will shred, this is what I did and it was perfect.

If you would like, you can ladle out 1 cup of the broth and discard, the juice was amazing, this could almost be a soup. Gently toss. Serve warm, along with the tortillas, and all of the toppings.

I hope you enjoy this. I have posted pictures of the process and ingredients. IMG_8019 IMG_8020 IMG_8021 IMG_8022

In a small bowl whisk together lime juice and honey and add to slow cooker.