Organic Beauty Finds on the Cheap

Make up is the best right? It can cover up a multitude of sins such as dark circles under our eyes, skin imperfections or days when we are feeling a little dull in our sparkle. I have always loved make up which includes reading, finding and sampling new products. Since I am still on a hunt for a job, my makeup shopping has undergone a bit of a budget cut these days. Sephora purchases are totally my favorite thing, but I have opened up my eyes to more options as of late. There is a lot of makeup out there that is less expensive, but I try to buy the best products I can find. While I am not perfect I cannot in good conscious buy items that are laden with tons of additives or chemicals since I do know better.

Natural Beauty

As I explained in a prior post you can read here my concept with makeup and skincare is to “move towards green.” The good news is that there are more products available at a lower price point, and they are readily available at Target or major drug stores. This is an area I find very interesting because I think women vary widely on what they are willing to spend. The funny thing is that with skill you will sometimes never know who paid $8 for their lipstick or $30. As with many things, the key is presentation.

Even Target is getting on board…check out these snazzy displays from my last visit there!

Boots Botanics

Boots Botanics has a variety of skincare and make up products. I was not really in need of anything at the moment, but saw that they have base, eye shadow and blush. They also have an eye cream I was checking out. A lot of their other skin care items looked on point. You can read more about their story and order items online here. Boots is also really focused on sustainability and recycling which is very important for the environment as we all know. I will be checking out more of their products as the need arises.

There were also some lovely displays for Yes to Carrots and Burt’s Bees.

Frame

I picked up my Yes to Cucumbers facial wipes for removing makeup. They are an Allure Award Winner and I have always had success with them in the past. At $5.99 I feel like they are a pretty good value. Burt’s Bees has pretty much makes the best lip moisturizers of all time. Now they are expanding into more options for color. Love it.

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My other new makeup purchase was Physician’s Formula mascara. I did a google search to see what was out there in the way of organic choices and this is what the internet provided me. I love Tarte’s mascara, but it is on the pricier side and I wanted to see if there was something that could come close. Mascara is a more frequent purchase for me since the experts always say you should replace it every three months. I picked up the Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Mascara at around $8. I do not remember the exact amount, but it was about a third of the cost of Tarte. It is not quite as good, but I am liking it enough for now.

Mascara

So those are my finds for now, but I will be sure to report back with any winners!

Question of the Day: Do you feel organic make up is important? Any beauty product recommendations?

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The Tor-Chuy: A Tortilla for “The People’s Champ”

Chuy Chuy Chuy…Oi Oi Oi.

Such is the chant of the hardcore Austin Aztex Soccer supporters, led by Eberly’s Army. Scott worked as the Speed & Strength Coach with the Aztex this past season, and their breakout star was definitely Chuy Cortez. Chuy became known as the “people’s champion” and thrilled crowds with his late game heroics. He was also voted Most Valuable Player by the fans and Offensive Player of the Year by leading the team in scoring. Pretty darn impressive.

Go Chuy!

Go Chuy!

Chuy training with Scott.

Chuy training with Scott.

Our weekend started out on a fun note as Scott and I set aside time to make almond flour tortillas together for dinner. Scott has been training Chuy this offseason and the subject of tortillas came up recently – the reason behind this menu selection, of course. Chuy had completely embraced Scott’s unique approach to training & eating, and so experienced a remarkable difference in his health & performance. Chuy was buying pastured eggs and grass-fed meats, cooking with coconut oil, eating grass-fed butter and trying to rid his diet of all corn, soy and wheat.

As Chuy felt and saw the difference in his body & life, he wanted to bring some of this back to his family. In Mexican culture, it is common to consume tortillas with every single meal. That is definitely a lot of tortillas! Chuy wanted to try and find a healthy replacement recipe for his family.

Scott joked that he would get his girlfriend on the case – Chuy had loved the Pumpkin Paleo Pancake recipe I had passed along to him awhile back.

I did a little bit of searching online, and found a recipe for almond flour tortillas that I felt we could use as a guide and a starter concept. I decided to make an at home date night of it, and Scott was on board.

Date night in our kitchen.

Date night in our kitchen.

With some country music blaring in the background we set up to get started … for Chuy. :-)

Ingredients: almond flour, coconut oil, eggs, cayenne pepper ad salt.

Ingredients: almond flour, coconut oil, eggs, cayenne pepper ad salt.

Ingredients:
- 2 Cups of Almond Flour
- 2 Large Pasture-Raised Eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (Adjust to taste)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil (for “greasing” smack-pan & for cooking)
Preparation:
In small bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well with spoon then use hand to kneed dough.
Frame w ingredients
Mix up the ingredients with a large spoon into a dough.

Mix up the ingredients with a large spoon into a dough.

Dough should be elastic and hold together. If dough too dry add small amount of water as needed.
Forming the dough into a ball shape.

Forming the dough into a ball shape.

Divide dough into 3 equal balls (about the size of a nectarine or slightly smaller than a lacrosse ball).
Forming the balls into three similar shaped sizes.

Forming the balls into three similar shaped sizes.

Roll each ball and place on parchment paper.
Place the balls on parchment paper and get ready for the fun part!

Place the balls on parchment paper and get ready for the fun part!

Use a small fry pan to “smack” balls into flat, round tor-chuy’s. A rolling pin is okay, eh but not quite as cool. Make sure to “grease” the bottom on the small pan with coconut oil to prevent the stick factor.
Make sure the pan is greased on the bottom and then flatten the dough.

Make sure the pan is greased on the bottom and then flatten the dough.

Peel off with a super thin spatula (metal works best).
Peel tortilla off of pan with a metal spatula.

Peel tortilla off of pan with a metal spatula.

Place coconut oil in skillet and bring to medium heat. When hot, place tort-chuy in pan and cook each side for 30 to 40 seconds. the longer the cook time the crispier the finish.
Tortillas cooking up on the stove.

Tortillas cooking up on the stove.

Remove and dampen with paper towel. Place on a plate to serve.
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The finished product!

While Scott was busy with his meat cooking job….

Scott on meat cooking duty.

Scott on meat cooking duty.

I chopped up zucchini, onions and peppers and cooked them in coconut oil to go with our tor-chuys.

Always eat your veggies!

Always eat your veggies!

Our lovely tor-chuy dinner.

Our lovely tor-chuy dinner.

The tor-chuy’s were delicious! They do not fold up like a traditional tortilla so you will have to serve them on the side and pile on your ingredients. They are a a great alternative to flour tortillas. Let me know if you decide to try them out too! They are soy, corn, wheat and dairy free.

Hope your week is off to a good start!
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8/22: Friday’s Favorite Things

Write down what it is that you really want, and what one thing made you happiest today.

Change the mantra in your head…..Elizabeth Gilbert.

Alas a good reminder and great advice from the author of Eat, Pray, Love. I have been putting a focus on positive literature, and goal-setting as of late. This year has been such a transition time for me between being downsized at my job and moving from New Jersey to Texas. My mom shared this quote that she heard this week, and it really resonated with me. When we are faced with challenges we should look inside and truly assess what we really want and not just go through the motions. Turn those desires into goals, go after your goals, and believe in yourself and the ability to make them a reality. Silence all the negativity in your mind that you could be holding onto. It is a waste of space in your head and your time.

Scott and I just started a new tradition this week. While adjusting to living together the negativity of daily living has a tendency to creep in a bit. I never knew you always (insert anything about the dishwasher, bathroom or laundry), and it was becoming negative. Well, we started sharing one thing every night at dinner that makes us grateful about the other person. It has been a positive change that I really like. Speaking of dinner, we are experimenting with gluten-free almond flour tortillas tonight. Stay tuned for a review on Monday as to whether or not they make the grade! Now onto Friday’s Favorite Things.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – I have loved seen this grow virtually where it was popping up on my social media feeds here and there. Then it became more and more prevalent and then – hold the phone – I saw a video of Oprah doing it and challenging Steven Spielberg and a few other famous people. Say what? This was catching on like wild fire and it has been great to see creative videos and bear witness as ALS has continued gain momentum and raise money for research. My favorite video I have seen so far is the Zack Brown Band really taking it to the next level. You can watch the video here.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Mario Bedusco – Mario Bedusco is simply the best skin treatment of all time. I have been using it for years because I was reading in every magazine that it was THE product to have on hand for breakouts. Due to changes in my diet and lifestyle my skin is usually worry-free. Mario has been sitting in my bathroom vanity for a long time. This week, however, the heat and humidity in Austin hit me like a ton of bricks, and I started having skin breakouts everywhere. Mario has come to my rescue, and I cannot recommend it enough if you are in a similar predicament.

Mario Bedusco

This Picture – Holy blast from the past! I took an improv comedy class in at the UCB in New York City six summers ago, and it was a real joy. The class got along so well. Everyone had a great attitude, and it made it such a wonderful experience. We would get together to do extra class work, attend comedy shows or simply hang out over a few drinks. One class member was truly a standout, and I remember thinking that he could go onto really great things. Over the years, I have seen him consistently booking shows on the stand-up comedy circuit. I received an email this week from one of my old class members saying that she was going to go to his show at Caroline’s and did anyone want to join her? Caroline’s is where Seinfeld was always doing his thing in the introduction of his show. Such a big deal! It was so amazing she reached out to us after all this time, and she included this picture in her email which immediately took me in a time capsule back exactly six years ago.

UCB

Weight Lifting Shoes – So I officially feel like a bad ass now. No…not really at all. Scott recommended I get lifting shoes a few weeks ago for my squat and deadlift workouts. He of course ordered a pair too, but if you look closely mine have the purple stripes.

Weight Lifting Shoes

I am getting used to wearing them since they are hard and need to be broken in a bit. They also have a little heel which is an adjustment too. If you do any type of lifting then these types of shoes could serve as a benefit. You can check them out on the Muscle Driver website here.

Orange is the New Black – My sister loved this show and raved about it for a while. I watched the first season in a blur, and I am slowly making my way through the 2nd season. It is a little slower and I have been busy in the evenings with a few projects I am developing. The show is very entertaining and I am enjoying it way more than I thought I would. After all it is a show about women in prison. I love having a show I am watching where I can control how much I watch at one time. Typically I am a binge watcher of such things, but it is cool to have option to pace myself.

Orange is the New Black

Question of the Day: What is one thing making you happy this week?

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Building Brazilian Butts

If it’s important do it every day…Dan John

Everyone has their Achilles heel in their pursuit of their fitness. It is very rare and lucky if someone has the whole picture come together simultaneously. When I first started working out my abs developed really fast. It was so exciting! I naturally assumed my whole body would follow suit and alas it did not. While my arms, back and legs are not super muscular they have consistently improved over time. My main focal point in my workouts that gives me my most trouble is my booty – or lack thereof. My butt has always been as flat as a pancake, and if my weeks get crazy and I do not get in that many workouts I can see a drop-off almost immediately. It is totally frustrating when you pour a lot of time and work into something and the outcome feels so will-o’-the-wisp.

When I was moving in earlier this summer I was so crazed that I did not get to the gym all that much. After spending the day running around finding boxes, packing and making phone calls all I wanted to do was collapse on my couch and watch Orange is the New Black. I have always been a fan of getting in quick workouts in my apartment if it got too late, but with boxes everywhere and my things out of place this was not really going so well for me either.

So my booty definitely took a hit and I was sort of “bummed” about what to do about it. So cheesy, but I could not help it. :-)  I lift weights three times a week, and I got back into my routine once I was settled. However, I wanted some fast results and I know for muscle growth you often need to work that body part every day. I was grilling Scott about what to do as some type of jumpstart for visible improvement, and he put together these exercises which I have been doing consistently on the days where I do not lift weights. I will either add these on the end of a cardio session or do them at night while watching TV. Scott and I joke that I am doing my “Brazilian Butt Workout” due to a crazy infomercial that’s been on TV. Have you seen it? Word to the wise…you cannot transform your butt that easily or quickly.

I met Scott since he was my personal trainer back in the day. He currently coaches a professional soccer team in Austin, and works privately with clients. If you are “booty-challenged” like me these exercises could be an awesome addition to your workout routine. Plus they can be completed anywhere (like your living room) and do not take up to much time. Done and done.

Ankle Weight Exercises:

The first series of exercises are done with an ankle weight. I use 5lbs and you can pick them up at places like Walmart or Target. I alternate sides for a total of 10 repetitions for 2-3 sets.

#1 - Your foot will start on the floor as mine is shown below. Maintain good posture, draw your stomach in and have your knee slightly in back of your standing leg.

#1 – Your foot will start on the floor as mine is shown below. Maintain good posture, draw your stomach in and have your knee slightly in back of your standing leg.

Pull your knee back towards your booty while maintaining tension in the leg.

Pull your knee back towards your booty while maintaining tension in the leg.

2nd Position #2 - Start with your foot on the floor. The leg without an ankle weight should be slightly elevated. Draw your leg out to the side and back. Concentrate on keeping your toe pointed in.

2nd Position
#2 – Start with your foot on the floor. The leg without an ankle weight should be slightly elevated.

 Draw your leg out to the side and back. Concentrate on keeping your toe pointed in.

Draw your leg out to the side and back. Concentrate on keeping your big toe pointed in.

Foot is planted on the floor. Leg maintains tension.

#3 – Foot is planted on the floor. Leg maintains tension.

Keep your leg straight and raise to the back. Keep your foot flexed.

Keep your leg straight and raise to the back. Keep your foot flexed.

Start with your foot first planted on the floor and your knee raised in front of you.

#4 – Start with your foot first planted on the floor and your knee raised in front of you.

Push your leg back from the start position to straight behind you and hold. Remember to maintain posture. Hips tucked under you, stomach drawn in and shoulders relaxed.

Push your leg back from the start position to straight behind you and hold. Remember to maintain posture. Hips tucked under you, stomach drawn in and shoulders relaxed.

Glute Bridge: For the bridges, I usually do as many as I feel like. Approximately 30-50 reps total.

Lie on the floor with legs bent, arms crossed and hips tucked under you.

Lie on the floor with legs bent, arms crossed and hips tucked under you.

Expode into a glute bridge while maintaining good form until you have reached the maximum height possible for you.

Drive up into a glute bridge while maintaining good form until you have reached your maximum.

1-Leg Glute Bridge: I will typically do 20-30 on each side depending on how much time I have and how I feel.

Lie on the ground with one foot on the floor and one leg bent. Arms crossed over your chest.

Lie on the ground with one foot on the floor and one leg bent. Arms crossed over your chest.

Drive up until you have reached your  maximum. It will be more difficult than the glute bridge.

Drive up until you have reached your maximum. It will be more difficult than the glute bridge.

Hamstring Bridge: These are way challenging! I can usually only handle about 10 on each side.

On the floor legs are straight in front of you with your feet flexed. Arms are providing support and weight is distributed evenly.

On the floor legs are straight in front of you with your feet flexed. Arms are providing support and weight is distributed evenly.

Drive up into a bridge while maintaining good form.

Drive up into a bridge while maintaining good form.

Full max out your position until you cannot drive up any further.

Fully max out your position until you cannot drive up any further.

Hope your Thursday is going well!

Question of the day: What is your favorite body part to work out and why?

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WIAW #6: Snacks All Around

Good morning and greetings mid-week from Austin! I moved about six weeks ago now, and I have been on the hunt for a new job since I got here. I have been looking at doing a few different things – so my interviews have been a total range of experiences. At first I was thinking I would just find a part-time job of sorts to get me started. However, I think the job world has changed because even the jobs that my old friend, Megan used to call “stupid jobs” are a bit of a process. They also do not happen as quickly as you would think. You know – the jobs from your college days that were hourly wages and not so intense. Well, I am not sure if those exist anymore. So my day yesterday revolved around an interview, and so does today. We shall see how it all comes together! It’s Wednesday….so I thought I would jump back on the WIAW train.

WIAWbutton

Breakfast – My day started with an egg burrito as I like to call them. I scrambled two eggs plus an extra white in coconut oil and ate them in a Food for Life Brown Rice Wrap. I am sort of unsure where I stand on gluten at the moment. There are some ingredients I am not so crazy about in the regular Ezekiel Wraps – mainly soy so I go with the brown rice version. These wraps can be a little tricky to eat since they tend to fall apart quite a bit. I usually put mine in the toaster for a minute or so to warm up. I also added a tiny bit of MCT oil before I put it all together to eat. Cold Brew was served on the side of course.

Egg Burrito to start the day.

Egg Burrito to start the day.

Lunch – We are lucky to have a fitness center on site at our apartment complex. On days when I am busy it is awesome because I do not have to spend the time driving to the gym. I headed up for a quick cardio session and walked back to the apartment. Since I was busy getting ready to leave for my interview I knew lunch would have to be more on the go style. I decided on a smoothie (a scoop of Sunwarrior protein, frozen strawberries, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, collagen powder, greens powder, more mct oil and ice). I also enjoyed the first of a batch of homemade coconut yogurt we made on Sunday. It takes a few days to “incubate” and then it has to sit in the refrigerator. It is a bit of a process but so good! I’ll be sharing a tutorial very soon…I say a tutorial and not a recipe because well, you’ll see.

One of my favorite protein shakes.

One of my favorite protein shakes.

Afternoon Snack – After I got back from my interview I was a little on the hungry side so I opted for celery with sunflower butter which is one of my favorite combinations. Another Cold Brew (decaf this time) was enjoyed. Plus a few dark chocolate squares. Coffee and chocolate is the best combination.

Celery with Sunflower Butter combo.

Celery with Sunflower Butter combo.

Pre-Dinner Snacks – I sometimes put off dinner until I am incredibly hungry. This is never a good habit because I want to eat before dinner is even ready. I opted for some Kerry Gold cheese and crackers. I do not eat a lot of dairy, but whenever I buy cheese it is Kerry Gold or some other form of Grass-Fed cheese. Trader Joe’s sells a few different types. As for the crackers, these are the best I can find at Whole Foods that do not contain a lot of necessary additives. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read labels to really know what you are eating. I really wanted a glass of wine with my snack, but I have another interview today and sometimes I worry that wine will make me less sharp. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I opted for natural soda instead. Anyone heard of Blue Sky? It’s made with Stevia and it’s totally delicious. I do not have them that often, but it is nice when you want a beverage with some taste. Root Beer is my favorite! Blue Sky is a little hard to find in a lot of areas, but Zevia is very similar and it’s more mass produced. You can find it typically in the soda or organic food sections of most stores.

Kerry Gold plus a few crackers.

Kerry Gold plus a few crackers.

Blue Sky = Best Natural Soda.

Blue Sky = Best Natural Soda.

Dinner – Scott was training some clients so I opted to enjoy the last piece of wild-caught salmon on some sautéed spinach. It was ok, but I was already pretty full from the cheese and crackers. I hate it when that happens. There were a few more dark chocolate squares that come onto the scene before I called it a night. Somehow when I am not hungry I can still manage to eat chocolate.

Wild-caught salmon with spinach.

Wild-caught salmon with spinach.

Some post-dinner sweetness.

Some post-dinner sweetness.

If you liked this WIAW post, head over to Peas & Crayons to view lots of others or to add your own!

Question of the Day: Any current favorite beverages you have been enjoying this summer?

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Simple Butternut Squash

One of the things that attracted me to health and fitness blogs was the idea of community. Since there are several that I follow on a regular basis I see the comments that go back and forth, and the relationships that begin to form through these communications. I have been following a lot of blogs where the authors recently attended the IDEA Conference in Anaheim and you can see through their virtual friendships that they already have a connection before they have even met in real life. This is of course a little different than meeting someone in a photography class and striking up a dialogue and getting together for coffee. Sometimes I wonder though if this is the modern way of developing bonds as we become more attached to the digital world. I do most of my workouts solo or I go to the gym with Scott. As a result, I have not really made any new female friendships where we have fitness or healthy living as a shared interest that brought us together. I guess I turn to the online world at times for support to read chats about workout schedules, fun tank tops and new playlist ideas.

Considering that I am so used to working out alone imagine my surprise last night when I was squatting, and a young guy came up to me to ask if he could “work in with me.” This is always completely annoying, and everyone knows in gym etiquette that this is a bit of a no-no. If you are not sure what this entails, it is basically taking turns to use the bar and plates. This makes your workout much longer since you have to swap out weights and change the set up every time. I was caught off guard, and felt bad saying no so I told him we could figure it out. It did slow down my workout a bit, but I decided not to stress. The guy was very young, but very nice and we made small talk about Olympic weightlifting and rock climbing. When we wrapped up we both went our separate ways, but I left thinking that it were a woman my age we may have made plans to meet up for a protein shake or something.

Another thing that was slightly out of the ordinary last night was dinner. Scott and I have been a little tired of some of our “carb” sides such as sweet potatoes, rice and acorn squash. I decided to go crazy in the produce isle last week, and bought a butternut squash. It may resemble a sweet potato, but squash that thought. J It turned out really well, and I am eager to make it again. I wanted to share it with you guys today.

Simple Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Butternut Squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place butternut squash on a bake rack on a pan and drizzle the coconut oil (the rack prevents sogginess)
  3. Drizzle melted or liquid coconut oil (I use my hands to mix it in)
  4. Sprinkle coconut sugar, cinnamon and salt on top
  5. Roast for approximately 30 minutes (it can vary depending if your oven is very hot)
  6. Allow to cool slightly before eating and enjoy
Uncooked squash on a baking rack.

Uncooked squash on a baking rack.

Squash coated with coconut oil, cinnamon, coconut sugar & salt.

Squash coated with coconut oil, cinnamon, coconut sugar & salt.

It maybe look like a sweet potato, but squash that thought!

It maybe look like a sweet potato, but squash that thought!

If you give it a try I hope you like it! Since I am always looking for new and simple recipes…

Question of the Day: What is one of your favorite health side dishes?

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