Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - Battle of the Dry Shampoos

My sophistication muse, Audrey Hepburn

Sophistication Sundays will revolve around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

...

We've all heard it: washing and drying your hair every single day and using hot styling tools wreaks HAVOC on your tresses. Unfortunately if you have wavy hair like me (with a completely unruly cowlick right in the front) it's hard not to break this hair commandment! So in an effort to obey half of that commandment (come on - I have to use a straightener. You have NOT seen this girl's cowlick!) I decided to foray into the world of dry shampoo. I know there are plenty of expensive brands that promise wonderful results but I just didn't want to take the chance with my pocket book. So without further adieu, I present you with the Battle of the Drugstore Dry Shampoos!



In this corner, trial #1: Tresemme Fresh Start Dry Shampoo


I thought this was a great place to start because it was pretty dang cheap! I believe it came in under $5. I noticed after spraying that it gave quite a gray overcast to the roots. Typical for dry shampoo (so I've heard) so I just brushed it out as the bottle instructed. Initially I thought well that works "ok" but within minutes I noticed it didn't really soak up the oil like it's supposed to. In fact I went online and did some more reading about it and I read that people ended up using this as a way to add texture to the hair (i.e. adding something for the clean hair to hold onto). So basically the exact opposite result from what I want from dry shampoo. As my sister-in-law would say, "Bum-Diddles!"

In this corner, trial #2: John Frieda Luxurious Volume "Anytime Volume Refresher"


After doing some research I found another drugstore brand of dry shampoo I figured was worth trying. I haven't used much John Frieda but I thought the line looked reputable and yes, let's be honest: I had a coupon. How could I resist? So I picked up a bottle at Wal-Mart (for around $6) and couldn't wait to try a new, improved dry shampoo. The next morning when my alarm clock went off I hit the snooze button a few extra times since I had new dry shampoo. ;)
I followed the directions, shook it up and made the initial sprays. Not too bad! I felt like my limp strands of hair had some new life. I was fairly pleased and left for the work day. Well needless to say after a couple hours it went right back to looking lifeless and "day old." I know sometimes you have to reapply but I just felt like it should have lasted longer. So it was a step up from Tresemme but still I expected more.


And in this uh... er, other corner I guess, trial #3: Batiste Dry Shampoo

And finally I happened upon the European dry shampoo staple. I purchased this at Sally Beauty Supply and figured at this point why not try it. Boy am I glad I did! Batiste easily knocked out the competition. wa-BAM. K.O.
I followed the directions once again and shook up the bottle before and in between sprays to my roots. After rubbing the spray into my roots I immediately noticed a significant improvement in the texture and volume of my hair. Batiste seemed to dry my roots and pump life back into my hair style. I finished with a bit of teasing in the flatter areas and couldn't have been happier with the results! Like a breath of fresh air...

Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Photo Source

To conclude, if you're looking for a great dry shampoo to extend your previous day's style or to liven up your hair mid-day I highly recommend Batiste. If you don't have a Sally's in town you could always check out their website to get it or try Drugstore.com. There is also a Batiste Blush which offers the same product but with an added fragrance.

So do you use dry shampoo? What is your favorite brand? How much are you willing to pay for a dry shampoo?

~Christi

Friday, May 27, 2011

Uncorked #11: Rene Barbier Catalunya Mediterranean White

Welcome to Uncorked! Where I feature a wine that I've tried and let you know my thoughts on it. There is a little disclaimer: I am by far no wine expert --I am just going to tell my thoughts on a wine. Some wine snobs out there might turn their nose up at my opinion and that's fine with me! Wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed! I might throw out some wine terms here and there and if I do, I will make sure that I give you the definition and try to explain them to the best of my abilities. My goal is to share some tasty wine picks with the world and hopefully encourage some of you out there to try a new wine. No bottle shall be discriminated against, price is no matter (with in reason), and this is just going to be all about exploring the world of wine.

This week's wine is:
Rene Barbier Catalunya Mediterranean White

Description: For hundreds of years, wine has been a part of everyday Mediterranean life. This temperate area of warm, sunny days and cool evenings has produced some of the world's finest wines. Among the most celebrated are the wines of Rene Barbier. These wines are made from the same indigenous grapes the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans cultivated here over 2,000 years ago. Mediterranean White is crisp, dry and lightly refreshing. Serve chilled as an aperitif or as a wonderful complement to seafood, summer salads, pasta, poultry or shellfish.
Price: $4.99 per bottle
Region: Spain

This is another World Market find. I was on a quest to try different wines and this one had such a tempting price of $4.99 I thought, better give it a go! And I am so glad I did! This is a coupage* wine, with blends of 40% xarel·lo, 30% macabeo, and 30% parellada. I don't know about you, but I have never heard of these grapes. I really liked this wine and for the price you just can't get a better deal. With the onset of summer, this is a great spring to summer wine. It's bright, refreshing, and has a nice fruity flavor of apple and pineapple. It's not too sweet and it's not too dry. I learned something new with this wine. The company describes the wine as "elegant, greenish tones" which I had no idea what that meant. Turns out green wines are wines made from under ripe grapes; they lack richness of full mature grapes. Who would have known?

Would I buy it again? Yes, for sure. This is a great wine to get you out of the same old, same old white wine shell. It's not the standard pinot grigio or chardonnay but a nice choice that is a balance between the two.

Fun Wine Fact: Did you know that white wine is preferred by more women than men? Supposedly it’s because white wine is more delicate in flavour and scent, and red wine’s rich, full qualities may lead the gentlemen to hard liquor like whisky, brandy or cognac.

Pairs Well With: Seafood, summer salads, pasta, poultry or shellfish.


Never, never trust anyone who asks for white wine. It means they're phonies.
-Betty Davis

*Coupage - derives from the French word "couper," meaning "to cut." In the world of wine, coupage refers to a blending wine or a cutting wine that is used to change the taste or color of the primary grape.

~Beth

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Putting Down & Returning to Roots

photo source

Here I am, glass of wine in hand, playing on the computer in the kitchen, listening to my husband click on his video game, and my son squealing with delight as he plays with his toys. It's moments like these when all of the hectic and stressful times in life seem like fleeting moments. The last few months have been crazy to say the least. I know I have said I would reveal what is going on in our life and decided this might be the moment to do that.

Back before my little guy was born, in August while we were on our last vacation in North Carolina, my husband was offered a different job in a different state. It really was quite terrible timing. I was 9 1/2 months pregnant and JUST finished the nursery...there was no way I wanted to move. We hadn't even lived in our house for 2 years.

For many people out there, moving can be quite stressful...not to mention the fact that would be moving with a brand new baby. Regardless, I am a seasoned mover; a nomad, some might say. I was born in one state, stayed there till I was seven years old and have never lived in a place longer than four years since then. I am use to moving. Do I like it? Maybe some aspects, you starting over again, meet new people, and have new experiences. But honestly, packing up all your things and moving can be quite stressful and I am ready to stop.

So, after much thought and prayer, we decided this move would be the next step in our lives. My husband finished his job at the end of December and started his new one. We are now officially residents of the great state of South Dakota!
Now why South Dakota? Well, we had a handful of reasons to move here:

1. My husband grew up here and loves the state (he even sports a t-shirt that states "I'm popular in South Dakota")
2. Family- Both sets of Grandparents live here, so our little guy gets to grow up being close to his Grandparents, something my husband and I never had.
3. Sisters- I am pretty sure you can tell, but my sisters are my best friends. We will be living within a few minutes from Christi and within a few hours from Luci (much better than the 6 hour drive it used to be!). So it will awesome to spend more time with them instead of just chatting on the phone and only seeing each other on Holidays.
4. Money- Lets just say it...money is a factor in almost every move. Not only does South Dakota pay better, they also have ZERO state income tax and pretty much everything is lower here....insurance, sales tax, property tax, groceries, gas....I mean the list goes on and on.
5. Activities- People may tease about the small size of the state and say there is nothing out here. But the reality is that it is family-focused, has a low cost of living, and beautiful scenery. As Christi often says, "South Dakota is America's best kept secret." They have so many state parks, lakes, forest reserves, and did I mention the Black Hills!?! I call it a mini-Colorado without all the tourists.


Anyways, those are the reasons we decided to make the move. I am very sad to be leaving our house in Nebraska. We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into redoing the house but things change, life happens and you just have to go with it some times.

So here I am, moving again (really already moved) and starting a new chapter of my life. This time though, I am blessed to have a wonderful husband along my side and a happy little guy who really could care less about where he lives, just as long as his Mom and Dad are with him. And right now, my son is looking at me smiling and this is just more confirmation that it doesn't matter where you live. A house is a house, it's the people around you that really make your house a home.
“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family”
-Anthony Brandt

~Beth

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - China Glaze "Lemon Fizz" Nail Polish


My sophistication muse, Audrey Hepburn
Photo Source

Sophistication Sundays will revolve around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

...

I don't know about you but I loooooove Summer. I am a Summer girl (cue LFO "Summer Girls")! I know it's not "officially" Summer yet but I am so anxious for the Season. It doesn't help matters that our weather has been less than stellar. Rainy and cold in fact.

Yes it can be peaceful but I am ready for this...


With all this dreariness I was ready for some full on SUNSHINE! And lucky for me it came easily in the form of a free China Glaze nail polish via coupon from Sally Beauty Supply.



For $5 I joined their "beauty club" and it's easily paid for itself in the great deals and coupons I've received. So I marched in this week ready to buy a straightener and pick up a free China Glaze. Needless to say it took me about 10 minutes to decide on a shade. There were too many options I wanted to try! When it comes to nail polish I am a kid in a candy store.


I finally decided on a sunshine-infused shade called "Lemon Fizz."



I couldn't wait to try the new color so I put it on right when I got home! Yellow polishes are notorious for their difficult application and the first coat of Lemon Fizz was definitely streaky.


With the second coat it filled in nicely and I was definitely pleased with the results. In the pictures it looks a little like a warmer shade of yellow but it is truly a pale yellow.



My remedy for lack-luster Spring and too many cloudy days? A coat of sun rays to your finger tips.

Would you try bright yellow nail polish? What great nail colors have you stumbled upon recently?

~Christi

Friday, May 20, 2011

Final Bathroom Remodel

The time is finally here! We have finished the last bathroom! We have remodeled all five of our bathrooms (see previous bathrooms 1, 2, 3, & 4.) Well, not all the way remodeled...we removed the wallpaper in all of them, repainted the walls, resurfaced the wood, and in some of them installed ceramic tile. This final bathroom was in the basement and the walls were outdated with late 80s style wallpaper. We removed all the wallpaper and painted it a nice blue color.

Here's the bathroom before:



And here is the bathroom after:



Here is our lovely before and after comparison:

It's really nice to finally be done with all of the five bathrooms in our house. Well, not done completely as we would like. Ideally, we would have loved to install ceramic tile in all of the bathrooms, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to do the bare minimal to make them look great. Usually it was just a matter of removing the wallpaper. What are these unforeseen circumstances???? Well, I will announce them next week....stay tuned!


~Beth

Uncorked #10: 2009 Lindemans Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon

Welcome to Uncorked! Where I feature a wine that I've tried and let you know my thoughts on it. There is a little disclaimer: I am by far no wine expert --I am just going to tell my thoughts on a wine. Some wine snobs out there might turn their nose up at my opinion and that's fine with me! Wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed! I might throw out some wine terms here and there and if I do, I will make sure that I give you the definition and try to explain them to the best of my abilities. My goal is to share some tasty wine picks with the world and hopefully encourage some of you out there to try a new wine. No bottle shall be discriminated against, price is no matter (with in reason), and this is just going to be all about exploring the world of wine.

We spent a few weekends ago in Minneapolis, sort of a mini vacation, and had such a great time! Here's is our view of downtown from our hotel room

We had two great bottles of wine while in the cities. I reviewed the first bottle last week, and this was the other bottle we had while up there.



This week's wine is:
2009 Lindemans Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon

Description: Sorry guys, forgot to copy down the wording on the bottle
Price: $5.99 per bottle
Region: South Eastern Australia

On our drive up to the cities, my husband stopped by a small town liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine. He knows I LOVE my Cabernets, and this one was super cheap, so he thought we should give it a try. We finally got to our hotel room, put the baby to bed, ordered some pizza from Pizza Lucé, and crawled in our king sized bed to watch a movie and enjoy this wine. I don't know about you, but it's always hard for me to enjoy a glass of wine, drinking it out of those plastic cups found in hotel rooms. However, we both really liked this wine. It was nicely balanced with some full fruit flavors of cherries and currants. It was an easy to drink wine, great for a lazy night after driving all day. The only con to this wine was it sure turned our teeth purple!

Would I buy it again? Yes, but I probably won't. There was really nothing spectacular about this wine that would make me go out of my way to buy it again. It was great tasting, easy to drink, and very cheap. I just know that I love to try new wines, so the reality of me picking up this wine again is pretty slim...not to mention I hate having purple teeth!


Fun Wine Fact: Cabernet Sauvignon grows almost everywhere. In warmer regions like Australia, you'll frequently get more ripe fruit flavors upfront. Grapes are picked when higher in fruit and lower in acid, often giving a more approachable wine.


Pairs Well With: Beef, lamb, and goose. It also is a great match for brie, cheddar cheese, and dark chocolate. (Ooops, we had it with pizza!)


What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile.
– William Sokolin



~Beth

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

I love Mexican food. I love everything about it. The sauce, the meat, the spices...the only problem is that it is usually so high in calories I don't eat it very often. Here is a healthier version of chicken enchiladas that are delicious! It's a great substitute for the real thing, without all the real fat!

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
1 (10.75 ounce) can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 (8 ounce) container fat free sour cream
1 cup salsa
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 cups chopped shredded chicken
1 cup 2% shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 Carb Balance Tortilla
1 medium tomato, chopped
3 green onion, sliced

1. Mix soup, sour cream, picante sauce and chili powder.
2. Mix 1 cup picante sauce mixture, chicken and cheese.
3. Lay out the eight tortillas and spoon chicken mixture on each. Try to make each even.
4. Spray a 9x12 inch pan with cooking spray
5. Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish.
6. Pour remaining picante sauce mixture over enchiladas. Cover with foil.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until hot. Top with tomato and onion.

The Skinny:
267 calories for one enchilada



~Beth

Monday, May 16, 2011

Life Lessons From My Camera

For my 30th birthday, my husband bought me a new camera! I have just been drooling over all the really nice photos that other bloggers have taken. I did a bunch of research and decided to go for the DLSR Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i. Even though there are newer models of this camera I decided to purchase the older model. The price was a lot less then the newer models and honestly not much has changed. The newer models seem to have a little higher mega pixels, the display pops out to the side on the T3i (which I probably would end up breaking off), and the grip has changed. None of these things seemed to make it worth the extra cost of the new model. Also, I found that this camera has several tutorials online, which I hope to watch when I get a chance.

On a walk I took today, I visited the local Japanese Gardens, and thought it was the perfect time to try out the new camera.
I thought I would share my photos. I am still learning, but you can tell the quality of the new camera is much better. The garden was such a peaceful and relaxing place and provided me with so much inspiration. Looking back at the photos, I couldn't help but think that each of these photos really represented some of life's most important lessons. Such as....

Mistakes can be beautiful.

There is always a fresh start.

A strong person and a waterfall always channel their own path.
Always stand tall, without standing on someone.

Even in dark times, the sun will find a way to make its way in.

Branch out to new things, you might not end up being the only one to grow.

Sometimes you have to look beyond your present to get to your future.

With enough time, water will wear down a rock.

No amount of thinking about building a bridge gets it done.

One person's weed is another person's flower.

Impossible situations can become possible miracles.

A life without friends isn't quite as beautiful.

Family is more than just blood.

Marry your best friend.

With new life comes new hopes, new dreams, new ambitions, and new motivations.
A mother will always think of her child before thinking of herself.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
And most importantly, take lots of pictures! Someday you’ll be really glad you did.


~Beth

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