Hair Day! What I’m loving right now…

img_0587I have used just about every hair product under the sun!
Being in my mid-forties (ugh) has given plenty of time to experiment.   I have been on a quest to acheive the look I want with-out damaging my hair and with-out spending a fortune or loads of time.  If you know me, I’ll throw my hair in a top knot in a hot second if I feel so inclined.  I want to extend the time between shampoos.  I don’t want to spend 30 minutes drying and styling my hair every other morning.  #worldproblems

What’s my hair type?
My hair is fine (likes to frizz in our lovely mostly humid weather), I bleach and color my hair regularly… Well, my hair stylist bleaches and colors. haha!
I haven’t personally bleached my hair since I was 14.  It was called “frosting” back then and I have vivid memories of my mom and I taking turns wearing the plastic cap with holes and pulling our hair through with a little metal hook that came with the store bought kit.  Hello 1987!!  Does this bring back any memories for you?  I’m so grateful for foiling!item_XL_23379107_33292421

My hair tends to get oily at the crown and I typically cannot go more than two days with-out washing.  Dry shampoo you say? No ma’am.  It weighs down my hair and makes it look like I need a shower even more so.   I really envy the girls who say “by Friday I’m 80% dry shampoo” while fluffing their perfect hair.
Wash your hair at night, girl! Negative, I cannot sleep on wet hair.  I’ll wake up with a really crazy frizzy situation!
Gel is crunchy, mousse is heavy, hair spray… just no.
Washing and blow drying my hair three times a week at least then using a flat iron and/or curling iron makes it dry and damaged at the ends.

Alrighty, enough about my hair…. I think you get the picture and my struggles.

Here are my needs:

#1: I do NOT want to feel anything in my hair.
#2: I want to be able to get more days between washings.
#3: I will not pay a crazy amount for a product that is literally going down the drain.  Been there, done that, over it.

Here’s my latest greatest repurchase:   OGX Biotin & Collagen

OGX Biotin & Collagen
It smells amazing and feels nourishing the second it hits my scalp.  I swear my hair has more body after using this line for a couple of months.

Their thermal protection treatment feels weightless.  I use about a nickel size amount and work it into my damp hair starting in the middle and finishing up on the roots.  Moroccan Argan Oil goes into my ends and I’m ready to blow dry.

OGX Moroccan Argan Oil
Thermal 2

 

I’ll section my hair and use a paddle brush once I’ve gotten most of the moisture out.
I have a Moroccan Oil Flat Iron and and old curling iron (I can’t remember the name of) to finish out my hair depending on what I want to do with it.  Since I’m usually in a hurry, running the flat iron through seems to be just fine. (I section my hair for this too)  Typically on the second day I’ll curl.  But low and behold – since using the thermal protection treatment I can get through a third day!!!!!!  Hallelujah!!!  Praise be!!
I know you get my excitement on this.

So there ya have it!  My go-to hair products.  I may grab another shampoo out of this line to alternate (because I’ve heard that’s a good thing) maybe the Coconut Oil one?

Have you tried any products from this line?  What are your thoughts?

 

Ashley

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Mexican Style Stuffed Peppers

I love a pretty plate!   The combination of colors just look yummy.

This is one of our go-to dishes when we are bored with Taco Night.

And I’ll get right to the recipe…..  Note:  This could easily be altered to a vegan dish with the right substitutions.

3 large bell peppers (red, yellow & green)
1 pkg Spanish Style Rice of your choice
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 can black beans drained
1 pkg Taco seasoning
1 cup of water
Olive Oil
Shredded Cheese – Cheddar or Colby Jack
Fresh Cilantro, Sour cream or Guacamole
Mixed Greens and dressing of your choice

Pre-heat oven to 350
Start the rice, following the directions on the package.  Typically this will take 20-30 min.
Slice bell peppers in half long-wise, clean out seeds trying to keep as much of the stem area in tact.  This will create a little “boat” for the stuffing mixture.
Place the bell pepper halves in an oblong, shallow casserole dish with aprox a cup of water.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 8-12 minutes or until the peppers start to soften.
While peppers and rice are cooking, brown the ground turkey in a large skillet.  Follow cooking directions on Taco seasoning packet.
Once turkey is browned and taco seasoning has been added, mix in the drained black beans.  Let cook until all the liquids have been absorbed.
When the rice is finished add to turkey and bean mixture.
Place softened bell peppers in a 13X9 casserole dish…. this could be the same dish you already used, just drain out the water.  Now fill the peppers with the turkey mixture.  I like to press down gently to make sure I get all of the pepper filled.  Finally I top with some shredded cheese and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.

Serve topped with fresh cilantro, a side salad or guac and chips and you have a delicious and beautiful meal!   This will make 6 small servings.  I love having these ready to go for leftovers!  For our big family I make these along with regular taco meat and all the basics. 🙂

Breckenridge for a Florida family of Seven!

As our kids are getting older, and time together to make memories is becoming few and far between, we decided to take a big family trip to Breckenridge, Colorado in March 2017.
This was a huge deal!  Mostly because we are a family of SEVEN – and traveling gets expensive for us!  First and foremost I will say this:  We would not have been able to take our family on this trip if it hadn’t been for the “miles and points” we accumulated over a long period of time!  Just about 50% of our expenses were covered because of those miles and points.  Score!

This was Ethan’s first plane ride and his excitement shows!!  We flew into Denver and stayed the night before we headed to Breck.  We also stayed the night before our flight back to Pensacola at the end of our trip.  I recommend this 100%!  It gives you the opportunity to enjoy a full day instead of cutting things short.

After a two hour shuttle ride across the Continental Divide and some amazing scenery we arrived in Breckenridge!

The snow was beautiful and captivating, the kids had such a good time playing in it I could hardly get their attention for this picture.  Poor Ethan is soaked from being bombarded with snowballs from the older brothers.

We checked into the Grand Timber Lodge, dropped our bags and headed to the town to find some lunch.  We chose Grand Timber because of its location to the Town and to the nearest lift area, Beaver Run at Peak 9.  Grand Timber is listed as a “ski-in/ski-out” lodge.  In certain areas of the resort I could see an experienced skier taking advantage of this.  For snowboarders, definitely…. new skiers – leave your skis at the rental shop and take the path to the sidewalk.  Otherwise you’re carrying your skis for a 5-10 minute walk…. in ski boots.  You can always wait for the free shuttle.   For a large family who’s condo is already full of everyone’s ski jackets, etc…. leave skis at the rental shop for sure!

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I prefered walking to see the sights… I didn’t realize how much downhill walking we would encounter!  Definitely taking the free shuttle back to the Lodge.

The Town of Breckenridge is adorable!  It’s buzzing with life.  Restaurants and shops line every block of this circa 1800’s Victorian village.  We settled in at a burger place and plotted our next move, Ski Rental and grocery shopping!!

img_6493 We planned to cook breakfast every morning and 3 dinners, lunch would be found on the mountain – expensive, yes but we balanced it by not going out for every meal.  We bought snacks and drinks that could easily travel on the mountain.

Kids went back to lodge and we hit the grocery and wine store.  I love that you can call the shuttle to pick you up from the store.   Carrying all that crap to the room was a huge challenge.  A luggage cart would have been a good idea but none could be found.

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While we fixed dinner, the kids went exploring.

A snow man was the priority for these Florida kiddos.   Just look at the eyelashes!  So cute!

A shoe was lost during this adventure…… seriously!  I wonder how many shoes they find on the property when the snow melts – haha

 

 

Look at that view!!

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The next morning we suited up and ventured out around 9AM. With just a short walk to the Beaver Run Resort area, picked up our equipment and were on the lift in no time.

We made a plan up Peak 9, after dropping 3 of the boys at snowboarding school,  had lunch mountain side and made our way back around 3PM to meet up with the kids finishing up their lessons.

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Ethan was stoked!!   We was ready to tackle the mountain!   So ready in fact that he jumped on the BIG lift BY HIMSELF!  The plan was that he was supposed to get on the shorter lift and I would wait for him at the base.  This is NOT what happened.   I was kinda freaking out.  Thankfully Scott was able to hop on the lift within seconds of the last run.  (The lifts close at 4PM)

Waiting for them seemed like an eternity.  Finally they arrived together.  Whew!!  We had a serious talk about NOT going by yourself and I got the typical “I’m fine, mom!” with the accompanying eye-rolling tweens do so well.  ugh.

The evening was relaxing and we talked about day #2 Plan and navigating to Peak 8!  Maybe you remember this clip….. a snowboarder filmed a moose running behind her!! It went viral a week before our trip.  So amazing!  Would we be on the same run with a moose?!?!?!

The next morning we lost two of he kids.   Not really “lost them” but one decided snowboarding wasn’t for him and Ethan fell and hurt his wrist… on the first run.  Poor guy.  We walked down to the base and after assessing his wrist he decided to walk back to the room and hang out with his older brother for the day…. another great reason we chose a the nearby lodge.

Onward and upward for the remaining 5 ……

 

If you’ve been in the snow, you know that sound….. It brings back great memories of gliding down the mountain.   Ahhhh.

The next two days went pretty much the same.  Planning our trek up, lunch stop, back up, final stop.  Peak 7 was probably our favorite.  You have to do some serious planning to get there.  but absolutely worth it!

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On our last day we let the kids sleep in while we went in search of the best Bloody Mary in Breckenridge!  We found it, along with the famous Crepe a la Cart food truck…. yum!

Best Bloody Mary award goes to:

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Angels Hollow!  A Bloody with so many extras they give you a plate.  I heard about this work of art libation online.  The description read “…topped with an army man because they couldn’t add a kitchen sink”,  I concur!  Time to head back up to the Lodge to collect the kids and pack up.  We had time for lunch and a little shopping before our shuttle to Denver arrived.

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Our 2017 Breckenridge memories will last forever!!

What BIG trips have you been on lately?  Will you go back or try somewhere new?

It’s Soup Day!

Butternut Squash Soup

Since it’s been super cold we have been pulling out all our favorite soup recipes. One of the easiest and my most favorite is the Butternut Squash Soup.

Pan of yum!

With any further blah, blah, blah here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

One package cubed butternut squash (found in the produce section)
2 cups baby carrots
3 stalks celery chopped
One small onion chopped
4 garlic cloves smashed and roughly chopped
2 TB Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh Rosemary
2 TB Thyme
2 TB Rubbed Sage
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (reduce if you’d prefer a little less spicy)
4 cups Vegetable Stock or chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Place all chopped vegetables on baking sheet and drizzle with Olive oil. Sprinkle spices over veggies including salt & pepper and gently stir to coat. Top with 3 sprigs of rosemary. Roast for 1 hour.
Remove veggies and place in a large pot, add half the broth and puree until smooth with an immersion blender. (Be careful not to scratch your pot or get splattered!)  You can also use a food processor following the same method. Add remaining broth and heat over medium high. Serve immediately or let cool and freeze. I like to top mine with a little sprig of Rosemary.

This recipe takes about 1.5 hours from start to finish and makes about 6 servings.

I have altered the original recipe a bit since I made it the first time over a year ago. It’s super easy and mostly everything can be prepared ahead of time.

Also……………….

Roasted Cauli & Dipping Sauce

If you caught my Instagram Live’s you got to see this delicious beauty during the prep & cook process.

Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce ….. just like the one at Domenica we drooled over last month!!

Here’s the recipe we followed.  It’s a little time consuming but totally worth it!

Let me know if you like it!  Enjoy!!!

Live stress free, financially

As we skate into the new year we contemplate how to make our life better, less stressful, more enjoyable.   Eventually, in my opinion, this all rolls into one word – MONEY.  No matter what changes you make in your life you WILL spend some amount of money.  Unless of course you decide to drop everything, pack your bags, walk away from it all and find a community that works only from trade – if you desire that lifestyle and succeed, good for you!  The rest of us will be over here trying to become less stressed over finances.

I hear over and over that money is the main cause of stress in life.  I do not have all the answers on how to manage money.  I do not know a damn thing about investing or the “market”.  I only know this….. you cannot move forward until you know where you are.

Here are some money managing tips that have worked very well for me over the years…   In random order.

Know your financial responsibilities:  Write EVERYTHING you spend on a sheet of paper.  Go through your bank statement, write down every recurring bill.  Utilities, rent, car pymt, loan payments, credit card payments, insurance, cell phone, daycare, tuition, gym membership, jelly of the month membership, etc.  Write down the minimum payment amount and the due date (this will help you later).  For utilities, jot down the average amount keeping in mind this amount will fluctuate over the seasons.  Total up your grocery spending,  gas station visits, bus fare, Uber fare, etc.  Finally total up your eating out, personal shopping, personal care and anything else you spend on a normal basis.  Compare all these totals to what you bring home in a month’s time.  If you receive tips or commission possibly you can look back to see how your income can fluctuate and make an estimated guess from past history.

Budget: Now that you are aware of your expenses, your financial obligations and what you might be able to live without… create a budget.
Mint.com and DaveRamsey.com have some awesome articles and tips on how to create and stick to a budget.  CHECK THEM OUT!  It’s an eye opener.

Credit cards and Debt:  Do you know what the APR is on your credit card balances and or loans? Some cards can charge over 20%.  I’ll direct you back to Mint.com and DaveRamsey.com to learn more about these charges.  What you read may help you decide that no matter what your balance is, skimming by making the minimum payment each month is a big NO-NO!  With that said, credit cards are not the devil – they can be if their powers are abused, though.   If you are responsible and can pay off your balance each month, they may be rewarding in the long run.

Pay yourself:  SAVE, SAVE, SAVE  Whether its $100 a month or $5 a week, just save something!  Keep track of your savings balance.  As you watch it grow, it might be harder to spend it.  Set a goal like this: “I’d like to save $200 in 6 months….. see if you can do it and adjust from there.

Give yourself a break:  Taking control of your finances is serious “adulting”.  It takes a TON of self control and discipline to keep it in check.  Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake – like forgetting to pay the power bill – yikes!  Just be prepared to get back on track as soon as you can.

*The opinions and  recommendation of Mint.com and Dave Ramsey mentioned in this article are 100% uniquely mine.  I have not been compensated in any way and links provided are not affiliate.

What I packed for our December trip to NOLA with possible snow!

 

Planning for a weekend in New Orleans with snow in the forecast means one thing.

It’s going to be COLD!!

Here’s a few of the things I packed that I kept reaching for during our weekend getaway.

I have a heavy-ier weight jacket that isn’t shown because I’ve had it for so long, it’s not available anymore and frankly it’s falling apart.

We also packed an umbrella and a scarf or two.  Hope this helps you plan a weekend trip 🙂

Similar Vest

Crossbody

 

Pj’s

Invisibobble

Similar Wrap Sweater

Similar Long Sleeve Shirt

 

Cat Eye Sunglasses

1. State Black Suede Booties

Zella Live in

Zella Leggings

 

 

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All Weather Boots

December in New Orleans – Part 3 – Brennan’s, Jackson’s Sq, and Napoleon

The next morning was warmer but still chilly, I think I pretty much wore the same outfit each day, haha.  Thank goodness for the boots I found at Target!!   More on what I packed for our trip here.

We packed up and had the front desk hold our bags…… we had important business to take care of…..  BRUNCH!!!   If there was a secondary experience in New Orleans that we look forward to it’s a fantastic New Orleans style Jazz Brunch.   Brennan’s was highly recommended by the concierge (who made a reservation for us on the spot) and BAM, we were on our way.

Our table was waiting on us when we arrived but we decided to sit at the bar for just a few minutes and order a Bloody Mary.   We had a few appetizers and a delicious breakfast.  The table next to us ordered the famous Bananas Foster.  There’s not many things you can compare to flaming brandy within 3 feet of your face!  Think Hibachi table flame – okay? Okay.

Brunch was just sooooo dang good.  I love the smaller portions and the fact they have a brunch appetizer menu.  Once again the service was impeccable.  In fact just about every where we ate or drank, haha, the service was 100%.

The couple next to us lived in the City, I was instantly jealous.   What a great place to live!  To have the option to experience all that NOLA has to offer at any time you feel like it was really exciting to me.  I was thinking to myself, if only we had one more full day.

From Brennan’s’ we walked towards Jackson Square.  The square is lively enough for entertainment on any day but I still had The List and we still had two hours!

Time to get in a museum!
The Cabildo is a Louisiana State Museum that originates back to the late 1700’s.  So much history has taken place in this building including the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremony.  Among the hundreds of artifacts that call this museum home, the relic that I wanted to see……. Napoleon’s Death Mask!!  Yep, it’s there.   Oddly enough Scott and I kept losing each other!  This building is 3 stories with each floor mostly open concept but we both got so engrossed in the information and artifacts displayed we got seperated.  Make the grand staircase your home base if you get lost -mkay?

Keeping with the Napoleon trend, we ventured to the Napoleon House in the midst of the French Quarter.  Their signature drink is guess what? A Pimm’s Cup – haha   Yep, I needed to compare it to the others I had consumed.   It was good – a little different, but good.   We ordered a Shrimp salad Avocado knowing this was our last stop.

The List was 35% complete but I felt like we were able to experience enough of NOLA and I was satisfied.  As always, its a learning curve and the main reason I like to repeatedly visit places we have been to before.   Until next time New Orleans!!!!