Skincare Battle – Part 1

*This post is not sponsored by any of the products or brands mentioned therein*

How much do you love the skin you are in? How are you taking care of it the largest organ your body has? Skincare has been something of an obsession for me lately. The hands of time may be marching forward, but I’m doing everything in my power to prevent them from marching across my face.

I have been extremely fortunate not only in my teen years, but in my adult life as well to not be plagued with excessive acne or troubled skin. My biggest issue is combination skin and my past neglect of it. These opinions are my own, I do not encourage you to do things that are against your current doctors’ instructions, please continue to follow the care your doctor may have directed you to do.

First and foremost if you do nothing for your skin, please at least cleanse your skin daily. This not only allows your skin to breathe, but allow you to remove any built up skin cells, dirt and debris. But it’s not only important to consider how you cleanse but with what and in what order. Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor nor registered esthetician, so again, these are my opinions and please consult a professional if changing products or trying new skincare regimes.

Which skincare regime should you follow? There are lots and lots of options out there. Depending on what your needs are you could use as little as two products or as many as thirteen products. Recommendation Number 1: Have your skin care needs reviewed with a professional so you can get treatment recommendations and know what your skin currently needs. If this is not possible, do your research. And start slowly. Don’t introduce too many products at one time, why you may ask? Well if you introduce multiple products at one time, and you are allergic or have a bad reaction to one of them, how will you know which one it is?

Cleansing your face: I swear by a two step cleaning process, oil cleanser first followed by a second cleanser. If you haven’t tried the two step process, you will be amazed at how much cleaner your skin is afterwards.

Let me introduce you to my little friend. Dermalogica PreCleanse. This product is amazing! If you wear makeup, sweat, get dirty, this is the starting point for you. One pump of the oil based product is enough to start cleaning your face with. It attracts dirt and make up, oil like a magnet and then easily washes it away.

Dermalogica Precleanse – 5.1 oz $45 USD at dermalogica.com

You are probably wondering why you would use an oil cleanser if you are trying to eliminate oil. Simply put, like attracts like. If you break an egg and part of the shell remains with the egg, what do you do? You use the remaining shell in your hand to get that stray piece. Same concept, the oil cleanser will attract other oils on your skin to gently clean them away.

But wait, there’s more. You may have noticed that the first product was a PreCleanse, so step two is the cleansing. I enjoy using Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel. This is a mild cleanser that is gentle but works wonderfully. It cleanses, without overly drying, has a fresh feeling, and again, a small amount or product goes a long way.

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, 8.4 oz $39 USD on dermalogica.com

If you are looking for a new skin care product, please consider these as options, Dermalogica provides sample/travel sizes of their products for you to check out, and see if they work for you. If you try these and love them, please let me know, I always like to hear success stories. If you already use them and want to provide a comment about your experience please do so!

This is part one of a multi part topic. Please stay tuned for Part Two coming soon!

Be strong, be beautiful, be you!

On The Dinner Table: The BEST Chicken Sandwich EVER!

Who doesn’t love a juicy, crispy, flavorful chicken sandwich? Why are these masterful creations only found with a price tag of $10.99 USD or more?

I tackled this recipe the other day and I will never look at a processed chicken patty again. Not only was this the easiest to make, it had the absolute greatest flavors ever. Below is the recipe I used, however you can adjust to your tastes.

Double breaded chicken sandwich with herbed buttermilk mayo sauce

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or breasts. If using chicken breasts, cut in have the short way and pound out to about 1/4″ thick.

Vegetable Oil for Frying

Lettuce

Pickles

Rolls

For Marinade:

1 Quart of Buttermilk (be sure to shake the container before using it)

1/2 tsp of kosher salt

1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

1/2 tsp of paprika

1/4 tsp of chili powder

1/4 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 tsp of onion powder

For Sauce:

1 cup of Mayonaise

2-3 Tbsp Buttermilk

1/2 tsp Dill

1/4 cup green onion

2 tsp of parsley

1/2 tsp basil

1 tsp of dried onion

Salt and pepper to taste

For Breading:

2 cup All Purpose flour

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the Chicken in the seasoned buttermilk for 4-6 hours.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a baking rack on a baking sheet to keep chicken warm after frying it.

Pour vegetable oil into a heavy bottom pot and heat up on medium high to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the breading mixture and take the chicken out of the marinade and coat in flour. After it is coated put it back into the marinade and then into the flour again. Double coat the chicken, this is an important step.

Fry the chicken, in batches, for 3-5 minutes per side. Turning once during cooking. After chicken has been fried on both sides, put on baking rack into the oven to keep warm while the rest of the chicken is cooking.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the ingredients together for the sauce. Mix well and set aside.

To assemble the sandwiches, put a tablespoon onto the top and bottom of a roll, brioche or similar. On the bottom place a piece of butter lettuce, or what you prefer, followed by 3-4 slices of good dill pickles. Place chicken on top followed by the top of the roll.

This sandwich is ready to be eaten and will now ruin you for the other chicken sandwiches out there. Please let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Happy eating!

Cozy dinner table; see my other cozy home photos

Carving out that “Me” Time

*This post is not sponsored by any of the products or brands mentioned therein*

Being a mother keeps me pretty busy. I work Monday – Friday, I have kids to get dressed, fed, clean and on the bus to school each day as well. At night there is dinner, errands, dance classes, cleaning, laundry, and other events that take me in a hundred different directions each week. When do I get time for myself?

The usual answer is not often. However we all need to create that time to unwind, relax, recharge and just overall let the stress go and be our wonderful selves. I always considered myself to be Wonder Woman and being able to do it all, while neglecting myself and my own needs. Well when I hit the burned out wall, I learned differently.

We all have a lot of responsibilities, but one of those should be taking care of ourselves, if we don’t do that it becomes that much more complicated when we do get sick and can’t do what we normally do. What are the things that you once enjoyed that you don’t get to do as much? What activities would you like to try now? What will give you joy by enabling you to find that motivation to keeping being strong and amazing?

For me, I have a monthly appointment to get my nails done. It’s something small, but that hour away from the house and from the kids, is precious to me. Every Saturday I sit down, with a large cup of triple chocolate coffee with chocolate creamer (I like chocolate) and take out my Happy Planner and plan the next week. Determining what I need to get done in a week’s time, fills me with goals, and something for me to accomplish, and that is a powerful motivator.

Example of Happy Planner

My challenge to you is to find that one thing that will restore your batteries, and make you feel like you. Go hiking, read a book, watch sappy movies until you cry, as long as it’s something that you love and enjoy, there isn’t a reason you should neglect yourself by not doing it. You have the right to be happy, healthy, and the absolute best you possible.

Be strong, be beautiful, be you.

The Scoop on Shapewear

*This post is not sponsored by any of the products or companies mentioned therein.*

A beautiful silhouette is something a lot of women (and men) strive for, however not all of us can achieve that. So what do we do? We turn to our good friend shapewear. Now let me tell you, I do not have an hour glass shape. Would I like one? Maybe, but not as extreme as Ethel Granger, who had a 13 inch waist.

This undated image of Ethel Granger shows an impossibly small waist that she had strived for her entire married life as it was an image her husband found most attractive.

Originally women achieved this hourglass look with corsets. Elizabeth Swan in Pirates of the Caribbean said it best when told that corsets were the latest fashion in London, “Well, women in London must have learned not to breathe.”

Corsets are still in high demand and some are referred to as waist trainers, whatever they may be called, you want to find a corset that fits properly and allows you to still move as normally as possible. You can always go smaller, but you have to do it in stages. Like drinking, it’s in moderation.

We have all been exposed to the other forms of shapewear out there, from control top panty hose to Spanx. Do they all work as claimed, that’s in the eye of the wearer. I have tried a few brands and the one I like best is from Shapermint.com. They have a line of products for most body types and sizes. Ranging in colors of white, black and beige. Their products also range from bras and panties to tanks, shorts and leggings.

I find that it smooths my silhouette but doesn’t restrict my movements. The products are washable and breathable. Are they going to make me look statuesque, no, but they are providing me a confidence to wear clothing that flatters me better and not hide in my clothes.

Clothing is something that should flatter us in fit, style, color and design, not something we should use to disguise our perceived flaws. We are each unique and this extra little layer can do wonders for how we feel.

Wouldn’t you like to wear that devastating LBD and killer heels? Would the cigarette pants and fitted top? Shaperwear may just be that little push to overcoming self doubt.

Be strong, be beautiful, be you

On The Dinner Table – Vegetable Beef Soup

My favorite things to make include home style dishes and especially soups. Tonight I made a hearty beef vegetable soup and added barley to the pot.

The recipe is basic and includes all the vegetables we enjoy but you can absolutely make this with the veggies you like.

Start with 2 pounds of stew meat, salt and pepper to taste. I also add garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and parsley.

Brown it in a Dutch oven with a little olive oil in batches. When browned take out the meat and set aside.

In the same pot and a little more olive oil, and put in 1 onion diced, 3 celery stalks chopped, 4-5 carrots chopped.

Let these cook a few minutes and add 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced. 2 potatoes chopped and 16 ounces of sliced mushrooms.

Put meat back in pot with any juice and add 8 cups of beef stock. Add 3-4 bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for two hours or until meat is almost tender.

Stir in 1 – 1 1/2 cups each of frozen peas, corn, and green beans. Stir. Bring back to a rolling boil and add 1 cup of instant barley. Cook for 30 minutes.

Adjust salt and pepper as needed and take out bay leaves.

This makes a large pot enough for 8-10 people or it’s great as left overs.

Beef Vegetable Soup

Let’s Talk Hair Loss

*This post is not sponsored by any products or companies mentioned therein.*

Remember when you were a child and your hair was thick, full of body, rich in color, and something you didn’t appreciate until your reached middle school or later? Remember how when you were in your twenties, perhaps having children and your hair grew faster than your belly? And then remember the day after giving birth and your hair was almost washed down the shower drain because for some unknown reason you lost half of it over night?

I remember having long hair, and now it’s much shorter. Thin and fine and only half of what I had before. At least it feels that way. On my quest to improve and beautify all areas of my life, I had to take a long look at my tresses, and sigh. This wasn’t something that makeup would correct.

Yes I know there are many products out there to help disguise hair loss, and make it look like you have fuller hair than you have. And I have tried some of those products, even contemplating putting in hair extensions where it was needed.

However, I think I found something else to help. Tree to Tub (treetotub.com) has a product called Soapberry for Hair. It’s a shampoo for fuller stronger hair. Cost on their website is $22.49 USD for an 8.5 fluid ounce bottle. This product is also available at the same price through Grove Collaborative (grove.co).

I’m not saying this is going to work for everyone, before you all try it and say it didn’t help you, I’m saying it worked for me. I used the shampoo for a few days and noticed fairly quickly that the top of my head where it was thinnest wasn’t as thin any longer. When I would pull my hair back in a regular ponytail, it looked thicker and less sparse.

Did this give me much needed confidence —YOU BETCHA! I didn’t feel as self-conscious nor have I needed to pull out the tricks to disguise my thinner hair. If you were offered confidence for $22.49 USD would you take a chance and empower yourself?

Treetotub.com Soapberry for hair shampoo.

Empowering From The Corner

The older I get the faster times goes until I’m afraid I’ve used all my time planning to do something, but never getting around to do it. Well I’ve changed the status quo and have started to do something.

In this crazy day and age, we need to build each other up more instead of tearing each other down. I’m here, one person, trying to build up as many people as I can. That includes you. I do my best from the corner, everyone needs that one person in their life to direct them and coach them, who has their back, Maggie had Frankie, Lucy had Ethel, Thelma had Louise. Let me be in your corner, I’ll pick you up when you fall, I’ll be your wing woman, crack an inappropriate joke when you need a smile, and I have no problem doing the dirty work when you are unable to do it.

We need to support each other and not direct negativity to others who may not do things the same way as we do. We women need to step up to the plate, in our stilettos, sneakers, sandals, or socks and say “It’s not okay to tell that her she can’t take time for herself”. Our personal growth comes from within, if we don’t follow our own path, are we really growing or simply following along?

The challenges and excitement of doing this blog empowers me to go forward and instill that confidence in my daughters, my friends, and the women I see and talk to every single day. On our own we are but one person, but joining together, we are an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

I hope you all find that one way to build someone up today, whether yourself or someone else. By choosing to not accept less than you want and deserve, you make it easier for the next woman to do that for herself as well.

Be strong, be beautiful, be you.

Image result for orchid meaning

The Courage of that First Step

Courage is something we all have, and something we could all use more of. Courage is our ability to do something that frightens us. Well I don’t know about you, but starting a blog and putting myself out there to be analyzed, dissected and hopefully not ridiculed can be a terrifying thought to some of us. But 2021 is all about moving from the past. We may still be facing a pandemic but we are still humans who strive to become more that what we are.

So begins the journey of The Amateur Connoisseur. I am eager to start this journey and take you with me, to empower myself, embrace my beauty, and enjoy learning more about the word around me.

Some things you will see during this blog; photos, I’m not a professional, but trying to show the world around me, and the cuisine, fashion and beauty in my life. Fashion, trying to find that perfect mix of casual, stylish and comfort. Cuisine, as a person who enjoying cooking and trying new things I like to share my success (and failures) with family, friends and now all of you!

These topics by no means encompass all that will be shared, topics can be random and change depending on mood, the world, desire.

What you will not see; negativity. This is a place for empowerment, negativity and disrespect will not be tolerated. Politics; political agenda and opinions are better left on other sites this is not something that will be shared here nor allowed to be shared.

So welcome on this new journey, courage in that first step is all it takes and soon you will find you are running with little fear, knowing you can accomplish what you set your mind to.