Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cooking with M: Roasted Peppers and Quinoa

I've been making healthier dinners, along with trying new things, lately as part of my Three New Dinners Challenge. One of the new dinners we tried and loved this past month was roasted red peppers and quinoa. As a meatless meal, the focus is more on the veggies and other forms of protein (the quinoa). That also means it's good for your budget (here are some tips help you stretch your grocery budget). It is so simple to make, healthy, yet oh-so yummy.

Roasted Peppers and Quinoa
Makes enough for two adults and one child, with one or two lunches leftover

Ingredients
5 large peppers, green, yellow and/or red
Morton's Nature's Seasoning
Olive oil
1 cup dry quinoa

Directions
Core, deseed, and cut peppers into strips
Mix peppers and a small amount of olive oil, just enough to lightly coat them
Place peppers on cookie sheet in a single layer
Sprinkle on seasoning to taste
Set oven to roast at 350 (if you don't have a roast setting, set it to bake)
Put peppers in pre-heated oven for 30-45 minutes, until crisp
Prepare quinoa according to directions on package
Serve peppers and quinoa together


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Clearing Up Post-Partum Skin with Retinol Cream

In addition to the vitamin C serum I've mentioned before, I've heard great things about retinol cream for getting rid of post partum skin discoloration and wrinkles.

Ratings out of 10
Effectiveness 10
Ease of Application 10
Gentleness 8
Texture 10
Smell 10

I got to try Key West 2.5 percent retinol cream in exchange for my unbiased review. Key West Health & Beauty was founded by two multi-location day spa owners with over 15 years of experience performing thousands of skin care treatments. The cream is paraben free, 97 percent natural, and 71 percent organic, without the heavy amount of synthetic ingredients and fillers many other retinol creams contain. Another plus is that the cream has two-and-a-half times the amount of retinol most creams have--the strongest percentage available over the counter.

The smell is very light and clean, I can barely smell it, actually. It's a nice, lightweight, smooth cream. It goes into my skin easily, dries fast, and doesn't feel heavy with lotion on top of it (as the bottle directs you to do). After just two days of using just a little bit of cream, I started seeing positive results. I had a little bit of redness so went down to using the cream every other day until my skin gets used to it. No major reactions, though, even on my sensitive skin. I'm optimistic that after a month of use, I'll have even better results and no more discolored spots or tiny wrinkles.

If you like retinol creams, or want to try one, give Key West's cream a try.




Affiliate links are included in this post. You can find the disclosure and policy here. I received this product at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Your experiences may differ. 

Product Review: La Vida Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil has so many uses. It's especially helpful for those of us with eczema to help heal it. I got to try the La Vida Essentials fractionated coconut oil at no cost in exchange for this unbiased review.


Ratings out of 10
Absorption 9
Smell 9
Viscosity 9
Gentleness 9
Mositurizing 8
Skin Protection 9
Lack of Greasiness 9
Price 9
Overall 9

From La Vida
The oil is 100 percent pure therapeutic grade and is fragrance free, non-greasy, and non-staining. Unlike regular coconut oil, this will always stay liquid. It's a great oil for spa massage, sensual massage, hot stone massage, and aromatherapy. It is a natural antioxidant and disinfectant and does not clog pores. Fractionated coconut oil is extremely stable and will not go rancid. It requires no special storage or handling.

My Opinion
The La Vida fractionated coconut oil does indeed have no smell at all, which makes it great for treating dry skin. It's very gentle on skin as well, I'm allergic to many things but was fine using this oil. It's not very greasy and absorbs well into the skin leaving a light barrier on top to help protect your skin when you wash your hands (over and over if you're like me and changing diapers, washing bottles, and cleaning dishes). 

The oil mixes easily with essential oils so you can create your own concoctions for skin, hair, and massaging. I mix it with lavender to make a nice, springy, refreshing skin oil. 

A little bit of the oil goes a long way so be careful not to use too much! Just a touch works great for keeping your hair soft and smooth. It costs less than many other fractionated coconut oils so is worth the price.

I recommend giving the oil a try, especially if you have dry skin or love using oils in your hair like I do.


Affiliate links are included in this post. You can find the disclosure and policy here. I received this product at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Your experiences may differ. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Giveaway: Chew-Choos Sweet Pea Silicone Teething Necklace

M2 and B always seem to be chewing on everything. B chews because he's teething. M2 chews just because she likes to. I usually avoid wearing necklaces because both end up grabbing it and trying to chew it. I then end up getting choked or worrying the necklace will break. I don't want my jewelry broken or for them to choke on it, so I just don't wear necklaces. That's a major bummer as I love necklaces and some outfits need their finishing touch.

Then I heard about silicone teething necklaces. They promised to be the answer to all my non-necklace-wearing, kid-teething-and-chewing mama woes. I got to try the Chew-Choos sweet pea silicone one by Baby Pinch in exchange for this review. Baby Pinch is a stay-at-home mom business, which is an added plus in my book. I love supporting fellow moms in their endeavors.
to my chewing-and-teething-kids, no-necklace-wearing mommy woes. 

I was worried the necklace would look like cheap plastic, not breakaway as promised, be too heavy to be comfortable, or that the kids would hate it. I shouldn't have -- none of those are a problem at all. It's great!

The necklace looks really stylish and the color is beautiful. It's like a regular bead necklace, only chewable and with a break-away clasp in case one of the kids yanks too hard. (Mama doesn't want to choke!) It doesn't come off too easily either. Perfect! The beads have a diamond-like cut to them, making them look nifty and not at all like pieces of silicone. That also gives it an extra texture, making it even better for teething and chewing kids.

Each purple, black, turquoise, or blue necklace is 28 inches long on a silk cord. If you want it shorter, you can trim it easily to shorten it. To wash it, stick it in the dishwasher or just hand wash (both are safe, according to Baby Pinch).

Baby Pinch says the necklaces are organic food-grade silicone and free from BPA, PVC, phthalates, cadmium, lead, latex, or any harmful toxins. The FDA-approved silicone is also hygienic, hypoallergenic, and resistant to bacteria.

I love this necklace so much that I'm doing a giveaway with Baby Pinch so you can win your very own! You'll get a special coupon code to get your choice of sweet pea necklace for free.* You can also find them on Amazon for $14.99 each, which is a good price, I think. Entry period closes at 12 a.m. May 5.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

*Baby Pinch is responsible for providing the coupon code to the winner. I will notify them who the winner is, they take it from there. I have no control over fulfilment of the prize to the winner. If you do not have Amazon Prime, you may need to pay shipping charges. ARV of the necklace is $14.99.

Affiliate links are included in this post. You can find the disclosure and policy here. I received this product at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Your experiences may differ. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Product Review: Life Essentials Skin Care Vitamin C Serum

During my last pregnancy with baby B, my skin ended up with dark colored spots and being uneven. Post partum, it's still there. I heard that vitamin C serum is supposed to help increase collagen production to give you a more even and smooth skin tone, along with fading dark spots and getting rid of fine lines. It's even supposed to be gentle on sensitive skin like mine. I figured why not give it a try?

Ratings out of 10
Smell 10
Texture 10
Ease of Application 10
Gentleness 10
Effectiveness 9
Overall 10

I got to try Life Essentials Skin Care 20 percent vitamin C serum in exchange for my unbiased review. It's made from all natural, organic, and vegan ingredients. The serum is made in the United States, in an FDA registered lab and is never tested on animals (I love that)! Life Essentials is a family company and offers you your money back if you're not totally satisfied with the serum.

There isn't much of a scent to the serum, which works well for me. The directions say to put on only three or four drops after washing your skin, then apply lotion over top. I probably used six drops, which still isn't very much, so this bottle is going to last me awhile. The texture is very light, no tackiness or stickiness. Just how I like my skin care products.

It rubs in easily and nicely, my skin seems to soak it right up. No oily residue or anything is left behind. My skin feels much less dry and tight. Even after using it just a few times, I seem to have less odd spots and be more even with less tiny wrinkles. Perfect! I didn't have any skin irritation at all, it is as gentle as it claims. It just plain feels good on my skin.

I totally recommend Life Essentials Skin Care vitamin C serum if you're looking to have more healthy skin, no matter your skin type.

Affiliate links are included in this post. You can find the disclosure and policy here. I received this product at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Your experiences may differ. 

What's for Dinner April 19-25? (and printable)

What's on your meal plan for this week? Here's what I've got planned.

Sunday
Chicken pot pie 

Monday
Homemade chicken nuggets with peirogies and mixed veggies

Tuesday
Club sandwiches and soup and tortilla chips

Wednesday
Steaks with baked potatoes and corn

Thursday
Spaghetti with three cheese sauce and green salad

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday
 Herb crusted pork chops with jasmine rice and a  cauliflower/ broccoli mix topped with cheddar cheese


Remember the handy printable weekly dinner menu. It's 8x10 in case you'd like to frame it and use it as a dry erase menu board.  Find out about the benefits of meal planning. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Welcome to The Stay-at-Home Life

Welcome to The Stay-at-Home Life, my brand new blog! I've moved over all my content from the old blog to this new one. Update your bookmarks to the URL for this blog -- www.thesahlife.com -- so you don't miss anything. I'm still working out a few bugs, so be sure to use the "www" in the URL.

I appreciate all your support and am so excited about what is to come. Two giveaways are planned for the near future, along with some guest posts and plenty of new content from me.

I LOVE getting your comments on posts. I read every single one, I promise!
You're always welcome to email me directly at TheStayAtHomeLife at gmail.com or via the Let's Chat tab with questions, comments, feedback, and suggestions. 

You can connect with me, find additional content, and find out when there are new blog posts by following me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

How to Keep Your Phone Charged in Emergencies and On the Go

When you have a smartphone, it seems like the battery just never lasts that long. It doesn't matter what kind you have, if you're doing anything more than making calls, you need to charge your phone often.

When baby B had his accident, I rushed to the hospital. When there's an emergency, you don't take the time to charge your phone, you go. My phone was at 5 perecent and I had to make calls to family and friends to find someone to watch M2 quickly, hoping everyone would answer, and without even being able to give much detail. I didn't have the battery power to do more. A's phone was totally dead so also useless.

A few years ago, we had the power go out for days in our area. The only way to charge a phone would be to sit in the car with it running, wasting gas. There have been numerous times when I was out and my phone started to die.

Enter the portable power bank. Really, I should have gotten one of these long before now. It would have been beyond helpful when baby B was hurt and even just when going out. I got try the K2R-803 portable power bank for free in exchange for this unbiased review.

Per the company, the power bank has an intelligent K2R monitoring system with over-charge, over-discharge, over-current, over-voltage, short-circuit and over-load safety protections so as not to fry your gadgets. The bank comes in a really nice and sturdy box so it can be stored in there when not in use. Size-wise, the bank is perfect. About the size of a pack of Altoids, maybe a bit bigger. The weight is light as well, just enough to let you know it's not cheap or junky without being so heafty it's a pain to carry with you. You can tell it's a quality product, not a cheap knock-off device. 

I was excited to see that it comes with two cords that light up to let you know when your phone is charging then full. One is for iPhone5 and one that says it is suitable for most androids, cameras, and other devices. Sadly, and very disappointingly, it doesn't work with Samsung Galaxy phones. As Samsung is the top phone next to the iPhone, I would have expected the android cord to work with it. Instead, I have to have my house cord with me in order to use the power bank--not handy at all and if I lost the cable, I'd be screwed. I'll probably end up buying another cable from Samsung. It does work with my Kindle and the lights on the cable are handy for charging the bank itself.

The power bank has four LED lights on the back that flash to let you know how much charge is left. Charging my S5, only one light went out so you should be able to get 3-4 charges from it. There's also a built in flash light to use in a pinch. The downside is it doesn't have the AC adapter to charge the power bank with, just the cord to plug into one. That means you can't charge the bank without using an adapter from another device or your computer. Not convenient.

What's handy is that you can charge two devices at once. The power bank charges quickly, equal to or maybe even faster than an outlet. It can sit unused about three months without being charged again. It comes with a three year warranty, just in case something goes kaput.

Overall, I recommend the K2R-803 power bank. Really, everyone should have a portable power bank, you don't want to be stuck in a situation like I was without one. Had we had this, both of us could have charged our phones (more than once) and made all the needed calls without worry.


Affiliate links are included in this post. You can find the disclosure and policy here. I received this product at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Your experiences may differ. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Candy Sans Sugar

I don't know about you, but in our house, we're trying to cut back on the sugar and eat more healthy. So many foods are full of sugar now it's hard to avoid. Especially when you have a sweet tooth like I do. What's a mama to do when you want to avoid sugar?

Ice Chips Candy is one alternative you can try. I tested them in exchange for this unbiased review. Ice Chips Candy was first featured on the show Shark Tank, where the hosts loved it. It's an all-natural candy developed by Charlotte Clary and Bev Vines-Haines when they wanted to make a candy for their 41 grandkids and their diabetic friends. The company touts it as being tasty, healthy, good for your teeth, and safe for diabetics as it has a very low glycemic index.


It's made using xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol and natural flavors, like cinnamon, berry, root beer, licorice, peppermint, and lemon (the ones I tried). I love the flavors, they taste real unlike the usual fake, overly sweet candy flavors you usually find. The name Ice Chips is fitting--the candy looks like chips of ice. The color varies depending on the flavor but all look like ice. Very neat!

I really like the candy. It's enough to satisfy my sweet tooth with a few pieces, without all the calories and sugar I'm trying to avoid. I totally recommend trying it. You can buy packs and search for stores that carry the candy on the Ice Chips website.


You can find our disclosure and policy here. I received this product at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Your experiences may differ. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Budget

For me, going to the grocery store is one of the few things that I (usually) get to do alone. It's my break from the kids for some time alone. Lately, it's been getting more stressful. Every month, the grocery prices seem to just go up and it gets harder to stick to my budget (read how to set, determine, and follow a budget in seven easy steps).

How are we supposed to feed our families without going broke in the process? Here are some ideas to make your grocery budget go farther, without buying a ton of processed foods. These tips are helpful whether you're trying to build up your savings, stay on budget, or cut back so you can stay on budget.

1. Have a meatless meal once a week or more. We incorporate salads, roasted veggies and quinoa, beans, and various pastas to achieve this goal. Black beans and rice is a great way to do this.
2. Stretch your meat. Make the meat you do eat stretch by loading up on veggies, fruits, and beans either by using them as fillers or as the meal's focal point. Check out my apple carrot turkey burgers and Southwestern taco salad to get an idea of how to do this.
3. Buy clearance meat. Stores usually mark down meat that's close to it's sell by date. Scout out the stores and stock up. Pay attention to price, though, as sometimes even clearance meat is still pricey (especially beef). Watch the quality as well, sometimes the meat is really fatty of off color so not worth the price even on clearance.
4. Buy in bulk. Often, the larger packages of foods, such as beans, rice, potatoes, cereal, etc., are cheaper when you buy a larger bag. If you're able to use it all before it expires, buy the larger bag. Buy whole chickens when they're on sale then use the leftovers in other recipes or freeze it. If it'll just go to waste, though, skip it.
5. Look for sales on items you usually buy and work your shopping around them. Avoid buying things that aren't on sale when possible. Though, never buy meat that isn't on clearance. Shop for fruits and veggies that are in season to save more. Often, bigger bags of fruit rather than picking out of bins saves you money. Around holidays, scout out the meat that's popular for that holiday and stock up the freezer.
6. Stock up when you do find items on sale. You can freeze many foods, such as meat, butter, and bread for later.
7. Plant a veggie garden. Growing your own is a great way to save money. Focus on the staples you eat regularly.
8. Buy frozen veggies. Canned is also cheaper, but not as good. Frozen veggies have all the same nutrients, taste as good, last longer, and are cheaper than fresh.
9. Look for the dented fruit and bread bins at the grocery store. Not all stores have them, and even then it's hit and miss (some can even be more expensive) but it's worth a look.
10. Price compare. Keep an eye on the items you buy most at various stores and see what store has it cheaper. Remember to factor in how far the store is and figure out if it's worth it to drive for just a few items that may be cheaper at the other store.
11. Make extra food to have for lunches through the week and to take to work. That way, you're not eating out and spending more or buying pre-made foods. Be sure to use up the leftovers, though, or you'll waste money instead.
12. Buy store brand. The off brands, except on rare occasions, are cheaper than name brands. Often this is the case even when using coupons.
13. Cut back on juice/soda/chips/cookies. Those items add up and cut into the money you have for other foods.
14. Buy fish in bags rather than fresh. If you're a seafood eater, this one cuts your costs. I buy 2 pound packs of individually frozen salmon and tilapia portions. The individual portions also help me track how much we're eating and not make too much.
15. Avoid pre-made or prepared foods, like roast chickens, baby carrots, and other convenience foods that just eat up your budget.
16. Bake your own bread. Unless you buy the regular white or wheat store brands, which aren't as healthy, you can most likely save baking your on bread. Plus, it'll be healthier and fresher.
17. Cook at home. This is a big one and really the most important of all. Eating out costs more than cooking your own at home and it eats up your budget faster than anything. If you eat out often, none of the other tips matter as you'll still be spending lots on food each month.

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