Monthly Archives:

June 2017

Life Sure Gets in the Way! What I Have Been Up To…

I’ve been preoccupied for the last week or so with school work, specifically finishing up my final projects for class. In case you didn’t know, I’m an online college student. Next week is the beginning of my last semester! You have no idea how excited I am about finishing my BA in Early Childhood Development. It feels like it’s been forever since I decided to return to college but I can say this journey has been life changing, in a really good way.

Guess What? Our Steam Oven Finally Works!

The big news in my household is that after over a year we have a working steam oven! Mind you, I have zero experience with steam ovens. Actually, this is a convection steam oven. When we were doing our kitchen remodel (HERE), I saw the Thermador steam oven in a few kitchen galleries. I was told that the convection steam oven could do everything a microwave could do except reheat coffee and pop popcorn.

From the beginning, the convection steam oven was a lesson in frustration. Every time I tried to use the steam only function it never seemed to work right. Everything else about the oven worked fine, so I assumed I was doing something wrong. I got distracted with life, and it wasn’t until March that I realized that the oven, and not me, were the issue. After many twists and turns, including having the oven replaced with a new one, we found out that the electricians had not followed the electrical specs and the issue was the wiring to the oven.

I can finally say that steam ovens ARE amazing! Most restaurants utilize steam ovens in their kitchens. Often, they prepare much of their meals ahead of time and use steam ovens to reheat the food when it’s ordered. Steam ovens are able to reheat foods so that the food tastes freshly made. We have used it a number of times in the last week and love the results! I will definitely be sharing some steam oven recipes and experiences with you in the coming months.

Back to the 80s!

I took a little time out from schoolwork on Sunday and Monday for an out-of-town concert at Vino Robles in Paso Robles, CA. We went with my sister and her husband. It was a blast back to the 80s (at least for me, further back for some others) with Don Felder, from The Eagles, REO Speedwagon, and Styx. Here are a few photos we took:

My hubby and I with my sis and her hubby
Don Felder from The Eagles
Styx was amazing!
It’s What’s For Dinner

Since I discovered that most corn tortillas have no sodium, I have been making more Mexican food. Tonight, it was Beef Taquitos (baked!) and the night before it was Chicken Tacos. I’ve already gone through a container of Mrs. Dash’s Fiesta Lime Seasoning. Pasta is another item that I discovered has no sodium. So look for more pasta recipes in the following weeks, along with foods from the steam oven.

Beef Taquitos with Guacamole
It’s Time for “Worth the Splurge?” Again

I’m working on another installment of “Worth the Splurge?” I’m still trying to narrow down the possibilities on what the post will be about. Should I do it on clothing? A handbag? An appliance? Household décor? Makeup? Haircare? Put your requests in below!

New Challenges To Face?? Bring Them On!

I thought I would share a challenge I am facing. We all face challenges in life and they’ve ultimately helped make us into who we are today. Stronger, wiser, smarter, and more adaptive.

Recently, I was diagnosed with Ménière’s (or Meniere’s) Disease.

I’d never heard of Meniere’s Disease until about two months ago. It is a chronic, incurable vestibular (inner ear) disorder that causes episodes in which you feel as if you’re spinning (vertigo), fluctuating hearing loss with a progressive, permanent loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and fullness or pressure in your ear.

The disease is rare, affecting only .2% of the population. I’ve actually had symptoms of Meniere’s for a year, but it wasn’t until early April – after our Caribbean cruise – that my symptoms became acute.

Here are two visuals. Your ear and auditory system is on the left. The visual on the right is a close up, cross-section of the blue portion on the left.


The Effects of Meniere’s


The diagnosis required me to make immediate lifestyle and dietary changes. I adopted a low-sodium diet (less than 1500 mg of sodium a day) and eliminated caffeine and alcohol. Whether I’ll be able to enjoy my usual glass of wine is up in the air. When my symptoms are manageable, I’ll be able see if it affects my symptoms. I also have to carefully monitor my water and potassium intake due to the diuretic I am taking.

I’m Still Gonna Be Me!

The reason I’m going into all this is twofold. The first, is to be real with what is going on with me and my life. When we see people’s blogs it often appears that they have the perfect life. I certainly don’t. But I do love my life, even with this curveball I’ve been thrown.

The second is that the recipes I’ll be posting going forward will be a little different from what I’ve posted before. I will be adding a lower-sodium option for all of my recipes (unless they are already low-sodium). I’ll need to tweak some of my favorite foods, like pizza, to find a way to make them lower in sodium. Maybe I’ll have to settle for veggie pizza, without cheese? Cheese has a lot of sodium. In fact, reading nutrition labels and studying restaurant nutrition facts is mind-blowing. Many restaurant meals have over 2500 mg of sodium!

Wait..That Means No Coffee?!

Giving up caffeine was hard. I treasured my morning cup of coffee. Now, I usually have a cup of herbal tea. A few months ago, I discovered Great Earth’s Sweet & Spicy tea and I’m obsessed with it! It’s so good, caffeine free, and doesn’t contains any sugar. It reminds me Fireball, except it’s alcohol-free. It makes a great iced tea, too.

Another challenge with my new diet is finding low-sodium and no added salt foods. Have you ever looked at the sodium content in canned foods? Sheesh. I’ve been pleased to find many no-salt canned foods. Especially black beans, white beans, and pinto beans. They’re high in potassium, which is essential to my new diet.

I also need to spread out my minimal sodium consumption throughout the day. That is something I have to keep in mind when meal planning.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Last weekend, I cleaned out my pantry and fridge. Out went the sodium-filled canned goods in my pantry. I replaced them with my new, no-salt added ones. That night, I made awesome lower-sodium Italian Sausage Spaghetti. I don’t know exactly how much sodium was in the Italian sausage because I bought it at our local university’s farm store.

For the recipe, I used the sausage, Pomi tomatoes, dried Italian seasoning, garlic, two tablespoons of double-strength tomato paste, and a cup of water to make the spaghetti sauce. I let it simmer on the stove for almost 3 hours. Then I added in some gluten-free noodles and we had a great dinner. I skipped making garlic bread. There’s a lot of sodium in bread and I knew there was already some in the Italian sausage. I felt it was a good trade-off.

For more information on Meniere’s Disease:

Are you having challenged in your life recently? Post your comments below 🙂

Family Fun With Mason and Dillon

We have had some family fun with our little grandsons, Mason and Dillon, over the past month. We watch them a few days a week, and these two together are the definition of fun! I thought I’d share some of our more memorable moments.

We Found A Baby Frog!

The cutest moment has certainly been this video I made of Mason hopping like a baby frog! We were at the park last week when we found a baby frog. After watching it hop around in the grass, Mason decided he wanted to hop like it!


At the Park
Family Fun
At the park a few weeks ago
Family Fun
Grandpa helps Mason on the jungle gym
Doing the “fitness trail” last week
At Play in the Backyard
Family Fun
Playing with play dough
Family Fun
Team work
Around Our Neighborhood
Our neighborhood ducks, in a neighbor’s front yard. We enjoy seeing the momma and her 8 ducklings as they wander up and down the street.


Out for a ride


Hope you enjoyed my cuteness post today. These guys are a hoot, that’s for sure!

Summer Means Shorts, Sundresses, and Sandals!

I love getting new shoes for the season! Before I moved, I could pretty much wear the same shoes year around. I lived in a coastal climate and no matter how warm it got (most days were around 70 degrees) in the summer, you always needed a sweater or jacket and warm shoes in the evening. Now that I live where it is hot and dry during the summer, from late May to late October, I wear shorts or a sundress and sandals every day. So, I’ve had fun getting new sandals and flip-flops for summer because they get pretty worn by November.

Here for your viewing pleasure, are some of the sandals I’ve ordered and will be keeping or returning. I love Nordstrom for this very reason. Free shipping both ways. All of the shoes below were ordered from I’ll tell you how they fit and feel, and why they’re staying or going.

My first score of the season, besides the Gucci shoes I got over Mother’s Day weekend (see, were these cute blue Tory Burch sandals. They were on sale and who doesn’t love a good sale? They’re a gorgeous shade of blue and I’ve never owned a pair of Tory Burch shoes before. My sister has a few pairs and they always look great on her, so I decided to order them.

Tory Burch Miller Sandals

Summer Sandals


I love the way they look! They are well-make with nice stitching and metal fittings. They feel too narrow, though, under the middle of my foot. The straps around my foot fit perfectly. I’m usually a smaller size 8, but I think I would need to try on a size 8.5 to see how they fit. They also feel a little thin under my feet and don’t have any arch support. I really need arch support with flat shoes. Since they were on sale, and no longer available in the other size, I am RETURNING these.

I have seen these next sandals all over Instagram this season. They looked so cute, I rushed to Nordstrom’s website to order them while I could. I was sad they were sold out in pink, but then I realized that I am waaaaay too hard on shoes to get them in pink. So black it was.

Valentino Rockstud Sandal Slides

The angle of this shot doesn’t do the shoes or my feet any justice! These slides have a lot of cushion to them. They look fun and a little edgy with the rockstuds. Unfortunately, they fit oddly on me. I’m not sure exactly why. I wish I could give them a few days to see how they mold to my foot, but for the cost, I’m not going to chance it. Something else I considered is I read that the materials they’re made of can cause your foot to sweat in the heat. And, honestly, for the price I should love them more. RETURNING

Then, I saw these next sandals for 40% off. Since the Tory Burch blue sandals were going back, I still wanted a blue pair of sandals. There’s a lot of outfits in my closet that would go well with navy slides. So, I ordered them.

Vince Villaire Slides


This time I noticed on the website that they run a little big, so I went down a half a size and they fit perfectly. I believe they have leather insoles and suede on the top. So soft and luxurious feeling on my feet. Took the tags off immediately and they are mine. KEEPERS.

Btw, I should have applied scotchguard to the trim around them because after a morning at the park with my grandsons this is how they looked:

Summer Sandals

Fortunately, they seem to have cleaned up pretty well with a little laundry detergent and water.

I tried these on at Macy’s a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t sure which colors of shoes I was going to go with this year. Then I saw them online and decided I needed a black pair of flip-flops for the pool.

Clarks Arla Glison Flip Flop


They came the other day and were instantly elevated to everyday shoes! My floors are all hardwood over cement, so I always wear slippers or flip-flops around the house. I’m not sure what the insoles are made of, but they keep your feet in place which will be great on those 100 degree days. They are also cushiony and supportive. The straps have a little stretch to them and are a nylon type of material so they’re perfect poolside. I had a pair of Clark flip-flops for years that I literally wore out because they were so darned comfortable. I am so glad I’ve been able to replace them with these. KEEPERS.

Yesterday, the UPS man delivered the last pair of shoes I’ve ordered in the past two weeks or so. When I ordered them, I forgot about the Clark’s black flip-flops that were coming. But these seemed like they might be a little dressier.

Fly London ‘Wigg’ Platform Wedge Slide

Summer Sandals

Earlier today, I opened them up and tried them on. They are well-made and comfortable. The insole is contoured and suede, and it really cushions my foot well. They have a nice heel, and interesting color contrasts on the sides. But, as you can probably see from the pic, they’re a little too big. I think they are worth trying in a smaller size, though. They are just too nice not to EXCHANGE.

Just a reminder that my site received no compensation for any of my posts. My reviews are all my own opinions and experiences.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my shoes review. Please subscribe to my blog! There’s a box on the upper right side to do so.

Small Changes Can Make A Huge Impact

20 Small Changes You Can Make

You might think making small changes may not always make a difference, but it can be quite the opposite. Believe it or not, Beautycounter was started by one woman who decided to make small changes in her life. Years ago, Beautycounter Founder & CEO Gregg Renfrew felt the need to make small adjustments to improve her home, diet, and lifestyle. These small changes eventually led to her creating the movement for better beauty.

We wanted to learn more about small changes that others have made in their lives, so we asked! Read on and find out the best tips you shared with us.

Small Choices


1. Choose a safer detergent. Skin is your body’s largest organ and it absorbs everything you put on it, including the detergent you use on the clothes you wear every day. Some detergents can be made from potentially harmful ingredients that your skin may, in turn, come into contact with. Check the EWG for a list of safer detergent options.

2. Choose glass over plastic. Some plastics contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) which the FDA has issued hazardous health warnings about. So instead of using plastic containers, go for glass. It won’t leach toxins into food and, because it’s reusable, it helps minimize waste.

3. Keep your shoes at the door. The bottoms of your shoes are dirty! Wearing them inside can increase your exposure to dust, lead, bacteria, and pollutants that could lead to health problems.

4. Opt for fragrance-free or essential oil-scented home products. It’s a good practice to avoid products scented with synthetic fragrances. When “fragrance” is listed as an ingredient, it’s usually a blend of various chemical compounds, many of which are common allergens or have links to hormone disruption. And since are they protected as trade secrets, there is no way to know for sure what ingredients are in the formulas.

5. Swap out dryer sheets for wool dryer balls. Wool what? These reusable dryer balls are a great option to reduce waste and exposure to potentially harmful toxins and hormone disruptors found in synthetic fragrances. If you want your clothes to smell fresh, just add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil to the dryer ball before use.


1. Buy organic. Some fruits and vegetables have a thinner skin, meaning they have a higher risk of absorbing harmful chemicals from pesticides. If buying everything organic isn’t in your budget, prioritize! Check out EWG’s dirty dozen list for fruits and veggies with the highest risk of pesticide exposure.

2. Shop local when possible. Farmer’s markets not only support the community, but also help the environment by reducing the carbon footprint from shipping. But don’t worry if you can’t make it to the market. There are services like CSA or Farm Fresh to You that will deliver boxes of organic produce from local farms to your doorstep.

3. Ditch the microwave. Microwaves work by converting water molecules at very high frequencies into steam to heat food, which ends up distorting food’s chemical structure. Stove and oven cooking are safer alternatives.

4. Replace non-stick with stainless steel. Although non-stick pans are easier to clean, they may be more hazardous to your health and the environment. PTFE (polytetrafluoroetheylene) is used for non-stick coating, which can release chemical fumes at high temperatures. These surface particles and toxic gases may work their way into your food and the air. Choose stainless steel instead!

5. Give Meatless Monday a try. Meat production causes deforestation, freshwater use, and greenhouse gas emissions. To counter all that madness, Meatless Monday is a worldwide campaign that encourages going meat-free for just one day a week to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and chronic illness. Not to mention it positively affects your health, and it’s better for the planet.

Conscious Living

1. Take shorter showers. The longer the shower, the more water and energy resources are depleted. Pure, clean water is necessary for life. It protects wildlife, supports cities, reduces pollution, and conserves fuel resources. So keep those showers short!

2. Walk and bike when possible. Skip the car and reduce your carbon footprint. Walking and biking help increase your cardiovascular function, reduce stress, and contribute to overall well-being.

3. Make time to meditate. Studies show that by unplugging daily, meditating, and focusing on your breath, you can reduce anxiety, stress, negative emotions, blood pressure, and even change your brain function. Plus, it gives you a little extra time to reflect.

4. Add indoor plants for cleaner air. Did you know that the air we breathe indoors can be polluted if there’s not proper ventilation? Plants are an easy way to purify air inside. Try a bamboo palm, spider plant or aloe vera and breathe in the cleaner air.

5. Carry reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags are overwhelmingly destructive to the environment: They suffocate wildlife, block soil nutrients, or fill up landfills where they never decompose. An estimated 300 million plastic bags wind up in the Atlantic Ocean alone, creating one of the biggest problems for the sea life. Canvas, cotton, or jute fiber are a few sturdy reusable bag alternatives.


1. Use safer sunscreen. Instead of using a potentially harmful sunblocker like oxybenzone, our Sun Protection Collection uses non-nano zinc oxide, an effective mineral that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and hasn’t been found to be dangerous to the ocean ecosystem. We also use hydrating aloe, antioxidant-rich, free-radical fighting green tea and blood orange extracts, and moisturizing coconut oil to nourish and protect skin.

2. Wash your hair less often. Save water, use less product and train your hair to be less greasy. It may sound counterintuitive, but giving your hair enough time to naturally produce oils instead of stripping them by shampooing too frequently will ultimately lead to less oil production.

3. Choose cloth instead of paper. Tissues and paper towels come from trees (obviously). Chlorine bleach is used to whiten the tree pulp and isn’t eco-friendly. Save paper and opt for a cloth towel to clean with, dry hands or wipe your nose. P.S. handkerchiefs are making a comeback.

4. Know the ingredients. Information is one of the most powerful factors in any purchasing decision. At Beautycounter, we handpick every ingredient that goes into our products using an industry-leading screening and testing procedures. You can learn more about the ingredients we use to formulate our products and everything we prohibit on The Never List™.

5. Choose essential oils over perfume. Essential oils are natural products extracted from plants with aromatic properties, and some have added benefits to address various emotional and skin concerns. Avoid perfume as it usually contains synthetic fragrances, a blend of various chemical compounds, many of which are common allergens or have links to hormone disruption.

This post is shared from The Asterisk blog at If you have questions about Beautycounter’s safer products, email me HERE or view our product line HERE.

What small changes have you made in your life? Share them in the comments below: