Archive | May, 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Recipe #4: Chicken and Dumplings

31 May


Quarter 1 package of BSCB and place them in the pot with 2 tbsp butter, 2 cans of cream of chicken, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder.

Add about half a can of water (or half and half, or a mix of the two), just enough to cover the chicken.

Cook on high for 5 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.

For the last hour of cooking time, add in torn pieces of biscuit dough (2 rolls worth).

For a healthier option, you can use fat free soup and low fat biscuit dough. Serve this with egg noodles.

My adaptations:

I used only water, but I did use full fat soup and biscuits (I try to watch sodium more so than fat). BTW, it’s unclear what exactly a “package” of chicken is in this recipe…but with two whole cans of soup I assumed it was a bag, not a tray.

Level of Ease:

1–the soup had pull-tabs and I didn’t bother quartering the chicken. (I keep telling you not to underestimate my laziness).

Level of Tastiness:

3/4 (we had a divergence of opinions)

Kitchen Notes:

So, I forgot about putting in the biscuit dough until it was almost done. Oops. So I just baked them in the oven the regular way and served the chicken over them. Honestly, I can’t imagine putting something that already has two cans of dough in it over egg noodles–carb city. If I were to do this again, I would go big with the biscuits: big as in high quality. At least the kind that come in the bag frozen as opposed to canned. I would also add some veggies to this, maybe peas and carrots (not corn–ugh, stop the madness), to make it more like a pot pie. P liked it more than I did, and T only ate a little, but not because he didn’t like it. He was really busy putting the dinosaurs in a line that day.


To BB, or not to BB? (and instead CC)

23 May

The BB train came over from Asian a few years ago, but I only got on board late last year after a recommendation from a real person as opposed to an advertisement. Then, right as I was coming near the end of my first tube, I get a sample of CC lotion in my monthly Birchbox. Hold up now.

What is that? What’s the difference? Which is better? Why does my makeup tray look like alphabet soup?

OK, I know about BBs, aka beauty balms. Depending on the brand, they do a whole bunch of stuff: moisturize, prime, cover, provide anti-aging benefits and sun protection. They’re perfect for the lazy days of summer (or if you’re like me, the lazy days of all year). So what’s a CC…Cute Cream?

To find out, I turned to the expert panel: Google. Turns out that CC stands for color correcting (ohhhhhhh), and it’s supposed to address skin tone issues like redness, sallowness, etc.

Alright, well, whatever—which one is better?

I put my two samples to the test. (It’s worth saying here that brands vary wildly in their claims and formulas, so don’t expect the results I got here to extend to any other brands).

Option A: (or should I say, B? heh heh)

Name: Garnier BB Cream Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector, UVA/UVB SPF 15, in Light/Medium

Claim: A combination of Hyaluronic Acid, Lipidure Microspheres, and Glycerin improves softness and suppleness of skin for 8 hours. Vitamin C boosts radiance and luminosity while rich mineral pigments smooth skin, even complexion, and give a healthy glow in one use.

Option B/C:

Name: SuperGoop SPF 35 Daily Correct CC Cream in Light to Medium

Claim: It’s a “multivitamin for your skin.” It promotes youthful skin with anti-aging benefits, protects from UVA, UVB, and infrared rays at the highest level, and softens the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and pores. Omega fatty acids reduce inflammation and moisturize.



Check out my earrings. They’re cushion cut. 😉

I’m not really sure why a BB is classified more as a foundation or tinted moisturizer while a CC is a skin corrector. Both blended in absolutely seamlessly on my freckled skin, despite having a slightly different tint coming out of the bottle. In fact, I put one on each half of my face to a side by side comparison for you guys, and you can’t tell the slightest difference from a distance. Both make my skin look nice and smooth with minimal blending and both moisturize at about the same level, which is to say, not quite enough for my dry skin. But happily, neither one is greasy feeling at all—they were both perfectly light feeling for summer but still made me feel “made up.” Neither clogs your pores to excess—take it from the girl who manages to wash her face maybe like, five out of seven nights a week. (Save the lecture).


The BB is definitely thicker (or richer, if you’re a copywriter). It feels a lot more like a lotion. It’s slightly more scented than the CC, but only because the CC has basically zero scent. I infinitely prefer the lotion texture to the fluid texture (like Urban Decay’s BB, which I also sampled); it find it more moisturizing and easier to deal with. The CC cream is slightly dryer, if that makes any sense—kind of like that Neutrogena dry touch sunscreen. It immediately soaks in, so it doesn’t go quite as far as the BB. That’s unfortunate because it costs like 3 times as much. The biggest visible difference is that the CC is matte and the BB is slightly shimmery—light-reflecting particles or whatever.

For realz tho. Which is better?

In the end, I did end up purchasing a full-size bottle of the CC instead of another tube of BB, for two reasons: I prefer the matte look, and the higher SPF.* But in the end, both of these are great choices if you’re looking for a serious facial multi-tasker. There’s really no big difference or preference between BBs and CCs besides advertising. (What’s next, amirite?).

Oh for Pete’s sake.

Oh for Pete’s sake.

*Disclaimer: most dermatologists warn against using a BB or CC as your sunscreen, because you won’t use enough due to the pigment. I say it’s probably adequate for staying indoors all day, and anyway, what the heck is the point of a multi-task product if it doesn’t really multi-task? And if any brand should take the top spot in sun protection, it should be Supergoop, which is first and foremost a sunblock company.

Captain Obvious, reporting for beauty

16 May

Hello again, boys and girls. Thought I’d drop by to give you a valuable beauty tip: although it’s been said, many times, many ways (most of them irritating and all of them cheesy): you really are prettier when you smile.

You see, Cap has been checking I-9s, and after going through a stack of approximately 8,469 driver’s license photos, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the fugly. There’s an even greater correlation between the good and the smiling than there is between the good and the birthday (specifically, its proximity to the current year). Bonus: the effect is the same on both men and women. How many other truly unisex beauty secrets do you know?

CK1, put your hand down and go back to 1995.

That’s what I thought.

Smiles. Cheaper than lipstick, yet harder to come by.

You have this amazingly obvious and obviously amazing insight now, but let’s not get carried away. Janie considers herself fully dressed when she remembers to put on a bra, so zip it Annie.

What I’m Reading: I-guess-I-have-to-actually-parent-now edition

8 May

Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your CoolScreamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My kid isn’t even two yet, but he’s very precocious when it comes to misbehavior. When he started throwing tantrums at the ripe young age of 10 months (what’s next, cigarettes under his bed at 9?), I knew I needed to find a discipline strategy I could live with. For me, that meant no spanking or rule by force, but not letting him run the house either. I grabbed this book along with a stack of others at the local library, and let me tell you, I will be purchasing it to keep forever.

“Scream-free” is a catch-all phrase for reactionary behavior of any kind. Screaming, sure, but also running away, crying (hello, me), or any kind of response based in emotion. It’s a check-yourself-before-you-wreck-yourself kind of theory.

The root philosophy is that you can’t control any other person besides yourself, even a very small person. Nor would you want to, if you want that little person to grow up self-sufficient and responsible. Runkel clearly and simply explains strategies for taking a step back from bad behavior, turning everything into a learning experience for yourself first, so that your children can learn from you. He talks about being responsible TO your children instead of FOR your children, releasing you of the burden of micro-managing them (and releasing them of the burden of keeping you happy and calm).

Thankfully, it’s not a NO-discipline book: he advocates laying down basic expectations and boundaries, and enforcing or allowing natural consequences of not meeting those. But the child has their own age-appropriate freedom within wider limits that you set. There’s no training techniques reminiscent of housebreaking a dog, or comparing children to lab rats (both things I have actually read in other parenting books), and there’s no reverse psychology or any other mind-messing stuff.

One of the tenets of Scream-Free Parenting is sure to be point of contention: that children should have privacy. There is a strong vein of thought among modern parents that children living at home do not have a right to privacy of any kind, up to and including diaries and emails, due to safety concerns. While I do totally understand that point of view, and I do think keeping your child safe is your first job as a parent, I disagree that that is best accomplished by being all up in every aspect of their lives. Maybe it’s because my own parents allowed me age-appropriate privacy without my even asking, which filled me preteen soul with grateful relief. And while I’m sure I did and wrote some things that would they would worry about or disapprove of, I never got into serious trouble as a kid. Their trust made me want to be trustworthy. I compare it to punching in on a time clock at work. Studies have suggested that micromanaging a worker’s time makes that employee less loyal and more likely skirt the rules. In other words, empowering an individual results in better choices and self-motivation. I think the same applies to children.

All in all, the idea is to begin with the end in mind, which is something I latched on to even when I was preggers. The end, in this case, is the kind of adult your want your child to become. If you want your child to learn to play games (like one book I read that suggested when your kid misbehaves, deny them the next time they want something without explanation, and wait until they figure out the two are connected), then you trick or bribe him into behaving well. If you want your child to learn to take responsibility for his actions, you let consequences happen. (You got a speeding ticket? You have to use your savings to pay it instead of buying a new iThing).  Above all, you don’t let your child’s actions and feelings determine your own, or dictate the emotional climate of your home.

I do think this book is most helpful for parents of older children (like the above)–there’s not a lot that would be extremely useful for toddler-specific behavior problems. All the same, I’ve very glad I read it BEFORE my child is a teenager, so I’m prepared. Plus, since it’s a parenting philosophy and not a bag of tricks, it truly pertains to parents of all ages. In fact, it describes a way of relating to others that could be applied to anyone in your life, from friends to parents to spouses. Did I agree with every single thing he said? No. But you get the feeling reading it that you are more than capable of figuring out what works for you and chucking the rest. I truly am inspired to be a better parent after reading this book.

View all my reviews