Taco Soup

When I cook the key things I think about are convenience and quickness. A few years ago I found a recipe on Pinterest for taco soup, and I fell in love. Over the years I have made my own tweaks and improvements, perfecting the taco soup.

Ingredients:

Toppings:

  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tortilla chips

Instructions:

Place all of the ingredients into large pot. Fill one of the emptied tomato cans with water and mix in with ingredients. Cover pot with lid and place on medium/high heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until hot. (If you are not in a rush for dinner you can put the pot on low/medium heat for 1-2 hours and then reheat for dinner for additional flavor.)

If you want to freeze the soup for a later date, let cool before putting into containers. To serve hot, fill a bowl and put a large spoon full of sour cream in the center. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the soup and finish by crushing a few tortilla chips over the top!

This is a very simple recipe with no prep! I have made this soup for a ton of people and everyone loves it (even those who don’t normally like beans). I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, let me know what you think in the comments below!

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~ljd

Raw Bars

You may have heard of a blogger named Song of Style or Aimee Song. A few months ago Aimee started to make what she called Raw Bars and she posted her own how to video on how to make them (without measurements though!) So I decided to take matters into my own hands and give you guys a step by step with measurements, so that you too can make these very healthy and yummy bars at home!

Ingredients:

  • Quick oats (or half whole oats and half quick) – 2 cups
  • Chia Seeds – 1/4 of a cup
  • Walnuts – 1/3 cup chopped
  • Sunflower seeds – 1/4 cup
  • Coconut oil – 1/3 cup (or two large table spoons)
  • Pinch of salt (pepper optional)
  • Dates – Pitted (12 large or 15 small)
  • Coconut flakes – Sprinkled on the top (I used bigger coconut pieces but the choice is up to you!)

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cover the bottom of a large baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with a little bit of olive oil.
  3. In a large bowl mix oats, chia sees, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and coconut oil. If coconut oil is hard put in microwave for a few seconds until soft. Work in the coconut oil with your hands removing any chunks.
  4. Pour the oat mixture onto the baking sheet and place into the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove the pan and mix the oats around. Place back in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Once golden brown remove the oat mixture from oven and let cool.
  6. Once cooled, cut dates into small pieces and squish into the oat mixture.
  7. In an 8×8 pan lined with parchment, put mixture into the pan and press down firmly.
  8. Sprinkle coconut flakes over the top and lightly press into the bars.
  9. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours or until solid.
  10. Cut into rectangles or triangle bars and place into a container or wrap with parchment.

And there you have it! Super easy and healthy “Raw bars”. You can choose to keep the bars on the counter or in the fridge depending on if you want them room temperature or cold!

 

Let me know if you try the recipe and how it worked out for you!

~ljd

Start Focusing on the Good Stuff

Have you ever noticed how much time people spend on their phones? Or how much time you spend on yours? Recently I was sitting in a cafe with my mom, drinking lattes and eating croissants and as I watched people walking down the street I noticed people staring at their phones.

I continued looking out the window and groups of twos, threes, and fours would walk by and at least one person was on their phone while the others talked. I couldn’t believe that on such a beautiful day and spending time with friends or family that some people cared more about whatever was going on online.

I brought the topic up to my mom and she had an amazing thing to say. “Imagine you pay a couple hundred bucks to go and see your favorite singer in concert. Some people are so worried about getting the perfect picture or video that they aren’t even paying attention to the actual concert. Why spend a lot of money on someone you want to see in real life , when you are still looking at them through a screen.”

A few weeks ago I forgot my laptop in Wheatley and for an entire week I didn’t have it in Toronto. I could not believe how many situations I was in where I was like “Wow I wish I had my laptop right now!” The amount of time I spent on the internet is horrible, so I’ve tried to make it a mission to spend less time in the virtual world and more time focusing on the real one. Try putting your phone down and going for a walk, or hanging out with friends (sans cellphone!). Once I started focusing on the good stuff I felt at ease. I wasn’t trying to take the perfect picture, I had no one to impress on social media, I was actually there in the moment. Life is short so instead of walking down the street with phone in hand try talking to your friends.

This weekend I encourage everyone to take a break from the internet, from facebook, from texting. Put your phone, iPad , or laptop down for just a few minutes and enjoy the good view.

~ljd

Why it’s Important Companies Have Good Customer Service

I can without a doubt name my favourite customer service agents for companies. Lululemon, Starbucks, Otterbox. When I am buying a product, I want to know that if something goes wrong or I am unhappy with its service, that the company will step in and try to help me. I’m not going to lie, I complain a lot. Like a lot, a lot. People in my family even ask me to complain for them because they know I will get them results (which is true, I do get results).

I actually enjoy buying a good quality product that I can recommend to people. If this product is $100 and the generic product is $10, if I know that the $100 product will go with me in the long run and if something did happen to it, customer service would help me out, then you can be darn tooting that’s the one I’m buying. I never cheap out, ever.

Over the past few years, Lululemon has been offering new fabrics (luon or mesh tights), some of which I have not liked. In the summer I had purchased a pair of tights with mesh, and after one wear the mesh started to rip. After a quick chat through customer service, the agent was happy to send me a gift card for the full price of the tights (you have to send the ripped tights back to the company). Even if the prices of their tights range from about $60-120, I don’t mind spending a little extra money knowing that I am going to be getting a good quality tight. And if not? Customer service will find the best solution to make you happy.

The key thing I tell people is that big companies pay people to help you. So if you ever have a question about products or services, it’s only a quick email or call away. As my mom always says, it never hurts to ask. If you feel entitled to a certain quality or service, then let the company know how they performed. All in all, don’t skip out on products because most of the time they will disappoint you in the end. If spending a few extra dollars means a guarantee for a good product or customer service, then to me it is with it 100%.

~ljd

Valentine’s Day From a Very Special Guest

I am a hopeless romantic. A new “Hallmark” movie, a wedding, sweet whispers, a crooning love song, holding hands, secret giggles or stolen kisses, all set my heart a flutter and have me swooning like a lovesick teen. So needless to say I love Valentines Day. The house is decorated and plans are falling into place.

It is really unclear who this Valentine fellow was, apparently there were a few St. Valentines, some a whole lot worse than others. I think I’m going to stick with the one from 270AD who went against the Emperor of the day, he absolutely forbid marriages, but Valentine thought this was unfair and performed Christian marriages in secret. AHHHH!!! But he was caught, jailed and beheaded for the act. Okay I can do without the whole beheading thing but to risk one’s life for love wow!

There is so much chatter about how commercial the day has become, really, a special day to express your love, who can disagree with that. And if it comes with roses, chocolate, or a sappy card, I say bring it on.

To be honest I capitalized a little this year on the holiday. My niece, Casey, and I have a little cookie business. We don’t make much money at it but we do have a great time together decorating cookies and chatting about how one day we will be the cookie queens! This year we had some orders for Valentine cookies. The kitchen for the last week has been alive with the making, baking and decorating of beautiful heart shaped cookies! Now the cookies are packaged and delivered I am free to start the plans for my Valentine Day.

I love my husband. Celebrating love with him is an honour. Valentines day for us won’t start off much different than any other day. Waking up to the love of my life and sipping tea while trying to balance two puppies on our laps doesn’t necessarily ring signs of romance but oh how sweet it is. Later the dinner table will be set with candles, the good china, and a very fine vintage red. We will enjoy an appetizer of broiled herb and garlic mussels and then move on to a delicious dinner on the raclette, where we will grill our own salmon or steak, baby potatoes, asparagus and top it all off with a our choice of melted cheese . All the while enjoying each others company. While cleaning things up we will ask “Alexa” to play a Leonard Cohen love song and have a dance around the kitchen. The puppies will be yipping to get our attention but for a few moments we will ignore their pleas and be lost in a dance. Later we will have tea and some of the oops cookies. Not too much different from normal, but hopefully at some time during the day we will both take a minute to thank God for His love and for blessing us with each other.

February, even being the shortest month can sometimes drag on. But celebrating a day with the ones you love, watching the Olympics, looking forward to Family Day and getting ready to mark the occasion of Libbey’s 20th birthday help to make February 2018, one exciting month!

Have a wonderful Valentines Day everyone!

Lots of Love

Ivy xo

My Skin Care Routine

Having clean and healthy skin has been something I’ve strived for, for years. Having acne since the start of high school, I tried pretty much every medication and cream you could think of. some of which worked for a month or two and then my skin went back to being acne filled and dry. Today I am going to show you the products that I use to keep my face clean and healthy! (This may not clear up your acne, but these are the products that have worked for me in the past year.)

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First up is Avène Eau Thermale – Micellar Lotion

Where to buy: Amazon.ca 200mL bottle for $49.67 (pictured is a 400mL bottle), Shoppers Drug Mart 

Micellar water is a great way to clean your face of any grease, left over make up of dirt that has collected in your pores from the day. I usually use this when I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed every night. This leaves your skin feeling clean and refreshed before putting other products on.

There are many different brands of micellar water (some more expensive than others), but some I have used have left my skin feeling greasy dirty. I personally did not like Garnier’s Waterproof Micellar Water which left my skin extremely oily that I had to wash my face after.

A family favorite is Bioderma’s Micellar Water. At Shoppers Drug Mart, you can get 2 x 500mL bottles for $29.99 when they have their special which usually happens every two months. One bottle of this can last about a year depending on how much you use it!

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Next up is Simple Protecting Cream

Where to buy, your local grocery store, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Winners also sells this product occasionally! (Winners had the best price at $6.99)

I use this product twice a day and it has reduced my dry skin problem. This is a very light weight moisturizer and it does not leave your skin feeling greasy in the slightest. For a long time I refused to use moisturizer because I thought it was making my acne worse but it was actually the opposite. Using this moisturizer actually helped make my skin healthy and less dry. Also, this cream has 15SPF so it is perfect for wearing all the time, even in the summer to protect your skin. I recommend this product to everyone!

IMG_5618Finally, Noxema Classic Clean Moisturizing Cleansing Cream

Where to buy, Shoppers Drug Mart or Amazon.ca (Amazon has the best price I’ve found at $6.98)

This is a face wash that cleans and refreshes your skin. It is perfect to remove heavy make up and oil from everyday activities. I usually use this product once every other day so that my skin does not dry out. After every wash, I apply moisturizer to keep my skin fresh. This is the best non-medicated face wash I have found and it helps reduce the redness and size of pimples.

I hope you enjoyed my little skin care routine and I hope you incorporate some of my favorite products into your everyday routine! Let me know what products you have tried and how they worked for you!

~ljd

 

Hair Training

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Hair training might actually be harder than training for a half marathon, but the end result is worth it.

My hair is naturally very shiny but it also gets greasy after one day of wear. I took on the habit of washing my hair every single day to make sure that my hair didn’t look the slightest bit greasy. The only problem is that washing your hair every single day is super unhealthy for it and it can actually make it more greasy. Who knew right?! So for the past few weeks I have started to train my hair, in order to reduce the amount of unhealthy oils it produces and the build up of the oils (which makes it look greasy!).

I am going to take you through the 5 day cleansing process I did. This is the method that has started working on my hair resulting in less oil build up but it may not work for all hair types!

Day 1:

  • Shower in the morning
  • Air dry hair at least 60% and then finish by blow drying
  • Style with as little heat as possible

Day 2:

  • Style with no heat (leaving hair down as is or putting it up)

Day 3:

  • Dry shampoo
  • Bun, pony tail or braid

Pro tip: I find that the best way to hide greasy hair is in braids! You can try two dutch braids or a crown braid to cover your greasy locks!

Day 4:

  • Wash with water
    • This is the step where I have begun experimenting! Some stylists recommend washing your hair with apple cider vinegar and though I haven’t tried this yet I have used fresh lime juice which made my hair extremely soft!
  • Air dry completely
  • Bun, pony tail or braid

Day 5:

Every night sleep with your hair in a high pony tail secured with a scrunchie. This will avoid grease from roots getting to the ends of your hair!

Repeat the steps until you start noticing your hair producing less oil buildup. You can then start to wash your hair after 3 days and it should be more manageable and less greasy then before you started the cleanse!

Let me know what you think about training your hair and if it’s worked for you in the comments below!

~ljd